In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
We thank and praise Allah SWT, the Compassionate, the Merciful. We bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah — Who is so near to all of us and so ready to respond to our pleas for help and guidance.
We bear witness that our Nabi Muhammad SAWS is the true Messenger of Allah, who called on Allah SWT night and day in his salaah and in humble supplications (du’aah) appealed for guidance. O Allah, shower Thy choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives, all those who, through their fear of Allah, their love and their total dependence on Him, spent their time in the remembrance of Allah (Thikrullah) and beseeching Allah to accept their efforts in life. Allah SWT invites us in the Holy Qur’an:
“And your Allah says: “Call on Me: I will answer your prayer.”
My dear Brothers and Sisters
So often those of us who are old, who are lonely, who feel abandoned by our children and loved ones, whose hearts are filled with so much disappointment and sadness, have a deep need to speak to someone who would listen, who cares enough to want to help. So often, too, those of us who are young may feel equally depressed, overcome by loneliness or faced with the pressures and the complexities of life that we need to share our most intimate feelings with Someone who understands us far more intimately than our own parents. And sometimes, Algamdulillah, our hearts overflow with so much joy when we experience one success upon another, that we need to reach out and tell the world about it. In the ayah I have quoted, Allah SWT invites us to come and talk with Him and He promises that He will answer our prayers.
Unlike talking to our friends in a conversation, a du’aah or supplication, stems from a deep, personal need which no human being can fulfill, no matter how rich or important he or she may be, no matter how intimately he may know or love you. We don’t ask Allah those things that we can, by our own effort attain. We can ask Allah to bless our effort so that, by striving to achieve our goal, we do not compromise our Islamic values and ignore the the prescriptions of the Shari’ah. Allah will certainly not give you a new house if you do not put an effort into achieving it. At the same time your effort and apparant “success” will have no barakah if you strove in an un-Islamic way. Du’aah, belief and effort go together. This Allah SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur’an:
“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am, indeed, close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me. Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me, that they may walk in the right path.” (Q. II: 186)
In this ayah Allah assures us that He is very close to us and listens to the prayers of everyone who calls on Him. At the same time Allah expects us to believe, to have Eemaan and, secondly, “to walk in the right path”, that is, to have Istijabah or accept and strive actively in accordance with Allah’s rules and regulations. This emphasises the Islamic concept of belief and action as the basis of a balanced life. Faith without knowledge and a readiness to act on it is weak and contrary to the dynamic spirit of the Muslim personality. It is only the true believer who is committed to the teachings of our Nabi Muhammad SAWS, that would call on his Creator with complete submission and genuine humility. When the true believer makes du’aah to his Maker, he has never a doubt that Allah listens. He repeats his du’aah over and over again not merely with his mouth but his entire being.
Eemaan and Istijabah as pre-requisites to du’aah, ensure that we approach Allah SWT in a manner befitting Allah’s Majesty. Equally important is how we make our du’aah. Let us picture ourselves standing in front of the boss, ready to ask for a raise. It is a decision we had planned for some time but have been too scared to approach him. Finally we selected a convenient time and in the privacy of his office. Some of us may tremble with fear that he may say no, or worse, that he may fire us. Some may be more confident and express our true feelings about the job — how much they enjoy working there, and also our need to earn more to meet our commitments. Others may be so attached to the boss that they may, in all humility, tell him of their domestic problems, how their family struggles to make ends meet, of the children who need medical attention, the ever-increasing rent and prices of foodstuffs. The tone of our voice would hardly be demanding, but more subdued or even beseeching. If we would stand in front of our employer with so much humility, so much fear and respect and speak with so much emotion, consider, Brothers and Sisters, a situation far more profound: you are standing before the One Who is your Creator and to Whom you are accountible.
How should we address Allah in our du’aahs? What does Allah SWT say in the Holy Qur’an ? Allah enjoins:
“Call on your Allah with humility and in private! for Allah loveth not those who tresspass beyond bounds. Do not mischief on the earth, after it had been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.” (Q. VII: 55 – 56)
In this ayah Allah SWT asks us to observe FOUR values when making du’aah: Firstly, the du’aah must be made with humility;
secondly, it must be made in private, and intimately;
thirdly, it must be made with a deep fear of Allah; and
fourthly, it must be made with what Allah calls “longing (in your hearts)”, in other words, with love.
But the main theme of this verse and constant reminder in the Qur’an to mankind is to be found in the closing statement: “for the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.” What Allah is telling us is: Don’t ask for favours and help unless you yourselves are prepared to do good!
In the ayah, Tadarru’ ( )is more than the humility the subject has for the king or the pupil for the teacher or the child for the parent. It is a state of total respect and submission to Allah SWT Alone. One scholar puts it this way. He says: “When you approach Allah with your supplications, don’t talk to Allah merely with your tongue, but with the totality of yourselves: your emotions, your hopes, your spirit, your blood and flesh — every cell in your body should reach out to supplicate.”
The second requirement of Khufiyah ( ) or private and secret, refers to your sincerity and intimacy. Du’aah, in its purest form is an intimate communication between you and Allah. It is one secret you do not share even with your best friend. No one should see or even know that you are making du’aah. You may cry, but not intentionally to attract the attention of others. You may make your du’aahs in the middle of the night, but do not wake up the entire household with your pleas and supplications. Otherwise it becomes a show, a mockery and the supplicant nothing less than a hypocrite. We must try to enjoy making our du’aah, and, at the end of it experience a deep feeling of satisfaction and achievement, a feeling of thankfulness to Allah SWT for listening to us, and allowing us to talk to Him, a catharsis or purification.
Throughout our du’aah we are in a state of khauf ( ) or fear. Fear of Allah is not, as the critics of Islam want their followers to believe, the fear of a subject for a tyrant (astaghfirullah). Fear of Allah is unlike any feeling for a human being. It is a combination of respect, awe and reverence. We are anxious of not pleasing Allah, or that our du’aah may not be accepted. We fear that we may not be able to repent for our sins before we die and be denied the mercy of Allah SWT. It is this Fear of Allah that helps us to become effective and purposeful in our du’aahs, in our salaah and in all our actions in life.
The fourth value or requirement of the supplicant is that his heart must overflow with love for Allah, a state of Tama'( ). Like Khauf, Tama’ cannot be compared with any human love for another human being. Love for Allah is so dynamic and so self-enhancing that it is able to transform the
believer from a beggar to a provider, from being lonely and unloved to being accepted and loved. Love for Allah is not a passive feeling, but an active act of giving. What do we have to give to Allah ? Everything ! To love Allah is to surrender ourselves totally to Allah. Hence, in our du’aah we try to forget our pains or worries, we forget our wealth or poverty. We try to rise above those things which are the cause of our misery or detract us from our ‘ibaadah. We should try to become more and more aware of Allah’s nearness to us and ever-mindful that Allah loves us and will answer all our calls. Remember, brothers and sisters, Allah’s constant reminder in the Holy Qur’an:
“For the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.” (Q. VII: 56)
The characteristics of the sincere supplicant that Allah SWT described in the verses we have quoted cannot be rehearsed. Eemaan and Istijaaba, for example, form part of a Muslim’s way of life and cannot simply be used for the purpose of making du’aah and discarded after the du’aah. We must constantly strive to make these values part of us, so that we are always humble (Tadarru’), we always seek Allah’s help intimately and privately, we always fear and respect Allah, we always love Allah. We are always patient and do not expect an immediate reply to our call. Allah knows when and how best to answer our prayers. So often Allah’s answer is delayed for years, but our faith never fades. Let us consider the du’aah of Nabi Ebraheem AS for offspring from Nabi Isma-eel, who would call all people to worship Allah. Nabi Ebraheem AS made his famous reply when he brought his son, Isma-eel, to Makka from Palestine:
“O our Allah: I have made some of our offspring to dwell in the valley without cultivation, by the Sacred House, in order, o our Allah, that they may establish regular prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.”
“O our Lord! Truly Thou dost know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven.”
“Praise be to Allah, Who hath granted unto me in old age Isma-eel and Is-ghaaq: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of prayer!”
“O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring O our Lord! And accept Thou my prayer.” (Q XIV: 37 – 40)
This beautiful du’ah of Nabi Ebraheem AS was heard by Allah SWT and answered — not immediately, but 3 000 years later when Nabi Muhammad SAWS came to Makka. Is there anyone of us who can honestly say that he does not need to make du’aah? of course not. Let us in all humility and sincerity, call upon Allah. The Qur’an is the best source of du’aah. Let us, after our salaah, and in our quiet moments pick up the Qur’an and read it so that we can learn the verses relating to du’aah. Learn the du’aahs and make these du’aahs regularly. Allah SWT will listen and, Insha-Allah will answer our prayers.
Rasoolullah SAWS said:
“Supplication — Du’aah is the brain of worship.”
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!