Shaykh Yusuf da Costa: Nkaneni Ark

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On Sunday 13th March 2011, we held a dhikr in Nkaneni Ark, Khayelisha. Most of us sat outside in the sun. This was the way we used to operate, and this form of operation was very successful. We then became “respectable”, and functioned in small mosques in the townships. We then had very little growth. Most of our growth occurred when we were sitting uncomfortably in the heat of the sun with all the noises of the shacks around us. When we had to eat, we sat in the sun. The heat was unbearable, but we called on Allah (ﷻ) by His different Names despite the poor condition around us.

We have to start to understand that the responsibility that we have taken on our shoulders, or the responsibilities that Mawlana Shaykh Nazim has given us, has to be carried out irrespective of the physical conditions around. I have told you so many times that taking this on our shoulders must be, for all of those who attend, the highlight of the week. I do not think that the adhkar in “smart” mosques in the different parts of the Cape Peninsula can, in any way, compare with the adhkar with and amongst the intensely poor. We all know that being with the poor, working with them, and being asked to be raised with them, were of the characteristics of Nabi Muhamad (ﷺ). He (ﷺ) has come down in the history of Islam as an associate of the poor. Of course, by poor we not only mean those in economic poverty, but it is also meant those who were poor in relation to their Lord. Those Companions (r.a.), who had severed their relationship with this world, and had taken their sights away from the pleasures of this world, were “poor” not only because of financial or economic poverty, but also because they saw themselves as nothing in relation to their Lord. Their nothingness was not only financial but it expressed their insignificance in relation to the Greatness of their Lord. These Companions (r.a.) were fortunate in having the Prophet (ﷺ) to guide them to this. Nothingness to them was a major spiritual station; away from the affairs of the world to the affairs of their Lord. I do not know what the Prophet (ﷺ) meant when he (ﷺ) spoke about the poor. Did he (ﷺ) mean those who were economically deprived but who had reached the station of nothingness, or did he (ﷺ) only mean those who were at the station of nothingness? Whatever the case might be, his (ﷺ) heart was for the poor.

We who go to the Sunday morning adhkar, and sit with the poor, receive special blessings, because our hearts are for them. In a similar way that the heart of the Prophet (ﷺ) was for them, but for him (ﷺ) it was at a massively high level, and it had to do with his (ﷺ) position as Messenger (ﷺ) and the beloved of his (ﷺ) Lord – the way of the perfect servant. Our hearts for the poor are at a very low level, but whatever the level, it is there for them. We strive to be servants and we work very hard to imitate the Messenger (ﷺ). But what we achieve is not what he has been granted, but it is of the same category, at a much lower level.

I want you to understand that those of us who are with the intensely poor on a Sunday morning, are trying to put our feet into the religious footprints of the Messenger (ﷺ). To us going to these areas on a Sunday morning is not only going to a dhikr, for it involves much more than that. It involves following the footprints of the Messenger (ﷺ), establishing the kinds of links that he (ﷺ) had done, and in the process we are for him (ﷺ) when we are for Allah (ﷻ). If going to the Sunday morning adhkar is just going to a dhikr, then those of us who go, and there are very few of us, could just as well stay at home.

When we follow the example of the Messenger (ﷺ), under unpleasant and difficult conditions, we are involved in a process of deep spirituality that moves us from one station to another. I sometimes feel that places like Nkaneni Ark are the places where we will find our stations. This is a strange thing to say, because there are very few Muslims there. When we follow the footprints of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) as we did on Sunday morning, we are working to achieve stations that are only available where others are suffering indignities, and to whom we bring the celebration of the praises of Allah (ﷻ). Poor, unrecognized, and supposedly undignified, they call on their Lord with the words we mention, words which they do not understand, but they call.

Most of the murids do not come on a Sunday morning, whatever the reasons might be. They are missing out or perhaps their hearts are not right yet for the poor. The moment their hearts are right, they will come. Only those whose hearts are properly for the poor, without prejudice, come. And so, although there are only a few of us, I truly believe that they come on a regular basis, because the Divine Will works with them in that way.

On so many occasions I have spoken to you about the Divine Decree and the Divine Will, and all the time it operates where we are, or where we are not, and many times we experience nothing. Those who are in the townships, go through the experiences of the Decree and the Will of their Lord with regard to the poor. When the Messenger (ﷺ) associated with them, it was his (ﷺ) Lord’s Will, and when we associate with them, or do not associate with them, it is also our Lord’s Will. We ask Allah (ﷻ), the One who changes Hearts, to direct all of our hearts to the poor and to let all of us follow the footprints of His Messenger (ﷺ), and to let all of us be given recognition by our Lord for our striving for nothingness, amin. We ask Him also, that our striving for “nothingness” must bear its fruits in the heat of the sun, amongst the shacks of the deprived people. We call on our Lord with endless amins.

[Unpublished 2012]



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