Dua is Worship
Posted by Abd Al Mustafa on Thursday 18th June, 2009
They cite the hadith: “inna al-du`a huwa al-`ibada”: “Invocation — it is worship.” Hence, they claim, he who asks help from a prophet or a saint (wali) is simply worshipping him by that request for help; yet only worship of Allah alone is beneficial and worship of other than Him is shirk. Hence, they conclude, the one who seeks aid of someone other than Him is an idolater.
The answer for this is that the verbal pronoun huwa (“it is”) in the hadith conveys restriction of the grammatical predicate “worship” to its subject “invocation” and it thus renders definite the predicate, just as the author of al-Miftah says and with whom the majority of the scholars agree concerning this hadith. Thus, for example, when we say: “Allah — He is the Provider” (Allah huwa al-Razzaq) (51:58), it means there is no provider other than He. Accordingly, when the Prophet said: “Invocation: it is worship” he signified that worship is restricted to invocation. What is meant by the hadith is:
“Worship is nothing other than invocation.”
And the Qur’an supports this meaning when it says: “Say: My Lord would not concern Himself with you but for your call (du`a) on Him” (25:77). That is, He would not have shown favor to you were it not for your worship. For the honor of mankind lies in its worship and its respect in its knowledge and obedience. Otherwise, man would not be superior to the beasts. The Hajj, the Zakat, the Fast and the testimony of faith are all invocation and likewise reading of the Qur’an, dhikr or remembrance, and obedience. Hence, worship is confined to invocation. Once this is firmly established, it becomes clear that there no proof in the hadith for what Wahhabis claim, because if asking for help is a kind of invocation, as the Wahhabis claim, it does not necessarily follow that asking for help is worship, since invocation is not always worship as is plain to see.
If, on the contrary, we restrict the subject “invocation” to the predicate “worship” in the hadith according to the interpretation of the author of al-Kashshaf  whereby the definition of the predicate in a nominal clause might be either restricted to the subject or restricted to the predicate, then the logical deduction of the Wahhabis whereby all du`a is worship is still not supported by it. Otherwise, the definite article al in al-du`a (invocation or literally a call on someone) makes invocation generic and betokens universal inclusion into the genus. Yet this is not the case since not every invocation is an act of worship (`ibada).
On the contrary, the matter stands as we find it in the verse of Qur’an: “Nor call on other than Allah such as can neither profit thee nor hurt thee” (10:106) and similarly in the verse: “Call your witnesses or helpers!” (2:23). Calling on Allah in the sense of requesting is found where the Qur’an says: “Call on Me and I will answer you” (40:60) and in the sense of a declarative statement: “This will be their prayer (da`wahum) therein: Glory to Thee, O Allah!” (10:10). As for “calling on someone” in the sense of summoning them (nida’), we find: “It will be on the day when he will call you (yad`ukum)” (17:52) and in the sense of naming someone we find: “Deem not the calling (du`a) of the Messenger of Allah among yourselves like the calling of one of you to another” (24:63).
As the author of al-Itqan makes plain: If the definite article belongs to the genus and signifies universal inclusion therein, then the man who says: “Zayd! Give me a dirham” perpetrates an act of disbelief. Yet the Wahhabis, of course, will not claim this. Hence, it is plain that the definite article signifies specification. So what is meant by invocation in the hadith is invocation to Allah and not calling on someone in the general sense. The meaning would be:
“Calling to Allah is one of the greatest acts of worship.”
It is in the manner of the Prophet’s saying: “al-hajju `arafatun” or:
“The Pilgrimage is `Arafah”
which is taken to mean that this represents the Hajj’s greatest essential element. For the one making the request comes toward Allah and turns aside from what is other than He. Furthermore, the request is commanded by Allah and the action fulfilling that command is worship. The Prophet names it “worship” to show the subjugation of the subject making the request, the indigence of his condition, and the humility and lowliness of his worship.
Among the proofs that what is meant by “invocation” in the hadith is the “calling on Allah” and not the general sense of “calling” is the fact which many grammarians confirm and Ibn Rushd clearly makes plain as does al-Qarafi also in his Commentary on al-Tanqih: namely, that asking (al-su’al) is one of the categories of wanting (al-talab) put forth by one lower to one higher in station. If it is addressed to Allah, it is named “request” (su’al) and “invocation” (du`a). The latter is not applied to someone other than Allah. And if it is not permissible (la yajuz) to name the request of other than Allah by the unqualified name of du`a, then such a request a fortiori is not named a du`a in the sense of worship. [source]