Among the most important supplications within our tradition is Dua al-Nudbah. It is an invocation where we pray for the hastening of the return of our twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi (p), and also eloquently build a spiritual link with him. We are taught through traditions to recite this particular prayer on the four festive holidays, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Ghadeer, and on Fridays.1 This is a beautiful portrayal of what it means to devote ourselves to the Imam of our time during the period of his occultation. Though the Imam is not in our physical company, we have an opportunity to connect with him on a spiritual level and demonstrating our commitment to him by reciting the powerful words of the supplication.

The Importance of Dua al-Nudbah

Dua al-Nudba, or the “supplication of lamentation” is traditionally recited weekly on the day of Friday. The supplication is narrated by Sayed Ibn Tawus, who was one of the greatest scholars within the school of Ahl al-Bayt (p), in one of his famous works.2 Ibn Mashadi, who is also one of the greatest scholars, narrates it in his famous encyclopedic work of supplications and visitations of the Holy Household.3 It is known as the “supplication of lamentation” because it brings the believers to tears during the course of its recitation, due to the fact that the Imam is in occultation when we are in great need and desire for his presence. From its early onset, upon praising God and sending salutations upon the Prophet Muhammad and his progeny (pbut), we immediately enter into the emotional invocation.

Themes of Dua al-Nudbah

There are numerous themes that this invocation emphasizes.

1. God’s Wisdom in Choosing Representatives:

Dua al-Nudbah, like many of the other prayers left as a legacy for us by the Holy Household (pbht) begins with a praise of God, and immediately begins to explain God’s wisdom in choosing His divine representatives on earth. It is vital to keep in mind that the focal point of this prayer is to connect us with Imam Mahdi (p), and thus the frame of the introduction speaks to God’s chosen guides, the prophets, messengers, and imams. We state, “Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. And blessings of God be upon our Leader Muhammad, His Prophet, and on his progeny. O God! All praise is for You for that which You decided upon and resolved in the matter of Your close servants, whom You chosen for Yourself and Your religion.”4

Within a contemporary frame, that guide for us is Imam Mahdi (p), the son of Imam Hassan al-Askari (p).

2. Lamentation Over the Tragedy of the Ahl al-Bayt:

The second theme within the dua is the beginning of the lamentation—lamentation for the oppression that the Prophet and his family had to endure so patiently and gracefully. The Imam eloquently speaks to the merit of Imam Ali (p), but also how quickly his station in the early Muslim community was neglected, eventually leading to his martyrdom and that of his blessed sons. We state, “The community [of people who stood against Ahlulbayt] flocked together to cut off [and abandon] His kinship [Ahlulbayt]  and excluded his decedents [from their rightful position in succeeding of the Prophet, and leading the Muslims]  except a handful of sincere faithful ones [true Shia] who kept their promise and dutifully upheld the rights of his descendants; Some [of Ahl al-Bayt] were slain, some were taken as captives and some were banished, and [divine] decree was set for them [in bearing the greatest calamities] For which they are expected to receive the best reward).”5 These lines shake our hearts and core, as we move to the next stage of the prayer, where we earnestly call upon the Awaited Savior (p).

3. Calling Upon Imam Mahdi (p):

Although we may not easily see Imam Mahdi (p) during his occultation, it is imperative that we recognize the potential to still form a strong link to him by finding time to speak with him in solitude as we do during the course of Dua al-Nudbah. We call out to the Imam by some of his titles and attributes. We state, “Where is the everlasting legacy of God which the guiding [prophetic] progeny is never vacant of (i.e., there is always a living representative of God from Ahl al-bayt)? Where is the one intended for eliminating the roots of the oppressors? Where is the one awaited for pulling down the foundations of confusion and hypocrisy? Where is the one hoped for removing oppression and aggression? Where is the one spared for reviving the duties and traditions? ”6

As numerous traditions demonstrate, with the advent of the Imam, peace and justice will be established, overriding injustice and oppression.

4. Demonstration of Our Desperation for the Awaited Savior (p):

When supplicating for the Imam (p), it is important that we seek him in a state of desperation because we have such an intense need to be in his company with all the injustice that surrounds us. We should have a true, sincere desire to be in his blessed company. In this dua, we state, “Oh God] grant us his compassion, mercy, prayer, and his benevolence through which we receive ampleness from Your mercy and victory [in achieving the everlasting happiness in paradise]. [Oh God] And by him [through the intercession of Imam Mahdi (p)], accept our prayers, forgive our sins, fulfill our desires, give us means of livelihood, unrestricted, lessen our hardships, and grant us our desires.”7

Through the demonstration of our sincere desire to be in his presence, the aspiration is that God will allow us to be among his helpers and supporters upon the conclusion of his occultation.

Bits of Advice

1.  Pray Often for the Imam’s Return: Reciting this powerful supplication has the potential to move the believer to tears from the beginning of its words until the end, as we are slowly purifying our hearts to connect with the Imam of our time. The Imam (p) himself states, “Increase in supplicating for the hastening of the relief (the Imam’s return), for surely that is your relief.”8 It is imperative to plead to God on behalf of our Imam because when we pray for someone else, it demonstrates our love for them.

2- Perform an Action on Behalf of Imam Mahdi (p): Perhaps a practical step we can take in forming a strong tie to Imam Mahdi (p) is to perform good deeds on his behalf in the hope of receiving the blessing of his intercession. For instance, we can recite verses of the Quran, or pray two units of prayer, or going out of our way to help someone in need with the intention of gifting the reward to him. This is a demonstration of our love and loyalty to him, as well as a means to remember him daily. It is important we keep in mind that out of his generosity, he will reciprocate our deed for him with something better in return.

3. Don’t neglect your daily life: In all conditions, we must continue to work hard and strive to improve our lives however we can. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) once said, “Even if you find enough reason to believe that [the rise of Imam Mahdi (p)] will take place tomorrow, still, you must not neglect working for a [means of] living. If you cannot [do this] do [what you can].’”9 It is essential that we remember the Importance of Making an Effort.

1. Shaykh al-Majlisy Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 99, pg. 104.
2. al-Sayyid Ibn Tawoos, Misbah al Zaer, pg. 446.
3. Ibn al-Mashhady, al-Mazaar pg. 573-584.
4. Dua al-Nudbah.
5. Dua al-Nudbah
6. Dua al-Nudbah.
7. Dua al-Nudbah.
8. Shaykh al-Sadooq, Kamal al-Deen, pg. 513
9. Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, vol. 5, Chapter 39, hadith 9, pg. 79

4 – جاء في دعاء الندبة “اَلْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعالَمينَ وَصَلَّى اللهُ عَلى سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيِّهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَسْليماً، اَللّـهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلى ما جَرى بِهِ قَضاؤكَ في اَوْلِيائِكَ الَّذينَ اسْتَخْلَصْتَهُمْ لِنَفْسِكَ وَدينِكَ”
5- جاء في دعاء الندبة “وَالاْمَّةُ مُصِرَّةٌ عَلى مَقْتِهِ مُجْتَمِعَةٌ عَلى قَطيعَةِ رَحِمِهِ وَاِقْصاءِ وُلْدِهِ اِلّا الْقَليلَ مِمَّنْ وَفى لِرِعايَةِ الْحَقِّ فيهِمْ، فَقُتِلَ مَنْ قُتِلَ، وَسُبِيَ مَنْ سُبِيَ وَاُقْصِيَ مَنْ اُقْصِيَ وَجَرَى الْقَضاءُ لَهُمْ بِما يُرْجى لَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَثُوبَةِ”
6- جاء في دعاء الندبة اَيْنَ بَقِيَّةُ اللهِ الَّتي لا تَخْلُو مِنَ الْعِتْرَةِ الْهادِيـَةِ، اَيـْنَ الـْمُعَدُّ لِـقَطْعِ دابِرِ الظَّلَمَةِ، اَيْنَ الْمُنْتَظَرُ لإقامة الاْمْتِ وَاْلعِوَجِ، اَيْنَ الْمُرْتَجى لإزالة الْجَوْرِ وَالْعُدْوانِ، اَيْنَ الْمُدَّخَرُ لِتَجْديدِ الفرائض و َالسُّنَنِ”
7- جاء في دعاء الندبة “وهَبْ لَنَا رأفتهٗ ورَحْمَتَهٗ ودعائهٗ وخَيْرَهٗ مَا نَنَالُ بِهٖ سَعَةً مِّنْ رَحْمَتِكَ وفَوْزًا عِنْدَكَ وَاجْعَلْ صلاتنا بِهٖ مَقْبُوْلَةً وذُنُوْبَنَا بِهٖ مغفورة ودعائنا بِهٖ مُسْتَجَابًا وَاجْعَلْ اَرْزَاقَنَا بِهٖ مَبْسُوْطَةً وهُمُوْمَنَا بِهٖ مكفيه وحوائجنا بِهٖ مَقْضِيَّةً”
9- جاء في التوقيع الشريف المنسوب الى الإمام المهدي (ع) ” أكثروا الدعاء بتعجيل الفرج، فإن ذلك فرجكم”
6- روي عن أبي عبد الله الصادق عليه السلام ” إن ظننت أو بلغك أن هذا الأمر كائن في غد فلا تدعن طلب الرزق وإن استطعت ألا تكون كلا فافعل.

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