By Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 6 June 2017 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town

We continue with our discussion on the second part of Dua Makarimul Akhlaq.

Though last night we briefly referred to the following extract of the Dua, tonight we wish to go into a little more detail.

وَعَبِّدْنِي لَكَ وَلاَ تُفْسِدْ عِبَادَتِي بِالْعُجْبِ،

“Make me worship You and do not let my worship be corrupted by self-admiration”

وَأَجْرِ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى يَدَيَّ الْخَيْرَ، وَلا تَمْحَقْهُ بِالْمَنِّ،

“Let good flow out from my hands upon the people and efface it not by my making them feel obliged!”

وَهَبْ لِي مَعَالِيَ الأَخْلاَقِ، وَاعْصِمْنِي مِنَ الْفَخْرِ.

“Give me the highest moral traits and preserve me from vainglory!”


Different interpreters of Sahifa Sajjadiyyah have given different explanations to the phrase “abbidni” in this Dua. As we have translated it above, some say it means “make me worship”.

The other explanation is that “abbidni” means “make me a servant.”

Ubudiyyat refers to servitude which is in contrast to Mastership.

The definition of Ubudiyyat is to have a sense of submission and humiliation to ones Master. Thus some of the interpreters have translated this sentence as let me be a slave or let me be submitted or let me be surrendered.

This might all be correct as the Dua seeks to teach us that to be a servant before Allah is a great position to achieve.

Ibadah on the other hand is an expression of the climax of humility where one shows reverence before Allah.


Thus ulama say there are 2 things which are exclusively for Allah – worship and sajda.
A person can only express the peak of his submission and humility before Allah and the second is Sajdah which is a form of Ibadat.

Just to bow down can also be a form of Ibadat, but that type of Ibadat is not exclusive to Allah. If you bow before your teacher, it is acceptable as it’s a form of expressing respect to him or her.

Similarly to bow down before your parents is also a form of respect. In fact in this regard the Quran commands us to “lower your wings of humility” before your parents. That is because they are the means through whom you were given life, they provided you with food, shelter, education, care, love, etc.

But this bowing down is not with the belief that they are God. When bowing down with knowledge and belief that it’s God, that’s something else.

Sajda on the other hand is only for Allah. You can’t make Sajdah to anyone even out of respect. One can’t even do Sajdah to the Prophet (sawa) or Imams (a.s).

So what about the Angels having made Sajdah to Prophet Adam (a.s)?

This question was posed to the 6th Imam Saadiq (a.s) who replied that the Sajdah made by the Angels to Prophet Adam (a.s) was not for Prophet Adam (a.s) but was Sajdah for Allah – it’s only that Allah commanded them to make the Qibla or direction of that particular Sajdah to be in the direction of Prophet Adam (a.s).

This expression of the peak of your humility is called Ibadah and Ibadah is thus higher than Ubudiyyah though the station of Ubudiyyah is the highest station that one can reach in your spiritual journey towards Haq and Truth. This is a technical discussion which will be left for another time.

The other point in relation to this Dua is that to be a servant results in Ibadat to Allah causes liberation from everyone else as one becomes free from slavery to one’s self, free from slavery to false gods, free from slavery to money, free from slavery to taghut, etc.


After seeking the status of Ubudiyyah, the Imam immediately asks that his ibadat is not nullified due to ujb or conceitedness.

Earlier when discussing the issue of niyyah, we said that arrogance and conceit are challenges for keeping one’s intention pure.

And last night we summarised 3 different conditions for nafs being self respect, arrogance and conceit.

But this ujb we referring to now is in ibadat.

An interpreter of Sahiffah Sajjadiyyah says ujb has the following elements:

– the first element is magnification of the good deed, i.e. you make something good bigger than it actually is;

– the second element is that you also consider the deed to be faultless and one that is dependable;

– the third is that by doing this good deed, a person rejoices from it….this is actually satanic joy;

– the fourth is that the person acts like Almighty Allah is obliged to him as if Allah owes him a favour in return;

– the fifth is that he now thinks he is protected from punishment due to his good deeds; and

– the sixth is that this all results in a hijab / veil between you and truth/haq

And therefore ujb/conceitedness nullifies ibadat.

The person does not realise that his doing good was by the support of Allah and not out of his own independently and ujb prevents you from realising that Allah gave you tawfiq and help.

This ujb blocks him from reaching the haqiqat of Tauheed.

The philosophy of Ibadat is not the external shape but to reach Tauheed and reach Sincerity in Lordship of Allah.

The 6th Imam Saadiq (a.s) says that:

“Allah Almighty said to Prophet Dawood (a.s), Oh Dawood! Give glad tidings to the sinners and warn the truthful ones (siddiqeen)”.

Remember that the “siddiqeen” are a very high class of spiritual people, yet Almighty Allah is warning them!

Prophet Dawood (a.s) then asked:

“how do I give glad tidings to sinners and a warning to the truthful?”

Allah replied: “give glad tidings to sinners that I accept repentance and forgive sins and warn the truthful ones that they should not become proud of their good deeds so there is no servant that thought he has something to carry except that he is punished.”

A person by the name of Bazanti was a student and companion of the 8th Imam Reza (a.s). He says that the Imam sent to him a messenger with an animal to ride (in other words transport) so he can come to see the Imam in a place called Arba and spent the night there. So he spoke to Imam until the time of Ishaa and then the Imam asked whether he wants to stay the night or go back the same night. So Bazanti decided to stay for the night.

So the Imam brought him a bed and bedding and greeted him and said sleep in peace and left to go to his own house. Since it was probably summer, Bazanti slept on top of the roof.

At that moment he thought what an honour he had being entertained by the 8th Infallible Imam and the five star treatment he received. This thought hardly came in his mind and suddenly he heard someone saying “Ahmad, hold on” and when he looked who it was, he found the Imam’s servant standing next to him and said the Imam is calling him. So he went to listen to what the Imam had to say.

He says Imam Reza (a.s) took his hand and pressed it hard and narrated to him an incident (most likely at the end of the life of Imam Ali (a.s)) regarding a very pious companion of Imam Ali (a.s) called Ibn Sawhaan who came to visit Imam Ali (a.s) and when he wanted to leave, Imam Ali (a.s) said to him “Do not be proud of visiting me and think it’s a great honour for you.”

This is how conceit easily sneaks into our life that we should be weary of.


So how does one obliterate conceit?

The answer lies in Ubudiyyah and the realisation that we are a servant and depend on Allah completely and are not a Master in any way.

Realise that we are nothing, our deeds in reality has no value before Almighty Allah, they only have value if Allah is kind of us. That realisation in short gets rid of the feeling of conceit.

Our teacher Ayatullah Taqdiri with whom we lived for a few years and prayed behind him 5 times a day was someone who had great focus in salaah and to pray behind him was always great.

There are very few incidents that I recall that he forgot something in salaah. In one of those incidents at the end of the salaah we found that he cried so much in the realisation that with all his focus, he should be on guard that he is a servant and nothing else and this moment of forgetfulness was a shocking realisation thereof.

The result of ubudiyyat is freedom from desire and once you are free, this soul seeks ways and methods to achieve the pleasure of its Master.


Now after having travelled such a sublime path, the Imam wants his hands to be in service of Allah’s creation and thus prays:

وَأَجْرِ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى يَدَيَّ الْخَيْرَ، وَلا تَمْحَقْهُ بِالْمَنِّ،

“Let good flow out from my hands upon the people and efface it not by my making them feel obliged!”

The Imam introduces us to the best way to serve Allah and that is to be in service of His creation.

The Quran narrates from the life of Prophet Eesa (a.s) when he was still a baby in his cradle and when he introduced himself and is quoted as saying the following in Surah Maryam Verse 30-31:

قَالَ إِنّـِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ ءَاتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيّاً

“He (miraculously) said: ‘Verily I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet’.”

وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكاً أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ

“And He has made me blessed wherever I may be”.

Imam Saadiq (a.s) interprets this verse to mean “I am the source of good and benefit to the people, wherever I am.”


There is no doubt about the importance of the issue of doing good and the fact that the Quran refers to it extensively under the title “Ihsan”. “Ihsan” comes from “hassan” which means good and Ihsan means to do good to others. Muhsin is the one who does good to others.

From the Quran we find various references to this concept from different angles. For example on 4 occasions in the Quran, Almighty Allah says:

إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“Verily Allah loves the doers of good”.

This means that Allah loves those who are a benefit and source of good to others.

In 4 other verses Almighty Allah emphasizes that the reward of good doers never goes to waste:

وَاصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُـحْسِنِينَ

“And be patient (and steadfast); for verily Allah does not waste the reward of the righteous (ones).”

And then on more than 9 occasions Almighty Allah says, in reference to the reward given to good doers:

كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“Eat ye and drink ye pleasantly (until you are satiated) in return for what ye did”

“Thus do We certainly reward the Doers of Good”.

The Quran also says that good doers will receive rewards in this world as well as in the next world.

فَآتَاهُمُ اللّهُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا وَحُسْنَ ثَوَابِ الآخِرَةِ

“So Allah gave them the reward of the world and the goodness of the reward of the Hereafter”.

All of this is a consequence of Ihsan. Ibadat is only truly valuable when it benefits others.

The worst thing in life and Akhlaq is to be self-centered and to only be concerned about self-interest – that is actually someone who is stuck in the prison of himself.

But someone who is a servant of Allah is by nature wants to benefit others.

In ahadith we learn the concept that “people (creation of Allah) are the family of Allah, so the most beloved creation of Allah is he who makes a believer happy.”

Imam Saadiq (a.s) says “By Allah, to resolve the problem/need of a believer is better than one month of fasting and seclusion in it.”

Imam Hussain (a.s) says: “The needs of mankind is a blessing Allah to you, so do not become tired of Allah’s favours!”

In actual fact, this Ihsan is a very broad concept and extends to doing going to:

– all human beings;

– to animals; and

– to the environment

And let me end with a very motivational hadith of Prophet Muhammad (sawa). He says “In night of Miraj when I was going through paradise I saw an adultress, so I asked her how she was in jannah, so I was told one she past a dog dying out of hunger so that its tongue was hanging out of its mouth due to thirst. She had a covering/scarf and threw it into a well which was deep and it wet a corner of the scarf with that water and she pulled it out and pressed the drops of water from the scarf into the mouth of this dog, so Allah forgave her.”

Being beneficial to someone is so loved by Allah that it can compensate for the worst of sins!

And thus the practical life of the Prophet (sawa) and Imams (a.s) was always to benefit people.

To be continued……….