The Wird [Litany] of Shehu `Usman Dan Fodio

[Bismillah ir-Raḥmān ir-Raḥīm] 

The Shehu disseminated many awraad (litanies) to his disciples, all of them were transmitted through unbroken chains of transmission. At the age of 40 and some months the Shehu recieved a wird which reflected his personal spiritual attainments and connected his followers to the light which he had received directly from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This spiritual experience which the Shehu described as jadhab (divine attraction) was resonant of the spiritual ascent of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he was taken from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there through the seven heavens into the very presence of Allah ta`ala. The Shehu said,

He is our Imam, we will never go astray, the year I was made a branch of him (Muhammad); thus was I made to resemble him.”

In his Kitaab ‘l-Wird he said describing this event,

“I then found written on my fifth rib on the right side of my body, written with the pen of the decree of Allah,

al-hamdu lillahi rabbi ‘l-`aalameen (‘All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds’) ten times;

allahumma salli `ala sayyidinaa muhammadin wa `ala aali sayyidinaa muhammadin wa sallim (‘O Allah bless our master Muhammad and the family of our master Muhammad’) ten times;

and astaghfiru Allah ‘l-`adheem (I seek forgiveness of Allah the Mighty) ten times.

I was amazed at this. Consequently, when I had attained the age of forty years, five months and some days, Allah gave me divine attraction into His presence (jadhabanii Allahu ilayhi). I was girded with the Sword of Truth and ordered to unleash it against the enemies of Allah. I was ordered to do what was I was ordered. I was also given permission to disseminate this wird which was inscribed to my rib and I was guaranteed that for whoever adhered to it that Allah would intercede for him in all of his desires.

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I. It is necessary for us to praise Allah to the extent which is befitting His praises as an incumbent obligation without limit. Since inability, laziness and listlessness is established upon us, the praises befitting Allah has been reduced for us and there remains for us only to praise Him ten times. Five of these are for the purpose of extolling Him. That is we praise Him for five eternal blessings:

[1] We praise Him for creating us when we were nothing;

[2] We praise Him for making us among the children of Adam as a particularized blessings over most of His creation;

[3] We praise Him for making us Muslims as a distinct blessings for us;

[4] We praise Him for making us among the umma of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as a preferred blessing for us;

[5] We praise Him for giving us success in these times of reviving (tajdeed) His religion as a select blessing for us.

After that we praise Allah showing gratitude for five all embracing blessings:

[6] We praise Him showing gratitude for subjecting our limbs to us;

[7] We praise Him showing gratitude for subjecting to us what is in the heavens and the earth;

[8] We praise Him showing gratitude for making the Angels responsible to us in rectifyin our affairs;

[9] We praise Him showing gratitude for arranging the uniformity of His blessings to us;

[10] We praise Him showing gratitude for keeping us fearfully aware of Him and protecting us every year, every month, every day and night, every hour and every moment from the attacks of Iblis and the devils.

We seek refuge with Allah from the rejected Satan since he said, ‘I will come at them from their front, from their back, from their right and their left, and You will not find most of them grateful.’ He said ‘from our front’, i.e. in front of us, because he busies us from the remembrance of Allah and from being thankful for what has passed from our years . . . He said ‘from our back’ because he busies us from the remembrance of Allah and from being thankful for what remains of our life. He also said, ‘from our right’ because he makes us avoid good deeds. He also said ‘from our left’ because he embellishes evil, disobedience and innovation (bid`a) in our hearts. We ask Allah to save us by His favor and generosity from the tricks of Satan. O Allah Amen.

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II. Then there is the prayer upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. It is obligatory upon us as an incumbent necessity continuously without enumeration. However because inability, laziness and listlessness has been established in us, we have come with ten required prayers upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace arranged in accordance with the ten verses upon which the entire religion of Islam is built.

[1] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the message of Allah that he is the Messenger of Allah when Allah said on his tongue, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

Say. O mankind verily I am the messenger of Allah to you all, the messenger of the One to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him. he alone gives life and death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the unlettered prophet who believes in Allah and His words. So follow him so that you may be guided.”108 Thus, we learn that his messengership was foretold in the Torah, the Injeel and all of the Heavenly Books in which his description is given. Thus we have come to believe in him.

[2] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering the second message of Allah which He revealed on the tongue of the generous messenger:

Say: Call upon Allah or call upon ar-Rahman. By whichever (name) you call, to Him belongs the Most Beautiful Names. Do not raise your voices in your prayers nor lower them but follow a way between that. And say: All praises are due to Allah who has not taken a son nor a partner in the kingdom, nor does He have an assistant in humiliation. So extol Him with much exaltation..”

[3] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering the third message of Allah which negates from Him all deficiencies and establishes for Him every perfection, by His words on the tongue of His messenger:

Say: He Allah is One. Allah is eternally self-subsistent. He does not procreate nor is He procreated. There is nothing equal to Him.

[4] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering the fourth message of Allah which teaches us the prohibitions and by which the religion of Islam is established, by His words on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

Say: Come and I will relate to you what your Lord has forbidden you. That you do not associate anything with Him. That you treat your parents well and not kill your children (fearing) from poverty. We provide for you and them. And do not come close to corruption that which is apparent and that which is hidden. And do not kill a soul which Allah has prohibited except lawfully. That is what you have been commanded so that you may be reasonable. And do not come close to the wealth of the orphan except with what is better, that is until they attain full strength. And make the weights and scales exact. We do not burden a soul except with what it can bear. And when you speak, be just, even if they be the nearest of kin. And fulfill the contracts of Allah. This is what you have been commanded so that you may be reminded. Verily that is My strait path so follow it, and do not follow divergent paths or you will be separated from My Way. That is what you have been commanded so that you may have fearful awareness.”

It is by means of these four above verses that gnosis (ma`arifa) of Allah and His messenger is established.

[5] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering the fifth message of Allah which gives yearning and desire for the religion of Allah by His words on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

O you who believe, shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from severe punishment? It is that you believe in Allah and His messenger and struggle in the Way of Allah with your wealth and your souls. That is best for you if you but knew. He will forgive you of your sins and enter you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow and goodly homes Gardens of Ease. That is the Supreme Achievement.

[6] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the sixth message of the commands of Allah, and the first being the command of prayer in the following verses.

Allah ta`ala says:

Preserve the prayers and the middle prayer and stand in prayer to Allah humbly.”

Allah ta`ala says:

O you who believe do not come near to the prayer while you are intoxicated until you are able to know what you are saying nor in a state of ritual impurity except when traveling on the road until you bath. If you are sick, traveling or one of you have come from relieving yourselves or you have fondled women and you cannot find water, then strike high dry pure earth. Wipe your faces and your arms. Verily Allah is Pardoning Forgiving.”

Allah ta`ala says:

When you travel through the earth there is no harm on you if you shorten the prayers when you fear that those who disbelieve will attack you. Verily the disbelievers are clear enemies to you. When you are among them then establish the prayer among them. A group who are with you should stand with you and they should take their weapons at the ready. When they have made the prostration then they should move behind you. Then let the other group who have not prayed, then pray with you taking their precaution and their weapons. The disbelievers hope that you were heedless of your weapons and your provisions so that they could attack you in a single rush. But there is no harm on you if you put away your weapons because of the inconvenience of rain when you are sick. However take your precautions. Allah has prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment. When you have finished the prayer, then remember Allah standing, sitting or on your sides. Then when you are safe then establish the prayer, for the prayer is a timed ordinance for the believers.

Allah ta`ala says:

O you who believe when you stand for the prayer, then wash your faces and your hands to the elbows. Wipe your heads and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If you are sick, on a journey or coming from relieving yourselves or from fondling women, and you can not find water – then strike high dry pure earth. Wipe your faces and your arms from it. Allah does not desire harm for you, He only desires to purify you and complete his blessings upon you so that you may be grateful.”

[7] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the seventh message which is the commands of fasting by the words of Allah ta`ala on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

O you who believe fasting has been prescribed for you just as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may have fearful awareness.” This verse is followed by five successive verses which deal with the same subject.

[8] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the eighth message which is the command of alms (az-zakaat) by the words of Allah ta`ala on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

He it is who has produced cultivated area with trellises and some without trellises, and fields with produce of all varieties, olives and pomegranates, similar and different. Consume of their fruit in their season, but give the dues which are proper on the day of harvest. And do not squander it for Allah does not love the squanderers. Of the cattle are some which are used for transporting and others for mats and furnishing. Therefore consume from what Allah has provided for you. And do not follow the footsteps of Satan, verily he is a clear enemy to you.”

[9] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the ninth message concerning the command of pilgrimage (al-hajj) and the lesser pilgrimage (al-`umra) by His words on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

And complete the pilgrimage or lesser pilgrimage for Allah. However if you are prevented , then send an offering for sacrifice which is available. Do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. If any of you are sick or there is an ailment in his scalp, then he should make compensation by fasting or by giving charity or by making an offering. When you are safe if you wish to continue the lesser pilgrimage on the greater pilgrimage, then he should make an offering of sacrifice which he can afford. If he cannot afford it, then he should fast three days during the pilgrimage and fast seven days on his return, making it ten days in totla. This is for those whose families are not in the precincts of the Sacred Mosque. And have fearful awareness of Allah and know that Allah is severe in punishment.

[10] We pray upon him, upon him be blessings and peace, for his delivering to us the tenth message concerning the command of military struggle (al-jihaad) by His words on the tongue of His messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

Fighting has been prescribed for you while you dislike it. But perhaps you dislike a thing which is good for you and you love a thing which is harmful to you. Allah knows and you do not know.

The proof for the obligation of doing the prayer upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace is by His words:

Verily Allah and His Angels pray upon the Prophet. O you who believe pray upon him and give him much peace.

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III. As for seeking forgiveness it is obligatory upon us as an incumbent duty because of vast amount of disobedience, errors and heedlessness we have committed in every moment. However because inability, laziness and listlessness has been established in us, we have been pardoned for most of this and there remains for us ten times for ten things.

[1] We seek forgiveness of Allah for gazing at what is prohibited.

[2] We seek forgiveness of Allah for listening to what is immoral.

[3] We seek forgiveness of Allah for speech devoid of the remembrance of Allah.

[4] We seek forgiveness of Allah for the destructive sentiments of the heart.

[5] We seek forgiveness of Allah for the crimes committed with the two hands.

[6] We seek forgiveness of Allah for what is comprised in the stomach.

[7] We seek forgiveness of Allah for the illicit sex of the private parts.

[8] We seek forgiveness of Allah for where the feet have rushed towards.

[9] We seek forgiveness of Allah for what we have been silent about whether in sleep or while awake.

[10] We seek forgiveness of Allah for our worship of Allah devoid of attentiveness.

All praises are due to Allah the Lord of the worlds. And peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad his family and all his companions. It is necessary for the one who hears or receives this wird (litany) that he enters into it. This is because it is the lightest of all litanies (awraad). Allah will give baraka in all the endeavors for everyone who loves this litany, examines it, hears it and who transmits it until the Day of Judgment. Here ends the Kitaab ‘l-Wird with the praise of Allah and best of His assistance and help.”

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{Taken from Ihya’u as-Sunna wa Ikhmad al-Bid`a of Shehu Dan Fodio, Introduction & Translation by Abu Alfa Umar Muhammad Shareef bin Farid.}
Courtesy: George Stroud al-Maliki
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Al Fatiha for Shehu Dan Fodio
Al Fatiha for Muhammad Shareef, the translator
Al Fatiha for the Ummah of the Chosen One

Allahumma ṣallī `alā sayyidinā Muḥammad, wa `alā ālihi wa ṣaḥbihi wa sallim taslīman.

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