Tomb and Tazia Worship

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By Maulana Manzoor Nu'maani (RA)


"Yet have they taken, besides Him, gods that can create nothing but are themselves created; that have no control of hurt or good to themselves; nor can they control life nor Death nor Resurrection." (Quran: Furqan, 1)

(O Prophet) say (to the Polytheists): "Call upon other (gods) whom ye fancy besides Allah; they have no power, - not even the weight of an atom - in the heavens or on earth; no (sort of) share have they therein, nor is any of them a helper of Allah." (Quran: Saba, 3)

And, again:

(O Prophet) say (to the Polytheists): "Call on those - besides Him -whom ye fancy: they have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them." (Quran: Bani Israel, 6)

Besides these, there are numerous other verses in the Quran to the effect that one can be a Polytheist without actually imputing plurality to Allah. Monotheism implies that Allah is unique and has no like or equal or parallel not only in His nature and existence, but also in His authority and attributes. It is, as such, absolutely imperative that both in the rendering of religious homage and in the imploring of help and assistance, no one should be associated with Him in any measure or manner.

We shall now see what these objects were which the Polytheists venerated as Divine, believing in them as the suppliers of their wants and the dispensers of their difficulties. The common belief is that they were mere images of stone. But the images were not the real deities; the real deities were the elevated souls and the holy men whom the images symbolised. The Quran has given the names of some of the idols and the history books confirm that there did live in the past saints and spiritual leaders who bore those names. When these sacred men died; people carved images of them and began to offer them their devotion. The later generations, in course of time, were misled by the Devil into taking them up for regular worship. Likewise, the idols of the Polytheistic Arabs were regarded by them as typifying or representing certain spiritual personalities and the homage they paid to them was, in fact, paid to those whom they represented, just as when the Hindus worship the images of Rama or Krishna, they worship the personalities of Rama and Krishna and not their images. The images serve as aids to concentration and are held in reverence because of it. Nearer home, some ignorant and erring Muslims offer up oblations to the Tazias and even hang petitions on them and carry out so many other practices which are common to the Polytheists without presuming any divinity in those helpless structures of bamboo and paper. All this is done in the name of Imam Husain (radiallaho anhu) whose martyrdom the Tazias are supposed to recall. Some extremists, however, do go to the extent of believing them to be the whole thing. In the same way, some among the Arab Polytheists were so very foolish as to regard the idols carved by their own hands as the arbiters of their destinies and offered reverent homage to them in that spirit. To such people the Quran said:

"Worship ye that which ye have (yourselves) carved?" (Quran: Saffat, 3)

And to those who did not go to that extreme extent and worshipped certain real or imaginary spirits or spiritually exalted men as having control over gain and loss, and venerated the idols only as their symbols and the seats of their splendour, it addressed the following admonition:

"Verily those whom ye call upon besides Allah are servants like unto you." (Quran: A'raf, 24)

In Sura-i-Bani Israel they were assured confidently, once again, that the spirits, saints and mystics whom they idolized and worshipped were themselves the humble seekers of charity at the doorstep of their Lord, desirous of means of access to Him, and living all the time in the hope of His Mercy and the fear of His Wrath:

Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord, - even those who are nearest, they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath. (Quran: Bani Israel, 6)

Viewed against the background of these teachings, is it not an extremely lamentable truth that many of the Muslims, too, have degenerated into entertaining an identical belief in respect of their Sufi-saints and bow to their graves and perpetrate other Polytheistic sins in relation to them?

It may well be asked here that if the Polytheists honestly believed in the Almighty, and had no doubts about His being the true Creator, Protector and Preserver of the universe and the Great Provider of the daily bread, why at all did they bother to venerate the false deities, whom they accredited with no more than subordinate and subsidiary powers, and to place their needs before them? This question can be raised in connection with the Polytheist of old as well as the present-day idolators and the Tazia-and-tomb worshipping Muslims, and we have given our earnest consideration to it. In our opinion the chief reason for this was (and still is) the feeling that to please Allah and get one's petitions granted by Him was a very testing task; it required one conscientiously to carry out His commands, to abstain from deceit, falsehood and the usurpation of the rights of others, to shun all unclean and wicked things and to lead a life of piety. As a sub-conscious reaction to this feeling the Polytheists deceived themselves into putting their faith, apart from Allah, in certain real or fictitious personalities, the winning of whose good graces was only a matter of prostrating oneself before their graves or images or the offering up of a few sweets and flowers. This, to our mind, represents the psychology of Polytheism in a nutshell.

Let Laa-Ilaaha-Illa-Allah, then, be our instrument for the repudiation of all the things which may contain the remotest possibility of assuming to themselves the status of divinity, and for guarding ourselves against the least encroachment by Polytheism in any form or manner; let it be the means to the attainment of perfection by us in our belief in Monotheism because just as nothing is more repugnant to Allah than the ascribing of plurality to Him, faith in His Unity, Oneness and Uniqueness is the very life-breath of religion.

Since Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is the last of the Prophets and no other Divine Apostle is going to be raised up after him, Allah has brought the concept of Monotheism to its highest degree of evolution and completion through him, so that now it has become totally fortified even against a suspicion of contamination by Polytheistic untruths. All the paths through which the Devil could possibly bring them in have been firmly blocked.

The greatest danger in this connection was that like the Christians who had slipped into the folly of attributing Divinity to Jesus, the Muslims might also be misguided into entertaining Polytheistic notions about the personality of the Prophet. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) accordingly, missed no opportunity to eliminate this possibility. He never tired of warning his followers against the evil and the imprudence of associating exaggerated feelings of respect and veneration for him. He said:

"Do not utter such exaggerated words of praise for me as the Christians do for the Prophet Jesus, the son of Mary. I am nothing more than a servant of Allah and His Apostle. So, call me only that." (Bukhari and Muslim)

And: "Some communities before you had converted the graves of their Prophets into objects of worship. You must not do so. Beware, I have warned you." (Muslim)

In the same vein was the following prayer of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): "O Allah; Do not let my grave be made into an idol to which worship may be offered." (Malik)


It is reported in the Traditions that some Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) happened to go to a foreign land where they saw that when the citizens went to their chiefs they prostrated themselves before them. On returning home they related their experience to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and begged his permission to do the same to him. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) asked them: "Would you prostrate yourselves before my grave after my death?" The Companions knowing full well that prostration before a grave could never be permissible in Islam promptly replied that they would not. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then said: "When you know that 1 am a mere man and one day I will die and be buried in the grave after which even you will not consider me worthy of that reverence, why should you show it to me in my lifetime?" (Abu Dawood)

To a similar request by Hazrat Salman of Persia, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, "(THEN) DON'T PROSTRATE YOURSELF BEFORE ME. KEEP IT FOR HIM WHO CAN BE TOUCHED NEITHER BY DECAY NOR DEATH." (Kanz-ul-Ummal)

BUT POLYTHEISM IS A FAR CRY. THE PROPHET (SALLALLAHUALAYHI WASALLAM) DID NEVER ALLOW THE COMPANIONS TO STAND UP IN HIS PRESEIVCE AS A MARK OF RESPECT TO HIM. ALL THESE PRECAUTIONS WERE AIMED SOLELY TO KEEP POLYTHEISM A T AN ARM'S LENGTH FROM THE MUSLIMS.


Typical, also, of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam's) prudent foresight and his earnest concern to make Islam safe for all time against Polytheist infiltrations is the following incident. It so happened that on the day the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam's) infant son, Ibrahim, died, there occured a total eclipse of the sun and it grew quite dark. The Plophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) feared that, under the influence of the former superstitious beliefs, people might be persuaded to think that the event was the outcome of the bereavement he had suffered. He thereupon, summoned the Muslims immediately and after offering the prayer prescribed for such an occasion, in which the virtues of Allah were extolled, addressed them in these words: "Surely, the sun and the moon are the two signs of Allah, and they do not suffer eclipse on account of the birth or death of anyone."

Every conceivable precaution has been taken by the Shariat against the creeping in of Polytheistic beliefs and practices into the body of the Islamic faith. As an example of it, Muslims are forbidden to offer Salaat at sunrise, mid-day and sunset so that there may be nothing in common between them and the fire-worshippers in the matter of faith, even outwardly, and no misunderstanding may arise.

FURTHER, KNEELING AND TOUCHING THE GROUND WITH THE FOREHEAD ARE AN ESSENTIAL FEATURE OF THE SALAAT. NO SALAAT CAN BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THEM. YET, THEY HAVE BEEN OMITTED FROM THE FUNERAL SALAAT FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT THE PARTICIPANTS MIGHT NOT HAVE AN OCCASION TO SUPPOSE THAT THEY WERE KNEELING AND PROSTRATING THEMSELVES BEFORE THE DEAD BODY.

How utterly sad and shocking really is the victory of the Devil that Polytheistic modes of thought and behaviour, which have been the ruin of the earlier communities, are now stealing in among the followers of a religion that had taken such great pains to seal up all the passages they could enter by!

Article taken (with Thanks) from Madrasa In'aamiyah


 

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This page was last updated on June 14, 2003 .