Just as our salah will not be accepted unless we meet certain pre-conditions such as wudhu, facing qiblah, covering our awrah etc, similarly our du’a will not be accepted unless certain prerequisites are met. These are as follows:
THE REALISATION THAT ONLY ALLAH RESPONDS TO DU’A:
This is the essence of tawheed. A person must fully believe that only Allah is capable of hearing their prayer, and that only Allah can grant their desires. Allah tells us:
“Who (else is there) that responds to the call of the one in distress when he calls out, and He removes evil (from him), and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there any god besides Allah? Little is it that you remember!”
This is why du’a is the greatest form of worship, and if directed to other than Allah, the greatest form of shirk as well.
SINCERITY IN DU’A TO ALLAH ALONE:
When we realise that only Allah can respond to our du’a, the logical consequence is that we pray to Him alone. There are many verses in the Qur’an that testify to this such as:
“And Verily the mosques are for Allah alone, so do not call upon anyone besides Him!”
“And those who you ask besides Him can neither come to your aid, nor can they help themselves.”
TO PERFORM TAWASSUL PROPERLY:
Tawassul is the seeking of Allah’s help and response through certain acts. In other words, the person making du’a uses tawassul to increase the chances of their du’a being accepted. It is performed by mentioning Allah’s Names and Attributes, or by mentioning a good deed that a person has done, or by asking a living pious person to make du’a on your behalf, or by showing your own humility and faults before Allah, all praises and glory be to Him.
LACK OF HASTINESS:
To be hasty in one’s prayer can become the cause of rejection of the du’a. Abu Hurayrah, RadhiAllahu Anhu, narrated that the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“The du’a of any worshipper will continue to be responded to, as long as he does not ask for a sin or breaking the ties of kinship, and as long as he is not hasty.”
It was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah? And what does it mean to be hasty?’ He, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, responded:
“A worshipper says, ‘I have prayed and prayed, and I don’t see that it will be accepted’, so he gives up hope of being answered, and leaves du’a.”[Recorded in Muslim]
This does not mean however that we should not pray for our du’a to be answered quickly, as this has been authentically narrated from the sunnah.
DU’A FOR THINGS THAT ARE GOOD:
For our du’a to be answered, it is essential that it is for something pure and good.
TO HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS:
It is essential that when we are making du’a, we have good intentions for whatever we are asking for. So, if for example, we ask for an increase in wealth, we should intend to spend this wealth in a halal manner. It is not permissible for a Muslim to ask Allah for something in order to do evil with it.
THE PRESENCE OF AN ATTENTIVE HEART:
The whole point of du’a is to call out with sincerity to our Creator. Sincerity cannot be achieved if we call out heedlessly or without earnestness to Allah. The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“Make du’a to Allah in a state that you are certain that your du’a will be responded to, and know that Allah does not respond to a du’a that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart.”[Recorded in al-Tirmindhi]
It is not befitting therefore to call out to Allah using memorised sentences that you do not understand in a neglectful manner.
PURITY OF ONE’S SUSTENANCE:
For our du’a to be accepted, our food, drink clothing and all things that sustain us must be lawful. The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, told us in a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim, of a traveller who has been on a long journey and is dishevelled and dusty, and he stretches forth his hands to the sky, saying, “O my Lord! O my Lord!” – while his food, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully. How can he be answered? He cannot. His unlawful sustenance prevents his du’a being answered.
PRAYER UPON THE PROPHET, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam:
It is recommended to pray upon the Prophet SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, in every du’a. He, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:
“A messenger came to me from my Lord and said, ‘There is no worshipper who prays upon you once, except that Allah will pray upon him ten times!”[Recorded in al-Tirmidhi]
THAT DU’A DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT:
Du’a is one of act of worship that does not have a specific time in which it has to be performed. It is therefore not recommended to perform it at a time when one should be performing another act of worship that does have a stated time, such as salat. So if you hear the call to prayer, respond to it and pray salat in the masjid with the other believers, do not make the excuse that you are making du’a at home, and therefore cannot respond to the call. Likewise if you are making du’a, and your parents call out to you for assistance, then responding to your parents takes precedence over du’a.