In one of my e groups, a sister was crying out for help, well an acquaintance of a group member was and the message was passed on. The sister was crying out because she wasn’t where she knew she needed to be deen wise (I think we can all say that to some extent). But, she didn’t pray, she felt her duaas were made in vain (like it wasn’t going to help so it was basically a waste of time to her). But she was crying out because she wanted to change.
That’s one group that I really don’t post messages on (hard to believe if you know me, right?) But I felt compelled to answer. Partly because we had just worked on the duaa lesson and she had said that she didn’t know how to make duaa, was there a special way.
So I started writing a response and after going back and reading it, I was like this is a good reminder for me. I’m not qualified to give religious advice, but I thought the things I mentioned were what any of us could say to one another regardless of how much of the religion we knew. So I am posting my response in case it might help someone in a similar situation, someone not in such a dire situation but still needing a reminder/motivation. I look back at it now and subhanAllah, I find it a great reminder for myself.
The fact that you are crying out for help is a good sign, masha Allah. It shows that you know you need to change and have the desire too, insha Allah.
Hope my response doesn’t sound cookie cutter, but that you may find some practicality in it, insha Allah.
Firstly, it may help to remember that: (Verily, Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves.) 13:11 (hope I am using that correctly, insha Allah). I remember when I first became Muslim, some things were hard to do. But as this shows, we need to take the steps to better our situation (again, I think your cry for help is a great beginning step, Allah knows best.
I think the main thing that you need to work at doing, to help your situation, Allah knows best, is to learn more about Allah so that you can get to love Him and fear Him more so that you can do what you need to be doing (i think we can always say that all of us need more of this anyway). When I first became Muslim, a lot of things, like prayer, were done more rotely. I didn’t know what I was saying, I just knew I had to pray and it was more of a chore. But I think the more you learn about Allah and your obligations, you will feel guilty and afraid, for example, when you miss your prayers. You will be more recognizant of the fact that Allah is watching you–the good and bad that you do.
Here are a few ideas I have for help with that, insha Allah.
1. Remember Allah throughout your day by learning/saying the various daily adhkaar (remembrances). Say duaas when you wake up, go to bed, go to the bathroom, eat, drink milk, travel, etc). When you remember Allah, He remembers you and this will hopefully make you more aware of Him throughout your day. Write them down and try to memorize them, but by saying them everyday, insha Allah, you will memorize them. They are helpful for me to be more aware of Allah throughout our day.
The popular book of authentic supplications, "Hisnul-Muslim" (Fortification of the Muslim [through Remembrance and Supplication from the Qur.aan and Sunnah]) compiled by the Shaykh, Sa’eed Ibn Wahf Al-Qahtaanee, and adapted into the English Language by Abu Safwan Farid Abdulwahid Haibatan.
2. Get to know Allah better (and fear Him) by reading Quraan daily. Even if you do not know Arabic, read Quraan in English everyday. I did that in my first year of being Muslim and I found that this really helped me as I was just learning all about my new religion. Also read ahadith and biographies of companions and what not. The sahabah are our role models and provide excellent examples and encouragement. Seeing the hard things that they and the Prophets had to endure, helps us to realize that our struggles are nothing compared to theirs. Even in America, as Muslims, I think we did not face the obstacles to our practicing of our religion that they did. And knowledge is so easy for us to gain these days, listening to authentic lectures and reading authentic books is so easy to do via the internet, masha Allah.
3. Read about things that increase and decrease your emaan and strive to do those that increase and make effort to stay away from those that decrease.
Shaikh ul-Islam on the Increase and Decrease of Iman
Author: Shaikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah
4. Your Duaas
You mentioned that you feel as if they are pointless and a waste of time and that you don’t know how to make them.
My kids and I just did a review lesson on duaas and we learned/reviewed that you must be certain that your duaa will be answered;
The person should be certain that their du’a will be answered. The Prophet (may Allah praise him) said:
“Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers, and know that Allah will not accept the supplication from an absent heart.” (at-Tirmidhi)
(see link below for source of these)
We read an excellent article from Shaykh Fowzaan on the Manners of Duaa, and I think it will help you tremendously, insha Allah. it goes over the best times to make duaas, things to do before/while making duaa, etc.
Manners of Du’aa
by Saalih al-Fawzaan
That last site, masha Allah is good to check out in general for Islamic articles, masha Allah.
I am sure those more knowledgeable than me can over even more advice, insha Allah. These are just some things I think could help, insha Allah.
May Allah rectify your condition, ukhti. Ameen.