The Mystery of Prayer

The Ascension of the Wayfarers and the Prayer of the Gnostics


Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi’s introduction and annotated scholarly translation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s The Mystery of Prayer brings to light a rarely studied dimension of an author better known for his revolutionary politics.

Writing forty years before the Islamic revolution, Khomeini shows a formidable level of insight into the spiritual aspects of Islamic prayer. Through discussions on topics such as spiritual purity, the presence of the heart before God, and the stations of the spiritual wayfarer, Khomeini elucidates upon the nature of reality as the countenance of the divine. Drawing upon scriptural sources and the Shīʿah intellectual and mystical tradition, the subtlety of the work has led to it being appreciated as one of Khomeini’s most original works in the field of gnosis.

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) – often known in the West simply as ‘The Ayatollah’ – was a Shīʿah Muslim religious authority, the author of over fifty books, and the founder of the modern-day Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sayyid Amjad H. Shah Naqavi holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He is the Dean of the Shīʿah Institute in London where he is working on a number of research projects, including an annotated translation of the Nahj al-Balāghah.

Translator’s Introduction

Author’s Dedication

1 The Degrees and Progressions of Man and the Degrees and Levels of Prayer
2 On the Prayer of the Wayfarer and the Perfect Nearmost One
3 On the Mystery of the Prayer of the Folk of Gnosis
4 On the Presence of the Heart and its Levels
5 On the Means of Realising the Presence of the Heart
6 On Matters which Aid in Realising the Presence of the Heart

Part 1
On the Preludes to Prayer
1 On the Mystery of Purity
2 On the Mysteries of Purification with Water and Earth
3 On the Tradition of Imām al-Ṣādiq Regarding Ablution
4 On the Mysteries of a Noble Ḥadīth
5 On the Mystery of the Covering Up of Shame
6 On the Removal of Impurity
7 On the Location of Prayer
8 On the Permissibility of a Location of Worship
9 On the Mysteries of Time
10 On the Mystery of Turning Towards the Kaʿbah

Part 2
On the Linkings of Prayer and their Correspondences
1 On the Mysteries of the Calls to Prayer
2 On the Mysteries of Standing During Prayer
3 On the Mysteries of Intention
4 On the Mystery of the Opening Magnifications
5 On Some of the Mysteries of Qurʾānic Recitation During Prayer
6 On the Mystery of Seeking Refuge in God
7 On the Mysteries of Sūrat al-Ḥamd
8 On an Allusion to the Exegesis of the Noble Sūrat al-Tawḥīd
9 On Some of the Mysteries of Bowing During Prayer
10 On the Mystery of Raising the Head after Bowing
11 On the Mystery of Prostration
12 On the Mystery of the Testimony of Prayer and the Invocation of Peace in Prayer


Translator’s Bibliography
Persian Editors’ Bibliography
Index of Qurʾānic Verses

Students and scholars of Islamic metaphysics and gnosis, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of one of the most significant political figures of the twentieth century.
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