Freeing The Butterfly Within 7/12 - 7th Muharram 1433/2011

In the seventh lecture of the "Freeing the Butterfly Within" Series, Br. Khalil Jaffer discusses the importance of suffering in this world and patience through calamity, for a in individual who is Fitra-driven, as well as gives examples of how a Tabi'ah-driven individual views suffering and calamities in this life.

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 assalam '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 kitabih, wa huwa asdaqul qaa'eleen. Bismillahi, al-rahman, al-Rahim. Fa aqim wajhaka lil-deeni haneefah, Fitrat Allahi allati fatara an-nas 'alayha. La-tabdeela li-khalqillah. Dhalika ad-deenu 'l-qayyim, 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 the seventh night of Muharram and also our seventh discussion on freeing the butterfly within. Last night, we talked about addictions and attachments and how they hinder our spiritual growth and evolution. And we said part of the reason we addict ourselves quickly is because the instinct nature, the animal nature within us that we call tabee'a is very quick to form habits and to attach. And because tabee'a is only concerned with the physical body and with comfort and does not want any form of pain and constantly wants to fight for survival, it very quickly rests at the first place of comfort. It does not want to struggle.

And this is why as children, when we learn how to crawl, we do not want to walk. We have to be forced to walk. The child's tabee'a says, I am comfortable, I can move around crawling. Why do I need to walk? It is painful to walk. Every time I stand, I try to walk, I fall. My tabee'a says I don't want pain. I want pleasure, I want comfort, I'm comfortable. What the child does not realize is that if they remain crawling and they grow and become an adult without learning how to walk when they become 20, 30, 40 years old, it will become a pain to move around the world crawling because tabee'a, does not have foresight.

Fitra knows that I need to walk because this will be important to me at some point. It is for this reason that even though our tabee'a wants pleasure, wants physical pleasure, wants addiction. Fitra wants to break addiction, wants to help us detach from attachments, wants us to become spiritual because Fitra knows that when we leave this world and go to the next, we will need to know how to walk. If we are still crawling, we will suffer in the hereafter.

The other thing we saw as well is that the older we get, the more we come to this realization that we jump from one pleasure to another, from one hobby to another, from one dream and ambition to another, because nothing seems to give us that happiness that we seek, from one relationship to another. And this, we said, is perhaps because in our Fitra, in our origin, we have tasted something more perfect, more beautiful, more unlimited.

And because, like Musa, alayhi assalam, had drunk his mother's milk first and we have tasted that. That is why nothing gives us joy. We are addicted to Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, and now we are searching for that. We are trying to go back to that original states that Adam was in before he was sent down to this earth. And it is for this reason, perhaps, that Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala in Suratul Infitar chapter 82 of the Qur'an, verse six addresses us as a species.

"Ya aiyuha al-insan! Ma ghrraqa bi Rabbika Kareem"(82:6), 'Oh man, oh insan what is it that has deceived you from your Lord?' What is it that is distracting you from your Lord, not just your Lord, Rabbika al-Kareem, your kind Lord, your compassionate Lord. He is waiting for you. What is it that is turning you away from this? And as we begin to separate from attachments and addictions and we unclog that connection that is already there between us and Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, then we begin to taste the sweetness of that.

And once we experience the love of Allah, then nothing can replace that. We will not crave for any higher form of love or happiness. We will be able to continue functioning like others do. But there won't be this unhappiness, this constant, wanting something more. We will not be driven by greed or fear. And it is this as well that we see written between when we read between the lines in the 'adeeya or the du'as that come to us from the Ma'sumeen alayhi assalam, who are realized beings. For example, in the du'a of Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] that is well known as the Du'a of 'Arafah, that he recited on the plains of 'Arafat when he was when he had gone for Hajj on one occasion.

In this, there is the famous line that many of you know in which he says to Allah, "Madha wajada ma faqadaq, wa madha faqada wajadak?", 'my Lord, what did he find he who lost you? And what did he lose he who found you?' What a profound statement. What Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, is saying is that, "Oh Allah, once a person has found you, there is nothing they will miss in their lives. What did he lose he who found you?" And if someone has not found you, my Lord, what did he really find? He is simply running from illusion to illusion.

So this idea that Allah is too supreme for me to even comprehend or know or understand or come close to is false. The Imams, alaihum assalam, did not come to stand between us and Allah as obstacles, they came as teachers to help us connect to Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. This is what makes us such a special species, the fact that we can be special and can communicate with the Lord of the universe. No other species talks to a love with such consciousness and awareness to their creator the way we do.

In another du'a from the son of this Imam, our fourth Imam, Imam Ali Zain al-'Abideen, salawatullah wa assalamu alayih [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] and I think this is from the du'a he taught his companion, Abu Hamza Al-Thumali that we call du'a Abu Hamza Al-Thumali. In this, the Imam says: "wa anna raheela ilayka qareebu masafah", my lord, the journey towards you is very short, it is not that far. It is an illusion to think that it is so far, it is very near you, a very close. "Wa anna kala' tahtatajeebu 'an khalqiq", and you are never veiled from your creatures, you are never disconnected from your creatures. "Walla kinna ama'lun illa antahjibahum ama'lun dunaq", accept that what veils them from you are their actions for other than you. And then there is another version of this du'a.

In another version it is said that the Imam did not say: "illah intahjibahum ama'lhum dunak", but he said "illa intahjibahum amalu dunak". In Arabic, 'amal with an 'ayn is action and amal with an alif is hope. So this is even more beautiful that the Imam may have said that, oh Allah you are never veiled from your creatures, but what veils them from you are the hopes they have in other than you. So this is essentially a summary that where we stopped at last night.

Now what we want to do now tonight is take this to the next level and say we acknowledge, that our Fitra is longing for Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala, he is our goal, he is our end, that is what we seek. And we need to awaken this Fitra. Now, the question is that why is there so much pain and suffering in seeking this closeness to Allah? Why must we suffer to come close to Allah? Why is there a need for this pain and suffering in the process of becoming this butterfly? And we have already hinted at some of this in the previous nights when we talked about suffering.

One of the things we said is it is the nature of this plane of existence that everyone suffers. And as long as we stay in this cycle of asking, why must I suffer? We will not evolve, because it is tabee'a that wants to flee from physical pain and seek pleasure. It is tabee'a our that asks, why am I suffering? Whether I'm suffering physically in an illness or I'm suffering emotionally in a relationship. It is tabee'a that asks, why am I suffering? Fitra does not ask why am I suffering? Fitra seeks the wisdom behind the suffering. And therefore I am not saying that tonight when we talk about pain and suffering in the process of becoming enlightened, I will tell you why you suffer in whatever method you have found your life to challenge you.

I cannot be audacious enough to say I know the cause of your suffering, but what I will attempt to do is shift our perspective and our attitude so that at least instead of asking why am I suffering? We ask. I accept that life is suffering. I simply need to find out what is the wisdom behind my suffering. Perhaps, perhaps I have some addictions in life which are separating me from Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. And this suffering in this calamity is a jolt to wake me up so that I detach from those addictions and thereby return to Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. This is for us to discover. And I said, you are the best person to know what is the wisdom behind your individual suffering.

We suffer in two ways. Sometimes we suffer through pain and sometimes we suffer because we are not able to get pleasure. That is also a form of pain. Or to put it differently, patience is of two kinds. We bear patience over what we desire, or we may have patience over what we pain, over what pains us. And in fact, in a hadith that is in Nahjul Balagha from Amir al'Mu'minin, Ali Bin Abi Talib, salawatullahi wa assalamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] he says these patience are of two kinds: patients over what pleases you and patients over what pains you, and then he says, bearing patients over what you desire, has more value than burying patients over what pains you.[Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 2, hadith n. 55]

Why? Because when you are in pain and when you suffer, there is nothing you can do about it except better patience. What will you do? You might get a little depressed, you might get upset, but there isn't much you can do except bear patience. But when you are overcome with desire, you have a way out, except that way out is haram. So now you have a choice. So when you bear patience over desire and you choose not to give into temptation, then your patience has higher value because you have an exit. You could commit sin if you want, but you have resisted it for the sake of Allah. Therefore, that patient has even higher value.

So we're looking at it from both perspectives. And that is why we also mentioned in one of the early nights that when our young men and women ask, why is it so hard to resist temptation, we said it is actually not hard to resist temptation. It feels hard because we are completely identified with the body, because we are completely thinking I am the thinker in my head. So we are convinced from a tabee'i perspective that I need this pleasure.I have to give in to this temptation. And that is why it feels like if I don't get it, it is painful. But if I dis-identify from the body, if I see myself as being a soul in an alien body, then now I don't think of the pleasure as me, I think of it as something within me.

In other words, instead of saying I am angry, if I was to start saying there is anger within me, it is simply words, but it shifts my perspective because now I don't identify with the anger.I say I am not angry, I am a spiritual being. There is anger in me. I am not depressed, there is a depression in me. I am not desireful of something. There is desire within me. The moment I do that, I create some space between me and that feeling and that emotion. And that takes me now gives me the courage to resist and to have the right patience.

So when we are moving from being a caterpillar to a butterfly, there are two things that have to occur: one is the struggle, the labor, just like the caterpillar that pushes and pushes and has an exoskeleton and keeps trying to come out of its shell. The other is the rebirth that occurs. The rebirth is not up to us. When we are ready, it happens by the will of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. Even the caterpillar does not choose when to be born again. A child, a fetus in the womb of its mother does not choose when it will come to this world. It might even resist because it is comfortable where it is.

So in the same manner, when we choose to evolve spiritually, we find a prescription for ourselves. Then we struggle day by day, by day by day. That is the labor, that is the pushing, that is the methods we seek. And then when the time is right, there is a sudden collapse of the ego boundary. There is an enlightenment that fills our lives. Now, we still ask this question, but why must it go through a process of suffering? Why could I not become enlightened without suffering?

You see, if a butterfly had human intellect, the butterfly would ask the same question: Why must I struggle and shed my exoskeleton and sleep in that chrysalis for eight or ten months and go through all the chemical changes and deconstruct and reconstruct before my wings can grow? Why?

But let us think of the opposite for a moment. Let us suppose we saw this caterpillar in its chrysalis hanging from the stem of a tree and we felt sorry for it. And we felt compassion and said the poor creature is struggling and struggling and struggling here, let me help it. And then we take a surgical knife or a box cutter or whatever, and we slit the chrysalis open. Are we doing it a favor? What is going to happen? Because it is not ready to emerge from its shell because it has not finished struggling as much as it needs to struggle for the wings to develop. We cripple it for life. It will never become a butterfly now. It will remain a deformed worm that will burn in the sun and die. So we have not been fair, nor have we been kind and compassionate by interfering in the process. That journey of struggle was very important in the formation of the wing.

It is for this reason that Allah wants you to experience what your mind and your ego and your tabee'a thinks is suffering but is not actually suffering. It is the growing of wings in us and it is for this reason that we must shift our perspective.

We also mentioned this in the past when we talked about a couple of nights back why the formation of the ego is important. Something has to be formed that will then shatter, and we have been courting a verse of Qur'an from Suratul Inshiqaq, chapter 84 verse six "Ya ayyuhal insan" all men or again, Allah is not addressing Muslims, all of our species "ya ayyuhal insan, innaka kadeehun ila Rabeeka kadhan fi mulaqee"(84:6), 'oh man oh Insan, you are constantly laboring with a severe laboring towards whom? Towards your Lord, and you shall meet him'. But we do not understand. We still say, why?

Allah's aim is to take us to Jannah. Jannah is abode of perfection. To live in that, to survive in that we must become perfect beings and Allah will do anything possible to get us there. If we, by our own volition and choice, will not stand up and begin struggling spiritually and doing jihad an-nafs and taskiyat an-nafs, then Allah may, I'm not saying this is the only reason we face calamities, but He may give us calamities to force us in that direction, because this is temporary. Allah does not care whether you live 40, 60, 80 or 100 years because He knows you're in a shell here. This is a cage. You are not free here. He wants you for there and He will do whatever is necessary, try you in any manner possible until you make it very clear to Him that you are not interested in Jannah.

We are told that on one occasion, Rasul Allah, sallalahu alayihi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] he was seen smiling. His companion said, "Ya Rasul Allah, what is it that makes you smile?" He said, "A thought crossed my mind. I am amazed at people who have to be dragged in chains to go to Jannah. I am amazed at people whom Allah has to tie in chains and drag them to Jannah because they don't want to go to Jannah. How many times have you and I almost come close to committing a major sin, but Allah saved us? How many times have we thought of saying something or doing something that we would regret for the rest of our lives but Allah saved us?

Because we are asleep, listening to tabee'a, like animals, just heedless. And when we are not yet ready, Allah out of his mercy, keeps pulling us back, keeps pulling us back. In Surat al-Isra', which is chapter 17 of the Qur'an, verse 11, He says, "Wa yud'u al-insanu be sharri du'ahu bil khair, wa kana insan 'ajulah"(17:11), and men prays he does du'a for evil as he ought to have done for good. And that is because he is of a hasty nature. He wants it now and he wants it now. Allah is saying this that you are praying to Me for evil as you ought to have prayed for good. How many times have we prayed for things that were destructive for ourselves or for others? We are in a relationship we are not happy with oh Allah just kill him or just kill her. Right? Wa ud'u insan bi sharri, he prays for evil when he should have prayed for good.

Allah has put you in a situation where you are meant to learn and grow, but you have tabee'a doesn't want pain, it only wants pleasure. So I don't care what you do Allah, just fix it for me. Why? Wa kana insan 'ajula, because men is hasty, he has no patience. It is this tabee'a nature that wants things now and wants it now. To put it differently, the only people who will go to hell, Allah's mercy and compassion is so vast, the only people who will go to hell are those who get out of these chains. It is like a child whom you hold by the hand and is trying to run off and you keep pulling the child and it finally wiggles out of your hand and runs onto the road and then gets hit by a car. We do that sort of a thing to that extreme. That is how we end up in the fire of hell.

That is why that in Medina they used to be a Sufi by the name of Hasan al-Basri, who was once heard saying in his lecture. That I am not, he said, 'I am amazed at the people who make it to paradise, how they ever make it to paradise? Because of how difficult it is'. And one of these people who are listening to him were so frightened that a great Sufi like Hasan al-Basri is saying, I'm amazed that how anyone can make it to jannah. He comes running to Imam, Zain al-'Abideen, alayhi assalam, [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] and says: "Ya ibn Rasul Allah this is what Hasan al-Basri says, and the Ima tells him completely opposite. He says, no, but that is not what we the Ahl al-Bayt say. What we say is 'I am amazed that the man who ends up in hell, how does he end up in hell when Allah is so merciful, it is almost impossible to go to hell. You really have to struggle hard to go to hell. If only you listen to your Fitra.

And the first step is changing our attitude towards suffering and calamities. Accepting that suffering and calamities is very important in our evolution. The only people, my dear brothers and sisters, who don't suffer in this world are the people of hellfire. They are the people who get their share of reward and comfort and ease in this world so that there is nothing for them left in the hereafter. Otherwise, every human being that you see suffering, whether he is Muslim or non-Muslim, Allah's intention by that is to bring him towards his Fitra, to bring him towards Tawhid, to bring him towards Himself.

I shared with you another Hadith that you might find inspiring. A man comes to Rasul Allah, sallalahu alayihi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad wa ajj al-farajahum] he says, "Ya Rasul Allah, I am curious to know that at this point in time in my life, what is my relationship with Allah? What does Allah think of me? I just want to know so that if He doesn't like me, I can start fixing things, or if He likes me, I can sit back and relax a little bit like I want to know right now what does Allah think of me? Give me some way of measuring."

Now listen to this hadith. Beautiful. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, says to him, "Idha ra'ita kullama talabta shay'an min amri l-akhira wa taightahu yassara laka wa idha arbta shay'an min al-dunya wa taghaituhu asra lak 'alaik fi anta 'ala hala 'ala Hasana", when you see that you seek something of the hereafter and you desire it and you aspire for it and you struggle for it, and Allah makes it easy for you to acquire it and when you see that you desire something of this world and you struggle for it and Allah is making it difficult for you to get it, then know that He loves you.

"Wa idha ra'ita kullama talabta shay'an min amri al-akheera wa taghaitahu 'assurah 'alaika wa idha ra'ita shay'un min amri dunya wa taghaitahu yasarah laka fa anta 'ala halin kabeeh", and when you see that you are struggling and striving to get something that has to do with the hereafter, but it is made difficult for you to get, and when you seek something of this world and you hanker and run after it, the ways open up and it gets facilitated and it becomes easy, then know you are in trouble. You are walking the wrong path. You have left Allah's hand. So now you are wandering on your own. This is my words I'm explaining. I'm just giving you the the logic behind it.

How can we understand that this logic. What does it mean that Allah makes it easy for me? You see, only goodness comes from Allah. Goodness does not come from anyone else. Whether I give charity, whether I help a blind man cross the road, whether I come to the madrassa and teach, whether I volunteer in the mosque, any goodness I do essentially does not come from me. It comes from Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. We have talked about this, that the attributes of goodness belong to Allah. We merely reflect them. Now, at this point in time, Allah has seven billion human beings on this planet.

If He wants to help someone, He can help through anyone. When He helps someone through you, it is because He loves you, He chose you to help someone. That is why when someone thanks you or praises you and tells you thank you for this, the first thought that crosses your mind is that thanks and gratitude to Allah that oh Allah had you wished you have no shortage of people who could have done this. But out of all your creatures, you chose me. What good have I done to deserve this?

There is a sense of gratitude that indeed Allah did good through me. Why would Allah choose you if you did not love you? You see all of you here by the grace of Allah, I'm sure have the same brotherly love for me as I have for you. Now if I needed a favor from someone I know I could ask any one of you and you would be happy to help me. But there is a possibility that if I wanted to ask and I look around, I might pick someone who I feel I love more than anyone else on average, isn't it?

So when Allah has chosen you, that means you are special to Him. That is why you are able to do that good thing. That is why when you seek something that has to do with the hereafter, which is in its essence good, and you see the path being opened up for you and it is becoming easy for you, it is because Allah holds you special in His eyes and that is why he is using you to do that good instead of using anyone else.

Now, let's go back to our discussion on suffering. The other reason that we said suffering and calamities is important in our spiritual evolution is because sometimes we think we have made it. When life is comfortable, no one knows what they are real, what their real value and what their real ability or capacity is. We only know ourselves when we experience suffering. When life is good, even an atheist does good. I have known and heard and read of atheists who say I can do the same good that you believe in God does without believing in God. You give charity, I am a philanthropist, I have given millions in charity and I do not believe in God. I am doing good only for the sake of goodness. So what is the difference between the goodness you do and the goodness that the atheist does?

The difference is when calamities befall the way you behave in the way he behaves will be different. You believe in the hereafter, you believe you have a soul, you believe there is a Lord watching you. So when calamity befalls you, you stand with courage. The atheist does not believe life has a purpose. The atheist believes here is by accident. The atheist believe there is no value in life or life after death. The atheist believes he is just an animal. So when a lot of calamities befall him and it is too painful to bear life, he does not see the purpose of life. He commits suicide and kills himself. So you begin to see the difference only when calamities befall.

Even in Karbala and this is I am not coming to mas'ib, but in Karbala, when you read the books of Maqtal, you will see there are places where Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, looked to the heavens and said, "Oh Allah, this museeba is easier for me because I know You are watching me. In particular when his baby was hit with a spear, when Aliun al-Asghar was hit with a spear, he looked to the heavens and said, "Oh Allah, this is difficult for Husayn to bear, but it has become easier for me to bear because I know I am under Your watch and You are a witness to what I am going through".

So knowing Allah is present in our lives. Makes that difference. Suffering doesn't just bring out our true colors in the negative sense, in the sense of how bad I am or how weak I am in my faith. It also brings out the good in me. For example, we have a Hadith that says, "Man akhlasa lillahi arb'eena sabahan, jarrat yalabee'a 'l-hikma min qalbeehee ila ansanhee", whoever dedicates himself sincerely to Allah for 40 days, concentrating, focusing in his spirituality to Allah only, then springs of wisdom will burst forth from his heart and begin showing on his tongue. This is a very popular hadith. What does this tell us? This tells us that wisdom is already there in our hearts. Allah, this Hadith does not say that whoever dedicates himself for 40 days to Allah, Allah will give him wisdom. It says wisdom will burst forth from his heart out onto his tongue.

So each one of us is a sage. Each one of us is enlightened in potential, each one of us knows the truth, each one of us has wisdom, but it is latent, it is sitting, it is sleeping, it needs to be awakened. What does that 40 days of spirituality do? Fitra reigns in tabee'a. It controls how much you eat, it controls how much you sleep, it controls your remembrance of Allah, it controls your destruction with the world, your addictions, and in doing so, in that hardship. In that hardship, wisdom begins to emerge.

So hardship and suffering reveals beauty as well, it brings out good as well in us. And therefore suffering tells us who amongst us is gold, who amongst us is silver? Who amongst us is brass and copper? Who amongst us is mud? You may have heard the saying people are like tea bags. You only know their strength when you see them in hot water. Think about that for a moment. Hot water meaning calamities. That's when you you'll know how strong this tea is.

And a very similar concept comes to us in a hadith from Amir al-Mu'minin Ali ibn Talib, salawatullahi wa assalamu aleyh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad wa ajji ul-farajahum]. He says, "Fi taqallub 'l-ahwal 'uleema jawaheeru 'l-rijjal", it is in the changing of circumstances that the essence of men is revealed. When you are poor and you become rich, then your essence will show. When you are rich and you become poor, when you are healthy and you become sick, when you are ill and you become healthy, then your true colors will show. Why are you ill constantly praying to Allah when you become healthy, you forgot Him? Why are you rich when you became poor or lost your job, you despaired and lost hope? Why you poor and when you became rich, you become arrogant and miserly? So you don't know your value until circumstances change in your life, this way or that way.

And that is why, and that is a separate discussion, that in an Islamic understanding bala' or suffering or affliction is not always in the negative or in the sense of loss, sometimes health can be bala' if it takes you away from Allah. Sometimes acquiring a lot of money can be bala' if it takes you away from Allah. Anything that distances you from God is an affliction and a suffering, even if the rest of the world says it is a blessing. And anything that brings you close to Allah is a blessing, even if the rest of the world say it as an affliction and a suffering. So Alah's yardstick is very different from ours.

Now, you may have guessed by now that Fitra does not see physical suffering as a problem. Fitra sees physical suffering and calamities as simply a training ground, a learning. It is tabee'a which is only concerned with the pleasure of the body and fleeing from the pain of the body that sees suffering as a disaster. Or the ego, for example, might see it as a disaster. Now, let us take an example. A kind of suffering that we might experience. A job loss or relationship problem, you know, as an example, let us say what we suffered a heart attack, OK? We suffer a heart attack. Now, look at the difference if we are tabee'a driven and if we are Fitra driven. And there is no shame if we find ourselves that we reacted in the sense of tabee'a, because that is why we are in this world to learn. If we were meant to learn so quickly, then our average life span would have been 15, 20 years. We live different life spans and Allah gives us time because He wants us to learn. The journey is as important as arriving in jannah. So do not feel ashamed that, oh my God, I had this incident, I had a heart attack and I was totally tabee'a driven. That is fine. There will be other tests that will come your way. There will be lots of opportunities. No one will escape, until you have proved to yourself, first and foremost, what is it you want to be in the hereafter?

OK. Now if we become depressed because I had a heart attack, then that means I am tabee'a driven. Why? Because our body is our shell, we said. We are aliens in this planet. So the heart attack tells me that my shell is falling apart and the worm or the caterpillar does not want to leave the cocoon. It is comfortable there. It says, I know I'm going to die one day, but it is hoping that they will never come. Right?

Do we not hope that maybe the Day of Judgment will come before I die, right, just so that I don't experience death, just so that I do not have to live my shell, I don't have to leave my shell that just so that I don't have to leave that greenhouse. Right. I don't have to walk through the tunnel to the light to the other end. So even though tabee'a does not make any plans for the future, it is comfortable and does not want to live.

On the other hand, if I was Fitra oriented, then I would treat that heart attack is simply a reminder that time is running out, that the clock is ticking, that my alien body, my shell, is showing signs that it might not continue on, maybe for as long as I want. Now, that doesn't mean that just because you've had a heart attack, you're going to die sooner than anyone else. There have been people who have really, really looked after their health and have been health experts and have been authorities on health. And then they walk out on the ice and the slip and fall and hit their head and die. Death is not in our hands. However, if we are Fitra driven, we do not identify with the body. So any kind of calamity or suffering is simply a wake up call for us that I am running out of time.

Perhaps I am I have some habits where I waste time, I do not cherish life, I do not value this body, and now I need to become aware of it. And that is why sometimes an illness is a blessing, because our life has been moving in a manner where we were asleep and heedless. Now we value our time, now we wake up, now we change our priorities and our goals. I had mentioned to you a couple of nights back that I will talk about this hadith of Rasul Allah, salallahu 'alayhi wa alihy wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] in which he said, "Ad-dunya sijnun li mu'min, wa jannatu lil kafir", this world is a prison for the believer, for the faithful, and a paradise for the faithless.

Now, what do we understand from this hadith when we hear this, that this world is a prison for the faithful and paradise for the faithless? Let's talk about the faithful only. A lot of people interpret this to mean that it is a prison for the faithful, because we have to we are restricted with the laws of halal and haram. The faithless can do as he pleases, I cannot. There are so many things the faithless does I would love to enjoy, but it's haram for me. The faithless gets to sleep in the morning, I have to get up and pray salat, it's hardship. So it is a prison because I endure the hardship of halal and harame. But that is not true for a mu'min because the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, did not say adunya sijnu lil Muslim, he said adunya sijnun lil mu'min.

For a mu'min, obedience to Allah is a pleasure, it's an honor, he loves his salat, he loves fasting, he loves doing halal, he is disgusted by haram. So he does not feel he is imprisoned by having to do halal and keeping away from haram. What is the other understanding? The other understanding is, well, the faithful suffer afflictions in this world, but afflictions is suffering only for one tabee'a driven, for I mu'min, afflictions is a blessing, it's a gift from Allah. It is a reminder, every time he suffers, he turns to Allah in supplication. So that cannot be the explanation.

The only explanation you will find, is the literal meaning that a mu'min's soul is caged in this body, whereas he wishes to fly free and transcend and soar in the heavens in the mallakuta samawat. And that is why by choice, a mu'min would always want to be in the next world, he stays here for as long as he needs to either develop his soul or to help others develop their soul. And as soon as we have attained perfection, Allah does not want us to suffer meaninglessly. As soon as we have accepted and embraced suffering as not being evil and we have purified and grown our wings, then Allah will do one of two things.

He will either take us away from this world and we will not want to come back, or He will keep us if he wants to use us to help others grow their wings. But other than this, there is really no place or room or purpose or joy or pleasure for a mu'min to abide in this plane of existence. And that is why some scholars say that Allah, out of his mercy, has intentionally hidden paradise from us, because if we could see paradise, it is so beautiful that our souls would not be able to remain in the body.

So we see this world and we are mesmerized by it. But in reality, it is just shadows, illusions, it is not even a tip of the iceberg compared to the real world. It is like a fetus in the womb of its mother thinking it is in paradise and wanting the pleasures of the womb with absolutely no idea of what this world is like. The difference is like that, and even vaster. When you go from this world, when you come out of your body, you will sense your soul will feel like you have come out from a dark, dark world, like you have come out from a confined womb into an open world filled with light and magnificence.

That is the difference between this world. And that is Allah keep saying, "Wa akhiratu khairu wa abqa', baltu ithruna hayat al-dunya"(86:16) you prefer the life of this world. Wa akhiratu khairu wa abqa' (86:17), the hereafter is far, far better, and it is everlasting. Now. So we need to transcend suffering and we need to look at life and death very differently. And we begin by seeing ourselves in an alien body and seeing that our our assets are in the hereafter, not in this world, and everything we possess, we need to look at it from that perspective.

I have wealth in this world, it is just lying in the bank when I die, my heirs will take it. How can I take this world in the hereafter? I use it for khairat I give it in the name of Imam Husayn, I give it in charity, I help an orphan. By doing so, I transfer it to the hereafter, that's where I want my assets. On the Day of Judgment, I don't want to give accounting for my wealth and stand under the hot sun so Imam Ali, alayhi assalam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] He says, "If you don't want to carry all this burden with you on the Day of Judgment and stand there for a long time giving accounts for the millions you have, get someone else to carry the burden for you." How? Give it in a good cause, give it to charity. They will carry it, you will take it on the other end.

So we have to have this perspective that when I give for the hereafter, I'm not losing, I'm gaining. Apparently, and this is something I just read, I don't know if how true it is, but Steve Jobs, the the Apple founder who was battling cancer and died very recently, apparently, he said "Remembering you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you've got something to lose." Now, he was talking from obviously maybe from a business or corporate perspective that if you don't want to worry that you've got something to lose, and this may have happened after he was diagnosed with cancer and he was battling it, he was sharing his wisdom and saying that if you want to have this attitude that you've got nothing to lose in your goals and careers in life, always remember you're going to die one day.

I'm modifying that saying, I want to modify that saying and put it differently and say: the only way to overcome the fear of death is to convince yourself or to be convinced that you have got nothing to lose. The only way to overcome the fear of death is to be convinced you've got nothing to lose. But this will not happen by simply sitting at home and saying, I've got nothing to lose, I've got nothing to lose. You have to work at it.

If you can bring yourself to to a status where you are convinced I have got nothing to lose because I have built my hereafterow, n, there is no reason to fear death, that will automatically take you to Fitra. And if we don't, we will still have to surrender this body at death, but now it will be a panic, it will be a soul being pulled out violently from the body. The ego will say, I don't want to die. The worm will say, I don't want to leave the cocoon. But my malik al-mawt will come with the surgical blade. He will cut open the cocoon and say it's time to leave, whether you grew your wings or you did not grow your wings. At that point we will try to pretend we have wings, but there won't be any wings because we cannot fly if we have never grown something.

And Allah shows us this in Qur'an that when you die you will not deny the truth. So you might as well acknowledge it now and work for it. In Yunus, chapter 10 of the Qur'an verse 90 and 91, he talks of the time when the Pharaoh or Fira'wun is drowning. "Hatta idha adhrakhu 'l-gharku, qala amantu annahu la ilaha illa alladhe amanat bihi Banu Isra'il" (10:90). Until when Fira'wun was drowning, he began saying, I believe now that there is no god except the One in whom the Banu Isra'il believe. "Wa ana min al-muslimeen" (10:90), and I am the first to submit. I am from the muslimeen. He used to call himself god. He used to say "Ana rabbakum wa 'ala!. Now he says, "ana min al-muslimeen". Allah answers Fira'wun, "Al'an?"now? Now? In other words, you can't you can fool everyone, you cannot fool yourself and you cannot fool Allah.

"Al'an wa qad 'asaita qablu wa kunta min al-mufsideen" (10:91). Now, after all the transgressions you did, after your absolute refusal to develop your wings and you are a mischief maker. You are a worm, so now saying la ilaha illa Allah, how will you become a caterpillar? And history repeats itself, we don't have to think Fira'wun lived thousands of years ago. Do you remember what Saddam was saying when he was being hung? You must have seen it on YouTube. Somebody had a cell phone there while they were putting the noose around his neck. He was saying, "La ilaha illa Allah, la ilaha illa Allah, la ilaha illa Allah". He poisoned rivers. He killed countless of Shi'as. And now when is, and still there are some I don't know what to call them, ignorami or whatever, who say he died shaheed, because when he was dying, you were saying, la ilaha illa Allah. Exactly like Fira'wun, he didn't say "Muhammadan Rasul Allah", go watch the video. He only said, la ilaha illa Allah, la ilaha illa Allah. Look at Gaddafi.

And Allah, look at it. Makaru, wa makr Allah. Wa Alla khair al-maka'reen. Saddam killed Sayyid Baqir al-Sadr, Gaddafi, killed Musa Sadr. When you kill a man of Fitra, Allah, you see, you can't escape from Allah. So that is why there is a saying inna Allaha yumhilu wa la yumilu, Allah grants respite, but he does not forget. He's not in a hurry, if you wrong me, I want to get you and avenge myself as soon as possible because you might disappear, you might run away, you might change your identity. Allah is not in a hurry. Take 20 years, 30 years, 40 years. Where will you run?

Gaddafi read, when they caught him and Saddam for all his pomp and whatever, when it came to tabee'a, when it came to that animal instinct, he was hiding in a rat hole. Gaddafi was hiding in a sewage pipe. When they pulled him out, read the accounts as they were taking him away, he was bargaining with them because he had looted the country and taken all the wealth out. And the account said that the people who captured him, he was saying to them, Do you want gold? I have lots of gold. I have millions of dollars. I just have to make one phone call. Just let me go, I will give you all the gold you want.

And we read in Qur'an that on the Day of Judgment, if a person could, he would ransom himself with the whole world and gold if he could. It is also there in the Munajat of Imam Ali, alayhi assalam. So we are seeing these examples right here that if we live the life of a worm, we will die like a worm begging not to be taken out of the cocoon. We will either die begging not to be taken out of this cocoon like Gaddafi, or we will pretend to have wings like Saddam and say, la ilaha illa Allah, la ilaha illa Allah. But at that point, Allah will say to us,"Al'an wa qad 'asaita qablu wa kunta min al-mufsideen" (10:91)

So this is very, very important that we do not neglect this idea of struggling towards Allah, Subhana Wa Ta'ala. If you can recite salawat 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajji 'l-farajahum] Another salawat 'ala Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajji 'l-farajahum]. There was a lot more that I wanted to cover tonight, but tomorrow night as well, we will continue on the same subject of the pain and suffering of becoming a butterfly. So InshaAllah, we will try and cover that. I think this is enough for tonight as a preamble to the subject of suffering and pain towards our spiritual evolution. Let's stop here Inshaallah and then we continue tomorrow night. Another salawat 'ala Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad, wa ajji 'l-farajahum].

Tonight is the seventh night of Muharram. And we are drawing closer to the day of Ashura. Last night, we began paying our respects to the children of Zahra, alayha assalam, who sacrificed their lives in Karbala, and these are individuals who are hand-picked. Tonight, we want to remember a young man who truly had transcended the fear of death. Because when Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam asked him "Oh Qasim kaifa al-mawt 'andak? how is death to you?" He said, "Ahalla' min al-'asal, it is sweeter than honey." You will not find a 13 year old saying that, they might say it if they're not facing death, but they will not say it when they see the swords in front of them. And we often think of Qasim as the yateem of Hasan, as the orphan of Hasan. But the books of tradition tell us that Imam Hasan actually had many sons in Karbala. Some of the rewayat say he had five sons in Karbala. Some say he had six. And I even read seven. Out of which all of them sacrificed their lives in Karbala. One of them was injured and he survived. And he is known in history as Hasan Al-Muthanna, but all the others sacrificed their lives for Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam.

Why do we remember Qasim in particular? This 13 year old? One of the reasons we remember Qasim is because Qasim was a look-alike of Imam Hasan, alayhi asalam. He was shabih of Hasan. And that is why you will hear many of the arbab of 'aza' say, that in Karbala, all the Ahl al-Kisa' were present. Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, of course, was there himself. Aliun al-Akbar was an absolute look alike of the Messenger of Allah. Abu Fadhl al-Abbas was there representing Amir al-Mu'aminin, alayhi assalam. Zaynab, alayha assalam, is, of course, there to represent her mother, Zahra', alayha assalam, and Qasim is there to represent his father. He is the absolute look alike of Imam Hasan, alayhi assalam.

We are told that on the night of 'Ashura, when Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, had told all his companions that tomorrow all of you will be martyred and none of you will survive, Qasim came running to his uncle and said, 'Ya 'amma, wa ana min ma uqtal ghadal? Will I also be one of those who will be killed tomorrow?" This was not a question out of fear, this was a question out of desire. He's asking, will I also have the honor of being martyred tomorrow? And Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, does not answer him straightaway. He does not say yes Qasim. He asks him "Oh Qasim, tell me, what is death to you? How do you see mawt?" And it is at this point that Qasim said, "Ahalla' min al-'asal, it is sweeter than death. But Qasim still wanted to know, "Tell me Aba 'Abdillah, tell me, my uncle will I also be martyred?" And again, Husayn does not tell him yes.

He tells him "Oh Qasim, even my youngest child, Aliun al-Asghar, will be martyred tomorrow. At which point we are told Qasim looked surprised. He asked, "Ya 'amma, will the enemies actually come into our tent to kill Aliun al-Asghar?" And Husayn says to him, "No Qasim, I will take 'Aliun al-Asghar to the planes, I will take him out and they will shoot him with an arrow. And Qasim was crying, we are told, on the night of Ashura for this. Perhaps Husayn did not want to tell Qasim that they will not come into the tent, but they will burn the tents, oh Qasim.

Ajrakum 'ala Allah. The day of Ashura came. One by one the Shuhada begin going to the badhain, to the battlefield. The Ashab went, Aliun Akbar went, Qasim kept coming to Husayn, asking him for permission Ya 'Amma, permit me to go for jihad, permit me to go to the Maidan and the books of 'aza say that Qasim was kissing the feet of Husayn and kissing the hands of his uncle.

Ya 'Amma please let me go for jihad. And Husayn would absolutely not allow Qasim, "No Qasim, you are the shabee of my brother, you will not go for jihad." When Qasim despaired of this, he came to his mother Farwa and said to his mother that my uncle will not allow me to go. And Umm Farwa, we are told of Farwa we are told, at this point remembers that Imam Hasan, alayhi asalam, had written a ta'weedh. Had written in Amulet for Qasim and had said to Farwa that when you are faced with extreme difficulty, open this ta'weedh, you will find a solution to the problem. They open together, mother and son, and in there are two letters, one for Qasim and one for Husayn.

The letter to Qasim from Imam Hasan through time is, "Oh Qasim, I will not be in Karbala. You are my representative, oh Qasim. Do not spare your life when your uncle is faced with enemies. Qasim is overjoyed. He takes the second letter to Husayn. He comes to his uncle and says to his uncle, "I have a letter to you from my father, Hasan." Husayn. Can we imagine when Husayn sees the handwriting of his brother Hasan, "Oh Husayn, do not stop Qasim on the day of Ashura." Oh Aba 'Abdillah, it was Hasan who had said to Husayn, "La yawmu ka yawmuka ya Aba Abdillah", your day is very special oh Husayn, do not stop Qasim." When Husayn realized that Qasim must go, the books of 'aza say this, that nephew and uncle, Husayn and Qasim, they hugged each other and they wept so much, they worked so much that the books of 'aza said they became unconscious.

This is how Husayn loved Qasism. When they came to Husayn, said to Qasim, "Go to your mother, go to your Aunt Zaynab, take permission from them." Qasim, come to the women. Farwa took her son to all the women for Wida'. It was as if she was taking a bridegroom to all the women saying, My Qasim is going for jihad." When Qasim came out, again the books of maqtal tell us, Husayn opened a box of tabrrukat, he opened the sanduq of the tabrrukat. He took out a white cloth, then he ripped it in two, then he made an amama for Qasim with one and he put the other one on the chest of Qasim. My dear brothers and sisters, do you know when we rip a white cloth? Do you know when we do not cut a white cloth with scissors? We do this only when we are preparing the coffin for someone. Husayn is putting kafan on Qasim. Perhaps he knows that this Qasim will be trampled.

So Husayn dressed as his Qasim up. Husayn and I read again in the books of 'aza'. There are only, when Qasim is ready to leave, Qasim, because of his age, because he does not have the height, Husayn himself lifts Qasim and puts him on the horse. Qasim is going towards the Maydan. When Qasim looks back, he is looking at his mother as he is leaving. In the books of 'aza' we are told there are two of the martyrs in Karbala, there are two martyrs in Karbala that when they went to the Maydan, their mothers were standing by the tent and watching them go.

One was 'Aliyun al-Asghar. When Husayn 'Aliyun al-Asghar for water, Rabab was standing and watching whether that her son will get in the water. The other was Qasim. When Qasim went for jihad, Farwa stood by the tent waiting for her son. Qasim went out into the battlefield. He began reciting his rajiziq "Intakurnee fa ana ibnul Hasan sibt Al-Mustafa al-mu'tamin". 'If you do not know me, than know me, I am the son of Hasan, I am the grandson of Rasul Allah'. Hamid ibnul Muslim says, "By Allah, when Qasim came into the Maydan, it was as if we were in the dark night and suddenly from within the clouds, a full moon came out." "ka'nna shakkatu al-qamarah ja'ara fil Maydan". It was as if a full moon had come. This is how brilliant and how handsome this child was. Qasim came into the Maydan.

'Omar ibnal Sa'id said to one of his champions called Azraq al-Shami, "Oh Azraq to go and fight this boy. Azraq saw himself a champion. He said, "It is beneath me to fight such a young boy." He sent one of his sons to fight Qasim. Qasim sent him to jahannam. Azraq sent another son. Qasim sent him to jahannam. He sent a third one. He sent a fourth one. When Qasim killed all the sons of Azraq, Azraq stood in rage, he said, "By Allah, I will kill this boy." When Azraq came with rage, Husayn may have raised his hands and said, "Rabbana, I will carry the pieces of Qasim, but let know Azraq killed my Qasim in single combat. Qasim killed Azraq as well.

Hamid ibnul Muslim says, I was sitting beside the men called Umar ibinul Sa'ad bin Nufael. He stood up now and said, "By Allah, I will kill this young boy." Everyone wants to kill Qasim. Hamid ibn al-Muslim says, I asked this man, "Why do you want to kill this boy? He is so young. He's so handsome, by Allah if you came towards me and attacked me, I would not kill him." 'Amr ibn al-Sa'ad replies. He says, "I want to kill him to hurt Husayn.By Allah I will hit him with such force that Husayn can feel the force on his chest". Amr ibn al'Sa'd comes, Hamid ibn al-Muslim says, "That Qasim while fighting in the Maydan, one of the straps on his left sandal broke. Qasim bent down while on his horse to tie his strap on the sandla. While Qasim was trying to strip. 'Amr ibn Sa'ad, this coward came from behind, he took a rod an iron rod and hit Qasim with such force on his back that the books of 'aza say he broke the spine of Qasim.

When Qasim fell from the horse, he began crying, well, "Wa 'Amma adriknee, wa 'Amma adriknee, wa 'Amma adriknee. Now the books of 'aza say, Husayn rose like a raging lion, Husayn swooped down the enemies like an eagle, Husayn came rushing towards the Maydan, when the enemies saw Husayn coming, the horses on the right began running to the left, those mysar began running to mai'mana. As the horses ran to begin tampering with trampling on the body of Qasim. Qasim was calling out, "Wa 'Amma idhriknee, Wa 'Amma idhriknee."

Hamid ibn al-Muslim says, "Every shaheed who fell called Husayn only once, Hurr fell he called: assalamu 'alayka ya Aba 'Abdillah. Habib fell, he said,assalamu 'alayka ya Aba 'Abdillah, Abbass fell he said, Ya akha adrik akha. Akbar fell, did not even call Husayn. He said, 'alayka minni assalam ya abata. But he says when Qasim fell, he kept calling again and again, Wa 'Amma adhriknee, wa 'Amma adhriknee. My uncle come and rescue me, my uncle come and help me. Why, why was Qasim calling again and again. He says, Because, Qasim was the only shaheed who was trampled while he was alive. Everytime the hooves of the horses would break his ribs or crushed his bones qasim,, with the voice he had left was calling out, Wa 'Amma idhriknee, come to my help my uncle. Husayn kept calling out, wa Qasim. Hamid ibn al-Muslim says there was a cloud of dust. Husayn could not find his Qasim. When Husayn finally, when the dust settled, who Qasim's basbee left his body. Husayn came to the body of Qasim, Husayn came and sat beside Qasim.

Husayn said two things to Qasim, he said, 'Aza walla 'ala 'ammika anta da'oo fala ugeebuk. Oh Qasim, oh Qasim, if only you knew how difficult it is for Husayn, that you kept calling me and was not able to come to you. Aougeebu kara yenfo'uk. Or that when he came to you he was not of any help to you. Hamid ibn al-Muslim says, now I saw Husayn trying to carry the body of Qasim, he hugged his Qasim first.

Then he took the broken arm of Qasim his right arm and put it under his right arm. Then he put Qasim's shattered left arm on his left arm. Then he carried Qasim and began walking towards the khaiyam. Hamid ibn al-Muslim says, this young boy, who, when you sit on horse, his feet could not touch the stirrups. When Husayn has taken Qasim's body back Qasim's leg was dragging on the hot sands Karbala. Zaynab took hold of Farwa and brought around. Come oh Farwa, Qasim has come. Come over while your son has come back. The women began doing matam, wa walada la kuwata maseera, wa kurbata. Husayn placed the body of Qasim next to the body of Akbar. He sat between his two sons. He put one hand on the chest of Akbar and one on the chest of Qasim, he looked towards the heavens and cried, "My Lord, Husayn has lost all his sons, wa Husayna, wa kurbata wa madhluma. Matam al-Husayn.