Reflections Majlis 9/10

10th Muharram al-Haram

On the Day of Ashura, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS narrated that historic occasion when a man came to Rasul Allah SAW requesting for a child. The ocean of mercy that he is, Nabi Mohammed SAW was about to pray for him, when Jibraeel AS directed him to not to do so because having children was not in this man’s destiny. As Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS conveyed the rest of the exchange between beloved grandson and revered grandfather, he declared that the still very young Imam Husain AS gave the man seven children and in doing so safeguarded the honour of prophethood. Maulana al-Minʿam TUS followed this by stating that Allah gives every Mumin and Mumina what he or she desires — by virtue of Imam Husain’s AS intercession.

Imam Husain AS had come to the aid of his grandfather in this time of need just as his father Maulana Ali AS was ever-present in the khidmat of Rasul Allah SAW, at every battle and every critical moment in history. Maulana Ali’s AS foes often sought Maulana Ali AS out in order to face him in battle one-to-one, yet upon actually meeting him, they realised the error in their judgement and questioned why they had ever pursued an encounter in which they were now courting death. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that this regrettable confrontation is described in the Quran-e-Majeed in the Sura Aale Imraan’s following ayat shareefa:

 And verily indeed you had longed for death before you faced it. Now you have seen it with your eyes.

Maulana Ali AS eliminated his foes and similarly, he eliminated the foes and adversaries that tormented Mumineen: their temptations that swayed them from their true purpose. 

In his waʿz mubarak on the Day of Ashura prior to zawaal, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS chose to expand on the following hadith in this year’s series of ‘ajibtokalimaat, wherein Rasul Allah SAW states:

I am astonished at the one who hopes for the world (dunya), while death pursues him.

Dunya refers to the temporal world and is derived from the Arabic word for ‘closeness.’ Dunya is referred to as such because, in comparison to the Hereafter, which comes later and therefore is referred to in Arabic as akhirat which means ‘later’ or ‘last’, the material world — in a temporal sense — is closer.   Man harbours many desires that he wishes to attain in the temporal world, and often loses sight of the fact that his pursuit is ultimately in vain for one day he will perish. The proximity and presence of the material world is misleading because it obscures the ever-presence and relentless pursuit of death. 

Maulana Ali AS states:

And all that is desired is near; And death is nearer than it all.

Maulana al-Minʿam TUS related a parable to demonstrate how man relentlessly pursues worldly pleasures, even though he is aware that death is always in his pursuit. A traveller was once making his way through a deserted landscape when, all of a sudden, he was attacked by an assailant. He sought refuge in a well and as he began to descend, gripping the walls of the well, he noticed a ferocious beast at the bottom, lying in wait to devour him. At that moment, the traveller clung to a drooping tree branch to keep him from falling to the bottom. Stuck in this predicament, he noticed that two mice, one black and the other white, had begun to gnaw at the branch on which he had taken refuge. Despite the certainty and proximity of death, the traveller’s attention was caught by droplets of honey on a nearby leaf and he immediately became preoccupied with consuming them. Syedna TUS explained that the well represents the material world we live in, the branch, our time here on earth, the black and white mice, the succession of night and day and the beast at the bottom of the well, death.

Allah Taʿala states in the Quran Majeed: 

Wherever you are, death will find you, even if you are in towers built up strong and high. 

To demonstrate how there is no escaping death and that nobody knows when or where death will find them, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS related a narrative involving Nabi Sulayman AS. It was customary of Malak al-Mawt (the Angel of Death) to frequent the court of the great king Nabi Sulayman AS in the form of a strikingly handsome man. On one occasion, a vizier of Sulayman’s AS was in his presence when Malak al-Maut arrived for his customary interaction with the Nabi AS. After Malak al-Mawt’s departure, the vizier enquired as to who he was since Malak al-Mawt had given him a look of bewilderment. Sulayman AS informed him that he was in fact the Angel of Death. Startled, the vizier pleaded that Sulayman AS command the winds to carry him far away to the distant land of Hindustan. The Nabi sought to reason with his vizier, reassuring him that if providence had dictated death for the vizier, he would not be able to escape it, even by fleeing to Hindustan. The vizier, however, was adamant and as such Sulayman Nabi AS granted him his wish. When Malak al-Mawt next came to Sulayman’s AS court, the Nabi asked him why he had gazed at his vizier with such surprise. Malak al-Maut replied that he had been instructed by Allah to take possession of the vizier’s soul in the land of Hindustan and was amazed to see him still at court so far away from where his death was to meet him. When the time for the vizier’s death finally came, Malak al-Mawt found the vizier in Hindustan, just as Allah had decreed.

The ever-presence of death, Maulana al-Minam TUS highlighted, necessitated the ever-readiness for its arrival. A Mumin prepares for death with lofty intentions and correspondingly lofty action. The Dunya, whose name also refers to lowliness, attempts to debase its temporal occupants and as such, a Mumin must always occupy himself with lofty desires and actions. 

As evidence, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS cited a query once made to Rasul Allah SAW. A man asked why he was unable to love the Hereafter and long for it. Rasul Allah SAW asked him whether he had any wealth, to which he said he did. Rasul Allah SAW subsequently asked him if he had made provisions to spend that wealth for good causes. The man replied that he had not. Rasul Allah SAW pointed out that he was unable to love the Hereafter and as such, prepare for his death, because he had not spent his wealth in anticipation of the Hereafter. Man’s wealth is of lowly nature and as long as he cherishes it, the love of the hereafter and death will continue to elude him. Syedna TUS clarified that the love of death does not mean that man should actively seek death. On the contrary, it is the custom of Awliya Allah AS to pray for long lives so that they may be able to maximise their provisions for the Hereafter, which is what it means to truly embrace death and the eternal life that proceeds it. 

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS quoted Amirul Mumineen’s AS counsel to his son Imam Hasan AS in order to illustrate the relation between wealth, intent, heirs and the Hereafter. He told him to not leave any wealth behind, for doing so will result in one of the following two outcomes; either his heirs will use that wealth in Allah’s obedience and thus will gain the good fortune that he himself forwent, or they will use it in ways Allah has forbidden and thus he will have aided and enabled them in their disobedience. Maulana al-Minam TUS explained Amirul Mumineen’s AS counsel and the idea of leaving nothing behind, with the example of a Mumin who purchases a home so that he may comfortably live in it with his family, raise his children, undertake ibadat and more importantly, utilise it in service of the Dawat as well as hosting the Dai for ziyafat, thereafter instructing his heirs to continue doing the same. In such a case, the Mumin cannot be considered to have left behind something lowly. On the contrary he has left behind something increasingly lofty. Alternatively, when someone purchases a house for lowly, worldly intentions and his heirs then continue to use it for the same, such a person can be understood to have left behind dunya; something lowly and base.

Mohammed bin al-Munkadir narrates that following the demise of Imam Ali Zainul Abideen AS he did not think he would ever meet anyone quite like him until one day he met Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS. When asked to elaborate he narrated that he once saw Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS returning from one of his fields leaning on two servants, his brow dripping with sweat and his body observably fatigued from the day’s labours. Upon seeing this, he thought it wise and opportune to offer the Imam guidance on the unbecomingness of his current state.  ‘What would become of you if you were to meet your end in this state, engrossed in seeking Dunya,’ he questioned. Imam Mohammed al-Baqir AS responded saying that he would greet death while in a state of Allah’s taʿat (obedience) and worship, seeking a livelihood for himself and his family, sparing them the indignity of asking others. Taken aback by the Imam’s response, Mohammed acknowledged the truth of Imam’s words and accepted that while he had set out to offer him counsel, it was he who ended up receiving it. Syedna TUS then exclaimed that a Mumin should always hope to carry out actions in the taʿat (obedience) of Allah, His Imam and His Dai, so that when he departs this world, he is guaranteed salvation in the Hereafter.

Staying true to taʿat, (obedience of Allah and his beloved) even under the most difficult circumstances, guarantees an ascent to higher ranks and makes salvation possible. To illustrate this, Maulana al-Minam TUS related the example of what transpired during the battle of Uhud. Rasul Allah SAW had expressly directed Muslimeen to not abandon their designated posts. Yet when the foes retreated in a ploy to lure Muslimeen away from their posts, they gave into the temptation of gaining booty and abandoned Rasul Allah SAW. Only Amirul Mumineen AS remained by his side and together they both staved off the succession of oncoming enemy contingents. When the Muslimeen abandoned their posts, they did so in the hope of something base and lowly, therefore their actions were also of a similar nature. In contrast, Amirul Mumineen AS resolutely stood by Rasul Allah SAW because what he sought was loftiness and the opportunity to sacrifice himself for Nabi Mohammed SAW.

The best way to stay true to the obedience of Awliya Allah AS is by placing unwavering faith in them. In his Kitab al-Himma, Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA relates that many a time, he was instructed by the Imam AS to fulfil a task which he knew he was not well equipped to carry out but the moment he began work on it, he would find the strength to see it through in the best possible manner. At that time, he realised that whenever Awliya Allah AS intend something, Allah Taʿala sees to its fulfilment and the people who carry out those intentions are but instruments. 

Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA further relates that the Imam AS once assigned a man with an important task, which he immediately accepted and pledged to fulfil. Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA and everyone else who knew the man, were aware that the task in question far outweighed his capabilities and that he would not be able to see it through. Worried that the man assigned with the task would fall short and end up causing harm, a well-wisher approached Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA to speak to the man and share his concerns with him so that he may ask the Imam to relieve him of the task altogether. When Syedna RA met with the man and broached the topic of the assignment, the man responded by saying that when the Imam AS had assigned him the task, he too like everyone else, knew that he would not be able to do it, but nevertheless put his faith in the Imam AS and resolved to see it through as best he could. Even if the Imam AS would have handed him gold and silver asking him to fashion objects out of them (which was something he did not know how to do), he would have accepted without hesitation owing to his strong belief that Allah would aid him in fulfilling the Imam’s AS wishes. When Syedna RA saw the man’s purity of intention and certitude, he decided not to say anything further to him about recusing himself from the task. The next day, when Syedna Qadi al-Numan RA went to meet the man, he found that the man had fallen ill and that the Imam AS had assigned his task to someone else. Syedna RA knew then that because of the man’s firm belief and purity of intention, he was saved from a potentially difficult situation.

Maulana al-Minam TUS exclaimed that the man in the aforementioned narrative is a true representation of what Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin RA states: ‘Be someone whose feet are firmly planted on earth, but the head of his determination rises to the heavens.’ Even though the man knew that in reality he would not be able to fulfil the task, his faith in the Imam and his certainty in the knowledge that Allah would fulfil the Imam’s intentions, assured him of Allah’s assistance. 

Syedna TUS then shared a delicate understanding derived from Rasul Allah’s SAW hadith mubarak. The fact that Rasul Allah SAW expresses astonishment at someone who hopes for dunya tells us that in order to acquire and possess what the world has to offer, one must not only hope but pursue those hopes through earnest endeavour. Amirul Mumineen AS states: ‘A livelihood cannot be sought through hope, rather, cast your bucket (in the well) among the other buckets.’ Syedna TUS explained that for a man to draw water from a well he must cast his bucket and then expend effort in retrieving it. Merely sitting by the well in hope of water will not result in anything. 

After zohr namaz, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS began the tenth and final majlis of this year’s Ashara Mubaraka by reciting the duʿa Imam Husain prayed on the day of Ashura. He reassured Mumineen that each time they said ‘Ya Husain’, their souls were elevated. He praised them for making apparent their grief upon Imam Husain AS stating that the Anbiya, Aimmat and Duat exclaim shaabbaash upon witnessing it. He stated that his entire being prays for Mumineen that they may never forget the zikr of Imam Husain AS.  

Mualana al-Minam TUS then related that during the time of Rasul Allah SAW a severe drought once gripped the people of Madina. On the brink of death and devastation, they sought refuge in the presence of Rasul Allah SAW asking him to pray for them. Imam Husain AS who was very young at the time, was seated beside him. Rasul Allah SAW gently lifted Imam Husain AS in his arms and raised him, asking Allah to bless them with rain by the grace of his beloved grandson. No sooner had Rasul Allah SAW spoken, than the skies began to pour. Syedna TUS entreated Allah, by the grace of Rasul Allah SAW and Imam Husain AS to bless those Mumineen who are unable to shed even a tear upon Imam Husain AS, with crimson tears that pour from their eyes like rain. 

Maulana al-Minam TUS explained that a haseer, the traditional mat used by the Imams and the Dais on the Day of Ashura, was woven from dried date branches. He said that the word haseer in Arabic denotes constraint. By sitting on a haseer, the Duat allude to the immensity of Imam Husain’s AS suffering and make it apparent that no matter the effort they expend, they are constrained in their articulation of his zikr

A Mumin elicits wonder, for, upon Allah’s oath, Allah does not decree any fate for him except it will be for his good.

This  hadith mubarak differs from the previous in that neither ‘ajibto’ nor ‘aajabani’ are prefixed to it in Rasul Allah’s SAW declaration of astonishment for the Mumin. So, what has Allah Taʿala decreed for a Mumin? He has decreed, that on the day of Ashura, any Mumin with even a seed’s worth of love will, for sure, grieve upon Imam Husain AS. By way of this he will become materially and spiritually wealthy. At this point Mufaddal Maula TUS prayed the one duʿa that features so prominently in our collective memory: ‘May Allah keep you happy and joyful always, never showing you any grief except for the grief of Imam Husain AS.

May Allah Taʿala grant our beloved Maula, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, a long life in health and prosperity until Qiyamat so that he may pray this dua for all Mumineen now and forever.