Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Man from Juhapura: How Ahmedabad’s supermarket king plans to transform agriculture

(When he started building supermarkets in Juhapura, the area bigots once called ‘mini Pakistan’ in Ahmedabad, few realised how successful Nadeem Jafri’s Hearty Marts would become. He now has 14 stores in towns and villages, 8 network companies and a turnover of Rs. 200 million ($3 million). He has even lectured at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, the country’s best-known MBA college. In this interview, he tells Grin that his ambition now is to transform agriculture.)
1. How did you start thinking about a new way of farming?
This started few years back. Most of our village franchisees are owned by farmers. Apart from the supermarket, which they owned, they were heavily dependent on farming for their livelihood. And in our retail business we wanted to create private brands of food-grains and spices at economical cost to earn better margins. Thus we thought to integrate both the needs to create a win-win proposition and came up with the idea of ‘Hearty Mart farm services’ — a farm consultancy firm headed by an agro-scientist.
We did a small pilot project in one of the villages with few farmers. Here, the farmers were required to cultivate the crop under the guidance of the agro-scientist in one section of his farm. The result was good but we could not continue with this for long as we lacked the domain expertise of farming and we were dependent on the scientist who could not devote much time on this project because of his other commitments. Since then I was mulling with the idea of coming up with something similar at an appropriate time.
2. Are some of your ideas from the world of retail that you have built for many years?
Our learning of entering into an unexplored and under-developed Juhapura in Ahmedabad, provided us the insights and courage to target unexplored areas of rural Gujarat and empower aspiring entrepreneurs to take up organised retail as their business through our innovative franchisee model. With our franchise model we train the village entrepreneurs at our Juhapura super market and share with them insights and knowledge of organised retail and thus guide them to run their own franchise store at their respective villages.
In order to enter into the franchise contract with us, the aspiring village retailer has to firstly register a store in his own name. It can be a partnership or proprietorship shop. Under our guidance his store is developed and we help him with the inventory purchase. A one-time fee and a refundable deposit is taken from him to honour the contract. And at the end of every year he has to pay us a ½% royalty on annual sales of his store to remain a franchise.
We have created a ‘Franchise Development Cell (FDC)’ within Hearty Mart. The cell has many MBAs working with us to provide a dependable retail ecosystem to our franchisees and work as a guiding force for them. Creating retail entrepreneurs at rural level with our franchisee model and handhold and support them through Franchise Development Cell makes this franchisee model unique.
3. How big is your retail business at the moment?
Started in 2004 as a retail supermarket at Juhapura, Hearty Mart has evolved as a prominent name in the food and grocery sector today in Gujarat.
The retail business has soared since then and as on date it is a chain of 14 stores covering mostly small towns and villages of central and north Gujarat.
Hearty Mart isn’t only a retail company today. In 2008 it does bulk supplies of food and groceries to hotels, restaurants and caterers. This strengthened our negotiation power with the vendors as we gained access to the ‘economies of scale’ since now we were catering to 500 restaurants of Gujarat. With better negotiation power we purchased food-groceries at a better price and this strategy helped us in providing supplies to our franchisee at an economical pricing.
Later on we came up with a marketing logistics company, a tea company, a packaging company under Hearty Mart network. Thus as on date our group annual turnover is to the tune of Rs. 20 crores ($3 million) and we are network of eight companies.
4. What are your main ideas on transforming agriculture?
Farming has been modernised and in certain regions farmers are doing well. They are well informed and guided by the initiatives like e-choupal andhariyali bazaar; which is commendable. I have read a lot about contract farming as well which has helped farmers earn better returns. But I still feel that all these initiatives are buyer-centric. How about thinking of an idea which is more farmer-centric?
I think the idea of ‘customised farming’ would revolutionise the farming sector. My experience with farmers suggests that due to lack of dependable ecosystem they are averse to risk taking. They would cultivate a crop which they had been doing over the years. They follow the herd mentality and would not take a risk of cultivating an alternate crop which might fetch them better returns. Let me explain you with an example, suppose a farmer is cultivating crop ‘A’ which gives him decent returns per season, but his soil has a capacity to cultivate crop ‘B’ which can fetch him better returns. The case might be that he isn’t aware of this fact or he is scared to cultivate something which he hasn’t done since ages. This is where my concept might help him.
I would thus like to create an ecosystem for farmers which would guide and inform them in cultivating market oriented crops and market the farm -produce to ensure better returns for them. Corporates have done this in certain regions as mentioned earlier but entrepreneurs have not taken such an initiative. Imagine hundreds of entrepreneurs coming up with similar idea across India to bring in difference in the lives of farmers. Would not it be a great service to the nation, since farming is the lifeline of our country as our economy is dependent on it?
5. How are you planning to implement your ideas?
Being a retailer myself I want to create a retail initiative which works as linkage between a farmer and a market. While contract farming is more to do with the need of the one who has hired a farmer, in case of customised farming we want a farmer to cultivate a crop which his soil can do it in the best form and fetch him good returns as well.
This concept of customised farming is a backward integration for my business since we deal in the bulk supplies of food-groceries to hotels. As a pilot project I am thinking of opening one store in a catchment area of 25 villages catering to around 400–500 farmers. We would be hiring a panel of agro-scientists as advisers, they would work as our knowledge partners and we are in talks with couple of village entrepreneurs with a farming background to take up the project. They are educated with technical background and their main occupation is farming. If they join hands it would give us necessary domain expertise which we lacked last time when we came up with a similar idea.
The central idea of our store is to deliver turn-key projects of crop cultivation to farmers. In this case a farmer would be guided from selecting seeds to fertilisers to soil testing and final cultivation. The produce would be marketed by our store to ensure better returns to him. Apart from this it would work as a farmer-centric retail store selling agri-input products, equipment and even advice if needed by the farmers and few consumer products for their daily needs.
Similar to our rural retail supermarkets we intend to expand through a franchisee network in this case as well.

Hadith e Saqlain

[When I had started writing articles based on The Quran I had never imagined that one day I would be writing an article on Hadith e Saqlain. It is a great honour to write on this topic and May Allah (SWT) help me that I may be able to do justice with this subject. I request my readers to pray that May Allah (SWT) accept this series of articles and make it a source that leads to understanding the relationship of Quran with Ahlulbait (as) for those who seek to strive in this direction.]
Everyone who recite Quran isn’t necessarily guided to its true meaning. Quran says in the following ayah that for certain people it is a mere compilation of the stories of the ancients:

o   “(When Our communications are recited to them, they say: We have heard; We could certainly compose (writings) like them if we choose. This is nothing but the stories of the ancients)” – (Surah-e-Al Anfal, ayah 31)

In Surah-e-Baqra Quran says that it is a guide only for ‘Muttaqeen’ – those who guard against evil. Imam Ali (as) has said that the lovers of Ahlulbait are Muttaqeen. Hence those who love the Ahlulbait and follow their path would be guided by Quran. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) thus said in his last sermon that:

o   “I will soon be called away and will have to depart from you, but I leave amongst you two weighty things; the book of the High and Mighty Allah and my progeny. The Book of Allah is like a rope which extends from the heavens to the earth, and my progeny are the people of my house (Ahl-ul-bait). The Subtle and Aware (Allah) tells me that the two shall never part from each other until they come to me at the Pool. So, take care how you treat them after me.”

(Ref: Musnad, Ahmed Ibn-e-Hambal, Part 3, P 26, Kanz-ul-Ummal, Part 1, P 47, Tirmizi, 5:328, Nisai 96:79, Ibn Atiyyah 1:34, Ibn-e-Hajar P 89)

The verses of Quran need to be therefore recited and reflected upon in the light of lives of the Ahlulbait; in isolation The Quran may not guide us to its true meaning and we might be at a risk of being among those who recite it as mere compilation of the stories of the past.

è In this article, in the light of the above mentioned Hadith e Saqlain, we shall reflect upon a few events documented in The Quran and relate them to the lives of Ahlulbait and try to gain a proper understanding of the events and their relevance in Islam and in our lives.
Amongst the Prophets it was Musa (as) who had the honour of talking to Allah (SWT) when he climbed the mountain – Kohe Tur. He was a chosen Prophet of Allah (SWT) who was blessed with Allah (SWT)’s Great Sign:
o   “(So he (Moses) showed him the Greater Sign (Ayatul Kubra). But he (Pharaoh) rejected (the truth) and disobeyed.)”- (Surah-e-An Nazi’at, ayah 20:21)
Allah (SWT) had blessed Musa (as) with Ayatul Kubra – The Staff (Asa), with the help of it Musa (as) was able to successfully over power his opponents and other hurdles. The Staff (Asa) worked as a Disperser of Difficulties - ‘Mushkil Kusha’ for Musa (as).

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) too conversed with Allah (SWT) when he (pbuh&hp) ascended to the highest horizon during Meraj.

o   “(And he is in the highest part of the horizon. Then he drew near, then he bowed. So he was the measure of two bows or closer still. And He revealed to His servant what He revealed)” – (Surah-e-Najm, ayah 7-10)

o    “(The eye did not turn aside, nor did it exceed the limit. Certainly he saw the Greatest Signs of His Lord (Aayaat e Rabbehil Kubra.))” – (Surah-e-Najm, ayah 18)
Musa (as) was awarded Ayatul Kubra of Allah (SWT) to overpower his opponents. The holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) saw Aayaat e Rabbehil Kubra when he was in the highest part of the horizon. The Staff (Asa) of Musa (as) helped him overpower his enemies. The Ayatul Kubra which the Prophet (pbuh&hp) saw on the highest horizon must also have helped him conquer his enemies. It must have been the Mushkil Kusha for our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp).
o   It has been said by Imam Ali (as) that: “I am His Greatest Sign - Ayatul Kubra”.
(Ref: Sermon, Rajat,, Mukhtasir al Basair al Darjat pg 73)
o   Imam Ali (as) is also referred as Ayatullah al Uzma by authentic traditions. (Ref: Mafatih al Jinan, P 683)
o   In Usool e Kafi it is mentioned that Imam Ali (as) has said that there is no ayah of Allah (SWT) bigger than me.
o   Imam Ali (as) is that great Kalim ul Kubra (Greatest word of Allah) which Allah sent in order to help His prophets and saints in every age and in various forms. According to Ibn e Abbas in the ayah 28:35 of Surah-e-Qasas: “We shall appoint a Sultan for the both of you (Musa & Haroon (as)) and Pharaoh and his followers will not be able to reach you because of Our Signs”, the reference of Greatest Sign and Sultan is to a horse rider who helped Musa (as) and Haroon (as) and that rider was Imam Ali (as). (Ref: Al Qatra, First Edition P 66)

o   As per the tradition of Abu Hureira, quoted by Ibn-e-Asakir, The Prophet (pbuh&hp) has said that it is written on ‘arsh’ that there is no God but Allah (SWT), Mohammed (pbuh&hp) is My slave and My Prophet and I helped him through Ali (as). (Ref: Durr-e-Mansoor, Vol 3, P 199, Mulla Jalaluddin Suyuti, Tarkih Ibn-e-Asakir,  Zainul falli).
è So whenever we recite Quran and come across the event of Musa (as)’s ascension on Kohe Tur and his Staff (Asa), we need to reflect upon the Greatness of our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp)’s ascension to the Highest part of Horizon during Meraj and his relationship with Imam Ali (as). The way the Asa – The Greatest Sign of Allah helped Musa (as) overpower his enemies, Imam Ali (as) helped Prophet (pbuh&hp) in overpowering his enemies and winning holy wars.
For the knowledge of Khizr (as) the Quran says:
o   “(So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught Knowledge (ilm-e-Ladunni) from Our own Presence.)” – (Surah-e-Kahf, ayah 65)

Khizr (as) was a chosen servant of Allah (SWT) honoured to receive Mercy and Knowledge from Him (SWT). And thus he could foresee the future.

Quran says that our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) is Mercy to the Worlds. In Surah-e-Najm (ayah 5) Allah (SWT) says that Prophet (pbuh&hp) was taught by Allah (SWT) Himself. The Tutor and Mentor of the Prophet is none other but Allah (SWT).  

Imam Ali (as) has said in Nahjul balagha that: The Holy Prophet (SAWW) brought me up in his own arms and fed me with his own morsel. I followed him wherever he went like a baby-camel following its mother. Each day a new aspect of his character would beam out of his noble person and I would accept it and follow it as a command.”

According to a tradition from Al-Dulaymi, and Abu Al-Hassan Mohammed Bin Shazan, from Zayd Bin Sabit who said, the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) has said: “I am leaving behind among you all the two weighty things – Book of Allah (SWT) and Ali bin Abi Talib (as), and Ali (as) is superior for you all than the Book of Allah (SWT), because he (as) is the interpreter for you of the Book of Allah (SWT).” – (Ref: Irshad al quloob 378, Me’atin Manqabat P 161 Manqabat #86)

Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) says, "The holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) looked towards Imam Ali (as) and said, "He is Imam e Mubeen. Allah has put in him the knowledge of the whole creation." (Ref: Tafseer e Burhan page 886)

Imam Ali (as) has also said “"Ask me, before you lose me, by Allah if you ask me about anything from now till the Day of Judgement I will inform you about it, and ask me about the Book of Allah, by Allah there is no Verse in it but I know it, also whether it was revealed at night or during the day, or on a plain or on a Mountain." (Ref: Jami al-Bayan by at-Tabari, Vol 2, Pg 56, H 527)

Imam Ali (as) in one of his sermons has said that “I am the Lord of Jibrael (as), and I am the one who orders Mikael (as). I am the Lord of Khizr (as) and Haroon (as). I am the Lord of Musa (as) and Yusha bin Nun.(Ref: Mashariqul Anwar, Kokab Durri, Najul Israr First Edition page no 128-134)
è So whenever we read about Khizr (as) and his knowledge of foreseeing the future we should reflect upon the Greatness of the Knowledge of our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) and Imam Ali (as). Prophet (pbuh&hp) was Mentored by Allah (SWT) and Imam Ali (as) was mentored by the Prophet (pbuh&hp). The Prophet (pbuh&hp) is Medinatul ilm while Imam Ali (as) is Baab ul ilm. In Surah-e-Yasin Imam Ali (as) is referred to as Imam-e-Mubeen - having the complete knowledge. In Surah-e-Ra’ad, ayah 43, Imam Ali (as) is again referred as a person having complete knowledge of the book. He is Lord of the mankind and every creation of Allah (SWT) except the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp).
For Lady Marium (as) the Quran says:
o   “(And when the angels said: O Marium! Surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world.)” – (Surah-e-Aale Imran, ayah 42)

Lady Marium (as) was a purified and pious lady chosen above the women of the world by Allah (SWT. Though she wasn’t a prophet but she could see and talk to the angels the way prophets did.

o   “(Every time that he (Zakariya (as)) entered (Her) chamber to see her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah: for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.)"

Prophet Zakariya (as) would find Lady Marium (as) supplied with sustenance in her chamber in which she remained confined. Upon asking about it she would reply that Allah (SWT) provides her with the sustenance even in her secluded chamber. She was a chosen pious lady and Allah (SWT) helped her with sustenance and fulfilled her wishes.
Lady Fatema (sa) is Syeda Tun Nisa al Alameen Leader of women of the worlds. For her and her progeny the Quran says:

o    “(Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O Ahlulbait and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.)” – (Surah-e-Ahzab, ayah 33)
As per the Prophet (pbuh&hp) the above verse of purification includes him (pbuh&hp) and family of Fatema (sa). She was the most purified lady as per Quran. She was the epitome of piety. Some reference mentioned about her piety and greatness are as under:
o   The Prophet (pbuh&hp) said: “Fatema is the head of the women of Paradise.” (Ref: Sahih Al Bukhari, v 3, Kitab Al Fadhail, Chapter on the virtues of Fatema, P 1374, Sunan Al Tirmizi, v 3, p 266; Kanz ul Ammal v 13, p 193 and more)
o   As per the tradition of Anas Ibn Malik, the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) said: “Fatema is the most excellent of all the women of the world.”
o   Amongst her various virtues, this virtue narrated by our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) is a great respite for the lovers and followers of Fatema (sa). The holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) has said: “Verily, Allah (SWT) has weaned my daughter Fatema and her children and those who love them from the Hellfire, and that is why she is named Fatema. (Ref: Kanz al Ammal, v 6, p 219)
o   As per the narration of Hazrat Huzefa, the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) said: “There is an angel who before tonight had never come down to earth, asked permission from his Lord to offer salams to me and to deliver the good news to me that Fatema (sa) is the leader of all women of Paradise and her children - Hasan (as) and Hussain (as) are the leaders of all the youngsters in Paradise.” (Ref: Tirmidhi, al Jami us sahih (5:660#3781), Nasai as Sunan ul kubra (5:80,95#8298, 8365), Masnad Ahmad bin Hambal (5:391), Hakim, al Mustadrak (3:164#4721, 4722) and more)
Allah (SWT) heard her prayers and provided sustenance to the Lady Marium (sa) in her chamber as she was a pious lady and chosen above the women of the world. Allah (SWT) must have fulfilled all the desires of Fatema (sa) as She was Epitome of Piety and a Leader of the women of Paradise.
In Raudhtus Shuhda it is mentioned that once Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Hussain (as) came to their mother Fatema (sa) demanding new clothes on the occasion of Eid. The pious Lady (sa) prayed to the Lord so that the demand of her children gets fulfilled by the Almighty Allah. Within few minutes of her prayer, she heard a knock at the door. The visitor said that he was the tailor of the household of the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) and had brought some new clothes for his grandchildren for Eid. Later, the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) confirmed this to the Lady Fatema (sa) that the tailor of the Ahlulbait (as) was archangel Jibraeel (as) and clothes which he brought were from Jannah. He was ordered by Allah (SWT) to do so.
è So whenever we recite about the piety of Lady Marium (sa), her chosen status and nearness to Allah (SWT) and her seeing and talking to angels we should reflect upon the Greatness of the Piety of Lady Fatema (sa), her Exalted status, her Closeness to Allah (SWT) and the relationship of her family with angels who were ordered by Allah (SWT) to become their servants.
Allah (SWT) wanted to place His Vicegerent on earth and hence created Aadam (as).
  • “(Remember, when We asked the angels to bow in homage to Adam, they all bowed but Iblees, who disdained and turned insolent, and so became a kafir.)”(Surah-e-Baqra, ayah 34)

Iblees refused to bow down in ‘sajda’ to Aadam (as). Thus he did not accept the superiority of Aadam (as) and this refusal made him a kafir. This incident happened much before creation of mankind. Quran has mentioned this event several times in different chapters. Iblees remained a believer in Allah (SWT)’s Supreme Authority above His creations, even after becoming a kafir. There are several verses in Quran which prove this fact. There surely is a message in this event, which is relevant for us in today’s context which is the reason why it has been repeated so many times in Quran.

After the completion of the last Hajj on his (pbuh&hp) return journey the following verse was revealed to the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) at Ghadir-e-Khum.

o   (“O Apostle! deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the kafirs.”) – (Surah-e-Maida, ayah 67)

As per the above verse the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) was ordered by Allah (SWT) to announce the message of guardianship of Imam Ali (as). The holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) in front of, as estimated 1.2 lacs Hajj Pilgrims, announced ‘Man Kunto Mawla ho fa hazaa Aliyun Mawla’ from the pulpit and thus declared the guardianship of Imam Ali (as).  (Ref: Durr-e-Mansoor, Vol 2, P 298, Egypt, Tafseer-e-Fatah ul Qadeer, Vol 2, P 60, Egypt, Tafseer-e-Fatah ul Bayun, Vol 3, P 89, Egypt, Tafseer Mazhari, Vol 3, P 353, Daarul Isha’t Karachi, Sawaiq e Mohraika, P 40 & 120, Sunan e Tirmidhi, Vol 2, P 298 and many more)
Just as Iblees became kafir by refusing to accept the superiority of Aadam (as), in the end of the above-mentioned ayah from Surah-e-Maida Allah (SWT) makes it clear that those who reject the call of ‘Man kunto Mawlo ho fa hazaa Aliyun Mawla’ and refuse to accept the Imamat of Imam Ali (as)  would be considered as kafirs and would not be guided. The importance of this message can also be gauged from the fact that had it not been delivered by the holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) it would have been considered as if no message of Allah (SWT) was delivered.
Connecting both the events - sajda to Aadam (as) and the event of Ghadir-e-Khum, our beloved 8th Imam Reza (as) has said:
o   "The similitude of the believers in accepting the guardianship (Wilayah) of the Commander of the Believers – Ali (as) on the day of Ghadir e Khum is that of the angels in prostrating before Aadam, and the similitude of the one who rejected the Wilayah is that of the devil (Iblees)." (Ref: Iqbal Al-Amaal – Sayed Ibn Taoos P 465, Awalim, vol 15 P224)
è This also explains why this event - ‘sajda’ of angels to Aadam (as) and the refusal of Iblees in doing so - is mentioned repeatedly in various verses of Quran. Allah (SWT) has sent us repeated messages through these verses to reflect upon the importance of Imamat of Imam Ali (as) and the remaining 11 Imams from his lineage whenever we come across this event in Quran.
According to the holy Quran Isa (as) was bestowed upon with the knowledge of breathing life into a bird-like-figure made out of clay. He could heal the lepers and those who were blind from birth. Thus he (as) was empowered to give life to dead and remove afflictions from the lives of those who were alive and was considered ‘Messiah’. When his enemies decided to kill him Allah (SWT) saved him and raised him (as) to safety:
  • “(That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise)” – (Surah-e-Nisa, ayah 157-158)

The above verse says that those who thought that they had killed or crucified Isa (as) were mistaken as Isa (as) is alive and had been raised to a safer place by Allah (SWT) Himself. People who don’t believe in this are full of doubts and hence their faith is being questioned in this verse.

In the same way, our beloved 12th Imam – Imam Mohammed Mehdi (as) is alive and is in occultation. He (as) was born on the 15th Shaaban 255 AH in Samarra, Iraq. He (as) became the Imam when his father – Imam Hasan Askari (as) was martyred in 260 AH. He (as) was only 5 years of age when he went into ghaibat (occultation). His ghaibat was divided into two periods Ghaibat us Sughra and Ghaibat ul Kubra.

He (as) is awaiting Allah (SWT)’s command to reappear from his (as) concealment. We, his lovers and followers, await his reappearance desperately and pray for the same in every prayer.

The other commonality between Isa (as) and Imam Mehdi (as) is their lineage. Both are from the lineage of Ibrahim (as) – Isa (as) from Ishaq (as) while Imam Mehdi (as) from Ismail (as). The mother of Isa (as) - Bibi Marium (as) was the most pious lady of her time and was chosen above women of the world. The great grand-mother of Imam Mehdi (as), Bibi Fatema (sa) was also Epitome of Piety and Leader of women of Paradise. The grand-father of Isa (as) was Imran and great grand-father of Imam Mehdi was also Imran (Abu Talib (as)).

  • The Prophet (pbuh&hp) said: “The Mehdi is from my family, from the sons of Fatema (sa).” (Ref: Al Sawaiq Al-Muhariqa P 237)

  • Ahmed Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad has recorded a tradition of our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) which says: “Allah will bring out from concealment Al-Mehdi from my family and just before the Day of Judgement; even if only one day were to remain in the life of the world, and he will spread on this earth – Justice, Equality and will eradicate tyranny and oppression.  (Ref: Musnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, v1, P 99)

  • In Sunan Ibn Majah a tradition of our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) is mentioned, according to it the Prophet (pbuh&hp) has said that “A man from my Ahlulbait would come and fill the earth with justice as it would have been filled with corruption. So whoever reaches that (time) ought to come to them even if crawling on the ice/snow since among them is the Vicegerent of Allah (SWT) – Khalifatullah – Al Mehdi (as).” (Ref: Sunan Ibn Majah, V2, Tradition #4082, - The History Tabari – Al Sawaiq Al Muhariqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch 11, section 1, pp 250-251)

  • Imam Musa Kazim (as) has said: “The Qaim is the one who will purify the earth from the enemies of Allah (SWT), the High and the Mighty. And he (as) will fill the earth with justice and equality. He is the fifth of my descendants. He will go into occultation due to the fear of his own (life).” (Ref: Kamaaluddin vol 2, P 361, Kifayatul Asar P 265-266)

  • Imam ZainulAbedin (pbuh) has explained the importance of occultation of the
    12th Imam (as) in this beautiful hadith. He (pbuh) said: “To one who remains firm on our guardianship (Wilayah) during the occultation of our Qaim, Allah, the Mighty and Sublime will give the reward of a thousand martyrs of Badr and Uhad.” (
    Ref: Narrated to us Ahmed bin Ziyad bin Ja’far Hamdani: Narrated to us Ali bin Ibrahim bin Hashim from his father from Bastan  bin Murrah from Amr bin Thabit, Kamaaluddin wa Tamaamum Ni’ma, Page 6)

Isa (as) was a Messiah who removed afflictions from his followers and lovers, Imam Mehdi (as) shall reappear as a Messiah to save this world from corruption and violence. He (as) is the awaited saviour of this earth who would fill it with justice, equality and peace.
è So in The Quran whenever we read about Isa (as), his power to heal and his being raised to safety we should reflect upon the life of Imam Mehdi (as) and his occultation. The way we cannot doubt Isa (as)’s safety we should not doubt Imam Mehdi (as)’s occultation and have the faith that he (pbuh) is the awaited healer and saviour of this world. Any doubt in this matter can become detrimental towards losing the straight path the way those who thought Isa (as) was killed went astray.  
Quran remembers Ibrahim (as)’s readiness to offer his son Ismail (as) for sacrifice as commanded by Allah (SWT) in the following ayah:
  • “(Most surely this is a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations)” – (Surah-e-Saaffat 106:108)
When Ibrahim (as) was ready to sacrifice his son Ismail (as), Allah (SWT) accepted his readiness and replaced Ismail (as) with an animal. It was a trial of Ibrahim (as) which then was postponed with a Great Sacrifice (Zibhe Azeem). This selfless act of sacrifice was so much liked by Allah (SWT) that He (SWT) perpetuated the praise of this feat of Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as) among the later generations.  On 10th Dhul Hajj every year Muslims reenact this feat by offering an animal as a sacrifice. This day is called Yawm-un-Nahr – The day of sacrifice or Eid ul Adhaa – the celebration of sacrifice. On this day Muslims complete their Hajj.
On 10th Moharram, exactly after a month  of Eid ul Adhaa, the lovers and followers of Imam Hussain (as) remember the sacrifice of his household in the battlefield of Karbala. They remember the martyrdom of his thirsty and hungry children who were brutally martyred by the enemies along with his brothers, nephews, relatives and other friends. Many of them throng to Karbala for the purpose of Ziarat during Ashura.

In Merajjunnabuwat  page 35 it is mentioned that the Great Sacrifice – Zibhe Azeem referred in the above ayah is referring to the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (as) and his household. Thus we should remember this Great Sacrifice of Imam Hussain (as) and his family the way we remember Ismail (as)’s sacrifice every year.

The selfless act of Imam Hussain (as)’s Great Sacrifice is loved by Allah (SWT) and He (SWT) has promised to perpetuate the praise of this martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) for later generations by rewarding the people who go for Ziarat to his tomb. The purpose of remembering Eid ul Adhaa remains unsolved if we don’t remember Imam Hussain (as)’s Great Sacrifice too.
Remembering the sacrifice of Ismail (as) is an integral part of Hajj and the ritual of visiting the shrine of Imam Hussain (as) during Ashura for Ziarat is none other than Hajj-e-Azeem:
  • A tradition is narrated by Raff'ah from Imam Sadiq (a.s.): “When a lover of Imam Hussain (as) knows Imam Husain's (a.s.) right over the people and leaves his house for Imam's (a.s.) Ziarat in this condition, without any pride and conceit, then a 1000 angels accompany him from the right, with another 1000 angels on the left. And he will be rewarded as if he has performed 1000 Hajj and 1000 Umrah with a prophet or with the successor of a prophet.” (Ref: BiharulAnwar, vol 101, pg 91, tradition 33)
o   Imam Sadiq (as) narrates, “Allah has appointed some angels at Imam Husain's grave. When the lover of Imam Hussain (as) makes the intention for Imam Husain's (a.s.) Ziarat, Allah forgives all his sins. When he takes a step to go for Ziarat, he erases his sins. His virtues multiply and they increase till the time he becomes worthy of Paradise”. (Ref: Wasailul Mohibbeen, pg. 280)
  • Imam Sadiq (as) has said: “From every drop of perspiration on the body of Imam Hussain’s (as) visitor (in the course of Ziarat) Allah creates 70,000 angels who glorify and seek forgiveness for Imam's (a.s.) visitors till the Day of Judgement.(Ref: Mustadrak vol 2, pg 204)
è So in The Quran whenever we recite about the willingness of Ibrahim (as) to sacrifice his son Ismail (as) we should without fail reflect upon the Great Sacrifice of our beloved Imam Hussain (as), his children, his family members and friends in the battlefield of Karbala. Whenever we offer in sacrifice an animal on Eid ul Adhaa we should remember this Sacrifice of Imam (as) as it is in this rememberance that the purpose of Eid ul Adhaa is hidden.

è On this note I would like to conclude my article that the recitation of Quran remains fruitless if we don’t reflect upon the lives of Ahlulbait (as). The events of the chosen prophets mentioned in the Quran are to be understood in the light of the lives of the Exalted Ahlulbait (as). Allah (SWT) created them as an example to be emulated and followed. Ahlulbait and Quran complement each other and provide us with complete guidance. That is the reason our beloved Prophet (pbuh&hp) has said that:  In the love for my Ahlulbait lies the foundation of Islam(Ref: Selections from Kanz-ul-Ummal, P 94) and this is why he (pbuh&hp) referred  to the Ahlulbait (as) alongside the Quran in Hadith e Saqlain.