وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ٱدْعُونِىٓ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
“And your Lord said: ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you.’” (40:60)
Duʿā’ is the essence of worship. It is every moment, minute and hour in which we pour our hearts out to Allah, praise Him, seek His forgiveness and beg Him.
Through duʿā’, we express our humility, dire state of poverty and utmost need of our Lord. Through duʿā’, we affirm our complete submission to Allah and express our ʿubudiyyah (servitude) to Him.
Duʿā’ is a whispering conversation with Allah, our Creator, Lord and Sustainer. We ask Him because only He can give. He has power over everything, whilst we have none. His knowledge encompasses everything, whilst we know little. He is the Lord and we are His slaves.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There is nothing more honourable to Allah than duʿā’.” Whilst our fellow humans tire of our persistent questioning and begging, Allah, our Generous Lord, does not stop giving and is angered when we don’t ask from Him! Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah is angry with those who do not make duʿā’ to Him” (Tirmidhī).
“I do not worry about my duʿā’ being answered. Rather, I worry about making duʿā’ because I know that if I am inspired by Allah to make duʿā’, the answer will follow.” -ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu)
‘I Am Near’
‘Interposed among the verses dealing with fasting comes a verse reflecting a profound insight into human nature. It reaches to the deepest recesses of the human psyche, offering solace and ample rewards for keeping the fast in response to God’s commands: “If My servants ask you about Me, well, I am near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls to Me. Let them then respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may follow the right way.” (2:186)
How kind and compassionate God truly is! Any hardship encountered in keeping the fast fades in comparison with this friendly and gentle reassurance. The choice of words creates an atmosphere of intimacy and accessibility, with God Himself stating a direct contact between Him and His servants. He does not give instructions to His Messenger, the Prophet Muḥammad on how to answer believers’ questions about Him. He gives the answer Himself: “I am near.” His closeness is not only to listen but also for immediate response: “I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls to Me.”
This verse fills a believer’s heart with love, confidence and utter reassurance. In this atmosphere of friendliness and compassion, God, who has no need for anyone, directs believers to respond to Him and believe in Him, in the hope that this will guide them to wisdom and righteousness. “Let them then respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may follow the right way.” By earning God’s generosity and guidance, believers end up winners on all counts.’ (Fī Ẓilāl al-Qur’ān)
The Secret of Duʿā’
The secret to making duʿāʿ is to display one’s utter need of Allah, with utmost humility, desperation and dependence.
We see a beautiful illustration of this in the life of Prophet Musa (ʿalayhis-salām), whilst he is fleeing one of history’s greatest tyrants. He is forced into exile to Madyan where he is left penniless, scared, hungry and alone; a foreigner in a strange land. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we see his chivalry as he helps two young women to water their animals. He then withdraws into the shade and turns to the One Free of all need and begs: “My Lord, I am in dire need of whatever good thing You may send me” (28:24).
Breaking down in utter desperation and begging Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is how we should make duʿā’ on a daily basis, as though our lives depended on it and we could not survive without it. We are weak and in need of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) for everything. We cannot do without Him for the blink of an eye. If we beg Him whole-heartedly and sincerely, we will witness the gifts from Allah al-Wahhāb (The Ever Giving) shower into our lives.
In the Steps of the Prophets
The secret of worship lies in the duʿās of the Prophets. Each duʿā’ is an embodiment of their courtesy (adab), shyness and humility. Each duʿā’ is a testimony to their awareness of and deep intimacy with their Lord. Rather than rushing to make their requests, they praised Allah, glorified Him, and asked through His Most Perfect Names.
It is this aspect of duʿā’ which we often skip out and neglect. Praising Allah and intimately conversing with Him (munājāt) is a powerful way to taste the sweetness of worship, especially in qiyām whilst prostrating.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The best slaves of Allah on the Day of Judgement will be those who frequently praise Him.” (Tirmidhī)
How Can We Praise Allah?
1. We praise Him as He has praised Himself. This is the best way to praise Allah. This can be learnt by reciting the Qur’an, reflecting upon it and forming a strong bond with it, since it is replete with the Allah praising Himself.
2. Praise Him as our beloved Messenger ﷺ praised Him. Of Allah’s creation, none surpassed him in knowing Him and appreciating Him as He ought to be.
3. Praise Him with words used by the companions (radiy Allāhū ʿanhum) and the pious predecessors.
4. Praise Him with one’s own words emanating from the heart, so long as it does not contradict sound beliefs.
5. One of the best ways of praising Allah is through His Beautiful Names.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does.” (Bukhārī)
Key Times To Make Duʿā’ in Ramaḍān
Ramaḍān is duʿā’ prime-time. The beauty of duʿā’ is that it can be done at any time and in any language. In Ramaḍān however, there a few special moments which we should carve out in our daily schedules to make duʿā’.
a) Throughout the fast. Our beloved Messenger ﷺ said, “There are three whose duʿā’ is not rejected: the fasting person until he opens his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person…” (Tirmidhī).
Imām al-Munāwī (raḥimahullāh) said that this refers to the person who fasts comprehensively, and protects his body parts from disobeying Allah. Thus, his duʿā’ is accepted due to the purity of his body, resulting from the person disobeying his own whims and desires.
Another possible reason for why the duʿā’ of the fasting person is accepted is because he is in a state of weakness. When he feels hunger, he is more likely to humble himself, and feel his need for Allah. Similarly, spending the day and night in worship, in a season where Allah’s mercy descends and wherein one sins less, makes it more likely for one’s duʿā’ to be accepted.
b) At the time of ifṭār. Our beloved Messenger ﷺ said, “Indeed, the fasting person has a supplication at the time of his iftār which is not rejected” (Ibn Mājah).
c) In the last third of the night, in sujūd. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Our Lord – Glorified and Exalted is He – descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’” (Bukhārī) He ﷺ also said, “As for sujūd, go to great lengths in making duʿā’ in it, as it is likely that your duʿā’ shall be answered” (Muslim).
The Optimal Guide For Making Duʿā’
1. Make your heart present and completely focus on Allah.
2. Choose a time in which duʿā’ is readily accepted.
3. Perform wuḍū, face the qiblah and raise your hands.
4. Humble yourself and submit to Allah.
5. Start by praising Allah.
6. Send ṣalawāt upon the Prophet ﷺ.
7. Repent for your sins and ask for forgiveness.
8. Ask with persistence, love and fear.
9. Ask Allah through His Oneness and Names.
10. Give ṣadaqah before making duʿā’.
(Adapted from Ibn al-Qayyim’s al-Jawāb al-Kāfī)
For a detailed guide to making duʿā’, please refer to ‘I Am Near’ by Life With Allah or the Dhikr & Dua App.