The Truth Behind Supplication And Its Effects

In the previous discussions we pointed to two issues:
The first point is that a human need is determined genetically and it will not let man alone to the last minute of his life. This leads man to resort to a power, which could supply him with these needs. Now, he may do this through resorting to Allah to fill this natural gap.

The second point is man's God-seeking nature. Since man has experienced illusionary powers and the system of formal cause and effect and has observed their limitations, he is after an infinite and limitless power to resort to. He is after an invincible power, which is dominating the whole creation. This is frequently observed that man at the time of great despair and depression is absorbed to the unparalleled power of Allah. This state of affairs is repeatedly stated by the Holy Qur'an:

لَهُ دَعْوَةُ الْحَقِّ وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَجِيبُونَ لَهُمْ بِشَيْءٍ إِلَّا كَبَاسِطِ كَفَّيْهِ إِلَى الْمَاءِ لِيَبْلُغَ فَاهُ وَمَا هُوَ بِبَالِغِهِ وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ.

“To Him is due the true prayer; and those whom they pray to besides Allah give them no answer, but they are like one who stretches forth his two hands towards water that it may reach his mouth, but it will not reach it; and the prayer of the unbelievers is only in error. 13:14”

وَإِذَا مَسَّكُمْ الضُّرُّ فِي الْبَحْرِ ضَلَّ مَنْ تَدْعُونَ إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاكُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ أَعْرَضْتُمْ وَكَانَ الْإِنْسَانُ كَفُورًا.

“And when distress afflicts you in the sea, away go those whom you call on except He; but when He brings you safe to the land, you turn aside; and man is ever ungrateful. 17:67”

وَإِذَا مَسَّ الْإِنْسَانَ الضُّرُّ دَعَانَا لِجَنْبِهِ أَوْ قَاعِدًا أَوْ قَائِمًا فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُ ضُرَّهُ مَرَّ كَأَنْ لَمْ يَدْعُنَا إِلَى ضُرٍّ مَسَّهُ كَذَلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِلْمُسْرِفِينَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ.

“And when affliction touches a man, he calls on Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove his affliction from him, he passes on as though he had never called on Us on account of an affliction that touched him; thus that which they do is made fair-seeming to the extravagant. 10:12”

وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ أَعْرَضَ وَنَأى بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِيضٍ.

“When We give man an asset, he avoids Us, but when he is afflicted, he has long prayers. 41:51”

The First Effect of Supplication

With an eye on the above points, the first effect of supplication is to fill out the gap which exists in the human nature. This will stop man's falling in the wrong path and will help him to avoid the hazards. This is because resorting to limited powers causes man to engage in flattering others, man's humiliation, and mental failures. It also causes, above all, to forger God, and, as a result, to suffer greatly. In fact, the school of supplication is a general invitation to all needy, depressed and sufferers and the promise to accept and to respond to these needs on the part of that great Almighty's power, which is the only power that can solve the problems.

The Second Effect of Supplication

The second effect of supplication is the relation of the unlimited divine power with the weak man which will bring froth permanent security for man and will fill out his mental gap and will bring him grandeur and glory with which he may confront problems easily. As the following verse from the Holy Quarn depicts:

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ.

“Now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts set at rest. 13:28”

God's remembrance is the only pacifying agent which dominates us. Al-Khidhr (s), at the time of Imam Ali's death, described Imam Ali (s) in this way:

كُنْتَ كَالجَبَلِ لا تُحَرِّكُهُ العَواصِفُ وَلا تُزِيلُهُ القَواصِفُ.

“You were like a mountain which could not be moved by storms nor by tornados.”1
It is strange that man at this stage does not surrender to any power because he connects his power to an ever-lasting one. Imam Husayn (s) says:

أنْتَ مُؤَيِّدِي بِالنَّصْرِ عَلى أعْدائِي وَلَو لا نَصْرُكَ إيّايَ لَكُنْتُ مِنَ المَغْلوبِينَ. يا مَنْ خَصَّ نَفْسَهُ بِالسُّمُوِّ وَالرِّفْعَةِ، فَأوْلِياؤُهُ بِعِزِّهِ يَعْتَزُّونَ. يا مَنْ جُعِلَتْ لهُ المُلوكُ نير المَذَلّةِ عَلى أعْناقِهِمْ فَهُمْ مِن سَطَواتِهِ خائِفونَ.

“O God! It is You, who have supported me to defeat my foes. If You have not assist me, I would be defeated. O You, Who have distinguished Yourself with grandeur and highness. Your guardians are invincible with Your glory. O You, Who have made the kings put the yoke of lowness on their necks and to be frightened of Your influence!”

A cursory look at history will elaborate this issue. The history of the prophets (s) shows that those great ones have always stood firmly in front of the powers of their time. This means that, in front of any prophet, there was always a pharaoh, Shaddad or Nimrod. These great men of God in those days lacked even the simplest physical means to defend themselves. However, they have never given up. It is interesting to note that the prophets were always victorious. Prophet Moses (s) had Aaron only; Abraham (s) had nobody to help him and our prophet only enjoyed Abu Talib's protection. But finally, the will of Allah has defeated all the others:

رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ أُوْلَئِكَ حِزْبُ اللَّهِ أَلَا إِنَّ حِزْبَ اللَّهِ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ.

“Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him; these are Allah's party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones. 58:22”

Another instance is the following:

إِنَّهُمْ لَهُمْ الْمَنصُورُونَ. وَإِنَّ جُندَنَا لَهُمْ الْغَالِبُونَ.

“Most surely they shall be the assisted ones and most surely our host alone shall be the victorious ones. 37:172-173”

The Third Effect of Supplication

The third effect of supplication is believing in God, which accompanies numerous hidden benefits. This great secret is one of the major causes for the establishment of supplication. This is one of the great customs of Allah to which everybody is invited and given special dress of knowledge. If one could grasp the true value of this asset, he would realize that God has not given men any better asset than this one. But how engagement in supplication entails believing in God is an issue, to which we will turn now:

● We saw in previous sections that man in his internal and external relations with the environment comes across numerous needs which he has to satisfy. Therefore, he is always looking for assistance. If man looks at God as an assistant, he will engage in worship and supplication.

Since man is always under the pressure of his needs, he will constantly need God's assistance. This constant attention and permanent worship open up to man a horizon of precious treasures. For this reason, the Holy Qur'an constantly recommends the remembrance of God. Some of these verses are presented here:

فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِكُمْ.

“Remember Allah standing and sitting and reclining. 4:103”

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا.

“O you who believe, remember Allah, remembering frequently. 33:41”

وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ.

“O you who believe! Remember Allah much, that you may be successful. 8:45”

فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ.

“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. 2:152”

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْخَاسِرُونَ.

“O you who believe! Let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers. 63:9”

رِجَالٌ لَا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ.

“Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah. 24:37”

The Holy Qur'an, reproaching those who shun remembering God, says:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ ثُمَّ أَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا إِنَّا مِنْ الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُنتَقِمُونَ.

“And who is more unjust than he who is reminded of the communications of his Lord, then he turns away from them? Surely We will give punishment to the guilty. 32:22”

وَمَنْ يَعْشُ عَنْ ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَانِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ.

“And whoever turns himself away from the remembrance of the Beneficent God, we appoint for him a shaitan, so he becomes his associate. 43:36”

وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى.

“And whoever turns away from My reminder, his shall be a straitened life, and we will raise him on the day of resurrection, blind. 20:124”

Concerning the hypocrites, God says:

َلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا.

“And they do not remember Allah save a little. 4:142”

And concerning the infidels, God says:

الَّذِينَ كَانَتْ أَعْيُنُهُمْ فِي غِطَاءٍ عَنْ ذِكْرِي وَكَانُوا لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَمْعًا.

“They whose eyes were under a cover from My reminder, and they could not even hear. 18:101”

In the Holy Qur'an, there are many advantages mentioned for supplication, for instance:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ.

“Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts set at rest. 13:28”

Definitely, much engagement in supplication needs knowledge and full recognition. In the holy verse:

وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ.

“And remember Allah much, that you may be successful. 8:45”

The word ”Felah” (progress) indicates progress in the divine and spiritual perfection. This invitation gives a positive response to the servant's prayers and it responds to the most of their logical needs and requirements. Another advantage of it is our familiarity with the Creator. God has given this asset to His special servants:

لَهُمْ مَا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ.

“They have therein what they wish and with Us is more yet. 50:35”

The Fourth Effect of Supplication

The fourth advantage of supplication is self-believing and self-recognition. Under the protection of supplication man gets rid of being distant from God and resorts to a power, which dominates everything.

الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاللَّه عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ.

“Whose is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is a witness of all things. 85:9”

وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُحِيطًا.

“And whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is Allah's, and Allah encompasses all things. 4:126”

In supplication we will come across:

سُبْحانَكَ يُسَبِّحُ الخَلْقُ كُلُّهُمْ لَكَ وَقامَ الخَلْقُ كُلُّهُمْ بِكَ وَأشْفَقَ الخَلْقُ كُلُّهُمْ مِنْكَ وَضَرَعَ الخَلْقُ كُلُّهُمْ إلَيكَ.

“O God! Glory be to You. All the creatures glorify You, all the creatures live by You, all the creatures fear You and all the creatures beg you earnestly.”2
In another supplication we read:

سُبحانَكَ خَلَقْتَ كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَإلَيكَ مَعادُهُ وَبَدَأتَ كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَإلَيكَ مُنْتَهاهُ وَأنْشَأتَ كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَإلَيكَ مَصِيرُهُ.

“O God! Glory be to You. You have created everything and everything returns to You. You have initiated everything and everything will end to You. You have established everything and the fate of everything will be to You.”

In fact, not remembering the One, Who is the initiator of everything means forgetting everything. In such a state of mind, man has not recognized the real value of things. He has seen everything in a diverted form and he has lived confusedly. The Holy Qur'an deals with the significant matter of “forgetting God,” which is not dealt with by any school of thinking. There are numerous interpretations in the Holy Qur'an about the concept of “forgetting God.” In the surah of Hashr, we read:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ.

“And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls: such are the transgressors. 59:19”

From all these verses two issues come to mind: Firstly, forgetting God entails self-forgetting and secondly, one, who forgets God, will be forgotten by the Almighty God. With a little attention the relation between these two groups of verses will become clear. Allamah Tabataba’i concerning the verse, “The day when the spirit and the angels stand in ranks, 78:383 discusses the issue of the soul and refers to the sacred verse in which the topic of soul is brought out:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الرُّوحِ قُلْ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا.

“And they ask you about the soul. Say: The soul is one of the commands of my Lord. 17:85”

Then he explains the word “command” and refers to the verse:

إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ.

“His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is. 36:82”

God's command refers to the initiation of a power by anything which He wishes to take on life and the soul belongs to this world of command. There is another verse interpreting “soul” in the following manner:

إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِنْ طِينٍ فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ.

“When your Lord said to the angels: surely I am going to create a mortal from dust; so when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall dawn making obeisance to him. 38:71-72”

From this verse it is clear that spirit or soul is from God. All these verses depict man's relation to Allah. From the sacred verse “and We are nearer to him than his life-vein” the relation becomes even clearer. And from the verse “…Allah intervenes between man and his heart” it is understood that man is nearer to God than to himself.

Thus, we will conclude that forgetting God is, in fact, self-forgetting. This is because if a person forgets God, he will forget His command, as well. Thus, man's soul, which is also of the category of Allah's command, will be forgotten. Since man's very truth lies in his soul and spirit, therefore, he has forgotten himself. This discussion will reveal that the verse:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ.

“Be not like those who forsook Allah so He made them forsake their own souls, 59:19”

This verse is in complete harmony with

قَالَ رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِي أَعْمَى وَقَدْ كُنتُ بَصِيرًا قَالَ كَذَلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا وَكَذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَى.

“He shall say: My Lord! Why hast thou raised me blind, and I was a seeing one indeed? He will say: Even so, our communications came to you, but you neglected them; even thus shall you be forsaken this day. 20:125-126”

This is because if God, who is closer to man than himself, forgets man, man will definitely end up in self-denial. But what is the consequence of this self-denial? Where does it take us? And how does the delicate man endure this state? A cursory look at a blind and non-hearing man, who has not forgotten himself yet, will make this clear. If such a man is left alone in a perilous desert, he will have a deplorable condition, “let alone a person who has forgotten himself.”

أَفَمَنْ شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَى نُورٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَوَيْلٌ لِلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ مِنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ.

“What! Is he whose heart Allah has opened for Islam so that he is in a light from his Lord (like the hard-hearted)? Nay, woe to those whose hearts are hard against the remembrance of Allah; those are in clear error. 39:22”

وَمَنْ يُعْرِضْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ رَبِّهِ يَسْلُكْهُ عَذَابًا صَعَدًا.

“And whoever turns aside from the reminder of his Lord, He will make him enter into an afflicting chastisement. 72:17”

وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَنْ ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا.

“And do not follow him whose heart we have made unmindful to Our remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded. 18:28”

اسْتَحْوَذَ عَلَيْهِمْ الشَّيْطَانُ فَأَنسَاهُمْ ذِكْرَ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ حِزْبُ الشَّيْطَانِ أَلَا إِنَّ حِزْبَ الشَّيْطَانِ هُمْ الْخَاسِرُونَ.

“The shaitan has gained the mastery over them, so he has made them forget the remembrance of Allah; they are the shaitan's party; now surely the shaitan's party are the losers. 58:19”

It is the Holy Qur'an which has made this prediction and has commanded and invited man to the right path:

ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ.

“Call to the way of your Lord. 16:125”

وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا.

“And know that this is My path, the right one. 6:153”

The Fifth Effect of Supplication

Besides the applicant's needs being satisfied, the supplication has numerous other effects. Despite the erroneous assumption of those simple-minded individuals who think that if their needs are not satisfied through supplication, then their supplication is useless, it should be said that the very engagement in supplication is of utmost significance. Imam as-Sadiq (s) has said:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِالدُّعاءِ فَإنَّكُم لا تَقَرَّبونَ إلى اللهِ بِمِثْلِهِ.

“Engage in supplication because it is the best way through which you come close to God.”4
He also says:

ما يَعْلَمُ عِظَمَ ثَوابِ الدُّعاءِ وَتَسْبِيحِ العَبْدِ فِيما بَينَهُ وَبَينَ نَفْسِه إلاّ اللهُ تَبارَكَ وَتعالى.

“No one knows the magnitude of supplication and glorifying Allah when one invokes and glorifies with himself (secretly) save Allah.”5
He also stated:

مَا أبْرَزَ عَبْدٌ يَدَهُ إلى اللهِ العَزيزِ الجَبّارِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إلاّ اسْتَحْيَى اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أنْ يَرُدَّها صِفْراً حَتىّ يَجْعَلَ فِيها مِنْ رَحْمَتِهِ مَا يَشاءُ.

“No servant raises his hand toward Allah the Almighty, unless Allah feels shy to leave it empty. He will put in it some of His mercy as He wills.”

It is for this reason that it is said that there is no supplication without being responded to.6 In the verse “Call upon Me and I will respond to you” responding is based on delivering the supplication. If supplication takes place, its response is inevitable, though some supplications do not lead to being answered superficially.

The Sixth Effect of Supplication

The sixth effect of supplication, which can be considered as one of the basic causes for the establishment of supplication by the infallible imams, is our recognition of the divine knowledge, our understanding of life instructions, our learning the divine traditions and our learning of the way to communicate with Almighty God. One of the features of supplications is that we can find in them the whole truth of the infallible imams who always prayed Allah.

The important point in the traditions reported from the infallible imams is that the narrator has understood the answer to each question offered to the infallible imams in accordance with his own talent. It has happened that one question was offered to the infallible imams and one answer was given but the narrators mentioned the answer differently. The question was: “Can God put the world in an egg shell without making it smaller or making the egg shell larger?” The Imam (s) has answered: “This question is like your eyes because what you see is by the lenses of your eyes whereas neither your eyes have become larger nor the world has become smaller.”7

The same question, however, is answered to another person in the following way: “This is an impossible question.”8 Thus, in reporting the traditions the skill of the narrators is a crucial factor. However, since in supplications, the narrator does not have any role, it shows that the infallible one is manifested in the expressions which are used by him. They have taught us a great amount of knowledge through supplications. They have commanded that these supplications are to be read as they are without adding or subtracting and be used in communicating with God and be handed down to the offspring. This is shown by the Prophet's statement:

فَرُبَّ حامِلِ فِقْهٍ غَيرِ فَقيهٍ وَرُبَّ حامِلِ فِقْهٍ إلى مَنْ هُو أفْقَهُ مِنْهُ.

“There may be one, who has knowledge but he is not an expert and there may be one, who teaches another, who is more learned than him.”9
It is reported in several traditions that Imam as-Sajjad (s) has been asked some questions on monotheism to which he replied:

“Allah knows well that at the end of the world there will be some expert people, who will be profoundly learned. Therefore He has revealed: “say: He, Allah, is One. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute.” (sura of Al-Ikhlas, 112) and also He has revealed some verses at the beginning of the sura of al-Hadid (57) up to His saying: “…and He is cognizant of what is in the hearts.”10 So anybody wishing for anything else will be perished.”11

Thus, the supplications are among the greatest treasures left by the infallible imams (s) for their people. Today, we see that no single page of this great library is lost and it has remained intact. It should be mentioned here that the issue of ziyara12 is the same as the issue of supplication. The significant point concerning the ziyara is people's attention towards the dignities of the infallible imams and towards the carrying out of their commands or else, simply repeating these lifeless words will be of no effect.

In fact, if an individual says, when offering ziyara: “peace be upon you” it simply means that “you are secure in my presence and you are not going to get any harm from me”. Such a person will never commit a sin, however. This is because engaging in sins is to destroy the intentions of the infallible imams (s) who have sacrificed their lives so that the Sharia can continue. Committing sins is the most vicious blow to the presence of those great ones, however.

Thus, besides other advantages, the school of supplication and ziyara tries to establish supreme divine knowledge which has not been raised in the traditions. Therefore the school of supplication is, in fact, an educational institute which have sublime objectives in mind and which is one of the greatest educational policies of Islam.

The Seventh Effect of Supplication

The seventh effect of supplication is to educate a perfect man. Observing those, who have reached the highest points of mental maturation and have gained the climax of virtues, reveals that these high positions in the divine culture of Islam are not a series of idealizations as the feeble-minded ones erroneously assume and then declare: “This is not the present. They refer to the future of which we know nothing. We will enjoy now.” This is completely unfounded, however.

Of course, anybody, who is familiar with the culture of supplication, knows well that a man can not have uttered statements in the form of supplication unless he has reached a high degree of knowledge and virtues. In other words, the very presence of an supplication indicates the high standard of spirituality. The man standing besides the Arafat Mountain invokes his God:

أنْتَ الّذِي لا إلَهَ غَيرُكَ تَعَرَّفْتَ بِكُلِّ شَيءٍ وَأنْتَ الّذي تَعَرَّفْتَ إلَيَّ فِي كُلّ شَيْءٍ فَرَأَيْتُكَ ظاهِراً فِي كُلِّ شَيءٍ وَأنْتَ الظّاهِرُ لِكُلِّ شَيءٍ.

“You are the God, whom there is no god other than. You have made yourself known by everything. You have made yourself known to me in every thing. I see You apparent in everything and You are apparent to everything.”13

The negative forms are used in these statements to emphasize the absolute power of God. The words are selected with such a delicate manner that it will take centuries for people to realize the depth of this passage. Where has this infallible one got these delicate words from? This statement has not been uttered by anybody else before.

Let us notice another occasion when in an orchard in the middle of Medina, at midnight, a man recites, “By Your attributes that have filled the corners of everything,”14 (If he had not seen it, he could not have uttered anything), and his statement bewilders everybody. How could he see Allah's attributes manifested in every phase of the creation?

Thus, as it was previously mentioned, the high issues behind supplication, before everything else points to the high spirit and sublime position of the utterer of the supplication. In other words, we could safely say that Kumayl, Abu Hamza ath-Thamali and Arafah supplications are really the itineraries of these dignitaries in the voyage “From people towards God and from God towards people”. Through supplying us with these precious treasures, they have invited men to their original resorts and have asked everybody to attain these divine positions through their research on the Islamic and divine ethics. These supplications reveal to us that the doors leading to perfection are always open to man. Thus, they should ask God to show them the ways.

This is because Islam is not a series of words to be uttered only, without considering the contents behind prayers and supplications. For instance, the prayer that we perform everyday is a complex set of concepts, in which all human positions are considered and man is invited to go towards them. In the Sha'baniyyah supplication, we are told to ask God:

إلَهي هَبْ لِي كَمالَ الإنْقِطاعِ إلَيكَ وَأَنِرْ أبْصارَ قُلوبِنا بِضِياءِ نَظَرِها إلَيكَ حَتىّ تَخْرِقَ أبْصارُ القُلوبِ حُجُبَ النّورِ فَتَصِلَ إلَى مَعْدِنِ العَظَمَةِ وَتَصيرَ أرْواحُنا مُعَلَّقَةُ بِعِزِّ قُدْسِكَ.

“O my God, grant me to devote myself to You only and light the sights of our hearts with the light of seeing You until the sights of the hearts pierce the screens of light to reach to the essence of greatness and our souls become hung with the glory of Your holiness”
We also read:

إلَهي وَألْحِقْني بِنُورِ عِزِّكَ الأبْهَجِ فَأكُونَ لَكَ عارِفاً وَعَنْ سِواكَ مُنْحَرِفاً.

“O my God! Let me reach the light of your bright glory so that I can recognize You and divert from anyone other than You.”

This supplication is an invitation to the highest degree of the position which is assumed for a gnostic and it is good news for people to know that the doors leading to perfection are always open.

Hindrances on the way to Supplication

In Imam Ali's (Kumayl) supplication we read that there are some obstacles on the way of supplication, which if are not removed by the suppliant, then there will be no response to the supplication. Imam Ali (s) has referred to these significant conditions through this statement: “O my God, forgive my sins that invalidate the supplication!” It indicates that the major hindrances on the way of supplications are sins. Then he has ordered us to ask for pardon to cure this situation.

Concerning this issue, there is a tradition, narrated by Ma'ath Ibn Jabal from the Prophet (s) referring to the major obstacles on the way of supplication.15 In that tradition the Prophet (s) refers to the innate aspects of the affairs, i.e., those aspects which are unknown even by the angels. In this tradition, the obstacles are enumerated:

1. Backbiting one's brothers in religion.

2. An action through which a God's servant wishes to gain some worldly benefits.

3. Pride.

4. Macro-mania.

5. Jealousy towards those who engage in knowledge and practice.

6. Lack of mercy towards the others.

7. An action through which a God's servant wishes publicity.

8. An action which is not carried out for the sake of God.

9. Impudence.

10. Projecting one's sins and wrong-doings over the others.

11. Belittling the others by being macro-maniac.

12. Referring to the others' filth by pretending to be clean.

13. Not providing for the Hereafter through this world.

14. Finding faults with the others.

15. Whispering in the presence of the others.

16. Being malevolent towards the others.

The above inventory is a collection of obstacles before the acceptance of our actions. It is clear that these things can be considered as impediments in the way of supplications. This is because supplication is by itself a kind of worship and it takes us close to God and it is responded if it is accepted. But if it fails to function properly, it naturally will not be accepted.

  • 1. Shaykh Saduq: Al-Amali, p. 241.
  • 2. Al-Balad al-Amin, p. 103.
  • 3. The Holy Verse reads: يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الرُّوحُ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ صَفًّا.
  • 4. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 303.
  • 5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 319.
  • 6. Shaykh Saduq: Al-Khisal, p. 101 and Ma’ani Al-Akhbar, p. 323.
  • 7. Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 79.
  • 8. Shaykh Saduq: Al-Tawhid, p. 130.
  • 9. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 100, p. 46.
  • 10. The Holy Verses intended read: سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ. لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يُحْيِ وَيُمِيتُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ. هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ. هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يَعْلَمُ مَا يَلِجُ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا وَمَا يَنْزِلُ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ وَمَا يَعْرُجُ فِيهَا وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ. لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ. يُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَهُوَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ. “Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allah, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He gives life and causes death; and He has power over all things. He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things. He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six periods, and He is firm in power; He knows that which goes deep down into the earth and that which comes forth out of it, and that which comes down from the heaven and that which goes up into it, and He is with you wherever you are; and Allah sees what you do. His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and to Allah are (all) affairs returned. He causes the night to enter in upon the day, and causes the day to enter in upon the night, and He is Cognizant of what is in the hearts.”
  • 11. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 3, p. 263 and Shaykh Saduq: Al-Tawhid, p. 283.
  • 12. Special wordings recited when visiting one of the holy shrines of the infallible imams or their progenies.
  • 13. Imam Husayn’s Arafah supplication.
  • 14. Imam Ali’s Kumayl Supplication.
  • 15. Uddat al-Da’ee: Ibn Fahad al-Hilli, p. 242.