Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Benefits of Du`a’ (Supplication) by Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil Abu Rashta

The Benefits of Du`a’ (‘Supplication’):
Tafsir of surat al-Baqara Verse 186
By Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (Allah protect him)[1]
Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: {And when My servants ask you about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayers of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should listen to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’}[2]
‘Here we should pause in order to mention certain matters related to du`a’[3] so that it is clear in the mind of the supplicant when he supplicates to His Lord (glorified is He!):
[1] Making du`a’ is an action of `ibada and it is the “essence of worship” (mukh al-`ibada) based on Allah’s saying: {And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you.’ Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible}.[4] Thus, Allah made du`a’ an `ibada because he mentioned in the verse {my worship} after mentioning {call upon me}. And this is like the statement: “du`a’ is the essence of worship”.[5] Du`a’ is an act of `ibada and Allah loves that His servant calls out to Him and beseeches Him with humility and urgency.[6] Allah says: “Allah loves those who beseech Him and implore him[7] Whoever does not make du`a’ to Allah has abandoned an immense good[8] and if he abandons it out of pride and arrogance then he will fall under those whom Allah described as {will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible} meaning low and humiliated.
[2] Allah has mentioned to us to call out to Him and supplicate to Him as well as to follow Him (glorified is He!) which is to firmly follow His Law and His Messenger (saw): {they should listen to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way…}. Allah said: “He supplicates to Allah but his food and drink are unlawful. How can hisdu`a’ be answered…”[9]
[3] Du`a’ – which is an act of `ibada – does not mean we leave taking the necessary means (asbab). This was made clear in the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger (saw). Allah says: {they should listen to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way…} meaning ‘so that they are guided by taking the means and remaining faithful and committed to that so that their du`as are accepted’.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) prepared the armies for battle and prepared the soldiers so that they were properly prepared for battle then he entered the fray calling upon Allah for victory as well as making his du`a’ plentiful to the extent that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra) remarked: ‘a little of that is sufficient for you O Messenger of Allah [s: for victory]…’
When Allah (swt) gave permission to the Messenger to migrate from Mecca to Medina, the Messenger of Allah (saw) prepared every means that was humanly possible in order to realise this while at the same time calling upon Allah and supplicating to Him to divert the Quraysh disbelievers and to thwart their plans so that he can arrive to Medina safely and free from harm [...] the Messenger of Allah (saw) took care to take all means and causes into consideration so that we follow him in that [...] so du`a’ does not mean abandoning the means but acting according to the means. Thus, whoever loves to re-establish the Khilafah again, then he must not be content with merely making du`a’ to his Lord to achieve it but he must work with those who are already working to achieve this aim while still supplicating to Allah for assistance (`awn) and to hasten its realisation. And this is the case regarding all actions: a person undertakes an action purely for the sake of Allah and out of sincerity to the Messenger of Allah while at the same time humbly, sincerely beseeching and imploring Allah the All-Hearing and All-Answering.
[4] Allah (glorified is He!) answers the prayers and supplications of a supplicant and answers the calls of one who is under compulsion where He says: {I answer the prayers of the supplicant when he prays to Me} and {Or, Who answers the distressed person when he calls upon Him, and removes the evil, and makes you successors in the earth?}.[10] There is a shar`i reality for du`a’ being answered as clarified by the Messenger of Allah (saw): “If any Muslim supplicates to Allah containing nothing that is sinful and nothing that involves breaking ties of ties of kinship then Allah will grant him one of three things: He may accept his request or save its reward for him in the next world or deflect from him an equivalent amount of evil. They [s: meaning the companions] asked: ‘shall we make plenty our supplications?’ [The Prophet replied]: Allah is more than ready to answer [s: what you request][11] and “The supplication of the servant will continue to be answered as long as he does not request a sin or severe the ties of kinship or is impatient. [The Companions] asked: ‘what does ‘impatience’ mean Messenger of Allah?’ [The Prophet] replied: ‘It is when a person says: ‘I supplicated and kept on doing it but it was not heard or answered’. So he then despairs and abandons supplicating’…[12] What this indicates is that it is not necessary that du`a’ be answered in this world; it may be answered [or it may not] or it may be kept for the hereafter and there is an immense reward in that or an equivalent amount of evil is deflected. So if we call upon Allah (Glorified is He!) while being truthful, pious and sincere then we will have the full trust that it will be answered as explained by the Messenger of Allah (saw).
[5] Acceptance of one’s du`a’ does not mean the qadar is changed nor whatever is written in the al-Lawh al-Mahfuznor the knowledge of Allah. In other words, the du`a’ being accepted does not mean Allah did not know His servant was calling upon Him or that He in fact accepted the du`a’ and hence was not recorded in the Lawh al-Mahfuz. It cannot be asked how Allah answers the du`a’ of one of His servants where the qadar of Allah was determined from eternity and the record etched on the Lawh al-Mahfuz was already decided because making a supplication and it being answered are not a new matter that is sought that Allah did not know about, rather the matter is understood as follows:
The Qadar of Allah is His knowledge, i.e. what is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz and everything that exists was written in it from eternity. Allah knows that so and so person will call upon Him and supplicate to Him [at a certain time] so if Allah had already determined [s: i.e. knew] the answer to the du`a’ of so who would call upon Him and supplicate to Him for a certain thing and that thing did materialise, then the du`a’ and its response is not something new that was desired that was not in the knowledge of Allah or that it was not written in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz; rather everything is written in the Lawh al-Mahfuz and Allah knows the unseen and knows all that His servants do and say. Everything is written in pre-eternity. Thus the du`a’ a person makes as well as its response is known to Allah and is recorded in the way it is recorded and in the way Allah intended it to be recorded in eternity. Therefore, a du`a’ and its response are not beyond the knowledge of Allah rather both are recorded in the Lawh al-Mahfuz in the manner discussed. Allah is Knower of the unseen …”[13]
Some preconditions for du`a’ to be accepted are:
[1] That Allah alone responds and fulfils the du`a’: the believer must have the full belief and realisation that du`a’ is for Allah alone and that He (swt) listens, responds, fulfills and rejects with no-one else sharing in His power to do this. To believe otherwise is irrational and compromises one’s iman as it relates to aspects of tawhid.
[2] That the du`a’ must be solely for the sake of Allah: the believer is rationally led to make supplications to that Being who can fulfil all needs without fail and relies on nothing else for its need. Supplicating to any other entity or being would be irrational.
[3] That one avoids hastiness in the du`a’: this means one ought not to make supplications and expect it to be answered immediately although Allah is able to do that. This is because expecting immediate responses could leave someone to become exasperated and then abandon du`a’ altogether. There must be perseverance in prayers. It also suggests that Allah has to respond and act according to our demands and standards as finite, limited and insignificant creatures. But there is nothing to suggest that this should be so. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim gives a perceptive example:
“And one of the factors that prevents du`a’ to [Allah] being efficacious is when a person is hasty in desiring a response so he gives up hope and abandons du`a’. This is like a person who plants a seed and then guards it, takes care of it and waters it such that when it delays in [s: in producing its fruits] and reaches perfection, it is abandoned and left by itself…”[14]
ومن الآفات التى تمنع ترتب أثر الدعاء عليه أن يستعجل العبد ويستبطي الاجابة فيستحسر ويدع الدعاء وهو بمنزلة من بذر بذرا أو غرس غرسا فجعل يتعاهده ويسقيه فلما استبطأ كماله وإدراكه تركه وأهمله
[4] That the du`a’ must be something befitting and not unlawful: Allah does not offer a radical or staggering promise to accept and fulfil all and any du`a’. He does not permit for example requests for unlawful things or acts that are sinful. This is both contrary to Allah’s character and purpose behind how Allah acts and intervenes in His creation, i.e. the manner in which He (swt) providentially governs His creation. Allah is not obligated to satisfy the whim of any individual and hence not obligated to fulfil any requests.
[5] That the du`a’ must not be out of negligence or inattentiveness: Du`a’ must be made with utmost care, sincerity, attention and serious focus. If it is made carelessly and indifferently, it is made in vain. The one making thedu`a’ must be in a state of awareness of h/her position before Allah and be mindful of who they are asking and what they are asking.[15] Imam al-Nawawi comments:
“Know that the purpose and aim of the du`a’ is that one have a presence of heart as we mentioned earlier and the evidences for that are too numerous and knowledge of it is so clear and apparent that there is no point in even discussing it!”[16]
اعلم أن مقصود الدعاء هو حضور القلب كما سبق بيانه، والدلائل عليه أكثر من أن تُحصر، والعلم به أوضح من أن يذكر، لكن نتبرّك بذكر حديث فيه‏
[6] That the du`a’ must not omit mention of the Prophet (saw): The du`a’ must invoke the name of the Messenger of Allah, i.e. praises of him otherwise it will be inefficacious and suspended or ‘covered’ (mahjub).[17]
Shaykh `Ata’ continues:
“[6] Allah (glorified is He!) mentions the verses of fasting [s: vv.183-185] but has separated them by mentioning du`a’and the separation is between two connected matters, i.e. there is here a matter that requires explaining so the wisdom in mentioning du`a’ between the verses on fasting is an indication that supplicating in the month of Ramadan has an immense reward and is more likely to be accepted. So, the month of fasting is the month of `ibada sincerely for Allah and the person whose fasting is close to his Lord and his du`a’ is likely to be accepted as mentioned in the noble hadith: “The du`a’ of three people will not be rejected: the just Imam; the person who is fasting up until he breaks his fast and the supplication of the oppressed. They will be raised above the clouds on the Day of Judgment and will open the doors of the heavens saying: By my honour and majesty! I will help you even if it is after a while”…[18]
Other benefits of du`a’ include:
[1] Allah’s generosity: Allah states in the Qur’an {everything in the Heavens and the earth begs Him [for its needs] and everyday He has a matter to bring forth!}. Everything continuously asks and Allah continuously gives. (refer tohttp://daralnicosia.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/tafsir-of-surah-al-rahman-part-1/ for the commentary on surat al-Rahman). And there are narrations that urge the believer to be plentiful in his supplications.[19]
[2] Emancipation from the Fire: Lack of du`a’ can mean a person is hindered from entering the garden as was the case regarding Ibn Jud`an in the time of jahiliyya where he used to offer charity and look after his relatives but did not ask Allah for forgiveness in du`a’ and the Messenger of Allah informed of his destination as Hellfire.
[3] Abandoning du`a’ is laziness: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The most lazy person is he who does not make du`a’ and the most miserly one is he who does not impart the salams [s: Islamic greetings]…”[20] Du`a’does not take exertion, energy or time.  Hence to leave it is a sign of immense show of apathy and lethargy.
[4] Characteristic of true believers: Allah mentions in the Qur’an {Verily, they used to do good actions and supplicate to Us with fear and hope and used to humble themselves before us…}.[21] This equates du`a’ with the description of true and humble believers, i.e. those whom Allah praises highly.
[5] Du`a’ is a means to victory: This is indicated in the Story of Dawud (as) and his confrontation with Jalut and his army where both Dawud (as) and Talut supplicated to Allah for patience, perseverance and victory against their enemies.[22]
Peace and Blessings upon Rasul Allah.
His pure family, Companions
And all who follow them.

[1] Sh. `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, pp.219-222. Cf. also The Essentials of the Islamic Disposition (Min Muqawwamat al-Nafsiyyat al-Islamiyya)English, pp.79-82.
[2] Q. 2:186.
[3] The word “du`a’” linguistically means ‘to summon’, ‘to call out’; see Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-`Arab, 14:258.
[4] Q. 40:60.
[5] Tirmidhi, Sunan (#3292) and Ahmed, Musnad, 3/271. In another narration it has: du`a’ is the best form of worship”. See al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 1:491.
[6] Allah is not in need of any du`a’ whatsoever. In fact, were it not for mankind making du`a’ to Allah, He would not have cared about them at all. This indicates it immense importance. Imam al-Shawkani states:
}قُلْ مَا يَعْبَؤُا بِكُمْ رَبّي لَوْلاَ دُعَاؤُكُمْ } بيّن سبحانه أنه غنيّ عن طاعة الكلّ، وإنما كلفهم لينتفعوا بالتكليف، يقال: ما عبأت بفلان: أيّ: ما باليت به، ولا له عندي قدر، وأصل يعبأ من العبء، وهو الثقل. قال الخليل: ما أعبأ بفلان أي: ما أصنع به كأنه يستقله ويستحقره، ويدّعي أن وجوده وعدمه سواء، وكذا قال أبو عبيدة. قال الزجاج: { مَا يَعْبَؤُا بِكُمْ رَبّي } يريد: أيّ وزن يكون لكم عنده؟ والعبء: الثقل، وما استفهامية، أو نافية، وصرح الفراء: بأنها استفهامية. قال ابن الشجري: وحقيقة القول عندي: أن موضع «ما» نصب، والتقدير: أي عبء يعبأ بكم؟ أي: أيّ مبالاة يبالي بكم؟ { لَوْلاَ دُعَاؤُكُمْ }: أي: لولا دعاؤكم إياه، لتعبدوه
“{Say: My Lord only pays attention to you on account of your supplications}. Allah (Glorified is He!) is free from everyone’s worship. He has given them the responsibility [s: of following Allah’s commands] so that they can benefit from the responsibility. It is said: ma `aba’tu fulana (‘I did not care about so and so’), meaning ma balaytu bi-hi (‘I did not give him any thought whatsoever’) or ‘He has no standing with me’ [...] ”
[7] Cf. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 11:95.
[8] al-Shawkani, Tuhfat al-Dhakirin, p.30.
[9] Tirmidhi, Sunan (#2915) and al-Darimi, Sunan, 2:300.
[10] Q. 27:62. This holds irrespective of whether it is a believer or a non-believer. See the Musnad of al-Tayalisi (#1266). The du`a’ of the one in distress (mudtarr) is also accepted by Allah. In times of grave crisis, extreme distress and unbearable hardship the inner sincerity and desperation displayed is entirely real and answered by Allah regardless of the person’s faith. Imam al-Qurtubi writes in his commentary on Q. 27:62:
“Allah Most high has guaranteed the response of the du`a’ of the one who is mudtarr when he supplicates and has Himself informed [us of this guarantee]. The reason for this is that the mudtarr will turn to [Allah] in utter sincerity cutting his hope off from all others. Sincerity to [Allah] is the grounds for gaining His protection regardless of whether it came from a mu’min or kafir or pious or evil person…” al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, 13:223.
ضمن الله تعالى إجابة المضطر إذا دعاه، وأخبر بذلك عن نفسه؛ والسبب في ذلك أن الضرورة إليه باللجاء ينشأ عن الإخلاص، وقطع القلب عما سواه؛ وللإخلاص عنده سبحانه موقع وذمّة، وجد من مؤمن أو كافر، طائع أو فاجر
[11] Ahmad, Musnad, 3/18 and al-Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufradhadith (#713).
[12] Muslim, Sahih (#4918).
[13] Sh. `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, p.221.
[14] Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Jawab al-Kafi, p.10.
[15] See al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:148; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa ’l-Tarhib, 2:492 and al-Nawawi, Kitab al-Adhkar, p.356.
[16] al-Nawawi, Kitab al-Adhkar, p.356.
[17] See al-Suyuti, al-Jami` al-Saghir (#6303); al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 2:406; al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:163 and al-Shawkani, Tuhfat al-Dhakirin, p.58.
[18] Sh. `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, pp.219-222. The du`a’ of the following category of people is also accepted: [1] the traveller, Muslim, Sahih (#918); [2] the father for or against his son which also includes the mother by greater reasoning, al-Bukhari, al-Adab al-Mufrad (#481); [3] a son who regularly supplicates for his father, Muslim, Sahih (#1631); [4] the pilgrims of Hajj and `Umra, al-Bazzar, al-Musnad (#1153) and [5] the one who remembers Allah constantly, al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 2:399.
[19] Ibn Hibban, Sahih (#2403) and `Abd Ibn Humayd, al-Muntakhab, 1:193.
[20] Ibn Hibban, Sahih (#1939).
[21] Q. 21:90.
[22] Q. 2:250-251


Anonymous said...

As-Salamu alaikum. BarakAllahufik for the translation of this great work.

There is a mistake in the English tekst above. In the second part the text says, "Allah said: 'He supplicates to Allah but..'" This is not from the Quran, rather it is a hadith so it should be The Messenger who says it. I do not know if the same mistake exists in the original arabic text.

Anonymous said...

Please explain this part, "[6] That the du`a’ must not omit mention of the Prophet (saw): The du`a’ must invoke the name of the Messenger of Allah, i.e. praises of him otherwise it will be inefficacious and suspended or ‘covered’ (mahjub)."

As far as I know this is NOT a prerequisite. This is mandub. Clearly there exists lots of examples of dua from both the Quran and of the Sahaba (raa) neither containing the above, yet they where answered by Allah (swt).

Anonymous said...

At the begging of the commentary it mentions that "a person undertakes an action purely for the sake of Allah and out of sincerity to the Messenger of Allah"

Is it out of sincerity to Messenger(SAWS) or Allah(SWT)?