How to Make Dua

Importance of Dua

Imagine you work at a company in a low-level position, but you are friends with the CEO of the company and have lunch with him every week. If your boss gives you trouble, would it be logical for you to say nothing to the CEO about it? Would you only try to fix the problem yourself?

That is the example of a Muslim who has a direct connection to the creator and controller of the universe and has an appointment with him five times a day. What would be the logic in not talking to Him about the problems in your life?

That is the logical evidence for the importance of dua. As for the Quran and Sunnah, there is much evidence. It is reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Dua is the essence of worship.”

In the simplest definition of the word, dua is speaking to Allah and requesting something from Him. As Muslims, we already do a minimum amount of dua as part of our daily Salah. But, it is possible to improve your dua to be effective by following some key pieces of advice.

Ibn Jawzi lists nineteen items to help make duas effective:

  1. Seeking noble times
  2. Making dua in noble situations
  3. Facing the qiblah
  4. Having a low voice
  5. Sending salawat on the Prophet
  6. Doing tasbeeh ten times before dua
  7. The dua not being awkwardly planned out but saying it from actual desire and deciding the words in the moment
  8. The dua being grammatically proper
  9. Being firm in dua
  10. Concentration
  11. Asking something that will plausibly be answered (and not something impossible)
  12. Being sure that the dua will be answered
  13. Hope and fear
  14. Persistence in dua
  15. Eating halal food before the dua
  16. Leaving oppression
  17. Making dua in ease even before hardship
  18. Using the transmitted duas
  19. Not being hasty for an answer

We will discuss all these and more in the article In sha Allah.

Before Dua

Dua is asking Allah for something. When you ask someone for something, you try to ask them in a good situation and good circumstances. If you ask them when they are angry, they will probably not grant your request. If you ask them when they are happy, they are more likely to grant your request.

A similar thing applies to you when you ask Allah. That does not mean dua is impossible when the circumstances are non-ideal, but it means dua can be more effective with good circumstances. In sha Allah, we will see examples of both types of duas in the Quran.

Blessed Times

One of the best ways to make duas effective is to pick a time where Allah is more generous in granting requests. We are told about several times like this in the Quran and Sunnah.

Some of the times which occur to us regularly are the following:

  1. Last third of the night
  2. At athan
  3. Between athan and iqamah
  4. After each of the five prayers
  5. During the Friday khutbah (when the Imam pauses)
  6. In the final hours of Friday after Asr

Of these, the last third of the night is one of the most effective I have found in practice and theory. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Our Lord descends every night to the lowest layer of the sky when there is one third of the night left and says ⟪Who will make dua to Me so I can answer Him? Who will request something from Me so I can grant him? Who will seek forgiveness from Me so I can forgive Him?⟫.” (Sahih Bukhari)

It is also reported from the Prophet (SAW) that Friday is divided into twelve portions, and there is one portion when no Muslim would ask Allah for something except that Allah would grant the request. He said, “Look for it in the last portion of Friday after Asr.” (Sunan Abu Dawud) This means the last portion of the time between Asr and Maghrib.

In addition to these times, the blessed months and days of the year are important. For example, dua in Ramadan, the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, and the day of Ashura (10th Muharram) are all important times to ask Allah for dua. One sign for a day being good to ask for dua is if a lot of people worship on that day.

The simplest of times to implement into your life is to make dua after your obligatory prayers. Then, you should aim to make dua when the Imam is sitting on Friday. Then, you should aim to make dua before sunset on Friday. Then, you should attempt to wake up before Fajr time and make dua in the last third of the night. That is the best and most difficult time.

Specifically for repentance and seeking forgiveness, the sooner you repent from your sin, the more effective that repentance will be. There is no doubt everyone who repents sincerely will be forgiven, but the one who repents as soon as he realizes would be more beloved to Allah than one who delays it.

Allah says ⟪And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens⟫ (3:135-136)

Some people have the misguided idea that they should wait before repenting.

Good Deeds Before Dua

Allah is more likely to accept your dua if He is more happy with you. As a result, making dua during or after good deeds increases the effectiveness of dua.

We already discussed making dua after the five prayers. That is effective because the five prayers are among the most beloved deeds to Allah. It is rare to find any regular action which is more beloved to Allah.

In the same way, it is good to make dua while fasting and right before and right after you break your fast. It is also good to make dua after you give charity and while you are doing Hajj.

One of the best times to make dua is in prostration, but there is difference of opinion whether you can make dua in other than Arabic there. So, make dua with the prescribed duas in the Quran and Sunnah in Arabic to avoid the difference of opinion.

Based on this principle, whenever you do a good deed whether in matters of worship or matters of kindness to others, take the opportunity to make dua. Inversely, when you need to make dua, do something good before making that dua, and it will be more effective depending on how beloved that good deed is to Allah.

Iman (Faith)

The higher your iman is, the more likely Allah is to accept your dua.

Iman constitutes your trust in Allah, your fear of His punishment, and your complete hope in Him. It also constitutes your good actions in general and avoidance of sin in general.

The more confident you are in Allah and the more you love and fear Him, the better your dua will be.

As a result, if you wish to improve your dua, control yourself from committing the large sins you normally commit. Avoid hurting others. Keep your food and drink halal. Keep your clothes halal. Then, In sha Allah, you will be more beloved to Allah, and He will accept your duas more.

Allah is good and He loves what is good. He told us to do what He told the prophets to do. He said to the prophets ⟪O Messengers, eat pure food and do good deeds⟫ and He said to us ⟪O believers, eat from the pure things we have given you⟫.

Imagine a man lost in the desert covered in dirt raising his hands to the sky, “My Lord, save me!” but the food he ate is haram, the drink he drank is haram, the dress he wears is haram, and all his provision is haram. How do you expect him to be answered? (Sahih Muslim)

So, watch what you eat, what you drink, what you wear, and what you do if you wish to be effective in your dua and if you wish to be loved by Allah.

That is not to say a person in a bad situation cannot be answered out of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, but the least a person can do is seek forgiveness for his sins before asking something else.

Related to the subject of iman is that dua in times of need are more likely to be answered than dua outside those times. One reason for that is a person is often at the highest state of iman and hope and fear when he is in trouble. Another reason is that Allah is more likely to respond to urgency because it is urgent.

During Dua

Style

When outside Salah and other than the prescribed duas, it is good to make dua in a language you are comfortable with. That is because you should make dua with the best speech, phrasing your sentences properly and respectfully. Allah is the creator of the universe. If you speak with respect to a king in this world, Allah deserves even more respect.

Unlike human kings, Allah is close when you make dua to Him and He is with you wherever you are despite being above the universe. He hears everything and sees everything, so make dua in a calm and quiet voice without shouting.

Some people make dua using poetry or plan out speeches, however, it is better to make dua in natural language. If you naturally come into rhyme, there is no harm in that, but do not try to force yourself into awkward or unnatural language.

When making dua, it is good to be in a state of wudhu, face the qiblah, and raise your hands like Muslims do in dua.

Extra-Content

Before making your request, there are some things which should be in the dua to make it more likely to be accepted by Allah.

  1. Praise for Allah
  2. Salawaat on the Prophet (SAW)
  3. Seeking forgiveness and repentance
  4. Your request
  5. Praise and salawaat again
  6. Ameen

It is good to start with praise for the same reason it is good to make dua after good deeds. Praising Allah is a good deed in itself which makes you dearer to Him. It is more effective the more personal you make the praise, like thanking Allah for some specific blessing He gave you.

As for salawaat, Allah says ⟪Allah and the angels send salawaat on the Prophet. O Believers, send salawaat and peace on him.⟫ (33:56) Loving the Messenger (SAW) is part of iman, and Allah loves him more than anyone else. Hence, it is good to note your own connection to and love for the Prophet (SAW) and the fact that you are from among his followers.

As for seeking forgiveness, this should be specific if you committed a sin you need to repent from. It can also be general to seek forgiveness for any mistake you may not have noticed. This is important to clean your slate with Allah before asking Him for something and so you are not an example of the person who asks Allah with haram food, haram drink, and haram clothes.

Finally, it is important to avoid making dua for nothing but the world. Especially when most of your duas are only about the world, it can become offensive and portray a neglect for the afterlife. So, always pair your duas with duas for forgiveness and duas for Jannah and safety from Hellfire.

Content

There is no one formula to the perfect dua. Some duas are detailed, some are short. Different cases call for different ways of making dua, and you should be the judge of what applies in your situation.

However, the general rule is Allah likes longwinded duas. This is especially in the case where you are asking Allah for a blessing, not asking for forgiveness or the removal of an adversity.

So, when you ask Allah:

  1. Explain your situation,
  2. Explain why you want what you are requesting
  3. Why it is difficult for you to get

As for the first, if you are asking about your exams, start by saying, “Allahumma, I am in exam season.”

As for the second, if you are asking for good grades, say, “My Rabb, I want to get a good job so I can help my family and the Muslims for Your sake.” In this, try to link your request with an intention for the sake of Allah.

As for the third, describe the obstacles in your path. For example, you can say, “Allahumma, I do not have much time, so give me barakah in my time.”

Even though Allah knows everything, including your deepest thoughts, He loves when people speak to Him.

Being longwinded in dua does not mean being picky in what you ask for. The disrespect in asking Allah for “A two-story house with 2000 square feet including three bedrooms and one living room located in the middle of the city,” is obvious. Be detailed in explaining your situation and your need, not in specifying the unnecessary details of what you want. However, some amount of useful detail is good, like asking for a pious son. What falls into what category is something a person should be able to determine with his heart.

It is also good to speak to Allah when you have nothing specific to request from Him. In those cases, you can just seek general forgiveness and blessing in your life.

When making dua for others, start by asking for yourself if possible, especially when making dua for something everyone needs like forgiveness or guidance.

When you seek forgiveness from Allah, it is better not to mention the specific sin even if you have one in mind. You should just refer to it with a general word like “sin” or “wrong.” The sin can be specified simply by the fact that you know it in your mind.

Additionally, do not try to explain your actions in any way that takes the blame off of yourself except by blaming your weakness and shaitan’s temptation. When you do mention your weakness or shaitan, seek protection in Allah from those.

Finally, tell Allah why you want forgiveness, specifically your fear of falling out of Allah’s favor or being sent to Hellfire.

Possibility of the Request

Requests can be divided into three categories:

  1. Common
  2. Rare
  3. Impossible.

Common requests are like asking Allah to give you good grades or good health. There is nothing strange or uncommon about having those things.

Rare requests are like asking Allah to give you a child despite being infertile. It is something that can happen but rarely.

Impossible requests are things which are naturally impossible. It is like asking Allah for the superpower of flying or to revive the dead. Although Allah has the power to make those requests happen, it is not part of Allah’s common habit that He does those things. Requests which are scripturally or logically impossible also fall into the same category.

Impossible requests are not allowed to make. Asking Allah to be more pious than the prophets or to receive miracles like the prophets get are all included in this. This is not to mean that miracles do not or cannot happen to normal people. However, it is inappropriate for us to ask Allah for miracles.

Often, you want an impossible request because you are thinking too much of the methods rather than the result. If you wish to go for Hajj, you do not need to ask for teleportation powers. Rather, ask Allah to be able to go for Hajj, and Allah can grant it to you in many different ways.

So, try to rephrase your duas that entail impossible or rare things so that you ask for the result rather than the means. However, if there is nothing but an impossible request, it is not allowed to ask for that.

Rare requests are fine to make, however, they need to be made more effective if you want them to be answered. In rare requests, it is good to explain why your request is difficult for you to achieve. In common requests, that is unnecessary but it is still good to explain why you want that request.

For obvious reasons, it is also not allowed to ask for the ability to commit a sin or things similar to that. It is also not appropriate to ask Allah for your death or for suffering. Instead, ask Allah to make your life and afterlife better and improve your mood.

It is also not appropriate to ask Allah for a normal Muslim’s death or for a marriage to break up or things similar to that which should be obvious.

Praise of Allah

When requesting something from Allah, you should explain your relationship to Him. The first part of that is why you seek something from Allah.

There are four ways of doing this:

  1. Using one of the relevant names of Allah
  2. Describing some relevant quality of Allah
  3. Describing something Allah did in history
  4. Describing something Allah did for you

As for the first, there are many names of Allah or qualities of Allah you can describe Allah with.

Before discussing names specific to situations, know the important general names of Allah. The best name to use for Allah in a dua is “Rabb” and more specifically “My Rabb” or “Our Rabb.” Rabb is often translated as “Lord” or “Master” but it is far more intimate than the translations imply. It is also good to call Allah with the phrase “Allahumma” which means “O Allah,” and that is better than using the phrase “Ya Allah” because it is not used in the Quran or Sunnah.

When using specific names, choose those that are relevant and avoid names that conflict with the context.

When seeking forgiveness, call Allah with the name Ghafoor (Most Forgiving) by saying “Ya Ghafoor” or Raheem (Merciful) or Haleem (Forbearing) or Afuw (Pardoning), not the name Baseer (All-Seeing) nor the name Aleem (All-Knowing).

When seeking money or a job, call Allah with the names Razzaq (Provider) and Rahman (Most Merciful). The same applies to when seeking marriage since marriage is a type of rizq (provision).

When you want Allah to lift a difficulty, you should appeal to Allah by using the names Samee’ (All-Hearing) and Raheem (Merciful).

All of these are suggestions. You can learn the names of Allah and use the names that you find appropriate to your duas. Using the names of Allah like this is called tawassul with the names of Allah.

As for the second, it is describing Allah with your own words even if not a specific name that applies to him.

For example, “Allahumma, have mercy on me because there is no one to give me mercy other than You” or “My Rabb, help me, you are the best of helpers.”

As for the third, it is describing something relevant that Allah did in history like in the story of the prophets.

For example, “Allahumma, you are the one who saved Nuh (AS) from the flood and Yunus (AS) from the belly of whale, so help me out of this.”

As for the fourth, it is describing something Allah did for you personally.

For example, “Allahumma, you have blessed me all my life and filled my life with comfort, so forgive me and save me from the fire of Hell.”

All of this is included in the general meaning of tawassul with the qualities of Allah.

Describing Yourself

The second part of explaining your relationship to Allah is describing yourself.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Describing your weakness
  2. Describing something good you did for the sake of Allah
  3. Describing what would happen if the request is not answered

As for the first, you should describe your weakness and dependence on Allah. After all, it is your weakness which leads you to ask Allah.

For example, “My Lord, I am weak and I have no power to do anything, so help the Muslims in Palestine.”

As for the second, you can describe specific good deeds you did to highlight why you believe Allah should answer your dua.

For example, “My Lord, I recite your book everyday to seek your pleasure. My Lord, destroy Your enemy and our enemy in Palestine.”

This is also called tawassul through your good deeds.

As for the third, you can describe the consequence of the dua not being answered. When seeking forgiveness, this is the fact that you might end up in Hell. When seeking something in the world, you should see what is appropriate.

For example, “Allahumma, if you do not help them and destroy those who fight them, you will not have believers worshiping freely in the Blessed Land of the prophets” or “My Lord, if you do not forgive me, I will be destroyed, so forgive me.”

Prescribed Duas

There are many important duas mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. Use those duas when you are making dua. You can also use those Arabic duas freely in prostration and at the end of Salah before salam.

In addition to using those duas, ponder over how those duas are structured and see what qualities of those duas you can imitate in your own duas.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of duas from the Quran:

  1. لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
    There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.
  2. رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
    Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.
  3. رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
    Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.
  4. رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
    Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.
  5. رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنْزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
    My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.
  6. رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
    Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.
  7. رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا سَمِعْنَا مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي لِلْإِيمَانِ أَنْ آمِنُوا بِرَبِّكُمْ فَآمَنَّا رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ
    Our Lord, indeed we have heard a caller calling to faith, [saying], ‘Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord, so forgive us our sins and remove from us our misdeeds and cause us to die with the righteous.
  8. رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا
    Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering; Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of duas from the Sunnah:

  1. لاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ
    There is no might and no power but that of Allah
  2. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي ظُلْمًا كَثِيرًا وَلاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ فَاغْفِرْ لِي مَغْفِرَةً مِنْ عِنْدِكَ وَارْحَمْنِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
    Allahumma, I have wronged myself with much wrong, and no one forgives sins except you. So, forgive me with forgiveness from you and have mercy on me, you are Forgiving and Merciful.
  3. اللَّهُمَّ فَإِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ النَّارِ وَعَذَابِ النَّارِ وَفِتْنَةِ الْقَبْرِ وَعَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْغِنَى وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْفَقْرِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْمَسِيحِ الدَّجَّالِ
    Allahumma, I seek refuge in You from the trial of Hell-Fire; and from the torment of Hell-Fire; and from the trial of the grave and torment of the grave; and from the evil of the trial of affluence and from the evil of the trial of poverty and I seek refuge in You from the evil of the trial of Dajjal.
  4. اللَّهُمَّ اغْسِلْ خَطَايَاىَ بِمَاءِ الثَّلْجِ وَالْبَرَدِ وَنَقِّ قَلْبِي مِنَ الْخَطَايَا كَمَا نَقَّيْتَ الثَّوْبَ الأَبْيَضَ مِنَ الدَّنَسِ وَبَاعِدْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ خَطَايَاىَ كَمَا بَاعَدْتَ بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ
    Allahumma, wash away my sins with snow and hail-water, purify my heart from the sins as a white garment is purified from dirt, and keep me away from sins like the distance between the East and the West.
  5. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْهَرَمِ وَالْبُخْلِ
    Allahumma, I seek refuge in You from inability, from laziness, from cowardice, from senility, and from miserliness.
  6. اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِي إِلَيْكَ وَفَوَّضْتُ أَمْرِي إِلَيْكَ وَأَلْجَأْتُ ظَهْرِي إِلَيْكَ رَغْبَةً وَرَهْبَةً إِلَيْكَ لاَ مَلْجَأَ وَلاَ مَنْجَا مِنْكَ إِلاَّ إِلَيْكَ آمَنْتُ بِكِتَابِكَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلْتَ وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ
    Allahumma, I turn my face towards You and entrust my affair to You. I retreat to You for protection with hope in You and fear of You. There is no resort and no deliverer (from hardship) but You alone. I affirm my faith in Your books which You revealed and in Your Messengers whom You sent.
  7. اللَّهُمَّ أَصْلِحْ لِي دِينِيَ الَّذِي هُوَ عِصْمَةُ أَمْرِي وَأَصْلِحْ لِي دُنْيَاىَ الَّتِي فِيهَا مَعَاشِي وَأَصْلِحْ لِي آخِرَتِي الَّتِي فِيهَا مَعَادِي وَاجْعَلِ الْحَيَاةَ زِيَادَةً لِي فِي كُلِّ خَيْرٍ وَاجْعَلِ الْمَوْتَ رَاحَةً لِي مِنْ كُلِّ شَرٍّ ‏
    Allahumma, set right for me my religion which is the safeguard of my affairs. And set right for me the affairs of my world wherein is my living. And set right for me my Hereafter on which depends my afterlife. And make life for me abundance for every good and make my death a source of comfort for me protecting me against every evil.
  8. اللَّهُمَّ أنْتَ رَبِّي لا إلَهَ إلّا أنْتَ، خَلَقْتَنِي وأنا عَبْدُكَ، وأنا على عَهْدِكَ ووَعْدِكَ ما اسْتَطَعْتُ، أعُوذُ بكَ مِن شَرِّ ما صَنَعْتُ، أبُوءُ لكَ بنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ، وأَبُوءُ لكَ بذَنْبِي فاغْفِرْ لِي؛ فإنَّه لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إلّا أنْتَ
    Allahumma, You are my Lord, there is none worthy of worship but You. You created me and I am your slave. I keep Your covenant, and my pledge to You so far as I am able. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I admit to Your blessings upon me, and I admit to my misdeeds. Forgive me, for there is none who may forgive sins but You.

There are many more duas in the Quran and Sunnah which can be found in books that collect them. Many duas in the Sunnah are associated with specific times and actions, like duas for when you sleep and when you wake up and when you enter the washroom and so on.

Iman (Hope and Fear)

When you make dua you should combine the emotions of fear and hope.

You should fear the fact that you are sinful and Allah could be or become angry at you because of your sins. As a result of your fear, you should preface your dua by seeking forgiveness as we mentioned.

At the same time and more importantly, you should hope and fully trust in the mercy and generosity of Allah. Based on this hope and trust, you should praise Allah and describe His qualities which lead you to hope in Him as we discussed.

Another part of hope is being confident in your dua. It is not appropriate to ask Allah with “Do this if you want” or “Please do this” or “Maybe” or “Perhaps.” Be firm in what you ask, because both you and Allah know you cannot force Allah and your intention is not to force Allah. Things like “if you want” are only for when there can be room for doubt about the meaning of your request, whether it is a command or a request.

When speaking to Allah, speak clearly and speak firm in what you want to request assuming it is appropriate.

Finally as should be obvious, concentrate in your dua. Why should Allah pay attention to your dua if you yourself do not pay attention to it? This is especially important to remember when making prescribed duas. It is mostly impossible not to concentrate when you are making a personal dua. So, when making a prescribed dua in Arabic, make sure you do not just repeat words you memorized. Say those words understanding them or at least understanding the overall message of the dua.

After Dua

After making dua, there are three things to remember:

  1. Persistence
  2. Consistency
  3. Iman

As for persistence, that means making the same dua repeatedly. You should not stop making a dua after asking for it once. Do it repeatedly and regularly until Allah grants it, gives you something else, or demonstrates that you will not get the specific thing. If you realize you will not get the specific thing, make your dua more general.

For example, if you make dua to be married to someone specific but her parents reject the proposal and leave no room for discussion, leave making dua for that specific person and make more general dua to get married to a good person.

As for consistency, that means keeping the habit of making duas whether you are in good times or bad times. No one likes a person who only talks to their friends when he needs them. Allah also does not like that. So, speak to Allah and make dua to Allah even if you have nothing specific to ask from Him. Make general dua for forgiveness and goodness in the world and the hereafter if nothing else.

Do not be like the people Allah criticizes in the Quran who speak to Him when they are in need but ignore Him when they think they are not in need.

It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein, there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah, sincere to Him in religion, “If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful.”

But when He saves them, at once they commit injustice upon the earth without right. O mankind, your injustice is only against yourselves, [being merely] the enjoyment of worldly life. Then to Us is your return, and We will inform you of what you used to do.

Quran 10:22-23

As for iman, you should maintain your level of piety so that when the opportunity comes for the dua to be answered you would actually deserve that dua.

You should also not be hasty for an answer. Do not be like a person who made a dua for a few days then gave up hope in Allah’s help and stopped asking. Rather, be confident in Allah, trust in Allah, and keep asking Him. If needed, make the dua more general.

Practice

Let us look at some duas in the Quran and how they are made.

Surah Fatihah

The very first Surah in the Quran is a dua for guidance.

You start with the praise of Allah, as it is good to begin duas with praise:

[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds –

The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,

Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.

This also includes some tawassul with the names and descriptions of Allah. Since the dua is for guidance to the path of Jannah, you mention Allah’s authority on the Day of Judgement. There are also more general appeals to Allah’s mercy and His being a Rabb over us. Allah’s mercy and His being a Rabb can be used in almost any dua.

Then, you describe your tawheed as a good deed you do:

It is You we worship and You we ask for help.

This both describes your good deed (tawheed) and also highlights how Allah is the only one who can help us.

Then, you ask to be guided:

Guide us to the straight path

That is the actual content of the dua. However, you do not keep the dua short. As we mentioned, Allah likes longwindedness, so you describe the straight path despite Allah already knowing it:

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

You also indirectly indicate you wish to gain the favor of Allah and avoid His anger.

So, you can see the qualities of a good dua in the very first dua Allah teaches us in the Quran and the one we recite in our Salah everyday.

Dua of Ibrahim (AS)

The very second dua mentioned in the Quran is the dua of Ibrahim (AS) in Surah Baqarah at the end of the first Juz.

Allah says:

And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

First, note how Ibrahim and Ismail (AS) make this dua while doing a good deed, building the Ka’bah. Second, note how they started the dua by referring to their good deed and asking Allah to accept it. In the same way, it is good to ask Allah to accept your deed if you make dua after a good deed.

Thirdly, they did tawassul with the names of Allah. They used the names Hearing and Knowing because they asked Allah to accept their deed and Allah’s observation and knowledge of their actions is an important reason for acceptance.

Then, they asked Allah to keep them on the correct path:

Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

First, note how they repeated “Our Lord.” Likewise, do not be afraid to repeat your address to Allah in your duas. Second, note how they started by asking for themselves before asking for others. Third, note how they mentioned the appropriate names of Allah when asking for repentance.

Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Note how they detailed their request. It would have been sufficient if they asked Allah to send a messenger, but they described him with qualities to make the dua longer and more precise. Then, they used the appropriate names of Allah for the situation of sending guidance and messengers.

Dua of Ayyub (AS)

Sometimes, it is possible to make dua without explicitly asking what you want to ask but simply describing Allah and describing yourself.

The dua of Ayyub (AS) is an example of this:

مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful

In this dua, Ayyub (AS) only mentions how he is in trouble and how Allah is full of mercy, leaving the actual request implicit and understood.

This type of dua can be effective.

Another example is the dua of Musa (AS):

My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.

Dua of Yunus (AS)

The dua of the man of the whale is perhaps one of the greatest duas in history.

He was a prophet who tried to escape the duties of Allah on a ship and was thrown out into the sea and swallowed by a whale as punishment. Allah was angry enough that He would have kept him in the belly of the whale until the Day of Judgement.

Then, he made a dua that changed his destiny and the destiny of a hundred thousand people.

With such a backstory, you would expect a long or complex dua, but the splendor of this dua lies in its simplicity.

He said:

There is no god except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.

He acknowledges Allah’s superiority and acknowledges that He has no hope of help except from Allah, then praises Allah, then admits fault.

Based on that alone, Allah says ⟪So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.⟫ (21:88) and ⟪And had he not been of those who exalt Allah, He would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.⟫ (37:144)

He did not explicitly seek forgiveness, nor did he ask to be saved from the whale. He knew why he was in that situation, so he targeted the cause rather than the symptoms.

The power of this dua lies not just in the words but the desperation, hope, and faith with which it was originally said. So, while acknowledging the importance of longwindedness in dua, also know the power of short but meaningful and targeted duas.

Dua of Zakariyya (AS)

On the opposite side of the long-short spectrum is the dua of Zakariyya (AS) asking for a son.

Allah says:

[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah

When he called to his Lord a private supplication.

⟪A private supplication⟫ refers both to the fact that he was quiet in his voice when making the dua and also that he made it in his private chambers away from other people. Although making dua in public has its place, private dua is often more effective.

Zakariyya said:

My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.

Zakariyya (AS) starts the dua describing his weakness and his circumstance. He also describes Allah’s blessing on him that he has never been unhappy with the dua of Allah.

This phrase ⟪never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy⟫ is something you should aim to say genuinely. You should have such trust in Allah’s decisions and answers to your dua that you are never unhappy with the responses of Allah to your dua. If you say it genuinely, I do not expect Allah to reject that dua.

Then, he said:

And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir

In this verse, he describes why he wants a son and the consequences of not getting one: he fears his successors will not be pious. He also describes why it is difficult for him to get a son: his wife is barren. He does all of this before making the actual request for a son.

Then, he said:

Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].”

Then, in the interest of lengthening the conversation and being more precise, he describes the ideal result he hopes for by getting a son: someone who can inherit the knowledge of the family of Jacob (AS).

He also describes the type of son he wants by relating it back to Allah. In the same way, when you ask for something of the world, relate it back to Allah. If you ask for a job, ask Allah for a job that is pleasing to Him so that you can use the money for causes that He loves. If you ask for marriage, ask Allah for a spouse pleasing to Him so you can worship Him with each other’s support.

That is among the longest duas quoted from a prophet in the Quran and it has many lessons in it.

Dua of the Believer

At the end of Surah Aal-Imran, Allah mentions a dua made by believers who remembers Allah constantly:

Those who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.

The dua begins by appreciation for Allah’s creation and acknowledgement of the coming Day of Judgement before seeking protection from the Fire.

Then, they say:

Our Lord, indeed whoever You admit to the Fire – You have disgraced him, and for the wrongdoers there are no helpers.

They describe the consequence of not being saved from the Fire and make the dua detailed. They also acknowledge that there is no help except from Allah.

Then, they say:

Our Lord, indeed we have heard a caller calling to faith, [saying], ‘Believe in your Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord, so forgive us our sins and remove from us our misdeeds and cause us to die with the righteous.

They describe a good action they did, the greatest action, their belief in Allah. Based on this good action, they ask Allah to forgive their mistakes.

Then, they say:

Our Lord, and grant us what You promised us through Your messengers and do not disgrace us on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, You do not fail in [Your] promise.”

They describe Allah’s own promise and note His quality of never failing to fulfill His promises.

As a result of this dua, Allah says ⟪And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.”⟫

There are many more things in this dua which can be studied and adopted into your own duas, but for the sake of brevity, I will leave that as an exercise for you.

And Allah knows best.

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