The Representative of the Religious Authority Meets Clergy and Preachers of Toronto, Canada

The Representative of the Religious Authority meets clergy and preachers in Toronto Picture 1

Under the care and sponsorship of the Secretary-General of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars of North America, His Eminence Sayyid Mohammad Rizvi, a meeting was held on Monday evening, March 4, 2024, that gathered religious scholars, clergymen, and preachers from various Islamic centers in the Greater Toronto Area, in celebration and welcome of the representative of the Supreme Religious Authority, His Eminence Sayyid Murtada al-Kashmiri, upon his visit to the region.

His Eminence Sayyid al-Kashmiri began by conveying to the esteemed attendees on behalf of His Eminence, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid al-Sistani (may God protect him), his greetings and prayers for their success. Then, he relayed to them the advice directed from the Religious Authority of Najaf, as follows:

  1. The Importance of Purifying the Soul

The importance of focusing on purifying the soul and acquiring virtues and noble attributes, which will then qualify them to be role models for others, as it is narrated from Imam Ali (p): "The slip of a scholar is like the sinking of a ship; it drowns itself and others with it."

  1. Practice What You Preach—Applying What You Convey to Others

Preachers and clergymen should refrain from calling people to something and advising them without acting upon it and applying it to themselves first, for it has been narrated from the Commander of the Faithful (p): "The one who seeks to teach others should first teach himself." In fact, God says, "O’ believers, why do you say what you do not do? It is greatly detestable in the sight of Allah for you to say what you do not do" (Quran, 61:2-3). Then His Eminence added to this recommendation a story told about the late Shaykh Jafar Al-Shushtari (may Allah have mercy on him), who had a pulpit, in the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (p) in Najaf, where he delivered his sermons and moral advice daily. He was once asked to speak about the virtue of liberating slaves for the sake of Allah. However, he did not speak about that until an entire year had passed, and when asked about the reason for delaying the response for a whole year, he replied: "I will not speak about any matter unless I have done it myself first, and I was only able to implement what was asked of me yesterday."

  1. Embodying Humility and Openness to Everyone Indiscriminately

The necessity of humility towards people and compassion and openness to those who come with questions, whether young or old, man or woman, regardless of whether the matter is simple or serious. It is narrated by the Commander of the Faithful (p) that "The tool for successful leadership is the expansiveness of the heart (i.e compassion and empathy to others)." This is especially important with regard to the youth, as they require greater care and attention, for they are the target of enemies who seek to distort their thoughts and sow doubts in their minds, regarding their faith, beliefs, and the religion of Islam. So, beware and be cautious with them, for this is a responsibility that we will be held accountable for on the day we stand before Allah. He says in the Quran, "And stop them! Indeed, they are to be questioned." (Quran, 37:24)

  1. Upholding Exemplary Conduct With Attire, Behavior, and Speech

Those who take on the duty of serving the religion and spreading its message, should observe the sanctity of the attire they wear, for they serve as a role model, and therefore, the general public expects more from them than others regarding their actions, conduct, speech, and everything else. People will scrutinize you closely and our faults are more evident than others. It is expected to see from us, at least, the manners and ethics that remind them of the Infallibles (p).

  1. Acquainting the Audience with Their Imams (p)

An emphasis should be placed on acquainting the audience with their Imams (p) and their role and position in the Allah’s religion, as well as mentioning their virtues, their beautiful words, and the elevated status which Allah ordained for them, as well as emphasizing the significance of connecting with them properly. Imam al-Rida (p) said: "May Allah have mercy on the one who revives our affairs." He was asked, "How does one revive your affair?" He replied, "By learning our knowledge and teaching it to the people, for if the people come to know the merits of our words, they would follow us." 

It must also be noted that one must never claim knowledge and insight beyond what they truly know for the sake of attracting people to themselves and elevating their status to be glorified and admired. It is narrated: "Beware of two destructive habits: giving religious verdicts based on personal opinion and speaking without knowledge." Also, it had been narrated that, "Whoever gives religious verdicts without knowledge or guidance from Allah, the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment all curse him together, and he bears the responsibility of the sin of those who act upon his verdict." If we do not know something, we should simply say, "I do not know." There is no shame in continuing to seek knowledge until the last moment of our lives.

  1. Accountability—You Are Accountable for the Knowledge You Spread

It is imperative to verify what one intends to convey to people, whether it be hadiths, narrations, or words from our scholars. For every word uttered, one will be held accountable. One should be aware that their Imam (p) is a witness over them since Allah says in the Quran: "And say, Act [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers." (Quran, 9:105)

In addition, on the occasion of the approaching month of Ramadan, His Eminence added, saying: 

The Month of Ramadan is approaching us, and it is the season of the Holy Quran. Therefore, teach your children to recite and memorize the Quran, as well as reflect upon its meanings. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) said: “... And whoever recites a verse in the month of Ramadan will have the reward of reciting the entire Quran in other months…” 

Let your mosques and homes emanate with the recitation of the Quran, for the places where the Quran is recited is inhabited with angels and abandoned by devils. It is also narrated by the Prophet (pbuh&hp): “Illuminate your homes as much as you can, for the house in which the Quran is recited expands for its inhabitants, its goodness increases, angels attend it, and devils abandon it.

In addition to the Holy Quran, it is essential for believers, especially their children and youngsters, to be accustomed to reciting the supplications mentioned for the Month of Ramadan. This should then serve as a continuous program and routine for them throughout the days and nights of this month and beyond. The infallible Imams (p) have passed down to us a vast treasure of supplications—the foremost of which being "The Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya," which enriches and conditions the soul with the highest spirituality to draw closer to Allah.

It is narrated from Imam Zain al-Abidin (p) that “Allah revealed to Prophet Moses (p) saying: ‘Make me lovable to My creations, and make My creations love Me.’ Moses (p) asked, ‘O’ Lord, how should I do that?’ Allah replied: ‘Remind them of My favors and blessings upon them so that they may love Me. Because, if you make any one of them return to My door and My Path, it is more valuable to Me than you worshipping for a hundred years fasting its days and praying its nights.’

Finally, the meeting concluded with his expressions of gratitude and appreciation to the organizers and the esteemed attendees, and wishing them well and further success. The meeting was then followed by an open dialogue where His Eminence responded to the comments and questions of those present.