In his life as well as in his writings, Imam Yassine’s soul hovers there, in the open horizons of eternity- of the Malakūt [the Dominion, which is the world of the unseen] – although his body dwells- by necessity- here in the world of mortality. I will never forget, nor shall I, that day in May, 2000 when Imam Yassine met the press for the first time after ten years of house arrest. The press agencies were stuffed waiting for the statements, declarations, accusations may be, and political initiatives of the charismatic leader. Disappointingly, the man hardly talked about that! Asked about the plans of his movement now that he was released, he replied, “education, education and education”. Hardly an hour or so through the press conference, Imam Yassine abruptly brings everything to an end as soon as he heard the call to prayer. “God is Greater”, he retorted. Who would do something like that? Who would resist the glare of the cameras and the temptations of public airing except a man whose soul is so caged in this world waiting for those moments of connection with the divine! Isn’t it that in prayer that the believer is brought most closely to his/her Lord as the beloved prophet [God bless him and grant him peace] told us in a hadith?
Yassine was a man of God. A man who reminds you of those great God-fearing scholars in the history of the umma. At least this is what all those who had the chance to meet him attest to. One remembers in this score, the testimony of ‘Azzām at-Tamīmī, the Palestinian British academic and political activist, as well as of dozen others who talked about the captivating spirituality, the natural simplicity, the high morality, and the uncontrived humility of the Imam. Yassine used to exude a spiritual aura which radiated on whoever happened to be in his presence. In his testimony to al-Masā’ Moroccan newspaper, Mohammed al-Hbabi, one of the founders of the National Union of the Popular Forces and a heavy-weight leader in the Socialist Union of the Popular Forces party- recounts his visit, together with another prominent leader in the same party, to Imam Abdessalam Yassine in 2000. “The man was all the time cheerful and optimistic in the deep sense of the word”, he says. “Abdessalam Yassine”, he adds, “. . . indulges in a sense of tranquility, serenity and self-confidence, just like a saint. He impressed me tremendously.” (1)Mohammed al-Hbabi, “Confessions Chair” in Al-Massae newspaper, 11 December, 2011. How come that a staunch secular political activist who boasts of decades-long of struggle within the ranks of a socialist party be so touched? What did Imam Yassine have that he did not? Many people, from all ranks and from all walks of life who met him would simply assert that truth: that they were in the presence of a man who has just come back from an encounter with the Holy, with the numinous in Rudolf Otto’s words. Yet, the Imam’s spirituality was not of the “mysterium” or the “tremendum” type. It was immersed in tranquility and serenity. It was meant to educate, not to bedazzle.
Yes, all the time cheerful and optimistic. All those who visited him during those ten bleak years when he was put under house arrest would be surprised by his cheerfulness and positivism. So radiating and abundant was his optimism that the visitor would never leave without taking his share. A pure soul and a big heart! Mercy was also one of the key salient attributes of the Imam. When king Hassan II passed away, Imam Yassine raised, to the surprise of everybody, his hands to ask forgiveness and mercy for a dictator who did everything to turn his life into hell: imprisonment, incarceration in an insanity asylum, house arrest, and all sorts of harassments which excluded neither the Imam’s family nor his acquaintances. For Imam Yassine, time is so precious to be squandered in petty feuds and polemics; “the one who often turns aside every now and then will never get to his destination”, he often used to say. He abstained from engaging in any polemics with any of his detractors. And yet, it was the will of the Almighty, a cunning of history if you wish, that those who penned pages, published videos and did everything they could to belittle and bedevil the Imam turned up in his massively huge funeral and delivered eulogies to his person. Another telling practical lesson in ethics!
Today, I heard, efforts to document the legacy of the Imam are in full swing. The initiative is called The School of Imam Abdessalam Yassine. To be sure, the man was a school in the deepest sense of the word. In his school, one is educated to strive for excellence in everything, for Iḥsān, in all its three senses. Imam Yassine was a school because, in the modern language of pedagogy, he modeled everything he taught. Not only does he urge you to remember God, to praise Him, to send prayers and blessings to his Messenger [God bless him and grant his peace], to be merciful to others, to give from your time, effort and money for the sake of God the Almighty . . . etc, but always shows you how and when to do it. Knowledge, deep enduring knowledge, the wisdom goes, “is not drawn from the bellies of volumes, but from the companionship of scholars.” Imam Yassine was also an outstanding school because in his school one learns to attend to the crux of the matter; the thing-in-itself to borrow Kant’s words and not mere surfaces and appearances. His was also a unique school since in it you learn how to keep balance; how to make your center hold.
What a school! Blessed is the teacher and blessed are the pupils.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Mohammed al-Hbabi, “Confessions Chair” in Al-Massae newspaper, 11 December, 2011.|