Reflections Majlis 7

8th Muharram al-Haram

In extolling the virtues of seeking forgiveness from Mawali Kiram AS, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS referenced the following aayat shareefa:

If, then, after having sinned against themselves, they would but come round to you (Rasul Allah SAW) and ask Allah to forgive them – with the Rasul too, praying that they be forgiven – they would assuredly find that Allah is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace. 

The mercy of Rasul Allah SAW ensured that whosoever turned to him, with sincerity and purity of heart, would assuredly find Rasul Allah SAW to be forgiving and merciful. Thus, a Mumin has nothing to be fearful of. In every era, there exists the Imam who has inherited the same rahmat that belonged to Rasul Allah SAW, and during the succession this rahmat is personified in the daʿi. When a Mumin reaches out to the daʿi with purity of heart, he is blessed with forgiveness. 

Mufaddal Maula TUS then related that Maulatona Fatema’s AS conduct was such that it continues to prevent Mumineen from sin. Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA narrates that one day, Maulatona Fatema AS was sitting beside Rasul Allah SAW, when a blind man came to meet him. Syedna TUS remarked that Arabs would refer to a blind man as baseer  because it was a more delicate and less offensive way of saying blind. When the man asked permission to enter, Rasul Allah SAW invited him in. Upon seeing this Maulatona Fatema AS immediately rose and entered her chamber. Rasul Allah SAW reassured her that the reason why he had given the man permission to enter, while she was still there, was because the man was blind and would not have been able to gaze upon her. He then enquired why Maulatona Fatema AS had still decided to leave the room. She replied that even though the man was blind, he was still able to sense that there was a woman present and detect her scent. Upon hearing this, Rasul Allah SAW remarked that Fatema was his bidʿa (a term of affection referring to her as a piece of himself). 

Syedna TUS explained that Maulatona Fatema AS was infallible but she conducted herself in such a manner that she safeguarded the blind man from falling into sin as well. She instructed Mumineen on how to safeguard their modesty not only by abstaining from sin altogether, but by distancing themselves from it and by conducting themselves in a way that would not lead others to sin also. Syedna TUS counselled Muminaat to wear the rida because it protects their modesty and enables them to become like unto Awliya Allah AS. The Quran Majeed states:

Only he who follows me is truly of me. 

Today’s waʿz mubarak focused on Amirul Mumineen’s AS kalaam mubarak:

I am amazed at the one who abstains from food because of the harm it may cause him; why does he not abstain from sin when it ends in painful punishment? 

Maula al-Minaam TUS explained that a person’s investment of energy and effort is relative to the importance of the task at hand. 

When a person exerts himself for something trivial yet fails to do so for a matter of obvious greater significance, then they are clearly: ‘Penny wise, pound foolish.’ 

Syedna TUS then commended Mumineen for striving to attend the majalis of Imam Husain AS, making every small and large preparation so as to be able to partake in their barakat. He illustrated this by giving the example of clothing. Syedna TUS declared that a person who passionately considers their nightwear yet is indifferent to what he would wear in waʿz during the day is surely someone to be amazed with. He then explained that the one who takes great care of what he eats so that it does not negatively impact his health but neglects to take into account his sins, elicits the same amazement because his sins have a far more detrimental impact on both his body and his soul.     

Mufaddal Maula TUS related a narrative from Kitab al-Himma in which it becomes apparent that the punishment for a sin can arrive indirectly. A man performed hajj and while he was in the sacred precincts of the haram inappropriately touched a woman. Feeling the assault and angered by it, she prayed that the perpetrator’s hands would be cut, not knowing who he exactly was. When the man returned to Mina, a thief ran past him as he was being chased and threw his stolen goods at the man. When the townspeople arrived, they found the goods in his possession and accused him of stealing. Despite his protestations, he was convicted of theft and his hand severed as punishment. At that moment he realised that this punishment was for his earlier transgression against the woman. Syedna al-Qadi al-Nuʿman RA pointed out that difficulties always arise due to sin; it is only because of the time that lapses between the act of sin and its consequence that human beings sometimes believe they are being wrongfully punished. This man was able to connect his punishment with his sin because of the short duration between the two. 

Sustenance is important for human beings and they should be wary of what they consume. Animals are naturally cautious of what they eat, using their sense of smell to determine what is good to eat or otherwise, but humans have to be more diligent. Certain illnesses also require care over what one eats.

Doctors, dieticians and nutritionists have gone to great lengths to determine the benefits and harms of all kinds of foods. Great care is also taken to list nutrients. The consumption of food is broken down into three aspects for the maintenance of health;

  1. What to consume
  2. How to consume
  3. How much to consume

Here in the West, in America and Europe in particular, a great deal of effort and research has gone into the constituents of food. They count and list all the nutrient values on food and try to avoid artificial ingredients. Today there is a lot of emphasis on organic food and healthy foods.

Rasul Allah SAW states: ‘The king of all food is meat.’ He also states, ‘The king of all drinks is water.’ Maula TUS counselled Mumineen to habitually consume meat, because consuming it results in the growth of meat. If one does not consume meat for 40 days, his good character will be compromised.

Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS states; ‘Eating meat strengthens the faculties of hearing, seeing and other senses.’ One should always be conscious of what one eats, especially those foods that are not permissible and can lead to sin. Mumineen should always remain vigilant. Before consuming any food they should pause to deliberate whether it is permitted by the founder of shariat and whether it contains haram elements. Only that which Rasul Allah SAW has deemed permissible should be consumed and Mumineen should refrain from that which is haram. What a Mumin eats will impact him as well as his offspring, as it is aptly said, ‘You are what you eat.’

Syedna al-Minʿaam TUS then elaborated on the second factor in the consumption of food. Rasul Allah’s SAW shariat offers guidance on the manner in which food is prepared and served. Hygiene is a critical component of food preparation. Ensuring proper hygiene of the utensils and apparatus used in cooking, as well as personal hygiene is imperative. Allah Taʿala equipped us with teeth to chew and grind food and as such dental hygiene should be given due focus. Similarly Awliya Kiram AS have insisted on washing both hands before and after eating. 

The times of the day during which food is consumed is equally important. Rasul Allah SAW states that if someone takes twenty one raisins ʿala al-reeq every morning i.e before drinking or eating anything, the benefit of doing so is that one will not fall sick from any illness other than the one from which he is destined to die. Similarly, Rasul Allah SAW prescribed taking seven dates at bedtime as an antidote against colic as well as an aid in eliminating gut parasites. 

Syedna TUS also counselled Mumineen on how to eat at mealtimes. Rasul Allah SAW cautioned against relaxing against a backrest while eating as this was a manner by which despots partook in meals. Likewise, sitting cross legged is equally discouraged, as it reeks of arrogance and arrogance is sinful. When seated at the  thaal, one should be humble and respectful. Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS encouraged Mumineen to have their meals at thaals to ensure that this etiquette is preserved. 

Just as one observes the method and practices of mindful eating, Syedi Sadiqali Saheb QR emphasises the need to be attentive to one’s neighbour. Never should a Mumin be in a situation where he dines, whilst his own neighbour goes hungry. Ignoring the plight of one’s neighbour, bears a grave consequence; one’s own lineage will come to an end for he has failed to care for Allah’s family in the manner He has prescribed. 

Syedna TUS explained that one’s neighbour refers to not just those who reside in the immediate neighbourhood, but includes those who share the same faith as well as all of humanity. A neighbour is not determined by physical proximity alone, but by proximity in faith, humanity and likes and dislikes. Rasul Allah SAW states that, ‘All of Creation is a family dependent upon Allah for its sustenance therefore the one who is most beloved to Him is the one who benefits His family the most.’ From this perspective, it behoves a Mumin to be aware of the needs of others for we are all part of a larger family. 

The third factor of food consumption as listed by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, is the quantity in which one should consume food. Imam Jaʿfar al-Sadiq AS states that, ‘If people would exercise moderation in their food intake, their bodies would become healthy and robust.’ He further explained that moderation refers to a balance between overconsumption and underconsumption which are both detrimental to health. Many people are mindful of the amount of calories they consume throughout the day’s meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their intention in counting calories is to maintain bodily health and physical wellbeing and to ensure that only the required amount of calories are consumed. While this is a good practice, Maulana TUS pointed out that the more important calculation Mumineen must do, and which if they neglect may result in sin, is properly calculating the portions they order or prepare. It should never come to pass that food is wasted and thrown away because israaf (waste) is the work of satan. 

Maulana al-Minʿaam TUS then related how Imam Husain AS and Imam Ali Zainulabideen AS, who were both denied even a morsel of food for three days, clearly demonstrated all the aforementioned three factors, namely; what to consume, how to consume it and in what quantity. It is narrated that following the shahadat of Imam Husain AS in Karbala, a mark was witnessed on his blessed back. Imam Zainulabidin AS was asked about this mark and answered that Imam Husain AS used to carry a waterskin filled with food upon his back and feed those houses in Madina that were in need. Maulana TUS then poignantly remarked that this was but one mark among the countless wounds with which Imam Husain’s AS blessed body and face had been injured. 

Imam Ali Zainulabideen AS similarly tended to and nourished a hundred houses in Madina, making multiple trips to and from his own residence carrying one waterskin filled with food after the other all by himself for a period of forty years. If at times, he would be delayed, children would await his arrival with keen anticipation, asking each other, ‘Where has the mashkiwala gone?’ Syedna TUS then emphatically remarked that the blessings we receive today are the result of Imam Ali Zainulabideen’s AS mashki

With reference to the first factor; what to eat, Syedna TUS explained that Imam Zainulabideen AS distributed the food prepared in his own home, the food he and his family would consume, to those that were in need. The second factor, the manner in which he distributed the food is that he did so after praying namaaz and did not elicit the help of anyone else. Furthermore he gave it in such a way that the recipients did not even discover his identity. As for the third factor, Imam Zainulabideen AS did not feed them once, but did so every day and that too making numerous trips to and from his home for a period of forty years!

May Allah Taʿala grant our beloved Maula, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, long life and good health until Qiyamat.