Strengthening our Du`a
This article is a translation by M. Baghazal from portions of "Shuroot ad-Du`a" by S'aid bin Wahf al Qahtani.

Immersed as we are in this materialistic world, many us forget that material causes do not produce the desired effects independently of the will of Allah. We forget to achieve our goals. One such moral cause that has become forgotten today is Du`a, the humble supplication of a believer to Allah. And whenever it is remembered, it is not performed in the correct way and comes out weak. We can strengthen our Du`a by fulfiling the conditions for its acceptance and observing the manners of its performance.
In the following article, we explore the virtues of Du`a , the conditions for the acceptance of Du`a, the reasons for the rejection of Du`a, the manners of Du`a and the best times to say Du`a. By applying this knowledge, our Du`a will insha`Allah stand a better chance to be accepted.


Many Virtues Of Du`a Have Been Mentioned In The Qur`an and Sunnah.

From the Qur`an "And when my servants ask you concerning me, [tell them] I am indeed near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls" (Qur`an 2:187). In another verse, he said, "And your lord said, invoke me and I will respond to your invocation" (Qur`an 40:60). He also said, "Invoke your lord with humility and in secrecy" (Qur`an 7:55). And he also said, "So invoke Allah making your worship pure for him" (Qur`an 40:14).
From the Sunnah: Al-No`maan-bin-basheer relates that Allah's messenger, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, said "Du`a is Ibadah (worship)" [Abu-Dawood, Tirmithi]. Another example is paraphrased from by Abu-Hurairah's narration of the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, saying, anyone who does not invoke Allah, will cause Allah to be angry with him. [Ahmed, Tirmithi].



For One's Du`a To Be Accepted, Certain Conditions Must Apply Like Directing the Du`a solely to Allah.

Allah said, "Invoke Him only, making your religion sincere to him" (Qur`an 7:29). In another verse he said, "So invoke Allah making your worship pure for him" (Qur`an 40:14). Also, the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said in the hadith narrated by Ibn-Abbas, radhiallahu anhu; "If you ask, ask Allah and if you seek help, seek help from Allah." [Ahmad, Tirmithi].

Performing The Du`a In Conformity With The Shari`ah:
The prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "Whosoever innovates in this matter of ours something which is not part of it, it will be rejected." Hence, the Du`a has to be performed according to the sunnah of the prophet. If a person is sincere but is not following the sunnah, his worship is rejected. Similarly, if a person is following the sunnah but his work is not sincerely done for the sake of Allah, his worship is still rejected.

Trust In Allah and Certainty of Reply:
One must be certain that Allah does whatever he wishes, whenever he wishes. Allah tells us in the Qur`an, "Verily, his command, when he intends a thing, is only that he says be-and it is" (Qur`an 36:82). One must believe with certainty that Allah possesses all treasures. Allah said, "And there is nothing, but with Us are the stores thereof. And we do not send it down except with a known measure" (Qur`an 15:21). Also, in the hadith Qudsi narrated by abu-tharr, Allah revealed through the prophet, "O my servants, were the first of you and last of you, the human of you and jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request from me, and were I to give everyone what they requested, that would not decrease what I have anymore than a needle decreases the sea if put into it" (Muslim).

Presence of The Heart:
Always make sure that your heart is mindful when you are supplicating because Allah does not answer a Du`a from an inattentive heart. Ibn Rajab says, "This is the greatest condition for the acceptance of Du`a." Abu-Hurairah narrated that Allah's messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "Invoke Allah while you are certain to be answered and know that Allah does not answer a Du`a from a heart which is inattentive and unmindful" (Tirmithi). Therefore, one must supplicate with total concentration and avoid distraction.

Determing and Perseverance In Du`a:
It is a requirement when supplicating, to appeal to Allah with determination. We must not make any exceptions by saying "O Allah forgive me if you wish". Abu-hurairah narrated that Allah's messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "None of you shiould say 'O Allah forgive me if you wish', 'O Allah be merciful to me if you wish'; but he must appeal to Allah with determination, for nobody can force Allah to do something against his will" (Tirmithi) Some people, when supplicating for their brothers, have a habit of saying "May Allah forgive you InshaAllah,", "May Allah help you InshaAllah." The use of these word InshaAllah must be avoided in Du`a.



Reasons That May Cause Our Du`a To Be Rejected Include The Following:

Haraam Conditions:
Haraam eating, drinking and clothing are all strictly prohibited and are major reasons for the rejection of Du`a. A hadith which supports this point is narrated by AbuHurairah when the messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers", he said, "O you messengers, eat of the good things and do right;" "O you who believe, eat of the good things which we have provided you." He then mentioned the case of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying: "O lord, O lord" while his food is unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered?" (Muslim).
Also, the story of Abu Bakr, the first khalifah, is a great lesson for us. His daughter 'Aishah narrated that Abubakr's slave brought him his meal as usual. It was not Abu bakr's habit to ask him where he got it from, as he was certain that it is from his own halal earnings. One day, as usual, he got him something to eat and Abubakr ate it without asking about its source. The slave asked, "Do you know what this is?" He replied "What?" The slave answered, "In my days of ignorance, I once did some acts of magic for a person, although I had no idea how to do it, but I managed to cheat him. Only now did he reward me for it, and I bought you something to eat from it." Abu Bakr immediately put his hand in his mouth and vomited everything that he had eaten until his stomach was empty. (Bukhari) In another narration collected by Ahmad, it was said to Abu Bakr, "May Allah's mercy be upon you, you did all this although you have only eaten one bite." He replied, "If it will not come out except with m soul, I will get it out for I have heard the messenger of Allah saying 'Everybody which is nourished with that which is unlawful, will be first in the fire' so I was afraid that my body was nourished with this bite." Therefore, one must make sure that all his food, drink, and clothing are halaal.

Hastiness and Abandonment of Du`a
One must be patient for his Du1a to be accepted, as hastiness is one of the causes for its rejection or disapproval. Abu Hurairah narrated that the prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "The invocation of any one of you is granted [by Allah] as long as he does not show impatience by saying "I have invoked Allah but my request has not been answered" (Bukhari and Muslim). In another narration by abu-hurairah, the prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A servant is granted his request as long as he does not haste." It was asked, "O messenger of Allah, how does one haste?" He replied, "he says I have invoked but my invocation has not been answered, so he gives up and abandons Du`a" (Muslim) Hence, one must not haste since they reply might be delayed due to: not fulfilling conditions or the delay might actually be in one's favor. So, whenever you make Du`a, either you are given the good of what you asked for or an equivalent evil is turned away from you.

Committing Sins:
Allah said, "Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves" (Qur`an 13:11). That is to say, if a people's condition is good, Allah will maintain it as long as they are grateful and do not disobey him. Similarly, if the condition of a people is bad, Allah will maintain if for them as long as they remain ungrateful and insist on disobeying him. So, one should always avoid committing sins, major or minor, and if he happened to become a victim of shaitan's evil whisper, he must immediately repent and seek forgiveness from Allah.

Abandonment of Obligatory Deeds:
Just as doing good deeds is a reason for the acceptance of Du`a, similarly, abandoning good deeds is a reason for the rejection of Du`a. Hudhaifah, radhiallahu anhu, narrated that the prophet , sallallhu alayhe wa sallam, said, "by him, in whose hand is my soul, you should enjoin good and forbid evil or else it is likely that Allah will send a punishment upon you and then you will invoke him and you will not be answered" (Tirmithi). So, for example, how could those who have constantly neglected and abandoned Fajr prayers in the masjd except that their Du`a will be answered? And how could so many of those who do not pay Zakah expect their Du`a to be accepted?

Asking For a Sin, or To Break the Bondage of Kinship:
The prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Any muslim who supplicates to Allah in a Du`a which contains no sin breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his Du`a will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)" The companions said".so we will ask for more" he replied, "Allah is more [generous]." (Ahmad and Tirmithi).




Correct Manners In Invoking Allah Begin

with thanking Allah and sending
Blessings upon the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Abdullah-bin-Mas`ood narrated, "I was praying while the prophet, Abu Bakr and Omar were together. After I sat [in the last tashahhud], I began with praising Allah then I said blessings upon the prophet, said, "Ask, [and] you will be given." (Tirmithi) Ibn-Al_Qayyim said, "There are three stages where a person is recommended to say blessings upon the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. In the first stage, one may say blessings upon the prophet, sallallau alayhe wa sallam, before beginning Du`a and after thanking Allah. In the second stage, one may say blessings upon the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam , before, during and after Du`a. In the third stage, one may say blessings upon the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, in the beginning and in the end of his Du`a and request his need in the middle of it.

Du`a At Times of Trouble And of Pleasure:
One must not make it a habit to remember Allah only at the times of trouble but he must constantly remember Allah in all circumstances. Abu-Hurairah narrated that the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "[Anyone who is pleased] that Allah responds to him at the time of trouble and distress, [should] increase Du`a at the time of calmness" (Tirmithi). It is the characteristic of a believer that he turns to Allah prior to the time of distress. Allah said, regarding Yunus when he invoked Allah and Allah answered and saved him: "Had he not been of those who glorify Allah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly [i.e., the fish belly] tell the day of resurrection" (Qur`an 37:143-144).

Avoid Du`a Against Your Family, Your Wealth, And Your Children:
Jabir narrated this hadith about a man who cursed his animal. The prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said "Who is this cursed his animal?" The man replied, "It is me O messenger of Allah." The prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "Get down from it for a cursed one must not escort us. Do not pray against yourselves, do not pray against your children and do not pray against your wealth. It might coincide with a time when Allah answered what you asked for." (Muslim)

Lower Your Voice In Du`a:
Invoke Allah in a tone as it is mentioned in the following evidences and it is also closer to sincerity. Allah said, "Invoke your lord with humility and in secret. He does not like the aggressors" (Qur`an 37:55). And he also tells us: "And remember your lord by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and with fear without loudness in words, in the morning and in the afternoon and be not of those who are neglectful" (Qur`an 37:205). Abu-Moosa Al-Ash`ari narrated: "We were with the prophet in a journey so the people started raising their voice while making takbeer. The prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, 'O people, calm down, you are not calling one who is All-Hearing, Near and he is with you" (bukhari and muslim) This means that Allah knows and sees all that you do.

Make Du`a With Perseverance:
We must attend to our Du`a with perseverance, repetition and persistence. Ibn-Rajab discusses this aspect, in his book Jami`Al`Uloom wal Hikam. He suggests that we invoke Allah with his names and attributes as this is among the greatest means of having our Du`a accepted. A hadith that provides evidence for the necessity of perseverance and persistence in Du`a reported by muslim where the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "The man, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, spreads out his hands in the sky [saying] O lord, O Lord"

It is preferable to repeat your du`a three times as it is more likely to be answered. An evidence of this is mentioned in the following authentic hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood. "Once the prophet was offering salat [prayers] at the ka`ba. Abu-Jahl was sitting with one of his companions. One of them said to the others, "Who among you will bring the abdominal contents of a camel and put it on the back of Muhammed, when he prostrates?" The most unfortunate of them got up and brought it. He waited till the prophet prostrated and then placed it on his back between his shoulders. I was watching but could not do anything. I wished I had some people with me to hold out against them. They started laughing and falling on one another. Allah's messenger was in prostration and did not lift his head up till Fatima (the prophet's daughter) came and threw [the camels's abdominal contents] off his back. He raised his head and said three times, O Allah punish Quraish. So it was hard for abu-jahl and his companions when the prophet invoked Allah against them as they had the conviction that the prayers and invocations were accepted in this city (Makkah). The prophet said, "O Allah punish Abu-jahl, Utba-bin-Rabia, Shaiba-bin-Rabia, Al-Waleed-bin Utba, Umayya-bin Khalaf and Uqba-bin-AbiMuait. And he counted the seventh whose name I cannot recall. By Allah in whose hands my soul is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah's messenger in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Confess Your Sins With Regret And Gratefully Admit Allah's Mercy Bestowed Upon You:
When making Du`a, confess your sins with sincere regret for your mistakes although Allah is aware of all your actions. Also it is worthwhile to acknowledge all of Allah's mercy bestowed upon you. In the hadith narrated by Shaddbin-Aws, the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam taught us Sayyid-ul_Istighfar: "aboo-u laka bini` matika `alyya wa aboo-u bidhambi fagh-firli, fa-innahu la yaghfir-u-thunuba illa anta" (meaning: I acknowledge your favor upon favor me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me for verily, none can forgive sin except you ) (bukhari).

Face the Qiblah:
One of the good manners when making Du`a is to face the qiblah however, this is not compulsory. Abdullah bin Zaid narrated that rasullullah came to this place of worship to pray istisqaa for rain so he invoked Allah and prayed for rain. Then he faced the qiblah and overturned his gown (bukhari).

Raise your Hands In Du`a:
It is a recommended practice to raise one's hands in making Du`a it was done by the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, at different occasions. AbuMoosa AlAshari narrated, "The prophet invoked and raised his hands and I saw the whiteness of his armpits." (Bukhari ) In another hadith, Salman narrated that the messenger of Allah said, "Your lord Tabaraka-wa Ta`ala is living and generous. He is ashamed of his servant if he raises his hands to him to return them unanswered" (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi).

Make Wudhu Before Du`a:
Although it is not compulsory, one is recommended to supplicate Allah while he is in a state of wudhu (ablution). And evidence of this is in the narration of abumoosa when his uncle ubaid abi amir, prior to his death, sent him to the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallaam, after the battle of Hunain and instructed him to ask the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, to invoke Allah and seek forgiveness for him so the messenger of Allah requested some water, performed wudhu, raised his hands and said, "O Allah forgive Abi-Amir" (Bukhair and Muslim).

Cry In Du`a With The Fear Of Allah:
Abdullah-bin-`Umar narrated that the prophet recited the verse in which Ibrahim alayhesalaam is invoking Allah: "O my Lord they [the idols] have indeed led astray many among mankind. But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. And whoever disobeys me, still you are indeed Most Forgiving, Most Merciful" (Ibrahim 36). In another verse, Isa alayhessalaam is invoking Allah: "If you punish them, they are your slaves, and if you forgive them, verily you-only you are the Almighty, the All-wise" (Al-Maa`idah, 118). And he then raised his hands and said, "Allahumma Ummati, Ummati (O Allah, my nation, my nation)" and then he cried. So Allah said, O Jibreel, go to Muhammed, although Allah is aware, and ask him 'What makes you cry?' So Jibreel approached the prophet and asked him. So Allah's messenger informed him of what he said, although Allah is aware. So Allah said to him, O Jibreel, go to Muhammed and tell him: "We will make you content with regard to your nations and will not mistreat you." (Muslim) Therefore, the prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam gave us an example to sincerely cry when beseeching Allah during supplication.

Make Du`a For Yourself Before Making Du`a For Others:
It is Sunnah in Du`a to start with yourself prior to mentioning others as was collected by Tirmidhi in the narration of Ubay bin Ka'ab that if someone was mentioned to the prophet, he would invoke Allah for him but would begin with himself. However, it was also narrated of Allah's Messenger that, on certain occasions, he would not begin with himself, (for example, when he supplicated for Ibn-Abbas, Anas and Um-Isma'eel, as was mentioned by Imam Muslim in his collection of authentic hadith).

Do Not Transgress In Du`a:
When appealing to Allah in Du`a we should not get into much detail by asking for the different rewards of Jannah. If a person is granted Jannah, he will be granted Jannah and all that is present in it. It was reported of Abi Nu`amah that Abdullah-bin-Mughaffal heard his son palace on the right of the paradise if I were to enter it". So he said, "Dear son, ask Allah for Paradise and seek Messenger of Allah saying, "There will come in this nation people who will transgress (or exceed) in ablution and Du`a" (Abu Dawood).

Make Du`a For Your Parents:
It is good to mention one's Muslims parents (dead or alive) in invocation for the great favor they owe us, a favor which can never be compensated. Allah said, "And lower unto them the using of submission and humility through mercy and say, 'My Rab, bestow on them your mercy as they did raise me when I was young" (Qur`an 17:24). In Surah Nuh, He said, "My Lord, forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my home as a believer, and all the believing men and women. And increase not upon the oppressors but destruction" (Qur`an 71:28).

Make Du`a For The Believers:
Also, one is recommended to remember the Muslims and the Mu`mins around the globe in his invocation. Allah said "Ask forgiveness for your sin and also for the believing men and women" (Qur`an 47:19).

Ask Allah Alone:
Instead of complaining t people when stuck by calamity, one must make it a habit to ask Allah alone for refuge. However, there is no harm to mention your problem to people and share their opinion. In the hadith narrated by Ibn-Abbas, the prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said to him while Ibn-Abbas was riding behind him on the same mount "young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and you will find him in front of you. If you ask, ask only Allah and if you seek help, seek help only from Allah. And know that if all the nations were to gather together to benefit you, they would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and if they gather together to harm you, they would harm you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages are dry." (Tirmithi)



There Are Special Times When Du`a Is

More Likely To Be Accepted And It:
Is recommended to invoke Allah at these times. Some examples are, Ramadhan, And Expecially Lailatul Qadr: One of the greatest times to invoke Allah is in the holy month of Ramadhan, particularly that last then nights and especially on lailatul Qadr. The preferred du`a on lailatul Qadr is: "O Allah ! You are pardoning and you love to pardon, so pardon me." (al-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah)

After The Obligatory Prayers:
Abi-Umamah Al-Bahili narrated that, it was said to the prophet, "O messenger of Allah, which du`a is most likely to be heard?" He said, "(In the depth of the last part of the night and after the obligatory prayers" (Tirmidhi)

In The Last Part Of The Night:
Abu-Hurairah narrated that Allah's messenger said, "Our Lord Tabaraka-wa-Ta`ala descends every night to the sky of the world, when the last third of the night remains and he says, 'Is there anyone to invoke me so that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask me for something so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone to ask for forgiveness so that furthermore, Allah praised those who spend the last third of the night praying and in invocation, seeking forgiveness. He said, "They used to sleep but little by night and in the hours before dawn they were found asking for forgiveness" (Az-Zariyat, 17-18)

Between Adhaan And Iqamah:
One must try to make it a habit whenever he hears the adhaan (call for prayer) that he who immediately departs for the mosque is among the most fortunate who invoke Allah between Adhaan and Iqamah for their invocation is accepted. Anas-bin Malik narrated that Allah's messenger said, "The invocation is not rejected [when made] between adhaan and iqamah, so do invoke" (Tirmithi, Abu Dawood, and Ahmed). Sahl-bin-Sa`ad narrated that Allah's messenger said, "Two [invocations] are not rejected or rarely rejected; Du`a at the time of adhaan (call for prayer) and at the time of distress and when [two armies] encounter each other." In another narration , "at the time of rain" (Abu Dawood)

An Hour In The Day Of Jumu`ah:
Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah's messenger mentioned the day of Jumu`ah and said, "There is an hour which if met by a muslim servant who standing in prayer and he requests anything from Allah, He will grant it to him" (Bukhari and Muslim). In another hadith, Abu-Moosa Al-Ash`ari said, Abdullah bini `Umar said, "Did you hear your father relating from rasulullah about the hour of Jumu`ah?" I said 'yes', I heard him saying, he heard Allah's messenger saying 'It is between the time when the Imam sits [for Khutbah] till the prayer is over" (Muslim). Ibn-Al-Qayyim, in his book Zad Al-Ma`ad, in agreement with other scholars, have favored the opinion that 'The hour on the day of Jumu`ah is after Asr.' However, a Muslim must try his best to spend the whole day of Jumu`ah in the remembrance of Allah, seeking his forgiveness and invoking him.

In Salah After At-Tashahhud:
Invocation after finishing At-Tashahhud, prior to Salaam, is recommended as was the practice of the prophet. Abdullah bin Mas`ood narrated: "I was praying while the prophet, Abu Bakr and Omar were together. After I sat [in the last Tashahhud], I began [saying Du`a' by praising Allah then I sent prayers on the prophet and then I prayed for myself. The prophet said, "Ask and you will be given, ask you will be given" (Tirmithi).

When In Sujuud:
Abu Hurarairah narrated that Allah's messenger said, "The closest a person gets to his Rab is during Sujuud [prostration]. Therefore, increase Du`a." One must try to invoke Allah during Sujuud, be it in Fajr (obligatory) or Nafil (supererogatory) prayer.