I have written O my master (A.S) seeking help, and I complain (to you) about what has descended upon me – seeking refuge with Allah (S.W.T) and then with you, from the affair that has taken me by surprise and occupied my heart, and made me think a lot, and has stripped away from me some of my core, and has changed the great blessings of God that is with me, my close friend has left me when it came to me and he dissociated from me when he saw it advancing towards me, my plans have been unable to push it away, and my patience and strength haven’t been able to bear it. So I have taken refuge with you in this (problem), and with regard to the request for Allah – I have placed my trust in Allah (S.W.T) and in you, seeking protection from (that which bothers me) – (requesting) about your whereabouts from Allah, the one who brings close, and is the owner of all affairs. I trust you with regards to the speedy intercession (you have) with Him in my affairs and I have certainty in Him answering you with respect to my needs. O my master you are worthy of actualising (what’s in) my thoughts, and honouring the hopes I have in you (with regard to) my affairs/matters.
[mention your wants]:
In this (the wants) I have no strength in bearing it and no patience, while you are able to (solve it) although it (the situation) is because of my own ugly acts and my negligence of the obligatory acts which are for Allah (S.W.T), So help me O my master (A.S) in my worries and present my wants in front of Allah, before the starting of the calamities, and the mocking of the enemies (of me), for with you (lies) the spreading of the bounties upon me. And I ask Allah (S.W.T) for an honourable victory for me, and a close success which entails me reaching – my hopes, good principles,completion of my acts, and safety from all forms of fearful things in all states. Surely He(Allah) does what He pleases, and He suffices me – the best of those upon whom trust can be placed in the beginning and at the end.
[In the leadup to 15 Sha’ban, Resident Aalima Dr. Masuma Jaffer put together a series of 7 short (5 minute) clips, with the aim of helping us learn more about and connect with the Imam of our time (atfs). The full series can be found on YouTube: Part 1 is here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here, Part 6 here and Part 7 here. The above is the culmination of this mini-series.]
Join us on the livestream for the newly launched Book Corner, where every Wednesday, starting today!, at 4pm, Shaykh Jaffer will be joined by a guest in a live interactive session discussing one of their books. This week Shaykh is joined by Dr Ali al-Hilli, to discuss his book ‘101 Ways to Concentrate in Prayer’ – apt with the Holy Month almost upon us.
The session will inshA be live and interactive so you can ask the authors any questions you have about their works. Today at 4pm!
Join us for Juma raat programmes online for the next 4 Thursdays (830pm start), with Sura Yaseen, Dua Kumayl, English Majlis by Shaykh Abbas Ismail (a continuation of his series on Imam Ali (as)’ Khutba al-Mutaqin) & Ziyarat Warith.
In tonight’s live-streamed Khushali lecture, Sh. Abbas Jaffer referred to ‘Dawa’ and ‘Dua’ going hand in hand. The medical advice is by this stage well known, and can be referred to here.
The specific Dua that Shaykh referred to is called Hirz-e-Jawad (the protection of Jawad), and is attributed to our ninth holy Imam (as), whose birth date we celebrated tonight: Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (as).
It is a short Dua, which the Imam (as) is said to have advised his followers to recite and keep on their person, and is often found written inside rings and amulets. Many members have written in asking for the text of the Dua, which is as follows:
يا نور يا برهان يا مبين يا منير يا رب
اكفني الشرور و افات الدهور
و اسالك النجاة يوم ينفخ في الصور
and the translation is as follows:
‘O Light, O Proof, O Manifest One, O Illuminating, O Lord
Be enough for me in the face of evil/harm, and the problems of my time/era
And I ask you for salvation on the Day when the trumpet shall be blown’
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful How to unite a fractured community: Guidance from the Qur’an part 3
Introduction In part one we looked at how the Qur’an addressed the Ansar and Muhajiroon on remaining united before disunity even had a chance to enter. In part two we discussed the Islamic social order of being part of the unity of creation and the attitude of a believer toward a fellow believer, even though they may be at odds with each other.
In this final part we will address the matter of community elections, drawing on lessons from how the Qur’an responds to the elites of a community. This will inshAllah give a fragmented community insight as to how the Qur’an provides practical guidance on navigating leadership contests that often divide our community.
The obligation of taking lessons from similar events It is a well known trope that history repeats itself. One of the benefits of this is to learn from these events, not make the same mistakes or allow the same pitfalls to reach your own community. Imam Ali (a) stated in this regard, اِعْتَبِرْ تَزْدَجِرْ “Take lesson and you will be deterred [from evil]” and اِتَّعِظُوا مِمَّنْ كانَ قَبْلَكُمْ قَبْلَ أنْ يَتَّعِظَ بِكُمْ مَنْ بََعْدَكُمْ “Take lessons from those who preceded you, before those who are after you take lessons from you.” This means that if you do not learn to amend practises, those who come after you will point at you as means of avoiding your ways, the same way you (should) do to those before you. We learn from this that there is a difference between simply knowing or pointing out problematic behaviours and actually changing these repeated events for it to not become a generational practice.
Only those who fear Allah (swt) will truly take heed of their community role Surah al-An’aam speaks of the early Meccan period. In verse 51 Allah (swt) addresses the Prophet (s) and tells him (s) to warn by the Qur’an those who fear being presented before Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement. This is different to him (s) being told to warn those who do not fear or astray. This is of interest because we normally expect the Prophet (s) to address the heedless; not in this instance. Rather he (s) is told to address those who already have the quality of fear of being taken to account. وَأَنذِرْ بِهِ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَن يُحْشَرُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ لَيْسَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ وَلِيٌّ وَلَا شَفِيعٌ لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ “And warn with it those who fear that they shall be gathered to their Lord – there is no guardian for them, nor any intercessor besides Him – that they may guard (against evil).”
This is because, as per the conclusion of the verse, they will listen and pay heed to the Qur’an and so it will only increase them in their fear to a higher state of God-consciousness, or Taqwa.
What is being said here is that there are those who no matter what you tell them, or who warns them, or how they are warned, will never pay attention. They consider themselves to be the arbiters of truth and falsehood! Only those who have fear of accounting (in front of God) will benefit. We are invited to choose which group we wish to be in community affairs.
The needs of the Muslim masses are given priority over the elite The subsequent verse addresses an event where the Prophet (s) was sitting with his poorer companions and the elite of the Quraysh sought an audience. They demanded the Prophet (s) send away his companions on account of their lower social status, so they may speak with him exclusively, not wishing to be sullied by their presence. The verse was immediately revealed:
وَلَا تَطْرُدِ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ “And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, they desire only His favour.”
The literal meaning of this verse is that protecting the sincere, poor, and striving believers is more important than the probable attraction of some rich pagans. The principle however, is the needs, rights and demands of the grassroots takes precedent over the demand and self-protection of the elite. Never should the existing believers be scorned in favour of the dominant elite and powerful.
Previous prophets (s) stated exactly the same at the demand of their community elites to remove those deemed worth less (see Qur’an 11:29 and 26:114)
Ensuring that powerful elites in a community do not have their selective interests protected is mentioned many times by Imam ‘Ali (a) to his governors, including Mohammed ibn Abi Bakr in Egypt, saying, “…accord them equal treatment so that the elite should not expect injustice from you in their favour and the low should not be despondent of your justice to them…” (Letter 27, Nahj al-Balaghah).
Taking lessons from other elections Our communities often get divided by leadership elections. As we learnt above, we are obligated to take lessons from other such leadership contests. In the 2016 US election, voters were almost never informed of policy positions of candidates by the media, who preferred to drum up controversy instead. One research looked at 13,481 mainstream articles and found the vast majority discussed two overriding matters:
1) The “horse race” i.e. the overall likelihood of victory of the candidates, details of intra-party conflicts and polling
2) Personal/Scandal articles, focused on the controversial actions and/or statements of the candidates either during the election itself or prior to it, and the fallout generated by those controversies.
Rarely was there focus on policy issues such as healthcare, immigration, taxation or education.
One of the key practical ways to overcome strife in our communities is to focus less on personality, scandal, family name, tribe and ethnicity, but the policy positions and agenda of those who seek our support.
The Qur’an asks us to test people’s credentials before giving them support Candidates often say they stand for things, be that the poor, unity, or a particular project. It is necessary for such leaders to be trusted in these matters and that has to be ascertained before and not post-facto. This is achieved by testing and examining whether they truly stood for such values before their campaign. The Qur’an states,
وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَادْفَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ “And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property” (4:6).
This teaches us to test such claims and requests and upon evidence of capability to make over to them their demands.
One of the great stories of testing a person’s truthfulness and character was upon Mulla Naraqi, author of the great Akhlaqi work, Jami’a Sadaat.
One day he visited a leading scholar. Upon entering he was given due respect and consideration from everyone but the scholar he came to visit. No salutation, no engagement. Mulla Naraqi waited patiently until he had to leave. The second day he returned and again no attention was paid to him by the scholar. On the third day again he was ignored completely until the scholar offered his explanation saying, ‘You are the author of such a great book of manners and etiquettes. I wanted to test whether you practised what you preached and so was rude to you to see how you reacted.’
In this way, knowing the true character of those who seek our support would aid us during leadership contests and stop us from being divided into personality or clique wars.
How to unite a fractured community: Guidance from the Qur’an: Part 2
Introduction In part one we looked at how the Qur’an gave guidance to the Ansar and Muhajiroon on staying united and not permitting disunity to enter into the community. Unity is essential to the community, family, friends and business circles, and so we often need guidance on re-establishing unity in a broken circle.
Surah al-Hashr (Chapter 59 of the Qur’an) verse 9 provided three principles: 1) Genuine love those who may be considered ‘other’ than you
2) Do not covet what the others are given and
3) Give preference to them over your own selves.
Part 2 addresses the attitudes toward being part of the system of unity and attitudes to fellow believers that you may profoundly disagree with, or even be fighting with. The purpose of this is to mould the mindset of a person so their engagement with an antagonist is in keeping with the Islamic sociological ethos.
The next verse in Surah al-Hashr (verse 10): ‘And those [the Muhajireen] who came after them [the Ansar] say, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.’
Unity in the Islamic social order means completion of one another In his commentaries, leading scholar Ayatollah Syed Taqi al-Modarresi explains the difference between an Islamic worldview and social order and others, such as a Western understanding. In the post-enlightenment and capitalist era, the individual is given priority over everything; God, religion, group rights, even the environment. A person is ‘free’ to live, dress, speak and act as they please; this has given rise to the idea that an individual or corporate profit is even priority over the environment or national resource. From an Islamic perspective everything in creation works with everything else in partnership for the purpose of its evolution and perfection. Sarah an-Naba (Chapter 78:8-11) says, “And We created you in pairs; And made your sleep [a means for] rest; And made the night as clothing; And made the day for livelihood.” Everything partners to achieve more than its own creation as a singular entity. Ayatollah al-Modarresi explains that if you read the verses of the Qur’an carefully, you will see Allah (swt) calls people toward working with each other in so many places and in so many ways that the human community is expected to work as complimentary to each other, despite its diversity and individuality, as every other part of creation, for its greater purpose and achievement. Observe these series of verses that he mentions: قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ(3:64) Say: “O followers of earlier revelation! Come to a joint word between us and you.” وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ(5:2) “Help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity.” وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ(103:3) “Enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity.” فَاسْتَبِقُواْ الْخَيْرَاتِ(2:148) “Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works.” وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ(3:159) “And take counsel with them in all matters of concern.”
Such a plethora of verses tell us two primary things: First, that mankind are expected to act like the rest of creation in cohesion and greater achievement and second, it is only man in his ego and desire, from amongst creation, that breaks this trend of unity.
A person truly submitted to the desire of Allah (swt) would not want to shame himself by being a means of disunity, standing out before creation in such indifference to the order of creation.
The attitude of the believers toward one another Returning to Surah al-Hashr, Allah (swt) quotes the attitudes of the believers despite there being tensions amongst themselves. In it we notice a number of important points وَالَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ (59:10) And so, they who come after them pray, “O our Sustainer! Forgive us our sins, as well as those of our brethren who preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against [any of] those who have attained to faith. O our Sustainer! Verily, Thou art compassionate, a dispenser of grace!”
1) The believer sees his own faults FIRST and seeks forgiveness for them FIRST before looking the faults of those he opposes. This means he truly looks at his own role and shortcomings in the matter before at others.
2) The believer does not necessarily attach blame to others. It may be that he is right and the other is wrong, but the language he uses is not antagonistic but rather reconciliatory
3) The believer addresses his co-believer as ‘his brother’. Too often Muslims call each other names, hypocrites or even, God-forbid, disbelievers. Not so the early Muslims; even those they argued with they called ‘brothers’. This is the respect given to those who preceded them in faith and so have accumulated more goodness to their service.
4) The believer sincerely prays not to have any rancour in his heart for the believer.
The Qur’an also mentions how the believer prays not to be a fitnah – trial – for the oppressors (10:85) and disbelievers (60:5); how then could he allow himself to be a fitnah for the believers?!
The attitude of the believer There are always two or more parties who are in conflict. With all of these conflicts it requires both sides of the believers to sincerely adopt these attitudes, otherwise one side will remain in darkness and devoid of the assistance of Allah (swt).
InshaAllah this the third and final part we will look at specific remedies to conflict within a community.