Jumuah lecture on Friday 30 July 2021 (19 Dhul Hijja 1442)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Once again, in this sacred hour of Jumuah, we express our profound gratitude to Almighty Allah (SWT), our Creator, our Nourisher, our Protector, who has once again provided us the opportunity to assemble for Salatul Jumuah, in these very difficult and challenging conditions.
We pray to Him to relieve the Ummah (Muslim nation) and humanity at large from this pandemic, and may He grant recovery to those who are not well, and also to grant strength and protection to those who are serving the people on the frontline.
With this dua (supplication) in this sacred hour of Jumuah, I would like to remind myself and everyone to exalt towards Taqwa (God-consciousness) of Almighty Allah (SWT). In light of this call towards Taqwa being the main advice of the Jumuah khutbah (sermon), I would like to draw your attention to verse 13 of Surah Hujraat (chapter 49 of the Holy Quran), where Almighty Allah (SWT) addresses humanity:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”
Similarly, in verse 92 of Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21 of the Holy Quran), Almighty Allah (SWT) addresses us as follows:
إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ
Surely this Islam is your religion, one religion (only), and I am your Lord, therefore serve Me.
I want to elaborate on some crucial points from these two very important verses of the Holy Quran.
QURANIC PERSPECTIVE ON DIVERSITY IN HUMANITY AND ONE NATION
From verse 13 cited from Surah Hujraat, Almighty Allah (SWT):
- First and foremost establishes that the origin of human beings is one.
- There is no diversity in the origin of humanity. Rather, diversity exists in the development and expansion of humanity into a very large global reality. The important point we learn from this verse 13 of Surah Hujraat is that Almighty Allah (SWT) very much recognizes this diversity through the following statement:
وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا
and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other)
- What we also learn from this statement is that this diversity has a purpose, which is the recognition of each other from different aspects.
- Furthermore, the criterion for preference of one over the other is not this diversity of humanity into nations and tribes. Instead, the criterion for preference is Taqwa!
- The concluding statement affirms the full knowledge of Almighty Allah (SWT) on this diversity and social fabric of human society.
Then, from verse 92 of Surah Anbiyaa cited above, Almighty Allah (SWT) makes no mention of nations and tribes, but rather emphasizes here that we human beings are all one nation, and we should therefore worship Him as our One Lord (SWT).
These are such pertinent points in Islamic thought to keep us focused.
TRIBALISM WAS THE DOMINANT REALITY IN PRE-ISLAMIC ERA OF JAHILIYYA
Without any doubt, Islam appeared in a society where the tribal system was upheld quite strongly. Tribalism was the ruling criteria, so much so that we find wording in Arabic stating that we should “support your brother, irrespective if he is the oppressor or the oppressed”.
In pre-Islamic society, there was no bigger evil (other than Shirk ie. attributing partners to Almighty Allah (SWT)) than tribalism. This was the age whereby people and society were divided based upon tribes. One of the major warfronts of Islam against the evils of Jahiliyya (era of ignorance) was on the scourge of tribalism.
Even the migration (Hijra) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) to Medina, and the welcome received by him and acceptance of Islam by the people of Medina, also has the same tribal background. What I am trying to say is that the society of Medina suffered for centuries due to tribal wars.
The killing and suffering amongst the various tribes in Medina reached the point where it became completely unbearable. Hence, the major attraction for them was that Islam fights against tribalism and in fact, rises above it.
When they came to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), they expressed their great resentment for these tribal wars, imploring him to rescue them from this ocean of evil in which they were drawn into.
According to all historians, including orientalists, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was successful in combating tribalism.
SPIRIT OF ANSAR AND MUHAJIRUN WAS BASED ON TAQWA AND PLEASURE OF ALLAH (SWT)
There is so much to discuss on this topic of tribal identity versus religious identity, which is impossible to do justice to in only this discussion. However, the intent is to provoke some thinking from the points discussed, and to respond to the different trends of thought in this society, which we unfortunately continue to suffer from.
One thing to bear in mind, which I highlighted in the prelude from the two verses cited above, from Surah Hujraat and Surah Anbiyaa respectively, is that Islam as a whole and Rasulullah (SAWA) did not uproot the tribal system, as verse 13 of Surah Hujraat establishes the recognition of this social dynamic in a society. There is plenty of evidence to support this fact.
Now, what Rasulullah (SAWA) managed to do successfully was introduce a new concept of unity, namely One Nation (Ummatan Wahida). The terminology which he beautifully introduced gave credence to this, namely Mu’mineen (true believers), Mujahideen (freedom fighters), etc.
The society of Medina had two very important demographics. They are the people who migrated from Mecca along with Rasulullah (SAWA), and the inhabitants of Medina. Having said that, the people of Mecca were divided into tribes.
Similarly, the people of Medina were very strongly divided, presenting a very serious challenge in its own way. Against this backdrop, we still see that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) introduced terminology like Muhajir (migrant) and Ansar (supporter), referring to those people who migrated from Mecca to Medina (Muhajirun), and those local inhabitants of Medina who supported the migrants.
So, the Ansar were the hosts of the guests (Muhajirun), and the spirit of both groupings was Taqwa and seeking the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT).
DID PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) ERADICATE TRIBALISM?
All historians and sociologists who have conducted insightful analysis of history acknowledge this fact that Rasulullah (SAWA) was miraculously successful in overcoming this tribal prejudice in such a short space of time, and instead created a united society. He established social cohesion based upon Taqwa and Imaan (faith) in Almighty Allah (SWT).
This is a significant achievement of our Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Now, the question is, did this tribal prejudice disappear as a result of this social cohesion which Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) established? Indeed, he was able to guide the society as One Nation, but the question is whether the tribal prejudice that prevailed before him was erased from the psyche of Arab society.
The fact of the matter is, UNFORTUNATELY NOT!
Therefore, very soon after our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) departed from this world, we find that tribalism re-emerged in full force. This is an undeniable fact of history. There is no doubt that the assassination of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Caliphs of Islam had tribal motivation involved.
ABU SUFYAN: INSATIABLE LUST TO ESTABLISH THE POWER OF THE UMAYYAD DYNASTY
When the 3rd Caliph of Islam was placed into power, Abu Sufyan, the elder of Bani Umayyah, came forward very proudly and openly announced that “finally we, Umayyads, have the power, which will stay with us forever”. Abu Sufyan, as we all know, was the arch enemy of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), involved in every conspiracy against the Islamic movement.
History recorded that Abu Sufyan went to the grave of Hamza, Sayyid-as-Shuhada, who was martyred in the most brutal way in the Battle of Uhud. He then said at the grave of Hamza, “May the mercy of Allah (SWT) be upon you. I wanted to personally inform you that you fought to take power away from us Umayyads, and we now have it back!”
In the history of Islam, I will not be exaggerating when I say that the Umayyads were the epitome of tribal prejudice, hatred and racism.
KHUTBAH QASI’A BY IMAM ALI (A.S): MOST REMARKABLE SERMON 192 OF NAHJUL BALAGHA
I don’t think Imam Ali (a.s) suffered from anything more than the effects of tribalism which emerged beforehand, when he came into power as the 4th Caliph of Islam. Tribalism was an open reality, unfortunately.
In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to a very important sermon by Imam Ali (a.s), known as Khutbah Qasi’a. This is recorded as sermon 192 of Nahjul Balagha, which Imam Ali (a.s) delivered towards the last part of his life.
The city of Kufa, which was the capital city of the Islamic State during the time of Imam Ali (a.s), was divided along tribal lines. These tribes provoked each other, to the point where they would even kill each other. This created vulnerability in society, making it ungovernable. This is when Imam Ali (a.s) went on the back of the camel and delivered this historic Khutbah 192 from this position.
This sermon is so pertinent for us all to study, as it details the painful suffering and grief which Imam Ali (a.s) had to endure. There are two approaches in the political thought of Imam Ali (a.s). These are: Politics as it is supposed to be (ideal state) versus Politics as it is (current reality).
IMAM ALI (A.S): ORIGINS OF TRIBALISM TRACE BACK TO THE ARROGANCE OF IBLIS
In this Khutbah Qasi’a, Amir al-Mu’mineen, Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) takes us through a very deep journey of his thought process, all the way back to the origin of humanity. He says that the problem of Iblis was arrogance, when he refused to act on the command of Almighty Allah (SWT), which was to bow in front of Nabi Adam (a.s), arguing that he is made from fire whereas Nabi Adam (a.s) was made from clay.
Now, Imam Ali (a.s) explains that the source of this arrogance was exactly the argument of Iblis regarding his origin from fire being superior to the origin of Nabi Adam (a.s) from clay. What Imam Ali (a.s) is explaining is that this is the very root cause of tribalism.
Imam Ali (a.s) then further explains so beautifully in this Khutbah Qasi’a about how our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) came to transcend this tribal thinking and successfully brought people together as one united Ummah, irrespective of their tribal or ethnic background.
KHARIJITE MOVEMENT: CLASSIC EMERGENCE OF TRIBALISM IN THE GARB OF PIETY
Imam Ali (a.s) then highlights that this progressive drive went into the reverse gear of the Islamic vehicle after the passing away of Rasulullah (SAWA), when tribalism re-emerged. What Imam Ali (a.s) analyses is that Rasulullah (SAWA) fought against tribalism, not allowing it to become the criteria or preference.
Then, Imam Ali (a.s) explains the dangers of how tribalism influenced the thinking of the people. Now this is something really remarkable to reflect on, due to its relevance up until today! He says that you have ideological groups developing, but the underlying basis for them is tribal identity.
A classic example is the Kharijite movement at that time, which was an extremist, pseudo-sanctimonious movement. They were an ideological grouping, not a tribal grouping. And they were very staunch, adopting an absolutist approach ie. my way or the highway! Now, amazingly, if you analyse the makeup of this Kharijite movement, it was overwhelmingly controlled by one tribe!
In fact, there are Hadith narrated from Rasulullah (SAWA) whereby he predicted about the emergence of the Kharijite movement, and also named certain tribes which will be involved.
What we find in the later stages of Muslim society and history is that they even tried to rationalize a justification for tribalism. This goes beyond the identification of different tribal backgrounds and not being able to come along with those in an opposing tribe.
GHADIER VERSUS SAQIFAH: CLASH OF MERITOCRACY VERSUS TRIBALISM
Congruent with this trend of rationalizing a justification for tribalism, what we see today is that those who call themselves the followers of Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) and proudly call themselves the followers of Ghadier, but they raise slogans of tribalism at the same time! They celebrate Ghadier, but at the same time call for the indigenisation of leadership!
Now let us draw this historical analysis to a conclusion by comparing Ghadier and Saqifah. The arguments presented in Saqifah were:
- One leader should be appointed from the Ansar and another from the Muhajirun
- The counterargument presented was from the Quraysh, who argued that they are the purer Arabs and the real people of that Arabian Peninsula.
These were the criteria presented in Saqifah, whereas the criteria presented in Ghadier by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was meritocratic, based on divine appointment. In Ghadier, Rasulullah (SAWA) asked the 120,000 people present:
- As the divine Prophet of Almighty Allah (SWT), do I not have a higher authority on you than what you have on yourself? And the people answered strongly in the affirmative.
- Rasulullah (SAWA) then declared “Man Kunto Maula fa hazaa Ali-un Mawla” ie. whomever I am his master (maula), this Ali is his master (maula)!
This is the role tribalism played against Imam Ali (a.s) and the diametric contradiction tribalism has to the philosophy of Ghadier.
While they would take ideological positions, the underlying reality looks very different when you scratch beneath the surface! This is the reality we continue to suffer from today.
While I was preparing for today’s sermon, I came across an eye-opening statement by a historian online, where he says that Arabs, even until today, are ruled by a tribal system!
EXTRA SPECIAL EID GHADIER WITH THE RELEASE OF SHAYKH IBRAHIM ZAKZAKY
We make dua for Almighty Allah (SWT) to protect us from the prejudice of ignorance and bond us in Taqwa. There is an interesting statement from Imam Ali (a.s) where he says those who were our believers fought for the sake of Allah (SWT), and those who have denied the Ahlul Bait (a.s) fought for the sake of being Quraysh. This is the difference between the followers of Ali (a.s) and Ghadier and the followers of others.
Once again, we are indeed thankful to Almighty Allah (SWT) for such glad tidings we received with the great news on the day of Eid Ghadier, namely the release of Hujjatul Islam wal Muslimeen, Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky. May Allah (SWT) protect him and prolong his life.
This Mujahid and his wife have resisted and stood firm for truth and justice. Alhamdu Lillah, their perseverance concluded in a great victory finally.
TALIBAN: TRIBALISM IN THE NAME OF FAKE RELIGIOSITY
We continue to see the deeply concerning news from Afghanistan with the resurgence of the Taliban. Again, very interesting, as the Taliban is purely a religious movement, apparently, from the Deobandi school of thought. Taliban is the plural of Talib, which means students.
So, this is a movement of students. Which students? These are students from Madrassa seminaries in Pakistan, specifically from the Deobandi school of thought. Therefore, they are a religious movement.
Now, here comes the interesting point, tying back to the first khutbah. While the Taliban is a religious movement, the same Taliban is in reality much more of a tribal movement than a religious movement! At the end of the day, the Taliban is an uprising of Pakhtoons against other ethnicities and tribes in Afghanistan.
The way that the Americans played their dirty game and messed up this country and have now withdrawn, tells us of the magnitude of the challenge at hand. My intention is for us to address this issue of the Taliban resurgence in the next Jumuah.
There is a humble appeal for support and help towards those who are being targeted, such as the Hazara Shia community (again tribal) who are being mowed down by the Taliban mercilessly and their infrastructure destroyed. We will share the banking details to participate in this crucial appeal to mobilize help for this highly oppressed nation.
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