In Islam, dua (دُعَاء ), literally meaning “invocation“, is an act of supplication. The term is derived from an Arabic word meaning to ‘call out’ or to ‘summon’, and Muslims regard this as a profound act of worship. Muhammad is reported to have said,
“Dua is the very essence of worship.”
There is a special emphasis on du’a in Muslim spirituality and early Muslims took great care to record the supplications of Muhammad and transmit them to subsequent generations. These traditions precipitated new genres of literature in which prophetic supplications were gathered together in single volumes that were memorized and taught. Collections such as al-Nawawi’s Kitab al-Adhkar and Shams al-Din al-Jazari’s al-Hisn al-Hasin exemplify this literary trend and gained significant currency among Muslim devotees keen to learn how Muhammad supplicated to God.
However, Du’a literature is not restricted to prophetic supplications; many later Muslim scholars and sages composed their own supplications, often in elaborate rhyming prose that would be recited by their disciples. Popular du’as would include Muhammad al-Jazuli’s Dala’il al-Khayrat, which at its peak spread throughout the Muslim world, and Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili’s Hizb al-Bahr which also had widespread appeal. Du’a literature reaches its most lyrical form in the Munajat, or ‘whispered intimate prayers’ such as those of Ibn Ata Allah. Among the Shia schools, the Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya records du’as attributed to Ali and his grandson, Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin.
Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger visited a person from amongst the Muslims in order to inquire (about his health) who had grown feeble like the chicken. Allah’s Messenger said: Did you supplicate for anything or beg of Him about that? He said: Yes. I used to utter (these words): Impose punishment upon me earlier in this world, what Thou art going to impose upon me in the Hereafter. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger said: Hallowed be Allah, you have neither the power nor forbearance to take upon yourself (the burden of His Punishment). Why did you not say this: O Allah, grant us good in the world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of Fire. He (the Holy Prophet) made this supplication (for him) and he was all right.
— Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim
Allah’s Apostle said,” None of you should long for death because of a calamity that had befallen him, and if he cannot, but long for death, then he should say, ‘O Allah! Let me live as long as life is better for me, and take my life if death is better for me.’ ”
— Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari
Types and categories
Dua is essentially an expression of submission of faith to God and of one’s neediness.
- Type I: Du’a al-mas’alah, or the ‘du’a of asking.’ This type of du’a is when one asks for the fulfillment of a need, or that some harm be removed from him/her. An example would be when a person asks, “O God! Grant me good in this world, and good in the next life!”
- Type II: Du’a al-‘ibadah’, or the ‘du’a of worship.’ This type of du’a includes every single act of worship. Examples would include when a Muslim prays or gives zakāt or fasts.
Salat or Salah
Main article: Salat or Salah
The salah is the obligatory prayer recited five times a day, as described in the Quran: “And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):” Salat is read in the Arabic language. Until the 1950s, Ismailis from India and Pakistan performed the prayer the language of the local Jama’at Khana.
Long and Short Duas
- A person who recites from إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ in sura Al Imran till the end of the surah on any night or part of the night, will receive the reward of performing his Salaat for the whole night.
- A person recites sura Ya Sin early in the morning then his need for the day will be fulfilled.
- Abdullah bin Masood narrates that Muhammad has stated that the person who recites the last two ayat of sura Al-Baqara till the end, then these two ayats will be sufficient for him, i.e. God will protect him from all evil and ploys.
- When retiring to sleep, make wudu, dust off the bed three times, lie on the right side, place the right hand under the head or cheeks and recite the following dua three times.
- A person who recites three times أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ السَّمِيعِ الْعَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ in the morning the last three ayat of sura Al-Hashr then God delegates 70,000 angels (malāʾikah) to send mercy onto him till the evening and if he dies that day, he will die as a martyr and if he recites these in the evening then God delegates 70,000 angels to send mercy onto him till the morning and if he dies that night, he dies as a martyr.
- A Muslim servant recites رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبَّاً وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ ِينَاً وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيَّاً three times every morning, then it becomes the responsibility of God to satisfy him on the Day of Qiyamah.
- A person who has recited اللَّهُمَّ مَا أَصْبَحَ بِي مِنْ نِعْمَةٍ أَوْ بِأَحَدٍ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ فَمِنْكَ وَحْدَكَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَكَ فَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ وَلَكَ الشُّكْرُ in the morning, he has pleased (praised, glorified) God for His favours of the morning, and if he has done so in the night, he has thanked God for His favours of the night.
- If a person recites three ayat of sura Ar-Rum (Para 21) and if he misses his normal recitation of the day, he will still be rewarded for it. This applies to the night as well.
- If after reading it you die in the night, then it is as if you have died on ‘Natural Deen’ and if you awake in the morning alive then you will have good fortune”.
- If a person retires to bed on the side and recites sura Al-Fatiha and sura Al-Ikhlas (Qul huwa- Allaho Ahad) he is immune from everything besides death.
- Reciting Ayat-ul Kursi will cause the reciter to be protected throughout the night by the angels and Satan will not come near him.
- When a person enters his bed (to sleep), an angel and a Shaitan surround him. The Shaitan whispers ‘your awakening will end in evil’ and the angel says’ end in good”. One sleeps after engaging in dhikr, the angels will protect him throughout the night. In order to gain the protection of the angels, it is encouraged to engage in dhikr and then sleep.
- A man dreamed of Muhammad several times. Each time he asked Muhammed for advice on being able to retain his faith. He was told by Muhammad to recite the following each day:
In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful O Allah! O Allah! O Allah! The Security, the Security the Security from the vanishment of the faith. O the Eternally Known! O the Eternally Obliging and O the Guide of those gone astray, Thee alone do we worship and of Thee (only) do we seek help. May Allah’s blessings be upon His best creation Mohammed and all his (pure) progeny.— Book of 101 Dua’s (Supplications)
Zayn al-‘Abidin’s Dua
Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin conveyed his understanding of the relationship between human and God by the prayers and supplications that he offered God during his extensive nighttime vigils in the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina. These prayers and supplications were written down and then disseminated by his sons and the subsequent generations. Among them is the Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is known as the Psalms of the Household of Muhammad.
All Praise is for Allah who treats me with clemency, just as if I have no sin. So my Lord is the most praised by me of all, and most worthy of my praise. O’ Allah! I find the roads of wishes to You wide open, And the rivers of hope to You vast and running, And counting on Your bountifulness (in times of need) for those who wished You freely accessible, And the gates of prayer to those who are disparate, wide ajar, And I know that You are for those who ask You in the position of answer, And for those who are distressed, You are in a posture of rescue.— An extract of the Dua of Abu Hamza al-Thumali by Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-‘Abidin
In Islam there are nine pre-conditions that need to be present in order for a du’a to be accepted.
Only God responds
In Islam, rules have been made to remember Allah. All Muslims follow those rules. It is necessary to be pure in order to remember God in Islam. Every Muslim is required to offer prayers for 5 times,Allah is remembered through prayers In Islam a Muslim prays to God alone.
In Islam, to be hasty in du’a is said to be a cause of rejection of du’a. The type of hastiness that is forbidden in Islam is that a person leaves du’a, thinking that God will not respond to it. In Islam, Muslims are instructed not to give up du’a because they do not see a response immediately.
In Islam, in order for a person’s du’a to be accepted by God, it must be for something pure and good.
In Islam it is imperative that a person making du’a have the best of intentions for whatever he or she is asking. An example would be if someone asks for an increase in wealth, they should intend with that increase in wealth to spend more on the poor and on their relatives.
A Muslim is instructed to make du’a with an attentive heart. A Muslim should be aware of what he is saying and should believe in his or her heart that their du’a will be responded to by God.
It states in the Quran in sura Al-Baqara Verse 200:
So when ye have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of Allah, as ye used to celebrate the praises of your fathers,- yea, with far more Heart and soul. There are men who say: “Our Lord! Give us (Thy bounties) in this world!” but they will have no portion in the Hereafter.— Quran, sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayah 200
Again and moreover Muhammad is reported to have said,
“O People! God is al-Tayyib (pure), and He only accepts that which is pure! God has commanded the Messengers, for He said, ‘O Messengers! Eat from the pure foods, and do right.’ Furthermore he said, ‘O you who believe! Eat from the pure and good foods we have given you.’ Then Prophet Muhammad mentioned a traveller on a long journey, who is dishevelled and dusty, and he stretches forth his hands to the sky, saying, ‘O my Lord! O my Lord!’, While his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully; how can he be answered?”
The Hadith above describes a man who earned his money by cheating other people. His money was impure so therefore everything he purchased with his money became impure. His clothes, drink, and food were all purchased with that money which was considered impure, so his clothes, drink and food were all considered impure. According to the above hadith, in Islam a person’s du’a will not be accepted by God if he earns unlawful money.
The hadith also stresses that according to Islam, anyone who eats impure foods, such as pork, will have his or her du’a rejected by God.
In Islam there is no specific time of day to which making du’a is restricted. In Islam, if something more important comes up than du’a, then that takes precedence. What is more important than du’a is defined by the Quran and Sunnah. Some examples include the call to prayer. If the adhan is called, in Islam one must respond to it. Another example is if a person is making du’a, and his or her parents call him or her for assistance, then responding to his or her parents takes precedence over du’a. This means a person must stop making du’a when he or she hears the adhan or the parents calling him or her, to respond. In Islam, the rights of the parents are great and are emphasized greatly in the Quran and Hadiths.
Why Duas are not answered
Main article: Why Duas are not answered?
There are various reasons due to which Du’as, supplications and invocations are not accepted.
Authentic or confirmed reasons
God rejects supplications if the worshipper is hasty or does not have patience.
It was asked, “O Messenger of God?…What does it mean to be hasty?” Prophet Muhammad responded “A worshipper says, ‘I have prayed and prayed , and I don’t yet see that it will be accepted; so he gives up hope of being answered, and leaves du’a’.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (Radiallhu Anhu) that the Messenger of Allah said: “(The Dua) of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not hasty in seeking a response and does not say, ‘I prayed but I have not had a response.’”— Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5981; Muslim, 2735
“A person’s Dua will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.”— Narrated by Muslim.
Change oneself first
This aspect is explained in the following verse:
Allah does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts.— Quran, sura 13 (Ar-Ra’d), ayah 11
One reported Hadith relates as follows,
Once a man said, “O God, forgive me and have mercy and have mercy on me!” This was after the man had finished two raka’ats. Prophet Muhammad said, “You have been hasty, O worshipper! When you finish your prayer, then sit down and praise God with the praise that he is worthy of, and recite durood upon me, then state your du’a…”
If worshipper thinks Dua will not be answered
Muhammad is reported to have said,
“Make du’a to God in a state that you are certain that your du’a will be responded to, and know that God does not respond to a du’a that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart”— Hadith narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim from Abu-Hurayrah
Not thinking positively of God may have invocations unanswered. Muhammad said:
“Allah, may He be exalted, says: ‘I am as My slave thinks I am.’”— Narrated by al-Bukhari, 7405; Muslim, 4675
Sinful or haraam income and food
Muhammad made mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled, and covered with dust.
“He lifts his hands and makes supplication, ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ but his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, and his clothes are unlawful, and his nourishment is unlawful. How then can his supplication be accepted?”
A similar version in Hadith reported by Ahmad, Muslim, and al-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayrah, as mentioned in sahih al-Jami #2744.
“A person’s Dua will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.” Narrated by Muslim.
Asking for something sinful
Abu Hurayrah reports that Muhammad said:
“A person’s Dua will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.”— Narrated by Muslim
A dua for something that is haram cannot be made and will not be fulfilled. Muslims cannot ask for that which is forbidden in Islam. Such duas would definitely not be answered.
Cutting of the ties of kinship
“A person’s Dua will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.” Narrated by Muslim.
“The supplication of a slave continues to be granted as long as he does not supplicate for a sinful thing or for something that would cut off the ties of kinship and he does not grow impatient.”
Making Dua conditional
“Let not any one of you say, ‘O Allah, forgive me if You will, O Allah, have mercy on me if You will.’ Let him be resolute in the matter, whilst knowing that no one can compel Allah to do anything.”— Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim
In Shia Islam
Main article: Shi’a Islam
Praying or Du’a in Shia has an important place as Muhammad described it as a weapon of the believer. Du’a is considered a feature of Shia community in a sense. Performing Du’a in Shia has a special ritual. Because of this, there are many books written on the conditions of praying among Shia. Most of ad’ayieh transferred from the household of Muhammad and then by many books in which we can observe teachings of Muhammad and his household according to Shia. The leaderships of Shia always invited their followers to recite Du’a. For instance, Ali has considered with the subject of Du’a because of his leadership in monotheism. Shia believe that Dua is possible both in terms of philosophy and from other religion. Some philosophers likes Avicenna, however refers to the importance and possibility but reality of dua. He says that if you heard that someone got health by the Mystic or some problem has been resolved by Bua then don’t deny them without reflection suddenly since that may there is a wisdom and mystery. Certainly mystic is one who has connection with Trans physic. Therefore, no one of Islamic sages denied the affection of dua.
All in all we have three attitude concerning dua. Among believers there are three groups on Dua. One group is radical such a way that they believe that there is no role for dua in life of believer. Second group believe that at least some of Dua are of affection but many of them don’t have any affection. Third group are of moderate attitude on Dua. They believe that Dua is of condition and there are preliminaries for fulfillment of Dua. According to Mutahhari, Dua is both premises and conclusion, both means and end. Mutahhari knows Dua as disposition and innate desire within human.
Other optional etiquette
There are various other optional techniques and etiquettes in the Quran and Sunnah for Du’a. Listed here are a limited few and just a fraction of the etiquettes of du’a that scholars have found in reference to in the Quran and Sunnah.
Raising one’s hands
Raising one’s hands is an encouraged option. There are many hadith that describe how Muhammad raised his hands during du’a. Some hadith describe him having raised his hands way up high in emergency situations. Many scholars agree that if it is not an extreme situation that Muhammad did not raise his hands above his head. The exact manner that many scholars in Islam describe how high the hands should be raised during a regular Du’a is up to the shoulders with palms placed together.
Scholars however agree that there are two authentic ways of raising one’s hands: when not in drastic conditions the palms of one’s hands should be turned up facing the skies, whilst the back of one’s hands are facing the ground, then the du’a can be “recited”. One must also make sure to face the Qibla (direction of prayer), whilst making du’a.
The second way agreed upon by scholars is to have the palms facing one’s face; once again one must face the Qibla, but this time the back of one’s hands should also face the Qibla.
Evidence for facing the Qibla during du’a can be found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim
Abdullah ibn Zayd narrated:
‘The Prophet left (Madinah) to this prayer, seeking rain. So he made a du’a, and asked for rain, then he faced the Qibla and turned his cloak inside-out’— Sahih al-Bukhari #6343, Muslim No. 894 and others
Facing the Qiblah
The Qibla is the direction that Muslims face while performing salat.
There are also Sahih hadith which narrate that it is forbidden to lift one’s eyes towards the sky in prayer.
Abu Huraira reported:
People should avoid lifting their eyes towards the sky while supplicating in prayer, otherwise their eyes can be snatched away.
Wiping the face
Once the du’a has been completed, it is most common for the supplicant to wipe their face with their hands, and this act signals the end of the du’a.
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
The Prophet said:…
Supplicate Allah with the palms of your hands; do not supplicate Him with their backs upwards. When you finish supplication, wipe your faces with them.— Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood
Narrated Yazid ibn Sa’id al-Kindi:
When the Prophet made supplication (to Allah) he would raise his hands and wipe his face with his hands.— Abu Dawood, Sunan Abu Dawood
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia