Dua al-Iftitah is a common dua recited by Shi’as in the holy month of Ramadan. This supplication is said to have been taught by the 12th Imam and has been cited in multiple scholarly works such as Tahdhib al-Ahkam by Sheikh Tusi, Iqbal al-A’mal by Sayyid ibn Tawus, and Misbab al-Mutahajjid by Idem, amongst many others. The Dua consists of various themes, such as the praise of Allah, our relationship with Allah, and His Oneness. It also places a focus on sending blessings to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and his Masumeen, as well as the role of the 12th Imam.
Dua al-Iftitah contains multiple verses intended for the Praise of Allah, and even begins by doing so. The opening verse of the Dua is :
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي افْتَتِحُ ٱلثَّنَاءَ بِحَمْدِكَ, وَانْتَ مُسَدِّدٌ لِلصَّوَابِ بِمَنِّك
“ O Allah, I begin the glorification of You with praising You, and You always guide us to the right out of Your favors upon us.”
This theme of praising Allah and recognizing his mercy and guidance rings through the entire Du’a. By beginning the supplication this way, we set the intention that this Dua is meant for Allah, who’s Greatness is beyond comprehension. Through this praise, we pray that Allah will guide us to the right path and answer our prayers. Other verses that embody this theme, illustrate Allah’s mercy and kindness, and allow us to reflect on the bounties that our Lord has provided to us.
Oneness of Allah
Dua al-Iftitah establishes the Oneness of Allah, in that only He and He alone is the power and authority of the universe. With this Allah is able to do anything and everything alone and does not require a partner or permission from anyone. This proves that our praise is not needed by Allah, but is there for us to relish and understand his capacity. This theme is demonstrated by the following verse:
الحمد لله الذي لا مضاد له في ملكه ولا منازع له في أمره
“All praise be to Allah, Who has no opposition to His rule, nor any challenge to His commands.”
Relationship with Allah
The whole of Dua al-Iftitah demonstrates the hidden treasures of Allah, that man often fails to recognize. Allah showers us with love, mercy and blessings, always answering our prayers according to our best interests. Despite the ignorance of human beings, Allah continues to be all Forgiving and the best of Providers, and this alone shows us the kind of love that Allah holds for his creations.
ٱلظَّاهِرِ بِٱلْكَرَمِ مَجْدُهُ ٱلْبَاسِطِ بِٱلْجُودِ يَدَهُ ٱلَّذِي لاَ تَنْقُصُ خَزَائِنُهُ وَلاَ تَزِيدُهُ كَثْرَةُ ٱلْعَطَاءِ إِلاَّ جُوداً وَكَرَما
His glory is evident through His kindness, His distinct overflowing generosity is freely available, His unlimited bestowals do not exhaust, and Whose opulent bestowals increase Him nothing but magnanimity and generosity.
فَإِنْ ابْطَا عَنِّي عَتَبْتُ بِجَهْلِي عَلَيْكَ وَلَعَلَّ ٱلَّذِي ابْطَا عَنِّي هُوَ خَيْرٌ لِي لِعِلْمِكَ بِعَاقِبَةِ ٱلامُور
But when Your response delayed, I, out of my ignorance, would blame You, although perhaps slowing down may be a blessing in disguise, because You alone know the consequences of all matters.
Blessing on the Holy Prophet and the Masumeen
Following the praises of Allah, Dua al-Iftitah sends blessings to those sent to us by Allah to guide us towards the right path. This includes recognizing the divine leadership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), who was a friend and confidant of Allah, but in his highest regard was a servant of Allah who spread his message. The dua states:
اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ عَبْدِكَ وَرَسُولِكَ وَامِينِكَ وَصَفِيِّكَ وَحَبِيبِكَ وَخِيَرَتِكَ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ وَحَافِظِ سِرِّكَ وَمُبَلِّغِ رِسَالاَتِكَ…
O Allah, (please do) send blessings to Muhammad; Your servant, Messenger, confidant, friend, beloved intimate the choicest of Your created beings, the bearer of Your sacraments, and the conveyor of Your messages,…
In addition to the Holy Prophet, blessings are also sent upon his household and to his successors, as their leadership and importance is acknowledged. This is a crucial aspect of the Twelver Shi’a faith, as they are deemed the rightful and true leaders of the Muslim faith, following the Holy Prophet.
حُجَجِكَ عَلَىٰ عِبَادِكَ وَامَنَائِكَ فِي بِلادِكَ صَلاةً كَثِيرَةً دَائِمَةً
(Those Imams are) Your decisive arguments over Your servants, and Your trustworthy confidants in Your lands, with blessings that are numerous and non-stop.
The Role of the Imam Mahdi (a.s)
In Shia Twelver faith it is held that in each era Allah provides representatives who are meant to guide his creations towards the truth. In this era, the last and 12th Imam, Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) is the appointed leader of our time, who is currently in ghaibat (occultation) and is meant to bring about justice and peace. The last portion of Dua al-Iftitah prays for the reappearance of the Imam of our Time, and prepares the believers for his ruling. Specific to the 12th Imam the supplication recites:
اَللَّهُمَّ وَصَلِّ عَلَىٰ وَليِّ امْرِكَ ٱلْقَائِمِ ٱلْمُؤَمَّلِ وَٱلْعَدْلِ ٱلْمُنْتَظَرِ
O Allah, (please do) send blessings to the custodian of Your commandments, the vigilant guardian, the reliable patron, and the awaited establisher of justice.