Jumuah lecture on Friday 26 March 2021 (12 Shaban 1442) by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town

Almighty Allah (SWT) has spoken about water in the Holy Quran with a great deal of detail. In fact, theword al-ma’a (water) is used 63 times in the Holy Quran. This is in addition to other terms used in theHoly Quran in reference to water.

Therefore, some of the scholars have mentioned that the Holy Quran speaks about water almost 100 times in principle!

This clearly tells us that there should be something very serious on this subject, if the Holy Quran gives such great attention to this compound which we know as water.

There are so many angles explored in the Holy Quran on this subject of water, which makes it very thought-provoking and interesting to delve into.


First of all, the Holy Quran introduces water as the source of life. The following excerpt from verse 30 of Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21) refers:

 وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ

“and we made every living thing of water”

This tells us that every living creation of Almighty Allah (SWT) is from water. This is again emphasized at the start of verse 45 of Surah Noor (chapter 24 of the Holy Quran):

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَ كُلَّ دَابَّةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ

“And Allah has created from water every living creature”

The Holy Quran then goes further to state that life and survival on this earth is through water. Verse 65 of Surah Nahl (chapter 16) refers:

وَاللَّهُ أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا

“And Allah has sent down water from the cloud and therewith given life to the earth after its death.”

The Holy Quran has clearly introduced water as the most important subject, being the source of life.

Someone came to the 6 th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) and asked, “what is the taste of water?” Interestingly, Imam Sadiq (a.s) replied saying that the taste of water is the taste of life!


This is one of the miracles of the Holy Quran, where it emphasises that life starts from water. Today,we see that scientific research have come to the same conclusion about life starting from water and playing the most important, central role in our life.

At the same time, the Holy Quran also speaks about water beyond its physical importance, where it refers to water as being a sign of Almighty Allah (SWT) and the source of purity. We read this in the second part of verse 48 of Surah Furqaan (chapter 25):

وَأَنْزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً طَهُورًا

“And We send down purifying water from the sky.”

Now, water as a cleansing agent is something we all understand, because we use water to purify.

However, in this verse, the Holy Quran speaks about tahoor (purity) in a much broader sense.

What is meant here is that water does not only purify you from external impurities, but water also has a role in purifying you from internal impurities.

When you perform wudhu or ghusl, the purpose is not to wash your hands and clean off the dirt. This is because wudhu comes with the niyyah (intention) of attaining the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT), and then you use water to complete the ablution. Here, the outcome of wudhu and ghusl is not confined to physical hygiene and cleanliness, but rather, the internal purity.

So, no matter how clean you keep yourself, showering repeatedly, but you cannot perform salaah if you did not make the intention for wudhu and complete the prescribed method for wudhu. Only then do you achieve the internal purity required for wudhu.

This shows us the critical role of water spiritually, beyond the critical role of water for our material existence. Water is either symbolic or it has a very deep meaning hidden in it, being able to purify us externally as well as internally. These are all signs of the power of Almighty Allah (SWT) and evidence to His supremacy and our dependency.


With this foundation, I want to now delve into a discussion on verse 7 of Surah Hud (chapter 11 of the Holy Quran):

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَكَانَ عَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ

“And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His Throne was upon the water.”

What does this really mean??

We understand in the material world that life depends on water; with 70% of our body being water; and the origin of life is water; and we cannot survive without water; etc.

But in this verse, we read that the Kingdom of Almighty Allah (SWT) is established upon water.

What does this really mean??

This tells us the different levels of discussion, debate and academic discourse engaged in by our religious scholars to understand this material and deeply mystical phenomenon of water.

One of the discussions explain that Almighty Allah (SWT) created water before His Kingdom, because it is not possible for His Kingdom to be on the water, as referenced in this verse, if there was no water to start with.

So then, it begs the question, what is this special water on which Almighty Allah (SWT) based His Kingdom?

There are various opinions presented to answer this question starting with the Power of Almighty Allah (SWT), such that His Whole Kingdom can be on something liquid. This is one possible understanding.


An alternate understanding to the one noted above is deeply mystical. Those people with the esoteric meaning of the Holy Quran understand that this water as the first creation of Almighty Allah (SWT) does not refer to water in the material form of H2O.

They explain that the water on which the Throne of Almighty Allah (SWT) is established is that Divine Breath or Will of Almighty Allah (SWT).

Now, the mystics go even further to say that the Will of Almighty Allah (SWT) has always been there, and should have manifested in some form, namely water. They therefore conclude that this water which manifested the Will of Almighty Allah (SWT) is none other than Haqiqate Muhammadia (the Muhammadian truth and reality).

An alternative view presented is that the water referred to in this verse represents aql (intellect).

The first Hadith noted in Usul al-Kafi states that the first creation of Almighty Allah (SWT) created was the intellect. So then, it begs the question, what is this aql, to which the Imams of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) explain that it is the wujood (existence) of the noor (light) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

Let me now draw this all closer to the point, that the Holy Quran is saying that this material world has water as its central point of dependency and survival. Then in the deeper sense, referring to the life beyond this material existence, we also need a central figure for our survival!


This central point is again the source of life, where the Will of Almighty Allah (SWT) is manifested.

This water is the source of life beyond the material life.

Verse 30 is the last verse of Surah Mulk (chapter 67 of the Holy Quran), which reads as follows:

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَنْ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِمَاءٍ مَعِينٍ

“Say: Have ye thought: If (all) your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water?”

Almighty Allah (SWT) very beautifully brings our attention towards numerous points through this verse, ranging from:

– His power and might;

– The role of water;

– The disappearance of water;

– The capability of Almighty Allah (SWT) to bring it back

There is a great deal of discussion in Tafsir (Quranic commentary) about the different layers of the earth which absorbs the water and then there are layers of the earth which stores the water.

So, what this verse is saying is that if Almighty Allah (SWT) makes this water disappear, which is the source of our life, do we ever consider who is going to bring back this running water?

This is an example to draw our minds closer to the material water.

When the same question was asked from the 5 th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s), he explained that the water which is the source of life is the existence of your Imam (a.s) who is the centre of this world and the heart of this world of possibilities. If he goes into occultation, then who will bring back this water, other Almighty Allah (SWT), so that it can be a flowing river, as referenced in the above verse?

Interestingly, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) says that this verse was revealed to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), but the materialization of this verse did not yet happen, because based on the preceding point, it is still going to happen, when our awaited Imam will reappear like a flowing river!


Ammar bin Yaasir, the great companion of Rasulullah (SAWA) asked to describe who is the promised Mahdi (atfs). Rasulullah (SAWA) explained that Almighty Allah (SWT) made a pledge that he will bring nine Imams (a.s) from the offspring of Imam Husayn (a.s). Rasulullah (SAWA) then explains that the 9th one will disappear, and this disappearance is the one who is mentioned in the Holy Quran, in verse

30 of Surah Mulk (chapter 67) cited above.

Rasulullah (SAWA) then explained further that this 9 th blessed Imam from the offspring of Imam Husayn (a.s) will have a long occultation, and when he returns, a group of people will be with him, and a group of people will turn away from him. He will fill this world with justice and fairness.

This reference to ma’a (water) which is the source of our material life, and then ma’a (water) in reference to Wilayat (guardianship) as the hujjat (proof) of Almighty Allah (SWT), which is the source of our spiritual life and quite frankly our material life as well. That channel of blessings is the Imam of our time (atfs).

This is the meaning presented in books of Hadith by both Sunni and Shia compilations of Hadith, regarding the narration by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), where he says that “whoever dies without having knowledge of the Imam of his time, dies the death of jahiliyyah (ignorance).”


Imaan (faith) is life, and our lives depend on Imaan! And the survival and sustenance of our Imaan depends on our connection to this water, which is our Imam (atfs)!

Indeed, connection to that Imam is vitally important, as it is the source of life. We are often taunted with the question that how can our Imam (atfs) be the source of life, guidance, blessings and goodness while he is in occultation, since we do not have access to him?

This question will be addressed in the discussion on the 15 th Shaban. However, let me respond to this question with a question.

When people realize they have gone astray, they would often say “Satan made me do it!” So then it begs the question, did they see Satan?

Amazingly, we are quite emphatic that Satan can misguide you, even though we do not see Satan.

But then, amazingly when it comes to the representative of Almighty Allah (SWT) and the Imam of our time, we don’t believe he can lead and guide us?! What a paradox!!!

We say that our Imam Mahdi (atfs) is in occultation.

Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) says that this thinking is incorrect, because we have zuhoor (appearance) and huzoor (presence). His appearance is missing to us for now, but his presence is not missing, because the earth cannot be empty from the proof of Almighty Allah (SWT) for even a fraction of a second, otherwise it will perish!

This is what the influential philosopher and deep Sufi mystic, ibn Arabi said!

This is again linked to the central role of water in life. We cannot survive without water and similarly, this world cannot survive without an Imam (atfs).


Our Taqwa (God-consciousness) and self-development is the groundwork and the channel of our connection with our awaited saviour, Imam Mahdi (atfs).

We believe that Imam Mahdi (atfs) is the reformer of this world. Naturally, we cannot claim to believe in his program of global reform without reforming ourselves.

We believe he will bring justice to the earth. We cannot be waiting for a just system while we are not just towards ourselves, our families, our community, our society, our commitments and our leadership.

We have made a pledge of being Muslim and mu’min (true believers) and our pledge of being followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s), waiting for the reappearance of the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (atfs).

May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant us the Taufeeq and to be among those sincere, committed believers of Imam Mahdi (atfs) with ma’rifat (mystical intuitive knowledge) and practical commitment to our Imam Mahdi (atfs), this source of our life.



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