Monday, January 21, 2008

Ali al-Murtadha Karrama Allahu Wajhahu

One of the most spectacular experiences of my recent journey to the Masjid al-Haraam [Dec 2007] was to behold the pillar opposite the door of the Ka’ba adjacent to the women’s entrance of the place where the water of the spring well of Zamazam is drawn. The inscription on the pole was so symbolically revealing that I thought of taking a picture of the same. It read “Ali al-Murtadha karrama Allahu wajhahu”. The entire inscription contained a world of meaning to me. Unlike the names of the other sahaba (companions of the Holy Prophet (s)) inscribed on other poles of the environs of the Sacred Haram, wherever the name ‘Ali came, I found it to be followed by al-Murtadha and karrama Allahu wajhahu. Ibn ‘Abbas is reported to have said that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) was known as al-Murtadha because he would follow what Allah and His Messenger is pleased with in all is matters. In other words, Allah’s pleasure would be his pleasure. And one who has attained such a lofty station, Allah is already pleased (raadhi) with him. Perhaps the most succinct expression so far used is that of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) when he says “Ridha Allah Ridhaana Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)” (the pleasure of Allah is our pleasure- the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)). In fact, ontologically speaking, it is Allah Himself who confers the succor of ridhaa (pleasure) to His servant. Therefore, in this case, when Allah is already pleased with His servant, there is no need to supplicate and say “radhiya Allahu ‘anhu” (may Allah be pleased with him) after his name. What is unique about that is whereas in the case of the other sahaba the prayer “radhiya Allahu ‘anhu” (may Allah be pleased with him) is always mentioned, al-Murtadha reveals that the prayer has already been accepted and that Imam ‘Ali is already one with whom Allah is pleased. And the phrase karrama Allahu wajhahu testifies that Imam ‘Ali (lit. exalted) never bowed down before any idol. It should be noted however, that unlike “radhiya Allahu ‘anhu”,“karrama Allahu wajhahu” is not a supplication but a declaration and narration. It means “Allah ennobled his complexion (from bowing down to any idol (‘an an yasjuda lisanam))” and not “May Allah ennoble his complexion”. However, if we are speaking of higher levels of karama (nobility) then there is no problem. This is because only Allah (swt) is al-Karim al-Mutlaq (the Absolute Noble One), and the path to His Nobility is endless. What is so symbolic about this picture is that it is adjacent to the Masqa (place where one’s thirst is quenched) of Zamzam: In the way we witness the water place of Zamzam adjacent to the pole that manifests ‘Ali (‘a), we shall Insha Allah witness Imam ‘Ali (‘a) beside the water place of kawthar on the Judgment Day. Rather for people of inner revelation and insight, the Day of Judgment is not a parallel plane of existence that would follow this world, but a higher plane of existence to appear for those who due to the veils of the hearts are devoid of the penetrating vision. O the offspring of Ka’ba, this is an ecstatic moment for this nondescript!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Pigeon of Haram

Kabutar-e-Haram- Ahmad Abdollahzadeh- wrote to me through the Lisan Scratch Pad Blog, and suggested that I should have a look at his weblog [], which I enthusiastically did and benefited as well. What pierced the depths of my heart is his brilliant epithet of being a pigeon of the Haram. By Haram (sanctuary) here he meant the Haram of Imam al-Ridha (‘a) in the holy precincts of Mashhad-Iran, whose brilliance can only be appreciated by those with receptivity. What was remarkable of him was that in his Persian weblog he said that he called himself a pigeon of haram if the Imam (‘a) did accept this title. These, I sincerely feel, must be the pure sentiments of a true lover who relatively understands the exalted character of Imam al-Ridha (‘a), and the privilege of being able to be called a kabutar-e-haram. I am transported here to my days in Qum when my family and I were pigeons of the haram as well. We had rented a small house near the haram of Hadhrat Ma’suma (‘a) in Qum, which once upon a time belonged to the author of Mafaatih al-Jinan, Shaykh ‘Abbas Qummi. So brilliant and serene was our stay in that house, that I feel that we have had no similar experience in our lifetime. It is in that house that I began the first volume of the book Manifestations of the All-Merciful. It took a very small period of time to complete the entire book, which in the beginning was in the form of an ezine called Horizons of Thoughts. Being a kabutar-e-haram is indeed recommended and highly advantageous, but being the haram itself has greater excellence. Living in the proximity of the harams and beholding the magnificent structures of monotheism must constantly inculcate in our beings the lesson of being a haram itself. The Holy Qur’an introduces a group of people whom the angels are attracted to. The angels are privileged to be the kabutars of their harams, which is their hearts. The Holy Qur’an says: Indeed those who say, “Our Lord is Allah!" and then remain steadfast, the angels always descend upon them, [saying,] "Do not fear, nor be grieved! Receive the good news of the paradise which you have been promised.”(41:30)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Majaalis- Reviving Religion Itself

One of the brilliant masterpieces of poetry is the famous couplet written by the Sufi saint Mu’in al-Din Chishti, which starts with “Shah ast Husayn Paadshah ast Husayn Din ast Husayn Din panah ast Husayn…” What is so remarkable in this poetry is the phrase “Din ast Husayn” (Husayn is Religion). All those who commemorate Imam al-Husayn (‘a)’s Divine movement, participate in the mourning sessions of Muharram, and lament for Imam al-Husayn (‘a)’s tragic martyrdom, must inculcate this important phrase in their minds and make it their yardstick for deciphering whether the gatherings truly commemorate this unparalleled and unique event in the history of mankind or not. Imam al-Husayn (‘a) represents religion in all the dimensions of human life. He is the epitome of Islam and his aim likewise was the salvation of Islam. If our gatherings facilitate the revival of religion within ourselves and the society at large, we must satisfactorily say that we do commemorate the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a), but if they do not serve the aforesaid purpose and are reduced to gatherings for merely earning thawab (Divine Reward), we must struggle to change and render them to be a means for what al-Husayn (‘a) actually rose: Shah ast Husayn paadshah ast Husayn Din ast Husayn Din panah ast Husayn sar daad nadaad dast dar daste Yazid haqqa ke binaaye la ilah ast Husayn (Husayn in the king, the king of kings; Husayn is Religion; Husayn is the Protector of Religion; He gave his head, but not his hand to Yazid; Truly Husayn is the foundation of negating all deities other than Allah.’ Therefore if one majlis were to ignite our hearts to change our sinful life to that of obedience to Allah, we have really commemorated the tragic martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a). If one marthiya (elegy) were to make us resolve to pray on time with concentration, establish good relations with our near ones, pay our religious dues, respect our parents, refrain from unlawful deeds and reform the situation of the afflicted ones, we truly have commemorated Husayn’s movement. If participating the majaalis (gatherings of commemoration) revive our inner selves and enable us to relinquish our tarnished past, and begin the life of taqwa, then we truly have mourned for Imam al-Husayn (‘a). Din ast Husayn, Din ast Husayn Din ast Husayn…(Husayn is Religion! Husayn in Religion! Husayn is Religion!)