Surely I am very near…

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لِى وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way. TMQ [2:186]

1. There are two opinions about the cause of the revelation of this verse. One version says that it was revealed when some people asked the Prophet (ﷺ) about Allah (SWT), whether He was close so they could whisper their supplications, or far, that they might cry out loud to Him. Another version is that some people asked the Prophet (ﷺ) about the hour that was best for supplications. In either case, it was answered that Allah is close and does not fail to respond to the call of the suppliant (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Abu Musa Al Ash`ari (ra) says,

كُنّا مَعَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي سَفَرٍ. فَجَعَلَ النّاسُ يَجْهَرُونَ بِالتّكْبِيرِ. فَقالَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: “أَيّهَا النّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَىَ أَنْفُسِكُمْ. إِنّكُمْ لَيْسَ تَدْعُونَ أَصَمّ وَلاَ غَائِباً. إِنّكُمْ تَدْعُونَ سَمِيعاً قَرِيباً، وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ” وَقَالَ فِيهِ: “وَالّذِي تَدْعُونَهُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَىَ أَحَدِكُمْ مِنْ عُنُقِ رَاحِلتِهِ”

“Once we were on a journey with the Prophet (saws). We did not descend a hill, ascend another, or march into a valley but raised our voices in unison chanting Allah’s greatness. The Prophet came up from the rear and said: ‘People. Show mercy to yourselves. The One you are calling is neither deaf nor away. You are calling the Hearer, the Seer.’ He also added, ‘The One you are calling is nearer to you than the neck of the beasts (you are riding)'” – Ibn Kathir.

2. This verse is mentioned between the verse of fasting to inform that fasting is one of the reasons for acceptance of supplication and that the fasting person should continue to make supplication until he breaks his fast.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ تُرَدُّ دَعْوَتُهُمُ الإِمَامُ الْعَادِلُ وَالصَّائِمُ حَتَّى يُفْطِرَ وَدَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ يَرْفَعُهَا اللَّهُ دُونَ الْغَمَامِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَتُفْتَحُ لَهَا أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ وَيَقُولُ بِعِزَّتِي لأَنْصُرَنَّكِ وَلَوْ بَعْدَ حِينٍ ‏.‏

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“There are three whose supplications are not turned back: A just ruler, and a fasting person until he breaks his fast. And, the supplication of one who has been wronged is raised by Allah up to the clouds on the Day of Resurrection, and the gates of heaven are opened for it, and Allah says, ‘By My Might I will help you (against the wrongdoer) even if it is after a while.’” Sunan Ibn Majah

3. Allah (SWT) directly replied to the question asked to the Prophet (ﷺ) without instructing the Prophet (as) to reply when He (SWT) said: فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ – then surely I am very near. He (SWT) did not say: ‘Say to them: Indeed He is near’ like He (SWT) said elsewhere.

وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَٱعْتَزِلُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فِى ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ

And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge… TMQ [2:222]

يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ ۖ قُلْ مَآ أَنفَقْتُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱبْنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا۟ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ بِهِۦ عَلِيمٌ

They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it. TMQ [2:215]

يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْخَمْرِ وَٱلْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَآ إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَـٰفِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَآ أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا ۗ وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ ٱلْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّـهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder, TMQ [2:219]

يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ ۖ

They ask you concerning the sacred month about fighting in it. Say: Fighting in it is a grave matter, and hindering (men)  TMQ [2:17]

He (SWT) said:  فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ  – then surely I am very near, with emphasis to emphasise His nearness to His servants.

4. Allah (SWT) guarantees that He will respond when the supplicant supplicates to Him, and He (SWT) did  not link it to the will ( مَشِيئَة), so He did not say: If I wish or if your lord wishes as in His saying:

قُلْ أَرَءَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَىٰكُمْ عَذَابُ ٱللَّـهِ أَوْ أَتَتْكُمُ ٱلسَّاعَةُ أَغَيْرَ ٱللَّـهِ تَدْعُونَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـٰدِقِينَ ﴿٤٠﴾ بَلْ إِيَّاهُ تَدْعُونَ فَيَكْشِفُ مَا تَدْعُونَ إِلَيْهِ إِن شَآءَ وَتَنسَوْنَ مَا تُشْرِكُونَ

Say: Tell me if the chastisement of Allah should overtake you or the hour should come upon you, will you call (on others) besides Allah, if you are truthful? Nay, Him you call upon, so He clears away that for which you pray if He pleases and you forget what you set up (with Him). TMQ [6:40-41]

And in the hadith, Imam Ahmad also recorded Abu Sa`id saying that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

«مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يَدْعُو اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِدَعْوَةٍ لَيْسَ فِيها إِثْمٌ ولَا قَطِيعَةُ رَحِمٍ، إلَّا أَعْطَاهُ اللهُ بِهَا إِحْدَى ثَلَاثِ خِصَالٍ: إِمَّا أَنْ يُعَجِّل لَهُ دَعْوَتَهُ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ يَدَّخِرَهَا لَهُ فِي الأُخْرَى، وَإِمَّا أَنْ يَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ مِنَ السُّوءِ مِثْلَهَا»

قَالُوا: إذًا نُكْثِرُ؟ قَالَ:

«اللهُ أَكْثَر»

(No Muslim supplicates to Allah with a Du`a that does not involve sin or cutting the relations of the womb, but Allah will grant him one of the three things. He will either hasten the response to his supplication, save it for him until the Hereafter, or would turn an equivalent amount of evil away from him.”) They said, “What if we were to recite more (Du`a).” He said, (There is more with Allah.)

5. The response (Jawab Al-Shart)  to the conditional statement (Jumala al-Shartiya)  was brought before the condition (al-Shart), so He (SWT) said: أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ  – I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me – He (SWT) did not say ; when he calls on Me  I answer the prayer of the suppliant – this to indicate the strength of the response of the prayer.

6. He (SWT) said –  إِذَا دَعَانِ – when he calls me – and did not say:    إن دَعَانِ – if he calls me, this to indicate the servant should make many supplications frequently. This is because of the instrument of condition إِذَا indicates on certainty and frequency of occurrence, unlike إن. A lot of supplication and insistence is the reason for acceptance.

7. He (SWT) said:   أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me – Therefore the supplication is the condition for acceptance and it is sought, in fact, it is the core of worship.

Our Lord becomes angry when no one calls Him, and Indeed he was angry with the nations by seising them with distress and affliction so that they may humble themselves.

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ أُمَمٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَـٰهُم بِٱلْبَأْسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ ﴿٤٢﴾ فَلَوْلَآ إِذْ جَآءَهُم بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا۟ وَلَـٰكِن قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ مَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ

And certainly, We sent (apostles) to nations before you then We seized them with distress and affliction in order that they might humble themselves. Yet why did they not, when Our punishment came to them, humble themselves? But their hearts hardened and the Shaitan made what they did fair-seeming to them. TMQ [6:42-43]

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَـٰهُم بِٱلْعَذَابِ فَمَا ٱسْتَكَانُوا۟ لِرَبِّهِمْ وَمَا يَتَضَرَّعُونَ

And already We overtook them with chastisement, but they were not submissive to their Lord, nor do they humble themselves.TMQ [23:76]

And He (SWT) said to His Prophet (ﷺ):

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ ٱلْفَلَقِ

Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn, TMQ[1:113]

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ ٱلنَّاسِ

Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of men, TMQ[1:114]

He (SWT) commanded him (ﷺ) to seek refuge verbally, and it is not sufficient to conceal in the emotions in the heart.

8. He (SWT) said: أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ –  I answer the prayer of the caller when he calls on Me – and did not say – I answer their prayer when they call me – or: say to them indeed I respond to their prayers when they call me – and that is for inclusiveness to include every caller and not to specify any callers that call Him, so it includes every call until the day of judgement.

9. He said: عِبَادِى – my servants with the yaa and did not say عِبَادِ  with the omission of the pronoun yaa to indicate that it is necessary for all of his servants to pray to him.  Indeed in the Quran عِبَادِى is used for those who are more in number than عِبَاد ِ.

فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لِى

so they should answer My call

They answer to me when I call them to Iman and obedience just as I answer them for their needs.  [Al Bahrul Al Muhit]

وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى

and believe in Me

Because it is a matter of steadfastness and constant faith. [Ruhul Al Maani]

Like his saying: يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ ءَامِنُوا۟  – O you who believe! believe… TMQ[4:136]

It came in Nazm al-Durar fi Tanasub

“ As he made compulsory to respond to Him (SWT) in everything he invited us to, and considering The acceptance of Belief in the first and the worthy  rank that should be responded to, while the ranks of Iman _ according to being it strong or weak _ are almost infinite ‘ he said addressing those who believed and others – لْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى let them believe in me – and he means by that the absolute belief or the true belief”

لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

that they may walk in the right way.

I.e. He guides them in the worldly and religious  interests, and it is the cause of good in this world and hereafter [ Ruhul Al-Maani]

The previous ayat mentioned:

وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا۟ ٱللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَىٰكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.

It was said to indicate that supplication is after the praise of Allah (SWT) [Bahrul Al Muhit] and his obedience like His saying :

ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ – Keep us on the right path – which praise of Allah (SWT) was mentioned before it. 

Abu Yusuf