Reflections Majlis 4

5th Muharram al-Haram

After delving into the characteristics of the servants most beloved to Allah Taʿala (majlis one & majlis two), followed by the place most dearest to Him (majlis three), in today’s waʿaz mubarak al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS focused upon the deeds that Allah cherishes the most. Rasul Allah SAW states:

The deed dearest to Allah Taʿala is that which is most consistent, even if it is small.

No matter whether it is easy or difficult, time-consuming or not, regardless of any circumstance, it is consistency that is important. To do and to keep on doing. The example Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS gave first was of namaz for which he quoted the following aayat shareefa:

 Those who remain steadfast to their namaz.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS illustrated this steadfastness to namaz with the narrative of the debate among the firishta which Rasul Allah SAW witnessed during his miʿraj – his ascension to heaven. There they were in argument as to which of the following three actions led to the greatest reward: to do a complete wudu in the cold, to attend namaz in congregation, or to await the next namaaz as soon as the present one is completed.

All three require consistency. On a cold morning, in the absence of hot water, it would be easy to overlook parts of the wudu, so there has to be greater care in carrying it out.  To attend congregational namaz also requires a consistency in overcoming barriers of climate, business timings, or being on vacation. Lastly, there is the desire that must be consistent when anticipating the next namaz once the current one has been completed. Without a strong desire, the consistency would be compromised. Thus all good deeds in order for their benefits to spread far and wide need to be undertaken with great care and longing. Mufaddal Maula TUS referred to these terms in Arabic as aiʿtina (care) and shawq (longing/desire). 

To further our understanding of being consistent in actions that are, outwardly at least, very simple, Maulana al-Min’aam TUS cited the narration by Rasul Allah SAW in which he related a manam (dream). In it he saw his revered uncle, Maulana Hamza AS, alongside Maulana Jaʿfar al-Tayyar AS in jannat enjoying from a platter of ever-changing fruit: first jujube, then grapes, and then dates. Rasul Allah SAW asked them if they had reached jannat and which of their deeds had benefited them the most in the hereafter. They replied that there were three things: praying salawat upon him, serving water and the love of Maulana Ali AS.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then explained the wisdom underpinning the preeminence of these deeds. To recite salawat is to pray for the continuation of Rasul Allah’s SAW progeny and express the desire to stay adhered to them. Serving water holds such preeminence because it is a source of life for all of Allah’s creation. 

Syedna TUS illustrated the significance of this act with the help of a historical incident. He narrated the events that transpired when Syedna Idris Imaduddin RA appointed the saqqaa, or water-bearer, in Maulaya Adam’s QR service as the waali of India. Syedna TUS recalled how Syedna Idris RA wanted to demonstrate the devotion of Mumineen in Hind to his courtiers in Yemen who had resented the honours he accorded Mumineen visiting from India. Syedna Idris RA sent two letters to Maulaya Adam QR, the waali of Hind at the time, informing him that the saqqaa is the new waali. Syedna TUS pointed out that though there were many other such individuals in Maulaya Adam’s QR service, Syedna Idris RA chose the saqqaa due to the significance of his occupation. Accepting this new designation as a direct order of the Dai, Maulaya Adam QR immediately submitted himself to the saqqaa without hesitation. When Syedna Idris RA learned of this exemplary act of obedience and sincere devotion, he set into motion the shift of the seat of Dawat from Yemen to Hind. 

In the context of the third deed, Maulana Ali’s AS muhabbat, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS emphasised that this is a deed that reaps nothing but benefit and ensures prosperity in this world and the next. The imprisoned slave of Bani Riyah showed longing and practised diligence in his habitual expression of muhabbat for Amirul Mumineen AS. Even though he was imprisoned, his limited mobility and distressed conditions did not inhibit him from confessing his muhabbat for Amirul Mumineen AS each time that he saw him. He was rewarded for his actions after his death when Rasul Allah SAW freed him of his shackles, Amirul Mumineen AS recognised him for his muhabbat, and they together prayed namaaz on his janaza with droves of angels in attendance. The significance of his deeds are further underscored by the fact that he is remembered for them even today. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then related these three deeds to the unparalleled conduct of Imam Husain AS demonstrating how he engaged in all three actions with exemplary love and care. Firstly, Imam Husain AS elucidated the true meaning of salawat which is to bring together, by gathering the revered bodies of the shohadaaʾ. His desire was to bring them all together in one place while his care and diligence was reflected in him carrying each of them upon his shoulders from the battleground. 

Secondly, Imam Husain AS, forced to contend with thirst for three consecutive days, continued to quench the thirst of his ashaab and Ahle Bait by blessing them with his deedar and by granting them raza to proceed into battle. His desire was that each shaheed would behold his blessed countenance before departing and his care was manifested in the act of placing his hand on the back of each shaheed before they set out for battle. In the case of Maulana Ali Akbar AS, Imam Husain’s AS longing was seen in him quenching his son’s thirst with his own parched tongue while his utmost care was revealed by giving him Rasul Allah’s SAW ring to place in his mouth and, in doing so, bestowing him with the high rank for which he thirsted. 

Thirdly, for the sake of Rasul Allah SAW and Amirul Mumineen’s AS muhabbat, and in order to repay the debts of all those who profess their true muhabbat, Imam Husain AS gladly suffered one wound after another. His only desire in doing so was to settle the dues of the faithful and to emancipate them from the burden of their sins, whereas his care spurred him to suffer wounds upon his blessed body. Syedna TUS then urged Mumineen to shed tears, call out ‘Ya Husain’ and do matam with inexhaustible care and desire. 

One’s unceasing engagement in any good action, Syedna TUS explained, signifies that he believes that the action will be of benefit. For instance, there are numerous ailments which necessitate that the afflicted person must take medication for a prolonged period of time. Even though the effect of the medicine is not always instantly apparent, the person continues to take the prescribed course out of faith and trust in his doctor. Awliya Allah AS have always taught us that in addition to certitude, we must also have a resolute niyyat in order for our actions to be strong and robust. Therefore, the person who has faith in his doctor, coupled with the lofty niyyat that he will engage in acts of worship and good if he is to regain his health, will find the conviction to stay true to the prescribed course of treatment in a timely manner and will ultimately be healed. Through certitude and a lofty niyyat, one can easily continue to stay true to good deeds for prolonged periods of time. 

Syedna TUS illustrated this concept by citing the example of Tasbih-e-Fatema. He stated that when Mumineen engage in this tasbih, which was described by Rasul Allah SAW as being greater than all things in this world and the next, with a lofty niyyat and certitude, they will never forgo the tasbih, rather, with care and longing, they will continue to reap the thawab of 1000 hasanat inherent in it, after each namaz.

Underscoring the quantitative element of this hadith sharif, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS expanded on the concept of deeds that are consistent, yet small. A little done consistently versus a lot done all at once; which is preferable? It is the one who does little but does so consistently, for that good deed, even though nominal now, gradually amasses in quantity over time into something much more. Syedna TUS gave the example of exercise. If one were to start off exercising with gusto and expend all his energy into just the preliminary phase of training, he will end up exhausted and depleted and ultimately cease exercising altogether. Whereas, the one who does a little training each day consistently, slowly building up his strength and stamina, will achieve much more in the long run. 

Shariat’s every dictum and precept is founded on the principle of minimal yet consistent commitment and hence engenders a sense of eagerness and care in carrying out each directive. This qualitative dimension is emphasised by Rasul Allah SAW in three similar hadiths:

Firstly he says that to pray just two rakaʿat properly – composedly, is greater than praying throughout the night in a hurried fashion. One should focus on how one fulfils namaaz, conscious of observing every aspect of it as intended. Rasul Allah SAW also states that to offer two rakaʿat with understanding and comprehension (maʿrefa) is greater than a thousand rakaʿat offered with little or no understanding. The comprehension of the Mawali Kiraam AS is essential and gives meaning to namaaz. In yet another hadith, he says that to offer two rakaʿat whilst understanding the meaning that it represents is greater than the namaaz of seventy years. Thus the qualitative value of namaaz and subsequently every good deed lies in the method, understanding and consistency with which it is undertaken, not the quantity.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then narrated an incident showing how praying namaz without belief in Wali Allah AS will be of no benefit. A man entered a masjid and proceeded to pray namaz, rakʿat after rakʿat, in the manner a hen pecks grain. A person observing him commented that he is from amongst the Men of the Pillars, a group of individuals who prolonged their namaaz, and were always seen praying adjacent to the pillars of the masjid. ‘How excellent is their namaaz’, he said in admiration. At that moment, Huzaifa al-Yaman asked him, ‘If I were to tell you that these Men of the Pillars are the most evil of all men, would you believe me?’ Another man stood up and counted that there were 25 of them, praying behind the pillars day and night. Then, following the Battle of Nahrawan, he counted 24 of them amongst the Kharijite rebels who fought against Maulana Ali AS lying slain on the battlefield. He could not find the 25th, but by then he was certain that he too must also be there.

In explaining the importance of timely activity in relation to consistency, Syenda al-Dai al-Ajal TUS relayed Rasul Allah’s SAW hadeeth mubarak where he states, ‘Take advantage of five, before the onset of five: 1) your youth before your old age, 2) your health before your illness, 3) your wealth before your austerity, 4) your free time before becoming occupied, and 5) your life before your death. Syedna TUS stated that each of the five should be considered an opportunity to seize. Youth, health, wealth, free time and life are capital that one should invest without delay and secure profitable returns. If one invests his youth in Allah’s obedience, the khidmat of Dawat, good deeds, and acts of charity, his return on investment is that he will always remain youthful, because in his youth he has chosen to undertake those deeds that he can continue to carry out in his old age as well. Syedna TUS mentioned that the 34th Dai Mutlaq, Syedna Ismail Badruddin RA lived for another 19 years following his appointment of his son, Syedna Abdultayyib Zakiuddin RA as his successor. Until the age of 95, he maintained the very same routine that he had followed since his accession as Dai Mutlaq. Similarly, both Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA continued to conduct sabaqs, deliver mawaʿiz (sermons), and embark on travels to the towns and cities in which Mumineen resided, throughout their long years in the khidmat of Imam  al-Zaman AS

One’s health should be invested in complying with the tenets of shariat, as well in physical exercise, healthy eating, stress free living, and getting adequate sleep and rest. Wealth should be invested in undertaking charitable acts, a shariat-compliant business, and in giving wajibaat. Syedna TUS pointed out that one meaning of rizq, which is commonly understood as sustenance and livelihood, is shukr and gratitude. Thus, one should invest one’s wealth in a way that yields appreciation and gratitude in return.

While discussing the fourth investable commodity, free time, Syedna TUS used the example of a student and his preparation for examinations. If a student invests time over the course of the academic year to prepare for these examinations, he will be relaxed at the time of examinations. However, if he fails to wisely invest his time during the year, the burden he has brought upon himself at the time of examinations may even take a toll on his health. Finally, the fifth investment, is of the time he has in this world in attaining an eternal existence, and in carrying out such deeds that long after he has departed people praise and extol him.

These five blessings (youth, health, wealth, opportunity, and life) are obtained through the grief and remembrance of Imam Husain AS. Syedna TUS mentioned that though many Mumineen have reached old age, in their maatam and buka upon Imam Husain AS they remain youthful. Imam Husain’s AS remembrance ensures the health of one’s beliefs; brings about wealth; illuminates the path towards good and empowers one to find the time to carry it out; and ultimately results in eternal existence in jannat.         

Reading out the emotive lamentation of Syedna al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi RA, Syedna TUS narrated a heart-rending tale of the aftermath of Imam Husain’s AS shahadat. A caravan of traders from Iraq passed by Karbala on the 12th of Muharram, amongst them a Christian woman. She was stricken with grief and her tears flowed ceaselessly, as if someone close to her had passed away in her hometown. As the convoy of travelling traders passed, she called for her handmaiden and went out searching throughout Karbala. Gradually making their way across the terrain, they came across some doves and birds who were in mourning and had coated themselves with the blood spilled on the ground nearby. The Christian woman imagined that another party of travellers must have made their way here and in the process of preparing a meal, must have slaughtered some animals. They wandered further only to come across blood-covered corpses, the heads of which were missing. Distressed by what they saw, they proceeded further until they came across a lying body from which emanated the fragrance of musk and ambergris. Witnessing what lay before her, the Christian woman knelt down beside it whilst prostrating. She then offered a prayer to Allah Taʿala to punish those who had carried out such transgressions and beseech Him to never forgive them. As she was praying, she looked up to see rays of light emanating from the fallen body and a white dove weeping near it as it used its feathers to remove dirt from it.

The Christian lady turned to her handmaiden and asked her who she thought these fallen bodies belonged to. She wondered where they were from since by their general height and composition, they resembled the people of Madina Munawarra. If only their heads had not been slain, they would have been easily identified. As they enquired further, they encountered some of the local townspeople who related what they had witnessed. 

They mentioned that this band of men and women alighted in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram. They were few in number and were led by their amir. On the fourth day, their amir came and purchased this land from the locals and around midday a youth from among them named Ali Akbar AS gave the adhaan and led them in prayers. However, the seventh day came and a massive army descended on them, cutting off their access to water and carrying out atrocities on them. Alas the tenth day dawned, and each one of the Ahle Bait AS was slaughtered at the hands of this merciless army. Their amir tried to reason with them; had they called him and his kin to their land only to persecute them?

Every time one of his companions fell, he wept profusely. Likewise, his womenfolk would mourn them as they gathered in their encampment. One by one each of the amir’s companions fell until none was left standing except him. He bid his family members a final farewell and proceeded alone onto the battlefield. Facing the wretched army, he was subjected to the onslaught of spears, swords and arrows and ultimately the blunt blows of rocks and stones. In his final moment, he knelt down on the burning sands, in sajda as his raas mubarak was severed from his jism mubarak

The townspeople continued to relate what they had witnessed to the Christian woman, saying that as the hour of ʿasr struck, the amir’s severed head was lifted atop a spear and as dusk approached, the tormentors intruded the tents of the amir’s womenfolk, inflicted unheard pain and suffering on each of them. 

As the Christian woman heard what befell the amir and his kith and kin, she could not hold her tears back. Through her heaving sobs, she asked the name of this amir and the townspeople replied, “Husain AS.” Hearing Imam Husain’s AS name, she said in Madina there was a nabi named Mohammed SAW, whose daughter Fatema’s AS son was called Husain AS. The Christian woman was left with no doubt that this amir was indeed that very Imam Husain AS that was the grandson of Rasul Allah SAW.

She went towards the sacred body of Imam Husain AS, lowered her head and with the utmost sincerity recited the kalemat al-shahada. She then addressed Imam Husain’s AS sacred corpse and besought him to accept her imaan and let her join the ranks of his, his mother and his sisters’ loyal servants. May Allah Taala grant us the tawfeeq to dedicate our youth, health, wealth, time, and our entire lives to the zikr of Imam Husain AS and the khidmat of his Dai, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. May Allah Taʿala bless him with a long life in health and happiness till the Day of Qiyamat.