Du'a (دُعَاء) is a supplication in Islam, an Arabic term which means to 'call out' or to 'summon'. Muslims use this term and call out to God, and Muslims regard this as one of the second greatest acts of worship in Islam. The Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have said "Dua is the very essence of worship." One of Allah's commands expressed to Muslims through the Qur'an is for them to call out to it:

"And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)!"

In Islam, du'a is considered to be the most noble act in the sight of God. Muhammad is reported to have said "There is nothing more noble in the sight of God than du'a.

Muhammad is also reported to have stated that "The best form of worship is du'a.

Some noble Muslims especially Ali and his greatson Zayn al-Abidin introduced numerous Dua which learn every Muslim how to pray and ask God. These Dua are gathered in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya by Zayn al-Abidin or be separated and gathered by other schorls such as Mafatih al-Janan.

Du'a to God

In Islam Muslims must direct du'a only to God. Anything else would be classified as shirk. In the Quran in Surah Al-Jinn Verse 20 it states:

"Say: 'I do no more than invoke my Lord, and I join not with Him any (false god).'"

Islamic belief says that only 'God (Allah) can hear anything and knows the situation a person is in and is capable of responding to a person's request. In the Quran, the following verse describes all other objects to which du'a is made to, other than God. Quran; Surah Al-Fatir Verse 14:

"If ye invoke them , they will not listen to your call, and if they were to listen, they cannot answer your (prayer). On the Day of Judgment they will reject your 'Partnership'. and none, (O man!) can tell thee (the Truth) like the One Who is acquainted with all things."

The Quran commands mankind to make du'a to Allah in the following terms:

And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell - in humiliation!

In Islamic belief, worship is a right that is due only to God, and it is shirk to divert any act of worship to other than God.

However, the mainstream Shia schools of thought hold that one may supplicate to God by means of an intermediary, such us by saying "Oh God, fulfill my need by the baraka (or Wasilah) of so and so" wherein the prayer is directed to God, but mention is made of someone, or something beloved to God.

Types and categories

Types of Du'a mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah

Dua is essentially an expression of submission of faith to God and 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. 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 represents a very broad concept. In Islam, every single act of worship includes this type of du'a. Examples would include when a Muslim prays salat or gives zakaat or fasts.

With respect to what is asked

Du'a can also be divided into two broad categories depending on what is being asked. These two categories include religion and the world. Examples of making du'a for religion would include things such as if a Muslim asked God to increase their faith or ask God to forgive them for their sins. Examples pertaining to the world would include things such as if a Muslim asks God for an increase in wealth, to be cured from a disease, or to be granted more children. In Islam, a Muslim is supposed to ask from both these categories.

"Holy Du'a"

Holy Du'a is the Ismaili obligatory prayer said three times daily, at both ends of the day and early night. (Quran - 011.114 (YUSUFALI): "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):) Holy Du'a is read in the Arabic language. Until recently it was read in the local language of the Jamaat.

Zayn al-Abidin's Dua

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 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 Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is known as the Psalms of Islam.

bgcolor=#F0FFF0|An extract of Dua Abu Hamza al-Thumali by Zayn al-Abidin:

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.

The Pre-Conditions of Du'a in Islam

In Islam there are nine pre-conditions that need to be present in order for a du'a to be accepted.

1. The realization that only God responds to a du'a.

This first pre-condition can be supported by the following verse in the Quran. In Surah Al-Naml Verse 62:

Or, Who listens to the [soul] distressed when it calls on Him, and Who relieves its suffering, and makes you inheritors of the earth? So is there any god besides Allah? Little it is that ye heed!

2. Sincerity in Du'a to God alone

This is basically summed up in one sentence: in Islam a Muslim prays to God alone. This can be supported by several verses in the Quran.

In Surah Al-Jinn Verse 18 it says: "And the places of worship are for God [alone]: So invoke not any one along with God;'

In Surah Al-An'am Verse 40 it says: Say: "Think ye to yourselves, if there come upon you the wrath of God, or the Hour [that ye dread], would ye then call upon other than God?- [reply] if ye are truthful!

In Surah Al-A'raf Verse 194 it says: Verily those whom ye call upon besides God are servants like unto you: Call upon them, and let them listen to your prayer, if ye are [indeed] truthful!

In Surah Al-A'raf Verse 197 it says: "But those ye call upon besides Him, are unable to help you, and indeed to help themselves."

3. Perform Tawassul Properly

The term Tawassul means the seeking of God's help and response through something beloved to Him.

There are many ways of performing Tawassul, as mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, one may make mention of the names and attributes of God (See 99 Names of Allah) or a good deed one has done, a blessed time such as Ramadhan, or any blessed person including Muhammad. One could also ask the pious to make du'a to God on one's behalf. But the asking through another person (including Muhammad) is strongly disputed by the Sunni scholars. It should be noted that Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal allowed, practised and encouraged tawassul through Muhammad. Hafidh Ibn Taymiyyah was the first renowned Sunni scholar who disallowed tawassul through deceased including Muhammad.

4. Lack of Hastiness

In Islam, to be hasty in du'a is said to be a cause of rejection of du'a. The concept of hastiness is described in the following hadith.

It was asked, "O Messenger of God?...What does it mean to be hasty?" Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam 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'.

Basically this means that a person makes du'a and it does not get answered right away so a person gives up and stops asking for it. 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 to not give up du'a because they do not see a response immediately. This can be supported by verses in the Quran and Hadiths. In Surah Al-Anbiya Verse 19 it says:

Unto Him belongeth whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who dwell in His presence are not too proud to worship Him, nor do they weary;

Muhammad is reported to have said: "You will be responded to as long as you are not hasty (meaning that you give up du'a)

The word hasty is used because it means that a person is hasty in expecting a response.

5. Du'a for things that are good and better

In Islam, in order for a person's du'a to be accepted by God, it must be for something pure and good.

6. To Have Good Intentions

In Islam it is imperative that a person making du'a have the best of intention 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.

7. The Presence of An Attentive Heart

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"''

According to this hadith, a Muslim is instructed to make du'a with a mindful 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.

8. Purity of One's Sustenance

It states in the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 200:

So when ye have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of God, 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.

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 Hazrat Muhammad sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam 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.

9. That the Du'a does not interfere with something more important

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.

The etiquette of Du'a

Etiquette is described in the Quran and Sunnah for Du'a. Listed here are a limited few and just a fraction of ettiquettes of du'a that scholars have found in reference to in the Quran and Sunnah.

Praising God before the Du'a and praying upon Muhammad sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam

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 sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam 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 pray upon me, then state your du'a..."

Raising one's hands

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 ones hands, when not in drastic conditions, the palms of ones hands should be turned up facing the skies, whilst the back of ones hands is staring towards the ground, then the du'a can be "recited", one must also make sure to face the Qiblah (direction of prayer), whilst making du'a. The second way agreed upon by scholars is to have the palms facing ones face, once again one must face the Qiblah, but this time the back of his hands should also face the Qiblah.

Evidence for facing the Qiblah during du'a can be found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim-

Abdullah ibn Zayd (radiAllahu anhu) narrated: 'The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) left (Madinah) to this prayer, seeking rain. So he made a du'a, and asked for rain, then he faced the qiblah and turned his cloak inside-out' Sahih al-Bukhari #6343, Muslim #894 and others

Facing the Qiblah

The Qiblah is the direction that Muslims face while performing salah. It has been reported in hadith that Muhammad faced the Qiblah while making du'a as narrated in several hadith.

There are also well-known Sahih hadith which narrate that it is forbidden to lift one's eyes towards the sky in prayer.

Abu Huraira(ra) reported: People should avoid lifting their eyes towards the sky while supplicating in prayer, otherwise their eyes can be snatched away.

Summary of the etiquettes

There are numerous etiquettes of du'a mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. There are too many of them to all be listed here in detail. However, here is a rough list of a few other etiquettes of du'a:

1. Performing wudu

2. To Cry during du'a

3. To Expect the best from God

4. To Pray with Humility and fear

5. To Complain Only to God

6. To Pray Quietly

7. Acknowledge one's sins

8. To Implore God Earnestly

9. To Be Determined in one's Request

10. To Repeat the Du'a Three Times

11. To Use Du'as of the Quran and Sunnah

Other topics

In Islam there are many more topics regarding du'a. There are acts that are discouraged during du'a. There are times described in the Quran and Sunnah when a person's du'a is more likely to be answered. There are also specific du'as for specific occasions mentioned in the Sunnah. There are numerous topics, so numerous that all of them can not be discussed in this article, that is why only a few have been mentioned.

See also


Nawawi, Abu Zakariyya Yahiya Ibn Sharaf Kitab al-Adhkar. Qadhi, Yasir Du'a: the Weapon of the Believer. Al-Hidaayah Publishing & Distribution, ISBN 1-898649-63-4

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