and how Imam Ali (a.s) is connected every step of the way

Moulud 1437 Concluding lecture delivered by Brother Bashier Rahim at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town during jumuah khutbah on 8 January 2016

By the grace of Almighty Allah, during this Rabi-ul Awwal wherein we celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad (sawa), we have managed to deliver a series of four lectures in which we analysed the Program of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (sawa) and simultaneously reflected on how Imam Ali (a.s) is linked to every major outcome of the Prophetic Mission.

And we have discussed in some detail, within the time constraints, the first three outcomes of the Prophetic Mission as described by the verses of the Quran which are:

  1. Reciting of the Ayaat or Signs or Verses of Allah to the people;
  1. The Prophet (sawa) purifying the people; and
  1. The Prophet (sawa) teaching them the Book.

And as we concluded last week, that the peak of being taught “the Book” was to gain access to the “Kitabin Maknun” as described in Surah Waqiah whereby one has access to the Eternal Divine Knowledge of Almighty Allah.

And we showed how Imam Ali (a.s), without a shadow of doubt, and the Imams after him are the ones who have knowledge of “the Book” and consequently have knowledge and access to Almighty Allah’s Eternal Divine Knowledge and that it is through them that we are shown the path of reaching perfection in our own lives and also becoming manifestations of the Beautiful Divine Names of Almighty Allah.

Now the final outcome of the Prophetic Mission is to teach people “al-Hikmah” or “the Wisdom”.

In the sequence of the program of the Prophetic Mission, it is critical to realise that every step of the program cannot be accomplished without the step prior to that being reached.

Thus purification, which is step two in the program has a prerequisite of first having ideological clarity which one achieves through step one.

And furthermore, one cannot successfully complete step two without knowledge of the matters that refine our soul, refine our heart and refine our outward actions.

And if purification does not occur at step two, then it is not possible to move to step three which is being taught “al-Kitab” or “the Book”.

If the acquisition of knowledge is not combined with purification, then instead of that knowledge becoming the gateway to higher learning which is learning “al-Kitaab”, such knowledge actually becomes a “hijabul akbar” or the biggest veil and cause of blindness in our lives.

And how many ordinary people and scholars are not inflicted with this illness of ‘hijabul akbar”?

And similarly in the process, the teaching of “Al-Hikmah” in its real sense is dependent on being taught “al-Kitaab”.

The discussion of what “al-Hikmah” means is a very elaborate one about which volumes has been written.

And like the discussion on what “al-Kitaab” means, similarly the views expressed on what “al-Hikmah” means are also numerous.

Some scholars believe that “al-Hikmah” or “the Wisdom” refers to the Quran itself and they quote certain verses to demonstrate that.

Others consider “al-Hikmah” to refer to the “Sunnah” of the Prophet (sawa) as “al-Hikmah” is often referred to in the Quran in conjunction with “al-Kitaab” and thus those scholars who consider “al-Kitaab” to be “the Quran” then believe that “al-Hikmah” must be “the Sunnah.”

But al-Hikmah is much more than this, and we say this based on reference to the Quran itself.

To start with, one of Almighty Allah’s Names and Attributes by which He introduces Himself to us in the Quran is by the very name “al-Hakim” or “the Wise.”

“then know that Allah is the Mighty, the Wise”

Almighty Allah refers to Himself as “al-Hakim” approximately one hundred times in the Quran. Because Wisdom is the quality of Allah’s knowledge of all things and how He perfectly created everything.

Our knowledge of things is often superficial, but Allah’s knowledge is absolute and perfect.

An example of this is demonstrated in a verse of the Quran which speaks about how we look at things compared to its reality. So in Surah Naml Verse 88 it says:

وَتَرَي الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي اَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

“And you see the mountains and think them firmly fixed but they shall pass away as the passing away of the cloud. It is the work of Allah Who has made everything in perfect order. Verily He is Aware of what you do.”

The way we look at things at face value is not necessarily its reality. But through “al-Hikmah” it is meant for us to see its reality and in this case the very mountains that appear firm are actually meant to pass away and are already continuously in that process of passing away.

Because Allah is “al-Hakim”, it necessitates that none of His actions are in vain and everything has a purpose and nothing repugnant/abhorrent/disgusting/objectionable can ever emanate from Almighty Allah and whatever He does is absolutely perfect.

Al-Hikmah, in it’s most sublime form is the outcome of a journey of wayfaring to Allah whereby our ego becomes “annihilated” and we survive and subsist in Allah and reach a point whereby through “ma’rifat of Allah and knowing Him” we are able to “recognize the secrets of the world of existence”!!

Surah Israa Verse 39 says something very interesting in relation to the goal of al-Hikmah:

ذَلِكَ مِمَّا أَوْحَي إِلَيْكَ رَبُّكَ مِنَ الْحِكْمَةِ وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهاً ءَاخَرَ فَتُلْقَي فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَلُوماً مَّدْحُوراً

“That (commandment) is of the Wisdom (that) your Lord has revealed to you, and do not associate with Allah any other god for you will be thrown into the Hell, blamed, cast away.”

The background to this verse is that it is preceded by a longish list of commandments and prohibitions which include issues like:

  • kindness to parents
  • taking care of those in need
  • prohibition against wasting
  • prohibition against miserliness
  • prohibition against killing
  • prohibition against committing adultery
  • management of orphans wealth
  • matters relating to business transactions
  • acting with humility
  • etc.

This list of commandments and prohibitions starts with a command to Worship Allah and not to commit any shirk in our Worship. Most people focus their lives on this aspect when it comes to their understanding of shirk that intellectually and practically in our ritual worship, we should not associate anyone with Allah and only call upon Him.

But this is followed by all of these and other commandments and prohibitions which are all said to be from the Wisdom of Allah and these commandments emanating from Allah’s Wisdom have a specific purpose of guiding one to absolute Tauheed whereby one’s ego becomes completely annihilated and thus you do not commit any shirk of the slightest or hidden form whatsoever.

If we have an atom’s weight of arrogance is in us, then we are committing a type of shirk.

If we are rude to our parents, then we are committing a type of shirk.

And so on.

So after issuing a list of commandments and prohibitions, the verse ends with a reference to the same Tauheed being the purpose of these commands which are from the Wisdom of Allah when it says:

وَلاَ تَجْعَلْ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهاً ءَاخَرَ

“and do not associate with Allah any other god”

Al-Hikmah or the Wisdom here is reaching the stage where we see with the “eyes of Allah”, we hear with the “Ears of Allah”, we speak with the “tongue of Allah” and so on.

This is because we have lost our identity and desire as the urafaa say “I desire to not desire” and thus come to a realisation that only Allah truly exists.

And that’s why Wisdom is the lost property of the believer, take it from where ever you find it, as Wisdom has no meaning without the pre-requisites of belief.

There are narrations that state that in relation to Luqman al-Hakim, the “Wise” man referred to in Surah Luqman in the Quran, that Allah Almighty enabled Luqman to choose between Prophethood and Wisdom and he (Luqman) preferred Wisdom to Prophethood.

And thus the Quran says:

وَلَقَدْ ءَاتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ

“And indeed We gave Wisdom to Luqman”

And when Luqman, the one from whose tongue Wisdom flows, advises his son, he begins with the very goal of Wisdom, and that is to achieve absolute Tauheed in our recognition and worship of Allah and the Quran thus introduces his words as saying:

وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لإِبْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لاَ تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشّـِرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ

“And (remember) when Luqman said to his son admonishing him: ‘O my son! Do not associate anyone with Allah for verily polytheism is a grievous sin’.”

And again from this we learn, just as:

  • Allah is the one who has the exclusive prerogative to purify you (as we explained in previous lectures); and
  • Allah is the one that provides access to “al-Kitaab” in its true sense by making His purification of you a pre-requisite.

On the same basis, in the final outcome of the Program of the Prophetic Mission, Allah is the one who grants Wisdom, and thus the verse says:

وَلَقَدْ ءَاتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ

“And indeed We gave Wisdom to Luqman”

It is thus understandable that the value of this Wisdom which is granted by Allah is equivalent to being granted abundant good.

يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيراً وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ

“He grants Wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been granted Wisdom, indeed has been given abundant good; yet no one will mind but the possessors of intellects.”

Again Allah re-affirms, that Allah is the one who grants Wisdom, you cannot claim it for yourself, and if you are granted Wisdom, then Allah has certainly bestowed a special favour upon you.

The Prophet (sawa) says: “I am the City of Wisdom, and Ali is its door. Whoever is the seeker of Wisdom must enter by this door.”

And thus, even in Tasawwuf, virtually 99% of the silsilahs go through Imam Ali (a.s) in its journey of wayfaring to Allah and reaching al-Hikmah where you recognize “the secrets of the world of existence”.

There is much more details to this topic, but we hope that through these lectures we have gained some appreciation for the Prophetic Mission as it provides for us the four step methodology for developing ourselves and taking people to Allah.

Second khutbah – Martyrdom of Sheikh Nimr

The process of undertaking a spiritual journey to reach Almighty Allah is a long one and urafaa or mystics who eventually reach their goal will acknowledge that it can take decades, if not a lifetime.

But there is one type of person who, instead of taking a whole lifetime to reach his goal, he simply cuts through all the veils that separate us from Allah and reaches his goal and the point of al-Hikmah within an instant. That person is the martyr who is slain in the path of Allah. Not a suicide bomber, but someone who consciously and with clear vision sacrificed his life.

And it’s perhaps a blessing indeed that this series of lectures could be concluded with an excellent contemporary practical example of someone who travelled this journey within an instant through being martyred in the path of Allah this week, and that person I refer to is off course al-Shaheed Ayatullah Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.

And I again want to appreciate the excellent and comprehensive speech of Brother Muhammad Khalid Sayed last night when he reflected on the world view of Sheikh Nimr.

Ayatullah Nimr comes from a family tradition of scholars and resistance, when his late grandfather, Sheikh Muhammad al-Nimr revolted against the Saudi regime way back in the 1920’s.

This beautiful presentation last night into the world view of Ayatullah Nimr, once again, I repeat, it once again reflects the depth and richness of the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s) wherein this scholar had a unique view for the solution to the political situation in Saudi Arabia which amalgamates the thoughts of all the top ulama and seeks to leverage the positive aspects of their different approaches.

In a world wherein the oppressed need a political alternative, the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s) has provided a success model in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and is feared to provide a real alternative in Saudi, Bahrain, Nigeria and the whole world.

It’s a source of genuine pride in a positive sense that the world is seeing the value of the intellectual legacy of the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s).

What is it like to live in Saudi Arabia?

Brothers and sisters who attend our centre but work in Saudi Arabia inform us that they cannot even click “like” on a Facebook post on Shiasm as they are warned that their internet usage is closely monitored for such activity and they will be fired and sent back home without any process being followed at all. In Saudi Arabia, action is taken on mere suspicion.

And for us who live in a country where you can say what you like most of the time and nobody will even blink an eye, it’s sometimes something difficult to comprehend what it is like to live in such a society.

I have a very small personal experience that actually gave me a window into the type of police state that Saudi Arabia is.

Years ago, during Haj, my wife and I went to Jannatul Baqi on a Thursday night to join the Iranians for the recitation of Dua Kumayl. As many of you know, the typical Iranian dress is that men wear a trousers, shirt and perhaps a formal jacket and women wear the chador.

Unbeknown to me, due to the hot weather, I was wearing a long white thawb and sitting among the Iranians. Just before Dua Kumayl commenced around 9pm the night, I was surrounded in the middle of the crowd by 3 Saudi Security Police in plain clothes (not the regular uniformed askaris) who spoke English with an Arab accent as I seemed to stand out in the crowd with my white thawb. And they demanded to see my identification and asked me why I was sitting in that crowd.

I said I am here to recite dua. They abruptly said to me I don’t belong there as that gathering is for Iranians only, and if I do not remove myself immediately, I would be in deep trouble as they would remove me.

What do you do when three evil looking police threaten a hajie in this manner who merely wants to read dua? They will simply lock you up and throw the key away.

And Sunni Capetonians who went 2 years ago to have Moulud in Medina had a worse experience when they were forcefully stopped by police. I have always thought that our Sunni Sufi brothers are passive, but on this occasion I found Sufi ulama cursing the Saudi regime in anger.

So when the Prophet (sawa) was asked: “What is the greatest Jihad?”, to which he replied that “it is to speak truth in the face of an oppressor!”, then you have an idea of what type of challenge you facing to just open your mouth in Saudi.

Let me relate the actual description of life in Saudi Arabia by Shaheed Ayatullah Nimr himself when he said in 2011:

“For the past 100 years we have been subjected to oppression. From the moment you are born you are surrounded by fear, intimidation, persecution and abuse.

We are born into an atmosphere of intimidation. We feared even the walls. Who among us is not familiar with the intimidation and injustice to which we have been subjected in this country?

I am 55 years old. From the day I was born and to this day I have never felt safe or secure in this country.

You are always being accused of something. You are always under threat.

The head of the State Security Service admitted this to me in person. He said to me when I was arrested: “All you Shia should be killed.”

That is their logic. The head of the State Security Service in the Eastern Province said so himself.

They are still plotting to carry out a massacre. They are more than welcome. We are here!

Our blood is a small price to pay in defence of our values.

We do not fear death, we long for martyrdom.”

Then in reference to the Arab Spring he says:

“A few months ago the flames of honour was sparked in the spirits of the youth. The torch of freedom was lit. The people took to the streets demanding reform, honour and freedom. They are people who have been held in prison unjustly for more than 16 years.

In addition, the Peninsula Shield Force and the Saudi army invaded Bahrain. Then there was more and more arrests. So who was it that instigated strife and unrest??

The strife and unrest in Awwamiya were instigated by the regime, not the people.

We will continue to defend the old and the new prisoners. We stand by them. We do not mind being arrested and joining them. We don’t even mind shedding our blood for their sake!

We will continue to express even stronger solidarity with Bahrain. It is our own family in Bahrain.

Even if the Saudi army and the Peninsula Shield Force had not intervened it would still have been our duty to stand by the people of Bahrain, let alone when the Saudi army takes part in the oppression, the killing, the violation of women’s honour, and the plundering of money.

(The Saudi regime says) that we are acting “at the instructions of a foreign country”. They use that false pretext. By “foreign” country they mean Iran, off course. You can’t really tell whether it is Iran, Turkey, a European country or the U.S, but they usually mean Iran.

In December 1978, there was an intifada to defend the honour of Awwamiya, when the riot police attacked the town. This was the night of 10th Muharram (laylatul Ashura) in 1978, before the Shah was deposed and before the Islamic Republic of Iran was even formed.

A group of people gathered to perform the religious rite of “taziyeh” for Imam Hussain (a.s). It had nothing to do with political or security matters, but the security forces arrived and attacked them and a confrontation ensured.

People were defending themselves, as well as their faith and honour. That night they arrested 100 people, so how can they talk about foreign interference?

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Iran has been developing its military capabilities. If you were worth your salt, develop capabilities of your own, instead of talking.

Iran is doing actual work, it has a military industry and is making progress. Instead of talking about “instructions of a foreign country”, go ahead and cut your relations with Iran.

At the end the Saudi statement read: “We will use an iron fist!” Go ahead and use your “iron fist” against that foreign country. Why are you using it against us 40 or 50 poor people?

If such a “foreign country” exists, attack the head of the snake. If you mean Iran, go ahead and attack Iran, or any other country. Let’s see your “iron fist”. It will turn out to be a “cardboard fist” in the face of that “foreign country”.

We have no ties with Iran or any other foreign country.

We are connected to our values and we will defend them, even if your media continues with its distortions.

The Saudi Army are stuck in Bahrain. They are finding it difficult to leave. They are entangled there. They haven’t accomplished their goals and they cannot leave. They are stuck and they will find themselves to be more stuck if they come here because we are in Saudi Arabia.

Not by violence, but by our determination, by our belief, and by our steadfastness shall your power be defeated.

We have determination to resist your injustice and we will not surrender.

The most you can do is kill us and we welcome martyrdom for the sake of Allah.

Life does not end when a man dies. Real life begins when he dies. Either we live on this land as free men or die and be buried in it as pious men. We have no other choice.

We submit to the authority of Allah, His Messenger and his family, and that’s it.

We do not submit to the authority of a ruler. Never.

No ruler, whoever he may be, has authority over us.

Political power does not grant a ruler legitimate authority.

The legitimacy of authority emanates from Allah.

Authority is bestowed by Allah, and he does not bestow it upon the unjust.

We are not loyal to other countries or authorities, nor are we loyal to this country.”

And so much more the Sheikh stood for, including non-sectarian approach when he says that our focus is on supporting the oppressed, no matter who they are and thus “A Sunni must not oppress a Shia, and a Shia must not oppress a Sunni.”

This speech makes you guilty of terrorism and sedition in Saudi Arabia and liable to the death penalty.

This only gives you a glimpse of life inside Saudi Arabia, but we need a much more detailed awareness campaign at every level because the time has really come for change to occur in Saudi.

When people analyse Karbala, they sometimes say “where were the Shia, why did they not arise against Yazid and leave Imam Hussain (a.s).”

Life inside Saudi Arabia where you are engulfed by the fear that is created by this police state has shown how people become anaesthetized and appear helpless, even though the tongues of their hearts are crying out for help. Ibn Ziyad created so much fear that people became helpless, it had nothing to do with their beliefs.

In this environment, the best of ulama have said that speeches can only be effective to a certain point, and then the only thing that will awaken a dead society is to sacrifice your blood.

The great Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir Sadr who was an intellectual giant in Iraq, he did it at the age of 45 when he was brutally massacred by Saddam in 1980. And exactly 23 years later on the same date of 9 April that he was martyred, Saddam’s rule was destroyed in 2003.

The amazing thing about psychopathic rulers is that they study history just like us. And forever live in fear that history will repeat itself.

In 1980, Ayatullah Baqir Sadr was martyred together with his sister Bintil Huda who was a social activist. One would think that given the status of Ayatullah Baqir Sadr, that he was more famous and influential in society and feared by Saddam.

But even though he was brutally martyred, his body was buried and there is a shrine built for him that you can visit today.

But in case of Bintil Huda, she has no grave because Saddam did not only brutally kill her, but he burnt her body beyond recognition. He was one day interviewed and asked “why he did that to Bintil Huda.”

And Saddam’s reply shakes the ground upon which we stand when he said “In history, Yazid killed Hussain, but spared the life of Zainab. And Zainab in the end lived on and destroyed Yazid. And I was not going to make the same mistake that Yazid made in respect of Bintil Huda, else she will destroy me”!!!

The Saudi regime feared Sheikh Nimr during his life, and even fear him in his death as they simply buried him in an unknown location, as they fear, that our tradition of Azaa and Ziyarat to his grave will bring more life and courage to the masses and destroy the regime.

We live in a time where you require more ingenious methods to distribute propaganda, because alternative sources of information are easily accessible.

And therefore Sayed Nasrullah has said that the response to the brutal killing of Ayatullah Nimr will be a Zainab styled response, whereby we will speak out at every opportunity and every level internationally to expose this corrupt Saudi regime for what they truly are.

And at the same time we will attack them with “arrows at night.” What are “arrows at night?” It is the arsenal of Duas that the Ahlul Bait (a.s) left us to fight oppressors.

Imam Musa Kathim (a.s) spent most of his life in prison and read Dua Jowshin al-Sageer which is a special dua for repelling your enemy.

And just like Imam Hussain (a.s) spent his last night in dua and worshipping of Allah, Ayatullah Nimr, who was a very pious man from a young age, spent 4 years in the dark prisons of Saudi, firing the arrows of the night at them and praying that his “death must never be in vain”.

And we see through the international outcry that his death has marked the countdown to the fall of the House of Saud.

Two days after Sheikh Nimr was killed, suddenly everyone is expected to take sides… you are either with Saudi and against Iran or you with Iran and against Saudi.

As Sheikh Shaheed said last night, why is there always only two choices?

So the obvious criminals of Bahrain and Qatar are with Saudi. And Kuwait are forced to be with them. And Sudan and other African countries are with them. And Palestine claims to be with Saudi! And Saudi claims that Pakistan are with them, but Pakistan say that the first time they heard about being part of a Saudi alliance was when they read it in the news.

And Turkey who envy Iran as the so-called heirs to the Safavids, are with Saudi as they dream to re-establishing the Ottoman Empire with Saudi help.

But all of this is empty drama. Someone said that the year 2016 has hardly started and the “fool of the year award” has already been issued.

With all this hype against Iran, yesterday the Saudi Prince announced that it has no intention at all to make war with Iran as that will be catastrophic for the region.

And after that sad note let me conclude on one last issue by congratulating our matriculants who have passed their exams and completed high school. You have not only made your parents proud but made this community proud of you too.

You are our future, and our success depends on you making a success of your life.

As hard as getting through high school seems to have been, your journey to acquire knowledge only really starts now. And thus as Mowlana Aftab advised this week, you are encouraged to seek higher tertiary education at any price, as you cannot place a value on it. And simultaneously it’s very important that you increase your religious knowledge in the same proportion so that you can play an active and positive role in this community Insha’allah.