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I originally had a question about:

Quran - 40/60:
Call upon Me; I will respond to you.

What I wanted to know was, how do you go about calling Allah? It seems I have found the answer:

Quran - 2/186:
I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me

This lead me to another question:

Via the quran and/or hadith, have we been given step by step instructions on the best and purest method to perform a supplication? i.e. when should a supplication be performed, how should a supplication be performed, what should be said in a supplication, should something be recited before a supplication, should something be recited after a supplication etc?

If you missed the question, the question is:

have we been given step by step instructions on the best and purest method to perform a supplication?

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First let me say that Dua (دعا) in Arabic is not necessarily "requesting", but somewhat broader in scope, and as you said in your translation "calling" is a better translation for that. Therefore, any supplication fits the scope of Dua and will be responded:

فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ

Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and reject not Faith. [2:152]

See how Imam Ali --peace be upon him-- has used the verse [40:60] that says "... ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ..." which means "... Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer) ..." in his supplication:

... فَاِنَّكَ قَضَيْتَ عَلى عِبادِكَ بِعِبادَتِكَ، وَ اَمَرْتَهُمْ بِدُعائِكَ، وَ ضَمِنْتَ لَهُمُ الإجابَةَ، فَاِلَيْكَ يا رَبِّ نَصَبْتُ وَجْهي، وَ اِلَيْكَ يا رَبِّ مَدَدْتُ يَدي، فَبِعِزَّتِكَ اسْتَجِبْ لي دُعائي، وَ بَلِّغْني مُنايَ، وَ لا تَقْطَعْ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ رَجائي ...

... For verily, Thou hast ordained for Thy bondsmen Thy worship and bidden them to supplicate unto Thee and hast assured them (of Thy) response So, my Lord! I look earnestly towards Thee and towards Thee, my Lord! I have stretched forth my hands therefore, by Thy honour, respond to my supplication and let me attain my wishes and, by Thy bounty, frustrate not my hopes ...[Kumayl supplication]

However, there are some points that should be mentioned:

  • different sins have different effects on the person's spirit, and among the sins are those which prevent a supplication to be admitted and, therefore, responded:

... اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتي تَهْتِكُ الْعِصَمَ، اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتي تُنْزِلُ النِّقَمَ، اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتي تُغَيِّرُ النِّعَمَ، اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتي تَحْبِسُ الدُّعاءَ، اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي الذُّنُوبَ الَّتي تُنْزِلُ الْبَلاءَ، اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لي كُلَّ ذَنْب اَذْنَبْتُهُ، وَ كُلَّ خَطيئَة اَخْطَأتُها. ...

... Allah! Forgive me my such sins as would affront my continency O Allah! Forgive me my such sins as would bring down calamity O Allah! Forgive me my such sins as would change divine favours (into disfavours) O Allah! Forgive me my such sins as would hinder my supplication O Allah! Forgive me such sins as bring down misfortunes (or afflictions) O Allah! Forgive my such sins as would suppress hope O Allah! Forgive every sin that I have committed and every error that I have erred O Allah! ... [Kumayl supplication]

  • A critical conditions for a person's supplication to be admitted is avoiding any forbidden sustenance (لقمة الحرام او رزق الحرام):

عن جعفر بن محمد قال: اذا اراد احدكم ان یستجاب له فلیطیب كسبه و لیخرج من مظالم الناس و ان الله لا یرفع الیه دعاء عبد و فی بطنه حرام او عنده مظلمه لاحدٍ من خلقه.(بحارالانوار، ج 90، ص 331)

Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- said if anyone wants his supplications to be responded he should clean his earning money and exclude from it every right of the others which are wrongly within his property. And Allah will never lift the supplication of one in whose stomach is a Haram [which would remain for 40 days according to another Hadeeth] or within whose property is a right for any of His creatures.

However, this is for those who want to be responded for every request that they have from Allah. These people are called responded-on-every-request (مستجاب الدعوة). This by no means imply that Allah will reject every supplication from people who doesn't eat only from pure sustenance, so kind that He is and there are some thresholds (doing some special sins as stated before) beyond which the person and his supplications would be ignored.

  • sometimes we ask Allah for a request and Allah knows it is not to our benefit, so He will not respond us in the way we like but in the way He knows to be better for us:

... وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

... But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not. [2:216]

So we will think Allah has not responded to us, either get sad for being ignored or again ask Him for the same thing. Allah will give us what is better for us until we very much insist on WHAT WE WANT, then Allah may give us the way we like but then we will be a loser:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًا نِّعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

"Because Allah will never change the grace which He hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their (own) souls: and verily Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things)." [8:53]

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ

For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: They guard him by command of Allah. Allah does not change a people's lot unless they change what is in their hearts. But when (once) Allah willeth a people's punishment, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find, besides Him, any to protect. [13:11]

  • also it is possible that we ask Allah for a request and He admits but it takes a long time for its suitable time to reach. For example according to Hadeeth the time interval between Moses --peacce be upon him-- cursed about Pharaoh and his chiefs and the curse was done was around 40 years!

وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ آتَيْتَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَأَهُ زِينَةً وَأَمْوَالًا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا رَبَّنَا لِيُضِلُّوا عَن سَبِيلِكَ ۖ رَبَّنَا اطْمِسْ عَلَىٰ أَمْوَالِهِمْ وَاشْدُدْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلَا يُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ / قَالَ قَدْ أُجِيبَت دَّعْوَتُكُمَا فَاسْتَقِيمَا وَلَا تَتَّبِعَانِّ سَبِيلَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Moses prayed: "Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead (men) from Thy Path. Deface, our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty." / Allah said: "Accepted is your prayer (O Moses and Aaron)! So stand ye straight, and follow not the path of those who know not." [10:88,89]

  • also there are times that a very pious person calls Allah but is not responded very soon as Allah wants to keep him at His door, so it is strongly recommended never to give up asking from Allah. Asking from Allah on its own is good and would be rewarded, also it has effects in our Dunya life, e.g. you may ask Allah to be able to buy a house, Allah knows it is not a good idea for you, so instead He increases your life span or else, you may think you have not been responded but your Dua has had its effects onto your life. So we should always ask Allah and never get tired of that, at the same time that we should leave it to Allah to do what is better for us as Allah knows but we may know not.

  • There are some Dua's which are always accepted, be it from a believer or a non-believer, like that we say "may Allah send peace upon His prophet and his household". It is recommended to start and end any Dua by this Dua as Allah is kinder to accept the beginning and ending parts of a Dua but rejects to accept between them.

  • also time and place can affect our mood and thus our prayings! When it is raining, when the door of Ka`be is opened, when kindly looking in the face of parents, at the first night of marriage, before the sunrise, at the mosque, and etc., all such considerations can help.

  • the conditions for a pure supplication is not limited to the points stated here, but I only tried to give you a starting point. Also I strongly recommend you to also first read some famous supplications from the household of the holy prophet --peace be upon him and his family-- as they are very good examples of a pure supplication. Examples for these supplications are Dua' Kumayl, Dua' Abu Hamzi Thumalee, Munajat Sha'baaniyeh, Dua' Makarem Al-Akhlaaq.

Godspeed, and don't forget us in your prayers ;).

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I think this answer is really good, however, it seems to be from a shia fiqh view. Do you have anything from a sunni fiqh view. It's the reason why I added the sunni tag in the original question. –  user3550 Dec 19 '12 at 11:15
    
@user3550, no sorry I don't have much to say from the Sunni perspective, although maybe Fiqh has very small to do about the issue but anyway that's my fault as I didn't notice the tag. If the answer doesn't help please tell me and I will remove it. –  owari Dec 19 '12 at 11:39
    
The answer is excellent and it helps a lots, so please don't remove it. Just want to see if I can get a few other views before accepting. –  user3550 Dec 19 '12 at 11:55
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