I had epiphany midway through Namaaz-e-Janaazah. My focus shifted now from the actual prayer to the one ultimate truism: that there is only God and He comes before everything else. It’s quite remarkable how the Almighty has a way of reminding you of this. It comes when you least expect it.
When we pray Namaaz-e-Janaazah, the notion is that we’re pray for the deceased. We ask Allah to forgive the person’s sins, that mercy be administered and the transition to the afterlife be one of ease, culminating to an entry in Jannah.
But the reality of the prayer is quite different than perception. You see, the Namaaz-e- Janazah doesn’t actually begin by praying for the deceased. The prayer itself is comprised of one rakah with 4 takbeerat. The first takbeer is followed by a praise of Allah and a recitation of the Fatiha. Then after the second takbeer, we pray to Allah to send peace and blessings upon the Prophet. It’s only after the third takbeer that we pray to Allah for the deceased, or that which we perceive to be the true purpose of the Namaz-e-Janazah. This is when I had the epiphany.
What exactly did this chronology imply? To me, Allah was essentially reminding us that while we may pray for the deceased, we must do so only after first praising Allah. Such an affirmation serves as a reminder to the one praying that regardless of how aggrieved we are, we must recognize that rightful place of Allah, al-Khaliq, and acknowledge that His Being comes before everything else. The subsequent evocation of the Prophet’s name is another reminder that after Allah and before any other individual comes our love and reverence for Muhammad (in Bukhari a hadith reads “no one can be a true believer without loving me more than his fortune, his children and all people"). Then we pray for the deceased.
Even in these moments of intense pain and grief, Allah reminds us that we are ultimately created to worship Him. The hierarchy is clear. Allah, our raison d’être, always comes first, regardless of the circumstance we’re facing. Then his beloved prophet. Then everything else.