Being Present – The Contingency of Time & Place

Lailatul Qadr & Ashara

Lost time is never found again. The trouble is that we think we have time, but we don’t. We actually have no idea when our time will run out.

Our lives are like a pendulum. We swing from one moment to another and one place to another. The clock hands are constantly itching to move on and never stand still. We cannot freeze the moments that pass. They are lost as soon as the next one begins and there is no turning back. We exist in the fabric of space-time and we are governed by its laws as is the entire universe. Nothing escapes it and everything depends on it. Before we existed here, we existed where there was no time or place. But we fell prey to our vices and purgatory ensued. That purgatory is defined by time and space. To be able to emancipate yourself from the stranglehold of time and space, you must first be enslaved by it. Give in to it. Accept it.

To be on time and in the right place is not something which is intrinsic to human nature. The rebel inside voices its dissent and beguiles you into ignoring the imperative of time and place. The student who knows well in advance his exam dates, will, despite being of sound mind and rational reasoning, still leave it to the last possible moment to prepare. The consequences are obvious. The route to success is paved by doing things at the right time and in the right place. We call that ‘opportunity’.

When Mufaddal Moula calls out to every Mumin to attend Lailatul Qadr and Ashara, it is a call to grasp the opportunity of a lifetime. These two events in a year define what it means to be a Mumin. But these events are contingent on time and place. Just as namaaz loses its meaning if prayed outside its stipulated time frame, these events simply evaporate into nothingness if they do not adhere to their allotted time and place.

Imam Hussain’s Shahadat was preordained even before the existence of time and space. It could not have happened anywhere else other than in the scorching sands of Karbala. It was destined that Imam Hussain’s steed would come to a halt as it set foot in Karbala on the second day of Moharram, not a day before or later. That moment and that place are of utmost significance. It was to that end that Imam Hussain summoned an old man and specifically queried the name of the exact spot where his horse had stopped. It marked the beginning of the events of Karbala, events which would cement the future existence of Islam and the salvation of every Mumin.

Hence, when Moula made it compulsory on every single Mumin man, woman and child to be present from the very first waaz of Ashara, we need to understand that our dedication to Imam Hussain is entirely contingent on being present in the right place, at the right time. That place is the Majlis of Ashara Mubaraka and the time is the second day of Moharram, just as Karbala was the place of Imam Hussain’s Shahadat, beginning from that fateful moment of Imam Hussain’s horse standing still.

The Quran defines Lailatul Qadr as continuing ‘till the rise of dawn’. There is no ambiguity. Rasulullah intentionally remained discreet as to the exact date of Lailatul Qadr when queried by those who caused inhumane suffering to Moulatena Fatema – the very Moulatena Fatema for whom Lailatul Qadr exists. He only revealed the time for Lailatul Qadr for those who remained loyal to Moulatena Fatema and her progeny. In other words, it is Rasulullah’s gift to us that he showed us the time of Lailatul Qadr and in turn, the washeq we pray, is a humble and meagre tribute of gratitude expressed as we turn our cheeks in prostration.

Burhanuddin Moula used to say that every moment of Lailatul Qadr, from the moment of sundown to the rise of dawn is infinitely precious. There is a moment in Lailatul Qadr, when if you ask Allah for anything, no matter what it is, that is such that that prayer will be answered instantly. He said that these moments – the hours, minutes and seconds of this eve of salvation, represent each Dai. When we embrace each treasured moment of Lailatul Qadr, we are reaching out to every Dai… Burhanuddin Moula, to Mufaddal Moula. We – from our ageing elders to our milk-suckling infants, cannot let even a nanosecond be lost in jest, ignorance, or worse, unconsciousness. We risk losing the principles of our faith that in this night of seclusion, we turn a blind eye to our Dai and Moula who is our beacon of light and hope.

Time is inseparable from change. It is a measure of the rate of change. If everything in the universe were to just stop, time would become meaningless. Hence, to become better, to propel ourselves from imperfection, we need to rethink our relationship with time – by understanding what to do at the right time and in the right place. Moula shows us that.

There are those who convince themselves that they can spend Lailatul Qadr in their homes, away from where Moula’s flock have congregated. That is a deceptive illusion. The right place is defined by Moula’s RAZA MUBARAK. Once we undermine that principle, we severe our connection with Moula. We need to emerge from this self-imposed shroud of delusion and understand Lailatul Qadr and Ashara for what they are and understand that they are entirely time and place-contingent.

If we cannot spare one night from 365 nights or a few hours a day from the second of Moharram in remembering Moulatena Fatema and Imam Hussain with our Moula, then we lose our humanity. We brazenly cast aside the value of the tears shed by Moulatena Fatema and the drops of blood that flowed from every inch of Imam Hussain’s wounded body. These tears and this blood gave us everything. How could we possibly live with ourselves for not making the smallest sacrifice of our time by being present in Lailatul Qadr till dawn and in the days of Moharram from the beginning? Our peace, our happiness, our children, our health, our wealth, our wellbeing, our careers, our education, our faith, our morality, our mortality, our very being, our salvation – we owe it ALL to these tears and to these drops of blood. Can we be so disaffected, so unmoved, so stonehearted, that we cannot spare even a few tears and a few hours when what is due is infinitely more?

If you want to change, you have to be willing to engage with time and place outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. If you are waiting for the right time, it is NOW. If you want to know the right place, it is HERE – with Moula.

Lailatul Qadr and Ashara ultimately trace our destiny. They definitively decide the success of every future moment of ours and assure us of our place in this life and the next. If we want to pave that destiny, we need to heed Moula’s call to the time and place to which he beckons.

Our time on earth is fleeting so let us pray that may we have the courage and conviction to say LABBAIKA YA DAI E YALLAH “We hear you”. Ameen

Adnan Abidali

Aljamea tus Saifiyah, Nairobi

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