Monday 25 May 2020 (1 Shawaal 1441)
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town

Assalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu

All praise belongs to Almighty Allah (SWT), our Creator, our Nourisher, our Sustainer, our Lord. We raise His glorification in this great day of Eid, by saying Allahu Akbar – Allah is the Greatest, there is no God except Allah, and He is the Greatest. All praise is due to Allah (SWT), on what He has guided us. All thanks, appreciation, gratitude belongs to Him, on what He has rewarded us and bestowed upon us.

May His choices blessings and favours be upon His most beloved servant. His best of creation, our Nabi and Rasul, the seal of the divine Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified Ahlul Bait (a.s), in particular, the Imam of our time, the leader of this world, the centre of this universe, the beating heart of this cosmos, Imam Zamaan, Hujjat ibnil Hassan, Imam al-Mahdi (atfs).

In this great auspicious day of Eid, we raise the Takbeerat and praise Almighty Allah (SWT) with the following praise:

اللَّهُ اكْبَرُ ٱللَّهُ اكْبَرُ
Allah is Great. Allah is Great.

لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ
There is no god save Allah.

وَٱللَّهُ اكْبَر ُاللَّهُ اكْبَرُ
And Allah is Great. Allah is Great.

وَلِلَّهِ ٱلْحَمْدُ
All praise be to Allah.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَانَا
All praise be to Allah for He has shown us the Right Path.

وَلَهُ ٱلشُّكْرُ عَلَىٰ مَا اوْلانَا
All thanks be to Him for that which He has conferred upon us.


We praise Almighty Allah (SWT) on this day with the above praise. All praise is due to Almighty Allah (SWT), who has guided us on the path of Islam and truth, the path of salvation and success in this world and the Hereafter. All thanks belong to Him who has bestowed upon us the best of His favours, of which this great of Ramadaan was one of them.

With His abundant mercy, He showers upon us the month of Ramadaan every year, for which we want to express our abundant thanks to Him, our Creator, our Nourisher, our Sustainer, and our Master. We thank You for allowing us to experience the sacred month of Ramadaan despite the current global challenges. Indeed, challenges are also from You, and success in these tests and calamities and trials is also from You, Almighty Allah (SWT).

This year, we were extremely concerned and stressed before the start of Ramadaan. We were unclear what would happen and how our programs of dua, congregation, recommended salaah, recitation of the Holy Quran, lectures, nights of Qadr, Iftar and so on, will survive in the current challenging conditions across the world, including our own country, city and society.

Again, I would like to say:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَانَا
All praise be to Allah for He has shown us the Right Path.

وَلَهُ ٱلشُّكْرُ عَلَىٰ مَا اوْلانَا
All thanks be to Him for that which He has conferred upon us.


With all these challenging conditions and restrictions from the lockdown, and the stress of the spread of coronavirus which is shown in the increase in infections and mortalities every day, we still express our appreciation to Almighty Allah (SWT) for granting us a beautiful Ramadaan.

We did not imagine that this lockdown and pandemic would bring such a great blessing for us in a different form. Our Ramadaan was a virtual Ramadaan, conducted in cyberspace! At the same, we all witnessed how beautiful it was.

Indeed, we missed the mosques and our Islamic centres of communal gathering. Yes, we missed meeting our brethren, sitting together for Iftar, reciting duas together, etc. No doubt, we missed this. At the same time, when we look at the other side of the spectrum, we realize that this provided us the opportunity to share the same blessings of Ramadaan with our fellow brethren from every corner of the country.

All the pockets of our community of Ahlul Bait (a.s) followers in the different corners of South Africa became part and parcel of this sharing of Ramadaan’s blessings together.

There were even times when we were privileged to share the blessings of Ramadaan with people outside the borders of our country, from countries overseas, who shared their knowledge and spirituality by watching our programs and participating along with us in these programs of great messages and blessings of the month of Ramadaan.

Therefore, there is absolutely no doubt or semblance of hesitation to say:

وَلَهُ ٱلشُّكْرُ عَلَىٰ مَا اوْلانَا
All thanks be to Him for that which He has conferred upon us.

On behalf of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Foundation of South Africa and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Mosque Complex in Cape Town, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came on board and participated in this beautiful Ramadaan program of 2020, via our Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Those who shared their knowledge, experience and those who blessed us with their participation through viewing the various programs. Special thanks also to all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to compile this diverse program and ensure that this program runs smoothly and reaches everybody. Without any doubt, 99% of our programs were successful from a technical and content standpoint.


Today, we are celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebration of our return (Eid) to our pure nature (Fitr). After one month of spiritual cleansing of our heart, mind and soul with the aid of recitation of the Holy Quran and duas, together with listening to lectures enlightened by the Holy Quran and the teachings of the purified Ahlul Bait (a.s), we tried to clean and shine this rusted, polluted heart, to take it back to its original untainted form.

We are celebrating the return of our soul to its pure nature. The message is clear – we should not allow the rust and pollution to return, after an intense 30 days of hard work in this cleansing and enlightening operation. We need to continue to strive to keep our hearts shining and enlightened, guiding and inspiring ourselves, our families, our communities and people all round.


Eid-ul-Fitr also has another very important aspect to understand the philosophy of this celebration, which is again very much connected to Fitrah (nature). The nature of Insan (human beings) is that it likes change or renewal. It gets bored and annoyed by a routine.

Change brings about fresh energy and vitality in human nature. Therefore, in the system of creation and nature (Takwini), Almighty Allah (SWT) has created the whole year in different seasons, namely Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. This change of season brings a refreshing aspect to our personality. If any season was all year round, then there would be no value for it. It is this seasonal change which brings renewed energy.

Similarly, in the legislative system (Tashri’i), Almighty Allah (SWT) has also created seasons. Again, the philosophy of this is aligned with the existential reality of human nature. So, you do certain acts of worship (Ibadah) at certain times, for certain periods, and then that season concludes.

For example, Ramadaan is the most beautiful time of the year. It is the most favourable time, filled with goodness and rich blessings. Every minute and every second of this month is filled with all that is great. However, it is available only one month in a year. If it was longer than a month, then we may react very differently to this auspicious month, as we would get bored and frustrated.

That is why there is Eid after this whole month of Ramadaan. This is natural. We have worked hard for a full month, and now it is time to celebrate. This is nature. Our soul needs renewal and freshness. The worship of Almighty Allah (SWT) does not change, but the mode of worship changes. Our relationship with Almighty Allah (SWT) does not change, but the format changes. Hence, the day of Eid is also a day of worship of Almighty Allah (SWT).


There is a beautiful Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), narrated through the chain of Ahlul Bait (a.s), where he says that for the hearts and souls, there is enthusiasm and apathy. He then explains that when our hearts and souls are in a state of eagerness, then we should do as many recommended acts of worship as we can, as this is the time when our souls are ready.

He then explains that if our hearts and souls are in a state of apathy, then we should just focus on the compulsory acts of worship, since this can never be abandoned in any condition. This demonstrates how the message and teachings of Islam are so close to the pure nature of human beings.

It is in our nature to want to celebrate, and therefore Almighty Allah (SWT) had commanded this day of Eid as a celebration after a month of spiritual training and development. However, when we celebrate in Islam, we do not do it without sharing.


We do not celebrate by forgetting those unfortunate and less privileged, who cannot celebrate and enjoy. It cannot be a real, human celebration if it is with negligence of those who are suffering.

Hence, as soon as the moon is sighted for Eid-ul-Fitr, the first mandatory action on each affording Muslim is to pay the Zakat of Fitrah. This emphasizes our responsibility to share and care in our celebration of Eid, especially for those in desperate need.

Naturally, the situation in our country is much more difficult this year compared to previous years. Therefore, this message of sharing and caring must be taken a lot more seriously than previous years.

There are far too many families who have nothing on their table to feed themselves. Joblessness and economic depression from the lockdowns have created a huge challenge in our society and country at large, for Muslims and non-Muslims.

We need to share and care for our brothers in faith and in humanity. This is the spirit of the Eid message this year – sharing and caring – and it is not confined to only paying the compulsory Zakat of Fitrah. Zakat of Fitrah is purely a reminder of the obligation on each of us to realize our responsibility for others in the society in which we live. Hence, this spirit of sharing and caring should continue, as our society and country at large is in desperate need.

I humbly appeal to all brothers and sisters around the country to please continue to support the Al Mahdi Fund, which was established by the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Foundation of South Africa (AFOSA) to reach out to families around the country impacted by COVID-19.


I want to also explain the situation of moonsighting this year, which has created Eid celebrations on two different days (Sunday 24 May and Monday 25 May), owing to the different religious verdicts and interpretations from our leading grand spiritual authorities (Maraji’) on this matter.

This difference is centred more particularly around the opinions on moonsighting of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei and Grand Ayatollah Sistani. May Almighty Allah (SWT) protect them both and prolong their lives.

It is indeed challenging, no doubt, and this is very much an internal challenge within the Shia community globally, rather than being an issue in the broader house of Islam. So, I will address the issue on this internal level.

It makes family dynamics complicated on Eid, because we cannot all celebrate Eid together, if we choose to follow Maraji’ who have different religious verdicts on moonsighting criteria.


It is now a good time for us to reflect on the main reason for this challenge, which is that we do not have direct access to the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (atfs). We live in the period of his occultation currently. This is the disadvantage we have, unfortunately.

Challenges like these, which we face directly, amongst others, pushes us to make a sincere dua (supplication) for that day of his return to arrive sooner, Insha Allah. This is when the flag of true Islam and justice will permeate, and all this diversity of religious interpretations will no longer be there.

In the nights of Ramadaan, we read that most beautiful Dua Iftitah, from which the following excerpt highlights our plea to Almighty Allah (SWT) for the return of Imam Mahdi (atfs):

اَللَّهُمَّ اظْهِرْ بِهِ دِينَكَ وَسُنَّةَ نَبِيِّكَ
O Allah, (please) make prevalent Your religion and the norms of Your Prophet through him

حَتَّىٰ لاَ يَسْتَخْفِيَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ ٱلْحَقِّ
so that he will not have to hide any item of truth

مَخَافَةَ احَدٍ مِنَ ٱلْخَلْقِ
for fear of any of the creatures.

This is our plea, for Almighty Allah (SWT) to make His religion of True Islam to be so clear through Imam Mahdi (atfs), such that nothing from the truth is hidden out of fear of anyone.

Our current reality, of which Eid is on different days, is our disadvantage when we do not have direct access to our living Imam (atfs). We depend on the legacy left behind by the Ahlul Bait (a.s) to derive solutions, and to come up with an opinion according to the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) is based PURELY upon the Holy Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah, as explained by the Ahlul Bait (a.s).


Naturally, we can have differences in understanding, when trying to interpret these two pristine sources of jurisprudence and derive an opinion. This difference of interpretation is very good on the one hand, like Ramadaan under pandemic being a beautiful experience this year!

We all know that Ramadaan in the pandemic has a whole host of challenges, but at the same time, we experienced its unique blessings too. Similarly, we do not have access to our living Imam Mahdi (atfs) during his occultation, for him to give the final verdict where there is no dispute. At the same time, it allows for the evolution of thought and the progression of research, and this diversity of approaches is beautiful.

This is the beauty of the school of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), where the opinion of the Mujtahid is purely based on the Holy Quran and Prophetic Sunnah, explained through the teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). The understanding and interpretation of this can be different, for which moonsighting is one example.


There is a Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) where he says that we should start fasting when the moon is sighted and end our fast when the moon is sighted. Now, what is the meaning of moonsighting?

On the one hand, we have the opinion which is restricted to naked eye sighting, rendering any other way of sighting the moon to be insufficient in satisfying moonsighting criteria. On the other, we have the diverse opinion which states that sighting is a method to find the moon, and therefore, sighting by optical aid (eg. telescope) is also credible evidence for having found the moon.

Then there are also diverse opinions on which cities you can accept their moonsighting to be binding on you. Then there are also diverse opinions on this as it pertains to cities which share the night with you being acceptable evidence if they sighted the moon.

This is the richness and beauty of the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) and Ijtihad, in understanding the extremely rich legacy left by our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) and the other Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s).

Yes, it makes family dynamics awkward, but we also make it an issue beyond what it is. In countries like Iran and Iraq, people follow different Maraji’ and these situations pop up there too. However, what permeates is mutual respect. These differences in opinion does not imply disunity, unless we allow our enemies to exploit this.


Unity goes way beyond a difference in opinion on moonsighting for Eid. Unity is about standing together to fulfil our obligations which Islam has commanded. This is where we need unity. For the liberation of Quds, and the liberation of all oppressed around the world, unity is required!

So then, when we look at this bigger picture, then who cares if Eid is today or tomorrow? It does not make us disunited purely by having Eid on two different dates. Unity is not uniformity. This is never going to happen! Sunnis are not going to become Shia all of a sudden, and similarly, Shia are not going to become Sunni. Nor are they going to become uniform as Sushi Muslims! This is not realistic!

Unity is about accepting and accommodating differences of opinion and approaches. It is about respecting and coming along, even if I do not agree with your choice.

We should therefore not become distracted by these unnecessary discussions. We respect all our religious authorities and scholars, who dedicate their whole life to understand the Holy Quran and Prophetic Sunnah, in light of the teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).

There are times when they would spend months, and maybe years, to understand one verse of the Holy Quran, or to get an understanding of one Hadith recorded by the Imams of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). This takes a great deal of hard work and we are supposed to show our respect to their expertise and dedication to understand these matters. Therefore, we follow what they say, especially in the details of the religious matters.

Once again, I thank you all for a most beautiful month of Ramadaan and congratulate all of you and your families in the South African Muslim community on this auspicious day of Eid-ul-Fitr. May Almighty Allah (SWT) make this occasion a blessed one for the whole Ummah (nation) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

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