Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is the point of invoking Allah ? Friday Khutbah

( Note: The following is an edited version of a Friday Khutbah delivered 1/20/17 at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam. Much of the references in Arabic language have been omitted here, as has the opening Hamd.]

Does God answer our prayers?

A common question is that if a person believes in God and prays to him, why doesn't he answer his prayers? A person invokes Allah for this or that particular thing, and the opposite happens! The core of these questions is actually the query "If God is All-knowing, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, why pray to him in the first place?".

The meaning of the core question is simple: if God already knows what we want and need, why even bother invoking him at all? The answers to these queries are found within the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم  has said "Du'aa [invocation] is the core of worship.";الدعاء مخ العبادة. He is also reported to have stated "Du'aa is worship". Therefore, we are to learn from these statements of the Messenger [Peace and blessings be upon him] that asking Allah, invoking him is an indicator, a strong sign, of being truly connected to him. 

It is true that the Qur'an teaches that God is all knowing, all aware, all seeing and is even all good [the latter is found within another hadeeth]. He knows what you want and what you need, yet the need still exists to invoke him.

If that is the case, why does he not answer?

Allah hears all supplications

Allah does respond. The Qur'an tells us directly Allah's statement on this issue: "I respond to the du'aa of the caller when he calls Me." اجيب دعوة الداع اذا دعان . So Allah does hear, he does see, and he even responds, however, it is not always the response we want!

Your child asks you for candy. There are times you give it to them, however out of concern for their health or other issues, you restrict it, even though the child is asking for it. The child does not always understand the wisdom you possess, but is forced to accept your parental veto,

It is because Allah is the All-knowing and the all aware that he does not always answer our du'aas the way we want them answered. 

In these regards, we need to ponder upon Allah's statement : "The human makes du'aa for bad [harmful] when he should be doing so for good, Indeed, man is hasty." و يدع الانسان بالشر دعاءه بالخير وكان الانسان عجولا

This ayah gives us another teaching, supplications to Allah can be spontaneous, however they should as a general rule be thought out, and connected to genuine human efforts. After all, if God grants all we ask at the moments we ask and in the precise measurements we ask, that would breed laziness, stagnation and stunt creativity.

When can we call upon Allah

Call upon Allah.The Prophet Muhammad has taught us that good opportunities are found in the rukoo', the sujood, after the Tasleem [the concluding act of the formal salaah], and Fridays. Whenever you make du'aa, be sincere therein, and think deeply on what you want to invoke him for. 

When bad things happen

Natural disasters and oppression by man sometimes causes people to either deny God's existence or to view him as cruel and capricious. Philosophers and theologians of every religions have been discussing this for countless generations. 

Facing catastrophes, bey they natural or otherwise, have the effect of bringing us closer to Allah and to each other. It is said that it is only when facing disasters that one discover's one's true friends.

Other related texts on this subject include these following profound Quranic verses. "Praise belongs to Allah, who has created the heavens and the earth, and made darkness and light." [Q 6:1]. We also read : "Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak, from the 'sharr' he has created." [Q 113:1-2].

The term 'sharr', usually translated as 'evil', can also be rendered as 'harm' 'source of injury', even 'fires of youth'. So these things happen by God's will within the Sunnah of Allah, with a wisdom therein which we can't immediately see, but often see later on in life!

Allah's Sunnah is to give us lessons by using our selves or by seeing the lessons in the experiences of other people.

So if we think we are experiencing problems, we should address them by turning closer to Allah Our Lord, and to our deen.

When our supplications aren't answered in the way we want, consider that the thing we are praying for may be harmful in the long term.

Sins stopping one from acts of worship

Some people think that weaknesses or sins are a barrier to worship, that any acts of worship they do would end up being hypocritical, so they consequently will not pray.

Such thinking is understandable but misplaced. The Qur'an says "Indeed, prayer [salaat] restrains from indecenies and repugnant acts, the remembrance of Allah is the greatest [source of inspiration and power] and Allah knows what you produce." [Q 29:45]

ان الصلاة تنهى عن الفحشاء والمنكر ولذكر الله اكبر ولله يعلم ما تصنعون

Eventually, the effects of salaat enter our hearts, our arms and our legs, so don't let weaknesses or sins discourage you from Allah, from remembering and worship of him.