Lecture 4 in the Ramadaan series:
DUA IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN & AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Friday 10 May 2018 (4 Ramadaan 1440)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
What we covered in the previous lecture is that dua is the spirit of Ibadah and the spirit of Ibadah is the purpose of creation. We said that in the Quranic logic, dua is the diametrically opposite point of arrogance (Istikbaar).
Dua is humility before Almighty Allah (SWT). Dua is admission of the fact that we need Allah (SWT). Therefore, we beg from Him. This is exactly opposite to arrogance. Therefore, the Holy Quran says of that those who do not do dua are disdainful from His worship. Verse 60 of Surah Ghaafir (chapter 40 of the Holy Quran) refers:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
“But those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!”
Another very important point from the Quranic perspective on dua which we discussed is that this realization that we need to humbly beg from Almighty Allah (SWT) gives us value in His eyes, because if we do not have this humbling communication approach towards Allah (SWT) then we have no value, as explained in verse 77 of Surah Furqaan (chapter 25):
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ
“Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer.”
So, this verse requests Rasulullah (SAWA) to tell the people that Allah (SWT) does not care if we do not make dua. We are therefore worthless if we abandon dua, according to this verse.
What we also discussed in the previous lecture is that Almighty Allah (SWT) loves this dua. Whatever we discussed prior to this point was from our perspective ie. we need Allah (SWT) and our value depends on our dua. But when we analyze the institution of dua from the side of Allah (SWT), the first point we appreciate is that Allah (SWT) loves us to make dua!
What we also discussed in the previous lecture is that sometimes there is a delay in the acceptance of one’s dua, because Allah (SWT) wants to hear from His servant more and more! So, He delays answering so that you can prolong your dua as He enjoys your voice and your supplication.
We concluded the previous lecture by reflecting on the Hadith by Rasulullah (SAWA) where he says that there is something which Allah (SWT) loves for Himself, but hates the same thing for us human beings to do. This is none other than dua, which Allah (SWT) loves when we beg Him and Him alone, while He detests when a human being begs from another human being.
DUA IS A DEEP-ROOTED INSTITUTION IN THE SCHOOL OF AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
We will explore some more beautiful discussions in this lecture, in relation to our series titled dua in the light of Quran & Ahlul Bait (a.s). What we can appreciate from our discussions thus far, is how deep this institution of dua is in the Holy Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
We started from the point where dua means that we ask Almighty Allah (SWT) for something, when we are in need, such as in times of sickness, financial stress or at the most, we would ask to be granted Paradise etc.
Now, our approach in this series of discussions from the perspective of the Quran and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) gives Ibadah a completely different reality.
Yes, dua is asking. Yes, dua is begging and seeking help from Almighty Allah (SWT). But in principle, dua is “Iqbal”. Dua is attention towards our approach to Almighty Allah (SWT). It is the diversion of us servants (abd) toward Allah (SWT) – and being disconnected from everything else – liberating oneself from dependency on others, to dependency on Allah (SWT). This is itself Ibadah.
As highlighted before, there are 4 basic elements in dua which are all important to understand:
- 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
OUR POVERTY BEFORE ALLAH (SWT) OPENS OUR COMMUNICATION CHANNEL WITH HIM
A perfect dua is only possible if the one making dua knows himself ie. Ma’rifat of Nafs! Let us unpack this further…
It refers to what really motivates you when you are going to beg from Almighty Allah (SWT). What drives you to knock on the door of Almighty Allah (SWT) is your poverty (fakhr)! When you realize that you are poor in every sense before Almighty Allah (SWT).
In philosophy, the word poor refers to dependency. This goes way beyond being financially poor. All of us, in our very existence, depend on Almighty Allah (SWT).
Philosophers say that it is also not very accurate when we say that WE depend on Allah (SWT), because when we say WE, it assumes some sort of independence for WE or I. And then we say this WE or I depends on Allah (SWT). In other words, this means that there is some sort of an entity we admit to for this WE or I, and then we say that this is dependent on Almighty Allah (SWT).
This is similar to when we say that A is dependent on B. This means that you first assume that A is something, and then you say A is dependent on B. Now, in our case which we present before Almighty Allah (SWT), we don’t have this A as an entity to start with! Philosophers therefore say that we are not dependent on Allah (SWT), if we want to reflect on this accurately and deeply. They conclude that we are dependency itself, since we are nothing!
Nothing exists in this world, other than Allah (SWT) independently. Whatever is in this world is Allah (SWT). So, we go to ask Allah (SWT) for help when we realize this poverty from inside of us. This is very, very important!
REAL DUA DEPENDS ON OUR POVERTY BEFORE ALLAH (SWT)
Many people traditionally make dua, imploring from Almighty Allah (SWT). The question is, do they realize that they depend on Allah (SWT) to the extent of this poverty and dependency within themselves? Therefore, such dua turns out to be nothing more than the movement of the tongue!
Unfortunately, in this type of dua, we already have back up plans when we ask Allah (SWT) to help us!
Real dua depends on the realization of this fakhr! Ayatollah Shaykh Mahdi Asifi (r.a) was a great mystic and very pious person. He divides this Da’aie into 3, saying that there are 3 issues which together become dua.
Firstly, poverty itself. We are all poor! Is there anybody in this world who is not dependent? However, being dependent is in itself not sufficient, because the realization of this dependency is important.
Secondly, the realization of this poverty.
Thirdly, he goes further to say that beyond the realization of this dependency, it is crucial that you know that this dependency and poverty can only and only be addressed in the hands of Almighty Allah (SWT).
He cites verse 15 of Surah Faatir (chapter 35 of the Holy Quran) to support his argument, where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
“O ye men! It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise.”
So, poverty, the realization of poverty, and the resolution of poverty…these 3 together should be present in someone who makes dua (Da’aie).
Now, I want to make a very interesting point from Ayatollah Shaykh Mahdi Asifi (r.a), where he explains that we understand from the Holy Quran and Ahlul Bait (a.s) that even for the Da’aie to reach to this position where he realizes his poverty and dependency and acknowledges that it is only Almighty Allah (SWT) who can resolve it for him, and therefore he raises his hands in dua. Even this movement is not possible without Taufeeq of Allah (SWT).
He says that dua is folded between 2 mercies, namely, a mercy before dua and a mercy after dua. Allah (SWT) guides you to make dua, before you actually make dua. Then, the second mercy is when Allah (SWT) accepts your dua.
REFLECTIONS ON THE MINDBLOWING DUA ABU HAMZA THUMALI
We have a word in Arabic – Taufeeq – which is very difficult to translate to English. Sometimes Taufeeq means success, and sometimes Taufeeq means to put things together, and sometimes Taufeeq means to compromise, and there are other meanings too.
However, what we are trying to say here is that Allah (SWT) is the one who provides us this opportunity to make dua, and sometimes He deprives us from this opportunity! Let us reflect on this through analyzing a verse from the mindblowing dua of Abu Hamza Thumali, from Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), the fourth Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) says in this dua that O Allah (SWT), I don’t know what is wrong with me, that I fall asleep whenever I want to make dua and draw closer to you and establish a connection with you. Or, something pops up all of a sudden in between, when I make a plan that I am going to sit today and communicate with my Lord (SWT).
This is when Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) says to Almighty Allah (SWT) that it looks like He has deprived me from that opportunity of attaining the success of making dua. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) complains saying that maybe Allah (SWT) has expelled him, and therefore when it is not possible to enter His door even when he wants to come there, because he feels sleepy and does not have that condition to come to Allah (SWT).
Sometimes we take things for granted, like health for example, but we only realize what a great blessing we had when it is gone. Now, I could make dua but I can no longer make dua. I could read so much Quran, but now I cannot, and so on and so forth. The opportunity is gone with my infirmity now.
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) continues in this mindblowing dua of Abu Hamza Thumali by saying to Allah (SWT) that maybe He found him to be fond of the gatherings of those who waste time and talk nonsense and therefore Allah (SWT) expelled him.
ANECDOTE BY AYATOLLAH MUTAHHARI ON THE SPIRITUAL IMPACT OF TAHAJJUD
I often narrate the incident which occurred to the great intellectual giant of the 20th century, Ayatollah Shaheed Murtaza Mutahhari (r.a), where a group of them went to visit their teacher, who was very deeply spiritual. They were invited by this teacher on a Thursday night for supper.
It became quite late and they realized that there is no way for them to return to their hostel, as the buildings would already be closed. Anyway, so their teacher told Ayatollah Mutahhari and the group that they should sleep at his place and then they can return to their hostels in the morning.
So, because they stayed overnight, they continued their discussions about various issues and then also delved into poetry, which their teacher read for them.
Then, Ayatollah Mutahhari says that their teacher came to wake them up early in the morning for Fajr, but he was crying like a baby. Ayatollah Mutahhari asked from his teacher why is he crying profusely, to which his teacher responded that he overslept this morning and he missed Tahajjud for the first time, after many, many years!
So, Ayatollah Mutahhari responded to his teacher asking why is he crying, because Tahajjud is not mandatory. His teacher then said that it is Makruh (not Haraam) to read poetry on the night of Jumuah, but he did not realize it at the time. Now, this small Makruh action created a situation where he felt deprived from the opportunity to perform Salaatul Layl!
This is called Taufeeq, where Almighty Allah (SWT) provides the opportunity!
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says that for such people, the doors of dua and mercy are opened. This means that these doors are not opened automatically, but rather, it is Allah (SWT) who opens them. It is He who provides us that opportunity to seek from Him.
So, we have the mercy of Allah (SWT) before and after dua!
AHLUL BAIT (A.S) ENJOY COMMUNICATING WITH THEIR LORD (SWT)
Another very point to reflect on is the approach of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) when it comes to dua. If one looks at Dua Abu Hamza Thumali, Dua Kumayl, and this beautiful Dua Iftitah which we recite every night in Ramadaan and so on and so forth. If one reflects on the tone of the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s) it shows that they use to enjoy these communications with Almighty Allah (SWT) on an amazing level.
There is something more valuable in dua than the actual acceptance of it. Let me explain this point in the words of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), as that will give us great insight into what level the Ahlul Bait (a.s) have taken dua.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says that he once made dua to Almighty Allah (SWT) and it was accepted. It happened a while ago and then he forgot what he asked, for which Allah (SWT) granted him.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explains that the reason he forgot was because the response of Almighty Allah (SWT) by approaching and reaching out to His servant when he is calling out in dua, is much higher than what a servant can ask from Almighty Allah (SWT)!
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) is saying that the value of the attention he received from Almighty Allah (SWT) far exceeds the value of anything which one can ask, even if the servant (abd) was asking for the eternal blessings of Paradise! According to Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), even this is nothing in comparison to Almighty Allah (SWT) accepting one’s call and receiving His attention.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) then says that unfortunately those who are stuck in their worldly pursuits will not be able to understand what is the meaning and value of Almighty Allah (SWT) talking to us. The only ones who will understand are those who are really knowledgeable, lovers, worshippers and have the mystical intuitive understanding of Allah (SWT).
These are the selected and special servants of Almighty Allah (SWT). Only they know the value of Allah (SWT) talking to them is much greater than even the eternal favours of Paradise.
So this gives us a deeper appreciation of where the Ahlul Bait (a.s) have taken this institution of dua. For them, it is not simply confined to asking for something.
Normally dua is the means to achieve a purpose – health, wealth or whatever it may be. The approach of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) is in reverse. They say that yes, dua is the tool, no doubt, but dua is also the purpose itself!
The Ahlul Bait (a.s) are saying that dua is not only important to achieve a result, but rather, dua itself is important. There is nothing more enjoyable than the communication with Almighty Allah (SWT). Therefore, we see the voluminous number of duas as the rich heritage of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
We read duas from a book, but the Ahlul Bait (a.s) read it naturally! How do they do this, given that they are lengthy, with so much meaning, analysis, insight and expression of love, humility and communication? This is because for them, they are enjoying this communication, as duas for them means a journey towards Almighty Allah (SWT).
This is the situation of the Da’aie in dua. In the next lecture we will delve deeper into knowing that dua does not replace actions! Dua does not mean that we can simply relax. Many times, this conflict comes in our minds ie. if dua is everything, then why do we need to do anything, and conversely, if we are doing something, then why do we need to make dua? This will be unpacked in the next lecture Insha Allah.