- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Find Solution in Prayer
For today I have chosen to speak on a hadith about the Prophet of Islam: “Whenever the Prophet faced any matter, or grave matter, he would offer Namaz.” I thought to myself why did the Prophet pray to God when he faced any issue? I found the answer in another hadith which says: “Al-dua huwa al-ibadah” and "Al-dua umm al-ibadah." That is, dua (prayer) is ibadat (worship) and ibadat is dua. From this I understood that everything is in God’s hands, both big and small. If we pray, we present our entreaty to God Almighty. We are praying to Him: “We are Your servants. Fulfill our need!” Although a scientific mind will not accept that if one is faced with a problem, one should pray. Prayer is not like pressing a ‘touch button’: if you pray, an angel will come, press a button and fulfill your need. No this is not true. Rather, prayer means that your mind will begin to work, it will start thinking and your mind will be triggered. The mind of a person has enormous capacity. If it is triggered, it will open up and one will start thinking. This is same as: ‘Think, think, think, there must be a better way!’ You may find a better solution by thinking. Prayer is thus not to press a magic touch button but to trigger or open up your mind. When a person thinks like this, I am convinced, his mind will surely open up. I will end my talk with these words and invite you to share what you have in mind. We all will think jointly in an interactive session and God-willing new realities will open up to us.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan Question and Answer Session Q1. How did the Prophet pray when he was faced with an issue? A1. There are many incidents in the Prophet’s life when he faced an issue, he stood up to offer Namaz. I believe that in Namaz, a person can focus and think. There are many such incidents in the Prophet’s life. For example, when the Prophet was going to Makkah from Madinah for umrah with his Companions, the Prophet’s rival group blocked the way of the Muslims. They said that the Muslims had been expelled from Makkah and so would not allow re-entry to it nor to perform umrah. This has not been written down in books on Sirah, but surely the Prophet must have prayed to God and offered Namaz to find a way out. Then I think the Prophet received guidance to not confront, rather to avoid confrontation. That is, he was guided to buy time and think further. The Prophet must have surely thought because later he decided to not go to Makkah and to perform umrah next year. In this way, instead of confronting directly with the opponents, he decided to come later. This one-year period was very necessary for the Prophet to think. Subsequently, history tells us that the Prophet’s ways were opened up and he found new ways for work which were very precious for him. So, I believe this was an example of ‘buying time’. People tend to think of matters mysteriously, but I think everything should be reasoned out. This helps in clarifying matters. Q2. Many people say that there is a special time for acceptance of prayer. How to pray so that it is accepted by God? A2. This concept is incorrect. Whenever you feel your heart is softened and you can pray to God with greater conviction, that is the right time for acceptance of prayer. One way of prayer is to perform Salatul Hajah or Istikhara. In my experience, both help in opening up ways. Q3. Please tell about Istikhara. A3. According to a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari: “Just as the Prophet taught us about the Quran, he also taught us Istikhara.” According to ulema, a person should offer Istikhara prayer at night. Istikhara means to seek goodness from God. After the Isha prayer, a person should offer two units of prayer as Istikhara (he should read al-inshirah and ) and pray at the end regarding his matter. Then he should sleep. He will either see a dream or find a solution to his matter in terms of a thought in his mind and heart. I have experienced myself that this helps in opening up ways. Q4. How to develop the ability to analyze a situation without getting emotional? A4. This is very important and is an indication of one’s maturity. The real importance is of sincerity. We must develop sincerity in ourselves. We should think sincerely. If we develop sincerity, we will automatically be able to control our emotions. We need to develop sincere thinking. Q5. What is sincere thinking? A5. Self-thinking and self-criticism are very important. We need to think objectively and give the blame to ourselves instead of giving the blame to others. The more a person does this, the more he will be able to develop this ability of sincere thinking. Q6. Can we discover God only by discovering our helplessness, or is there any other method? A6. I believe that without helplessness (ijz) we cannot contact God. The Quran says: “Wasjud waqtarib.” That is, “Prostrate and draw in nearness to God.” Sajdah leads to qurbat (nearness to God). And sajdah is the last extent of submission. So the more modest you are the more you will attain nearness to God. This is why the feeling of ijz (helplessness) is very essential. Q7. In Namaz, we only repeat the Quranic verses and focus on the words recited. Where is the option to think independently and to seek a God-oriented approach to the problem we are faced with? A7. A person has many capabilities including the ability of detached thinking. So, a person has enormous capacity. He must utilize this enormous capacity. Q8. What should we do to live in the greatness of God? A8. Everything depends upon tadabbur or contemplation. The more one contemplates, the more this trait of living in God’s greatness will emerge. There is no way other than doing contemplation. I do not believe in doing muraqabah and ways other than contemplation. Q9. What is the difference between muraqabah and tadabbur? A9. Muraqabah means to look inside oneself. Someone has termed it going inside oneself (andar yatra). Some believe that a person’s mind has enormous capacity. A poet has said: “Apne man mein jhank kar pa ja suragh-e-zindagi.” This means: “Look inside yourself and find the secrets of life.” The more you look inside, the more you will discover inner treasure. This is not scientific way of thinking. If one believes in this, then it is only a matter of personal experience. This is not similar to a scientific discipline. We cannot determine a method for it. A person should experience and discover about this matter on his own. I have been to many Sufis. After offering Isha prayer, these Sufis generally cover themselves in a sheet and think, during which they may have some experiences. Q10. When we face problem or crisis, we tend to look for external means to address the problem. We do not rely on divine power. Please guide how to divert our mind to God and engage ourselves in prayer when we face any crisis? A10. My experience is that when a person thinks deeply about God, he discovers many truths, in one way or another. He may see a dream or have divine inspiration. All this is very personal. I can say that I have personally had experiences about God’s guidance through dream or through inspiration, but I cannot give it the stature of science. It is my own personal experience. If anybody is interested, he can also experience. God does not have any scientific proof. I believe that there is scientific proof for God’s existence. I can say this about my own self. I cannot say that there is a mathematical method to prove God’s existence. What one discovers is personal. Q11. What is the role of dua in taqdir, or destiny? A11. This is not a matter of belief. We cannot say that dua can change destiny. But because it is part of hadith, we can say that if a person prays sincerely, God can change the decision about one’s destiny. But I have no scientific proof for this, although I believe in this. Q12. What is the importance of tahajjud? A12. Tahajjud is not anything mysterious. Tahajjud means to offer prayers in the nighttime when a person is free and focused. There is nothing mysterious about it. There is no fixed time also for tahajjud. Q13. What is the importance of realistic approach? How to develop it? A13. Such questions are very important, but they do not have an answer in terms of mathematical calculation. This question falls in the sphere of wijdan, or intuition.