Jumuah khutbah delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town on 12 February 2016
Among our responsibilities and crucial duties for which we are answerable in the court of Almighty Allah (SWT) is to speak truth to power, and not to remain silent in the face of injustice.
In an authentic Hadith narration, our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) is reported to have said:
“The best of jihad is to speak truth to the oppressive ruler.”
One does not necessarily always need weapons to fight, but just to utter truth in the court of an oppressor is the pinnacle of Jihad. This hadith is regarded as authentic in both Sunni and Shia resources.
This verbal jihad should not be taken lightly. The weapon of words is extremely powerful, as it penetrates to leave a lasting effect. Physical weapons like swords only cut the body, while words cut through the personality, exposing the truth and injustice committed to the public.
Birthday of Sayyeda Zainab (SA)
This week we are celebrating the birthday of Sayyeda Zainab (SA), on 5 Jamadi-ul-Ula, and she is really the best example of the Hadith mentioned earlier. To practice and follow this Hadith requires deep courage, faith and Tawakul in Allah (SWT).
Our common superficial understanding is that a woman is weak and not courageous enough. Zainab (SA) disproved this fallacy! Zainab (SA) is not only a woman, but she is a woman under unimaginable emotional trauma. Zainab (SA) has experienced all the calamities which Ahlul Bayt (AS) endured over the years.
She has witnessed:
The loss of her mother Lady Fatima Zahra (SA)
The martyrdom of her father, Amirul Mu’mineen Imam Ali (AS)
The poisoning of her brother, Imam Hassan al-Mujtaba (AS)
Culminating in her witnessing the entire saga of the tragedy of Karbala, from the day Imam Husayn (AS) left Madina, to the day he arrived in Karbala, and what took place on the day of Ashura.
She herself lost her husband, her sons, her brothers, her nephews, her cousins, her friends and supporters. She lost everything in one afternoon.
And then the aftermath…in less than a day, she had seen the worst and most horrifying scenes of looting and robbing of the family of our Holy Prophet (SAWAS), the burning of the camps, torturing of the children, stampede of horses over the sacred bodies, separation of the heads from the bodies of the martyrs – of her own brothers, children and family.
Zainab (SA) went through this entire unbearable trauma, yet on the following day she came in Kufa, in such a difficult situation, where in front of her were the severed heads of the martyrs, and crowd which knew Zainab (SA) very well. Zainab (SA) who use to be the princess of this city, as she was the daughter of the head of the state and Amirul Mu’mineen (Imam Ali (AS)) in this city, was now brought as a prisoner of war in this city in a very humiliating manner.
Everybody in this city were staring at her. With the burden of this unimaginable trauma on her shoulders, she was still able to confront the power, speaking the truth without fear or reservation.
This jihad of Zainab is amazing, how effective it is, that when she enters the court of the despotic and merciless governor of Kufa, ibni Ziyaad, she refuses to greet him, and when she is commanded to do so by ibni Ziyaad’s soldiers, she again refuses to greet him, rejecting him outright. And when she is being insulted by ibni Ziyaad when he tells her:
“Almighty Allah (SWT) has killed your men and humiliated you people and brought you as prisoners of war”,
Zainab (SA) responds powerfully and bravely, without any fear, saying:
“Almighty Allah (SWT) honoured us with martyrdom, he never insulted us! You are the one who is humiliated, as the son of apromiscuous woman, shame and dishonor, and humiliation is for you. I swear by Allah (SWT) that all I saw through this tragedy is beauty!”
This is practical manifestation of the Hadith of Rasulullah (SAWAS) mentioned earlier, that “The best of jihad is to speak truth near the oppressive ruler.”
The next stop where we see the bravery and courage of Zainab (SA) is in Damascus, in the court of the emperor of the Arabian Peninsula, Yazid. The courtroom is completely packed, including ambassadors amongst them. Quite an extravagant setting…but nothing impresses Zainab (SA). Nothing stops Zainab (SA) from speaking truth to the power fearlessly, starting off her address with the Ayah of Azaab from the Holy Quran, and then asking Yazid:
“O son of an illegitimate, what do you think of yourself by killing Husayn ibni Ali (AS), about whom my grandfather Rasulullah (SAWAS) use to refer to Hassan (AS) and Husayn (AS) as the leaders of the youth of paradise, and Allah’s curse will be upon those who kill them?”
The Khutbah of Zainab (SA) in the court of Yazid exposed the Umayyad dynasty fearlessly, for which her courage and bravery still has its lasting effect 14 centuries later, with people like Sh Nimr following in her path.
His martyrdom is really also an example of the effect of peaceful resistance, speaking truth to power without any fear. The legacy of Sh Nimr is alive, and those who tried to remove him have failed. For a more detailed analysis of the martyrdom of Sheikh Nimr, refer to our article “Saudi Religious Dictatorship.”
Today, the criminal face of the Saudi regime is exposed more than ever before. Look at the latest trends amongst their own allies about Wahhabism. Today Washington Post, New York Times and other mainstream Western media are admitting that Wahhabism is the main cause of the current problems. Wahhabism is the most cursed ideology, which promotes hate and produces terrorism. However, it is important to note that this cursed ideology of Wahhabism is where it is today because of the staunch backing all the years by these very Western powers.
As mentioned earlier, the Hadith from Rasulullah (SAWAS) where he says:
“The best of jihad is to speak truth to the oppressive ruler.”
Speak truth to the power has certain conditions. If our Holy Prophet (SAWAS) is saying it is Jihad, then it is Ibadah, and if it is Ibadah, the intention should be purely to achieve the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT). If the motivation of speaking truth to the power is not this then it is indeed problematic, and cannot be classified as Jihad.
The State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly by the President showed us a scenario where we found a group of people stood up, wanting to disrupt the president. This is good, in its pure principle (as it refers to speaking truth to the power). However, the motivation and drive in this case is to create anarchy, and to prove that our country is a failed state, creating a picture of South Africa being ungovernable. This is indeed completely unacceptable and sends a very negative image to the whole world, from this very institution of democracy in our country.
Democracy allows one to differ and be critical, but at the same time there is a responsibility to not turn democracy into a circus. A good tradition of being critical unfortunately becomes polluted when used purely to push certain political agendas, rather than establishing truth. Creating anarchy and portraying South Africa as a failed state in the eyes of the world is not acceptable and condemned without any doubt.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the sad realities of our country, from the depressed state of our economy, to the endemic corruption from top to bottom, and naturally this frustration among the people presents itself in an ugly form and becomes a reality unfortunately. Therefore, the responsibility lies with the present leadership of this country who are not doing enough to address the problems of our country, such as corruption, where the leadership are themselves indulged.
What honour and integrity is remaining after the President admits his corruption in the highest court of the country, namely the Constitutional Court?
May Almighty Allah (SWT) guide the leadership and people of this country towards the right direction, which will conclude in prosperity, especially for those oppressed who are suffering in the most terrible manner in our country.
Anniversary of Islamic Revolution in Iran
On 11 February we witnessed the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution led by our beloved Imam Khomeini (RA). Again, the Islamic Revolution has proven that people can succeed if they want to stand independently and insist on their principles and core values, by having full faith in Almighty Allah (SWT).
The longevity of the Islamic Revolution has exceeded all expectations from skeptics and challenges from enemies, who thought it will not survive. It is still going strong through sustaining its core values and principles. The world wants to embrace Iran after sanctions have been lifted, with circa 150 foreign delegations visiting Iran thus far. Iran does not need to run after support!
This is the result of following the path of Zainab (SA), and honouring Karbala. However, this does not mean that there are no weaknesses or shortcomings. As the Islamic leadership in Iran themselves emphasise, they are still far from establishing that ideal state which Quran and Ahlul Bayt (AS) wants, but there is no doubt that Iran is moving in that direction, despite the challenges It has