Immersed as we are in this materialistic world, many of us forget that material causes do not produce the desired effects independently of the Will of Allah. We forget to achieve total reliance on Allah and we often neglect to implement the moral causes for achieving our goals. One such moral cause that has become forgotten today is Du’a, the humble supplication of a believer to Allah. Even when it is remembered, it is not performed in the correct way and comes out weak. We can strengthen our Du’a by fulfilling the conditions for its acceptance and observing the manners of its performance.
Many virtues of Du’a have been mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah:
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, (tell them) I am indeed near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls”
“And your Lord said, invoke Me and I will respond to your invocation”
“Invoke your Lord with humility and in secrecy”
“So invoke Allah making your worship pure for Him”
Nu’man bin Bashir relates that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Du’a is Ibadah (worship)” [Tirmidhi]
Abu Hurairah’s narration of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam): “Anyone who does not invoke Allah, will cause Allah to be angry with him.” (Ahmad)
Acceptance of Du‘a
For one’s Du’a to be accepted, one must:
Direct it solely to Allah: “Invoke Him only, making your religion sincere to Him”
(Qur’an 7:29). Also, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said in a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas; “If you ask, ask Allah and if you seek help, seek help from Allah.” (Ahmad, Tirmithi)
Perform the Du’a in conformity with the Shari’ah: The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said: “Whoever innovates in this matter of ours, something which is not part of it, it will be rejected.” If a person is sincere but is not following the Sunnah, his worship is rejected. Similarly, if a person is following the Sunnah but his work is not sincerely done for the sake of Allah, his worship is still rejected.
Trust in Allah and certainty of reply: One must be certain that Allah does whatever He wishes, whenever He wishes. Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “And there is nothing, but with Us are the stores thereof. And We do not send it down except with a known measure”
(Qur’an 15:21). In a Hadith Qudsi narrated by Abu Dharr, Allah revealed through the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam), “O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request from Me, and were I to give everyone what they requested, that would not decrease what I have anymore than a needle decreases the sea if put into it” (Muslim)
Presence of the heart: Always make sure that your heart is mindful when you are supplicating because Allah does not answer a Du’a from an inattentive heart. Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Invoke Allah while you are certain to be answered and know that Allah does not answer a Du’a from a heart which is inattentive and unmindful” (Tirmidhi).
Determination and perseverance: It is a requirement when supplicating, to appeal to Allah with determination. We must not make any exceptions by saying “O Allah forgive me if You wish”. Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said: “None of you should say ‘O Allah forgive me if You wish,’ ‘O Allah Be Merciful to me if You Wish’; but he must appeal to Allah with determination, for nobody can force Allah to do something against His Will.” (Tirmidhi).
Reasons that may cause our Du’a to be rejected include the following:
Haraam: Haraam eating, drinking and clothing are all strictly prohibited and are major reasons for the rejection of Du’a. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which He commanded the Messengers. He (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) then mentioned the case of a man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying: “O Lord, O Lord” while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered? (Muslim). Abu Bakr said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) saying ‘Every body which is nourished with that which is unlawful, will be first in the fire’
Hastiness and abandonment: One must be patient for ones Du’a to be accepted, as hastiness is one of the causes for its rejection or disapproval. Abu Hurairah narrated that Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “The invocation of any one of you is granted (by Allah) as long as he does not show impatience by saying ‘I have invoked Allah but my request has not been answered’” (Bukhari). In another narration by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “A servant is granted his request as long as he does not invoke Allah for a sin, or to break kinship ties, and he does not make haste.”
Committing sins: Allah said, “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”
(Qur’an 13:11). That is to say, if a people’s condition is good, Allah will maintain it as long as they are grateful and do not disobey Him. Similarly, if the condition of a people is bad, Allah will maintain it for them as long as they remain ungrateful and insist on disobeying him.
Abandonment of obligatory deeds: Just as doing good deeds is a reason for the acceptance of Du’a, similarly, abandoning good deeds is a reason for the rejection of Du’a. Hudaifah, narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “By Him, in whose hand is my soul, you should enjoin good and forbid evil or else it is likely that Allah will send a punishment upon you and then you will invoke Him and you will not be answered” (Tirmithi). So, for example, how could those who have constantly neglected and abandoned Fajr prayers in the Masjid expect that their Du’a will be answered?
Insha Allah: Some people, when supplicating, have a habit of saying “May Allah forgive you Insha Allah,” “May Allah help you Insha Allah.” The use of the word Insha Allah must be avoided in Du’a.
Asking for a sin, or to break the bondage of kinship: The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Any Muslim who supplicates to Allah in a Du’a which contains no sin or breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his Du’a will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)”. The companions said “...so we will ask for more.” He replied, “Allah is more (generous).” [Ahmad]
Etiquette of Du‘a
The correct manner of invoking Allah is:
Hamd and Salawat: To begin with exalting Allah and sending blessings upon the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) . Abdullah bin Mas’ood narrated, “I was praying while the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Omar were together. After I sat (in the last Tashahhud), I began with praising Allah then I said blessings upon the Prophet and then I prayed for myself. The Prophet, said, “Ask (and) you will be given. Ask (and) you will be given.” (Tirmithi)
Du’a at times of trouble and of pleasure: One must not make it a habit to remember Allah only at the time of trouble but he must constantly remember Allah in all circumstances. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “(Anyone who is pleased) that Allah responds to him at the time of trouble and distress, (should) increase Du’a at the time of calmness.” (Tirmithi).
Avoid Du’a against ones family, wealth and children: Jabir narrated a hadith about a man who cursed his animal. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Who is this who cursed his animal?” The man replied, “It is me O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said, “Get down from it for a cursed one must not escort us. Do not pray against yourselves, do not pray against your children and do not pray against your wealth. It might coincide with a time when Allah answers what you asked for.” (Muslim)
Lower ones voice: Invoke Allah in a low tone as it is closer to sincerity: “Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He does not like the aggressors”
(Qur’an 37:55). And He also tells us: “And remember your Lord by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and with fear without loudness in words, in the morning and in the afternoon and be not of those who are neglectful.”
Perseverance: We must attend to our Du’a with perseverance, repetition and persistence. Ibn Rajab suggests that we invoke Allah with His names and attributes as this is among the greatest means of having our Du’a accepted.
Repetition: It is preferable to repeat you Du’a three times as it is more likely to be answered. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) cursed a few members of the Quraish thrice when they placed the abdominal contents of a camel on his back whilst in sajdah.
Confession: Confess your sins with sincere regret for your mistakes although Allah is aware of all your actions. It is also worthwhile to acknowledge all of Allah’s mercy bestowed upon you. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) taught his ummah the Sayyid-ul-Istighfar which acknowledges the favour of Allah upon oneself.
Face the Qiblah: One of the good manners when making Du’a is to face the Qiblah however, this is not compulsory. Abdullah bin Zaid narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) came to this place of worship to pray Istisqaa for rain so he invoked Allah and prayed for rain. Then he faced the Qiblah and overturned his gown (Bukhari).
Raise ones hands: It is a recommended practice to raise one’s hands in making Du’a as it was done by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) at different occasions. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrated, “The Prophet invoked and raised his hands and I saw the whiteness of his armpits.” (Bukhari)
Make wudhu: Although it is not compulsory, one is recommended to supplicate Allah while he is in a state of wudhu (ablution). When Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) invoked Allah on behalf of Abi ’Amir he first performed wudhu. (Muslim)
Cry with the fear of Allah: Abdullah bin ’Umar narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) recited the verse in which Ibrahim alayhis-salaam is invoking Allah: “O my Lord, they [the idols] have indeed led astray many among mankind. But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. and whoever disobeys me, still you are indeed Most Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Ibrahim, 36). In another verse, Isa alayhis-salaam is invoking Allah: “If you punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You-only You are the Almighty, the All-wise” (Al-Ma’idah, 118). And Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) then raised his hands and said, “Allahumma Ummati, Ummati (O Allah, my nation, my nation)’ and then he cried.
Make Du’a for oneself before making Du’a for others: It is Sunnah in Du’a to start with yourself prior to mentioning others as was collected by Tirmidhi in the narration of Ubay bin Ka’ab that if someone was mentioned to the Prophet, he would invoke Allah for him but would begin with himself. However, it was also narrated of Allah’s Messenger that, on certain occasions, he would not begin with himself.
Do not trangress in Du’a: When appealing to Allah in Du’a, we should not get into much detail by asking for the different rewards of Jannah. ‘Abdullah bin Mughaffal heard his son saying: “O Allah, I ask you for the white palace on the right of the Paradise if I were to enter it”. So he said, “Dear son, ask Allah for Paradise and seek refuge from the [Hell) fire for I have heard the Messenger of Allah saying, ‘there will come in this nation people who will transgress (or exceed) in ablution and Du’a.” (Abu Dawood).
Make Du’a for ones parents: It is good to mention one’s Muslim parents (dead or alive) in invocation for the great favour they owe us, a favour which can never be compensated. Allah said, “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy and say, ‘My Rab, bestow on them Your mercy as they did raise me when I was young”
Make Du’a for the believers: One is recommended to remember the Muslims and the Mu’mins around the globe in his invocation. Allah said “Ask forgiveness for your sin and also for the believing men and women”
Ask Allah alone: Instead of complaining to people when struck by calamity, one must make it a habit to ask Allah alone for refuge. However, there is no harm to mention your problem to people and share their opinion. In the hadith narrated by Ibn ’Abbas, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said to him while he was riding behind him on the same mount, “Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask only Allah and if you seek help, seek help only from Allah. And know that if all the nations were to gather together to benefit you, they would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and if they gather together to harm you, they would harm you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages are dry.” (Tirmidhi).