Through My Lens: Observations from a Midwestern Muslimah
By Nadirah Angail
You would think 5 times a day would be more than enough to teach us how to pray, how to address our Creator. Not necessarily true. Many of us know the moves and have the purest of intentions, but need a little work when it comes to the content. Rather than use our prayers to sincerely implore Allah for His guidance and open our hearts to His Divine decrees, we sometimes use them as bargaining tools, attempting to convince the All Knowing that we know best.
I start with myself first. Iâ€™ve definitely sent up prayers begging Allah to give me what I want. â€œPlease make this happen.â€ â€œPlease send this to me.â€ When it seemed to work, Iâ€™d rejoice. When it didnâ€™t, Iâ€™d grieve. Somewhere along the way, I learned that prayers were a way of trying to get what I want. Fortunately for me, Iâ€™ve gained new understanding.
Our prayers are not to give us what we want. They are to bring us closer that what Allah wants for us. Our knowledge is limited, our understanding narrow. What we want is not always in our best interest. Guided by emotion, impatience, greed, or misinformation, we sometimes get sidetracked from the lighted path. Properly offered prayers are the magnets that pull us back.
Despite the self-centered society we live in, we have to take a backseat to Allah. As scary as it may seem, we have to put our hands up and trust that Allah will lead. Instead of praying for the promotion, the new car, or the affection of a certain someone, pray for that which is best for you, realizing that it may be beyond your understanding in the current moment. Pray for guidance towards whatever Allah has planned, away from that which He hasnâ€™t. Pray that your losses be accompanied by the comforting knowledge that Allah knows best. Pray that your accomplishments are accompanied in the same way.
These are the prayers that benefit us the most, because that promotion you want may stop you from reaching your dream of starting your own business; that new car you want may take money away from much more important expenses; and that certain someone whose affection you crave may be the worst thing you could ever invite into your life. We arenâ€™t aware of this in the moment. We canâ€™t even imagine this in the moment, and that is exactly why Allah knows best.
Once we accept that Allah gives us what we need (not necessarily what we want), weâ€™re able to free ourselves of the shortsighted prayers weâ€™ve grown accustomed to. It gets easier to accept disappointment and loss when weâ€™ve embraced the fact that Allah will protect everything that is truly meant for us. It gets easier to humbly accept success when we realize that only through Allahâ€™s mercy have we been successful at anything. And, of course, it gets easier to open ourselves up to the beautiful blessings He has reserved especially for us. Donâ€™t pray for what you want. Donâ€™t pray for what you think is best. Pray for what Allah knows is best.
Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based blogger/author with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has recently published her first book, entitled â€œOn All the Things That Make Me Beautiful: Short Inspirational Essays on Life, Love & Self.â€ Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website www.nadirahangail.com.