Man, despite his pride, recognizes that fundamentally he is a weak and limited creature. At times of great despair and distress there is a deep-rooted primordial instinct in man to turn towards an omnipotent, all-hearing power who will help him. We call this power “God”, in Islam “Allah”. Examples of such times are if a man is drowning, or very close to death, or a loved one is sick and dying. Man, no matter how wealthy, successful, intelligent or proud he might be then realizes how powerless he is and turns to a greater power.
In Islam, praying as in the daily act of worship performed 5 times a day is called “salah”. The act of praying, as in supplicating to Allah and asking him for something is called “du’a“. However the act of asking the all-powerful one is something universal to all and usually done in times of great need.
According to Islam, Allah does not get tired of us turning to him, calling him for help. Humans however are the opposite. If we have a friend, no matter how close, they will eventually have some frustration if we constantly ask them for help. Allah is the opposite, the more we ask him, the better. Du’a is an act of worship. It is an act which emanates from man’s realization that he is weak and limited and that the creator is not. Every time we turn towards him we are thus saying he is all powerful.
The Quran says: “And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)!” ( Surah 40 Verse 60)
Anyone can turn to the creator and ask him in any language. However in Islam there are guidelines.
Best manner of du’a.
Islam tells us that the best way to do du’a is to raise your hands and to:
-Praise Allah and call him by his names in Arabic, i.e. “Ya Rahman” (Oh Merciful one) or “Ya Razzaq” (Oh provider)
-Ask for peace and prayers on his beloved prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
-To make the du’a three times. It is preferrable to do a du’a which the prophet himself (peace be upon him) did, but any du’a in any language is fine as long as it does not ask for something which is wrong.
- Then to finish the du’a by praising Allah and asking for peace and prayers on his prophet (peace be upon him) once again.
Best times for du’a
There are times or situations when du’a is more likely to be accepted or is stronger. These include
- In the last third of the night, when pious Muslims often stay up engaged in prayer.
- When one is a traveller.
- When one has been oppressed. The du’a of the oppresssed is very powerful, this is why in history many tyrants and mighty rulers have faced a humiliating end.
- When one is sick, or are visiting a sick person.
- After one has finished doing wudhu’ (ablutions to perform prayer).
- Between the time of the adhan (call to prayer) and the iqamah.
- When prostrating during prayer.
- Also du’a done in a group e.g behind an Imam after prayer is stronger than if it is done individually.
“Why is my du’a not answered?”
Du’a will only be accepted if a person’s income, the food he eats, and his clothing are not earned in a way which is against Islam. If a person sold drugs, which is against Islam, then his du’a would not be accepted.
Allah is the lord of the worlds, and the master of all. He is our master and we are his servants. He is not our servant and cannot be ordered by us. Du’a is not like going to a vending machine and putting in a coin and then getting a soft drink. This attitude is disrespectful to the lord of the worlds. Du’a requires humility and sincerity and at times can be likened to growing a plant. It will take time for the plant to come into full fruition, but we must be patient, water the plant and wait. If a person becomes impatient for his du’a to be accepted and even says “Allah does not grant my du’a” then his du’a will be rejected by Allah. If we are patient, and make du’a regularly and have trust in Allah and never doubt him and accept whatever his decision is, we will ultimately see the fruits of this and that du’a that we made will come to be, it will blossom as the trees do in spring.
Allah may chose to:
1. Give us what we ask for.
2. Not give it to us, but give us something else – maybe that particular thing which we have asked for – instead in the next world.
3. Avert hardship or problems from us.
However there is no obligation upon the lord of the worlds to accept all du’as. For example if a man is abusive towards his wife, this is against the teachings of Islam which encourage tenderness and love between couples. Here are some sayings of the prophet, peace be upon him, related to this.
“Allah is not merciful to he who is not merciful to people “.
“The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character, and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
(Hadiths – sayings of the prophet, peace be upon him, from Bukhari and Tirmihdi).
Allah does not love anyone being abused, the prophet informed us of an incident when a woman from the children of Israel who was a whore was thirsty and went to a well to drink. After quenching her thirst she saw a dog which was thirsty like her, seeing this she felt moved and climbed the well, put water in her shoe and then climbed back out and fed the dog. For this act, the prophet (peace be upon him) told us that this woman was given paradise by the lord of the worlds.
So if a man is abusive to others, cheats, commits sins, and steals and then turns towards Allah supplicating towards him, then Allah may reject his du’a due to his sins.
Making your du’a stronger.
We can make our du’a stronger by mentioning something which Allah loves. For example on a human level we can make a request to a friend stronger by saying things such as “Do you remember when I helped you?” or “I am your brother’s friend”. We can do a similar thing with Allah and in Arabic this is called tawassul.
The three universally accepted forms of tawassul in Islam (this is a deep and complex issue in Islamic jurispudence) are:
1. To ask Allah by his names and attributes.
So we can say “Ya Allah (Oh Allah), Ya Rahman, Ya Hakeem (Oh merciful one, Oh wise one) and then make our du’a.
We can also see this in our daily lives, if we address someone by his title or role then we will get a better response, for example instead of “Dear Leader, please help us” we could say “Dear Leader, you are the one who is the defender of this nation and its values, please help us”.
2. To ask someone more pious than us.
We can go to a Muslim whom we feel is a good person and closer to Allah than us. For example if someone was a weak Muslim and would do things which were wrong he could ask someone to make du’a for him. In our own daily lives we see that a person in authority would respond to the request of someone they were closer to, than us.
3. To mention your good deeds.
In our du’a we can say things such as “Oh Allah, I pray regularly, please accept my du’a.” or “Oh lord, by my fasting in Ramadan, accept my du’a”. Whether it be praying, fasting, even smiling at someone (which counts as a good deed in Islam), helping an old lady across the road and so on, the mention of a good deed makes our du’a far stronger, as it would do in our daily lives.
Reading the Quran.
The Quran is the most extraordinary book in the history of mankind. There is no other book which is held in as much reverence as it is. No other book memorized by heart by as many people as it has. Despite all the conflicts, differences between Muslims, this book has been preserved for 1400 years and is the same all across the world whether it be from Morocco or Indonesia. Years ago a man mentioned how the Muslims are like a man in a forest looking for his way out, whilst he has the map in his pocket. The Quran is such a map. One’s du’a can be made far stronger with the reading of the Quran. Aside from du’a however, the Quran should be read and recited anyway. The Quran is only in Arabic and no other language, everything else is merely an attempt to translate the meaning. After reading the Quran one can make du’a, and one can make one’s reading of the Quran a form of tawassul. The true nature of the Quran is not understood by many. It is not only a book for reading and contemplation but it is also akin to medicine or a perfume from which a sweet and fragrant odour emanates. The reading of the Quran in a house revives the house, and where there may have been conflict, bitterness and strife before, the fragrance of the Quran brings in happiness, peace and tranquility if recited regularly.
The recitation of the Quran bring in blessings to a home as we were informed by the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) when he told us that reading the second chapter of the Quran, i.e. Al-Baqarah led to shaytan being absent from the house for three days.
“Do not turn your houses into graves. Shaytan is barred from any home where Surah Baqarah has been recited.”
So just as putting flowers or perfumes in our houses bring in a pleasant smell, the recitation of the Quran can be like an air freshener which removes or decreases the foul smell of sins. Every sin is something dirty and unclean. A child being rude to his parent, a woman not being respected by her husband, constant arguments and fights are all forms of sin and are all dirt. The way to end them if one is to turn to Allah and to do good deeds including the recitation of the Quran, especially Suratul-Baqarah (the 2nd “surah” i.e. chapter of the Quan).
The Quran is like a treasure full of precious jewels. There is a saying in the English language that “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. The Quran is full of diamonds and other jewels and is far superior. It can be the best friend of those who recite it in times of need. Just as precious stones have their own special qualities and properties, so do the surahs (chapters) of the Quran.
First Surah of the Quran, if recited properly can cure any sickness.
I myself read this surah once for a problem and soon after someone showed me a cure for a problem I had.
12th chapter of the Quran which is about the life of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph, peace be upon him) and his trials and tribulations. It gives its reader happiness. It was revealed in what is called in Islam, “The Year of Sadness”, when the prophet (peace be upon him) saw both his wife and uncle, a supporter of the oppressed Muslims, die. I read it once whilst going through some problems and after a day or two inexplicably felt rejuvenated and happier.
36th Surah of the Quran and can be used when there is some affliction or trouble which has befallen you. I have read it and it caused my problems to either lessen greatly or to be removed entirely.
56th Surah of the Quran. The prophet (peace be upon him) said of it:
“The one who reads Surah Waqiah at night will not face poverty.”
I read it after a contract of mine had finished and I was looking for work. A few hours later I recieved a phone call regarding employment.
Ayatul Kursi (The verse of the Throne).
The Quran is the greatest book in the world, and ayatul kursi (ayah = verse, kursi = throne) is the greatest verse in the entire Quran and has huge power.
Ayatul Kursi, ‘The Verse of the Throne’.
Here is the transliteration: Allahu la ilaha illa Huwa, Al-Hayyul-Qaiyum La ta’khudhuhu sinatun wa la nawm, lahu ma fis-samawati wa ma fil-’ard Man dhal-ladhi yashfa’u ‘indahu illa bi-idhnihi Ya’lamu ma bayna aidihim wa ma khalfahum, wa la yuheetuna bi shai’in-min ‘ilmihi illa bima sha’a Wasi’a kursiyuhus-samawati wal ard, wa la ya’uduhu hifdhuhuma Wa Huwal ‘Aliyul-Adheem
There is no god but He,
The Living, the Everlasting,
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep,
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there that can intercede with His, except by His leave?
He knows what lies before them and what is after them,
And they comprehend not anything of His Knowledge save as He wills.
His throne comprises the heavens and the earth,
The preserving of them fatigues Him not,
And He is the All-High, All-Glorious.
I have read this verse in times of need and Allah helped me on many occassions, for which I thank him.
Verse 9, Surah Yasin.
The transliteration is:
Waja’alnaa mim bayni aydeehim saddan wamin khalfihim saddan faaghshaynaahum fahum laa yubsiroon.
Translation: And We have put a bar in front of them and a bar behind them, and further, We have covered them up; so that they cannot see.
This verse is recited and then one blows into their hands and wipes over themselves. It makes others not notice you or oblivious to your presence. It is often used by practising Muslims with beards or hijab who encounter prejudice, hostile looks and so on.
20th Surah of the Quran. Frequent reading of this, for example tens of times, with du’a can help one find a marriage partner for yourself or for members of your family.
To conclude du’a (supplication) universal to all human cultures across time and space and stems from a very fundamental awareness of man’s weak nature, his impotency and that there is one who unlike man is all-powerful. In our lives we are constantly asking and requesting for things, however the fundamental giver of all things is Allah. Whereas if we ask friends for something, if done frequently, then it can lead to annoyance. You are asking your friend to divert their own time and effort onto helping you, whilst your friend is busy with other things. Therefore we are accustomed to not asking too much. However with Allah it is different, every time we ask him something this counts as an act of worship, and the more we ask him, even if it be something as supposedly “trivial” as a shoelace (as mentioned in a statement of the prophet peace be upon him). Du’a has been described by the prophet (peace be upon him) as the weapon of the believer. With it he or she is able to overcome difficulties and hardships that he or she faces in this life, and this life is fundamentally a test. Du’a is something neglected by many Muslims and so is the reading of the Quran. The pious Muslims of the past would read around 20 pages of the Quran every day. For many of us, if we are new Muslims, or do not know Arabic this is difficult. However it should be done gradually, even if it’s just reading two verses every day for a year. With increased reading of the Quran and du’a we will see blessings flow into our lives and not just ourselves, but if many of us do this and pray for other suffering people we will see the state of the Muslim world and the world in general improve.