Dua Kumayl (Arabic: دعاء كميل) (literally the Supplication of Kumayl) is a supplication famous among Shi'a for its perceived beauty and a traditional supplication in Shi'a Muslim spiritual practice. The Du'a is not an exclusively Shi'a dua, however, as none of its content is controversial among Shi'a and Sunni schools of thought.
Revelation of Dua Kumayl
According to Allama Majlesi, Kumayl ibn Ziyad Nakha'i, a confidant of Ali ibn Abi Talib, had attended an assembly in the Mosque at Basra which was addressed by Imam Ali in the course of which the night of the 15th of Sha'aban was mentioned.
- "Whosoever keeps awake in devoutness on this night and recites the Du'a of Prophet Khidhr, undoubtedly that person's supplication will be responded to and granted."
When the assembly at the Mosque had dispersed, Kumayl called at the house where Ali was staying, and requested him to acquaint him with Prophet Khidhr's supplication. Ali asked Kumayl to sit down, record and memorise the du'a which he dictated to Kumayl.
Ali then advised Kumayl ibn Ziyad Nakha'i to recite this du'a on the eve of (i.e. evening preceding) every Friday, or once a month or at least once in every year so that, added Ali, "Allah may protect thee from the evils of the enemies and the plots contrived by impostors. O' Kumayl! in consideration of thy companionship and understanding, I grant thee this honour of entrusting this du'a to thee."
Sheikh Tusi names this prayer "Du'a al-Khadir" and narrates that Kumayl ibn Ziyad saw Imam 'Ali narrate this prayer while he was in sujood (prostation).
Sheikh Tusi (460 AH / 1067 CE) and Sayyid ibn Tawus (664 AH / 1271 CE) both record this prayer under the acts of worship for the 15th of Sh'ban.
Considered one of the famous supplications, that of Khidr, Ali choose to teach this du'a to Kumayl as his disciple. The Du'a al-Kumayl is specifically recited for "protecting against the evil of enemies, for opening the gate of one's daily bread and for the forgiveness of sins". The Du'a al-Kumayl is to be recited specifically "during the nights of the middle of Sha'ban and every Thursday evening". As the Du'a al-Kumayl is such well known, it has become a fixture of great Islamic tradition within the Sufi world and the larger Muslim faith. Composed by Khidr and passed down through Ali to Kumayl and beyond, the Du'a al-Kumayl has proven its value in the Islamic faith.
A Du'a, or supplication, is largely an appeal to God on behalf of oneself or another. This appeal, or invocation may be one calling for blessings or evil. This personal prayer differs from the alternative liturgical prayer of salat. Muslims practice salat, a fixed vocal prayer, regularly for the five prayers of the day. In contrast, a du'a, or mental prayer, is a private, inward prayer often of meditation, fikr.
A du'a may address God in any circumstance to which one may be afflicted. Environmental conditions and how to pray, adab, have been suggested to Muslims praying intimately with God through Du'a. These suggested "rules" are intended to guarantee the efficacy of a du'a, enhancing the legal purity of the gesture.
Widely considered a request for one's own or a community's well being, a du'a serves as a direct spiritual connection with God. While a du'a may or may not be promptly or accurately answered, the reason always lies behind God's spiritual deliverance of prayer requests. The outcome that God suffices, will always produce a greater benefit to all, rather than to that of the individual. The interpretation of one's personal interaction with God through du'a presents several differences. A distinction is often made, however, between fixed predetermination, suspended predetermination and universal determinism. Belief in fixed pretermination suggests that a prayer cannot change God's Will, while He may grant prayers implored of Him. In contrast, suspended or conditional predetermination states that while God predetermines all creation's fate, the deity may grant prayers based upon a conditional decree. Lastly, the view of universal determinism claims that the granting of a prayer is a direct result of terrestrial dispositions in accordance with celestial causes, thus through the laws of the macrocosm.
The heartfelt attempt to rationalize du'a suggests the importance of supplication with God to the Islamic faith.
The Role of Du'a
A du’a, or supplication, serves as an intimate expression of oneself to God. While some Du’as may be declarations directly from the heart, many are transcribed prayers passed down from the Prophet and his Companions, thus becoming a part of Islamic tradition. A Du’a’s composition itself is often unknown, however, many were written during a time of great spiritual commitment. During the time of the Prophet and his Companions, spiritual devotion through the concept of tawhid, recitation of the Qur'an and remembrance of God were an important aspect of many lives.
Within Islamic faith, du’a is a primary means of devotion to God in accordance with Divine Will. Through the negation of personal desires and attributes, a Muslim may strengthen one's relationship with God through the guidance and imitation of a trained companion of God. Often short and easy to recite, du’as are often a means to ensure one's focus on God at all times, an important trait of fana, or self-annihilation as one loses themselves to God.
The practice of teaching and guiding Muslims in faith has been carried down for multiple generations. Beginning with the Prophet, Imams were taught the practice of du’a, recitation of the Qur'an and spiritual devotion, then in turn the great Companions were the next to learn. At the time of the Prophet and today, the role of guide along one’s spiritual path still serves to enrich one’s religious life. For it is the duty of all possessing the knowledge to pass it on, thus supplications were recorded for annual public occasions and inward prayer alike.
The role of Du’a is to form an intimate relationship with God through learning his will, supplication, recititation of the Qur'an and spiritual devotion.
- Introduction to Du'a Kumayl
- Gardet, L. "Du'a." Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. Augustana. 24 April 2009 http://www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-0195
- Chittick, William C. The Psalms of Islam. Cambridge: The Muhammad Trust, 1988.
- Chattick, William C. The Supplication of Kumayl. Ali ibn Abi Talib.
- Rahim, Husein A. "Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project." Du'a Al-Kumayl. <http://www.al-islam.org/kumayl/>.