A Time to Pray and A Time to Act

 

A Time to Pray and A Time to Act

Dr. Pasha

(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It —
And which One Does Not?)

 

Do Prayers Work?

Do prayers work?

Do they work for everyone?

And should we pray?

The answer to all three questions is a resounding yes.

Yes, prayers absolutely, positively work. And yes, we must absolutely, positively pray.

Was it Tennyson who said: Many things are wrought by prayer? Well, the man had the right instinct.

But how, how do prayers work? That is the real question.

And for whom do they work best and most?

And like everything else good in life, how do we optimize them? How do we get the most out of our prayers?

And that is where the rub is.

That means are there things that we must do that will enhance the power and effectiveness of our prayers?

And are there things that will detract from our prayers and reduce and dilute their effectiveness and power that we must avoid?

What are some of the things that are “contraindicated” when we are embarking on a prayer path?

In other words, are prayers really effective? Do they work? Do they work for everybody?

What form does their effect take? How do we know? And how long does it take?

And, of course, what does it take for prayers to work?

To answer these questions, let me ask a different set of questions – and see if these other questions help us to understand the prayer questions a little better.

Do Medicines Work?

Do medicines work?

And should we go to a doctor? And should we take those medicines that the doctor wants us to take?

Well, what do you think the answer is to any of these questions? Also a resounding yes, most people would say.

But there are all kinds of little “buts” along the way, are there not? And here are some of them:

“But” it depends on the kind of medicine.

“But” it depends on the kind of illness.

“But” it depends on the condition of the patient.

“But” it depends on the kind of doctor.

“But” it depends on whether or not the medicine is available in the market.

“But” it depends on whether or not the patient can afford the medicine.

“But” it depends on whether or not the hospital and medical system function properly.

“But” it depends on how far the pharmacy is.

“But” it depends on how heavy the traffic is.

“But” it depends if there is anyone around to run off to the pharmacy and bring the medicine to the patient.

“But” it depends on whether or not the patient will take the medicine.

“But” it depends on whether or not the patient will take the medicine in the right dosage and as prescribed by the doctor.

“But” it depends on whether or not the patient will vomit the medicine out immediately after taking it.

“But” it depends on whether the patient will do or take something seriously contraindicated in his or her condition.

“But” it depends if the patient will follow through on all the other recommendations that the doctor made – to do certain things and to stay away from certain other things.

Prayers Work, But it Depends!

So also, prayers work. But it depends.

It depends on who you are and who your God is.

And it depends on what your prayer is and how and why you are making it.

And it depends on what you have been up to before and after making the prayers.

And it depends on whether you are also at the same time doing everything else that you must do in order to bring about the kind of positive changes that you want your prayers to bring about in your own life and in your surroundings.

Here is a broad paraphrase and extrapolation of some of the things Prophet Muhammad (May God bless him and all the prophets), the ultimate doctor that God sent to cure humanity’s ills, indicated we must do if we cared to have our prayers accepted:

What it Takes for Prayers to Work

1. We must have a firm and unshakable belief – Iman – in a higher being – God Almighty.

2. And our belief – our Iman that is – must be of the right kind. That means our God must be the right God.

3. Yes, there is no getting away from that fact. There are all kinds of fancy gods and then there is God Almighty – the one and only God, God of all beings and things. And God of all prophets and peoples.

4. He is the one and only God that Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (May God bless them all) preached about and invited humanity to worship – God of the Old Testament, God of the New Testament and God of the Qur’an.

5. There is no God but him. And we must take no God besides him, as the Bible says in such clear and strong terms.

6. Then we must have the strong faith – Iman – and confidence – Yaqeen – that our prayers will be accepted.

7. Then we must be in a state of total and utter sincerity – Ikhlas – as we embark upon our prayers.

8. Then we must take a careful look at our actions. We must carefully and thoroughly review the catalog of our deeds to date – our A’amal.

9. Everything positive as well as negative that we did to date – we need to carefully and sincerely examine, analyze and understand every one of those things.

10. That means at every stage we must ask ourselves why we did what God told us not to do and why we did not do what God told us to do.

11. That includes questions of what we consumed and what we ate: Were those things lawful? Were those the right things to eat? Were those things sanctioned and permitted by God – Akl Halaal?

12. At the same time, did we stay away from all that God declared to be unlawful – Haraam – in the Bible and then later confirmed much of it in the Qur’an – like pork and usury, for example?

13. What is our relationship to truth – Sidq – in terms of speaking it, supporting it, championing it and living and practicing it? For, God after all is truth!

The Curse of Alcohol

14. Where do we stand in relation to that great mother of a lot of evil in this world – the great curse of alcohol?

15. The wrecker of homes and marriages; the destroyer of people and personalities; the waster of resources and wealth; the causer of abuse and violence; the killer on the roads; the stealer of time and efficiency in offices; and the ticket to all kind of diseases of the body, soul and mind?

16. Do we consume it? Do we sell and promote it? Do we live off of it? Do we support, preach and propagate its use?

17. Have we built a culture centered on it? Are we raising our future generations on it? Is it the mother’s milk that lubricates our social life and public celebrations?

18. Have we turned alcohol into a little god in our society and culture and build most if not everything in our life around it?

19. In general, where do we stand in relation to the more probable sins of the body?

20. And in relation to all the sins of the mind and soul that we so seldom think, acknowledge or talk about?

21. Once we have done the analysis, and once we realize all that we have done wrong, are we ready to repent – to do Taubah – a sincere, genuine, earnest, honest, heart-breaking, God-fearing repentance?

22. How much do we truly fear God Almighty? And how much do we fear everyone and everything else in the world?

23. How much do we really love God Almighty? And how much do we love everyone and everything else in the world, including the almighty dollar, the almighty Euro and the almighty pound sterling?

Sincerity and Surrender

24. And then there is the question of sincerity in prayer, during the course of the prayer itself. How are we praying? Where are our thoughts? How is our body behaving? How devoted, how dedicated and how earnest are we?

25. And beyond that is the question of utter, total, abject surrender and humility before God and his power – Tadarru’ – as we lift our hands to pray to him.

26. Do our attitude and our posture reflect the fact that we know and understand who is boss? That it is God Almighty, the maker and master of the worlds, who is boss and not us.

27. Will those looking at us be able tell that we are beggars deeply engrossed in the act of begging?

28. If all this is true, then all we have to do is to wait. Just wait for the results of our prayers to show up.

29. And that wait could last a lifetime from our calculations. But for God all it takes is a simple command that says “Be!” and there it is. For, to God Almighty, there is no past, no present and no future.

A Divine Time Scale

30. It is foolish to judge God’s actions by our own time scale, which our own experts tell us is at best a relative thing. If you don’t believe me, read Steve Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Or read up any simplified version of Einstein’s ideas on Relativity.

31. The Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, tells us that there are three ways for a prayer to be answered.

32. One is for you to get what you asked for.

33. The other is your prayer saves you from the negatives that may have come your way had you not prayed.

34. Third, the fruits and rewards of your prayer are stored up for you till after death, when you will meet God Almighty. On that day, you will reap the fruits of your prayers in abundant measure.

35. So your prayers, done right, never fail.

36. That is God Almighty’s promise in the Qur’an. “Call me and I shall respond!” Says he in the Qur’an.

37. “When my slaves call me, I am close” he also says in the Qur’an. “I respond to the call of those who call me.”

38. “Think of me, and I shall think of you, talk about me and I shall talk about you,” he says elsewhere in the Qur’an.

39. What better guarantees do we need for whether or not God will listen to us, and whether or not he will respond to our calls, and whether or not he will answer our prayers?

The One Prayer that Never Fails

40. If you believe in Allah and his prophet, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – you are a Muslim that is – then there is absolutely, positively one prayer that does not fail: your prayer to God to bless his prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

41. And every time you bless his prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, once, he blesses you 10 times. And each one of those blessings could be multiplied any number of times thereafter.

42. One single mercy and blessing from him is enough to fill your life and this entire universe with goodness, health, wealth and happiness forever and ever.

43. But what we really need to understand is that prayers are only a part of life as human life is designed and ordained by God Almighty to be lived on his earth. There are other aspects of life that are equally important.

44. The way God Almighty designed and ordained it for human beings, life on earth is responsibility. It is taking responsibility for oneself and for others. It is being responsible for one’s actions and then caring and being responsible for others to be able to reach out and help them.

45. The way God Almighty designed and ordained it for human beings, life on earth is action. It is meaningful, effective, timely and well-planned and well-thought out action – at the individual level as well as at the social, collective, cooperative and collaborative levels.

46. The way God Almighty designed and ordained it for human beings, life on earth is not mere contemplation. And it is not mere prayer or chanting and uttering of God’s blessed name to the exclusion of effective individual and collective action.

47. The way God Almighty designed and ordained it for human beings, life on earth is not an escape into the realm of the sublime and the spiritual, or the exotic and the abstruse, to the exclusion of the physical, social, economic, political, cultural, personal and other mundane aspects, demands, requirements and obligations of everyday life in society.

To Pray also Is to Act

48. That means prayers must be followed and preceded and accompanied and supported by effective and responsible individual and collective social action.

49. That means action is ultimately an act of faith – Iman. In the Islamic scheme of things, it is worship.

50. And so is prayer. Your prayers are a fruit and function of your Iman. Where there is no Iman, there can be no real prayer – only imitations and parodies of it.

51. And in the Islamic scheme of things, action also is prayer – well-intentioned, well-thought-out, effective, responsible, God-conscious and God-fearing action is the heart of prayer.

52. That is because in Islam work is worship – provided your belief is right; provided your intentions are good; and provided your actions are right, good and lawful.

53. Prayer – Du’a – without action is a mockery. It means you are playing games with God Almighty. It is nothing short of blasphemy, for you are refusing to take God seriously.

54. God Almighty provided you with your senses – sight, hearing, touch and the rest – whose job it is to scan the environment and provide you all the information you need to be able to achieve your goals and objects in this world – the things for which you are now praying to God.

55. God Almighty fitted you with a brain, whose function it is to think and to be able to identify your needs and figure our ways of getting those needs met in this world using lawful, moral and ethical means – the very same things for which you are now praying to God.

56. God Almighty fitted you with a mouth and other abilities and apparatus of communication, such as your whole body, with which you can make your legitimate needs known to your fellow human beings and ask them for their help in meeting and fulfilling those needs – the things for which you are now praying to God.

57. So, the first and foremost thing you need to do is to set about systematically working to achieve in real life all those lawful and legitimate things you are now praying to God for.

Right and Wrong: Halaal and Haraam

58. In doing all this, use only means, methods, tools and ingredients God has made lawful – Halaal.

59. For, they are right and good for you and they are blessed by God.

60. And scrupulously stay away from means, methods, tools and ingredients God has made unlawful – Haraam.

61. For, they are bad for you and they are harmful to you and God dislikes them.

62. For, he is a loving, caring, doting, solicitous and compassionate God. He likes what is good for you and has made it lawful. And he dislikes what is bad for you and has made it unlawful.

63. Begin everything you do with Bismillah – in God’s glorious and wondrous name. Because Bismillah confers legitimacy upon your actions and blesses them – provided they are lawful to begin with.

64. End everything you do with Alhamdulillah – unqualified praise for God’s limitless blessings and bounties upon you and upon the rest of his creation. For, Alhamdulillah is the best way of thanking Allah for all that he has given you.

65. Allah’s promise to people in the Qur’an is: “Thank me and I will give you more!”

Fear and Love God!

66. Fear Allah the way he should be feared – or to the best of your ability.

67. Love Allah’s creation and his people the way you want everyone and everything to love you.

68. Throw yourself upon the infinite mercy of Allah at every stage of your work.

69. And then even as you are busy working diligently and conscientiously to achieve your goals and objectives in this world, pray to him every step of the way.

70. Keep him before you every moment and be mindful of his presence every second.

71. Say and do nothing that will displease him and cause him to turn away from you.

72. Now, write your own ticket, for as you pray, so shall it come to pass.

73. That is a prayer worth praying, and that is a prayer that will not fail.

74. Except that when you reach that stage of closeness to God Almighty, you may discover that you really do not have much to pray for – except to utter his praises all the time, and to glorify his holy name, and to beg him to have mercy on you and to grant you his pleasure and grace.

75. So, these are some of the reasons why many of our prayers don’t seem to produce visible effect. In our uncaring hands, and in our cold, cruel and hardened hearts, they have become imitations, mockeries and parodies of the real thing.

Will Your Car Work that Way?

76. Praying, whether for your own personal benefit or for improvement in your community and society, without suitable action to accompany, precede or follow your prayer, is like sitting around and praying for your car to start – all by itself, without your opening the car door, inserting the key in the ignition and turning it.

77. It is like praying for your groceries to arrive from the store and stock up in your pantry – all by themselves, without your lifting a finger.

78. It is like praying for your children to show up at school on time, day after day, without your ever having to wake them up, wash them, dress them, feed them and drive them to school.

79. It is like praying for your kids to pass the final exams with flying colors without your ever helping them, preparing them, comforting them, encouraging them, getting them a tutor, making sure they have all the books they need or doing any of the million things responsible parents do to help their kids – kids who are in deep, deep trouble in every single one of their subjects.

80. In all these instances, you are either out of your mind or joking. Similarly, those individuals and communities who only pray and do nothing practical to help themselves and to improve their community and society, are also either out of their mind or joking.

81. At the same time, they are also guilty of the most serious kind of blasphemy of God Almighty.

82. Allah’s Deen – God Almighty’s law in this world – is action. That is the law of nature. That is how God Almighty designed his world: to be a world of cause and effect. In this world, as you sow, so shall you reap.

83. That means you first do all in your power to make all the good things happen and then you throw yourself at God Almighty’s mercy, begging and crying and praying to him to make those things happen.

Don’t Forget to Tie the Camel

84. God’s law – and his way, his Deen – in this world is tying the camel first.

85. A man came to the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and asked: “Should I tie my camel or should I just leave it and trust in God?”

The Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, replied: “First tie your camel and then trust in God.”

86. Therefore, if the question is should we act or pray, the answer is we must do both. We must pray as well as act. Because it is based on our actions that God answers our prayers.

Are You Praying to the Right God?

87. And then there is this all-important question of who are you praying to. In other words, what kind of a God do you have? Are you sure you are praying to the right God?

88. That is, who really is your God? Is he God, the Almighty, the one and only, the creator, the nourisher, the cherisher, the sustainer of this world and of all the other worlds that we know nothing about?

89. Or have you found a way to insert little pet gods of your own choice and making between you and him?

90. One reason why our prayers do not get answered is because we are praying to the wrong gods. We are knocking at the wrong doors.

91. You do not get a brand new wedding dress out of a vending machine, do you? Nor do you get a fully prepared five-course gourmet meal out of a Ramen noodle packet.

92. The fact is there is only one God – God the Almighty; the maker and master of the worlds; God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad; and God of all the prophets of God everywhere (may God bless them all).

93. God of the Old Testament; God of the New Testament; and God of the Qur’an.

94. That is the only God we must worship and pray to.

95. Praying to the pantheon of deities we set up in the exercise of our freedom of worship, belief and conscience does not change reality. It only makes things worse for us. It does not alter the fact that God is one and only one. And he alone deserves to be worshipped and prayed to.

96. God gave us the freedom of choice, and of worship, so that we will use it to recognize him and to come to him freely and of our own accord and free will. He did not give that freedom to us to use it to worship a donkey or a mouse or a munchkin or a hobgoblin or a bicycle tire.

97. Therefore, praying to our favorite donkey or mouse or munchkin god is not going to get the job done. It is not going to get our prayers answered.

98. What is more, it is blasphemy. It is an affront to God. And it is every reason why God should not accept our prayers, and instead put his curse upon us.

Life Means Responsibility and Action

99. Life as it is ordained by God Almighty for us on earth is responsibility and action both for ourselves and for others.

100. Our prayers, thus, must be backed up by an appropriate action plan. And that action plan has several components to it.

101. The first component of our action plan is people. That means the first thing we as a people need to do is to put the right people in power at all levels in our communities and societies and in our clubs and organizations.

102. The second thing we need to do is to hold those in power accountable and make sure they do their job.

We Are a Democracy

103. We are a democracy. That means our governments and leaders work for us and they are answerable to us.

104. From this point of view, the first and foremost duty of a government – any government anywhere at any time – is to protect its citizens: their lives and their properties.

105. In civilized and enlightened societies, governments are not instituted primarily to explain or rationalize crime or to counsel and comfort victims of crime, violence and lawlessness.

106. Governments are put in place primarily and essentially to ensure law and order; to secure peace and stability; and to guarantee proper protection to one and all.

107. Their job is to fight crime and stop it and to apprehend criminals and bring them to justice.

108. In fact, governments derive their legitimacy and their moral authority based on their will, determination and ability to protect and safeguard the lives and properties of their citizens.

Governments Must Protect Citizens

109. In any society, anywhere, we must hold the government of the day accountable for making sure that our people are not picked off and killed like flies or set upon and robbed and mugged by bandits and thugs.

110. And for making sure that our businesses are safe from looters, marauders, arsonists and pillagers.

111. And for making sure that our women are safe from those who would rape, assault, insult or otherwise abuse or dishonor them.

112. And for making sure that our entire population is protected from being murdered, robbed, mugged, raped or assaulted by anyone, anywhere.

113. And for making sure that those who break the law are pursued vigorously, apprehended swiftly and prosecuted to the fullest limit of the law.

114. And for making sure that all those who need a job in our society, are able to get one.

115. And for making sure that food items and other necessities are in plentiful supply.

116. And for making sure that prices of essential commodities and services stay stable and affordable to the ordinary citizens.

117. And for making sure our roads are free from traffic congestion and our commute time to and from work is made more manageable.

118. And for making sure our air and water quality is protected and enhanced.

119. And for making sure the government bureaucracy at all levels is diligent, efficient, enterprising and enthusiastic in the performance of its duties and altogether responsive to the needs of the people.

120. And for making sure the government provides ample remuneration for its bureaucrats, municipal workers, civil servants and law enforcements personnel for their hard work, including special recognition and reward in deserving cases of particularly meritorious service.

How Societies Fight Crime

121. Societies fight crime and lawlessness at a number of levels and using a variety of approaches. Things work best when all the crime-fighting approaches are used in concert.

122. Among them are the following:

(a) A strict law-and-order approach by the government.

(b) Effective anti-crime legislation by the lawmakers.

(c) National consensus on crime as a top priority.

(d) Moral suasion by moral and opinion leaders.

(e) Religious education, influence and mobilization.

(f) Economic support, opportunities and incentives.

(g) Educational reform.

(h) Broad-based civic consciousness, engagement and empowerment.

(i) Targeted and sustained media blitz.

123. We need to make sure that our government and our educational and vocational institutions provide adequate training to all those in our society who are in need of a job.

124. And we need to make sure that our environment and our forests are protected.

125. And we need to make sure that our air, water and our beaches are free from pollution.

126. And we need to hold our national and local governments accountable for making sure that our roads are free from murderous potholes.

127. We need to make sure the government provides our police all the training, tools and incentive they need for effective crime fighting.

128. We also need to call on our lawmakers of all parties to enact legislation that will give our government the effective instruments of law enforcement and crime control that it may need.

A Role for Opposition

129. The next thing for us to do is to hold the opposition parties and politicians accountable for their own role and contribution in promoting the overall safety, security and wellbeing of our people and their properties.

130. For, to be in opposition means not just to oppose and attack everything the government of the day does, but also to come up with creative and innovative ideas and initiatives for solving the problems that our people face.

131. The opposition parties and individuals must find ways of cooperating with the government of the day, whenever such cooperation is feasible, to find solutions to the host of problems our people face – from accelerating pollution and deforestation to illegal poaching of our animals.

132. The next thing for us to do is to hold the religious establishment at all levels accountable for their own role in making our society and culture better through education, preaching, organization, personal example, leadership and charitable work.

133. The next thing for us to do is to call on the business leadership in our community to shoulder their share of the responsibility for making our society safer and better.

134. The next thing for us to do is to call upon the media to play their own active and positive role in reducing crime and lawlessness in society, beyond the mere reporting of crime and selling of newspapers and airtime.

135. The next thing for us to do is to ask our teachers at different levels to do all they can to educate our young people about personal hygiene, safety, crime and overall civic engagement and responsibility.

136. The next thing for us to do is to call on all social and community organizations and clubs, such as the Rotary Club and others, to play an active role in making our society a better place for all of us.

137. The next thing for all of us to do is not to just sit around griping and complaining, but to become socially responsible, active, committed and engaged citizens. We must all become fully engaged Citizen Participants of the communities and societies in which we live.

138. In a truly enlightened and civilized society, citizens are fully engaged and empowered. They do everything in their power socially, politically, economically, educationally, religiously and otherwise to make the society better in every way they can.

139. That means we need to organize a neighborhood watch in every village, street, community, school, church, temple, mosque, business district, playground, park, beach, public space, hospital and government building.

140. That also means we need to train our people in quick response methods to crime reports.

141. That also means we need to train our people in ways of providing immediate assistance to victims of crime.

142. That also means we need to train our people in common sense methods of personal responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing.

143. While we are doing all this to reduce and control crime and lawlessness in society, let us not forget that crime is generally a creature of complex causes.

Micro and Macro Causes and Contributors of Crime

144. Some of those causes could be psychological in nature, while some of them could also be sociological, cultural, economic and political.

145. Thus, some of the causes for crime in a society are more micro-level causes. That is, they are more individual-level causes.

146. That means crime happens in a society because some individuals in that society have a problem.

147. And then there are also some other causes for crime and lawlessness in a society that are more macro-level causes. That is, they are more societal, institutional, structural or community-based causes.

148. That means crime and lawlessness prevail in a society because that society as a whole has a problem.

149. And those problems could be economic, social, political, racial, religious or something else of that nature.

150. That could mean for example that the society lacks the political will and energy to control crime and lawlessness.

151. That also could mean that the society has a grossly unfair and unbalanced wealth generation and distribution system, in which the poor and the disadvantaged are systematically denied opportunity and resources for advancement and upward mobility.

The Islamic System of Zakat Addresses Economic Imbalances in Society

152. The Islamic economic system of Zakat, when properly implemented, provides an effective remedy to the gross inequities and misdistributions of wealth and resources in society.

153. The Islamic economic system also establishes clearly defined rights for the poor in the wealth and resources of the rich.

154. The Islamic economic and political systems mandate certain economic obligations for the poor, not just on rich individuals, but also on the government of the day.

155. But unfortunately Muslims in most places have ignored the economic system of Zakat that God mandated for them.

156. This has led to a lot of problems for both Muslims and non-Muslims. For, even though Muslims are the primary targets and beneficiaries of the Zakat system, its secondary and indirect benefits pervade the entire society.

157. Muslim or non-Muslim, a society as a whole stands to benefit economically and politically when a proper and effective Zakat system is operational in its midst.

158. A society that implements the Zakat system scrupulously and properly stands to gain tremendous spiritual benefits from it including a healthier physical, social, cultural and psychological environment.

159. Such a society will have a more sensitive, a more responsive and an altogether more efficient political environment.

160. Such a society will have a more balanced, vibrant, conducive and prosperous economic environment.

161. Such a society will experience less crime and corruption as compared to societies that are not familiar with the Zakat system or do not implement it fully or faithfully.

162. Overall, abandonment of an active and effective Zakat system on the part of the Muslims has deprived the society of a great deal of blessings from God Almighty.

163. Sometimes problems arise in a society because the society is divided and stratified along racial or religious, or along some other arbitrary lines of that kind, and the perks and advantageous of life also follow those same racial, ethnic and religious divisions and demarcations.

Societies without Opportunities

164. That means in a society where not enough opportunities exist for upward mobility for individuals, crime will often be a likely outcome.

165. A society of this kind will have either strong and aggressive law enforcement machinery or a weak and wobbly one.

166. Crime will take different forms and shapes depending on response from the forces of law and order.

167. In a society where some or many of these social ills prevail, it is not just crime that will be a problem.

168. Such a society will generate an overall culture in which there will be apathy, indifference and inertia on the part of many and tolerance and rationalization of crime and lawlessness on the part of the others.

169. In such a society, the citizenry will quickly learn the virtues of helplessness and spend its energies in useless talk rather than in useful action.

170. In such a society, other aspects of the society also will show signs of wear and tear and of general malfunction and deterioration.

171. These may include the infrastructure, the environment, the healthcare system, the labor force, the bureaucracy and the agricultural sector, to mention only a few examples.

172. A society like this may increasingly become a victim of brain drain and depletion and outflow of national wealth and resources.

173. Thus, when crime and lawlessness become rampant in a society, smart people would look at both the individuals in that society as well as at the social and institutional structures of that society for causes and explanations.

174. That is because, in many cases, at the root of crime lies not just individual failure or maladjustment but also institutional, cultural and societal malfunction.

Short-Term and Long-Term Solutions

175. Some of the solutions to the crime situation in our society are short-term solutions, while some others are more long-term solutions.

176. An effective police force and a cooperative citizenry generally take care of the short-term solutions to the crime situation.

177. Sustained education and serious social reform may be needed to address the crime and other problems on a long-term basis.

178. That means if we are serious about finding long-term solutions to crime and lawlessness in our society, we need to work tirelessly to reduce poverty in our society.

179. We also need to educate the poor and teach them the skills they need to survive succeed and advance in society.

180. And to improve their condition and provide them help, counseling and support at a number of different levels.

181. And to give them hope and opportunity for a better life and better future.

182. That also means we need to work equally tirelessly to improve the social, political, cultural, religious, economic and racial aspects of our life in our society.

183. Thus, we need to do all sorts of practical things at the personal, social, political, economic and cultural levels, if our prayers are to work and produce the results we want of them.

184. Prayers are thus not a substitute for action. They are not a substitute for individual action. And they are not a substitute for more macro action at the level of the society and its institutions, structures and organizations.

185. Prayers certainly are not a license for inaction. They are not an invitation for us to sit around and complain and do nothing.

186. To pray and not to back up our prayers with appropriate personal and social action is like playing tennis without a racket or playing cricket or baseball without a bat.

187. It is like driving a car without wheels and without an engine.

188. It is like swimming with your hands and feet tied.

189. It is not that God cannot still give you the things you are praying for. He surely can – and often does.

190. But it is just that you are not doing the things he asked you to do. You are being rude, arrogant, foolish and disobedient. You are defying his commands.

191. You are not backing up your prayers with appropriate action at your own individual level as well as at broader community and societal levels.

192. You simply are not being a good slave of God Almighty, who is your true maker and master, and who is also the maker and master of all the worlds.

193. So, instead of doing the simple things he asked you to do, and often doing the opposite of what he asked you to do, you run off to him at every opportunity you get and start laying out demands on him.

Don’t Order God, Beg Him!

194. In addition, you sometimes talk to him as if you are ordering him around and telling him what to do and not begging him and pleading with him.

195. And then you are so quick to complain when you think he has not done what you told him to do.

196. At every opportunity, you run off to complain about him – who has given you everything you have – to those who have given you nothing and who have absolutely no power to give you anything.

197. And then some of you are even so rude, foolish, arrogant and audacious as to run around cursing him and saying the nastiest things about him when you in your mind do not get your wish and your way.

198. But in spite of all these things, do prayers work?

199. Yes, they do, absolutely, positively.

200. Will your prayers work then?

201. Yes, they will, absolutely, positively – God willing.

God’s Doors Are Always Open

202. For, no one is barred from coming to God and talking to him – directly and without an intercessor or an intermediary.

203. God Almighty’s doors are open to everyone all the time.

204. That is one of the greatest contributions of Islam to human liberty and dignity and to human civilization and culture in general.

205. For, Islam removes all barriers between God and human beings and puts human beings – all human beings, among them the worst sinners and offenders – directly in touch with God Almighty.

206. Naturally, the first thing sinners and offenders would talk to God about are their sins and their offenses. They would apologize and repent for their million omissions and commissions. They would beg him to forgive their sins.

207. They would then pledge not to repeat those sins and offenses in future.

208. They would then lay out before him their needs and requirements. They would beg and plead and beg and plead and beg and plead some more.

Here Is What to Do!

209. Here is some of what such people would do – people who are really serious about having God Almighty listen to their prayers and supplications:

a. Turn to God Almighty and to him alone and leave the baggage behind.

b. Take a good look at your life, inside and out – the condition of your body as well as your mind and soul. Clean them up.

c. Repent of whatever you have been doing overtly – all the Haram and forbidden stuff – including the eating of pig, consumption of alcohol and engaging in backbiting and illicit sex.

d. Repent of whatever you have been piling up inside of you – all that jealousy, envy, greed, hate, malice, self-centeredness and contempt for others that you have raked up over the years.

e. Take every individual and organized collective action allowed by law to set right the conditions in your own community and in the society at large.

f. Use your powers of speaking, writing and persuasion to change what you believe must be changed in your community and your society.

g. Should you be entirely and utterly incapable of acting at either of those fronts, then sit down and shed copious tears, in the silence of your own heart, at the terrible mess you see around you and at your own helplessness in doing anything about it.

h. And in doing so, consciously and deliberately reject and resent in your heart the mess that you see around you and distance yourself from it – in your mind, in your thoughts and beliefs, in your feelings and emotions, and in your actions and behavior.

i. Now then is the time for you to pray. And here is how you do it.

Pour Out Your Pain to God!

j. Turn to God Almighty and pour out your pain to him. Tell him how much you hurt – and he knows.

k. Tell him how helpless you are to do anything – and he knows.

l. Tell him how you are sorry for all the things you did in the past that you should not have done – and he knows.

m. Tell him how you are now ready to turn a new page – and he knows.

n. And then beg him to show mercy.

o. And do so with hot, burning tears flowing down your cheeks and your chest.

p. Cry. Cry. Cry some more. Let your heart break into a billion bits and burst out through your eyes.

Sob like a Baby!

q. Sob like a baby. And beg some more.

r. Don’t order him, as if you were the master. Instead, beg him like the slave you are.

s. Let your tears, your tone of voice, your body posture, all show and speak that you indeed are looking and acting like a beggar.

t. And then wait, like a beggar, with uplifted hands and wide parted mouth, with teeth showing, face contorted and body atremble.

u. Wait in abject humility and surrender before someone who has all the power, of which you have not an iota.

Act like the Slave You Are!

v. Act like the slave that you really are. In front of the master that he really is. The real and only master there ever was or is. The real and only master and God a human being should ever have.

w. And then look out. Maybe those raindrops are the sky showering blessings upon you, giving you the good news. Maybe your voice has been heard.

x. Maybe the One, the Only One, up above in the sky, liked your style, your language, your utter humility, your abject surrender, your pathetic pleading. And then his ever-flowing mercy came to the fore and said: Let this slave of mine have what he or she wants.

y. You have won the day. Your petition is granted. Your prayer is accepted.

z. Now get up and allow yourself a smile fit for the most abject of slaves in front of the most powerful of all masters on how you caught the crumb he threw in your direction.

Go Out and Change the World!

aa. Get out and get busy changing the world of the master for the better – the plantation earth that he created for you to work and to enjoy and to be accountable for.

bb. Get busy doing the job you should have been doing all along.

The job for the doing of which he created you in the first place.

cc. The job for the not doing of which he punished you by not listening to your prayers earlier.

dd. And at the same time get busy cleaning your own personal life of all the mess that should not have been there in the first place.

ee. Do everything in your power to make sure you do not burn the bridges you have just built to your master or blow the break you have just received from him.

Rejoice!

ff. Rejoice! For, you are now a man or woman of God. God now is on your side. And you are on God’s side.

gg. You have become God’s instrument in this world. He is now the eyes with which you see – so make sure you see no evil.

hh. He is now the ears with which you hear – so make sure you hear no evil.

ii. He is now the hand with which you hold – so make sure your hands touch nothing that he made unlawful.

jj. He is now the feet with which you walk – so make sure your feet do not take you where he would not like to see you.

kk. You are now in God’s protection and Satan is sorely disappointed in you.

ll. You are now dead to the world, and the world is dead to you, as you are no longer its slave or a prisoner of its seductions and charms.

Living with God

mm. But in reality you live on in God. And you will live on even after you die. And the world will find life through you.

nn. Now when you speak, you will speak with the voice of God.

oo. Now when you pray, the heavens and earth will rush to do your bidding. From now on, as you say, so shall it be.

pp. For, you are now on God’s side and God Almighty is now on your side.

qq. So, do prayers work? Yes, prayers work! Absolutely, positively! Indeed they do!

rr. Do they work for everyone? Yes, they do.

Call Me and I Shall Respond, Says God in the Qur’an

ss. That is God Almighty’s promise in the Qur’an. “Call me and I shall respond!” That is what he says in the Qur’an.

tt. Here is also what he says in the Qur’an: I am close enough to hear your supplications

uu. Think of me and I shall think of you, he says in the Qur’an.

Talk about Me and I Shall Talk about You, Says God in the Qur’an

vv. Talk about me and I shall talk about you, he says in the Qur’an.

ww. So, let us all clean up our act and call him.

xx. Let us all shape up and think and talk about him.

yy. And let us all turn to him in supplication – for ourselves, for our parents, for our families, for our teachers, for our neighbors, for our benefactors, for all those who have done us a good turn, for our communities and for our societies.

zz. And for the whole world – a wretched, miserable, misguided world, so hell-bent on running away from his mercy and on destroying itself in every pernicious, perfidious, wicked, ingrate, atrocious and insane way it can lay its hands on.

aaa. At the same time, let us also do what he put us on earth to do in the first place: To act to make this world and this earth a better place for all!

bbb. To be the managers, guardians and custodians of our earthly abode.

ccc. In his name and using his laws and guidance.

ddd. And using the teachings of his prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus and, finally, Muhammad – May Almighty Allah bless them all.

And while you are at it, please do not forget me, my parents, my teachers and my ancestors in your prayers.

Thank you and God bless you.

Yours prayerfully,

Dr. Pasha, Ph.D.

P.S. Do bear in mind that our manuscripts are mostly drafts in need of further research and revision which we are often unable to undertake or complete due to time and resource constraints.

END

(Revised)

© 2005 Syed Husain Pasha

Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional 
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at] 
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.