PRAYER is communication with God. Everyone who believes in God also prays. But â€œhowâ€ and â€œfor whatâ€ of prayer depend upon oneâ€™s concept of God and outlook on life. â€œThere are men who say, â€˜Our Lord! Give us (Your bounties) in this world.â€™ But they will have no portion in Hereafter. And there are men who say, â€˜Our Lord! Give unto us in this world that which is good and in Hereafter that which is good, and save us from torment of the Fire.â€™ To these will be allotted what they have earned. And Allah is swift at reckoningâ€ [Al-Baqarah 2:200-202]. â€œPrayer is essence of worship.â€ [Hadith].Prayer is not a polite demand for rights. God gave us life, and everything that we possess, without our having any right to it. It is His design and it is with a purpose. Our conditions of health and sickness, our affluence and poverty, our joys and sorrows, our apparent successes and failures, our gains and losses â€” all of them are just a test. â€œHe created death and life that He may try which of you is best in deed.â€[Al-Mulk, 67:2]. Our ultimate success or failure â€” in the Hereafterâ€” will depend solely on how we acted in the different circumstances that He chose for us.
Did we seek His help when we needed help or were we too arrogant to ask? Did we accept His will when things did not turn out our way? Did we show gratitude for His favours or were we proud of our own achievements? And under all circumstance did we follow His commands or were we preoccupied with our demands? We pray to Him because only He can give. He is not answerable to any authority and everyone is answerable to Him. He has power over everything and none can over-power Him. His knowledge is infinite while ours is infinitesimal compared to His. He is the Lord; we are His slaves. He may grant our prayers here; or He may reward us for it in the hereafter; or He may give us something better than what we asked for. In any case a praying person can never lose for prayer is the highest form of submission to Him. â€œThe Holy Prophet (PBUH), was the best of mankind because he was the best in submission to Allah,â€ says Maulana Manzoor Naumani. â€œAnyone who studies his supplications, cannot but be awestruck with the perfect understanding of our relationship to the Creator reflected by them.â€At the Farewell Pilgrimage about 124,000 companions gathered to perform Hajj with the Holy Prophet (PBUH). And there in the plains of Arafat this was his prayer: â€œ O Allah! You hear me and see me and know everything that I reveal or conceal. None of my affairs is hidden from You. I am a person in distress, a needy person, a beggar, a fearful person. I confess my shortcomings. I entreat You like a humble needy person. I beseech You like a sinful lowly person. I ask You like a person in tribulation whose neck bows before You; who cries in front of You; whose whole body trembles before You. O Allah! Do not leave me frustrated in my prayer and be the Most Merciful and the Most Gracious to me. O the best of those who are beseeched. O the best of those who give.â€ Sublime words!In the best of times, in the worst of times, the Prophet (PBUH) was the same servant of Allah. His supplications remain a living miracle inviting all open-minded people to reflect upon the source of that level of consciousness of Allah. For this Ummah, his prayers are one of his greatest spiritual gifts. How unfortunate that any of his followers should remain unlearnt about them.
The purpose of prayer