Jumuah lecture on Friday 17 September 2021 (9 Safar 1443)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) commands us in verse 125 of Surah Nahl (chapter of the Holy Quran):
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ ضَلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.”
In this verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) explains to us, while addressing our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), about the major principles of Da’wah (Islamic propagation). Inviting people towards the call of God (SWT) has to operate in this framework to achieve success.
QURANIC FRAMEWORK FOR SUCCESSFUL DA’WAH
This verse explains that we should invite to the path of our Lord (SWT) with wisdom and good advice and engage with them in a manner which is best, as He knows best those who go astray and those who are guided.
In this verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) has shown us three important components when inviting people to His call (Da’wah):
- Your invitation should be based on WISDOM. This means we need to have a rational approach to inviting people to the path of God (SWT). We will therefore never be successful if our arguments are not based on logical reasoning.
- Logical and rational reasoning is not enough, as it must be coupled with GOOD ADVICE. One may rightfully wonder, what is the difference between calling people based on logic and rationality versus calling people with good advice?
The difference is that you must consider the emotional and psychological conditions of your dialogue. This means that being rational, philosophical and intellectually astute is one thing, but your presentation has to be along with the right emotional connection. To put it simply, your argument MUST be with good akhlaq (manners/etiquette).
So, you need the strong, cohesive content, but for it to be effective, your presentation must be based on good manners in order to have any sort of impact.
- INTERACTIVE ENGAGEMENT is the third element. This third aspect means that Da’wah is not simply about delivering your speech and off you go. There is rich engagement required ie. the interactive phase of Da’wah, which means that they may respond to your call, through debate or being critical of what you have presented.
This would warrant a response to their points of critique or dispute, but it must be with the best of manners. In other words, Akhlaq is crucial in your presentation as well as in your interactive engagement afterwards!
According to the Quranic perspective, these are the three strategic principles for Da’wah to be effective, and we see here that two of the three are directly connected to our Akhlaq! While it is required for your content to be robust and cohesive, it will not achieve anything unless you have good manners and behaviour. So, your approach must be ethical and respectful.
IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S) SHOWS HOW SUCCESSFUL DA’WAH IS TO BE CONDUCTED
In light of the key message we derive from this important verse of the Holy Quran, I would like to take you to an incident in the life of our 2nd Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s), who was also the first grandson of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s), whose martyrdom we commemorated on 7th Safar, was known as “Karim of Ahlul Bait (a.s)” ie. he was the manifestation of the honour, generosity and graceful spirit of the family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
There is a Hadith narrated from Rasulullah (SAWA), where he says that if intellect (aql) was in human form, then it would be his precious grandson, Hasan (a.s)!
On this note, let us study the incident I mentioned a moment ago, as there are numerous insights worth reflecting from it. It is recorded that Imam Hasan (a.s) used to live in Madina, and someone came to visit Madina from Syria, travelling on a horse. As we know from history, Syria was the base of those thirsty for the blood of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) at that time.
BEAUTIFUL INCIDENT OF IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S) DEALING WITH AGGRESSION
As this person was riding his horse through the streets of Madina, he came across Imam Hasan (a.s) who was walking through the streets at the same time. This person correctly recognized Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) as the grandson of Rasulullah (SAWA), and without even greeting, this person immediately started spewing vulgar profanities against Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s).
This was happening in the streets of Madina, the city of Rasulullah (SAWA), the grandfather of this same Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) who is being verbally abused!
It then begs the question, where did this person get the level of brazenness to abuse Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s), as it was the city of the Ahlul Bait (a.s)? He did not have the slightest fear that his deplorable behaviour in public would cause a reaction in Madina, in that people would raise their swords against him, to defend the dignity of Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s).
What is really beautiful to reflect on is how Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) responded. History recorded that Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) first responded with a smile, instead of becoming enraged! After smiling, he greeted him with the customary Islamic greeting of “Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu”.
And then, interestingly, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) says to this rude man that he thinks he must be a traveller visiting Madina. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) then says to this rude man that he may be confused, but if he wants, then he can be forgiven. Similarly, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) then says to him, that if he wants something, then they will try their best to offer help.
Then, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) explains to him, that if he wants guidance, then he will offer him guidance. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) then also offers this man that he can share some of his current burdens, and if he needs food, clothing and shelter, then he will happily arrange for that as well.
Furthermore, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) even offers this rude man, that if he has any urgent needs, then that can certainly be fulfilled as well. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) then says to this man that it is better that he comes to stay with him, as his guest, for as long as he is a visitor in Madina, since he (Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s)) is sufficiently resourced to host him.
This is the response of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) to someone who did not even greet him, but rather, instinctively resorted to swearing at him! This Syrian man was completed flabbergasted and nearly fell from his horse!
IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S) SWAYS AN ARCH-OPPONENT TO BECOMING A STAUNCH SUPPORTER
This Syrian man burst into tears and said: “I bear witness, that Allah (SWT) knows best which family to place His message (Nubuwwat)!” This Syrian man continued by declaring “I bear witness, that you are the true vicegerent (Khalifatullah) of God (SWT) on the earth.”
This Syrian goes further, by declaring “I bear witness that you (Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s)) and your father (Imam Ali (a.s)) were the most hated people in my eyes, but today, after hearing you, you are the most loved people in my eyes.”
This man then moved to the house of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) and changed from being an enemy of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) to being a lover and follower of the Ahlul Bait (a.s)!
What we can see hear is that such a simple, straightforward story has so much to ponder and reflect. Let us list a few points in this regard.
HISTORY OF DAMASCUS: HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT TOWARDS THE AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Firstly, who is this Syrian man? He is coming from Damascus, the place where the curse of Imam Ali (a.s) is officially part of the Jumuah khutbah (sermon)!
This is the same Damascus where the news of the assassination of Imam Ali (a.s), while leading Fajr in Masjid Kufa, was greeted with skepticism because they could not understand what on earth has Imam Ali (a.s) to do with the mosque! They could not believe that he was Muslim and prayed, let alone his numerous other noble virtues!
It is this same city of Damascus where all the fabricated Hadith narrations were made, to class the Ahlul Bait (a.s) in a most negative light and praise the despotic, evil Bani Umayyah. The propaganda machinery was working in full force to sway public opinion and distort truth and falsehood to be transposed.
The key point we therefore understand from this incident is that Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) does not react to this Syrian man on his low level. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) recognized that this man is unfortunately under heavy influence of propaganda. One can therefore not simply condemn him, as he is a victim of an extremely hostile environment towards the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
KEY LESSON FROM IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S): KINDNESS MELTS THE ROCK-HARD HEARTS
Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) greeted the Syrian man with salaam and addressed him with a respectful tone, calling him a respected elder. If someone addresses us as rudely as this Syrian man addressed Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s), then it would be our natural reaction to respond to the person with contempt. But this is not who Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) is!
Then, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) says to this man that he thinks he is a stranger in the city of Madina, and may be lost, as he has no family or tribal connection in Madina to support him. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) therefore pointed on a very delicate nerve, as we all know how vulnerable one feels in a foreign land trying to figure things out all on your own.
Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) also read the situation perfectly, pinpointing that this man is under such strong influence from Bani Umayyah because he does not have a base or support. Bani Umayyah are therefore exploiting this man’s position of naivety. The point that Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) is making is that such a person, who does not have a stable foundation or support system, can very easily become cannon fodder for those with devious intent like Bani Umayyah.
So, the issue is not about this man from Syria physically being in a foreign land like Madina, as a traveller. Rather, what Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) was highlighting to this man is that it seems like he does not have a support system and a strong identity to protect himself from exploitation. Therefore, Bani Umayyah’s propaganda could succeed in capturing him and enslaving his mind so strongly.
IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S) IS READY TO FORGIVE WITHOUT ANY EXPECTATIONS
Another key point to note is that even though Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) knows for sure that this man is misguided, he does not make him feel inferior. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) therefore says to him that POSSIBLY, he is in error.
This is Akhlaq and humility of Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s), despite him knowing full well that this rude man was misguided and lost morally, as displayed through his vulgar profanity directed towards Imam Hasan al Mujtaba (a.s). Yet, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) says to him that he POSSIBLY made an error!
How remarkable is it, that despite this appalling attitude of the Syrian man, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) still offers all the support and welcomes him openly!
Amazingly, again, is the fact that Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) says to this man that he will be forgiven if he wishes to be forgiven. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) positions his response like this as he does not want to patronize, by making this man think as if he is receiving a favour…
All these well-thought, delicate choice of words from Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) created a revolution in this Syrian man’s heart. This man did not wonder whether the fabricated Hadith against the Ahlul Bait (a.s) coming from Damascus is authentic or not. He simply surrendered himself completely before this Akhlaq and noble approach of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s), saying that a man with this humility and tolerance surely is the one whom Almighty Allah (SWT) has chosen to guide humanity!
GENEROSITY OF IMAM HASAN AL-MUJTABA (A.S) WAS HIS TRADEMARK THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE
This is the key hallmark and theme across the life of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s), especially since this was the period where the Islamic society started losing its moral compass very rapidly. And we see from history, that Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) responded to this with the greatest of noble, moral character.
I wish to end this first khutbah (sermon) with another beautiful anecdote. Someone came to Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s), requesting help, but read poetry as a means to express his need.
This person stated to Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) in poetic form, that he does not have anything remaining in his house to sell in order to purchase food. This person then continued by saying that it is sufficient for Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) to look at him to know full well the state of his desperate condition. He then continued with his poetry, stating that all he has remaining is his dignity and integrity, which he says cannot be sold.
This person concludes his expression of his need through poetry by stating that he has found Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) as a buyer for his honour and dignity! Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) requested that whatever cash is there should be given to this man. History has recorded that 12,000 Dirhams were handed to this person who came begging. This resulted in nothing remaining for Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) and his family to survive on!
Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) then responded to this person in a poetic form as well, stating “you rushed us, but if you had given us a chance, then we could have done much more! But take this small amount and act as if you have not sold anything, even your honour and dignity, and we have not bought anything!
This is the Akhlaq of the Karim of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s)!
INTERNATIONAL NEWS: HEZBULLAH ONCE AGAIN MAKES US ALL PROUD!
This week we saw the success of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon on a very different level. Lebanon is going through such a monumental crisis, where people simply do not have food! Schools, orphanages, hospitals are all in dire straits.
A basic necessity such as fuel has become a precious commodity due to its supply crisis. This has had disastrous impacts all round, with bakeries not even able to bake bread for the people! It is a terrible crisis ongoing for at least six months in Lebanon.
In this very desperate situation, Hezbullah and its leadership, who have always been on the frontline of fighting against the Zionists, have come to rescue the people of Lebanon in its humanitarian needs.
Now, while Hezbullah is trying its level best to rescue the people in this crisis by sourcing oil and diesel from its support base, the Islamic Republic of Iran, we see that their best intentions naturally raised tensions.
People are hungry and suffering, but there were still threats posed from inside Lebanon and external, that these oil tankers from Iran will be bombed while en-route to serve these people of Lebanon who are in dire need.
With all this, Alhamdu Lillah, we were all very pleased to see that these oil tankers arrived at the Syrian ports and were then transported fully to Lebanon.
Inside Lebanon, we again see how this Islamic resistance with its highly capable and visionary leadership of Sayyed Hasan Nasrullah continues to be a source of pride! This outstanding leader is a lion on the battlefield and most organized, very skillful inside the country in trying to deal with this crisis.
All the conspiracies failed, and we are witness to yet another victory recorded by this purified people of Hezbullah!
NATIONAL NEWS: LOCAL ELECTIONS, COVID RELIEF AND VACCINATIONS
Local elections are drawing closer, and it is incumbent upon all of us to take a keen interest in the matters affecting our society and communities, and our country at large.
We have emerged from the third wave of Covid, after paying a very hefty price, losing so many people through this wave. Alhamdu Lillah, we are grateful for some relief currently, which is an opportune time to repeat the importance of getting vaccinated once again. It is not negotiable, as we have to take care of ourselves and those around us.
We ought to really be considerate, thinking about the selfless soldiers fighting at the forefront against our common, fleetfooted enemy in Covid-19. They also have families, possibly with young kids as well. They put themselves in danger in order to serve us, the same roll that a soldier plays on battlefield!
These brave frontline workers in hospitals and elsewhere are taking the brunt, like bullets coming at them, with the strain on the healthcare system if we do not show some level of consideration by taking the necessary precautions to stay safe.
They are putting their lives on the line. Can we not simply be considerate to do whatever we can and shed a portion of the burden they are carrying, by taking the precautions, acting responsibly, and most important, to get VACCINATED!
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