Quranic Reflection No. 365 Āyat 19:48 – Hope in Supplication

وَأَدْعُو رَبِّي عَسَىٰ أَلَّا أَكُونَ بِدُعَاءِ رَبِّي شَقِيًّا
Wa-ad‘ū Rabbī ‘asā allā akūna bidu‘ā’i Rabbī shaqiyyā
I will supplicate my Lord. Hopefully I will not be disappointed in supplicating my Lord.
(Sūrat Maryam, No.19, Āyat 48)

When Abraham (i.e. Nabī Ibrahim ‘alayhis salām) talks to his uncle Āzar about belief in One God, Āzar refuses to listen to him and threatens him. Abraham then declares that he will withdraw from them and turn to Allah ‘azza wa-jall. In the verse above he shows his trust in Allah, saying he will call Him and has hope that he will not be disappointed in his supplication. The Holy Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wa-sallam used this verse to remind the Muslims of the need to continue supplicating with hope. He said: May Allah have mercy on the servant who asks Allah, the Elevated, the Majestic, for his wish and he persists in his supplication, whether it is answered or unanswered. Then he recited the above verse (Al-Kāfī, v. 6, p. 375, H. 6),

This verse tells us a few important points about a believer’s attitude while supplicating. The word ‘asaa means perhaps. There is the possibility that the supplication will be accepted. There is no certainty that Allah will accept the supplication, even for a Prophet.

A believer is always between hope and fear. Hope in Allah shows love and trust and motivates action. Fear brings about caution and restraint. Together these two emotions spur a believer’s journey on the straight path. Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq (a) says: Hope in Allah with such hope that it will not embolden you to disobey Him, and fear Allah with such fear that it will not cause you to despair of His mercy (Bihārul Anwār, v. 70, p. 384, H. 39). He also said: My father (a) used to say; ‘There is no believing servant except that in his heart are two lights, a light of fear and a light of hope, if they were each to be measured neither would exceed the other (Al-Kāfī, v. 2, p.67, H. 1).

Sayyid Mahdi al-Sadr in his book The Ahlul Bayt: Ethical Role Models says: Hope . . . is the second wing with which, along with fear, the believers fly in the horizons of the obedience of God.

Hope in Allah when supplicating must be based on some foundation. The prerequisites of Du‘ā such as obedience, acknowledgement, gratitude, seeking forgiveness, etc. must have been carried out. Al-Sadr also states: “Hope is the expectation of a dear thing the arrangements of which are already done, such as hope for the yield of a land after it was seeded, watered, and superintended. In case the arrangements of a thing are not done, hope for it will be foolhardiness”.

Note also that the word Rabbī has been repeated twice in this verse. Abraham refers to supplicating Allah as supplicating to ‘my Lord and Cherisher’. There is a certain closeness in the relationship, a dependence and reliance that the word signifies. It binds the servant to the Lord, eliminating any other source of hope. This is part of the etiquette of Du‘ā.

The word shaqiyyah means disappointed, un-blessed, one who goes through difficulty. Its opposite is sa‘īd, meaning fortunate or blessed. Prophet Abraham shows hope that his supplication will remove hardships from him and make him fortunate. The sweetness of supplication itself, a connection between a servant and the true Lord who controls all things, is by itself a removal of distress even before the answer is received.

Recite this verse as you supplicate in this holy month of Sha‘bān and then more intensely in Holy Ramadan. Have hope that you will not be disappointed, as Abraham has demonstrated so beautifully in the verse. This will inshāAllah will bring you much peace and tranquility in your supplications.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; http://www.alketab.org/