At one point the Holy Qur’an considers supplication as a means for the value of people:
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ "
"Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer".5
At another place God orders people to call upon Him and He will answer them and if they refuse to do so they will go to Hell:
"وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ "
“And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased”.6
The Prophet (S) considers supplication as the best weapon against the enemy and the best means to get sustenance.
"اَلا اَدُلُّكُم عَلى سِلاحٍ يُنجِيكُم مِن اَعدَائِكُم ويُدِرُّ اَرزَاقَكُم؟ قَالوا بَلى يا رَسُولَ الله قال: تَدعُونَ رَبَّكُم بِالَليلِ والنَّهار فاِنَّ سِلاحَ المُؤمِن الدُّعاء"
"Should I not lead you to have a weapon which could save you from your enemies and give you abundant sustenance?” They said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah”. Then he said: “Pray to your Lord, day and night, because the weapon of a believer is supplication."7
Some people assume that the world is solely based on cause and effect factors. Therefore, they think, there is no room in the Divine destiny for prayer and supplication. They, however, ignore the fact that supplication is among cause and effect factors. This assumption is rejected in numerous traditions including the following. Zurarah narrated that Imam al-Sadiq (as) said:
"اُدعُ الله عَزَّوجَلَّ ولا تَقُل: اِنَّ الأمرَ قَدْ فُرِغَ مِنهُ قالَ زُرارَة: اِنَّما يَعنِي لا يَمنَعُكَ اِيمانُكَ بِالقَضاءِ والقَدَرِ اَن تُبالِغَ بِالدُّعاءِ وتَجتَهِدَ فِيهِ"
"Call on God, and do not say: ‘The matter has been settled’”. Zurarah said: It only means that your faith in decree and destiny should not prevent you from doing your utmost to strive in supplication".8
Abdullah Ibn Sinan says that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (as) saying:
"الدُّعاءُ يَرُدُّ القَضَاءَ بَعدَ مَا اُبْرِمَ اِبْراماً فَاكْثِر مِنَ الدُّعاءِ فَاِنَّهُ مِفتَاحُ كُلِّ رَحْمَةٍ ونَجاحُ كُلِّ حَاجَةٍ ولا يُنَالُ مَا عِنْدَ الله عَزَّوجَلَّ اِلاّ بِالدُّعاءِ واِنَّهُ لَيسَ بَابٌ يَكثُرُ قَرْعُهُ اِلا يُوشَكُ اَن يُفْتَحُ لِصَاحِبِهِ"
“Supplication repels decree after it has been concluded. Therefore, engage yourself in supplication often, since it is the key to every mercy and the fulfillment of every need. What is with God is only attained through supplication. There is no door that a person knocks on often, but that it soon opens for him".9
Since the supplication is among the factors of cause and effect, therefore, you should always call on God.
The Prophet (S) has said:
"يَدخُلِ الجَنَّةَ رَجُلانِ كَانا يَعْمَلانِ عَمَلاً واحِداً فَيَرى اَحَدَهُمَا صَاحِبَهُ فَوقَه، فَيَقُولُ يا ربِّ بِما اعطيتَهُ وكانَ عَمَلُنا واحِداً؟ فَيَقُولُ الله تَباركَ وتعالى: سَألَني ولم تَسألني"
“Two men whose actions are identical enter paradise, but one of them sees his companion has a higher status. The man says: My Lord! Why did You grant him that when our actions were the same? God, the Exalted, replies: He asked and called on Me, but you did not”.10
Imam Baqir (as) has said:
"اِنَّ الله كَرِهَ اِلحاحَ النَّاسِ بَعضَهُم عَلى بَعْضٍ في المَسألَةِ وَاحَبَّ ذلِكَ لِنَفسِهِ اِنَّ الله جَلَّ ذِكرُهُ يُحِبُّ اَن يُسألَ ويُطلَبَ ما عِندَهُ"
“God dislikes people beseeching one another for a request, but He likes that for Himself. God, the Exalted, likes to be asked and requested for what is with Him”.11
He has also said:
"واللهِ لا يُلِحُّ عَبْدٌ مُؤمِنٌ عَلى اللهِ عَزَّوجَلَّ في حَاجَتِهِ اِلاّ قَضاها لَهُ"
“I swear by God, a believer does not beseech God for a need but that He fulfils it for him”.12
In this regard, of course, there is no difference between big needs and small ones. Imam Baqir (as) has also said,
"لا تُحَقِّروا صَغِيراً مِن حَوائِجِكُم فاِنَّ احَبَّ المُؤمِنِينَ اِلى اللهِ اسألَهُم"
“Do not belittle your small needs because the believers dearest to God are those who ask the most.13
God told Prophet Moses (as):
"سَلْنِي كُلَّ ما تَحتاجُ اِليهِ حَتّى عَلَفَ شاتِكَ ومِلحَ عَجِينِكَ"
“Ask Me for all that you need, even the grass for your sheep and salt for your dough”.14
5. Qur’an 25:77.
6. Qur’an 40:60.
7. Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.468.
8. Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.467.
9. Uusl al-Kafi, vol.2, p.467.
10. Bihar, vol.93, p.302.
11. Bihar, vol. 77, p.173.
12. Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.475.
13. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.93, p.346.
14. Bihar, vol. 93, p.303.
Adapted from: "Imam 'Ali's First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education" by: "Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji"