Jumuah lecture on Friday 4 December 2020 (17 Rabial-Thani 1442)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
In the last verse (29) of Surah Fath (chapter 48 of the Holy Quran), Almighty Allah (SWT) addresses us with the following very important message:
مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ ٱللَّهِ ۚ وَٱلَّذِينَ مَعَهُۥٓ أَشِدَّآءُ عَلَى ٱلْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَآءُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ تَرَىٰهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرِضْوَٰنًا ۖ سِيمَاهُمْ فِى وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ ٱلسُّجُودِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِى ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةِ ۚ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِى ٱلْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْـَٔهُۥ فَـَٔازَرَهُۥ فَٱسْتَغْلَظَ فَٱسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِۦ يُعْجِبُ ٱلزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ ٱلْكُفَّارَ ۗ وَعَدَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًۢا
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh); and those with him are fierce against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allāh and [His] pleasure. Their mark [i.e., sign] is on their faces [i.e., foreheads] from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that by them He may infuriate the disbelievers. Allāh has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.”
In this verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) describes the qualities of the people who are with our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). This verse starts with the headline emphasis on the status of Muhammad (SAWA) as the final Messenger, leader and guide of the people.
DISTINGUISHED QUALITIES OF THE NATION OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
This verse goes on to state that the discussion which will follow is not confined to him personally, as it is in the context of him being Rasulullah (SAWA) and those who are with him, not as companions of the individual Muhammad (SAWA), but more particularly in their capacity as companions of Muhammad (SAWA), the Messenger of Allah (SWT).
This verse explains the qualities of his true companions:
1. Ashiddaa’u ‘alal kuffaar: They are firm with the disbelievers
2. Ruhamaaa’u bainahum: They are compassionate, caring and kind among themselves
3. Taraahum rukka’an sujjadan yabtaghoona fadlam minal laahi wa ridwaanan seemaahum fee wujoohihim min asaris sujood: You will see them occupied in bowing and prostration, seeking the bounties and pleasure of Allah (SWT). They are distinguished from others with the calluses of prostration on their forehead. This quality highlights their deep devotion and trust in Almighty Allah (SWT).
4. Zaalika masaluhum fit tawraah wa masaluhum fil Injeel: Their example and parable in the Torah and Gospel too
5. Kazar’in akhraja shat ‘ahoo fa ‘aazarahoo fastaghlaza fastawaa ‘alaa sooqihee: They are like a tree that puts forth its shoots, then strengthens it so that it becomes stout and stands firmly upon its stalks.
We can now appreciate the detailed description of Muhammadur Rasulullah (SAWA) and his true companions from this verse, referencing them to the Torah and Bible as well, where they are described as being like a healthy tree with branches growing very nicely, firmly established on its roots ie. they stand strong on their own and are not parasites!
This verse then describes the happiness of the One who planted this tree “yu’jibuz zurraa’a” ie. when Rasulullah (SAWA) and his companions display this growth, self-reliance and independence described above.
There is also an after effect, in that this growth, self-reliance and independence infuriates the disbelievers “liyagheeza bihimul kuffaar”.
This verse then concludes with the promise of glad tidings from Almighty Allah (SWT). He promises forgiveness and a great reward for those who have faith and good deeds.
“wa’adal laahul lazeena aamanoo wa ‘amilus saalihaati minhum maghfiratanw wa ajran ‘azeemaa”
QURANIC PRINCIPLE IS THAT SELF-RELIANCE BRINGS DIGNITY TO A NATION
What we learn from this verse is that besides firmness, compassion and spirituality, the very important characteristic of the Ummah (nation) of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is self-reliance. This is emphasized in various verses of the Holy Quran, and through various ways of conveying the same message.
Sometimes the Holy Quran establishes a principle and says that any nation needs to be self-sufficient, and not only the nation of Rasulullah (SAWA). This means that regardless of what their faith is, the only way for any nation to emerge from a mess is by standing on their own feet. We read this clear message in verse 11 of Surah Ra’ad (chapter 13 of the Holy Quran):
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ
“Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition.”
This is the Quranic approach, that we need to stand on our own feet in order to prosper, instead of being dependent on others.
Another verse which very clearly articulates this principle is the end of verse 141 of Surah Nisaa’ (chapter 4 of the Holy Quran):
وَلَنْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ سَبِيلًا
“And Allah will not give the disbelievers any way (of success) against the believers.”
Again, the clear message is that it is a major problem, and against the Will of Almighty Allah (SWT), for as long as other people have a say over you, and you will place reliance on them. Indeed, Allah (SWT) does not want us to be in a situation where anyone has any form of superiority over us.
SELF-RELIANCE IS REQUIRED IN ALL ASPECTS TO PROTECT SOVEREIGNTY
Another example is the well-known verse 60 of Surah Anfaal (chapter 8 of the Holy Quran), which refers directly to the level of preparation required in military conflict, such that your preparation will place fear in the enemy.
وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ
“And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them.”
This verse explains that being well prepared is one of the best ways to avoid war. This self-reliance will actually chase them away! That being said, the religious scholars and experts in Quranic commentary have elaborated that this verse is not confined to preparation for military conflict, even though it directly addresses it.
They explain that war is not confined to the battlefield, and we see clear evidence of that in our world today, where the biggest war is the economic and media war, and the war of controlling a nation’s resources!
So, we are required to be self-reliant on all these frontiers, and not only militarily.
SELF-RELIANCE EXPLAINED THROUGH THE TEACHINGS OF THE AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Very interestingly, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), the 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), explains the above verse saying that this preparation even goes as far as to include colouring one’s beard because by colouring your grey beard as black, you are sending a message to the opposition that you are young and ready to fight.
Amir al-Mu’mineen, Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s), says in a beautiful Hadith that one of the favours of Almighty Allah (SWT) to a person or a nation is that they do not depend on others. They are fully independent and self-reliant.
Someone approached Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) on a hot Summer day, while he was working in the agricultural fields. He was perspiring quite a lot from the hard work in the sun. This person asked Imam Sadiq (a.s) why is he putting himself through so much trouble working hard in the burning sun and sweating profusely. Imam Sadiq (a.s) replied saying that he came out into the burning hot day to seek rizq (sustenance) so that he does not need to extend his hand in front of others.
So, we see that from an individual level to that of nations, one of the main pillars of command of Almighty Allah (SWT) in measuring the power and dignity of a nation (especially the Islamic Ummah) is that of self-sufficiency.
What is really important is that if a nation, and especially the Islamic Ummah, is independent in all aspects, be it financial, economic, technology, military, production, media, then your position will naturally be superior. You will then not be at the receiving end, as you are not at the mercy of others.
Hence, the Holy Quran warns us that if we will walk along this path of self-sufficiency, then it will naturally attain the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) and this self-reliance will infuriate the enemies, as you are not standing there with your begging bowl in front of others.
SELF-RELIANCE IS INTEGRATED WITH FIRMNESS TO ENEMIES, COMPASSION TO OURSELVES AND TRUST IN ALLAH (SWT)
To recap, self-reliance is the fourth quality after establishing:
1. Firmness with non-believers;
2. Compassionate towards ourselves;
3. Worship of Almighty Allah (SWT)
They are all very much connected. You cannot be firm in its true sense against the enemies if you are depending on them. This is where you do not have an economy which can survive independently, nor do you have a military which can protect your country on its own. You do not have an education system, technology, resources.
If you somehow depend on others for everything, then you cannot really be firm with the enemies. You will be left with no option other than to be dictated by them. You can never take care of your own people if you are not independent, because the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will dictate to you in your own country, how to suck the blood of your own people to pay them back!
So, being compassionate towards your own people is also not possible without self-reliance.
Similarly, worship of Almighty Allah (SWT) is indeed not possible without Tauheed (placing full faith in Him alone), and Tauheed is denial of partners with Allah (SWT) ie. shirk. Furthermore, Tauheed is the denial of superiority and submission to anyone other than Almighty Allah (SWT). This is also in its real sense not possible without self-reliance.
This is not self-reliance where there is no God (SWT). Instead, you rely on your resources based upon full trust and faith that whatever is possible is from Almighty Allah (SWT). With this firm conviction that nobody can defeat us or keep us backwards, because we have firm faith in Almighty Allah (SWT).
Therefore, with the resources, capabilities and capacity provided by Almighty Allah (SWT), we move ahead with this firm trust in Him, to the point where we become a tall tree which is putting forth its branches, growing beautifully without relying on anything else.
This is the reality of our world today!
SELF-RELIANCE ENABLES MUTUAL RESPECT AND NOT SELF-ISOLATION
Let me clarify, that self-reliance does not mean isolation. This is a misunderstanding, because the reality is that we are part of the global village and therefore have a duty towards mutual co-operation.
There are numerous verses of the Holy Quran and the history of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) which bears testament to the fact that interaction with the world is necessary. We live in one world and with globalisation, relationships, co-operation and exchange of ideas is there. However, this is very different to placing dependency on others.
If you are in a position of self-reliance before interacting with others, you interact with others from the position of mutual respect, rather than on the basis of master and slave!
Let it be clear, that in no way am I trying to convey a message of self-isolation or being disconnected from the world. Self-reliance provides us with the best position to interact with the world at large, including our enemies.
This is the message of the Holy Quran.
As the Holy Quran says in verse 29 of Surah Fath (chapter 48), which is also our theme for this khutbah (sermon), the enemies become upset if we pursue this direction of self-reliance. This is what we have been witnessing across the centuries in this political order operating in the world.
ASSASSINATION OF MOHSEN FAKHRIZADEH – AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO IMPERIALIST HEGEMONY
Whenever a nation tries to stand on its own feet, wanting to be self-sufficient, these ungrateful rejectors of God, who believe that they are themselves the supreme power and everyone else must be enslaved to them, reflect on this progress of any nation as a threat to them. Therefore, they do not allow progress!
What we witnessed last week with the assassination of a great scientist, Professor Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran, Iran by the agents of the Zionists is exactly this anger from the enemies.
Our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a), with his amazing vision, had a very beautiful statement saying that “when they cannot defeat us, they kill our scholars and thinkers, and this is evidence of their helplessness”.
This is proof of their weakness that they kill innocent people. They want to kill the brains trust of a nation which is striving for self-reliance. This is a nation which wants to give this clear message to the world that you do not need to be beggars before these powers forever. You can stand on your own and rely on your own resources and trust in your God (SWT) and still succeed!
Now, this message is a direct challenge to their monopoly and imperialist agenda, and they therefore respond in this terribly uncivilized manner by killing highly acclaimed scholars and thinkers. This is the 8th or 9th nuclear scientist who has been assassinated by the agents of Zionist Israel.
وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ
“And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah.”
Verse 54 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran)
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ
“Their intention is to extinguish Allah’s Light (by blowing) with their mouths: But Allah will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it).”
Verse 8 of Surah Saff (chapter 61 of the Holy Quran)
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN IS THAT STOUT TREE MAINTAINING SELF-RESPECT OF THE MUSLIM UMMAH
Years and years have passed with this pure tree (shajaratan tayyibah) of the Islamic Revolution, in the face of sanctions, wars, aggression, internal and external conspiracies, boycotts and every trick they have tried. Nobody has succeeded in making this resilient nation bow down, and now again, they will not be successful.
There are many things playing in the background, but Almighty Allah (SWT) is our final trust and shelter. Our prayers are with this brave nation which withstands all these pressures and crimes committed against them.
We all see how bad coronavirus is in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Basic infrastructure is proving hard to facilitate those who are sick with Covid-19. As we all know, diabetic patients require insulin, and even this basic necessity for survival is blocked by the enemies from Iran to import.
Again, it goes back to the message I have repeated in this discussion, the fight for self-reliance is met with the anger of the enemies where they will cut you from basic human requirements for survival.
Sometimes one wonders what really the source of the conflict is. Iran, throughout its history, has never occupied any country, nor has it attacked any country, nor has it assassinated people abroad. What is the fear of the enemies towards this country other than it saying that it wants to be on their own, without being subservient slaves of others?
This is the punishment meted out to them. Indeed, the promise of Almighty Allah (SWT) is that of divine help and victory to those who have firm faith, good actions and perseverance.
وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ
“and victory is only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.”
Verse 126 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran)