Fatima Ali Jaffer – Nairobi, Kenya
You’re the Only One for Me
Because there is no duality in Islam at any level, Tawhid isn’t just a mental concept, but a practical one too.
When we decide to do something, we say “Insha’Allah” (If God Wills); when things go the way we want – and even when they don’t – we say “Alhamdulillah” (Praise be to God); when someone does us a favour, we say “Jazakallah” (May God reward you for this) simultaneously acknowledging that it is God who brought that good to us through that person. Life becomes about recognizing God through and in your environment, your circumstances, the activities you indulge in, the people around you and most importantly, in your self.
To be a Muslim is to be constantly aware of the presence of God, not only as theological idea, but as a metaphysical truth and a living Reality. Whatever we do – individual or societal, spiritual or political – is (ideally) connected to God. It’s what I fondly call going through life wearing God-Coloured Lenses. Piety or spiritual levels in Islam are related to the degree to which a person has realized this Tawhid.
Tawhid is a huge (and i mean he-yuge) subject so I won’t even try to ramble more about it. There’s plenty available to read, and I recommend The Sermon of The Skeletons* by Ali ibn Abi Talib for not only a more in-depth description of Tawhid, but also some very interesting descriptions on creation as a whole.
The only thing left to say is that it was because Muslims had forgotten this fundamental belief that Karbala took place. They were putting up with a tyrant who broke laws, oppressed people and flouted the principles of Islam without opposition. Had he continued un-opposed, there is little doubt that the Muslim empire would have gone the way of many dictatorships before it and imploded before becoming a distant cultural occurrence in the time line of world history.
It was to revive the spirit of Tawhid that Husayn ibn Ali allowed himself to be forced onto the scorching plains of a little known desert. On the 3rd of Muharram, he was ordered to move his small camp, including women and little children from the banks of the River Euphrates and he did this without protest. When asked why he complied, he stated that he did not want history to record the inevitable confrontation as a ‘fight over water’. The battle was to establish Truth and nothing would be allowed to come in the way of that.
Today is the 7th of Muharram, when the water supplies ran dry in Husayn’s camp and for the next three days, not a drop of water reached them. People sometimes wonder whether it was necessary for Karbala to be as brutal as it was. But the desperate need for a protest would not have been understood, nor the depths to which the souls of those claiming to be Muslims had sunk been recognized, if we did not see in the annals of history, the little children of Husayn weakly crying out to the enemy “Thirst! Thirst is killing us” and if we did not see the enemy reply by holding out flasks of water, only to mockingly laugh and pour the precious liquid onto the burning sands as the children watched in despair…