Eidul Adha Khutbah delivered by Brother Bashier Rahim at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town on 12 September 2016
Today the Muslim world celebrates Eidul Adha, the Eid of Sacrifice, the Eid that coincides with the rituals of the Hajj wherein millions of Muslims from around the world have journeyed to Makkah to uphold the great institution of Hajj.
It is the second Eid of the Islamic calendar, the first having been Eidul Fitr, in which we celebrated at the end of the Holy Month of Ramadaan, our “return to their pure nature” after having participated in a month of rigorous spiritual training.
The institution of fasting as a concept is not unique to the followers of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) as it existed and exists among followers of different faiths and consequently the actual institution of fasting in a broad sense has universal appeal among mankind.
For Muslims who observed the fast, their purpose was the achievement of very specific levels of spiritual development, either:
- in the form of God conciousness, or
- being in the state of Glorifying their Lord, or
- achieving the ability to Express their Thankfulness to Almighty Allah, or
- having been able to strengthen their Ikhlaas or Sincerity of their Worship of Almighty Allah.
Pilgrimage on the other hand, also has a Universal appeal. Broadly speaking, it’s an age old tradition that is not limited to being performed by the followers of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and it is thus prevalent in different religions in various forms to this very day.
Jews are known to undertake pilgrimage three times a year to Jerusalem for the Passover, which celebrates the Jews liberation from slavery, or the Shavuot celebrates their receiving the Ten Commandments or the Sukkot which remembers the 40 years that they lived in the wilderness. They also make pilgrimage to the Wailing Wall which is a most sacred site for Jews.
Christians are also known to undertake pilgrimage to Palestine to remember the life of Jesus and there are other parts of the world which their visit to remember the Virgin Mary.
Pilgrimage is so deeply embedded in Hindu culture who have so many pilgrimage sites such that almost the entire sub continent can be considered one grand sacred space for Hindus.
So pilgrimage as a concept has Universal appeal, and we thus see that when Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) made the call to Hajj, that Almighty Allah uses Universal wording in the Quran (22:27)
وَأَذِّن فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ
“And proclaim the Hajj among mankind…”
But something interesting to note is that the Ka’ba, which is a central site and symbol to the Hajj – it has historically enjoyed a great prestige and was held in high esteem by various nations.
Allamah Tabatabai highlights this in his Tafsir of Verse 96 and 97 of Surah Aali Imraan which speaks about the first House of Worship being in Bakka or Makkah.
So he says the Hindus respected the Ka’ba as they believed one of the spirits that they revere actually entered the Black Stone or Hajr al-Aswad.
The Sabeans counted the Ka’ba as one of their seven sanctuaries.
The Jews honoured the Ka’ba and worshipped Allah there.
There even used to be images of Mary and Christ inside the Ka’ba which indicated that the Christians also respected the Ka’ba.
The ultimate purpose the pilgrimage in all of the faith traditions is that it is an external manifestation of an inner journey towards truth.
When we examine the Islamic perspective of the Hajj and it’s purpose we see that it uses the life of the most widely followed Prophet – Ibrahim (a.s) and shows how the stands that he and his family took are the bases for reaching the highest levels of spiritual development.
And from among all the rituals that the Hujjaj perform, those who are not on Hajj, spiritually join them in 2 areas:
- They fast on the Day of Arafah while the Hujjaj are on Arafah; and
- They sacrifice on the Day of Eid when the Hujjaj also observe the sacrifice as a compulsory part of their rituals.
By making these 2 rituals to be common to some extent for all Muslims across the globe, the benefits of the Hajj become exponentially far reaching.
THE DAY OF ARAFAH – WHAT ARAFAH?
What is the purpose of the Day of Arafah?
It is to achieve the ma’rifat and inner knowledge of Almighty Allah.
This is the critical basis for the start of one’s journey to Almighty Allah – to have knowledge of Almighty Allah. Without knowledge of Allah, we cannot journey to Allah.
That knowledge is symbolically obtained in Arafah on the Day of Wuquf when we spend the time from Zawaal until sunset in Arafah.
From a Capetonian perspective, we have now for decades been more concerned about whether Arafah is the 9th Day of Thil Hijjah on your local calendar or whether it MUST coincide with the pilgrims presence on Arafah during the Hajj. Perhaps this year, when we all coincidentally celebrate Eid on the same Day, it’s a time for the Muslim community to rethink the real purpose of Arafah.
How does one achieve this knowledge or ma’rifat that is meant to be achieved on the Day of Arafah?
What is recommended to be done for this most special part of the afternoon?
When one examines the program of our local Hujjaj, then you will see that it starts with a short speech by the group leader, then a thikr based on the Capetonian developed tradition and then people go out of their tent into the open air under the sun and make their own dua.
That is generally the program.
There’s technically perhaps nothing wrong with it, but it falls far short from the teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
This ma’rifat or knowledge of Almighty Allah is meant to be achieved is actually achieved in various ways – either:
- intellectually; or
- through a reliable source like revelation and narrations of the Ahlul Bait (a.s); or
- it is direct/immediate knowledge that comes to you without a medium
The Quran has presented the knowledge of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) in the Quran in various forms from an intellectual perspective:
- theological arguments that he used with people in general,
- arguments he used with his own uncle or family member, as well as
- the arguments that he used with the ruler of the time – Nimrud.
In relation to all these arguments, the argument that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) has with Nimrud is of particular relevance to understanding the state of the Muslim Ummah during our time.
In Surah Baqarah Verse 258, this argument is narrated wherein it states:
قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِـي وَيُمِيتُ
“When Abraham said: ‘My Lord is He Who gives life, and causes to die.”’
In response to this argument, Nimrud tries to answer him. So the verse continues to say:
قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِـي وَأُمِيتُ
“He said: ‘I (too) give life and cause to die.'”
And then to prove his point, Nimrud told his guards to bring to him 2 prisoners. So he let the one go free and he ordered the other to be executed.
And he thus demonstrated that he gives life as the one who was supposed to die was rescued and allowed to go free whereas the other one he actually took his life.
This was not the argument of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) who meant to say Allah gives life to something that was dead and non-existent, not spare the life of one that is already living.
And Allah takes the life of someone in a natural way, not by murdering them like Nimrud did.
What is this argument that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) had to contend with from the oppressive ruler of his time?
It is nothing but Sophistry – it is false arguments that are presented with the intention to deceive others. And people are often fooled by these arguments.
And thus Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) did not try to rebut his Sophistry by showing that he was lying, but he brought a stronger argument that left Nimrud dumbfounded, an argument which could not be countered by Sophistry.
He thus said:
قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ
“Abraham said: ‘Verily, Allah brings the sun from the East; so you bring it from the West’, whereupon the one who disbelieved was confounded.”
It was an argument that Nimrud could not respond to.
And the history of oppressive rulers as well as the so-called custodians of the Haramain of the Family of Saud is that they have ulama who are always willing to present false arguments on behalf of their kings to deceive the masses.
So the blind Saudi Grand Mufti says that Iranians are not at the Hajj this year as they are not Muslims.
This country called Saudi Arabia (to my knowledge at least) does not have one Department of Philosophy in any of its universities, as intellect is not really a source of knowledge for them.
In fact there is hardly a country in the Middle East, other than the Shia dominant countries that have a Department of Philosophy at their universities.
But instead the Saudi ideology permanently keeps people pre-occupied in a thikr of saying:
1000 times Bidah
500 times Shirk
1000 times Kafir
500 times Haraam
And if you still have time then say 1000 times “Muhammad is just a man like us”.
And their universities permanently teach their students sectarian hatred and grant their kings a blanket licence to murder the people of Yemen under the pretence that they are not Muslim.
And they deceived the masses with their Sophistry when they martyred Ayatullah Nimr Baqir an-Nimr at the beginning of this year in January 2016 by killing him along with hard core criminals and making it appear for the world to believe that he was one of many other criminals and thus rightfully executed.
So what ma’rifat do our Hujjaj achieve in Arafat and the rest of us from around the world who commemorate the Day of Arafah by fasting on that day?
Followers of the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s) spend the afternoon of Wuquf in Arafah being involved in a long list of recommended ibadat.
From recommended salaah to recitation of Quran to thikr to reading various Duas recorded from Imam Hussain (a.s), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), Imam Ja’far Saadiq (a.s), and so on for the Day of Arafah.
And these Duas take us on a journey, to achieving knowledge of ourselves which is the basis for achieving knowledge and ma’rifat of Allah.
And these Duas take us on a journey to achieving knowledge of the Prophet (sawa) and knowledge of the wali/Imam of the time.
The Imam of our time, Mahdi (a.s) is present in Arafah – part of the ma’rifat we gain in Arafah is ma’rifat of the Imam of our time – thus one of the Duas that we read in Arafah is the Dua for hastening the reappearance of our Imam Mahdi (a.s).
That is complete ma’rifat – ma’rifat of Allah, ma’rifat of the Prophet (sawa) and ma’rifat of the Imam of the time – if one does not have this comprehensive ma’rifat, then we will be misguided.
So Imam Hussain (a.s) takes us on a journey through history in his Dua Arafah, which makes us ponder, in the minutest detail regarding:
- where we come from,
- our vulnerable moments in our history,
- how Almighty Allah was and continues to be kind to us, and
- after attempting to remember every blessing of Almighty Allah to us, he concludes:
وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لاَ تُحْصُو
“and if you count Allah’s blessings, you are unable to number them”
And these Duas have in it so much more.
This ma’rifat takes us to the Tauheed of Almighty Allah – first in our individual capacity, and then in our communal capacity.
Hajj is an institution that beautifies Islam due to it being an expression of the power of Islam through the Unity that it forges.
The ma’rifat we achieve on Arafah is that it’s the first place in this Hajj ritual where everyone, from every school of thought must be together at the same place at the same time for a certain period.
What an opportune moment to give this crowded gathering a meaningful message for our ma’rifat of Allah to be displayed on a global level in the social / political arena.
But Hajj remains a mere ritual with very little attention being paid or even no attention being paid to the political dimension of Hajj.
In the khutbah of the Prophet (sawa) on the plains of Arafah, his message was one of:
- social cohesion,
- safety and security,
- financial stability by banning the interest based system,
- protecting the rights of women,
- and much more,
- as well as the need to be carriers of his message to the next generation when he said:
“those present should take this message to those absent.”
This ma’rifat we achieve in Arafah is the basis for our journey to Allah.
This then flows into the next aspect of the Hajj that we share with the Hujjaj – and that is the Day of Eid which is the Day of Sacrifice which last for 3 days.
THE DAY OF SACRIFICE – WHAT SACRIFICE?
The various aspects of the life of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) is captured in the Quran which are extremely beneficial for us to be familiar with.
But from this long list of verses which reflect on his life, perhaps 10 percent or less relate to intellectual arguments while the balance relate to struggle and sacrifice in establishing this ma’rifat within himself and among people.
- From dealing with the idol worshippers,
– to dealing with an oppressive ruler,
– to dealing with being thrown into the fire,
– to dealing with his uncle who was a polytheist,
– to dealing with the wife of Prophet Ismail (a.s),
– to settling his progeny all alone near the Holy House,
– to building the Ka’ba to reaching old age without progeny,
– to celebrating the joy of having a child in old age – only to be short lived before he receives a command to sacrifice his son.
It’s a long list of struggles and constant sacrifice – from youth into old age – I repeat this point – from youth into old age.
The story of Ibrahim (a.s) is not about waking up when we 50 or 60 years old and now we decide to become pious – of course it’s not too late – but that is not the standard.
This is the story of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) that we celebrate today on Eidul Adha – that true ma’rifat that we achieve on Arafah only comes when it is combined with a spirit of sacrifice.
Mina which is a place that the Hajji spends at least 3 days is a sign of a scene of battle against the enemies of the religion of God and the columns are symbols of that which stands in the way of the ummah.
Pebbles are symbols of worldly riches thrown away for the sake of God. Pilgrims practice these symbolic and spiritual acts to ensure their victory, for God’s promise is truthful:
يَا أيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تَنْصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنْصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أقْدَامَكُمْ
“O you who believe, if you help the cause of Allah, He will help you and make firm your feet. (The Holy Qur’an; 47:7)”
Another obligatory act in Mina following Ramy Jamarat al-Aqaba on Eid ul-Adha is sacrifice of an animal (camel, cow, or sheep) – which is an action that we share with the Hujjaj.
This animal that we sacrifice must be inspected to ensure it is of a certain age, it does not have a broken horn, it is not castrated, it does not have an illness – in short, the animal we sacrifice must be free from any defect.
It is called ‘Qurban – offering -’, because this act of worship is aimed at getting close to Allah.
It says a lot to us about the quality of our sacrifice…it should never be about doing something for religion to simply clean our conscience – then that is like sacrificing a sheep that has an illness.
The spirit of sacrifice is to give up that which is most dear to us.
Let us ask ourselves: what is it that is more dear to us that we willing to sacrifice for Allah?
Are we willing to give of our time for religion?
How much time do we waste on meaningless entertainment, yet we have very little time to offer for Allah.
Sometimes we sacrifice so much for our families – which in principle is a good thing – but then we have little priority to sacrifice for the family of the Prophet (sawa).
Which one is the priority in our life?
We have a huge building project ahead of us that will open soon in the next few months – it has taken huge sacrifice from everyone:
- from financial,
- to giving of their precious time,
- to traveling the world to bring us the best,
- to getting injured in the process – our beloved Mowlana literally broke is foot last week while traveling on behalf of our community for our building project – and unfortunately we miss him here today to lead us and we pray for his speedy recovery.
How much sacrifice are we willing to offer?
Building a project of this magnitude took huge sacrifices, but in my view even greater sacrifice lies ahead – to make this into a fully functional vibrant institution will require much more participation and effort than we offered in the past – are we mentally prepared for such sacrifice?
Today is 12 September, when we also remember the martyrdom of Steve Biko at the hands of the Apartheid government.
A man who led the Black Consciousness Movement. And today on our day of sacrifice, we pay tribute to him for his sacrifice for our country.
But what happened to the Consciousness that he was passionate about?
What happened to his spirit of sacrifice?
We live in a time where politicians don’t know the meaning of sacrifice, nor have a conscience.
And in the Western Cape, we have politicians who play with Sophistry to fool people.
So we have a lovely slogan “Equal opportunity for all.” – that’s great.
But how do we equally compete when we start from an unequal base?
Who will get the jobs at the end of the day under the disguise of “we need competent people.” – what was deliberately done to make people competent so that we have equal opportunity for all?
The sacrifice that we do today is a symbol of devotion and offering one’s life in the way of the Beloved and the maximum degree of submission to God.
Imam ‘Ali (a.s) read the following duaa upon offering the sacrifice of an animal:
“In the Name of Allah. I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists. Surely, my prayers, my sacrifice, my life, and my death belong to Allah the Lord of the worlds. O Allah, whatever I have comes from and is for You.”
The offering of animal sacrifice on Eid ul-Adha enlivens the memory of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) and his son Ismaeel (a.s).
The father says,
قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنّـِي أَرَي فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنّـِي أَذْبَحُكَ
“O my son, surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you. (The Holy Qur’an; 37:102)”
The young son, too, without having any fear, says,
يَآ أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَآءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“O my father, do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me one of the patient ones. (The Holy Qur’an; 37:102)”
This is the utmost degree of sacrifice and devotion, which is worthy of God’s saying,
وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ
“And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice. (The Holy Qur’an; 37:107)”
Prophet Ibrahim’s act of devotion became a source of pride for human beings before the angels who had said to Allah once upon a time:
وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ
“Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? (The Holy Qur’an; 2:30)”
The angels should know that among the same human beings there are those whose devotion is to the extent that God praises them:
فَلَمَّآ أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ
وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَن يَآ إِبْرَاهِيمُ
قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَآ كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُـحْسِنِينَ
“So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead. And We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim! You have indeed truthful to the vision. (The Holy Qur’an; 37:103-5)”
And if Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) offered one sacrifice in Mina and the sacrifice was ransomed and praised by Almighty Allah, Imam Husayn (a.s) offered seventy-two sacrifices in Karbala on a single day and none of them was ransomed. How much is that sacrifice not praised?
This year the Ummah witnesses a Hajj where a whole chunk of people are absent – the Iranian Hujjaj whom the corrupt Saudi regime prevented from attending the Hajj by making it virtually impossible for them.
We remember the Mina massacre of last year – when thousands of Hujjaj died – and as Ayatullah Khamenei says – the Saudis are fully to blame.
They left the Hujjaj to die – locked up those who were still alive with the dead ones instead of giving them medical treatment.
The Hajj is a reflection of the state of the spiritual health of the Ummah – it’s a sad state.
When Imam Hussain (a.s) saw this state of the Ummah – he abandoned the Hajj – and went to Karbala instead to sacrifice his life to inject new life into this Ummah.
This year the Iranians have been left out of the Hajj, but they not missing out on the spiritual benefit of the Hajj – one million of them have made their way to Karbala to be at the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s) to learn the true spirit of sacrifice.
On this day of Eid – as we recommit our lives to the spirit of sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) – let us remember and pray for our brothers and sisters in Yemen, in Iraq, in Palestine, in Syria, in Kashmir – and every place in this world where innocent are suffering, children are orphaned and people are starving – may this Day of Eid at the very least bring a smile to their face, when food is freely available and everyone should at least have access to a good meal to lesson the pain – even if it is just for a moment.
In conclusion, we wish the entire Muslim community a hearty Eid mubarak.