Duʿāʾ (Arabic: الدعاء, plural: adʿīya, أدعية) is the supplication or request of people from God, or from anything they regard as divine. In religious sacred texts, dua is introduced as a way of communication with God and the best act of worship and is also described as "a believer's weapon" and "the light of the heaven and earth."
Several manners have been instructed for dua, such as calling God by His Best Names, asking Him with hope and in a humble manner, beginning the dua with Bismillah ("In the name of God the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful") and salawat (i.e., asking God to bless the Prophet (s) and his family).
Dua is not limited to a particular time or place, but it is more emphasized in some places and times.
The fulfillment of dua in the Qur'an and hadiths are said to be dependent on a number of conditions, such as not relying on anyone other than God, asking God for forgiveness, and doing righteous deeds. It is also mentioned that some factors may lead to the rejection of one's dua, such as illegal income, abandoning the task of commanding good and forbidding evil, and neglecting one's kin.
The Qur'an reports the duas of some of the prophets and righteous people. In Shiite and Sunni hadith collections, various duas and dhikrs are mentioned for the hours of the day and for lunar months, which are called ma'thur (hadith-based) duas. These include: Dua Kumayl, Dua al-Nudba, Dua al-Tawassul, Dua al-Ahd, and Dua al-Jawshan al-Kabir.
Dua is an Arabic word, which means inclining something to oneself by sound or words. Dua is asking someone to do or not to do something. The difference between dua and command is that the one who is commanded to do something is inferior to the one who commands, while in the case of dua the one who is prayed to is superior to the one prays.
The word "dua" and its derivatives are used 215 times in the Qur'an to indicate various meanings, including dua, calling to something, worshiping, making a claim, and stepsons. There are other words used in the Qur'an that are used to indicate the meaning of dua, such as salat, nida', and su'al.
Place in Islamic Culture
Dua is emphasized in the Qur'an and hadiths as a way to communicate with God and as the best worship. In Quran 40:60, God commands people to pray to Him and promises them that He will answer their prayers. In this verse, dua is considered a kind of worship, and those who refuse to make dua out of arrogance are promised to face a humiliating punishment in hell.
According to al-Tabrisi, this verse is a very important verse that shows the value of dua and the virtue of not relying on created beings. Considering this verse and the hadiths that interpret it, the commentators have concluded that dua is an act of worship.
In many Quranic verses, dua is mentioned in the context of emphasizing monotheism and rejecting polytheism. These verses remind the readers that human beings naturally remember God in difficult times and emphasize that only God can fulfill their needs and not the gods of the polytheists.
In hadiths, dua is described as "the weapon of a believer", "best worship", "the light of the heaven and earth", "the key of divine mercy", "the secret of salvation", "the means for increasing one's sustenance", and "the means for repelling afflictions and becoming immune to Satan's evil."
Several manners have been mentioned in religious sources to increase the quality of dua, such as calling God by His Best Names, praying to Him with hope and in a humble manner, not relying on creatures, beginning the dua with asking God for forgiveness, mentioning the purpose of the dua, glorifying God and mentioning His blessings, and praying for others.
- Calling God by His Best Names: 'Allama Tabataba'i maintains that calling God by His Best Names related to one's request is one of the manners of dua.
- Calling God beseechingly and in secret: Some commentators mention that dua occurs when a servant realizes his poverty and weakness on the one hand, and God's power and perfections on the other hand.
- Calling God with hope: When calling God, one has to be hopeful that God will grant one's prayer, not because one deserves it but because God is Merciful and Munificent.
One can find several other manners for dua in hadith collections: making wudu, facing the qibla, performing salat before dua, beginning the dua with saying Bismillah (In the name of God), praising God, salawat (i.e., asking God to bless the Prophet (s) and his family), calling God without being loud, remembering God's blessings and giving thanks for them, confessing to one's sins, praying for others before praying for oneself, doing tawassul to Ahl al-Bayt (a), and ending the dua by saying "Ma sha' Allah la hawl wa la quwwa illa bi-Allah" (whatever God wants [will take place]; there is no power nor might except by God).
In the Qur'an and hadith, many benefits have been mentioned for dua, such as getting closer to God, acquiring more knowledge of God and faith, attracting God's mercy, gaining calmness and confidence, salvation from hell, the motivation for action, reinforcing the sense of responsibility towards society, and protection against afflictions and enemies.
Time and Place
Dua is not restricted to a particular time or place. Every person can make any dua that suits him or her at any given time. Some duas, though, are more emphasized in particular times or places, and some places or times are also said to be more suitable for dua.
The Qadr Night, the middle of Sha'ban, Rajab 27th, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Muharram 1st, before dawn, the times of adhan, Friday eve, when it rains, after obligatory prayers, and when one sees the Ka'ba are among the times in which dua is emphasized. 
The places in which dua is recommended include Mecca, al-Masjid al-Haram, Ka'ba, next to the Black Stone, Rukn al-Yamani, Hijr Isma'il, Arafat, near the Prophet's (s) grave, Rawdat al-Nabi, and the mosques of Sahla and Kufa.
In several verses of the Qur'an, God has promised to grant the duas of those who pray to Him.
However, some conditions have been mentioned in the Qur'an and hadiths for the fulfilment of prayers, such as sincerity, not relying on anyone other than God, praying humbly, praying while having righteous deeds, asking God for forgiveness, praying where believers are gathered, and praying together with tawassul.
Calling God by His Best Names, such as "Lord", "Most Merciful", and "Majestic and Munificent", is also effective in the fulfillment of prayers. According to some hadiths, the Infallibles (a) are also instances of God's Best Names by which prayers are fulfilled.
According to some hadiths, the duas of certain people will not be rejected: the dua of the Prophet (s) and Ahl al-Bayt (a), the dua of parents for their children, the dua of a person who is wronged against the wrongdoer, the dua of one who performs umra, the dua of one who fasts, the dua of a righteous leader for his people, the dua of a sick person and the one who visits him, the dua of one who stays awake at night to worship God, the dua of a child who has not committed sins, and the dua of a believer for his believing brother. It is reported that Imam al-Hasan (a) said, "If someone watches his heart so that nothing enters it with which God is displeased, I guarantee that his prayers will be fulfilled."
The fact that sometimes some duas are not granted has been explained in hadiths to be due to some obstacles, such as sin, illegal income, betrayal, doubting the wilayah of Ahl al-Bayt (a), abandoning the task of commanding good and forbidding evil, oppression, hurting the parents and neglecting the kin, breaking the promises, and being heedless of one's salat.
The fulfillment of a dua is sometimes delayed. According to the hadiths, this is for the greater good of the praying person or to earn him a greater reward. Imam Ali (a) is reported to have said that God's generosity does not invalidate His wisdom, and this is why some prayers are not granted.
Praying for the Others
Shiite tradition emphasizes praying for others, especially for one's parents and children, believers, and those in need. Praying for others is said to be more likely granted and to lead to the fulfillment of one's duas for oneself. It is said that when one prays to God for the good of others, the angels will pray to God for his good, rancor will be removed from his heart, blessings will be sent down unto him, afflictions will be driven away from him, his sins will be forgiven, and his rank will be raised. In the Qur'an and hadiths, asking God to forgive polytheists, disbelievers, and oppressors is prohibited.
The Qur'an quotes the duas of some prophets, righteous people, and angels, such as the duas of Adam (a), Noah (a), Abraham (a), Lot (a), Joseph (a), Moses (a), Solomon (a), Zecheriah (a), Jesus (a), the mother of Mary (a), the People of the Cave, Pharaoh's magicians, and Jesus' disciples.
Qur'anic duas encompass a wide range of material and spiritual requests, including asking God for forgiveness, patience, and gaining victory over the enemies.
Using Quranic Duas in Theological Discussions
Quranic duas have been used in theological discussions. One of the most controversial verses in this regard is Qur'an 2:124, in which Abraham (a) asks God to bestow the position of imamate upon his descendants as well. In response, God implies that He will grant Abraham's dua but not in the case of wrongdoers.
Most Sunni commentators maintain that this verse is evidence for the invalidity of the imamate of a wrongdoer (fasiq) and his lack of authority. It also shows that a judge, a witness, and one who leads prayers must not be a wrongdoer. It also shows that prophets were infallible.
Shiite commentators understand this verse as evidence for the infallibility of the Imams (a) and the invalidity of the imamate of those who commit sins. By taking this and other verses into account, 'Allama Tabataba'i infers the fundamental elements of the doctrine of imamate: the fact that an imam as to be chosen by God, the infallibility of an imam, the fact that the earth will never be devoid of an imam as long as there are human beings on it, the fact that the deeds of people are not hidden from an imam, and the fact that an imam must know all the things that humans need in this world and the hereafter.
According to some commentators, the fact that God commands the Prophet (s) to pray forgiveness for the believers and the fact that God commands people to go to the Prophet (s) so that he prays forgiveness for them proves the validity of intercession and tawassul.
In Shiite and Sunni hadith collections, various duas are taught for hours of the day, lunar months, specific times and places, and for one's various states and situations.
Hadith-based duas in Sunni sources are usually short. They rarely have a specific title, except recent duas which are known by the name of their transmitters or authors, such as the Dua of Khidr (a) and the Dua of Ma'ruf al-Karkhi.
However, the hadith-based duas in Shiite sources are usually long. In early Shiite sources, these duas did not have a specific title, but they have found titles in more recent times. Some of these duas include the following:
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