Spreading the white piece of cloth on the ground while performing the Wazifah or the Haylalah is not an obligatory duty. It is optional. Both the wazifah and the haylalah can be done perfectly without this white piece of cloth being spread.
Spreading the ‘izar’ – the white piece of cloth is only to dignify the Wird (litany). It is like the red carpet which is usually spread on the ground while welcoming important dignitaries. It is done to dignify them and as a mark of respect and honour.
The ‘izar’ is however to teach some lessons and to inculcate some morals. Here are some of them:
- The ‘izar is to be spread in preparation for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his four rightly guided Caliphs and the grand Shaykh Ahmad Tijani, all of whom are expected to join the murids in spirit anywhere the Wazifah or the Haylalah is done and at anytime. This notion helps the Murids to concentrate more on what he or she is doing, and it helps them to keep their minds away from the mundane world. It helps them to shun all the trivialities of this world.
- The ‘izar is also to teach the Murid to observe that just as this white piece of cloth is clean, his mind should be perfectly clean too. And just as any black spot on this white cloth is capable of distracting the attention of those who look at it, any evil deed no matter how very small can render our action unacceptable to God. The Murid should endeavor to keep himself clean from all forms of impurities. “Cleanlines is one-half of faith” as the Prophet said.
- The Murid should view this white piece of cloth before his as the kafan, the white piece of cloth with which the corpse is wrapped before being taken to the burial ground. When a person breathes his last and is wrapped up in a piece of white cloth like this, and buried, the end of him or her has not come. That is the beginning of his or her journey to the hereafter. This journey is certainly longer and more demanding than our journey on earth.
It is when a person dies and is wrapped up in a white piece of cloth and buried that he or she begin to reap the rewards of the good works that he or she has done on earth. A person who fails to do any good works while alive will have nothing to fall upon when that second journey begins – the journey to the hereafter. As the Murid keeps his thought on this stage of his life, he prays fervently to God to accept his religious observances from him and grant him security from evil and to grant him pleasure out of His Divine Grace, so that he or she will not be among the losers on the last day.