Not much to say about today’s short section.  I probably should have tacked it onto yesterday’s reading. 

This is as good a place as any other to take notice of a formula we are seeing repeatedly throughout the Qur’an.  Over fifty times at least.  When the Qur’an wants to direct a believer to practice spiritual disciplines and exhibit particular virtues, the Book usually includes these in a loosely constructed formula.  Almost always this formula includes “keeping up regular prayers” and “giving prescribed alms or charity.” 

This is how the formula comes in todays reading:

[People], keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and obey the Messenger, so that you may be given mercy. (24:56)

I did a quick search of how many times this formula appears in the Qur’an and the following list shows the practices or virtues included in the formula and how often:

  • Charitable giving (35x)
  • Prayer (28x)
  • Obey God or the Messenger/Muhammad (9x)
  • Believe . . . in God, the Last Day, angels, the Qur’an, messengers,and/or signs (7x)
  • Faithfully endure suffering (6x)
  • Fear God (5x)
  • Worship (4x)
  • Be fair (2x)
  • Study or read the Qur’an (2x)
  • Be honest (1x)
  • Fast (1x)
  • Be chaste (1x)
  • Live modestly (1x)
  • Live peaceably (1x)
  • Protect the weak (1x)
  • Serve others (1x)
  • Be humble (1x)

What is most interesting is how prayer and charitable giving are the two most prevalent commands.  It seems that foundational to the Islamic way of life is to be prayerful with some degree of regularity and to be a truly giving person.  A pagan showed he had truly turned toward Islam when he did two things: prayer and charity (9:5, 11).  We might think to emphasize so many other practices or virtues but these are the two mainstays of Muslim spirituality. 

Do you see prayer and charitable giving as the two most important habits of a godly person?  Why or why not?