How dua works

Positive interruption
September 29, 2017
We are one Ummah
November 3, 2017

How dua works

Khateeb: Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

Recap by: Zakiyyah Sablay

You can watch the full khutbah here.

“Maybe Allah isn’t happy with me” “I must have done something wrong”  “I’m not in Allah’s good books anymore”

These are thoughts that may have crossed all of our minds at some point or another during a time when it seems that we are being met with no response from Al Mujeeb despite an increase in the amount we are calling out to Him. In the Jumuah Khutbah lecture called ‘How Dua works’, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan ( NAK ) opens with a reminder :

“your dua getting answered immediately ( or not getting answered immediately ) has NOTHING to do with whether or not Allah is happy with you”

He goes on to say that there is no connection. And even if there was, we don’t know it and can never guess. An example he makes is of Sayyidina Nuh AS. In his 950 years of Da’wah, it goes without saying that he made dua for his son & wife, yet they didn’t change.  Many of us may have family members whom we see going astray and are begging Allah to bring them back. We may become frustrated and disheartened when we feel that nothing is changing, but it is in these moments of frustration / when we become disheartened that we need to look for and find comfort in the examples Allah gives us of people far better than us who were tested even more severely than us. We can think about our Nabi Muhammad SAW, who obviously made dua for his uncles / loved ones. About Sayyidina Ya’qub’s (AS) duas for his sons.

There is a reality & purpose of dua that we need to come to understand. We often confuse ‘dua’ with ‘talab’. ‘Talab’ means to ask / demand whilst dua means to call. There is a difference between these two things. Sometimes in dua, we ask and demand of Allah. But all of the requests, all of the asking is simply a humble slave of Allah turning back & begging Allah to help him with whatever problem. And the value of dua is the asking, is the connection, is the goal really.

Another attitude we may have whilst going through a difficulty is one in which we try and figure out what we may have done to “deserve” the difficulty. Here we need to think of Sayyidina Yusuf AS, who was a little boy when he was thrown down the well and then sold into child slavery. How could any child ever ‘deserve’ something like that? Through this we understand that difficulties aren’t ‘deserved’. Allah says in verse 21 of Surah Yusuf :


“And Allah has full power/ control over His affair, but most of mankind don’t know”. Sometimes we go through a tough experience because Allah knows something better is coming. And this ‘something better’ may be for us, but it may also be for someone else.  As in Sayyidina Yusuf AS’s case, he was one child who suffered and went through everything he did until he became an adult through whom nations were saved (he found himself, innocent, in a prison, but was able to advise and navigate an entire people through a huge drought. Allah’s plan). Ustadh NAK makes mention of his friend Robert Davila, a man who is paralysed completely except in his face. Through his disability, so many people have accepted Islam / come back to Allah in a state of shukr. Sometimes our difficulty is a small price to pay for a lot of khair (good).

Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan moves on to speak about the woman whom he has based this khutbah on: Sayyidina Maryam AS.

To say the least, Maryam AS was an extremely special woman.  From a young age already, she had a connection with Allah that was firm and full of love. Ustadh NAK mentions how Allah describes her birth in verse 36 of Surah Ali ‘Imraan in the Qur’an:

Allah is saying to us ‘this girl is like no other boy, this girl is special’. No other birth is honoured like hers in the Qur’an. We know of how Sayyidina Zakariyya AS walked into her place and found food there, when he asks about where it’s from, there is no hesitation in her answer. It was straight from her Rabb. Her connection to and relationship with Allah was an incredibly strong and intimate one.  Yet what did He make her face?

At a young age, Maryam AS was visited by angels who informed her that she would be having a baby. The matter had been decreed and would be done.  Just like that. Can you imagine the shock?  Imagine the fear of having to face her community after giving birth to this baby who was just placed in her womb without the usual means. She had to face such severe humiliation. She knew that no dua was going to change the situation that Allah decided she had to face. She had to stand in front of the situation. And she did. But He records for us in His Book in Surah Maryam verse 23:

There is no other place where Allah records someone wishing that they be dead/ forgotten. Why would He record it? Allah is acknowledging that sometimes people go through such traumatic/ humiliating experiences that they actually wish they were dead. Some people will face intense trauma and they will read this and look at Maryam AS for comfort. They will look at this woman who wished for her death/to be a thing forgotten. This is a woman of dua who didn’t even have to ask for food. This is the situation Allah put her in and it was not because Allah hated her/ forgot about her or wanted to humiliate her. All of it ended up becoming Allah honouring her. Sayyidina Isa AS is mentioned as ‘Isa the son of Maryam’ in the Qur’an, no other Prophets are mentioned as ‘the son of’ so & so. But her humiliation was for another reason too.  

Sometimes our difficulty is meant to serve a greater cause than ourselves. The pain of Maryam AS was recorded and is such that every time a woman is falsely accused/humiliated, she will find comfort in Maryam AS’s pain. And every time comfort is found, Maryam AS’s rank by Allah rises again and again and again.

Our calling out to Allah in desperation, our duas, they’re a means of connection. Not a means by which this world becomes heaven. Allah has created this world as a place of struggle, we are able to deal with it through dua. Through the connection.  May He grant us the ability to find our comfort in the calling. In the knowledge that He Who Hears All is the one listening.  May this always be enough for us. Ameen.

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