January 10, 2003 Friday Ziqa'ad 6, 1423
Supplication to Allah
By Dr Abdul Karim
THE Islamic concept of Allah is that of a living personal God Who is in full command. On the other hand, man is weak but entrusted with an onerous task of being Allah's vicegerent on earth and reflect His attributes. He is exposed to all sorts of imponderables, especially when Satan has vowed to lead him astray.
In this context, can man be on his own, not needing help from Allah? The Quranic answer is emphatic no' and Islamic history bears witness to that. With Allah's help in early years, despite lack of resources, both material and manpower, Muslims attained success, unprecedented in very field and were the undisputed world leaders. Now with all their numerical strength and oil-based tremendous wealth, shorn of Allah's help, not only they do not count, but their nose is rubbed in dust every day and their moaning is heard loud and clear. This should be no surprise as Allah has warned them in unambiguous terms in the Quran:
Say, But for your supplication to Him, My Lord would not care for you. (25:78) And Your Lord says, Pray to Me; I will answer your prayer. But those who are too proud to worship Me will surely enter Hell, despised. (40:61) The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Allah is angry with a person who does not make supplication to Him. Allah's response would not be just verbal but practical by way of help sought for. What is the form, intensity, and scope for making supplication to Allah?
It may be stated at the outset that supplication to Allah does not mean that man should sit idle and let Allah do every thing for him. Human effort to the utmost is the necessary condition. We have surely created man for hardships. (90:5) Surely there is ease after hardship. Aye, surely there is ease after hardship. So when thou art free, strive hard. (94:6-8) And that man will have nothing but what he strives for; And that his striving shall soon be seen; Then will they be rewarded for it with the fullest reward. (53:40-2)
The parable of a garden in the Quran reminds of the risks to which human effort is always exposed which can nullify its result unless it is protected by Allah. We shall surely try as We tried the owners of the garden when they vowed that they would certainly pluck all its fruit in the morning, And they made no exception and did not say, If God please'. Then a visitation from thy Lord visited it while they were asleep... And they went forth early in the morning determined to achieve their purpose. But when they saw it, they said, Surely, we have lot our way! Nay, we have been deprived of everything.' the best man among them said, Did I not say to you, Why do not you glorify God?' Now they said, Glory be to our Lord. surely, we have been wrongdoers... (68:18-30)
Help from Allah, condescended in recognition of the endeavour, is the sufficient condition. As a bounty of Allah, unbelievers are rewarded according to merit only but believers are bestowed upon far more, out of proportion to effort, if supplemented with supplication to Allah.
Supplication may be formal by way of Prayer (salat) as a basic prescribed obligation five times a day. The Quranic advice is, And seek help with patience and Prayer; (2:46) The Holy Prophet said, A servant is closest to his Lord when he is in prostration, so multiply your supplication in prostration. Prayer is the minimum required of every Muslim and what really raises his standing with Allah with corresponding reward is the supererogatory Prayer, especially late after-midnight when the world is in deep slumber. It is in the Quran, Their sides keep away from their beds; and they call on their Lord in fear and hope. (32:17) And wake up for it (the Quran) in the latter part of the night as a supererogatory service for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee in an exalted status. (17:80)
For supererogatory conduct, the Quran says, And whose does good beyond what is obligatory, surely then, Allah is Appreciating, All-Knowing. (2:159) The Holy Prophet said, Allah says; Whoever is at enmity with whom I befriend should be aware of having to do battle with Me. When a servant of Mine seeks to approach Me through that what I like best out of what I have made obligatory on him, and continues to advance towards Me by dint of voluntary effort beyond the prescribed then I begin to love him. When I love him, I become his ears of which he hears, and his eyes with which he sees and his hands which he grasps and his feet which he walks. When he asks Me, I bestow upon him and when he seeks protection, I protect him.
The first Chapter of the Quran, Sura Fatiha in its first half mentions the basic attributes of Allah and the second half is nothing but supplications to Allah, general as well as for specific purposes. The last two Chapters are also supplications. Allah has Himself taught many supplications in the Quran, the most crucial and the very general, applicable to any thing spiritual or temporal, big or small and in any circumstances, being that of the Sura Fatiha, Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone we implore for help. Guide us in the right path- (1:5-6)
Sura Fatiha is to be recited in every raka of Prayer and every supplication to Allah. Among other supplications of general nature may be mentioned: Our Lord, bestow on us from Thyself, and provide for us right guidance in our affair. (18:11) Our Lord, let not our hearts become perverse after Thou hast guided us; and bestow on us mercy from Thyself; surely, Thou alone art the Bestower. (3:9) Our Lord, perfect our light for us and forgive us; surely Thou hast the power over all things. (66:9) Our Lord, grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come, and protect us from the torment of the Fire. (2:202) My Lord, I am in need of whatever good Thou mayest send down on me. (28:25)
Then there are supplications for specific purposes like increase in knowledge, (20:115) for righteous seed, (46:16) not to be left childless, (21:90) wives and children to be the delight of eyes and a model for the righteous, (25:75). Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn. From the evil of that which He has created, And from he evil of the night when it overspreads, And from the evil of those who blow into knots to undo them, And from the evil of the envier when he envies. (113:2-6), Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind, The King of mankind, The God of mankind, From the evil of the sneaking whisperer. Who whispers into the hearts of men, From among the Jinn and mankind.
The Holy Prophet had and will for ever continue to have the highest standing with Allah and fully enjoyed His grace. Even so, he practically demonstrated how to make supplication to Allah for every thing, big or small. They are so numerous that a volume is needed. Apart from his exemplary Prayer, obligatory and voluntary, the Holy Prophet would always make supplication according to the situation. These supplication would be general as well as specific.
The Holy Prophets's supplications certainly make a very tall order beyond the lay man. This did pose a problem for some. Abu Umamah (RA) relates; The Holy Prophet made many supplications which we were not able to remember. So we said to him, Messenger of Allah, you make many supplications, of which we do not remember any.' He said, Shall I tell you something which shall comprehend all of them? Supplicate, Allah I beg of Thee of good all that Thy Prophet Muhammad begged of Thee and seek Thy protection against all the evil against which Thy Prophet Muhammad sought Thy protection. Thou art the One Who is asked for help and it is for Thee to convey the guidance. There is no strength to resist evil nor power to do good except through Allah.
In conclusion, it may be observed that present day Muslims can find their salvation only in reverting to the original teachings of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet's Sunnah, and sincerely practice them, in letter and spirit: they should supplement their endeavour with fervent supplications to Allah to seek His help to ensure its success. It is worth remembering, Or, Who answers the distressed person when he calls upon Him, and removes the evil, and makes you successors in the earth? Is there a God besides Allah? Little is that you reflect. (27:63)
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