Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)

Verse 186..........Part 2

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Session 189

Chapter 2

Verse 186

a continuation

And when My servants ask you about Me, indeed I am near.  I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me.  So let them respond to Me, and believe and trust in Me, so that they may be guided. (Chapter 2: Verse 186)

When you read the phrase ‘So let them respond to Me’ you may ask: what am I supposed to respond to?  We answer that Allah – the all merciful- has sent you a personal invitation to join faith and be on the straight path of Islam.  If you want the Lord to be by your side and respond to your prayers and supplications, then make sure to respond to His call.  It is one of the etiquettes of asking for something. 

Another issue that you have to keep in mind is to pray to someone who can respond to you.  God says ‘I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me’ meaning that those who pray to or hope to get help from someone else will not have their prayers answered or even considered.  Sadly, there are many people who pray to other than God.  He says:

Those whom you deify and invoke, apart from God, are subservient beings created by God just like yourselves. Call upon them, then, and let them respond to you if what you say is true. (07:194)

And in another chapter:

If you pray to them, they do not hear your call; and even if they heard you, they could not answer your prayer; and on the Day of Resurrection, they will deny your having worshipped them. And none can inform you like the One who is Ultimate Expert (35:14)

So if you supplicate to someone or something that is not competent to fulfill your prayers, then God is not responsible for responding either. 

Allah also teaches us to pray and ask for what is good for us.  But, more often than not, because of our limited knowledge and vision, we are unable to determine what is good for us.  Weren’t there many instances in your life when you had wanted something, and worked hard to get it, only to find out that it was the wrong thing for you? Allah is always aware of what is good for you now and in the long run.  Thus, if you supplicate for something and it does not work out, do not say that God did not accept my prayers or God ignored me.  In fact, God has accepted your prayer and His answer was a simple ‘no.’ He has only prevented the occurrence of that which is not good for you.  Let me give you an example: suppose your teenage son came and asked you for a handgun.  He believes that having a handgun would allow him to be safe and protect the family.  But you know better.  You continue to procrastinate and ignore his requests because you know that denying him the gun is the best thing for him.

Similarly, maybe your own supplication is not answered because it may do you more harm than good.  God says:

Yet man prays for harm, just as he prays for good: man is ever hasty. (17:11)

And in another chapter:

Man is a creature of impatience. Soon I will show you My signs. So do not ask Me to hasten. (21:37)

The scholars say that the purpose of your prayer and supplication should be to surrender to God’s will and be content with His judgment.  This is the true beauty and the hidden gem of worship.  You come with no expectations, and you trust the acceptance of your prayer to God’s will.  If on the other hand, you pray and supplicate expecting an immediate answer, then you have missed the true meaning of worship.  Allah says in a sacred narration: “Whoever is too preoccupied with My remembrance from asking Me, I will give him better than I give to those who do ask.”  So make sure that you come to your Lord in supplication and prayer with humility and surrender.   

We should learn from what our beloved Prophet taught his wife Ayesha (may God be pleased with her).  She asked the Prophet about the night of power –The night of Qadr- which occurs towards the end of Ramadan.  She said: ‘If I live to see this night, what should I ask my Lord for?’  He, peace be upon him, responded: say: ‘Dear Lord, You love to pardon, so pardon me!’  Take note that the Prophet taught Aysha to pray with the broadest brush for good.  There is no good better than to receive God’s mercy.  We often pray with: “give me, give me, give me!” and we ignore the fact that some gifts may not be good for us or our family.  God says:

Yet man prays for harm, just as he prays for good: man is ever hasty. (17:11)

On many occasions, the best response God blesses you with is to withhold what you are asking of him.  Muhammad, peace be upon him, teaches you to pray for common good, and that which is always beneficial in this world and the next.