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  • Writer's pictureTaher Lokhandwala

Qasida Tibriyah - A Lesson in Altruism

Updated: Oct 23, 2020


All praise be to Allah T.A. for blessing us with the deedar of our Moula, Syedna Aaliqadr Mufaddal Saifuddin (T.U.S), after so many months. It was truly a surreal experience for mumineen all around the world, accustomed to seeing relays from past years and pictures, to know that we were watching live as our Moula (T.U.S.) did waaz in Burhanpur. It felt like we were once again united in Hazrat Imaamiyyah, and for a moment, the problems plaguing the world ceased to exist.

This year, on the anniversary of the martyrdom (Shahadat) of Imam Hasan (A.S), Moula TUS commenced the waaz with the narration of an epic piece of poetry titled “Qasida Tibriyyah”, or ‘A Golden Poem’. This qasida is composed of 138 verses, and is authored by al-Mawl al-Murtaaz Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin (Q.R.) Through the recitation of this qasida, we hope that our souls (nufoos) may also become golden as well. The matla, or first verse, of this epic is as follows:

Oh Allah! Give strength to the followers of, and those who love, Moulana Ali (A.S.)!

The epic contains many unique and beautiful intricacies, chief among them is how Syedi (Q.R.) has ended each verse: with the name of Moulana Ali (A.S), whose recitation itself is a spring of blessing. Moulana Ali’s (A.S) every act began and ended with goodness, and so his deeds serve as a guide for his followers who wish to follow in his footsteps, and be among the virtuous “Shiate Ali”.

The word hizb refers to a sect, an alliance- a nod to Ayat 56 from Surat Al-Ma'idah, from this portion specifically: “فان حزب الله هم الغالبون” (Whoever allies themselves with Allah TA, His Messenger, and fellow believers, then it is certainly Allah’s party that will prevail). The reference illustrates the Fatemi belief that Moulana Ali’s (A.S) followers are indeed the victorious.

In this poem, Syedi (Q.R.) gives us lessons in the unquestionable morals and characteristics of Moulana Ali (A.S.), by utilizing allegory and intimation to point to exemplary experiences from his life. While explaining his unbridled generosity, he recounts a story of Moulana Ali's (A.S) unwavering commitment to both Allah T.A. and his own ethics, in the following verse.

Is there anyone who would choose captives, orphans, and the poor over their own family, except Ali (A.S)?

The basic wording of the verse seems simple, but veils a deep story of hardship and perseverance in a time of need, and the embodiment of perfect selflessness. The word “athara” which means to choose, is used to show Moulana Ali’s (A.S) position amongst the selfless. There are many who feed the needy, and give back in their capacity, but Syedi (Q.R.) uses this word to show that Ali chose the wellbeing of others, over his own family. He knew that without support, these men would likely die, and he was willing to undertake the hardship of seeing his family sleep hungry, then allow another to possibly perish. Syedi (Q.R.) uses the words “miskeen, aytaam, and aseer” very purposefully to point towards the verbiage of the Quran, and deftly combine both the blessings of the scripture and the zikr of Moulana Ali (A.S).

In Surah Al-Insaan, Ayat 7-9, Allah Subhanahu proclaims:

They ˹are those who˺ fulfil ˹their˺ vows and fear a Day of sweeping horror,

and give food—despite their desire for it—to the poor, the orphan, and the captive,

[Saying], "We feed you only for the face [i.e., approval] of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.

Translation provided by: Sahih International

It is narrated that these ayaat were revealed after the following events.

During a particularly difficult drought, the sons of Moulana Ali (A.S). fell very sick, and on the advice of a companion of Rasulullah S.A.W, Moulana Ali (A.S), his wife Moulatena Fatima A.S, and both sons Imam Hasan and Imam Husain A.S. vowed a nazar, to complete 3 consecutive fasts for the speedy recovery of the children. Immediately after their vow, Allah granted both Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (A.S) good health. The family began their fast, the first of 3, and as night fell and they sat to eat together for iftaar, a miskeen, or pauper, came to the door asking to be fed. Moulana Ali (A.S). immediately withdrew his hand from the food, and asked Moulatena Fatima (A.S). if they could feed this indigent man, who has no other support. Moulana Ali (A.S), and his family slept through the night on only water and fasted yet another day. Again, as they were beginning iftaar, a yateem, orphan came to the door, and asked for support from the home of Rasulullah. Yet again, Moulana Ali (A.S) surrendered his own needs for a man with no home. On the third day, in the exact same fashion, an aseer, came to the door, and yet again Moulana Ali (A.S). displayed the virtue of selflessness in the most difficult of times.

Allah T.A. recounts this experience in the 7th verse of Surat Al-Insaan, starting with “wa-yufun bin nazre”. The word “yufun”, come from the root of “wafa”, that these exemplary insaan, are those that fulfill their vows at any cost. It is continued in the following ayat, “Wayutemunat ta’am alaa hubehi”, which contains an ishteqaaq, a literary device that turns a noun into a verb, in this case the noun “ta’aam - food”, into the verb “yut’emun - to feed”. The phrase “alaa hubehi” can be translated in many ways, (perhaps most literally as “against their love for it (food)”) but one particularly moving way is “for the love of Allah”.

In the third ayat mentioned, a very beautiful message is echoed, that these people feed others, only for Allah T.A. The idea of “le wajhil Allah”, speaks to a greater truth, that transcends a physical reason for doing things. It indicates a connection to the greater purpose, the understanding that our actions, our good deeds, pass on from this world, but it only applies to a specific type of action: selflessness. Work that we do for our livelihood, or even our hobbies like art or reading, remains bound to some end, some destination. There exists a passion, a love for the things we do for ourselves or our families, but it has a temporal or completion-based end, like earning enough money, or having been sufficiently fulfilled by your hobbies. There come times when we’re no longer interested in doing these things, and our interests shift, our passion wanes.

When it comes to giving back however, to feeding and clothing those in need, and the myriad other selfless deeds that we undertake, our drive is something else entirely. It is not born of any end goal, but is purely for its own intrinsic good. Even if we physically tire of giving back, we never lose our love for it. We have a tough time defining the motivation to wake up at odd hours, to volunteer for difficult and time-consuming work, to labor tirelessly behind the scenes in ashara mubaraka and in our own localities. We don’t seek praise from people in our work, shukura, or any jazaa from Allah in these deeds. Rather we seem to operate on a level above this, doing things purely for the love of Allah, lewajhil Allah, motivated by an intangible force within us that tells us to make ourselves available for anything and everything. Truly, this understanding is the blessing of Moulana Ali (A.S), and one meaning of the ayat "La Noreedo Minkum (they do not have the irado, goal, from these things of) Jazaan Wala Shukura".

Our Mawali Tahereen have preached to us the importance of charity as a duty, to make it an identity, a part of our being, since the very beginning. In his moving nasihat, Sukhan Gur Log Na Ae Dil, Syedi Sadiq Ali Sahib (Q.R). writes an eerily similar verse:

If difficult times cause less food to be cooked, even then you stay hungry, and fill the stomach of someone even hungrier.

In the next verse he writes: “This was the character of the successor of Mohammad (S.A.W), Moulana Ali (A.S); embody this into yourself and write your name into the halls of heaven from this Earth.”

The message is always the same: the apex of selflessness is to prefer others over yourself and your desires in every way.

In a manner of speaking, we are all masakeen, aytaam, and asaraa, to the house of nubawat and Moulana Ali (A.S). Even in death, Moulana Ali (A.S). remembered us, chose us, and sacrificed his own family for us. It is said that when Moulana Ali (A.S). was struck down in the qibla by the poisoned sword of Ibn’ Muljim, he cried out: “By the God of the Ka’bah, I have won! My followers are the victorious!”. In his final few words he again remembers his followers before his own plight. His victory is in the victory of his followers, his shia. His martyrdom, his sacrifice, cleansed the sins of his followers and attained them salvation.

His wife, the daughter of Rasulullah (S.A.W), passed away 70 days after her father, killed by the grief of his passing, the loss of her unborn child Mohsin, and the atrocities of those men who did not care for her sanctity. His first son Imam Hasan (A.S), heir to his father in even in death, was poisoned for weeks on end, and finally slain by his own wife at the instigation of Muawiyah I. His remaining son, Imam Husain (A.S), travelled to Karbala and emblazoned the banner of al-haqq forever, sacrificing his entire family for the followers of his grandfather’s ummah, finally being slain by the sword of Yazid I.

Moulana Ali’s (A.S) life is a constant lesson in the highest virtues of mankind, the haqiqat of insaniyat, and through his remembrance we can try to apply these virtues to our own lives. Here, Moulana Ali (A.S) shows us the extreme, yet ultimate form of altruism: to place the needs of others over yourself, in every way, and yet have tawakkul, trust, in the generosity of Allah T.A. to provide for you, while you do your best to provide for others. To want from no one but Allah T.A., and yet to give freely and with no bounds, seeking no reward in this life or the next.

May Allah T.A. keep our Moula, Syedna Aaliqadar Mufaddal Saifuddin, in health and prosperity until the day of Qiyaamat. Ameen!

Authored By: Taher Lokhandwala with Hassan Ferozpurwala

Disclaimer: The views contained herein do not necessarily represent the views of Mahad Alumni, Mahad-al-Zahra, or any other affiliate organization. They are solely the perspectives of the authors named, who have shared these views on this platform.

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