the Message Continues ... 11/32
Z i a r a t
By Nasir Shamsi
When I was a small boy I asked my father why did he point with his index finger in a direction, after each namaz, reciting Salam. His simple answer was: Son, we are what we are today because of the supreme sacrifice of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet. He gave away all he had in Karbala in order to save the Deen of Allah; we pay our homage to the savior of Islam by offering our salaam to him and other Shuhada, after the initial salaam on the Prophet and the other members of the Ahlul Bayt. This is called Ziarat-e Imam. Those among us who cannot visit Imam's Roza(grave) for a physical ziarat, present their salaam on him, his father and mother and grandfather as well as other Imams and the Shohda of Karbala, pointing in the direction of their Rozas.
May Allah's Blessings be on Muhammad and his Ahlul Bayt. They are models of excellence for men, women and children of Islam. The ziarat is of immense importance because through it we are reminded at least five times daily of our responsibility to carve our lives and build our character, based on how these venerable leaders lived their lives. Ziarat is thus a continuous source of guidance and inspiration. It is truly an exercise in piety because it is a perpetual reminder of the beauty and excellence of Allah's ' Deen ', as reflected in the lives of these supreme leaders.
When I say ' Assalamu alaika Ya Rasoolullah, asslamu alaika Ya Habibillah, asslamu alaika Ya Nabi Allah, while pointing in the direction of the ' Roza '--the grave of the Prophet, I feel immediately as I am standing in the presence of the Beloved of Allah (Mahboobe Khuda).
Assalamu alaika Ya Amirul Mumineen Ali ibne Abi Talib. This ziarat or salaam takes my mind to one of the holiest places, Najf-e Ashraf , that wonderful place that transmits light of ' Emaan ' to millions of believers around the world.
Assalmu alaika Ya Sayyedatunisa al- alimeen transports me in no time to the Jannatul Baqi'i. It also reminds us of the heartless atrocity of the Saudis who had desecrated the sanctity of the Baqi'i, by demolishing the shrines of the Prophet's beloved daughter as well as those of the other eminent personalities of early Islam.
Assalamu alaika Ya ibn Rasullullah, Assalmu alaika ya ibne Fatima tu Zahra ( My salaam on the (grand)son of the Prophet , my salaam on the son of Fatima tu Zahra).
In the like manner, there is a chain of salutation for other Imams and Shuhda who stand tall in our memories as supreme leaders. The ziarat is also the recognition of the importance as well as sanctity of the places that provide a resting place for the Prophet, his daughter and the Imams of Ahlul Bayt. There is a special significance in Islam attached to the religious places, may they
be the Ka'aba, the House of Allah built by Hazrat Ibrahim and Ismail, or Baitul Muqaddas, the Qibla-e awwal (the first Qibla), or the the graves (called Roza) of the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt.
These places are source of bliss and peace and spiritual enlightenment. For lack of space, I'll illustrate it only by a personal experience.
Many years ago, (1970) when I was working as an officer of the Pakistan Revenue Service of the Pakistan government, one morning a Darvish came to my office. With tears in his eyes, he told me that in a dream he had been asked by Imam Raza (the 8th Imam) alaihis salam to undertake a journey for the physical ziarat of Imam's Roza at Mash'had, Iran but due to the red tape, he was unable to obtain a passport for almost six months. He cried and said he could no longer wait. I had a passport issued to the Dervish (interestingly his name was Zamin Shah, after the 8th Imam's famous title, the Imam Zamin) the following morning, with my personal endorsement. Holding the passport securely in his two hands, Zamin Shah was almost running out of my office as if he would fly to Mashahd that very moment. I called him back and asked him if he would take a message to the most honorable Imam. As he turned back, I wrote a one liner on a small slip, asking the Imam to also grant me the permission to visit his Roza Mubarak. The Dervish took the note happily. He left and I never saw him again. But to my greatest wonder and delight, circumstances took a mysterious turn and in less than only six months I found myself standing in the haram of the great Imam, with my wife, Iffat and our 3 1/2 years old son, Ali. Without any prior design or planning, a chain of events, as if directed by an unknown force, made us embark, as if pushed by destiny, on this most wonderful travel. I still wonder how did we venture to embark on this most amazing journey that also took us to other Ziaraat in Karbala, Najaf in Iraq and Zainibiya (Damascus,
Syria) even at the risk of leaving behind our only 10 month old twins, Salman and Adnan. There is only one explanation: there is another dimension where what we say and do is heard and seen and Allah makes things happen if you are sincere in intentions.
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