Although Sayed Ibn Taoos was a great jurist, he is better remembered for his contributions to the preservation and collection of supplication literature.
Although Baghdad, Najaf, and Qom are the best-known cities for producing erudite and high-ranking scholars, the city of Hilla in central Iraq has produced more than its fair share of exegetes, jurists, and scholars. One such scholar was Sayed Ibn Taoos.
He was born Sayed Radiuddin Abul Qasim Ali ibn Musa ibn Ja'far ibn Taoos in Hilla in the year 579 AH. He was a descendant of Imam Hasan (peace be upon him) through his son Hasan al-Muthanna. He received his education primarily in Hilla.
Although he was a jurist himself, he was said to be extremely cautious. For this reason, he never issued an edict for others to follow. He was also one of the select few individuals in history who are known to have never committed any haram (prohibited), makruh (discouraged) or even mubah (permitted) acts, rather limiting himself to only the wajib (mandatory) and the mustahab (recommended) his entire life.
For his piety, he was granted several meetings with the 12th Imam (may God hasten his reappearance), and it said that along with Muqaddas al-Ardbeli and Sayed Mahdi Bahrul-Uloom, he was one of those chosen individuals who could have an audience with the 12th Imam at any time he wanted.
Sayed Ibn Taoos was once praying in a mosque, when he noticed another individual there who seemed extremely pious and respectable. Eventually, Sayed Ibn Taoos approached him and asked him if he was the Prophet Khidr. The person replied, "Nay, I am the one whom even Khidr desires to meet! Do you not recognize the Imam of your time?" As Sayed Ibn Taoos bent down to kiss his feet, the Imam had vanished.
Another time, Sayed Ibn Taoos visited Samarra to pay his respects. He also visited the cellar in the house of the 11th Imam where the 12th Imam is said to have spent his last moments before going into Occultation. As he entered the cellar, he could hear someone praying: "O Allah! These Shias of ours are created from the same earth from which you created us. O Allah – sometimes they become heedless of their obligations because they are relying on our intercession. O Allah, accept our intercession on their behalf! They pay Khums for us, so protect them from the hellfire and grant them entry into paradise. O Allah – do not gather them on the Day of Judgment in the same place as our enemies."
Although Sayed Ibn Taoos was a great jurist, he is better remembered for his contributions to the preservation and collection of supplication literature. In his Mafatihul Jinan, Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi frequently refers to Sayed Ibn Taoos's Iqbal as reference for many prayers and supplications. There are several supplications previously unknown that have reached us today through Sayed Ibn Taoos. One of these is Dua Abrar.
One of Sayed Ibn Taoos' friends was imprisoned, and he continuously prayed for release but with no luck. One night, he saw the 12th Imam in his dream. The Imam asked him why he hadn't recited Dua Abrar. The man said that he had recited everything in his prayer book that he had with him several times already, but he never saw Dua Abrar in it. When he woke up the next morning, he noticed a loose page in his book that had previously not been there. He recited the supplication, and shortly he was released from prison. When he told Sayed Ibn Taoos about the supplication, the latter decided to include it in his book.
Shortly after finishing this monumental work, Sayed Ibn Taoos passed away in the year 664 AH. He was buried in his hometown of Hilla.
EDITOR'S NOTE: These articles are adaptations of lectures delivered by Maulana Sadiq Hasan in Karachi, Pakistan, during the 1980s on the lives of the great scholars of Islam. The Urdu lectures can be accessed at Hussainiat.com. For previous articles in this series, please look under the History section.