Allahumma inni a’udhu bika min ‘ilmin la yanfa’u wa min qalbin la yakhsha’u wa min nafsin la tashba’u wa min da’watin la yustajabu laha
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from a soul that is not satisfied and the supplication that is not answered.”
yanfa’u: Nafa’a means to be beneficial and useful. With regards to knowledge, ilman naf’ian – beneficial knowledge – is knowledge that leads to action. We covered a whole supplication asking for beneficial knowledge.
yakhsha’u: Khushu’ is a fear that is manifested not only in your heart but it is shown on your face and limbs. Khushu’ literally means to bend down and to become still. Khushu’ is used for the submissiveness of the heart which is reflected on the limbs.
tashba’u: The root of this word means to be satisfied, to eat to one’s fill and to gratify. This word can apply to eating or fulfilling desires. From this root is ishbaa’ which means satisfaction and satiation.
da’watin: Da’wah literally means a call, request or invocation. When someone is involved in da’wah, it literally means they are calling others to Allah azza wa jal. From this root is the word du’aa, both words have the same meaning when referring to a supplication.
Points of Benefit
The Prophetﷺ seeks refuge from four disastrous things in this supplication. Each one gives us a different lesson:
“Knowledge that does not benefit”: This can mean knowledge that is not acted upon, or knowledge that has no use – such as worldly matters that do not give any benefit. The first type can lead to punishment, Rasul Allah ﷺ said, “On the night that I was ascended up to the heavens, I came upon a people whose lips were being cut off by pliers made from Fire. Every time their lips were severed, they would be brought back and formed again. So I said: ‘O Jibreel, who are these people?’ He said: ‘They are speakers from your nation, who say words but do not do deeds, and who read the Book of Allah yet do not act (on it).”‘ [Al Bayhaqi, Hasan]
“A heart that is not fearful”: In the Qur’an, Allah (Subhanawata’la) describes the true believers as having khushu’ in their prayer – a humility that is seen on their limbs. If the heart has khushu’, the body will have khushu’. So khushu’ is not just a state of the heart, it is a state of the heart which is visible on a person’s actions, in their posture, and in their movements. In the hereafter, Allah says that the disbelievers: أَبْصَارُهَا خَاشِعَةٌ “Their eyes will be downcast.” (79:9) These eyes that did not humble themselves to Allah in the dunya, will have fear in the aakhirah. This fear will be apparent on their faces; faces that are full of shame, humiliation and abasement.
“A soul that is not satisfied”: The nature of humans is to always want more, which is why we train ourselves to be pleased with the minimum. When a person is not satisfied, it may bring about greed, jealousy, ungratefulness, and a lack of contentment. The believers are satisfied with whatever they are given in this life, and in the hereafter, Allah (Subhanawata’la) says: “And therein is whatever the souls desire and [what] delights the eyes.” (43:71) By refraining from indulgence in this worldly life, Allah blesses the believers with everything they desire in the hereafter.
When these three things exist in someone; a heart that is not fearful, a soul that is not satisfied and knowledge that is not beneficial, it leads to the four thing we seek refuge from: a supplication that is not answered. Why? For a duaa to be answered, the person has to be humble and showing their need to Allah. A person with a heart that is not fearful has a hard heart, and one that is not satisfied is greedy.
“A supplication that is not answered”: Not having supplications answered by Allah is a scary matter. Allah tells us to call upon Him, to ask Him and that He will give us. For Allah (Subhanawata’la) to not answer a supplication, it means that the person in involved in something wrong. In a famous hadith, we learn that the man who eats, drinks and is clothed from what is haram will not have his duaa answered.
Also, we must remember that a duaa is answered in three ways: Allah will grant the person what they are asking for, or the person is protected from something harmful or Allah will respond to the person in the hereafter. So we seek refuge from Allah from it being not answered, but we still have to have faith that we may not completely understand the wisdom if we do not see the answer we expect, since Allah may answer it in one of these three ways.