Islamic Concepts and Beliefs

Prayer – Supplicating to the Almighty

The Promised Messiahas wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organised by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here, The Promised Messiahas elaborates on the true philosophy behind the purpose and acceptance of prayer.  This is the final part in our four-part series.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol.I, pp. 226-234.

Prayer is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Through prayer, the supplicant comes closer to God and worship is a means of nourishing the soul.
Photo by The Review of Religions

God Comes Closer through Prayer

Blessed are the prisoners who supplicate and do not get tired for they shall one day be released; blessed are the blind ones who persevere in their prayers for one day they shall see. Blessed are those who are in the graves and seek the help of God through supplication for one day they shall be taken out of their graves.

Blessed are you who do not get tired in your prayers and your souls melt while you pray, and your eyes shed tears, and a fire is lit in your breasts and you are driven into dark chambers and desolated jungles seeking solitude, and you are rendered restless and mad and unconscious of self, for in the end you will become the recipients of grace. The God to Whom we call is very Benevolent, Merciful, Modest, True, Faithful and Compassionate to those who are humble. You should also become faithful and supplicate with full sincerity and loyalty so that He should have mercy on you. Withdraw from the tumult of the world and do not make your faith a matter of personal contentions. Accept defeat for the sake of God so that you might become heirs to great victories. God will show a miracle to those who pray and will bestow extraordinary favour upon those who beg.

Prayer comes from God and returns to Him. Through prayer God comes close to you as your life is close to you. The first bounty of prayer is that it creates a holy change in the supplicant and in consequence of this change God makes a change in His attributes. His attributes are unchangeable, but for a person who has changed himself, He has a special manifestation of which the world does not know, as if He were another God. He does not become another God, but a new manifestation displays Him in a new light. In that special manifestation, He does for His transformed servant, what He does not do for others…

In short, prayer is that sovereign remedy which converts a handful of dust into precious metal. It is the water which washes out inner impurities. With such prayer, the soul melts and, flowing like water, falls at the threshold of the Divine. It stands before God and bows down before Him and prostrates itself before Him. Indeed, the Salat that Islam teaches is a reflection of such prayer.

The standing of the soul in prayer is that it is prepared to endure every misfortune for the sake of God and is eager to carry out His commands, and its bowing down means that, discarding all other loves and relationships, it leans towards God and becomes His; and its prostration is that, falling at the threshold of God, it loses itself altogether and wipes out its own being. This is the Salat which brings about a meeting between God and the worshipper. The Islamic law depicts its picture in the shape of the daily Salat so that the physical Salat should urge a worshipper towards the spiritual Salat.

God Almighty has so constituted man that the soul and the body act and react upon each other. When the soul is sad, tears start from the eyes and when the soul is happy the countenance displays cheerfulness so that sometimes the person begins to laugh. In the same way when the body is hurt and feels pain, the soul also partakes of pain, and when the body is pleased with a breeze, the soul is also affected by it. Thus the purpose of physical worship is that on account of the relationship between the soul and body, the soul should be moved towards God and should occupy itself in spiritual bowing and prostration.

—Lecture Sialkot, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, pp. 222-224

To think that seeking help from God is sometimes without result and wondering that the Rahmaniyyat [Grace] and Rahimiyyat [Mercy] of God do not manifest themselves in the shape of help, is the result of misunderstanding. God Almighty surely hears the prayers that are offered in sincerity and helps the seekers of help as He considers proper. But sometimes it happens that the prayer and request for help of a person are not inspired by sincerity and lack the humility of the heart, and his spiritual condition is not up to the mark, so that while his lips utter the words of supplication his heart is inattentive or is only making a show. It also happens sometimes that God hears the supplication and bestows whatever He considers proper and most appropriate in His perfect Wisdom, but the foolish supplicant does not recognise the hidden favour that God does to him and begins to complain on account of his ignorance and unawareness. He does not appreciate the verse:1

That is, it may be that you dislike a thing, which is really good for you, and it may also be that you like something, but it may be the worse for you. Allah knows the reality of all things and you know not.

—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 1, pp. 430-431, footnote 11

Acceptance of Prayer Demands Eagerness

God Almighty has taught such an excellent method of prayer in Surah Fatihah than which nothing better is possible and which comprises all those matters which are necessary for inspiring the heart with eagerness in prayer. For the acceptance of prayer, it is necessary that there should be eagerness in it, for the prayer that lacks eagerness is mere words and is not true prayer. It is obvious, however, that it is not the choice of a person that his prayer should be inspired by eagerness at all times. It is necessary that at the time of prayer the matters that inspire eagerness should be present in the mind of the supplicant. Every sensible person knows that the heart is inspired with eagerness in consequence of two feelings. First, that the worshipper should contemplate God as Perfect and Powerful and possessing all perfect attributes, and to consider His mercies and His benevolence as essential from the beginning to the end for his own existence and preservation, and to consider Him as the Fountainhead of all grace. Secondly, to consider himself and all his fellow beings helpless and poor and dependent upon God’s help. These are two matters that inspire eagerness in prayer. Eagerness is inspired when the supplicant finds himself altogether weak and without strength and dependent upon Divine help, and believes firmly that God is All-Powerful and Lord of the worlds and Gracious and Merciful and Master of Judgement and that the fulfilment of all human needs lies in His hands. The Surah Fatihah sets out in the very beginning that God is the Being Who is worthy of all praise and comprises all excellencies and is the Lord of the worlds and is the Fountainhead of all mercies and bestows upon everyone the reward of their actions. By setting out these attributes, God Almighty has proclaimed that all power is in His hands and that all grace proceeds from Him. He has proclaimed His greatness to the degree that He is the fulfiller of all needs in this world and the hereafter, that He is the Cause of all causes and that He is the Source of all grace. He has also indicated that without Him and His mercy the life and comfort and ease that a living being experiences is not possible. Then the supplicant has been taught humility in the words:2

This means: O the Source of all bounties! We worship Thee alone, and seek help from Thee alone.

That is, we are helpless and can achieve nothing ourselves unless we are bestowed strength and support by Thee. Thus, God Almighty has set forth two matters that inspire eagerness in prayer; one, His greatness and mercy and the other the helplessness and humility of His servants. These are two matters which it is necessary for supplicants to keep in their minds at the time of prayer. Thus those who have some experience of prayer know that without the presence of these two inspirers of prayers there can be no prayer, and that without these the fire of the love of God does not raise its flames in prayer. It is obvious that a person who does not keep in mind the greatness and mercy and perfect power of God cannot turn to God, and that the soul of a person who does not acknowledge his own helplessness and poverty cannot incline towards the Benevolent Master. This is a verity which needs no deep philosophy for its appreciation. When the greatness of God and one’s own humility and helplessness are truly reflected in the heart, that condition itself instructs the worshipper that that is the means of offering true prayer.

True worshippers know well that a concept of these two matters is essential for prayer: first, that God Almighty has the power to foster and to develop and to bestow mercy and reward and that these perfect attributes of His are always in operation; and secondly, that man can achieve nothing without the help and support of the Divine. These two concepts are such that when they are established in the heart at the time of prayer they work such a change in the condition of the worshipper that, being affected by them, an arrogant one falls on the earth and tears start running from the eyes of a haughty hard-hearted one. This is the machine that puts life in a heedless dead person. Through these two concepts every heart is drawn towards prayer. This is the spiritual means through which the soul of a person turns towards God and observes its own weakness and the need of the help of God. Through it a person arrives at such a stage of selflessness in which no sign of his own opaque existence remains and the glory of a Great Being shines forth and that Being appears as All-Merciful and the Support of every being and the Remedy of every ill and the Source of every grace. At last, a condition of being lost in God manifests itself in consequence of which a person is left with no inclination towards any part of creation, or towards his own self, or towards his own designs, and is wholly lost in the love of God. By the manifestation of that reality one’s own existence and the existence of the rest of creation appear as naught. This condition is called the straight path by God which a servant has been instructed to seek through the supplication:3

That is to say: Bestow upon us that path of losing of self and of Unity of God and love of God which has been indicated in the previous verses and cut us asunder altogether from everything beside Thee.

In short, God Almighty has bestowed such true means upon man for creating eagerness in prayer that through their adoption a supplicant is transported from the consciousness of self to the world of non-existence. It should be borne in mind that the Surah Fatihah is not merely one of the many means for seeking guidance, but as has been established by the arguments that have been already set forth, it is the only means by the adoption of which prayer is offered with the eagerness of the heart and which the nature of man desires to follow under the urge of a natural demand.

The truth is that as God has appointed rules for other matters, there is a particular rule for prayer and that rule is set out in the Surah Fatihah. It is not possible that there should be eagerness in prayer unless the factors that inspire the heart with eagerness are present to the mind. Thus, the natural way of prayer is that which is set out in the Surah Fatihah. It is one of the excellences of that surah that it sets out prayer along with those factors that inspire it.

—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in vol. 1, pp. 569-575, footnote 11

Humble Prayer4

O, Most Merciful One! a humble servant of Thine, useless and full of errors and without any merit, Ghulam Ahmad, who dwells in India supplicates:

O, Most Merciful One! be Thou pleased with me and forgive my mistakes and sins for Thou art most Forgiving and Merciful. Cause me to do that which should please Thee greatly. Put away my ego from me as far as the East is from the West and make my life and my death and every faculty that I have, devoted to Thee. Keep me alive in Thy love and cause me to die in Thy love and raise me up among Thy perfect lovers.

Most Merciful One! do Thou, by Thy grace, carry to its conclusion the task for which Thou hast appointed me and the service for which Thou hast created eagerness in my heart. Establish conclusively the truth of Islam through the hand of this humble one in the eyes of the opponents of Islam and in the eyes of all those who are unaware of the excellences of Islam. Keep this humble one and his friends and sincere companions in the shade and support of Thy forgiveness and Graciousness. Be Thou the Provider for them in matters of faith and in matters of the world and transport all of them to the house of Thy pleasure and send down peace and blessings to the utmost degree upon Thy Messenger and his companions and followers. Amin.

—Al-Hakam, 6th & 13th August 1898 Maktubat-e-Imam-e-Hummam (hand-written manuscript), vol. 1, p. 61

My Powerful God! hear my humble prayers and open the ears and hearts of this people. Show us the time when the worship of false deities should disappear from the world and Thou shouldst be worshipped sincerely in the earth. May the earth be filled with Thy righteous servants who believe in Thy Unity as the ocean is filled with water and may the greatness and truth of Thy Messenger Muhammad, the chosen one (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) be established in the hearts of people. Amin.

My Powerful God! show me this change in this world and accept my prayers for Thou hast all power and strength. Amin, O Powerful God.

Our last call is that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

—Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 603

Endnotes

1. The Holy Qur’an, 2:217.

2. The Holy Qur’an, 1:5.

3. The Holy Qur’an, 1:6.

4. Note: This prayer was sent by the Promised Messiahas in a letter to Hadrat Sufi Ahmad Janra of Ludhiana and he was instructed: ‘It is your duty that you should pray in these very words, without any change, on my behalf in the House of Allah, before the Most Merciful One. Keep this letter with you to help your memory’. Accordingly, Sufi Ahmad Janra, on the day of the great pilgrimage in the year 1302 A.H. offered this prayer in the House of Allah in a loud voice while his companions continued to respond with Amin.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment