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  • Raya Shokatfard


Updated: Jul 13, 2020

By: Raya Shokatfard

For some people, the word “supplication” may bring to heart a warm feeling regardless of one’s belief.

It is as if one reaches out to a great power for something important one desires. If this something was easily and readily attainable, then supplication would be of no benefit.

The word meaning of “supplication” refers to the act of humbly requesting for something, especially when pleading with God or some other entities in prayer.

For those who have not yet felt any connection to, or need for a greater power, the word “supplication” may be meaningless.

Yet, throughout the history of humanity, supplication to various entities such as, idols, prophets, saints, sun, moon, stars, ancestors, nature and gods were recorded. Written records as well as archeological remains are among the proofs of such practices. But when did such practices start and why?

Various religions, beliefs and ideologies trace their origin to some event, person, era or written records. Each person rejoices and believes as true what he/she practices.

Likewise, Muslims believe not only in the accuracy of history of their religious records, but are quite certain that Islam was the last revealed religion, with Prophet Muhammad as the seal of the Prophets; and the message of Islam as the final universal religion for all humankind.

Most importantly, Muslims believe that the Quran (the sacred book of Muslims) is the only Book to be uncorrupted up to this time.

Adam, Eve & Satan

Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace their origin to their forefather and mother, Adam and Eve, from whom mankind multiplied and filled the earth for thousands of years and to this day.

The stories of Adam and Eve’s creation, their disobedience to God’s command and their final expulsion out of Paradise unto Earth are similar but with some noticeable differences.

In Christianity, it is believed that because of the sins of Adam and Eve, all humans are born into sin and God has to have a sacrifice in order to atone for such sin. Jesus Christ is believed to be such sacrifice.

In Islam, the notion of one paying for the sin of another is fully rejected. Everyone is accountable for his/her own deeds.

Adam and Eve, after repentance, were forgiven, but expelled out of Paradise. Here is the very important issue we ought to take a notice:

God did promise to continuously guide Adam and Eve and provide guidance and sustenance for them on earth. Meanwhile Satan who was the cause of their disobedience and expulsion from Paradise was also cast down to earth and out of Paradise, promising to misguide mankind except those who believe.

Adam and his earliest progeny did not even think of any other god but the one God that created Adam, as the story is told. However over time, things began to change.

Satan, steadfast at his promise, slowly beautified other evil practices and made them seeming good. Only ten generations after the creation of Adam, the idol worship and ungodly practices began. This was the era of Prophet Noah who lived over 900 years, most of which he tried to bring his people to the right path.

Noah’s Ark and the Flood is a well known story for the adherents of Abrahamic religions.

God sent a succession of Prophets to remind mankind that their Lord is only one God and that they should worship none other than Him. Yet, most of the Prophets faced rejection, expulsion and death.

Improper practices continued throughout all times and people were unwilling to give up the traditions of their forefathers, even when the truth was revealed to them.

Human Need for Divine Help

Having the need to reach to a higher being for all the needs, supplication took root from the early era of human creation. Repeated warning from prophets to supplicate only one God fell into deaf ears and the practice continued in various forms to this day.

In Islam, anyone who supplicates to anyone other than God, the only one true God, is considered a disbeliever or mushrik (one associating partners with God).

God, may He be exalted, says:

{For Him (Alone) is the Word of Truth (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He). And those whom they (polytheists and disbelievers) invoke, answer them no more than one who stretches forth his hand (at the edge of a deep well) for water to reach his mouth, but it reaches him not, and the invocation of the disbelievers is nothing but an error (i.e. of no use)} (Ar-Ra ‘d 13: 14)

Some interpretation of the above verse is as follows:

“What is meant is that just as the one who stretches forth his hand to the water, either to take some of it from a distance will not benefit from the water that does not reach his mouth, similarly those who worship another god alongside Allah will never benefit from that in this world or in the Hereafter.” (Ibn Kathir, 2/785)

Although everyone has the knowledge of the one God in his/her soul and remembers Him at difficult time, man has more tendencies to rebel than submit.

God reminds us:

{And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon besides Him vanish from you except Him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safely to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful} (Al-Isra’ 17: 67)

God is instructing Prophet Muhammad to warn:

{Say (O Muhammad to people): Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and the sea (dangers like storms), when you call upon Him in humility and in secret (saying): If He (Allah) only saves us from this (danger), we shall truly be grateful.} (Al-An’am 6: 63)

Little do people know that it is none but God who responds.

Yet the ungrateful man turns to other than his Creator.

{Say (O Muhammad): Allah rescues you from it and from all (other) distresses, and yet you worship others besides Allah!} (Al-An‘am 6: 64)

When an idol worshipper supplicates to a certain idol, a saint or a prophet and the request is answered, this would make the entity seemingly powerful and able to respond to supplications. Little do people know that it is none but God who responds.

{Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generation? Is there any god with Allah? Little is that you remember!} (An-Naml 27: 62)

It is crucial here that any person who wonders why supplications of the disbelievers are answered, to have a conviction that there is only one God, and there is no other gods but He. If such conviction does not exist, then the rest of this argument is futile for the one who doubts even the existence of one supreme God.

On the other hand, if one considers one supreme God, yet believes in minor gods or other entities having any power similar to the one God, then he has stepped into disbelief.

{And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – unthankful!} (Ibrahim 14: 34)

Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment when all will come before a just Judge who will measure their scale, first based on their conviction of the unity of God, followed by other actions and beliefs they held while tarrying on earth.

God’s Vast Mercy

The fact that God answers the prayer of a non-believer is an indication of His vast mercy upon His creation. He denies none, of His favor and blessings. Yet the reward and response to a disbeliever’s supplications is no match for what awaits the believers in the Hereafter.

If God stopped all injustice and did not respond to those who prayed to other than Him, then all will believe. This would be a form of compulsion. God did not create us and forced us to believe.

Furthermore, one does not have to be a believer in order for God to answer his or her supplication especially when they are in distress or are wronged. This is God’s justice.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Fear the prayer of the oppressed, even if he is a disbeliever, for there is no barrier (between it and Allah).”  (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

God has repeatedly warned that those who desire the life of this world, He will grant it to them and those who desire the pleasures of not only this world, but the Hereafter, He will grant it to them. But the latter group is mostly concerned about the Hereafter. They would bear the hardship of this world with patience. They have hope and motivation greater than what the world can offer whereas the first group only has hope in what they can see with their eyes, feel with their hearts and enjoy with their senses in the very short time here on Earth. They disregard the Hereafter altogether or they would indulge in the pleasures of this world as if it is their last abode.

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Allah gives worldly things to those He loves and to those He does not love, but He gives Iman (faith) only to those He loves, so he who is given Iman by Allah, has been loved by Him.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Moreover, according to Ibn Al-Qayyim, one of the prominent scholars: “Not everyone whose supplication Allah answers has attained His pleasure or love, nor is He pleased with his actions. He may answer the prayers of the righteous and evildoers, believers and disbelievers.” (Ighathat al-Lahfaan, 1/13)

Some may ask why does God answer the supplications of disbelievers, especially when they are supplicating to an idol or asking for some injustice to be done to someone else? The best answer may be connecting responding to supplications with the freewill of humans.

God can stop a person who is about to commit a crime but He does not. He can stop a child from falling from the roof, but He does not. He can stop wars that kills innocent, but He leaves it be.

Likewise, He responds to supplications because that is what the person wanted, as if he was about to commit a crime and he did it. God does not stop human actions and likewise He grants what they ask. Why?

If God stopped all injustice and did not respond to those who prayed to other than Him, then all will believe. This would eliminate freewill and the test for which we are put on earth.

It may also seem unjust that God creates us and then compels us to do as He wants.

It is for this reason that God has sent clear guidance through His messengers. Yet, leaving it totally up to us to follow or not.

Many may come to see their errors in this world and correct them, and many may only face the consequences of their deeds on the Day of Judgment.

Thus some may be deluded to think that whoever they supplicated to other than God has granted them their wish and thus they are in the right path and their deity has some power.

(… To be continued In-Shaa-Allah …)


Published on Reading Islam on Tuesday, 16 October 2012

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