Every one of us goes through moments when he is in desperate need of help, but he realises at the same time that he is far from likely to find the help he wants with any human being. If he is a believer, he turns to Allah with a prayer. If it is sincere, coming out from his heart, stressing as it is uttered, his need and helplessness while acknowledging that it is only Allah, the Lord of the Universe, who can grant it, then that prayer would be answered. A believer is always happy to address his prayer to Allah because he knows that Allah grants his servants request and gives them even more than they ask of Him, without holding it as a favour or exacting a heavy price for what He bestows on them. Moreover, supplication highlights a sense of closeness between a human being and his Lord. If you .address Allah directly, without an intermediary, giving nothing of yourself apart from your acknowledgement of your need of Him and His ability to grant you whatever you request, then supplication strengthens your faith. It is little wonder, therefore, that the Prophet describes supplication as “the core of worship”.
The companions of the Prophet who had the privilege of requesting him to pray for them stood witness to what it means if Allah answers a prayer in full. A woman companion of the Prophet named Aminah bint Mohsin had the misfortune of losing her young son. Her grief was so overwhelming that she could not concentrate properly during the initial period of her loss. When a man went in to give the dead child the ritual bath, she said to him. “Do not wash my son with cold water, lest you kill him.” Her brother, Ukkashah went to the Prophet and told him what she said. Smiling, the Prophet said: Whatever she said, may she be granted long life”. (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al Adab Al Mufrad and An-Nassaei).
This was a little prayer said by way of comment on an interesting description of the grief of a woman losing her young son. But the Prophet’s prayer was never said casually. It has been authentically reported to us that every time the Prophet uttered a prayer, whether for a person or for the Muslim community in general, that prayer was fulfilled in the clearest and most vivid of manners. The scholars of Hadith who have related this incident have commented that no woman is known to have lived as long as Aminah bint Mohsin did.
Anas ibn Malik was in his early teens when his mother Umm Sulaim told him to stay with the Prophet and serve him all the time. Anas learnt a great deal from the Prophet and reported many Hadiths, Umm Sulaim and her family were so close to the Prophet that visitors to Madinah might have thought them to belong to the Prophet’s household. Anas reports: The Prophet (peace be on him) used to come in frequently to see us. One day he came in and prayed for us. Umm Sulaim (meaning his own mother) said to him; This, your little servant: would you pray for him? He said: “My lord , give him plenty of money and children, prolong his life and forgive him.( Related by Al- Bukhari, Muslim and Al-Tirmithi).
If we look at the gist of the Prophet’s prayers for Anas, we find that it combines happiness in this life with happiness in the here after. The birth of a child is always a pleasure. Watching children as they grow up spreads a feeling of happiness in the family. When this is combined with a life of plenty, there is no worry about feeding one’s children. A large, well-to-do family is bound to exercise influence within its community. As the young generation grows up, they are bound to expand the family’s area of interest. And each one of them begins to chart up his career. A prayer by the Prophet for forgiveness ensures a happy end for the person concerned. That leads to heaven, the place in which; every dweller enjoys happiness unblemished by any worry.
If anyone inquires how the Prophet’s prayer for Anas was answered, we have a report by Anas by himself. He is authentically reported by Muslim to have said: “By Allah, I have plenty of money. My children and grand children are today around 100”. We have different reports about how long Anas did live. The minimum number given in these reports put his age and the time of his death at 99, while the report which gives him the maximum, mentions that he lived for 107 years. Anas was also hopeful of forgiveness in the hereafter. He is reported by Muslim to have said: “The Prophet said three prayers for me. I have seen the results of two of them in this life and hope to see the third in the hereafter”. Much of his wealth was in real property, not in cash. He used to say that his trees and crops gave two yields every year. There is no need to say much more about Anas and how Allah answered the Prophet’s prayers in his favour. What we need to say is that when we make our supplication, we should not hesitate to pray Allah to grant us our wishes in this world. Nor should we forget to pray for happiness in the hereafter. Miserable indeed is the person who enjoys a life of plenty in this world, but has nothing to show in the hereafter.
On the other hand, working hard in order to ensure happiness in the life to come, does not necessarily mean denying oneself the pleasure of this world. It means only refraining from what is forbidden, enjoyable and tempting as it may seem. Allah tells us in the Quran that we should make use of what he has given us in such ways as to draw us nearer to him and secure for us admission into heaven.
We should not, however deny ourselves a share of the pleasure of this world. He says: “ Seek by means of that which Allah has given you, to attain the abode of the hereafter, but do not forget your share in this world.”. Hence, when the Prophet was asked by his companions what they should say in their supplication, he taught them short prayers which sought happiness in this life as well as in the life to come. Tariq ibn Ushaim says: “We used to go in the morning to the Prophet. A man or a woman would come to him and say:
Messenger of Allah, what should I say in my prayer? He answered: “Say, My Lord forgive me and have mercy on me and guide me, and give me plenty. These words combined for you what you need in this life and in the life to come.” ( related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al Mufrad, Muslim and Ibn Majah). Here the prophet teaches his followers to include four things in their supplications. The first relates purely to the hereafter, since it requests forgiveness which ensures easy reckoning on the day of judgment and the last relates only to this world as it seeks plenty of wealth and provision, the middle two are prayers for mercy and guidance, which relate to both this world and the next. A person who enjoys Allah’s mercy and guidance in the life is happy, and without Allah’s mercy on the day of judgment, no one can hope to be granted admission into heaven. It is useful to state this supplication in its Arabic form for the benefits of readers who want to say it in the same words the Prophet used to. He told his companions to say “Allahumma igfirli Warhamni wahdni warzuqni”.
Sometimes the Prophet included in his supplication prayers which related only to this life. But these were mainly requests to Allah to grant him a good life and ward off catastrophe, whether caused by natural events or by other people. Jabir quotes the Prophet as praying in these words: Allahumma aslih li sam ‘ie Wa basari, waja’lhuma alwarithayni minni wansurni ala man thalamani, wa arini minhutha’ri” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al Adab Al Mufrad, Al-Tirmithi, Al-Hakim and Al-Tabarani). This supplication may be rendered in translation as follows; “My Lord, keep good for me my hearing and my eyesight. And make both of them the heirs of my body, and grant me victory over anyone who oppresses me and exact from him my recompense.”
In this instance, the Prophet prays first for the protection of his hearing and eyesight needless to say that these are the most important of human senses. Allah often describes himself in the Quran as the one who hears all and sees all.
A person who loses either one of these two senses is severely handicapped. If one retains both in his old age, he can cope with most of the difficulties that may befall him. When we follow the Prophet’s example and pray Allah to make these two senses the heirs of our bodies, we are actually appealing to him to keep both senses in good shape for us until we die. They become the heirs, as it were, of our bodies.
The Prophet also teaches us to pray for support against oppression and help against any one who treats us with injustice. Perhaps nothing is more demoralizing or takes a greater toll of our physical and mental well being than injustice. When we are the victims of injustice, we certainly need support and Allah provides the best and most effective support for us. The last part of the Prophet’s supplication leaves it up to Him to exact retribution against the perpetrators of injustice against us. This stresses the fact that we need Allah’s support while He needs nothing from us.