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Not All Prayers Are Valid, nor Will They Be Granted

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Not All Prayers Are Valid, nor Will They Be Granted

 

Praying to God and asking Him to grant our needs and wishes is one of the greatest acts of worship. It is a beloved act of worship to God and one that is greatly encouraged in the Quran and by the Messenger Muhammad. However, not all prayers are valid, nor will they necessarily be granted. In this blog, we will explore some of the reasons for this.

Invalid Prayers

There are a number of reasons which may cause prayers to be invalid including:

  1. Impermissible earnings – wealth which is not attained from pure means or earned by Islamically unlawful means.  The subsequent food, drink, and clothing we purchase with such wealth is one reason for our supplications being rejected.
  2. Making Impermissible Requests or asking for evil and harm to befall oneself or others  – praying to God and asking for something which displeases God is something which may be rejected. For example, asking to break our ties of family kinship.
  3. Sins – disobeying God can at times act like a barrier which prevents our prayers from being answered.
  4. Being Inattentive – the Messenger Muhammad informed us that God does not accept the prayers that come from a heedless heart.

How Prayers Are Granted

For the Muslim who is trying their best and sincerely prays to God, they will find an answer. However, the response may not necessarily be what they expect. The Messenger Muhammad informed us that God answers our prayers in one of three ways:

  1. God gives us what we ask for – this means that God accepted our prayers and gave us what we wanted in our lifetime.
  2. God does not grant us what we ask for, but instead gives us the reward of our supplication in the Hereafter. 
  3. God does not grant our prayer, but instead removes from us an equal harm that would have befallen us, making the prayer a form of protection.

Remember, God is All-Knowing and All-Wise. If God chooses to withhold something from us, it is due to Him knowing that it is not in our best interest. However, the prayers are not lost; the reward of those prayers will be preserved and other harms that we were unaware of will be removed from us.

Therefore, never despair from praying to God as often as you can. When the disciples of the Messenger Muhammad heard the three ways in which God responds to our prayers, they stated that they would pray even more. The Messenger Muhammad replied that God’s bounty will always be more than our prayers.

Pilgrimage Rites Connected to Abraham & His Family

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Many of the rites of pilgrimage are connected to Abraham and his family. Abraham was commanded to leave his baby son Ishmael, and Ishmael’s mother Hajar in the barren land of Mecca before it became a thriving city. Hajar was left with little provisions for herself and her son. In order to seek water, she ran between the two nearby hills of Safa and Marwah a number of times. This is where the pilgrimage rite of Sa’i, or the walking between the two hills comes from.

On her 7th circuit up the hills, Hajar saw water by where she had left Ishmael. Fearing the water would run out, she built a small mound around it to contain it. This is the well of Zamzam. This water is considered blessed and pilgrims will drink from this water throughout their stay in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Ishamel and Hajar would settle in this city and other people would come and join them. When Ishmael was a young boy, Abraham saw a dream that he should offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham informed Ishmael of this, and together they walked the short distance to Mina, the place where pilgrims today spend much of their pilgrimage. On his way, Satan appeared three times to Abraham to convince him to disobey God’s command. Each time, Abraham took small pebbles and threw them at Satan. This is why pilgrims stone the three pillars during the pilgrimage.

When Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, God informed him that he had passed the test, and instead replaced Ishmael with a ram. Today, pilgrims offer a similar sacrifice during their pilgrimage.

A number of years later, Abraham returned to Mecca. This time, God had commanded him to raise the foundations of the Ka’bah. Abraham asked Ishmael for his assistance. Together, they built the Ka’bah. Abraham proclaimed this as God’s house and a place of pilgrimage, and invited God’s faithful servants to come there for pilgrimage.

It is in response to this call from God, through Abraham, that millions of Muslims flock annually to the holy city of Mecca to perform this once-in-a-lifetime obligation of pilgrimage.

What is Pilgrimage?

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Pilgrimage is the term that denotes travelling to Mecca to worship at God’s house called the Ka’bah. There are two types of pilgrimage:

  1. The Minor Pilgrimage (‘Umrah) – this can be performed at any time of the year.

  2. The Major Pilgrimage (Hajj) – this is performed in the 12th lunar Islamic month on specific days.

It is possible to combine both pilgrimages in the same trip, as the minor one can be performed before the major one begins. However, both only become obligatory if someone has the physical ability and financial means to perform them. They are obligatory upon all able adult Muslims once in their lifetime.

Pilgrims dress in certain garments throughout the pilgrimage. This state known as ‘Ihram’ begins at a specific place outside of Mecca and prevents pilgrims from doing certain things which they can usually do, such as removing hair, clipping nails and applying perfume.

For the minor pilgrimage, there are three main components. The first is circumambulation of (going around) the Ka’bah for seven circuits in a counter-clockwise direction. Pilgrims start their circumambulation from the part of the Ka’bah that contains the Black Stone. Each walk around Ka’bah back to the Black Stone is considered one circuit. The second is walking between the two hills of Safa and Marwah, situated a short distance away from the Ka’bah, within the walls of the Grand Mosque. Walking from one hill to the other is one circuit. Seven such circuits are made. The final component of the minor pilgrimage is to trim your hair; men also have the option to shave their head.

The major pilgrimage lasts from 4-6 days and also entails visiting the Holy Sites close by the city of Mecca. These sites are called Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. The major pilgrimage begins on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. Pilgrims start off by spending that day in Mina. The following day they spend in Arafat, a place where the Messenger Muhammad gave a sermon and spent the day in supplication to God. On that evening, the pilgrims move to Muzdalifah where they rest for the night.

The third day of the pilgrimage consists of returning to Mina where the pilgrims throw small pebbles at the three pillars, offer an animal sacrifice, trim or shave their hair and then proceed to Mecca for circumambulation of the Ka’bah and the circuits between the hills of Safa and Marwah. They return back to Mina, and over the next couple of days will continue to stone the pillars and spend their day in general worship of God. The major pilgrimage is concluded with a final circumambulation of the Ka’bah.

Many pilgrims use the opportunity of the minor and major pilgrimages to also visit the city of Medina, where the Messenger Muhammad lived for 10 years and passed away. Offering prayers in the mosque there is very rewarding. The cities of Mecca and Medina also contain other religious and historical sites which can be visited.