Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I was wondering if you could help me figure out how to get my dua answered. I’ve been trying for three years to get pregnant. I make the duas of Prophet Zakariyya every day. I’m regular in prayer and I try to avoid things that are haram. I don’t understand why this isn’t working out for me. Our doctor thinks our best bet is IVF, but before I spend money on that I want to be sure that I’m doing the right thing. What can I do to make it work? Adoption is too expensive for us, and we’re not comfortable with that option right now.

: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Based on the Qur’an and Noble Sunna, scholars mention many conditions and etiquette to having one’s du’a answered, the main ones being:

(1) To have a lawful income and to eat only of pure and halal food.

Imam Bajuri states that this is the most important condition for du’a to be answered [Tuhfat al-Murid], as confirmed by the following hadith:

“Verily, Allah is pure and does not accept save what is pure. And verily Allah has commanded the believers with that which He commanded the messengers, for He Most High said, ‘O messengers! Eat from those things pure, and do righteous deeds’ (23:51), and He also said, ‘O believers! Eat from the pure things of what We have given you of sustenance’ (2:172).

He then mentioned a man on a long journey, disheveled and covered in dust, extending his hands toward the sky, saying, ‘O Lord! O Lord!’ Yet his food is unlawful; his drink is unlawful; his clothes are unlawful; and his very nourishment is unlawful. So how then can his du’a be answered?!” [Sahih Muslim]

(2) Related to this is the general injunction to make repentance (tawba) and to remove all the unlawful from your life.

There is a special connection between seeking forgiveness and the bestowal of blessings upon the servant, particularly offspring, as He Most High states (quoting Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him): “So I said, ‘Seek forgiveness of your Lord—Surely, He is Oft-forgiving! [If you seek forgiveness:] He will send down rain upon you in abundance; and He will increase you in wealth and in children, and will assign for you gardens, and assign for you rivers.'” (71:10-12)

Of course, true repentance entails stopping the unlawful and performing all obligations. Make sure you are performing the basics: praying five times a day, paying zakat, fasting Ramadan and performing the hajj if able.

A beautiful prophetic narration that encompasses the entire religion is as follows: “Verily Allah has made some things obligatory, so do not neglect them; He has set limits, so do not cross them; He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; and He has kept silent on some things—out of mercy for you, not out of forgetfulness—so do not seek them out.” [Daraqutni]

A true, sincere repentance entails actualizing this hadith in one’s life to the best of one’s ability.

(3) To make du’a with sincerity, with a focused mind and heart; and while being fully certain that Allah will answer it, and that no one can answer it but Allah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Call on Allah while having full conviction that He will answer, and realize that Allah does not answer the du’a that proceeds from a heedless, inattentive heart.” [Tirmidhi]

He (peace and blessings be upon him) also taught us that du’a is answered in one of three ways:
(a) by actually giving the thing being asked; or
(b) by warding off a harm that would have otherwise afflicted the person; or
(c) as gifts awaiting the person in the next life, which is the best form of du’a being answered. [Musnad Ahmed]

We should have no doubt that Allah will answer. Our scholars mention that Allah Most High only places du’a on the tongue of His servant because He wants to give to that servant.

(4) To seek out the blessed times and places for du’a to be answered.

These include times like the early morning hours, after the adhan, after the obligatory prayers, the time of du’a on Friday, and in Ramadan; and places such as Mecca, Arafat, and Medina (when one goes for hajj or umra).

You mention the du’a of Zakaria (peace be upon him), who made his du’a in a blessed time and place, namely, right after entering the chambers of Maryam (peace be upon her and her son) and finding her provision already there, miraculously. [See Qur’an, 3:37-38]

An extremely blessed time in particular is the last portion of the night (until the start of fajr): our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned that Allah descends to the lowest heaven and says, “Who is calling Me so I can answer him? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it to him?…” [Bukhari, Muslim]

(5) To perform a good deed before du’a and to mention it during du’a, as was done by the three men that were trapped in a cave by a large rock: each of them made du’a and mentioned a good deed, and the rock moved a bit with each dua, until they could escape. [Sahih Bukhari]

(6) To begin and end the du’a with praise of Allah Most High and sending salutations and peace upon our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

A companion once sat to make du’a and started with praise of Allah and salutation upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), to which the Prophet responded, “Ask and you will be given. Ask and you will be given.” [Tirmidhi]

In general throughout the day, try to keep your tongue moist with the praise of Allah, for gratitude itself is a powerful means to increased blessings in one’s life. Allah Most High states, “Indeed, if you show Me gratitude, I will surely increase you” (14:7).

The Prophet himself (peace and blessings be upon him) highlighted this when he said, “The very best du’a is Alhamdulillah (All praise is for Allah).” [Sahih Ibn Hibban]

(7) To call on Allah with yearning, longing, need, hope, and while being humbled.

Express your need—of Him—to Him; place all your hope in Him alone; and tell Him you have no one else to turn to. One of the best expressions of our need is the simple sunna of raising the hands when making du’a, ideally while in a state of wudu and while facing the qibla.

Allah Most High states, “Call on your Lord with utter humility and in private” (7:55), and in the next verse “And call on Him with fear and longing: surely, the mercy of Allah is near to people of excellence.” (7:56)

Imam Baydawi says the “fear” in the heart of one making du’a is fear of not being answered, due to one’s shortcomings and being undeserving, while the “longing” is longing for His answering the du’a, out of His limitless generosity and mercy.

So then, Allah ends the verse with something to cause the longing to overcome the fear: “Surely, the mercy of Allah is near to people of excellence.” This last phrase also alludes to what one can take as a means to having du’a answered, namely, to be among the people of excellence (ihsan). [Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil]

(8) To be patient and realize that Allah has full knowledge of our problems and is in full control of our circumstances.

Allah will respond to our du’a based on what is best for us, in the time that He knows is most appropriate, and based on one of the three ways mentioned above. We must persevere in calling on Him, and not give up if we don’t see an immediate response.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The slave will be answered so long as his du’a does not entail sin or severing of family ties, and so long as he is not hasty.” It was said, “What does being hasty mean?” He said, “When he says, ‘I made du’a and I made du’a, yet I have not seen any response,’ so he gets frustrated and stops making du’a.” [Sahih Muslim]

We call on Him as an expression of our need and as an act of worship, and because He Most High loves to be called upon. As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us, du’a is “the very essence of worship.” [Tirmidhi]

(9) To pray Salat al-Haja (The Prayer of Need), which is as follows:

One performs wudu’, perfects it, and performs two voluntary rakas of prayer. One then praises Allah, sends blessings and peace upon the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), and makes the following supplication, after which one asks his or her particular need:

لا إِلَهَ إلاَّ اللهُ الحَلِيمُ الكَرِيمُ، سُبْحَانَ اللهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ العَظِيمِ ، الحَمْدُ لِلهِ رَبِّ العَالَمِيْنَ ، أَسْأَلُكَ مُوجِبَاتِ رَحْمَتِكَ ، وَعَزَائِمَ مَغْفِرَتِكَ ، وَالْغَنِيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِرّ،ٍ وَالسَّلامَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ إِثْمٍ ،لاَ تَدَعْ لِيْ ذَنْباً إِلاَّ غَفَرْتَهُ، وَلاَ هَمَّاً إِلاَّ فَرَّجْتَهُ، وَلاَ حَاجَةً هِيَ لَكَ رِضاً إِلاَّ قَضَيتَهَا يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِيْنَ

“There is no deity but Allāh, the Most Forbearing, the Ever-Generous. Glory be unto Allāh, Lord of the Great Throne. Praise be to Allāh, Lord of all the worlds. I ask you for those things that bring about Your mercy and Your complete forgiveness; [for] a full portion of every righteous act, and safety from every vice. Do not leave any sin of mine except that You forgive it; any anxiety except that You relieve it; nor any need of mine that pleases You except that You fulfill it, O Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” [Tirmidhi]

(10) To remember that Allah knows what is best for us, even if we may dislike it at first.

Allah Most High states, “Perhaps you would hate a thing while it is good for you; and perhaps you would like something that is bad for you—Allah knows, and you know not.” (2:216)

He also states, “Perhaps you would hate a thing, yet Allah places much, much good in it.” (4:19)

Having a child is a huge tribulation for some people, and Allah might choose for some couples to be without children as a mercy that only He knows. Trust in Him, submit to His decree, and express your utter slavehood to Him: He will only bestow upon you His good pleasure (rida) and divine care (‘inaya).

May Allah Most High facilitate this matter for you and shower you both with His mercy.

And Allah knows best.



Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani