(Opening lecture delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town)
Our season of mourning was opened in a most touching manner by our dear respected friend, and friend of Ahlul Bayt (AS), Father Christopher Clohessy. To reiterate his point, we are offering our tears in the service of Lady Fatima (SA), as she weeps for Husayn (AS). That is what we believe – that the real host of us in this season of mourning is Fatima (SA). And her love is an all-inclusive LOVE.
Let us visit the following verses in Sura Saffat (chapter 37 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنّـِي أَرَي فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنّـِي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَي قَالَ يَآ أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَآءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“102. Then, when he was old enough to accompany him, he said, “O MY son, I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you; see what you think.” He said, “O my Father, do as you are commanded; you will find me, God willing, one of the steadfast.”
فَلَمَّآ أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ
103. Then, when they had submitted, and he put his forehead down.
وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَن يَآ إِبْرَاهِيمُ
104. We called out to him, “O Abraham!
قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَآ كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُـحْسِنِينَ
105. You have fulfilled the vision.” Thus We reward the doers of good.
إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلآءُ الْمُبِينُ
106. This was certainly an evident test.
وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ
107. And We redeemed him with a great sacrifice.
وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الأَخِرِينَ
108. And We left with him for later generations.
سَلاَمٌ عَلَي اِبْرَاهِيمَ
109. Peace be upon Abraham.”
These verses are connected to Nabi Ibrahim (AS) and Nabi Ismail (AS). When Ibrahim (AS) saw in his dream that he is sacrificing his beloved son Ismail, and he narrated this dream to his son Ismail, Ismail replied in complete submission to the will of Allah (SWT): “O father, do whatever you have been commanded to do. You will find me among those who persevere.”
Why is the Sacrifice of Ibrahim and Ismail (AS) Referred to as Zibhin Adheem?
Their sacrifice became the symbol of Ibrahim as an eternal memory. The reason for this tradition of Qurbani being kept alive ever since the time of this incident is primarily twofold:
1. This qurbani is to pay respect and honour Ibrahim (AS) (father of Abrahamic faiths) and Ismail (AS). We acknowledge their complete surrender and submission to the will of Almighty Allah (SWT).
2. Sacrifice is very crucial. It is part and parcel of the success of any movement…without sacrifice, nothing can be sustained or survive. Sacrifice is a crucial condition for submission to Allah (SWT).
So, why are we narrating the story of Ibrahim (AS)? The point of narrating this is to explain:
– Why do we speak about Hussain so much?
– Why do we magnify Hussain so much?
– Why do we cry for Hussain so much?
We see that Muharram has not started but campaigns against this movement to keep the Husayni message alive had started countrywide already for the past few weeks. Why? How long are we going to cry they ask?
Some argue that according to certain prophetic narrations, mourning is only for 3 days…why are we still mourning after 1400 years?? Why don’t we cry for other prominent personalities who sacrificed their lives?
The reason is simple: Husain’s sacrifice was in no way less than that of Ibrahim and Ismail.
Let’s address this matter by referring to the following 2 hadith, which are both authentic in Sunni narrations beyond any doubt. They are both Sahih and Mutawatir, meaning their authenticity has reached to the level where it is impossible to deny or dispute.
Hadith 1: “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn, Allah loves those who love Husayn”
There are many Hadith in praise of many companions, but the weight of this Hadith in comparison is beyond compare. This Hadith is easy to understand – Husayn is my child (from me). But how will we translate when Rasululah (SAWA) says “I am from Husayn”. This creates a situation where we may be stuck to explain. How is the reverse possible? Only a grandchild can be from a grandfather, the reverse is not possible??
One will be stuck if you try to limit this Hadith to simply the biological relationship between Rasulullah and Husayn. But if one looks at Husayn in terms of who is Husayn in this message, it goes beyond biological. This Hadith wants to say that the mission of the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAWA) is protected through Husayn.
Hadith 2: “Hasan and Husayn are leaders of the youth of Jannah”
Again, there are plenty of hadith which says everyone in heaven is youth, so these 2 are leaders of everyone. One can have variations in the meaning of Mawla, but the word Syed (as referred to in this Hadith) has a direct reference to leader.
According to narrations of AhlusSunnah, some personalities have been given a guarantee of paradise. The authenticity of these narrations is also disputed in certain circles amongst our Sunni brothers. However, the highest point that these narrations reach is to say that these personalities will “glow in the glad tidings of Heaven”. The authentic narration of Hassan and Husayn being leaders of Jannat illustrates their lofty status in comparison. Their status is something else, on a supreme level.
Are there any other Hadith which can compare to the weight of these 2 hadith? So these 2 hadith draws attention of who is Husayn (AS).
Why So Much Emotion Associated with Remembering Husayn (AS)?
The argument that is often presented is that if you love Husayn, then you must follow Husayni teachings. Why do we have a tradition of expressing so much emotion as well?
Let us delve deeper to understand what our affiliation to Husayn (AS) is all about.
Affiliation to a personality is a very important and has two aspects to it:
1. You are connected because of your appreciation and love for their ideas and following their teachings, eg. Philosphers and thinkers. You love their thoughts and approach.
Over the centuries people were attracted to Aristotle, Plato, Avicenna, Farabi, etc. And in contemporary times people were attracted to Carl Marx or Steve Biko, or Nelson Mandela.
2. Over and above love and following their ideas, we develop a very special relationship with that person. Our connection is not only through philosophy, but beside that, the special connection takes the relationship to a different level.
Let us look at the following two narrations from Bukhari to demonstrate this crucial point:
It is reported from Abu Said Khudri who narrates that:
“Once we were in the presence and company of the Holy Prophet (SAWA). He was distributing spoils of war when a person named Zul-Khawaisara, who was from the tribe of Bani Tamim addressed the Holy Prophet (SAWA) “Oh Muhammad Be Just!”
The Prophet (SAWA) replied: “A Great pity that you have doubts, if I am unjust then who will be just? You are a loser and a failure.”
Zul-Khawaisara’s attitude infuriated the second Khaliph and he pleaded with the Prophet (SAWA) to permit him to slay Zul-Khawaisara. The Prophet (SAWA) remarked: “Leave him, as his slaying will serve no good purpose, as he is not the only individual but there are a host of others like him and if you compare their prayers and fasting to that of yours, you yourself will feel ashamed. These are the people who will recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats, with all these apparent virtues they will leave the fold of Deen just like the arrow leaves the bow.”
Zul-Khawaisara is the founder of the Kharijite movement! So in this hadith, there is a person who has no regard for the Prophet yet he appears to be very pious!! With these people everything is on surface level.
Abdullah al Himar
He was a wayward sinner, a drinker, did not regularly perform salaat, etc. Our Prophet (SAWA) use to punish him for his transgressions. He had very weak faith, but one positive quality about this man was that he was jovial and made our Prophet (SAWA) smile.
When our Holy Prophet (SAWA) was under stress, he used to come and make him feel lighter. One day he came in the gathering of our Holy Prophet, and somebody remarked: “Allah’s curse upon this man who drinks.” Our Prophet heard this curse from a distance. Our Prophet (SAWA) commanded: “Please don’t curse him, because he loves Allah and Allah’s Rasul!”
Now, compare these two examples. One with immense prayer, but no connection to our Nabi and our Prophet concludes that they will leave the fold of Islam.
And then there is a weak sinner, but because he loves our Nabi, Nabi says don’t curse him!
While it must be emphasized that both are essential, simply empty prayers without real connection to Rasullulah is completely meaningless.
On radio, we often hear our Prophet being referred to as a Messenger (Bashar) in the sense of a mere “postman” i.e. someone whose job was merely to deliver the message and thus had no direct interest in the message that he delivered. This is the biggest insult to simply confine the status of our Nabi to a Messenger, who has no connection to the message he is delivering.
What we are establishing tonight is that while following is very important, our relationship to our Nabi (SAWA) is beyond liking the message he has delivered. It goes much deeper.
Ultimately, why does Allah say in the Holy Quran: Wara fa’na laka dhikrak? It is about understanding the elevated status of our Holy Prophet and our connection to him.
Abuse of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is Abuse of Allah
In Surah Ahzab, Verse 57 it state:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالأَخِرَةِ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً مُّهِيناً
“Indeed those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment”
In explaining this verse, Allahmah Tabatabai states that it is not possible to abuse or torture Allah, as that would indicate defect in Allah. Yes it is possible to abuse and torture His Messenger (SAWA) and that did occur during his worldly life. However, to magnify the status of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and to amplify the seriousness of abusing His Messenger, Allah has added His own Glorious Name to this verse to indicate that abusing His Messenger is equivalent to abusing Allah.
Imam Husayn (AS), whose status has been highlighted above which includes the alignment of his personality and mission to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), was martyred in the worst possible manner in Karbala. This martyrdom and abuse and torture equates to the abuse of Almighty Allah!
The annual commemoration is to establish that very special link between you and the one you love deeply for the above mentioned reasons. This is the love for Husayn that makes us cry endlessly.
So, we do not simply confine mourning to 3 days. That is generally when a normal person dies. Is Husayn normal? There is a Saudi Sunni scholar Dr Hassan Farhan al-Maliki, a fierce critic of Wahhabi thought, who was asked: “What do you think of Shia crying for 14 centuries?” His response was: “Fourteen centuries are not enough to cry for Husayn!
For that great tragedy which was inflicted upon Ahlul Bayt (AS) – if you love this family and if you connect yourself in a special relationship with this family, then fourteen centuries are not enough to cry for this family.
Shedding tears for Husayn (AS) is not our innovation. Our Holy Prophet (SAWA), Imam Ali (AS), Lady Fatima (SA) and other pious companions did it, when hearing about what will take place in Karbala!