Muharram and its Significance (2)



In the month of Rajab of the 60th year of Hijra, Mu’awiyya died. Yazeed became the Khaleefa of the Muslim Kingdom. People of Makkah and Madinah who had been approving the Khilafat for the last fifty years, accepted Yazeed’s accession to the throne without a word of protest.
            The first thing Yazeed did was to send a messenger to the governor of Madinah to call the dissenters to the his presence and extract their B’ayat. If they refused, they should be beheaded and their severed heads were to be sent to Yazeed. Abdullah bin Zubayr escaped to Makkah in the darkness of the night before he could be accosted for the Ba’yat.  Husayn bin Ali was called by the governor but he very diplomatically walked out of the situation. Three days later, he too left Madinah with an entourage of his family members including some women and children. He arrived in Makkah and stayed there for the next six months. He had been getting letters from the people of Iraq to come to Iraq and that they were looking to him as their Imam. They wanted him to come and lead them into getting rid of the oppressive rule of Umayyad, now headed by Yazeed. Under pressure from the people of Iraq, Husayn sent his cousin, Muslim bin Aqeel to Koofa on a fact-finding tour.  In the meantime, Yazeed sent hired assassins to kill Husayn during the Tawaf of Hajj . As soon as Husayn got that news, he left Makkah to save the sanctity of the holy precincts. Husayn left Makkah a few days before the Hajj. Husayn was accosted by the governor of Makkah and a handful of his guards outside the city. The governor tried to stop Husayn and his little caravan by force, but Husayn was able to avoid any armed action once again. While he was on his way to Iraq, Husayn received the news of the brutal killing of Muslim bin Aqeel in Koofa. That was on the 9th day of Zil-Hijja.
            We shall be writing about these events in the coming days. In this episode, we would like to draw the attention of the reader to one significant point, that is, the people of Koofa addressed Husayn as their Imam and they were looking upto him for leadership.
            IT is with that premise that Husayn proceeds to Koofa against the advice of many people. What is so significant about the Imam?
            We wrote briefly about this in our introductory article. In this piece, we would like to bring to the readers a book review that has been written on this very topic of Imamat and it discusses some of the very important hadeeth reports from the corpus of hadeeth preserved and authored by some of the most respected authors in the Sunni Muslim world.
            The book is written by one of the most well-known scholars of Qur’an and Hadeeth from Pakistan.
By: Allama Talib Jauhari
Shan Book Corporation, Lahore, July 2003, hard cover, 220 pages, language: Urdu
          In this book, the famous orator of Pakistan, Mawlana Talib Jauhari, has tried to put together a complete discussion on the hadeeth about the twelve Imams, as recorded by some of the great Sunni scholars of the past.
            The Mawlana begins with a reference to the famous Sahabi of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and our salams be unto him and his holy progeny) named Jabir bin Samra. According to the author, he is the main narrator of the hadeeth of twelve Khulafa of the Prophet.
            In the introductory chapter, the author gives thirty different versions of this hadeeth from Jabir bin Samra.  Each hadeeth is first quoted in its original Arabic and then a translation in Urdu follows. Every reference has been clearly stated and properly marked.
            In the next chapter, the author goes back to some of the great scholars of the past and lists how those scholars have tried to understand this hadeeth of the twelve Khulafa. In that discussion, he lists names of those Khulafa, who according to some Sunni scholars, fit that hadeeth. Among those scholars referred to, only Waheed-uz-Zaman states that from this hadeeth the twelve Imams of the Shia Ithna Ashari faith are meant, because Khilafat is spiritual, not temporal, rule.
            In the third chapter, the author puts more stress in his analysis on the actual identification of the twelve names. In this discussion he proves by logical reasoning that the other parallel hadeeth which says that: “Khilafat will last after me for thirty years and then there are kings,” is actually false and fabricated. That is because it goes dead against this hadeeth of twelve Khulafa, which is much more authentic and is carried by stronger ISNAAD (chain of transmission). He shows that the period over which these twelve will last is the total time from the point of passing away of the Prophet to the Day of Judgment.
            In the next chapter the author discusses and explores the question as to when exactly this statement was uttered by the Prophet and whether he had said it more than once at various occasions. He also discusses the issue of the difference between the phraseology of the various versions of this hadeeth. The Mawlana then compares this hadeeth with the Qur’anic verse 5:12 in which the twelve NUQABA (plural of NAQEEB) of the Banu Israel are mentioned and he argues that this parallelism between the hadeeth and the Qur’anic verse goes to add further credence to the hadeeth. This is one of the most important chapters of the book and the argumentation presented in this chapter is really brilliant.
            That follows by a much smaller chapter in which the hadeeth of KHALEEFATAYN (the report of two Khalifas) is discussed. This is another version of the famous Hadeeth THAQALAYN, which is discussed in the subsequent chapter.
            The author quotes six different versions of Hadeeth THAQALAYN from various different sources. He analyses the differences between versions and the relationship of hadeeth of THAQALAYN with the hadeeth of GHADEER.
            In the next chapter, the author discusses the hadeeth THAQALAYN and its various understandings by a number of Sunni ulema. He goes on to list how those scholars of the past have looked at this hadeeth and how they tried to interpret it.
            In the next chapter, the author discusses the terminology of ITRAT and AHLUL-BAYT and also explores the question of ISMAT or infallibility.
            The next chapter is a revision of the previous discussion on the reports of hadeeth THAQALAYN. In this section he briefly discusses the significance of the Khulafa appointed by Allah and His Prophet and those chosen by public acclaim.
            The author then inserts a one-page section which gives the family tree of the Quraysh and shows where the twelve Imams are listed in that family tree.
            The next chapter is a discussion on the twelve Imams as recognized by the Shia Ithna Ashari school. The author concludes following from the previous discussion that the twelve Imams are all from Quraysh, they are nominated by the Prophet, and they are all infallible. He quotes ten reports in this discussion and these reports identify Imam Ali bin Abi Talib and his two sons Hasan and Husayn and additional al-Mahdi as the Imams. The reports add that there are nine more between Husayn and the Mahdi who are all the children in the progeny of Husayn.Â
            The next chapter gives five reports in which all twelve Imams have been identified with their names.
            Let us look at these five reports with some insight.
(1)   This report is narrated by Abu Salma, one of his camel-drivers. The occasion is the night of Isra (Me’raj) and the report is in the form of a dialogue between Allah and the Prophet. In this report all twelve Imams have been identified by their names as follows: Imam Ali, Hasan, Husayn, Ali, Muhammad, Ja’far, Moosa, Ali, Muhammad, Ali, Hasan and the last one being the Mahdi. The report gives more details about the Jihad of the Mahdi to establish justice and equity in the world. Source – Fara’ed-us-Simtayn, Vol.2, Chapter 61, Hadeeth number 571; Yanab-ul-Mawaddah, and Maqtal of Khwarzmi.
(2)   The second report is in the context of Karbala. The narration is from Mujahid who reports from Ibn Abbas. When Husayn was born, Jibreel visited the Prophet. First he presented felicitations to the Prophet on the birth of his new grandson and then he offered condolences for his martyrdom. The Prophet asked: Is my Ummah going to commit that crime? Jibreel replied: Yes. The Prophet said: They are not among my people, I am displeased with them. Jibreel said: So am I. The Prophet then gives the news to Fatima Zahra. She weeps. She then says that the murderers of her son will go to the Hellfire. The Prophet says: I testify to that, however, Husayn will not be killed until a son is born to him who will also be an Imam. And more Imams will be born of him. The Prophet then enumerates the names of all the Imams with specific titles: (i) Al-Hadi Ali (ii) al-Muhtadi Hasan (iii) al-adl Husayn (iv) al-Nasir Ali bin Husayn (v) As-Saffah Muhammad bin Ali (vi) an-Naffa’a Ja’far bin Muhammad (vii) Al-Ameen Moosa bin Ja’far (viii) al-Mo’tamin Ali bin Moosa (ix) al-imam Muhammad bin Ali (x) al-Fa’al Ali bin Muhammad (xi) al-Allaam Hasan bin Ali  (xii) He behind whom Eesa bin Maryam would do the prayers. Hearing this, Fatima Zahra’s weeping stopped. Source – Fara’ed-us-Simtayn, Vol.2, chapter 34
(3)   The third report is narrated by Ibn Abbas. It is a very long report and runs into three pages. A Jewish person named Abu Ammaara asks the Prophet about Allah and his attributes. This is a beautiful report in this part. The Prophet describes Allah’s attributes with such eloquence and the Arabic rhetoric is so impressive that it really has to be read in the original Arabic to get the full benefit of the Prophet’s utterance. The person then asks about the Khulafa after the Prophet. The Prophet at this point lists the names of the twelve Imams. Source – Fara’ed-us-Simtayn, Vol.2, chapter 31
(4)   The fourth report is from Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari. The source of this report is Yanab’e-ul-Mawadda, Vol.3, chapter 16
(5)   The last report is narrated by Jabir bin Yazeed Ju’fi who takes it from Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari. In this report the Prophet tells Jabir that he will live a long life and will meet his fifth grandson Muhammad al-Baqir. He asks Jabir to take his salam to his grandson and then relates the names of all the other Imams upto the Mahdi. The author adds in describing the source of this report that he had seen the report in a manuscript of the book named Rawdhat-al-Ahbaab which is owned by a person named Syed Muhammad Askari Chowdhari of Akbar Pur in Faizabad, India. The author further adds that the full name of the book is Rawdhat-al-Ahbaab fi Seerat-an-Nabi wal-Aal wal-Ashaab. That book is printed at Matb’a Tegh Bahadur, Lucknow, India. However, the chapter on the biography of the Aal-e-Rasool has been deleted from the book in that printing. However, manuscripts are preserved in libraries and it is essential that the full text of the book is reprinted and published.
            The next chapter consists of a discussion on the work of writing about the glory of the Ahlul-Bayt by well-known Sunni scholars of the past. There are such heavy weights in that list as Ahmad bin Hanbal, Jahiz Mo’tazilee, and Muhammad bin Talha Shafe’ii as well as Ali bin Ahmad bin Sabbaagh Maliki. The author then goes on to give greater details of Allama Waheed-uz-Zaman who had written commentaries on hadeeth literature. Waheed-uz-Zaman has shown his unequivocal devotion to the Ahlul-Bayt and specifically the twelve Imams.  The Mawlana Talib Jauhari then brings in some more evidence for the glory of the twelve Imams. He describes that the names of the twelve Imams would be found inscribed on the gravesites of renowned Muslim saints both in India as well as in Pakistan; most of those saints are revered by the Sunni faithful. He then adds a commentary by Waheed-uz-Zaman on the hadeeth of THAQALAYN. Waheed-uz-Zaman ends his commentary with the following prayer: “O Allah, may our end be with these twelve Imams, and keep us on their love until the Day of Judgment.”Â
The chapter is completed by citing a report from Abdul Haq Muhaddith of Delhi in which he narrates a report from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq- The Imam teaches one of his devotees how to recite the Ziarat of the twelve Imams (from a distance).
            In the next chapter the author discusses a report in al-Bidayah wan-Nihaya by Ibn Katheer Damishqi. In that report it is said: The twelve Imams that the Prophet had prophesied about are not the same as those who are named by the Rawafidh (a derogatory name for the Shia); actually they are: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and in those names Umar bin Addul Azeez is also included. Ibn Katheer includes Mu’awiyyah, Yazeed and many other rulers of Banu Umayya. Mawlana then argues that there are actually a total of sixteen rulers among Banu Umayya. Ibn Katheer argues that because of the repeated reference of twelve NAQEEB in the Bible, many Jews converted to Islam. Mawlana Talib Jauhari then discusses those biblical references from the Old Testament about twelve leaders.
            In the next chapter, the Mawlana has discussed the twelve helpers of Eesa bin Maryam (Hawaaree). He has gone into the various books of the New Testament (John, Revelations) and explored the use of terms like the Twelve Stars, etc. This discussion is brought to completion in the following two chapters which are also the last two chapters of the book.
            This is a very interesting book. I strongly recommend every family to have a copy of this book in their personal collections. It has been written with the modern western standards of citing references and bibliography.
            Even in citing the Biblical references, the Mawlana has used an Urdu version of the Bible. When I checked those references against the English St. James version of the Bible, I found them to be one hundred percent accurate.
            After all this discussion, a question does arise in the modern thinking mind of a young Muslim – How could the Prophet of Islam predict the names of the twelve Imams so many years ahead of their birth? Was our Prophet some kind of clairvoyant magician (May Allah forgive me for this statement)?
            Here is my answer to that question.
A prophet, by definition, is a man sent by God to lead mankind on the right path. In that process, the prophet tells his community about two things:
(1) What is the origin of things, meaning, the past? And,
(2) What will be the end of things, meaning, the future?
       In view of that, he gives instructions for the present. If you go through the Qur’an, you will find those three lines of messages everywhere.
       If you look at the root of the word “prophet,” from the point of view of English etymology, it comes from the same root as PROPHECY, or telling about the future.  Both words come from the same root. The original meanings are as follows:
            The word consists of two parts = pro (before) + phetes (from the Greek word ‘phania,’ which in turn comes from the original Proto-Indo-European root-word ‘bha’ which means ‘to say.’)  Notice also that the Hindi word BHASHA or BHAKHA also come from the same root.
The end result is that the meaning comes to: TO SAY SOMETHING BEFORE IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS.
That was the English language aspect of the word. If you look at the Arabic usage, two words are used for the word prophet – NABI and RASOOL. Nabi is from NABA which means ‘a news.’  Rasool, on the other hand is from the root R-S-L, which means ‘to reach out.’   So a prophet is a ‘reach out’ from Allah to his people who brings news to them.
With those meanings, and our belief that Allah has the Knowledge of the Unseen, which He shares with his prophets as and when He thinks appropriate, I will not be surprised if our beloved Prophet did speak about some future events with accuracy.


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