In Arabia, fourteen centuries ago, a man asked his friend for a recommendation: what prayer would be the most useful to the one seeking assurance of God's mercy? This prayer was given in response. The man's name was Kumayl, son of Ziad, and his friend was Ali (AS), the Leader of the Faithful.
Kumayl was a trusted companion of Ali (AS), well-known for his devotion, and unflinching adherence to his great master. Kumayl has transmitted a number of important sayings and teachings of the Leader of the Faithful.
The famous supplication, known by the title Du'a-e-Kumayl or supplication of Kumayl, is one of the most important of those teachings.
The instructions delivered with this prayer emphasize that it should be recited as frequently as possible. Faithful Muslims enjoy a weekly recitation, usually on the evening of Thursdays.
A sincere reading of this prayer can reveal many things: the Islamic concept of God, His Attributes, man's well-founded hopes for reply to prayer and a tranquillity of spirit to be obtained with few other prayers.
O' Nourisher, how can we thank You enough for the kind permission You have given us, that at any time and under any condition we can call upon You and You will take our hands.
You have insisted that at any incident we should come to Your door, saying "I will support you and with My assistance you can overcome your problems."
O' Lord, people are constantly wondering about invocation, which should be defined as relation with You. Sometimes people ask "what is invocation (Du'a)?" or they often ask "What effect does it have?" Sometimes they complain, saying their invocations (Du'a) are not accepted.
Questions are raised about the invocations (Du'a) by sinless people and spiritual leaders, and the groans and wailing that accompany these prayers into Your Holy Presence. I now ask for help from You, for Your Aid in expressing this idea to present some points within a concise essay, hoping to provide a solution to the problems of researchers.
Human beings live in a world with billions of creatures, known and unknown. Their numbers seem impossible to know for human beings. The span of man's vision is so small that he can not even obtain knowledge of creatures that are around him.
Sometimes he can not even perceive them or get information concerning their existence. With the recognition of his own knowledge as so insufficient, when he reaches the climax of mental greatness, he cries out by saying "I am uninformed of other than myself."
How can a human being, a trivial portion of the Universe live in such a way that he always finds success and prosperity? Every moment he is surrounded by problems, with heavy waves pushing him through unbearable ups and downs and blights. Can a path be found through all these difficulties?
The way that a human being can take to bring himself to the coast of rescue? And in some manner continue his route and strive for the development that he desires and find his God by reaching Him and joining with the Sublime Essence, to grasp the real development that he was created for?
Yes, the Creator of the World through the power which He entrusted to human beings directs all them to development. All human beings eagerly want to attain such development. This propensity that has been instilled in every human heart by the Nourisher pulls man to his Creator and aids him in heading on the path of development.
The only way to enhance this inclination is an attempt that must be made, according to the order of God, for the protection of the relation between the human being and his Creator.
If this link to God is broken, it is like an electrical wire that is cut. The connection between the power plant and the light bulb does not exist any longer, and therefore the light is extinguished. When the connection between man and God is cut, man becomes a corrupt being and a painful element in the society, and he is only filling space and making the space tighter for others.
This relation or connection is invocation (Du'a) that an alive human being offers to his Nourisher. With an expressive language, the supplicant presents his inability and helplessness and confesses to the ability, complete independence and absolute power of his Nourisher.
Obviously the smaller we see ourselves and the greater we see Him, the more potential and more ability is there for us realize the importance of this connection, and we would therefore gain more benefit from it. From the Reservoir of Power, humans ask for the fulfillment of their needs.
As a result of this connection, the invocation (Du'a) adds to his scientific and moral abilities in every moment. The more intensively the human being prays, the more his scientific grasp will be stronger, with man viewing himself as less and less, and His Creator as stronger and greater.
As a result of this attempt, it gets to a point that an advanced human being according to his genuine nature does not make any hesitation in following the path of Almighty God. In every step that he takes towards development, the greatness and grandeur of the power of the Almighty will become more obvious him, and he will look at his past from a higher level.
For what he has done he will sometimes apologize, even if what he has done was his duties. That is because he now comprehends its inadequacy. HE INTERPRETS HIS PAST WORSHIPS AS SIN and does not see any value for his work when presented to the Great position of the Lord.
With his elevated view, he perceives his submission to God's presence as SINFUL and even an action far from politeness.
What is My Performance?
Offering praise in Your Presence is a lack and a sin. I am nobody and full of flaws and needs. Whatever goes from me to Your Presence is not only valueless but it is a fault due to my weakness and incapability.
The only way out of this for me is to know myself with my imperfections and know You by Your Perfection. With the net of kindness that you have opened, I can reach complete development and benefit from the Grace pouring from the Essence of Being.
We strive moment by moment to reach You. Of course, in this path all people are not the same, and do not strive in the same manner. When the range of our knowledge about ourselves and about the Creator increases and we do not stray from the path of humanity, we can travel in a better, easier, and stronger way.
The Prophets and the Imams have reached this point. Since they realize the Magnificence of their Lord and comprehend the position of the Life-Giver, they see themselves, their activities, and their prostrations and praises so little that THEY INTERPRET THE WORSHIP OF THAT MUCH AFFLUENCE AND GREATNESS AS SIN, and with supplication and invocation, they ask for pardon and they hope for forgiveness.
When they face the divine commandments and consider the Holy Position of the Almighty, they submit themselves to the Master. They see this action in front of the Lord as nothing, and recognize it AS NOT SUITABLE FOR PRAISE. They hope it would be accepted by the Generosity and Majesty of the Creator, OTHERWISE IT IS A SIN TO SUBMIT SUCH INADEQUATE WORSHIP TO THE HOLY PRESENCE OF THE LORD.
Those people like the Prophet Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt realized the Divine position with a much wider view. Continuously upon the two wings of knowledge and action, they progressed to a higher and superior position.
They were at every moment finding out more about the Magnificence of the Life-Giver of the world, and more about their own incapability; consequently better understanding their inadequate actions in comparison with that much Power and Greatness.
To compensate for that, they confessed to their sins and asked the Lord for the permission to apologize with the excuse that they CAN NOT do to the extent of what Allah deserves, with the hope that He would guide them to a higher and superior position until they could continue their development process in order to reach the sublime of morality.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (AS) has proclaimed these instructions for invocation: "First we must testify to the Omnipotence of Almighty God, then we have to send greetings to the Prophet and his descendants, and then confess to our sins, flaws, and shortcomings.
Then whatever we desire we should present before Him." It should be kept in mind that first a human being should make an acquaintance with his Lord and confess to His Grandeur, and then following the method of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and the Chaste Leaders (AS), make a connection to him.
He should then get to know himself, how many imperfections he has that ask the submission of his worship an impolite act toward Him. When he finds out about the two aspects: His ability and his own incapability and how to reach to the Source of Power, then it is time to share his statements with his Lord.
It is at this time that a human being discovers the greatness of supplication and the degree of its value. This is the way of success in the existing world. Indeed, supplication or prayer is recognition of God and recognition of his own, and review and deliberation on one's past with an expectation to one's future.
The more the human being becomes curious at these stages and studies the world of nature, the greater will be his understanding: How great is his Lord and with what ability He has created such a vast universe and how small and incapable are human beings in such an environment. He must realize that he could never be rescued all by himself in this world which is full of disturbances, except to be under the Guidance of the Creator of the world and ask assistance from Him.
In that way, he can attain the position (that according to the tradition) he has been created for. In that way, he finds his way to the door of the Prophets and Saints. With the help of the Guider of the Righteous, he can continue his development process. When he makes progress, he becomes MORE SHAMEFUL OF HIS PAST and becomes more needful. With the power from the Hidden Source of the world, he enters society.
In his life, he overcomes all problems, solving any thing he faces, with the favor of God. Under these circumstances he neither abjects himself to others or is cruel to others. He is a human being that on his humanistic path, he benefits from everything and is supported by the Divine Power.
He is not afraid of anyone except Him, and he is not lax in action and work and he never fails on any battlefield. That is because he sees himself connected to the endless Divine Power, with a world of strength in the battles of life, and with a tireless power he smoothes out all unevenness.
It is based on this principle that all Prophets and purified Imams, at every small or important event were first praying and begging for help from God, and then they began their task.
The messenger of Islam first of all worshipped God before he was preparing to go to battle; he was offering his inability before the Holy Presence of the Almighty and resorting to the infinite Divine Power; only then, he was entering the battlefield with good moral, knowing that conditions for the real victory were His.
Yes, first power must be obtained and then action. Invocation can be this power-giver to all human beings.