Reflections: Majlis 8

Ashara Mubaraka 1443 H
Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Nairobi

Majlis 8: 9th Muharram al-Haram

Today, as al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS reminded us, was the day of Imam Hasan’s AS zikr. Throughout his life, Imam Hasan AS counselled both his sons to sacrifice themselves upon Imam Husain AS in Karbala. His counsel is a sign of Imam Hasan’s AS lofty and praiseworthy stature in guiding Mumineen towards the path of righteousness. Enumerating Imam Hasan’s AS many praiseworthy traits, especially his generosity, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS narrated an instance where one of Imam Hasan’s AS maidservants prayed salaam upon him while presenting him with a fragrant bouquet. In response to this gesture, Imam Hasan AS emancipated her, releasing her from her servitude. He was asked why he had responded to such a simple gesture in such a way. He responded by quoting the Quranic verse in which Allah teaches us that when ‘you are greeted, respond with a better greeting or at least similarly’. Imam Hasan AS stated, ‘I saw no response better than giving her her freedom.’

Today’s waʿz mubarak centered upon Amirul Mumineen’s SA statement:

I sought acclaim and found it in being generous.

Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS explained that in his search for acts and deeds that are worthy of praise, Maulana Ali AS determined that there are no better deeds than deeds of generosity and benevolence.

Connecting the opening address to this kalām mubārak, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS listed how each of the Panjatan Paak AS, the Aimmat Tahereen AS and the Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA are praised for their magnanimity for they are the most generous in every era.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS cited the example of Hatim Tāʾī, who was renowned for his generosity. He would show kindness to everyone, feeding all types of people, even during times of personal difficulty and often preferring the welfare of others over that of his own family. Once, a bedouin who had heard of Hatim’s generosity, came to him after a long, arduous journey seeking food and shelter. When Hatim opened the door, he asked him harshly why he had come. The bedouin said that he was tired from a long journey and having heard of Hatim’s generosity and kindness, he hoped that he could have some food and a place to rest for the night. Hatim, in a pretense of anger, chastised him for coming and sternly said that his home was not open for every passerby who wanted something to eat or somewhere to rest. Embarrassed and with a crimson face, the bedouin immediately left. After his departure, Hatim wrapped a piece of cloth around his head so he could not be recognized and set out after him. Hatim approached the bedouin, who was unaware of his identity and asked him where he had come from. ‘I have come from Hatim Tāʾī’s,’ said the bedouin. Probing further, Hatim asked him why he had gone there. The bedouin said, ‘I was hungry and I went to him; he fed me and satisfied my hunger.’ Hatim then removed the veil covering his face, and said to the Bedouin, ‘Why do you lie?’ The Bedouin said that had he told anyone that he was denied by Hatim Tāʾī, they would brand him a liar or mad. Hatim laughed and returned with that man to his house where he slaughtered a camel and honoured him with a feast.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that due to his great generosity, even when he pretended to be rude and unkind, Hatim was still praised. That’s how potent generosity is in terms of reaping praise. This is why Rasul Allah SAW has stated:

Excuse the shortcomings of those who are generous for Allah Taʿālā holds their hand when they falter.

In another instance he mentioned that Abdullah bin Jazʿān, a mushrik from the Quraysh, will be subjected to the least amount of punishment in hellfire because he had a generous habit of feeding others. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS declared, however, that the generosity and benevolence of the aforementioned individuals and others like him can never be compared to that of Awliya Allah AS. Such a comparison would be like comparing a tempestuous ocean to a puddle of water.

Explaining the untold munificence of the Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS narrated an example of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdulqadir Najumuddin’s RA generosity. It so happened that Syedi Abdeali Imaduddin QR approached Syedna Najmuddin RA with a unique request on behalf of his spouse, Zainab Bhensaab. He said that his wife desired to see what one hundred thousand rupees cash looked like. Upon hearing the request, Syedna Najmuddin RA remained silent and Syedi Imaduddin QR did not press the issue further and after a while, took his leave. Thereafter, Syedna Najmuddin RA bade his servants to deliver the cash to Syedi Imaduddin’s QR residence, specifying that they were not to say anything save that it had come from Syedna Najmuddin’s. When the servants arrived with the large pile of cash, Syedi Imaduddin’s QR spouse, naturally intrigued, inquired as to its purpose. As per the directives of Syedna Najmuddin RA, they only told her that it had come from Syedna RA for Syedi Imaduddin QR. Later that day, Syedi Imaduddin QR returned home to find this large pile of 100,000 rupees. Zainab Bhensaheb informed him of what had transpired and Syedi Imaduddin QR realized that Syedna Najmuddin RA had graciously fulfilled his request. Tears brimming in his eyes, Syedi Imaduddin QR, proclaimed that whatever this world has offered or shall, there will be none like Syedna Najmuddin RA. Syedi Imaduddin QR returned to Syedna’s RA residence, and after offering his gratitude, requested that Syedna send instructions for the amount to be returned since his wife’s wish to see it had been fulfilled. Syedna Najmuddin RA smiled, and said that it was for him to keep. Greatly moved by this munificent gesture, Syedi Imaduddin QR declared, “A hundred thousand Hatim Tāʾīs could not match your generosity and beneficence”.

Highlighting the generosity of the Duʿat AS, and how they give more than what is expected, Mufaddal Maula TUS recounted an incident witnessed by Syedi Dawood bhaisaheb Shehabuddin QR in Ujjain. Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin RA relayed a set of instructions for his successor, the 48th al-dai al-mutlaq, Syedna Abdulhusain Husamuddin RA. Among these counsels, he asked those present to convey to Syedna Husamuddin RA to, ‘maintain a benevolent gaze upon the people of Dawat’. He also remind him that, ‘Whenever they asked me for water, I gave them milk.’

Amirul Mumineen AS states:

Generosity is giving before being asked. As for giving after being asked, it is either out of shame or fear of being criticised.

Those who are generous are praised for their nobility, and those who are stingy are chastised for their depravity. This was illustrated through the example of Muʿāwiya who took the 80,000 dinars given to the slave by Imam Hasan AS and instead left him with only one-tenth. Syedna TUS pointed out that the slave had sought the ‘water’ of freedom from Imam Hasan AS, who in turn bestowed him with the ‘milk’ of 80,000 dinars along with his freedom.

Citing Syedna Ahmed Hamiduddin al-Kirmani RA, Mufaddal Maula TUS explained that generosity is a state between extravagance and stinginess. He added that one can never be considered extravagant when spending in good causes, however, all expenditure, no matter the amount, if not spent in a good cause is extravagance. Likewise, stinginess is when one does not spend on the causes or for the things that one should.

The generosity of ʿAbd Allah bin Āmir, an opponent of the Imams, was spoken of in the presence of Imam Husain AS, in that he had given numerous alms and freed many slaves. Imam AS remarked that ʿAbd Allah bin Āmir is like someone who loots a caravan going for hajj and then offers charity with their ill-gotten wealth. He then added that the most superior form of charity is being generous with things one has actually earned through the sweat of their brow, their face soiled by their efforts. When asked who he was referring to with these words, he replied, ‘Ali AS.’

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then retold the famous incident where Amirul Mumineen AS gave his ring to a beggar while he was in rukūʿ in namaz. Rasul Allah SAW saw the beggar asking people in the masjid so he called him and enquired whether anyone had parted with anything. He said that Maulana Ali AS had given him a silver ring. Mufaddal Maula TUS then provided a detailed description of the ring and its value citing a reference from Maulana al-Imam Jaʿfar al-Sadiq AS. There were four mithqāls (a weight of approximately 24 carats or between 4.68 to 4.89 g) of silver, and the ruby weighed 5 mithqāls (approximately 120 carats). Imam Sadiq AS said that the value of the ring at that time was the entire tax revenue of the Levant for a year, which was 600 camel loads of silver and 4 camel loads of gold. Maula then said that the value of the ring in today’s terms would be close to 100 million USD, and in one way, he said it was priceless because it was Amirul Mumineen’s AS ring; it could not be valued! Amirul Mumineen AS had taken the ring off of a man named Tawq bin al-Jarrār whom he had killed in battle. He presented the ring to Rasul Allah SAW, but the Nabi SAW bestowed it to Ali AS, who then gave it to the beggar. Maulana al-Minʿām TUS explained that Amirul Mumineen AS earned the ring with the sweat off his brow, his face marred by the battlefield’s dirt. While in namaz in rukūʿ, right before we recite the words ‘Allah listens to those who praise Him; O our lord, for You is our praise!’ Maulana Ali AS magnanimously bestows the ring to the beggar, thus praising his lord in both word and action. His action alludes to the fact that all bounties are ultimately from Allah and what we are generous with, is because Allah has provided us with it. Maula TUS declared that if we want to be generous, and in turn receive praise, we must first praise Allah and glorify Him. The foes of Amirul Mumineen AS attempted similar acts of charity, but as Allah Taʿālā says, they ‘neither offered alms nor prayed namaz; but persisted in denial and turned away’ (65:31-32). When one does something for eyeservice and not sincerely for the Creator, then the act does not draw praise but instead condemnation.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS recited the blessed names of the Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA, which Amirul Mumineen AS has eternalized in Kitab al-Ilm. He began with the 20 names that have occurred only once among the Duʿat Mutlaqeen AS, the final one being Mufaddal.

Syedna TUS highlighted the association between these names and the 20 images Imam Mustansir AS had manifested himself in (a reference to an incident where Imam AS was painted by a group of painters). The 20 images of the Imam, who made preparations for the period of satr (seclusion), manifested himself in 20 different forms, an allusion to the 20 Duʿat whose names occur only once. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then elaborated on the significance of the number of times each Dai’s name has occurred. There are three Ibrahims which alludes to Ibrahim Nabi being the third Nātiq. Nine Alis allude to Ali Amirul Mumineen AS being the ninth Wasī. The names Hasan and Husain have both occurred twice each alluding to Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS being equal and both being the recipients of two of Rasul Allah’s SAW conferments. There are six Mohammeds within the ranks of the Duʿat which is a testament to Mohammed Rasul Allah SAW being the sixth Nātiq. Two Dawoods signify that the āyat sharīfa ‘And we gave Dāwūd the Zabur,’ appears twice in the Quran. The three Dais named Abduttayyib are a reference to Tayyib Imam AS being the last imam of the Aimmat Tahereen’s AS third septet. The two Ismails remind us that Ibrahim Nabi AS appointed his son Ismail AS as his successor and initiated two streams. The 24th and 42nd Dai are both named Yusuf. The sum of 2 & 4 and 4 & 2 is 12 and Sura al-Yusuf is the 12th Sura of the Quran. Finally, there are two Abdullahs and likewise there are two occurences of Abdullah in the Quran.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then related the events that unfolded during Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s RA trip to East Africa in 1388 H as narrated by him. He stated that on the day of Imam al-Zaman’s AS Milad Mubarak, he reached Nairobi after having blessed Mumbai, Karachi and Addis Ababa with the barakat of the night of Imam al-Zaman’s AS Milad. Syedna TUS remarked how it was no easy task for Syedna Burhanuddin RA to travel so extensively but he did so for the sake of Mumineen. Syedna Burhanuddin RA then went on to state that when he laid eyes upon the Mumineen in Nairobi, he saw that their hearts were brimming with muhabbat just as they had been all those years ago when he had accompanied his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA to East Africa. Despite a number of obstacles and complexities, Allah Taʿālā had eased everything for him. He then travelled to Mombasa on the occasion of his Milad Mubarak where he established the Syedna Taher Saifuddin Memorial Foundation. From there he went to Malindi and then onward to Dar es Salaam. After two days of his arrival in Dar es Salaam, those who harboured malintent towards Syedna RA and were consumed by his envy, conspired so that he would not be able to stay in Dar es Salaam. Syedna RA received communication from the government asking him to leave the country. At the airport, the conspirators’ machinations made it so that Syedna al-Muqaddas had to travel alone with nobody by his side. When reporters asked him for a statement, he remarked that he did not blame the government for what had transpired. He instead emphasised that there were those who disliked his community and what they stood for and therefore conspired to institage the government against him. He further remarked that those in Africa were aided by their counterparts in India. Burhanuddin Maula RA then explained that his predicament was not unusual, for even Syedna al-Muayyad RA had been subjected to similar treatment. What the adversaries intended was to distance Mumineen from Syedna RA but the opposite happened. As Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA was accustomed to stating; the more the adversaries are consumed with my hatred, the more Mumineen grow in their love and devotion. Mumineen were heartbroken and came to Syedna RA to console him. He remarked that the only thing that weighed on him was the fact that Mumineen had made preparations and were left in anticipation while he was not able to be there with them. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS remarked that Syedna Burhanuddin RA departed for Addis Ababa via Nairobi and at the time, conditions at the Nairobi airport were similar to those in Dar es Salaam as though there was a shared sentiment between the two governments. In Addis Ababa, the emperor welcomed Syedna RA with warmth and recalled that when he had visited India, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA had invited him to his home. From there Syedna RA travelled to Aden and being so close to the ziyārat of Duʿat Mutalqeen in Yemen, expressed his intention to go for ziyārat. The Prime Minister sent a letter to Syedna RA welcoming him with open arms and Syedna RA was elated that his intention was fulfilled.

After reciting the nawh composition, Syedna TUS exclaimed that Imam Husain’s AS shahadat will continue to guide all those who recall it with sincerity. He elaborated this with two incidents. The first relates to a group of Kufans who arrived at Karbala soon after Imam Husain AS was martyred. When they learnt that his blessed head had been severed, that his sacred body lay uncovered on the scorching sands and that the women of his household were beside themselves with grief in the encampment they resolved to attack the foes and killed many of them before being slain themselves. The other relates to the kharijī man who witnessed Imam Husain’s AS blood-soaked condition and immediately supplicated to the Almighty, embraced Iman and sacrificed his life on the battlefield.

Mumineen the world over are the recipients of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s TUS unparalleled generosity, especially those fortunate to be present in Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Nairobi and listen firsthand to his pearls of wisdom. With such generosity, comes praise of equal measure. May Allah Taʿālā grant Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin a long life in everlasting health and happiness until the Day of Qiyāmat.