Jumuah lecture on Friday 3 September 2021 (25 Muharram 1443)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) commands our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in verse 108 of Surah Yusuf (chapter 12 of the Holy Quran):
قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي ۖ وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
Say: This is my way: I call to Allah, I and those who follow me being certain, and glory be to Allah, and I am not one of the polytheists.
This verse of the Holy Quran carries a very clear message for us all, in that the strategy and methodology for Islamic propagation (Da’wah) and calling people towards Almighty Allah (SWT) should be based upon BASIRAT ie. clear vision, insight and foresight.
This term has been repeated in numerous verses of the Holy Quran, in various context. An example is the reference to people whose eyes have vision (Mubsiratin) or guidance for the people of Basirat (ulil absar).
Basirat is derived from Baseer, which is a name of Almighty Allah (SWT). It is a very important condition for conveying the message of Almighty Allah (SWT) to the people, and for the establishment of His religion. That is why we see that the Holy Quran greatly emphasizes on this aspect of Basirat.
KEY DISTINCTION BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE (ILM) AND FORESIGHT (BASIRAT)
Knowledge is different to Basirat. Knowledge is being able to distinguish theoretically between right and wrong, good and bad, truth and false. This is ilm (knowledge). However, Basirat is the ability to understand good and bad in its reality.
This means that knowledge defines the theoretical good and bad, whereas Basirat shows you the practical good and bad! This is such a crucial point!
It may be that people are great scholars, but they do not understand the practical reality of challenges at the grassroots level ie. the ground realities. That results in them making huge mistakes and falling into the trap of Satan and the enemies of Islam, while they think that are doing a great service for Islam!
BASIRAT = Clear vision, insight, deep analysis and foresight!
This subject of Basirat is extremely detailed and is achieved based on Taqwa (God-consciousness), a pure heart and deep knowledge of the subject matter. Basirat expects one to be able to understand the conditions and challenges of the time, and to appropriately promote the religion of Islam and convey the message of Allah (SWT) to the people with full insight into what will work best under the prevailing circumstances in society.
BASIRAT EXPLAINED THROUGH HADITH NARRATIONS FROM THE AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
There is no set formula when it comes to Islamic propagation (Da’wah). Da’wah can only be effective with a clear understanding of the challenges in society taking into account the dynamics and demographics of the society in which you live. Otherwise, the reverse effect could result, whereby instead of people being invited towards religion, they may easily run away from religion!
There is a very beautiful Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA):
“How often is it that the carrier of the message of religion carries the message to a recipient more knowledgeable than the carrier?!”
What Rasulullah (SAWA) is saying here is that sometimes, those people who are supposedly knowledgeable are just carriers, but they deliver the message to a recipient who understands it much deeper than the carrier. This is similar to the recipient of a package having deeper understanding of the contents of a package being delivered than the carrier!
There are so many Hadith narrations from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his holy Ahlul Bait (a.s) which explain the critical need to be able to assess the most practically expedient approach to Islamic propagation, based on the needs and challenges prevalent in the society.
There is a Hadith from our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), where he explains that someone who knows the disagreements amongst the people is not oppressed. This is very deep! Basically, what Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) is saying is that those people who can understand differences of opinion and appreciate diversity of approaches in society and can act upon them effectively can never be oppressed as nobody can exploit them!
Similarly, there is a Hadith from our 7th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s), where he says that the weak person is the one who does not understand differences, and vice versa!
This is the difference between simply being a scholar and those who have deep foresight and visionary thinking (Basirat).
BASIRAT OF IMAM ZAINUL ABIDEEN (A.S) TAKES HIM ON A DIFFERENT STRATEGY TO IMAM HUSAIN (A.S)
Today, 25th Muharram, we commemorate the martyrdom of our 4th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), the son of Imam Husain (a.s). Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is the best example of Basirat, displaying visionary leadership and a clear long-term understanding of what is in the best interests of Islam and the divine message.
As we all know, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was present in the tragedy of Karbala and underwent the most difficult hardship, having lived in the most difficult times under the vicious, despotic and barbaric rulers of Bani Umayyah who had absolutely no mercy for anyone connected to the Ahlul Bait (a.s), to the point where they would be summarily executed for even having a remote, distant connection to this noble family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
It is in this era where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) clearly understood the challenges of his time, and with his vision adopted a different position than his father, Imam Husain (a.s). This is truly amazing to understand, that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) took a very different strategy, in order to preserve the message of the eternal sacrifice from the tragedy of Karbala.
What is interesting to note is that even though the strategies of Imam Husain (a.s) and Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) were different, they were all for the same purpose ie. to save Islam from distortion and deviation!
APPROACH OF IMAM ZAINUL ABIDEEN (A.S) TOWARDS THE UPRISINGS AFTER THE TRAGEDY OF KARBALA
During the time of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), there were two notable revolutionary Shi’i movements which emerged in the aftermath to the tragedy of Karbala. Their objective was to take revenge for the blood of Imam Husain (a.s), along with his loyal companions, spilled mercilessly on the plains of Karbala on the tragic day of 10th Muharram 61AH.
These two movements were led by senior followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) at the time. The one movement was the Tawwabin, led by Sulayman ibn Surad Khuzai, and the second movement we are all familiar with, namely the uprising of Mukhtar.
They sacrificed everything to avenge for the blood of Imam Husain (a.s). However, what is interesting to note is that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) did not support these two movements – at least not openly. We do not find any clear evidence in historical records indicating that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) even supported them indirectly, despite them fighting for the revenge of what happened at Karbala.
Afterwards, when Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) heard of what Mukhtar did and how he exercised revenge on the killers of Imam Husain (a.s) and the martyrs of Karbala, he made dua for Mukhtar. That’s about it really. What is very clear is that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was not actively behind them. The big question is WHY?
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) realized with his deep insight and Basirat, and fully understood how to save the message of the eternal sacrifice of Karbala and how to take care of this extremely small group of followers of pure and pristine Islam from being completely crushed and wiped off the map.
In fact, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) once made a startling revelation that there was nothing more than a handful of truly loyal, committed followers of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) in Madina at the time. Despite this isolation, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) with his visionary leadership, insight and wisdom could manage to steer this ship through stormy oceans and was successful in saving Islam and the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), together with the greater values of Islam.
IMAM MUSA SADR – VISIONARY LEADER OF SHIA MUSLIM IDENTITY IN LEBANON
Along this line of discussion on Basirat, I wish to introduce you all to a truly outstanding personality of our time by the name of Imam Musa Sadr. Unfortunately, our society is not aware of this great personality, but I think he is such an ideal example for the verse 108 of Surah Yusuf (chapter 12 of the Holy Quran) which I opened this khutbah (sermon) with.
Imam Musa Sadr was born in Qom, Iran in 1928. He was the son of a grand Marja (grand spiritual authority) at the time, namely Sadr al-Din al-Sadr. He was ethnically Lebanese but was born in Qom and completed his early stages of education there as well, before migrating to Najaf for further Islamic studies.
Imam Musa Sadr was also a notable student of our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a), who proudly proclaimed that he raised him (Imam Musa Sadr). His academic stature was beyond any doubt as a Mujtahid ie. he was at the academic level where he held his own opinion on Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) and social issues.
Imam Musa Sadr then migrated to Lebanon in the late 1950s ie. his ancestral homeland. Interestingly, he did not even have a Lebanese passport when he migrated to Lebanon! It was the President of Lebanon at the time who intervened to grant him Lebanese citizenship, as he held Iranian citizenship until then.
Imam Musa Sadr entered Lebanon as an Islamic leader, since he achieved the highly respected academic stature as being regarded as a Mujtahid.
IMAM MUSA SADR CONVERTED A CORRUPT SHIA SOCIETY INTO A HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL IDENTITY IN LEBANON
What is really very important for us to understand is what Imam Musa Sadr did when he migrated to Lebanon. He saw his own community, namely the Shia of Lebanon, in a completely forsaken position. He saw the Shia of Lebanon as being in the complete backend of Lebanese society, in the gutters, consumed in poverty, crime and corruption. This community was showing no progress.
Most of the girls were unfortunately involved in prostitution and debauchery, with the boys equally lost in corruption. Education and civil values were completely absent. This was the reality while the clergy were deeply occupied with their own spirituality and confined to their job at the mosque!
Imam Musa Sadr studied his own land and society. He very quickly realized that traditional preaching will not work in that society. He realized that he needs to uplift his society from the depths of moral bankruptcy to a position of dignity.
The work which Imam Musa Sadr did in the very short period of his life is enough to leave us spellbound. He prioritized uplifting the masses from the grassroots of society, even those who were not religious and drawn into all kinds of Haraam through the influence of Western lifestyle. Afterall, Beirut in those days was regarded as the centre of moral corruption in the Middle East!
IMAM MUSA SADR BROKE DOWN TRADITIONAL NORMS TO PENETRATE THE HEARTS OF THE MASSES
Against this backdrop, it is important to note that Imam Musa Sadr, being a Mujtahid born in Qom and studied in Najaf, wearing the traditional “uniform” of a Shia religious scholar, did not carry himself as “holier than thou”! He did not present himself as carrying superiority and unable to mix with those people who have lost their moral compass.
He broke down the traditional stereotypes which makes religious people uncomfortable for the irreligious to hang out with! For example, he used to go to the coffee shops and restaurants to meet ordinary people, in order to understand their plight.
This approach was seen as a taboo in the etiquette of religious circles, for a religious scholar of his rank to be socializing with people in coffee shops and restaurants! However, Imam Musa Sadr challenged this thinking, because he believed his work of uplifting society starts in these gatherings.
As a result, he started numerous organizations to uplift the masses. Through his Basirat, he very quickly realized that Lebanon is a multicultural society. He immediately noted that Lebanon is not Iran or Iraq, where the overwhelming majority of people are Muslim and also majority Shia Muslims.
He immediately realized that Lebanon is a country where his own community (Shia Muslims) is big, but there is an equally big Sunni Muslim population and an equally big Christian population.
IMAM MUSA SADR: ISLAMIC PROPAGATION DOES NOT COME WITH A ONE SIZE FITS ALL TEMPLATE!
Imam Musa Sadr very clearly understood the multicultural nature of this society and therefore decided from the first day of setting foot in Lebanon that he is not going to take the path of sectarianism, while he devoted himself and his service to Shia Muslims by uniting all the different Shia Muslim organizations and affiliations under the umbrella body named Islamic Shi’i Supreme Council in Lebanon.
It is clear that his purpose was the upliftment of the downtrodden Shia Muslims of Lebanon, to give them a strong identity and sense of dignity by establishing them as an integral part of Lebanon. He established all kinds of humanitarian organizations for this purpose, such as schools, orphanages, hostels, training programs, etc.
As noted a moment ago, Imam Musa Sadr established the Islamic Shi’i Supreme Council in Lebanon, where he was also the president. While Imam Musa Sadr did not hold any official government position in Lebanon, amazingly he enjoyed official protocols with the level of respect that the police and army naturally gave him. Example, they would stop and give way to him when he drove around in Lebanon!
The multicultural dynamic in Lebanon was also uppermost in Imam Musa Sadr’s mind, understanding that people with completely different approaches to life all live in the same society. This is so critical for us to understand, especially those who carry the pompous approach of absolutism! What a giant example Imam Musa Sadr is in breaking down this venomous scourge plaguing our society and the Muslim world!
IMAM MUSA SADR’S POPULARITY GREW AMONGST LEBANESE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
The traditional religious circles of Lebanon at the time were naturally critical of his visionary approach in unifying society by socializing at grassroots level. He once presented a lecture titled “Ali was a monotheist – and that’s it!” With this approach, Imam Musa Sadr decided to visit the church in February 1964 (I think that was the date).
This naturally created an uproar amongst the traditional clergy, challenging him what on earth is he doing as a Shia Muslim religious scholar of such high pedigree, visiting the church where trinity is preached! This was in the aftermath of the wars between Muslims and Christians which destroyed the fabric of Lebanon, where he took the position that we should open the channels of dialogue to honour diversity and establish peaceful coexistence.
The first lecture he gave in the Catholic Church of Lebanon was the opening sermon for the period of fasting they observe every year. Can you imagine, this Shia Muslim leader being given this huge platform in that society with its diverse demographic?!
After this, he received numerous invitations from different churches, because he spoke about the dignity of Insan (humanity) and that Islam came to give, and not to take!
IMAM MUSA SADR SHOWED PEOPLE THEIR REAL ENEMY IS ZIONIST ISRAEL
Imam Musa Sadr woke up the people of Lebanon into realizing who their real enemy is. He expressed to them the beauty of being multicultural, and the real enemy is Zionist Israel! He created an awakening in the people of Lebanon to realize that the real threat to their existence is Zionist Israel, and not amongst the diversity of Lebanon’s demographic composition!
The stance which Imam Musa Sadr took in support of the Palestinian cause is well noted. He took the position that the people of Lebanon cannot have a peaceful life if Israel is hanging on their heads! This was a most revolutionary position in changing people’s mindset to understand Israel as the source of all the evil, especially since Lebanese people at that time were looking up to Israel as an ideal, successful model.
Imam Musa Sadr established the Amal movement (Lebanese Resistance Forces) by bringing all the youth of Lebanon together to resist Israeli occupation and aggression. The truth and reality is that Imam Musa Sadr was the founder of Islamic resistance in Lebanon! Today, Amal and Hezbollah are two separate entities, which reflects the gradual trajectory, as Hezbollah was born from the Amal movement.
Imam Musa Sadr brought hope to the people. Despite Imam Musa Sadr establishing so much for the Shia of Lebanon so that they can have a prominent position in Lebanese society, he was seen as a hero and leader by people from all walks of life in Lebanon, because he was in the service of ALL.
IMAM MUSA SADR WENT MISSING IN LIBYA IN 1978 AND NEVER TO BE FOUND
Imam Musa Sadr gained in popularity internationally, through the position he took in support of the Palestinian cause. His goal was to bring the leadership of the Arab world together to resist Israel, and it is against this backdrop where he went totally missing 43 years ago during these early days of September.
What happened was that Imam Musa Sadr travelled to Libya along with two of his colleagues for the same purpose of the Palestinian cause. He was focused on meeting the Arab leadership to unite them against Zionism and the dangers of Israel.
It is recorded that he entered Libya and met a few people, but there is no record of what happened thereafter. 43 years have passed, and we are still none the wiser on how Imam Musa Sadr disappeared and what his current state is.
Only Almighty Allah (SWT) knows best what Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi did to this visionary leader, for which he is now in the bottomless pit of hell responsible for this heinous crime! This is where one becomes really surprised and shocked, quite frankly, when some people proudly name themselves by such dictators for their fake revolutionary face.
Imam Musa Sadr, with this visionary approach, served to uplift Lebanon. Even after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, they could not find any trace of where Imam Musa Sadr is or what happened to him. Gaddafi claimed that Imam Musa Sadr left Libya for his onward journey to Italy, yet there is no proof of his entry to Italy from any border. It is therefore commonly accepted that Imam Musa Sadr disappeared in Libya.
May Almighty Allah (SWT) bring him back to his people if he is still alive, nobody knows really…
In conclusion, I remind everyone to exhort towards Taqwa of Almighty Allah (SWT), and I once again remind everyone about Basirat. We beg from Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant us Basirat, so that we can understand the plans of enemies and to face the challenges of our society, to perform our duties as ambassadors of Islam in a manner that is fit for purpose, instead of copy and paste!
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