Wind at Your Back
There are as many ways to pray to God Almighty as there are, were or will be people on the face of this earth.
A prayer – supplication or asking or begging or pleading with God for things from forgiveness to “Daily Bread” – is the epitome of the most intimate and private relationship between human beings and God Almighty.
In the language of Islam it is called Du’a.
Du’a is the very core, the very essence, of Ibaadat – “worshipping” God, says a Hadith.
Ad-Du’a Mukkhul ‘Ibaadah!
In the Qur’an, God tells us to call him. And he assures us that when we call, he will respond.
Ud’oonee Astajib Lakum, God says in the Qur’an.
By far, the best words for praying are God’s own words – the ones he uses in the Qur’an.
The next best words are the ones God Almighty’s last messenger and prophet, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, used.
Both of which, of course, that is prayers using God’s own words, as well as prayers using the words of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, are meticulously documented in the most authentic and unassailable historical records on earth: the Qur’an and the Hadith.
But after the Qur’an and the Hadith, human beings are pretty much on their own. It is each man and woman and child unto himself or herself. It is entirely up to individuals – and groups in some cases – how they choose to address God.
And when and where and for what purpose.
It will all be dictated by everyone’s circumstances and by the reality, urgency and severity of their needs and their pain.
Just read that blanket statement by God in the Qur’an:
Ud’oonee Astajib Lakum!
This Aayat of the Qur’an does not specify any language, or any specific faith category, such as Islam or Christianity or something else, or any special racial or cultural group or nation or society.
It simply says: “CALL ME!”
And it is not so much a “statement” as a command, or an order, in which God Almighty simply bids us to call him.
It is a very special moment between an individual and God – with no intermediaries allowed to enter the picture.
So, when it comes to asking God – that is, making Du’a to him – any language is good; any occasion is good; and any kind of specific need or request is good, no matter how small or large it may be.
And the minimum qualification that allows you to talk to God directly and ask him for his favors and bounties is to be one of God’s slaves – creatures.
That means, from the point of view of Islam, you do not have to be a priest, a pastor, a rabbi, a pundit, a moulana or a sheikh to be able to call upon God, begging him to give you what you want or need.
There is no better leveler or equalizer on earth than this universal bond of supplication and prayer that potentially binds every single human being to God.
What an enduring and powerful lesson in perfect human equality – and dignity!
The expression “Wind at Your Back” is part of a sailors’ supplication from olden days. It is probably Irish in origin.
And I do confess to having a soft corner for Ireland and the Irish, for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the unspeakable injustices and sufferings that the Irish endured at the hands of the “English,” should we call them that.
Not for a day or two, or a year or two, but to be reckoned more in terms of centuries than otherwise.
The Irish seem to have been a free spirit; a kind of independent and indomitable sort of folks; and sailors too. And this I think is one of their prayers when they plunged the Atlantic that would take them away from home:
May the Road rise to meet you!
May the Wind always be at your back!
May the Sun shine warm upon your face!
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand!
Want to call it one of the Irish People’s “Blessings,” be my guest, except that I don’t know what the expression “blessing” means.
Du’a, I know and I understand. I have the authority of the Qur’an and Hadith and 1400 years of uninterrupted Muslim practice to back me up. As for the expression “Blessing,” I am afraid you are on your own. For, I really don’t know what it is.
Maybe Christian, Jewish kind of stuff – I suppose. I really don’t know. Maybe, I think, it is what the “Holy” or “Ordained” people do to the lay people among us – ordinary folks like you and me.
Very recently, my wife and I met an Archbishop. We were both fascinated. I leaped out of my car and rushed to greet him. He was standing at the gate of this nearly-two-thousand-year-old monastery to personally welcome visitors.
He ever so graciously allowed me to approach him and shake his hand.
It was then that I said to him:
“Would it be all right if I said to you: God Bless You?”
I suppose I wanted to find the closest rendering in English I could find to Assalamu Alaikum! – that most amazing and comprehensive Divine Greeting in Qur’an, in Hadith and in 14 centuries of universal Muslim individual behavior and common culture.
The Archbishop did not smile or change his demeanor in any way but simply said in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact way:
“No, that is what I say to you.”
It was one of the most pleasant, educational and memorable meetings of the lives of both of us – my wife and I.
So, at the end of it all: May God Almighty Bless His World! That is my prayer and supplication for the whole world. If it turns out to be a blessing, so be it.
To all those among you, setting sail on the ocean of life, I echo the old Irish Prayer:
May the Road rise to meet you!
And may the Wind always be at your back!
And if you are into languages, let me recite this little poem to you:
Ai Kaash Hamaari Qismat Main,
Ayisaa Bhi Ko-ee Din Aajaayay,
Manzil Kay Liyay Do Gaam Chaloon,
Awur Saamnay Manzil Aajaayay!
Would it be?
A day will come in my life,
When I take a step or two to where I want to go,
And then, all of a sudden,
I see the destination standing right before my eye?