Lecture delivered by Brother Bashier Rahim at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid Complex on the birth anniversary celebration of 3rd Imam Husayn (a.s)
We praise Almighty Allah for granting us Tawfeeq to continue benefiting from the spiritual season having just completed the Holy Month of Rajab where the Mercy of Allah poured down upon us and now having started the Month of Shabaan wherein the Mercy of Allah remains abundantly available as a precursor to Holy Month of Ramadaan which is the climax of this spiritual season.
SHABAAN – MONTH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
This Month of Shabaan is known as the Month of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
And we see in it that historically it is a month of celebration of the birth anniversaries of 3 Holy Imams of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and other members of the broader Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Simultaneously we observe that there are no martyrdoms of the Infallibles recorded in this month as is the case in most of the other months of the Islamic Calendar.
So we uphold various of the Birth Anniversary celebrations of:
– Imam Husayn (a.s) on 3rd Shabaan,
– Abul Fadlil Abbas on 4th Shabaan,
– Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) on 5th Shabaan
– Qaasim, son of Imam Hassan (a.s) on 7th Shabaan
– Ali Akbar, son of Imam Husayn (a.s) on 11th Shabaan
– Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (a.s) on 15th Shabaan.
We extend our heartfelt congratulations on these auspicious occassions to the Imam of Our Time (a.s), to all his Rightful Representatives being the Maraji and Ulama and our National Leader and Guide Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider and to all of you lovers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) who are present here and listening online or reading this message afterwards.
We also seem to notice that all the auspicious birth anniversaries in this month is somehow linked back to Imam Husayn (a.s) due to their contribution in Karbala or its aftermath.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICES IN MONTH OF SHABAAN
In keeping with the great spirituality of this Month of Shabaan and it being a precursor to the Holy Month of Ramadaan, it has various highly recommended acts which we should pay close attention to.
There are at least 5 things to consider and actually take seriously during this month and not take lightly.
These 5 things are perhaps easy to do, but are heavy in weight at the same time and thus not worth losing out upon and just needs a little adjustment to our daily program to accomplish.
Firstly is the practise of fasting as much as possible during the Month of Shabaan, especially on Mondays and Thursdays, on the 13th,14th and 15th of Shabaan, the last 3 days of Shabaan and in fact as much as possible in this entire month.
Secondly is the practice of giving sadaqah or charity on a daily basis. Something small has a big impact as it’s a means of spiritual purification.
Thirdly is daily Istighfar or seeking forgiveness from Almighty Allah. It’s recommended daily to recite 70 times each:
استغفر الله و اسئله التوبة
And other forms of Istighfar
Fourthly is increased nawafil prayers of which there are various recommended ones.
And fifthly, reciting two of the most special duas for this month which are Salawaat Shabaniyah and Munajat Shabaniyah.
And then of course Quran each day, learning something each day, etc are always there as important recommended acts.
May Almighty Allah grant us Tawfeeq in this Month to at least take these recommendations seriously so we can develop ourselves to some extent Insha’allah.
INSCRIPTION ON RING OF IMAM HUSAYN (A.S)
The worldly birth of Imam Husayn (a.s) on a day like tomorrow brought immense joy to Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and His Household.
But we also know it was the strangest celebration as it was accompanied by sadness because of the simultaneous prophesy of how the life of this new born baby Husayn (a.s) would end one day.
Most of us by now are familiar with narrations about events around his birth and his naming and birth rites and upbringing by Prophet Muhammad (sawa), Imam Ali (a.s), Lady Fatima a.s, etc.
But even though this is the start of his wordly life, Imam Husayn (a.s)’s vision was always focused on the end of his life.
That’s a very important point that I would like us to focus on tonight and hopefully benefit from.
If we fast forward for a moment to the end of the life of Imam Husayn (a.s) we know that many unthinkable unsavory things was done to him personally.
Among the unsavory things that was done to him after his martyrdom was that one of the things that he was robbed of was the ring on his finger.
Ayatullah Baqir Sharif Qurashi who wrote biographies of the various Imams also wrote a biography of Imam Husayn (a.s).
One of the points he makes in this detailed book was that Imam Husayn (a.s) during his life had two rings he used to wear and that he was robbed of one of his rings after his martyrdom.
Both rings used to have something inscribed on it, but the one that he was robbed of had the following inscription upon it:
“There is no God except Allah, prepare to meet Allah”.
This is a very interesting inscription that Imam Husayn (a.s) had on his ring that captured one of THE most important daily reminders that one should have.
CONCEPT OF LIQA-ULLAH
In the science of Akhlaq there is a detailed discussion about the concept of Liqa-ullah or “meeting Allah”.
And since there’s a link in the life of Imam Husayn (a.s) and the Month of Shabaan to this concept of Liqa-ullah or meeting Allah, I would like to make some brief comments about it.
If anyone wants a detailed understanding of this topic, then they have to refer to the books of our ulama. Imam Khomeini for example recommends reading the detailed work of his teacher, the great mystic, Ayatullah Mirza Jawadi Maliki Tabrizi who wrote a detailed book called Risalah Liqa-ullah.
At the same time you find scholars who essentially brush this topic aside in terms of any detailed discussion as they believe the idea of meeting Allah is reserved for the next world when we die.
But like I just demonstrated there are Ulama who take the opposite approach and go into depth on the issue.
EVERYONE WILL MEET ALLAH
So what is the relevance of wanting to highlight this topic? Why even refer to it? Isn’t it obvious that we will meet Allah?
The answer is that our approach to this issue has a major effect on how we will approach our life. It is possibly one of THE most important issues to ponder upon deeply.
The Quran and Ahadith make reference to this concept in very interesting ways directly or indirectly. And our comprehension of this concept and commitment to it can change our life completely.
Firstly the Quran clearly informs us in different ways that everyone will meet Allah.
In Surah Inshiqaq Verse 6:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ
“O man! Surely you are ever striving on towards your Lord; painfully striving, until you meet Him.”
This is inevitable whether we like it or not. According to the Quran, we will meet Almighty Allah.
Of course this meeting for all is in the next life.
But this inevitable event is from Allah’s perspective.
From our perspective, the Quran informs us that human beings have different approaches to this inevitability.
THOSE WHO DOUBT MEETING ALLAH
In different parts of the Quran there are numerous references to the signs of Allah which are meant to be the foundation upon which the reality of meeting Allah is based.
At the end of Surah Fussilat in Verse 53 we read:
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّی يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ
“We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest/clear to them that this [the Qur’an] is the Truth.”
With all the clarity about the truth of the Quran and it’s messsge which includes the idea of meeting Allah, there remain those who doubt the very idea of Meeting Allah at all, irrespective of the truth of the Quran and all the signs before them.
Thus the next verse says:
أَلا إِنَّهُمْ فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِنْ لِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ
“Know that they are in doubt concerning the Meeting with their Lord”.
So there’s one group of people who live their life in complete doubt about whether this meeting with Almighty Allah will even take place.
And in the life of Imam Husayn (a.s) he had to deal with this group of people who were even supposedly outwardly Muslim but doubted meeting Almighty Allah one day.
For many people in reality, they will just rock up for this meeting against their own wishes and will have no clue regarding what the meeting is about, what is its agenda, what are we meant to present there, what will we be questioned about, what will cause the meeting to go smoothly, etc. Such people will simply arrive there completely lost.
MEETING ALLAH REFERS TO HEREAFTER
But from a Quranic perspective there are human beings who have a second view of the meaning of Liqa-ullah and that is the idea that they will actually meet Almighty Allah, but that such meeting will occur in the Hereafter.
Such people are described as actually having hope in this meeting actually taking place.
In Surah Ankabut Verse 5 we read:
مَن كَانَ يَرْجُواْ لِقَآءَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ لأَتٍ
“Whoever hopes to meet Allah, (knows that) the term (appointed) by Allah is surely coming”.
These people know there’s an appointed date and time, but might not know exactly when it is, but would be mentally ready for that meeting anytime.
Imam Ali (a.s) indicates that Liqa-ullah refers to the Hereafter itself.
Then Allamah Tabatabai explains in Tafsir al-Mizan why Liqa-ullah refers to the Hereafter itself is because in that realm of existence, the servants of Allah will be set in a state that there will be no curtain between them and their Lord, because the nature of the Hereafter Day is that the realities and facts of everything is manifest which includes Allah’s Reality will be manifest.
As a result of this manifestation, everyone will meet Allah in the Hereafter as the veils are removed in that real.
So what does meeting Allah mean?
It means being in a position or state wherein you are able to envision through your heart the Divine Names of Beauty and Majesty of Almighty Allah.
STRIVING TO MEET ALLAH IN THIS LIFE
Most genuine Muslims at the very least believe in this idea of meeting Allah in the next world.
An important point to note is that the inscription on the ring of Imam Husayn (a.s) doesn’t say “Meet Allah” but it says “Prepare to Meet Allah”.
Meeting Allah and preparing to meet Allah are two very different concepts.
Meeting Allah at least has in it the belief that the meeting will occur.
But preparing to meet Allah has in it the idea that the meeting will have consequences.
Now the question is whether such a meeting with Allah – wherein you envision the Divine Names of Beauty and Majesty – whether such a meeting is limited to the next world or can occur in this world.
And the answer is that as far as the entire humanity is concerned, such meeting will at least occur in the next world.
BUT based upon verses of the Quran and Ahadith of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) we learn that it can occur in this world and life as well.
We just commemorated Miraj of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) last week. And we know in relation to Miraj that the Quran says in Surah Najm Verse 8-9:
ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّى
“Then he approached and came closer,
فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى
And was at a distance of two bows length or closer”
What kind of meeting was this that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) had with Allah?
And he then comes back and says to us:
الصلاة معراج المؤمن
Salaah is the ascension of the believer….what happened in the ascension? A meeting with Allah took place.
And then what about this amazing Munajat Shabaniyah that we recited tonight.
Possibly the most famous extract from it is the part which says:
اِلَهِي هَبْ لِي كَمَالَ الانْقِطَاعِ إلَيْكَ وَأَنِرْ أَبْصَارَ قُلُوبِنَا بِضِيَاءِ نَظَرِهَا إلَيْكَ حَتَّى تَخْرِقَ أَبْصَارُ القُلُوبِ حُجُبَ النُّورِ فَتَصِلَ إلَى مَعْدِنِ العَظَمَةِ وَتَصِيرَ أَرْوَاحُنَا مُعَلَّقَةً بِعِزِّ قُدْسِكَ
“My God, grant me the utmost absorption in Thee and illuminate the vision of our hearts with the light of Thy Vision, until the sight of the hearts can penetrate the curtains of light and reach the source of Greatness and until our spirits get anchored to the threshold of Thy Sanctity.”
This Munajat Shabaniyah is narrated to have been recited by all the Imams.
Now if the meeting of Allah can only occur in the next world where the veils are removed irrespective of whether one is a believer or not, why is there this dua to penetrate the veils of Light if it can’t occur in this life or if it’s inevitably going to happen in the next life irrespective of us requesting it?
And there are other extracts of Duas and Ahadith that further support this idea that meeting Allah is possible in this life.
And even more – it can occur to anyone of us – we should never think it’s not in our reach as that will break our attempts to try.
PREPARATION TO MEET ALLAH
So the ring of Imam Husayn (a.s) says:
“There is no God except Allah, prepare to meet Allah”.
What is that preparation that is required to meet Allah?
The last verse of Surah Kahf which is verse 110 has a message in it which the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) says something very interesting about this verse. The hadith says:
“If only the last verse of Surah Al-Kahf were revealed to my community, it would be sufficient for them.”
The contents of this verse is enough in essence to focus your attention on. And part of the contents relates to the meaning of what is inscribed on the ring of Imam Husayn (a.s).
Verse 110 of Surah Kahf says:
قُلْ إِنَّمَآ أَنَاْ بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَي إلَيَّ أَنَّمَآ إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا لِقَآءَ رَبّـِهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلاً صَالِحاً وَلا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبّـِهِ أَحَداً
“Say: ‘I am only a mortal like you. It is revealed unto me that your God is (only) One God. Therefore, whoever hopes to meet his Lord let him do righteousness, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.”
The verse talks about Tauheed.
The verse speaks about Prophethood.
The verse speaks about meeting Allah which for everyone at least is in the Hereafter….so that’s the third element of Aqeedah.
But then it informs us that whoever wants to meet Allah and experience that envisioning of His Divine Names must do 2 things:
– he must do righteous deeds
– which must NOT be mixed with any form of shirk.
And this is possibly our greatest stumbling block. When our good deeds are not wrapped in Ikhlaas and sincerity – it is mixed with minor shirk!
When our good deeds are polluted with ulterior motives it is mixed with minor shirk.
When our good deeds are meant to serve our ego it is mixed with minor shirk.
That is when meeting Allah in this worldly life is not possible.
WE ALL SERVE THE GRAND PLAN OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH
Does it matter to Almighty Allah if we are doubtful about meeting Him, or if we are not interested to prepare to meet Him or if we actually sincerely work hard to meet Him?
The answer is not in the least. It does not matter to Almighty Allah what route we individually take.
Our disinterest in meeting Him affects us and not Him and we should be aware of this important point too.
Therefore, whether we prepare to meet Allah or don’t prepare to meet Allah, we are the beneficiaries or the losers and don’t affect His grand plan at all.
In fact if we are disinterested to meet Allah or even doubt to meet Allah or even think we are working against His Will, everyone serves the Grand Plan of Almighty Allah.
And because this is the case, why not serve His Grand Plan by being beneficiaries at the same time.
Why serve the Grand Plan of Almighty Allah but individually suffer in the process?
THIS is a critical counter balancing reminder to preparing to meet Allah.
And thus based upon what the narration states it seems that Imam Husayn (a.s) carried this second reminder with him all the time as it was inscribed on the second ring that he used to wear with the following words:
“Surely Allah attains His Purpose”
That will happen whether we positively contribute to it or negatively contribute to it. His purpose will be achieved.
The only question is:
What did we achieve??
I will leave you with a thought and some personal reading and that is that the last verse of Surah Kahf gives us the foundational principles of meeting Allah.
But go home and read and analyze the beautiful meaning of the details of Salawaat Shabaniyah to see how these principles are expanded upon.
May Almighty Allah grant us Tawfeeq to have deeper Marifah of our Holy Imams and of this month of Shabaan Insha’allah.
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