The Whispered Prayer of Imam Ali (For Spiritual Wayfarers)

“The prayer of Munajat Sha‘baniyyah, attributed to Imam Ali, is a highly regarded whispered prayer recited by all the Imams. It has been mentioned by several great scholars in their books: Sayyid ibn Tawus in his al-Iqbal, Allamah Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar, Samahiji in Sahifat al-Alawiyyah and Shaykh Abbas Qummi in Mafatih al- Jinan.


The late Imam Khomeini, in many places and on several occasions, had emphasized the significance of this prayer. In one of his sayings he mentions that whilst there are many important mystical poems and prayers that one can extract from the Qur’an and from the whispered prayers of the Imams, the Munajat Sha‘baniyyah is unique, and that though philosophers and mystics may be able to understand some aspects of these whispered prayers, those who truly understand them have actually achieved a high level of closeness to Allah, with a taste or experience of the prayer’s content. Hence, a wayfarer or a traveller to Allah, who has reached at least some level of what is described in these prayers and has achieved closeness to Allah, can have some grasp of the ideas, although they certainly are not understandable by a beginner in philosophy and mysticism.

Imam Khomeini also says that Munajat Sha‘baniyyah is one of the special whispered prayers to which, if someone pays attention, performs reflection, and follows its advice, that person can reach a notable position and can achieve some levels of perfection. The late Mirza Agha Maliki Tabrizi, one of the teachers of Imam Khomeini, especially in the fields of ethics and spirituality, says that Munajat Sha‘baniyyah is a well-known whispered prayer, and that ‘It contains a wealth of knowledge.’




The meaning of perfect detachment

O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything, [and then attachment] to you.

Our problem is that we, claiming to be believers (mu’mineen), who believe in Allah (swt), are still attached to many things rendering us not truly monotheistic. We believe in Allah while at same time think people or material techniques we use are independent of Allah. Many of us think that our success comes either from Allah or from the various worldly means. There is a kind of polytheism (shirk) that unfortunately exists in the minds of many believers:

And most of them do not believe in Allah without ascribing partners to Him. (12:106)

The majority of the believers are in a sense suffering from hidden polytheism and this is caused by giving independent positions to creatures of Allah, such as our own efforts, skills, and talents. We think our success will come through the efforts of our mother, father, tribe, party, community, government, doctor, boss, and so forth, and hence we have attachment to many things alongside Allah; we also have an attachment to Allah, but it is mostly in a polytheistic way.

At this point in this munajat we ask Allah to give us completedetachment from everything other than Him. This is not in the sense that we forget, neglect, or fail to properly use other things, or neglect them, or that we live in a cave, but in the sense that we do not put hope and trust in them, and that our hope and trust remains only in Allah. So, we continue to act and behave as reasonable people act, and we do not ignore worldly means and the cause and effect system of the world, but neither do we place our hope and trust in them. Muslims are to strive for excellence. They are to be the best they can in any field they are employed in, whether it be farming, constructing, business dealing, resaerching, or parenting.

We must try to use all the techniques available to us, employ the best technology, methods, plans, while simultaneously doing this whilst knowing clearly that this will not guarantee our success; Our success rests only in Allah (swt). We must not even have trust in our own works, prayer, fasting, or public service. Indeed, we must not have trust in our own righteous deeds, if there are any, or in our good qualities, if there are any good qualities. We should even not have trust in the Ahl al-Bayt as independent from Allah. Our trust is in our Lord, Allah, and this is the true meaning of:

O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything, [and then attachment] to you.

Therefore, we must begin to detach ourselves from what is bad, and then from what is neutral, and then from what is good, and then from what is holy. This is a process of refinement, and anything other than Allah should be left aside. This is pure monotheism (tawhid), to have our hope only fixed on Allah. Once this is achieved, we can proceed and ask for what is mentioned in the next line, because there is a connection between the first sentence and second sentence.

Illumination of the eyes of the heart

Once we are detached from everything, we will no longer be interested in other things. Hence, we first require a proper orientation. Whenever you want to see something, you will require a proper orientation to face the right direction to see that thing. For something physical, a physical orientation is required, and for something spiritual, a proper spiritual orientation is required, which is measured by the orientation of the heart. Therefore we need to ask: what is filling our heart? What is giving it energy? What is making it busy and preoccupied? For what is the heart yearning? That will allow us to understand the orientation of the heart. Hence,we ask Allah (swt) to illuminate the eyes of our hearts:

And illuminate the eyes of our hearts with the light of observing You.

Our eyes are too little to enable us to look at Allah, but there are eyes of the heart that are capable of seeing Him, because this heart is the best thing we have, with unlimited capacity, given to us by Allah, in which He has called His spirit:

So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down in prostration before him. (15:29)

Therefore, this unlimited capacity of the heart renders it capable of looking at Allah. Of course, we cannot contain Him or claim to understand everything about Him, but at least we can have immediate and direct encounter with Him. Anything other than this would be through something else, but it is through the eyes of the heart that you can come to a direct encounter with Allah.

O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything [and then attachment] to you.

But if we reach the stage of kamal al-inqita then the light of looking at Allah should come from Allah Himself and not from anything other than Him. Therefore, we say:

And illuminate the eyes of our hearts.

And the way this is done is:

With the light of observing you

From Reflections on Munajat Shabaniyah, by Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali


In the next line, Imam Ali mentions what it is, that the wayfarer lost in the path of God wants to ultimately reach, that which is sought through detachment from anything other than God, and through the illumination of the heart:

Until the vision of our hearts penetrates the veils of light And reaches the Source of Grandeur And set our spirits to be suspended by the glory of your sanctity.

If there was only prayer, one paragraph, one piece of wisdom that I was able to keep with myself through the entirety of my existence; if everything else was to perish, all my faculties lost for good, all my memories vanished for ever. If everything was taken from me or voluntarily given away, my Lord, through your grace and penetrating light, I ask you to let me whishper those words till the end of times and most importantly, I ask you to help me detach myself from anything other than you, to help me penetrate the veils of light, such that I can reach the source of your Majesty.

Note: During L.I.F.E summer course 2016, Hujatul Islam Sheikh Ammar Haider, mentionned that this part of the Dua is one of the favorites of Mystics and spiritual wayfarer, and is one of the supplications Ayatollah Jawadi Amoli recites in his Qunoot.


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