Purpose of supplication ( Dua’ ) in the Religion of Islam
Supplication is the English translation of Islamic terminology ‘dua’. It is a ‘humble prayer’ to Allah by believing man and woman for their welfare in this world and afterlife. It is something like asking; ‘O’ Allah guide me to the right path, ‘O’ Allah provide me with provisions’’ ‘O’Allah give me cure from sickness, ‘O’ Allah show mercy to me, ‘O’ Allah give us Heaven and save from Hellfire.
- Supplication is worship of Allah
Islam encourage supplication to the extent that it is treated as Worship. How generous Allah! We are supplicating for our need and Allah is giving this status of Worship.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Supplication is the very essence of Worship” (At-Tirmidhi).
“Allah is angry with a person who does not ask Allah for something for his/her.” (At-Tirmidhi).
“When you ask (for anything), ask it from Allah, and if you seek help, seek help from Allah” (At-Tirmidhi).
“Nothing is more honorable before Allah than Supplication” (At-Tirmidhi).
Based on above references we can conclude that supplication is an important religious duty for every Muslim. For this reason, we find Supplication is in practice among Muslims from Prophet’s (PBUH) time until to date. Muslims starts their day with supplication, go out from home to work with supplication, starts work with supplication and at the end of work supplicates to Allah for acceptance.
- What is the purpose of supplication, why it is so important?
Philosophy behind supplication is to develop psychological, emotional and spiritual status of humankind by connecting people with Creator. Supplication establishes direct link with Allah, teaches people to rely on Allah, teaches people to be self-dependent with the help of Allah and not to be burden on one another, humble supplication to Allah educates believers to be humble with people , seeking help from Allah instead of any other human being like him brings dignity and finally supplication directs people to work hard as obedient servant of Allah for getting whatever he/she wants and then supplicate to Allah for help to get that .
Faith in the help of Allah through supplication provides him/her extra strength at work to achieve his/her needs. Instead of being lethargy and inactive, believers try to apply all natural means for success and then seek help from Allah. Allah accept these sorts of supplication and gives whatever a believer ask through supplication.
Supplication in one side kills the pride by making believers humble and on the other side save people from being weak to someone like him by asking something. Believers are always connected with Allah through formal and informal supplication. Frequency of this contact may even be more than fixed ritual prayers. Frequent contact with Allah helps to maintain purity in life and avoid evil. Result of above psychological and spiritual situation of believers bring positive change in their lives and in the society they live. Many good things start to flourish by their noble work with the help of Allah.
- When should we make supplication?
There is highly recommended time and method for supplication. However, believers can ask Allah for help at any time without formality. Whenever we need anything, we can pray to Allah for help. Before making any decision, we should seek help from Allah for correct decision. While doing any work we should seek help from Allah for doing the work efficiently without mistake. In addition, supplication shall be done at the end of work for acceptance by Allah and reward from Him.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Make supplication to Allah when you are certain of a response” (At- Tirmidhi). Response of Allah comes after hard work by supplicator to achieve what he/she has asked from Him and has waited for result with patience. So mental preparation for hard work and patience is required before supplication and endeavor should continue after supplication until result is achieved.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated some Special time when chances of acceptance of supplication by Allah is high. These are as follows:
- After five times daily obligatory prayer. (At- Tirmidhi).
- Between Adhan (call for prayer) and Iqama (start of prayer). (Ahmed, Abu Dawud).
- While prostrating. (Muslim, Abu Dawud).
- In the month of Ramadan (Bukhari, Muslim).
- While breaking the fast at Iftar (Ahmed, Tirmidhi).
- Nights in last third of the month of Ramadan (Bukhari).
- While visiting the sick person (Muslim).
- While travelling ( Bayhaqi, Tirmidhi).
- During the rain ( Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah).
- On the Day of Arafat ( Tirmidhi).
- How to make supplication acceptable and why sometime our supplication is not answered?
- Acceptance of supplication depends on how firmly we pursue to achieve something. Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah love those who earnestly persists in supplication” (At-Tirmidhi).
- Concentration and focus on subject matter of supplication is necessary to succeed in getting what we desire through action and supplication.
Prophet (PBUH) said: “Know that Allah does not answer a supplication from a distracted soul” (At- Tirmidhi).
- One needs to live pure life for his supplication to be accepted. His every action must be lawful. His income and expenditure must be in lawful manner.
Prophet (PBUH) said: “one who desires to have his supplication accepted, should purify his food and earnings”.
He also said: “He lifts his hands and make supplications, ‘O’ Lord, ‘O’ Lord! but his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How then can his supplication be accepted”? (Muslim).
By making acceptance of supplication conditional to lawful living, Islam aims to make people honest and law-abiding member of the society. Only honest and law-abiding people can bring peace and prosperity in the society.
- For acceptance of supplication, a supplicant needs to try hard to get what he/she is seeking through supplication.
Prophet (pbuh) said: “A supplicant (who prays) without effort and endeavor is like an archer without a bowstring”. An archer cannot shoot without bowstring. Same is the fate of a supplicant who prays to Allah for something without making effort to get that. His/her supplication may not give what he/she desires.
By making acceptance of supplication conditional to endeavor, Islam wants to eliminate laziness in people. If people are lazy, they cannot prosper.
- Patience is another key factor for acceptance of supplication.
Prophet (PBUH) said : “ The supplication of anyone of you will be answered so long as he does not seek to hasten it, and does not say, ‘ I made supplication but I had no answer’ “ (Bukhari, Muslim).
This factor for acceptance of supplication educates a believer to practice patience in every affairs of life. Work with patience ultimately brings success. On the other hand, lack of patience in decision-making and at work may end up with wrong decision and mistake at work. Most of the damages in oneself, family and nation happens due to lack of patience in making decision and pursuing an action.
- Another important aspect for acceptance of supplication is to promote good and forbid evil in the society. Prophet (PBUH) said: “You must encourage to do the good and forbid the evil or else Allah will cause the evil ones to prevail over the righteous ones from amongst you, and however much they may pray,( their prayers) shall not be answered”.
“By one in whose hand is my soul, you will encourage to do good and forbid evil or else Allah will soon send him the punishment upon you. Then you will supplicate to Allah and He will not accept it from you” (Tirmidhi ).
We understand from above Hadith that without doing good work and stopping evil together with people in the society, only supplication will not stop the rule of the evil.
- Believing and obeying Allah is a must for supplication to be accepted:
“I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So they should obey Me, and believe in Me in order that they may walk in the right way” (Quran 2:186).
- Obligatory prayers should be pursued on regular basis for the acceptance of supplication: “‘O’ Believers, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed Allah is with those who have patience” (2: 153).
- While supplicating believers should thank Allah for His blessings and pray for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for his sacrifice to show us the Path of Allah. We should also pray for our parents and for all Muslim brothers and sisters.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised: “When any one of you prays, let him start by praising Allah, then pray to Allah for His blessings upon the Prophet, then let him supplicate whatever he wishes “(Tirmidhi).
Allah orders to supplicate:
“My Lord, have Mercy upon them (parent) as they brought me up when I was little “(Quran 17:24).
“Forgive me, my parents, whoever enters home as a believer and all the believing men and women” (Quran 71:28).
Above examples, give guideline for acceptance of Supplication. Faith, obedience to Allah and His Messenger, Sincerity, honesty, hard work and patience are key factors for acceptance of supplication. No supplication is acceptable without these and no real progress in life can be made without these.
- Important supplications in the life of believers:
A believer supplicates for;
- His own welfare. A supplicant shall direct his/her activity for what he/she supplicates for his/her own welfare.
- Welfare of family and children. A supplicant shall work together with his/her family members for their welfare. Only supplication will not bring welfare, he/she is seeking for family and children.
- Welfare of the society and nation. A supplicant shall pursue good work and stop evil in the society and in the national arena in parallel to supplication for the welfare of the society and nation.
- Welfare of all human being. In this world, no nation can live alone. For peace and prosperity, all nations need to work together and help each other in parallel to supplication.
Thus, by above supplications and actions believers ensure peace, prosperity and happiness for all. Welfare for all is the spirit of supplication that Allah has taught in Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) has demonstrated throughout his life.
- Supplications in Quran:
Quran is the first source of supplication to Allah for the welfare of humankind. Allah knows the best that his creation should supplicate and has stated in the Quran. We are stating here some examples from many of these supplications:
- First supplication that Allah has taught in Quran is stated in the first chapter ‘Al- Fathiha’. Through supplication, Allah educates here the believers to pursue the right path of life. He teaches the believers to supplicate: “Guide us to the right path. The path of those whom You have granted blessings, those who are neither subject to your anger nor have gone astray “ (Quran 1:6-7). This supplication gives a clear direction on the right path of life that the believers need to follow.
Right path of life is the best thing that every human being needs for the peace and prosperity. This is the reason ‘Allah’has asked this in first place in Quran and also included in the obligatory prayers for the believers to recite so that they do not forget that journey of life should continue on the right path. Believers need to supplicate for right path of life, day and night in five time’s daily prayer. This happens at least seventeen times daily in obligatory prayers. Why Allah made it obligatory for believers to supplicate for right path every day , so many times? This is because Allah wants ‘seeking and following right path’ at every action be habit of the believers, at every action believers check and follow the path of those people who are blessed by Allah with Guidance and never follow the people who are away from the path of Allah.
- Protection from misguidance is very important because most of the people are deviated from the right path by mis-guidance by bad leaders. They promise many things to the people but at the end, we see painful consequences of people in their hand. Quran has recorded misfortune done by misguided leaders and presented this to humankind so that future generations are careful about misguidance and consequent deviation. Allah has advised the believers to supplicate “Our Lord! Do not deviate our soul from Guidance” (Quran 3: 8). Through supplication, we seek help from Allah for protection from deviation from Guidance. This help depends on our effort to eliminate factors that causes deviation from Guidance.
- As stated above, wrongdoers misguide and destroy peace. Through supplication Allah, teach us to be away from wrongdoers: “Our Lord! Do not place us with the wrongdoing people” (Quran 7:47). One side supplicating to protect from wrongdoers and on the other side selecting corrupt people as leader, does not make sense. If we follow wrongdoing leaders, they will not only ruin our life in this world but also will spoil our life after death. We have to accompany them after death to a destination of un-ending miseries:” On the day (Day of Final Judgement after death) when we call every people with their leaders “(Quran 17: 71). This is because we have supported these bad leaders in the world. It cannot happen that we will follow bad leaders in this world and Allah will allow us to go to Paradise with good leaders.
- Supplication for good, makes a believer good doer. Therefore, Allah ask believers to supplicate for good: “Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter” (Quran 2:201). Supplicating for good without doing good work does not bring good in life.
- Supplication to save from punishment of Hellfire brings sense of responsibility to obey order of Allah, do things that is necessary to save from Hellfire and avoid things that causes punishment in Hellfire. So Allah teaches the believers to supplicate: “Save us from the punishment of Hellfire “( Quran 2 : 201 ).
- Patience and submissiveness to the Order of Allah helps a believer to live and die as Muslim. Allah teaches to supplicate for these so that believers can attain these qualities: “Our Lord! Pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims in submission to you “(Quran 7: 126).
- Family and offspring play a key role in peace and happiness. Allah teaches us to supplicate for them: “Our Lord! Grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us the guides for the righteous “(Quran25:74). We have to work hard to guide them to the right path. Without guidance, they may not be performing well for their benefit and our satisfaction.
- Acceptance of supplications by Allah is a key success for believer. Allah grants this to whomever he wishes. So instead of depending entirely on our performance, our humble prayer should be: “Our Lord! Accept my Supplication “(Quran 14: 40).
- Supplications taught by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself practiced supplications that Allah has taught in Quran. He taught these supplications to his nation and built their life in the spirit of these supplications. Some of these supplications we have discussed under the title ‘Supplications in Quran’.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to work hard for establishing his nation based on Quran. He used to supplicate to Allah before start of work and during work for success at every work. After work, he used to supplicate for acceptance by Allah.
These supplications are recorded in the book of Hadith. We are stating here some supplications, which our Prophet (PBUH) used to supplicate frequently:
- “O’ Allah! You are the one who turns hearts, turn my heart towards Your obedience “(Muslim).
- “‘O’ Turner of the hearts, keep my heart upon your religion “ (Tirmidhi ).
- “O Allah! Verily I ask of you for strength of perseverance on Islam, and determination in practicing of Islam and goodness “(Tabrani).
- At the time when his followers were tortured and humiliated, instead of asking to punish them, he supplicated “O Allah! Guide my people, for they know not what they do “. (Bukhari, Muslim).
- O Allah! Grant us the good in this world and the good in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of Hellfire “(Muslim).
- “O Allah! Indeed, I ask of You guidance, piety and chastity and to be free of depending upon anyone except You “(Muslim).
- O Allah forgive all my sins, whether few or more, the first and the last, the apparent and the hidden “(Muslim).
- “O Allah! Benefit me through what you teach me and teach me what is beneficial for me and increase me in knowledge “(Ibn Majah).
- “O Allah grant me your love” (Tirmidhi).
His desire for love of Allah was so great that for the cause of Allah whatever suffering he had, he did not care. At City of Taif once, he was stoned from head to toe to the extent that his sock was full of blood. He did not allow the Angels to punish his oppressors even in this critical situation. Rather he supplicated Allah:” As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would however, be much happier with your mercy. I seek refuge in the light of your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your displeasure or being the subject of your anger. To you I submit, until I learn your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support” (Ibn Hisham, As Seera Nabawiyyah ).
Love of Allah is the best thing that a believer should seek at end of everything he/she does in this life. It wipes out all pain and miseries. It gives peace of mind even in most difficult time of life and at the end of worldly life awaits grand reception in heaven.
As a follower, we should supplicate all the above supplications the Prophet (PBUH) did. We should try to understand the goal of all these supplications. Along with supplications, we should pursue Islamic way of life, do good for all people including opponents, avoid sinful action, acquire useful knowledge and remain satisfied with Allah always as the Prophet (PBUH) did. There is not a single supplication without action in Prophet’s (PBUH) life. He prayed for heaven and did all work that are necessary for qualifying for heaven. He prayed for protection from Hellfire and avoided everything that may lead to Hellfire. He prayed for the welfare of family and children and worked hard for their welfare. He prayed for the welfare of people and worked for their welfare, He prayed to make Muslim nation strong and worked day and night for the welfare of the nation. He prayed to Allah to show the right path of life and never deviated from right path that Allah has shown through Quran. This is the way of supplication of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Allah. This is what every believer should follow as a system of Supplication to Allah.
Finally, to understand how supplication works; we are citing here an example from Prophet’s (pbuh) life. This example is recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saahi Muslim (1763) on the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (RA), who said :
“On the day of Badr (The Day the Quraish came to attack Muslims in Madina) the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) looked at the mushrikeen (enemy army), who were one thousand strong and his companions numbered three hundred and nineteen. Then the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) turned to face the Qiblah (house of Allah in Makkah), then he stretched forth his hands and started to cry out to his Lord:
‘O Allah, grant me what You have promised me, O Allah, give me what You have promised me. O Allah, if this small band of Muslims perishes, You will not be worshipped on earth.’
He kept on crying out to his Lord, stretching forth his hands, facing towards the Qiblah, until his cloak fell from his shoulders”( Saahi Muslim).
We understand from above example that, Prophet (PBUH) prepared and mobilized all resources he could to protect City of Madinah from the attack of enemy. He did not breakdown by seeing more than three times bigger army and ammunition. He did his humble supplication to Allah for help and faced the attack of big army with all means under his possession. Then Allah accepted his supplication and gave victory over an army with ammunition outnumbered by more than three times. This is how Allah accepts supplication. This is how help from Allah comes. This is the system of Allah. This system was in the past, is effective now and will remain effective in future until the end of the world. There is no change in the system of Allah.
Inspite of above fact, we see some Muslims make supplication for their own need and for the nation without enough endeavor to achieve what they need. For acceptance of supplication by Allah, even Prophet (PBUH) had to work hard. We need to take lesson from this example of criteria for acceptance of our supplication by Allah. Our leaders, Imams and Scholars should teach this fact to all believing man and woman. They need to think ways and means of mobilizing the nation to work hard to achieve something in parallel to their supplication as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ensured.
Syed Md. Jalal Uddin. Toronto, Canada.