To defend your brother or sister in their absence is one thing, but to pray for them behind their back is another. When something causes you to remember someone, one of the best things that you can do is to make duʿā’ for them. Regarding those of us who remember to mention our brother or sister when we are alone with Allah (glorified and exalted is He), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘No one does that, except Allah (glorified and exalted is He) sends an angel’.
There is a specific angel that is entrusted with praying for us as we supplicate for another and their prayer is accepted. In one narration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘It is an accepted duʿā’ and the angel will say each time, ‘āmīn’, or you as well, and so the duʿā’ will be accepted for you and for your brother because the angel is the one that is making it’. Subhān Allāh! You have to ask yourself, ‘Who do I feel more confident in having a duʿā’ accepted from? Myself? Or an angel that has been specifically sent by Allah (glorified and exalted is He)?’ This fosters a sense of selflessness where we are encouraged to engage in a prolonged fashion of making duʿā’ for others, reassured in the knowledge that an angel whose prayer is readily accepted will be saying ‘āmīn’ for us as well.
Praying for others is also one of the best ways to ward off envy. When you see something that someone has you immediately say, ‘O Allah, bless them with that thing’. In this way, you accustom yourself to supplicating for them and it becomes a good habit. If you see something good that they have say, ‘May Allah (glorified and exalted is He) increase it for them’ and if you see them experiencing hardship say, ‘May Allah (glorified and exalted is He) make it easy for them’. As a result, you acclimatise yourself to being able to respond to the mention of the person’s name with a duʿā’ from the heart.
Diversifying the nature of the supplications that we make for others, based upon their actual needs is something we should strive for. This can be in a generic way as mentioned in the previous paragraph or it can be more specific. For example, if someone has a medical problem, make duʿā’ for their health, if they are in need of sustenance, ask Allah (glorified and exalted is He) to sustain them or if they have an issue with relatives, pray for their family.
By covering all the different facets of duʿā’ for several people, at the same time, you are also covering these aspects of your life because when you are praying for health, wealth and family, the angel is saying, ‘āmīn’ for you as well. That is then written on your record, increasing your sincerity and your station with Allah (glorified and exalted is He).
Another thing we should strive for, when making duʿā’ for our brothers and sisters is to do it in secret, or as the Prophet (peace be upon him) put it, behind their back. You may mention it to the person as a means of showing solidarity with them, but not in order to boast or make them feel indebted to you. Much in the same way as the secrecy you should try and maintain when giving charity (sadaqah), you should not use the knowledge of your supplications to dominate someone and chip away at their self-esteem.
Imam Ahmad (Allah’s mercy be upon him) had a list of people that he would pray for at night and he expressed that he felt more confident in his duʿā’s for another being accepted over those he made for himself. Therefore, it was more favourable to him to engage in prolonged periods of prayer for others, rather than for himself. When you follow his example with sincerity and humility, Allah (glorified and exalted is He) will not only send an angel to say ‘āmīn’ for you, but He will reward your selflessness by placing blessed people in your life who will inshā’ Allāh pray for you.
This excerpt is from Angels in Your Presence