Sentiment and Spirit of Muslim Supplication
By Hafiz Ahmad Mustafa
Du'aa - its Virtues, Ethics and conditions precedent for acceptance.
Submission is an essential sentiment for the success of a supplication. The two must be made to appear together in the mind and be made to work together through the heart to give a supplicant the real taste of the pleasure of making a supplication. In the words of Shah Waliullah, the spirit of supplication is abject surrender before the Might and Power of Allaah because of one's one helplessness.
To create the sentiment for and to capture the spirit of supplication, one has to observe faithfully the conditions given in Qur'aan Majeed and in the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). A supplication is as much as a prescription for spiritual ills both visible and invisible, as a physician's prescription for bodily ills, and has to be treated in the same way for maximum benefit.
The ethical discipline and standard laid down in Qur'aan Majeed for making supplications is -
"Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of God is (always near to those who do good.)" (7:56)
A supplication is to be made in all humility and in right earnest, quietly and in private; the signs of dedication and devotion, veneration and unction must become a part of one's disposition when praying and the heart should be full of the Majesty and Magnificence of Allaah. The attitude should be full of hope as well as of fear, hope based on His Mercy and fear out of His Power as -
"They used to call on Us with love and reverence, and humble themselves before Us. (21:90)
"They call on their Lord, in Fear and Hopes and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them." (32:16)
This attitude makes for an admirable balance - for it infuses jubilance in the heart of a supplicant as well as restrains his fears.
It is best to pray in private for one can open his heart and make entreaties when alone. It is in fact the real posture for prayer unless otherwise commanded. Hasan Basri, the renowned savant, has said that there is a difference of 70 degrees between supplications made quietly and in secret and those uttered loudly and in audience. The Prophet Zakariya did earn honourable mention for it -
"Behold! He cried to his Lord in secret." (19:33)
It is meritorious for many reasons to call and communicate with Allaah in low, soft tones as, it proves one's faith in Him and makes for the high sense of respect and veneration which is His due. It is also in keeping with the conditions a supplicant is required to fulfill, namely, abject surrender, humility and utmost devotion. Only one who is sad at heart and who is uneasy because of worries and whose body and limbs are only half alive due to his predicament can only make his supplication in whispers. It wards off hypocrisy and vanity and brings comfort to the heart and solace to the mind. More importantly it gives the feelings of closeness to Allaah and of disclosing his troubles in confidence as if to an intimate friend. This is authenticated by a saying of the Holy Prophet when he admonished those of his companions who were found making takbir loudly. He told them that they were calling on One Who listened to all and was the nearest to them. One can pray for long in secret; slowly and softly without any fatigue and any fear of evil promptings or interference. It is thus one of the greatest blessings, and a protection against those who may feel envious of such devotion on the part of others. Prophet Jacob's advice to his son, Prophet Joseph (alaihumus salaam) may be cited in support -
"Said (the father): "My (dear) little son! Relate not thy vision to thy brothers. Lest they concoct a plot against thee; for Satan is to man an avowed enemy!" (17:5)
A supplication is also described as Zikr (remembrance). According to a saying of the Holy Prophet "Al-ham-du-lil-laah" is a Du'aa for it speaks of one's love and admiration of Allaah. Since love and care are one of the highest sentiments, it is all the more befitting to hope for the success of such supplications. We may invite attention to -
"...Bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul, with humility and in reverence, without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and be not thou of those who are un-heedful." (7:205)
The principal factor for success of a supplicant is one's absolute faith in the attributes of Allaah -
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me: let them also with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the Right Way." (2:186)
Pious devotion, divine consciousness and utmost trust in the Mercy of Allaah are some other pre-requisites. The Holy Prophet has said (as in Tirmizi) that one must pray with full faith that Allaah will grant his request and that Allaah does not accept supplications from an inattentive and an oblivious heart and from the absent-minded. Honest livelihood is another important condition. The prayers of one indulging in unlawful pursuits for his sustenance are not acceptable to Allaah. There is a saying of the Holy Prophet to this effect. He has spoken of one who undertakes a long journey; and while covered with dust and ridden with fatigue, he raises his hands towards heaven for help and succour calling upon his Nourisher and Sustainer as "Yaa Rab", whereas his food and drink, dress and trappings, bones and blood are all from forbidden and prohibited sources. How could his prayer be answered? Honest livelihood is made incumbent even for the prophets of Allaah not to speak of ordinary mortals -
"O ye apostles! Enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness: for I am well-acquainted with (all) that ye do." (23:51)
The believers are asked to help themselves with pure and wholesome sustenance provided to them by Allaah -
"Oh ye who believe! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you, and be grateful to God. If it is Him ye worship." (2:172)
Last but not the least is the condition to abstain from sinister sins like deception and treachery, backbiting and malice, pride and jealousy. In the presence of such grievous maladies it is impossible for a supplicant to attain spiritual felicity to make his supplications go up to the Almighty -
It is only through good and righteous deeds that pious words get approbation of Allaah.
"...To Him mount up (all) Words of Purity: it is He Who exalts each Deed of Righteousness..." (35:10)
Supplications made on the strength of noble deeds and righteous conduct are pleasing to Allaahas is apparent from a saying of the Holy Prophet (as in Bukhari) about the supplications for rescue made by three persons accidentally trapped in a cave by humbly recounting deeds undertaken and recalling conduct determined purely and exclusively out of love and or fear of Allaah. They earned emancipation from their dreadful fate through their graceful deeds and conduct in the past which had earned the approbation of Allaah. By the same token misdeeds and misconduct can come in the way of sinners and nullify their efforts seeking favours from Allaah.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)