Kumayl b. Ziyad b. Naheed b. Haytham b. Sa'd b. Malik b. Nakhai was chief of his tribe in Kufah, Iraq. He was a reliable reporter of Hadith, though he did not report much, and a great devotee to worship of, and service to, Almighty God.
He was born c. 18 A.H., became the Governor of Heet, Iraq during the time of Imam Ali, c. 35-40 A.H. The Imam used to advise him on the general characteristics of a Muslim ruler. On one occasion, the Imam told him,
"Neglecting the (immediate) duty and being concerned about what is not (urgent) is the permanent weakness," i.e., in order to succeed, one must have clear agenda with a list of priorities and focus on one duty at a time.
In 81 or 88 A.H. the tyrant of Iraq, Hajjaj, killed Kumayl and many other believers for no reason but their faith. The shrine of Kumayl is in the suburb of Najaf, Iraq.
(For details see al-Irshad by Shaykh al-Mufeed, d. 413 Najaf 1962, and Tahdhib al-Tahdhib by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani,d. 852, Hyderabad, India, v8, P.448, 1328.)
The Invocation's Merit
Kumayl reports that he was with the commander of believers, Imam Ali, at Basra Mosque, listening to him who was saying, "Whoever worships (the Almighty) on the night before the middle of Sha'ban (8th month of Islamic calendar) and recites the Khidr invocation, his wishes would be fulfilled." Shaykh al-Tusi, d. 460 A.H., reports the Kumayl had observed the commander of the believers during his prostration on that night, reciting this invocation.
Sayyid Ibn Tawus d.664 A.H. adds: Kumayl further asked the Imam about the merit of the invocation. Then, Imam replied: "When you (fully) understand the invocation, recite it every night before Friday, or once every month, or once every year, or once in your lifetime, you will be protected, helped, blessed, and forgiven (by the Almighty)." (for details see al-Tusi d. 460, "Misbah al-Mutahajjid", p.774, and Ibn Tawus, d.664, Iqbal al-Amal, p706.)
THE ORIGINAL TEXT
The Arabic text of Kumayl's Invocation is an excerpt from the following sources:
"Key to Paradise", the concise edition of "Mafathih al-Jinan", by Shaykh Abbas al-Qummi, d. 1359 A.H., edited by Sayyid Hadi Suhufi, and the calligraphy by Abdul Rahim Afshari in 1381 A.H. However, the original Arabic text has been compared with the following sources:
"Misbah al-Mutahajjid", by Shaykh Muhammad b. al-Hassan al-Tusi, d. 460 A.H., edited by Haj Ismail Ansari, Qum, Iran, 1401. This edition is offset of the following:
Lithograph edition dated 1082 A.H., copyist, Muhammad Yahya b. Habib Allah. this was copied from the following:
Manuscript dated 1068 A.H., Copyist Ahmad b. Haj Tawwali. This has been compared with the following:
Manuscript dated 971 A.H., Copyist: 'Imam al-Din' Ali al-Sharif al- Istrabadi. This was copied from the following:
Manuscript dated 571 A.H., Copyist: Muhammad b. Idris al-'Ijli. This has been compared with the original manuscript of "al-Misbah" written by the author, Shaykh Muhammad b. al-Hassan Abu Jafar al-Tusi, d. 460 A.H. The chain of documents to Shaykh al-Tusi is mentioned in "al-Mashikha" by Shaykh Muhammad Muhsin al-Tehrani, d.1389 A.H. in Najaf, Iraq, as well as other sources.
In this translation, we have made all possible efforts to present an English version of Kumayl's Invocation as close as possible to the original Arabic text, based on the meanings of the equivalent roots in both Arabic and English lexicons.