Dua. A conversation with Allah
Personal and emotive, a simple dua can express what our inner soul is quite literally calling out for. A simple dua can evoke our hearts and bring us closer to our Creator. A simple dua can make the difference between being content or having inner turmoil in our soul. In fact, it IS what quintessentially makes us Muslim - An-Nu'man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"Du'a (supplication) is worship" (Abu Dawud).
In ease and in hardship
In a succinct hadith, we have been reminded of the virtue of seeking the remembrance of Allah, and asking from Him in times of ease, for it brings us additional bounties in a time of adversity; Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever would be pleased for Allah to answer him during times of hardship and difficulty, let him supplicate often during times of ease” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 3382).
The lessons that can be gained from this are many, reminding us that the remembrance of Allah and the supplicating to Allah is something that is continual, and not just a tool used in times of adversity.
Imagine a scenario where we take a friend, a beloved friend, and we keep his company continuously, often calling upon him, meeting with him, conversing with him, building the relationship with love and care, making sure to never miss an opportunity to remember this dear friend; should then an opportunity ever arise where we need help and assistance, a time of difficulty approaches us, a calamity befall us, then how would this beloved behave towards us? Whilst this example can never do justice to the relationship that we should have with Allah, it may bring this hadith to life for some of us - for it acts as a reminder that if we supplicate doing times of ease, then we should be pleased with Allah answering us in our time of need.
Another benefit to take is that of the fullness and the richness of the heart. There are many instances where the rich and famous of this world live a life of turmoil, whilst they have every need from this worldly life fulfilled - they have more money than they can spend, they are known across the globe due to their fame, they have success upon success, stardom and fandom, yet we hear of many of these individuals suffering from depression, to the extent that hearing of the the rich and famous suffering from addictions is common place, or to hear of the death of a person is another sad reality; a common pattern is despite the worldly success, the heart has no contentment and remains unfulfilled. Without the remembrance of Allah, there will be no peace, tranquility or happiness of the heart. Allah says: "But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur'an nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship" (Qur'an 20:124)
The best thing to do to obtain peace of heart and mind, happiness and tranquility is through the remembrance of Allah, and Allah says: "...verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest" (Qur'an 13:28), and verily, dua is just one of the many acts that can be undertaken in remembering Allah, and it is this perseverance with the remembrance of Allah that results in the richness of the heart.
Drawing closer to Allah
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: When My servant draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the cubit and when he draws close to Me by the cubit, I draw close to him by the space [covered] by two armspans, and when he comes to me walking, I go in a hurry towards him (Muslim).
When we call to Allah, the best place for us is in sujood, as we are the closest to Allah in this position. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "A slave becomes nearest to his Raab when he is in prostration. So increase supplications in prostrations" (Muslim).
We should run towards Allah with our hopes, fears and wishes. In the last part of the night when many are asleep in their beds, we should rise and go to Allah with our dua, for He is there waiting, every night, to hear our cries. How many of us take that opportunity for Allah to hear us and answer us?
Abu Umamah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked: "At what time does the supplication find the greatest response?" He (peace be upon him) replied, "A supplication made during the middle of the last part of the night and after the conclusion of the obligatory prayers" (At-Tirmidhi).
Abu Umamah [may Allah be pleased with him] said `Amr bin `Abasah reported to me that he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: “The closest that the Lord is to a worshipper is during the last part of the night, so if you are able to be of those who remember Allah in that hour, then do so” (Tirmidhi).
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said “Our Lord descends every night to the nearest heaven, until the last third of the night remains, so He says: ‘Who is calling upon Me so that I may answer him? Who is asking from Me so that I may give him? And who is seeking forgiveness from Me, so that I may forgive him’” (Tirmidhi).
In these hadith, we can see how Allah responds to our call, and that from every effort that we make, Allah replies with multiples of that effort. There are further ways in which we can draw closer, so it is not just in the mere effort of raising our hands when in need, but also in the places that we ask, and the times that we ask, making sure that we use the most effective places of making dua in sujood of prayer, and in the time of Qiyam.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah thus stated:
“I live in the thought of My servant as he thinks of Me and with him as he calls Me” (Muslim).
In reflection of the hadith above, we must think positively of Allah, and know that Allah will respond to our dua, and have certainty, for if we do, then that is how we will find Allah... the following verse clarifies this matter for us: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright” (Qur'an 2:186). It is therefore important to note that if we do not believe in the might of Allah, and do not have hope in Allah, and if we approach Allah and ask of Him without conviction, without certainty, and without trust, then the above verse of the Qur'an also clarifies that a condition of dua is tawheed and belief in Allah alone.
We must have certainty that Allah will respond, and focusing with proper presence of mind, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Call upon Allah when you are certain of a response, and remember that Allah will not answer a dua that comes from a negligent and heedless heart” (Tirmidhi, 3479; classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2766).
In asking of Allah, it is imperative that we ask for that which is halal, and to refrain from asking for that which is impermissible, and to refrain from asking for an act that involves severing the ties of kinship; 'Ubadah bin As-Samit (May Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Whenever a Muslim supplicates Allah, He accepts his supplication or averts any similar kind of trouble from him until he prays for something sinful or something that may break the ties of kinship." Upon this someone of the Companions said: "Then we shall supplicate plenty." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Allah is more plentiful (in responding)" (At- Tirmidhi).
Jabir narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“There is none who utters a supplication, except that Allah gives him what he asked, or prevents evil from him that is equal to it – as long as he does not supplicate for something evil, or the cutting of ties of the womb” (Tirmidhi).
Be patient and steadfast and use the best manners
When life’s difficulties become too much to bear, we should take a moment alone to remember that this life is full of trials and struggles, and that we will be tested regularly
“Do they not see that they are tried every year once or twice but then they do not repent nor do they remember?” (Qur'an, (9:126).
We have not been left alone to deal with everything on weak shoulders. This life was never meant to be the heaven we wish and long for, but Allah has placed in us all, the ability to make dua. Duas are there to help us deal with the struggle. It is our direct communication with our Lord. A communication that will never be engaged or busy and where you will always find ease. Allah says:
"Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease" (Qur'an, 94: 5&6)
"O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient..." (Qur'an, 2:153).
A person should ask his Lord for whatever he wants of the good things in this world and the Hereafter, and he should beseech Allah in dua, and not seek a hasty response, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The slave will receive a response so long as his dua does not involve sin or severing of family ties, and so long as he is not hasty.” It was said, “What does being hasty mean?” He said: “When he says, ‘I made dua and I made dua, and I have not seen any response,’ and he gets frustrated and stops making dua’” (Al-Bukhari, 6340; Muslim, 2735).
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “One of you will be responded to, so long as he is not hasty, saying: ‘I supplicated, and I was not responded to’” (Tirmidhi).
So we should be patient in this conversation with Allah. Everything that happens, happens for our good, even if in the moment we cannot see how or why. It is only when you look back on a particular time of your life, that you can see the beautiful road you have been walking upon.
Related to the matters of using the best of etiquettes, sending blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) counts amongst them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every dua is kept back until you send blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” (Al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat, 1/220; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4399). When you ask, do so in secret and with humility, for Allah says:
“Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret” (Qur'an 7:55)
“Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us” (Qur'an, 21:90)
and finally, ensure that your sustenance is pure. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said in a long narration '...mentioned a man who travels for a long distance and is disheveled and dusty, and he stretches forth his hands towards heaven saying, ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ but his food is haram, his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, he has been nourished with haram, so how can he be responded to?' (Muslim, 1015).
Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said that ensuring that one’s food, drink and clothing are halal, and that one is nourished with halal, is a means of having one’s dua answered.