Tanafus-competition lies at the heart of our very nature. We compete in sports, academics, and our profession, with the ultimate objective of advancing in order to achieve a singular goal. This could be a medal, trophy, prize, or promotion. With each subsequent achievement, we rise higher in rank and status. Competitions, however, most always result in a winner and a loser; someone always ends up ahead. The winner’s chest swells with pride, while the one who was not successful in his endeavor is let down, flooded with a wave of jealousy.
True and pure competition is for the advancement of our souls, for which the ultimate objective is Allah Ta’ala and AwliyaaKiraam’s AS happiness. In essence, therefore, it is devoid of hurt, pride, and jealously, and results in an endgame whereby each competitor – each mumin – prevails. Mumineen advance higher and higher until such a point that they receive raheeq e makhtoom, the khushi of Awliyaullah AS.
Advancement is not a one-way street; in order to progress towards our goal, sometimes we need to identify and seize the opportunities that lie in front of us as well as behind us. The adaab of sufuf teaches us this: in imamat namaz if there is an opening in the saff in front one must take it; and if the current saff is too crowded one must step back to the saff behind. The actions and foresight of our Hudud QS have shown both traits. During Syedna Mohammed Ezzuddin’s RA reign, the enemies demanded that Syedna surrender all of da’wat’s forts. Syednagathered his Hudood and asked them how he should respond. When they replied simply that Syedna should acquiesce to their demands, Syedi Hasan bin Nooh QS, whose masjid is in Taiyba, Yemen, stepped forward. Syedi Hasan bin Nooh QS exclaimed, “Maula! Do not handover the forts. If the enemy attacks us with metal bullets, we will fight back with those of gold and silver!”
During Syedna Ismail Badruddin’s RA reign, Syedi Khanji Feer Saheb QS, served his dai and through identifying an opportunity that others perceived to be beneath them. When Syedna RA held sabaq in Jamnagar, the smell of a nearby garbage dump would permeate the room and cause discomfort. Syedi Khanjee Feer quietly undertook the task of cleaning the garbage every night. The smell soon vanished. Noticing this change, Syedna RA asked his followers, “Who is responsible for this service?” His followers responded in a condescending manner, “It was that boy from Udaipur.” SyednaRA reprimanded them and informed them that because of his ikhlaas, Syedi Khanji Feer QS, would rise to great heights.
The most important form of competition, however, is the one we have within ourselves. It is the one that unlocks our unlimited potential, while simultaneously uplifting those around us. Thousands of mumineen, in the quest for spiritual advancement, have put aside their worldly pursuits to attend the majalis of Ashara Mubaraka. With each beat of matam, with each cry of YaHusain mumineen compete for the highest darajaat in Jannat.