Following True Islam

True Islam

بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Salāmun ʿalaykum, may Allah bless you, your families, and all the communities around the world.

In these nights of Muḥarram, we look at what happened to some people during the time of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), who knew that he was the grandson of the Noble Prophet (ṣ). They knew that the Prophet (ṣ) used to say, “Ḥasan and Ḥusayn are the leaders of the youth of Paradise.”

The people also knew that the Prophet of Islam had announced that Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) would be the Imām after him, then Imām Ḥasan (ʿa), followed by Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). So, what were the reasons that people went against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)? Remember, even the people of Kufa who had sent the Imām thousands of letters turned on him. Why?

This happened because the people didn’t properly believe in and obey the Qurʾān and the Imām (ʿa), so they didn’t follow the rightly guided to keep them on a safe path to Allah (swt). Even though many of them understood and knew the importance of Imāmah, they didn’t have the love and obedience in their hearts to truly stay with our beloved Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).

Knowing this, we begin to understand why on the day of ʿĀshūrāʾ, Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) kept repeating, “I am the son of Fāṭimah az-Zahrāʾ; I am the grandson of the Prophet of Allah; I am the son of Ali al-Murtaḍa.” He kept repeating these words because he wanted people to realize what they were doing and whom they were turning against. He wanted them to understand who was following and spreading the true message of Islam. The people who were going against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) were sleeping, so to speak, and he had to wake them up! He had to wake up their sleeping souls.

Sometimes when our souls are sleeping, we aren’t seeing the whole picture. Let me give you an example that illustrates this point.

Imagine there was a chicken who was so focused on eating a worm that all he did was pay attention to it. Because he was so focused on the worm, he didn’t notice that there was a cat nearby, who was staring at him with big eyes! The chicken was so focused on the worm, that he had no idea that the cat was getting ready to attack him at any moment.

Sometimes we are so focused on something that we aren’t able to see anything else. It’s like we are blind to everything except for the thing we are focused on.
Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) knew this. He understood that the people had become so in love with this world and what it contains that they were blind to the truth and chose not to follow what Allah (swt) wanted them to do. They had forgotten what their true responsibility towards the Imām (ʿa) was. This is a good reminder to us, because we are waiting for Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), and we want to make sure we are doing everything that we are supposed to. We want to recognize the Imām (ʿaj) and obey him correctly, and not be like the ones who disobeyed Allah (swt) when they went against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).

We want to be Imām al-Mahdī’s (ʿaj) strongest supporters, inshāʾAllāh! Yesterday, when we discussed the letter from Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) to his messenger Muslim ibn ʿAqīl, we learned that an Imām is appointed by Allah (swt), and that he has to rule according to the Qurʾān. Another item that the Imām (ʿa) mentioned was that an Imām is someone who has to make sure that the religion of Islam is being followed properly.

So, to make sure that we don’t become like the people who will leave their Imām alone, let’s discuss what the Imām (ʿa) meant by this. If we look at the people who fought against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) at that time, we will find that they were people who used to offer ṣalāh, attend the Jumuʿah prayer, go to the masjid often, eat ḥalāl food, and fast. Meaning, they used to do most of the wājib acts that were required of them. However, the way they used to do it was not how Allah (swt) wanted, but the way that they wanted. They didn’t look for, or even research, the way Allah (swt) wanted them to. For example, during the time of Muʿāwiyah, he would tell the Muslims, “Pray, fast, and do good deeds.” However, he or his people never explained the reasons why these actions should be done. They would even say to those around them that the Qurʾān should not be explained to anyone, and that no one needs to understand what the Qurʾān is saying.

One day, someone came up to Muʿāwiyah and asked, “What if someone wants to understand what is being said in the Qurʾān? We can’t stop them from asking?”

Muʿāwiyah replied, “You are right. So, what we need to do is find people who can explain the rules and Qurʾān the way we want them to. This way, we can make sure that their Islam is not the true Islam, but rather, it is the Islam that we want them to follow.”

These evil ideas from Muʿāwiyah created the wrong Islam, so people who thought they were following Islam correctly, actually were not. We all have to be very careful not to do this. In order to make sure we don’t, here are a few things we need to really understand: we have to understand what Islam is and what we are supposed to do (wājib vs. ḥarām). This means we should be seeking knowledge from our learned scholars, those who have studied Islam at the hawzah and have a thorough and proper understanding. We should not seek knowledge from people who just claim to know about Islam, people who present incorrect information and an incomplete version of Islam. We have to be careful NOT to listen to people who say things like “You don’t have to wear ḥijāb,” “It’s okay if you hair is showing,” “It’s okay to listen to music from the most popular bands and singers, as long it's not during adhān time,” or even something as wrong as “You don’t have to be kind to your parents once you are old enough to make your own decisions.”

People who try to lead you away from the truth can never be the true scholars of Islam. We have to be careful about the people we choose to provide us with Islamic knowledge. We need to think twice about listening to them if they begin to say things like, “Oh, Lady Fāṭimah (ʿa) and Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) lived so long ago, they can’t be your role models. You need to choose someone who is here with us now.”

We know that this is not true! All our Imāms were leaders not just for the time that they were alive, but even today! The values that they had taught such as honesty, kindness, modesty, and obedience to Allah(swt), are characteristics that will never get old; they will remain until the Day of Judgment. So, we have to make sure that we are careful and do not begin forming our own view of what Islam is supposed to be. We must listen to the true scholars, who teach us Islam as it is, as taught to them by the Prophet (ṣ) and his Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa).

Whenever something difficult would take place in Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq’s life, he would say, “O Allah, please don’t make my trial or my hardship in the practice of my religion.” What the Imām (ʿa) meant by this is that we may be strong during hardships in this world, like maybe not having enough money or not getting a good grade, but we should pray to Allah (swt) to not let us have a hard time practicing the religion. That we should not disrespect our parents or miss ṣalāh; to make us strong in these areas.

We have to look at what we do every day and think about how we feel. Do you feel sadder if you accidentally missed your ṣalāh or do you feel sadder if you didn’t get a perfect grade on your test? Do you feel happier when you do something to make Allah (swt) happy or when you do something that you enjoyed for a few moments, but is ḥarām? We always have to do our best to make Islam and Allah (swt) more important, because this will help us stay away from the wrongdoers, and more importantly, help us not to become the wrongdoers. We also have to do our best and ask for forgiveness if we do something wrong.

Right now, social media and devices have caused a lot of challenges, so this may be the first place to start. We should be careful about what we see and hear because our eyes and ears are gateways to our hearts and souls. Sometimes people are not careful of what they post on social media. If they have a bad habit, rather than trying to get rid of that habit, they publicize it by posting it on the internet. For example, if someone who listens to ḥarām music shares the music they listen to on the internet with others, they are encouraging people to partake in behaviors that are not acceptable in Islam. They would not only have to face the consequences of their own sins, but also the sins they encouraged others to perform.

If we find ourselves trying to find pleasure from others, we should seek help from Allah (swt). We all have to work really hard and follow all the beautiful ways of life that Allah (swt) has taught us. If we continue on a path chosen by us, and only us, our souls will become like those of the people who were against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), who chose to follow only what their hearts desired.

This is not an easy task. When the second verse of Sūrah al-ʿAnkabūt came down, it stated “Do humans think that they will be left alone after saying ‘We believe’ and that they will not be tested?” As soon as Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) heard this verse, he went to the Prophet (ṣ) and asked, “O Prophet of Allah, when will this test come?”

The Prophet (ṣ) replied, “This test will come after I have died. Right now, as I am alive, people are following true Islam and not making up their own understanding of Islam. After I die, things will become confusing, and people will begin to do this.”

In another ḥadīth, our Imām (ʿa) tells us, “There will come a time when humans will become servants of the dunyā, and the religion of Islam will just be something that hangs off their tongues.” This means that people will just be talking about religion without acting upon it. Also, when it comes to the decision of choosing their world or the religion, they will choose their world, not religion.

An important thing for us to understand is that one of the main reasons people fought against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) was because they did not follow the true Islam and began making up their own version of Islam. Today, we have to be careful when doing our wājibāt. For example, if we are going to do ḥijāb, we must be careful to follow it the way it was intended to be followed, not in the way that it is followed by the terms of this world. Learn from the knowledgeable scholars, ask questions to those who have studied, and do your best to follow that which pleases Allah (swt). This includes learning the proper way to pray, fast, speak to our parents, etc. This way, we are true and ready to uphold the truth that Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) died saving, and are prepared to serve as true soldiers of Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj).

Authored under the guidance of Moulana Nabi R. Mir (Abidi)

Download the Muḥarram Project Booklet for lessons and crafts.

View the Kisa Kids Crafts for this lesson (on Kisa Kids YouTube Channel).