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The authenticity of supplications and how to deal with them

This is a translation of a Q&A posed to Shaykh Hobbollah, original Arabic here


Question:

A large number of supplications attributed to the Imams (as) have been mentioned in al-Iqbāl and Mafātīḥ al-Jinān and other books, are all these supplications established and reliable? And is the specific recitation timing of these supplications established such as Dua Kumayl on Thursday night, or al-ʿAhd and al-Nudba etc. We also find that the level of speech varies in these supplications, so is it expected of the ordinary person who is afflicted with sins, to detach from all other than God, as is stated in Munājāt al-Sha’bāniya.

I ask your eminence for guidance in how to deal with supplications, and an answer to my questions.

Answer:

Firstly, many – perhaps even most – of the supplications that are found in the sources of ḥadīth and supplications – except for al-Ṣaḥīfa al-Sajjādīyya, which has discussion about its chain of transmission – are weak in terms of their chain based on rijali research and historical documentation; Due to the numerous problems plagued by some books that constitute sources of supplications, the most important of these problems is that these books did not include the chain of transmission or the sources that they have taken these supplications from and they don’t mention them anywhere, as is also the case in for example the book Miṣbāḥ al-Mutahajjid by Shaykh al-Ṭūsī (d. 460 AH), and based on this a person may supplicate with these supplications, not with the intention that it was narrated [from them], and not with the intention of attributing it to the Prophet or his Ahlulbayt, but the method for dealing with these supplications would be as follows:

Every supplication that doesn’t contain any problem in its content or in its meaning, one may supplicate and interact with it, and the acting upon it is without attributing it to the Ahlulbayt (as), and there is no need to abandon it or to call for abandoning it merely because of its lack of having an authentic chain as long as its meaning is sound, but it cannot be depended on in intellectual and religious argumentation as a source of reference in jurisprudence, doctrine or otherwise.

But if there is a problem in its content or its meaning – from the researchers point of view – in a specific supplication, after lack of its establishment by chain or historical research, then it is his right to direct criticism and express reservations about the thought that such supplication promotes, this is our general stance, but if you want to determine the historical value of a particular supplication, you must specify the supplication to us in order for us to answer.

Secondly, it does not seem to me that there is any harm in calling a person to complete detachment from all other than God Almighty, even if such person is drowned in sins; Because this is one of the high aspirations that a human seeks, but the approach to dealing with supplications at this level is to choose supplications that are appropriate to your situation and which you find yourself more interacting with, for the one who turns to supplications and recommended acts, he is as the one who is invited to a feast in which there are varieties of food, where he can’t pick all of them but is able to choose from them what suits or matches him.

And according to my judgement the opportunity here is for spiritual interaction, it does not matter how much you read with your tongue, but what matters is how much you read with your heart and emotions. And if there is a supplication that does not apply to the supplicant, for example if the person is infertile and he is supplicating with something that mentions something related to ones children, then one may skip this passage, as long as it did not appear in the authentic texts as a way of worshipping in this regard.

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