We wanted to explain what making supplication means and its ways to a friend but I was unable to explain it correctly due to weakness in character and intelligence, so we wrote this.
Making a supplication is seen in many different ways: some of them negative, some people see it as a sign of weakness, others do not see the point of making supplication as they do not see the effects, others are too shy and the list goes on. We are going to speak about all these issues, if Allah allows us to do so.
The word supplicate means either: to ask for humbly and earnestly, as by prayer or to make a humble request of; petition earnestly. The Latin root word "supplicatus, pp. of supplicare" means to kneel down, pray. (http://www.yourdictionary.com/supplicate)
The Arabic word has many meanings it stems from the word دعا (da'a) meaning: to call, to summon, to call upon, to invite and the meaning can change if a preposition is added like ب or إلى. The word we are talking about is دعاء (du'a) which means to call or invoke God. The Encompassing dictionary describes the word as "a desire for Allah the exalted." (p. 1179)
These meanings sum up what supplication or Du'a are the humble desire for Allah to answer your request. Or the request made on your knees.
Does prayer work?
Of course it does, it seems like a daft question to some but many doubt that it is. They ask for a way out of their troubles and it does not seem to be answered. Know that just because you have made a supplication it does not mean that the circumstance or the event that you want will occur straight away. Also it does not mean the prayer is not answered. Every prayer is responded to but not on your timetable but on that according to the way that Allah (the Almighty) decides to do so. So do not panic or get upset, once that supplication is made by you, relax and do not get stressed or worried.
I remember as a child not getting up straight away to my parents instructions, they would say to be that I was not "listening," just because I did not get up straight away did not mean that I was not listening.
Once the prayer is made it is heard, there is no question about that, the Quran states,
"I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me." (2:186)
"And your Lord says: Pray unto me: and I will hear your prayer." (Quran 40:60)
The prayer is heard, you should have no doubt about that and you should not panic to when the response will come. Know the response will come and you should not fear that your prayer has gone unanswered.
The only unanswered Du'as are the ones in which you questioned.
Abu Hurayra reported Allah's Messenger (may peace and blessing be upon him) said, "The supplication of one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and say, "I supplicated to my Lord but it was not granted." (Muslim 6594)
"The invocation of any one of you is granted [by Allah] as long as he does not show impatience by saying "I have invoked Allah but my request has not been answered." [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Be patient the supplication has been made and now you wait to see what happens. Know that sometimes it is better for you not to have what you wished for because that will cause you great harm. You may have asked for marriage to a certain person who you thought was the best thing since sliced bread but later it turned out that that person was not even a crumb of a jam sandwich! So the supplication that was not responded immediately was in fact answered better than you could imagine or understand.
The following prophetic narration is worth reflecting and indeed pondering over.
Abu Sa'ed Al-Khuduri narrates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "No Muslim makes a supplication to Allah without being granted one of three things: it hastens the fulfilment of what he has asked for, or it is saved up for him until the Day of Judgement, or it prevents a similar kind of trouble from happening to him - unless it was for something bad or something that might break familiy ties." (at-Tirmidhi 9/923)
So the first of the three is when something is delayed like a decree that will occur and it is causes gentleness to manifest, like when someone is going to pass away. The second is that the supplication is turned into good actions on the Day of Judgement. The third is to remove any similar problem occurring to you for example an illness etc.
Another amazing prophetic narration follows:
"The servant supplicates to Allah (the praiseworthy) and he loves it, he calls, "O' Gibreal, delay fulfilling the need of my servant as I love to hear the sound of his voice." The servant who supplicates to Allah and he abhors it, he calls out, "O' Gibreal, give my servant his need as I dislike hearing his voice." (Ibn Majah : funeral 27)
So if your need is not fulfilled straight away do not lose hope because it might be a good sign.
"It was narrated that Yahya ibn Sa'ed Al-Qattan (may Allah show him mercy) saw the Real (Allah) in a dream, he asked, "How many a time have I supplicated to you without response?" He said, "O' Yahya, I loved to hear the sound of your voice." (Risala Qushariyya p.297)
This is very important; you must have a good opinion about Allah when you supplicate. Why?
"I am as My servant thinks I am..." (Bukhari)
This can be translated in a few different ways to help illustrate this point. As much as a good opinion a person has about Allah (The Almighty) he backs it up or he affirms it. So if a person does not think that Allah (mighty and majestic) is merciful then he will find Allah (mighty and majestic) unmerciful. So this also affects the condition that you find your heart in when you supplicate. Have a good opinion of Allah (mighty and majestic) and then begin your supplication.
"Whoever does not supplicate to Allah invokes his wrath." (At-Tirmidhi 9/313, Ibn Majah 2/1258 and Al-Hakim 1/491)
So make Du'a, supplicate and do not fear that your prayer is not answered or responded to, supplicate and do not worry.
The Quranic injunction
I just wish to use another translation of the aforementioned verse:
"Call on Me; I will answer you." (40:60)
The word call here is da'a and here it is in the imperative form or fa'il amr, as it is known in Arabic. This is not a choice this is an order, an injunction, supplication is an injunction. As these prophetic narrations attest to this.
"There is nothing more dear to Allah Ta'ala than a servant supplicating to him." [at Tirmidhi]
"Supplication is the essence of worship." [at Tirmdhi, Ahmad]
We turn to Allah (mighty and majestic) forgetting our wayward times during the day and direct ourselves solely to him. Making supplication is not just a waste of time it is an act of worship and as an act of worship we hope a reward for it.
When is the best time to supplicate?
This can depend on the time of year or time of day like the Day of Arafat, Ramadan, the morning and the last part of the night. But the best time to supplicate is when you are upset, when you are in tears, when you are heartbroken; as in this time there is no veil between you and Allah. This is best time to supplicate when you have no other door to turn to for help. So whenever you are upset supplicate and make it as long as you want. If need be you can go to a place that you will not be disturbed and supplicate, then do so.
"Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret." (Quran 7: 55)
Will some never have their supplications answered?
Yes, disbelievers in Allah will not get their supplications answered unless they are oppressed; only believers will have their supplications answered.
It is reported on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that Mu'adh said that The Messenger of Allah sent me (as a governor of Yemen) and (at the time of departure) instructed me thus, "You will soon find yourself in a community one among the people of the Book, so first call them to testify that there is no god but Allah, that I (Muhammad) am the messenger of Allah, and if they accept this, then tell them Allah has enjoined upon them five prayers during the day and the night and if they accept it, then tell them that Allah has made Zakat obligatory for them that it should be collected from the rich and distributed among the poor, and if they agree to it don't pick up (as a share of Zakat) the best of their wealth’s. Beware of the supplication of the oppressed for there is no barrier between him and Allah." (Muslim)
Abu Hurayra reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying, "O' people, Allah is Good and He therefore, accepts only that which is good. And Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the Messengers by saying:" O Messengers, eat of the good things, and do good deeds; verily I am aware of what you do" (23. 51). And He said: ' 0 those who believe, eat of the good things that We gave you" (2. 172) He then made a mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky (and thus makes the supplication):" O' Lord,O' Lord," whereas his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, and his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How can then his supplication be accepted?" (Muslim)
Another point about this hadith is that if a person wants their supplication to be accepted then they should be mindful of the food they eat and the means in which they earn their provision.
Some Supplications of the Prophets (upon them all peace) in The Quran
Please read through these ayats as they are showing us the best example of how to supplicate.
"Then Zachariah prayed to his Lord, saying, 'Lord, bestow upon me from You a goodly offspring, verily You are the Hearer of supplication." (The Family of Imran 38)
The noble Prophet Zachariah (upon him peace) has a good opinion and a strong convicition that his prayer will be answered. And below, in another section of the Quran, he shows us an amazing way to supplicate by stating that he has never had a supplication unresponded to.
"He said, 'My Lord, truly the bones within me have become feeble, and my head is alight with grey hair, and I have never been in my supplications to You, my Lord, unsuccessful." (Maryum 4)
"And when Abraham said, ’My Lord, make this a land secure, and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in God and the Last Day." (The Heffer 2:126)
"And when Abraham, and Ishmael with him, raised up the foundations of the House: ’Our Lord, accept this from us; Thou art the All-hearing, the All-knowing."
Here the Prophet Ibrahim (upon him peace) has built the Kaaba and is now requesting that Allah accept his works and make the surroundings into a safe place and make them believers. This prayer was answered by affirmation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), that he was the answer.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saved his supplication for his nation.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from al-Araj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Every prophet is given a supplication and I wish to preserve my supplication as intercession for my community in the next world." (Malik)
How shall someone supplicate?
Qadi Iyad in As-Shifa states the following method of making supplication:
1. Praise Allah Subhanu wa Ta’ala
2. Send prayers onto the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him)
3. Ask for you need
4. Prayers on the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) in the middle and in the end
Be firm in your supplication, ask for you need three times, praise Allah and expect it to be answered.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z Zinad from al-Araj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ''When you are making supplication do not say; 'O Allah, forgive me if You wish. O Allah, forgive me if you wish.' You should be firm in your asking, for there is no compelling Him." (Malik Book #15, Hadith #15.8.28)
Anas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying, "When one of you makes supplication, he should supplicate with a will and should not say: O Allah, confer upon me if Thou likest, for there is none to coerce Allah." (Malik Book #035, Hadith #6477)
Also make as much supplication for your brothers and sister as you can. Do not be shy about making it for anyone that asks you for a supplication. You may need to ask for forgiveness for sins or a need that you may have, just ask as you are communicating with Allah (mighty and majestic) whose generosity has no bounds, so do not be shy, be hopeful. Either way you will be responded to maybe not it the manner in which you wish but the manner that is best for you, even though you may not know what that is.
In Habib Ahmed Manshhur Al-Haddad's book "Key to the Garden" (page 112) he states that when someone says Allahumma, they have used all the names and attributes of Allah (mighty and majestic). Hassan Al-Basri said, "Allahumma is the comprehensive prayer."
The person making supplication must also be aware of his own state, do they pray? Do they practice Islam? This does not mean that their supplication will not be answered. Know that many who are not righteous have made supplications which have made them righteous.
Finally, please supplicate for this sinful person as he is in dire need of someone righteous to supplicate for him. He has done many wrongs and needs help.
For simple daily supplications please see the following link. http://sheikhynotes.blogspot.com/2009/01/simple-daily-supplications.html
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The supplication which gets the quickest answer is that made by one distant Muslim for another." (Abu Dawood Book #8, Hadith #1530)