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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement; the Mujaddid (Reformer) of the 14th Century Hijrah; and, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi) <Please read his biography in the 'Biography' section>

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Books Section > Does God Man's Hear Prayers? by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian [Compiled and Translated by Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Sahib; Based on Hazrat Mirza Sahib's Books (Barakaat-ud-Dua and Ayyam-us-Salah) and Discourses/Sermons]


Does God Hear Man's Prayers?:
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian
[Compiled and Translated by Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Sahib --
Imam
, Mosque, Woking, Surrey, England; Associate Editor Islamic Review]
[Based on Hazrat Mirza Sahib's Books (Barakaat-ud-Dua and Ayyam-us-Salah) and Discourses/Sermons]

Note: This book is also available in pdf format

Introduction:

The author of these pages, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claims to have come in fulfilment of certain prophecies in the Muslim traditions, and his laying the foundation of a distinct world movement called the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam has no doubt created, for different reasons, much uproar in ultraconservative circles both in Islam and Christianity. But these controversial issues aside, there is certainly a broader and a simpler approach to the meaning of his personality to the world of today. And this approach is for all fair-minded people to ask themselves the question whether he has any striking service to the cause of religion in general to his credit and if he has, what is it?

The present book, translated from his Urdu and Persian writings, is an attempt to such an approach. The major part of the thesis is to be found in his book, Barakat-ud Du'a, written with the object of resolving the doubts on the subject of his great compatriot, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of Aligarh [India], but some very forceful arguments have also been taken from another of his books, Ayyam-us Sulah, and a small part has been taken from his casual discourses, recorded in contemporary newspapers, published by his devoted disciples. There may be some other pieces bearing on the subject, but they have not yet come to my notice.

The subject discussed in these pages is evidently non-denominational in character and must be of an absorbing interest to all who believe in any religion.

It is a pity that, although the bulk of the saint's writings are of this universal nature, so far little attempt has been made to present these in a suitable manner to the generality of mankind for whose benefit they were written.

From my experience of the West, I am inclined to think that his arguments, both intellectual as well as those drawn from his personal experiences, will be more readily appreciated by the people there, than by those of our eastern continents. And the reason is not far to seek. Western people have outlived the age of pure reason and are now in an age of psychology and metaphysics wherein personal experiences play a very prominent part. Their acute scientific-mindedness has added to their interest for all evidence that is of a scientific nature, that is, evidence that can be pieced together to prove any thesis bearing on the actual life and activities of man. Seen from this point of view, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's personality is bound to prove of great importance to the future religion of the world, because he has innumerable evidence to give in all the various aspects of religion that fulfil the requirements of a scientific enquiry in these subjects. It is proposed to bring all such evidence to the attention of the English-speaking world, bit by bit. The present work is just the beginning of this effort.

Prayer, as distinguished from worship, may be regarded as the very essence of a real contact with the living God. True God is not a mere spectator of events. He is not a helpless observer of the cosmos with its myriad laws. He is a listening and a helping God, helping externally as well as internally. He has as much control over the material world and its laws, as He has over the soul of man and its destiny. This is the principal contention of the author, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Saint of Qadian, the only man of our times who can speak with the fullest authority on the subject of religion in all its fundamentals and details. Speaking right in the twentieth century (he died in 1908), he was fully conscious of the responsibility of a teacher of religion in this age, and yet he spoke with a challenge to a doubting world on the most intimate questions of religion, because he spoke on the basis of his personal experience. He knows what he is speaking about when he observes that if God cannot help us in our present life by the acceptance of our prayers, it is difficult for a believer to maintain the belief that He will help him in the life after death.

It is not difficult to understand that by his forceful advocacy of the cause of prayer in this age of scepticism, Hazrat Mirza has served the universal cause of religion. The whole world of religion, therefore, owes him a debt of gratitude on this score. Whether in respect of personal evidence or in respect of the superfine clarity of his intellectual analysis of the subject, his arguments possess a compelling force and will carry conviction to any open-minded thinker. His message in this respect is thus a great asset to the intellectual spiritual humanity and as such should be conveyed in an appropriate manner to all quarters of the civilised world.

As one who regained his ancestral faith after it was lost in the quagmire of Western scepticism with the help of the light provided by the writings of this most misunderstood and yet the greatest intellectual spiritual figure of our age, I consider it an honour and a privilege to be able to present to the English-speaking world just a small fraction of the great message of this great man of God, in our age of science and machine, economics and politics. May we be vouchsafed by Heaven the wherewithal to fulfil this great obligation of ours to the unborn generations of spiritual humanity.

At the end of this book, we append some historical prayers as recorded in the Quran. We reproduce them with the aim of showing that their fulfilment, forming as they do great landmarks of history, constitutes miracles and signs of the existence of God, which even the greatest disbeliever on earth cannot afford to deny. Their value as inspiration to us, ordinary men, is equally inestimable. We are also inserting for the benefit of the praying public some other model prayers from the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), to help in the articulation of their deeper longings.

Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad,

Ahmadiyya Buildings,
Lahore.

September 1949

Does God Hear Prayers?

Excerpt #1 [(Taken from Ayyamus Sulh, pp. 1 to 7)]:

Prayer in Action:

It has come to my knowledge that some people have found it difficult to reconcile my opinion suggesting a certain measure or remedy to combat the epidemic (bubonic plague -- translator) with my other view that this disease spreads on account of man's sins. So let it be known to all such persons that a study of the laws and the book of nature will yield a clear solution of such doubts. God's laws of nature, which are before us, are clear testimony to the fact that the system of effort and means and remedy is inextricably connected with that of asking and praying. In other words, in the course of finding some solution or remedy by means of thinking or some other method of searching, if we, ourselves, do not possess the ability of adopting the best method for the search or are not perfect in it, we appoint someone else, say a doctor, to do the thinking and pondering for us. This other man, by his careful thinking, tries to find an excellent way of, to carry the illustration further, giving us a cure. While he does so, he comes across some such process within the range of the law of nature as proves more or less beneficial to us. Now, the process which suggests itself to his mind is, in reality, the result of that mental exertion, contemplation, thinking and concentration, which, in our language, is called prayer. Because while thinking and contemplating, in the course of our search for a hidden matter, we, metaphorically speaking, plunge ourselves in a deep ocean and fling, as it were, our hands and feet, to keep our head above water, and this amounts, in fact, to asking help, by our very condition, from that High Power from Whom nothing is hidden.

State of Prayer:

In short, when our soul stretches its hand of petition with utmost enthusiasm and humility towards the source of all grace in its efforts to get a thing and when, finding itself devoid of resources, it seeks light, through thinking, from other quarters than its own self, the state of mind which ensues as a result, is, in fact, a state of prayer. It is through such prayers that all the sciences of the world have come into being. The sole key to all the houses of knowledge is prayer and there is no subtlety of knowledge and self-realisation which may have come into play without its instrumentality. Our thinking, our pondering, our directing our thoughts to finding the hidden matters -- all of these are included in the act of praying. The difference is that the prayers of men of spiritual knowledge are accompanied with the decorum of knowledge and their souls stretch their hands of petition towards the Source of all grace with the inner light based on knowledge; whereas the prayers of those still in the veil of ignorance are a mere undefined struggle of the kind which expresses itself in thinking and pondering and seeking of means. These people, who have no access to the knowledge of God nor have any sure faith in Him, desire, through that thinking and pondering, that some clue to the needed success may occur to their minds from the unknown. So it is that a person of spiritual knowledge, while praying for anything, expect his God to cause the door of success to open for him. But the man in the veil of ignorance, who has no attachment to God, does not recognise the Source of grace. Like the man of knowledge he also, in the course of his mental struggle, seeks help from a source outside and makes efforts to secure that help; with the difference that the man of knowledge sees that source whereas this one walks in darkness and is not aware that whatever comes to the mind as a result of his thinking and pondering, is also from God, Who accepting the thinking of the thinker as a kind of prayer, communicates the knowledge to his mind. And even though the seeker is not aware of it, God knows that the petition is meant for none but Himself. Thus, ultimately he gets his objective from God. As I have already said, if this process of seeking light is coupled with the knowledge of reality and accompanied by the recognition of the True Guide, it is a prayer as from a man of spirituality; but if it is seeking of light from an unknown source, just by mere thinking and pondering without any perfected vision of the True Enlightener, it is a prayer as from a man in ignorance.

Prayer and External Means:

It has been proved in this discussion that the first stage in the process of the appearance of means for anything is prayer, which the laws of nature have decreed as unavoidable and essential for every human being (in his efforts to attain his objectives). Everyone desirous of anything has to cross this bridge by the very urge of his nature. Thus, it is shameful that anyone should think that there is any conflict between prayer and the adoption of means. What is (after all), the object in praying? It is only that the Knower of the unseen, Who has the knowledge of the subtlest means (to objectives), may apprise the mind of some excellent means (to the attainment of its object), or create the same by virtue of His position as the Creator and the Almighty. Hence, there is no conflict between prayer and adoption of means.

Besides, if there is evidence of an indissoluble connection obtaining between prayer and the adoption of means in the laws of human nature, the book of nature, too, bears testimony to the same fact. It is found, for example, that the human mind, when in trouble if it is engaged, on the one hand, in seeking means of escape from and remedies for it, it feels an urge, on the other hand, for prayer and almsgiving and charity. If we observe the cases of all the nations of the world we shall find that until now no national conscience has been found to deviate from this universal principle. Thus, it is spiritual proof of the fact that the spiritual laws of man also have been giving the selfsame counsel to all the nations of the world from the beginning of history, that is, that prayer should not be severed from the adoption of means; rather, that the means should be sought through prayers. In brief, prayer and efforts are two natural urges of the human mind that have been serving human nature like twin brothers since the beginning of human history. Efforts or adoption of worldly means is to prayer what the effect is to the cause and prayer precedes efforts in as much as it sets the latter in motion or rather draws them. Man's good luck lies in the seeking of help from the Source of all grace before launching any effort, so that with the help of God's eternal light he may get hold of the very best means towards the attainment of his objective.

Prayer and Pre-ordination:

In these days, a group of people is found who hold that prayer is of no consequence and that events preordained appear in their due course. It is a pity that these people do not know that despite the truth of the theory of pre-ordination, in the laws of nature created by God certain things have been appointed as means to the removal of certain troubles. For instance, water is a natural means to the quenching of thirst and bread to the appeasing of hunger. In face of such facts, why should one be surprised to be told that prayer is also a means to the fulfilment of our needs under the laws of nature made by God -- a means in which a power has been reposed by the Mighty Hand of Truth to draw the grace of God?

The experiences of thousands of servants and righteous persons bear testimony to the fact that in prayer there is really a power of absorption. Added to this I have my own experiences in this matter recorded in my books and there can be no greater proof than experience. Although it is true that everything has been pre-ordained, nevertheless, just as it is pre-ordained that so and so will be taken ill and will recover on his using such and such medicine, similarly, it is pre-ordained that if such and such an afflicted person will pray, materials for his deliverance will be provided as a result of his prayer. And experiences show that whenever, by the grace of God, prayer happens to appear with all its requisites, the object prayed for is sure to materialise. The Quranic verse, Call on Me, I will accept your prayer, points to this truth. This amounts to saying, "You go on praying to Me, I will accept your prayers in due course." It is strange that while people, in spite of their faith in the doctrine of pre-ordination, have recourse to doctors in cases of illness, they do not have the same attitude towards prayer (as a measure to the fulfilment of destiny) as towards medicine.

Avertible Decree:

Another objection raised in this connection is that no pre-ordination can be tentative (avertible) and that no revelational prophecy, which is conditional, can be in consonance with God's policy. Let me clear the position by saying that this objection is as deceptive as the previous one. The mind of man is always so inclined that if he is warned beforehand against some calamity due to befall at an appointed time, he wants to avert it through prayer and charity. This shows that the spiritual law of God has it inscribed on the book of nature and given it as judgement that calamities are avertible through prayers and charity. This is why all the nations of the world are naturally so inclined that in times of the befalling of calamities or the threat thereof, all possible emphasis is placed on prayer. When the passengers of a boat see the indications of its sinking, their extremely humble supplications and cry are a striking sight. All those prophecies of warning mentioned in the Quran that are scattered over an extensive period of religious history from Prophet Noah to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, are of a conditional nature.

The announcement of these prophecies amounts to saying that such and such a punishment is to overtake you; if, however, you repent and do good deeds, it will be withheld, or else you will be crushed. The Holy Quran abounds in such prophecies. It is surprising, therefore, that some people claiming to be Muslims should raise objections clearly in conflict with the Quranic teachings. The reason, undoubtedly, is that, in this age, a large number of people, engrossed day and night in worldly pursuits, have become absolute strangers to the teachings of Islam.

Ponder over the following verses of the Quran:

Surely he who keeps his duty and is patient -- Allah never wastes the reward of the doers of good (The Holy Quran, 12:90).

In other words, whoever will exercise patience and fear God, God will not allow that person's reward to be wasted.

It is a general prophecy which is conditioned upon piety and patience. In another prophecy, after referring to chastisement it is stated at the end:

Why should Allah chastise you if you are grateful and believe? (The Holy Quran, 4:147).

That is, what purpose will it serve God to chastise you if you become grateful and believing? In this prophecy it is meant to convey that the chastisement to come will be averted by gratefulness and faith.

Similarly in another place He says:

Then as to those who disbelieve, I shall chastise them with severe chastisement in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.

And as to those who believe and do good deeds, He will pay them fully their rewards. And Allah loves not the unjust (The Holy Quran, 3:56-57).

That is, I will inflict severe chastisement on the unbelievers both in this life and in the life hereafter, but I will give full recompense to those who believe and do good deeds. Observe how here, also, it is stated that, provided there is faith, chastisement can be averted.

In still another place He says:

But if they give thee the lie, then say: Your Lord is the Lord of all-encompassing mercy; and His punishment cannot be averted from the guilty people (The Holy Quran, 6:147).

That is, if these people are bent upon rejecting the truth, tell them that if they accept, they will be given a share in the extensive mercy of God, but if they do not refrain from rejecting, they should remember His chastisement is not such as can be avoided by any device. This warning is also conditional. Thus, here and there all over the Quran, in the course of the stories of the Prophets, there are conditional prophecies. The rejection of them is tantamount to the rejection of the Quran itself. What is more, it will appear from the story of Prophet Jonah that the prophecies of chastisement, even if they are not accompanied by any condition, can be averted by mere repentance and the asking of forgiveness, because it has been an attribute of God to postpone the fulfilment of punishment-prophecies by accepting the repentance of the penitent.

Always Room for Prayer:

Let it also be remembered that what I wrote in my previous manifesto with regard to a pleasure calculated to act as a prevention against the attack of bubonic plague did not mean that it was an assured and guaranteed remedy and was of such an abiding and satisfactory nature as to obviate all necessity for prayer. On the contrary, my purpose in making the announcement was only to indicate that it was highly probable that it would be effective. I know it for certain that there is no remedy in the possession of the doctors and physicians with regard to a certain disease, concerning which it can be claimed that it must, of necessity, afford cure in all kinds of constitutions by fighting the decrees of fate to the finish. On the contrary, I am of the firm opinion that as yet no such remedy has been available to the physicians as will unfailingly benefit every person irrespective of his or her temperament and age and country and that it will never be amiss.

Excerpt #2 [Taken from Barakat-ud Du'a, pp. 9 to 31]:

Acceptance and Power of Prayer:

Let it be known that the question of the acceptance of prayer is only one aspect of the whole question of prayer; and it is an established rule that one who has not understood the principal question must feel confounded in understanding any particular aspect of it. The reality of prayer is this. There is a relation of reciprocity between a fortunate servant of God and his Master. In other words, the beneficence of God, the Exalted, draws His humble servant towards Himself and then the sincere efforts of the servant makes God nearer to him and at the time of prayer this relationship, attaining a certain pitch, creates striking features for itself. Thus when the servant, involved in some great calamity, inclines towards God with perfect certainty and perfect hope and perfect love and perfect faithfulness and perfect courage and established in a state of utmost wakefulness and, tearing asunder the screen of indifference and lassitude, marches steadily forward in the fields of self annihilation, lo and behold, he sees before himself the very presence of God in His absolute unity. Then his soul places its head on that august threshold while the power of absorption which is reposed in him draws towards itself the enormous favours of God. Then it is that God of exalted glory turns His attention towards the execution of the task prayed for and makes the effect of the servant's prayer move the initial causes that are to produce circumstances necessary for the object prayed for. For instance, if the prayer is for rain, and the prayer for it is granted, natural conditions necessary for rain, are brought into being by the effect of such prayer; and if it is a curse for famine, the Almighty brings into being circumstances that are contrary to rainfall. It is for this reason that people of vision and perfection have verified the truth of the fact by great experiments that the prayer of a perfected man produces for itself a power of creation. In other words, with the permission of God his prayer controls and manipulates the physical as well as the spiritual worlds so much so that the elements of nature, the planets of the heaven and even the hearts of people, are made to converge on the point that helps the materialisation of the object in view. There is no paucity of instances to this phenomenon in the Holy Scriptures of God. As a matter of fact, certain types of miracles are in reality the effect of prayer. The thousands of miracles that have appeared at the hands of prophets or all those wonderful signs which have been shown by the saints of Islam until now have their source in such prayers. It is mostly as a result of prayers that various supernatural events exhibit the grandeur and glory of the Almighty. To take just one instance, that strange event which took place in the desert land of Arabia by which millions of people who were (morally) dead were resuscitated in a very short time and people who had remained corrupted for generations became imbued with Divine attributes and the (spiritually) blind regained their power of vision and people lacking in expression became eloquent in respect of the knowledge of God and a revolution took place in the world in such a sudden manner that the like of it had never been seen before and no ear had heard. What was it after all? It was nothing but the silent prayers in the darkness of night of a lonely man who had annihilated himself in God that created this huge tumult in the world and produced those strange phenomena which seem almost impossible to have been effected by that unlettered, helpless person. (O God! Grant him success and keep him in peace and bless him and his followers to the extent of his anxiety and sorrow and grief for this religious community and send on him the light of Thy mercy till eternity.) It is my experience that the effects of prayer are more evident than the effects of even water and fire. Nay, there is nothing in the whole range of natural causes which is so effective as prayer.

Prayer and Worship -- Two Separate Things:

It is evident that if every prayer were an act of worship there would have been no occasion for God to reprimand Prophet Noah with the words laa tus-uln (don't ask / ask not). On certain occasions the prophets and the saints have regarded it as unmannerly to ask for a certain thing in the course of prayer. Men of piety have acted on the verdict of the heart in the case of such prayers. That is to say, if at the time of calamity the heart counsels recourse to prayer, they take to prayer; but if on the other hand, the heart counsels patience, then they adopt patience and refrain from praying. Besides this, God has not promised acceptance in the case of these other prayers. Rather, He has clearly stated that He either accepts such prayers or rejects them as is evident from the verse of the Quran: Nay, Him you call upon, so He removes that for which you pray, if He pleases (6:41).

And if for the sake of argument we admit that the word ud-'uoo in 40:60 is taken to mean all prayers in general, even then we cannot but take it to mean only that particular kind of prayer which fulfils all the conditions of acceptance. And it is beyond the powers of man to control and manipulate all these conditions unless he is enabled to do so by the Almighty God.

Conditions of Acceptance:

You should also remember that humility is not all that is needed in this connection. Besides humility, there should be piety and purity of character and truthfulness and perfect faith and perfect love and complete concentration. It is also necessary that in the case of acceptance, the prayer does not go against the holy purpose of God in relation to the person who addresses the prayer in his own interest or in that of one on whose behalf such prayer is made, whether it be in respect of this worldly life or the life hereafter. This necessity arises out of the fact that often while the prayer is accompanied by the fulfilment of all other conditions, yet the thing asked for happens to be against the Holy Will of God in respect of the petitioner, in the knowledge of God, and the realisation of it is not to bring any good. For instance, if the beloved child of a mother cries and insists on having a piece of glowing ember or a snake in his hand or drinking a quantity of poison which is lovely to look at, it is evident that the mother will not fulfil such a desire of the child. And if by some unfortunate chance the mother complies with the wishes of the child and by some stroke of sheer luck the child is somehow saved from death with some organ of his body rendered useless thereby, the child on attaining maturity will curse his foolish mother for this incident.

There are other conditions besides, on the coming together of which alone a prayer can be regarded as such in the real sense of the term. For instance, unless a prayer is saturated through and through with spirituality, and unless there is a close relationship between the faculties of the person who prays and that of the person on whose behalf such a prayer is made, it will be futile to hope for any effect of such prayer. So long as the will of God in respect of the acceptance of prayer does not come into operation, all these provisions for it do not come together so much so that even the energy for the fullest concentration in this matter is found lacking.

Prayer should Affect both Lives:

It is an accepted proposition that the privileges and blessings and the enjoyments and comforts of the life hereafter which are connoted by the word "salvation" are the results of faith and the prayer arising out of it. When this is admitted one is bound to admit also that the prayer of a man of faith has the power of influencing the affairs of existence, and are likely to be the cause of the averting of calamities and achievement of objects. Because if they cannot be so, how can they be the cause of these expected phenomena on the Day of Resurrection? Ponder and ponder well! If in reality prayer is of no effect and cannot be the cause of the removal of any trouble in the life of this world, how will it be possible for it to be such a cause on the Day of Resurrection? It is a clear proposition that if our prayers are effective in any way, they must produce their effect even in this world, in order that it may strengthen one's faith and hope and may enable one to pray with greater fervour for salvation in the life to come; but on the contrary, if prayer is nothing but a fantasy and what is destined is bound to come with or without it, and if it is of no use in averting the calamities of worldly life, it must prove equally useless in the life after death and it will be absolutely vain to expect any good to come out of it in that life.

Saint of Baghdad's Evidence:

As a matter of fact, prayer is one of those natural causes which have been verified on experiment by thousands of prophets and millions of saints. The divinely appointed qutub and ghaus, Sayyid Abdul Qadir Gilani, may God be pleased with him, has written something on this subject of the attention of men of perfection and the effect of prayer on the basis of his own experience in his book, Futuh-ul-Ghaib. I reproduce below the statements concerned for the benefit of people in general. My reason for quoting this saint is that for every branch of knowledge the evidence of that person is regarded as authoritative who is an expert in it. Thus, the philosophy of the acceptance of prayer can be truly known by him who has really some close connection of faithfulness and love with God because the facts about God are known only to the men of God. The text referred to runs as follows:

"If you want to be the favourite of God, you should believe with perfect certainty and consider that your hands and your feet and your eyes, in other words, your whole being, and all the organs of your body and faculties of mind are idols in your way and that all the other things of creation are similarly idols in your way. Your children and your wife and your every object of the world and worldly wealth and honour and fame and hopes of the world and its fears and your depending on this man and that, your apprehending harm from this man and that, they are all idols in your way. So, you should not obey any of these idols and should not be lost completely in following them. I mean you should, of course, pay regard to these only to the extent of their appointed rights in the Shari'ah [Islamic law] and the practice of the virtuous servants of God.

So, if you do as I say you will become the philosopher's stone and your position will be very high so much so that you will not be visible and God will make you the successor of His prophets and messengers. In other words, you will be given afresh all that worldly and spiritual knowledge and all those blessings which had previously been hidden and concealed. Wilayat or saintliness will become finished in you, that is to say, there will be no saint greater than you after you, and your prayers and your determination and your blessed attention will be instrumental in removing ponderous sorrows of people and in bringing rains to lands and people stricken with famine and in causing the harvest to grow. The calamities and hardships of the high and the low and even the difficulties of kings will be removed through your attention and prayer. The hand of Providence will accompany you, and to whichever direction it turns, you also will turn, and the tongue of eternity will call you towards itself. That is, whatever will come out of your tongue will be an expression of God Himself and this will be attended with blessings. You will represent all those men of truth who had been given knowledge before you. The course of creation will be referred to you, that is, your prayer and your attention will influence the course of events of the world and control it. Then, if you want to make a non-existent thing existent or an existent thing non-existent it will be done accordingly. Supernatural events will make their appearance through you and you will be gifted with the secrets and knowledge coming from God and a wonderful illumination which you will be considered a safe repository for and worthy of. As a matter of fact, what had the prophets in their hands except their prayer?"

God's Absolute Power:

Some people in their inferences go to the extreme and do not attach any importance to destiny because they give everything created an independent existence as if, after its creation, it has gone out of the control of God, Who is regarded as having no power over it and as if His Godhead has become confined to a very limited sphere and as if His control, as the All-powerful Being, has been left behind and does not go forward in the future, and that the condition that obtains in things of the world is not pre-destined but is rather an independent individual state of things created and permits no change because destiny invariably implies the power of the Creator over the thing destined. It is evident, therefore, that the circumstances over which God has no power left cannot be called the destiny of a certain thing. On the other hand, if there is any control left over destiny, then there must be the possibility of change in it.

An Objection:

If it is objected that with the acceptance of the proposition that God has endless power of unlimited changes over things then chaos will prevail, in regard to the reality of things, for example, if we regard God as having power of changing the characteristics of water into those of air or of changing the characteristics of air into those of fire or of suspending the peculiarities of fire and by means of hidden causes, of which He alone has knowledge, He produces in it the characteristics of water or by the operation of subtle powers in the bowels of the earth He changes a clod of earth into a lump of gold or vice versa, if He starts exercising His powers in this way, chaos is bound to prevail in the relationship of things and the whole system of sciences and arts will come to an end in no time.

Reply:

If such be the objection, any reply will be that such a view of things is absolutely wrong, because we find in actual experience that God, by the exercise of His hidden wisdom, keeps on transforming the elements of nature and similar other things in hundreds of ways. Let us consider the case of the earth itself -- what a variety of things it keeps on producing through transformation. From underneath its surface, we bring out various kinds of acids and poisons side by side with gold and silver and various kinds of precious stones. Similarly, the vapours that rise from the earth change into all sorts of things in the firmament. These very gases sometimes take the form of snow, sometimes we find it in the form of hailstones, sometimes it manifests itself in lightning, etc. Should we say on the basis of this that man's knowledge about things becomes null and void, thereby ending in resultant chaos and disorder? And if it were said that God has from the beginning reposed in these things the possibility of such transformations, my reply will be that I have never said that the things under discussion do not possess in themselves the possibility of mutual transformation. The correct and true religious point of view accordingly is that God, Who is One in His person, has created things as a unit so that they may point to the unity of the Creator. Therefore, God, because of His oneness and also actuated by His Own unlimited powers, has reposed this capability of transformation in them and with the sole exception of those souls who, on account of their own fortune or misfortune, have deserved coming under the operation of the Divine decree, They shall abide therein forever (The Holy Quran, 72:23), and for whom the promise of God has appointed an unchangeable form for all times, there does not appear anything in the creation which is free from the operation the law of transformation.

Law of Change:

If we give some serious thought to the question, we shall find that each human body is undergoing transformation every moment. So much so that physiological researches have established the fact that a human body undergoes a complete transformation every three years and that the previous body, reduced to atoms, vanishes altogether. For example, if it is the element of water or of fire, even these are not free from transformation, the law of which operates on these in two ways. First, some particles go out of a particular body and some new ones enter it. Secondly, the particles that go out take a second birth according to their capacity. In brief, it is a practice of God to keep this perishable world mounted on the wheel of transformation. And from an analytical point of view we will perceive that all these things, because of their origin in one and the same Gracious Source, are the same in their essence although it is impossible for man to become a prefect alchemist of these things. And he cannot be so, since the All-wise God has not given powers to anybody else to comprehend His interminable secrets of wisdom. If you say, "Where are transformations in the planets of the heaven?" my reply will be, "Undoubtedly there is the law of transformation and disintegration even in them however much unaware we may be of this fact. Had it not been so, how is it that they will meet with decay at some time in the future?" Besides, when we take into consideration the transformations obtaining in the thousands of things in existence, it becomes an established fact that nothing is free from the law of transformation. So, you have first to deny the working of the law of transformation in the earth before you are in a position to raise the question of transformation in the heavenly bodies.

In short, when we observe the manifold types of transformations in our everyday experience and it seems to be a necessary consequence of the Oneness of the person of the Creator that the source and origin of all these things should be one and the same. Besides, the perfect divinity of God can remain established only when He is in possession of the fullest control over every atom. If it is so, why this recalcitrance and this protest that recognition of the law of transformation will create chaos in the realm of knowledge, and all knowledge will thus become unsettled? Needless to say, such an attitude is based on a great misunderstanding. When I say that God has power to use water to serve as fire and vice versa, I do not mean that He will not bring His unlimited wisdom to bear upon such a phenomenon and do such things in an arbitrary manner because no act of God is devoid of wisdom nor should it be so. On the contrary, what I mean is that when He, the Almighty, uses water to act as fire and fire to act as water, He is sure to use His wisdom which holds sway over every atom of this universe whether we are able to understand it or not. It is evident that anything which is done on the lines of wisdom does not spoil the process of knowledge. On the contrary, it helps the progress of knowledge. We see from experience how man artificially creates ice out of water, or light out of electricity and yet we cannot say that such handing of things disturbs the system of thinking and induction, or spoils the system of knowledge.

Miracles and Signs:

While on this point it is worthwhile to bear in mind a deep truth and it is this. The supernatural events of this type which take place at the hands of saints such as that they cannot be drowned even when under water or can remain immune from the harms of fire even when they are put into it, it is the same secret law which is in operation there, that is, man can never have the fullest comprehension of the endless and subtle purpose of the All-wise God. When His friends and those who enjoy spiritual proximity to Him focus their attention on a certain matter, He sometimes manifests His mysterious power by making this attention influence the world of matter and the laws working therein and this attention and the accompanying prayer bring together all those hidden causes which can produce the desired effect however extraordinary such an effect may appear. For example, fire may cease to exhibit its property of heat. It is immaterial whether the causes that bring about such extraordinary events may have their origin in the planets of the heaven or may spring out of some unknown characteristic of the fire itself or it may be produced by some unascertained law of the human body or it may be the effect of a combination of all these factors. When such a thing comes about it takes the appearance of what is called a supernatural phenomenon. But such happenings do not unsettle the realities of things nor do they discredit the system of human knowledge. On the contrary, this is also a branch of knowledge among the various branches of knowledge coming from God and it has its own position and function just as the natural qualities reposed in the various things of the world of matter, such as the burning quality of fire, have their own respective functions. As a matter of fact, one may very well say that the spiritual factors prevailing upon fire manifest their own overpowering effects and that they have their own time and occasion for such manifestation. This abstruse fact is unintelligible to the understanding of the worldly man, that is, that a perfected man becomes the manifesting point of the spirit of God. Whenever such a man reaches a point of time which is the proper moment for the manifestation of Divine Glory on him, everything of the Universe begins to fear him just as it fears God Himself. At such moments, if he is thrown before a beast of prey or in the midst of a burning fire, he will remain absolutely unharmed because at such moments the spirit of God covers him and everything in the universe is pledged to fear him. This is the last secret of the knowledge of God which one cannot understand unless one enjoys the close association of perfected men. Because it is an extremely delicate question and is of extremely rare happening, every understanding is not aware of this philosophy. One thing, however, should be borne in mind and it is that everything responds to the call of God and He has control over everything and all the reins of everything are in His hands. His wisdom is unfathomable and reaches the roots of everything and everything has as many properties and qualities as are His powers. One who does not believe in this belongs to the class described by the words, And they honour not Allah with the honour due to Him (The Holy Quran, 6:91). Because man is a perfect manifestation of the whole universe, it is but natural that the universe itself should from time to time be drawn towards him. Such a man may be regarded as a spider and the whole universe his web, and this is the secret of the supernatural events that appear at his hands.

God's Unlimited Control:

God's Godhead is inextricably connected with His perfect powers and the word "power" is applicable to His unlimited control over His creation from moment to moment. It is undoubtedly a fact that as He is the Creator of all things in the creation just as His person is limitless, He must have left room in them for unlimited control and manipulation so that at no stage His Godhead may come to a suspension and if, God forbid, the assertion of the Hindus proves correct, that the Great God is not the Creator of the souls and the atoms, such a weak God will undoubtedly come to a standstill after a limited rule and He will be badly exposed in the midst of infamy. But our God, Who possesses absolute power, is not like this. He is the Creator of all the atoms of the world and of the souls and all things in the creation. If one inquires about the range of His power, the reply would be that He can do everything except those particular things which run counter to His attributes of perfection and true promises. The assertion that He does not want to do certain things although He has power to do them is an absurd allegation since among His attributes is the one described in the words, Every moment He is in a new state of glory (The Holy Quran, 55:29). If it is a fact that the withholding of the quality of coolness from water and that of burning from fire does not clash with His attributes of perfection and true promises, why should it be asserted, dogmatically, that it has become incumbent on Him that He should never effect any changes in the characteristics of these things? What is the proof for such a necessity and what can be the reason for it and what is the necessity of this needless incumbency imposed upon God which stains His Godhead?

As a matter of fact, the benefit of the existence of God lies in the fact that He should listen to our prayers and intimate to us the fact of His existence, not that we should establish, with thousands of painful efforts, an imaginary God in our hearts like an idol whose voice we cannot hear and whose manifest glory we cannot see. Know it for certain that the God of power does in fact exist and that He has absolute power over everything.

Excerpt #3 [Taken from a sermon on the afternoon of 30th December 1897. Appears in Malfoozat, Vol. 1, pp. 106 to 109 (old edition), pp. 66 to 68 (new edition)]:

I have great hopes reposed in the acceptance of prayer. Nay, my Lord has given me a clear promise, "o-jee-bo kul-la dua-ik" -- I will accept every prayer of yours! But I know it well that if the acceptance of a certain prayer is calculated to bring harm to the man who prays and God wants his moral and spiritual training, His rejection of the prayer is in reality a kind of acceptance. Sometimes a certain prayer of a man remains unfulfilled and he thinks that his prayer has been rejected, whereas the fact is that God grants his prayer and it takes the form of its apparent rejection, wherein consists his good and welfare. Because man is short-sighted and dim-visioned and is so often deceived by outside appearance, it beseems him that when he addresses any prayer to God and apparently it does not produce any result he should retain good faith in the dispensation of God and not complain that his prayer has been rejected. The fact is that God listens to every prayer of His servants, as He says, Call on Me, I will accept your prayer (The Holy Quran, 40:60). The secret of such apparent rejection is that the good and welfare of the petitioner lies along this line. The law of prayer is that God is not under the behest of our desires. Consider how dear a child is to his mother and how anxious she is to see him safe from all troubles. But if the child foolishly cries for and insists on having a sharp knife or flaming piece of fire in its hand, will the mother, with all her real love and tenderness for the child, allow him to burn his hand with an ember or to cut his hand by pressing it against the sharp edge of a knife? It is evident she will not. One can understand the law of the acceptance of prayer from the law working here. I know from personal experience in this matter that when any aspect in a particular prayer happens to be harmful, the prayer is not granted. It is easy to understand that our knowledge of things is neither sure nor correct.

There are many things which we undertake gladly under the impression that they are auspicious and in the hope that their results will be very happy, but, in fact, they prove to be a source of sorrow and calamity to us. What I mean is that the desires of man cannot be sure that everything that they pursue is correct. Since man is partly composed of mistakes and forgetfulness, it is but natural that some of his desires will be wrong, and so if God grants the fulfilment even of those it will be contrary to His dignity as Lord of mercy. It is a fact of utmost certainty that God listens to the prayers of His servants and accepts them but not every one of these, good, bad or indifferent. This is because, in the heat of his desires, man does not consider nor can he see the ultimate result of a prayer in which he insists. But, God, Who is the real Well-wisher of man and can see the ultimate results of things desired, sees the harms and ill-effects of the prayer so addressed, in the event of its being granted, and rejects the prayer as it is and this rejection itself is, in fact, its acceptance. Whereas such prayers as keep man safe from calamities and shocks are granted as they are, on the other hand, harmful prayers are accepted in the form of their rejection. It has been repeatedly revealed to me: "o-jee-bo kul-la dua-ik" -- I will accept every prayer of yours. In other words, all such prayers will be accepted as are beneficial in themselves. When this idea occurs to my mind, I enjoy my prayer and am filled with happiness. When I first received this revelation, some twenty-five or thirty years ago, I was extremely happy to know that God would certainly accept my prayers that concerned my friends and myself. Then the thought came to me that I should not be miserly in this respect, because it was a favour of God. God has spoken of the pious that, They spend out of what We have given them (The Holy Quran, 2:3). So I have made it a principle in respect of my friends that whether they remind me or not, whether they intimate to me any distressing event or not, I go on praying for their temporal and spiritual welfare. But it should also be carefully borne in mind that there are certain conditions for the acceptance of prayer; some of these concern the person who prays and some about him whom the prayer is made. As for the latter, he should always entertain the fear of God in his heart, should always be afraid of His general absolute independence of His personal self, should make peace and God-consciousness a feature of his life and should please God by his piety and rectitude of conduct. If he behaves like this, the door of acceptance is opened for his prayers, but if he displeases God and institutes conflict and war with Him, his wickedness and wrongdoings become an obstacle in the way of the acceptance of prayers and the door of acceptance is banged against him. So my friends should strive to save my prayers from being wasted and should not place any obstacle in the way of their acceptance, obstacles that may come into being as a result of their improper actions. They should therefore adopt the path of virtue, because this is what can be regarded as the essence of the Shari'ah [Religion]. And if one wants to describe the Shari'ah in brief, one should consider the path to it to be piety. No doubt, there are many grades in the realisation of piety, but if one as a true seeker passes the initial stages with perseverance and sincerity, one can attain the higher stages on account of his rectitude of conduct and earnestness. God says: Surely God accepts from the pious (The Holy Quran, 5:27). So He accepts the prayer of the man of piety, that is His promise, and there can be no breach in His promise. He says: Surely God does not break His promise (The Holy Quran, 13:31). Then when piety is an indispensable condition for the acceptance of prayers, will it not be simply foolish on the part of a man to expect the acceptance of prayer while he is morally indolent and transgressing? So it is incumbent on each member of my Jama'at [Movement] to stick to the path of piety to the best of his ability so that he may partake of the pleasure of the acceptance of prayer and thereby experience an increase in his faith.

Appendix:

Quranic Prayers:

Below are given some of the prayers which are met with in the Holy Quran. They serve a general purpose as well as the purpose of recitation in prayers after the Fatihah (Opening prayer).

  • Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter and save us from the chastisement of the fire (2:201). (Prayer taught to the Muslims.)
  • Our Lord! pour down upon us patience, and make our steps firm and assist us against the unbelieving people (2:250). (Prayer of Saul in the field of battle.)
  • Our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us; our Lord! do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us. Thou art our Patron; so help us against the unbelieving people (2:286). (Prayer taught to the Muslims.)
  • Our Lord, make not our hearts to deviate after Thou hast guided us and grant us mercy from Thee; surely Thou art the most liberal Giver (3:8). (Prayer taught to the Muslims.)
  • Our Lord, grant us protection from our sins and our extravagance in our affair, and make firm our feet and grant us victory over the disbelieving people (3:147).
  • Our Lord, surely we have heard a Crier calling to the faith, saying: Believe in your Lord. So we did believe. Our Lord, grant us protection from our sins and remove our evils and make us die with the righteous. Our Lord, grant us what Thou hast promised us by Thy messengers and disgrace us not on the day of Resurrection. Surely Thou never failest in (Thy) promise (3:193-194).
  • Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and grant us from Thee a helper! (4:75). (Prayer of Muslims besieged in Makkah.)
  • Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves; and if Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers (7:23).
  • Our Lord, decide between us and our people with truth; and Thou art the Best of Deciders (7:89). (Prayer of the people of Shuaib.)
  • Our Lord, make us not a trial far the unjust people. And deliver us by Thy mercy from the disbelieving people (10:85, 86). (Prayer of the Jews under Pharaoh.)
  • Originator of the heavens and the earth, Thou art my Friend in this world and the Hereafter. Make me die in submission and join me with the righteous (12:101). (Prayer of Joseph.)
  • My Lord, make me enter a truthful entering, and make me go forth a truthful going forth, and grant me from Thy presence an authority to help me (17:80).
  • Our Lord, grant us mercy from Thyself, and provide for us a right course in our affair (18:10). (Prayer of some persecuted Christian youths in the early days.)
  • My Lord, expand my breast for me: and make my affair easy for me: and loose the knot from my tongue, (that) they may understand my word (20:25-28). (Prayer of Moses.)
  • Distress has afflicted me! and Thou art the most Merciful of all those who show mercy (21:83). (Prayer of Job.)
  • There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee! Surely I am of the sufferers of loss (21:87). (Prayer of Jonah.)
  • My Lord! leave me not alone! and Thou art the Best of inheritors (21:89). (Prayer of Zacharias.)
  • Our Lord, we believe, so forgive us and have mercy on us, and Thou art the Best of those who show mercy (23:109).
  • Our Lord, grant us in our wives and our offspring the joy of our eyes, and make us leaders for those who guard against evil (25:74).
  • My Lord, grant me that I may give thanks for Thy favour, which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good which pleases Thee; and be good to me in respect of my offspring. Truly I turn to Thee, and truly I am of those who submit (46:15).
  • My Lord I surely I stand in need of whatever good Thou mayest send to me (28:24). (Prayer of Moses in Median.)
  • Our Lord, Thou embracest all things in mercy and knowledge, so protect those who turn to Thee and follow Thy way, and save them from the chastisement of hell (40:7).
  • Our Lord, make them enter the Gardens of perpetuity, which Thou hast promised them and such of their fathers and their wives and their offspring as are good. Surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise (40:8).
  • I am overcome, so do Thou help (54:10). (Prayer of Noah.)
  • Our Lord, forgive us and our brethren who had precedence of us in faith, and leave no spite in our hearts towards those who believe. Our Lord, surely Thou art Kind, Merciful (59:10).
  • Our Lord, on Thee do we rely, and to Thee do we turn, and to Thee is the eventual coming. Our Lord, make us not a trial for those who disbelieve, and forgive us, our Lord. Surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise (60:4-5). (Prayer of Abraham and his followers.)

Hadith Prayers:

On Going to Bed:

O Allah ! I give my soul into Thy charge and I turn my face to Thee and I entrust my affair into Thy hands and I seek refuge for my back in the Thee, making my humble petition to Thee and fearing Thee; there is no refuge and no deliverance but in Thee; I believe in Thy Book which Thou hast revealed and Thy Prophet whom Thou hast sent.

On Arising from Sleep:

All praise is due to Allah Who raised us to life after He had caused us to die and to Him is the rising (after death). There is no god but Allah; He is one, there is no associate with Him; His is the kingdom and for Him is praise, and He is powerful over all things.

On going forth from the House:

In the name of Allah, on Allah do I rely. O Allah! we seek Thy refuge lest we stumble or go astray or we do injustice to others or injustice is done to us or we behave ignorantly towards others or others behave ignorantly towards us.

On Entering the House:

O Allah! I beseech Thee that I may be made to enter a goodly entering and to go forth a goodly going forth; in the name of Allah do we enter, and on Allah, our Lord, do we rely.

Before Meals or Drink:

In the name of Allah and with blessings from Allah.

After Meals:

All praise is due to Allah Who has fully satisfied our hunger and our thirst and Who has granted us His favours and given us abundantly.

All praise is due to Him Who gave us to eat and to drink and He has made us Muslims.

On going to the Closet:

O Allah! I seek Thy protection from what is impure and unclean (or, from unrighteous conduct and evil qualities).

On coming out from the Closet:

All praise is due to Allah Who has removed impurity from me and granted me security.

On Entering a City:

O Allah! We ask of Thee the good of its residents, and we seek refuge in Thee from its mischief and the mischief of its residents and the mischief of what is in it.

O Allah! Make its residents love the righteous from among its residents.

On Visiting a Sick Man:

Take away the sickness, O Lord, of all people, and restore to health. Thou art the Healer; there is no healing but the healing which Thou givest; grant recovery which leaves no ailment behind.

On Visiting a Graveyard:

Peace be on you, O dwellers of the abode from among the believers and the Muslims, and we will meet you, if it please Allah. We pray to Allah for security for ourselves and for you. Peace be on you, dwellers of the graves! May Allah grant you and us protection. You are those who have gone before us and we are following you.

On going out on a Journey:

O Allah! We ask of Thee during this our journey righteousness and faithfulness to duty and the doing of deeds with which Thou art pleased.

O Allah! Make this our journey easy to us and contract its distance for us.

O Allah! Thou art the Companion in the journey and the Guardian of the family.

When Riding or Driving:

Glory be to Him Who made this subservient to us and we were not able to do it; and surely to our Lord we must return.

On entering a Boat:

In the name of Allah be its sailing and its anchoring; surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.

When one is in Distress:

O Allah! Do Thou protect us in our shame and take away from us our fright.

O Allah! I do hope for Thy mercy, so do not leave me to myself for the twinkling of an eye.

O Thou Who art Ever-living and Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist, I do cry for Thy mercy.

Before a Looking-glass:

O Allah! As Thou hast made me well in appearance, so do Thou make me good in morals.

When First Fruit is Tasted:

O Allah! Bless us in regard of our fruits and bless us in regard to our town; O Allah! As Thou hast made us taste the first of it, make us taste the last of it.

After Bath or Ablution:

O Allah! Make me of those who turn to Thee and make me of those who purify themselves.

When Facing the Enemy:

Allah! We beseech help in opposing them and seek Thy refuge from their mischief.

Istikhara or Prayer to be Guided Aright when Undertaking an Affair:

O Allah! I beseech of Thee good by Thy knowledge and ask of Thee power out of Thy power and beg of Thee of Thy great grace, for Thou hast power and I have not the power, and Thou knowest and I do not know and Thou art the Great Knower of the secrets. O Allah! If Thou knowest that this affair is good for me with respect to my faith and the means of my sustenance and in the end, grant me access to it and make it easy to me then bless me in it; and if Thou knowest that this affair is evil for me with respect to my faith and the means of my sustenance and in the end, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it, and make accessible to me good wherever it is, then grant me satisfaction in it.

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Books Section > Does God Hear Man's Prayers? by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib of Qadian [Compiled and Translated by Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Sahib; Based on Hazrat Mirza Sahib's Books (Barakaat-ud-Dua and Ayyam-us-Salah) and Discourses/Sermons]

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