1) General merits and benefits of Du’aa’ (Supplication).
2) Some of the main reasons behind one’s Du’aa’ not being answered.
All praises and thanks be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds who ordered us to supplicate Him and Who promised to answer. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah Alone, Who has no partners, Who promised the criminals, polytheists, and disbelievers punishment, and promised the pious and righteous rewards; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger, may Allaah send His blessings, forgiveness, mercy and greetings upon him, his household and his Companions.
O, people: fear Allaah, exalted be He, and know that Du’aa’ is the most superior form of worship. On the authority of An-Nu’maan ibn Al-Basheer, may Allaah be pleased with them both, who narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: “Du’aa’ is worship", then he recited the saying of Allaah, the Almighty which means: “And your Lord says: Call on Me; I will answer your (prayers); verily those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely enter hell abased”. (Ghaafir: 60) (Abu Daawood & Tirmithi).
Allaah the Almighty ordered us in so many Qur'aanic verses to make Du’aa’. He promised to respond and praised His prophets and messengers when He saidwhich means: “They were ever quick in doing in good works, they used to call on Us in yearning and awe, and humble themselves before Us” (Al-Anbiyaa': 90).
Also Allaah has told His Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam that He is nearby and answers the prayers of any supplicant who calls to Him. He said which means: “When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me”. (Al-Baqarah: 186).
Allaah has ordered us to supplicate to Him, and to humble ourselves before Him, especially in the times of calamity and grief, since He said that no one can listen to the distressed nor relieve the suffering except Him. He said which means: “Or, who listens to the distressed (soul) when he calls on Him, and who relieves his suffering?”. (An -Naml: 62)
He also reproached the people who do not make Du’aa’ in times of distress or ease, saying: “Whenever We sent a prophet to a town; We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might call in humility”. (Al-A’raaf: 94).
And He said which means: “Before thee We sent (messengers) to many nations and We afflicted the nations with suffering and adversity that they call (Allaah) in humility – when the suffering reached them from Us, why then did they not call (Allaah) in humility? On the contrary, their hearts became hardened and Satan made their (sinful) acts alluring to them.” (Al-An’aam: 42-43).
This is a mercy and bounty from Allaah. In spite of Allaah’s being in no need of His creatures; He commanded them to supplicate Him because they are the ones who are in need of Him, saying which means: “O, ye men! It is ye that have need of Allaah, but Allaah is the one free of all wants, worthy of all praise” (Faatir: 15). In addition, He said which means: “But Allaah is free of all wants, and it is ye that are needy”. (Muhammad:38).
Allaah said in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided. So seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. O My servants, all of you, are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O, My servants, you commit sin by night and by day and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness from Me and I shall forgive you.” (Muslim).
O servants of Allaah, supplicate to Him and know that there are specific conditions which must be fulfilled in order to have one’s supplications accepted. Allaah has promised to answer supplications, and Allaah never breaks His promise.
But verily the reasons for the rejection of Du’aa’ pertains only to the servant himself, and some of the reasons are as follows:
1. The Du’aa’ may not be answered if the servant is disobeying or ignoring Allaah’s commands and obligations upon him, committing sins and doing what has been forbidden. Allaah said which means: “(It was said to him) Ah now! But a little while before, wast thou in rebellion! And thou didst mischief (and violence)” (Yoonus: 91).
2. Another cause among the main reasons for unaccepted Du’aa’ is the use of unlawful food, drink and clothing. It was reported that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam mentioned (the case of) a man who, traveled around, disheveled and dusty and who spread out his hands to the heavens saying "O Lord! O Lord!", while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully. So how can he be answered?” (Muslim).
In the above mentioned Hadeeth, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam indicates that the enjoyment of unlawful food, drink or clothing is the greatest reason preventing the acceptance of Du’aa’.
It was mentioned in a Hadeeth: “Make your food good (lawful), then your Du’aa’ will be answered.”
‘Abdullaah son of Imaam Ahmed, may Allaah be merciful with them both, has mentioned in the book of Az-Zuhd (Asceticism): “Once there was a time when an evil befell Bani Israa'eel (the children of Israel), thereupon they went out to some place; then Allaah, glory be to Him, revealed to their prophet to tell them, “You went out to those places with dirty bodies and raise to Me impure bloody hands in supplication, (the same hands used) to fill your homes with that which is forbidden. Now the more wrathful I am upon you the further from Me you will be.”
O people, be aware of yourselves and reconsider the sources your livelihood, food and drink so Allaah may answer your Du’aa’ and invocations.
3. Also, among the reasons of the non-acceptance of Du’aa’ is insincerity in supplication: Allaah said which means: “Call ye then, upon Allaah with sincere devotion to Him” (Ghaafir: 14). And He said which means: “So invoke not anyone along with Allaah” (Al-Jinn: 18).
Those who associate partners with Him, such as idols, tombs, the dead people in tombs, saints, etc., like the grave-worshippers do nowadays by seeking refuge with the dead - Allaah does not answer their supplications because they have gone far away from Him and broken off their relationship with Him. When they supplicate to Allaah in times of adversity, they will never be answered.
It was reported in a Hadeeth that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: “Get to know Allaah (adhere to his commands) in prosperity and He will know you (help you) in adversity”. This means that if the servant fears Allaah, does not overstep His boundaries, and performs his duties in times of prosperity, this all leads him to know Allaah and establish a special relationship with his Lord. Because of this, Allaah knows him in adversity, considers his obedience in times of prosperity, and then relieves him from calamity.
In a Hadeeth Qudsi Allaah said which means: “...My servant continues to come nearer to Me through voluntary deeds until I love him, and when I love him, I become his ears with which he hears; I become his sight with which he sees; I become his hands with which he strikes; I become his legs with which he strides. If he asks Me, I shall surely grant his request. If he seeks My refuge, I shall protect him…. " (Bukhaari).
Whoever fears Allaah and obeys Him in prosperity, Allaah will relieve his affliction and fade away his sorrow during calamity. As Allaah said concerning His Prophet Yoonus, peace be upon him, when the whale swallowed him: “Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allaah, He would have indeed remained inside it’s belly (the whale) till the day of Resurrection” (As-Saaffaat: 143-144).
This means that his good deeds in times of prosperity saved him. Also, it is said: if he hadn't been one to perform prayers, he would have indeed remained inside the belly of the whale until the Day of Resurrection. In other words, the belly of that whale would have been a grave for him until the Last Day. Some of the pious predecessors (the salaf as-saalih) said: Make remembrance of Allaah and glorify Him in prosperity then He will know you in adversity. Yoonus, peace be upon him, used to glorify Allaah and make remembrance of Him; when he then fell into the whale’s belly, Allaah said which means: “Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allaah, he would have certainly remained inside the fish till the Day of Resurrection”. (As-Saaffaat: 144)
On the contrary, Pharaoh was a disbeliever and a tyrant. Allaah said which means: “When overwhelmed with flood, he (Pharaoh) said: I believe” (Yoonus: 90). One of the pious Salaf (predecessors) said: this was because he was not sincere in his belief.
Similarly, there are those who supplicate Allaah seeking mediation or intercession through dead persons saying: "We ask you (Allaah) by so and so or by their glory." However, Allaah never answers their supplications because it is a form of innovation, which is invalid and prohibited, as Allaah does not allow us to seek intercessors to supplicate Him. On the contrary, He has commanded us to call Him directly with no other mediators. He says which means: “When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me” (Al-Baqarah: 186). In addition, He said which means: “And your Lord says: Call on Me, I will answer your (prayers)” (Ghaafir: 60).
Furthermore, you have to beware of those polytheistic and heretical supplications that are widespread in the current times.
4. To supplicate with a heedless heart is another reason for one's Du’aa’ not being accepted. It was reported in Al-Mustadruk of Al-Haakim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: “Supplicate Allaah and bear in mind that He will surely answer you, and be aware that Allaah never answers the supplication of someone who is heedless”.
5. Negligence in advocating good actions and forbidding evil acts is surely one of the causes of the unacceptance of Du’aa’. It is reported on the authority of Huthayfah Ibn Al-Yamaan, may Allaah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: “By Him in Whose hands my soul lies, you should enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, otherwise He (Allaah) will descend punishment upon you, and then you will ask Him but your supplications will never be answered.” (Tirmithi) He also said: “Du’aa' surely has benefit according to what has already taken place and what has not, so you (servants of Allaah) must continue supplicating Allaah” (Haakem).
O servants of Allaah, fear your Lord and beseech Him. It was reported on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, who narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: “Verily, Allaah loves those who are persistent in supplication”. Therefore, Du’aa’ is the most superior form of worship. It indicates humility and humbleness to Allaah and shows the need of the supplicant for Him. It shows the kindness of one’s heart and his real desire of Allaah’s bounty and fear from Him. On the other hand, relinquishment of Du’aa’ indicates arrogance and hardness of one’s heart. In addition, turning away from Allaah is a reason for entering the Hellfire.
Allaah says which means: “And your Lord says: Call on Me; I will answer your (prayers); verily those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surly enter hell abased” (Ghaafir: 60). On the contrary, making Du’aa’ is a reason for entering Paradise; Allaah said which means: “They will advance to each other, engaging in mutual enquiry. They will say; “Aforetime, we were not without fear for the sake of our people.” But Allaah has been good to us, and has delivered us from the chastisement of the scorching wind. Truly we did call unto Him from of old. Truly it is He, the Beneficent, the Merciful!” (At-Toor: 25-28).
O Muslims! Increase supplication to Allaah, being sincere in devotion to Him, and know that Du’aa’ is greatest during the days of trials and difficulties -- the times during which Allah tests His servants in their religion, their beliefs, their scholars and those who call others to Islam.
“Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for Allaah loveth not those who trespass beyond bounds. Do not make 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 Allaah is (always) near to those who do good” (Al-'Araaf: 55-56).
May Allaah The Almighty grant us grace in the Noble Quran and benefit all of us from its wise verses and reminders.