'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 2 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Dua al-Iftitah is a well-known supplication and is generally recited during each night of the month of Ramadan. 

The second theme which is repeated in this du'a regards salutations being offered to the Noble Prophet (s) and His Household (a) and when such salutations are mentioned, then several qualities of the Noble Prophet (s) are described. Some of the qualities of the Prophet's Household in general are also briefly mentioned but when the 12th Imam (a) is described, several of his qualities are referred to. The du'a continues in this spirit of remembrance of the 12th Imam (a) with various requests being made to Allah (swt) regarding the last Imam right up until the end of the du'a where the emphasis then shifts to asking Allah (swt), because of the Imam (a), to grant us our requests concerning what we need for our community.

Regarding the Prophet (s), we read:
اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ عَبْدِكَ وَرَسُولِكَ
وَامِينِكَ وَصَفِيِّكَ وَحَبِيبِكَ
وَخِيَرَتِكَ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ
وَحَافِظِ سِرِّكَ
وَمُبَلِّغِ رِسَالاَتِكَ
It is interesting to see that the very first quality which has been mentioned here for the Noble Prophet (s) is that he is a servant of Allah (swt)...

...According to this part of the du'a, salutations can increase and expand. When we send salawat (salutations) or salaam (peace) to the Noble Prophet (s) and our Imams (a), we do not send our salutations or peace directly but instead we ask Allah (swt) Himself to send them these salutations and peace. Indeed salaam is a prayer and so we are asking Allah (swt) to send peace to that person.

Thus we say:

اللّهُمّ صَلّ عَلَى مُحَمّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمّدٍ
'O Allah! Send salutations to Muhammad (s) and his Household.'

And so when we ask Allah (swt) Himself to send salutations, such salutations are not limited to the time when we say them: rather, we can ask Allah (swt) to send salutations all the time. Therefore, we read in one of the Ziyaaraat for Imam Husayn (a):

عَلَيْكُمْ مِنِّي جَمِيعاً سَلاَمُ ٱللَّهِ ابَداً
مَا بَقيتُ وَبَقِيَ ٱللَّيْلُ وَٱلنَّهَارُ
'Be with you, from me, the peace of Allah (swt) as long as I live and (even if I am not alive) as long as there is day and night.' 
[Tusi, Misbaah al-Mutahajjid, p. 776]

So this means that we request Allah (swt) to send His peace to Imam Husayn (a) until the end of time. So, again we have this beautiful concept that the salaam does not remain in the same state but grows and becomes better and better.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 1 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Dua al-Iftitah is a well-known supplication and is generally recited during each night of the month of Ramadan. It is called 'Dua al-Iftitah' because it begins with:
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي افْتَتِحُ ٱلثَّنَاءَ بِحَمْدِكَ
Thus we say that we begin or open praising Allah (swt) by remembering all the great qualities that He (swt) possesses and all the many favours that He (swt) has bestowed upon us.

There are several points that have been emphasized in this du'a, the first and foremost of which is praise of Allah (swt). Praising God the Almighty is perhaps the most important thing mentioned in this du'a. Obviously praising Allah (swt) is not the same as thanking Him (swt). There is a difference between hamd (praising) and shukr (thanksgiving). Praising Allah (swt) requires remembering and mentioning the good qualities that He (swt) possesses and all the good things that He (swt) has done for us, whether they relate to oneself personally or not. However, thanksgiving is about those things that in a way or another actually relate to oneself.

For example, an artist may produce a beautiful work of art and then someone who sees this work of art may praise the artist but would not thank the artist, unless the work had been produced specifically for this person or for someone who relates to this person. Therefore, in general, when Allah (swt) does something good for other people, or even other creatures such as animals, we can praise Him (swt) for this. Indeed the performance of an action by Him (swt) is not even necessary in order to praise Him (swt) as we can praise Him (swt) simply for the qualities He (swt) possesses.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Teachers of the Angels Part 2 of 2

Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani quoting Shaykh Saduq

After that Allah created Adam (a.s.) and entrusted our effulgence to his loins and due to our respect and honor ordered the angels to prostrate before him. Their prostration was due to their servitude of God and their respect and honor to His Eminence, Adam (a.s.) was due to His obedience. Because we were in his lions, then why shouldn't we be superior to the angels, as all of them prostrated before His Eminence, Adam (a.s.).
And when I was taken to the heavens, His Eminence, Jibraeel (a.s.) recited the Azan and Iqamah twice and told me, ‘O Muhammad go ahead and lead the Prayers’, I said: ‘O Jibraeel, should I take precedence over you?’ ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘because god had given superiority to all prophets over the angels and endowed you with a special excellence’. Thus, I stood in the front and prayed with him. But I do not say this due to pride.
After that I reached up to the veil of effulgence and His Eminence, Jibraeel (a.s.) said, ‘Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), now you go ahead,’ and he himself remained there. I said, ‘You are leaving me at this juncture?’ He replied, ‘O Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) this is the limit that Allah has fixed for me, if I take a step forward my wings will burn down.’ Thus I was put into the ocean of effulgence and I began to swim in the seas of divine lights. Till I reached at that place in the cosmos up to which Allah desired.
Then a voice came to me, ‘O Muhammad.’ I said: ‘Here I am My Lord, You the Bestower of honor and dignity.’ ‘Muhammad, you are My servant, My messenger among My creatures, You are My Proof upon My servants. I have created Paradise for everyone who obeys you and prepared the fire of Hell for all those who oppose you. I have made favors and honor incumbent upon Me for your successors, and made divine rewards incumbent for their Shias.’
I said, ‘My Lord, please introduce my successors to me.’ He said, ‘Your successors are those whose names are inscribed on the empyrean of My throne.’ So I looked and I was before my Lord. I saw twelve lights on the empyrean of the throne. In each light I saw a green line. The names of each of my successors were written in it. The first name was that of Ali Ibne Abi Talib and the last was Mahdi.
I asked, ‘O my Lord, are they my successors after me?’ The reply was, ‘Yes, O Muhammad, after you, they are My friends, legatees, the chosen ones and My proof on My servants. They are your successors and Caliphs and the best of Creations after you. By My majesty and glory, I shall reveal My religion through them and I shall exalt My words through them and through the last of them, I shall purify the earth from My enemies. And I shall make him the absolute master of the whole world. I shall make the wind subservient to his command and I shall make the hard cloud proof for him so that he may ride upon it to go wherever to likes in the sky and the earth and I shall assist him with My armies. And I shall strengthen him with My angels. So that My call is raised and all the creatures gather upon My Oneness. Thus his rulership would endure and continue and from My friends, I shall make one after the other the leaders of My faith till Qiyamat. And Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and blessings be upon our prophet, Muhammad and his purified and chaste progeny.’”

[Mikyalul Makarim Fee Fawaaid ad-Duaa Lil Qaaim; Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani, quoting Kamaluddin wa Tamaam an-Ni’mah; Shaykh Saduq; Vol. 1/254]

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Teachers of the Angels Part 1 of 2

Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani quoting Shaykh Saduq

Shaykh Sadooq has quoted an authentic tradition from His Eminence, Ali bin Moosa ar-Reza (a.s.) from his father, Moosa bin Ja’far from his father, Ja’far bin Muhammad from his father Muhammad bin Ali from his father Ali bin al-Husain from his father, Husain bin Ali from his father Ali bin Abi Talib that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
“The Almighty Allah has not created any creature better than me and there is no one more respectable near Him than me.”
Ali (a.s.) says that he asked, “O Allah’s Messenger, are you better or Jibraeel?”
He (the Prophet) replied, “O Ali, Almighty Allah has given superiority to the Messenger Prophets over His proximate angels and He gave me superiority over all the Messengers and Prophets. And O Ali, after me you and after youthe Imams are having superiority over them because the angels of God are our servants and servants of our friends. O Ali, the bearers of the Arsh and the angels around it praise and glorify their Lord and they pray for the forgiveness of those who believe in your Wilayat (mastership). O Ali, if we hadn’t been there, Almighty Allah would neither have created His Eminence, Adam (a.s.) nor Her Eminence, Hawwa (a.s.); neither Paradise nor Hell, neither the earth nor the sky.
And why shouldn’t we be superior to the angels? We have preceded them in praising and glorifying our Lord. It is so because the first creations of Allah were the souls and He made us speaking with His unity and magnification.Then He created the angelsWhen they saw us with an effulgence (Noor), they considered our affair to be of a great importance.
I said: ‘Glory be to Allah’, so that the angels may understand that we are creatures and servants of God. And that the Almighty Allah is more exalted and purified than our qualities. So by our glorification the angels learnt how to glorify Allah and they understood that God is purified and clean of qualities (of the creatures).
And when they noticed our greatness and majesty, we said: ‘There is no god except Allah’, so that the angels may understand that there is no one worthy of deification except Allah and that we are the servants of God, we are not partners in His divinity. Thus they (also) reiterated: ‘There is no god except Allah.’
When the angels realized our greatness we said: ‘Allah is the Greatest’, so that they may understand that God is much greater than which can be imagined and all the greatness, power and strength is reserved only for God.
After that when they saw that Allah has bestowed us with honor and power, we said: ‘There is no power and strength except by Allah, the High and the great’, so that the angels may understand that there is no power and might except for Allah. Thus the angels also repeated: ‘There is no power and strength except by Allah.’
When they witnessed the bounties that Allah has bestowed on us and that our obedience is made incumbent on all creatures by Him, we said: ‘AlHamdulillaah’ (Praise be to Allah) so that the angels may know that it is the right of Allah upon us to thank Him for His bounties. So the angels also said: ‘Al Hamdulillaah’.
In other words, the angels received guidance through our Barakat, and understood the unity, glorification, praise and magnification of God.
[Mikyalul Makarim Fee Fawaaid ad-Duaa Lil Qaaim; Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani, quoting Kamaluddin wa Tamaam an-Ni’mah; Shaykh Saduq; Vol. 1/254]