‘The Believer’s weapon’ is, how Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) described,Du’aa (Supplication). ‘A slack bow’ is how Ibn-ul-Qayyim described the Du’aa that …
People often wonder why their Du’aas are not accepted, especially when they hear or read the ayah:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ٱدۡعُونِيٓ أَسۡتَجِبۡ لَكُمۡۚ
“And your Rabb said: Call me, I will accept your call.” (Al-Ghaafir 40:60)
In fact, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) is reported to have said: “Whoever is given Du’aa is (also) given acceptance because Allah, the Most High, says: Call me, I will accept your call.”
It is also narrated from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) that: “Allah does not open the door of Du’aa for a servant yet close on him the door of acceptance.”
Thus, Hadhrat Ibn ‘Umar’s freed slave, Hadhrat Nafay’, narrates that he heard his former master say on the top of Mount Safaa: “O Allah! You said: Call me, I will accept your call and You do not break your promises. I therefore implore You that, having guided me to Islam, (please) do not snatch it away from me until You grant me death while I am a Muslim.”
One reason (although not too common) for the non-acceptance of Du’aa is the Du’aa itself. This is when the Du’aa entails something disliked by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Most High. For example, a man makes Du’aa to win the lottery (which is Islamically unlawful) or he makes Du’aa for Barakah in his liquor business (another Islamically unlawful business). A Du’aa of this sort could be compared to incorrect medication. For example, a diabetic taking hypertension medication to reduce his blood sugar levels. Du’aas entailing things that disliked by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) are fruitless just as incorrect medication yields no results.
A second reason is inattention of the person making Du’aa. In the worldly life, inattention when speaking to people is regarded as rude. Inattention when seeking somebody’s assistance is not only rude; it indicates a lack of urgency and therefore unconvincing. In Du’aa, we speak to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and seek His assistance. Hence, paying attention and focusing on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is of paramount importance. Inattention in Du’aa is rudeness to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Can we be rude to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and expect Him to still accept our Du’aas? Inattention in Du’aa also implies that, Allah-forbid, we are not really in need of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s help. Can anybody claim independence from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)? It is for this reason that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) said that: “. . . Allah does not accept Du’aa from a negligent, thoughtless heart.”
‘Like a slack bow’ is how Ibn-ul-Qayyim described such a Du’aa. How far will the arrow travel if the bow is slack? If I say, ‘not too far’, you’ll probably say, ‘it will hardly leave the bow’. Just as you cannot hunt with a slack bow, you cannot seek Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s assistance with a ‘slack’ Du’aa – a Du’aa without concentration. I would compare a person who makes Du’aa in this manner to a hunter who has the best firearm but does not aim correctly. Alternatively, such a Du’aa could be compared to incorrectly administered medication. Do you blame your GP, the antibiotic he prescribed or yourself if you do not complete the course?
The reason for the non-acceptance of Du’aa comprises of three aspects:
a. Consumption of Haraam (Prohibited) food and drink – On one occasion, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) quoted the Aayah: “O Messengers! Eat from the pure (Halaal i.e. Permissible) things and do good actions, I am fully aware of whatever you do”
And: “O those who believe! Eat from the pure (Halaal) sustenance that we give you.”
He thereafter spoke of a traveler on a long journey – his hair is disheveled and his clothes are covered in dust.
“Stretching his hands to the sky, he cries: ‘O my Rabb! O my Rabb!’ But his food is Haraam, his clothes are Haraam and he has been nourished with Haraam substances. How can his Du’aa be accepted?”
b. Excessive sin – A narration in Imam Ahmad’s Kitaab-uz-Zuhd tells us that at the time of a particular period of difficulty experienced by the Bani Israel, they all went out of their town in order to beg Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for His assistance. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), however, commanded their Prophet to inform them that: “You are going out to the fields with impure clothes. You raise to me hands by means of which you have shed blood and filled your houses with Haraam. Now, when I am severely angry with you? (If this is your attitude) you will only get further from me!”
In this regard, Hadhrat Abu Zarr said that: “A small amount of Du’aa similar to the amount of salt required when cooking is sufficient if you are righteous.”
c. Haste – Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) said: “The Du’aa of one of you will be accepted so long as he is not hasty, saying: ‘I made Du’aa but it was not accepted.”
d. Doubt in the acceptance of one’s Du’aa – Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Make Du’aa with conviction that your Du’aa will be accepted.”
It is for this reason that we have been prohibited from saying: “O Allah!Forgive me if you desire.”
Du’aa accompanied with any of the above could be likened to a diabetic who takes his medication religiously but does not reduce his sugar intake.
Explaining the above in a different manner, many scholars mention that acceptance of Du’aa is similar to the validity of Salaah (Prayer). Just as the validity of Salaah depends on certain Shuroot (Conditions), the acceptance of Du’aa is also dependent on certain Shuroot.
Is Salaah valid without Wudhoo (Ablution)? Is Salaah valid if the “Awrah” (Private parts of the body) is exposed? Is Salaah valid if the clothes of the Musallee (Person offering Salaah) are Najas (Impure)? Is Salaah valid if the Musallee does not face the Qiblah i.e. Right direction towards House of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in Makkah al Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia? The answer to all these questions is ‘No!’ Why not? Because Wudhoo, concealment of the Awrah, Tahaarah (Purity) of clothes and facing the Qiblah are all Shuroot for the validity of Salaah. The acceptance of Du’aa is similar; it depends on certain Shuroot.
There are two types of conditions for the acceptance of Du’aa:
1. The conditions of the person making Du’aa – They are:
a. Conviction that nobody but Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) can fulfill his need
b. Conviction that all apparent means for fulfillment of his need are controlled entirely by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)
c. Conviction that one’s Du’aa will be accepted
f. Abstention from haram food, drink, etc.
g. Perseverance – He must not get tired of making Du’aa.
2. The Shuroot of the Du’aa – There is only one Shart (Condition) in this regard viz. permissibility, whatever you are making Du’aa for must be permissible.
One reason for the non-acceptance of Du’aa is insufficiency – you are not making enough Du’aa. A learner failed the physics examination. “Why did you not study?” his father scolded. “But I did study” he pleaded. That was the truth. He did study, except that he only did so on the night preceding the examination. How much could he cram in one night? So yes, he did study, but it was not enough. The same may be applied to Du’aa only for understanding it. We often make Du’aa, but not enough.
Conversely, what is sometimes construed as rejection of Du’aa is actually a delay – it will be accepted, but not yet. Put differently, the Du’aa is accepted but the need is not yet fulfilled. The reason for this is the sincerity, dedication and humility of the person making the Du’aa. It is mentioned in some narrations that when a person who is loved by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) makes Du’aa, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) tells Archangel Hadhrat Jibreel: “Do not be hasty in fulfilling my servant’s need because I love hearing his voice.”
In fact, Hadhrat Abu Sa’eed narrated that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) said that whenever a Muslim makes Du’aa in which there is neither sin nor severance of family ties, Allah gives him one of three things:
1. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) fulfils his request
2. He stores the reward of his Du’aa for the Aakhirah (Hereafter).
3. He averts an equal amount of hardship from his path.
“Then we will make a lot of Du’aa”, said the Sahaabah (Companions) of Prophet (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) when they heard this. The Messenger (SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) replied that no matter how much Du’aa they make; Allah’s treasures are always more!
Considering the divine promise in ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ Call me, I will accept your call) and the above narration, many scholars have concluded that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) accepts all Du’aas. Nevertheless, rejection of Du’aa due to reasons explained thus far is also a reality. Observation of the Shuroot of Du’aa is therefore essential.
The Du’aa should be with fear and desire.
وَٱدۡعُوهُ خَوۡفٗا وَطَمَعًاۚ إِنَّ رَحۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ (56)
“Supplicate Him in fear and hope. Surely, the mercy of Allah is close to those who are good in their deeds.” (Al-A’raaf 7:56)
According to one interpretation, خَوْفًا (Khawf) indicates fear that one’s Du’aa may be rejected and طَمَعًا refers to desire for one’s Du’aa to be accepted. Furthermore, acceptance of Du’aa is only due to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s mercy. Hence, we conclude that Du’aa accompanied with fear and hope is close to acceptance (sure to be accepted). ‘Like the two wings of a bird’ is how one of the scholars described such fear and hope. No bird flies with only one wing. Similarly, our Du’aas do not ‘fly’ to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) without the wings of fear and hope.
Observe all the conditions and Aadaab (Manners) of Du’aa and do not ever give up because ‘the door is eventually opened for the one who does not stop knocking’.