In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
There are many ways a Muslim can commit transgression or exaggeration in their supplications.
The most important principle of supplication is that we should emulate the supplications and prayers of the Messenger of Allah.
Abu Sulaiman, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
وَصَلُّوا كَمَا رَأَيْتُمُونِي أُصَلِّي
Pray as you have seen me praying.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 5662, Grade: Sahih
This includes the actions of the ritual prayer (as-salat) as well as our personal supplications (ad-dua).
We should be sure to always ask Allah for goodness and to avoid asking Allah for evil.
وَيَدْعُ الْإِنسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَاءَهُ بِالْخَيْرِ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ عَجُولًا
Mankind supplicates for evil as he supplicates for good, for man is ever hasty.
Surah Al-Isra 17:11
Whenever we make a supplication, the angels will make a similar supplication for us. If we ask for goodness then the angels supplicate for goodness, and if we ask for evil then the angels supplicate for evil.
Abu Ad-Darda, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَدْعُو لأَخِيهِ بِظَهْرِ الْغَيْبِ إِلاَّ قَالَ الْمَلَكُ وَلَكَ بِمِثْلٍ
There is no Muslim servant who supplicates for his brother behind his back except that the angel says: For you the same.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2732, Grade: Sahih
Therefore, we should never ask Allah to curse someone or to punish them in the Hellfire.
Samrah ibn Jundab, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
لَا تَلَاعَنُوا بِلَعْنَةِ اللَّهِ وَلَا بِغَضَبِهِ وَلَا بِالنَّارِ
Do not invoke the curse of Allah, or His wrath, or the Hellfire.
Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1976, Grade: Sahih
We should not ask Allah for inappropriate requests whether in this life or in the Hereafter.
Abdullah ibn Mughaffal, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: He heard his son supplicating, “O Allah, I ask you for the white palace on the right side of Paradise when I enter it.” Abdullah said: O my son, ask Allah for Paradise and seek refuge in Him from the Hellfire, for I heard the Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, say:
سَيَكُونُ قَوْمٌ يَعْتَدُونَ فِي الدُّعَاءِ
There will be some people who will transgress in supplication.
Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 3864, Grade: Sahih
Ibn Sa’d reported: His father Sa’d ibn Abu Waqqas heard him supplicating, “O Allah, I ask you for Paradise, its blessings, its pleasures, and such-and-such. I seek refuge in you from Hellfire, from its chains, from its collars, and from such-and-such.” Then his father said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, say:
سَيَكُونُ قَوْمٌ يَعْتَدُونَ فِي الدُّعَاءِ فَإِيَّاكَ أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ إِنَّكَ إِنْ أُعْطِيتَ الْجَنَّةَ أُعْطِيتَهَا وَمَا فِيهَا مِنْ الْخَيْرِ وَإِنْ أُعِذْتَ مِنْ النَّارِ أُعِذْتَ مِنْهَا وَمَا فِيهَا مِنْ الشَّرِّ
There will be people who will transgress in supplication, so beware not to be one of them. If you are granted Paradise, you will be granted all that is good therein, and if you are protected from the Hellfire, you will be protected from all that is evil therein.
Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 1480, Grade: Hasan
Whenever we need to make a worldly decision, we should perform the special prayer for guidance (salat al-istikharah). One of the most important aspects of this prayer is to qualify whatever we ask for in the world by asking for it only if it is good for us in this life and in the Hereafter.
Jabir ibn Abdullah, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي أَوْ قَالَ عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي أَوْ قَالَ فِي عَاجِلِ أَمْرِي وَآجِلِهِ فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِي الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ
O Allah, I seek guidance from your knowledge and power from your might, and I ask you from your tremendous favor. Verily, you have power and I do not have power, and you know and I do not know. You are the knowing of the unseen. O Allah, if you know that this matter is good for my religion and my livelihood and my ending, then decree it for me and make it easy for me and bless me in it. But if you know that this matter is evil for my religion and my livelihood and my ending, then divert it from me and keep me away from it, and decree for me what is good for me and make me content with it.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 1113, Grade: Sahih
We do not want to ask for only good in this life or only good in the Hereafter. Rather, we should ask Allah for both goodness in this life and in the Hereafter.
وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Our Lord, give us goodness in this world and goodness in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire.
Surah Al-Baqarah 2:201
Finally, we do not want to raise our voices so loudly when we supplicate, but rather we should supplicate quietly or silently within ourselves.
Abu Musa, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ فَإِنَّكُمْ لَا تَدْعُونَ أَصَمَّ وَلَا غَائِبًا وَلَكِنْ تَدْعُونَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
O people, be gentle with yourselves for you are not calling upon one who is deaf or absent. Rather, you are calling upon the Hearing, the Seeing.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 3910, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
The best practice for us is always to follow the Messenger of Allah’s, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, guidance in prayer and supplication. We should take his tradition (sunnah) as a model for us to emulate when we supplicate to Allah.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.