Edited translation of analysis by Shaykh Muhammad al-Oraibi, see Arabic: here
What do you say about Dua al-Jawshan al-Kabeer?
What is its origin and what are its sources?
And is it recommended to recite this supplication specifically in the month of Ramadhan or Laylat al-Qadr?
There is no trace of a dua named Dua al-Jawshan al-Kabeer in our reliable books and it is from the discrepancies of the noble Shaykh al-Kaf’amī (rah) (d. 905 AH), who had much leniency in regards to narrations from non-Shia and weak reports on recommended acts, and he does not have knowledge regarding the correctness of the attribution of this supplication to the Prophet ﷺ or one of the Imams (as), in addition there are strong indicators that this is from the narrations of the non-Shia, and its content is also not free from some obscurities.
And the Dua al-Jawshan that we are known to have is the one that is narrated by Sayed Ibn Tawus (d. 664 AH) in his Muhaj al-daʿawāt he mentioned that Imam Mūsā al-Kāẓim (as) used to recite this supplication when he knew that the Abbasid caliph was planning to kill him, excerpt from the beginning of the supplication:
اِلهی کمْ مِنْ عَدُوٍّ انْتَضی عَلَی سَیفَ عَداوَتِهِ وَشَحَذَ لی ظُبَةَ مِدْیتِهِ وَاَرْهَفَ لی شَباحَدِّهِ وَدافَ لی قَواتِلَ سمُوُمِهِ وَسَدَّدَ اِلَی صَوائِبَ سِهامِهِ وَلَمْ تَنَمْ عَنّی عَینُ حِراسَتِهِ
My God, many an enemy drew up the sword of hostility against me, honed the dagger’s edge, sharpened the arrows’ points, made ready deadly poisons, leveled his bow at me, and, keeping an eye on me […]
And it is known nowadays as Dua al-Jawshan al-Sagheer, but Ibn Tawus didn’t mention the distinction of Sagheer or Kabeer.
And in one of the copies of Muhaj al-daʿawāt there is an addition – which aligns with the story for revelation of Dua al-Jawshan al-Kabeer provided by the Sufis as we will mention soon – the addition by one of the copyists of the book, and he is Abū Ṭālib ibn Rajab, states that it gives the reward of Dua al-Jawshan al-Kabeer
And in Tabaqat a’lam al-Shia by al-Muhaqiq al-Tehrani it was stated he is Abū Ṭālib ibn Rajab bin Muhammad bin Rajab al-Bursi (See: Tabaqat a’lam al-Shia, vol 6, pg 71; Abu Talib bin Rajab)
And al-Bursi, his grandfather, was the author of al-Mashariq, and he was weak in narrating, and he was of the scholars in the 7th century, so it is supposed that his grandson was a contemporary of al-Kaf’amī.
Al-Majlisī noted that this section that is concerned with the merits of the jawshan – which was added by the copyist and is not the words of Ibn Tawus – could have been for both prayers of jawshan, but that it seems the copyist confused them. (See: Bihar al-Anwar, vol 78, pg 331; vol 91, pg 327)
The addition is as follows:
After narrating al-Jawshan al-Sagheer, Abū Ṭālib ibn Rajab, the copyist of Muhaj al-daʿawāt, stated that he found the jawshan supplication and the story above as it preceded the supplication with a different narration in one of the books belonging to his grandfather, Taqī al-Dīn al-Ḥasan (ibn ʿAlī) ibn Dāwūd (alive in the second half of the 7th/13th century), and added another story that refers to the Prophet ﷺ as the source of the prayer. The story which the first part of its sanad is missing begins as follows:
بِحَذْفِ الْإِسْنَادِ عَنْ مَوْلَانَا وَ سَيِّدِنَا مُوسَى بْنِ جَعْفَرٍ ع عَنْ أَبِيهِ جَعْفَرٍ الصَّادِقِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ جَدِّهِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ الْحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِمْ أَجْمَعِينَ قَالَ قَالَ أَبِي أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع يَا بُنَيَّ أَ لَا أُعَلِّمُكَ سِرّاً مِنْ أَسْرَارِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ عَلَّمَنِيهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص وَ كَانَ مِنْ أَسْرَارِهِ لَمْ يَطَّلِعْ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ قُلْتُ بَلَى يَا أَبَاهْ جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ قَالَ نَزَلَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ جَبْرَئِيلُ ع فِي يَوْمِ الْأُحُدِ وَ يَوْمُ الْأُحُدِ يَوْمٌ مَهُولٌ شَدِيدُ الْحَرِّ وَ كَانَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ص جَوْشَنٌ لَا يَقْدِرُ حَمْلَهُ لِشِدَّةِ الْحَرِّ وَ حَرَارَةِ الْجَوْشَنِ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ ص فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي نَحْوَ السَّمَاءِ فَدَعَوْتُ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى فَرَأَيْتُ أَبْوَابَ السَّمَاءِ قَدْ فُتِحَتْ وَ نَزَلَ عَلَيَّ الطوف [الْمُطَوَّقُ بِالنُّورِ جَبْرَئِيلُ ع وَ قَالَ لِي السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقُلْتُ وَ عَلَيْكَ السَّلَامُ يَا أَخِي جَبْرَئِيلُ فَقَالَ الْعَلِيُّ الْأَعْلَى يُقْرِئُكَ السَّلَامَ وَ يَخُصُّكَ بِالتَّحِيَّةِ وَ الْإِكْرَامِ وَ يَقُولُ لَكَ اخْلَعْ هَذَا الْجَوْشَنَ وَ اقْرَأْ هَذَا الدُّعَاءَ
It is narrated from our friend and teacher, Mūsā ibn Jaʿfar (may Allah be pleased with him), he from his father Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, he from his father, he from his grandfather and he from his father, amīr almu ʾminīn, al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (may Allah be pleased with them all), he (al-Ḥusayn) said: “My father, amīr al-muʾminīn (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘My child! Shall I teach you something from the secrets of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) taught this to me and it is a secret that no one knows.’ I said, ‘Yes, please teach me father.’ He said: ‘Al-rūḥ al-amīn Jabrāʾīl came to the Prophet (pbuh) on the day of Battle of Uḥud. It was a terribly hot day. The Prophet was wearing armor (jawshan), which he had difficulty carrying due to the heat of the day and the heat of the armor. The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘I turned my face to the heavens and prayed to Lord Almighty. I saw the doors of the heaven open. Jabrāʾīl, who was surrounded with light, came down next to me and said: Peace be unto you, O the Messenger of Allah! … The Exalted sends his salām (greetings) to you. He tells you to take off your armor and read this supplication …’Muhaj al-daʿawāt, pg 227-228
Following this statement, the virtue of the prayer was explained, but the prayer itself was not recorded.
1. What was transmitted by Abū Ṭālib ibn Rajab al-Bursi on the authority of his grandfather al-Ḥasan (ibn ʿAlī) ibn Dāwūd (d. after 707 AH), and we know that this statement did not reveal anything about the attribution of this supplication
2. What was transmitted in disconnected manner by al-Kaf’amī (rah) (d. 905 AH) in his Junnat al-Amān al-Wāqīya, pg 247 known as Miṣbāḥ al-Kaf’amī:
On the authority of Imam al-Sajjad (as) cited his father, Imam al-Husayn (as) who cited his father, Imam Ali (as) who cited the Prophet ﷺ as saying that in one battle, the Prophet ﷺ was wearing a heavy armor (jawshan) and it was bothering him. Jibra’il appeared for the Prophet ﷺ and saluted him, and then told him: “take off the armor and, instead, recite this supplication which brings safety for you and your people”
And we do not know where he took this from, and if al-Kaf’amī was known for the characteristic of authentication and strictness we could maybe assume the correctness of its attribution, but rather he was known for much leniency, and narrating disconnected narrations and acting on things which its attribution is not established, and his books were the product of this.
3. What was narrated in a disconnected manner also on the authority of Imam al-Sajjad (as) in a compilation of Sufi supplications, compiled by Ahmad Dhia al-Deen al-Gumushkhanawi (d. 1311 AH).
And it contains 3 volumes, the first of supplications on the authority of Ibn Arabi (d. 648 AH), secondly the supplications of the Naqshabandiya by Shaykh Muhammad al-Naqshabandi (d. 791 AH) and thirdly from Abi al-Hassan al-Shadhli (d. 656 AH)
And the supplication is mentioned in the first volume, and it is the volume of narrations and supplications of Ibn Arabi, and in its margins this disconnected chain was stated as commentary by ‘Abd al-Ghani bin Ismail (d. 1143 AH):
My father narrated from Umāma, he from Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad al- Ṣādiq, he from his father, and he from his grandfather, al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib – karrama llāhu wajhahū – that he said: “Son! Shall I teach you a secret from the secrets of Lord Almighty, who is the only god and whose blessings are for everyone and whose glory is supreme? The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) taught this to me.” I replied, “Yes! Please do!” He continued: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: ‘Once I was walking towards Uḥud. It was a very hot day in addition to the heaviness of the armor (jawshan). I gazed at the sky and prayed to Allah Almighty. Whereupon I saw the gates of heaven open. Surrounded with light, Jibrīl came down next to me, and said: ‘The Exalted Lord Almighty has sent you his greetings and blessings and said, ‘Take off this armor and read this prayer. When you read this and carry it on you, it will provide greater protection for you.”
And this is similar to what Ibn Rajab al-Bursi and al-Kaf’amī mentioned!
And we do not know where the Sufis have taken it from; as for its quotation in their books and the attribution of notable Sufi figures such as Ibn Arabi working with this supplication, it is possible that they predated us with acting on this supplication, and it is also possible they took it from other sources, but it is most likely that they are the origin of it because of its popularity among them and because it is known of the Shia scholars that mentioned this supplication, how they take narrations and that they have taken from them [the Sufis].
This supplication is one of the weakest supplications we have, and there is no connection between it and the month of Ramadhan in addition to Laylat al-Qadr, and the encouragement to read this supplication by some of the scholars is because of its length, and its [good] usage of the time of the supplicator, and because of their positive assumption that the transmitter of this supplication has established it. But rather, the gathering of them – the people of Leniency and Sufism – upon this supplication, attests to its weakness. So one should leave it and work with the supplications one has reassurance of its content over or the supplications that don’t raise any doubts, like what has been transmitted by our great muhadithoon in their reliable books, it is preferred to work with this.