prayers-DU’A-The best concepts in the most beautiful prayers

pUBLISHER'S WORD

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.

INTRODUCTION

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 Seyyid Mohammad Husayn Tabataba’iy, the head of all masters in the field of research, a well-educated son in the school of Ahlul Bayt<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]--> (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.

SUPPLICATION (DU'A) Defining Supplication

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:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ      <!--[endif]-->Verbatim definition: This is when we use a clearer concept in order to solve an ambiguity;

<!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ      <!--[endif]-->Real definition: When the essence of an object is in question, we describe the category to which it belongs.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ      <!--[endif]-->“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.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ      <!--[endif]-->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.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ      <!--[endif]-->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.

Definition Based on Meaning

Ibn Faris in his Mo’jam Maqaiis al-Logha, under the title of supplication, says: “supplication means attracting one’s attention by using words”. <!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[2]<!--[endif]-->

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(”.

Qualitative Definition

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.

The Definition Based on Qualitative Characteristics

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”<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[3]<!--[endif]--> and the like in all of which the answer is based on the effects of supplication.

The Definition of Supplication Based on the How of Existence

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 طِینٍ. ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِی قَرَارٍ مَکِینٍ. ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَکَسَوْنَا 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. Inexplaining 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”.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[4]<!--[endif]-->

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:

وَآتَاکُمْ مِنْ کُلِّ 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 “

یَسْأَلُهُ مَنْ فِی 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.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[5]<!--[endif]-->

The Definition of supplication based on the content

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.

The Necessity of Supplication

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 یَعْبَأُ بِکُمْ رَبِّی لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُکُمْ.

“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 رَبُّکُمْ ادْعُونِی أَسْتَجِبْ لَکُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِینَ یَسْتَکْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِی سَیَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِینَ.

“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:

وَأَنِیبُوا إِلَى رَبِّکُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ یَأْتِیَکُمْ 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”

 وَیَهْدِی إِلَیْهِ مَنْ یُنِیبُ.

“And (He) guides to Himself him who turns (to Him) frequently. 42: 13”

 وَمَا یَتَذَکَّرُ إِلَّا مَنْ یُنِیبُ.

“And none minds but he who turns to Him again and again. 40:13”

وَالَّذِینَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَنْ یَعْبُدُوهَا 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.”<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[6]<!--[endif]-->

It is also narrated from Imam Ali (s):

إدْفَعواأمْواجَالبَلاءِبِالدُّعاءِ.

“Be safe from the waves of disasters by supplication.”<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[7]<!--[endif]-->

The Rationale behind Supplication

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 یَسْجُدُ مَنْ فِی 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:

The Almighty God in creating the Heavens,

Did so to satisfy our needs;

Where there is a pain, the medicine would go there,

Where there is poverty, sustenance would be available;

Do not go far for more water, lest you get thirsty,

So that your water boils everywhere.

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

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 Most Natural Secret of Existence

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 شَیْءٍ 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 یَشَأْ یُذْهِبْکُمْ وَیَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِیدٍ.

“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:

The expedience is here and the miserable, me, over there,

See how far away we both are.

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.

Kinds of Supplication

Supplications are of the following types:

Division of Supplications based on the coordination of tongue, heart and truth <!--[if !supportLists]-->Ÿ    <!--[endif]-->Verbal Supplication

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:

How dare you to ask for God’s favors?

When you are disappointe

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