Reflections on the Munajat of Imam Ali in the Mosque of Kufa 1

Reflections on the Munajat of Imam Ali in the Mosque of Kufa 1

This Munajat ("whisper prayer") is very similar to a monologue, recited by Imam Ali (a) addressing God. The Imam (a) highlights and emphasizes that God is the only one who can bestow on us mercy, as He is the Creator, the Infinite, and the Great, whilst we are the created, the finite, and the lowly. It is a very moving and heart- trembling supplication.

Concept of Munajat

Munajat is derived from the root n-j-w, which denotes speaking to someone while being very close to them. Munajat is a type of whispering, but not a one-sided whispering; its grammatical form signifies a reciprocal action. Thus, it is used when a person has a very intimate conversation with God, in which the Almighty listens and perhaps responds to him. According to a narration, God whispers to those who love Him, i.e. He puts His ideas into their hearts and minds.

Regarding this, Imam Reza (a) quotes the Holy Prophet (s) as saying,

إن موسى بن عمران سأل ربه ورفع يديه فقال يا رب ابعيد أنت فأناديك أم قريب فأناجيك؟ فأوحى الله تعالى إليه يا موسى أنا جليس من ذكرني

Once, Prophet Moses (a) raised his hands and asked God, "O Lord! Are you far so I call you, or are you near so I whisper to you?" God replied, "I am next to the person who remembers Me."(1)

Three Sections of Munajat

This munajat has three important sections.

In the first section, Imam Ali (a) describes the worries about the Day of Judgment. There are serious issues to happen for everyone and Imam Ali (a) declares his need for protection on that great day. This day has been described in various ways in the Holy Quran and Imam Ali (a) quotes some of the relevant verses. Based on this, Imam Ali (a) starts his munajat with the following phrase:

اللهم إني أسئلك الأمان يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون إلا من اتى الله بقلب سليم

"O God, I ask You for protection on the day when property will not avail, nor sons, except he who comes with a heart free (from evil)(2).(3)

According to this phrase, neither money nor children, i.e. our greatest worldly achievements, will benefit us on that day unless we have a pure heart. Surprisingly, this was Prophet Abraham's (a) concern as well, since he said,

ولا تخزني يوم يُبعثون يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون إلا من اتى الله بقلب سليم

"Do not disgrace me on the day that they will be resurrected; the day when neither wealth nor children will avail, except him who comes to God with a sound heart.(4)

Of course, Prophet Abraham (a) managed to have a pure heart. The Quran states:

وَإِنَّ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْرَاهِيمَ . إِذْ جَاءَ رَبَّهُ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ .

"Indeed Abraham was among his followers, when he came to his Lord with a sound heart. (5)

Then Imam Ali (a) continues the munajat:

وَاَسْاَلُكَ الاْمانَ يَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظّالِمُ عَلى يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يا لَيْتِني اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبيلاً

" And I ask You for protection on the day when the unjust one will bite his hands saying, "O would that I had taken a way with the messenger(6).(7)

وَاَسْاَلُكَ الاْمانَ يَوْمَ يُعْرَفُ الْمجْرِمُونَ بِسيمـاهُمْ فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّواصي وَالاْقْدامِ

And I ask You for protection on the day when the guilty shall be recognized by their marks so they shall be seized by the forelocks and the feet(8).(9)

On that day, one's face shows whether he is righteous or wrongdoer; there is no need to ask or even to read the record of his actions, where everything including intentions has been registered. This record is a formal procedure; otherwise, one's face reveals his destiny. According to the Holy Quran, believers are known by their light:

يَوْمَ لَا يُخْزِي اللَّهُ النَّبِيَّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ ۖ نُورُهُمْ يَسْعَىٰ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَتْمِمْ لَنَا نُورَنَا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ.

On the day when Allah will not let the Prophet down and the faithful who are with him. Their light will move swiftly before them and on their right. They will say, "Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Indeed You have power over all things."(10)

The light being on their right may be due to the fact that their record of actions is in their right hand. It is noteworthy that they ask for their light to be perfected since they know that, because of the effects of some of their sins, their light is not yet complete; therefore, they ask for forgiveness. This verse is a glad tiding for believers, as it implies that even on the Day of Judgment, there is a chance for believers to ask for forgiveness, while there is normally no chance to do good deeds after death.

The Quran also states:

يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَىٰ نُورُهُمْ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ بُشْرَاكُمُ الْيَوْمَ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ 

"The day you will see the faithful, men and women, with their light moving swiftly before them and on their right, [and greeted with the words:] "There is good news for you today! Gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them [forever]. That is the great success."(11)

On the other hand, the hypocrites have no light, and on the Day of Judgment they will implore the believers for light:

يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا انْظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِنْ نُورِكُمْ قِيلَ ارْجِعُوا وَرَاءَكُمْ فَالْتَمِسُوا نُورًا فَضُرِبَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِسُورٍ لَهُ بَابٌ بَاطِنُهُ فِيهِ الرَّحْمَةُ وَظَاهِرُهُ مِنْ قِبَلِهِ الْعَذَابُ

"The day the hypocrites, men and women, will say to the faithful, "Please let up on us, that we may glean something from your light!" They will be told, "Go back and grope for light!" Then there will be set up between them a wall with a gate, with mercy on its interior and punishment toward its exterior.(12)

The difference between these two groups is instructive: the believers, who have some portion of light, ask God for more light; the hypocrites, who have no light, ask the believers instead of God for light. This shows that even on that situation, they ignore the fact that if they want something they have to ask their Lord for it.

Regarding people's faces on the Day of Judgment, the Holy Quran divides people into two groups:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ مُسْفِرَةٌ ضَاحِكَةٌ مُسْتَبْشِرَةٌ وَوُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَلَيْهَا غَبَرَةٌ تَرْهَقُهَا قَتَرَةٌ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَفَرَةُ الْفَجَرَةُ 

"That day some faces will be bright, laughing and joyous. And some faces on that day will be covered with dust, overcast with gloom. It is they who are the faithless, the vicious.(13)

Another verse describes the faces as follows:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَاضِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ وَوُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَاسِرَةٌ تَظُنُّ أَنْ يُفْعَلَ بِهَا فَاقِرَةٌ 

Some faces will be fresh on that day, looking at their Lord, and some faces will be scowling on that day, knowing that they will be dealt out a punishment breaking the spine.(14)

Thus, on the Day of Judgment, the reality of every person will appear on his face.

In his munajat, Imam Ali (a) refers to other verses of the Quran as well:

 وَاَسْاَلُكَ الاْمانَ يَوْمَ لا يَجْزي والِدٌ عَنْ وَلَدِهِ وَلا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جاز عَنْ والِدِهِ شَيْئاً اِنَّ وَعْدَ اللهِ حَقٌّ،

And I ask You for protection on the day when a father shall not atone for his child, nor the child shall atone for its father in any way. Indeed God's promise is true(15).(16)

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1. Majlisi 14 AH, 9 :

2. The Quran, 26:88-89.

3. Majlisi 14 A.H, 91:1 9

4. The Quran 6: 7-9

5. The Quran 7:83 8-4

6. The Quran , 25:27.

7. Majlisi 14 A.H, 91:1 9

8. The Quran, 55 :41.

9. Majlisi 14 A.H, 91:1 9

10. The Quran 66: 8

11. The Quran 57:12

12. The Quran 57:13

13. The Quran 80:38-42

14. The Quran 75 :22 -25

15. The Quran 31:33

16. Majlisi 14 A.H, 91:1 9