أَللٌّهُمَّ اقْضِ عَنَّا الدَّيْنَ
We have already discussed extensively on the subject of debt in our commentary on the verse ‘Allāhumma aqdi dayna kullī madīn’ (O Allāh, facilitate the payment of the debt of every indebted one). It is possible that this verse speaks about the same subject, but is an emphasis and thus reveals the fundamental importance of relieving oneself from debt before departing this mortal world. In fact, if we look at several other supplications, we find that the following two requests have frequently come together: seeking relief from debt and enriching oneself (wa aghninā min al-faqr - which is to follow).
Following are some examples:
1. In a supplication that the Holy Prophet (s) is narrated to have taught his beloved daughter Fātimah for sustenance, we find the following:
أَللٌّهُ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّ كُلِّ شَئْ ٍ، مُنْزِلُ التَّوْرَاةِ وَالانْجِيلِ وَالزَّبُوْرِ وَالْفُرْقَان… إِقْضِ عَنّيْ الدَّيْنَ وَأَغْنِنِي مِنَ الْفَقْرِ…
“Allāh is our Lord and the Lord of all things; He is the Revealer of Torah, Injīl, Zabūr and Furqān…facilitate the payment of my debt and make me needless…”1
2. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said to his noble companion Salmān:
يَا سَلْمَان: أَكْثِرْ أَنْ تَقُوْلَ رَبِّيْ اقْضِ عَنِّيْ الدَّيْنَ وَاَغْنِنِيْ مِنَ الْفَقْرِ.
“O Salmān frequently say: ‘O Lord, pay for me my debt and make me needless.’”2
3. In the well-known supplication of ‘Alqamah we recite:
… وَتَقْضِيَ عَنِّي دَيْنِي وَتُجِيرَنِي مِنَ الْفَقْرِ وَ…
“…and pay for me my debt and save me from my poverty…”3
4. In a lengthy supplication recommended for the first day of the Holy month of Ramadān we say:
أَنْتَ الأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَاَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ، فَصَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ وَاقْضِ عَنِّي الدَّيْنَ وَأَغْنِنِي مِنَ الْفَقْرِ.
“You are the First4, and thus there is none before You, and You are the Last, and therefore there is none after You; and You are the Apparent, and therefore there is none other than You; so send Your Blessings on Muhammad and his progeny (as) and facilitate the payment of my debt and make me needless.”5
The supplicant therefore, is humbly asking Almighty Allāh to make his situation such that after having paid his debts, he would never need to take another debt again. For he realizes how difficult it is to be suspended by debt, and thus would like to be free from its chains so that if death were to overtake him he would have nothing on his shoulders.
Another probable meaning of this verse is that it speaks of a common debt that every human being shares. The phrase ‘iqdī ‘annā al-dayn’…اقض عنا الدين (lit. pay for us the debt) can imply that all the human beings are in debt. This is when the article ‘al’ in al-Dayn is for ‘determination’ and thus refers to a particular debt. What kind of debt actually is this? There is well-known dictum (which some scholars narrate as a tradition6) that says:
أَللٌّهُ سُبْحَانَهُ غَرِيْمٌ، لاَ يُقْضَى دَيْنُهُ.
“Allāh is a Creditor whose debt cannot be paid.”
A rephrasal of this dictum is mentioned in the first sermon of Imām ‘Alī (as) in Nahju’l Balāghah as follows:
...وَلاَ يُؤَدِّي حَقَّهُ الْمُجْتَهِدُوْنَ....
“…One Whose rights the diligent cannot fulfill…”7
In simpler words: He is One Whose rights cannot be fulfilled even by those who struggle hard and are diligent. In his Minhāj al-Barā’ah- a commentary on the Nahju’l Balāghah - ‘Allāmah Habībullāh al-Khu’ī expounds the above statement of Imām ‘Alī (as) as follows:
وَالْمُرَادُ بالْحَقِّ اللاّزمِ هُوَ الْقِيَامُ عَلى شُكْرِ النَّعْمَاءِ، وَحَمْدِ الآلاَءِ، فَأَشَارَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ إلى أَنَّهُ لاَ يُمْكِنُ الْقِيَامُ بوَظَايِفِ حَمْدِهِ، لأَنَّ الْحَمْدَ مِنْ جُمْلَةِ نِعَمِهِ، فَيَسْتَحِقُّ عَلَيْهِ حَمْدًا وَشُكْرًا، فَلاَ يَنْقَضِي مَا يَسْتَحِقُّهُ مِنَ الْمَحَامِدِ، لِعَدَمِ تَنَاهِي نِعَمِهِ، فَالأَوْلىَ حِيْنَئِذٍ الاِعْتِرَافُ بالْعَجْزِ وَالْقُصُوْرِ.
“The meaning of compulsory rights [as depicted in the dictum of Imām ‘Alī (as) - ‘One whose rights…’] is to thank God for His blessings and praise Him for His bestowals; therefore the Imām (as) alluded to the fact that it is impossible for one to bear the responsibility of praising Him, because ‘to praise him’ is in itself among His blessings, which then necessitates another praise and thanks; consequently, the praises that He deserves would never end, due to His endless blessings. Hence it is better to confess one’s inability and shortcoming [in praising and thanking Him]…”8
Almighty Allāh says in the Qur’ān:
وَ إِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللٌّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا
“…If you enumerate Allāh’s blessings, you will not be able to count them…”9
In his supplication when confessing his shortcomings in giving thanks, Imām al-Sajjād (as) says:
أَللٌّهُمَّ إِنَّ أَحَداً لا يَبْلُغُ مِنْ شُكْرِكَ غَايَةً إِلا حَصَلَ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ إِحْسَانِكَ مَا يُلْزِمُهُ شُكْراً. وَلا يَبْلُغُ مَبْلَغاً مِنْ طَاعَتِكَ وَإِنِ اجْتَهَدَ إِلاّ كَانَ مُقَصِّرا دُونَ اسْتِحْقَاقِكَ بِفَضْلِكَ. فَأَشْكَرُ عِبَادِكَ عَاجِزٌ عَنْ شُكْرِكَ، وَأَعْبَدُهُمْ مُقَصِّرٌ عَنْ طَاعَتِكَ.
no one reaches a limit in thanking You
without acquiring that of Your beneficence
which enjoins upon him thanksgiving,
Nor does anyone reach a degree in obeying You,
even if he strives,
without falling short of what You deserve
because of Your bounty.
The most thankful of Your servants
has not the capacity to thank You,
and the most worshipful of them
falls short of obeying You.10
Imām ‘Alī (as) is sermon 52 of Nahja’l Balāghah says:
وَاللٌّهِ لَوِ انْمَاثَتْ قُلُوبُكُمُ انْمِيَاثاً-وَسَالَتْ عُيُونُكُمْ مِنْ رَغْبَةٍ إِلَيْهِ أَوْ رَهْبَةٍ مِنْهُ دَماً-ثُمَّ عُمِّرْتُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا-مَا الدُّنْيَا بَاقِيَةٌ مَا جَزَتْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَلَوْ لَمْ تُبْقُوا شَيْئاً مِنْ جُهْدِكُمْ-أَنْعُمَهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الْعِظَامَ-وَهُدَاهُ إِيَّاكُمْ إلَى الإِيْمَانِ.
“By Allāh, if your hearts melt down thoroughly and your eyes shed tears of blood either in hope for Him or for fear from Him and you are also allowed to live in this world for all the time that it exists, even then your actions cannot pay for His great bounties over you and His having guided you towards faith.”11
But despite all this, Almighty Allāh has shown us a method of thanking Him. Imām al-Sādiq (as) is reported to have said:
أَوْحَى اللٌّهُ تَعَالَى إِلَى مُوسَى (ع): يَا مُوسَى اشْكُرْنِي حَقَّ شُكْرِي. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ كَيْفَ أَشْكُرُكَ حَقَّ شُكْرِكَ وَلَيْسَ مِنْ شُكْرٍ أَشْكُرُكَ بِهِ إِلاَّ وَأَنْتَ أَنْعَمْتَ بِهِ عَلَيَّ. فَقَالَ: يَا مُوسَى شَكَرْتَنِي حَقَّ شُكْرِي حِينَ عَلِمْتَ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنِّي.
“Allāh, the Exalted, Revealed unto Mūsā (as): ‘O Mūsā, thank Me the way I deserve to be thanked. Mūsā (as) said: O Lord, how can I thank you the way You deserve to be thanked, while there is no gratitude that I express save that it in itself is a blessing that You have bestowed on me; Allāh said: O Mūsā, It is now that you have thanked me the way I deserve to be thanked, knowing that that was from me.”12
Therefore understanding the fact that ‘every thanksgiving’ is in itself a blessing of Almighty Allāh on His servant is highly important. Rather those who have realized through Divine Revelation (Qur’ān), intellectual reasoning (burhān) or inner vision (‘irfān) that every element of their beings depend on the Almighty, whether in the level of their essence, attributes or actions, are in a better position of achieving this kind of thankfulness.The following verse of the Holy Qur’ān clearly says the every being together with its action stands by the permission of Almighty Allāh:
وَ اللٌّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَ مَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“And Allāh has created you and whatever you do.”13
Therefore whatever good we do, whether in form of thanks, praise, worship, etc. all belong to Almighty Allāh and are by His permission, succor (tawfīq), and assistance. Neither is our essence our property nor our actions of virtue. Therefore ‘paying the common debt of Allāh’ can never be conceived. Consequently, asking Allāh to pay our common debt is like asking Him to accept our deeds of worship, praise and thanks.
Although every advantage that we receive is principally from and by Allāh, there are secondary causes that Almighty Allāh Creates to allow things to happen. For example, He helps His poor servants through His benevolent rich ones. He feeds the human beings through the plants and animals and requires them to work and facilitate the conditions of preparing food so that they can consume it and maintain their health to worship and get closer to Him. Therefore it would be incorrect to discard the ‘intermediary’ of an advantage by saying that my monotheistic outlook dictates that al-shukr lillāh (thanks belong solely to Allāh). It is correct to say that thanks belong solely to Allāh, but the Almighty has taught the human being to show gratitude to one who does anything good to someone despite his limitation and utter dependence. Observe the following narrations:
1. Imām al-Sādiq (as) is reported to have said:
مِنْ حَقِّ الشُّكْرِ لِلٌّهِ أَنْ تَشْكُرَ مَنْ أَجْرَى تِلْكَ النِّعْمَةَ عَلَى يَدِهِ.
“An example of thanking Allāh the way He deserves to be thanked is when you thank one in whose hands He enabled the blessing to take place.”14
2. Imām al-Ridā (as) is reported to have said:
مَنْ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ الْمُنْعِمَ مِنَ الْمَخْلُوقِينَ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ اللٌّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.
“Whosoever does not thank the giver of the blessing from among the creatures, would not thank Allāh, the Invincible and Majestic.”15
Having understood the monotheistic outlook that every action of ours entirely comes into being and subsists by Allāh, it is clear that both the shākir and the mashkūr is Allāh. Mullā Hādī Sabzawārī in his Sharh al-Asmā’ under the verse ‘…yā khayra Shākirin wa Mashkūr, yā khayra Hāmidin wa Mahmūd…’ says:
(يَا خَيْرَ ذَاكِرٍ وَمَذْكُوْرٍ، يَا خَيْرَ شَاكِرٍ وَمَشْكُوْرِ، يَا خَيْرَ حَامِدٍ وَمَحْمُوْدٍ): قَدْ ذَكَرْنَا سَابقًا اَنّهُ إذاَ قِيْلَ: (لَهُ الْحَمْدُ) لاَ يُقْصَدُ اَنَّ الْمَحْمُوْدِيّةَ فَقَطْ أَيْنَمَا وَقَعَتْ طُرّاً وَكُلاًّ لَهُ تَعَالـى، بَلْ الْمَقْصُوْدُ اَنَّ الْحَامِدِيَّةَ أَيْضًا لَهُ وَبِهِ تَعَالـى، فَالذّاَكِرِيّةُ وَالشَّاكِرِيَّةُ وَالْحَامِدِيَّةُ وَنَظَائِرُهَا لَهُ وَبهِ تَعَالى. وَالْعِبَارَةُ الأَوْلى فِي بَعْضِ الْمَرَاتِبِ أَنْ يُقَالَ: اِنَّهُ بحَوْلِهِ وَقُوَّتِهِ تَعَالى.
“We mentioned earlier that if it is said ‘to Him belongs all praises’ it does not only mean that every praise wherever it may occur belongs to Allāh, but also means that ‘the agency of praise’ [wherever it may be] too belongs to Allāh and takes place by Him; hence thankfulness (shākiriyyah), remembrance (dhākiriyyah), praise (hāmidiyyah) and the like [all] belong to him and take place by Him, the Exalted. And a better expression about the same in a certain level is to say: that it [i.e. praise, thankfulness, etc.] transpires by His power and strength, the Exalted.”16
Imām Husayn (as) in his famous supplication of ‘Arafah alludes to the subtlely that even before we try to remember Him, He remembers us. He attracts us; He pulls us; He encourages us to thank and praise and remember Him. If we were to free ourselves from the spatial limitations, we can understand a subtler meaning to such precedence: Not only does He Remember us before we remember Him, but causally it is essential for Him to Remember us so that we Remember Him. Rather, our remembrance is entirely by Him. Imām Husayn (as) says:
...أَنْتَ الذَّاكِرُ قَبْلَ الذَّاكِرِينَ...
“…You are the Rememberer before the rememberers…”17
It should be noted that although the tradition on shukr that we mentioned earlier clearly states how one can thank Almighty Allāh appropriately, it makes a hint to the fact that thanking Him the way He deserves is beyond the limitation of the human being. None can ever claim that he has thanked Almighty Allāh for every blessing. Firstly, because every ‘thanks’ necessitates another thanks, since thanking him is a blessing in itself. And secondly, we cannot enumerate and count the blessings of Almighty Allāh. Imām al-Sajjād (as) in his prayer Munājāt al-Shākirīn mentions these two reasons as follows:
…فَآلاؤُكَ جَمَّةٌ ضَعُفَ لِسَانِي عَنْ إِحْصَائِهَا، وَنَعْمَاؤُكَ كَثِيرَةٌ قَصُرَ فَهْمِي عَنْ إِدْرَاكِهَا فَضْلاً عَنِ اسْتِقْصَائِهَا، فَكَيْفَ لِي بِتَحْصِيلِ الشُّكْرِ وَشُكْرِي إِيَّاكَ يَفْتَقِرُ إِلَى شُكْرٍ؟ فَكُلَّمَا قُلْتُ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ وَجَبَ عَلَيَّ لِذٌلِكَ أَنْ أَقُولَ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ.
“Your boons are abundant -
my tongue is too weak to count them!
Your favours are many -
my understanding falls short of grasping them,
not to speak of exhausting them!
So how can I achieve thanksgiving?
For my thanking You requires thanksgiving.
Whenever I say, ‘To You belongs praise!’,
it becomes thereby incumbent upon me to say,
‘To You belongs praise’!”18
Therefore, no one should ever think that he or she has the ability to thank Him the way He deserves. Yes, out of His overflowing Mercy, He accepts the thankfulness and praise of one who has realized that his thankfulness itself is from Allāh and that it deserves another thanking. But that should not be taken as the ‘perfect’ thanks of the ‘abd (servant of Allāh). Rather it should be taken as ‘the imperfect and incomplete thanks ‘accepted by the All-Merciful. Furthermore the degrees of comprehending that every thanksgiving is a blessing and from Allāh are various. Whereas some have accepted this truth by following the Revelation, others have established its verity through intellectual reasoning. Another group however, due to the purification of their hearts, can literally behold this truth through presential knowledge (al-’ilm al-hudūrī).
In another supplication Imām al-Sajjād (as) confesses that the dhikr (remembrance of Allāh, whether that be in the form of thanks (shukr), praise (hamd), etc.) of the supplicant is according to his imperfect state and not according to what Almighty Allāh deserves. In his Munājāt al-Dhākirīn, Imām al-Sajjād (as) whispers:
بِسْمِ اللٌّهِ الرَّحْمٌنِ الرَّحِيمِ. إِلٌهِي لَوْلا الْوَاجِبُ مِنْ قَبُولِ أَمْرِكَ لَنَزَّهْتُكَ مِنْ [عَنْ] ذِكْرِي إِيَّاكَ، عَلَى أَنَّ ذِكْرِي لَكَ بِقَدْرِي لا بِقَدْرِكَ…
were it not incumbent to accept Your command,
I would declare You far too exalted for me to remember You,
for I remember You in my measure,
not in Your measure…”19
Those who have realized the utter dependence of the human being and the absolute affluence of Almighty Allāh would never deem whatever they do as perfect. Consequently, they would not worship Almighty Allāh in transaction for Paradise. They would worship Him because He deserves to be worshipped. Their worship would be a worship of thankfulness or love. Imām ‘Alī (as) is reported to have said:
اِنَّ قَوْمًا عَبَدُوا اللٌّهَ رَغْبَةً فَتِلْكَ عِبَادَةُ التُّجَّارِ، وَاِنَّ قَوْمًا عَبَدُوا اللٌّهَ رَهْبَةً فَتِلْكَ عِبَادَةُ الْعَبِيْدِ، وَاِنَّ قَوْمًا عَبَدُوا اللٌّهَ شُكْرًا فَتِلْكَ عِبَادَةُ الاَحْرَارِ.
“Surely a people worshipped Allāh in anticipation [of reward]; this is the worship of traders; and a people worshipped Allāh out of fear [of Hell]; this is the worship of bondsman; and another group of people worshipped Allāh out of thankfulness, this is the worship of the liberated and free ones (ahrār).”20
Readers can appreciate the fundamental reason why some worship Allāh as a transaction. It is due to their ignorance of the relation between the human being and Allāh. They feel they can offer something independent from themselves. They do not realize that every perfect action entirely stands by Allāh:
وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللّهِ
Whatever blessing you have is from God…21
It should however not be misunderstood and thought that every evil deed also stems from Almighty Allāh. Indeed it is through the support of Almighty that every deed regardless of its nature is done. The human beings however have a volition and can choose what to do. The human conscience is a proof to this contention. When they resolve to do bad, Almighty Allāh out of His Wisdom does not intercept their way. Rather every movement they make is entirely by His support. Trial and tribulation, and obedience and disobedience would carry no meaning if every one was forced to do what Almighty Allāh wants. Therefore good and bad is by His support but not forced by Him on man.
It should also be realized that ‘to do bad’ stems from imperfection on the part of the human being. And imperfection is the non-existence of a perfection, which does not require any cause. Therefore attributing the non-existence of a perfection to Almighty Allāh is evidently absurd. For example, the stingy behavior of a certain person reveals deficiency on his part. The person lacks the ‘broadness of heart’ and the trait of ‘open-handedness (jūd).’ We cannot say that Almighty Allāh creates his stinginess. This is because stinginess (bukhl) is not a trait to be created. It is the absence of a trait. But when the person is openhanded and benevolent, the trait of benevolence which is an existential trait (sifah wujūdiyyah) needs a cause. And it is only by Almighty Allāh that this trait can exist and subsist. Therefore we can say that benevolence is from and by Allāh, but we cannot say that stinginess is from and by Allāh. Yes, the actions that stem from a stingy heart, need the support and strength of Allāh. However, since Almighty Allāh has given every one a free will, he himself chooses the action and Allāh (swt) enables him to carry out the same. But that should not lead us to imagine that Allāh has forced him to do the action.
Several traditions narrate that the Holy Prophet (s) would worship Almighty Allāh so much that his feet would get swollen. He was once asked by one of his wives: ‘Why do you distress yourself when Almighty Allāh has forgiven all your past and future sins?’ and he replied: ‘should I not be a thankful servant of Allāh?’22
Despite all this, he (s) is reported to have said:
مَا عَبَدْناَكَ حَقَّ عِبَادَتِكَ…
“We have not worshiped you the way You deserve to be worshipped…”
The angels of Allāh (swt) likewise, despite their utter purity and perpetual worship, declare their shortcoming in worshipping Almighty Allāh the way He deserves to be worshipped. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said to Abū Dharr:
يَا أَبَا ذرّ! إنَّ لِلٌّهِ مَلائكَةٌ قِيَامًا مِنْ خِيْفَةِ اللٌّهِ، مَا رَفَعُوْا رُؤُوسَهُمْ حَتَّى يُنْفَخُ فِي الصُّوْرِ النَّفْخَةُ الآخِرَة، فَيَقُوْلُوْنَ جَمِيْعًا: سُبْحَانَكَ رَبَّنا وَبحَمْدِكَ، مَا عَبَدْنَاكَ كَمَا يَنْبَغِي لَكَ أَنْ تُعْبَدُ.
“O Abū Dharr, surely Allāh has angels who stand in fear of Him; they would not raise their heads until the final blow of the trumpet; thereupon all of them would say: Free from imperfection are You, Our Lord, and we praise You; we did not worship You the way You should be worshipped.”23
And Imām al-Sajjād (as) alluding to this in one of his supplications quotes the angels of Allāh saying:
سُبْحانَكَ ما عَبَدْناكَ حَقَّ عِبادَتِكَ.
“Free from imperfection are You! We have not worshipped You the way You deserve to be worshipped.”24
Hence one should never rely on any of his deeds of virtue. Obviously this does not mean that he should despair and think that his deeds have no value. One should instead totally rely on the Grace of the All-Merciful and continue in his struggle of perfection.
The night before he left for the hospital where he was to pass the last moments of his life, the late Āyatullāh Khumaynī was in the company of Mrs. Fātimah Tabātabā’ī, his daughter-in-law among other relatives. The latter narrates the following conversation, which took place after Āyatullāh Khumaynī had eaten very little of his dinner:
Āyatullāh Khumaynī: Now I have one or two advices for you: I shall not return. However, I don’t want you to express grief and anxiety on my demise. I am asking God to give you patience. Be careful not to weep and lament. This is what I had to say.”
Fātimah Tabātabā’ī: I and Khānum (the wife of Āyatullāh Khumaynī) were present; I do not recollect exactly; I think Zahrā Khānum Ishrāqī was (also) present. I don’t know whether someone else was present or not. It was difficult for us to listen to this issue; all of us had turned sad.
Khānum said: No, Āghā, God Willing, you will recover...
Āyatullāh Khumaynī: No, I will not return. However, let me tell you this: to go [to the next world] is very difficult; to go [to the next world] is very difficult.’
Fātima Tabātabā’ī said: ‘Āghā, If you say all this, then we shall greatly lose our hopes. This is because, as far as I know, although I am young, those who have been with you narrate that not only have you performed all the obligatory deeds, and abstained from the forbidden ones, you have also observed the recommended acts and even abstained from most of the unpleasant deeds (makrūhāt). If it is really difficult for you also, then what should we say? We get greatly despondent.
Āyatullāh Khumaynī: ‘No, you must not despair from God’s Mercy25; this itself is the greatest sin...26 However, bear this in mind that to go [to the next world] is very difficult; I do not have any [good] deed, so that I should want to be happy thereby.’
Fātimah Tabātabā’ī: But Āghā, these words that you utter are very difficult for us to bear, for if it is as such, we are extremely frightened, worried and upset.’
Āyatullāh Khumaynī: ‘It is really as such. If Hadrat Sajjād (as) wept and said: “O Lord it is likely that my good deeds are bad”27, do I possess a deed to get happy and confident thereby? I only have hope of God’s Grace28 and have no [action] at my credit to be hopeful...; and to go [to the next world] is very difficult; to go [to the next world] is very difficult.
The doctors then came, and Imām [Khumaynī] said: ‘It is time to leave.’29
O Allāh, all of us have debts to pay. Some pertain to the material world and others concern the immaterial realm. You Have taught us how important it is to ensure that our debts are paid before we enter Your sanctuary of love. Therefore enable us to pay our debts. You very well know that the common debt that all of us have to pay can never be paid unless You forgive us and accept our few deeds of virtue, if any. O Allāh, we have no hope in our actions however much we have struggled; our hope is on Your Enveloping Mercy. Therefore deprive us not from the same. Our hope (rajā’), which again is entirely by Your Grace, is our capital asset (ra’sumāl). Enable us to maintain it so that it can facilitate the Divine spark to glow in our spirits and always inspire us to come closer to You.
It is indeed interesting to note the extent of hope in our infallible Imāms (as), who enjoyed very exalted stations: Imām ‘Alī (as) whispers in his Sha’bān whisperings (Munājāt al-Sha’abāniyyah):
إِنْ أَدْخَلْتَنِي النَّارَ أَعْلَمْتُ أَهْلَهَا أَنِّي أُحِبُّكَ.
“If you place me in the Hell Fire I will inform its inhabitants that I love You…”30
And in his well-known Du‘ā al-Kumayl he cries:
أَمْ كَيْفَ أَسْكُنُ فِي النَّارِ وَرَجَائِي عَفْوُكَ؟ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ يَا سَيِّدِي وَمَوْلايَ أُقْسِمُ صَادِقاً، لَئِنْ تَرَكْتَنِي نَاطِقاً، لأََضِجَّنَّ إِلَيْكَ بَيْنَ أَهْلِهَا ضَجِيجَ الآمِلِينَ...وَلأَبْكِيَنَّ عَلَيْكَ بُكَاءَ الْفَاقِدِينَ…
“How can I stay in the Hell Fire when I am hopeful of Your forgiveness; for by Your Invincibility, O my Leader and my Master- I swear truthfully, if you do allow me to speak; I would surely cry to You among its inhabitants, the cry of the hopeful… and I would most surely lament for You the lamentation of those who are separate from their dear ones…”31
- 1. Bihār al-Anwār, v. 29, pg. 297
- 2. al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr, pg. 233
- 3. Mafātīh al-Jinān, v. 1, pg. 459
- 4. This supplication reveals the Pre-eternity & Necessity of the Non-Composite Creator.
- 5. al-Iqbāl al-A‘māl, v. 1, pg. 130
- 6. This dictum is mentioned by ‘Allamah Tabātabā ‘ī in the introduction of al-Mīzān [See Tafsīr al-Mīzān, v. 1, pg. 27]. In his anthology of questions (Dar Mahdare Ustād) that he had asked the grand ‘Allāmah during his life time, Hujjat al-Islām Rukhshād quotes this dictum as a hadīth and attributes the same to ‘Allāmah. The reference however has not been cited. Nevertheless, the dictum itself bears witness to its veracious content.
- 7. Nahj al-Balāghah, Sermon 1
- 8. Minhāj al-Barā’ah fi Sharhi Nahj al-Balāghah, v. 1, pg. 247
- 9. Holy Qur’ān, 14:34
- 10. al-Sahīfat al-Sajjādiyyah ( The Psalms of Islām, English Translation by William Chittick), Supplication no. 37, pp. 123-124
- 11. Nahj al-Balāghah, sermon 52, pg. 72
- 12. Bihār al-Anwār, v. 13, pg. 351
- 13. Holy Qur’ān, 37:96
- 14. Wasā’il al-Shī‘ah, v. 16, pg. 311
- 15. Ibid., v. 16, pg. 313
- 16. Sharh al-Asmā’, pp. 759-760
- 17. Du‘ā’ al-’Arafah, Mafātīh al-Jinān, v. 1, pg. 273
- 18. al-Sahīfah al-Sajjādiyyah (The Psalms of Islām, English Translation by William Chittick), Supplication no. 37, pp. 243-244
- 19. Sahīfat al-Sajjādiyyah, pg. 255
- 20. Nahj al-Balāghah, wisdom no. 237
- 21. Holy Qur’ān, 16:53
- 22. Bihār al-Anwār, v. 16, pg. 264
- 23. Makārim al-Akhlāq, v. 1, pg. 464
- 24. al-Sahīfat al-Sajjādiyyah, supg. no.3
- 25. The Holy Qur’ān [39:54] says: Say: O My servants who have been extravagant against yourselves, do not despair of Allāh’s Mercy; surely Allāh forgives sins altogether. Surely, He is the All-forgiving, the All-compassionate. The Holy Qur’ān [15:56] also says: He said, ‘And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord, excepting those that are astray? ‘
- 26. Imām ‘Alī is reported to have once told a person, whom fear had made to despair, due to the ampleness of his sins: ‘O you! Your despondency of Allāh’s Mercy is worse than your sins.’ [Jāmi’ al-Sa’ādāt, vol. 1, pg. 247]
- 27. This also refers to what Imam al-Husayn says in his famous supplication of ‘Arafah. He says: ‘O God, one whose good deeds are bad, how can his bad deeds not be bad?’ [Mafatīh al-Jinān, Du‘ā al-’Arafah by Imām al-Husayn ].
- 28. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said: ‘Know that no one of you will be saved by his action, including me; except if Allāh’s Mercy and Grace were to cover me.’ (Mīzān al-Hikmah, new ed., vol. 3, pg. 2131)
- 29. Fasl-e Sabr - Memoirs of the days of Imām’s illness and demise by the team of physicians and those affiliated to Āyatullāh Khumaynī, pp. 83-84.
- 30. Mafātīh al-Jinān, v. 1, pg. 158
- 31. Ibid.,v. 1, pg. 65