The al-ism al-a`zam in the Du`a al-Simāt ("Prayer of the Signs")

 

دُعاء الِسمَات

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ بِإِسْمِكَ العَظِيمِ الاَعْظَمِ الاَعَزِّ الاَجَلِّ الاَكْرَمِ

Muhammad al-Bāqir (d. c. 57/676) and Ja`far al-Ṣādiq (d. c. 148/765).

دُعاء الِسمَات

The Du`a al-Simāt ("Prayer of the Signs") is traditionally thought to have been transmitted through Imams Muhammad al-Bāqir ( d. c. 57/676) and Ja`far al-Ṣādiq (d. c. 148/765)

Imami Shī`ī sources have it that the around seven page Arabic  Du`ā' al-simāt "(Prayer of the Signs") was transmitted through or relayed from the persons of both the fifth Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (d.126/743) and his son the sixth Imam Ja`far al-Ṣādiq (d. c. 148/765) though its transmission history is complicated. A tradition ascribed to the sixth Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (d. c. 148/765) apparently has it that the powerful Du`ā' al-simāt  was taught to the prophet Moses for his overcoming of his enemies!  The  Du`ā' al-simāt is in places rich in both Qur'anic and Islamo-biblical allusions and scriptural motifs. It exhibits some definite Abrahamic-Isra'iliyyāt-Islamo-biblical or intertextual dimensions looking back to the sacred writ of the ahl al-kitab in an era of Shi`i symbiosis. This allegedly pre-Islamic prayer perhaps came to be designated the دُعاء الِسمَات  Du`ā' al-simāt because of the implications of the Arabic word  سمة = sima (pl. سمَات simāt) which word can indicate an outward "sign", "mark" or "characteristic", etc. This is most likely  indicative of the "signs", "tokens" or evidences of the power of the الاسم الاَعْظَمِ ism al-a`zam, God's "Mightiest Name", which is specifically mentioned in the opening line and is powerfully indirectly evoked throughout this weighty devotional supplication.

The fifth Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (d.126/743) allegedly said of the  Du`a al-simāt :

  هذا من مكنون عميق العلم ومخزونه لمن يسأل الحاجة عند الله فادعوا به ولا تبدوه إلا لأهله 

"This [Du`a al-simāt] is of what is hidden in the depths of knowledge; something treasured up for whoever requests intercession from God. So supplicate with it and do not disclose it except unto his [chosen Shī`ī] people."

This fifth Imam is also reckoned to have stated:

   لو حلفت أن في هذا الدعاء الاسم الأعظم لبررت 

"If you should  swear an oath to the effect that the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`zam) [of God] is found in this prayer you would assuredly be vindicated".

Its opening Arabic  text reads as follows:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ بِإِسْمِكَ العَظِيمِ الاَعْظَمِ الاَعَزِّ الاَجَلِّ الاَكْرَمِ الَّذِي إِذا دُعِيتَ بِهِ عَلى مَغالِقِ أَبْوابِ السَّمأِ لِلْفَتْحِ بِالرَّحْمَةِ انْفَتَحَتْ ، وَإِذا دُعِيتَ بِهِ عَلى مَضائِقِ أَبْوابِ الاَرْضِ لِلْفَرَجِ انْفَرَجَتْوَإِذا دُعِيتَ بِهِ عَلى مَضائِقِ أَبْوابِ الاَرْضِ لِلْفَرَجِ انْفَرَجَتْ وَإِذا دُعِيتَ بِهِ عَلى العُسْرِ لِلْيُسْرِ تيَسَّرَتْ وَإِذا دُعِيْتَ بِهِ عَلى الاَمْواتِ لِلْنُّشُورِ انْتَشَرَتْ وَإِذا دُعِيْتَ بِهِ عَلى كَشْفِ البَأْسأِ وَالضَّرَّأِ انْكَشَفَتْ

 

[1] I, verily, O my God! beseech Thee by Thy Mighty, Greatest, Mightiest Most Powerful, Most Glorious, Most Noble Name which, when  one supplicates thereby, that an opening be effected of the bolts of the gates of heaven (maghāliq abwāb al-samā') they would indeed be flung wide open through Thy Mercy! [2] And If Thou art supplicated thereby to rend asunder the narrow confines of the portals of the earth  (maḍā'iq abwāb al-arḍ) they would indeed be cleft asunder! [3] And If Thou art supplicated thereby regarding adversity (al-`usr) it would indeed be ameliorated and become insignificant (al-yusr)! [4] And If Thou art supplicated thereby regarding the resurrection of the dead (al-amwāt), they would indeed be resurrected (al-nushūr)! [5]   And If Thou art supplicated thereby regarding the removal of misery (al-bā'sā') and suffering (al-ḍarrā') such would indeed be removed!...

For details and a full tramnslation of this Supplication see :

On the Commentary of Sayyid Kazim Rashti on this supplication which includes details about the al-ism al-z`zam, see :