In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful
Salamun ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
[Praise belongs to Allah, whose laudation is not comprehended by speakers, whose bounties are not counted by reckoners, and whose rightfully due is not discharged by those who strive. Grand aspirations perceive Him not and deep-diving perspicacities reach Him not. His attributes possess no determined limits, no existing description, no fixed time and no extended term. He originates the creatures by His power, looses the winds by His mercy, and fastens the shaking of His earth with boulders.]
Brothers and sisters in Islam, taqwa should always be our aspiration in life. Therefore I advise you and myself to observe taqwa so that Allah is pleased with us, and we are availed with felicity in this world as well as the Hereafter.
Hajj & Taqwa
One of the important places in Qur’an where taqwa is mentioned is when speaking of Hajj. After mentioning those things that are forbidden for those pilgrims on whom Hajj has become wajib, Almighty Allah concludes saying “And seek provisions; for indeed the best of provisions in taqwa.” (Fatazawwadu fa inna khayra al-zaad al-taqwa). Here Almighty Allah makes us realize that the fundamental provision for the journey of hajj is not the physical requirements that one carries with oneself so that he may have an easy journey. Rather it is the spirit of abstaining from what is forbidden by Allah and adhering to what He has made obligatory. It is the spirit of gaining the color of Allah, about which the Holy Qur’an says, “The coloring of Allah, and who colors better than Allah….” (sibghat Allah wa man ahsanu minallahi sibgha…). Indeed many go to hajj and cover the horizontal physical journey, but very few get the succor to traverse the vertical journey, many behold the cubic structure of the Ka’ba, but very few comprehend the Ka’ba of their unsullied heart where Allah resides. Shaykh Ja’far al-Shushtari in his brilliant book al-Khasaa’is al-Husayniyya, which indeed is a unique masterpiece, when comparing Imam al-Husayn (‘a) with the House of Allah says, “Indeed He (al-Husayn) is the Real House of Allah.”. He then explains saying that Almighty Allah is far greater than place and its occupation. The reason why we consider a certain place as His House is due to a certain sanctity it possesses because of being made a place of His worship, due to frequent worship in it, etc. Thereafter he says, “The Real House, however, is what is mentioned in the sacred tradition (al-hadith al-qudsi): “Neither My earth, nor My heaven contains me, but the heart of my believing servant contains Me.”
Therefore we must opt for the realization of the real Ka’ba. The brilliant cubic structure should act as a runway to the Real House, which contains Almighty Allah.
Let us now continue with the commentary of the tradition of ‘Unwan al-Basri:
THE TRADITION OF 'UNWAN AL-BASRI (V)
[‘A ninety-four year old man named ‘Unwan al-Basri narrates, saying: “I had been studying under Malik ibn Anas for a number of years. When Ja’far as-Sadiq (AS) came to Madina, I went to visit him and was interested in learning from him just as I had been learning from Malik. He said to me one day: “I am a man much sought after and am also occupied by various supplications throughout the day and the night so please do not disturb me in my state of supplication and go and learn from Malik and study under him just as you were doing before”. I became sad on hearing this and left the Imam’s presence, and said to myself, “If the Imam had perceived any good in me he would not have prevented me from studying under him and learning from him”. ..]
Secrets of Times During the Day
In our previous discussion we said that we would mention a program of time that our learned scholars have presented in their prayer manuals. The noble Shaykh Baha al-Din al-‘Aamili, in his well-known prayer manual Miftaah al-Falaah (the Key to Salvation) says that according to a narration there are twelve different periods during the day that relate to the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a): The first period, which is between dawn and sunrise, is related to Amir al-Mu’minin (‘a).The second period, which is between sunrise and the disappearance of redness in the sky, is related to Imam al-Hasan (‘a). The third period, which is between the disappearance of the redness seen in the sky until the rising of the day, is related to Imam al-Husayn (‘a). The fourth period, which is between the rising of the day until zawaal (the beginning of the setting of the sun), is related to Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (‘a). The fifth period, which is between zawaal and the time essential for reciting four units of prayer, is related to Imam al-Baqir (‘a). The sixth period, which begins after the period essential for reciting four units of prayer and ends at the time of zuhr prayer, is related to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a). The seventh period, which begins at the time of zuhr prayer and ends when the time essential to pray four raka’aats remains prior to the time of ‘asr prayer, is related to Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a). The eighth period, which starts when the time of four rak’aats remain before the ‘asr prayer and ends at the time of ‘asr prayer, is related to Imam al-Ridha (‘a). The ninth period which is from the time of ‘asr prayer until two hours elapse, is related to Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (‘a). The tenth period starts from two hours following ‘asr and ends before the sun appears yellowish, and this time is related to Imam al-Haadi (‘a). The eleventh period is from before the sun appears yellowish until the sun appears yellowish, and this is related to Imam al-Hasan al-‘Askari (‘a). And the twelfth period is from the yellowish appearance of the sun until sunset, and this period is related to Imam al-Hujja (‘a).
Shaykh Baha’i also mentions the respective supplications for each and every aforementioned period. Observing brevity, we would not like to reproduce them here. We suggest however that you to refer to the books Miftaah al-Falah of Shaykh baha’i and al-Baaqiyaat al-Saalihaat of Shaykh ‘Abbas Qummi or some websites where they have been mentioned [http://www.m-alhuda.com/showthread.php?t=8667] for the details.
We also have a weekly program of supplications that is linked to the Imams (‘a) and for every day there is a specific ziyaara to be recited. All these supplications were given to us out of great wisdom, and taking into consideration the secrets of time. Therefore if we struggle and grab the opportunity to program ourselves accordingly we would undoubtedly reap spiritual fruits. The key to success, however, is “continuity”. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said: ‘The best action is that which is more lasting, even if it is less.’ [Mizaan al-Hikma, v.3, p. 2026]. And it is reported from Imam al-Baqir (‘a): "There is nothing more lovable to Allah, the Invincible and Majestic, than a deed that is constantly done, even if it is small." [Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-Kaafi, v. 2, p. 82]. Therefore it is highly significant to maintain the action even if it be very small. There is another important element we should not be oblivious of. The quality of action is of fundamental importance. Despite the constancy, if the action is devoid of a certain level of quality, even if that be of a moderate nature, it would not be of benefit. There is an allusion to both “constancy and quality” in a tradition narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a). He is reported to have said: “Constant little action with conviction is better near Allah than much action without conviction.” [Muhammad al-Rayshahri, Mizaan al-Hikma, v.3, p. 2124].
The Insight of a Believer
’Unwan al-Basri in saying that he became sad on Imam’s response mentions a very important point worthy of discussion. He says “If the Imam had perceived any good in me he would not have prevented me from frequenting to him…” (Law tafarrasa fi kharan lama zajarani ‘anil ikhtilaaf ilayhi…). This statement depicts a truth that the insightful scholars have mentioned in their works. Al-firaasa is a condition which enables one to know a person from his apparent state. Scholars of this important discipline speak of two kinds of firaasa: (1) The ability to know someone from his physical structure, and (2) The ability to know someone due to one’s spiritual insight. In a well-known tradition, the Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said, “Beware of the perspicacity (firaasa) of a believer, for surely he always visions with the light of Allah” (Ittaqu faraasat al-mu’min fa innahu yanzuru bi nurillah). Thereafter he read the following verse of Qur’an: ‘There are indeed signs in that for the percipient (al-mutawassimin).’ (15:75) ( [Al-Saffaar, Basaa’ir al-Darajaat, p. 375]. And in another tradition, commenting on the verse 15:75 Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) says, “They are the Imams (‘a)” (humul a’imma). And in a very interesting tradition of Imam al-Ridha (‘a) we read, “There is no believer save that he has an acumen because he visions with the light of Allah according to his belief, enlightenment, and knowledge, and indeed Allah has gathered in the Imams among us, what he has scattered in all the believers…Therefore the foremost of the mutawassimin (perspicacious) is the Messenger of Allah (s), followed by Amir al-Mu’minin; then comes al-Hasan, and then al-Husayn, then come the Imams from the progeny of al-Husayn until the Judgment Day…” [al-Hilli, al-Muhtadhar, p. 166].
‘Unwan it seems had realized the sharp vision of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and thus thought that due to his low disposition, the Imam did not find him fit to continue to benefit from his noble presence.
Perhaps, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) wanted him to enhance his receptivity so that he can absorb what the Imam (‘a0 wanted to teach him, and the Imam (‘a) knew that if he were to stop the lesson, ‘Unwan would be led to some spiritual mortification, to gain better receptivity, and be prepared for the instruction the Imam (‘a). And Allah is All-knowing.
‘Unwan’s attitude I feel was natural, for to be deprived from the lesson of an exalted and immaculate torch of guidance of the caliber of Imam al-Sadiq is an inexpressible and unparalleled calamity.
We shall continue with the discussion in our forthcoming sermons Insha Allah.
Indeed, the best conversation and the most penetrating of counsels is the Book of Allah. Almighty Allah says:
[In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful’ Say He Allah is Non-composite One, Allah is the All-embracing, Neither does He beget, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him (112:1-4)]
[Praise be to Allah, Who breaks everything belonging to the oppressors; puts an end to the tyrants; watches over the fugitives; brings assistance to those who cry out for help; meets and clears up the demands of the needy beseechers; supports the faithful.]
THE OCCASION OF DAHW AL-ARDH
The 25th of Dhul Qa'dah, according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet (S) is the day when the earth was spread for the advantage of human beings. The phrase Dahw al-Ardh literally means "The spread of the earth". In another tradition it is reported that the first rahmah (mercy) and blessing descended on this very day.
THE HOLY QUR’AN alluding to the spread of the earth, says: “…and after that He spread out the earth.” (79:30). One of the highly recommended acts of celebration this day is to fast. In a tradition narrated from the Holy Prophet (s), fasting this day equals to the reward of seventy fast. Therefore we should try to make a point and fast, so that we may reap its spiritual benefits.
We should however try to enhance our vision, and understand the occasion well: what is the earth? Why was the earth created? Do we benefit from the earth for the purpose it was created? Are we making the earth a shelter of peace, or an arena of disunity, war, and pollution? If we try to respond to these fundamental questions and do the necessary, we would have celebrated the occasion as anticipated from us. Whereas the well-known Earth Day was officially proclaimed by the UN on February 26, 1971, after the idea was first brought up by John McConnell at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969 and later asserted by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970, Dahw al-Ardh, has been an occasion celebrated for more than 1400 years now.
The Holy Qur’an informs mankind the earth was created as a place of livelihood, but the human beings do not pay heed to the purpose: “Certainly We have established you on the earth, and made in it [various] means of livelihood for you. Little do you thank.” (7:10) In this verse the phrase “qaleelan maa tashkurun” (little do you thank) tells us that the human beings do not take advantage of the earth for the purpose it was created. This is because shukr as we normally conjecture is not a mere verbal expression of thanks, but a practical revelation of gratitude. In simple words, shukr (lit. “to unveil”) means to use the blessing for the purpose it was created. And when one does that, he would “unveil” God’s blessing and practically reveal how great the blessing of earth is. Almighty Allah, showing how unthankful have some of the people been, tells us: "Corruption has appeared in land and sea because of the doings of the people's hands, that He may make them taste something of what they have done, so that they may come back." (30:41)
In this verse we are clearly told about the situation of the earth. Instead of facilitating peace and making it a place to live, many people have misused this blessing and brought about corruption.
The kinds of corruption vocally mentioned by the concerned environmentalists usually pertain to the physical environment such as the depletion of ozone layer, contamination of water, contamination of air, etc. Have they ever contemplated on the depletion of the intellectual layer, the contamination of knowledge, the contamination of thought, etc.? The human being is a spiritual entity more than a physical being. In fact, if we look at the kernel of the matter we would come to realize that even the physical dangers created by the human being on the earth is due to the contamination if his mind and thought.
Therefore, it is imperative for us to decipher what are causes of the major problems of the earth, and how can we contribute to their solutions.
Indeed Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who have faith! Invoke blessings on him and invoke peace upon him in a worthy manner. (33:56)
Invoking Allah's Blessings of the Ahl al-bayt ('a)
[O Allah, send down Thy blessings on the master of your apostles, Muhammad; and send down Thy blessings on the Commander of the faithful, Ali bin Abi Talib, the masters of the successors; and send Thy blessings on the most truthful of women, the pure, Fatima, the radiant and the mistress of the women of Paradise; and send down Thy blessings on al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the two leaders of the youth of Paradise; and send down your blessings on 'Ali bin al-Husayn, the Ornament of worshippers; and send down Thy blessings on Muhammad bin 'Ali, the cleaver of knowledge; and send down Thy blessings of Ja'far bin Muhammad, the veracious, one whose word and deed are approved; and send down Thy blessings on Musa bin Ja'far, the swallower of anger, the door of the fulfillment of needs; and send down Thy blessings on 'Ali bin Musa, one whom Allah is pleased with and He is pleased with Allah; and send down Thy blessings of Muhamad bin 'Ali, the God-wary, the Benevolent; and send down Thy blessings of 'Ali bin Muhammad, the guide, and the immaculate; and send down Thy blessings on Hasan bin 'Ali, the one who has been specifically ennobled by Allah; and send down Thy blessings on the Proof, the One who would Rise.]Supplication[O Allah indeed we eagerly seek from Thee a noble state, by which you bestow veneration to Islam and its people, and degrade hypocracy and its people, and you make us in it from the callers to your obedience, and leaders to your path, and bestow us with it the nobility of this world and the Hereafter.]
Friday, 30 November 2007
A WORD ON THE FORMAT
The Friday Sermons that precede the Friday Prayer are normally two in number. In the first sermon, the Imam of the prayer greets every one, praises Allah, and advises the faithful to observe piety, and finally concludes the sermon with a chapter from the Holy Qur'an. Thereafter he sits for a moment and then once again stands and addresses the praying ones by once again praising Allah. He then continues his sermon with the important reminders, and then invokes blessings on Muhammad and his infallible progeny, and finally prays for the believers. Thereafter he goes to the mihrab and leads the Friday prayer. We, likewise, in our postings will follow the same pattern, and kindly request the readers to post their feedback, queries, ambiguities, as well as suggestions. We pray to Almighty Allah to enable us establish a fertile atmosphere for the arrival of the 12th decendant of Prophet Muhammad (s), Imam al-Mahdi ('aj).