Reflections Majlis 2

3rd Muharram al-Haram

Al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS addressed the congregation as those who strive for a fortuitous beginning and end to all their endeavours by placing complete faith in Allah Taʿala and prefacing every good deed with bismillah. Allah Taʿala states in the Quran Majeed:

And [Nuh Nabi AS] said, “Embark therein; in the name of Allah [are] its course and its anchorage. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.”

It is by Allah Taʿala’s name that the ark of salvation goes forth and likewise, comes to a rest. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS referred to Mumineen as those who sit onboard the ark of salvation with poise and tranquillity, unperturbed by the crashing waves that surround it. 

He announced that today’s waʿz mubarak would be focused on recounting the virtues and fadaʾil of Rasul Allah’s SAW Ahle Bayt AS, whom he makes reference to in one  hadith mubarak as being akin to Nuh Nabi’s AS ship. He states: 

“The example of my Ahle bayt in your midst is like the ship of Nuh; whoever boards it attains salvation, and whoever lags behind, drowns.”

As an example of the ship motif’s prevalence in Islamic literature, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS quoted a Persian verse in praise of the Nabi Mohammed SAW which al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA was particularly fond of:

“What worry is there for the wall of the umma with you as its support?

What fear is there of the ocean’s waves for the one who has Nuh AS as the ship’s captain?”

As a precursor to his in-depth analysis of this analogy of the Ahle Bayt AS as an ocean vessel, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS recounted a brief history of this ancient mode of transport dating back to Nabi Nuh AS who is said to be the first to establish the necessities of seafaring. The influence of seafaring was so profound on transport, that even vessels from other modes bear maritime vernacular. In Urdu, for example, a plane is often referred to as a hawai jahaaz (lit. air ship), while rockets are known as spaceships. Among animals the camel, which traverses the vast expanses of desertland in much the same way that ships cross seas, is well known as the ‘ship of the desert’.

Continuing his exploration of the analogy of a ship, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS made reference to a passage by Imam Ahmad al-Mastur AS. In this passage, the Imam AS compares the human experience to a sea voyage:

  • The body is likened to a ship,
  • the soul is the ship’s captain,
  • the good deeds undertaken by the body are like merchandise for trade,
  • This world is like an ocean and every day of a person’s life is similar to the milestones of a journey,
  • death is the shore where the ship arrives,
  • the afterlife is the destination city where the merchandise is traded, and
  • jannat is the final profit.

Mufaddal Maula TUS commented that Mumineen had congregated from all parts of the globe during Ashara Mubaraka using different modes of transport, by plane, train and perhaps, some even by ship. A transport department has also been established to facilitate ferrying Mumineen to and from their destinations. The aim of transport is to enable commuting with ease and to do so whilst being mindful of its impact on the environment. In similar fashion, Syedna TUS remarked, Mumineen had gathered both physically and spiritually, their bodies being vessels for their souls. In doing so, they not only take care of their spiritual wellbeing but are also equally mindful of their physical health. Syedna TUS underscored the need to alleviate ‘tension’ and ‘stress’, because doing so ensures the overall wellbeing of the body, thereby assisting the soul especially in its endeavour to weep and mourn Imam Husain AS. In turn, the body too benefits from the barakat of his zikr

Every ship, no matter how impressively built, will eventually meet its end. The story of the Titanic is well-known; hailed as ‘unsinkable’ by its engineers, it sank on its maiden voyage. Similarly, the human body, no matter how strong or well maintained, will ultimately break down. In contrast, Rasul Allah SAW draws the analogy of Ahle Bayt AS, and by extension Aimmat Tahireen AS and Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA, as the ship of salvation. They function as the reliable vessel by which Mumineen can and will reach the destined shores of the hereafter. Even if that ship is pummelled by mountainous waves, nothing can sink it. 

Allah Taʿala addresses Nuh Nabi AS in the Quran Majeed:

When you and those with you, have boarded the ship, then say “al-hamd li Allah!” (all hamd is for Allah who has saved us from the oppressors. [al-hamd li Allah]. 

Syedna TUS lauded Mumineen who had boarded this ship of salvation with peace of mind, and thanked Allah Taʿala with the tasbeeh of “al-hamd li Allah! Shukran li Allah!”

Explaining the importance of peace of mind and serenity while travelling upon the ship of salvation, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS quoted a verse by Syedna al-Muayyad al-Shiraazi RA

The one who is guaranteed salvation upon boarding the ship is the one who dons the garbs of serenity. 

The garbs of serenity are an analogy for conviction and faith in the vessel’s inability to falter and sink. Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin RA was aboard a ship that came to be caught in a heavy storm. While others were fearful for their lives, one Mumin remarked that nothing would happen to the ship as Syedna Najmuddin RA was aboard it and he had still not appointed his successor.

Those seated uneasy on a vessel are unsure of its deliverance, and have little faith in its captainship. It is said that the first to abandon ship at the slightest hint of a squall, is the rat. In the Dawat it is the munafiq, who, at the first sign of turbulent times, lets his guard slip, revealing his true intentions and deserts Dawat, whereas Mumineen unswervingly continue to journey forward. 

Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS added that peace of mind is achieved by boarding with assurance and certainty. Those who boarded Nabi Nuh’s AS ark did so with utmost confidence in their captain’s guidance. Their certainty was strengthened as they witnessed the ship navigating through the waves that battered it. In this way, their souls were purified of any doubt, allowing them to remain peacefully on board.

The Quran Majeed narrates how Nabi Nuh AS was ridiculed as he set about building the ark:

And as he was constructing the ship, whenever the chiefs of his people passed by him, they mocked at him. He said: “If you mock us now, so will we [in turn] mock you as you have mocked us.

They called him a carpenter building an ark without any sign of an imminent storm. However, when the deluge arrived, it became evident to both those who embarked and those who did not, the wisdom and certainty with which Nabi Nuh AS acted. Similarly, in every age, there are those who mock the directives and actions of Saheb al-Zamaan as being unfit for the times. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS provided the example of how, during the pandemic, all Mumineen, young and old, came to understand the wisdom in the directive to learn how to make roti, as they were then able to do so for themselves when the dire need to prepare meals for one’s own self arised. Similarly, there were those who ridiculed Mumineen when they were told to forgo everything, business, jobs, school, college, and exams to attend the majalis of Imam Husain AS. Yet, Mumineen were not bothered, because they were certain and had experienced the great barakat of attending Imam Husain’s AS majaalis, and as such, were at peace.

Recognizing the benefits of Wali Allah’s directives reassures those who uphold them. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS illustrated this concept with an example from 1299 H when a Mumin named Sheikh Jivanjee travelled from Kutch to Karachi with 500 rupees. Following the direction of Syedna Abdul Qadir Najmuddin RA, Sheikh Jivanjee contributed  500 rupees to Dawat’s cause, all that he had; trusting that he would benefit from this act. Shortly thereafter, a merchant approached him and offered him bundles of ropes from a ship, in which he earned 5000 rupees—a tenfold return. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS noted that Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA often recalled this instance as an example of how, when done with certainty, upholding Wali Allah’s directives brings manifold rewards.

In every era, there are those who attempt to sink the vessel of haqq captained by Saheb al-Zaman. With the passing of Rasul Allah SAW, a mountainous wave struck the vessel of Dawat. Rasul Allah SAW had saved his people from the First Ignorance (Jaahiliyya Ula), a period prior to Islam when the Arabs were astray from faith and marred by the ignoble traditions of their tribal past. Now, however, there were those embedded within the Muslim community who wished to bring back a second age of Ignorance and return to its depravity. They tried to coax the ship’s captain, Amirul Mumineen AS, into taking up arms knowing that if battle ensued in the immediate aftermath of Rasul Allah’s SAW passing, many would turn their backs on the nascent faith. It was to this end that they brutally crushed Maulatona Fatema AS between the door and wall and subjected her to indescribable torments and assault. Despite this unbearable provocation, Amirul Mumineen AS kept his sword sheathed and remained unmoved from a corner of his home. 

In explaining Amirul Mumineen’s AS intent to safeguard Dawat and protect its ship at all costs, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA used the example of a quarrel between two women brought to Amirul Mumineen AS. The two women presented a newborn baby, each claiming to be its mother. Although the adjudication was brought to another, Amirul Mumineen AS intervened and entreated both women to resolve the case amicably. Each, however, would not forgo their claim of motherhood. Finally, he called for a saw. Seeing this the women enquired as to his intention and he explained that he would cut the infant in half and give each woman half. One of the women remained silent, while the other cried out, “Allah! Allah!” and beseeched Amirul Mumineen AS to hand the baby over to the other woman. Amirul Mumineen AS exclaimed, “Allaho Akbar!” and instead handed the infant to her, whilst admonishing the false claimant telling her that if she had been the true mother, she would have been moved by maternal instinct and love to spare the child. 

This case symbolised how Amirul Mumineen AS looked upon the nascent Islam in the same way as a mother, preferring to hand it over to those who were not its rightful guardians in order to spare it from annihilation. With the same intent, but now with the opposite action, Imam Husain AS drew his sword to spare Islam from the threat of Yazeed. Having witnessed him consuming alcohol and his blatant perversion of Islam, Imam Husain AS vowed never to pledge loyalty to him but instead to rise against him. Had Imam Husain AS not done so, people would have seen Yazeed’s disgraceful acts and hypocrisy as acceptable and questioned the value and true nature of Islam. Instead, Imam Husain AS proceeded to Karbala with his Ahle Bayt and demonstrated to the entire world the great prestige and sanctity of Islam, for which he was prepared to sacrifice himself and his family. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS repeated Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s RA staunch objection to those who metaphorically write in their compositions that Imam Husain’s AS ship sank in Karbala. Imam Husain’s AS ship did not sink for his Dawat continues, and there are to this day, those who grieve his shahadat. Syenda Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS then exclaimed, “Has the ship sunk or does it survive? Has it sunk or does it survive!”.

Imam Husain AS was survived by his son, Imam Ali Zainul Abideen AS, who, despite facing heinous violence and oppression after his father’s martyrdom, continued to exemplify the true values of Islam: ibaadat and ihsaan. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS remarked how any ordinary human who had endured the tortures suffered by the Imam might become depressed or consider harming others. However, Imam Zainul Abideen AS occupied himself with prayer and with feeding others, demonstrating how providing food to others is also worship. He prayed a thousand rakaʿats and at night provided for a hundred households by his own hand, even though he could have delegated this to others.

Throughout history, each Imam AS and Dai RA has had to contend with the mountain-like waves brought upon them and the Dawat by their adversaries. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA repelled successive waves on numerous fronts. One of the most cataclysmic waves the adversaries of his time sought to drown Mumineen in, was that of interest. Hence, of the numerous foes who stood against the Dawat there were those in Godhra and Dahod, and of those Syedna Burhanuddin RA cautioned against one in particular. This man would attend Syedna Burhanuddin’s RA majalis wearing a prominent  pagri and with his long beard making a show of obedience and civility. But he was the founder of a bank and had the explicit intention to lure Mumineen with the promise of easy loans and to make them beholden to himself and his bank, eventually steering them away from the Dawat. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of Syedna Burhanuddin RA, who countered the onslaught of such waves by institutionalising and revitalising the Islamic practice of qardan hasana, many would have been swept away. Syedna TUS then pointed out the remarkable fact that Mumineen today are the only ones in the world who uphold the Islamic tenet of eschewing interest in all its forms. In so doing Duʿat Mutlaqeen have maintained the sanctity of Islam, because if Mumineen too were to engage in interest, there would be nobody else on earth upholding this tenet. 

In addition to their attempts to subvert the Dawat,  these same adversaries also made an attempt on his life. In the year 1406 H, Syedna Burhanuddin RA proceeded to Ghurrat al-Masajid after the ziyarat of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA in Raudat Tahera on the night of jumua. Whilst he was delivering a bayan, a loud explosion was heard, but by the grace of Allah, Syedna and Mumineen were unharmed. 

With the barakat of Awliya Kiraam AS, one can also become a supporting vessel for others. One such example is that of Maulana Abbas Alamdar AS. As the sun set on the eve of Ashura, Imam Husain AS summoned his companions, enjoining them to take the hands of each of his children and retreat into the darkness of the night, leaving him alone to face the oppressors. It was Abbas AS who was the first to pledge his undying allegiance to Imam Husain AS, and inspired by him, each of Imam Husain’s AS companions rose to affirm their fidelity with vigour and verve. 

When Ashura Day dawned, one by one each of Imam Husain’s AS companions sacrificed themselves on the battlefield. The raging thirst with which Ahle Bait AS battled reached a point where Maulatona Sakina AS emerged from the encampment, clutching a small water-skin, entreating her uncle to fetch water for her. 

Like the ship of Nuh AS that set sail in Allah Taʿala’s name, Maulana Abbas AS had found the opportunity he needed to sacrifice himself for Imam Husain AS. He took the water-skin, mounted his horse and, overcoming the serried ranks of the oppressors, reached the banks of the Euphrates. Filling the water-skin whilst not tasting a single drop, he turned to head back to his beloved niece. Yet, as he did, wave after wave of mountainous attacks aimed to impede him – the very famed warrior who himself stood tall like a colossal mountain. 

The first wave of attack came from behind the date-palms where the enemy was hidden, severing his right arm. Instantly, Maulana Abbas AS grabbed the water-skin in his left, egging his mount to keep going. A second wave struck him, and severed his left arm, so he took the water-skin into his mouth. Looking ahead, he could see Maulatona Sakina AS waiting earnestly on the edge of the encampment and with all his will and strength, he hastened his horse to keep moving. Alas! A third wave hit him in the mouth in the form of an arrow, leaving his blessed mouth gushing with blood and causing the water to be spilled. Maulana Abbas AS fell to the ground, and cried out to his Maula, Husain AS. Aqa Husain AS came and seeing his befallen brother, held his back in anguished pain. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that Maulana Abbas AS taught every khidmatguzaar a vital lesson; never abandon one’s khidmat no matter how great the opposing odds are. Furthermore, in performing khidmat, one’s intention must always be sincere; when Maulana Abbas AS had reached the Euphrates, he did not even taste a drop of water even though he could. His intention was so pure, that even though he was unable to deliver the water to Sakina AS, he became forever known as ‘saqqa’ – the one who indeed fetched and delivered water. 

In addressing Nabi Nuh AS, Allah Taʿala instructs him to “to transport within the ship, from every thing, a pair” (11:40). This paired duality is evident within the vessel of Dawat as well. Dawat encompasses both the physical and metaphysical, the exoteric and esoteric and provides for both the teacher and the student. Alluding to the dual interdependence of things, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS emphasised that Dawat promotes wellbeing in both the material and spiritual sense. He exhorted Mumineen to perform well in both, urging them to not pursue one at the other’s expense, but rather simultaneously strive to achieve the best in both worldly and spiritual endeavours. Syedna TUS referred to a man-servant of Amirul Mumineen AS who was aptly named Safeen (سفين) for, like a boat,  he would carry Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS, as well as lift their goods and chattels. Syedna TUS then extrapolated that if he were to take up every action with grace and flair, a Mumin too could also become like a ship. Beckoning each Mumin, Syedna TUS called him to embark on his journey, undeterred by the thrashing waves he may encounter on his path. 

May Allah Taʿala bless Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin with a long life in health and happiness till the Day of Qiyamat.