Freeing The Butterfly Within 1/12 - 1st Muharram 1433/2011

This series of Lectures by Br. Khalil Jaffer titled "Freeing the Butterfly Within" focuses on recognizing the difference between the two natures of man; Tabi'ah, the animalistic yet necessary natural instinct, and Fitra, the superior nature which is innate and divinely inspired by Allah (swt). These series explain the characteristics of the Fitra and Tabi'ah of Man, how they complement and oppose each other, the pain and suffering of becoming a 'butterfly'; how to recognize the Tabi'ah-oriented (worm) individual from the Fitra-oriented (butterfly) individual; governments and societies based on each nature and how to raise Fitra-oriented children. In this first lecture, Br. Khalil introduces the concept of Tabi'ah and Fitra and uses the analogy of a caterpillar into a butterfly to explain these natures of Man.

A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim, Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, al-hamdulillah Rabb al-Alameen, bari' al-khalaa'eqi ajma'een. Wa salat wa salam ala asharafi al-anbiya' wal mursalin, sayyidina wa Nabeyyina wa habibi qulubina wa tabibi nufusina wa shafi'i zunubina Abal Qasim Muhammad. Allahumma sali 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad. Thummal salatu wa salam 'ala aale baytihil tayyibeen at-tahareen al-madhlumeen. Wa la'anatullahi al a'da'ihim ajma'een min yawmi 'adaawatihim ila yawm id-deen. Amma ba'du faqad qal Allahu tabaraka wa taa'lehah fi ketabih, wa huwa asdaqul qaa'eleen. (30:30) Fa aqim wajhaka lil-deeni haneefan, fitrat Allahi ilatee fatar al-nas 'alaiha. La-tabdeela li-khalqillah. Dhalikal deenul qayimmu wa-lakinna aktharal nasi la ya'lamuun. Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad.

Tonight is the first night of Muharram the year 1433 A.H. and Muslims all over the world mark the new Islamic Year. Unlike most cultures and traditions that celebrate their new year, the Muslims and in particular those who follow and love the Ahl al-Bayt, aleyhimul salaam, they begin this month with grief and with sadness and with mourning for the grandson of the Messenger of Allah Aba Abdillah, al-Husayn, aleyhi al-salam. Allah huma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad.

And it is undoubtedly that it is with his baraka, with his blessings, that we once again have this opportunity to come together and learn more of our faith. We are also grateful to Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, that He has blessed us with life and with health and with time that we have been able to find the time and the commitment to come here in these days of 'aza. Perhaps those who are no longer with us, and particularly those who were with us last year but are not with us this year, they would long the most to have been with us to hear the 'aza and the masaa'ib of Sayyid al-Shuhada, aleyhi alsalaam. So if I can request all of us to remember them Surat al-Fatiha.

Imam Husayn, aleyhi alsalaam's movement, as we well know, was primarily not a political one, nor was it simply an attempt at social reform for the people of that time. Rather, his movement was to awaken human consciousness. It was to save humanity, not by solving their physical problems, but by bringing them to a realization of their true potential so that they awaken to the purpose for which they were created. And it is for this reason that I have chosen a subject that is spiritual in nature.

I say this because I know that some of us may dislike this and say that such topics should be discussed in the month of Ramadan. In these days of Muharram, we should be discussing history. We should be discussing directly the Ahl al-Bayt aleyhim al-salam. But I do believe that we honour Imam Husayn, aleyhi al-salam when we reform ourselves. Societies reform, governments reform only when communities reform. Communities reform when families reform, and families reform when we as individuals evolve and mature emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.

So this is very, very important. A couple of years back, the 'alim who was to recite here in Muharram was delayed by a night. And some of you may recall I had the honor of reciting the first night of Muharram, I think it was three years ago. And in that majlis, I mentioned that there is a hadith from Ameer al-Mu'minin Ali ibn Abi Talib, salawaat Allah wa-salamahu 'aleyh, [ Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad] in which he said that if a person recites the Qur'an and despite that goes to the fire of hell, then the only reason for that is he made a mockery of the Qur'an. In other words, he read the Qur'an but did not practice its message. That can be the only explanation why one who recites the Qur'an would still end in the fire of hell. Borrowing that from Ameer al Mu'mineen, aleyhi al-salam, we could also say that if a person cries for Husayn and still goes to the fire of hell, then the only explanation is he made a mockery of the 'aza of Husayn. There can be no other explanation.

So how, then, do we begin to ensure that we do not make a mockery of his sacrifice? We begin by looking at the values he fought for. What was so important to him that it was worth sacrificing his Ali al-Akbar or his Qasim or his Abbas. Those must be the most precious values to us. If we find anything we do not practice that he fought for. If we find, for example, in the midst of battle, he did not forget his salat, but we do not pray salat, then that is something we need to go back and look at just as an example.

So the subjects that I have chosen and the title that we have given to these lectures is Freeing the Butterfly Within. Some of you may have already seen this on the poster, and I know this title is a little curious or interesting, but it will become clear, inshaAllah, shortly as to what this means. Tonight's lecture, or majlis is largely an introduction to the subject. And then inshaAllah, from tomorrow night, we will begin discussing it in a lot more detail. What we will seek to prove over these coming nights, inshaAllah, with help from Qur'an and Hadith, is that human beings have two distinct natures that are often confused and seen as one, and that recognizing these two natures in a human being as two distinct natures is crucial for anyone's spiritual growth and development. We cannot evolve spiritually unless we recognize these two natures.

The first nature is what we call tabee'ah. We come to this world, we all know that our stay in this world is temporary. We acknowledge this time and time again that we have come to this world for a trial. We have come to this world for a test. We have come here for a short while. This is not our final abode. We will die and go to our permanent homes, we know this. To survive that physical experience on this planet, so to speak, we have a physical body. This physical body is driven by an instinct, an animal like instinct, and it is this nature, this animal like nature that we call tabee'ah.

Now, I need to clarify here, because I know a number of us here are immigrants from East Africa and we speak the Swahili language. In Swahili we also use the word tabee'. Do not confuse the tabee'a with tabee'. When we used tabee' in Swahili we normally mean a habit, a good habit, a bad habit. We talk of tabee' zuri, tabee' ambya and so on. This is similar to the word ghareeb. In Urdu the word ghareeb has a very different meaning from what ghareeb means in Arabic. In Urdu or in Gujarati when you say ghareeb, you often mean a beggar or someone who is poor. A ghareeb comes to your door and asks for food or money. In Arabic ghareeb is one who is far away from his home, who is in a different land as a stranger. So when we refer to our eighth Imam as Ghareeb al-ghurabaa', or even when we refer to Imam Husayn, alayhi al-salam, as Imam al-ghareeb we are referring it in the Arabic sense of being in a land where he is a stranger and there is no one familiar.

Similarly, the word tabee'a in Arabic is not the same as what tabee' is in Swahili. In Arabic, a habit would be 'aada, which we again use in Urdu or in Gujarati as aadat. Tabee'a is simply nature. It would be translated as instinct or nature. But for the purpose of these lectures, we are defining it as animal instinct or nature that is similarly found in animals just as it is found in us. For example, animals spend all day foraging for food. We do the same. They might roam around in jungles and forests, hunting animals. We wear a suit and tie and sit in our cars and drive on the highway. But we are still foraging for food, especially when we get into the meeting rooms, in the boardrooms. So we see that in our eating habits, in our sleeping habits, in how we reproduce, in how we relieve ourselves, in our physical nature, in how we are constantly in search of pleasure or fleeing from pain or fighting for survival, we are no different from the other creatures and species on this planet. And this is the result of that nature that is called tabee'a.

In order to ensure that we do not forget our true identity, that we are not the physical self, Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala has then wired us with a far more superior nature that is more innate, that is more deeply ingrained in us, and that is called Fitra. Now Fitra as well, sometimes we translate it as instinct. But here when we speak of fitra, we will define it as a divinely inspired nature that is unique to human beings. And it is this fitra that is mentioned in the verse of Qur'an that I recited at the start of my lecture from Surah al-Rum, chapter 30 of the Qur'an, verse 30, Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala says:Fa aqim wajhaka lil-deeni haneefan. So set yourselves, set your heart, set your faces, set your direction upon the pure faith, upon this deeni haneefan, Fa aqim wajhaka lil-deeni haneefan. Fitrat Allahi ilatee fatar al-nas 'alaiha. That divine nature that Allah has set mankind on. Fatar an-nas alaiha. La-tabdeela li-khalqillah. You will not find any change or any alteration in how Allah has created this. Dhalikal deenul qayimmu, that is the upright religion. Wa-lakinna aktharal nasi la ya'lamuun. But most people do not know this. (30:30)

So there is an emphasis here that your understanding of religion as well, when we say Islam is the most natural religion, Islam does not oppose human nature. What we mean is, it does not oppose your fitra. We do not mean it does not oppose you tabee'a. And as we discussed the differences between these two, we will see how important it is to distinguish these two.

There is another verse of Qur'an that also hints at this, and this is from Surat Ta Ha, which is chapter 20 of the Qur'an, verse 50. When the Prophet Moses or Musa aleyhi al-salam and his brother Haroon, they come back to Egypt before the Pharaoh. And Fir'awn says to them, tell me this God that you speak of. Describe him to me, how is and who is this God? So one of the first things they say to him is Qaala rabbuna ladhi 'ata kulla shay'in khalqahu thumma hada. Our Lord is He who gave everything its creation and then guided it. (20:50)

Now, obviously, not everyone is guided in the world, and this - He created everything, gave everything its creation and then guided it, is not just reserved for human beings, it is everything. This is also a reference to the fitra. So in other words, our fitra is a compass within all of us that always points to Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. It is something you cannot change. You can hide it. You can deny it. You can attempt to skew it. You can justify it, but you cannot change it. It always points to Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. It is like having a massive ship in which there is a compass. The compass will point to a particular direction. The captain on the ship might decide to ignore the compass, might decide I am going to go in a different direction. He might move the whole ship. Everything will move in a different direction. But the compass will still point to one direction. It will refuse any other way. This is to ensure that you have no excuse on the day of judgment for going astray. This is fitrat-ullahi lati fatara al-nas alayha, that fitra within you.

Most of the problems in humanity is a result of confusing these two or ignoring the fitra and allowing tabee'a to take over our nature. If we can recognize the difference between these two and the importance of fitra over tabee'a, then the potential for change within us is so massive we can change in such a radical manner that it is no less radical than the transformation or the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Hence the subject freeing the butterfly within. In other words, we all come to this world as caterpillars. Our mission, if we so choose to accept it, is to evolve into that butterfly.

And we give this example because no creature changes so radically. If you look at all the other species, you will find that are creatures over a period of time they shed their outer skin, they grow new skin, human beings as well. They say every seven years, all the cells in your body have replaced themselves with new cells. But you do not visibly see the change so radically. You just see an aging process. But with the butterfly, you see a very radical change from something that looks like a worm to something that is beautiful and flies like a bird. And we will make this our analogy where we constantly, when we talk of going from tabee'a to fitra, we will see this as going from that wormlike or caterpillar like state to that butterfly state.

So we want to discuss over these coming nights, what are the characteristics of tabee'a versus fitra? In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? We will give many analogies for these two so that it becomes very clear. How do these two complement each other? How do these two oppose each other? What are the pains and suffering that we should expect in the process of evolving into this butterfly state? What are the signs and characteristics of a tabee'a oriented individual versus a fitra oriented individual? What difference does it make to human beings when you are under a government or a society that is tabee'a oriented or driven versus a society or a government that is fitra driven or oriented? And then inshaAllah, we will also talk about children and how to raise fitra oriented children. InshaAllah.

So to begin with tonight, let us just touch the surface, just the tip of the iceberg and see a little bit about the difference between tabee'a and fitra. If you can recite a salawat 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad. [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad]

If we start with this assumption and this supposition we make. Most of the challenges we face in life, whether it is temptation, a lot of young people will say, why is it so difficult to resist temptation. Or, for example, the lack of courage. The lack of courage to say the truth or do the right thing, whether it is the courage to resist the temptation of sin, or whether it is the courage to speak up against an oppressor. When we ask this question that if I was in Karbala, would I have been able to do what the companions of Sayyid al-Shuhada' did? Essentially the answer to this, the reason why we are not able to resist temptation, or have that courage that we want to have within us is because we do not distinguish between tabee'a and fitra and because we do not distinguish between these two we tend to be more tabee'a driven because that, as we shall see, is more instinctive. Or to put it differently, when you do not recognize fitra, then you identify with the body as your real self. Half the challenge is to dis-identify from the body and say I am not the body. When we discussed the end of negative suffering, we talked about the challenges of dis-identifying from the mind made self or the ego. And in the coming nights we shall tie this to dis-identifying from the body.

But for now, let us just talk about dis-identifying from the body. It is one thing to say that, yes, I know I am not the body and I know this body will die and I know I am meant to live forever and I know the body is a carrier. But to live a life with this awareness, with this dis-identification from the body is not easy. Right now, when I speak to you that you are not the body, you might have this realization in your mind while you are sitting here. That, yes, there is the me that is within this body that will separate at death. I am not this body, these limbs, these eyes, these hands and legs, this is not me. But tomorrow morning, when you are sitting in traffic, you forget that. You identify completely, when the temptation faces us, we no longer remember I am not the body. Why? Because we do not distinguish between tabee'a and fitra. To understand the importance of dis-identifying from this body or to help us dis-identify from the body, let us suppose for the purpose of these 12 nights, InshaAllah for the purpose of these lectures, I would like us to suppose and work on the assumption that we are aliens on this planet.

It is amazing that we are in search of aliens when, in fact, we are aliens. We do not belong here. If only we would search for ourselves instead of searching for aliens. Now, if we are aliens who have come from a different world and we have come to this planet only for a purpose, we are here to learn certain lessons. We have come here as a blank canvas or we have come here as a block and we are sculpting at this block and evolving our souls. We are developing something that will emerge at the time of death. Then, in order to survive in this harsh environment and in this planet where other animals roam as aliens, we would have to come into a body that can survive on this planet, into a body that can breathe the air in this planet, that can eat the food in this planet. And that is exactly what it is. Now that we have to come to this world we live in this body that is very humble, that is perfect for this environment. And it is for this reason that you see this dichotomy or this strange difference between how divine, how pure, how magnificent the human soul is when Allah speaks of it, versus the physical body and how humble it is, isn't it? Think of how we eat. What do we eat? We grow things from the ground, plants, fruits. We kill animals and we eat the carcass of dead animals. We wash the blood away and then we roast it on fire. And then with these digits and bones, we pick that flesh of dead animals and we have a hole in the face we call a mouth. We put that in and then it goes down a pipe and it gets... And this is our body. Why are we so weak, so humble, so base outwardly? Because we are aliens here.

So we take this assumption. Now, so an alien needs a body to carry it. And if we take that in mind, then we immediately dis-identify. Now we are thinking very differently, isn't it? Now we are thinking I am not from this planet, I am from somewhere else. And I will give you evidence for this from the Qur'an very shortly. Now, thanks to technology, animation, if this is still difficult for you to understand, perhaps, if I use the word Avatar, you will all understand what I am talking about. For some of us, the word Avatar might be new, because we have just seen a movie perhaps, and now we understand 'Oh, that is what he means. He means I am actually from another place and I had to come into this other body that looks like a monkey or looks very different just to survive, because I have a mission to complete here before I go back.

But let us talk about the word Avatar. Sometimes if you want to really understand something, break the word down. Look at its etymology. In modern terms, the word Avatar is normally a computer image or a computer model that represents and is manipulated and controlled by a human user. So you might, for example, go into this simulated world on the Internet, where you have your own avatar that represents you and you dress it the way you want it and it behaves the way you want it, and you control its actions in that make-believe world.

But the word avatar actually is an ancient word. It actually belongs to Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a very old language. It is even older than Arabic, and it is a language that is revered and upheld by the Hindus. In Sanskrit this word, avatar, comes from Avatara. Avatara, in Hinduism, literally means the descent of a god or a deity or a supreme being from a higher domain down to this world in human form or in animal form. Now, see the significance. The key operating word here is descent. Avatara is the descent of a supreme being coming down to this world. Can we find this idea of coming down to a lower base or form in this world from Islam? Yes.

In Surat al-Baqara, chapter two of the Qur'an, verse 36, Allah describes, after the Prophet Adam and Hawa aleyhim asalam, after they eat from the forbidden tree. They are now being sent to the world. Allah does not say to Adam and Hawa, go now to the world. Qulna hbitto ba'thakum le ba'thin 'adoo. We said to them, descend and go down where you will now be enemies to each other. Wallakum fil ardhi mustaqarrun wa mata'un ila heen. And on this Earth, now you shall have an abode for a little while and sustenance or a means and a provision for a short while.(2:36). Do you see how the verse is worded? There is that latter part to it. Wallakum fil ardhi mustaqarrun wa mata'un ila heen, that on this world you shall now have a temporary stay and provisions for a while, ila heen. That itself suggests that this is a temporary state. But what is interesting is that Allah says to them 'ihbitu' - go down, descend. And that suggests again, that Adam was from a higher world in his essence, as a prototype of us.

We belong in paradise. We belong in a higher realm. As part of our training now, in other words, we come to this world and now what we are attempting to do is journey back home. We are trying to return to that lost status that we had and even beyond that. And there is some wisdom in this, there are some lessons we are meant to learn in this journey as we try and return to our original state.

The problem, of course, is that after I have lived in this alien body, after I have lived in this avatar for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years, I completely identify with it. It is now very difficult for me to realize that I am not this physical being. And this is a temporary cage. This is a temporary garb I wear. This is an extra - I wear clothes on, an extra clothing or layer over my soul that will perish, that will fall apart. And then I return to my next level in my journey towards paradise. And this can be very liberating when we dis-identify from the body, because then a lot of our confidence as well does not come from what I look like.

We begin to realize when we look at our lives and how it has evolved since we have been 20, 30, 40, as we grow older, we begin to realize that Allah has given us just the perfect physical body to allow us to accomplish our purpose in this world. Whether I am tall or short or dark or fair or handsome, or I see myself as ugly or able bodied or disabled becomes irrelevant because I realize I am not the physical body. Perhaps for me, if I had not been handicapped or perhaps for me if I had been more good looking, or perhaps for me if I had been more intelligent or whatever, I may have had other challenges that would have hindered me from progressing to that level.

This may, of course, raise a question to say, well, if that is the case, then why did Allah not create some of the Prophets or some of the Imams, disabled or handicapped, if there is nothing wrong with that. But that is a separate discussion. The discussion there is that we come to this world for our own selves. They come to this world for others. Human beings by nature are already averse to change. As it is with their perfection they faced opposition. If they had come with disabilities, that would have been an added layer that would stop people from taking guidance from them. So it was for the guidance for us that Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, because of our ignorance and our tendency to judge others, that Allah created them in the perfection or that physical form that is perfected. Otherwise, that was not in any way a hindrance.

We shall see as well in these coming nights, that if our physical body or our avatar, so to speak, is driven by an animal instinct because that is the rules on this planet, if it is driven by tabee'a, then tabee'a has three characteristics. The first is it will always seek pleasure. The second is it will always flee pain. And the third is it will always fight for survival.

You will find this in animals and you will find this in yourself.

Instinctively you will want to save yourself first before you save others. This mode of survival or this mode of selfishness, selfishness is part of tabee'a. Whereas fitra we shall see is selfless. Tabee'a is selfish. But what we want to say here, and I am coming towards a conclusion, is how absurd does it now sound when we realize we are not the physical body and we see how much importance we give to the physical body? I am an alien on this planet. This is an alien body. This is an avatar, but I am occupied all day and night on keeping this avatar young, forgetting the mission I am here for and who the real person is. I am constantly Googling for anti aging cream and decorating my home every year. I want new paint, new drapes, new furniture, because I have completely forgotten who I am and why I am here. I'm completely identified with the physical world. This is permanent to me. This is my world and this is the nature of tabee'a. It is fighting for survival, it is seeking pleasure, it is fleeing from pain.

There was some other matter that I was going to discuss as well. But in the interest of time, because we want to speak a little bit about Muharram, I will skip all that InshaAllah for tomorrow night. It suffices to say that if we come to realize the difference between tabee'a and fitra and these two natures within us, and we then make an attempt to move towards our fitra and allow it to emerge and show itself within us. As we have said, the change is radical. We will see that in ourselves and others will see it, will see it in us.

But before we can do that, before we can move from tabee'a to fitra, before we can move from being caterpillars to being butterflies, it is important that we look at this in all its dimensions. How does this start? Where does it stop? What are its pitfalls and what are the stages that we go through from being a caterpillar to being this butterfly that we seek to be. What are the things that will plague us and what are the methods we can do to protect ourselves from this?

If you can recite a salawat ala Muhammad wa ale Muhammad. So we stop here for tonight, inshaAllah, and we continue on this subject. This is simply, as I said, an introduction tonight. If I can request you to recite one more loud salawat ala Muhammad wa ale Muhammad. [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aale Muhammad]

As we said at the very start, tonight is the first night of Muharram and these are now the Ayam Husayneya. These are the days and nights of Sayyid a-Shuhada. This month brings its own miracle with it, just like in the month of Ramadan many of us have noticed as soon as the month starts, there is a spirituality that comes with it. We are inclined to reciting Qur'an. We find it is easier to fast for example.

The month of Muharram brings its own heaviness, its own sorrow. You might be listening to Marsiyaa and nohas throughout the year, but when Muharram comes, it has a different meaning, isn't it? There is a heaviness with this month. We begin to forget our own problems in life. Until last week, we may have been battling issues. We may have been grieving the loss of a loved one. We may have been having issues in our relationship with someone. We may have been depressed. We may have had all kinds of problems. But from tonight onwards, you will see they seem to fade away. Now, the only thing that grieves us is Husayn.

And Syed ibn Tawoos says this in his book. He says, "The sign of being loyal to the House of Fatima is that when the moon of Muharram shows your sorrow and your grief should only be for Husayn and no one else". We should remember as well that Imam Husayn arrived in Karbala on the second of Muharram. So Zaynab 'alayha salam saw the moon of Muharram when she was already close to Karbala, when she was on the way to Karbala. And we see that these 'adaab of remembering Sayyid a-Shohada across all the Ayimma 'aleyhim asalam. We have riwayyaat to say that when Muharram would start Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, aleyhi asalam, Allahumma salle ala Muhammad wa ale Muhammad. He would begin holding majlises in his home. He would have majalis in his home. People would come from far and wide to come and offer him condolences. Ya ibna Rasoolullah, our condolences over your grandfather. And he would have a majlis and people would cry for his grandfather. And then he would say to them, oh, my Shi'a, do not think only I am present here. Husayn also comes to this majalis and listens and he listens to people crying for him. And then he raises his hands to the heavens and prays to Allah for his Shi'a and for people who mourn for him.

Imam al-Rida, alayhi asalam, as well the same thing. Allahumma salle 'ala Muhammad wa ale Muhammad. He used to say: "Oh people, we were killed in a month that even the jaahil Arabs used to consider sacred", in the days of Jahiliyyah when there was a war going on they would stop the war during Muharram because it was a sacred month. What kind of people were these? They killed us in the month that the Jahiliyyah would not do so. He would call the poet Di'bil al-Khuza'i and he would make him sit on the pulpit and he would sit down. Recite the marsiya of my grandfather. And the women, he would draw a curtain and have the women on the other side and they would cry for Sayyid a-Shuhada. He used to say, My father, meaning Imam al-Kadhim alayhi asalam, he says he would start crying for Husayn from the first of Muharram and he would cry the most on the day of Ashura. He had a companion called Rayyan bin Shabib. He says to him, Ya ibnal Shabib, if you want your sins to be forgiven, cry for Husayn. And if you want to wash yourself of all your sins, then go to Karbala and visit the qabar of Husayn. It will purify you entirely. But know who is Husayn. Ya ibnal Shabib, if you want an abode in paradise next to Rasoollullah then cry for Husayn and curse those who killed Husayn. Ya ibnal Shabib, if you want the same reward as those who sacrificed their lives with Husayn in Karbala, then every time you remember Husayn then say Ya laytana kunna ma'akum ya Aba Abdillah fa nafooz fawzan adheema. If only we had been with you Oh Aba Abdillah. What a mighty honour we would have achieved. Ya ibnal Shabib, if you wish to be with us in this world and in the hereafter, then rejoice when we rejoice and grieve when we grieve. For by Allah, if a person attaches himself, these are the words of Imam ar-Ridha, he says For by Allah, if a person attaches himself to a stone, Allah will raise him with that stone on the Day of Judgment. So attach yourself to us. The 'aali Muhammad and Allah will raise you with us, yawm al-qeyamah InshaAllah.

So these are the nights as well to train our children and teach them what is Muharram. There has to be a difference in our homes from tonight. Absolutely. If you have a banner, a black, if you don't even have a banner that says Ya, Husayn, Ya Zainab, take a black cloth, put a black cloth in your living room, in your family room, so that your children know this is now Muharram. Have some rules in your house these twelve days of Muharram, we will not be watching the television. We will not be watching movies on these nights, because these are the days and nights of Husayn. So these are the ways in which we start training our children.

These are the nights when Sayyida Zahraa 'alayha salam leaves Baqee. She comes to Karbala for these nights. Husayn is that ghareeb for whom all the anbiyaa' cried, from Adam to Khatam. Jibra'eel would come to every prophet: Oh Nuh, this is the story of Husayn. Nuh would cry. Ibrahim cried for Husayn, Musa cried for Husayn, every one of them cried for Husayn until Husayn was about to come to this world. When Husayn was about to come to this world, he cried for himself because Fatima, alayha salam used to come to her father and say Ya abatah, this child in my womb, I can hear it crying. Sometimes it says to me, Ana al-ghareeb, anal-madhluum. When Husayn was born, the Prophet took Husayn in his arms, he began kissing Husayn, he began hugging Husayn. Jibra'eel came to him, Oh Ahmad, do you love this child? He says, Yes, I love this child very much. He said, Oh, Ahmad, your ummah will kill him after keeping him thirsty for three days. This is the first majilis recited by Jibra'eel, Rasoolullah is listening to the majlis. Then Rasoolullah recited this majlis and Ali and Fatima cried. Fatima did not ask, Ya Rasoolullah why should my Husayn die? She did not ask, Ya Rasoolullah, who will bury my Husayn, who will give kafan to my Husayn? She asked, Ya Rasoolullah, who will cry for my Husayn? Because she knew this is how his sacrifices will survive. If the message of Karbala has survived 1400 years it is not through philosophies, not through discussions, it is through the tears that have flowed. She asked who will cry for my Husayn and the Prophet salaAllahu 'alayhi wasalam told her, Oh Fatima, Allah will create a nation, their men will cry for Husayn, men of Husayn. Their women will cry for the women of Husayn. Their children will cry for the children of Husayn.

Imam Husayn alyehi asalam is very often compared to the Prophet Yahya aleyhi asalam because Yahya was also brutally killed. And there is another characteristic between these two as well. Imam Husayn had a very gentle nature. When you saw him he radiated this kindness in his heart. You would cry simply seeing him, you would want to protect him. And it is for this reason that when you look at the history of Imam Husayn from his childhood, you will see that the Ahlul-Bayt 'aleyhum asalam could never tolerate seeing Husayn crying. Whenever Husayn was crying, somebody would try and stop that. Sometimes Rasoolullah would be on the pulpit preaching to his as-hab, Sayyida 'alayha salam would dress Imam Husayn as a young child in new robes. Then she would send him into the mosque of the Prophet. Her house was attached to the mosque. Husayn would come running into the mosque like any child, and then he would stumble and trip on his robes. He would begin crying. When Husayn would cry, the Prophet would stop his khutba. The ashab would begin carrying Husayn from the back of the mosque. Every one of them would lift Husayn and kiss him and pass them to the front, until Husayn came to the front. Then Rasoolullah would carry his Husayn on the mimbar and keep him on his lap and say, Oh people, haadha Husayn, fa'rifuhu. This is my Husayn, recognize him. Husayn minni wa ana minee. Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.

Read the shahadat of the Rasoolullah. You will see that when the Prophet was passing away, Hassan and Husayn were hugging him on both sides and crying. Imam Ali tried to take the children away. The Prophet said, Leave my Husayn and Hassan with me. A few months later, Husayn lost his mother. Realize also how important Madina was to Husayn.

Allama Majlisi says in Bihar al-Anwar that when Amir al-mu'minin had given ghusl and kafan to Fatima, he kept her body in a room. Then he called out and said, Ya Hassan, Ya Husayn, Ya Zaynab , Ya Umm Kulthum. Come oh children and do widaa' to your mother, for this is the last time you will see her. Husayn did not come to his mother. He stood away in the corner. Allama Majlisi says, he quotes Imam Ali, he says Amir al-Mu'minin has said, I swear by Allah, Fatima's hands came out from the kafan. They called out, Come oh my Hassan and my Husayn. He says, I swear by Allah, Fatima hugged her children. Amir al-Mu'minin says I heard a voice calling out Ya Aba al-Hassan, remove the children from Fatima, for by Allah the angels are weeping.

Husayn grow up to be a young man. The year 40 A.H. came. Amir al-Mu'minin was poisoned. Asbagh bin Nubata said the poison was so severe when I went to see Amir al-Mu'minin, he had a yellow bedsheet on him. The skin on his colour was so yellow you could not tell the difference from the face of Amir al-Mu'minin and the bedsheet he was covered with. Husayn was sitting at the feet of Amir al-Mu'minin crying. Ali called Husayn to him and hugged him. Oh Husayn, do not cry. You have a lot to cry still after me.

The year 50 A.H. came to be. Husayn sat beside his brother Hassan. Hassan was leaving this world poisoned, Husayn was crying. Aba Muhammad said to Aba Abdillah, Why do you cry like this, oh Husayn? He said, I cannot see the condition in which you are. Hassan says to Husayn, Wa lakin la yawmun ka yawmuka Ya Aba Abdillah, but there is no day like your day oh Aba Abdillah. Who will cry for you, oh Husayn?

Husayn was left with Zaynab and Umm Kulthum in Madinah. The year 68, came to be. Mid Rajab of 68 A.H. Mu'awiyah died. Yazid came to power. Yazid sent a message to the governor in Medina, Walid bin Utbah, Demand bay'ah from Husayn. Husayn must pledge allegiance otherwise he must be forced to do so. A messenger came to Aba Abdillah. He was praying in the mosque of the Prophet. Aba Abdillah, the governor summons you. Husayn realized something was wrong because this was evening. He said to the messenger, Go, I will come shortly. He went back home. He called the Banu Hashem. Abbas, you come as well. Akbar, you come as well. He took the young men of Hashem with him and went to the palace of Walid. When Imam Husayn went to see Walid, Marwan ibnal Hakam mal'oon sitting with him, Walid gave him the news. Imam Husayn said to the Banu Hashem, wait outside. Unless you hear me raising my voice, do not come inside. We do not want them to think we are here for a confrontation. Aba Abdullah went in and began speaking to Walid. Walid says to him, Mu'awiya has died. Imam Husayn 'aleyhi asalam said Inna lillah. Walid says to him, I have received a letter from Yazeed that says you must pledge allegiance to him. Imam Husayn 'aleyhi asalam said to him, Oh Walid, it is not appropriate for a man like me to be giving allegiance to a man like Yazeed, and that too in secrecy at a time like this. Summon the people tomorrow morning in the mosque and when you ask me in public, I will give you my reply.

At this point, Marwan says to Walid, because he was an evil man, but he knew Husayn. He said, Oh, Walid, do not let Husayn go. If you do not take the allegiance from Husayn now, you will never get him again. Kill Husayn right now unless he gives you allegiance. To which Imam Husayn 'alayhi asalam is enraged at the idea that someone would threaten him when his Abbas is still alive. He turns to Walid and to Marwan. He says, A'anta yabna zarqaa taqtaloonani am hadha? Kadhabta Wallah. Will you, son of an unchaste woman, kill me or this man here, by Allah, you are lying, you will not kill me.

But as soon as Husayn raised his voice, the doors of the court opened up. Abbas came in with a naked sword. Akbar came in. Qasim came in. Marwan and Walid realized they will not be able to force Husayn. Husayn went back home. He began discussing with his family and telling them we must leave overnight and by early morning tomorrow we have to leave.It was decided some of the family members will stay back. Umma Salma was to stay back, Um al-Baneen was to stay back. Abdullah Bin Jaf'ar was to stay back. Muhammad al-Hanafeea was to stay back. Husayn's young daughter Fatima Sughra was to stay back. The others were all to go with Husayn.

The women and the children and the men begin preparing to leave. Sheikh Suduq says in his Amaali that Husayn first went to bid farewell to the grave of Rasoolullah. Husayn has always been in Madina. Husayn has always gone for the ziyara of Rasoolullah. This was a very, very difficult, my brothers and sisters for Husayn. Husayn went to the grave of Rasoolullah. Sheikh Saduq says Husayn cried. When Husayn went into sajda he went for a long time. At one point he had a vision. He had a mukashafa. He saw Rasoolullah in his dream. Husayn said to the Prophet, Ya Rasoolullah, such afflictions has befallen me. Why do you not pray to Allah to take me back to you? Rasoolullah said to him, Oh Husayn, Ka'ani araka murramalun bidamik. Wa inna laka darajatan fil jannah la tanaluhu illa bi shahada. Oh Husayn, I can see you now rolling in your own blood. Oh Husayn, you have a rank in Jannah with Allah that you will not attain except through martyrdom. Oh Husayn, leave for Iraq.

Husayn left the grave of the Prophet, he came back. Abdullah ibni Abbas came to Imam Husayn and said, Yabna Rasoolullah, why do you leave Medina? Stay in Medina, we will defend you. Imam Husayn said to ibni Abbas, Inna Allaha shaa' an yaranee qateela. Oh ibne Abbas, Allah wants to see me being martyred. He said, Then why do you take Zaynab with you? Why do you take the women with you? Take the men alone. He said, Yabna Abbas, Inna Allaha shaa' an yarahunna sabaya. Allah wishes to see them captives oh ibni Abbas.

Sheikh Suduq says when Husayn left the grave of the Prophet, now he came to Jannatul Baqee', Husayn sat at the grave of his brother Hassan and wept. When Husayn was done with the Ziyarat, he came now to the grave of his mother, Zahra. Some of the arbaab of 'aza say, that when Husayn would go to the grave of the Prophet, he would walk with honor and dignity. He would walk with waqar and sakina, he would walk with tranquility. It was as if a mountain was going to visit the Prophet. But when Husayn would come to the grave of his mother, Husayn would run like a little child runs to his mother. I do not know what to Husayn said at the grave of Zahra. Perhaps he says, Ya Umma, this is my last ziyara to you. Umma, after this day Husayn will not come and say salam to you. I would not be surprised if a voice came from the grave and said, Go, oh Husayn. I am with you, following you, Oh Husayn wherever you go, Zahra is with you. Wa Husayna, Wa madhluma.