Philosophy Of Ghaybah 2/14 - Theological Reasons For Ghaybah

A'uzubillahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Bismillahir Rehmanin Rahim. Alhamdu lillaahi Rabbil 'aalameen, Al-Hamdulillahil lazee hadaanaa lihaaza wa maa kunna linahtadiya law laaa ann hadaanal laahu, wassalaato wassalamo 'ala ashrafil anbiyai wal mursaleen, khaatimin nabiyeen, sayedinil mumajjad, basheerinil musaddaq, al-mustafal amjad mahmudil ahmad, abil Qasimi Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. Wa 'ala ahle baytihit-tayyibeen at-tahireenal ma'soomeen wa la'natullahi 'aladh-dhalimeen minal-awwaleena wal akhireen. Amma baad, faqad qaalallahu subhanahu wa ta'ala fi Kitabihil Majeed wa Furqanihil Hameed wa qawlohul haqq.

وَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمْ كِتَٰبٌ مِّنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُوا۟ مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُم مَّا عَرَفُوا۟ كَفَرُوا۟ بِهِۦ ۚ فَلَعْنَةُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَى ٱلْكَٰفِرِينَ

Bismillahir Rahmanin Raheem, Wa lammaa jaaa'ahum Kitaabum min 'indil laahi musaddiqul limaa ma'ahum wa kaanoo min qablu yastaftihoona 'alal ladheena kafaroo falammaa jaaa'ahum maa 'arafoo kafaroo bih; fala 'natul laahi 'alal kaafireen.(2:89) Aamanallah billah. Sadaqallahul Aliyul Azeem. [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

Awaited saviour of humanity, Imam Mahdi, alayhi assalam, my respected teachers, elders, brothers and sisters, Salam 'alaikum jamee'un wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh [wa aleykum assalam, wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu]. Welcome to the second discussion of our series, the Philosophy of the Ghayba of the Awaited Savior of Humanity Imam al-Mahdi, 'ajjalallahu ta'ala faraja shareef [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

Yesterday we began our series with this verse that we have mentioned from Suratul Baqarah, chapter number two of the Holy Quran verse number 89. It is the archetype or the verse which is the archetype of our series for in there gives us the reasoning as to how we are to prepare correctly for the coming of our Imam, alayhi assalaam. And we spoke yesterday about this verse and what this series will entail. And we also left some homework for the crowd to do yesterday.

So just as a quick recap of what we spoke about yesterday, InshaAllah. The verse is from Suratul Baqarah, verse 89. Allah Subhanah wa Ta'ala in this verse, describes the situation of the Jewish community of Madina at the time of the heralding of Rasul Allah Muhammad sallal-lahu alayhi wa alii wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

And we stated that amongst the reasons for revealing so many ayaat about Banu Israel or the Jewish community at the time of Rasul Allah was for you and I, as a Muslim community, to understand what that community had gone through; the successes, the failures and ultimately the pitfalls, the ways in which that community fell short so that you and I as Muslims or the Muslim Ummah or indeed as the Shia Ummah would pay heed to those mistakes of the previous communities and not fall into those very same pitfalls.

Hence this verse, although speaking about the Jewish community of Madina, the reality is this is not just a historical citation. This is a verse for you and I to apply into our own time. What does the verse say? Bismillahi, ar-rahmani ar-rahim. 'Wa lammaa jaaa'ahum Kitaabum min 'indil laahi musaddiqul limaa ma'ahum'(2:89), "and there came to you, the Jewish community of Madina, a book, the Qur'an, verifying that which you already had with you". Meaning that the Qur'an was to reiterate many of the messages that were already present within the Taurat and particularly in the Taurat, or particularly at that time, our understanding is that the Jewish community were aware of a prophet due to come to be their savior.

This, of course, was to be Rasul Allah Mohammed Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alii wa sallam 'Wa [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] "kaanoo min qablu yastaftihoona 'alal lazeena kafaroo" (2:89), "and since a long time, you the Jewish community, have sought, prayed, for victory over those people who disbelieve". This part of the verse describes that when the Jewish community moved to the areas of Madina and the surroundings of Madina in order to prepare themselves for the coming of Rasul Allah, they would end up in wars with the pagan community of Arabia. And they would pray to God Almighty to grant them victory. The narrations and the commentators tell us that when the Jewish community of Madina and the outskirts went to war with the pagans, they would pray to God specifically in the name of Rasul Allah. They would say, 'Oh, Allah grant us victory over the pagans, bahaqqe Muhammadin', for example, and of that nature.

The Quran cites this - from a long time ago, you used to seek victory over the disbelievers, but 'Falammaa jaaa'ahum maa 'arafoo kafaroo bih' (2:89) "when that prophet came to you in Madina, maa 'arafoo kafaroo bih, you did not have ma'rifa of him, you did not recognize him and you rejected, you belied him". The conclusion of this verse, fala 'natul laahi 'alal kaafireen - Allah's curse falls, descends upon the disbelievers.

The message or the lesson for you and I in this verse is not to point at the Jewish community of Madina and ridicule or to think that we are better than them by virtue of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala citing this verse. The lesson inherent therein is for you and I not to fall into the same pitfalls of what occurred with the Jewish community of Madina. We, just like the Jewish community of Madina, pray for the coming of our savior. We prepare ourselves for the coming of our savior. When incidents occur around the world, for example, today with ISIS, we pray to Allah Subhaanah wa Ta'ala, for victory over them bi haqqi Imam al-Mahdi, alayhi assalaam.

In these ways, we are similar to the Jewish community of Madina. We know our Imam at a very apparent level. We know his lineage, we know his name. We know what day he's going to come. We even know what city he's going to come to. In these ways, we can be very easily juxtaposed with the Jewish community of Madina. The lesson is not to fall into the trap: falammaa jaaa'ahum maa 'arafoo kafaroo bih - that when he comes, we should have genuine insight into who this individual is, what he truly stands for, his personality, the truest form of his mission so that we do not reject him the same way the Jewish community of Madina rejected their prophet and savior when he came to them.

And so our series is to understand this awaited savior correctly, to understand him in light of the world that we see today. The incidents that occur in front of our eyes today so that we understand him correctly. Yesterday, we gave homework to those who are here and listening online. We're not going to complete this homework tonight. This will be one of the crescendos InshaAllah of our discussion. Yet, the question I left you with was 'How does one individual bring justice and liberation to an entire world? At the realest level, how does he do it? How does an individual liberate a global community of different ideologies so diametrically opposed, cultures, countries, seven and a half billion people, that one day, God willing, will recognize this individual as a human savior and as a guide for them all? Do you and I believe in the perfect society? Do I believe that the Imam, when he comes, will use a sword? Will he use social media? How will he use the institutions that are present today if he were to come this Friday?

And when we begin to truly ponder upon such questions, InshaAllah, we will demystify that gap between us and the awaited savior. Instead of him being an individual that is present in our minds but very separate from our reality, InshaAllah, we will understand him better and make him real in the world that we see today and have him in our hearts so that wherever we are, we walk alongside with the Imam of our time Imam al-Mahdi - 'ajjalallahu ta'ala faraja shareef - [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]

Our series will focus on this:, we will talk much about what is happening in the world, the refugees and the displaced. We will talk about ISIS and their history. We will talk about politics. We will talk about how the Qur'an describes the mission. And ultimately, we gave a narration yesterday that we are going to constantly refer to in the coming nights. And that is the tradition of our sixth Imam, alayhi assalaam, who states, 'Al-Mahdi yasn'u kama san'a Rasul Allah, sallallahu alayhi wa alihi wasallam,'- al-Mahdi acts just as Rasul Allah acted.

If I truly have fathomed the mission and movement of Rasul Allah, I will be able to apply that to the awaited saviour today and Inshallah, that will make much of our discussion. Here we will now take the subject into a different area and begin our series proper and the series is entitled 'The Philosophy of Ghayba'. What we will do this evening InshaAllah is try to understand the theology of the ghayba, the occultation. Here, there are two different words being used to describe the occultation of the awaited saviour of humanity.

What is the difference between theology and philosophy? And if we can correctly understand the theology of ghayba, does that differ in any way in regards to the philosophy of ghayba in itself? Why does Allah Subhanah wa Ta'ala choose this method as the way to bring about the saviour of humanity? Why not have him present now? Why not have him in front of the eyes of the world? Why not have him in media interviews on Fox? Well, not Fox! But why not have him present today? Why not be present in the United Nations? Why choose ghayba?

Of course, in the wisdom of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, everything He does is utmost perfection. There is no way to constitute Him as other than that. And so ghayba must be the perfect way to ensure the world arrives at a point where it can behold its own awaited savior; for had He, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, chosen any other format for the awaited savior of humanity, that would have been the best option for humanity. But He chose ghayba. He chose twelve hundred years. He chose for him to be born as a child. He chose for us yet today, in 2015, to be awaiting this individual. It's very interesting because first and foremost, the Imam of our time is the only representative of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala from Adam, alayhi assalaam, till now, who will govern the entirety of the world.

Even if you say Dhul Qarnain, alayhi assalaam, Alexander the Great, conquered half the world - if you agree with that, it is still only half the world, whereas our Imam governs the entirety of the world. We will also know that previously in Islam there have been people who have claimed to be Mahdi or others have stated that individuals are Mahdi. And so within Islam, there's always been that fervor, that knowledge that an individual will come and rule and govern justly over the world.

He has been present in our history and in our minds. Surely when you look at the world today, the destruction, the poverty, the oppression, surely now, today, there is no time better than today for Mahdi, salamullah alaih, to come and appear. Why keep him in ghayba for so long? Why is he not present? And why is it maybe he may not come for another 1200 years?

Here we have to ask the question: why is there ghayba in the first place? There are theological reasonings and there are philosophical reasons. The question that should be bubbling in our mind is, well, what's the difference between theology and philosophy? How do they differ? And how might it really impact the way in which we understand the ghayba in itself.

At a very elementary level, and there are people present here who will be far more acquainted with philosophy than me, but at the very elementary level, the way we can explain the difference between theology and philosophy, is this: your theology are your belief systems that have been given to you by your texts that you believe in or by the scholars that you uphold. So, for example, you will say, how do I believe in God? How do I believe in the Day of Judgment - in which ways will this event unfold? How do I understand infallibility of the prophets? Your theology, your aqaaid is what is given to you by the Qur'an, by the ahadeeth and what is given to you by the scholars. Meaning that when the Quran tells you X, you are obliged to believe in X. If we verify and authenticate a tradition of the Aimma - salamullah alaihim ajma'een, you and I are obliged to believe in that.

There is no diversification - we can interpret and reinterpret, but principally your theology is what is given to you by something or by somebody, normally by a higher authority. Your philosophy, however, is different. It may be that your philosophy agrees with parts of your theology, but your philosophy will not necessarily be given to you in the same way that it has been given to you by your theology. It may be that we find our philosophy in those very same texts, but our philosophy allows us to arrive at conclusions that may be outside of what your theology tells you.

And so when we open up our mind and begin to question and think freely outside of the barriers that had been given to you by virtue of the text alone, you and I may arrive at certain suppositions or conclusions that will build a philosophical thought process. And from those suppositions, we will be able to extract ideas and interpret events and interpret texts in line with those sorts of thoughts. Now, at this point, it is very vague. At this point, it is very conceptual.

We will go into this into some depth InshaAllah and it will become more evident as to what we mean by your theology and by your philosophy. This evening Inshallah, we will look at the theology of the ghayba - meaning those reasonings for the ghayba that are given to you by the Qur'an or given to you by the ahadeeth. The fact that they are verified or we believe in them tells us that these are the reasonings for the ghayba.

The philosophy would ask different questions. It would say, fine, you're going to give me these four reasons for the theology of the ghayba. But can we think beyond these terms? Are these four final and the only reasonings for the ghayba? Or when we begin to analyze the texts themselves, do they point to something different from within the text?

Here we're going to analyze the four reasonings for the ghayba, according to your theology: what will be given to you in your books of theology, in your madressa manuals, when you hear from the pulpit. And tomorrow, InshaAllah, we will begin to open up this discourse in a very wide, diverse way.

There are four reasons for the ghayba - why Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala has decided to take the Imam, alayhi assalaam, away from our eyes. The four are as follows: the first one is stated to be the fear of the Imam, alayhi assalaam, from murder, number one. Number two, a second reason is the Imam does not give allegiance to any tyrannical individual or tyrannical government. Number three, it is a test upon the Shia; the ghayba is a test upon you and I - the fact that he is not present in front of our eyes. And number four, it is because of the sins of the Shia that he is in such a lengthy ghayba - when our sinning reduces, then he will return. This is what is presented to us in our theology.

Let us go into these four into some depth InshaAllah for this evening and try to discuss them further. And then we will pose certain questions that will philosophically challenge these notions - not that we don't believe in them, we agree with them - but are those the entirety of the reasons for the ghayba itself, that the texts tell you and I?

What was the first one? [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad] The first reason, according to our texts, meaning if you pick up any book from our school of thought, with our ahadeeth, you will find these four reasonings. The first one is out of fear. This comes to us from a narration from our seventh Imam, Imam Musa al-Kadhim, salawatullah wa salamuhu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. The Imam in a short tradition says that the 'Qaim from Aali Muhammad will liberate this world'. What will he do? Bring justice, just as there is injustice prevalent in this world. A very famous and often narrated tradition. At the end of this tradition, he specifies, 'and he will', meaning predictive, 'he will go into ghayba out of fear for his own life'. Now, what does this mean theologically? What do we mean when the Imam goes into ghayba?

Well, we believing in the perfection and immaculate nature of the awaited savior and all of our aimma, salamullah alaihim ajma'een . We would say that the Imam surely can't fear anything. Think about this very closely. Did Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, fear on the day of Ashura? No. If you and I or any of those individuals fighting against ISIS today on the battlefield, may Allah grant them swift victory, if they are on the battlefield, do they fear ISIS? They don't. They don't fear the enemies. Maybe if you were to go onto that battlefield in order to fight ISIS, you would not fear either. If you do not fear, if Imam Husayn, alayhi assalam, did not fear, how can we attribute fear to the Imam of our time and that he goes into ghayba by virtue of being afraid of murder and being killed?

Of course, being people of the Thaqalayn, people who believe in the two weighty things, the Qur'an and the sunnah of the Ahlul Bayt, salamullah alaih ajma'een, you and I are required to ask, what does the Qur'an say about fear first? We translate this discussion not through our own thoughts. We ask, what does the Qur'an say about fear? There are many verses in the Qur'an about individuals fearing and just to mention three of them in order to see whether the Imam of our time actually fears or whether we need to understand this hadeeth correctly in a different way.

As an example, in Chapter number five, Suratul Maida, verse number 44, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tells us: 'Falaa takhshawun naasa wakhshawni,'(5:44) - 'do not fear people, fear Me'. Do not fear their reprisal, do not fear their backbiting, do not fear that they will put you into poverty. Do not fear that they will put you into chains. Do not fear people, fear Me. The fact that Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta'ala says fear Me, we find here that Imam, alayhi assalaam, can do none other than fear Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. The second verse or the next two verses are specifically around the Prophet Musa, alayhi assalam), and speak about the events of how Musa, alayhi assalam, began his movement against Fir'awn. Of course, here we juxtapose this because Mahdi, salamullah alayh, will fight the Fir'awns of his own time.

And so we go back into the story of Musa, alayhi assalam, to see whether Musa alayhi assalam feared or he didn't fear. Here, in Chapter number 26, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala says in verses nine till around thirteen - let us read them and see what Musa alayhi assalam says about fear.

وَاِذۡ نَادٰى رَبُّكَ مُوۡسٰۤى اَنِ ائۡتِ الۡقَوۡمَ الظّٰلِمِيۡنَۙ‏ Wa idh naadaa Rabbuka Moosaaa ani'-til qawm adh-sdhaalimeen ,' (26:10)- 'And when your Lord called out to Musa and said, "go to the communities or the oppressive communities"'.

قَوۡمَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ​ؕ اَلَا يَتَّقُوۡنَ 'Qawma Fir'awn; alaa yattaqoon',(26:11) - "Go to which community? Go to Fir'awn's community, does he not have God consciousness? Do they not fear Allah" Subhanahu wa Ta'ala - 'alaa yattaqoon'. Musa, alayhi assalam, responds,

قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّىۡۤ اَخَافُ اَنۡ يُّكَذِّبُوۡنِؕ 'Qaala Rabbi inneee akhaafu ai yukazziboon,' (26:12)- 'My Lord, I fear that they should reject me'. Now, does Musa, alayhi assalam, actually fear as in is he afraid? Is he trembling, saying, 'My Lord, they will reject me.' He's not saying that, is he? It's figurative. That's the way we use language. If I call you or i call the Mukhi, and I say, 'I fear I'm running a little bit late. I went out to the mall and I got so distracted in my shopping that I fear I will come to the majlis late.' But the reality is, I mean it figuratively. In the same way he says, I fear I will be rejected. Qaala Rabbi inneee akhaafu ai yukazziboon - I fear I will be rejected.

وَيَضِيۡقُ صَدۡرِىۡ وَلَا يَنۡطَلِقُ لِسَانِىۡ فَاَرۡسِلۡ اِلٰى هٰرُوۡنَ‏  'Wa yadheequ sadree,'(26:13)- my heart becomes closed, 'wa laa yantaliqu lisaanee',(26:13) - 'and I do not have clarity of expression'. As we know Musa alayhi assalam, according to the narration, had burnt his tongue when he was young. 'Fa arsil ilaa Haaroon,' (26:13)- 'and send with me, my brother Haroon'. 'Wa lahum 'alaiya zambun fa akhaafu ai yaqtuloon',(26:14) - 'they have a crime against me and I fear that I shall be killed'.

Here, when Musa alayhi assalam says, 'I fear I shall be killed', our theology, our belief system says to us that he doesn't fear being killed. He doesn't fear the sword or being killed and becoming a martyr. So here we'll come back to this and explain it. But see how the Qur'an speaks about fear of Musa, alayhi assalam. Another verse, this time one chapter later, in Chapter number twenty seven, verse number 9, Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta'ala this time says something slightly different. And interestingly, He actually speaks now about His response to Musa alayhi assalam. He now says how He will respond to the statement of Musa (as).

He says, يٰمُوۡسٰۤى اِنَّـهٗۤ اَنَا اللّٰهُ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُۙ‏ 'Yaa Moosaaa innahooo Anal laahul 'Azeezul Hakeem,' (27:9) Musa, know that I am Allah, Jalla Jalaalahu. I am Aziz zul-Hakim, the Mighty and the Wise'.

وَأَلْقِ عَصَاكَ فَلَمَّا رَآهَا تَهْتَزُّ كَأَنَّهَا جَانٌّ وَلَّىٰ مُدْبِرًا وَلَمْ يُعَقِّبْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَا تَخَفْ إِنِّي لَا يَخَافُ لَدَيَّ الْمُرْسَلُون 'Wa alqi 'asaak,' (27:10) - and throw down your staff, throw down your stick. 'Yaa Moosaa laa takhaf innee laa yakhaafu ladaiyal mursaloon' (27:10), - and what happened was when that stick was thrown down, what did it become? It became a serpent and of course, taking a step back, seeing the ferociousness of such an animal, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala says, do not fear in My presence. Surely messengers of Mine do not fear. And here it shows that your authority, your responsibility is to only fear Me and never to fear anything in creation other than Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala Himself. Very interestingly now, the discussion continues. And here Musa, alayhi assalam begins to say, 'Send with me Haroon so that I may become successful in the way in which I'm going to go towards Fir'awn'. When he says this, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala gives Musa, alayhi assalam, the most beautiful of statements.

He says, Go, you and Haroon, to Fir'awn. ​ اِنَّا مَعَكُمۡ مُّسۡتَمِعُوۡنَ‏ 'innaa ma'akum mustami'oon'(26:15), - 'We are with you, listening to you wherever you go'. Meaning, yes, do not fear. Don't worry, you don't have anything ordinary on your side. You have Me, the Lord of the Universe, on your side. I am listening to you. I am watching over you. What fear do you have of Fir'awn and the crime that they have against you? Innaa ma'akum - We are with, mustami'oon - listening to you throughout your journey.

Now here Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala is telling Musa, alayhi assalam, do not fear, I am with you; in the same way when Imam al-Kadhim, alayhi assalam, says in our theology, the reasoning for the ghayba is because of the fear that Imam al-Mahdi alayhi assalam has, it is not fear by virtue of fear of being killed by the tyrant. It is fear of not being able to fulfill his responsibility if he is killed by the tyrant.

You see, imagine now Imam, alayhi assalam, wasn't in ghayba. Imagine right now he's sitting in Masjid Kufa. Would the enemies leave him alone? How did the enemies treat the previous 11 from the line of Aali Muhammad? One by one, they were killed. This is a system whereby if you are fed poison, it will run through your body. If the poison is administered to your head through a strike, like it was against the head, the blessed head of Ali ibn abi Talib, alayhi assalam, you will pass from this world. And so the statement of fear is interpreted by fear of being unable to accomplish and discharge your duties before Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

This is stated by Allama Majlisi as well in Kitabul Ghayba where he states, 'Certainly, Imam al-Mahdi, alayhi assalam, went into ghayba by virtue of fear of murder. But that fear of murder was because he would not be able to discharge his duties of being Qa'im from Aali Muhammad if he was to be in the presence of people.' This is the first reason theologically for Ghayba.

What was the second reason? He does not give bay'ah to any of the tyrants. In fact, this is a narration in our books from the Awaited Saviour himself, Imam al-Mahdi - ajjalallahu ta'ala faraja shareef - [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. Imam says, 'When I return, may Allah hasten his appearance, when I return, I shall not give allegiance to any tyrant'. My ghayba was because I would have been forced to have been giving allegiance to tyrannical individuals or governments. Imagine if he was present here today but had not yet commenced his movement, the Mahdian global movement, which country would not try to put him in jail? Which country would not try to make him the heir, just like Ar-Rasheed tried to make the heir of Imam ar-Ridha, alayhi assalam, which government would not try to make them have his allegiance?

And so the Imam says the reason for my ghayba is because I am not to give allegiance to anyone, and hence I go into occultation. Reason number two. The third reasoning from our texts and the ahadeeth is because it is a test upon the Shia. The test falls upon you and I to not have the Imam in front of our eyes and this comes from a verse of the Holy Quran in Suratul Baqara. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala says:

وَلَـنَبۡلُوَنَّكُمۡ بِشَىۡءٍ مِّنَ الۡخَـوۡفِ وَالۡجُـوۡعِ وَنَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوَالِ وَالۡاَنۡفُسِ وَالثَّمَرٰتِؕ وَبَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِيۡنَۙ‏ 'Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. Wa lanablu wannakum bishai'im minal khawfi waljoo'i wa naqsim minal amwaali wal anfusi was samaraat; wa bash shiris saabireen,' (2:155) - We are most certainly going to test you. In which ways? You'll be tested in fear - there will be fear in your life; and hunger; and decline in your wealth and in yourselves and in your fruits, in your children, in your output. But, wa bash shiris saabireen, give glad tidings to those individuals that are patient.

Now, look at the statement. We're going to test you. You're going to have fear in your life. You're going to have death in your life. You'll have killing and you will have poverty and oppression in your lives. Surely when this verse was revealed, the Muslims who were being so oppressed in Mecca and were fighting to establish the righteous state of Islam in Medina, surely they would have said, yes, this verse is about you and me. Or maybe on the 10th of Muharram, when the companions went out to fight and to defend, they would have said, yes, this verse is about us. Or when the women of Aali Muhammad were being paraded from city to city, they could have said, yes, this verse is about us.

No. According to the ta'wil, the true meaning of this verse, according to the narration of our sixth Imam, alayhi assalam, he says this verse has been revealed specifically for the Shia at the end of time, in aakhiruz zamaan. And the Shia will go through such difficulties, they will undergo that test of fear. Have a look at Yemen. Have a look at Bahrain. Have a look at Pakistan. Have a look at Iraq. Have a look at Syria. The list is pretty endless.

We're going to test you in these different ways, give glad tidings. And so the reason for the ghayba is specifically, according to theology, the reason is to give a test upon on the Shia of Aali Muhammad. We want to test you to see whom amongst you are most loyal to the message. Interestingly, there are narrations replete in the texts that say that the Shia will be tested and they will be sieved out, to find who remains faithful to the Awaited Saviour. Look at the way in which they describe it, it's so beautiful. You know, when you get flour, what do you do? Normally it's got clumps in it. Many of the men here may not cook as much, so they may not know. But I'm sure the sisters, when you go home, ask your wives or your moms, when they get the clumps of flour, what do they do? You have to sieve it in order to get it to be fine and for it to come out correctly. If you imagine this, the hadeeth states, the Shia will be seived out at the end of time, only the very best will remain, not the crumbs. Reason number three.

Reason number four, the last reason according to our ahadeeth for the ghayba of Imam al-Mahdi, alayhi assalam - what was the fourth reason? Our Sins. Our sins are the direct cause for the lengthy ghayba of Imam al-Mahdi, alayhi assalam. It stands to reason why we would want to improve ourselves, especially in this month when you and I are given the opportunity in the month of Ramadan to purge our sins. Last night we recited dua number 44 of Sahifa Sajjadiya, the dua welcoming the month of Ramadan. In this month, in the opening lines, in the first few lines, our fourth Imam, alayhi assalam, says this is 'Shahru Tuhoor wa shahru tamhees', - this is the month of purification and purging.

Purging of what? The purging of our sins. To free ourselves from the sins that encompass our hearts. Here, the reason for the ghayba is because of our sins. We have narrations that specify this. For example, two of them come from the Imam himself, the Master of our age, Imam Al-Mahdi, ajjarallahu ta'ala faraja hush shareef [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. He will say, for example, that that news that reaches us, meaning him, the Imam, that news that reaches us, that saddens us, that is the reason why you do not see me.

We often hear on a Thursday night our book of deeds, like tonight, our week's accumulation will arrive at Mahdi - salamullah alaih. He will read, he will review and he will smile at those which are commendable and beautiful, and he will lament and weep over those things which are ugly and demeaning of the human soul. The reason why you do not see me is for the same reasons that when I receive your deeds, those things make me saddened. Number one.

Second narration, a very famous one, which we will talk about Inshallah in some depth, is where he states in that famous tawqeer that, 'had your hearts been united, there would be no delay in our coming'. Had your hearts been united, there would be no delay in our coming. And as long as our hearts remain disunited then he is not in a position to come. These, my respected brothers and sisters, are the four reasons for the ghayba according to theology.

Here, I'm going to make you think a little bit more InshaAllah. We stated, your theological beliefs are those that are given to you by your texts, they are asserted to you. Your philosophy, however, may be broader. It has the right to challenge those core texts and place them within a structured thought process. The first reason was fear, we explained. The second reason was no allegiance. Place these two to the side. Think about this, this is your homework for tonight. Each night I'm going to give you homework. Don't worry, it's the summer holidays for most of you guys, you need to have homework to do. Now, the third and the fourth reason was what?

The third and the fourth reason was: test of the Shia and the sins of the Shia. I'm going to challenge this and I want you to think with me as rational human beings, as autonomous human beings. When you are told that the reason for a 1200 year ghayba is a test upon the Shia because that's what it says within your text, a primary question may be heralded. Well, if it's a test for you and I, meaning because you and I do not see the Imam, we do not have recourse to direct guidance. The lack of his presence means that oppression runs free. The fact that it's a test upon you and I as Shia, is it not also a test upon the rest of the world? Think about that question. Is it a test upon the rest of the world? Not having a human savior, a person to liberate this world from oppression, bring justice to all countries, is it not a test upon them as well as a test for you and I? Or is it not a test upon them?

Now, here, this is where you depart from your theology and you begin to think and you begin to reflect. You begin to ponder. You begin to challenge. And you say, yes, it is a test upon the Shia, but there is no hadeeth, there is no text existing from any of your Imams, alayhimus salam, that says one of the reasons for the ghayba of Mahdi is that it will be a test upon the world.

But when you think about it, it is as much a test upon the world as it is upon the Shia, maybe even more so. Why? At least you and I know about Imam al-Mahdi alayhi assalam; at least you and I have a history to refer to, at least you and I have some sort of relationship with him. At least you and I have the opportunity to go to those maqamaat that he is said to go to on a Tuesday night or on a Thursday night, or where he prayed two rak'aat salat. And we get to hear hadeeth from him. We have scholars that say that they have met him. Isn't this use for us, help in terms of having knowledge of an awaited savior?

The rest of the world don't have this. Our brothers, the Ahlul Sunnah wa Jama'a do not have a human savior present and living. They don't have that person to be close to. Our Christian and Judaic brothers and sisters do not have a present human savior to call out to in the darkness of the night when things get difficult.

Isn't it a test more so upon the non-believer than it is upon the Shia? Now, here you are inclined to think for yourself, but this is the difference between a theological approach to ghayba and a philosophical approach to ghayba. The theology confines you to a text to say this is a test upon Shia only. The philosophy will ask you to think slightly broader than the written text, saying if it is a test upon you and I, why isn't it a test for Joe across the road, more so than you and I? He doesn't have that. He doesn't have someone to recourse to. He doesn't have someone in the darkness of the night to call out to, believing that he is coming tomorrow to liberate the world.

The last reason was what? The sins of the Shia. Now, again, think about it. The theology tells you to confine your thought process to: the reasoning for the ghayba is the sins of the Shia only. Because there's no text that says further than that. There's no text that says the reason for the ghayba is the sins of the Muslims.

So we pose a logical question. Does the sin of the non-Shia in any way impact the ghayba of the Awaited Saviour? Your theology confines you to the text and says it is only the sins of the Shia. A philosophical approach would ask you to challenge that and think about a construct of thought process that you would begin to understand those narrations within. That they are not just standalone narrations, obsolete, they must be wisdom within a greater thought process from Allah Subhanah wa Ta'ala.

Here, this is your homework tonight. Think about those two questions. Is it a test upon the non-Shia as much as the Shia, less of a test, more of a test? Which one? Does the sin of a non Shia, non-Muslim or atheist effect the direct coming of al-Qa'im alayhi assalam or not? Because when you think and ponder over these two things, this will open up our dialogue, InshaAllah, for the next couple of nights and will help us to understand why the Awaited Saviour is in ghayba and begin to help us understand him not just in the line of our belief system, but help to interpret him in light of the entirety of the world, to see him in light of modern challenges, to see him in light of the events that take place around the world. InshaAllah.

Wal Hamdulillah Rabb al-Alameen wa sallallahu 'ala sayedina wa nabiyina Muhammadin wa alehi at-tahireen [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]. Please raise your hands and join me in dua.

We ask Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala sincerely, hasten the reappearance of the awaited saviour; allow us to be alongside him at all times in our life and in our death; if we are to pass away from this world before his coming, raise us from our graves so that we may partake in the victory of Muhammad and aale Muhammad; Ya Allah there are many people around the world going through such desperate times, those in a state of war and oppression, poverty and homelessness, lack of education and natural disasters and disease, Ya Allah grant them all safety, security and victory for the sake of Muhammad and Aali Muhammad and in the final moments of our life, help us to die in the love of Muhammad and Aali Muhammad.

Wa assalamu alaykum jamee'un wa Rahmatullahi Wa barakatuh. Please conclude this discussion with a loud salawat in honor of the Awaited Saviour Imam al-Mahdi, ajjalallahu Ta'ala faraja hush shareef. [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad]