Imam al-Hussain and Spirit of Supplication

One of the most important and salient aspects of any religion, including Islam, is supplication and prayers. They are a sacred connection between the servant and the Master, through which the believer’s heart is insulated by the grace and love of the Creator and finds comfort and strength. Though supplication and prayer have different types, such as praise, invocation, plea, curse, litany, dhikr, and loud or quiet prayers, they all serve the purpose of bringing the servant closer to the Creator and granting them His special favor. Imam al-Hussain made fervent supplications on the day of Ashura.

Allah (SWT) commands and encourages His servants to pray to Him for everything they need and share all their thoughts and concerns with Him. There are numerous verses in the Quran that state this matter, such as:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ

And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you;[1]

In another verse Allah the Most compassionate states:

إِذَا سَأَلَک عِبَادِی عَنِّی فَإِنِّی قَرِیبٌ أُجِیبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ

And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me[2]

Furthermore, in a narration from Imam al-Sadiq, peace be upon him, we read:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِالدُّعَاءِ فَإِنَّكُمْ لَا تَقَرَّبُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَ لَا تَتْرُكُوا صَغِيرَةً لِصِغَرِهَا أَنْ تَدْعُوا بِهَا إِنَّ صَاحِبَ الصِّغَارِ هُوَ صَاحِبُ الْكِبَارِ.

Perform prayers and supplications, for there is nothing else that can bring you closer to God like supplication. And do not refrain from praying for something due to the assumption that it is too small and insignificant. For verily, the small prayers are answered by the one who also answers big prayers.[3]

The Objective of Supplication and Prayers

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there is a deep philosophy and objective to supplication, which necessitates its practice for the believer to remain steadfast in their faith. Through the act of prayer and supplication, a training process occurs for the believer, which enables them to better deal with different matters. Moreover, through invoking upon the Lord and stating His divine names and attributes, the believer gains deeper knowledge and understanding of the qualities and names of Allah.

Psychological Benefits of Prayer

There are also numerous psychological benefits to praying and supplicating. By mentioning the blessings of God, beseeching His mercy and power over all things, and asking for His forgiveness, one can develop a great sense of gratitude. Consequently, such prayers can act as words of affirmation which will add to the overall positivity and confidence of the individual because they know that they have a strong and benevolent supporter that will aid them through every adversity and protect them from an ill fate.

Prayers of the Prophets and Infallibles

The significance of prayer and supplication is further proven when we observe different instances where even the prophets and messengers of God and their infallible successors also took refuge in this stronghold during their trials and struggles. Supplication is such a pivotal part of the relationship between the servant and Master that our divine leaders would use it as a resource even during times of comfort and bliss. The Quran narrates numerous occasions when the prophets of God prayed to their Lord for both material and eternal felicity and prosperity.[4]

Prayers and Supplications of the Imams

In addition to the abundant supplications imparted to the public by the Ahlul Bait, peace be upon them, perhaps mostly for education and training, there are also numerous instances where Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Holy Household supplicated and prayed privately or for personal reasons. There are also collections of supplications narrated from the Ahlul Bait to convey the deepest Islamic concepts and the hidden knowledge regarding tawheed to their followers. Some examples of these masterpieces are, without a doubt, al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which is a compilation of Imam al-Sajjad’s supplications and hymns, and al-Sahifa al-Alawiyyah, supplications and prayers narrated from the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a). 

Prayers and Supplications of Imam al-Hussain (a)

As the “Beauty of the Worshippers,” Imam al-Sajjad (a) also used supplication as a tool to inculcate the significance of the events of Karbala and the message of his father, Imam al-Hussain (a), to the world. This was done when the Ahlul Bait were under immense pressure from the regime, and their relations and public preaching were restricted. Furthermore, Imam al-Hussain (a), peace be upon him, also used supplication and dua as mediums throughout his journey from Mecca to Karbala.

It is also worth mentioning that one of the most profound and beautiful supplications reported from his eminence is from a time before the events of Karbala. During a Hajj pilgrimage, Imam al-Hussain (a) graced the pages of spiritual literature with Dua Arafah, a linguistic and intellectual gem filled with the richest Islamic teachings and a splendid manifestation of servitude and love for the Merciful Creator. In addition to Dua Arafah, another valuable heritage the followers of Imam al-Hussain (a) have received is Dua al-Jami’, in which his eminence requests high moral virtues and spiritual excellence from the Almighty. 

Duas and Supplications of Imam al-Hussain (a) in Karbala

As the embodiment of tawheed and the noblest and most pious servants of Allah, it goes without saying that Imam al-Hussain (a) would spend the most climacteric hours of his life in the highest state of awareness and connection with the divine realms. For this reason, history has reported multiple occasions of Imam al-Hussain (a) beseeching his Lord amid the heat of the war. The Imam seized every opportunity to express his undying love for his Master and his absolute submission and satisfaction with the decree of Allah. Furthermore, through supplicating, the Imam embodied the essence of faith and tawakkul and showcased his reliance on Allah and his conviction in the cause he was fighting for.

Imam al-Hussain Prays for Trust and Tawakkul

An example of this is the letter his eminence wrote to his brother Muhammad Hanafiyyah, in which he explained the objective of his movement and ended his statement by repeating the verse:

وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ ‎

And my success lies only with Allah: in Him I have put my trust, and to Him I turn penitently.[5]

Another instance is the Imam’s comment after he delivered a sermon to the enemy’s army. His eminence said:

وَ سَيُغْنِي اللهُ عَنْكُمْ

And Allah will make me needless of you.[6]

Also, during his sermon on the Day of Ashura, Imam al-Hussain (a) once again declared his reliance and trust in Allah by mentioning ayah 56 of Surah Hud:

انّی تَوکلتُ عَلی اللهِ رَبّی و ربُّکُم

I rely on Allah, my Lord, and your Lord.

Duas and Supplications of Imam al-Hussain (a) on the Day of Ashura

It has been narrated from Imam al-Sajjad peace be upon him that on the morning of Ashura, when the enemy’s army began to attack, Imam al-Hussain (a) raised his hands to the skies and recited this supplication:

«اَللّهُمَّ اَنْتَ ثِقَتی فی کُلِّ کَرْبٍ وَ اَنْتَ رَجائی فی کُلِّ شِدَّةٍ، وَاَنْتَ لی فی کُلِّ اَمْرٍ نَزَلَ بی ثِقَةٌ وَ عُدَّةٌ، کَمْ مِنْ هَمٍّ یَضْعُفُ فیهِ الْفُؤادُ وَ تَقِلُّ فیهِ الْحیلَةُ وَ یَخْذُلُ فیهِ الصَّدیقُ وَ یَشْمَتُ فیهِ الْعَدُوُّ، اَنْزَلْتُهُ بِکَ وَ شَکَوْتُهُ اِلَیْک

[O Lord! I depend on you in every affliction and am hopeful of Your blessing in every hardship. In every difficulty with which I am faced, You are my only remedy and resort. There have been many embarrassments which weakened my heart and no remedy for it was available. The friends did not assist me and the enemies rejoiced at my misfortune. However, when I ceased to seek assistance from everyone except You and sought the remedy only from You.[7]

Imam al-Hussain (a) has been reported to have also prayed for his companions, especially when they were blessed with the position of martyrdom. One example is when he received the news about the death of his first ambassador, Qais bin Musahhar:

«اَللّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ لَنا وَ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ نُزُلاً، وَاجْمَعْ بَیْنَنا وَبَیْنَهُمْ فی مُسْتَقَرِّ رَحْمَتِکَ وَ رَغائِبِ مَذْخُورِ ثَوابِک

O Allah, receive them and us in the heavens, and gather them and us in the position of Your mercy, and grant us Your greatest rewards.[8]

In another report regarding his father’s final hours on the Day of Ashura, Imam al-Sajjad states:

On the Day of Ashura, my father came while his body was drenched in blood. He held me in his arms and said, “My son, memorize the supplication my mother Fatimah taught me. My mother has learned it from the Messenger of God and he from Jibril. When you have an important request and are faced with great sorrow and hardship, say:

بِحَقِ‏ یس‏ وَ الْقُرْآنِ‏ الْحَکِیمِ‏ وَ بِحَقِ‏ طه‏ وَ الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِیمِ یَا مَنْ یَقْدِرُ عَلَى حَوَائِجِ السَّائِلِینَ یَا مَنْ یَعْلَمُ مَا فِی الضَّمِیرِ یَا مُنَفِّسُ عَنِ الْمَکْرُوبِینَ یَا مُفَرِّجُ عَنِ الْمَغْمُومِینَ یَا رَاحِمَ الشَّیْخِ الْکَبِیرِ یَا رَازِق‏ یَا رَازِقَ الطِّفْلِ الصَّغِیرِ یَا مَنْ لَا یَحْتَاجُ إِلَى التَّفْسِیرِ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّد

By the truth of Yaseen (a title of the Holy Prophet) and the Quran full of wisdom And for the sake of Taha (another title of the Holy Prophet) and the great Quran O He Who is able to fulfill the desires of those ask. O He Who knows what is in the heart. O He Who banishes sorrow from the sorrowful. O He Who dispels grief from those who grieve. O He Who is merciful to old men. O He Who provides for infants. O He Who needs not to be explained. Send blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny and fulfill for me.[9]

During the last moments of his life, after all his companions and brothers were killed, Imam al-Hussian whispered his final testimony of love and servitude to his Creator. Moments before embracing death, the son of the Messenger of Allah said:

«صَبْراً عَلى قَضائِكَ يا رَبِّ لا إِلهَ سِواكَ، يا غِياثَ الْمُسْتَغيثينَ، مالِىَ رَبٌّ سِواكَ، وَ لا مَعْبُودٌ غَيْرُكَ، صَبْراً عَلى حُكْمِكَ يا غِياثَ مَنْ لا غِياثَ لَهُ، يا دائِماً لا نَفادَ لَهُ، يا مُحْيِىَ الْمَوْتى، يا قائِماً عَلى كُلِّ نَفْس بِما كَسَبَتْ، اُحْكُمْ بَيْني وَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَ أَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْحاكِمينَ

I will be patient with whatever You decree my Lord. There is no deity but you. You are the helper of those who seek help. I have no Lord except you, and no one to worship except you. I am patient with your wisdom O rescuer of the one who needs rescue. O you who are eternal and everlasting. O you who bring the dead back to life. O you who observe the action of every soul. Judge between me and them, for you are the best of judgers.[10]


[1] Surah al-Ghafir, verse 40. Translation by Shakir

[2] Surah al-Bagharah, verse 182. Translation by Shakir

[3] Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 467, hadith no. 6.

[4] Surah al-Baqarah, verse 126.

Surah Aali Imran, verse 38.

Surah al-Ma’idah, verse 114.

Surah al-A’raf, verse 129.

[5] Surah Hud, verse 88. Translation by Qarai.

[6] Mawsu’ah al-Hussain, p. 361.

[7] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 94, p. 398.

[8]Tarikh al-Tabari, vol. 3, p. 308.

[9] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 92.

[10] Maqtal al-Muqarram, pp. 282-283.

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