A new year's message
Written by Dr. Farah Zahir | Published a year ago
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
و صلي علا سيدنا محمد و علا آل سيدنا محمد و صحبه وسلم تسليما
All praise and thanks to Allahﷻ we have entered into the Gregorian year of 2021, while we continue our sojourn through the Hijri year of 1442.
Time and its counting are of consequence in our understanding, as Allahﷻ has mentioned them on several occasions in His book;
هُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ ٱلشَّمْسَ ضِيَآءًۭ وَٱلْقَمَرَ نُورًۭا وَقَدَّرَهُۥ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا۟ عَدَدَ ٱلسِّنِينَ وَٱلْحِسَابَ ۚ مَا خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ ذَٰلِكَ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ ۚ يُفَصِّلُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لِقَوْمٍۢ يَعْلَمُونَ
He, the one who made the sun a radiant lamp and the moon a light, and subjected them to phases (so that you may) count the years and the reckoning. Allah did not create this except by Truth. He clarifies the signs for people who have knowledge.
Therefore, it is good for us to take stock of the stages ordained in time’s passing. The knowledge Allahﷻ talks about in the above verse, is inner knowledge. A person who has inner knowledge understands the true import of the passage of time, and thus finds guidance in how to conduct his/her affairs by the counting of the sun and the moon. That is, the true purpose of why Allahﷻ created the Sun and the Moon is known to such a one, and they can therefore derive maximum benefit from these great creations. May we be among such people who are gifted true divine knowledge.
However, until we reach such a state, we may derive what guidance we can from the outer manifestations of time. The year 2020 was portended to be a difficult one in the teachings of many faith groups – Islamic, Buddhist as well as ancient now lost religious traditions, to give some examples. These teachings are prophetic by the classical definition of ‘prophesy’ – ‘telling of what is to come’.
Allahﷻ sends to us prophets who convey prophesies as a means of great help. They are both warners and bringers of glad tidings. On examination though we see that a warning really is good news – for its only purpose is so that we may avoid danger and be safe. Glad tidings on the other hand, give us hope and strength as we carry on through what can seem interminable darkness.
On Thursday nights – the night of Friday by our Divinely taught counting of day and night – we gather to recite the ‘Basha’ir al Khairat’ of Imam Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, as part of our Irfa’a dhikr majlis. Those who have been joining us routinely may now know the immense blessing of reciting this litany. The litany, almost a 1000 years old, which may be loosely translated as ‘The glad tidings of good things’ is a powerful recitation that reminds us through a magnificent divinely inspired arrangement of Quranic verses accompanying salutations upon our master Muhammed ﷺ, of all the very many glad tidings God has promised those who live the way the One Divine guides.
And indeed, we remind ourselves that God does not change His word, nor does He break His promise. Therefore, be assured that if this word is written upon you, you are certainly one to be congratulated, for the best of good news is yours!
As we continue our journey through this difficult phase in time, we must hold on to this hope and make it our glad tidings in our hearts – that keep us warmed, comforted and strengthen us in our resolve to continue on the beautiful path of uprightness. الصراط المستقيم
At Irfa’a we have much to be grateful for the past year; through immense difficulties and trials Allahﷻ has kept us steady, has grown our family, has opened for us new means of communication and outreach, has granted us new ties of friendship and companionship in many different countries, has enabled us to continue sharing whatever of good we know through our new website, our YouTube channel, our new Podcast channel, Saturday classes, weekly dhikr majalis, and most blessedly our recurrent gatherings to complete the Quran. These are marks of Allah’s pleasure upon us, and we grateful and humbly acknowledge them.
I also want to offer my personal thanks to all our donors and supporters - so many who wish not to be named – may Allahﷻ increase His blessed provision upon you all. Especially as you have stuck to supporting our young organization despite my being unable to be physically with you. This is a great mark of the One Divine’s favour upon you and indeed glad tidings to you for this!
And I hope for your continued support in both tangible and intangible ways as we continue our journey of enabling everyone to reach their God gifted purpose. Please help us in whatever way you can, with your prayers, financially, by volunteering your time and your skills and continuing to be there for us as part of our community and family.
Allah has also benefitted us in ways we don’t see as easily the past year – He has protected us from numerous avenues of harm. Often as we don’t see what dangers have been averted, we forget how much we have to be grateful in this regard. No doubt we are continuously being cloaked in Allah’s soothing and strong protection from both inward and outward dangers.
Rumi (may God’s mercy be upon him) famously said, that ‘health and wealth are what keep a person distant from Allah’. Indeed, there is truth to this, though it is not an all-encompassing statement, as there are several examples of people who reached the highest state of closeness with God, who had both health and wealth. Nevertheless, for the majority of us, we find closeness to God more easily in hardship than in ease. So again, glad tidings to the one patient when calamity befalls him.
ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌۭ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَٰتٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌۭ ۖ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُهْتَدُونَ
Those who, when calamity befalls them, say ‘verily we belong to Allah and to Him we will return’. Upon them be the salutations from their Lord and His rahma (merciful caring), and they are the ones who are the guided
A careful reading of the above verses and some thought as to their meaning will show us that;
a. there is nothing strange in calamity befalling us – it is part and parcel of the Divinely ordained brief experience of worldly life
b. The way to successfully undergo such an experience is to remember that we are here for a brief time with an assured return to God, and indeed that we belong to God in the first place, and He does not subject us to anything unjustly or without cause.
c. That merely having the above remembrance and attitude opens upon us the immeasurable blessing of
God himself sending His greeting to us personally and His merciful caring.
d. To have God’s greeting and His merciful caring means you will be among those correctly guided, so no fear nor grief for you. Success is assured as long as guidance is followed.
There are only a few instances in the Quran where Allahﷻ describes who He personally greets. If Allah blesses us, we should try to devote a Saturday class to go through these categories of people – so we may work toward being one of them. That would certainly be a worthy achievement to pursue during our time on earth.
On that note, let us remind ourselves of our beloved mother Kadhija the great, the leader of women in Paradise and who is such a great foundation of our strength at Irfa’a. She was one we know God greeted personally, honouring her even more by sending His greeting through none other than the archangel Gabriel himself.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said that Gabriel said, "Here is Khadija coming to you with a dish (of food or drink). Convey to her a greeting from her Lord (Allah) and give her the glad tidings that she will have a palace in Paradise built of Qasab wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue (trouble)."
-Given in hadith collections of Muslim and Bukhari and other places
We also learn from how our mother Kadhija, God’s pleasure be upon her, responded when she was given this amazing news. She said;
‘ Allah is the Peace, and He is the source of all peace, and upon Gabriel be peace’
What a profound understanding of who God is! She had true ‘ma’rifah’, i.e., gnosis. She knew who God was. God cannot be greeted in the same way God greets us, but from her good manners – she did not neglect to greet Gabriel.
I look forward to continuing to meet you on our podcast, youtube channel, at our classes and events and pray we may meet in person as well. Continue your hard work and service with good pleasure and peace in your heart. Know that God sees well all your struggles, difficulties and hardships. Know also that whatever we undergo of hardship will always be either purification for us or elevation for us - so be of good cheer. Both are glad tidings for you!
I leave you with this prayer for 2021. May we continue to be well guided and helped by the One Divine and may we be amongst those who receive God’s personal greeting during our lifetime. Once Divine greeting is given us, we have peace and security with us forever, as God himself is Peace.
May The Peace be with you,