SUMMARY:Prayer supplications (du’a) within the Islamic tradition are widely seen as a mode of worship, and much emphasis is placed on their recitation. Numerous manuals and treatises have been published in consideration of their teaching, memorization, and the manner and propriety of their reading. An abundance of traditions (ahadith) from the Prophet Muhammad and his Household (Ahl al-Bayt) evidence the centrality of du’a in a Muslim’s devotional life and as a means for conveying aspects of Islamic faith and spirituality.
While the function and recitational practice of du’a is central to Islamic intellectual history, research on du’a is extremely limited; it is even more limited when examining Imami du’a. The sparse academic discussions available typically fold du’a in with ritual prayer (salah) and pre-Islamic practices. Our panel suggests a broader range of use and meaning than these isolated applications, and aims to shed light on du’a in the Shi’a context. We approach the study of du’a from the following claims. First, du’a compilations reflect the needs of the community in their form and contents. Second, du’a—and commentary on du’a—is a site of philosophical and theological debates. Third, historical accounts of du’a change the modality of moral agency. Du’a serves, thus, as a site of community engagement, theological and philosophical expression, and boundary building.
We begin with one of the earliest examples of du’a, presented within the narrative of Imam Husayn at Karbala. We then examine the development of Shi’a du’a manuals from the 4th-14th hijri centuries, and how their form changes in regard to the needs of the developing Imami orthodoxy. Third, we study an early manual of du’a, the Misbah al-Mutahajjid of Shaykh Tusi (d. 672/1274) in light of theological discussions. Finally, we examine the du’a commentary of Mulla Hadi Sabzivari (d. 1289/1873) on Du’a al-Sabah that provides a philosophical gloss. By examining a previously ignored genre, we provide insight into the ways devotional literature shapes Imami religious practice and understanding.
DISCIPLINES:Rel Stds/Theo; Rel Stds/Theo; Rel Stds/Theo