‘Disliked acts in Dua & Why Duas are not Accepted’
Disliked/Forbidden Acts In Dua
Just as dua has some pre-conditions and etiquette attached to it, so too does it have certain characteristics that go against the spirit of dua and contradict the proper etiquette one should employ while asking from one’s Lord. Obviously, all acts that contradict any of the etiquette or conditions of dua are all discouraged. Some of these acts, such as calling upon others than Allah, are acts of shirk that take one outside the fold of Islam.
Some of the more common acts that are discouraged are listed below.
1. Asking for prohibited things
Dua has certain limits, and if one goes beyond these limits, one is transgressing in making Dua. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Make dua to your Lord in humility and in secret. Verily, He does not like the transgressors!” (Surah Araf 55)
Asking for things that are prohibited: it is the height of transgression to demand from your Creator those things that He has prohibited for you, either in this life or in the life Hereafter.
2. Exaggerating in Dua
The following narration shows what is meant by exaggeration in dua.
One of the sons of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas was making a du a, and his father passed by him, and heard him asking: “O Allah! I ask you Paradise, and its benefits, and its delights, and its this-and- that… and I seek refuge in Hell, and its chains, and its food, and its this-and-that…”
Sad then said: “O my son! I heard the Prophet ﷺ say: There will be a group that will transgress in their du a. So beware that you be amongst them! Verily, if you are given Paradise, you will be given all that is good in it, and if you are saved from the Hellfire, you will be saved from all the evils in it. O Allah! We seek Your refuge from being among the ignorant!”
In another narration, Abdullah ibn al-Mughafal passed by one of his sons while he was making a dua. His son prayed, “O Allah! I ask you to give me the white palace on the right hand side as soon as I enter Paradise!”
Hearing this, his father said, “O my son! Ask Allah to bless you with Paradise, and seek refuge from the Fire, for verily I heard the Prophet ﷺ say: There will be a group that will over-step the bounds with regards to purification and dua.
3. To Pray for Matters of this World Only
The true Muslim asks Allah to bless him in this world and in the Hereafter. To ask Allah only for matters of this world is a sign of weakness in one’s iman as the blessings of the Hereafter are the true blessings.
Allah states in the Qur’an: “And there are those amongst mankind who say, ‘O Allah! Give us in this life/ and they will have no share of the Hereafter. And there are those who say, ‘O Allah! Give us good in this life, and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the Fire of Hell! These shall have a share of what they earned, and Allah is swift in Reckoning”. (Surah Al Baqarah 201,202)
4. Improper Names and Attributes of Allah
Of the matters that contradict the etiquettes of dua is to use a Name or Attribute that is not mentioned in the Qur’an or Sunnah. This because Allah’s Names and Attributes are only taken from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and not from one’s imagination.
Another mistake is to choose a Name or Attribute that does not fit with one’s du a. So, for example, if the Muslims are making a dua against some tyrants, it is improper to say, “O Rahmanl O Rahim” Inflict your severest punishment on such-and-such a nation, for they have wronged the Muslims…”
5. Dua to Expedite Punishment
Some people presume that they must be punished for their sins, and reason that the punishment of this world is lighter than the punishment of the Hereafter. Therefore, they pray to Allah to expedite whatever punishment that is in store for them in the Hereafter to this world. The danger of such a line of reasoning is that the person ignores the great Mercy of Allah, and forgets to ask forgiveness for his sins. Instead of asking that which is encouraged and better, he asks instead for something that he cannot bear.
Anas ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet ﷺ once visited a (sick) person who had become so thin that he was almost like a new-born chick. The Prophet ﷺ asked him: Did you make any dua or ask (Allah) for anything? He said: “Yes, I used to say: ‘Whatever punishments are in store for me in the Hereafter, give it to me in this world!'” The Prophet ﷺ responded: SubhanAllah! (All Glory and Praise be to Allah!) You will never be able to bear it! Why did you not say: O Allah! Give us the good of this world, and the good in the Hereafter, and save us from the Hellfire!
Anas added: “So the Prophet ﷺ prayed for him, and he was cured.
6. Dua Against Oneself and Family
It is possible that a person, in a state of severe anger, curses and makes dua against himself, his family and friends, or his wealth.
This is definitely an act that does not befit a Muslim, and the Prophet ﷺ warned against this, for he ﷺ said: “Do not make dua against yourselves, and do not make dua against your children, and do not make dua against your servants, and do not make du a against your wealth, for it is possible that it might correspond to an hour during which all prayers are answered, and your du a will be answered.” (Sahih Muslim)
No one wishes to inflict Allah’s curse and anger upon his loved ones, so we should be careful what we say in a state of anger, so as not to cause pain and grief not only upon our loved ones, but also upon ourselves.
7. To Curse Someone
It is not the character of a Muslim to curse others. The Prophet ﷺ said: The Muslim is not (given to) harming others, or cursing them, or being vulgar, or obscene”. (Bukhair)
Once, the Companions were whipping an individual that had been caught drinking wine. Umar, in his anger, cursed the man. Hearing this, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Don’t say that! Don’t help Shaytan against him! “(Bukhari)
And in yet another hadith, the Prophet ﷺ entered upon Umm al-Sa’ib, and found her shivering. He asked her what her problem was, so she replied, “I have a fever, may Allah not bless it!” The Prophet ﷺ then said: Do not curse the fever, for it rids the sins of the children of Adam like a furnace rids iron of its evil.”
It should be mentioned that, in certain severe cases, to curse someone in particular is allowed, as it has been narrated that the Prophet ﷺ cursed certain specific individuals because they had caused great harm to the Muslims. However, this matter should be left to the judgement of scholars, and not be the subject of discussion amongst laymen.
8. To Limit Mercy
Abu Hurayrah reported: “The Prophet ﷺ stood up for prayer, and we stood up with him. A Bedouin who was praying with us said, ‘O Allah! Have mercy on myself and Muhammad, and do not have mercy on any besides us two!’ After the Prophet ﷺ had finished his prayer, he smiled and said:Indeed, you have confined something very vast (meaning the Mercy of Allah)! (Sahih Muslim)
It is not a part of faith to try to stop Allah’s Mercy from descending upon others, and neither is a person capable of doing this, for Allah says: And My Mercy prevails over all things! (Surah Araf 156)
9. To Pray for Death
The life of a true believer is a blessing from Allah that can never be substituted. No matter what situation a person is in, he will always be in a blessed situation. The Prophet ﷺ said: To Pray for Death
The life of a true believer is a blessing from Allah that can never be substituted. No matter what situation a person is in, he will always be in a blessed situation. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Wonderous indeed are the affairs of a believer, for every affair of his is good! If some good befalls him; he thanks Allah, and that is good for him. And if some evil befalls him, he is patient, and that is good for him!“ (Sahih Muslim)
Therefore, a believer should be patient when a misfortune befalls him, and not wish for death, unless he fears for his religion, or a severe trial and tribulation.
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “None of you should wish for death due to any calamity that has befallen him. If he has no choice but to wish for death, then let him say, ‘O Allah! Grant me life as long as life is better for me, and take me away (in death) whenever death is better for me!” (Sahih Bukhari)
The Prophet ﷺ clearly stated that the life of a believer only brings more good, for Abu Hurayrah reported him ﷺ as saying: “None of you should wish for death, nor should he make du a for it before it comes to him. Verily, once one of you dies, his deeds are cut off, and the extension of a life of a believer can only be for the better!”. (Sahih Muslim)
Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Sadi in Al-Hamad, p. 71.commented on this hadith as follows:
This is a clear prohibition for wishing for death due to any problem that has fallen on an individual, whether it is a sickness, or poverty, or fear, or any other matter. Wishing for death has many evil consequences, some of which are:
10. To Imply that One will not Ask Anything Else
It is all too common to hear a person say, “O Allah! Please grant me such-and-such, and I will not ask you anything else after this!”
Such thinking has two major problems with it. Firstly, it implies that Allah is not Generous, as such a condition is usually put to a person who is miserly. Secondly, it implies that a person is self-sufficient and not in need of Allah’s response to his duas, as if he can live without Allah’s blessings! Verily, every breath that we take is because of Allah’s blessings, and no one can be free of Allah’s help even for the twinkling of an eye!
So make dua, and make plenty of dua for Allah’s Generosity is more than all that we can possibly ask for.
11. Poetry in Dua
What is meant by ‘poetry’ is excessive rhyming of words, and matching word patterns in each sentence, since this does not befit the humility that should accompany du a. However, if such rhyming is not excessive, or comes naturally to the tongue, then it is allowed, as some of the Prophet’s ﷺ duas contained rhyming phrases. What is prohibited is excessive rhyming, or going out of one’s way to ensure it, such that the dua resembles poetry.
Imam al-Khattabi wrote: “Excessive rhyming is not liked during dua, nor (is it liked) to exert one’s self in order to achieve it”.
Ibn Abbas, while giving his students advice, reported: “….And beware of poetry and rhyming in your dua, for verily I encountered the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions avoiding this.”
12. To Have Evil Intentions
It is necessary that a person make a dua in order for some noble or permissible goal. If someone makes a dua with evil intentions, such as one who prays for money so that he can use it for evil purposes, such a dua is not allowed.
Reasons Why Duas Are Not Answered
1. Not Expecting a Response, although this topic has been discussed in the etiquette of dua, because of its importance it is reiterated here. Too many people expect that Allah will not respond to their du a, and it is possible that the only reason that their dua is not responded to is because of this presumption of theirs!
It is part of one’s iman to expect the best from Allah, and to be sure that Allah will respond to your du a, as He is the Ever-Merciful, All-Powerful.
There is a certain segment of society that never makes dua. If you were to ask one of them what his excuse is, he would respond that he is too sinful to have his duas accepted by Allah, and that he makes sure that other people ask on his behalf. He might even ask you to make dua for him that he be guided!
This constitutes a very big mistake. While it is permissible to ask another person to make dua for one’s self (as shall be discussed in an upcoming class), it is improper to rely on that person totally, to the extent that one fails to perform dua oneself.
Instead, one should make dua to Allah, and expect the best from Him, and hope for Allah’s Mercy. If Allah responds to the dua of the kafir then surely the du’a of a sinful Muslim has more right to be responded to!
Ponder over this beautiful statement from Sufyan ibn Uyaynah, when he said, “Let none of you think that his du a will not be answered because of (the sins) that he knows of himself. Indeed, Allah responded to the dua of the worst of the creation, Iblis, may Allah curse him, when he said, ‘O My Lord! Give me respite until the Day of Judgement!’ Allah replied, ‘Then you are of those who have been reprieved. (Surah al-Hijr)” End Quote (Abu Zayd p29)
So if even Ibiis’ du a can be accepted, then surely the dua of a sinner has more right than his!
2. When the du’aa’ is weak in itself, because it involves something inappropriate, or involves bad manners towards Allaah, may He be exalted, or it is inappropriate, which means asking Allaah for something which it is not permitted to ask.
3. When the person who is making du’aa’ is weak in himself, because he is faint-hearted in his turning towards Allaah. This may be either because of bad manners towards Allaah, may He be exalted – such as raising his voice in du’aa’ or making du’aa’ in the manner of one who thinks he has no need of Allaah; or because he pays too much attention to the wording and tries to come up with unnecessarily ornate phrases, without paying attention to the meaning; or because he tries too hard to weep or shout without really feeling it, or he goes to extremes in that.
4. Comminting Sins The reason why his du’aa’ is not answered may be because he has done something that Allaah has forbidden, such as having haraam wealth – whether it be food or drink or clothing or accommodation or transportation, or he has taken a haraam job, or the stain of sin is still in his heart, or he is following bid’ah (innovation) in religion, or his heart has been overtaken by negligence.
5. Consuming haraam wealth. This is one of the major reasons why du’aa’s are not answered. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “O people, Allaah is Good and only accepts that which is good. Allaah commanded the pious to follow the same commandments as He gave to the Messengers. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
6. Trying to hasten the response. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: “The du’aa’ of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says, ‘I made du’aa’ but it was not answered.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
7. Making the du’aa’ conditional, such as saying, “O Allaah, forgive me if You will” or “O Allaah, have mercy upon me if You will.” . The Prophet ﷺ said: “Let not any one of you say, ‘O Allaah, forgive me if You will, O Allaah, have mercy on me if You will.’ Let him be resolute in the matter, whilst knowing that no one can compel Allaah to do anything.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
8. Abandoning to “Enjoin good & Forbid Evil” This obligation is one of the factors that has made our nation the greatest nation out of all Allah’s nations. Allah says, “You are the best of peoples ever raised for mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and believe in Allah” (Surah Imran 11)
So leaving this obligation brings about Allah’s anger and punishment, and part of this punishment is that our du as are not answered. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I swear by Him in whose Hands is my soul, you will of a surety command what is good, and forbid what is evil, or else it is very possible that Allah will send upon you His punishment, so you will make du a to Him, and you will not be responded to” (Tirmidhi, Classed as Hasan by Albani)
In conclusion, we quote Ibn al-Qayyim: “And such is du a, for it is one of the strongest factors that repels evil, and brings about desired good. However, it is possible that its effects are not seen, either because of a weakness in the du a — for example, the dua is not beloved to Allah, since it contains in it transgression, or because of a weakness in the heart of the one making du a. So the heart does not turn to Allah, and unify its energy in asking for it while it makes the dua so it is like a very weak bow, from which the arrow leaves with weakness. Another cause for which the dua is not answered is the presence of a preventing factor, such as eating haram sustenance, or being unjust, or there being a layer of filth due to sins over the heart, or that the heart has been overtaken by play and heedlessness. End Quote
Another important point is to realize that the response to the du’aa’ may take different forms:
And Allaah knows best.