Du’a is a type of Muslim prayer. It differentiates from Salat, in that its focus is on supplication. Salat (Namaaz in Persian) mostly consists of praise of God, including the phrase “God is Great” repeated 33 times. The Du’a alternates between praising God and currying favour. While “du’a” is a general term for this type of prayer, the word has been co-opted for the mandated prayer of the Ismaili community.
The current Ismaili Du’a was approved by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah and a committee from the Syrian Jamat in 1956. Prince Karim and Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan introduced the Du’a to the Madagascar Jamat in September 1956. The Du’a was then spread through the East African Jamat and into Pakistan by 1961.
The Du’a features seven verses from the Quran and remains linguistically consistent in Classical Arabic. Classical Arabic is still widely used across the world, but only for scholarly purposes. Much like Latin, Classical Arabic is studied, but you won’t find any native speakers. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah selected Classical Arabic for the Ismaili Du’a because of its scriptural significance and as a uniting factor between the geographically diverse Jamat, and with the greater Muslim community.
The Ismaili Du’a is divided into six parts. Each part begins with the phrase “In the name of God” and ends with the phrase “O God, to You is my prostration and obedience.” Most parts include a Quranic verse (the second part contains two verses) which is supplemented by other praises, supplications, and invocations.
The following pages will outline some of the key concepts included in the Ismaili Du’a. These are sorted by which part the concepts appear in.