What is the meaning of dua (supplication) and the wisdom behind it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Dua (supplication) means to beg Allah, to invoke, to pray, to call and to ask for help. It lexically means to call. Man approaches Allah with supplication and attains peace by feeling easy spiritually.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states the following about the meaning of and wisdom behind supplication:  

“Supplication is the spirit of worship and results from sincere belief. For the person who makes supplication shows that there is someone who rules the whole universe, saying: “He knows the least significant things about me, can bring about my farthest aims; who sees every circumstance of mine, and hears my voice. He hears the voices of all beings, and He hears my voice too. He does all these things, so I await my smallest needs from Him too. I ask Him for them! See the extensive, sincere belief in God’s unity that supplication gives, and the sweetness and purity of the light of belief that it shows!  Understand the meaning of the verse, ‘What would my Lord care for you if not for your supplication?’ (1) and listen to the decree of ‘Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer).’ (2) If He had not wanted to give, He would not have given wanting.” (3)

If Allah did not give us what we want via supplication, He would not have given us the feeling of wanting/asking. We see that He changes seasons to give us the food and drink that our stomachs want and need and that He fills “the season of spring like a wagon full of sustenance” and sends it to us. Our Lord, who is so compassionate and merciful to His slaves, will definitely give us what we want via our supplications. On the other hand, He will give us eternity, His consent and Paradise, which are the greatest requests and needs of our spirits just like He meets the requests and needs of our stomachs.  

“The best, finest, sweetest, most immediate fruit and result of supplication is this, that the person who offers it knows there is someone who listens to his voice, sends a remedy for his ailment, takes pity on him, and whose hand of power reaches everything. He is not alone in this great hostel of the world; there is an All-Generous Being who looks after him and makes it friendly. Imagining himself in the presence of the One who can bring about all his needs and repulse all his innumerable enemies, he feels a joy and relief; he casts off his load, which is as heavy as the world, and exclaims: ‘All praise be to God, the Lord and Sustainer of All the Worlds!” (4)

Supplication is also a deed of worship. There are a lot of verses and hadiths regarding the issue. Some of them are as follows:

God Almighty states the following:

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” (5);

“What would my Lord care for you if not for your supplication?” (6)

According to what is reported from Numan Ibnu Bashir, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘Supplication is verily worship.’ Then, he recited the following verse of the Quran:

“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!’ (7) (8)

Besides, supplication is the easiest and best thing a person can do because it is a deed of worship that one can do with wudu or without wudu, while lying down, sitting, walking, working, in short, in any case and under any condition. Since a person who says supplications always mentions Allah, doors of goodness will be opened for him and his deeds will become easier. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) says in a hadith narrated from Ibn Umar that supplication opens the doors of mercy and states the following:

“Whomsoever of you the door of supplication is opened for, the doors of mercy have been opened for him. And Allah is not asked for anything more beloved to Him than being asked for afiyah (health, wellbeing). Supplication benefits man against what strikes and what does not strike. Only supplication prevents a misfortune. So, hold fast to supplication.” (9)

According to a sacred hadith reported from Abu Hurayra, our Lord states the following:

“Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?” A version of the hadith in Muslim is as follows: “I am Malik (King). I am Malik. Who will invoke me?” (10)

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi related to supplication is very important:

“Also, supplication is a form of worship and recognition of man’s servitude to God. The fruits of this pertain to the hereafter. The aims pertaining to this world are the times of a particular sort of supplication and worship. For example, the prayers and supplications for rain are a form of worship. Drought is the time for such worship. Worship and supplications of this sort are not in order to bring rain. If they are performed with that intention alone they are not worthy of acceptance, for they are not sincere worship. Sunset is the time of the evening prayers. And eclipses of the sun and moon are the times of two particular prayers known as salat al-kusuf and salat al-khusuf. That is to say, with the veiling of the two luminous signs of the night and day, God’s tremendousness is proclaimed, so Almighty God calls his servants to a sort of worship at those times. The prayers are not so that the sun and moon will be revealed (whose appearance and how long the eclipses will continue have anyway been reckoned by astronomers). In just the same way, drought is the time for the prayers for rain, and the visitation of calamities and infliction of harmful things the times of certain supplications when man realizes his impotence and through his supplication and entreaty seeks refuge at the Court of One Possessing Absolute Power. Even if the calamities are not lifted despite many supplications, it may not be said that they were not accepted. It should rather be said that the time for the supplication is not yet over. If through His graciousness and munificence Almighty God removes the calamity, light upon light, then the time for that supplication is over and done with. That is to say, supplication has the meaning of worship and man’s acknowledging his servitude to God.”

“As for worship and servitude to God, it should be purely and sincerely for God’s sake. Man should only proclaim his impotence and seek refuge with Him through supplication, he should not interfere in His dominicality. He should leave the taking of measures to Him and rely on His wisdom. He should not accuse His Mercy. Indeed, what is in reality established by the Qur’an’s clear verses is that just as all beings offer their own particular glorification and worship, so what rises to the Divine Court from all the universe is supplication. This is either through the tongue of innate ability like the supplication of plants and animals, through which they seek forms from the Absolute Bestower and to display and manifest His Names. Or it is through the tongue of innate need. These are the supplications for all their essential needs – beyond their power to obtain – offered by animate beings. Through this tongue, the animate beings seek certain things from the Absolutely Generous One for the continuance of their lives, like a sort of sustenance. Or it is supplication through the tongue of exigency, through which all beings with spirits who find themselves in some plight or predicament make supplication and seek urgent refuge with an unknown protector; indeed, they turn to the All-Compassionate Sustainer. If there is nothing to prevent it, these three sorts of supplication are always accepted.” (4)


(1) al-Furqan, 25/77.
(2) al-Mu’min, 40/60.
(3) Risale-i Nur Collection, I/489, (24. M.).
(4) ibid.
(5) al-Baqara, 2/186.
(6) al-Furqan, 25/77.
(7) al-Mu’min (Ghafir), 40/60.
(8) Tirmidhi, Tafsir, (al-Mu’min (Ghafir), (2973); Abu Dawud, Salah 358.
(9) Tirmidhi, Daawat 112, (3542).
(10) Bukhari, Tawhid 35, Tahajjud 14, Daawat 13, Muslim, Salatul-Musafırin 166, (758); Muwatta, Qur’an 30, (1,214); Tirmidhi, Daawat 80, (3493); Abu Dawud, Salah 311, (1315).

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