Four things upon which the world rests - by Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The world rests on four things: the scholarship of the ‘alims, the justice of the rulers, the generosity of the wealthy, and the prayers of the fuqara (people who are conscious of Allah)”.
Probably, there are still ‘alims left on earth, whose actions do not diverge from their knowledge, fuqara, whose prayers are accepted, and generous rich people who have not yet all disappeared. Probably, the world carries on by their mercy and graces these days, otherwise we would hardly be in the condition we are in.
Prayers to the Most High are better made by means of Allah’s beautiful names (Asma ul Husna), in the same form as they came to us from the previous righteous people (Salafun).
وينبغي أن يتوصل إلى الله تعالى بالأنبياء والأولياء والصالحين، وللدعاء أماكن يظن فيها الإجابة... الخ. (روح البيان)
It is also fitting to ask Allah by means of prophets, awliya, and God’s righteous servants - some even consider that a condition for a prayer to be accepted.
The Best Places and the Best Times for Dua:
There are places, where one can expect their dua to be accepted. For example, a place from which the Kaaba is visible, inside Masjid al Haram, Masjid an Nabawi or Masjid Al Aqsa, between two names of the Most High “الله’’, in the process of reading of Surah Anam, while circumambulating the Kaaba, in front of the Multazim, next to the source of the well of Zamzam, or while drinking its water, while going between Safa and Marwa, behind the Maqam Ibrahim, under the Mizab of the Kaaba, on mount Arafat, in the valleys of Muzdalifah and Minah at the time of casting the stones, close to the graves of the prophets, great scholars, sheikhs, and holy people.
There are also definite periods of time when it is best to make a prayer and ask Allah. These are Friday night and day, the period of time between the athans - the first call and the Iqama (the second call to prayer), when the Imam has ascended the mimbar to give the Khutbah, after the obligatory prayers, in the last third of the night, after the prayers of ratib, before and after the morning prayers, day and night around the Eid prayers at the conclusion of Ramadan and at the time of Udhiya/Qurbani, on the first and last day of the year, on the night of ascension (Mir’aj), on the night of Baraat, when it’s raining, at night after Iftar during Ramadan, at the time of prostrating in namaz, also on Wednesday between the Zuhr and Asr prayers, and so on. May Allah grant you the strength to pray at those places and during those times. May Allah give us the strength (Tawfiq) to make dua at the designated times and in the afore mentioned blessed places.
On the value of Dua
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has many hadeeths on the significance and use of du’a. We will cite a few of them.
وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى لله عليه وسلم قال : ( ليس شيئ أكرم على الله من الدعاء ) . أخرجه الترمذي . عن أنس رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى لله عليه وسلم قال : ( الدعاء مخ العبادة ) . وعن ابن عمر رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى لله عليه وسلم قال : ( من فتح له باب من الدعاء فتحت له أبواب الرحمة، وما سئل الله شيأ أحب إليه من أن يسأل العافية ، وان الدعاء ينفع مما نزل ومما لم ينزل ). وله عن سلمان رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى لله عليه وسلم قال : ( لا يرد القضاء إلا الدعاء ، ولا يزيد في العمر إلا البر). وله عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى لله عليه وسلم قال : (من لم يسأل الله يغضب عليه)
For the Most High there is nothing more dear than dua. Dua is the sweetness of worship. Allah opens the gates of mercy to those who have opened the gates of Dua. In other words, a person who has opened the gates of dua becomes the opener of the gates of mercy.
The Most High loves to be asked for health and protection from harm. Prayer (dua) helps to avert a future harm and rid one’s self of a harm that has already befallen them. Destiny, inscribed by Allah, cannot be averted by anything except for prayer. One’s lifetime is impossible to lengthen except by the giving of charity and good deeds. In other words, dua diverts harm and lengthens life or becomes the reason for those things in as much as it has been predetermined. Allah gets angry at the one who does not ask of Him. He loves it more when people ask than when they are silent.
Why does Allah not answer our prayers?
Ibrahim Adham gave an exhaustive answer to the question of why Allah does not fulfill our requests. When Ibrahim, the son of Adham, walked along the bazar street in the city of Basra, he was surrounded by people who asked him “O Abu Ishaq! We ask of the Most High and our prayers don’t get answered!” They wanted to find out from him the reason why prayers are not answered. He answered in the following way: “Your hearts are corrupted by ten things:
-First of all, you know Allah, but you have left his sunna.
-Second, you say you love the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), but you have abandoned his sunna.
-Third, you read the Qur’an, but don’t follow it.
-Fourth, you make use of the goodness Allah has given you, but you don’t thank Him.
-Fifth, you say “Satan is our enemy”, but you act the way he wants you to.
-Sixth, you say that paradise definitely exists and that you believe in it, but you don’t perform actions that are deserving of it.
-Seventh, you say there is certainly Hell, but you don’t abandon the deeds that will take you there.
-Eighth, you say that death is real, but you don’t prepare yourselves for it.
-Ninth, you wake up from your sleep, get up in the morning, and you become absorbed with seeking the faults of others, and forget your own faults, not seeing them and not paying any attention to them.
-Tenth, you bury your dead without thinking about them.
In these ten admonitions is everything, nothing has been left out.
Truly, today we may have been sitting with a friend, companion, brother or son, and in the evening, we see that he has died. We go to bury him, returning home as if nothing has happened, with calm hearts.
وكان يحي بن معاذ يقول : من أقر لله بإسائته جاد الله عليه بمغفرته ، ومن لم يمن على الله بطاعته اوصله إلى جنته ، ومن أخلص لله في دعوته منَّ الله عليه بإجابته . وقال علي رضي الله عنه : ارفعوا أفواج البلايا بالدعاء . عن أنس رضي الله عنه برفعه : لا تعجزوا عن الدعاء فإنه لن يهلك مع الدعاء أحد. (مستطرف) جـ 2 ، صـ 361
If a person confesses his bad deeds before the Most High, then the Most High becomes generous to that person, washing away his sins.
Truly, if a person see his sins and confesses of them before the Most High, that in itself is Tauba (repentence). If a person does not demand from the Most High blessings for his service and worship and does not consider them to be great, nor extol them, then such a person Allah will enter into Paradise. If the intentions of the person-slave saying a prayer to the Most High are clean, then Allah will gift him of His mercy, answering the prayer. Ashab Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) says “Divert harm with prayer!” Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) also tells us “Don’t slacken in your prayers! Whoever is with prayer will never vanish(i.e. will not die)”
Hikayat about how to make Dua
One group of pilgrims was caught up in the recitation of dua, humbling themselves before the Most High. Amongst them was a person who couldn’t recite the prayer (maybe he didn’t know Arabic in order to read the dua). That pilgrim from Turkmenistan stayed silent. Saddened by that, he turned to the Most High in his own language with this supplication: “Oh My Allah, you see and know that I don’t have the ability to pronounce this prayer and that I’m weak. I pray to you for what these pilgrims are asking”. Thereafter, one of the righteous people of this group saw in a dream, that the Most High, answering the prayer of this person who didn’t know Arabic, accepted the Hajj of the whole group of pilgrims, of which the Turkmen was a part.
From this, a wise person will understand who is worthy of making Dua, and will likewise understand that useless is a prayer made in Arabic by an eloquent mouth but a deaf heart, especially when it is so long that it aggravates everybody.
وقيل : ادعوا بلسان الذلة والاحتقار ولا تدعوا بلسان الفصاحة والانطلاق وكانوا لا يزيدون في الدعاء على سبع كلمات
One wise person teaches us: “Pray to the Most High with the language of a poor, humble, non-proud person, and don’t lengthen your prayer with eloquence.”
The great ‘arifs of the past had the habit of making a prayer from 7 phrases, not more, if it was intended for the general public. It’s a different issue when there is one person reciting the dua or it is being made for a specific group of people.
One time, Ibrahim ibn Adham, about whom was mentioned above, set out on a journey on a ship. Suddenly a strong wind kicked up and a storm began. The people on the ship began to scream and cry and lost hope of being saved. Ibrahim, who was napping, was woken up by their shouts. At that moment he sat up and turned to the Most High: “Oh Lord you’ve shown your greatness to convince those who were unsure and did not believe. Now show your mercy!” Immediately the wind subsided and the sea became calm.
An explanation of how dua can avert or change the decision of Allah.
عن أبي عبد الله رضي الله عنه قال : الدعاء يرد القضاء بعد ما ابرم ابراما كثيرا فاكثروا من الدعاء فإنه مفتاح كل رحمة ، ونجاح كل حاجة ، وما ينال ما عند الله إلا بالدعاء . وليس باب يكثر قرعه إلا يوشك أن يفتح لصاحبه . (كنوز الامان) صـ7
Prayer can avert a decision about destiny made by the Most High, although, as we said earlier, the decision is definite and unchangeable. Pray abundantly, as prayer is the key to all of God’s graces and success in all desires. By nothing else other than prayer can one achieve their goal or receive that which Allah might give. If you constantly knock on a door, it will eventually open.
و معنى كونه مبرما متقن محكم لا انه لا يغير اذ ذاك لا ينفع فيه الدعاء.( كنوز الامان) الدعاء يرد البلاء إذ لولا أراد الله رده ما فتح له باب الدعاء
The word Mubramun does not mean “unchanging”, it means “qualified”.
If the Most High did not want to avert harm, He would not have opened the gates of prayer for His slave, and would not have given him the strength (tawfiq) to pray.
و حكي أن رجلا كان يعبد الله تعالى في الزمن الأول ...الخ . بهامش ((كنوز الامان)) نقلا من كتاب ((مصباح الضلام)) جـ 1 ، صـ5
Amongst the previous communities there was a person, who constantly and honestly worshipped Allah. The Archangel Jibreel (peace be upon him) was astonished by that. He asked the permission of the most High to visit that person. Allah allowed it and told Jibreel (peace be upon him) to look at the Lawh ul Mahfuz on the way. Jibreel (peace be upon him) took a look and found the name of the person amongst the ashqiya. Having met the person, Jibreel (peace be upon him) told him his name can be found amongst the ashqiya. That person said “Alhamdulilah!” Jibreel (peace be upon him) thought that the person hadn’t heard him and repeated what he had said. The person, however, again said the same thing and added “praise be to Allah, if I did not deserve it, then Allah would not have made me one of them, praise be to Allah in misfortune and in happiness!” Again Jibreel (peace be upon him) was surprised by his Ikhlas. The Most High said to Jibreel (peace be upon him) “Look into the Lawh again”. When Jibreel (peace be upon him) looked again, the name of that person was amongst the Su`aad, those who had stood on the straight path.
Now look, who knows which of those two decisions is Qazaun Mubram (unchangable predestination) in relation to this person?
قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((السعيد قد يشقى والشقي قد يسعد)) ، فإذا غلبت الحسنات يكون سعيدا وإذا غلبت السيئات يكون شقيا، وأما المقدور في الأزل من السعادة والشقاوة لكل أحد جامع. (كنوز الامان) صـ27
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “One who is sa`eed may become shaqi, and one who is shaqi may become sa`eed. The one who has more good deeds may become sa`eed. The one who has more bad deeds may become shaqi. However, there always remains with that person that primordial destiny, which was already determined in the Azal, be it happy or miserable, in other words, how it will end, we don’t know.”
قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: (السعيد سعيد في بطن أمه ، والشقيّ شقيّ في بطن أمه ). فليس لأحد فيه بحث لأنه من سرّ القدر ولا يجوز أن يحتجّ بسرّ القدر لأنه لا يعلم إلا بالنسبة لما مضى ، وإنما اللازم علينا السعي في أسباب الخروج من الشقاوة
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also says: “Every person, while still in their mother’s womb, before their appearance on the earth, is either happy or miserable.” Nobody has the right to argue about that, since that is the mystery in the decisions of [people’s] destinies which are determined by the Most High. It is not allowed to argue about destiny and its mystery. Remember Iblis, he argued about his destiny that was appointed to him by Allah, and for that was deprived of His mercy. Again, think about the destiny of the prophet Adam (peace be upon him): he admitted his guilt and asked the Most High to forgive him and the Lord accepted his tawba.
واعلم أن تبديل الشقاوة إلى السعادة أو عكسه يكون بالتربية كما قال النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام : (( كل مولود يولد على الفطرة ولكن أبواه يهوّدانه وينصّرانه ويمجّسانه )) . والحديث يدل على كل واحد قابليّة السعادة والشقاوة فلا يجوز أن يقال هذا الرجل سعيد محض وشقي محض ، بل يجوز أن يقال : سعيد إذا غلبت حسناته وكذا عكسه...الخ . ((كنوز الامان)) صـ28
The Prophet (peace be upon him) in another hadeeth says the following: “Every child is born in Islam, rather, when he appears on earth he is ready to accept Islam. Nonetheless, his parents raise him, and through them he becomes a Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian.” In other words, it depends on the parents, whether or not his happiness will turn into miserableness, or if, conversely, his miserableness will turn into happiness, that is the meaning of the hadeeth. It is impossible to definitively say about a person whether he is happy or miserable. However, if a person has many good deeds, it is fair to assume that he is happy. Conversely, if a person has a lot of bad deeds, one can assume that he is miserable. It is not a testimony about him as a person. It is only an appraisal of the person by his character, in as much as a bad person is distinguished from a good person by his actions, as is normal for us. The Most High promised good righteous people heaven, and the godless, the lost, and the apostates - hell. Thus in the Qur’an the righteous are praised and the bad are censured. We, probably, can call good people those who do good deeds, and, conversely, call bad the performers of evil deeds, InshaAllah!
قال الشيخ أبو عبد الله في ((الدّرر النظيم في خواص القرآن العظيم)) ما لفظه : ان العبد إذا كان دائم الذكر والدعاء والتضرع إلى الله فإن الملائكة تحفظه من جميع المكاره ، فإذا جاءه ضرر ومكروه من أحد منعته الملائكة وصدت عن وجهه المكاره ، ولا يزال محفوظا من جميع الجهات إلا من جهة الفوق فإن القدر والقضاء نازلان منه...الخ . ((كنوز الامان)) صـ16
If a person is constantly worshipping Allah, imploring Him, saying zikr and prayers, then such a person is protected from peril, no matter who or where it may come from or what kind it may be, except for that, which comes from the heavens. The angels don’t stand between a person and harm which comes from the heavens above. From such harm a slave must protect himself with his own good deeds. How? [one may ask]. Every person has their own particular path to heaven from which his good deeds ascend, goodness comes to him, and his soul is raised after his death. If that slave is always in the worship of God and prays a lot and with his good actions improves that very path, which is filled with all that goodness, then the stream of peril from above will not remain. Just as cars fill the road in unilateral traffic, and there is no way for a car coming from the opposite direction to move... the road is closed. The same way, a slave with his good deeds and prayers closes the way for peril coming from the heavens, that is to say, the harm can’t find a way to him. Dua stands against the harm, like a friend who comes out to fight against another, defending his friend. About that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said the following:
قال عليه الصلاة والسلام : ((لا يزال البلاء والدعاء يقتتلان إلى يوم القيامة))، فهذا معنى كون الدعاء سببا لردّ البلاء
“The dua of a slave and the harm seeking to overtake him are in a constant battle until the coming of the day of judgement, just as two people fight with one another.” Sometimes prayer beats the harm and the harm recedes, but it happens, that sometimes the harm overcomes the prayer of a slave, and comes to him.
Accordingly, a believer who wants to get rid of the harm needs, as was mentioned above, to close the door to harm with his constant worship of God and his prayers.
In another hadeeth the prophet said:
((قال صلى الله عليه وسلم : ((البلاء يتعلق بين السمآء والأرض مثل القنديل ، فإذا سأل ربه العافية صرف الله عنه البلاء
“Peril hangs between heaven and earth, when a slave asks of the Most High, i.e., makes dua, that harm is averted from him.”
كان سيدي عليّ الخواص رحمه الله يقول : من أراد أن يسأل الله تعالى شياء فليكثر من الاستغفار ثم يدعو فإن الاستغفار في الأعمال كالعينين في الرأس ، ومن خطر له في نفسه في وقت من الأوقات أنه مستغن عن الاستغفار أو ثقل على لسانه فليعلم أن ذلك من استحواذ على قلبه . ((كنوز الامان)) صـ13
There was a person by the name of `Aliunil Khavas who could not read or write, but he was an ‘arif of a very high level. “If someone wants to ask the Most High for something, then, before turning to Him, let him do istighfar often, and only then ask Him for what he wants.” Of all the good deeds, istighfar is as essential for a person as his eyes. If a person, at any particular time thought that he has made enough istighfar, and that he does not need istighfar, or it seems to him that it is hard to do, then that person must know that Satan has prevailed over him and covered his heart.
One great wali once asked the Most High: “O Allah, show me where Satan sits in the heart of a person.” After sometime, he saw a person in a dream with a body that looked like a white precious stone. Having looked at him from the outside, he could see everything inside of him. He saw that between his shoulder blades on his back iblis was sitting in the form of a frog. He could see that Satan had thrust his long skinny nose into the heart of the person in order to inseminate doubts in that person. When that person remembered Allah or made istighfar and tawba, the accursed pulled his sharp nose out of him, and when that person would again fall into carelessness, Satan would again thrust it into his heart.
عن جابر بن عبد الله عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : (( يدعو الله بالمؤمن يوم القيامة حتى يوقفه بين يديه فيقول الله تعالى : عبدي إني أمرتك بالدعاء ووعدتك أن استجيب لك )) ... الخ
The Most High on the day of judgement will ask the believing slave standing before Him: “Oh my slave, it was my commandment that you make dua and that you ask of Me, and I promised that I would answer. Did you make dua and ask of Me?” “Yes Lord I asked” - the slave will answer. The Most High again will say to him “Well then, My slave, not once did I not answer your request. One day you asked Me to free you from sadness, didn’t I do that?” The slave will answer “Yes Lord, You did that, I asked, You answered, and You freed me from sadness.” Again the Most High will say “I have answered your prayer with a goodly blessing equal to it, while still on earth, and it was fulfilled.” Allah will further say to his slave “You had beseeched me one day to take away such and such grief. I did not answer and did not take the grief away. Do you know about that?” The slave will say “Yes Lord, I asked about that but You didn’t answer me”. To this the Lord will answer “In answer to that prayer, which I did not answer in that life, today in heaven blessings have been assigned to you.” And He will recount the heavenly blessings. Thus, the Most High will recount to that believing slave all his requests and prayers with which he turned to Him during his whole life on earth. He recalls all the prayers which he answered on earth giving His mercy. However, when the Most High recalls all those prayers which had not been answered on earth, and recounts the blessings in Paradise which had been prepared for them, the believing slave will sigh saying “It would be better if You had not answered a single prayer of mine on earth.”
An Amazing Story
روي أن ملكين التقيا في السماء الرابعة فقال لأحدهما صاحبه: إلى أين تقصد...الخ . ((موعظة حسنة)) ، صـ296
On the fourth heaven, two angels met. One asked the other “where are you headed, and what are you going for?” “I am going to fulfill one extraordinary assignment that has been given to me” said the other, and he told him about the assignment. “There is a Jew in one city who is dying, and he wanted some fish. There isn’t any of the kind of fish he wanted in the river that flows by there. I have been instructed to find that kind of fish, throw it in the river, and make it so that it gets caught by a fisherman. Then, in that way, the fish must be gotten to the dying Jew.” For what reason did that need to be done? For all the good deeds done by that Jew, the Most High repaid him while still on this earth, except for one deed. For that one deed, He wanted to grant him goodness while still in this world, before his death.
Hence, even for the smallest deeds, Allah accordingly blesses a disbeliever while still in this life, without postponing his recompense until the Akhirah.
Having told of the Jew, the angel asked another “where are you headed?” That one answered “I am also going to fulfill an assignment even more extraordinary than yours.” He then narrated the following: “in one city a believer is dying, and he wanted to drink milk. All his sins and bad deeds which were committed by him throughout his life have been forgiven thanks to all the hardship, sadness, and adversity he went through, except for one bad deed. I am going to pour out the milk so that it doesn’t reach this dying man. After having punished him in this way, he will be forgiven for this sin. In other words, he will be saddened by the fact that his dying wish was not fulfilled, and that sadness will become the absolution for that sin. That means, that in the Akhirah not one sin of his will be left and he will not be subjected to torment.
Thus does the Most High purify good, believing, God fearing people from their sins in this life and forgives them by sending upon them hardship and sadness as a punishment, so that, having purified them, He can take them into the after life without them being touched by the agony of hell.
In the following ayah it likewise says:
“Who ever committed a bad deed, he will be recompensed according to that deed”. (Close Meaning)
In other words, a disbeliever will definitely receive this recompense in the Akhirah, while the punishment for a believing disobedient person, if he dies not having made tawba, depends on the Most High: by His will, He may subject him to punishment, or He may forgive him.
When this ayah was sent down, the companion Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) “O Messenger of Allah! (peace and blessings be upon him) Who among us does not commit bad deeds?” Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) spoke about the same saying “When this ayat was sent down we all got sad and cried”. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) answered Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him):
((فقال عليه الصلاة والسلام : ((أما تحزن أما تمرض أما يصيبك البلاء))؟ قال: بلى يا رسول الله . قال: ((هو ذلك
“Aren’t you ever overtaken by grief? Don’t you get sad and sick?” “Yes that happens oh Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)!” The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said “all that is a remission of your sins”. In another riwayah (version) the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him):
فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((اما أنت وأصحابك المؤمنون فتجزون بذلك في الدنيا حتى تلقوا الله وليس عليكم ذنوب ، وأما الآخرون فيجمع لهم ذلك ليجزوا به يوم القيامة)) . ((صاوي)) صـ 247 ، جـ1
“To you and your companions - all the believers - is a punishment proportionate to your sins and deeds in this life, so that afterwards you will meet with Allah in the Akhirah pure of sins. But for the disbelievers the punishment is left for the Akhirah.”
وروى جعفر بن محمد رضي الله عنه قال : عجبت لمن ابتلي بأربع كيف يغفل عن أربع ، عجبت لمن ابتلي بالهم كيف لا يقول لا إله إلا أنت سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين ، لأن الله تعالى يقول : فاستجبنا له ونجيناه من الغم وكذلك ننجي مؤمنين . وعجبت لمن يخاف شيئا كيف لا يقول حسبي الله ونعم الوكيل ...اخ وعجبت لمن خاف الناس كيف لا يقول : وأفوّض أمري إلى الله إن الله بصير بالعباد... اخ وعجبت لمن رغب في الجنة كيف لا يقول : ما شاء الله لا قوة إلا بالله . ((بستان العارفين
I won’t translate these Arabic sayings so as to not prolong the discussion. I will just tell of the purpose.
It is very desirable for a person who has been overcome by grief to say:
(لا إله إلا أنت سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين)
The person who fears something should say:
(حسبي الله ونعم الوكيل)
One who is fearful of people should say:
(وأفوض أمري إلى الله إن الله بصير بالعباد)
One who hopes to go to heaven should say:
(مَا شَاءَ اللهُ لاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللهْ)
قال بعض المتقدمين : من تضافرت عليه النعم فليكثر من الحمد لله ومن كثر همه فليكثر الاستغفار ، ومن ألحّ عليه الفقر فليكثر من قول لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله
If a person receives a lot of blessings and wealth from the Most High, let him often and abundantly thank Allah. He needs to say “Alhamdulilah!” many times. Whoever has a lot of grief and sadness, let him make a lot of tawba, that is, say “Astaghfirullah!” Whoever is poor and needy “Let him often say “la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah!”
From the book “Motivation to Give Heed to the Call of the Qur’an”, by the venerable Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi.