…I have made this rejoinder to my brother, ‘Tope Oriola not to discredit him, but to call for discernment and make us more careful in our approach to this sensitive issue of religion, and for him to understand or realise that human efforts alone cannot help solve Nigeria’s problems unless if joined with a call for Allah’s intervention, through prayers!
In the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Most Kind
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Fellow Nigerians, I want to start my today’s sermon by saying that my intention here is not to discredit my brother, ‘Tope Oriola but to call for discernment and make us more careful in our information management related to this sensitive issue of religion.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have been taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that the line of prayers and supplications (du’a) is one that we must pursue and have no doubt about its worthiness and great influence. Because nothing can avert the qadr (destiny) except du’a (prayers). There are deep sighs of remorse and sorrow echoed in our great country, Nigeria and from every corner of the World. Everyday people in Nigeria and around the world face great hardship, are kidnapped, wounded and killed, while facing constant barages of war and violence by merciless oppressors and murderers. Du’a (prayers) is certainly the most lethal weapon we have and no crisis or catastrophe should deter us a single degree from this course. Please remember to keep those people in such dire situations in your prayers and supplications (du’a). They are most certainly in need of it.
Respected servants of Allah, if any disaster or calamity befalls Muslims, such as insecurity, epidemics, floods, fear from the enemy’s outrage, aggression, oppression or injustice, they are ordained to supplicate. Allah the Almighty says:
“And your Lord says, Call upon Me; I will respond to you. Indeed, those who disdain My worship (Prayers/Du’a) will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.” [Qur’an, 40:60]
And He the Most High says:
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” [Qur’an, 2:186]
Fellow Nigerians, on Tuesday, September 3, my brother ‘Tope Oriola wrote an article titled, “Sorry, Emir of Katsina, Prayers Do Not Solve Security Problems”, trying to deny or challenge the effectiveness of Muslim prayers (du’a), which was published by the esteemed PREMIUM TIMES newspaper. He wrote the article especially to attack our respected Emir of Katsina, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abdulmumin Muhammadu Kabir Usman, for calling his people to pray for Allah’s intervention in solving the problem of armed bandits and cattle rustlers bedeviling their State, Katsina. Please read the words of the Emir as follows:
“The bandits have killed my people and kidnapped women and children. As from today, all citizens of Katsina Emirate should embark on special prayers against the activities of bandits and cattle rustlers… We all must pray. Our special prayers will surely assist the security agents in their operations against the bandits.”
Dear brothers and sisters, I think here the respected Emir did not say, or call on us to abandon all other useful efforts and rely on prayers only! If it is so, please is there anything wrong in the Emir’s words? Please if there is any, let me know!
My brother ‘Tope Oriola may have forgotten that as Muslims, we are to completely trust Allah (have Tawakkul) for all our affairs. We also believe that Allah’s will can supersede our plans. However, this does not mean that we should not plan and work on the basis of what Allah has blessed us with in knowledge, intelligence, and free will. Common sense, as well as Islamic teachings, tell us that we are to fully employ those Allah-granted faculties, thanking Allah for what He has provided us, without feeling proud and arrogant about those abilities. We see an example of this in the Qur’an, where it tells us that when Allah’s prophet, Ya’qub sent his sons to Egypt, he advised them as a precautionary measure to enter from different gates of the city, lest they be mistaken as a clan or a group, raising suspicions amongst the inhabitants of the city. So, we see that even as a prophet of Allah, Ya’qub took all the precautionary measures that he could to prevent his sons from getting into any trouble. However, later we also learn from Surah Yusuf in the Qur’an that his precautionary measures were overtaken by the divine decree.
We should also use all our Allah-granted faculties in every endeavour that we choose to pursue. As we know from the popular Hadith that one day Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah.”
Anas Ibn Malik reported that: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave it untied and trust in Allah?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie it and trust in Allah.” [Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, and graded Hasan by Sheikh Al-Albani].
Does the above guarantee that we will get our intended result? As Muslims, we should believe that Allah as the Lord of the worlds has far more knowledge than His creation, and out of His wisdom He may decide to supersede all our plans for reasons that only He knows. We should remind ourselves that believing in Al-Qadr (Allah’s divine will and decree) is one of the pillars of Islamic faith.
My beloved people, man always looks for what benefits him and what protects him from harm. However, to accomplish this, man must be able to realise what is harmful. He must then know whom he should need, trust, and love so that he can attain what is beneficial as well as to feel good about his choice.
He also must know the proper and good approach that would make him achieve this goal. This latter condition requires that man:
1. Know about harm.
2. What ways can be used to drive harm away?
Certainly, man can have no better guidance than that which comes from the One who has perfected everything, and the One who has no deficiency in Himself and in His attributes. The One who is ever-living and who does not die. There can be no One better than the One who has no need for anything; the One who is rich; the giver; the One who, after all, controls man’s soul. Man is so poor to Him. He is Allah, the true and only Lord. Man can bring harm to himself if he seeks other than Allah for help. Allah is the One Who can help man drive away any harm for it cannot occur without His will, His knowledge and His power.
Allah sent down His Books and chose His Messengers to guide man to:
1. Know His Lord as He had explained about Himself and,
2. Seek Him alone while living in accordance with His plan.
Knowing Allah’s names and attributes liberates man from worshiping any form of creation because creation is weak and is in need of The Creator, Allah. The knowledge about Allah leads man to know that he is created to live according to Allah’s way as revealed to His Messengers the final of whom was Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
This revelation contains a complete code of life. Everything that is beneficial or harmful is established so that man can centre his life around this revelation. If man commits wrong and knows that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, he would turn to Him, and to Him alone, seeking His forgiveness; Allah the Almighty says:
“So know, (O Muhammad), that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin.” [Qur’an, 47:19]
It is wrong to think or believe that Allah created other ‘gods’ besides Him so that man turns to them for help; loves them or fears them, etc. He is the same Lord of all nations. He does not order that people should make of the stars, sun, fire, Isa (Jesus AS), Musa (Moses AS), Muhammad (Peace be upon him), etc. gods besides Him. He cannot be ‘contradictory.’ He has one way (religion) that calls man to surrender his will only to Him.
He warned that if man (even Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) would take partners with Him, then his work will fail and will be among losers; Allah the Most High says:
“And verily, it had been revealed to you (O Muhammad) as has been revealed to those before you. If you join others in worship with Allah (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain and you will certainly be among the losers. Nay! But worship Allah and be among grateful.” [Qur’an, 39:65-66]
Let us know what Muhammad (Peace be upon him) the man-Prophet, who knew Allah best, used to say:
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You for Your Pleasure and against Your Wrath, and in Your Forgiveness and against Your Punishment and in You from You, I cannot Praise You as You can Praise Yourself.” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
He (Peace be upon him) used to say also:
“I have surrendered myself to You, I have directed my face to You, I have entrusted my affairs to You, I have compelled my back to refuge in You, in want and in fright of You, there is no resort nor survival from You except (in turning) to You. I have faith in Your book (i.e. the Qur’an) which You brought down and in the Prophet (Muhammad) you have sent.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
When we read in the Qur’an:
“Whatever of Mercy (i.e. of good), Allah may grant to mankind, none can withhold it, and whatever He may withhold, none can grant it thereafter. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” [Qur’an, 35:2]
And when we read:
“If Allah touches you with hurt, there is none can remove it but He; and if He intends any good for you, there is none who can repel His favour which He causes it to reach whomsoever of His slaves He will, and He is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, 10:117]
We should be motivated to return to Him Alone at times of ease and at times of hardship. And when we read:
“If Allah helps you none can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there, after Him, that can help you. And in Allah (alone) let believers put their trust.” [Qur’an, 3:160]
The Qur’an, therefore, leads man to a true liberation from any false attachment. It brings peace to the heart. It helps the believer against hypocrisy and all forms of dishonesty.
Imagine, for example, a believer facing a problem at work. He sees wrong and faces unlawful practices. He does not fear to reject what is wrong. He knows that the job is only a means to gain his sustenance. While he may be unable to correct what is wrong, he knows well that Allah is the One who provides. If he leaves his job for the sake of Allah, Allah will give him a better one. Allah the Almighty said:
“And whoever fears Allah—He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah — then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a (decreed) extent.” [Qur’an, 65:2-3]
The above texts necessitate that man must depend upon Allah, asking Him Alone for assistance. It also requires that man must love Allah and worship Him alone to gain His pleasure and His help. Is it not true that the people who consider this life as the “Final Goal” end up worshiping many things in it? You see them so careful about “having it all.” They torture themselves: pain, difficulty, constant worry, keeping their hands in the banks for loan after loan to keep up with the “demands of development.” They are under the constant threat of foreclosure. They constantly see poverty in front of their eyes.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Allah says: ‘Son of Adam: Fill your time with My worship and I will fill your heart with richness, and end off your poverty. But if you do not, I would make your hands fully busy (i.e. in worldly affairs) and I would not end off your poverty.'” [At-Tirmidhi]
Our purpose of existence on earth is more meaningful than being slaves to worldly gains. There can be no meaningful life better than that prescribed by our Creator Allah. Every act done according to Allah’s way is an act of worship. Man is the beneficiary and Allah is in no need; Allah the Most High says:
“O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of All Praise.” [Qur’an, 35:15]
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah the Almighty says:
“Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him…” [Qur’an, 27:62]
For whatever problem we have, whatever difficulty we find ourselves in, we have the most powerful weapon to ward off the pain that plagues us. It is the weapon of du’a (prayers). We know with certainty that Allah is Al-Mujib (The Responsive). We have read many writings telling us about the importance of du’a (prayers), but in order for our Prayers to be truly meaningful, we must accompany that Prayers with a certain brokenness in the heart. This brokenness is the feeling of utter need, submission and surrender to Allah, and realising that truly it is only He who can get us out of our state. In a beautiful Hadith Qudsi, Allah the Almighty says:
“O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me (prayers), and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good, praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that, blame no one but himself.” Muslim]
Subhanallah (exalted is Allah), this Hadith requires us to read it more than once to truly grasp its meaning. In essence, Allah is telling us that everything is from Him – He possesses this whole world and all that is in it, therefore we should seek all of our needs from Him.
Allah has named Himself Al-Mujib, which means the One who responds. Just as we are certain that the Qur’an is true, we must be certain that Allah, Al-Mujib, will answer our call. We should never think that Allah will not answer, because by feeling so, we are denying this attribute (Siffah) of Allah. Whenever we are feeling down, we should not hesitate to ask Him over and over again, and to go into Sujud (prostration) and plead because that is the closest that we are to Him. If we realise this, the doors of mercy have been opened for us, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“For whoever the door of du’a (prayers) opened, for him the doors of mercy are opened.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Your du’a (prayers) is deposited with Allah, and as was narrated from the Prophet (Peace be upon him), your prayers does something. Either Allah will speedily answer your prayers or He will save it for you until the Hereafter, or He will avert something evil, bad and dangerous equal to the value of the prayers [Ahmad]. So we should never leave prayers. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) told us:
“Do not stop making prayers, because nobody who makes prayers is forsaken.” [Hakim]
In Shaa Allah, I don’t have any doubt, you will be answered. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Verily your Lord is Generous and Shy. If His servant raises his hands to Him (in supplication) He becomes shy to return them empty.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi]
Remember, our Lord is not forgetful. Sometimes you might even forget that you once made Prayers for something, but He might give it to you years later.
We must always have certainty that Allah answers. But sometimes doubt enters one’s heart and say: “…But I asked, I made prayers… and I don’t see anything?” Firstly, just as we know that Allah is Al-Mujib, we must also know He is Al-Hakim (the Most Wise).
He may delay answering your Prayer for a number of reasons; one is to test your trust in Him. We all say we believe Allah is the Al-Mujib when everything lands at our feet, but what about when we don’t immediately see the fruits of our Prayers? Wallahi I knew a woman who was telling the story of how her husband did not pray. When she married him, she didn’t know, and as the marriage progressed she discovered that he was skeptical of religion as well. So she would wake up every night for Qiyamul-lail (the night prayer) and plead with Allah to guide Him. Do you know how long she prayed for? Two years. And she says it was so unexpected; he came home from a business trip with a complete change of heart. It turns out that on the plane he was seated next to a great Sheikh who began talking to him. And that is how he changed.
Another reason is that Allah knows when it is best to answer. Perhaps you are asking for a job and He could give you a job at this very moment, but He will delay it because He knows that in a couple of months, a better job will come along. Perhaps what you are asking for is not good for you, or He will give you something better in the Hereafter.
Allah also may delay the answer to make us work harder so that we are prepared for it. There is a beautiful Hadith Qudsi which states that Allah sometimes delays the answer because He loves hearing the sound of His servant. [Imam At-Tabari]
Many of us would ask and then when we get what we want we stop going to Allah; but imagine that when the answer is delayed, Allah loves to hear YOUR voice again as you call Him. Wow.
Allah does not place a burden on us greater than we can bear. If the answer to your Prayers has been delayed, it’s because Allah KNOWS you can handle it. He tests those whom He loves, so keep asking and remember that Allah makes with hardship ease. And remember, as with tawakkul, we need to exert effort as well.
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said he who fulfills the following conditions should know that Allah will surely answer his prayers:
1. Have certainty that Allah the Most High will answer your prayers. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your Prayers.” [At-Tirmidhi]
2. Show submissiveness and devotion during your Prayers. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Know that Allah will not accept the supplication from an absent heart.” [At-Tirmidhi]
3. Be patient and do not hasten for an answer. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The prayers of any worshipper will continue to be responded to, as long as… he is not hasty (i.e. as long as he doesn’t lose patience).” [Muslim]
4. Continue to gain a lawful means of living. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) narrated a story about a man asking Allah, saying “O Lord! O Lord!” but his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he was nourished unlawfully; so how can he be answered?!” [Muslim]
Fellow Nigerians, wallahi, Allah heard your call for help, but He wants you to take action and be responsible yourself. Don’t just wait for things to change in your favour, seek Allah’s guidance and strive for change. March forward and expect results. Just like the doctor who prescribes a sick patient medication for a sickness and expects the patient to obey His commands, similarly, Allah provides the right guidance by giving you the keys to unlocking all doors that cannot be unlocked by yourself. Your success therefore depends on if you obey the instructions you receive.
When the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said a du’a (prayer) or taught a du’a to his ummah (followers), as well as urging them to seek the help of Allah and hope for His bounty, he was also urging them to strive to attain the thing they were praying for through their own efforts and to forget about the thing which they were praying would be warded off from them because du’a (supplications) must be accompanied by action. So a person must strive to attain that which will benefit him in worldly and spiritual terms, and ask his Lord to make his efforts successful, and he should seek His help in this, as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not be helpless.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) connected the matter of striving to achieve good things with the matter of seeking the help of Allah and not giving in to feelings of helplessness which are a harmful kind of laziness, and with the matter of accepting things in the past which are over and done with, and acknowledging that the will and decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass.
“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” [Qur’an, 2:45]
Please, dear brothers and sisters, don’t ever underestimate du’a (prayers). What is the value of prayers? That you are transferring a situation from your power and ability to the power and ability of Allah. You are moving obstacles from yourself to the One who has no obstacles. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said:
“Du’as and prayers seeking refuge with Allah are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is strong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can overpower the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, the effect will be lacking accordingly.” [Al-Da’u wad-Dawa’, page 35]
So a believer’s du’a (Prayers) has no limits. Subhanallah!
Umar Ibn Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said:
“I am not worried about whether my Du’a will be responded to, but rather I am worrried about whether I will be able to make Du’a or not. So if I have been guided by Allah to make Du’a, then (I know) that the response will come with it.” [Al-Awayishah page 117]
Once again, respected brothers and sister, know that, I have made this rejoinder to my brother, ‘Tope Oriola not to discredit him, but to call for discernment and make us more careful in our approach to this sensitive issue of religion, and for him to understand or realise that human efforts alone cannot help solve Nigeria’s problems unless if joined with a call for Allah’s intervention, through prayers!
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
May Allah the Most High accept our Ibadah (worship), prayers and supplications, guide our leaders and provide us with a lasting peace in our beloved country, Nigeria, ameen Ya Mujib!
And Allah knows best. May He the Most High continue to guide and protect us all.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Muharram 6, 1441 A. H. (September 6, 2019).