Prayer or in Arabic-Salat, is one of the pillars of Islam, and in performing the five daily prayers a Muslim actually engages in a physical form of Dua asking God to

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2 Dua Œ an Arabic word written here in English letters. Three small letters that m ake up a word and a subject that is large and breathtaking. This word ‚dua™ could be roughly translated to mean supplication or invocation. Although neither word adequately define dua. Supplication, which means communicating with a deity, comes closer t han invocation which is known to sometimes imply summoning spirits or devils. In Islamic terminology dua is the act of supplication. It is calling out to God; it is a conversation with God, our Creator, our Lord, the All Knowing, and the All Powerful. In fact the word is derived from the Arabic root meaning to call out or to summon. Dua is uplifting, empowering, liberating and transforming and it is one of the most powerful and effective act of worship a human being can engage in. Dua has been called the weapon of the believer. It affirms a person™s belief in One God and it shuns all forms of idolatry or polytheism. Dua is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person™s need for God.

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3 Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, said, fiA slave becomes nearest to his Lord when he is in prostration. So increase supplications in prostrations.™™ 1 fiThe supplication of every one of you will be granted if he does not get impatient and say, `I supplicated my Lord but my prayer has not been granted™.™™ 2 At this point in understanding exactly what dua is, it would be easy for someone from a Christian background to think that dua is prayer. Dua certainly holds certain similarities to the prayer of Christians, however it should not be confused with what Mus lims call prayer. Prayer or in Arabic -Salat, is one of the pillars of Islam, and in performing the five daily prayers a Muslim actually engages in a physical form of Dua asking God to grant them Heaven through their actions. Throughout the prayer one also supplicates to God directly. For Muslims prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day. God says in Quran, fiVerily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hoursfl. (Quran 4:103) Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Prayer is an act of worship, in which a Muslim reaffirms his belief in One God and demonstrates his gratefulness. It is a direct connection between God and th e believer and it is an obligation. Dua on the other hand is a Muslims way of feeling that connection to God at anytime, in any place. Muslims call on God frequently throughout the day and night. They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help , mercy, and forgiveness. Dua incorporates praise, thanksgiving, hope, and calling on God to assist the one in need and grant his or her requests. 1 Saheeh Muslim 2 Saheeh Al -Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

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4 Dua can be made for the individual, their family, friends, strangers, those in dire circumstances, for the b elievers, and even for the whole of humanity. When making the dua it is acceptable to ask for good in this worldly life and in the hereafter. A person making dua should not hold back, but ask God to grant both the largest and smallest requests. Prophet Muh ammad, may God praise him, encouraged the believers to make dua. He said, fiThe dua of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother the appointed angel sa ys, Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same™fl. 3 Although making dua is not an obligation, there are many benefits to making dua to God frequently and with full submission. Feeling the closeness to God that comes with sincere dua, it increases fai th, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation. Throughout the Quran, God encourages the believer to call on Him, He asks us to lay our dreams, hopes, fears and uncertainties before Him and to be sure that He hears every word. You Alone do we worship and You Alone do we ask for help. (Quran 1:5) And your Lord says, Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer). But those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely find themselves in Hell, in humiliation. (Qu ran 40:60) Say, O My slaves who have transgressed against their souls; despair not of the Mercy of Allah: For Allah forgives all sins; for He is oft Forgiving, most Merciful. (Quran 39:53) 3 Saheeh Muslim

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5 Say, Call upon Allah, or call upon ArRahman (The Most Beneficient): By whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well): For to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (Quran 17:110) And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the supplicati ons of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. (Quran 2:186) Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, called dua the essence of worship. 4 He also sugge sted that the believer be humble, yet firm when making dua and said, fiWhen one of you supplicates, he should not say, ‚O God, forgive me if You will,™ but be firm in asking and make the desire great, for what God gives is nothing great for Him.fl 5 When we make dua, when we call upon God in our hour of need, or express our gratefulness, or for any other reason including simply to feel the comfort of being close to God, we must remember to examine our sincerity and to check our intention. Dua must be address ed to God Alone, who has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries. Our intention when making the dua must be to please God, obey Him and trust Him completely. When a person makes dua God may give him what he asked for or He may divert a harm that is greater than the thing he asked for, or He may store up what he has asked for, for the Hereafter. God has commanded us to call upon Him and He has promised to respond to our call. In the next article we will examine the etiquette of making dua and discuss why some duas seemingly go unanswered. 4 At Tirmidhi 5 Saheeh Muslim

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6 Dua is essentially submission to God and a sign of our need for God. Dua has been called the weapon of the believer because it increases faith, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation. And perhaps most importantly God loves to be asked and He encourages us to call on Him for all our needs, wants, and desires. The renowned Islamic scholar Imam Ibn al -Qayyim described dua in the following way. He said, fiThe Du a and prayers for seeking refuge with God are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is str ong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can lay waste to the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, then the effect will be lacking accordinglyfl. It is incumbent upon us then, when we make our dua that we do so in the best possible way. As a way of metaphorically sharpening our sword we should endeavour to call on God in the best way and with the best manners. There is etiquette to making dua. Following that etiquette is an indication that a person is sincere and is endeavouring t o maximise his or her chances of having the dua accepted by God, who says that He will fiI answer the prayer (dua) of the supplicant when he beseeches unto Mefl. (Quran 2:186) A firm and unwavering belief in the Oneness of God is an essential ingredient for dua. True sincerity and a willingness to accept that God Alone is able to change the course of events or grant requests is also necessary. The supplicant should eagerly and urgently call on God, however he should remain humble and quiet without getting either exasperated or bored. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, liked to say his dua three times and he also asked for forgiveness three times. 6 6 Abu Dawood, An -Nasai

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8 The best times for making dua include just before Fajr (dawn prayer), in the last third of the night, during the last hour of Friday (i.e. the last hour before Maghreb prayer), when rain is falling, and between the call to prayer and iqamah (the call raise d immediately before prayer begins). Other excellent times to make dua are when the believer is in prostration. The believer should endeavour to use the clearest and most concise words when offering his supplications. The best duas are those used by t he Prophets; however it is permissible to say other words according to the specific needs of the supplicant. There are many wonderful collections of authentic duas and believers should take extra care to authenticate the duas they use to supplicate to God . When making dua it is important to either say authentic duas found in the Quran or traditions of Prophet Muhammad, or the words that spontaneously come to mind when one is seeking the protection or forgiveness of God. It is not permissible to set your own specific time, place or number of repetitions. To do so would be an act of innovation in the religion of Islam and that is a very serious matter. For instance when one turns to God in his darkest hour or in a moment of joy, he or she speaks from his he art with sincerity and love. A person must never be afraid to converse with God, to pour out his heart, his longing, his love, fears and desires. However, if one begins to make strange rituals, such as making a dua 30 times on Wednesday after Asr prayer , this is how trouble begins. As a general rule dua must either be spontaneous or from the authentically narrated. This is not complicated, Islam without manmade rituals and superstitions is pure devotion to God, and it is easy and comforting. To close t his week™s article let us mention situations in which dua is more likely to be accepted. These situations include, when one is mistreated or oppressed, when one is travelling, when one is

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9 fasting, when one is in desperate need, and when a Muslim makes dua for his absent brother. As believers we know that God is above the heavens, above His creation yet He is unrestrained by any of physical dimensions. God is close, very close, to those who believe in Him and He answers their every call. God knows all of our secrets, dreams, and wishes, nothing is hidden from Him. God is with His creation by His knowledge and power. Why then do some dua™s (supplications) remain unanswered? A mighty question indeed and even the first Muslims were concerned with t he answer. Abu Hurairah, one of the Prophets closest companions said that he heard the Prophet, may God praise him, say fiA person™s duas will be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.fl 9 From this we learn that if the dua is inappropriate or one is asking for something sinful God will not respond. If the person making dua communicates with God in an arrogant manner, perhaps complaining or raising his voice in anger or petulance God may not respond. Another reason for God not responding to dua is when the supplicant begs God for help or comfort yet he has surrounded himself with unlawful wealth, food, or clothing. One cannot continuously engage in sinful behaviour and activities without even a second of remorse yet at the same time expect God to answer his duas and requests. Prophet Muhammad told his companions that fiGod is far removed from every imperfection and only accepts that which is lawful. God commanded the pious to follow the same commandment s as He gave to the Messengers. 9 Saheeh Muslim

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10 fiO (you) Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibaat [all kinds (lawful foods which God has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits)] and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am Well -Acquai nted with what you do.fl (Quran 23:51) fiO you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with.fl (Quran 2:172) Thereafter Prophet Muhammad mentioned a man who had travelled on a long journey, he was dishevelled and covered in dust and s tretched his hands towards heaven fiO Lord, O Lordfl, but his food was unlawful and his drink was unlawful so how was his dua to be accepted?fl 10 The man described here had some of the characteristics that make dua more likely to be accepted. These were ment ioned at the end of the second article addressing this topic. It can be deduced that on account of this man not living his life within the lawful limits his dua was not accepted. Another important point to remember is not to be hasty.A supplicant must nev er give up, he must never say, fiI pray and pray, I make dua after dua but God does not hear me, He does not respond!fl Just when a person feels like giving up he must make more dua, ask God again, and again for more and more. There is no power or strengt h except with God alone. There is no solution or outcome except from God. When supplicating to God a person must be both resolute and sincere. The dua of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says, ‚I made dua but it was not answered. 11 Let not any one of you say, ‚O God, forgive me if You will, O God have mercy on me if You will. Let him be resolute in the 10 Ibid 11 Saheeh Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

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11 matter, whilst knowing that no one can compel God to do anything. 12 It is also important to understand that a response t o a dua may not be exactly what you expect. God may respond and fulfill the desire of a person immediately. Sometimes duas are answered very quickly. However sometimes God responds in a different way, He might keep some evil away from the supplicant, or He will reward him with something good but not exactly what the supplicant asked for. It is important to remember that God knows what the future holds and we do not. fi it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. God knows but you do not know.fl (Quran 2:216) Sometimes God will save his response to a dua until the Day of Resurrection when a person will be most in need of it. Dua has unlimited power, it can change many things and it is an impo rtant act of worship that we must never lose faith in. Making dua demonstrates our great need for God and it recognises that He is able to do all things. He gives and He withholds but when we trust God completely we know that His decree is just and wise. Make dua and be patient, for God will answer, in the best possible way, at the best possible time. Never give up hope, never stop asking, and ask for more and more and more. Ask for good in this world and in the hereafter. Dua is the weapon of the beli ever. fiSo We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness).fl (Quran 21:88) 12 Ibid

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