The Upward Glance and the Lowest Bow

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Try this. Look up at the star filled night sky and say “Allah!”

Don’t ask for anything. It is not a prayer in the usual sense. It is simply invoking the name of God with reverence, out of the quiet blessing of being allowed this miracle of life. So what happens? To me, a calmness comes over my mind and body, as if peaceful endorphins are suffusing my being. And it is not only the uttering of the Name that does it. If you look at a ground when saying it, the effect is not the same.

It is the upward glance, the raising of our eyes to the starry heavens that gives one a sense of the vastness and eternity that is God. This upward glance is perhaps a selfish one, a wanting to know God is watching over you, and that you can call to him as the Friend, though He does not answer in voice.  Yet, it never fails to fill me with hope, and is part of what I had in mind when writing the Intention post.

Now consider the prostration of prayer. How low do you bow your forehead to the ground?

You may think that everyone bows equally low, as all foreheads touch the ground. But do you bow as low as the Prophet (pbuh)? Or Moses, or Jesus (the peace and blessings of God be upon them)

Lately I have been considering the Prophetic Bow.  What causes them to be worthy of God speaking to them and allowing them to actually see Him?  And all I can see as the difference between them and you and me is the quality of their intention through their character. Mercy, kindness, compassion, honesty, generosity, fairness, and love, and the greatest of these is love, which encompasses all the other qualities. Out of love, we are merciful, kind, compassionate, honest, generous, and fair. The more one has these noble traits of character, the closer one is to God-awareness. Perhaps that is the difference in our prostration and theirs. The more we are ruled by our self-absorbed nafs, the harder it is to prostrate completely in submission.

There is a story of the great Hasidic Rabbi, Yisroel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov. Somebody asked him, “Why does nobody seem to see God anymore?” To which he replied, “Because there is nobody left who can bow that low…”

Allah knows the Truth.

Ya Haqq!

27 Responses to The Upward Glance and the Lowest Bow

  1. Abdur Rahman says:

    Salaams Irving bhai,

    Ma sha Allah, a wonderful post! Ya Rabbi! How I wish I could bow that low!

    I know what you mean about the stars. If there were no other proofs, the night sky alone would prove God to me.

    Ma’as salama,
    Abdur Rahman

  2. Maliha says:

    Mashaallah a beautiful post as usual. I will go out tonight with my face to the sky Inshaallah. May we all learn the true meaning of “bowing low.” (amin)

  3. priya says:

    Dear Brother,wish i could bow so low. Thanks a lot for this wonderful and thought provoking post .Yes love is the greatest gift to us given by Him but do we remember that ?

  4. sheikha says:

    mashaALLAH, and thanks for sharing works!!! i always wondered why i was never taught this in madrasah!! i tried it sometime ago and SubhanALLAH, i felt such deep calmness and that i can overcome anything..Ya Haqq

  5. James says:

    I am sending this to my Friends around the world….thank you so much.

  6. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Brothers and Sisters:

    Thank you for the kind and helpful comments. It is a blessing of the modern age that we are able to share such thoughts across the world, and that is the real reason for technology, and the spiritual meaning of progress.

    Ya Haqq!

  7. Suroor says:

    Dear brother Irving, I tried it and broke down! I must have cried for the longest time then I did a looooooong sijda and cried again. I held on to my prayer mat like a child holds on to a mother’s hem and cried so much that I feel much lighter today. Suddenly I wanted God to embrace me, let me wash His feet, let me sit in His shadow. It was a powerful experience. I needed it. And so I thank you!

  8. Sadiq says:

    Because there is nobody left who can bow that low … how true, how sad!

  9. Aisha says:

    wow. This just gave me chills. Thank you so much. (came via suroor)

  10. Salam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakhatu,

    Another wonderful inspiration, brother.

    Even with Prophets,
    Yin and Yang:
    signs for the believers,
    insha Allah.

  11. sunrunner says:

    Irving, this is what *it* is all about! What that *it* is, I don’t have the capacity to say, but I know *it* when I am faced with it, and in that knowing, I know that I don’t have a clue. It is the capacity to sense this sacred mystery which is the gift of our humanity…a word which is a cousin to the word “humble.” We are descended from the heavens (literally made of star-dust), yet fashioned out of the humous (earth).

    When looking skyward and saying Allah…it is hard to to follow with al akhbar!

  12. sf says:

    Salaams Brother Irving,

    How true! An upward glance fills ones heart with hopes of His Mercy and undiminishing Love and the low bows humbling in His sublime submission! May we learn to do these in true and pure devotion!

    Your post brought some lovely memories, which made me cry and smile at the same time…….for me this post is nostalgic in a way as it also reminds me of the calm summer nights in India, as a teenager, when i used to sleep under the starry and moonlit nights watching them while enjoying the gentle breeze of shimmering leaves of the giant Bo(Peepal) tree…..full of awe and in admiration of His magnificence ! SubhanAllah!

    Jazaak Allah Khair

  13. almiskeenah says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    JazakumuLlahu khairan brother Irving, not just for the impact of juxtaposing humility with Divine Grandeur, but also for the stream of poignant comments you have attracted, which extend the impact of your wonderful message.
    Wassalamu alaikum

  14. aprilie says:

    Brother Irving Salaam!

    Congratulations on becoming a grandpa! It’s been so long since I’ve been away that I just found out! InshAllah everything is going great with you and your entire family! And the poem? Indescribably wonderful!

    And I just wish I’m back! Thank you for your comment! I really wish I could write, the fact that I can’t doesn’t or shouldn’t stop me from reading however! ‘Darvish’ is always a source of inspiration. : )
    Thank you so much for sharing Truth and Beauty with us.
    May all your days be filled with Gods Love : )

  15. wonderful post. it is so hard to let go of ourselves isnt it: “to bow that low”?


  16. MerryW says:


    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

    And the beautiful poem “little girls, like butterflies” uplifted my spirits in adoration!

    May the Lord guide us all. Ameen.



  17. Please repeat like these posts. These are really useful!

  18. S.A says:

    Asslamo Alikum

    Mashallah, may Allah give you more, such a wonderful feelings.

  19. squarecut says:

    SO beautiful! MashaAllah… it makes me want to go out and do that, just because I love staring at the celestial bodies anyway. But it’s snowing right now.

  20. Abdul Muneer says:

    Salaam Irving bhai,
    Thank you very much for this post. Indeed this post is a worthy asset for the next world.
    May Allah make us the true followers of our Prophet(SA)
    Abdul Muneer

  21. James says:

    “Rumi Blue”

    The skies console us when deep loss darkens the path.
    The hush wind cleanses all sorrows, listen, a prayerful whispering:
    “There are Friends on this Journey.”

    Ever-shifting shapes of clouds, billowing ripples,
    Waves that crest and fall,
    Upward, inward.

    I see beyond my drowning
    Large shadowy leviathans
    Breaching in the depths of pure sky,
    Revealing a heart afire in airy longing.
    And in the last compass of my wake
    I wonder:
    Who would ever covet the possession
    Of any earthly jewel
    When we are daily and freely given
    A dome full of Eternity’s cerulean pearls?

    I am dissolved and whole.

    I hope you all enjoy this poem. It was written on Dec 16 2006 as a result of an upward glance whilst driving to be with a fellowship of seekers in West Virginia. I was also reminded of Brother Irving’s words this morning as I came into work. The clouds in the east were as I had never seen before — vertical swirls spiraling across the horizon, three shapes like vaporous dancing DNA…it was a sight that prompted a kind of reminder….Read Me in My Wonders…

  22. Irving says:

    What a beautiful poem, dear Brother James :) Read Me in My Wonders. A lovely way of expressing the ineffable.

    In the Qur’an it is written: “We show them the signs, on the horizens, and in themselves.

    Indeed, there are friends on this journey :)

    Ya Haqq!

  23. Haq Islam says:

    Mashallah a very beautiful and informative post.
    May Allah enable our bow to become one full of love.

  24. Love Peace says:

    thank you, dear brother. masha’Allah!

  25. susanne430 says:

    Somebody asked him, “Why does nobody seem to see God anymore?” To which he replied, “Because there is nobody left who can bow that low…”


    Wow, that’s so beautifully stated.

  26. […] Note: See also this previous post, The Upward Glance and the Lowest Bow. […]

  27. Josef Sefton says:

    Dear readers, Is it what we do with our eyes, glancing upward, or with our body, the lowest bow, that are the most important things? I don’t think so, for if it was those who had poor eyesight, before glasses were invented, would have been terribly disadvantaged. Also many people are disabled and or elderly. Their bodies can’t bow low and many even have difficulty staying upright.

    God is truth so when our eyes focus on truth and we make a commitment to truth God will certainly bless us with increased calmness and serenity.

    God exalts those who are humble. He says a broken and contrite spirit I will not despise. If we want to truly bow down low then we need to study diligently, so that God can bless us with increased humility!
    Irving, what you wrote about love is wonderfully true. Thanks for blessing the world with your writing.

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