The Recommended Acts
We have been blessed with an abundance of mustahab acts of worship that are highly beneficial to the body and soul. It only takes a little bit of effort and strength of will to implement them regularly in our lives, through which we may reap incalculable rewards and ascend to God’s nearness that is otherwise difficult to attain. Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi, “My servant continues drawing nearer to Me through voluntary, optional, and extra acts of worship until I love him, and when I love him, I am hearing through which he hears, the sight through which he sees, the hand through which he grasps, and the foot through which he walks.”
Besides being extremely particular about acting upon what is obligatory and refraining from what it forbidden, it is also important to nourish the soul and awaken the spirit of God in man through extra good deeds that have been taught to us by the Holy Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). In the midst of all the preoccupation that exists in our daily lives, it can be difficult to find the time to perform that which is not incumbent on us. Yet surely it is through the Mustahibaat that higher levels of piety and completion of faith can be attained, whilst strengthening our Wajibaat in the process.
We have been blessed with an abundance of mustahab acts of worship that are highly beneficial to the body and soul. It only takes a little bit of effort and strength of will to implement them regularly in our lives, through which we may reap incalculable rewards and ascend to God’s nearness that is otherwise difficult to attain.
Thus, with purity of purpose and a clean heart, let us strive to emulate the private devotional lives of the holy Infallibles (peace be upon them) who would constantly seek to create an intimate yearning of the soul to reach the highest level of proximity to the Almighty through mustahab acts of worship.
The following are ten suggestions of such recommended recitations and performances that we can very easily implement in our daily lives with very little effort:
Highly recommended to be recited by the believer every day, the merits and significance of this supplication – an expression of love for Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) and dissociation from his enemies – cannot be acknowledged enough. Being one of the recommended acts of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) himself, and with no other ziyarat bearing the same eminence and superiority, surely the one who neglects its recitation is at a great loss!
Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said that whoever recites Ziyarat Ashura, his ziyarat will be accepted, his greetings will reach Imam Hussain, his struggle will be thanked, Allah will accept his spiritual and material needs, he will never be in despair of His mercy, he will be released from the hellfire, and he will be able to do shafa’at (intercession) for others. (Misbah of Shaikh Tusi)
A detailed book on the ziyarat can be found here.
Adhan and Iqamah
Often in our laziness, we undermine the importance of reciting the Adhan and Iqamah before our daily prayers. Yet being the example of the Holy Prophet – our perfect role model and highest exemplification of human goodness – why is it that we so regularly (if not always) choose to leave them out of our prayers?
Imam as-Sadiq has said: “One who offers his prayers along with Adhan and Iqamah, two rows of angels pray behind him, while one who offers his prayers with only the Iqamah and without the Adhan, one row of angels prays behind him.” The Imam was asked: “And how long is each row?” The Imam replied: “At the very minimum, its length is the distance between East and West, while at the maximum, its length is the distance between the earth and the heavens.” (Wasail ash-Shia, vol. 4, p. 620)
The method of reciting the Adhan and Iqamah can be found here.
The Salawat is something most of us learned to recite very early in our childhood, yet we often fail to appreciate and contemplate its true essence. Although so simple and virtually effortless to recite, the merits and benefits of its recitation in this world and the next are unparalleled.
Imam as-Sadiq narrates the Holy Prophet to have said, “Your sending salawat upon me results in the acceptance of your requests and desires and Allah becomes pleased with you”, and “The worthiest of people on the Day of Judgment will be those who sent the most salawat upon me in the world.” The Imam has also said, “One who sends 10 salawat upon the Prophet and his Family, Allah and the angels send 100 salawat upon him, and the one who sends 100 salawat upon the Prophet and his Family, then Allah and the angels send 1000 salawat upon him.” (Usul al-Kafi)
Let us make it a habit to recite the salawat more often. Surely it is a means to attain the pleasure and closeness to Allah and the Holy Infallibles. A detailed discussion delving into the merits of reciting the salawat can be found here.
Also known as “the supplication of the youth stricken for his sin” and “the prayer of the paralytic”, this miraculous prayer cured the paralysis of a man exceedingly sinful in his youth who endlessly disobeyed his father, treating him with contempt to the extent of beating him. His paralysis was invoked by the curse of his father, who soon passed away, leaving him in this hopeless condition for life. Upon sincere repentance and lament, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) taught this man Du’a Mashlool, which served to cure him completely and demonstrated its untold, immeasurable power.
Du’a Mashlool is also highly effective for the forgiveness of sins, cure from various forms of illness, transforming poverty to prosperity, safety from all evil, and the fulfillment of all legitimate desires. It is recommended to recite Du’a Mashlool on Fridays, after Isha prayers. The Arabic supplication and the English translation are available online.
Ayat al-Kursi is verse number 255 in Surah Baqarah, known as the Verse of the Throne and one of the most important in the Holy Qur’an. It is said that this one verse tells in a nutshell all we can ever know about God. There are numerous traditions that encourage us to memorize it and recite it frequently. Regular recitation promises (amongst others) relief from troubles and affliction, peace and protection, increase in sustenance, and forgiveness of sins.
Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) says: “The one who recites Ayat al-Kursi once, Allah will remove one thousand unbecoming things from his worldly unbecoming affairs, the easiest of which is poverty, and one thousand unbecoming things from his (affairs) in the hereafter, the easiest one among which is the pain of the grave.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 92, p. 262)
Tasbih of Bibi Fatima Zahra
Gifted by the Holy Prophet to his beloved daughter, the Tasbih of Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) is known to be the best form of dhikr-Allah. It is also one of the 10 actions that the Ahlul Bayt would perform before sleeping, it is the ascension of a true believer, and according to Imam as-Sadiq, it is better than performing one thousand units of recommended prayers! Its recitation is also stated to be one of the five signs of a true believer. (Makarim al-Akhlaq) Our Imams have narrated it to offer release from misfortunes, acceptance of desires, forgiveness of sins, protection from tragedies, separation from Shaitan, and achieving a state worthy of Paradise.
Let us not undermine the effectiveness of this great remembrance and habitually recite it after every prayer at the least. A detailed book on the tasbih of Bibi Fatima can be found here.
This supplication evokes a deep yearning to be in the company of our present Imam, to be among his helpers, and to attain martyrdom in his presence. Frequent recitation is highly recommended.
Imam as-Sadiq narrates that if one recites Du’a Ahad for forty days after morning prayers, (s)he will be amongst the helpers of Imam Mahdi, and if (s)he dies before the reappearance of the Imam, Allah will raise this person from the grave in order to present him-/herself to the Imam.
The Arabic supplication and English translation are available online.
Salat al-Layl (the Night Prayers)
Amongst the numerous recommended mustahab actions, the Night Prayer bears a special distinction. Many Qur’anic verses and traditions have emphasized the importance of its performance, through which souls are perfected, hearts are enlivened, wills are strengthened, and sincerity is perfected. The Holy Qur’an says, “And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud (Salat al-Layl) beyond what is incumbent on you; it may be that your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.” (17:79) In this verse, Allah describes the Night Prayer’s extraordinary spiritual effects: it raised the Holy Prophet to Maqame Mahmood, a position of glory and praise. It is an elevated position with Allah and one that only few can attain.
The Holy Prophet has said, “There is no good deed except that its reward has been outlined in the Qur’an, except the Salat al-Layl. Almighty Allah has not specified its reward due to its greatness with Him.” Indeed Allah says regarding the reward of those who recite this prayer, “So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did.” (32:17)
In the words of Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, “How beautiful and pleasing it is that a God’s servant wakes up from sleep, leaves his soft and comfortable bed, makes ablutions, and in the darkness of night, while the others are busy in deep sleep, stands up before the Lord of the worlds, engages into humming communications with Him, and through this spiritual journey, ascends towards Upper Heavens, thus joining the angels of Celestial Kingdom in praising, worshiping, and adoring God Almighty. At this moment, his heart becomes a center of illumination of Divine light, and a heart fully saturated with God’s desire ascends towards the most sublime spiritual position of God’s Nearness.”
May Allah give us all the strength to sacrifice our sleep and comfort and be from among those who perform Salat al-Layl every night. Click here for a brief article on Salat al-Layl.
Salat of Ja’far Tayyar
The Salat of Ja’far Tayyar, a gift of love bestowed by the Holy Prophet to Hazrat Ja’far Tayyar, the brother of Imam Ali, has been greatly emphasized in the traditions of the Imams. It is performed to beseech Allah for the forgiveness of sins and for the fulfillment of any legitimate desire. (Mafatih al-Jinan) The method of the prayer can be found here – and it takes a mere 30 minutes of your life.
Indeed, Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi states in Mafatih that this prayer is one of the best sources of forgiveness of sins.
Supplications for the Daily Prayers
It is highly recommended to recite certain du’as after each of the five daily prayers. These take only a few minutes to recite and are a great practice to implement regularly in our lives.
These du’as and other taqibaat can be found in the printable booklet Taqibaat – The Daily Prayer and Ziyarat, available for download here.