The dua, or supplication, is perhaps the most personal aspect of muslim prayer, but it tends to get overlooked in favor of the striking movements of the Salat, or daily prostration. Unlike the salat, which allows for only a limited amount of modification, and must be done in Arabic, the dua is almost entirely up to the discretion of the worshipper and may be done in one’s native tongue. Thanks to Metafilter, I found a great site cataloguing many famous duas. And people say Mefi is irreligious! Among others, it contains the complete collection of duas by the great Imam Sayyidina Zain Al-Abideen (ra), entitled Sahifat As-Sajadiyya. Sayyidina Zain Al-Abideen (ra) is the son of Hussain (ra) the son of Ali (ra) the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The dua brings up to the surface each individual’s relationship to their Lord, and it is for this that the duas of Sayyidina Zayn Al-Abideen (ra) are so special. His duas show us the highest stations of good manners in front of our Lord. Although it is acceptable to ask our Lord for what we need, this can lead to us asking for what is not good for us or asking for the fulfillment of vain desires. Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz! is a crass example, but the “multimedia dua” linked to in the Metafilter article reeks of this, and God knows best. For this reason, there are those who feel the best manner in dua is to ask for acceptance of God’s will, and the duas of Sayyidina Zayn Al-Abideen are replete with this kind of piety. For me, his duas epitomize Surrender to the Will of God, which is the root meaning of Islam. Here is a segment from the Dua of Sorrow:
I have no command along with Thy command.
‘Accomplished is Thy judgement of me,
just Thy decree for me!
I have not the strength to emerge from Thy authority
nor am I able to step outside Thy power.
I cannot win Thy inclination,
arrive at Thy good pleasure,
or attain what is with Thee
except through obeying Thee
and through the bounty of Thy mercy.
I rise in the morning and enter into evening
as Thy lowly slave.
I own no profit and loss for myself
except through Thee.
I witness to that over myself
and I confess to the frailty of my strength
and the paucity of my stratagems.
So accomplish what Thou hast promised me
and complete for me what Thou hast given me,
for I am Thy slave, miserable, abased,
frail, distressed, vile, despised, poor, fearful,
and seeking sanctuary!