Did you know that the greatest and the noblest form of worship is dua? Did you also know that in many cases, dua can change what is already decreed by Allah? And yet, you’ll be amazed if I tell you that many Muslims don’t know how to make dua.
Every day we spend so much time in front of Allah, asking for that change in our lives, still, without the results we are expecting. Why? Is there something we are not doing that could make Allah accept our dua?
Of course, there are many things we don’t know about dua that’s why we don’t get answers.
So, if you want to get a feel of your self-making dua, then learn how Allah wants you to pray to Him. Know what exactly to do when you are not getting answers.
But beforehand, I want us to have a quick glimpse on the one and only reason that keeps our dua suspending: SIN.
Increase your sins if you want your life miserable
Trials, tribulations, and challenges are part of everyone’s life. To handles these trials and challenges, Allah has provided us a very powerful tool call dua: i.e. asking Allah for help and his mercy when we need it. You and I know that we need it all the time.
However, to understand these trials, we also need to understand the topic of “sin”. How our sins relate to our trials, and how our sins influence our dua being accepted.
The better we anticipate the gruesome nature of the sins we commit every day, and the rate at which we compile them, along with their undesirable impact on our daily lives and the hereafter, the more it can propel us away from committing sins in general, and the more it will drive us to seek forgiveness for our sins – through making the right dua for us and for others Insha’Allah.
Let me tell you this little story about Prophet Musaas. I don’t know the source of this story though, but it’s worth reading.
At the time when Musaas accompanied Bani Israel in the desert, a grizzly drought befell them. Together, they all raised their hands towards the heavens praying to Allah for rain.
Then to the astonishment of Musaas and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified. All their hopes were lost.
It was then revealed to Musaas that there was a sinner amongst the Bani Israel who had disobeyed Allah for more than forty years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah told Musaas. “Only then shall I rescue you from the drought and bless you with rain.”
Musahas called out to the people and said, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for forty years. Let him separate himself from the congregation. Only then shall we be rescued from the drought”
The sinner waited amongst the crowd, looking left and right. He was hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. Sweat poured off his brow because he knew he was the one.
Now the sinner had to make a very tough decision. If he stayed amongst the congregation, all would die of thirst; yet if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.
It was then that the man raises his hands with such sincerity he’d never felt before, and with tears pouring down both cheeks, he cried silently to Allah: “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! Oh, Allah forgive me!”
As Musaas and Bani Israel were still waiting for the sinner to step forward, at that moment the clouds hugged the sky and started to rain.
In shock and amazement, Musaas asked Allah: “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though that sinner did not show himself.”
Allah replied: “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that sinner that I blessed Bani Israel with water”
Musaas wanted to know who the man was and so he asked, “Show him to me, O Allah!” But Allah replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for forty years. Do you think that after his repentance I will expose him?”
Wonderful right? The mercy of our creator has no limits indeed. He is the most Merciful after all and the Most Kind. The One Who conceals faults and exposes goodness. His mercy can never be explained fully, as it is so vast and beyond our words.
This parable is but a moving example of how dangerous our sins can be. And yet, a heartwarming example of how great and intense the mercy of our creator really is. As goes one of my favorite Islamic quotes:
Allah doesn’t love sins but He Loves to forgive. Allah doesn’t love sinners but He loves those who repent.
Allah is very wonderful! This is a blessing for us. But our sins can ruin these blessings. By engaging in sins, we are not only making the future of our afterlife bleak, but sins can greatly and actively contribute to the difficulties in our worldly lives. Allah says:
“Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself…” (Quran: Surah al-Nisa, 4:79)
Whether we encounter challenges in earning a living, with our families, or other matters of life, the burden of sins greatly conquers us from seeking the ultimate blessings of Allah. And deter our potential of leading a good life in this world and the after.
Now I am confident that you are fully aware of how poorly your sins can actually mold your life. You have only two options: either you defeat your sins or it brings you down to the minimum.
Preconditions of dua
It is made clear that dua is a type of worship. Now it is important to know the preconditions that are necessary if one wishes one’s dua to be answered. Just like salaat will not be accepted until the necessary things like wudu is performed, dua will likely not be accepted until these prerequisites are fulfilled.
- Realize that Only Allah responds to Dua
This is the essence of tawhid. You must believe fully that only Allah is capable of hearing your prayer, and only Allah has the power to grant you what he desires. (Quran: Surah al-Naml, verse 62)
- Perform Tawassul Properly
Tawassul means seeking the help of Allah and response through the performance of certain acts. In other words, Tawassul is performed to increase the chance of dua being accepted.
Tawassul is performed by mentioning Allah’s Names and attributes. Or by mentioning a good deed that you’ve done. Or by asking a living, pious person to make dua on your behalf. Or by showing your own humility before Allah.
- Do not be hasty
To be hasty in your dua can cause your dua to be rejected. Just look at how careful and patient you were in that interview, or with that powerful rich man. Well, when you are with Allah, you need to be extra careful and patient. Abu Hurairahra narrated that the prophet said:
“The dua of any worshiper will continue to be responded to, as long as he does not ask for a sin or breaking the ties of kinship, and as long as he is not hasty”.
It was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, and what does it mean to be hasty?”
He responded, “A worshipper says, ‘I have prayed and prayed, and I don’t see that it will be accepted’, so he gives up hope of being answered, and leaves dua”
To ‘give up’ means to turn away and break off from something, and the meaning intended here is that a person stops dua.
- Make dua for good things
Before a dua can be accepted by Allah Almighty, it must be something good and pure. The hadith quoted earlier stated that, “The dua of any worshiper will continue to be responded to, as long as he does not ask for a sin or breaking the ties of kinship”, and this clearly shows this aspect.
- Have good intentions
It is imperative that you make the best of intention for whatever you are asking for.
So, if you are asking for an increase in wealth, your intention should rest in spending on your family and to help the poor. Likewise, if you pray for a good spouse, your intention should be so that you can avoid falling into prohibited acts and begin a beautiful family.
- Have an attentive heart
The whole point of your dua is to call out with a sincere heart to Allah. You cannot achieve this sincerity if you call out heedlessly, without earnestness. The prophet said:
“Make dua to Allah in a state that you are certain that your dua will be responded to, and know that Allah does not respond to dua that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart” (At-Tirmidhi)
- Purify your sustenance
“For, verily there are those amongst men who say, ‘O Our Lord! Grant us in this world,’ and they have no share of the Hereafter”. (Surah al-Baqarah, 200)
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
“O, people! Allah is al-Tayyib (Pure), and He only accepts that which is pure! Allah has commanded the Believers what He has recommended the messengers, for He said, “O Messengers! Eat from the pure foods, and do right.”
Steps and etiquette of Dua
Now the steps. If you make dua often but sometimes fail to see the results, Insha’Allah, the divine and religious guidance highlighted in this steps will help increase the chances of your dua being answered. I pray and hope that it’ll really help.
Step 1: Perform Wudu
One of the important etiquettes of dua is that you should be in a state of wudu (ritual purity) while making dua.
This is confirmed in the hadith of Abu Musa al-Ash’ara in which he stated that after the Battle of Hunayn, the Holy Prophet called for water, performed wudu, then raised his hands and said: “O Allah! Forgive Ubayd Ibn Amir!”
Step 2: Face the Qiblah
The Qiblah is a blessed direction to face, and through it Allah has caused the Muslims to unite all over the world. By facing the Qiblah, a Muslim turns himself in the direction of the very first place of worship ever built on earth: The Ka’bah.
It has been authentically narrated in several ahadith that the Prophet would face the Qiblah when making dua. You should, therefore, turn towards the Qiblah whenever you wish to make dua.
Step 3: Raise your hands
Among the etiquette of dua known by Muslims around the world is raising one’s hands. One of the hadith supporting this action was narrated by Abu Musah who said:
“The Prophet made a dua, and I saw him raise his hands until I could see his armpits” (Al-Bukhari)
There are three different types of motions that are authentically narrated from companions in Abu Dawud.
The first type is to point with one’s forefinger, without necessarily lifting one’s hands. This action is done when one is asking for forgiveness, or making a general Dhikr (remembrance of Allah), or doing the tashahhud (That part of the prayer said in the final sitting position of each cycle of two Rakat).
The second type of action is to raise one’s hands to the level of one’s shoulders, with the palms facing up. This is done for regular dua that one makes at any time.
The last type of action is only done in extremely severe circumstance, such as asking for rain or seeking protection from an imminent enemy attack. In this case, the hands are stretched forth towards the sky, without joining the two palms together. When this is done, a person’s armpits become exposed due to the severity of stretching.
The general rule is that when a person makes dua, he should raise his hands. However, there is one case in which the Prophet did not raise his hands, and that was during the Friday Khutbah. So for the dua during the khutbah, it is not Sunnah for the Imam or the people to raise the hands.
As for the exact manner in which the hands should be raised, then note that they should be raised to the level of the shoulders and placed together. One can either turn one’s palm towards the sky, or turn the palms to face one’s own face.
Step 4: Praise Allah and pray upon the Prophet
Whether you are asking for forgiveness, mercy or sustenance from Allah, it is necessary for you to start your dua with the praise and glorification of Allah. It narrated in a hadith that the Prophet was once sitting in the mosque when a person entered and prayed two rak’at. After he finished, he said, “O Allah, forgive me and have mercy on me!” The prophet said:
“You have been hasty, O worshipper! When you finish your prayer, the sit-down and praise Allah with the praise that he is worthy of, and pray upon me, then state your du’a.”
Allah wants us to praise Him so that we ourselves may benefit from this praise, since Allah is not in need of anything, and we can never reach a position to benefit or harm Him in any way.
Step 5: Use proper names and attributes of Allah
To Allah belongs the Most Beautiful Names and Perfect Attributes. One of the purposes of these Names and Attributes is so that believers can increase their Love for Allah when they contemplate the meanings of these Names and attributes. So to truly understand the meaning of these Names is to use the appropriate one when making Dua.
So when one is asking for forgiveness, one should use the Names that are appropriate to the concept of forgiveness, such as al-Tawwab (the one who continually forgives), al-Rahim (the Ever-Merciful), and so forth. And one is asking for sustenance, one should use Allah’s names like al-Razzaq (The Provider), and al-Ghani (the Giver)
Step 6: Acknowledge your sins
Part of the etiquette of dua is to acknowledge one’s shortcomings and sins in front of one’s Creator. This is also a means of properly worshipping Allah. Abu Hurairah said:
“The best dua is for a person to say: O Allah! You are my Lord, and I am your servant. I have wronged myself, and acknowledge my sins. O, my Lord! Forgive me my sins, for You, and only You, are my Lord, and none forgives sins except You!” (Ahmad)
So when you raise your hands to Allah, expecting a response from Him, you should also ponder on your own relationship with Allah, and the shortcomings that you possess. You should recall your many sins and have a feel of your own humility before Allah. You should remember that you are asking the One whom you disobeyed and sinned against in the past.
Step 7: Pray with humility and fear
Praying with humility and fear is a command from Allah to the believing ones. Allah mentioned in the Holy Quran:
“Call upon your Lord with humility, and in secret. Verily, He does not like the aggressors. (Quran Surah al-A’raf, 55)
It is therefore very important that the servant show humility to the Creator, and humble himself before Him while making Dua.
Step 8: Pray quietly
While making dua, you should not pray loudly so that others can hear you. The proper way for you to make dua is in a subdued voice, as Allah mentions:
“Call upon your Lord with humility, and in secret. Verily, He does not like the aggressors” (Quran: Surah al-A’raf, Chapter 55)
Why you should make dua quietly
- It is a sign of strong Iman as you demonstrate that Allah can hear what’s in your heart.
- It is a sign of respect and manners in front of Allah.
- It is also a means of achieving humility and humbleness.
- It helps you to achieve sincerity since others will not notice.
- It aids the heart in concentrating on the dua.
- It shows how you feel about your closeness to Allah. So it is a means of strengthening the relationship that you have with Allah, as it allows you to feel that Allah is always close.
- It helps you to continue the dua without breaking off in hast as it is easier on the tongue and body.
- It cause less distraction, for raising your voice calls others attention and this can lead to show-off (Riya)
Step 9: Be determined in your request
Anas ibn Malik narrates in a hadith that the Holy Prophet said:
“When one of you makes dua, then he should be determined in his dua. And let him not say, ‘O Allah! If You will, then please forgive me’, for there is no one who can force Allah to do anything” (Sahih Bukhari)
What is desired is that you should be firm in your dua, and ask from Allah in a determined manner. For instance, if you say, “O Allah, grant me my dua if you wish”, this particular dua goes against the firmness and resolution that is desired. A person is always in need of Allah’s help, and should always ask of Allah in a manner that shows his poverty for the support of Allah.
However, it is allowed to use this phrase when you are not sure if the matter you are asking for good for you or not. So, it is permissible for you to pray: “O Allah! If you know that such and such a matter is good for me, then grant it to me”. What is prohibited is to use this phrase in matters that one needs without a doubt, such as Allah’s Forgiveness, or Mercy or Blessings, etc.
Step 10: Expect the best from Allah
Never be impatient in your dua. Whether the response is quick in coming or not, always expect the best from Allah, and understand why it came to you in such form and at such time. Allah said in the Quran that:
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near to them. I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me!” (Quran Surah al-Baqarah, 186)
Allah is always close to you, and He is present with you in His knowledge, help, and protection. The prophet has advised us to leave the answer of our dua to Allah alone, and that we should expect that Allah will answer our dua.
Step 11: Repeat the Dua three times
This is recommended when making Dua. It shows a sense of urgency in obtaining what you asked for. The act of repeating a dua thrice is narrated in many ahadith from the Prophet. For instance, the hadith reported by Ibn Mas’ud said,
“When the Prophet finished his prayer, he raised his voice and prayed against them (the leaders of Quraysh who had persecuted him). And whenever he made a Dua, he would repeat it thrice, and whenever he asked (from Allah), he would do so thrice”
Step 12: Cry in your dua
One of the ways in which you can show sincerity in your dua is to cry to Allah. This brings about a feeling of humility in front of Allah, and shows the importance of one’s request. It displays the great need that the servant has from his Lord and that he can never be without His help and aid.
Insha’Allah, I’ll like to conclude this with a checklist. Download the pdf for this checklist and keep this handy and refer to it often until you fully inculcate this discipline in your life.
- Dua is an act of worship. Make it at all times to seek Allah’s attention.
- Dua can cause miracles to happen.
- Use Allah’s 99 names to call upon Him. For example, use “Allah” or “Rahman”
- Avoid haram food, provision, and sins
- Preferably face the Qiblah when making Dua
- Do not ask Allah for anything that is sinful in your dua
- Say a lot of istighfar during the day (the simplest form is to say AstaghfirAllah)
- Make dua during the last one-third of the night
- Make dua after the prescribed prayers
- Make dua between the Adhan (call for prayers) and the Iqamah
- Make Dua at the time of rain
- Make plenty of dua on Fridays
- Engage in lot of Dhikr-Allah (remembrance of Allah)
- Send a lot of blessings on Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
- Make dua with the help of the prayer of Dhun-Noon (Prophet Yoonus)
- Be focused and ask Allah with full conviction
- Be persistent in your dua and repeat it often
- Make a lot of dua when you are fasting or traveling
- Do NOT pray against oneself, wealth and children