Reflections Majlis 5

6th Muharram al-Haram

Twenty years ago on this very day in this very masjid, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA delivered the 6th Muharram waʿz mubarak to an audience of nearly 40,000. Today, here in Dubai and all across the world hundreds of thousands of Mumineen had the good fortune of listening to that waʿz mubarak and were blessed with his deedar

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA began by addressing the congregation as Mumineen ni jamaʿat, Muslimeen ni jamaʿt. He explained that we have the distinct honour of being Rasul Allah’s SAW ummat khassa (special umma) by virtue of our devotion and obedience for him. It is a matter of immense pride and honour for us as Muslims that Mohammed is our first. Syedna RA then related the following verses of the Quran Majeed:

Say; ‘Behold, my prayer, all my acts of worship, my life and death are all for Allah alone, the sustainer of the worlds. He has no partner, thus I am commanded and I am the first of Muslims.’

In order to be worthy of this honour, that Mohammed Rasul Allah SAW be our first, we too are obliged to dedicate our prayer, acts of worship, life and death to Allah in the same manner. Rasul Allah SAW states that he will be filled with pride on the Day of Qiyamat because his ummah will surpass all others and therefore the prerogative to be worthy of that pride lies with us. We must dedicate ourselves to such acts as our Nabi can be proud of. 

Rasul Allah SAW was once asked whether he had seen his Rabb. He replied that he had indeed seen Him twice, both with his basar (outward vision) and his basirat (inward discernment). The Quran majeed states: 

And verily he saw him yet another time. 

It is therefore evident that ‘another time’ necessitates that Rasul Allah SAW saw him the first time as well. 

Building upon this notion of seeing, both with the physical eye as well as with the intellectual power of discernment, Syedna RA related the following hadith shareef:

Tooba (blessedness) for the one who sees me, tooba for the one who sees the one who sees me, and tooba for the one who sees the one who sees the one who sees me.

What does it mean to see? Citing arguments put forth by Syedna al-Muayyad al-Shirazi RA regarding the true meaning of sight, Syedna Burhanuddin RA offered a multilayered explanation of the hadith, elaborating how sight with intellect and belief transcends time and space. 

While explaining the lofty stature of Awliya Allah AS, he clarified that our belief is not that they are in themselves to be deified, but rather that their presence, their actions, and their character remind us of Allah Taʿala and bring us closer to Him. This is a refreshing phenomenon in an age where humankind is increasingly prone to forgetting the Creator. Syedna RA then pointed out that individuals that are overcome by ‘nature’ or the advancements of science and technology, marvel at human capacity, denying the presence of a higher power. Syedna said, one should ask them, who created man and gave him this intellect? Syedna al-Muayyad al-Shirazi RA has discussed in his writings how Allah Taʿala created mankind and thereafter endowed him with intellect which is his essence and through which he is able to achieve great feats. 

Burhanuddin Maula RA then recited the following verse from among the works of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA wherein he likens the intellect in man to the moon. 

‘Al-Aql (intellect) in man is the highest substance, it shines within his soul like the moon.’

Syedna RA fondly recalled that he had recited this very verse in al-Jami al-Azhar during the convocation ceremony in which he was presented with an honorary doctorate by the institution. He remarked how the students of al-Azhar were greatly pleased when they heard the word ‘al-Azhar’ which is the name of their institution. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal RA provided an insightful commentary on photography, recalling that his father Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA had made similar observations during his sermons. Syedna RA remarked that a photographer is obliged to take photos in an appropriate manner. There are those who take photographs haphazardly and carelessly. This is incorrect and inappropriate. ‘If you take a photo, it should be done correctly.’ Photos that do a disservice to their subject by capturing them in an unbefitting manner defeat their purpose. 

Rasul Allah SAW has extolled the reward for those who recite the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. In one instance he states that the life and possessions of those who profess the shahada are protected. In another instance, however, he adds a stipulation of sincerity and declares that those who profess the shahada with sincerity have entered heaven. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA noted that Rasul Allah SAW used the past tense — dakhala i.e. entered. This usage suggests a dual understanding of heaven: one in potentiality (bi al-quwwah) and one in actuality (bi al-fi’l). The ‘potential heaven’ is the Dawat through which passage to the ‘actual heaven’ can be achieved. Just as it is impossible for one to enter this world but through the mother’s womb, one can never ascend to jannat but through the Dawat. 

Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA stated that Islam is muhabbat. He then added that Islam also means submission and humility and it is muhabbat that enables one to carry out both these acts.

He then recited the ayat sharifa:

O Mohammed! Say “If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you.”

This verse necessitates the presence in every day and age of someone who directs people to follow him, so that Allah will in turn love them. Otherwise how will those who come into existence after the time of Nabi Mohammed SAW know that they are truly following him?

In  this context, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA recalled his visit to Ajmer for the iftitah of a masjid. A visit to the famous mausoleum located there was not scheduled. However, leading members of the Muslim community requested Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA to visit. For the sake of Islam and the Muslim community, Syedna Saifuddin RA accepted their invitation, following the example of Maulana Ali AS who expended every effort in the service of Islam. Syedna Saifuddin RA was welcomed at the mausoleum and presented with a gold-lettered Quran, which they asked him to open. Initially Syedna RA declined their request, but upon their insistence, he opened the Quran Majeed and it opened to a page that had the following ayat sharifa:

They are the ones who follow the Messenger, the ummi Prophet.

Upon seeing this ayat shareefa they all immediately called out Allah-o-Akbar, saying ‘We wanted to know who you truly are.’

Therefore, one must follow the one who follows Nabi Mohammed SAW. But how will one know that Allah loves him? By Allah’s wali; His dai’s love for him.

The word الاسلام (al-Islam) has seven letters alluding to its seven pillars. Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS states that Islam has been established upon seven pillars, its first being walayat. It is only through walayat and adherence to the wali, the one whose walayat has been mandated, is it possible to uphold these pillars.

In Arabic, when alif and laam are added before a noun it becomes a definite article and is known as a maʿrifa, for example الـ اسلام. A noun without an alif and laam before it is known as a nakira, indefinite article: اسلام. Al-Islam is seven letters, while Islam is five letters and using these constructs, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA explained that those who hold that there are only five pillars to the faith, have reduced Islam to an indefinite article. Without walayat there is no definitive understanding of Islam. He argued that in every day and age there must be someone who upholds the tenets of faith. Today, even the smallest of organisations and operations require a single individual in a position of authority to ensure that it functions smoothly. How can that not be the case for Islam? How can there be no one to protect its institutions and oversee their correct functioning? There is indeed a protector of Islam, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA declared, and by virtue of his divine blessings al-Islam thrives.  

In expounding upon the seven pillars of Islam, Syedna Burhanuddin RA emphasised the principle of baraʾat – the disowning of the enemies of Dawat – within the principle of walayat. Syedna RA explained that baraʾat is mandatory. “Do you not recite the Quran?” he asked, pointing out that before one says bismillah invoking the name of Allah, it is necessary to say, aʿuzo bi Allah and seek protection from Satan.

Syedna RA stressed the importance of conversing in Lisan al-Dawat, especially at home. Wherever Mumineen reside, in whichever country or city, they must speak in Dawat ni zaban. It should not be the case that children come home and instead of saying ‘al-salaamo alaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakaatuhu’, they say, ‘good morning!’ 

“Seek education,” Syedna RA encouraged. Pursuing a BA, an MA or LLB, but never at the cost of your faith. The knowledge of deen is of paramount importance and it must take priority over other pursuits and forms of education. 

Interest is haraam; how could something so accursed be utilised in a Mumin’s house? Syedna RA cautioned Mumineen to extricate  themselves from the sludge of interest and establish businesses built on halal, sharia-compliant practices and products. Alcohol is haram. Syedna RA maintained that most likely there was no Mumin who consumed alcohol, but if, through the influence of societal pressure and bad company, any youngster has succumbed to drinking, then let him abstain from this moment on. Equally, tobacco, smoking and the like are forbidden too. 

Veemo – insurance – is also disdained. Rather, why not set aside Nazr al-Maqam? Maqam refers to Nabi, Wasi and Imam. Syedna RA then lightheartedly recalled an instance when someone set aside Nazr al-Maqam and found their need fulfilled all but instantly. The individual then remarked, “If only I had not set aside Nazr al-Maqam”, thinking his requirement would have been fulfilled regardless. Burhanuddin Maula RA re-emphasised that it was precisely because of the barakat of Nazr al-Maqam that his task was achieved. 

Wherever Mumineen live, they must be vigilant in protecting their culture and surroundings, adhering to their established customs and traditions. Men should keep a full beard, not trimmed or fashionable ones, and women should maintain decorum and propriety. Commenting on how Mumineen dress in waʿz in libaas al-Anwar, Syedna RA lauded how well they all looked in their saya kurtas

Children must be dutiful to their parents. If they are not, then Syedna RA cautioned them that in their old age, they too would find that their children are belligerent and uncaring towards them. Similar to Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s TUS counsel from yesterday, Syedna Burhanuddin RA asked children to heed his words and not forget what their parents had done for them; the sacrifices they made for their well being and upbringing. 

In certain situations, younger generations, having acquired various degrees and credentials, see themselves as better educated than their fathers and consequently, better positioned to lead the family business and make decisions. They relegate their fathers to the ‘easy chair’. Burhanuddin Maula RA cautioned against such a mentality and declared that it is our elders that are the source of blessings. He caringly instructed his young audience to respect their fathers’ authority and experience, and serve and learn from them.

Syedna RA referred to a hadith shareef wherein Rasul Allah SAW enjoins Muslims to undertake four acts: 

Spread goodwill and peace by reciting salaam, engage in feeding others, ensure good relations with kin and pray namaaz at night while others sleep; you will enter jannat in peace.

While explaining the first instruction to spread salaam aloud, Syedna RA observed how unique and endearing a greeting it was. There are different types of salaam; if one says ‘alaikum al-salaam’ then the one who is being greeted responds by saying ‘wa alaikum afdhal al-salaam’ [upon you the best salaam]. By doing so, both are left at ease and can rest assured that they are safe. 

With regards to the second instruction, Syedna al-Muqaddas RA explained how feeding others is a virtuous act. He commented how certain naive individuals consider the funds used in feeding wasteful, suggesting that those resources could be better spent. The appropriate response to such disparaging comments would be to tell them to stay hungry for sometime and then perhaps offer their views on feeding others. 

Syedna RA commented on Rasul Allah’s SAW third instruction and counselled Mumineen stating, ‘Mend and restore your relationship with your loved ones for they have been linked and connected to you by Allah Taʿala Himself.’ The benefits of maintaining and restoring relationships is that it results in longevity and the opposite is true too. Cutting ties with one’s relatives results in the reduction of one’s lifespan. Brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters – everyone should work towards unity and accord amongst each other. 

Finally, Rasul Allah SAW encourages us to pray whilst others are asleep. He also said that the one who stays awake in prayer will find his countenance radiant during the day. 

In applying all four counsels, one will be assured of entering jannah with salaam.
May Allah Taʿala reward Syedna Burhanuddin RA for his loving words and tender counsel and may we continue to see his affection and concern for us in his son and successor, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS.