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Exposition of a Supplication Relating To Imam Mahdi (A.S)

This supplication begins thus

It has been recorded by the eminent traditionalist, Shaykh Abbas Qummi (r.a.), in his renowned compilation, 'Mafatihul Jinaan'. He has reported this invocation on the authority of Shaykh Kafami from the latter's 'Misbahul Mutahajjid'. It is recommended that this supplication be recited after every obligatory namaaz or for that matter at any other time. (This supplication is mentioned in 'Mafatihul Jinaan' before the fifteen supplications of Imam Sajjad (a.s. )). Considering the veracity of this supplication, and with an eye on brevity, we have not mentioned the chain of transmitters.

A supplication generally commences by invoking Allah as in 'Allahumma , which means 'O Allah'. The very next word arzokna' , means grant us sustenance. The word sustenance is by and large associated with food and succour. However, this word is also used to imply bounties associated with both this world, as well as the hereafter. In other words, any bounty, aid, assistance, etc., granted by Allah is dubbed as 'razk' and this could be in the guise of 'taufeeq' to perform some action or it could be some monetary benefit or an increase in knowledge and recognition (ma'refat). Granting sustenance is the exclusive domain of Allah as He Himself mentions in the Quran "Surely Allah is the bestower of sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong.' (Chapter of Zariyat, verse 58)

The word 'huva' that precedes 'arrazko' is an added emphasis on Allah's prerogative in granting sustenance to man. This declaration affirming Allah's sovereignty in the matter of succour in the very beginning of this invocation is an admission of man's absolute helplessness and dependence on Allah. (It must be noted that the Quran alludes to others also like responsiblity for granting sustenance. However, these can only perform this duty with permission and assistance from Allah and are by no means His associates.)

It is pertinent to note what Imam Mahdi (a.s.) has beseeched from Allah, under the heading of 'arzokna'. And what Imam (a.s.) has sought under the heading 'arzokna'. 'Tawfeeq' is derived from 'Vafq', which means to reform or to rectify. It also means success and fruition. This is again the undisputed right of Allah as expounded in chapter of Hud, verse 88.

"And with none but Allah is the direction of my affair to the right issue."

Thus all success, honour and accomplishment is directly attributed to Allah's assistance and aid. Then, one who wishes to advance in this world as well as the hereafter, must constantly entreat Allah. 'Taufeeq'; plays a crucial role in the performance of actions. For instance, there could be a youth, strong and capable, who is unable to perform a simple action due to lack of 'taufeeq', while a man twice his age may perform an even more formidable task, like say praying Namaze Shab in severe wintry conditions, with 'taufeeq' from Allah' side. However, it is relevant to note that Allah never acts impulsively. His actions are governed by perfect wisdom and reasoning. In other words, Allah will never grant man 'taufeeq' without some cause. And this cause that draws 'taufeeq' is intention (neeyah). And that is why traditions elucidate this concept thus;

'Taufeeq is in proportion with intention.'

'At-ta'a' means an attraction, inclination or preference towards someone or something. It is commonly used to denote submission, obedience or compliance. In this supplication 'At-ta'a' implies obedience of Allah's commands and edicts. Indeed, submission to Allah is the key to man's problems relating to the world, and the hereafter.

Submission to Allah's commands, is a precursor to man's success, stifles social disputes, wards off Allah's wrath, grants man honour and dignity and averts evil. Then one who obeys Allah's commands will accept death matter-of-factly. He will show urgency in performing all obligatory acts. However, regrettably, today we see the Muslims evading obligatory deeds. Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) protests against this strange trait thus, "When their God invites them (towards goodness) they flee and abscond. But when Satan entices them they heed his call with urgency and rush towards him.' (Nahjul Balaga, sermon 166)

One must never forget that all bounties are a direct consequence of our obedience to Allah, for nothing can be achieved without His satisfaction. Subservience to the Almighty gains precedence over all other actions. ,

"And help us abstain from sin and disobedience." Verily abstinence from sins is among Allah's greatest bounties. Disobedience is a result of 'asa'. 'Kazalan' means that Allah abandons the servant and deprives him of His bounties;

i.e. He does not care about him. And this only adds to man's depravation and debasement. A Muslim when he sins not only disobeys Allah, but also infringes upon the rights of the Prophet and his progeny (a.s.). That is why Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) declares, 'Undoubtedly the friend of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the one who obeys Allah, even if he bears no blood ties with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). And the antagonist of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the one who defies Allah even while he boasts of blood ties with the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).'

(Nahjul Balaga sermon 96)

Indeed man's behaviour is astonishing. For he evinces urgency in responding to the call of this world, that only invites him to trials, tribulations and misery.

"And inculcate sincerity in my intentions".

Intention is the foundations of all our actions and in fact, the latter are a consequence of the former. An unwavering intention can subdue the weakness of the body. That is why traditions declare, 'The believer's intention surpasses his action and the disbeliever's intention surpasses his action."

In this supplication Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) beseeches Allah to purify his intentions from all blemishes like ostentation, vainglory, pride, disbelief, etc. Such a level of purity in our intention is crucial, for actions are accepted by Allah only if our intention is unfettered with such blemishes; else regardless of the effort, our actions will never be acknowledged by Allah. Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) proclaims, 'If one is sincere in his intentions, then Allah will multiply manifold his sustenance."

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) also declares, "One who has pure intentions will experience serenity in his heart. For the heart can only get tranquillity from actions that are performed for Allah's sake alone." Insincere intentions deprive man of his sustenance, hurl him into tribulations and seize 'barakat' from him.

'Irfan' and 'Marefat' imply recognition and comprehension. 'Al Horma' means all those things that are prohibited by the Islamic Shariat. In this supplication, Imam (a.s.) implores Allah to help him recognise the forbidden actions, so that he may exercise restrain in this regard. For surely among the signs of the intellect is that the person abstains from prohibited deeds, especially consuming impure food by which blood is produced in the body. Hence when a Muslim eats what is forbidden by the Shariat, the angels in the heavens and the earth curse that person.

Moreover, worship on a stomach filled with prohibited food, is akin to a house that is built on water. To the extent that traditions pronounce that a person who forsakes a morsel of prohibited food will get reward that exceeds that of two thousand recommended (mustahhab) units of namaz. But this abstinence is possible only if man can clearly identify the prohibited actions. Then one who abstains from the forbidden deeds while he is having the ability and inclination, then Allah will avert from him the fire of Hell and grant him entry in Paradise.

'And grant us honour through guidance and Steadfastness.'

Verily the best guidance is that of Allah. So critical is guidance that Allah has not delegated it to anyone and has kept this responsibility with Himself. In fact, Allah tells the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the chapter of Qasas, verse 57, "(O Prophet) surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases."

Then if guidance is with Allah, how does man go about acquiring it? Who are the ones fortunate enough to receive it and the wretched who are deprived of it? There are certain actions the performance of which invoke Allah's guidance and mercy, viz.,

a) belief in Allah,
b) piety,
c) repentance and contrition,
d) abstinence from sins,
e) endeavours in the way of Allah,
f) adherence to the Islamic Shariat,
g) concern and regard for religion,
h) patience and fortitude,
i) certitude,
j) sincere intentions,
k) consultation,
l) frequent remembrance of Allah,
m) acquisition of knowledge,
n) obedience of the Imams (a.s.).

On the other hand there are certain actions that repel Allah's mercy and guidance viz.,

a) Injustice - be it on others, or on oneself by way of sins
b) Disbelief and apostasy
c) Transgression and unrestraint in the matter of sins
d) Extravagance
e) Falsehood
f) To accede to one's desires
g) To act without any ma'soom Imam's leadership.
h) Doubt and scepticism (after certitude)

Steadfastness connotes following the right path, the path of guidance, as opposed to that of deviation and misguidance, as it is mentioned in the first chapter of Quran thus, 'Keep us on the right path.' And the chapter of Hud, verse 112 "Remain steadfast as you have been commanded." Steadfastness and uprightness are among the distinctive features of a believer. Allah has given glad tidings to those who observe fortitude and Steadfastness in their affairs. In fact this is the best means of leading one's life. Then one who wishes to succeed in the world and the hereafter must embrace these characteristics. For as Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) declares,

'One who is steadfast shall get Paradise, but the one who is afflicted with doubt and disbelief shall get the fire.' (Nahjul Balaga, sermon 119)

Only after being graced by Allah with Steadfastness and guidance can one truly comprehend the meaning of the word 'Akrimna' which means, 'honour us'. For surely One who is blessed by Allah with these two traits will find honour and esteem in the eyes of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.). 'Direct our tongues to speak truthful and prudent discourses.'

Here 'sawab' means to enjoin upon the right path and 'alsanah' means tongues. 'saddad' means honest and rightful discourses, while 'hikmat' means reflections and talks marked with wisdom and discernment.

A man's tongue plays a crucial role in moulding his personality. Which is why Ameerul Mo'mineen (a.s.) proclaims, 'The tongue determine man's worth.'

Just as a woman's grace and beauty is reflected in her visage, a man's character is (disguised) in his tongue. Indeed the tongue is the root of all goodness and evil. A man can never achieve steadfastness in his character unless he first observes this trait in his speech. That is why Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) exhorts us to guard our tongues with the same judiciousness with which we safeguard gold and silver. In fact in this lies the security of man. For this little piece of flesh used with abandon can cause damage more severe and destructive than swords and lances. Hence we must beseech Allah to help us guard our tongues so nothing comes forth from it but guidance and wisdom.

We must observe a lot of discretion and caution in our speech. As Ameerul Mo'mineen has put it 'The wise man's tongue is hidden behind his intellect, while a fool's intellect is hidden behind his tongue.' (Nahjul Balaga, saying 40).

'And pervade our hearts with knowledge and recognition.'

Indeed knowledge and recognition are such profound concepts that to do justice to them in this short exposition is well-nigh impossible. The great traditionist, Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.) has discussed knowledge, recognition and intellect in over two volumes of his celebrated work 'Behaarul Anwaar'. To put it briefly, the Imams (a.s.) have enjoined acquisition of knowledge upon every Muslim man and woman. In fact few other things in Islam have been emphasised with such vehemence by the Imams (a.s.). Despite all these exhortations Muslims today cut a sorry figure steeped in ignorance and regression. And this state of ignorance among his Shias pains Imame Asr (a.t.f.s.) more than anything else.

Our responsibility then, is not only to acquire knowledge, but to disseminate it. Now as far as recognition is concerned, it can only be achieved by strictly adhering to the commands of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as far as obligatory and recommended, prohibited and abominable actions are concerned. And it is important that we always recite the following invocation:

'O Allah, help us recognise ourselves, for surely if we fail to recognise ourselves, we can never recognise Your Prophet. O Allah, help us recognise Your Prophet, for surely if we fail to recognise Your Prophet we can never recognise Your Proof (Imame Asr). O Allah, help us recognise Your Proof, for surely if we fail to recognise Your Proof we shall be deviated from Your religion.'

'And purify our bellies from impure and unclean food.'

The unclean food that finds its way in our bellies is deemed impure on the basis of two criteria; first, it is either obtained from unlawful livelihood or from a livelihood on which khums has not been paid. Second, either the food by itself is impure or it has been acquired from an unclean person. For instance, if one acquires some foodstuff from an unbeliever that has been made unclean with the latter's sweat. Such impure food once consumed sows seeds of rebellion against the Almighty. That is why as mentioned earlier one who forsakes a morsel of prohibited food will get reward that exceeds that of two thousand recommended (mustahhab) units of namaz.

Apart from the effect on our spirituality, impure food has far reaching repercussions on our issues. The impure blood that flows in their veins incites them to revolt against Allah. However, we often find Muslims, especially Indian Muslims, who are negligent about this aspect and advance lame excuses like, it is not possible for any person living in this country to totally avoid unclean food!! Of course that is not true. We find instances wherein a doctor strongly recommends, say a non-vegetarian patient from eating mutton.

The patient actually adheres to the doctor's recommendations and completely stops consuming mutton. If man can go to such lengths to preserve this temporal body, then he should make a more concerted effort for success in the eternal life in the hereafter, and he should constantly endeavour to attain Allah's satisfaction. In this regard it is sufficient to say that impure food is a cause for repudiation of all our prayers and supplications and a means of Imam's displeasure.

'And withhold our hands from injustice and theft.'

Adapted from the book: "Waiting and Responsibility"

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