by: Sister Nur Rahim
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
الْحَمْدُ لٍله رَبِّ الْعَالَمٍيْن
وَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَى سَيَّدِنَا مُحَمَّدِِ وَ آلِهِ الطَّاهِرِيْن
السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يا أَبا عَبْدِ الله
وَعَلى الأَرْوَاحِ الَّتِيْ حَلَّتْ بِفِنَائِكَ
عَلَيْكَ مِنِّيْ سَلَامُ اللهِ أَبَداً
مابَقِيْتُ وَبَقِيَ اللَيْلُ وَالنَّهارُ
وَلا جَعَلَهُ الله آخِرَ العَهْدِ مِنِّي لِزِيَارَتِكُمْ
السَّلامُ عَلَى الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى أَوْلادِ الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى أَصْحَابِ الْحُسَيْنِ
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
To my dear respected listeners and welcome once again to the program KARBALA LADIES FORUM on AFOSA’s Facebook page
May Almighty Allah accept our efforts thus far in this month of Muharram in trying to keep the memory of the tragedy of Karbala alive which we are doing this year for a second year in a row under very challenging circumstances due to the covid pandemic.
However, we have tried hard to keep our online programs going and have benefited greatly from a variety of highly educated scholars and individuals who have inspired us through their very interesting perspectives.
In sharing a few thoughts with you today in this Ladies program, I would like to latch on to the first point that Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider mentioned in his speech on the opening night of our Majaalis this year when he said that Imam Husayn (a.s) started his journey by linking it to verses of the Quran which relate to Prophet Musa (a.s).
MISSION OF PROPHET MUSA (A.S) STARTS WITH DUA
And so for today, I would like to start on a similar note about another verse in the Quran relating to Prophet Musa (a.s).
In Surah Taha Verse 24 we read about the appointment of Prophet Musa (a.s) into his actual mission when Almighty Allah instructs him as follows:
اِذْهَبْ إِلَي فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَى
“Go to Pharaoh! Verily he has transgressed (the bounds).”
Prophet Musa (a.s) was very aware about who Phirown was and how evil he was as he had grown up in his house.
So in responding to starting a mission that was going to be one long, hard struggle, Prophet Musa (a.s) is said to have responded to Almighty Allah through a dua and many of us are perhaps familiar with the words of this dua which are found in verse 25 onwards of Surah Taha which says:
قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِيْ صَدْرِيْ
وَيَسّـِرْ لِيْ أَمْرِيْ
وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِن لِسَانِيْ
“(Musa) said: ‘My Lord! Expand me my breast!”
“And make easy for me my task,”
“And loose a knot from my tongue,”
“(That) they may understand my saying.”
Prophet Musa (a.s) knew that he had to face someone who was considered by others to be the most powerful person in the world at the time and he could never accomplish this mission on his own.
So from the very start he focussed on his connection to Almighty Allah by making this dua.
And then the dua goes further by asking for Prophet Haroon (a.s) to be appointed as his assistant and partner in his mission.
And he further states in his dua to Almighty Allah that the purpose of his mission and struggle is:
كَيْ نُسَبّـِحَكَ كَثِيْراً
“So that we glorify You much,”
“And remember You abundantly”
In other words the struggle or Jihad of Prophet Musa (a.s) started with Dua or connection to Almighty Allah and it had a goal to conclude with society jointly being connected to Almighty Allah through Tasbeeh of Allah and Thikr of Allah and thus he says:
“So that WE glorify or make abundant tasbeeh of You”
“And WE remember You or make thikr of you abundantly”.
MISSION OF PROPHET MUSA (A.S) IS SUSTAINED THROUGH CONNECTION TO ALLAH
In different parts of the struggle of Prophet Musa (a.s), whether it was against Phirown or even after liberation from Phirown in his struggle against his own people who turned back to worshipping the calf, Prophet Musa (a.s) is quoted to have made certain duas to remain connected to Almighty Allah.
Interestingly when Prophet Musa (a.s) had to receive the Torah from Almighty Allah through which he had to continue his struggle to guide the Bani Israeel, the Quran says that Almighty Allah called him for private communication for 40 nights.
Of course, he spent the days as well which are connected to the 40 nights but the Quran emphasizes that he spent 40 nights in communication and connection with Almighty Allah.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ACTS OF WORSHIP & JIHAD
The question that comes to mind is what is the relationship between Dua, thikr, recitation of Quran, nawafil prayers and so on with Jihad in the form of struggle for your religion and in particular in the battlefield like what happened in Karbala on the Day of Ashura or any other physical battle?
And the answer is that there is a very close relationship in that these acts of worship and Jihad are inter-related.
Before one is ready and able to participate in Jihad, one needs some prior spiritual development and preparation if you are ever going to be successful in your Jihad. And by success I don’t mean winning the battle on the day as you may be martyred but still successful.
The issue is that our personal connection to Almighty Allah must be established to some extent prior to actual Jihad.
If that is the case, then you are guaranteed success either way.
You may ask what does this personal connection with Almighty Allah accomplish?
One can give a very elaborate answer to this question, but I will only quote for you a famous Hadith Qudsi which is a Hadith wherein the words are also attributed to Almighty Allah.
This Hadith is called the Hadith of Qurbun Nawafil which quotes Almighty Allah saying:
“None of My servants can seek proximity to Me by that which is dearer to Me than things that I have made obligatory on him. Then, with the performance of nawafil (the recommended acts), he continuously attains proximity to Me, so that I love him. When I love him, I will be the ear with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees, and the hand with which he strikes. If he calls Me, I will answer his call, and if he makes a request, I will grant it.”
This Hadith is saying many things.
Firstly, one cannot achieve closeness to Almighty Allah before we observe all obligatory acts and refrain from any sin.
Secondly, we need to observe various recommended acts to take that closeness to Almighty Allah further forward in leaps and bounds. These recommended acts are many, but the major ones are Salatul Layl which again is an issue related to coming close to Almighty Allah at night.
And the other recommended acts would be dua and reciting Quran and making thikr and so on.
Why is this an important prerequisite before one’s actual battle in the battlefield?
Because through these acts the so-called Eye of Allah becomes the eye with which you see, and the so-called hand of Allah becomes the hand with which you strike.
This explains how virtually every martyr in Karbala is reported to have killed dozens of the opposition before being martyred themselves.
It’s because their hand was the Hand of Allah that was doing the striking!
EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUALLY PREPARED CONTEMPORARY PERSONALITIES
In our own history we have beautiful examples of martyrs who understood this.
There is an interesting narration about an incident relating to Shaheed Ayatullah Mutahhari before the Iranian Revolution. It is said that he attended a political meeting wherein they were discussing the future potential Revolution and reached a certain point in discussing a particular document.
After a while the time became a bit late at night and so Ayatullah Mutahhari decided to excuse himself from the meeting.
But other people around him became rather upset and said they at such an important point in their discussions and he could not leave at that stage.
But for Ayatullah Mutahhari, those discussions could continue the next day and the Revolution could occur sometime in the future, but if he missed Salatul Layl for that night then that opportunity would never return and would be lost forever!
Of course, this same outstanding aalim was martyred soon after the Revolution.
And there are many examples in history that one can refer to.
EVENING OF ASHURA IS SPENT IN ACTS OF WORSHIP
So we see that on a night like tomorrow night which is the evening of Ashura that Imam Husayn (a.s) does something that the opposition simply don’t understand.
On the afternoon of the 9th of Muharram, the army of Umar ibn Sa’d came to attack Imam Husayn (a.s). At this point he sent his Brother Abbas to say the following to to the opposition:
“Go and tell them if you can, to delay it (that is the battle) until tomorrow, so that tonight we may worship our Lord and supplicate and re¬pent, for Allah knows that I befriend Prayers, reading the Qur’an, supplicating abundantly and praying for forgiveness.”
Tomorrow night, when we remember Imam Husayn (a.s) we should also remember this aspect, that is that the night of Ashura was an opportunity for strengthening that connection with Almighty Allah through these acts of worship.
On this night we narrate the tragedy and we perform maatam and express our grief and these are among the purest acts of worship.
But let this night not go by without engaging in the acts that Imam Husayn (a.s) and his followers were engaging.
On this night it is narrated that after Imam Husayn (a.s) made final preparations, he returned back to his tent and spent the entire night in Prayers, supplications and repentance to Allah and his companions followed his example and started dua and acts of worship.
It is narrated that the voices of their supplication sounded like the humming of the bees!
They were engrossed in Rukoo and Sujood and Qiyaam and so on.
AFTER KARBALA, MAJAALIS & ZIYARAH AS ACTS OF WORSHIP
After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s) when the consciousness of the Muslim Ummah was very low, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) again used these acts of worship, especially Dua to struggle to reawaken the Ummah.
However, we have one unique blessing after Karbala that we benefit from.
And that is in establishing our connection with Almighty Allah, we have an additional act of Ibadah or worship available to us that is considered among the strongest and most powerful means to connect to Almighty Allah and that is to have Majaalis of Imam Husayn (a.s) and to recite his Ziyarah.
The overwhelming number of Ahadith in this connection makes us convincingly conclude that Majaalis of Imam Husayn (a.s) and his Ziyarah in Karbala itself and from far as well have immense spiritual value.
The aspect of our daily prayers through which we come closest to Almighty Allah is through sajda or prostration which is done a minimum of 34 times a day in our 17 rakaats of salaah. And if one does the recommended nawafil, then you perform sajda over 100 times in one day.
All of this to get closer to Almighty Allah.
In Surah Alaq we learn about the impact of Sajda which is captured in the last verse of the Surah.
For the purposes of this presentation I will not recite the last verse of Surah Alaq as that will require us to perform a compulsory sajda, but let me just indicate that the meaning of the verse informs us that through this act of prostration one achieves more closeness to Almighty Allah.
At the same time, we see that in all the Ziyarah of all the Infallibles, that Ziyarah Ashura of Imam Husayn (a.s) includes a part at the end wherein we perform sajda to come closer to Almighty Allah.
And compared to other Ziyarah and Duas, in this Ziyarah Ashura we do not ask Almighty Allah for mundane things relating to our daily needs but ask for sublime things like Marifat of Imam Husayn (a.s) and his Awliyaa and reaching the Praiseworthy station of Maqaaman Mahmooda in the next world.
HOW LONG SHOULD WE HAVE MAJAALIS?
There is an interesting and perhaps important question that some people ask regarding holding Majlis for Imam Husayn (a.s) and that is how long we should have Majlis during the year.
And this question seems to have different replies which may be linked to people’s Ma’rifah of Imam Husayn (a.s).
At minimum one should at least take a moment on the Day of Ashura to remember Imam Husayn (a.s). That is the very least. Unfortunately, some people don’t even do this!
Then on a second level one should set aside the whole day of Ashura for no other purpose except dedicating it to remember Imam Husayn (a.s) besides performing our obligatory acts like salaah and so on.
On a third level one should dedicate at least the first 10 days of Muharram or first 12 days of Muharram for this purpose as we find narrations which state that the Imams were in a state of sadness during this time.
On a fourth level you have people who dedicate mourning ceremonies for Imam Husayn (a.s) until Arba-een which makes it one month and twenty days in total from the beginning of Muharram.
Then on a fifth level you have people who extend this mourning period until the 8th of Rabiul Awwal which marks the martyrdom anniversary of the 11th Imam Hassan Askari (a.s).
And then you get people that uphold some form of remembrance of Imam Husayn (a.s) every day of the year!
IS MAJLIS 365 DAYS A YEAR EXTREME?
Is holding Majaalis 365 days a year extreme?
Again, it depends on your Marifah of Imam Husayn (a.s).
Great scholars start their day after Fajr each day with a short Majlis of Imam Husayn (a.s)
Some ulama start their classes in the Hawza each day with a short Majlis.
It is narrated that Ayatullah Behjat once said to one of the students in the Hawza that he does not see a particular Nur on his face that he would regularly see. What did he do to cause that Nur to go away?
So the student confessed that he did not read Ziyarah Ashura on that day.
We see in our narrations that Ziyarah and Remembrance of Imam Husayn (a.s) is particularly and specifically recommended for every major occasion.
- from Thursday nights
- to the Night of Qadr
- to the birth and martyrdoms of the other Infallibles
- to the Day of Arafah
- to Days of various Eids including Ghadier and Mubahila and Mab’ath and so on.
When we read the Ziyarah Naahiya of our own Imam Mahdi (a.s) to determine how long we should keep Majaalis of Imam Husayn (a.s) then this question is clarified when he says:
“I will, therefore, lament you morning and evening, and will weep blood in place of tears, out of my anguish for you and my sorrow for all that befell you”.
This is how often our Imam Mahdi (a.s) is remembering Imam Husayn (a.s). Morning and evening!
Morning and evening can refer to 2 times a day or it can refer to all the time!
ALLAMAH QAZI TABATABAI AND RECITAL OF ZIYARAH ASHURA
So I conclude with the message that remembrance of Imam Husayn (a.s) and recital of his Ziyarah should form part of our daily lives.
Great spiritual people all recite Ziyarah Ashura every day of their lives.
In line with what I just quoted from Imam Mahdi (a.s), there is a fascinating story of a dream that Ayatullah Behjat once had.
It is narrated that he said that one night after Allamah Qazi Tabatabai had passed away, Ayatullah Behjat dreamt of him.
Bear in mind that Ayatullah Behjat was a student of this great mystic Allamah Qazi.
So, in the dream he asks Allamah Qazi – who was someone who reached unparalleled levels of spirituality – he asks him a very interesting question and that is:
“Is there anything that you regret that you did not do while you lived in this world!”
And Allamah Qazi Tabatabai replied:
“I regret that I did not read Ziyarah Ashura twice a day instead of only having done it once a day!”
Where are we?
And where are those who truly understand Karbala?!
May Almighty Allah accept our humble effort, and may we be inspired to achieve closeness to Almighty Allah through remembrance of Imam Husayn (a.s) and may this remembrance further inspire us to diligently perform more sincere acts of worship In-sha’allah.
السَّلامُ عَلَى الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى أَوْلادِ الْحُسَيْنِ
وَعَلَى أَصْحَابِ الْحُسَيْنِ
والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
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