Du’a takes many forms. Beseeching Allah — relying on Him and trusting in His plan — we ask for guidance and goodness.
Looking at the dua of istikhara (seeking goodness) we ask Allah to make us happy and content with his plan; even if at the outset it doesn’t seem like what we desired. We trust Allah and ask that he guides us to whatever is best for us — and that he allows us to be happy and content with his decision.
Ultimately he has control and understanding of the wider picture and context of our lives, whereas in truth we only have limited knowledge. We’ll never truly know what else is awaiting us in the future or what we have been protected from in the present.
When we don’t attain something we desire, it simply wasn’t ordained for us at the time. Perhaps there is something better stored around the corner or perhaps we need simply wait and pray with patience and perseverance.
What does prayer look like though? We are always free to talk to Allah and beseech him with our requests but the best of prayers are those from the Qur’an, the beautiful prayers of the prophets.
It’s helpful to remember that asking of Allah isn’t just about the end result or seeking the final goal. It is an important act of showing our humility. Through our asking of Allah we accept our position as humble servants of Allah. All we can do is ask him to help us; we have no capacity save the means he has provided us — and all success is only through his granting it to us.
Reliance - Tawakkul
رَبِّ إِنِّى لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَىَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
Rabbi inni lima anzalta ilayya min khairin faqir
“My Lord! I am truly in ˹desperate˺ need of whatever provision You may have in store for me.” — Quran 28:24
The dua of Musa when he came to Midian, humbled and needy he beseeches Allah for whichever good Allah can send to him. Not asking specifically, but accepting that Allah knows what is best for him.
In the rest of Surah Qasas we see the good that Allah sends for him, without asking Allah for anything specific, Allah knew exactly what he was in need of, providing him with shelter, family and honest work.
وَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا ۖ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ
So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our ˹watchful˺ Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise. — Quran 52:48
A reminder of patience from the Qu’ran. A beautiful ayah we can read regularly to remind us: we’re always tested in life, but we should endure with patience as is Allah always with us. He is present, and we praise him and ask for help wherever we are, in whichever state.
"لَّآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّآ أَنتَ سُبْحَـٰنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ "
"la ilaha illa anta subhanaka innee kuntu mina aththalimeen"
And [mention] the man of the fish [i.e., Jonah], when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, "There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers." — Qur'an 21:87
There are many ways we can repent and turn back to Allah. Simply saying Astaughfirla (I seek forgiveness from Allah) is one form of repentance but this dua of prophet Yunus reminds us that we all make mistakes. It’s natural for humans, but what is importance is the path we take to repentance.
"اللَّهمَّ إنِّي أعوذُ بك مِن البَرصِ والجنونِ والجُذامِ وسيِّئِ الأسقامِ"
Allahumma inni a'udhu bika minal-barasi, wal-jununi, wal-judhami, wa min sayyi'il-asqaam
"O Allah, I seek refuge in you from leprosy, madness, elephantiasis, and evil diseases."— [Sahih Hadith]
These diseases may not seem prevalent in today’s world, luckily most of us won’t worry about leprosy on a regular basis. But this dua is a good reminder to me of how lucky we are to live in a world with good medical care and safety from such ailments. There are still however some diseases that we don’t fully understand, madness and mental illness among them, and we seek Allah’s protection from misfortune and illness that could befall us, completely out of our control.
Prayers of the Prophet
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) taught Aisha this supplication:
"O Allah, I ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what I know and what I do not know. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what I know and what I do not know. O Allah, I ask You for the good that Your slave and Prophet has asked You for, and I seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your slave and Prophet sought refuge. O Allah, I ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and I seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And I ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning me good"
"Allahumma inni as'aluka minal-khayri kullihi, 'ajilihi wa ajilihi, ma 'alimtu minhu wa ma la a'lam. Wa a'udhu bika minash-sharri kullihi, 'ajilihi wa ajilihi, ma 'alimtu minhu wa ma la a'lam. Allahumma inni as'aluka min khayri ma sa'alaka 'abduka wa nabiyyuka, wa a'udhu bika min sharri ma 'adha bihi 'abduka wa nabiyyuka. Allahumma inni as'alukal-jannatah wa ma qarrab ilayha min qawlin aw 'amalin, wa a'udhu bika minan-nari wa ma qarraba ilayha min qawlin aw 'amalin, wa as'aluka an taj'al kulla qada'in qadaytahuli khayran
" اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ كُلِّهِ عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ مَا عَلِمْتُ مِنْهُ وَمَا لَمْ أَعْلَمْ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الشَّرِّ كُلِّهِ عَاجِلِهِ وَآجِلِهِ مَا عَلِمْتُ مِنْهُ وَمَا لَمْ أَعْلَمْ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ خَيْرِ مَا سَأَلَكَ عَبْدُكَ وَنَبِيُّكَ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا عَاذَ بِهِ عَبْدُكَ وَنَبِيُّكَ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَا قَرَّبَ إِلَيْهَا مِنْ قَوْلٍ أَوْ عَمَلٍ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ النَّارِ وَمَا قَرَّبَ إِلَيْهَا مِنْ قَوْلٍ أَوْ عَمَلٍ وَأَسْأَلُكَ أَنْ تَجْعَلَ كُلَّ قَضَاءٍ قَضَيْتَهُ لِي خَيْرًا " — Sahih
To pray for exactly what the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed for is something special. What could be better than what our beloved messenger, the best of creation, (ﷺ) prayed for.
In a similar hadith this supplication reaches us as the companions of the Prophet asked the Prophet (ﷺ):
"‘O Messenger of Allah, you supplicated with many supplications of which we did not memorise or record anything of.’"
And the prophet (ﷺ) said:
‘Should I not direct you to what will include all of that? That you say: "O Allah, we ask You from the good of what Your Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) asked You for, and we seek refuge in You from the evil of that which Your Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) sought refuge in You from, and You are the one from Whom aid is sought, and it is for You to fulfill, and there is no might or power except by Allah
(Allāhumma innā nas’aluka min khairi mā sa’alaka minhu nabiyyuka Muḥammad, ṣallallāhu `alaihi wa sallam, wa na`ūdhu bika min sharri masta`ādha minhu nabiyyuka Muḥammad, ṣallallāhu `alaihi wa sallam, wa antal-musta`ānu wa `alaikal-balāgh, wa lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā billāh).’
"اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ خَيْرِ مَا سَأَلَكَ مِنْهُ نَبِيُّكَ مُحَمَّدٌ وَنَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا اسْتَعَاذَ بِكَ مِنْهُ نَبِيُّكَ مُحَمَّدٌ وَأَنْتَ الْمُسْتَعَانُ وَعَلَيْكَ الْبَلاَغُ وَلاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ "
Duas for studying and success
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا وَرِزْقًا طَيِّبًا وَعَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً
O Allah, I ask You for beneficial knowledge, goodly provision and acceptable deeds. [ibn Majah]
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance] And ease for me my task And untie the knot from my tongue That they may understand my speech. [20:25-28]
سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise. [2:32]
رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
My Lord! Increase me in knowledge. [20:114]
I pray Allah increases us in beneficial knowledge and allows us to act upon all we learn; drawing closer to him, relying on him alone and seeking his pleasure always.
The rest in this series: