Jumuah lecture on Friday 28 January 2022 (25 Jamadil Thani 1443)
Moulana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid
Ottery, Cape Town
During this sacred hour of Jumuah, I remind myself and all of you to exhort towards Taqwa (God-consciousness), to be conscious about our responsibilities and obligations before our Creator, Almighty Allah (SWT).
This reminder of Taqwa is more relevant and more important when we are approaching the start of the spiritual season in the Islamic calendar – the three months which are dedicated for self-development and the cleansing of our soul, enhancing and empowering our spiritual status.
This sacred period starts with Rajab, followed by Shabaan, and reaches its climax with the month of Ramadaan. Interestingly, the month of Rajab was regarded sacred even before the advent of Islam. Even the people before Islam use to pay added respect to this month.
THE SPIRITUAL POWER OF RAJAB TO CALIBRATE OUR COMPASS ON SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
Needless to mention, a great deal of emphasis was given to Rajab after the introduction of Islam, with special focus on spiritual development in this month. Accordingly, there is a very long list of Hadith narrating the great virtues associated with this month of Rajab.
This month of Rajab is named after a river which flows in Paradise, as a manifestation of the infinite mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT). This month is called Rajab-ul-Asab, where Asab means pouring, like pouring rain. It is therefore called “pouring Rajab” because the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) pours in this month.
Similarly, this month is also called Rajab-ul-Asam, where Asam means odd. This highlights that the month of Rajab is a very unique month.
One of the companions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) narrates that they were in a cemetery along with Rasulullah (SAWA). Rasulullah (SAWA) walked and then stopped and again walked and stopped. The companion enquired from Rasulullah why he was moving like this, to which Rasulullah (SAWA) started crying, saying that he is affected by the loud crying of the people’s pain in the graves, under the punishment of Almighty Allah (SWT).
Rasulullah (SAWA) then explained that he stopped to raise his hands to ask Almighty Allah (SWT) to have mercy on these people, and accordingly, Allah (SWT) did that, and their punishment was reduced.
Rasulullah (SAWA) then explained to his companion that if the people of this cemetery who are facing the punishment of Allah (SWT) would have fasted one day in the month of Rajab and kept awake for one night in this month, occupied in Ibadah (acts of worship), then they would not have faced the punishment of Allah (SWT) in their graves!
This is the blessed month of Rajab!
Our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) narrates that on the Day of Judgement, there will be a caller asking where are the people of Rajab. A group of people will emerge, who were fasting and giving charity in this blessed month of Rajab.
SPIRITUAL SEASON STARTS WITH RAJAB AND RAMADAAN IS ITS CLIMAX
The message from all these narrations is very clear, that these three months are focused on our inner development and empowerment. Rajab is the start, Shabaan is the continuation, and Ramadaan is the climax.
Ramadaan is the month where we are the guests of Almighty Allah (SWT)! But we need to be ready to become the guests of Allah (SWT), to participate in that divine feast. Rajab and Shabaan are therefore the months to prepare ourselves for that divine feast of Ramadaan. These are all interconnected.
Different acts of worship are recommended for this special month, from duas (supplications), fasting, I’tikaaf (seclusion in the most for a period of time dedicated to Ibadah), charity, etc.
To groom us in this direction, the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s) always used the tool of dua to elevate ourselves and cleanse spiritually. Hence, we find many duas recommended for this month of Rajab.
In the same way that we need to clean our house before we can start decorating, we start this process of spiritual elevation by first cleansing our souls. This is why it is recommended to sincerely repeat “astaghirullah” throughout this month, to seek the forgiveness of Almighty Allah (SWT).
It is more than just lip service of repeating “astaghfirullah”, but rather, a deeply sincere begging of mercy from Allah (SWT) to repent and cleanse our souls.
DAILY DUA OF RAJAB IS A PROFOUND INSPIRATION OF HOPE
As we all know, there are some deeply meaningful duas recommended to be recited after every Salaah in this month. One of them is the following very beautiful, thought-provoking, enriching dua, taught by Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) to one of his students. We can achieve an enormous amount from it through even a little reflection, as it instils hope and builds positivity in our mindset. It reads as follows:
يَا مَنْ أَرْجُوهُ لِكُلِّ خَيْرٍ،
O He Whom alone I hope for all good things
This first sentence is enough for us to ponder and reflect on Almighty Allah (SWT), as the centre of HOPE! This dua lights the candle of hope in the heart of a believer, regardless of wherever you are and whatever condition you find yourself in! Hope is only and only from Almighty Allah (SWT), and only good is expected from Him, as He is the source of GOOD!
Another very important message we draw from this is that we surrender to Almighty Allah (SWT) through whatever stressful situation we find ourselves in, as He is fully aware of our difficulties. Verse 44 of Surah Ghaafir (chapter 40 of the Holy Quran) refers:
وَأُفَوِّضُ أَمْرِي إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ
and I entrust my affair to Allah, Surely Allah sees the servants.
The first verse of this dua reaffirms that Allah (SWT) is the One, so we dispose ourselves on Him, as we depend on Him for all our HOPE!
We have now highlighted two important messages from the first sentence of this dua, namely HOPE and SURRENDER. Along with this, we see a strong message of OPTIMISM emerging here as well, as only good is coming from Him (kulli khayr).
THE PATIENCE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) ALLOWS US TO RECTIFY OUR SHORTCOMINGS
The second sentence of this dua reads as follows:
وآمَنُ سَخَطَهُ عِنْدَ كُلِّ شَرٍّ،
and Whose wrath I do not expect when I do wrong
This is very deep, in highlighting that our sense of security and protection is only possible from Almighty Allah (SWT). Our bad deeds, shortcomings, sins, transgressions, disobedience and disrespectful attitude all result in the anger of Allah (SWT). Despite all this, we still feel safe in the court of Almighty Allah (SWT), because we feel assured that He does not rush to punish us! This is His Promise noted in various verses of the Holy Quran.
Imagine if Allah (SWT) would have punished immediately? Nobody would have survived in this world! Indeed, He delays His punishment, to grant us wretched souls the opportunity to sincerely repent and change our state of mind and practical actions and behaviour towards Him.
When we read this second statement, we feel that we are protected from His anger by Him! We understand what this means from other duas of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), where we say to Allah (SWT) that we run away from Him because we disobey Him, and our disobedience causes His anger.
At the same time, we read in the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s) that we run away from Him, but where are we supposed to go to? One needs to have a shelter to hide away. This is where we read in duas that we run away from Him towards Him!
OUR SINS ARE THE CAUSE OF OUR PUNISHMENT
If we delve deeper, the approach of the Holy Quran is that it is not Almighty Allah (SWT) who punishes us, but rather, it is our own actions. We read this in verse 54 of Surah Yaseen (chapter 36 of the Holy Quran):
فَالْيَوْمَ لَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا وَلَا تُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
So this day no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and you shall not be rewarded aught but that which you did.
Our sins are our poison! If we drink poison thinking it is a cool drink, it will still kill us regardless of us mistaking it for a cool drink. This is because it is poison, simple as that. Our actions are no different. They will manifest their effect on the Day of Judgement.
ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) GIVES TO ALL TYPES FROM HIS INFINITE KINDNESS
We then move further into this dua, after the opening two sentences have cultivated immense hope:
يَا مَنْ يُعْطِي الْكَثِيرَ بِالْقَلِيلِ،
O He Who recompenses the little deed with very much reward
يَا مَنْ يُعْطَي مَنْ سَالَهُ
O He Who answers one who begs Him!
يَا مَنْ يُعْطي مَنْ لَمْ يَسْأَلْهُ
O He Who gives those who do not ask Him
وَمَنْ لَمْ يَعْرِفْهُ تَحَنُّناً مِنْهُ وَرَحْمَةً،
and do not even recognize Him out of His kindness and mercifulness
We see from this part of the dua, that people are divided into three types here:
- Those who have the mystical, intuitive understanding of Almighty Allah (SWT) and beg unto Him.
- Those who know Almighty Allah (SWT) but are negligent ie. they never knock on His door – negligent and disobedient.
- Those who do not know Almighty Allah (SWT) and even those who brazenly deny His existence!
Almighty Allah (SWT) grants to all three types, and we ask Him to grant us as well, from the success of this world and the Hereafter:
اعْطِنِي بِمَسْالتِي مِنْ جَمِيعِ خَيْرِ ٱلدُّنْيَا
Please do give me, for I pray You, the whole welfare of this world
وَجَمِيعِ خَيْرِ ٱلآخِرَةِ
and the whole welfare of the Next World
وَٱصْرِفْ عَنّي بِمَسْالَتي إِيَّاكَ
and save me, for I pray You,
جَميعَ شَرِّ ٱلدُّنْيا وَشَرِّ ٱلآخِرَة
the whole evil of this world and the Next World.
This part of the dua also proves that spirituality IS connected to this world AND the Hereafter, and not only the Hereafter as we are often meant to believe.
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) concluded this dua by grasping his beard with his left hand, while reciting this supplication:
يَا ذَاَ الْجَلالِ وَالإكْرَامِ
O The Sublime and The Distinguished,
يَا ذَاَ النَّعْمَاءِ وَالْجُودِ
O The Bountiful and The Magnanimous,
يَا ذَاَ الْمَنِّ وَالطَّوْلِ
O the Gracious and the Mighty,
حَرِّمْ شَيْبَتِي عَلَى النَّارِ
Save my grey hairs of the beard from the fire (of Hell).
We can see how powerful this dua is, taking us to the infinite mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT), connecting our hearts and minds to place our souls on the track of progress and development.
May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant us the Taufeeq to utilize this month of Rajab in this focused manner, in preparation for the divine banquet of Almighty Allah (SWT) in the month of Ramadaan, Insha Allah!
SECOND KHUTBAH – BOMBARDMENT ON YEMEN CONTINUES UNABATED
Besides the spiritual status of Rajab, what adds in significance in this month are the great events. Amongst them is the auspicious birth of Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) on 13 Rajab. And then of course 27th Rajab is the day of Mab’ath and the night of Mi’raj. Together with this is our annual tradition to benefit from the Amal of Umm Dawood in the middle of Rajab.
On issues of current affairs, the continuous disturbing news of the horrific situation in Yemen is getting worse and worse. These people continue to be bombarded by attacks from the Saudi led alliance with Israelis and Americans to kill the poorest of the poor, day and night!
Yes, the Houthis of Yemen have also been attacking, as they have no option remaining but to defend themselves, instead of bowing to the pressures and accept slavery at the hands of the Saudis. However, we see how the people of this country are being punished by the merciless attacks by this alliance on civilian targets, killing scores of innocent people.
Who knows when they will learn their lesson from merciless dictators like Saddam, who proved that indiscriminate killing and crushing people will never result in victory for the oppressor?! Victory is only from Almighty Allah (SWT), as confirmed in verse 126 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran):
وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
and victory is only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.
Victory is for those who are standing firm against injustice and oppression! Our duas are certainly for the poor people of Yemen and the oppressed the world over.
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