TWIN BLESSINGS OF MONTH OF RABI-UL AWWAL
Jumuah lecture delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 16 December 2016 at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
In this auspicious month of Rabi-ul Awwal, a month which is truly the real spring of humanity, we extend our congratulations to all humanity and the universe as we commemorate the days during which the birth of best creation of Allah occurred into this material world viz. our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
The word Rabi’ in Arabic means “spring” – a season during which nature becomes refreshed and growth resumes after a cold winter.
From a spiritual perspective, the birth of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) into this material world had that exact effect – it took mankind from a period of utter ignorance to a new path of enlightenment and guidance.
And at the onset let us pray that may Almighty Allah grant us the capability to have increased love for Prophet Muhammad (sawa) in our hearts and increased obedience to his message.
HIJRAH (MIGRATION) OCCURRED IN RABI-UL AWWAL
We are already in the middle of Rabi-ul Awwal, and since the start of the month we have had a discussion about the institution of Hijrah (Migration) and we mentioned that the actual Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) during his lifetime from Makkah to Madina occurred in this month.
We have also said that Hijrah is a principle institution in Islam which has a multi faceted role in our individual and communal development.
It is an institution that is expounded upon in various places in the Quran and in more than 20 verses the institutions of Jihad (Striving in the path of Allah) and Hijrah are discussed jointly.
In Surah Baqarah Verse 218 we read:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ أُوْلَـئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيم
“Those who believed and those who migrated and struggled in the way of Allah – these are they who hope for Allah’s Mercy”.
In other words, there is great virtue associated with the institution of Hijrah.
HIJRAH (MIGRATION) IS A LIVING INSTITUTION
Our analysis of various verses of the Quran relating to Hijrah and Jihaad reveals to us that it is a primary strategy in dealing with the challenges posed by the enemies of religion and a means to protect our belief system and religion.
Consequently it should be noted that Hijrah does not solely relate to a historical event/s during the time of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
When someone once alluded to Imam Ali (a.s) that Hijrah was something relating to the past he replied to indicate that it was among the primary institutions in Islam and that it has eternal relevance. In other words, Hijrah is a living institution that affects all of us.
In the Quran, Hijrah is sometimes referred to with the institution of Jihaad as in the verse quoted earlier.
At other times, Hijrah is referred to in conjunction with shahada (maytyrdom) as in Surah Nisa Verse 195:
فَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَأُخْرِجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأُوذُواْ فِي سَبِيلِي وَقَاتَلُواْ وَقُتِلُواْ لأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلأُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ ثَوَابًا مِّن عِندِ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ
“So, those who migrated and were driven out of their homes and suffered hurt in My way, and who fought and were killed, I will certainly cover their evil deeds, and I will certainly make them enter into gardens beneath which rivers flow, as a reward from Allah”.
HIJRAH (MIGRATION) HAS DIFFERENT LEVELS
On the first level the Quran considers Hijrah as an institution of liberation from persecution as was witnessed in the Hijrah from Makkah to Madina or the Hijrah to Abyssinia during the life of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
And there are various other verses with this message incorporated into it wherein you free yourself from being chained to a society that prevents you from practising your religion.
And such verses also indicate that Hijrah was a source of achieving Divine Pleasure.
INTELLECTUAL HIJRAH (MIGRATION)
On a second level, Hijrah is referred to with respect to a process that you undergo to become enlightened about the deeper and accurate meanings of religion. This is intellectual Hijrah.
Thus Surah Taubah Verse 122 says:
فَلَوْلا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِنْهُمْ طَآئِفَةٌ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
“why should not then a group from every party of them go forth to become learned in religion, and to warn their people when they return to them. So that they may beware?”
This verse provides motivation for scholars of religion to leave their homes and spend years in another place or country to acquire a deep understanding of religion and return to uplift the intellectual level of their community in terms of their religious knowledge.
HIJRAH (MIGRATION) IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER WORLDLY LIFE
A combination of the first two levels referred to earlier is also promised to result in one’s worldly life improving. That is because through the process of physical movement to live in another place in search of better opportunities in life, when combined with the intention of doing so “in the path of Allah”, it guarantees a better worldly life.
With your existing knowledge in the new society that you enter, the conditions are ripe for you to perform propagation work and invite people to the message that you already have.
Consequently Surah Nisa Verse 100 says:
وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيراً وَسَعَةً
“And whoever migrates in Allah’s way, finds much refuge and abundance in the earth”.
HIJRAH (MIGRATING) TO ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER
When examining the institution of Jihad, there is an aspect that goes beyond the apparent external meaning.
Thus it is well known that during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (sawa), when his companions returned from the battlefield, many of whom were still bruised and recovering, he welcomed them from what he termed to be the “Minor Jihaad”.
To their utter amazement and inquiry regarding what would be greater than the Jihaad in the battlefield, they were informed that it is the Jihaad (Struggle) against one’s own nafs and base desires.
This is a Jihaad against one’s own ego and desires and fighting the internal satan which is a continuous battle, whereas the Jihaad in the external battlefield is confined to a space and period of time.
Hijrah (migration) is also at times referred to in the Quran as a never ending movement wherein one is continuously journeying towards Allah and His Messenger.
Which Hijrah is this?
This is the internal Hijrah which is very similar to the internal Jihaad.
It is an continuous intellectual and spiritual journey from ignorance and self-centreness to knowledge and becoming selfless.
It is a journey from the prison of satan to becoming a true slave of Allah.
There is an expression which says “whoever entered Islam is Arab” in the sense that upon entry into Islam one is still “rural” and uncultured and that one must still make Hijrah (migrate) and learn to become cultured and knowledgeable.
ZURARAH IBN A’YUN AL-KUFI – THE GREAT SCHOLAR WHO LIVED A LIFE OF HIJRAH
Zurarah ibn A’yun al-Kufi was a student of the 5th Imam Baaqir (a.s) and the 6th Imam Saadiq (a.s) and was a great scholar. A huge number of hadith are narrated from him. He was so learned that the Imams considered him to be a mujtahid and often directed the common people to learn from him.
A great lesson from his life that we have in relation to “Hijrah to Allah and His Messenger” is that when he became old, he continued to learn and even though he could not travel anymore, he would send his son to Madina to obtain clarity from the 7th Imam Kathim (a.s) regarding a matter that he was uncertain about.
On one such occasion, when his son travelled to the 7th Imam in search of knowledge on his behalf, Zurarah already passed away before his son returned.
Subsequent to this, his son informed Imam Kathim (a.s) that his father passed away while the son was in search of knowledge on his behalf to which the Imam replied that the rest of Verse 100 of Surah Nisa referred to earlier applies to people like him. The verse says:
وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلى اللّهِ وَكَانَ اللّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمً
“and whoever goes forth from his house migrating unto Allah and His Messenger and death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
So Hijrah is a continuous life long process of journeying to Allah and His Messenger.
SYRIA – DISGRACE OF OUR SELECTIVE TEARS
This week the world has been discussing the situation in Syria and in particular Aleppo.
It’s undoubtedly a very difficult situation – hundreds of thousands are suffering – and our sympathies and support and duas as a Muslim must be with the people of Aleppo. May Almighty Allah bring them out of this situation.
However, the problem is when we want to pray for those in East Aleppo and not in the West. Or even mention millions of Yemenis who suffer – their suffering is nothing less than the people of Aleppo.
And the suffering in Kashmir is also not small in any way – at the hands of the Indian army. But Muslim leaders award “royal awards” to Indian Prime Minister when he visited them.
And we forget the real issue hidden under every conflict of this ummah and that is the issue of Palestine and we provide cover for Israel to continue their atrocities behind the curtain of our selective cry.
And to help them we convert the conflicts to sectarian understanding and interpretation – so in Aleppo we say Shia are killing Sunnis!
We don’t look at who brought this misery to Aleppo which was a thriving city with a thriving economy and magnificent beauty which has all been reduced to ruins.
Who did this?
Why do people now ask the whole world to pray while Aleppo is under bombardment of Russia and Syria – but when terrorists captured Aleppo, did they even allow the supporters of their opposition to leave the city? Nay, they executed them in roads of Aleppo and posted these videos on Youtube proudly proclaiming “we did it – we sorted out the Rafidha!”
Today when Aleppo is freed and the real people of Aleppo want freedom – you want protection for the terrorists – and it’s granted to them – just yesterday thousands left with their arms and families to very soon cause atrocities in a new venue.
Does prosperity return to Aleppo under these terrorists?
The terrorists who also slaughtered people in Iraq, Mosul, Raqqa and elsewhere?
Looking at events in sectarian eyes leads to this disaster.
In this month of Prophet Muhammad (sawa), lets focus on being Muslim first in the manner in which we analyse the world that we live in.