How Do I Stop Being Pessimistic about My Du’a?
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I have been praying Tahajjud almost every day this year and have experienced miracle-like occasions after praying Tahajjud previously. Yet, for some reason, this year, I find myself being negative and doubtful of my du’a, even the ones I make at Tahajjud. I think I’m not going to get it.
I try my best to stop overthinking and seek refuge in Allah, but I can’t stop thinking about what if things go wrong or it doesn’t work out. Please advise regarding Tahajjud and what I should do. I tried everything and read articles, but it helped for those few moments; only then did it’s back to the same thing, and I was never like this before, and it wasn’t comforting.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Being pessimistic is a quality that is foreign to Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) was very optimistic. He commanded his companions, and by extension us, to be optimistic and to have hope.
One: Optimistic Supplications
This is especially true regarding supplication.
Allah Most High says, “Your Lord has proclaimed, “Call upon Me, I will respond to you. Surely those who are too proud to worship Me will enter Hell, fully humbled.” [Quran, 40:60]
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Supplicate to Allah while you are certain of acceptance, and know that Allah does not accept the supplication of one whose heart is heedless and distracted.” [Tirmidhi]
This narration gives a beautiful middle ground to a common problem. This problem, i.e., being pessimistic regarding one’s supplications being answered, is from the goals of Satan.
From this narration, we see that this Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) is emphasizing being confident in Allah’s reply but also being aware that the supplication must meet certain conditions since Allah Most High generally does not accept supplications made heedlessly or if He does, it is not a complete and absolute acceptance. [‘Ali Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih]
Two: Conditions of Acceptance of Supplication
In the above narration, one of the conditions for one’s supplication to be accepted is that one’s heart must be present and focused. Likewise, the Quranic and Prophetic teachings give more conditions, such as:
Three: Having a Permissible Income and Eating the Permissible Food
Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) said, “the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Indeed, Allah is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers with that which He commanded the Messengers (Allah bless them all): (O Messengers, eat from the pure and do righteous works…)
Then he (may Allah bless him and give him peace) mentioned a person who has traveled extensively; he is disheveled and dusty and raises his hands to the Heavens, saying, “My Lord! My Lord!;” however, his food is from the prohibited, his drink is from the prohibited, his clothing is from the prohibited, and he has been nourished from the prohibited — how, ever, will his prayers be answered.” [Muslim; al-Mawsu’a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]
Four: Being Sincere
Allah Most High says, “So call upon Allah with sincere devotion, even to the dismay of the disbelievers.” [Quran, 40:14]
Five: Obedience to Allah Most High
Mulla ‘Ali Qari (Allah have mercy on him) explains the section of the above narration of Tirmidhi – “while you are certain of acceptance”-the following:
“This means that you, when supplicating, should be in a state by which you deserve for your supplications to be accepted, such as fulfilling Allah’s commandments, abstaining from His prohibitions, and fulfilling the conditions of supplication. [Ibid.]
Six: Presence of Heart
One of the core conditions for supplication is that one’s heart is directed to Allah Most High in sincere beseeching. If one’s heart is asking of Allah Most High, yet focused on other than Him – this is bad etiquette with Allah Most High.
It is narrated that Musa (Allah bless him) passed by a man praying and beseeching Allah Most High in deep submission. Musa (Allah’s peace be upon him) said, “My God! Had his needs been at my disposal, I would have fulfilled them.” So Allah Most High revealed to him, “I am more merciful to him than you. This man has sheep, and he calls upon Me while his heart is with his sheep. I do not respond to a servant who calls upon Me while his heart is with other than Me.” Musa mentioned this to the man who then cut off all others from his heart, and his needs were soon fulfilled.” [Qushayri, al-Risala al-Qushayriyya]
Seven: Seeking Out Auspicious Times, Places, and Situations
- In prostration
- After prayer
- Between the Adhan and Iqama
- Between the two Friday sermons, when the Imam sits
- The day of Eid, ‘Arafa, the 15th of Sha’ban, the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr), etc…
- At the Kaaba
- At the blessed grave of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace)
- In the presence of the righteous
- When sick
- When in a broken state
- When raining
- When breaking one’s fast [Ibid.]
Eight: Upholding the Proper Form of Supplicating
Amongst the outward etiquettes are these Prophetic Sunna acts:
- Facing the Qibla
- Raising the hands, and palms toward the Heavens
- Wiping the face with the hands after supplicating
- Lowering one’s eyes in humility
- Having a moderate volume of voice
- Not affecting eloquent speech
- Being in a state of devotion, humility, yearning, and awe
- To be resolute in supplicating and sure of its fulfillment
- To commence one’s supplication with praise of Allah and prayers on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace)
- To end one’s supplication with praise of Allah and prayers on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace)
- Amongst the most effective etiquettes is repentance for past sins and rectifying the wrongs one has committed to others. Etc… [Ibid.]
Nine, the supplication must not be sinful or involve breaking family ties [Ibid.]
Tenth, One must not be hasty such that a delay in acceptance causes them to abandon supplicating.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “A servant’s prayers will continue to be accepted as long as they do not ask for something sinful, they do not ask for the breaking of familial ties, and that they are not hasty.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is hastiness (in this regard)? He said, “For him to say, ‘I’ve prayed and prayed, and I do not see that my prayers are being answered,’ thus he loses hope and leaves supplicating.” [Muslim]
Satan will strive to turn you away from supplicating your Creator. He will try to turn your thoughts towards pessimism. He aims to make you sad. Allah Most High loves to hear your supplications. He has promised to answer them.
As long as you are raising your hands in supplication to your Lord, you have already succeeded, and Allah Most High has already set in motion the means of taking care of you. Patience is required, and certainty in Allah’s promise will facilitate that for you. Make your primary focus supplicating with excellence, and leave the rest to Allah, the Merciful.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.