Lecture 10 in the Ramadaan series:
DUA IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN & AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Thursday 16 May 2019 (10 Ramadaan 1440)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
The focus of our discussion in the previous lecture was that it is highly recommended to use different names of Almighty Allah (SWT) in our dua, because these names are attributes of Allah (SWT) ie. Asma-ul-Husna.
This is consistent with the Quranic command to call Allah (SWT) through his beautiful names, because every name is a gate to his mercy and blessings. 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.”
We discussed examples from the duas of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) including duas from Lady Khadijah (s.a).
Before we delve deeper into today’s discussion, I would like to draw on the 4 basic elements in dua which we discussed in lecture 4. They are:
- Da’aie – the one who is making dua ie. the beggar;
- Madou’we – who we are making dua to ie. who we are begging from;
- Dua – supplication ie. the begging itself
- Madou’we lah – what we are begging for
In the last discussion, we spoke about praising Almighty Allah (SWT) through His beautiful names in dua. Today, we will discuss 2 very important components of dua, and that is the salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified progeny, the Ahlul Bait (a.s), together with making dua for others.
This lecture is therefore divided into 2, to understand the following:
- Why is salawaat so important?
- Why is dua for others so important?
WHY IS SALAWAAT SO IMPORTANT?
There is plenty of emphasis on including salawaat of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s) in our dua, but a few very important reasons are as follows:
- It is the channel of divine flow of blessings (Wasidatul Faiz);
- Dua with salawaat is the reason to connect with Ahlul Bait (a.s) in the network of Wilayah;
- Guaranteed acceptance of salawaat brings assurance of acceptance of other parts of dua
One day, Rasulullah (SAWA) was in the Masjid during the time of Asr, and he saw someone performing salaah and thereafter raised his hands in dua. Rasulullah (SAWA) observed his dua and suggested he makes a complete dua. So this person asked Rasulullah (SAWA) how. Rasulullah (SAWA) explained to him to first praise Almighty Allah (SWT) and then also salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s).
If you look at the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s), you will notice that most start with Allahuma…
Now, the few points noted above are the background as to why salawaat. The first point to understand is that salawaat is itself dua and it is the command of Almighty Allah (SWT). We make dua from Allah (SWT). We call Almighty Allah (SWT).
As mentioned, salawaat is in itself also a dua, where we say: “O Allah (SWT), we seek Your blessings on Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his progeny, the Ahlul Bait (a.s).” The unique fact about this dua is that it is common between us and Almighty Allah (SWT).
We read this in verse 56 of Surah Ahzaab (chapter 33 of the Holy Quran):
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
“Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.”
Almighty Allah (SWT) and the angels make salawaat on Rasulullah (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s). Of course, the meaning of salawaat from Almighty Allah (SWT) is not seeking, as Allah (SWT) does not seek.
He sends mercy and blessings on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s). However, in the case of Mala’ika (angels), it is seeking, requesting, asking for salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s).
So, salawaat itself is a unique dua, which is universal in that we are making it, and so are the angels, and Almighty Allah (SWT) is with us too. Therefore, it is very important for us to uphold.
SALAWAAT: CHANNEL OF DIVINE FLOW OF BLESSINGS
In the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), we believe that Muhammad (SAWA) and his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s), are Wasidatul Faiz. This means that they are the channels of divine flow of blessings from Almighty Allah (SWT).
Whatever comes to this world is through the channel of Muhammad (SAWA) and his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s). In academic circles, this is not necessarily a matter where there is consensus amongst religious scholars and there are differences of opinion even in Shia circles on this point, even though everyone agrees on the principle point.
Philosophers explain that the first product which Allah (SWT) created was the intellect, and then this flow of blessings from Allah (SWT) had come to us in stages. The channel through which the blessings flow to us is the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
They argue that even the material Risq which Allah (SWT) provides to His creation is through a channel. There is no direct delivery of a food parcel on our door from Almighty Allah (SWT). It comes through a certain channel until it reaches us.
They say that if that is the Sunnah, then every blessing, including the spiritual blessings, and basically the flow itself is through channels of divine flow of blessings. These channels are none other than Muhammad (SAWA) and his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
So, when we mention the names of Muhammad (SAWA) and his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) in dua, it means that we are recognising this fact, that the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) comes through this channel to us, and we are seeking the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) through this channel.
Indeed, we must never forget that they are not the source of mercy. Rather, they are the channel of mercy. The source of mercy is Almighty Allah (SWT) and they are dependent like we are. In fact, they are more dependent than we are, because they are much closer to Almighty Allah (SWT) than us. This makes their dependency greater than ours. Therefore, when we read salawaat, we recognise this very important fact.
DUA WITH SALAWAAT CONNECTS US IN THE NETWORK OF WILAYAH
Dua with salawaat is a reason to connect with the Ahlul Bait (a.s), in other words, in the network of Wilayah. We explained many times before that this whole theory and philosophy of Wilayah is like a rope which connects us all together and finally to Almighty Allah (SWT). Now, this rope which connects us to Almighty Allah (SWT) is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified Ahlul Bait (a.s).
So, we have to recognise that, if we want to connect to Almighty Allah (SWT) through this network of Wilayah.
Another very important and interesting fact is associated with the following Hadith I would like to read from Imam Ali (a.s) from Nahjul Balagha. A moment ago, we said that salawaat is a dua. We said that we ask “O Allah (SWT), shower Your blessings on Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his progeny, the Ahlul Bait (a.s).”
After this dua, we ask for His help with our challenges and needs. Now, in this regard, Imam Ali (a.s) is saying in Nahjul Balagha that if we have a need for help from Allah (SWT), then we should start by asking from Allah (SWT) for salawaat and then ask for the help from Allah (SWT). So, these are in essence 2 asks from Allah (SWT) ie. the first being salawaat and the second being your needs.
SALAWAAT GUARANTEES ACCEPTANCE OF OUR DUAS
Imam Ali (a.s) explains this by saying that Almighty Allah (SWT) is much more honourable and generous than to accept one request and reject another request! Naturally, salawaat is a dua which Almighty Allah (SWT) will never reject, so it is inconceivable that He will accept your salawaat and reject the other part of your dua, namely your needs!
Hence, since acceptance of salawaat is guaranteed, it provides assurance of the acceptance of our personal dua which follows!
There are plenty of examples for duas where salawaat on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has been the starting point or end point.
This Dua Iftitah which we read every night in Ramadaan starts with Hamd, and praise of Almighty Allah (SWT), and then reaches the point where salawaat is read on every single one of the 14 infallibles.
Similarly, when we read the duas of Sahifa Sajjadiyya, the exceptional compilation of duas from Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), we read that most of them start with salawaat. Similarly, Dua Kumayl starts with Hamd, and praise of Almighty Allah (SWT), and concludes with the salawaat. Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us that duas should be accompanied by salawaat, in order to boost the prospects of our duas being accepted.
WHY IS DUA FOR OTHERS SO IMPORTANT
This is a very, very interesting and important point which is highly emphasised by the Holy Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s). The Holy Quran teaches us and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) command us that we should always make dua for others too, when we make dua. The reason is because dua is the connection between abd (servant) and Rabb (Master). This has been the point we have repeated many times in this series.
At the same time, this dua connects you with other creations of the Rabb! The dua which I often read in the Qunut talks directly to this point. It is verse 41 of Surah Ibrahim (chapter 14 of the Holy Quran):
رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ
“O our Lord! Grant me protection and my parents and the believers on the day when the reckoning shall come to pass!”
In our discussions about Wilayah, we mentioned that Wilayah is like a triangle, with the Imam being at the top of the triangle and the 2 Mu’min on the bottom 2 corners. Now, these 2 Mu’min are connected to each other, and these 2 Mu’min are also connected to the Imam.
Now, as noted earlier, we connect to the network of Imamat when we make salawaat in our dua. We are similarly connected when we make dua for others in the community and Ummah, because Wilayah is not only towards Almighty Allah (SWT) and the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s), as Wilayah is to each other as well.
Wilayah is the concept which defines our relationship with each other, our leadership, and finally to Almighty Allah (SWT). We are committed to each other and our leadership. I always say the best word to use in defining Wilayah is commitment. We are tied in this rope of Wilayah to each other, and finally this rope connects to our Imam.
By making dua for other Mu’mineen, we are once again reminded and we are recognising and emphasising about that relationship of Wilayah between us and other believers (Mu’mineen).
THERE IS NO FAKE CONNECTION WITH OTHERS IN DUA
This is the connection of a Mu’min to the other Mu’min through dua, which is the most sincere type of connection possible between 2 people. You see, I can be nice with you by helping you, or you can be nice with me too, through helping me or being polite and respectful etc. So, this is some form of relationship which exists between 2 people.
But, what is the intention of this good relationship between 2 people? One possibility is that both of us are very sincere towards each other. We very sincerely want to be nice and kind, which is Wilayah. That is one possibility.
However, the other possible reason is that I just want to show off that I am nice with the people! I just want to impress that I am a good friend of yours, but in my own mind and heart, I have no regard for you.
Now, when you connect with someone through dua, there can be no possibility other than sincerity! We are there in our dua, and nobody is watching us, as we are communicating with our Lord (SWT). So, for example, there can be no showing off if I ask Allah (SWT) for the good health of a brother, because there is no possibility other than sincerity.
The relationship or Wilayah through dua for other believers is therefore the most sincere type of relationship. Hence, there is so much emphasis on this point about dua for others.
THE BEST SACRIFICE IS IN DUA
Agha Ayatollah Mujtaba Tehrani (r.a) was a great mystic and spiritual teacher of Akhlaq (moral character). He says that from the qualities of Mu’mineen are that they sacrifice themselves even if it hurts them. The excerpt from verse 9 of Surah Hashr refers (chapter 59 of the Holy Quran):
وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ
“And prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them.”
He says that the best sacrifice is the sacrifice in dua. He gives an example that if you love someone very much and that person is unfortunately very sick and on their deathbed. Now, you can go to his/her bedside and pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant this person long life and full recovery etc. Indeed, this is very good and sincere, no doubt.
However, an alternative would be to ask Almighty Allah (SWT) to please give my life to the sick person! This is a very different dua! This is sacrifice in dua! This is the best of dua!
Agha Ayatollah Mujtaba Tehrani (r.a) analyses this and says that in this type of dua, you fight with your self-interest and internal ego!
PROPER DUA COMBATS SELFISHNESS
Why do the Holy Quran and Ahlul Bait (a.s) emphasise that you must make dua for others? The reason is that they want to teach us about the importance of thinking about others first, before ourselves. We should not be selfish, even in dua! Therefore, dua itself is the process of fighting selfishness and being consumed with our own interest and nothing more than that.
Dua liberates one from that prison of being self-centred. There are many, many Hadith narrated from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bait (a.s) to support this. This approach to dua is so highly regarded and recommended because it is a method to fighting with our nafs (desires).
One thing Agha Ayatollah Mujtaba Tehrani (r.a) adds in his explanation is that we should not misunderstand this selfless approach to dua (eg. asking Allah (SWT) to take away from my life and give to the sick person).
While it is good from the perspective of fighting the internal nafs, such a person has a deficiency in understanding Tauheed, because he thinks that Allah (SWT) can only increase life of the sick one by reducing his life. Quite the contrary, as Allah (SWT) can increase the life of the sick one without taking anything away from my lifespan!
There is nothing more important in dua than making dua for others. This guarantees acceptance of dua.
APPROACH OF AHLUL BAIT (A.S) IN DUA IS OTHERS FIRST AND THEN SELF
Imam Hasan (a.s) says that he saw his mother, Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), standing in her prayer chamber after sunset, performing salaah and dua through the night until dawn broke for Fajr. He says that he heard his mother making dua for everyone except herself. So he naturally was curious to know from his mother, Lady Fatima (s.a), why she excluded herself while crying in dua all night for others.
Lady Fatima (a.s) gave a very brief response, which is really a slogan to implement. She explained to her son Imam Hasan (a.s) that the spirit of dua according to the Ahlul Bait (a.s) is “first neighbours, then self”.
Again, we find 2 types of duas for others in the Holy Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s). Sometimes, it is through making dua for individuals, and sometimes it is through making dua for the community at large. Both are important and recommended! An example is the general dua we commonly read:
“O Allah, grant victory to Islam and all the Muslims”
There are plenty of examples of duas we make for individuals. One easy example is in Tahajjud salaah, specifically in the Qunut of the last rakah, where we are supposed to make dua for 40 Mu’min! One hand will be raised in dua, while the other is in Tasbeeh.
There is so much emphasis in Hadith regarding making dua for 40 Mu’mineen in the Qunut of witr of Tahajjud! Remember, this is in the middle of the dark night, when nobody is awake watching you. Nobody will know whether you are making dua for them, since you are all alone at that time of the night.
In that purest of intentions, you are raising your hand and really connecting to Almighty Allah (SWT).
Sheikh Tusi says that it is highly recommended that one calls out the names of people individually in the Sajdah Shukr.
IMPORTANT DUAS TO REMEMBER FOR THE WHOLE UMMAH
Then, when it comes to the dua for the general community (Ummah), there are plenty of duas which guide us on not only focusing on ourselves when making dua. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says that when we make dua, it should be generalised. To put it simply, he is saying make the circle bigger, as this will result in dua more certainly being accepted.
This dua which we normally read in Ramadaan after every salaah explains our dua for everyone other than ourselves:
|اللّهُمَّ أَدْخِلْ عَلَى أَهْلِ الْقُبُورِ السُّرُورَ،||O Allāh, instill happiness in the people of the Graves|
|اللّهُمَّ أَغْنِ كُلَّ فَقِيرٍ،||O Allāh, enrich every poor person|
|اللّهُمَّ أَشْبِعْ كُلَّ جَائِعٍ،||O Allāh, satisfy every hungry person|
|اللّهُمَّ اكْسُ كُلَّ عُرْيَانٍ،||O Allāh, clothe every unclothed one|
|اللّهُمَّ اقْضِ دَيْنَ كُلِّ مَدِينٍ،||O Allāh, help every debtor pay his debts|
|اللّهُمَّ فَرِّجْ عَنْ كُلِّ مَكْرُوبٍ،||O Allāh, relieve every distressed one|
|اللّهُمَّ رُدَّ كُلَّ غَرِيبٍ،||O Allāh, return every stranger to his home|
|اللّهُمَّ فُكَّ كُلَّ أَسِيرٍ،||O Allāh, free every prisoner|
|اللّهُمَّ أَصْلِحْ كُلَّ فَاسِدٍ مِنْ أُمُورِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ،||O Allāh correct every wrong in the affairs of the Muslims|
|اللّهُمَّ اشْفِ كُلَّ مَرِيضٍ،||O Allāh, cure every sick person|
|اللّهُمَّ سُدَّ فَقْرَنَا بِغِنَاكَ،||O Allāh, ease our poverty with your wealth|
|اللّهُمَّ غَيِّرْ سُوءَ حَالِنَا بِحُسْنِ حَالِكَ،||O Allāh, change our evil State to a good one through Your excellent State|
|اللّهُمَّ اقْضِ عَنَّا الدَّيْنَ وَأَغْنِنَا مِنَ الْفَقْرِ،||O Allāh, relieve us of our debts and help us against poverty|
|إنَّكَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ.||Surely you are All-Powerful over everything|
Similarly, that other very well-known dua we read of the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (atfs), where we make dua for all religious scholars, teachers, students, listeners, sick people, deceased, parents, elders, youth, prisoners, leaders, masses, Hujjaaj, Zawwaar, etc. Dua for all!
There is a narration from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), which he relays from Rasulullah (SAWA), who said that a Mu’min will never experience making dua for another Mu’min without a commensurate response from Almighty Allah (SWT), from the day creation started, until the day of Judgement.
This Hadith narration goes further to explain that on the day of Judgement, that servant will be commanded to go to the Hellfire. However, he will be pulled back by some Mu’mineen who will implore Almighty Allah (SWT) to not send this person to the Hellfire as he used to make dua for us! So please accept our intercession for this person. Allah (SWT) will accept, and he will be rescued.
This is more than enough to explain the importance of making dua for others. We must understand this spirit, that in the most private time of our day, in the middle of the night, we are still with the Ummah and not self-centred. We should always be thinking about others.
Let us pray for this Ummah. Let us pray for the followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) who are facing challenges across the world. May Allah (SWT) grant us victory over the enemies, Insha Allah!