The Path

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar radiyalaahu anhuma had mentioned, "Whoever wishes to follow the way of another, should follow the ways of those who have passed away. These were the companions of Muhammad sallalaahu alayhi wassalam, who were the best people of this Ummah. Their hearts were most pious, their knowledge was deepest and they were least pretentious. They were people whom Allah Ta'ala had chosen to be companions of His Nabi sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and for the transmission of His Deen. You people should emulate their character and mannerisms. By the Rabb of the Kaabah! The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam were correctly guided."

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Ulama and the Effort of Dakwah and Tabligh: Part 2

On 10th June 2007, Maulana Abu Bakar of South Africa visited Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling, the Kuala Lumpur Markaz and a jord (gathering) was held at the Markaz. From his many precious advises, he talked about the importance of maintaining relationship with the ulama. 

He urged us to meet the ulama and asked them to make du'a for us with the intention of getting blessing from Allah. May by the grace of Allah, Allah will forgive us through the du'a of the ulama. An aalim also have to ask for du'a from a more senior aalim. Members of the public have to ask prayer even from young ulama. Even someone who sponsored a young man to learn hifz and aalim studies also have to give a proper respect to the young man upon him completing his Deeni studies.

An aalim is not to be disturbed when he was resting and sleeping, and at the time when he is teaching. Greeting him, presenting him with a gift, asking for advice and du'a are good things in tartib of khususi the ulama . Give karguzari with wisdom depending on the situation. We may also give brief karguzari on how dakwah and tabligh work has given benefit to ourselves.

He also mentioned that we should not criticize the ulama. This will cause a bad effect on our imaan and becoming a cause (asbab) for ourselves to be prevented from Deeni effort and may prevent us from taufeeq or guidance to practice Deen.

Alhamdulillah, for a layman like me, Allah makes it easy so as to confine our duties and responsibilities in a fairly straight forward way as above. Rightly, the ulama are in their own league. It is best to let an aalim to tasykeel another aalim in their own special way.

Hadhrat Maulana Zafar Ahmad Thanwi rahmatullah alayhi recounted that when he was with Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas Dehlawi rahmatullah alayhi around June 1944, Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas uttered a poem "My life will end shortly, behold! Let us live together for a few days. If you come after my demise, you'll be sorry." I was moved by his words that I shed tears unnoticed. Then he said, "Do you remember your promise?" I had promised to him to spend my time in tabligh. I replied, "Yes, I remember. But now the weather is very hot in Delhi. In Ramadhan it'll be very tough. I will give time after Ramadan." He answered, "You mention about the month of Ramadhan when even I might not have any hope to live in Sha'ban." (Ten days prior to the month Sha'ban, on 21 Rajab 1363H/1944M Fajr time, he was called back to his Khaliq).

I said, "Well, I will give time for tabligh right now. Do not worry, Maulana." Hearing my answer, his face was beaming as he hugged my neck, kissing my eyebrows while making du'a for me. Then he said, "You have approached me closely. Many ulama wish to understand what I mean, but from a distance." Then he mentioned the name of a great aalim and said, "He would always follow this dakwah work. But if you ask me, then I say: He did not understand what I want because he is in contact with me through messengers. How could I make him understand if the representative messenger did not understand? Thus, I want you to join me for a few days so you can understand my desire and purpose. It can not be understood from a distance. I know you have taken part in this dakwah and tabligh effort by giving taqrir at functions and listeners get a lot of benefit from them, but it is not that form of dakwah which I desire."

When Hadhrat Mufti Mahmud Hassan Gangohi rahmatullah alayhi was once at his residence in South Africa, some responsible brothers of the tablighi jamaat and ulama linked to the tablighi jamaat came to meet him. They had come to consult with Hadhrat Mufti about how they could best explain to a certain aalim that he should stop writing articles condemning the tablighi jamaat. Someone suggested that an aalim linked to the khanqah who was also in agreement with the effort of the tablighi jamaat should be sent to speak to the aalim in question. It was hoped that he would be able to convince the aalim. However, another aalim said, "I have personally spoken to him about this matter, but he refuses to accept."

Hadhrat Mufti then said, "My opinion is that nothing should be said to him. You continue with your work and he will continue with his belief that it is his duty. The more you try to prevent him, the more he will continue. Carry on with your work and let him carry on with his." This was Hadhrat Mufti's decision and they left it at that.

It was in this gathering that Hadhrat Mufti related a few experiences. He said that once the rector of Darul Ulum Deoband, Hadhrat Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyib rahmatullah alayhi was initially not familiarized to the work of the tablighi jamaat and was unaware of its benefits. There was an ijtema in Saharanpur and upon the advice of Hadhrat Maulana Zakariyya Kahdhlawi rahmatullahi alayhi the responsible brothers of the tablighi jamaat requested Hadhrat Qari Tayyib to deliver a lecture since he happened to be visiting Saharanpur at the time. Hadhrat Qari Tayyib delivered the lecture in which he admonished those participating with the tablighi jamaat.

Hadhrat Mufti said, "I was once on a journey with Hadhrat Qari Tayyib and said to myself that I will speak all the way without giving him a chance to say anything. I therefore narrated to him many experience and incidents of the tablighi jamaat. The effect of this was that the entire attitude of Hadhrat Qari Tayyib completely changed. It so happened that some time later another ijtema was held in Saharanpur. This time Hadhrat Qari Tayyib was also there and Hadhrat Maulana Zakariyya again told the responsible brothers of the tablighi jamaat to invite him to deliver a lecture. However, this time Hadhrat Qari Tayyib delivered such lecture regarding the six points that even those associated with the tablighi jamaat would be unable to deliver."

In another incident, Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Bari rahmatullah alayhi once commented to Hadhrat Mufti Mahmud Hassan rahmatullah alayhi, "Why are you doing the work of tabligh amongst the ignorant? Rather do it amongst the English-speaking class because I have not seen any of them whose iman is in a safe condition, unless they had not been hesitant in expressing their beliefs." Hadhrat Mufti replied, "We will continue doing work amongst the ignorant because we are illiterate just like them. You are educated, therefore you should rather do the work amongst the learned class."

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmud Hassan Gangohi rahmatullah alayhi also mentioned, "There was once an Ijtema in Lucknow (in India). Maulana Abrarul Haq, Maulana Siddiq Ahmad rahmatullah alayhim and I were all present there. With them, I also presented myself in the company of Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Bari who had been granted permission from Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi rahmatullah alayhi to act as a spiritual mentor. He started making some tea when he said, "Yes! No ones lecture was on the style and mode of Hadhrat Thanwi. They scatter the seeds and go away. They do not reform their household. A person's home should first be set right. One should go out to reform others only once one's own home and town have been reformed. It was because of this that Hadhrat Thanwi did not approve of this method." All this he was saying while making the tea as the three of us sat there quietly.

Maulana Siddiq and Maulana Abrarul Haq both whispered to me, forcing me to give a reply. Eventually Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Bari himself said, "Mufti Sahib! You will have to give a reply." I submitted, "In the presence of pious people, as long as a person can remain an ear he should not become a tongue." However, he insisted, "It is your duty to reply."

I then said, "Alright, then listen. Your opinion is incorrect. Hadhrat Thanwi had written the books Islahur Rusum and Bahishti Zewar and traveled to many places to deliver lectures. Did he first reform his own town and region? Did he only engage himself in reforming his household? Which custom was not prevalent in Thanabowan? Hadhrat Thanwi's wife was the paternal aunt of my close relative, so I know all about their domestic matters." Maulana Abdul Bari said, "The original way is this that a person first reforms himself, then his family, then his locality and then his neighbourhood and surrounding areas. The work should be done in this manner." I replied, "Did Hadhrat Thanwi first reform his own household and then started advising others and reforming them? Similarly, you have written so many books for the reformation of others. Did you first reform your household before writing these books?" He said, "I threw my children out of the house." I said, "This is also wrong. Will they be reformed in this manner? Was this the approach and style of tabligh of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam that those who do not accept should be thrown out of the house whereby ending all hopes of reformation?"

Hadhrat Maulana Abdul Bari said, "I was not aware that the tablighi jamaat can influence the Grand Mufti of Darul Ulum Deoband to this extent. If they had no other accomplishment to their credit, this in itself is a great accomplishment that they influenced the Grand Mufti of Darul Ulum." I replied, "This is also incorrect. On the contrary, the tablighi jamaat gave Darul Ulum a Mufti. The Darul Ulum needed a Mufti, so they requested the tablighi jamaat who gave them a Mufti as I am first a tablighi then a Mufti."

Upon this Maulana Abdul Bari said, "There is great benefit in this work as well. Many people who were not performing solah started performing solah and learnt a great deal of Deen also. But this is such a method where the seeds are being continuously planted and that is where it stops. There is no consolidation of the effort." Upon that I said, "Get ready for 40 days. I will accompany you. As you wish we will do the work. As far as not physically taking part in this effort and merely raising objections and criticize while sitting in ones home, we give no merit to such criticism, nor do we pay any attention to it.""

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Ulama' and the Effort of Dakwah and Tabligh: Part 1

Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas Dehlawi rahimahullah said, "Wherever a person doing the effort of dakwah and tabligh goes,  he should make attempt to visit the ulama (scholars of Deen) and the righteous and pious people, for spiritual benefit, instead of directly giving dakwah to them. These people are already busy engaging in religious matters, and certainly they are more experienced and religious. You will not be able to make them understand that this effort of dakwah and tabligh is more important and more useful than other efforts. There's a chance that  they will not agree or will not accept your word, and if they had said "No" then it is difficult to change it to "Yes". Consequently, the laymen who follow him might also shun the tabligh effort. And it is only likely to cause prejudicial effect on yourself. Thus, visit the ulama only with the intention to take spiritual benefits from them."

"Nevertheless, make effort in the area where an alim resides with tartib and usool. The good and positive effects of the effort will, hopefully, reach him and attract him to embrace this work. It follows that once he likes you and your effort, then request him to supervise this work. And with utmost manners and politeness, inform him about this work."

"When we meet any alim or pious personality anywhere who does not support this work, please do not think bad of them. Rather, we must understand that the reality of this work has not been perfectly opened to them. We must realize that the ulama are special servants of Deen, thus, shaytaan is hostile to and seeks to harm them more as they are the arch-enemies of shaytaan (as thieves only steal valuable things). Whereas  the people who are busy with the worldly matters even feel heavy to leave their worldly affairs to take up any takaza, what more of the religious people who feel their affairs is nobly high? The wise men say, "The veils of light are thicker than the veils of darkness.""

With this precious advises in mind, we proceeded to Kelantan, the East-Coast state of Malaysia, on dakwah and tabligh journey for 40 days in June 2010. We were a 12-members jamaat including 7 university undergraduates, one of them a Somalian student. 95% of Kelantan's population are ethnic Malay, and under the Malaysian Constitution, all Malays are Muslims; therefore, Islam is the most influential religion in the state. The state is also known as 'Serambi Makkah' (the 'Antechamber of Makkah') and the Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim ("The Blissful Abode"). One of us jokingly said that if a pebble is thrown at a crowd of people there, there is a good chance that it will hit an ustaadzA part of the deeply conservative Malay heartlands, Kelantan has been ruled by the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) since 1990. Personally, I am of the view that many of its leaders and adherents are influenced by Maududi-type of thinking on the interpretation of Islam.

Nonetheless, by applying the above mentioned usool and tartib as stated by Hadhrat Maulana Ilyas Dehlawi rahimahullah, our effort during the khuruuj fiisabilillah in Kelantan turned out to be much easier. Whenever we knew of an alim happened to be residing at the "route" that we were staying, either he happened to also be an imam or chairman of the masjid, or living in the vicinity of the masjid, we made a point to personally talk to him, requesting him for a piece of advice to be given to us as a group in the masjid.  In all different routes and occasions, the ulama that we met were more than happy to pass down to us kind advice and words of approval and encouragement publicly in front of every worshipers. Thus, I believe the least effect of those ulama's blessing and consent had made our effort in blending and mixing with the local people turned out to be very smooth and and in harmony. That was the case until our route of tasykeel reached the district jame' masjid.

A few days prior, we were cautioned about the possibility of aggression and prejudice that might face us at the district jame' masjid. In fact we were given a choice whether to stay at the masjid or just to skip and move on to another masjid on the list of routes that had been given to us earlier. 

When we reached the masjid in the morning, we were greeted by a very pleasant soft-spoken elderly aalim who kindly prepared some refreshments for us. We noticed that the main hall of the worshiping area was tightly locked. We then made mesywarah  with the elderly aalim whom we fondly called 'Baba', at the back corridor of the masjid which was quite spacious. According to him, for the past 7 years no jamaat was allowed to stay at the masjid for 'itikaaf even for one day. Many jamaats that had attempted to make effort of dakwah and tabligh at the masjid  had been thrown out at the order of the chief imam or the 'old imam' as they called it in Kelantan (the assistant imam is called 'young imam'). Before his appointment as old imam, the jame' masjid had been enlightened with the 5-aamal of masjid. Back then there were many brothers who participated in the local effort of dakwah and tabligh. However, shaytaan had managed to sow the seed of hatred and enmity among the local people. Consequently, the old imam who himself was a veteran activist of PAS, somehow branded  those who participate in the effort of dakwah and tabligh as a group of people who shun politics which according to him is an integral part of Islam. Since then, he had been launching fierce opposition against the local tablighi brothers until there was only Baba left who keeps on making the effort at the jame' masjid.. Ironically, Baba and the old imam attended the same pondok or  madrasah as students of Deen when they were young. 

The karguzari that we heard from Baba caused nausea in our stomach. I and Munawar were chosen to visit the old imam at his house. Kadrey, a fine young man who was studying at MARA University of Technology, gave us a bottle of honey he recently bought to be offered as a present to the imam.

We reached the chief imam's house at around 10.30 am. We were greeted by his son who politely invited us to wait for his father in the living room. The chief imam was flushed with rage the moment he saw us. The anger was visible on his face. "Ustadz, we are a jamaat from Kuala Lumpur arriving at your masjid," I spoke to him in Kelantanese dialect as I was born in the state. "No! No! You people are not allowed to stay at the masjid," he retorted with a snarl. I pretended not to hear him and decided that that instead of listening to his words of disapproval, I would quickly present my case of appeal.  "Ustadz, there are a number of university students travelling with us. They are from various universities and from different parts of the country - Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Sarawak and also a Somali student. Now that they are on their semester break, they decided to come to Kelantan to learn Deen. We were told at the Masjid Jame' Sri Petaling in Kuala Lumpur that whenever we meet an aalim here, we should ask for Deeni advises from him. Now the students are waiting in the masjid. We ask for your time to give us special advises. It is not fit and proper for us to come here without obtaining any benefit from the ulama' here. Would you be able to spend your time, even if it is for a short time, perhaps after Dzuhur or after Asar?" By Allah, his rage and anger instantly lessened the moment he heard of our plead. "I would not be at the masjid for Asar," he said amid uneasy broken voice. "Perhaps after Dzuhur solah? Just for a short moment, Ustadz," I continued pleading. When I sensed hesitation on his part, I gestured at Munawar and said, "Oh! We bring honey as a gift for you." Munawar immediately handed the bottle of honey to him with his trademark smile. "Allright, for a short time after Dzuhur," the chief imam said to our relief and joy.

And Masha'Allah! We all sat waiting behind him as he performed nafil ba'diyah solah after Dzuhur. We gathered around him listening attentively to his advice and what a wonderful advice it was. At the end of his advice, he raised his hands to make du'a for us and we responded with "Aamin". Thereupon, we stayed in the jame' masjid for 3 days without any trouble and hindrance. Subhanallah!

And Baba's face was beaming with happiness when he heard our karguzari later.

It is not so creditable to work in the favourable and conducive environment as in the unfavourable and adverse conditions along with safeguarding our principles and trend. The ability and capability of a worker is best judged in such situations. That is why Hadhratji Maulana Inamul Hassan rahimahullah used to say time and again that we should not be worried by the disfavour and opposition because Allah is the Doer. When He comes to doing, even idols would divulge his oneness and the voice of truth would rise from the establishment of untruth.