WEEKLY SERMON: Du’a, Supplication, Invocation, Prayer: The Weapon Of The Believer, By Imam Murtadha Gusau


I Begin With The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful, The One Who Bestows Mercy

Alhumdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His Help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from our soul’s evils and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no god except Allah – alone without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.

O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon Ibrahim and upon the followers of Ibrahim. Verily you are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Du’a – an Arabic word written here in English letters. Three small letters that make up a word and a subject that is large and breathtaking. This word ‘Du’a’ could be roughly translated to mean supplication or invocation. Although neither word adequately define Du’a. Supplication, which means communicating with a deity, comes closer than invocation which is known to sometimes imply summoning spirits or devils.

In Islamic terminology Du’a is the act of supplication. It is calling out to Allah; it is a conversation with Allah, our Creator, our Lord, the All Knowing, and the All Powerful. In fact the word is derived from the Arabic root meaning to call out or to summon. Du’a is uplifting, empowering, liberating and transforming and it is one of the most powerful and effective act of worship a human being can engage in. Du’a has been called the weapon of the believer. It affirms a person’s belief in One Allah and it shuns all forms of idolatry or polytheism. Du’a is essentially submission to Allah and a manifestation of a person’s need for Allah.

Prophet Muhammad, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“A servant becomes nearest to his Lord when he is in prostration (Sujud). So increase supplications in prostrations.’’

He also said:

“The supplication of every one of you will be granted if he does not get impatient and say, ‘I supplicated my Lord but my prayer has not been granted.’’’

At this point in understanding exactly what Du’a is, it would be easy for someone from a Christian background to think that Du’a is prayer. Du’a certainly holds certain similarities to the prayer of Christians, however it should not be confused with what Muslims call prayer. Prayer or in Arabic-Salah, is one of the pillars of Islam, and in performing the five daily prayers a Muslim actually engages in a physical form of Du’a asking Allah to grant them Heaven through their actions. Throughout the prayer one also supplicates to Allah directly.

For Muslims prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day. Allah says in Quran:

“Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.” [Quran, 4:103]

Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Prayer is an act of worship, in which a Muslim reaffirms his belief in One Allah and demonstrates his gratefulness. It is a direct connection between Allah and the believer and it is an obligation.

Du’a on the other hand is a Muslims way of feeling that connection to Allah at anytime, in any place. Muslims call on Allah frequently throughout the day and night. They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help, mercy, and forgiveness. Du’a incorporates praise, thanksgiving, hope, and calling on Allah to assist the one in need and grant his or her requests.

Du’a can be made for the individual, their family, friends, strangers, those in dire circumstances, for the believers, and even for the whole of humanity. When making the Du’a it is acceptable to ask for good in this worldly life and in the hereafter. A person making Du’a should not hold back, but ask Allah to grant both the largest and smallest requests.

Prophet Muhammad, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, encouraged the believers to make Du’a. He said:

“The Du’a of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial Du’a for his brother the appointed angel says, Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same.’”

Although making Du’a is not an obligation, there are many benefits to making Du’a to Allah frequently and with full submission. Feeling the closeness to Allah that comes with sincere Du’a, it increases faith, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation. Throughout the Quran, Allah encourages the believer to call on Him, He asks us to lay our complaints, dreams, hopes, fears and uncertainties before Him and to be sure that He hears every word.

“You Alone do we worship and You Alone do we ask for help.” [Quran, 1:5]

“And your Lord says, Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer). But those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely find themselves in Hell, in humiliation.” [Quran, 40:60]

“Say, O My slaves who have transgressed against their souls; despair not of the Mercy of Allah: For Allah forgives all sins; for He is oft Forgiving, most Merciful.” [Quran, 39:53]

“Say, Call upon Allah, or call upon ArRahman (The Most Beneficient): By whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well): For to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.” [Quran, 17:110]

“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the supplications of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” [Quran, 2:186]

Prophet Muhammad, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, called Du’a the essence of worship. He also suggested that the believer be humble, yet firm when making Du’a and said:

“When one of you supplicates, he should not say, ‘O Allah, forgive me if You will,’ but be firm in asking and make the desire great, for what Allah gives is nothing great for Him.”

When we make Du’a, when we call upon Allah in our hour of need, or express our gratefulness, or for any other reason including simply to feel the comfort of being close to Allah, we must remember to examine our sincerity and to check our intention. Du’a must be addressed to Allah Alone, who has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries. Our intention when making the Du’a must be to please Allah, obey Him and trust Him completely.

When a person makes Du’a Allah may give him what he asked for or He may divert a harm that is greater than the thing he asked for, or He may store up what he has asked for, for the Hereafter. Allah has commanded us to call upon Him and He has promised to respond to our call.

Respected Servants of Allah! Du’a is essentially submission to Allah and a sign of our need for Allah. Du’a has been called the weapon of the believer because it increases faith, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation. And perhaps most importantly Allah loves to be asked and He encourages us to call on Him for all our needs, wants, and desires.

The renowned Islamic scholar Imam Ibn al-Qayyim described Du’a in the following way. He said:

“The Du’a and prayers for seeking refuge with Allah are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is strong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can lay waste to the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, then the effect will be lacking accordingly.”

It is incumbent upon us then, when we make our Du’a that we do so in the best possible way. As a way of metaphorically sharpening our sword we should endeavour to call on Allah in the best way and with the best manners. There is etiquette to making Du’a. Following that etiquette is an indication that a person is sincere and is endeavouring to maximise his or her chances of having the Du’a accepted by Allah, who says that He will:

“I answer the prayer (Du’a) of the supplicant when he beseeches unto Me.” [Quran, 2:186]

A firm and unwavering belief in the Oneness of Allah is an essential ingredient for Du’a. True sincerity and a willingness to accept that Allah Alone is able to change the course of events or grant requests is also necessary. The supplicant should eagerly and urgently call on Allah, however he should remain humble and quiet without getting either exasperated or bored. Prophet Muhammad, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, liked to say his Du’a three times and he also asked for forgiveness three times.

Praising Allah in the way He deserves to be praised is the starting point for a person making Du’a. Whilst Prophet Muhammad was sitting, a man came in and prayed and said:

“O Allah, forgive me and have mercy on me.” Prophet Muhammad heard him and said: “You have been too hasty, O worshipper. When you have prayed and are sitting, praise Allah as He deserves to be praised, and send blessings upon me, then call upon Him.”

Prophet Muhammad also recommended raising one’s hands when making Du’a. He said:

“Your Lord, May He be blessed and exalted, is Kind and Most Generous, and He is too kind to let His slave, if he raises his hands to Him, to send them back empty.”

Praising Allah the way he deserves to be praised essentially means recognising His Oneness. He is the First, the Last, the Beginning and the End. He Alone has the Power and the Strength. Recognise this and send blessings on the Prophet Muhammad, before beseeching Allah.

When the supplicant reaches out to Allah he should do so with humility. Allah tells us in Quran that humility is a desirable quality and that a believer should call on his Lord with a mixture of hope and fear. Hope that Allah will hear his Du’a and keep him safe from life’s trials and tribulations, and fear that his actions will displease his Lord.

“Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret.” [Quran, 7:55]

“Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us.” [Quran, 21:60]

“And remember your Lord within yourself, humbly and with fear and without loudness in words in the mornings and in the afternoons.” [Quran, 7:20]

Dear Brothers and Sisters! The best times for making Du’a include just before Fajr (dawn prayer), in the last third of the night, during the last hour of Friday (i.e. the last hour before Maghrib prayer), when rain is falling, and between the call to prayer and Iqamah (the call raised immediately before prayer begins). Other excellent times to make Du’a are when the believer is in prostration (Sujud).

The believer should endeavour to use the clearest and most concise words when offering his supplications. The best Du’as are those used by the Prophets; however it is permissible to say other words according to the specific needs of the supplicant. There are many wonderful collections of authentic Du’as and believers should take extra care to authenticate the Du’as they use to supplicate to Allah.

When making Du’a it is important to either say authentic Du’as found in the Quran or Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, or the words that spontaneously come to mind when one is seeking the protection or forgiveness of Allah. It is not permissible to set your own specific time, place or number of repetitions. To do so would be an act of innovation (Bid’ah) in the religion of Islam and that is a very serious matter.

For instance when one turns to Allah in his darkest hour or in a moment of joy, he or she speaks from his heart with sincerity and love. A person must never be afraid to converse with Allah, to pour out his heart, his longing, his love, fears and desires. However, if one begins to make strange rituals, such as making a Du’a 30 times on Wednesday after Asr prayer, this is how trouble begins. As a general rule Du’a must either be spontaneous or from the authentically narrated. This is not complicated, Islam without manmade rituals and superstitions is pure devotion to Allah, and it is easy and comforting.

To close this week’s Sermon let me mention situations in which Du’a is more likely to be accepted. These situations include, when one is mistreated or oppressed, when one is travelling, when one is fasting, when one is in desperate need, and when a Muslim makes Du’a for his absent brother.

As believers we know that Allah is above the heavens, above His creation yet He is unrestrained by any of physical dimensions. Allah is close, very close, to those who believe in Him and He answers their every call. Allah knows all of our secrets, dreams, and wishes, nothing is hidden from Him. Allah is with His creation by His knowledge and power. Why then do some Dua’s (supplications) remain unanswered?

A mighty question indeed and even the first Muslims were concerned with the answer. Abu Hurairah, one of the Prophets closest Companions said that he heard the Prophet, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, say:

“A person’s Du’as will be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.”

From this we learn that if the Du’a is inappropriate or one is asking for something sinful Allah will not respond.

If the person making Du’a communicates with Allah in an arrogant manner, perhaps complaining or raising his voice in anger or petulance Allah may not respond. Another reason for Allah not responding to Du’a is when the supplicant begs Allah for help or comfort yet he has surrounded himself with unlawful wealth, food, or clothing. One cannot continuously engage in sinful behaviour and activities without even a second of remorse yet at the same time expect Allah to answer his Du’as and requests.

Prophet Muhammad told his Companions that:

“Allah is far removed from every imperfection and only accepts that which is lawful. Allah commanded the pious to follow the same commandments as He gave to the Messengers. “O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat [all kinds (lawful foods which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits)] and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Quran, 23:51]

“O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with.” [Quran, 2:172]

Thereafter Prophet Muhammad mentioned a man who had travelled on a long journey, he was dishevelled and covered in dust and stretched his hands towards heaven saying:

“O Lord, O Lord”, but his food was unlawful and his drink was unlawful so how was his Du’a to be accepted?”

The man described here had some of the characteristics that make Du’a more likely to be accepted. It can be deduced that on account of this man not living his life within the lawful limits his Du’a was not accepted.

Another important point to remember is not to be hasty. A supplicant must never give up, he must never say:

“I pray and pray, I make Du’a after Du’a but Allah does not hear me, He does not respond!”

Just when a person feels like giving up he must make more Du’a, ask Allah again, and again for more and more. There is no power or strength except with Allah alone. There is no solution or outcome except from Allah. When supplicating to Allah a person must be both resolute and sincere.

The Du’a of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says, ‘I made Du’a but it was not answered.

Let not any one of you say, ‘O Allah, forgive 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.

It is also important to understand that a response to a Du’a may not be exactly what you expect. Allah may respond and fulfill the desire of a person immediately. Sometimes Du’as are answered very quickly. However sometimes Allah responds in a different way, He might keep some evil away from the supplicant, or He will reward him with something good but not exactly what the supplicant asked for. It is important to remember that Allah knows what the future holds and we do not.

“… It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Quran, 2:216]

Sometimes Allah will save his response to a Du’a until the Day of Resurrection when a person will be most in need of it.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Du’a has unlimited power, it can change many things and it is an important act of worship that we must never lose faith in. Making Du’a demonstrates our great need for Allah and it recognises that He is able to do all things. He gives and He withholds but when we trust Allah completely we know that His decree is just and wise.

Respected Servants of Allah! Make Du’a and be patient, for Allah will answer, in the best possible way, at the best possible time. Never give up hope, never stop asking, and ask for more and more and more. Ask for good in this world and in the hereafter. Wallahi, Du’a is the weapon of the believer.

“So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness).” [Quran, 21:88]

“And He answers (the supplication of) those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and gives them increase of His Bounty. And as for the disbelievers, theirs will be a severe torment.” [Quran, 42:26]

My Respected People! In the above, we have learned many righteous and inspiring things. We know that Du’a is the weapon of the believer, therefore, there is no need to resort to despair, or anger, because sharing our grief with Allah is a way of relieving and overcoming burdens. We have learned that Du’a is the essence of worship and that there is an etiquette when supplicating Allah for anything, both in times of need and when we praise and thank Him. I have discussed the way some Du’a seemingly go unanswered, and finally, in my final part, I will look at the way the Prophets made Du’a.

Respected Brothers and Sisters! As we know, the Prophets of Allah throughout time always had special and close relationships with Allah. They turned to Him in times of distress and need, and they never forgot to praise and thank Him for the countless blessings in their lives. The Prophets were aware of the importance of patience and gratitude and above all their relationships with Allah were bonds formed due to their complete and utter submission to His will. However, even with such trust and love they still at times became scared or distressed, and felt alone and overwhelmed.

Consequently, the Prophets turned to Allah and called on Him to make them patient and steadfast, they asked for help in this life and bliss in the next. They called on Allah to make their families and companions righteous and patient, and to make themselves and all around them, grateful and serene. Although Allah loves us to turn to Him and speak the words that flow from our hearts, the words of the Prophets are more complete and submissive to Allah’s will, then we could hope to be. Supplicating Allah with the Du’as found in the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, May the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, is a righteous and comforting practice.

When Prophet Adam and his wife Hawwa (Eve) were expelled from heaven (Jannah) Adam turned to Allah in repentance. He said:

“Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” [Quran, 7:23]

Humankind continues to make mistakes and commit sins but we only harm ourselves. Our sins and mistakes do not harm Allah. However if Allah does not forgive us and have mercy on us, we will surely be among the losers.

When Prophet Yunus (Jonah) awoke in the belly of the whale he thought he was dead and was lying in the darkness of his grave. He felt around him and realised that this was not a grave but the belly of the giant whale. He was afraid and raised his voice calling out to Allah:

“None has the right to be worshipped but you oh Allah, far removed are you from every imperfection and truly I have been one of the wrongdoers!” [Quran, 21:87]

Throughout his life Prophet Ayyub (Job) was put through many trials and tests by Allah but he remained steadfast, patient and was constantly turning to Allah for forgiveness. Even when he felt at his most helpless he did not complain but turned to Allah and begged for forgiveness. He said:

“Verily distress has seized me and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.” [Quran, 21:83]

The Quran relates to us the stories of the Prophets in order that we might learn from them. They are worthy role models and their lives are not so different from our own. How many times has each one of us sunk to the ground or into a chair in despair? How many times have we felt so physically or mentally exhausted that it seems we will be unable to go on for even one more second?

Prophet Musa (Moses) was forced to flee Egypt and walk out into the desert to face an unknown future. After walking for more than a week across the burning sands, he came to an oasis. It was there that this man of honour helped the women at the well before flinging himself under a tree and calling out to Allah for help.

Prophet Musa (Moses) knew that Allah was the only One who could deliver him from his predicament, so he turned to Allah and before his supplication was finished help was on its way. Musa (Moses) was probably hoping for a slice of bread or a handful of dates but instead Allah gave him safety, provisions and a family.

“My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” [Quran, 28: 24]

There are lessons for humankind throughout the story of Prophet Musa (Moses). When Musa (Moses) was sent by Allah to confront tyrant and dictator Fir’awn (Pharaoh), he was afraid that he would not be able to live up to Allah’s demands, but instead of complaining or despairing Musa turned to Allah and made Du’a:

“O my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). And ease my task for me; and make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (remove the incorrectness of my speech) that they understand my speech.” [Quran, 20:25-28]

And After Musa (Moses) learned of the great evil his people had committed by building the golden calf, he was angry. However, even amidst such wrongdoing he called upon Allah to have mercy upon them all:

“You are our Protector, so forgive us and have Mercy on us, for You are the best of those who forgive. And ordain for us good in this world, and in the Hereafter.” [Quran, 7:155-156]

King (and Prophet) Sulaiman (Solomon) was acutely aware of the power of Allah. He always praised Allah for any condition that he was put in. He said:

“All praise and thanks is due to Allah.” [Quran, 27: 15]

Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) also understood that no power or strength would be his, unless he requested it from Allah. He made Du’a and asked for a kingdom that would never be surpassed. Allah granted his request and Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) reigned over an empire the like of which we cannot imagine.

“He said, “My Lord! Forgive me, and bestow upon me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me. Verily, You are the Bestower.” [Quran, 38:35]

These Du’as are a small example of how the Prophets of Allah made Du’a. Their stories and their Du’as are found throughout the Quran. When we read the stories of Prophets Sulaiman (Solomon), Yusuf (Joseph), Yakub (Jacob) or Ibrahim (Abraham) we find that they, and all of the Prophets completely submitted to Allah that’s why they succeeded. They raised their hands in supplication and requested help from Allah Alone.

As believers we must never forget that Allah hears our Du’as and supplications, and answers. Sometimes the wisdom behind the answers is beyond our comprehension but Allah desires only good for us. Putting our trust in Allah and submitting to His will allows the believer to weather any storm, and to stand tall in the face of any adversity. We are never alone.

Glory be to your Lord, the Lord of Might above what they describe. And peace be upon those sent. And praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

How perfect You are O Allah, and I praise You. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except You. I seek Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Muharram 25, 1440 AH (October 5, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.


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