Date :Monday, January 14th, 2019 | Time : 03:52 |ID: 83510 | Print

Calling the Lord: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:186) / By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:186)

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Calling the Lord

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ ﴿١٨٦

Translation:

2:186 And when My servants ask you about Me, [tell them that] I am indeed very near; I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. So, they should (accept my invitation and) answer My call and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided.

Commentary:  The absence of attention to Allah (SWT) creates an artificial barrier between us and Him; consequently, we may perceive that Allah (SWT) is at a distance from us, and we might question whether He will hear our calls and prayers.

The Quran affirms that Allah (SWT) is closer to us than our jugular vein [(وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ), Qaf, 50:16]! He hears our prayers and answers our supplications. The translation of the verse is as follows:

O! Prophet, when My servants ask you about Me [(وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي)], tell them that I am indeed very near to them [(فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ)]. I would answer My servant’s prayers and supplications [(أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ)] when the servant calls upon Me [(إِذَا دَعَانِ)].

The verse is one the most comforting verses of the Quran. In essence, Allah (SWT) invites us to call upon Him; He assures us that He will answer our prayers and supplications when invoked. The verse continues to say: my servants should accept my invitation [(فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي)] with belief that I would answer their prayer [(وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي)]; perhaps with belief in Me, they may be rightly guided [(لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ)].

A similar message is echoed in chapter Ghafir, verse 60 wherein Allah (SWT) states: call Me [(ادْعُونِي)] and I will answer your prayer [(أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ)]. Indeed, those who are arrogant to worship Me [(إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي)] will enter Hell in disgrace [(سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ)]. This verse implies that calling Allah (SWT) earnestly and humbly is a state of servitude and those who abandon worship and renounce their servitude to Allah (SWT) will enter Hell in disgrace:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ ﴿٦٠

40:60 Your Lord says, ‘Call Me, and I will answer your (Prayer)!’ Indeed, those who are arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell in disgrace!”

The importance of prayer and supplication is more noticeable in chapter Al-Furqan, verse 77. Here, Allah (SWT) affirms that the only thing that makes us worthy in His sight is our prayers and supplications:

مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ … ﴿٧٧

25:77 My Lord would not care for you if not for your prayers to Him!

Will not care [مَا يَعْبَأُ] for you [بِكُمْ] if not [لَوْلَا]your prayer [دُعَاؤُكُمْ]

The importance of invocation is also evident in the narrations of the Prophet (SAWA) and his Ahlul-Bayt. For instance, the Prophet (SAWA) said [Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 468]:

الدُّعا سِلاحُ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَ عَمُودُ الدّینِ وَ نُورُ السَّماواتِ وَ الْارْضِ

Prayer is the armor of believer and the pillar of religion and the light of the heavens and the earth.

It is pertinent to add that an armor protects from injury on the battleground and enables one to fight back. Similar, prayers protect from harm and enables one to overcome the challenges of life.

Imam Sadiq (AS) in a narration said [Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 470]:

اَکْثِرْ مِنَ الدُّعا فَاِنَّهُ مِفْتاحُ کُلِّ رَحْمَة وَ نَجاحُ کُلِّ حاجَة وَ لا یَنالُ ما عِنْدَ اللّهِ اِلاّ بِالدُّعا وَ لَیْسَ بابٌ یُکْثَرُ قَرْعُهُ اِلاّ یُوشَکَ اَنْ یُفْتَحَ لِصاحِبِهِ

Make abundant prayer and insist on it. Indeed, prayers are the key to divine mercy and a means to overcome difficulties and challenges. There are divine blessings that cannot be reached without prayers. There is no door (problem) that cannot be opened (solved) with persistence and perseverance (prayers).

Imam Reza (AS) in a narration said: equip yourself with the armor of divine prophets. They asked him, what was the prophets’ armor? Imam (AS) replied: prayer [Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 468]:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِسِلَاحِ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ فَقِيلَ وَ مَا سِلَاحُ‏ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ قَالَ الدُّعَاءُ.

The Quran cites prayer and supplication of many divine messengers. For instance, the Quran mentions:

  1. Chapter Al-A’raf 7:23: The prayer of Adam and Eve after they ate forbidden fruit and were expelled from the garden
  2. Chapter Al-Anbiya 21:87-88: The prayer of Prophet Yunus (Jonah) when he was swallowed by a large fish
  3. Chapter Al-Anbiya 221:89-90: The prayer of Prophet Zechariah when he asked for a son
  4. Chapter Yusuf 12:101: The prayer of Prophet Yusuf when he invoked Allah (SWT) for the best outcome in his affairs, etc.

In general, the Quran stresses reflection and supplication as tools of ascension towards Allah (SWT).

Allah’s promise is the truth and no word is truer than the word of Allah (SWT) [(وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقًّا ۚ وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ قِيلًا)]. Why do our prayers, such as praying for health, wealth, a dream job, house, etc., not get answered the way we want them to sometimes?

Let’s pause and reflect on the cited verses of the Quran. For instance, in Chapter Ghafir, verse 60, Allah (SWT) says call Me [(ادْعُونِي)] and I will answer your prayer [(أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ)]. For sure He will answer our prayer. But He did not say when and how the divine answer to our prayer will be manifested. The following examples from the Quran substantiate the aforementioned interpretation:

Prophet Ya’qub (AS) prayed to Allah (SWT) for 40 years until the answer to his call was manifested and eventually, he was reunited with his son. However, he never became hopeless from the mercy of Allah (SWT) [(وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّـهِ), Yusuf 12:87]. Prophet Ya’qub (AS) persistently prayed until his prayer was answered.

The mother of Maryam (AS) prayed for a son while she was pregnant, so that her child could serve a house of worship. But, Allah (SWT) granted her a noble daughter by the name of Maryam (AS), and she became the mother of Prophet Isa (AS).

Prophet Noah (AS) invoked Allah (SWT) to save his disbelieving son during the Flood. Allah (SWT) answered his prayer – but not in the way Noah (AS) expected. Allah (SWT) let the son drown. Saving the son was not in the interest of Prophet Noah (AS). If God saved the son for the sake of Prophet Noah (AS), perhaps the son would later claim that divine might could not defeat him.

The Prophet (SAWA) said that any Muslim who prays to Allah (SWT), which the prayer is not about sin or severing family relations, Allah will grant him one of three things: either He will speedily answer his prayer the way he wants it, He will reward him in the Hereafter, or He will avert an evil from him equal to the value of his supplications [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 93, P 366, narration 16]:

ما مِنْ مُسْلِم يَدْعُو بِدَعْوَة لَيْسَ فيها اِثْمٌ وَ لا قَطيعَةُ رَحِم اِلاّ اَعْطاهُ اللّهُ بِها إحدى ثَلاث: اِمّا اَنْ يُعَّجِلَ دَعْوَتَهُ وِ اِمّا اَنْ يُدَّخِرَها لَهُ فِى الآخِرَةِ وَ اِمّا اَنْ يَكُفَّ عَنْهُ مِنَ الشَّرِ مِثْلَها

We may pray for things that are not in our best interest. For example, the prayer of Tha’laba ibn Hatib [(ثعلبة بن حاطب) has been mentioned in many references [Tafseer-e- Namoona, Vol.8, P.48]:

A companion of the Prophet with the name of Tha’laba ibn Hatib [(ثعلبة بن حاطب) was a poor man. He used to come to the masjid and repeatedly asked the Prophet (SAWA) to pray that Allah (SWT) bestow him abundant wealth. The Prophet (SAWA) advised him:

قَلِيلٌ‏ تُؤَدِّي‏ شُكْرَهُ‏ خَيْرٌ مِنْ كَثِيرٍ لَا تُطِيقُهُ‏

Little wealth that you could be grateful for it is better than an immense wealth that you would not be able to pay its rightful dues.

However, he insisted and made the oath that if Allah (SWT) give him wealth, he would pay all his rightful dues; the Prophet inevitably prayed for him.

Shortly after that, he inherited his cousin’s wealth and owned numerous livestock in the outskirts of Medina. When, the Prophet (SAWA) sent an agent to collect his Zakat, he questioned the principle of Zakat and refused to pay from his wealth the rightful dues. The following verses of chapter At-Tawba were revealed in condemning his act:

وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ عَاهَدَ اللَّـهَ لَئِنْ آتَانَا مِن فَضْلِهِ لَنَصَّدَّقَنَّ وَلَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿٧٥﴾ فَلَمَّا آتَاهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ بَخِلُوا بِهِ وَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ ﴿٧٦

9:75-76 Some of them made a covenant with Allah: “If Allah gives us out of His bounty, we will give alms and act righteously.” Then, when He gave them out of His bounty, they grew niggardly and turned their backs (upon their covenant).

Sometimes there can be a delay in answering our prayer for our own good. For example, let’s consider a child asks for a toy from his parents. A caring parent waits for an appropriate time before giving the toy to their child, after exams for instance Similarly, Allah (SWT) sometimes delays answering our prayer until a more appropriate time. In the supplication of Iftitah from the 12th Imam (AS), we read:

فَإنْ أَبْطَأ عَنِّي عَتَبْتُ بِجَهْلِي عَلَيْكَ، وَلَعَلَّ الَّذِي أَبْطَأَ عَنِّي هُوَ خَيْرٌ لِي لِعِلْمِكَ بِعَاقِبَةِ الأُمُورِ،

A temporary setback (in answering my prayer) and I, out of ignorance, begin to despair, although perhaps delaying (in answering my prayer) was a blessing in disguise, because You alone know (all) the consequences.

Allah (SWT) answers our prayers the way and at the time that He chooses. If Allah (SWT) wants to answer our supplications the way we expect, the universe will cease to function as it has been designed. Allah (SWT) in chapter Al-Mu’minun 23:71 states:

وَلَوِ اتَّبَعَ الْحَقُّ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ لَفَسَدَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ….. ﴿٧١

23: 71 Were the Truth to follow their desires, the order of the heavens and the earth and those who dwell in them would have been ruined…

There is an ancient story with two brothers; one was a farmer and the other one was a potter. The farmer planted seeds and prayed for rain and the potter made fresh pottery and prayed for sun.

Lastly, sin and divine disobedience hinder prayers. In the supplication of Kumayl, one asks:

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتِي تَحْبِسُ الدُّعَاءَ

O Allah, forgive me those sins which hold back supplication.

In conclusion, prayer and sincere supplications bring us close to Allah (SWT) and He will answer all prayers at appropriate time. The Quran encourages everyone to pray and those who refuse to pray will enter Hell in disgrace.

Word-for-Word Translation:

2:186 [وَإِذَا] And when [سَأَلَكَ] ask you [عِبَادِي] my servants [عَنِّي] about me, [فَإِنِّي] then indeed I am [قَرِيبٌ] near. [أُجِيبُ] I respond [دَعْوَةَ] to the invocation [الدَّاعِ] of the supplicant [إِذَا] when [دَعَانِ] he calls me. [فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا] so they should respond [لِي] to Me [وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا] and believe [بِي] in Me [لَعَلَّهُمْ] so that [يَرْشُدُونَ] they may rightly guided

Appendix:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ ۖ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ ﴿١٦

50:16 Certainly We have created man and We know to what his soul tempts him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.

قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ ﴿٢٣

7:23 They said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves! If You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.’

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٨٧﴾ فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْغَمِّ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُنجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٨٨

21:87-88 And [remember] the Man of the Fish, when he left in a rage, thinking that We would not put him to hardship. Then he cried out in the darkness, ‘There is no god except You! You are immaculate! I have indeed been among the wrongdoers!’ So We answered his prayer and delivered him from the agony; and thus do We deliver the faithful.

وَزَكَرِيَّا إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرْنِي فَرْدًا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الْوَارِثِينَ ﴿٨٩﴾ فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ يَحْيَىٰ وَأَصْلَحْنَا لَهُ زَوْجَهُ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ ﴿٩٠

21:89-90 And [remember] Zechariah, when he cried out to his Lord, ‘My Lord! Do not leave me without an heir, and You are the best of inheritors.’ So We answered his prayer, and gave him John, and cured for him his wife [of infertility]. Indeed, they were active in [performing] good works, and they would supplicate Us with eagerness and awe and were humble before Us.

رَبِّ قَدْ آتَيْتَنِي مِنَ الْمُلْكِ وَعَلَّمْتَنِي مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ ۚ فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَنتَ وَلِيِّي فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ ﴿١٠١

12:101 ‘My Lord! You have granted me a share in the kingdom, and taught me the interpretation of dreams. Originator of the heavens and earth! You are my guardian in this world and the Hereafter! Let my death be in submission [to You], and unite me with the Righteous.’

There is a narration from Imam Sadaq (AS) who said that, [Al-Kafi, Vol. 4, P. 344]:

كافي (ط – دار الحديث) / ج‏4 / 344 / 19 – باب من أبطأت عليه الإجابة ….. ص : 342

عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ، قَالَ: «إِنَ‏ الْعَبْدَ لَيَدْعُو، فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ- عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ- لِلْمَلَكَيْنِ: قَدِ اسْتَجَبْتُ لَهُ، وَ لكِنِ احْبِسُوهُ بِحَاجَتِهِ؛ فَإِنِّي أُحِبُّ أَنْ أَسْمَعَ صَوْتَهُ؛ وَ إِنَ‏ الْعَبْدَ لَيَدْعُو، فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَ تَعَالى‏: عَجِّلُوا لَهُ حَاجَتَهُ؛ فَإِنِّي أُبْغِضُ صَوْتَهُ».

When a servant prays, Allah (SWT) tells His angels, I have answered his , to the two angels (who are in charge of man or two other angels): I prayed him so much, but kept him, because I would love to hear his voice.

قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ ﴿٤٦

11:46 His Lord replied, “He is not one of your family. He is a man of unrighteous deeds. Do not ask me about that which you have no knowledge. I advise you not to become an ignorant person.”

Tha’laba ibn Hatib made mistake what was good for him. The Quran in chapter Al-Baqara states we may detest things that are good and like things that are bad for us:

… وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٢١٦

2:216 … it may be that you dislike a thing and the same is good for you, and you love a thing and the same is bad for you: Allah knows but you do not.

 

 

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