An elaborate text describing the reality of du`a (supplication), as well as its constituents, categories and effects, and elaborating on the language which is used therein.
Too many are the Qur'anic verses and traditions that emphasize on the necessity of referring to Almighty God, the Creator, on all occasions and under all circumstances so that the relation between the All-merciful God and His servants will be firmer. One of such relations, if not the most important, is the supplication, which is familiarly known as Du'a.
In the Holy Qur'an, Almighty God has guaranteed responding to the pure, well-intended prayers of His servants and, moreover, has encouraged on making Du'a a daily activity that connects the needy servant to the Perfect Lord to Whom everything is returned. Hence, a believer must never dispense with Du'a and must always direct all his feelings towards the Creator asking for help and guidance.
In point of fact, Du'a, like any other item of connection with the All-beneficent God, is conditional upon a set of matters and spiritual and material preparations so that it will achieve its aims and purposes as completely as expected.
In this book, Du'a is presented with thorough details so that its conditions, circumstances and effects will be exposed for the gentle readers hoping they will act upon such affairs so as to achieve the best connection with God.
The book is in fact a translation of the preface of the famous Persian-origin book entitled 'Shuhoud wa Shenakht' (Witnesses and Knowledge), which is of several volumes explaining in details the innumerable points contained by the famous al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah of Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-Abidin. This famous epistle is called 'the Psalms of Islam' for it comprises the most subtle points of the worldly and hereafter lives that each mortal will pass by.
The Ansariyan Publications is pleased to present this book to the dear readers for it believes in the necessity of shedding more light on the reality and significance of Du'a.
The school of supplication (du'a) is a huge divine door open to the believers. It has absorbed divine attention towards this world and has awakened the ignorant and busy man from getting involved in the wrong entertainments, pastimes and diversion. It has, as well, informed him of his genuine needs.
The most significant Islamic scientific resources are reserved in this sublime treasure and have been handed down to us. Thus centuries should pass before a genius is found to open up this valuable reserve and to reveal the mysteries hidden there.
Of course, during the long history of man, this untold secret has always been hidden in the hearts of the men of piety and knowledge and the present wits have not been well-equipped to solve them. Thus, that precious jewel has always remained intact in the hearts of men of God.
We hope we shall never be deprived of this great asset in the years to come. We also hope that the elite and scholars could take advantage of this immense divine knowledge in their lectures and discussions. We hope as well that this group of thinkers could reveal to people the brightness of this divine revelation in such a way so as to release this nation from the false holders of this sea of knowledge, those who unlawfully connect themselves with divine knowledge.
At the end, during the present century, a salvaged man who has more than the others been involved in the publication of these divine facts and in the education of this government, is Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, the head of all masters in the field of research, a well-educated son in the school of Ahlul Bayt1 (s) and the translator of the Holy Qur'an. The present article is a humble acknowledgement of this endless ocean of knowledge. I hope that His mercy will include this humble servant of His.
The scholars are well aware of the fact that there are different and numerous ways to describe and explain an ambiguous issue. Each way is used in certain conditions to cause man to reach his aims. These ways are briefly the following:
• Verbatim definition: This is when we use a clearer concept in order to solve an ambiguity;
• Real definition: When the essence of an object is in question, we describe the category to which it belongs.
• “Sharhol Esmi” definition: This is when we are asked about the appearance and effects of some thing, and we provide a person with some features of that object.
• Definition based on the existence of an item: This time a question is asked concerning the forms of the object. In this case, we must endeavor to delve into the forms and quality of the object.
• Definition based on samplers: This time, in order to define an item we can provide the questions with samplers or examples of the event or object.
Since old times, the provision of defining supplication has always been available. Here we offer several definitions for supplication.
Ibn Faris in his Mo'jam Maqaiis al-Logha, under the title of supplication, says: “supplication means attracting one's attention by using words”. 1
Raghib has written in the section Mofradat: “Supplication is the same as vocative speech except that in vocative speech we use vocative articles (Ya or Aya)”.
If we take the absolute supplication as a genus and if we consider the kinds of supplication such as “genesis” supplication, “tongue” supplication, “heart” supplication, creature's supplication, the Creator's supplication, people's supplication as Fasl or a chapter, we may adjoin the absolute supplication with one of the above features and call it supplication.
Among the most prevalent definitions in sciences is to mention the characteristics and features of an item. This is because the realization of the essence and the truth behind things are not accessible even by all the scientists since they unanimously have believed that the recognition of the truth of existence is relative. All what science has revealed is but a very small portion of the secrets of the creation. These secrets still remain behind a curtain of ambiguity.
The introduction of supplication through its effects has frequently been observed. We read in some traditions that “supplication is a believer's weapon, is the foundation of religion, the heavenly light on the earth, it changes one's fate, it will cause the disasters to be away and finally supplication is a relation between God and His servants”1 and the like in all of which the answer is based on the effects of supplication.
As we have seen earlier, the best kind of definition is the one, which distinguishes the essence of something. Through this definition we may separate our question from ambiguity and find its borders. A good example is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an where God discloses the nature of man:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ طِينٍ. ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ. ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ.
“And certainly we created man of an extract of clay. Then we made him a small seed in a firm resting-place. Then we made the seed a clot, Then we made the clot a lump of flesh, then we made in the lump of flesh bones, then we clothed the bones with flesh; Then we caused it to grow into another creation 23:12-14”
This holy verse shows the evolution of man clearly. In explaining supplication, this last definition is prevalent in the words of the great people. An example has been mentioned in Al-Mizan:
“Supplication originates from the heart and is uttered by the tongue one's nature. It is not the movement of the tongue, however”.2
This simply means that man recognizes this truth deep inside himself and clearly knows its values. One of the significant features of this definition is that it will include genesis supplication as well. None of the above definitions is inclusive as this one is. Allamah Tabatabai says:
“Thus, you will observe that Allah responds to supplications that are not uttered by our tongues. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
وَآتَاكُمْ مِنْ كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا.
“And He gives you of all that you ask Him; and if you count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them. 14:34 ”
يَسْأَلُهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ والأرض.
“All those who are in the heavens and the earth ask of him. 55:29”
This shows clearly that Allah's favors are not countable. People ask God of what is in the Heavens and on the earth. What has been stated by this verse makes our definition clear.
Perhaps the best thing we may get out of the above definitions of supplication is the following: The best and most inclusive definition for supplication is “asking” in its broad and common sense. It will, then, include all the above definitions, even the genesis definition. The specific features of supplication under different situations depend on special motives which a user has in mind.
Thus, we may say that the word “supplication” refers to asking a superior one by an inferior one, or to asking by an inferior from a superior or to asking of one from an equal one. This will include the genesis and innate asking as well. Thus, the use of the word “supplication” or (du'a) in the holy verse, “And Allah invites you to the abode of peace,” means asking for something.3
We could say that defining supplication in this manner does not solve any problem unless if the intention behind its use is clear.
The summary of this discussion is that if we can find different conditions in which supplication takes place and if we arrive at different definitions and if we can analyze the cases of supplication, then the ambiguity of the word disappears and we can subsequently arrive at our destination. At the same time, what we have in mind when discussing supplication is the people's asking from their Creator and establishing relation with Him through supplication. This can be done either through the tongue of our hearts or through our ordinary tongues.
We shall begin this discussion with the question: Is supplication necessary? To answer this question, we resort to this verse of the Qur'an:
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ.
“Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer. 25:77”
This means that supplication is the only way of the relation between the servants and their Lord (Allah) and it is the only way commanded by Allah for people to have relation with Him. In other words, all of the supplications narrated form the infallible imams establish relations between the Creator and the creatures. Allah would cut His special favors if there were not these relations established. In such cases, Allah's subjects would lose the ability to deserve Allah's favors.
The Holy Qur'an calls this state “pride” (Istikbar) by a creature that originally has no prestige except for the prestige of being Allah's humble servant.
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ.
“And your Lord says: call upon me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for my service shall soon enter hell abased. 40: 60”
Doing such a crime by an individual is obnoxious and its insolence is inexplicable so much so that Allah has explicitly announcing that such individuals will be deprived of His favors. As a conclusion out of these verses it can be understood that why the Holy Qur'an through different means has invited man to use supplications; for instance, the previous verse and the following verses:
وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَكُمْ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنْصَرُونَ.
“And return to your Lord time after time and submit to Him before there comes to you the punishment, then you shall not be helped. 39:54”
وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ يُنِيبُ.
“And (He) guides to Himself him who turns (to Him) frequently. 42: 13”
وَمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ إِلَّا مَنْ يُنِيبُ.
“And none minds but he who turns to Him again and again. 40:13”
وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهَا وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ لَهُمْ الْبُشْرَى.
“And as for those who keep off from the worship of the idols and turn to Allah, they shall have good news. 39: 17”
A cursory look at these verses reveals two points; one is the exposure to severe punishments in cases where supplication is left aside and the other is getting Allah's special care and favors if supplication is used sincerely.
Concerning this issue, there are numerous traditions in Al-Mahajjat al-Baydhaa, Bihar al-Anwar, and al-Kafi which have dealt with the matter to such an extent that no sufferer or miserable person could bring excuses when not practicing supplication. In Al-Mahajjat al-Baydhaa, it is narrated from Imam as-Sadiq (s):
إنَّ عِندَ اللهِ مَنْزِلَةً لا تُنالُ إلاّ بالمَسْألَةِ.
“There is an honorable position near Allah which can be earned only through supplication.”4
It is also narrated from Imam Ali (s):
إدْفَعوا أمْواجَ البَلاءِ بِالدُّعاءِ.
“Be safe from the waves of disasters by supplication.”5
If we put aside the reasons offered by the infallible imams about the necessity of supplication for a moment and concentrate on the rational reasons for the necessity of supplication, we will definitely conclude that we can not do anything else except turning towards Allah. Allamah Tabatabaiy when talking about the verse, “All praise is due to Allah the Lord of the worlds,” says:
“Thus, man possesses only the prestige of worship. This truth does not depend on our awareness of it. Whether we realize it or not, this is an innate and compulsory relation. This is a truth related to man's existence and to other creatures' existence as well.”
For further elaboration, let us refer to the words, which Allamah Tabatabai has added when talking about this verse:
وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.
“And whoever that is in the heavens and the earth makes obeisance to Allah only. 13:15 and 16:49,”
“Thus, if in front of Allah, the Almighty, man and the other creatures have no prestige except that of obedience, then what is left for us to carry out is to have direct relation with Allah and we have to ask Him for our needs. In fact, if human wisdom could comprehend this truth thoroughly, man would never establish any connection except with Allah. Of course being effective and affected is inevitable among the creatures, but all these effects are done by Allah's will.”
One of the poets says:
This rational reasoning is enough to convince us to be compelled to pay full attention to the source of the creation. For instance, this verse “Say: My Lord would not care for you were it not for your prayer,” refers to this rational necessity. The establishment of the school of supplication in Islam and the emphasis of the verses and traditions on worshipping Allah, all reveal a secret in this school and it shows how supplication is necessary for our daily lives. This is among the most fundamental and basic issues in the realm of the secrets between the Creator and the creatures, which if enacted, would bring about actions and movements.
The human nature, which is always after the gaining of benefits and interests, will demand more if its needs are constantly met. Satisfying all these necessities will call for extraordinary endeavor, however. In order to satisfy his needs, man resorts to any thing. But no matter how hard we attempt, there always remain some needs unsatisfied. In this case, man will select one of the two ways; either he despairs and resorts to depression or he attempts frantically. In other words, in order to satisfy his needs, man leaves the human boundary and tries so hard that he may neglect what is good and what is bad. This is because he is controlled by some whims and desires which have made him blind.
This is where we observe the secrets behind the strict recommendations of Islam. We will see that this religion bridges the spiritual-mental gaps in man, and has provided him with some apparatus through which he may not lose himself in the hazardous waves of unsatiable needs and necessities and to be strong against inevitable hardships.
It is a fact that man can, through supplication, add up energy to his feebled muscles and join the Initiator of all the creation. He, in this way, can stand against any problem and consider his capabilities above all needs. This is because he has asked for the assistance of Allah and has determined to progress because his success is guaranteed. We should add that human wisdom will not allow man to stand lonely and helpless in the face of innumerable difficult moments of life and to get along life without using supplication. This is because supplication is the nearest means, the safest way, a helper with no hypocrisy, a support void of any hatred and a revelation in harmony with the divine nature of man.
The history of supplication is as old as the history of mankind. This is because man is always in need of different sorts of supplications and has constantly felt deep from inside that he needs a strong support. Never in the history of mankind has man been negligent of the concept of the Initiator of the creation. The researches shows that even in the oldest phases of human history temples have been among the undeniable facts of life. Even at the time when man was not able to conceive the concept of an everlasting Initiator of the creation and erroneously resorted to gods for help, he used to combine his adventurous life with hope.
The secret of the foundation of the existence is the mere relation with the Creator. It is as if the secret of the existence of our tongues is in its continuous asking God, the Almighty, for the continuation of His favors. This means that the characteristics and features of each creature are its connection with the Absolute Rich, whose very existence is constantly dependent on His favors and blessings. Thus all the existence is a tongue which always asks Almighty God for its continuity. This is because if at any fraction of a second He decides to cut off His favors, everything becomes null and void. Thus, God has said:
وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِنْدَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَعْلُومٍ.
“And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures of it, and we do not send it down but in a known measure. 15:21”
God has also said:
إِنْ يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ.
“If He pleases, He will take you off and bring a new creation. 14:19”
All this indicates our absolute poverty before God's absolute richness. The researchers call this kind of innate begging for assistance as ”Du'a Takwini” or genesis supplication. Of course, as asking for existence is creational, it is also applicable to other creatures. For instance, a child born to a mother asks God with its lips, mouth, larynx and digestive system for suitable food and nourishments. Man, too, in accordance with his creation, asks Allah for food, clothing, medicine and other needs. In answer to this creational supplication, God says: “And He gives you of all that you ask Him”. Thus, the existence depends in all its aspects on supplication. The existence is among the necessary assets from which all the creatures benefit.
Of course, in philosophy, sometimes this relationship is interpreted as dominated by effects or non-causative when our discussion deals with the creation and existence. And it is interpreted as causative where the existence is already before the Creator. Sometimes it is interpreted as “in a state of being created” and “in a state of being feasible” that the person, who practices supplication is controlled by Almighty God. Thus, each one of the above expressions is used in a specific sphere of philosophy and should be observed taking everything into consideration.
However, man has unfortunately been negligent of this very close relationship and since he erroneously thinks that God arranges the things and events and that man does not have any freedom of action whatsoever, he has not grasped the true meaning of supplication. A poet says:
Yes, according to the above poem, where are we and where are those great men who are familiar with the true language of existence and have disclosed the mystery of the creation and have started to worship the Creator of all these beauties and have understood every aspect of this secret?
Of course, it should be known that one of the virtues of man is his realization of the absolute domination of Almighty God over the whole creation “Judgment is only Allah's”. He realizes that there is no power except in Allah and that any movement is made possible only through His determination.
Supplications are of the following types:
This refers to uttering an supplication in which the tongue is not in harmony with the heart. We know that the mere mentioning of the order of events does not bring about the desired sensation. For instance, if we perceive fire in our mind, our perception does not have the properties of the fire, i.e. heat and light.
Thus, if we use supplication only verbally, it does not convey the proper conception of the supplication. In philosophy, it is known that a true representative of a class of phenomena is the one in which form and meaning coincide with each other. Thus if you move your tongue and lips verbally but you are not thinking on what you are uttering, then what you utter is not supplication.
Such a person is involved in using supplication only verbally. He has not employed supplication in the right sense of the word. In such a case a person should expect for anything to happen. In Mathnawi, we read:
This occurs when your tongue is in harmony with your heart when uttering an supplication. (The tongue is the interpreter of the heart). In such a case, this is a genuine sample of supplication and is very likely to being responded to. Of course, this sort of supplication may not be answered superficially; but we should realize that this kind of supplication is a sort of worship, which will definitely be rewarded. But a delay in responding to it by Allah might be due to the secret behind that issue. Imam Ali (s) writes in his will to his son Imam Hassan (s):
وَرُبَما سَألْتَ الشَّيْءَ فَلا تُؤتاهُ وَأُوتِيتَ خَيراً مِنهُ عاجِلاً أوْ آجِلاً أوْ صُرِفَ عَنْكَ لِما هُو خَيرٌ لَكَ؛ فَلَرُبّ أمْرٍ قَد طَلَبْتَهُ فِيهِ هَلاكُ دِينِكَ لَو أُوتِيتَهُ.
“Sometimes you ask Allah, the Almighty, for something, but you are not given what you have asked for or you may be given something better than what you have asked for sooner or later or may never be given just for your advantage. There may be something you ask for but it will destroy your faith if you are given it.”6
A poet says:
Sometimes in supplication, the form (language) and the meaning (content), “the tongue and the heart” coincide, but the problem is that the supplicant's knowledge is limited. This means if a supplicant knew the secrets behind his demand, he not only would reject it but he would try to keep away from it. It is narrated that once Imam Ali (s) heard a man saying, “O God, protect me against seditions,” Imam Ali (s) said:
أَراكَ تَتَعَوّذُ مِن مالِكَ وَولدِكَ، يَقولُ اللهُ تَعالى: “أنمَّا أمْوالُكُم وَأوْلادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ.” وَلكِنْ قُلْ: اللّهُمَّ إنّي أَعوذُ بِكَ مِن مُضِلاّتِ الفِتَنِ.
“By using this supplication you are asking God to let you keep away from your wife, children and your wealth because Allah, the Almighty has said: your wealth and your children are seditions. You are to say: O God, I seek Your protection the misleading seditions.”
Elsewhere, Imam Ali (s) says:
وَرُبَّ أمْرٍِِِ حَرَصَ الأنْسانُ عَلَيهِ فَلمّا أدْرَكهُ وَدَّ أنْ لَمْ يَكنْ أدْرَكهُ.
“There may be something that one tries his best to get but when he gets it, he wished he had not got it.”
It is a fact that most of us in our prayers and supplications ask God for something which really we do not want. But the beneficent God compensates for our wishes that He does not achieve. However, sometimes we become worried when our supplications are not responded to and we do not understand that it is Allah, the only One, Who knows where our advantages are. Hafiz, the Iranian famous poet, says:
In the supplication of (al-Iftitah), we read:
فَإنْ أبْطَأَ عَنيّ عَتِبْتُ بِجَهْلي عَلَيْكَ، وَلَعَلَّ الّذي أبْطَأ عَنيّ هُوَ خَيرٌ لِي لِعِلْمِكَ بِعاقِبَةِ الأُمُورِ، فَلَمْ أَرَ مَولىً كَريماً أصْبَرَ عَلى عَبْدٍ لَئيمٍ مِنْكَ عَلَيَّ يا رَبِّ.
“O my Lord! If it is delayed, I complain because of my ignorance and perhaps the delay is better for me for You know the ends of the matters… I have not found a generous guardian more patient than You towards a mean servant like me, O my Lord!”
Imam as-Sadiq (s) says:
وَاعْرِفْ طُرُقَ نَجاتِكَ وَهَلاكِكَ كَيْلا تَدعُوَ اللهَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنهُ هَلاكُكَ وَأنْتَ تَظُنُّ فِيهِ نَجاتَكَ. قالَ الله عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: “وَيَدْعُ الْإِنسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَاءَهُ بِالْخَيْرِ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ عَجُولًا.”
“Know the ways of your deliverance and perdition lest you ask Allah for something that makes you perish whereas you think it will deliver you. Allah has said: “And man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good, and man is ever hasty. 17:11”
It is also narrated that the Prophet (s) has asked Allah not to respond to the cursing of a lover upon the beloved one because the lover's curse on the beloved is not the lover's true intention and Allah's favor is in such a way that such curses are not responded to.
Sometimes, an utterer of supplication, due to his ignorance to the wordings of the supplication or his lack of attention, might offer the form of supplication in wrong ways while his spiritual intention was something else. In traditions and religious books, this kind of supplication is called Malhun.
In the book entitled Uddat al-Da'ee, there is a tradition narrated from Imam al-Jawad (s) saying that the right pronunciation of the words in an supplication is not the condition for the response to that supplication. It is only important for more elegance. Thus, Imam al-Jawad's statement “…and he is not to mistake in his supplication” is not to be taken as praise to this kind of supplication because when an supplication is uttered appropriately, it will explain the intention better.
The rest of Imam al-Jawad's statement: “The solecistic supplication does not ascend to the Heaven” also indicates that an supplication uttered wrongly will not ascend to the Heaven because responding to one's supplication by God is God's immense favor upon His servants. The opposite of this generosity will never occur however. The statement of the Prophet (s) too “A non-Arab of my nation recites the Qur'an mistakenly but the angels raise it to the Heaven as recited in correct Arabic,” attests to this topic that the issue in supplication is the spiritual connection.
In this concern, it is narrated that somebody has come to Imam Ali (s) and told him: “Today Bilal was arguing with an Arab and he committed an error in his speech and the man laughed at him”. Imam Ali (s) replied:
يا عَبدَ اللهِ، إنمَّا يُرادُ إعْراب الكَلامِ وَتَقْويمُه الأعمال وتَهذِيبها، ما يَنْفَعُ فُلاناً إعْرابُه وَتقْويمُه لِكَلامهِ إذا كانَتْ أفْعالُه مَلحونَةً أقْبحَ لَحْنٍ، وَماذا يَضُرُّ بِلالاً لحْنُهُ في كَلامِه إذا كانَتْ أفعالُهُ مُقَومَةً أحْسَنَ تَقويمٍ وَمُهذّبةً أحسنَ تَهذيبٍ.
“O Servant of God! Nothing will benefit anyone whose doings are wrong whereas his supplication is correct…nothing will harm Bilal if he mistakes in uttering his supplication whereas his doings are of the best doings.”
We read in a tradition narrated from Imam al-Jawad (s):
ما أسْتَوى رَجُلانِ في حَسَبٍ ودِينٍ قَطُّ إلاّ كانَ أفْضَلَهُما عِندَ اللهِ عزَّ وَجَلَّ آدابُهُما… بِقِراءَةِ القُرْآنِ كَما أُنزِلَ وَدُعائِهِ اللهَ عَزّ وَجَلَّ مِن حَيثُ لا يَلحَنُ، وَذلِكَ أنَّ الدُّعاءَ المَلحونَ لا يَصعَدُ إلى اللهِ عَزَّ وجَلَّ.
“If two men are equal due to their ancestry and faith, the politer of them will be better near Allah.” The narrator asked him, “What is his virtue near Allah?” Imam al-Jawad (s) said, “His reciting the Qur'an as it has been revealed invoking Allah with no mistake because a solecistic supplication does not ascend to the Heaven.”7
In this kind of supplication, words are not used; rather, only the heart turns towards God. This innate and genuine relation always occurs between Allah and His servants. This is the truth behind supplication and it is assumed to be the best spiritual state in man's life.
This is something desired internally by somebody, but not uttered to Allah yet. Allah, the Almighty, will respond to this kind of supplication as well. However, this positive response might be due to something good having been done before or perhaps it might be related to another supplication uttered previously but not being carried out due to the fact that it was inadvisable. This same content is observed in numerous supplications and traditions. Imam Ali (s) in “Kumayl supplication” says to God:
اَللَّهُمَّ مَولايَ، كَمْ مِنْ قَبيحٍ سَتَرْتَهُ وَكَمْ مِنْ فادِحٍ مِن البَلاءِ أقَلْتَهُ وَكَمْ مِنْ عَثارٍ وَقَيْتَهُ وَكَمْ مِنْ مَكرُوهٍ دَفَعْتَهُ وَكَمْ مِنْ ثَناءٍ جَميلٍ لَسْتُ أهْلاً لَهُ نَشَرْتَهُ.
“O my Lord, how many bad doings I have done but You have covered them, how many serious disasters You have saved me from, how many troubles You have removed from my way, how many misfortunes You have got me rid of and how much fine praise that I do not deserve You have spread!”
And we read in the supplication of al-Iftitah:
فَكمْ يا إلهِٰي مِنْ كرْبَةٍ قَدْ فَرَّجْتَها وَهُمُومٍ قَدْ كشَفْتَها وَعَثْرَةٍ قَدْ أقَلْتَها وَرَحْمَةٍ قَدْ نَشَرْتَها وَحَلَقَةِ بَلاءٍ قَدْ فَككتَها.
“O my Lord, how many distresses You have relieved me of, how many griefs You have dispelled, how many troubles You have removed, how many mercies You have spread, how many ordeals You have kept (me) safe from.”
The Prophet (s) has said:
مَنْ صَامَ يَومَ الإثْنَينِ وَالخَميسِ مِن شَعْبانَ قَضَى لَهُ عِشْرِينَ حاجَةً مِنْ حَوائِجِ الدُّنيا وَعِشرينَ حَاجَةً مِن حَوائِجِ الآخِرَةِ.
“Anybody who goes on fasting on Mondays and Thursdays in the month of Sha'ban, Allah will satisfy twenty of his worldly needs and twenty of his needs in the Hereafter.”
These evidences show that most of man's real needs which are not raised yet or have not yet entered into man's mind will be satisfied someday.
This is an supplication desired by our evolutionary nature. Basically nature is managed by the Creator in such a way that all the needs of the creatures, plants, animals and the like are met. One example is the infant's food which is made ready in the mother's breasts even before its birth. This food is needed by the child. In the holy Qur'an, we read:
يَسْأَلُهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ والأرض.
“All those who are in the heavens and the earth ask of him. 55:29”
We also read:
وَآتَاكُمْ مِنْ كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا.
“And He gives you of all that you ask Him; and if you count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them. 14:34”
It is clear that man is unable to ask for infinite assets which he needs. Therefore, all the assets which exist in the world other than ours, and which are innumerable are the evolutional blessings of Allah.
It is worth mentioning that most of Allah's assets are not conceivable by man; so man would not wish for them. Thus, if many of our needs (such as all kinds of fruits, vegetables, colors, beauties, and the like) did not exist in nature, nobody could even think of them or wish for them. For instance, if winter and summer fruits did not exist, who would think of them or ask for them?
Thus, most divine assets are created in response to man's natural and evolutionary needs without our asking for them. It is only He, who knows what kind of needs a particular creature requires.
Of course, it should be known that this kind of supplication is always responded. This is because it is created by God and anything which He deems as inevitable is done.
Considering the previous issues, it is clear that supplication is a truth which is beyond the spiritless words and it possesses a particular spirit which is the exact relation between the utterer of supplication and the one for whom supplication is uttered. In other words, when practicing supplication, after using words, if words are to be used, our determination should be serious. It is the result of attraction and being attracted and it is one of the human traits. In supplication, man should say what he cares for.
Thus, if we analyze the truth behind supplication, we will find that it is the fact of being slave in front of Allah, the Almighty. We can generally say that any sort of worship done by man is a kind of supplication, and asking for Allah's favors. In this concern, Allamah Tabataba'iy, in Al-Mizan, refers to the mistake which the writer of al-Manar has committed. This writer has erroneously assumed that not every worship is an supplication (for instance fasting, although a kind of worship, is not considered as supplication).
Allamah Tabataba'i says: “Supplication is analytically asking for divine assistance and favors. Therefore, fasting, which is, by nature, a kind of asking for perfection, growth and for Allah's favors, is considered as an important way to beg God's benevolence.”8
As a conclusion, the previous discussions show that if your tongue gets involved in supplication but your heart does not, it means that a real supplication has not occurred. This may also show that there is a separation between the tongue in our mouths and the tongue of our hearts. That is to say, the tongue of our mouths asks for something which is denied by the tongue of our hearts. For instance, a father might engage in supplication, praying for his son to be guided in the right path. However, this father performs some actions that may lead to his son's destruction; for example, inappropriate associations or causing unsuitable conditions to the family.
It is evident that this father's real intention is not his son's prosperity because unless the heart's attention precedes that of our tongues, literal supplication is of no use. This is like a sick man who wishes for his healing, but he does not take the necessary medicines. In such cases, no doubt, supplication is not influential. In this connection, Imam Ali (s) tells Imam Hassan (s):
العَطِيَّةُ عَلى قَدْرِ النّيَّّةِ.
“The gift of Allah will be as much as one's intention.”
Imam Ali (s) says:
لا يَقْبَلُ اللهُ دُعاءَ قَلْبِ لاهٍٍ.
“Allah will not respond to the supplication of a heedless heart.”9
In Tafseer Al-Mizan, concerning this tradition, we read:“The secret behind not responding to this supplication lies in the fact that it was not genuine and sincere.”
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِي إِذَا دَعَانِي فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ.
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way. 2:186”
This verse has referred to a number of delicate issues concerning supplication. The author of Al-Mizan believes that this verse has used the techniques of supplication in the simplest and most elegant style. The first point is that the verse does not refer to a third person; rather it uses a first person singular, which clearly depicts the concern of Allah towards supplication. The second point is that the believers are not indicated by “people;” but “my servants.” This shows the close relation between Allah and His servants. The third point is that Allah does not use any intermediary; rather He uses “I” and refers to Himself as the responder to the supplication. The fourth point is that the emphasis marker inna (إنّ ) is used. The fifth point is that Allah, the Almighty, uses the word ”Qurb” meaning closeness; and this shows eternity and stability.
The sixth point is that the word ”ujeebu—I respond to” is used in the future tense which indicates stability, duration, and repetition of responding to the supplication. The seventh point to be discussed here is that a supplicant should be honest and sincere in his supplication; therefore the condition for the response the supplication relies on the supplicant.
After mentioning these seven points, the author of Al-Mizan says that this holy verse has been arranged concisely and in a delicate manner. The first person singular pronoun “I” is used seven times which is a unique phenomenon in the Qur'an.
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.
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.”
Hafiz, the Iranian poet, says:
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.
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:
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.
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 factor in supplication is the supplicant. A supplicant has to observe the following conditions:
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
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this chapter, we discuss one important issue, which is the status of the supplicants.
A request includes only a specific desire; for instance, property, positions or knowledge. A supplicant concentrates only on his special want and sees God as a means that achieves his objective. Of course, this is an asset given by God. It embraces a servant who has not referred to others to achieve his wishes but he has turned towards God only. Imam Ali (s) in his prayer says:
إلَهي كُلُّ مَكْروبٍ إلَيكَ يَلتَجِيءُ وَكُلُّ مَحْزونٍ بِكَ إيّاكَ يَرتَجِي. إلَهي سَمِعَ العابِدونَ بِجَزيلِ ثَوابِكَ فَخَشَعُوا، وَسَمِعَ الزّاهِدُونَ بِسَعَةِ رَحْمَتِكَ فَقَنِعوا، وَسَمِعَ المُوَلّونَ عَنِ القَصْدِ بِجُودِكَ فَرَجعُوا، وَسَمِعَ المُجْرِمونَ بِسَعَةِ غُفْرانِكَ فَطَمِعوا، وَسَمِعَ المُؤمِنُونَ بِكَرَمِ عَفْوِكَ وَفَضْلِ عَوارِفِكَ فَرَغِبوا حَتىّ ازْدَحَمَت، مَولايَ، بِبابِكَ عَصائِبُ العُصاةِ مِنْ عِبادِكَ وَعَجَّ إلَيكَ مِنْهُم عَجيجَ الضَّجِيجِ بِالدُّعاءِ في بِلادِكَ وَلِكُلٍّ أَمَلٌ قَد ساقَ صَاحِبَهُ إلَيكَ مُحتاجاً.
“O my Lord, every oppressed one resorts to You and every distressed one looks forward to You. O my Lord, the worshippers hear of Your great reward so they submit to You, the ascetics hear of Your great mercy so they become satisfied, the deviants hear of Your generosity so they return to You, the criminals hear of Your great forgiveness so they covet to come to You and the believers hear of Your pardon and favors so they long to You until masses of disobedient servants of Yours crowd at Your gate and they clamor invoking You in Your sanctum and every one of them has a hope leading him to You to fulfill his need.”1
In Arafah Supplication, Imam Husayn (s) says:
اَللّهُمّ ما أَخافُ فَاكْفِني، ومَا أحْذَرُ فَقِنِي، وَفي نَفْسي وَدِينِي فَاحْرُسْنِي، وَفي سَفَري فاحْفَظْنِي، وَفِي أهْلي وَمالي فاخْلُفْنِي، وَفي ما رَزَقْتَني فَبارِكْ لِي، وَفِي نَفْسِي فَذَلِّلْنِي، وَفِي أعْيُنِ النّاسِ فَعَظِّمْنِي، وَمِنْ شَرِّ الجِنِّ وَالأنْسِ فَسَلِّمْنِي، وَبِذُنوبِي فَلا تَفْضَحْنِي، وَبِسَريرَتِي فَلا تُخْزِني، وَبِعَمَلي فلا تَبْتَلِنِي، وَنِعَمَكَ فَلا تَسْلُبْنِي، وإلى غَيْرِكَ فَلا تَكِلْنِي.
“O Allah, relieve me from whatever I fear, save me from whatever I dread, protect my soul and religion, take care of me in my travels, make me blessed with my family and properties, bless my livelihood, make me low before myself and honored before people, make me safe from the evils of the jinn and people, do not shame me with my sins, do not make me ashamed by disclosing my secrets, do not try me with my living affairs, do not deprive me of Your blessings and do not leave me to other than You!”
Imam as-Sajjad prays God by saying:
وَلا تَكلْنِي إلَی خَلْقِكَ، بَلْ تَفَرَّدْ بِحاجَتِي،وَتَوَلَّ كِفايَتِي وَانْظُرْ إلَيَّ وَانْظُرْ لي فِي جَمِيعِ أُمورِي.
“O my Lord, do not make me rely on Your creatures. Be the only one, Who fulfill my needs! Suffice me with all what I want! Look at me and look after all my affairs!”
One day, Imam as-Sajjad was told in Mecca that his garden in Medina had been confiscated. They told him that al-Waleed Ibn Abdul Melik, the Umayyad caliph, had come from Damascus to Mecca to offer the hajj and he might have asked for his help. Imam as-Sajjad (s) said: “Woe to you, should I ask, for help, other than God in God's House?”
إنّي آنَفُ أنْ أَسْألَ الدُّنْيا خالِقَها، فَكيْفَ أسْألُها مَخْلوقاً مِثْلي؟
“I even avoid asking the Creator of the world for worldly desires, then how shall I ask a creature like me for that?”2
At this stage, a supplicant knows that the Almighty God likes His servants to practice supplication:
ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ.
“Call upon Me, I will answer you. 40:60”
Thus, a supplicant practices supplication just to carry out God's commands and he is to be always content with his God and he is not to care if his wishes are answered or not. Hafiz, the Iranian poet says:
If one's wishes are answered, it shows that God has more favors towards that one. If they are not answered, God sees that they are not appropriate for that one. Thus, an obedient servant of God obeys the command “call upon Me, I will answer you” and wishes not to be among those who are meant by the following verse:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ.
“Surely those, who are too proud for My service, shall soon enter hell abased. 40:60”
Imam As-Sajjad (s) says:
فَأَمَرْتَنا بِذِكْرِكَ، وَها نَحْنُ ذاكِروكَ كَما أَمَرْتَنا.
اَللّهُمّ وَأنْتَ القائِلُ وَقَوْلُكَ حَقٌّ وَوَعْدُكَ صِدْقٌ: “وَاسْأَلُوا اللهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إنَّ اللهَ كَانَ بِكْلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيماً”
“O Allah, You have said; -and Your saying and promise are the truth-: (and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things. 4:32)”
In Kumeyl Supplication, Imam Ali (s) says:
فَإنَّكَ قَضَيْتَ عَلَى عِبادِكَ بِعِبادَتِكَ وَأَمَرْتَهُمْ بِدُعائِكَ.
“You have imposed on Your servants to worship You and You have ordered them to invoke You.”
Imam Ali (S) says:
اَلحَمْدُ للهِ الّذي مَرْضاتُهُ في الطَّلَبِ إلَيْهِ وَإلْتِماسِ ما لَدَيْهِ وَسَخَطُهُ في تَرْكِ الإلْحاحِ في المَسْألَةِ عَلَيْهِ.
“Praise be to Allah, Whose contentment is in invoking Him and asking for what He has and Whose discontent is in not insisting on invoking Him.”5
This is the status of those who are silent and who exemplify the following expression:
حَسْبي مِنْ سُؤالي عِلْمُهُ بِحالي.
“I dispense with invoking Allah for it suffices me that He is aware of my state.”652
A supplicant sees that this is his guideline. Imam Husayn (s) says:
أغْتَني بِتَدْبِيرِكَ لِي عَنْ تَدبِيرِي وَبِاخْتِيارِكَ عَن اخْتِيارِي.
“O my Lord, Your managing my affairs suffices me rather than my management and Your choice to me is better than mine to myself.”753
Such a person will have no request at all and he will be content with what Allah is content with. This is the same as “the status of being content”, which is the characteristic of God's true believers. These people have excelled in servitude and have tasted being God's genuine servants and they will not compare any pleasure with being at the service of Allah. In such a status, we come across many supplications narrated from our infallible imams (s), who have given people the best kind of education. We read in the Sha'baniyyah supplication:
فَقَدْ هَرَبْتُ إلَيكَ وَوَقَفْتُ بَينَ يَدَيْكَ مُسْتَكِيناً لَكَ.
“I have escaped to You. I have stopped before You submitting to You.”
Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
إلِهي أنْتَ الفاعِلُ لِما تَشاءُ, تُعَذّبُ مَنْ تَشاءُ كَيْفَ تَشاءُ وَتَرْحَمُ مَنْ تَشاءُ بِما تَشاءُ كَيْفَ تَشاءُ, لا تُسْئَلُ عَنْ فَعْلِكَ.
“O my Lord, You do whatever You like. You torture whomever You like and however You like and have mercy upon whomever You like, with whatever You like and however You like. You are not asked about whatever You do.”8
Imam Husayn (s) says:
إنّ اخْتِلافَ تَدبِيرِكَ وَسُرْعَةَ طَواءِ مَقادِيرِكَ مَنَعا عِبادَكَ العارِفِينَ بِكَ عَنِ السُّكُوتِ إلى عَطاءٍ وَاليَأسِ مِنكَ في بَلاءٍ.
“The diversity of Your managements and the hastiness of Your determinations make Your knowing servants not refrain from asking for Your gift and not despair from Your mercy when afflicted with calamities.”
He also says:
كيفَ أشْكو إلَيكَ حَالي وَهُو لا يَخْفی عَليكَ، أمْ كيفَ أَتَرَحَّمُ بِمَقالي وَهُو مِنكَ, بَرزَ إلَيكَ إلى حُكمِكَ النافِذِ وَمَشِيئَتِكَ القاهِرَةِ, لَم يَتْرُكا لِذي مَقالٍ مقالاً وَلا لِذِي حالٍ حالاً.
“How do I complain my state to You whereas it is well-known to You or how do I beseech Your mercy with my words whereas they are from You, To You and to Your inevitable verdict and mighty will. Your rule and will have left to no sayer a saying nor to a powerful one a power.”9
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (s) says:
وَألْهَمْتَنا الإنقِيادَ لِما أوْرَدْتَ عَلَينا مِنْ مَشِيئَتِكَ حَتیّ لا نُحِبَّ تَأخِيرَ ما عَجَّلْتَ وَلا تَعْجيلَ ما أخَّرْتَ وَلا نَكرَهَ ما أحْبَبْتَ ولا نَتَخَيَّرَ ما كرِهْتَ.
“You have inspired us to submit to what You have determined by Your Will so that we do not like delaying what You have hastened or hastening what You have delayed and we do not hate what You like and we do not prefer what You hate.”10
Also, he says:
وَطَيِّبْ بِقَضائِكَ نَفْسي وَوَسِّعْ بِمَواقِعِ حُكمِكَ صَدْري وَهَبْ إلَيَّ الثِّقَةَ لأُقِرَّ مَعَها بأنَّ قَضاءَكَ لَمْ يَجْرِ إلاّ بالخِيَرَةِ.
“O my Lord, delight my soul with Your judgment, please my heart with Your determination and grant me confidence in order to confess that Your judgment does not decide save what is good.”11
Imam Ali (s) says: “The stage of satisfaction is the result of the stage of the true belief.” He introduces the following concept: satisfaction is the source of obedience.12 In Sabah Supplication Imam Ali (s) says:
إلَهي هذِهِ أزْمَّةُ نَفْسي عَقَلْتُها بِعِقالِ مَشِيئَتِكَ.
“O my Lord, this is the rein of my soul. I have tied it with the hobble of Your will.”13
When Abraham (s) was being thrown into the fire, Gabriel asked him: “Do want me to do you anything?” He replied: “As from you, no. Allah is sufficient for me and He is the Protector.” Then Michael came and said: “If you want, I can put out the fire. The sources of waters and rains are in my hand.” But Abraham (s) replied: “No, I do not want that.” Then the Angel of the wind came and said to him: “If you like, I will fly the fire.” Abraham (s) said: “No, I do not.” Then Gabriel said to Abraham (s): “Invoke Allah.” Abraham (s) said: “It suffices me that He knows about my state.”
This is the position of an individual who has no want or desire because he knows the secrets of the creation, the divine determination and the past and the present. This, in fact, is the position of the prophets (s) and the infallible imams (s). These sincere servants of God are so obedient to God that they can know the poison in the water they drink and realize that the dates in al-Ma'amun's court are contaminated with poison. This is because they believe in the divine destiny. They know that this destiny is not changeable; therefore, for them, the only way available is obeying God. Before his departure from Mecca towards Karbala, Imam Husayn (s) said:
وَكأنيّ بِأوْصالي تُقَطِّعُها عسْلانُ الفَلَواتِ بَينَ النّواوِيسِ وَكَرْبَلاء.
“As if I see that the beasts of the deserts (the armies of Kuffa), in the land between Nawawis and Karbala, will cut my limbs apart.”14
Not only Imam Husayn (s), but his beloved and honorable father, Imam Ali (s), too has referred to this matter:
Nasr bin Hazim mentioned in Kitab Siffeen a tradition narrated by al-Hasan bin Katheer that his father had said: “Once Imam Ali (s) came to Kerbala and stopped there. It was said to him: “O Ameerul Mo'mineen, this is Kerbala”. He said: “It is of anguish and affliction”. Then he pointed with his hand at a place and said: “Here will be the place of their camping”15.
He pointed at another place and said: “Here their bloods will be shed”. Then he went on towards Sabat.”16
Nasr bin Hazim also mentioned in his book a tradition narrated by Harthama bin Saleem saying: “We went with Ali bin Abu Talib to fight in the battle of Siffeen. When we arrived at Kerbala, he led us in offering the prayer and when he finished the prayer, he took some soil and smelt it and then he said:
واهاً لَكِ أيَّتُها التّربَةُ، لَيُحْشَرُنَّ مِنكِ قَومٌ يَدخُلُونَ الجَنَّةَ بِغَيرِ حِسابٍ.
“Ah! O you soil! Some people of you (of Karbala) will be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection) and will enter into Paradise without being inquired.”
For this reason, even at the last stage, looking at the sky, Imam Husayn (s) said:
صَبْراً عَلى قَضائِكَ يا رَبِّ، لا إلَهَ سِواكَ يا غِياثَ المُستَغِيثِينَ.
“We are patient before the fate You have determined O our Lord! There is no god save You, O You, the relief of the yearners!”17
This is the stage in which a believer asks God due to faith only. Fatima az-Zahra (s) invokes Allah just before the last moments of her pure life by saying: “O my Lord, I have no one save You to relieve my heart, comfort my soul, delight my eyes, gladden my face, brighten my features and to ease all my self.” In the Arafah Supplication, we read as well:
مِنْكَ أطْلُبُ الوُصولَ إلَيكَ.
“I ask You to let me get to You!”
We also observe the expression:
أنْتَ غايَةُ مَطْلوبي وَمُنايَ.
“You are the end of my hopes and wishes.”
Imam Ali (s) invokes Allah by saying:
إلَهي مَن ذا الّذي ذاقَ حَلاوَةَ مَحَبَّتِكَ فَرامَ مِنْكَ بَدَلاً! وَمَنْ ذا الّذي أنِسَ بِقُرْبِكَ فَابْتَغَى عَنْكَ حِوَلاً!
“O my Lord, would he, who tasted the sweet of Your love, think to resort to other than You? And would he, who became pleased near You, ever try to turn away from You?”
Also he said:
إلَهي فَاسْلُكْ بِنا سُبُلَ الوُصولِ إلَيْكَ وَسَيِّرْنا في أَقْرَبِ الطُّرُقِ لِلوفُودِ عَلَيكَ.
“O my Lord, guide us to the paths that get us to You and make us walk in the nearest ways that take us to you.”
وَاجْعَلْني مِنْ صفْوَتِكَ الّذينَ أقْرَرْتَ أعْيُنَهُم بِالنَّظَرِ إلَيكَ يَومَ لِقائِكَ.
“Make me among Your choice, whom You will delight their eyes by letting them look at You on the day of the meeting with You.”
Imam Husayn (s) invokes Allah by saying:
أطْلُبْني بِرَحْمَتِكَ حَتیّ أصِلَ إلَيكَ.
“O my Lord, grant me Your mercy so that I can get to You.”
Imam Ali (s) prays Allah by saying:
وَأسْتَشْفِعُ بكَ إلى نَفْسِكَ… وَهَبْ لِيَ الجِدَّ في خَشْيَتِكَ وَالدَّوامَ في الاتِّصالِ بِخِدْمَتِكَ… وَأدْنُوَ مِنْكَ دُنُوَّ المُخْلصِينَ وأجْتَمِعَ في جِوارِكَ مَع المُؤمِنينَ.
“I intercede with You by You O my Lord, grant me to be serious in fearing You and in keeping on serving You… to be close to You as the closeness of the sincere ones and to be near You with the believers.”
This is the position of an individual whose request “I invoke You to let me get to You” has been accepted and has reached such a state in which “no body thinks to ask for such a position.” In Al-Ziyarah Al-Jami'ah, we read:
فَبَلغَ اللهُ بِكُم أشْرفَ مَحلَّ المُكْرَمينَ وأعْلى مَنازِلِ المُقَرَّبينَ وأرْفَعَ دَرَجاتِ المُرسَلِينَ حَيثُ لا يَلْحَقُهُ لاحِقٌ وَلا يَفوقُهُ فائِقٌ وَلا يَسْبِقُه سابِقٌ وَلا يَطْمَعُ في إدْراكِهِ طامِعٌ حَتىّ لا يَبْقى مَلَكٌ مُقَرَّبٌ وَلا نَبِيٌّ مُرْسَلٌ وَلا صِدّيقٌ وَلا شَهيدٌ وَلا عَالِمٌ وَلا جاهِلُ إلاّ عَرَّفَهُم جَلالَةَ أمْرِكُم.
“Allah has granted you with the most honored position, the highest rank of the closest ones (to Allah) and the highest positions of the prophets that no one reaches, exceeds, precedes or ever thinks to get. There is no angel, prophet, truthful one, martyr, learned or unlearned man unless Allah has made them know your loftiness.”
And this is special to the infallible imams (s). Allamah Tabatabai has a significant and delicate elegy which begins with the following line:
In this elegy, he depicts the midnight at a garden in such a way that the human soul soars high in the skies. He has seen candles and butterflies intimate with flowers and nightingales and he has written:
At this juncture, the nightingale makes a protest against the silent butterfly saying:
And finally the butterfly reaches a point where:
The delicate point to be observed in the supplications of the infallible imams (s) is that they have left for the believers an ocean of knowledge from which each individual takes according to his capability. These beloved ones have instructed us to take our wants and desires, either small or big, from our God. The secret behind this issue is that these honorable ones have established a school, which instructs everybody. These scholars have opened up the doors of prosperity to every body. Thus, in supplication a special aptitude is not required.
The educational school of supplication is different from other schools that everybody can take in it freely and everybody can benefit from it in accordance with his specific taste. In other words, the inclusive nature of the knowledge of the infallible imams (s) makes their knowledge so pervasive that everybody can enjoy it anywhere in the world and is not specific for a location; it is in accordance with:
يا مَنْ دَنا فٍِي عُلُوِّهِ وَيا مَنْ عَلا في دُنُوِّهِ.
“O You, Who are near although You are so high and high even in Your nearness.”
And this delicate issue can be found only in the school of supplication, and not in other educational schools. In those schools it is compulsory to know that philosophy is prior to Gnostics, to know that logic is prior to the study of philosophy and to know that sciences are prior to the study of philosophy. In the educational schools of supplication such requirements are not needed. Everybody is sitting around the table of the divine assets to get his share.
Knowing God has effects on the believers, who take part in supplication. This knowledge influences the hastiness of the acceptance of supplication by Allah. This knowledge also has effects on the quality and quantity of supplication, on selecting the wording and their annunciation. Concerning this subject, Imam al-Kadhim (s) said when some people had asked him that why they invoked Allah but He did not respond to them: “Because you invoke the One, whom you do not know.”18
Some people said to Imam as-Sadiq (s): “We invoke God, but our supplication is not responded to. Imam as-Sadiq (s) said:
لأنَّكُمْ تَدعونَ مَنْ لا تَعْرِفُونَهُ.
“You invoke One, whom you do not recognize.”
Knowing God makes a supplicant so enchanted that he forgets his wish and gets absorbed in the supplication itself. Here the attention towards supplication becomes the focal point. The love towards God draws us to supplication. The supplicant under these circumstances does not wish for disconnection with God. The Prophet (s) has said concerning this matter:
أفْضَلُ النّاسِ مَنْ عَشِقَ العِبادَةَ فَعانَقَها بِنَفْسهِ وَباشَرَها بِجَسَدِهِ وتَضَرَّع لها فَهوَ لا يُبالي عَلی ما أصْبَحَ مِنَ الدّنيا عَلي عُسْرٍ أو يُسْرٍ.
“The best of people is he, who loves worship and embraced it and undertakes it wholeheartedly and does not care whether his life is easy or troubled.”19
Ma'ath ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet (s) had said:
لَوْ عَرفْتُمُ اللهَ حَقَّ مَعرِفَتِهِ لَزالَتْ لِدُعائِكمُ الجِبالُ.
“If you know Allah as He is, you will move the mountains with your supplication.”
Under this tradition, Allamah Tabataba’i says:
The secret of this problem lies in the fact that the ignorance of God's kingdom gradually brings about this illusion that the means are effective and that each effect is based on a predetermined cause. Sometimes man believes that these causes are definite and nothing can replace them. For instance, we see that movement and speed take us to our destination. But if our knowledge n monotheism develops, we will lose this belief and will consider movement, not as an independent factor; rather we will consider Allah as the effective Mover and movement as intermediary.
As a summary, we believe that the effects follow their means and stimuli closely even if the stimuli do not act independently. The genuine effects are caused by the Great Causer and the means and stimuli are intermediary. We should reach such a degree of recognition that we could put the events in their real positions. As a result man should observe the Qur'anic etiquette; i.e. he should never assume that the effects are independent; he should know that all the creatures are created. He should not forget the intermediary status of the superficial means and stimuli. He should, as well, be aware that Allah had created the world on the principle of cause and effect.
Here we will present some evidences from the verses of the Qur'an and from some supplications on monotheism. In the Holy Qur'an, we read:
وَقُلْ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ.
“And say: All praise is due to Allah, Who has not taken a son and Who has no partner in the kingdom. 17:111”
ذَلِكُمْ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ.
“That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of everything. 40:62”
أَفَلَمْ يَنْظُرُوا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَوْقَهُمْ كَيْفَ بَنَيْنَاهَا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا وَمَا لَهَا مِنْ فُرُوجٍ. وَالْأَرْضَ مَدَدْنَاهَا وَأَلْقَيْنَا فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ . تَبْصِرَةً وَذِكْرَى لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مُنِيبٍ. وَنَزَّلْنَا مِنْ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً مُبَارَكًا فَأَنْبَتْنَا بِهِ جَنَّاتٍ وَحَبَّ الْحَصِيدِ. وَالنَّخْلَ بَاسِقَاتٍ لَهَا طَلْعٌ نَضِيدٌ. رِزْقًا لِلْعِبَادِ وَأَحْيَيْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَيْتًا كَذَلِكَ الْخُرُوجُ.
Do they not then look up to the Heaven above them now We have made it and adorned it and it has no gaps? And the earth, we have made it plain and cast in it mountains and we have made to grow therein of all beautiful kinds; to give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns frequently to Allah; and we send down from the cloud water abounding in good, then we cause to grow thereby gardens and the grain that is reaped; And the tall palm-trees having spadices closely set one above another; a sustenance for the servants, and we give life thereby to a dead land; thus is the rising. 50:6-11”
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ.
And you do not please except that Allah pleases. 76:30”
Monotheism is the most observable issue in the supplications of the infallible imams (s). Imam Ali (s) says:
وَبِأسْمائِكَ الّتي مَلأَتْ أرْكانَ كلِّ شَيءٍ.
“I beg you with Your attributes that have occupied everything.”
Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
بِيَدِكَ لا بِيَدِ غَيرِكَ زِيادَتي وَنَقْصِي وَنَفْعي وَضَرّي.
“It is in Your hands, and not in the hands of anyone else, every abundance, every defect, every benefit and every harm of mine.”
Thus, the etiquette in worshipping, especially at the time of the involvement in supplication, forces us to turn and to rely on God only and to forget anything except God. This principle is of utmost importance because if we rely only on God and think about nothing else, then we will worship with all our bodies and souls. The Prophet (s) has said:
يَقُولُ اللهُ سُبحانَهُ: أنا خَيرُ شَريكٍ. مَنِ أشْرَكَ مَعِيَ شَريكاً مِنْ عَمَلِهِ فَهوَ لَشَريكِي دُوني لأنّي لا أقْبَلُ إلاّ ما أُخْلِصَ لي.
“The Almighty God says: I am the best partner. He, who offers some of his doings to a partner other than Me, I will leave him to My partner because I do not accept save what is offered sincerely to Me.”2066
The Almighty God does not like His servants to recognize any partner with Him. He considers this act as a great defect. The following holy verse refers to this kind of association:
وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُمْ مُشْرِكُونَ.
“And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others with Him. 12:106”
The following holy verse teaches us to set aside the concept of any partnership with God so that our sincere supplications may save us from great calamities:
هُوَ الْحَيُّ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ.
“He is the Living, there is no god but He, therefore call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience. 40:65”
It is reported that among the issues which Allah has revealed to Jesus Christ (s) is the following:
يا عِيسى، ادْعُنِي دُعاءَ الغَريقِ الحَزينِ الّذِي لَيسَ لهُ مُغِيثٌ. أذِلَّ لي قَلْبَكَ وَأكْثِرْ ذِكرِي في الخَلَواتِ.
“O Jesus! Call on Me like a depressed drowning person who has no rescuer. Make your heart yield to Me and remember me in privacy.”21
The Almighty God mentions in the Qur'an the story of Prophet Yonus (Jonah) and his sincere prayer at the time of depression:
وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَى فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ. فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنْ الْغَمِّ وَكَذَلِكَ نُنْجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ.
“And Yunus, when he went away in wrath, so he thought that we would not straiten him, so he called out among darkness: There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee; surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss. So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief, and thus do We deliver the believers. 21:87-88”
This verse describes the horrible event that has happened to Prophet Yonus (s) who was in the darkness, inside the whale's stomach, deep in the sea. He was prisoned there and he was hopeless. He knew that God was the only One, who could rescue him. He invoked Allah by saying: “There is no god but You.” He begged Allah after confessing his defect.
فَلَوْلَا أَنَّهُ كَانَ مِنْ الْمُسَبِّحِينَ. لَلَبِثَ فِي بَطْنِهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ.
“But had it not been that he was of those who glorify us; He would certainly have tarried in its belly to the day when they are resurrected. 37:143-144”
It is indeed correct to say that the sincerely-uttered supplication saves man from dangerous afflictions. This means where wealth, power, intellect and wisdom are important, a mid-night worship gets us free of all calamities on condition that we recognize our beloved God, love Him and ascribe all powers to Him.
In Uddat al-Da'ee there is a tradition narrated by Muhammad bin Ajlan from Muhammad bin Ubaydillah bin Ali bin al-Husayn from his cousin from Imam as-Sadiq (s) from his fathers that the Prophet (s) had said: Allah the Almighty, revealed to one of His prophets concerning his guardians:
وَعِزَّتي وَجَلالِي لأقْطَعَنَّ أمَلَ كُلِّ آمِلٍ أملَ غَيرِي بِاليَأسِ وَلأكْسُوَنَّهُ ثَوبَ الذِّلَّةِ في النّاسِ وَلأُبْعِدَنَّهُ مِن فَرَجِي وَفَضْلي؛ أيَأمَلُ عَبدِي فِي الشَّدائِدِ غَيرِي وَالشَّدائِدُ بِيَدِي؟ وَيَرْجُو سِوايَ وَأنا الغَنِيُّ الجَوادُ بِيَدِي مَفاتِيحُ الأبْوابِ وَهِي مُغْلَقَةٌ وَبَابي مَفْتوحٌ لِمَنْ دَعانِي.
I swear by My magnanimity and Honor that I will cut the desire and wish of anyone, who relies on other than Me and will dress him in the dress of ignominy among people and I will deprive him of My favors. Does my servant rely on other than Me during afflictions whereas the afflictions are in My hands? Does he expect other than Me while I am the Self-sufficient, the Praised? I have the keys of the gates, which are closed, whereas My gate is open to everyone, who calls upon Me.
The Prophet (s) said that Allah the Almighty says:
مَا مِنْ مَخْلوقٍ يَعْتَصِمُ بِمَخْلوقٍ دُوني إلاّ قَطَعْتُ أسْبابَ السَّمٰواتِ وأسْبابَ الأرضِ مِن دونِهِ فَإنْ سَألَني لَمْ أُعْطِهْ وَإنْ دَعاني لَمْ أُجِبْهُ، وَما مِنْ مَخْلوقٍ يَعْتَصِمُ بي دونَ خَلقِي إلاّ ضَمِنَتِ السَّمٰواتُ وَالأرضُ رِزقَهُ، فَإنْ دَعاني أجَبْتُهُ وإنْ سَألَني أعْطَيْتُهُ وَإنِ اسْتَغْفَرَني غَفَرْتُ لَهُ.
If a creature resorts to another creature instead of Me, I will deprive him of the means of the heavens and the earth. If he asks Me for something, I will not give him and if he invokes Me, I will not respond to him. But if a creature resorts to Me rather than any of My creatures, the heavens and earth will insure his livelihood. If he calls upon Me, I will respond to him, if he asks Me for anything I will give him and if he asks Me to forgive him, I will forgive him.”22
In Tafseer Al-Mizan, after mentioning the following two traditions, which talk about depriving one, who resorts to any other creature rather than Allah, of all means of prosperity, we read:
What we understand from these two traditions is that supplication should be uttered sincerely and should not negate the Great Cause behind all causes. This is because everybody knows that there are causes and effects in this world but the Great Cause is behind the all. These causes are not independent of the Great Cause, however.
To explain the above issue, we should add that man, through his inner nature, knows that for his wants there is a Giver, whose actions are under His control, and is aware, as well, that the superficial stimuli and means to which he resorts are not absolute.
Therefore, man recognizes that the origin, in which all the control rests and the pillar, on which he depends to satisfy his desires, are something different from these superficial means. It is compulsory for man not to depend entirely on these means and not to forget the existence of the Absolute Cause.
Man, with the slightest attention, will comprehend this issue. Now if he asks for something and his needs are satisfied, he will find out that his asking is really addressed to God. Here the Cause is God. Now suppose he asked the same thing from some other cause, he should know that this cause can not satisfy his needs. In this case a wrong assumption has made him assume the wrong giver as the real Giver. In this case we see that man's inner nature is different from his apparent one.
A good example on this case is when a person loves something and tries hard to get it. But then he realizes that what he has got is a hindrance on the way of his other benefits which are more significant and dearer to him. Now he has to put it aside and goes to the dearer one. The opposite is also true. He might abhor something and escapes it to secure his other benefits but accidentally he comes across it and finds out that it is even more profitable than the other things.
A sick child refuses to have the bitter medicine although he wants to recover his health soon. This child, through his intelligence, asks for his health, using his nature tongue, despite the fact that he asks for its opposite through his mouth's tongue and his actions.
Thus man has two systems: one is his innate nature and his innate intelligence, the other system is his imagination. His innate nature guards him against errors. But his imagination and assumption puts him in the wrong way. It very often happens that man asks for something on the basis of imagination, but he does not understand that, through this asking, he indeed is asking for the opposite thing.
The author of Uddat al-Da'ee reports from the Prophet (s) his saying:
إدْعوا اللهَ وَأَنتُم مُوقِنونَ بِالإجَابَةِ.
“Invoke Allah while being sure of His response.”
In this expression, this scholar refers to one of the secrets of God. He explains:
● Sincerity in supplication should be observed: we should be aware that the Absolute Cause is God. Therefore we should not associate Him with anyone else.
● Sincerity is the absolute attention to the Real Cause: therefore, associating anybody with Allah is something impermissible. If we see that our want is satisfied, we should know that we have resorted to God. Then, the meaning of that heavenly tradition becomes clear. It declares: “If one resorts to somebody other than Me, My favors would not reach him.” Therefore, in those situations when the causes have satisfied one's needs, it is due to God. Sometimes a man does not superficially recognize God, but his inner nature is familiar with God.
But sometimes this drowsy nature is awakened through man's knowing inner-being. A good proof is the holy verse:
فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوْا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ.
“So when they ride in the ships they call upon Allah, being sincerely obedient to Him, but when He brings them safe to the land, they associate others (with Him). 29:65”
The strange thing is that man has not previously believed in God, but now he sincerely calls upon Him.
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتَكُمْ إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ عَذَابُ اللَّهِ أَوْ أَتَتْكُمْ السَّاعَةُ أَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ تَدْعُونَ.
“Say: Tell me if the chastisement of Allah should overtake you or the hour should come upon you, will you call on others besides Allah? 6:40”
قُلْ مَنْ يُنَجِّيكُمْ مِنْ ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ تَدْعُونَهُ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً لَئِنْ أَنجَانَا مِنْ هَذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنْ الشَّاكِرِينَ قُلْ اللَّهُ يُنَجِّيكُمْ مِنْهَا وَمِنْ كُلِّ كَرْبٍ ثُمَّ أَنْتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ.
“Say: Who is that delivers you from the dangers of the land and the sea when you call upon Him openly humiliating yourselves, and in secret: If He delivers us from this, we should certainly be of the grateful ones. Say: It is Allah that delivereth you from these and all (other) distresses: and yet ye worship false gods! 6:63-64”
● With a little attention we would come to the conclusion that we should not pay whole attention to these destructible means and we should be aware that the Great Cause is somewhere else.
● Cause and effectiveness of the creatures are not deniable, but the thing we should be aware of is the fact that none of the creatures are independent of this effectiveness; rather, they are intermediary means, which are established by God, between He Himself and other creatures and their effect over one another is in accordance with the system of the creation.
● We should recognize that most of the strength of the effective factors are neuter by nature and we should not depend on their results. This is because there are numerous unrecognized agents. Sometimes these agents have acted inversely. For instance, some factors were previously reckoned as good but turned out to be pernicious. Imam Ali (s) says:
أيُّها النّاسُ؛ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ لاقٍ ما يَفِرُّ مِنْهُ فِي فَرارِه. الأجَلُ مُساقُ النّفسِ وَالهَربُ مِنه مُوافاتُه.
“O people, every one will meet what he escapes from. The fate (death) is the destination of the soul. Escaping from it will lead to it.”23
Thus each organism will go on the path, which the creation system has predetermined for. But our understanding of the general system of cause and effect is in fact in accordance with our mental capability. This is confirmed in the Holy Qur'an:
وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا.
“And you are not given aught of knowledge but a little. 17:85”
Imam Ali (s) once was asked: “How have you recognized your god?” He answered:
بِفَسْخِ العَزائِمِ وَنَقْضِ الهِمَمِ، لَمّا هَمَمْتُ فَحِيلَ بَينِي وَبَينَ هَمّي وَعَزَمْتُ فَخَالفَ القَضاءُ عَزمِي عَلِمْتُ أنّ المُدَبِّرَ غَيرِي.
“I recognized God through revoking the determinations and breaking the intentions. When I determined and I was prevented from achieving my determination and I intended and the fate contradicted my intention, I realized that the administrator was other than me.”24
Although everybody tries to explain the relation between the “cause and effect” and frantically attempts to bring the events to fruiting, it will not be easy to recognize these relations entirely. The poet says:
Of course, it should be noted that Allah has put the world of causes in contrast with the world of effects, in such a way that each one modifies the other. Thus, we read in the Qur'an:
وَالسَّابِحَاتِ سَبْحًا. فَالسَّابِقَاتِ سَبْقًا. فَالْمُدَبِّرَاتِ أَمْرًا.
”[I swear] by those who float in space, then those who are foremost going ahead, then those who regulate the affair. 79:3-5”
This is interpreted to mean that those angels, who speed up and excel the others, are the true managers and they will dominate the others.25
● It is frequently observed that there is an indestructible, imperishable and absolute cause at work, which if being asked will answer our needs. This Absolute Cause does not falter and its effect is inevitable.
● The human nature has recognized this Absolute Cause and has known that it is always at work. The common sense, too, will accept this. But sometimes our imaginations force us to adopt the pseudo-cause for the real-cause and we like our wishes to come true through these unrealistic means. Such cases are usually void of common sense and the innate intelligence has rejected them.
Here the imaginative factors have led the way. It often happens that our inner being asks God for something, but our imagination asks for something else. This is like the sick person, whose inner being (his nature) asks for health and wishes for medicine, but his imaginative system forces him to escape taking the medicine. It also happens that an individual asks for the negative side of something and escapes the positive side of it; but when it becomes clear to him that what he has been escaping from has been more profitable than what he has wished to keep.
The Holy Qur'an deals with the issue of closeness in different verses. A close look at them will illuminate:
When the Almighty God invites the servants through different expressions, He uses different techniques. For instance, sometimes He makes use of the third person pronoun in referring to Himself and asks us to refer to Him in this way:
وأدعوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا إِنَّ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِنْ الْمُحْسِنِينَ.
“And call on Him fearing and hoping; surely the mercy of Allah is nigh to those who do good to others. 7:56”
It seems as though there was a big distance between the Creator and the creatures and the earth-dwellers should remember God and then send their hearts towards the sky-dwellers and then, through the close angels, they reach the presence of God the Almighty. Then man should wait for the answer to reach him through certain means.
Sometimes Allah would select a closer approach and would send the good news to the earth through his Messenger.
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِي إِذَا دَعَانِي فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ.
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way. 2:186”
Due to much attention, man could feel deep in his heart the true meaning of the verse:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ.
“Most surely Allah is Affectionate, Merciful to the people. 2:143”
One can also fill his heart with the generosity of that Great Generous One. Imam al-Baqir (s) in this concern says:
مَكتُوبٌ في التّوراةِ الّتي لَمْ تُغَيَّرْ أنَّ مُوسى سَألَ رَبَّهُ فَقالَ: يا رَبِّ، أقَريبٌ مِنيّ فَأُناجِيكَ أمْ بَعيدٌ فَأُنادِيكَ؟ فَأوْحى اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إلَيهِ: يا مُوسى، أنا جَلِيسُ مَنْ ذَكَرَني.
It is written in Torah which has not been distorted that Moses (s) has asked his God: “O God, are you close to me to talk with You, or You are far so that I may call You?” God revealed to him: “O Moses, I associate with anybody who calls on Me.”1
The Great Prophet (s) in Sha'banieh Sermon says:
وَارْفَعوا إلَيهِ أيْدِيَكُم بِالدُّعاءِ في أوْقاتِ صَلَواتِكُم فَإنَّها أفْضَلُ السّاعاتِ، يَنْظُرُ اللهُ تَعالى فِيها بِالرَّحْمَةِ إلى عِبادِهِ يُجِيبُهُم إذَا ناجَوهُ وَيُلَبِّيهِمْ إذا نادَوهُ.
“During your prayers raise your hands to engage in supplication because the prayer time is the best time. At that time Allah looks on His servants mercifully and if they call on Him, He will respond.”
Al-Koleyni, on the issue of the requirements of supplication writes: “First, say “ya rabb: O God” ten times and then say “rabb”. This is because man feels himself distant from Allah. He will call Him with vocative sign. Sometimes this sign is explicitly mentioned and sometimes it is deleted. But when he comes closer to Allah, he will use the vocative sign less and will resort to whisper.
At this stage Allah is so close to His servants that He says:
وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْكُمْ وَلَكِنْ لَا تُبْصِرُونَ.
“And we are nearer to it than you, but you do not see. 56:85”
This verse refers to the generosity and pardoning of Allah. The verse indicates a significant secret and discloses a strange hidden point: God has not employed distance as a measure; rather, He introduces His Closeness in such a way difficult to be comprehended. This verse notifies the one, who is embracing a dying man that Allah is close to him.
Concerning this, Imam As-Sadiq (s) says:
“Imam Hasan (s) was busy praying when somebody crossed in front of him. Some one of the attendants prevented him. When Imam Hasan (s) finished his prayer, he said to the man: why did you prevent him from crossing? The man said: “O son of the messenger of Allah, he crossed between you and your mihrab. Imam Hasan (s) said:
وَيْحَكَ! إنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أقْرَبُ إلَيَّ مِنْ أنْ يَخْطُرَ فِيما بَينِي وَبَيْنَهُ أحَدٌ.
“Woe to you! God is so close to me that no one can intervene between Him and me.”
Here, mihrab (praying-place) is used to absorb one's attention to one specific point.
In the Qur'anic verse:
وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ.
“And We are nearer to him than his life-vein. 50:16”
God refers to another secret and gives good news to the true believers and the monotheists, i.e., God is closer to man than his life. This verse depicts the relation between God and man. This shows firstly that if we comprehend the situation, we do not have any other choice than to resort to Allah and secondly it clarifies the sacred tradition (O Moses, I am your necessary piety).
And let us know that the only resort at the time of depression is Allah. If man pays constant attention to God, he will be engulfed in the world of light and life will be of a different flavor to him and he will behave differently than the others. His world will change and life will be interesting to him since he will be surrounded by the infinite sea of knowledge. He will always be delighted as long as he is with his love. Every moment he adds something to his virtues.
Imam Ali (s) was one of those, who had conquered this mount of knowledge and tasted the flavor of being close to his love. Seyyid Ibn Tawus says:
Habbah al-Arani says: when Nouf and I were sleeping in the yard of the Governor's building we saw Ali (s) putting his hands against the wall like a distracted person. He was whispering: “Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are sings for men who understand…etc.”2
Habbah al-Arani adds: “Ali (s) was reciting these verses and was walking about like one, who has lost his mind. Then he told me: Are you asleep or awake? I answered I was awake. “If you are in this condition, so what about us then?” Then Imam Ali (s) stared at the ground and begun crying. He, then, said to me: “Allah knows everything we do. O Habba, Allah is closer to us than our life-veins. He knows everything”.
Then he added: “O Nouf! Are you awake? He said: “Yes, I am awake”. Imam Ali (s) then gave them some advice. He advised them to fear God. Then he said: “O God, I do not know whether You care for me or not. I wish I knew how I should be with the amount of sins that I have committed. Nouf says: “Imam Ali (s) was still in this state until the dawn.”3
A verse, which is more exciting than the previous verses, is the one, whose comprehension is in the domain of the believers and the sincere gnostics, who are really rare in the creation system. In this sacred verse we read:
أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ.
“Allah intervenes between man and his heart. 8:24”
Thus man belongs to God and he is in direct relation with the Great love. Hafiz, the Iranian poet says:
In this process, if a person could, by good luck, stay on the right path and delve deep inside himself, he will realize that he is a servant of God before becoming an independent being and that he does not possess any prestige and identity except being a servant to God, the Almighty. At such a stage he will find the necessity to submit to God. Since he may not separate himself from the great love, he is proud to be permanently at God's presence. He is not ready to lose such a status. This is such a great honor for him that he does not wish to let it go. Imam Ali (s) says:
اَللّهُمّ كَتَبْتَ الآثامَ وَاطَّلَعْتَ عَلى السَّرائِرِ وَحَلَلْتَ بَينَ القُلوبِ، فَالقُلُوبُ إلَيكَ مُصْغِيَةٌ وَالسَّرُّ عِندَكَ عَلانِيَةٌ.
“O God! You have registered our sins, You are aware of the inners of people and You are between man and his heart. The hearts are submissive to You and the secrets are open before You.”4
This stage corresponds with the following two Qur'anic verses:
وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ.
“And Allah's is the East and the West, therefore, whither you turn, thither is Allah's purpose; surely Allah is Ample-giving, knowing. 2:115”
وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ.
“And call not with Allah any other god; there is no god but He; everything is perishable but He; His is the judgement, and to Him you shall be brought back. 28:88”
At this stage, a well-informed subject of God, sees the world as God's presence and recognizes a will-power dominating the whole creation. This is because man is familiar with the attributes of the Great Initiator.
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ طُوبَى لَهُمْ وَحُسْنُ مَآبٍ.
“As for those who believe and do good, a good final state shall be theirs and a goodly return. 13:29”
لِمَنْ الْمُلْكُ الْيَوْمَ لِلَّهِ الْوَاحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ.
“To whom belongs the kingdom this day? To Allah, the One, the Subduer of all. 40:16”
خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ وَفِي ذَلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسْ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ.
“The sealing of it is (with) musk; and for that let the aspirers aspire. 83:26”
This is complete self-denial and believing in the content of the following holy verse:
هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنٌ.
“He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things. 57:3”
These seven stages are, in fact, the natural direction for human perfection which is clearly depicted in the Holy Qur'an. Meanwhile, the ignorant ones are going away from the right path. It is as though there is nothing in this world except superficial pleasures.
Being away from God is the most hazardous of all calamities of mankind. It is so misleading that it causes man to disconnect from God and concentrate wholly on material issues. What a losing deal! Our heart, which, by nature, is the place for God's secrets, is filled with wishes and whims.5 Imam Husayn (s) says:
أنْتَ الّذي أَزَلْتَ الأغْيارَ عَنْ قُلوبِ أحِبّائِكَ حَتىّ لَمْ يُحِبُّوا سِواكَ وَلَمْ يَلْجَأوا إلى غَيرِكَ.
“You have removed the others from the hearts of Your lovers until they have not loved other than You and have not resorted to other than You.”
If anybody paid sufficient attention to this issue, he would not stop weeping and would regret his wasting time. Then he would start all over again paying full attention to the way he has selected.
إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ.
“Surely the vilest of animals, in Allah's sight, are the deaf, the dumb, who do not understand. 8:22”
In fact, the verses of the Qur'an cover all stages of human development, from the very lowest stage of human fall to the highest degree of human status. These verses want us to move in the right direction. A cursory comparison between the following two verses Clearly shows the distance between two ways of thinking:
َأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ.
“Whither you turn, thither is Allah's purpose. 2:115”
إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ.
“Surely the vilest of animals, in Allah's sight, are the deaf, the dumb, who do not understand. 8:22”
The ambitious, self-centered man, who interprets everything in the light of his own desires, at the time of dying suddenly becomes aware of the great loss of having wasted his time and realizes that he has not done anything in this world for the hereafter. This state is depicted clearly in the verse of the Qur'an:
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”
At this time they regret what they have lost.
أَنْ تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَا عَلَى مَا فَرَّطْتُ فِي جَنْبِ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتُ لَمِنْ السَّاخِرِينَ.
“Lest a soul should say: O woe to me! For what I fell short of my duty to Allah and most surely I was of those who laughed to scorn. 39:56”
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”
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 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 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 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, 78:38”3 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”
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The school of supplication has numerous features in which sublime intentions are set by the sacred legislator to educate people. Here reference will be made to some of them:
One of the most significant features in the sphere of education is the fact that in all supplications we may not find a case where the causation is referred to non-God or non-divine names. In other words, in all these supplications the Absolute Cause is God and nothing can ever take place without His consent.
Among the divine knowledge and sciences, the closest science to this school is Gnosticism which ascribes to God the cause of creating all the creatures and that every creature in the world stems from one of God's positions and features. Thus, one of the features of the infallible ones (s) is to guide their followers towards the supreme God.
Regarding this issue, Allamah Tabataba’i distinguishes between the Shiite Gnosticism and the common Gnosticism and he says that “in the verses, traditions and supplications there is a special system which paves the way for the Gnostic and the believer”. Thus, in the behaviors and manners of all these great men of virtues in the school of the infallible imams (s) we may not see anything against the common sense and the rational thinking. Great men such as Seyyid Ibn Tawus, Seyyed Bahroi uloom, Ibn Fahd al-Hilli, Allamah Tabataba’i and his great teachers, whose manners and behaviors had been based on the basis of those of the infallible imams (s), are good examples. All these men are among the elite scholars in the employment of the verses of the Qur'an, traditions and the commands of the school of the infallible imams (s).
In order to depict this significant feature of the infallible imams (s), we will refer to some supplications. This will lead us to appreciate the magnificent content of these sacred texts. Of course, in each supplication only those parts are referred to that are crucial to our argumentation:
In Simat supplication we see that God's name appears in the opening passage:
اَللّهُمّ إنِّي أسْألُكَ بِاسْمِكَ العَظيِمِ الأعْظَمِ الأجَلِّ الأكْرَمِ الّذي إذا دُعِيتَ بهِ عَلى مَغالِقِ أبْوابِ السَّماءِ لِلفَتْحِ بِالرَّحْمَةِ انْفَتَحَتْ وإذا دُعِيتَ بهِ عَلى مَضايِقِ أبْوابِ الأرْضِ لِلفَرَجِ انْفَرَجَتْ.
“O Allah! I invoke You with Your Great Name which is greater than your names, more glorious than Your names and more beloved than them. I invoke You with this name, with which if You are invoked to open the locks of the gates of the Heaven they will be opened with mercy and if You are invoked with it to open up the narrow gates of the earth with deliverance they will be opened up”.
وَبِحِكْمَتِكَ الّتي خَلَقْتَ بِها الظُّلْمَةَ وَجَعَلْتَها لَيلاً سَكَناً وَخَلَقْتَ بِها النُّورَ وَجَعَلْتَهُ نَهاراً وَخَلَقْتَ بِها الشَّمْسَ وَخَلَقْتَ بِها القَمَرَ وَخَلَقْتَ بِها الكَواكِبَ وَجَعَلْتَها نُجوماً.
“…and with Your wisdom, by which You have created darkness and made it as calmness at night and created light and made it as day and created the sun, the moon and the planets and made them as stars.”
In the supplication of “al-Jawshan al-Kabir” God is given a thousand names, each name of which relates to one aspect of the creation.
يا مَنْ لهُ المُلْكُ وَالكَمالُ، يا مُنْشِئَ السَّحابِ الثِّقالِ, يا صَانِعَ كُلِّ مَصنوعٍ, يا خَالقَ كُلِّ مَخلوقٍ, يا رازِقَ كُلِّ مَرزوقٍ, يا مُصَوِّرُ يا مُقَدِّرُ يا مُدَبِّرُ, يا مَنْ كُلُّ شَيءٍ مَوجودٌ بهِ, يا مَنْ كُلُّ شَيءٍ قائِمٌ بهِ, يا رَبَّ الحُبوبِ وَالثِّمارِ, يا رَبَّ الأنْهارِ وَالأشْجارِ, يا رَبَّ الصَّحاري وَالقِفارِ, يا رَبَّ البَراري والبِحارِ, يا رَبِّ اللَّيلِ وَالنَّهارِ, يا مَنْ نَفَذَ في كُلِّ شَيءٍ أمْرُهُ, يا مَن لَحِقَ بِكُلِّ شَيءٍ عِلمُهُ, يا مَن لا مُلْكَ إلاّ مُلكُهُ, يا مَن لا عَطاءَ إلاّ عَطاؤهُ.
“O God, I invoke You, Who have the absolute domination and perfection, Who have created the heavy clouds, Who have made every thing, Who have created every creature, Who have provided everyone and everything with the means of subsistence, O You, the Creator of the universe, the Manager of the worlds, O You, Whom everything is existed because of, Whom everything relies on, O You, the God of the seeds and the fruits, the God of the rivers and the trees, the God of the deserts and the wilderness, the God of the wild lands and the seas, the God of the night and the day, O You, Whose command has prevailed over everything, Whose knowledge has covered everything, O You, Who there is no kingdom except His, Who there is no gift except His.”
On the issue of the revolution of the world and the want and desire of every creature to be absorbed by God, we read:
يا مَنْ لا مَفْزَعَ إلاّ إلَيهِ، يا مَنْ لا مَقْصدَ إلاّ إلَيهِ.
“O God, Who are the shelter for every creature and the One to Whom every creature resorts.”
We also read:
يا مَنْ كُلُّ شَيءٍ صائِرٌ إلَيهِ.
“O God, to Whom everything returns.”
In Rajabiyya Supplication, we read as well:
أسْألُكَ بِاسْمِكَ الأعْظَمِ الأجَلِّ الأكْرَمِ الّذي وَضَعْتَهُ عَلى النَّهارِ فَأضاءَ وَعَلى اللّيلِ فأظْلَمَ.
“I invoke You with Your greatest, most honored and most glorious attribute, which You have put on the day and it has lit and put on the night and it has become dark.”
We read in the Sabah supplication:
يا مَنْ دَلَعَ لِسانَ الصّباحِ بِنُطْقِ تَبَلُّجِهِ وَسَرَّحَ قِطَعَ اللّيلِ المُظْلِمِ بِغَياهِبِ تَلَجْلُجِهِ وَأتْقَنَ صُنْعَ الفَلَكِ الدَّوّارِ بِمَقادِيرِ تَبَرُّجِهِ وَشَعْشَعَ ضِياءَ الشّمْسِ بِنُورِ تَأجُّجِهِ، وَخَلَقْتَ بِلُطْفِكَ الفَلَقَ وَأَنَرْتَ بِكَرَمِكَ دَياجِيَ الغَسَقِ وَأنْهَرْتَ المِياهَ مِن الصُّمِّ الصَّياخِيدِ عَذْباً وَأُجاجاً وَأنْزَلْتَ مِن المُعْصِراتِ ماءً سَجّاجاً وَجَعَلتَ الشّمْسَ والقَمَرَ لِلبريَّةِ سِراجاً وهّاجاً.
“O You, Who have made the morning shine with brightness, released the night with darkness, mastered the circulating orbits, made the sun shine with Your light…O you, Who have created the dawn with Your kindness, descended the dusk with Your generosity, flown waters from among solid rocks, poured from the clouds pure water and have made the sun and the moon as shining lamps for Your peoples.”
It is mentioned in Kumayl supplication:
وَبِقُوَّتِكَ الّتي قَهَرْتَ بِها كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَبِعِزَّتِكَ الّتي لا يَقُومُ لَها شَيءٌ وَبِعَظَمَتِكَ الّتي مَلأَتْ كُلَّ شَيءٍ وَبِأسْمائِكَ الّتي مَلأَتْ أرْكانَ كُلِّ شَيءٍ.
“…and with Your power, with which You have defeated everything, with Your glory that nothing ever equals, with Your greatness that has filled everything and with Your attributes that have filled the corners of everything…”
And we read in the thirty sixth supplication of Sahifa:
وَأنْزِلْ عَلَينا نَفْغَ هَذِهِ السَّحابِ وَبَرَكَتَها وَاصْرِفْ عَنّا أذَاها وَمَضَرَّتَها, اَللّهُمّ أذهِبْ مَحلَ بِلادِنا بِسُقْياكَ وأخْرِجْ وَحْرَ صُدورِنا بِرِزْقِكَ, فإنَّ الغَنيَّ مَنْ أغْنَيْتَ وإنَّ السّالِمَ مَن وَقَيْتَ.
“O Allah, bring down on us the benefits and blessings of these clouds and turn their harms away from us. O Allah, take away the barrenness of our country by Your rains and take away the distress of our hearts by Your blessing. The rich one is he, whom You have made rich and the safe one is he, whom You have protected.”
It is also said:
اَللّهُمّ إنّ هاتَينِ آيَتانِ مِن آياتِكَ وَهذَينِ عَونانِ مِن أعْوانِكَ يَتَبَدَّرانِ طاعَتَكَ بِرَحْمَةٍ نافِعَةٍ أوْ نِقْمَةٍ ضارَّةٍ فلا تُمْطِرْنا بِها مَطَرَ السّوءِ وَلا تُلْبِسْنا بِهِما لِباسَ البَلاءِ.
“O Allah! Cloud and lightning are two signs of Yours and two assistances from among Your assistances obeying You with profitable mercy or harmful wrath. O Allah, do not make them pour over us the rain of wrath nor make them cover us with the dress of distress!”
And in the sixth supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah:
اَلحَمدُ للهِ الّذي خَلقَ اللّيْلَ وَالنَّهارَ بِقُوّتِهِ وَمَيَّزَ بَينَهُما بِقُدرَتِهِ وَجَعلَ لِكُلِّ واحِدٍ مِنهُما حَدّاً مَحدوداً.
“Praise be to Allah, Who has created the night and the day with His power and distinguished between them with His might and made to each of them a certain limit”.
وَخَلقَ لَهُمُ اللّيلَ لِيَسكُنُوا فيهِ مِن حَرَكاتِ التَّعَبِ.
“And He has created for them the night to rest from the hardships of the day.”
وَخَلقَ لَهُمُ النَّهارَ مُبْصِراً لَيَتْبَغوا فيهِ مِن فَضْلِهِ وَليَتَسَبَّبوا إلى رِزْقِهِ وَيَسْرَحوا في أرضِهِ طَلَباً لِمَا فيهِ نَيلُ العاجِلِ مِن دُنياهُم وَدَرْكُ الآجِلِ في أُخْراهُم.
“…and He has created the day and made it bright for them to benefit from their Lord's favors, to gain livelihood and to rove in His earth to get the necessary needs of their worldly life and to insure the later necessities of their afterlife.”
It is to be noticed that in these expressions every move and immovability is directly related to God and the whole causality is ascribed to the Most Aware Allah. Another significant point is that the infallibles imams (s) have considered themselves as the manifestation of God's attributes (In some traditions they consider themselves as the very content of God's attributes). However, the structure of the truth behind God's attributes is beyond our thinking and imagination.
The recognition of the Absolute power and the Absolute knowledge and the absolute magnanimity of God are evident for the infallible imams (s). This kind of knowledge is not the common knowledge; rather it is their special understanding. They are, in fact, the manifestations of God's attributes. There is no separation between them and these attributes. That is to say, when the infallible imams (s) refer to themselves, they introduce themselves as God's great names.
The reason is that the imam's body is in this world and his truth rests in the other world. Imam as-Sadiq (s) says:
وَنَحْنُ عِندَنا مِن الاسْمِ الأعْظَمِ اثْنانِ وَسَبعونَ حَرفاً، وَحرْفٌ واحِدٌ عِندَ اللهِ.
“With us there are seventy two Great Names (of Allah) and one Name is with Allah.”1
That is to say, it is particular to Allah and no one knows it. Mo'awiya Ibn Ammar reports from Imam as-Sadiq (s):
نَحنُ واللهِ أسْماءُ اللهِ الحُسْنى.
“By Allah, we are the attributes of Allah.”
Hammad Ibn Othman reports from Abi al-Sabah that one of the infallible imams (s) have said:
يا أبا الصباح! نَحنُ وَاللهِ النّاسُ المَحْسودونَ.
“O Abi al-Sabah, by Allah we are the very ones, who are envied by the people.”
This means that the infallible imams (s) are the closest ones to God. That is to say they are in a world higher than this one. Imam Ali (s) has said:
لَو كُشِفَ ليَ الغِطاءُ ما ازْدَدْتُ يَقيناً على يَقيني.
“If the curtains (of the truth) are drawn apart, my conviction will never change.”
Concerning God's sincere servants, Imam Ali (s) has said: “The bodies of the infallible ones (s) are here but their souls are in the other world.” Regarding pious Gnostics, Avicenna in chapter nine of his book entitled Isharat says: “As if he was present although he was absent and as if he was resident although he had moved away”. Thus, the bodies of the pious sincere servants of God are here in this world, but their spirits are in the high layers of the system of creation.
The above sentence was an introduction for realizing the fact that when we observe that the infallible ones (s), in their supplications, invoke God with names, each of which manifests one aspect of creation, they are not concerned with words per se; rather, they see the whole creation as the effect of these names; they would also look at the world as it is the creation of Allah. They have not established their relation with God through this world. They are familiar with the specific features of each one of God's names. They consider this tangible world as the manifestation of God's power. So we hear in Kumayl supplication, “…and with Your attributes that have filled the corners of everything.”
They are, in fact, looking from the higher layers of the creation downwards the earthly world. They have noticed that each creature depends on one of God's Names. In other word, they see the world as true realizations of God's Names. They have known the geometry of this world through God's Names. They know that, for instance, a certain name includes night, the other includes day, the third one manifests the sun and the fourth one depicts the moon.
Sometimes the infallible imams (s) supplicate to God so intensely that we are amazed how such unique creatures should weep so anxiously. Of course, no body has any shred of doubt about the cleanliness of these great people, but their regrets, continual weeping and confessions of their weaknesses are amazing. We read in the supplication of al-Iftitah:
اَللّهُمَّ إنَّ عَفْوَكَ عَن ذَنبِي وَتَجاوُزَكَ عَنْ خَطِيئَتي وَصَفْحَكَ عَنْ ظُلْمِي وَستْرَكَ عَلى قَبيحِ عَمَلي وَحِلْمَكَ عَن كَثيرِ جُرمِي عِندَ ما كانَ مِن خَطأي وَعَمْدي…
“O Allah, Your forgiving my sins, Your overlooking my mistakes, Your pardoning my injustice, Your covering my bad doings Your patience before my many crimes when I have committed them intendedly and unintendedly…”
In Abu Hamza supplication we read:
فَوَعِزَّتِكَ يا سَيّدي لَو أنْهَرْتَني ما بَرِحْتُ مِن بابِكَ وَ لا كَفَفْتُ عَنْ تَمَلُّقِكَ.
“O my Lord, I swear by Your dignity that even if You propel me, I will never leave Your gate nor will I stop flattering You.”
We also read:
سَيِّدي! أنا الصَّغيرُ الّذي رَبّيْتَهُ, أنا الجَاهِلُ الّذي عَلَّمْتَهُ وَالخاطِئُ الّذي أقَلْتَهُ؛ أرى نَفسِي تُخادِعُني وأيّامِي تُخاتِلُني وَقَدْ خَفَقَتْ عِندَ رَأسِي أجْنِحَةُ المَوتِ فَما لي لا أبْكي…
“O my Lord, I am the little one, whom You have brought up. I am the ignorant one, whom You have taught. I am the sinful one, whom You have forgiven. I see my self cheating me and my days deceiving me while the wings of death are fluttering near my head…what about me! Why do I not cry!”
We also read:
أفَبِلِساني هذا الكالِّ أشْكُرُكَ أَمْ بِغايَةِ جهْدِي فِي عَمَلي أُرضِيكَ؟ وَما قَدرُ لِسانِي يا رَبُّ فِي جَنْبِ شُكْرِكَ؟ وما قَدرُ عَمَلي فِي جَنْبِ نِعَمِكَ؟
“O my Lord, can I thank You with this tired tongue or can I please You with my doings? O my Lord, what the value of my tongue is beside praising You and what the value of my doings is beside Your favors!”
We also read:
إلَهي إرْحَمْني إذا إنقَطَعَتْ حُجَّتي وَكَلَّ عَن جَوابِكَ لِسانِي وَطَاشَ عِندَ سُؤالِكَ لُبيّ.
“O my Lord, have mercy on me if my means fails me, if my tongue fails to answer You and if my mind becomes reckless when invoking You.”
In these phrases we observe how these sources of knowledge and treasures of piety employ humbleness with pardon and flattery to be close to God. This question has got two answers:
Firstly, we should be aware that piety, knowledge, power and glory of the infallible imams (s) have stemmed from that of God's. We read in the first ziyara of Imam Husayn (s) on the day of Ashura:
إرادَةُ الرَّبِّ في مَقادِيرِ أمُورِه تَهبِطُ إلَيكُمْ وَتَصْدُرُ مِن بُيوتِكُم.
“God's will, in performing His actions, descends to you and then sets out from your houses.”
We also read:
بَلَغَ اللهُ بِكمُ أشْرَفَ مَحلَّ المُكرَمِينَ وأعْلى مَنازِلِ المُقَرَّبينَ وأرْفَعَ دَرجاتِ المُرسَلينَ حيثُ لا يَطْمَعُ في إدْراكِه طامِعٌ.
“Allah has granted you with the most honored position, the highest rank of the closest ones (to Allah) and the highest positions of the prophets that no one reaches, exceeds, precedes or ever thinks to get.
All these stem from God and have been given to the infallible ones (s). If, at any moment, this favor is cut, no sign of perfection will remain with man. In fact the fear of cutting these forms of perfection by God has led these elite ones to know that the origin of the exultant status comes from God. The greater this perfection, the greater is our need to come close to God and the more vivid is our poverty in the presence of God. Thus, the infallible ones are away from their very selves and are more in need of the Absolute Power. To be thankful for this great asset, they would never put supplications and regrets aside. They have always pointed to this fact that what there is, could be accounted as to be from God.
Naturally, this great perfection and absolute dependence bring them humbleness. That is why they get involved in supplications. Imam Ali (s), in this regard, says: “I have not stopped flattering You.” From this statement we can conclude that we may not ascribe to those honorable ones what we will consider appropriate for ourselves, because this is going away from the status of any of the infallible ones (s).
Putting this kind of assumptions in our minds, we will never arrive at knowledge.
Secondly, coming close to God, the Almighty, and receiving that bottomless ocean of glory, absolute power and infinite knowledge, make man so humble that he keeps on worshipping God for ever and if he cuts the mountains with his eye-lashes, he has yet not compensated for God's favors and he will always remember to be humbleness and not to forget that.
The manifestation of glory, which could divide a mountain into two pieces and could make Moses unconscious, is applied to the infallible ones (s). Any power compared with the Almighty power is just nothing. In this case, there is a reverse relationship: the more a person understands the power of God, the less he will regard himself. No matter how much time he will spend on worshipping or will go on fasting, he will be ashamed in the presence of God. Therefore, he will always consider himself as an obedient servant of God. In the Sabah supplication, we will:
سُبْحانَكَ اللّهُمَّ وَبِحَمدِكَ؛ مَنْ ذا يَعْرفُ قَدرَكَ فَلا يَخافُكَ! وَمَن ذا يَعْلَمُ ما أنْتَ فلا يَهابُكَ!
“O God! Glory and praise be to You. Who is he that knows Your reality without being afraid of You?”
This point has put the traits and features of all the infallible ones (s) in a special position and let the ignorant ones in the darkness. Thus Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
إلَهي؛ ما لي وَما خَطَري! هَبنِي بِفَضْلِكَ وَتَصَدَّقْ عَلَيَّ بِعَفْوِكَ.
“O my God! Who am I and what is my value? Grant me with Your favor and forgive me with Your generosity.” He also declares:
ولئن أدخلتني النار لأخبرنّ أهل النار حبي لك.
“O God! If You throw me into the Hell, I will announce to the people of Hell that I love You.”
This statement shows that Imam as-Sajjad (s) does not assume any right for himself. Thus, humbly he says:
سَيِّدي! عَبدُكَ بِبابِكَ أقامَتْهُ الخَصاصَةُ بَينَ يَدَيكَ.
“O my Lord! Your poor servant has come at Your gate; his poverty has brought him here…”
Elsewhere, he adds:
سَيِّدي! إنْ وَكَلْتَنِي إلى نَفْسي هَلَكْتُ.
“O my Lord! If You leave me to myself, I shall perish.”
The important issue is that he is standing beside the light of the Creator of the world with no curtain between them. That is why he sees all his worships as nothing and he humbly invokes God, assuming no right for himself. This definitely is the highest degree of sincerity. In the sixteenth supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah we read:
إلَهي لَو بَكِيتُ إلَيكَ حَتىّ تَسقُطَ أشْعارُ عَينِي وَرَكَعْتُ لكَ حَتىّ يَنخَلِعَ صُلبِي وَسَجَدْتُ لَكَ حَتىّ تَنْفَقِئُ حَدقَتايَ وَأَكَلْتُ تُرابَ الأرْضِ طُولَ عُمُري وَشَرِبْتُ ماءَ الرَّمادِ آخرَ دَهْري وَذَكَرْتُكَ في خِلالِ ذلِكَ حَتى يَكِلَّ لِسانِي ثُمَّ لَمْ أرْفَعْ طَرفِي إلى آفاقِ السَّماءِ اسْتِحْياءً مِنكَ ما اسْتَوْجَبَ بِذلِكَ مَحْوَ سَيِّئَةٍ واحِدَةٍ مِن سَيِّئاتِي.
“O my God! If I cry until I lose my eye-lashes, and bow to You until I break my back, prostrate so much till my eyes pop out of their sockets, eat earth from the ground all my life, drink water mixed with ashes and during all this time I invoke You until my tongue becomes tired, then I do not dare to raise my head towards the sky feeling ashamed in front of You, I shall not deserve that You forgive even one of my sins.”
The one, who feels proud when offering prayer and expects a lot to happen to him because of his mid-night prayers or his fasting, will be a prey to his greed and will not realize that servitude does not have any conditions. One should engage in God's servitude without having any doubts.
The above two points, which we discussed above, were taken from the supplications. They will be good guidelines for those who are entangled in this problem that “how Imam as-Sajjad (s) shows humbleness before God?” This kind of mental states are seen among the great scholars who are among special students of the school of the infallible imams (s) who have put forth a lot of energy in worshipping God with no unusual expectation. It is enough for the reader to refer to their biographies in order to get to the truth.
Teaching Islamic knowledge depends on explaining mental and philosophical issues which are dealt with in some supplications. This is a big issue which requires several volumes to deal with. It is a spring of knowledge. In the Arafah Supplication, Imam Husayn (s) said:
بِكَ عَرفْتُكَ وَأنْتَ دَلَلْتَنِي وَلَو لا أنْتَ لَمْ أدْرِ ما أَنْتَ.
“O God! I have known You by You. You have guided me to You. Without You I will never know what You are”
And this is the best kind of the reasoning used by the sincere ones, who recognize God through God Himself and use no other form of reasoning. This means that they will not feel qualified enough in with mind to realize God. A poet says:
This is because it is absurd to look for the sun during the day by the light of the candle. Imam Husayn (s), in another part of his supplication, refers to the proof of this issue with a fascinating interpretation;
ألِغَيرِكَ مِن الظُّهورِ ما لَيسَ لكَ حَتىّ يَكونَ هُوَ المَظْهَرَ لكَ؟ مَتى غِبْتَ حَتىّ نَحتاجَ إلى دَليلٍ يَدُلُّ عَلَيكَ؟ وَمَتى بَعُدْتَ حَتىّ تَكونَ الآثارُ هِي الّتي تُوصِلُ إلَيكَ؟ عَمِيَتْ عَينٌ لا تَراكَ عَلَيها رَقيبا.ً
“Is there any other one besides You having what You do not have so that other one would introduce you? Have you ever been absent so that we would need a guide to get to You? Have You ever been distant so that signs would be needed to lead to You? The eye, which does not see You as the observer on it, is blind.”
It is also said:
إلَهي أمَرْتَنِي بِالرُّجُوعِ إلى الآثارِ فَأرْجِعْني إلَيكَ بِكَسْوَةِ الأنْوارِ وَهِدايَةِ الإسْتِبْصارِ حَتىّ أرجِعَ إلَيكَ مِنها كَما دَخَلْتُ إلَيكَ مِنْها مَصُونَ السِّرِّ عَن النّظَرِ إلَيها.
“O my Lord! You have ordered me to refer to Your signs, in order to recognize You, so take me to You with the proofs of light and the guidance of insight so that I shall return to You from them as I have come to You by them preserving Your secrets when seeing Your signs.”
Allah has said:
أَفَلَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ. وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ. وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ. وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ.
“Will they not then consider the camels, how they are created and the heaven, how it is reared aloft and the mountains, how they are firmly fixed and the earth, how it is made a vast expanse? 88:17-20”
But I humbly beg Your magnanimity without letting doubts overcome me. I turn towards You because You are the clearest. You need no reason to prove Yourself; rather, You are the reason for everything.
Imam Husayn (s) refers to one of the secrets of the world, which is to high above the world of reason:
أنْتَ الّذي تَعَرَّفْتَ إلَيَّ فِي كُلِّ شَيءٍ وَرَأَيْتُكَ ظاهِراً فِي كُلِّ شَيءٍ.
“You have made Yourself known to me in everything and I have seen You apparent in everything.”
Then he says:
تَعَرَّفْتَ لِكُلِّ شَيءٍ وَما جَهِلَكَ شَيءٌ.
“You have made Yourself known to everything and there nothing that has ignored You.”
It is evident that Imam Husayn (s) has observed the secrets in the entire creation ad he himself, besides having seen God in every thing, has been aware of the awareness of the creatures.
O God! How should we know? We wish we were at his time to ask him: “O our Imam, how have you become aware of the stones, mountains, iron and steel in the other world and how have you got the knowledge to know that these items know God? What we could say, however, is that you are an infallible Imam.” In the thirty second supplication of Sahifa as-Sajjadiah we read:
اَللّهُمَّ يا ذا المُلْكِ المُتَأبِّدِ بِالخُلودِ، عَزَّ سُلطانُكَ عِزّاً لا حَدَّ لَهُ بَأوَّلِيَّتِهِ وَلا مُنْتَهى لهُ بِآخِرِيَّتِهِ وَاسْتَعْلى مُلْكُكَ عُلُوّاً سَقَطَتِ الأشْياءُ دُونَ بُلوغِ أَمَدِهِ وَلا يَبْلُغُ أدْنى ما اسْتَأثَرْتَ بهِ مِن ذلِكَ أقْصى نَعْتَ النّاعِتِينَ.
“O God! O You the possessor of the everlasting kingdom over the world. Your kingdom is so dominant that it has no limit in its beginning; nor does it have an end to its termination. Your kingdom is so high that everything has failed to reach. The utmost description of the descriptors will not reach the least of what You have appropriated to Yourself.”
In these sentences, Imam Husayn (s) refers to noticable points:
He has defined the infinite kingdom and might in the following words: The limits of that kingdom are not shown by any beginning or end although by the use of the expression “He is the First and He is the Last.” His kingdom is carrying the attributes of “the beginning and the end.” Every creature, before being of its own, belongs to God. Imam Husayn (s) has said:
يَا مَنْ دَنِيَ فَلا شَيءَ دونَهُ وَعَلا فَلا شَيءَ فَوقَهُ.
“O You, Who have become so near that nothing is nearer than and have become so high that nothing is higher than.”
This expression indicates that “He encompasses everything” and shows that everything in the world is under the control of His power. Nothing could exist or act without His consent. This fact is called monotheism. Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
بِكَ عَرفْتُكَ وَأنْتَ دَلَلْتَنِي وَلَو لا أنْتَ لَمْ أدْرِ ما أَنْتَ.
“O God! I have known You by You. You have guided me to You. Without You I will never know what You are.”
This means that Allah has given us minds to reason and He has formed our nature in a way to seek for Him. This is, as we have seen before, the best kind of reasoning offered by the infallible imams. No better expression could ever be said by any philosopher. In the forty-seventh supplication of Arafah, we read:
أنْتَ الّذِي لا تُحَدُّ فَتكون مَحدُوداً وَلَمْ تُمَثَّلْ فَتَكون مَوجوداً وَلَمْ تَلِدْ فَتَكون مَولوداً. أنْتَ الّذي لا ضِدَّ مَعَكَ فَيُعانِدكَ وَلا عِدْلَ لَكَ فَيُكاثِركَ وَلا نِدَّ لَكَ فَيُعارِضكَ.
“You have no boundary to be limited; You are not visualized to be an object; You have not begotten to be born. You are the one for whom there is no opponent to oppose You; nor You have an equal to defeat you.”
What is referred to, here in this expression, is the absolute power and the real monotheism which is neither limited nor exemplifiable; neither does it have appearance, nor is it derived from anything else. He does not have any associate or partner. This is because if He has any of these things, then He will not be the Absolute Power or have the attribute of being alone. In Kumayl supplication we read:
وَبِوَجْهِكَ الباقِي بَعدَ فَناءِ كُلِّ شَيءٍ، وَبِنورِ وَجْهِكَ الّذي أضَاءَ لَهُ كُلُّ شَيءٍ، يا نُورُ يا قُدّوسُ.
“O God! I invoke You with Your Face that will remain after the perdition of everything and with the light of Your Face, with which everything has lit. O You, the Light, the Most Holy.”
This infallible Imam has collected all of the Gnosticism in these few words.
Imam Ali (s) has seen that everything is reliant on God's Light and has seen that man's salvage from the darkness of non-existence is only due to God's light, which is the Absolute Existence. However, by using the expression “with Your Face that will remain after the perishing of everything” he has referred to the absolute and everlasting dignity of God. After considering everything as dependant on God's Light, he has used “O You, the Light, the Most Holy” so that to hinder the dubiety of adding an associate or a partner to Him. This is what he has in mind “O God, You are the Absolute Light and everything else has got its light from Your light. Glory be to You.”
The expressions of love towards God, which are seen in these supplications while no exaggeration is involved, show us how feeble we are to understand these beloved ones. They consider themselves as the simplest of all the creatures. Now we refer to some aspects of this truth, which is beyond our intelligence. Considering how innocent and pious these infallible ones are, the significance of the issue will be clear:
In the fiftieth supplication of Sahifa as-Sajjadiah, Imam as-Sajjad (s) has said:
وَلَيسَ عَذابي يَزيدُ فِي مُلْكِكَ مِثقالَ ذَرّةٍ وَلَو أنّ عَذابِي مِمّا يَزِيدُ فِي مُلْكِكَ سَألْتُ الصَّبْرَ عَلَيهِ وَأحْبَبْتُ أنْ يَكونَ ذلِكَ لَكَ.
“O God! Punishing me does not add to your Kingdom even as a weight of one atom. If punishing me adds to Your Kingdom a thing, then I will ask You for patience and I would love that to You (if it adds something to Your Kingdom.”
Imam Ali (s), in Kumayl supplication, has said:
هَبْني يا إلَهي وَسَيِّدِي وَمَولايَ وَرَبِّي صَبَرْتُ عَلى عَذابِكَ فَكَيْفَ أصْبِرُ عَلى فِراقِكَ!
“O my God! O my Lord! O my Guardian! Suppose I could tolerate Your punishment, then how could I endure my being away from you?”
He has also said:
وَاجْعَلْ لِسانِي بِذِكْرِكَ لَهِجاً وَقَلْبِي بِحُبِّكَ مُتَيَّماً.
“O God, make my tongue fluent in praising You and make my heart enthralled by Your love.”
He has also said:
فَرَبِّي أحْمَدُ شَيءٍٍٍٍِ عِنْدي وَأَحَقُّ بِحَمْدِي.
“My God the most beloved One to me and the worthiest of my praise.”
He also says:
إلَهي لَوْ قَرَنْتَنِي بالأصْفادِ وَمَنَعْتَنِي سَيبَكَ مِن بَينِ الأشْهادِ وَدَلَلْتَ عَلى فَضائِحِي عُيونَ العِبادِ وَأمَرْتَ بِي النّارَ وَحِلْتَ بَينِي وَبَيْنَ الأبْرارِ ما قَطَعْتُ رَجائِي مِنْكَ وَما صَرَفْتُ وَجْهَ تَأمِيلِي لِلعَفْوِ عَنكَ وَلا خَرَجَ حُبُّكَ مِن قَلبِي، أنا لا أنْسى أيَادِيَكَ عِندِي.
“O my Lord! If You bind me with fetters, prevent me Your favors, disclose my scandals before the people, order to put me into Hell and separate me from the pious, I will never lose my hopes in You, I will never despair to be forgiven by You and I will never take Your love out of my heart. I will never forget Your favors on me.”
Imam Ali (s) also says:
وَلَئِنْ أدْخَلْتَنِي النّارَ لأُخْبِرَنَّ أهْلَ النّارِ حُبِّي لَكَ.
“If you put me in Hell, I will announce to the people of Hell my love to You.”
In Sha'baniyyah Prayer, Imam Ali (s) has said
وَإنْ أخَذْتَنِي بِذُنوبِي أخَذْتُكَ بِمَغْفِرَتِكَ وإنْ أدْخَلْتَنِي النّارَ أعْلَمْتُ أهْلَها أنّي أُحِبُّكَ.
“If You punish me for my sins, I will ask Your pardon. If you put me in Hell, I will inform its residents that I love You.”
As we see, all we have heard of the love of lovers towards their beloved ones, their sayings and their exaggerated fictions is not at all comparable to the tongues of sincerity and assured hearts of these sincere infallible imams (s).
The language of Gnosticism is the tongue of entrée into the world of intuition. It is the language of the unimaginable world. In Sha'baniyyah Prayer we read:
وَاجْعَلْني مِمَّنْ نادَيْتَهُ فَأجابَكَ وَلاحَظْتَهُ فَصُعِقَ لِجَلالِكَ وَناجَيْتَهُ سِرّاً وَعَملَ لَكَ جَهْراً.
“O my God! Make me one of those, whom You have called and they have responded, whom You have observed and they have been stricken for Your glory and whom You have confide to secrets and they have worked for You openly.”
We also see in the twelfth supplication of The 15 Munajat:
إلَهي فاجْعَلْنا مِن الّذينَ تَرَسَّخَتْ أشْجارُ الشّوقِ إلَيكَ فِي حَدائقِ صُدورِهِمْ وَأخَذَتْ لَوعَةُ مَحَبَّتِكَ بِمَجامِعِ قُلوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ إلى أفْكارِ الأفْكارِ يَأوونَ وَفِي رِياضِ القُرْبِ وَالمُكاشَفَةِ يَرتَعونَ وَمِنْ حِياضِ المَحَبَّةِ لِكأسِ المُلاطَفَةِ يَكرَعونَ وَشَرائعِ المُصافاتِ يَرِدونَ. قَد كُشِفَ الغِطاءُ عَن أبْصارِهِم. ما أطْيَبَ طَعْمَ حُبِّكَ وَما أعْظَمَ شرْبَ قُرْبِكَ وَاجْعَلْنا مِن أخَصِّ عارِفِيكَ وأصْلَحِ عِبادِكَ.
“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. The curtain has been removed from upon their sights…How sweet the taste of Your love is and how great Your nearness is. Make us among the best of those, who know You, and the most pious of Your servants.”
Imam Husayn (s) says:
يا مَن اسْتَوى بِرَحْمانِيَّتِهِ فَصارَ العَرْشُ غَيباً فِي ذاتِهِ, مَحَقْتَ الآثارَ بِالآثارِ وَمَحَوْتَ الأغْيارَ بِمُحِيطاتِ أفْلاكِ الأنْوارِ، يا مَن احْتَجَبَ فِي سُرادِقاتِ عَرْشِهِ عَن أنْ تُدْرِكَهُ الأبْصارُ، يا مَنْ تَجَلّى بِكَمالِ بِهائِهِ فَتَحَقَّقَتْ عَظَمَتُهُ فِي الاسْتِواءِ… إنَّكَ عَلى كُلّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ، وَالحَمدُ للهِ وَحدَهُ.
“O You, Who have dominated with Your beneficence that the Throne has become unseen in Your essence. You have effaced the signs by the signs and removed the opponents by the horizons of light. O You, Who have hidden in the pavilion of Your Throne so the sights cannot see You. O You, Who gloried with Your perfect grace so Your greatness has shone loftily… You have power over all things… Praise be to You alone.”
This part of the supplication is more distinguished and deeper than the other phrases of the supplication because in the previous sections Imam has begged God, but at this stage of the supplication, he describes his intuition, i.e., he talks about the secrets of the heavens and the glories of God. He considers that everything will vanish except God.
Thus, this supplication in fact is the description of an innocent voyage, which this infallible imam has adopted and so he has offered a great honor to the people, who have followed him. Definitely, if he had not invited us to regard his dignity and if he had thought that the attainment of such a position was impossible, he would have never described this position in this supplication.
Most of the secrets are significant and only those infallible ones know them. When Imam as-Sajjad (s) says in the thirty-second supplication of his Sahifa: “The utmost description of the descriptors will not reach the least of what You have appropriated to Yourself” he refers to this delicate point that what he knows of the names of God, the wisdom of all the learned can never reach. Since he knows that nobody can attain those positions, he does not discuss their stages.
The practical and ethical instructions, which are mentioned in the supplications, are not deniable. This is especially true in al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah. Perhaps one of the factors, which led to these instructions in the language of supplication, was that at that time there was no reliable narrator at the side of this Imam. These narrators might have been present but they did not dare to communicate much with Imam as-Sajjad (s). This was because Imam as-Sajjad's followers were easily persecuted. That was why Imam as-Sajjad's students communicated with him as little as possible.
They even could not teach the others what they had learned from Imam as-Sajjad (s). Thus those lofty instructions were told in the form of supplications to be used by the subsequent generations. In this way, these supplications were kept until the present time. Now it is time to refer to some instructions of these infallible ones.
The twenty-fourth supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah pays special attention to parents:
اَللّهُمّ إجْعلْني أَهابَهُما هَيبَةَ السُّلْطانِ العَسوفِ وَأَبَرُّهُما بِرَّ الأُمِّ الرّؤوفِ واجْعَلْ طاعَتِي لِوالِدَيَّ وَبِرِّي بِهِما أقَرَّ لِعَيْنِي مِنْ رَقْدَةِ الوَسْنانِ وَأثْلَجَ لِصَدْرِي مِن شُربَةِ الظّمْآنِ حَتىّ أؤْثِرَ عَلى هَوايَ هَواهُما وَأُقَدِّمَ عَلى رِضايَ رِضاهُما. اَللّهُمّ ومَا تَعَدَّيا عَليَّ فِيهِ مِن قَولٍ أوْ أسْرَفا عَليَّ فِيهِ مِن فعْلٍ أوْ ضَيَّعا لِي مِنْ حَقٍّ أوْ قَصَّرا بِي عَنْهُ مِن واجِبٍ فَقَدْ وَهَبْتُهُ لَهُما. وَلا أَكْرَهُ ما تَوَلّيا مِن أمْرِي يا رَبِّ.
“O my God! Let make me fear them (my parents) like fearing a tyrant king. Make me treat them piously like a kind mother. Make my obedience and being pious to them more delightful than the sleep of a sleepy one and more pleasant to my heart than the drink of a thirsty one so that I prefer their tendencies to mine and their contentment to mine. O my God! I forgave them whatever wrong they have said or done to me or whatever right of mine they have wasted or duty towards me they have neglected…O my Lord! I do not dislike whatever they have undertaken of my affairs.”
From this statement it is clear that Imam as-Sajjad (s) attracts the full attention of children towards their parents and this is just an example because both he and his honorable father are infallible and they never do any wrong. He has definitely not shown any kind of negligence towards his parents. Thus, the objective of this supplication is the practical side of it.
The twenty-sixth supplication deals with the education of children. In this part of the supplication, Imam as-Sajjad (s) has ordered the parents to pray for their children and to take much care of them. They are not to indulge in the wrong assumption that their only task is to provide food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and to send them to schools or to high schools. Rather, the focal attention should be educating them.
At the same time, in this supplication it is talked about the ideal children. Should it be enough for them to be only literate or should it suffice them to be healthy or wealthy? Are there other factors, as well? Imam as-Sajjad (s) has issued comprehensive commands concerning these issues:
وَأصِحَّ لِي أبْدانَهُم وَأدْيانَهُم وأخْلاقَهُم. وَأَدْرِرْ لِي وَعَلَيَّ يَدّيْ أرزاقِهِمْ، واجْعَلْهُم أبْراراً أتْقِياءَ بُصَراءَ سامِعِينَ مُطِيعِينَ لكَ وَلأوْلِيائِكَ مُحِبِّينَ مُناصِحِينَ وَلِجَمِيعِ أعْدائِكَ مُعانِدِينَ وَمُبْغِضِينَ وَأَعِنّي تَربِيَتَهُمْ وَتأدِيبَهُم وَبِرَّهُمْ. وَأَعِذْني وَذُرّيَّتِي مِنَ الشّيطانِ الرّجِيمِ، فإنَّكَ خَلَقْتَنا وَأَمَرْتَنا وَنَهَيْتَنا وَرَغَّبْتَنا فِي ثَوابِ ما أمَرْتَنا وَرَهَّبْتَنا عِقابَهُ.
“O my God! I pray You to keep their (my children's) bodies healthy and to preserve their ethics and faith…and grant me with their sustenance. Make them well-doers, pious, discerning and obedient to You and make them love and follow Your guardians and hate and dissent from Your foes.
Assist me to bring them up and educate them well. Guard me and my children against the Satan. You have created us and ordered us to do the right things and prohibited us from doing wrong. You have made the reward of carrying out Your orders desirous to us and warned us of the punishment of not obeying Your orders.”
As we see in this supplication that the two objectives above (i.e. introducing the ideal children and the ways of educating children) are thoroughly dealt with.
We have been ordered to keep away from the Satan and to protect ourselves against him to have any control over our souls. This is something vital to us because disregarding any of the commands of these great ones may cause man to deteriorate. Moulana, the great Iranian Poet says:
Imam as-Sajjad (s) has mentioned the dangers of the Satan. He said that he is a foe, whose stronghold is our breast, whose movement is into our blood vessels and whose weapon is our doubts.
Through these sentences the Satan is thoroughly introduced so that man can defend himself against his bloody attacks and nullify his aggression. Of course, this supplication belongs to an imam, who is in the stronghold of God and the Satan can never take hold of him. So it is evident that Imam as-Sajjad (s) has offered these commands for people.
In the twenty- sixth supplication of as-Sahifa As-Sajjadiah, Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
وَتَوَلََّنِي فِي جِيرانِي وَمَوالِيَّ العارِفِينَ بِحَقِّنا وَوَفِّقْهُم لإقامَةِ سُنَّتِكَ وَالأخْذِ بِمَحاسِنِ أدَبِكَ فِي إرفَاقِ ضَعيفِهِم وَسَدِّ خَلَّتِهِم وَعِيادَةِ مَريضِهِم وَهِدايَةِ مُسْتَرشدِيهِم وَمُناصَحَةِ مُسْتَشِيرِهِم وَتَعَهُّدِ قادِمِهِم وَكِتْمانِ أسْرارِهِمْ وَسَتْرِ عَوراتِهِمْ وَنُصْرَةِ مُظلومِهِم وَحُسْنِ مُواساتِهِم بِالمَاعُونِ وَالعَوْدِ عَلَيهِم بالجِدَةِ والإفْضالِ وَإعْطاءِ ما يَجِبُ لَهُم قَبلَ السُّؤالِ وَاجْعَلْني اللّهُمّ أجزِي بالإحْسانِ مُسِيئَهُم وَأعرِضُ بِالتَّجاوُزِ عَن ظالِمِهِم، وأسْتَعْمِلُ حُسْنَ الظَّنِّ فِي كافَّتِهِمْ وَأتَولّى بِالبِرِّ عَامَّتَّهُم وَأغُضَّ بَصَري عَنهُم عِفَّةً وَألِينُ جانِبِي لهُمْ تَواضُعاً وأرِقُّ عَلى أهْلِ البَلاءِ مِنهُمْ رَحْمَةً وَأسِرّ لهُمْ بِالغَيبِ مَوَدَّةُ وأُحِبُّ بَقاءَ النّعمَةِ عِندَهُم نُصْحاً وأُوجِبُ لَهُم ما لِحامَّتِي وأرْعى لَهُم ما أرْعى لِخاصَّتِي وَارزُقْني مِثلَ ذلِكَ مِنهُم.
“…and guide me (to be good) towards my neighbors and followers, who have acknowledged our right…and guide them to keep to Your religion and to follow Your morals in being kind to the needy, reforming their defects, visiting the sick, guiding the seekers of guidance, advising the consultees, welcoming the comers, preserving their secrets, covering their defects, supporting the wronged, assisting the hungry, doing them favors, giving them what they need before they ask for. O my Lord, make me reward with good those, who have done me wrong, overlook the unjust, trust in them all, be pious to them, lower my eyes continently, be humble to them, be kind merciful to afflicted ones, love them truly, wishing them blessing, wish to them what I wish to my kins, take care of them as I take care of my close relatives…O my Lord, grant me like that from them”
It is observed that in all of these constructive pieces of advice, Imam as-Sajjad (s) has great positive feelings towards the neighbors. We should know that, according to the Islamic code, until forty houses on each side of one's house are considered as one's neighbors. If these principles are carried out, we can imagine what utopias persons like Plato and Aristotle have had in their minds. Under such conditions, the dominance of human ethics and principles will lead the society without interference of the governors. These ethical instructions are to secure the social justice. They are charters for living peacefully and for modifying behaviors and speeches and for controlling one's imaginations.
Among the significant commands in supplications are the ethical issues and the fitness of one's soul to them. Concerning this, we can refer to Imam as-Sajjad's “Resalatol Hoquq” in which he has dealt with all these items, with which man contacts, and he has offered necessary instructions for each of them. In the twenty-second supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah we read:
اَللّهُمّ صَلِّ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَخَلِّصْنِي مِنَ الحَسَدِ وَاحْصُرْنِي عَنِ الذُّنوبِ وَوَرِّعْنِي عَنِ المَحَارِمِ وَلا تُجَرِّئْنِي عَلى المَعاصِي وَاجْعَلْنِي فِي كُلِّ حَالاتِي مَحفوظاً مَكْلوءاً مَسْتوراً مَمنُوعاً مُعاذاً مُجاراً.
“O my Lord, make Your blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny and get me rid of envy, make me refrain from sins, make me pious before prohibitions, do not make me dare to disobey You and make me in all of my states protected, safeguarded, defended and rescued!”
The supplication of Makarim al-Akhlaq, which is the twentieth supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, is very useful in this regard. We will refer to a part of it, which is a sample of the human ethical system. The content of this supplication equals a visit to a library of ethical resources. As if a synopsis of a library has been gathered in this supplication:
وَأجْرِ لِلنّاسِ عَلى يَدَيَّ الخَيْرَ وَلا تَمْحَقْهُ بِالمَنِّ وَهَبْ لِي مَعالِي الأخْلاقِ وَاعْصِمْنِي مِن الفَخْرِ وَأغْنِنِي وَأَوْسِعْ عَلَيَّ فِي رِزْقِكَ وَلا تَفْتِنِّي بِالنَّظَرِ وَأعِزَّنِي وَلا تَبْتَلِيَنِّي بِالكِبْرِ وَعَبِّدْنِي لَكَ وَلا تُفْسِدْ عِبادَتِي بِالعُجْبِ.
“O my Lord! Make me as a means of welfare for people and do not perish this welfare by making me boast vainly. Grant me with the highest of morals and keep me safe from boasting. O my Lord, do not make me in need of anything and ease my livelihood. Do not try me with pride and vanity. Make me devote myself to You and do not spoil my worship with conceit.”
In another part of this supplication Imam as-Sajjad (s) says:
وَعَمِّرْنِي ما كانَ عُمُرِي بذْلَةً فِي طَاعَتِكَ فإذا كانَ عُمُرِي مَرْتَعاً لِلشَّيْطانِ فَاقْبِضْنِي إلَيْكَ قَبْلَ أنْ يَسبِقَ مَقْتُكَ إلَيَّ أوْ يَستَحْكِمَ غَضَبُكَ عَلَيّ.
“O my Lord! Keep me alive as long as I obey You and when my life becomes as a pasture to the Satan, then make me die before You will detest me or You will send Your wrath on me!”
There is another feature of supplication; it is the reference to the Islamic government and invoking Allah to protect its stability and defending the borders of the Islamic countries by strong faithful men. Imam as-Sajjad (s) has devoted the twenty-seventh supplication of Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah to the guards of the borders and the armies of the Islamic state. Imam as-Sajjad (s) has made people alert to defend their Islamic heritage:
وَحَصِّنْ ثُغُورَ المُسْلِمينَ وَأَيِّدْ حُماتَها بِقُوَّتِكَ، وَكَثِّرْ عدَّتَهُمْ وَاشْحَذْ أسْلِحَتَهُم وَاحْرُسْ حَوزَتَهُم وامْنَعُ حَومَتَهُمْ وألِّفْ جَمْعَهُم وَدَبِّرْ أمْرَهُمْ وَواتِرْ بَينَ مِيرِهِم وَعَلِّمْهُمْ ما لا يَعْلَمونَ وَعَرّفْهُمْ ما يَجْهَلونَ وَبَصِّرْهُم ما لا يُبْصِرونَ. اَللّهُمّ وأيّما غازٍ غَزاهُم مِنْ أهْلِ مِلّتِكَ أوْ مُجاهِدٍ جَاهَدَهُمْ مِن إتّباعِ سُنَّتِكَ فَلَقِّهِ اليُسْرَ وَهيِّئ لهُ الأمرَ وَاعْفِه عَن الجُبْنِ وَألْهِمْهُ الجُرأةَ وَارْزُقْهُ الشِّدَّةَ وأيّدْهُ بِالنُّصْرَةِ وَعَلِّمْهُ السّيرَ وَالسُّنَنَ وَسدِّدْهُ فِي الحُكْمِ.
“O my Lord! Protect the borders of the Moslem countries and support their guards with Your power… increase their numbers and, sharpen their weapons, guard their land, defend their country, unite their groups, manage heir affairs, teach them what they do not know, inform them of what they ignore, enlighten them on what they do not see… O Allah, whoever fighter of Your nation fights them (the enemies) or a mujahid of the followers of Your religion strives against them… support him and prepare his affairs… take cowardness off him, inspire him with courage, grant him with strength, assist him with victory, teach him the Sunna and the laws and support him in the rule.”
These statements of this supplication refer to the organizations of Islam. The Moslems should be so organized that the enemies could not find a chance to demolish them. They should be equipped with modern weaponry to defend themselves.
The phrase “sharpen their weapons” refers to the power of dominating. It means that the weapons should be modified in accordance with the time. The phrase “teach him the Sunna and the laws” means to learn the latest military tactics and the phrase “teach them what they do not know, inform them of what they ignore, enlighten them on what they do not see” indicates that the Islamic army should learn the military techniques and should behave diligently in accordance with the position of the enemy. Not only the army should be ready, but also it should not act foolishly.
It should be noticed that Imam as-Sajjad (s) has recommended this strong organization not for expanding the country or for dominating over the poor and the needy; but he (s) has intended to defend the Moslems and the Islamic countries. Thus he says:
اَللّهُمّ وَقَوِّ بِذلِكَ مَحالَّ أهْلِ الإسْلامِ وَحَصِّنْ بهِ دِيارَهُمْ وَفَرّغْهُم عَن مُحارَبَتِهِم لِعبادَتِكَ وَعَنْ مُنابَذَتِهِمْ لِلخِلوَةِ بكَ حَتىّ لا يُعْبَدَ في بِقاعِ الأرْضِ غَيرُكَ ولا تُعَفَّرُ لأحَدٍ مِنهُم جَبهَةٌ دُونَكَ.
“O God! Make the countries of the Moslems strong and fortified, do not make them busy with fighting in order to be free to worship You and to be alone with You so that no one is to be worshipped on the earth save You and that no forehead of any of them is to be covered with soil to other than You.”
Imam as-Sajjad (s) in the supplication of “the Beginning” asks God for a pious government:
اَللّهُمَ إنّا نرغَبُ إلَيكَ فِي دَولَةٍ كَريمَةٍ تُعزُّ بِها الإسْلامَ وَأهْلَهُ وَتُذِلُّ بِها النّفاقَ وَأهْلَهُ وَتَجْعَلُنا فِيها مِن الدُّعاةِ إلى طاعَتِكَ وَالقادَةِ إلى سَبيلِكَ.
“O Allah! We are looking forward to an honorable state, in which You glorify Islam and its people and degrade hypocrisy and its people and to make us among those, who invite to Your obedience and guide to Your path.”
Elsewhere, he asks God to protect us against the trespassers and aggressors by saying:
الحَمدُ للهِ قاصِمِ الجَبّارينَ مُبيرِ الظّالِمِينَ مُدرِكِ الهَارِبِينَ نَكالِ الظّالِمينَ صَريِخ ِالمُسْتَصرِخِينَ مَوضِعِ حاجاتِ الطّالِبينَ.
“All praise be to Allah, the Defeater of the tyrants, the Destroyer of the unjust, the Overtaker of the escapers, the Punisher of the unfair, the Resort of the resorters and the Responder of the applicants.”
In this statement, the oppressed ones in the world are given hopes and are encouraged not to despair. It makes them realize that God remembers them because He is the destroyer of the tyrants, the opponent of the vicious and the protector of the wretched. So when the wretched escape from the tyrants, Allah is the only one, to Whom they are to resort to. They will not find themselves unprotected and they will not give the aggressors a chance to involve in more injustice.
It is evident that Islam has a firm view towards the Moslem social parties. It severely punishes those, who make troubles for these foundations. Even in some verses of the Qur'an, the punishment for trouble-makers in some cases is killing.
لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْمُرْجِفُونَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ لَنُغْرِيَنَّكَ بِهِمْ ثُمَّ لَا يُجَاوِرُونَكَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا.
“If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease and the agitators in the City (Medina) do not desist, we shall most certainly set you over them, then they shall not be your neighbors in it but for a little while. Cursed, wherever they are found they shall be seized and murdered, a (horrible) murdering. 33:60-61”
There are many such decisive verses in the Holy Qur'an. This policy is to protect the prestige of the Moslem nation. This prestige is strongly protected by God. The Holy Qur'an says:
فَقُطِعَ دَابِرُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
“So the roots of the people who were unjust were cut off; and all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. 6:45”
This Islamic system and organization is deemed so crucial by the infallible imams (s). Imam Ali (s) says in Nahj al-Balaghah: “I found that if I had asked for my rights and stood against the government, it would have been hazardous to the society of the Moslems. So I gave up my rights to keep the Moslems safe and I was a sincere counselor.” And for the same reason, Imam Hassan (s) signed the famous contract with Mo'awiya. In many supplications the infallible imams (s) have ordered people to pray for the just imam.
What has been mentioned above is just a few of the concepts included in the supplications offered by the infallible imams (s). I hope it will be of use for the dear readers. All praise is due to Allah.