Indeed I am near
Allah Almighty said in the Quran:
وَإِذا سَأَلَكَ عِبادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذا دَعانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
If My servants ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about Me: I am truly near. I respond to the supplication of the caller, when he calls upon Me. So let them respond ˹with obedience˺ to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided ˹to the Right Way˺. (2:186)
This verse in Surat al Baqarah comes in the midst of the verses related to fasting (183-187)
The first verse finishes with ‘so that you may achieve taqwa’ and the last verse ends with taqwa.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will achieve taqwa. (2:183)
ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
These are the limits set by Allah, so do not exceed them. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to people, so they achieve taqwa. (2:187)
Taqwa is obedience to Allah. As the blessed month of Ramadan ends, without doubt we ask Allah for acceptance and Allah Almighty teaches us to ask Him and call upon Him.
Fasting is an obligation. You have to fast. If you cannot fast (and cannot make up the fast later due to medical reasons for instance) you have to pay fidya, compensation. Those who could not fast in Ramadan will have to make up the fasts when they are able to.
The default position of the servant is to obey. We as humans think what do we get in return?
The answer lies in the verse ‘If My servants ask you about Me’. The scholar, Tahir bin Ashur observed that this is an imaginary question. It was not yet actually posed by anyone, but Allah Almighty pre-empted it. If His servants were to ask the Prophet (peace be on him) about Allah, then He has given the reply – ‘I am near’. (This verse is commonly translated as ‘When My servant asks…’ but grammatically the correct translation is ‘If My servants ask…’)
Other scholars have thought that this was the answer given to the question posed by those who wondered if Allah was far or near. If He was far then should they shout, so He could hear them, or could if He was near then they could be quiet?
Allah said in Surat al Araf, that there is no need to shout. He can hear us even when we call on Him in secret:
ٱدْعُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُعْتَدِينَ
Call on your Lord, humbly and in secret. He dislikes transgressors (7:55)
Allah does not like those who call on Him by shouting and screaming, this is crossing the limits of acceptable behaviour, but it was some of the Jahiliya practices. They would do this around the Kabah, and do tawaf naked.
To call upon Allah, our Lord, is a special treat for believers. He has given believers access to Him. Unless you believe, you cannot call upon Allah.
Secret supplication is best because it is not tainted by showing off (riya) which ruins the intention. The secret dua, between you and Allah, is more accepted than public dua, which is allowed and has its etiquettes.
If you follow the general sequence of the questions of the sahabah companions in the Quran, you will note that the answer to their questions is always preceded by the word ‘Qul’ (say). For example,
They ask you, [O Muḥammad], what they should spend. Say, “Whatever you spend of good is [to be] for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveller. And whatever you do of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” (2:215)
And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from women during menstruation. (2:222)
And they ask you about the mountains, so say, “My Lord will blow them away with a blast. (20:105)
We see that all the questions in the Quran are followed by the word ‘Qul’ except the question regarding Allah Himself. In this instance, Allah does not preface the answer with ‘Qul’. He did not say ‘Tell them I am near’. Rather He says ‘I am near’, without placing an intermediary between Himself and us. This shows His proximity to us.
It is as if Allah is saying ‘This answer is not by your tongue, O Muḥammad. Even though you are the ambassador between Us and created beings, I assume responsibility for this answer: I am near.’
In fact, Allah Almighty has even answered the question before we asked it. Imam Qushayri said that the question reflects the mind of the questioner, and as the question is unrelated to worldly matters, but related to Allah Almighty Himself, it is a high level question, so Allah Himself responded directly to it.
Though Allah Almighty is Holy, majestic and lofty, and does not inhabit time or space the way we do, He is near us in terms of His knowledge of us, His power over us, His hearing of even the whispers of our heart and His insight into ourselves, which is sharper than our own knowledge of ourselves.
Allah is also near us in taking care of us, and answer our du’as. Though He is too exalted to be near us in essence and He is uniquely without direction, substance or measure He is always there for us.
Let them respond to me
Allah Almighty goes on to say in that verse ‘I respond to the supplication of the caller when he calls on Me. So let them respond to me falyastajibuli’.
Notice the sequence here, Allah promises to respond to us before He mentions our calling upon Him. Whenever or whereever we are, Allah is ready to respond before we have asked. Yet, He goes on to put the responsibility on us to call on Him, saying ‘let them respond to me’. This is a responsibility.
Allah lightened our load before He spoke of our responsibility. It is as if He said, ‘When you call to Me, My servant, I will answer you. So answer Me also when I call you. I do not wish to refuse your call, so you should not wish to refuse My call to you. My answering you, My servant, with what is good, prompts you to call on Me. It is not that your call prompts Me to answer you. So respond to Me, and believe in Me and trust in Me for I answer the call of the one who calls to Me.’
Yastajibuli (respond to me) has been used on several occasions, in particular three occasions:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ ۖ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
O you who believe! Respond to God and to the Messenger when He calls you to what will revive you. And know that God stands between a man and his heart, and that to Him you will be gathered. (8:24)
اسْتَجِيبُوا لِرَبِّكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَّا مَرَدَّ لَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۚ مَا لَكُم مِّن مَّلْجَإٍ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن نَّكِيرٍ
Respond to your Lord before there comes from God a Day that cannot be turned back. You will have no refuge on that Day, and no possibility of denial. (42:47)
لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِرَبِّهِمُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَهُ لَوْ أَنَّ لَهُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا وَمِثْلَهُ مَعَهُ لَافْتَدَوْا بِهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ سُوءُ الْحِسَابِ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ
For those who respond to their Lord is the best. But as for those who do not respond to Him, even if they possessed everything on earth, and twice as much, they could not redeem themselves with it. Those will have the worst reckoning; and their home is Hell—a miserable destination. (13:18)
Allah is free of all wants. He does not need us or anything.
۞ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
O people! It is you who are the poor, in need of God; while God is the Rich, the Praiseworthy. (3:15).
Out of His mercy He is asking us to call on Him. And put our faith in Him and trust Him. All the commands He gave us, are for our own benefit, to keep us on the straight path, to be rightly guided. Not to take the wrong turn and end up in the wrong destination. He made the path clear and He wants us to follow the path for our own sake. Allah Almighty does not benefit from our ibadah, we do.
Therefore respond to Allah and respond to His Messenger.
Then Allah said at the end of the verse, ‘that they might be guided to the right way’, meaning ‘the only objective to your being charged with responsibilities and supplications is to receive right guidance (irshad) for yourself.’
The du’a of the one who is fasting is accepted
Ramadan is a special time for du’a and acceptance, as we have acceleration in our ibadah, we have more purity in our intention, and more focus in our recitation and worship. The purer we are, the more our du’a is accepted. This is why the verse on du’a falls in the middle of the verses on fasting.
When you are fasting, your du’as are more likely to be accepted. Anas ibn Malik ( May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“The supplications of three are not turned back: the supplication of a parent, the supplication of a fasting person, and the supplication of a traveller.” (Bayhaqi)
Take advantage of this, and ask for anything you want – for your dunya, akhirah, children, health, rizq etc. Ask! Have trust that He is responding to you. Make du’a for our brothers and sisters in Palestine who are under attack, yet again during the month of Ramadan.
Make as much du’a as possible for yourself, the oppressed and the whole Ummah. Do not expect Allah to respond to you, if you did not bother to ask Him.
Show Allah your need
When you ask Allah, you show your need. You show that He is the Lord and you are His servant. Do not put yourself in the position of Lord, and act as if you are self-sufficient. You cannot manage alone. You need His support day and night.
Allah has promised to respond to us, but in order for that we need to fulfil the conditions – have purity and have trust that Allah will respond. The Prophet (peace Allah be upon him) said:
“The du’a of any worshipper will continue to be responded to, as long as he does not ask for a sin or breaking the ties of kinship, and as long as he is not hasty.”
It was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, and what does it mean to be hasty? He responded:
“A worshipper says, ‘I have prayed and prayed, and I don’t see that it will be accepted,’ so he gives up hope of being answered and leaves du‘a.’” (Muslim)
The moment you give up that a du’a will not be answered you cut your line to Allah, because you are showing a lack of trust in Him. How do you know that He will not respond to you? Because you did not receive the response immediately? It is not your place to dictate when your du’a will be fulfilled. Your job as a servant is to call on Him- the timing is in His hands.
Seek Allah’s support and help, but remember that it is up to Him when He will grant you what you desire. Keep asking, and say ‘Ya Allah, if it is good for me, faciliate it’.
When you do this, Allah will support you, protect you, look after you and guide you.
Let’s continue making du’a and trusting Allah.
We ask Allah Almighty to accept our fasting, our ibadah, our supplications. We ask Allah to lift the calamities from our Ummah, to unite our Ummah, support our Ummah and make our Ummah victorious again. Ameen
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