Allah says in the Qur'an to ask Him and He shall answer our prayers. It is within the power of Allah to alter our fate. It is through our dua that we ask Allah for His Mercy and Benevolence.
There is a hadith that mentions believers must have faith that Allah will answer their dua. Allah may answer our dua during our life in this temporal world or He may defer our request till we are in the Hereafter. Allah responds to our dua in many ways. He may answer by pardoning or obviating our sins, or by sparing us of an undesirable fate. Allah may choose to respond to our dua in any manner He so chooses.
Another hadith mentions that our dua will be more likely to be accepted if we are patient and not in any rush in making the dua. There is a story of Prophet Musa whose prayers were not answered until at least 40 years later. If this was how long a prophet's prayers were answered by Allah, then us mere believers should not be hasty in expecting an answer from Allah. We must never utter statements to the effect that Allah does not listen to our prayers.
Our prayers would more likely to be heeded by Allah if we have faithfully followed His commands than if we have disobeyed Him. This makes sense. We obey Allah both in the words we utter and the deeds we perform. We should praise Allah when ever we can and strive to do the things that He commands us to do and that would please Him.
There is a story of a man who does good to another man because the latter also does good to the former. This is to be expected, we reciprocate the good that is being done upon us. The greater challenge, however, is in doing good to those who have been less than good or even evil to us.
Consider a worker who has been diligent in his work. He regularly comes early to work and does beyond what is expected of him. Naturally that would please his employer. It should not surprise us that the employer would look favorably and reward such a worker over someone who always misses his work and does things that his employer would not be pleased with. Not only would that worker not get any favorable considerations from his employer, the worker may well get punished by being fired.
Following Allah's command and doing the things that would please Him would be one way for us to get favorable considerations from Allah, as for example with our reading the Qur'an regularly. We should strive to go beyond mere reading and recitation. We should ponder the meanings of the various verses. We should strive to emulate the sterling attributes of the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad . We express our love for him by emulating him, for those are the same qualities that would please Allah.
We must strive to reach the peak of our spirituality. When we have doubts about what we are about to ingest as being halal or haram, we should err towards avoiding it. If we are concerned that we are not in a purified state for prayer, then we should redo our ablution and ghusl. Likewise in our deeds; if we have doubts about the goodness of a particular deed it is best that we refrain from doing it. Allah is Merciful and Forgiving. By doing the things that He commands us to do and avoid those that He prescribed against and err towards the latter, then we would hold ourselves in good stead.
There are a few practical or ritual aspects in making dua. For example, we must be in as a spiritually pure state as possible, hence making dua after our prayers. We should hold both our palms up and at the end of the dua we should close our palms to our face. Consider that in reciting a dua we are making a request to Allah. When we write a letter seeking something from our superior, we want that letter to be in the best physical form as possible, with every word tidy and the paper folded neatly. Likewise when we are doing our dua, we too should pay attention to these little details.
Key Aspects of the Dua or Supplication Part 2 to be continued next month, insha'Allah.
Ilyas Anwar is a contributing writer to Illume magazine.
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