SKR-Du`a al-simat - Lambden tr.

 

 شرح دعاى السَّمات

The Commentary of Sayyid Kazim al-Husayni al-Rashti on the Du`a al-simāt (Prayer of the Signs)

Introductory Note and Translation. 

Stephen Lambden

In progress - last updated 2nd September 2015.

The Arabic text of the Du`a' al-simāt  exists in various versions or recensions which are believed to go back to the fifth and sixth Imams, Muhammad al-Baqir ( d. c.126/743) and Ja`far al-Ṣādiq (d. c 48/765). It has been variously transmitted and reproduced in such works as the al-Misbāḥ al-mutahajjid al-kabir (The Greater Luminary of the Pilgrim..) of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d.460/1067) and  the Jamāl al-usbū` (Beauty of the Week)  of Raḍī al-Dīn Ibn Ṭāwūs (d. 664/1226).

Ibrāhimī mentions in the Fihrist that this medium length work of 1350 verses was written in reply to Mullā `Alī Asghar Nīshāpūrī on 15th Sha`ban 1238 (27th April 1823) in Kufa about a portion of the well-known Du`a-yi simāt, the supplication or `Prayer of the Signs'. In his opinion it is a work replete with "weighty mysteries and philosophical wisdom" (Fihrist, No. 144 p. 292). Ibrāhimī again mentions that the original ms. of this work is lost  and refers to the existence of an old (lithograph?) printing (chap qadīm) (ibid.).  

  • Sharḥ Du`a al-simāt, 1st Lithograph edition (not seen).

  • Sharh du`a' al-simāt wa yalayihi Sharḥ ḥadīth al-qadr). Beirut: Mu`assat Fikr al-Awḥad, [14th Rabi` al-Awwal] 1423/ [26th May] (Syria [Damascus] al-Sayyida Zaynab). 2002.This printing appears to have been expertly made from various original mss. (see pp.24-29, first and last pages are reproduced here) as edited and introduced by Raḍī Nāṣir al-Salmān. It is printed along with an edition of Sayyid Kāẓim's brief `Commentary upon the Ḥadīth of al-Qadr' (Power, Destiny) (see below). In this printing the general or editors' introduction occupies pp.1-36 ADD HERE. The text of the commentary, the Sharḥ du`a al-simāt  occupies pp. [37] 41-385. The text of the 'Prayer of the Signs' is divided into 72 portions and commented upon in some detail

Sayyid Kāẓim al-Ḥusaynī al-Rashtī (d.1259/1843) wrote the recently (re-) printed (see image above) medium length (1350 verse and over 200 page) commentary on the Du`a al-simāt (Prayer of the Signs) in Ottoman Kufa (now Iraq) on the 15th Sha`ban 1238 (27th April 1823). This for a certain Mullā `Alī Asghar Nīshāpūrī  in response to his enquiry about a portion of this then well-known supplication, the Du`a al-simāt and a Shi`i hadith about al-qadr (destiny, fate...).  The  Shaykhi leader Āqā Ḥajjī `Abu'l-Qāsim Khān al-Ibrahīmī -Kirmānī (d.1969),  the well-known as the author of the  Fīhrist kutub mashāyikh `izam (Catalogue of the books of the mighty Shaykhs) a Shaykhī  `Bibliographical Index', had it that the Arabic    Commentary on the Du`a al-simāt of Sayyid Kāẓim was replete with "weighty mysteries and philosophical wisdom" (Fihrist, No. 144 p. 292). Kirmānī also mentions that the original mss. of this work is lost  and refers to the existence of an old (lithograph?) printing (chap qadīm) (ibid.). 

A very recent printing of this work is within the paperback volume of the `Divine wise one', Sayyid Kāẓim al-Ḥusaynī al-Rashtī    شرح دعاء السمات ويليه شرح حديث القدر   (Sharh du`a' al-simāt wa yalayihi  Sharḥ ḥadīth al-qadr). Beirut: Mu`assat Fikr al-Awḥad, [14th Rabi` al-Awwal] 1423/ [26th May] (Syria [Damascus] al-Sayyida Zaynab). 2002. This printing appears to have been expertly made from various original mss. (see pp.24-29, first and last pages are reproduced here) as edited and introduced by Raḍī Nāṣir al-Salmān. It is printed along with an edition of Sayyid Kāẓim's brief `Commentary upon the Ḥadīth of al-Qadr' (Power, Destiny) which occupies (with its introduction)  pp. 287-298.      In this printing the general or editors introduction occupies  pp.1-36  ADD HERE. The text of the Sharḥ du`a al-simāt  commentary occupies  pp. [37] 41-385. The text of the 'Prayer of the Signs' is divided into 72 portions and commented upon in some detail. ADD

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TRANSLATION WITH SELECT NOTES

Stephen Lambden - ongoing -last updated 2014.

As transmitted  and commented upon by Sayyid Kazim Rashti in the abovementioned edition of the Du`a' al-simāt,  the prayer opens with the basmala   بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم     and continues with reference to the Greatest Name of God as follows:

اللهم إني أسألك باسمك العظيم الأعظم الأعز الأجل الأكرم الذي  إذا دعيت به على مغالق أبواب السماء للفتح بالرحمة

O my God! I, verily, beseech Thee by Thy Mighty, Mightiest, Most Powerful, Most Glorious, Most Gracious Name which, when I supplicate  [Thee] therewith, that the strongly-bolted portals of  the Gates of Heaven might, through  [Thy]  Mercy,  be opened up....   

As transmitted  and commented upon by SKR in the  abovementioned edition of the Du`a' al-simāt,  the prayer opens with the basmala   بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم     and continues with reference to the Greatest Name of God as follows:

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!" (trans. Lambden 06).

The Commentary of SKR (2nd ed. pp. 37-285 = 248pp) commences with the theological phrase "In God, the One beseeched for aid" (bi-Allah al-musta`an) followed by the Islamic basmala ("In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") which is said to be evocative of divine power [piety] (taqiyy) and hopefulness [expectation] (rija'i). He continues with this distinctly Shi`i prefatory laudation :

"Praised be to God, the Lord of all the worlds and blessings and peace be upon best best of his creatures,  Muhammad and his purified family and may the curse of God be upon all their enemies". 

He continues firther with the following personal preamble :

"And now he [SKR] says, this poor, annihilated soul, the servant [of God], Kazim ibn Qasim al-Husayni al-Rashti that the most honourable master (al-mawla  al-afkhar) and most radiant light (al-nur al-azhar) characterized by understanding and sobriety [peacefullness] ... al-Akhund  Mullā `Alī Asghar [Nīshāpūrī] sought from this  wretched one among the poor (haqir al-faqir) [= SKR], an exposition of some of the subtle allusions (isharat) of the well-known, Mighty Supplication (al-fu`a al-azim al-mashur), the Du`a al-Simat ("Prayer of the Signs"), the unveiling  (kashf) of some of its enigmatic aspects (rumuz) as well as the opening of its [incomprehenbible] fetters and the unravelling of its puzzling aspects (mudil)" (Sharh, pp. 39-40).

The first section (I.1) of the commentary of SKR on the DS proper is entitled "The Bounty (fadl) and the Might (`azm) of its Gravitas (sha`n)". SKR first states that this supplication was transmitted by Kaf`ami [in his Misbah] from [ the 4th Imam Muhammad] al-Baqir [d. c. 126/743]  ...

 

 

 

A few paragraphs later the  The Du`a simāt  echoes a biblical verse in the book Deuteronomy, chapter 33 verse 2  providing an important example of Shi`i Islamo-biblical assimilation.

A beautiful passage a few paragraphs further on reflects rewritten verses of Deut. 33:2  as well as other biblically rooted passages and concepts :

اللهم بمجدك الذي كلمت به عبدك ورسولك موسى بن عمران في المقدسين فوق إحساس الكروبين، فوق عمائم النور فوق تابوت الشهادة في عمود النور وفي طور سيناء وفي جبل حوريث في الواد المقدس في البقعة المباركة من جانب الطور الأيمن من الشجرةك وفي أرض مصر بتسع آيات بينات،

I beseech Thee, O my God! by Thy Glory (majd)  through which Thou did converse with Thy servant and Thy messenger Moses son of `Imrān in the sanctified [Sinaitic] regions (al-muqaddisīn) beyond the ken of the cherubim (al-karūbiyyin), above the clouds of Light beyond the Ark of the Testament (al-tābūt al-shahāda) within the Pillars of Light.  And in Mount Sinai (tur sina') and Mount Horeb (jabal al-hurib) in the sanctified Vale (al-wad al-muqaddas), in the Blessed Spot (al-buq'at al-mubaraka) in  the direction of the Mount [Sinai] (al-ṭūr)  situated at the right-hand side of the Bush [Tree]. And likewise [he conversed] in the land of Egypt through nine Luminous Verses (āyāt  bayyināt)...

أسأل ويوم فرقت لبني إسرائيل البحر وفي المنبجسات التي صنعت بها العجائب في بحر سوف وعقدت ماء البحر في قلب الغمر كالحجارة وجاوزت ببني إسرائيل البحر وتمت كلمتك الحسنى عليهم بما صبروا وأورثتهم مشارق الأرض ومغاربها التي باركت فيها للعالمين وأغرقت فرعون وجنوده ومراكبه في اليم