The effective prayer is undoubtedly an inspired work. Any one who is acquainted with the soul-stirring experience of great religious thoughts cannot help seeing in these immortal words of Hazrat Ali (as) the dazzling light of Universal Truth.
Imam Husain (as) related that once on a cold, wintry night he accompanied his father Hazrat Ali (as) to the Sacred Mosque of the Kaaba and performed the circumambulations. The night was pitch dark and there was no one there except his father and himself. Every one was asleep. Presently, they heard a mournful voice of some one reciting the following poem:
"O Thou that answereth the prayers of the disconsolate in the depth of darkness; O Thou that wardeth off the baneful influences of calamities and diseases. Lo, those who surrounded the Kaaba sleep and wake up; But Thou, Exalted be thy Name, never sleepest. Forgive me by the Grace of Thy Bounty and Thy Mercy. O Though towards whom all creation bows down in this Sanctuaary! If Thy Mercy be not such as giveth hope to the transgressors, Then who is there to take pity on the sinners by His Bounty?"
Imam Husain (as) related the rest of the story:
My father sent me towards the man who was reciting these lines of poetry and I brought him with me into his presence. Hazrat Ali (as) asked his name and he said, "My name is Manzil Ibn Lahiq. In my youth I was persisting in sin, while my father used to guide me towards repentance. But I heeded him not. Instead of listening to him I used to beat him. Now it came to pass that my father had kept some money hidden away from me. One day I found it and was going out with the money, to spend it on my follies, when he stopped me and tried to take it away from me, but I twisted his wrist and ran away with the money. Thereupon my father kept a fast and went and performed the rites of the Sacred Mosque. Then he lifted up his hands and prayed that God may inflict upon me the disease of paralysis. Hardly had he done so when I was struck with paralysis and my father went back to his home. I then besought my father to pray for my recovery in the same place where he had prayed for my affliction. My father, in his infinite love and kindness, granted my request and we both set out towards Mecca, but as my ill-luck would have it, on the way thither my father's camel suddenly took fright and he was thrown from its back and killed in a moment. Now I am left to spend the rest of my days in this condition, helpless and forlorn, and people taunt me, saying that I am being punished for courting my father's displeasure."
On hearing the sad tale, Hazrat Ali (as) was moved by pity and compassion and taught him the following prayer and said: "Perform the ablutions and recite this prayer tonight". He did so, and the effect was miraculous! Next morning when he came to my father, he was perfectly cured and carried the text of the prayer in his right hand and exclaimed, "Really this prayer is the 'Isme Azam' because when I lifted up my hands and read this dua several times, a deep sleep fell upon me and I dreamt that the Holy Prophet MOhamed (pbuh) came and massaged my body with his own hands. When I woke up, I found that the illness had completely departed from me. May God reward thee, O Amir ul Momineen (as) for this miraculous prayer." In view of the above mentioned incident, this dua is called prayer of the paralytic.
Imam Husain (as) continues to state that this dua contains the Isme Azam. Whoever recites it will be relieved of sorrow; cured of illness; his debts will be paid up; his poverty will be changed to prosperity; his sins forgiven; his defects hidden; and he shall be granted safety and security from all evil, whether from Satan or from any worldly potentate, and if any of God's obedient servants recite this prayer, the mountains can be moved from their place; the dead can be restored to life and water can be turned into ice thereby. Hence this prayer has come to us as a source of rejoicing and I (the translator, I think) have learnt it from my father. Imam Husain (as) further directs that this prayer should never be recited in a state of impurity or pollution. This prayer is also referred to as "Dua-e-Khizr".