Jumuah lecture on Friday 1 February 2019 by Brother Bashier Rahim at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town.
In a recent lecture we spoke about the need for young people to have knowledge of religion and its critical importance and we said that this knowledge of religion should be of the type which is so self evident such that no suggestion of any other ideology or way of life will sway them from the path of Islam.
And we mentioned that the Madressa institution here at our mosque, where the 2019 year started two weeks ago, plays a key role in training and embedding this knowledge into the psyche of our youth.
Now following up from that lecture I would to delve into a related issue that affects all of us throughout our life, but especially when we are young and inexperienced.
When we simply contemplate or even more formally study Usuli Deen and various proofs of the Existence of God, we learn something very very important and that is with respect to the nature of our very own existence.
The nature of all existence other than Almighty Allah is that it is a Contingent Existence (Mumkinul Wujud) which means that it is inherently dependent.
And that’s the nature of our existence too. We are inherently dependent in relation to an innumerable number of things. This realization has various important implications.
In this world we live a life of inter dependence in relation to all our needs whether these needs are physical or whether they are emotional in nature.
However, with respect to our dependence itself, where we place our ultimate dependence will have a great impact on our outlook in life.
NATURE OF OUR EXISTENCE CAUSES FEARS
Our level of dependence is absolute – we truly live a life of neediness for everything – the need to take care of our basics for survival:
– like having a job or a business,
– like having shelter in owning or renting a house,
– having food on the table for our family,
– having access to decent medical care,
– being protected from our crime ridden society,
– the need for finding a good spouse with whom to build a future,
– the need for having friends to speak to and socialize with,
– the need to avoid feeling or being embarrassed,
– the need for sending our children to good schools to obtain a good education, etc. and the list is endless.
This is only a glimpse of our neediness.
For young people growing up in South Africa today and for all of us in essence, the sheer long daunting list of responsibilities that one has to carry out to attend to our seemingly long list of needs becomes the cause for fear. And this is a reality we live with all the time. We all have fears…. on a physical level and on an emotional level as a result of our dependent nature or existence.
If fear that we are faced with on a day to day basis is not managed properly, we can end up committing crime of all kinds from very small to very big ones.
For example people commit fraud like matriculants buying exam papers with the solutions before the time. This is a common practice in South Africa. That is why universities often have their own entrance exams to independently verify your ability irrespective of the grades you obtained in matric.
Or learners as young as grade 5 are pressurized due to their fears and end up copying in exams just to get decent grades.
Or people submit copies of false qualifications when applying for jobs and this is still a widespread problem that has infested South Africa and thus there is lobbying to strengthen our laws to combat this.
Or businesses practice fronting to make a company look like it practices black economic empowerment to get tenders but in reality its not.
Or committing bribery and corruption from a traffic officer taking a R50 bribe to bigger companies paying millions per month in bribes like we saw one of the latest sagas that have hit the news in recent weeks.
People fear losing their so called lover or spouse and depend on witch doctors to help them – when you travel by train you will involuntarily see the services of so-called Dr Harun or Dr Ibrahim who can do miracles – is advertised in virtually every carriage. They supposedly can bring back a lost lover and let money appear in your bank account and scores of people continue to fall for it as these witch doctors exploit your fears.
These crimes that are committed knows no gender, knows no age and very importantly knows no race. We love painting a picture that a certain race group predominantly commits these crimes, but having a careful look will reveal that its across the spectrum – because all have fears that are not managed properly.
FEAR WHICH IS BLAMEWORTHY
Fear is an unpleasant emotion which is caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm or the likelihood of something unwelcome happening. It is an emotion whose meaning is conveyed in a very limited manner in the English language.
However, in the Quran there are possibly over 10 terms used to convey a much wide understanding and application of this term.
When trying to analyze and summarize these different references then we seem to find that we can summarize these fears into two categories.
There is a category of fear that relates to our life of this world like fear for our material needs and loss of our wealth or loss of life, etc. This is a category of fear that can be considered to be blameworthy at times.
This is a category of fear that is among the main tools of Shaytaan to strip us of our faith and reference to this is made in different places in the Quran.
In Surah Baqarah Verse 267 we read:
الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاء
“Shaytaan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to indecency”
This threat of poverty is done directly by Shaytaan into our hearts or indirectly. That is how people commit the different crimes and fraud I referred to earlier, as they feel that inner pressure that they can’t do without something and end up committing sin, indecency and crime in the process. This is Shaytaan causing fear direct in one’s heart.
Sometimes Shaytaan threatens you with fear indirectly through the use of his agents among mankind or Jinn.
In relation to the Battle of Uhud we read in Surah Aali-Imraan Verse 173:
الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُواْ لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ
“Those to whom the people said: ‘Verily the men have gathered against you, therefore fear them’.”
And in this incident there were those who were overcome by these fears and on the other hand there were those who stood firm. Those who were overcome by fear are the ones who committed the sin of abandoning Jihaad, and the source of these threats via mankind to others comes from Shaytaan and we thus read in Verse 175:
إِنَّمَا ذَلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءهُ
“It is only Shaytaan that causes his friends to fear”
This is really something to ponder upon. While fear is natural in relation to our dependent existence, Shaytaan is the one who rides and plays on our fears with the ultimate purpose of misguidance and to push us to commit sin and indecency.
This fear is blameworthy. Thus the verse continues:
“but do not fear them”.
FEAR THAT FRIENDS OF ALLAH DO NOT HAVE
In the development of our souls we seek to bring this fear under control. While this fear is natural, it should never lead us to commit sin and incur the displeasure of Almighty Allah.
Spiritual people go through a purification process such that even the idea of fearing for something material should never occur to them.
There is a fascinating story which I narrated many years ago and which I would like to repeat today to demonstrate this point that even the idea of fearing for something material should not happen to the truly spiritual people.
And this story is narrated by Allamah Tabatabai himself about himself as follows. He says:
“When I was studying in Najaf, I used to earn my living by receiving a monthly wage from Tabriz. Once, as a result of a conflict between the two countries [Iran and Iraq], my monthly salary was stopped and my savings were dwindling.
One day I was sitting at the table studying when suddenly my train of thought was disrupted by the worry that until when will the strained relations between Iraq and Iran continue as we don’t have any money, and we are strangers in this land.
As soon as this thought entered my mind I realized that someone was knocking loudly on the door. I went and opened the door and saw that there was a man at the door. He was tall, his beard was dyed with henna, his turban (amama) was tied in a special manner on his head, and he was wearing a distinctive outfit.
As soon as the door opened he said, “Salamun Alaykum”.
I replied his salam, and he said,
“I am Shah Husayn Wali! Allah says [to you] “in these 18 years when have I ever let you go hungry that you have now abandoned your studies and fallen into the thought that until when will the relations between Iraq and Iran remain strained and when will they send us money!” Farewell to you!” I also bid him farewell and closed the door.
I sat at the table. At that time I lifted my head from my hands, and then a number of questions arose for me – that did I actually walk to the door, or did I witness this scholar sitting here with my head in my hands?! Had I been asleep or awake?! Had the man called himself Shaykh Husayn Wali or Shah Husayn Wali. His appearance was not appropriate with the title Shah, nor was I sure that he was a Shaykh!
Some time passed and these questions remained unanswered, until a letter arrived from Tabriz that I should go there.
In the morning, according to my regular schedule, I went to Najaf’s Wadius Salam [graveyard] between dawn and sunrise, and walked between the graves reciting Sura Fatiha.
Suddenly I saw a grave that was obviously an important one. I read the gravestone and saw that after many inscriptions in praise of the deceased it was written: the late Shah Husayn Wali! I realized that it was the same individual that had visited my home in Najaf. I looked at the date of his death and saw that it was nearly 300 years earlier.
I was surprised at his sentence “in 18 years when have we ever let you go hungry”, because I had spent 9 years in Najaf, and I was 35 years old. So why 18 years?! After some thought I understood that it was exactly 18 years that I had put on the turban (amama) and the clothes of a soldier of Imam Zaman (aj)!”
Those who truly don’t have this type of blameworthy fear, they are referred to in the Quran as the fearless friends of Almighty Allah because their dependence has not been placed on this material created world or material beings but their dependence is ultimately on Almighty Allah who is the Independent Existence.
In Surah Yunus Verse 62 we read:
أَلآ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ اللَّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ
“Behold! Verily no fear shall be upon the friends of Allah”
FEAR THAT FRIENDS OF ALLAH DO HAVE
Now while the Friends of Allah are referred to in a very positive way for having no fear, we at the same time refer to the Friends of Allah as having fear. How do we understand this?
For example, today is Friday and among the days of the week, a Friday is connected to Imam Mahdi (a.s). In the ziyarah that we are recommended to recite for him on Fridays, one of the verses is as follows:
السلام عَلَيْكَ أَيُّها المُهَذَّبُ الخائِفُ
“Peace be upon you O courteous/polite one who is afraid!”
And this then is reference to the verses in the Quran which speaks in different ways about a category of fear which is praiseworthy instead of blameworthy.
As a result of placing their dependence fully on Almighty Allah, the Friends of Allah have a praiseworthy fear that manifests in different ways.
For these people the Quran says:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
“But as for him who feared (khawf) standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure desires.” (Surah an-Naazi-aat Verse 40)
Whereas the fear caused by Shaytaan pushes us to commit sin, the fear of Allah restrains them from sin as they perceive danger on the same physical level in a different way than Shaytaan is making you perceive.
Or such people are said to have “Khashyah” which is a fear as a result of knowledge which leads to action.
إِنَّمَا تُنذِرُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الذِّكْرَ وَخَشِيَ الرَّحْمَـٰنَ بِالْغَيْبِ
“You can only warn him who follows the Reminder, and fears (khashyah) the Beneficent (Allah) in secret. (Surah Yaseen Verse 11)
Or such people have “Khushoo” which is a fear that is manifested not only in your heart but it is shown on your face and limbs. So for example you can see signs of this Khushoo when they make salaah:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
“Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all humility and full submissiveness.” (Surah Mu’minoon Verse 2)
Or such people have something called “Wajl” which is to have a fear that penetrates deep in your heart. It is a fear in which a person trembles and shivers.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ
“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts tremble/shiver/quake.” (Surah Anfaal Verse 8)
What a praiseworthy fear this is!
And there are various other references to fear in Quran in a praiseworthy manner which is the type that we should all aspire towards.
And thus Prophet (sawa) says:
أعْلى النّاسِ مَنزِلَةً عِندَ اللّهِ أخوَفُهُم مِنهُ.
“The person with the highest station in the sight of Allah is the one who fears Him the most.” [Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 180, no. 10]
POLITICS OF FEAR
One area of our lives where we face fear as a society is on the political level.
In the coming week, we commemorate the second Fatimiyya which is the second possible recorded date of the martyrdom of Lady Fatima (a.s).
After the demise of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) the ummah faced a fitnah as there was disagreement on the issue of successorship to the Prophet (sawa).
This fitnah included the use of politics of fear.
There was firstly the denial of the Land of Fadak of Lady Fatima (a.s) which would have the practical effect of material impoverishment of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
And there was also the threats of trying to force Imam Ali (a.s) to pledge allegiance to the Khalif of the time which is an event well recorded. What ultimately happened thereafter is subject to various views which I will not go into, but one point is certain and that is that Lady Fatima (a.s) did not succumb to any of the threats and died without pledging allegiance to the Khalif of the day.
She fearlessly came into the court to demand her right and gave a most outstanding public sermon that few can match.
And when she was martyred she ensured that her revolt would remain alive forever as she requested to be buried privately and silently in the middle of the night and that others should not know where exactly she is buried.
This would ensure that until the end of time, people would ask the question that how is it that the grave of the only beloved daughter of the Prophet (sawa), who is the Leader of the Women of the Worlds, is unknown!
And during these days at the beginning of February we remember the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution led by the great fearless offspring of Lady Fatima (a.s) namely Imam Khomeini (r.a) who stood against the satanic policies of global domination and oppression of the West.
And during the past few weeks we saw how the famous female journalist Marzieh Hashemi who is born in the USA, is inspired by Lady Fatima (a.s) and the Fatimi Revolution of Iran to stand up against her very own country of birth in condemning their policies.
This is the fruit of when one’s fear is properly direct as Allah says:
فَلاَ تَخَافُوهُمْ و خافون
“So do not fear them and fear Me”