Muhammad’s Prayers and Supplications
The Messenger always prayed to God before any action. The books of Tradition (hadith) record no case in which he did not pray. As mentioned earlier, prayer is a mystery of servanthood to God, and the Messenger is the foremost in servanthood. This is made clear with every repetition of the declaration of faith: “I bear witness there is no god but God; I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.” Note that he is called servant before Messenger. Whatever he intended to do, he referred it to God through prayer.
God is the Creator of us and whatever we do. Although we should take necessary precautions and follow precedents to accomplish things in this material world, where cause and effect has a special place, we should never forget that everything ultimately depends on God for its existence. Therefore, we must combine action and prayer. This is also required by our belief in God’s Unity.
The Messenger’s knowledge of God can never be equaled. As a result, he was the foremost in love of, and paradoxically, in fear of Him. He was perfectly conscious that everything depends on God for its existence and subsistence. Whatever God wills, happens: When He wills a thing, His command is to say to it “Be,” and it is (36:82). Things exist and the universe operates according to the laws established by God and the fulfillment of prerequisites. Fully aware of this, the Messenger did what he had to and then, combining action with prayer, left the result to God with absolute confidence.
His supplications have been transmitted to us. When we read them, we see that they have deep meaning and accord exactly with the surrounding circumstances. They reflect profound belief, deep sincerity, absolute submission and complete confidence. Some examples are given below:
- When you go to bed, perform wudu’ as you do before daily prayers and pray:
O God, hoping for (Your Mercy) and fearing (Your wrath), I submit myself to You, refer my affairs to You, and take refuge in You. There is no refuge or source of safety from Your wrath except You. I believe in the Book You sent down, and the Prophet you raised.1
- Without sins, a soul is like a polished mirror or a white cloth. Sins dirty the soul, and can be expunged only by repentance and asking His forgiveness. The Prophet used to pray the following, even though he was sinless: “O God, put between me and errors a distance as great as that which you have put between East and West. O God, cleanse me of my errors as a white garment is cleansed of dirt.”2 A whole volume could be written about the meaningful words used and the comparisons made here.
In addition to these supplications for specific cases, the Prophet also left behind comprehensive supplications of various lengths. We present some of them here:
- God, I ask You for all good, including what is at hand and what is deferred, what I already know and what I don’t know. I take refuge in You from every evil, including what is at hand and what is deferred, what I already know and what I don’t know.3
- God, nothing hinders what You grant, nor is anything granted that You hinder. No wealthy one can do us good, as wealth belongs to You.4
- O God, I have not told anything, taken an oath, made a vow, or done anything that You did not previously will. Whatever You willed is, and whatever You didn’t will is not. There is no strength or power save with You, and You are indeed All-Powerful over everything.5
- God, whatever prayer I have said, let it be for whomever You have mercy, and whatever curse I have called down, let it be for whomever You have cursed. Surely You are my Guardian in this world and the Hereafter. Make me die as a Muslim, and include me among the righteous.6
- God, I ask You for contentment after misfortune, a peaceful life after death, the pleasure of observing Your Face, and a desire to meet You. I take refuge in You from wronging others and from being wronged, from showing animosity and being subject to animosity, and from erring or committing unforgivable sins. If You leave me to myself, you leave me in weakness, need, sinfulness and error. I depend only on Your Mercy, so forgive all my sins, for only You can do so. Accept my repentance, for You are the Oft-Relenting, All-Compassionate.7
- O God, You deserve most to be mentioned, and none but You deserve to be worshipped. You are more helpful than anyone whose help may be sought, more affectionate than every ruler, more generous than anyone who may be asked for something, and more generous than anyone who gives. You are the Monarch without partners, and the Unique One without like. Everything is perishable except You.
You are never obeyed but by Your permission, and never disobeyed but within Your knowledge. When somebody obeys You, You reward them; when someone disobeys You, You forgive them. You witness everything, being nearer to it than any other witness; and protect everything, being nearer to it than any other protector. You ordained the acts of all people and determined their time of death. You know what is in every mind, and all secrets are manifest to You.
The lawful is what You have made lawful; the forbidden is what You have forbidden. Religion is what You have laid down; the commandment is what You have decreed. The creation is Your creation, and the servants are Your servants. You are God, the All-Clement, All-Compassionate. I ask You, for the sake of the light of Your Face, by which the Heavens and Earth were illuminated, for the sake of every right belonging to You, and for the sake of those who ask of You, to forgive me just in this morning and in this evening, and to protect me, by Your Power, from Hellfire.8
- God, I seek refuge in You from all knowledge that gives no benefit, from a heart that does not fear You, from an unsatisfied soul, and from prayer that cannot be answered.9
- God, I ask You for steadfastness in my affairs, resolution in guidance, gratitude for Your bounties and acceptable service to You, and a truthful tongue and a sound heart. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what You know. I ask You for the good of what You know, and Your forgiveness for what You already know. Surely You are the Knower of the Unseen.10
- God, I ask You to enable me to do good, to refrain from vice, to love the poor, and to forgive me and have mercy on me. When You will people’s deviation and dissension and disorder in public life, make me die before taking part in that disorder. I ask You for Your love and for the love of whom You love, and the love of the acts that will make me nearer to Your love.11
- God, I ask You for the good in the beginning and in the end, in its most comprehensive form with its beginning and result, its manifest and secret kinds, and for the highest rank in Paradise.12
- God, help me remember and mention You, thank You, and worship You most properly.13
- God, I ask You for guidance, fear of You, chastity, and independence of others.14
- God, bring all of our affairs to a good conclusion, protect us from disgrace and ignominy in the world, and from being tormented in the Hereafter.15
- God, we ask You for all of the good for which Your Prophet Muhammad asked You, and seek refuge in You from every evil from which Your Prophet Muhammad sought refuge in You.16
Prayer was a fundamental part of the Prophet’s life. All the supplications quoted, together with many, have become keys in the hands of such great saints as Abu Hasan al-Shadhili, Ahmad al-Badawi, Ahmad al-Rifa‘i, and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, who used them to knock on the door of God’s Mercy.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
- Bukhari, “Da‘awat,” 6; Muslim, “Dhikr,” 56.
- Bukhari, “Adhan,” 89; Muslim, “Masajid,” 147.
- Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 6:147.
- Bukhari, “Adhan,” 155; Muslim, “Salat,” 205; Abu Dawud, “Salat,” 139.
- Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 5:191.
- Nasa’i, “Sahw,” 62; Ibn Hanbal, 5:191.
- Ibn Hanbal, 5:191.
- Haythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 10:117.
- Muslim, “Dhikr,” 73; Abu Dawud, “Witr,” 32.
- Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 23; Nasa’i, “Sahw,” 61.
- Tirmidhi, “Tafsir al-Qur’an,” 39; Imam Malik, Muwatta’, “Qur’an,” 73.
- Hakim, Mustadrak, 1:520.
- Ibid., 1:499.
- Ibn Maja, “Du‘a,” 2; Muslim, “Dhikr,” 72; Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 72.
- Ibn Hanbal, 4:181; Hakim, 3:591.
- Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 89.