Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 2

Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 2

Divine Punishments

Imam 'Ali (a) then continues:

فباليقين أقطع لولا ما حكمت به من تعذيب جاحديك وقضيت به من إخلاد معانديك لجعلت النار كلها برداً وسلاما وما كان لأحد فيها مقراً ولا مقاما لكنك تقدست أسماؤك أقسمت أن تملأها من الكافرين من الجنة والناس أجمعين وان تخلد فيها المعاندين.

"I definitely conclude that had Thou not ordained punishment for those who disbelieved in Thee, and had Thou not decreed Thy enemies to remain in hell, Thou would have made hell cool and peaceful and there would never have been an abode or place for anyone in it. But sanctified be Thy Names, Thou hast sworn to fill hell with the disbelievers from among the jinns and mankind together and to place Thy enemies therein forever."(1)

This phrase implies several principles:

 a) Divine punishment is in accordance with wisdom (hikmah)

 b) Those who deny God will be punished while those who fight against Him (swt) will be in hell forever. Thus, those who deny Him (swt) but do not fight against Him (swt) may remain in hellfire for a while and not forever.

c) Hellfire is a necessity of creation and its philosophy; otherwise, God would close it down and turn it into a kind of paradise.

d) Hellfire is not the destiny of those who have real faith (i.e. those who would keep their faith up to that stage and would not lose it during their lifetime, while dying or later on) even if they may have some shortcomings. Even if they were put in hell for a short while, that would be for their purification and preparation to enter paradise. However, we must be very cautious and careful and not take any risk since there are some sins that cause one's faith to be lost and one's du'as to be unaccepted. There are also some sins that change and transform the blessings of God into calamities and difficulties.

Enumerating several types of sins, at the beginning of Du'a Kumayl Imam 'Ali (a) says:

 اللهم اغفر لي الذنوب التي تهتك العصم، اللهم اغفر لي الذنوب التي تنزل النقم، اللهم اغفر لي الذنوب التي تغير النعم، اللهم اغفر لي الذنوب التي تحبس الدعاء، اللهم اغفر لي الذنوب التي تنزل البلاء.

"O Allah! Forgive me such sins as would tear apart safeguards. O Allah! Forgive me such sins as would bring down calamity. O Allah! Forgive me such sins as would change divine favours (into disfavours). O Allah! Forgive me such sins as would hinder my supplication. O Allah! Forgive me such sins as bring down misfortunes (or afflictions). O Allah! Forgive such sins as would suppress hope".(2)

Based on this part of the du'a, there are some sins which would hinder one's supplications and prayers. Du'a (prayer) has to go higher and higher to reach God. If you send a message to a very kind person asking for help, there is no doubt that when he receives the message he would come and help you. However, you should make sure that the message has reached him. Therefore, if it is put in the wrong envelope or is without a proper stamp, then no help would be offered because the message did not reach the person.

Similarly, we should make sure that our prayers reach God since there are some sins that act as obstacles in their progress towards Him (swt). As we do not know what kind of sins these are, we should be cautious about every individual sin because that very sin which we commit may be exactly the one which hinders our supplication.

The same is true regarding good actions and Allah's (swt) pleasure as we have some narrations to the effect that God has hidden His pleasure (Rirja) in good things. Since we do not know what is meant by these "good things" which will make God fully satisfied with us, we should not miss any opportunity to do a good thing since that particular good action may be in reality the one which pleases God.

On the other hand, God has put His dissatisfaction (sakhat) among sins. Here again we do not know which sin is meant and thus we should not take any risk by doing any sin because it may be that very sin that brings about Divine anger. Regarding this, Imam 'Ali (a) has been quoted as saying:

إن الله أخفى أربعة في أربعة: أخفى رضاه في طاعته ، فلا تستصغرنّ شيئا من طاعته ، فربما وافق رضاه وأنت لا تعلم. وأخفى سخطه في معصيته ، فلا تستصغرنّ شيئا من معصيته ، فربما وافق سخطه وأنت لا تعلم وأخفى إجابته في دعوته فر تستصغرن شيئا من دعائه فربما وافق اجابته وانت لا تعلم واخفى وليه في عباده فلا تستصغرن عبدا من عبيد الله فربما يكون وليه وأنت لا تعلم.

"Verily Allah (swt) has hidden four things in four things: He has hidden His satisfaction in His obedience. So do not belittle any act of obedience since that very act may cause His satisfaction while you do not realize. He has hidden His dissatisfaction in His disobedience. Therefore, do not belittle any act of disobedience as that very act may cause His dissatisfaction while you do not realize.

He has hidden His response in His calling. Thus, do not belittle any prayer because that very prayer may lead to His response while you do not realize and finally He has hidden His special friend among His servants. So do not belittle any of His servants since that very servant may be His special friend while you do not realize."(3)

The Prayer that is Never Blocked

A very important question arises here: if there are some sins that hinder our supplications and we may already have committed them, then the very supplication in which we ask God to forgive those sins which hinder our supplications, would also be hindered and blocked. So, if we have already committed that very sin, then there is no use in reciting this supplication and if we have not committed it that then there is no need to make such a request. What then is the solution?

The answer to this question is that istighfar (seeking Allah's (swt) forgiveness) is the only du'a which is never blocked. If someone manages to ask God for forgiveness it will be heard and answered. However, although the sin itself may actually stop him asking for forgiveness, it is impossible for istighfar to be hindered and blocked once it is done. Regarding this:

"إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِنْ قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا". 

"Acceptance of repentance by Allah (swt) is only for those who commit evil out of ignorance, then repent promptly. It is such whose repent Allah (swt) will accept, and Allah (swt) is all-Knowing, all-Wise. (4)"

According to this ayah, God has made it incumbent upon Himself to accept the repentance of those who do some wrongdoings out of ignorance and then, before they die, ask for forgiveness. Thus, as long as a person does istighfar sincerely, they can be hopeful of Allah's mercy. The most horrendous situation is when a person does not do istighfar claiming that they have not done anything wrong and other people are immersed in sins while they are free from any act of disobedience.

The worst punishment for the heart is its inability to do istighfar. Towards the end of the du'a, Imam 'Ali (a) once again draws attention toward forgiveness and shows that it is of the utmost importance to such an extent that he (a) requests to be forgiven of all his sins precisely on that very night and indeed at that very moment:

إلهي وسيدي فسألك بالقدرة التي قدرتها وبالقضية التي حتمتها حكمتها وغلبت من عليه أجريتها أن تهب لي في هذه الليلة وفي هذه الساعة كل جرم أجرمته وكل ذنب أذنبته وكل قبيح أسررته وكل جهل عملته كتمته أو أعلنته أخفيته أو أظهرته وكل سيئة أمرت بإثباتها الكرام الكاتبين

"My Lord! My Master! I therefore implore Thee by that power which Thou determine and by the decree which Thou hast finalized and ordained whereby Thou hath prevailed upon whom Thou hast imposed it, to bestow upon me this night and this very hour forgiveness for all the transgressions that I have been guilty of, for all the sins that I have committed, for all the loathsome acts that I have kept secret and for all the evils done by me, secretly or openly, in concealment or outwardly and for every evil action that Thou hast ordered the two noble scribes to confirm."(5)

Continue in the next article: ( Reflections on the Supplication of Kumayl 3 )



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

2. Ibid., 706.

3. Saduq, Al-Khisal, (Qom: Mu'assasah al-Nashr al-Islami, 1403 A.H.) vol. 1 p 209-210.

4. surah 4, ayah 17

5. Sayyid ibn Tawus, ibid., 709.