It is a common custom in most places of the world to give someone a gift on their birthday. This gift is not only a gesture of generosity, but also a renewal of the bond between the giver and recipient. This notion should be no different when it comes to the living Hujjah (ajtf) of our time. This Islamic year of 1433, 15th Sha’ban happened to be the 1178th birthday of our Imam (ajtf). A feat easy for Allah (swt) to keep someone alive that long comparable to the long lives of other representatives of the Creator like Prophet Nuh (as). Thus, given this auspicious occasion it would only be fitting that those who call themselves the Shia of the Mahdi (ajtf) give the Imam of their time a fitting ‘birthday’ gift. Analyzing the process of what the ideal gift is could be a complex and heavily opinionated process. But the perspective of this author is simple. What arguably pains the Imam (ajtf) most in this time of ghaibat is for what he cries tears of blood on a daily basis. Thus, one of the primary goals of the Imam (ajtf) as he fills this earth with justice on his return will be to avenge those slain in Kerbala. Thus, in order for the Imam (ajtf) to be relieved of this pain the best approach to undertake is one that is to pave the way for his return. The only and most fundamental way this can be done is to stay away from what is haram (forbidden) and do what is wajib (obligatory) in accordance to Islam; hence making this the best gift one can give to the Imam (ajtf) of this time.
Let us now do a simple exercise. Close your eyes after this sentence and analyze what thoughts come to mind when you read the word ‘Social Justice’.
Poverty, discrimination, ideological slavery, ‘the 99 percent’ OWS (Occupy Wall Street) were possible thoughts that may have crossed your mind. What this author would like to do is possibly migrate away from the typical definition and notion of social justice and with a play on words examine the idea of justice within social events; specifically those within the Shia community. In order to analyze this we begin with a case scenario.
It is the day of 15 Sha’ban, year 1433. A prominent member of the community is having a reception for his youngest daughter’s marriage. The community is abuzz with the excitement for the evening. But something is amiss here. Several ‘friends’ of the family from the community have not been invited to the wedding. Some muhajjabas (a woman who does hijab) that have been invited have been warned not to take off their hijabs. What could it be; why the secrecy?
Fast forward to two days after. The community is in shock (ie. those with some moral capital) following the events of Friday. Let’s break down what happened.
This event was essentially a mixed gathering. There was half a partition at the back for the ‘religious people’ (those who were invited) and the front was an open concept “Hey how are ya” mixed gathering. The stage, keeping in mind this is a daughter of someone who cries for Lady Zainab (sa), was a common sight open for all the non-mahrams to look at. The bride as expected was dressed in an immaculate and spectacular manner including the heavy makeup, hair done up and skin showing from body parts reserved normally for the husband. The dagger though was the Aalim (scholar) present in this gathering. Yes, he chose to sit at the back to display his disapproval of the events, but was that enough? Given that this individual is a scholar, one that is widely respected for his feats, the author will give him the benefit of the doubt/have a good opinion (Husn e Zan) in that he had a deeper purpose through his actions. We will still however discuss the implications of this action later in the article.
Let us connect the dots as to what this has to do with our 12th Imam (ajtf). The answer lies within the story of the people of Kufa. These people invited Imam Hussain (as) to be their leader and relieve them of the injustices of their time, yet when it came time to fulfill those promise of being good followers, they failed and in fact played a role in him being martyred. Thus, we need to understand that being a ritualistic azadaar, doing the hardest matam or praying for the Imam (ajtf) to reappear does not guarantee our position on the side of truth when the greater occultation ends. Thus we need to ensure that we understand the true message of Karbala and thus with Allah’s (swt) guidance, are on the side of Haqq in all aspects of our life, including social events.
Let us now dissect the aforementioned case scenario to take a lesson in order to prepare ourselves better for the Imam (ajtf).
Mixed Gathering: we are at a spiritual stage now that any individual with a faint connection to the religion and community understands that mixed gatherings are not allowed in Islam. The common argument here is that Hajj is a mixed gathering therefore so too can be a wedding. If one understand’s the basic philosophy of hijab it will be easy to see why this argument is flawed. The purpose of hijab for both men and women is to ensure that there is no lust between two non-mahram with the minimal protection being that of the visual type (i.e. not looking at a non-mahram lustfully). In order to protect the chastity of a woman and the modesty of a man, Islam has sanctioned for the gaze to be lowered for both genders. (specifically for the men as they are easier to get aroused visually) More specifically the woman has to cover her hair, wear clothing that does not show the contour of her skin and not apply makeup in front of non-mahram in order to protect her from being viewed lustfully.Using these criteria then, we clearly see the difference between Hajj and a wedding. In a wedding, women (and men) are dressed their best. Many have makeup on and are wearing clothes that may be skin tight or revealing. In this case, even if a woman has a physical covering over her head, it may not be deemed as Hijab since other factors compromise the equation. Contrast that to Hajj where a woman is dressed from head to toe in her ihraam, which also happens to be the same plain white colour as the rest of the woman at hajj. As the rules of being in ihraam also do not allow her to wear makeup (or even look in a mirror!) she has very little way of enhancing the way she looks. Thus, the conclusion being, that the concept of hijab is conserved within the precincts of Hajj and is not within that of a wedding and that is why a ‘mixed gathering’ in a wedding is haram and in Hajj is allowed. Therefore, if you would like it to be a mixed gathering at the next wedding you are asked to organize, then ask everyone to come in full Abaya or Ihraam.
Open Stage: We have already touched upon the subtleties of hijab and now understand why showing off a woman arguably looking the best she has ever in her life (i.e. the bride), to a gathering of non-mahram is wrong. But here I would like to share some specific advice to my dear brothers and sisters who are looking to get married in the near future. Number one; do not get influenced by the glamour of haram events like this. Yes, there will be pictures of this wedding out on Facebook that will impress you in their material value. The amazing decorations, the (im)perfect photography, the view of all having a good time; these and more will be the whisperings of awe that Shaitan will put in your heart. Your battle here will be to use your logic and refute these notions to understand that ‘I can be just as happy, if not happier in my wedding by keeping it halal’. Because what one has to understand here is that Shaitan will try and connect the notion of happiness with haram (as he does with many other acts) and thus ‘condition’ you to fall into the same trap as some individuals mentioned in the case scenario. Thus, remember this; true happiness only comes when one attains the pleasure of Allah (swt) for that is happiness of both this world and the next. Any happiness not connected to Allah (swt), the unlimited, is one that is short term and will perish. And as we are aware, what makes the Imam (ajtf) happy makes our Creator (swt) happy.
Aalim’s Presence: this fact is the one that saddens the heart the most. For the presence of a qualified religious authority in a gathering such as this, legitimizes the haram that takes place. It gives those who commit sins even more boldness and it frustrates and silences those who want to fight for the truth. Not only does it allow a haram event to take place in an isolated forum, but then gives courage to others to also hold such events knowing it is going to be backed up or at least attended by a religious authority. Even though it may seem far-fetched, it was the similar attitude of another religious authority whose actions lead up to the most heart wrenching murder of the representative of God on earth; Imam Hussain (as). Was it not Qadhi Shuraih who through his greed gave the verdict for the killing of Imam Husain (as)? The point here is not to belittle the tragedy of Karbala or to intensify unjustly the action of someone in a social event done wrong. The point here is that those who hold religiously authoritative positions have to understand that sometimes their actions speak louder than their words. Had this Alim chosen to walk out the wedding as soon as he saw the haram happening, just imagine the impact it would have had on future weddings. Those wanting the honour of having an Aalim attend and speak at their wedding would have to think twice before organizing a setting that is haram. Thus, if the community is to progress spiritually in its guidance, the teachings of those who hold authority need to be transmitted through actions as well as word, even if the consequences may cause personal discomfort.
All in all, staying away from Haraam and doing what is Wajib is best gift we can give to the Imam (ajtf) of our time. He has waited too long to avenge the tragedy of Karbala and what followed thereafter. We need to ensure that we as individuals as well as a community and the ummah as a whole do not fall into rituals and habits that delay the coming of the Imam (ajtf). Keeping that in mind, the readers should understand that this is not meant to be a personal attack on any individual, but rather an effort to highlight actions that are poisonous for the soul of a community; especially one that is eager for the reappearance of the Imam (ajtf). Apart from the Masumeen, we are all prone to make mistakes and commit acts that may upset our Imam (as) and the Creator (swt). Thus it is the hope of the author that this literary piece is viewed as criticism that is positive and constructive leading to the betterment of our community’s social events, and Insha’Allah also to the return of the Imam (ajtf).
 “I will, therefore, lament you morning and evening, and will weep blood in place of tears”; Ziyarat of Nahiya