Saturday, June 25, 2011

Taking a Spiritual Vow

Once the Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn, who were at that time 5 and 4 years old, fell ill. When the Prophet of Islam, missed them in the masjid, he came to Fatima Zahra's house to inquire about them. When he was told that they were sick, he suggested that both parents should take a spiritual vow (Nazr) for the children's recovery. So both Imam Ali and Fatima Zahra prayed to Allah for the recovery of Hasan and Husayn (peace be unto them all) and took a vow to fast for three consecutive days when the children became well again. The children did recover from the illness soon after. Both parents set about fulfilling their spiritual vow and fasted. When the children saw that, they also decided to fast with their parents and so did the house-maid, Fiddha. But that day there was no food in Fatima's house even for breaking the fast.
So Imam Ali went out looking for work. He could not find any. But he was able to get three kg's of wool to be spun in exchange of three kg's of barley. Fatima Zahra spun the wool all day. She was only able to dispense with one kilo of it. So she took only one kilo of barley ground it into flour and prepared five loaves of bread. While they were all ready to break their fast, someone knocked at the door saying: "O people of the house of the Prophet, I am a poor man and I have nothing to eat, is there anything you could do to feed me." At this Imam Ali stood up, went to the door and gave his loaf to the man. Fatima Zahra did the same. Watching this, both children also gave their loaves and so did the maid. They broke their fast by water and retired.
The next day Fatima Zahra spun another kilo of wool. So she separated one kilo of barley, ground it into flour and prepared five loaves once again. As they were ready to break their fast, once again, a voice called out from the door: "O people of the house of The Prophet, I am an orphan, I am hungry, could you feed me?" Hearing this, Imam Ali stood up and gave his loaf to the man, so did Fatima Zahra, the children and the maid. They all, once again, broke their fast by water and retired. Came the third day, Fatima Zahra spun the rest of the wool, took the remaining barley, ground it into flour and prepared five loaves. As they were ready to break the fast, a voice called from the door saying: "O people of the house of the Prophet, I am a prisoner, I am hungry, could you feed me?" Hearing this, once again, Imam Ali stood up and went to the door and gave his loaf away to the prisoner. Fatima Zahra, the children and the maid did likewise.
Every time the person at the door would want to express his gratitude for the kindness, Imam Ali would say: "No, no, we are not looking for any reward from you for this act, we are doing it out of Allah's love."
Now the children had just been quite ill. And they had not eaten anything in three days. The Prophet of Islam, once again entered the house asking about the children. When he looked at them they were shaking like autumn leaves (those are the exact words in the report). Fatima Zahra told him what had been going on in the family. At that time the archangel Gabriel came down with a gift of Allah to the Prophet. That gift was the verses of Sura Insan or Dahr (chapter 76), which we quote below.
They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide. And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. We only feed you for Allah's sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks: Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day. Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness. And reward them, because they were patient, with garden and silk. (Glorious Qur'an, 76:7-12)
This story tells us that the Prophet of Islam, recommended to any family that if and when you are facing a difficult situation or you are distressed, you should do Nazr. In other words, take a spiritual vow that when the problem is over you would offer special prayers or invite friends and relatives for food that has been dedicated to the Ahlul Bayt in Allah's name.
The story is the guiding light for us in our lives. The family of Fatima Zahra (peace be unto her) fulfilled their Nazr, but when a more needy person came they gave away their food to him without any regard to their own needs. Glorious Qur'an has made it incumbent upon us to love the Prophet of Islam and his holy family and fashion our lives according to how they lived.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pious Family of Allamah Majlisi

Mulla Mohammed Baqir Majlisi’s grand-father, Mulla Maqsood Ali, had once to travel out of Isfahan. Before he set out on his journey he took Baqir Majlisi’s father and uncle to the Grand-Cleric Mulla Abd Allah Shustari that in his absence the children took instructions from him. During the stay with Ustad Shustari the time for the Idd arrived. The mentor gave 3 Toomans to Majlisi’s father to meet the expenses for the Idd. He returned the money, thanking him, and said, “I cannot accept any money and spend it without the permission of my mother!”
When he reached home and sought his mother’s permission, she said, “Your father’s total income is 14 Ghazbegi (the currency in use those days).and we make the ends meet with what he earns! If we change this habit, we may have to spread our hand in front of your mentor and others for our needs! This I wouldn’t like to do!”
When Mulla Mohammed Taqi told the reason for returning the money to his mentor, he appreciated the spirit of contentment of his mother and offered a prayer for her.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Talha and Zubeir, the Two Enigmatic Personalities

Talha and Zubeir were the first to take the oath of allegiance and they were the first to break the oath of allegiance to Imam Ali. Both of them like many others had grown immensely rich during the reign of the three caliphs before Imam Ali. They had kept growing wealthier and wealthier.
Both had married the daughters of caliph Abu Bakr which made them the brother in law of Ayesha. Ever since caliph Umar had appointed both as members of the Shura committee their ambition to become Khalifa had inflated beyond all other desires. Their influence, wealth and power had grown and they craved for the Khilafat.
When the ummah got fed up with caliph Usman and as frustrated groups of opposition began to emerge, it was Talha and Zubeir who rallied them and took charge as leaders of the mobs. Later they laid siege to the palace of caliph Usman and agitated matters to an extent which resulted in his murder. Everyone in Madina had witnessed their conduct towards caliph Usman and therefore contrary to the expectation of both, the people did not choose either of them as caliph. The public’s choice for caliph became Imam Ali. In order not to make themselves too conspicuous they gave their pledge of allegiance to Imam Ali.
Finding caliphate beyond their reach, they eyed Basra and Kufa as consolation prizes. Displaying obedience to the new caliph they waited in hope that their prestige and influence with the people of Basra and Kufa would not be overlooked. But Imam Ali was not impressed by their status and prestige. Imam Ali was reviving the true Islamic government and looked forward to appointing honest, sincere and God fearing governors in all provinces.
Neither Talha nor Zubeir possessed any of these lofty qualities. Both were unreliable. They had rebelled against caliph Usman previously and could just as easily rebel against Ali. And that is what they did! Realizing that they would not get Basra or Kufa, they decided to go to Makkah and left Madina with treason in their hearts. They broke the pledge of allegiance and soon declared war against the legal government in the name of vengeance for the very man they had gotten killed – caliph Usman!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Abuzar, the Great Companion of the Prophet (s.a.)

Abdul Hamid Jaudatus Sahar of Egypt writes, "Islam spread in Medina like wild fire”. The tribe of Ghifaar became overjoyed at it. Muslims congratulated one another that the two tribes of Aus and Khazraj, who were most eloquent, best swordsmen, and best sympathizers, turned Muslims, and also because Allah had willed to raise up His religion, and was determined to help the Holy Prophet and fulfil His promise.
Unais came to his brother Abuzar with the happy news and said, "Islam has spread in Medina and Aus and Khazraj have embraced Islam”.
Abuzar said, "The Messenger of Allah will go to them and migrate to their city very shortly".
Unais looked surprisingly at his brother and said, "Have you received any such information?"
Abuzar: "No, neither I have any information about it, nor did I know of the people of Yathrib becoming believers".
Unais: "How, then, did you know that the Messenger of Allah will migrate to Yathrib?"
Abuzar: "He had told me the very day I saw him, that he will go to a town of date palms and I think that place is Yathrib. The Messenger had spoken the truth”.
Unais: "Is it possible that his tribe lets him go out of that place along with Muslims, so that after making thorough preparation he may attack them?"
Abuzar: "They may let him or not, but he will shortly migrate to that place. Of course, only Allah knows how and when it will happen”.
Abuzar converted his tribe to Islam after he had become a believer. Then he turned his attention to Medina. Since his return from Mecca, till the migration of the Holy Prophet, Abuzar remained busy with the preaching of Islam and continued making efforts to take the Divine religion to the masses.

The Trusted and Loyal Companion

Shrine of Salmaan in Madain, Iraq
Salmaan, the most trusted and loyal companion of the holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.) suggested digging a ditch or khandaq around Madinah to keep the invading army at bay. When Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkans, saw the ditch, he said, ‘This stratagem has not been employed by the Arabs before.’
Salman participated in all of the other campaigns of the messenger thereafter. Salman became known as “Salman the Good.” He was a scholar who lived a rough and ascetic life. He had one cloak, which he wore and slept on. He would not seek the shelter of a roof but stayed under a tree or against a wall.  Later, as a governor of Al-Madain (Ctesiphon) near Baghdad, Salman received a stipend of five thousand dhirhams. This he would distribute as sadaqah (charity donation).
He lived from the work of his own hands. When some people came to Madina and saw him working the palm groves, they said “You are the leader here and your sustenance is guaranteed and yet you do this work?” “I like to eat from the work of my own hands,” he replied.  As a scholar, Salman was noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Imam Ali (PBUH) said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise.