We are always in need of something or other – this is the nature of human beings, of all of creation in fact. There is only One who is self-sufficient, and that is Allah, Al-Ghani.
Allah has placed within us an unceasing dependency, in order to maintain a constant connection between us and our Lord.
Allah loves to hear from His servants, and He loves to answer them, and so Allah makes us needy so that we can turn to Him regularly.
When we are at school or university, the need for good grades and success in our exams often dominates our du’ a. After university it may be jobs, family, marriage, finances and health that are at the forefront of people’s du’ a. Allah answers and provides, again and again. But our needs never seem to end – we will always find something new to ask for.
And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as we keep asking from Allah and don’t depend on others. Indeed, the Prophet (saw) taught us, “du’a is worship” (tirmidhi), and he encouraged us to ask Allah for anything, even a shoe-lace or salt, for nothing is unimportant or too small for du’a. In fact it is Allah who inspires us to ask because He wants good for us.
But in the midst of making du’a, it’s also important to stop and reflect on how much Allah has already given us. To reflect on just how merciful and generous Allah has been to us throughout our lives. Look back on your life and think about all the things you have, the many things you have accomplished… do you remember the time when you used to ask for those same things in your d’ua, with so much earnestness and need?
And then Allah gave them to you. Getting through school or your degree seemed like an impossible task, and yet you graduated alhamdulillah! Maybe you were sick one time and just wanted to get better, and Allah restored your health. Maybe you always wanted to visit a particular place, and Allah enabled you to travel there. Maybe there was a time when you didn’t have good company, and then Allah sent righteous friends to support you. Maybe you were in debt, and Allah gave you the means to pay it off. Maybe you wanted to be a stronger Muslim, and Allah gave you challenges to overcome that brought you nearer to Him. The list goes on.
Often people will focus on the du’as they think haven’t been answered yet, without considering all those du’as that have already been granted. Have we given enough thanks for them? Indeed, can we ever give enough thanks?
Prophet Zakariyya (as) set a beautiful example when he asked Allah for a righteous child. He was elderly, and he and his wife still didn’t have any children. He could have focused on that one fact – how many years, how many decades in fact, must he have prayed for a child, and yet Allah didn’t grant it for him yet… but instead, look at what he says in his du’a:
“When he cried out to his Lord in private. He said, ‘My Lord! My bones have grown feeble and my head is glistening with age; yet, never have my prayers to You, my Lord, been unfruitful.'” (surah Maryam: 4-5).
SubhanAllah! Instead of questioning why his du’a hadn’t been answered, he celebrated the generosity of Allah and considered himself already blessed with abundance. This is the epitome of gratitude and humility; it shows a deep, loving relationship between a grateful servant and a generous Lord, where the servant has the best opinion of Allah and focuses on the positives.
We should aspire to do the same with our du’a – start off acknowledging the things you already have and the things that already give you happiness, before asking for the things (you think) you lack; thank Allah for those blessings in your life and ask Allah to preserve them. Doing so will mean your supplications come from a mentality of gratitude and contentment, rather than a mentality of scarcity or deprivation. And you will see how this changes your outlook on life and even your relationship with Allah, in a beautiful way inshaAllah.
May we follow the example of Prophet Zakariyya (as), and may Allah make us among those who are grateful.