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The Tafsīr of: “Seek Help with Patience and Prayer”

Imām Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī

Can prayers actually protect you from falling into acts of disobedience and coping with the trials of the dunyā?

Allāh says,

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ ‎﴿١٥٣﴾‏

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
[al-Baqarah, 2:153]

Imām Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī [d. 310 AH] said:

If someone was to say to us: We know very clearly what it means to seek [Allāh’s] help with patience regarding fulfilling our duty towards Him and continuously engaging in acts of obedience. But regarding the order to seek help [from Allāh] in carrying out acts of obedience and leaving disobedient acts, and leaving the desire to have a high standing and other than it from the [pleasures] of this dunyā; how can this help be sought] with ṣalāh?

We say [in reply]: Truly, ṣalāh consists of the recitation of the Book of Allāh. Its āyāt calls one to rejection of worldly pleasures and abandonment of its bounties. It offers a consolation for our souls from its beauty and trickery. It reminds us of the ākhirā (hereafter) and what Allāh has promised its inhabitants [in jannah]. Thus, the one who desires to engage in acts of obedience may take a lesson from it, which consequently drives him towards obedience with increased determination. Just as it is narrated that if any matter would cause concern for our Prophet [ﷺ], he would rush towards ṣalāh.

Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 2:11-12
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: April 20, 2022
Edited: May 2, 2023

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