Freeing The Butterfly Within 4/12 - 4th Muharram 1433/2011

In the fourth lecture of the "Freeing the Butterfly Within" series developed by Br. Khalil Jaffer, Br. Khalil discusses the change in perspective of a person who becomes Fitra-driven, as well the importance of Tabi'ah and how one should reign their Tabi'ah driven nature to benefit them in this world. The metaphor of "Plato's Cave" is given to further explain the perspective of reality in terms of Fitra.

A'udhu billahi min al-Shaytan al-rajim, Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, al-hamdulillah Rabbi 'l-alameen, bari' al-khalaa'iqi ajma'een. Wa as-salat wa assalam 'ala asharafi al-anbiya'i wa'l-mursalin, sayyidina wa nabiyyina wa habibi qulubina wa tabibi nufusina wa shafi'i dhunubina Abil Qasim Muhammad. [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. Thumma as-salatu wa salam 'ala aali baytihi at-tayyibeen at-tahareen al-madhlumeen. Wa la'anatullahi al a'da'ihim ajma'een min yawmi 'adaawatihim ila yawm id-deen. Amma ba'd, faqad qal Allahu tabaraka wa taa'la fi ketabih, wa huwa asdaqul qaa'eleen. Bismillahi, al-rahman, al-Rahim. Fa aqim wajhaka lil-deeni haneefan, fitrat Allahi allati fatara an-nas 'alaiha. La-tabdeela li-khalqillah. Dhalika ad-deenu 'l-qayyimu, wa-lakinna akthara an-nasi la ya'lamun (30:30). Salawat ala Muhammad ... [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajjal farajahum]

Tonight is our fourth lecture on freeing the butterfly within. Last night we concluded that when a human being is driven by his animal instinct, by what we call tabee'a, then he seeks reward for all that he does and he is driven by fear. As opposed to this if a person is driven by his divine instinct, by his true human nature, by his fitra, then he overcomes the fear of death. We also said that such a human being is not driven by fear or greed. And when this fitra reveals itself, we it awakens fully, it comes about instantaneously, it happens suddenly, we prepare the ground and then an incident in our life, a miracle we witness or a calamity befalls us and that brings about this instantaneous enlightenment, a shattering of the ego.

Now, often times when we talk about fear and greed, we attribute this directly to human nature. For example, we often see our stock markets are driven by fear and greed, isn't it? When there is fear, people sell and there is greed, people buy. And we said this is human nature. What we will attempt to see tonight is that is not human nature. That is actually the animal nature within us. That is the nature within us that fights for survival, that is that nature within us that wants to flee from pain. That is the nature within us that seeks pleasure. It is for this reason that you hear time and again that Amir al-Mu'minin ibn Abi Talib, salawatullahi wassalamu aleyh, Sallu 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad,wa ajjal farajahum] He never fled from the battlefield, everyone fled, but he did not flee even in the most difficult of times, in the hardest of circumstances. Why? Because he was an enlightened being. He didn't have, he was not driven by fear or greed he had transcended that bound. Therefore, it was not something he was afraid of. When Mu'awiyyah wrote to him and said to him, or son of Abi Talib, I will bring an army with you, with me from Damascus and fight you.

Read Nahjul Balagha. What what the Imam wrote back to him. He said, "Oh, son of Abu Sufyan, are you threatening me with death? By Allah the son of Abu Talib is more at ease with death than a baby is with the bosom of its mother. Those are the words of Imam Ali in Nahjul Balagha. He is telling Mu'awiyyah, don't scare me with death, I'm beyond death. If anything, his desire was martyrdom. He kept crying for that at Badr at Uhud. When you read the books of tareekh, he kept coming to Rasul Allah (S) saying, "Ya Rasul Allah why did I not get shahada? Why did I not get martyred? And the Prophet kept promising him you will get martyrdom. And his words when he attained it was what, "Fuztoo wa Rabb al-Ka'ba". He didn't say when he killed Marhab, he didn't say when he defeated anyone. But when he was slain and attained martyrdom, he said, now I have achieved what I was waiting for, fuztoo wa Rabb al-Ka'ba.

We shall talk about martyrdom perhaps in the later nights. So when this shift happens within a human being and he moves from tabee'a to fitra, he moves from that wormlike state to the caterpillar like state. Not only does the ego shatter, but his perception of reality changes. All illusions and all fears fall apart. He sees truth with his entire being. It is not just an intellection or a mental process, but it is something he witnesses with his entire being. And that is a complete this disidentification with the body, just like we saw yesterday with the magicians of Fir'awn. They transcended not only the fear of death, but even the fear of torture. You can amputate our limbs, you can torture us, you can crucify us. La Qaaloo la daira innaaa ilaa Rabbinaa munqalliboon. There is no harm. It doesn't do nothing to us. We are going back to our Lord.(26:50)

This metamorphosis, this enlightenment, when it comes, it also changes. It doesn't just change our perception of reality or our perception of Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, but it also changes our perception of our own self as well as our perception of life itself. Suddenly, the things that we saw as being real and solid sometimes appear to be shadows and illusions. We see there is another thing behind them that is more real than this, which appears to be real.

And not only that, but a lot of the things that we saw as obstacles between ourselves and our Lord, they begin to vanish. Many of us are concerned with our spiritual growth by the grace of Allah, which is a good thing. We pray we fast, we do our wajibat, over and above that, when we questioned the purpose of life, we seek higher realms of spirituality. We want to perfect ourselves. And when we do that, we see certain obstacles between ourselves and Allah.

If we attain this enlightenment, these obstacles don't have to be removed, these veils do not have to be removed, they simply vanish, they simply disappear. That sense that he is far is no longer there. That is why when the Prophet Moses Musa, alayhi assalam, when he asks Allah, Ya Rabbi aantaba'eedhoon fa'uuna deek um qareeboon fa unna deek? Are you far, my Lord so I should call out to you or are you near so I should whisper to you? Should I do dua or should I do munajat? 'Ad'ooka ao unajeek? Allah says, Ya Musa anna jaleesun min dhakrnee. I am sitting right beside the person who is remembering me. Udh'unee was astajiblakoom.(40:60) What a beautiful Lord. You don't have to wait for the doors of the place of worship to open, you don't have to ring a bell to wake up the Lord. You just mention Him, He's there. Udhurkunee adhkurkum.(2:152) That sense of Allah is with me all the time.

That is a very empowering feeling. As we have said in the past, when Musa, alayhi assalam, takes Banu Israel away from Egypt and he is trapped on the shores of a sea, and he sees the approaching army of Fir'awn and they are charging to massacre them and the people are making their final wishes and saying, we are done, we are finished. There is the sea on this side, there is the raging charging army. Musa stands alone, he says, Kalla! Inna Rabbi ma'ee. (26:62) Never, never, my lord is with me, He will guide me. And it is only after he says that that Allah says to him, oh Musa strike this sea now with your staff. And it splits open and Allah says, then the waves rolls on both sides like two mountains. But it first waited until Musa said, Kalla! Inna Rabbee ma'ee, He is with me all the time. And it is not restricted to Musa. There is a hadith al-Kudsi in which we are told on one occasion the Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam, because he was Kaleemu Allah, he used to speak to Allah directly. On one occasion he said, Ya Rabbi, as soon as he said Ya Rabbee, Allah said yes Musa. Immediately, Ya Rabbee, yes, Musa. Now he felt this pleasure that I was responded to so quickly. He said Ya Rabee is this an honor for me only, or do others have this honour that as soon as they mention it He said, no, it's not just for you, oh Musa. Anyone who detaches himself from everything else but Me and calls Me, I am right there with them.

This is one of the benefits of moving from tabee'a to fitra and becoming someone who dedicates himself and attaches himself to Allah. That is a mystic who presents this in a very beautiful manner. How when the ego shatters you see the world differently, you see everything connected as one. If you pluck a leaf, you feel you are plucking a part of yourself. You see noor around every creation of Allah and you see everything ultimately emanates from Allah. And that feeling of Allah is the only reality. He describes this as follows. He says, when we seek spirituality, we are like human beings who see a mountain of sand in front of us that obstructs us between us and our Lord. So every morning we take a little spoon or a shovel and we keep taking out a little bit of the sand to remove that mountain between us and Allah. And we keep doing that day after day after day. Then one day when that enlightenment comes to us, when that ego shatters, when we come out of that chrysalis, that cocoon, we wake up and realize that in reality there was no mountain at all. We were digging at an illusion.

And the most beautiful thing is that the same idea is given to us in the Qur'an as well. In Surat an-Noor, which is chapter 24 of the Qur'an, verse 39, Allah gives us an example. He says, wa alladheena kafaru a'maaluhum kasaraabim biqee'atiny (those who are faithless their actions are like a mirage in a plane). Yahsabuh dham'anuma (the one who is thirsty he thinks there is water where there is the mirage, there is that illusion there is the thing that would make him happy he thinks that is what is there). Hatta idha ja'ahu lam yajidu shay'a (until he comes to that mirage, he finds that in reality there is nothing there). Wa wajada Allaha 'indahu (instead he finds Allah is waiting for him there). Fa yuhaffii hisabuhu wa Allahu saree' al-hisab (so Allah takes him to account for his deeds and Allah is swift in reckoning).

So we make a choice my dear brothers and sisters, we either accept that we have a divine reality in us that has to be awakened and we search for our Lord and we find Him and evolve spiritually and let that metamorphosis occur within us before we die and transcend the fear of death while we are still in our physical bodies or we continue with our animal instinct. We continue to be driven by fear and greed. We continue being deluded that this avatar, this alien body, is the real me. We continue being obsessed with materialism, with decorating this body, with decorating our world, with pretending this world is real and permanent, and I'm not going to die with hope after hope, I will be alive tomorrow until death comes to me. And then I wake up to something frightening, to something shocking. What is it that is shocking?

The fact that I never evolved, that I remained the caterpillar, I remained the worm. I never really allowed my potential to awaken within me. Now, by this time you are probably thinking tabee'a is evil, I need to really avoid this. You do not need to avoid tabee'a, you need to rein it. We have said this before. We said tabee'a and fitra are two sides of the same coin. You cannot pluck it out. You need the physical body while you are in this world. It has a purpose. It is a vehicle that is needed for you to evolve spiritually. So let's talk a little bit about why we need tabee'a, if you're going say to Salaat ala Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajjal farajahum]

A few reasons, one, of course, what I just mentioned, that the physical experience in this world requires tabee'a for the evolution of the soul. The suffering that we experience because of interacting with others who are less realized beings, who are ignorant, who are more tabee'a driven than us, also has a purpose in helping our spiritual evolution. When we have a spouse who is troublesome, when we have children who are troublesome, not through our fault, even though we have done our best or we have people at work, we have employees, or we have an employer who gives us grief or we interact with people in society, we meet people on the streets and in the malls who might abuse us, who might insult us, who might. We we live in a jungle of our own species, don't we? When we interact with these beings who are more ignorant than we are or more tabee'a driven than we are, that conflict is also an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and measure how we are doing spiritually.

As an example, I might have this idea in my mind that I am very evolved. People might tell me all the time, you are very patient, you are very kind hearted. So I now believe that I am very patient and I'm very kind hearted. And then Allah brings into my life a two year old. And when I interact with him, there are lots of occasions when I lose my cool and I show anger and I lose patience with him. Those moments of conflict that I experience though it be a child, when I raise my hand and hit the child. That is a moment for me to also measure myself that I do not have the ability to control my anger, I have not yet reigned this force, this animal instinct within me. So all these incidents that we experience in life that are troublesome, in fact have a purpose. And it is for this reason that there is not a single individual in this room who will leave this world without experiencing some form of suffering.

And with that over and above those individual calamities that will befall you, there will be some trial that will be your trial in life. It might be a physical handicap, it might be a troublesome relationship, it might be poverty, it might be anything but something will plague you. That is your challenge, that is your textbook through which you will learn and evolve if you embrace it instead of running away from it. OK, this is very, very important that we understand. The Mystics understood this a long time. Some of them had a little, you know, a humorous touch to it. There was one Sufi, for example, with a very troublesome wife. And when people said to him, why do you not divorce this woman? She calls you so much grief, she causes you so much grief. He said, look, if I divorce or somebody else will marry her and then he will sufferso, I'm keeping her to protect the other mu'minin. Now, this was one perspective, but there is another perspective that is even more profound. And this can happen the other way as well, by the way. It is a sister who may have a troublesome husband and she might keep him to save the other sisters. OK, but there is another incident like this, which is perhaps more true. There was a man who had a very, very troublesome wife. And when people said to him, why do you not leave her?

He said, You see, "Allah will not leave anyone without a trial. I know she is my trial. Now I can manage my expectations. If I leave her, I will be tried with something else. But I don't know what, it might be even more difficult than this. So better the devil I know, I'm going to keep her." This is one perspective. And again, I say this could be the other way around. This is not to say that if you have a husband who abuses you or beat you, that you tolerate abuse. This is not at all what I'm saying. I'm simply giving this as an example to say that there is no individual who will escape suffering the sooner we accept this idea that life is suffering, that we are here to learn through that suffering and that suffering has a wisdom and a purpose, the sooner we can begin our journey, our spiritual journey towards Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajjal farajahum]

So one of the reasons why we need tabee'a is that that interaction of conflict in this plane of existence that is not perfect helps us evolve spiritually. If we had been born straight in jannah it is a perfect environment, that opportunity to evolve would not have been there. Secondly, tabee'a is also needed because it is a means through which calamities come to us. And as we said, calamities also are a springboard for spiritual evolution. They are also a means through which Allah tries us. The more we increase, we have this in ahadith, there is lots and lots of such ahadith, the more you increase in your faith, the more you are tried. The degree to which a person receives calamities is in proportion to his Iman. And there are so many ahadith on this that if I was to begin discussing, I would completely digress from my subject.

There is a third reason we need tabee'a as well. Tabee'a is needed, because it is the instinct that drives the body and it is directly used by the ego and the ego is something that the mind created from infancy out of conflict. You will remember that a couple of nights back we said that enlightenment does not come out of being egoless. Enlightenment comes from shattering the ego. The ego has to be created before it is shattered and removed. So you need something that outwardly appears negative to become your journey through which you learn and grow out of and evolve and experience that metamorphosis. You need to be a worm, a caterpillar, and experience the life of a worm in a caterpillar in order to become a butterfly.

You blow up a balloon and then you burst it. It seems meaningless to blow up something that you want to burst anyway, you could just cut it with a pair of scissors. But you do that because you want that big bang, isn't it? You light candles and then you blow it out. Was it perfect when it was lit or was it perfect when it was unlit? If it was perfect when it was lit, then why did you blow it out? If it was perfect when it was not lit, then why did you light it? But if you don't light it, there is no birthday. So even though you blow it out in 30 seconds, you need to bring it about and then remove it in order to have something that has meaning to you. You take an egg, you let it grow and become a chicken, you get meat and then you slaughter it. Why do you not just crush the egg and say, let's just cut the egg? If you just crush the egg, you will not get the meat. You let it grow, you let you fatten it and then you kill it.

So there is meaning and purpose in this. Let me explain this to you with a better example, with a personal experience that will explain to you. Many of you know that my family and I, we foster children and we have been fostering for seven, eight years. I have seen children of different ages and different groups coming through my door. And I have had the pleasure of learning human behavior and psychology from children. I have seen children who have absolutely no sense of personal space or respect for anyone's possession. If they were to talk to you, they would stand like this right here in your face. And these are not like little kids, not necessarily a one year old. If they were to see anything with you, they would start digging into your pocket, opening your bag, came to your home, they would be totally like invading everything right. Now, at first you wonder what's happening here. Is it because no one talked to these children etiquette or social skills or manners? But upon further observance, you come to realize the reason they do not respect the possessions of others and the personal space of others is because they have not known it to themselves.

They have never possessed anything. They have never known what it is to have a school bag. They have never known what it is to have a toy. They have never known what it is to have a room with a bed of their own. They have never had that blanket that every child holds onto when they sleep. They have never known even a relationship. What does it mean to have a father or a mother? They would call me Baba. They would call you Baba. They would call everyone in this room. It's just a word. It has no meaning to them. And because they have never possessed, possesstion has no meaning to them. They don't understand why your personal space or your possessions should be respected because they have no concept of it. On the other hand, if they would have grown and had an ego and developed attachment and begin possessing things and developed the sense of I-ness, my toy, my bag, my school, my father, my mother, and along with that, I taught them to be generous and I taught them to be charitable and I taught them to share with others. Then when they grow to a certain maturity and they realize the pitfalls of the mind and the ego and the animal instinct, they would be ready to give it up of their own volition.

It is only when they give it up of their own understanding that it has value and will bring about enlightenment. You cannot take it by force from anyone. And along with that, they will respect other people's possessions and other people's space. Because you cannot enlighten people by taking their possessions forcefully from them. You must let them give it up themselves. You begin to see that the development of an ego has a role. You cannot rob a child of that. You cannot say, I want to raise my child without any sense of I'ness or any sense of self whatsoever. And therefore perfection comes about through struggling and through that struggling we attain a full realization of Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala and of our own selves if you can recite salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajjal farajahum]

Now, let's give another analogy of our study and fitra. We've been giving analogies of a writer, an amount of gushing river and a dam and so on. Let's give a few more analogies so that this relationship is understood completely. If I have a young seed or a plant or a sapling, I will not plant it outdoors in winter or in summer, because if I do that, it will die with the cold or with the heat of the sun. I will begin by planting it in a flower pot. I will keep it indoors in a greenhouse. For example, that very same plant, when it begins to bloom and the roots begin to grow, the flower pot now becomes a restriction, it stops it from growing. It is at that point that I break open the flower pot and I take this out and I begin to plant it outdoors so that it grows to its full potential. If I don't do that, it will die.

Human beings are the same. Initially, a human being must be nurtured in the pot of tabee'a. That is why when we are born, we are born with our animal instinct, with our tabee'a until there is maturity and understanding. Once there is maturity and understanding the pot of tabee'a must be broken and exposed to fitra. If that is not done, then the soul will die. So you as a parent, one of your tasks is to be the green house, to give your child that flower pot in which to grow and then to learn at what point they are ready to now come out of that flower pot and reveal their full potential when it is time for them to grow out of that restriction.

To give you another example of this, when your child is young, they attach to different things. Human potential is unlimited. The things we attach to are limited, they are restricting. If we remain attached to these objects throughout our life, then we never realize our full potential. The only thing that is unlimited is Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. That is why I need to attach to Allah only because it is only by attaching to something that is unlimited I will have unlimited potential to grow out of. This is very important. The reason Allah wants us to attach only to Him is because our potential is unlimited. He is saying I am infinite, if you attach to me, your attributes can be unlimited in how far you go. And that is why we have all this ahadith al-Quds that say become mine I would become like yours, I will be yours and I will make you like myself. I have the power to say coon fi yacoon, I will make you such that you will see coon fi yacoon and so on and so forth.

If we stay in the flower pot only whether it is ourselves or our child at best, we will be coming an ornamental piece. We will be a decorative piece. But to become this walnut tree or to become this vast oak tree to stand in the open air, we must come out of that restriction, out of that limited world of of of tabee'a. If you can receite salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

Now, this pot, therefore protects the sapling, but it is also its prison. With the same analogy, the human body is the same, as we shall see in the coming nights. The human body protects the soul, but it is also the prison of the soul. Remember this this this statement that the human body protects the soul while we are in this world, but it is also its prison. We will talk about this again when we come to the Hadith of Rasulillah, sallallahu alayhi wa 'alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] when you come to the hadith in which he says the world is a prison for a believer, we will talk about this, inshallah, two nights from now when we talk about attachments and addictions. OK. So the human body is a protection, but it is also a restriction.

One of the reasons why Allah sends calamities on, you using this analogy, is to break open this flower pot, to bring you out of the greenhouse into the open so that you can grow into this walnut tree, so that you can grow into this oak tree. It appears to be unfair to us. It makes us insecure because all our lives we have been warm, we have been kooshi in the greenhouse sitting in that flower pot, life was good, I had a good job, I had family, I had children, I had a good paycheck, I was healthy, everything was going well. Why Allah? Why me? Why now? That's the question we ask. What we don't realize is I was in my cocoon, my potential to grow had stopped, my roots could not expand. So I was in the rat race but I thought life was good. That calamity that befell me, that was the breaking of the flower pot that was Allah saying to us, "No, you are not good, you are running on animal instinct, you are driven by fear and greed. Come out of the greenhouse, come out into the dark tunnel cross and see the light at the other end of the tunnel. Let me show you what your full potential is." So that calamity, therefore, is again an opportunity that brings us to our full potential.

When the flower pot shatters through this calamity, then fitra begins to speak. What does fitra say when calamity befalls and the flower pot breaks? Fitra says, "Alladheena idha asabatu museebatun qalu inna lillah wa inna allahee raje'oon.(2:156) When afflictions and misfortunes befall them, they realize that they are not in control of their lives, that this is not permanent. They say indeed we come from Allah and to him is our return. That statement is filled with realization, but that realization only came idha asabatun museeba. As soon as life appears to be happy, we forget to call to Allah. We forget this inna lillah because then we go back to our mode of fear and greed, we go back to being driven by tabee'a, and therefore we go back to we go back to being comfortable with how our life was.

So fitra immediately senses that when this flowerpot has broken, when something is wrong with my life, the walls of tabee'a are falling apart. The walls of my ego, the shattering of my ego boundary is taking place. Tabee'a on the other hand, says, I am invincible, I will never die, I am a god unto myself, I will live forever because tabee'a it doesn't want to leave the cocoon, it does not want to leave the flower pot, it does not want to leave the mode in which it is happy. Now, let me very quickly give you another analogy that will make this actually very clear as well.

Many of you who went to school in Canada and if you have taken a class in philosophy in high school, you have heard of an analogy that is known as Plato's Cave. Those of you who are immigrants or who went to school when I did, you probably haven't heard of this unless you are interested in philosophy. And we all have heard of great Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates and Plato. Now, Plato has a book called The Republic. In his book, The Republic he has a beautiful analogy. It's a fictitious one which you can Google actually. Google Plato's Cave or the analogy of the cave or the allegory of the cave and you will see this story. He makes up a fictitious story to show human behavior. He says, let us suppose there is a cave that is underground. And in this cave, there are human beings who have lived all their lives as prisoners. These human beings are kept facing a blank wall.

They are tied and chained in their hands and their feet, and there is a collar on their neck which prevents them from moving their head to either side. They can only look at the blank wall in front of them. Behind them, there is a fire that has been lit a little far away. Between their backs and the fire people sometimes pass by. These are people who are not prisoners. And as they pass in, as objects pass between them and the fire, the fire casts shadows of those people and those objects on the wall that is in front of them. So all they see is the shadows in front of them. All their lives they sit there and the only thing they see these shadows, sometimes those people talk but because it is a cave they hear echoes which are distorted sounds these prisoners, their perception of reality will only be those shadows, those distorted images on the wall, on the wall. That is all they will know to be reality. Eventually, as time passes, they will begin to give names to those shadows.

They will begin noticing that some shadows look the same all the time because the same human beings are passing with the same objects. A horse passes, a camel passes. So they will stop giving names to those objects and saying this object is called this, this object is called not just like we name things in this world and say, this is a tree, this is a horse, this is a camel. OK. Now this becomes the perception of reality. Then they create a hierarchy and a chain amongst them, those who are very smart at naming these things, those who can study the shadows more carefully, those who can name them quicker than the others, they are conferred such an honours. They are told you have a master's degree in reality, you have a master's or a Ph.D. on shadows. They don't know these are shadows to them this is the world, this is reality. Now, this is Plato's analogy, and there is actually an animated clip to show this whole thing in eight minutes if you want to watch it online. A man now comes into the cave, who in our analogy, would be a prophet from Allah. He comes and he frees one of the prisoners. He removes the chains and the collar from him. He allows him to walk around the cave for a bit.

The man now looks around and he realizes this is not the only thing that was real. There was other things that were more real. He looks at the fire. He looks at these objects. The prophet who comes, he tells this man that, look, what you have been looking at is just shadow, that's not reality, this is reality. Now, all his life, he has only known this to be reality. So he denies this. He says, no, no, no, wait a minute, this is reality. How do you know this is reality? He says, well, don't you see when these things move, then you see images there. He says, but how is this coming about? He says, well, the fire, but how is fire causing shadow? He doesn't understand this. So the prophet takes his hand and said, Come with me outside the cave. He resists because it is a wall he does not know.

The prophet takes him by force to the open world. Initially, when he sees the sun, it totally blinds him. He cannot bear to see the light he has never seen noor, he has only known dhulmat. He can't understand what is happening. He is left in this real world for a bit. Now he begins to discover this world. He sees flowers growing, he sees animals, he sees shadows in this world as well. He sees reflections in the water from the real object. He begins to see the meaning of reflection, he sees shadows from the sun. He begins to see how shadows work. His perception changes. He ultimately begins to realize that the only thing that is of most essential nature here is the sun. It is the sun that is causing the plants to grow. It is the sun that is keeping these animals alive. It is the sun that is casting all these shadows that people think is reality.

In our analogy this reality, the sun would be Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. Now, at some point, his nature will say to him, my God, all my people are in the cave. They think those shadows are the real world. What will they do if they find out this is the real world? So he is very happy and he goes back down into the cave to tell them about this. Well, guess what happens? He cannot see the shadow properly first of all, everything looks distorted. The darkness is hurting, is skewing the things because he is now used to the real world. And so they start laughing him. They say so you thought you were the smart one, right? You went to seek truth and knowledge. Now you can't even see the truth properly here, right? So he's talking to them, trying to convince them they jeer him, they mock him, they laugh at him, that you are mad, what are the things you're talking about? These things are not real.

They cannot even move their head. So that's the only thing they're seeing. So what he now tries to do is he tries to open their chains. He says, come, let me show you. Well, guess what happens? They get angry, they get violent, they push him away. Just because you are mad, you want us to be mad, go away. This is reality, we don't want this from you. And if he wants to insist they would kill him. If he wants to open up their chains, they would pounce upon him and kill him because he is forcing them out of the cocoon. He's forcing them out into the open world. He's breaking the flowerpot. They don't want that. Yet he, his consciousness will not allow him to leave those people sitting in the cave facing a blank wall, believing the shadows is reality. So to him, he would rather risk being killed than not say the truth.

It is for this reason that our species always opposed the prophets when the first came and we killed them. When the anbiya' came to us, what did they come to tell us? They came to tell us your understanding of this world is not real, you are driven by animal instinct. Come, let us show you your fitra, come out of the cave, come through the tunnel, come out of the cocoon, come out of the greenhouse, break the flowerpot. We resist. Instead, what did we say to them? We said suraha'il-lam tantahu. Ya Sin chapter 36. Verse 18 a'il-lam tantahu lanar jumannakum wa la-yamassan nakum minnaa 'adhaabun aleem (36:18) If you do not stop doing what you are doing, preaching to us and telling us about all these things, we will stone you and you will receive a grievous punishment from us. This was the natural, not the natural, but the tendency of human beings who never knew the truth.

What the prophets wanted to tell us is if you remain a flower pot in the greenhouse, you will never see the Gardener who is outside, the Gardener with a capital G ('Azza wa jal). Come out and become an oak tree and see the gardener. Realize your full potential, become this magnificent tree that is describing surah Ibrahim Chapter 14 verse 24, kathajartun tayyibatun asluha thabit wa far'uha fi assama'.(24:14) Like a tree whose roots is firm and its branches extend wide and far. Tu'tee ukulaha kulla hiniin bi'idhni Rabbiha.(24:15) It is able to give out fruits in all seasons by the permission of its Lord. Do not be kashajaratin khabithatin ijtuththat min fawqi al-ardhi ma laha min qarar.(24:16) Like a bad tree whose roots have come out and it has no stability. This is what the prophets wanted to show us. But we resisted because they are telling us to come out of tabee'a to come out of this cocoon. And therefore we hear that we say that he who fears to lose sight of the shores will never discover new lands. If you're always holding onto what is familiar, when will you see that which Allah has placed for you to see, that which is part of your journey and your destiny to realize your full potential.

So when we when we realize, when we restrict ourselves, when we say, I don't want to come out of my animal nature, I want to fulfill my desires, I want to be driven by my animal instinct, I'm happy living a life driven by fear and greed, I don't want all these matters of spirituality. Not only is there the danger of the shock and the fright and the time of death when our egos collapse forcibly and we are forcefully taken out of our cocoons, but we also prevent ourselves from realizing our full potential.

Now I want to take five or ten minutes more. I know I have exhausted you mentally with all these examples and analogies, but I want to take just five more minutes of your time before I come to an end for tonight to explain to you what I mean, just to give you an example that we might be able to relate to how we limit our potentials when we refuse to be fitra driven creatures and we insist on being tabee'a driven creatures. If you can recite salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

We all have different positions at work, at the community and so on. I'll take a simple example. Let us suppose I start volunteering at the center and I volunteer to look out for the shoe racks outside because I don't think anybody does that right now. So just take that as an example. And I do that for five years, ten years, 15 years, 20 years. And I perfect it as an art, I make it a really, really, I bring it down to a fine art. I have rules, regulations, leather shoes, go on, top runners, second rack, flip flops down, if you have winter boots down, arranged by color, by size, it's all perfect. Everyone who comes here thanks me, praises me, acknowledges me, and I truly believe I am doing this for Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, I'm doing it to serve his guests who come to listen to his Majilis and I'm totally convinced that this is my reasoning.

Now, after I've done that for 15, 20 years, this young lad comes about and he starts questioning how I do things. So why don't we move this shelves a little bit like this or that. So initially I'll tell him, you know what, just move along, OK? I've been doing this for twenty years. Don't teach me my job. But he insists, no, no, I think we can make this better. We can put an extra four shelves at the top. Maybe we don't have to be so particular about arranging it by color. He goes to the jamat and he speaks to them, he comes back. Now I feel threatened. What is this man doing? He's taking away something that is my job, that is my responsibility. OK. So my first response is I will start backbiting. I'll go home, I'll talk to my spouse. You won't believe what happened today. There's this silly idiot fellow coming about now questioning how I arrange shoes, trying to take over my position. Right. Then I will start talking about him to anyone and everyone who will listen. My my belief was what? I'm doing this for Imam Husayn, okay. But my what I'm trying to show you here is how we limit our potential. So then I go to the jam'aa and I say, look, this is not right. But instead I'm surprised that they don't support me. They support the other guy and saying, well, maybe you should listen to him, maybe he's got a point.

All right. So now I'm opposed to that as well, that, oh, my God, these guys are really trying to, you know, a threat to my position is threatened. So now I start acting against and I start threatening and distorting things. What I might do, perhaps, is if the Majlis is going on, I might start talking loudly just to disrupt things, you know, or matam or just talk loudly, do something like that, or maybe rearrange the shoes so that people cannot find their shoes just so people know that they cannot do this without me. OK. Well, that doesn't work as well. Life seems to go on. So then I come to the jamat and I say, you know what, I quit. You guys, you know, look after the shoes yourself. I'm not coming anymore. I'm out of here. Well, that doesn't work as well because life goes on. People still come to the mosque. So now I start discouraging people outside and I say, you really shouldn't go to Masumee Islamic Center, I mean, you should see the mess in the shoe rack. Nobody, you know, like, it's terrible. You really shouldn't go there. OK. Well, that doesn't work.

So then I go to another center and I said, do you need someone to look after your shoes? I'm a really good shoe keeper. I've got like 20 years experience. Here's my resume. Right. What am I doing here? This is not a bad experience. We all experience this in our lives at some point it is not bad. Why? Because at this point now I can look at myself in the mirror and realize that I was not doing this for Imam Husayn, I was doing it for myself. I revealed myself to myself. But when did I learn to realize that I was nothing but a shoe keeper for my ego, not even if I were a shopkeeper for Imam Husayn, noorun 'ala noor, but I was a shoe keeper for my ego. When did I realize this? When the issue of losing status, losing power. Remember the magicians they asked Fir'awn: a'inna lana la 'ajran in kunna nahnu al-ghaleebun (26:41), will we have a reward if we win over Musa. He said yes, and you will have position: wa innakum idha lamin al-muqarrabiin(26:42). You will be the most closest people to me.

Shaytan also thought he was the most sincere worshipper of Allah, for millions of years because the angels kept thinking and praising him. He kept doing sajjdah he kept praying. When did he see his true nature? When the issue of khilafah came about. Inni ja'ilun fi 'l-ardhi khaliifa (2:30). He thought this was my right. Why was someone else given? And I will add to this and say you will not know whether you are driven by your ego when you take a position of authority. You will only know it when you come down from the position of authority and lose it. Because it is at that point we have attached ourselves to it and we are threatened by it. So this kind of an experience is now. If I become that, then I limit myself. This is my potential. Some people will say, you know, this is just, you know, our people. How many times you are we Khoja's never grow out of this or we Indians, we never you know, we Muslims, we just like this. Somebody once told me we Indians, we are just like crabs like we just like crabs. What makes us like crabs?

He says, don't you see when you go to the fish market or you go to the pet store, the other animals, they cover the top so the animals can get out. But the crabs, they don't cover them. They leave it open. So why? He says because crabs cannot see anyone go forward as soon as one of the crab starts calling the other one and put him down, since where are you going? So we are like crabs. We don't need anyone to destroy us. We just pull our own selves down. So we do this. We say, oh, we are just like this. Let me tell you something. It is not us only. You go to church, you go to a synagogue, you go to a jama't khana and you go to a Sikh temple, you go to a Hindu temple, you go to a Shi'a mosque anywhere you go. This problem you will find everywhere, because most human beings are caterpillars, they are not butterflies. So they are driven by fear, they are driven by the need to survive. Survival is key to them. But what I want to end by saying is that when you see this don't said this is human nature. This is not human nature. This is animal nature. This is instinct. This is survival. This is tabee'a, this is not a fitra.

Fitra does not care about this. Fitra is a butterfly. A butterfly soars in the heavens and dances in the sun. It does not care about those little worms in the small patch in the backyard where fighting and saying, this is my rotting leaf. Why are you sitting on my leaf? This is my corner of the mud. Why are you on my corner of the mud. Fitra is an oak tree. It is singing the praise of its Lord and talking to the Gardener and enjoying his love. It is not the little flower pot in the greenhouse that is saying, "Why is this flower pot in front of me? Or Why is this flower pot in a higher rack and I'm on the lower rack? That is for tabee'e people. You will not find this in people of fitra. So people of fitra are not greedy for reward. They are not greedy for status. They are not greedy for position.

These discussions, these talks, my dear brothers and sisters, are not to hurt anyone's feelings, and nor are they targeted to any individual or center. I have traveled the world and I have seen this in all parts of the world. These are to help us see our own selves before we die so that we assess ourselves and say, am I driven tabee'a or am I driven by fitra. Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

I think this is enough for tonight Insha'Allah we stop here and we continue tomorrow night Insha'Allah. If you can recite the salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

Tonight is the fourth night of Muharram, Muharram al-Haram. We continue remembering Aba 'Abdillah al-Husayn, and as we draw closer to the day of Ashura, we also come closer to Karbala. Our hearts move from where we are and take us closer and closer. Our imagination takes us there. We begin to feel as if we were there. The love of Aba 'Abdillah al-Husayn is part of our fitri. It is not part of our tabee'a. There is a hadith in which a Imam al-Sadiq alayihi assalam, says [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] He says that Rasulillah, sallallahu alayhi wa 'aali wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] he says when Imam Husayn was a young boy, he one day took him and placed him on his lap, and then he talked to the people about his grandson. And he said inna qatlee Husayn hararatun fi qulub al-Mu'minin. La tabrudo abada. In the hearts of the believers, there is a burning passion for Husayn that will never cool. Never, never. That is why you speak to a man who is even 70, 80 years old. He has heard the masa'ib of Aba 'Abdillah year after year after year, but every year it is fresh because it is a blood that does not dry.

A man asked the sixth Imam, alayhi assalam, once, he said "Ya ibna Rasul Allah, didn't your jadd [grandfather] the Messenger of Allah say "Mathalu ahl baituka mathali safinat un-Nuh, my Ahl al-Bayt are like the ark of Nuh, whoever comes on board will be saved and whoever turns away will drown. He said, "Yes, my grandfather indeed said that." He said, "Then why did your grandfather also say innal Husayn misbahu hudaa wal safeenat un-najat, that Husayn is a lamp of guidance and an arc of salvation." Why, specifically, Husayn is an ark of salvation when the whole Ahlul Bayt is like the ark of Nuh? Imam al-Sadiq, alayhi assalam, said: "Kulluna sufuna an-najat, all of us are arks of salvation. Wa lakinna as-safeenat ul-Husayn ausa' wa asra', but the Ark of Husayn is wider, more spacious, and it moves faster".

What does it mean? It means that if you fall in love with Husayn, his compassion is so much for humanity. You merely have to look at Husayn, he will lift you and take you on board his ark.Come to Husayn. He will show you the path to fitra. He will show you the path to salvation. And it is not just Husein. It is not just we who are in love with Husayn. Our 12th Imam, alayhi assalam, in ziyarat al-Nahiya, he says "The angels... Peace be on you o Husayn, for whom the angels wept." The angels are in love with Husayn. Sheikh Abbas Qummi in his Mafatih Al-Jinan at the end of Mafatih Al-Jinan, he has an appendix called al-Baqi'at as-Salihat, which in the older versions is written on the margins on the hasher. In his al-Baqi'at as-Salihat in the opening section he talks about the importance of the tasbee of Zahra', alayha assalam. When he discusses the tasbih of Zahra', alayha assalam, he talks about the importance of the turba of Husayn, not even Husayn, the turba of Husayn, how important it is. He quotes a riwaya. He says that in paradise there are the most beautiful women and spouses you can ever imagine that are called hoor al-'ayn, they are so beautiful they are not able to come in this plane of existence because it cannot withstand their noor. These hoor al-'ayn when they come to know that some of the mala'ika are coming down to the earth to do the ziyara of Husayn, they called the angels and say to them, "Are you going down to the earth to Aba Abdillah al-Husayn? hey say yes. They say, will you do us a favor? They say yes. Can you bring us some turbah from the qabr of Husayn. The mala'ika are in love with Husayn. And what is Husayn's love for humanity? His compassion, look at his compassion.

On the day of Ashura, Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, at one point was seen looking at the enemies and weeping, and people knew he was not afraid of dying. They said to him, "Ya Aba Abdillah, why do you weep?" He said, "I'm weeping for these people. Abki leqaumi udkhuloona an-nara fiha, I am crying for the people who will go to hell because of me. Where will you find a man? His brother's arms have been severed. His nephew has been trampled. His Akbar has been killed. His baby has been killed. He is crying his enemies, that they should go to the fires of hell because of me.

There was a man who went to Karbala for ziyarat. He says, "When I stood in the haram facing the dhareeh of Aba Abdillah al-Husayn, I saw a learned men, a shaykh come in. He took hold of the dharee' of Husayn. He began shouting, "Oh Husayn, I beg you, do not forgive Shimr. Oh Husayn, do not forgive Hurmala. Oh Husayn do not forgive Haseen bin Nameer." The man said, "I began thinking, what kind of a prayer is this? What is this man saying? Do not forgive? How we Allah forgive people like this?" When that shaykh left, he says, I went behind him. I said to him, "Oh Shaykh, what is this you are saying? Do not forgive Shimr, oh Husayn. The Shaykh begin crying. He said to him, "Oh man, you do not know Husayn, you do not know Husayn like I know. If these people will not be forgiven, it is because they will not repent. It is not because Husayn does not want to forgive them. This is the son of Ali. When he was struck with the poison sword, he looked at the face of ibn al-Mujim and said, "The man looks frightened, untie his ropes. The man looks thirsty, give him some milk. Kareem ibn al-Kareem.

If Husayn's love for his enemies is such, if his compassion for humanity is so much, how much do you think Husayn's love was for his ashab? Can you imagine how this ashab felt in the presence of Aba Abdillah al-Husayn? How they felt when they fell from their horses and Husayn would go to them and put their heads on his lap and wipe the blood in the sand from their face and talk to them gently until their souls leave this world knowing that there would be no one to do the same for Husayn. He used to say no one had ashab like I had a ashab. Aufa wa khairun min ashabee, no one had like I had. It is not only Husayn who made Karbala mu'alla'. His ashab purify the land of Karbala. That is why when we salute them, we say, didthum, you become pure. Wa tabatee ardhu lafeef feeha difentum, and pure became the land in which you were buried. Fi layaitana kunna ma'kum. If only we had been with you or ashab of Husayn.

Tonight we want to remember the ashab of Husayn. How Husayn looked for them one by one, like a man walks amongst weeds and picks up the flowers and the roses, the most unlikely of people. Husayn went to them and said, "You are one of mine, come to me." One of these individuals was Zuhair ibn al-Qain. Zuhair ibn al-Qain was not following the Ahl al-Bayt, alayhum assalam. Zohair ibn al-Qain happened to be traveling with his family at the same time that Aba Abdillah Husayn was traveling towards Kufa and every time Husayn stopped, Zuhair stopped away far or he went and stopped front away so that he would not have to speak to Imam Husayn.This was all Zuhair ibn al-Qaim. At one point, it so happened that they ended up staying near to each other. Zuhair tired, fatigued with his family.

A messenger came to him, "Oh Zuhair ibn al-Qain, the son of Zahra' has something he wants to speak to you. Zuhair is thinking, should I go? Should I not go? This is where if Allah has blessed you with a spouse, the kind of spouse that Habib ibn al-Madhir had, the kind of spouse that Zuhair ibn al-Qain had. Zuhair's wife said to him, "Oh Zuhair, the grandson of the Prophet is calling you the son of Zahra' is calling you. What have you got to lose? Go speak to him, see what Husayn has to say. You're not committing to anything." Zuhair went with mixed feelings. No one knows what Hassan said to Zuhair. That will remain for Zuhair to tell us Yawm al-Qiyama. But this much we know that when Zuhair came back, he was a young man. Zuhair was laughing. He was beaming with the noor. Something had been said to him. He had been touched by the love of Husayn. He had been touched by something that was larger than life itself. He gave away all his wealth to his servants. He said to his wife, "Go back to your family. I am going with Husayn now, I am for Husayn." When you read the sermons that were delivered in Karbala, besides the sermons of Aba Abdillah al-Husayn, some of the most beautiful and most powerful sermons were given by Zuhair.

Another example of such an eminent companion was Abu Thumama as-Saidawee. At the time of dhoher he looked up and saw it was the time of the dhoher. He said, "Aba Abillah, one more time let us pray salat ad-Dhuhr behind you." The pleasure of being with Husayn. Husayn looked up and said "Dhakkart al-salat ja'laka Allah minal musallin". What a prayer a master gives to his Shia. May Allah make you one of those who are from those who pray salat. Husayn begin praying his salat. Two of his companions stood before him, one of which the most prominent was Sa'eed bin Abdullah. Look at how the man has transcended the fear of death. He stands before Husayn. All he wants is to protect his Aka and his mawla. Spears and arrows begin coming towards Husayn every time an hour comes Sa'eed stands and takes the arrow in his chest. Every time another spear comes, Sa'eed comes and takes an arrow and a spear in his chest. When Husayn said as-salaam aleikum wa Rahmatullah Sa'eed fell to the ground, Husayn took the head of Sa'eed his lap. The only question Sa'eed had for his mawla was "Aba Abdillah, have I been faithful in my pledge and loyalty to you. Aba Abidillah are you please with what Sa'eed has done for you."

"Yes Sa'eed, I am pleased with you. Go Sa'eed, my grandfather will quench your thirst, I am following you. Another eminent companion of Husayn was Muslim bin Osaja. Muslim was an eminent companion of Husayn. He was a commander of Husayn. When Muslim went and fought and when he fell from his horse and said, "as-Salaamu 'alaika ya Aba 'Abdilllah, idriknee ya Aba 'Abdillah." Husayn want to get Muslim but with him Habib went. Habib was a friend of Muslim. "Oh Muslim, I am following you shortly.

I can take your will and your testament, but oh Muslim if there is anything you wish to say to me, I will say, tell me now I will fulfil your wish." Muslim only wish was to point at Husayn. He said, "Osiku bihadha ya Habib. Oh Habib, let no one shoot an arrow at my Husayn, oh Habib let no one harm my aka, oh Habib, save my mawla, oh Habib, let no one hurt Husayn." I would say, "Oh Muslim, come a little later at the time of 'asr when Habib is no longer there, when Abbas' hands have been severed when Akbar has fallen and Qasim has fallen, oh Muslim there will be no one to put his head on his lap, horse will be trampling the body of Husayn. Wa Husayna, wa madhluma. Ya Husayn, Ya Husayn.