SIXTH MEANS: SUPPLICATIONS (DU`A’)
Du`a’ is one of the best acts of worship through which one can attain self‑perfection and God’s Nearness. Almighty God has invited his servants to supplicate to Him. He says in the Holy Qur’an:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ.
“And your Lord hath said: Pray unto Me and I will hear your prayer. Lo! those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced. 40:60”
ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ.
“(O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loveth not aggressors. 7:55”
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِي إِذَا دَعَانِي فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ.
“And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. 2:186”
The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:
الدُّعاءُ مُخُّ العِبادَةِ.
“Du`a’ is the brain of worship.” (Sahih al-Tirmidhi, vol. 2, pp. 266)
Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:
الدّعاءُ هُو العِبادَةُ. قالَ اللهُ تَعالى ﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ.﴾ إدْعُ اللهَ وَلا تَقُلْ إنّ الأمْرَ قَد فُرِغَ مِنْهُ.
“Du`a’ is worship, because Almighty God says:’ Lo! those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced. 40:60’ You must supplicate to Almighty God and disregard whether a matter has come to its end or not.” (al-Kafi, vol. 2. pp. 407)
عَلَيكُم بِالدُّعاءِ فإنَّكُم لا تَقَرَّبونَ بِمِثْلِه. وَلا تَترُكُوا صَغِيرَةً لِصِغَرِها أنْ تَدعوا بِها. إنّ صاحِبَ الصِّغارِ هوَ صاحِبُ الكِبارِ.
“You should never quit supplication in all circumstances, because you will never find any other substitute in attaining God’s Nearness. Even for insignificant and minor affairs, one must supplicate for the settler of the minor affairs is the same as Him Who settles the big ones. (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 467)
God’s servant must supplicate because his entire existence needs Almighty God. Man in essence is absolutely poor, needy and dependent. In case, he becomes deprived of God’s blessings even for an instant, he will be destroyed as if he has never existed. Whatever reaches a servant is from Almighty God; therefore, a servant should admit this primordial dependency by his tongue and confirm his poverty, servitude and needs through practical actions, which are the real meaning of worship. At the time of supplication, one remembers Almighty God, establishes humming communications with him and, like a humble servant with teary eyes, presents his needs before Him. By abandoning his hopes from the world of poverty and wants, he establishes his link with the Most Supreme Source of all Blessings and Perfection. Flying upward from the world of poverty, he succeeds in witnessing the Beauty of God’s Essence through his esoteric eyes. The state of supplication and humming private communications with Almighty God is one of the most pleasurable, beautiful and invaluable conditions of a servant.
Refer to al‑Sahifah al‑Sajjadiyah and other books of Du`a’ and study in details the humming communications of the Infallible Imams. Establishing communications with Almighty God and hoping that He will accept the supplications brings tranquillity and assurance for the suppliant’s heart. If a human being, while facing life hardships for solution of his problems and difficulties, does not seek refuge in Almighty God, he will never show perseverance against them or have assurance for continuation of his life.
Du`a’ is a believer’s arsenal through which he struggles against disappointments and despairs and seeks help from a hidden supernatural power for solving his difficulties and problems. The Prophets and the Infallible Imams (a.s) always utilized this arsenal and recommended it strongly. Imam al‑Rida (a.s) said to his companions:
عَلَيكُم بِسِلاحِ الأنْبِياءِ... الدُّعاءُ.
“Adhere to the weapon of the Prophets—Du`a'.” (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 468)
Imam al‑Baqir (a.s) said:
إنّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ مِن عِبادِهِ المُؤمِنِينَ كُلَّ عَبْدٍ دَعا، فَعَلَيكُم بِالدُّعاءِ فَي السَّحَرِ إلى طُلُوعِ الشَّمسِ، فإنَّها ساعَةٌ تُفَتَّحُ فِيها أبْوابُ السَّماءِ وَتُقَسَّمُ فِيها الأرْزاقُ وَتُقْضَى فِيها الحَوائِجُ العِظامُ.
“Almighty God loves His servant who supplicates a lot; and I recommend you to supplicate especially at the time of the last hour of night until sunrise, because at this time, the gates of Heaven are opened, people’s sustenance is distributed and their great wants are granted.” (al-Kafi vol. 2, pp. 478)
The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:
الدُّعاءُ سِلاحُ المُؤمِنِ وَعَمودُ الدّينِ وَنورُ السَّماواتِ وَالأرْضِ.
“Su`a’ is the believer’s arsenal, the pillar of the religion and the light of the heavens and earth.” (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 468)
Du`a' is an act of worship that stands for the soul of all acts of worship and brings eternal rewards. It is a believer’s ascension towards the Heavenly Kingdom making the supplicant’s spirit perfect and nourished and helping him attain God’s Nearness. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
الدُّعاءُ مَفاتِيحُ النَّجاحِ وَمَقالِيدُ الفَلاحِ. وَخَيْرُ الدُّعاءِ ما صَدَرَ مِنْ صَدْرٍ نَقِيٍّ وَقَلْبٍ تَقِيٍّ, وَفِي المُناجاةِ سَبَبُ النَّجاةِ وَبالإخْلاصِ يَكونُ الخَلاصُ، فإذا اشْتَدَّ الفَزَعُ فإلَى اللهِ المَفْزَعُ.
“Du`a' is the key of prosperity and the clue of success. the best Du`a' is that which comes out from pure chests and pious hearts. Hymns with Almighty God results in salvation and through means of sincerity, one is saved from adversities; therefore, when hardships become intense, one should seek refuge of Almighty God.” (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 468)
Du`a' that is submitted properly achieves self-perfection and God’s Nearness; therefore, a servant must never quit it under any circumstances for it is never ineffective even if its result are not immediate. Sometimes, its results are delayed or postponed to the Next World because a suppliant’s demand is not always good for him. Yet, it is Almighty God Who alone knows what is really good.
A servant should always stretch his hands before the Omnipotent God and supplicate for his wants. If it is deemed appropriate, his wants will be granted in this world, but sometimes, Almighty God knows it appropriate to delay it so that he does more intensive humming communication with Him and attain higher spiritual positions. Sometimes, divine expediency dictates that his grant should not be granted in this world so that he should remain continuously engaged in God’s Remembrance receiving a much better reward in the next world. The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:
رَحِمَ اللهُ عَبداً طَلَبَ حاجَةً مِن اللهِ فَألَحَّ فِي الدُّعاءِ، اسْتُجِيبَ لهُ أو لَمْ يُسْتَجَبْ لهُ. ﴿وَأَدْعُو رَبِّي عَسَى أَلَّا أَكُونَ بِدُعَاءِ رَبِّي شَقِيًّا.﴾
“May Almighty God have mercy upon a servant who seeks his needs from Him God and pleads for their fulfillment through supplications whether his wants are granted or not. ‘I shall pray unto my Lord. It may be that, in prayer unto my Lord, I shall not be unblest. 19:48’” (al-Kafi vol. 2 pp. 475)
Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:
إنّ المؤمن ليدعو الله تعالى في حاجةٍ فيقول الله: أخّرتُ حاجتَه شوقاً إلى دُعائه، فإذا كان يوم القيامة يقول الله تعالى: عبدي دَعَوتني في كذا فأخّرتُ إجابتك وثوابك كذا، ودعوتني في كذا فأخّرتُ إجابتك وثوابك كذا، قال: فيتمنّى المؤمن أنّه لم يُستجب له دعوةٌ في الدُنيا لِما يرى مِن حُسن ثوابه.
A believer asks God for something he needs, but God puts it off and says: “I delay fulfilling his needs due to My eagerness to his supplication.” When the Hereafter comes, the Almighty God says: “O My servant! You asked Me for something in the world, but I delayed fulfilling it. Here is the reward. You then asked Me for something else, but I delayed fulfilling it again. Here is the reward.” The The Imam (a.s) said: “At this time the believer who sees all the good rewards, wishes that his needs in the world for which he prayed had never been fulfilled. (Mishkat al-Anwar, pp. 708)
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.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, pp. 322)
 Al‑¯ahifah al‑Sajjadiyah includes certain supplications quoted from Imam Zayn al‑`Abidin `Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn `Ali ibn Abi-±alib (a.s). Al‑¯ahifah al-Sajjadiyah is a profound social work and a reflection of a supreme endeavor to meet the exigencies of spiritual ordeals facing the society at the time of the Imam. Beyond this, it is a profound collection of supplications in the divine tradition, a unique compilation which will remain throughout ages, a gift to humankind, a work of moral inspiration for worldly conduct and a torch of guidance. Human begins will constantly remain in need of this heavenly souvenir; and the need increases whenever Satan comes to increase the allurements of the world for people. It is finally called ‘the Psalms of Islam’.