The Benefit of the Sunnah Adhkār
By reciting the adhkār specifically prescribed by the Prophet ﷺ, we can amass huge rewards. This is demonstrated in the following ḥadīth of Juwayriyah (radiyallahu ‘anha):
Once, the Prophet ﷺ returned in the forenoon and asked her if she had continued to remember Allah in the same position, as he had found her doing so before he left for fajr ṣalāh. When she replied in the affirmative, he ﷺ told her:
“I recited four phrases three times after I left you. If everything that you have said today was put in the scales,
سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ ، عَدَدَ خَلْقِهِ ، وَرِضَا نَفْسِهِ ، وَزِنَةَ عَرْشِهِ ، وَمِدَادَ كَلِمَاتِهِ
would outweigh it.” (Muslim)
In other words, the four phrases specified by him would ensure far greater reward than the dhikr she had been engaged in, even though they require much less time to utter.
We should strive to memorise and understand the meaning of the sunnah adhkār. Along with this, we should continuously read their specific virtues to motivate us, and ask Allah to grant us these huge rewards.
‘Whoever is unaware of the virtues of deeds will always find them to be difficult.’ (Abū ʿAbdillāh al-Barāthī raḥimahullāh)
Moreover, the precision of wording and the depth of meaning in the sunnah adhkār is unparalleled. The Prophet ﷺ reached the pinnacle of perfection in his servitude of Allah. His knowledge, love, humility and reverence of His Creator was unparalleled. His supplications are a reflection of this, and hence comprise of the most perfect formulae for duʿā’.
Own Timing or Wording
In general, there is huge merit in reciting the adhkār (remembrances) and duʿās (supplications) according to the wording of the Prophet ﷺ. There are also occasions, however, where we may choose our own wording.
This is when we ask and remember Allah at any time; or in a time which has been specified for duʿā, but we have not been told what to say. For example, in the last third of the night, it is highly recommended to make duʿā’, but you are free to choose what you want to say (within the parameters of duʿā’).
Along with the duʿās from the Qur’ān and Sunnah, you may also choose the words of the pious people, and your own duʿās, as the Prophet ﷺ said: “…Then one of you should choose any supplication that he likes, and call upon Allah – the Mighty and Exalted – with it.” (Nasā’ī)
Specified by the Prophet ﷺ
These remembrances are specific to a place, time, specific act of worship, and specified in number or virtue. For example, the duʿā for entering the bathroom or the adhkār before sleep.
These must not be invented by anyone, and we should recite what has been ordained in the Sunnah.
Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ (raḥimahullāh) stated: “Allah has ordained duʿā’. He taught His creation duʿā’ in His Book, and He taught the Prophet ﷺ duʿās for his ummah. These duʿās combine the knowledge of Allah’s Oneness, knowledge of language, and desiring the best for his ummah. It is not appropriate for anyone to turn away from the duʿās of the Prophet ﷺ.
Shayṭān has tricked people in this regard, and has appointed evil people who invent supplications for them. The people then distract themselves with these duʿās, instead of following the Prophet ﷺ.”
Imām Qurtubī (raḥimahullāh) stated: “A person should supplicate with what is in the Book of Allah and the authentic Sunnah, and leave anything other than it. He should not say: ‘I will choose to read such-and-such’, for Allah has chosen for His Prophet and His Friends, and taught them how to supplicate.”
Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh) stated: “Undoubtedly, adhkār and duʿās are some of the best forms of worship. Worship is based on what has been divinely ordained and obedience; and not based on following one’s own desires or innovations.
Thus, the Prophetic adhkār and duʿās are the best ways in which a seeker can remember Allah and ask Him…Words cannot express the benefits and results which are obtained through them.”
‘Anyone who does not hold on tight to the Prophetic Sunnah in his worship and daily remembrances will come to regret it, become jaded, and his temperament will become unpleasant. He will miss out on great good which result from following the Prophet; who was kind and merciful to the believers, and extremely keen to benefit them.’ (al-Dhahabī raḥimahullāh)