I was in the middle of writing an article on the supplication of Rajab when my good colleague from the seminary Ali Safdari informed me he had already written one on the topic. His article was published today here. Please read the article before reading mine, as in this paper I am only adding a few additional points and as well as a few observations I have on some parts of his arguments.
Firstly, as Safdari mentions in his paper, the source for the famous supplication of Rajab recited after every prayer is Iqbāl al-A‘māl of Sayyid Ibn Tawus (d. 664 AH).
من الدّعوات کلّ یوم من رجب ما ذکره الطّرازی أیضاً فقال دعاء علّمه أبو عبد الله ع محمّدا السجّاد و هو محمّد بن ذکوان یعرف بالسجّاد. قالوا: سجد و بکا فی سجوده حتى عمی. أَبُو الْحَسَنِ عَلِیُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ الْبُرْسِیُّ رَضِیَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنَا الْحُسَیْنُ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ شَیْبَانَ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا حَمْزَةُ بْنُ الْقَاسِمِ الْعَلَوِیُّ الْعَبَّاسِیُّ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عِمْرَانَ الْبَرْقِیُّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِیٍّ الْهَمْدَانِیِّ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنِی مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ سِنَانٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ السَّجَّادِ فِی حَدِیثٍ طَوِیلٍ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لِأَبِیعَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع جُعِلْتُ فِدَاکَ هَذَا رَجَبٌ عَلِّمْنِی دُعَاءً یَنْفَعُنِی اللَّهُ بِهِ قَالَ: فَقَالَ لِی أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع: اکْتُبْ: بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِیمِ وَ قُلْ فِی کُلِّ یَوْمٍ مِنْ رَجَبٍ صَبَاحاً وَ مَسَاءً وَ فِی أَعْقَابِ صَلَوَاتِکَ فِی یَوْمِکَ وَ لَیْلَتِکَ: یَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِکُلِ خَیْرٍ وَ آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ کُلِّ شَرٍّ یَا مَنْ یُعْطِی الْکَثِیرَ بِالْقَلِیلِ یَا مَنْ یُعْطِی مَنْ سَأَلَهُ یَا مَنْ یُعْطِی مَنْ لَمْ یَسْأَلْهُ وَ مَنْ لَمْ یَعْرِفْهُ تُحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً أَعْطِنِی بِمَسْأَلَتِی إِیَّاکَ جَمِیعَ خَیْرِ الدُّنْیَا وَ جَمِیعَ خَیْرِ الْآخِرَةِ وَ اصْرِفْ عَنِّی بِمَسْأَلَتِی إِیَّاکَ جَمِیعَ شَرِّ الدُّنْیَا وَ شَرِّ الْآخِرَةِ فَإِنَّهُ غَیْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ مَا أَعْطَیْتَ وَ زِدْنِی مِنْ فَضْلِکَ یَا کَرِیمُ.
قَالَ: ثُمَّ مَدَّ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع یَدَهُ الْیُسْرَى فَقَبَضَ عَلَى لِحْیَتِهِ وَ دَعَا بِهَذَا الدُّعَاءِ وَ هُوَ یَلُوذُ بِسَبَّابَتِهِ الْیُمْنَى
ثُمَّ قَالَ بَعْدَ ذَلِکَ: یَا ذَا الْجَلَالِ وَ الْإِکْرَامِ یَا ذَا النَّعْمَاءِ وَ الْجُودِ یَا ذَا الْمَنِّ وَ الطَّوْلِ حَرِّمْ شَیْبَتِی عَلَى النَّارِ وَ فِی حَدِیثٍ آخَر: ثُمَّ وَضَعَ یَدَهُ عَلَى لِحْیَتِهِ وَ لَمْ یَرْفَعْهَا إِلَّا وَ قَدِ امْتَلَأَ ظَهْرُ کَفِّهِ دُمُوعاً.
According to the above entry by Sayyid Ibn Tawus, this supplication was taught by Imam Ṣādiq (a) to Muḥammad b. Dhakwān, popularly known as al-Sajjād because he would prostrate and weep so much in his prostrations that he lost his sight. The complete chain of transmission is:
Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. Muḥammad al-Bursī, from al-Ḥusayn b. Aḥmad b. Shaybān, from Ḥamzah b. al-Qāsim al-‘Alawī al-‘Abbāsī, from Muḥammad b. ‘Abdillah b. ‘Imrān al-Barqī, from Muḥammad b. ‘Alī al-Hamdānī, from Muḥammad b. Sinān from Muḥammad al-Sajjād.
As mentioned by Ali Safdari, this specific entry says this supplication is meant to be read after every prayer in the month of Rajab, and he summarizes it as follows:
- The Imam (a) commands the narrator to write the first segment and dictates it to him
- After the dictation, he holds his beard and moves his finger reciting the first segment
- After supplicating with the first segment in that condition he recites the second segment
I agree with the first two points, but I believe the third point regarding the second segment of the supplication is not accurate. Popularly in our communities, we recite the first segment, and then the beard is held while the finger is swayed as the second segment is recited, whereas according to the above report – and as Safdari also argues – it is apparent that from the report that the Imam (a) held his beard and swayed his finger from the very beginning of the supplication. The reason for why the current method has become popular in our communities is most likely due to the way it has been recorded (mistakenly) in Zād al-Ma‘ād1 of ‘Allāmah Majlisī (d. 1110 AH) which was specifically written for the masses and was for a long time a work similar to Mafātīḥ al-Jinān of today. I say that this was a mistake, because ‘Allāmah Majlisī records this same narration in Biḥār al-Anwār2 and Mirāt al-‘Uqūl3 and it is rendered in accordance with the version of al-Iqbāl.
This is while it is more than likely that the second segment, in fact, has nothing to do with the supplication of Rajab, rather it is a completely separate supplication the Imam (a) made altogether. To demonstrate this, first let us look at this supplication as recorded in an earlier work, which is a lengthier version. The entry of Sayyid Ibn Tawus above also affirms that the original report is longer and that it had been excised from a lengthy narration (فِی حَدِیثٍ طَوِیلٍ). It seems this is a reference to the supplication as recorded in Rijāl al-Kashshī by Muḥammad b. ‘Umar al-Kashshī (d. 4th century hijri) as follows:
طَاهِرُ بْنُ عِیسَى الْوَرَّاقُ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ أَیُّوبَ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِی أَبُو الْحَسَنِ صَالِحُ بْنُ أَبِی حَمَّادٍ الرَّازِیُّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْحُسَیْنِ بْنِ أَبِی الْخَطَّابِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ زَیْدٍ الشَّحَّامِ قَالَ: رَءَانِی أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ (ع) وَ أَنَا أُصَلِّی فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَیَّ وَ دَعَانِی فَقَالَ لِی: مِنْ أَیْنَ أَنْتَ؟ قُلْتُ: مِنْ مَوَالِیکَ. قَالَ فَأَیُّ مَوَالِیّ قُلْتُ مِنَ الْکُوفَةِ. فَقَالَ مَنْ تَعْرِفُ مِنَ الْکُوفَةِ قُلْتُ بَشِیرَ النَّبَّالِ وَ شَجَرَةَ. قَالَ: وَ کَیْفَ صَنِیعَتُهُمَا إِلَیْکَ فَقَالَ مَا أَحْسَنَ صَنِیعَتَهُمَا إِلَیّ. قَالَ: خَیْرُ الْمُسْلِمِینَ مَنْ وَصَلَ وَ أَعَانَ وَ نَفَعَ. مَا بِتُّ لَیْلَةً قَطُّ وَ لِلَّهِ فِی مَالِی حَقٌّ یَسْأَلُنِیهِ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: أَیُّ شَیْءٍ مَعَکُمْ مِنَ النَّفَقَةِ؟ قُلْتُ: عِنْدِی مِائَتَا دِرْهَمٍ. قَالَ: أَرِنِیهَا. فَأَتَیْتُهُ بِهَا فَزَادَنِی فِیهَا ثَلَاثِینَ دِرْهَماً وَ دِینَارَیْنِ ثُمَّ قَالَ: تَعَشَّ عِنْدِی. فَجِئْتُ فَتَعَشَّیْتُ عِنْدَهُ. قَالَ: فَلَمَّا کَانَ مِنَ الْقَابِلَةِ لَمْ أَذْهَبْ إِلَیْهِ فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَیَّ فَدَعَانِی منْ غده فَقَالَ: مَا لَکَ لَمْ تَأْتِنِی الْبَارِحَةَ؟ قَدْ شَفَقْتَ عَلَیَّ؟ فَقُلْتُ: لَمْ یَجِئْنِی رَسُولُکَ. قَالَ: فَأَنَا رَسُولُ نَفْسِی إِلَیْکَ مَا دُمْتَ مُقِیماً فِی هَذِهِ الْبَلْدَةِ. أَیُّ شَیْءٍ تَشْتَهِی مِنَ الطَّعَامِ؟ قُلْتُ: اللَّبَنَ. قَالَ: فَاشْتَرَى مِنْ أَجَلِی شَاةً لَبُوناً.
قَال: فَقُلْتُ لَهُ عَلِّمْنِی دُعَاءً. قَالَ: اکْتُبْ: بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِیمِ، یَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِکُلِ خَیْرٍ وَ آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ کُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ، یَا مَنْ یُعْطِی الْکَثِیرَ بِالْقَلِیلِ وَ یَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ سَأَلَهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً، یَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ لَمْ یَسْأَلْهُ وَ لَمْ یَعْرِفْهُ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَهْلِ بَیْتِهِ، وَ أَعْطِنِی بِمَسْأَلَتِی إِیَّاکَ جَمِیعَ خَیْرِ الدُّنْیَا وَ جَمِیع خَیْرِ الْآخِرَةِ فَإِنَّهُ غَیْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ لِمَا أَعْطَیْتَ وَ زِدْنِی مِنْ سَعَةِ فَضْلِکَ یَا کَرِیمُ.
ثُمَّ رَفَعَ یَدَیْهِ فَقَالَ: یَا ذَا الْمَنِّ وَ الطَّوْلِ یَا ذَا الْجَلَالِ وَ الْإِکْرَامِ یَا ذَا النَّعْمَاءِ وَ الْجُودِ ارْحَمْ شَیْبَتِی مِنَ النَّارِ. ثُمَّ وَضَعَ یَدَهُ عَلَى لِحْیَتِهِ وَ لَمْ یَرْفَعْهَا إِلَّا وَ قَدِ امْتَلَأَ ظَهْرُ کَفِّهِ دُمُوعاً.
Ṭāhir b. ‘Īsa – the paper merchant – who said: narrated to us Ja‘far b. Aḥmad b. Ayyūb who said: narrated to me Abū al-Ḥasan Ṣāliḥ b. Abī Ḥammād al-Rāzī from Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn b. Abī al-Khaṭṭāb from Muḥammad b. Sinān from Muḥammad b. Zayd – the oil merchant (al-Shaḥḥām) – who said:
Abū ‘Abdillah (a) saw me while I was praying [in the Masjid] so he sent for me and called me [to come to him], then he said to me: from Where [i.e. tribe] are you? I said: From among your Mawālī (clients) [i.e. Shia], he said: Which Mawālī of mine? I said: From Kufa, he said: Whom do you know in Kufa? I said: Bashīr al-Nabbāl and Shajarah, he said: How are their actions (i.e. dealings with you)? I said: How exemplary (i.e. good) are their actions towards me!, he said: The best of the Muslims is the one who joins (relations), and supports (needy), and benefits (others), not a night passes except there is for Allah in my wealth a right (portion) which He will ask me about.
Then he said: What do you have of sustenance? I said: I have two hundred Dirhams, he said: Show them to me, so I gave them to him, so he added to it thirty Dirhams and two Dinars for me, then he said: You will lodge with me (at night), so I came and slept at his place, so when it was the next night I did not go to him, so he sent for me and called me to him, and said: What happened with you? Why did you not come to me yesterday? Did you feel afraid of (burdening) me?, I said: Your messenger did not come to me, he said: Then I am the messenger of my own self to you as long as you are a resident in this town (i.e. Medina), what do you desire of food? I said: milk, he (Muḥammad) said: So he bought for me a dairy sheep.
Then I said to him: Teach me a supplication, he said: Write down – In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful, O He who I hope in for every good, and am safe from at every lapse, O He who gives much for less, O he who gives the one who asks Him – out of His affection and mercy, O He who gives the one who does not ask him and is ignorant of him, send your salutations upon Muhammad. Give me, for my request is only to You alone, All the good of this world and all the good of the Hereafter. For indeed it is not diminishing what is given by You. Increase (for) me from Your bounty, O The Generous.
Then he raised his hands and said: O the Gracious and the Mighty, O the Sublime and the Distinguished, O the Bountiful and the Magnanimous, have mercy on my grey hair from the Fire. Then he put his hand to his beard and did not remove them until his outer palm was filled with tears.4
Without analyzing the complete chain of transmitters, in this version, Imam Ṣādiq (a) teaches the supplication to a Muḥammad b. Zayd al-Shaḥḥām (note the similarity with the name Muḥammad al-Sajjād) who then transmits it to Muḥammad b. Sinān.
In this version, the Imam teaches Muḥammad al-Shaḥḥām the supplication by asking him to write it down, but there is no mention of the Imam repeating the supplication while holding his beard and moving his finger. The narrator then says the Imam (a) raised his hands and recited a second segment, but there is no indication that this is a continuation of the first segment, in fact it is more apparent that this is a separate supplication altogether that the Imam (a) was reciting in that moment. Muḥammad al-Shaḥḥām says after this second segment was recited, then the Imam (p) put his hand on his beard and began weeping.
The name Muḥāmmad b. Zayd al-Shaḥḥām is most likely a scribal error for Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-Sajjād, as ‘Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Ṭabarsī (d. 600 AH) records in his Mishkāt al-Anwār5 when citing the first portion of this narration. Both al-Iqbāl and al-Kashshī’s versions are being transmitted by Muḥammad b. Sinān, and in the entry of Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-Sajjād in Rijāl al-Ṭūsī we read:
محمد بن زیاد السجاد الغزال، کوفی، روى عنه محمد بن سنان
Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-Sajjād al-Ghazzāl, Kufan, Muḥammad b. Sinān narrated from him.6
The name Muḥammad al-Sajjād in al-Iqbāl is therefore correct, but the author claiming that this figure was Muḥammad b. Dhakwān instead of Muḥammad b. Ziyād is also most likely another scribal error or a lapse in judgement. ‘Allāmah Ṭustarī believes this was a scribal error for Muḥammad b. Ziyad.7
In conclusion, the narration of al-Iqbāl and al-Kashshī are both the same narration, by the same Kufan named Muḥammad b. Ziyād al-Sajjād who then transmitted this incident to Muḥammad b. Sinān. Both versions indicate that the Imam (a) asked Muḥammad al-Sajjād to write down the supplication, but al-Iqbāl’s version says that the Imam (a) himself then recited it while holding his beard and moving his finger. This specific description is absent from al-Kashshī’s version.
Thereafter, both versions say that the Imam (a) recited another supplication and it appears this was a separate supplication altogether which he (a) recited while in the moment, and after completing this supplication he held on to his beard and wept with tears. In both versions, there is nothing that indicates that the Imam (a) held his beard and swayed his finger when reciting this second segment.
There are also some minor discrepancies in the text of the supplications in the two different sources, and they will be briefly alluded to in the next section of this article.
Moving on to other versions of this supplication, a third version exists in al-Kāfī as follows:
عنه [یعنی احمد بن محمد بن خالد البرقی] عَنْ بَعْضِ أَصْحَابِهِ عَنْ حُسَیْنِ بْنِ عُمَارَةَ عَنْ حُسَیْنِ بْنِ أَبِی سَعِیدٍ الْمُکَارِی وَ جَهْمِ بْنِ أَبِی جَهْمَةَ عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ رَجُل مِنْ أَهْلِ الْکُوفَةِ کَانَ یُعْرَفُ بِکُنْیَتِهِ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لِأَبِی عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع عَلِّمْنِی دُعَاءً أَدْعُو بِهِ. فَقَالَ: نَعَمْ قُلْ یَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِکُلِ خَیْر وَ یَا مَنْ آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ کُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ وَ یَا مَنْ یُعْطِی بِالْقَلِیلِ الْکَثِیرَ یَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ سَأَلَهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً یَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ لَمْ یَسْأَلْهُ وَ لَمْ یَعْرِفْهُ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِی بِمَسْأَلَتِی مِنْ جَمِیعِ خَیْرِ الدُّنْیَا وَ جَمِیعِ خَیْرِ الْآخِرَةِ فَإِنَّهُ غَیْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ مَا أَعْطَیْتَنِی وَ زِدْنِی مِنْ سَعَةِ فَضْلِکَ یَا کَرِیم.
It is narrated from him (Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Khālid al-Barqī) from certain individuals of his people from Ḥusayn b. ‘Umārah from Ḥusayn b. Abī Sa‘īd al-Mukārī and Jahm b. Abū Jahmah from Abū Ja‘far – a man from al-Kufa who was known by his teknonym – who has said the following:
“Once I asked Abū ‘Abdillah (a) to instruct me with a supplication with which I can pray to Allah. The Imam agreed and told me to say, ‘O the One who is my hope in all that is good, O the One whose anger is not feared (in certain cases) in every mistake, O the One who grants a great deal for very little, O the One who gives to whoever asks Him for help out of compassion and kindness, O the One who gives to those who do not even ask for help and do not even know Him, grant favours upon Muhammad and his family, bestow upon me for my plea all the good of the world and the hereafter; what You have given me already is not just a little and increase for me from Your vast generosity, O the Magnanimous One.’”8
Shaykh Kulaynī (d. 329 AH) places this supplication in the chapter titled: Concise Supplications for Worldly Needs and the Hereafter. Although in this narration the Imam (a) is also teaching the supplication to a man from Kufa, this seems to be a different incident and a different person. It is also not restricted to the month of Rajab, rather it seems to be a very generic supplication.
Note that this version does not contain the second segment of the supplication, which further indicates that it is not part of the same supplication and was a separate supplication that the Imam (a) made.
A fourth version of the supplication exists in Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid of Shaykh Ṭūsī (d. 460 AH) in three places; twice in the context of a supplication to be recited on Friday for one’s needs and once in the context of a supplication to be made for being blessed with a child,9 with some textual discrepancies with the previous three versions.
The version recorded for the day of Friday is being cited from a tradition of Imam Riḍā (a) in which the Imam (a) speaks of supererogatory prayers (nawāfil) to be recited on Friday: six units in the early morning and thereafter six units and then again six units, and then two units after noon (zawāl), 20 units in total. In between every two units, Shaykh Ṭūsī himself seems to be suggesting that a person should recite one of the supplications of Imam Sajjād (a) after every two units of prayers.
After the fifth prayer (10th unit), this is the supplication10 recommended to be recited:
ثُمَّ تَقُومُ فَتُصَلِّي الرَّكْعَتَيْنِ الْخَامِسَةَ وَ تَقُولُ بَعْدَهُمَا يَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِكُلِ خَيْرٍ وَ يَا مَنْ آمَنُ عُقُوبَتَهُ عِنْدَ كُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ وَ يَا مَنْ يُعْطِي الْكَثِيرَ بِالْقَلِيلِ وَ يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى الْكَثِيرَ بِالْقَلِيلِ وَ يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ سَأَلَهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً وَ يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ لَمْ يَسْأَلْهُ وَ مَنْ لَمْ يَعْرِفْهُ وَ مَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِهِ تَفَضُّلًا مِنْهُ وَ كَرَماً صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِي بِمَسْأَلَتِي إِيَّاكَ مِنْ جَمِيعِ خَيْرِ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ فَإِنَّهُ غَيْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ مَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَ زِدْنِي مِنْ فَضْلِكَ إِنِّي إِلَيْكَ رَاغِبٌ وَ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ الْأَوْصِيَاءِ الْمَرْضِيِّينَ بِأَفْضَلِ صَلَوَاتِكَ وَ بَارِكْ عَلَيْهِمْ بِأَفْضَلِ بَرَكَاتِكَ وَ السَّلَامُ عَلَيْهِ وَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَ عَلَى أَرْوَاحِهِمْ وَ أَجْسَادِهِمْ وَ رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَ بَرَكَاتُهُ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ اجْعَلْ لِي مِنْ أَمْرِي فَرَجاً وَ مَخْرَجاً وَ ارْزُقْنِي حَلَالًا طَيِّباً وَاسِعاً مِمَّا شِئْتَ وَ أَنَّى شِئْتَ وَ كَيْفَ شِئْتَ فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَكُونُ إِلَّا مَا شِئْتَ حَيْثُ شِئْتَ كَمَا شِئْتَ
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ وَ اجْعَلْ لِي قَلْباً طَاهِراً وَ لِسَاناً صَادِقاً وَ نَفْساً سَامِيَةً إِلَى نَعِيمِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ اجْعَلْنِي بِالتَّوَكُّلِ عَلَيْكَ عَزِيزاً وَ بِمَا أَتَوَقَّعُهُ مِنْكَ غَنِيّاً وَ بِمَا رَزَقْتَنِي قَانِعاً رَاضِياً وَ عَلَى رَجَائِكَ مُعْتَمِداً وَ إِلَيْكَ فِي حَوَائِجِي قَاصِداً حَتَّى لَا أَعْتَمِدَ إِلَّا عَلَيْكَ وَ لَا أَثِقَ إِلَّا بِك
After the eighth prayer (16th unit), this is the supplication11 recommended to be recited:
ثُمَّ تُصَلِّي رَكْعَتَيْنِ وَ تَقُولُ بَعْدَهُمَا يَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِكُلِّ خَيْرٍ وَ آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ كُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ يَا مَنْ يُعْطِي الْكَثِيرِ بِالْقَلِيلِ يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ سَأَلَهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ لَمْ يَسْأَلْهُ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْهُ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِي بِمَسْأَلَتِي إِيَّاكَ جَمِيعَ سُؤْلِي مِنْ جَمِيعِ خَيْرِ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ فَإِنَّهُ غَيْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ مَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَ اصْرِفْ عَنِّي شَرَّ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ يَا ذَا الْمَنِّ وَ لَا يُمَنُّ عَلَيْهِ يَا ذَا الْجُودِ وَ الْمَنِّ وَ الطَّوْلِ وَ النِّعَمِ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِي سُؤْلِي وَ اكْفِنِي جَمِيعَ الْمُهِمِّ مِنْ أَمْرِ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ
The third place this supplication is mentioned is in the section of supplications for being blessed with a child. Shaykh Ṭūsī says a supplication is recorded which is to be recited after one of the six units of supererogatory prayers for the day of Friday after noon. After the second prayer, this supplication12 is to be recited:
التَّسْلِيمَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ يَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِكُلِّ خَيْرٍ وَ آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ كُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ يَا مَنْ يُعْطِي الْكَثِيرَ بِالْقَلِيلِ يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ سَأَلَهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَ رَحْمَةً يَا مَنْ أَعْطَى مَنْ لَمْ يَسْأَلْهُ وَ لَمْ يَعْرِفْهُ تَفَضُّلًا مِنْهُ وَ جُوداً صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِي بِمَسْأَلَتِي إِيَّاكَ خَيْرَ الدُّنْيَا وَ الْآخِرَةِ وَ اصْرِفْ عَنِّي شَرَّهُمَا وَ زِدْنِي مِنْ فَضْلِ رَحْمَتِكَ فَإِنَّهُ غَيْرُ مَنْقُوصٍ مَا أَعْطَيْتَ يَا ذَا الْمَنِّ فَلَا يُمَنُّ عَلَيْهِ يَا ذَا الْفَضْلِ وَ الْجُودِ وَ الْمَنِّ وَ النِّعَمِ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَعْطِنِي سُؤْلِي وَ اكْفِنِي مَا أَهَمَّنِي مِنْ أَمْرِ دُنْيَايَ وَ آخِرَتِي
The versions recorded in al-Miṣbāḥ are not related to the supplication of Rajab, and they seem to be a slightly different rendition of the supplication. This is very common in the du‘ā’ literature as many supplications have similar wordings in some segments and very different wordings in some other segments. This in fact shows that the supplication with this wording is a generic request to Allah (swt) that can be made at any time, as also understood from the entry in al-Kāfī.
The only narration that links this supplication to the month of Rajab is the one in al-Iqbāl, otherwise, neither al-Miṣbāḥ records this in the section of Rajab, neither al-Kāfī’s version makes mention of Rajab and neither does the narration in al-Kashshī. How did Sayyid Ibn Tawus’ version end up linking this report – on the assumption that it is the same report as al-Kashshī’s – to the month of Rajab and that it is to be recited after every prayer?
Sayyid Ibn Tawus is reporting this tradition from Kitāb al-Du‘ā’ wa al-Ziyārah of Muḥammad b. ‘Alī al-Ṭarāzī. Although we know close to nothing about the latter, it is estimated that he was from the generation of Shaykh Najāshī (d. 463 AH).13 The only reference to the contents of his book is Sayyid Ibn Tawus’ citations from it. Was the report excised by Sayyid Ibn Tawus himself or someone else? Has transmission through meaning (naql bil ma‘na) occurred in al-Kashshī such that the narrator forgot to include the relevance of Rajab or a narrator engaged in speculative reasoning by choosing to omit the mention of Rajab as they did not see its relevance to the incident and the prescribed supplication? Or on the contrary, did someone engage in speculative reasoning in al-Iqbāl’s version by linking the report to Rajab? Perhaps someone thought that since the narrator was Kufan, and it was common for Kufans to travel to Hejaz during the Hajj season and as well as for ‘Umrah al-Mufradah particularly in the month of Rajab, that this incident most likely happened then.
It is difficult to determine due to lack of further contextual clues, and the possibility of transmission through meaning is far more likely than the theory of someone assuming it must have been a Kufan being present in Medina during Rajab and adding those details to the text, but nevertheless, the supplication seems to be a highly recommended supplication to be read for the fulfillment of one’s needs. As such we find the version in al-Kāfī being transmitted in an absolute manner, Shaykh Ṭūsī recording it from different citations in the context of fulfilling one’s needs, and both al-Kashshī and al-Iqbāl’s version also emphasize the theme of getting one’s needs fulfilled.
I don’t want to write about all the minor discrepancies in the texts of the supplication as recorded in the different versions. There are a number of them, for example, al-Kashshī, al-Kāfī and al-Miṣbāḥ all record the phrase as follows:
آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ کُلِّ عَثْرَةٍ
While the version in al-Iqbāl says:
آمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ کُلِّ شَرٍّ
There are other discrepancies as well, but I want to focus on the following phrase from the second segment:
حَرِّمْ شَیْبَتِی عَلَى النَّارِ
Prohibit my white hair upon the fire.
This is how it has been recorded in Sayyid Ibn Tawus’ al-Iqbāl and this is how it is popularly recited as well. However, in al-Kashshī the phrase says:
ارْحَمْ شَیْبَتِی مِنَ النَّارِ
Have mercy on my white hair from the fire.
The phrase in al-Kashshī is more accurate and in line with what was commonly used by the elderly during supplication or as a proverb. The word shaybati (literally: my whitish-grey hair) is a figurative word referring to one’s old age. Consider its use in the following transmissions:
i) Imam Sajjād (a) in Supplication #53 says:
إرْحَمْ شَيْبَتِي، وَنَفَادَ أَيَّامِي
Have mercy on my white hair, the depletion of my days.14
ii) In a report attributed to Imam ‘Alī (a) in Fiqh al-Riḍā it says:
ارْحَمْ ضَعْفِي وَ شَيْبَتِي مِنَ النَّارِ يَا كَرِيم
Have mercy on my weakness and my white hair from the fire, O Noble One.15
iii) In a report from Fayḍ b. al-Mukhtār where he converses with Imam Ṣādiq (a), he says to the Imam (a):
فأمسك عني، فقبّلت ركبته وقلت: ارحم شيبتي، فإنما هي النار، إني والله لو طمعت أن أموت قبلك ما باليت ولكني أخاف أن أبقى بعدك.
He (a) kept silent and turned aside from me. I kissed his (a) knee and said to him (a): “Be merciful to my old age! It is Hell that I fear. By Allah, if I know that I die before you, I will never mind, but I fear that I live after you.”16
Given the second segment is not part of the supplication, there is no reason to assume this line is relevant for everyone, including children and the young. The second segment was said by the Imam (a) on his own accord while being overwhelmed in the moment and he (a) recited words that were appropriate for his (a) own context, seeking the Mercy of Allah (swt) which is appropriate with his age. In fact, the Prophetic narration Safdari cites itself shows that there is a special consideration and degree of Mercy that Allah (swt) shows towards the elderly, and hence the Imam (a) is asking for that specific Mercy to be bestowed upon him. With this, such a supplication would have no meaning if the young were to utter this phrase as not only are they not old, they are also not deserving of that specific Mercy which is meant for elders.
Swaying of the Right Index Finger
Regarding the holding of the beard and swaying of the finger, it seems Safdari has assumed this behaviour is unique to the recitation of this supplication. For this reason, he has resorted to explaining a preliminary regarding the nature of worship, their submissive aspect, and their symbolic nature. Further, as he has also assumed the second segment to be a continuation of the first segment and he cites the reference to the white beard in the second segment as evidence for the fact that the Imam (a) continued to hold his beard and sway his finger, he has to explain how the entire supplication – including the statement about the white hair – can still be recited by children and the young without white hair; in other words, anyone who is not of old age.
I argue what the Imam (a) was doing when holding his beard and swaying his figure was one of the practices conducted during many supplications. In other words, this act is not unique, relevant or restricted to this specific supplication of Rajab. In volume 2 of al-Kāfī there is a chapter titled: Al-Raghbah (Fondness), al-Rahbah (Anxiety), al-Taḍarru‘ (Imploration), al-Tabattul (Sincerity), al-Ibtihāl (Appealing), al-Isti‘ādha (Begging for refuge), al-Mas’alah (Requesting).17
From the few narrations in this chapter, what we learn are some of the etiquettes of supplicating. The swaying of the right index finger is known as taḍarru‘, which signifies the imploring of Allah (swt). In other words, what the Imam (a) does while reciting the two segments was not unique to this supplication such that the behaviour has to be understood in a submissive manner that everyone should try and imitate while reading this specific supplication, rather this behaviour is from the general recommended etiquettes in which Allah (swt) is to be implored. We find references to this act of taḍarru‘ in a few other reports as well:
i) In a narration in which the Imam Ṣādiq (a) teaches a person a prayer and supplication for the fulfillments of needs, it says:
ثُمَّ تَرْفَعُ رَأْسَكَ وَتَمُدُّ يَدَكَ وَتَقُولُ أَرْبَعِينَ مَرَّةً ثُمَّ تَرُدُّ يَدَكَ إِلَى رَقَبَتِكَ وَتَلُوذُ بِسَبَّابَتِكَ وَتَقُولُ ذَلِكَ أَرْبَعِينَ مَرَّةً ثُمَّ خُذْ لِحْيَتَكَ بِيَدِكَ الْيُسْرَى وَابْكِ أَوْ تَبَاكِ
…Raise thereafter your head, stretch your hands and say the above forty times. Then place your hand on your thigh and seek refuge with your index finger (i.e. move it) and say the above forty times. Then hold your beard with your left hand, weep or make a weeping face…18
ii) In a narration from ‘Abd al-Ṣamad b. Bashīr from Muṣādif who comes to Imam Ṣādiq (a) and tells him about how a group of extremists have called out the talbīya in Kufa claiming Imam Ṣādiq (a) as their Lord. The Imam (a) drops into prostration, touching his chest to the ground, crying. The narration then says:
وَ أَقْبَلَ يَلُوذُ بِإِصْبَعِه
He (a) began to seek refuge (by moving) his finger.19
The reports in al-Kāfī show that this is a general etiquette prescribed for supplications. Any other narration regarding a particular supplication in which an Imam (a) or Prophet (p) is described as moving their finger, or even holding their beard, merely shows they were acting on those etiquettes, not that the behaviour has any specific relevance to that specific supplication.
In conclusion, I wish to summarize some of the key points of this article:
1. The supplication popularly read after every prayer in the month of Rajab has two segments. The first segment of the supplication is a famous supplication prescribed for the general fulfillment of one’s needs, and in Ibn Tawus’ entry, it has been linked to the month of Rajab. The second segment is most likely not part of this supplication, rather it was a supplication the Imam (a) recited in front of the companion while he (a) was overwhelmed by his imploration and appeal to Allah (swt). This is also in line with the description of the Imam (a) weeping and his palms filling with tears.
2. It seems the Imam (a) recited the first segment of the supplication (and as well as the second segment, which is a separate supplication altogether) while holding his beard and swaying his finger. This behaviour is not unique to this supplication, rather it is from one of the recommended etiquettes of reciting any supplication. The Imam (a) also did not give any such command to the narrator to recite the supplication in this way, he (a) did not ask the narrator to write it down either, rather it was an observation that the narrator made of how the Imam (a) himself was reading it.
3. Given that the second segment is not part of the supplication, rather a separate supplication altogether, then due to its reference to the white beard and seeking the Mercy of Allah (swt) granted and reserved for the elderly, then this phrase is better suited to be recited by those who are elderly and vulnerable. This is similar to supplications that are specifically prescribed for certain individuals who are in specific contexts or require a certain specific need to be fulfilled – such as supplications for help in repaying debts, or supplications upon completing the reading of the Qurān, or supplications when one is sick, or supplication for one’s parents or children and so on.
And Allah Knows Best.
- Zād al-Ma‘ād, pg. 16.
- Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 95, pg. 390.
- Mirāt al-‘Uqūl, vol. 12, pg. 459.
- I would like to thank Br. Ammar for providing this translation.
- Mishkāt al-Anwār, pg. 106.
- Rijāl al-Ṭūsī, pg. 283.
- Qāmūs al-Rijāl, vol. 9, pg. 260.
- Al-Kāfī, vol. 2, pg. 584.
- Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid, vol. 1, pg. 379
- Ibid., pg. 353.
- Ibid., pg. 356.
- Ibid., pg. 379.
- Al-Dharī‘ah of ‘Allāmah Buzurg Tihrānī, vol. 8, pg. 195
- Supplication #53 regarding abasing himself before God.
- Fiqh al-Riḍā, pg. 141.
- Al-Ghaybah, of Nu‘mānī, pg. 325.
- The entire chapter in English can be accessed here.
- Al-Kāfī, vol. 3, pg. 476
- Rijāl al-Kashshī, pg. 298.