As a younger girl, one of my teachers once told me that if you perform two units of Nafl prayer, and make Du’a, praising the Prophet (PBUH) before and after, it is guaranteed Allah (swt) will accept your prayer. I remember taking this on board and thinking ‘ooh maybe this will get me what I really want (no doubt something trivial at the time, like being allowed to play outside in the park).’ I did as he had asked, and felt…nothing.
How did I feel? I expect myself to say disheartened, but in all honesty, it was closer to emptiness. Sure, I believed in God and knew I was a Muslim, but I think I was half expecting this magical solution for answered prayers not to work.
A short while later, I recall mentioning to him how I had tried what he taught, and it hadn’t worked. I still remember the blasé tone I had used, betraying the indignation I truly felt deep down. Hindsight always paves the path for clarity. In my naivety, I never truly realised how Du’a works. Perhaps it was naivety, perhaps I had truly yet to grasp faith, and what it meant to believe in an Omnipresent and Omniscient God. Whatever the case, it is only now that I realised Allah (swt) answers prayers in more ways than one. Prayers are answered all around us, in every way; as humans, so prone to error, we lack the wisdom to recognise it. However, we are reminded through the Seerah that,
“Du’a is the essence of worship” – (Hadith: Darussalam)
As Muslims, we are told that prayers are answered in one of three ways: you are given directly what you asked for; you do not receive what you asked for, but a greater calamity that was headed your way is now removed from you; you do not get what you ask for, nor is something harmful removed for you, but instead your replacement awaits you in the hereafter, which is so much greater, all worldly requests would fade in comparison.
I am still learning what it really means to be truly content, with the knowledge that every single prayer that I have made, raised my hands for, subconsciously or consciously, have been taken care of.
It amazes me that I am surrounded by evidence of this in everyday life, and my human mind cannot fully grasp it. Ask yourself, how many times have you simply thought of a thing in passing, maybe it was a certain food on your commute home, and somehow, miraculously, you blessed with that particular food in your imminent future? That is the power of prayer.
We often fall into a trap of viewing faith and prayer as a last resort; a fallback plan. As Muslims, it should really be our first point of call, and we should be comforted in the knowledge that faith provides a security net for us all.
When we really break it down, Du’a is a fundamental part of our existence, because it is just talking. We are talking to Allah (swt). How much more simple can it be? As a child, Du’a was never relayed to me in that way, and I always viewed it as something formal, something we have to do at the end of prayer and gatherings. Now, I realise Du’a is so much more, it is a direct way of communicating with the One who wants to listen, anytime, anywhere. There is a beautiful talk by Yasmin Mogahed about the power of Du’a where she explains how eventually humans tire of you asking from them and begin to see you as clingy, and needy. Allah, on the other hand, loves it when you ask of Him, and it is through asking from Him that you gain a deeper closeness.
When you begin to see Du’a as this beautiful vehicle of talking to your God, you will be surprised how easy it becomes, and how much easier it is to be open with Him.
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Hadith: Saheeh Muslim)
I was taught this lesson of acceptance in not so many words when my teacher responded to my exam mark, a few months later. He pointed to a string of successful exam outcomes, and assuredly stated, “your prayer may not have been answered as you imagined but look at your glowing results now.” When I look back at that now, I am full of awe and humility. God works in mysterious ways; talk to Him.
International Relations grad and lover of cultural commentary and a good cup of tea. Instagram: @sajidahfali and @3culturekitchen
By Sara Allouche