The Trade of Worship
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The way Islam is taught in the mosques makes us merchant before Allah (s.w.t.): do this for a certain number of “rewards” and do that for a certain number of good deeds. This is the worship of beggars and ingrates. People are taught, for example, that sometimes Allah (s.w.t.) Answers supplications, sometimes, He rejects, and sometimes it is Delayed. That is a simplistic understanding of the Prophetic tradition, and not totally correct. Muslims should be taught the nature of supplication.
Firstly, Allah (s.w.t.) Says, in His Book:
سُوۡرَةُ المؤمن / غَافر
وَقَالَ رَبُّڪُمُ ٱدۡعُونِىٓ أَسۡتَجِبۡ لَكُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسۡتَكۡبِرُونَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِى سَيَدۡخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ (٦٠)
And your Lord Says, “Call on Me; I will Answer your (prayer) ...” (Surah Ghafir:60)
Therefore, we are Commanded to supplicate. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Man should call upon Allah Alone to Provide for all his needs, so much so that even if a shoe-lace is broken, he should pray to Allah to provide a shoe-lace, and if he needs salt, he should beseech Allah to Send it to him.”
Secondly, even the passing thought is a prayer, so as the Sufis say, beware the passing thought. Whatever is in the heart is Granted, and if it a good thought, there is benefit, and if it is not, then there is trial. So, we should never mention Him in vain, in a curse, even in jest.
Thirdly, Allah (s.w.t.) is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent. He is not in need of our asking for Him to Give. His Decree is Perfect and we are Given before we were Put in this world. Before we knew our need, our God already Knew.
Our asking in supplication is His Grace Bestowed upon us so that we recognise that He is the Generous, the Provider, the Sustainer. How much have we been Given and we did not ask, and because we did not ask, we are heedless of it? How many breaths? How many morsels? How many beats of the heart? If He did not want to give us, Allah (s.w.t.) would not even Grant us the ability to ask. What He has Reserved is His Sovereignty, His Decree on when a supplication Granted is apparent to the supplicant, for He is the Master of time. The “now” or “later” is irrelevant to Allah (s.w.t.). But its timing is always perfect. Shaykha Rabi’ah al-‘Adawiyyah al-Qaysiyyah al-Baswri (q.s.) admonished a jurist, “Do not knock on the door when the door was always open.” So, we supplicate as that is our duty. And as for the Granting, we let God be God and do not seek to interfere.