Why do we repeat duas (supplications) three times?

The Details of the Question

Why do we say the duas three times?
How should be the structure form and ethical principles of a dua be?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Answer 1:

A dua should be made sincerely and persistently because the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would repeat each dua sentence three times.

The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised us to say dua with a sensitive heart, be very precise about the wish, simply describe the wish, not to be hasty for the dua to come true but to be persistent with the dua and repeat the wish for three times when necessary. (See Bukhari, Daawat, 20-22; Tirmidhi, Daawat, 12, 66)

Abdullah bin Masud (RA), one of the Companions, said, “Our Prophet (pbuh)  repeated his wish three times when he said a dua and in the same way he would repeat three times when he requested something” (Muslim, Jihad, 107)

Our Prophet (PBUH) advised Anas bin Malik (RA), one of the Companions, to put his hand on the area where he felt pain and say:

“Bismillah (In the name of Allah), I take refuge in the power of Allah from the harm from the pain I suffer” And he added “then remove your hand and repeat this dua for three or five times(Abu Ya’la, Dhikr and Dua, No: 1126)


Answer 2:

In Islamic sources, it is indicated that it is necessary to obey some conditions related to the form and ethical principles for the dua as it is the case for the other deeds of worship.

Hence, the one who is praying (saying dua), should assume a manner that is appropriate for dua. As a matter of fact, it is described how to act and what to do in salah (prayer), which is also a kind of dua.

These actions apparently frame and discipline the man’s attitude of respect and taking refuge in Allah and inherently and they mean man’s expressing his weakness, incapability in the presence of Allah and presenting Him his wishes of praise, thankfulness and help.

In any kind of dua and prayer, a servant’s being purified from the moral defects such as arrogance, show off, rudeness and ignorance is the essence of good manners. According to a verse in the Quran (al-A’raf 7/, 206) Those who are in the presence of Allah do not disdain to do Him worship; on the contrary, they celebrate His praises, and prostrate before Him. It is necessary for the one who mentions Allah to stand in awe and get the position of begging and to celebrate with respect and without raising his/her voice. The opposite is unheedfulness.

In another verse which demands the prayer (dua) to be said wholeheartedly and secretly, any act opposite to this is described as a deed which Allah does not like and exceeding of the limits. (al-A’raf 7-55, 56)

According to a narration, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stopped the Muslims who started praising Allah Loudly and said “You are not praying to the one who is deaf or far away but to Allah who hears and sees everything.” (Bukhari, Daawat, 50; Tirmidhi, Daawat, 58)

In another verse in the Quran about this issue, it is indicated that Allah is very close to the people and replies the prayers of those who calls on Him. (al-Baqara 2/186)

Related books include some principles about what kind of a propriety should the servant be in while saying a dua in the presence of Allah and under what circumstances his/her dua would be accepted. Some of the emphasized points are as follows: the subject, time, place, way to start and end a prayer, and the body’s position while saying a dua.

Ghazzali gives a 10-item “manners” list which also includes the principles to make a dua sincerely, secretly and with a low voice. Accordingly, a dua should be done in blessed times and places by facing towards the qiblah, by starting with the name of Allah, by feeling the regret for the sins and persistently by believing that it is going to be accepted by Allah. (Ihya, I, 304-309)

It can be said that sitting on the knees, raising hand palms high in the begging position and praying by heart by praising Allah silently is a natural dua position. The ones who saw the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that sometimes he raised his hand to a level that allowed his armpits to be seen, he wiped his face after saying a dua, (Bukhari, Daawat, 23; Tirmidhi, Daawat, 11) and sometimes he repeated some words expressing praise, takbir and glory a few times and he used his finger joints to count them. (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 72)

However,  the Messenger of Allah did not want glorification to last for a long time and said that it would be enough to say comprehensive expressions like   “as  many times as the number of creatures” or “as the weight of Allah’s throne” three times. (Muslim, Dhikr, 79; Abu Dawud, Salah, 359; Tirmidhi, Daawat, 89, 114, 121)

Our Prophet (pbuh)  said that it is more appropriate to praise Allah first, say salawat for His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) before wishing something from Allah while saying a dua. (Abu Dawud, Salah, 358)

A dua should be said secretly and silently, by feeling the regret inside for the sins, by facing the qiblah, by starting with the name of Allah and during the dua, religious consciousness should be increased and focused and one should not be hasty about the acceptance of the dua by Allah. It is necessary to continue saying dua persistently by believing by heart that it will be accepted.

Besides, before presenting the wishes to Allah, it is necessary to thank and praise Allah, and say salawat for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). One should make wudu (Tirmidhi Daawat, 125), face toward the qiblah if it is possible and repeat  the dua sentences three times.

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