Revisiting Istighatha: An Innovation or Tradition?

In the popular Shi’i conscience, and in the view of most Twelver scholars, the idea of direct intercession (istighatha) from saints is clear:

There is Quranic, scriptural (hadith) and / or logical evidence which can be used to infer the permissibility and validity of istighatha. 

For a number of reasons however, there are some who do not share such certainty.

After all, there are a number of Shi’i popular traditions which are seen as basic features of the religion. These traditions are attributed validity post-facto to the Qur’an and Sunnah, but in reality have no evidence in scripture.

One of said issues which skeptics disagree with popular consensus on is the topic of istighatha, on grounds that it holds no basis in hadith.

This article disagrees with such assertion, and I will posit that there is direct and unambiguous hadith evidencenot only for permissibility of istighatha as we know it today. But also, the historicity of such act among the ranks of our Imams’ companions.

Being so, article is intended as a sequel to my booklet on Istighatha which discusses the topic of Istighatha more comprehensively, from a hadith context. 

So without further adue,

Let us begin



(Rijal al-Kashi, vol 2, page 420)

“I have no money!”, these are the first words uttered by the companion Qays ibn Rumana as he passed by Imam al-Baqir’s house on an uneventful Medina night.

In pain and anguish from debts and a lack of funds, Qays complained to the holy Imam of his life’s woes.

The Imam had one response to his companion facing tribulation:

Go to the grave of Rasul Allah and complain to him (Rasul Allah), then return to me.”

Qays obliged, and went to the grave of the Holy Prophet and complained to the Prophet of his situation. 

Upon completion, Qays dutifully returned to the Imam.

Imam al-Baqir said:

“Raise the prayer mattress and take what is under it.

Qays said: So I raised it, and there were dinars under it.

Qays said: No, by God, may I be sacrificed for your sake, I did not complain to you that you would give me anything.

The Imam said: 

“Take it, and do not tell anyone about your need, lest he belittle you.” 

Qays said: ‘I took it, and it was three hundred dinars’”

في قيس بن رمانة 319 - حمدويه وإبراهيم، قالاحدثنا الحسن بن موسى، قالحدثني علي بن أسباط، عن قيس بن رمانة، قالأتيت أباجعفر عليه السلام فشكوت إليه الدين وخفة المال، قال، فقالأيت قبر النبي صلى الله عليه وآله فأشكو إليه وعد إلي.

قالفذهبت ففعلت الذي أمرني، ثم رجعت إليه، فقال ليارفع المصلى

وخذ الذي تحته، قالفرفعته فإذا تحته دنانير، فقلتلا والله جعلت فداك ما شكوت إليك لتعطيني شيئا، قال، فقال ليخذها ولا تخبر أحدبحاجتك فيستخف بك، فأخذتها فإذا هي ثلاث مائة دينار

Something is clear in this report.

The Imam ordered his poor companion to perform istighatha, direct intercession, from the Prophet - so that his life situation will improve.

Upon doing so, the man’s request from the Prophet was granted as he found 300 dinars under the prayer mattress. In disbelief, he even attributed the money to the Imam, instead of Imam al-Baqir.

Yet however, is there even clearer evidence that this is an act of istighatha?

The answer is yes! 

In the hadith below of clear Twelver motifs, a companion of Imam al-Sadiq is lost wondering who is the rightful Imam after al-Sadiq. 

The man, Hisham ibn Salim, goes to the grave of Rasul Allah and in his words - says:

“I performed istighatha from Messenger of God and I went to his grave as said:

O Messenger of God, to whom (should I seek the correct faith)?”

The report claims that Hisham’s prayer was answered, as Musa al-Kadhim revealed him that the answer to Hisham’s prayer is that he (Musa) is the true Imam: 

(Basa’ir al-Darajat, page 271)

“On the authority of Hisham ibn Salim, he said:

I entered upon Abdullah ibn Jaafar (who claimed Imamate) and Abu al-Hasan (al-Kadhim) in the majlis, in front of him was a mirror.

So I turned to Abdullah and did not ask him until the zakat was mentioned, so I asked him and he said: You ask me for zakat, whoever has forty dirhams is required to spend one dirham.

I I turned my eyes on Abdullah and was astonished by him, so I said to him:

May God give you health, because you know my affection for your father and my attachment to him, and I have narrated books from him, so would you like me to bring them to you? (to prove to you otherwise)

He said: ‘Yes, oh cousin, come to us (with those books)

So I performed istighatha from Messenger of God and I went to his grave as I said:

O Messenger of God, to whom (should I seek the correct faith)? To the Qadariyyah? To the Haruriyyah? To the Murji'ah? To Zaydism?

I remained in that state until a young boy, less than five years old, came to me and pulled my dress and said to me:


I said: ‘To who?’


He said: To my master Musa ibn Ja’far, so I entered the courtyard of the house, and he was inside the house and he said:

‘O Hisham.

Not to the Murji’ah, nor to the Qadariyyah, but to us (you should turn for the answer)’

And then I entered upon him.”

بصائر الدرجاتالهيثم النهدي، عن إسماعيل بن سهل، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام ابن سالم قالدخلت على عبد الله بن جعفر، وأبوالحسن في المجلس، قدامه مرآة وآلتها مردى بالرداء موزرا، فأقبلت على عبد الله فلم أسأله حتى جرى ذكر الزكاة فسألته فقالتسألنيالزكاة، من كانت عنده أربعون درهما ففيها درهم قالفاستشعرته وتعجبت منه فقلت لهأصلحك الله قد عرفت مودتي لأبيك وانقطاعي إليهوقد سمعت منه كتبا فتحب أن آتيك بها؟ قالنعم بنو أخ، ائتنا، فقمت مستغيثا برسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله فأتيت القبر فقلتيا رسولالله إلى من؟ إلى القدرية إلى الحرورية إلى المرجئة إلى الزيدية

قالفاني كذلك إذا أتاني غلام صغير دون الخمس فجذب ثوبي فقال ليأجبقلتمن؟ قالسيدي موسى بن جعفر، فدخلت إلى صحنالدار، فإذا هو في بيت وعليه :كلة، فقاليا هشام قلتلبيك فقال لي

لا إلى المرجئة، ولا إلى القدرية، ولكن إلينا، ثم دخلت عليه

The moral of the two reports can be surmised in three points:

  1. The Imams gave direct legitimacy to the act of istighatha, as they ordered it themselves
  2. Istighatha is a valid act which can be granted
  3. The Imam’s companions engaged in this act

Thus, the conditions of early historicity and legitimacy from the Imams is satisfied for the act of istighatha.

Yet however, under what pretense can a Shi’i ask the Imam for istighatha?


Loitering in the streets of Kufa and alone - with little companions, laid al-Mufaddal ibn Umar - the Bab (gate) of Imam al-Sadiq.

Persecuted by Shi’a of low comprehension to the point of physical violence, al-Mufaddal was not in a safe state.

In recognition of this calamity, Imam al-Sadiq gave Mufaddal “eleven letters” to recite every night before sleep, so as to protect himself.

And they are:

(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 537-538)

Narrated Mufaddal ibn Umar:

“Imam al-Sadiq said to me, ‘If you can, do not go to sleep without seeking protection with eleven letters.’ 

I then asked, ‘What are they?’ 

The Imam told me to say, ‘I seek protection with the majesty of Allah, I seek protection with the power of Allah, I seek protection with the glory of Allah, I seek protection with the authority of Allah, I seek protection with the beauty of Allah, I seek protection with the defense of Allah, I seek protection with the prevention of Allah, I seek protection with the force of Allah, I seek protection with the possession of Allah, I seek protection with the face of Allah, I seek protection with the Messenger of Allah against the evil of whatever He has created, spread and settled. ’ The Imam said, ‘You may seek protection with these letters whenever you like.’”

بمنع الله، وأعوذ بجمع الله، وأعوذ بملك الله، وأعوذ بوجه الله، وأعوذ برسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآلهمن شر ما خلق وبرأ وذرأ، وتعوذ به كل ماشئت

In this protective catechism or enchantment, Imam al-Sadiq asks Mufaddal to seek protect by Allah’s manifestations to humanity - from all the evil of humanity.

Allah manifests to humans through his majesty, power, glory, and so on. 

One of Allah’s manifestations on earth is Rasul Allah. 

Through Rasul Allah, Imam al-Sadiq seek refuge and protection from the evil of creation:

I seek protection with the Messenger of Allah against the evil of whatever He has created, spread and settled.”

Thus, the figure of Rasul Allah is not a powerless human who simply died 1400 years ago and cannot help those who beseech him.

He is a manifestation of Allah, and if you call onto the Prophet directly - he will answer your prayer.

Narrated Mu‘awiya ibn ‘Ammar:

 Imam al-Sadiq who said the following about the words of Allah. “God has the most beautiful Names. You should address Him in your worship by these Names . .” (7:180) 

The Imam said, “We, I swear by Allah, are the beautiful names of Allah without which Allah does not accept any of the good deeds of His servants until they have ma’rifa of us) knowledge of our status)””

4 - الحسين بن محمد الأشعري ومحمد بن يحيى جميعا، عن أحمد بن إسحاق، عن سعدان بن مسلم، عن معاوية بن عمار عن أبي عبد اللهعليه السلام في قول الله عز وجل: " ولله الأسماء

الحسنى فادعوه بها " قالنحن والله الأسماء الحسنى (1) التي لا يقبل الله من العباد عملا إلا بمعرفتنا

In citing the verse about Allah’s most beautiful names and the necessity of addressing Allah beautiful names –

Imam al-Sadiq wished to identify the Ahlulbayt (the Prophet and his family) as the manifestation and attributes of Allah, by which he should be addressed.

If you wish for your prayer to be granted, address Allah by the names of the Ahlulbayt:

“Ya Muhammad! I ask for this and this”, “Ya Ali!”, “Ya Husayn!”, etc.

Imam Ali clarifies:

(Al-Muhtadar by Hasan ibn Sulayman al-Hilli, page 136)

“We (the Ahlulbayt) are Allah’s beautiful names, by which if Allah is asked by - He will answered”

المكنون، نحن الأسماء الحسنى التي إذا سئل الله - عز 

وجل - بها أجاب

To demonstrate the Imam as manifestation of Allah, we refer to the Quranic verse which says:

There is no moving creature on earth whose provision is not guaranteed by Allah. And He knows where it lives and where it is laid to rest.” (11:6)

With regards to how Allah “knows where (each creature) lives and where it is laid to rest”we refer to the following hadith.

In this hadith of Mufaddal, we come to receive an idea on why Imam al-Sadiq told Mufaddal in the earlier hadith to seek the protection of Rasul Allah from all evil.

It becomes clear to us that Rasul Allah, and by extension - the Imams, know what happens in every single region of the Earth.

In making the idea more comprehensible to Mufaddal, Imam al-Sadiq affirmed that the entire city of Baghdad can be viewed by the Imam - not just individuals.

(Basa’ir al-Darajat p 474 and al-Kafi, vol 1, page 272) 

“On the authority of Al-Mufaddal ibn Umar, he said,

“I said to Abu Abdullah (al-Sadiq), peace be upon him:

I asked him about the Imam’s knowledge of what is in the regions of the earth while he was in his house, covered up in his blanket. (In other words, can the Imam have ghayb knowledge what is happening in different regions of words while in the comfort of his home?)

He (the Imam) said: O Mufaddal -God, Blessed and Exalted be He, gave the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family, five spirits:

⁃ the spirit of life in which he went about

⁃ the spirit of strength, in which rose and fought

⁃ the spirit of eating, drinking, and consummating with women in


⁃ the spirit of faith from which he ordered and judged

⁃ the Holy Spirit, through which he carried the prophecy.

When the the Prophet, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him and his family died - the Holy Spirit moved and became in the Imam.

And the Holy Spirit is constant, by which he (the Imam) sees what is in the east and west of the earth, its land and its sea.

I asked him (the Imam):

Can the Imam see the entirety of Baghdad wrapped in his hand?

He (the Imam) said:


Yes, and everything below the throne of Allah.”

حدثنا الحسين بن محمد بن عامر عن معلى بن محمد حدثني أبو الفضل عبد الله )13( بن إدريس عن محمد بن سنان عن المفضل بن عمرقال قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام سئلته عن علم الإمام بما في أقطار الأرض وهو في بيته مرخى عليه ستره فقال يا مفضل ان الله تباركوتعالى جعل للنبي صلى الله عليه وآله خمسة أرواح روح الحياة فيه دب ودرج وروح القوة فبه نهض وجاهد وروح الشهوة فبه اكل وشرب واتىالنساء من الحلال وروح الايمان فبه امر وعدل وروح القدس فبه حمل النبوة فإذا قبض النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم انتقل روح القدسفصار في الامام وروح القدس لا ينام ولا يغفل ولا يلهوا ولا يسهوا والأربعة الأرواح تنام وتلهوا وتغفل وتسهوا وروح القدس ثابت يرى به ما فيشرق الأرض وغربها وبرها وبحرها قلت جعلت فداك يتناول الامام ما ببغداد بيده قال نعم و ما دون العرش

The first four spirits are illusions and not truly representative of the Imams, however, this will be a topic comprehensively discussed in later posts. I digress.

As for how the Imams apply to the portion of the verse stating, “And He knows where it lives and where it is laid to rest” –

Following hadith clarifies:

(Al-Saduq’s Ma’any al-Akhbar, page 16)

Narrated Muhammed ibn Muslim:

“I heard Imam al-Sadiq say: 

Indeed, to Allah, Exalted and Glorious is He, there are creations which He created from His Light, and a mercy from His mercy to His mercy; they are the observing Eye of Allah, and His hearing Ear, and his Tongue that speaks with his creation by His permission, and His Guardians upon what He has sent down of Justification, Warning or Proof. 

Hence, by them Allah erases misdeeds, and by them He repels grievance, and by them He sends down mercy, and by them He brings life into a dead and makes dead a living, and by them He tests His creation, and by them He decides in His creation His decision. I said: May I be sacrificed for you, who are these? 

He said: The Imams.

1 - أبي رحمه الله، قالحدثنا سعد بن عبد الله، قالحدثنا أحمد بن محمد ابن عيسى، عن الحسين بن سعيد، عن فضالة بن أيوب، عنأبان بن عثمان، عن محمد بن مسلم قالسمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقولإن لله عز وجل خلقا من رحمته خلقهم من نوره ورحمته منرحمته لرحمته (١فهم عين الله الناظرة، وأذنه السامعة ولسانه الناطق في خلقه بإذنه، وأمناؤه على ما أنزل من عذر أو نذر أو حجة، فبهميمحو السيئات، وبهم يدفع الضيم، وبهم ينزل الرحمة، وبهم يحيي ميتا، وبهم يميت حيا، وبهم يبتلي خلقه، وبهم يقضي في خلقه قضيته،قلتجعلت فداك من هؤلاء؟ قالالأوصياء.

This companion Muhammad ibn Muslim is of low comprehension of the Imam’s status – as discussed in previous posts, hence the usage of the term “creation” in referring to the Imams. 

If the Imam went any further in elaborating his divinity, the companion would disbelieve and cause chaos among the Shi’a. 

Yet, Imam al-Sadiq still wished to inspire a degree of high ma’rifa among the Shi’a who were sitting in the Imam’s circle while Muhammad ibn Muslim heard the hadith. 

However, for taqiyya purposes (likely from Muhammad ibn Muslim), the Imam abstained from affirming his divinity.

Divinity, however, is not the main point of this article so shall not be expanded on. An overview was necessary however to understand the mechanism by which Istighatha is made possible.

Accordingly, we can derive three key points from these ahadith:

  1. The Imam can be called on directly, as the manifestation of Allah
  2. The Imam’s power is all-extensive. He sees all of creation, and He serves all of creation.
  3. One is to seek the protection of the Imam and request from the Imam directly, if he wishes his prayer to be answered. As the Imams’ names are what Allah loves to be called upon by mankind. 


A conspicuous sight in the sacred city of Karbala every year is the pilgrimage of millions of Shi’a faithful to the shrine of Imam Husayn.

Upon reaching the holy site where Husayn’s remains are believed by the mainstream to lay, the Shi’a enter the shrine’s proximity and perform direct intercession from the Imam:

“O Husayn, heal me”, “O Husayn! Give me wealth”, among other prayers.

The dismissal of skeptics notwithstanding, this act is directly legitimized by our Imams – as Imam al-Sadiq said:


“A number of our people have narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from Ali ibn al-Hakam from certain individuals of our people who has said the following: 

“Imam al-Sadiq has said that if you wish to visit al-Husayn, you should visit him when you feel sad, faced with hardship, in an untidy physical condition, hungry and thirsty. 

Ask him to help you with your wishes, then move away and do not adopt it as your place of residence.”

2ـ عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحَكَمِ عَنْ بَعْضِ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الله (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمقَالَ إِذَا أَرَدْتَ زِيَارَةَ الْحُسَيْنِ(عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمفَزُرْهُ وَأَنْتَ حَزِينٌ مَكْرُوبٌ شَعِثٌ مُغْبَرٌّ جَائِعٌ عَطْشَانُ وَسَلْهُ الْحَوَائِجَ وَانْصَرِفْ عَنْهُ وَلا تَتَّخِذْهُ وَطَناً.

One would be mistaken however, if he were to believe that one needs to be in physical proximity to the shrine of Husayn for his prayer to be granted.

That line of thinking would be similar to one erroneously believing that Allah only answers prayer when one is near the Kaaba.

Rather, this following hadith of Twelver theme is more clearly demonstrative of the Imamology regarding when Istighatha can be made –

Ibn Tawus quotes in his book Kashf al-Mahajja from the now-lost book “Kitab al-Rasa’il” by al-Kulayni (author of al-Kafi):

“A companion of al-Kadhim says:

“I wrote to Abu al-Hasan, peace be upon him, that a man wishes to convey to his imam what he likes to convey to his Lord (i.e, asking Allah something in our hearts, without saying it out loud).

He said, so he wrote: If you have a need, move your lips, for the answer will come to you”

18 - أقولروى السيد ابن طاووس في كشف المحجة من كتاب الرسائل لمحمد بن يعقوب الكليني، عمن سماه قالكتبت إلى أبي الحسنعليه السلام أن الرجل يحب أن يفضي إلى إمامه ما يحب أن يفضي إلى ربه، قال فكتبإن كانت لك حاجة فحرك شفتيك، فان الجواب يأتيك

You can speak to your Imam anywhere you are, ask him for anything you wish – and the answer will come to you.  

This idea evidently is problematic, as there are apparent connotations of divinity. Qualities reserved only for Allah, applying to the Imam.

Thus – the Imams simplified the idea of the Imams knowing everything about the deeds (and thus desires and inner thoughts) about mankind.

The Imams would tell their Shi’a of low comprehension that Allah created lighthouses in every town on earth in which the Imam can examine the deeds of creation.


Narrated Jamil ibn Darraj who has said the following:

“Several persons of our people have narrated that:

“The Imam (al-Sadiq) has said, “Do not speak about the Imam. 

The Imam hears words while he still is in the womb of his mother. 

When she would give birth the angel write between his eyes, “. .in all truth and justice, your Lord’s Word has been completed. No one can change His Words. He is All-hearing and All-knowing.”. (6:115) 

When Imam takes charge of the matter (Leadership with Divine Authority) in every a light house will be established for him through which he would examine the deeds of the servants (of Allah).”

6ـ عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ حَدِيدٍ عَنْ جَمِيلِ بْنِ دَرَّاجٍ قَالَ رَوَى غَيْرُ وَاحِدٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا أَنَّهُ قَالَ لا تَتَكَلَّمُوا فِي الامَامِفَإِنَّ الامَامَ يَسْمَعُ الْكَلامَ وَهُوَ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ فَإِذَا وَضَعَتْهُ كَتَبَ الْمَلَكُ بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً لا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِماتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُفَإِذَا قَامَ بِالامْرِ رُفِعَ لَهُ فِي كُلِّ بَلْدَةٍ مَنَارٌ يَنْظُرُ مِنْهُ إِلَى أَعْمَالِ الْعِبَادِ


“A number of our people have narrated Ahmad ibn Muhammad from ibn Mahbub from al-Rabi‘ ibn Muhammad al-Musalli from Muhammad ibn Marwan who has said the following:

“I heard Imam al-Sadiq say:

 ‘The Imam hears in the womb of his mother and when he is born these words of Allah will be written between his shoulders, “. .in all truth and justice, your Lord’s Word has been completed. No one can change His Words. He is All-hearing and All-knowing.”. (6:115) When the matter (Leadership with Divine Authority) is delivered to him Allah establishes a pillar of light for him through which he can see the deeds of the people of every town.

4ـ عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنِ الرَّبِيعِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ الْمُسْلِيِّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مَرْوَانَ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ الله (عَلَيْهِالسَّلاميَقُولُ إِنَّ الامَامَ لَيَسْمَعُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ فَإِذَا وُلِدَ خُطَّ بَيْنَ كَتِفَيْهِ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً لا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِماتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ فَإِذَاصَارَ الامْرُ إِلَيْهِ جَعَلَ الله لَهُ عَمُوداً مِنْ نُورٍ يُبْصِرُ بِهِ مَا يَعْمَلُ أَهْلُ كُلِّ بَلْدَةٍ

Two main points can be assessed from these ahadith:

  1. The Imam sees and hears you wherever you are. You can call onto him, ask for his help – even nonverbally, in your heart. 
  2. The closest place for answer of istighatha is one done in holy places where one is closest to God, such as the shrine of Imam Husayn or the Kaaba. 


As Twelver scholars strode with pride though the halls of the Caliphal palaces, under protection of the Abbasid caliph or his vizier –

The role of the Imams (particularly the Mahdi) seemed to be dwarfed by the grandiosity of Twelver clergy, long enabled by the state court.

The average believer now sought the scholar, instead of the Imam, in his religious queries. 

What then is the use of believing in a hidden Imam with no communication with the outside world, if a fallible scholar can take his place?

This problematic question inspired classical and early pre-classical Twelver scholars to recall stories and tales on ways in which the hidden Imam can still benefit the average Shi’i believer. 

By doing so, the Imam’s role would remain essential to the Shi’a - despite his absence. 

Accordingly – Sayyid ibn Tawus, maternal grandson of Shaykh al-Tusi and early post-classical scholar, narrates the following story in which the Twelfth Imam miraculously appears to Muhammad ibn Harun al-Tal’akbri (teacher of Najashi).

In doing so, the Twelfth Imam teaches Al-Tal’akbri an Istighatha enchantment:

(Faraj al-Mahmum by Ibn Tawus, page 246)

“Place your right cheek on the ground and say a hundred times in your prostration: 

O Muhammad, O Ali, you are sufficient, so suffice me. And you are my victors, so give me victory..”

حاجتك ثم تضع خدك الأيمن على الأرض وتقول مائة مرة في سجودك يا محمد يا علي اكفياني فإنكما كافياي وانصراني فإنكما ناصراي،ثم تضع خدك الأيسر على الأرض وتقول ادركني يا صاحب الزمان، وتكر ذلك كثيرا وتقول الغوث الغوث الغوث حتى ينقطع النفس وترفعرأسك فان الله بكرمه يقضي حاجتك إن شاء الله

In another passage, Ibn Tawus recommends the following Istighatha prayer - which he describes the prayer of “al-Hasan ibn Ali”

(Jamal al-Usbu’ by Ibn Tawus, page 181)

O Muhammad, O Ali, you are sufficient, so suffice me. And you are my victors, so give me victory.. 

O Muhammad O Ali, O Ali O Muhammad. Protect me as you are my protectors.

O my my master O Sahib al-Zaman (Imam al-Mahdi). Help me! Help me! Help me! Recognize me! Recognize me! Recognize me! Give me safety! Give me safety! Give me safety”

إعزازه، يا محمد يا علي يا علي يا محمد اكفياني فإنكما كافياي، يا محمد يا علي يا علي يا محمد انصراني فإنكما ناصراي، يا محمد ياعلي يا علي يا محمد احفظاني فإنكما حافظاي، يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان ثلاث مرات الغوث الغوث الغوث، أدركني أدركني أدركني، الأمانالأمان الأمان

Finally, the last example we will put through is that of al-Qutb al-Rawandi (d. 500s AH). With it, we shall conclude our article inshallah.

The following hadith purports that the narrator was instructed to perform istighatha from the Mahdi in a dream, to free himself of the shackles of the unjust ruler Ibn Elias.

Upon doing so, the Mahdi answered his prayer and appeared directly to the narrator, promising to avenge him – after which, Ibn Elias freed the man.

(Rawandi’s Da’awat, page 192)

As for the Hujja (Imam al-Mahdi), if the sword of the enemy comes to slaughter you - and he gestured with his hand to the throat - then seek istighatha from the Mahdi, for he will help you, and he is a relief and a refuge for those who seek help from him.

So I said “O my Lord, O Master of the Time, I perform Istighatha to you (i.e, “seek your help)”.

Then I saw a person who had descended from the sky with a horse under him and in his hand a spear of light. So I said: O my Lord, protect me from the evil of those who harm me.

The Imam said: I have sufficed you. For I asked God Almighty to permit me to help you), and He answered my request. 

In the morning, (Ibn) Elias summoned me (and loosened my chains and panicked on me) and said: To whom did you seek Istighatha? So I said: (I sought help) from Him who is the helper of those seeking help.”

وأما الحجة فإذا بلغ منك السيف المذبح - وأومأ بيده إلى الحلق - فاستغث به فإنه يغيثك، وهو غياث وكهف لمن استغاث به.

فقلت (1): (يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان أنا مستغيث بكفإذا أنا بشخص قد نزل من السماء تحته فرس (2) وبيده حربة من نور (3) فقلتيامولاي اكفني شر من يؤذيني، فقالقد كفيتك، (فإنني سألت الله عز وجل فيك وقد استجاب دعوتي) (4)، فأصبحت فاستدعاني (ابن) (5) إلياس، (وحل قيدي وهلع على) (6) وقالبمن استغث؟ فقلت: (استغثت) (7) بمن هو غياث المستغيثين (حتى سأل ربه عز وجل والحمد لله ربالعالمين


Over the course of this article, we have established key facts regarding the legitimacy, historicity, and surrounding details regarding Istighatha.

One cannot however deny that skepticism with regards to this act arises not simply from defiance or contrarianism to anything established in the popular Shi’i conscience.

Rather, critics denying Istighatha as being present at all in this scripture is reflective of attempts by some classical scholars to de-emphasize the act.

Surviving Shi’i hadith exists chiefly in the form of compilations of pre-existing books, selectively taking ahadith from such books which fit the compilation author’s point of view.

The Ghayba-era clergy seeking respite from state persecution and vicious attacks from Sunni scholarship, attempted to cast Tashayyu’ as more part of “mainstream Islam”.

Thus, we see more reports which call upon Allah directly and ask for his help - as opposed to reports asking for the Imams’ help directly (which Sunnis would assume to be ghuluw or heresy).

Hope this post benefitted you all!


John Andaluso