Regarding "Grave Worship"

Jumu'ah Speech by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks

Assalamu alaykum

I really don’t like to speak about these issues, but the past week I have been inundated by calls and requests to respond to a particular letter that was written to the Argus, January 8, by Shaykh Faaik Gamieldien, entitled “Islam prides itself on monotheism”. I have had numerous requests to write a reply to this, but I have in fact refused to do that, as I don’t feel that these are the proper forums in which to engage in these things, although we will comprehensively respond to all sorts of things like these in the future, insha-Allah ta’ala.

People seem to underestimate the importance of certain things. What I, and many others think has formed in the pass 200 years, is one of the most murderous movements that the history of Islam has known. If you want to understand why people like Sayyid Muhammad Al-Maliki Al-Alawi, and so many other people, are sometimes averse to the idea of setting up an Islamic state, it's not because of the concept or the principle, but mostly, its because of the people who call for this. And unfortunately, in many cases, people have opted for secular governments.

People don’t understand the importance of allowing Muslim leaders, thinkers and scholars to have the opportunity to express contrary and alternative points of view. And people who have gone through that, understand the importance of that. People who have lived in communities and societies where you’re your ideas and alternative ideas firmly rooted and based in the Shari`ah are banned, will understand why at times myself and Shaykh Achmad Hendricks, are so eager and committed to expressing the alternative points of view. The fact that we even call these view points alternative I find perverse, because they are in fact the views of the Shari`ah and has stood over so many hundred years of our legacy.

And I wouldn’t normally respond to articles like these, except for the reason that there are so many questions that emerge from here. The chief issue that emerges out of all of this is the issue of shirk and idolatry. Now the perversion of that view, 200 years ago, is precisely what spawned the era of murder. These people have blood on their hands. But it’s the mainstreams immense ability to understand and often to tolerate, that has prevented them from taking like action against these people. Some of our mashaykh are absolutely ignorant of this history – they have not made it their duty to analyse and research these things and the consequences of these things. Most of these things are rooted firmly in the Kharijite fervour of intolerance and fanaticism and extremism, when shortly after the death of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and during the khilafah of Sayidina ‘Ali, this murderous group emerged. I wouldn’t even call them fanatics – they are murderers! Where purely on their assumptions on aqida and monotheism, they deemed it fit to kill Muslims, and slaughter them – dhabh. They killed the Hanbali movement when it took root in Iraq, these murderers being a perversion of the Hanbalite movement in any case. They publicly slaughtered Muslims who differed with them. I don’t want to go into the sensitivity of the politics at the turn of the 20th century, where, as we know, one of the aqida shaykhs, Shaykh Muhammad Salih, was decapitated in public on Jabbal-Qubays for holding an alternative view.

Now this is the seriousness of these issues. Sayyid Muhammad Al-Alawi Al-Maliki was persecuted for most of his life, his young life in particular, for his “alternative” points of view. We are under particular instructions by him, because people like him don’t want to cry about their lot, they don’t wine, and they don’t want to whip people up into mass activity, because they realise that the issues here are far more serious than mob activity.

The most disturbing issue about the entire spirit of this particular letter, is its angling towards that point of view. It even ends off by saying “many are the Muslims, but few are those who have accepted Islam”. It says that the visitation of the karamat, even their very existence are “anathema” to Islam and its fundamental beliefs, and that the eradication of pagan beliefs and the physical destruction of all forms of idolatry was the central focus of the calling of the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). Now its fine to say that, but it’s a different thing when one analyses this potted thinking – potted views.

“Draping the grave with cloth and burning incense” and things like that – I don’t know if these people are aware of the subtleties of these things or the influences that have impacted upon them. So one tries to maintain husnu dhan – good thought – for all Muslims. For the spirit of the Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’at is precisely that and the Qur’an says (translation): “Stay away from speculation, for some of your speculations are in fact sin”. And these kinds of speculation (by wahabis), as far as I am concerned, are sin. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) also said (translation): Your Muslim brother, when you see him reciting shahadah, believing in Allah (s.w.t.) and following the Prophet (s.a.w.), and you see him performing some kind of abhoration, then look for an excuse for him.

to be continued...