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The Constituents of Supplication

One of the important issues included in the holy verse regarding supplication and Almighty God's promise to respond (2:186) is that it has mentioned some constituents for supplication:
The first constituent is the the attraction between the supplicant and Allah.

The second constituent is the supplicant who should have certain conditions for his supplication to be responded to. The supplicant should be sincere in his intention. This is because, as it has been mentioned earlier, the mouth's tongue should express the heart's tongue. Therefore a wandering heart (Lahi) and an ignorant heart (Sahi) can not be a supplicant (da'ee).

The third constituent is Allah (or Mad'uo—the invoked one). This means that the supplicant should recognize his God and should know that Allah is unique.

Now we will deal, in more details, with each one of these constituents so that we can use supplication with more insight and benefit from this treasure, which is of great significance to God's servants.
The fourth condition for a supplicant is to be sincere. It means that he should call only God and no one else.

فَادْعُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ.

“Therefore call upon Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience. 40:14”

A servant of God should not assume that anybody else could help him except God. His heart should be ready to invoke the One and Only God about his needs and tell Him his untold and hidden secrets and disconnect himself from any means other than God. If he sees that the superficial means is effective, he should realize that the effecter and influencer is God. In the holy Qur'an we read:

أَمَّنْ يُجِيبُ الْمُضطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ.

“Or, Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him and removes the evil. 27:62”

Yes, a non-afflicted and non-depressed person does not know who the real manager of the affairs is. But an afflicted and depressed person knows that the initiation and the end of everything is God alone. A real monotheist considers the others as a means to get to one's goals and knows that God has appointed them as an intermediary only. Imam as-Sajjad (s) invokes God by saying:

وَاجْعَلْني مِمَّنْ يَدعُوكُ مخلِصاً في الرّخاءِ دُعاءَ المُخْلِصينَ المُضْطَرّينَ لكَ في الدُّعاءِ.

“O my Lord, make me among those, who, when at ease, invoke You like the supplication of the distressed sincere ones.”1
He also says:

اَللّهُمّ إنّي أخْلَصْتُ بإنقِطاعِي إلَيْكَ وَأقْبَلْتُ بِكُلِّي عَلَيكَ وَصَرَفْتُ وَجْهي عَمَّنْ يَحْتاجُ إلى رِفْدِكَ وَقَلَبْتُ مَسْألَتي عَمَّنْ لَمْ يَسْتَغْنِ عَنْ فَضْلِكَ وَرَأيْتُ أنَّ طَلَبَ المُحْتاجِ إلى المُحْتاجِ سَفَهٌ مِنْ رَأيِهِ وَضِلَّةٌ مِنْ عَقْلِهِ.

“O Allah, I have become sincere by devoting myself to You, come to You with all my soul, turned away from anyone, who needs Your support and have refrained from asking anyone, who is in need to Your favor. I have found that it is foolishness and insanity when a needy one asks another needy one for support.”2

He has, as well, allocated the preface of one of his most beautiful and longest supplications to sincerity, in which he sees that the source of every good and salvage is God. Every evil-doer or good-wisher is in the domain of Allah. He adds:

مِنْ أيْنَ لِيَ الخَيْرُ يا رَبِّ وَلا يوجَدُ إلاّ مِنْ عِنْدِكَ؟ وَمِنْ أيْنَ ليَ النَّجاةُ وَلا تُسْتَطاعُ إلاّ بِكَ؟ لا الَّذِي أحْسَنَ اسْتَغْنى عَنْ عَونِكَ وَرَحْمَتِكَ وَلا الّذي أساءَ وَاجْتَرأَ عَلَيْكَ وَلَمْ يُرْضِكَ خَرجَ عَنْ قُدْرَتِكَ يا رَبِّ.

“O my Lord, where from can I get goodness whereas it is not got except from You, how can I get deliverance whereas it is not possible except by You? Neither he, who has done good, does that without Your support and mercy, nor does he, who has done wrong, opposed You and has not believed in You, get out of Your power”.
The Prophet (s) says:

فَاسْأَلوا اللهَ رَبَّكم بِنِيّاتٍ صادِقَةٍ وَقُلوبٍ طاهِرَةٍ.

“Invoke Allah, your god, with sincere intents and pure hearts.”
Imam as-Sadiq (s) says:

القَلْبُ السّليمُ الّذي يَلقى رَبَّهُ وَلَيسَ فيهِ أحَدٌ سِواهُ.

“The true heart is the one, which has no one in it except Allah.”

تَبَحَّروا قُلوبَكُم فإنْ أنْقاها اللهُ مِنْ حَرَكَةِ الواجِسِ لِسَخطِ شَيءٍ مِن صُنْعِه فإذا وَجَدْتُمُوها كَذلِكَ فَاسْئَلوهُ ما شِئْتُم.”

“Check your hearts; if you find them free from fear and suspicion about what Allah has willed, then ask Allah for whatever you like.”
The fifth condition for a supplicant is that his invoking must be real and genuine. This means that when he asks for something and gets it, he should not show repugnance. Such a person in fact has asked for something which he does not need. Thus he has not really involved himself in supplication. This is because that the act of supplication entails lots of responsibilities which this individual has been negligent of. He may even use his tongue without intending what he says. This means that his mouth's tongue might not be in harmony with his heart's tongue. Imam Ali (s) says:

اَللّهُمّ اغْفِرْ لي ما تَقَرَّبْتُ بهِ إلَيكَ بِلِساني ثُمّ خالَفَهُ قَلبي.

“O Allah, forgive me for what I have approached to You with my tongue and then my heart has opposed it.”3

When Abraham (s) was arguing with the infidels and was praising his God, he said: My God is one, who:

الَّذِي خَلَقَنِي فَهُوَ يَهْدِينِي. وَالَّذِي هُوَ يُطْعِمُنِي وَيَسْقِينِي. وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِي. وَالَّذِي يُمِيتُنِي ثُمَّ يُحْيِينِ. وَالَّذِي أَطْمَعُ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ لِي خَطِيئَتِي يَوْمَ الدِّينِ.

“Who created me, then He had shown me the way. And He who gives me to eat and gives me to drink. And when I am sick, then He restores me to health; and He who will cause me to die, then gives me life; and who, I hope, will forgive me my mistakes on the Day of Judgment. 26:78-82”

He has ascribed to God the power of guidance and the acceptance of guidance to himself. He has ascribed feeding to God and hunger and thirst to himself. He ascribed healing to God, but disease to himself. He recognizes life and death to be Allah's. He knows that to err is a matter of man but to forgive is Allah's. Then he invoked Allah by saying:

رَبِّ هَبْ لِي حُكْمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ. وَاجْعَلْ لِي لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ فِي الْآخِرِينَ. وَاجْعَلْنِي مِنْ وَرَثَةِ جَنَّةِ النَّعِيمِ. وَاغْفِرْ لِأَبِي إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنْ الضَّالِّينَ.

“My Lord, grant me wisdom, and join me with the good; and ordain for me a goodly mention among posterity; and make me of the heirs of the garden of bliss. And forgive my father, for surely he is of those who have gone astray; and disgrace me not on the day when they are raised. 26:83-86”

Abraham (s), through these words has asked God for all means of perfection. He considers himself as devoid of any sort of perfection and he has ascribed to God all good epithets.

First Constituent: The Spiritual Attraction

One of the most significant assets God has bestowed upon His servants is the spiritual attraction which is emphasized in numerous traditions:

مَنْ أعْطَى الدُّعاءَ أَعْطى الإجَابَةَ.

“The one who has given you supplication will respond to it.”4
Both Sunni and Shia sources report from the Prophet (s) his saying:

الدُّعاءُ سِلاحُ المُؤمِنِ.

“Supplication is the believer's weapon.”5
In Bihar al-Anwar, we read the following tradition:

لا يَرُدُّ القَضاءَ إلاّ البَلاءُ.

“Nothing causes a divine decree to be annulled except supplication.”6
Imam as-Sadiq (s) has said:

الدُّعاءُ يَرُدُّ القَضاءَ بَعْدَ ما أُبْرِمَ إبْراماً، فَأَكْثِرْ مِنَ الدُّعاءِ فإنَّهُ مِفتاحُ كُلِّ رَحْمَةٍ وَنَجاحُ كُلِّ حاجَةٍ وَلا يُنالُ ما عِنْدَ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إلاّ بالدُّعاءِ وَلَيْسَ بابٌ يَكْثُرُ قَرْعُهُ إلاّ يوشَكُ أنْ يُفتَحَ لِصاحِبِهِ.

“Supplication causes a divine decree to be annulled after it has been confirmed. Practice supplication too much for it is the key to every mercy and the means for every need to be satisfied. Nothing of the blessings of Allah will be gained save by supplication. Every door that is knocked repeatedly will be opened.”7
We read in Imam Ali's will to Imam Hassan (s) mentioned in Nahj al-Balaghah:

ثُمَّ جَعَلَ في يَدِكَ مَفاتِيحَ خَزائِنِهِ بِما أَذِنَ لَكَ فِيهِ مِنْ مَسأَلَتِهِ، فَمَتی شِئْتَ اسْتَفْتَحْتَ بِالدُّعاءِ أبْوابَ نِعَمِهِ وَاسْتَمْطَرْتَ شَآبيبَ رَحْمَتِهِ.

“Then Allah put into your hands the keys of His treasures when He allowed you to ask Him for what you like. So whenever you like, you can open with supplication the doors of His blessings and ladle from His mercy.”8
Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:

الحَمْدُ للهِ الّذي أُنادِيهِ كُلَّما شِئْتُ لِحاجَتي وَأَخْلو بهِ حَيثُ شِئْتُ لِسِرّي بِغَيْرِ شَفيعٍ، فَيَقْضِي لي حَاجَتي.

“Praise be to Allah, Whom I call whenever I like and become alone with Him without an intercessor so that He achieves my need.”9

Thus, supplication is a huge abundance and blessing which Allah, the Beneficent, has given to His servants. It is a treasure exposed to them. Thus anybody, who is lucky enough to gain it, will have an immense asset. Despite the fact that it may be answered or not, supplication is a great virtue by itself.10
In the Sabah (morning) Supplication, we read:

إلٰهِي إنْ لَمْ تَبْتَدِئْني الرّحْمَةَ مِنْكَ بِحُسْنِ التّوْفِيقِ فَمَن السّالِكُ بي إلَيْكَ في وَاضِحِ الطّريقِ.

“O My God, if you do not bestow upon me Your mercy by making me succeed in turning towards You, then who is going to guide me to You in the clear way?”
Imam Husayn (s) says in Arafah Supplication:

إلٰهِي أطْلُبْني بِرَحْمَتِكَ حَتیّ أصِلَ إلَيكَ وَاجذِبْني بِمَنِّكَ حَتیّ أُقْبِلَ عَلَيكَ.

“O my God, invite me with Your mercy to join You and attract me with Your favor so that I approach to You!”

It happens that a man, in difficult times of depression, does everything and resorts to any means but he forgets supplication, despite the fact that the only way of salvage is supplication. After suffering a lot of hardships and realizing that nobody could help him, one resorts to supplication. Of course, this is reckoned as a success, but the real success is obtained when we resort to supplication at the initial stages of coming across with impassable hurdles so that God may open up His doors of blessings and abundance before we get despair. Shaykh al-Koleyni, concerning this issue, reports from Imam as-Sadiq (s):

هَلْ تَعْرفونَ طُولَ البَلاءِ مِنْ قِصَرِهِ؟ قلنا: لا، قال: إذا أُلْهِمَ أَحَدُكُم الدُّعاءَ عِندَ البَلاءِ فَاعْلَمُوا أنَّ البَلاءَ قَصيرٌ.

“Do you recognize a long or a short duration of a calamity? We said: No. He said: If at the time of disaster it is inspired to one of you to engage in supplication, he should realize that the disaster will last short.”1119
Concerning this, Imam al-Kadhim (s) says:

ما مِنْ بَلاءٍ يَنْزِلُ عَلى عَبْدٍ مُؤمِنٍ فَيُلْهِمُهُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ الدُّعاءَ إلاّ كانَ كَشْفُ ذلِكَ البَلاءُ وَشيكاً وَما مِنْ بَلاءٍ يَنْزِلُ عَلى عَبْدِ مُؤمِنٍ فَيُمْسِكُ عَنِ الدُّعاءِ إلاّ كانَ ذلِكَ البَلاءُ طَويلاً؛ فإذا نَزَلَ البَلاءُ فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِالدّعاءِ وَالتَّضَرُّع ِإلى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.

“When a calamity befalls a faithful servant and Allah inspires him to engage in supplication, that calamity will soon disappear. But if one, when afflicted with a calamity, refrains from supplication, the calamity will last long. Thus, when there is a disaster, keep on invoking Allah.”

Supplication is a Kind of Acceptance

Hafiz, the Iranian poet, says:

Hafiz, it is your duty to engage in supplication,
Do not worry if it is heard or not.

If we ponder on the issue of supplication carefully, we will understand that supplication is a kind of acceptance. Thus, “For each supplication there are, in fact, two kinds of acceptance: one is giving the chance to a supplicant to engage in the supplication in the first step, the other one is the acceptance of the supplication by God after it is uttered.

It can be said that man will not be given this chance unless the conditions are favorable. This is because the mere fact that he has the chance to involve in supplication is a great blessing. Lack of engagement in supplication is due to one's previous negligence.

Regarding this issue, there are numerous evidences from the infallible imams (s). Some of them have emphasized this topic. The Prophet (s) has said:

إنَّ اللهَ إذا أرادَ أنْ يَستَجيبَ لِعَبْدٍ أذِنَ لهُ في الدُّعاءِ.

“If Allah wills to respond to a servant, He allows him to invoke Him.”
He has also said:

مَنْ فُتِحَ لهُ مِنكم بابُ الدُّعاءِ فُتِحَتْ لهُ أبوابُ الرّحْمَةِ.

“If the door of supplication is opened to one of you, the doors of mercy will be opened to him.”12
The infallible Imams (s) have repeatedly referred to the same meaning.

Asking Allah to be given a chance of Supplication

Imam as-Sajjad (s) has said:

اَللّهُمَّ إجْعَلْني أَصولُ بِكَ عِندَ الضَّرورَةِ وَأسْألُكَ عِندَ الحاجَةِ وَأتَضَرَّعُ إلَيْكَ عِندَ المَسْكَنَةِ.

“O Allah, let me resort to You when being afflicted with a calamity, ask You when being in need and invoke You when being helpless!”

وَلا تَفْتِنّي بالإسْتِعانَةِ بِغَيرِكَ إذا اضْطُرِرْتُ وَلا بِالخُضوعِ لِسُؤالِ غَيرِكَ إذا افتَقَرْتُ وَلا بِالتَّضَرُّعِ إلى مَنْ دُونَكَ إذا رَهِبْتُ فَأستَحِقّ بذلِكَ خُذْلانَكَ وَمَنْعَكَ وإعْراضَكَ.

“O Allah, do not try me by letting me resort to other than You when being compelled, nor submit to other than You when being poor and not invoke other than You when being frightened lest I will deserve, by that, Your humiliation and Your turning away from me.”13
This statement shows that Imam as-Sajjad (s) has asked Allah, through his supplication, to give him (us) the chance to get involved in supplication. He has said:

فَذَكَروكَ بِمَنِّكَ وَشَكَروكَ بِفَضْلِكَ وَدَعَوْكَ بِأمْرِكَ.

“They mentioned You with Your mercy, thanked You for Your favors and invoked You with Your will.”14

وَأعْمِرْ لَيلي بإيقاظِي فِيهِ لِعِبادَتِكَ وَتَفَرُّدي بِالتَّهَجُّدِ لَكَ وَتَجَرُّدي بِسُكوني إلَيكَ وَإنزالِ حَوائِجي بِكَ.

“O my Lord, revive my night by awakening me in it to worship You, to be alone with You, to devote myself to You and to offer my needs before You.”15
It is also narrated:

فَإنّا بِكَ وَلَكَ وَلا وَسِيلَةَ لَنا إلَيْكَ إلاّ أنْتَ.

“We are Yours, from You, with You and we have no means to You save by You.”1624
A poet says:

“Both supplication and response are yours,
Security is from you, magnanimity is also yours.” 17

These high issues show that what occurs in this world is the blessing of Allah over His servants; either the appearance of the clouds in the skies and the rain which makes the earth awaken and blossom or where the stars pray and go on prostration. Imam Husayn (s) says:

لَمْ يَمْنَعْكَ جَهْلي وَجُرْأتِي عَلَيْكَ أنْ دَلَلْتَني إلَى مَا يُقَرِّبُني إلَيْكَ وَوَفَّقْتَني لِما يُزْلِفُني لَدَيْكَ.

“My negligence and opposing to You did not make You stop guiding me to be close to You and assisting me to approach to You.”18

We have already said that not everyone would be given the honor to take part in supplication. This is especially true when a lofty position is asked for. In such cases more confirmation is necessary. This is because the degree of the elegance of each supplication depends on the amount of wisdom a supplicant has, and it reveals his dignity and position. Of course, anyone who could enjoy even a bit of this divine asset should be considered lucky. This divine asset could not be appreciated by everyone, however.

This is where the elite and wise ones ask: (accept my repentance). Of course, anyone reaching this stage will not have any of his supplications unanswered. This is the state of getting to the perfect degree of devotion and servitude, to which Imam Husayn (s) has referred in the supplication of Arafah.

إلٰهي أنا الفَقِيرُ في غِنايَ فَكَيْفَ لا أكُونُ فَقِيراً في فَقْري!

“O my Lord, I am the needy in my richness so how shall I be not needy in my poverty?”
In the Holy Qur'an, we read:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمْ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ.

“O people! You are they who stand in need of Allah, and Allah is He Who is the Self-sufficient, the Praised One. 35:15”

This indigence does not mean the need for the appliances of life; clothing, food, shelter and the like; rather by this poverty is meant the innate indigence which is in contrast with the innate richness. The number of those people, who reach this state of mind in each century, is less than the number of one's fingers.

The Permanent Attraction

Those who reach this stage will not say:

اَللّهُمَّ اجْعَلْني أَصُولُ بِكَ عِنْدَ الضّرورَةِ.

“O Allah, let me resort to You when being afflicted with a calamity.”19

This is because they are under the permanent influence of supplication. There is not even a moment of negligence in their life. They are always present. No distracter may cause them lose their interest. The Satan has no way here even in the initial stages, to let alone the loftiest stages of knowledge and cognizance.
We read in the Holy Qur'an:

قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ. إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمْ الْمُخْلَصِينَ.

“He said: Then by Thy Might I will surely make them live an evil life, all except Thy servants from among them, the purified ones. 38:82-3”

In other words, that lofty position is beyond the Satan's reach. At this stage, the attraction between God and His servants has reached the highest degree of elevation. Their supplication “O my Lord, fill my heart with love to You and fear of You,”20 is already answered. There is no place in their hearts for the Satan's penetration. This is because they are among those, who say: “O my God! Let me be among those, in whose hearts the trees of longing to You have rooted and whose hearts have been occupied with Your love so to the best of grace they resort, in the gardens of nearness and disclosure they delight and from the ponds of love they drink.”

Thus, supplication is the attraction between the Creator and the servants, which is, by itself, a kind of worship. This supplication is revealed to the servants. And we do not have to wait for the supplication to be responded. There have been numerous scholars who, when in the process of supplication, thought on nothing else and since they saw themselves as God's servants who were given the privilege to engage in supplication, they carried the order out and got busy engaging in supplication. In this process, if their supplication were answered, they saw it as another asset that God would bestow upon them. Imam as-Sadiq (s) has said:

لَقَدْ دَعَوْتُ اللهَ مَرّةً فَاسْتَجابَ وَنَسِيتُ الحَاجَةَ لأنَّ اسْتِجابَتَهُ بإقْبالِهِ عَلی عَبْدِهِ عِندَ دَعْوَتِه أعْظَمُ وَأَجَلُّ مِمّا يُريدُ مِنهُ العَبدُ.

“Once I invoked Allah. My supplication was answered but I forgot my need I wanted to ask for. This is because Allah's response to His servant when invoking Him is greater and loftier to him than achieving what he wants.”2129
The Prophet (s) says (that Allah has inspired to him by saying):

مَنْ شَغَلَهُ ذِكْري عَنْ مَسْألَتي أَعْطَيْتُهُ أفْضَلَ ما أُعْطي السّائِلينَ.

“One, who is busy with mentioning Me and forgets his need, I will give him the best that I have ever given to the supplicants.”
We also read:

إنّ العَبْدَ لَتَكونُ لهُ الحاجَةُ إلى اللهِ فَيَبْدَأُ بِالثّناءِ عَلى اللهِ وَالصّلاةِ عَلى مُحَمّدٍ وَآلِهِ حَتىّ يَنْسى حاجَتَهُ فَيَقْضِيها مِنْ غَيرِ أنْ يَسْألَهُ إيّاها.

“Sometimes a servant needs something from Allah and then he begins praising Allah and praying Him to bless Muhammad (s) and his pure progeny to a degree that he forgets his need. But Allah achieves his need without being asked for it by this servant.”22
Imam as-Sajjad (s) invokes Allah by saying:

إلهِي فَأجْعَلْنا ممَّنْ هَيَّمْتَ قَلْبَهُ لإرادَتِكَ وَاجْتَبَيْتَهُ لمُشاهَدَتِكَ وَأَخْلَيْتَ وَجْهَهُ لكَ وَفَرّغْتَ فُؤادَهُ لحُبِّكَ وَرَغّبْتَهُ فيما عِنْدكَ وَقَطَعْتَ عَنهُ كُلّ شَيءٍ يَقْطَعُهُ عَنكَ.

“O my Lord, make us among those, whom You have made their hearts submit to Your will, whom You have chosen to see You, whom You have attracted their faces towards You alone, whom you have emptied their hearts except from Your love, whom You have made look forward to what You have.”

The Second Constituent: the Supplicant

The second factor in supplication is the supplicant. A supplicant has to observe the following conditions:

For Him is magnanimity, pride and glory,
For us wretchedness, feebleness, and needs of all sorts.

From Imam Ali's spring of eloquence in his prayers, we also read:

إلَهي كَفى بيَ عِزّاً أنْ أَكونَ لَكَ عَبْداً، وَكَفى بي فَخْراً أنْ تَكُونَ لي رَبّاً، أنْتَ كَما أُحِبُّ فَاجْعَلْني كَما تُحِبُّ.

“O my God, it is enough honor to me to be your humble servant and it is enough pride to me that You are my God. You are as I like so make me as You like!”23

1) Submission

The first condition for a supplicant is to recognize his servitude toward his Creator. He has to know his status and to be aware that he is absolute poor and the only Absolute Rich, is Allah, the Almighty. Imam Ali (s) in his prayer says:

إلهِي لَيسَ تشْبَهُ مَسألَتي مَسألَةَ السّائِلِينَ لأنَّ السّائِلَ إذا مُنِعَ إمتَنَعَ عَن السّؤالِ وأنا لا غِناءَ بي عَمّا سَألْتُكَ عَلى كُلّ حالٍ بهِ. إلَهي إرْضَ عَنّي فأعْفُ عَنّي فَقدْ يَعفو السّيِّدُ عَن عَبدِهِ وَهوَ عَنهُ غَيرُ راضٍ، إلَهي كَيفَ أدْعوكَ وَأنا أنا؟ أمْ كَيفَ أيْأسُ مِنكَ وَأنتَ أَنتَ؟

“O my Lord, my request is not like the requests of the supplicants because if a supplicant is rejected, he will refrain from asking again but I have no any other than You to request in any case. O my Lord, be pleased with me and forgive me! A lord may forgive his servant while he is not pleased with him. O my Lord, how do I dare to invoke You while I am what I am? Or how do I despair of You while You are what You are?”24
Imam as-Sadiq (s) in his prostration says:

سَجَدَ وَجْهِيَ الذّلِيلُ لِوَجْهِكَ العَزيزِ، سَجَدَ وَجْهي البالي لِوَجْهِكَ الدّائِمِ الباقِي، سَجَدَ وَجْهي الفَقيرُ لِوَجْهِكَ الغَنيِّ الكَبيرِ، سَجَدَ وَجْهي وَسَمْعي وَبَصَري وَلَحْمي وَدَمي وَجِلْدي وَعَظْمي وَما أقَلّتِ الأرْضُ مِنّي للهِ رَبِّ العالَمِينَ.

“My mean face prostrates to Your honored face, my mortal face prostrates to Your immortal face, my poor face prostrates to Your rich face, my face, my hearing, my sight, my flesh, my blood, my skin, my bones and all what is there on the earth prostrate before Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”25
Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:

وَكَيْفَ يَسْتَغْني العَبدُ عَنْ رَبِّهِ؟ سَيّدي لَمْ أزْدَدْ إلَيْكَ إلاّ فَقْراً وَلَمْ تَزْدَدْ عَنّي إلاّ غِنىً.

“How can a slave do without his lord? O my Lord, I become more and more in need to You and You are not in need to me.”26

2) Believing in God’s Power

The second condition for a genuine supplicant is to recognize Allah with the attribute of “Absolute Rich” and realize that the Creator is aware of all the contents of one's heart and is capable of satisfying all his needs and that there is no impediment and hurdle on the way of His might and power.
Imam as-Sajjad, when asking God to fulfill his needs, says:

تَمَدَّحْتَ بِالغِناءِ عَنْ خَلْقِكَ وَأنْتَ أهْلُ الغِنى عَنْهُم وَنَسَبْتَهُم إلى الفَقْرِ وَهُمْ أهْلُ الفَقْرِ إلَيْكَ فَمَنْ حاوَلَ سَدَّ خِلَّتِه مِنْ عِندِكَ، وَرَامَ صَرْفَ الفَقْرِ عَنْ نَفْسهِ بِكَ فَقَدْ طلَبَ حاجَتَهُ في مَظانِّها وأتَى طِلْبَتَهُ مِن وَجْهِها.

“You have been praised with being not in need of Your creatures and You deserve this attribute. You have considered Your creatures as needy and they are so in their need to You. Whoever tries to cure his defect by resorting to You and drive poverty away from himself by Your richness surely he has chosen the right way and got his want from its right source.”

Imam as-Sajjad (s) adds, stating that Allah hates for His people to ask other than Him:

سُبْحانَ رَبّي! كَيفَ يَسأَلُ مُحتاجٌ مُحْتاجاً وَأنَّى يَرْغَبُ مُعْدِمٌ إلى مُعْدِمٍ!

“Glory be to Allah! How is it possible for a poor one to ask another poor one and a needy one to resort to another needy one?”27
Imam Ali (s) says:

سُبحانَ الّذي يَتَوكَّلُ كُلُّ مُؤمِنٍ عَلَيهِ وَيُضْطَرُّ كُلُّ جاحِدٍ إلَيْهِ وَلا يَسْتَغني أَحَدٌ إلاّ بِفَضْلِ ما لَدَيْهِ.

“Glory be to Allah, upon Whom every faithful relies and to Whom every unbeliever resorts and Whom no one becomes needless except with His favors.”28
In Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, we read:

سُبحانَ مَنْ قَدَّرَ بِقُدرَتِهِ كُلَّ قُدرَةٍ.

“Glory be to Him, Who has determined with His power every power.”29
In another prayer, Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:

أصْبَحْنا في قَبْضَتِكَ، يَحْوِينا مُلْكُكَ وَسُلْطانُكَ وَتَضُمُّنا مَشيئَتُكَ وَنَتَصَرَّفُ عَنْ أمْرِكَ وَنَتَقَلَّبُ في تَدبِيرِكَ، لَيْسَ لَنا مِن الأمْرِ إلاّ ما قَضَيْتَ وَلا مِن الخَيرِ إلاّ ما أعْطَيْتَ.

“O my Lord, we are under Your control, possessed by Your kingdom and rule, submitted to Your will, acting according to Your orders and moving according to Your management. We have no choice save what You have determined and we have no goodness except what You have given.”30

Al-Koleini says in his book: “The Prophet (s), in one of his wars, was resting at the foot of a hill. One of his enemies seized the opportunity, drew his sword and went up to the Prophet (s) saying to him: “Who is going to save you now?” The prophet (s) instantly replied: “My God and your God.”

This means: “between your sharp sword and my head there is a power which is invisible to you”.

The infidel, who did not believe in what the Prophet (s) was saying, smiled and put his sword aside to give the Prophet (s) a blow. But the Prophet (s) showed the right reaction, forcing him to let the sword fly in one direction. Now the prophet (s) drew his sword, asking the infidel: “Now who is going to save you?” He replied: “Your generosity; because you are a great man”. Then the Prophet (s) pardoned him.31 Imam Ali (s) said:

لا يَصْدُقُ إيمَانُ عَبْدٍ حَتىّ يَكونَ بِما في يَدِ اللهِ أوْثَقَ مِنْهُ بِما في يَدِهِ.

“One's faith will not be true unless he is certain of what there is in Allah's hand more than his certainty of what there is in his own hand.”32

3) Regarding God’s Closeness to Man

The third condition for a supplicant is to know that Allah is closer to him than anyone or anything else. This is because Allah has said:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ.

“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near. 2:186”

وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ.

“And we are nearer to him than his life-vein. 50:16”

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ.

“And know that Allah intervenes between man and his heart. 8:24”

Imam Ali (s) in his Saturday's Prayer says:

أَتَقَرَّبُ إلَيْكَ بِسَعَةِ رَحْمَتِكَ الّتي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَقَدْ تَرى يا رَبِّ مَكانِي وَتَطَّلِعُ عَلى ضَميرِي وَتَعْلَمُ سِرّي وَلا يَخْفى عَلَيكَ أمْرِي وَأنْتَ أقْرَبُ إلَيَّ مِنْ حَبْلِ الوَريدِ.

“O my Lord, I approach to You by Your great mercy, which has encompassed everything. O my Lord, You see my place, You know what there is in my conscience, You know my secrets and nothing of my affairs is unknown to You. You are closer to me than my life-vein.”

And we read in Abu Hamzeh Thomali's prayer, “Praise be to Allah, Whom I ask for my need whenever I like and Whom I become alone with to disclose my secret whenever I like and then He achieves my need without an intercessor.” Thu'lub al-Yamani asked Imam Ali (s), “Have you seen your God?” Imam Ali (s) said, “Do I worship what I do not see?” Imam Ali (s) then was asked how he had seen God and he replied:

لا تُدْرِكُهُ العُيونُ بِمُشاهَدَةِ العَيانِ وَلَكِنْ تُدْرِكُهُ القُلوبُ بِحَقائِقِ الإيمانِ. قَريبٌ مِنَ الأشْياءِ غَيرَ مُلامِسٍ وَبَعيدٌ مِنْها غَيرَ مُبايِنٍ.

“The eyes do not see Him but the hearts perceive Him with the facts of faith. He is near to things without mixing with them and far from them without neglecting them.”
Imam Ali (s) in another sermon says:

سَبَقَ فِي العُلُوِّ فَلا شَيءَ أعْلى مِنْهُ، وَقَرُبَ في الدُّنُوّ فَلا شَيءٌ أقْرَبَ مِنْهُ، فَلا اسْتِعْلاؤهُ باعَدَهُ عَن شَيءٍ مِنْ خَلْقِهِ ولا قُرْبُهُ ساوَاهُمْ في المَكانِ بهِ.

“He is so high that nothing is higher than Him and He is so near that nothing is nearer than Him. Neither His highness makes Him far from His creatures nor does His nearness make Him equal to them.”33
Hafiz, the Iranian poet says:

There is no wall between a lover and a beloved,
You yourself are a wall, then get removed.

4) Sincerity

5) Real Invoking

6) Good Manners in Supplication

The sixth condition in supplication is good manners. A supplicant should engage practice supplication with good manners and in complete humbleness. Ibn Fahad al-Hilli says: “There was a certain believer, who had worshipped God for seventy years spending his nights in worshipping and his days in fasting. One day he asked God for a need, but his request was not answered. He addressed his very self saying: you are responsible!

What have you been doing all this long time? If you had been good, your need would have been answered. Then God sent him an angel to tell him: “O son of Adam, when you were checking your own defects and you were criticizing yourself, you were in a state which was better than your worships.”34

In other words, the best kind of good manners is obedience and servitude towards God and self-denial and confessing one's faults. Such have been the morals of the prophets and the infallible imams (s). Concerning the matter of obedience and servitude to God, Allamah Tabataba’i has stipulated certain conditions all of which are based on the Holy Qur'an. We will briefly refer to some of them.

Examples of the Prophets’ Manners towards Allah as mentioned in The Holy Qur’an

Jesus (s)

Allah has said:

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّي إِلَهَيْنِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ إِنْ كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ.

“And when Allah will say: O Issa son of Maryam! Did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah, he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to say; if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. 5:116”

Out of this verse we learn the following points:

• Jesus Christ (s) started his answer by glorifying Allah: “Glory be to Thee” because he had heard something that he could not ascribe to God. His good manners forced him to glorify Allah. Of course, we should be aware that he had enjoyed divine manners.

• Jesus Christ (s) did not use negative response to God's question. He did not say that he had not done it. There are two points here. Firstly, negation here is one sort of denying, which is against etiquette. Secondly, negation is used when there is a possibility for an act to occur, but we know that being a god for any of God's servants is impossible.

• Some people, at that time, ascribed the position of God to Jesus Christ (s), so what he denied and negated was that he had never had such a claim. He added that if people had erroneously called him God, this was their own error and he had nothing to do with it. Thus, he said: “You would have known if I had done such a thing”. And this is not the absolute negation of the issue.

• Jesus Christ (s) had denied having the dignity of being a god. He said this was beyond him. Denying being a god is more significant than negating his claim of divinity. He said: “It did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to say.”

• Jesus Christ (s) left the issue to be cared for by Allah. Thus, he said: “If I had done this, you would have known it”. It is because that God's knowledge is not like ours. It is not incomplete. Whatever is in the whole creation is within His knowledge.

This verse teaches us to be polite when we talk to God. A servant should observe all the sides of his servitude. By the way, one of the advantages of the establishment of the school of supplication is that a God's servant has to learn how to behave before Allah, the Almighty.

Adam (s)

When Adam (s) ate from the forbidden tree's fruit and was addressed by:

أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَنْ تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ؟

“Did I not forbid you both from that tree. 7:22”

He and his wife began to invoke Allah by saying:

رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنْ الْخَاسِرِينَ.

“Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers. 7:23”

Adam ascribes to himself injustice, defection and loss but he ascribes benevolence, good and salvage to Allah.

Abraham (s)

Manners of Supplication in Imam as-Sadiq’s Statements

Imam as-Sadiq (s) said, concerning the manners of supplication:

إحْفَظْ آدابَ الدُّعاءِ وَانْظُرْ مَنْ تَدْعو وَكَيفَ تَدْعو وَلِماذا تَدعو، وَحَقِّقْ عَظَمةَ اللهِ وَكِبْرِياءَهُ، وَعايِنْ بِقَلْبِكَ عِلْمَهُ بِما في ضَمِيرِكَ وَاطِّلاعَهُ عَلى سِرِّكَ وَما يَكونُ فيهِ مِن الحَقّ وَالباطِلِ، وَاعْرِفْ طُرُقَ نَجاتِكَ وَهَلاكِكَ كَيلا تَدعُوَ اللهَ بِشَيء مِنهُ هَلاكُكَ وَأنتَ تَظُنُّ فيهِ نَجاتكَ. قالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: “وَيَدْعُ الْإِنسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَاءَهُ بِالْخَيْرِ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ عَجُولًا.”وَتَفَكَّرْ ماذا تَسألُ وَكَمْ تَسألُ وَلِماذا تَسألُ. وَالدُّعاءُ اسْتِجابَةٌ لِلكُلِّ مِنْكَ لِلحَقِّ وَتَذْويبُ المُهْجَةِ في مُشاهَدَةِ الرَّبِّ وَتَرْكِ الإخْتِيارِ جَميعاً وَتَسْليم الأمُورِ كُلِّها ظاهِراً وَباطِناً إلى اللهِ، فَإنْ لَمْ تَأتِ بِشَرْطِ الدُّعاءِ فَلا تَنْتَظِرْ الإجابَةَ فَإنّهُ يَعْلَمُ السِّرَّ وَأخْفى، فَلَعَلَّكَ تَدعُوهُ بِشَيءٍ قَد عَلِمَ مِنْ سِرِّكَ خِلافَ ذلِكَ.”

“Keep to the morals of supplication and see whom you invoke, how you invoke and why you invoke. Preserve the greatness and highness of Allah and see with your heart that He knows what there is in your conscience and He knows your secrets whether good or bad. Know the ways of your deliverance and perdition lest you ask Allah for something, which leads to your perdition whereas you think that it leads to your deliverance. Allah has said: “And man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good, and man is ever hasty. 17:11”

Think too much about what you ask for, how much you ask and why you ask. Supplication is you submitting to the truth, being devoted to see the Lord, leaving your choice and entrusting all the affairs, whether apparent or hidden, with Allah. If you do not regard the conditions of supplication, then do not wait for response. Allah knows the secret, and what is yet more hidden so that you may ask Him for something but He knows that there is something else in your heart.”35

When you want to invoke God and you want Him to respond to you, you have to regard the conditions of supplication well and to have in mind to Whom you talk, Whom you invoke for a favor and what for you invoke. Here are the conditions:

● A supplicant should regard the grandeur of God.

● He should be aware that God has the infinite power.

● A supplicant should have in mind that God knows how to respond to one's needs.

● A supplicant should be aware that God knows what there is in one's mind and knows his secrets, whether good or bad.

● A supplicant should distinguish between the right and the wrong so that he may not ask for something destructive. Allah has said: “And man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good, and man is ever hasty”.

● A supplicant should do what he is supposed to do and should avoid what is forbidden.

● A supplicant should sacrifice every thing to gain Allah's favors. He should love Him sincerely, submit to God in managing his affairs, do away with his wishes, be obedient to God and follow God's commands. This is because the result of all supplications is determined by God. Anybody, who reaches this stage of prosperity, is successful in this life and in the hereafter.

  • 1. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, No 22.
  • 2. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, No 28.
  • 3. Nahj al-Balaghah, Faydh al-Islam, p. 167.
  • 4. Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 65.
  • 5. Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 468.
  • 6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 2.
  • 7. Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p 470.
  • 8. Faydh al-Islam’s Nahj al-Balaghah, p. 924, letter No. 31.
  • 9. The Dawn Supplication known as Abu Hamzeh Thamali’s Supplication, Al-Balad al-Amin, p. 205.
  • 10. Falahel Sa’el, p 27.
  • 11. Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 471.
  • 12. Tafseer Al-Mizan, vol. 2, p. 42, as quoted from al-Durr al-manthour.
  • 13. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, 20.
  • 14. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, 45.
  • 15. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, 47.
  • 16. The 15 Munajat (of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah).
  • 17. Mathnawi, second Daftar.
  • 18. The Supplication of Arafah by Imam Husayn (s).
  • 19. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, supplication 20.
  • 20. Misbah al-Mutahajjid, p. 100.
  • 21. Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 323.
  • 22. Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 93, p.312.
  • 23. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 77, p 402.
  • 24. Al-Balad al-Amin, p. 316, Imam Ali’s prayer.
  • 25. Al-Balad al-Amin, p.331.
  • 26. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, p 336.
  • 27. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, No. 13.
  • 28. Al-Balad al-Amin, p. 96.
  • 29. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, p. 24.
  • 30. Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, p. 6.
  • 31. Al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 127.
  • 32. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sobhi Saleh, No. 310.
  • 33. Nahj al-Balaghah of Faydh al-Isalm, No. 178 and Sobhi Saleh No 179.
  • 34. Uddat al-Da’ee, p. 242.
  • 35. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 322.

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