The Five Pillars of Islam

Friday Sermon Summary 29th March 2024: ‘Ramadan – A Special Time for the Acceptance of Prayers’

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘aawuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) recited the following verse from the Holy Qur’an:

‘And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’’ (The Holy Qur’an, 2:187)

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad

The Connection Between Ramadan and the Acceptance of Prayer

His Holiness (aba) said that God has placed this verse along with the verses regarding fasting in Ramadan. This indicates that praying has a very special connection with Ramadan and fasting, which is why offering prayers, voluntary prayers and other forms of prayers are especially focused on during the Holy Month. Every Muslim knows that in this month, God showers His love upon His servants more so than He does in ordinary times.

His Holiness (aba) said that once, the Holy Prophet (sa) said that God treats His servants according to how they perceive Him. If someone remembers God, then He is with them; if one remembers God in their heart then God remembers them in His heart; if one remembers God in a gathering then God remembers that person in a gathering. If one advances towards God the distance of a cubit then God draws a hand’s length near that person; if one advances towards God a hand’s length, then God advances towards that person the distance of two hand lengths. If one walks towards God, then God runs towards that person. In essence, this is the manner in which God treats His servants in ordinary times. During the month of Ramadan, an environment is created whereby one’s focus is entirely upon remembering God. So then imagine the blessings which God would bestow; it’s something that we cannot even fathom.

Importance of Remaining Steadfast in Prayer

His Holiness (aba) said that this is contingent upon all of these acts being done with sincerity of heart while remaining steadfast in the faith. It is then that God turns to His servant with compassion. The Holy Prophet (sa) said that God dislikes turning someone away who comes to Him with their hands outstretched. This is the case when someone goes to God with sincerity of heart. Sincerity of heart demands a vow of true repentance.

His Holiness (aba) said that sometimes in haste, some people say that they prayed but that prayer was not accepted; however they do not stop to consider the level of sincerity with which they prayed and whether they are sincerely increasing in their connection with God, and the sincerity with which they seek repentance for their sins, seeking to strengthen their relationship with God by fulfilling His commandments. Hence, in order to attain His special compassion, we must fulfil His commandments.

His Holiness (aba) said that God is so compassionate that He has furnished us with an opportunity every year through Ramadan, that even if there have been shortcomings throughout the year, we can take this opportunity to address them, seek forgiveness and make a lasting change for the better. It is an opportunity for us to become true servants of God, and we have been given the opportunity to do what it takes in order to achieve that. When we finally do achieve this, then God gives the glad tidings that not only does He hear the prayers of such people but answers them as well. Hence, our prayers should not be limited to our personal needs, rather they should also be focused on establishing a stronger and closer connection with God.

Mere Lip-service in Prayer is Insufficient

His Holiness (aba) said that God has made clear that mere verbal expressions of love will not suffice to lead one to the station of becoming a true servant of God, rather this can only be achieved by following the commandments of God. It will happen when a person establishes such faith that can never waiver. So, even those who say that they offered many prayers to no avail, should introspect to see whether they have prayed with complete sincerity and whether they have done justice in striving to increase their relationship with Him. Some set the parameters of their prayers for their personal needs being accepted as the determining factor for the efficacy of prayers. If their exact needs are not met then they begin questioning prayer or even God. But these are not the characteristics of true servants of God. Hence, before questioning prayer we should question ourselves to see whether we are fulfilling God’s commandments and the level of our faith.

How True Prayer Can Be Achieved

His Holiness (aba) said that the Promised Messiah (as) has expounded upon the subject of prayer, who the true servants of God are, and how true prayer can be achieved. His Holiness (aba) said that he would present quotations of the Promised Messiah (as) on this subject.

His Holiness (aba) said that the Promised Messiah (as) explained that there is no doubt that God hears prayers, but the condition is that one establishes true righteousness, accepts unequivocally the existence of God and thereby strengthens their faith in the fact that God has power over all things. Faith leads to perception, and when this is achieved then one will see the fruits of their prayers. It cannot be that a person’s faith wavers at the slightest adversity. The relationship between a person and God should be like that of two true friends. These are the very basic and fundamental conditions for the acceptance of prayer. 

His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as), who states that we should develop ourselves to a level where God can speak to us. This can be done by establishing righteousness and the fear of God, believing in the existence of God and the unseen, and accepting that God has power over all things.

How to Gain Certainty of the Existence of God

His Holiness (aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah (as) who said that if someone questions how we can know that God exists, then the answer lies in the quoted verse, which is that God says He is near. By calling to Him, we can find Him through His answers to our prayers. The gods of other faiths are not near. Therefore, when one calls unto God with a sincere heart then they can find God and increase in their love for Him. It is indeed a sign of God’s existence that he answers prayers. 

His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that seeing the signs of God is the means of recognising God. However, if a barrier remains between a person and God, then they will not be able to hear Him or see His signs. Hence, the solution is to increase in love for God and to establish a closer relationship with Him so that there is no barrier and one can hear God and see His signs. 

His Holiness (aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah (as) who said that in order to increase in faith, one must continue to persist in offering prayers. It is through prayers that a change will develop within a person that will lead to them ultimately meeting a good end.

His Holiness (aba) said that these are not just tales of old, rather the same applies today and there are many examples of the acceptance of prayer even today. His Holiness (aba) said he presents various examples of the acceptance of prayers which people write to him. The Review of Religions conducted a programme [the God Summit] on the existence of God in which many people shared their stories of the acceptance of prayer. In fact, it can be through the acceptance of prayer of even those who are weak in faith that God manifests His great power leading people to recognise Him and increase in their relationship with Him. 

His Holiness (aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah (as), who said that there is a difference between simply offering prayers and prayers offered after recognising God. Simply offering prayers quickly cannot constitute true prayer; rather, one experiences the true power of prayer once they have established true recognition of God. It is through prayer that God becomes just as near to a person as their soul is near them. 

Conditions of Prayer

His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who explained that true prayer constitutes abstaining and removing oneself from the vain and evil. Another sign of true prayers offered with sincerity is that one does not merely pray for themselves and their personal needs, rather they also pray for the ability to increase in their connection with God. True prayer is offered when a state of fervency overtakes a person and they weep in prayer. But even this can only be achieved through the grace of God. Therefore, it is also imperative to pray for the ability to pray in its truest sense. 

His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that the true conditions of prayer are met when the heart reflects that which the tongue utters. Waking up at night and declaring before God that the heart is in His control and beseeching the heart’s purification, then a person’s heart can be opened, which will in turn result in the ability to offer fervent prayers. When that condition of fervency is created, and tears begin flowing, then one can perceive for themselves that their prayers will be accepted. They establish the certainty that it is not necessary for their prayers to be accepted to the letter, exactly as they request, rather in His infinite knowledge, God will provide or create the means for whatever is best.

His Holiness (aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah (as) who said that achieving true prayers and a true connection with God demands constant striving and effort. People do not tire from constantly striving and toiling when it comes to their worldly pursuits; why then should they tire in their pursuit of establishing true prayer and drawing nearer to God? 

His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that the most important prayer is the prayer to be purified of sin, because ultimately, this is the root of all prayer. When this prayer is accepted and one becomes freed from the evil of this world then they will become pure in the sight of God. Thus, one must continue striving to offer this prayer until they achieve certainty that they are pure in God’s sight. When this happens, then God fulfils a person’s other needs without them even asking.

Why Should One Pray If Everything Is Predestined? 

His Holiness (aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah (as) who said that one who wishes to experience God then they should offer prayers. As for why offering prayers is necessary when God already knows what is going to happen, the Promised Messiah (as) explained that just because God knows what is going to happen does not mean that He does not have the power to change it. Why is it that we seek a remedy at the time of a headache when we know ultimately at some point the headache will go away on its own? The reality is that people’s actions can bear results. When one strives and prays, then God also manifests its results. Hence, just because God knows what is going to happen does not mean that He cannot change the ultimate result due to prayers. Even if the exact prayer is not accepted exactly as sought, God still hears it and it could be fulfilled in the form of bestowing forgiveness, or its results could be seen either in this world or even the next. However, failing to pray causes rust to develop on the heart, and one begins moving further and further away from God, finally rendering one bereft of faith. However, by offering prayer, one achieves purity, a connection with God, an abstinence from evil and the ability to establish perpetual virtue.

Masjid Mubarak drone shot

Appeal for Prayers for Ahmadi Muslims in Yemen & Palestinians 

His Holiness (aba) also urged prayers for the Ahmadi prisoners in Yemen, especially a woman who is being held in very cruel circumstances. However, she is displaying great patience and fortitude. May Allah create the means for their release and may Allah eliminate the suspicions which have developed in the minds of the opponents. 

His Holiness (aba) also urged prayers for the Palestinians. Apparently it is said that there are many changes happening, however the circumstances only continue to deteriorate. The UN resolution did pass, however the cruelties continue to persist. This shows the double standards of the Western powers. If the same atrocities were to be committed against their favoured and allied nations then they immediately bring down sanctions against the perpetrating country. However, no sanctions are placed against Israel. In fact, recently the US unconditionally approved several billions of dollars of aid for Israel. Yet they have only approved a few millions of dollars of aid for Palestine, along with the condition that they will not take legal action against Israel or will not go to any forum where they could speak out against Israel. What then can be expected of such people? All that we can do is pray. It is Allah the Almighty who can save the oppressed from their oppressors. May Allah grant us the ability to pray for the oppressed.  

Summary prepared by The Review of Religions