Reflections from the Duʿāʾ of Prophet ʿĪsā
Towards the end of Sūrat al-Māʾidah, Allāh relates to us a a conversation between Prophet ʿĪsā and his disciples. The disciples demand that Prophet ʿĪsā ask Allāh to send down a table spread from the heavens,
[And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said,” Fear Allāh, if you should be believers.“
This demand stands in stark contrast to the request that ʿĪsā eventually makes to his Lord,
Said Jesus, the son of Mary, "O Allāh, our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.
Notice the humbleness in the request. The wording of the duʿāʾ shows the submissiveness and servitude of the one asking to his Master. ʿĪsā calls on to Allāh through Allāh’s Divinity and Lordship; Allāhuma Rabbanā.
And when he asks Allāh, he doesn’t simply put forward the request and be done with it. He tells Allāh why he asks for the table spread though Allāh is Most Knowledgeable.
And you’ll notice this with the supplication of other Prophets mentioned in the Qurʾān (of Mūsā when he asks for Prophethood for his brother Hārūn, of Zakarīyā when he asks for an heir to carry on the Message…), they rarely every limit their supplication to a mere request. They call on to Allāh, they ask, they explain, they beg, they exalt Him. They converse with Him. When was the last time you conversed with Allāh? When was the last time you explained WHY you want what you want?
This is a great lesson in tarbiya for us: talk to Allāh, tell him how your heart feels and what it wants even though He is Most Knowledgeable.
❝…to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You.❞
ʿĪsā made a duʿāʾ that wasn’t exclusively for a worldly benefit, nor was it exclusively for the Ākhira. He asked Allāh for a table spread that would benefit them in this world, and as it was a sign from Allāh it will build their yaqīn and īmān and thus benefit their dīn and Ākhira.
Something for us to integrate in our duʿāʾ: don’t shy away from asking Allāh for something to benefit you in this world but don’t concentrate on asking Allāh for things that would only benefit you here.