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  1. I wish I had time to study Ismailism more deeply but there is an ocean of information and I don't even know where to start. Can you recommend an online course or something which would serve as a good foindation to undertanding the Ismaili path?
  2. (bismillah) (salam) Dear Brothers and Sisters, It strikes me that I became a member of this fine forum in September 2006, which is now almost seven-and-a-half years. "Time flies," as they say. I have never been a very active member here, nor I have I posted very much. But I have learned a lot as a lurker over the years and I appreciate the way this community has remained on the Internet and served to connect a great variety of people. So, I would like to offer my thanks to this forum and its members. May the next seven years be even better for you and yours! (wasalam)
  3. Western Media Influence On Non Western Ppl, How?

    In my opinion Western Media is dying. The internet is setting minds free. However, the "mass media" in the sense of movies, pop culture, mainstream western news, etc. is very seductive and powerful because lots of intelligent, money-hungry, power-hungry people have deep experience with it. They use profound psychological tactics ruthlessly. They know how to manipulate the subconscious mind, inflame desires for sex and materialism, play on status anxiety, and so on. A good documentary on mass media and psychological maipulation is "The Century of the Self." I recommend it.
  4. Was It You?

    (bismillah) (wasalam) Beautiful, thank you for sharing!
  5. Qibla Question

    Salaam, I wonder if anyone could answer this question. I was asked this and could not answer. Although it may sound a bit frivolous or overly "hair-splitting," I am curious as to whether it has ever been addressed. The island of Tematangi in French Polynesia as the antipode to Holy Mecca. "Antipode" means it is at the exact opposite end, if one were to draw a line directly through the earth. I do not expect to go there, but if a believer were to go to this location, where would Qibla be? Because it is equidistant from Holy Mecca north, south, east, and west. Respectfully, Blueline
  6. Shia in Tokyo?

    Salaam Aleikum, Thank you for your quick and helpful information!
  7. Shia in Tokyo?

    (bismillah) (wasalam) Greertings. I am looking for Shia groups or individuals in Tokyo or nearby in Japan. There is a large Sunni mosque in Tokyo but so far I have been unable to find any Shia presence, discussion groups, etc. Does anyone know of an organized Shia group in Tokyou/Japan? Much thanks in advace for any replies.
  8. Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (a.s.)

    (salam) Thank you!
  9. (salam) (bismillah) I wish I knew more about this Imam (as) . Information seems limited. Does anyome have any links to information about Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (as) and his times and thoughts? Thank you in advance for any information.
  10. Lsd, The Road To The Truth

    Let me share with you a few ideas I have about LSD and similar psychedelics, looking back at my own experiences many, many years ago. These drugs seem to have different effects on different people, and for a significant minority they seem to induce a mystical or semi-mystical states or mindsets. Others find the drug more emotive or aesthetic, and still others just get lost in the "pretty colors" or the strangeness of it all. Finally, at the least sensitive level, there are those who just take it as a "party drug" to get "buzzed" as if they were drinking alcohol, without any sense of higher meaning. This is a tragic waste, but quite common. For those who discover the higher states, however, LSD presents a certain danger, and it can be a deadly trap. First, these people usually feel like the original poster of this thread: completely transformed and permeated by a higher awareness, feel like they have found a new way of seeing that has changed them forever. They want to shout at all the zombie people drifting through life without seeing to wake up and look at all the beauty around us, etc. etc. But this stage doesn't last long. If they repeat taking LSD again and again, soon their experience also becomes coarser, shallower, less meaningful. They keep trying to get back to something beautiful and dimly remembered from their first few experiences, but it never really comes with the same power. Finally, if they keep taking it enough, they may experience depression, "burnout," or a truly bad trip. Or they may just become coarser, less sensitive people, descending to a low level where the drug is just another "buzz" and all the mystical meaning has been drained away. to be replaced by a kind of hip cynicism. This pattern is very common. If you truly have a meaningful experience that seems to opens new doors with LSD, you should ponder the message you receive very carefully. I think that if the experience was truly profound and you are sensitive to the core depths of its meaning, you will see that LSD at its best is teaching you a little about how to live daily life in a healthy and compassionate way, with discipline and focus and patience and wisdom and insight. The "intense" or "freaky" or "hallucinogenic" aspects of LSD are trivial sideshows, not really important at all. The real message should be learning how to love, to take care of your body and mind, to be healthy, calm, and centered, to understand others and yourself, and to get a sense of how much "more" there is to the human soul. And it seems a bit of a paradox, but this core lesson first delivered by LSD actually then leads away from LSD itself, and back to the simple boring old "real world" with an attitude of calm helpfulness to others. Taking LSD again and again trying to capture or posses the feeling and make it yours shows a lack of understanding, because the truth cannot be possessed: it can only be performed. Ultimately, LSD is something you TAKE. Real mysticism is something you MAKE. In this sense, a deep LSD trip is a menu at a gourmet restaurant. You look at the menu, get a sense of what is available...and then you put down the menu and go on to the real meal. People who repeatedly seek mystical experience in LSD are a bit like people who go into a restaurant, read the menu, get really excited at how delicious it all is -- and then they eat the paper menu instead of ordering real food. The true meaning of LSD is beyond LSD, in living a simple, spiritual daily life without making too much of a fuss about it, and being ready to lend a helping hand to your suffering brothers and sisters, whoever they may be. Alan Watts, a thinker from the mid-20th century who wrote about Zen Buddhism and Taoism, used LSD a few times and found it valuable, but he thought more than a few experiences would be destructive, and didn't pursue it beyond the first few trips. His quote on LSD: "My understanding is that once you've received the message, you hang up the phone." Wise advice indeed.
  11. Catholicism and Shiism

    (bismillah) (salam) This is an interesting question. I will list a few things that seem similar to me. Although in truly important matters, there are many more differences than similarities. I think in some respects the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism mirrors some of the contrasts as can be found between Shiia and Sunni forms of Islam. Please note that I am not treating matters of truth or falsehood, just simply some aspects that bear comparison. -Both Catholicism and Shiism have more well-defined clerical hierarchies than Protestantism and Suni. -The word "fundamentalist" in English is usually (but not always) applied to both extreme Protestants (evangelicals, Pentecostals, "Born Again Christians" like George Bush, etc.) and the Salafis, rather than Catholics and Shiites. Both the Salafis and the extreme Protestants seek to return to how they imagine it was in the earliest days of their religion, while Catholics and Shiites have more respect for the entire scope of their histories and the teachings of many teachers and thinkers down through history. -Both the Salafis and extreme Protestants use very simple, literal readings of their Holy Texts. The Shiites and the Catholics are apt to take a more complex, broader view that involves ideas about hidden meaning that needs careful interpretation, and so on. -Both the Salafis and extreme Protestants are very quick to use the label "unbeliever" or "un-saved" for others who think differently than them, while the Shiites and Catholics both seem to be more cautious and thoughtful about making such judgements. -Ideas of *tragic, unjust suffering* of the innocent and pure are more central in Catholicism and Shiism than in Protestantism or Sunism. Some types of Catholicism encourage very emotional enactment of suffering and long contemplation on various types of sorrows and sufferings. -Interestingly enough, at least in official doctrine, the Catholics seem see themselves in a closer kind of relationship with Islam than the Protestants, most of whom completely reject any acknowledged relationship with Islam. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official doctrine document released by the Roman Catholic church, has this to say: "The Church's relationship with the Muslims: The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." (CCC 841; source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo-Islamic).
  12. (bismillah) (salam) I am sorry, this became a bit longer than I expected. I am sure most of you know much the information in (1) below quite well, so skip the first part if you wish. I will provide it as a brief reference to clarify the issue at hand, before turning to various questions. 1. GENERAL BACKGROUND It is revealed in the Holy Quran that before Allah (sw) gave humanity the profound and magnificent gift of His direct words through the Prophet Muhammad (saww), He blessed mankind with a number of earlier revelations, also in the form of His direct words. These were the older Kutub (Holy Books). The Kutub specifically named in the Holy Quran are as follows: The Suhuf-i-Ibrahim The Tawrat The Zabur The Injil Information about the Suhuf-i-Ibrahim seems to be very limited (perhaps one of the brothers or sisters here can inform us; I can't find much about it anywhere ), but it is clear that the other three early Kutub were tragically corrupted (so-called tahrif or tabdil) by mankind over time. The corrupted versions of the Tawrat and the Injil are today the central texts for Judaism and Christianity, respectively, and I believe both of these faiths also revere the corrupted version of the Zabur. 2. QUESTIONS AND ISSUES So, with the above as background, I have been pondering the topic of the older Kutub recently, although my overall knowledge of this topic is extremely limited. I have been wondering how much we can discover about the original sacred versions of these texts, which were the direct words of Allah (sw). Are any brothers or sisters here aware of any serious and comprehensive scholarly attempts to "reconstruct" the original texts as much as possible? I think any attempt to recover of Allah's (sw) direct revelations could potentially be a glorious undertaking, even if the results end up being limited (although it might instead present serious potential dangers, as I discuss a bit below). I imagine it might be possible to create vague outlines or general ideas about the content in parts of the early Kutub based on an analysis of similarities and differences between the currently damaged versions and the direct the truth as revealed in the Holy Quran. It may sound impossible at first impression, but scholars of Islam can do marvelous things with rigorous textual analysis. I imagine a kind of textual "backwards engineering" might be possible to a limited extent, so as to arrive at some knowledge of the original versions, even if it is ultimately limited. I have certainly seen lists of passages in the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah that were confirmed by the truths revealed by the Holy Quran. I recall reading about efforts to approach to the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah using methods similar to the way unreliable Hadith are examined, for example. This might be a good basis for tackling the issue. 3. POSSIBLE NEGATIVE POINTS OR DANGERS I must note that I have also begun to have concerns that it might be sinful or dangerous to study along these lines. My first instinct was that it would seem glorious rather than sinful to seek any knowledge of the direct revelations of Allah (sw) in any possible way. However, this is a complex issue. For example, the Holy Quran clearly and explicitly states that all older Kutub are abrogated by the revelations of the Holy Quran. Since we already have the Holy Quran, why should we want these older books?Shouldn't the message that Allah (sw) intended for our time be enough? Another concern: this study would involves engaging deeply with the texts of unbelievers, which raises other suspicions and problems and requires a very advanced level of scholarship and wisdom. It could be easy to fall into wrong doctrines this way. Another point: Even if we find similarities between the texts of unbelievers and the Holy Quran, it certainly does not by itself prove that such passages are derived from the actual words of Allah (sw) or even that their general topics and content were revealed by Allah (sw) at all. For example, it is possible that the unbelievers could have changed their already-corrupted texts after the Holy Quran had been revealed (their texts have changed constantly in many centuries). In this case, similarities with the Quran would mean nothing. On the other hand, the Holy Quran does teach a certain degree of respect for all Kutub, which suggests that these texts still contain aspects of Allah's original message, so the situation may not be hopeless. But even so, this doesn't mean that we as weak and fallible humans will have the wisdom to discern the truth in these sadly damaged books. Certainly, a great deal of caution is required. QUESTIONS In conclusion, I'll put forth a few questions for discussion, if anyone has interest. 1) Have you ever pondered these issues yourself or consulted reutable clerics or scholars about them? If so, did you arrive at any solid conclusions? 2) Is anyone aware of good books, media, websites, or other information that would pertain to these ideas? 3) Have you ever heard of a serious and careful investigation by reputable authorities or wise men at any point in history to try to reconstruct or learn in depth about the original Kutub texts before their corruption? 4) Does anyone with proficiency in textual analysis have ideas about the topic? 5) Sadly, my knowledge of the Twelve Imams (as) and the Ahlul Bayt (as) in general is still insufficient, although I try to study their works and related hadith as much as possible. Have any members of the Ahlul Bayt (as) ever addressed this topic? Well, if any of you bothered to read all that, I thank you for your time and interest. I personally find the idea of the original Kutub fascinating and compelling, whether or not we ever are permitted to learn more about these older gifts from Allah (sw) to his human creations.
  13. I Had A Dream..

    (bismillah) (salam) This is all very interesting to me. I have also been having unusual dreams lately. For example, last night I dreampt about the Nahjul Balagha...First I saw the cover, then the pages opened and my dream was simply a dream of reading it, page after page! I felt happy to have had this dream when I woke up, but I don't know what it means.
  14. (bismillah) (salam) Thank you all for the links and information.
  15. Black Stone At Kabaa

    (salam) The stone was stolen by the Qarmatiyyah when they attacked Mecca in 930. They took it because they claimed that Islam and Sharia had reached some kind of end point. :angry: The Black Stone wasn't retuened to Mecca for about 20 years or so, I think, and it was during that time that it shattered into pieces.