Reflections: Majlis 7

Majlis 7: 8th Muharram al-Haraam

At the beginning of today’s waʿz mubarak, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA explained the meaning of ikhlaas. It means to firmly believe that even though the Panjatan AS came 1300 years ago, they are still with us today. In each day and age, an Imam assumes their position. And if the Imam is in satr, then his Dai is present amongst the people.

Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA stated that the names of the Panjatan AS have been derived from the names of Allah Taʿala. However, the Almighty and Amirul Mumineen AS are both ‘Ali’, and therefore their names are considered an ishtiqaaq taam (اشتقاق تام, a complete derivation). Syedi Abdeali Imaduddin QR states:

اَسَميا كان لله العلي * انتَ بالله الولي بن الولي

O namesake of Allah the Exalted. By Allah you are [His] beloved, the son of [His] beloved.

The greatness of Maulana Ali AS is beyond comprehension. One can only attempt to comprehend it through the glories he revealed and the miracles he performed. Syedna RA classified the lofty glories of Maulana Ali AS into three types, corresponding to the number of letters in his name:

  1. Divine attributes. In Khutba Anaaniyya, the name of a famous sermon he delivered, Maulana Ali SA proclaims that it was he who raised the skies and laid the earth.
  2. Companionship with Rasul Allah SAW: coming to his assistance, being his brother, succeeding him, being his wasi (legatee). As the biraadar (brother) of Nabi Mohammed SAW he was baraabar (equal) to him in all aspects.
  3. Position within society. Maulana Ali AS exhibited the highest of human values and ideals in all aspects: forbearance, honour, preeminence, benevolence and equality. Syedna RA mentioned that equality is given a lot of importance today.

Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA narrated that after his formal, apparent accession to the post of caliphate, Maulana Ali AS, accompanied by a servant of his, proceeded to the market in Kufa to acquire two garments. At the first shop he told the shopkeeper both the quantity and price in which he intended to purchase the garments. However, as the shopkeeper recognised him and was unwilling to take payment for his goods, Maulana Ali AS proceeded elsewhere. Likewise, the second shopkeeper also recognised him, so he proceeded to a third shop. There, the owner was not present and had left a young attendant in his place who did not recognise Maulana Ali AS. Maulana Ali AS purchased two garments from him. He then showed both of them to his servant and asked him to choose one for himself. When asked about his action, Maulana Ali AS reasoned, ‘I am able to purchase whichever garment I wish to, however, this servant is unable to do so. As far as humanity is concerned, he and I are both equal.’

Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA began today’s waʿz mubarak with the narrative that when Amirul Mumineen’s AS followers are set to traverse above it, hell’s inferno will plead for them to move quickly because it has been ordered to lessen the intensity of its flames while they pass.

Sayyid al-Wasiyyeen, Amirul Mumineen AS has been acknowledged by every nabi and every wasi throughout time as related by Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS. Imam described how there are seventy thousand angels at each corner of The Throne (al-ʿarsh) in tasbeeh of Ali AS and seeking forgiveness for his devotees. That our forgiveness is sought by anbiyaa, awsiyaa and awliyaa is an unparalleled bounty.

Ali is one of the names of Allah Taʿala and in one verse the Quran states, ‘And they will realise that Allah is the manifest Haqq,’

In the Arabic Abjad numerical system, where every letter of the Arabic alphabet has been assigned a specific numerical value, the word haqq (what is true and right) has a value of 110 which is the same as Ali and also the statement, ‘la ilaha illa huwa’ (there is no god but He).

Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Burhanuddin’s RA waʿz mubarak was from 1401 H, at the inauguration of the restored al-Jamiʿ al-Anwar in Misr. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA spoke at length and in detail regarding the ihyaaʾ (revival) and restoration process. This discussion began by first seeking barakat from the history of the Fatimi Imams, who ruled over Misr at the time al-Anwar was built.

Following the conquest of Misr in the month of Shaʿbaan al-Kareem (in the year 358 H/969 CE), Maulana al-Qaid al-Jawhar RA and his companions observed the month of Ramadan in Misr and subsequently celebrated their first Eid al-Fitr there. In order to ascertain the coming of Eid, some inhabitants of Misr set out to take sight of the new crescent moon. Although al-Qaid al-Jawhar allowed the practice to take place that year, subsequently, the new moon sighting would no longer be requisite for declaring Eid in keeping with Fatimi fiqh. Although the Fatimi kingdom’s official religion was that of the Imam’s, and as such, the kingdom’s official policies towards religious praxis were derived from Dawat texts, different Muslim and non-Muslim faith communities practiced their faith according to their own beliefs. The multi-cultural, multi-ethnic milieu which prevailed in Fatimi Egypt was unprecedented in the history of the Islamic world.

The first of the Aimmat Fatimiyeen AS to be born in Misr was Maulana al-Imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah AS. He was born in the early hours of Thursday, the 3rd or the 4th of Rabiʿ al-Awwal, 375 H.

Al-Jamiʿ al-Anwar is the masjid of Imam Hakim AS. Its construction was initiated by his father Maulana al-Imam al-ʿAziz AS in the year 380 H and the following Jumoa namaaz took place in it. Imam Hakim AS resumed construction work in 393 H, with its inauguration taking place on the 6th of Shehre Ramadan, 403 H. The masjid was constructed at the substantial cost of 40,000 dinars after which another 5000 dinars were spent on furnishings. At the time of inauguration, Imam Hakim AS permitted a celebratory procession which made its way from al-Azhar to al-Anwar and from al-Anwar back to al-Azhar.

The ihyaaʾ of al-Anwar was carried out by Syedna Burhanuddin RA in accordance with the niyyat, intention and desire, first expressed by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA during his one and only visit to Misr in 1356/1937. During the waʿz mubarak, Maulana Burhanuddin RA dedicated the restoration of al-Anwar to Maulatona Hurrah al-Malika RA and all of the Duat Mutlaqeen RA starting with al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Zoeb RA. Burhanuddin Maula RA explained that the restoration went through seven stages:

1. Cleaning and excavation

2. Recording and documentation

3. In-depth research

4. Survey of architectural development

5. The procurement of construction materials

6. Completing the edifice

7. Ornamentation – interior

The cleaning and clearing of the neglected site was first and foremost. In particular, a deep pit right above the mihrab which was festering with human waste. The cleaning was overseen, like nearly all aspects of the restoration, by ʿAqeeq al-Yemen Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. He discovered this pit and personally oversaw its cleaning. During excavations on site, nearly 29,000 cubic metres of earth were removed from the site and in what Syedna RA described as miracles, two long-standing structures – a school and a tomb known as Qubba Qurqumash – were also removed and relocated.

Another miracle was the salvaging and reconstruction of the foundational inscription of the masjid or what was called the Lawhat Tarikhiyyah. In its entirety, this stone inscription bore the masjid construction date and the name of Imam Hakim AS and finally put to rest doubts as to the masjid’s provenance. Divine assistance also ensured that the efforts of miscreants, including those of great standing and influence, to hamper restorative work, prevent the inauguration, deny Mumineen entry to the country, prevent the remembrance of Imam Husain AS and even deny the Dai entry; all came to nought. Maulana RA had intended that maatam be done in the later days of Ashara Mubaraka, in deference to local sensibilities, yet to his great pleasure it began from the very first day – which he described as being identical to the maatam that takes place in Mumbai.

The procurement of construction materials was another gargantuan task, yet it too was overcome. Wood arrived from Singapore and marble from Italy among other requisite materials which were successfully brought into Cairo in sufficient quantities. Syedna RA gave special mention to the notably skilled calligrapher responsible for the extensive Kufi script that adorns the masjid, adding that he was the same artisan behind the scripts adorning Raudat Tahera.

What was especially important about this restoration was that it was not simply an archaeological venture, the rebuilding of an ancient structure. Rather it was to bring this masjid back to life and in use for the purpose of worship as was intended when it was first built. Not just to restore an old relic, but to suffuse it with the spirituality of its original purpose.

Syedna Taher Saifuddin stated that Maulana Ali AS bestowed Imam Hasan AS with two sets of counsels. In the first he stated:

  1. The greatest of all wealth is the intellect.
  2. The most abject poverty is foolishness.
  3. The most terrifying loneliness is haughtiness.
  4. The most honourable acquisition/possession/attainment is good character.

Syedna RA added, ‘be amicable with everyone and show good character. Wherever you go, you should be welcomed. People should remember you, enjoy your company and solicit your advice.This is how you should interact with everyone: in your home, with your friends, and with the wider community and society at large.’

Maulana Ali AS then directed Imam Hasan AS to avoid the companionship of four individuals:

  1. A fool. Even though he seeks to benefit you, he will ultimately put you in harm’s way.
  2. A miser. The moment you are ever in need of him, he will decline to help you. ‘Even if you only require a hundred rupees, he will say he doesn’t have a single one to offer.
  3. An immoral person. Whoever sees you in his company will assume the same behaviour of you.
  4. A habitual liar. He is like a mirage. He will try to convince you that what is near is far and what is far as being near.

When Imam Husain’s AS haram reached Shaam after being endlessly paraded throughout their journey and subjected to one torment after another, they were imprisoned. Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS reminded us that Imam Husain’s AS three year old daughter Maulatona Ruqaiyya AS, gently placing her head on her father’s severed raʾs mubarak, passed away mourning his absence and the haram were besides themselves with grief. When the time came for Rasul Allah’s SAW haram to travel back to Madina, Maulatona Sakina AS was nowhere to be found. The sayyidaat frantically searched for her, fearing what might become of her if they were forced to leave her alone in the midst of so many foes. When they found her their hearts were torn apart as they witnessed her clutching tightly to Maulatona Ruqaiyya’s AS qabr lamenting her loss, that she was no longer replying to her call where once she would have done so immediately. ‘If you will not heed my cry then let me lie by your side in this grave and we will weep upon Husain together.’

Maulana Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS asked us to consider how we embrace our children to comfort them when they are troubled and how here Maulatona Sakina AS was seeking comfort from her sister, but that comfort was not forthcoming. Imam Zainul Abideen AS embraced her and told her, ‘Come, let us go to Madina and we will find solace at the qabr of Maa Fatema AS.’

On this day, the 8th of Muharram, we recall the shahaadat of Maulana Ali AS. As he left home for the final time, the geese gifted to him surrounded him and took hold of his garbs in their beaks to prevent his leaving. Syedna Saifuddin TUS asked us that if the geese would not part with Amirul Mumineen AS, could it ever come to be that his followers would be parted from him? Imam Hasan AS pleaded to be allowed to go on ahead and be his sacrifice but Amirul Mumineen AS would not be swayed and directed him to return. Imam Hasan AS and Maualatona Umme Kulthum AS remained seated on the threshold of Amirul Mumineen’s AS house awaiting what was to come. Maulana Ali AS had tied a second lungi in anticipation of his shahaadat. He ascended the mizanat for the call to prayer and gave the azaan, an azaan which reverberated in every Kufan household. He then proceeded to the mihrab where he began to pray tahiyyat al-masjid. It was in his second sajda that the wretched Ibn Muljim struck, with such force that the blade went deep, as far as the forehead, and Ali AS clasped his head as he declared, ‘Fuzto wa Rabb al-Kaaba! — by the Lord of the Kaaba, I am victorious!’

May Allah Taʿala grant al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS a long life in pristine health until the Day of Qiyamat; and may we all continue to partake of the barakaat of his hallowed thaal and the spiritual and physical morsels of his eternal blessings in every generation.