Adopted from the book : "The Faith of Shi'a Islam" by : "Allamah Muhammad Ridha al-Muzaffar"
After the deplorable tragedy (Karbala'), and after the Umayyids had taken over the leadership of the Islamic opportunity, they committed excess in oppression, revelled in bloodshed and made a mockery of Islamic teachings. There was no alternative for Imam Zayn al-Abidin. Sayyid as-Sajidin (A.S) but to remain in the seclusion of his own home,dejected and full of sorrow. No-one dared to approach him in his house, and he was forbidden to guide the people as they should have been.
He was forced to adopt the method of du'a (as we have mentioned, this is one of the methods of nurturing purity of character) as a means of propagating the teachings of the Qur'an, the principles of Islam, and the message of the Household of the prophet, of instilling in the minds of the people a sense of spirituality and piety, and as a means to the necessary purification of the soul and morality. This was a method of dissemination that he adopted to teach people without arousing the suspicious of the tyrannical him. That is why we see that most of these eloquent ad'iyyah, some of which have been collected together in as-Sahifat as-Sajjadiyyah. also known as Zabur Al-i Muhammad (The psalms of the Household of the Prophet), consist of various topics in Islamic learning. Their style and meaning count them among the greatest examples of authorship in Arabic literature; they are the embodiment of the teachings of the true religion; they contain the innermost subtleties of tawhid and nubuwwat; and they constitute the best way to propagate the ethics of Muhammad and Islamic morality. Thus they are spiritual and ethical teachings in the style of ad'iyyah, or ad'iyyah in accordance with spiritual teachings and ethics. Without doubt, after the Qur'an and Nahj al-Balagha these are the greatest examples of literary style in Arabic, and the best philosophical discussions of theological matters and ethics.
From then,we understand how to praise Allah and how to sing his glories and how to thank Him and turn to Him in repentance; and it is in this way that we can understand how to establish communion with Allah and to express our secrets to Him in private, and how to become solely dependent on Him. It is by this method that we are made to understand the meaning behind invoking benedictions on the Prophet of Allah, on His Messengers and chosen ones from His creation, and the manner of doing this. It is thus that we can understand how we should do good towards the father, as well as the obligations towards the son, and of the son towards the father, as well as obligations towards one's relatives and neighbors, and the obligations of all Muslims in general obligation of the poor towards the rich, and vice-versa.
We are warned about repaying our debts towards others, about how we should act in commerce and business,and about how we should cooperate with our relatives, friends and all people with their interests at heart. In this way, all the good qualities in man are brought out. These ad'iyyah comprise a comprehensive system of instruction in the science of ethics.
By reciting them we can come to know how to show patience in the midst of hardships and difficulties, and how to face both sickness and health. They explain the duties of Islamic armies and their soldiers, and the duties of people towards these soldiers,and many other things which are in accordance with the essence of Islam and the revealed shari'ah, and all this has been done only in form of the du'a'.
The following themes are recurrent in the Sahifah, and are frequent. (a) A description of Allah and His Grandeur and Power and a description of His Oneness and Transcendence, couched in the most exact and scholarly terms. This theme occurs in almost all of the ad'iyyah in various styles and ways of expression. For instance, in the first du'a we come across the following passage;
All paise is due to Allah, the First before Whom no being preceded, and the Last after Whom will be no other;
Whom the eyes of those who see cannot perceive, and Whom our descriptive imagination cannot envisage.
With His Power the brought Creation into being our of nothingness, and made His creatures totally subservient to His Will.
In this passage, he has explained the exact nature of eternity of Allah, and has set Him above the level at which sight and mind may encompass His Being and has referred to the true nature of the Creation of Allah.
In the sixth du'a the Power of Allah and His regulation of the universe are referred to in a different manner:
All praise is due to Allah Who created day and night by His Might, and made them different from one another by His Power, confined them both to specific limits, each following on the heels of the other, so that people might obtain their sustenance and might grow;
He created night for them so that they might reflex from the stress of life, and from excessive fatigue, and made it a garment of comfort and rest for people so that it might be for them a gathering of new strength, and an enjoyment of leisure and sensual delights.
He continues mentioning the wisdom of the days and the nights, and how it is a duty for man to be thankful and grateful to Allah for them.
In the seventh du'a' the fact that everything is in the hand of Allah is described in the following way:
O Allah! through Whose will the knots of problems are unravelled.
O Allah! with Whom we take refuge in times of hardship.
O Allah! to Whom we look for relief in times of misfortune.
It is Thy Might before which even the most brazen are humiliated, and it is through Thy Grace that the ways to make better our situation are provided.
Destiny is determined by Thy power, and things follow the dictates of Thy will.
That which Thou dost order hastens to the bidding of Thy Will without waiting for Thy Command,and according to Thy Wish is withheld without Your forbidding.
b) The second recurring theme of as-Sahifat as-Sajjadiyyah concerns the Bounties and Grace of Allah towards man, and the inability of man to pay back what is due through worship and obedience to his Lord,and through sole reliance on Him. This we read in the thirty-eight du'a';
O Allah! No-one is able to complete his thanksgiving to These without new bounties being bestowed upon him which require further gratitude;
and no-one reaches the level of complete obedience, try he ever so hard, without being short by that which Thy Grace bestows on him;
thus Thy most thankful servant offers his thanks to Thee, but not as he ought to,
and Thy most devoted servant obeys Thee,
but always short of perfect obedience.
Due to the magnitude and multitude of the bounties of Allah, which never stop, even for one moment, it is impossible for man to thank Allah as he should (even if he is grateful and obedient to Him), so how could one who has committed one act of ingratitude make up it, even if he were to do all that was in is power to make amends. This is what is suggested in the following quotations from the sixteenth du'a';
O Allah! Were I to weep until I became blind, were I to moan until I lost my voice, were I to stand in prayer until my feet could no longer support me, were I to bow in ruku' until my back was paralysed, were I to prostrate before Thee until I became a skeleton, were I to eat clay all my life or to drink the most filthy water until the end of my days, were I to sing Thy Glory until my tongue dried up, even then I could not raise up my eyes to the heavens because of my shame, undeserving to request the erasing of even a single one of the sins which I have committed in my life.
c) The third most common theme of the ad'iyyah concerns Divine reward and punishment, Hell and paradise; and it is pointed out again and again that Allah rewards his servants solely on the basis of His Grace and Mercy; for men deserves nothing but punishment even fro the minutes of his sins. All the ad'iyyah of as-Sahifat as-Sajadiyyah make mention of this theme, in order to produce in man a sense of fear of the punishment of Allah and hope for His reward and Mercy. All this is conveyed is such an effective manner and style that it generates in the heart an intense fear and awe, and saves man from falling into the abyss of sin. For instance, we read in the forty-sixth du'a';
The signs are clear, and Thy Supremacy is eternal and will not diminish
therefore eternally beset with misfortune is he who disobeys Thee, ignominiously lost is he who turns away form thee, and the worst calamity befalls he who strays from thee.
How fiercely he will be overtaken by Thy punishment, and how long he will linger in that terrible state, how far he will be from any remission, and how hopeless a state, he will be in.
The sentence passed by Thee will be the just sentence, and the Justice of Thy decision cannot be challenged. Thou hast made all thing exceedingly clear, and no room for excuse has been left ...
Or as we read in the thirty- first du'a':
O Allah! Have Mercy on the one standing alone in front of Thee, my heart beating through fear of Thee, my limbs trembling in awe of Thee.
O Lord My sins cause me to stand ashamed before Thee; if I keep silence, no-one will speak on my behalf; even if someone would intercede for me, I have no right to intercession.
We also read in the thirty-third du'a':
If Thou shouldst punish me justly, I should perish, but if Thou shouldst pour on me Thy Mercy, I should retain my existence ...
And lift from me the burden of my sins whose weight has bent my back, and I beg help from the Thee for the heaviness which brings my knees to the ground.
May peace be upon Muhammad and his Family. Have Mercy on my soul for the wrong I have done to Myself, and let Thy Mercy take up the load of my sins ...
d) The fourth merit of those ad'iyah is to lift the one who recites them towards perfection, away from evil deeds and badness of character, to cleanse his conscience and purify his heart, as we read in the twentieth du'a':
O Allah! Increase the sincerity of my intentions by Thy Kindness, and strengthen my certainty of Thee, and by Thy Power correct my fault ...
O Lord! Bring peace to Muhammad and his Family, grant me correct guidance that I may not change, and a true path from which I may not deviate, and integrity of intention that I may not doubt ...
O Allah! Do not leave me any characteristic which may be a blemish in me without correcting, or any defect which is a misfortune for me without improving it, or any imperfect quality without perfecting it.
e) The fifth theme is to inspire the one who recites the ad'iyah to realize the necessity for independence from others, not to demean himself in front of them, and not to rely for his needs on any but Allah. For greediness for things which belong to others is one of the worst characteristics a man can have. We read in the twentieth du'a':
Do not tempt me to beg from anyone but Thee, or to demean myself by asking from anyone burt Thee when I am in need, or to implore anyone but Thee when I am afraid, so that from these things I merit being abandoned by Thee, being deprived of Thy blessings, or being ignored by Thee.
And in the twenty-eighth du'a':
O Allah! Verily I have sincerely devoted myself to Thee, and I have turned away from (relying on ) those who ( in fact) need Thy help, and I no longer beg from those who are in need of Thy Favour, for I have realized that for someone in need to beg from someone else in need shows the foolishness of one's views and the delusions of one's mind.
And again in the thirteenth du'a':
For someone who seeks gratification of his needs form Thee and relies for the relieving of his poverty on Thee, surely he has taken his need to proper place, and had approached his wants from the right direction.
And someone who comes for his needs to one of Thy creatures and has considered that someone other than thee will be the cause of his succeeding, surely he will deserve an end to Thy Beneficence.
f) Sixth, these ad'iyah teach people the necessity of considering the rights of others, of helping them, of being compassionate and kind towards each other, of making sacrifices for somebody else's sake, so as to make a reality of Islamic brotherhood, For example, we read in the thirty-eighth du'a':
O Allah I beg forgiveness from Thee for ill-treatment meted out to someone in my presence without my coming to his aid, and for kindness shown to me without my giving thanks, and for something unpleasant for which the doer asked forgiveness from me but I refused, and for any hungry person who asked from me but I ignore,
and for the rights of a deserving believer which it was my duty to see to but to which I did not attend,
and for the defect in a believer which I noticed but did not conceal.
This asking for forgiveness is a most effective way of admonishing the soul to do those things which are necessary for exalted, divine morality.
In the thirty-ninth du'a' there is something more important that this. It teaches how it is your duty to forgive someone who has wronged you, and stops you from taking revenge on him, and can elevate you to the ranks of the saints.
O Allah! Anyone who has taken from me when Thou hast forbidden,
and has slandered me when Thou hast prohibited, and has died with my shadow on him, or did this to me and is still alive, forgive him for that through which he harmed me, and do not rebuke him for that which he has done to me, and do not humiliate him for what he has taken form me.
Make the forgiveness with which I forgive them, and the gift which I have offered to them. the purest offering that anyone can offer, and the highest liberality of those near to Thee,
and reward me for my forgiveness by forgiving me, and for my du'a' for them by Thy Mercy, so that everyone of us may rejoice through Thy Grace.
How amazing are these last phrase! and how beautifully they enter the souls of the good to warn them of the necessity for pure intentions rewards all people, to make them ask for happiness for everyone even for those who have been unjust or iniquitous to them.
There are many example of this in the ad'iyah of as-Sahifat as-Sajjaadiyyah, and if people would only listen to their guidance, they are full of all kinds of teachings in Divine morality.