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The Prayer: ‘What would I have done without these verses?’
Dr Rizwan Haider


Someone’s story …

My brought up – middle class, semi-religious

Exceptionally kind parents, two jobs

Spent more on us; Always under debt

We were not bad children either;

Our academic record brilliant

Parents’ joy and gifts

Our response, what I felt when presents bought

Never felt obliged to anyone

Life went on


One professional exam. Bad performance

Never before

Fear of failure, parents’ anger, insult among friends

Hung in despair

Can father/mother/brother/friend/anyone help?

Talked to many but…

First time felt the need of someone powerful (and merciful) and available when required

Suddenly a flash …. Pray

Yes I should give that a try

Started off with requests to pass and finished with the same, primarily to avoid insult

But said all five regularly


During these days, a class fellow’s accident … serious

Went to hospital

Parents deserted, hopeless, praying

Two weeks -- he died


Parents state of mind

I knew what was coming


Result ... Passed

First time ... Felt gratitude, deep down

And shame, better if I had failed

My prayers had no match with those of my friends parents

My despair would have hardly lasted a few days if failed

No affect on future

So what made the difference?

Am I a hero or a great scholar or a trustworthy companion or someone indispensable …. None!

What then?


Lightening … this was a warning -- could have been true, like it was for his parents. But you were heard and they were not. Wake up and look around.

I woke up and for the first time appreciated how gifted I was; could not count the blessings. The list was endless, starting from my taste buds to my car. I found out that my parents were also a gift, like other things. So if I am obliged to them and not the one who gave them to me its like thanking the car and not the one who actually gave it.

Each one was invaluable, not like the small gifts that I received when I performed well in the exam. So each demanded a much much greater gratitude than what I expressed to my parents.

Now I knew how indebted I was and to whom. I knew I was blessed for nothing.

I wanted to say that I was sure now of His supremacy, His command and His absolute kingship. But could not find a way.

To say that I was extremely obliged, only to Him. But how?

And that is only because of His kindness.

And that if he has given things to me and not to others, He is going to ask me how I handled them. Words were at a loss.

Groping in the dark, I told Him that I wanted His help, now more than ever. There was no articulation, no vibrance, not enough communication.

I wanted to undo my past and do what He expected of me. It was difficult and I could now see many who were still sleeping, and also those who passed away sleeping.

The more I tried the more I felt frustrated, on my failure to say what I wanted.

So I started reading. I read about Adam, and Noah, and Abraham and many others. Unbelievable people; I wanted to follow them.

I opened the Book and started with Fātiha.

Alhamdu lillāh…yes, my heart cried out. I found the words. No -- gems. All praise one can think of, the whole praise, without a shadow of infringement, full of a sense of gratitude and coming from the bottom of ones heart is for the one who is God, feel it or not, accept it or not. I knew He was the greatest but that is nothing close to Rabbu’l-‘A^lamīn. I could see the difference. He is not only the greatest but He is also The Architect, The Planner and The Owner, may it be our earth or other planets, other galaxies and other worlds. And then, He is the Rabb -- what a word. I could not have come with anything similar all my life. The Creator, The Kind, The Caregiver, The… The … The…. No words to express as best as Rabb.

Al-rahmān Al-rahīm ... Most certainly, and who could be a better evidence than myself. I had read somewhere during my pursuits ‘man: the slave of God’, possibly a translation of word ‘Abd but in spite of my poor knowledge of Him, I could not swallow this. I didn’t know much about slaves but I was definitely aware of ‘servants’, their status and our behaviour with them. I had seen a crowd of them around, all my life, and though forced to believe that they were like us and hence should not be abused, I could always see the difference. They were given the wear what we discarded after years of use, to eat an amalgam of left-overs, allowed to sleep only when all others had gone to bed for hours and to wake up again before anyone had woken up, ordered to run around in the hot sun of summers and in the freezing cold of winters, blamed for every small theft, scolded and even manhandled. Slaves I knew, would have been even worse. But is that how our Master treats us? If I looked around even casually I could see that man is the ‘Guest of Honour’ in this world: the sun, the moon, the clouds, the animals, the plants all appear to be at his service; they were there, as parts of a divine system that was of no use to themselves but only to man. And if I glance at the human race, I can see that it is being treated like VIPs. Flawless physique, enviable family, superb brains, abundant resources and, on top of all, absolute freedom; no restraints and no regrets. If someone was less bestowed in any one faculty, he was compensated in another. Are these slaves? I asked myself. No … No, No. My every single pore shouted. Change your dictionary or change your concept. This is the greatest slur on justice. Does someone treat slaves like this? Doesn’t His kindness overwhelmingly belittles that of our parents? Isn’t it He who makes sure that we get the best of everything, from morning till night and from night till morning, may it be sleep or activity or food or water? Isn’t it He who makes sure that our everything works to perfection, may it be our heartbeat, our breathing or talking or walking? Isn’t this a glaring reality that we disobey Him, day in and day out and isn’t it His mercy that He keeps ignoring this? There can be no denial and hence no escape from the fact that anybody who is the King and still so tolerant and forgiving can’t be anyone but Al-Rahmān and Al-Rahīm. And just as a passing comment, servants by definition are a need. Are we His need?

Māliki ... and what was this? Suddenly from gratitude and praise, a hasty transition. What for? I knew He is The Ruler and I knew that He will demonstrate His absolute control on that Day but why a mention here? And then … it appeared, the missing link. See, I asked myself, if you send someone with a hundred rupee note to get you a few items from the market you expect him to give you a detailed account of spending. So, why someone who has bestowed you with all what you could imagine and also, what you could not have imagined, and the one who is so unbelievably kind that even blind people like you can see it, shouldn’t ask you one day what you did to all that and how you treasured the opportunity? Now I could see the beauty in transition from Al-Rahmān to Māliki. Ever since I had had the vision I had feared that. I had used my basic mathematics and had come to the conclusion that I am not someone’s sweat heart to have all this. I am just someone sent out with a hundred rupee note… and the rest is daylight.

Iyyāka … Isn’t that wonderful? Woven pearls. I had had its first hand experience. I knew I had performed poorly in exams. and I knew that I was going to fail, and that no one I knew could possibly affect the result, and that humiliation was unavoidable. Within my small world, it was the worst disaster that could ever happen. Only then … I discovered that there was someone who could undo all this, who was in charge and for who ‘no issue was big’. He is ‘The Powerful’ and hence the one that one could always rely upon and best of all, He is not a mafia boss. He is your best friend. So? are you left with a choice? Go ahead, surrender, accept His supremacy and join the camp. Acknowledge that He is the only one that you bow in front of and, that He is the only one that you look up to for help. The beauty of divine language is at its best. He knew we’ll need it and He knew we will never be satisfied with whatever expression we use so, He came to help, as always.

Ihdinā … Yes my Lord, now I have learnt it and learnt it the wrong way. I could have designed my life according to the Book but I didn’t. Then, I could have responded to Your first or second or third call but I didn’t; in fact I opted out of your group. It was You, my Master, who never counted me out, in spite of the repeated disappointments I caused You. You never let go of me. You could have, I know, because it is me who survives on your support; and that You don’t benefit in any way from my prayers, acts or sacrifices. I can appreciate now, that I am ‘the most fortunate’ human on the globe and that I would have been doomed without your blessings. Now that I have the vision, and the haze is gone I need your guidance more than ever. And what would I ask for with that hundred rupee note in my hand and fearing accountability … Show me the Way and tell me how to spend it. And then, I beg you my Lord, to keep me steadfast on it. You know me and my weaknesses, more than I do myself so The Most Merciful, guide me and don’t let me slip again.

Sirātalladhīna … And I know that the path you have defined is not for angels; it is for us, humans. And that there have been many who chose that path, looked straight ahead and never faltered. From Adam (sws) and Noah (sws) and Jacob (sws) to Abraham (sws) , Moses (sws), Jesus (sws) and Muhammad (sws). They were the pride of human race. Their determination was phenomenal and their courage enviable. But so is their reward, as You have promised them in the Book. And undoubtedly my Master, this would not have been possible without your special benevolence. The human soul is vulnerable and distractions too ominous. And the one who remains steadfast is most certainly blessed with Your great help. I want to follow him.

Ghayri’l-Maghdūbi ... And to end my Master, I know that if I appreciate how you have treated me (like the only one You cared about), blessed me (as there was no one else to be blessed), tolerated me (and my deeds), forgiven me (and my grave sins) and finally enlightened me, and even then I disobeyed you, I deserve the worst. No doubt about that. No disagreements. But my Master, one day I thought about the very minimal of punishments that could be my reward, something like solitary confinement or a seat in the summer sun or fine needle pricks, -- not the big punishments that You have listed. And just the thought was nightmarish, goose-skinning. I won’t be able to take it for a day, what to speak of eternal doom. Only then I realised how weak I am and what mega-crimes I dare commit. So, my Lord, I beg you to keep me out of the lot ‘proved guilty’. I am now well aware of my status and will do all I can to please you, with Your help most certainly but I must admit that it will be an attempt to show my immense gratitude primarily, the fear of punishment carrying a secondary importance.

And My Lord: ‘what would I have done without these verses?’



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