The topic of du’a and its relationship with destiny or qadr, is a very important one, and one around which much confusion exists.
People might ask, ‘If everything has already been determined to occur, then what is the use of du’a?’
The response to this question lies in understanding that the outcome of anything is dependent on the performance of the efforts that are necessary to achieve it. In other words, it has already been decreed, for example, that a seed will give fruit if planted, but this will not occur unless the farmer takes the appropriate efforts in irrigating the crop, maintaining it, protecting the seedling as it grows, and ensuring as much as he can that the factors are amenable for the plant to give fruit.
So even though a person believes in the Divine Decree, they must still strive to ensure they meet their desired goals. Du’a is in itself, a means that we can use to achieve our desired goals. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said:
“Nothing increases one’s life-span except good deeds, and nothing repels Divine Decree except du’a. And verily a person may be deprived of sustenance due to a sin that he does!” (Recorded in ibn Majah)
So how can du’a repel Divine Decree? It is possible that some unpleasant matter has been ordained for us, but only if we do not make du’a to avert it from us. So, if du’a is made, then this matter will not occur to be fulfilled, whereas if du’a is left, the misfortune will occur. This is illustrated in the following hadith:
“There is no Muslim on the face of the earth that asks Allah for anything except that Allah gives it to Him, or averts from him a similar evil, as long as he does not ask for something evil or for breaking the ties of kinship.” (Recorded in al-Tirmidhi)
We can see from this that du’a is a cause of repelling evil that was previously destined for us. So Divine Decree cannot be used as an excuse not to make du’a. Just as we strive for food and drink we should also strive in our deeds of worship such as du’a, so that by this Allah may bless us with all that is good and protect us from all that is evil if He so Wills.