Imagine a person lying paralyzed in a bed, utterly helpless and powerless. However, he has the ability to move just one finger. Through moving his finger, he is able to press a ‘S.O.S button’ that contacts his beloved family, alerting them that he requires some assistance.

This person, as paralyzed and powerless as he may be, will enjoy a feeling of safety and security, as he knows that the help of those who love him and care for him can be summoned at the mere press of a button.

In the same way, every human being is ultimately helpless. Despite his strength, wealth, intelligence and everything else, there will come a day when nothing will avail him and he will find himself powerless and paralyzed.

However, if we are powerless, then we have our ‘S.O.S button’ with which we can contact the One Who is All-Powerful. This ‘button’ is the du‘aa that was recited by Nabi Yunus (‘alaihis salaam) when he was in the belly of the whale:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّيْ كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِيْنَ

There is none worthy of worship besides You, You are pure! Indeed, I am from the wrongdoers. (Surah Ambiyaa v87)

Nabi Yunus (‘alaihis salaam) called these words out to Allah Ta‘ala while he was enveloped within three layers of darkness – the darkness of the night, the darkness of the ocean, and the darkness of the belly of the whale. He was in such a place that logically it did not seem possible for any assistance to reach him. But, when he recited these words, Allah Ta‘ala accepted his du‘aa and delivered him from the distress that he was undergoing.

Thus, this ‘button’, together with the ‘line’ of du‘aa, is one of the most effective ways for us to draw the special assistance of Allah Ta‘ala. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said that if a Muslim is in any difficulty, and calls out to Allah Ta‘ala in du‘aa reciting these words, then Allah Ta‘ala will accept his du‘aa. (Sunan Tirmizi #3505)

It is for this reason that when there was widespread drought during the khilaafah of ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah), he sent a directive to all the cities, instructing the people to come out on a specified day to perform Salaatul Istisqaa (salaah seeking rain). He encouraged them to fast, give sadaqah and engage in istighfaar and repent for their sins. He also urged them to recite the du‘aa of Nabi Yunus (‘alaihis salaam) as well as a few other du‘aas. (Musannaf ‘Abdur Razzaaq #4954)

Hence, whenever a person is beset with a difficulty, or the Ummah is suffering on a collective scale, then the ‘Ulama encourage us to recite these words in abundance and turn to Allah Ta‘ala in du‘aa. In the Quraan Majeed, after mentioning the manner in which He saved Nabi Yunus (‘alaihi salaam) after he recited this du‘aa, Allah Ta‘ala mentions, “And in the same way (through reciting this du‘aa), We save the believers.” (Surah Yunus v88) Thus, we should all try to recite this du‘aa abundantly and encourage our families to do so as well.

We may be powerless and helpless, but Allah Ta‘ala is All-Powerful and WILL help us if we turn to Him in du‘aa.