Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 1

Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 1


According to Allamah Majlsi, Du'a Kumayl is the best du'a. This du'a, narrated from the prophet Khidr (a), has been taught by Imam Ali (a) to a prominent companion of his named Kumayl ibn Ziyad Al- Nakha'i. Although apparently prophet Khidr (a) is the one who initially composed this du'a, it can be claimed that because he is still alive and is with the Hujjah of every age and era, he may indeed have been inspired by Imam 'Ali (a).

According to Sayyid ibn Tawus, Kumayl had attended an assembly at the Mosque in Basra which was addressed by Imam 'Ali (a) during which the night of the 15th of Sha'ban was mentioned.

Imam 'Ali (a) said, "Whosoever keeps awake in devoutness on this night (15th Sha'ban) and recites the du'a of Prophet Khidr, 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 Imam 'Ali (a) was staying and requested him to inform him about Prophet Khidr's (a) du'a. Imam 'Ali (a) asked Kumayl to sit down, record and memorize the du'a which Imam 'Ali (a) dictated to Kumayl.

Imam 'Ali (a) then advised Kumayl to recite this du'a on the eve of every Friday (that is the evening preceding the day of Friday) or once a month or at least once every year so that, as Imam 'Ali (a) added, "Allah (swt) may protect thee from the evils of 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."(1)

The recitation of this du'a has been especially recommended on the night preceding Friday and in the middle of the month of Sha'ban. It is said that the recitation of this du'a, gives one protection from one's enemies, opens the gates of sustenance for one and offers a very helpful way for a servant to ask God's forgiveness for their sins.


This precious du'a has been mentioned in the following books, among others:

  1. Sheikh Tusi (A.H. 385-460) in his Misbah al-Mutihajjid, Qom: Isma'il Zanjani, c. A.H. 1401, 774-781.
  2. Sayyid ibn Tawus (A.H. 589-664) in his 'Iqbal al-'A'mal, Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, A.H. 1390, 706-710.
  3. Ibrihim ibn 'Ali al-'Amili al-Kaf'ami (A.H. 840-905) in his Al- Balad al-Amin, 188-191.
  4. Idem, Al-Misbah, Qom: Razi - Zahidi, A.H. 1405, 555-560.

Sublime Ideas in Du'a Kumayl

Du'a Kumayl is full of numerous profound ideas and requests, the most prominent of which is asking for God's forgiveness (maghfirat). Maghfirat occupies a high position in Islam indeed to such an extent that without it one cannot do anything. If we are not forgiven, then other things will not benefit us. If we achieve maghfirat, then we can hope to achieve more. Therefore, first of all, we have to be sure that we are forgiven.

In addition to maghfirat, Imam 'Ali (a) also makes other requests including the ability to remember God. Regarding this, he (a) says,

واجعل لساني بذكرك لهجا

"And cause my tongue to accentuate Thy remembrance."(2)

 Elsewhere he (a) says,

يا من اسمه دواء وذكره شفاء

"O Thou! Whose Name is the remedy (for all ills) and Whose remembrance is a sure cure for all ailments." (3)

Also he (a) says,

اللهم إني أتقرب إليك بذكرك

"O Allah! I endeavour to draw myself nigh to Thee through Thy remembrance."(4)

Here, Imam 'Ali (a) emphasizes the importance of remembering God to the extent that even if we are destined to be placed in hell, we will still remember Him (swt) and His blessings and bounties towards us.

In addition to remembrance of God and asking for forgiveness, other requests include asking for sustenance, asking for protection against enemies and whoever has bad intentions, asking for love for God and so forth.


Forgiveness has a very significant position in Islamic spirituality and is the major request in Du'a Kumayl.

However the first question is why we need to be forgiven.

In a very eloquent way, Imam 'Ali (a) explains that this request is not a secondary or marginal one and one cannot continue without it; rather, for him, it enjoys utmost importance since he (a) cannot tolerate God's punishment. Imam 'Ali (a) admits that Divine punishments are severe while he (a) is so weak and so too are his body and skin. Hence his declaration:

يا رب ارحم ضعف بدني ورقة جلدي

"My Nourisher! Have mercy on the infirmity of my body, the delicacy of my skin and the brittleness of my bones."(5)

Elsewhere in Du'a Kumayl, Imam 'Ali (a) states that even supposing he were able to physically tolerate such torments, he (a) cannot endure them mentally and spiritually since he (a) could not bear to imagine that God were punishing him and he (a) could not tolerate the spiritual punishment of being far from Him (swt) and of being deprived from gazing on His generosity. Here he (a) says:

فهبني يا سيدي ومولاي وربي صبرت على عذابك فكيف أصبر على فراقك وهبني صبرت على حر نارك فكيف أصبر عن النظر إلى كرامتك أم كيف أسكن في النار ورجائي عفوك

"I reckon that though I may patiently endure the scorching fire of Thy hell, yet how can I resign myself to the denial of Thy pity and clemency? How can I remain in the fire while I have hopes of Thy forgiveness?" (6)

For him, it would be an intolerable punishment to see others receiving God's mercy while he (a) was rejected since he (a) had loved Him (swt) and hoped for His mercy all his life. Is it possible that God puts into hell someone who had loved Him (swt) and declared that He (swt) is his Lord and the only Lord? Is it possible that God places and leaves in hell the one who is calling upon Him (swt)? Certainly such a person cannot remain in hell:

فتراك سبحانك يا إلهي وبحمدك تسمع فيها صوت عبد مسلم سجن فيها بمخالفته وذاق طعم عذابها بمعصيته وحبس بين أطباقها بجرمه وجريرته وهو يضج إليك ضجيج مؤمل لرحمتك ويناديك بلسان أهل توحيدك ويتوسل إليك بربوبيتك يا مولاي فكيف يبقى في العذاب وهو يرجو ما سلف من حلمك أم كيف تؤلمه النار وهو يأمل فضلك

My Lord! Glory and praise be to Thee, wouldst Thou (wish) to be seen (disregarding) the voice of a Muslim bondman, ... crying out to Thee the utterance of one who has faith in Thy mercy and calling out to Thee in the language of those who believe in Thy unity and seeking to approach Thee by means of Thy epithet "the Creator, the Nourisher, the Accomplisher and the Protector of the entire existence?" My Lord! Then how could he remain in torment when he hopefully relies upon Thy past forbearance, compassion and mercy? My Lord! And how can the fire cause him suffering when he hopes for Thy grace and mercy?(7)

Answering these questions, Imam 'Ali (a) clearly declares that such things are not even imaginable regarding God:

ما ذلك الظن بك ولا المعروف من فضلك ولا مشبه لما عاملت به الموحدين من برك واحسانك

"Alas! That is not the concept (held by us) of Thee nor has Thy grace such a reputation nor does it resemble that which Thou hast awarded by Thy kindness and generosity to those who believe in Thy unity." (8)

In other words, one can say that such actions are not worthy of God since people do not expect Him (swt) to put such a person in hellfire; a person who obviously really loves Him (swt) because he (a) declares that even if he (a) were placed in hell and punished, yet he (a) would still cry out that he (a) loves God since he (a) knows that such tortures are due to his own faults and all Divine judgments are correct. Thus, this is a real and true love and not a deceitful one. Someone who pretends to love God while he does not really love Him in his heart, would start blaming Him (swt) and complaining as soon as he faces a problem.

Continue in the next article: ( Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 2 )



1. Sayyid ibn Tawus, 'Iqbal al-'A'mal, (Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1390 A.H.) 706 69

2. Ibid., 709.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., 706.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., 708.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.