In the name of Allah
The All Compassionate, the All Merciful
14 Ramadan 1438 (9 June 2017)
Islamic Universal Association
20 Penzance Place, Holland Park
London, W11 4PG
Wisdom- Part 14
In Ayah 40 of Surah An-Naml it has been stated that Solomon asked his courtiers if anyone, among them, could bring Bilquis, Queen of Sheba’s throne to him before she arrives in total submission to Allah (S.W.t). One of them said; “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place” and Asif ibne Barkhiah, “who had some knowledge of the Book said: ‘I will bring it to you before the twinkling of your eyes….”. No sooner had he finished this phrase that the throne stood before Solomon. The mission had, indeed been completed within the blinking of an eye. Solomon’s seat was located in Palestine, and the throne of Bilquis was in Yemen, over two thousand kilometers away. This was a great miracle performed by one of Solomon’s ministers. Solomon praised the Lord and the last clause of the Ayah asserts that man’s devotion to Allah (S.W.t) is just in his own interests for Allah (S.W.t) is far above the need of any gratitude or return from anyone.
There are a lot of views as to who was Asif ibne Barkhiah. It has been held by scholars that he was minister or vizier in Solomon’s empire and his nephew, his sister’s son. Solomon had taught him the secret Names of God (Isme Azam) through which one could do amazing things when no one could ever venture to do. According to Ibne Abbas, he was the scribe of Solomon. It was narrated by Mohammad ibne Ishaq from Yazid ibne Ruman, “Asif ibne Barkhiah was a truthful believer who knew the greatest Names of God.” Qatadah has said, “He was a believer among the humans, and his name was Asif.”
In the book of Majma Al-Bayan it has been reported that there are different views about the meaning of the word ‘Book’. Some say that it refers to Lauh-i-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) whilst others are of the view that it is the Book of Allah (S.W.t). Some commentators have held that the angels brought the throne to Solomon, while others have held that the wind, by the order of Allah (S.W.t), carried the throne to Solomon whereas Imam Sadeq (a.s) and others are of the view that the earth rolled the throne to Solomon.
The moral of this narration is that knowledge has a great impact in one’s life and man can achieve many amazing things through it. However, divine or spiritual knowledge is far above human knowledge as mentioned in the Ayah.
Imam Hasan Mujtaba (a.s)
My felicitations to Imam Mahdi and to the followers of the Ahlul Bait on the birth anniversary of Imam Hasan (a.s) who was born in Medina on the 15th of Ramadan, 2/3 Hijri, the year of the Battle of Uhad.
He was the first child of Imam Ali and Fatimah (a.s). Seven days after he was born Fatimah (a.s) brought the baby to the Holy Prophet (s.a) to name him and in compliance with Allah (S.W.t)’s command the Holy Prophet (s.a) named him Hassan. Thereafter the Holy Prophet (s.a) carried out the rituals to be performed on the seventh day after the birth of a baby. He slaughtered a ram and according to another tradition he slaughtered two rams. He then shaved the infant’s head (aqiqah) and gave the weight of his hair in silver as alms to the poor. These rituals, which the Holy Prophet (s.a) performed for Imam Hassan (a.s) became a sunnah which Muslims perform on the birth of their new arrivals.
Imam Hassan (a.s) lived with his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (s.a), for seven years and a few months, who gifted him with all his great qualities and adorned him with divine knowledge, tolerance and valour. After the demise of his grandfather he devoted himself to the sacred mission of peacefully propagating Islam and the teachings of his grandfather. He lived for 30 years, under the guidance of his father, Imam Ali (a.s). The martyrdom of his father in 40 Hijri marked the inception of his Imamate which lasted for 9/10 years and during that period he lived in conditions of extreme hardship and under persecution.
No sooner had he taken over the reins of leadership, he had to meet the challenges of Muawiya, the governor of Syria, who began to undermine his authority. The Imam decided that Muawiya would have to be ousted by force and he tried to fight him, but Muawiya bribed and threatened many of his men into abandoning him, including Ubaidullah ibne Abbas, the commander of his army, who betrayed him. Meanwhile, Muawiya wrote to him suggesting a truce on the Imam’s terms and in 41 Hijri, 4 months and 3 days after taking over the Imamate he entered into a peace treaty with Muawiya as he realized that he could not trust most of his men and the only people he could rely on were the Shiites, who were too few to fight the Syrian soldiers. He was criticized for entering into a peace treaty even by his followers and he explained the reason for doing so in one of his sermons. He said, “O people, no one can claim to be the grandson of the Holy Prophet, except me and my brother, Husain and you should know that Muawiya usurped my rights to the Caliphate but to save the lives of the Islamic nation and my followers I did not contest it. I am your Imam and you have pledged allegiance to obey me in time of peace or war. I have chosen peace so that the Islamic nation would benefit from it which is a trial for me and you all as well.”
However, Muawiya was still not satisfied for he knew that the treaty was never meant as a surrender of authority by Imam Hassan (a.s) because he was the divinely appointed Imam. It was merely an interim transfer of the administration of the Islamic State, subject to the condition that it would be returned to the Imam after Muawiya’s death and then it would in turn be inherited by Imam Husain (a.s). However, Muawiya had plans to declare Yazid, his son, as his successor, and he decided to get rid of the Imam first who had returned to Medina. The Imam was finally poisoned by his wife Judah binte Ashath, under the instigation of Muawiyah, on the 28th of Safar, 50 Hijri and he was buried in Janaatul Baqi in Medina by the side of his grandmother, Fatima binte Asad.