‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that prayer alone is needed to able to offer true and sincere prayer. He said Salat adorns one’s faith as well as one’s worldly matters and it protects one from every bad practice and indecency. However, it is not in the control of a person to offer such a Salat. The method cannot be attained without the help of God.
Hudhur said this draws us to the question as to what should our prayers, our Salat be like? What manner should we adopt and what effect should worship and prayer have on us and how does worship, prayer and Salat achieve acceptance? If we truly understand that worship of God is the objective of our creation, we would disregard all else and focus on attaining this most important objective. However, as the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, prayer alone is needed to have the capacity to make sincere prayer. Mere effort on our part cannot take us to the objective of our creation. God is Most Gracious, but in the very first Surah of the Holy Qur’an He taught us the prayer of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ (1:5) and made it obligatory for this prayer to be repeated in every unit of the five daily Salat. When this prayer is made with sincerity of intent, then God enables a person to attain his or her purpose. It is also a blessing of God to grant us the month of Ramadan and declare that He is near, that He listens to every one of that servant of His who turns to Him and practices His commandments. If there is any deficiency, it is in us. In this age God commissioned the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) for our reformation. He came in his capacity as the servant of the perfect man to once again impart to us the teachings of Islam.
If we try and understand and then make it a part of our life, given the depth and exquisiteness with which the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has explained the meaning of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ to us, we would be making an effort to fulfil our dues of ebudiyyat (servitude to God) of God. We would be able to strengthen our faith in the manner which God commands and that which is expected of a believer.
Hudhur presented a few gems from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). He wrote:
‘Allah, Lord of Honour and Majesty, has placed the phrase: We worship Thee alone; before the phrase: We implore only Thy help; as a reminder of the grace of Rahmaniyyat (Divine Graciousness) before supplication. Thus the worshipper begins, as it were, with: Lord, I thank Thee for Thy bounties with which Thou hast favoured me long before my petitions and prayers and my deeds and efforts and my seeking help from Thy Providence (Rabubiyyat) and Graciousness (Rahmaniyyat) that precedes the supplication of a suppliant. Now I beg of Thee the strength, virtue, prosperity, success and aims that are bestowed only on supplication, prayer and begging for help, for Thou art the most munificent Bestower of bounties.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 191]
Hudhur explained that when a person prays to God mindful and grateful of the favours He has bestowed by virtue of His Rahmaniyyat , it is the first step towards worship and becoming a true servant of God. Once this insight is achieved, further effort is made in worship and a person tries to attain the levels that God has determined for one to become a servant of God. One wishes for further material as well as spiritual development but is aware that all this cannot be attained without God’s help. This opens further doors and stages of development are attained. This is the basic point and the essence which should be in view when praying: ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) expounds as to why should we be drawn to this prayer. He says:
‘These verses urge towards grateful appreciation of gifts that have been granted and towards steadfast supplication for that which is needful and towards eagerness for whatever is perfect and excellent so that the worshipper may be steadfastly grateful. They also urge towards non-reliance on one's own competence and ability and towards throwing oneself before the Holy One in hope and expectancy, persisting in supplication and prayer in humility with glorification and praise, in a state between fear and hope, like a suckling infant in the arms of the wet-nurse, dead to the rest of creation and everything on earth.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 191]
Hudhur said that when one comprehends that God alone has all powers and one is insignificant, one should simply submit oneself before God. One should adopt comparative distance from all worldly relations and worldly means. One should neither rely on one’s own physical strength nor on the powers of the world. Then alone would one say the prayer of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ sincerely.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote:
‘These verses also urge towards confession and acknowledgement that we are weak and cannot carry out the duties of Thy worship without Thy help and cannot seek the ways of Thy pleasure without support and that we can act only with Thy help and can move only with Thy succour and hasten to Thee like mothers pining over the deaths of their children and like lovers who are on fire with love.’[Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 191]
Further explaining the verses, he says:
‘They urge also towards discarding pride and arrogance and towards holding fast to the power and might of Allah when affairs become involved and hardships pile up and towards joining the company of those who are lowly of heart as if the Lord of glory were saying: O My servants, regard yourselves as corpses and ever seek strength from Allah. Let not a youth take pride in his vigour, nor an old one rely on his staff, nor a wise one feel elated with his intelligence nor a scholar trust in the accuracy of his knowledge, or the soundness of his understanding or the keenness of his intellect, nor let a recipient of Divine revelation depend for support on his inspiration and revelation and the fervour of his prayers. Allah does what He pleases, rejects whom He pleases and admits among His chosen ones whom He pleases.’
‘We implore only Thy help; warns of the great wickedness of the evil-prompting ego which frisks away from virtue like the unbroken she-camel from its would-be rider, or which is like a vicious reptile who cleans up its victim like a bleached bone, emitting venom all the time, or is like a lion who is not diverted once it leaps. There is no power, no strength, no earning and no substance except with the help of Allah Who annihilates the satans.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 192]
Hudhur said one is made aware that Nafse Ammarah (the self that incites to evil) or the evil-promoting ego, is taking one towards evil and one has to protect oneself but is also aware that protection cannot be achieved all by oneself. God alone saves one from Satan. One should pray for protection with deep humility. When those dear to God continue to supplicate Him with humbleness how much more should ordinary people need to put an effort into this? For example, the prayer of Hadhrat Yusuf (on whom be peace) as stated in the Holy Qur’an: ‘And I do not hold my own self to be free from weakness; for, the soul is surely prone to enjoin evil, save that whereon my Lord has mercy. Surely, my Lord is Most Forgiving, Merciful.’ (12:54) Such thinking truly gains the beneficence of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) further explains:
‘There are other implications in placing: We worship Thee alone; before: We seek only Thy help; which we propose to set down here for the benefit of those who are enamoured of the verses of the Fatiha, and not of the music of guitars, and run to them like eager devotees. Allah here teaches His servants a prayer which is a source of happiness for them and says, in effect: O My servants, beg of Me with humility and in lowliness of spirit: Our Lord, we worship Thee alone, but we have to struggle hard and have to grapple with affectation and remorse and distractions and satanic insinuations and confusing ideas and superstitions and dark thoughts like the muddy waters of a flood, and like one who gathers fuel in the dark we follow only conjecture and we are not firmly anchored in faith. In this situation we seek only Thy help. We beg Thee for the gift of keenness, eagerness and readiness of heart and overflowing faith and spiritual response and joy and light and for embellishing our hearts with the decor of truth and the garments of delight, so that, by Thy grace, we may win through to certainty of faith, and achieve our highest goals and arrive at the ocean of Reality.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, pp. 192 - 193]
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) draws our attention to the pinnacle of ebudiyyat:
‘In the phrase: We worship Thee alone; Allah, the Supreme, urges His servants to put forth, in their obedience to Him, the utmost energetic effort, standing upright, constantly responding to His call, with: Lord, we spare no pains in our striving and in observing Thy commands and in seeking Thy pleasure; but we seek Thy help and Thy protection against pride and self-esteem and beg of Thee to grant us the strength that would lead us to Thy guidance and to winning Thy pleasure.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 193]
Hudhur added that if such a prayer is made for one’s next generation, family and the community, then the flow of everyone’s thoughts will be in the same direction and will be absorbing God’s grace as well as discharging each other’s dues.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) further writes:
‘There is yet another point to be noted in this context. The worshipper declares: Lord, we have adopted Thee alone for worship, preferring Thee over all else and we adore nothing save Thy countenance and we believe in Thy Unity.
In this verse Allah, the Lord of Glory and Majesty, has instructed the use of the first person plural, conveying thereby that this prayer is for the benefit of all brothers and not only for the benefit of the supplicant. Thus Allah urges the Muslims towards mutual accord, unity and love and requires that a supplicant should put himself to hardship for the promotion of his brother's welfare as he would put himself to hardship for the promotion of his own well-being and should concern himself with and strive to meet his brother's needs as he is concerned with and strives to meet his own needs, making no distinction between himself and his brother, and should be his brother's well-wisher, with all his heart as if Allah, the Sublime, had commanded: O My servants, give one another gifts of prayer as brothers and friends exchange gifts, and widen the scope of your prayers and your motives and your aims, making room in them for your brethren and become like brothers and fathers and sons in mutual affection.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, pp. 193 - 194]
Hudhur said that in the prayer ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ the aspects of planning and prayer are combined. As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) explains:
‘Welding together planning and prayer is Islam. That is why I continue to urge that one should plan as well as may be possible and pray as hard as possible, to be rid of sin and sloth. Both these aspects have been stressed in the very first chapter of the Holy Quran, the Fatiha, where we are instructed to pray: We worship Thee alone and we seek only Thy help. We worship Thee alone; calls for the practical effort needed and has been placed first so that man should first do everything appropriate in respect of necessary means and planning, but should at the same time, not neglect prayer; in fact, should keep it up along with practical effort. When a believer says:
We worship Thee alone, it suddenly strikes him that he has no capacity to worship Allah, the Sublime, unless His grace favours and helps him. Therefore he immediately prays: We seek Thy help. This is a fine point which Islam alone of all religions has appreciated. [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, pp. 194 - 195]
Likewise, he wrote:
‘The believer makes use of both effort and prayer. He plans well and puts forth his best effort and then leaving the matter in the hands of God, prays. This is the teaching imparted in the very first chapter of the Holy Quran: We worship Thee alone and pray to Thee for help. One who does not use his talents, not only destroys them and slights them but commits a sin.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, pp. 204 - 205]
‘Man's nature is certainly inclined to virtue. He, therefore, needs Divine help. That is why God has commanded the recitation of Surah Fatiha in the five daily Prayer services. In it we affirm: We worship Thee; and also: We implore Thy help. This conveys that in every righteous undertaking, one should make use of one's powers and capacities and should plan and work hard. This is the purpose of: We worship. One who devotes himself solely to prayer but does not make any effort, does not gain his purpose. If a cultivator having done the sowing, puts forth no further effort, how can he expect a good harvest? This is the way of Allah. He who sows the seed and then only prays and does nothing more will certainly reap nothing.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 205]
Hudhur said, in explaining that prayer should be made with a resolute mind for one does not know when it would gain acceptance, as prayer is accepted at an appointed time, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that God becomes the Helper of those who continue to pray to their Lord with humility: ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’, with the thought that may be God would accept some of their humility. He also said that it should be remembered about supplicating help that God has a right over it, therefore the prayer of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ has been taught in the Qur’an. Hudhur said this is a point that should be fully understood. Hudhur related an incident of a companion of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who was offering nafl Salat in Masjid Aqsa, Qadian for a long duration of time. Curious to know what was he praying, someone went up close to him and as he tried to listen, he heard the worshipper softly and repeatedly utter the prayer of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ for about fifteen minutes. Thus was the spirituality of those who gained the company of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). Hudhur said each believer should try and attain this insight, this perception and spirituality for this alone helps one pay the dues of ebudiyyat. He said:
‘In the verse: Guide us along the straight path; there is an urge towards praying for true understanding; as if He were teaching us by urging us to call upon Him so that He may demonstrate to us His attributes as they really are and may include us among the grateful.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 281]
Hudhur said we should pray to God with an insight into His attributes otherwise our prayer will be parrot-like repetition. Hudhur said the Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) attained the spiritual level for this as did those who kept the company of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and today too, there are people in our Jama’at who pray in this manner.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said a great barrier in attaining high spiritual station is hypocrisy which devours virtues, and arrogance, which is the worst vice and deviation which takes one away from the paths of good fortune. This is why taking mercy on His weak people, who can be inclined to err, as well as having compassion for those who endeavour in His ways, God has pointed out the remedy of these deadly ailments. Thus, He commanded that people should say, ‘Thee alone do we worship’ so that they can rid of the ailment of hypocrisy. And He commanded to say ‘Thee alone do we implore for help’ so that they can be saved from pride and arrogance. Next, He commanded to say, ‘Guide us’ so that they may be rid of deviation and selfish desires. He added that God cannot be a means of salvation until one adopts extreme humility, extreme effort and complete proficiency in understanding guidance.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that worship and prayer that gains acceptance is based on a few aspects. These are that one should have complete humility in view of God’s greatness and should praise and extol Him in view of His favours and kindness. And out of one’s love for Him, one should give preference to Him over everything else and in view of His Paradise, free oneself of Satan. Hudhur said with this in mind one would have a true concept of ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ and will be able to become an ebd (servant) of the Gracious God.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has explained that the prayer ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ signifies apparent worship as well as seeking its spiritual knowledge. In both these aspects the humility of man has been made evident. He further said that man claims to worship God but does worship connote a profusion of prostrations and other postures of Salat or fingering the rosary beads? Rather, he explained, that worship is when intense love draws one to God in a manner that one’s own self is erased in the process. First and foremost, there should be absolute belief in the Being of God, in addition complete awareness of His countless favours and blessings. Love of God should be so intense that His love is ever present in one’s heart and is also always apparent from one’s face. One should have such an acute understanding of God’s greatness that the rest of the world should appear dead by comparison. One should only fear Him and only find pleasure when in His Presence with the heart finding peace with no one but Him. Such a condition is called worship. However, a condition like this cannot be generated without special grace of God; therefore God has taught us the prayer: ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’.
Giving a summary of Salat, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that the essence of attainment of worship is that one should feel as if God is watching him or that he is watching God and one should be free of all manner of corruption and shirk (associating partners with God). One should only be aware of God’s Rububiyyat and His greatness and pray with profusion and seek forgiveness with abundance and repeatedly confess one’s weaknesses so that one may cleanse oneself and inculcate a solid connection with God and is absorbed solely in His love. Thus is the summary of Salat and all this is included in Surah Fatihah. One confesses one’s weakness in ‘Thee alone do we worship’. Entreaty is made for help and next, prayer is made to tread the path of Prophets and Messengers. In addition, entreaty is made to attain those blessings which were granted to Prophets and refuge is sought against those who rejected Prophets and deviated from the right path.
In explaining aversion to sin, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said there is no greater blessing than to have an aversion from sin. This can be attained with planning and with prayer. The prayer ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ signifies that one utilises all God-given strength and capacity and then entrust the rest to God. Foolish are those who do not employ their capability and only wish for God’s help. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said ‘if one endeavours and then prays, God saves him if he then falters.’
Explaining two Divine attributes, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said:
‘The Holy Quran cites two attributes of Allah, the Exalted, Al-Hayy, the Ever-Living and Al-Qayyum, the Life-Sustaining. Al-Hayy means the Living and the Life-giving and Al-Qayyum means the Self-subsisting and All-sustaining. The inner and outer life of everything is due to these two attributes. The attribute Hayy (Ever-Living) demands that He should be adored as directed in Surah Fatiha: We worship Thee; and Al-Qayyum requires that His support should be sought, as in: We implore Thy help.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 208]
Hudhur said we can only meet our needs, be they worldly or spiritual, by becoming true servants of God and that Salat is the core of worship. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said:
‘The highest worship is constant watchfulness over the five daily Prayer services in the early portion of their timing and to endeavour with eager attention to derive the utmost blessing therefrom, through strict observance of obligatory and voluntary parts. For, Prayer (Salat) is a mount that carries the worshipper to the Lord of men, transporting him to a station he could not reach on the back of fast-running horses. The object of Prayer cannot be achieved with arrows, and its mystery cannot be unfolded by pens. Whoso makes this method obligatory on himself arrives at the truth and discovers the reality and meets the Friend Who is hidden behind the screens of invisibility and is delivered from doubt and uncertainty. His days become bright, his words shine like pearls, his face becomes refulgent like the full moon and his station is elevated. Whoso makes himself lowly before Allah in Prayer will find that God makes kings humble before him and makes such a slave a master.’ [Commentary of the Holy Qur’an Vol I, p. 202]
Hudhur said that no doubt Salat is the highest form of worship, and brings man closer to God, however, some people say they do not achieve a sense of satisfaction in Salat . The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) says in this regard that some people say they do not derive pleasure from Salat. What they should do is repeatedly recite ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’ and seek refuge from Satan. Those who adopt this tirelessly, attain their objective. However, there should be a tenderness and honesty in their prayer.
Hudhur prayed that may God enable us to put these gems of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) in practice and may we be included among those who are ever steadfast and who are kept in God’s refuge. May we fully benefit from the blessings of Ramadan. Hudhur urged to intensify prayers in the remaining days of Ramadan.