EID UL ADHA
Friday 31 July 2020 (10 Dhul Hijja 1441)
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
First of all, I would like to extend my congratulations to the whole Ummah (nation) of Islam on this auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant blessings and goodness to this Muslim nation on this great day, as we read in the Qunoot of Eid:
اَسْاَلُكَ بِحَقِّ هٰذَا الْيَوْمِ الَّذِی جَعَلْتَه لِلْمُسْلِمِيْنَ عِيْدًا
‘I ask You in the name of this day which You have ordained as a day of happiness for the Muslims
وَلِمُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ ذُخْراً وَ كَرَامَةً وَ شَرَفًا وَمَزِيْداً
And to be safety and increasing honour for Muhammad—peace of Allah be upon him and his Household’
Indeed, this is a very different Eid. Eid-ul-Adha is normally with a great feeling of pride. This is beyond pleasure and happiness, feast and celebration. Rather, Eid-ul-Adha is with the sense of pride and power, reflecting upon the greatness of this Ummah where we celebrate Eid here in our towns and cities, but we are connected to that global gathering of the Ummah in Mecca along with the united call of millions chanting:
Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk.
Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa shareeka lak
“Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am.
Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner.”
We are not there, but our hearts and sense of pride is there with those on Hajj. For the whole world, it is a movement of grandeur of this Ummah (nation) of Islam. Unfortunately, this year’s Eid is void from that feeling. Normally, we are tracking the progression of those on Hajj through the various stages on a real-time basis. Unfortunately, it is not there for this year’s Eid-ul-Adha.
EID-UL-ADHA REMINDS US OF TRIUMPH THROUGH SACRIFICE
Eid-ul-Adha is one of test. This is when Almighty Allah (SWT) tested Nabi Ibrahim (a.s). This year, Almighty Allah (SWT) is testing the whole Ummah (Muslim nation) in a very unique way, whereby we are not able to perform this great act of worship (Ibadah) and pillar of our religion, namely Hajj, in the manner prescribed.
Indeed, it is very much heart-breaking. That being said, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the season of Hajj in this way also has its own silver lining of blessings and goodness (barakah and khair). Indeed, we are being tested to review ourselves and rethink the impact and gravity of the great institution of Hajj not being with us this year.
This year is a reminder to us that with all our pride, arrogance and over-confidence in technological advancement and human capacity, we are surrendered before the will of Almighty Allah (SWT). This is basically the greatest lesson of Hajj ie. surrender before Almighty Allah (SWT).
HAJJ IS THE ALL-INCLUSIVE ACT OF WORSHIP
Hajj is an institution which is an “one-stop shop”, all-encompassing act of worship. If you want to summarize the message and teachings of Islam, you will find it in one Ibadah, namely Hajj! Of course, Islam fundamentally calls for worship of Almighty Allah (SWT) as One Creator ie. Tauheed. This is the first message of Islam, namely, to surrender to the message of their being One God and then you will be liberated.
There is no place better than Hajj to learn Tauheed and surrendering before Almighty Allah (SWT). The message of Islam is the message of Tauheed, and deep spirituality in this chapter of Tauheed. Love of Almighty Allah (SWT), and journeying towards Him through all the stations of Ma’rifat of Almighty Allah (SWT) and getting close to Him through passing each of these levels. This deep, inner aspect of Islam flourishes in Hajj.
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 50 of Surah Dhaariyat (chapter 51 of the Holy Quran):
فَفِرُّوا إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ إِنِّي لَكُمْ مِنْهُ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ
‘Therefore, fly to Allah, surely I am a plain warner to you from Him.’
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s), the 5th Imam of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), explains this verse by saying that the meaning of running towards Almighty Allah (SWT) is in direct reference to Hajj. The mystical, spiritual aspect of Hajj is an expansion ocean to tap into.
Allama Tabataba’i (r.a), the great philosopher and commentator of the 20th century said that if a real mystic wants to know all the stations along this heavenly journey towards Almighty Allah (SWT), he can learn it all in one journey, namely Hajj! Everything is in Hajj!
HAJJ DETACHES US FROM THE OPTICAL ILLUSIONS OF THIS WORLD
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), the 6th Imam of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), explains that if you want to perform Hajj, then we should start the journey of our hearts towards Allah (SWT) before we physically move from your house en-route to Hajj! We need to abandon our affiliation and attachment to our worldly pursuits if we want to truly experience Hajj!
There is an encounter between Shibli and Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), the 4th Imam of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), upon his return from Hajj. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) asked Shibli whether he stopped at the designated stations (Miqat) to remove his clothes and put on the Ihram (the pilgrim’s garment). Shibli found this to be a strange question and responded in a very confident yes to the 4th Imam, stating that it is an obvious requirement to be in Ihram to perform Hajj.
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) then asked Shibli: “When you stopped at Miqat did you make the intention that you are taking off the clothes of disobedience and love of this world and all its illusions?”
Every step of the way on Hajj is filled with an ocean of significance, from stopping at the Miqat to change, to entering the Haram and standing in front of the Ka’bah with the greatest of surrender before Almighty Allah (SWT), the way that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) would stand in front of the Ka’bah and say in simple words, with the deepest of meaning of surrendering before Almighty Allah (SWT) “al abdu abduk, wal baitu baituk”.
These journeys of Ma’rifat are flowing in Hajj! Hajj has the spiritual message of Islam, the mystical understanding of Islam and the journey of Tauheed. Furthermore, Hajj also has that spirit of assembly! Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) commanded the Ummah to perform Hajj, as it demonstrates the obedience to religion and the interest of dunya ie. the universal gathering of people, from East to West, North and South and every remote corner of the world!
We once again extend our congratulations to the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (atfs) on this occasion of Eid-ul-Adha, and to his rightful successors, the leadership, Maraji’ (grand spiritual authorities), religious scholars and followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) across the world.
The crux of the first khutbah is that Hajj is a “one-stop shop” for all aspects of the religion of Islam. Nothing can take you to a higher level spiritually and mystically than Hajj. Beyond this spiritual elevation, Hajj has a unique social, political and economic message too. Again, every message of Islam is flourishing and manifesting in this great institution of Hajj.
Therefore, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) said that Hajj is the gathering of the Ummah from East and West, from every remote corner of the world. It is the global assembly of the Ummah.
HAJJ REAFFIRMS THE COMPULSORY COMMAND OF UNITY
In Hajj, you are supposed to witness all the great benefits – spiritual, economical, social, financial, material benefits are all part of the philosophy of Hajj!
As Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) said, the most important aspect of Hajj is the gathering of a united Ummah. This unity is the manifestation of our power as one Ummah.
What is truly beautiful about Hajj is unity in diversity! People are coming from different backgrounds and walks of life, different countries, different languages and culture, different skin colour and whatever else. However, on Hajj, we all look the same in Ihram as one united Ummah chanting:
Labbayka Allaahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk.
“Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am.”
I would like to add one very important point in this discussion on unity in diversity. Those people who come to Hajj are diverse, not only in skin colour, financial status, social status and ethnicity. In addition, they are also different in their thinking and approach!
You cannot say everyone on Hajj is exactly the same! Not at all, as they think differently and understand Islam differently. I am not only talking about the Sunni-Shia differences, because among Sunnis, for example, we find that not everyone subscribes to the same ideological thinking.
We find these differences glaringly obvious in differences in matters of jurisprudence between the four Madha’ib ie. Shafi’i, Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali. Then you will also find Salafis coming with their own viewpoint and others slipping in theirs too!
Then of course we all know that there are differences between Sunni and Shia. All the differences on when one should pelt the Jamarat at Mina, morning or afternoon, conditions for Tawaaf, time of Wuquf, and the list of different interpretations can go on and on!
However, all these differences do not divide us. They keep us together and united. This is the beauty and barakah of Hajj, in that diversity in approaches do not divide us!
UNFORTUNATE REALITY IS THAT HAJJ UNITY IS NOT TAKEN BACK HOME!
We understand and tolerate each other in the blessings of Hajj. A simple example is the Baitullah. There is no place more sacred for a Muslim that Masjidul Haram. Now, when we are all praying Salaah, we will see people praying differently. Some will pray with their arms by their sides, some will pray with their arms attached on their stomachs, some will pray with their arms attached on their chests.
Nobody bothers you in the Haram or wants you expelled if you are praying in a different style. Unity in diversity! Hajj teaches us tolerance and respect of other people’s opinion!
Therefore, I would like to draw one very important lesson here. Unity is not about merging or unification. Unity does not mean that Sunni must become Shia or vice versa! Nobody should be compromising on their ideological doctrine.
Unity is respecting and tolerating the opinion of others! This means that I think this is the right path, but I also respect your right to understand differently. I cannot understand why the Ummah never learns this lesson from Hajj!
In the holiest place in Islam, namely Masjidul Haram, people do not mind performing prayers differently while standing next to each other in congregation. However, in a mosque over here, far from Mecca, these people will remonstrate, not allowing you to perform Salaah different to the way they do, and quite frankly have you ejected.
The sad reality is that they do not learn even this basic lesson from Hajj!
OUR GREATEST HINDRANCE TO PROGRESS IS NO ETIQUETTE OF DISAGREEMENT
We can reflect on this even in the context of this Eid-ul-Adha, where it is being celebrated on 2 different days. My personal belief is that there can be nothing better than having one Eid for the whole Ummah.
This is beautiful and united, and there is no doubt about it! That being said, if there are 2 different days of Eid due to different understandings and interpretations then it does not mean that we should label each other as hypocrites, apostates and disbelievers. This Eid issue becomes blown out of proportion to not tolerate each other.
Amazing is this that they exploit unity to try and strengthen their argument for one Eid. The key principle missing is that in their quest for unity, they are unable to tolerate difference of opinion! Unity requires one to acknowledge that in the Ummah of Islam, there are people with different understanding and different approaches. Nobody can claim to be the sole agent of Islam!
This approach of declaring others to be out of the fold of Islam is the biggest problem and the greatest lesson of Hajj, that despite all our diversity and differences, we are still one Ummah, because we are united on Tauheed of Almighty Allah (SWT), Prophethood of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and the love of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
There is no difference or dispute on this basis for unity. It therefore warrants us to reflect on this most important message from Hajj.
HAJJ IS A UNIVERSAL ASSEMBLY TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OF THE UMMAH
Our global assembly of Hajj affords us the crucial opportunity to address the challenges facing the Ummah, for which there are many at the moment.
The continuous suffering of the people of Palestine from the oppression inflicted by Zionist Israel. We see that on the one hand they are using the Syria issue as the smokescreen to conduct their crimes, while on the other hand they are using the current Covid-19 pandemic to do as they please to the Palestinian people.
Kashmir too cannot be forgotten and ignored. The gross atrocities by the Modi regime on the people of Kashmir is a real shame!
Similarly, China, where Chinese Muslims are suffering terribly. We can perhaps be supportive of China’s position on certain political levels, but it does not mean that we agree with them in their aggression and oppression of the Muslim population of China. It is horrible what they are committing!
Imam Ali (a.s) made it abundantly clear when he said we should always be supporters of the oppressed, and always in opposition to the oppressor.
Other parts of the world are similarly bleeding…
DURBAN MOSQUE ATTACK TERRORISM CASE MUST BE REINSTATED!
I would like to also draw your attention to our own situation in South Africa, where I want to repeat our great disappointment regarding the Durban mosque attack court case which was struck off the roll. The accused terrorists on the Imam Husain (a.s) Mosque have walked free.
This is a great point of concern for all of us, and we once again appeal to the state judiciary as well as civil society and the religious leadership of this country to support us in getting this case reinstated and taking the criminals responsible for this heinous crime of murder and terror to justice.
We call on EVERYBODY to support us in our campaign of justice for Shaheed Abbas Essop and Imam Husain (a.s) Mosque and the oppressed. Terrorism, religious extremism and fanaticism is a real danger to our democracy and constitutional rights.
This story is not coming to an end, as we heard during the week that traces of ISIS terrorist groups have been identified in Gauteng and how they are organizing themselves through kidnapping people for ransom money to finance their terrorist activities. We warn the state and we demand justice. We once again appeal to civil society to support us in this very important matter.
WE ALL HAVE AN INCREASED RESPONSIBILITY TO DEFEAT CORONAVIRUS
I would like to reiterate our responsibility towards the Covid-19 pandemic. The whole of humanity is going through seriously difficult times and we pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) in this great day of Eid, to release humanity from this terrible disease of coronavirus.
People are suffering and we pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant those who are sick a complete recovery. We also ask Allah (SWT) to protect all the frontline soldiers like doctors, nurses, paramedics and all those who are fighting this disease.
We also call upon each and everyone to follow the protocols. We all have a great deal of responsibility in this regard. This virus is not going anywhere. We need to learn to live with it and we can by taking due care.
Our Maraji’ (grand spiritual authorities) have issued very clear religious decrees (fatwa) stating that it is mandatory to follow the advice and precautions issued by the medical professionals. We will be fully responsible if we do not do this and if it causes a person to fall ill and die.
There is no need for me to say more than this to awaken the responsibility that each of us have to play. We therefore need to understand this important issue very carefully.
MUHARRAM COMMEMORATION DURING COVID-19 REQUIRES ADDED COMMITMENT
Very soon we will be entering the season of mourning for the martyrdom of Sayed as-Shuhada aba Abdillah al-Husain (a.s) and the martyrs of Karbala. This is an extremely critical time for the lovers and followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). It is the lifeline of us Shia Muslims.
This culture of mourning and remembering and showing our love for the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and the martyrs of Karbala is a matter of survival for us. Hence, why it is referred to as our lifeline! We are identified and recognized by this mourning of Imam Husain (a.s) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Naturally, under the current circumstances, it is unlikely that we will be able to have physical congregations of commemorative programs the way that we normally do every year. However, we will uphold these commemoration events in the best possible manner, while adhering to all protocols for social distancing and advice from medical professionals.
Online programs will be conducted quite extensively, and I appeal to EVERYONE across the country to join online. The message from Ayatollah Sistani that is being broadcast has noted that flags, alams and banners should be given even more importance now under these circumstances to create the environment of Muharram and mourning Imam Husain (a.s).
People should know that we are commemorating the tragedy to have befallen Imam Husain (a.s) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s). We cannot forget Husain (a.s) in any condition and our expression of mourning requires greater commitment now, compared to previous years, using all available means to make it successful.
Very importantly, programs should happen in our homes too. What a great act of worship it is, if the inhabitants of a home can sit together and narrate the tragedy with its evergreen message and shed a few tears remembering Imam Husain (a.s).
We will keep the flag of Imam Husain (a.s) flying high and we will keep the message of Karbala alive Insha Allah, observing all the protocols, and more details will follow in due course. May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant us the Taufeeq to uphold these programs in the most beautiful manner, Insha Allah.