by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya | Translated by Osman Umarji
Part 1 | Part 2
This chapter will discuss du`a’ specifically, its usage, things that weaken its effects, and the proper way to make du`a’ to Allah. The first chapter can be found by clicking Part I above.
Factors that Prohibit the Acceptance of Du`a’ (invocation of God)
Just as the ayat of the Qur’an can cure and heal, du`a’ can also be used as a cure and treatment, for it is amongst the most powerful ways to repel that which is not desired and obtain that which is. However, the effectiveness of any du`a’ may vary, either due to the weakness of the du`a’ intrinsically (if it happens to involve something hostile or something that Allah dislikes), or due to the weakness of the heart when it is not focused on or devoted to Allah. The effect of this du`a’ is comparable to a flimsy bow, for indeed the arrow that is shot from it will come out weak. From amongst the factors that prohibit the acceptance of du`a’ are eating things that are forbidden, having a heart full of sins, being overcome by a state of heedlessness and neglect, being captive to one’s desires and passions, and being engulfed in vanity and nonsense (in words and actions).
In the hadith of Abu Huraira, narrated by Hakim in “al Mustadrak,” he narrates that the Prophet (S) said, “Invoke Allah while being certain that He is capable of responding, and know that Allah does not accept the du`a’ from a heart that is heedless and inattentive.” So du`a’ is a cure that is extremely beneficial in removing an illness; however, if the heart is heedless of Allah then this will nullify its strength, just as eating things that are forbidden may weaken or nullify it.
This has been narrated in Saheeh Muslim on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Prophet (S) said, “‘O’ people! Indeed Allah is pure and only accepts that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers to do what He has commanded the Messengers to do. Allah says, “O’ Messengers, eat from those things that are pure, and do righteous deeds, for Indeed Allah is All Knowing of that which you do.” (23:51) And Allah says, “O’ you who believe, eat from the pure things that We have sustained you with.’” (2:172) Then the Prophet recalled the situation of a man who had been on a long journey, whose hair was covered in dust and disheveled, then he raised his hands to the heavens saying, ‘Oh my Lord, Oh my Lord!’ while his source of nourishment was haram (forbidden), his clothing was haram, and his food was haram. How can such a du`a’ possibly be accepted?”
Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal mentions in his father’s book, “Al Zuhd,” that the Children of Israel were afflicted with a plague. So they left their town, and Allah revealed to their prophet to tell them, “You have come out to the highlands with impure bodies, and you raise your hands up in du`a’ while they have been soiled with blood, and you have filled your homes with that which is forbidden, and now during this moment when my anger upon you is severe [you ask for help]? You will not increase in anything except being distanced from me.”
Abu Dharr al Ghifaari said, “It is sufficient for du`a’ to be accompanied with righteousness just as it is sufficient for food to be accompanied with salt.”
Du`a’ is a Cure
Du`a’ is one of the most effective forms of treatment. It is the enemy of distress and calamity; it fights them off and then treats them. If a calamity happens to overcome someone, then du`a’ lightens and weakens its effects. As was mentioned in a hadith by Hakim on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib , the Prophet (S) said, “Du`a’ is the weapon of the believer, the pillar of the deen (religion), and the light of the heavens and the earth.”1
There are three fundamental scenarios regarding du`a’ and any calamity (distress, misfortune, sickness, etc.) coming into contact with each other:
- The du`a’ is stronger than the calamity; it repels it and completely fights it off.
- The du`a’ is weaker than the calamity; so the calamity overpowers the du`a’ but its effects are weakened.
- Both components are equal, and neither one is able to overpower the other.
Hakim narrated a hadith on the authority of Aisha that the Prophet (S) said, “Caution will not prevent what has been destined, and du`a’ will be of benefit to that which has come down and to that which has not come down, and if any calamity comes down then du`a’ will meet it and they will fight until the Day of Judgment.” In another hadith, ibn Omar states that the Prophet (S) said, “Du`a’ is of benefit to that which has come down and to what has not come down, so servants of Allah, make lots of du`a’.” In another hadith Thawban said that the Prophet said, “Nothing changes what has been destined except for du`a’, and nothing will prolong one’s life except righteousness, and indeed a man’s sustenance will be prohibited when he falls into sin.”
Acceptance of Du`a’ Includes Begging to Allah
Imploring Allah in du`a’ is amongst the most beneficial forms of healing and treatment. Ibn Majah narrates in his “Sunan” that Abu Huraira said that the Prophet (S) said, “Whoever does not ask Allah, then Allah is angry with him.”
Anas narrated that the Prophet (S) said, “Do not become weak in making du`a’, for indeed no one who makes du`a’ is destroyed.” Imam al Awzaa’e mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet (S) said, “Verily, Allah loves those who implore and beseech him sincerely in du`a’.” Lastly, Imam Ahmed mentions in his book “Al-Zuhd” that Mawarraq said, “I have not found anyone similar to a Muslim [in imploring Allah] except a man who is in the ocean on a plank of wood calling out, ‘O my Lord, O my Lord.’ Perhaps Allah would save such a person.”
Causes that Prohibit the Acceptance of Du`a’
From amongst the harmful things that prohibit the realization and beneficial effects of du`a’ is when the servant is in such a rush that he becomes weak and stops making du`a’. According to Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (S) said, “The servant will continue to be responded to as long as he does not fall into sin, or cut off ties with his family, or be in a rush.” It was said to the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah, what is meant by being in a rush?” The Prophet responded, “That someone would say, ‘Indeed I made a lot of du`a’, and I have not seen my du`a’ being responded to.’” So he becomes weak at that moment and stops making du`a’.” His example is like that of someone who plants a seedling and begins to care for and water it, but when he sees it growing slowly he leaves it and ignores it. Bukhari narrates a hadith in his Sahih on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Prophet (S) said, “Your du`a’ will be accepted as long as you are not hasty or in a rush like the one who says, ‘I made du`a’ and it was not responded to.’” Lastly, in another hadith in Musnad Ahmed on the authority of Anas, the Prophet (S) said, “The servant will continue to be in a state of wellbeing as long as he doesn’t rush.” They said, “O Prophet, How does he rush?” The Prophet responded, “That he would say, ‘I called upon my Lord and I was not responded to.’”
The Time when Du`a’ is Most Accepted and the Characteristics of the One Calling upon Allah
There are six periods of time when du`a’ is most accepted:
- The last third of the night;
- During the call to prayer (Adhan);
- Between the Adhan and Iqamah (the two calls for prayer);
- Right after one of the mandatory prayers;
- Between the time when the Imam first climbs the Minbar for Jumu`ah (Friday prayer) until the time when he starts the prayer;
- The last hour of the day after `Asr (prayer before the sun sets, and the new Islamic day begins).
There are certain causes and characteristics that aid in the acceptance of du`a’, and they are mentioned below:
- The heart is completely present and attentive to that which it desires, and the time in which the du`a’ is being made coincides with one of the six times mentioned above.
- The heart is simultaneously focused on Allah, feels its weakness before Him, is humbled before Him and is sincerely imploring Him.
- The one making du`a’ is facing the Qibla (towards Mecca), and he or she is in a ritual state of purity,
- The caller raises his or her hands up to Allah and begins by praising Allah and making du`a’ for the Prophet (S).
- The caller realizes his or her need to repent (tawba) and seek forgiveness (istighfaar). The caller also begins beseeching Allah with complete sincerity, with the best of words accompanied by hope and fear, and invokes Allah by His various names, attributes, and Tawheed.
- The caller has given charity before his du`a’.
If all of these causes and characteristics of the caller are all included and attached with the du`a’, then such a du`a’ cannot possibly be rejected. This is especially true if the du`a’ includes some of the specific invocations that the Prophet (S) informed us would be accepted, and if it includes the best names of Allah.
This concludes this portion of the Book, and Imam ibn al Qayyim proceeds by enumerating the various names and methods by which Allah should be called, the situations of du`a’, and the need to accompany trust in Allah with doing your part in worldly means.
May Allah make us amongst those who call upon Him with sincerity and certainty, and who never tire of imploring Him day and night.
- This hadith has been declared extremely weak, and one scholar classified it as fabricated. It is being mentioned here as it was mentioned in the book.