Understanding the Whys & Hows of Supplication

I was bummed when I had to miss out on the 3-day Fiqh of Du’a talk by Shaykh Waleed Basyouni… until my beautiful, selfless friend shared with me notes she took down from the talk! The takeaways have been so beneficial to me, so I’m putting it up here for you guys to read. May it be of immense benefit to you too, and may we put into practise this knowledge we have learnt. Please also make du’a for my friend, Nurul Jannah, for sharing with us all what we’ve mostly missed.

Notes from Fiqh of Du’a by Shaykh Waleed Basyouni

Du’a (supplication) is not so much as getting what you want or what you asked for, rather it is about the du’a itself, which signifies your connection to Allah and dependence upon Him. Umar al-Khattab (ra) said, my concern is not the answer to my prayer, but my utmost concern is whether I can make a good du’a or not (i.e. whether my connection to Allah is strong or not). A reminder to myself, what is the first thing you turn to when you face a problem? Is it du’a? Is the first thing that comes out of your mouth, “O Allah…”?

Who is the person who turned to Allah and Allah let him down? (No one!)

A dialogue between the righteous followers (tabi’een):

“Those who knock on the door (through du’a), soon the door will be opened for him.”

“Bless you, so-and-so! Who told you the door was ever closed?” – Rabi’atul Adawiyyah

During the Shaykh’s youth, they would identify a Muslim person as practising or not by two qualities:

(1) Whether they prayed in the masjid,

(2) Whether they did the daily dhikr (rememberance of Allah).

The companions would hold firmly onto du’a and adhkar (plural of dhikr). The Prophet S.A.W would teach his companions a du’a and ask them to memorise it as they would memorize the Qur’an.

“Since the Prophet S.A.W taught me a supplication I never missed it.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra).

The Prophet S.A.W said, whoever reads ayatul Qursi after every obligatory prayer, there is nothing between him and paradise except death (Nasa’i, sahih). Ibn Taimiyah, when he heard this at around ten years old, never missed reciting it every since. Ibn Taimiyah also would engage in dhikr from fajr til mid-day, when asked about it he responded, “This dhikr is like my food. How would you go to work without eating? Your body will be weak. Just the same, the heart will be weak if it is not nourished with dhikr.”

Saying “Subhanallahil azeem wa bihamdih” plants you a tree in paradise. When Imam Nawawi learnt this he said, “We have missed so many opportunities to plant trees!” The people who came after him said, “We missed more opportunities than an-Nawawi.” Last friday, who made du’a during the last hour of it? Who read surat al-Kahf? Who made abundant shalawaat upon the Prophet S.A.W? Who took advantage of it?

Two men who came to the Prophet S.A.W and one of them said, “Who is the best man, O Muhammad?” The Prophet S.A.W said, “One who has a long life filled with good deeds.” The other man said, “Indeed, the laws of Islam are too many for us, so give us something comprehensive we can hold on to.” The Prophet said, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah the Exalted.” (Musnad Ahmad, sahih).

“There is nothing more dear to Allah than a servant making du’a to Him.” – The Prophet S.A.W in Sunan at-Tirmidhi.

The benefits of dhikr and du’a in the life of a Muslim

The connection between us and Allah is two-way: from Allah to us through the Qur’an, and from us to Allah through dhikr and du’a. If one side is missing, the entire connection falls apart.

The Prophet S.A.W said, “Du’a is the essence of ibadah (worship)” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad). He also said, “The mufarridun will be ahead of everyone else on the Day of Judgement.” The asked, and who are the mufarridun, ya Rasulullah?” “They are the males and females who remember Allah a lot.” (Muslim)

  1. Dhikr brings about tranquility and serenity within you; it strengthens your heart, such that you will fear none but Allah. (Qur’an 13:28)
  2. Dhikr is a form of protection from syaitan (Quran 7:200) The messenger of Allah S.A.W said, “Do not make your houses like graves, for the syaitan runs away from a house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited.” (Muslim)
  3. Dhikr and du’a brings you success in this life and the hereafter (Qur’an 62:10). Such success can come through the clarity of mind and heart. Ibn Taimiyah through remembrance of Allah was able to accomplish more (wrote books of knowledge etc) with less effort.
  4. Dhikr is a testimony against hypocrisy. (Qur’an 9:67)
  5. Dhikr brings harmony and strengthens social ties (eg. spreading salaam – prayer for peace upon others and praying for someone who sneezes, and vice versa)


Who should you make du’a for other than yourself?

  1. Parents (Al-Isra’ 17:23-24 du’a for parents in the Qur’an)

    The Prophet S.A.W said, “When the son of Adam dies, his deeds come to an end apart from three: sadaqah jaariyah (ongoing charity); beneficial knowledge; or a righteous son who will make du’a for him.” (Sahih Muslim). A sign of your righteousness is that you pray for your parents when they’ve passed away. And it is not easy except for those who make du’a for their parents while their parents are alive.

  2. Family members (Al-Furqan 25:74 du’a for spouse & offspring)

    The Messenger of Allah S.A.W said, “Three supplications are answered without doubt: the supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveller and the supplication of the parent for his son.” (Tirmidhi)

  3. Your friends and those who benefited you and did good to you in your life

    The Prophet S.A.W. said, “If good is done to someone and then they say ‘jazakallahu khairan’ to the one who did good, they have indeed praised them well.” (Tirmidhi). For a whole year, Imam Abu Hanifah never missed making du’a for his teacher. Abu Darda’ (ra) would make du’a for 70 people by name in his witr prayer. “I don’t know how you claim someone to be your sister/brother in Islam and yet not make du’a for them. – Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal (some narrations said he would pray for 100 people by name every day).You do not know how a du’a can benefit another or come back to you. A man whose father had passed away saw his father in a dream in a good state (happy & well-dressed/ fed) and asked, oh father what were those deeds that led you to such a good state? The father replied, no but it through the du’a of this man and the father mentioned his name. The man woke up and asked around for this man, it was neither family nor friend. When he asked in a congregation a man later came and said, I am that man. He never knew the other person’s father. But when he prayed jenazah on father that day, he said, “Oh Allah, this man is entering Your world, so be generous to him. If he were to come to my house, I would be generous to him. Oh Allah, He is your guest now so be generous to him.”

  4. Praying for all Muslims and asking forgiveness for them (Muhammad 47:19)

    The Messenger of Allah S.A.W. said, “Whoever asked forgiveness for the believing men and women, Allah will give such person hanasah (reward) for each believing men and women.” (Tabarani in Mu’jam’il Kabir). Imagine, more than a billion believers, more than a billion rewards! Making du’a for the believers is indeed the sunnah of the Prophets; Prophet Nuh, Ibrahim, Muhamas (a.s.).

  5. Praying for your country and its leaders

    If now Allah tells you, you have one request and I will grant you, Al-Fudayl ibn Iyad said he would ask Allah to guide the leader. Ibn Mubarak said regarding teader, this, only Al-Fudayl would say this (how selfless he is, naturally most people would make du’a for themselves to enter paradise and such). This is because when you pray for the leader, the ummah is guided (through the leader). Pray for their guidance (even for non-Muslim leaders – pray that Allah guides their actions).It is permissible to make du’a for non-Muslim’s guidance while they are alive, but it is not permissible to make du’a for them when they have passed away (do not make du’a for or against them). Rather one can pray for their family members and give them his/her condolences. “To Allah belongs what He takes and what He gives, and when He takes He takes in a perfect manner so be patient.” (Variation of a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim).Allah ordained du’a to request for good things to happen and anything else. So every time we make a du’a for something bad to happen or for something that incurs the wrath of Allah, it goes against the purpose of du’a (Ibn Qayyim). One of the worst things is to make du’a against oneself (e.g. by saying “I wish I was dead.”) The person who you pray against is one of two: the transgressor or the victim. It is permissible to pray against a transgressor in the area where he transgresses. Still, forgiving and praying for their guidance and forgiveness is better.The Prophet S.A.W. said, “When a person curses somebody or something, the curse ates are goes up to the heaven and the gates of the heaven are closed. Then it comes down to earth and its gates are closed. Then it turns right and left, and if it does not find an entrance to go anywhere, it returns to the person or thing that was cursed if he or it deserves to be cursed, otherwise it returns to the person who uttered it.” (Abu Dawood) i.e. if someone prays against a victim, the du’a goes back to them.Cursing a believer by name is NOT allowed. Allah’s Messenger S.A.W. said, “Cursing a believer is like murdering him.”


The etiquette of dhikr & du’a

(a) It must be done with sincerity (Qur’an 40:65) and according to the sunnah of the Prophet S.A.W.; the closer you follow the sunnah, the more likely your du’a will be accepted.

(b) It is recommended for the person to be in a state of wudhu’ and to purify the tongue with the siwak or any other method that can make the mouth smell good as the angels come close to a person who is making du’a.

(c) It is recommended to face the qiblah.

(d) Choose the times, the location and the situation where the du’a and dhikr is most likely to be answered – From the sunnah, e.g. on Friday when the imam sits during the khutbah or at its last hour, in Ramadhan, in the masjid, in Makkah, when it’s raining or while travelling, etc.

(e) Have khushu’ while making dhikr and du’a – “If our istighfar needs istighfar, then we are in big trouble.” i.e. When we are seeking forgiveness from Allah we do so hastily or without paying any attention to our words, that is not how we would apologize to anyone so how can we do that to Allah?

(f) Lower the voice – Do not make du’a or dhikr silently (in your mind) you should still be able to hear yourself but what is meant is supplicating softly as in Qur’an 7:205

(g) Make dhikr individually or alone, away from people – The Prophet S.A.W. said that Allah said, “I am just as My slave believes e Mto be and I am with him when he remembers Me. So if he remembers Me within himself, I too will remember him within Myself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

(h) One should perform a good deed prior to making the du’a e.g. after reading the Qur’an, close to breaking fast is a time where du’a is accepted for those who fast, at the end of prayer i.e in sujood and after the tashahhud; some people make a lot of du’a after the prayer but not during the solah itself, making du’a in solah is better! Also, charity and tawbah are among the best deeds to offer prior to making du’a (and Qur’an 94:7-8)

(i) Praise Allah and convey prayer (salawat) upon the Prophet S.A.W. in the beginning and end of du’a.

(k) Making du’a with conviction. The Prophet S.A.W. said, “Let not any of you say, ‘O Allah have mercy on me if You will, O Allah have mercy on me if You will.’ Let him be resolute in the matter, whilst knowing that no one can compel Allah to do anything.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Being resolute meaning say, ‘O Allah forgive me’ knowing that Allah is Most Forgiving and will forgive. This is also why when someone makes du’a for you or says a du’a we should say ameen instead of insyaallah, because ameen means “Oh Allah accept” or “Oh Allah give me the same”, while insyaallah which means “if Allah wills” should be said with regards to the future and such.

(l) Make an encompassing, general du’a where possible.

(m) Mention the Names of Allah and His Attributes that are suitable to the request or du’a that you are making e.g. when asking Allah for knowledge make du’a to Al-Aleem the Most Knowledgeable, Al-Fattah the Opener to the doors of knowledge and ease and Al-Hakeem the Wise.

(n) Raise both hands during du’a. There are more than 100 narrations that the Prophet S.A.W. raised his hands in prayer. His hands were always touching each other (not apart). However it is not reported that the Prophet S.A.W. wiped his face after supplicating, rather he raised his hands in supplication then put them down.

The best dhikr is the Qur’an

It is never too late to learn the Qur’an. Ibn Abbas was teaching Qur’an as a teenager and amongst his students were the elderly like Abdur Rahman Ibn Auf, one of the first ten to embrace Islam. Your struggle with learning (to read/ understand/ memorize) the Qur’an doubles your reward.

Another important thing to note is that at the end of the day, it is not about the amount of Qur’an one memorized but how much of it is loved, honoured, and lived by. One of the companions of the Prophet S.A.W. would recite Surat al-Ikhlas in every prayer and when asked why, the man said because I love surat al-Ikhlas very much. This was related to the Prophet S.A.W., who said, tell him that Allah loves him too.

All the verses of the Qur’an are equal in their perfection, as they come from a Perfect Source, but the verses of the Qur’an are not all equal in virtue, i.e. from the perspective of subject, verses describing Allah hold more virtue than verses describing the earth. In authentic narrations some surahs have been mentioned their virtues or recommended to recite regularly such as Al-Fatihah (mother of the Qur’an and the best surah, Hadith Bukhari) and Surat Al-Baqarah and ayatul Qursi, Surat al-Ikhlas (1/3 of the Qur’an, Bukhari), Surat al-Imran, al-Mulk.

If you read 10 verses of the Qur’an everyday (night), you will not be recorded amongst the heedless (ghafileen). If you read 100 verses, you will be amongst the righteous (qaniteen). The Messenger of Allah S.A.W. said, “Whoever recites ten verses at night will not be recorded as one of the heedless.” (Sahih according to al-Albaani). The Messenger of Allah S.A.W. also said, “Whoever prayers qiyaam reciting ten verses will not be recorded as one of the heedless. Whoever prays qiyaam reciting one hundred verses will be recorded as one of the devout. Whoever prays qiyaam reciting one thousand verses will be recorded as one of those who collected a great deal of reward.” Classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih Abi Dawood (1264).

So let’s try to make the Qur’an a habit, insyaallah.

The Best Dhikr after the Qur’an

The Prophet S.A.W. said the most beloved words to Allah are four: subhanallah, wa alhamdulillah, wa la ilaha illAllah, wa Allahu akbar (Muslim).

The Prophet S.A.W. said that these words are more beloved to Allah than anything the sun will reach (Muslim) i.e. anything the world has to offer.

World leaders never for a summit except for something that is really important. So imagine, a summit between the two great leaders of the ummah, our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. and Prophet Ibraheem (as), in the highest of Jannah during Rasulullah S.A.W.’s isra’ and mi’raj. Prophet Ibraheem (as) said, ‘O Muhammad, tell your ummah tah Jannah, a huge portion of it is empty, so you plant therein with seedlings and trees and foliage, and the deeds that you plant in paradise with are subhanallah, walhamdulillah, wa la ilaha illAllah, wa Allahu akbar. And the summit ended (Ibraheem met with the Prophet just to tell him that).

The echo of your voice saying these four tasbeeh will be heard around the throne of Allah. So heavy in your scale on the Day of Judgement are five things: the four tasbeeh, and number five, a child dies on you while you are still alive and you are patient.


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