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Al-Sahifat Al-Sajjadiyya

sahifa sahifa sahifa
Al-Sahifat Al-Sajjadiyya is the oldest prayer manual in Islamic sources and one of the most seminal works of Islamic spirituality of the early period. It was composed by the Prophet's great grandson, `Ali ibn al-Husayn, known as Zayn al-'Abidin (`the adornment of the worshippers'), and has been cherished in Shi'ite sources from earliest times. Zayn al-'Abidin was the fourth of the Shi'ite Imams, after his father Husayn, his uncle Hasan, and his grandfather 'Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law. Shi'ite tradition considers the Sahifa a book worthy of the utmost veneration, ranking it behind only the Qur'an and `Ali's Nahj al-balagha.


Ali ibn al-Husayn was born in Medina, according to most sources in the year 38/658-9. He may have been too small to have remembered his grandfather 'Ali, who was killed in 40/661, but he was brought up in the presence of his uncle Hasan and his father Husayn, the Prophet's beloved grandchildren. Many Shi'ite sources state that his mother was Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdigird, the last Sasanian king of Persia. Thus he was said to be `Ibn al-Khiyaratayn', the `son of the best two', meaning the Quraysh among the Arabs and the Persians among the non-Arabs. According to some accounts, his mother was brought as a captive to Medina during the caliphate of `Umar, who wanted to sell her. `Ali suggested instead that she be offered her choice of the Muslim men as husband and that her dower be paid from the public treasury. `Umar agreed and she chose 'Ali's son Husayn. She is said to have died shortly after giving birth to her only son `Ali.

Al-Sahifat Al-Sajjadiyya

The title Al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya means simply `The Book of al-Sajjad'. Al-Sajjad is one of the titles given to Zayn al-'Abidin and signifies `the one who constantly prostrates himself in prayer'. The book is often called Al-Sahifat al-Kamilat al-Sajjadiyya, that is, `The "Perfect", or "Complete", Book of al-Sajjad'. According to its commentator Sayyid `Alikhan Shirazi, the word kamila refers to the perfection of the style and content; some sources state that the adjective was added to differentiate it from another, incomplete version of the work, which is known among the Zaydis, but this seems less likely, given the manner in which the title is employed in the preface (verse 20). The Sahifa has been called by various honorifics, such as `Sister of the Qur'an', `Gospel of the Folk of the House', and `Psalms of the Household of Muhammad'.
According to Shi'ite tradition, Zayn al-'Abidin had collected his supplications and taught them to his children, especially Muhammad al-Baqir and Zayd. In later times the text became widely disseminated among Shi'ites of all persuasions. The specialists in the science of hadith maintain that the text is mutawatir; in other words, it was generally known from earliest times and has been handed down by numerous chains of transmission, while its authenticity has never been questioned. Nevertheless, the arrangement of the text allows us to draw a certain distinction between the fifty-four supplications which make the main body of the text and the additional supplications which make up the fourteen addenda (including the prayers for the days of the week) and the fifteen munajat or `whispered prayers'. The original fifty-four supplications show an undeniable freshness and unity of theme and style, while the latter, especially the munajat, add a certain orderliness and self-conscious artistry which may suggest the hand of an editor. The addenda are said to have been collected and added to the text by Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Makki, known as al-Shahid al-Awwal (the `first martyr'), the famous author of Al-Lum'at al-Dimashqiyya in jurisprudence (fiqh) who was killed in Aleppo in 786/1384. The fifteen munajat have been added to several modern editions of the Sahifa and seem to have been brought to the attention of the main body of Shi'ites by `Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (d. 1110/1689-9 or a year later), author of the monumental compilation of Shi'ite hadith, Bihar al-Anwar.

    View the contant of Al-Sahifat Al-Sajjadiyya online at Al-Islam Home Page

Published by the Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 17 Beverley Way, West Wimbledon, London SW20 0AW, England. First published in 1988.

Inquiries about Islam

Imam Chirri
Dr. Wilson
Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri, the author, and Dr. Wilson H. Guertin who directed to the Imam the questions which are recorded in this book.

Mohamad Jawad Chirri

Mohamad Jawad Chirri is a native of Lebanon and a graduate of the distinguished religious institute of Najaf, in Iraq. He is a theologian and lecturer. The Islamic Community invited him to Detroit, Michigan, in 1949. Imam Chirri is the director and spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of America, 15571 Joy Road, Detroit, Michigan 48228.
His work extends far enough to include West Africa and the Middle East. Two important Islamic schools of thought had been in disagreement and dispute for centuries. While on a lecture tour of West Africa and the Middle East, in 1959, Imam Chirri called upon the head of the Sunni school, Sheikh Al-Azhar in Cairo, to recognize the other school.
In response to Imam Chirri's call, the majority leader issued a historical declaration which stated that the teachings of both schools are equally sound, and that Muslims have the right to choose either one.

Preface by the author

Dr. Wilson H. Guertin is a scientist and an outstanding psychologist. In addition, he has a great deal of respect towards religion and possesses a broad knowledge in theology. His interest in religion represents the interest of a scientist who thinks that religion, in general, contains some truth, in spite of being clouded by man's misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

We can hardly expect a scientist, who deals with facts and tries to unveil the secrets of nature and life, to believe in a religious teaching irreconcilable with the bare reality of nature, or with what had become an established scientific knowledge. A scientist, faced with a religious teaching opposed to the bare facts of nature or to an established scientific knowledge, is likely to take one of the following positions:
  • A. He may take a radical attitude by an outright rejection of religion in any form.
  • B. He may try to reconcile the religious concept with the established knowledge by interpreting the former in a way that will not clash with the latter.
  • C. He may study other religions in order to find one that is not opposed to logic and to the facts of nature.
  • Dr. Guertin took the third position and tried to find the truth by conducting a religious research in many religious avenues . His research was intensive. He examined many kinds of religious teachings, and finally came to examine the teaching of Islam.

    "I am a Christian by birth," he told me, "but ever since my early adulthood and extensive academic training, I have had doubts. As a scientist, I am no longer able to accept any religious doctrine that is inconsistent with a scientific knowledge. Having an inquisitive spirit, I tried to satisfy my doubt by looking into some religious teachings other than that of my own denomination. I tried many religious avenues, but I was never able to satisfy my doubt.

    "Finally, I read some literature about Islam, and that made me interested in acquiring more information about it. Now as I come to you, I am hopeful that I will be able to have a better knowledge of your faith. I understand that you have a profound knowledge of Islam, and that you are specialized in this field. I would like to conduct a research on Islam with you, and I am confident that you will be able to answer my questions. "

    The questions which he directed to me may come to the mind of any person who tries to find the truth in Islam and about Islam. I thought, therefore, that those questions and their answers ought to be recorded and published, and that a book containing our dialogues might be useful to any individual who has doubts and wants to find answers to pertinent questions.

    I know that a great number of people have similar problems, but they act indifferently. They keep their doubt and seek no guidance. Some of them turn their back on the whole religious issue, while others remain within their respective denominations with no earnest desire to seek the truth.

    Distinguished, indeed, are those who feel thirsty for religious knowledge and energetic enough to try to quench their thirst. This book is aimed to inform these seekers of truth and to satisfy the curiosity of anyone that may read it. If it should help the reader to clarify his religious thought, if it should bring about a better understanding of Islam, and if it should create a closer cooperation among the major religions, then the author would feel most gratified and extremely rewarded.
      You can View the Book Contents at al-islam homepage
      You can order this book online from Islamic Center of America

    Copyright 1965 by Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri Second Edition, 1979, Third Edition, 1980, Revised Edition Copyright 1986 by Imam Mohamad Chirri All rights reserved

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