We have S. Nooru for our nightly Ramadhan lectures here at HIC in Sanford, FL. Originally from Ghana, revert to Shia Islam and a role model for our other ‘uleema’s’ to emulate, regarding his eloquence of delivery, his knowledge of the Holy Quraan and visible commitment to his audience’s spiritual reform and excellence. What a refreshing change from the humdrum of other, repeat speakers who HIC keep inviting. S. Nooru has an acute insight to human phycology and can empathize with (most of) the Khoja psyche. Alas, he is not masoom, so is prone to the disease most lecturers acquire in their professional careers – the love for gadgets that amplify sounds and the lack of time discipline.
His topic of discourse, duas in general and Dua e Abu Hamza Thumali in particular, from my favorite Imam Sajjad (A), is an eye opener. That the Imam (A) was an eloquent presenter of his most inner feelings to Allah I knew, but he was also a man most humble, most lowly, a trait I have yet to master personally, unfortunately.
S. Nooru covered a lot of topics in the fifteen lectures, but the most impact he made, on me, was his second lecture. It was a blockbuster and had the entire audience in rapt attention. S. Nooru is not a Khoja, was not even born a Shia Muslim. He accepted Shia Islam because he studied it, understood it, thus Allah opened his eyes and heart, so he grasped it and ran with it. That is what makes him so different from me (us).
Some of the more important lessons he imparted, paraphrasing:
1. Don’t ignore the Quraan. We have firmly adopted Ahlebeyt (A) but ignored the holy book. The best way to understand the Quraan is through the Quraan, one verse explaining the ambiguity of another. The Quraan – a healer, an anti-depressant, a counselor of the mind and heart, cure for loneliness and depression.
2. Our love for rituals, my favorite topic. In case of doubts, always fall back on what the Aimaas (A) did. Reject whatever they did not practice, adopt what they did. Very simple. It is not necessary to cram the whole Quraan in a limited period. The pondering of one ayaat of the blessed book carries more currency than breathing through the entire book without comprehension. Allah has created summers and winters and time restraints. So during the summer, when there is very little time and reciting of Dua e Komail is a time challenge, by Allah, it is not the end of the world! Reciting it like there is a burning coal on the tongue just because it is Thursday defeats the whole purpose of the excellent supplication.
3. Dua, says S. Nooru, is a self-audit, self-assessment and understanding our weak points. Wow! Never thought of dua this way, but is it true, no? We can ritually recite the entire Mafaati Ul Jeenan, both volumes every single day of our lives to no use if – we violate huquuq naas, cheat in business, devour ghasbee, backbite. Of all these major sins, Allah cannot and will not pardon huquuq naas; we can chant Al ghaus, Al ghaus until our faces turn blue.
4. Duas, for us, especially the Khoja community, is mostly a ritual affair. Our excuse? We found our fathers and forefathers recite these duas on such and such night, and we are off and running. Remember the exact same excuse given by some condemned people in the Holy Quraan? Furthermore, we have no clue what we are supplicating about; the Arabic and poetic nature of recitation just make us feel good. It is not the length, nor the number that we can cram in a single night that counts. S. Nooru points out duas, short, to the point and with sincerity, are more likely to be accepted when it’s raining, when infants cry (yup, didn’t know about that!), immediately after adhaan… Allah is looking at our struggles towards perfection, not mind numbing, leg cramping, sleep inducing ritualistic recitations; so what if the reciter has a melodious voice, reminiscent of our Ramadhan’s in Dar es Salaam or Mombasa.
5. Dua is not an assessment of others; it is our hope. They are meant to humble us, tear away our arrogance because when we ask Allah for something, it is to acknowledge there is a power greater than us.
However, what endeared me to this man is his simple yet passionate method of arguing his points. There is absolutely no defensive fallback in his arguments, nor is there finger pointing. He did not say ‘…even the ahle-Sunna collaborate this hadith…’ even once! As if I need any third party endorsement about my Imam’s virtues or attributes. Nooru relies on the Quraan and quotes sensible, reasonable, rational hadeeth or actions of the Aimaas (A) to back up the Qur’anic quote.
Bravo Sir. From my side, kareebu to HIC, anytime. Now only if the Khojas at large will give the same respect and reverence to a Black man without the abaa and kabaa you are so qualified to adorn.
Our month of peace and worship is shattered by a lunatic who guns down 49 young innocent budding Floridians in a deadly carnage. I wake up to the bitter but now increasingly familiar taste in my mouth and a knot in my stomach at such animalistic behavior. Muslims are in the limelight again, for all the wrong reasons. I am supposed to be apologetic for my beliefs because an animal got easy access to firearms and massacred innocent people.
I will follow S. Nooru’s advice on this one and walk the Holy Prophets (S) example. I will swallow the bitterness in my mouth; I will try and calm the butterflies in my stomach. And I will smile at all the inconveniences and fear this brute is putting us through. I will pray for the victims, of course, for Allah to show mercy on their souls, to give their loved one’s the strength and fortitude to face this tragic calamity. I certainly condemn, with all the energy and passion my body can generate, that the killing of any soul as sinful and immoral.
I beseech Allah for mercy and peace in this era of mayhem and uncertainty and pray the rest of this holiest month ends in peace and worship.
Happy Eid Mubaarak, insha’Allah.