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Al Qunut literally means "being obedient" or "the act of standing" in Classical Arabic. The word is usually used in reference to special supplications made in certain prayers while in the standing posture. For example, it is sunnah to supplicate with qunut in the witr prayer during the entire year. Ahmad, Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawood record that Hasan ibn Ali said: "The Messenger of Allah taught me the [following] words to say during the witr prayer:
"O Allah! Guide me with those whom You have Guided, and strengthen me with those whom You have given strength, take me to Your care with those whom You have taken to Your care, Bless me in what You have given me, Protect me from the evil You have Ordained. Surely You Command and are not commanded, and none whom You have committed to Your care shall be humiliated [and none whom You have Taken as an enemy shall taste glory]. You are Blessed, our Lord, and Exalted."
How to perform the qunut
It is permissible to make the qunut before going into ruku (bowing), or it may be recited when one stands up straight after the ruku. Humaid says: "I asked Anas: 'Is the qunut before or after the ruku?' he said: 'We would do it before or after." This hadith was related by Ibn Majah and Muhammad ibn Nasr. In Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani comments that its chain is faultless.
But widely, the scholars of Islam and the regular practice at Masjid al-Haram, Mecca, is to recite the Qunut Prayer after getting up from Ruku, in the last Rakah of Witr i.e., the 3rd Rakah of Witr at Isha (The late night prayer)
According to the Hanafi opinion, one is supposed to give Takbir (Say Allahu Akbar and raise his palms till ear lobes and hold them back below or above navel with right hand over left) before going into Ruku in 3rd Rakah and recite the Following Qunut Prayer also called as Dua-e-Qunoot (Prayer of Qunoot)
Qunoot Prayer: O' Allah ! I seek help from you, ask forgiveness from You, and believe in You and praise You for all the good things and are grateful to You and we part and break off with all those who are disobedient to You. O Allah, You alone do we worship and pray exclusively to You and bow before You alone and we hasten eagerly towards You and fear Your severe punishment and hope for Your mercy, for Your severe punishment is surely to be meted out to the disbelievers:
After reciting the Dua, Bend in Ruku and perform the rest of the Namaaz/Salath.
Types of Dua Qunut
The Messenger of Allah used to recite Du'a al-Qunoot during Salat al-Fajr, Witr and sometimes during other prayers throughout the year. It is one of those Sunnahs (Prophetic traditions) which many Muslims do not practice today.
Al-Qunoot has many linguistic meanings, such as humility, obedience and devotion. However, it is more understood to be a special du'a which is recited during the prayer.
It has been narrated in Abu Dawood that the Messenger of Allah used to recite al-Qunoot whenever a major difficulty or disaster befell the Muslims.
He would perform the Qunoot in the last Rak'ah of the Salah after performing Ruku and saying 'Sami'Allahu liman hamidah' (Allah listens to those who praise him); then put hands across navel/chest or raise hands (whilst still focusing on the place of Sujud) and supplicate the Qunoot, after which He would make Sujud and conclude the prayer.
Du'a qunoot is recommended to be recited in the Witr prayer. The Witr prayer, according to Imam Abu Hanifah is wajib (obligation). The other Imams consider the Witr prayer as Sunnah Mu'akkadah. It can be offered after the Isha prayer right up to the break of dawn.
Below is a collection of the various du'a qunut that may be recited:
O Allah! We seek Your assistance and ask for Your guidance, and we beseech Your forgiveness and return to You in repentance. We cherish faith in You and place our trust in You. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You. We abandon and forsake all those who reject You. O Allah, You alone we worship, unto You alone we pray; unto You alone we prostrate, and for You alone we strive. Unto You alone we flee for refuge. We cherish hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.
O Allah! Guide me with those whom You have Guided, and strengthen me with those whom You have given strength, take me to Your care with those whom You have taken to Your care, Bless me in what You have given me, Protect me from the evil You have Ordained. Surely You Command and are not commanded, and non whom You have committed to Your care shall be humiliated [and non whom You have Taken as an enemy shall taste glory]. You are Blessed, our Lord, and Exalted.
O Allah! I seek Refuge with Your Pleasure from Your Anger. I seek refuge in Your Forgiveness from Your Punishment. I seek refuge in You from You. I cannot count Your Praises, You are as You have Praised Yourself.