IMAM HUSAYN (A.S) – HEIR OF THE PROPHETS (Analyzing the phenomenon of deviation as witnessed by the Prophets)
By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 9 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
In our series of discussions about the phenomenon of deviation in the history of Ambiya (Prophets) in the light of Quran last night, we spoke about the oppressed masses which Quran refers to as Mustad-afin. These are people who have been made weak in the earth.
Quran speaks about these masses who are subject of arrogant rulers systems who opposed Prophets’ message originally and even after accepting the message of Prophets, the same arrogant forces, with the help of the same 3 classes of society which we referred to in previous lectures – they again exploit the masses to leave the path of truth.
Thus the Quran places the responsibility for deviation on the masses as well as the 3 sectors of society referred to previously.
Quran establishes a very important principle, wherein it says:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيّـِرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّي يُغَيّـِرُوا مَا بِاَنفُسِهِمْ
“Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition.” (Surah Ra’d Verse 11)
And I quoted various verses of the Quran referring to the day of Judgement where these people who were suffering in this world will blame the oppressors, who will in turn refute this accusation saying you had free will, and then they will hide their regret!
BUT, then Quran spoke about a group of oppressed who refuse to give up. They resist fearlessly, they may be enslaved materially and politically by the arrogant powers, but they are not mentally enslaved but are actually free. Hence they don’t surrender.
For this group of people, the Quran promises victory when it says:
يَا أيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تَنْصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنْصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أقْدَامَكُمْ
“O you who believe! If you help Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm.” (Surah Muhammad Verse 7)
And Surah Qasas Verse 5 says:
وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَي الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِي الاَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِينَ
“And We have intended to bestow (Our) favour upon those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them leaders (in faith) and make them heirs.”
QURANIC ANALYSIS OF THE FALLACY OF NUMERICAL MAJORITY
In Quran this second group who resist they are very few in numbers. Therefore this issue of minority and majority emerges.
In night 1 we discussed the common question of how can majority go wrong? 110,000 sahaba were present in Ghadier wherein Prophet Muhammad (sawa) appointed his successor to be Imam Ali (a.s).
How is it possible that they all forgot? This is a serious question as the human mind may find this practically impossible.
In Karbala, the Muslim population was in millions, but nobody came to support the grandson of Rasulullah while they were reading Kalima of the same Rasulullah (testimony of belief that Muhammad (sawa) is the Servant and Messenger of Allah). How is this possible?
An analysis of the phenomenon of “majority” being used as one’s criteria from a Quran perspective is a very detailed discussion. However, I will share with you the pertinent points which assists in one’s understanding – of how the tragedy of Karbala is not an isolated incident.
PURE IS ALWAYS PURE, IRRESPECTIVE OF NUMBERS
From a Quranic perspective it is undoubtedly clear that the majority is not the criteria for something being the truth. You cannot decide that something is the truth due to the majority opinion indicating it to be so.
In Surah An’am, Verse 116 it says:
وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلاَّ الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلاَّ يَخْرُصُونَ
“And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture; and they do nothing but surmise/guess. “
And Surah Ma’ida, Verse 100 it says:
قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“Say: ‘The impure and the pure are not equal, though the abundance of impurity may dazzle/impress you. ‘So be in awe of Allah, O’ possessors of intellects, that you may be prosperous.”
Allama Tabatabai in tafsir Mizan says, that Allah has used the example of pure and impure to bring our minds to this reality that all religious laws and commands of Almighty are based upon something in the background.
So every command that requires us to do something has purity behind it as its foundation, and every command that requires us to refrain from has impurity behind it as its foundation.
Allamah then says something beautiful when he says, based on the understanding of the above mentioned verse, that pure is ALWAYS pure, irrespective of its small size or numbers, and impure will always be impure, irrespective of large size or huge numbers!!
Thus the criteria for right and wrong is indeed not “majority” or “minority”. You cannot take a vote to decide if something is good or bad!
MAJORITY IN HISTORY NEVER SUPPORTED THE TRUTH
Quran also says that the truth and reality of history is that majority never supported truth. This point is different to the above mentioned one that says you can never decide what is right and wrong by taking a vote on the matter.
Again on this issue there are numerous verses in Quran which speaks about this reality.
From the story of Prophet Nuh (a.s) wherein the Quran says in Surah Hud Verse 40:
وَمَآ ءَامَنَ مَعَهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلٌ
“But there believed not with him but a few.”
In the history of Prophet Nuh, Salih, Shuaib, Musa and other Prophets (peace on all of them), the same phenomenon exists.
In the story of Prophet Musa (a.s), we learn that very few from the people of Pharaoh accepted him and believed in his message.
And the story of Prophet Musa (a.s)’s experiences is explained the most in the Quran due to the plethora of lessons available in it for the followers of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) to learn from.
Now, in relation to those who actually were with Prophet Musa (a.s), i.e. the Children of Israeel – even after they were rescued and saved from Pharaoh – when Prophet Musa (a.s) left them for a mere 40 days under the leadership of his successor, Prophet Haroon (a.s), we find that when he returns that they request to worship a cow!
These were the same people that he had very recently saved who deviated in such a short space of time. Prophet Musa (a.s) castigates them for being fooled by a magician and abandoning his successor Haroon (a.s) during this period.
The Quran repeatedly refers to the majority being problematic.
In the story of Prophet Dawood (a.s) it says that the majority of the people are not appreciative of the bounties of Allah.
Surah Saba Verse 13 says:
اعْمَلُوا ءَالَ دَاوُدَ شُكْراً
“Exercise thanks, O family of David!”
وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ
“But few of My servants are grateful!”
And there are many verses indicating that the majority of people are ungrateful.
Furthermore, in various verses in Surah Nisa, Sura Maida, Surah Nahl, Surah Shu’araa, Surah Tawba, Surah Anfaal, etc. where the Quran says that the majority of the people are such that when something is given to them in the form of shariah, akhlaaq and in general a good message, they distort the message! I will choose one verse as an example, but the list is long.
Verse 83 of Surah Baqarah says:
وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً وَذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مِّعْرِضُونَ
“And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel (instructing): ‘You shall not worship any but Allah; and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans, and the needy, and speak kind words to people, keep up the prayer, and pay the poor-rates (zakat)’. Then you turned away, EXCEPT A FEW OF YOU, and you backslide (even now).”
This verse is saying that Allah took a “covenant” or pledge with the Children of Israeel! But after making a pledge, they turned away – except a few – while the rest were consistently running away!
In Surah A’raf Verse 131 it says:
وَلكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لاَيَعْلَمُونَ
“but most of them do not know.”
The issue of “most people don’t know” is repeated 11 times (and more in extreme form) in the Quran!
Thus the following 2 points are very clear:
– Criteria for truth is NEVER through majority vote;
– Reality in the history of Prophets is that they never enjoyed support of the majority
HISTORY OF ISLAM IS NO DIFFERENT
The history of Islam is no different!
It is not far down the line after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) that the situation changed. Thus for those who are confused or perhaps shocked and question how its possible that history took a wrong turn, they should know that it is consistent with what happened in the history of other Prophets.
It’s all a question of how you approach the issue.
Someone came to Imam Ali in the battle of Jamal (camel) asking that I am fighting on your side against these people, but I cannot convince myself that this is the right thing to do.
When I look at this army in front of us I see people like Talha and Zubayr. These are undisputed pioneers of Islam with a massive contribution to Islam. How can such people be in the oppostion camp?
On one side I have a prominent person like Ali (a.s) and on the other side there is Talha and Zubayr.
The problem is not in the question of yours, it is in the logic that you are applying.
Imam Ali (a.s) advised to never look at people to determine truth! You must first know truth to determine who are the people of truth, not the other way around.
He is saying people are not the criteria for Haqq, but Haqq itself is criteria. And this clarified this eternal psychological dilemma!
SUPPORT OF MAJORITY IS CRITICAL FOR “ESTABLISHMENT” OF TRUTH
While the majority is NEVER a criteria for determining what is the truth, they are a criteria for ESTABLISHING the truth. Understand this!!
Whenever you want to establish Haqq (Truth) you need the support of the people. You cannot impose Haqq without having their support.
Whenever Ambiya had a chance to establish a system, it was only with support of the majority. This explains democracy in Islam!
In fact, whatever system is established, whether it’s based on Truth or not, it’s due to the support of the majority.
History of Ambiya and Ahlul Bait (a.s) teaches us that to establish Haqq it can’t be through dictatorship!
Most of Ambiya could not establish Haqq because the majority did not support them.
And the same goes with most of our Imams. If people were not supporting then, it was not possible, as Quran sets out this principle of Shura and dictatorship is not accepted in Islam.
In Iran after the revolution, Imam Khomeini returned and when a new government was being established, he insisted on it being an Islamic Republic. Imam insisted that the masses be consulted before imposing Islam.
Ulama said to him “How can you ask people if you want Islam”? Of course only Islam is the right way!
But Imam Khomeini insisted that a referendum must take place. Even though millions supported the revolution and ulama interpreted that to mean that people wanted Islam, he said no, people must formally announce that they want Islam!
It’s not about whether Islam is right or wrong. but rather, it needs peoples support. After the positive referendum, now Imam Khomeini was pleased that an Islamic system could be established.
Imam Khomeini was not original in his idea but was inspired by Imam Ali (a.s) in this regard.
Imam Ali, according to what we believe, was not doubtful about his right as the leader of this Ummah. People approached him after the demise of the third khaliph to assume power and he refused and said they should look for someone else.
What does it mean if he believes he is the correct person that he says they should find someone else?
His reason for initially refusing was because he was unsure whether the people were truly with him or not. Until the situation reached the point wherein he realized that the majority was with him.
At this point, Imam Ali (a.s) thus said:
1. If it were not proven to him that he needed to stand up due to the presence of sufficient supporters;
2. the presence of the people on the ground; and
3. due to the covenant between Allah and Ulema (Scholars) that they will not remain silent while oppressors stomachs are filled while the oppressed are hungry, …..
then he would have left the “rope of governance on the back of its camel and would not have worried.”
Why did Imam Husayn (a.s) stand up? One of the main reasons to leave Makkah toward Kufa even though he knows people are not sincere was due to their claim that they are ready to fight and 60000 people signed up their support for him…. now responsibility of Imam Husayn (a.s) is to take a stance. This is one of the reasons among others that the Imam left for Kufa.
Even though the situation changed, Imam Husayn (a.s) continued travelling to Kufa because he still had his own purpose.
If Husayn was left alone it is what he inherited from Ambiya!
This we understand from the verses of Ziyarat Warith.
AHLUL BAIT (A.S) ARE THE CHOSEN MINORITY OF ALLAH’S REPRESENTATIVES
Most of our discussions so far were about Imam Husays (a.s)’s inheritance of the qualities, purpose, challenges and opposition of the Prophets.
Another very important aspect that Imam Husayn (a.s) inherited from the Prophets is that he inherited their lineage and this in itself is something critical to understand in terms of what it means.
Imam Husayn (a.s) comes from the family of Khatamul Ambiya (Seal of the Prophets).
Thus when Imam Husayn (a.s) introduces himself, he does so through his lineage. He thus says:
“I am Husayn the son of Ali
I am Husayn the son of the daughter of your Messenger!”
They come from a special lineage and have a responsibility.
Imam Husayn (a.s) is part of Ahlul Bait (a.s). This again is a quality of Ambiya (Prophets).
When Quran introduces us to Ambiya, it speaks about:
– the “Family of Ibrahim”,
– the “Family of Imraan”,
– the “Family of Ya’qub, and
– the “Family of Dawood”
And these FAMILIES were CHOSEN by Allah.
Thus by way of example we read in Surah Aali Imraan, Verse 33-34 says:
إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَى آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ
ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِن بَعْضٍ وَاللّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Verily Allah CHOSE Adam and Noah, and the progeny of Abraham and the progeny of ‘Imran above all people.”
“Some of them are offspring of the others; and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”
When we insist on the importance of Ahlul Bait (a.s), this question comes in mind. In Islam blood relationship is not important – so why do we emphasize Ahlul Bait – on this so called biological lineage?
Blood relation is not the criteria for virtue. If that is the case then it would be discrimination i.e. tribal system of Arabs which was before Islam or a system of monarchy.
So does insisting on rights of Ahlul Bait mean we are saying a tribal system exists?
This is the biggest confusion in understanding Ahlul Bait (a.s).
When we say Imam Husayn (a.s) is great it is not because he is grandson of Rasulullah!
We believe in 12 Imams which is father followed by mostly son after son…is this is a tribal system??
We do not speak about them based upon blood relationship.
If blood relationship was a criterion, then what is the fate of the Abu Lahab who is the uncle of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who is definitely in Hell as referred to in Surah Masad?
This uncle was the brother of Abdullah who was the father of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). So one person from this family is the best of creation and the other is in Hell.
When we speak about Ahlul Bait it is not about their blood relationship, but rather it is about the choice of Almighty Allah.
History of Ambiya is such that it was placed in families.
So is Nubuwat (Prophethood) like a monarchy? No, it is appointed by Allah. This is a Divine trend.
And this trend extends into the progeny of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) of who Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are from the same lineage.
When Almighty Allah appointed Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) as an Imam of the nations, he immediately enquired if the Imamate is for his offspring too!
Surah Baqarah Verse 124 says:
وَإِذِ ابْتَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا
“And (remember) when his Lord tested Abraham with words (of command) which he fulfilled. He said: ‘Verily, I am appointing you an Imam (leader) for mankind’…..”
The verse then continues with the words of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s):
“(Abraham) pleaded: ‘And of my offspring/progeny (as well)? , He, (Allah) said: ‘My covenant does not include the unjust’.”
Love of Ahlul Bait does not mean that there is competition with Sahaba! This is a often promoted fallacy.
The truth is that there is no comparison between Sahaba (companions of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
SALMAN AL-FARSI – A UNIQUE COMPANION
We have a personality in the history of Islam who is not even Arab, nor is his parents Arab or even Muslim, but he flies in spirituality.
At the battle of Khandaq, when Salman became prominent and every one wanted to claim that he was from them, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said that “Salman is from us Ahlul Bait!!
Was Salman a Sahabi or not? He was Sahabi first but was not Ahlul Bait at that point.
But Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) raised him to a different level putting him on the high status of Ahlul Bait!
There is the well known narration of Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal’s son who asked him who is the best of Sahaba.
He replied that it was Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman and then mentioned certain others.
His son then enquired “what about Ali?”….to which he replied that Ali is not a Sahabi but Ali is Aale Muhammad, whom nobody can be compared with!
There is also a Sahih hadith wherein the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) referred to the nation from which Salman comes are people who, “if religion will reach to the Milky Way they will even travel that far to achieve religion”.
In Baghdad this hadith is inscribed above the grave of Imam Abu Hanifa as he is considered a great Sheikh in Ahlul Sunnah and he was Persian.
Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas one day was arguing with Salman and it became personal. Sa’ad asked who is your mother and father in trying to tease him as Salman’s parents were not Muslim. Salman replied “I am Salman the son of Islam!
Because if I exist it’s because of Islam and I have nothing to be proud of except Islam.
Anas ibni Malik was another sahabi who reports that Angel Jibra’il came to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and informed him that he has 3 companions for whom paradise is yearning to meet.
Anas said he didn’t have courage to ask who this is referring to. This report is in Tirmidhi.
He says he went to first Khaliph and second Khaliph and narrated the same story.
He then went to Ali who said let’s go to the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) to enquire.
Imam Ali (a.s) said “If I am among the 3 then I will praise Allah. And if I am not among the 3 then I will still praise Allah.” This is the level of spirituality of Imam Ali (a.s)….completely surrendered to Allah.
So they went together to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) to enquire.
Anas says Prophet (sawa) said twice that you are on top, second is Ammar, and the third is Salman from us Ahlul Bait! And then Prophet (sawa) advised Imam Ali (a.s) to take Salman as best of his friends.
In Karbala, Imam Husayn (a.s) introduced himself as the lineage of the Prophet (sawa), not from the perspective of blood relation, but as the chosen one’s from the progeny of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s).