اُدْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً
Ud‘ū rabbakum tadharru‘an wa-khufyah
Call on your Lord, humbly and secretly . . . Sūratul A‘rāf (No. 7), Āyat 55
Du‘ā is to call out to Allah. It is to seek help, comfort, guidance, etc. from the Creator. Human beings are fortunate to have the doors of Du‘ā open for them. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says in his will to his son: Realize this truth, my son, that the Lord who owns and holds the treasures of Paradise and the earth has given you permission to ask and beg for them and He has promised to grant your prayers. (Nahjul Balāgha, Letter 31)
One of the recommended forms of Du‘ā is munājāt, a whispered conversation with Allah. A munājāt creates closeness and intimacy between the reciter and Allah. It brings great peace and joy to a believer. In Hadith al-Qudsī, Almighty Allah tells Prophet Dāwūd (a), O Dāwūd, With Me (as your Lord) be happy, and through My Remembrance seek pleasure, and through My Munājāt find joy. (MH, H. 19735)
A munājāt is distinguished by the following qualities:
1) Solitude. According to Hadith munājāt is done in private, away from other people. When a believer is alone, with none to witness him and hear him, he is most sincere. What he says and does is only for the pleasure of Allah. Also, he is not afraid to humble himself and weep. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says: Whoever seeks privacy with his Lord, he will achieve a warmth that helps him resist evil, and a life that is deeply gratifying. (MH, H. 19737)
2) Night-time. The night is the best time for worship and praying to Allah. According to Hadith al-Qudsī, whoever says he loves Allah but sleeps the entire night without worshiping Allah, has lied. The night is a time when people need to sleep to refresh themselves from the labor of the day. But those who love Allah fore go part of their sleep and use that time to talk to Allah. Imam Ali Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) says in a supplication he used to recite at night: My God, the stars of Your sky have descended and the eyes of Your creature are sleeping and the voices of Your servants and Your animals have become silent and the kings have locked their doors and their guards are moving around them and they are sealed from he who wishes to ask them for a need or to get benefit from them. But You my God are Eever Living, Self-Subsistent; slumber or sleep does not overtake You and one thing does not occupy You from another (Tahajjud Salāt, p. 26).
3) Emotion. A munājāt is a conversation that is very special. It comes from the depth of the heart and makes the reciter open his heart to His Lord. A mixture of deep emotions is felt by the reciter as he talks to Allah. These emotions could include: grief at sins committed, love for Allah, yearning for the pleasure of Allah, fear at the fate which waits in the Hereafter, hope in the mercy of Allah, anger at the self . . . etc.
The Masumīn (a) have taught us beautiful munājāt with which to communicate with Allah. These include the Munājāt Masjid Kūfa of Amīrul Mu’minī (a), and the 15 Whispered Prayers found in the SaHīfa Sajādiyya. We have recited many of these during the nights of the month of Ramadan. The aim should now be to continue this occasionally at least, to maintain that closeness to Allah which munājāt can bring.
Sources: Mīzānul Hikmah, Muhammadi Rayshahrī; Nahjul Balāgha, Imam Ali (a); SaHīfa Sajjādiyya, Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a).