Reflections on Dua Jawshan Kabir 2

The Concept of Dua and its Proper Meaning

Interestingly, the whole dua Jawshan Kabir contains only one single request i.e. the one contained in the repeated sentence. The rest of the dua is about calling God's names and attributes. This teaches us that, unlike what most people assume, dua is not restricted to asking God one's requests; rather, dua is essentially calling God, even if one does not ask Him anything. Nevertheless, when we call God, we usually ask Him what we need, since we are needy creatures and He is our Merciful Lord, and for many believers, this is the main purpose of dua. Even those who remember God out of their love for Him, usually ask God what they need in their duas, because they do not want to miss this great opportunity. Naturally, therefore, dua comes with requests.

But dua literally means to call, and ijabat, on the other hand, means to answer, not necessarily to give something. When you call someone and he answers you, this is ijabat and if you, then, ask him something, whether he fulfils your request or not, he already has answered your call. Thus, whoever calls God, the Almighty will definitely answer him. If he asks God something, He either fulfils his request in this world, quickly or with some delay, or gives him something better in the hereafter. Hence, we read in our narrations that:

من أعطى الدعاء أعطى الإجابة.

The one who has the success to call God, his call will be answered.(1)

In a very famous narration, called qurb al-nawafil, the Holy Prophet of Islam (s) quotes God:

وما تقرب إلى عبد بشئ أحب إلىّ مما افترضت عليه وأنه ليتقرب إليّ بالنافلة حتى احبه فإذا احببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به وبصره الذي يبصر به ولسانه الذي ينطق به ويده التي يبطش بها ان دعاني اجبته وان سألني أعطيته.

The most beloved thing to Me, through which a servant is able to get close to Me, is performing obligatory acts. Then, he gets closer to Me through recommended acts until I love him. When I love him, I will be his ear by which he hears, his eyes through which he sees, his tongue with which he speaks, and his hands with which he strikes. If he calls Me, I will answer him, and if he asks Me something, I will bestow it upon him." (2)

The Concept of Ism al-A'zam

Among the one thousand names of almighty Allah mentioned in this dua is the Almighty's Greatest Name (Ism al-A'zam). If anyone knows Ism al-A'zam, whatever they ask Allah will be fulfilled. On the other hand, Ism al-A'zam is in the Holy Qur'an because we read in the supplication for the Night of Qadr that:

اللهم إني أتوجه إليك بما فيه وفيه اسمك الأكبر وأسمائك الحسنى.

O Allah! I turn to You through whatever is in the Holy Qur'an. And in it are Your Greatest Name and Your best names.(3)

Thus, the Ism al-A'zam is to be found among those names and attributes of God that are mentioned both in dua Jawshan Kabir and in the Holy Qur'an. But which of those names is the Greatest Name of God? I believe that Ism al-A’zam is not a hidden or strange name of God; rather, it is a combination of some of the divine names we invoke all the time. As a similitude, imagine a password, consisting of ordinary digits that are nothing but zero to nine. What is important is the order of these digits.

Without knowing that order, we would not know the password, even if we knew the exact digits that constitute the password. Thus, it is very important to know which names of God, how many times, and when they should be called. All of these one thousand names and attributes of God are beautiful and profound. In order for their meaning to be absorbed, deep reflection is necessary. Now, I will focus on two sections of the dua, one of which emphasizes light and the other stresses life.

Light in Section 47

In a section of the dua, ten names of God have been mentioned, all of which are related to light. It reads:

يا نور النور يا منور النور يا خالق النور يا مدبر النور يا مقدر النور يا نور كل نور يا نور قبل كل نور يا نورا بعد كل نور يا نورا فوق كل نور يا نورا ليس كمثله نور.

O Light of lights, O Illuminator of light, O Creator of light, O Planner of light, O Estimator of light, O Light of all lights, O Light that precedes in existence every light, O Light that will survive all lights, O Light that is above every light, O Light like of which there is no light.(4),(5)

According to the first attribute in this section, God is the light of lights and every light comes from Him. We read in The Qur'an that:

اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light. Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes. Allah draws parables for mankind, and Allah has knowledge of all things.(6)

"Planner of light" means the one who manages the light, who determines which deeds give how much light, and how one may lose one's light. The planner of light is the one who regulates everything about light.

God has created everything with a portion of light, as is implied in Qur'an:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ۖ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ.

All praise belongs to Allah who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light. Yet the faithless equate [others] with their Lord.(7)

In dua Kumayl, also, the light of everything is attributed to the divine light:

وبنور وجهك الذي أضاء له كل شئ.

And by the light of Your face which illuminates everything.(8)

Thus, everything is shining as far as it is facing God and may become wajh (face) of God. Therefore, everything has the capacity to direct us toward God. This is why we read that:

وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ.

To Allah belong the east and the west: so whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah! Allah is indeed all-bounteous, all-knowing.(9)

Continue in the next article: ( Reflections on Dua Jawshan Kabir 3 )



1. Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 65

2. Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 352

3. Mustadrak al-Wasael, Vol. 6, P. 384

4. section 47 of Dua Jawshan Kabir

5. Biha al-Anwar Vol. 90, P. 390

6. The Holy Qur'an 24:35

7. The Holy Qur'an 6:1

8. al-Iqbal Vol. 3, P. 332

9. The Holy Qur'an 2:115