Why is the Supplication of the Oppressed and the Distressed is Answered?

Allah's Messenger (SAW) said:
'The prayer of the oppressed is answered, even if he is a sinner as his sinning is only against his own soul,'[49]

If we reflect upon the matter we will find that the one supplicating is sincere (and truthful) in his worship and he unites his heart in his supplication. There is nothing which preoccupies him from being earnest in his supplication and this is because he knows that his supplication being answered will definitely be accomplished. The Messenger (SAW) has explained the cause of the supplication not being answered when he said:

'Call upon Allah while you are certain of being answered and know that Allah does not respond to the supplication of the unmindful and heedless heart.'[50]

The supplicaton of the heart which is unmindful and heedless is not responded to. The heart of the one who is oppressed however, is not unmindful due to his constraint and dire need. Likewise, the one who is in distress, his supplication is answered even if he is not a Muslim.[51 ] Allah the Exalted said:

'And who responds to the distressed one when he supplicates Him?['52]

There is nothing which can occupy the heart of the one who is distressed or make him unmindful besides the thing which distresses him. Therefore he is sincere for the period that he is distressed regardless of his transgression or disbelief.

The hadeeth of Muslim explains to us this preoccupation and unmindfulness. Jabir (RA) said: 'Allah's Messenger (SAW) said: "Whoever climbed this hill, the hill of Murar, his sins would be obliterated as the sins of the Children of Israel were obliterated."So we were the first to take our horses up, the horses of Banul-Khazraj. Then everybody else followed and Allah's Messenger (SAW) said: "All of you are forgiven except the owner of the red camel." So we came to him (the camel's owner) and said: "Come! Allah's Messenger (SAW) will seek forgiveness for you." But he said: "That I find my lost thing is more beloved to me than that which your companion seeks forgiveness for me" and he remained occupied in trying to find his lost thing.'

This man has occupied himself with his camel, taking himself away from receiving forgiveness and ikhlas to Allah the Exalted. It would be well for us at this point to relate the hadeeth of the Messenger (SAW) which will increase the clarity of this matter

: 'There is none amongst you who goes to perform ablution (wudhu), rinses his mouth and spits out the water and sniffs water up his nose and then expels it, except that the sins of his face, mouth and nose flow from him. Then, when he washes his face as he has been commanded by Allah, the sins flow away with the water from the'sides of his beard. Then, when he washes his arms up to (and including) his elbows, the sins of his hands flow away with the water from the extremes of his fingertips. Then he wipes his head as Allah has commanded him and the sins of his head flow away with the water from the ends of his hair. Then he washes his two feet up to (and including) the ankles and the sins of his feet flow away with the water from the ends of his toes. If he then stands, prays, praising Allah, extolling Him, glorifying Him with what He is deserving of and empties his heart for Allah, he will walk away from his sins in the same state as the day when his mother gave birth to him.[53]

The saying of Allah's Messenger (SAW), '...empties his heart for Allah', is a proof here. Vacating the heart for Allah is turning away from being occupied with whatever is besides Him and it is also from the perfection of ikhlas? to Allah the Exalted. How many distressed and oppressed persons are there who empty their hearts for Allah the Exalted at the time of suplication and to whom Allah responds as a reward for their ikhlas? There occurs in the supplication of Ibraheem.

”If my Lord does not guide me, I will be amongst the losers”.[54 ] and in the supplication of Nuh (AS): “If You do not forgive me and show mercy to me I will be amongst the losers.”[55]

Even he emptied his heart for Allah and it was a supplication of one who was distressed. Nothing was left for him (to resort to) except this supplication. What else would be left for him after he had just lost everything? And what was the outcome?

These supplications will, no doubt, be responded to as they are supplications of the distressed. If they were not answered, misguidance and ruin would follow. These types of supplication give evidence to the emptying of the heart for Allah the Exalted and the absence of being occupied with anything else besides them. A person who directs all of his concerns to the answering of the supplication, puts this ahead of everything else. Even Shaytan, when he made his supplication, was the head of misguidance: 'He said: "O my Lord grant me respite till the day they are raised.'"[56]

Even he emptied his heart for Allah and it was a supplication of one who was distressed. Nothing was left for him (to resort to) except this supplication. What else would be left for him after he had just lost everything? And what was the outcome?

'He (Allah) said: "You are of those who have been granted respite till the period of the time made known."['57]

And how was the gratefulness of Shaytan to his Lord when his supplication was answered?

'He said: "My Lord, because you have led me astray I shall beautify for them what is in the earth and I shall mislead them all. Except for Your servants amongst them who are sincere."[58]

Shaytan - and we seek refuge in Allah from him - exempted the sincere ones because they empty and vacate their hearts for Allah so that evil things are not beautified in their souls.

From this we find that the distressed and oppressed person empties his heart for Allah. Nothing is beautified in his heart which would otherwise distract him and make him unmindful of his supplication. Thus, his desire is realised and accomplished. We can also see here that those three who remained behind (from an expedition),59 the earth had become constrained for them (they felt anguish) and their souls felt uneasy and depressed. This is the description which Allah gave of them when He the Sublime said:

“And to the three who remained behind, the earth became straight to them not withstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straightend to them and they knew for certain that there was no refuge from Allah except with Him. Then He turned to them that they may turn to Him. Indeed Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, the Merciful. “ [60]

So they were hard pressed in their supplication and had emptied their hearts of everything except the pleasure of Allah. The earth had become constrained for them despite its expanse and their souls became straightened. Shaytan, therefore, was not able to beautify anything for them because they had seen and known that there is no escaping from winning the pleasure of Allah and as such Allah turned to them.

We can also understand here the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) when he said:

“Indeed, a man departs (from his prayer) and nothing is written for him except a tenth of his prayer, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a fourth, or a third, or half of it.” [61]

To the extent to which one empties his heart for Allah the Exalted, to that same extent is the reward for his prayer written for him.[62 ] And to the extent to which he empties his heart for Allah to that same extent does Allah accept from him (from his prayer). Likewise the (levels of) response to the supplications differ with respect to the extent that the heart is emptied for Allah the Mighty and Majestic. For the oppressed and the distressed person the response to his supplication becomes more forceful and likely due to the complete and perfect emptying of the heart for Allah the Exalted.

And what was the situation of the young boy who was a believer when he was taken to be thrown off the top of a mountain? He had emptied his heart for Allah in his supplication and said: “0 Allah'. Suffice me against them in whatever way you will.” With what should he be diverted away from his supplication when he could see himself being thrown off the top of the mountain?

From this, the faith of the one who understands the following hadeeth of Allah's Messenger (SAW) will be strengthened: 'Paradise is closer to one of you than his shoelace. And likewise the Hellfire.'63 Whoever perceives the nearness of Paradise with his heart will empty his soul from whatever is besides it in order to attain it and whoever sees Hellfire with its nearness to him to this extent will not be occupied with anything but making himself distant and remote from it. Let us then reflect upon the hadeeth of Allah's Messenger (SAW) which Muslim has reported:

“If the believer knew what punishments lie with Allah, none would have hoped for His Paradise and if the disbeliever knew what was with Allah of mercy, none would have despaired of His Paradise.”[64]

The one who knows what punishment lies with Allah will empty his heart for deliverance from being punished and would not hope for Paradise, which is the desire of every believing servant, so the knowledge of the punishments of Allah preoccupies him from hoping in Paradise - and Allah knows best.

49. Saheehul-Jam'i, no. 3377.

50. Sikilatul-Ahadeethis-Saheehah, no. 594.

51. This is in the life of this world and does not apply to the Hereafter

52. Surah an-Naml (27):62.

53 Saheehul-Jam 'i, no. 5680

54. Surah al-An'am (6):77.

55. Surah Hud (11 ):47.

56. Surah al-Hijr (15):36.

57. Surah al-Hijr (15):37-8.

58. Surah al-Hijr (15):39-40.

59. Refer to Riyadus-Saliheen, chapter: Repentance, for a full account of this incident.

60. Surah at-Tawbah (9): 118.

61. Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Hiban in his Saheeh. It is also in Saheehul-Jam i, no. 1266.

62. It is also requested from the Muslim that he prays in accordancewith the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in all its various positions and actions. Not doing this reduces the reward for this prayer.

63. Reported by al-Bukhari.

64. Reported by Muslim.

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