Reflections: Inauguration of Burhani Masjid Leicester, UK

4th Safar al-Muzaffar 1443 H, 11th September 2021

Today marked the ʿurs mubārak of the 41st al-Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Abduttayyib Zakiuddin RA whose mausoleum is in Burhanpur and accordingly, verses from a qasīda mubāraka in his eulogy were recited at the beginning of the wʿaz mubārak.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS addressed the congregation as those who recognized both the manifest and hidden supreme bounties Allah has bestowed upon us and were grateful not only to Him but also to the Awliya Allah AS upon whose hands these bounties are received.

Huzurala TUS recited Sura al-Kawthar and then explained that the Sura was revealed when Rasul Allah’s SAW beloved son, Qasim had passed away. In this time of grief, his enemy revelled in the thought that he would be without a male heir and hence his dominion would not last. The sura gave Allah’s reply to them: Rasul Allah SAW had been granted al-kawthar (lit. abundance) whilst it was his enemy who would be heirless. It directed Rasul Allah SAW to remain engrossed in namaz and sacrifice and to pay no heed to the enemy who would be bereft of any descendants. The embodiment of al-kawthar was Maulana Ali AS, while the tears of Maulatona Fatima AS would wash away the sins of her devotees. The river of the gift of Imam Husain’s AS duʿāʾ mubārak would flow eternally in that, in his progeny, the Aimmat Tahereen AS would continually bestow upon Mumineen the gift of al-kawthar.

Syedna Saifuddin TUS then went on to explain that Maulatona al-Hurra al-Malika’s RA name, Arwa, means to quench one’s thirst. This signifies that after her, the Duat Mutlaqeen AS will continue to make the knowledge of truth flow like a river, in particular the remembrance of Imam Husain AS, by which the kawthar of the tears of lament, that vouchsafe the salvation of thousands, will forever flow, quenching the thirst of Mumineen.

The meaning of the word kawthar can also be expressed in Arabic as kathra (extreme abundance). It also means a person of generosity, a king, Islam, prophecy as well as a river in paradise. The meanings are embodied by Maulana Ali AS in that it is he who makes the rivers of paradise flow, which is an allusion to his dissemination of knowledge, abundance is found in his progeny and he is a king. Rasul Allah SAW is also blessed with abundance which is made manifest in four: Amirul Mumineen AS, Maulatona Fatema AS Imam Hasan AS and Imam Husain AS. They are the ones who have ensured that the chain of succession shall endure for all eternity.

Syedna TUS then went on to explain that kawthar not only signifies an abundance in quantity but one in esteem and rank as well. This is clearly seen in the events of Karbala where 72 were able to make a stand against many thousands. So great was their esteem that Imam Husain AS carried their bodies on his shoulders and in sacrificing themselves upon Imam Husain, AS they caused tears to flow from the eyes of all those who have come into existence and all those who are yet to come. Indeed, the amount of tears shed upon Imam Husain AS cannot be compared to any other tragedy which may have caused people to shed tears. Waves and the fish in the sea, the angels of the seven heavens, birds and animals, the leaves on trees, the pious and the immoral among men — they all weep for Imam Husain AS. Along with these tears, there are untold acts of goodness and kindness that are witnessed in remembrance of Imam Husain AS, as seen in the acts of serving water in his name or giving aid and assistance to those who travel for his ziyāra.

Kawthar is perpetuated in the progeny of Imam Husain AS. During the seclusion of the Imams, the Duat Mutlaqeen AS, who are no less in stature than the shuhadāʾ of Karbala, assume the role of safeguarding Islam and delivering the barakāt of the prophecy towards Mumineen. This is the true meaning of the generosity inherent in kawthar and is witnessed most remarkably in Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. Lauding Mumineen on their commitment to their faith and engaging in good deeds, Syedna TUS remarked that abundance can also be seen today in the physical appearance of Mumineen as well as in their deeds: the radiance on their faces, the giving of wājIbāt in such a manner that as soon as one year’s is given Mumineen immediately begin preparations for the next year’s. Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah, the memorisation of the Quran and other good deeds are done continuously as well. Numerous masjids are being built and the remembrance of Imam Husain, AS as reflected in the attendance of Mumineen during Ashara Mubaraka and ohbat, is manifold. An unparalleled demonstration of kathra was witnessed at the janāza mubāraka of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA where even those who had been distant before, made it a point to attend, simply out of their love for him.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS related that on a trip to Niagara falls, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA observed that there was an area at the bottom of the falls, where certain rocks remained dry and unaffected despite the immense force of the cascading water nearby. He then drew a parallel between this natural phenomenon and how on the day of Ashura, even though the wretched Shimr mounted Imam Husain’s AS blessed chest and was in close physical proximity to him, he was precluded from receiving the barakāt of Imam Husain’s AS final duʿāʾ mubārak, which is a surging deluge that will flow for all eternity.

Demonstrating the futility of those who try to cling to the material world, Syedna TUS employed the parable of a man who was once walking along the banks of a fast-flowing river which led to a waterfall. As he crossed the bridge leading to the opposite side of the river he saw a large and appealing fish in the waters below. Seeing the fish, which was one of the best species found in the region, the man resolved to catch it and take it home for dinner. Despite his initial apprehension, the man jumped into the river and managed to catch hold of the fish with one hand. He was so pleased with this that he failed to begin swimming back to the river bank fearing that he would lose his catch if he tried to swim and was thus swept away by the strong current. Even on the edge of a precipice leading to a deep ravine, the man refused to let go of the fish and swim to safety. Witnessing the man’s predicament, another man who laboured on the banks of the river enquired why the drowning man did not simply let go of the fish and swim ashore. The drowning man conceded that even though he had forsaken the path of safety and righteousness, his greed prevented him from letting go of his catch. Seeing this, the labourer exclaimed that the man deserved to drown for his foolishness.

Huzurala TUS then spoke about the sweetness of water, which can only be appreciated by one whose sense of taste is healthy. If one does not have zawq-e-salīm – a sound and cultured taste – he will not be able to appreciate the sweetness of water. This phenomenon is also seen in those who are unwell, as the food they consume has a bitter taste in their mouths even though the food itself is not bitter. In this context, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS recalled Rasul Allah’s SAW teaching that water should be consumed in three sips for this aids digestion, increases absorption and ensures proper hydration. Since the stomach is known to be the source of many illnesses, it is beneficial to the overall health of the body if water is sipped slowly and at intervals to aid in digestion. In addition to the preservation of bodily health, the teachings of Rasul Allah SAW also incorporate the health of the entire planet by sensitising us to care for the environment and conserving natural resources as far as possible. Syedna TUS then remarked that knowledge, which is symbolised by water as it gives life to the soul just as water gives life to the body, should also be taken in a measured and gradual manner beginning with bismillah and the razā mubārak of Wali Allah AS

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then spoke of the importance of saliva in the digestive process, that it needs to mix well with the food we consume, a process that is aided by sipping the water we drink. In each of our three sips of water we remember Imam Husain AS, just as with each sip of knowledge we remember Imam Husain AS and ultimately, if one’s taste is cultured, then he or she spontaneously exclaims, ‘Alhamdolillah!’

Harith Hamdān’s taste was so sound and cultured that even when threatened with being burnt alive for speaking of the virtues of Maulana Ali AS, he did not desist. In Maulana Ali’s AS famous verses to him he states that, ‘At the time of your thirst, I will give you such a drink that you will deem it to be honey in its sweetness.’ Harith tasted that sweetness in the most bitter of moments. When he was thrown into the flames, Amirul Mumineen AS hurried to his side and extended his hand to Harith. The flames parted as Harith took hold of Amirul Mumineen’s AS hand and he was returned to safety. The same was true of the shuhadāʾ of Karbala, even with three days of thirst their zawq-e-salīm was unimpaired – they did not abandon Imam Husain AS – until they sipped the waters of shahādat and were honoured with his dīdār.

Maulana al-Minʿām TUS recalled the life of Syedna Abduttayyib Zakiuddin RA whose ʿurs mubarak is on this day. It was he who wrote to Syedna Hibatullah al-Muʾayyid fi al-Din RA during the subterfuge of Ismail Ghawi and Majdu affirming the fundamental belief in the sanctity of the Dai Mutlaq. He stated that even if Imam al-Zaman AS himself were to appear and state that he was the imam, he would politely respond by saying that only when the dai confirms him as the imam will he perform sajda and accept him as the imam.

It is to Syedna Abduttayyib Zakiuddin RA that Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA refers in his following verse:

My father, Syedna Zakiuddin, went to Ujjain and humbled himself, (by doing so) he acquired the lofty stature of angels.

He ascended to the office of al-Dai al-Mutlaq in 1193 AH. It was his habit to pray all five namaz in the masjid. It is also said of him that his jihad was akin to that of the 13th dai (Syedna Ali Shamsuddin RA) whereas his administrative prowess was like unto the 14th (Syedna Abdul Muttalib Najmuddin RA). He introduced the dua al-taqarrub and inna Allah after fajr namaz and emphasised the importance of lāgan on the day of Ashura in remembrance of Imam Husain’s AS hunger and thirst. In Burhanpur, Syedna RA taught talabat al-ʿilm (the seekers of knowledge) at his haveli. He took ill on the day of Arafa but despite his illness he still delivered the waʿz mubarak on the day of Ashura. He ascended to his heaven abode on 4th Safar al-Muzaffar in the hours of ʿasr after having directed that his grave not be made by the side of Syedi Abdul Qadir Hakimuddin QR and that Syedi Hakimuddin’s QR ziyārat should be done prior to his own out of reverence.

Huzurala TUS then spoke of Leicester and Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s RA 17 visits to the city. He affectionately recalled how Maulana Burhanuddin RA pronounced the city’s name as ‘Lister’ and thereafter prayed for its Mumineen and their prosperity. Of the many counsels he gave, one was that Mumineen should never even contemplate suicide, as the one who commits suicide is not a Mumin. In Rasul Allah’s SAW time there was a man who claimed to be Muslim, but who Rasul Allah SAW said was destined for hell. It was then seen during one of Rasul Allah’s SAW battles that the man fought valiantly and people pointed this out to Rasul Allah SAW. Even then, Rasul Allah SAW maintained that he was of hellfire. People ultimately witnessed that when he was no longer able to bear the pain of his battle wounds, the man drew an arrow from his quiver and thrusted it into himself, thereby taking his own life. Everyone acknowledged that Rasul Allah SAW was undoubtedly true.

Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS spoke of the late Amil saheb of London, Dr Idris bhaisaheb’s dedication and years of khidmat. He had passed away that morning in London. ‘May his wish be fulfilled,’ Maulana TUS prayed.

With regards to our children and youth in particular, Huzurala TUS stressed the importance of keeping a watchful eye on them. Ideally, even if there is a certain distance to travel, he remarked that it was best for them to stay at home while pursuing higher education. However, if it is absolutely necessary for them to stay in a hostel, then their parents and loved ones should make sure that they regularly ask after them, whether they are praying namaz and consuming halal food. They should, likewise, take care that youngsters do not develop detrimental habits and practices such as smoking cigarettes and hookah. Citing the example of objects in an ascending order of their value and importance, first a handkerchief, then a watch and finally a car, Syedna TUS demonstrated how when these object are lost or misplaced they result in concern on the part of the owner and a longing to retrieve them at the earliest. He then exhorted Mumineen to contemplate what would happen if their beloved children were lost to such harmful influences.

May Allah Taʿālā grant our beloved Maula, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, good health until Qiyamat, that he may continue to quench our thirst from the sweet wellsprings of divine knowledge for generations to come.