Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Prayer for an absent friend|
|01/19/02 at 03:53:05|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Prayer for an absent friend
by Adil Salahi[/center]
The Prophet has taught us to pray God for all our needs, whether they relate to this world or to the hereafter. From his practice and guidance we have learnt that supplication could be made at any time and in all situations. While it is often the case that we pray God to forgive us our slips and sins, bestow His mercy on us and admit us into heaven in the hereafter, we are also reassured when we pray Him to help us accomplish our purposes in this life. We know that His help is the key to success in every situation. It is also natural to devote most of our supplication to our own needs and our own forgiveness. But what about prayer on behalf of others?
It is normal practice that when two Muslims are about to go separate ways, after they have been together for sometime, that one of them requests the other to pray for him. This is also the case if the parting will be for sometime, as when one of them is about to travel somewhere. If that travel takes him to Makkah for Umrah or pilgrimage, he is requested by everyone he meets before his departure to remember them when he makes a supplication in the Grand Mosque in Makkah or when he attends at Arafat. Even the Prophet said to Umar when he was about to leave for Umrah: "Do not forget us when you make your supplication, brother." Umar was so elated to have this request put to him by the Prophet. For one thing the Prophet's request suggests that Umar's prayer is something to be sought, because it stands a good chance of being answered. For another, being called "brother" by the Prophet was an honor that Umar was to cherish for the rest of his life.
To us, however, this suggests that supplication by one Muslim for another is something particularly valuable. This is confirmed by Hadiths and reported statements by the Prophet's companions. Abu Bakr, the closest to the Prophet of all his companions, used to say: "A prayer by a brother in Islam, is sure to be answered."(Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). A more definitive statement is the Hadith in which Abdullah ibn Amnr states that he heard the Prophet saying: "The fastest supplication to be answered is that made by one person on behalf of another when they are away from each other." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, At-Tirmithi and Abu Dawood)
The main point about this latter type of prayer is the fact that the two persons are not together. It is certainly commendable that one person prays on behalf of another when they are together, as when one says to his Muslim brother, "May God reward you or give you honor, or may He enhance your position in the hereafter, etc. Yet, it cannot be absolutely certain that this supplication is totally free from a personal element. One may pray for another to assure him that he cares for him and harbors no ill intentions toward him. Or he may try to assert his friendship by showing how keen he is that the other receives God's grace. When the two are not together, such a prayer acquires special significance. No one prays for another when the latter is absent unless he is sincere and he cares for his well-being.
It is because of this sincerity that God answers such a supplication and rewards the supplicant as well. Abu Ad-Dardaa' was one of the scholars among the Prophet's companions and he was well known for his thoughtfulness and for his asceticism and indifference to worldly matters. His wife was similarly devoted to the service of God. We have a report that Safwan ibn Abdulmalik, Abu Ad-Dardaa's son-in-law, went to visit him in his home in Syria. Arriving at his home, he found only his mother-in-law, Umm Ad-Dardaa', at home. She asked him whether he was on his way to pilgrimage. When he answered in the affirmative she answered: "Then include us in your prayer; for the Prophet has said: "A prayer by a Muslim for his brother in his absence is always answered. An angel stands close to him who is assigned a special task. Every time he says a good prayer for his brother, the angel says: Amen, and may God grant you the same." Safwan says that he went to the market where he met his father-in-law, who confirmed this report since he heard it being said by the Prophet." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Muslim, Abu-Dawood and others).
This Hadith encourages us to pray for our relatives and friends and other Muslims. We are certain that our supplication on their behalf will be answered and a similar prayer is granted by God to us. Hence, if we act on this Hadith, we are bound to cement brotherly relations within Muslim society. We know that God can answer every prayer and give everyone of His creation all that they may request of Him.
This point may not be very clear to some people. They may imagine God in the same light of a king or an emperor. They seek to have the maximum they can get from Him before anybody else can have a share, as if they fear that what God has to give away to His servants may be exhausted. They do not realize that it is inexhaustible. A well known incident took place at the time of the Prophet. A Bedouin came into the mosque and prayed when the Prophet was sitting nearby. When the man finished his prayers, he said in his supplication: "My Lord, bestow your mercy on me and Muhammad [saw] and do not bestow your mercy on anyone beside us." The Prophet turned to him and said: "You have narrowed a great expanse." In another version of this Hadith, related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, the man is reported to have said in his prayer: "My Lord, forgive me and Muhammad [saw] only." The Prophet said to him: "You have deprived many people of that which you prayed for."
This is certainly a narrow view. God's mercy is sufficient to wipe off every sin committed by mankind. He may bestow it on whomever He wills. To fear that it may be exhausted is contrary to Islamic teachings, because we are required to always think well of God. With regard to this particular point of God's mercy, we have to remember the Hadith which tells us that when God created Mercy, He divided it into one hundred portions. He kept ninety nine portions for Himself and distributed the last portion among His creation. All the mercy and compassion we see in this world and all the mercy that is exercised by every species of creatures anywhere in the universe is part of that last share. The Prophet says that "Even when an animal lifts its leg to allow its youngsters to pass" it does so as a result of having a share of that last portion of mercy which God has distributed among all His creatures.
Someone may ask: What does God do with those ninety nine portions. The answer is that He may bestow His mercy on His creatures in this world, but He certainly withholds much of it to the Day of Judgment when He forgives His servants and bestows His mercy on them. This should give us an idea of how much mercy and forgiveness God will exercise on the Day of Judgment. We pray that we will all be among those whom God chooses to be the recipients of His mercy on that day.
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 30 March 2001[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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