Jumuah lecture on Friday 10 January 2020 (14 Jamadil Awwal 1441)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 22 of Surah Ahzab (chapter 33 of the Holy Quran):
وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا
‘When the Believers saw the Confederate forces, they said: “This is what Allah and his Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger told us what was true.” And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience.’
According to commentators of the Holy Quran, this verse speaks about some type of promise given to the believers. Some of the commentators have expressed that this verse refers to what our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said at that juncture, that very soon all the disbelievers will be united against them. In other words, according to them, this verse was revealed in the context of the Battle of Ahzab, where all the forces of disbelief (kufr) were united against Islam.
Other commentators of the Holy Quran have gone deeper in their analysis to say that this verse refers to a divine trend that if we want to stand and resist on the path of truth (haqq) against falsehood (baatil), then we will very soon see all the forces of kufr and falsehood will unite against us. They will attack and assault us together, because travelling on this path of truth, which results in paradise and the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT), is not without trials and hardships.
In particular, they refer to verse 214 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran), where this Sunan (divine trend) is established:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُمْ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ ۖ مَسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
‘Or do you think that you would enter the garden while yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you; distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently, so that the Messenger and those who believed with him said: When will the help of Allah come? Now surely the help of Allah is nigh!’
This verse explains that those who are undergoing such stern tests would question where is the victory of Allah (SWT), since they are surrounded by hardships. The promise at the end of this verse is that we should know that victory is not very far. This is what the Holy Quran is explaining as a divine tradition in the history of the struggle of truth against falsehood. Falsehood (baatil) unites against truth (haqq), and there are people who may question when is the victory of Almighty Allah (SWT) coming. The end of this verse therefore affirms the promise of this divine victory.
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH IN THE HELP OF ALLAH (SWT)
This unity of falsehood, and alliance with disbelief (kufr) does not shake those on the path of truth. In fact, it increases their faith (Imaan), as explained in the last part of verse 22 of Surah Ahzab cited earlier:
وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا
‘And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience.’
The reason why such tests increase their stability in faith is because they reflect upon them as Sunnatun min Sunanillah – the divine trend and tradition.
This then leads us into verse 23 of Surah Ahzab, which very beautifully explains what type of people these are, who stand firm against the alliance of disbelief and falsehood:
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
‘Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.’
These people are unwavering in their commitment, and all the tests do not disrupt their focus. Indeed, in face of the alliance of falsehood and disbelief to destroy truth, the commitment of the people of faith is that they have increased their submission to the will of Almighty Allah (SWT). Some have already fulfilled their promise, while others are awaiting their time to fulfil the promise to the divine. For them, this is the ultimate achievement and salvation in their life.
ALLIANCES OF FALSEHOOD ARE CREATING CLOUDS OF CONFUSION TO DECEIVE US
Brothers and sisters, I recited these verses 22 and 23 of Surah Ahzab, referring to the Battle of Ahzab, and referring to the different reactions of the people. I explained these verses for us to understand the situation we are facing in our world today, where we see the alliance between kufr (disbelief) and baatil (falsehood) against truth (haqq) and people of faith (Imaan).
In this situation, many people are lost and confused, asking “mataa nasrullah” – when will the help of Allah (SWT) come? In the same scenario, we have those whose faith is intensified through the tests we are facing today.
We are all acutely aware of how the geo-political spectrum has changed with the assassination and martyrdom of Major General Qaasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and the subsequent events. This has caused the world to look very differently today. The key question I want to leave you with to reflect upon is: What type of faith (Imaan) and God-consciousness (Taqwa) do people like this have, such that this satanic alliance of the enemies did not shake them.
It did not corner them to a position where they questioned when is the help of Allah (SWT) coming. Instead, they were true to the covenant they made with their Lord (SWT).
Referring again to verse 23 of Surah Ahzab, which explains that there are people who have fulfilled their promise by giving their life, and offering whatever they have, and then there are those who are waiting in the wings, for their time to arrive:
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.
WHO WAS QAASIM SOLEIMANI AND WHY IS THE WORLD SHAKEN?
Millions of people came out into the streets of Iran and Iraq to commemorate these 2 martyrs, and especially Major General Qaasim Soleimani. The enemies of Islam seriously miscalculated. They did not know who is Qaasim Soleimani. They looked at him as a military commander. They did not know that before he is Major General Qaasim Soleimani, he is that humble servant of Islam, lover of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and inspired by Imam Husain (a.s).
He comes from a small village in the Kerman Province, with no tertiary degrees or academic excellence next to his name, but with amazing Imaan and Taqwa which ruled over millions upon millions of people across the region and the world.
At the peak of his popularity in the Islamic Republic of Iran, somebody suggested to him to stand for presidency, as he will surely win the election uncontested. Qaasim Soleimani replied that he is not a nominee for presidency, but rather, he is a nominee for martyrdom! He is seeking for his meeting with his Lord (SWT). This is what verse 23 of Surah Ahzab is referring to:
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ
‘Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah.’
The enemies did not know what is the meaning of verse 111 of Surah Tauba (chapter 9 of the Holy Quran), which explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) has purchased the souls from a group of mu’mineen (true believers), and the price in return in Paradise:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ ۚ
‘Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise).’
The great scholars and commentators of the Holy Quran have provided beautiful insight in interpreting this verse. They say that buying and selling takes place between 2 parties. One party is the owner ie. the seller, and the counterparty is the buyer. The seller offers and the buyer purchases. Now, in this Quranic verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) is the buyer, and the true believers (Mu’mineen) are the sellers. The souls of the true believers are being sold.
Now, their analysis goes further, saying that souls do not belong to the mu’min, but rather, it is the trust from Almighty Allah (SWT). So, how can a mu’min sell his/her soul to Allah (SWT) if he/she does not own it to start with? They explain this as nothing but the relationship between a lover and the beloved, where everything of the lover belongs to the beloved, and the beloved offers everything to the lover! Almighty Allah (SWT) is therefore buying something which already belongs to Him, and what He is offering also belongs to Him!
This is the best of deals, because you are able to sell, while you do not own! You are a clear winner in this case!
There are a few points of reflection on the assassination and martyrdom of Major General Qaasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Firstly, understanding this phenomenon of Sunnatullah, and how people respond to challenges. This is what we elaborated upon in the first khutbah.
Secondly, it is also important to understand that those people who have faith in Almighty Allah (SWT) and their love of Him repels any association with the delusions of this world, become the beloved of the conscious people of this world. Those who want to be unknown for the sake of the love of Almighty Allah (SWT) became headline newsmakers across the world.
For these martyrs, who have been introduced to the world as murderers and masterminds of terror, we see how people have come into the streets in huge numbers to cry for them more than they would for the lost of their most loved ones. This gives us a glimpse into how this Sunnatullah works!
THE RESEMBLANCE OF QAASIM SOLEIMANI TO MALIK AL-ASHTAR
Shaheed Qaasim Soleimani is indeed a very important personality to understand, and people have tried to draw parallels with the great commander of Imam Ali (a.s), by the name of Malik al-Ashtar. There are no doubt great similarities between these two great personalities. Taqwa, Imaan, humility, being with the people are some of the key attributes of resemblance.
You see, one of the great qualities of Shaheed Qaasim Soleimani was that he kept himself above the internal politics of Iran. Therefore, he became the hero for each and every one. People who are seen as the opposition of Iran, living in Western countries, of which some are academics, have found no option other than to surrender to the giant impact of this man and his position. This is amazing to reflect on how the blood of a martyr brings the hearts of the people together.
Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli explains that the blood of martyrs is the life of a nation, in reference to verse 169 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran):
وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ
‘And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.’
Martyrdom revives the consciousness and drives them. This is exactly what happened in the aftermath to events of 3 January 2020. This is evident beyond the borders of Iran too. We see how much the enemies have tried in the past few months to provoke through supposed civil platforms of democracy and human rights, stoking the fires of Arab versus non-Arab nationalism to create antagonism towards Iran from within Iraq. We see through the blood of these martyrs, how the scenario has turned all these sinister attempts on its head!
The people of Iraq have shown amazing respect to these heroic martyrs. Even in our own society, people tried to portray Qaasim Soleimani as a sectarian figure, but his martyrdom has forced these same people to surrender such mentality. We saw this with the first person to arrive for the Janazah of Qaasim Soleimani was none other than Ismail Haniyyah, the leader of Hamas.
QAASIM SOLEIMANI’S MISSION IS APPRECIATED BY ALL OPPRESSED
We see from the reaction to the martyrdom, that the spirit of the work of Shaheed Qaasim Soleimani was non-sectarian. This becomes clear when we read the statement issued by the mufti of Iraq, Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, and people like Leila Khaled who calls him the son of Palestine!
Furthermore, this becomes even clearer when we see the people of Gaza regarding Qaasim Soleimani as their martyr. Similarly, we see this trend with the commemoration of his martyrdom in the churches of Iraq. It is because he crossed the limits of narrow sectarian lines and rescued all oppressed, irrespective of ideological affiliation.
In the earlier sermons of Jumuah, we discussed that one of the areas which the Holy Quran as being evidence of fitna is where truth and falsehood are mixed. This is where it is explained in the Quran that those with Imaan and Taqwa have Baseerat. They have clarity of vision, and therefore, they do not get fooled in these clouds of confusion. This is Taqwa, which opens the eyes, for which academic degrees are not necessarily required!
Qaasim Soleimani had that foresight! Each and every one of us, including myself, had great difficulty coming to terms when the mess in Syria started, since we are not admirers of Bashar al-Assad. The problem was that we could not see the broader plan of the enemy and what was their agenda.
We could not see that deep, because we were fixated on the notion of people fighting for their legitimate rights in their country, and then being infiltrated by terrorist organisations in the form of al-Qaeda and their affiliates, and then of course ISIS came and made inroads.
The picture was so murky, that it became very difficult to really see what is right and what is wrong. This is where one understands why people are drawing parallels between Qaasim Soleimani and Malik al-Ashtar, because Malik had the vision to see what lies far ahead.
COURAGE OF IMAM ALI (A.S) TO FIGHT THE PIOUS FRAUDS
Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) had a similar opposition in the form of the Khawarij. There are 3 battles which occurred during the era of rule of Imam Ali (a.s), namely Siffin, Jamal and Nahrawan. Very important to note that all three battles are against Muslims! The details are a lengthy discussion, but the worst of these three was Nahrawan, which was against the Khawarij, a group of people who were supposedly very pious!
This is where we admire what Imam Ali (a.s) says, that nobody other than him had the courage to stand up to the Khawarij. It is very easy to stand against falsehood and disbelief, and those who openly transgress the law of Almighty Allah (SWT). It is very easy to oppose this, and everybody will come and join you!
However, standing up against people who have big calluses of Sajdah on their foreheads, who are Hafiz of Quran, who fast during the day and are occupied through the night in Ibadah, requires great foresight to understand who they really are. As Imam Ali (a.s) says in Nahjul Balagha, these people are the sharpest arrows in the bow of the enemy to target Islam! This is where he provides his graphic description, that he pulled out the eye of this fitna!
It is with this group, the Khawarij, that the confusion of truth and falsehood is at its peak, requiring Baseerat to distinguish between the two when they are decorated to create confusion.
People like Qaasim Soleimani could manage to see through this confusion, and it got proven to us eventually. The outcome of this mess in Syria was that ISIS emerged. We could not see that initially, and unfortunately people are still confused and lost, even though it is clearer for us to see now.
WE ALL OWE DEEP GRATITUDE TO QAASIM SOLEIMANI
Brothers and sisters, Soleimani did not rescue Shias, nor did he rescue Bashar al-Assad. Instead, Soleimani rescued humanity from a cancerous disease by the name of ISIS and extremism. Today, the world should be thankful to this man. He stood in the face of this evil. Those who are claiming victory today over ISIS are in fact the ones who created ISIS. They acknowledge the fact that they supported ISIS and treated their injured in their hospitals. This is what it is, but Qaasim Soleimani stood with his Baseerat like Malik al-Ashtar and his master Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s).
May the infinite mercy and blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) be upon these martyrs.
I insist, this is not an Iranian issue, nor is it a Sunni/Shia issue. Instead, Qaasim Soleimani was the face of resistance against fascism and authoritarian, American hegemony. Qaasim Soleimani was the face of resistance against injustice and oppression, extremism and terrorism which threatens not only Muslims, but humanity at large.
How can we forget the tragedy which occurred two years ago in Durban, when people under the name of Allah (SWT) and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) attacked the Imam Husain (a.s) Mosque complex in Durban, burning it down and killed a young man who defended the honour and dignity of the mosque and injured others.
Where is South Africa and where is the Middle East??? The disaster in the Middle East reached our shores too! How can we forget the role of people like Qaasim Soleimani, especially in that era of confusion, when we were lost with clarity on which direction we are going.
Qaasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and those similar to them presented the axis of resistance against the axis of evil.