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When it is definite and beyond dispute that whatever happens in the world happens by the Will of God and that every thing that exists lies absolutely in His power and control, it is manifestly natural for us to supplicate to Him in our needs, big as well as small. Followers of all religions beseech God and address their petitions to Him. But in Islam it is a matter of paramount importance. States the Quran: And your Lord says: “Call on Me: I wi ll answer (your Prayer).” (XL: 60) Say (to the rejectors): my Lord is not uneasy because of you if ye call not on Him. (XXV: 77) Together with calling on us to supplicate to God in our needs the Quran also goes on to assure that God is very close to His servants: He hears their petitions and grants them. When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them. I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on me. (II: 186) The holy Prophet also assures that to beg to God for our needs, to turn to Him and to make our petitions to Him, is the very essence and marrow of worship. Says he: “Du'a (making of earnest entreaties to God) is worship.” (According to another version, the Tradition reads: “Du'a is the essence and marrow of worship).” “Nothing enjoys a loftier place in the sight of God than Du'a”. God is displeased with those who do not beg for their needs to Him. The Prophet is reported to have said, “God is displeased with His servant who does not supplicate for his needs to him.” Glory be! If a person approaches a close friend or a near relative with his needs every now and then they get sick of him, but God is so marvelously gracious and benevolent to His servants that He gets angry if they do not turn to Him in their need. A Tradition says: “For whom the doors of Du'a have opened for him the doors of mercy have opened.” Anyway, to pray to God for one's needs or for the realization of one's ambition is not only a means to their fulfillment but also a superb act of worship and God is very happy with him who does so. He opens the gates of His mercy for him. This is true of all supplications whether they be of a religious or spiritual nature or for a worldly need. The only condition is that the object or need should be of a lawful and legitimate kind. To pray for an improper or sinful thing is also improper and sinful. The greater the depth of feeling, the stronger the realization of one's own helplessness and the firmer the conviction of Divine Omnipotence and Benevolence with which a prayer is made, the greater the chances are of its acceptance. A prayer which does not spring from their heart but is uttered only by the mouth as a formality is not a prayer. The Prophet says: “God does not grant a prayer that is made with a sleeping heart.” God listens to prayers at all hours but we learn from Traditions that there are certain occasions on which if a prayer is made it stands greater chances of acceptance as, for instance, after a Farz (obligatory) Namaz, during the later part of the night, at the time of breaking a fast or at any other moment of a similar nature when a good act is performed, and during the course of a journey particularly when it is undertaken for a religious purpose and for the sake of God. It is not necessary for a man to be a saint, or innocent of sin, for his prayers to be granted. It is true that the prayers of noble and virtuous persons are granted more than those of others but it does not means that the prayers of ordinary men and sinners are not heard at all. One, therefore, must not give up making supplications to God thinking what would the supplications of a sinner do. God, the Beneficent, the Merciful, listens to the prayers of His sinning servants, too, just as He feeds them and clothes them in spite of their misdeeds. Everyone should, therefore, pray. We have seen how Du'a is regular worship. Divine recompense will in any case be his who will engage himself in it. It will be foolish to loose heart and cease praying if the object for which an earnest prayer is made to God is not realized. God, in any event, is not bound by our desires. Sometimes, in His judgment, it is in our own interest that our prayers should not be granted at once. Sometimes delay is found by Him to be better for us. But, we, in our ignorance, get disheartened. We are inclined to be hasty and when our prayers are not answered we give up praying as futile. As a Tradition of the Prophet assures us: “Du'a never wasted. But the forms of its acceptance vary. Sometimes a person gets what he begs for. Sometimes God does not think it best for him that the thing he prays for should be granted. So He does not give it to him but, in its place, a greater favour is bestowed on him or an impending calamity is averted or the prayer is made an atonement for his sins. (Since the supplicant does not know it he imagines that his entreaties and supplications have come to nothing). Sometimes the prayer is turned into the harvest of the Hereafter. The object for which a person prays is not granted to him in this life but a greater reward is reserved for him in the life to come as a compensation thereof.” And here is another: “Some people, many of whose prayers had not been granted in this world, when they will see in the Hereafter the glorious rewards and blessings that had been set aside for them as a recompense for their unfulfilled prayers, will exclaim mournfully how great would it have been had none of their prayers been granted in the world so that they could get the compensation for them all in the Hereafter.” In fine, everyone who believes in God should make it a habit of his to call on Him for his needs with all his heart and with an unshakeable faith in the Omnipotence and the Benevolence of the Almighty and believing positively that the prayer will be granted. He must be sure in his heart that his prayer shall never, never go waste. The endeavour should be to pray in words richly expressive of Divine Might and Magnificence and of one's own total helplessness. Many prayers are contained in the Quran and hundreds of them in the Traditions. These prayers, the prayers of the Quran and the Tradition, are by far the best. A selection of forty of these prayers is given at the end of the book.
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