Reflections Majlis 3

4th Muharram al-Haram

At the start of the third majlis of this year’s Ashara Mubaraka, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS informed the gathering that the wa’z mubarak would centre upon various hadith shareef in which Rasul Allah SAW has drawn analogies for his ashaab (companions) and his umma (community). 

In the first hadith shareef

The example of my ashaab among my umma is like that of stars; whomever among them you follow, you will find guidance.

Rasul Allah SAW compares his ashaab to stars as both serve as guides for those who seek direction. Just as one navigates by the stars, one finds guidance through the ashaab. Syedna TUS explained, citing Syedna Idris Imaduddin RA, that Rasul Allah’s SAW true ashaab are Maulna Ali AS, Imams Hasan AS and Husain AS, the Aimmat Tahireen AS and their Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA. They are in the truest sense his companions, even though they may be in different places and times. 

The Quran Majeed states that stars are meant for guidance:

And by the stars they find the right way.

Yet, only those knowledgeable in the science of navigation can benefit from the guidance of the stars. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS referenced a practice whereby in the northern hemisphere, one can use any star to determine cardinal directions by observing its movement relative to a fixed point. Regardless of which star is chosen, the method yields the same directional information. 

Similarly, just as any star can guide a knowledgeable traveller, any of Nabi Mohammed’s SAW ashaab can lead a seeker to the right path since they all provide the same directions. After Rasul Allah’s SAW wafaat, his ashaab gathered around his minbar, each guiding the umma towards Maulana Ali Amirul Mumineen AS. The Duat Mutlaqeen RA similarly have a single, unified message to all Mumineen: Our Maula is Imam al-Zamaan who holds the reins [of Dawat]. 

Awliya Kiram AS are celestial bodies that never cease to guide, but in order to navigate by them, one must have the discernment and knowledge of how to do so.  This is sublimely illustrated in the narrative of Amirul Mumineen AS and his loyal companion, Jabir bin Abd Allah al-Ansari RA. Jabir RA reached Madina following the light that emanated from Amirul Mumineen’s AS finger. In Madina, Jabir RA was blessed with Rasul Allah’s SAW ziyarat and was also able to retrieve his stash of a hundred gold coins. 

Maulana al-Min’aam TUS proceeded to enumerate the various ways in which Jabir RA was guided by Amirul Mumineen’s AS divine direction. Firstly, by asking Jabir RA whether he wished to perform Rasul Allah’s SAW ziyarat, Amirul Mumineen AS demonstrated to him that the aspiration and desire to do ziyarat is something one should always bear in their heart. Secondly, if indeed he wished to do ziyarat then he should embark on the path of light that emanated from Amirul Mumineen’s AS finger, instructing him that the pathway to ziyarat was illuminated by Amirul Mumineen AS. Thirdly, Jabir RA was left in no doubt as to the veracity of Amirul Mumineen’s AS offer, and thus he learned that when it is Maula AS who promises something, then there can never be any uncertainty towards it. Fourth, by performing ziyarat with sincere devotion and veneration, Jabir RA was given tawfeeq to retrieve his cache of coins that he had previously hidden in Madina. Fifthly, in gratitude of finding his hundred gold coins, Jabir RA performed ziyarat again and circumambulated Rasul Allah’s SAW sacred shrine seven more times, thus becoming aware of the significance of shukr

Furthermore, Amirul Mumimeen AS showed him that in undertaking the rites of faith with sincerity, one begets barakat and prosperity in one’s worldly matters as well. Moreover, Amirul Mumineen AS showed him that before commencing temporal matters, he should begin with a religious act of devotion, and do so again after the completion of those temporal tasks. Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS then proceeded to give the example of Mumineen, who may have travelled to Mumbai for work, but begin their trip by visiting Raudat Tahera and performing the ziyarat of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and return again to Raudat Tahera, in humble gratitude of the success of their endeavours. In this way Amirul Mumineen AS shone like a guiding star for Jabir RA, and in turn Jabir RA interpreted, correctly, his every instruction. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS thereupon stressed the compulsion for children to learn and speak Dawat ni Zabaan, for waʿz can never be conducted in English or Urdu. Some consider speaking in English a sign of sophistication and learning. Syedna TUS stated that sophistication (hushyaari) lies in communicating in Dawat ni Zabaan. Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS reminded Mumineen of the many times Burhanuddin Maula RA had highlighted the need for families to speak in Dawat ni Zabaan especially at home, during his travels to various countries, including England and the USA. He then emphatically addressed the congregation – parents, teachers, Aljamea’s educators and others, delegating them the critical task of recounting the events of Karbala, in Lisan al-Dawat to all the children of the community. 

The second hadith shareef that Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS elucidated, was the following: 

Truly, my companions are to my community as salt is to food; food is palatable and enhanced only with salt.

Salt enhances the flavour of food, not only savoury foods, but also balances sweetness and tempers sourness. Salt also functions as a preservative and staves off bacterial growth. Amirul Mumineen AS has also stated that, “grammar in language, is like salt in food.” Just like the absence of salt renders food bland, the lack of grammar renders language incomprehensible. 

In the same way that food becomes unpalatable without salt, the spiritual and material endeavours of Mumineen cannot amount to anything without their Maula TUS. More significantly, every oration, speech, discourse and intercession is augmented by the zikr of Imam Husain AS that engenders an otherworldly pleasure and gratification in those who engage in it, as demonstrated by Imam Ali Zainul Abideen AS. Not a serving of food was brought to him, without it evoking the memory of his father’s thirst and hunger, and causing him to weep profusely. Whether it is to rejoice or to mourn, there is not a single occasion that is not enhanced by the zikr of Imam Husain AS

In order to further comprehend the role of the companions as akin to salt in food, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS referred to the role of Ammar bin Yasir RA, the loyal companion to Amirul Mumineen AS. News was brought to Rasul Allah SAW that a wall had fallen on Ammar RA  and had resulted in his death. Rasul Allah SAW responded by saying that, “Ammar will not die, until he fights the ‘rebellious faction’ and they will kill him, for Ammar will call them to jannah, whereas they will call him to hellfire” indicating that Ammar RA would always be on the side of truth and justice.  

This hadith shareef was well chronicled and frequently spoken of. It was when Muʿawiyya led his dissenting army against Amirul Mumineen AS during the battle of Siffeen, that Ammar was killed. Since Rasul Allah’s declaration SAW regarding Ammar was well known, Amr bin al-Aas and his ilk were left in despair as to how to justify their revolt against Maulana Ali AS. In their desperation,  they sought to distort the meaning of  Rasul Allah’s SAW words, and claimed fallaciously that it was Amirul Mumineen AS who was actually responsible for Ammar’s death, for he had brought him along to battle. Responding to the sheer outrageousness of their claim, and underscoring the utter stupidity of the people of Shaam and the audacious ploys of Muʿawiya and his cabal, Amirul Mumineen AS reasoned that if that was the case, then Rasul Allah SAW was guilty of the death of all the Muslimeen who had fallen in his battles. 

Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS highlighted just how Ammar was like salt in food, for without him the issue of righteous guidance and leadership would be in disarray. Every faction sought to claim Ammar’s allegiance to it, so that they could assert their right. Muʿawiyya had prayed long and hard that he would be spared the death of Ammar at his hands, as he knew that truth – haqq – lay where Ammar stood.

The third of today’s ahaadith shareefa was related specifically to the umma:

The example of my umma is that of rain; it is not known whether its beginning is better or its end. 

In his elaboration of the hadith shareef, Mufaddal Maula TUS explained that rain, whether at its beginning or end, brings immense benefit. It cleanses the atmosphere, enriches the earth, brings life, and sustains both plants and animals. Water bodies are replenished by rainfall. While it might be unclear whether the beginning or end of the rain is most beneficial, Syedna TUS emphasised that the entire rainy season yields great benefits as a whole.

Syedna TUS then expanded upon the parallel between rainfall and Rasul Allah’s SAW umma. He elucidated that all members of the umma, from the first to the last, from the highest to the lowest, are worthy and beneficial to others. To illustrate this point, Syedna referenced Maulana al-Imam al-Muʿizz AS , who stated that every individual has a position which allows them to add value to any given situation. A person may seem insignificant, but when their need arises, they become indispensable. For example, while on a ship at sea even an insignificant object when required but missing can spell disaster. Similarly when mounting a well-trained horse, the lack of even the smallest instrument could render it useless. In a stone wall, the worth of large stones cannot be distinguished from that of small ones, for they both ensure the integrity of the wall.

In conclusion, Syedna pointed out that since all are of worth, and we cannot determine whether the first or last rain is more beneficial, or distinguish between the value of the greater and the smaller, or those of higher or lower rank, Rasul Allah SAW teaches his umma a profound lesson. Through this metaphor, Rasul Allah SAW instructs his followers to approach everyone with humility, recognising the potential value in each individual, just as each drop of rain contributes to the overall benefit.

In actuality, Rasul Allah’s SA umma are the Aimmat Tahireen AS and in their seclusion, the Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA. The good found in the first imam, is found in the last imam, and in all the imams. Similarly, the good found in the first dai, is the same good found in all the duʿat. It is indistinguishable whether this good was carried out by this dai or that dai, or every dai, or all the duʿat together. 

Referencing the teachings and values embedded in all three of Rasul Allah’s SAW ahaadith shareefa regarding his ashaab and umma, Mufaddal Maula TUS encouraged Mumineen to foster unity and friendship. Firstly, like celestial bodies that provide guidance, Maula TUS said that Mumineen should guide each other and offer one another sincere counsel and advice. Secondly, in the way salt improves the taste of food, becomes one with it, and prevents it from spoiling, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS directed that Mumineen should welcome the opportunity to involve themselves in the lives of their brethren, helping them and enhancing themselves and their families. Finally, Maula TUS guided Mumineen to benefit one another just as rain does throughout the season. They should help others with humility, from the first instance to the last. It should not be that their help is offered on some occasions, but when really needed, they are nowhere to be found. Maula TUS concluded by referencing the popular English adage, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Building upon the concept of friendship, introduced in today’s first two hadith shareef, Syedna TUS counselled Mumineen to foster friendships and relations which are beneficial. He cited the counsels of Amirul Mumineen AS to his beloved son Imam Hasan AS cautioning against befriending four particular kinds of people. Amirul Mumineen AS states:

 Beloved son! Be wary of befriending a fool for even though he may intend to benefit you he will ultimately harm you.

To illustrate this, Syedna TUS related the parable of a king who befriended a monkey. The king grew exceedingly attached to the monkey and would always have it by his side. He even gave it a sword so that it could guard him. On one occasion, whilst strolling in his gardens, the king felt the need to rest. He charged the monkey with the responsibility of standing guard over him and ensuring that nothing disturbed his repose. Whilst the king slept, a fly began to pester him. Dutifully, the monkey tried to swat it away multiple times but it would keep returning. At one point the fly landed on the king’s nose and the frustrated monkey lashed at it in a desperate attempt to keep it from disturbing the king’s sleep. The fly escaped the sword which found itself instead in the king’s head. 

The second counsel reads: 

Beware of befriending a miserly man, for he will refrain [from helping] you when you are most in need of him.

As an example, Mufaddal Maula TUS spoke of a series of events related to Hisham bin Abdulmalik, an Umayyad ruler known for his miserliness. Hisham had entrusted one of his estates to a close friend of his. The friend diligently tended to the estate and as a result of his labours, it yielded great profits. He added further value by developing the property with additional structures, growing Hisham’s profits even more. When the friend sent his son to Hisham with the earnings of the estate as was his custom, Hisham was greatly pleased. Hisham was conversing with him, in genial fashion and in the course of this, the son asked Hisham for financial help amounting to the meagre sum of 10 dinars. Hisham’s aspect soured, and he chastised the young man, vehemently refusing to part with even such a tiny amount in aid of his close and loyal friend. 

In Amirul Mumineen’s AS third counsel to Imam Hasan AS he states;

Beware of befriending the wicked man for he will sell you for a trifle (very little).

To illustrate this, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS cited the following narrative related by Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA as retold by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA. As a result of the persecution faced by early Muslims at the hands of the Quraish, a small group of Muslims led by Maulana Jafar al-Tayyar AS sought refuge in Habasha with Najashi, the Christian ruler there. When the Quraish learnt of this they sent Amr bin al-Aas and Umara bin al-Walid with an array of lavish gifts with which to sway Najashi and his courtiers against the Muslims. They boarded a ship towards Habasha and when night fell they began to drink. Inebriated, Umara began to make advances at Amr’s wife whilst Amr looked on. Amr, shamelessly, gave her permission to indulge Umara’s demands. A little while later, Amr made his way to a corner of the vessel to relieve himself. Seeing an opportunity to get rid of him and lay claim to his wife, Umara pushed him overboard. To his surprise and dismay, Amr knew how to swim and managed to make his way back onto the ship. Despite his contempt and anger, Amr chose to refrain from exacting retribution so that the purpose of their travels would not be compromised. Once in Habasha, Umara, ever the degenerate, engaged in forbidden relations with a woman from Najashi’s household, foolishly boasting of his exploits by showing Amr the scented token he received from her. Amr seized the opportunity to exact his revenge on Umara and disclosed the matter to Najashi who ordered for him to be punished in a most gruesome manner. Syedna TUS pointed out how Umara and Amr were both of a debased nature and each one sold the other in exchange for something of negligible value. 

In his fourth counsel Amirul Mumineen AS states:

Beware of befriending a liar, for he is akin to a mirage which makes what is distant appear near and what is near appear as though it is far away.

Here Mufaddal Maula TUS gave the example of Amr bin al-Aas and Abu Musa al-Ashari. Following the battle of Siffin, as a result of Muʿawiya and Amr bin al-Aas’ machinations, Amirul Mumineen AS was compelled to accept tahkim al-hakamain (a form of resolving conflict through the arbitration of two appointees, one from each of the conflicting factions). Despite his wish to appoint Maulana Abdullah bin Abbas AS, dissidents within Amirul Mumineen’s AS fold (munafiqeen), influenced by Muʿawiya, conspired against him until he accepted Abu Musa al-Ashari, their particular preference. Amr and Abu Musa spent many days together discussing matters. Amr knew that Abu Musa was against the battle of Siffeen in the first place and had a fondness for Abdullah bin Umar. He thus introduced him to the notion of nominating Abdullah for the caliphate instead of both Amirul Mumineen AS and Muʿawiya. He then added that the people of Kufa would never accept Abdullah, which would mean that Abu Musa would himself eventually become caliph for there was no better choice. Through a series of calculated steps, continually placating and manipulating Abu Musa, Amr managed to convince him to publicly declare that he was removing Amirul Mumineen AS from the caliphate and that he would then likewise remove Muʿawiya. On the day of announcing their judgement, Amr knew that it was crucial for Abu Musa to speak first. He flattered Abu Musa as was his custom, and he accepted Amr’s suggestion to precede him. Abu Musa made his proclamation against Amirul Mumineen AS , yet when it was time for Amr to speak, he reinforced Muʿawiya as ruler, betraying his word to Abu Musa. Abu Musa realised that he had been duped and the two of them resorted to name calling bringing an end to Amr’s ploy, but not without causing tremendous damage to the umma. 

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS elaborated that Amr continually lied to Abu Musa and was indeed akin to a mirage. He made the distant notion of compromise between the two warring factions seem within reach while making what was actually within reach – a judgement from the Quran – seem unattainable, arguing that doing so would not result in peace and reconciliation. 

As Imam Husain AS prepared to depart his encampment for the last time, having prayed salam upon the sayyidaat, Maulatona Zainab AS could not contain her anguish. Just as Maulatona Fatema AS has asked Rasul Allah SAW during his final moments, so did Zainab AS enquire of Imam Husain AS; ‘Who will be with us after you O Aba Abdillah?’ Hearing this heartfelt entreaty and understanding what it signified, Maulatona Sakina AS, Imam Husain’s AS beloved daughter, rushed to his side. A daughter’s marriage is an occasion of great joy for any father. Although Imam Husain AS was fortunate to witness the marriage of his beloved daughter and partake in the fleeting happiness of the occasion, he also saw her widowed and heartbroken not long after. With the utmost affection, Imam Husain AS addressed Sakina AS with his final salam. Unable to bear his departure, she flung herself at his feet and asked who would love her once he was gone, who would embrace her after him? She begged him to take her along with him and if not she prayed that she would be struck down there and then and not have to suffer his loss. Imam Husain AS wept profusely and looked to Imam Ali Zainul Abideen AS entrusting him with the care and protection of his beloved daughter. With these final words Imam Husain AS proceeded to battle.   

May Allah Taʿala bless Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin with a long life in health and happiness until the Day of Qiyamat. May his continued presence in our midst, as Rasul Allah’s true ashaab and umma, bring us manifold blessings of guidance, unity, and good.