Wa’az Mubarak 3
4th Moharram al-Haraam, 1439 – Reflections
Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS addressed the congregation of Mumineen before him in today’s waʿaz mubarak as ‘those who have the ‘adab‘ of the Quran Majeed—the Quran Majeed that gathers and brings together’.
Following this year’s theme of subjects from Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’s syllabus and curriculum, today’s waʿaz mubarak centred on adab. The Arabic word ‘adab’ generally refers to two things: literature, both written and spoken, as well as etiquette and decorum. One is about the skill and sophistication with which something is conveyed in word and the other in action.
RasulullahSA says that he was taught adab by his Lord who taught it with excellence and Maulana Ali AS states in verse form;
I taught myself adab and found none
for it other than taqwaa (fearing) of Allah.
Maulatona Fatema’s AS final actions before her wafaat exemplify the most noble of etiquette. She bathed her respected sons Imam Hasan AS and Husain AS, clothed them, fed them rotis she made with her own hands and collected her tears for the salvation of Mumineen.
The noble character of the two Imams AS themselves is seen in their etiquette during hajj. They had both vowed upon themselves to complete the hajj rites on foot. As they made their way from Makkah to Arafah they would be on the same road as those who were travelling on their mounts. Out of reverence, the other travellers would dismount when they saw the two Imams walking and traversing the remaining distance was proving to be a burden for them. A submission was made to the Imams AS if they would also travel on mounts but, because of their vow, this was not possible. For the sake of the other pilgrims, however, Imam Hasan and Husain AS chose to use another route, one not being taken by other travellers.
A person’s adab, etiquette and character, should be such that people are drawn towards them. Without uttering a word, such individuals become duʿat samiteen — silent callers. This was the counsel given by Imam Jaʿfar al-Sadiq AS to a group of his adherents when they were about to leave Madinah for their homelands. Maulana Saifuddin TUS expounded on the way in which this is achieved. He laid out six points,
- First to act in obedience and as per the directions of Wali Allah AS.
- Second, to stay away from the prohibited.
- Third, to approach everyone with truth and even-handedness.
- Fourth, to be trustworthy in one’s dealings.
- Fifth, to refrain from ill deeds and pursue the good.
- Sixth, to know nothing but what is good. Thus when such an individual and their actions are witnessed by others, they will think in high regard of their lords.
This silent call is a very difficult skill to acquire but when executed correctly its effects are profound. One example from our past that epitomizes it is that of Maulaya Raj QR. With Mumineen under intense persecution during the turmoil caused by Jaʿfar la’een it was nigh impossible to approach them – there being danger both for the one approaching and those being approached. So Maulaya Raj QR donned a pauper’s shirt to disguise himself, enabling him to visit the homes of Mumineen inconspicuously. They in turn were more amenable to welcoming a supposed pauper into their homes without fear of any reprisal. Once invited inside he then revealed his true identity and urged Mumineen to return to the fold of faith. When his secret efforts were discovered by the enemy they cut him to pieces. Syedi Luqmanjee RA would say that ‘if it were not for Raj, we would not be Mumin’ and the 49th al-dai al-mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA would pray at his qabar mubarak at great length.
Another exemplar of silent calls of action is that of the young imams, Imam Hasan and Husain AS when they came across an aged man whose wuduʾ and namaaz had many shortcomings. For them to point out the flaws directly would not have been appropriate out of respect for the senior man’s age so the two Imams AS took another approach. They instead asked the old man to decide which of the two of them was better in their wudu ʾ and namaaz and then performed the required rites correctly in front of him. In so doing the man recognized his own errors and also understood the intent of the two noble Imams AS saying they had indeed used a fine method to give guidance.
Maulaya Khanji Feer QR sought a silent way to serve his Maula, one that was out of the limelight. This was the cleaning of the butchering area behind the room where Syedna RA delivered his halqas and the smell of which would waft into the room discomforting him. Syedna was aware of what was going on and wanted the loftiness of Syedi Khanji Feer QR to be known. During one of his sessions he asked who it was that was cleaning the area to which someone responded derogatively that it was the peasant boy from Udaipur. Syedna RA admonished them not to speak of him in such a manner for he was destined to attain loftiness.
Adab, the subject that deals with literature in various languages, both prose and poetry, has great importance in Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’s annual exam. In fact, if one fails the adab examination, they cannot progress to the next year regardless of the marks scored in other subjects. The study of adab allows greater understanding of other disciplines and by mastering adab one can better explain other disciplines in an erudite and refined manner.
Speaking of various types of etiquette, Maulana al-Min’aam TUS focused on eating manners. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that by adhering to these set of etiquettes, one reaches his or her desired destination: proper digestion of the meal and good health. He divided the 12 etiquettes of eating into three sections the first of which is essential, the second required and the third desired.
Among the first set of four is to start the meal with Bismillah and end it with thanks, tasting salt both times. These four are described as essential.
The second quartet was to wash one’s hands before and after, take small morsels and chew them properly. These are considered required.
Finally came the desired seating position of leaning on one’s left leg, raising the right one somewhat upon the left, eating from that which is in front of one and not staring at others or what they are eating.
From this Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS went on to discuss the etiquette of the masjid – which are also 12 in number – as well as that of the majlis. In a majlis he mentioned that one should dress in kurta/saya donning appropriate headwear, be calm and collected, take permission to sit down and pay attention to the discourse. This is the meaning of sitting with adab.
Earlier Mufaddal Maula TUS had spoken with loving recollection of the precise and splendid manner of Maulana Burhanuddin’s RA tasleem and chammar in the majlis of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS extended his arm to show Maulana Burhanuddin’s RA action of chammar and told us how those seated in the majlis would be up on their knees to get a view of his tasleem.
As a result of the etiquette observed by Mumineen and Muminaat in hadrat imamiyah, they instantaneously join their palms together whenever near Maula TUS in a gesture that Maula TUS explained symbolizes their asking to be joined with him. When Maula TUS places his hand upon these joined hands he is, in the most erudite fashion, accepting their request and bonding them to him. This tradition of joining hands is one that our children learn from a very young age, the kind of teaching that is inscribed in them as if it were in stone.
Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna al-Qadi al-Nu’man RA composed a work on the etiquette required of the followers of the Fatimi Imams and named it Kitab al-Himmah fi Aadaab Atbaaʾ al-Aiʾimmah: The Book of Courage in the Etiquette Required of the Followers of the Imams. In this treatise, Syedna al-Qadi al-Nu’man RA wrote that if he wished to summarize all the etiquette required of the Imams’ followers, he could do so in a word: taqwaa. Taqwaa, commonly translated as piety, is more accurately defined as the combination of action with knowledge, i.e. acting in accordance with what one knows. If one knows that namaz is obligated, then the character of taqwaa compels him or her to pray and act upon this knowledge. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS further enhanced this meaning of taqwaa by stating that it is to act within the limits of propriety, speak wisely and well and call others to the mohabbat of Maula. Understanding taqwaa’s various definitions is a key element of the etiquette required of Mumineen.
The history of Awliya Allah AS is replete with examples of adab: character and etiquette of the highest calibre. In two such examples narrated by Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS, Jibra’eel has had a seminal role during a critical situation. When Ibrahim Nabi AS was to be thrown into fire by his adversaries, the Nabi AS declined when asked by Jibra’eel if he needed assistance. He also refused to submit a plea for assistance to Allah Ta’ala. At first glance, one might consider such a refusal improper, outside of proper etiquette. However, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that Ibrahim Nabi’s AS declining to seek assistance from the Creator was at the epitome of etiquette for he chose to forgo his own will and happiness, and instead submitted to Allah’s will and decree, even if that meant being thrown into fire. To choose Allah Ta’ala and His Awliyaa’s AS happiness and preference over one’s own is the essence of adab.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then related the incident of Ibrahim Nabi AS with that of his shahzadah, Maulana al-Imam al-Husain AS. Here, too, Jibraʾeel came upon Imam Husain AS knowing only too well what Allah Taʿala’s will and happiness was. However, instead of asking him if he required assistance, he went ahead and astutely offered to vanquish the armies of the enemy that had gathered. Jibraʾeel also knew well that if Imam Husain AS continued in his jihad not a single enemy would be left alive on the battlefield, but this was not what Allah had intended. When Husain Imam AS heard Jibraʾeel’s araz for assistance, he immediately enquired as to the preference and happiness of Allah Taʿala. His unstoppable force and that of his sword Zulfiqaar came to a halt upon hearing Jibraʾeel’s answer. Maulana TUS explained that it was extremely difficult for Jibraʾeel to convey Allah’s will to Husain Imam AS had Husain not asked of his own accord. Upon hearing Husain Imam’s AS question, Jibraʾeel was brought to tears knowing the answer he had to give. Such was the adab and pre-eminence of Imam Husain AS declared Maula TUS.
May Allah Ta’ala grant our beloved Maula, the one who has gathered us, joined us together and bonded us to him, an everlasting life in health and happiness. This joining of knowledge and action through the bond of mohabbat and seeking Maula’s happiness is the quintessence of all adab. May we always have the himmat to live in accordance with all its principles.