Friday Sermon – Ramadan and Prayers (29 March 2024)


Friday Sermon

29 March 2024

Ramadan and Prayers

Mubarak Mosque

After reciting the tashahhudta‘awwuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa recited verse 187 of Surah al-Baqarah:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلۡيُؤۡمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡشُدُونَ

“And when My servants ask thee about Me, say, ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’”

Allah the Almighty has placed this verse alongside the verses pertaining to the commandments of fasting. In fact, one can say that He has placed it right in the middle [of these verses], from which it is evident that there is a special connection between prayers and the month of Ramadan. Every Muslim knows full well that there is a special connection between prayers and Ramadan, and due to this very reason, a lot of attention is paid, particularly during the month of Ramadan, to obligatory prayers, voluntary prayers, Tahajjud and Taraweeh prayers.

Every true Muslim understands that during these days, God Almighty looks upon His servants with a particular affection. Even during ordinary days, Allah the Almighty looks upon His servants with love. The Holy Prophetsa states that Allah the Almighty says, “I treat My servant according to how he perceives Me. When My servant remembers Me, I am with him at that moment. If he remembers me in his heart, I remember him in My heart. If he mentions Me in a gathering, I will also mention him in a gathering. When he advances towards Me the distance of a cubit, I draw near Him by a hand’s length; if he advances towards Me a hand’s length, I advance towards him the distance of two hand lengths. If one walks towards Me, I run towards him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tawhid, Hadith 7405)

Hence, even during ordinary days, Allah the Almighty treats His servants in this manner. And during the month of Ramadan, a month devoted to advancing towards Allah the Almighty, during which an atmosphere is created which encourages one to remember Allah the Almighty, we cannot even imagine how benevolent Allah the Almighty would be in this month. Nevertheless, the condition is that all of this must be done from the depth of one’s heart while remaining firm upon one’s faith and not just done superficially.

Giving an example of the benevolence of Allah the Almighty towards His servants, the Holy Prophetsa said on one occasion: “Verily, Allah the Almighty is Modest and Munificent. He is ashamed to turn down His servant empty-handed when they raise their hands to Him [in supplication].” (Sunan Abu Dawood, Hadith 1488)

He does not reject a prayer that is offered with sincerity of heart, rather, He accepts it.

Therefore, this state is developed when a person prays and raises his hands with true sincerity of the heart. To pray with true sincerity of the heart, it is necessary to take an oath to completely abstain from previous sins and to offer true repentance and then draw close to Allah the Almighty. Thus, at times, we are quick to say that we prayed, but our prayer was not answered. However, we fail to reflect upon our conditions as to how much sincerity we had in our heart and how truthfully we are advancing in the love of Allah the Almighty; how truthfully we are seeking forgiveness for our previous sins and pledging to abstain from future sins and to tread the paths laid out by Allah the Almighty.

Allah the Almighty cannot be deceived. He knows what is in our hearts. He is aware of what is in the depths of our hearts. Hence, in order to absorb the blessings of Allah the Almighty and in order to enter His open abode, we must fulfil His conditions as well. The benevolence and kindness of Allah the Almighty towards His servants is so great that every year, He allows us to enter the month of Ramadan and grants us the opportunity [by saying] that “if you have been neglectful during ordinary days then derive benefit from the blessings of this month and come towards Me and become one of My servants.” Particularly during these days, Allah the Almighty wants to bestow His loving gaze upon His servants, guide those back on the right path who have gone astray and elevate His servant’s standard of worship due to this particular atmosphere. In this verse, where Allah the Almighty says “My servants”, it refers to those individuals, who truly desire to become His servants and desire to truly repent, and actually do so.

Thus, we must always strive to become a true servant, and there is a special atmosphere during Ramadan to attain His nearness and to become a servant in the true sense. We can only become Allah the Almighty’s true servants if we strive to progress in our love for Him. When this happens, Allah the Almighty states, “Say to My servants who love Me, ‘I listen to their prayers and answer them.’”

Hence, our prayers should not only be for our personal benefit; instead, they should be to attain the nearness of Allah Almighty and to acquire His love. If we move even a hand’s-breadth towards God in order to attain His love, and if we walk towards Him swiftly, then Allah Almighty will grant us even greater attention and run to us in support. He will answer our prayers. However, Allah Almighty has clearly stated that mere verbal claims of love will not grant you this station. Rather, you will have to follow my instructions, act upon my commandments, fulfil the rights due to God and the rights due to His creation, and then strengthen your faith – such a faith that will never waver. Only when this is the case will you be counted among my true servants.

Now, those who claim that they have offered so many prayers, performed so many prostrations and offered so many voluntary prayers, yet their objective was not fulfilled, must analyse themselves to see if they have truly acted upon the commandments of Allah the Almighty. Have they raised the standard of their faith to the level where no storm can shake them? The majority of the time, the state of these people is that instead of fulfilling the will of their Beloved, they present lists of their requirements and say that there is no benefit of praying if Allah the Almighty does not accept these supplications. They then begin to question the existence of God, the wisdom behind prayer and its acceptance altogether. These are not the hallmarks of the servants of Allah, nor the characteristics of those whom Allah the Almighty does not wish to leave empty-handed. Therefore, before questioning [the existence of] God, one must analyse themselves as to what extent they are following the commands of Allah the Almighty and acting upon them, and to what extent they are strengthening their faith.

The Promised Messiahas has written in relation to this in many of his books. He has written in great detail regarding the wisdom behind prayer and the wisdom and philosophy behind the acceptance of prayer, and he has described those criteria by which a prayer can be considered a true prayer. In light of this, I shall present some quotes of the Promised Messiahas as to who the true servants of Allah the Almighty are. The Promised Messiahas says:

“Allah the Almighty states that when My servants ask about Me and what the proofs are for My existence, the answer is that I am very near, i.e. there is no need for great proofs. My existence can be understood very closely and My existence can be proven very easily. The evidence of this is that when a supplicant calls unto Me, I hear their prayer and give them glad tidings of their success by way of revelation so that not only is My existence proven to them, but they also acquire certainty of My being All-Powerful. However, people should develop such a state of righteousness and fear of God so that I may listen to their calls.” This is a very important condition. [God Almighty says] I listen, but first, one must develop a state of righteousness and fear of God. Only then will He hear their calls.

The Promised Messiahas continues, “[God Almighty states] ‘Hence, you must believe in Me, and before you acquire perfect understanding, declare that God exists and possesses all might and power.’” That is to say, even before one attains a perfect understanding of Allah the Almighty through the acceptance of prayer and witnessing His signs, one must have the conviction and faith that God exists. Strengthen your faith in God first, have faith in the unseen and that He possesses all power. “For one who believes is granted Divine cognisance.” (Ayyamus Sulh, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 14, pp. 260-261)

First one must possess faith, then they are granted Divine cognisance. When one possesses a high level of faith, they will then begin to witness the acceptance of their prayers. It is not the case that a person becomes weak in the face of trial. “Allah the Almighty has given the proof of His existence that He answers prayers. Hence, if a prayer is not accepted, then there is a shortcoming in this relation, just as there are shortcomings between the relations of two friends.” He has also taught us the method to remove this shortcoming, which is to develop righteousness, have full conviction and declare that God indeed exists; to believe in His existence and in the unseen; and the third is to have full conviction that Allah the Almighty possesses all might and power and that there is no other being who possesses all power. Therefore, this is the minimum standard for the acceptance of prayer.

The Promised Messiahas states:

“If My servants ask you what is there to prove My existence, and why they should believe in Me, tell them that I am very near. I answer anyone who calls Me, I hear his voice, and I speak to him. For their part, let My servants make themselves deserving of My converse and have perfect faith in Me, (i.e., one should reform themselves to be able to converse with God.)  so that they may find My path.” (Lecture Lahore, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 159)

It is only then that they shall find the path to guidance. Therefore, one must possess perfect faith and act upon the conditions which I have just mentioned: firstly, to develop righteousness and have fear of God. Secondly, to have complete faith that God exists. Whether one has experience or not, one should believe in the unseen and have  perfect belief that God exists. Thirdly, to have full conviction that He possesses complete power and might. It should not be the case that if something doesn’t happen, one says that He does not possess the power to do so and starts to doubt Him. Instead, one should have the conviction that He possesses complete power and might.

Hence, those who despair of the acceptance of prayers and doubt the existence of God Almighty must analyse themselves and determine whether or not they possess these three conditions and whether they are firmly established upon them regardless of the circumstances. It is not possible for one to possess this standard of faith and to doubt Allah the Almighty’s existence at the same time.

The Promised Messiahas states in another instance:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

“[And when My servants ask thee about Me, say, ‘I am near.’ (2:187)]

“Means that if one questions the existence of God, the answer is that the God of Islam is very near. If one calls unto Him sincerely, He will answer them. The gods of other religions are not near (i.e. of other faiths), but are so far off that it is impossible to know them. The loftiest objective of a worshipper and devotee is to attain nearness to Him, and this is the means of doing so.”

The highest purpose of a true worshipper should be to attain nearness to Allah Almighty and to develop a love for Him in their hearts, “through which they can acquire full faith in His being.

أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ

“[I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. (2:187)]

“also means that He answers and is not mute. All other proofs are insignificant compared to this. [Divine] converse is something that can be considered as actually witnessing [Him].” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, p. 107)

Thus, it is necessary for one to call out in sincerity. What is it to call out with sincerity? It is to follow His commands and to have firm faith in Him.

The Promised Messiahas has then stated:

“[God Almighty states:] ‘When My servant asks about Me, I am near and answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me.’ However, there are some people who doubt His existence. [God Almighty states] ‘The sign of My existence is that you should call unto Me and ask of Me. I shall speak to you, answer you and remember you.’”

As it is mentioned in a hadith, Allah the Almighty states that He remembers one when they remember Him, whether in one’s heart or in a gathering. The Promised Messiahas continues, “If you claim that you supplicate, but He does not answer (this question is raised, and it has been mentioned already) then it is as if you are standing at a place calling to someone who is very far away and you have a defect in your own hearing.”

Thus, the first point is that there is no benefit in standing far away. Come closer, and nearness will be attained through love; create love for Allah the Almighty in your heart. The defect in one’s ears [in this example] means weakness of faith is as if one has defects in their ears. Remove this weakness of faith and strengthen your faith, then you will attain His nearness.

“That person will hear your voice and respond” – The Promised Messiahas gives the example that you may be calling them from afar, but if your voice is subdued when it reaches him or even if it’s clear, they will answer you.

“But when he answers you from afar, you will not be able to hear it since you are deaf.” Even if Allah the Almighty answers you, since you are not strong in your faith, there is a deficiency in your love, and you are not acting upon His commandments, then this deafness is because of your ears, due to which you cannot hear their voice. Now even if Allah the Almighty answers, then you will say that He did not answer, even though He did answer, in other words by saying “improve your own condition if you wish to hear a louder voice.” But you cannot even hear it due to your own deafness.

The Promised Messiahas further states:

“As the veils, barriers and the distance between you and Him lessens, then you will surely hear the voice [of God].” If you increase in righteousness, you will increasingly pay attention towards listening to His voice.

The Promised Messiahas further states, “Ever since the world has been created, there has been constant proof that He converses with His special chosen ones; if this was not the case, then gradually even the concept of His existence would be destroyed. Thus, the most excellent way to prove the existence of God is that we hear His voice, or witness His Divine manifestation or by Divine converse.”

Meaning sometimes Allah the Almighty manifests a sign, or simply through Divine converse.

“Thus today, the ability to converse with God is as if one is seeing God.” Nowadays, the signs that one receives from Allah the Almighty, are in fact as if one is seeing Allah the Almighty.

“Indeed, as long as there is any veil between God and the seeker, one cannot hear Him.”

Even if there is converse [with Allah], they cannot hear Him because there is a veil between them. “When the veil between them is lifted, then His voice will be heard.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, p. 227)

Thus, come nearer. If you develop a pure love for Him, then you will attain His nearness, and the veil will be lifted.

Allah the Almighty says that “I answer, but you cannot hear it”, and the very first response in fact draws us towards increasing our love for Him. If you increase in your love, then your inability to hear Him will also go away.

Then, the Promised Messiahas says in one place:

“Prayer is a powerful proof of the existence of God Almighty. Thus, God Almighty says in one place:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ

“Meaning when my servants ask you as to where God is, and what proof there is of Him, then say that He is very near to you. And the proof of this, is that when a supplicant calls out to Him, then He answers them, and this answer sometimes comes through true dreams (true dreams come to them whereby they receive an answer). Sometimes through visions or revelations, and aside from this, the power and might of God Almighty is manifested through prayers.”

Besides this, the power and might of God Almighty is displayed through the acceptance of prayers. One can experience for themselves that Allah the Almighty has heard their supplication and prayer, and it is a result of this that such circumstances are being created.

The Promised Messiahas further states, “And one learns how powerful He is only when He solves one’s problems. Thus, prayer is a great treasure and power, and the Holy Quran has repeatedly guided us towards it and has also told us the condition of those people who have gained freedom from their difficulties through prayer. The essence of the life of the Prophetsas and the real and true path to their success was indeed prayer. Thus, I advise you, that in order to increase the strength in your faith and deeds, keep yourselves occupied in prayer. There will be such a transformation through prayer, which will lead to a righteous end by the grace of God.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 268 – 269)

These are not old tales; in fact, even in this day and age, such examples are found. There are many people who write about the acceptance of their prayers, and I narrate these incidents at different times as well. The Review of Religions held a program on the existence of God; many people narrated their incidents of the acceptance of prayer there as well. In fact, Allah the Almighty blesses us so much so that at times in order to strengthen our faith, He grants acceptance to our prayers and thereby shows us a glimpse of His Power. For those whose faith is weak, He even at times shows them as well such signs in order to strengthen them in their faith. There are hundreds of people like this who write letters to me, and some meet me and narrate these accounts as well.

Explaining the true understanding of the concept of prayer, the Promised Messiahas states in one place:

“True knowledge of the Divine, in short, can only be attained through Divine grace, and through it alone can it survive. Divine grace purifies and illuminates knowledge of the Divine and removes the intervening veils and cleanses the ‘nafs-e-ammarah’ (self that incites to evil) of all its impurities. It bestows strength and life upon the soul and releases the baser self from the prison of sin.”

“Meaning ‘nafs-e-ammarah’ which is the state that incites one towards evil and [true knowledge of the Divine] removes one from the prison of their own self.  “and purges it of its evil passions. Also, this grace salvages one from the flood of carnal passions.”

The manner in which a flood comes, in the same way, carnal passions are a flood, and this true knowledge of the Divine removes one from the flood of sin.

“It is then that a transformation takes place in a person and he develops a natural aversion for sin. Thereafter, the very first urge felt by the soul, through God’s grace, is called prayer. Do not think that we already pray every day, and that the salat we offer is also prayer; for the prayer which follows after acquiring true knowledge of the Divine and is born of Divine grace is altogether different.”

These prayers that one offers in a superficial manner whereby one offers their salat in haste and completes it within a few minutes; this is not the concept of the formal daily prayers, this is not worship, for true prayer one requires true knowledge of the Divine. And when such knowledge is attained, then the enjoyment of prayer is completely different altogether.

The Promised Messiahas further states:

“[Its] grace is of an altogether different colour and complexion. Such prayer is a thing that consumes, it is a fire that melts, it is a magnetic force that draws Divine mercy, it is a death but ultimately gives life, it is a raging flood but finally turns into a boat. (It is a flood, but the flood becomes a boat, and takes one to their desired destination.) Through it, every wrong is redressed and every poison finally becomes an antidote.” (Lecture Sialkot, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 222)

Thus, blessed are those of us who try to attain this true knowledge of the Divine.

Furthermore, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Prayer comes from God, and returns to Him. Through prayer, God draws as close to a person as one’s own soul. The very first blessing of prayer is that a pure transformation is brought about in an individual.” Many people ask, ‘How would one know if their prayer is accepted and Allah the Almighty is pleased with someone?’ This is a reply to them that one brings about a pure transformation. A person’s relationship with Allah the Almighty only increases when they bring about a pure transformation. When a person brings about a virtuous transformation, then one will see the sign of the acceptance of prayer.

The Promised Messiahas further says:

“A person instils within them a pure transformation. Then through this change, Allah the Almighty manifests a change in His attributes. Although God Almighty’s attributes are unchangeable, however, for the one that brings about a spiritual transformation within them, they become manifested for that individual in a distinctive manner to which the world is completely heedless.” It is not the case that God Almighty’s attributes change, they are unalterable. However, for a person who brings about a transformation, Allah the Almighty creates the means in a way which makes it seem that an attribute of Allah has been changed, even though the attribute [of God] remains the same, but in fact, it’s manifestation begins in their favour.

The Promised Messiahas says, “It seems as if there is a different god, whereas in reality there is no other god, but He manifests Himself in a different light. Then for the person who brings about this transformation, this special manifestation will become activated and assist them in a way that it will not assist others. This is known as a miracle.” (Lecture Sialkot, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 20, p. 223)

The Promised Messiahas states in another place, “There is only one door that Allah, the Glorious, has opened for the betterment of His creation; that door is prayer. When a person enters this door through profusely and fervently weeping [before God], then in turn the Benevolent Lord wraps them in a cloak of purity and virtue. The grandeur and might of God overawes that individual to such an extent that they run miles away from all unlawful and worthless activities.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 5, p. 438)

They distance themselves greatly from them. Thus, the characteristic of true prayer is one in which an individual becomes distant from all vain and futile activities. Virtue becomes embedded as part of their nature. That individual does not pray for worldly pursuits alone, they begin to pray for them to progress in their faith and righteousness; they start to pray in order to acquire the love of Allah and this in turn is the sign of a true believer. This is a sign of a person who has perfected their faith and one who excels.

Then expounding upon the deep philosophy of prayer, the Promised Messiahas states:

“The quickest way to attain the grace and bounty of Allah is prayer. The pre-requisite of a perfect and complete prayer is that it must contain a fervour and humble plea. A prayer which is filled with humility, anguish and in a state of distress is one which can draw the grace of God Almighty; (that is, for a person to reach the pinnacle of humility whereby they weep in their prayers). When such a prayer is accepted, it propels one to their ultimate goal. The difficulty is that even this cannot be achieved without the grace of God. Therefore, for a person to even reach such a stage one has to seek the grace of Allah. Subsequently, the solution is that for the person to pray continuously, irrespective of how dissatisfied or disinterested one may be, but they should not stop. Even if it means one has to carry it out pretentiously or artificially. Even for the sake of offering a prayer in its truest form, one requires the help of prayer.”

One should constantly supplicate and not leave Allah’s side until one develops that state. It is only then that the blessings of God begin to descend.

“Many people offer prayers but their hearts become discontented, (i.e., they pray for a short while and then abandon it.) They say that nothing can be done now. However, my advice to them is that there are blessings in this dust. (It may seem like a person is sieving out the earth) but there are blessings in sieving through the earth. Eventually, there will be blessings in this, because one’s ultimate objective becomes evident. A time comes whereby one’s heart aligns with one’s tongue.”

The objective is eventually achieved or the longing one has in their heart is fulfilled. The Promised Messiahas says, “When one’s heart and tongue become one, then spontaneously one develops the humility and fervour that is one of the pre-requisites of prayer. (i.e. whatever one says is the real condition of their heart. When they become one then those conditions are developed that are necessary for prayer.) When a person awakens at night, despite there being a lack of fervour and restlessness, yet even in this condition if they pray saying: ‘My lord! My heart is under your control and power. Purify my heart. When it is in a state of spiritual contraction, may Allah turn it into a state of spiritual expansion.’”

That is, to pray that the heart is despondent and desires relief. May it incline towards Allah the Almighty and He instil a desire within it. May the love of Allah flourish in a way that the condition of spiritual contraction is turned into spiritual expansion. Then, despite the heart being closed, it is opened up and one develops fervency. What does it mean for the heart to open? It means when one develops fervency in prayer, a person will be able to weep in prayer.

“And this is the time for the acceptance of prayer. (When a person develops such a condition, then know it well that this will be the time for the acceptance of prayer.) One will realise that in this moment, the soul will flow at the Divine Threshold like water, but it will be like a drop which descends from above.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, pp. 93-94)

When this state is developed then a person will themselves realise that it is a time for the acceptance of prayer. It is at this stage when a person becomes convinced that now whatever Allah the Almighty will do for them, it will be for the best for that individual. It will not be the case whereby a person desires for all that to be fulfilled that they desire, rather they will be convinced that after developing fervency and anguish one will become content in that having prayed in this manner, whatever Allah does for that individual’s sake will be the best for that person. This is how one’s faith will develop and no grievance will remain in the heart. Hence, this is the condition we must develop within ourselves and for this one ought to analyse their condition.

Further elaborating on this, on one occasion the Promised Messiahas stated, “Prayer is something that provides ease in every hardship. If one prays, even the most difficult task becomes easy. People are unaware of the value and worth of prayer.” The Promised Messiahas says, “The people who are unaware of the value and worth of prayer become dejected easily and lose hope whereas perseverance and continuous effort is a necessity for prayer. If a person strives continuously then let alone a single moral ill, Allah the Almighty removes thousands of ills from a person and makes them into a perfect believer. However, sincerity and a constant struggle is a condition in order to achieve this. But this can only be achieved through prayer.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, p. 404)

One requires sincerity, a constant struggle and effort. This is the condition required to instil within ourselves. For this, we need to analyse our hearts whether we have developed the condition of sincerity and striving or whether we are trying to achieve this. Mujahadah means a constant struggle and effort without getting tired. For our worldly affairs we make concerted efforts and do not get tired, then why should we get tired when we search for God’s nearness? Explaining the philosophy behind this, the Promised Messiahas says:

“Man should strive to escape from this worldly existence deeming it to be something vile and should pray for it. This is because when a person uses the correct course of action, and then prays sincerely for it, eventually Allah the Almighty grants that person salvation. They are then saved from a life of sin. This is because prayer is not an insignificant thing, in fact, it is a form of death. When a person accepts this death upon themselves, then Allah the Almighty saves that individual from an immoral life, which in turn leads one to death. In turn, Allah grants that person the ability to lead a pure and virtuous life.”

An immoral life is also akin to death; when a person will be punished in the hereafter or at times receive punishment in this life, Allah saves a person from this.

The Promised Messiahas states:

“Many people see prayer as an insignificant thing. It should be remembered that prayer does not mean for someone to merely offer salat, raise hands to pray and then to sit down and to recite whatever comes to mind. There is no use of such a prayer because this prayer is nothing more than a simple mantra. (Just as some religions recite mantras). This is nothing more than a mere mantra. Neither does one’s heart partake of this prayer, nor does one have faith in the power and might of Allah. (This type of yearning is not something that emanates from the depths of the heart, nor does one express the fact that Allah the Almighty has the power over everything.) Remember, prayer is a form of death. Just as a person feels anguish and is restless at the time of their demise, the same anguish and passion is required for prayer. For this reason, until anguish and fervency overcome a person, it is not deemed to be a prayer.

“Thus, one ought to wake up in the night and humbly present one’s difficulties before God Almighty in a state of utmost fervency, fervour and anguish. One should supplicate in such a manner as if they have been overcome by death. It is then that one’s supplications reach the level of acceptance.”

The Promised Messiahas continues:

“Bear in mind that the first and foremost prayer is for one to pray to become free and pure of sin.”

This is extremely important; first and foremost one should pray to become free and pure of sin. The Promised Messiahas continues, “This prayer forms the foundation and very essence of prayer. It is the root of all prayers; for if this prayer is accepted then one becomes pure from all kinds of impurities and foulness and will be counted as a holy individual in the sight of God Almighty. (This is also very important. It should not be the case that one simply considers themselves to be holy). One should continue to supplicate until they feel a sense of contentment that God Almighty has purified them and they become counted as among the pure ones in His sight. This means that the thought of committing a sin should not enter one’s mind, in such a case one does not even need to offer the prayers for their other essential needs as God Almighty accepts them Himself.”

When one attains such a state then God Almighty fulfils the rights of the bond of friendship and fulfils the needs [of His servant]. The Promised Messiahas continues:

“The prayer to become free from sin is one that requires a great deal of effort and struggle. (To become free of sin is not an ordinary prayer, rather it is a prayer of great importance). It enables one to become righteous and virtuous in the sight of God Almighty. (One should become righteous and virtuous in the sight of God Almighty and not just in their own estimation or in the eyes of people.) The initial veils upon the heart have to be removed; once they have been removed then all other veils upon the heart will not require as much effort and toil for those to be removed because through the grace of God Almighty, thousands of weaknesses will themselves be removed. When one develops inner purity and forms a true bond with Allah the Almighty, then God Almighty Himself becomes one’s guardian and protector. In such an instance, even before one presents their needs before Allah the Almighty, He fulfils it Himself, even if it is a worldly need. This is a very intricate matter which is only revealed to an individual who attains this state. Prior to this, it is very difficult for one to understand this, however, this requires one to strive in an extraordinary manner because prayer requires one to strive. One who is careless in the matter of prayer and remains distant from it, then Allah the Almighty also does not show any concern for such a person. (Being haste is of no benefit) God Almighty can grant whatever He wills and whenever He wills. (One should always keep this in mind that God Almighty can grant whatever He wants and whenever He wants). It does not behove a seeker to complain over not being granted something immediately and to begin ill-thinking, in fact he ought to continue to pray with steadfastness and patience.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, pp. 406-407)

Thus, one of the conditions [for prayer] is steadfastness and one of the most important prayers is to pray for one to become purified, such purity whereby one is counted amongst the pure ones in the sight of God Almighty. What should one’s condition be for the acceptance of prayer? In relation to this, the Promised Messiahas states:

“A prayer reaches the level of acceptance when one supplicates with utmost fervency. When one prays with an extreme level of fervency, it is then that the signs of its acceptance by Allah the Almighty and the means for its fulfilment emerge. The initial means are first established in the heavens and then its impacts manifest upon earth. (Allah the Almighty accepts the prayer and then issues a command and thereafter its effects begin to manifest upon the earth). This is not a small matter, rather it is an extraordinary truth. In fact, the truth is that whoever seeks to witness the manifestation of God, he ought to pray.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, pp. 408-409)

Some people ask the question that if Allah the Almighty has already decreed something then it will certainly happen and it is in His Divine knowledge that it will occur, then what is the point of praying. Such questions arise and whilst explaining the need for prayer, the Promised Messiahas states:

“If [the acceptance of] prayer was in one’s own hand, then one could do as they willed. That is why we cannot say that such and such matter will be fulfilled in favour of such and such friend or relative. (Some people ask for prayers for something, but it is not the case that it will certainly be fulfilled in that manner. This is not in our hands, it is in fact the will of Allah the Almighty. It is up to Allah the Almighty how He wishes to fulfil it.) At times, despite a pressing need, one is not able to pray for it. (At times, a person is requested for prayers and there is a dire need for it as well), however, the condition within the heart is not developed for it and it becomes hardened. This is because people are unaware of its intricacies and hence go astray.”

They claim that since the condition for the prayer was not developed, therefore there is no point in praying. The Promised Messiahas states:

“They begin to harbour doubts and consider this to be their destiny.”

They feel there is no need for prayer or to make any effort as whatever has been destined will take place. The Promised Messiahas continues:

“The answer to this is that indeed God has knowledge of all things, however, that does not mean that God Almighty does not possess the power over it any longer and that it will most certainly happen in that way.”

For something to be in His knowledge does not mean that it is now beyond the power of Allah the Almighty and will now only unfold in that particular way. To explain this the Promised Messiahas has given an example of a worldly matter with regards to those people who have the belief that whatever is destined will happen and that their efforts are pointless. “For example, why do people look for a treatment if they are experiencing a headache because after all it should get better by itself? Or if it is destined to happen then it will certainly happen, what is the point of taking medication? Why do they drink water when they are thirsty?”

There are some people who do not drink water and their thirst eventually goes away by itself, yet they drink water immediately. However, this is not the case for all, there are some people who can also die of thirst. Therefore, the reason they drink cold water is to quench their thirst. “The fact is that one’s reluctance will show its consequences.”

When one makes an effort, strives and prays then it also shows its impact. Therefore, it is not necessary that something which is in the knowledge of Allah the Almighty will most certainly happen in that way and that He cannot change His decree through prayers. For example, if the doctors say that someone is about to die, however, owing to prayers he is granted a further 9 years, 4 years or 10 years of life, then it is Allah the Almighty Who changed that person’s destiny. Of course, everyone is going to die but Allah the Almighty can extend one’s life and grant them good health.

The Promised Messiahas continues:

“Prayer is an excellent thing. At the very least it grants one forgiveness.”

If one’s objective is not achieved through prayer, even then Allah the Almighty takes consideration of the prayer, and whether in this world or in the hereafter, it becomes a means for his forgiveness and creates ease for him. “Then, gradually through this God Almighty bestows His benevolence towards such a person.”

If one begins to receive the rewards of forgiveness in this life then they are able to witness the benevolent favours of God Almighty. The Promised Messiahas states, “By not praying, rust initially forms on the heart.” Not praying leads to rust forming on the heart. “Then hardness develops.” The heart becomes hardened, leading one to question the need for prayer, and one starts drifting away. “Then a feeling of estrangement from Allah develops.” A distance is created from Allah Almighty. One starts to perceive Allah as other. “Then enmity” develops. “Finally, the result is the loss of faith.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 6, p. 423)

These are various states which one can develop if they do not pray. Initially, one’s heart becomes rusty, then their heart becomes hardened and then one becomes an atheist. One grows in enmity and hatred towards God and similar thoughts develop and then one completely loses their faith and becomes an atheist. Therefore, one ought to certainly come towards prayer. If one loses their faith then one’s life in this world and the next is ruined.

Whilst explaining the kind of prayer which is a distinction of Islam, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Prayer is a special distinction of Islam and Muslims feel very proud about it, but remember that prayer is not the mere utterance of words. Rather, this is something which causes the heart to become filled with the fear of God Almighty and the supplicant’s soul flows like water upon the Divine threshold, seeking strength, power, and forgiveness from the Mighty and Powerful God for its weaknesses and mistakes. In other words, this state can be called death. When this condition comes about then know for certain that the door to acceptance has been opened (i.e. the door for the acceptance of prayer is opened) and a special ability, blessings and steadfastness are bestowed in order to remain safe from evil deeds and to consistently establish virtuous deeds. This is the best method above all others, however, the great difficulty lies in people being unaware of the true reality of prayer and this is the very reason why people in this era deny it, because they do not see its results. Another reason for them denying this is them saying that whatever happens is meant to happen (this is the same topic of predestination) so then what is the need for prayer? However, I know that this is nothing but an excuse because they have not experienced prayer, they are unaware of its intricacies which is why people say such things. Otherwise, if they are so confident, then why is it that they seek treatment upon falling ill? When other worldly things can have an effect, then what reason could there be for the spiritual world to not show its effects as well? (In other words should the spiritual aspects also not have their effects,) “of which prayer is a magnificent thing?” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 263-264)

Hence, prayers do have an impact; the prayers of those who act according to the commandments of God, who fulfil the rights of Allah and the rights of His creation and do so with great steadfastness. They do what Allah the Almighty has enjoined upon them and abstain from that which He has forbidden. Furthermore, there isn’t the slightest weakness in their faith rather they continually increase in faith. It is then that this state is developed.

Then, with regards to continually praying with steadfastness, the Promised Messiahas states, “One should not offer prayers half-heartedly or in dismay nor should one easily tire. Instead, one should not give up until their prayer does not manifest its full effect. Those who tire and become weary are in error because this is an indication of remaining deprived. In my estimation prayer is an excellent thing and I say from my own experience that it is not mere conjecture that if a difficulty that cannot be resolved through planning, then Allah the Almighty resolves it through prayer. I say truthfully that prayer has a magnificent effect. Through it, illness can be cured, the strains and difficulties of this world can be removed, it protects against enemy ploys, and what else is there that cannot be achieved through prayer. Above all, it purifies man. (and this should be a person’s ultimate goal, i.e. of a believer and of a servant [of Allah].) It grants living faith in God Almighty, it offers deliverance from sin, and it furnishes consistency in virtue. Extremely fortunate is he who has faith in prayer, for he witnesses the astonishing might of Allah the Almighty and believes in God Almighty upon seeing Him, for He is the All-Powerful, Gracious.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 265-266)

In response to those who complain because their prayers are not accepted, the Promised Messiahas states at one instance:

“There are many people who accuse Allah the Almighty and consider themselves blameless saying, ‘we offered salat and prayed but they were not accepted.’ This is their own fault; salat and prayers cannot attain acceptance until they are free from carelessness. If one eats something that is apparently sweet but has been laced with poison, the poison won’t be distinguishable from the sweetness, however before the sweetness is experienced, the poison will take effect and do its job (i.e it will kill the person). This is why prayers that are offered carelessly cannot be accepted because carelessness takes effect first. It is impossible for one who is completely devoted to Allah the Almighty to not have their prayers accepted, albeit they must completely fulfil the necessary requirements.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 5, pp. 318-319)

Thus, one of the conditions set by Allah the Almighty is that one should adhere to what He says, hearken to it, and have firm faith in it. No matter what happens, one should not abandon Allah the Almighty’s threshold. Allah the Almighty has created means and it is also necessary to use them alongside offering prayers. In this regard, the Promised Messiahas states:

“It is true that one who does not take practical actions does not offer prayers, rather they test God Almighty. Hence, before offering prayers, it is necessary for one to expend all their efforts. This is exactly what is meant by the prayer:

اِہۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِيۡمَ

[guide us to the right path]; first it is necessary for one to demonstrate their faith through their actions, because it is the practice of God Almighty  to reform through means (i.e. certain means are provided for the sake of reformation). God creates such means which lead towards reformation. Those who wonder, what the need for means is when there is prayer, should ponder over this. Such foolish people should ponder upon the fact that prayer itself is a hidden means.” Prayer is also a means which brings about other means.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 1, p. 124)

Then, the Promised Messiahas says:

“The true essence of Islam is that one’s pleasure becomes subservient to the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. The reality is that a person cannot reach this stage of their own accord. It is man’s obligation to make efforts, however, the true path to attaining this status is prayer. Man is weak; until he attains strength and help through prayer he cannot traverse this difficult path. Allah the Almighty Himself has stated regarding the weakness of man

خُلِقَ ٱلۡإِنسَٰنُ ضَعِيفٗا

“That is ‘man has been created weak.’ Despite this weakness, to claim through one’s own power to have attained a lofty rank and a high station is their vain imagination. A great deal of prayers are required to achieve this. Prayer is a magnificent power through which great difficulties are resolved and one is able to traverse perilous stages with great ease, because prayer is like a vessel which draws blessings and strength which come from Allah the Almighty. One who remains extensively occupied in prayer will ultimately draw those blessings and will receive the help of God Almighty, thereby achieving his purpose. God Almighty does not desire prayers alone, rather one must first undertake all efforts and striving alongside offering prayers. To disregard practical means and to rely simply on prayer is to be unaware of the etiquettes of prayer and to test God Almighty. To rely only on apparent means and deem prayers to be of no significance is atheism. Certainly, you must understand that prayer is a great treasure; one who does not abandon prayer will not endure ruin in this life or the next. Such a person will remain secure in a fortress surrounded by armed soldiers always standing on guard. However, one who is heedless of prayer is like one who is without weapons and is weak and then goes into a forest full of beasts and dangerous animals. He knows that he is not safe and that he can be attacked by a dangerous animal devouring its flesh and bone. So, remember that man’s true honour and his protection rely on prayer. This very prayer is a refuge for him so long as he remains occupied in it.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 192-193)

The Promised Messiahas continues:

“God Almighty desires one to form a relationship with Him and to offer prayers in His presence requires a connection with Him. Prayers cannot be offered without a connection. Elders of the past also used to advise supplicants to first establish a connection before praying. Someone cannot aimlessly walk in the market and go up to someone with whom they have no connection saying, ‘You are my friend.’ Nor does he have any pain for that person in his heart nor can the fervour for prayer be established. One cannot establish a connection with God Almighty by remaining careless and merely uttering words saying, ‘I have established a connection with God Almighty.’” The Promised Messiahas continues, “In order to establish a connection with Allah the Almighty, it is necessary for one to become completely lost in Him.” The Promised Messiahas says, “We repeatedly enjoin our Jamaat to establish this because until the inclination towards this world and its love does not cool in the hearts and a natural fervour and devotion for Allah the Almighty does not develop then one cannot attain steadfastness.” (Malfuzat [1984], Vol. 7, pp. 42-43)

Hence, especially in these days during the month of blessings which Allah the Almighty has provided us, we should focus on prayers while bringing about a pure change within ourselves. This is the only way for us to adorn our life in this world and the hereafter. The last ten days of Ramadan are about to begin, during which we should strive to draw nearer to Allah the Almighty by making His commandments our guide, strengthening our faith, waking up at night and prostrating before Him, so that we may obtain that guidance upon which Allah the Almighty wishes for us to follow.

During the month of Ramadan, pray especially for the progress of the Jamaat; pray for those who have been imprisoned [in the way of Allah] that may Allah swiftly procure the means of their release. Pray for those [Ahmadis] imprisoned in Yemen, in particular, a woman who has cruelly been incarcerated in a small room, away from the other prisoners. However, she is enduring it with utmost patience and a resilient faith. May Allah create the means for her swift release. May Allah remove the misconceptions and ill-thinking the opponents have regarding the Jamaat.

Remember the Palestinians in your prayers. Ostensibly, they are claiming that there are great changes being implemented. However, the situation is becoming even worse. Despite the UN passing a resolution, the atrocities are continuing as they were. The double standards of the Western Powers have become evident from this; if a similar atrocity is committed against one of their ally nations, they immediately impose sanctions on the opposing side. Yet, there will be no sanctions imposed on Israel. On the contrary, the USA recently approved unconditional aid for Israel worth billions of dollars. However, for the Palestinians, they approved aid worth a few million dollars, but at the same time, they placed a condition that they will not go to any court or any forum whereby they can speak out against Israel. So what can one hope from such people? There is only prayer, only Allah Who can protect the innocent from these oppressors and also enable us to do justice in our prayers for the innocent people.

(Official Urdu transcript published in the Daily Al Fazl International, 19 April 2024, pp. 2-8. Translated by The Review of Religions.)

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