In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
Prayer is not merely a request directed to Allah by a person but also a fundamental pillar of a person’s life. Prayer feeds the human spirit hope, encourages patience, endurance, establishes good behaviors and morals, and leads to perfection while safeguarding from the perils and horrors of life. It is a path that leads to happiness in life and the Hereafter. Prayer assists those in need and enriches their soul. It is an ointment for wounds, a shield against all fears, and a relief from distress. Those who devote themselves to prayer find themselves more emotionally stable than others, even when catastrophe strikes.
Even with all the material progress the world is experiencing, it still suffers from serious problems, primarily problems birthed by the lack of a clear moral compass. How is it that societies that enjoy security, freedom, equality, welfare, social security, and the rule of law have high rates of suicide? Why does suicide become the answer to psychological suffering and a perceived lack of purpose in the individual’s life?
Through supplication, we can attain the psychological, moral, and spiritual values that enable us to gain stability in life. With the absence of supplication, moral and spiritual values are gradually eroded; with their absence, material gains become the sole objective of the individual.
As the individual rejects accountability and the repercussions of their acts while not fearing the wrath of Allah, what is there to stop them from committing crimes? Laws aim to instill a sense of stability and safety in society, but they do nothing to reform the individual. Allah’s laws, not constantly changing human laws, create disciplined and moral individuals. It is only through these laws and principles that we can preserve society and prevent social ills. Prayer plays an essential role as it is the spiritual link by which we connect to our Creator. While we pray, we remind ourselves of the values that we must adhere to and constantly evaluate our deeds, helping maintain the much-needed balance of the mind.
Supplication safeguards against the evils of the devil and encourages the condemnation of sins. Supplication is the protector of the community from delinquency, crime, corruption, and different kinds of degradation. When it comes to prayer, supplication, or other acts of worship, the Shi’a faith has been granted a heritage unlike any other. No other religion – or even sects within Islam – can hope to match even a fraction of what was left to us by the Prophet and his Purified Family (peace be upon them). Indeed, who could better teach us how to worship Allah than those who are our guides to Him?
Science, religion, civility, ethics, management, education, economics, etc., are streams of knowledge that originate from the fountain of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them); meanwhile, prayer is an essential feature of their teachings to educate their followers, providing the blessings of belief and knowledge about the unseen and the afterlife. Indeed, we are still failing to realise the great heritage of prayers of the Household of Infallibility and Purity (Peace be upon them all), which could benefit hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on the matter of worship and conduct.
The Messenger of Allah (blessings of Allah upon him and his family) said:
Prayer is the weapon of the believer and the pillar of the faith.
Prayer is a pillar of religion and a fundamental and indispensable need, but prayer is also a believer’s most potent weapon against the disbeliever, the tyrant, and the corrupt. Since prayer is the means by which we confront false religions and doctrines, it is the duty of those loyal to the Infallible Household (Peace be upon them) to invest in such a weapon to prove that Shia-Islam is the true Islam, not others. We challenge those of other sects and faiths to provide anything that matches the great prayers of the Shi’a faith and the content they carry. To those who are fair-minded and unbiased in their research, this conclusion will present itself: Shi’a Islam is the true faith as its prayers simply cannot be formulated by normal human beings.
For our prayers to be accepted and our wishes granted, the first step is to ask Allah through his mediators – Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). They are not only our guide to him but the means by which our prayers are answered. It is by imploring them to mediate for us or by invoking their names while we pray that Allah turns His gaze upon us and responds to our prayers. Without Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) and their teachings to safeguard us from falling into despair and doubt, we would never have learned how to cope or keep our faith strong despite our hardships.
They taught us that prayers are sometimes not answered if one engages in sins. One’s evil and lack of sincerity can also delay the fulfillment of prayer. It could also be that Allah loves to hear the believer’s supplication and delays His response because the more the person prays, the higher the status he receives in the Afterlife. Allah may also grant an immediate response to a disbeliever because He despises the sound of their prayer and does not wish to reward them in the Hereafter. The person who complains about the lack of a response does not understand that the response is delayed – or the wish is not granted – for various reasons, some of which are their own acts.
The other problem is that many people only pray when calamity and hardship strikes. People generally do not think of seeking forgiveness or atonement for their sins when they are at ease, and even when Allah responds, they go back to their old ways as soon as they feel safe and sound. When our hearts are distant and unattached to our Creator, should we not expect the possibility that our prayers will not be answered?
Another crucial reason that is overlooked – or difficult to come to terms with – is that even the most devout person might not have their wish fulfilled, no matter how long they pray or which of the Infallibles they beg to answer their prayer. Allah is merciful, generous, and kind, but He is also wise. It might be difficult, or even impossible for us to comprehend why certain prayers are unanswered, why some calamities must affect us, or why we must suffer, but when Allah does not answer our prayers or free us from what we consider an affliction, it is because it is not in our benefit to do so.
For instance, some narrations describe how Allah does not enrich a faithful, poor man because if he were to become wealthy, his greed would mislead him, turning him away from the worship of Allah. Similarly, a man stricken by a debilitating illness begging Allah to cure him of his condition might have his answer significantly delayed or not granted because he would become a disbeliever if he were healthy. That is not to say that we must not pray to Allah day and night and insist that Allah grants us our wishes or relieve us from our afflictions simply because we do not know the consequences of our prayers being answered. Sometimes our faith is tested by Allah when He withholds the answers we seek, so we must never lose hope.
Therefore, It is a great shame that some claim to be too busy to pray, neglecting their duties as *worshippers* of Allah, dedicating themselves instead to worldly matters and activities that will not benefit them in the Hereafter. It is this neglect that is another reason for the non-fulfillment of wishes and prayers. Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) have left us a wealth of prayers and supplications safeguarded by devout followers and scholars throughout the ages. We now have many valuable books that contain prayers by the Infallibles (peace be upon them), and no other book is better known in the Shi’a community than “Keys of Heaven” by Sheikh Abbas al-Qomi. This unique book contains a selection of prayers, serving as a daily devotional program for every believer, recommending a scheduled routine of worship in every believer’s everyday life to stay in constant contact with the Lord Almighty.
Millions have benefited from this book and others; millions have had their prayers answered, but prayer is not merely a means to an end, a call for help, or comfort for the soul. Prayer is the foundation of faith and our greatest weapon. We are powerless without it and are bound to crumble. Therefore, prayer gives our life purpose and the tools we need to pass, triumphantly, from this world unto the next. Indeed, life without prayer is pointless.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib