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A Shi'a Anthology

AL-HUSSAIN (A.S), THE THIRD IMAM

Prayer for the Day of Arafah


 

 

Praise belongs to God

whose decree none may avert,

and whose gift none may prevent.

No fashioner's fashioning is like His fashioning,

and He is the Generous, the All-embracing.

He brought forth the varieties of unprecedented creatures

and perfected through His wisdom all He had fashioned.

Hidden not from Him are harbingers,

nor lost with Him are deposits.2

He repays every fashioner,

feathers the nest of all who are content 

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1. See Shi'ite Islam, pp. 210-11.

 

2. Cf. Quran LXXIII, 20: "And lend to God a good loan. Whatever good you shall forward to your soul's account, you shall find it with God as better, and mightier a wage." 

 

and has mercy upon all who humble themselves.

He sends down benefits

and the all-encompassing Book

in radiant light.

He hears supplications,

averts afflictions,

raises up in degrees,

and knocks down tyrants.

For there is no god other than He,

nothing is equal to Him,

"Like Him there is naught,

and He is the Hearing, the Seeing" (XLII, 11),

the subtle, the Aware,

and "He is powerful over all things" (V, 120 etc.).

O God, I make Thee my quest

and bear witness to Thy Lordship,

acknowledging that Thou art my Lord

and to Thee is my return.1

Thou originated me by Thy blessing before I was a thing remembered.2

Thou created me from dust,

then gavest me a place in the loins (of my fathers),

secure from the uncertainty of Fate and the vagaries of

the ages and the years.

I remained a traveller from loin to womb in a time

immemorial of past days

and bygone centuries.

In Thy tenderness, bounty and goodness toward me Thou

didst not send me out into the empire of the

leaders of disbelief, those who broke Thy

covenant and cried lies to Thy messengers.3

Rather, Thou sentest me out to that guidance which had

been foreordained for me, the way which

Thou madest easy for me 

____________

1. Cf. Quran XL, 43. In another place, using a different root form for the verb "return", the Quran says in one of the verses most often heard in the Islamic world, "Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return" (II, 156).

 

2. Cf. Quran LXXVI, 1: "Has there come on man a while of time when he was a thing unremembered?"

 

3. The sin of breaking God's covenant is often described in the Quran. For example, "Such as break the covenant of God after its solemn binding ... they shall be the losers." (II, 27). And "Crying lies to the messengers" is often mentioned as a major sin of past nations, e.g., "And the people of Noah, when they cried lies to the Messengers ..." (XXV, 37). 

 

and in which Thou nurtured me.

And before that Thou wert kind to me through Thy

gracious fashioning

and abundant blessings.

Thou originated my creation from a sperm-drop spilled1

and madest me to dwell in a threefold gloom among flesh,

blood and skin.2

Thou gavest me not to witness my creation,3

nor didst Thou entrust me with anything of my own affair.

Then thou sentest me out into the world for the guidance

that had been foredained for me, complete

and unimpaired.

Thou watched over me in the cradle

as an infant boy,

provided me with food,

wholesome milk,

and turned the hearts of the nurse-maids toward me.

Thou entrusted my upbringing to compassionate mothers,

guarded me from the calamities brought by the jinn

and kept me secure from excess and lack.

High art Thou, O Merciful! O Compassionate!

Then when I began to utter speech

Thou completed for me Thy abundant blessings.

Thou nurtured me more and more each year

until, when my nature was perfected

and my strength balanced,

Thou madest Thy argument encumbent upon me by

inspiring me with knowledge of Thee,

awing me with the marvels of Thy wisdom,

awakening me to the wonders of Thy creation which Thou

hadst multiplied in Thy Heaven and Thy earth,4

and instructing me in Thy thanks and remembrance. 

____________

1. Cf. Quran LXXV, 36-37: "What, does man reckon he shall be left to roam at will? Was he not a sperm-drop spilled? ..."

 

2. Reference to Quran XXXIX, 6: "He created you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, in a threefold gloom."

 

3. Cf. Quran XVIII, 52: "I made them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor their own creation ..."

 

4. Cf. Quran XVI, 13: "And that which He has multiplied for you in the earth of diverse hues. Surely in that is a sign for a people who remember." 

 

Thou madest encumbent upon me Thy obedience and

worship,

madest me to understand what Thy messengers had

brought

and madest easy for me the acceptance of Thy good

pleasure.

Thou wast gracious to me in all of this, through Thy

succour and kindness.

Then, since Thou created me from the best soil,1

Thou wert not satisfied, my God, that I should have one

blessing without another.

Thou provided me with varieties of sustenance

and kinds of garments

and Thy tremendous, most tremendous, graciousness

to me

and Thy eternal goodness toward me.

And finally, when Thou hadst completed for me every

blessing

and turned away from me all misfortunes,

Thou wert not prevented by my ignorance and audacity

from guiding me toward that which would bring me nigh

to Thee

or from giving me success in that which would bring me

close to Thee.

For if I prayed to Thee Thou answered,

if I asked of Thee Thou gavest,

if I obeyed Thee Thou showed Thy gratitude,

and if I thanked Thee Thou gavest me more.2

All of that was to perfect Thy blessings upon me and

Thy goodness toward me.

So glory be to Thee; Glory be to Thee,

who are Producer and Reproducer,3 Laudable,

Glorious.

Holy are Thy Names and tremendous Thy bounties.

So which of Thy blessings, my God, can I enumerate by counting

and mentioning? 

____________

1. Reference to the Imam's descent from the Prophet. Cf. the first selection from 'Ali above (p.29).

 

2. Cf. Quran XIV, 7: "And when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks, I will give you more ...".

 

3. Cf. Quran XXX, 11: "God produces creation, then He reproduces it, then unto Him you will be returned." Also XXIX, 19; XXX, 27. 

 

For which of Thy gifts am I able to give thanks?

Since they, O Lord, are more than reckoners can count1

or those who entrust to memory can attain by knowledge.

But the affliction and hardship, O God, that Thou turned

and averted from me

is more than the health and happiness that came to me.

And I witness, my God, by the truth of my faith,

the knotted resolutions of my certainty,

my pure and unadulterated profession of Unity,

the hidden inwardness of my consciousness,

the places to which the streams of light of my eyes

are attached,

the lines on my forehead's surface,

the openings for my breath's channels,

the parts of my nose's soft point,

the paths of my ears' canals,

what my lips close upon and compress,

the movements of my tongue in speaking,

the joint at the back of my mouth and jaw,

the sockets of my molar teeth,

the place where I swallow my food and drink,

that which bears my brain,

the hollow passages of my neck's fibers,

that which is contained in my breast's cavity,

the carriers of my aorta,

the places where my heart's curtain2 is attached,

the small pieces of flesh around my liver,

that which the ribs of my sides encompass,

the sockets of my joints,

the contraction of my members,

the tips of my fingers,

my flesh,

my blood,

my hair,

my skin,

my nerves,

my windpipe,3 

____________

1. Cf. Quran XIV, 34 and XVI, 18: "And if you count God's blessing, you will never number it."

 

2. The "curtain of the heart" (hijab al-qalb) is the pericardium.

 

3. The windpipe is not mentioned in some editions of Mafatih al-jinan. 

 

my bones,

my brain,

my veins,

and all of my members,

what was knitted upon them in the days when I was

a suckling baby,

what the earth has taken away from me,

my sleep,

my waking,

my being still,

and the movements of my bowing and prostrating,

that had I taken pains and had I striven

for the duration of the epochs and ages

were my life to be extended through them

to deliver thanks for one of Thy blessings,

I would not have been able to do so,

except by Thy grace, which alone makes encumbent

upon me never-ending and ever renewed

gratitude to Thee,

and fresh and ever present praise.

Indeed, and were I and the reckoners among Thy

creatures ever so eager

to calculate the extent of Thy bestowal of blessings,

whether past

or approaching,

we would fail to encompass it through numbers

or to calculate its boundaries.

Never How could it ever be done!

For Thou announcest in Thy eloquent Book

and truthful Tiding,

"And if you count God's blessing, you will never

number it" (XIV, 34).

Thy Book, O God, Thy Message, has spoken the

Truth!

And Thy prophets and messengers delivered Thy

revelation that Thou hadst sent down upon

them

and the religion that Thou hadst promulgated for them

and through them.

And I witness, my God, by my effort, 

 

my diligence,

and the extent of my obedience and my capacity,

and I say as a believer possessing certainty,

"Praise belongs to God,

who has not taken to Him a son"

that He might have an heir,

"and who has not any associate in His dominion"

who might oppose Him in what He creates,

"nor any protector out of humbleness" (XVII, 111)

who would aid Him in what He fashions.

So glory be to Him,

glory be to Him!

"Why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than

God,

they would surely go to ruin" (XXI, 22) and be rent.1

Glory be to God, the Unique, the One,

"the Everlasting Refuge" who "has not begotten, nor

has He been begotten,

and equal to Him there is none" (CXII, 2-4).

Praise belongs to God,

praise equal to the praise of the angels stationed near to Him

and the prophets sent by Him.

And God bless His elect, Muhammad,

the Seal of the Prophets,

and his virtuous, pure and sincere household, and give

them peace.

 

Then he began to supplicate. He occupied himself with prayer as tears ran from his blessed eyes. Then he said:O God, cause me to fear Thee as if I were seeing Thee,2

 

give me felicity through piety toward Thee,

make me not wretched by disobedience toward Thee,

choose the best for me by Thy decree (qada')

and bless me by Thy determination (qadar),

that I may love not the hastening of what Thou hast

delayed, 

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1. Cf. Quran XIX, 88-91: "And they say, 'The All-merciful has taken unto Himself a son.' You have indeed advanced something hideous!. The heavens are wellnigh rent of it and the earth split asunder, and the mountains wellnigh fall down crashing for that they have attributed to the All-merciful a son ...".

 

2. In the famous hadith concerning ihsan or "spiritual virtue" it is said that "Spiritual virtue is that you should worship God as if you were seeing him, and if you see Him not, He nonetheless sees thee." 

 

nor the delaying of what Thou hast hastened.

O God, appoint for me sufficiency in my soul,

certainty in my heart,

sincerity in my action,

light in my eyes,

and insight in my religion.

Give me enjoyment of my bodily members,

make my hearing and my seeing my two inheritors,

help me against him who wrongs me,

show me in him my revenge and my desires,

and console thereby my eyes.

O God, remove my affliction,

veil my defects,

forgive my offence,

drive away my Satan,1

dissolve my debt,

and give me, my God, the highest degree

in the world to come and in this world.

O God, to Thee belongs the praise,

just as Thou created me and made me to hear and to

see;

and to Thee belongs the praise,

just as Thou created me and made me a creature

unimpaired

as a mercy to me,

while Thou hadst no need of my creation.

 

My Lord, since Thou created me

and then made straight my nature;

my Lord, since Thou caused me to grow

and made good my shape;2

my Lord, since Thou didst good to me

and gavest me well-being in my soul;

my Lord, since Thou preserved me

and gavest me success;

my Lord, since Thou blessed me

and then guided me;

my Lord, since Thou chosest me

and gavest me of every good;

my Lord, since Thou gavest me to eat 

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1. Cf. Quran XLIII, 36: "Whoso blinds himself to the Remembrance of the All-merciful, to him We assign a Satan for comrade."

 

2. Cf. Quran LXIV, 3: "He shaped you and made good your shapes". See also XL, 64. 

 

and drink;1

my Lord, since Thou enriched me

and contented me;2

my Lord, since Thou aided me

and exalted me;

my Lord, since Thou dothed me with Thy pure covering

and smoothed the way for me by Thy sufficient

fashioning:

Bless Muhammad and the household of Muhammad,

aid me against the misfortunes of time and the

calamities of nights and days,

deliver me from the terrors of this world and the

torments of the world to come

and spare me from the evil of that which the evildoers

do in the earth.

 

O God, as for what I fear, spare me from it,

and as for what I seek to avoid, guard me against it.

in my soul and my religion watch over me,

in my travelling protect me,

in my family and my property appoint for me a

successor,

in what Thou hast provided for me bless me,

in my soul humble me,

in the eyes of men magnify me,

from the evil of jinn and men preserve me,

for my sins disgrace me not,

for my inward secrets shame me not,

for my action try me not,

of Thy blessings deprive me not

and to other than Thee entrust me not.

My God, to whom wouldst Thou entrust me?

To a relative? He would cut me off.

Or to a stranger? He would look at me with displeasure.

Or to those who act toward me with arrogance?

But Thou art my Lord and the sovereign over my affair.

I would complain to Thee of my exile and the

remoteness of my abode,

and that he whom Thou hast made sovereign over me

despises me.

My God, so cause not Thy wrath to alight upon me. 

____________

1. Cf. Quran XXVI, 79: "... who created me, and Himself guides me, and Himself gives me to eat and drink...".

 

2. Cf. Quran LIII, 48: "And that He it is Who enriches and contents." 

 

If Thou becomest not wrathful with me

I will have no care,1 glory be to Thee

But Thy protection is more embracing.

So I ask Thee, O Lord, by the Light of Thy Face by which the

earth and the heavens are illuminated,

shadows are removed,

and the affairs of the ancients and the later folk are

set aright,

not to cause me to die when Thy wrath is upon me,2

nor to send down upon me Thy anger.

The pleasure is Thine

The pleasure is Thine,

to be satisfied with me before that.

 

There is no god but Thou, Lord of the Holy Land,3

the Sacred Monument,4

and the Ancient House,5

upon which Thou caused blessing to descend

and which Thou madest a sanctuary for mankind.6

 

O He who pardons the greatest sins by His clemency!

O He who lavishes blessings by His bounty!

O He who gives abundance by His generosity!

O Sustenance to me in my adversity!

O Companion to me in my solitude!

O Aid to me in my affliction!

O Benefactor to me in my blessing!

O my God

and God of my fathers,

Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob!7

Lord of Gabriel, Michael and Israfil!8 

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1. Some editions add here the phrase "other than Thee".

 

2. Cf. Quran IX, 55: "So let not their possessions or their children. please thee; God only desires thereby to chastise them in this present life, and that their souls should depart while they are unbelievers."

 

3. I.e., Mecca and the land surrounding it.

 

4. The "Sacred Monument", known as Muzdalifah, is the place where the pilgrims spend the night after the day at Arafat. Cf. Quran II, 198: "When you press on from Arafat, remember God by the Sacred Monument."

 

5. I.e., the Ka'bah, called the "Ancient House" in reference to the tradition that it was constructed by Abraham. See Quran XXII, 29 and 33; also XIV, 35-7

 

6. Cf. Quran II, 125: "And when We made the House a resort for mankind and a sanctuary...".

 

7. A further reference to the Prophet's blood descent from the Abrahamic line of prophets.

 

8. Israfil is the angel who according to Islamic tradition blows the trumpet at the time of the Resurrection. 

 

Lord of Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets,

and his household, the chosen ones!

Revealer of the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms and

the Criterion,1

and Sender down of Kaf Ha' Ya' Ayn Sad, Ta' Ha',

Ya' Sin, and the Wise Quran!2

Thou art my cave (of refuge) when the roads for all their

amplitude constrict me

and the land for all its breadth is strait for me.

If not for Thy mercy, I would have been among the

perishing,

and Thou annullest my slip.

If not for Thy covering me,3 I would have been

among the disgraced,

and Thou confirmest me with help against my enemies.4

And if not for Thy helping me, I would have been

among those overcome.5

 

O He who appropriated loftiness and exaltation to Himself,

so His friends (awliya') are mighty through His might!

O He before whom kings place the yoke of abasement

around their necks,

for they fear His overwhelming power!

"He knows the treachery of the eyes and what the

breasts conceal" (XL,19)

and the unseen brought by time and fate.

O He about whom none knows how He is but He!

O He about whom none knows what He is but He!

O He whom none knows but He!

O He who squeezed the earth onto the water and held 

____________

1. The Criterion (al-furqan), is one of the names of the Quran, mentioned several times in its text, such as III, 4 and XXV, I.

 

2. Kaf Ha' Ya Ayn Sad are Arabic letters which appear at the beginning of the chapter of Maryam, Quran XIX. Ta' Ha' and Ya' Sin are also letters appearing at the beginning of Quranic chapters, XX and XXXVI respectively, from which the chapters take their names. "The Wise Quran" is a tide which appears in Quran XXXVI, 2.

 

3. Al-Sattar, "He who covers (faults and sins)", is one of the names of God.

 

4. Cf. Quran III, 13: "God confirms with His help whom He will."

 

5. Cf. Quran III, 160: "If God helps you, none can overcome you." 

 

back the air with the sky!

O He to whom belong the noblest Names!1

O He who possesses kindness which will never be cut off!

O He who assigned the cavalcade to Joseph in the barren

land,

brought him out of the well

and made him a king after slavery!

O He who returned him to Jacob after "his eyes were

whitened with sorrow that he was

suppressing" (XII, 84)2

O He who removed affliction and tribulation from Job3

and restrained Abraham's hands from the sacrifice of

his son after he had reached old age and

his life had passed by!4

O He who answered the prayer of Zachariah

and bestowed upon him John,

not leaving him childless and alone!5

O He who brought Jonah out from the stomach of the

fish!6

O He who parted the sea for the Children of Israel,

then saved them

and drowned Pharoah and his hosts!7

O He who sends winds heralding His mercy!8

O He who does not hurry (to act) against those of His

creatures who disobey Him!9

O He who rescued the sorcerers after (their) long denial!

They had early benefitted from His blessing,

eating His provision

and worshipping other than Him;

they had opposed, denied and cried lies to His 

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1. Akram al-asma'. God's "fairest names" (al-asma' al-husna) are referred to several times in the Quran, such as VII, I80 and XX, 8.

 

2. For the story of Joseph in the Quran see chapter XII.

 

3. Cf. Quran XXI, 83-84 and XXXVIII, 42-45.

 

4. Cf. Quran XXXVII, 102-105 and XIV, 39.

 

5. See Quran XXI, 89-90.

 

6. The story of Jonah and the "fish" is referred to in Quran LXVIII, 48-50.

 

7. Cf. Quran XXVI, 63-66 etc.

 

8. Cf. Quran XXV, 48: "And He it is Who sends the winds, glad tidings heralding His mercy, and We send down purifying water from the sky." See also VII, 57 and XXX, 46.

 

9. Cf. Quran XVIII, 59: "Thy Lord is the Forgiver, Full of Mercy. If He took them to task (now) for what they earn, He would hasten on the doom for them; but theirs is an appointed term from which they will find no escape." 

 

messengers.1

O God!

O God!

O Beginner, O Creator with no compeer!

O Everlasting who has no end!

O Living when nothing was alive!

O Quickener of the dead!2

O "He Who is aware of the deserts of every soul" (XIII,33)!

O He toward whom my gratitude was little,

yet He deprived me not!

My transgression was great,

yet He disgraced me not!

He saw me committing acts of disobedience,

yet he made me not notorious!

O He who watched over me in childhood!

O He who provided for me in my adulthood!

O He whose favors toward me cannot be reckoned and

whose blessings cannot be repaid!

O He who has confronted me with the good and the fair,

and I have confronted Him with evil and disobedience

in return!

O He who led me to faith before I had come to know

gratitude for His gracious bestowal!

O He upon whom I called when I was sick

and He healed me,

when naked

and He clothed me,

when hungry

and He satisfied me,

when thirsty

and He gave me to drink,

when abased

and He exalted me,3

when ignorant

and He gave me knowledge,

when alone 

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1. Reference to the story of Moses and the sorcerers, related several times in the Quran, especially VII, 111-126; XX, 62-73 and XXVI, 36-51.

 

2. A divine Name used in Quran XXX, 50 and XLI, 39.

 

3. Cf. Quran III, 26: "Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt." 

 

and He increased my number,

when away

and He returned me,

when empty-handed

and He enriched me,

when in need of help

and He helped me,

and when rich

and He took not from me.

I refrained from (calling upon Thee in) all of that

and Thou caused me to begin (to call).

Thine are the praise and the gratitude!

O He who overlooked my slip,

relieved my distress,

heard my prayer,

covered my defects,

forgave my sins,

caused me to reach my desire,

and helped me against my enemy!

If I were to count Thy blessings, favors and generous

acts of kindness

I would not be able to reckon them.1 

____________

1. Again reference to Quran XIV, 34 and XVI, 18.

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