Being the most significant of the majalis, a number of items preceded Moulana Sayed Aftab Haider’s lecture this evening. A recitation of passages from the Holy Qur’an was followed by recitals of latmiyyah (lamentation poetry) in English and Urdu by members of the community, namely Mehrdad Ghazi-Asgar, Abbas Jafferi, Ihsan Africa, Ebrahim Smith and Abu Bakr Diedericks.
Thereafter Shaykh Shaheed Mathee, who often deputizes for Moulana Aftab, addressed the congregation. Shaykh’s talk focused on the link between the Hadith al-Kisa and Imam Husayn’s sacrifice at Karbala. Shaykh pointed out that the interplay between the seeking of Allah’s pleasure as well as pain shines through at Karbala. He said that Hadith al-Kisa shows us that optimism and pain are not mutually exclusive. Going through each line of the hadith, Shaykh concluded that Sayyidah Fatima’s house carried the pain and optimism of the entire world and that this was best manifested at Karbala.
Moulana Aftab Haider’s discussion was focused on the meaning of the Qur’anic Surah (chapter) al-Kauthar in relation to Sayyidah Fatima Zahra (AS), Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Husayn (AS).
Moulana introduced his discussion by quoting Surah al-Kauthar wherein Allah (SWT) says,
إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ
“Verily we have rewarded you with al-Kauthar
So pray for the pleasure of your Lord and offer sacrifice.
Indeed your enemy is without any offspring”. (108:1)
Providing some background to the Surah, Moulana said that it was revealed as a response to the accusations levelled against the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) by his enemies. The accusation was that due to him (SAWA) not having a surviving son, his legacy will not be continued.
Moulana then went on to define the term al-Kauthar, saying that in Arabic it refers to “abundance”. He added that according to the scholars of tafsir (exegesis), it refers to “abundance of good”. After presenting the popular view that al-Kauthar was a pool in paradise for the Prophet (SAWA), Moulana outlined the Shi’ah understanding of al-Kauthar – one that points to the centrality of Sayyidah Fatima (AS) in the overall mission of Rasoolallah (SAWA).
Moulana said that in the society at the time, people believed that no offspring can come through daughters. He pointed out that the Qur’an came to challenge this idea which was degrading to women. Moulana said that in response to this attitude, Allah (SWT) said to the Prophet (SAWA) in Surah al-Kauthar, that he (SAWA) has been granted a “source of plenty” or “abundance” in the form of Sayyidah Fatima Zahra (AS). Linking this particular point to the idea of offspring, Moulana said that from this one particular daughter (AS), descendants of the Holy Prophet have spread across the world. Moulana added that Sayeds are honoured all over the world.
Moulana then situated this reference to Sayyidah Fatima in a much more meaningful context. Moulana asserted that Fatima (AS) is not only a source of biological offspring for the Prophet (SAWA), but is a source of all the good that exists in his ummah. Moulana said that Fatima (AS) reached the status about which the Prophet (SAWA) said, “Fatima is part of me. Whoever hurts her, hurts me”. He added that when the Prophet (SAWA) refers in Hadith al-Kisa to the ahlul Kisa or Panjatan Paak, he referred to them with reference to their relation to Fatima (AS).
Moulana then pointed out that the connection between Nubuwwah (Prophethood) and Wilayah (Mastership) is Fatima (AS). Linking this understanding of al-Kauthar to Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn, Moulana added that with the meeting of Imam Ali (AS) and Sayyidah Fatima (AS) came “two pearls of al-Risaalah (the message), namely al-Hassan and al-Husayn”. Moulana said that when Allah (SWT) in Surah al-Kauthar asked the Holy Prophet (SAWA) to perform the prayers and to sacrifice, Allah was referring to the prayers and sacrifices of Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn. Moulana asserted that Allah (SWT) desired an eternal prayer and sacrifice.
Moulana then went on to emphasize that the sacrifices of Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn were the sacrifices of the Prophet (SAWA). Drawing on the perspective of the classical Indian Sunni polemicist, Muhaddith al-Dehlawi, Moulana said that Allah (SWT) granted the Prophet (SAWA) two martyrdoms – a “secret” martyrdom and an “open” martyrdom. Moulana said that the secret martyrdom was that of Imam Hassan (AS) which was through poisoning. The open martyrdom was that which Imam Husayn (AS) achieved on the battlefield. Moulana asserted that it is for this reason that the Holy Prophet (SAWA) said, “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”. Moulana stated that the martyrdom of Imam Husayn was in fact the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet (SAWA).
Moulana drew his discussion to a close by underlining the unique nature of Imam Husayn’s movement at Karbala. Moulana said that at Karbala every aspect of Islam and humanity were present in the most beautiful manner. With regards to Islam, he said that at Karbala the essence of Tawhid, love, akhlaq, jihad and revolution were underlined. On the level of humanity, Moulana said that at Karbala, the full diversity of people were present in Imam’s camp. Moulana stated that in South Lebanon, Hizbollah could only achieve victory over Israel because of this unique legacy of Karbala.
Moulana concluded with a heart-rending narration of the last moments and martyrdom of Imam Husayn’s infant in the arms of his father, Ali al-Asghar. The ‘aza was followed by the recital and performance of the ma’tam. The ma’tam was performed outside of the centre, with the flags of Abu Fadl al-Abbas blowing in the wind.
The majlis was broadcasted live on a Cape Town Muslim radio station, Radio 786. The South African national television crew were also present at the majlis, recording parts thereof for SABC3’s weekly television program, al-Nur.