Explanation of the Duʿāʾ for Grief and Sorrow
Our noble brother, Abū ʿUways (may Allāh have mercy upon him), gives a beautiful explanation of the duʿāʾ for grief and distress, drawing upon a number of beneficial points which serve as a breath of fresh air to the troubled soul.
O Allāh, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand (i.e. You have total mastery over), Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qurʾān the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.’
Except that Allāh will remove his sadness grief and worry, and he will replace it with happiness.’ They (the Companions) said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! It befits us that we learn these words.’ He said ‘Yes, it befits the one who hears them to learn them.’1
- The First Principle: In this duʿāʾ he actualises the worship of Allāh alongside a total break down before Allāh; he lays himself before the door of Allāh. Ibn Qayyim uses this statement often, and in one of his works, he mentions the different ṣalawāt and acts of supererogatory prayers one can perform, and then states, ‘Performing these forty-one different ṣalawāt, do you think if somebody knocks on the door forty-one times, will it not open for him?’ Imām al-Shāfiʿī (raḥimahullāh) mentions 'Knock on the door of Allāh and soon it will open for you.'
They had this concept, break yourself down, humble yourself before Allāh, and it is not difficult to do once you realise the despicableness of yourselves compared to the Loftiness of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta ͑ālá). To break down in total humility and awareness, realising that the servant is created by Allāh, that he is owned by Alḷāh, and that he is brought into existence by Allāh. Not only is he is the servant of Allāh, but his father is a servant of Allāh and his mother is a servant of Allāh, beginning with his present mother and father all the way back to Ādam and Eve. This is actualised in this duʿāʾwhen he says,
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي عَبْدُكَ ابْنُ عَبْدِكَ ابْنُ أَمَتِكَ
'O Allāh, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your female servant…'
All of them, without exception, are possessions and servants owned by Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta ͑ālá), and He is the one who created them, and he is their Lord and Master and the one who runs their affairs; they have no self-sufficiency regarding themselves and are unable to do without Him even for the blinking of an eye, and there is no one that they can seek refuge with besides Allāh, no one who can protect them besides Allāh; and to actualise this, the servant sticks to the humility and servitude, the breaking down and repenting, and the returning and carrying out orders with the understanding that he is in total need of Allāh. Realising without any delusions that we are in reality totally poor, by our very essence we are poor and in need of Allāh, having nothing and possessing nothing except for what Allāh gives, indeed Allāh is Rich, free of all needs, and we are poor.
We must put this in our hearts when we supplicate to Allāh, when we pray in ṣalāh, when we place our heads in sujūd, do we actualise this? Do we seek refuge and trust and depend on Allāh so that the heart is not connected to other than Him out of love, hope and fear? This is what is supposed to be present in our hearts when we read this duʿāʾ.
- The Second Principle: the servant believes in the decree of Allāh, and whatever Allāh Wills will be and what He does not Will, will not be. This is a very important principle. No one is able to change His Will. Once He has ruled something no one can change it, and no one can push you away, or remove an affair which He has decreed.
Allāh says in Sūrah Fāṭir,
مَّا يَفْتَحِ اللَّـهُ لِلنَّاسِ مِن رَّحْمَةٍ فَلَا مُمْسِكَ لَهَا ۖ وَمَا يُمْسِكْ فَلَا مُرْسِلَ لَهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
‘Whatever of mercy (i.e.of good), Allāh may grant to mankind, none can withhold it, and whatever He may withhold, none can grant it thereafter. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’ [Sūrah Fāṭir: 35:2]
This principle has to be understood, because of this he stated in this du ͑ā:
نَاصِيَتِي بِيَدِكَ، مَاض ٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْل ٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤُكَ
‘My forelock is in Your hand, that which You rule will come to pass upon me, and Your decree upon me is just.’
So the forelock of the servant is the front of the servant’s head and it is in the Hands of Allāh, and He deals with it however He wants, makes any changes however He wants, and He judges regarding the servants in a manner He is pleased with; there is no one who can change His ruling or push away His decree. The life of the servant, his death, his happiness, his sadness, his good health, and his trials and tribulations, all of that is for Allāh. The servant has nothing to do with it.
When the servant believes that his forelock and the forelocks of all the other servants are in the Hands of Allāh, then there are only two issues here, al-Khāliq, The Creator, which is Allāh, and everything besides him is khalq, the created, all of that is in the Hands of Allāh alone. He deals with them as He wills. If the servant really believes this and actualises this, he will not fear anyone, except Allāh. He will not fear the creatures. The creatures intending to harm him or have evil intent towards him, then his forelock is in the Hands of Allāh, if this is the case, then he will not fear these creatures, or place his hope in them or place them in the position of owners, and he will not have his hopes and dreams connected to them or his future plans. Once that happens, then his tawḥīd will be straight and his dependence will be upon Allāh, and his servitude and slavery is to Allāh.
Hūd (ʿalayhi al-salām) said to his people,
إِنِّي تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ رَبِّي وَرَبِّكُم ۚ مَّا مِن دَابَّةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتِهَا ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
‘I put my trust in Allāh, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path (the truth).’ [Sūrah Hūd, 11:56]
This is the understanding of the Messengers of Allāh, a servant who knows Allāh, this is all contained in that one statement, ‘My forelock is in Your Hands’, this should be in the mind of servant when making this du ͑ā.
The statement, ‘Your rules are those which must come to pass on me.’ Then this encompasses two types of rules, the legislative Sharʿī rulings and the universal decreed rulings, all of them must come to pass upon on the servant whether he likes it or not, it does not matter, both of these rulings must come upon the person. A universal ruling is impossible to go against, and with regards to the legislative rulings, then these are possible to go against, but the servant will fall into punishment from Allāh. To clarify, the Shariʿī ruling pertain to those matters that have been legislated like al-Ṣalāh or the worship of Allāh in general, those who worship Allāh will be rewarded and those who do not will be punishment. The universal ruling you cannot go against; for example, like when you will die or how old you will be, or who your parents are; this is what is meant, they are from Allāh and they come to pass upon the servant.
'Your decree regarding me is just' means all the decrees and judgements of Allāh for the servant, so if Allāh has decreed His servant to be rich, then that is just; if He has decreed that His servant is poor then that just; if Allāh is to decree that a servant should have children, then that is just, if He decrees that the servant should be barren, then that is just; if He decrees that the servant should die in a particular time then that is just, or if he is to live for an extended period of time, then that is just; if He decrees that the servant should be punished, that is just. Every decree regarding me is just; if tomorrow you find me without legs, then that is just, if you find me having lost my eyesight, then that is just. If Allāh forgives a fault then that is just; whatever judgement is decreed upon the servant, then that is just and Allāh is not unjust to His servant; it is impossible. Do not have any doubts about this point; have no hesitation whatsoever in articulating this matter; have it inscribed upon your heart; it will help you in your dīn and all areas of your life. Allāh does not do any injustice to his servants.
The Third Principle: For the servant to believe in the glorious beautiful Names of Allāh and His great magnificent qualities that are present in the Book and the Sunnah, and use them as means to get closer to Allāh with these names and qualities, as Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta ͑āla) says in the Qur ͗ān,
قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّـهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَـنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى
‘Say (O Muḥammad): "Invoke Allāh or invoke the Most Gracious (Allāh), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.’ [Sūrah al-Isrá, 17: 110]
The greater the servant's recognition of the Names of Allāh, the more fear he will have of Allāh; look to how you found yourselves with regards to your fear of Allāh before you learnt tawḥīd and after learning tawḥid and Allāh's Names and Attributes with their meanings. When you become forgetful and neglectful, the less fear you will have, and the more you know His Names and their meanings, the more fearful and aware of the fact that Allāh is watching, and All-Knowing of you what you do.
And since he has more awareness and fear of Allāh, the further he is from seeing and falling into sin. Some of the Salaf used to say, 'The one who knows Allāh the most, he is the one who fears Allāh the most.' And because of this, the greatest thing the servant can use to kick away sorrow, pain, and sadness is knowing his Lord and letting this recognition take over his heart, and these Names and qualities appear in this duʿāʾ.
‘I ask you for every name you have named yourself or revealed in a book or have taught your creatures.’
This is one of the evidence used to show that the Names of Allāh exceed 99, because of what it says, but when it says 99 it means 'prepared for the one who memorises them, then implements them, [he] will enter Jannah'. If one says they have 80 Dirhams for a particular task, it does not mean he does not have more than that, and that is shown in this Ḥadīth. This is seeking nearness to Allāh by all of his Names, along with what the servant knows of those names and what he does not know, and this is the best of the means to Allāh.
- The Fourth Principle: it is to show concern for the Book of Allāh, the Speech of Allāh, which no falsehood can come from before it or behind it; that Book which is inclusive of guidance and healing and enough for the servant's well-being. The more concern he shows for the Qurʾān, the more happiness and success he will achieve, and serenity of the heart and removal of sadness, worry and grief is connected with the amount of concern he has with the Book of Allāh, because of this it is stated in the supplication, ‘Make the Qur ͗ān for me like the seasons of spring upon my heart, refreshment of my heart, the renewal of my heart and the light of my chest and removal of my grief and sadness.’
1 This is recorded in the Musnad of Imām Aḥmad and authenticated as Ṣaḥiḥ by Shaykh al-Albānī in his Aḥādith al-Ṣaḥīḥah No.199 and there is an explanation in al-Fawāʾid of Imām Ibn Qayyim (raḥimahullāh).