Such is Jesus, son of Mary

April 15, 2009

In the Qur’an:

But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle? He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet; And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate so long as I live; And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed; And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life. Such is Isa, son of Mary… [19:29-43]

In the words of Imam Ali, the close friend and companion of Prophet Muhammad (sawa):

”If you desire I will tell you about `Isa (p.b.u.h.) son of Maryam (Mary). He used a stone for his pillow, put on coarse clothes and ate rough food. His condiment was hunger. His lamp at night was the moon. His shade during the winter was just the expanse of earth eastward and westward. His fruits and flowers were only what grows from the earth for the cattle. He had no wife to allure him, nor any son to give grief, nor wealth to deviate (his attention), nor greed to disgrace him. His two feet were his conveyance and his two hands his servant.” [Nahj Al-Balagha Sermon 160]

In the poetry of Rumi:

The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, ‘Where are you going?
No one is after you.’ Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing, across two more fields. ‘Are you
the one who says words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?’ I am. ‘Did you not make
the clay birds fly?’ Yes. ‘Who then
could possibly cause you to run like this?’
Jesus slows his pace.

I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.


As little by little air steals water, so praise
Is dried up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change. Like cold stone you sit on,
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn’t feel
the sun
. Jesus wasn’t running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.

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Respect for Mother turns one into a Friend of Allāh

September 12, 2008

Ayatollah Tehrānī narrates that once in Tehran he had gone to the Islamiyya bookshop situated on Buzarjumharī Street to purchase books. He was a friend of one of the partners of the organization, Hāj Sayyid Muhammad Kitābchī, who was responsible for the store of the bookshop. He went to the bookshop to meet him and purchase some books as well. It was in the morning and approximately four hours remained to midday. A man had also come to the store to purchase books. Having purchased the books that he required, he started to leave, when suddenly he began saying: My beloved Allāh, my physician Allāh, my helper, my helper, my soul, my soul. The Āyatullāh narrates:

On looking at him, I saw that his face had turned red and he was sweating; he was plunged in happiness and ecstasy beyond limit. Addressing him, I said: ‘Dear Sir! Dear Dervish, do not eat all alone; this is not the custom of etiquette’; He took a turn around himself and began chanting some poems of Bābā Tāhir ‘Uryān [a well-known mystic buried in Hamadān]. Thereafter he kept silent and wept a lot. Then he became happy and laughed. I said: ‘Ahsant!

Thereafter a conversation followed. During the conversation, Āyatullāh Muhammad Husayn Tehrani asks the saint to inform him how he could attain such an exalted station, and the saint narrates his anecdote as follows:

 

I had an old mother who was sick and disabled. She was bed-ridden for many years. I alone was at her service, and would attend to her needs: I would cook food for her, bring water to her for ablution, and was at her service for her different needs. However, she was very ill-mannered and would sometimes abuse me, but I would bear that and respond to her with a smile. Due to this very attitude of hers I did not get married, although my age exceeded forty years. This was because maintaining a family with the kind of character that my mother had was impossible for me. I knew that if I would marry, either she would cause our separation, or I would be forced to leave her. Abandoning my mother, however, was not acceptable to my conscience. Hence, I observed patience in remaining a bachelor, and resigned myself to the situation.

Sometimes, due to great patience in front of her ill manners, I would experience a spark of light in my heart, a state of happiness and joy. However this would only be temporary. This situation continued until one cold winter night. I had placed my bed near hers so that she wouldl not be alone and would not need to raise her voice to call me for her necessities. On that night I had filled a jug with water, and placed it near my bedside all the time, so that if my mother required some water I would immediately give it to her. In the middle of that night she asked for water. I stood up immediately and filled a small vessel with water and gave it to her saying: ‘Take, dear mother.’ She, being in the state of drowsiness did not realize that I attended to her request immediately; she thought that I had brought her the water late. Upon this, she abused me in odd, abusive language and hit me on my head with the vessel of water.

I immediately filled the vessel with water once again and addressing her said: ‘Dear mother, take, and forgive me; I am sorry! Saying this, I was overcome, and didn’t know what happened next. In short, I attained my aspiration: those sparks had tuned into a world of light resembling the radiant sun; and my beloved, my friend, my helper, and my doctor, spoke to me. Thereafter this state never stopped. And it is years now that this state has remained…

Manifestations of the All-Merciful : Section 7


How great Ayatollahs treat their Wives

September 8, 2008

The title ‘Ayatollah’ holds negative connotations in minds of most non-muslims. When the word is mentioned, first thoughts will be of violence, female oppression and hatred. We have the media to thank for this. The truth is that our greatest Ayatollahs (learned scholars) were paragons of kindness, love and devotion to God. Their stances against oppressors and immorality came from a deep love of God, which imbued within them a strong determination to oppose all forms of corruption. Intense love of God was their principle driving factor, not hatred. The following short stories will give you an insight into how these personalities lived their lives, in particular how they acted towards women.

Allamah Tabataba’i

A philosopher, mystic and one of the greatest exegetes of the Holy Qur’an in Shia Islam.


Love of Wife

‘Allāma’s family life was extremely warm and pleasant. When his wife passed away he shed so many tears and was so saddened and moved that one day we asked him, “we should be learning patience and endurance from you – why are you affected such?

He replied:

Death is inevitable. Everyone must die. I am not crying for the death of my wife. My tears are for the kindness, housekeeping abilities, and the love my wife had. I have had a life full of ups and downs. In the holy city of Najaf when we were faced with many difficulties, I was not even aware of the needs and the administration of our life [because she took care of them so well]. Managing our life was in the hands of my wife, and throughout our life not once did my wife do something that I said I wish she hadn’t done that, even just to myself. Nor did she ever not do something that I said I wish she had carried that out!

Throughout our life together never once did she say to me why did you carry out that particular act, or why didn’t you do something! For example, you know that I work at home and am continually occupied with writing and studying. As a result I get tired and occasionally I need to rest and to renew my energy. My wife was aware of this. She would always have the kettle on and tea ready. Although she was busy with housework, she would pour me one cup of tea every hour. She would place it in my study and would return to her work until the following hour…how can I ever forget such love and kindness?!

Ayatullah Ibrāhīm Amīnī (author of self building)

Like two friends

His [‘Allāma’s] behavior with my mother was incredibly respectful and friendly. Through his actions it seemed as if he was always eager to see my mother. We never saw them order each other to do or not do anything, nor did we see any discord between the two of them. They were loving, loyal and forgiving to each other to such an extent that we thought they never disagreed. The two of them were truly like two friends with each other.

Prior to her death, my mother was ill and confined to bed for 27 days. During this period my father did not leave her bedside for a single moment. He left all his work to take care of her.

At the same time my mother was an exceptional woman. She was patient when faced with difficulties and a meager lifestyle. She managed all our household affairs. She took care of our academic and social life and handled all our concerns. She worked with such efficiency and wisdom that my father was able to pursue his academic work with complete ease of mind.

‘Allāma’s daughter

My partner in all that was good

“It was this woman who allowed me to reach this position. She has been my partner and whatever books I have written, half [of the credit] belongs to her.”

This one sentence from ‘Allāma Tabātabā’ī is sufficient as an indication of his enlightened view of women. At another time he said:

If a woman did not have importance, God would not have placed the lineage of the 12 Imāms in the progeny of Hazrat Zahra (a). Truly if a woman is noble and good she can make the entire world a rose-garden, and if she is bad she can make the world a hell…Women and men are partners, and after looking after the raising of her children, a woman must become aware and familiar with the affairs of her society.

‘Allāma Tabātabā’ī

Link

Imam Khomeini

Most know Imam Khomeini as the leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, but there was much more to him than this. He has authored many books on ethics and spirituality, and is recognised as a great mystic and philosopher. His two most famous works are Forty Hadith and Etiquettes of Prayer

Observance of the rights of a wife:

Imam always offered me the better place in the room. He would not start eating until I came to the dinner table. He would also tell the children: ‘Wait until Khanom comes.’ He maintained respect for me and was not even willing that I should work in the house. He would always tell me: ‘Don’t sweep.’ If I wanted to wash the children’s clothes at the pond[1], he would come and say: “Get up, you shouldn’t be washing.”

On the whole, I have to say that Imam did not consider sweeping, washing dishes and even washing my children’s clothes as part of my responsibilities. If out of necessity I sometimes did these, he would get upset considering them as a type of unjust dealing towards me.

Even when I entered the room, he would never say: ‘Close the door behind you,’ but waited till I sat down and then would himself get up and shut the door.[2]

The Imam’s Wife


60 years of living together and not one request for a glass of water:

Imam had extraordinary respect for his wife. For example, I am not lying if I say that in the period of 60 years of living together, he did not even reach for food (on the dinner table) before his wife, nor did he have even the smallest expectation from her. I can even say that in the period of 60 years of living together, at no time did he even ask for a glass of water, but would always get it himself. If he was in such a position that he could not, he would say: ‘Is the water not here?’ He would never say: ‘Get up and bring me water.’ He behaved this way not only with his wife but also with all of us who were his daughters. If he ever wanted water we would all enthusiastically run to get it, but he never wanted us to bring and give him a glass of water in his hand.

During the difficult last days of his life, each time he would open his eyes, if he was capable of speaking, he would ask: ‘How is Khanom?’ We would reply: ‘She is good. Shall we tell her to come to you?’ He would answer: ‘No, her back is hurting. Let her rest.’[3]

Siddiqa Mustafavi (Imam’s daughter)

Blessed am I that I have such a wife:

Imam was very attached to his wife and had special respect for her, so much so that he placed his wife on one side, and his children on the other.

I remember that once Imam’s wife had gone on a journey, and Imam was missing her very much. When he would frown, we would jokingly say to him: ‘When Khanom is here, Imam laughs, and when she is not here, Imam is upset and frowns.’

In short, however much we teased Imam, he would not stop frowning. Finally I said: ‘Blessed is Khanom that you like her so much.’ He said: ‘Blessed am I that I have such a wife. No one else has sacrificed as much in life as she has. If you too would be like Khanom, your husband would also like you this much.’[4]

Siddiqa Mustafavi (Imam’s daughter)

I have come to wash the dishes:

One day, as it so happened, there were many guests at Imam’s house. After the meal, I collected the dishes and took them to the kitchen. Along with Zahra, the daughter of Agha Ishraqi, we prepared to wash the dishes. However we saw that Imam himself had immediately come to the kitchen.

I asked Zahra: “Why has Haaj Agha come to the kitchen?” I had a right to be surprised because it wasn’t time to perform wudu. Imam rolled up his sleeves and said: “Because there are many dishes today, I have come to help you.” My body started to tremble. My Lord! What am I seeing! I said to Zahra: “I swear by you to Allah, please request Imam to leave. We will wash the dishes ourselves.” This was really unexpected for me.[10]

Marzieh Hadide Chi (Dabagh)

Link


The Worship of the Free

September 5, 2008

Asalamu alaykum,

Imam As-Sadiq [as] said about the meaning of worship: “Worship is of three kinds: some people worship Allah, because they fear Him – so it is the worship of slaves; and a group worships Allah, Blessed and High is He, to seek reward – so it is the worship of hirelings; and a group worships Allah, Mighty and Great is He, because of (His) love – and this is the worship of the free, and it is the most excellent worship.” (al-Kafi)

Imam Ali [as] said: Verily, some people worshipped Allah being desirous (Of His reward) – so this is the worship of traders; and some people worshipped Allah fearing (His punishment) – so it is the worship of slaves, and a group worshipped Allah in gratitude (to Him) so this is the worship of the free. (Nahju ‘I-balaghah)

Imam as-Sadiq [as] said: ‘Verily people worship Allah in three ways: One group worships Him in desire of His reward, and it is the worship of covetous ones, and it is greed; and others Worship Him in dread of the Fire, and it is the worship of slaves, and it is fear; but I worship Him in His love – Mighty and Great is He and this is the worship of noble ones. (It is) because Allah has said: and they shall be secure from terror on that days (27: 89); and He has said, Say: ‘If You love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you. . .’ (3:31). Therefore, whosoever is loved by Allah, he shall be among the secure ones; and it is a hidden position, cannot touch it save the purified ones.” (al-Ilal, al-Majalis and al-Khisal)

The above quoted traditions show that the highest form of worship is not done out of fear of hell, nor for the sake of Heaven, rather it is done out of sheer love and gratitude to Allah swt.

Our worship, which is the worship of slaves and business men, makes Allah swt a means to an end. He is not our final goal; He is only an intermediary to a final goal which is Heaven. We worship God because we want the material pleasures of Heaven, and this is different from wanting Allah swt.

On the otherhand the Ahlul Bayt and Awliya’ of Allah worshipped God out of love for Him, and recognising that He is worthy of their worship. To them Allah swt was the ultimate goal, and greatest prize. It wasn’t the rivers of honey or the mansions of paradise.

A few questions arise here:

(1) If the above is true, why did the Ahlul Bayt in many supplications seek Heaven, and ask to be saved from Hell?

(2) Why did they supplicate for Houris and palaces?

This is discussed below.

(1) Heaven and Hell

When we seek heaven we do so for its material rewards. This is the worship of the traders that is mentioned in the hadith. When the Awliya’ seek Heaven their minds are on something else. They want heaven because it is a place of nearness to Allah swt, not because of its material pleasures. Similarly, they fear hell because it is a place of distance from Allah swt. They cannot stand the thought of distance, and want only greater proximity.

Imam Ali [as] in Dua Kumail says:

Therefore (my Lord!) If Thou wilt subject me to the penalties (of hell) in company of Thy enemies and cast me with those who merited Thy punishments and tear me apart from Thy friends and those who will be near to Thee, then my God, my Lord and my Master, though I may patiently bear Thy punishments, how can I calmly accept being kept away from Thee?

I reckon that though I may patiently endure the scorching fire of Thy hell, yet how can I resign myself to the denial of Thy pity and clemency?

According to Imam Ali [as] the torment of the fire of Hell is severe and unbearable, but even worse than this torment is being kept away from Allah. In Munajat Sha’baniyah he says:

الهي ان اخذتني بجرمي اخذتك بعفوك, وان اخذتني بذنوبي اخذتك بمغفرتك, وان ادخلتني النار اعلمت اهلها اني احبك

My Lord, if You condemn me for my crimes, I will cling to Your forgiveness, and if You hold me for my sins, I will cling to Your granting pardon. If You haul me into the hell, I will tell its inmates that I love You.

When Asiyah [r] the wife of Fir’own was being tortured, she asked Allah swt to build her a house in Jannah. But the most important thing in her eyes was that this house should be ‘near you’.

وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتاً فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

[66:11] And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: “O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong”;

She didn’t say ”build for me a house in Jannah” or ”build for me a house in Jannah in nearness to you” rather she said ”Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a house in Jannah”

Being close to Allah swt was what she wanted.

(2) Supplicating for houris and palaces.

Imam Khumayni [r] in his book Adabu Salat addresses this issue whilst discussing the beliefs of those Muslims with a materialistic outlook:

There are among these people those who admit for the prophets and holy men [auliya] (AS) nothing other than corporeal states and bodily Paradise, i.e. satisfying the animal desire. They take the greatness of the states of the other world to be similar to the greatness of this world, with vast orchards, running rivers and a multitude of houris and youths and palaces. When there is a talk about love, affection and divine attraction, they assault the speaker with vulgar language and ugly words, as if they themselves have been insulted and they were retaliating. These people block the way of humanity and they are the thorns of the road to knowing Allah, and the Satans who deceive men, hindering groups upon groups of the servants of Allah from Allah, His names, His attributes, His remembrance and remembering, and directing their attentions to the animal stomach and sexual desires. They are Satanic agents who sit in ambush on the straight path of Allah according to the ayah: “I shall surely lurk in ambush for them on Your straight path,” [352] in order to prevent the servants of Allah from getting familiar with their Lord and from ridding themselves from the darkness of animal desires, including inclination towards houris and palaces. These people may resort to evidences from the invocations of the prophets and the infallible Ahlul Bayt (AS) in which they also demand houris and palaces. But this is due to the shortcomings of this group who recognize no difference between loving Allah’s grace, which is loved because it is the gift of the Beloved, in itself being a sign of affection and care, and merely loving the houris and palaces independently, which is within the nature of the animal desire. Loving Allah’s gifts is Loving Allah, which consequently covers the favours of Allah and His graces:
I love the whole world, for the whole world is of Him. [353]
The love of the abode did not infatuate me,
But the love of the one who resides therein.
[354]

Otherwise, what would, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) do with houris and palaces? How could that great man be associated with the appetites of the self and the animal desires? The one whose worship is that of a free man, his reward cannot be that of traders.