Reflections Majlis 2

3rd Muharram al-Haram

‘In English it is said, easy-going.’ Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS used this term to explain the word samhan (سمحاً) in the hadeeth shareef for today’s waʿz mubarak. Rasul Allah SAW states:

Truly of the most beloved of Allah’s servants is the one who is easy-going, especially in matters of trade and commerce; in his selling and his buying, in giving and taking, and in settling dues and receiving payments of debts.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that the description of such an individual is to be found in the verses of Surah al-Layl:

As for the one who is charitable, and maintains piety, and believes in the finest reward, We will surely facilitate for them [the pathway to] easiness. And as for those who are stingy, and indifferent, repudiating the finest reward, then We will surely bring upon them hardship. 

Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS commended the congregation of Mumineen, addressing them with, O’ easy-going people!

He then went on to elaborate why easy-going people are as they are. They place their trust in Allah Taʿala and firmly believe that whatever He does will always be in their best interests. They maintain His piety and act in accordance with His directives and injunctions, while refraining from all which He has prohibited. They consider each of these injunctions as being easy to carry out and adhere to. They believe that by keeping faith in Allah, carrying out His directives and considering them easy, all of their matters, in turn, will be eased.

Taqwa also means that one must always be honest and truthful. Allah states: 

O Mumineen, maintain Allah’s piety and remain with the Truthful 

By staying honest, one’s affairs will always remain in order. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS illustrated the significance of honesty with the example of a perfumer. 

One perfumer sells an adulterated attar and ensures that his potential buyers are aware of its impure status. Despite the difficulty he might encounter in selling this attar he does not resort to dishonesty. Another perfumer, on the other hand, sells the same adulterated attar and insists that it is pure, betraying his lack of trust in Allah. He believes his ability to sell is dependent on his cleverness, and that the Almighty is not the Provider.

As an example of how one can engage in selling and buying with ease and grace, Mufaddal Maula TUS cited the example of none other than Amirul Mumineen AS. The incident begins with Maulana Ali AS overhearing a bedouin praying near the Kaaba over three consecutive nights. On the first night he asked for forgiveness, to which Amirul Mumineen AS said to his companions when retelling this incident, ‘Allah will never turn away the virtuous.’ On the second night he asked for, ‘that which only the Almighty could give,’ to which Amirul Mumineen AS said, ‘Rasul Allah SAW has said whoever asks this will be given paradise.’ On the third night, the bedouin asked for 4000 dirhams. Amirul Mumineen AS called him near and asked him why he sought this specific amount. The bedouin explained that he needed a thousand for his bride’s dowry, a thousand for his debts, a thousand to purchase a house and the last thousand for his living expenses. 

Upon hearing this, Amirul Mumineen AS told him to come meet him at his house in Madina. When the bedouin arrived, Amirul Mumineen AS set out to fulfil his request, by putting an orchard up for sale; an orchard in which Rasul Allah SAW had himself planted some trees. He accepted an offer of 12000 dirhams for the field from which he gave the bedouin the 4000 he had asked for in prayer. He also added an additional amount for travel expenses for good measure. Meanwhile, the news of Amirul Mumineen’s AS generosity spread to the other poor of Madina who flocked to him seeking his munificence. Maulana Ali AS handed out fistfuls of dirhams until not a single dirham was left. 

At this moment, Maulatona Fatema AS reminded Amirul Mumineen AS that his own household was hungry, adding ‘You too have not eaten.’ Maulana Ali AS decided to borrow some money and was given seven dirhams by Rasul Allah SAW to purchase food. As he and Imam Hasan AS made their way to the bazaar, a person in need approached them. Maulana Ali AS  asked Imam Hasan AS whether they should assist him, to which he replied, ‘As you see fit.’ Maulana Ali AS gave him the 7 dirhams – all of them, stating that the same Allah who had given them a small amount was more than able to give them a larger amount, and so they carried on. 

Duly they met a bedouin who asked them to purchase his camels and a credit deal was agreed for 100 dirhams. Within a short time Maulana Ali AS met with another bedouin who asked to purchase the camels. He stated to him that he had purchased the camels for 100 dirhams and he was open to any amount the buyer saw fit. The bedouin offered 170 dirhams, which Amirul Mumineen AS agreed to, and he handed over the cash and took charge of the camels. Amirul Mumineen AS repaid the 100 he owed to the original seller and was left with a profit of 70 dirhams. He presented the dirhams to Rasul Allah SAW who smiled and declared, ‘What an excellent buyer, and what an excellent seller!’ Rasul Allah SAW informed Amirul Mumineen AS that the bedouin who sold him the camels on credit was Jibraʾil and the bedouin who bought the camels from him was Mikaʾil; he added that the camels were heaven sent and the dirhams were from Allah.

Following this narration, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained how both Amirul Mumineen AS and the bedouin adhered to the truth and maintained an easy-going and agreeable disposition throughout the various exchanges that took place. The unpretentious bedouin near the Kaʿba spoke the truth when he explained why he needed that specific amount. Maulana Ali’s AS magnanimity was seen in him asking the bedouin to come to his home in Madina, and in his fulfilment of what the bedouin desired. Likewise, agreeing to let go of an orchard in which Rasul Allah SAW had laboured with his own two hands was not a proposition one would easily agree to, but for the sake of facilitating the truthful bedouin, Maulana Ali AS did so. Later, despite the fact that Amirul Mumineen AS and members of his family had not eaten, he gave the 7 dirhams he had borrowed to the alms-seeker. As the day continued, he did not withhold the truth from the seller of the camels. Amirul Mumineen AS informed him that he did not have the requisite amount, instead of implying that he had the cash, but that it was elsewhere and needed to be called for. Finally, he did not conceal from Rasul Allah SAW the 70 dirham profit he made in selling the camels. In this way, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained how Rasul Allah’s SAW declaration of ‘What an excellent buyer, and what an excellent seller,’ could in fact be a description of Amirul Mumineen AS.

With the barakat of a hadeeth shareef, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS utilised a remarkable series of analogies of date palms and horses to provide a definitive list of the characteristics of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s conduct in business and trade.

He cited the following hadeeth shareef

The best source of wealth is a fertile plantation of palm-trees and a fertile horse 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that in a way, Rasul Allah SAW in this hadeeth shareef has compared the commercial enterprise of a Mumin with a row of fruit-bearing date trees and a fertile mare that keeps producing offspring. 

Upon referencing date palms and business opportunities, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS pointed out that the UAE was an “ideal country” for trade, and that this has led to it becoming “one of the top ten richest countries” in the world. He also noted that the UAE is said to have approximately forty two million date trees, producing 73 varieties of dates, and is also renowned for its equine breeding that produces rare and noble breeds of horses. 

By declaring that the best of wealth are horses and date palms, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that Rasul Allah SAW was providing guidelines for Mumineen in how they should conduct themselves in business and trade. He highlighted six features common to both dates and horses that outline business practices for a Mumin. 

Firstly, both the date-tree and the horse are distinct and unique species within their respective genus. Unlike other trees that die if their roots are severed, the date-tree on the other hand shares properties of the animal kingdom. If its head is severed, it withers and dies, whereas other trees can still survive so long as their roots are intact. Similarly, the horse species stands out from other animals within its classification. A well-trained horse can understand and act on the subtlest of signals from its rider, demonstrating an intelligence akin to that of human beings. 

A Mumin’s enterprise is distinct from its counterparts. Others may follow trends, but a Mumin’s business is characterised by its ‘trendsetting’ products and services, enabling it to stand out from the rest of the pack. 

Secondly, the date tree’s life is connected to its head where its canopy rises high into the sky just as the horse’s forelock (upper part of its head) has khair (goodness) intertwined within it (this is a reference to a hadeeth shareef regarding horses). Likewise, the ‘head’  of a Mumin’s business is sharia which emphasises integrity and honesty above all else. As an example of this integrity, Syedna TUS referenced the ethical conduct of Syedi Luqmanji Saheb QR when he was deputised by the owner of a shoe business. Driven by the honesty that ebbed within, he was transparent with a potential customer who was about to unknowingly purchase a faulty pair. Admonished by the owner for not telling lies in order to sell his wares, which he saw integral to trade, Syedi Luqmanji QR chose a path that was in line with the honesty and ethical values he had come to imbibe. By the same token, when the material pursuits of others are entrenched in worldly gains, a Mumin’s sights are honed on the horizon above, intent on earning his fortune in the hereafter by abiding to the laws of sharia and meeting his dues as a Mumin. 

Thirdly, Rasul Allah SAW has said:

The best business is that of dates; they remain rooted even in sludge and bear fruit even in times of drought. 

As evidenced in the hanhanaat (neighing) of Rasulallah’s SAW steed, horses too share that same steadfast characteristic as they persevere in battle, often protecting their riders from injury by putting themselves in harm’s way. Similarly a Mumin remains firm and determined even in the face of economic and political turmoil. During the first Gulf War, the Mumineen of Kuwait faced a dire situation that threatened to wipe out their businesses. Yet, on the direction of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, they remained true to their homeland and resisted the urge to flee even when the oil fields were set alight. Only when things became very precarious did Burhanuddin Maula RA permit them to go to their watan – but not permanently. Mumineen soon returned and their fortunes changed in a short span of time, proving that change can sometimes bring its own benefits. 

Fourthly, Syedna TUS pointed out that in both date trees and horses, there is a certain factor of risk. There is a relatively long spell of waiting required before date trees bear fruit and if affected by blight, a harvest could be wiped out. In breeding horses too, there lies the inherent risk that due to disease or some other factor, producing healthy offspring could be hindered. Hence what is required is a robust conviction in Allah Taʿala that He is the Provider. Thus a Mumin should always approach his business with courage, understanding the risks and placing his faith in the Almighty.

Fifthly, date trees require pollination that spawn date-fruit just as both a mare and stallion are required to produce offspring. For a Mumin this translates into the marriage of both reason and heart, sense (hosh) and passion (josh) that begets a successful business. 

Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA states: 

When you pursue an interest, seek to evaluate and consider and shun hasty decision making.

One should be wary and cautious before pursuing a new interest. Syedna TUS emphasised the importance of careful evaluation and consideration of business pursuits. He reiterated Burhanuddin Maula’s RA words when he cautioned Mumineen from over trading and speculation. Yes, a little ‘adventure’ in life is necessary but a certain degree of self-control and ability to study prospects from every angle are essential before embarking on new ventures. Mumineen should be diligent and prudent in their businesses and not try to become overnight millionaires. Likewise, even though some competition is healthy, it should not descend into what is termed as ‘cut-throat’ which gives rise to envy and jealousy of one’s brethren.

Finally, date trees that are cultivated systematically and grown in rows flourish in different climates, both tropical and subtropical. Likewise, horses thrive everywhere and are unhindered as they gallop hither and thither. A Mumin’s commercial pursuits are not limited geographically but rather are aimed at strategic growth that focuses on long term goals. When faced with the political upheavals of the 1960s, the Mumineen of Africa sought Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s RA counsel. He urged them to remain in the land they had come to call home for the past hundred to two hundred years and not be hasty in abandoning it. Rather, like the two hands that Allah has provided, he encouraged them to establish businesses both at home and abroad. In the event of strife and if need be, this would enable them to be mobile and continue their livelihood elsewhere. This diversification of business and strategic growth has enabled Mumineen to flourish wherever they have ventured. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS guided Mumineen to diligently observe the rules and regulations of their lands, especially with regards to business. He remarked that the instinct to do business was something which ran in Mumineen’s blood and commended them for their willingness to sacrifice both their wealth and lifeblood in the love of the Ahle bait.

To illustrate an exemplary instance of such sacrifices, Syedna TUS related the example of Syedi Hasan bin Nuh Bharuchi QR. Known as malik al-tujjar, the king of businessmen, Syedi Hasan QR was the proprietor of a vast business empire which spanned Hind, Yemen, Makka al-Mukarrama, Qahira (Cairo) and Syria. He is also the author of Kitab al-Azhar, a compendium consisting of seven extensive volumes which deal with many branches of knowledge and wisdom. 

During the time of Syedna Mohammed Ezzuddin RA, the Zaidi imam wrote to him, threatening to march on Haraz if Syedna RA did not surrender his fort and submit like the other tribes of the region. Upon receiving this missive, Syedna RA called the senior members of the community and informed them of the Zaidi imam’s threats. They were all left speechless. When Syedna RA asked them for their response, they said that they did not have the means to defend against the Zaidi imam’s attacks, who was a man of iron will, but at the same time they did not want to surrender and submit to his tyranny. When Syedi Hasan bin Nuh QR heard their response, he immediately spoke up asking Syedna Ezzuddin RA to firmly rebuke the Zaidi imam and to make it clear to him that he would never surrender his fort and submit to his rule. Syedi Hasan QR then turned to the senior members of the community and reassured them of his support stating, ‘If the Zaidi imam fires lead bullets, I will furnish you with silver and gold bullets or else I am not Hasan bin Nuh.’ His words emboldened the faithful. When the Zaidi imam learnt of Syedna’s defiance, he enquired as to who was supporting him and came to learn of Syedi Hasan QR. He conceded that as long as Syedi Hasan QR drew breath he would not be able to do anything.

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS then elaborated that Syedi Hasan bin Nuh’s QR business bore the characteristics of the date palms and horses he spoke of earlier. The business was unique because his vessels plied the seas and spanned continents which was remarkable for his time. As the king of businessmen, Syedi Hasan QR was also a trend setter. Like the head of a date palm, his business towered high above others because his intention in running it was to serve his Dai. If this intent was lost, it was akin to a date palm losing its head. This is why he said that if he were not to live up to his word in the service of the Dai, then he was not Hasan bin Nuh QR. Even during times of hardship, when Syedna RA was faced with the Zaidi imam’s threats, his business continued to flourish and he was able to console the Dai with his declaration. Just as the neighing of horses fills the hearts of adversaries with fear, so too was Syedi Hasan QR able to strike fear into the heart of the Zaidi imam. Finally, demonstrating boldness, which requires a balance between intellect and emotion, Syedi Hasan QR proclaimed that he would furnish the Dai with bullets of gold and silver if the need arose. Syedna TUS prayed that may each and every Mumin become a king of businessmen. 

Evoking the powerful imagery provided by the date palm and horse, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS remarked how they immediately brought to mind the tragedy that befell Imam Husain AS. When we speak of date palms we think of the khajoori which served as a backrest for Imam Husain AS during his final moments. When we talk of horses, we are reminded of the noble steed that shook its head when Imam Husain AS brought it to the banks of the Euphrates and instructed it to take a sip of water. When Imam Husain AS indicated his intent to alight, the noble horse understood and bowed its head to the ground. After Imam Husain’s AS shahadat, it drenched its head and forelocks in his blood and in doing so, conveyed to his haram that he had been martyred. The horse stood steadfast in the face of the adversaries striking fear into their hearts with its neighing. In an expression of josh (passion) the horse relentlessly galloped forth, slaying many an adversary and when Imam Husain AS was martyred, it retained its hosh (senses) to inform his haram by covering itself in his blood. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS lamented the oppression and tyranny that befell Maulatona Fatema AS in Madina Munawwara, and her revered family in Karbala. Just as they had come to burn down her house, they set fire to the encampment of Imam Husain AS. Just as they had caused the miscarriage of Maulana Mohsin AS, they slayed the 6-month old Maulana Aliasger AS. Just as they had raised their impure hands and struck Maulatona Fatema AS, they slapped Maulatona Sakina AS. Just as they had lashed her with a whip, they flogged the noble sayyidaat of Imam Husain’s AS haram. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then called upon Mumineen to listen attentively. He explained that Rasul Allah’s SAW reverence and affection for Maulatona Fatema AS was such that whenever he travelled out of Madina he would first come to her house, behold her countenance, and then commence his journey. Likewise, upon his return he would first proceed to Maulatona Fatema’s AS house, and then to his own.

May we continue to offer our venerations to Maulatona Fatema AS and the Fatimi Imams AS through our reverence and adherence to al-Dai al-Fatimi Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. May Allah Taʿala bless him with a long life in health and happiness till the Day of Qiyamat.