What’s the Point in Supplicating?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalaamu alaikum,
I understand the importance of praying for those who are in need, in tumultuous or oppressive situations, but lately I’ve been thinking about what exact purpose our supplications serve. How can we make du’a for others so that it is not in vain, especially in situations when all we can do is pray?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The best thing that one can do is to work on your relationship with Allah, avoid the unlawful (haram), and strive to fill your life with worship. The greater the taqwa, the greater the baraka, and the greater the success in lifting the harm affecting the community (umma) of believers.
We are responsible for our responses. The believer hates oppression and does what is in his capacity to lift it– if that entails supplication, in his current state, then he rushes to the good in sincere faith and in wishing for others what he wishes for himself.

What’s the Point in Supplicating?

Firstly, supplications can change relative destiny (al-qadar al-mu`allaq) in a manner that is of great benefit to the oppressed, as well as the entire Muslim community. [see:Can Supplication Change Destiny?]
Secondly, it is established from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he prayed for the believers, specifically when distressful events occurred; an example being the occasion of the martyrdom of tens of reciters (qurra’) of the Qur’an in which he prayed against the killers for a month.
Thirdly, it is also an opportunity to increase in gratitude (shukr) for the blessings that one enjoys, and a reminder of the temporal and fleeting nature of this life.

Supplication as an Expression of Sincere Concern

Supplication is a sign of the genuineness of one’s concern for other believers. If we put ourselves in the shoes of the oppressed for a moment, wouldn’t we wish for other believers to be praying for us?
An-Nu’man ibn Bashir reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Supplication is worship itself.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]
Abu Ruqayya Tamim ibn Aws ad-Dari reported the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The deen is good counsel.” We said, “For whom?” He said, “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the Imams of the Muslims and their common people.”
Striving to remove harm, in whatever manner is possible, is from wishing well and from sincere concern for one’s fellow believers.

The Supplication for Another is his Absence

Abu’d-Darda’ reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say, “A supplication which a Muslim man makes secretly for his brother is answered. At his head is a guardian angel. Whenever he makes supplication for good for his brother, the angel who guards him says, ‘Amen, and for you the same.'” [Muslim]
The commentator, Ibn `Allan, quotes from Nawawi saying, “If he prays for a group of Muslims, he gets the virtue mentioned in the tradition (hadith), and likewise if he prays for the entire community (umma) of Muslims.” [Ibn `Allan, Dalil al-Falihin]
Abu Umama said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked, ‘What supplication is the most likely to be heard?’ He said, ‘That in the last part of the middle of the night and after the obligatory prayers.” [at-Tirmidhi]
Ibn `Allan comments, with respect to supplicating at night, it is the best time “due to the perfection of his directing himself towards his Lord, and the absence of relations [= with others] and distractions, because it is a time of divine theophanies and descent of Lordly outpourings.” [ibid.]
Please also see: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a and: Suffering and Divine Wisdom
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.