Lecture 6 in the series: IMAM HUSAYN (A.S) – HEIR OF THE PROPHETS (Analyzing the phenomenon of deviation as witnessed by the Prophets)
By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 7 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town)
In our discussion about deviation in history we have thus far discussed strategies of despotic rulers to establish their arrogant system over the masses and to exploit and oppress them.
In the last lecture, we discussed one major strategy they use, namely, the polarization of the society ie. Dividing the society into groups, or classes.
In verse 4 of Surah Qasas (chapter 28 of the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
“Surely Fir’oun (Pharaoh) exalted himself in the land and made its people into parties, weakening one party from among them; he slaughtered their sons and let their women live; surely he was one of the mischiefmakers.”
This verse is saying Fir’oun (Pharaoh) established his superiority over the people and made them into factions, in order to oppress them.
This is their strategy to divide the society. We said that an arrogant or oppressive system depends on 3 pillars of society for achieving their goals and ensuring their survival, namely:
1. Mutrafin – those enjoying excessive luxury with no concern for anyone else except themselves;
2. Mala’ – elite and affluent people (political establishment) who have a way to control others;
3. Raghib / Roh’baan – corrupt clergy who endorse the above to make the arrogant system functional
MUTRAFIN – PEOPLE WHO CONTROL ECONOMIC POWER
This is a life of luxury without any feeling or sense of responsibilities towards others. There is no concern for others and they are drowned in their comfortable and relaxed life.
These people of rich resources play an important role in setting up the arrogant system.
Further to our last discussion, there is one more point that is important to include under this discussion of Mutrafin.
In verse 16 of Surah al-Israa, Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نُهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُوا فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيرًا
“And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.”
Allah (SWT) is saying in this verse “if We want to destroy a society…”
Is this possible that Allah (SWT) wants to destroy a society??
Not at all!
Allah (SWT) has established certain principles (a system of cause and effect), so much so that if you decide by YOUR FREE WILL to act against these principles, then the natural result is that you will be destroyed.
So it is not that Allah (SWT) has taken away your free will and decided for you to be destroyed!
Allah (SWT) is referring here to the rich in society who break all the limits. They have no sense of concern for anybody and no fear of Almighty Allah (SWT).
They are the major reason for destruction of society. This group of people holds all the resources without any concern for the rest of society.
MALA’ – THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT
Raghib Isfahani was a great scholar who is well known for his studies on the vocabulary of the Holy Quran.
He says Mala’ is a group of people who “fill the eyes of the people”, meaning they have an impactful presence. When you see them it causes your jaw to drop!
They are not only rich but more importantly they are part of a ruling establishment and you can supposedly never go against establishment…
In our own world, it is so common to find people raising their voice in support of the oppressed or marginalized.
They appear to be sincere in their efforts, but when they come into power they can hardly achieve anything!
The reason for this is because the political establishment does not allow for any to steer away from singing their tune, else you will be eliminated!
Quran REPEATEDLY refers to this group of people. Let us explore a couple of issues with this class of society called Mala’.
Firstly, they are only concerned about their own interests and they protect it. Since this system is designed to protect their interest they become part of the system. If anybody resists against them, Quran says they don’t mind killing you.
Quran says Mala’ is the cause of martyrdom of Ambiya (Prophets) across history. They will not necessarily be the one to pull the trigger, but they will strategize and conspire to eliminate you.
Mala’ among Ambiya is a commonly discussed in the Holy Quran.
Examples are Mala’ experienced by Ambiya such as Nuh, Hud, Saleh, Yusuf, Musa, etc. This class of society called Mala’ has a key role in the opposition of almost every Prophet and is the biggest obstacle to the spread of truth in an arrogant system.
They may not always appear in the form of individuals. They appear in the form of organisations dictating over the world’s poorer nations. Global multi-nationals and the World Bank are practical examples.
RAGHIB / ROH’BAAN – CORRUPT RELIGIOUS CLERGY
“Raghib” is defined as someone who has dedicated himself to Almighty Allah (SWT) and has left the material world behind. They don’t enjoy any luxury of this worldly life and they retreat.
So how is it possible for this group of people to be the reason for oppressors to operate their arrogant system?
The Holy Quran speaks about this group in a number of verses, explaining that trouble comes from this group through oppressive rulers exploiting them in 2 ways, namely:
1. Clergy with a dead conscience; and
2. Clergy who chase their worldly pursuits
CLERGY WITH A DEAD CONSCIENCE
They are very, very committed and devoted to Allah (SWT), to the point where they seclude themselves from society.
They are indeed very sincere, but the result of this approach is that they become like idols.
Quran says this approach is a bidah (innovation), because this is not what Allah (SWT) wanted from pious people. This is their innovation to remove themselves from society to focus on their religious commitments, and not a Quranic command.
This is so common in our society too, with pious people not accepting their responsibility towards uplifting society, but rather, their focus is restricted to their personal spirituality!
They are indeed sincere, but the result of this approach is that they become like idols!
So if someone is oppressing or exploiting people they will say take it as a test in this world and you must persevere.
They will say that this world is not worthwhile and you must focus on the next life after death. They will even say it is pre-destiny!
Indeed, it sounds very correct and beautiful, because life in this world truly does not have any value.
The problem is that these people pose no threat to the oppressive establishment, so the passive approach from these types of pious people is EXPLOITED because it plays into the hands of oppressors!!
DEAD CONSCIENCE IN KARBALA – IMAM HUSAYN’S (AS) BIGGEST FRUSTRATION
There are plenty of such examples in the same history of Karbala.
The population of Muslims reached to millions during the time of Imam Husayn (AS). The Islamic empire was huge, stretching across continents such as Africa, Europe and Asia. There was representation from all regions in Hajj.
Imam Husayn (AS) arrived in Mecca around 3 Shabaan. He was in Mecca until 8 Thil Hijja (ie over 4 months).
Durung this time, he met with ordinary people and delegations and explained his reasoning.
He complained to the people: “Don’t you see that truth is not being practiced? Don’t you see that falsehood is not being forbidden? Don’t you see the direction of destruction this Ummah is going into?”
Imam Husayn (AS) tried all the means of communication, all kinds of reasoning, meetings and discussions, but hardly anyone heeded his call.
Only 72 people which included his own family accompanied him.
WHERE WERE THE ULAMA AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE? WHY WERE THEY QUIET?? WHY DID THEY NOT JOIN THE ARMY OF OPPOSITION?
Husayn (AS) was the grandson of Rasulullah (SAWA), for whom there are authentic narrations in Sunni and Shia resources which are both Sahih and Mutawatir, meaning their authenticity has reached to the level where it is impossible to deny or dispute.
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said:
“Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn, Allah loves those who love Husayn”
“Hasan and Husayn are leaders of the youth of Jannat”
ROLE OF RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS IN MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HUSAYN (AS)
In place of understanding the spirit and message of Karbala, we see the deception of the people of Kufa is often exploited for sectarian purposes. The sinister and wicked argument put forward for sectarian purposes goes as follows:
– People of Kufa were Shia (supposedly);
– Shia are the people who invited Imam Husayn (AS);
– Shia deceived Imam Husayn (AS);
– Shia are the people who killed Imam Husayn (AS)
This is a very deliberate superficial reading of history, a baseless argument with false accusations which has been responded to repeatedly.
But let us entertain this argument for a moment.
Shia was always a minority, so the question then is where were the majority to support Husayn (AS)?
Why were there only 72 people with him? Where were the religious people?
Where were the millions of Muslims in the Islamic population?
If Shia were killing Husayn (AS) then why were the Sunnis not there to support Husayn (AS)?
Even though they were not in opposition they were not there to support either…
Perhaps these religious people were sincere.
They could not be bothered with despotic rulers like Mu’awiya and Yazid , because they could still fulfill their ritual duties under these oppressors.
The purpose of such religious people was to ensure that their individual responsibility towards Akhirah (Hereafter) is fulfilled, with zero attention paid to their communal responsibility!
In fact there are so-called pious people who suggested to Imam Husayn (AS) not to go to Karbala! They suggested to Imam Husayn (AS) to rather go to Yemen. The people of Yemen love Ahlul Bayt (AS). They will take good care of you Husayn (AS) and you don’t need to pay allegiance to Yazid!
Interestingly, this is an enduring feature of the people of Yemen even today!…they don’t submit to despotic rulers.
So now we understand how so-called religious clergy without proper understanding of Islam become ideal for exploitation by despotic rulers. Yazeed and Muawiya exploited them, like Fir’oun did earlier in the history.
CLERGY WHO CHASE THEIR WORLDLY PURSUITS
The second type of corrupt clergy are those who even have no real concern for Akhirah (hereafter).
They are only interested about their worldly pursuit THROUGH religion!
They are different to the first group.
They provide explicit endorsement for oppressors, which contrast with the first group who provide implicit endorsement of oppressors through their silence!!
In the first lecture we said that deviation is not possible without distortion. You will notice that each of these discussions is built on the lecture preceding it.
Sometimes, the message of religion is distorted with the first approach of the religious clergy, and sometimes the second approach is used to serve oppressors.
Neither have any basis in religion.
Verse 34 of Surah Tawba (chapter 9 of the Holy Quran) explains this deviant role of corrupt clergy very clearly:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنْفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
“O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah’s way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement”
The commentators of Quran explains that “Roh’baan” referred to in these verses is not limited to the “monks” in Christianity but refers to religious leadership in general including Muslim religious leadership.
CORRUPT CLERGY IN THE FORM OF UMAR IBN SA’AD
Imam Husayn (AS) faced many in this second group!
The commander of Bani Umayyah in Karbala is Umar ibn Sa’ad. Ibni Ziyad imposed on him this mission to kill Husayn (AS).
Who is Umar ibn Sa’ad ? He does not have any military credentials. He was a religious leader!!
He is the son of a prominent Sahabi (companion of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)) Sa’ad ibni abi Waqqas, who was from the first generation of Muslims and even led one of the battles. He founded the city of Kufa in Iraq.
So why appoint Umar ibn Sa’ad as the commander of the opposition army in Karbala?
On face value, his CV is a complete misfit for this job?
Reason is EXPLOITATION OF CORRUPT CLERGY!
It was a very shrewd tactic by ibni Ziyad wanting to poison the minds of the people and gain legitimacy for the tragedy of Karbala with the message that the person leading the war (Umar ibn Sa’ad) is a religious authority with a distinguished background!!
Why is Umar ibn Sa’ad ready to commit this heinous crime?
The reason is because he has been promised the governorship of Ray (present day Tehran), but only if he killed Imam Husayn (AS).
This man, with this pseudo sanctimonious background is now confused. He has a toss-up between Dunya (this material world) on the one hand and Akhirah (the hereafter) on the other, but he wants both!
The key lesson to remember is that Dunya and Akhirah cannot be reconciled. You need to decide between the one or the other.
Shuray ibn Harith was the Chief Justice of Kufa who legitimized ibni Ziyad’s rule. He also gave the fatwa (religious edict) for the brutal killing of Hani ibn Urwa and Muslim ibn Aqil.
In our times today we see no shortage of such clergy! Muftis and Sheikhs of Saudi who endorse the killing of the children in Yemen are one of many examples.
They sell their soul and religion for prominence. They never speak about the oppressed in Palestine, but endorse killing in Yemen!
This is the very serious challenge of corrupt clergy! The terrorist groups in existence today like ISIS are a result of this due to corrupt clergy being in service of oppressive regimes.
Karbala is inspiration against corrupt clergy and corrupt authority.
ZAINAB (SA) AND HER COURAGE IS BEYOND OUR COMPREHENSION
In conclusion, we remember the relationship of a brother and sister. Karbala is not complete without a sister, whose life and everything is committed to Husayn (AS).
Zainab (SA) is the one who stood firm despite the huge calamities on her hands, and she is the reason why we know about the tragedy of Karbala.
We remember the great courage from Sayeda Zainab (SA), who witnessed the complete massacre in the battlefield and had to endure the most challenging aftermath of Karbala, as if the tragedy on the day of Ashura was not enough.
To be continued…..