Foundations are essential not only in the construction of structures of steel and brick but also for the edifices of one’s life. The firmness and depth of these foundations influence the ability of a structure to endure the vicissitudes of time. The taller a structure aspires to be, the deeper and firmer its foundation should be.
During the revival and restoration of Jami´ Anwar, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA gave his raza mubarak to dig along the right side of the masjid in search of the original foundation of the pillars and arches. Two metres down, the original continuous foundations of the pillars were unearthed upon which the new pillars and arches were based. Such was the importance of this revelation, that the then Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt Syed Mohammed Tihaami professed that the ‘Sultan’s (Syedna Burhanuddin RA) restoration of this masjid will bring about the zuhoor of [Aimmat] Fatemiyeen AS. A number of years later, after ascending the minaret of Jami´ Juyushi, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA exclaimed to the Shahzadas present ‘behold the light of Anwar has spread throughout the world’. Legend has it that Imam Hakim AS had buried a reserve of gold beneath one of Anwar’s column to be used for future restoration of the masjid. In reality, the true treasure, one that would suffice the restoration of Anwar to its former glory, was Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA.
Al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS stated that this discovery – the third of the nine aayaat revealed during the restoration of Anwar – alludes to the fact that all the actions and words of Duat Mutlaqeen are based on the firm foundation of sharia, the directives of Nabi Mohammed SA, and the conduct of Aimmat Tahereen AS. For example, it was with the intent of Imam al-Zaman’s AS zuhoor that al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA constructed Masjid Moazzam in Surat, placing in it the barakat of Bait Allah in Makkah Mukarramah. A hundred years later, his namesake, al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA built a residence in the proximity of Bait Allah, with the noble intention that Imam al-Zaman AS grace it with his august presence. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS prayed that this residence be rebuilt and the intention of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA be fulfilled. Similarly, Syedna Burhanuddin RA revealed the foundations of zuhoor during the restoration of Anwar. Then, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS beseeched Imam al-Zaman AS: Duat Mutlaqeen have laid the foundations for your zuhoor! Grace us O Maula with your presence and the deedar of your radiant countenance.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS referred to a Swahili proverb meaning that the strength of a house is by its foundations. He gave an example of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the tallest twin towers in the world, with their foundations reaching a depth of 105 metres in some places. Despite the advancement in technology the most well laid foundations are susceptible, with the restoration of historic buildings sometimes carrying the risk of weakening the structure instead of strengthening it. However, the foundations of the edifice of faith have been laid since the beginning of time and even today, having endured many an earthquake, remain firm and unshakeable. It is upon this continuous foundation that Nabi Adam AS established his sharia, Nuh Nabi AS constructed his safeenah, Nabi Ibrahim AS built Bait Allah, Moosa Nabi AS wielded his staff, Eesa Nabi AS made his cross and Nabi Mohammed SA his sharia. Just as the ultimate aim of any doctor is to cure his patient, for which the medication he prescribes may differ according to the illness, similarly, the objective of the various prophets has always been the salvation of souls, though the means to achieve this may differ according to the prevalent circumstances. Sharias may vary, but the faith has and always will remain that of Islam.
The Foundation of Faith
The foundation of faith is mohabbat, by virtue of which deeds and actions are accepted. Amongst the seven pillars of Islam – walaayat is a pillar, but it is the pillar that holds up the remaining six. Through a narration of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq’s AS in which he addresses his followers, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS elaborated the foundations of our faith: mohabbat for Maula, belief in Maula and remaining with Maula. As a result, the structure of our life and death is like that of Awliyaa Allah AS. In contrast, the foundations of those who bear ill towards us are on hatred, denial and severing relations; foundations that will inevitably give way.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS spoke about the foundations of a Mumin’s home. The word bayt (house) is used when referring to the homes in which one dwells in. Just as Bayt Allah is a place of solace and tranquility, the house of each Mumin when filled with the mohabbat of Ahlebayt AS is a source of peace and tranquility. The Holy Quran states that ‘we have created for you, your spouses so that you may seek comfort in them, and we have nurtured love and mercy between you’. The traits of love and mercy are the bedrock of a happy home. These foundations and bedrocks cannot be shaken as long as we remain true to the ideals of Awliyaa’ Allah AS. However, the moment we deviate from them we will render our homes and lives vulnerable. Likewise, the expression of noh and aweel on Imam Husain AS is the foundation of our lives. This foundation, which has been laid from the ‘first day’, is one we should never forget. It is upon this foundation that we are to construct the structures of our lives.
Bait Allah and Imam’s Palace
The foundations of faith have remained firm ever since they were first laid. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS illustrated this with examples of physical foundations that have survived the onslaught of time. The first of these is Bayt Allah. The foundations of the House of Allah go back to the very beginning. In the era of Nuh Nabi AS the Kaabah was elevated to the fourth heaven. On the basis of the original foundations, Ibrahim Nabi AS was instructed to reconstruct it. Maulana Ismali AS gathered stones while Ibrahim Nabi AS put them in place. When it came to fill the space of Hajar Aswad, Ibrahim Nabi AS sent his son Maulana Ismail AS in search of a stone. While he was looking for a stone, Jibraeel descended with the Hajar Aswad, which Ibrahim Nabi AS laid in its place.
Over the years a number of attempts at rebuilding the Kaabah were made. One such effort was undertaken by Quresh (the tribe) in the time of Rasulullah AS, prior to his accession as a Nabi. Once the construction was completed, the various branches of Quresh squabbled over who would place Hajar Aswad in its place. They came to an agreement that the first person to appear before them would decide the course of action. Lo and behold that person was Nabi Mohammed SA, who upon seeing they all called out in unison ‘the trustworthy has come’. They were all greatly pleased to see him. Nabi Mohammed SA gave them a novel solution. He placed the sacred stone upon a sheet, asked the heads of each family to grab an end of the sheet and together bring it to its location. Once there, Nabi Mohammed SA lifted it out himself and placed it in its rightful place.
One infamous person said of Hajar Aswad that he did not know whether kissing it brought any benefit or forgoing it brought any detriment, but since he had seen Rasulullah SA revere it, he would too. To this Amirul Mumineen AS instantly replied, ‘indeed, it brings both benefit and detriment; Rasulullah SA would never obligate any act that holds no meaning’.
The second example was of the ancient foundations of Imam Mu´izz’s AS palace in al-Qaherah (Cairo). The Imam had sent instructions for a palace to be built in time for his arrival in al-Qaherah from North Africa. Kaafur al-Ikhshidy, whom Imam AS had entrusted with the palace’s construction, intended to ask Imam AS about the number of rooms and entrances to the palace. However, like the camel of Rasulullah SA and the horse of Imam Husain AS, Imam Mu´izz AS sent a mule which came to a stop at a vast piece of land outside of the existing city. Kaafur began excavating the area and found the foundations of a structure with the number of rooms and entrances clearly marked. Upon being informed of this finding Imam AS replied, ‘long have we resided there’.
With regards to Masjid Quba, the first masjid constructed in Islam, the Quran Majeed states that its foundation is upon taqwaa (piety). Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that the sanctity of the land upon which a masjid is constructed is eternal. It is for this reason that during the dedication of a masjid it is explicitly mentioned that a masjid cannot be sold, bought, gifted or inherited by anyone.
In the context of waqf, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS, quoted the words of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA addressing those who accused him of misappropriating waqf properties. He questioned their claims that they have the best interests of the community at hand. He asked them how many members of the community do you know? What have you done for their betterment? Are you ever there for them in times of grief? All you do this talk. Whenever an initiative is being carried out for the community’s betterment, you are at the forefront of efforts to sabotage it. Ultimately, I am with Mumineen and Mumineen are with me.
Free from Interest
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS stressed the importance of founding our trade practices and eating habits on halal. The prohibition of interest, in all its forms, is clear and beyond doubt. Yet, a number of deviants continue to propagate practices that justify the giving and receipt of interest. He explained, that a Mumin should distance himself from all forms of interest even to the extent that they should not take advantage of a person to whom they have given a loan to. Syedna TUS gave an example, if a person in India gives someone in Dar es Salaam a loan, he should not stay at his home or use his car if he ever happens to visit Dar es Salaam. Doing so equates to taking interest on his loan.
Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA had delivered a number of bayaans regarding interest, from which Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS narrated: Interest takes away a person’s faith from Allah by fixing the returns he gains. Even in ancient civilizations, like that of the Romans, Greeks and Chinese, interest was prohibited. Taking interest is considered a bad characteristic since it is nothing but taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. Interest is comparable to quicksand, blood cancer and a snake – its skin is smooth but a deadly poison lies within it. It paralyzes and destroys one’s business and deters one from spending for good causes. Amirul Mumineen AS directed a youth to first verse himself in fiqh before entering into trade, for one who trades without an understanding of fiqh will be dragged into the mire of interest.
Syedna Dawood b. Ajabshah RA accepted the invitation for a Mumin’s ziyaafat but was subsequently told that person was mired in interest. Syedna called him and informed him that he would not be able to come unless he divested himself of all his interest earnings and properties. Everything had to go, and in its place Syedna gave him some clothes, a large handkerchief, and 4 fulus. The man did as Syedna had instructed. In possession of no material wealth whatsoever, he went to the market, sat down, and laid before him the handkerchief given to him by Syedna. A man came to the bazaar with a stone in hand and asked four fulus for it. All the traders he passed by offered two or three fulus, but none four, but this man offered four fulus. As it turned out the stone was a gem-filled ore and worth two to three hundred thousand Mahmudis. Similarly, Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA made it clear to the British in India, that they will not pledge funds for their causes and receive interest in turn. However, if funds are ever required, he will do his level best to provide them. The British governor appreciated Syedna’s firmness.
Essentially, purifying one’s self from all forms of interest is easy. Easy for all those who profess mohabbat for Maula.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained the importance of consuming halal food. Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA was asked about the need to recite Bismillah and carry our zabihats even though the animal is a halal one. He replied that when an animal is not slaughtered with Allah’s name, then the good and bad elements in it mix with each other and adversely influence the one consuming it. But when zabihat is done and Allah’s name taken these detrimental elements are separated, only the pure and beneficial remain to be consumed. Where ever one eats, even if it is a five-star hotel, one should verify the source of meat and never assume that it is halal. Similar care should be taken when consuming fish.
The concept of eternal foundations encapsulates the call to noh and aweel as well as the historical examples we were shown. The foundations of noh and aweel were laid at the very onset of our fall from grace. The majaalis of Asharah Mubarakah and in particular those that have taken place in recent months in the lead up to this year’s Asharah have shown us all our ancient foundations of wailing and lamentation laid at the time of the fall, and it is upon these foundations that we build the structures that enable us to return to our original state.