The purpose of keeping a vigil is to pray, to supplicate and to engage in dhikr. Daily prayers too – which are one of the mustahab acts during the Nights of Qadr – are in fact the manifestation of dua and dhikr. It has been said in a narration that “Praying is the brains of worshipping” [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 90, page 300]. The brains of worshipping – or as is common among us, the soul of worshipping – is praying. What does praying mean? It means speaking to Allah the Exalted. In fact, it means feeling God close to ourselves and opening up our hearts to Him. Prayers either include a request, a word of praise or an expression of one’s kindness and respect. All these things form prayers. Praying is one of the most important acts that a believing servant of God and a person who wishes to achieve salvation and bliss performs. Praying has such a role in purifying our souls.
What are the achievements of praying? When we speak to God, we feel Him close to us, we consider Him to be our addressee and we talk to Him. These achievements are among the advantages and products of praying. Keeping God alive in our heart will wipe out ignorance which is the mother of all deviations, digressions and corruptions for humans. So, praying wipes out ignorance from our hearts, it helps us to remember God and to keep His remembrance alive in our hearts. The greatest loss that those who deprive themselves of praying make is that God’s remembrance will disappear from their hearts. Forgetting and ignoring Allah the Exalted is very damaging to humans. In the Holy Quran, there are several ayahs in this regard and many things can be discussed on this matter.
The second achievement of praying is the reinforcement and establishment of faith in one’s heart. The characteristic of praying is that it stabilizes and establishes faith in one’s heart. Faith can be dwindled in the face of different events in the world, difficulties, pleasures, joys and different states that might occur to individuals. It is in the danger of destruction in the face of such things. You know people who used to have faith, but in the face of material wealth, power, physical pleasures and mental lusts, their faith was lost. This is wavering and unstable faith. One of the characteristics of praying is that it establishes and stabilizes faith in our hearts, thus minimizing the danger of losing faith. This is achieved through praying and paying attention – in a continuous manner – to Allah the Exalted.
The third achievement of praying is that it breathes the spirit of sincerity in us. Speaking to God and finding ourselves close to Him gives us a spirit of sincerity. Sincerity means carrying out tasks for the sake of God. All tasks can be carried out for the sake of God. God’s good servants carry out all their ordinary and daily affairs with the intention of getting close to God. They have the capability to do so. There are some people who cannot carry out the easiest and most basic religious tasks – such as performing daily prayers – for the sake of God. Lack of sincerity is a great disaster for humans. Praying breathes the spirit of sincerity in humans.
The fourth achievement of praying is edifying ourselves and growing moral virtues in our hearts and souls. By paying attention to God and by speaking to Allah the Exalted, you can strengthen moral virtues in yourselves. This is the normal and natural characteristic of getting close to God. Therefore, praying is a ladder to our transcendence towards perfection. Similarly, praying washes away immoral qualities and traits from us. It drives away greed, arrogance, egotism, enmity towards’ God’s servants, weakness, cowardice and lack of insight from individuals.
The fifth achievement of praying is engendering kindness towards Allah the Exalted. Praying revives love of Allah the Exalted in our hearts. The manifestation of all beauties and good things is the Holy Existence of God. Praying, getting close to Allah the Exalted and speaking to Him engender such kindness in one’s heart.
The sixth achievement of praying is breathing the spirit of hope in individuals. Praying gives us a power of resistance in the face of challenges in life. Anyone faces certain incidents and challenges throughout their life. Praying gives us power and capability and it strengthens us in the face of different events. This is why praying has been described as a weapon in a narration. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) has been quoted as saying, “Do you want me to introduce to you a weapon that saves you from your enemies?” He says that he will introduce a weapon that is a source of liberation for humans: “Pray to your God day and night because the believers’ weapon is praying” [Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 90, page 295].
In the face of different events, paying attention to Allah the Exalted is like a sharp weapon in the hands of a believer. In the arena of war, the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.w.a.) used to carry out all necessary tasks: he used to organize the army, put soldiers in their formation, give them the necessary tools and instruments, offer them words of advice and do his commanding duties, but at the same time, he used to kneel in the center of the arena, engage in supplication, speak to Allah the Exalted and ask Him for different things. Such a relationship with God strengthens one’s heart.
Another achievement of praying is that one’s needs and requests are fulfilled. One of the achievements of praying is that when we make requests before Allah the Exalted, He fulfils them. Of course, this is not the only characteristic of praying. This is only one among the many characteristics of praying. The Holy Quran says, “Ask Allah of His grace” [The Holy Quran, 4: 32]. You should ask Allah the Exalted for the things that you need.
In Dua Abu Hamza al-Thumali, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has been quoted as saying, “My Lord, it is not in Your Nature to order people to make requests and then to deny those requests. Indeed, You are very Generous when it comes to bestowing blessings on the servants of Your dominion.” It is not possible that You order Your servants to make requests from You, but You decide not to fulfill them. When Allah the Exalted orders us to make requests from Him, this means that He wants to give us what we want. There is a narration that says, “It is not the case that God opens the gate of gratitude for His servants and then closes the gate of increasing His blessings. And Allah is too generous to do that.”
Oct 21, 2005