Jumuah lecture on Friday 7 June 2019 (3 Shawwal 1440)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
One of the aspects of Taqwa according to the Holy Quran is how we react and respond to certain things in our life, our society and community. It is a detailed discussion. Taqwa or piety reflects in our actions and interaction with people, with phenomena and even with history.
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 32 of Surah Hajj (chapter 22 of the Holy Quran):
ذَٰلِكَ وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ
“Such is the fact that whoever venerates, glorifies and pays respect to the sanctity of all that has been ordained as symbols of Allah (SWT), surely does so because it is part of the true piety of the hearts.”
In other words, how we respond and show respect to the signs of Allah (SWT) is an indication of Taqwa in our hearts. The reality and truth of Taqwa is basically in our hearts, even though it appears in the form of actions, in how we interact with our parents, family, community and different classes in society. This is the driving force behind Taqwa.
This particular issue which is regarded in the Holy Quran as a reflection of Taqwa is worded in the above verse as “sha-a-ir-allah”. What is “sha-a-ir-allah”? “Sha-a-ir” is the plural of “Sha-i-rah”, which means symbol/logo ie. you remember what the symbol is representative of.
THE ESSENCE OF SYMBOLISM IN INCREASING TAQWA
Symbolism is indeed a very important subject to delve into as it is crucial to understand how certain things are symbolic of certain other things. Symbols do not appear to be of great importance to us, because they are just symbols. However, the reality which they represent is important, far beyond just the symbols or logo.
Now, the logic of the Holy Quran in the above verse is contrary, as it states that symbols are itself also crucial. Veneration and glorification and respect of those symbols are emphasized as important in this verse. Whoever is humble before these symbols are people of Taqwa.
This is a very important in the Holy Quran. As noted a moment ago, “Sha-a-ir” means symbols and “sha-a-ir-allah” means anything which reminds us of Almighty Allah (SWT) and takes us towards Him.
SYMBOLS OF ALLAH (SWT) IN HAJJ
It is noted from the Holy Quran that it more particularly refers to “sha-a-ir” in the context of Hajj, as the symbols of Allah (SWT). An example is verse 158 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2), which refers to Safa and Marwa being signs of Almighty Allah (SWT):
إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ
“Surely the Safa and the Marwa are among the signs appointed by Allah”
In addition, those animals which are taken for Qurbaani during the Hajj are symbols of Allah (SWT). Other examples are Maqami Ibrahim, Hajrul Aswat, Hajri Ismail, Masharul Haraam, Arafah, Mina, as these places are all symbols of remembrance of Almighty Allah (SWT).
Now, the logic and approach of the Holy Quran is that by showing respect to these signs of Almighty Allah (SWT) is like showing respect to Him directly. Otherwise, they are just animals like any other. However, the Holy Quran regards these animals we sacrifice as “sha-a-ir-allah”.
There was one extreme way of thinking in the early days of Islam, that these animals we sacrifice should remain untouched. For example, we should not ride on the camel that we intend for Qurbaani, or take any benefit from these specific animals.
Then, there was the opposite extreme, where these animals were not treated with any dignity and respect. Against this backdrop, we see Islam introducing a very balanced approach, stating that there is no harm in benefitting from these animals, but at the same they should remain unharmed. We should not take them for granted, as they are “sha-a-ir-allah”.
SAFA AND MARWA ARE SIGNS OF TAQWA BEYOND RITUALISTIC VALUE
The discussion in verse 158 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran) is very interesting, where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَنْ يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا ۚ وَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Surely the Safa and the Marwa are among the signs appointed by Allah; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on him if he goes round them both; and whoever does good spontaneously, then surely Allah is Grateful, Knowing.”
Let me give you the background here. In the pre-Islamic, Jahiliyyah era (era of ignorance), the Quraysh placed 2 big idols at the top of Safa and Marwa respectively. They would then run between these 2 points and then reach the top of Safa and Marwa to kiss these 2 idols. Naturally, this is Shirk, and totally not acceptable.
Now, after the advent of Islam, there were people who were very hesitant, thinking that running between Safa and Marwa resembles the Shirk practiced in the Jahiliyya era.
What the Holy Quran is saying is that if someone is using this practice for the wrong purpose, it does not justify that you should abandon if it is done for the correct purpose. So, Safa and Marwa should not be abandoned on the basis of Jahiliyya customs being practiced their, which involved idol-worshipping.
Almighty Allah (SWT) knows our intentions – that we are not running there to worship the 2 idols. He knows that we are running there because they are “sha-a-ir-allah” ie. they remind us of that great sacrifice made by Lady Hajar, the wife of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s). Safa and Marwa remind us of the ultimate trust she placed in Almighty Allah (SWT). This is why they are “sha-a-ir-allah”.
SYMBOLS PRESENT TAQWA IN A PALATABLE WAY
Let me harp a bit more on why these symbols are important and should be respected. You see, you cannot always explain everything convincingly in the form of lectures or philosophy to a common man. Sometimes, some practical lessons open the mind and bring one closer to the concept much better than any traditional forms of teaching.
One can be taught the philosophy of Safa and Marwa, and about the trust and sacrifice of Hajar in Almighty Allah (SWT) and so on and so forth. However, this is very different from running between Safa and Marwa, and learning the lessons of Hajar in a practical way. This is something else!
When we go to Mecca, and get taste the Zamzam, and go near the Maqami Ibrahim, and stand near the Hajrul Aswat, or stand at the semi-circle known as the Hajri Ismail, or when you go to Arafat and pelt the 3 pillars at Mina, these are all symbolic, but these symbols takes one back into history, onto the footsteps of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s) and Nabi Ismail (a.s) and others who stood there for Tauheed.
THE INTRODUCTION OF WAHHABISM TO DAMAGE ISLAM’S IMAGE
Respecting these symbols is not making them the deity. This is not Shirk. Instead, respecting these symbols means we are committing ourselves to what these symbols represent, which is Tauheed.
Unfortunately, a particular trend of thinking appeared in the history of Islam, which brought a very dry, rigid, anti-rational approach to oppose this symbolism and confuse people by saying that respecting symbols and historical places is Shirk, because one is supposedly worshiping them!
Of course, they could not target symbols such as Safa and Marwa and other important symbols of Hajj with their dogma, because these have clear Quranic verses.
What these people with their warped understanding cannot comprehend is that anything which is a sign of Almighty Allah (SWT) and reminds us of Him and reminds us of the people who stood for Tauheed, and reminds us of their sacrifices, is indeed Taqwa when such symbols are venerated.
So this trend of thinking started, which aim is to fight those who respect the signs of Almighty Allah (SWT) and the symbols of history of Islam and Tauheed. Unfortunately, they went the route of violence in their rigid, anti-rational, and uncivilized approach, by destroying history under the banner of Tauheed.
Amazing is verse 158 of Surah Baqarah, cited earlier, which says that people were confused even during the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), where there were idols on Safa and Marwa. They were confused on whether running between Safa and Marwa constituted Shirk as a result of these idols positioned on these 2 mountains.
The Holy Quran clarifies that there is no sin, as a wrong practice at a right place does not justify one to abandon something which is right.
THE DESTRUCTION OF JANNATUL BAQI SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN
This particular approach, which we know today by the name of Wahhabism, expanded in the 19th century and reached the point where they destroyed anything which symbolizes the history of Islam.
They destroyed Jannatul Baqi in the early 19th century and any symbol of historical significance in the land of the Haramain. The Ottomans rebuilt it when they took over, but then in 1925 it was destroyed again when the Wahhabis took over and bulldozed these structures to level grounds, based on the fatwas of their so-called Muftis!
Jannatul Baqi, this most important graveyard of the history of Islam, was completely levelled to the ground.
Uthman ibn Maz’oon was a great companion of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and he is the first person to be buried here.
This is also the graveyard where Rasulullah (SAWA) buried his son Ibrahim. It is also the graveyard where thousands of Sahaba are buried. Furthermore, it is also the graveyard where the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are buried. It is also the graveyard where the wives of Rasulullah (SAWA) are buried. This is also the graveyard where the martyrs of Uhud are buried, and the leading scholars of early Islam.
In fact, this was a graveyard even before the advent of Islam!
This gives one an appreciation of the expansive and rich heritage associated with Jannatul Baqi, which they completely desecrated. This graveyard was leveled to the ground on 8 Shawwal, and that is why we remember this tragic day of the demolition of Jannatul Baqi. Yes, this was the day of the demolition of Islamic history, under the name of Tauheed and combatting Shirk!
What Shirk, while they are in the service of Shirk today? They destroyed the history of Islam and the symbols of those great personalities who stood for Tauheed, and promoted Tauheed.
EVOLUTION OF WAHHABISM INTO INTERNAL CONFLICT
This rigid, extremist, irrational approach has provided the foundation for this dynasty and system ruling over the land of the Haramain for more than 100 years now. What disasters this system has created and continues to do so for Islam and the Muslims and for humanity is innumerable.
They are themselves accepting today, that this particular approach and thinking has created terrorism. They are admitting that this particular line of thinking is the brains trust of terrorism and organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are born from this wicked ideology. They came into power with the help, support and foundation of this approach but today they want to now say that they don’t want to accept.
They are clearly not sincere. Their modus operandi may have changed, but their basic fibre is identical. One of the major fibres of this approach, from the day it was initiated by ibn Abdul Wahab and his subsequent ideologues like ibn Taymiyyah and others, was to divide the Ummah.
Their terrible curse of Takfir, and declaring people to be out of the fold of Islam, and categorization of anything which they do not agree with as a deviant innovation (bidah) has been the biggest damage, wherein their absolutist approach where they believe that only those who follow their dogma are the only real Muslims on the earth.
This approach is still there, and they apply this to both Sunni and Shia. You must believe in their version of Islam, otherwise you are the outcast. This approach is still there, where they divide the Ummah into sects and declare people to be out of the fold of Islam, and that they should be killed. They execute people on any excuse, and wipe out any form of disagreement. This was their approach from day 1 and continues until today.
HYPOCRISY OF WAHHABISM GIVES UNLIMITED AUTHORITY TO THE RULER
Today, in the same circle of their own thought, they continue to propagate their very rigid, radical extremist approach, enforcing their dogmatic understanding of Islam as the one legitimate approach to Islam. The only exception is the ruler! He can do as he pleases and make Haraam to be Halaal and vice versa. So, everything which they enforce on everyone else is suspended when it comes to the king. The king overrides Sharia, Quran and Hadith!
Naturally, this extremist approach produced people from within their own camp who do not agree with this principle of submitting to the ruler unconditionally. This is where we find people who came up with a critical approach, from the same extremist thinking, to destroy the kingdom, even though they come from the same ideological position.
This is the dilemma. Now, even in the first instance, where they accept the authority of the ruler and surrender to that, we find there were those who surrender to extreme levels, that if the ruler declares that the moon was sighted, while there was no remote possibility of sighting the moon, then it is compulsory for the next day to be Eid! Why? Because the king said so!
Submission also has levels, and has made them blind in their submission to the ruler!
INTERNAL RESISTANCE TO THE RULER’S UNLIMITED AUTHORITY
Now, as I said, in the same circle who had reservations about this approach, and said that enough is enough, protesting that this unconditional surrender and obedience to power also has a limit! So, what we find here and there is that one or two words of criticism get uttered, which results in their heads being severed from their bodies!
So, it is not only those people who disagree with their ideology of Wahhabism who are victims of their wrath. Indeed, those who are on the opposing side are victims, like we saw before Ramadaan where they executed 37 of them, and continued this killing spree in Ramadaan.
Then, we now see their new level of shameless behaviour, where they arrested a boy when he was 12 years old while riding on his bicycle with his friends, and shouted that they want basic rights in their country. He is now 18 years old and they want to now execute him!
The disaster of this Wahhabi ideology is endless! There are 3 very senior clerics of the same Wahhabi ideology who are also on the line of execution, because they did not tow that line of unconditional surrender and submission to the power!
They will be wiped out, like Jamal Khashoggi! He was not at all an opponent, or a revolutionary by any means. He just started presenting a small critique and that was the end of him.
What is the problem with these 3 clerics? I believe that one of them presented reservations about Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Israel. The other one said that Saudi Arabia should not fight with Qatar. This is more than enough for them to be executed!
SAUDI ARABIA’S BRAZEN RUTHLESSNESS CONTINUES
What this Saudi regime has created in Yemen is heartbreaking. They did not have mercy on the poor people of Yemen, even on Eid day! They bombarded hospitals, where innocent women and children were once again the victim. However, what is abundantly clear is that they cannot defeat these barefoot people of Yemen.
These people are isolated and have absolutely nothing. Nobody can even get access to them to help them. Despite this, these people of Yemen are establishing victories, whereby they were able to attack all the way into Saudi Arabia and continue to challenge.
So, it begs the question, what has Saudi Arabia and their alliances achieved after 4 years of devastation inflicted on the people of Yemen? Quite clearly, they have achieved nothing! They still cannot defeat these hungry, barefoot people of Yemen, who are surviving on bushes and leaves!
We should also not lose sight of their influence in our own continent, particularly in Sudan. The military of Sudan have mercilessly killed more than 100 people over the past few days. Again, very clear indications are there, of the interference and support of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt in Sudan, suppressing their demand for basic rights. This is consistent with the trend of their influence in Algeria, Libya, Nigeria…all on our continent of Africa.
We see that in the last week of Ramadaan, Saudi Arabia gathered the Arab countries and the Muslim world, and hosted a summit in the holiest of places, namely Mecca. This was governmental and non-governmental. In fact, Ulama from South Africa were also present!
What was the purpose of this get together? The outcome was that they declared that there is only one enemy of Islam and the Muslim world, and that is the Islamic Republic of Iran! This is the level they have stooped to!
Soon, there will be a conference in Bahrain, with open participation from representatives and delegates of the Zionist regime.
Let us pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant this Ummah the vision and success against its enemies.