So, when I first converted, and up until very recently, I thought making dua (personal prayers, supplications) was just a matter of substituting the old Christian hands-folded-head-down move for the Islamic hands upturned and raised, and then asking for whatever it is you need or want.
Which is partly true, I suppose, but quite recently I began to learn that there are actually some etiquettes that you can follow when you make dua to increase your chances of having that dua accepted. So I wanted to share some of those with you today, for new reverts who may not know about them, and for those who maybe did know, but could use a little refresher.
Firstly, as with anything in Islam, you need to make a sincere intention before you begin making dua. It always sounds like something small, but our actions are judged by the intentions. So even if you don’t get all of these etiquettes down right away, you can still keep that intention that you are trying to make dua in the most beautiful way possible and in shaa Allah get the reward of it!
One of the etiquettes of making dua that I actually really love is the next one: to invoke with the certainty that it will be accepted. So basically, if you want to have your dua accepted, you have to be certain that it will be accepted. This is like the hadith that mentions:
“Allah the Almighty said, ‘I am as my servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
Narrated in Bukhari
The scholars have commented on this hadith saying that this means a servant expects mercy of Allah swt, and expects to be relieved of hardship. Others say that this means that Allah swt is able to do all that a servant expects of him. So, if you are making dua with doubt in your heart that Allah swt will grant you whatever you are asking, you are actually sabotaging your own chances of having that dua answered.
Going hand in hand with that, another etiquette of making dua is that you make your duas with full concentration. Just like in your five times daily prayers, to really be connected and have those prayers accepted you need to be present in them, not just saying empty words. How sincere and heartfelt will your duas even be if your mind is running from one thing to the next while you stumble out the words?
I know, this can be difficult for many of us. I find that when I sit down to pray, either salah (five times daily prayer) or just make personal duas, all of a sudden my mind is coming up with tons of different ideas for blog posts, thinking about did I sent that letter that I was supposed to send to such and such, I wonder what will be for iftar tonight at the in-laws, everything! I find that something that helps when my mind starts wandering like that is, instead of trying to push it down and ignore the thoughts, to begin making my dua about whatever it is that just popped into my mind.
So, for example if I am thinking about the blog, I ask for Allah swt to make my blog a source of benefit and keep me away from sharing anything harmful, or if I start to think about iftar with the in-laws I make dua that Allah swt blesses and rewards my mother in law for all of the cooking she does for us.
The last etiquette that I will share is a bit of a given; don’t ask from anyone other than Allah swt. Allah swt is the only One that has the power to benefit you in any way, so it makes sense that He is the only one you would ask from.
As for the content of your dua, there are also some recommendations for that. Of course, the bulk of your dua should be the sincere personal prayers that come from your heart. But there are also some etiquettes that you can follow in the style and content of your duas to not only increase their chances of being accepted, but make them more beautiful as well.
The first, and one of the most important things, is to begin and end your duas with glorifying Allah swt and making dua for and sending peace and blessings on the Prophet saws. A shaykh whose lecture I was listening to recently put it like this: Allah swt always accepts duas for the Prophet saws, so if you make dua for him saws in the beginning and end of your dua, both the beginning and end of your dua will be accepted, so why wouldn’t the middle be?
One way I have started to incorporate this into my dua practice is to start learning more about the 99 names of Allah swt, so that I can use His beautiful attributes to call on him in my prayers. I know a couple of them just because they are frequently used in the Qur’an and elsewhere, but for the rest the process has been unfortunately slow-going….
So I’m thinking that maybe a series here on the 99 names of Allah swt would be in order…anyone? Let me know if that’s something you’d be up for! I’m willing to put in the research and time if enough people also think it will be beneficial! =)
Back to the content of our duas: beginning and ending with praise of Allah swt and praying peace and blessings upon the Prophet saws. When you actually start to make your own personal duas, it is also recommended that you make your duas for yourself first, and then widen the scope to other people in your life and the Muslim community as a whole.
And, during your duas for yourself you should always acknowledge your flaws and seek forgiveness for sins, as well as recognizing and showing gratitude for the many blessings Allah swt has given you. This is one that I have been working on lately; I tend to do a lot of asking in my duas and I am really working on incorporating more gratitude as well.
So, there are some basic etiquettes for making duas, in shaa Allah I hope this was a good intro to get you inspired to start working on making more beautiful duas! I know just in writing it that I am really excited to start putting more of these into practice and see what it will do for the quality of my duas. Are there any I missed? Maybe some more advanced etiquettes that I didn’t mention here? Feel free to leave them in the comments!
And y’all, do let me know about the 99 names of Allah swt. It would be a great way to keep myself accountable for learning them and improving my duas at the same time!