Sunday, November 29, 2009


The Holy Qur'an says: "And We ransomed him with a Great sacrifice.” (37:107)

Eid al-Adha is the day when Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was ready to sacrifice his own son in submission to the will of Allah. Despite Satanic insinuations, he took his noble son, and resolved to undertake what Allah wanted from him. As he was about to move his knife, Allah commanded him to stop, and placed a ram and ordered him to slaughter it instead of his son. Ibrahim passed the Divine Test. The Holy Qur’an narrating this scenario employs the expression ‘wa fadaynahu bi dhibhin ‘azim’ (and we ransomed him with a great sacrifice (37:107)). Exegetes of the Qur’an opine that, as is apparent, “the great sacrifice” mentioned in this verse refers to the ram placed for slaughter instead of Ismail (peace be upon him). This is the apparent extension (misdaq) of the verse. There is however a deeper and more perfect extension of the ransom which some exegetes draw from the radiant teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). In fact they believe that a ram cannot be termed to be “a great sacrifice” for a great human being like Isma’il (peace be upon him).

Shaykh al-Saduq narrates the following tradition in his ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha: Mufaddhal bin Shadhaan narrates: I heard al-Ridha (peace be upon him) saying: When Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) ordered Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to slaughter the ram that He sent down, instead of his son Isma’il (peace be upon him), Ibrahim (peace be upon him) wished that he would have slaughtered his own son Isma’il (peace be upon him) with his hand and was not ordered to slaughter the ram instead, so that he experiences in his heart that which a father who sacrifices the dearest of his sons with his hand experiences, and as a result, deserves the highest of the stations of the people of reward due to calamities. So Allah, the Invincible and Majestic, revealed unto him: O Ibrahim, who is the most beloved of my creation to you? Ibrahim (peace be upon him) replied: O Lord, you did not create a creation which is more beloved to me than your beloved Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). Thereupon Allah, the Invincible and Majestic, revealed unto him: O Ibrahim, is he then more beloved to you, or yourself? Ibrahim (peace be upon him) replied: Rather, he is more lovable to me than myself. Allah (the Invincible and Majestic) said: Is then his son more lovable to you, or your son? He said: Rather his son is more lovable. Allah said: Does the slaughter of his son in oppression by his enemies agitate your heart more, or slaughtering your son with your hand in my obedience? He said: Rather, the slaughter of his son in the hands of his enemies agitates my heart more. Allah said: O Ibrahim, indeed a people who conjecture that they are from the umma of Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) would soon kill al-Husayn (peace be upon him), his son, after him, in oppression and enmity, in the way a ram is slaughtered, and as a result, they would earn my wrath. This agitated and hurt the heart of Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and he started weeping. Thereupon Allah, the Invincible and Majestic, revealed unto him: O Ibrahim, I have ransomed “your agitation for your son Isma’il (peace be upon him) if you were to slaughter him”, with “your agitation for al-Husayn (peace be upon him) and his martyrdom”, and have made incumbent for you the highest of the stations of the rewarded ones due to calamities. And that is the word of Allah, the Invincible and Majestic: “And we ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice”. (37:107). And there is no power nor strength except through Allah, the Exalted, and Great.

Imam al-Husayn (peace be upon him) not only sacrificed himself, but sacrificed, his sons and family as well as his possessions in the way of Allah. This is the lesson of Eid al-Adh-ha. It is a celebration that should rejuvenate in us the spirit of self-sacrifice. We should carefully examine ourselves in order to decipher whether we have actually returned (Eid is from the word ‘awd which means “to return”) to the sacrificing spirit that Allah has naturally endowed us with. If not, then we are indeed distant from the real Eid of Sacrifice. This is the message of Eid al-Adh-ha.

Friday, November 13, 2009


In one of my visits to al-Madina al-Munawwara, when I was honored to visit the graves of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) in the well-known cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi, an old woman happen to meet me and asked in the Urdu language: Qubure Fatima kaha hai? (Where are the graves of Fatima?) I immediately thought that her sentence was wrong, and what she meant was qabre Fatima kaha hai (Where is the grave of Fatima?).

Obviously there is a difference of opinion on where she actually has been buried. Is it near the Prophet’s house in the Rawdha (the Aromatic and Paradisal Garden) as some traditions allude, or is it in Jannat al-Baqi’? Until now most of us are oblivious of the actual place. Perhaps, as some scholars opine, Fatima (peace be upon her) intentionally wanted her grave to be unknown, so that the future Muslims are led to question whether it is possible for the grave of the daughter of the noblest Messenger of Allah to be hidden. What do the books of history say? Why did Fatima (peace be upon her) not allow some of the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to participate in her burial ceremony? Why did she prefer to be buried in secret? These are questions history has already answered. Those curious search for the truth.

Today the situation is worse than before. The graves of the four immaculate leaders of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) among other esteemed members of the Prophet’s family are blocked in such a way that the lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) cannot even go near them or sometimes even utter any salutational prayer, just because a group of misinformed watchmen have been ordered by the Wahhabi leadership to discourage and even disturb anyone who does so.

Why all this disturbance? Is it really because of their concern for the people not to get astray or is it because of a kind of vacuum and jealousy they have been taught to harbor against the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them)? Or is ziyara a catalyst to ignite sparks of revolution and unity of the Umma? These are questions we must try to ponder upon and try to answer.

However, coming back to the question of the old woman, I must say that what she said was not grammatically improper. Yes Fatima does not have one grave. She has several graves: the heart of every lover of Fatima encapsulates Fatima (‘A). However much the kuffar try to spoil, destroy, and insult the edifices of the graves of the Ahl al-Bayt, as long as they reside in the hearts of their lovers, they would remain eternal.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quality is the Criterion

One of the most remarkable events of Islamic history where the peak of sincerity is revealed is the incident of Bibi Shutayta, a spiritually effulgent woman, who lived during the time of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) and Imam al-Kazim (‘A) in the Nishapur area of Iran.

A group of people led by Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Naishapuri left Naishapur for Medina to deliver people’s money to Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a). He was entrusted with 30,000 dinars, 50,000 dirhams, and 3,000 pieces of clothes to take to the Imam of the time. An old woman called Shutayta gives a dirham and a piece of raw cotton material spun by herself for the Imam (‘A). Muhammad bin Ibrahim tells the woman: O woman, I feel ashamed to give one dirham and a piece of cloth to Abu ‘Abdillah [al-Sadiq (‘a)]. She said: Wouldn’t you deliver [it to the Imam]? Inna Allaha la yastahyi min al-haqq (Indeed Allah is not ashamed of the truth). Muhammad bin Ibrahim takes the dirham from her, bends it, and places it in a bag which had lots of money [to be taken to the Imam (‘a)].

On the way, he learns that Imam al-Sadiq (‘A) had left this world, and Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘A) had become his successor. So he goes to Imam al-Kazim (‘A). When he arrives in the Imam’s presence, the Imam (‘a) asks for the bag of money that he had brought. Then he tells him to turn the bag, and drop the money, and he only picks up the bent coin of Shutayta. Then he (‘A) asks for the bag of clothes to be opened, and only takes the raw cotton material of Shutayta, and addressing Muhammad bin Ibrahim says “Surely Allah is not ashamed of the truth” (the same words that Shutayta had told Muhammad bin Ibrahim when the latter felt ashamed to take her coin).

Then he tells Muhammad bin Ibrahim to convey his salams to Shutayta and gives him a bag of 40 dirhams for her as well as a piece of cloth among the pieces of clothes of his kafan which his noble sister Halima bint Imam al-Sadiq (‘A) had spun.

The Imam (‘a) also tells him to tell her that she will live for 19 days after Muhammad bin Ibrahim’s arrival; she can spend 16 dirhams from the money for herself and give the rest as sadaqa…and informs his that he in person will come to bury her.

Then he told Muhammad bin Ibrahim to return back the wealth that he had brought to their owners…[Later on his return he realizes that except for Shutayta the rest had not accepted Imam al-Kazim (peace be upon him) as the next Imam of the time.]

On her demise, Imam Musa al-Kazim (peace be upon him) travels through tayy al-ardh (traversing of the earth) to Naishapur and prays for her funeral, and also places the earth of shifa (the earth of al-Husayn bin ‘Ali (‘A)) in her grave. When the Imam (‘A) finishes the burial ceremonies he mounts on his camel and facing the people says:

Make your companions know and greet them on my behalf and say to them: Indeed I, and whosoever is in my position among the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) must attend your funerals wherever you may be. Therefore be God-wary in yourselves and make your actions qualitatively beautiful so that you may assist us in your emancipation and your freedom from the Hell Fire. [Ref: ‘Allama al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v. 48, pp. 73-75]

Dear readers, this is the story of reality. The quality of one’s action is the mizan and balance to sift between the valuable and the valueless. The Holy Qur’an says: “…Who created death and life that He may try you- which of you is best in deeds (ahsanu ‘amalan)”. Hence let us struggle to establish ourselves in this level of sincerity (ikhlas) so that we are gradually overtaken by Divine attraction (al-jadhba al-ilahiyya) and instead of merely being from the mukhLISun (in the sense of the active participle), we are transported to the level of the mukhLASin (in the sense of the passive participle), a level in which Satan can never lay any kind of influence. Satan swears in the Qur’an: “…and I will certainly cause them all to deviate except Thy servants from among them, who are mukhLASin ( purified (by Yourself)) [15:39-40].