The scholar of Hadith Husayn Al-Awaishah mentions some of the benefits of practicing Ikhlaas in his book Kitab Al-Ikhlaas. Ikhlaas is sincerity to Allah in everything we do.
1. The Muslim Ummah will be victorious, for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, which translated means, “Allah only gives victory to this nation because of its weak ones, because of their du’a, prayer and Ikhlaas.” (At-Targhib wa At-Tarhib)
2. Acquiring safety from Allah’s punishment and wrath in the Hereafter. Allah said about some people who observe Ikhlaas, which translated means:
“And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the poor, the orphan, and the captive. (Saying), ‘We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you. Verily, we fear from our Lord a Day, hard and distressful, that will make the faces look horrible (from extreme dislikeness to it).’ So Allah saved them from the evil of that Day and gave them Nadhratan (a light of beauty) and joy. And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient.” (Qur’an, 76:8-12)
3. Protection from falling into misguidance. Allah mentions how he protected Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him):
“Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of our Mukhlasin (chosen, guided persons who observe Ikhlaas with Allah).” (Qur’an, 12:24)
4. Being blessed with Hudaa (right guidance), as Allah said, which translated means:
“Truly! They were young men who believed in their Lord (Allah), and We increased them in guidance.” (Qur’an, 18:13)
5. Residents of the heavens and earth will love those who observe Ikhlaas. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, which in translation means, “When Allah loves a slave, He summons Jibreel, saying, ‘Allah, the Exalted, loves Fulan (such and such person), so love him,’ and Jibreel will love him. Then he calls upon the inhabitants of the heaven, ‘Allah loves such and such person, so love him’, and the inhabitants of the heaven will love him. Then acceptance (honor, content, love, etc.) will be sent down (and spread up) on earth for him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
6. Achieving tranquillity in the heart and feeling joy, content, and elation, for Allah said, which in translation means, “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
7. Faith will be endeared to the sincere ones, while wickedness will be made hateful to them. Allah said, which in translation means:
“And know that among you there is the Messenger of Allah. If he were to obey you (follow your opinions and desires) in much of the matter, you would surely be in trouble, but Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness, and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger) hateful to you. These! They are the rightly guided ones.” (Qur’an, 49:7)
We have mentioned before how Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was made to hate illegal sexual intercourse, disbelief, and wickedness, and how Iman was made beautiful to him, that he preferred staying in jail rather than falling into illegal sexual intercourse and sin.
8. Insha Allah, Ikhlaas will guide one to choose the rightly-guided company of those who observe Ikhlaas. The best example for this subject is that the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) were friends with each other as they were friends with the Messenger, and who can find a better company than the Prophet and his companions?
9. Enduring all types of hardships in this life with patience. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and his companions were excellent in this type of behavior, for they endured and were patient in the face of all kinds of hardships, and the proof to this better behavior is detailed amply in their seerah.
10. Acquiring the good end, as is evident from the story of the man who had killed 99 people, but then sought to repent of his crimes. This person’s Ikhlaas in seeking forgiveness from Allah guided him until he died while his heart was returning back to Allah.
11. Du’a will be accepted, as is evident from the story of the young boy, the wizard, and the priest. Another example of this is the story of the three men trapped in the cave (who make du’a to Allah with deeds they did sincerely for His sake), This, indeed, is a vast subject with numerous examples testifying to the fact that Ikhlaas is an essential ingredient that ensures the acceptance of du’a.
12. Being rewarded in the grave, and receiving the glad tidings of the joy and happiness that those who had Ikhlaas will enjoy in the grave and in the Hereafter. The Hadith by Al-Baraa’ Bin Azib describes how one’s good deeds will come in the shape of a handsome man, wearing nice clothes and whose scent is pleasing, saying, “I am your good deeds.”
IMAM Ibn Al-Qayyim (Allah’s mercy on him) said: Du’aa and ta’awwudhat (prayers seeking refuge with Allah) are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is strong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can lay waste the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, then the effect will be lacking accordingly.”
From this, it will be clear that there are etiquette and rulings that must be fulfilled in the Du’aa and in the person making the Du’aa. There are also things that may prevent the Du’aa reaching Allah or being answered these things must be removed from the person making the Du’aa and from the Du’aa. When all of the following conditions are fulfilled, then the Du’aa may be answered.
– Sincerity in making Du’aa. This is the most important condition. Allah has commanded us to be sincere when making Du’aa.
Sincerity in Du’aa means having the firm belief that the One upon Whom you are calling (Allah, may He be glorified and exalted) is alone able to meet your need, and it also means avoiding any kind of showing off in your Du’aa.
– Repentance and turning back to Allah. Sin is one of the main reasons why Du’aas are not answered, so the person who is making Du’aa should hasten to repent and seek forgiveness before he makes Du’aa. Allah tells us that prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) said:
“I said (to them): Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” (Nuh 71: 10-12)
– Beseeching, humbling oneself, hoping for Allah’s reward and fearing His punishment. This is the spirit, essence, and purpose of Du’aa. Allah says: Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors. (Al-A’raf 7: 55)
– Urgently beseeching and repeating the Du’aa without getting exasperated or bored; this is achieved by repeating the Du’aa two or three times. Restricting it to three times is preferable, in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) liked to say a Du’aa three times and ask for forgiveness three times. This was narrated by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i.
– Making Du’aa at times of ease, and saying more Du’aas at times of plenty (of wealth). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Remember Allah during times of ease and He will remember you during times of hardship.” (Ahmad)
– Seeking to draw closer to Allah by calling upon Him by His Most Beautiful Names and Sublime Attributes at the beginning of the Du’aa or at the end. Allah says: “And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them . . . ” (Al-A’raf 7: 180)
– Choosing the clearest and most concise words and the best of Du’aas. The best of Du’aas are those of the Prophet (peace be upon him), but it is permissible to say other words according to the specific needs of a person.
Other aspects of the etiquette of making Du’aa, although they are not obligatory, are: to face the Qiblah; to make Du’aa in a state of purity; to start the Du’aa with praise of Allah and blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is also prescribed to raise the hands when making Du’aa.
One of the things that help to bring a response to Du’aa is to seek the best times and places. Among the best times is the time just before Fajr (dawn), the last third of the night, the last hour of Jumu’ah (Friday), when rain is falling, and between the adhan and iqamah. Among the best places are mosques in general, and Al-Masjid Al-Haram [in Makkah] in particular.
Among the situations in which Du’aa is more likely to be answered are: when one is mistreated or oppressed, when one is traveling, when one is fasting, when one is in desperate need, and when a Muslim makes Du’aa for his brother in his absence.
Things which may prevent Du’aa from being answered include:
– When the Du’aa is weak in itself, because it involves something inappropriate, or involves bad manners towards Allah, may He be exalted, or it is inappropriate, which means asking Allah for something which it is not permitted to ask, e.g. when a man asks to live forever in this world, or he asks for a sin or something haram, or he prays that he will die, and so on. Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “A person’s Du’aa will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.” (Muslim)
When the person who is making Du’aa is weak in himself because he is faint-hearted in his turning towards Allah. This may be either because of bad manners towards Allah, 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 Allah; 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.
– The reason why his Du’aa is not answered maybe because he has done something that Allah has forbidden, such as having unlawful wealth, whether it be food or drink or clothing or accommodation or transportation, or he has taken an unlawful 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.
– Consuming unlawful wealth. This is one of the major reasons why Du’aas are not answered. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“O people, Allah is Good and only accepts that which is good. Allah commanded the pious to follow the same commandments as He gave to the Messengers. He says: [O ye messengers! Eat of the Taiyyabat [all kinds of Halal foods which Allah has made lawful . . .” (Al-Mu’minun 23: 51). Then he mentioned a man who has traveled on a long journey and is disheveled and covered with dust; he stretches forth his hands to the heaven, (saying) “O Lord, O Lord”, but his food is haram (unlawful), his drink is haram, all his nourishment is haram, so how can his Du’aa be accepted? (Muslim)
The man described by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had some of the characteristics which help Du’aas to be answered – he was traveling and he was in need of Allah, may He be exalted and glorified – but the fact that he consumed haram wealth prevented his Du’aa from being answered. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound.
– Trying to hasten the response. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The Du’aa of any one of you, will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says not, I made Du’aa but it was not answered.‚” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
– Making the Du’aa conditional, such as saying, “O Allah, forgive me if You will” or “O Allah, have mercy upon me if You will.” The person who makes Du’aa has to be resolute in his supplication, striving hard and earnestly repeating his Du’aa. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Let not any one of you say, O Allah, forgive me if You will, O Allah, have mercy on me if You will. Let him be resolute in the matter, whilst knowing that no one can compel Allah to do anything.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In order for Du’aa to be answered, it is not essential to adhere to all of these points and be free of all that could prevent one’s Du’aa from being answered. That is something which happens very rarely. But one has to try hard and strive towards achieving this.
Another important point is to realize that the response to the Du’aa may take different forms: either Allah will respond and fulfill the desire of the person who made the Du’aa, or He will ward off some evil from him because of the Du’aa, or He will make something good easy for him to attain because of it, or He will save it with Him for him on the Day of Resurrection when he will be most in need of it.
I was speaking to a young man recently and during the conversation, I heard him say, “I don’t make dua’ anymore.” I asked him, “Why not?” and he replied, “I made dua’ for some things and I never got them so I just gave up!” I asked him if he was happy in his life, he said, “Not really.” Then I asked him if he felt he needed the mercy of Allah in his life, and at that, he replied very enthusiastically, “Of course I do!”
Now this made me think very deeply about some things in life. Is it right that we (mankind in general) go on expecting things from our Creator while we sit down passively, mostly just observing life and hardly doing anything for anyone else unless it somehow fits in with our scheme of things?
Is it right if you, as an individual, want something from your parents but you’re doing and saying things they do not like, going out without their permission, dressing in an unacceptable way, not pulling your weight around the house, and so on, then you just come right out and ask for money, or new clothes, or whatever, and then grumble when they refuse, and perhaps adding how unfair life is and how very unreasonable they are?
Let’s look at it another way. Imagine you had someone you called your friend but this person spoke badly about you behind your back, took your stuff without permission, and only came hanging around when he wanted something — then one day he comes to you and asks a big favor. Most likely you would tell him to forget it and simply ignore him if he started complaining.
So we all acknowledge that on the human level life is a matter of give-and-take; it’s a matter of rights and responsibilities.
What about your relationship with your Creator? Is it right that we enjoy the bounty of this marvelous creation and, even though everything was created for the benefit of man, we go ahead and make use of things for our own benefit and comfort without thinking of others? Is it right to fail to give others their rights and expect our rights, and often fail to take care of the creation that Allah provided for us?
How often do you use things that you know will pollute the environment — the same environment that Allah created for you? Dropping litter, using chemicals, and generally tapping into the wasteful and excessive way of life in the modern world, without really thinking seriously about your responsibility to yourself, those around you, the world, and your Creator. Then when you get sick because of the polluted and chemical-filled environment, you turn in desperation to the Lord of all asking for help and healing. Then as soon as you are well again, you go back to the old habits of misusing, if not destroying, the environment. How Merciful Allah is! Even though you keep making the same mistakes, even though you misuse yourself, others, and the world around you, He still comes to your aid! He, the Almighty, gives you enough opportunity to change, to see the errors of your ways, and to make a fresh start.
Have you ever noticed how your body heals as does the environment? So where is your place in all this? A person can drink alcohol and abuse his body until he gets liver disease — and then blame fate! Likewise, a person could neglect the rights of his family and even abuse them when he is in the prime of his life and filled with strength, but when he gets old and is left alone and feeling lonely, he curses life and complains how difficult life is! Do you find that you sometimes do things like this?
Have you ever passed by a river that is polluted and said how awful it is that “mankind” destroys nature? But then haven’t you ever tipped chemicals down the sink that end up in the river system, and somewhere along the line, contributed to this awful state of pollution? What I want to say is that you have to be willing to take your responsibilities seriously. The first step is to realize that Allah has called upon mankind to be the caretakers of this world.
Allah the Almighty said: “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf ( i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden) and you believe in Allah…” (Qur’an 3:110)
You have to understand that the nature of this life is not just to make money and live a comfortable life of ease. You have to be willing to give: to give to those around you, your family and friends, and your communities; to participate in the voice of society that calls for justice; to speak out against violations against mankind and the earth. When toxic waste is dumped, what do you do? When logging companies are allowed to destroy one of the last remaining rainforests on earth, what do you do? When people are abused and oppressed, what do you do? If your answer is “nothing.” Then you should think again.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever, among you, sees something abominable should rectify it with his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of Faith. (Muslim)
Allah created us to worship Him, and a part of that worship is to keep within His boundaries — the rules He has provided us with, knowing full well that whatever He has ordered us to keep away from is in fact bad for us.
So imagine a person who is selfish, stubborn, and harsh. He couldn’t care less about the effects of dumping his factory’s toxic waste into any place convenient (for them). He lives his life trying to make more and more money and gathering up material wealth; he doesn’t really care whose head he steps on to get up the social ladder, and basically he doesn’t really care about anyone except himself. If such a person prays to the Creator of all-should he expects his dua’ to be answered? Listen to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about this:
“Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the Faithful to do that which He commanded the Messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do right.” And Allah the Almighty has said, “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you.” Then he mentioned the case of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying: O Lord! O, Lord! While his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered?” (Muslim)
What does Allah want from you? Remember He gave you your life, your family and friends, a series of situations, and all the creation around you. Do you think He gave you all this just for fun and games? Or to realize the reality, understand yourself and your role in life, and appreciate your Creator and spread the message of truth wherever you are?
The mercy of Allah is ever-present. It is you who must learn how to tap into that mercy and learn to live your life in a way that will make you deserving of that mercy. The same power that controls the universe promises to turn to you if you turn to Him! It’s like this because your Creator gave you freedom of choice, so you can try to face life either with His help or without it.
A true believer never gives up supplicating to his Lord and imploring Him for guidance. Almighty Allah teaches us to call upon Him and seek His forgiveness all the time. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah teaches us:
“Ask Allah of His bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things.” (An-Nisaa: 32)
Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states in his well-known book, Fiqh us-Sunnah:
‘Umar reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
If one completes (and perfects) the ablution and then says, “I testify that there is no god except Allah, the One Who has no partner and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger,” the eight gates of Paradise will be opened for him and he may enter any of them that he wishes’ (Muslim).
Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri reported that the Prophet said,
Whoever makes ablution and says,”Glory be to Thee, O Allah, and the praise be to Thee. I bear witness that there is no god except You. I beg Your forgiveness and I repent unto you,? will have it written for him, and placed on a tablet which will not be broken until the Day of Resurrection” (At-Tabarani).
An-Nasa’i has it with the wording
It will be stamped with a seal, placed below the throne, and it will not be broken until the Day of Resurrection.
As for the supplication,
Allah, cause me to be from among the repentant, and cause me to be from among the pure,
it has been narrated by At-Tirmidhi.