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Palestine

Haji 2003

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In the year of the anniversary of the Balfour agreement, it seems relevant to sum up my views on this issue.

Following years of discrimination in Europe, the Jews were able to convince one of the world's leading powers to make promises about a homeland. A number of newspapers have carried photos of the letter written by the British foreign secretary to a leading Zionist with the relevant promises. The letter itself is evidence that the discrimination was not a permanent feature of Christian-Jewish relations but something which waxed and waned. So the occurrence of pogroms is without question, but by the same measure there were period where Jews were able to live prosperous lives. It's impossible to claim that only discrimination happened while at the same time celebrating the existence of iconic synagogues and the contribution of Jews to intellectual, cultural and economic life.

Similarly, from the time the Jews were expelled from Palestine to the modern period, they had established communities throughout the Muslim world. Again the fact that they were 'discriminated' against is not in question, but by the same measure so would other minority communities. Inclusivity and anti-discrimination laws are a relatively modern phenomenon. And by the same measure being a minority in different dominions offered Jews various opportunities, they were able to trade between Safavid Iran and the Ottoman empire.

In summary was the condition of Jews, in various countries, such that they warranted their own 'homeland' and that this had to be in Palestine? I think the answer to both questions is 'no'. By definition, a homeland for the Jews cannot be a protection against attack from others because if it was they would not have been expelled from Palestine by the Romans in the first place! Secondly, if the land were so central to Jewish identity, there could have been re-settlement there at many other points in Jewish history, but there wasn't. And the reason is that there were other parts of the world which clearly offered far better opportunities. And the same holds true today, if Israel were so central to Jewish identity there would be far more people living there regardless of the economic costs.

The function that Israel performs, in my opinion, is this. It provides for the Jews living in western countries a defence of last resort, that they have never historically had. No longer will we see periods of Jewish growth followed by pogroms, because Israel has nuclear weapons.

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    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         3
      وكان يخرج إلى المقبرة فيتكلم فيرى أمثال الجراد على القبور
      Mughira used to  go to the graveyard and intone something. Insects like locusts would then be seen crawling over the graves
      أول من سمعته يتنقص أبا بكر وعمر المغيرة المصلوب
      The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira the Crucified
       
      Life Sketch
      al-Mughira b. Sai’d al-Bajali was a blind Mawla (non-Arab origin) of Khalid al-Qasri, the governor of Iraq under the Umayyads. He claimed to be a follower of Imam al-Baqir عليه السلام but perverted the Imam’s teachings while cultivating a personal following around himself in Kufa.
      قال الصادق: ... المغيرة بن سعيد لعنه الله دس في كتب أصحاب أبي أحاديث لم يحدث بها أبي ...
      Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “…al-Mughira b. Said - may Allah curse him - has interpolated into the books of the companions of my father (i.e. al-Baqir عليه السلام) narrations which were not narrated by my father …”
      قال الصادق: ... فكلما كان في كتب أصحاب أبي من الغلو فذاك ما دسه المغيرة بن سعيد في كتبهم
      Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “… so whatever is in the books of the companions of my father - of Ghulu - then that is what was interpolated by al-Mughira b. Sa’id in their books”
      After the death of al-Baqir, Mughira shifted his allegiance to Muhammad b. Abdallah b. al-Hasan al-Nafs al-Zakiyya who claimed to be the Mahdi. The going into hiding of this “Mahdi” due to fear of the Abbasids was the cue for Mughira to claim that there would be no Alid Imam after him. Mughira now claimed that authority had devolved to him and would remain so until the return.
      With this new-found authority, Mughira began teaching a highly esoteric doctrine influenced by an allegorical interpretation of the Qur’an and remnants of Gnostic thought in the sectarian milieu of Iraq.
      One explanation for Mughira’s success is his ability as a magician dabbling in the occult. The sinister powers imputed to Mughira indicate the sort of charismatic hold he appears to have had over his followers.
      قال الصادق: لعن الله المغيرة ابن سعيد، ولعن يهودية كان يختلف إليها يتعلم منها السحر والشعبذة والمخاريق ... 
      Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “May Allah curse al-Mughira b. Said, and may Allah curse the Jewess, he (al-Mughira) used to go to her (the Jewess) regularly and learn from her sorcery, magical illusions and wondrous tricks …”
      The end for al-Mughira b. Sa’id came when he joined forces with another Ghali named Bayan b. Sam’an and rose in revolt in 119 AH against the aforementioned Khalid.
      The rebellion was quickly put down and the two leaders as well as some of their followers were executed.
      قال الرضا: كان المغيرة بن سعيد يكذب على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حر الحديد
      Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام said: “al-Mughira b. Sa’id used to attribute lies to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام so Allah made him taste the heat of the iron”
       
      Influences
      Mughira was Mawla (freed-man) who spoke ungrammatical Arabic. This has led to speculation that his beliefs were influenced by prior religious traditions in the communities of late antique and early Islamic Mesopotamia. We know, for example, of the presence of Marcionites, Manicheans, Mandeans, and various gnosticized pagans in seventh and eighth-century Iraq.
      The task of specifying the exact tradition from which he emerged is made all the more difficult when one notes that Mughira, both as sorcerer and as Gnostic, was working in a line of Aramaic syncretists who followed a ‘free borrowing of formula’ for their wonder-working and propaganda. At the same time, caution must be exercised because most of the information about Mughira comes from heresiographers who came centuries later and had their own polemical axes to grind. 
      In spite of this, the following are some distinctive teachings linked to Mughira and tentative identifications that scholars have drawn for their origins:
      I.
      Mughira promulgated a notorious creation drama. He had a Man of Light (anthropomorphic God) create both light waters and dark waters and then create mankind out of these waters before proceeding to write their future acts of belief and unbelief on his palm with his finger. This cosmogony has parallels with what the Baptizing sectarians of Iraq have their Mandean demiurge doing.

      II.
      Mughira explained the creation of the sun, moon, heavens and stars in this way: “Then looking into the ocean, He (the Man of Light) saw His shadow, so He went forth to seize it. He plucked out its two eyes and created out of them two suns and He blotted out some light from the moon. Then, out of the physical forms of His shadow, He created the heavens and the stars …”
      Friedlaender has recognized that the image of Mughira’s Man of Light looking down into the dark waters to create is an echo of such Mandean imagery as: “When Life ... had thus spoken, Abatur rose and opened the gate. He looked into the Dark Water and at the same hour was formed his image in the Dark Water”.
      Mughira shares with the Mandeans the mythic idea of the substantiality of an image, reflection, or shadow as representing a real part of the original entity from which it became detached.

      III.
      Mughira had an obsessive concern with the ritual purity of water and preventing its defilement. This echoes the centrality of ‘living’ or ‘flowing’ waters in Mandean rituals, hence the necessity of living near rivers, as opposed to ‘stagnant’ or ‘turbid’ water which was seen as insufficient.
      عن الأعمش قال: جاءني المغيرة ... ثم قال: طوبى لمن يروى من ماء الفرات. فقلت: ولنا شراب غيره؟ قال: إنه يلقى فيه المحايض والجيف. قلت: من أين تشرب؟ قال: من بئر
      al-A’mash reports: Mughira came to me … and said: Blessings be on the one who drinks water of the Euphrates. I said to him: Do we have anything else to drink from? He said: Not if menstrual blood and corpses are thrown into it. I said: Where do you drink from. He said: From a well.
      كان يقول بتحريم ماء الفرات وكل نهر أو عين أو بئر وقعت فيه نجاسة
      Ibn Athir claims that Mughira used to forbid water from the Euphrates or any river or spring or well into which Najasa (pollution) had fallen.
      عن أبي هلال: سألت الصادق عليه السلام: أينقض الرعاف والقيء ونتف الإبط الوضوء؟ فقال: وما تصنع بهذا؟ هذا قول المغيرة بن سعيد، لعن الله المغيرة ...
      Abu Hallal asked Imam al-Sadiq: Do nosebleed, vomit, and armpit hair nullify ritual purity? Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام replied: Why are you meddling in such matters? This is the doctrine of Mughira b. Sa’id. May God curse al-Mughira …
      Particularly noteworthy is Mughira’s preoccupation with menstrual blood, which is not surprising in light of what we are told in Sefer Ha-Razim, that, the ‘impurity’ of the menstruating woman nullifies the success of the Jewish magician.
      زرارة قال: قال - يعني أبا عبد الله عليه السلام: إن أهل الكوفة قد نزل فيهم كذاب، أما المغيرة فإنه يكذب على أبي عليه السلام قال: حدثني أن نساء آل محمد إذا حضن قضين الصلاة وكذب والله، عليه لعنة الله، ما كان من ذلك شيء ولا حدثه ...
      Zurara quotes Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام saying: A liar has descended amidst the people of Kufa. As for Mughira then he lies about my father and says: ‘he (al-Baqir) narrated to me that the womenfolk of the family of Muhammad do make up the prayer (Qadha) after their menstruation cycle’ but he has lied by Allah! May Allah curse him. No such thing happens and nor did he (al-Baqir) inform him of this …
      In this instance, we see Mughira overriding the ancient taboo by the superior purity of the house of Muhammad, an example of the old ways which he transformed in his new version of Islam.

      IV. 
      There is some evidence that al-Mughira b. Sai’d was called by the title al-Abtar.
      المغيرة بن سعيد لقبه الأبتر
      This might be of significance.
      The centerpiece of Mughira’s revelation was the figure of the creator. Here, reconstructed from several reports, is one description:
      “He is a man of light, with a crown of light on his head, He has the body and limbs of a man. His body has an inside, within which is a heart, whence wisdom flows. His limbs have the shape of the letters of the alphabet [abjad]. The mim represents the head; the sin the teeth; the sad and dad the two eyes; the ‘ain and ghain the two ears; as for the ha’, he said: You will see in it a Great Power, and he implied that it was in the place of the genitalia and that he had seen it [on a heavenly ascent]; the alif was in the place of the foot …”
      Mughira’s description of his ‘Object of Worship’ with its famous depiction of a Man of Light with the letters of the alphabet corresponding to his members - employs a Gnostic technical term ‘Great Power’ associated with the divine figure.
      It happens that the coincidence of the name ‘Abatur’ and the term ‘Great Power’ is attested to in an eighth-century account by one Bar Khonai while describing the doctrines of the Mandeans: “They said that before the heaven and the earth were - there were great powers resting on the waters. They had a son whom they would call Abitour”.
      The coincidence of name, doctrine, place, and date would all support a possible connection with Mughira.

      V.
      The Imams shared something of the divine attributes in Mughira’s theology. Ghulat used the term Tafwidh to cast Muhammad and/or ‘Ali as demiurges, who were ‘entrusted’ with over-seeing some crucial activities after the initial creation was begun by God. ‘Ali was especially favored for this demiurgic role. Some evidence for this can be found in statements made by Mughira which assign to Ali the ability to give life to the dead (independent of Allah).
      قال: قلت: دعنى من هذا كان علي يقدر أن يحيي ميتا؟ قال: أي والذي فلق الحبة لقد كان قادرا أن يحيى ما بينى وبينك إلى آدم
      al-A’mash reports that he asked Mughira: Was Ali able to give life to the dead? Mughira said: By the one who split the seed - he (Ali) was able to resurrect all those between me and you up to Adam (all mankind).  
      لو شاء أحيا عادا وثمود. قلت: من أين علمت ذلك؟ قال: أتيت بعض أهل البيت فسقاني شربة من ماء فما بقي شيء إلا وقد علمته
      In another variant Mughira is supposed to have said: If he (Ali) wishes he gives life to Ad and Thamud. When  al-A’mash asks him about how he came to know that - he said: I went to one of the Ahl al-Bayt who gave me water to drink  - which made me know everything.
      This is why the Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said when speaking about Mughira:
      لعن الله من قال فينا مالا نقوله في أنفسنا، ولعن الله من أزالنا عن العبودية لله الذي خلقنا وإليه مآبنا ومعادنا وبيده نواصينا...قال الصادق: ... 
      May Allah curse the one who says about us what we do not claim for ourselves. May Allah curse the the one who excludes us from being servants to Allah who created us, to whom will be our return and in whose hand is our foreheads [we are totally submissive to him].
       
      Reference
      Wasserstrom, Steve. “The Moving Finger Writes: Mughīra B. Saʿīd's Islamic Gnosis and the Myths of Its Rejection.” History of Religions, vol. 25, no. 1, 1985, pp. 1–29.
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         3

      Freedom!

      Western fixation on freedom has a long, crystallizing history. In 1215, the Magna Carta was signed in England, which ended the unilateral authority of the King. The King was imposing heavy taxes on the barons, who were wealthy aristocratic men, to fight a failed war. The barons rebelled against the King, and demanded that a committee of barons be established. The King would need to consult this committee before introducing new taxes. Certain legal rights were also introduced to the barons. This was the first big step towards freedom.

      Fast forward to the 1500s; a new continent was "discovered" (i.e. Europeans found out about it). A major motivation for men to risk the high seas and migrate to an entirely New World was to avoid taxation and government overreach. They were able to seize vast, fertile properties without much nuisance. Freedom.

      Around the same time, the Protestant Reformation was taking place, and most North-Western Europeans were using it as an opportunity to break away from church tithes and indulgences. Freedom.

      Fast forward to the 1700s. The American Colonies rebel against the British because of "taxation without representation." Freedom.

      Then in the 1800s. The Confederates rebel against the Union to prevent the North from intervening in their textile industry. The Union abolishes slavery. Freedom.

      Here, we see a crystallization of yeomanry in White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture, which peaks in the American South. They have a strong distrust in government, public programs, and taxation. There is a strong "what's mine is mine" culture, where clichés like "the only things you can't avoid is death and taxes" thrive. "Conservative" to them mostly means "smaller government, lower taxes". In short, they believe that the freer they are, the happier they will be. Debates in American politics, from abortion to gay marriage to taxes, are all based on conceptions of freedom. It is also the theme of so many Hollywood films.

      Feminism is rooted in the same freedom-seeking individualist liberalist mindset. Whatever gets in the way of women's liberation - even if it is God Himself - must be cast aside.

      Freedom in Islamic literature would be "huriyya", which is really just a legal technicality - you are either a slave, or you are "free". Otherwise, our books do not take much stock in the concept. We do have treatises on "huquq", which is often translated as "rights", but a more accurate translation is "responsibilities towards". For example, the haq of a woman is the responsibilities of an Islamic society towards that woman. It is an onus.

      Responsibility and duty often fly in direct contradiction to freedom. Yes, we have free will, but Islam legislates things that we *should* and *ought* to do, and there are consequences to not fulfilling those responsibilities.

      Does freedom lead to happiness? It is actually our responsibilities that often make us happy. There is no growth in a care-free life with no schedule, no family, no commitments, and no work. These things tie us down, but they also build us up, fulfill us, and make us better people. No pain, no gain. Likewise, despite the fact that women's rights have increased over the past few decades, women's happiness has decreased according to many studies. Individualism teaches us that self-sufficiency is the key to happiness, when in actuality, success is sometimes found in submission.

      Islam literally means Submission, because it is the recognition that we are all imperfect servants. We do not choose which family we are born into, nor our race, nor our health, nor our age, nor our genes, and often, not even our social conditions. None of us are truly free, and the most free of us is not necessarily the happiest. Rather, true, heartfelt contentment is in knowing God. We are born to look for Perfection; we seek it in our looks, our grades, our power, our status, our spouse, our children; but we all - sooner or later - realize that Perfection lies only in Him alone. Trust in Him gives you that true contentment, the ability to let go of the wheel, fear nothing but Him and accept all that He allots for you. Contentment.

      If you are a believer, then your worldview should reflect your belief. We cannot import a cultural ideology that convolutes our belief. In many respects, jahiliyya represented what many of us today consider to be "freedom". But the Prophet Muhammad (s) came with accountability, and that turned the entire world around.
       
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         3

      If Islam is measured with liberal democratic criteria, it will not be fully consistent.

      Western colonial powers reached a point of hegemony in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through hard power (direct intervention) and soft power (media influence), they imposed their standard of morality onto the rest of the world. This moral framework is not Christianity, it is Western Individualism.

      Secularism, humanism, and feminism are all just logical conclusions of Individualism. They are branches from the same tree. But to what extent can we say that Individualism is the objective truth? Did the original philosophers of this ideology even intend for it to be the objective truth? Go through Hobbes or John Stuart Mill, they don't claim that Individualism is an objective universal truth, but rather that they are experiments of freedom that are most practical. So measuring Islam by this would be like measuring an object with a stretchy ruler - you'll never get a precise measurement.

      Just a few years ago, gay marriage was illegal in America, and now there is all this noise about homophobia and transphobia. Just a few years ago, marijuana was taboo, but it is now gradually being legalized. Some bite-the-bullet secularists are even questioning whether incest should be illegal, because certain forms of incest are not "directly harmful". Of course Islam will not be compatible with a measurement that is constantly fluid, changing, and in flux. Liberalism does not even attempt to falsify itself, rather it is focused on falsifying others. It salvages aspects of Greco-Roman civilization and Christianity that is consistent with individualism, and it discards everything else.

      The liberal thesis prioritizes the human being above everything else. The Islamic thesis prioritizes Allah.

      So what is the root of this tree of Individualism? Funny enough, it actually may be the Christian concept of Imago Dei - that man was created in the image of God. It is this idea that makes the individual the centre of the universe, whose will is sanctified above everything else. Hence, you have the concept of human rights, which itself is a contradiction, because rights are bestowed onto people by a higher power, not arrogated by the same people onto themselves. Humanism itself is a quasi worship of the human being, because everything including God Himself is cast aside in the name of human rights, liberty, democracy, and freedom.

      This is why I always say that secular humanism actually grew out of the carcass of Western Christianity. It uses Christian concepts of the soul and the divinity of personhood to build an entirely new moral framework that discards its root. It is a paradox.

      The identity of man in Islam is that he is a created servant. This is the same identity as all biotic and abiotic elements around us. We are a part of the ayah that is the great ayah of the creation. All is fleeting and all will perish but the face of Allah (28:88), which is simultaneously everywhere that we turn (2:115). He is recognized everywhere and behind everything, for He is the Apparent (al-Thahir) and the Hidden (al-Batin). The cosmological Creator, the everlasting Sustainer, and the ontological Perfection that we are all after. The individual is powerless on his own, and is only empowered by the Powerful.

      أعوذ بالله من كلمة أنا
      I seek refuge in Allah from the word "me".
    • By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heaven
         0
      هر کجای این جهان آشوب و جنگ
      آه مظلومان زند بر قلب چنگ
      آن که بنیان ستم باشد از او
      مرگ بر او, ننگ بر او, نفرین بر او
      ....
      ....
      *"شیعه یعنی لا فتی الا علی"
      پیروی از حق و بیعت با ولی
      از نوای نخل و شیونهای چاه
      سرخ رنگ میگردد فلک هر بامگاه
      ترک کن این قوم بی فرهنگ را
      این سرای ننگ پر نیرنگ را
      یاد کن محراب خونین رنگ را
      بوسه ی سرخ سروش مرگ را
      پیکر بی سر, گلوی پاره را
      شام تلخ مردم آواره را
      اشک لیلا, ناله ی شبگیر را
      دست و پای در غل و زنجیر را
      ....
      ....
      شیعه یعنی انتظار و صبر و درد
      خالقان عشق, مردان نبرد
      کربلا, عاشوریان بی قرار
      شیعه یعنی شور رفتن سوی یار
      ای تو هارون رهنمای راه راست
      سامری آمد بگو موسی کجاست
      سامری بدعت به دین انداختست
      گر نباشی کار مردم ساختست
      تا به ظهر آمدن در التهاب
      در تب و تاب ظهور آفتاب
      چون به فردا آید آن شاه وزین
      جهل را راند از روی زمین

      میکشد آن که ضعیفان را بکشت
      ابلیس را, آنکه بر حق کرد پشت

      آنکه بشکست حرمت ناموس را
      واپسین فرزند دقیانوس را

      پرده برمیدارد از رازی گران
      فاش میگردد حقیقت بر جهان
      شهسوارا! مردمان مستت شوند
      همچو مومی نرم در دستت شوند
      ...
      ای خیال شوم ابلیس لعین
      نایب الشیطان بر روی زمین
      ای به رنگ خون, انگشتان تو
      استخوان مردمان بر خوان تو
      کرده پر از خون, هوس, جام تو را
      شوم میبینم فرجام تو را
      از چه لذت میبری؟ از سرکشی؟
      از خیانت, ظلم, نامردی, حق کشی؟
      بر ضعیفان و یتیمان تاختن؟
      پرچم حق را به زیر انداختن؟
      رایت ظلم و ستم افراشتن؟
      کیسه ها از مال خلق انباشتن؟
      کاخ خود را روی کوخی ساختن؟
      یا که از روی هوس, دل باختن؟
      ...
      ای خداوند جهان بیکران
      ای فراتر از مکان و از زمان

      ای خداوند رحیم و رحمدوست
      ای که افسار جهان در دست اوست

      بارالها طاقت دنیا کم است
      روزگارش مملو از درد و غم است

      پرده افکن از رخ خورشید شرق
      تا بیاندازد به دلها نور و برق
      زود گردان ای خدا دیدار را
      برشکن فرهنگ استکبار را
       
      * مصرع عاریتی
       
    • By Sisterfatima1 in Fatima
         0
      I’m sorry today that your father wouldn’t let you talk to your sister 
      it broke my heart and I cried for you 
      I know you didn’t deserve it today and you are not strong enough to speak out 
      i will always be your voice and I will not stop fighting for your rights 
    • By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heaven
         0
      St.12.   Part3
      عصایی و سنگی و فلاخنی و بتی شکسته و سبدی خالی که روان است بر روی آب
      خودش نیست تا بتوان او را دید
      ولی ردپایش که هست تا بتوان به دنبالش رفت.
      ....
      I had forgotten God, but He never did. During the time when I was in that mansion, God sent hoopoe there everyday to remind me of my rendezvouz. Hoopoe came, sat at the window and waited for me to pay attention to it. But I was so busy that I didnt see it. It pecked the window, but the song of the statue prevented me from hearing it.
      Whenever hoope returned hopelessly, God scolded it for not trying more.
      Hoopoe itself, to whom God taught my language as a reward, later narrated it to me.
       
      Finally,...
       
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         1
      يقول لك جعفر بن محمد: ما حملك على أن رددت شهادة رجل أعرف بأحكام الله منك و أعلم بسيرة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم منك 
      Ja’far b. Muhammad says to you - what made you reject the witness of a man [i.e. Muhammad b. Muslim] who is more aware of the Ahkam of Allah than you and more knowledgeable about the Sirah of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم than you!? [Imam al-Sadiq challenging Ibn Abi Layla who was the Qadhi of Kufa]
      فما يمنعك من محمد بن مسلم الثقفي فإنه قد سمع من أبي و كان عنده وجيها
      What prevents you from [going to] Muhammad b. Muslim al-Thaqafi - for he had heard [narrations] from my father and had a most favorable position with him [Imam al-Sadiq answering Abdallah b. Abi Ya’fur who had asked for a reference point to ask questions to when he cannot meet the Imam directly]
      فقال: الثقفي الطويل اللحية ؟ فقلنا: نعم قال: أما إنه لقد كان مأمونا على الحديث و لكن كانوا يقولون إنه خشبي
      He said: al-Thaqafi - the one with the long beard? We said: Yes. He said: as for him - then - he was trusted in the matter of Hadith, but they used to say that he is a Khashshabi (derogatory term for Shi’as) [Sharik voices his opinion of Muhammad b. Muslim inadvertently revealing the size of his beard]
       
      The Greatest Companion of the Two Imams
      If someone were to ask the question: Who was the greatest companion of the two Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq? What would be the answer?
       
      The Big Four
      The starting point has to be four individuals.
      حمدويه، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، عن سليمان بن خالد الأقطع قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: ما أحد أحيا ذكرنا و أحاديث أبي عليه السلام إلا زرارة و أبو بصير ليث المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و بريد بن معاوية العجلي و لو لا هؤلاء ما كان أحد يستنبط هذا، هؤلاء حفاظ الدين و أمناء أبي عليه السلام على حلال الله و حرامه، و هم السابقون إلينا في الدنيا و السابقون إلينا في الآخرة
      Sulayman b. Khalid al-Aqta said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: There is no one who has enlivened our remembrance and the narrations of my father عليه السلام except for Zurara, Abu Basir Layth al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli.  If it wasn’t for them then there wouldn’t be anyone who could derive these [i.e. the Ahkam]. They are the protectors of the religion and the trustees of my father عليه السلام upon the Halal of Allah and His Haram. They are the foremost to us in this world, and the foremost to us in the hereafter.
      حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن جميل بن دراج قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: بشر المخبتين بالجنة بريد بن معاوية العجلي و أبو بصير ليث بن البختري المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و زرارة، أربعة نجباء أمناء الله على حلاله و حرامه، لو لا هؤلاء انقطعت آثار النبوة و اندرست
      Jamil b. Darraj said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام say: Give glad tidings of paradise to the humble - Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Abu Basir Layth b. al-Bukhtari al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Zurara. Four noble-ones and trustees of Allah upon his Halal and Haram. If it wasn’t for them the traces of prophethood would have perished and been destroyed.
      حمدويه، عن محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد و يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن أبي العباس البقباق عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: أربعة أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا، بريد بن معاوية العجلي و زرارة بن أعين و محمد بن مسلم و أبو جعفر الأحول، أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا
      Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: The most beloved persons to me - whether alive or dead - are four: Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Zurara b. A’yan, Muhammad b. Muslim and Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal. They are the most beloved persons to me - alive or dead.
       
      Knowledge Elevates
      If one wishes to narrow it down further then it has to be between Zurara and Muhammad b. Muslim. This is because of their prodigious scholarly output.
      With close to two thousand reports quoted on his authority in the four main collections of Shi‘ite Hadıth and many more in others, Muhammad b. Muslim was one of the most prolific transmitters of Shi‘ite Hadıth. This is why he was unanimously considered as one of the Ashab al-Ijma [‘People about whom there is consensus’].
      قال أبو أحمد: فسمعت عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و حماد بن عثمان يقولان: ما كان أحد من الشيعة أفقه من محمد بن مسلم
      Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj and Hammad b. Uthman said: there was no one from the Shia more knowledgeable (in the Diin) than Muhammad b. Muslim.
      His knowledge was not of the theoretical type, which in any case is not true knowledge, but of the type which is translated into action.
      وقيل: إنه كان من العباد في زمانه
      It is said that he was one of the greatest worshippers of his time.  
       
      Biographical Details
      His full name was Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Muslim b. Rabah (d. 150 AH, when he was about seventy years old). From Kufa. A Miller. The Client of Thaqif [a tribe based in Ta’if]. He was One-eyed.
      al-Najashi says about him:
      وجه أصحابنا بالكوفة، فقيه، ورع، صحب أبا جعفر وأبا عبد الله عليهما السلام، وروى عنهما، وكان من أوثق الناس
      The eminent head of our companions in Kufa. Jurisprudent. Pious. He attached himself to Aba Ja’far and Aba Abdillah  عليهما السلامand narrated from them. He was the most trustworthy of people.
       
      Long Period of Study
      Muhammad b. Muslim says about his tutelage under the Imams:
      حدثني حمدويه بن نصير، قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن ياسين الضرير البصري، عن حريز، عن محمد بن مسلم قال: ما شجر في رأيي شئ قط إلا سألت عنه أبا جعفر عليه السلام، حتى سألته عن ثلاثين ألف حديث، وسألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن ستة عشر ألف حديث
      Nothing crossed my mind except that I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام  about it, until I had asked him about thirty thousand narrations. I also asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about sixteen thousand narrations.
      قال محمد بن مسعود، حدثني علي بن محمد، قال حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن عبد الله بن أحمد الرازي، عن بكر بن صالح، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، قال: أقام محمد بن مسلم بالمدينة أربع سنين يدخل على أبي جعفر عليه السلام يسأله، ثم كان يدخل على جعفر بن محمد يسأله 
      Hisham bin Salim said: Muhammad b. Muslim stayed in Madina for four years entering upon Abi Ja’far عليه السلام  and asking him questions, then he used to enter upon Ja'far b. Muhammad عليه السلام  to ask him.
       
      Why Choose to be a Miller?
      Muhammad b. Muslim chose the lowly profession of a miller not because of any material need, but because of the Imam’s command to ‘humble himself’. The Imam advised him to do this because he knew that his great knowledge combined with affluence could make him arrogant.
      قال أبو النضر: سألت عبد الله بن محمد بن خالد عن محمد بن مسلم فقال: كان رجلا شريفا موسرا، فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: تواضع يا محمد، فلما انصرف إلى الكوفة أخذ قوصرة من تمر مع الميزان، وجلس على باب المسجد الجامع، وصار (جعل) ينادي عليه، فأتاه قومه فقالوا له: فضحتنا، فقال: إن مولاي أمرني بأمر فلن أخالفه ولن أبرح حتى أفرغ من بيع ما في هذه القوصرة، فقال له قومه: إذا أبيت إلا أن تشتغل ببيع وشراء فاقعد في الطحانين، فهيأ رحا وجملا وجعل يطحن
      Abu al-Nadhr said: I asked Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Khalid [al-Tayalisi] about Muhammad b. Muslim - he said: He was a noble and wealthy man so Abu Ja’far عليه السلام  said to him: ‘humble yourself O Muhammad’, so when he returned to Kufa he took a date-basket and a weighing scale and sat down at the door of the central mosque and began calling out [for people to come buy]. His tribesmen came to him and said to him: You have disgraced us! He said: My master has ordered me [to do something] so I will not disobey him nor will I depart until I finish selling what is in this basket. His tribesmen said to him: If you refuse giving up buying and selling then at least sit together with the millers [a more respectable profession], so he prepared a mill-stone and a camel and began grinding.
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