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1st Station: ‘Waking Up’

1.1 Introduction To Waking-Up

“Waking-Up” or Yaktha as it is literally known and pronounced in the Arabic language is the first of many stations one must embrace and complete in their journey towards Allah the Al-Mighty. There are multiple methods of waking up as will be evident in the ensuing discussion. Looking at them from a bird’s eye view they are the physical and non-physical methods. The discussion will begin by defining this station and continue by outlining the various signs available to determine whether one has woken up or whether they are in fact still asleep.

1.2 Waking-Up The First Station Of A Traveler

1.2.1 Importance Of Waking Up

It is important that one ‘wakes-up’ before they depart from this world, so that they are aware and ready for the realities of the Hereafter. Without applying this study to yourself you can rest assured that you are probably in deep sleep already. Although you may be physically awake, the question we are posing here is that are you spiritually and mentally awake?

1.2.2 Start By Physically Waking-Up

The first step is to ensure that you are at least physically alert by physically waking up in the mornings, and performing your Salah. Offer sincere supplication and ask from Allah (SWT) to help in your timely waking up in the morning. You will soon inshallah experience that it is as if you can hear the call of someone calling you softly to wake up to the morning.

As will be discussed below – this station goes well beyond the physical notion of waking up that we know and appreciate in the mornings.

It has been narrated that Imam Ali (‘a) once said:

“People are asleep and unless they wake up they will only not do so until their waking up on the Day of Resurrection.”

Why are we then busying ourselves with the non-important things in our life.

1.3 The Study Of Irfan Sparked From One Ayah

Urafa (Mystics and Gnostics) relate that the study and realm of Irfan was sparked from one ayah in the Quran. In this ayah, Allah (SWT) informs us that He has only one advise for us:

“O Messenger, tell them – indeed I only adviser you and one thing – to stand (wake up) for the sake of Allah (SWT)”

The word in arabic used here is ‘innama’ which literally means this and only this, or absolutely this. This means that one should realize that their life was given to them by Allah (SWT) and they should want to live for the sake of Allah (SWT).

Mufassarin (those whom provide insight and commentary of the Quran) are unanimous that after the ayaat of “Read, in the Name of the Lord”, which was the very first ayat of the Quran, the very next ayah can be found in Surah Muddathir, where Allah (SWT) states:

O thou enveloped in thy cloak, Arise and warn! (74:1-2)

It is initially intended for the Prophet (S), but the beauty and timeliness of the Quran is such that this ayah when read now is easily as applicable to one living today as it was to another living in the years gone by.

1.4 Starting A Journey With A Group

One of the better ways to travel in this life long journey towards Tawhid (Uniqueness of Allah (SWT)) is to do so in the form of a group. This will prove to be more effective for you than if you want to travel alone. A group can encourage one another and build on the collective strength of one another.

1.5 Signs Of Whether You Are Awake Or Asleep

There are various signs that one can utilize to assess whether they are asleep or in fact awake, some of which are detailed below:

1.5.1 Reciting The Holy Quran

The more you read the more it impacts you, the more you can wake you up. A good example in history can be drawn by analyzing a brief moment in the life of a person called

‘Ibn Ayan’ is one of the most outstanding Muslim Arifs, Fadel ibn Ayaz. Prior to being known in the world of philosophy as an Arif he was, believe it or not, known in the immediate areas of residence as a ‘bandit’. In fact,, he was the leader of a bandit gang – known to terrorize people in the community and get up to serious mischief.

Ibn Ayan, once noticed a girl washing some clothes by a river. He approached her and told her to be prepared as he was planning to come to her that night. She ran away crying in fear and informing others of this incident. This immediately sparked fury and dismay in the village knowing the nature of this man they were terribly frightened.

They were presented with an option in the end of either facing him or sacrificing one person. The community decided that there is nothing they can do about it and he was going to do as he planned. In the middle of the night, he came in the house as promised but not from the front gate but from the window. Before he proceeded to enter the house he came across an ayah of the Quran being recited by the neighbor doing Tahajud:

“Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe to submit to Allah`s reminder and to the truth which is revealed, that they become not as those who received the scripture of old but the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened, and many of them are evil-livers.” (57:16)

Try to imagine the situation, Ibn Ayan was planning to commit such an act and stumbled across this one ayah (without planning or willing it to happen). Of course the Quran has possessed a rather rhetorical question in which he instinctively, perhaps out of realization of guilt or acceptance of this truth that he replied ‘Yes – silly me’. Instead of jumping into the house (and committing the pre-planned bad act) he decided to jump out.

He shed some light on this incident further on in his life saying that this single ayah changed his life completely. Remember he was known as a leader of a gang in the community and the history books testify he managed to master the peak of Islamic Philosophy.

Imagine the benefit we can attain from this living miracle the Holy Quran Al-Karim if we are switched on. See Ibn Ayan was physically awake but spiritually and religiously he was still asleep. Perhaps this ayah was the fuel he needed to wake-up. Why can’t the same be applied to us too?

1.5.2 Be Kind To Others – Especially To Your Parents

If we are true to this principle the gates of success will be opened to us so that we work towards a pleasant life in this world for the Hereafter. The following example was taken from Allama Tabatabai, he stated that:

“One of the secret keys to my success was when I was in Qom. I saw some people with a bird, putting it in a cage and were playing with it. I despite being in a poor financial condition at the time offered the best price I could to the people playing with the bird. They agreed, and I purchased the bird. I let it go afterwards. I felt as though from that moment onwards Allah (SWT) freed me from the chains of attachment to this materialistic centered world.”

There is another interesting example given to us in the form of Sayyid Rashid he stated that:

“As I was coming back home one day, hungry and poor, I had with me a loaf of bread which I bought for myself – I spotted a dog with her puppies. The female dog was trying to breast feed the puppies and I noticed that it apparently had no milk. There was a river nearby so I decided to take the bread that was with me and wet it in the waters of the river. I gave it to the female dog to feed on and provide for her puppies. The following day I had come to learn that one of my family members had passed away. Apparently. they had no heir and I was the only one left and become the recipient of all the inheritance.”

Sayyid Rashid did not just take the money and run, or spend it as we see happening sometimes today. Instead he utilized the money and the opportunity to build a school which is now still functioning in Iran.

Consider the above two examples, and many more than can be drawn in history. Imagine the reward that was given to the act of kindness to a bird or dog in this world let along the Hereafter and compare this with the pleasure and reward of being kind and helping one’s own parents.

1.5.3 Take Advantage Of The Opportunity A Fellow Traveler Brings.

This is perhaps best encapsulated in the statement:

‘tell me who your fellow travelers are, and I’ll tell you who you will become’

This means that a good friend can help you to ensure that once you have woken up that you remain alert. Similarly, a friend or fellow traveler being normal part of the circle of influence in one’s life may also take them deeper asleep in this world.

The choice rests with you – choose your fellow travelers wisely.

1.5.4 Making Du’a

This is another sign of whether you are awake or not. How often do you offer supplication in your prayers or in daily transactions in life? How often do you really rely on Allah (SWT) to provide for your needs? Do you even realize that a supplication is a contract and means of communication between you and the Al-Mighty Allah (SWT)?

1.5.5 Are You In That Magnetic Field Of Vigilance And Awakeness

Many people are scared to get closer to Allah (SWT). They tend to not want to approach a gathering or lecture or masjid to pray. Why is It that they display these tendencies?

There have been many examples of people falling into Islam not by calculation and intent but out of chance. Well at least it appears out of chance to us however there is always a deeper wisdom behind the curtains of this world and its actions. There was one person who was brought to the center with one of his friends out of chance. He later on said that, the visitation he made changed his life completely. Perhaps it was his heart yearning towards a condition better than what its immediate owner placed on it, and this bursting energy opened up the gate for him just like being mesmerized in a magnetic field of spirituality.

The present day Shia can access this magnetic field through our present Imam Mahdi (‘a). Consider the following historical event as a reminder of how our Imams (‘a) invite us towards this magnetic field:

‘I left Mecca, and migrated to Kufa after fulfilling my Hajj obligations and rituals. Imam Husayn (‘a) was also present in the migration towards Kufa. Although I had recognized him as my present Imam, I chose to ignore him in every station along the journey so as I could not come in contact with him. I tried my best to avoid him, lest he invites me to him. One day, we had both camped out simultaneously and a messenger came to me with a message that no other than Imam Husayn (‘a) had invited me to visit him. I was eating during lunch time with my family at the time but I went to see the Imam anyway. Naturally I was stunned that after much effort to try to avoid him he is now calling me and inviting me to see him. My wife told me to be shameful of myself for not initially responding. So I responded to the messenger with an affirmative.’

History has not been able to record much of the conversation that took place. However, all that has been reported after the visitation was that the man whom was trying to avoid the Imam changed completely. He invited his wife for a divorce so that he can join the camp of Imam Husayn (‘a). She declined but reassured him of her loyalty towards him by promising to join him wherever he may go.

All this can be summarized in the statement which reads:

‘Out of sight out of mind’

The following is a narration from our present Imam Mahdi (‘a), inviting us to understand what happened on the events within and surrounding Ashoora. If not for knowledge it definitely is a call for us to remember and maintain our vigilance in our patient wait for his reappearance:

Imagine for example when a relative of a person whom died is deeper than an independent person reading a majlis for the dead person. Because our Imam (‘a) is reading from the heart and it goes into and finds rest in our hearts. It is more effective as a means of communicating the nature and elements of what truly happened in Karbala

You can’t but help to ponder that he was in the land of Karbala and was a witness to everything that has happened. The sweetness of the details as expressed in Arabic cannot be conveyed in English.

One of the best narrations, once Imam (‘a) is talking he starts by talking about the most innocent martyr of Karbala, the infant child.

He opens by talking about the moment that Imam Husayn is coming back to the camp, its only Imam Husayn by himself and only a few minutes before he departs. The mother Rubab of the child she is freaking out and asking his husband if he can get some water for the baby as he is thirsty. At this point Abu Fadlil Abbas has passed away and its only Imam Husayn (‘a) left and soon he will join the other martyrs in Jannah.

Imam Husayn (‘a) tells Rubab that there is no chance any more to go to the river Euphrates as it is blocked by the enemy army. So what he proposes is to take the baby and show the enemies that all he wants is water for the baby for his survival. Imagine the amount of cruelty these people (enemies) poses.

As the Imam (‘a) raises the baby, Imam Mahdi (‘a) Abdul Allah is the name of the little baby that was with Imam Husayn (‘a), he raised this few months old baby, and said ‘don’t you see his dry lips’ - since two days have passed there was no water in the tents. And the mother had no milk to supply to the baby. Imam Husayn (‘a) states this is between me and you, spare this innocent child by nourishing him with some water – he is innocent and has nothing to do with this battle.

The baby had nearly fainted – he raised his head and showed it to the people. Imam Mahdi (‘a) narrates that as soon as he did this a dispute arose in the enemy camps of Omar Ibn Sa’ad. On one hand people wanted to help this poor infant, but on the other some people didn’t want to help the infant or Imam Husayn (‘a) with this request

Omar Ibn Sa’ad to finish the argument told Asadi, why don’t you satisfy the baby of Husayn(‘a), don’t you see the neck of the baby, he said: I shot. All we know is the baby was nearly fainting, all of the sudden the peak of the arrow fell on the neck of the baby. And the eyes of the baby opened and looked at the father Husayn (‘a).

Have you seen when they are slaughtering a chicken or a bird and their wings are flapping? The baby was moving and shaking so hard like this slaughtered chicken.

Imam Husayn (‘a) collects some of the blood from the baby and throws it up to the sky. This is a very painful scene for a father, Imam Husayn (‘a) returned to the tent – but how could he return the dead baby to the mother. His assigned duty was to bring nourishment to the thirsty baby. The mother was not expecting anything other than this when Imam Husayn (‘a) returned. How could he return in this state?. He just digged a hole behind the tent and buried the baby himself. The sister of Abdul Allah saw the scene, and saw Imam Husayn (‘a) digging the hole. Allah (SWT) knows how much she was attached to her infant brother.

She said, I haven’t said farewell to him yet.

Imam Mahdi (‘a) continues the ziyarat: “when the enemies saw how strong your heart was, they tried their very best to conspire against you, and killed you in any many they could. Stopped the flow of water to you, and struck you with their arrows, I can see how patient the angels had been in seeing how patient you were, the enemies surrounded you, they wounded you with a plethora of injuries to prevented you from reaching the water of Euphrates, no one stayed with you anymore everyone was martyred, you were patient, you were defending your children and family, grandfather I can see that you looked down at the crowd you are thirsty and with hundreds of martyrs bodies, grandfather I can see that they are trampling on your father, they are shooting sharp arrows in your body.”

The Imam does not have any more energy to go to the family any more. Your horse Zilzala – rushes back to the tent to bring the bad news to the remaining family. Even the horse was distressed and upset, they were all crying out Ya Fatimatah, we have no hope any more, they were all inside the tents and ran out to see the martyred Imam (‘a) where the horse was pointed them.

Imagine how Imam Mahdi (‘a) was narrating this, what state he was in – how broken his heart must have been.

They placed our family in iron chains, the heat was striking their faces, and they were made slaves Now I can see your mother paying you a visit and all the angels coming down paying you a visit. You father and the mo’mineen have arrived. They have made majlis for you in the highest places in paradise. The angels are striking their faces for what has happened to you.

1.5.6 Sad Stories In Our Lives

So called calamities and difficulties in our lives. These are called Al-Bala in arabic. These are surprisingly hidden mercies which blossom and nourish our lives and our strength once we discover the moral behind the story so to speak.

Sad news shocks the self, the momentary paralyzation of the self soon gives way to building the strength one needs to fight one. On the other hand, happy news for us makes us more asleep. This is because we by nature like to hear good news it satisfies the senses and develops notions of contentment and comfort. However, we fail to realize that he are not created to be comfortable in this world so happy news tends to put us into hibernation. Whereas bad news as mentioned above gives us a shock and wakes us up. It is a divine and hidden message for us to wake up and review ourselves.

Consider the following example, when someone is going asleep on the road there are some road humps in the middle of the road that when the car travels over them they make a noise to wake us up – or rather prevent us from going back to sleep.

1.5.7 You Think You Are Already Awake

If you think that you are already awake then this is a sign that you are in fact still deep asleep. In has been narrated that Imam Ali (‘a) in Nahjul Balagha states that:

“A believer is always suspecting themselves and gives the benefit of the doubt to others.”

This is despite our burning desire to do the opposite. A traveler that is on a journey is meant to be pessimistic about himself. This is so that they can improve and build the self.

1.5.8 How Much Do You Appreciate And Pay Gratitude To The Blessings Of Allah (Swt)?

One of the first things Prophet Moses (‘a) taught his people was this:

“O people, remember the blessings of Allah on you.”

Can you count the blessings of Allah (SWT) with you – educate children that way – can you count the blessings ?, Allah (SWT) has poured the blessings unto you, things that you see and are hidden to you and your eyes and mind are full of blessings, they are so numerous, spend time to ponder over this, when you compare yourself to people that lack this blessing makes you appreciate the blessings that have been poured to you.

If you are thankful then Allah (SWT) will give you more. According to the Quran, if you are thankless you will attract the wrath of Allah (SWT)

Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) was sitting in Mena (during Hajj), having some grapes and a beggar comes and said help me. He offered the grapes to the beggar.

The best thing you can do is give from what is in your hands to the poor. The beggar is said no, I want some money. Imam said, khayr, sorry I don’t have some. Another beggar came and said please help me, he gave him a bunch of flowers, and said thank you, and he gave him more and he replied (beggar) with thank you, Imam asked one of his companions do you have any money with you. He said yes I have 20 dirhams, the Imam (‘a) asked to get this money from him and he will pay the companion back later. He gave it to the beggar, and the beggar said Alhamdolilahi Rab Al-Alamin, historians have stated that the Imam (‘a) got up and gave the beggar his shirt, and the moment that the guy received the short – oh such a nice shirt (wasn’t grateful to God any more). It wasn’t my money, my shirt, the moment he lost his Tawheed he stopped getting from Allah (SWT)’s gifts and blessings.

One common mistake we have for thanks, what is our understanding of gratitude. Sometimes what he think of gratitude is to give thanks through a tasbih. Or ‘thank you very much for giving me things’ and that’s it. That’s not the meaning of gratitude – this is the sigha’ of gratitude (the news for the gratitude) the actual gratitude is different to this. Like a marriage with sigha’. Quran Allah is oft forgiving, Shakur (thankful)

To whom is he thankful – Shakur, to himself to us?

Shakur means appreciation in English. This Allah (SWT) values what you are giving to him. Allah (SWT) differentiates between good and bad deeds. He treats people enjoyed in good and bad differently. No one will appreciate this in the best possible way then Allah (SWT).

“Allah (SWT) does not dismiss the reward of the righteous.” (quran)

This is because he is Shakur. We cannot be Shakir because we cannot do it in its absolute form. I need to appreciate for example the eyes that has been given to me, and do as I have been instructed in terms of using this blessing properly. That is how we can do Shakur otherwise we are actually committing Kufur not Shakour. No matter how many times I’m saying Shakur for Allah and say for example watching a sinful act. In fact,, this contradiction amounts to Kufur.

This is the first sign to tell whether you are awake or asleep because the person whom thinks they are giving gratitude to Allah (SWT) whilst not doing Shakour properly is in fact in deep sleep.

The ability of talking and verbal communication, compare this blessing to animals. Look at the difference – it is amazing mashallah. Think and ponder over this blessing. It is free – and I took it for granted. If I used my tongue properly then it’s all good and I am doing Shakour no matter how many times I read the sigha’h.

Identify as many blessings we have been given, and be grateful by appreciating the blessings by using it properly not abusing and misusing our granted blessings. Otherwise we are as good as sleeping.

Need then to acknowledge that we cannot be Shakur. He rewards and punishes accordingly. We cannot be Shakur because we don’t know the full extent of everything. A good blessing is that we are breathing is the source of life. We don’t appreciate it – even if we want to say thank you we are in debt to more than one blessing from Allah (SWT). For inhale you need one thank and then exhale we need another thank you just for saying one thank you verbal.

Imam Sajjad (‘a):

“I give up, I surrender, I cannot even meet the requirements of appreciating the blessings of breathing.”

One of the students in the class, asked when are we going to finish this book it is so thick. The reply was – don’t look at how much you have left look at how much you have learnt. They don’t ask you whether you have finished the book but they asked how much you have learned.

Prescription:

Especially for the young generation, it is excellent - Be in Wudhu as much as possible

Remember Dhhikr Yunusiah (Allama Tabatabai emphasized this dhikr a lot)

The very best ayah of the Quran, memorise it:

It has been narrated that the Prophet (S) prescribed the following to Imam Ali (‘a) (remember how important this must be that it was prescribed to Imam Ali (‘a):

The best of Surahs in the Quran is Surah of the Cow, and the best of Ayat in the best Surah is Ayat Al-Kursi, this ayah has 50 words, each word has 50 benefits. Imam Ali (‘a) used to read Ayah Al-Kursi every night before we sleeps. Gaining 2,500 benefits by reading Ayat Al-Kursi. Someone asked the Prophet(S) what is the best ayah: he replied that the best ayah is Ayat Al- Kursi. Allamah said this ayah from the time of the prophet onwards has been always known as Ayat Al-Kursi. Quote Shia source – one of the narrators narrating from Imam Ali (‘a) that: “I don’t know anyone who has got the intellect that he sleeps without reading Ayat Al-Kursi.” If you knew what Ayat Al-Kursi is, then you wouldn’t leave it.

Prophet (S): “Ayat Al-Kursi is given to me from the treasury under the thorn of Allah (SWT).” Imam Ali (‘a) said since I heard this hadith from the prophet there was no single night that I went to bed unless I read Ayat Al-Kursi.

“Allah is He besides Whom there is no god, the Everliving, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist; slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot comprehend anything out of His knowledge except what He pleases, His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both tires Him not, and He is the Most High, the Great.” (2:255)

Every time you are about to leave home or about to embark on a journey read the following Surahs: Surah Al-Ahad, Surah An-Nas, Surah Al-Falaq, and Surah Al-Kafiron. Whenever you read these Surahs, Allah (SWT) will appoint angels to protect you.

However, whenever you read Ayat Al-Kursi, it has been narrated in this hadith that Allah (SWT) tells his angels to go away because He will be protecting the person whom is reciting this ayah. Imagine waking up in our later years, the amount of rushing around trying to collect the provisions. It’s great that the youth are able to make the effort in learning Irfan.

1.6 Prescription: Offer Salam To Imam Husayn (‘A)

One prescription for us is to read the ziyarat of Imam Husayn after the ending of each salah. This offering of salam that we give in Ziyarat Imam Husayn (‘a) is mustahab, but the reply of which has been made wajib by Allah (SWT), so think of whom you are offering your salam to. The reply will come but can you hear it? Is it possible that you greet him and they don’t reply the salam? Imagine what you can gain if you can become the recipient of the reply salam of Imam Husayn (‘a). From our burial until day of resurrection we will inshallah get the reply of the salam from Imam Husayn (‘a). So that we can sleep in peace. Salam is peace, how can I attract peace in my life?