Do you remember when you were younger? When you were at that age of wonder, where little things would capture your imagination, and you were – at times – greedy for everything you thought would bring you pleasure.
Did you daydream about being in your favourite shop, alone at night – with no one around – and being able to take whatever you want, and not worry about that adult concept of “buying”?
Now, fast forward to the present day – with you all grown up – and answer the following:
If you could have it all; everything you’ve ever wanted; all that your heart desires; all that you dream of; everything you aspire to becoming…EVERYTHING…if there was some way you could attain these things – would you do what you had to, to have your wishes fulfilled?
Or, in your specific, individual life, are there difficulties, troubles, or constraints you wish could just vanish overnight, so that you could be at ease again – free of the gnawing worries and tension that haunt you?
No genies here
Do you think it’s possible to get all of this? Either of relief from hardship, or by receiving all the nice things you want.
Or, to you, is it the stuff of fairytales? Are these the wild thoughts of an unrealistic mind that hasn’t grasped the reality of life?
“This isn’t Aladdin,” you may say. “There is no genie. There’s no ‘three wishes’ that are guaranteed to be granted.”
Yes, I realise that. But it doesn’t make my proposition any less unrealistic.
Because there’s something better than a genie. There’s something better than hours alone in your favourite store, or an overnight change of circumstances. There’s something even better than every single desire, dream, and aspiration you have.
Who, or what, is this fantastic, unimaginable entity?
Allah: our Creator and Sustainer. The One who brought you – and this whole world – into existence. The One who created every dream and desire you have; Who made you all that you are – and Who still stays with you, closer than your jugular vein.
The time is ripe
We’ve entered the blessed month of Ramadaan – a time of special mercy and peace, where we’re closer to our Creator than the rest of the year. These are special days and nights for Muslims – from the start of the month, all the way to the incredibly rich Laylatul Qadr and beyond.
We have the ultimate opportunity to have all our dreams, desires, and wishes fulfilled.
Simple: the ‘weapon of the believer’: Dua (supplication).
Dua is available to us all year round. But, many times, the rigours of everyday life – the demands on our time and energy – weigh down on us, making us resorted to ‘automated duas’ (the ones we make by habit, often not even remembering what they mean).
But in Ramadaan, dua seems so much more powerful – so much more attractive – than usual. We’ll make the effort to exert ourselves in dua; we’ll try our best to be sincere; we’ll open up to our Creator in a way that, perhaps, we haven’t opened up since the previous Ramadaan.
Make it concrete
We make our duas, and feel a spiritual elevation. Yet, are these always just made off the cuff? Or are we supplication from a list of Arabic duas we may or may not know the meaning of?
How can we make dua an intensely personal, yet concrete activity in our lives this Ramadaan (and beyond)?
Many years ago, in the days before Laylatul Qadr, I received beautiful yet simple advice from someone regarding this night. Before embarking on Hajj, I was taught the exact same advice: plan for it. Plan your duas.
Sit down, alone – when you have some moments of particular solitude and peace – and just think. Let your imagination run loose; and write down everything you want to ask for – whether in this world or in the Hereafter.
You may find that once you start writing (or typing, if you prefer), more and more comes to mind. It’s like a tap, really. You may think you don’t know what to ask for or say, but once you start, it begins to flow, and you may end up not even having enough time to finish your list. (Which is fine…you can always come back another time and continue.)
Use whatever method works for you. I’m just suggesting some ideas here, but by no means should you feel that these methods are more ‘correct’ or better. Do what suits you best.
Centre it around the names of Allah
- Look through a list of the 99 Names of Allah (you can use any list you have access to, or if you’d like a more detailed read, this is an amazing series).
- For each name – or as many as you want – think of the duas you’d make related to that attribute. For example, if you’re worried about your income, centre a dua around the name ar-Razzaaq (the Provider). If you need more calmness in your life, try As-Salaam (The Source of Peace). Or maybe you’ve been wanting something specific for the longest time, but it seems impossibly out of reach. One of your duas can centre around the name Al-Wahhaab (The Constant Bestower of Gifts).
Or use your own categories
If you want to start from a different angle, list out all the categories of things you’d like to make dua for. For example:
- Your relationship with Allah.
- Things specifically important to your personal development, character, etc.
- Your religion.
- Your personal relationships with your family.
- Your marriage.
- Your parenthood.
- Your health.
- Social relationships.
- Work, career, and your contribution to the world.
- Places you’d like to go and things you want to do.
- Important basic principles you want to live by, and share with others.
- Your death, time in the grave, and the Hereafter.
- Other people:
- Immediate family and those closest to you.
- The deceased.
- Personal and family acquaintances.
- Your teachers (both in your Islamic and secular education).
- People you’ve known at school, university, and your workplaces.
- Your employees or helpers.
- People you know (or know of) from the virtual world only.
- People from your mosques or Islamic organisations.
- Anyone else outside of those categories.
- Wider focus:
- Your neighbourhood, town, and country.
- Any other specific areas or countries.
- The world in general.
- People living under difficult circumstances around the world.
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Your duas can be around anything…as long as it’s halaal, of course.
Call on the One Who responds
You may write all this by pen in a journal. Or you may type it out and keep a printed copy. Or you may keep the electronic version on your phone.
Whatever works for you, just make sure you keep your list accessible – especially when you know you may have a chance to make dua.
Then use it. Read from it, and make those duas.
Don’t feel like just because it’s written down, it’s insincere. You are the author of those duas. And you are merely using a list because it helps you remember your heart’s desires – all you want to ask for – in a time where your mind or heart may be otherwise distracted.
And believe – with all your heart and mind – that your duas will be answered, for Allah is Al-Mujeeb (The One Who Responds).
Remember what Allah says in the Quran?
“I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me.”
(Surah 60, verse 186).
What more could you ask for? There are no intermediaries. There’s no priest, rabbi, imam, or mufti you have to go through in order to ask from your Creator. There’s an open, direct line you have to Allah. And it’s absolutely free. All you have to do is make that call. Make your dua.
Obviously, we won’t get everything we ask for exactly as we wish – because we know that duas are answered in one of three ways:
- Answered as you asked.
- The fulfilment of the dua will be delayed to a time when it’s better for you.
- Your dua will be answered with something better than what you asked for.
But all duas – provided you don’t ask for anything haraam – are accepted, insha-Allah.
So, if we ask with sincerity, insha-Allah we will get the best of what we ask for – in whatever way Allah chooses to respond to that dua.
So, whether it’s marriage you’re after; or something study or career related; or a way out of your debts; or good health; or world peace; or spiritual and personal growth after Ramadaan; or, or, or….or strengthening your relationship with Allah…whatever you want: make your list, and use it.
Use it as often as you want.
And if you think of other things – outside of the list – make those duas too. Even add them to the list, if it’s something you want to make dua for again in future.
The Prophet s.a.w. reportedly said that “dua is the essence of worship”.
At the base of Islam – at the core of everything – is your relationship with your Creator. By communicating with Him – through dua and otherwise – you strengthen that bond. And, as the hadith goes, when you take one step towards Allah, Allah takes ten steps towards you.
Make the most of these precious days of Ramadaan, and develop a dua list – and a habit of making intense personal duas – that will stand you in good stead for a long time to come.