Lecture 9 in the Ramadaan series:
DUA IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN & AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Wednesday 15 May 2018 (9 Ramadaan 1440)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
In the past couple of discussions, we focused on the conditions and manners and etiquette of making dua. We focused on those conditions and manners which guarantee, or at least support the probability of acceptance of dua in the court of Almighty Allah (SWT).
In the previous lecture, we covered the important condition about persistence in dua, during ease and difficulties. Our focus on dua should be continuous. In the previous lecture, we also discussed 2 more conditions for acceptance of dua, namely, abstinence from sins and assembling for dua.
Assembling for dua was a condition we discussed in detail in the previous lecture. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says that in our families, we should get everybody together and then make dua. It then counts favourably for the acceptance of dua when everybody responds with Ameen.
We have duas which have been narrated or recorded from the Ahlul Bait (a.s), like Dua Kumayl, Dua Iftitah, Dua Joushan Kabeer, Dua Arafah, Munajat of Imam Ali (a.s) and the list is endless. The book Mafatihul Jinaan is of course full of duas which are recorded from the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Similarly, Saheefah Sajjadiyya, which is a compilation of the duas of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), the 4th Imam of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). Then, we also have Saheefa Alawiyya, which is a compilation of duas from Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali (a.s). So we have a rich heritage of duas which have been compiled from the Ahlul Bait (a.s). These are called recorded and narrated duas.
We all know how these duas are filled with great beauty, great virtue, great importance and great reward. Most importantly, these duas are an institution of education! They teach us Tauheed, manners, etiquette and expresses feelings and realities. Furthermore, these duas analyse different conditions of the soul and explains the influence and infiltration of Satan.
WE SHOULD EXPRESS OURSELVES FREELY TO ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT)
We also learn from these duas how we should express ourselves in our communication with Almighty Allah (SWT). This gives a glimpse of how rich these duas are in its contents and message.
However, it does not mean that we are bound to make dua through those particular words which are recorded in these compilations noted above. Not at all! Coming back to the original definition of dua which we discussed in lecture 2, we established that dua is the diversion of our undivided attention toward Almighty Allah (SWT), and the establishment of our channel of communication with Allah (SWT), expressing ourselves, mentioning our complaints, begging for His help, and whatever else.
In that sense, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us that we should be free when speaking to Almighty Allah (SWT). This is besides the duas which they taught us. Therefore, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explains that the best of duas is what comes naturally from our tongues. This means that we should say what we feel. There is no protocol holding us back in the court of Almighty Allah (SWT). We should express ourselves freely to Him, emptying our chests from our pains and stress.
This is crucial, because sometimes we cannot express what we feel, with our lower levels compared to the levels of Ahlul Bait (a.s). There are lots of duas in the Holy Quran, and we will delve deeper into its rich contents in the upcoming discussions. These duas in the Holy Quran teach us what the Holy Prophets (a.s) have asked from Almighty Allah (SWT), in terms of duas of this Dunya and Akhirah.
DUAS OF PROPHETS (A.S) AND IMAMS OF AHLUL BAIT (A.S) ARE ON A DIFFERENT LEAGUE
At the same time, what the Holy Quran and Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us is that we should feel free to express to Almighty Allah (SWT) whatever is on our minds. Perhaps we are not on the levels of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s), who says to Almighty Allah (SWT) that he is settling in a totally dry, barren land, where nothing grows, as referenced in the Holy Quran in verse 37 from Surah Ibrahim (chapter 14):
رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ
“O our Lord! Surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House.”
We are clearly not on the level of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s), or on the level of Nabi Yusuf (a.s) with his tests, or Nabi Dawood (a.s) or other Prophets (a.s). Nor are we on the level of Imam Ali (a.s) who is clearly on a totally different level when he utters the following most profound statement in Dua Kumayl:
فَهَبْنِي يَا إِلَهِي وَسَيِّدِي وَمَوْلاي وَرَبِّي صَبَرْتُ عَلَى عَذَابِكَ،
“Then suppose, My God, my Master, my Protector and my Lord that I am able to endure Your chastisement,
فَكَيْفَ أَصْبِرُ عَلَى فِرَاقِكَ
How can I endure separation from You?”
Where are we and where is Imam Ali (a.s) when it comes to being able to endure the separation from Almighty Allah (SWT)? These examples are all on a different league altogether. Clearly, we cannot fly on this level. Yes we should try, but the point I want to make is that the Ahlul Bait (a.s) have taught us that whatever level we are at, we should ask from Almighty Allah (SWT), no matter how trivial it may be.
The point that we should always remember is that we must cultivate the habit of going to knock on the door of Almighty Allah (SWT). Diverting our attention to Almighty Allah (SWT), disposing our matters to Him, and surrendering before Him must be engrained in our nature. This is the crucial aspect of dua.
We should say whatever we want to Almighty Allah (SWT). Most important is that we establish this communication with Him, as this relationship will be very special between us and our Lord (SWT), as there is no third party here.
In Islam, there is no concept of redemption the way that Christians believe. We do not believe in the system of confession before a priest for all our sins. It is purely between us and Almighty Allah (SWT). That’s it! This is most important ie. dua in our own words.
MAKE DUA THROUGH THE ASMA UL HUSNA
The next very important point is making dua by calling the beautiful names of Almighty Allah (SWT). This is established in the Holy Quran, in verse 110 of Surah Israa (chapter 17):
قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ
“Say: Call upon Allah or call upon, the Beneficent Allah; whichever you call upon, He has the best names.”
Now, there are plenty of Hadith narrated in this regard, which says that we should use these Asma ul Husna (the beautiful names of Almighty Allah (SWT)) when we make dua to Him. The philosophy of calling Almighty Allah (SWT) through different names in dua is because we believe that the Asma ul Husna are the attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT).
What we have established in theological discussions is that the attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT) is the expression of one of the qualities of Almighty Allah (SWT). So, they are all different gates of entry to the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT). This is the theological explanation, which is a very deep discussion.
Therefore, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us that we should try to call Almighty Allah (SWT) through different names, because every name of Almighty Allah (SWT) is a gate to Allah’s (SWT) infinite mercy and compassion.
Amongst the names, we find that the most important name is “Ya Allah”. This is a common practice after Dua Kumayl for example, where we make dua and then raise our hands 10 times calling out “Ya Allah”.
There are numerous Hadith narrated from the Ahlul Bait (a.s), which says that whoever calls out “Ya Allah” 10 times will receive a reply asking what is our need. An example is a Hadith from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) where he says that whoever calls out 10 times “Ya Allah”, it is said that he receives a reply asking what is his need. This is why we repeat “Ya Allah” when making dua.
AHLUL BAIT (A.S) PLACE GREAT DEPENDENCE ON THE ASMA UL HUSNA IN DUA
Certain names are indeed very influential in seeking the favourable acceptance of one’s dua. An example is “Ya arhamar raghimeen” which means the most compassionate of all those who show compassion.
Our 4th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), said that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) heard someone calling out “Ya arhamar raghimeen” as he was passing by. Rasulullah (SAWA) grabbed this person’s shoulder and told him that “arhamar raghimeen” is in front of him and he should ask whatever he wants!
Now, to come to the point, not only the teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), but the practical duas of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are on this trend, where they place great dependence on the names of Almighty Allah (SWT). Dua Joushan Kabeer serves as a prime example. Similarly, Dua Sahar.
We very seldom get a chance to read Dua Mashlool, which is highly recommended for those who are sick. This dua is filled with the beautiful names of Almighty Allah (SWT). A study of the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s) will reveal that so many duas have great emphasis on the names of Almighty Allah (SWT), as they are the gates of Mercy.
Therefore, great scholars, philosophers and Ulama have written a detailed commentary on these duas with the names of Almighty Allah (SWT), because of that theological connection discussed earlier.
One of my great grandparents from my mother’s side wrote a detailed commentary of Dua Mashlool, which is basically a commentary (Tafsir) of Asma ullah. Similarly, there are other scholars who have written about this dua.
Dua Simaat is another beautiful which we read in the late afternoon of Jumuah, as that is when it is highly recommended. This dua is also asking from Almighty Allah (SWT) through His beautiful names. Here is the introductory portion of this mindblowing dua:
اَللّـهُمَّ إِنّي أَسْأَلُكَ بِاسْمِكَ الْعَظيمِ الأَعْظَمِ
“O’ Allah! I beseech You through Your Name, the great, the most great,
الأَعَزّ ِ الأَجَلّ ِ الأَكْرَمِ
the most majestic, the most magnificent and the most noble.
الَّذي إِذا دُعيتَ بِهِ عَلىٰ مَغالِقِ أَبْوابِ السَّماءِ لِلْفَتْحِ بِالرَّحْمَةِ انْفَتَحَتْ
If You are requested therewith to open the closed doors of the sky these will open with Your mercy.
وَإِذا دُعيتَ بِهِ عَلىٰ مَضائِقِ أَبْوابِ الأَرْضِ لِلْفَرَجِ انْفَرَجَتْ،
If You are requested thereby to remove the narrowness of the doors of the earth, they will be opened wide.
وَإِذا دُعيتَ بِهِ عَلَىٰ العُسْرِ لِلْيُسْرِ تَيَسَّرَتْ،
If You are requested thereby to make easy the difficulty, it will be made easy.
وَإِذا دُعيتَ بِهِ عَلَىٰ الأَمْواتِ لِلنُّشُورِ انْتَشَرَتْ،
If You are requested thereby to restore the dead to life, they will rise from their graves.
وَإِذا دُعيتَ بِهِ عَلىٰ كَشْفِ الْبَأساءِ وَالضَّرّاءِ انْكَشَفَتْ،
If You are requested thereby to remove misery and adversity, it will be removed.”
This dua shows us the power and importance of the names of Almighty Allah (SWT)! Therefore, we are recommended that it is part of the etiquette of dua.