This is my understanding of dua. I don't find that it contradicts the traditional Islamic understanding but it kind of adds to it and it kind of simplifies it at the same time... Although it will probably sound crazy and confusing written out.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I see dua as being about the influence we have on others. If we have positive influence on others, they will have positive thoughts about us and we will benefit. Whether they actually pray "Oh Allah..." for us or just have positive thoughts and feelings about us, I think it counts as dua in our favour. I always try to make actual dua (the "Oh God, please..." type) when I'm not necessarily having positive thoughts about someone but I want the best for them. Like people who are in difficult situations where part of me feels bad for them and part of me is frustrated by how they keep making bad decisions but mostly I just want them to find the strength to change their situation.
I also believe in the concept of "negative dua"... Not sure what else to call it, but it's basically when people bring out the worse in others or make people dislike them, make people uncomfortable, make people feel hurt, etc. If they are not careful enough about the way they say things for example. I believe their actual intentions count for more than the unintentional outcome, but I do believe a person is responsible for how they present themselves and the effect they have on others. If someone had the good intentions to help a friend by being honest with them about things they need to change but does it all wrong and makes the person feel bad about themselves, there will be less reward than doing it carefully. So the hurt person didn't actually pray against this individual, but the bad feelings they had about how that person handled the situation will count as negative dua. A person could also pray to God against that person which would count against that person if everything is true but that it's best to stay far away from that because you're probably doing more wrong against yourself than others when you practice this type of hate.
I used to not know where I stood on prayers and before Islam, I thought it was just plain stupid to pray for someone. But I believe in the power of dua now in the way I described and feel it benefits everyone involved.
The other type of dua is for someone who is deceased and I see great benefit in that as well. If Iunderstand the Islamic view on this well, it's that people are not in hell or heaven until the final day, which happens at the same time as everyone. (We will all be judged at the same time as each other, our grand-parents, all ancestors, etc.) So when someone dies, they are in a timeless state until judgement day and during this time, dua done for them will count for judgement day. People's influence lives on past their lives and the benefits of their influence counts until the very end, not just until the end of their lives.
This makes me feel good and makes me feel balance in life, but is also feels sad that I cannot at all believe the whole "He is looking down at you from above" thing. Because they are not at all. They are not looking out for us, they are not aware of us. They will not hear our prayers. But our prayers can still help them.
What do you think of this understanding, if you were able to understand my jumbled up thoughts?