Ahmadiyyat 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 second part in a four-part series.
Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol.I, pp. 218-226.

The prayer which issues after understanding is like a magnetic power that draws mercy.
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Why Even the Prayers of Perfect People Are Not Always Accepted

Some ignorant people ask why some of the prayers of those who are perfect are not accepted. The answer is that God Almighty has kept under His own control the manifestation of their beauty. When this great manifestation takes place and their beauty shines forth in respect of any matter, then the particles of the universe are drawn to it and the impossible happens which, in other words, is called a miracle. But this spiritual manifestation does not appear always and at every place and depends upon external elements. This is because, as God is Self-Sufficient, He has invested His elect also with the quality of self-sufficiency. Like God, they are also self-sufficient and till someone puts in motion their mercy with full humility and sincerity that quality of theirs is not activated. These people possess the quality of mercy to a greater degree than the rest of the world, but it is a matter of wonder that it is not within their own power to activate it. They often wish that it should be manifested, but it is not manifested without the Divine will. They have no regard for those who deny them and for the hypocrites and for the weak in faith and consider them like dead insects. Their self-sufficiency is of the type which is possessed by a beloved person who conceals his face behind a beautiful veil. One aspect of this self-sufficiency is that when a wicked person thinks ill of them, they often foster this ill-thinking by disregarding them completely, for they take on Divine qualities, as God Almighty has said:

[In their hearts was a disease, and Allah has increased their disease to them.]

When God desires that they should display a miracle, He creates an eagerness in their hearts and they become restless and disturbed for the achievement of a particular purpose. Then they put aside the veil of self-sufficiency and their beauty, which is not visible to anyone except God Almighty, is disclosed to the angels of heaven and to every particle. The removal of their veil means that with their perfect sincerity and fidelity, and with the spiritual beauty on account of which they have become the beloved of God, they turn to God in such an extraordinary manner and such a condition of welcoming God is produced in their hearts which draws the extraordinary mercy of God Almighty to itself and along with it every particle of this universe is drawn to them, and the heat of their loving warmth collects in heaven and discloses its countenance to the angels like the clouds. Their pains, which have the quality of thunder in them, create a turmoil in heaven. Then, by the power of God Almighty, those qualities are created which send down the rain of achieving the mercy that they desire. When their spirituality with its full yearning attends to the resolution of any difficulty, it draws God’s attention to itself, inasmuch as they are counted among those who are beloved of God on account of the personal love that they entertain for God. Then everything which is under the command of God Almighty becomes eager for their help and Divine mercy gets ready for a new creation in order to fulfil their purpose, and those matters are manifested which appear impossible to the worldly and which are unknown to the pursuers of lower knowledge. These people cannot be called God, but their relationship of love and closeness to God is so sincere and faithful that God appears to descend into them and the Divine Spirit is breathed into them as it was breathed into Adam. They are not God, but their relationship to God is such as a piece of iron has to fire when it is heated in the fire to such a degree that it assumes the colour of the fire.

True believers reflect the divine spirit just as a piece of iron assumes the colour of fire when it is heated.
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When this happens, all that is under the command of God Almighty comes under their command, and the stars of heaven, the sun and the moon, the oceans, air and fire hear their voice and recognize them and serve them. Everything loves them naturally and is drawn to them like a true lover, except the wicked who are the reflections of Satan. Worldly love is ill-omened. It arises on one side and dies on the other, and also it is based upon beauty that is subject to decline and there are few people who come under its influence. But how wonderful is that spiritual beauty which is generated in a person by good behaviour, purity, righteousness and, after the manifestation of Divine love. It possesses a universal attraction, and draws eager hearts to itself as honey draws ants and not only men but also every particle of the universe is affected by its attraction. A person who has true love for God Almighty is Joseph for whom every particle of this universe is like Zulaikha; but whose beauty has not yet been revealed to the world for this world cannot endure it. God Almighty says in His Holy Book, the Qur’an, that the light of the believers is displayed in their countenances and a believer is recognised by the beauty, the name of which in other words is light.

­—Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, part V, Ruhani Khazain, Vol 21, pp.221-224

Why Acceptance of Supplications is Sometimes Delayed

Sometimes it happens that a seeker supplicates with great yearning and pain, but he observes that the result of his prayers is being postponed and delayed. What is the reason? In this connection it is necessary to remember that there is a gradualness in the affairs of the world. How many stages has a child to pass through before becoming a full grown person? How much time is taken by a seed to become a tree? In the same way, Divine matters are also completed gradually. There is also this Divine purpose in such a delay that the supplicant should become confirmed in his resolve and courage and his understanding should be strengthened. To the degree to which a person desires to acquire high rank and gradations to that degree he is called upon to work hard and to wait. Perseverance and resolve are such excellent qualities that without them a person cannot traverse the stages of success. It is necessary, therefore, that he should first pass through difficulties. That is why it is said:

[Aye, surely there is ease after hardship.]

—Malfuzat, vol. III, pp. 202-203

Sometimes it happens that a person supplicates for something, but his supplication is the result of his ignorance and stupidity. He desires something from God Almighty which under no circumstances can be useful or beneficial for him. In such a case, God Almighty does not reject his prayer, but fulfills it in some other form. For instance, a cultivator who needs a bullock for his plough goes to a ruler and asks him for a camel. The ruler knows that a bullock would be useful for him and he directs that he should be given a bullock. If that person should say that his request has not been granted, it would be foolish on his part, for if he were to reflect, that which happened was the best for him. In the same way, if a child beholding red burning brands should ask its mother for them, would a kind and compassionate mother hand them over to it? Thus, sometimes, circumstances arise in connection with the acceptance of prayer that people who are impatient and lack goodwill become the cause of the rejection of their prayer.

—Malfuzat, vol. IV, p. 435

Do Not Be Impatient and Hasty

During the interval between a supplication and its acceptance one is often subjected to trial after trial, some of which are back-breaking. A persevering and good-natured supplicant smells the perfume of the favours of his Lord in these trials and difficulties and his intelligence informs him that they will be followed by help. One aspect of these trials is that they foster eagerness for prayer. The greater the distress of the supplicant, the more his soul will be melted. This is one of the factors in the acceptance of prayer. So one should not lose heart and should not think ill of God through impatience and restlessness. One should never think that one’s prayer is not accepted or will not be accepted. Such a notion is a denial of the attribute of God that He accepts prayers.

Just as perseverance is required to pass through difficult stages in other aspects of life, it is also necessary to achieve success in prayers.
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—Malfuzat, vol. IV, pp. 434

Prayer is very valuable and a person who is given to prayer succeeds in the end. However, it is foolishness and disrespect that a person should seek to avoid the design of God Almighty. For instance, to pray that the sun should appear in the early part of the night is impertinence. A person who loses hope or desires fulfilment before it is time, suffers loss. For instance, if after ten days of marriage the husband and wife should desire that a child should be born to them, it would be foolish on their part… In the same way, he who does not allow time for a plant to grow does not let the stage of the ripening of the grain to come…

Muslims in general are ignorant of the principles of prayer, and some of them are such who had the opportunity to pray but as they did not exercise patience and perseverance they were frustrated and adopted the view of Sayyed Ahmad Khan that prayer is nothing. They fall into such error as they are unaware of the reality of prayer and do not know its effects. Seeing that their hopes of wealth are not fulfilled, they announce that prayer is nothing and they draw away from it. Prayer is a perfect relationship between Providence and servitude. If prayer had no effect, to have recourse to it or not would be equal.

The Promised Messiah(as) said that a person who loses hope or desires fulfilment before it is time, suffers loss.
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—Malfuzat, vol. III, pp. 203-204

We should have recourse to prayer and should seek forgiveness from God Almighty for He is Self-Sufficient and is not subject to anyone’s authority. He has no regard for a person who does not come to Him humbly and in submission. If a person goes to another begging or seeking a favour and puts forward his helplessness and poverty, he would be shown some favour, but if a person comes riding a horse and seeks a favour and threatens that if it is not granted he would have recourse to force, he would only be met by force. To seek a favour from God Almighty obstinately, and to make one’s faith conditional, is a great mistake and is likely to prove a stumbling block. Perseverance and steadfastness in prayer is one thing, but obstinacy is quite another. To say that if one’s purpose is not fulfilled one would deny faith or would say this or that is great foolishness and betrays ignorance of the manner of prayer and amounts to shirk. Such people are not aware of the philosophy of prayer. Nowhere does the Holy Qur’an say that God would accept prayer according to the desire of the supplicant. It is true that it is said in the Holy Qur’an:

[Pray unto Me, I will answer your prayer.]

but it is also part of our faith, as the Holy Qur’an too says:

[And we will try you with something of fear and hunger.]

If by virtue of:

[Pray unto Me, I will answer your prayer.]

God accepts your prayer, then by virtue of:

[We will try you…]

He enforces His own will. It is the Benevolence and Generosity of God Almighty that He accepts the supplications of His servants; otherwise, it would not be inconsistent with His Godhead and Providence that He should always enforce His will. When He says:

[And We will try you with something of fear…]

at that time He desires to enforce His will. There is sometimes fear and sometimes hunger, and sometimes there is decline in wealth, or loss in trade, or poor harvest, or death of children or loss of fruits and harmful results. These are trials from God Almighty. At that time, God desires to display His authority and to enforce His will. At such times a sincere believer accepts the will of God cheerfully and gives it preference and is pleased with it and makes no complaint and thinks no ill. That is why Allah the Exalted says:

And give glad tidings to the steadfast.

God does not say that glad tidings should be conveyed to supplicants, but to those who persevere. It is necessary, therefore, that a supplicant should not lose heart if he meets with failure in his prayers, but should prefer the pleasure of God Almighty with steadfastness and perseverance. The men of God perceive the hopefulness of an enterprise and in that case they supplicate; otherwise, they are content with Divine determination. When they perceive the signs of a calamity, they supplicate, but if they feel that such is Divine determination, they are steadfast, as was the case with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) on the demise of his children, one of whom was Ibrahim.

—Malfuzat, vol. III, pp. 385-386

It is my frequent experience that God is so Benevolent and Merciful that when in His Wisdom He does not accept a prayer, He accepts some other prayer in place of it which is like it. As He has said:

[Whatever Sign We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than that or the like thereof. Dost thou not know that Allah has the power to do all that He wills.]

—Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 340

Be not content with thinking that you pray every day and that the whole of Salat is prayer, for the prayer which issues after understanding and through grace is of a different type altogether. It is something that destroys; it is a fire that melts; it is a magnetic power that draws mercy and it is a death which in the end revives. It is a fierce inundation which finally becomes a vessel. Every frustration is remedied by it and every poison becomes an antidote through it.

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