Q. What is the benefit of reciting the litanies (ahzab, awrad) ascribed to
the major Sufis? Isn’t it best to restrict oneself to reciting litanies from
the Qur’an and Sunna?
A. It is obvious to anyone that reads the litanies of our masters, the
Sufis, that many of them have been gathered from the dhikrs and du’as that
have come to us [s: from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him] and
from others which have been arranged by righteous scholars. So whoever reads
them is actually reading from the Prophet’s sunna as well as others, so he
gets the reward for both of them, and he receives the benefit of acquiring
blessings in everything he does, receiving protection from the Shaytan and
his whisperings, as well as purity of heart and tranquility and more from
what has come about the merits of du’as and dhikr.
There has been scholarly consensus on the permissibility of asking for what
one wants in du’a as long as it is not a sinful request or the cutting off
of relations, as has come in a hadith. And the reason for many people
concerning themselves with reading the du`as of great Sufis is that, as the
questioner said, they [s. the great Sufis] are very knowledgeable in this
and tasawwuf is nothing but the knowledge of sincerity and adab with Allah
in everything. So for these types of people, du’as and praise of Allah,
Majestic is He, is always flowing on their tongues which is not easy for
most people because they are far from knowing Allah, Most High, and He has
said in his honorable book, “Fear Allah and Allah will teach you”.
True, the dhikrs and dua’s which have come from the Prophet are better than
any other that has come to us, as Imam al-Nawawi has mentioned in the
beginning of the Adhkar, and with that, we see that he, may Allah have mercy
on him, has gathered for himself a famous litany which includes invocations
from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and from others.
To further explain what he means by his first paragraph, there are generally
six “types” of awrad and azhab that I have come across, those which are:
1. composed entirely of Qur’an ayats being strung together in a
2. composed entirely of Qur’anic and Prophetic adhkar and du’as (like
many of Imam al-Haddad’s awrad and the famous wird of Imam Nawawi)
3. admixtures of the second and “original” supplications, transmitted
from the Spiritual Masters (like many of the Shadhili awrad)
4. invocations of particular Divine names (such as the various Latifiyyas
in existence or the practice of many tariqas of invoking the name “Allah” in
5. extended supplications of prayers and blessing upon the Messenger of
Allah (such as the famous Dala’il al-Khayrat of Imam Jazuli or the
6. the regular (e.g. habitual) supplications composed and transmitted by
the fuqaha (of which Imam Shafi’i’s is perhaps the most famous)
most people who condemn awrad have never recited them themselves, so in
reality, they have no concrete knowledge of what they are actually
condemning, like the people who have waged a war on the mawlid, but have
never participated in one themselves.
something else, paraphrased from Tariqa Notes, Sh. Nuh Keller:
As some of the Shaikhs of the path have said: The sunnah supplications were
not intended to take the place of all others.
1.There are too many sunnah dhikrs to be said on a daily basis. A single
collection of them, like at-Tabaranis Kitab ad-Dua contains more than 2000.
Imam Nawawis Adhkar contains about 1600. the daily reciting of which
(assuming one could memorize them) would leave to for nothing else, and life
would have to stop.
2. Because Allah does not demand the impossible from His servants, something
else must be meant;whether to give servants freshness and variety in thier
duas or to teach us that the Prophet (saw), in the words of Aisha: “Used to
make Dhikr at all of his times.” or for some other divine wisdom.
3. The Prophet (saw) himself taught us that the sunnah does not discourage
other prayers and duas, but rather they are part of the sunnah as well, as
it attested to by the sahih hadith of Buraydah:
“I entered the masjid with the messenger of Allah (saw), where a man was at
prayer saying in his dua: Oh Allah, I ask you by the fact that I testify
that there is no god but You, al-Ahad, as-Samad, aladhi lam yalid wa lam
yulad, wa lam yakun lahu kuf’uan ahad.-and the Prophet (saw) said: By Him in
whose hand is my soul, he has asked Allah by His greatest name, which if he
is asked by it, He gives, and if supplicated, he answers.”"
This establishes that when the companions made up their own duas without
previous instruction from the Prophet (saw), he did not merely tolerate it,
but rather encouraged it with the highest degree of approbation and
acceptance-thereby legislating until the end of time that duas other than
those he explicitly taught are recommended in a general sense as part of the
sunna and secondly, that they should be remembered and transmitted too.