An Advice Regarding Sickness & Difficulty, Especially in Relation to Magic
Part Four: Du'a & Its Etiquettes
All of this leads you to another pillar of a Muslim’s relationship with his or her Lord: thinking good of Allāh. Allāh The Exalted said in what the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him – narrated:
"I am as my slave thinks of Me."
So, if you think good of Allāh, you will find Allāh to be as you thought of Him. On the other hand, we are told of the punishment for those who think badly of Allāh:
"Those who assume about Allāh an assumption of evil nature. Upon them is a misfortune of evil nature; and Allāh has become angry with them and has cursed them and prepared for them Hell, and evil it is as a destination."
This makes clear the foolishness of the people who say, "This is Allāh’s anger upon us" when something bad happens to them. In fact, they are joining between two major sins: thinking badly of Allāh and saying about Allāh that which they have no knowledge. Allāh says:
"He [shaytān] only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allāh what you do not know."
Returning back to the issue of du’ā, it can be tempting to ask: ‘Why does Allāh not answer my du’ā when I call on Him?’ The Prophet said – may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him:
"The du’ā of the servant is granted as long as he does not supplicate for sin or for severing [family] relations, or he does not become impatient." It was said, "Allāh's Messenger, what is impatience?" He said, "That he says: I supplicated and I supplicated but I did not find it being responded to. Then, he becomes frustrated and abandons supplication."
So, the first rule is not to be impatient. Secondly, you do not know in which way Allāh will respond to you. He may give you what you ask for quickly, or he may delay it because of His perfect wisdom. He may save you from something that was going to happen to you because of your du’ā. He may give you its reward in the hereafter. At the same time, every Muslim should fear that Allāh will not accept his deeds, and work hard to remove the things which prevent du’ā from being accepted. The Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him – mentioned "a man who has undertaken a lengthy journey and is disheveled and dusty, raising his hands towards heaven and saying, ‘O Lord!, O Lord!’ but his food is harām, his drink is harām, his clothing is harām, he is nourished with harām so how can he receive a response?"
Ibrahim Ibn Adham - may Allāh have mercy on him - a third century scholar, a teacher and a companion of Sufyān ath-Thawree, was asked about the saying of Allāh - the Most High: "And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you.’" They said, "We supplicate and we are not answered." So he said to them:
"You know Allāh, yet you do not obey Him, You recite the Qur'ān, yet do not act according to it, You know the shaytān, yet you have agreed with him, You proclaim that you love Muhammad – may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, yet you abandon his sunnah, You proclaim your love for Paradise, yet you do not act to gain it, You proclaim your fear the Fire, yet you do not prevent yourselves from sins, You say ‘Indeed death is true’, yet you have not prepared for it, You point out the faults of others, yet you do not look at your faults, You eat of that which Allāh has provided for you, yet you do not thank Him, You bury your dead, yet you do not take a lesson from it."
Therefore, it is obligatory to be in a state between fear and hope in all of your actions. The heart of a believer is like a bird with two wings – it can’t fly without both of them, and if one of them goes too far the other one must balance it out. So if you find yourself in despair, increase your hope in Allāh. If you find yourself being lenient, increase your fear of Him. Allāh said:
"they supplicate their Lord in fear and hope."
As for the head of this bird, it is the love of Allāh. Allāh said,:
"And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allāh as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allāh. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allāh."
Don’t forget that there are times and etiquettes which will help your du’ā to be answered; being in a state of wudoo’, raising your hands (in individual du’ā or du’ā for rain), making du’ā between the adhān and the iqāmah, and in the last third of the night, and in the pause between the two khutbahs in Jumu’ah. This is a long topic and I recommend referring to the tips page, here.