Friday Sermon delivered at Masjid Mubarak, Islamabad, Tilford, UK
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that many people ask regarding prayer. Especially today, many people question prayer and God. In fact, it seems that there are organised attacks against God by atheists. People are being taken away from God. In such circumstances, even our people fall prey to such satanic thoughts and make them doubtful regarding prayer, God, and their faith.
His Holiness(aba) said that in the face of trial or failure, those who are weak of faith or the less knowledgeable think that either their faith is false and there is no truth to it or that God will not have mercy on them and take them out of their sufferings; they feel that God is cruel to them due to their circumstances. They feel that despite having prayed, their circumstances are not improving.
His Holiness(aba) said that such questions and doubts arise in the minds of those who are more inclined to the world. Many such people write to His Holiness(aba) as well, expressing their negative opinions. Instead, one ought to reflect on themselves and evaluate how well they are fulfilling the rights of God, and what the standard of their worship is.
His Holiness(aba) said that today, he would speak about prayer and its philosophy, its etiquettes, our responsibility, the need for prayer and certainty in God in light of the writings of the Promised Messiah(as).
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that it is due to the mercy of Allah that one is fearful during times of comfort just as he is fearful during times of distress. He who does not forget God Almighty during times of ease is not forgotten by God Almighty during times of hardship. However, those who spend their time of ease in enjoyment and only resort to prayer in hardship, their prayers are not accepted. When the punishment of God comes, then the doors of the acceptance of prayers are closed.
Truly pious are those who remain in the state of prayer before such punishment comes upon them, who gives alms, fulfils the commandments of God and is kind to God’s creation.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that a tree is distinguished by its fruits in the same way that a pious person is distinguished by his virtues.
His Holines(aba) said that one should never forget God, and if one is fulfilling this right, then God Almighty says such a person from hardship. Our worldly engagements should not take us away from worshipping and praying to God Almighty.
Whilst further elaborating on how one should beseech God Almighty, the etiquettes of prayer and how God Almighty has imparted these etiquettes to us Himself, the Promised Messiah(as) states that praying to God Almighty demands reverence. When people ask something of their king, they make sure to revere him. It is for this reason that we call upon the attributes of Allah and praise Him in Surah al-Fatihah. We call him worthy of all praise, Rahman (Gracious) and Rahim (Merciful). Rahim means that he does not allow for true effort to go to waste. Furthermore, we address God Almighty as the Master of the Day of Judgement, for He will be the Judge on that day.
Once we truly recognise God Almighty to be present, then we beseech him to show us the right path; a path that is straight. There is a path upon which people tread, but their efforts are wasted. On the other hand, there is another path upon which all the efforts of the individual are rewarded. Thereafter, we pray to be guided upon the path of those who have been rewarded. Furthermore, we seek protection from the path of those who have angered God Almighty and have gone astray.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that when we pray for guidance to the right path, it includes all worldly and spiritual paths. For instance, a doctor cannot treat a patient without treading on the right path. Similarly, all professions and success require one to tread on the right path, and this can only be achieved if one has a relationship with Allah.
When the Promised Messiah(as) was saying this, a person in the audience asked what need the prophets had for such a prayer. Why did the Holy Prophet(sa) have to offer such a prayer? He was always on the right path. The Promised Messiah(as) said that the prophets would offer this prayer to attain a higher rank. In fact, a believer will offer this prayer in the hereafter as well; just as there are no limits to God Almighty, there are no limits to the progress a believer can make.
His Holiness(aba) said that these are the principles and etiquettes of prayer that should be kept in view whilst praying. If one does this, then they are able to experience the closeness of Allah the Almighty and learn how to pray for their needs before Him.
Regarding prayer and its etiquettes, His Holiness(aba) quotes the Promised Messiah(as) who further states that prayer is an extraordinary thing. However, it is unfortunate that those who ask for prayers and those who offer prayers in this era are unaware of the ways to attain the acceptance of prayers. In fact, they are far removed from the philosophy of prayer. Some reject prayer from the get go, while others move away from prayer because they are oblivious to the methods of having their prayers accepted. Such people have brought others toward atheism. For successful prayer, one should be patient and steadfast and not think ill of God. It is often seen that when a supplicant is about to attain the object of his prayer, he tires and gives up. Owing to this, they reject prayer and eventually renounce their belief in God. They claim that if God actually existed, then He would have surely accepted the many prayers they offered. Such a person should ponder over their lack of faith and persistence, because that is the true cause of their failure. One must not be hasty and strengthen their faith.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that one should never tire. The case of a supplicant is similar to a farmer who plants a seed in the ground. He plants a perfectly edible seed into the ground, yet no one can comprehend that this seed is now taking the shape of a growing plant. Within a few days, that seed begins to sprout. From the moment that seed was planted in the ground, it began its preparations to become a plant. An inexperienced child would question why the seed does not become a plant and produce fruits right away. On the other hand, the farmer, through his experience, knows that this process requires time. The same process is required for prayer. Prayer needs nourishment, but those who are hasty never see the fruit of their prayer.
In regard to the patience of a true supplicant, the Promised Messiah(as) states that many people never witness the result of their prayers because they are unaware of the stages of prayer that must be crossed. They become hasty and are not patient. God Almighty works gradually. It has never happened that a person marries today and has a child the next. Although God Almighty is All-Powerful, yet he has instituted laws to govern the world.
Everyone is aware of the many steps that must be taken to have a child, many of which are painstaking and difficult. Up until four months of pregnancy, nothing is certain. Doctors (according to the technology at that time) could only take scans after 12 weeks.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that once a child is born, the mother is also reborn. A mother endures many pains to give birth to the child, and only after bearing pain and hardship does she find happiness in her child. In the same manner, in prayer, one must endure and be patient and not be quick to tire. After remaining persistent, one will witness the result of their prayers.
His Holiness(aba) said that only after evaluating oneself can one come to terms with whether they have prayed earnestly or not. The Promised Messiah(as) further states that one must continue to pray for a long period, after which God Almighty manifests to them. It has been observed that when a beggar remains steadfast at someone’s door, is persistent in his begging and emotional, he is able to convince even the most miserly person. Should a supplicant not be at least as persistent as such a beggar? God Almighty can never turn away a supplicant who is persistently beseeching Him.
A person who is hasty is always at a loss, and some even become atheists as a result. There is no power greater than God Almighty. He made the Arabs kings of the world, whereas before they were nothing. If one devotes themselves completely to God, then they can attain anything in the world.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that it was the sincerity and loyalty of Abraham(as) that granted him the status that he attained. He prayed that a great prophet should emerge from among his progeny in Arabia. No one could tell how that prayer would manifest, but it was fulfilled with grandeur in the form of the advent of the Holy Prophet(sa).
His Holiness(aba) said that keeping this guidance in view, one should not only pray during hardship but also in times of ease and comfort.
Then, His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as), who explained that prayer requires a bond between the body and spirit. He states that if prayer and other forms of worship like fasting are devoid of sincerity and honesty, then it is of no consequence. Many mystics and monks perform a great deal of rituals that cause them pain, however there are no results. They perform physical exercises and rituals that have no effect on their soul. For this reason, Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:
Their flesh reaches not Allah, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him. (The Holy Qur’an, 22:38)
In reality, Allah the Almighty is not pleased with an empty shell, rather He desires the crux. Prayers must not be empty, rather they must hold a true spirit supplication. The Promised Messiah(as) further states that now the question arises, what is the need for offering prayer when it is only the spirit behind it that reaches God? One could simply offer prayers in their heart with sincerity and there would be no need for ritualistic prayers. The answer to this is that those who cease bodily actions cannot employ their soul and spirit. On the other hand, if one only uses their body and physical means, they too are gravely mistaken. The body and soul are connected; if a person cries artificially, he will eventually become truly emotional, and if one smiles artificially, the one will eventually become happy. Similar is the case of prayer. If the body exhibits humility, the prayer will also embody that same spirit. An empty prostration is futile unless it is accompanied by true humility. It is for this reason that prostration is the pinnacle of prayer. Animals display this as well.
His Holiness(aba) states that the body also manifests what is being felt by the soul. If the soul is distressed, then the body also shows signs of fatigue and weariness. The Promised Messiah(as) further states that the physical and spiritual realms run in tandem. Therefore, it is necessary that whilst praying, one should demonstrate their humility through their actions. Even if at first it is artificial, yet it slowly develops into something sincere. As a result, one will not only go to God Almighty in a time of need, but will remain at God’s threshold all the time.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states all pleasure and comfort comes after pain. It is for this reason that the Holy Quran states:
Aye, surely there is ease after hardship. (The Holy Qur’an, 94:7)
Thus, if one does not find pleasure in prayer, they should evaluate whether they have endured hardship and pain for their prayers. One should be mindful of all the requirements of prayer and offer them on time. Furthermore, one should sacrifice their sleep for prayer.
His Holiness(aba) stated that sometimes, people do not put effort into their own prayers and think that their problems will be solved if they request others to pray for them. Such people do not even offer their five daily prayers regularly. In this regard, a son asked for the Promised Messiah(as) to pray for his father. In response, the Promised Messiah(as) advised that he should pray earnestly himself. If he prayed himself, only then would the prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) be of benefit to him.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that when a person takes pain upon himself and forsakes the things that displease God, then such a person will be able to impact their soul. Such hardships endured for the sake of God will impact the soul, and this will allow for the soul to truly supplicate to God. Some people play instruments or dance around as worship. Although these things are enjoyable, they have no impact on the soul. Other nations are oblivious to this because they have not understood the true philosophy of prayer.
Furthermore, the Promised Messiah(as) states that Abraham was loyal and sincere to God, thus he was rewarded with a high rank. Sincerity to God requires a sort of death, and only after accepting that death can one be devoted to God. Idolatry is not limited to worshipping a tree or stone, rather, anything that impedes us from attaining the love of God leads to idolatry. Everyone has made idols within themselves, and it is only when one forsakes everything for God that they are able to free themselves from idolatry.
When Abraham(as) agreed to sacrifice his son for God Almighty, then God Almighty protected him from all sorts of pain. He was thrown into the fire but it could not burn him. All of this is the result of both the body and soul; there must be a connection, otherwise prayers devoid of this are in vain.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states that everything has its own time. One who tries to achieve something in a time that is inappropriate will certainly fall to failure. At the time of hardship, when one resorts to prayer, it is certainly possible that more trials come upon a person. The case of Moses(as) is a prime example of this. When he sought to ease the struggles of his people, they were increased manifold. Moses(as) advised his people to be patient, but they became even more restless. FInally, they were commanded to migrate. At that instance, the Pharaoh pursued them, and the people fell into despair thinking that they would be caught. However, Moses(as) had faith that his God was with him. They were made to cross the Nile River safely, and the Pharaoh met his end. This is the way in which Allah the Almighty helps His true supplicants. Nonetheless, before such help appears, one is subjected to trials that at times seem unbearable.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that one should be humble and supplicate to Allah the Almighty with pain and restlessness. In fact, praying with pain and emotion is a sign that one’s prayer will be accepted. Thus, one should not think ill of God and fall into despair. Rather, one should try to pray and supplicate with pain and humility even in times of ease and comfort, instead of only in times of hardship.
The Promised Messiah(as) states that a believer should always be active and not fall prey to laziness. One should be passionate about performing good deeds and excelling in virtues.
In the end, His Holiness(aba) said that we should pray for the Ahmadis in Pakistan and in other parts of the world such as Algeria who are facing cruelties and discrimination. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah protect Ahmadis all across the world and nullify the attacks and efforts of the enemy.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions.
After reciting the tashahhud, ta‘awwuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) stated:
Many people ask questions in relation to prayer; especially nowadays, people readily pose questions in relation to God and prayers. Moreover, proponents of atheism are launching scathing attacks on the existence of God Almighty and religion through a strategic initiative. They are trying to distance man from God and religion through various means. Satan disguises himself as being sympathetic towards mankind and through this, tries to distance man from religion and God Almighty. In such circumstances, even our own people are at times and in certain places affected by these satanic thoughts. Or the comments of worldly people and the opponents of religion begin to create restlessness within them about religion, God Almighty and worship. Doubts start forming in the hearts of people who are less informed. If those who are of weak faith or less educated face trials or meet with failure, they immediately start thinking that either the religion they are following is wrong and is not based on any truth, or that God Almighty cannot be merciful [towards us] as He did not accept their prayers and remove them from these trials and tribulations. Or [they think] that God Almighty has – God forbid – been unjust to them and despite offering supplications, their difficulties are not being removed as a result of which they are passing through such difficult circumstances.
In short, many such questions arise in the minds of various individuals, especially those who are only concerned with worldly matters. Some people write to me as well or pose questions by mentioning their own circumstances. In light of this, it appears that they do not have the level of certainty regarding Allah the Almighty’s existence that they ought to possess. Furthermore, given the state of the society around them, if they are faced with even the smallest of difficulties, they start to develop negative thoughts and begin harbouring doubts. Whereas in reality they should reflect on their own conditions and think to what degree they are trying to fulfil the rights of Allah the Almighty; to what degree are they trying to adorn their worship, to what extent have they elevated the level of their supplications and what is the state of their faith in Allah the Almighty.
Nonetheless, today I will speak on the topic of prayer in light of the teachings of the Promised Messiah(as). This topic has been discussed at great length in the writings and guidance imparted by the Promised Messiah(as). In any case, I will mention various aspects which shed some light on the essence of prayer, its etiquettes, our responsibilities, its necessity and [the reasons for] belief in Allah the Almighty. As a matter of fact, [the Promised Messiah’s elaboration] removes all forms of doubt [about prayer].
Drawing our attention towards the fact that we should be mindful of praying and supplicating to Allah the Almighty even during favourable circumstances so that our prayers find acceptance at times of difficulties as well, the Promised Messiah(as) says:
“The mercy of Allah descends on that individual who fears Him whilst in a state of ease, in the same manner, he fears Him when faced with difficulty. The one who does not forget God Almighty at times of peace will not be forgotten by God at times of difficulties. However, the one who spends the time of peace heedless of Him and starts praying at times of difficulties, their prayers will not find acceptance. When divine punishment descends, the door for repentance is closed. Thus, how fortunate is the one who remains occupied in supplications prior to the descent of divine punishment, gives charity, honours the decree of God, is benevolent towards the creation of Allah and performs deeds in an excellent manner! These are the very characteristics of those people termed as ‘fortune’.”
The Promised Messiah(as) said: “A tree is recognised by its fruits. As such, it is easy to identify someone who is fortunate as well as the one who is ill-fated.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 229-230)
Thus, a true believer must never be negligent toward fulfilling the rights of Allah and His creation in times of ease and comfort. If one continues to fulfil these rights, then God Almighty will Himself save that individual from times of hardship and will accept their prayers. It is a fundamental principle that we must never become indolent in our worship and prayers. We should not allow our worldly engagements to prevent us from fulfilling the rights of Allah the Almighty.
Then, whilst elaborating on what a person’s condition ought to be at the time of seeking from God Almighty, the etiquettes of prayer and that we have been taught these etiquettes by Allah the Almighty Himself, the Promised Messiah(as) states:
“To invoke God Almighty requires one to revere Him. When a sensible person asks something from a king, he is always mindful to be courteous. It is for this reason that God Almighty has taught us how to beseech Him in Surah al-Fatihah [the opening chapter of the Holy Quran]. We are taught to pray:
ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّہِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِینَ
That is, ‘All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds’ (first and foremost, we must praise Allah the Almighty). [Then we say] Al-Rahman, in other words, the One Who gives without being asked. Thereafter, we say Al-Rahim; meaning the One who bestows a bountiful reward for one’s earnest effort.’
One should focus intently on what true effort constitutes; Allah the Almighty rewards true and earnest efforts and He Himself has outlined its standards. Primarily, earnest efforts require one to struggle for the cause of Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiah(as) then states:
“This is followed by the words:
مَٰلِکِ یَوۡمِ ٱلدِّینِ
which means the decision whether to reward or punish rests with Allah alone; it is at His discretion whether to punish or show mercy. He is the Master of punishment and reward not only in the hereafter, but also in this world.” Do not consider Him to only manifest this attribute in the hereafter. Whatever occurs in this world is also decided by Allah the Almighty.
The Promised Messiah(as) further states:
“When one offers praise to this degree, they begin to realise just how great God is, the Lord, Rahman [the Gracious], and Rahim [the Merciful]. Up until this point [in the chapter], one addresses God indirectly, but it is now that one calls to Him as though He is present (at first, one does not address God directly). Thereafter, one perceives Allah the Almighty to be manifest and calls out to Him as though he can see Him. He calls out to God, saying:
إِیَّاکَ نَعۡبُدُ وَإِیَّاکَ نَسۡتَعِینُ
That is, O Allah, it is You alone that we worship, or it is you alone Whom we desire to worship, thus, we beseech You for help.
Then, we pray:
ٱہۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِیمَ
In other words, [we pray to find] a path that is completely straight and free from every sort of corruption. There is one path like that of the [spiritually] blind, who toil and struggle only to tire themselves out, but achieve nothing as a result. However, there is also another path upon which our efforts actually produce results.
Furthermore, we pray:
صِرَٰطَ ٱلَّذِینَ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ
That is, guide us to the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your blessings. This is the very path that is straight and upon which our efforts yield rewards. Thereafter, we pray:
غَیۡرِ ٱلۡمَغۡضُوبِ عَلَیۡہِمۡ
That is, do not take us down the path of those who have displeased You, and
nor of those who have fallen to misguidance and those who have strayed far away.”
“The prayer: ٱہۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِیمَ [‘Guide us to the right path’] refers to all matters, be they secular or pertaining to faith. For instance, a doctor would not be able to treat his patient if he did not find the right path for treatment. Similarly, every lawyer, professional or expert has their own right path through which they can easily achieve their objective. For this reason, one should seek out the right path in worldly matters as well, and one can only be successful in this if they have a relationship with Allah the Almighty.”
In the gathering where the Promised Messiah(as) was explaining this, a person raised an objection and asked why prophets needed to pray; such prayers should only be for ordinary men. What need do prophets have for such prayers? Why did the Holy Prophet(sa) offer these prayers? He was already on the right path. In response, the Promised Messiah(as) said:
“They [the prophets] would offer these prayers to ascend to higher ranks and stations. In fact, the prayer ٱہۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِیمَ will be offered by believers even in the hereafter. Just as Allah the Almighty has no limits, there are no bounds for the progress and ascension to higher levels in the hereafter.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 399-400)
Thus, these are the principles that should be kept in view when offering prayer. As a result, one will truly be able to recognise the love of God Almighty and understand the way to invoke Him for their needs.
Then, with respect to prayer and its etiquettes, the Promised Messiah(as) further elaborated:
“Prayer is an extraordinary thing. Regrettably, however, today, neither those who ask others to pray for them, nor those who offer prayers are acquainted with the ways of attaining the acceptance of prayers. In fact, they are far removed from the true philosophy of prayer. There are some who have rejected prayer altogether. However, there are also those who, despite not rejecting prayer, find themselves in an even more deplorable state; despite offering prayers, their prayers were not accepted because they were oblivious to the etiquettes of prayer, and so their prayers were not deemed as true prayers. (They were unable to offer prayer in the true sense and thus were not accepted). That is why their state is even worse than that of those who reject prayer altogether. The behaviour of such people has led others to atheism.
“First and foremost, true prayer requires that the supplicant never tires, never falls to despair nor thinks ill of Allah the Almighty. One should never give up on Allah the Almighty and assume the worst. It is often observed that when the fervent prayers of a supplicant are about to be accepted, the supplicant becomes weary and stops. This can only result in failure and despondency, the detrimental consequences of which cause one to renounce the efficacy of prayer. Such a person eventually renounces their belief in God. Atheism overcomes them and they question; if God truly existed and had the power to answer prayers, why did He not accept their prayers during this lengthy period? However, if such a person who stumbles in this way and harbours such thoughts reflects on their own indecisiveness and lack of steadfastness, they would realise that their failure was a result of their own haste and impatience.”
Today they are resolute, but tomorrow they waver; such people possess no resolve or steadfastness. If one acts in haste, then that is the result of their own mistakes. If one is steadfast, shuns their impatience and bolsters their faith, they would never have to experience this. The reason their prayer was not accepted is that they were hasty.
The Promised Messiah(as) continues: “These are the people who are overcome with ill thinking and despair because they did not recognize God to possess all power and might. Thus, one should never grow weary.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 415-217)
The Promised Messiah(as) then gave everyday examples of the one who is steadfast in prayer by stating:
“The example of prayer is like the sowing of a seed by a farmer. In the apparent circumstances he buries a good seed in the soil; but at that time who could imagine that the grain of seed will grow up in the form of a good tree and bear fruit? Outsiders and even the cultivator himself cannot [physically] see that the grain is assuming the form of a plant inside the earth. But the reality is that within a few days, the grain undergoes a change and begins to assume the shape of a plant till its shoot emerges from the earth. (The quality of a seed is that at first, its roots begin to grow, which then become firm in the earth, and then its shoots sprout forth) and becomes visible to everyone. From the moment the grain was placed in the earth, it began its preparation to become a plant, but an eye that can only perceive what is visible cannot comprehend its existence until its shoot emerges from the earth and it becomes apparent. At such a stage, an innocent child cannot understand that the plant will only bear fruit at its due time. (Since the plant has emerged, but has yet to bear fruit, an innocent child will think such a small plant cannot bear fruit due to its size.) He desires to see it bearing fruit immediately, but an intelligent cultivator will know the appointed time for it to bear fruit. He looks after it steadfastly and nurtures it till the time comes when it bears fruit and also becomes ripe.
“So too is the case with prayer; it is nurtured in the same way and bears fruit. Those who are hasty tire quickly and give up, and those who are steadfast persevere and arrive at their objective.” Those who are farsighted, patient in waiting for the outcome, who are steadfast in their work and continue to pray “arrive at their objective.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, p. 417)
Whilst describing the level of patience of those who persevere in prayer, the Promised Messiah(as) continues:
“It is true that there are many stages in prayer, ignorance of which deprives the supplicants of receiving the fruits of their prayers. They are in a hurry and cannot demonstrate patience, whereas in the works of the Almighty, there is a steady progression. It never happens that a man marries today and a child is born to him the next morning. Though God is All-Powerful and can do whatever He wills, compliance with the law and the system that He has appointed is necessary. In the first stages of childbearing, nothing is known [about the child], as is the case when growing vegetation. (Just like the case with plants and vegetation, one is unaware of the reality in the beginning. The same is true of the development of a child in humans or animals. The example given here is in the case of humans). For four months, there is no certainty. Then some movement begins to be felt and after the full term has elapsed, the child is born after great toil.”
Even now, doctors only carry out a scan after 12 weeks. So despite all the modern technology, the true condition of the foetus only becomes clear to the doctors after the scan, which they conduct after 12 weeks. The time when the Promised Messiah(as) was mentioning this, was an era that was not as advanced technologically. However, the Promised Messiah(as) is expounding upon a law of nature.
“The birth of the child also gives a new lease of life to the mother. (When a child is born, it is not the case that it is a simple procedure, the woman is given a new lease on life, as it were.) It is difficult for a man to truly comprehend the pain and struggle that a woman has to endure during her pregnancy, but it is true that the birth of a child is the beginning of a new life for the mother. She has to first accept death upon herself after which she can enjoy the reward. In the same way, it is necessary for a supplicant to discard haste, endure all troubles (he should not show haste but endure the difficulties and continue to pray) and never imagine that one’s prayer is not accepted. At last, the time arrives for the result of the prayer to be manifested, for example, the time for the child to be born draws close. A prayer should be carried on to the limit until it produces a result. (One must ensure their prayer reaches such a stage first.) You will have observed that a piece of cloth is placed under a burning glass and the rays of the sun concentrate upon it and their heat arrives at the degree that sets the cloth on fire. In the same way, it is necessary that a prayer should be carried on to a stage where it should develop the power of burning up failures and frustrations and to fulfil the desired purpose.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, p. 418)
Thus, every supplicant will be able to analyse for themselves and decide whether they have reached such a stage or not.
Then, presenting a line from a Persian proverb, the Promised Messiah(as) says:
پیدااست ندا را کہ است جنابت
Meaning: ‘From the echo of my supplications it is apparent that Your royal court is certainly lofty and grand.’
He then states, “One has to be occupied with prayer for a long time and then God Almighty manifests the results. It is my experience, which is borne out by the experience of the righteous ones of the past, that if there is silence for a long time, there is the hope of success, (there is hope that one has been afforded more chance to pray and so there is a hope that Allah will grant it acceptance,) but if there is a quick reply (or has been rejected,) the purpose is not likely to be achieved. We see in the world that when a beggar goes to someone and begs with humility and earnestness and even after he is rebuked, he does not move from his place (the person whose house he visits scolds him, but the beggar remains resolute) and continues his pleas, then, in the end, the person from whom he has asked is moved and bestows something on the beggar despite being a miser (he ends up giving him something to the beggar). Then, should not a supplicant have at least as much steadfastness as an ordinary beggar?
“When God Almighty, Who is Benevolent and possesses Majesty, sees that His humble servant has been prostrate at His threshold for a long time, He does not allow him to perish. If a pregnant woman should become impatient after four or five months and should take some abortive medicine, would the child be born, (it would be aborted) or would she herself end up feeling despair and loss? In the same way, he who acts in haste before the appointed time only suffers loss and not only incurs loss, but puts his faith in danger. In this condition, some people become atheists. There was a carpenter in our village whose wife fell ill and then died. He said that had there been a God, his countless prayers would have been accepted and his wife would not have died. In this way, he became an atheist.
“If a virtuous person demonstrates loyalty and sincerity, their faith increases and they achieve their purpose. The riches of this world have no value in the estimation of God Almighty. He can do everything in a single moment. Have you not seen that He bestowed sovereignty on a people who were entirely unknown? (What was the condition of the Arab Bedouins [before Islam]? Allah made them into kings) and made great kingdoms subservient to them and made kings out of slaves. If a person is righteous and becomes wholly God’s, he would lead an excellent life, but the condition is that he should be sincere and possess resolve. His heart should never be shaken and there should be no showing off and not an iota of idolatry within it. What was there in Abraham that made him the father of his people and the father of those who are devoted to God, and what caused God Almighty to bestow upon him countless magnificent blessings? It was his righteousness and his sincerity. Abraham had prayed for a Prophet to appear in Arabia from among his progeny. Was it accepted at once? For a long time after Abraham, no one paid any attention to that prayer, yet it was fulfilled through the advent of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and observe how it was fulfilled with all its grandeur and majesty.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 419-420)
Hence, as has been mentioned already, one should not only supplicate in times of difficulty, rather, one should continue to supplicate even in times when Allah Almighty grants one ease and comfort. In relation to the acceptance of prayer, and the need for a link between the body and soul, and how that bond should be, the Promised Messiah(as) states:
“There is no benefit in the physical prayer and fasting which is bereft of sincerity and loyalty (even if one supplicates, it is of no use if the soul does not melt). Jogis and sanyasis [Hindu hermits] also carry out great exercises in their own ways and it is often witnessed that some go to the extent that they wither their arm.” They raise their hands and keep them raised for several days until they become withered. “They endure great rigorous tasks and put themselves through great trials and difficulties, yet these difficulties grant them no [spiritual] light nor do they attain any peace and tranquillity. In fact, their internal state is only being ruined. They carry out physical exercises that have little connection to their inner state, nor do they impact their spirituality.” They can put on an apparent spectacle, and undergo hardships, starve themselves for long periods, and endure many difficulties, yet they cannot display any proof to indicate the level of their spirituality. “This is why Allah Almighty has stated in the Holy Quran:
لَن یَنَالَ ٱللَّہَ لُحُومُہَا وَلَا دِمَآؤُہَا وَلَٰکِن یَنَالُہُ ٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ مِنکُمۡ ۚ
‘Their flesh reaches not Allah, nor does their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him.’ (The Holy Quran, 22:38)
In reality, Allah Almighty does not desire the outer shell, rather, He desires the essence. Now the question arises: If the flesh and blood do not reach Allah but only one’s righteousness does, then what need is there for offering a sacrifice? Similarly, if prayer and fasts are only for the soul, then what need is there for the physical observation of these?” That is, if one offers their prayers, supplicates, weeps and beseeches God Almighty in their heart whilst sitting down – as was the way people of previous religions used to pray – then what is the need for the different stages of Salat; standing, bowing and prostrating?
The Promised Messiah(as) states:
“The answer to this is that it is a confirmed matter that those people who do not put their physical faculties to use, their soul refuses to comply with them. They cannot develop humility and devotion to God Almighty, which is the actual objective. And those who simply use their physical faculties and do not involve their soul, also fall into a dangerous error. The Jogis are from this category; they exert themselves physically but form no link with their soul. Allah the Almighty has made a connection between the body and the soul, and the body affects the soul. For example, owing to some sort of distress, if a person wishes to cry, they will eventually end up crying; on the contrary, if they pretend to laugh, they will eventually begin to laugh. Similarly, the different stages the body undergoes in Salat; for example, standing or bowing, they too have an effect on the soul; the more humility and humbleness is adopted by the body, the more humility develops within the soul. However, God Almighty does not accept that one simply prostrates before Him. (If one simply prostrates, but does not adopt humility and humbleness, and the soul does not have a connection with one’s action, then Allah does not accept such prostrations.) However, the prostration has a profound link with the soul. It is for this reason that the prostration forms the last part of the prayer. When a person reaches the ultimate stage of humility, one naturally wishes to fall into prostration. It is in man’s nature that when he wishes to express his utmost state of humbleness, he bows and falls into prostration.”
“We see this trait even within animals. When a dog wishes to express its love for its master, it comes and rests its head on the feet of the master and expresses its love in a similar manner to the way one expresses their love through prostration [in salat]. It is evident, therefore, that the body has a special connection with the soul. In the same way, the soul also affects the body. When the soul is distressed, its effects are apparent on the body; tears and dejection become visible in that person; (one begins to feel sorrow and grief. If a person’s soul feels grief or they feel anguish in their heart, then the body also feels lethargic and their mood is affected in a similar manner. Others can also witness and feel that the person is going through hardship. Such a person does not wish to sit in any gathering and if they present in one, everyone begins to question them as to what the matter is.) If the body and soul do not have a connection, then why does this happen? Indeed, the circulation of blood around the body is the task of the heart; there is no doubt that the heart irrigates the body and functions like an engine. Everything occurs through its contraction and relaxation, (circulation occurs when the heart pumps [blood around the body]). Thus, the spiritual and physical systems both run in parallel; (the heart contracts, then relaxes, then contracts and relaxes and it runs the entire system of the body as it pumps blood in this way. The Promised Messiah(as) explains that the physical and spiritual systems also run in parallel.)
“When the soul develops humility, the body also adopts it. Therefore, when the soul truly develops humility and humbleness, the body inevitably exhibits these traits. Likewise, if the body adopts certain traits, it impacts the soul. Therefore, when one stands before their Lord for prayers, it is vital to exhibit humbleness and faithfulness. Although at the time it may be one form of hypocrisy (i.e. it is hypocritical that the heart does not incline towards humility but you forcefully express it), however, it is vital for you to do this because, over time, its effect will become permanent and one will develop it. At this point, both the body and the soul will begin to work together.” The Promised Messiah(as) further states: “The soul then actually begins to develop humility and devotion.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 420-422)
And when one develops this condition, one begins to experience delight in prayer. Then one does not turn to God Almighty for one’s own demands, rather, one turns to God Almighty out of love for Him and turns to prayer due to the relationship established with Him.
Expanding further on this, the Promised Messiah(as) states:
“Some people assert that they do not derive pleasure in prayer, but they do not know that in order to derive pleasure is not in one’s own control and that there are various aspects to pleasure itself. At times one is in extreme amounts of pain, however, they consider even that extreme pain to be enjoyable.”
When the Promised Messiah(as) was mentioning this, the Transvaal War of Independence was taking place. He references this and gives the example of those fighting in that war, saying:
“Despite the fact that lives are being lost, women are being widowed and children are being orphaned, a sense of national pride and safeguarding the nation give them that pleasure, which drives them to the brink of death. (They are sacrificing for their nation.) They willingly go to their deaths owing to their patriotism and sense of duty. At the same time, their people value their efforts and their sacrificing themselves as their goal is mutual. (That is, both have the same goal; one group is sacrificing themselves and the other is encouraging them and valuing that sacrifice.) Why is it that their efforts are valued? It is due to their pain and agony that they are suffering and that is why they are valued. (The efforts and sacrifices of those fighting for freedom are valued because of the pain and suffering they endure for the sake of the cause) Hence, true delight is experienced after one undergoes pain. For this reason, the Holy Quran has mentioned the principle:
إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِیُسۡرٗا
“Prior to experiencing pleasure, if there is no pain that precedes it, then that pleasure is not true pleasure. Similarly, those people who say they do not experience any delight in their worship, they first ought to ponder over how much pain and suffering they have endured for the sake of worship? (If they do not experience pleasure, they ought to ponder whether they have gone to any hardships for the sake of worship.) The amount a person suffers for the sake of worship, is the same amount that is turned into a delight for them. By pain and agony, I do not mean those pains that one endures unnecessarily or those unbearable burdens one claims to undergo.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 422-423)
He was referring to the fact that one should strive to offer the prayers with all the prerequisites; i.e. one ought to abandon their sleep, put aside their work,pray on timewith the fear of Allah in mind.
There are some people who do not wish to put themselves in any sort of trouble [for the sake of prayer]. Instead, they think that they can ask others to pray for them and in this way, their problems will be resolved. When they are questioned, it becomes evident that they do not even regularly offer the five daily prayers. Once, a son requested prayers from the Promised Messiah(as) for his father. The prayer was not for any material gain, rather it was for [steadfastness in] his faith. The Promised Messiah(as) said: “Pray for him with full earnestness, (as in he should also pray for him) Just as the prayer of a father is accepted in favour of his son, in the same way, the prayers of the son are also accepted in favour of the father.” The Promised Messiah(as) advised that individual, “When you pray earnestly for him, it is then that my prayers will take effect.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 187-188)
That is, when he prays fervently and earnestly, it is then that the prayers of the Promised Messiah(as) will take effect, otherwise, they will not. Thus, those who request others for prayers should not solely rely on others, rather, they ought to pray earnestly themselves as well.
With regards to the ways in which one can derive pleasure from their worship, the Promised Messiah(as) says: “Remember, if a person is engrossed in things that they love to carry out, but are loathsome in the eyes of Allah, when one decides to abandon them for the sake of Allah the Almighty and places themselves in pain as a result of it, then the body that experiences this pain causes an effect on the soul.”
What sort of pain did they endure? Previously, it was mentioned that one ought to place oneself in pain [for the sake of worship]. What are those pains and difficulties that one must endure; it is the pain of abandoning those things or habits that Allah the Almighty has declared to be loathsome. Even if one experiences pain in abandoning those habits, one ought to. Thus, when one endures this pain, it impacts the soul, and the soul begins to make changes within itself, to the extent that with the utmost obedience, it falls at the divine threshold. Therefore, when one leaves certain habits for the sake of Allah and experiences such anguish, the soul is affected by this and the soul will submit before Allah the Almighty in the prostration and bowing [positions] of prayer. This is the way in which one can derive pleasure from worship.
“You would have seen many people who think that experiencing delight in worship means to sing some hymns, or to play the trumpet and this is what they deem to be the meaning of worship. (They close their eyes and go into a trance-like state and think that this is worship, or they listen to hymns and think that their worship is complete.) Do not be fooled by this. These things may well be a source of satisfaction for one’s baser self, but the soul experiences no delight from them. Through these practices, the soul cannot develop the precious qualities of humility and humbleness and they lose the real essence of worship.”
“A person can derive similar pleasures from the gathering of dancers, but would that be considered akin to the delight experienced in worship? This is a delicate matter and other nations cannot grasp this concept because they have failed to comprehend the actual reason and purpose of worship.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 423-424)
In relation to Prophet Abraham’s(as) loyalty and his willingness to endure hardship for the sake of Allah the Almighty, and in turn, the treatment afforded to him by Allah the Almighty, the Promised Messiah(as) states,
“The path to attaining God Almighty’s nearness is to demonstrate sincerity. The close bond attained by Prophet Abraham(as) was through treading this very path. Thus, God states:
وَإِبۡرَٰہِیمَ ٱلَّذِی وَفَّىٰٓ
“That is, ‘Abraham(as) is he who was loyal.’ (The Holy Quran, 53:38) To demonstrate sincerity and loyalty to God Almighty is to accept one’s own death. Until and unless a person is prepared to forsake the world and all of its pleasures and glory and accept every difficulty, disgrace and hardship for the sake of God, they cannot develop this quality. Idolatry is not limited to worshipping an object such as a tree or stone, rather, everything that impedes one from the love of Allah the Almighty and takes precedence is considered an idol. A person creates many idols within themselves and without even knowing it, becomes guilty of idol worship. Until a person wholly commits themselves to God Almighty and is prepared to endure every adversity for His sake, they cannot foster loyalty and sincerity within themselves. The title afforded to Abraham(as) was not granted without any effort.
“Not at all. The words:
were said about him when he was prepared to sacrifice his son. Allah the Almighty requires us to make a practical effort, and it is only our actions that can please Him. However, these practical deeds can only be attained by undertaking hardship. When one is ready to endure hardship in the way of God, then God Almighty does not allow one to suffer. When Abraham(as) fully prepared himself and intended to sacrifice his son in fulfilment of the commandment of Allah the Almighty, Allah the Almighty saved his son. He was cast into fire, but the fire could not burn him. If one prepares themselves to endure pain for the sake of Allah the Almighty, then He safeguards them from any suffering.”
“We can physically feel our bodies, but not our souls, but there is no doubt that the soul has a connection with the body. The physical body has an impact on the soul. Thus, one should never entertain the idea that the body does not have any impact on the soul. All the actions carried out by an individual are a result of this combination (i.e. through the combination of the body and the soul). In their independent states, neither the body nor the soul can carry out any virtuous or ill deed. Thus, the concept of reward and punishment is in relation to both of these states. Some people fail to realise this intricate matter and allege that the paradise of Muslims is a physical one. However, what they fail to realise is that when action was borne through the involvement of the body as well, then why should it be separated from its reward? In short, Islam does not adopt a path that is extreme on either end, rather it adopts one of moderation. Both [extreme] views are dangerous and one ought to refrain from them. Making the body endure hardship alone is of no avail and nor can one achieve anything by simply seeking comfort.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 429-430)
If one undertakes physical hardship alone, it cannot be of any benefit and nor can one achieve anything by seeking comfort alone. Rather, the body and the soul have to be in harmony.
During the period whilst one is engaged in prayer, one experiences trials. Whilst giving the example of Prophet Moses’(as) people and how they underwent a period of trial which then further increased, the Promised Messiah(as) states:
“There is a particular time period for everything and the fortunate ones remain in wait for it. Those who do not wait and seek an immediate answer are impatient and fail to achieve their goal. In my view, it is also possible, and indeed it so happens that during the period whilst one is engaged in prayer, as a form of trial, they are made to face even more trials. For example, when Prophet Moses(as) came to free the Israelites who were enslaved to Pharaoh; initially, they were tasked with making bricks for half the day and they were free to do their own work for the remaining part of the day. (Half the day was for them and the other half was spent working for the Pharaoh.) However, when Prophet Moses(as) tried to secure their freedom, the perpetrators of evil increased the workload of the Israelites even more. As a means of punishment, they were instructed to prepare bricks for half the day and transport grass for the rest of the day. In other words, their entire work would only be for Pharaoh and they were given no time for their own work. When Prophet Moses(as) received this instruction and conveyed it to the Israelites, they were extremely upset and wished for Prophet Moses(as) to be afflicted with the same torment they were made to undergo and even went to the extent of cursing him. However, Prophet Moses(as) told them to remain patient. This entire account has been mentioned in the Torah and states that the more he would exhort them to demonstrate patience, the angrier they would get. Eventually, they were advised to migrate from Egypt and they also brought with them the clothes and the utensils that they had gotten from the Egyptians. (They brought all the items with them that they had received from Egyptians.) When Prophet Moses(as) led the Israelites away, Pharaoh, along with his army, went in pursuit of them. When the Israelites realised that the army of Pharaoh was close to them, they became extremely anxious. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that at that time they cried:
“[O Moses] ‘We are surely overtaken.’ (The Holy Quran, 26:62)
“However, Prophet Moses(as) could see the end result through the gaze of prophethood, and so he replied:
کَلَّآ ۖ إِنَّ مَعِیَ رَبِّی سَیَہۡدِینِ
“‘Nay, speak not thus!’ said he, ‘My Lord is with me. He will direct me aright.’ (The Holy Quran, 26:63)
“It is mentioned in the Torah that the Israelites stated, ‘Were there not any graves in the land of Egypt for us?’ The reason why they were so apprehensive was that the army of Pharaoh was right behind them and ahead of them was the River Nile.”
Thus, they said that since they were going to die anyway, they might as well have died and been buried in Egypt. They were in a very difficult situation because ahead of them was the river and behind them was the army, which was ready to kill them. Hence, they were extremely worried.
“They could see that there was no chance of their survival; neither by going ahead nor by retreating. However, Allah the Almighty is All-Powerful and they were able to find a way through the Nile and all of the Israelites were able to cross the sea, whereas the Pharaoh and his men drowned. This was an extraordinary miracle and in such a time, Allah the Almighty created the means for it. This is the case with a righteous person in that they are granted a way out of every hardship and difficulty:
یَجۡعَل لَّہُۥ مَخۡرَجٗا
“[He will make for him a way out. (The Holy Quran, 65:3)]
“Thus, it so happens that one experiences trial after trial during the period between one’s supplications and the acceptance of his prayer. At times, one is made to endure such trials that break one’s back, as it were, but the fortunate ones who continue to persevere can smell the fragrance of their Lord’s favours even in that difficult time and through his insight and wisdom, they can witness the succour that is granted at the end. One of the points of wisdom behind these trials is that one becomes even more passionate in their prayers because, just as one’s anxiousness and apprehension grow, the more fervent one’s soul becomes and this is one of the means for the acceptance of prayer.”
The fact that one becomes fervent in their prayers and supplicates with deep concentration is proof in itself of the fact that Allah the Almighty desires to accept one’s prayers.
Thus, one should never become anxious or think ill of Allah out of impatience or desperation. One should never think that their prayers will not be answered or are never answered.
The Promised Messiah(as) states, “Such a thought causes one to reject the attribute of Allah, which is that He listens to one’s supplications.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, pp. 433-435)
If one begins to entertain such thoughts about Allah the Almighty, then they begin to edge towards atheism. As I mentioned earlier that nowadays, the focus of the opponents of God and religion is to instil these doubts into people’s minds, such as that God Almighty has granted them nothing; religion has no benefit; it makes one indolent and makes one adopt imaginary concepts. Thus, that such a time, it is the duty of every Ahmadi to establish a firm bond with Allah the Almighty. This relationship and one’s worship should not be temporary and only when one is in need. In fact, even in times of comfort and ease, one should form a bond with Allah the Almighty and one should safeguard their prayers. One should have absolute conviction in their prayers. This indeed is the responsibility of an Ahmadi and it is through this that one can do true justice to their oath of allegiance [bai’at].
The Promised Messiah(as) says:
“It is imperative for our Jama’at to increase in faith; have true faith in God Almighty and develop cognisance of the Divine. One should not become lazy and indolent in performing virtuous deeds, otherwise, if one becomes lazy, then even performing ablution seems like a burdensome task, let alone offering the Tahajjud prayer.”
To wake up for the Tahajjud prayer requires great effort, however, in such a case, one finds it difficult to even perform the ablution for the regular prayers.
“If one does not garner the strength to carry out virtuous deeds and does not instil passion within oneself to excel in good, then there is no benefit in establishing a bond with me.” (Malfuzat , Vol. 4, p. 439)
Thus, we must show great concern in order to strive toward strengthening our relationship with Allah the Almighty. Once we establish this true bond, we shall also witness the signs of the acceptance of prayers. May Allah the Almighty grant us the ability to do so.
Pray in particular for the Ahmadis in Pakistan these days. Efforts are being made to make life increasingly difficult for them. Similarly, pray for the Ahmadis in Algeria. The opponents have once again increased their animosity and are trying to create difficulties. May Allah the Almighty protect all the Ahmadis, wherever they may be, who are facing hardship and difficulties and protect them from every kind of worry. May Allah the Almighty completely foil the plots and schemes of the enemy.