Prof. Ayt. Gharawi, Dua Tawassul, Shirk, Wilayat e Takwini, and the Errors in Mafatih al-Jinan

The original Persian can be found here.

For more information regarding Dua Tawassul, see here.

Translator’s Preface:

This interview translation is incomplete, I translated the parts I viewed as noteworthy. According to Ayatullah Yusufi Gharawi, many oft-recited Shia duas are inauthentic. Eminent theologians added these invocations and ascribed them to the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) over the centuries. His new book is a filtered version of Mifatih al-Jinan.


In the year 1393 (2015), Ayatullah Muhammad Hādi Yūsufī Gharawī a Qummi hawza professor, historian, and researcher penned Minhāj al-H̪ayāh fi al-Ada’iya al al-Ziyārāt ‘an Ahl al-Bayt al-Hudāh – a filtered version of the famous Mafātīh̪ al-Jinān by ‘Abbas Qummi. Some duas filtered in the book include Dua Simaat, Dua Jawshan Kabir, and Jawshan Saghir. This is an interview wherein the scholar discusses his book, as well as the historical background of supplications within Imami Shi’ism.

When did dua books and ziyarat-texts (ziyarat-nama, dua to be recited at a shrine) become commonplace within the Shia community?

During the Buyid dynasty of the fourth and fifth centuries. Sheikh Mufid (4 AH) created ziyarat-texts as a means to aid the shrines’ pilgrims. His student, Sheikh Tusi (5 AH), separated fiqhi books from dua books; thus he was the first to compile books containing only ziyarat-texts and duas.

Mafatih al-Jinan, penned by Fadil Hindi Isfahani (11 AH), is the first supplication book to be arranged and ordered, at a time when books did not contain table-of-contents. One may estimate the location of a dua in the book, a reason for its popularity. Various duas were added, even Ziyarat Mafaja’a. After two hundred years, Sheikh Abbas Qummi refined this book. Minhaj al-Haya is a further refinement.

When one glances upon the table of content, it becomes apparent that famous duas are missing, such as Dua Jawshan Kabir. Why?

Inauthentic duas were omitted, e.g. Dua Jawshan Kabir. It is a late addition, the oldest source for the supplication is from the book Balad al-Amin by Sheikh Kaf’ami in 9 AH. Its chain and preface are also strange. In its preface, it states that the dua is from Imam Zayn al-Abideen, wherein in battle, the Prophet (p) was crippled due to heavy armor. Angel Gabriel then taught him (p) this dua in place of the armor. In the preface, it also recommends reciting the dua on the first of Ramadan, but in Shi’ite culture, it is recited on the Nights of Power, as recommended by Majlisi in his Zād al-Ma’ād.

The chain for Dua Jawshan Saghir is better, but not faultless. It is said that Imam Musa Kazim (a) was invited by the Abbasi caliph in which he (a) recited this dua to repel evil. What is strange is that in the chain is a man by the name of Rabī’ who was the caliph’s chamberlain. Rabi’ says, “I went to present the Imam (a) unto the caliph when I came across him (a) reciting something. I asked him (a) about it, whereupon he (a) assured me that he (a) would dictate the dua unto me thereafter.” Although its chain is shorter, it is still weak.

Regarding Dua Simāt, according to Allama Majlisi, it was revealed during the era of the Second Deputy, Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Uthman b. Sayeed Umari, who was deputy for 35 years. The story is as follows: In Baghdad, the Shia shopkeepers were robbed, unlike the Jewish shopkeepers. The thieves were attacked by the street dogs whenever they attempted to rob the Jewish shopkeepers. It was even seen that the dogs attacked a robber and tore off his shoe. The Jews claimed that they possessed a special dua called “Shuboor.” The Shias then went unto the Second Deputy, thereafter Dua Simaat was created by him. Unfortunately, later on, the supplication was falsely ascribed unto the Sadiqayn (a), just as many duas have. The content is strange, some speculate that it resembles Jewish supplications and, thus, is a translation of the Jewish Dua Shuboor.

Alongside that dua, there is Dua Ashraat which is attributed unto Imam Ali (a). Its chain is also questionable; however, it is stronger than Dua Simaat. Some early texts give mursal chains, but some have detailed chains. So in lieu of Dua Simaat I inserted Dua Ashraat.

Dua ‘Arafa is an inauthentic dua, it stems from Sufis. It is obvious that it is not from Imam Hussain (a), e.g. stating, “God created me when just kings were ruling.” In its place, I have brought the 45th dua of Sahifa Sajadiya for the day of Arafa.

You have not brought supplications relating to Imam Mahdi (a), such as Dua Ahad. Why not?

When discussing duas of the Twelfth Imam (a), one must ask, “First – Which Infallible (a) stated it? Second – Which Companion reported it?” It is said that Imam Sadiq (a) stated this dua, if that is the case, then did his Companions know about the Twelve Imams (a) (that the Imamate is twelve or that the Twelfth Imam is in occultation)? How is it possible that Imam Sadiq (a) would say, “I am unaware of the whereabouts of Imam Mahdi (a).”?

Another dua attributed unto him (a) is Dua Nudba. This dua ended with Husayn b. Sufyan Buzufari, a special Companion of the Hadiyin (a). However, at no point does he claim that he heard this dua from an Infallible (a). He is reliable and close to the deputies, I consider it convincing and thus I added it to the prayerbook.

About Dua Faraj (allahuma kunli walikal hujat ibn al-hasan), the term “hujat ibn al-hasan” is not used; instead, it is originally “fulan bin fulan.” Since the scholars deemed “hujat ibn al-hasan” easier, that is what they used. However, in the modern era, this is unnecessary and the Shia scholars should discourage the laymen from this practice. Also from Imam Kazim (a), it was taught that in Ramadan when we put the Quran over our heads and make promises upon God and the Prophet (p) two times, we say “and on the right of all of your imams.” However, the scholars have also changed this practice to include saying the names of all of the Imams (a) for ease.

How about the actions (a’amal) of the cellar? Why is it not mentioned in your book?

We do not even have one mursal hadith recommending the visitation of the cellar where Imam Mahdi (a) was seen. All of the supplications and recommendations found in Mafatih al-Jinan pertaining to the cellar are creations of the clergy.

It is popular that one of Sadiq’s (a) Companions added to a dua. However, the Imam (a) denounced the addition. Many of the supplications in the Mifatih are creations or alterations of the scholars. Is this acceptable?

There is some ikhtilaf. Though, in general, adding or subtracting to a dua of an Imam (a) is forbidden. There is nothing wrong with reciting a manmade dua, as long as it is not attributed unto an Infallible (a). For example, Dua Iftitah was created by the Second Deputy, Muhammad b. Uthman. Neither he nor did any other individual falsely attribute that dua unto an Infallible (a). I have included it in Minhaj al-Hayah.

A manmade so-called dua omitted from my book is “Tawassul,” unfortunately oft-labeled “Dua Tawassul” when, in fact, it is not a supplication whatsoever. It does not even bear the scent of the Infallibles (a) and it is the most clear-cut example of a fabrication. It is commonly stated that Tawassul is the creation of Sheikh Tusi, however, this is a weak opinion. It should not be assumed that this originates from the Infallibles (a). Even calling it a “dua” is a mistake, providing ammunition for Salafis to criticize Shi’ism. Dua means beseeching the Lord. Dua means giving one’s attention solely to the Creator. However, this manmade dua is an intercession unto the Infallibles (a).

Another concocted dua attributed to an Infallible (a) is Munajat Sha’baniya which states in its preface that all of the Infallibles (a) recite this supplication. Allama Majlisi brought this dua and says that it is ancient, from the book of Mazari. I found that the front and back of this book are gone and that the author is unknown. The research of Allama Muhammad Taqi Shushtari indicates that this supplication originates from Husayn b. Khalawayh, a fourth-century Shia grammarian who was in the Hamadani court in Aleppo.

What is your view of using chains of narration to establish the validity of ziyarat-texts and duas?

The chain should not be the [only] important marker. In duas and ziyarat-texts, the content is also important. The best example of this is Ziyarat Jamia Kabira from Sheikh Saquq’s Man Layahdar al-Faqih (albeit it contains only half of the modern text). Although the chain is incomplete, the content is good, so I included it in the book. However, some find the phrase “bikum yanzil al-ghayth” as evidence for wilayat al-takwini (guardianship of creation), though I am against such an understanding. In my opinion, I view it as honorific, not as independence [for the Ahlul Bayt to enjoy such divine powers].

Does Minhaj al-Haya contain extra supplications compared to Mafatih al-Jinan?

No, except for the 45th dua of Sahifa Sajadiya in lieu of Dua Arafa. Also, another version of Ziyarat Ashura. The only difference in this version is in one line “Allahuma khussa ant awal zalim bil’an mani...” This line was not present in Ziyarat Ashura until the second half of the seventh-century. Additionally, the phrase contains an error. The phrase “Allahuma khussa ant awal zalim bilan mani a abada ba awalan thum al-thani wa al-thalith wa al-rabi’.” One time it is said “awal zalim” and one other time “awalan.” This repetition means what? Do both “awals” refer to one person? What good does this phrase contain that we should want to attribute it to an Infallible (a)? The missing initial alif and lam “al” is a cause for concern because it goes against Arabic grammar.

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