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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 yearold 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 endless 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 “Hashtag” 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 a 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 piggybacked 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 any time 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 set up 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?
The idea that the world is composed of four or five elements (fire, water, earth, wind, and aether) was almost universal in the ancient world. The science and mythology of many ancient civilizations, from Greece to Japan, operated on this understanding.
While Islam is not really married to the idea of four elements (it is not supported in an explicit way in the Quran or hadiths), it is interesting to note that Islamic metaphysics and cosmology use this system.
This is especially the case in the spiritual world. The jinn are made from a smokeless Fire, the humans are made from Earth (Teen), and the soul (ruH) comes from the word for Wind (reeH). The Throne of Allah was settled upon Water (11:7), until that water was separated into the heavens and earth. The angels are from light (Noor, a word related to Nar).
Allah does not raise a prophet except that he speaks the language of his people. He may have used these literary devices to explain a realm that is ultimately beyond our understanding (ghayb). The Quran is a book that needs to be intelligible to people, especially when speaking on the unseen and unknown.
While the universe is simply not made up of H2O, the image of Water as a fluid, clear, shapeless structure is befitting to understanding the world. In physics, the concept of fields (gravitational, spatial) operate largely on fluid mechanics. “Water” is a chaotic substance that was then categorized, compartmentalized and distinguished into the world we know today.
Similarly, a simple sample of the water (saliva) in your body can create an entire profile of who you are: your DNA, and therefore, your family lineage, your appearance, your susceptibility to diseases, and even parts of your personality.
There are some things that are beyond literal and metaphorical. The dichotomy of literal and metaphorical is sometimes not just inaccurate, but harmful to our readings of scripture.
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Marriage is not easy. You have to get to know each other. You are used to doing everything your own way. Now you need to compromise. Share with each other. Give and take. If you take more than you give, it won't be as sweet. Do not expect more from your spouse than your spouse will need from you. Life is good. It's better when you are together. If you both do your best.
♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
and even if we are not perhaps we should try to be and if we can't are there other ways of understanding the world around us in order to make informed decisions that are necessary for survival?
I was inspired to think about this. by yet another post on ShiaChat asking about the numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19 compared to the numbers dying annually from other causes e.g. malaria or car accidents. The motivation behind the observation was that maybe the fuss around Covid-19 was a hoax perpetrated by those who want to benefit themselves at our expense.
Driving people to science ...
A 'positive' outcome from this crisis is that people are trying to engage with the science and statistics behind the virus, even though they may not be doing so perfectly. But at least it demonstrates a desire to understand the world rather than spend time in idle frivolity. And perhaps as a result of better understanding acquired by such means we may be better able to cope with the next, more virulent virus. At the same time there are clearly attempts by some to mislead to further their own agenda.
Epistemology for the masses
But I also believe that God allows for information and knowledge to take a number of different forms and if we cannot understand one, there is always something else that may take us in the right direction.
A measure that's easy to understand
There are many different measures of how deadly or not the virus is and based on that information what the imperative should be on us to take any action. Some of these are very technical and difficult for the layperson to understand. Indeed we read a number of arguments questioning the threat that CV19 poses and these include the following:
- CV19 being no more deadly than flu
- more people die in road traffic accidents
- questions about the integrity of the mortality data because it may not be able to distinguish between whether someone died of CV19 or with it so on.
They may sound plausible to the unwary and suggest that perhaps no lifestyle changes are necessary.
However I think that it is instructive that we have quantitative information about deadliness that is very easy indeed to understand, and it can not be easily manipulated or changed for propaganda purposes. It is the data on excess deaths.
In all developed countries and many developing ones we know how many people die each year. We just look at the number for this year and you can see the impact of CV19. Of course if there is more than one pandemic happening then it's not so good, but at the moment we only have one.Quote
A better way to measure the damage caused by such a medical crisis is to look at “excess mortality”: the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause, and the historical average for the same place and time of year.
I think the importance of this measure for theists is an important one. Ultimately God creates everything. A just God who created CV19, would also offer us reliable and valid tools to measure its impact.
Salvation for those who can't add up
In addition to quantitative data that is easy to understand, we also have the benefit of qualitative data.
The video coverage and audio/text narratives provided by doctors and nurses in many different countries about their daily experiences should be evidence enough to show that this is not some existing cause of death like malaria. Clearly health professionals in many different countries are overwhelmed in a manner that the common flu does not cause.
Did China lie? But does it matter?
A common refrain from President Trump in late April 2020 has been that the Americans were caught off-guard because the Chinese lied about the nature and extent of the virus. In some ways each of us has been in the same position as the American government. To what extent has the information that has been provided to us been accurate and a reflection of the real situation?
I don't think it matters.
Because it has been easy enough to observe, almost in real time, what the impact has been on peoples' behaviour. People can lie about their opinions and their analysis of reality but they tend to behave in a manner that reflects their true understanding of a situation.
There were enough videos coming out of China about the hospitals being built, the roads being disinfected, the guards at the ground level of apartment blocks restricting who could enter or leave, to tell anyone regardless of cognitive ability that this was a serious virus. This was not flu.
So we did not need to rely on what the Chinese said, all we needed to do was observe what they did.
So you did not need to know the R value of the virus, you did not need to know the difference between different types of mortality rates and so on. All you needed to know were the extreme measures those on the front line were taking because they were terrified and act appropriately.
CV19 forces us to drop misconceptions, ideologies, beliefs and every other artifice that we have created.
It forces us to try and understand nature with the cognitive and analytical skills that we have.
It provides evidence for those who Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the greatest quantitive skills for measuring and understanding what is going on and which will likely be essential for policy making at a global and national level, but at the same time there is enough quantitative evidence that is easy to understand and even qualitative data that no individual need feel unqualified in terms of making the decisions that will help preserve their lives.
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Was Hisham Responsible for the Murder of al-Kadhim?
There exist narrations in our sources which hold Hisham responsible (directly or indirectly) for the murder of al-Kadhim عليه السلام by the Abbasid authorities. He stands accused of continuing to engage in public debate despite an explicit order from the Imam for him to refrain from doing that. He went on making waves in Baghdad such that the authorities took notice of the Shia and extended their talons towards the Imam.
علي بن محمد قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ايت هشام بن الحكم فقل له: يقول لك أبو الحسن: أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم فإذا قال لا فقل له: ما بالك شركت في دمي؟
- Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Go to Hisham b. al-Hakam and say to him: Abu al-Hasan says to you: Are you pleased that you take part (have a role) in the murder of a Muslim man? If he says ‘No’ then say to him: Why do you take part in my murder?
More detail about this delegation of Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to Hisham is provided in the report below:
جعفر بن معروف قال: حدثني الحسن بن النعمان، عن أبي يحيى وهو إسماعيل بن زياد الواسطي، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: سمعته يؤدي إلى هشام بن الحكم رسالة أبي الحسن عليه السلام قال: لا تتكلم فإنه قد أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم، قال: فما بال هشام يتكلم وأنا لا أتكلم، قال: أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم وأنا رسوله إليك. قال أبو يحيى: أمسك هشام بن الحكم عن الكلام شهرا لم يتكلم ثم تكلم فأتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: سبحان الله يا أبا محمد تكلمت وقد نهيت عن الكلام! قال: مثلي لا ينهى عن الكلام. قال أبو يحيى: فلما كان من قابل، أتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: يا هشام قال لك أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم؟ قال: لا، قال: وكيف تشرك في دمي، فان سكت والا فهو الذبح؟ فما سكت حتى كان من أمره ما كان صلى الله عليه
- Ja’far b. Ma’ruf – al-Hasan b. al-Nu’man – Abi Yahya (Ismail b. Ziyad al-Wasiti) – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj. He (Abi Yahya) said: I heard him (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) relaying to Hisham b. al-Hakam the message of Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام saying: Do not speak - for he (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain from speaking. He (Hisham) said: Why should Hisham (b. Salim) speak but I should refrain?! He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) said: He (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain and I am his messenger to you.
- Abu Yahya said: Hisham b. al-Hakam abstained from speaking for a month then resumed again. Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him and said to him: Glory be to Allah! O Aba Muhammad - You engage in theological disputations while you have been forbidden from it! He (Hisham) said: the likes of me cannot be forbidden to speak!
- Abu Yahya said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him after a year and said to him: O Hisham - he (the Imam) says to you: Are you pleased to participate in the murder of a believing man? He (Hisham) said: No. He (the Imam) says: then how come you are participating in my murder! For if you are to remain silent (murder can be avoided) but if not then it will be slaughter
- (Abu Yahya comments:) but he did not refrain until it happened to him (the Imam) what happened!
Even Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام is quoted as holding Hisham squarely responsible in the murder of his father:
محمد بن نصير قال: حدثني أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسين ابن سعيد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: أما كان لكم في أبي الحسن عليه السلام عظة ما ترى حال هشام بن الحكم؟ فهو الذي صنع بأبي الحسن ما صنع وقال لهم وأخبرهم، أترى الله يغفر له ما ركب منا
- Muhammad b. Nusayr – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Ahmad b. Muhammad (b. Abi Nasr) – Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: Is there not for you in (the case of) Abi al-Hasan (al-Kadhim) a warning! What do you think is the state of Hisham b. al-Hakam? For he is the one who did to Abi al-Hasan what he did, and he informed them and divulged to them (the secrets of the Madhhab). Do you think Allah will forgive him what he has perpetrated on us!
It is clear that this accusation levied against Hisham became widespread and needed a response from the pro-Hisham camp. Let us look at what Yunus (the principal exponent of Hisham's school) has preserved for us when he confronted his master directly about it.
حدثني حمدويه، قال حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام أصحابك يحكون أن أبا الحسن عليه السلام سرح إليك مع عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج أن أمسك عن الكلام و إلى هشام بن سالم قال: أتاني عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و قال لي يقول لك أبو الحسن عليه السلام أمسك عن الكلام هذه الأيام، و كان المهدي قد صنف له مقالات الناس و فيه مقالة الجواليقية هشام بن سالم، و قرأ ذلك الكتاب في الشرقية و لم يذكر كلام هشام، و زعم يونس أن هشام بن الحكم قال له: فأمسكت عن الكلام أصلا حتى مات المهدي، و إنما قال لي هذه الأيام فأمسك حتى مات المهدي
- Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham - Your companions (fellow Shia) relate that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام sent (a message) to you via Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj saying ‘stop speaking’ and also (the same message) to Hisham b. Salim.
- Hisham said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to me and said to me: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام says to you: Stop speaking in these days. For it was authored for al-Mahdi (the Abbasid Caliph) (a treatise which contained) the different theological stances of the people. In it was the stance of the Jawaliqiyya (followers of) Hisham b. Salim. That treatise was read in the Sharqiyya (Eastern quarter) and it did not mention the stance of Hisham (b. al-Hakam).
- Yunus asserted that Hisham b. al-Hakam said to him ‘I stopped speaking totally until al-Mahdi died, for he (the Imam) had said to me ‘these days’.
- Thus he stopped until al-Mahdi died.
More detail about what Hisham said to Yunus in his defense is available in the report below:
وحدثني محمد بن مسعود العياشي قال: حدثنا جبريل بن أحمد الفاريابي، قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام انهم يزعمون أن أبا الحسن عليه السلام بعث إليك عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج يأمرك أن تسكت ولا تتكلم، فابيت أن تقبل رسالته، فأخبرني كيف كان سبب هذا؟ وهل أرسل إليك ينهاك عن الكلام أولا؟ وهل تكلمت بعد نهيه إياك؟ فقال هشام: انه لما كان أيام المهدي شدد على أصحاب الاهواء، وكتب له ابن المفضل صنوف الفرق صنفا صنفا، ثم قرأ الكتاب على الناس، فقال يونس: قد سمعت هذا الكتاب يقرأ على الناس على باب الذهب بالمدينة، ومرة أخرى بمدينة الوضاح. فقال ان ابن المفضل صنف لهم صنوف الفرق فرقة فرقة، حتى قال في كتابه: وفرقة منهم يقال لهم الزرارية، وفرقة منهم يقال لهم العمارية أصحاب عمار الساباطي، وفرقة يقال لها اليعفورية، ومنهم فرقة اصحاب سليمان الاقطع، وفرقة يقال لها الجواليقية. قال يونس: ولم يذكر يومئذ هشام بن الحكم ولا أصحابه، فزعم هشام ليونس ان أبا الحسن عليه السلام بعث اليه فقال له: كف هذه الايام عن الكلام فان الامر شديد، قال هشام: فكففت عن الكلام حتى مات المهدي وسكن الامر، فهذا الذي كان من أمره وانتهائي الى قوله
- Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Jibril b. Ahmad al-Fariyabi – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham: They claim that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام sent Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to you ordering you to keep silent and not to speak (in defense of the Madhhab) but you refused to accept his message to you. Inform me what was the reason for this? and did he really send to you prohibiting you from speaking or not? and did you speak after his prohibition?
- Hisham said: Back in the days of al-Mahdi - he (the Caliph) severely restricted those he considered heterodox. Ibn al-Mufadhal wrote for him a treatise outlining all the different sects one after the other, this treatise was then read to the people.
- Yunus said: I heard this treatise being read to the people at the Golden Gate in the city (Baghdad) and also another time in the town of Wadhah.
- Hisham continued: Ibn al-Mufadhal authored for them (the authorities) the classification of all sects one after the other, such that he even said in his treatise ‘a sect among them called Zurariyya, a sect among them called Ammariyya the companions of Ammar al-Sabati, a sect called Ya’furiyya, a sect consisting of the companions of Sulayman al-Aqta, and a sect called the Jawaliqiyya’. Yunus said: He (Ibn al-Mufadhal) did not name Hisham b. al-Hakam or his companions at that time.
- Hisham asserted to Yunus that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام had sent to him a message saying ‘abstain from speaking in these days for the matter is serious’.
- Hisham said: I stopped speaking until al-Mahdi died and the matter became settled, this then is what he had ordered me to do and my abiding with his command.
This is a very important report because it gives us a glimpse of the socio-historical context of the time, the prevalent need for Taqiyya, the names of the most important companions of the Imams and their ‘Madhhabs’ (which as has been clarified are not really ‘sects’ in the traditional sense). It shows us that the Imami community was vibrantly engaged in theological argumentation such that they came under the radar of the authorities of the day.
To Blame or not to blame
Returning back to the all-important question - did Hisham have a role in al-Kadhim’s death? There certainly was a historical memory among some in the community that held him responsible. The fact that Hisham gained infamy as a Shi’i debater with a combative style must have attracted a lot of attention towards the Shia.
However, the more specific information given by Hisham himself seems to vindicate him. He interpreted the Imam’s instruction as a temporary order and obeyed it by abstaining from ‘speaking’ for a certain time during al-Mahdi’s Caliphate before resuming.
In any case, the fact that the Imam al-Kadhim was murdered in Harun al-Rashid’s time and the role of Muhammad b. Ismail b. Ja’far (al-Kadhim’s nephew) is more suggestive.
It is no surprise to find that the Yaqtin family, specifically the Ubaydi brothers, who were also members of Hisham and Yunus’s school, supporting him against this charge as the report below indicates:
و حدثني حمدويه بن نصير قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، قال حدثني جعفر بن عيسى قال: قال موسى الرقي لأبي الحسن الثاني عليه السلام: جعلت فداك روى عنك المشرقي و أبو الأسد أنهما سألاك عن هشام بن الحكم فقلت ضال مضل شرك في دم أبي الحسن عليه السلام فما تقول فيه يا سيدي نتولاه؟ قال نعم. فأعاد عليه نتولاه على جهة الاستقطاع قال نعم تولوه نعم تولوه، إذا قلت لك فاعمل به و لا تريد أن تغالب به، اخرج الآن فقل لهم قد أمرني بولاية هشام بن الحكم، فقال الرقي لنا بين يديه و هو يسمع ألم أخبركم أن هذا رأيه في هشام بن الحكم غير مرة
- Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Ja’far b. Isa who said: Musa al-Raqqi said to Abi al-Hasan the Second (al-Ridha) عليه السلام: May I be made your ransom - al-Mashriqi and Abu al-Asad relate from you that they had asked you about Hisham b. al-Hakam so you said: “Misguided and Misguiding others. He participated in the murder of Abi al-Hasan”. So what do you say about him O My Master - should we associate with him? He said: Yes. He (Musa) repeated the same question aiming to obtain certainty - ‘should we associate with him?’ He said: Yes. Associate with him. Associate with him. If I tell you something then abide by it and do not seek to overturn it. Go out now and say to them (those assembled): He has ordered me to associate with Hisham b. al-Hakam.
- Al-Raqqi said to us in in front of him (the Imam) while he (the Imam) was listening: Did I not inform you that this (i.e. approval) was his opinion of Hisham b. al-Hakam - more than once!?
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Original post: https://www.iqraonline.net/dialogue-with-believers/
An epidemic harming our communities is the general inability, hesitance & fear of engaging in dialogue with one another. In fact, in recent years, it appears there has been a significant increase in our communities engaging and initiating inter-faith dialogue, yet we do not see this phenomenon within our own communities. This is while we need such initiatives perhaps even much more so than inter-faith. We lack the ethics and etiquette of engaging in dialogue with other believers and this naturally weakens, distances and breaks up our communities on various fronts. This is of utmost concern particularly for the diaspora that is already in a vulnerable position – and things do not seem to be getting any better. Dialogue is not simply “speaking” – speaking is not the issue, in fact, many of us speak and have a lot to say, and our pulpits are occupied all year long with trained scholars, untrained lecturers and academics speaking.
A dialogue will generally have these three elements:
1) Two or more people
2) A subject of dispute or a subject that needs clarification
3) An expectation that the result of dialogue will either be in favour of you and/or the other party, or not (depending on the conclusion).
When dialogue does not take place, the results we observe are usually the belittlement of others, insults, accusations and rumours, swearing, and in fact, a lack of dialogue can even lead to physical confrontations, wars and bloodshed. These are of course all horrible consequences, particularly when the victims are no other than our selves. These consequences show that the subject of dispute was not resolved or there was no capacity to engage in a dialogue to begin with.
Why do we not engage in dialogue amongst ourselves? Are those who we disagree with amongst the believers so off the mark that we need to maintain a position against them like we should do with those who are genuine enemies of our belief? This is most often not the case at all and only in extremely exceptional circumstances do we have to encounter such groups of people – at which point it would be difficult to even classify them as believers. In the Treatise of Rights, Imam Sajjad (a) says that people of your creed enjoy the following rights over you:
The right of the people of your creed is harbouring safety for them, compassion toward them, kindness toward their wrong-doer, treating them with friendliness, seeking their well-being, thanking their good-doer, and keeping harm away from them. You should love for them what you love for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself. Their old men stand in the place of your father, their youths in the place of your brothers, their old women in the place of your mother, and their young ones in the place of your children.
Neglecting dialogue over matters of contention, more often than not, results in the trampling of some or all of these rights. So what prevents us from engaging in dialogue? Perhaps one or more of the following preliminaries required for dialogue do not exist:
1. The need to recognize other believers as noble creations of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Verse [17:70] says Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the children of Adam nobility and honour. In some of our communities, we see believers giving a lot of respect to Sayyids and this is not for any reason except for the fact that they are connected to the Prophet (p) through a chain of many generations. However, it behooves us to realize that we (and creation as a whole) are connected to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) directly (or as per certain schools of philosophy, we are the very connection itself). Looking at another believer through the lens of dishonour and painting them as ignoble will not lead us anywhere and signifies a much greater spiritual problem.
2. Acknowledging that humans are different from certain aspects – gender, ethnicities, tribes, physical and spiritual capacities, affinities, tastes etc. We have two types of Sunnah (pl. Sunan) – the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Sunnah of Allah. The Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) are divided into two: there are some Sunan that only become applicable when humans bring them upon themselves through their free-will; for example, the increased bestowal of guidance once we have wilfully chosen to come into Islam -
[47:17] As for those who are [rightly] guided, He enhances their guidance.
[19:76] Allah enhances in guidance those who are [rightly] guided.
There are some Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that are absolute, not conditioned to the free-will of man. One of these Sunan is His creating us different. These differences are one of the necessary conditions for trial and tribulation to have any meaning in this world.
[5:48] …and had Allah wished He would have made you one community, but [His purposes required] that He should test you in respect to what He has given you…
[6:165] It is He who has made you successors on the Earth, and raised some of you in rank above others so that He may test you in respect to what He has given you.
As such, it is normal that even within the same worldview, there will be times people reach different conclusions and do things differently. Acknowledging this opens the door to considering certain points of contention worthy of engagement. On the contrary, allowing these contentions to break us apart may very well be a sign that the believers are failing in their trials.
3. The lack of desire to engage in Ṣulḥ - to reach a conciliation and compromise. Ṣulḥ is often discussed in the context of resolving personal disputes and ironing out details of settlements, or as a treaty for halting warfare. But the general principles of Ṣulḥ can also be used to resolve larger community disputes – as was common in the Muslim world in the past and continues to be the case in many rural places. However, this generic understanding of Ṣulḥ only works if parties involved have a desire to discuss their disputes in a sincere manner (the details and mechanisms of Ṣulḥ have been discussed in detail in their appropriate places). One should not see the mere existence of differences as necessarily going against the command of holding on to the rope of Allah [3:103] - these two are reconcilable on many occasions as the scholars have mentioned. The absence of Ṣulḥ breaks and fragments the communities of the believers.
4. Reality is too vast and not all of it is in our hands. At any given point we have only understood certain aspects of it and that as well to a certain degree, not absolute reality –
[17:85] and you have not been given of the knowledge except a little.
We need to acknowledge that there are other perspectives and there is genuine room for these perspectives to be justified within an Islamic framework. The vastness of reality should alone be enough to humble and soften us to engage in dialogue with another party amongst the believers. The delusion of having uncovered all of the truth regarding a certain matter and behaving as if no one else could possibly say anything that would add anything to our knowledge is a deterrent and barrier for dialogue.
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Structure of upcoming posts related to this topic:
What is meant by Akhbarism?
It's inception and continuation
Akhbarism and the onset of Salafism
(Intermission - Some general laws that govern human thought/ideologies)
Akhbarism and the decline of human thought
Akhbarism - ideas and behaviours
Usooli doctrines and the Akhbari reality
Akhbarism and Secterianism
The Quran and Akhbari contradictions
The Narrations and Akhbari contradictions
Akhbarism and the creation of (new) religious rites and rituals
Akhbarism, ‘israeli’ narrations and other fabrications
Akhbarism and the cause of decline of Shi'ism
The Quran confronts the Akhbaris
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Salam, Ya Ali (as) Madad, Lanat upon the enemies of the Ahlulbayt (as)
Aliun Wali Allah Wajib
BAR MUQASSIRREEN LANAT
"How do you see the state of mankind in the 21st century? How do you feel it impacts you as an individual?"
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory where human beings main motivations are arranged in a pyramid structure, as below:
If we start from the bottom, a humans main motivation is base survival - what will one eat, drink, and so on. once this is established, their next motivation changes to safety - how will they maintain their living standards, how will they ensure stability and routine. once this second level has been reached, they then seek life partners. who will they find? who will they produce children with? the penultimate level, once all these have been achieved, is the self esteem layer. this is where one has the luxury to choose how they identify themselves as an individual. the final stage, the pinnacle of this, is "self actualisation". this is when is at the most comfortable stage of their life, where they have the luxury to be able to find how to define their time.
While this theory has its flaws, and there are some things which I do not agree with, I feel that it is a "good enough" way to look at the state of mankind in the 21st Century. I have long held the theory that the Earth is a living organism. If we remember our GCSE Biology, for something to be classed as "Alive" it must adhere to the MRS GREN principles of life:
The Earth certainly moves, as it rotates around its axis, around the sun, and around the centre of our galaxy. it releases energy in millions of ways using oxygen, it is sensitive to stimuli such as climate change, it grew as it formed from dust, and continues to grow on a tiny scale as more space debris is attracted to it. I would argue that it reproduces in the sense that it is always in a state of change and refreshment and cycle, through the seasons, the shifting plates, the recycling of materials. it excretes carbon dioxide from its green organisms and other waste from other places and finally it consumes energy in the sense that it takes all its nutrition from the sun.
I thought to myself - for the purpose of this article and competition, would it be possible to apply Maslow's heirarchy to the planet, as if it were a human being?
how would we define the "physiological needs" of the planet? certainly the most fundamental would be it relies on the heat, light and gravity of the sun for its basic existence. secondly its ozone and atmosphere, and thirdly its water. since these things are in order, we can safely assume that the "physiological" needs of the planet are met, so we can proceed to the next level.
in terms of safety and security, such as homes, employment, property and social stability, I feel that this is not in any way universal. we have areas of extreme wealth (western europe, north america), areas of extreme poverty (multiple conflict zones) and the rest sort of in between. my initial understanding is therefore that if we were to apply Maslows heirarchy to planet earth, it would stall at this level.
for the interests of completeness, however, I will now proceed up the pyramid, to argue my case.
in terms of love and understanding, I doubt that I will even see this or my children. there are simply too many divides between people. within our own shia we are fractured and segregated. within each segment we bicker amongst each other. we cannot say that there is global love and belonging, or even majority love and belonging across the whole being
"self esteem" is something which I have long argued is no different to love and understanding. however as this step is a common view held by psychologists, I will leave my arguments for another time. I believe that the "self esteem" stage is something which can only be done under the leadership of a Masum Imam (as). this is the step where all people are united in brotherhood, friendship, family and social security as well as a desirable level of comfort. I see this as the "after the battles have been won" stage. i believe that this stage is not here yet across the earth
the final stage, the pinnacle, is the stage I believe reserved only for the true shia on earth. the Likes of Salman, Miqdad, Abu Dharr (peace be upon them all). this is where one is so completely dedicated to muwaddat of the Ahlulbayt (as), and living within the framework and system of a truly islamic sharia, that life is exactly how Allah intended.
HOW DO I FEEL THIS IMPACTS ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I am a cell within the greater body. what happens on the large scale happens to me on this small scale, similar to if I become an old man, my cells too will reflect my age. If I am with cancer aodhobillah, my cells will show it. as such, the Earth is still not raised above the lower levels of the heirarchy. I feel that I too cannot reach the higher levels unless humanity as a whole raises itself too. I feel that the impact of this, is that at the moment I am "surviving" when Allah and the Masumeen (as) want me to "thrive". the earth around me is in chaos, so I feel that I need to stop being passive, like a red blood cell, just circulating through the vessels and routes and pathways that others have defined for me, but to become like a white blood cell, independent, crucial to my community. to be defined as existing to protect the whole organism, if the earth can raise its "immunity" through myself, and those like myself, then maybe InshaAllah we can raise the planet to the next level, which might bring us one step closer to the way we were meant to live on this planet.
I know there are pockets of good, and individuals on a whole are generally decent, I know that we are living in a time of rapid scientific discovery and advancement and social improvement. the analogy I could use, to describe how I see the world is that of a human body which is suffering from some great disease. its immunity has been compromised, and it is not far off death. sure, there are individual examples of beauty within it, but these become meaningless if it is dying. it is still not too late to save it. I see that my part is to do as much good as I can, with the time and skills that I have. and blindly hope that others will do the same. then, InshaAllah, the total will become worth more than the sum of its parts.
Thank you for your consideration.
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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.
Link to shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TzahArt
A strong person will overcome an obstacle. A wise person will traverse the whole path. (Sometimes, letting go is a better option than to tackle the problem head on. As they say, care is better than the cure)
A small cottage, wherein laughter lives, is worth more than a palace full of tears. (It's not about how big the house is, it's about how happy the home is. Happiness never comes from having more but being among the ones that cherish you, love you and care about you. Time passes, you lose the things you were once so attached to but the memories remain and so do the people, in our hearts)
Always safeguard peace and quiet. When the time is right, the flowers will bloom. (Patience always brings about good tidings. If you're patient enough, you'll get the best. Learn to wait, because things happen when they're meant to be. Everything has a special time and a special place)
Even idiots have their own foolish form of happiness. (Happiness can be found anywhere. Doesn't matter who you are, if you're willing to look at the positive aspects of life, you'll find happiness in little things)
If you trip and fall, it doesn't necessarily means that you are going in the wrong direction. (Just because you find hurdles in your way, it doesn't mean that you aren't meant for that path. Difficulties always comes for those willing to seek greatness)
If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by. (If you be patient and endure the pain your enemies give you, there will come a time when you will be victorious. Patience is the key to one of the greatness things in the world and the hereafter. Never underestimate the power of patience and Dua'a)
Always look on the bright side of things. If you can't comprehend this, polish that which has dulled until it begins to shine. (Every dark cloud has a silver lining. You may seem hopeless at some point but try to look at the positive side of what has happened. If you can't, look at what the positives the trouble brought you. Remember: There's always balance in the world. When you lose something, you gain something. It may take time for you to see it but the great things always take time. Those things are reborn in a different form and are returned to you when you are ready)
I had the privilege and honor of going to Umrah a few weeks ago. Having completed my hajj in 2010, it was time to pay Hijaz another visit to pay my respects to the Prophet (saw) and his progeny in Madinah and visit the House of Allah in Makkah.
Hopefully the pointers below will help anyone planning on going for Umrah.
First, if you haven't been to Saudi before, it is best to go with a registered group. It will make things easier for you because other than following instructions, there shouldn't be much to worry about..Also, if you don't speak arabic or urdu/hindi/bengali, then it would be better to go with a registered group because language can be an issue in some places.
Anyway, I decided to go with my family instead of a group. The primary hurdle in going to Saudi is getting a visa. These are things to remember:
- We had to apply to a local consulate but individual travelers cannot apply on their own. The visa application has to be submitted through an authorized travel agency.
- Even though the Umrah visa is free, these agencies charge between $175 - $200 per person for visa.
- Also, note that you can only apply within 30 days of going for umrah.
- You need to buy non-refundable return tickets before applying.
- The other mandatory requirement is to get a meningitis vaccination. CVS, Walgreens or RediClinic can do this without a prescription. Without insurance, it will cost between $150-$200. Get the vaccination record from the Pharmacy and submit it with your application.
- Common sense would dictate that you buy your tickets once visa approval is obtained but not in this case.
- Visa application usually takes about 1 week to process...might take longer during busy times.
Next decision is where to fly in/out from. If you decide to go to Makkah first, you will have to fly into Jeddah. Since Jeddah is inside the meeqat***, you will have to wear your ihram from the point of origin. So we chose to fly into Madinah first.
I would recommend either Turkish Airlines or Emirates. We flew Emirates from the US. We had a 5 hour layover in Dubai so we went out of the airport and had a nice dinner. US Citizens do not need a visa for Dubai (UAE).Came back to the airport around 11p for our 105a flight to Medinah.
We arrived in Madinah around 345a, got out of the airport by 445a. Since we were not part of a group, I made arrangements transportation arrangements with or hotel. It took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel right next to Masjid Al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Holy Prophet).
We stayed at Hotel Pullman Zamzam Madinah. Fantastic 5* hotel with great rooms and awesome breakfast. The only downside to the hotel is that it is on the opposite end of the Ladies entrance to the mosque so it took the ladies about 15 minutes to walk to the mosque. The hotel did provide a shuttle service for women at regular intervals.
After checking-in, we took a quick shower and made our way to the Mosque just in time for Fajr - individual, not jama'ah.
After every salah every day, the Saudis open Jana'at Al-Baqi for an hour or so. Much to my surprise, the Saudis were fairly relaxed in letting people get in, recite dua/ziarat albeit quietly and even take pictures.
Imam Hasan (as), Imam Sajjad (as), Imam Al-Baqar and Imam Al-Sadiq are buried here.
If I am not mistaken, I think Hz Umm-al-baneen is buried where I have drawn the red circle:
Went back to our hotel around 7am. We ate breakfast and finally went to bed after a 24 hours journey.
We woke up around 3pm and went to the Prophet's mosque for zuhrain. We prayed some other prayers so got back to the hotel around 430p. We rested a bit more and then made our way back to the mosque for maghribain around 7p. Once again, we stayed there for around 2 hours and then had dinner and then back to the hotel.
We are recommended to pray full zuhr/asr/isha in Medinah.
After taking an early night, we headed to the Prophet's mosque around 2am where we prayed salat-e-layl and other prayers. Returned to our hotel just after fajr. Our schedule for the rest of the day was the same as the previous day. However, there are other ziarats in Madinah one can visit:
- Masjid al-Shams
- Masjid al-Zul Qibltayn
- Masjid al-Quba
- The Saba Saba Masjids
- Masjid al-Fatah
- Masjid Salman al-Farsi
- Masjid al-Ali A.S.
- Masjid al-Bidi Fatimah Zehra A.S.
- Ohud – Hazrat Hamza A.S.
I stayed in the Prophet's mosque from 130am - fajr. I had the honor to pray salat-e-layl in Riyad-al-Jannah (Piece of heaven) - it is adjacent to the Prophet's grave. After salah, I went to Jana'at-al-Baqi for Ziarah al-wida (Farewell ziarah).
We rested for a couple of hours, had breakfast and then made preparations to head to Makkah for Umrah.
The main thing required is to perform a ghusl with the niyyah (intention) Niyyat: “I am doing Ghusl for the following for wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Sunnat Qurbatan Ilallah”. You cannot use scented soap when doing this Ghusl.
The next step is to wear the ihram. Ihram for men - consists of two pieces of white cloth and for ladies their usual daily wear is their Ihram, but it is highly recommended that it be white as it is the sign of purity.
Please not that even though one is wearing the ihram, the niyyah for Ihram is done later.
We bought our ihram in Medinah for about $20 (60-75 Saudi Rial).
We checked out of our hotel to make our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. I made transportation arrangements while in Medinah. It cost just under $200 for a personal mini-van.
We stopped at Ohud for 15-20 minutes for a quick ziarah of Hz Hamzah's grave.
Then we made our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. This is a designated point of wearing ihram per sharia. There are 6 other places as well in different parts of Saudi.
If you are already wearing ihram, you can take off the top portion and put it on again and make the niyyah (intention):
“I am wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Illallah”. Immediately after making the niyya, recite the talbiya (calling) in arabic:
Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik,
Labbaik La Sharika Laka Labbaik,
Innal Hamda WanNe’amata Laka Walmuka
La Sharika Laka Labbaik
This is to be recited as many times as possible until you reach the vicinity of Makkah.
After wearing the ihram and reciting talbiya, proceed to the inside of the Mosque and recite 2 rakat salat with the niyyah, "Offering 2 rakat salah for wearing ihram qurbatanillah".
Once you adorn the ihram and make the niyyah, there are about 25 things that become haraam upon a person.
Once we completed our prayers, we made our way towards Makkah, reciting talbiya as much as we could.
One thing to note is that in Shia fiqh, men ar enot allowed to travel under shade during the day while in ihram.so it is advisable to plan your journey such that you arrive in Masjid-e-Shajarah around maghrib. If traveling during hte day, then there is a kafarah (penalty) of 1 sheep.
We made a couple of stops on our way to Makkah which was about a 5 hour drive (430km or 250m)
Day Three - Arrival in Makkah:
We arrived in Makkah around 5pm. Since we had already prayed zuharain en route, we decided to rest a bit in our hotel. We woke up, did ghusl made our way to the Holy Kaaba around 730p. One has to be in wudu (or ghusl) for tawaf.
We prayed maghrib and isha and then started our umrah. These are the steps for umrah:
1) Perform tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba 7 times. The niyyah (intention) is:
I am going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah.
Since the masjid has several floors, it is important to remember that we can do tawaf on any floor as long as your height is below the top of the kaaba.
2) Upon completion of tawag, recite 2 rakat salat-e-tawaf behind the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Ibrahim) - recited just like fajr
I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf of Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
3) Perform Sa'ae (wudu not necessary). This is where you walk from Safa'a to Marwa 7 times (about 3.5km in total). Niyyah (intention) is:
I walk between Safaa and Marwah, seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
Going from Safa'a --> marwa = 1
Marwa --> Safa'a = 2
Safa'a --> marwa = 3
Marwa --> Safa'a = 4
Safa'a --> marwa = 5
Marwa --> Safa'a = 6
Safa'a --> marwa = 7
So you start at Safa'a and end at Marwa.
4) Once Sa'ae is over, the next step is taqseer (cuting part of mails of hair). Niyyah is:
I am performing Taqseer so as to be relieved of Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
It is best to do the 4 steps without too much of a break in between them. At this point, you can take a break and even take of your ihram.
5) Whether you take a break or not, the next step is to perform tawaf-e-Nisa. Everyone has to do this - young/old, man/woman, married/unmarried, etc.). Niyyah is:
I am doing Tawaaf-un-Nissa by going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
6) Last step is to perform salat tawaf-e-Nisa. Niyyah is:
I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf-un-Nissa for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
The entire umrah took about 2 - 2.5 hours to complete.
This is the completion of the umrah.
After completing our umrah, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.
We went to the Kaaba about 2 hours before fajr to perform Sunnah tawaf (each tawaf is 7 rounds). After each tawaf, reciting salat-e-tawaf is obligatory. You can make the intention of perfomr tawaf for others alive or deceased. This day was spent between our hotel and performing salah+tawaf throughout the day. There are other ziarah to be performed in makkah:
- Hajr al-Ismail
- Makaam al-Ibrahim
- Zam Zam
- Hills of Safa and Marwa
- Janab al-Khadijatul Kubra
- Janab al-Abu Talib
- Janab al-Abdul Mutalib
- Hazrat Abdullah
- Hazrat Amina Bint al-Wahab
- Masjid al-Jinn
- Cave of Thawr
- Cave of Hira
- Jabal al-Rahmah
- Muzdhalifa or Ma’shar
- Masjid al-Kheef - In Munna
We were able to perform the green ones above. We also had the opportunity to pray salat in the hateem which is not always open. We were able to touch the kaaba several times including rukn-e-Yemeni (corner from where Hz Fatima bint Assad went inside the kaaba to deliver Hz Ali (as).
Pic in hateem under the kaaba
Cloth of the kaaba - it is actually pieces of cloth sewn together instead of a very large piece of cloth.
We performed our final prayers and then checked out of our hotel to go to Jeddah airport. We flew from Jeddah --> Dubai and stayed there overnight, then flew back to the US.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Saudis were pretty lenient this time.People were free to pray and take pictures as they wanted...for the most part. I would recommend taking salah, dua and ziarah information on your phones rather than books.
I will also try to upload the guidebook I used for most of the trip.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I tried to cover the most important aspects of umrah.
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?
As some of you know I'm a christian who converted and still living in a christian household practicing my religion in secrecy. Before i discovered islam and before i committed I used to camp in nature and i have this photography hobby. This year i decided to tell my parents i'm going camping in the nature in our country for 6 days and in this way i managed to travel to iraq.
We went me and my friend alone, we had people there in iraq who were having us as guests. The moment we went to the airport the struggling begun, we missed our plane which was in the morning, we waited the whole day for available seats but it was way too crowded. On that day, the last plane had 4 overbooked seats, basically they sold them seats which didn't exist, so Alhamdulillah they fixed us with them, we went from Lebanon to Turkey and from turkey to Najaf, we arrived to najaf at 3 am in the morning without sleep. This was on wednesday and the arbaeen is on friday.
We took a cab to visit imam ali, there was a point where the taxi couldn't go further, so he dropped us and i literally started running with my bag i couldn't believe i'm miles away of My Imam. When i reached it was so overwhelming, WHAT A MYSTERY HE IS! I felt powerful that he is my leader i felt like he's right there looking at me i literally felt his presence i felt the utmost sympathy which was coming from him it felt as if i'm visiting my guardian, my protector. It was very strange and pleasant.
We couldn't stay more, so we went to the house where we were staying at, we ate and we started walking from imam ali's makam to the first pole. I reached the first pole and started feeling the weakness of my body. It is worth to mention here that I'm athletic, I run since almost 4 years everyday and i do some very intense workouts (interval training, lactic acid training, fartlek training, etc). But walking is nothing like running.
First of all No one told me how much it was hard to finish the 100km walk. No one told me i should get some doaa to listen to quran perhaps or latmiyat or whatever else, and all people told me it's very nice it's fun you feel the spirituality, etc... So i went there having this mentality, i wasn't mentally prepared for it. I hit the 200 pole and i seriously started questioning if i can continue or not. I called friends who reached to 950 pole and they started insisting on me that i should take a taxi and go to them. This was at maghreb prayer after 6 hours walking. After they called me several times telling me to come i started thinking if this was my case then what was the case of sayeda zeinab or roukaya or soukayna and the whole household of ahlulbayt?! The thought of me not being able to finish it ached my heart and it made me cry. I rested, my friend told me that she will carry my bag to help me and with the grace of God i started walking. With all the psychological and physical pain, suffering, sleeplessness, shivering (due to the hectic situation), swallowed feet, empty stomach, burning feet, cramps, i reached at 12.30 am to 634 pole. The thing that didn't help was the pace of my friend she was always 10-20 meters ahead of me, so there was no talking or conversations to help me forget about the pain. But she really helped by carrying my bag. So we slept at 1.30 am till 3.30 am the noise and all the snoring didn't help much. We prayed i slept 2 hours after that then continued to walk. The second day i was falling asleep when i was walking, i started having the flu with the fever and when i rested for few minutes I'd fall asleep on the chair. Nevertheless, We continued and we finished with couple of km left which i finished the second day because there were a big number of crowd, more than any other year and i didn't have the energy anymore to withstand all this crowd and walk among them.
We reached the shrines of imam hussein and aba l fadel on saturday in the afternoon, we waited for couple of hours but it was all worth it, you can't exactly feel a lot of spirituality because you can't sit and focus your thoughts and get your head together. Everything was so quick. And if you want to sit for example pray talk to the imam someone comes and hits you.
Of course there is special energy at every makam, you feel something different, for example when i reached the shrine of imam hussein i couldn't believe that i'm standing in front of the one and only man who's earth and skies are created due to his sacrifice. That we exist due to his sacrifice, everything we are everything we have is from Ashura.
The rest of the trip took it's flow, other things happened but alhamulillah we managed everything in the end.
"الأجر على قدر المشقة" It means you get rewarded as much as you tolerate pain and hardships.
When i came back home, I accidentally forgot my ticket in the bag so when mom was removing the clothes to wash them she saw the ticket of course she snapped but she didn't tell my father or else he would have kicked me out of the house, it is the one and only time she didn't mention anything, because before that when she sensed that i was fasting or doing things related to religion she told my dad right away, but this time she couldn't. Everyone of us is protected by the imam of our time, he handles our matters all the time.
I hope this was an inspiration to the readers and i hope everyone will experience this zyara, because after my personal experience i realized that the walk part is very essential for our Akida (creed), it is a kind of training.
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.
Most of you must be aware of the recent $350 billion weapons deal between saudi and trump, out of which deals worth $110 billions will be with immediate effect.
As expected the military-industrial-complex(hereafter referred to as MIC)-owned most of the mainstream media is jubilant.
In the words of trump-
"Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs."
Disclaimer- Trump, like almost all US presidents is merely a puppet, with more strings than an actual puppet. So I dont consider him to be very relevant. But the statement shows what the MIC wants the people to focus on.
The whole exercise is nothing but a continuation of the US-Saudi policy of transferring the wealth from West Asia to the West in return for maintaining the saudi kingdom in its supposedly dominating position.
Hejaz- The residence of the faithful
Hejaz was supposed to be a place of refuge. It holds much more religious significance for the muslims than it has political significance for the MIC, the Saudis and their ilk.
It was, and still is, supposed to be a place where any muslim from across the world can come and start living. And settle, if they wish to do so. This CANNOT HAVE BEEN RESTRICTED.
Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and all the other religious places belong to the muslims and cannot be at the whims and fancies of some clan.
The natural wealth, too, in and around these areas are to belong to all the muslims. The rulers are supposed to be the custodians, not owners, as is currently the case. At the most, they can take what they need and not what they want.
The trillions of dollars that they have extracted and squandered is wealth belonging to all the muslims who were driven out of these holy lands, who wished to settle there, but cannot due to the restrictions in place and the poor and the needy and the other deserving muslims across the world, who need to be bailed out.
One can object that since Saudi Arabia is an "independent" country, they can run their affairs as they wish. They can spend and squander as they wish. They can purchase $10 trillions worth of weapons. They can completely stop immigrants. And they can throw out the shias and the non-compliant sunnis if they wish. They can dole out the crumbs to the Africans Muslims to fight their wars in Yemen and other places.
My point is, Hejaz was never supposed to be a normal, usual, like any other country. It is a place with utmost religious significance for the muslims and the People of the book. It should have been a place of refuge for the poor and those driven out. A place for those looking for spiritual emancipation. For the ones looking who wished to visit the various houses of the towering figures islam- the Ahlul bayt and the righteous Sahaba. The center which redistributed wealth from the rich muslims to the poor.
And not be the extractor of muslim wealth and squanderer of haq of the muslims. Not to help bolster one of the most evil and hardcore anti-islamic forces, the whole gamut of the MIC, including its dutiful media. Not to support of the unjust system of the petro-dollar hegemony. Not to bribe the poor and malnourished nations with money to fight their wars against other weak nations.
Conclusion- The transfer of the haq of poor, needy and the deserving muslims and the money which otherwise could have been used to develop islamic cities, give citizenship to the refugees and any other muslim for that matter, create more STEM graduates among the muslims and the others and so on, is being used for an utter devastating effect. It is totally unfortunate, I and, i am sure that all the informed and religious muslims, are completely opposed to this initiative and wish that circumstances occur which will kill this deal.
PS- The old timers will remember that in 2010, a weapons deal worth $60 billion was signed between the MIC spokesman Obama and the Saudis. It was a huge news back then and a great PR challenge for the MIC mouthpieces. So they focused on the 'iranian threat'. Now they have a buffoon as a president. They want to use it as an advantage. They want the people to think- He is a buffoon, so he does not know what he is doing, cant blame him, there is no one to blame and no need to do so. Focus on jobs, people (happy face).
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Obelisks were prominent in the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrance of temples. The word "obelisk" as used in English today is of Greek rather than Egyptian origin because Herodotus, the Greek traveller, was one of the first classical writers to describe the objects. A number of ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus the "Unfinished Obelisk" found partly hewn from its quarry at Aswan. These obelisks are now dispersed around the world, and fewer than half of them remain in Egypt.
What are these Obelisks and why are they everywhere?
Almost every city I have been to has one, some sources say that this is the symbol of Freemasons presence in the city. Others say that this is a satanic symbol, representing a phallic symbol of Satan.
We know for sure as Muslims this shape represents satan because this is the pillar we stone in Hajj, or at least we used to..
These Obelisks used to represent satan and we muslims would throw pebbles at it as part of hajj.
They are no longer there. The Saudi Arabian authority has removed them and replaced them with walls.
They did this without the consent of anyone. What right did they have to demolish the original obelisks and replace them with walls.
So why are there Obelisks all over the world?
This is just another conspiracy theory.... But don't you think it has any substance to it?
In the very least if it does not, are we not supposed to question Saudi Arabia's decision in replacing it with a wall rendering the throwing of the jamarat useless in my opinion. It is as if they are protecting satan.
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.
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لالالالایی گل داوودی
عموی خوبت میاد به زودی
لالالالایی گل آلاله
طفل شش ماهَم چقدر بیحاله
لالالایی گل ارکیده
دستای عمو چرا بریده؟!
لالالالایی گل اطلسی
دلم گرفته از این بی کسی
لالالالایی گل نیلوفر
گل زیبایم چرا شد پرپر؟!
لالالالایی گل پیچکم
چشماشو بسته طفل کوچکم
لالالالایی گل نسرینم
بدون تو من خیلی غمگینم
لالا کن لالا ای گل صحرا
چطور سر کنم بی تو امشب را؟!
لالا کن لالا, عزیزم حالا
با اون دو بالِت, میری اون بالا
برو فرشته! جات تو بهشته
برو نازنین! این دنیا زشته
لالا کن لالا, فرزند خورشید
زیبا خورشیدی که خوش درخشید
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:
- Weight: 91kg
- 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
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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