On many occasions, especially during periods of intense distress, we turn to our Lord and appeal passionately to Him for relief. We know that nobody else can help us. If a person, for example, suffers from some kind of chronic illness, that person knows that his/her only help can come from his/her Lord. We have come across so many examples of people who have undergone what we call miraculous cures after intensive worship. Whether we believe this or not, is not the problem. I am talking about the fact that when we are at our most weak and at our most distressed, we call on Allah (ﷻ) for help. It is almost a natural reaction to our state of affairs.
You see, we do not always look at things properly. We are believers. We say so but the “prime source” of assistance for us, we tend to ignore. We know that if Allah (ﷻ) accepts our prayers, then all our problems would be solved. But we cannot always handle that. We feel an incompetence and a helplessness at a time when we should in fact be engaged in intense calling, not because of hopelessness, but because of hope; hope in our Lord.
For some reason or other, many people ask me to call on our Lord on their behalf. Perhaps this is because of my age. If I had no hope with regard to my Lord, I would not call; in fact, I would not be able to call. The reason we call on Him, is not only because we turn to Him for assistance under all circumstances, but also because of our deep faith that His Responses to our calls are always positive. There is no denying this. Believers must have extremely shallow faith if they call on their Lord and believe that their Lord will not respond positively to them. In the same way, when one is requested to call on one’s Lord on behalf of somebody else, there is in one the intense belief that that call would be answered positively. It cannot be otherwise. Sometimes we think that one is best able to “engage” one’s Lord when one’s helplessness is so intense that one is unable to turn anywhere else. Although one should not do this. One should call on one’s Lord under all circumstances and at all times. We know that just too well. But on many occasions when one calls out: “O my Lord”, or go into prostration and call out: “O my Lord”, or raises one’s hands to the heavens and call out: “O my Lord”; all of these are expressions of desperation. I do not think that there is anything wrong when one calls on one’s Lord in a moment of desperation. Of course, it should not be like this. But I think that at that moment when one does that, there is the realization in one that with regard to all others or all other matters, one is beyond help. And when one is beyond help, as one thinks, like a drowning man, we call out “O my Lord”. There is much discussion on the kinds of calls we can make. Some scholars say, for example, that one cannot call for additional rizik, for additional sustenance, because it has already been planned; or to call for longer life, because it has already been determined. I do not know. I do not place any limitation on the nature of my Lord’s Decrees, or what He can do with regard to those Decrees, or how a supplication can impact on that Decree. If supplications cannot impact on decree, then such supplications or even all supplications would be of no value. Just as our Lord is in charge of all Decrees and how such Decrees operate, so He is also in charge of all our supplications and how they operate. We do not know or even understand the workings of our Lord. We do not understand how our Lord can change or ease a Decree in response to a supplication. So we must be careful what we say.
It is true that when the foetus is in the womb, after a period of 120 days, the angel records in that womb that person’s sustenance from birth to death. But it is equally true that in response to a supplication, which was also decreed, Allah (ﷻ) might change the quality or the amount of that sustenance. You see, we must believe that Allah (ﷻ) is in charge of all affairs: how they originate, how they play themselves out, how they may end, and the variety of consequences that come out of all of these. Our problem as human beings is that we tend to make statements or pass judgements on the affairs of our Lord, of which we know very little. You can say that Allah (ﷻ) has provided us with accounts of many of these affairs. In the Holy Scriptures and in the Prophetic Traditions, that is true. But recognizing the operation of a fact in the creative process does not mean that we understand how that fact works and how the creative process works. We know, for example, that after the foetus has reached the age of 120 days, Allah (ﷻ) sends an angel to that foetus with the new soul which is inserted into the new human being. We know this, but we haven’t the foggiest idea of how the processes of transference work. We have no understanding and no knowledge of how the angel places a soul into that new human being. This is the case of many of the processes that operate in creation. Many scholars have tried to explain these processes but in most cases, unless they have received special inspiration on the matter, they are talking about matters they do not understand.
I want to come to the role of inspiration in understanding some of the workings of our Lord. You see, I have a strong belief that Allah (ﷻ) clarifies certain matters to some of His special servants by providing them with special inspirations. Then they are able to explain matters; the explanations of which are not found in “books”. Many individuals throughout the long course of human history have been inspired in this way. I am not talking about revelation, because that is for the Prophets (a.s.). I am talking about other explanations of matters that Allah (ﷻ) places in the hearts of His special servants; most probably primarily in the hearts of those who have special authorized standing by Him. I think it works this way, and then one finds that one is able to explain matters in the most unique way. But this is the operation of matters generally beyond our knowledge. Many times I have thought of how Allah (ﷻ) granted Sayyiduna Khidr (r.a.) an explanation of matters, what we call internal knowledge, which He had not granted His Messenger, Nabi Musa (a.s.), as we know. So it is difficult to make rules about matters that are not our concern or that are not meant for us. This is perhaps the reason why the intensely pious are seldom understood. They carry knowledge of matters that they had received through inspiration.
We must ask Allah (ﷻ) to make us of those special servants to whom He sends special explanations of the Divine Word, amin.