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General Observations, scribbles, comments, glosses (annotations), critiques, doodles, or illuminations while translating Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara of Shaykh al-Muhsini.

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Islamic Salvation

The modern economic system and the immoral capitalism that it can engender have given rise to preposterous inequality, greed-based wars and rampant poverty.

The two engines for this exploitative system continue to be ‘interest’ and ‘gambling [stock speculation]’ both of which were outlawed by Islam in its quest to build a humane society. Take away both and most of the inflated ‘bubble’ will collapse hopefully to be replaced by a worth-based economy.

A pillar of this system is ‘debt’, millions tethered to their credit cards, having to service the seemingly ever-increasing burden on them whilst employed in under-paid jobs. The wealth floods upwards instead of 'trickling down' making a few fat cats richer without having to sweat a single drop.

Islam is more generous in its allowance for a grace period to the one struggling and even encouraging full cancellation of the debt as an act of charity.

وَإِنْ كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ مَيْسَرَةٍ ۚ وَأَنْ تَصَدَّقُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease; and that you remit the debt as almsgiving would be better for you if you did but know” (2:280).

Sharks give loans to under-privileged and desperate people whom they prey on and then auction off their homes [which was placed as warranty] the moment they default or even before.

In under-developed countries, a wide-spread practice is for the house of the defaulter to be putatively sold off at a paltry price – equal to the loan and far below the real value of the house – but that is only as far as records on the books are concerned, everyone knows that in reality a sweet confidential deal has been agreed upon with a pre-selected buyer who pays a large commission for being given the privilege of first dibs.

This Hadith which al-Muhsini places in the Bab on Usul al-Fiqh - as it indicates the Hujiyya [authority] of Khabar al-Wahid [solitary report] because Ibn Abi Umayr is citing Dharih’s narration as evidence for his action, reveals another even more important principle in Islam as taught by the Imam i.e. creditors should not demand and take away someone’s home for the sake of recovering a loan.

A note of caution: Since the need to fulfill contractual obligations is stressed in Islam, and considering the technical nature of the subject, this narration should not be seen as a ruling [a field which is left to the Maraji who are the experts], however, we can still gleam from it a general spirit encouraged by Islam.

[-/11] الفقيه: بإسناده عن ابراهيم بن هاشم ان محمد بن ابي عمير كان رجلا بزازا فذهب ماله وافتقره وكان له على رجل عشرة آلاف درهم فباع دارا له كان يسكنها بعشرة آلاف درهم وحمل المال إلى بابه فخرج اليه محمد بن ابي عمير فقال: ما هذا؟ فقال: هذا مالك الذي لك علي قال: ورثته؟ قال: لا قال: وهب لك؟ قال: لا قال: فهل هو ثمن ضيعة بعتها؟ قال: لا قال: فما هو؟ قال: بعت داري التي اسكنها لاقضي ديني فقال محمد بن ابي عمير: حدثني ذريح المحاربي عن ابي عبدالله عليه السلام انه قال: لا يخرج الرجل عن مسقط رأسه بالدين، ارفعها فلا حاجة لي فيها والله اني لمحتاج في وقتي هذا إلى درهم واحد وما يدخل ملكي منها درهم واحد

[11/-] al-Faqih: Via his chain from Ibrahim b. Hashim that - Muhammad b. Abi Umayr was a cloth merchant whose wealth perished and he fell into indigence, he had however loaned out ten thousand silver coins to someone, so the one he owed sold his house which he used to live in at a price of ten thousand silver coins and carried the whole sum to his (Ibn Abi Umayr’s) door, so Muhammad b. Abi Umayr came out to him and said: what is this? he said: this is your money which was due upon me, he said: you have inherited it? he said: no, he said: it has been gifted to you? he said: no, he said: is it the price of a land you have sold? He said: no, he said: then what is it? he said: I sold my house in which I live in so that I can repay my debt, so Muhammad b. Abi Umayr said: Dharih al-Muharibi narrated to me from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام  that he said: "a man is not driven out of his place of residence (home) because of debt" take it away for I have no need of it, by Allah even though I do have a need of even a single silver coin at this time - I will not take a single one of them into my possession.

Islamic Salvation

 المسلم أخو المسلم لا يظلمه ولا يخذله، إن كان عندك معروف، فعد به على أخيك

وإلا فلا تزده هلاكا إلى هلاكه

The Muslim is a brother of a Muslim, he is not unfair with him nor does he cheat him,

If you want to make him a good turn then hand it over to your brother, and if not then do not contribute to his financial destruction [The Messenger of God]

 

The Real Wolves of Wall-Street Pt. II

  « ويبايع المضطر – وقد نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله عن بيع المضطر » 

<< deals are conducted with the one in distress, while the messenger of Allah prohibited transaction with the one in distress >>

Al-Tusi narrates from al-Sadiq a similar narration:

يأتي على الناس زمان عضوض يعضّ كلّ امرئ على ما في يديه ، و ينسى الفضل ، و قد قال تعالى و لا تنسوا الفضل بينكم ثمّ ينبري في ذلك الزمان أقوام يبايعون المضطرين اولئك هم شرار الناس

There will come upon people a severe age wherein every man will cling to what is in his hand, and forget giving, while Allah the Exalted said: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” (2:237), then will arise in that age groups who will conduct business deals with the distressed and they are the worst of the people.

 

Distress Deals

Some scholars have tried to interpret مضطر which I have rendered as ‘distressed’ to be مكره that is ‘compelled’ [to buy or sell]. They claim that it is this latter (compelling someone to buy or sell something) which is forbidden because all transactions must be entered in with full consent. They point out that even if someone is in distress it is still his decision to engage in the transaction. 

But I consider this to be a limited definition restricting the range of the narration’s applicability, rather, I would say that the مضطر in the context of the society which these narrations describe and the stinginess they attribute to the wealthy - should  be taken to mean those whom economical forces (completely out of their hands) exploit and make desperate enough to do anything including allowing the sharks to come out and take advantage of them.

Distress sale is particularly associated with not being able to cover mortgage payments and foreclosures. There are some who are always on the lookout for such deals. In fact they openly brag about finding such deals:

“The main reason to buy a distressed property is the price. In most cases, a foreclosure or short sale will be priced below market value, the valuation of the asset is artificial because it was not sold under open and competitive market conditions. From the buyer's perspective, however, property that is sold in a distressed sale can present an opportunity to purchase the asset at a substantial discount to market prices”.

Another example which is relevant to our modern age and would fall under the spirit of this Hadith is Big Pharma. Many of these global corporations hike up the prices of important and life-saving drugs to developing countries which cannot afford them. We have psychopathic CEO’s who claim to care only about the balance sheet and answerable only to the shareholders with no shred of mercy in their hearts, while the sick have no option but to pay up.

This interpretation is backed up by narrations such as the one found below:

إسماعيل بن عبد الله القرشي قال: أتى إلى أبي عبد الله عليه السلام رجل فقال له: يا ابن رسول الله رأيت في منامي كأني خارج من مدينة الكوفة في موضع أعرفه وكان شبحا من خشب أو رجلا منحوتا من خشب على فرس من خشب يلوح بسيفه وأنا أشاهده، فزعا مرعوبا فقال له عليه السلام: أنت رجل تريد اغتيال رجل في معيشته، فاتق الله الذي خلقك ثم يميتك فقال الرجل: أشهد أنك قد أوتيت علما واستنبطه من معدنه اخبرك يا ابن رسول الله عما فسرت لي إن رجلا من جيراني جاءني وعرض علي ضيعته فهممت أن أملكها بوكس كثير لما عرفت أنه ليس لها طالب غيري فقال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام: وصاحبك يتولانا ويبرأ عدونا ؟ فقال: نعم يا ابن رسول الله رجل جيد البصيرة مستحكم الدين وأنا تائب إلى الله عز وجل وإليك مما هممت به ونويته فأخبرني يا ابن رسول الله لو كان ناصبا حل لي اغتياله فقال: أد الأمانة لمن ائتمنك وأراد منك النصيحة ولو إلى قاتل الحسين عليه السلام

Ismail b. Abdallah al-Qarashi who said: a man came to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said: O the son of the messenger of Allah I saw in a dream as though I am outside the town of Kufa in a place which I know, and there was something like an apparition made of wood or a man carved out of wood on a wooden horse brandishing his sword while I look on in fright and terror, so he عليه السلام said to him: you are a someone who wants to cheat a man out of his livelihood so be fearful of Allah who created you and will make you to die, so the man said: I bear witness that you have been given knowledge and have derived it from its real source (treasure-mine), I will inform you O the son of the messenger of Allah the background to that which you have interpreted for me, a man from among my neighbors came to me and offered me his walled-up land so I wished to own it at a very low price since I knew that there isn’t anyone else who wants to buy it, so Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to him: is your fellow someone who follows us and disassociates from our enemies? He said: yes - O the son of the messenger of Allah, he has good insight and follows the religion, and I repent to Allah Mighty and Majestic and to you from what I wanted and had intended to do, but inform me O the son of the messenger of Allah - if he was a Nasibi [a hater of the Ahl al-Bayt] could I have cheated him in this way? He said: return back the trust to whomsoever has placed his confidence in you and expects good-counsel from you - even if he be killer of al-Husayn!    

--> Some of the people of Ilm in Ta’wil of Ru’ya (scholars learned in dream interpretation) claim that the Imam’s interpretation is wholly consistent with their methods. They interpret wooden things in dreams as having association to Nifaq (hypocrisy) because of the verse from Surat al-Munafiqun “as though they were pieces of wood propped up” (63:4). The sword as an allegory for his evil intention. That this intention harbors some financial aspect can be inferred from the horse which symbolizes “the world” and “livelihood” because it is in of itself a steady source of income and the potential to earn.

Islamic Salvation

ثم يكون ملكا عضوضا يشربون الخمور ويلبسون الحرير ويستحلون الفروج

وينصرون ويرزقون حتى يأتيهم أمر الله

Then will come a tyrannical regime, they will imbibe wine, wear silk and promote lewdness

And they will win for a while and be given sustenance until suddenly the affair of God will come to them [The Messenger of God]

The Real Wolves of Wall-Street Pt. III

 

« وعن بيع الغرر »

<< and [also prohibited] the deceptive sale >>

The whole Hadith has also been narrated in Sunan Abi Dawud from an old man of Banu Tamim who heard this address of Ali.

حدثنا محمد بن عيسى حدثنا هشيم أخبرنا صالح بن عامر قال أبو داود كذا قال محمد حدثنا شيخ من بني تميم قال خطبنا علي بن أبي طالب أو قال قال علي قال ابن عيسى هكذا حدثنا هشيم قال سيأتي على الناس زمان عضوض يعض الموسر على ما في يديه ولم يؤمر بذلك قال الله تعالى ولا تنسوا الفضل بينكم ويبايع المضطرون وقد نهى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن بيع المضطر وبيع الغرر وبيع الثمرة قبل أن تدرك

This is an important variant because it gives us a clue as to the kind of deal which can fall under Gharar i.e. selling or buying something [in this case fruits] before they have matured and are ready i.e. وبيع الثمرة قبل أن تدرك

 

Deceptive Deals

غرر is an Arabic word which is associated with uncertainty, deception and risk. It is a significant concept in Islamic finance and is used to measure the legitimacy of a hazardous sale or risky investment. This can be pertaining to the selling of goods or assets of ambiguous quality or delivery, but also includes contracts that are not drawn out in clear terms.

Gharar is generally prohibited in Islam, as there are strict rules in Islamic finance against transactions that are highly uncertain or that may cause any injustice or deceit against any of the parties.

Elements of Gharar can be observed within derivative transactions such as forwards, futures and options, as well as in short selling and in speculation. In Islamic finance, most derivative contracts are forbidden and considered invalid because of the uncertainty involved in the future delivery of the underlying asset.

However, Muslim Jurists disagree on the degree of uncertainty in a transaction to be considered a Gharar transaction.

الغرر هو البيع المجهول العاقبة. ومن نوع الغرر ما نهى عنه صلى الله عليه واله من بيع حبل الحبلة، والسمك في الماء، وبيع الثمرة قبل بدو صلاحها ونحو ذلك. قال النووي: النهي عن بيع الغرر أصل من أصول الشرع يدخل تحته مسائل كثيرة جداً، فكل جهالة تؤدي إلى فساد البيع فهي غرر ولا عكس 

Gharar is a kind of transaction whose future outcome is uncertain. Examples of Gharar include those which the prophet صلى الله عليه واله explicitly prohibited such as selling the unborn animal (Habal-al-Habalah), the fish in the sea [whom you have not already caught], selling the fruit before it has ripened and etc.

al-Nawawi says: Prohibition of Gharar transaction is a principle from among the principles of Shariah under which come a lot of sub-issues, so any kind of uncertainty which can lead to damage of the sale then it is a kind of Gharar.

Other examples of Gharar taken from the narrations of the prophet include:

1. The “Pebble” “touch” and “toss” sale.

2. Selling the fetuses and embryos.

3. Selling the find of the diver in advance.

4. Selling the object of unknown identity without the buyer having the right to specify it.

This is particularly relevant because some of these derivatives are so complex that no one knows exactly what is being transacted, while Islam does not want the buyer to be in ignorance of what he is buying.

5. Deferment of the price to an unknown future date.

Derivatives in particular have an additional problem in that they are not representing a physical asset. In Islam something must be under your control (physically) before you can conclude a transaction. You cannot just create a virtual asset - not backed by a physical good - and start selling it. What exactly are you selling?!

And this point is what is used by some Islamic scholars to call for a return to the gold standard because the fiat currency has been the cause of a lot of inflation and destabilization that have even led to world-wars.

 

Derivatives and the 2008 Crash

It is interesting to note that Warren Buffet one of the most successful investors had this to say way back in 2002 about derivatives:

“I view derivatives as time bombs, both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system. Basically these instruments call for money to change hands at some future date, with the amount to be determined by one or more reference items, such as interest rates, stock prices, or currency values … Derivatives contracts are of varying duration, running sometimes to 20 or more years, and their value is often tied to several variables.

The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal”

An increasingly dominant analysis of the causes of the crash consider unregulated derivatives to be at the root of the problem.

1. "The arguments of the cause of the financial collapse may go on for a long time, and there may never be a consensus explanation. However, we know that the use of derivative securities played a pivotal role in the system that collapsed" - Did Derivatives Cause The Recession?

2. During the financial crisis in 2008, the root cause of the meltdown was derivatives. Specifically, CDOs, or Collateralized Debt Obligations related to mortgages and CDSs, or Credit Default Swaps. Why would banks and holdings companies (whose primary asset is a bank), increase their risk to such a high level? There are a number of factors but it all boils down to one issue “ GREED!  The Root Cause Of The 2008 Financial Meltdown: Derivatives

3. The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode. Big Banks and Derivatives: Why Another Financial Crisis Is Inevitable

Just imagine if an Islamic-inspired humane economy was in place - most of these shenanigans would have been avoided including the massive damage caused which has wiped out whole economies and caused untold human suffering. Having said this, derivatives remain a de facto pillar of the financial markets (ironically, if you trace the origins of the instrument - it was to provide resistance against risk, instead it creates risk out of thin air!). And there is a great need to develop an alternative for it or the Islamic finance market will not be able to develop further.

Islamic Salvation

يا جابر كم من عبد إن غاب لم يفقدوه و إن شهد لم يعرفوه  

            في أطمار لو أقسم على الله لأبره قسمه                    

O Jabir - how a many a man there is - if he is absent they do not ask about him, and if he is present they do not recognize him,

In ragged clothes, but if he swears an oath upon Allah - then Allah surely fulfills his oath for him. [Ja’far al-Sadiq]

 

The Real Wolves of Wall-Street

A better metaphor for a certain type of ambitious, cut-throat, high level banker than wolf [or other members of the extended canine family for that matter] is not easy to find. This is because they share the same aggression combined with a very low regard for the financial health of the many innocent whose wealth they play around with.

A narration from the commander of the faithful, which in some variants is attributed to the prophet (via Ali), predicts just such persons in a future age, going on to describe their practices with an accuracy that only prophetic insight can bring.

The narration is found in Uyun Akhbar al-Rida of al-Saduq (and other sources), and is represented below:

ن: بالاسانيد الثلاثة، عن الرضا، عن آبائه، عن الحسين بن علي عليهم السلام قال: خطبنا أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فقال: سيأتي على الناس زمان عضوض يعض المؤمن على ما في يده ولم يؤمر بذلك، قال الله تعالى: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ وسيأتي زمان يقدم فيه الاشرار وينسئ فيه الاخيار، ويبايع المضطر – وقد نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله عن بيع المضطر وعن بيع الغرر – فاتقوا الله يا أيها الناس واصلحوا ذات بينكم، واحفظوني في أهلي

Uyun: Via the three chains from al-Ridha from his forefathers from al-Husayn b. Ali عليهم السلام  who said: the commander of the faithfulعليه السلام  addressed us and said: there will come upon people an extremely severe age, the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand while he was not ordered to do that - Allah the Exalted says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves, verily Allah is aware of what you do” (2:237), and there will come a time wherein evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten, deals are conducted with the one in distress, while the messenger of Allah prohibited transaction with the one in distress, and [also prohibited] the deceptive sale, so fear Allah O people and mend the ties between you, and safeguard me through [honoring] my descendants.

Ref: Muhammad Asif al-Muhsini, Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara, Bab al-Sakha wa al-Bukhl, Kitab al-Akhlaq (Qum: Dar Nashr Adyan; 1st edition, 1434 H), Vol. 3, Pg. 172, No.6.

 

Commentary

« يأتي على الناس زمان عضوض »

<<There will come upon people an extremely severe age>>

زمان عضوض  is a key phrase which I have rendered as ‘an extremely severe age’, but it has its subtleties which need to be fleshed out.

عض  originally means

العَضُّ الشدُّ بالأَسنان على الشيء

‘to bite onto/take hold of something using teeth’

عَضُوضٌ  is derived fromعض  and primarily used as a descriptive adjective for an animal, and one animal in particular, it is said:كلب عَضُوضٌ  a dog that bites habitually.

This was extended analogically to derive other meanings (but is still intimately associated with its original meaning):

 

[I] When applied to rule or dominion it has the special significance of tyranny, as though the subjects thereof are being bitten by a dog.

It has been used with this meaning in the famous narration of the prophet in Sunni sources:

إن الله عز وجل بدأ هذا الأمر نبوة ورحمة ، وكائناً خلافة ورحمة، وكائناً ملكاً عضوضاً

Allah Mighty and Majestic began this affair with prophethood and mercy, and then will be succession and mercy, and then will be aملكاً عضوضاً  (tyrannical kingdom). This is how various annotators defined ملكاً عضوضاً:

شديد الظلم على الناس، يعضهم كالكلب

Excessive in tyranny on the people, tearing into them like a dog.

قال  ابن الأثير في النهاية: يصيب الرعية فيه عسْفٌ وظُلْم، كأنَّهم  يُعَضُّون فيه عَضًّا

Ibn Athir says in al-Nihaya: The civilians will be inflicted in it with oppression and tyranny, as if they are being bitten in it with bites.

وهو نص على عدم شرعية حكم معاوية وأنه حكم جائر يعض المسلمين كالكلب

And this is a clear proof-text proving the illegitimacy of the rule of Muawiya, and that he was an unjust ruler who will bite the Muslims like a dog.

Very early evidence for this usage is also found in a letter of Talha to the people of Misr (inciting them against Uthman) in al-Imama wa al-Siyasa of pseudo-Ibn Qutayba

وكانت الخلافة بعد نبيّنا خلافة نبوّة ورحمة، وهي اليوم ملك عضوض، مَن غلب على شي ء أكَلَه

The Khilafa after our prophet was a Khilafa of prophethood and mercy, but it is today a tyrannical kingdom, whoever over-powers something eats it up.

 

[II] When applied to a time-period or an age it has the special significance of severe, as though the age is biting those living through it because of various difficulties that it contains.

It has been used with this meaning in the poem below:

إليك أشكو زمناً عَضوضاً         مَن يَنْجُ منه ينقلب حَرِيضا

To you I complain زمناً عَضوضاً  (a severe age)     whoever is saved from it returns back sickened

A commentator says about this زمناً عَضوضاً:

أي كلب يقال: كلب الدهر على أهله إذا ألحّ عليهم واشتدّ

Meaning hard. It is said: the time has become hard on the people if it constantly presses on them and becomes extreme.

زمان يعضّ الناس ككلب كلب

Al-Tustari: an age which bites the people like a rabid dog.

I say: We can see thatعضوض  connotes both unjust rule and an extremely severe [austere] period to come in the future. What is the most common way in which the modern economic system is described? A rapacious and increasingly ravenous dog eat dog world with great wealth owned by a few and austerity for the rest. And all this is alluded to in the narration!

زمان الضيق و الشدّة على أهله من جهة ضيق المعاش و كثرة القوانين و الحدود الموضوعة من الظلمة و الجبّارين على الضّعفاء و المساكين و غير ذلك

Mir Habib Allah al-Khoei: This age is characterized by poverty and troubles on its people, this is due to the constriction in their living, and the numerous man-made laws and rules which are enacted by unjust and tyrannic rulers over the weak and poor.

I say: Global poverty (inequality) is the main scourge of the modern economic system.

 

  « يعض المؤمن على ما في يده »

<<the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand>> 

There is surely a mistake in this clause since it is not something we expect a believer to do, sure enough, when we look at the Nahj al-Balagha variant of this same tradition it says:

« يعض الموسر على ما في يديه »

<<the well-off will cling on tightly to that which is in his hands>>

فلا يدع أن يخرج منه خير إلى غيره

Al-Tustari: so he will not allow any of his wealth to go to anyone else.

عض الرجل على ماله اذا جمعه لنفسه فلا ينفقه و لا يعطى شيئا منه

Al-Rawandi: a man clings on to his wealth if he amasses it only for himself and does not give anything of it to anyone.

و عض فلان على ما في يده أي بخل و أمسك

Ibn Abi al-Hadid: someone clings to what is in his hands, that is: becomes stingy and withholds.

I say: Greed is the main driver of this.

 

« و لم يؤمر بذلك »

<<while he was not ordered to do that>>

بل بضدّه قال اللّه سبحانه: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ

Al-Tustari: rather he was ordered to do its opposite, Allah Glorified is He says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” (2:237).

The language used is not of command but encouragement, this shows that what is spoken of here is generosity in giving not the obligatory dues like Zakat.

 و لا تنسوا الفضل بينكم و قال تعالى نسوا اللّه فنسيهم أي تركوا أمر اللّه و طاعته فترك اثابتهم، و اصل النسيان الترك

al-Rawandi says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” in another verse He said: “they forgot Allah so He in turn made them to forget themselves” (9:67), that is, they abandoned the orders of Allah and obedience to Him so he abandoned giving them. And the essence of forgetting is abandoning.

 

Examples of Liberality in the Hadith

و عن الصادق عليه السّلام : من يضمن أربعة بأربعة أبيات في الجنّة؟ أنفق و لا تخف فقرا، وأنصف الناس من نفسك، و أفش السلام في العالم، و اترك المراء و إن كنت محقّا

[al-Khisal]: al-Sadiqعليه السّلام  said: who will guarantee for me these four in exchange of four houses in paradise? Give and do not fear poverty, be just to the people even against your own self-interest, spread peace in the world and abandon arguing even if you are in the right.

و عن الرضا عليه السّلام قال لمولى له: هل أنفقت اليوم شيئا؟ فقال لا فقال فمن أين يخلف اللّه علينا أنفق و لو درهما واحدا

[al-Kafi]: From al-Ridhaعليه السّلام  who said to a Mawla of his: have you spent anything on charity today? he said: no, he said: how is Allah going to compensate us (in what we spend - if it is not in charity)? Give in charity even if it be a single silver coin.

 

Three Main Signs of that Age

  « يقدّم فيه الأشرار، و ينسى ء فيه الأخيار »

1. << the evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten >>

Let no one be in doubt about the moral decadence of a tax-evading global elite, a handful of whom own the wealth of almost half the earth’s population, or that of politicians who acquire positions of power deceitfully, in fact the lower they debase themselves the higher they rise, while the righteous are shunned, mocked and demeaned, or as is more likely, considered irrelevant, a pathetic remnant of a bygone era where virtue still counted. Relativism and Nihilism are after all what characterize this age.

To be continued …

Islamic Salvation

The Narration

 الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن عبدالرحمن بن أبى هاشم، عن سالم بن أبي سلمة، عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: حضر رجلا الموت فقيل: يارسول الله إن فلانا قد حضره الموت فنهض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله  ومعه اناس من أصحابه حتى أتاه وهو مغمى عليه، قال: فقال: ياملك الموت كف عن الرجل حتى أسأله فأفاق الرجل، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله: ما رأيت؟ قال رأيت بياضا كثيرا وسوادا كثيرا قال: فأيهما كان أقرب إليك؟ فقال: السواد، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله: قل: اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِيَ الْكَثِيرَ مِنْ مَعَاصِيكَ وَ اقْبَلْ مِنِّي الْيَسِيرَ مِنْ طَاعَتِكَ فقاله، ثم اغمي عليه، فقال: ياملك الموت خفف عنه حتى أسأله، فأفاق الرجل، فقال: ما رأيت؟ قال: رأيت بياضا كثيرا وسوادا كثيرا، قال: فأيهما كان أقرب إليك؟ فقال: البياض، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: غفر الله لصاحبكم قال: فقال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: إذا حضرتم ميتا فقولوا له هذا الكلام ليقوله

al-Kafi: Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammmad b. al-Husayn from Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Hashim from Salim b. Abi Salama from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام who said:

A man was suffering the pangs of death, so it was said: O messenger of Allah so and so is on his death-bed, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله set out with some men from among his companions until they came to him while he had fallen unconscious, he said: O angel of death - stop your workings on the man until I can ask him! so the man regained consciousness, the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said to him: what did you see? He said: I saw a lot of darkness and a lot of brightness, he said: which one of them was nearer to you? he said: darkness, so the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: say - “O Allah forgive me the great number of transgressions to you and accept from me the small number of obediences to you” so the man repeated that then fell back into unconsciousness, he said: O angel of death - stop your workings on him so that I can ask him! so the man regained consciousness, he said: what did you see? He said: I saw a lot of brightness and a lot of darkness, he said: which one was closer to you? he said: the brightness, so the messenger of Allah said: Allah has forgiven your fellow! Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: if you witness someone dying then remind him these words so that he can say them.

Ref: Muhammad Asif al-Muhsini, Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara, Bab Talqin al-Muhtadhar, Kitab Ahkam al-Mayyit (Qum: Dar Nashr Adyan; 1st edition, 1434 H), Vol. 8, Pg. 492, No.5.

Comments

Modern research has shown that the ubiquitous themes featuring in most near-death experience narratives include:

1. “A ‘tunnel experience’ - a sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase”.

2. “About half report seeing a tunnel of light, and the other half report seeing a tunnel of darkness”.

3. “The tunnel of light is reported as being bright and golden. The tunnel of darkness is reported as being as black as a void of nothingness. About ten percent of people manage through the tunnel to the other side. Everyone reports this place as peaceful and beautiful”.

4. “A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light”.

5. “Encountering ‘Beings of Light’, ‘Beings dressed in white’, or similar”.

While most studies attribute this to oxygen starvation others refute this. Several alternative possible hypotheses bandied about include a flood of endorphin to neural-noise theory and memory recall. 

This  narration indicates that seeing such colours is not something unaccounted for in Islam and is to be interpreted metaphysically. 

لعل البياض عقائده وأعماله الحسنة والسواد أعماله القبيحة وفى بعض الاخبار أنه قال: رأيت أبيضين وأسودين فيمكن أن يكون الابيضان الملكان والاسودان شيطانان يريدان اغواء أو أتاه الملائكة بصور حسنة وقبيحة لانه إذا صادفوه من السعداء توجه إلى ملائكة الرحمة وإن كان من الاشقياء توجه إليه ملائكة الغضب

al-Majlisi says: it is possible that the ‘brightness’ is his belief and good-deeds and the ‘darkness’ is his evil actions, and in some reports he said: I saw two white lights and two black ones, it is possible that the two white lights are the two angels, and the two black-ones are the devils wanting to mislead him, or it could be that the angels came to him with a beautiful face and an ugly face, for if they find him from among the people of good an angel of mercy faces him, and if he is from the wretched an angel of anger does so”.

Islamic Salvation

Who is Ibn Jurayj?

Ibn Jurayj, ʿAbd al-Malik b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, was an early Meccan scholar considered to be from the Taba’ Tabi’ina. According to the sources he was born in the city in 80/699 and died in 150/767. His grandfather Jurayj (George) had been a slave of Byzantine origin who belonged to a woman of the Meccan Khālid b. Asīd clan, part of the Banū Umayya of Quraysh. Either Jurayj or his son was set free, and thus became a client (mawlā) of this clan, a legal status that their offspring inherited.

Despite his affiliation with Umayya, there is evidence that he had excessive love for the Ahl al-Bayt, as sometimes happens when a good fruit is borne of an accursed tree.

محمد بن إسحاق، ومحمد بن المنكدر، وعمرو ابن خالد الواسطي وعبد الملك بن جريح، والحسين بن علوان الكلبي هؤلاء من رجال العامة، إلا أن لهم ميلا ومحبة شديدة، وقد قيل إن الكلبي كان مستورا ولم يكن مخالفا

al-Kashshi says: Muhammad b. Ishaq, Muhammad b. al-Munkadir, Amr b. Khalid al-Wasiti, Abd al-Malik b. Jurayh (sic. Jurayj) and al-Husayn b. Ulwan al-Kalbi, these were men from the `Amma (proto-Sunnis), except that they had an inclination and excessive love (for the Ahl al-Bayt), and it is said that al-Kalbi was hiding (his faith) and was not of the Mukhalifin. 

 

Praise for Ibn Jurayj

Many famous narrators narrated from him, among them Ibn Ulayya and Yahya b. Said al-Qattan, and the authors of the Sihah included his narrations in their compilations. 

قال الذهبي: هو الإمام، العلاّمة، الحافظ، شيخ الحرم، وصاحب التصانيف، وأوّل من دوّن العلم بمكّة

al-Dhahabi: He is the Imam, the Allama, the Hafidh, the Shaykh of the sacred precinct, the author of works, and the first one to write down knowledge in Makka.

I say: the book of Ibn Jurayj has a very good claim at being the first written compilation of Hadith predating the Muwatta of Malik

وعن عطاء بن أبي رباح: إنّه: سيّد شباب أهل الحجاز

Ata b. Abi Rabah: He is the leader of the youths of the people of Hijaz.

وعن علي بن المديني: الإسناد يدور على ستّة، فذكرهم وذكر ابن جريج

Ali b. al-Madini: the Isnad revolves around six, so he mentioned them and he included in these Ibn Jurayj.

وعن يحيى بن سعيد: كنّا نسمّي كتب ابن جريج كتب الأمانة

Yahya b. Said: we used to call the books of Ibn Jurayj “the books of trust”.

وعن يحيى بن معين: ابن جريج ثقة في كلّ ما روي عنه في الكتاب

Yahya b. Main: Ibn Jurayj was Thiqa in all that which is narrated from him in the book.

أضاف الذهبي: الرجل في نفسه ثقة. وقد كان شيخ الحرم بعد الصحابة: عطاء ومجاهد،وخلفهما: قيس بن سعد وابن جريج، ثمّ تفرّد بالإمامة ابن جريج فدوّن العلم، وحمل عنه الناس، وعليه تفقّه مسلم بن خالد الزنجي، وتفقّه بالزنجي الإمام الشافعي

Al-Dhahabi concludes: the man is Thiqa in of himself, and the Shaykhs of the sacred precinct i.e. Makka after the Sahaba were - Ata and Mujahid, and after them came - Qays b. Sa’d and Ibn Jurayj, then he assumed sole leadership and wrote down knowledge, and the people carried it from him, and under him tutelaged Muslim b. Khalid al-Zanji and tutelaged under this al-Zanji the Imam al-Shafi’i.

وروايات ابن جريج وافرة في الكتب الستّة وفي مسند أحمد ومعجم الطبراني الأكبر، وفي الأجزاء

And the narrations of Ibn Jurayj are aplenty in the six books and in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and in the Mu’jam of al-Tabarani and etc.

قال عبدالرزّاق: كنت إذا رأيت ابن جريج علمت أنّه يخشى الله

Abd al-Razzaq said: if you saw Ibn Jurayj you could tell that he feared Allah.

[Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala 6/333]

قدم ابن جريج إلى العراق قبل موته وحدّث بالبصرة وأكثروا عنه

وعن يحيى بن سعيد: كان ابن جريج صدوقاً

Ibn Jurayj travelled to Iraq before his death and narrated in Basra and its denizens narrated a lot from him.

Yahya b. Said: Ibn Jurayj was truthful.

[Tahdhib al-Kamal 12/55]

Thus, as we can see - Ibn Jurayj is unanimously considered Thiqa according to the Sunnis, and he was depended upon by the Hadith scholars and the narrators, and he was truthful and God-fearing, despite all that he ruled on the permissibility of Mut’a and acted upon it.

قال التستري: وكما روى ـ اى ابن جريج ـ حلّيّة المتعة كالأماميّة، كذلك روى كون الأذان من وحي السماء لا من رؤيا عبدالله بن زيد

al-Tustari says: And just as Ibn Jurayj narrated the permissibility of Mut’a as the Imamiyya did, similarly, he narrated that Adhan was a heavenly revelation and not a dream seen by Abdallah b. Zayd [as the common Sunni view holds]. [Qamus al-Rijal 7/12]

 

Proof that Ibn Jurayj permitted Mut’a

قال الذهبي: هو أحد الأعلام الثقات... وهو في نفسه مجمع على ثقته مع كونه قد تزوّج نحواً من سبعين امراة نكاح متعة. كان يرى الرخصة في ذلك، وكان فقيه أهل مكّة في زمانه

al-Dhahabi: He was one of the most-knowledgeable scholars and from among the Thiqat … and he is in of himself agreed upon as far as his trust-worthiness is concerned despite having married approximately seventy women in Mut’a marriages. He considered it as permissible. And he was the jurist of the people of Makka in his time. [Mi’zan al-I’tidal 2/659]

وقال محمد بن عبدالله بن عبدالحكم: سمعتُ الشافعي يقول: استمتع ابن جريج بتسعين امراة، حتى إنّه كان يحتقن في الليل بأُوقية شيرج طلباً للجماع

Muhammad b. Abdallah b. Abd al-Hakim: I heard al-Shafi’I saying: Ibn Jurayj made Mut’a with 90 women, such that he would apply in the nights sesame oil to help him in intercourse. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 6/333, and in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 6/360: seventy women instead of ninety].

قال جرير: ... أمّا ابن جريج فإنّه أوصى بنيه بستّين امراة، وقال لا تزوّجوا بهنّ فإنّهنّ اُمّهاتكم وكان يرى المتعة

Jarir:  … As for Ibn Jurayj then he willed to his son [the names of] seventy women and said: do not marry them for they are your mothers and he used to accept Mut’a. [Ta’rikh Baghdad 7/255, Sharh al-Zarqani 8/76]

الذهبي: و قيل: إنّه عهد إلى أولاده في أسمائهنّ لئلاّ يغلط أحدٌ منهم ويتزوّج واحدة ممّا نكح أبوه بالمتعة

al-Dhahabi: and it is said: he (Ibn Jurayj) gave his sons the names (of those women) so that they do not fall into the mistake of ever marrying a woman their father had married via Mut’a. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 6/331]

الماوردي: و حكى عن... وابن جريج والإماميّة جوازه ...

al-Mawardi: And it is attributed to … and Ibn Jurayj and the Imamiyya its permissibility … [al-Hawi al-Kabir 11/449]

Islamic Salvation

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 
الحمد لله رب العالمين حَمْدًا يُوافِي نعمه ويكافئ مزيده

Those who have spent time poring over old tomes in the way of medieval scribes can witness the pleasure and solace that delving into their words can give. There is no greater joy in noticing hidden links and joining the dots as it were - gaining in confidence that the Aimma were building for us a supra-structure of the Deen the bricks of which fit intricately.      

It is hoped that through this blog: wisdom might be uncovered that jurists looking for the law might have overlooked, the socio-historical context of those times can be brought into sharp relief, obscure lexical etymology of words can be highlighted, but perhaps more importantly - an invitation can be given to all and sundry to aid a translator who can sometimes find himself at sea in the face of the daunting challenges such as having to explain away abstruse passages, mystical-philosophical language and the pre-modern consmology that runs through our corpus. 

The Ahadith of the `Aimma are rich in connotation and different individuals who come to it bring different perspectives based on their back-ground (No one can have all the tools to decode every implication). This should be encouraged as it enriches understanding and can flesh out meanings not considered before, especially those that are relevant to our times. Despite this, not every subjective thinking which we have can be elevated and considered definite. Caution should prevail and the Shuruh of the Ulama [as found in numerous Hashiya] should be given preference.  

 

We have to adopt a highly critical attitude towards our own theories if we do not wish to argue in circles: the attitude of trying to refute them.
– Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
–  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

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