Good Choices Are Important


 بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

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

In this night of Muḥarram, we can learn from Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and the events that happened in Karbala.

One of the questions that comes to mind during these days is, “Why did the horrible events of Karbala happen?” Many of the people who fought against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) had lived during the time of the Noble Prophet (ṣ) and saw the love and respect that he had for his beloved grandson, Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).

The people of that time were also told by the Prophet (ṣ) that they should follow Imām ʿAlī (ʿa), and that they should stay with his family and follow the right path.
So, we have to ask ourselves, what would cause people to turn against the family of the Prophet (ṣ) like this? What kind of bad qualities did they have that caused them to stand up against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)? Why is it important for us to know this? You see, today, we are awaiting the arrival of Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), inshāʾAllāh may he come during our lifetime and we get to be his special helpers and friends. But to be among his special helpers, we have to make sure that we are trying our hardest to make the best choices. This will make our faith stronger and make us better friends and, most importantly, believers in the Imām (ʿaj). This means we need to stay away from bad choices that surround us everyday.

For example, let’s say your parents want to take you to your friend’s house, but on the way out, they hear on the radio that there is a big accident on a specific freeway. If there are two different freeways your parents can take, which one would they take? They would take the road that they know will get you there safely and with minimal disruption.

Another example is if someone told you that the cake you want to eat is spoiled, would you still eat it? No, of course not, because you might get sick. Therefore, you can make the decision not to eat the cake, so you don’t get sick, even though it might be your favorite cake.

Just like the foods we eat and the roads we travel on can become bad choices, our soul is put in the same position. We need to make good choices and keep our soul free from the effects of bad choices because our soul can become sick as well. We have to be very careful.

Many Prophets came before us and there were people who did not listen to them. For example, Prophet Mūsā (ʿa) warned the people not to follow the evil Pharaoh, but many of them still did not listen. Why not? Why didn't they make good choices?

Another example comes from Prophet Ṣāleh (ʿa). The people asked him to show them a miracle. They told him to have a pregnant camel come out of the mountain. Suddenly, the mountain split and a camel came from it, just like they asked. This was a miracle from Allah (swt), but some people still chose not to believe in Him and decided not to make good choices.

Tonight, we want to understand how to stay away from these bad qualities. We want to understand how to create a big red STOP sign, so that we stay away from that which will lead us to bad choices. We will discuss two important reasons to stay away from bad choices. Although there are many reasons, these two specific reasons were written by Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) in a letter to his cousin and representative, Muslim ibn ʿAqīl.

The people of Kufa had said that they would be there for Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and support him. They sent the Imām (ʿa) thousands of letters saying that they wanted to help the Imām (ʿa) defeat Yazīd. But in reality, their actions were contrary to their words. Most of them eventually abandoned Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).

Some of these same people even joined the army against Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).
Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) sent a letter to these people via Muslim ibn ʿAqīl. In this letter, Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) wrote:

In the name of Allah, the All-Kind, the All-Merciful. From Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (ʿa) to the people who are muʾminīn (believers) and muslimīn (those who follow Islam).
1. An Imām is someone who follows the book of Allah (swt)
2. An Imām makes sure that the people are following the rules of Allah (swt)

One of the reasons people make bad choices is that they stop living in accordance with what the Qurʾān has placed before them and the teachings of their Imām (ʿa). Just as Allah (swt) has chosen the Prophets, Allah (swt) has also chosen our Imāms (ʿa). But many do not follow the Imāms (ʿa) and the Qurʾān.

Sometimes, we know we should follow the Qurʾān and the Imāms (ʿa), but we end up loving the things around us or being so attached to them that it is hard for us to follow and obey the Imām (ʿa). And we know that for us to make good choices to get to Jannah and closer to Allah (swt), we must obey the Imāms (ʿa), even if it is hard for us.

One day, Manṣūr, the evil ʿAbbāsid caliph, planned to trick the 6th Imām (ʿa). He appointed a man named Ibn Muhājir to give out money to all the Sayyids (family of the Ahl al-Bayt). He said to Ibn Muhājir, “Don’t tell them that I am giving this money, or else they won’t take it! Just say you are a Shīʿah of Khorāsān, and this pure money is for you, and then take a receipt from them that they received it.”

When Ibn Muhājir finished distributing the money and came back to Manṣūr, Manṣūr looked through the receipts and exclaimed, “Where is Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq’s receipt?!”

Ibn Muhājir said, “I am sorry, but we were unable to get his receipt.”

Manṣūr shouted, “Why not?! That was the main reason I sent you to do this job!!!”

He replied, “We went to the masjid, and the Imām was praying. Right after he was done, we approached him, and he said to us, ‘O, Muhājir, be afraid of Allah.’

“I said to him, ‘My name's not Muhājir. I am one of your Shīʿahs!’

“The Imām said, ‘You are lying. You came from Manṣūr, the caliph. The money you have is from him as well, and you cannot lie in front of me — I am the Imām. I have been appointed by Allah.’”

Ibn Muhājir said to Manṣūr, “I was so embarrassed that I got up and left immediately.”

When Manṣūr heard this, he began pacing. He was so upset, and he started mumbling, “Indeed, Jaʿfar, the son of Muḥammad, is someone who is spoken to by the angels, and he knows of the unseen.”

Even the most evil person, the caliph Manṣūr, knew that Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) was really an Imām and the leader chosen by Allah (swt), but because he loved so many other things, like being in charge, being powerful, and being the king, he followed his own desires, instead of what Allah (swt) wanted him to do. Therefore, because he adored the life of the dunyā, he did not listen to the Imām (ʿa).

The first thing we have to do to make good choices, is to be able to give priority to obeying Allah (swt) and His Imāms (ʿa). When it is ṣalāh time and I am playing my favorite game, I need to make a good choice. When I really want to eat something, but it is not ḥalāl, I have to make a good choice. When everyone else is not following the rules of Islam, and I have to, especially in school or after school or when I’m with friends, I have to make good choices.

During the time of Prophet Mūsā (ʿa), people showed the same attitude of giving importance to their own wishes instead of obeying Allah (swt). There is an āyah from the Qurʾān that tells us how they behaved. Allah (swt) says in Sūrah an-Naml, verse 14:

And they rejected them, even though their [inner] selves were convinced, out of injustice and arrogance. Noble Qurʾān 27:14

You see, the people of his time knew he was a Prophet, but they refused to admit the truth and believe in him. Additionally, in Sūrah al-Baqarah, verse 46, Allah (swt) says that the unbelievers recognized who the Prophet was, just like they recognized who their own children were. Meaning, it was made very clear to them; they all knew that the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣ) was a Prophet from Allah (swt). So why didn’t they believe? It’s because they didn’t believe with their whole hearts; they believed only what their own desires wanted. Their desires and wishes controlled them.

Therefore, when we come back and think about the people of Kufa, you can understand that they didn’t believe in their Imām (ʿa) with their full hearts. They knew who he was, they knew what he stood for, but their belief was not strong, and they were on the wrong path.

Today, as we wait for Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), we have to ask ourselves, “How can we make sure that we don’t go against what the Imām (ʿaj) wants?” First, we have to find out what Allah (swt) has made wājib and ḥarām for us. Even if we are not bāligh, it’s good to ask and find out. Second, we need to practice, practice, practice! We have to be kind to our parents, even if we feel like we have a right to be upset. We have to be kind to our siblings, even though we might find them annoying at times. We have to make decisions even when they are difficult, such as moving away from people who may be committing sins knowingly and without wanting to repent. We have to observe the Islamic dress code in front of non-mahrams, even if it is hot or difficult, but we do it because we know that the reward comes from Allah (swt).

Finally, if we are able to learn and stick to those very special reminders that Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) gave us, we can become much, much stronger and be ready for the arrival of our beloved Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj), inshāʾAllāh!

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

Download related Muḥarram Project Booklet for lessons and crafts.

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