A woman in distress once came to the renowned student of Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah), Baqiyy bin Makhlad (rahimahullah), and begged him for help. She cried to him saying, “My beloved son has been taken prisoner by the Romans. My grief at his loss and yearning to meet him is such that I am unable to sleep for even a moment of the entire night. All I possess is my small home and I can find nobody to purchase it from me. Will you please find someone who will pay my son’s ransom? Days and nights have passed and I can find no solace, no peace and no happiness.”
Baqiyy (rahimahullah) replied, “You may return home. I will try to see to your problem insha-Allah.” Saying this he lowered his head and began making earnest du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala for the freedom of the son. Just a few days had passed when the woman came back to Baqiyy (rahimahullah) – this time with her son! She made du‘aa for Baqiyy (rahimahullah) and said to him, “Listen to his story, may Allah Ta‘ala have mercy on you.”
Baqiyy (rahimahullah) asked the son, “What happened to you?” He replied, “I was taken prisoner by the soldiers of one of the Roman kings. I belonged to a group of prisoners who would be forced to labor in the desert every day. We would labor until sunset after which the guard supervising us would escort us back in our chains. One day while returning, to my utter surprise, the shackles around my ankles fell off on their own! The guards in charge of me immediately began swearing at me and demanded to know why I took the shackles off. I pleaded with them saying, ‘No! I didn’t! By Allah it fell off on its own without me even realizing it!’ Since I was now unfettered they called the blacksmith. When he arrived he clad me in a new pair of shackles – but to no avail. I stood up and had only taken a few steps when the new shackles also miraculously fell off. They were completely puzzled and perplexed, so they summoned their priest and asked him what to do. He asked me, ‘Do you have a mother?’ When I replied in the affirmative he said, ‘It seems that she has made du‘aa for you and it has been accepted. It is better that you are set free.’ So they released me and even guarded me until I reached the border of the Islamic territories.”
When he heard this, Baqiyy (rahimahullah) enquired, “On which day and at what time did your shackles fall off?” When the boy replied, they realized that it was the exact moment that Baqiyy (rahimahullah) had raised his hands to Allah Ta‘ala in du‘aa. (Al-Muntazam li Ibnil Jawzi – vol. 12, pg. 274)
Lesson: Everybody has his own “shackles” – be it a problem in marriage, the desire for a child, or a financial burden. Each and every person has the ability to raise his or her hands and beg from Allah Ta‘ala. When the power of sincere du‘aa is unleashed, a person will be able to free himself from the fetters frustrating and binding him, sometimes for years. Du‘aa is indeed the solution to our every sorrow.