Renowned for his piety and dedication to the Almighty’s worship, Maulana al-Imam ʿAli bin al-Imam al-Husain AS is famously known as Zayn al-ʿAbideen, Adornment of the Worshippers, as well as al-Sajjād, the one who prostrates frequently. Historical accounts report that he completed a thousand rakaʾāt (pl. of rakʿa, the basic unit of Muslim prayer, namaz, consisting of a bow and two prostrations) every single day.
The Imam also authored a number of supplicatory and petitionary prayers which eloquently capture the intimate relationship between the worshipper and the Creator, shed light on the intricacies of the human condition and offer insight into Islamic concepts of atonement, mercy and intercession. Bequeathing the knowledge and wisdom of these supplications to his son and successor, Maulana al-Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS, they were memorized and shared with their followers and the larger Muslim community and were eventually compiled into a collection that came to be known as al-Ṣaḥīfa al-Sajjādiyya.
Recitation of prayers authored by Imam ʿAli Zayn al-ʿAbideen AS have a significant role in the Dawoodi Bohra community’s traditions of worship and devotional practices. Beyond acting as supplements to night prayers often referred to as tahajjud and their daily recitation during the holy month of Ramaḍān al-Muʿaẓẓam, Imam Ali’s AS supplications have influenced and shaped much of the supplicatory, devotional literature authored by the Dawoodi Bohra community’s leadership.
At the behest and guidance of His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in recent times has had the honour of publishing these Arabic prayers along with their Lisan al-Daʿwat (the vernacular of Dawoodi Bohra community) translations for dissemination and use within the wider Dawoodi Bohra community. Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah students and faculty, during their month-long sojourns for community service during the holy month of Ramaḍān al-Muʿaẓẓam, also have the honour of reciting these prayers aloud to members of their congregation when leading worship. The literary merits of the prayers, and the various themes and subsequent works they have inspired, are studied at the Academy and have been the subject of a number of student and faculty research projects. Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’s library also houses one of the earliest known offset/lithographs of a prominent commentary on the Ṣahīfa. Printed in 1271AH/1854CE, Riyāḍ al-sālikīn fī sharh ṣahīfat Sayyid al-Sājidīn is a well-known commentary of al-Sahīfa al-Sajjādiyya written in Arabic by al-Sayyid Ṣadr al-Dīn ʿAlī Khān al-Husayni al-Shirāzī. As such, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah has been honoured with the service and preservation of both the spiritual and material legacy of this most treasured collection of prayers, often referred to as the Psalms of the Household of Mohammed SA.
The words and prayers of Imam ʿAli Zayn al-ʿAbideen AS are especially pertinent during these difficult times as the world, and specifically India, face the challenges of the global pandemic. During this holy month, Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah students and faculty pray for those affected by the pandemic and join the larger Dawoodi Bohra community in offering what support and assistance they can. May Allah the Almighty protect all humanity, reward those on the frontlines for their dedication, grant strength to the bereaved and afflicted and swiftly deliver us from this peril.