Jumuah lecture on Friday 8 February 2019 (2 Jamadi-ul-Thani 1440) by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town.
In this sacred hour of Jumuah, I would like to remind myself and all of you about Taqwa of Almighty Allah (SWT) – to be conscious, aware, and on guard about our responsibilities and obligations in this life, which highlights our sense of accountability before our creator, Almighty Allah (SWT).
Now, one of the main responsibilities we have before our creator Almighty Allah (SWT), is to stand for justice and to support the oppressed. The Holy Quran makes it very clear in various verses, that it is the prime responsibility of a Muslim and Mu’min to stand for justice. Silence and indifference is not accepted, as it is regarded as co-operation with injustice and oppression.
QURANIC VERSES EMPHASIZING JUSTICE
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 135 of Surah Nisa (chapter 4 of the Holy Quran):
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِنْ يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَنْ تَعْدِلُوا ۚ وَإِنْ تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
“O you who believe! be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do.”
Now, this particular verse refers to the issue of justice as it pertains to witnesses in the court of law ie. that we should be just when we take the witness box in court. Your family relationship, friendship or the financial status of the person should not influence you. So, when you stand in the witness box in court, you should only fear Almighty Allah (SWT) and your only concern must be justice and speaking the truth.
However, this is only one example. It does not limit the responsibility of a Muslim to be just and truthful in the courtroom only. It is a general principle, that in whatever society you live, your responsibility and obligation is to stand for justice.
In another verse, namely verse 8 of Surah Maa’ida (chapter 5 of the Holy Quran), we see that Almighty Allah (SWT) once again repeats:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا
“O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably.”
Again, we note the great emphasis on justice in this verse, and the emphasis on taking a firm stand for justice. The earlier verse cited talks about friendship and family relations should not affect or influence you against speaking the truth and standing for what is just.
In this verse of Surah Maa’ida, the exact opposite is mentioned! Sometimes, the animosity of the people influences you, namely, you speak badly or unjustly about a certain group of people whom you do not enjoy good relations with.
So, sometimes, friendships, relationships, or love causes injustice, and sometimes animosity causes injustice!
QURAN CHALLENGES OUR CONSCIENCE ON JUSTICE
The responsibility for speaking truth and standing for justice is a great responsibility, and it does not only apply in the courtroom. It applies equally importantly in the society you live in. There are other verses of the Holy Quran which makes this point even more clear. For example, verse 75 of Surah Nisaa (chapter 4 of the Holy Quran):
وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَلْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَلْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ نَصِيرًا
“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
So, this verse presents a challenge, asking why we do not strive for the sake of the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and for those who are oppressed ie. made weak through being forced to accept injustice and oppression (Mustad’afeen).
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) – THE PINNACLE OF JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST SOCIETY
Striving for justice and supporting the oppressed is one basic spirit and message of the Holy Quran. Similarly, this is the principle character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). He established himself as committed to standing for justice and supporting the oppressed even before he announced his Prophethood.
In that horrible Jahiliyya (ignorant) society of Mecca where women, children and weaker population of society were targeted for being taken advantage of and attacked, we see that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) came along with a few people and made a pact called Hilf al-Fudul. This was before he established Islam.
This pact established that if any woman, child, old person, vulnerable or weak person were to be attacked, they were to be sure that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) will stand to defend and support them. This pact therefore established that injustice will no longer prevail in society. A number of good people in this terrible society got together and committed themselves to this pledge known as Hilf al-Fudul.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was very proud of establishing this Hilf al-Fudul, that he upheld this pact even after establishing the Islamic system of governance, thereby reaffirming the confidence of the people in justice, by committing to support the weak and vulnerable in society through this pact. This is the spirit of Islam!
Indeed, this is important and crucial in the circle of Muslims but it is in no way confined to Muslims. It is equally important even in the broader society where non-Muslims have been oppressed and injustice has been committed against them.
The verses noted above and further supporting evidence from Hadith narrations (which are numerous) make it abundantly clear that when we refer to the oppressed, it cuts across all religious denominations and ethnic background of the oppressed.
In that well-known will of Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali (a.s) to his children Imam Hassan (a.s) and Imam Hussain (a.s), we read that he starts with advising his children to observe Taqwa of Almighty Allah (SWT) and discipline in their affairs. It is on this point where Imam Ali (a.s) commands us to always be in the opposition camp of the oppressor and in the camp of support for the oppressed.
This is the prime responsibility in society for a Mu’min and Muslim, and follower of the Holy Quran and Sunnah, and Ahlul Bait (a.s), to stand for justice and be in the camp of the oppressed; speaking out for the truth as silence and indifference is not acceptable.
Indeed, in our own society, it is our responsibility to speak out about injustice and stand against oppression and injustice committed. Those who stood firmly with this principle understood that Quranic spirit in their character.
Standing for justice, and standing with the oppressed is the prime responsibility of a Muslim, and it is an even greater responsibility when you are a religious leader, as you are expected to be in the service of the Holy Quran, Prophetic Sunnah and the comprehensive teachings of Islam.
50 YEAR COMMEMORATION OF THE MARTYRDOM OF SHAHEED IMAM ABDULLAH HARON
Unfortunately, it very sad to note that this particular category, namely the clergy, has often shunned this responsibility. In these days, there are commemorations taking place, 50 years after the martyrdom of a great scholar from our community, Shaheed Imam Abdullah Haron.
This man stands out amongst the rest, as he understood the Holy Quran and teachings of Islam and the Prophetic Sunnah in a manner where he felt so deeply responsible towards justice. This man believed that indifference and silence is co-operation with oppression!
Many of you know about him better than I do, but I can very clearly say that this man has that conscience and spirit which the Holy Quran instils in us, and which our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) challenges us towards standing for justice individually or together as a community.
The approach of this great man is amazing, in that he did not look at the oppressed people of this nation as second class by virtue of them not being Muslim. His approach was not one of nonchalance as a result of this unjust system of Apartheid, which was ruling on society, not affecting our Muslim community so much directly. He did not question why should he be in the frontline.
Quite the contrary! He rose above this all and could think in the line and direction of the Holy Quran, which calls for us to stand for justice, and justice is not a condition to any religion, sect, race or nation.
He understood that very spirit of the message of Islam, where racism is not acceptable, as it is a crime and quite frankly a curse. He stood firmly for this. May the mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) be upon him and may Almighty Allah (SWT) make his personality and his message to be inspiring for others, where it brings the religious leadership into the realm of playing a responsible role in society where they challenge injustice and evil, without remaining silent or trying to please people.
Today, the world is filled with injustice and oppression. Our own society is not absolved. While it may not be in the form which is evident from tyrannical regimes, we see that injustice and oppression is still being perpetrated in its worst forms. Examples are violence against women and children, and similarly the whole unjust economic order ruling over us, which keeps access to wealth and resources limited to certain classes and groupings. These are all different forms of injustice.
Our responsibility is to speak out!
ELECTION DAY IS ANNOUNCED – 8 MAY 2019
We heard our president Cyril Ramaphosa speaking the other day, trying to address a number of the challenges which our country is facing. We hope and prayer that may Almighty Allah (SWT) grant the leadership of this country that wisdom and character, and quality of Akhlaq and transparency to genuinely serve the oppressed and most vulnerable in our society.
Also, one of the most important announcements was 8 May being Election Day. We will discuss what our role is regarding this important day, in forthcoming Jumuah Khutbahs. Indeed, voting is a very crucial responsibility!
Now that the date for Election Day has been announced, we will see political parties out in full force trying to exploit and fool people with their promises. This will most definitely be there. The question is – how will we fulfil this Amaanah to our society and our country. This is the very, very serious challenge!
BARBARIC KILLING OF 6 YEAR OLD CHILD IN MADINA
I would like to draw your attention to that terrible incident which occurred a few days ago in Madina, where a 6 year old child was snatched from his mother while they were in a taxi. The taxi driver dragged this boy to a café and took a glass bottle and broke it on this child, slitting the throat of this boy!
This occurred in Madina, the city of Rahmatan lil Aalameen!
The crime of this boy was that he was Shia! This is the depths of despair we find ourselves in today. There are no words to appropriately condemn this horrible crime, with the mother witnessing her son being slaughtered before her!
This reminds us about the injustice and oppression committed against the family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) ie. his holy Ahlul Bait (a.s), and their followers until today. The heinous crimes committed against them continues.
THESE ARE THE DAYS OF FATIMIYYAH
In these days, we remember the martyrdom of the leader of the women of Jannah, Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), the daughter of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
We reflect on how difficult it was for her to live after the passing of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). We reflect on why she lived such a short life (only a few months) after the passing away of Rasulullah (SAWA). We reflect on why she was so deeply affected, so much so that she would say:
“Oh my father, after your passing, calamities fell upon me, which would have made mountains crumble to powder, and would have made bright days change to dark nights!”
What calamities was she referring to? This lady, who is the symbol of resistance against injustice, wanted to say to the world that we should shout for our rights! She did, and she paid a heavy price for it, but she did not keep quiet. She challenged the society by asking where they are going while the Book of Almighty Allah (SWT) is amongst them, and the teachings of her father are in-between them, while they are turning away to answer the Satanic whispers.
This was the call of Lady Fatima (s.a)! The 2 nights of programs commemorating her martyrdom can be sourced through these links:
- Background of Khutbah Fadakiyya of Lady Fatima (a.s)
- Analysis of Khutbah Fadakiyya
The other very important issue which we did not get time to discuss today is the 40th Anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The live broadcast of this program can be sourced through this link: