Commentary on Munajaat (Whispered Prayer) of Imam Ali (as) – Part 1

(This post, and the ones to follow, are part of a series of lectures undertaken by his Eminence Sheikh Habib Al Kadhemi on the importance of supplications in general, and this particular one recited during the Holy month of Sha’ban)

It is common knowledge to read these munajaat, as it is distinguished as a prayer of Imam Ali and his progeny, who used to supplicate with it during the month of Sha’ban. And those who contemplate and are aware on the heritage of Ahlul Bayt (as), note that it reflects wonderful knowledge and concepts essential to our day-to-day lives, which are second-to-none amongst prominent muslims, let alone others. However, it is unfortunate, that these supplications have been abused, in so far as they’ve been reduced to mere recitations devoid of meditation and reflection, which is an essential consequence of following and emulating them.

It is interesting to note that these munaajat begin with salawaat on the Prophet (s): (O Allah bless Muhammad and his family), and this is in reference to the reported mustahabb (recommended) prayer on the Prophet (s) before the supplication and after, since God Almighty is greater than to respond to the two ends and neglect the middle, as is understood from known hadith.

Then the Imam (as) continues by saying: (respond to my prayer when I pray to You; listen to my call when I call You; and turn to me when I make my submission to You in confidence): While the mu’min may pray to Allah with these noble words, and these inspirational phrases, in addition to feelings of destitution (poverty, need), humbleness and submissiveness, however if the doors were locked, and Allah Almighty shunned His slave, not hearing his call.. What is the point of all this?! .. So, the believer needs a serious effort when knocking on these doors – and this is exactly what the Imam (AS) is doing here – for the doors need to open first, then he initiates his requests secondly.

It is at this stage for those who want their supplications to be heard, let alone get a  response, to avoid anything that might obscure his voice, and prevents Allah Almighty from turning to him, and to do what ensures God’s attention to his slave.

What divine abandonment to the call of a servant looks like:

* Extreme drowsiness and laziness when approaching religious obligations – As in the words of Imam Sajjad (AS), in du’a Abu Hamza Al Thumali: (O’ Lord! I, whenever I thought I was prepared and ready and rose to pray, before Your hands, and confided to You, You cast sleep on me when I prayed..). This state of laziness and apathy, is a sign of divine expulsion.

* Prevention of concentration during munajaat – Where our imam also says (and You prevented me from confiding to You when I confided). Yes, on the face of it he is calling on God Almighty, but there is no real supplication, since his heart is busy and focused on anything but God Almighty.

* Befalling him with misfortune – Safety from falling into sin by God Almighty, is one of the great blessings to a believer, and indicates entry into divine mercy. But man may do what would be the cause of losing this blessing, and this is when he falls into sin, which reveals the reality of his weakness, and lack of sincerity in his call for nearness. And the Imam refers to this, where he says: (Why is it that whenever I felt content about the goodness of my core, and my companionships have neared that of the repentants, a sin would occur and cause my feet to stumble, and deprive me from Your service, Oh my Master..).

Then Imam Sajjad (AS) in his supplication of Abu Hamza Al Thumali lists some of the causes of this expulsion, he says (as): (Maybe You have expelled me from Your door, and retired me from Your service, or maybe You observed my disregard of Your right on me and thus distanced me..) – A man who commits a sin in ignorance, and does not insist on it, he is – without doubt – under the protection of Divine Mercy. But the problem lies with he who is ignorant of and careless about sin, is defiant of the commands of God Almighty, and a transgressor of boundaries; then this would be a cause for reproach and severe punishment, as Allah says: {And when it is said to him, guard against (the punishment of) Allah; pride carries him off to sin, therefore hell is sufficient for him; and certainly it is an evil resting place.}.

Hence, it is said that divine forgiveness in cases of predominance of desire, is closer than in the event of heightened anger, due to the difference between subduing force in the two cases, since in the second case, despite the fact the angry person has crossed his normal state, yet he is still aware of the transgression of the limit of God.

(Or maybe You saw me headed away from (Your path) and thus You withdrew me..): God Almighty – by His grace and generosity – may bless His servant with a delicious meal as a sign of acceptance, but this ignorant servant does not appreciate the blessings bestowed upon him by Allah, so he involves himself in every idle and void action, which necessitates a severe deprivation (from blessings). That is why the awliya’ of Allah Almighty, even though they live in a state of joy and grant during the time of blessings, but always feel concerned, as the devil is always on the lookout .. It is therefore very appropriate to seek refuge after performing good deeds, because Satan is keen to challenge the children of Adam!

(Or maybe You found me to be in the position of the liars so You rejected me) – He who wants to be close to God Almighty, yet his actions necessitate distance from His Exalted Self, should he not be called a liar?! And likes of him, who pledges to God repentance, yet soon stumbles and betrays the Lord of the Worlds. Truth be told, that were it not for the mercy and forgiveness of Almighty God, it would have been appropriate to punish the slave everyday for uttering this phrase: {Thee do we worship and Thine aid we seek}, while his heart is pre-occupied with Omar and Zaid and other matters that perish!

(Or maybe You saw that I was not grateful of Your rewards so You deprived me) – The painful truth is that man, busy in the midst of everyday life, forgets to be grateful his Lord Almighty, that true gratefulness, not merely words on tongues! It is here that we are told about a narration of the Imam (as) that he would initiate into prostration, immediately after remembering a certain blessing, even if in an inappropriate place – like on the road, the reason being, that delaying it does not fit the place of God Almighty and remembering His creation.

(Or maybe You observed my absence from the assembly of the scholars and thus put me down) – The expression ‘assembly of scholars’ is not limited to the meaning of a present audience, but is a general meaning that includes everything that would have an effect or impact on the human being, like different (audible, visual and written) cultures; so he who distances himself from this (recommended assembly), will be subject to divine abandonment.

(Or maybe You found me to be one of the unheeding so You despaired me from Your mercy, or maybe You found me frequenting the assembly of the unfaithful, so between me and them You deserted me) – Being satisfied with the presence of the heedless and those who don’t contribute anything useful to society, and the feeling of nostalgia for their absence, will necessitate (divine) abandonment. For this reason, the believer, when forced to socialize with such people, should only be present physically, and not with his Spirit. This is to avoid the negative effects of such social intercourse.

(Or maybe You did not like to listen to my prayers so You distanced me) – It is necessary for a person to improve self-vigilance in all his affairs – be they large or small – he does not see any sin as insignificant, since perhaps it is the one that will cause him to perish; and does not see any obedience as insignificant, since perhaps it the one that will save him; and does not see a waliy of Allah Almighty as insignificant, since perhaps this is the waliy who causes God to anger for his anger.

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