'Duaa': The Arabic word for prayer is also connected to the idea of invitations

The word is also the name of a famous pop artist

The Arabic word duaa translates to supplication or, more commonly, to prayer
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The act of prayer is a part of every religion around the world.

And while it is an act, this week’s Arabic word of the week, duaa, is a noun with many associations with the idea of a call or invitation.

Colloquially, the word duaa is used to mean prayer. It comes from the Arabic word da’aa, which is derived from the three Arabic letters, dal, ain and alif. Da’aa means to call or invite someone and can also refer to the act of asking or requesting something.

The word duaa takes this meaning but adds another facet to it. Duaa is the act of one speaking to God or asking for something, often in a state of desperation or complete submission.

Duaa is the idea of prayer which includes invocation, supplication or a request from God. In Islam it can also mean the actual special scripted prayers that people may use when in need of particular guidance.

It is important to note that there is a difference between duaa and salah in Islam – the two words often cause some confusion to non-native Arabic speakers.

Salah refers to the formal prayer that Muslims perform five times a day. This routine of prayer involves particular physical movements while reciting specific verses from the Quran.

Duaa is the act of prayer, of speaking directly to God with whatever needs or wants someone may have. Both are considered a form of prayer. Salah is formal and structured and performed at certain times with specific physical movements and memorising small passages from the Quran, while duaa is the more conventional idea and form of prayer, performed at any time and anywhere.

Outside of the context of religion, while not commonly used, duaa is also when one physically calls out to someone to get their attention. For example, when a parent calls out to the children in the garden to come back into the house.

Interestingly, other words that derive from the root word of duaa are also associated with a form of request, call or invitation.

Deea’ya is an oral invitation, proclamation or an advertisement. It’s a word commonly used to refer to a television or radio advertisement. Daawa refers to a verbal or physical invitation to someone’s home or social gathering such as a wedding. Again, in the context of religion, daawa is also used to refer to the invitation or the call prophets extend to the public to spread the values and principles of Islam.

Dua, Doaa or Duaa are also popular names for women, and which mean prayer. British Albanian pop singer Dua Lipa, who comes from a Muslim family, carries the name, which also means love in Albanian.

The renowned 1959 film Duaa Al-Karawan (The Nightingale's Prayer) is based on the novel of the same name by the Egyptian writer Taha Hussein. The film was directed by Henry Barakat, and stars celebrated Egyptian actress Faten Hamama and actor Ahmed Mazhar.

The story is set in the Egyptian countryside and follows Amna (Hamama) as she plots revenge for the murder of her sister. Not only does the film portray the changing landscape of Egypt at the time, but it also delves into themes such as the traditional roles of men and women in society and how Amna defies them through great sacrifice and with dangerous consequences.

Updated: November 24, 2023, 6:02 PM