If I told you that I can give you whatever you wish and allow you to have one week's time to decide what you want, will you plan for it?
I believe you will.
We plan for the things that are important in life, for the things we want most. From job interviews, to choosing spouses,going for Haj, to picking out furniture for the house, we plan for things that are important in our life.
So what about our du`a (supplication)?
Is not du`a a way to receive what we ask for? Allah (Allah Ta'ala) is the one that provides everything in our lives and asking Him is the most important thing we can do, but how often do we actually plan for it? Du`a too often becomes only a spur of the moment thing rather than a comprehensive list of things we wish for the most.
With Ramadan upon us, now is the best time to really put our minds to what we wish to ask the Creator of the heavens and the earth. I would like to share some ways to do so most effectively from my own personal experience.
Others Have Playlists, Muslims Have Praylists
For the past four years, before the beginning of every Ramadan, I have made a special, organized, and comprehensive list of du`a. The list would consist of 8 to 10 things that I desired the most, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Every day of Ramadan, I would pray for them at the times that supplication is most likely to be accepted. I call these my praylists.
As Muslims, we make du`a to Allah everyday. We make du`a right when we wake up, before every meal, every time we raise our hands and recite chapter Al-Fatihah, and so much more. Why then make a special list of du`a? Developing a praylist helps one focus and reflect.
Focusing on a specific list of du`a helps remind oneself of his/her needs and ambitions. By listing and repeating the items on the list, every single day, it not only assures that one does not forget all his wishes but it reinforces the pursuit of each one. For example, if I have always wanted to improve my tajweed (recitation of the Quran), by asking for help from Allah (Allah Ta'ala) to do so everyday encourages me to put my words into practice.
Reflection of du`as allows one to appreciate what Allah has granted him. I can personally attest to this. There have been items on my past praylists that have been answered in ways that I could never imagine. It's incredible. I look back and cannot believe I have received so many of the things I asked so desperately for. Allah (Allah Ta'ala) truly does not leave the hands of a believer empty when raised to Him.
The Time Is Now
Now that Ramadan is upon us again, I am excited to develop another praylist for the blessed month and I would love to encourage you all to do the same.
As an incentive, I remind myself and others, that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Allah is angry with those who do not ask Him for anything" (At Tirmidhi). Why make Him angry?
Here are effective ways to plan your du`a to make the best out of your praylist:
Write It All Down
Take some time to actually write out your praylist. Do so in a format which is most accessible for you to review. You can write them on a small piece of paper to place in your wallet or purse, or if you're like me, you can type them into your phone's notes application.
There shouldn't be any limit on the size of the list, as long as it is manageable. If the list is so long that it becomes a burden to repeat more than once a day, it's then best to shorten it.
If you are weary of writing out your praylist because you wish to keep some or the entire items private, you should still write it out but then only list keywords that remind you of each item.
Ask Anything & Everything That Is Good
When choosing your items, imagine that Allah is asking you to ask Him for anything and everything you've ever wanted! Imagine the possibilities. From self improvement, to material things, to bettering relationships in your life, write down everything you want to ask Allah with no limitations other than keeping each item halal (lawful). Remember, you're asking Al-Mujeeb! The one who responds and is the supreme answerer.
Learn Prophetic and Quranic du`as to include as well.
Organize items in your "praylist" into different categories. I use the categories: this world, hereafter, worship, Muslim community and relationships. Once each item is sorted, you'll notice that some categories may be lacking than others. Adjust and add du`as where necessary. This will ensure that your praylist is all encompassing of your needs.
Make Du`a When They Are Most Likely Answered
These times include right before breaking the fast, during your prayer in prostration, after the obligatory prayers, night prayer, and the last 10 nights. At the least, everyday of Ramadan, I always make sure to make du`a before breaking my fast during iftar.
Remember the Etiquettes of Du`a
There is a right and proper way to make du`a. Remember that we must praise Allah Ta'ala first, ask for peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad and then make our du`a.
So go on, take some time to think of what things you want the most. This time next year, you'll be surprised how many items on your list Allah Ta'ala has directly or indirectly granted you insha'Allah (Allah Ta'ala-willing).
I pray we all have a meaningful and successful Ramadan full of blessings. May Allah Ta'ala preserve us all to reap the benefits of such a Holy month and bring us closer to Him. May He give us all strength, knowledge, patience and humility. Ameen.