Must One Stick to Ma’thur Duas in the Prayer?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by


As salamu ‘alaykum, I was in the masjid the other night and a brother and I was discussing whether or not it was permissible to make extra dua (in one’s own words) while in sujood. He is from the hanafi school and he said that it was not good to do that and this is what his Imam told him. I know somewhere in Umdatul Salik (Reliance of the Traveller) there is a section where Ibn Hajar al Asqalani (raheemahullah) mentions that the Muslim can make his/her own ijtihad when it comes to dua to Allah. Please direct me to the Shafi’i position and its evidences and also share with us any difference of opinion in order for us to be lenient in areas where leniency is needed and for us to have respect for the ‘Ulema who differ with us. Jazak’Allaahu Khairan.

Country: United States


Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

In Sahih Muslim, there is a hadith related with the wording,

أقرب ما يكون العبد من ربه إذا كان ساجدا فاجتهدوا في الدعاء

“The nearest that a slave is to his Lord is when he is prostrating, so exert yourselves in supplication.” (The wording is fa akthiru also comes in Sahih Muslim v. 4, p. 735)

Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in Tuhfah v. 2, p. 111 and Khatib in Mughni v. 1, p. 391 based the ruling on supplicating in prostration on this hadith.

What is ma’thur – related from the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam) – is best. On the nature of what one may supplicate for in his prayers, Imam Nawawi discussed some details in Sharh al-Muhadhdhab v. 3, p. 469 where he discussed the dua after tashahhud. In the Madhhab, Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni questioned supplications like for example, “O Allah! Provide me with a slave-girl, her features such-and-such…,” while the majority of the As-hab al-Wujuh allowed for this; maintaining that one may pray to Allah for both the worldly and next-worldly.

The hadith evidence only mentions “dua,” without a restriction on it. If this be restricted, it would require evidence. The command akthiru is an incitement to ask one’s Lord for every need one may have, turning to Him Alone. In fact, Ibn Hibban related in his Sahih v. 3, p. 177 on the authority of Anas that the Prophet Muhammad (sallaAllahu alayhie wa sallam) said, “Let one of you ask his Lord for all his needs, until the strap on his sandals.”

In ‘Umdat al-Qari v. 6, p. 119, Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni related a differing opinion. And this opinion is taken by the Hanafis. They based their ruling on a hadith related by Imam Muslim, “Verily, this prayer of ours, nothing from human speech is suitable for it.”

The Shafi’is respond to this that the aforementioned hadiths, like akthiru fi al-dua’, are unrestricted, thus any dua may be made. Everything which is considered as “dua,” is included in the hadith; and evidence is required to restrict it. The Shafi’s answer to the hadith brought by the Hanafis is that there is a clear difference between “dua” and “kalam al-nas.”

Noteworthy, the situation of supplicating in sujud at length is not an absolute ruling. Rather it is situational, and considers for example that one does so when he is not leading others in prayer or a following another in prayer. One leading others in prayer is generally supposed to make the prayer brief to not cause inconvenience to others, unless he knows those behind him like to have a lengthened prayer. This is related by Imam Nawawi in Sharh al-Muhadhdhab v. 3, p. 357 from Imam Shafi’s Kitab al-Umm,

قال الشافعي في الأم ويجتهد في الدعاء ما لم يكن إماما فيثقل على من خلفه أو مأموما فيخالف إمامه

“Imam Shafi’i said in al-Umm, ‘And one should exert himself in supplication when he is not leading the prayer and that would be a burden on who is behind him, or a follower and that would make him contradict who he is following in the prayer.’”

And Allah knows best. Fatwa Dept.

This answer was collected from which was a repository of Islamic answers as per the Shafi’i madhhab. The website no longer functions. At its peak, many ‘ulama were involved with the site including Shaykh Mawlana Taha Karaan, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah ibn Abdullah, and Shaykh AbdurRagman Khan.

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