Difficulties in Life are Trials in Islam

Alhamdulillah Rabb Al-'Alameen. Wa as-salat wa as-salam 'alaa Sayyidina habibi qulubina wa tabibi nufusina abi il-Qasimi Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'aali Muhammad]. Wa 'ala Ahli Baytihi at-tayyibin, at-tahireen al-ma'sumin. Amma ba'ad, salamun 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

I am given to understand that we have about 30 to 40 guests who have come from Birmingham to join us in tonight's program, so on your behalf and on my behalf, I welcome them. And we hope that this is going to be reciprocal, in a sense that one day we will all go and visit them. But this is the way how we can come closer to each other, regardless of our different places of residence.

Now, one of the most baffling and puzzling points that we encounter in human life is what we call musibah, or what we call bala'. Now, normally, when we translate bala', we always mean adversity and calamity, something unpleasant in our life. Since this is a gathering of many young boys and young girls will be listening, I can only assure them that the life that they experience today is not going to be the life they will experience tomorrow.

That from elderly people, only this much can be said, that while we pray that they have smooth lives, life itself is a lesson, and many ambitions and aspirations always remain unfulfilled. We think that we are going to live this way and that way. Ideally, we plan our lives and we envisage so many things, but life itself offers a variety of experiences. And therefore, as a young man grows, he finds that life is not what he had dreamt of, that all the aspirations and ambitions cannot be fulfilled.

And sometimes, in spite of all the planning, meticulous working, designing, we find that it is simply beyond control. One of the duties of the parents is to tell the children to get prepared for the eventualities in life. It is one of our duties to tell our children that it is not going to be exactly what you desire, it is going to be quite different.

In his wasiyat, Imam Ali alayhi-s-salaam, has written [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'aali Muhammad] to Imam Hasan and he has mentioned in his opening lines 'Oh he who expects things to be according to his wishes, but will find that it is not according to the wishes.' It will always be against your desires, against your wishes, against your ambitions and aspirations. It is for this reason that we find that suddenly a young man or a woman who has just entered life, Ghaalib calls them 'Ay taaza waaridaane bisaate hawaa-e-dil'-'ay who has just arrived on this new platform, platform of desires', he has just arrived, a young man. And since we have passed, the elderly have passed that age and the young people are passing and the children will pass through that age, where with the vigour that one has because of the young age is he sometimes suddenly becomes a rebel, a rebel against anything that is established.

It may be one religion, but as life advances, maturity sets in. And with the hindsight, there is a realization that whatever one thought was wrong, life has got lots of lessons. But in Islam, bala' is not adversity, bala' is a trial. Qur'an al-Majid says in Surah Al-Fajr "Fa amma al-insanu idha ma ab-talaahu Rabbuhu [fa akramahu] fa na'amah" (89:15). A human being, when Allah tries him and blesses him with ni'mah. Now that means even to be blessed with wealth, with health, with all the bounties itself is also a bala' but that bala' is in the meaning of trial, not in the meaning of musibah.""Fa amma al-insanu idha ma-b-talahu Rabbuhu [fa akramahu] fa na'amah, fa yaqulu Rabbi akraman" (89:15).

Then in answer to that, he says 'Allah has been very kind to me and He has honoured me.' "Wa amma idha mabtalaahu fa qadara 'alayhi rizqah." (89:16) Again when He tries him, wa qadara. That means now He supplies him with measure, not abundant, not plenty, but by measure. That means now there is some reduction. "Fa yaqulu Rabbi ahaanan." (89:16) Then he says 'God has insulted me. God has been unkind to me.' Qadara. In answer to that, Allah says 'Kalla, I have never been unkind to you'. 'Bal la tukrimuna al-yatim, wa la tuhadh-dhuna 'ala ta'aam al-miskeen, wa ta'quluna al-turaatha aklan lamma, wa tuhibbuna al-maala hubban jamma.'(89:17-20)

No, Allah says Kalla! No! This is the result of the fact that you have never honoured those who are orphans. And those of you who have not even urged each other to feed the poor. 'Tahadh-dhuna' means to actually urge each other, to encourage and prompt each other to let us go and feed the poor. And you have pounded upon the inheritance of the orphans and the widows, heedless, eating everything that comes by. "Wa tuhibbuna al-maala hubban jammaa." (89:20) And your love for wealth has become so ardent that you have forgotten what Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is telling.

Now, because these young minds have got to be prepared for this, I say that there will come a time in our lives when you will say that Allah has been unkind, where you will say that Allah has been unkind for any, any adversity that befalls. What one has got to realize that the musibah or bala' that falls upon me is not always Allah's doing, 90 percent of it is my own. But human being does not want to accept the responsibility!

Allah, in Qur'an says "[Bali-il-insaanu].. 'alaa nafsihi basirah, wa law alqa'a ma'aadhira." (75:14-15) Man knows about himself better than anybody else, but he prefers excuses. Excuses. Those excuses are lame. Example. You see, I have got a long way to go to, maybe this will end in two or three lectures to show you the effect of this sort of thinking in our lives and the history of Muslims.

What happened was, for anything that befell me. Say I have a shop it is not running, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has been unkind. But I forget, that am I responsible for this slow running of the shop or not? Perhaps it is in the wrong place? Perhaps I have been unkind to my customers? Perhaps the type of goods that is required in the shop is not there? Not well stocked. No replenishments. Perhaps I am not looking after the customers needs? There are several points which are attendant to a successful business. I tend to forget everything and say Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala did not will it.

So, my son does not pass his exam. Did I go and see why? Perhaps he is not working, he is attending, he is not attending the classroom. Perhaps he is lost, perhaps the subject is not of his choice. The tragedy is, my friends, that I do not even know in which class my son is studying. I do not know, and then I go and say, I do not know, my son is. Now Mullah Sahib, give me some taawiz for him that taawiz cannot help, the taawiz is in you.

Ali Ibn Abu Talib alayhi-s-salaam says [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'aali Muhammad]: 'Ataz'amu annaka jirmun saghir wa fikan tawa al-'aalamul akbar.' Something which keeps man thinking forever. 'Ataz'amu annaka jirmun saghir.- You think, Oh man, that you are but a small being, an iota.' 'Wa fika n-tawa-l-'aalamul akbaru'-' And within you there is a great universe', within you. 'Dawaa'uka fika walaa tubsiru wa daa'uka minka walaa tash'uru'- 'Your medicine is within you but you do not know, your illness comes from you, but you do not understand.' It is you. So everything from him.

The matrimony is God forbid, unhappy. Well, try to first understand, is the mistake from me as a husband or is it from the wife? Then sit together and talk. No, the moment it is not right, it is Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Illness, is it because of my own carelessness and heedlessness that I have fallen sick repeatedly? No, it is all from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala or is it from me? So you will find that in most of the cases it is from us and it is not only individual, but also from the community and sometimes from the nation.

"Dharab Allahu mathalan qaryatan, kanat aaminatan mutma'inna yatihaa rizquhaa raghadan min kulli makaan."(16:112)-"Allah gives a parable, an example, Surat un-Nahl, of a town or a village, or even a country where people lived in peace. And the rozi, rizq and providence came from all sides. Y'a'tihaa rizquhaa raghadan,'-'in plenty'. 'Min kulli makaan,'-'from all sides.'

"Fa adhaaqahu-Llahu libaas al-ju'i wa al-khawf, bima kaanu yasna'un"(16:112)-'Allah gives them a test of poverty and insecurity because of their own deeds.' It is because of their own corrupt deeds. Suddenly rizq stops, barakah stops. Suddenly we find that there is insecurity where there was security. We say it is Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. We forget as to what happened while we lived in peace and security, we forgot everything. We forgot Allah, we forgot Shari'ah, and then now when we have the problems we say it is from Allah.

So 90 percent of things are our own doing. So youngsters, as you advance in life, Inshaa Allah Ta'ala, I pray that your lives InshaAllah, are always happy and prosperous because you belong to us. But anything that you do is going to react and respond and that is the reason why do not come to a stage where you blame everything to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, it is because of us.

And it is for this reason, my friends, that a man, when he comes before something which is unpleasant, there are two attitudes. One is to think because a man starts thinking 'all this is useless'. Every one of us comes to a stage in life trying to find out what is it all about. If not today, tomorrow.

The young people will come about this experience sometimes. We will just pause and think, what is it all about? Is it a dream? Why all this? Why have I come here? You see, and that pause makes a man think although it is sometimes a fleeting moment, just once in a while, but a man holds back and thinks. Then there are two reactions.

One is to renounce everything and say 'I do not want this world at all.' And this is where a man becomes, what you say, Saadhu [Hindu ascetic sage] or Zaahid [Muslim ascetic]. Disillusioned man thinks that this world is useless, all the friends are useless, the family is also useless. Money and all that money comes with, useless. Honour, respect, influence, everything is useless and in a dream. And therefore we suddenly find a man, well-stationed in life, changing.

In the time of Imam Ali, salaawatu-Llaahi wa as-salaamu 'alayhi [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'aali Muhammad], a man comes and says 'Ya Ali, my brother, after having listened to your majlises and your maw'idha[admonition] and your khutbah [sermon] has changed.' [Imam Ali:] 'What has he done?' [Man:] 'He has renounced his wife and his children, his business and all the comforts of life and he is in the jungle there, sitting all day on musallah, praying'. Imam 'alayhi-s-salaam, said 'shaytaan has misled him, take me to him.'

And when they met there, Imam said, 'What have you done? What about your family?' He said' Mawlaa, It is all a dream, they are all selfish people. If I die, my wife will cry, not because I have died, but because she is widowed- selfish. If I die, my son will cry, not because I have died, but because he is orphaned- selfish.' Argument, strong argument. 'My friends, when I die, they have no mercy for me, they feel that they are bereaved of a friend, they have lost a good friend.'

So when you, Do not you hear people, 'Haway maaru su thaase?'[Gujrati-'What will happen to me now?'] You see? Have you heard or not heard? On a dead mayyit, somebody says 'Now what will happen to me?' You have to ask what would happen for the mayyit. Man thinks of what will happen to him or her. So he said 'Ya Amir ul-Mu'minin, everything. The whole world is selfish,..' [inaudible 00:17:52- corrupted file]...wealth came and went, made no difference, and it gave me no happiness, but I find peace here. Imam 'alayhi-s-salaam said, 'My friend, are you a better mu'min than Rasul Allah, salla-Llaahu 'alayhi wa alihi wa sallam? [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. He said 'Ya Ali, that is not even thinkable, it was because of Rasul Allah that I have become Muslim.'

[Imam Ali responds] 'You said that Rasul Allah married, you have one wife, he had nine.' You can imagine the problems. And of course, history will tell you. 'Then he ruled, he had friends, he had enemies also, he ruled, he maintained justice among people. He had to fight in defense of Islam. And he had a laborious life, he led a life of hunger, but he maintained himself throughout. And he also, in earlier life, did business. Now, what do you say about you?' He said 'Ya Ali I never thought on those lines, but I want to ask you one question. Why are you wearing these clothes? Simple one, why do not you wear good clothes?'

Imam 'alayhi as-salaam said that is because of Imamah. I cannot wear good clothes as long as I know that everyone in the country is wearing enough. That is because Imamah has been given to me. Are you an Imam? You are not an Imam, therefore go back.

Well, this is one. Some people get this temporarily, you will get it also my young friends. There is no doubt about it, some people get this is called in Gujarati, 'sumshaan wayraa gyah'. Very simple, sumshaan means qabrastaan [cemetery/graveyard], sumshaanu. 'Wayraa gyah'- means the feeling of detachment. When I go to the qabrastaan, I become a very good mu'min. Ya Allah, this is the ultimate, Ya Alla tawbah, tawbah. When Mulla reads talqin, heartbeats increase.

'Hal anta 'alla-l-'ahada-l-ladhi faaraqtana' Ya Allah. And when I see the lahad, well, that is where I am going to be. I do not know, maybe tomorrow. And the jamaat is so cruel that it digs one grave ready, although it is a reminder. But when I see that cruel, Allahu Akbar, this could be mine tomorrow, one never knows. One never knows, but there is one with wide open, gaping lahad inside you see, it could be me.

Well, while in qabrastaan one is temporarily saadhu [Hindu ascetic man], out, everything goes, this is called 'sumshaan wayraa gyah' means the piety within these four walls of qabrastaan, it is temporary and short lived.

Ghazaali gives a very good example. Ghazaali writes in 'Ihya Ulumi-d-din' he says if there is a pen of sheep and goat, suddenly a lion jumps to pounce upon one of the animals. What will happen? Suppose it bounces and catches one sheep or cow and jumps up and goes away. The rest of the sheep and goat will not eat for five minutes, they are all shocked. They look here, look there one of them has been taken away they are all shocked. In the state of shock none of them will eat, but that is only for three minutes, four minutes, fifth minute, they are all grazing and they forget.

Our forgetfulness increases even the sheep and goats. Because in qabrastaan, while we are burying our friend, our relative, 'sona nu bhaaw su che' -[Gujrati-what is the price of Gold], we are asking gold prices. We are asking what is the rate of dollar against pound that shows that there is an extreme ghaflah or heedlessness, as if this qabr was meant for that man who has gone you will never go or it means ignorance. Whatever it be, may Allah save us.

Fine. Those to whom it comes temporarily, it goes away. To some people it comes and it stays. Suddenly you find that man not talking to his friends, not talking to even his family, not eating properly, not even laughing, he has become a saadhu. And if time allows him, he will go and wear bhagwaa [saffron cloth] and run away, either to ashram in Bombay or wherever it is.

If you go to Bombay or Pondicherry, where there is this ashram, you will find multimillionaire people once upon a time who have changed their clothes and worn those bhaghwaa that is saffron cloth and they sit there whole day doing nothing. If you ask them they say we have been disillusioned, life is a dream and a mockery, we have come here to find peace.

The other reaction is that one struggles and keeps faith in Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Allah in Qur'an says "Alaysa Allaahu bi kaafin 'abdah?" (39:36) Is Allah not enough and sufficient for His own servants?

Well, I have had problems, with the problems, I struggle ahead and "Tawakkaltu 'alal Hayyi al-ladhi la yamut." (25:58). Someday "Man yattaqi Allaaha yaj'al lahu makhrajah" (65:2)- Allah says, "Whoever fears Him, Allah gives him an opening from all sorts of problems." It takes time, but the opening is there. Sometimes Allah gives me tests and trials and tribulations because He loves me and He wants to test me.

In Iraq, the days when I was confined there in 1980 to 83, one mu'min who had been several times to Ziyarah, 16th time it was. He was also brought there with me, I was one week earlier, he came a week later. He was weeping all the time, crying because it was the same thing as in my case.

On the 15th day in the cell, he started. He said 'Do you know one thing Asgharali, all this hadith of Imam al-Husayn coming to your rescue as a zawaar is bogus, bogus, and Hazrat al-Abbas also is bogus.' Astaghfirullah. 'There is nothing like helping, if there would have been anything like that, I could not have landed in jail and you could not have been here also. Both of us came for Ziyarah, Where is the protection? So all these hadith, as far as Hazrat Abul Fadhl Abbas looks after us, Imam al-Husayn looks after us and we are under the refuge of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, He looks after us from the day we go to, to the day we come, all this is concocted story. Look where we are now.'

Now, it is said that if there is half glass of water, you can either say it is half full or half empty, it is the way you look at it. If you say it is half full, you are an optimist, if you say half empty, you are a pessimist. Sometimes one bread can fill your stomach and you say Alhamdulillah Rabb Al-Alameen, sometimes a plate of biryani cannot.

Now, there we were there, of course, we were under torture, but at the same time, there was room for saying Allah thank you very much, we are at least alive. But he was so very much disillusioned that he started this from morning till Zuhr time.

When the time of Zuhr came, he started his namaaz, prayers. After that, he had a habit of reading Ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn alayhi as-salaam by heart, including Idhn ad-Dukhul [permission to enter], including Widaa' [farwell], because he had been there for 16th time.

Suddenly he started 'As salaamu 'alayka Ya Aba Abdillah,' and started weeping. When he finished, he came to me and he said, 'Do you know one thing?' He said 'I slept and I slept and I saw someone tell me: His name was Abbas. He said Abbas, Astaghfirullah, his name was Ali Husayn. "Ali Husayn, al-Husayn gave his life, gave his dear ones for Islam. If he wants to test your love for him on the 16th time, you are not prepared to even pass the test to say that for al-Husayn, I am prepared even to bear this". And I woke up. He who gave everything for Islam, for him, I am not prepared to even bear this much of tribulation and I suddenly said al-Abbas is useless and al-Husayn is useless.' Well he tests me. You love me, you are with me, well, you may not be in Ashura, at least you are in Karbala, come on, bear this much of the trials and adversity in the jail.'

There was one man who used to say always 'Ya laytani kuntu ma'akum fa'afuza ma'akum.' This is in Ziyarat Waaritha. 'Ya laytani kuntu ma'akum' means 'I wish I were in Karbala with you'. We say this on every Thursday. 'Ya laytani kuntu ma'akum,'- 'I wish I were with you in Karbala on Ashura day'. 'Fa'a fuza ma'akum'-'I would have been successful together with you.'

One night he slept and he saw Karbala and he saw Ashura Imam al-Husayn 'alayhi as-salaam standing there. All the shuhadaa have been martyred, Imam al-Husayn 'alayhi as-salaam is alone, he was behind Imam al-Husayn, in his heart praying that Imam should not look at him because, now there was no one else.

A man who says 'Ya laytani kuntu ma'akum'- 'I wish I were in Karbala.' Now he wished he was not there, but Imam 'alayhi-s-salaam, looked behind and said 'Sayyid, tafadh dhal.' He said 'Yabna Rasul Allah, I do not have a horse.' Mawlaa dismounted from his horse and said, here is the horse. 'But I don't have the sword.' Imam said, 'There is no question about that, the sword is here.' He gave him his sword. Tafadh -dhal, now is the time for success and martyrdom.

And he mounted the horse and he took the sword and as the horse strutted forward, he looked here and there, he found a gully. He was in his dream, of course, he found a gully and he just turned the horse into the gully and he woke up from the sleep. As he woke up he said "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji'un" (2:156) 'I did not sacrifice my life with him. I have stole his horse and sword also.'

So sometimes it is a test, test. Allah loves me. Imam 'alayhi as-salaam and the Prophet has said 'When a banda, an 'abd, a servant of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala raises his hand and says 'Ya Allah, I want a son' for example. And does not get a son and again, he says 'Ya Allah,' Shab al-Qadr again 'Ya Allah, a son' and again on good nights, on nice occasions, 'Ya AIlah, I want a son' and He does not give him.

The Prophet said, 'Whenever he raises his hand and says, Ya Allah I want a son, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala tells the mala'ika, 'Oh my angels remain my witness. I love his voice. I shall give him, but not now. I love this 'abd's voice. Let him say again and again in that humility, I love to hear the voice. He does not know I am not giving him, I know why I am not giving him. The time will come when I shall give him if I Will, but I love his voice'. That is the reason why we continue with our du'a, Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah.

He gives when He likes and when He gives there is no one to stop. You see, for shifaa, for everything. And he who feels in this world that people are jealous of him. Hasad is a very bad, Allahu Akbar. Hasad is something from which we must pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that we should not become victim of this envy and jealousy and being green about that.

Amir ul-Mu'minin 'alayhi as-salaam says ' Alhamdulillahi alladhi lam yaj'alni haasidan waja'alani mahsuda'-'I thank Allah that I am not haasid, people are haasid about me, people are jealous of me, I am not jealous of anyone Alhamdulillah. Thanks to Allah, Praise to Him.' Now a person who is Mahsud, that means people do hasad to him always feel that I am in bala' that the people are jealous of me. Actually there is nothing to fear about for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala sometimes in life brings you to that station when people are jealous of you.

You have got to put up with saying Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will help me and protect me. When we have a problem, when we have life which is full of difficulties, say 'Astaghfirullah Rabbi wa'a tubu ilayhi- 'I seek refuge from him and I repent for my sins'. That we do not want to do, we just want to complain.

From that attitude of renouncing everything came tasawwuf. Now the question of tasawwuf has been put before me thousands of times. What do you say about Sufism and Shi'ism? That Inshaa Allah next Friday, you can not hear anything today because Sufism and mysticism is a subject people like to listen about, but it does not come all of a sudden it comes with disappointment.

When Layla could not come to Majnun, Majnun became a Sufi, simple as that. When Shirin did not come to Farhaad, Farhaad became a Sufi. So that was, of course, as far as love was concerned but then people, when they are disappointed in love, disappointed in the ambitions, well, suddenly they get that path. That path has become popular, It is in England, it is in America, it is in Indonesia and Malaysia. Everywhere, there is what is called mysticism or in Islamic terms, Sufism.

We would like to know whether Islam and especially Shi'ah Madhab approves of Sufism or not, that Inshaa Allah, will come in two or three series, it can not come like that, you see. It takes time, you can not swallow it, if I start now, first because of the time. Secondly, because it is a difficult subject, It requires a sort of a preamble.

But I am just completing with one qawl of Ali Ibn Abu Talib 'alayhi-s-salaam and I do not think there could have been anything better than this. Mawla says 'Laysa al-zuhudu an laa tamlika shay'an.' Allahu Akbar. 'Zuhud and renouncing or rather becoming detached from this worldly dirt or the dream or awakening does not mean that you should not possess anything.'

That does not mean that you should not have business, you should not have money, you should not have children, you should not have clothes. You should not have, no. 'Laysa al-zuhudu an laa tamlika shay'an wa laakinna al-zuhud an laa yamlika ka shay'un'- 'Zuhud is that nothing should possess you, not that you should not possess anyone.' That means money comes to you, the money is your servant, you are the master. The moment money becomes your master and you are the slave, there is a change, you see. So 'Laysa al-zuhud an laa tamlika shay'an baliz zuhud an laa yamlika ka shay'. Inshaa Allah Ta'ala, may Allah grant us...[video/audio end abruptly]