Assalaamu alaykum. What is the ruling on asking for something specific when supplicating? And is it a must or a condition that a person should say when asking Allah for something: "O Allah, if it is good for me, then grant it to me, and if it is bad for me, then keep it away from me,” or can a person beseech Allah and ask Him for a specific thing without saying that? May Allah reward you.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
It is neither a must nor a condition when a person asks Allah for something that he says, "O Allah, if this matter is good for me, grant it to me, and if it is bad for me, keep it away from me." Rather, if what the Muslim is asking for is purely good, such as asking Allah to bless him with piety and righteousness or obedience to Him, then he should ask Allah without hesitation. If he does not know whether what he is asking for is good or bad for him, such as wealth, children, a spouse, and the like of worldly gains, then it is better that he says, for instance, "O Allah, if this matter is good for me, then grant it to me, and if it is bad for me, then keep it away from me."
Al-Haafith Ibn Rajab said:
"The needs that a person asks Allah, the Exalted, for are of two kinds:
The first is what he knows to be purely good, such as asking Him to instill fear of Allah in his heart and to make him obedient and righteous, or asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge with Him from Hellfire. This should be asked for without hesitation and without making it dependent on divine knowledge of their benefit to him, because it is pure good and entirely beneficial.
The second is what is not known to be good for the individual or not, such as death and life, wealth and poverty, children and family, and all other worldly needs of which the consequences are unknown. It is not appropriate to ask Allah for any of these things except depending on what Allah knows to be good for the individual, because he does not know the consequences of things. Moreover, the person is unable to bring what is in his interests or ward off what is harmful to him; he must seek his needs from One Who is All-Knowing, Almighty. This is why Istikhaarah (divine guidance-seeking prayer) was prescribed in all worldly affairs. It is prescribed for the supplicant to say in his Istikhaarah:
'Allahumma inni astakheeruka biʻilmika wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika wa as’aluka min fadhlika Al-ʻAtheem, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdiru, wa taʻlamu wa laa aʻlamu, wa Anta ʻallamul-ghuyoob. Allahumma in kunta taʻlamu anna hatha al-amr (and he names the matter he is asking about) khayrun lee fee deeni wa maʻaashi wa ʻaaqibatu amri (or: khayrun lee fee ʻaajili amri wa aajilihi), faqdurhu lee wa yassirhu lee wa baarik lee feeh. Wa in kunta taʻlamu anna hatha al-amr (and he names the matter) sharrun lee fee deeni wa maʻaashi wa ʻaaqibatu amri (or: sharrun lee fee ʻaajili amri wa aajilihi), fasrifhu ʻannee wasrifnee ʻanhu. Waqdur liya al-khayru haythu kaana thumma irdhini bih.' (O Allah, I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, and I have none. And You know, and I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allah, if in Your knowledge, this matter is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and the end of my affair [or: in this world and in the Hereafter], then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, this matter is evil for me in my religion, my livelihood, and the end of my affair [or: in this world and in the Hereafter], then turn it away from me and turn me away from it. And ordain all that is good for me wherever it is and make me pleased with it.)" [Majmooʻ Rasaa'il Ibn Rajab]
Allah knows best.
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