Jumuah lecture on Friday 6 March 2020 (11 Rajab 1441)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
10th Rajab reminds us of the birth of a great personality from the family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), namely Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad (a.s), who is the 9th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s). Taking benefit of this opportunity, I would like to draw your attention to 3 important lessons we learn from this great Imam.
These 3 principles are very relevant to today’s life:
- Taqwa – seeking the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) in everything we do;
- Respecting the rights and dignity of other people;
- Authenticate before sharing news in public
TAQWA – SEEKING THE PLEASURE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) IN EVERYTHING WE DO
Imam Jawad (a.s) explains that spirituality and Taqwa, and interest in Almighty Allah (SWT) is the most important factor of progress and success. He says in a beautiful narration that trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) is the price of everything that is precious and the ladder to every goal which is high and sublime.
We cannot achieve any sublime goal and anything precious without having this deep connection with Almighty Allah (SWT). Lack of trust and dependence on our Creator (SWT) is the most serious challenge of our time. We look at things purely from a material angle. The value of anything in our life is permeated on the material aspect.
Even in a family setting, a conflict between husband and wife, majority of the time they are centred around material issues. Spirituality and trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) is missing and due to this, one cannot achieve anything.
When we face challenges and distress and calamities in our life on an individual level or on a social/communal level, we break down and surrender because our trust and confidence is in everything other than Almighty Allah (SWT). We therefore lose hope and become despondent. You will recall us elaborating on this in last week’s Jumuah, about positivity and trust in Almighty Allah (SWT), in light of the beautiful dua of Rajab, which establishes positivity with all the trust and confidence in Almighty Allah (SWT).
RESPECTING THE RIGHTS AND DIGNITY OF OTHER PEOPLE
This lesson reflects the era of Imam Jawad (a.s) and is equally relevant today, where people display a flagrant disregard for the rights of others. This is an even greater concern in this digital age, where we do not think twice about forwarding whatever comes in our hands through social media, destroying the integrity and respect of people in the process.
Someone wrote a letter to Imam Jawad (a.s) saying that he has a father-in-law who is a Nasibi ie. one who openly expresses his animosity and hate for the family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). This is the theological term used for such people, and they are regarded as non-Muslims basically, for their unreserved abuse of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
The person wrote the letter to Imam Jawad (a.s), wanting to know what his responsibility in this situation is, since he is a devoted lover of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), while his father-in-law is on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.
I would like to reference one sentence in this long response of Imam Jawad (a.s). He advised this person to reconcile with his father-in-law, as that is better than exposing him in the society. This shows that the dignity and sanctity of the people is so crucial for Imam Jawad (a.s).
I am bringing this point in the context of the challenge we have on our hands today in the form of social media. No doubt, it has its great benefit as a tool of information and communication. That being said, it is also clearly a great tool of misinformation, resulting in hurting and insulting others, through the smallest of baseless rumours.
While a person may have spent their entire life trying to achieve some form of personality in society, their pristine image is quickly tarnished with clicking the forward button of something which is totally unfounded.
People with whom society places a great trust and confidence in their integrity and honesty no longer have this respect in society as a result of a reckless accusation levelled against them.
When it comes to the rights and dignity and respect of others, it is better to reconcile and come along rather than exposing another person. We all know how badly our society is suffering from this disease!
AUTHENTICATE BEFORE SHARING NEWS IN PUBLIC
To express something before it is being established is tantamount to corrupting the matter. What Imam Jawad (a.s) is saying here is very much connected to the earlier point, emphasizing our responsibility about what we express and reveal publicly, before it is being established firmly.
This is corruption, even in positive matters. There are times we do something good, but we end up advertising ourselves before we actually complete it! This is where Imam Jawad (a.s) says that the silence of a Jahil (ignorant) is a great help in addressing disputes and quarrels.
If you do not know and have not established what you want to articulate publicly, then this is the start of trouble! We see this everyday with social media, where someone recklessly posts, and we start believing it and promoting it!
This Hadith from Imam Jawad (a.s) focuses on both positive and negative aspects. Imam Jawad (a.s) is also cautioning us to not broadcast something good until it is established.
Another insight about this Hadith refers to duplicity and hypocrisy. You want to do something good for the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) but publicize it. This ends up destroying the reward of your good deeds. Good deeds are rewarded much more when they are kept secret, instead of when trying to create attention to your good action.
Again, in conclusion, I want to once again appeal for us all to practice caution and heightened responsibility on social media, to guard ourselves against its destructive capability. We should not publicize anything without verifying, and be most mindful about the integrity of others in the process of doing so. Regretting later does not help, as the damage is already done. This is the Quranic command for us to always be mindful of.
THE UNTOLD GENOCIDE IN INDIA AGAINST MUSLIMS
More and more horrifying details are emerging about atrocities committed against Muslims in India. This well-planned attack by Hindu extremists on Muslims in India, especially in Delhi, was fully supported by the ruling Modi-regime.
With the help of social media, we are well aware of the depth of this tragedy, through the merciless killings and brutal attacks. This is not fake news. Without any doubt, we are in a situation where the Hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) should be heeded, where he says that if someone is shouting in a corner for help to be rescued, and we do not respond, then we are complicit in this crime.
It is our responsibility to sign petitions and raise our voice, by writing to the United Nations and the Indian Embassy and bringing these atrocities into the mainstream media, which has been relatively quiet, as they have not reflected the magnitude of the tragedy and atrocities committed. It is unimaginable. There are even reports of babies being buried alive, women raped, and others burned alive.
Houses and holy places for Muslims such as mosques and shrines have been levelled to the ground, without any feeling of shame.
This is a very important issue to raise awareness on.
CEASEFIRE IN SYRIA WILL HOPEFULLY REDUCE THE SUFFERING OF SYRIAN PEOPLE
Finally, there is a ceasefire agreed to between Turkey and Russia to temporarily stop the violence in the Idlib region, where countless people are suffering due to the war taking place there. It is very important to note that this suffering of the people of Idlib in Syria is the result of the support by the Turkish leadership for the terrorist and extremist groups in Syria.
What is happening today is in the borders of Syria, and we are not trying to condone what the Syrians or Russians are doing. At the end of the day, it is their country and their sovereignty. They have the right to liberate it from occupying groups such as al-Nusra etc.
It is not acceptable, nor can it be justified, for a foreign country to impose on the government of the same country not to liberate its own land and regain its country under one sovereign state of control.
If you look at the areas which are freed from these terrorists, there is evidence of normality being restored to life in these areas. This is after the massive turmoil created huge suffering for the people of Syria by these terrorist groups, supported by USA, Israel and then the Muslim leadership for their own gains. We indeed pray for those who are suffering unabated.
CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT OUR SHORES – PRECAUTIONS ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE
Coronavirus has created fear across the world for the past couple of months and has now arrived in South Africa too. Firstly, we pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant full recovery to all those who have unfortunately been struck by this terrible disease, irrespective whether they are Muslim or not, wherever in the world.
Our responsibility as Muslims is to pray for the whole humanity, but naturally, our concerns become heightened when it comes to our own Muslim brethren. In this regard, the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran is very serious. We pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant this nation, and the rest of the world, the strength to conquer this disease which has claimed the lives of many people, amongst them some prominent personalities.
It is a very serious concern for us that Coronavirus has now touched our shores too. I would like to address a few points on this from the Islamic point of view.
Firstly, we are commanded to follow the specialist in the field. We often go through this internal debate, arguing with ourselves that health, sickness and death is in the hands of Almighty Allah (SWT), irrespective of whether we listen to doctors or not.
Indeed, Allah (SWT) is the one who grants health and we trust in Him upon whom we have full dependence. Similarly, life and death are indeed in His hands, without any iota of doubt. That being said, it is crucial to understand that Qada and Qadr does not mean that things happen without its natural chain of cause and effect.
This is how Almighty Allah (SWT) created the system in this world for His will to materialise. Starting from bringing us into this world as new-born babies, it originates from a chain of causes through a natural system concluding with your mother giving birth to you. This is the system from Almighty Allah (SWT) and how His will materializes (through this system).
To break this natural system or to disobey it by saying that you trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) and therefore you do not need it, is inconsistent with the principles of Tauheed and is in fact contrary to the system which Allah (SWT) created.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) also took medication when he got sick. Now, one may argue why? Didn’t Rasulullah (SAWA) believe in Almighty Allah (SWT)? Do we have greater trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) than Rasulullah (SAWA)? Not at all! Therefore, the Islamic position in this matter is that we ought to follow the authority of the specialist in this field, namely doctors. This is an important reminder to myself and all of you.
Doctors are not the ones who cure. They are simply the channel, as recovery from being sick comes from Almighty Allah (SWT) through the hands of doctors. Therefore, dua is still of paramount importance and you still need to have Tawassul – intercession from the Ahlul Bait (a.s) for the sick to be cured and for us all to overcome this disease. Hence, these are 2 parts which much go hand-in-hand, following the authority of doctors and praying to Almighty Allah (SWT).
Proactive, pre-emptive and preventative measures have been implemented in this Masjid and I am sure other mosques are also taking appropriate precautionary measures.