Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Child's Prayer

I had to peel my five-year-old off the floor last week when she was a-screamin' and a-hollerin' because she was "mad at God."

Apparently, she had gone into our bedroom, rolled out the prayer mat and asked God for a swimming pool in our backyard.

Then when she peeked outside and there was no pool (or signs of its imminent arrival), she threw a huge fit of disappointment.

It was clearly time to school her in the dynamics of dua (Arabic term for supplication to God).

"And your Lord says, 'Call upon me, I will answer your prayer.'" (Quran 40:6) 
God urges us to constantly go to Him for all our needs, wants and fixes to problems. He loves for us to be humble, realize our neediness and willfully depend on Him as the Ultimate Source for everything, whether material or spiritual.

He draws our attention to Asiya, the wife of Pharoah and one of the four pefect women of all times. Despite all the wealth, power and status in the world, she remains humble throughout her life, supplicating to God for "nearness to Thee" until her last breath.

Indeed, God always responds to our legitimate requests though we may not realize it. He either answers our prayers in this world, applies them to avert impending problems or saves the rewards for the Hereafter.

Some ettiquettes of supplication:

  • Expect miracles. "It's true that you can't unscramble eggs," says scholar Usama Abdul-Ghani. "But God can take scrambled eggs and make a great omelette."
  • Aim for the stars. Prophet Muhammad (S) encouraged us to think big in the way of a female follower of Prophet Moses (foster son of Asiya). When Moses approached this woman for some information, she demanded he first ask God to give her the same station as him in heaven. He did and her wish was granted.
  • Include all, big and small. God said: "O Moses! Ask me for everything, even the mending of your shoelace."
Of course, supplications to God must be accompanied by obedience to Him and full-force efforts to "create the grounds for the prayers to be answered," says Abdul-Ghani.

Invocations for peace and justice in this world, for example, must be matched by struggle against oppression. Activist and poet Allama Iqbal expresses this tenet beautifully in "A Child's Prayer." Here's an excerpt (translated from Urdu):

"My longing comes to my lips as a supplication of mine,
O God, may like the candle be the life of mine,

May the world's darkness disappear through the life of mine,
May every place light up with the sparkling life of mine."

At the end of the day, says Abdul-Ghani, we must trust in God's decree and timing while still expecting our request to be "at the door."

I held off on sharing that last bit with my daughter, though. If she decided to literally check the door, we'd be back to square one.


xavier said...

Salaam alaikum sister,

Many great books have been written with dua, but the one quoted below gives tremendous advice on how to supplicate, the need of prayer and how it affects the person who does it. Many passages are quite humbling and give great thought to pondering over what Allah (swt) has granted us: the power to ask from Him. Indeed, it is an incredible blessing. I took one hadith for examination, the latter half mentioned first then the former.

An excerpt from Oddatol Daee (The Asset of Supplicant):

You should know that if you request something from God and supplicate, you may or may not see the signs of answering. If your request is granted do not ever think that you are pious, hence do not become proud, for you may be one of those whom God does not like and wishes to say to you on the day of Resurrection: “Were you not among those who turned their back on Me but I granted your request?”

but if someone, in disfavor with God, supplicates, God says to Gabriel: O Gabriel! Grant the request of My servant with haste, for I don’t like to hear his voice.”

Even if your Dua is not answered, do not ever become disappointed, rather you should hope for more Grace, for it God does not answer your Dua, He probably likes to hear your voice. Therefore your duty here is to persists in Dua, for it is through persistence that you are entitled to the reward of the Dua of the Innocent which reads: “May God bless a man who requests something from god and persists in it.”

Now here is the amazing part which personally gives me great hope and love:

Sometimes delay in answering the Dua is due to the servant’s lofty position with God Almighty, for He likes to hear the voice of His servant. In this connection Jaber Ibne Abdullah Ansari quotes the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAW) as saying:

“If a servant who is favored by God supplicates, God says to Gabriel: grant his request but delay it, for I like to hear his voice more and more...

The thought that Allah (swt) delays your answer because He has fallen in love with your voice, provided you are pious with good deeds, then surely there is nothing greater that we could want from Him. Would we not then proclaim: Ya Allah (swt) never answer my prayers for surely Your love is all I need!

xavier said...

Imam Sajjad (as):

MY God! By Your Glory, even if You put a chain round my neck, deprive me of Your pardon, disclose my disgrace before people, give order to put me into Fire, and make a separation between the righteous and me I will never lose my hope in You, nor will I expel from my heart the desire of seeking Your pardon and forgiveness, or expel from my heart Your Love. I will never forget Your kindness and Your concealing of my defects.”

Though we think ourselves above the actions of a child, do we not often find ourselves in the same way? We struggle to understand why things are not as we would like without realizing that their is great wisdom behind it.

The Holy Prophet (saw) has said:

“Seek help from God when in need, seek refuge with Him during afflictions, supplicate, and call upon Him, for Dua is the gist of prayer. No believer calls upon God unless his call is answered in the following ways:
-Either his request is granted in this world
-Or he will receive it in the Hereafter
-Or his sins will be concealed to the extent of his Dua, providing that he has not asked for a sinful act.”

Anonymous said...

question: i enjoy reading your posts and i think you you often make very points and provide good qur'anic reminders. however, i noticed that you don't cite the example of aisha (ra) or other companions of the prophet (sws). what is your opinion of them? do you think they are also worth of emulation?

Anonymous said...

The Quran and Hadith gives us clear guidance in all aspects of our life.
According to Prophet (s) Maryam,Fatima,Khadija and Asiya (in that order)are the four best woman of this world.All are in some way related to three great Prophets. They are role models for Muslim women in every aspect of their lives.
There are several other Muslim women in history who can be role model in some aspects of their lives.

--Sanam-- said...

This is a great post, very informative, jazakallah! :)

Day By Diva
Day By Diva

Salina Khan said...

Salam! Thank you Xavier for posting info about duas. I also love this saying of a great-grandchild of Fatima: "Don't give up hope if the answer to your request is slow in coming, for surely what you receive depends on the strength of your request."

Anonymous: Good question! (and I thank Anonymous 2 for trying to answer it while I was gone.) The theme of my blog is the Four Perfect Women (according to God) and I like confine my examples to them or their near ones (as they often shed light on their personalities).Of course, that does not mean they are the only ones we can learn from.

Thank you, Sanam!

Gulnaar khan said...


I'm at a loss for words to describe all your posts, each seems better than the previous ones. You and the people who comment are amazingly sagacious and learned people- all of you inspire me so much!

Thank you so much! Love your work!

(P.S:- When I read the name of your blog,I thought it had something to do with a style diva (the Indian press usually calls Paris Hilton -the but then, what's in a name, anyway!

A lot lot lot of Jazak Allah Khair!!!!