Transcript – Speech delivered by Brother Bashier Rahim for the martyrdom anniversary of Lady Fatima Zahra (a.s) on Friday 15 January 2021.
Tonight we join the 3 night series of programs to commemorate the sad martyrdom of our Immaculate Lady Fatima Zahra (a.s) during these days in Islamic history which occurred at a very young age and soon after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
And so I extend my condolences to the Imam of our Time, Imam Mahdi (a.s), may Almighty Allah hasten his reappearance, and I further extend my condolences to our ulama and mara’ji who are his rightful representatives and their students who are our teachers, Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider and other ulama who lead us here in South Africa and the world and to all of you who love Lady Fatima (a.s) and have dedicated some special time tonight towards her remembrance.
I would also like to dedicate any blessing that may emanate from tonight’s majlis to the great Aalim, Philosopher, Aarif, Teacher, and Revolutionary who recently passed away, Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi who is very special and especially to the English speaking seekers of knowledge in the West as one of his passions was to train scholars who would make the Islamic Sciences available to the West and in the past few years we are benefiting tremendously from the fruit of this effort and look forward to further greater benefit in this regard in the years to come Insha’allah.
SENSE OF DESPONDENCY CAUSED BY COVID-19
As we live through the second wave of COVID-19, we are feeling its effects even greater than the first wave.
And then we are informed that a third and fourth wave is expected.
And we are further informed that this can realistically all last for 3 years.
And when one considers the devastating impact that it has had on our lives internationally from a variety of angles, it certainly creates a sense of despondency and depression in many people.
The other day when our Sister Ayesha Savahl passed away at a young age (May Allah have Mercy upon her soul) which caused us a great sense of shock, someone exclaimed that every day we receiving so much sad news, is there even any good news on the horizon?
This feeling somehow caused me to reflect on the previous Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and the devastating effect it had having reportedly wiped out millions of people at the time which coincided with World War I and its simultaneous devastating impact on the world.
Was there any hope for the world at the time and more particularly Europe which was at the centre of these devastating experiences?
Interestingly, some strange and mystical incident is reported to have happened in Europe during this time, which to this very day impacts on the lives of many people in a positive way.
Now before I refer to what this mystical incident is that occurred at that time, I want to make an important point that our ulama make, and in particular what we learnt from the courses on some of the works of Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi which Mowlana Haider taught us.
And this is a critical point that we often get wrong and need to be reminded about.
And that is that with respect to the sources of knowledge and how human beings know something, Ayatullah Misbah says in his Aqaid and Philosophy books under the chapter of Epistemology that we know something through four sources:
– firstly our senses which is our sight, our hearing, touch, smell and taste
– secondly through our intellect
– thirdly through receiving transmitted knowledge from a reliable source (example Prophets)
– fourthly through intuitive or mystical experience
Then he goes on to explain that of these four sources of knowledge, our intellect is the most reliable. Even relying upon knowledge from Prophets firstly has an intellectual basis for it.
And so the issue of mystical or intuitive knowledge is that it requires interpretation and cannot go against rationality or our intellect.
Most of the times we might have a mystical experience but are unable to understand it. We don’t know what it means.
Thus mystical experience is not always reliable, and if it is somehow genuine, then it is really only a hujja or proof for the one who experienced it…. it’s not necessarily a hujja for the rest of the world.
So that’s the first point I want to remind you about before narrating the interesting mystical event that occured around the time just before the devastating Spanish Flu of 1918.
The second philosophical point I want to remind you about is that nothing that occurs in this world occurs by chance.
Everything that occurs is due to a chain of causes that forms a complete cause for it to happen, and Almighty Allah is the final cause of the complete cause for anything to happen. That is speaking in philosophical language.
But the point is that nothing happens by chance.
For us in our day to day terminology, we say by sheer chance or coincidence I happened to meet so and so today.
Or I happened to witness a certain incident.
That’s how we speak from our perspective BUT there’s a reason for everything that happens in this world.
We maybe don’t know the answer regarding why something that seems to be a coincidence actually happened, but there is certainly a reason for it as nothing happens by chance.
So please bear these two important philosophical principle points in mind.
OUR LADY OF FATIMA
Now in and around the time of the Spanish Flu as well as World War I, both of which brought untold suffering to the world and in particular Europe, something mystical is reported to have occurred in Europe which to this very day which is more than 100 years later is actually commemorated.
In a Portuguese town called Fatima….. yes you heard me correctly…. in a Portuguese town called Fatima, three young children are reported to or claimed to have collectively experienced a vision of Lady Maryam (a.s) on six occassions starting 13 May 1917 and thereafter on the 13th of each month until 13th October 1917.
They claim that she basically asked them to make dua for the world, to pray the rosary, and to build a chapel on that spot.
They also claim that she shared with them three secrets, the first being a vision of hell, the second being a prophesy of the outbreak of World War I and the third secret was only recently interpreted to have meant the shooting of Pope John Paul II.
While it was mainly these three children who are claimed to have had this experience, on the final vision of 13 October 1917 she announced before the time that she would perform a miracle and over 50000 people are reported to have been present to witness apparent supernatural phenomenon happening to the sun.
Two of these children who had this mystical experience died young in the Spanish Flu pandemic itself, but Lucia dos Santos lived on until the age of 97 and became the main point of reference.
In keeping with the apparent request of Lady Maryam (a.s), a Chapel was built on that spot and to this very day it is a place of pilgrimage annually by thousands of people, some devout Christians, some simply inquisitive and even Muslims visit this place to see what it is about.
And churches around the world were established by this name.
You will be surprised that if you go to www.fatima.org.za
that it’s not a Muslim or Shia or Sunni organization, but its part of the Catholic Church.
And you even have here in Bellville in Cape Town the Catholic Church called by the name “Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church”.
IS THERE ANY SIGNIFICANCE IN THIS EVENT?
So what does this all mean? Is it even worth paying attention to?
You will appreciate my point earlier about mystical experiences. People often have all sorts of mystical experiences but it is not a hujja or proof for others.
And this incident is no different.
The issue is how to interpret it and in the interpretation process, many errors can be made.
So some Christian scholars would read into this incident their own theology and seek to prove it some how which for us would not be acceptable as it’s not fully in line with rationality.
And even for those who claim to have had this experience, it is only a hujja if they are able to interpret it in line with rationality and/or in line with reliable scriptures being Quran and the Teachings of the Prophet (sawa) and Ahlul Bait (a.s).
That is the rational approach from the one perspective.
But on the other hand I did also mention that our intellect recognizes that nothing that happens in this world happens by mere chance. That is also important to appreciate.
And this fact has caused Christian scholars to ask a very valid and intriguing question which is as follows:
“Assuming that this incident is true, it begs the question that why would Lady Maryam (a.s) appear in a place which is named after the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) being Lady Fatima (a.s)? This is certainly not something that occurred by chance”.
And of course there is history about how that town originally was named Fatima and that was after a Muslim Princess a few hundred years ago – but again that Muslim Princess was named Fatima after the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
Now just this valid question – about why would Lady Maryam appear in a place called Fatima – it has greatly contributed to Christian scholars asking what is the relationship or similarities between Lady Maryam (a.s) and Lady Fatima (a.s) in the Islamic tradition and it has caused them to start studying the life of Lady Maryam (a.s) as well as Lady Fatima (a.s) from an Islamic perspective in some depth to the extent that their priests sometimes know more about these 2 Immaculate personalities than the common Muslim.
And inspired by this incident just before the Spanish Flu pandemic, we can perhaps also sit back during this second wave of COVID-19 during our Majlis of Fatimiyyah and ponder upon this question from the Islamic perspective and even broadly potentially appreciate parts of the reported happenings in this incident, and draw some deep inspiration from this contemplation during this time of despondency and depression.
SPECIAL DIVINE ATTENTION BEFORE THEIR BIRTH
The similarities between Lady Maryam (a.s) and Lady Fatima (a.s) are numerous and for starters we can say that they are both referred to in the Glorious Quran and the Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s) in a sublime manner.
So we will only examine three or four striking similarities between these two Immaculate women as our time allows.
The first of these is the special description about the pregnancy of their mothers before they were born.
In the case of Lady Maryam (a.s), her mother who was the wife of Imraan is quoted in the Quran expressing very sublime words about the baby she was carrying.
We read in Surah Aali Imraan Verse 35 the following:
إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“(Remember) when the wife of Imran said: ‘ My Lord! Verily I vowed to You what is within my womb to be (dedicated) for You (for Your service); therefore accept from me; verily you are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing’.”
Before Lady Maryam (a.s) even entered this world, her mother had a sublime purpose planned for her. Of course when the wife of Imraan made this vow, she was thinking that she was carrying a baby boy and thus was going to dedicate him to lead a life for Almighty Allah.
Later on when she gave birth and discovered that it was a girl, she still did not change her original intention of dedicating whatever was in her womb – which implies male or female – dedicating it to Almighty Allah.
So Lady Maryam (a.s) had a sublime purpose even before entering this world.
And the same goes for Lady Fatima Zahra (a.s). Before entering this world she was conceived in a most profound way, where Prophet Muhammad (sawa) had to fast for 40 days and do special ibadah and eat a particular food from heaven before Lady Khadija (a.s) conceived her.
And at her delivery, special women from heaven came to assist with her delivery which included Lady Maryam (a.s) herself.
And after delivering Lady Fatima (a.s), they said to Lady Khadija (a.s):
“Take hold of your child – a chaste, virtuous, prosperous and auspicious infant – one from whom a blessed progeny will emerge.”
So Lady Fatima (a.s) had a sublime purpose even before entering this world.
Young people and even older ones should learn deep lessons from this in being conscious on why we have children.
Just 4 years ago in 2017 the statistics at Home Affairs in South Africa showed that for 62% of babies registered, there was no record available of who was their father. Maybe for a moment we will think Home Affairs is the problem, but it’s actually a reflection of our society.
Compare this to the birth of these 2 Immaculate women.
The pandemic of COVID-19 is meant to awaken within us a sense of God consciousness and improved morality which includes control of our desires.
LADY MARYAM (A.S) – AN ORPHAN WHO WORSHIPPED & SERVED
A second point about the life of Lady Maryam (a.s) is derived by our great ulama like Allamah Tabatabai from the same verse I quoted early and this point is also very beautiful.
The verse I mentioned quotes the wife of Imraan making a vow to dedicate her child to Allah.
Now what was this vow implying?
It is stated that during that time that people would dedicate their young children to serve the place of worship like a church or synagogue to do jobs like cleaning it and take care of its needs.
That means that the child is not available to its own parents to serve them but would serve society instead. And this was considered to be something extremely noble and honorable.
Now how could the wife of Imraan make such an oath which would result in so much sacrifice by the parents without taking his permission?
Why does the verse simply quote her making this vow?
Where is Imraan to be part of the decision making process, eventhough it was a very noble decision?
And the answer is that Imraan was already passed away before Lady Maryam (a.s) was born. She was going to be an orphan from day one!
And her noble mother, knowing that she was carrying an orphan whose assistance she personally would need when the child was young and capable of serving her, she dedicates this orphan in the service of Allah.
And thus we also learn that the name that her mother gave her which the Quran quotes her as saying:
وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ
“And I have named her Maryam”…..
That name Maryam (a.s) means one who worships and one who serves.
And even more than that, the mother of Lady Maryam (a.s) is very far sighted and not only dedicates Lady Maryam (a.s) to Allah but prays for her progeny that comes from Lady Maryam (a.s) to also be protected by Almighty Allah against satan, in other words to be purified.
And so Lady Maryam (a.s) is not only personally dedicated to Allah and serving people, but she is directly linked to the mission of her son Prophet Eesa (a.s) who then is the progeny of Imraan for whom the wife of Imraan prayed.
And thus the Quran in possibly over 90% of the time refers to Prophet Eesa (a.s) as عيسى إبن مريم or Eesa son of Maryam…. because she is connected to his mission.
ISLAM IS SENSITIVE ABOUT ORPHANS
The issue of children and especially the issue of orphans is very sensitive in the Quran. Never take advantage of them in any way as they are the vulnerable in our society.
The Quran is harsh about people who, for example, unlawfully consume the wealth of orphans. It promises them that they swallowing fire into their stomachs!
In the incident of Prophet Musa (a.s) following and learning from Prophet Khithr (a.s), three incidents are mentioned in the Quran, one of which relates to Allah’s special care for two particular orphans.
How many children became orphaned in World War I and the Spanish Flu and how many have become orphaned in our time due to various wars and now with COVID-19?
We should all be sensitive about orphans as they often are children with hidden potential.
Great people over the ages were orphans.
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) himself, the greatest person ever, was an orphan.
Among our Imams we have those who were orphans.
Among great ulama who left their mark in history, there were those who were orphans.
And Lady Fatima (a.s) at a young age lost her mother Lady Khadija (a.s) and became an orphan too.
But what an orphan?
One who was dedicated to the mission of her father from childhood and as an orphan and the Quran praises her in different ways for it whether it’s in the form of saying she serves for the Love of Allah or sacrifices herself even though she is more in need or that she is purified thoroughly or that she is part of Mubahila as she shares equally in the mission of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) or much more.
Just like the young children that were dedicated to the church and synagogues at the time of Lady Maryam (a.s) had to clean it and do the supposed dirty work, Lady Fatima (a.s) served her own father at a young age in this way.
In the early days of Islam, when Abu Jahl got the placenta and faeces of a camel thrown onto the shoulder of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) while he was praying near the Kaba, it was Lady Fatima (a.s) as a young child who cleaned it off him.
And there are many more such services from her.
And there’s virtually not an aspect of the mission of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) wherein she is not a shareholder.
These scenes leaves us with a question for introspection as adults:
Do we raise children with the intention of dedicating them to be in service of the mosque and Islam as a whole?
Or do we raise children that have no interest in going to mosque, let alone serving it or serving the religion of Islam?
And do we dedicate some of our time to care for the orphans of war and this terrible pandemic??
There’s a lot more to say about the significant similarities between Lady Maryam (a.s) and Lady Fatima (a.s).
Both are considered Divinely chosen Leaders of the Women of the Worlds with a slight nuance wherein our Imams teach us that Lady Maryam was the Leader of the Women of the World of her time whereas Lady Fatima (a.s) is Leader of the Women of the Worlds of all times. And there are various subtle points that can be referred to in this issue.
Furthermore both are the medium or the vessel through whom Almighty Allah sent His Representative to this world, either in the form of a Messenger like Prophet Eesa (a.s) or in the form of the Imams of the Ahlul Bait (a.s).
BOTH WERE AN INSPIRATION TO ALLAH’S REPRESENTATIVES!
There’s lots more to say about these two Immaculate women, but let me share one more with you before I conclude.
And that relates to the inspiration that these two women practically provide and on what level.
In a series of lectures that Mowlana gave on Ulumul Quran a few years ago, when he was discussing the issue of Wahi, he mentioned a discussion about a verse in the Quran that indicates that inspiration can also come from satan.
That is satanic inspiration is also a reality.
And we see this in day to day life. The most heinous crimes get committed under the influence of satanic inspiration.
Sometimes you ask a murderer why did you kill someone. And they will say “I heard some voices in my heard saying kill him”.
Or why did you commit any other crime even a moral crime and people say “I just could not control myself at that moment”.
These are all forms of satanic inspiration.
But what about Divine forms of inspiration?
On the same discussion about Lady Maryam (a.s) there’s a beautiful point made by Allamah Tabatabai. I find it so profound and I hope you will enjoy it too.
The Quran says that Prophet Zakariyya (a.s) was made the guardian of Lady Maryam (a.s), him being her mother’s sister’s husband and of course a Prophet.
He became responsible for her upbringing and nurturing as she was an orphan.
Also remember Prophet Zakariyya (a.s) already reached old age and had no children of his own through whom his legacy will continue.
The Quran mentions that Lady Maryam (a.s), who of course was a young girl would be in her Mihrab or sanctuary of Ibadah and he would regularly come check in on her.
And then you know the story of what he used to find when verse 37 of Surah Aali Imraan says:
كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً
“Whenever Zakariya entered the sanctuary to (see) her, he would find with her sustenance/rizq”
قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَـذَا
“He said: ‘ O’ Mary! Where from have you got this?”
That was in reference to the fruit before her as it was from a season where that fruit was not available so it’s not like someone else might have brought it for her. It was simply not available at the time.
قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
She said: “It is from Allah. Verily Allah provides with sustenance for whomever He wills WITHOUT MEASURE.”
Verse 38 continues with the profound point I want to refer to:
هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاء
“It was then (that) Zakariyya prayed to his Lord; he said: ‘My Lord! grant me from You a good offspring; verily You are the Hearer of all prayers’.”
Do you want to know how Lady Maryam (a.s) inspired Prophet Zakariyya (a.s)?
Allamah Tabatabai says that witnessing this miracle of Almighty Allah being granted to Lady Maryam (a.s) and realising her great status before Almighty Allah, this caused an irresistible urge in Prophet Zakariyya (a.s) to call upon his Lord to provide him with a good offspring from Himself.
And the Quran says he made dua at that very moment and he was replied favourably at that very moment.
He did not wait until he went home.
This irresistible urge was so overwhelming that it pushed him to virtually burst out into dua AT THAT VERY MOMENT for something that otherwise SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE.
And what about Lady Fatima (a.s)?
Imam Hassan and Imam Husayn (a.s) would simply watch her whole night in Ibadah and be inspired by the light that would shine from her forehead into the heavens.
And that’s why our 11th Imam Askari (a.s) says:
“We are the proofs of Allah over His creation and our grandmother Fatima is a proof over us”.
And Prophet Muhammad (sawa) himself finds inspiration in his young daughter by giving her the title of being “Mother of her father” – that’s a title with deep hidden meaning, not just a fancy sounding name.
It is said in this Lady of Fatima incident in Portugal that Lady Maryam asked these children to pray or make Dua as we call it.
Isn’t that what both Lady Maryam (a.s) and Lady Fatima (a.s) inspire us to do. And inspire us to pray for what seems impossible.
Oh Allah for the sake of these two Immaculate women, save our world from this deadly coronavirus.
It is said in this Lady of Fatima incident in Portugal that Lady Maryam said to these three children:
“I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day”
This Rosary is what we would call a tasbeeh.
Has Lady Fatima (a.s) not left for us what is considered the best ever Tasbeeh gifted to her by her father that all Muslims pray each day called Tasbeeh of Zahra (a.s)?
A tasbeeh we should read as much as possible in addition to reading it after our salaah. In this regard Imam Saadiq (a.s) says that:
“surely one who is steadfast upon its recitation will not encounter adversity”.
SON OF LADY MARYAM (A.S) IN REVOLUTION OF IMAM MAHDI (A.S)
And my concluding point for the purposes of tonight about these two Immaculate women is that the son of Lady Maryam (a.s) being Prophet Eesa (a.s) will serve behind the grandson of Lady Fatima (a.s) being Imam Mahdi (a.s) to complete the Light of Allah on this earth.
But the process of getting to that point will be hard and filled with pain.
In this Lady of Fatima incident, Lady Maryam is said to have made reference to World War I before it occurred and that clearly is part of the painful process the world has experienced and continues to experience before the final revolution of our Imam (a.s).
It is said in this Lady of Fatima incident that she requested for a chapel to be built and so it was built and people go there each year to venerate it.
But in the case of Lady Fatima Zahra (a.s), a very unique structure would be built!
After the demise of her father, Prophet Muhammad (sawa), the level of tribulation that descended upon Lady Fatima (a.s) was such that if it manifested upon a bright shining day, it would turn into a dark night.
People who believe in the incident of the Lady of Fatima in Portugal are intrigued for over 100 years why did Lady Maryam appear in a town named Fatima?
What is the connection?
There is no clear answer.
But ulama of our ummah who have a clean conscience and seek to serve Islam confess one thing, and that is that the issue of the fall out that Lady Fatima (a.s) had with the leadership of the Ummah after the Prophet (sawa) on the issue of Fadak and the issue of Khalifate itself bothers their conscience.
I have heard genuine Sunni scholars say that it bothered them for decades in trying to find an answer!
Why did Lady Fatima (a.s) die in a state of not wanting to speak to the leadership?
Why did Lady Fatima (a.s) die while not wanting any one other than her immediate circle at her janazah??
We said at the start. Nothing happens by chance. There is a reason for everything.
The very fact that this fitna occured has haunted Muslim scholars with pure conscience for centuries.
What is the reason?
There is only two answers offered essentially.
One is that we don’t know and will never know and should leave it.
This answer is the safe answer and approach otherwise their whole foundation will collapse.
The other answer is offered by the Shia who say something definitely went wrong and we can’t just leave it.
If Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said that dying without having Ma’rifa of the Imam of your time is tantamount to a death of the Age of Ignorance, and this hadith is unquestionable, how did this purified Lady Fatima (a.s) dare to indeed die in such a supposed state…. this question gives you nightmares.
Not only does Lady Fatima (a.s) stand up against the khalif to claim her right and to defend Imamate, when she was supposedly unsuccessful, she boycotted them to maintain a state of permanent opposition.
Lady Fatima (a.s) cried day and night due to the separation from her father and the events after his demise made her grief even worse and the people could not handle it.
So Imam Ali (a.s) built for her a unique structure called Baitul Ahzan or House of Sorrows which is a dedicated place for her to cry in Baqi.
This is where she would cry.
This House of Sorrows is in Baqi is one of the possible places where she is buried.
But just like the people of her time could not handle her grief, so the current government of Baqi could not handle the existence of this House of Sorrows and demolished it!
Her crying and lamenting would continue later with the martyrdom of her son Husayn, the martyr of tears.
This same Lady Fatima (a.s) collects the tears of the mourners for Imam Husayn (a.s).
This same Lady Fatima (a.s) makes a vow different to the vow of the mother of Lady Maryam (a.s).
Her vow is that she will not enter Jannah until those who shed a tear for Imam Husayn (a.s) enters Jannah.
And through these tears Lady Fatima (a.s) inspires change, revolutionary change.
إنالله وإنا إليه راجعون
و سيعلم الذين ظلموا أي من قلب ينقلبون
وال عاقبة للمتقين