I’ve been trying to understand this dua from a grammar point of view for a while now, and I never quite got an answer that satisfied me. I asked a TA, and she explained some things, but I felt like there was something more that I needed to hear to fully understand it. So I raised my hand for the longest time to ask about it when Ustaadh Adam was covering the distinctions between Ism Sifah and Ism Mubaalaghah, but he didn’t let me ask even though he saw my raised hand. He wanted to get the lesson done. Plus we were derailing him off the lesson, so he had to cut it short and move on with the lesson.
I actually forgot about this for the rest of the day, until I overheard Ustaadh Nouman explaining the differences between Ism Sifah and Ism Mubalaghah in his session. I was in the lunch room at the time, but I heard him through the speakers, and so when I sat back in my seat, I decided I would raise my hand and try again. He was busy answering questions on the brothers’ side, and he had said that that was the last question for the day. But I saw a fellow sister raise her hand and I raised my hand too. Heck, why not, right?
He saw our hands raised when he turned to look at our side and decided to let the sisters have the last question for the day. Finally, I got the chance to ask my question.
The dua is,
اللهمَّ اجْعَلني صَبُورًا واجْعَلني شَكُورًا واجْعَلني في عَيْني صَغيرًا و في أعْيُنِ النَّاسِ كَبيرًا
Oh Allah, make me extremely patient, and make me extremely grateful, and make me inherently and permanently small in my own eyes and make me inherently and permanently great in the eyes of others
The words in question for me are
(extremely patient) صَبُورًا
شَكُورًا (extremely grateful)
(inherently and permanently small)صَغيرًا
كَبيرًا(inherently and permanently great)
This dua, and this is my own reflections, (so it may come with mistakes) is a dua I use when I feel I’m in need of patience, gratitude, and when I feel too highly of myself. I did wonder though, why the characteristics are in different forms for the first two and in a different form for the last two.
Let’s just split this dua in two to make it easier. The first part, we are asking Allah to make us extremely patient and extremely grateful.
اللهمَّ اجْعَلني صَبُورًا واجْعَلني شَكُورًا
Oh Allah, make me extremely patient, and make me extremely grateful,
I was reflecting on this and what occurred to me is that these two qualities are what will sustain a person in both times of difficulty and ease. In times of ease, we are in dire need of gratitude, for the test of ease requires constant engagement in gratitude in its full meaning. In times of difficulty, we are in dire need of patience. These two are an unbreakable pair because our lives are all about difficulties and eases. Subhaanallah…
But, these two words, are in the form of Ism Mubaalaghah, which in its meaning, hyperbolizes ism sifah. It’s also not permanent like ism sifah has permanence. So, in application, صبُورا would mean, not just patient, but extremely patient, patient to the power of 100. Same with شكورا. it would mean, not just grateful, but extremely grateful, very very very very grateful, to the nth degree. But, it doesn’t have permanence though. That means, that we aren’t patient and grateful all the time. So the beauty of these two words being in Ism Mubalaghah form, is that, when a situation calls for patience, then Ya Allah, please me so patient, so so so patient! And when a situation calls for gratitude, then Ya Allah, please me so grateful, so so so grateful!
The second part of this dua, is asking Allah to make us seem small in our own eyes and great in the eyes of others. I always wondered about this part.
واجْعَلني في عَيْني صَغيرًا و في أعْيُنِ النَّاسِ كَبيرًا
and make me inherently and permanently small in my own eyes and make me inherently and permanently great in the eyes of others
The first part makes sense to me, but the second part is a little perplexing to me. I mean, yes, we want to not think too highly of ourselves, so as to not become arrogant, but, why are we asking for us to be great in the eyes of others? At times, when I’m making this dua, I’ve felt torn. Doesn’t that contradict what I’m asking for though?
Balance. Islam teaches us balance. Allah’s sunnah is infused with balance. Subhaanallah. We are asking Allah to lessen the degree of how we think about ourselves, so as to instill humility in us. This part is the internal aspect of ourselves, that we think of ourselves as insignificant.
Yet, if left imbalanced, this can be counterproductive and go to another extreme where we would probably end up with very low self esteem and self confidence, and this is not how Allah wants us to be. But if others see us as great, it may be that they will express this to us occasionally, and this will help bring that balance, especially on those days when we feel down. Having someone come and tell you that they think you are benefiting them, or that you are a big help to them, can fuel you with confidence and reassurance. This dua then also comes full circle. That is also one of the moments where we need to be extremely grateful to Allah, so that we don’t end up attributing the praises that were just given to us, to ourselves. Instead, we remember and remind ourselves that it’s all from Allah. There may also be times when people may come and say not so good things about us, for whatever reason, or just treat us badly, and this is when we need extreme patience.
Subhaanallah…the two characteristics in this second part of the dua, صغيرا and كبيرا takes the form of Ism Sifah. Ism Sifah has permanence, and is also inherent. So, from that, I understood this as that we are asking Allah to make us have this perception on ourselves on a permanent basis. If this becomes an inherent quality in us, it will help us keep our egos and arrogance in check. It’s like having an internal barometer that never needs recharging. On the other hand, externally, we are also asking Allah that others see us as great, and that this is also on a permanent basis, and that it’s also inherent in others. In this case, this is like having a constant cheerleader.
And Allah knows best.