Why do human beings feel the need for Supplication?

A believing individual does not leave his belief on a mental plane and he develops a close relationship with the Being he believes in. One of the relationships between the believer and He Whom he believes in is supplication. In the supplication relationship, the believer and Allah appear as the two main elements. This relationship between Allah and man frequently gets our attention in the Quran, the main source of Islam. In fact, the Quran's beginning and ending with a supplication shows the value Islam gives to it. In the first surah (chapter) of the Quran after giving praise to Allah, it is stated that only He is to be worshipped, help is to be asked from Him, and aid should be sought from Him on the matter of finding the right path and not straying from it.Again, in the Quran's final surah it is stated that man takes refuge from Allah from every kind of evil. At the same time, according to the Quran, one of man's reasons for existing is supplication, and it is stated, "My Lord is not uneasy because of you if ye call not on Him.3 In addition, Allah says in the Quran: "Call on me; I will answer your prayers."In another verse it is stated: "Call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts)."

In the Prophet's traditions supplication is also persistently mentioned and supplication's place in religious life is emphasized. While in one hadith (generic name given to the sayings of the Prophet)) he says, "Supplication is the essence of worship," in another he says, "Supplication is worship," thus identifying supplication as an act of worship. Saying in another hadith, "There is nothing better than supplication to Allah,"Muhammad (pbuh) points out the closeness between the praying believer and Allah. As is understood in the Quranic verses, Allah persistently wants man to pray, and in the hadiths the Prophet indicates the meaning and importance of supplication and its place in religion. While faith ties the believing individual to a supernatural power and exalts him in every way, deeds require living according to the rules set up by the transcendent power. Supplication, on the other hand, can be taken into consideration within the framework of deeds tied to faith and evaluated in two sections.

Motives that Direct Man to Supplication in the Quran: Together with there being various motives for supplication in the Quran, they can be evaluated in two groups.

1) Needs and desires: Regardless of the reasonas long as needs and desires are not met, they continue to put pressure on the individualIf needs and desires are continuously not met, it is inevitable that some spiritual and physical discomfort will appear in the organism. For they can only be quieted by being fed. The needs and desires that pass in the supplications in the Quran can be taken up in two groups.

a) Needs and desires related to worldly life: It can be said that the last four verses of the Fatiha Surah top this list: "Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray." Man chose servanthood and became tied to Allah; he promised to show this by obeying His commands, i.e., worship. In this case the believer accepts Allah's commands and before this greatness and exaltedness, he accepts his situation knowingly. When the servant's situation is made obvious in these verses, whatever he needs beyond obedience to make his existence safe, these are listed. In fact, in order for the believer not to stray from the path Allah has showed him, he asks for aid from his Lord. The servant not only takes refuge in Allah in a general way, but he also mentions whatever needs he has. For example, another supplication that is directed towards worldly needs and desires is: "My Lord, make this a city of peace, and feed its people with fruits, -such as believe in God and the Last Day." Abraham made this supplication when he left his wife Hagar and their baby Ishmael in the place where Mecca was later located. It is seen that in this supplication two of man's basic needs are emphasized. One of these is being removed from danger, to live in a safe place; the second is to want food that nurtures man in order to continue life. Again, related to worldly needs, Zachariah mentions this need in the Quran: "O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth Prayer!" 10 

As is known, from time to time humans can face unbearable pain and affliction. These two examples of this subject in the Quran form open proof that in face of unbearable pain and suffering, man seeks help from and takes refuge in Allah. The first example is this supplication made by Jacob in relation to Joseph's troubles: "For me patience is most fitting: against that which ye assert. It is God (alone) whose help can be sought." 11 The second example is Job's12 supplication. When his body was covered with sores, he prayed: "Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are Merciful."13

b) Needs and desires related to the Afterlife: For a believing person desires are not limited to this world, because there is also an afterlife that he believes in. According to information given in the Quran regarding the afterlife, it can be clearly seen that believers make various supplications regarding needs in the afterlife.

The supplication believers make in order to be able to enter heaven is expressed as follows in the Quran: "Our Lord! Grant us what Thou didst promise unto us through Thine Apostles, and save us from shame on the Day of Judgment." 14 The believer also believes in hell as well as heaven in the afterlife, and having learned about both of them from the Quran, he asks for heaven from his Lord to escape the punishment of hell. Again, when Pharaoh's15 wife believed in Allah, her husband first tortured her. In order to escape from her husband and seek her Lord's protection and assure her safety, she prayed to her Lord: "O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings." 16 

In the second group of supplications related to needs and desires for the afterlife there is the desire not to fall into hell. While, on the one hand, showing a desire to enter heaven, on the other hand, the believer seeks ways to be saved from going to hell. He turns towards Allah and prays sincerely, "Our Lord! Save us from the fire."  He pleads by praying to Allah. Again, while mentioning the special characteristics of believers, the Quran informs that they pray:"Our Lord! Turn the punishment of hell away from us."

The third group of supplications related to the afterlife dwells on protection and forgiveness. In the afterlife an account of our activities in this world will be made. In order to be saved from punishment for behavior that his Lord did not want him to do and that can be called sin, man asks Allah to forgive his sins and cleanse him of the marks made by it. In fact, one of the believer's supplications mentioned in the Quran is: "O our Lord! Cover us with Thy Forgiveness -me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established!"17 In this respect, regardless of which situation a Muslim finds himself in, he immediately forwards the matter he cannot resolve or his wishes to his Lord. This situation can be seen in the Quran with the first human being, Adam, 66 and his wife Eve. They ate the fruit of a forbidden tree and when they were punished, they made this supplication: "Our Lord! We wronged ourselves; if You do not forgive us and pity us, we will be among those at loss." 6S   According to this, everyone can make a mistake. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Regardless, a human can feel regret after taking himself to account and ask to be forgiven. It is possible to understand this from his supplications.

Another group of supplications related to the afterlife are those made by someone who has found the truth and asks not to be cut off from it. Because man knows that from time to time he shows spiritual instability or weak will, he asks help from his Lord not to be cut off from purity by this instability or weakness of will. He pleads to Allah: "Our Lord! Do not allow our hearts to stray after You have shown us the true path..."

Another supplication of a believing person related to the afterlife is not to be held responsible for things he is not strong enough to handle. He prays as follows: Our Lord! Do not hold us responsible if we forget or are mistaken! As you did for those who have gone before us, do not load us with things we are not strong enough to carry! Forgive us, and take pity on us! You are our Mawla (owner, master)..." 

It is only natural for a person to ask help from someone else in matters that are beyond him. For man is a creature with a social facet as much as a personal one. The request for help can be to other human beings or to the divine realm transcending man. Here the essential point is that help comes from Allah who owns everything. A believer tries to obtain this help by means of supplication made to Allah. In supplication a person's inner state and needs that derive from it are displayed. In fact, it can be seen in supplications in the Quran that needs are never neglected. Due to man's creation and limitations, he is dependent on Allah in every way. "Supplication is a confession of need." 18  According to a believer's faith, even if all solutions are exhausted, his Creator's solutions are not.

2)Weakness and Helplessness: While, on the one hand, carrying the burden of his desire to fulfill his expectations, on the other hand, man can be inadequately equipped. One of the doors of hope for a person who is weak and helpless is supplication. Supplications in the Quran related to weakness and helplessness can be put into three categories:

a) Supplications made during times of scarcity and poverty: Knowing very well the humans He created and their every kind of circumstance, Allah informs man in the Quran as to how to pray during times of scarcity and poverty: "Which ever country We sent a messenger, we gave the people poverty and scarcity so they would plead to Us." 19 For hard experience warns people. It softens the hearts of those whose faces have turned away from the truth. It enables weak people to peacefully draw closer to the Creator. Still, the Quran says that man does not act consistently during times of plenty and times of scarcity, and  he does not follow a stable path: "When We bestow favors on man, he turns away, and gets himself remote on his side (instead of coming to Us); and when evil seizes him, (he comes) full of prolonged prayer!" 20 What is wanted in the Quran is persistence in supplication and the constant consciousness of servanthood.

b) Supplications related to emergency situations: It seems that in such situations primarily protection and rescue are emphasized. In fact, there are examples of these in the Quran. For example: "He it is who enableth you to traverse through land and sea; so that ye even board ships; they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they rejoice thereat; then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think they are being overwhelmed: they cry unto God, sincerely offering (their) duty unto Him, saying, ‘If Thou dost deliver us from this, we shall truly show our gratitude!" 21

c) Supplications made in view of helplessness: It is a fact that believers pray to Allah and call for His help in order to endure great pain, difficulty and misery. For example, when Job's illness became very heavy and unbearable, he took refuge in his Lord as follows: "Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are Merciful."22 When Moses was defeated by his tribe and became helpless, he took refuge in Allah and prayed: "(My Lord!) I am one overcome: do Thou then help (me)." 23 Man tries to overcome his weakness and helplessness with Allah's help.

In man's spiritual make-up there are tendencies towards connecting, trusting, leaning on, being protected, taking refuge, being accepted, and being safe. As a result, man in his helplessness necessarily takes refuge in God and asks for his needs and desires with his supplications.



2.Al-Nas, 114/1-6.

3. Al-Furqan, 25/77.

4.Al-Mu´min, 40/60.

5.Al-A´raf, 7/56.

6.Tirmidhi, Sunen, Kitabu´d-De´avat 49, V, p. 425-426, No:3371.

7.D. Cuceloglu, Insan ve Davranisi: Psikolojinin Temel Kavramlari (Human and His Behavior: Main Principles of Psychology), p. 280. 

8. Al-Fatiha,1/4-7. 

9. Al-Baqara, 2/126. 

10.Al-i Imran, 3/38.

11.Joseph, 12/18 

12. See: Ahmet Cevdet Pasa, Kisas-i Enbiya I, p. 27-28.

13. Al-Anbiya, 21/85.

14.Al-i Imran, 3/194.

15.Al-A´raf, 7/103-137.

16.Al-Tahrim, 66/11.

17.Al-Abraham, 14/41.

18.O. N. Bilmen, Kur´an-i Kerim´in Turkce Meali I (Turkish Translation of the Quran), p. 180.

19. Al-Baqara, 2/117

20.Al-Fussilet, 41/51.

21. Jonah, 10/22.

22.Anbiya, 21/83.

23.Kamer, 54/10.

Hasan Kayiklik, Kur´an´daki Dualar Uzerine Psikolojik Bir Degerlendirme, Cukurova University Theological Faculty, Adana 2001.


There are no comments to this article. Click here to write the first comment.