Rabbee Zidnee

"And convey to my servants that surely I am the Ghafoor (the Forgiving) and the Raheem (the Merciful)". -- Suratul Hijr, Verse 49

Thursday, November 10, 2005

About the Moving Finger

The supplication “يا من ارجوه لكل خير” (ya man arjoohoo li kulli khayr) is commonly recited after prayers during the holy month of Rajab and consists of a first portion that begins with yaa man and a second that begins with "يا ذا الجلال و الإكرام" (yaa dhal jalaali wal ikraam). This supplication was gifted to us by Imam Sadiq (a). While reading out the supplication in order to instruct his companion Muhammad b. Dhakwan Al-Sajjad, the Imam also performed some accompanying rites. Here are some common questions that may arise about the rites of this supplication along with answers:

When do I hold my beard and move my index finger during the du'a?

Examine the tradition carefully. The narrator says that the Imam Sadiq (a) extended his left hand and grasped his beard with it. He then recited the first portion of the du'a while moving his index finger in a gesture of humility. Then, after reciting the first portion he continued with the rest of the du'a. This means you should perform the rites of moving your finger and holding your beard at least during the first portion. Since the narrator doesn't say that the Imam (a) stopped moving his finger and holding his beard in the second part, we can assume that he didn't, and therefore you can can continue these rites throughout the second part as well.

How do I move the finger?

Position your right hand as if you were to shake hands with someone. Then curl your fingers slightly, and move just the index finger back and forth but keep the rest of your hand still. Swinging your arm around left and right doesn’t fit with what the tradition says.

What if I don't have a beard?

Well, if there is a bearded man next to you, you can always grab his beard :). But in case that is not an option :), and you are a woman or you do not have a beard, you can recite the du'a with the niyyat of rajaa' (hope that it will still be accepted) and either keep both hands in the same position you use for qunut, or hold your chin with your left hand and move your right index finger as described above.

What is the wisdom behind the accompanying rites?

Overall the rites are a sign of dhillat - humility, lowliness, and poverty. In previous times, when a poor Arab wanted to attract the attention of a rich Arab, it was not appropriate for him to approach the rich Arab directly. Instead, the beggar would raise his right hand in the air in a begging position (the same way you would raise your right hand for qunut) and move his index finger (as described above) as if he were indicating, "Me, me" or "Pay attention to me!" The beard is a sign of reputation and honor. In order for him to beg of the rich Arab while still upholding his honor and have the rich Arab treat him with some respect, the beggar would hold his beard in his left hand.

It seems that the Imam (a) adopted this particular custom of begging for this supplication, except that there is no indication that he raised his right hand in the air. Also, he (a) teaches us both through the beautiful words of the supplication and through the accompanying rites that the truly rich and independent entity (الغني المطلق - al-ghanee) is none other than Allah (swt) in front of whom we are all in utter need and poverty.

Answers provided by a teacher of the Howza in the holy city of Qum in the proximity of Sayyidah Fatima al-Ma'asumah, daughter of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a), November 2005.


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