Lecture 3 in the Ramadaan series:
DUA IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN & AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Thursday 9 May 2018 (3 Ramadaan 1440)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
In our discussions about dua in the light of the Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) we discussed the close connection between Ramadaan and dua (lecture 1) and also the definition of dua (lecture 2) in order to understand the term dua in the Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
The summary of our discussions thus far is that the truth and reality of dua is the attention of the deficient towards the absolute perfect. Dua is when we servants (abd) who are deficient and defective, divert our undivided attention to the absolute perfect. This is in order to eliminate our imperfection and needs.
We also explained in the preceding lecture that it is part of human instinct, for which the pre-requisite is separation from others and abandonment from anything which is contrary to Allah (SWT). We will build on this to take the discussion further.
This lecture will elaborate on the importance of dua itself. Thus far, we have understood dua to be the channel of communication between the servant (abd) and master (Rabb). The word “Iqbal” is used in Arabic, which means to draw attention and get closer.
We see this in the sermon given by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) on the last Friday of Shabaan, where he starts the sermon by saying “O people, the month of Ramadaan has approached you”. This approach and drawing attention is dua.
WHY IS DUA IMPORTANT?
As we explained, dua is about the attention, and attention is the spirit of Ibadah (worship). Now, what is Ibadah? It is when you go towards you Lord (SWT), and you divert your full attention towards Allah (SWT). This is the spirit of worship, which is expressed in the Holy Quran, in verse 56 of Surah Dhaariyat (chapter 51):
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“I created the jinn and humankind only that they may worship Me.”
So, dua is the spirit of Ibadah. Ibadah can be in the form of salaah, fasting, Hajj, charity etc. Now, the question is, can any good deed and action be Ibadah? Not quite because Ibadah means worship.
For example, an atheist reaching out to the needy is a very good action. But clearly, this cannot be regarded as Ibadah, because it does not makes sense to say that this person is performing worship of Allah (SWT) through this action, because he does not believe in God to start with.
So, the same charity becomes Ibadah (worship) when it is with this spirit of attention towards Almighty Allah (SWT). Charity is not Ibadah if you are doing it simply because you think it is nice and the right thing to do. However, it is Ibadah if you are doing charity with the intention that you will hopefully achieve proximity to Almighty Allah (SWT).
Your intention is that you are travelling towards your Lord (SWT) through this charity. This is then Ibadah. Dua is basically this attention! Therefore, there is no Ibadah better than dua.
DUA AND ARROGANCE ARE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO EACH OTHER
It is narrated that our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), said that you cannot get closer to Allah (SWT) through any means better than dua. The greater our dependency on Almighty Allah (SWT) the greater we are compelled to have that greater attention and as a result the dua will be much greater. Our need will always be there, but we think that we do not need! This is where the Holy Quran expresses the rebellious nature of human beings, in verses 6 and 7 of Surah Alaq:
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ
(6) Nay, but verily man is rebellious
أَنْ رَآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ
(7) Because he sees himself free from want.
These verses say that human beings rebel when they think that they do not need! So, you do not ask when you think that you do not need. Hence, in this state, you do not make dua, and the result of this is rebellion!
It is so important to understand that dua indirectly teaches us that we are needy and dependent. Therefore, based upon this point, the Quranic logic is that turning away from dua is turning away from Allah (SWT). The Holy Quran places dua and arrogance as opposing each other.
This point is crystal clear when one reflects on verse 60 of Surah Ghaafir (chapter 40 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer you. But those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!”
In this verse, 2 opposite parties are addressed. Firstly, Allah (SWT) confirms that He will answer the call of those who beg Him. Then, Allah (SWT) confirms that the opposite party, being the arrogant ones, is destined for humiliation.
So this is a very important Quranic point in that dua is humility before Almighty Allah (SWT), and the avoidance of dua is Istikbaar (arrogance).
IMAM JAFAR SADIQ (A.S) EXPLAINS THE RANK OF DUA IN OUR WORSHIP
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) was asked who is better in the following interesting scenario.
There are 2 people performing salaah. One of them reads more of the Quran in the salaah, whereas the other one reads more dua. Both of them complete their salaah at the same time ie. the duration of their salaah is the same.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) responded that both have their virtues and therefore both are good. The person asking the question responded to Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) by saying that he knows that both are good, so he repeated his question to Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), as he wanted to know who is better between these 2.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) replied that dua is better, and justified his response based on the above verse 60 from Surah Ghaafir. This Ibadah is dua, and dua is the brain of Ibadah, as referred to in Hadith narrations. This is important to understand.
To support this point, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) was asked the meaning of the end part of verse 114 of Surah Tauba (chapter 9 of the Holy Quran):
إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لَأَوَّاهٌ حَلِيمٌ
“Most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing.”
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explained that the word “Awwah” in this verse refers to the extent to which Nabi Ibrahim (a.s) use to focus on dua.
So, in summary:
- Dua refers to attention, and
- Attention is the spirit of every Ibadah, and
- Ibadah is the purpose of creation.
- Therefore, Ibadah cannot be understood without dua.
- Turning away from dua is turning away from Allah (SWT), rendering one as arrogant.
OUR HUMAN VALUE IS BASED ON OUR DEVOTION TO DUA
The next very important point is that according to the Holy Quran, the value of us human beings (Insan) is because of dua. I don’t think there is any better, clear, strong statement about dua in the Quran than verse 77 of Surah Furqaan (chapter 25), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says that He does not care if we do not make dua:
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ
“Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer.”
This means that whatever value we have, is due to dua! Why is it like this? It is because Insan (humanity) connects to Almighty Allah (SWT) through dua, and there is no value for Insan if that connection is not there.
On this point, I would like to share a very interesting Hadith narrated from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), where he told his people to make dua and implore from Almighty Allah (SWT) so that He can provide us.
Rasulullah (SAWA) then says that Allah (SWT) will reward a group of His servants on the day of judgement who were actively committing good deeds in this world. There will be another group who do not have actions in their account, but they will be asking Him sincerely, and Allah (SWT) will surely provide for them on the day of judgement as well.
This Hadith continues, where Rasulullah (SAWA) says that Almighty Allah (SWT) will bring both groups of people in paradise. The one group worked very hard, while the other group did not do as much.
For the group who has all the good actions and deeds stacked in their favour, they will ask from Allah (SWT) that they did good and He provided for them, so why should the other group who has not done much also be rewarded?
Rasulullah (SAWA) explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) will respond to the first group by reassuring them that He has not taken their compensation to handover to the other group. Allah (SWT) will explain to them that the other group asked Him sincerely and He gave them, as that is His favour from His unlimited kindness.
This once again highlights the value of dua!
ALLAH (SWT) LOVES TO HEAR THE DUAS OF A SINCERE BELIEVER
The next point which is very important and also beings a very interesting angle to our discussion about dua is that Allah (SWT) loves to hear dua from His servants. This is a different angle, if you reflect on the following points we have covered from the start of our series until now:
- Dua is a channel of communication
- Dua is the expression of us being abd (servants)
- Avoidance of dua is arrogance.
- The value of us human beings is based upon dua.
These 4 points reflect on dua from our side. What we are now going to delve deeper into is reflect on the significance of dua from the side of Almighty Allah (SWT), where He loves to hear dua from us.
Our 7th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s) narrates that Almighty Allah (SWT) delays in responding to the dua of a Mu’min (believer). Allah (SWT) does not answer the dua of a Mu’min immediately, because He loves to hear the dua of a Mu’min. Conversely, Allah (SWT) replies to the dua of a hypocrite very quickly, because it is a voice He does not want to listen to!
We interpret this differently, thinking why is my dua not accepted, and Allah (SWT) is not listening to me etc. Quite the contrary, as Allah (SWT) wants to listen to you more!
PERSONAL ANECDOTE FROM ALLAMA AMINI ON ACCEPTANCE OF DUA
Allama Amini (r.a) was a great scholar of the 20th century who completed amazing research and wrote a masterpiece on the event of Ghadir, and he similarly wrote volumes on Imam Ali (a.s). He lived in Najaf, Iraq. There was a time when he went through severe difficulty, so he went to the Haram of Amir al-Mu’mineen, Imam Ali (a.s) to make dua.
He repeated this quite a few times on different days, standing in front of the grave of Imam Ali (a.s), and nothing happened. All of a sudden he saw an unkempt wayfarer enter the Haram. This unkempt wayfarer was quite uncouth, and did not do the respectful permission to enter supplication.
Clearly, no etiquette, as this person just rushed in and placed his hand on the Zarih of Imam Ali (a.s) and started shouting, “Ya Abal Hassan, my child is very sick at home, almost dying, and you must help me by rescuing my child.”
Then, all of a sudden, someone shouted to him from behind, saying that he should return home, as his child recovered! This uncouth man went back home with the greatest delight that his dua was accepted so quickly.
Allama Amini (r.a) became quite upset when witnessing this situation before him in the Haram of Imam Ali (a.s). On his way home, he was thinking…O Imam Ali (a.s), I relocated to Najaf to be close to you, and I am spending my whole life serving you. I came to you with my problem, begging for your help, with all the respect and etiquette, but I don’t see my dua answered yet. What is this?
He clearly felt quite hurt and levelled this complaint to Imam Ali (a.s) while on his way home.
Allama Amini (r.a) narrates that he found it very difficult to sleep on that particular night. He was very much stressed, but eventually fell asleep, and saw in his dream Imam Ali (a.s) calling his name, asking him why is he speaking with such frustration.
Imam Ali (a.s) explained to Allama Amini in his dream that the uncouth wayfarer came and begged and he responded positively, but Imam Ali (a.s) wishes to hear from Allama Amini more and more! Imam Ali (a.s) tells Allama Amini that he loves to hear him making dua at his grave, asking him to intercede on his behalf, to Almighty Allah (SWT).
This tells us that the secrets of dua are very unique!
ALLAH (SWT) DISLIKES BEGGING!
Let me relay another very interesting Hadith from Rasulullah (SAWA) in this regard, which again shows a very unique approach to dua, where the character of Almighty Allah (SWT) is being explained.
Rasulullah (SAWA) says that Almighty Allah (SWT) loves some things for Himself, but hates the same things for His creation. What is this? Allah (SWT) hates for His creation to beg from each other, but loves His people to beg from Him!
Begging from another person is most disliked by Allah (SWT), but this same begging is most loved by Allah (SWT) when the beggar comes to Him. Hence, Rasulullah (SAWA) explains that we should never be shy to ask anything from Allah (SWT), because that way we attain His infinite love!
Naturally, this communication brings great benefits to the person.
In the next discussion, we will delve deeper into the 4 elements of dua, which are:
- Da’aie – the one who is making dua;
- Madou’we – who we are making dua to;
- Dua – supplication itself
- Madou’we lah – what we are asking