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Is Making Duaa in Prayer in a Language Other than Arabic Permissible?

01 November, 2022
Q Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. Is it permissible for new Muslims who do not know Arabic to make duaa (invocation) in their own languages during Prayer? Jazakum Allahu Khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

  • Supplicating to Allah shows man’s humbleness and need to his Lord. This is why disdaining to supplicate is equal to haughtiness and arrogance. Almighty Allah is All-Hearing and He answers those who humbly ask Him, no matter in what tongue they do so.
  • It is permissible for new Muslims to offer duaa in any language that is accessible for them and through the utterance of which they find their hearts attentive.
  • New Muslims should learn some reported (prophetic) duaa so that they can recite them in Arabic during Prayer.

Responding to your question, Dr. Rajab Abu Mleeh, Professor of Islamic Studies at Kolej Universiti Insaniah, states:

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What Is Duaa?

Technically, duaa refers to affirmative speech that indicates submissive request and it is also called a request.

Al-Khattabi said:

“The reality of duaa is the servant’s asking his Lord for care and help, while its essence is to show the need for Him. It implies praising Almighty Allah and attributing bountifulness and munificence to Him.

Almighty Allah says,

{And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.} (Al-Baqarah 2:186)”

Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi also narrated through their own chains of narration on the authority of An-Numan ibn Bashir that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed duaa is a worship.” He then recited, {And your Lord said, ‘Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me and do not believe in My Oneness] will surely enter Hell in humiliation!’} (Ghafir 40:60)

Moreover, At-Tirmidhi reported through his own chain of narration from Salman (may Allah be pleased with him) that Prophet Muhammad said, “Indeed, Allah is Ever-Forbearing, Ever-Generous to the extent that when a person lifts his hands (invoking Him), He refrains from returning him empty-handed“.

In addition, Almighty Allah never burdens a person beyond his capacity, and what counts in duaa is the attentiveness and submissiveness of the heart.

Thus, whenever submissiveness is present and the heart is attentive, then – insha’ Allah – Almighty Allah will answer one’s invocation.

Furthermore, the Muslim should learn brief invocations in Arabic so that he can recite them during Prayers.

Duaa in a Language Other than Arabic

On the other hand, jurists have different views regarding invocation in other than the Arabic language during Prayer.

The Hanafis deemed it makruh tanzihi (undesirable that should be avoided) outside Prayer and makruh tahrimi (undesirable that must be avoided) inside Prayer. The Malikis claimed that invocation in other than Arabic is prohibited.

As for the Shafi`is, they distinguished invocation by reported formulas from invocation by other formulas.

Thus, if the invocation is made by reported formulas, there are three opinions the most correct of which is that it is permissible to utter invocation in any language other than Arabic. This applies to those who cannot recite it in Arabic. And that is impermissible for the one who can recite it in Arabic. And if he does so, his Prayer is invalid. This is also the opinion of the Hanbalis. As for invocation outside Prayer, the matter is more flexible.

Ibn Taymiyyah’ View on making duaa in a language other than Arabic

In this regard,  someone asked Ibn Taymiyyah about a man who offered duaa in which he slipped into solecism and another man said to him “Allah does not accept a solecistic duaa“. He replied:

“Whoever says so is a sinner and has deviated from the Quran, the Sunnah and the practice of the Salaf (righteous predecessors).

On the contrary, whoever invokes Allah, believing in none but Him alone and using lawful words, Allah accepts and responds to his invocation, whether it is in a standard (grammatically correct) or solecistic manner.

Besides, the mentioned words are baseless. Rather, if the one invoking Allah does not usually observe grammatical rules, he should not take pains to observe grammatical rules, as some of the Salaf (people) said, “When grammatical rules are (strictly) observed, reverence vanishes”. Likewise, it is reprehensible to use (affected) rhymed prose in duaa. However, if it occurs unaffectedly, then there is no harm in it. For, the source of duaa is the heart, while the tongue is subordinate to it.

Furthermore, when one is primarily preoccupied with improving his language, the attentiveness of his heart weakens.

Therefore, Almighty Allah endows the distressed person invoking Him with an attentive heart with words that were not uttered by him before, and this is heartily felt by every believer.

On the other hand, offering duaa in Arabic as well as in other languages is permissible and Allah knows the objectives and intentions of the one invoking him even if he does not improve his language, for He (Exalted be He) knows of the clamoring (invoking) voices (uttered) in different languages and of the various needs (expressed in such words).”

Ruling on making duaa in a language other than Arabic

According to what is stated above, we say that the opinion we deem preponderant and thus fits to be issued as a Fatwa is that it is permissible to offer duaa in any language that is accessible for new Muslims and through the utterance of which he finds his heart attentive.

Besides, New Muslims should learn some reported (prophetic) invocations so that they can recite them in Arabic during Prayer in order to avoid the controversy.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.