Instead of interpreting the ‘antichrist’ as a figure expected to emerge before the major doomsday of the world, we may interpret it as a state of the illusory self that can befall us before our own doomsday, that is, our own death. Then, within this context, we can decipher what it means for the Mahdi (Saviour) to oppose, and for Jesus to defeat, the antichrist with divine power. Of course all of these are symbolic concepts. Mahdi represents the Islamic knowledge of Unity (tawhid) which is the equilibrium of Allah’s incomparability (tanzih) and similarity (tashbih).
The Antichrist (dajjal) represents the excess of tashbih and an incorrect evaluation of it, leading one’s consciousness to the belief “I am God” and the attempt to experience this within the plane of the body.
Jesus, on the other hand, being the one who has revealed the reality of tashbih to humanity in person, assumes the role of the ‘corrector’ of possible deviations. In Sufism, Jesus symbolizes the state of ‘closeness’ (yaqeen) to Allah, also known as the disclosure of Allah’s power.
Upon appropriately comprehending these truths, we can attain the realization of our ‘nothingness’, as disclosed by the knowledge of Unity (wahdat), and kneel with our heads in prostration and pray:
“Oh Allah, please endow us with an enlightened lifestyle… elucidate, facilitate and simplify this for us!”
As Muhammad (saw) says:
“The most pleasing and acceptable prayer is the one made in prostration” and “the closest place one may get to Allah is at the point of prostration.”
Since this is the case, then let us all place our heads on the floor in prostration. Will we have really prostratedby doing this? Yes, but only in form! Real prostration isn’t a formal imitation, but the conscious awareness of one’s ‘nothingness’ and the acknowledgement of Allah’s ‘Infiniteness’.
One, who prostrates with this awareness, observes the Infinite One through his poverty and selflessness. However, the former prostrates in shape, but erects his ego ever so uprightly, reminiscent of the state of those mentioned as “their backs will be like wood, they will not be able to prostrate, and every time they try they will roll over and fall”!
Indeed, ‘prostration’ is the state of ‘nothingness’, which can only be attained by eliminating one’s false and illusory identity. Such a person’s prostration is like a unity with Allah, a divine closeness. In this state, a person will be like an observer, as divine attributes reveal themselves and divine power manifests, he will observe them in prostration.
It may also be appropriate to mention the act of ‘bowing’ (ruqu) here.
As known, previous to Islam, methods of worship included both the standing position (qiyam) and prostration. Ruqu however, or the bowing position was introduced by Muhammad (saw) as part of salah (5 daily prayers).
Why though? What does bowing represent; why is it important?
Bowing in salah is the act of bending the body forward from the waist by an approximate 90 degrees, such that one is standing straight waist-down, but kneeling forward waist-up, like forming a right angle. But what does this mean?