Reflections Majlis 8

9th Muharram al-Haram

Adding another dimension to this year’s central theme of discussing people, places and actions that are beloved to Allah Taʿala, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS introduced the concept of longing to meet Allah as an expression of muhabbat in his opening address. He addressed us as “the people who long to meet Allah Taʿala”, those who express this longing through their muhabbat and remembrance of His beloved. He emphasised that this muhabbat is a defining trait of the faithful as outlined in the Quran:

[T]hose who believe are stauncher in their love for Allah

To love Allah Taʿala staunchly, means that the extent of love one has for Allah is reserved for only Him and nothing and no one else. Awliyah Allah AS are exemplars of this type of love and have set an example for Mumineen to follow. In the final moments of Rasul Allah’s SAW life, Jibarʾeel brought Malak al-Mawt (the angel of death) to him and respectfully offered him the option to either prolong his stay in this temporal realm and continue the propagation of the faith, or ascend to al-Rafeeq al-ʿAlaa, the Divine Companionship. Unhesitatingly Rasul Allah SAW responded that he had accomplished all that Allah Taʿala had tasked him with and emphatically chose the latter option. 

Amirul Mumineen AS expressed his longing to meet Allah Taʿala by always seeking Rasul Allah’s SAW company and by his reluctance to part from him. Maulana al-Mannan TUS supported this with two examples from Amirul Mumineen’s AS life. First, during the Battle of Tabuk, Rasul Allah SAW appointed Amirul Mumineen AS as his deputy in Madina. With deep humility, Amirul Mumineen AS conveyed his earnest desire to be by Rasul Allah’s SAW side, to the extent that, miraculously, he was able to join him in the battlefield. Similarly, during the final moments of Maulatona Fatema’s AS life, Amirul Mumineen AS instructed her to convey his salaam to Rasul Allah SAW and inform him of his deep desire to join him. 

As he listed the lofty traits of the Panjatan, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS praised Imam Hasan AS, whose zikr today’s waʿz mubarak was reserved for. Syedna al-Mifdaal TUS narrated an incident which highlighted Imam Hasan’s AS sagacity and knowledge, especially as a wise adjudicator. Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS spoke of a man who had been caught with a bloodied knife in his hand and a shuddering corpse at his side and was brought to Amirul Mumineen AS to be tried for murder. The man confessed to murder and was imprisoned to await execution. At that moment, another man rapidly approached, insisting that the imprisoned man was innocent and that he was the one who had committed the murder and the first man should therefore be taken back to Amirul Mumineen AS. Upon inquiry, the first man said that he confessed to the murder  because he could not see how anyone would accept his plea of innocence considering the circumstances in which he was found.  Amirul Mumineen AS diverted the matter to Imam Hasan AS who declared that although the second man had committed murder and should be executed according to the laws of Islam, he had also exonerated the first man by confessing to murder, effectively saving his life. Adducing the Quranic verse (5:32), ‘And whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind,’  Imam Hasan AS absolved both men and proclaimed that the blood money be paid to the victim’s family from the official treasury. 

Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS always longed for each other’s company and each would accord the other utmost respect. Similarly, they cherished the opportunity to meet with Rasul Allah SAW and Jibarʾeel. Asbagh bin Nubata narrates that on one occasion he came to the presence of Amirul Mumineen AS and noticed that his gaze was intently fixed upon Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS. He enquired why this was the case. Amirul Mumineen AS related to him that he was once labouring in his estate in the sweltering heat when he noticed that it was already close to midday. He made his way home and asked Maulatona Fatema AS if there was anything to eat in the house. She immediately set out to prepare a meal for him. A few moments later as the time for zuhr namaz drew near, he saw that Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS  had arrived home and were lovingly embraced by Maulatona Fatema AS. She inquired why they had arrived late and they replied that they were both with Rasul Allah SAW and Jibarʾeel. Imam Hasan AS further elaborated that he was seated on Rasul Allah’s SAW lap and Imam Husain AS was seated on Jibarʾeel’s lap and they continually switched places with each other, moving from one’s lap to the other’s until finally when zawal neared, Jibarʾeel left Rasul Allah SAW to pray namaz and ascended to the heavens. That is when the two Imams hurried home. Hearing this, Amirul Mumineen AS left in order to pray namaz with Rasul Allah SAW. He then informed Rasul Allah SAW of what the two Imams had related to him and Maulatona Fatema AS. Rasul Allah SAW exclaimed that they were both undoubtedly true in their word, and that both he and Jibarʾeel had spent the entire morning proudly praising the two brothers. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then stated that during the period of satr, the Aimmat Tahireen AS have instructed their Duat Mutlaqeen AS to call Mumineen towards them and to ensure that they remain firmly adhered to them. Meeting the Duat AS therefore is tantamount to meeting the Aimmat AS and holds the same blessings and barakaat. This notion is elucidated by the actions of Syedna Abduttayeb Zakiuddin RA in the wake of  Majduʿ’s illegitimate claim and resultant sedition. Syedna Zakiuddin RA strived with exemplary dedication to safeguard Mumineen from his malice. Syedna Hebatullah al-Muʾayyd fi al-Din RA then asked him to come to his presence. Upon his arrival he sincerely and devoutly offered his respects to Syedna Hebatullah RA making it apparent to Mumineen that he was undoubtedly the rightful Dai and that Majduʿ was a false claimant. Syedna Zakiuddin RA would repeatedly state that when he beheld Syedna Hebatullah RA he witnessed the radiance and barakat of the Aimmat AS and the Panjatan AS.

Today’s waʿz mubarak was based on the following hadith mubarak:

Allah desires to meet those who desire to meet Him; Allah loathes to meet those who loathe to meet Him. 

The Quran Majeed narrates that Musa Nabi AS beseeched Allah Taʿala for the opportunity to behold Him. However, the Almighty replied that what he asked was beyond the capacity of angels, let alone humans. The Almighty instead redirected Musa Nabi AS to the mountain where he experienced the presence of the Almighty. Syedna TUS then explained that one can enter the presence of the Almighty by entering into the presence of Awliya Allah AS.

Jabir b. Abdullah narrated that during the siege of Taif, Rasul Allah SAW was engrossed in private conservation with Maulana Ali AS for an extended period of time. Seeing this the hearts of many raged with jealousy. Some of them gibed Rasul Allah SAW saying, ‘You had a very long conversation with Maulana Ali AS today.’ Rasul Allah SAW replied, ‘It was not I who was speaking to Ali in private, but Allah.’ 

Syedna TUS then pointed out that no matter how great a Mumin’s desire is to meet with and come to the presence of his Maula, Maula’s longing towards a Mumin is always far, far greater. To show this he cited the example of al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna al-Muʾayyad al-Shirazi RA who journeyed to the presence of Imam Mustansir AS from Persia. From Egypt, Imam AS sent him to conquer Iraq, and due to his efforts sermons were recited in the name of Imam Mustansir AS in Baghdad, the Abbasid capital, for over a year. Upon his return from this successful conquest he was subjected to a number of hardships, the greatest of which was being denied the opportunity to behold the Imam’s countenance. For 40 days he would sit at the Imam’s AS doorstep and recite the Quran. Then when he could no longer bear the separation, he penned four verses and sent them to the Imam AS:

By Allah I swear that were you to place the crown of Kisra (Khosrow), the king of the East upon my head.

And present me with all things of the world, from those who have passed away and those still living

On the condition that we could not meet for [even] a single moment, My Maula, my heart’s desire is to meet you (I would refuse all these things).

Because your separation, even if for an instant, has greyed the locks of hair on my temple and forehead. 

Imam Mustansir AS replied in a similar format revealing that his desire towards Syedna al-Muʾayyad RA was greater than Syedna al-Muʾayyad’s RA towards him. This is seen in the manner in which he addresses Syedna RA:

O, hujjat who is renowned throughout the world; O mountain of knowledge that cannot be scaled.

Our doors have not been shut for you, but due to painful and distressing circumstances. 

We have not denied you because we have grown weary of you, have faith in our love and turn towards what is appropriate.

Syedna TUS then cited another hadith mubarak establishing that Maula’s desire towards Mumineen is greater than their desire for Maula:

Jannat’s desire towards Salman [al-Farsi RA] is greater than Salman’s desire towards jannat.

Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA writes:

My pride lies in visiting Mumineen and warmly greeting them, and by doing so, spiting the adversaries.

Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA writes that my pride lies in meeting and greeting those who profess love for Aale Mohammed AS. How should I meet them? With a smiling countenance; by giving them numerous glad tidings; by praying for them; by endeavouring for their betterment; by calling them to my presence; rather by journeying to their towns and cities; by visiting them in their homes; by going to their shops and workplaces and looking into their matters. Syedna TUS then asked, “How does a Mumim greet his Maula?” In times of happiness he does so by exclaiming “Maula Mubarak! Maula Mubarak!” While during the days of Ashara it is through shedding tears and calling out Ya Husain! Ya Husain!   

Syedna TUS then mentioned that a Mumin takes great care and consideration when preparing to come to Maula’s presence. However, Maula’s care and attention in preparing to meet Mumineen is always far greater. He then narrated an example of an Imam’s desire towards his Dai. Syedna Idris Imaduddin RA writes that Aflah b. Harun was a dai of Imam Mehdi bi Allah AS known for his melodious voice, recital of the Quran, and impeccable character. Imam AS had appointed him as a judge in Mahdia and Raqqada. One day Imam AS longed to see him and directed him to come to his presence. Imam AS also issued instructions permitting him to enter the palace accompanied by his full entourage. When the dai arrived, Imam Mehdi AS was unwell, however, he welcomed him and then permitted him to offer words of gratitude following which Imam AS addressed him. As he listened to the Imam’s AS words he was overcome with emotion, falling to the Imam’s feet and beseeching the Almighty to take him from this world. When asked why he uttered such a prayer, he replied that the Imam’s words had raised him to such a stature of excellence, that he feared that should he leave his presence, he would undoubtedly sin and compromise this bounty. As such, it was better to pass with this great position intact.  

Syedna TUS showed how the Imam’s desire to see Dai Aflah b. Haroon was far greater than the dai’s desire to behold the Imam through three actions: 1) by permitting him to enter accompanied by his entire entourage, 2) The Imam’s words of benedictions for the dai was far more impactful than the dai’s address to the Imam, and 3) By entering the presence of the Imam the dai felt that he was in the presence of the Almighty.     

As much as a Mumin longs to connect and meet his Maula, Maula’s longing and desire to commune with a Mumin, both physically and spiritually is much more profound. Allah Taʿala states in the 152nd ayat of Sura al-Baqara:

Remember me; I will remember you

Imam Sadiq AS in extrapolating the nuances within this ayat shareefa, explains that

Allah Taʿala’s remembrance of you is greater, more delightful, more commending, more complete and swifter than your remembrance of him.

Syedna TUS used the example of Maulana Abdullah AS on Ashura day to illustrate these five ways in which Maula’s remembrance of a Mumin is more in every way.

Firstly, the degree to which Maula remembers a Mumin greatly exceeds a Mumin’s remembrance of his Maula. When Maulana Abdullah AS comes to Imam Husain AS he says that I am your humble servant but Imam Husain AS responds in a superior manner by saying you are the mark of my brother, Imam Hasan AS

Secondly, the gratification a Mumin experiences when remembering his Maula, is surpassed by the delectation Maula feels when remembering a Mumin. Maulana Abdullah AS longed to dedicate Himself to Imam Husain AS but Imam Husain AS displayed an even more poignant yearning: to solemnise the marriage of his beloved daughter, Maulatona Sakina AS with him.

Thirdly, Maula’s praise for a Mumin outweighs the exaltation of a Mumin for his Maula. Maulana Abdullah AS praises Imam Husain AS as the Maula for whom Ahle Bait AS and his companions have given their lives. Yet, Imam Husain AS honours him by not only including him amongst the praiseworthy shohada, but exalts him further by making him a groom whom he sends off to battle.

Fourthly, a Mumin remembers select aspects of his Maula but Maula remembers everything that pertains to that Mumin’s existence. Maulana Abdullah AS remembered his father’s chit that he had kept as an amulet, but Imam Husain AS remembered not only that final bequest but also Imam Hasan’s AS wish for Abdullah AS to marry Maulatona Sakina AS

Finally, a Maula’s remembrance of a Mumin is swifter than that of a Mumin’s remembrance of his Maula. With the marriage barely officiated, Maulana Abdullah AS made haste to fulfil his pledge to Imam Husain AS, yet Imam Husain AS, before Abdullah AS could ride off, summoned him and swiftly transformed his nuptial garbs into a burial shroud, immediately giving him the glad tidings of shahadat

In this way, the example of Maulana Abdullah’s AS remembrance of Imam Husain AS and Imam Husain’s AS remembrance of him, exemplifies the superior way in which Maula remembers a Mumin. 

Continuing to illustrate the way Maula’s longing towards a Mumin is more pronounced in every way, Syedna TUS spoke of the immense barakat of salawaat. When one prays salawaat upon Rasul Allah SAW an angel near Rasul Allah’s SAW grave relays the salawaat back to that Mumin. As with salawaat, Awliya Kiram AS return all the supplications and duʿas that Mumineen offer for their sake back to them.

Syedna Taher  Saifuddin RA in relating the innate barakat of salawaat, narrated the instance where a man, falsely accused of stealing a camel, was exonerated by the same camel. It was willed by Allah Taʿala to speak as a result of the man’s sincere recitation of salawaat

Offering greater insight into the intentions of that accused Mumin, Syedna RA explained that even though it was Rasul Allah’s SAW own judgement based on the sworn, but false, testimony of his accusers, that condemned the man to be punished for his alleged crime, it did not even occur to the man that Rasul Allah SAW had erred in his judgement. Rather, he accepted that Rasul Allah SAW, as judge, adjudicated based on the apparent testimony of others. This was not an instance of an unknown and concealed matter; Rasul Allah SAW acted in accordance with the authority he had assumed as judge. The Mumin’s belief was that whatever the case, Rasul Allah SAW was his Maula and he was but a humble servant. Rooted in this firm conviction he prayed salawaat upon Rasul Allah SAW. Seeing his sincerity, Allah Taʿala sent angels that prompted the camel to speak and testify in favour of the man and Rasul Allah SAW pardoned him. Such is the barakah of salawaat

Syedna RA ended his commentary on this incident by highlighting that when Maula, in his infinite judgement, seeks to reproach someone or something, a Mumin must recognise it as a blessing dressed as a punishment. Not for a moment should a Mumin think that due to others making a case, or some account being presented to Maula, Maula was incited to make a decision or to administer justice. Rather, a Mumin must accept that it is Maula’s decision and understand that there is some deeper reason (hikmah) for his ruling. By thinking thus, a seemingly unfavourable ruling becomes a saving grace. 

In the context of the elation felt by Awliya Allah AS when they meet Mumineen and their delight when a Mumin comes to them to fulfil their prayers, needs and wishes. Syedna TUS explained that Awliya Allah AS are overjoyed that the Mumin came to them to seek what he needed rather than knocking on doors elsewhere. So, when a man came to Rasul Allah SAW asking for the gift of a child, Rasul Allah SAW was intent on fulfilling his wish and making him happy for this man, while blessed with wealth, had had no children and now, in his advanced years he had given up hope of having any. 

However, even as Rasul Allah SAW was about to pray for him to have a child, Jibraʾeel descended with the news that he was not destined to have any and that Rasul Allah SAW should not pray for him. It was the intercession of Imam Husain AS that enabled him to fulfil the man’s wish as the young imam, just four years of age, brought unbridled joy not only to the man who had come asking, but also to his troubled grandfather and the troubled messenger, Jibraʾeel.

The end result of a Mumin’s constant desire to meet Awliyah Allah AS is that this Mumin becomes permanently connected to Wali Allah AS in a way that they never part, not even for a second. What does it mean to be connected to Wali Allah AS, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS asked? It is to maintain the belief that Wali Allah’s AS gaze is always upon a Mumin by virtue of the taʾyeed and ilhaam that come his way. Nothing eludes him, and he alone knows what is best to do in all situations.  When a Mumin’s resolve to adhere to Wali Allah AS is as described, powerful and steady, then Wali Allah AS reciprocates with an even stronger desire to ensure that he remains at his side. How? By ensuring that tawfeeq — divine inspiration towards good — accompanies him at all times so that he sees success in all that he does.

In order to illustrate this, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS gave the example of Faraj al-Khadim. Faraj was Imam Mansoor’s AS commander of an army he dispatched to present-day southern Italy to confront Byzantine raids on Fatimi territory and join forces with Hasan b. Ali who was Imam’s AS governor. When they arrived in Calabria (قلورية) where the Imam AS had instructed them to go, they found the winter conditions unbearable and decided to set up camp instead in Sicily (صقلية). Imam Mansoor AS dispatched a letter to them in Sicily in which he instructed them to leave the minute they received it. In this letter he highlighted the flaws in their thought process which led to their decision to relocate to Sicily. Imam AS revealed that they believed their physical presence and what seemed like Imam’s AS absence from that location meant that they were in a better position to make a decision about their situation. Imam AS corrected them and stated that it was they who were actually absent and he who was present, and as such, most worthy of making the decision. Faraj and Hasan left for Calabria as soon as they received the letter, and reached just before the Byzantine forces, thus giving them the upper hand which led to their victory. 

Another way that the desire to meet Allah Taʿala finds expression in our lives is through the process of preparing for death. Prior to its arrival, one should prepare for death by seeking a long life so that one can continue to do good. For after death, no deed or action is possible. Maula TUS said that we should see every breath as a meeting between us and our Creator, and in this way, every act of ours will be as it should be.

In describing how a Mumin’s every moment has value, Syedna Saifuddin TUS quoted the following hadith shareef:

A Mumin’s every action is namaz, to the extent that even his removal of an object that might cause harm to someone from a path is also namaz.  

If his every action is namaz, and in namaaz he is before Allah Taʿala, then throughout his life, each and every moment, whether awake or asleep, he is meeting Allah. And if that is the case, then every aspect of a Mumin’s life requires diligence and careful preparation, even the time he takes for rest and rejuvenation. 

In relaying the shahadat of Imam Husain AS, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS retold a heart-rending zikr of Imam Husain AS and Maulatona Zainab AS. ‘When Husain asks for this pehran, know that his death is imminent.’ These were the heart-rending words Maulatona Fatema AS spoke to her daughter, Maulatona Zainab AS prior to her passing, and now that moment had indeed come. Imam Husain AS called for the trunk in which it was kept and Maulatona Zainab AS helped him to put it on. Having donned it, he rent it ragged so that the enemy would let it be after his shahadat. When all the other clothes would be stripped from his wounded body, this one pehran would continue to shield it and safeguard it. He wore another three garments over this pehran, before finally riding out into battle.

We are immensely grateful for Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s TUS words of wisdom and counsel, and pray that the Almighty bless him with a life of health and happiness until the Day of Judgement.