Dua

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وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
And O beloved, when my bondmen ask you About Me, then I am indeed near, accept the call of the caller when he calls upon Me; then they should obey my commands and believe in Me. So that they may get the way. (11:186)

When it is definite and beyond dispute that whatever happens in the world happens by the Will of God and that everything that exists lies absolutely in His power and control, it is manifestly natural for us to supplicate to Him in our needs, big as well as small. Followers of all religions beseech God and address their petitions to Him. But in Islam it is a matter of paramount importance. The Quran states:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ

And your Lord says: “Call on Me: I will answer (your prayers) (40:60)

قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ

Say (to the rejecters): my Lord is not uneasy because of you if you call not on Him. (25:77)

Together with calling on us to supplicate to God regarding our needs the Quran also goes on to assure us that God is very close to His servants: He hears their petitions and grants unto them.

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And O beloved, when my bondmen ask you About Me, then I am indeed near, accept the call of the caller when he calls upon Me; then they should obey my commands and believe in Me. So that they may get the way. (2:186)

The Holy Prophet also that to beg to God four our needs, to turn to Him and to make our petitions to Him; is the very essence and marrow of worship. Says he:

Good health of the soul and body means good health in the world and Akhirat (Hereafter).
Nothing enjoys a loftier place in sight of God than Du’a.

God is displeased with those who do not beg for their needs to Him. The Prophet is reported to have said:

God is displeased with His servant who does not supplicate for His needs to him.

Glory be! If a person approaches a close friend or a near relative with his needs every now and then they get sick of him, but God is so marvellously gracious and benevolent to His servants that He gets angry if they do not turn to Him in their need. The following tradition states:

For whom the doors of Du’a have opened for him the doors of mercy have opened.

Anyway to pray to God for one’s needs or for the realisation of ones ambitions is not only a means to their fulfilment but also a superb act of worship and God is very happy with him who does so. He opens the gates of His mercy for him. This is true of all supplications whether they may be of a religious or spiritual nature or for a worldly need. The only condition is that the object or need should be of a lawful and legitimate nature. To pray for an improper or sinful thing is also improper and sinful.

The greater depth of feeling, the stronger the realisation of ones own helplessness and the firmer the conviction of Divine Omnipotence and Benevolence with which a prayer is made, the greater the chances are of its acceptance. A prayer which does not spring from the heart is not a prayer. The Prophet says:

God does not grant a prayer that is made with a sleeping heart.

God listens to prayers at all hours but we learn from Traditions that there are certain occasions on which if a prayer is made it stands a greater chance of acceptance. For instance after a fard (obligatory) salah during the latter part of the night. Or at the time of breaking a fast or any other moment of a similar nature when a good act is performed. Or during the course of a journey, particularly when it is undertaken for religious purpose and for the sake of God.

It is not necessary for a man to be a saint, or innocent of sin, for his prayers to be granted. It is true that the prayers of the noble and virtuous people are granted more than others. But it does not mean that the prayers of ordinary men and sinners are not heard at all. One therefore must not give up making supplications to God. God, the Beneficent, the Merciful listens to the prayers of His sinning servants, too, just as he feeds them and clothes them in spite of their misdeeds. Everyone should, therefore pray. We have seen how dua is regular worship. Divine recompense will any case be his who will engage himself in it.

It will be foolish to lose heart and cease praying if the object for which an earnest prayer is made of and God is not realised. God, in any event is not bound by our desires. Sometimes in his judgement, it is in our own interest that our prayers should not be granted at once. Sometimes delay is found by Him to be better for us. But, we, in our ignorance, get disheartened. We are inclined to be hasty and when our prayers are not answered we give up praying as futile. As a Tradition of the Prophet assures us:

Dua is never wasted. But the forms of its acceptance vary. Sometimes God does not think it best for him that the thing he prays for should be granted. So he does not give it to him, but in its place, a greater favour is bestowed on him or an impending calamity is averted or a prayer is made for his sins. (Since the supplicant does not know it, he imagines that his entreaties and supplications have come to nothing). Sometimes the prayer is turned into the harvest of the Hereafter. The object for which a person prayers is not granted to him in this life but a greater reward is reserved for him in the life to come as compensation thereof.

Here is another:

Some people, many of whose prayers had not been granted in this world, when they will see in the Hereafter the glorious rewards and blessings that had been set aside for them as a recompense for their unfulfilled prayers, will exclaim mournfully how great would it have been had none of their prayers been granted in the world so that they could get the compensation for them in the Hereafter.

Everyone who believes in God should make it a habit of his to call on Him for his needs with all his heart and with an unshakeable faith in the omnipotence and the benevolence of the Almighty and believing positively that the prayer will be granted. He must be sure in his heart that his prayer shall never ever go to waste.

The endeavour should be to pray in words richly expressive of Divine Might and Magnificence and of one’s own total helplessness. Many prayers are contained in the Quran and hundreds of them in the traditions. These prayers are by far the best.