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Converts Du`a' (Supplication) FAQs & Fatwas Prayer

Supplicating in Another Language while Praying

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Question:

I recently converted and, while I’ve learned to say my prayers in Arabic, I cannot make general supplications (du`a’) in Arabic when I prostrate. Is it Islamically acceptable to say those supplications in English?

Answer:

I would like to welcome you to Islam, and I pray that Allah will bless you and guide you to be a source of blessings and goodness for others.

The position of the Maliki school is that it is permissible for one to supplicate during his prayers in a language other than Arabic. This was noted by a great scholar named al-Dasuqi who said, “It is permissible for one who is not fluent in Arabic to supplicate during prayers in a different language” (Hashiyyah al-Dusuqi ‘ala al-Sharh al-Kabir, vol. 4, pg. 451).

And Allah knows best.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

11 Comments

  • Br. Suhaib

    Salam aly kum

    What you mean supplications? What we say in prostration is “suban e rab bil ala” 3 times- right? Do mean just bow down and pray to Allah in general – not in salat?

    Thanks in advance for clarification.

    Mike

  • Bismillah

    To Mike, Assalaamu Alaykum:

    Abu Huraryah (Allah be well pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The closest a slave is to his Lord is while he is in a state of prostration, so increase you supplications [therein].” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa`i, Ahmad]

    Therefore it is advisable to make supplication during sujood in prayer, after having said Subhana Rabbil Alaa (at least once).

    I hope this was of benefit.

    And Allah knows best.

  • Assalamu Aleikum Ya Sheikh,

    Is it permissible, if doing Salat-ul Witr in Jama’at with a couple of friends to make the remainder of the Dua-a Qunoot in English after having said the necessary parts in Arabic (if there are necessary parts that have to be said in Arabic).

    Jazakumullahu Khayran for having this wonderful site. I remember you talking about it at your speech at Berkeley on Education the first night you were there in March and it’s a blessing for the Ummah.

    Your younger brother in Islam,
    Mohamed

  • Alhamdulillah. Allah is Merciful. A person is so close to Allah at that time, and it’s a special opportunity to speak to Allah from the heart, in the language of one’s own heart so to speak, and to supplicate freely.

    • Just another comment about the “language of the heart”: a friend of mine told me that it’s best for multilingual parents to speak to their children in the language of their hearts, because the emotion comes through more strongly, and all the personal associations that one has from a lifetime of experience and joy. So Arab immigrants in the USA, for example, should speak to their children in Arabic (the language of their hearts), and let them acquire their English from the surrounding society. Strangely enough, as I continue to learn Spanish I think it has become the language of my heart, maybe because the time frame during which I first learned it was a peaceful time in my life.

      In any case, it’s wonderful to make duaa to Allah in the language of your heart.

  • I appreciate the change in picture for this article. The last one was a bit confusing 😉
    Speaking of dua, there was an earthquake in Baja yesterday– a reminder for us to keep the suffering in our duas.

  • I would also like to know the answer to the question that a brother asked above….can the dua being made out loud during praying witr together be made in a language other than Arabic?

    JAK

    • Praise be to Allaah.
      Firstly:

      If the worshipper can say du’aa’ well in Arabic, it is not permissible for him to make du’aa’ in any other language.

      But if the worshipper is unable to make du’aa’ in Arabic, there is no reason why he should not make du’aa’ in his own language, so long as he starts learning Arabic in the meantime.

      With regard to making du’aa’ in languages other than Arabic outside of prayer, there is nothing wrong with that, especially if that will make the worshipper more focused in his du’aa’.

      Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:

      It is permissible to make du’aa’ in Arabic and in languages other than Arabic. Allaah knows the intention of the supplicant and what he wants, no matter what language he speaks, because He hears all the voices in all different languages, asking for all kinds of needs.

      Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/488-489.

      Secondly:

      There is nothing wrong with reciting du’aa’s mentioned in the Qur’aan even if there is no report in the Sunnah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited them in his du’aa’. They are all good and contain guidance. Most of the du’aa’s of the Prophets and Messengers that we know are from the Qur’aan. Undoubtedly their du’aa’s are the most eloquent and most profound in meaning.

      Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

      People should make du’aa’ by reciting the prescribed du’aa’s that are mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, because these are undoubtedly virtuous and good, and this is the straight path. The scholars of Islam and the imams have mentioned the du’aa’s that are prescribed in Islam, and turned away from the innovated du’aa’s, so we should follow them in that.

      Majmoo’ al-Fataawa’, 1/346, 348.

      And Allaah knows best.

      Islam Q&A

  • […] Supplicating in Another Language while Praying Question: I recently converted and, while I’ve learned to say my prayers in Arabic, I cannot make general supplications (du`a’) in Arabic when I prostrate. Is it Islamically acceptable to say those supplications in English? Answer: I would like to welcome you to Islam, and I pray that Allah will bless you and guide you […] […]

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