American Muslim writer Shibli Zaman shared this personal experience on his Facebook page. He reflects on how he felt the presence of God in a very difficult moment in his life and how he learned to listen to Allah’s messages to him.
Here’s the story in his own words:
This past Friday, the first day of Ramadan, after having my pre-dawn meal, I got a frantic call from my mother around 5:30am. Two days prior, my father had started having a light fever.
With the threat of COVID-19, all of us, including my father, were fearing it was infection. And now, on Friday morning, my father was having a hard time breathing. We had no idea what to do. We were terrified of taking my Dad to the ER because these days ER’s around the nation are like Petri dishes. But we had no choice.
I said to a group of my closest friends:
“I’ve got to spend some time pondering on what God is conveying to me by terrifying me like this on the first day of Ramadan. But when I contemplate, I always end up with valuable lessons.”
My father’s condition began to gradually decline to the point that by Saturday morning, they had transferred him to the ICU. I was getting desperate.
On the day that the Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ) finally entered Mecca victoriously after being exiled, called “Fatḥ Mecca” in Arabic, it is recorded that he (ﷺ) prayed 8 rak`āt (units) Ḍuḥa prayer as opposed to the 4 he usually prayed. Ḍuḥa prayer is the supererogatory prayers prayed between a completed sunrise and around 30 minutes before Dhuhr. The following is related in Bukhārī’s Ṣaḥīḥ:
(حدثنا عمرو بن مرة قال سمعت عبد الرحمن بن أبي ليلى يقول ما حدثنا أحد أنه رأى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلي الضحى غير أم هانئ فإنها قالت إن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم دخل بيتها يوم فتح مكة فاغتسل وصلى ثماني ركعات فلم أر صلاة قط أخف منها غير أنه يتم الركوع والسجود)
“`Amrū bin Murrah said: I heard `Abdur-Raḥmān bin Abī Layla say: No one conveyed to me that they had seen the Prophet (ﷺ) pray the Ḍuḥa prayer other than Umm Hānī’. For she said that the Prophet (ﷺ) entered her house on the day of Fatḥ Mecca, bathed, and prayed 8 rak`āt so that I never saw him perform a prayer so lightly than it, nevertheless, with such perfect bowing and prostration.”
So I prayed 8 rak`āt and supplicated to God, “O God! Just as your beloved Messenger (ﷺ) prayed 8 rak`āt Ḍuḥa prayer the day of Fatḥ Mecca, so I now pray to you 8 rak`āt Ḍuḥa for a Fatḥ from You, O God, that You cure my father.”
After I completed the prayer, I messaged 2 scholars who are close to me and asked for their prayers. Then, immediately after that, I saw a notification on my phone that a friend had added something to her Instagram story. It was Sūrah al-Naml 27:62-64 of the Qur’an. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
(أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ الْأَرْضِ ۗ أَإِلَٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّهِ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
أَمَّن يَهْدِيكُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَن يُرْسِلُ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۗ أَإِلَٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّهِ ۚ تَعَالَى اللَّهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
أَمَّن يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ وَمَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ أَإِلَٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّهِ ۚ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ)
“Who is it that answers the distressed when they call upon Him? Who removes their suffering? Who makes you successors in the earth? Is it another god beside God? Little notice you take!
Who is it that guides you through the darkness on land and sea? Who sends the winds as heralds of good news before His mercy? Is it another god beside God? God is far above the partners they put beside Him!
Who is it that creates life and reproduces it? Who is it that gives you provision from the heavens and earth? Is it another god beside God?’ Say, ‘Show me your evidence then, if what you say is true.’”
I was left dumbfounded. Who can say that God doesn’t speak to us? He does through the Qur’an!
And while I had expressed to my friends that I would have to ponder over what God could possibly be conveying to me, He told me loud and clear with the Qur’an, His uncreated word, a splendid attribute from His magnificent Divine attributes.
Around an hour and a half later, to my shock, I saw my Dad’s cell number on my caller ID. He sounded well and said he’s feeling much better. They had identified what was wrong with him and treated it, and he immediately started to recover.
He was well enough to call me by himself and speak lucid and clear. His condition has been improving ever since and now we’re optimistic and hoping for the best.
All I can say is al-ḥamdu lillāh, all praise and thanks to God, for His favors upon a loser like me. If someone of no particular merit such as myself can hear God talking to him, believe me, you absolutely can. Don’t just cry out to Him.
You need to listen closely for His reply, but you have to listen with your heart.