Respect for the Haramain

Translated Speech of
His Eminence Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan
Shaikh Silsilah Naqshbandiah Owaisiah

The most delicate aspect of the visit to the Haramain Sharifain (two holy Precincts - K'abah and the Tomb of the holy Prophet-saw relates to their respect and decorum. The House of Allah in Makkah is a place of singular honour and sanctity, and whosoever dis­regards them, may instantly lose the reward of his lifetime of good deeds. People push and pull others in their frenzy to kiss the Black Stone. Men and women come in close physical contact with each other in that huge gathering, but nobody cares. People even clip pieces of its cover to take home as blessed souvenirs. Such misdeeds certainly do not bring blessings. The sanctity of the place demands that one should desire Allah's good pleasure and entreat Him to bestow the capacity for noble deeds. The respect for Allah's House is still an issue between the slave and his Lord. However, it becomes extremely delicate with respect to the holy Prophet's-saw Mosque in Madinah Munawwarah.

The concept of life after death has always perturbed man. Contradictory theories of scholars have confused the issue beyond comprehension. In reality, death does not denote total extinction or the end, the next life is an extension of this life. Allah created the Spirits in the Alam-e Amar (The Realm of Command). The pattern and span of life are both pre­ordained. Human beings arrive in this world at their appointed time after passing through a long evolutionary process. The seed is transferred from one body to the other, where it transforms into human form. Its food, which is necessarily related to clay, keeps reaching it from different sources. This Divine system is so perfect that nobody can stop, divert or consume a single grain that has been ordained for someone else. It is stated in Hadith, that no soul can die before consuming its apportioned provision. During this life, the Ruh (Spirit), which is the more important element of a human being, is obscured by the body, which eats and drinks, bears heat and cold, experiences joy and sorrow and tastes the results of good and bad. The body experiences all these physical effects directly while the Ruh feels them indirectly. When the body is in pain, the Ruh also experiences discomfort and when the body enjoys pleasure, the Ruh is also delighted. Death is a state which en­velops a person on completion of his worldly life, granted to him for performing good deeds in Allah's obedience. It does not completely sever the body-Ruh connection but just snaps only that line which animates the body, because the body does not require this facility any more. Death effects yet another change. It reverses the body-Ruh arrange­ment and brings the Ruh to the forefront. Now the Ruh is questioned about its deeds and tastes their reward or retribution. The body may apparently decompose, but each of its particles retains its connection with the Ruh. It is the same connection which existed before the body-Ruh union. All elements which eventually had to form part of a body were attracted by this connection. It continues to grow stronger with time.

After death, the Ruh waits till the day when all human beings complete their worldly test. That would mark the end of this life and the beginning of real life. All bodies would be raised again and reunited with their Ruh. They would both be given equal strength and sensation on that day, the body would be able to see and hear like the Ruh. It would also observe angels, Paradise or Hell. Similarly, the Ruh would experience physical feelings like the body. It would also experience pleasure, sorrow, heat or cold, that is the reality of human life. This process is common to all human beings, without exception. Every Mus­lim or Kafir, good or bad, has to pass through this cycle. The body may be cremated, but the Ruh retains its connection with every scattered particle. There is however a subtle dif­ference in the body-Ruh connection of a Muslim and a non Muslim. It is moderate in the case of a Kafir but is significantly strengthened by the light of Faith in a Muslim. This strong relationship propels the body to perform good deeds even against its will. The body may require more sleep but this light of Faith motivates it to rise and pray in the small hours of night. It may require food, but this relationship compels it to abstain from food and drink for the whole day during the month of Ramadhan. It may like to escape hurt but this light drives it to sacrifice its life. The strong connection which inspires the body to subdue its desires and strive for spiritual pleasure, is not weakened by death. This body-Ruh relationship is even stronger in the case of martyrs who are slain in the way of Allah. It has been observed that their bodies do not decompose after death. For that rea­son, the Quran has commanded that they should not be called dead. This fact has been established, down the ages through physical observation also. Premises of the holy Prophet's-saw Mosque were first extended in 1978 to accommodate the growing number of devotees. The proposed extension included the tomb of the holy Prophet's-saw father, which had been built by the Turks in a large building. It also included the tombs of Had­hrat Akasha-rau and another companion, whose name I forget. This area was higher than the ground level of the holy Prophet's-saw Mosque by about three or four feet. It was lev­elled down and the bodies were transferred to Jannat al Baqi’. The holy Prophet's-saw father had passed away before the birth of his blessed son-saw. At least fourteen centuries had elapsed since their death, but their bodies were found absolutely safe and fresh, as if they were only resting. Then, during the time of Hadhrat Amir Muawiyah-rau, bodies of the martyrs of Battle of Uhad were transferred to their present location. During excava­tion, a worker's spade hit the foot of Hadhrat Hamza-rau. A minor scratch caused a profuse blood flow, although he had been buried forty years since. If you study the Afghan Jihad struggle, you come across numerous miraculous events. I have read through the inter­views of western doctors who worked there. At times, they stated that bodies, that were weeks old, were brought to them. Some had been blown up by mines and some had been lying in ditches for weeks. But all these bodies were absolutely fresh and fragrant. The strange heavenly scent perfumed the whole room for days. Even their autopsies could not establish any scientific reason for this freshness and fragrance. There are many more similar events but I do not wish to recount them here. I want to submit that the strong body-Ruh connection of a martyr preserves his body and even his dress, in the grave just as in his worldly life. There is an old, vast grave yard outside our village. Time has ef­faced the site of many old graves there. When ever people dig a new grave, they usually discover the remains of an old body. They gather them to one corner and lay the new incumbent on the other side. A couple of years back, when they dug a grave they discov­ered an absolutely fresh body in a new shroud. He was a man from the past because no body from the village recognised him. The strong body-Ruh connection preserved both the body and dress. This is the status of those who are killed during Jihad.

The decision to join Jihad may be based on momentary emotions. The call of Jihad may motivate those who otherwise would never turn their faces towards the Qiblah for prayers in normal life, and their decision to join Jihad may be spurred on by inspiration. Far higher is the class of those people whose entire lives portray practical Jihad. They sacrifice their needs and desires in the way of Allah. Their life and death is devoted to His cause. That is the group of Aulia Allah, the custodians of sublime bliss. Their body-Ruh connection is much stronger than that of martyrs. Above them are the Tab'a Taba’in, Taba’in, Companions and finally the Prophets-as. The death of a Prophet-as doesn't resem­ble an ordinary death in any way. He is neither tested in this world nor awaits his result in the next. He is instead, blessed with the strength to guide and help others who are being tested in this world. His body-Ruh connection never weakens but continues to grow ever stronger. His death diverts his body's requirements and related affairs from this world to the next. After his death, a Prophet does not need this world's food, dress, medicine or company but continues to live in the next world exactly in the same manner as here. The body-Ruh connection remains absolutely unaffected. These, however, are the attributes of Prophets alone. Even among Prophets, the holy Prophet-saw possesses a singular distinc­tion. The Shari‘ah of other Prophets has been suspended, but his Prophethood, Shari‘ah and his blessed duty to safely usher humanity through the trial of this world to the peace of the next, remain as effective till the Last Day of this universe as on the first day of his deputation. This duty was obligatory for him when he migrated from Makkah, conquered Makkah, conquered the remaining portion of Arabia and founded an Islamic state. It re­mains his duty forever. Every member of humanity needs to obey the holy Prophet-saw, follow him and acquire his blessing that instil human hearts with the light of Faith and the resolve to perform good deeds. Those who witnessed his blessed counte­nance, prayed behind him, were educated by him and fought under his command were indeed very for­tunate people. They saw him, touched him and physically attended his august company. His death has only veiled his physical self. It has not made any other difference. That is the unanimous belief of all Ahl-e Sunnah wal Jama'at. Only a negligible few differ due to their ignorance. The four schools of religious thought don't dispute his life after death. They only differ about its condition because they are unable to perceive its reality. The other differences of present times are the product of sheer ignorance. It is so simple to understand that the holy Prophet-saw has moved from this world to the next where he lives according to the conditions prevalent in that world. He is still a Prophet and the source of guidance for mankind. His blessings that strengthen Faith and produce the resolve for good deeds, continue to reach humanity without any break. The Ummah, unanimously believes, that the blessed abode of his eternal rest, deserves as much respect today as during his worldly life.

The respect for his exalted status can be illustrated by the following incident. Once, a Bedouin came to visit him. He wanted to ask some questions from the holy Prophet-saw and learn religion. When he arrived, the holy Prophet-saw had gone home. The visitor had left many things behind and was in a hurry. So, he went to the holy Prophet's-saw door and called him by name, requesting him to come out. The man had left behind so many things to learn religion, but Allah did not like his disturbing the holy Prophet-saw. Allah quoted the incident in Surah al-Hujurat, and admonished him for his uncivil behaviour, saying that he had no sense of propriety. He should have waited outside the apartment till the holy Prophet-saw appeared on his own and attended to him. Religious scholars have deduced that if the holy Prophet-saw had come out of his apartment for a different purpose and did not attend to him, it was not proper for him to try to draw the holy Prophet's-saw attention. He could have spoken to the holy Prophet-saw only when the latter had, by him­self, asked him the purpose of his visit. Even if someone is standing outside, he is not allowed to attract the attention of the holy Prophet-saw when he comes out of his house for a different purpose, nor is anyone allowed to interrupt his conversation with some­body else: that is totally forbidden! Allah has issued a stern warning for those who fail to ob­serve proper manners in the holy Prophet's-saw company and behaves casually. Defin­ing the code of etiquettes, Allah has ordered that no one should raise his voice above the voice of the holy Prophet-saw, who always spoke in a low, mild and pleasant tone; he never spoke loudly. It was one of his miracles that he was equally audible to everyone, even in a large assembly. It is a historical fact that during his last Hajj, he delivered the sermon to about one hundred and twenty-five thousand pilgrims. Everyone heard him alike, although he did not speak loudly. In this verse, Allah cautioned those people who had professed Islam in Makkah and endured the ruthless persecution of Makkan idola­ters. They had left everything and migrated in the cause of religion. They were those who had offered their lives in the battlefields of Badar and Uhad. They had actually devoted their whole lives for Islam. Allah warned them, ‘If you raise your voice in the presence of My Prophet-saw or address him frankly as you speak with each other, I shall confiscate all your good deeds.’ They were the people who had withstood hardships and offered grand sacri­fices. They were exemplary Muslims in the sight of Allah and it is obligatory for every member of humanity to follow their way for own salvation. They were not Prophets, but were people of such greatness, that it has been made obligatory for all to follow them. But the respect for the holy Prophet-saw ranks even higher than their exalted status, ‘I shall confiscate all your deeds while you know not,’ The interpreters of Quran maintain that the phrase, ‘while you know not’ is related to raising of voice and not to confiscation of deeds. This Divine warning is therefore interpreted to mean that if some­one raises his voice even unknowingly, Allah shall confiscate his deeds. The reverence for the holy Prophet has been expressed by a poet:

Beneath the sky, his honour is loftier than the Heavens,
Even Junaid and Ba Yazid lose their existence before him.

When I recited this verse before a friend, he remarked that the poet had made a mistake. He should have said:

Beneath the sky, his honour is loftier than the Heavens,
Even Abu Bakr and Umar lose their existence before him.

I instantly discerned the intent of his correction. Hadhrat ‘Umar Faruq-rau spoke loudly as a matter of habit, but when this Divine Verse was revealed, he wept secretly and con­sidered himself the target of this Divine warning.

It is a Divine favour to grant someone the respect of this place. In my opinion, this city deserves so much of respect that one should not insult anything here. If you do not like to purchase some thing, just leave it but don't criticise it. I read about a person who had gone to Madinah and criticised its yoghurt. It is just natural that he may not have liked the taste because people favour different tastes. But he went further and remarked that it was simply awful and no good quality was available anywhere. When he slept, he saw the holy Prophet-saw who said, 'if you don't like something, don't take it. But you have no right to condemn it. You can leave this city'. The man had to leave immediately. Along with the Haram and the Tomb of the holy Prophet-saw, everything should be treated with respect here. That includes people and even trees. If you don't like something, don't take it but don't criticise it at any cost. When that is the level of respect outside the Mosque, nobody should dare to misbehave inside the Mosque. However, the expression of this reverence should follow the orders of Shari‘ah. The Hindu custom of folding the hands at the chest or retracing the steps while returning, are not required. Try to remain within the limits defined by the holy Prophet-saw. Every activity of a pilgrim should reflect this respect. When he visits the Tomb of the holy Prophet-saw he should stand respectfully and offer his salutations. Religious scholars unanimously agree that the holy Prophet-saw personally hears and replies to the salutations and greetings offered at his tomb. If such greeting are offered elsewhere, the deputed angels carry them to the holy Prophet-saw. Re­cite as much of Darood as possible. Spend your maximum amount of time in the Mosque, pray as much as you can, recite the holy Quran and meditate as much as possible. Time is flying by, what is past is irreversible. Many of our contemporaries, who had arrived in this world before us, with us, or even after us, have departed forever. The purpose of to­day's discourse is to emphasise the respect for the sacred Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. It may be easy to recompense for every sin except disrespect. It is a serious of­fence which diminishes the urge for repentance. Those, who commit this crime anywhere in the world, not necessarily here, encounter terrible consequences. They can­not even re­pent and invoke forgiveness. One should entreat Divine favour to grant respect. In fact, the entire religion is based on respect and etiquette from the beginning to the end.