Dua: Practical Spirituality
By Sameen Tahir Khan
Everyone desires something in life; health, wealth, good spouse, children, a good job. There is a 24-hour hot line available to us where we can place a request, any time anywhere. The line is never busy and the caller’s request is always granted. It is perhaps the most under used communication tool offered to us. It is the hot line to Allah — Dua.
Abdul Nasir Jangda, a renowned American Islamic scholar, outlined many important and interesting facts about dua in his popular lecture, “Dua Night”. He noted that most people think salat is obligatory, but dua is optional. However, many of us do not realize that Allah actually commands us to make dua. It is the core of worship, a practical spirituality. When we make dua, “We are directly accessing Allah’s mercy and wisdom that gives us stability in our thoughts and actions,” Jangda said.
The scholar also shared four steps we can take to ensure our duas are accepted. Before making dua, the first thing we should do is praise Allah using his 99 names and thank him for all His blessings. Second, we should send darood or salutations to the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). An important element of making dua is conviction. If we fear a dua will not be accepted, we must constantly reassure ourselves to remove any doubt. As Imam Ghazali said, “When the tongue says it a thousand times the heart says it once”. Omar bin Khattab had said “It is my job to make dua, and Allah’s job to accept. I don’t have to worry about His job, I just have to do my job.”
The third step we should take is to put the dua in a position where it will be accepted. One way to do that is to make dua at times that are recommended in the Hadith. Some of these times are for instance after the obligatory prayers, between the azaan and iqama, on a Friday after Asr, last one third of the night (Tahajjud prayer times) and at the time of breaking fast (iftar). The fourth thing to make our dua acceptable is to humble oneself. Know you are the slave, he is the master. Pray in private and in secrecy. Cry, beg and insist.
Jangda also spoke of the roadblocks to duas that stop it from being accepted. Impatience is one of them. Allah loves patience. Sometimes the effects of our dua can be seen long term. Like when the Prophet Muhammad, after being rejected and stoned in the city of Taif prayed to Allah in response to which Angel Jibreel came and offered to destroy Taif and its people, Prophet Muhammad was patient and said, “No, for I hope that Allah will bring forth from their progeny people who will worship Allah alone, and none besides Him.” (Al-Bukhari)
At the end of the lecture, Jangda said if we could not remember anything, we should remember verse 186 of Surah Baqarah: “And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me — indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be (rightly) guided.”
(The writer is based in Ohio)