God’s Messenger prayed to God at every step he took. When we look through the books of Tradition (Hadith), we see that he never neglected prayer in any situation. Prayer is, as mentioned before, a mystery of servanthood to God, and God’s Messenger is the foremost in servanthood, so far so that in the declaration of faith - I bear witness there is no god but God; I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger - first we declare that he is a servant and then a Messenger. Whatever he intended to do, he referred it to God through prayer.
God is ‘the Creator of us and whatever we do’. Although we should take necessary precautions and follow precedents in order to accomplish things in this material world, where the principle of ‘cause and effect’ has a special place, we should never forget that everything ultimately depends on God to come into existence. So, action and prayer should be combined in everything we do. This is also what is required by our belief in the Unity of God.
As with every virtue, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was the foremost in the knowledge of God, and therefore in love of, and paradoxically, fear of Him. He was perfectly conscious that everything, from the smallest to the greatest, depends on God Almighty for its existence and subsistence. Whatever God wills, happens: When He wills a thing, His command is to say to it ‘Be’, and it is (Ya Sin, 36.82). God has made the existence of things and the operation of the universe dependant upon ‘laws’ and the fulfillment of prerequisites. Fully aware of this fact, God’s Messenger never failed to do what he had to do, and then, combining action with prayer, left the result to God with absolute confidence in Him. The supplications he made have been transmitted to us. When we read them, we see that they contain deep meaning and accord exactly with the circumstances he made them in. They reflect profound belief, deep sincerity, absolute submission and complete confidence.
For example, he advises us:
When you go to bed, do wudu’ as you do before daily prayers and say this prayer:
O God! I have, in hope (of Your Mercy) and fear (of Your wrath), submitted myself to You, referred my affairs to You, and taken refuge in You. There is no refuge, nor source of safety from Your wrath, except You. I have believed in the Book You sent down, and the Prophet you raised.1
Without sins, a soul is like a polished mirror or a white piece of cloth. Sins are dirt covering the soul. In order to clean the soul of dirt, that is, in order to purify it of sins, one should turn to God in repentance and ask for His forgiveness. The following is one of the prayers which the Prophet said in order to ask for God’s forgiveness, although he himself was sinless, and advised us to say:
O God! Put between me and errors a distance as great as that which you put between east and west! O God! Clean me of my errors as a white garment is cleaned of dirt!2
The words used and the comparisons made in this prayer are so meaningful that their explanation may fill a whole volume.
The following are some more examples of his supplications, as precise and comprehensive as the others:
O God! I ask You for the whole of good, including what is at hand and what is deferred; what I already know and what I do not know. I take refuge in You from every evil, including what is at hand and what is deferred; what I already know and what I do not know.3
O God! There is nothing to hinder what You will grant, nor anything to grant what You hinder! No wealthy one can do us good, as wealth belongs to You.4
O God! I have not told everything, nor have I taken an oath, nor have I made a vow, nor have I done anything, which You did not previously will. Whatever You willed, it is, and whatever You did not will, it is not. There is no strength nor power save with You, and You are indeed All-Powerful over everything. O God! Whatever prayer I have said, let it be for whomever You have mercy for, and whatever curse I have called down, let it be for whomever You have called down curses upon. Surely You are my Guardian in this world and the Hereafter. Make me die as a Muslim and include me among the righteous.5
O God! I ask You for content after misfortune, a peaceful life after death, the pleasure of observing Your Face, and a desire to meet You. I take refuge in You from wronging others and from being wronged, from showing animosity and being subject to animosity, and from erring or committing unforgivable sins.6
...If You leave me to myself, then you have left me to weakness, neediness, sinfulness and erring. I do not depend but on Your Mercy, so forgive all of my sins, for none but You can forgive sins; accept my repentance, for You are the Oft-Relenting and the All-Compassionate.7
O God! You deserve most to be mentioned and none but You deserve to be worshipped. You are more helpful than anyone whose help may be sought, and more affectionate than every ruler, more generous than anyone who may be asked for something, and more generous than anyone else who gives. You are the Monarch, having no partners, and the Unique One having no like. Everything is perishable except You. You are never obeyed but by Your leave, and never disobeyed but within Your knowledge. When somebody obeys You, You reward him; but when someone disobeys You, You forgive him. You witness everything, nearer to it than any other witness; and protect everything, nearer to it than any other protector. You ordained the acts of men and determined their time of death. You know what is in every mind, and secrets are manifest to You. The lawful is what You have made lawful, and the forbidden is what You have forbidden. The religion is what You have laid down, and the commandment is what You have decreed. The creation is Your creation, and the servants are Your servants. You are God, the All-Clement, the All-Compassionate, I ask You, for the sake of the light of Your Face, by which the heavens and earth were illuminated, and for the sake of every right belonging to You, and for the sake of those who ask of You, to forgive me just in this morning and just in this evening, and to protect me, by Your Power, from Hellfire.8
O God! I seek refuge in You from any knowledge which gives no benefit, and from a heart that fears You not, and from a soul not satisfied, and from prayer that cannot be answered.9
O God! I ask You for steadfastness in my affairs; I ask you for resolution in guidance; I ask You for gratitude for Your bounties and acceptable service to You; I ask You for a truthful tongue and a sound heart; and I seek refuge in You from the evil of what You know, and I ask You for the good of what You know, and I ask for Your forgiveness for what You already know. Surely You are the Knower of the Unseen.10
O God! I ask You to enable me to do good and refrain from vices, and to love the poor, and to forgive me and have mercy on me, and, when You will people’s deviation and dissensions and disorder in public life, make me die before taking part in that disorder. I also ask You for Your love and the love of whom You love, and the love of the acts which will make me nearer to Your love.11
O God! I ask You for the good in the beginning and in the end, and in its most comprehensive form with its beginning and result, and its manifest and secret kinds, and for the highest rank in Paradise.12
O God! Help me remember You, thank You, and worship You most properly.13
O God! I ask You for guidance, fear of You, chastity and independence of others.14
O God! Bring all of our affairs to a good conclusion, and protect us from disgrace and ignominy in the world and from being tormented in the Hereafter!15
The Prophet teaches us another comprehensive supplication:
O God! We ask You for the whole of good for which Your Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, asked You, and we seek refuge in You from every evil from which Your Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, sought refuge in You.16
Prayer constituted an important aspect of the Prophet’s life. All the supplications quoted, together with many others which he said before going to bed, after waking up, while getting dressed or undressed, on seeing the new moon or witnessing a lunar or solar eclipse, when a storm broke up or a cloud appeared, before starting on or returning from a journey, and in times of drought or heavy rain, etc., have all become keys in the hands of the great saints like Abu Hasan al-Shadhili, Ahmad Badawi, Ahmad Rifa‘i and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, to knock on the door of God’s Mercy. This shows that he is the foremost in prayer, and that he is the greatest of the Prophets.
1. Bukhari, “Da‘awat,” 6; Muslim, “Dhikr,” 56.
2. Bukhari, “Edhan,” 89; Muslim, “Masajid,” 147.
3. I. Hanbal, Musnad, 6.147.
4. Bukhari, “Edhan,” 155; Muslim, “Salat,” 205; Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 139.
5. I. Hanbal, Musnad, 5.191.
6. Nasa’i, “Sahw,” 62; I. Hanbal, 5.191.
7. I. Hanbal, 5.191.
8. Haythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 10.117.
9. Muslim, “Dhikr,” 73; Abu Dawud, “Witr,” 32.
10. Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 23; Nesa’i, “Sahw,” 61.
11. Tirmidhi, “Tafsir al-Qur’an,” 39; Imam Malik ibn Anas, Muwatta’, “Qur’an,” 73.
12. Hakim, Mustadrak, 1.520.
13. Ibid., 1.499.
14. Ibn Ma’ja, “Du‘a,” 2; Muslim, “Dhikr,” 72; Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 73.
15. I. Hanbal, 4.181; Hakim, 3.591.
16. Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 89.
THE WAY TO TRUTH