I’ve been listening to this kaseeda all afternoon, and the more I listen, the deeper I delve in to it. I first heard this kaseeda when a young revert brother read it at the imambargah. His voice was weak and his Urdu/Punjabi pronunciations were poor but cute! Though what came across most strongly through his recitation was the passion he felt for the imam and for the sentiment he was speaking about “rab janay tay Hussain janay”, this doesn’t translate particularly well (a literal translation would read; God knows or Hussain knows!). The knowing in the context of this kaseeday refers to the unspoken, secret and pure knowledge of the divine creator, Allah (SWT). It also refers to recognising reality for what it really truly is, something that in this mirage type state of the West, is becoming harder and harder to find/differentiate. With particular respect to Imam Hussain (A.S) the knowing also related to his end; the ending of earthly life in horrific circumstances of sacrifice, which would lead to an eternal life of blessing and reward. While all of us live with the reality that we will one day pass away, few of us reflect upon it, embrace it or acknowledge it as being as much a part of our waking, our sleep and our daily activities as, for example, prayer, fasting, working, watching TV etc. Imam Hussain (A.S) despite being infallible, lived with this reality, and made it so much a part of him that it is impossible to smile over the birth of the blessed Imam, without crying over his death, and it is impossible to celebrate his conquering injustice for all time without weeping bitterly over his suffering and that of his pure family (A.S).
“Rab janay tay Hussain Janay”, time, space, relativity and continuity all pivoted on the axes of sacrifice, and the world continued to spin knowing that its rebirth and fertile lands would only bare fruit if and when my blessed imam (A.S) gave his life for the greater good of humanity, of the land and all that dwell on her. All prophets that ever lived were first given the knowledge of Allah (SWT) his prophet and his ahlulbayt (A.S), and the knowledge of Karbala. I remember earlier on this year as I re-read the bible after muherram, my heart almost stopped when I read a passage of the old testament which talked about the sacrifice on the Euphrates! There are only 2 months left till muherram, and getting in to the true meditative and sorrowful spirit of the month will be a challenge for many this year, particularly for those in my position! The Christmas festivities fall slap-bang in the middle of the 10 days. Only yesterday I spent hours trying to define muherram and negotiate a Christmas lunch out instead of an evening event as I’d need to be in the masjid. I sometimes wonder if it is my own failing, weak faith or my neglecting my duties, but while I am happy to skip fasts in ramadhan, knowing that I will make them up later on, I will never ever miss a majliss in muherram, no matter how hard it is for me to get to mosque or get in to the spirit of things. Last year when my home was in pieces and I stayed with my parents, I still attended most of the majliss, and for those I could not, I stayed awake most of the night in order to listen to a live net stream from Sayed Ammar Nakshawani who read in Toronto last year. Muherram might be a time of sadness, a time to cry, ware black, all but drown in an ocean of sorrow with the Ahlulbayt (A.S), with our lord and (SWT) and our imams (A.S), but if you ask any follower of the ahlulbayt (A.S), he will tell you that he/she looks forward to the days of muherram. From Ramadhan onwards he charts the course of the moon, seeking out the piercing darkness that brings red tears, trauma, loneliness and hearts filled with pain and suffering. For many non-Muslims this is hard to comprehend, even for those Muslims who have been lead astray, the visions pumped to the media of shias hitting/cutting themselves have been taken as something of a freak show, poor pathetic ignorant beings who lost the Islamic plot a long time ago! While this woonds me to see, I don’t entirely blame them. To a certain degree, we have lost the plot in that muherram has become the 10 days in which we go to the masjids, crowding them with our tears, our niaz and our money as we beg for forgiveness. We think that the more we read and the more we can cry in public, the greater the favour we will earn in the hereafter. During my first muherram, I could not cry, I would return from the mosque and listen to majliss online, crying silently in the dead of the night, not wanting to be seen or noticed by any one but my Lord. What finally brought me to tears was the arrival of the first taboot of Imam Qasim (A.S), the pieces, delicately wrapped in thin dupatas representing the pieces of his pure and sacred body left me clutching on to the coffin never wanting to let go. Why you might ask did I cry? I cried because, for those moments became at one with the pain of the imam (A.S). I let my heart fly free to merge with the sacrifice and the knowledge of it. Yet, there was a part of me that simply could not absorb the reality of the fact that the imams, (A.S), all of them lived with their martyrdom in an almost seamless walk between the earthly life and the one to come. Each infallible life merging in to the other, the example of which perpetually permeating the hearts of the believers, so that there is a little of this knowledge in all of us, if nothing else, the ability to marvel is what keeps us close to their shining guidance, while the guidance its self keeps us striving for perfection.
Today, we honour the birth of Fatimah Masooma (A.S). Her name synonymous with striving for perfection, her boundless quest for knowledge and her bountiful hands, endless love and care for humanity single her out among earthly women supreme, light upon light, the one who can turn darkness to noor simply by nature of her existence. Her name, made up of 2 pure entities which inspired her, and all of us; Saeeda Fatimah Zahra (A.S), and Saeeda Sakina (A.S). Masooma was the name given to her by her followers of the time. Literally meaning innocent, the Actions of Fatimah Masooma mirrored pure innocence because of their selfless nature, and the eternal link between each action and the hereafter, thus making her every thought, word and deed a source of worship and intercession for her in the next world. This sentiment can be seen in each of the examples of the ahlulbayt (A.S), each one being a natural progression from the predecessor, individual entities, all linked together by the nature of their infallibility, and the qur’an they wished to protect.
While none of us can attain that particular state of being, we can strive for elevation in the same way that Fatimah Masooma craved for it, and obtained it through nurturing the physical and spiritual needs of her soul. We too have embraced the knowledge of Hussain (A.S) and made a pledge to protect it as we fight in his way, so, while we might fall and lose our way in the dark, lets use the event of the birthday of Fatimah Masooma, to reaffirm our knowledge, and the responsibilities that knowledge places upon us
“rab janay tay Hussain Janay”, aren’t we his followers? Aren’t we the ones that he called out to on the battlefield for help? Oh you who cry for Saeeda Zeynab (A.S), isn’t it up to us to preserve her message, and continue to propagate it to the 4 corners of the world in the eloquent way she did?
Take this day, this example of bibi Masooma to reflect on your sate, where we are and where we are going, to fill in the gaps in our own personal missions and to be true to them, no matter how great the obstacles that block our way, and no matter how dark the journey seems from a distance. The knowledge of Hussain lit up his heart, and continues to light the shrines in Karbala; let your heart be your guide too, and the reality whisper secrets of the Imam (A.S) success to guide you on your way, now, and always.