Some attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) are mentioned only a few times in the Qur’an, while others are mentioned in numerous places, especially focusing on the ways they manifest. Concepts are repeated so that when we forget, we do not forget for too long. One of these Names that we seem to forget is al-Mujeeb: the One who Responds; and Allah (swt) shows us throughout the Qur’an the manifestation of this Name with those who ask Him.
We live in a world of means. And the Qur’an tells us to utilize our means, as those means were made available to us by Allah (swt). But we sometimes forget that du`a’, calling on Allah (swt) sincerely, is one of those means. Sometimes it is the only means, and at other times it is one of many means that is required to reach an end goal. We do not simply download a job application without filling it in and then expect to get the job. So just like certain steps are required to achieve an end goal, du`a’ is also one of those steps.
Al-Mujeeb is the Answerer of prayers. According to al-Ghazali, this means that it is He who responds to the requests of those who ask by assisting them, to the call of those who call upon Him by answering them, and responds to the plight of the poor with all they need.
When you ask Allah (swt), it means you know Him. Knowing He responds means knowing that He is All-Seeing (As-Baseer), All-Knowing (Al-`Aleem), All-Hearing (Al-Samee`), that He is the Most-Affectionate (al-Wadud), that He gives us even if we don’t deserve it (al-Wahhab), that He is not in need of anyone or anything but we are in need of Him (al-Ghaniyy). If we don’t ask, then we truly do not know Him, and we are missing out on an amazing act of worship.
There are two reasons why we do not ask: we do not believe that Allah (swt) can or will answer us, or we believe we can do it without His help.
The second reason is a form of arrogance. Allah (swt) says what can be translated as, “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you.’ Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible,”(Qur’an, 40:60). Allah (swt) likens those who do not call on Him as disdaining His worship.
But here we will be expounding on the first reason. Allah (swt) tells us He is al-Mujeeb, so we should have utter confidence that He will respond to our du`a’. Look at what the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) says:
“Verily your Lord is Generous and Shy. If His servant raises his hands to Him (in supplication) He becomes shy to return them empty.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
Allah (swt) loves for you to go to Him. Sometimes Allah (swt) will not give you something unless and until you ask, even though He can give it to you whenever He wills. And it is so you know your Lord, so you experience that certainty in His attribute. The Prophet ﷺ tells us to ask Allah (swt) with certainty that He will respond (Tirmidhi).
In order to build our certainty in al-Mujeeb, He tells us stories of how He manifests this Name in the Qur’an.
“And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah ].” (Qur’an, 21:83-84)
The Prophet Ayub (Job) `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may God send His peace and blessings on him) was afflicted with a disease for 18 years, and never once did he complain. Before the disease, he was blessed with abundant wealth for 50 years and was always grateful to Allah (swt). He never once blamed Allah (swt) when he lost everything, and if we look at his du`a’, he called on Allah (swt) by His Majestic Names, and recognized that truly it is only Allah (swt) who could help him. And when Allah (swt) responded to him, He did not just remove the affliction, but gave him more. We should always think the best of Allah (swt) and recognize that even as He is the One who responds, He is also the Most-Generous. And the most hopeful part? That Allah (swt) says: it is “a mercy from Us, and a reminder to the worshippers”—a reminder that when we are afflicted, we need to turn back to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) makes after hardship ease and can cure our afflictions when we turn to Him, but we should also be patient as Ayoub (as) was patient, and certain as Ayoub (as) was certain that he had a Merciful God even as he was being tried. So whenever harm afflicts you, remember this du`a’!
Allah (swt) then tells us about Yunus (as) (Jonah):
“And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.” So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.” (Qur’an, 21:87-88)
The Prophet Yunus (as) was sent to a people who initially disbelieved. He did not wait for the sign from Allah (swt) telling him what to do next and left them in anger because of their disbelief. So Allah (swt) made a huge whale swallow him, and he remained there in the fish’s belly, saying the du`a’ above:
“There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.”
What is so special about this du`a’? That Prophet Yunus (as) recognized his wrongdoing, and that with Allah (swt) lay all power. He remained saying this du`a’ until Allah (swt) responded. Sometimes, when we do something wrong, we feel too ashamed to turn to Allah (swt) and ask for His help. But this was not the way of the Prophets. Knowing you can turn to Him despite your wrongs signifies your firm belief in His Name. Allah (swt) has said in another surah (chapter):
“If not that a favor from his Lord overtook him, he would have been thrown onto the naked shore while he was censured.” (Qur’an, 68:49)
Allah (swt) responded to him and delivered him from his distress, and when he returned to his people they had all believed because they witnessed the signs that occurred. Allah (swt), in His infinite Mercy, reminds us at the end: “And thus do We save the believers.” When you are distressed and under great difficulty, before asking for something, say this du`a’ and recognize your wrongs to Allah (swt), He will insh’Allah (God willing) forgive you and respond.
Then Allah (swt) proceeds to tell us about the Prophet Zechariah:
“And [mention] Zechariah, when he called to his Lord, ‘My Lord, do not leave me alone [with no heir], while you are the Best of Inheritors.’ So We responded to him, and We gave to him John, and amended for him his wife. Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive.” (Qur’an, 21:89-90)
Zechariah’s wife could not have children, but as we see here, Zechariah (as) implored only Allah (swt), and called him by His attribute (the Best of Inheritors). Thereafter, Allah (swt) made Zechariah’s (as) wife fertile again. Then Allah (swt) tells us of the good they used to do, that “they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive.” They would constantly do good deeds, always be calling on Allah (swt) with fear and hope, and they were not arrogant, but humble. These are of the qualities that we should adorn ourselves with and learn from, and they will insh’Allah make us closer to Allah (swt) and hopefully of those whom Allah (swt) responds to.
Allah (swt) gives us these 3 examples: the example of one who had everything and was afflicted with loss; the example of one who had wronged himself; and the example of one who desired something that he didn’t have. All of them called to Allah (swt), and Allah (swt) responded not because they were prophets, but because they turned to Him. In every verse Allah (swt) reminds us that this is the way Allah (swt) will treat the believers.
So what happens when we feel that there is no answer?
Some may say that it is hard to have true certainty in this Name when we sometimes feel that there has not been an answer to our du`a’s. But there is always an answer. One thing that may block your du`a’ from being responded to is earning money from illegitimate means. The reason is when someone earns money from illegitimate means, it ceases to be a private matter, but it is something that harms others (e.g. interest). We cannot be taking advantage of others for a living and then expect that Allah (swt) will give us what we ask for.
Another thing is that sometimes we are hasty. We leave du`a’ because we assume that because Allah (swt) has not responded yet, He will not. The Prophet ﷺ says, “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 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‘.’ (Muslim)
This is an important point. We do not put a time-limit on when Allah (swt) can respond. While He is al-Mujeeb, He is also al-Hakeem (the wise). Perhaps you hate a thing and Allah (swt) puts good in it, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad. One might ask, so what is the point of asking if I don’t get what I ask for, or when I ask for it? You will get more than what you ask for, because Allah (swt) will give you what you need and what is best. Allah (swt) gave Ayub (as) more. Allah (swt) gave the mother of Mary (as) something different than what she wanted, but Allah (swt) gave her what was best for her. Remember to entrust your affairs to the One who takes care of your affairs with all of His attributes, and gives you what you need. Ibn Hajar stated, “Every single person that makes du`a’ will be responded to, but the actual responses are different. Sometimes the exact matter that was prayed for is given, and sometimes, something equivalent to it is given.”
Imam al-Ghazali gives some advice on how be with Allah al-Mujeeb. He states that we first should be responsive to Allah (swt) in His commandments. We all sin and make mistakes, but the point is to strive to do the best we can. Secondly, it is important to respond to the servants of God, by assisting people if we are able, and by being kind if we are not able.
Finally, Aisha radi allahu `anha (may God have mercy on her) relates from the Prophet ﷺ that 3 things happen with our du`a’s: They are either responded to, deferred, or they prevent something bad from happening. Don’t ever stop asking—Allah (swt) will either send upon you His rain of Mercy or save the rainbow for you in Jannah (Paradise). A du`a’ is never ever lost. You are accumulating wealth in ways you could never imagine. So remember to ask based on who Allah (swt) is, and not based on who you are.