Man is naturally disposed to be in need of one thing or the other every moment of his life. He is always full of ambitions about things that are tangible as well as intangible. While God has no need of man, he no doubts needs God, his creator, in order to live a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is a prosperous life, which may not necessarily be one that is full of riches. Allah (SWT) affirms in Qur’an 35:15 “O ye man! It is ye that have need of Allah, but Allah is Free of all wants, Worthy of all praise”.
In order to have his needs granted, whether worldly or spiritual, man seeks Allah’s mercy and grace through supplications. To ask for one’s needs from Allah (SWT) signifies obedience to His injunction. Allah (SWT) commands us to ask for His favours; promising that such favours shall be provided each time we request for them. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 2:186 “When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them); I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me….” The teachings of Islam enjoins believers to put all their requests, complaints, and appeals before Allah (SWT) who will hear and listen to them, guide them and make ease their path to success. Allah (SWT) commands in Qur’an 40:60 “And your Lord says: ‘Call on Me; I will answer your (prayers)…”.
The Prophet (SAW) mentions in one of his traditions that the act of supplicating is part of ibadah (worship). Abu Daud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah all relate in their respective collections of the Prophet’s traditions that he (the prophet, SAW) said “Your Lord is Generous and (feels) shy to leave His servant empty-handed whenever he raises his hands up (to supplicate)”. The Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) teaches that supplications or prayers is a ‘believer’s sword’. With prayers, seemingly most difficult tasks are made easy; the farthest distances become shortest routes; worst enemies would become neutralized; illnesses (including that which appears untreatable) are cured; and the most difficult examinations could be passed without tears. With persevering supplications; a barren would bear children; an imbecile could become a genius; a criminal could be transformed into a saint; fears would give way to security, misfortunes would be changed into prosperities; and disappointments would become blessings. But all this depends on a believer’s knowledge of how to sharpen his ‘sword’. A sharp ‘sword is a shortcut to prosperity. Unfortunately, some people do not know the ethical rules involved in the use of supplications and prayers.
We shall, in the next few paragraphs, mention some of the ethical rules that should be observed in order to get our prayers answered by Allah (SWT), the Lord of the Present and the Hereafter. A suppliant must believe that Allah (SWT) alone can provide for his needs. It is recommended that a suppliant should begin his supplications with gratitude to Allah (SWT) which should be followed by seeking Allah’s peace and blessings upon the Prophet (SAW). While in supplication, a suppliant is advised to have full concentration and comportment. Supplications are required to be made in a voice that is not too loud. It is most preferred that a suppliant tenders his requests before Allah (SWT) with a sense of humility. He should confess his sins and seek forgiveness of such from Allah (SWT). Similarly, a suppliant is encouraged to appreciate and express gratitude for favours already bestowed upon him by Allah (SWT).
It is preferred that a suppliant (if feasible) should be on ablution and should face the Qiblah (direction of the Ka’abah) while supplicating. The statement of supplication for needs should be repeated thrice or in any other odd number as may be convenient. Allah’s most beautiful names could be used as a means of accessing Allah’s special favours. Allah’s (SWT) states in Qur’an 7:180 “The most beautiful names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…” Supplications are answered fast if the suppliant’s food, drink and clothing are from legitimate sources. He should also avoid anything that amounts to disobedience of Allah’s divine injunctions. If a believer’s prayer remained unanswered over time, he may need to interrogate how legitimate the sources of his food, drink and clothing are.
Choosing the time to supplicate is also a factor to reckon with in the attempt to make our prayers answered with minimum difficulty and delay. Some of the known periods during which supplications are quickly answered include Laylat ul-Qadr (the Night of Power) which is exclusively found in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan; the last part of the night that precedes dawn; the period between adhan (call to prayer) and iqamah (commencement of prayer); when a suppliant finishes from each of the five daily obligatory prayers; an unspecified period on Friday (which some scholars identify to be after asr prayer); while drinking the holy Zamzam water; while supplicating on mount Arafat on Arafat day; the entire month of Ramadan especially supplications made at the time of breaking the fast; and during the last prostration when observing prayers. The Prophet (SAW) said: “A servant (of Allah) becomes nearest to his Lord when he is in prostration. So increase supplications in prostrations.”
Supplications receive Allah’s special attention when they are offered by a parent for or against his child. Similar attention is given to supplications offered by a wrongly treated person against the one who oppressed him. Supplications travel on the fast lane when the suppliant is a traveller, or observing fast until he breaks his fast; or a just leader; or a child obedient to his parents. As for the places where supplications are quickly heard, they include the holy mosque of Ka’abah; as well as on top of each of the two small hills of Safah and Marwah (near the Ka’abah mosque).
As we supplicate, we are expected to remain perseveringly patient as directed in Qur’an 2:45. Sometimes, our supplications could be answered in the way we wanted and at other times in a complete different way. Sometimes too, our request may never come or may be delayed until much later. Allah (SWT) knows that which is best for us. A suppliant is advised to indicate in his prayer that Allah (SWT) should grant his request only if it would be of benefit to him. May Allah (SWT) grant our needs in the best of forms that would profit us, amin.