Jumuah speech delivered by Hajj Bashier Rahim on Friday 4 February 2022 at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid Complex in Ottery, Cape Town.
We are in the month of Rajab wherein Almighty Allah’s blessing is pouring down upon us. Our sincere prayer is that we are able to benefit from these blessings and have capacity to receive them and be grateful for them.
After all the opening sentence of the recommended dua to be recited after every wajib salaah in this month states is about having hope:
يَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِكُلِّ خَيْرٍ،
“O He in Whom alone I hope for all good things”
My speech today however is prompted by the need to also admonish each other to beware of slipping into an opposite condition during this month and always for that matter.
And it is more specifically prompted by a particular experience that a teacher at a high school recently had in his class when he was teaching and asked the class a question.
After asking the question he wanted to prompt a specific student to answer the question and so he said “can the young lady at the back please answer the question?”
He had no response as the young lady remained silent.
Why was she silent? Was it because she did not know the answer?
So the teacher repeated by looking directly at her and saying “can the young lady at the back please answer the question?”.
And in response the young lady said something along the lines of “sir, I am not gender binary”.
What does that mean??
You see the teacher identified her by calling her young lady and she had an issue with being called lady!
So being gender non binary means that she should not be addressed as a young lady as she is not distinctly female or distinctly male for that matter.
Therefore the person is gender neutral.
And there has been a proliferation and explosion of different pronouns that was until very recently completely unheard of.
You are now supposed to know that so and so is not a he or a she but should be called something neutral like ze!
Or so and so is not a him or her but should be called something neutral like zir!
Or so and so is not a his or hers but should be called something neutral like zirs!
And to entrench this new system further, the learners are permitted to wear so called “pronoun badges” so that others can know what you want to be known as so that you are not offended!
OUR SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE OF IBLIS – THE HEAD SATAN
I don’t want to for a moment discount the reality that some people are naturally born with medical issues that brings about this uncertainty and discomfort. They are catered for in our religious texts and our ulama even have views which allow procedures like sex changes in certain cases and so on.
But what we see prevalent today is something much more than that and possibly having little relation to medical issues.
I don’t want to pass a judgment on such people but want to step back and ask a very pertinent underlying question and that is:
“How deep do we understand the being called Iblis who is the head of all satans and how well do we understand the strategies employed by him and his troops in his fight against us”.
Interestingly, Allamah Tabatabai makes quite a blunt sweeping criticism of past scholars in this regard by saying that scholars throughout history have portrayed a very superficial understanding of satan and have limited their discussion to very superficial questions.
He then lists some of these questions that are discussed like:
- Why did Allah create Iblīs to begin with, even though He knew who this creature is [and will be]?
- Why did Allah join Iblīs with the Angels, even though he was not one of them?
- Why did Allah order Iblīs to prostrate, even though He knew that he would not comply?
- Why did Allah not force him to prostrate, but instead led him astray?
And the list continues along these lines and types of questions about Iblis that was historically discussed.
So Allamah Tabatabai then rather goes into a fresh detailed discussion from a philosophical perspective about this amazing creature called Iblis that has been around for thousands of years and is so closely connected to all human beings in this life and will be around until the end of time and will continue to be connected to some human beings in the next world.
UNDERSTANDING SATAN’S OVERALL GOAL
From this long discussion, I just wanted to reflect a little on Allamah’s discussion of Verse 17 of Surah A’raf.
The earlier verses in this Surah refer to Iblis’s refusal to prostrate before Prophet Adam (a.s) and his illogical argument that he presented to rationalize his disobedience after which he is cursed by Almighty Allah.
That much most of us are familiar with.
Thereafter he seeks permission until the end of time to try to misguide most human beings.
Note that in this regard he identifies upfront that there is a sector of human beings that he would not be able to misguide.
So firstly lets see verse 16 which is linked to verse 17. So verse 16 of Surah A’raf says:
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
“He (Satan) said: ‘Since You have caused me to be in error, I will certainly lay waiting for (deceiving) them in Your Straight Path’.”
Just imagine for a moment that Allah cursed someone and the person then asked Almighty Allah for respite and some time until the Day of Judgement. What would a rational being do with this respite and extra chance?
A rational being will try his best to make up for his misdemeanors and reverse the curse to try to get back under the shade of Mercy of Allah and achieve his pleasure.
After all in Dua Kumayl we read:
يا سريع الرضا
“O He whose pleasure is quickly achieved!”
But that’s not what Iblis does with the respite that’s granted to him. He rather uses it to get himself further cursed by wanting to cause as many human beings as possible to be disobedient to Almighty Allah.
Secondly Iblis employs the blame game by blaming Almighty Allah for misguiding him whereas he chose to be misguided. It is typical of sinners to shift blame instead of taking responsibility and making amends.
Thirdly he says that he lies in wait to for the people that are on the Straight Path to deceive and misguide them.
Who are these people?
All human beings are initially on the Straight Path as everyone within his nature recognizes Allah and the need to be obedient to him.
From this natural position of obedience to Allah, now the overall goal is to misguide them and then the broad details of his strategy is disclosed about how he is going to misguide.
BROAD DETAILS OF SATAN’S STRATEGY
Before I read this verse 17 of Surah A’raf, it’s also interesting to know that when we come up for battling our enemies, we usually have little information about their strategy and always are guessing about what to expect.
But in the case of Iblis, he is completely open about his broad strategy.
So verse 17 of Surah A’raf says:
ثُمَّ لآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَآئِلِهِمْ وَلاَ تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
“Then I will certainly come upon them from the front, and from behind them, and from their right and from their left; and You will not find most of them thankful.”
As Allamah Tabatabai says, this Straight Path that satan is lying in ambush for us is not a physical path but a Spiritual Path. And therefore these 4 sides from which he attacks us is not physical sides but spiritual sides.
So the front side from which satan attacks us relates to our future matters like our future hopes and desires and our fears that we want to avoid like becoming poor due to spending in Allah’s path or losing our social honour due to taking a certain path of truth that society does not recognize.
The rear or back side from which satan attacks us relates to our dreams of living forever through our children and we put all our effort into accumulating wealth from any source whether halaal or haraam so that we can live forever through our descendants.
The right side from which satan attacks us relates to our religion and creating doubt in it.
And the left side relates to beautifying indecency and sin.
These are the broad details of satan’s strategy. Although we don’t know the finer details of how he goes about to achieve this, Allamah Tabatabai says that we can at least infer two important points from verses of the Quran and that is:
- firstly satan works hard on making human beings perverted; and
- secondly he works hard on messing up our mental faculty through which we recognize truth and achieve yaqeen or certainty.
DOUBT IS A COMMON THREAD IN SATAN’S STRATEGY
If we look closer at satan’s attack from the front and back and left and right side, we see that DOUBT is a powerful weapon that he uses.
We doubt that Allah will provide for us in the future and thus we are gripped by the fear of poverty.
We doubt that Allah will care for our children and thus we strive to accumulate wealth for them at any cost.
We doubt in matters of religion from multiple levels.
In Aqeedah people have doubt regarding existence of Allah because science presents questions that they supposedly can’t answer.
People raise doubts about Prophethood of Muhammad (sawa) by playing around with verses of the Quran and making them appear contradictory.
People raise doubt about the Imamate of Imam Ali (a.s) through satanic styled analogies.
In Fiq satan causes doubt by satanic whispers when we pray and forever become unsure of whether I am in the third or fourth rakaat. Or we forever doubt whether water that we use is pure or najis. And so on.
In human relations satan causes mayhem by raising doubts in our minds about others instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt and having an overall good opinion of them.
It seems the attack from the right is most vicious.
But the attack from the left is also through doubt when we think it’s not that bad to commit sin and it’s fine to sin now as we will repent later.
This attack from the left destroys our sense of morality and makes us perverted and makes us doubt everything including our very personal pronoun – being uncertain of whether I am a he or a she and choosing to rather be a ze!
DOUBT CAN BE GOOD WHEN COMBINED WITH SINCERITY & GRATITUDE
One should ask the question: is doubt a bad thing?
And the answer is that doubt in itself is not necessarily bad.
Doubt has been the source of discovery of many new inventions and progress.
Doubt can result in clarifying many religious uncertainties to strengthen your belief and make you a better human being.
However the doubt we concered about is the one that is of a satanic nature.
From the verses that outline satan’s goal and strategy we learn that there seems to be two sets of people upon whom satan has no control.
From verse 17 of Surah A’raf it appears to be those who are Shaakireen or grateful/thankful and in other places in Quran we read that he has no control over those who are Mukhlaseen or deeply sincere.
So doubt needs to be accompanied by these two criteria so that it is not satanic – our doubts must be sincere and within the realms of being grateful.
Such doubts won’t last forever and actually will bring certainty and is good.
FORGETTING ALLAH RESULTS IN FORGETTING OURSELVES & VICE VERSA
In the famous hadith of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) we read:
من عرف نفسه فقد عرف ربه
“He who knows himself certainly knows his Lord”.
In the famous Verse 19 of Surah Hashr we read:
وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ
“And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget their own souls”
From this verse and hadith we learn that when we forget Allah, the outcome is that we eventually forget ourselves and don’t even know who or what we are.
And vice versa is also true that when we do not know who we are, we won’t know who Allah is.
The effort of satan is for us not to even know ourselves…. thus we will not know our Lord.
DOUBT IS A DISEASE OF THE HEART
Ulama like Shaheed Ayatullah Dastghaib Shirazi say that doubt is a serious disease of the heart.
Anyone who is sincere in their search and have a nature of being grateful will conclude that Allah exists and is our Lord. That’s because the dozens, if not hundreds and thousands, or actually infinite number of signs that we are exposed to leads us to the same conclusion.
Thus the Quran challenges us regarding doubt when it says in Surah Ibrahim Verse 10:
أَفِي اللهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ
“Is there doubt about Allah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth?”
The very purpose of our creation is to worship Allah so that we can have sound knowledge of Almighty Allah and not to be in a state of doubt.
In fact worship with doubt has very little value!!
HOW TO DISPEL DOUBTS
There’s many pieces of advice that can be sourced on how to get rid of doubts like always seeking refuge in Allah from satan and reciting Surahs of protection like Surah al-Naas etc. but I will only quote one specific piece of advice for you from Imam Ali (a.s) wherein he says:
الإمامُ عليٌّ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): بتَكَرُّرِ الفِكرِ يَنجابُ الشَّكُّ
“Doubts are dispelled through repetition of one’s thought processes” (from Mizanul Hikmah of Ayatullah Reyshari)
Just from this saying we must appreciate the importance of madressa!!
Here in madressa we train you and refine your thought process to get a variety of proofs on Aqeedah to deepen your understanding thereof and the various other necessary Islamic subjects like Fiq, History and Akhlaq.
We really don’t always appreciate this point…. to have revision and repeat discussions as it removes layers of doubt from our minds to bring Yaqeen. So I repeat these golden words of Imam Ali (a.s):
“Doubts are dispelled through repetition of one’s thought processes”.
SAD DEMISE OF AYATULLAH SAFI GOLPAYGANI
Let me end by briefly referring to three current matters.
Firstly we witnessed the passing away of the Grand Marja Ayatullah Safi Golpaygani. We issued a more formal statement in this regard and had a special program last night in this mosque and another special program is being held in Johannesburg tonight that will be broadcast online.
We sincerely pray that Almighty Allah receives him into His Infinite Mercy and grant him an Elevated status in Jannah close to the Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
On the topic of doubt, our scholars are our guardians to overcome doubt and their loss is a blow for us that satan enjoys. One of the doubts that Ayatullah Safi dispelled so eloquently is his detailed books on Imam Mahdi (a.s) which is available in English which is a matter that we Shia are forever confronted with and around whom many doubts are propogated.
BIRTH OF 5TH IMAM BAQIR (A.S) & MARTYRDOM OF 10TH IMAM ALI AL-NAQI (A.S)
Secondly during this week on 1st Rajab we commemorated the birth of 5th Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) and tomorrow the 3rd of Rajab we remember the demise of the 10th Imam Ali al-Naqi (a.s) who is buried in Samarra in Iraq.
While Imam Baqir (a.s) is most famous for splitting open the Islamic Sciences for us, we are perhaps less familiar with 10th Imam al-Naqi (a.s) whose life was spent substantially removed from his followers which entrenched the need for having capable ulama as our point of reference when direct access to the Infallible Imam is not possible. At the time of the 10th Imam, doubt in our Aqeedah was very prevalent and the Imam’s legacy includes clarifying the Shia Ithna Asheri Aqeedah.
DAWN OF IRANIAN REVOLUTION
And thirdly we remember that historic event on 1 February 1979 when Imam Khomeini returned to Iran from exile to usher in the dawn of the Iranian Revolution which survives to this very day despite all the doubts that are propogated about the validity and relevance of an Islamic system of governance.
May Almighty Allah save us from this disease of doubt and may we continuously take practical steps to strengthen our certainty in our faith In-sha’Allah.
Please like and share this post.