Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent messengers to every nation to call people to their Creator and teach them the best manners of worship. Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spent his life calling people to Allah’s Deen, teaching them the best manners, resolving trivial conflicts between them and purifying their hearts.
Instead of resting at night after a long busy day, he would get up in the middle of the night, crying and praying to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to have mercy on his Ummah. He prayed for people who were to come several hundred years after him. He knew that while he won’t be there by Allah’s permission his du’a can save his followers. He taught his Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum that du’a is a Muslim’s strongest weapon. It has the power to stop, improve and change everything. It is a source of contentment for the depressed and strength for the weak and patient one.
In Surah Mu’min/Ghafir Ayah 60, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
ادْعُونِى أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
“Call upon Me; I will respond to you.”
He tells us that He will respond if we call upon Him. However, He doesn’t answer a prayer that is made with a negligent heart or lacks humility. Talking about this, Rasoolullah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Make du’a to Allah in a state that you are certain that your du’a will be responded to, and know that Allah does not respond to a du’a that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart.” [Tirmidhi]
This hadeeth indicates that there are certain etiquette that must be kept in mind before making du’a. There are also certain times when a supplication gets accepted, but let us first study the etiquette of making du’a:
When you go to your parents, teacher or boss, you ensure there is nothing displeasing about your appearance that might upset them. This displays honor and respect that you have for someone of authority. Shouldn’t the same rule apply when coming to speak to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Rabbul Alimeen? Make sure you are clean from any impurity before making du’a; best is to perform ablution, but if that can’t be done at least rinse your mouth and wash your hands.
Du’a is your private conversation between you and your Rabb, your Creator, the One Who can bestow you everything that you yearn for. When there is a secret to be discussed, or a problem to be shared one makes sure that there is no one around him. He wants his personal worries and concerns to remain concealed between him and the one whom he trusts. Though Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Sami’un Aleem, He hears and sees everything, you require privacy for ‘concentration’. You cannot completely submit to Him or indulge in du’a if you are concerned that people around you will see your tears or hear you say what you are praying for. Shut the door of your prayer room when making du’a. If that’s not possible, make an effort to find the remotest corner of your house where you will find some privacy to speak to your Secret Keeper. This may not work out if you are offering Salah in congregation, but you can do this at Tahajjud time.
The hadeeth that you read above signifies that ‘focus’ is one of the key ingredient to ensure your du’a will be accepted or at least heard. Do not babble words of du’a or read them from a du’a book as a formality, put your heart in it. Remember, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is As-Samad, He is independent, He is not in need of your help, it is you who needs Him. The few minutes that you take out for du’a are precious don’t give in to Shaytan’s whisperings that you need to hurry and there’s something else more important waiting for your attention. Stay at the prayer rug and do not get up unless you have shed a sincere tear or your heart feels light knowing that your worries have been handed to the One Who can fix them.
If you have ever taken up a course on communication skills you must have heard the teacher emphasizing on eye contact. Now what does this have to do in du’a since there is no one in sight to whom you are talking? While there is no one in view this exercise will prevent your eyes from wandering. Raise your hands in front of yourself (like one does for du’a) and focus your attention on your palms. Now do not start cleaning under your nails or studying your hand lines. Remember, you are here to make du’a and Shaytan is distracting you because he doesn’t want you to please Allah or be successful in dunya and akhirah.
5. Beginning the Du’a
At the commencement of any event, the person giving the speech begins it with a few words of praise; for the team who put up the event together, for the teachers and seniors who made it possible for the person or institution to be where it is today, etc. Du’a is an event for a Muslim; wouldn’t you want to say a few words of praise for the One Who has been favoring you since your birth? Choose the Best Names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for your du’a. Ahadeeth tell us that ‘Ya Haiyyu Ya Qayyumu’ is title that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loves being called by.
6. The Content
How does one decide which book to study or article to read? It’s the content that keeps them engaged. Same goes for du’a! Repeating same words over and over again makes one lose their devotion or concentration. You require quality content for your du’a to be effective. How can one improve the content of their du’a? Well, who is the best example for Muslims to look up to? Indeed, Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whom the entire Ummah loves! His speech was beloved to Allah, his du’as have been recorded by his Companions and known as ‘Masnoon Duas’. You can purchase a book of Masnoon du’as or make your own du’a list with the help of authentic ahadeeth. There is a du’a for every occasion. Never would you be at loss for ‘the right’ words.
If your du’as are not being answered remember Allah’s delays are not Allah’s denials. He will give them when the time is right and in the right manner. Have trust in Him.
Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu beseeched Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala a great deal. He would say,
“O Allah, make all my deeds righteous and make them purely for Your sake.”
While making a du’a he would say,
“I’m not worried about a response. I’m worried about making a du’a. If I’m inspired to make a du’a then the response will come with it.”
This indicates prayers of an inattentive heart may not be heard. Be inspired to make du’a.
Improve your secret and private life; Allah will improve your public and social life. Make matters well between you and Allah; Allah will make matters well between you and people. Work for the Hereafter and Allah will be enough for you in your worldly concerns. In sha Allah!