Reflections Majlis 3

4th Muharram al-Haram

At the start of today’s waʿz mubarak, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS  extolled the quite remarkable humility of the Panjatan Paak SAW. Allah Taʿala directs Rasul Allah SAW in the Quran Majeed to give good tidings to the humble and he himself was humble with his own ummah and people of all other faiths. When he went out he bade salam to everyone, when visiting the homes of the Ansaar he placed his hands on the heads of their children. Maulana Ali AS, for whom Jibraeel would stand out of respect, trembled in prayer before the Almighty and ultimately laid down his head in a sajda of sacrifice for Mumineen. Maulatona Fatema AS attended to household chores and in her last moments she bathed, clothed and prepared food for her sons with her own two hands. Her shahzadas, Imams Hasan and Husain AS, would personally welcome their guests, and wash their hands before serving them meals. Referencing these acts of humility and modesty of our Hudat Kiram AS, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS described us as those who seek great stature through small tasks. 

Today’s kalaam mubarak was:

I am astonished at the one who is arrogant; yesterday he was but a drop of semen and tomorrow he will be a rotting corpse. 

Amirul Mumineen AS expresses his amazement at the arrogance that permeates through man. From ‘humble beginnings’ he ultimately  finds his end equally humbling, yet in between hubris takes hold. Man busies himself in his work, but many a time he does not heed the negative impact his actions have on others. He sees himself and what he does as more important than others. On the other hand, the truly humble person is the one who gives preference to others, seeing them as more exemplary and sincere than himself. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS referenced the following kalaam mubarak to illustrate his point:

[He considers] Every effort more sincere than his own, and every soul better than his. 

Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS related a conversation he once had with a doctor whilst in the car in Houston during Burhanuddin Maula’s RA Ashara Mubaraka. He asked the doctor whether he and another Mumin doctor were in the same line of specialisation and whether they were at par with one another. The doctor responded by saying that although they were equal from a professional standpoint, the other Mumin doctor surpassed him. Mufaddal Maula TUS enquired as to why, to which his response was, ‘He has the nazar mubarak of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.’ 

As an example of exemplary humility, Syedna TUS related the well known narrative of  Amirul Mumineen’s AS mending of Rasul Allah’s SAW sandal. As he waited, Rasul Allah SAW spoke to his companions and foretold that someone from amongst them would fulfil the obligation of fighting for the causes of the Quran’s ta’weel (esoteric meanings), as he had for the Quran’s tanzeel (exoteric meanings). Although a number of individuals arrogantly spoke up to inquire whether it was them, Rasul Allah SAW declared that the chosen individual was in fact ‘the mender of the sandal.’ Mufaddal Maula TUS then drew special attention to the fact that even when Rasul Allah SAW pointed him out, Amirul Mumineen AS  did not raise his head and instead continued humbly with mending. 

In his analysis of the kalaam mubarak, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that Amirul Mumineen AS had provided two points of references in order to illustrate his sense of astonishment with the arrogant person: his past and his future. He began as a lowly bodily fluid and although it provides a critical biological function, it is a foul-smelling impurity that requires ghusl. If a piece of cloth is touched by it and the exact spot is unknown, then it must be washed vigorously in its entirety three times, wrung out in between each instance. His future is similarly one of unpleasantness and foul odour. When the soul leaves the human body, no matter how clean and free of filth, it begins to give off a putrid odour: ‘the smell of death.’ Like all humans, the arrogant individual exists between these two states during which he is nothing more than a receptacle of waste.

Astonishment and wonder are expressed relative to the rarity of the object, phenomenon or person being observed. As an example, Mufaddal Maula TUS listed the seven natural wonders of the world: 1) the Northern Lights, 2) the Grand Canyon, 3) Paricutin, 4) Mount Everest, 5) Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, 6) Victoria Falls and 7) the Great Barrier Reef. Their extreme rarity is why they are a source of wonder for all onlookers. What then, is rare about arrogance that Amirul Mumineen AS was astonished so? Wealth, power, beauty, family, strength, knowledge and a number of other factors cause countless individuals to become arrogant. Then why the surprise and astonishment? In explaining this question, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS used the analogy of a poor individual who is indignant in receiving alms less than what he already possesses. The very little wealth this beggar has is the source of his arrogance. An arrogant pauper is indeed a rare sight and cause for surprise. Similarly, a person whose conception is from a lowly fluid and whose end is a smelling carcass has little reason to be arrogant – and therefore it surprises Amirul Mumineen AS. By looking to our past and preparing for our future, Amirul Mumineen AS has given us a solution to help avoid the pitfalls of arrogance. 

The past has an important role in determining our actions today, and our trajectory for the future. Many communities and nations try to hold a strong connection with the past by preserving their traditions, heritage and culture. Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS commended the strong sense of tradition and heritage that prevails in the United Kingdom and remarked that this preservation of the past contributed to their acceptance and respect for other cultures.

In order to give a more comprehensive understanding of how looking to one’s past and future engenders humility and does away with arrogance, and how those who refuse to do so persist with arrogance and perish in its wake, Syedna TUS related three historical narratives.

Following the passing of Rasul Allah SAW, those who usurped Amirul Mumineen’s AS throne and prevented Maulatona Fatema AS from inheriting what was rightfully hers, did so because they failed to take heed of their past and their future. Maulatona Fatema AS delivered an eloquent and powerful khutba reminding them of their prior state and what would become of them if they continued down the path of falsehood and treachery. She reminded them that before the advent of Islam, during the period known in history as the Age of Ignorance or Jahiliyya, they indulged in vice, were uncultured and ignorant. They were at the precipice of Jahannam and so vulnerable that anyone could take advantage of them. They were so despicable that the waters they drank were contaminated with animal urine and when they were overpowered by hunger they would eat anything, even raw animal hide. It was only because of Rasul Allah SAW that they were elevated and transformed. Maulatona Fatema AS then warned them of their future, admonishing them that if they abandoned Rasul Allah’s SAW deen and his Ahlebayt AS, they would undoubtedly revert to Jahiliyyah and be subjected to perdition in the hereafter.

Another example of those who similarly forgot their past and the consequences of their actions for the future is a group of dissidents during the time of al-Dai al-Fatimi Syedna Firkhan Shujauddin RA. They held the false belief that Syedna Shujauddin RA had erred and as such should be removed from his position, replaced by a subordinate. Syedna Shujauddin RA expressed amazement at the ignorance and arrogance of these people reminding them of their past pledge of obedience and the Quran Majeed’s declaration: 

‘[T]he choice is not theirs.’

Today, they seek to appoint a daʿi themselves? He censured them that if they did not heed the word of their daʿi, they would become like the Maariqeen who made a great show of engaging in prayer and worship and believed that they had removed Amirul Mumineen AS from his imamat. They lived without an imam and perished in their Jahiliyyah. 

In sharp contrast to the above narratives, is the example of Maulaya Najam Khan QR. After the passing of Syedna Firkhan Shujauddin RA, those  consumed of jealousy against Maulaya Najam Khan QR who was maʾzun at the time, made false accusations against him of having revealed the secrets of Dawat to its enemies. Consequently, in an act that was actually to elevate and purify him, Syedna Ismail Badruddin RA removed him from his rank. 

When the Hujumiyya group came to know of this they tried to incite Maulaya Najam Khan QR to abandon Syedna Badruddin RA. He instead reminded them of his past, pointing out that while Syedna RA had relieved him from the rank of maʾzun, he had graciously allowed him to remain in the circle of imaan. Had he not left him a Mumin, where would he turn to! He then explained the implications for his future, stating that if he were to join their ranks, he would forfeit the rank of imaan and become a lifeless corpse. 

Certain acts, Maula TUS explained, help engender modesty and humility, one of which is salat. The word is derived from the same root as the word tasliyat, which means to straighten wood. Just as wood, which when heated can be straightened, namaz heats the soul and allows for what has gone askew to be straightened. Salat is obligatory and Syenda al-Minʿaam TUS entreated Mumineen to remain true to the five salat of the day. The person who prays five times with the imam, every day, is a person whose testimony should be accepted and only good things are to be thought of such an individual. After narrating a most grave revelation regarding the numerous negative associations for one who abandons praying namaz, Maula TUS strongly encouraged Mumineen to pray all namaz. He said it takes perhaps one hour out of the twenty-four in the day. If missed, one should make up for it. Even the drowning man should pray – by gesture; even if bedridden one must still pray.

He spoke specifically about fajr namaz, explaining that many describe the sleep around fajr time to be most sweet. It is in fact a very bitter rest. The devil lies in wait for exactly such moments telling us to stay asleep, and the back and forth between him and our consciousness obstructs any chance of sound sleep. To have prayed and then to sleep is a truly sweet sleep – a sound sleep!

Explaining how humility and modesty enhance other positive traits, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS quoted a verse by Syedi Abdeali Imaduddin QR in praise of al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin RA

Syedna’s humbleness gives beauty to [his] loftiness. As though his loftiness is letters and his humbleness is the letter’s consonants (niqaat).

Initially, in a moment of arrogance, Hurr AS, had blocked Imam Husain AS on his way to Kufa. On the day of Ashura, however, when Imam Husain AS, delivered his final khutba and revealed the past and future, Hurr accepted humility over arrogance and chose Jannat over Jahannam. The past that Imam Husain AS had described, were the letters sent to him by the inhabitants of Kufa, and the future he forewarned of, was the Day of Judgement when he would disavow the arrogant.  When Hurr AS fell in battle, Imam Husain AS came to him and cradled his head and having accepted humility, he found salvation. In infancy his mother had named him Hurr so that he might live a life of freedom, but Imam Husain AS salvaged his eternal future by making him truly Hurr in this world and the next. Imam Husain’s AS matam and buka is the source of humility and the path to humbleness; by virtue of this buka, every aspect of our existence is enhanced. 

Recounting the shahadat, Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS informed  us that with his body riddled with wounds, Imam Husain AS alighted from his loyal steed and sat against the trunk of a date palm. Seeing him in this state, his sons Jaʿfar and his brother left the encampment and made their way towards their respected father. ʿAmr bin Saʿd saw the two brothers running towards Imam Husain AS and instructed his men to slay them. The enemies encircled them, and though they pleaded that they only wished to bid their beloved father farewell, they were slaughtered while Imam Husain AS looked on from afar. His sword as support, the distraught father stood up and carried the bodies of his two cherished young children to the side of Maulana Ali Akbar AS whom he instructed to ‘take care of them.’

Syenda Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS described humility and humbleness as the greatest of all the wondrous qualities of his respected father, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. We have the tremendous honour to witness this humility in the acts, words and countenance of his beloved shahzada and mansoos, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, every day. May Allah Taʿālā grant him a long life and good health until the Day of Qiyamat.