Clergy Corner

Human Sweetness

Shaikh Muhammad Khalfan

In the same way that the Chief of the Believers says that some parts of the Qur’an explain others, the words of the Ahlul Bayt, which are commentaries of Allah’s Book, likewise are explained with the help of their other statements.

Shaikh Muhammad KhalfanThere are ample traditions that characterize the believers (mu’mins) with sweetness and love for sweetness. Following are some examples worthy of reflection:

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is reported to have said: (1) “A believer is sweet (al-mu’minu hulwun) and loves sweetness (yuhibbu al-halaawa).” (2) “The heart of a believer is sweet (qalb al-mu’minu hulwun), and it loves sweetness (wa yuhibbu al-halaawa).” (3) “A believer is like a bee (al-mu’mninu ka al-nahla): it eats pleasant food, and provides pleasant food.” And Imam Ali (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: (4) “Our true followers are like bees (Shi’atuna bimanzilat al-nahl); if people would know what is in their stomachs, they would have eaten the same (law ya’lam al-nas maa fi ajwaafiha la akaluha).”

If we reflect over these traditions with a broad sense of vision, we would come to realize that the entire being of a faithful believer is sweet. In the same way that the Chief of the Believers says that some parts of the Qur’an explain others, the words of the Ahlul Bayt, which are commentaries of Allah’s Book, likewise are explained with the help of their other statements. This is because akin to the infallible Book wherein there is no contradiction, the words of the Ahlul Bayt likewise have no contradiction. Therefore in order to understand their words, we must not look at some of their words and discard others.

In our case, due to our intense material tendency, we only try to comprehend sweetness as that which our faculties of taste can appreciate and comprehend. If we were to consider the fundamental dimension of the human being, which is his spirit, the aforementioned traditions would become clearer for us to understand. We must know that the veil of ignorance is from our side, and not from the radiant words of the Ahlul Bayt, about which we express in Ziyarat al-Jami’a as Kalaamukum noor (your words are light). Browsing through the brilliant corpus of the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt, we come to understand that there is a sparkling realm of sweetness yet to be discovered.

Consider the following narrations: (1) In one of his sermons narrated in Nahj al-Balagha, Imam Ali describing exalted people says: “Indeed they have tasted the sweetness of knowing Him (qad dhaaqu halaawata ma’rifatihi).” (2) Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “When a believer withdraws himself from the world he soars spiritually high and tastes the sweetness of the love of Allah” (idhaa takhalla al-mu’minu min al-dunya samaa wa wajada halawata hubbillah).” (3) Imam al-Sadiq is reported to have said: “Justice is sweeter than water that a thirsty person gets (al-‘adlu ahlaa min al-maa’i yusibuhu al-zam’aan).” (4) In one of the brilliant supplications of Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him), he prays to Allah: “And make me taste the sweetness of Your forgiveness (wa adhiqni halaawata maghfiratik).” (5) In yet another supplication, Imam al-Sajjad prays to Allah: “And make us taste the sweetness of Your constant love and proximity (wa adhiqna halawata wuddika wa qurbika).” (6) In a tradition Imam al-Sadiq is reported to have said: “And whosoever from among the nation of Muhammad knows the compulsory right of his Imam would find the taste of the sweetness of his faith” (faman ‘arafa min ummati Muhammad (s) waajiba haqqi Imamihi wajada ta’ma halaawati imaanihi).” (7) In a conversation with Prophet Dawud, Almighty Allah speaking of the worldly scholars, says: ‘The least I will do to them is that I will remove the sweetness of munajat from their hearts (inna adna ma ana saani’un bihim an anza’a halaawata munaajaati ‘an quloobihim).” (8) In the well-known Du’a Jawshan al-Kabir, we address Almighty Allah as “O One whose remembrance is sweet” (yaa man dhikruhu hulwun).”

Therefore, as it is correct in the physical plane of existence to say that a believer naturally loves to eat sweet things, it is correct to say in the plane of his spirit that he loves spiritual sweetness. What literally jerks a human being is when a youth of tender age like Qasim ibn al-Hasan (peace be upon) who deeply aspires for martyrdom is asked by uncle, the Lord of the Martyrs (peace be upon him), “O my dear son, how is death to you?”, he responds, “O uncle, it is sweeter than honey! (Yaa ‘amm ahla min al-‘asal.)” This clearly reveals how exalted a station had this young boy achieved.

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  • Syed Sagheer Hussain Jaffri

    This world is forbiden for the peoples of next world, next world is forbiden for the peoples of this world and Both worlds are forbiden for the peoples of Allah. World means desires and it makes peoples impure and nothing is acceptable in the state of impurity.

  • Hassan Jaffer

    This is common fallacy and I’m afraid the Sheikh has made a mistake. Where exactly does Imam Ali state: “some parts of the Qur’an explain others”??! I’d love to see that hadith…..

    As for S. Sagheer’s comment, I’m sure what you’ve stated isn’t a Hadeeth, so where did you come up with this statement? It makes no sense, esp. the last part!!

    • RE: Hassan

      I always find it amusing to see people with no scholarly background asking a respectable/trustworthy scholar (who has studied in the hawza for almost a decade) for a “reference”. Mr. Jaffer, even if there was a reference provided, exactly how many books of hadith do you have access to where you could go verify it? If you don’t think the scholar is reliable in quoting the hadith, how can you trust him for a reference either? This is very silly logic.

      And by the way, tafsir of the Quran by the Quran has been taught by the Masoomeen (as) and used by multiple scholars through history. Just see Al-Mizan by Allama Tabatabai.

      In the future, if you have questions, feel free to pose those in a respectful way. But don’t accuse a scholar of “fallacy” when you yourself obviously know very little on a subject. It’s rude, and frankly makes you look a little stupid.

      • Hassan Jaffer

        I’ll tell you who looks “stupid”; it’s the one who has no name, barges in verbally abusing people when I’m asking a legitimate question. Who do you think you are?! You sound like an arrogant Wahhabi. I sure hope you’re not the author of the article because that would be sad.. Just sad! I’ve asked a uqestion which aims to point out the mistranslation made by the “scholar who has studied for over a decade” due to his erroneous presuppositions about Tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an. The “Hadith” he refers to is in Nahjul Balagha (yes, I’ve read a few books in my lifetime) and the Imam states: each part [of the Qur’an] speaks for the other, and testifies for the other”. Nowhere does it say that it explains the other. What this means is that verses of the Qur’an are consistent and in complete uniformity, leading to undeviating conclusions. How did you (or the respectable Sheikh or even al Mizan) deduce that the verses explain each other from this Hadith? Set aside your biases and prejudices and open your mind to the possibility of the Sheikh actually (god forbid) making a mistake.. Oh, and do you know who was the first to introduce Tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an? It was the one who said: “The Qur’an is sufficient for us”. Since verses really explain each other, why need Ahlulbayt?!

        May Allah have mercy on you..

        • Hassan Jaffer

          Here’s the actual Hadith (if you can actually read Arabic):
          كتاب اللَّه تبصرون به، وتنطقون به، وتسمعون به، وينطق بعضه ببعض، ويشهد بعضه على بعض، ولا يختلف في اللَّه

          • Dot

            Hassan, I agree that the person who responded to you was not polite, but then we don’t disprove such behavior be acting the same way. If you had first brought the hadith that you quoted and then just backed up your point, that would have been better. Actually, while I disagree with some of Sheikh Khalfan’s views, I would never suggest he is against Ahlul-Bait because he has even written books in praise of them and saying very explicitly that we need to follow the Prophet’s family for guidance.

            Let us look at the crux of the discussion and not get sidetracked. I have more to say about your approach, but let’s first look at the facts.

            This is what seems to be the important part of the discussion: Hassan, you wanted a proof from Ahlul-Bait that the Qur’an speaks for itself. The person who responded to you, whoever they are, thought you were attacking the scholar’s status by not accepting his word as being backed by proof. You then felt compelled to explain you had a hadith that proved the concept. Knowing Arabic, I read the hadith and felt it did not contradict Sheikh Khalfan’s point that we can learn many things directly from the Qur’an. If anything, it complemented his view.

            Now, I hope you agree that I understand both sides of the issue. To be frank, I don’t think the scholar ever suggested we don’t need Ahlul-Bait. Afterall, the Qur’an itself says we need to turn to Allah’s representatives for guidance. Furthermore, the hadith you brought proves his point, that the Qur’an speaks and testifies for itself. That does not mean that we automatically understand everything, because of course we still need Ahlul-Bait’s guidance. The Qur’an itself says it. The traditions say it. Of course Sheikh Khalfan knows that. (continued)

          • Dot

            (continued from above) Hassan, our own dignity should be above blowing up on people. Otherwise there is no point in us talking about Qur’an and Ahlul-Bait. Who is the person who would blow up? He was the person we all know said “the Qur’an is sufficient for us”. But that person was only doing that for an agenda to not follow Ahlul-Bait. With Sheikh Khalfan, while I disagree with some of his views as I mentioned earlier, it is very obvious he wants everyone to love and follow Ahlul-Bait. I’m afraid you are mistaken.

            Clearly Sheikh Khalfan wants readers to follow Ahlul-Bait’s guidance, because in his article above he says “the words of the Ahlul Bayt [like the Quran] have no contradiction. Therefore in order to understand their words, we must not look at some of their words and discard others.” It unfair and wrong to suggest he is saying the Qur’an is enough for us.

            I think the best way of understanding the idea of tafsir of Qur’an by Qur’an is to look at the shahada. If you say just “there is no god”, then you will be lead astray. But if you say the whole phrase, “there is not god but Allah”, you will be lead to the straight path. What the shaikh is saying is that when we approach the Qur’an we should try to look at the whole package because it will tell us many things we would not otherwise understand. Even the Qur’an speaks of so many modern things that there are no clear hadiths about. Similarly, the hadiths talk about things which are not at all clear from the Qur’an. (continued)

          • Dot

            (continued from above) Both Qur’an and Ahadith have special jewels that are particular only to Qur’an or only to Ahadith. For example, in salat, you cannot replace the surahs of the Qur’an with what Ahlul-Bait said. Qur’an has it’s own beauty and important message, even without Ahlul-Bait’s explanation. Of course we know that to best understand the message we still need the Prophet and his family, and that their explanation is the ultimate one that cannot be replaced with our own. Sheikh Khalfan knows this, you know it, I know, the person who responded to you knows it, and there is no need to make this issue into a bigger thing than what has now been said.

            Hassan, thank you for reading. For the record, I am not Sheikh Khalfan, but I hope you consider my posts carefully because I have also studied a bit, alhamdulillah. My name is not important.

      • Dot

        I agree with some of your views, but you didn’t need to say that last paragraph, especially the last paragraph. He should also not have responded to you in the way he did. You both should apologize.

        • Dot

          *you didn’t need to say that last paragraph, especially the last sentence.