Blessings of Prayer

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Author: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908)
Book-Title Barkat ud Dua (1893)

Blessings of Prayer (Book) [English rendering of Barakatud Du‘a (Urdu)] is a book by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, published in 1893. First English edition: Rabwah, 1973, now published by Islam International Publications Ltd. Islamabad Sheephatch Lane, Tilford, Surrey, United Kingdom GU10 2AQ . Printed in UK at: Raqeem Press 'Islamabad', Tilford, Surrey GU10 2AQ. (ISBN 1 85372 868 3).[1]

Barakatud Du‘a, or The Blessings of Prayer, is a refutation of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s [2] view that there is no such thing as the acceptance of prayer, and that prayer is no more than a form of worship. Ahmad proclaims that Allah hears and accepts the supplication of believers which are offered in humility and sincerity, and that the acceptance of prayer sets in motion its own chain of causes which culminates in the fulfillment of the objective prayed for.

Sir Syed's Views of Prayer[edit]

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Ahmad paraphrasing Sir Syed’s treatise on the issue of Prayer, before making a full rebuttal of his views (page. 7-10), writes:

Acceptance of prayers against Predetermination[edit]

'Prayer does not mean that whatever is prayed for will necessarily be granted, for if this be the meaning of acceptance of prayer, two difficulties would arise: First, thousands of prayers are offered with great humility and in extreme anguish, and yet the wish is not granted. This means that the prayer has not been accepted despite the fact that God has promised the acceptance of prayers.The second difficulty is that whatever is going to happen has already been determined; likewise that which is not going to happen has also been determined, and nothing can ever happen contrary to this determination.

Only acceptance as 'Worship'[edit]

If the acceptance of prayer was taken to mean that whatever one asks for is granted, then the Divine promise:’ Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer.—Al-Mu’min, 40:61’ will obviously not apply to the prayers which have been determined never to be granted. In view of this interpretation, the promise of the acceptance of prayer cannot be taken as a promise.... requests will be granted which have already been decreed. And yet the promise of the acceptance of prayer is a promise and admits of no exception. Moreover, as some verses of the Holy Quran indicate that things which have been decreed not to be granted are never granted, and at the same time it is evident from some other verses that no prayer is rejected and all are accepted—what is more, God Almighty has promised to accept all prayers, as indicated in the verse (40:61). ....acceptance of prayer as the acceptance of worship,...

Apprehension relieved[edit]

Nevertheless, a great benefit of prayer is that when one prays one’s is overawed by the Majesty and Omnipotence of God, and this feeling overcomes all the apprehensions which had been the source of distress, and the supplicant begins to experience forbearance and fortitude. ... as we know that something which has been determined shall, in all circumstances, be granted—whether one prays for it or not—and that whatever has not been predetermined will not be granted……

Man's Nature to seek help[edit]

that it is man’s nature to seek help when in distress, and it is due to this natural faculty that he prays without giving a thought to whether or not his prayer will be granted. He prays because it has been ingrained in his nature to seek everything from God..’ Aldua Wal Istajaba (1892), Urdu by Sir Syed Ahmed, pamphlet about the Philosophy of Prayers pp. 1–7 [3]

Ahmad explains acceptance of Prayer[edit]

Ahmad writes: ‘Syed Sahib does not believe prayer to be the means of attaining an objective, nor does he believe it to be helpful in achieving any purpose. … and crying and beseeching is of no avail when something has not been preordained…..Syed Sahib believes prayer to be related only to worship, and that he considers it a folly to think of it as a means for achieving any worldly objective. (p. 11)

Syed's Contradiction in Thought[edit]

(If) Syed Sahib did not have enough understating to comprehend the verses of the Holy Quran, was also the law of nature hidden from his eyes when he wrote on this subject? How could he have ignored the law of nature while he professes to follow it and regards it as the interpreter of Divine guidance and of the hidden mysteries of the Holy Quran? Was Syed Sahib not aware that though there is nothing good or evil in the world which has not been preordained, nature has nevertheless appointed certain means for their occurrence, and no reasonable person will ever question the effectiveness of these means.

For instance, if we were to take everything to have been predetermined, it would be as ineffectual to use or not to use medicine as it would be to pray or not to pray. But Syed Sahib would never say that medical science is utterly baseless, and that the True Physician has placed no effect in medicine? If Syed Sahib, in spite of his faith in the Divine Decree, also believes in the efficacy of medicine, then why is he creating mischief and why he is discriminating in the similar and parallel laws of God Almighty?

No Disharmony in Physical and Spiritual Laws of Nature[edit]

Is it possible that there should be disharmony in the Divine order, and that the Will which God has manifested in medicines for the benefit of His creatures should fail to manifest itself in the case of prayers? This is definitely not so….(p. 13)

Where does he falter[edit]

He has failed to understand how Destiny and Predetermination has been closely linked to causes, nor does he understand the deep, indispensable and interdependent relationship between cause and effect. This is why he fell into the error of thinking that things can take place without the coming into play the physical and spiritual causes appointed by nature. Of course, there is nothing that has not been Preordained, and all the things that man makes use of, such as fire, air, soil, corn, vegetables, animals and minerals, have been ordained for him; nevertheless, if some fool were to imagine that anything can be gained without all the means that God has appointed for the purpose, and without proceeding in the way that has been determined by nature, and without the mediation of physical or spiritual means, such a person seeks only to falsify the wisdom of God Almighty. (p. 14)

Why Predestination only in Prayers[edit]

Does Syed Sahib only think of Predestination when it comes to prayer and forget it when fire and other elements are mentioned? Is it not the same Predetermination that affects both? Although Syed Sahib believes in Predetermination, he at the same time vehemently believes in the physical means, … why then does he forget the system of nature which he himself professes when it comes to prayer? (p. 14)

Syed has no personal experience of Prayers[edit]

The author of the book writes about Sir Syed:

He has neither personal experience in this field, nor kept the company of those who have had such experiences. (p. 15)

To say that the avenue of Wahi-e-Walayat (Revelation granted to Saints) has been blocked and signs cannot be shown and prayers cannot be accepted is the path of ruin and not the path of safety. Do not reject Divine bounty. Wake up and test it and scrutinize it! If you find that I am a person of ordinary understanding and intellect and what I say is of little consequence, then do not accept me. But if you witness the wonder of Divine power and see the shine of the same Hand, which manifested itself in those who had Divine support and received Divine revelation, then do accept me. (p. 38)

What is Prayer[edit]

Prayer, in essence, means a relationship of mutual attraction between a righteous person and his Lord. This means that God’s grace first draws a person towards Himself, and then, through the magnetism of the person’s sincerity, God draws closer to him. In the state of prayer this relationship reaches a point where it manifests wonderful qualities. When a man in grave difficulty falls down in prayer with perfect certainty, perfect hope, perfect fidelity, and perfect resolve; and when he becomes perfectly alert and advances far into the field of self-annihilation, tearing aside all veils of heedlessness, lo and behold, he finds before him the Divine threshold, and he perceives that God has no associate. His soul then prostrates itself at the Divine threshold and the power of attraction that is invested in him draws the bounties of God Almighty towards him. It is then that the Glorious God attends to the fulfillment of the desired objective, and casts the effect of the prayer on all the preliminary means, which, in turn, produce the means that are essential for the achievement of the objective. (p. 15-16)

Predestination does not render Sciences useless[edit]

It is true that Predestination comprehends everything, but it has neither rendered the sciences useless nor has it shown the means to be unreliable. If you reflect deeply enough, you will see that the physical and spiritual means are not outside the sphere of Predestination. (p. 18)

God Almighty has bound both the physical and spiritual orders in the same chain of cause and effect. Thus, it is a gross mistake on the part of Syed Sahib to accept the physical order and to deny the spiritual one. (p. 19)

Prayers have Power of Creation[edit]

The prayers of a perfect one are endowed with a power of creation. That is to say, under Divine command, prayer influences the lower and higher strata of the world and sways the elements, heavenly bodies, and hearts of men towards the desired objective.....it is through prayers that the supernatural signs of Divine Omnipotence are manifested. (p. 17)

The Miracle in the wasteland of Arabia[edit]

Addressing the Syed, and referring to what actually transformed the Arabs in the 7th Century, Ahmad writes:

Have you any notion what was the strange event that occurred in the wasteland of Arabia when hundreds of thousands of the dead were revived within a few days, and those who had been misguided through generations exhibited Divine complexion,and those who were blind began to see, and those who had been dumb began to utter words of Divine wisdom, and the world underwent a revolution which no eye had seen before and no ear had heard of. Do you know how all this came about? It was the supplications during the dark nights of one who had lost himself in God which caused a revolution in the world, and showed such wonders as could never have been expected from that Unlettered and Helpless one [the Holy Prophet] (p. 17)

The Testimony of Prophets[edit]

The fact is that prayer is one of the natural means about which more than one hundred thousand Prophets and tens of millions of saints have given their testimonies. What else did the Prophets possess, but prayer! (p. 25)

Prayers Prove God Exists[edit]

This, after all, is the very blessing of the presence of God, that He should hear our prayers and should Himself inform us of His existence; not that we should contrive in a thousand ways to establish in our hearts an imaginary god, like an idol, whose voice we cannot hear, and the manifestation of whose supreme power we cannot see. You should know for a certainty that the Omnipotent God, Who has power over everything, does exist. (p. 49)

Refuting Syed's View[edit]

Ahmad refutes Syed's view that "acceptance of prayers implies acceptance of worship ONLY", Ahmad wrote, then why at times God has even admonished His beloved ones, NOT to ask?

It is obvious that if every prayer was worship, then why should Noah have been reprimanded with the words [Ask not of Me!]. [4] There are times when saints and Prophets consider it disrespectful to pray for a certain thing. At such times, the sages have acted upon the dictates of their hearts; which means that when they were confronted with a trial they would pray if their heart’s dictate was to pray, but if it called for endurance they would endure and refrain from prayer. (p. 20)

If Prayers are without benefit here...[edit]

Ahmad writes, if prayers are without any good in resolving any hardship in this world, how could it be of any use for the After Life?

If prayer is indeed a vain thing and cannot be a means for the removal of any calamity in present life, then how will it become the means for doing the same on the Day of Resurrection? It is only too clear that if our prayers truly possess the quality of safeguarding us against calamities, then this quality should manifest itself in this world also, so that our faith and our hope may be strengthened and we may pray even more earnestly for our salvation in the hereafter. But if prayer amounts to nothing and that which has been predestined is bound to happen, then just as prayer is useless for the tribulations of this world—according to Syed Sahib—it should also be useless to pin any hopes on it in the hereafter. (p. 22)

So long as a prayer is not inspired by full spirituality and a close connection is not established between the supplicant and the person on whose behalf the supplication is made, there is little hope that such a prayer will be accepted. (p. 22)

Has God Lost All Control[edit]

If God can not manifest His Will today, is He no more All-Powerful?

"...as though all things have slipped away from the Hand of God and He now exercises no control over their transformation or alteration, as if His divinity is confined to a narrow sphere and the manifestation of His power is something that belongs to the past, and the state in which we find things is not due to His Determination—for the concept of Determination requires the control of the Lord of Destiny—but is an innate quality of the things themselves which cannot be changed or transformed. Obviously, characteristics over which God Almighty has no control cannot be called His Destiny. On the other hand, if He does have control over them, there will always be the possibility of alteration.." (p. 26)

God's Omnipotence[edit]

It is God’s unlimited and unrestricted exercise of authority over His creation at all times that constitutes Divine omnipotence. If He is indeed the Creator, then, as He is unlimited in Himself, He must also have left enough room in His creation for the unlimited exercise of His control, so that at no point should His powers become dormant. (p. 43)

And Allah’s hands are not tied by anything. On the contrary His hands are absolutely free. He spends as He pleases, and acts as He deems fit; And He has the power to do all that He wills. And in conclusion our call is: All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the world. (p. 50)

Destiny demands Control[edit]

His Determination—for the concept of Determination requires the control of the Lord of Destiny—but14 is an innate quality of the things themselves which cannot be changed or transformed. Obviously, characteristics over which God Almighty has no control cannot be called His Destiny. On the other hand, if He does have control over them, there will always be the possibility of alteration. (p. 26)

Criteria and Principles of Exegesis of the Quran[edit]

Ahmad claims that Syed’s misinterpretation of the concept of Prayer is due to a wrong interpretation and comprehension of the Quran. He lays down the Criteria for the correct interpretation of the Quran. For the Principles of Tafseer-ul-Quran (Exegesis) by Syed Ahmad see his Commentary of Quran (Urdu).[5] 'There is no doubt that at most places Syed Sahib’s commentary falls quite short of these seven criteria.' (p. 39)

First and foremost Criterion[edit]

For an accurate commentary of the Holy Quran [must have] the testimony of the Quran itself. … the Holy Quran is not … dependent upon extraneous sources for the proof or disclosure of their verities. …[it is] like a perfectly balanced structure, the whole dynamics of which are disturbed by the displacement of a single block. The Holy Quran possesses no verity that is not supported by at least ten or twenty testimonies contained within itself. … If there are no other testimonies, and the interpretation is found to be clearly opposed to some other verses, then we should conclude that this interpretation is false, for there is no possibility of contradiction in the Holy Quran. (p. 28)

The touchstone of a true interpretation is that it should be supported by a host of clear and supporting testimonies of the Holy Quran itself . (p. 28)

The second Criterion[edit]

… is the interpretation of the Holy Prophet. There can be no doubt that our beloved and revered Prophet was the one who best understood the Holy Quran. Thus, if an interpretation made by the Holy Prophet is available, then a Muslim is duty-bound to accept it. (p. 29)

The third Criterion[edit]

… is the interpretation of the Companions of the Holy Prophet. There is no doubt that the Companions were the first to inherit the light of the Holy Prophet and were the foremost inheritors of his knowledge. (p. 29)

The fourth Criterion[edit]

… is to meditate upon the meanings of the Holy Quran with the purity of one’s own self, because purity of the self has a certain affinity with the Holy Quran, as Allah says: ‘None touch it except the purified’ [6] which means that the verities of the Holy Quran are disclosed only to a person of pure heart, for the two have an affinity with one another. Such a person recognizes these verities, and smells them, and his heart cries out that this indeed is the true way. The light of his heart is an excellent criterion for evaluating the truth. Unless a person is endowed with this quality and treads on the narrow path which the Prophets have tread, it is only prudent that he should refrain from impertinently and arrogantly assuming the role of a commentator. (p. 30)

Otherwise his commentary will be based upon his own inference, and this is something which the Holy Prophet has forbidden. He has said: “He who interprets the Holy Quran based on his own inference, does an erroneous interpretation even though he thinks he has done well.” [7] (p. 30)

The fifth Criterion[edit]

… is the Arabic lexicon. Since, the Holy Quran itself has provided sufficient means for its understanding, recourse to Arabic lexicon seems unnecessary. But there is no doubt that it helps in enhancing our understanding, and sometimes, when we consult the lexicon, our attention is drawn to some hidden subtleties of the Holy Quran and we discover some mystery. (p. 30)

The sixth criterion[edit]

… for understanding the spiritual order is the understanding of the physical order, for there is complete harmony between the two. (p. 30) It signifies that the day to day experiences and the Laws of nature observed in the working of the Physical order, should be made a benchmark for interpreting and understanding the figures of speech and smileys incorporated in the Quranic verses.

The seventh Criterion[edit]

… is the revelation granted to saints and the visions of the Muhaddathin . This criterion comprehends all the other criteria because he who is granted the revelation of Muhaddathiyyat possesses all the qualities of the Prophet he follows and is granted all that which was granted to him, with the exception of Prophethood and new commandments, and the true teaching is certainly made manifest to him. (p. 32)

Syed's views of Revelation[edit]

Syed Sahib’s belief that Prophetic revelation is no more than a special natural ability and that angels have no intermediary role to play between this ability and God Almighty (p. 39)

In the observable order of the world, we do not find a single instance whereby God Almighty grants us something merely by stretching out His blessed Hand, rather everything is given to us through the means. Again, we observe that our physical faculties have not been created in a perfect condition, which means that the eyes, for instance, do not by themselves possess any light, and do not possess the ability—like the ability to receive revelation that you have proposed—which should make them independent of the intermediary of the Sun. How, then, can your vague concepts, which are against this natural order, stand up to the truth? (p. 39)

Moreover, the testimony of personal experiences, which is the most outstanding testimony of all, strongly rejects this concept of yours. I have continued to be honoured with Divine revelation for the last eleven years, and I know full well that revelation does indeed descend from heaven. Revelation, if one could compare it to anything in the world, might perhaps be compared to the telegraph which automatically transmits every variation. (p. 40)

Describing own experience of Revelation[edit]

Ahmad has described how does he experience Revelation, narrating his own personal testimony he writes:

My own experience at the time of the descent of revelation—which comes to me in the form of Wahie-Walayat—is that I become aware of an external and very powerful hold over myself. At times this influence is so strong and its light so takes hold of me, and so forcefully do I find myself drawn towards it, that I am powerless to resist. Under this influence, I hear clear and manifest revelation. Sometimes I even see the angels and perceive the power and awe of the truth. Very often the revelation comprehends matters of the unseen. The external hold is so powerful that it gives evidence of the existence of God. To deny this would be the carnage of a self evident truth. (p. 41)

Warning Sir Syed Ahmad Khan[edit]

O Syed! the leader of such people! Be warned, for you are off the right path. Whatever has gone into your mind in your old age! Do repent; the path you tread is not the right path. I fear lest due to such thoughts, You might one day reject the existence of God Himself! Desist sire! for to delve in matters Divine Is sheer madness. Nothing comes of conjecture, Do back away, for these are not matters to trifle with. O dear sir, beseech Allah the Almighty to grant you spiritual sight! Secrets of the Divine realm are not a bounty that can be acquired by force.(p .36)

Ahmad's Invitation to see a Sign[edit]

I too have observed from personal experience that the effect of prayers far excels that of water and fire. In fact, nothing in the chain of natural causes is as gloriously potent as prayer. (p. 18)

Let him (Syed) know that I have been commissioned to dispel such misconceptions and I promise to inform him of the acceptance of some of my prayers beforehand, and I will even go so far as to publish them. (p. 19)

I believe it would be better if Syed Sahib would think of his last days and stay in my company for a few months. Having been appointed by God and being the bearer of glad tidings, I promise that I will concentrate [in supplication] so that Syed Sahib may be satisfied. I do hope that God Almighty will manifest such a sign that Syed Sahib’s proposed law of nature will be brought to naught in no time. Many such things have already happened which Syed Sahib considers to be against the law of nature. But it would be futile to mention them now since Syed Sahib will regard them as mere tales. Nor does Syed Sahib believe in such prophecies ... If Syed Sahib is unable to come and stay with me, then he should—by undertaking to accept the truth in respect of these two matters—permit me to publish whatever is revealed to me by God Almighty in answer to my supplications regarding him. This will be a great service to the public at large. If Syed Sahib’s assertions are true...(p. 49)

Come See a Sign[edit]

You who say: Show me If there is any power in prayer; Run towards me, I will show you its power As clear as the shining sun. Beware! do not deny the wonders of Divine omnipotence; Come now, let me show you how prayers are accepted! (p. 51)

Prophecy about Pundit Lekhram of Peshawar[edit]

Another Prophecy with regard to Pundit Lekhram (1858-died March 6, 1897) of Peshawar:[8]

"Today, on the morning of 2nd April, 1893, which is 14th of the month of Ramadan 1310 Hijrah, in a state of slight drowsiness, I saw myself sitting in a large house with some friends, when a robust and frightful man, who seemed to be in a terrible rage, appeared before me. I looked up and saw that he was a man of an unfamiliar creation and disposition. He seemed not a man but one of the terrible and awe-inspiring angels, and his terror seized the hearts. As I looked at him, he asked, 'Where is Lekhram?' He also named another person and asked of his whereabouts. It was then that I realized that this man had been appointed for the chastisement of both Lekhram and the other person whose name I do not recollect. But what I do remember is that he was from among those regarding whom I have already published an announcement. This happened on Sunday at four o’clock in the morning. [Allah be praised for it]. (p. 53)

Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was alive to see the fulfillment of Ahmad's prayers and the prophecy about Pundit Lekhran's(1858- March 6, 1897) tragic assassination.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Blessings of Prayers, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, (1893)
  2. ^ Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, KCSI; 17 October 1817 – 27 March 1898), a social activist, educationist and religious scholar of nineteenth century India
  3. ^ Aldua Wal Istajaba (1892) by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Urdu
  4. ^ He said, "O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.(Quran 11:46)" [1]
  5. ^ Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's Tafseer-ul-Quran, (Pages 1-36)
  6. ^ ‘None touch it, except the Purified’(the Quran, 56:79)
  7. ^ Hadith: [Tirmidhi, Abwabu Tafsiril-Quran, Babu ma ja’a filladhi Yufassirul Qur’ana bi-Ra’yihi. ]
  8. ^ Prophecy about Lekhram of Peshawar (1858-March 6, 1897);
  9. ^ "Relations grew particularly bad between the Aryas and the Muslims. Serious violence broke out in 1897 when a leading Arya Samajist called Pandit Lekh Ram was assassinated. Lekh Ram's greatest influence was in the north-west of Punjab. He had in fact joined the Peshawar Arya Samaj in 1880 and rose to prominence first as a missionary and then as editor of the Arya Gazette. At first he had limited his attacks to the Ahmadi movement of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, but he increasingly attacked orthodox Muslims as well. His pamphlet, Risala-i-Jihad ya'ri Din-i-Muhammad ki Bunyad (A Treatise on waging holy war, or the foundation of the Muhammadan Religion) caused a considerable outcry, when it was published in 1892. Until his murder by a Muslim five years later, Lekh Ram continued to stir up animosity by his vituperative writings." ( Ian Talbot writes in "Punjab and the Raj", 1849-1947", pg. 72-73).
  10. ^ Pandit Lekhram of Peshawar