Quranic Reflection No. 521. Ayat 19:4 – Supplicating with Hope


لَمْ أَكُن بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا
Lam akun bidu‘ā’ika rabbi shaqiyyā
Never have I, my Lord, been disappointed in supplicating You!
(Sūrat Maryam, No 19, Āyat 4)

One of the etiquettes of supplication is having hope in Allah ‘azza wajall. The attitude of the supplicator/invoker (dā‘i) must show a confidence in his prayer being accepted, based on husn al-zann; having a good opinion regarding  Almighty Allah. Imam al-Sādiq ‘alayhis-salām is narrated to have said: When you pray, turn (to Allah) with your heart, and think as if your need were at the door. He also said: When you pray, turn (to Him) with your heart and then be confident of the response (al-Kāfī, chapter on Acceptance of Du‘ā).

In the verse above, Prophet Zakariyyā ‘alayhis-salām prays to Allah for a child but before he asks for his need he tells Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā he has never been disappointed in his supplications to Him. The word ‘shaqiyya’ comes from ‘shaqāwat’, to be unfortunate. It is the opposite of ‘sa‘ādat’, being fortunate, blessed. The words of Prophet Zakariyyā (a) could convey the following understandings:
• he has been fortunate so far due to his supplications which have brought good for him.
• every time he supplicated, he was not denied or deprived of blessings.
• Allah (swt) has accustomed him to receiving an answer whenever he supplicated.

Every supplication is surrounded by the mercy of Allah from both sides. At the beginning there is tawfīq from Allah for a servant to supplicate and ask from Him. Allah facilitates the supplication and allows him to call out to Him. Then the believer supplicates. It is followed by Allah’s response, the answer to his supplication. The Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam said: For whosoever among you the door of prayer (Du‘ā) is opened, then the doors of mercy (rahmah) shall be opened for him (Al-Mīzān, v.2, p. 42). The response of Allah and His turning towards the servant is of more benefit than the actual answer received. The servant is singled out for special attention. Hence, we are told to supplicate often, for it results in blessings that cannot be comprehended.

Almighty Allah has promised the answering of supplications in many places in the Quran. He says: When My servants ask you about Me, [tell them that] I am indeed near-most. I answer the supplicant’s call when he calls Me. So let them respond to Me, and let them have faith in Me, so that they may be rightly guided (Q 2:186). He also says: Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty (Q 2:268). The well-known Divine promise in the Quran: Call me, I will respond to you (Q 40:60) also emphasizes the fact that Allah answers prayers. A Muslim who has conviction of the truth of the Quran being the word of Allah knows that Allah will fulfill His promises.

Sometimes there is a delay in the answering of supplications and people lose hope. When Prophet Mūsā (a) asked Allah to punish Pharaoh and his people, Allah told him: Your supplication has been answered (Q 10:89). History tells us there was a gap of forty years between that word of Allah and the punishment that came down on the Pharaoh.

Hope in the Almighty is an outstanding quality of a believer’s relationship with Allah. In the Munājāt of the Hopeful, Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) says:
O He who gives to a servant who asks from Him
takes him to his wish when he expectantly hopes for what is with Him
brings him near and close when he approaches Him
covers over his sin and cloaks it when he shows it openly
and satisfies and suffices him when he has confidence in Him
 (Sahīfa, Du‘ā 72 )

In the month of Ramadan when we often supplicate to Allah (swt) and ask for our needs, both of this world and of the Hereafter, we must have hope in His answer. Let the statement of Prophet Zakariyyā (a) remind us that we too have always been blessed through our supplications to Him. Let us be confident that Allah will answer our prayer and that no supplicant gets turned away empty handed from His door.

Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne.