Du’aa, Need and Gratitude

We are always in need of something or other – this is the nature of human beings, of all of creation in fact. There is only One who is self-sufficient, and that is Allah, Al-Ghani.

Allah has placed within us an unceasing dependency, in order to maintain a constant connection between us and our Lord.

Allah loves to hear from His servants, and He loves to answer them, and so Allah makes us needy so that we can turn to Him regularly.

When we are at school or university, the need for good grades and success in our exams often dominates our du’ a. After university it may be jobs, family, marriage, finances and health that are at the forefront of people’s du’ a. Allah answers and provides, again and again. But our needs never seem to end – we will always find something new to ask for.

And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as we keep asking from Allah and don’t depend on others. Indeed, the Prophet (saw) taught us, ‘du’a is worship’ [Tirmidhi] and he encouraged us to ask Allah for anything, even a shoe-lace or salt, for nothing is unimportant or too small for du’a. In fact it is Allah who inspires us to ask because He wants good for us.

But in the midst of making du’a, it’s also important to stop and reflect on how much Allah has already given us. To reflect on just how merciful and generous Allah has been to us throughout our lives. Look back on your life and think about all the things you have, the many things you have accomplished… do you remember the time when you used to ask for those same things in your d’ua, with so much earnestness and need?

And then Allah gave them to you. Getting through school or your degree seemed like an impossible task, and yet you graduated alhamdulillah! Maybe you were sick one time and just wanted to get better, and Allah restored your health. Maybe you always wanted to visit a particular place, and Allah enabled you to travel there. Maybe there was a time when you didn’t have good company, and then Allah sent righteous friends to support you. Maybe you were in debt, and Allah gave you the means to pay it off. Maybe you wanted to be a stronger Muslim, and Allah gave you challenges to overcome that brought you nearer to Him. The list goes on.

Often people will focus on the du’as they think haven’t been answered yet, without considering all those du’as that have already been granted. Have we given enough thanks for them? Indeed, can we ever give enough thanks?

Prophet Zakariyya (as) set a beautiful example when he asked Allah for a righteous child. He was elderly, and he and his wife still didn’t have any children. He could have focused on that one fact – how many years, how many decades in fact, must he have prayed for a child, and yet Allah didn’t grant it for him yet… but instead, look at what he says in his du’a:

“When he cried out to his Lord in private. He said, ‘My Lord! My bones have grown feeble and my head is glistening with age; yet, never have my prayers to You, my Lord, been unfruitful.’” Qur’an 19:4

SubhanAllah! Instead of questioning why his du’a hadn’t been answered, he celebrated the generosity of Allah and considered himself already blessed with abundance. This is the epitome of gratitude and humility; it shows a deep, loving relationship between a grateful servant and a generous Lord, where the servant has the best opinion of Allah and focuses on the positives.

We should aspire to do the same with our du’a – start off acknowledging the things you already have and the things that already give you happiness, before asking for the things (you think) you lack; thank Allah for those blessings in your life and ask Allah to preserve them.  Doing so will mean your supplications come from a mentality of gratitude and contentment, rather than a mentality of scarcity or deprivation. And you will see how this changes your outlook on life and even your relationship with Allah, in a beautiful way insha’Allah.

May we follow the example of Prophet Zakariyya (as), and may Allah make us among those who are grateful. Ameen.


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Source of inspiration for this article: The Sunday Circle Blog

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10 Responses

  1. Faizan A. Khan says:

    Right, so let’s be a little practical here: The early Prophets had huge life spans…. Noah (Prophet Nuh – PBUH) reportedly lived for 950 years. So at around 400, this would have been his middle age. I don’t know about Prophet Zakaria, but maybe a near similar situation. The point is, these worthy gentlemen could afford to wait for their prayers to come true. Secondly, the say justice delayed is justice denied. What’s the use if a prayer coming true, when you are not able to enjoy the same, if and when the same is (finally) answered? Apologies for the sceptical tone, but in my personal experience, prayers are ineffective and even perhaps a waste of time. Might as well do something practical to achieve what one wants. I have been hearing (loud and repeated) prayers for the past 40-odd years from sundry mosques for the liberation of Palestinian and Kashmir – that’s another fine example of prayers being answered.

    • FractalIntake says:

      Prayer is meaningless when the effort is not there. One has to ask themselves if the exhausted every possibility out there to achieve his/her goal.

      The sooner the Muslim world realises that the better. And we can come out of the dark ages

    • Hassan mohamud says:

      Like everything in order for a prayer to be answered you got to come up with the preconditions. One very important precondition is being sincere with Allah in all of your dealings in this world and having a certainty that your prayers will be answered. In all cases Allah does answer the prayers of these who sincerely ask, but it might not be what you asked for as that might not be good for you and instead Allah will given you a better replacement. That is why its super important to always ponder up on the givings of Allah and always be thankful. How many have missed a plane and were very upset just to find out the plane had an accident and there were no survivors. As a parent that loves their children, how many times they “disappoint” their children by refusing them something they really want and instead give them a better alternative. Eventually the right moment will come when everything just falls into place and you will be so grateful that it happened at that time in that situation and with that person. Islam is a submission to the will of the most merciful and the all knower.

      As for the situations and the misery of Muslims world wide, you need to go to hajji and see the state of the Muslims in their most sacred place. Also look how the Muslims are treating each other let alone none Muslims. When you look back in history when the prayers of the Muslims were answered in a miracle ways that they never expected it (battle of bad) and they were successful in all aspects of this life and glad tidings from Allah, how did they live?

      Brother Islam is perfect and complete, the problem is within “Muslims” and us as individuals, so lets not blame islam and its teachings. Lets start looking at our selves and conducts.

      • FractalIntake says:

        No one is criticising Islam. Humans are not perfect, we are inherently imperfect . Allah could have made everyone Muslims and perfect. But that would have made us Angels, not human. Difference is, Humans ask for forgiveness and help by choice. That makes us different from automatons who doesn’t know any better.

        My point is Prayer is empty when the effort is not there. I can pray to Allah to help me pass an exam. But If i don’t put in the hours to study then I won’t do well.

        And that is the problem with the Muslim world. Never short of prayer, but always short of on effort. You mentioned battle of badr. That was on a different time, with different types of enemies and different customs. And that was a 3:1 odd. There has been countless of battles that were won by even worse odds. To list some examples…

        Battle of Tannenberg-1914 (3;1)
        Battle of Watling Steeet-61ad (10:1)
        Battle of Tigranocerta (69BC) (around 10:1 again)

        How did they achieve such victories? Because they were well prepared and used their brains. Just like our Prophet (PBUH) did in Badr.

        So don’t think improbable victories is something only Muslims good at. If recent history tells us anything, it suggest Muslims are really good at improbable losses. Look at Israel for example. They humiliated Arab armies time after time again, even at times when the Arabs had the upper hand in weaponry and sheer number (1973). Ever heard of the Valley of Tears? 60-80 Israeli tanks liquidated 500+ Arab vehicles (including 260-300 tanks). And these sorts of engagement where Israelis come out victorious are by far the rule instead of exceptions. Where the arabs badly equipped? No. Infact they where better equipped in those days. Did they have bad leaders? No, Saad el-Shazly (Egypt) and Ra’ad al Hamdani (Iraq) where tactical and strategic geniuses equal to any Israelis.

        What went wrong for them? Lot’s of things. Including nepotis, lack of training and preparation, political instability, poor command structures and central political dictate which affected ability of people like Shazly and Hamdani. Arab armies where/are notorious for unprofessionalism and lack of training. Infact the Soviet advisers who were sent to train the Egyptians, Iraqis and Syrians noted how stubborn and arrogant they were thinking they won’t have to do much to win. End result-humiliating catastrophe. They really let down their fellow Palestinians.

        I gave you one example of a conflict which has attracted the prayer of more Muslims than any other cause in the last 100 years or so. But what has it achieved? We got humiliated militarily. We got humiliated culturally and scientifically. Before you say ” but they had america bro”, America lost to a tiny little country of paddy rice farmers called Vietnam.

        Due to the position we Muslims find ourself today, we tend to look back at our glorious past with deep Nostalgia. Without really understanding what made the Islamic golden age golden, how it got there and how it failed. And it didn’t fail because of single event/reason. There wasn’t a single ruler who instigated it’s downfall. And it isn’t only because ” Muslims are not Muslims bro”. Because they have used that excuse to explain every failure/incompetency since the existence of Muslim civilisations. The cause of failure is something much more complex. And that’s what we lack in the Muslim mentality today. The tendency to over simplify the world around us into children cartoons. And we are not taught to think.

        Sorry if that upsets you, but it’s the reality. I just listed you a military example. I can equally list other fields (scientific, economic living conditions, education etc) where Muslims unsurprisingly find ourselves lagging behind just about everyone. Don’t you think that is a bigger indicator of the state of the Muslim world than Hajj etiquettes? I climb mountains, and I have seen amazing etiquette there too. I got stuck patch of ice once. Yet some stranger who was much further ahead risked his life, came down and gave me his rope. Don’t think kindness and humility are traits only Muslims good at.

        So yea. My point is prayer is fundamentally important part of Islam and the belief of the almighty. But it’s not the only part. Take a look at the Islamic Golden age. We were open. We encouraged thought and questions. We sought knowledge wherever it came from. We looked at the works of the Greeks and Ancient Indians, learnt from it, critiqued it and built on it. We flourished when we were open and became the intellectual centre of the world. You may say “this is only dunya bro, only afterlife matters”. You would be partially life. let me put it to you this way. If your living in poor conditions, contentiously wiped out by deceases, wiped out by other armies because they are technologically or otherwise superior, chances are humans won’t act in a Godly manner. The equation is simple, good life=good afterlife. And to have a good life, you need to make the best preparations for you, your family and your future for generations to come. And I’m afraid the Europeans where much better at that. They replaced us as the intellectual centre of the world from the 1400s. They did a lot of things wrong and awful. But they also did a lot of things right. Learn from it, take it in, critique it and develop something better. Being ignorant has its consequences which we are all to familiar with.

        Just as we look at the past to search for answers, Historians of the Islamic Golden age also looked at the past to explain the world around them.

        When Al-Masudi (a Golden Age historian among other things) was asked how the Romans and Greeks empires declined? He answered: ” Ancient Greeks and Romans allowed thinking to flourish. Then they adopted Christianity blindly. When they did the effaced the signs of learning, eliminated it’s traces and destroyed it’s path”

  2. Zeyab says:

    My dear brother As Salamu Alaikum,
    Ma Sha Allah you have a good point. Although I might have to with utmost respect disagree with your opinion about prayers being ” unuseful and a waste of time”. We all believe that Allah the all mighty and wise is our creation Alhamdulilah, and that being said only he truly know what is best for us and when. So if I make a Duaa and it’s being delayed or not being answered it simply means that Allah is keeping something harmful away from me or Allah will grant it to me when the time is most appropriate, or Allah will keep that Duaa and grant me something in the Aakhirah with something equivalent or perhaps better so Duas are always a win win situation and what’s better than sharing your problems with your maker and connecting and Building a relationship with Allah at the end of the day that will ultimately increase our Eman in Sha Allah. And if we see this ummah in trouble and hard times right now it’s probably because of our own deeds and short comings or it’s just a test from Allah or Allah has A great reward for those who are patient and remembering Allah; easier said than done, may Allah Grant us the steadfastness to practice Patience and grant us piety Ameen. In conclusion brother just because we think that something is good for us, doesn’t mean it is. Only Allah the all merciful know what’s best for us and by his Mercy only does Allah put away all the harm from us. And Duaa is a form of submission to our creator showing him that we infact are helpless. I agree with the point you mentioned that we have to be practical, but that goes hand in hand with duaa. I can’t sit in my room and ask Allah for rizq while I’m too lazy to find a job; I make Dua then I go look for what I Asked through the means Allah has provided us.
    I Hope that, this is helpful brother. Jazak Allah Khair,
    As Salamu Alaikum.

  3. Safir says:

    Mashallah.
    Sweet words dear brothers and sisters.
    May Allah protect us INSHALLAH.

  4. Safir says:

    Alhamdulillah.

  5. Ashiraf says:

    Masahallah

  6. Faizan A. Khan says:

    You have nailed it, FractalIntake – thank you.

  7. Iman says:

    Masha Allah

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