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    • Wasalaam, Yeah this is the area I’m not very knowledgeable about haha  my mother told me this and I thought wow it makes more sense than humans making pyramids! She didn’t give me much detail. She did the Asian thing and said a part of the story and then continued it years later lol leaving it to me to put it together and remember. It’s a head scratcher  And I have little liking for the occult (just a little bit >.<) only in video games, you learn a lot actually. Like One game Shadow hearts(my fav rpg). It’s how I found out that prophet soloman is famous for controlling 72 ‘demons’ although we know they’re jinns i just thought it was pretty neat yeah I’m the type who believes somebody 100% they trust. So I trust everything my mother says lol i agree they help us out but we do have some level of ‘ manipulation’ I guess? They’re weaker than us, not physically maybe more mentally  I think not like modern day Jews, they’re still some Jews who will convert when the imam will come, those guys follow original Judaism and practice like we do. They’re prayers are like us and they have almost the same set of beliefs. They’re are some very good people of the book who follow the original word. I think anyway, it’s interesting and I want to learn more 
    • Salam Quran reffers that after prophet Solomon (as) they tried to learn magic from them also they started praying them & in most occasions they pray Satan & jinns & in return they receive  a little help from them but they don't use them  , it's only Ahlulbay (as) & people that have authority from them can use them as slaves not Jews.
    • Jinns man jinns they used to be our slaves  we worked them raw  One example of Jinns being used to create fantastic sites, Prophet Soloman(as)  they have extradoniary strength but ultimately humans are masters over them... those who practice occult behavior such as some Jews can still use Jinns for their works 
    • Oh the good old days of statistics. I still have nightmares. Definitely one of my most hated classes ive already forgotten all the p,f,z,t the whole friggin alphabet tests god was it annoying lol
    • Anecdote here- ive had a lot stomach problems and have quite the sensitive stomach smaller plates and eating the plate longer or taking my time and eating as I’m hungry have helped me a lot. Can’t say much for long term weight loss, I lost the initial like 10lbs over a period which may be water weight or whatever. Eating less helps with cravings and feeling full longer becuase you force your body to work on that little bit. Which may be all you need but that depends on your body weight or and lifestyle. May not work for others  like I don’t lose weight no matter how much I fast or don’t eat at all. I don’t lose anything t-t lol well I really only eat junk food XD so eating healthy is the key on the other hand if I’m reeeaaallly hungry and can’t eat or have nothing to eat I just watch some mukbangs, or daydream about food all day...until they close...and it’s too late to eat lol
    • http://en.abna24.com/news//iranian-turkish-officials-discuss-cooperation-in-hajj-affairs_919035.html
    • @Gaius I. Caesar - salaam brother. As promised.

Imamology

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Anything and everything related to Islam's intellectual and literary tradition.

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Qa'im

The Four Elements

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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.

Qa'im

Respect Words

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We often mumble, curse, use slang words, and say anything that comes to mind, but Allah and His Messenger continuously gave words their needed reverence.

The Quran starts with the command to read (iqra'). Allah could have revealed the teachings of Islam directly to our minds, but instead, He chose to present these teachings in the form of speech and written word.

Allah brought about the creation with the word "be!"

When Allah created Adam, He taught him all of the names (2:31), and Adam thereafter taught the names to the angels. Allah distinguishes humans with their ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings (55:3-4). While some animals share some characteristics with humans, nothing can be compared to the complexity of human speech.

When Moses became a prophet, he first prayed for the ability to speak clearly (20:25-28), and Allah granted that to him so that he may succeed in his mission. Allah's favour on Moses was that He spoke directly to him.

Lady Mary vowed to fast from words (19:26), yet we feel comfortable running our mouths all the time.

The Messenger of Allah (s) said that he had been commissioned with "succinct language" (جوامع الكلم); expressions that are comprehensive yet condensed, designed to deliver full meanings with few words. As a Prophet with a weighty assignment, he made sure that his words were unambiguous and direct, yet eloquent and nuanced at the same time.

Imam `Ali [a] said to his scribe, "Put cotton flake in the inkpot, keep the nib of your pen long, leave space between lines, and close up the letters, because this is good for the beauty of the writing."  315. وَ قَالَ عليه السلامة لِكَاتِبِهِ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِى رَافِعٍ: أَلِقْ دَوَاتَكَ وَ أَطِلْ جِلْفَةَ قَلَمِكَ وَ فَرِّجْ بَيْنَ السُّطُورِ وَ قَرْمِطْ بَيْنَ الْحُرُوفِ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَجْدَرُ بِصَبَاحَةِ الْخَطِّ .   

Imam Ja`far [a] said, "Write 'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful' with your finest handwriting, and do not extend the ba', so that the seen may be lifted." Meaning, make the seen visible, and do not extend the ba' to the meem as done in shorthand. اكتب بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم من أجود كتابك ولا تمد الباء حتى ترفع السين

Imam Ja`far also said, "Express our words clearly, for we are an eloquent people." أعربوا كلامنا فإنا قوم فصحاء


Words constitute the shahada, words constitute salat, and words constitute du`a'.

Since Allah has honoured the spoken word, it's time that we do the same:

Think before you speak.
Speak the truth.
Maintain your promises.
Practice silence.

Keep the tasbeehat and salawat on your tongue.
Give each vowel, letter, word, and sentence its haq.
Write your words legibly.
Beautify your expression.

Your mouth is like a womb that gives birth to meaning, so take care of your offspring, because they will represent you in your absence.

Qa'im

  150213162305-15-malcolm-x-restricted-sup

 

When Elijah Muhammad went to court and the judge asked him about his aim and purpose, he said he was going to make Black America Islamic. The judge said that making black people Muslims was like putting pants on an elephant. Elijah Muhammad said, "I got one pant-leg on already."[1]

 

In 2012, my student society invited the late grandson of Malcolm X, Malcolm El Shabazz, to speak at our university. I had some knowledge of his grandfather’s history, having watched Spike Lee’s legendary 1992 biopic, but I did not have a thorough understanding of the history of Islam in America. His appearance at the University of Toronto drew in a large audience.

We spoke briefly before his speech about the cold Toronto weather and his seminary studies in Syria, and I bought him two coffees – a double-double and an iced cappuccino. It was probably too cold for the iced cap, but it was a signature Canadian beverage at Tim Hortons that we felt he may enjoy. After the speech, Malcolm expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome, and even called me “a sincere brother”.[1]

Although Malcolm El Shabazz had the tenacity of his grandfather, he was a troubled young man. After a life of run-ins with the police, Malcolm was killed in 2013 at a night club in Mexico under peculiar circumstances.[2] At the time I had just finished reading The End of American Lynching by Ashraf Rushdy, which details the history of racial oppression in America. The loss of this new friend prompted me to devote some time to studying the Civil Rights Movement – a story of persecution, loss, and eventual healing and rejuvenation.

I was skipping university readings to flip through books, papers, and videos that pertained to contemporary black history. I found the topic to not only be socially relevant, but spiritually uplifting and inspiring. The story of suffering ex-slaves fighting fearlessly for their inalienable rights spoke to me. The Nation of Islam taught that the black man was robbed of his name, language, culture, country, God, and religion. Their spirit and valour could only remind me of the Israelite bondage in Egypt, or the Arabian Age of Ignorance. Nations are born out of trial and tribulation. Eventually, people pull together in tough times for a greater good, and they can find success even when all they have on their side is a kernel of truth.

There are some obvious and irreconcilable differences between traditional Islamic theology and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Sunni and Shia Muslims feel queasy at the suggestion that God’s attributes were manifest in Master Fard Muhammad, that all whites are devils, and that Elijah Muhammad was the messenger of God. These issues aside, there is much to learn from the Nation of Islam’s example. They were arguably the most successful and the most socially-relevant Western Islamic movement in history.

Social Relevance

By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam had nearly two million members, almost all of whom were converts from a Christian background. The fact that many victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade were Muslim[3] perpetuated the idea that Islam was the proper religion of the African American. Malcolm X was able to present the Nation of Islam’s enigmatic teachings to the public in a way that highlighted the need for separation, independence, and sovereignty for black people. Within a few short years, Malcolm X’s wit, charm, and hard work brought hundreds of thousands of people to the organization. The organization was still growing exponentially even after the controversy surrounding Malcolm’s assassination.

In 1974, the Nation of Islam owned enough assets to create a budding, self-sufficient community: over one hundred and fifty mosques, over forty schools, a newspaper plant, farms, a bank, apartment complexes, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, a national trucking system, and an aviation department.[4] Whether or not territorial independence was viable, the Nation of Islam created an independent subculture and economic unit. This frightened the U.S government. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover actively tried to sabotage the movement and “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.”[5] In 1996, then-Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi offered to give the group one billion dollars, until the donation was blocked by the Clinton administration.[6] Still, the unmatched coordination of the Nation of Islam attracted the brief support of the D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing.[7]

In 1995, the Nation of Islam held the historic Million Man March rally in Washington DC, which brought leading African American figures together to demand justice and reproach, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Jesse Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright.

Diet

The group’s unique diet was one of the primary means by which Master Fard Muhammad and the Nation of Islam were able to hook-in African American converts. The diet not only cut down food expenditures during the Great Depression, but it purported to have improved the general health of adherents.[8]

Master Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad developed a strict diet that makes a traditional Muslim diet look easy. Not only did the Nation of Islam fast and abstain from pork and alcohol, but they only ate one meal per day. This was done to prepare adherents for the possible severity that national independence or apocalypse may cause.[9] To improve their general health, Black Muslims mostly ate vegetables, fish, whole-wheat bread, and chicken; and they would avoid all non-halal and non-kosher meats.[10] Even beef and potatoes were to be avoided for being too coarse and too starchy respectively.[11]

Realism

Every member of the Nation of Islam is put into one of two institutions: males became part of the Fruit of Islam (FOI), and females became part of the Muslim Girls’ Training (MGT) program. The FOI is a paramilitary force with its own hierarchy that is trained to protect and provide provision for the Nation of Islam. They wear distinct blue uniforms and provide security for social and religious functions. The MGT educates women on home economics, housekeeping duties and self-defence.

There is a strong sense of responsibility in the sect that reportedly commands respect and better job opportunities for black people.[12] Indeed, devotees to the movement were encouraged to be clean, well-spoken, obedient, fearless, and abstinent from intoxicants and other vices – all traits that employers would give preference to, especially during tough economic times.

The emphasis on self-knowledge and self-emancipation, which was probably borrowed from Marcus Garvey, gave an urgent sense that black people should not wait for America to do for them what they can do for themselves. They would commonly ask, why rely on your ex-slave masters when you could pool in your own resources to build a future for your people?

The Nation of Islam was undoubtedly a realist organization that did not buy into Martin Luther King’s “dream” of an integrated America. After all, they believed that Caucasians were flesh-and-blood devils that Allah would soon destroy, and so whites were to be seen as rivalling competitors rather than potential allies.

Furthermore, unlike Black Lives Matter, the Nation of Islam puts a special emphasis on uplifting African American males from drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence, and hook-up culture. The perceived downfall of black men due to social ills was the primary motivation for the Million Man March.

 

What could traditional Muslims learn from this example?

The Nation of Islam proved that Muslims could be brazen and unapologetic; and not have to rely on co-opting forces in the political system to thrive in the West. Despite governmental censures on the organization and its leaders, the Nation of Islam produced Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Warith Deen Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan, who collectively introduced millions of people to the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. The subculture the sect created heavily influenced the worlds of sports, music, and intermittent dieting in America.

The Nation of Islam sought to give a religious hue to the issue of civil rights. As people of faith, we don’t see all suffering as simply a result of natural or systemic causes. Rather, some suffering has a divine function that includes trial, refinement, and chastisement. The Million Man March’s major themes included “Affirmation and Responsibility” and “Atonement and Reconciliation”, which emphasized that a return to traditional values and religious duties would bring about Allah’s succor and uplift legitimate grievances. Malcolm X’s example in particular shows that daʿwa cannot exist in a vacuum; but rather it has to be complimented with a socially-relevant message.

The reformative power of our religion is something that many traditional Muslims are forgetting. The Nation of Islam targeted addicts, sex-workers, inmates, and broken families, and turned them into productive and upright citizens. They knew that their teachings, which are heavily influenced by the Quran, could “resurrect” their people. On the other hand, immigrant communities often neglect and ostracize Muslim individuals for their marital status, education, poverty and past crimes or sins. One must remember that the Prophet Muhammad never walked away from his people, despite the debauchery that they took part in jahiliyya.

Muslims in North America and Europe should not only be passport-carrying doctors and engineers, but a self-sufficient international community with its own sense of purpose, loyal only to our own values and worldview. The Umma is the true shining city on the hill, and that light could foist the second pant-leg on.


[2] Mitchell, John L., and Jack Chang. “Searching for Mecca.” Vice, Vice, 13 Dec. 2013, www.vice.com/en_ca/article/dpwpz7/searching-for-mecca-0000178-v20n12.

[3] Austin, Allan. African Muslims in Antebellum America, A Sourcebook. New York: Garland Press, 1984.

[4] Saviour's Day 1974. YouTube, YouTube, 17 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VnhCjzbQ.

[5] Farley, Jonathan David. “Preventing the Rise of a 'Messiah'.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Apr. 2008, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/preventingtheriseofamessi

[6] Dorothy Gaiter, “Nation of Islam Tries to Accept gift of $1 Billion from Libya, The Wall Street Journal, 26 August 1996, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB841007141275125500

[7] “D.C. HIRES NATION OF ISLAM GUARDS FOR SE COMPLEX.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 May 1995, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1995/05/04/dc-hires-nation-of-islam-guards-for-se-complex/04352e30-6ad8-48fc-8de5-57a1283b7647/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f2b7a21a48a5.

[8] Beynon, “American Journal of Sociology.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 43, no. 6, 1938, pp. 895, 906.

[9] Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 89

[10] Ibid

[12] Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 87

 


[1] “The Final Call.” Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave, www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml

Qa'im

While we start any da`wa project, it is important to understand our environment. A da`i should not just comprehend this religion, but should have a grounded understanding of the history of Western civilization (its Greco-Roman and barbarian roots, Christendom, the Enlightenment, Westphalia, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, WW1 and WW2, nationalist and communist movements), pop culture, language, the liberal arts, the history of Muslim-Western exchange, and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is very important that the right words are used and that the right issues are addressed.

Da`wa is not just about proselytizing to outsiders, but also to our youth, our children, and converts. As it is right now, most of our mosques offer individualistic spiritual experiences, and lack welcoming communal programs (tutoring, matchmaking, book clubs, humanitarian services, schools, gyms, labs, social events). Mosques are also mostly segregated by culture, language, marja`, class, and gender; which leaves out many youth and converts. So even if we use the correct method to call people to Islam, there are fundamental problems when receiving these individuals. Any da`wa effort must work hand-in-hand with community advancement efforts; the two must occur simultaneously.

In my experience, certain converts have an easier time integrating than others. Converts from Arab, Desi, and Afghani backgrounds can usually integrate into existing communities that cater towards them. Those who convert through the marriage route also have a family and community to fall back onto (although abuse or divorce can be catastrophic). Others however face a lot of difficulty due to language barriers, culture shock, trust issues in our communities, and being unable to find spouses. Those from a Catholic background have some more compatibility, because Catholic culture is communally-oriented, family oriented, civilizational, offers less-ambigious gender roles, etc. Black converts and Anglo-Saxon converts have a lot of trouble from multiple angles.

Often times, the ground that is most fertile for da`wa efforts is Latin America and African Americans; these are the people accepting Islam and Shiism in higher numbers. It is important to translate more content into Spanish.

The most successful "Muslim" movement in the West was the Nation of Islam, which was a black nationalist movement that focused their efforts on social programs for drug addicts, prison inmates, the homeless, the mentally and physically ill, gangs, etc. They reached out to the most exploited people in the population and gave them social services, self-respect, and an uncompromising ideology. Studying their example, their successes and their failures, may help us in our endeavour. Read the Autobiography of Malcolm X or watch the Spike Lee movie "Malcolm X". Activism is contagious - the NOI was 75% social activism and 25% theology; perhaps we can learn something from that example.

Today, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Civilization is shedding its Christian and Mediterranean roots: The separation of Church and State, the deliberate destruction of Christian values in pop culture, Latin and Greek are gone from schools (which were the basis of ethics, philosophy, and religion), the family unit is dissolving, quasi-tribalist nationalism is on the rise, gender norms are dissolving, city architecture is purely designed for utility and economic benefit rather than beauty (look at New York or Toronto and compare it to traditional Catholic or Islamic architecture), and the Muslim population in Europe is under attack. Yeomanry and the Protestant work ethic remain the cornerstone of WASP culture.

The millennial generation struggles with identity, apathy towards organized religion, instant-gratification, hook-up culture, short attention spans (smart phone culture), depression, and the collapse of a collective intellectual mythology.

Interfaith debate and dialogue is no longer an effective way to gain converts, as most millennials either do not adhere to an organized religion, or they do not take their religion seriously. Instead, da`wa should focus on exposing the cultural poverty, rampant skepticism, lack of purpose, and aimless degeneracy of modern secularism. We should look into what goes viral on social media to better understand what millennials care about. Our mission is to guide those whose hearts are troubled. We will always meet opposition from the hard-hearted, but the open minded who are looking to regain their fitra are out there.

In the 60s and 70s, Islam had a chance to gain mainstream acceptance in the West. The West was getting over Christianity, and was experimenting with Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. Islam caught the eye of many who viewed it as a more familiar Abrahamic alternative to the far-eastern religions. However, what prevented the growth of Islam was that it was tied to specific movements in the east (the Afghan mujahideen, the Iranian revolution, the Saudi Wahabis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Cause). Similarly, in the late 19th century, many da`wa efforts were tied to the Ottoman Empire, and were halted when the Empire collapsed. If we are to present Islam to Westerners, its image should not be tied to the successes or failures of the Muslim world, or to a specific state or specific party. Islam should be an idea and an ethical tradition that is not affected by what goes on in the East. We can praise good efforts, but we should not be associated.

We should emphasize that Shia Islam is distinct from both Salafism (extreme, literalist dogmatism) and aimless secularism (the other extreme). Our effort should be focused on showing the profound beauty and wisdom of our tradition, our creative expression (poetry, architecture), and the dignity of our holy personalities.

(October 2016)

Qa'im
In the beginning, Allahu Akbar - God's Essence is too great to be described (الله أكبر من أن يوصف) ( الله الواحد الاحد الذي ليس كمثله شيء ، لا يقاس بشيء ، ّ و لا يلمس بالاخماس ، و لا يدرك بالحواس).
 
Then, the Fatiha: The Light of Muhammad (s), the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the righteous, and the angelic realm is created, supplicating His holy praises and praying to Him. They all bow in subservience to Him.
 
Then, the first Sujud: We are created from earth after nonexistence. (أللهم إنك منها خلقتنى يعني من الارض ّ)
 
Then, we sit: We rise to live, and our life is marred by mistakes, shortcomings, and sins. We repent and beg God for His forgiveness. (و رفع رأسك و منها أخرجتنا)
 
Then, the second Sujud: We die and return back to the earth for a prescribed time. (السجدة الثانية وإليها تعيدنا)
 
Then, we sit: We praise Allah for bringing us to life after having died. We take our shahada, because it is the foremost matter that we will be questioned about. (و رفع رأسك من ّ الثانية و منها تخرجنا تارة اخرى)
 
Then we bless Muhammad and his Family, and greet the Messenger, for it is their intercession that we will seek on that Day. Then, we greet the righteous servants of Allah, who will be raised with him.
 
Then, tasleem: the greeting of Paradise (tahiyat al-jannah).
 
Salat is the ascension of the believer.

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Qa'im

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The first creation of Allah is His will (mashi’a). The mashi’a is a created light that operates on the realm of the creation and interacts with the rest of creation. Since the mashi’a is subject to change and affect, it is separate from His Unified and Unknowable Essence.

علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عمر بن اذينة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: خلق الله المشيئة بنفسها ثم خلق الاشياء بالمشيئة.

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as) said, “Allah created the will (mashi’a) by its self. Then, He created the things by the will.”

The mashi’a is one entity (ذات بسيطة) with four degrees (معلقات). These four degrees are His will (mashi’a), His desire (irada), His determining (qadr), and His actualization (qada).

3يا يونس تعلم ما؛ المشيئة قلت لا قال هي الذکر الاول فتعلم ما الارادة قلت لا قال هي العزيمة على ما يشاء فتعلم ما القدر قلت لا قال هي الهندسة و وضع الحدود من البقاء و الفناء قال ثم قال و القضاء هو الابرام و اقامة العين

Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “O Yunus! Do you know what the will (mashi’a) is?” Yunus said, “No.” Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “It is the first utterance (الذکر الاول). So do you know what the wish (الارادة) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is the invitation to what He wants. So do you know what determining (qadr) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is designing and organizing the parameters from beginning to end. And actualization (qada) is the confirmation and the establishment of the thing.”

The mashi’a and the desire (irada) both denote the same object. However, when used together, they refer to different degrees within the mashi’a’s process. The first degree is the wish for a thing, the second degree is the assertion of that wish, the third degree is the organization of the parameters needed to bring about that wish, and the fourth degree is its execution. All of these levels are really one process, but in our understanding, it takes place in four stages.

Mashi’a is a unity of action (fi`l) and reception (infi`al). While irada, qadr, and qada are masculine activities, the mashi’a is feminine in its receptivity to all of these active phases. This way, the mashi’a constitutes both self-acting and self-receiving. This reality is called the Great Depth (العمق الأكبر). Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i uses the term “the Kaf that Encircles Itself” (الكاف المستديرة على نفسها) to describe the duality of the mashi’a, because a circled letter Kaf resembles the yin-yang, and a yin-yang represents the complementary nature of contrary forces. The mashi’a is compared to Adam and Eve, the first promulgators of their species, through whose dimorphic reproduction all people came into existence.

There are two types of divine actions (ja`l ilahi) in the Quran: formative action (جعل تكويني) and designative action (جعل تشريعي). Formative action refers to creating, establishing, and building. Allah says, “[He] who made (ja`ala) for you the earth as a bed and the sky as a ceiling” (2:22). Designative action refers to divine selection and legislation. Allah says, “Allah has made the Ka`ba, the Sacred House, an establishment for mankind.” (5:97) These two actions are further duplicated inversely in a dialectical process, which we will describe later.

The mashi’a exists on the sempiternal plain (سرمد), which is a created level of infinity that is beyond the rest of creation. Allah, however, is Eternal (أزل), and therefore beyond sempiternity. In Allah’s Essence (ذات), there is no action; and He is beyond understanding. In the hierarchy of creation, the mashi’a is the first barrier (hijab), and there is nothing beyond it.

Qa'im

Freedom!

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Freedom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Qa'im

Individualism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

أعوذ بالله من كلمة أنا
I seek refuge in Allah from the word "me".

Qa'im

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"All religions deep down teach the same thing" - A typical modern day Muslim intellectual ("muthaqqaf").

No, they don't, unless we redefine and selectively choose what a religion is, and here you run into the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

This train of thought is an easy option for lazy thinkers who have never found good enough reasons to justify following the tradition they do. The Quran can be cut apart to appear to support this claim, but the Quran also makes exclusivist claims to authority, and it routinely refutes and discredits the claims of other religions.

But hey, everything is "arrogant" or "dogmatic" except for the absolute universalist, who is the only one who can really see the "full picture". By the way, that too would be an arrogant and exclusivist claim that invalidates other worldviews. It is inherently paradoxical.

This is called a dialetheism. "A dialetheia is a sentence, A, such that both it and its negation, ¬A, are true". This, of course, is unscientific, and it opposes the Law of Non-Contradiction.

Next time someone tries to sell you religious universalism, ask yourself, at what cost are you willing to believe this? Should you just put your cognitive faculties and intellect aside? Should you deny that there are red lines, and deny any evil and misguidance? Should you deny the corruption, interpolation, and abrogation of pre-Muhammadan faiths? Should you deny that the true founders of many post-Muhammadan faiths were imposters, charlatans, and false prophets?

And yes, I understand that the fitra (natural human intuition) points one toward God, and that all nations have received prophets. That does not make all modern religions equally valid, even if they may have a kernel of truth somewhere. I also understand that modern extremists have often misused takfeer and excommunication, and engage in su' ath-thann. That does not mean we should run towards the opposite extreme.

"It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, though the polytheists be averse." (9:33)

Qa'im

Identity Politics

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Activists today talk much of identity politics. Identity politics, also called identitarian politics, refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.

You may have heard people "identify as a gay person", or "identify as a black nationalist", or "identify as a vegetarian", or identify themselves with a certain race, nationality, creed, economic class, or ideology. They are then expected to behave and dress according to the mores of that identity. Discovering oneself is indeed a necessary process in the journey of life. It is common for Westerners to travel around Europe, flirt with Indian mysticism, or teach in east Asia in an effort to "find" themselves.

So what is our true Islamic identity? One may say Shia, but to be a Shia of `Ali (a) means much more than to belong to a certain minority community. The Shia are an elite nucleus of believers. One may say Muslim, but even prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma`il (a) had to pray for Allah to make them into Muslims - submitters to the will of Allah.

The answer to this question may be in the famous saying, “Whoso knows his self, assuredly knows his Lord.”

There are differences of opinion on the true meaning of this quote, but the commentary of this saying that this servant finds most consistent with the tradition is that of Shaykh al-Awhad Ahmad al-Ahsai. He says that the statement expresses conditionality (ta`leeq) to gnosis. The prophets, messengers, and deputies had a self-awareness, believing that their selves were a part of a grander creation, whose origin is Allah. He cites 41:53, 18:51, and a du`a’ of the 12th Imam that put the nafs alongside the rest of creation as temporal signs of an eternal God.

Ahsai brings forward a similar hadith attributed to the Prophet Dawud, in which he says “Whoso knows the ignorance of his self, assuredly knows the strength of his Lord. And, whoso knows the incapacity of his self, assuredly knows the power of his Lord.” This is an expression of the weak, limitedness of man, which thus highlights the strength and capacity of Allah.

This means that one must acknowledge the fact that he was created, and therefore, he is a finite and limited being in need of a Creator and Sustainer. One must realize the limits of his own power and his intelligence to understand He who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. That is the beginning of the process of ma`rifa - cognizance of the Divine - where one surrenders himself in faith and in action to Absolute Perfection.

So the true identity that a person must recognize is that they are a created servant who is in total need of God. We say "ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh" in the tashahhud, which acknowledges the servitude of Muhammad (s) to his Lord. This servitude is the key to true greatness, because one who is a slave to God cannot be a slave to worldliness. All people surrender, whether to their own desires or to an outside force, but if one's reliance is completely on Allah, he will be free from obeying others. One who fears only Allah does not fear anything else, which elevates his status in the creation. It is out of Prophet Muhammad's sincere service to Allah that made him the best of creation.

Returning to postmodern identity politics: identifying yourself with what you eat or who you have sex with is very shallow. Food and sex are functions of the lower self. Identifying with a race is identifying with an accidental characteristic of yourself rather than your essential nature. As much as these "groups" may be relevant in today's world, we should not be fixated on `asabiyya (tribalism, group mentality), which was the underlining feature of jahiliyya. Identity politics can blind us from ethics, which is rooted more in verbs and adverbs than in nouns and pronouns. It can cause irreparable division and segregation. And finally, it can cause us to lose focus of our purpose and goal: ma`rifa.

"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me." (51:56)

Qa'im

Halloween is for the Dead

Halloween was a Celtic and Gaelic festival which would mark the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the winter. The "darker" half of the year has begun, the frigid season of death. The pagan Celts believed that the dead spirits visited them on this day, and so they gave them an offering of food as an appeasement, so that they may not incur their curse during this season.

In the past few centuries, people began dressing up as these dead spirits to pay homage to them.

And so when you see a slutty Halloween outfit on your timeline, know that this is just a senseless and ignorant person - a "dead" person; dead in spirit, dead in their heart, paying homage to the darkness within themselves, toiling after the fleeting frills of this world, in need of spiritual resuscitation. Whether they know it or not, they are imitating demon spirits whom they love and fear. "Surely, they had taken the devils as masters instead of Allah while they thought that they were guided." (7:30)

We have no reverence and no fear of the dead. We seek protection in Allah and no one else.

"But no one believes this anymore, all that's left are these symbols". Yes, and symbols are powerful, and thus we must not internalize symbols that have their lineage in hell.

So while people imitate the dead - both the physically dead (zombies, ghouls, skeletons, grim reapers), and the spiritually dead (materialists) - remember that Allah brings life. A person may be heedless today, but when Allah gives the gift of guidance, he will awake to his responsibilities, and be resurrected in faith.

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Qa'im

Devolution

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This is part three in my series on postmodernism. For part two, click here, and you will also find the link to part one there.

Many Muslims begin doubting their religion after surveying the evidence for evolution. Prior to Darwinian evolution, the Muslim civilization was usually not keen on hindering scientific progress, and in fact did what it could to propel it. With modern evolutionary biology however, there appears (at least on the surface) to be a clash between science and scripture. What are the forces at play here? What variables must we consider when dealing with this problem?

The common stem from which these doubts sprout is an epistemology grounded in naturalism. The scientific method obviously has a place in truth-seeking: it draws its conclusions from sensory observation, and gives us indubitable truths about the universe in which we live. I would never abandon the scientific method as a tool in the quest to understand reality, but it is a tool after all. Science is always at the drawing board, revising old research, devising new methods, and challenging old conclusions. The basis of science is reason, which is why an experiment begins with a hypothesis (an educated guess of what we logically expect to take place) and a null hypothesis (what we expect will not take place). This presupposes cause and effect, and the law of noncontradiction; the idea that our universe operates in an orderly way, and that events do not happen at random. In the same way that logic is the foundation of science, it is also the foundation of our kalaami arguments for the existence of God.

The scientific method as a tool will not be able to answer every question on ethics, anthropology, cosmology, purpose, metaphysics, consciousness/life/being, and epistemology - and although these areas are more uncertain and immaterial than the hard sciences, they are ultimately what we live for. So when I see New Atheists dismiss philosophy, or religion, I find it to be quite naive, because philosophy is the incorporeal foundation of science, and religion is the incorporeal foundation of society; with science being a tool with its own scope. New Atheism merely grew out of the carcass of occidental Christianity, and its logical conclusion is postmodernism, which is nihilistic, hedonistic, confused, and suicidal.

So with that in mind, when science, which is sensory observation with inconclusive fluidity, becomes the criterion by which convention is confirmed or denied, there will naturally be clashes. Sometimes, those clashes exist only in the mind, because they are a clash between an interpretation of convention and a perceived reality. Other times, the clash can be based on flawed or incomplete scientific research. I'm not someone who denies evolution, as I think the position of denial becomes more discredited every year. But there are gigantic discoveries that occur periodically, discoveries that challenge previously-held beliefs in evolution and clash with existing hypotheses, discoveries that may have their own flaws that are exposed in the next discovery. This is partly why I find it difficult to answer questions on evolution - it is like the big bang: some are quick to find references to the big bang in the Quran and hadith, but if the big bang theory were ever superseded by science (and alternative hypotheses do exist), then that would throw those interpretations out as well. What I've realized after my third university degree is that these educational institutions have their own faith-based biases, assumptions, and ideologies, which guide their research - this is far more pronounced in the social sciences of course, but isn't limited to them.

Ultimately, we won't achieve 100% scientific certainty in either the present evolutionary conclusions nor in the Adamic story. This then poses a question: is there any conventional value to the Adamic story? Whether or not it physically took place (and I believe that it did, in some way or another), it is an origin story that resonated with billions of people worldwide for thousands of years, with profound psychological truths and practical sociological lessons. Of course, the Islamic version is a bit more in line with naturalistic thinking - with the nasnaas, the thousands of Adams, the earthly setting of the story, the earthly origins of mankind, no mention of timeline/genealogy, and no "original sin" - but one has to go deeper into the story. The Quran avoids historicizing events, and so it lacks many dates, names, and places, and instead, encourages us to reflect on the lessons taught in each story. On one side, the story talks about humanity's vicegerency of God on Earth, humanity's ability to comprehend the aql (Logos), and humanity's eloquent mastery of language; on the other side, it talks about humanity's naivety, humanity's base desires, and humanity's sorrow after its fall. The story highlights the dualistic nature of man: that we are both celestial in one sense and earthly in another sense; spiritual and physical, supernatural and natural, "human" and animal. It is a story about the great natural telos of man, followed by his tragic fall, followed by his humble ascent. On another level, it talks of humanity's common, meek, and worldly origin, so as to avoid tribalism, racism, and chauvinism.

According to the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, Adam lived in this very same world that you and I share. His "garden" was the state of his faith; he was living in the higher consciousness of the mind and the heart. Eventually, he "fell" into the lower, base desires of man (the stomach and genitals/nakedness), which made him shameful and regretful, because God created man for spiritual ascension and not decline. That regret brought him back to God in a corrective effort. This same story is reflected in mankind both on a microcosmic and macrocosmic level. We all have our own individual falls, where we immaturely decline into heedlessness. But on a civilizational level, we continue to fall vertically, from holistic celestial worldviews to our base desires. Philosophically, we have fallen from religious philosophy (philosophy of the spiritual hierarchy), to rational philosophy, to naturalist philosophy, to contemporary relativism (philosophy of the base human self). The problem with the evolutionary worldview is that it views mankind simply as bonafide tool-making animals. Evolution replaced the perennial notion of man’s fall with a theory of material progress. It gives us the guise of progress. But the reality is that we are falling from the divine to the mundane. The Christian world went from the leadership of prophets, to apostles, to false apostles, to pseudo divine kings, to secular materialist rulers, to the current White House spectacle. They went from traditional Christianity, to Protestantism, to capitalism and socialism, to modern base identities (vegetarians / what one eats, gays / who one has sex with, race / what colour we are born as). Islam went through a similar fall, from prophethood, to imamate and false caliphate, to colonialism, to militant secular states, to chaos. While this time is certainly noted for the rise of its science and technology, I see mankind falling into dogmatism, nihilism, social decadence, frivolity, vanity, impatience, and depression. Jahiliyya was a Fall to the bottom, where from which the Prophet stood his people back up. The hadiths describe the degeneracy of the End Times, but the night is darkest just before the dawn, and as soon as even the dimmest of light appears on the horizon, the very nature of people will pull them towards it - the Mahdi.

In this sense, conventional truths, which is the sifted and sieved amalgamation of human thought and experience, has a meta-historical archetypal nature that is often more authentic than sensory truths. It would be foolish to disregard either one, because one deals with how, and the other deals with why. With a purely evolutionary worldview, man is a toolmaking animal, and our progress as a species is measured in the linear paradigm of scientific and technological advancement. But this says little about our quality of life, purpose of life, why we live, how we should live, where we come from, what it means to be human, the power of thought and conscious experience, and whether we really are "better" or more developed than our ancestors. It gives the illusion of upward ascent, but I see a downward regress during what should be humanity's most enlightened time, and that regress comes from our killing of our father - tradition, convention, religion, and ritual.

The Fall gives meaning to human anxiety, depression, and alienation; and a promise of an ascent through effort, hope, promise, responsibility, and a return to being, vicegerency, sainthood.

"And from the evil of darkness when it overspreads" (113:3)

Qa'im

Mecca or the Mechanical

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Why have we turned Mecca into the Mechanical?

Mecca is the central pinnacle of human assembly, yet its architecture has been modeled after the capitals of individualism: New York, London, Toronto, and Las Vegas.

Its Ottoman heritage is being destroyed, its mountains are being removed, its mosques are being leveled, and all of it is being replaced with gray skyscrapers, McDonalds, Starbucks, cranes, and boxy buildings.

Over the centuries, our civilization has developed an architectural style, beautiful calligraphy, symmetrical patterns, captivating minarets, and iconic domes. Our mosques were designed to remind us of the divine order of the creation and the beauty of our revelation. We built the marvels that are Istanbul and Isfahan. The Taj Mahal, the Alhambra in Spain, the Dome of the Rock, and the Suleymaniye Mosque are some of the most elegant structures in the world.

The Protestant work-ethic cities in the West were designed with only utility in mind. They designed their cities to maximize profits and productivity, and to minimize costs. Anglo-Saxon culture deviated from the traditional beauty of Catholic architectural style, and they continue to deviate in other areas of morality. After British and American imperialism, Muslims are now emulating their worldly masters in an effort to look “modern”. This has led to the monstrosity that is Dubai and Tehran; cities with no heart and soul, only pollution, traffic, and eyesores.

Ethics is but a branch of aesthetics. Winning back our civilization also means returning to our therapeutic artstyle. We have no need for a concrete jungle in our holiest city.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "When you see holes pierced through the mountains of Mecca, and when you see the buildings surpass the mountaintops in height, then know that the affair (the Hour) has cast its shadow." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba)

قال حدثنا غندر عن شعبه عن يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه عن عمرو بن العاص((إذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظائم ، ورأيت البناء يعلو رؤوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أضلك ))

Qa'im

Believe Anything

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This is part two of my blog on the cultural paradigm of the postmodern West. You can check out part one here.

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Islamic re-education starts with assessing the problems of postmodernism. Once we understand the problem, we can begin to derive real solutions from the revelation.

Identity Politics is Neo-Tribalism

French philosopher Michel Foucault (d. 1984) inspired a system that divided the world into two camps: "dominant" and "marginalized". The dominant narrative was the Eurocentric heteronormative neoliberal patriarchal narrative. The marginal narrative would be that of the people of colour, minorities, the poor, the disabled, women, children, and homosexuals. His ideas became the basis of activist groups after the 1960s.

Upper-middle-class academics in the West were thrilled that they could now speak for the marginalized groups, which they couldn't really do when communism was popular among the dispossessed. So they formed their own marginalized narratives of history. Each narrative was aimed at deconstructing the dominant narrative's "artifacts" - its pop culture, its founding literature, and its theorists. Each marginal group then formed its own history, literature, and artifacts. This process was in full swing by the 1980s.

At first sight, it appears compassionate to give a voice to marginalized people. But this postmodernist system comes with the exact same assumptions about the world that the dominant system has: (1) the belief that the world is controlled by power and chance, (2) the belief that truth is relegated to the observable natural sciences, (3) the belief that pre-modern spirituality is superstitious and ritualistic, (4) the belief that suffering is all evil, all natural, and does not have meaning, (5) and no formal end-goal or salvation, unlike Islam, Christianity, and Marxism.

For Foucault, there is no way out of the suffering - only a means to "resist" the dominant powers and survive on the margins. Postmodernists believe only in power and the fight over it. They are experts in jargon, little catch phrases, intended to gain an audience and battle the oppressor class. They disintegrate much, but they construct nothing. When all is said and done, they ultimately put their faith in the free market, and fall back onto the Anglosaxon individualist naturalist yeomanry - making them very similar to the dominant paradigm.

Foucault offered the educated bourgeoisie the opportunity to side with and speak for the working class. They are not awaiting some proletarian revolution - they are more bent on co-opting the current political and economic system to give themselves a bigger piece of the pie.

 

The Intersection of Power and `Asabiyya

Intersectionality is the idea that the liberation of these all "marginalized" groups (women, homosexuals, people of colour, minorities, the poor, the incarcerated) is bound together, because they have a common, oppressive, dominant enemy: heteronormative patriarchal cis-gendered Eurocentric capitalist males. For this reason, we see an alliance between feminists, LGBT activists, Black Lives Matter activists, communists, anarchists, and liberal Muslim activists. This alliance exists in student unions, labour unions, university departments, lobby groups, political parties, and protest movements.

There is a lot wrong with this:

1. The enemy of your enemy is NOT necessarily your friend. We cannot leave our ethics aside for the sake of dunyawi politics. While Muslim activists like Linda Sarsour try to push for their own marginalized Muslim liberation in America, they have taken the feminists and homosexuals as allies in their struggle. This is while they pass laws that either contradict our beliefs or hurt us directly. In the case of Linda Sarsour, we now see a direct clash between her and feminist zionists, who argue that Israel is more feminist than the Muslim world. The point is, each group as its own interests, and while they may overlap in some areas, our "liberation" is not "bound" with theirs at all.

2. Race and sex are NOT essential attributes. They are accidental attributes. Yes, we belong to certain tribes and races, but these are adjectives that should not define our worldview or ideology. We don't accept the notion that "only women can speak on women's issues", or "only blacks can speak on black issues" - the Messenger of Allah (s) spoke for all people, and the inheritors of his knowledge are the Scholars. If we belong to a certain group, we may have some extra insight into that group's issues, but it does not make us a spokesperson for that group, nor does it mean others cannot comment on the issues of that group.

3. Not all suffering comes from the dominant "system". In Islam, most suffering comes from hard-heartedness and ignorance. Any group, regardless of colour or sex, is capable of becoming an oppressor if they are hard-hearted or ignorant.

4. People of faith have always accepted the redemptive affects of suffering. All people suffer, regardless of whether they belong to the "marginal" groups or "dominant" groups. This suffering has meaning: it is either a trial (like in the case of Prophet Ayyub), a purification from sins (like the ill Muslim), a tool for our maturation and personality-building, or a divine chastisement (like the communities of Nuh, Lut, Salih, Shu`ayb, Hud, and others).

5. Not all political grievances are solved by rebellion. Allah does not change the affair of a people until they change what is in themselves. Muslim scholars have traditionally been averse to rebellions and schisms, because they are often ill-advised, violent, and divisive.

6. Power is not all that exists. Intersectional libertines only believe in power - they don't believe in dialogue, patience, or the supernatural.

 

How did we even get here?

Ideologues speak of the "Overton Window", which is the range of discourse that the public will accept. The window is constantly shifting.

There are issues of discussion that are unpopular and unacceptable - such as the legalization of pedophilia - and so it is not within the Overton Window of discourse. There are other issues that have recently crept into the window, such as the legalization of marijuana, which less than 10% of Americans supported in the 1950s, but now over 58% of Americans accept, and it has become legal in several states. Another example: the legalization of incest and necrophilia would have been unthinkable in modern Europe, but the youth branch of the Swedish Liberal People's Party supported it, and more "bite the bullet" secularists are accepting its possibility.

In the last few decades, the window has shifted due to the clever ideological pushes of postmodernists. In 2008, President Obama ran against the legalization of gay marriage, and 60% of Americans were also against it. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized, and 60% of Americans accepted it - within just 7 years of media promotion and lobbying. In 1988, that number was 12%. The pride march went from being an isolated one-day event to being a month-long city-wide celebration that national politicians must attend.

Postmodernists know that their ideas can only gain political acceptance if they are introduced gradually. In conversation, they take baby steps, and stop right at the point where you will resist them. Then, they'll come back in a few days, weeks, or months, and take a few more steps. In a few years time, you find yourself talking about things that you would've never considered before.

Not only is same-sex marriage celebrated in the centre of the Overton window, but other non-binary, transsexual and furry identities are slowly being introduced. It starts in sociology class or in a corner on the web, then it moves to a comedy hall, then once it is more normal, it is presented on television and in movies, and eventually, it becomes the prevailing narrative. We're told to simply get with the times instead of analyzing its consequences. You go from rejection, to apathy, to support; till your former rejection of it becomes despised, illegal, taboo, and unacceptable.

 

“The long march through the institutions”

This was the memorable slogan of infiltration, created by Rudi Dutschke, a New Left activist in the late 1960s. His ideas were influenced by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.

The plan? A violent proletarian revolution was out of the question. Bourgeois capitalism had deluded the proletariat into not rebelling against their "oppression". The only solution then was to invade the areas of life that were most directly responsible for opinion-forming and the bending of minds: to “work from within” and alter the consciousness of the masses, who would then be made to see the reality of their own situation and become more receptive to the message of revolution.

Comrades of the postmodern New Left would become professors, union officials, journalists, teachers, etc. They would then push a counter culture that resulted in the sexual revolution (free love, homosexuality), the dropping of "bourgeois" subjects from school curricula (Latin, violin classes), and the introduction of Social Justice Warrior deconstructivism and activism. The long-term goal would be social emancipation from the dominant capitalist Eurocentric heteronormative conservative culture.

Now, the postmodernists are in control of most Western universities, school boards, media conglomerates, publishers, unions, activist groups, advocacy groups, and some political parties. Their ideology is cultural Marxism and Foucaultianism, and their goal is to take down Abrahamic religion and the patriarchy through education and programming.

 

The solution?

There is no easy solution to this problem, and any solution will require the collaboration of our greatest minds. This is an information war that has destroyed the faith of millions of Muslims, knowingly and unknowingly. We must all be attentive and constantly seeking guidance from Allah. But there are a few things we must all keep in mind:

1. Our ally is Allah. Allah is our God, our Saviour, and our Deliverer. We must remember to seek His truth, to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, and to put Him first. We do not need to seek allies outside of Allah, His Messenger, His hujja, their Shi`a, and the Muslim Umma. As long as we stick to our ethics, Allah will give us the ultimate success. We have the Ark of Salvation that will carry us through the darkness. We can always dialogue with other groups, and work together towards common goals, but never in a way that will compromise our ethics and change our religion. If we tolerate deviation for the sake of political alliances, then we haven't truly tasted faith.

2. Recognize the signs when you see them. Know the terminology - terms like "allies, appropriation, identity politics, trigger, intersectionality, cis-gendered, heternormative, social justice, oppression, phobia, progressive, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, melanin, white supremacy, wage-gap, rape-culture, micro-aggression, privilege, shaming, and victim blaming" are common go-to jargon that dominate western universities, schools, unions, HR departments, activist movements, and political parties. Once you recognize a sign, your antennas should go up, and you should try to understand their goal. You will see the devolution happen very gradually - a person identifying with neither gender, a queer Muslim character on a TV show, a transsexual who wins the "Woman of the Year" award, a gender-neutral bathroom, a gay nikah, a Muslim comedian who jokes about his drinking, a Buzzfeed video about Muslims doing "ordinary" (i.e. haram) things that non-Muslims can relate to, a shaykh allowing women to marry non-Muslims. You may say to yourself, none of this is a big deal, it doesn't harm me. But perhaps someday, within a few more baby steps, we may get pushed off the cliff completely.

3. Our job as always is amr bil ma`ruf wa nahi `an al-munkar. Remember the AsHab as-Sabt. There were those who disobeyed God, those who tolerated their disobedience, and those who spoke out against it. Only the third group was saved.

4. Read! Don't just eat up what your newsfeed, your sociology professor, and your television give you. Follow the money, question everything, and pray for guidance.

5. Remember that Muslims are not just some minority culture in need of Western acceptance. We are not part of this marginal coalition fighting "Islamophobia". We are doing da`wa - calling to the way of our Lord, with justice, good voice, patience, and in the best manner. That da`wa will either be accepted or rejected, but Allah will preserve our destinies. We Western Muslims have been put here to either call to Islam or to lose it completely.

6. Raise awareness in the community about the importance of understanding Nietzsche and the problems of postmodernism, if they really want to be able to correctly recognize the time that we are and the challenges that we face. Then, we need to continue developing our own distinct worldview, and support leaders in our community who are driving towards that change.

7. We are a people of intellect (aql), patience (sabr), prayer (salat), character (akhlaq), glad tidings and warnings. We must manifest those things at all times.

By the Time! Man is surely in loss, except those who believed and did good works, and exhorted one another to Truth, and exhorted one another to patience (Quran, chapter 103)

Qa'im

 

If I told you that missionaries were going to your child's school everyday, preaching their religion and teaching that Islam is backwards and evil, you would be deeply concerned, right?

Well, libertine missionaries have already infiltrated the schools, the universities, the textbooks, the TV shows, the labour unions, and the HR departments. Their ideology teaches your kids everyday:

1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.

2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature - it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.

3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the "Umma", the "Church", or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married - if it suits your selfish interests - then "economic independence" must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.

4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a "social reformer", military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.

5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.

6. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose your name (first and last), your racial/ethnic/tribal affiliation, your sex, your gender, your style, and your mode of expression. "As long as you're not hurting anyone" (a very relative statement), anything goes.

7. Your sexuality should be celebrated and expressed publicly, no matter how deviant it is from global norms. Thou shalt not judge anyone's sex life or lack thereof. Sexual identity permeates our politics, our associations, and our fashion, and is either just as important or more important than our religious identity.

These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.

So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn't they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?

The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.

Qa'im

Spread by the Sword?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

           

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qa'im

Love and Suffering

Love and suffering is a match made in heaven. Love is breathlessly heart-wrenching, as it snares the mind of the lover and controls his actions. Any loving relationship will be filled with trial and tribulation, selfless sacrifice, selfish protectiveness, and frequent heartbreak. We both live and die for even a moment of true love. It is thus no coincidence that suffering is a component of many Arabic words for love. `Ishq (عشق), which is a fervent type of love, was originally a vine that winds itself around a tree, squeezing it until it withered. Shaghaf (شغف), which was the passion that Zulaykha had for Yusuf (12:3), was a form of heart disease. Muhjata qalb (مهجة قلب), an expression used to describe a lover, is actually the blood of the heart. Huyum (الهيوم), meaning passion, is a type of insanity. The Persian poem of Layla and Majnun comes to mind.

Most of the Quran is relative-comparative. Its stories usually lack names, dates, places, and chronologies, and are instead filled with archetypal symbols that can be flexibly applied to other situations. It tries to tell the stories in a timeless and universal manner.

The Husayni tragedy in Shii literature is similar. It is mourned by other prophets long before the event, it is mourned by nature (blood rain, blood earth, owls), it is mourned over by millions of angels, and it will be vindicated in the eschatological narrative. Karbala is described in Kamil al-Ziyarat as a piece of heaven on Earth, and as the conduit between heaven and earth (majma` as-samawati wal ard). Its soil is described as a cure, and it is given to the sick, and it is used for prostrations. In Shiism, the visitation of Husayn by one who correctly recognizes his status is considered a Hajj (or seven Hajj, or thousands of Hajj, or more), because the principle of Hajj is total submission and sacrifice, commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham; and Husayn cut his Hajj short to fulfill its end by going to Karbala and willingly giving himself to God. It is said that every grief in Islam is disliked, except for grief over Husayn, and so people forego their personal tragedies to mourn for the primordial epic tragedy. They wear black, abstain from makeup and dye, abstain from laughing, abstain from weddings and festive activities, sometimes for forty days.

The love of Husayn is not just lip-service. It is the intense gallantry that a mother has over her child, the undying loyalty that a person has for their spouse, the forsaken mourning of a widow, and the adoration of a boy for his father. It is a bond closer than family and thicker than blood. His tragedy is the quintessential love story, with Abu Fadl al-`Abbas, Qasim b. al-Hasan, `Ali al-Akbar, `Ali al-Asghar, Habib b. Muthahir, and many other gems bravely followed their beloved into the engulfing abyss.

Interestingly, there is no record of a relationship between the Imams and the historians of the tragedy, but there is much record of a relationship between the Imams and the poets. The Imams would invite poets to speak on the tragedy, make many supplications for them, add to their poetry, and gift them very generously. This to me says that the aim of the Shii is to find a meaningful and meta-historical route to Husayn, as the horrors of that day were unfathomable, and directed only at those who deserved it the least.

Love and suffering are often paired in Islamic literature. There isn't really a concept of "happily ever after" in this world, it is rather seen as a prison of the believer, an abode of trials (dar al-bala'), a fleeting world (dar al-fana'), where the lovers of Ali will suffer the most, so that they may be refined and purified like gold in a furnace. The tradition says that those who suffer the most are the prophets and their successors, then those similar to them, and so on. The constant trial strengthens the faith of a true believer, who learns to lean on God alone.

The timelessness of Islam's symbols emphasizes the finality of its message and the universality of its principles. Our religion uses relatable similitudes that resonate with our very core, making Islam not a seventh century Arabian phenomenon, but an expression of the nature in which we were created.

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Qa'im

The Basic Unit of Society

The root ethic in Islam is maintaining a healthy heart. I'm not referring to the pulsating organ in your left chest, but rather I'm referring to the qalb. The heart is the metaphysical mind and conscience that the Quran ties to our thoughts and feelings. It is the locus of our faith, the home of our innermost secrets, the intuitive criterion for good and evil, and the organ through which our Creator is known. In the hadith literature, the heart is connected to all of the senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, and smelling; and the information that these senses receive are directed to the heart. The heart then identifies and interprets this information. The heart is the Imam of the body that answers the questions of the body and clarifies its doubts. ( قلت أ فلك قلب قال نعم قال قلت فما تصنع به قال أميز به كلما ورد على هذه الجوارح قال قلت أ فليس في هذه الجوارح غنى عن القلب قال لا قلت وكيف ذلك وهي صحيحة قال يا بني إن الجوارح إذا شكت في شيء شمته أو رأته أو ذاقته ردته إلى القلب فليقر به اليقين ويبطل الشك قال قلت فإنما أقام الله عز وجل القلب لشك الجوارح قال نعم قال قلت ولا بد من القلب وإلا لم يستيقن الجوارح قال نعم قال قلت يا أبا مروان إن الله لم يترك جوارحك حتى جعل لها إماما يصحح لها الصحيح وينفي ما شكت فيه ويترك هذا الخلق كلهم في حيرتهم وشكهم واختلافهم لا يقيم لهم إماما يردون إليه شكهم وحيرتهم ويقيم لك إماما لجوارحك يرد إليك شكك وحيرتك )

The root verb (قلب) means to turn, to flip, and to change. A healthy heart is soft: it fluidly changes from state to state, depending on its surroundings. If it perceives oppression, it expresses hatred for the oppressor and sympathy for the oppressed. If it perceives God's signs, it basks in wonder and amazement. If it perceives love, it loves. It is constantly reflecting and "turning", hence the root word. An unhealthy heart is a hard heart: it is numb, heavy, heedless, stagnant, and does not react to its surroundings. It is desensitized to good and evil, and it does not recognize God's signs. Its hardness impedes its ability to flux, which is what a heart is made to do.

The goal of Islamic ethics is to remain soft-hearted by practicing humility, by crying over injustice, to curb our arrogance and heedlessness, to be selfless, and to return to our natural order. Yes, having a soft-heart can be painful, but those who turn their heart into a hard shell become bitter, distant, selfish, and absent-minded. Rather than genuinely turning their pain into a lesson, they mentally run away from their problems by locking their heart and letting nothing in. But only through heartfelt contemplation can true progress take place, both within yourself and within your society.

For some, the family is the basic unit of society. Family is seen as the building block of civilization, and the most basic natural association for the physical and emotional fulfillment of a people. For others, the individual is the basic unit of society, because individuals enjoy their own agency, even if they work towards a common end.

The basic unit of society in Islam, however, appears to be the heart. Being in a family is an ideal state, but it is not the reality for many people, nor is it wajib, nor does a family have complete agency. But similarly, to say that the individual is the basis is to assume that society is an amalgamation of separate, competing, selfish, and divergent people. The reality is that people are very connected - by blood, by tribe, by religion, by party, and by common interest. The heart in Islam does not deny the agency of the individual, but it is much more than individualism. It connects a person to his surroundings, and a cultivated heart is connected to that universal intellect (العقل الكلي) that is mindful of God and His divine authority.

And so the goal of a society should not just be productivity, because a productivity that ignores goodness is destructive. Rather, the goal of a society should be to maintain its humanity. A hard heart is vain, greedy, and heedless, while a soft heart is selfless, compassionate, and seeking constant betterment. If the basic unit is cultivated, our societal and political affairs will change overnight (13:11). Everything else in society - our families, our workplaces, our entertainment, our religion, and our social lives - should all be geared towards maintaining and improving the basic unit of our society.

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Qa'im

By: Haziq Sheikh in dedication to Bar Salka

The Ahl al-Bayt  عليهم السلامwere first silhouettes (ashbāḥ) of nūr in the realm of Um al-Kitāb without souls, but supported by a single spirit, the Rūḥ al-Qudus (The Holy Spirit).1 The Prophets and Awiyā’  عليهم جميعا سلام الله  are distinguished from the believers in that they are created with the Rūḥ al-Qudus in them, a bridge between their human, historic selves and their primordial created selves as that single light, Nūr Muammadī. 2 It is through this rūḥ that Rasulallah صلى الله عليه وآله carried prophethood, and it is this spirit that migrated to the Imams عليهم السلام, one after the other, shouldering imāmah3 as they are not prophets. It is through this rūḥ that the Khawāṣṣ (Special Ones) of Allah recognize everything.4 It is their link to knowledge of that which extends from beneath the Lords Throne to what lies beneath the moist soils of the Earth.5

Asbāṭ b. Sālim asked Imam Ṣādiq عليه السلام, Are you, Ahl al-Bayt, ever asked about something and you do not know about it? The Imam replied, Seldom is it like that. He asked further, Then what do you do? Rūḥ al-Qudus imparts that knowledge to us. 6

The imah of the Ahl al-Bayt عليهم السلام is grounded in knowledge (ilm) and the rūḥs relationship of conveying knowledge to them is manifest. Through Rūḥ al-Qudus, Allah has guaranteed that they shall never perform any kabīrah. 7 This spirit is distinguished from the other spirits created in the Awliyā’ of Allah in that it does not succumb to unconsciousness, never engages in that which has no benefit, is never distracted, nor heedless.8 Through it with this expanded, pristine consciousness, the Imam sees what is on the land and seas of the easts and wests of the Earth.9

Although Rūḥ al-Qudus is in the ujjah of the era, it can be with others simultaneously and benefit them. When Amīr al-Muminīn عليه السلام was sent to Yemen to judge between the people, if an issue had not yet been revealed in the Quran, Rūḥ al-Qudus would impart that knowledge to him while he was not the ujjah at that time.10 This rūḥ is not limited in benefiting the Khawāṣṣ, it can be with believers and assist them. The poet that recites a line for the Ahl al-Bayt is supported by this rūḥ it can impart words to them so long as they defend with their poetry their cause, like Da`bal al-Khuzā’ī, assān b. Thābit, and Kumayt.11

The Ahl al-Bayt عليهم السلام are distinct individuals with their own unique idiosyncrasies, but are favored by Allah with the singular spirit, Rūḥ al-Qudus, that transfers from one ujjah into the next. Just as the armaments and relics of the Prophets and Messengers are inherited from one Imam to the next as a sign of their authority, this rūḥ is a mechanism of their divine connection to the realms beyond this dunyā. Although the Qudamā’ have associated beliefs indicating the movement of a single spirit or soul across multiple individuals with extremist trends, there is a clear similarity between those ideas and the migration of the Rūḥ al-Qudus; an idea present in our core texts incorporated as orthodox. Perhaps we can better contextualize narrations that seem to reflect doctrines typically linked to the ghulāt through developing an intimate understanding of wilāyah and its cosmological underpinnings.

1.    al-Kāfī (إن الله أول ما خلق خلق محمد صلى الله عليه وآله وعترته الهداة المهتدين، فكانوا أشباح نور بين يدي الله)

2.    al-Kāfī (جعل فيهم خمسة أرواح)

3.    al-Kāfī (وروح القدس فبه حمل النبوة فإذا قبض النبيصلى الله عليه وآله انتقل روح القدس فصار إلى الامام)

4.    al-Kāfī (أيدهم بروح القدس فبه عرفوا الاشياء)

5.    al-Kāfī (فبروح القدس يا جابر عرفوا ما تحت العرش إلى ما تحت الثرى)

6.    Baṣā’ir al-Darajāt (عن ابى الجهم عن اسباط عن ابى عبد الله عليه السلام قال قلت تسئلون عن الشئ فلا يكون عندكم علمه قال ربما كان ذلك قلت كيف تصنعون قال تلقانا به روح القدس)

7.    Baṣā’ir (وروح القدس من سكن فيه فانه لا يعمل بكبيرة ابدا)

8.    al-Kāfī (وروح القدس لا ينام ولا يغفل ولا يلهو ولا يزهو (2) والاربعة الارواح تنام وتغفل وتزهو وتلهو)

9.    Baṣā’ir (وروح القدس ثابت يرى به ما في شرق الارض وغربها وبرها وبحرها قلت جعلت فداك يتناول الامام ما ببغداد بيده قال نعم و ما دون العرش)

10.  Baṣā’ir (عن ابى بصير قال قلت لابي عبد الله عليه السلام ان الناس يقولون ان امير المؤمنين عليه السلام كان يقول وجهنى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله إلى اليمن والوحى ينزل على النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم بالمدينة فحكمت بينهم بحكم الله حتى لقد كان الحكم يظهر فقال صدقوا قلت وكيف ذاك جعلت فداك فقال امير المؤمنين عليه السلام إذا وردت عليه قضية لم ينزل الحكم فيها في كتاب الله تلقاه به روح القدس)

11.  Uyūn Akhbār al-Riḍā (يا خزاعي نطق روح القدس على لسانك بهذين البيتين) and al-Kāfī (يا كميت لو كان عندنا مال لاعطيناك منه ولكن لك ما قال رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) لحسان بن ثابت لن يزال معك روح القدس ما ذببت عنا)
 

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Qa'im

There is a common misconception among modern Muslim men that they will be rewarded with white women in Paradise. This attitude has even caused some to justify their preference of light-skin women and Western women through Islamic texts that describe beautiful women in this world and the Hereafter. They put white skin on a pedestal, which both sidelines women with darker complexions, and objectifies women with lighter skin. I would like to investigate the claim that the heavenly maidens of Paradise are essentially "white girls".

Heaven is unlike anything

In the hadith literature, Paradise is described as what the eye has not seen, what the ear has not heard, and what the heart has not imagined. ( مَا لَا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَ لَا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَ لَا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ ). You will be an entirely new creation in Paradise, which will cause those who suffered most in this world to completely forget their suffering. Therefore the descriptions of the pleasures of Paradise are, at most, symbols of things that we cannot exactly know.

The meaning of abyad

The word that modern Arabs use to refer to the colour "white" ( أبيض ) has certainly been used to describe the women of Paradise. In one narration, the Prophet (s) says that the women of Paradise will be every shade of "white" ( ان في الجنة نهرا حافتاه الابكار من كل بيضاء ). In another narration, Imam ar-Rida recites a poem in which he describes beautiful "white" women ( أَرَى الِبيضَ الْحِسَانَ يَجِدْنَ عَنِّي ). Other narrations associate this "whiteness" with pleasure ( سعادة الرجل أن يكشف الثوب عن امرأة بيضاء ).

But what does all of this mean? Abyad comes from the root word bayada ( بيض ), which means "to lay eggs". An egg is a bayda ( بيضة ), and eggs can be white or brown, depending on the colour of the feathers of the chicken. In Arabic, there is no special word for either type of egg, both are given the name bayda, which is related to the word for "white".

Several Arabic dictionaries have interpreted abyad to mean pure, fair, and without blemish; rather than strictly "white". Here are a few references:

In Lisan al-`Arab:

إذا قالت العرب فلان أبيض، وفلانة بيضاء، فالمعنى نقاء العرض من الدنس والعيوب لا يريدون به بياض اللون، ولكنهم يريدون المدح بالكرم، ونقاء العرض من العيوب وإذا قالوا: فلان أبيض الوجه، وفلانة بيضاء الوجه، أرادوا نقاء اللون من الكلف والسواد الشائن

“When the Arabs say that a man is white or a woman is white, they mean that he has an appearance that is pure and clear from defects. They don’t mean that he has a white complexion, but they mean that someone has an appearance that is pure from defects. When they say that a man or woman has a white face, they mean that their colour is pure from blemish and darkness.

”العرب لا تقول : رجل أبيض من بياض اللون إنما الأبيض عندهم الطاهر النقي من العيوب”

The Arab does not say that a man is white in terms of the colour white. Rather, the "white" for them is he who is pure from any defects.

Abu Tayyib al-Lughawi says in Kitab al-Idad al-`Arab:

و انما الأبيض من الناس البعيد من الدنس، النقي من العيب

The whitest of people are those who are far from impurity, and are purified from defects.

Ibn Atheer says in an-Nahaya fii Ghareeb al-Hadith:

الغر : جمع الأغر ، من الغرة : بياض الوجه ، يريد بياض وجوههم بنور الوضوء يوم القيامة

The innocent (al-ghurr); its plural is al-aghur, from al-ghurra: a white face, meaning, a face whitened by light and illumination on the Day of Resurrection.

al-Dhahabi says in Siyar A`laam an-Nubala':

“إن العرب إذا قالت: فلان أبيض ، فإنهم يريدون الحنطي اللون بحلية سوداء

When Arabs say a person is white, they mean tawny in colour with black hair.

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So according to these dictionaries, "whiteness" in a person is either: (1) purity in their reputation, (2) purity in their appearance with no blemishes or defects (scars, birth marks, discolouration, wrinkles, moles, bumps), (3) tawny or wheat-coloured skin, (4) light and illumination, (5) a strong contrast between their face and hair colours.

The meaning of hoor al-`ayn

The Quran describes the houri (hoor al-`ayn) as a heavenly beauty that has been gifted exclusively to a good, believing person. The Quran does not provide much more detail than that. The hoor al-`ayn can be translated as "one with contrasting eyes", and it is often tied to the related word hawra', which refers to a person who has a strong contrast between her dark pupil and white sclera (white part of the eye). If this is the meaning of hooriya, then her "whiteness" may have more to do with her eyes than her skin. The word hawar can also mean "to bleach", but also "to tan". The same word is used in the Quran to refer to the apostles of Jesus, who were "purified" from evil ( فَسُمِّيَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ حَوَارِيِّينَ لانَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُخْلَصِينَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَمُخْلِصِينَ لِغَيْرِهِمْ مِنْ أَوْسَاخِ الذُّنُوبِ ). The word therefore may also be an indication to the maiden's spiritual purity and not just her physical beauty.

The word hoor also means to change, alter, remodel, and modify, so perhaps one feature of this heavenly beauty is constant rejuvenation and transformation.

Another related word means to converse and discuss - it is possible that there is more to the houri than her looks!

I have heard that there may be a relationship between hooriya and hayara, which means "to be confused, bewildered, perplexed, baffled, embarrassed", because the believer will be perplexed by the startling beauty of the hoor al-`ayn.

Remember that we cannot imagine Paradise, so the skintone of the heavenly beauty would also be beyond comprehension.

The word for "pale" in Arabic is actually yellow

When Arabs describe a pale complexion, such as a pale face of an ill person, they use the word musfar (مصفر), which means "yellowed", rather than saying he has been whitened.

The Prophet's colour

Many hadiths describe the Prophet Muhammad (s) as being abyad, but these could be descriptions of the fairness of his skin or the purity of his character. Other hadiths say that the Prophet was reddish. To reconcile both sets of narrations, one can say that he had a tawny or wheatish complexion, which was light in Arabia but unlike the pale western Europeans. While modern Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples have a monopoly on "whiteness" today, most people in the Middle East would have never met such people by the 7th century.

White faces on the Day of Resurrection

The Quran describes the believers' faces on the Day of Resurrection as "white" (3:106), but this will be due to their illumination. Some hadiths describe that the body parts washed in wudu will glow in the Hereafter, which includes the face, and other hadiths say that the wudu washes sins away from a person. Similarly, other narrations discuss the illumination of the faces of those who stay up to pray at night. These are not references to pigment.

"Whiteness" will be due to light, and the colour of light, which was found in the Sun, Moon, and fire, ranges from orange to light yellow.

Lady Fatima was a human houri

Several narrations describe Lady Fatima (as) as a human houri. Her houri nature in Paradise was a dazzling light ( نورا ساطعا ) - first she was beneath the Throne, and then she resided within a fruit in Paradise - both in the form of a beautiful lady of light.

Paradise is much more than this world

In conclusion, there is much more to look forward to in the next world than conquering a colonial inferiority complex. Muslims have a very complicated relationship with white folks - from lust, to hatred, to jealousy, to emulation - and our relationships with other races are no where near as complex. The first step to overcome something is to realize and understand it. Allah gave us all of our hues so that we may learn about one another, and understand that the Creator of spectrums is beyond all spectrums Himself. If the hoor al-`ayn is simply a pretty white girl, then she would not be a sufficient reward for the believers, since there are plenty of them in this dunya. Paradise is more than a brothel, open bar, and buffet. It's a chance to gain true proximity to Allah, through His Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt, and to gain gnosis. The journey into timelessness starts in this world, and it culminates in the Hereafter.

Qa'im

As a Muslim Canadian outsider, the U.S's race problem is blaring and obvious to me whenever I visit. Even in the more liberal states, whites and blacks live in separate neighbourhoods, and the black neighbouroods are poorer and not looked after by the city. Whites and blacks have very different jobs and roles in society.

After over 300 years of slavery, 99 years of segregation, and 52 years of tumultuous race relations, the race issue still dominates public discourse in America. While most of the world has normalized relations with the descendants of former slaves, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in America was unique in its shear brutality. African Americans were stripped of their names, languages, cultures, and religions, and were deprived of a knowledge of self that other peoples had. "Black" became synonymous with cruelty, ugliness, and bleakness, while Social Darwinist whites put themselves in a position of natural superiority.

African Americans fought long and hard to gain the same civil rights and liberties as ordinary Americans. Since the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 however, the race issue has remained salient, with spikes in relevance every so often. In general, black people still suffer indiscriminately from police brutality, high rates of incarceration, the breakdown of the family, and lower access to education, health care, and high-paying jobs. Some of these issues stem out of policies that overlook African American issues, while others are more social. Several movements were established to redress these serious issues, such as the NAACP, Urban League, the Rainbow PUSH coalition, as well as the Nation of Islam and other religious organizations. In recent years, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has become the leading activist group on the streets and on social media, bringing awareness to issues in the African American community and seeking to redress them through progressive policies.

Hamza Yusuf recently suggested that Muslims should not join BLM, in fear that more identity politics would exacerbate race relations in America. The Shaykh went on to naively use trigger phrases like "black on black violence", "more whites are shot by police", and "police are not all racist", which had him labelled as a racist by legions of hipster Muslims on Twitter. As many have pointed out, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf comes from a pretty privileged background - he grew up in a wealthy neighbourhood, his relatives were wealthy, his parents were well-educated, and he went to private schools (see here). His family marched with the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War, and explored different world religions, but like a lot of 60-70s hippies, the Shaykh is probably still a bit more out of touch with the working class than the average person. Still though, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has actually lived in with bedouins in Africa, and he has spoken about poverty, inequality, and the civil rights movement on multiple occasions. His resume, as a Shaykh that balances the best of Western education with traditional Sunni scholarship, is far more impressive than that of most Western Muslim speakers.

On one hand, Hamza Yusuf could have worded himself better to address the very real race problem in the United States. Yes, there are anti-discriminatory laws in place, but clearly a lot more needs to be done to redress the race issue - body cameras on cops, judicial reform, and affirmative action in police departments in minority communities are a good step. But the onslaught against Shaykh Hamza has a few people scratching their heads - first off, why don't we get the same outrage when a Muslim speaker says something insensitive about Shiites, or when a speaker gleans over racist or sexist injustices in the Muslim world? More pertinently though, is what Shaykh Hamza said wrong? Hamza Yusuf is a Sufi, which attracts a lot of liberal ears to listen to him, but he is a traditionalist and a conservative at his core, and so every now and then he will say something that will get this type of reaction (this time being the climax).

Hamza Yusuf's argument is, if BLM is just an angry rebuke to the system, with few clear policy goals, then it has the potential of making problems worse - more violence against police officers (more police have died in 2016 than in the last 5 years, some during BLM protests), and worse race relations in coming months and years. BLM is more than just the issue of police brutality - it is a living, breathing organization with its own motives and goals. For the purpose of this article, it is important for our minds to mentally separate BLM and police brutality for a moment. BLM in essence is a cadre of identity politics, which highlights one's race or gender as an essential quality in a person (rather than an accidental quality), and very much sees everything through the lens of racism. Hamza Yusuf said that this only helps create the type of "whitelash" we saw with the election of Trump, which will only make things worse for minorities and not better. Hamza Yusuf once said, ethics should be rooted in verbs and adverbs, not nouns and pronouns. I agree with this, and while racism and white privilege is real, we should talk about the *issues* that plague society and not just about identity.

This controversy has caused me to think on multiple fronts. With regards to the Muslim community, it is clear that most Muslim youth identify with leftist politics, since it is multicultural and inclusive. Unfortunately, that comes with baggage: secularism, individualism, naturalism and religious skepticism, identity politics, LGBT rights, hookup culture and the normalization of sex, third wave feminism, body positivism, political correctness, and in general pro-revolutionary sentiments in almost every situation where even mild grievances exist. Balancing this with the Islamic tradition, which can be opposite on most of these issues, is particularly troublesome. The hipster Muslima with a rainbow scarf and a Guevara shirt marching at a Sl*tWalk is becoming increasingly more normal in Western Muslim communities.

I also began thinking about how Black Lives Matter differs from earlier black organizations. There's no doubt that BLM is the cool kid on the block, whom every Muslim revolutionary wants to embrace (Jonathan AC Brown, Linda Sarsour, Suhaib Webb to name a few). However, are their goals the same as the black community, and are they consistent with Islam?

In the 1990s, we saw another spike in relevance of the race issue, and this time, it was the Nation of Islam (NOI) under Louis Farrakhan that was the primary "race communicator" for black people in America. The NOI is a black nationalist American Muslim sect that differed from traditional Islamic views on theology and race. Irregardless of where the NOI may have deviated, the Nation of Islam organized a grassroots movement that brought black civil rights groups, religious groups, and activists together at the 1995 Million Man March. The Million Man March was a historic rally at Washington DC that brought leading African American figures together to demand justice and reproach, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Ben Omar, and Minister Farrakhan.

The Million Man March approached the issue of African American suffering in a very different way than BLM. First off, the March was only for black males, who were seen as the major agents of potential change in the Afro-American community. Over 72% of black children are born out of wedlock. Fatherlessness, which Hamza Yusuf mentions in his later apology lecture, is detrimental to any family, and leads to higher rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health problems. Considering the high rates of gang violence, incarceration, drug abuse, and unprotected sex among black males, any solution to the plight of African Americans must include black men. Secondly, the Million Man March sought to bring all religious organizations together to seek repentance and God's support. As people of faith, we don't see all suffering simply as a result of natural causes; rather some suffering can be a divine trial or chastisement, by which we must seek God's succor. The event's major themes were "Lessons from the Past", "Affirmation and Responsibility", and "Atonement and Reconciliation", and it was believed that the very real injustices that exist in America would only be solved through a return to traditional values. Thirdly, the Million Man March gave the means for thousands of black people to register as voters, making the black community a strong political bloc in the American electoral system. The event ended with a pledge to God that they would be good community members from that day forward.

Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, has a very different vision for black America. It is, of course, absolutely secular, and blames the collective suffering of black people on white supremacy. Furthermore, not only does BLM sideline black fathers, but it ignores them completely on their website. BLM has a lot to say about the LGBT community and [presumably single] mothers, its guiding principles leaves straight black males out completely, despite the documented problems that fatherless homes can cause in the lives of youth. BLM even sees traditional "nuclear families" as somehow white supremacist, even though families in Africa are largely patriarchal and nuclear. Yusra Khogali, the leader of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter (remember, Hamza Yusuf made his comments in Toronto), infamously tweeted about "killing men and whitefolks", and shared articles telling women to avoid conscientious black men. Khogali recently protested against Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, for refusing to use genderless pronouns like "xe" instead of "he" or "she". BLM also hijacked the Gay Pride Parade until their demands on the Pride organization were met, and hijacked a Bernie Sanders event in 2015. Millennial organizations like BLM are the reason why the alt-right exists, who also use the same frame of identity politics to identify as white nationalists to attack Muslims, blacks, women, and others. Contributing to the frame of identity politics can awaken the sleeping white-nationalist giant in Europe and North America, and awaken far right-wing voices that want to push all minorities away.

Not only does BLM stand for things that are totally irreconcilable with Islam, such as the LGBT issue, but it is devoid of the religiosity found in other black movements, the participation of straight black men, and it does not responsibly address issues within the black community. It is focused on "fighting the system", rather than clamping down on a hookup culture that is destined to plague another generation with fatherless households and STDs. Rather than solving the problems related black fathers, it ignores their issues and fails to address them. It is common to find feminist circles that paint black fathers as irresponsible misogynists that are part of the problem and not the solution - this attitude can only make things worse.

At the very least, the Nation of Islam encouraged a self-help approach: they promoted strong family values, they started rehabilitation programs for those affected by drugs and alcohol, they deployed their Fruit of Islam unit to stop riots and gang violence, they established their own schools and curricula, and they rid their community of the social ills that affect other black communities. BLM on the other hand is a Soros-funded intersectional liberal organization with an agenda that does not jive with Abrahamic religion.

When women, Latinos, blacks, Muslims, and homosexuals began popularizing identity politics, it was a natural consequence that right-wing whites would start doing the same. Some people honestly believe that unless you are black, then you aren't capable of commenting on anything to do with the black community. A white person commenting on black affairs, even to defend black people, is considered a racist by liberals because he is "whitesplaining". Franchesca Ramsey recently appeared in a video arguing that very point. The result of this thinking however is potentially devastating. It means that white people will no longer speak up against racism, because they don't want to appear racist or patronizing. It also means that educated people with legitimate views will be silenced simply due to their race. It also limits outsider perspectives, which are always necessary in a democracy, as every group should be critiqued and held accountable by outsiders. Strange enough, it's also kind of contradictory to multiculturalism - by saying only black people can speak about black issues, and women can only be feminists, and males are inherently privileged, you end up segregating society further. A white male like Hamza Yusuf speaking about race relations or women's issues does not contradict the ethics of our religion - I'm not saying he's right or wrong, I'm saying that he has the right to speak on these issues especially as a trained scholar.

Let's keep in mind that the Muslim community in America in the 60s and 70s was largely an organic one (the biggest being Warith Deen Muhammad's movement), made up of working-class African Americans and white converts. The early Muslim immigrants to America even joined these communities and worked closely with them. But the big influx of bourgeois Muslim immigrants in the 80s and 90s, with their foreign funding (from Saudi and elsewhere), established their own separate communities, bought out the existing communities / swallowed them up, then ostracized the native population, until they almost fizzed out completely. Now, some of those same upper-middle class children of immigrants think they can be pro-black because of their liberal arts degree, a Malcolm quote and a BLM march, yet they themselves would never marry a black person, or volunteer with the homeless or at a prison, or mingle with working-class people in general. As someone who has decent connections within the African American Muslim community in the U.S, I can tell you that these second-generation Muslims really mean nothing to them, and often do more harm than good.

Overall, I agree with Mehdi that Muslims need to be doing more outreach with other communities - that includes the black community. We should also address racism in our own communities, which is more outward than in the average white community. In Trump's America, we cannot afford to stand alone; we need to do more for our cities and our Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We can reach out to black churches, support black businesses, and join civil rights organizations. At the same time, we cannot fall into the trap of supporting causes that are antithetical to our tradition.

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Qa'im

Jesus' Wool Garment

A Muslim account of Jesus Christ's ascension from Tafsir al-`Ayashi:

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (a) said, "Jesus the son of Mary ascended whilst wearing a rabbinical garment made of wool spun from the yarn of Mary, the weaving of Mary, and the sewing of Mary. When he came to the heaven, it was called, 'O Jesus! Remove the frills of this world from yourself.'" (رفع عيسى بن مريم عليه بمدرعة (4) صوف من غزل مريم، ومن نسج مريم ومن خياطة مريم فلما انتهى إلى السماء نودى يا عيسى ألق عنك زينة الدنيا.)

This reference is actually very interesting. This expression, "rabbinical garment", has a very specific connotation in Jewish mysticism. There is a concrete term in Kabbalah, חלוקא דרבנן, precisely "rabbinical garment", which refers to the ethereal body of saints, somewhat similar to the body of people we see in the dream, visible and tangible yet not material in our crude sense. It is linked to Shechinah. Removing the garment may indicate ascension to higher levels beyond. When angels appeared in human form to Abraham, there were also wearing some type of "rabbinical garment". It works as a bridge between physical and spiritual.

Of course, Jesus in Muslim hadith literature is linked to themes of asceticism, and in this narration, Jesus is being asked to shed his attachment to this sentimental article of clothing before gaining proximity to God. Removing this rabbinical garment may be a symbol for Jesus' exit from the imaginal realm (which is between the fully material and the fully immaterial) and entry into the divine presence.

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Qa'im

Trees are People

Trees play a prominent role in many religious texts. With their roots in the ground and their branches stretching toward the sky, trees are linked to the heavens and the Earth, the spiritual and the material, and the vertical and the horizontal. They are like an axis or a pole that stands between both worlds. Its greenery is a symbol of life, its shade is a symbol of comfort, and its fruits are a symbol of fertility. As deciduous trees shed their leaves in some seasons, they are resurrected in others, demonstrating God's power to bring life to the dead.

Ancient people drew parallels between trees and people. A tree's fruit became a symbol of one's offspring, deeds, or knowledge, and a diagram detailing your family "roots" is a "family tree". There are many Islamic examples where this same parallel is made:

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "A hypocrite is like the trunk of a palm tree. When its owner intends to use it in construction, it does not fit in the place he wants it to fit. He then tries to fit it elsewhere, but it still does not fit. So in the end, he throws it in the fire." ( قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآلهمثل المنافق مثل جذع النخل أراد صاحبه أن ينتفع به في بعض بنائه فلم يستقم له في الموضع الذي أراد فحوله في موضع آخر فلم يستقم له فكان آخر ذلك أن أحرقه بالنار )

The trunk in this example is the hypocrite. The carpenter sees that it is a trunk, and potentially useful, but it does not meet his requirements. Similarly, Allah tests and tries the hypocrite, but when He sees no good and no use in him, He punishes the hypocrite with hellfire.

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "The believers are like sprouting plants that are swirled back and forth by the winds, as the believers are also turned and bent by pain and illness. The hypocrites are like iron rods that are not affected by anything, until they meet death and are shattered by it." ( قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله مثل المؤمن كمثل خامة الزرع تكفئها الرياح كذا وكذا وكذلك المؤمن تكفئه
الأوجاع والأمراض ومثل المنافق كمثل الإرزبة المستقيمة التي لا يصيبها شيء حتى يأتيه الموت فيقصفه قصفا
)

Just as the trees and plants are abused by strong gusts of wind, the believer is tried with his desires (hawa, هوى, which also means "wind"). The hypocrite however is not swirled by the wind because he lives in complete heedlessness (ghafla), and is stiffened by his wickedness, until Allah destroys him.

“And those who believed and did righteous deeds will be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein by permission of their Lord; and their greeting therein will be, "Peace!" Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability.” (14:24-26)

Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] was asked about the verse, "as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into the sky." (14:24) He said, "The Messenger of Allah (s) is its root, Amir al-Mu'mineen is its branches, the Imams from their progeny are its twigs, the knowledge of the Imams are its fruits, and their believing Shi`a are its leaves. By Allah, when a believer gives birth, a leaf sprouts on it; and when a believers dies, a leaf falls from it." ( سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن قول الله: " كشجرة طيبة أصلها ثابت وفرعها في السماء " قال: فقال: رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله أصلها، وأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرعها، والائمة من ذريتهما أغصانها وعلم الائمة ثمرتها وشيعتهم المؤمنون ورقها، هل فيها فضل؟ قال: قلت: لا والله، قال: والله إن المؤمن ليولد فتورق ورقة فيها وإن المؤمن ليموت فتسقط ورقة منها. )

This is an interesting exegesis, and it is crucial to understanding the Quran's analogy. Allah says that a good word is like a good tree. As we know, Jesus (as) was called a "word" (3:45), and in Shi`i exegesis, a word is a person, because Allah summons a person into existence by simply saying a word ("be!", kun faya koon). Allah then compares a goodly word to a goodly tree (shajaratin tayyiba), and this tree may indeed be the Blessed Tree ("shajarat tuba") described elsewhere in the Quran and hadith literature, as the previous verse is describing Paradise, and tuba and tayyiba come from the same root word. The Blessed Tree is one of the best rewards in Paradise, it is said to be in the house of `Ali b. Abi Talib ( دخلت الجنة رأيت في الجنة شجرة طوبى أصلها في دار علي عليه السلام ). After all, a Paradise (jannah) in Arabic is a garden with trees. Either way, the hadith above says that this tree is the Prophet, his Ahl al-Bayt, and their followers. Another hadith compares the Ahl al-Bayt to the trees of Paradise:

Allah said to Moses regarding the Prophet (s), "You are from his Nation if you recognize His status and the status of his Ahl al-Bayt. His example and the example of his Ahl al-Bayt in the creation are like that of the trees in the Gardens of Paradise - their leaves do not shed, and their flavours do not change." ( يا موسى أنت من امته إذا عرفت منزلته ومنزلة أهل بيته ، إن مثله ومثل أهل بيته فيمن خلقت كمثل الفردوس في الجنان لا ينتشر ( 3 ) ورقها ولا يتغير طعمها )

The trees in this example are evergreen tree with perpetually fresh fruit, because life in Paradise is everlasting, and taking from the Ahl al-Bayt's knowledge will result in eternal bliss.

Just as there is a Blessed Tree in Paradise, there is a cursed tree in Hellfire.

“Is Paradise a better accommodation, or the Tree of Zaqqum? Verily, we have made it a torment for the wrongdoers. Verily, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of Hell. Its emerging fruit is as if it was the heads of devils. And verily, they will eat from it and fill their bellies with it. Then verily, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water. Then verily, their return will be to Hell.” (37:62-68)

An Umayyad man named Sa`d b. `Abd al-Malik used to visit Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a). The Imam used to call him "Sa`d the Good". Sa`d entered upon Imam al-Baqir [a], and Sa`d began weeping profusely. The Imam asked, "Why do you weep, Sa`d?" Sa`d said, "How can I not weep when I come from the lineage of the cursed tree of the Qur’an?" So Imam al-Baqir [a] said to him, "You are not from them. You are an Umayyad, but from us, the Ahl al-Bayt. Have you not heard the saying of Allah, speaking of Abraham? 'Whosoever follows me is from me.' (14:36)" ( دخل سعد بن عبد الملك وكان أبو جعفر عليه السلام يسميه سعد الخير وهو من ولد عبد العزيز بن مروان على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فبينا ينشج كما تنشج النساء (3) قال:
فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: ما يبكيك يا سعد؟ قال وكيف لا أبكي وأنا من الشجرة الملعونة في القرآن، فقال له: لست منهم أنت أموي منا أهل البيت أما سمعت قول الله عز وجل يحكي عن إبراهيم: " فمن تبعني فإنه مني )

This Tree of Zaqqum has fruits that look like the heads of devils. Perhaps this is because the devils, both human and jinn, are the offspring (fruit) of evil. In this hadith, the oppressors from the Umayyads are described as the flesh-and-blood Tree of Zaqqum. They are the family that is juxtaposed to the Ahl al-Bayt in heaven.

The Messenger of Allah (s) would kiss Lady Fatima [a] frequently; and he said, "When I was taken up to heaven, I entered Paradise, and Gabriel brought me close to the Blessed Tree (Tuba). He gave me a fruit from it and I ate it. Then, Allah turned it into water in my loins. So when I descended to the Earth and went to Khadija, she became pregnant with Fatima. Whenever I long for Paradise, I kiss her, and I never kiss her without finding the fragrance of the Blessed Tree upon her, for she is [both] a human and a dark-eyed heavenly maiden." ( وعنه قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله يكثر تقبيل فاطمة عليها السلام، فأنكرت ذلك عايشة، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: يا عايشة اني لما اسرى بي إلى السماء دخلت الجنة فأدناني جبرئيل من شجرة طوبى، وناولني من ثمارها فأكلته، فحول الله ذلك ماء في ظهري فلما هبطت إلى الأرض واقعت خديجة فحملت بفاطمة، وكلما اشتقت إلى الجنة قبلتها وما قبلتها قط الا وجدت رائحة شجرة طوبى فهي حوراء انسية )

If the Blessed Tree is truly the Ahl al-Bayt, then it would make sense that Lady Fatima would also come from that tree.

Imam `Ali [a] said, "The tree whose trunk is soft has thick branches." (وقال عليه السلام : مَنْ لاَنَ عُودُهُ كَثُفَتْ أَغْصَانُهُ.)

The person who is haughty and ill-tempered can never succeed in making his surroundings pleasant. His acquaintances will feel wretched and sick of him. But if a person is good-tempered and sweet-tongued people will like to get close to him and befriend him. At the time of need they will prove to be his helpers and supporters whereby he can make his life a success.

Imam `Ali (a) said, "Prayer sheds sins like the shedding of leaves off trees" (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 109)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, "When a believer meets the believer and shakes hands, Allah looks to them, and sins fall from their faces like leaves fall from trees." ( إن المؤمن ليلقى المؤمن فيصافحه، فلا يزال الله ينظر إليهما والذنوب تتحات عن وجوههما كما يتحات الورق من الشجر )

A man asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) about the verse, "They made for him (Solomon) what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells ..." (34:13) The Imam replied, "These were not statues of men or women, but rather, they were statues of trees and their like." ( قلت لأبي جعفر (عليه السلام): "يعملون له ما يشاء - من محاريب و تماثيل و جفان كالجواب" قال: ما هي تماثيل الرجال و النساء و لكنها تماثيل الشجر و شبهه )

Statues are normally ornaments that are shaped like people. In this exegesis, the statues of Solomon were in the form of trees instead, as though trees can take the place of people.

Allah said to Jesus [a], "O Jesus! How numerous are the humans, yet how few in number are the patient. The trees are many, but the good ones are few, so do not be deceived by the beauty of the tree until you have tasted its fruit." (يا عيسى ما أكثر البشر وأقل عدد من صبر، الاشجار كثيرة وطيبها قليل، فلا يغرنك حسن شجرة حتى تذوق ثمرها.)

This direct comparison between trees and people is one that can also be found in the New Testament, where Jesus allegedly says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20) The fruits in this example are the actions of individuals, which are a better indicator to a person's inner nature than his appearance.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, regarding His saying: “So man should look to his food” (80:24). "[He should look] to his knowledge which he takes and whom he takes it from." ( عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام في قوله تعالى " فلينظر الانسان إلى طعامه " قال: إلى علمه الذي يأخذه عمن يأخذه )

This is very pertinent. Just as a person may consume the fruit of a tree, people are also consumers of knowledge. This hadith is a warning to the believers to take their knowledge from the correct source. Taking knowledge from the immaculate luminaries (a) will give them everlasting life in Paradise.

Jesus [a] said, "Wisdom is established with humility, not with arrogance, just as plants grow in plain, soft ground but not on hard ground and rocks." ( قال عيسى عليه السلام: بالتواضع تعمر الحكمة لا بالتكبر، وكذلك في السهل ينبت الزرع لا في الجبل )

Just as a tree can only grow on soft soil, the believer can only truly develop if humility is his foundation.

Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, "The one you seek and have hopes for will verily rise from Mecca. And he will not rise from Mecca until he sees what he loves, even if it happens that parts of a tree eats [its other] parts." (ابن عقدة، عن حميد بن زياد، عن الحسن بن محمد الحضرمي عن جعفر بن محمد(ع)، وعن يونس بن يعقوب، عن سالم المكي، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة أن الذي تطلبون وترجون إنما يخرج من مكة وما يخرج من مكة حتى يرى الذي يحب ولو صار أن يأكل الاعضاء أعضاء الشجرة . )

This narration is describing the rise of the Mahdi, who would come during a great schism between the ruling family of the Middle East. Perhaps this tree eating itself is a description of the infighting between the rulers of that time, which would indeed be pleasing to the Mahdi.

There are many other examples that can be applied, from the story of Adam, to the mi`raj, to other stories involving trees in the Quran. Something to keep in mind is that the Ahl al-Bayt do not speak aimlessly - their examples are full of wisdom, and their examples are full of meaning. If one devotes himself or herself to more than a cursory reading of the scriptures, one will better understand the meaning of these symbols and find intricate connections between these examples.

May Allah give us the Blessed Tree in Paradise in the Hereafter.

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Qa'im

Friends of the Mahdi

A man said to Imam as-Sadiq [a], "May I be your sacrifice! By Allah, I love you and love whoever loves you. O my master; how numerous your Shi`a are!"

The Imam replied, “Would you please mention them?”

The man said, “They are too many.”

The Imam replied, “Could you count them?”

The man said, “They are too many to count.”

Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, “If the number [of true Shi`a] reaches a little more than three hundred, then what you desire (i.e. divine government) will happen. Our Shi`a are those whose voices do not pass beyond their ears, nor does their zeal go beyond their body, nor do they praise us openly, nor do they quarrel with anyone because of us, nor do they sit with anyone who criticizes us, nor do they talk to anyone who abuses us, nor do they love anyone who hates us, nor do they hate anyone who loves us."

The man said, “Then how do we deal with these different groups, who pretend that they are Shi`a?”

The Imam replied, “They will be tried, purified and distinguished. Years come that will perish them, a sword that will kill them and disagreement that will scatter them. Our real Shia are those, who do not growl like a dog, do not covet like a crow, and do not ask people for alms even if they die of hunger.”

The man asked, “May I be your sacrifice! Where can I find such a kind of people?”

The Imam replied, “You can find them in the far sides of the world. They are those, whose lives are so simple, whose abodes move from place to another, who, if they are seen they, will not be known, if they are absent, they will not be missed, if they become ill, they will not be visited, if they propose to a woman, they will not be married, and if they die, their funerals will not be attended. It is they, who divide their wealth among them, who visit each others' graves, and who never disagree even if their countries are different.” 

حدثنا أبو سليمان أحمد بن هوذة الباهلي، قال: حدثنا أبو إسحاق إبراهيم بن إسحاق النهاوندي سنة ثلاث وسبعين ومائتين ((5))، قال: حدثنا عبد الله بن حماد الأنصاري سنة تسع وعشرين ومائتين، عن رجل، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام) أنه دخل عليه بعض أصحابه، فقال له:
" جعلت فداك، إني والله أحبك وأحب من يحبك، يا سيدي ما أكثر شيعتكم.
فقال له: أذكرهم.
فقال: كثير.
فقال: تحصيهم؟
فقال: هم أكثر من ذلك.
فقال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام): أما لو كملت العدة الموصوفة ثلاثمائة وبضعة عشر كان الذي تريدون، ولكن شيعتنا من لا يعدو صوته سمعه، ولا شحناؤه بدنه، ولا يمدح بنا معلنا، ولا يخاصم بنا قاليا ((1))، ولا يجالس لنا عائبا، ولا يحدث لنا ثالبا، ولا يحب لنا مبغضا، ولا يبغض لنا محبا.
فقلت: فكيف أصنع بهذه الشيعة المختلفة الذين يقولون إنهم يتشيعون؟
فقال: فيهم التمييز، وفيهم التمحيص، وفيهم التبديل، يأتي عليهم سنون تفنيهم، وسيف يقتلهم، واختلاف يبددهم.
إنما شيعتنا من لا يهر هرير الكلب، ولا يطمع طمع الغراب، ولا يسأل الناس بكفه وإن مات جوعا.
قلت: جعلت فداك، فأين أطلب هؤلاء الموصوفين بهذه الصفة؟
فقال: اطلبهم في أطراف الأرض أولئك الخفيض عيشهم، المنتقلة دارهم، الذين إن شهدوا لم يعرفوا، وإن غابوا لم يفتقدوا، وإن مرضوا لم يعادوا، وإن خطبوا لم يزوجوا، وإن ماتوا لم يشهدوا، أولئك الذين في أموالهم يتواسون، وفي قبورهم يتزاورون، ولا تختلف أهواؤهم وإن اختلفت بهم البلدان "

 

There is a reason why Shaykh an-Nu`mani put this hadith near the beginning of his Kitab al-Ghayba. The narration is rich in eschatological content. At the beginning, a distinction is made between those who simply love Ahl al-Bayt (most of us), and the true Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt. Lovers may be loyal students and devotees, but their faith is not at the level of full yaqeen. The Imam then says that if 300+ of such people were to come up, then this affair (the rise of the Mahdi) would occur. There are similar narrations to this, where Imam as-Sadiq says that if he even had 17 true Shi`a, or 6, he would go out and seek the Caliphate. The true Shi`a are not simply those who pray and fast, but rather they have a special relationship with the Imam. So special, that he is their rolemodel, and they begin to take on his characteristics.

So the Imam describes these people: they are in taqiyya, they avoid those who hate the Imams, they will survive all the fitnas and fires of the End times which will only refine their faith, they are rejected and despised by society, they live simply, and they support one and love one another even if their ethnic backgrounds are different. Sound familiar? This is how the Imams were, especially the Qa'im, as well as their truest Shi`a: they hid the divine secrets from the ignorant persecutors, they were the masters of tawalla and tabarra', they held their faith close during the tests, and it often cost them their lives. But they didn't care about the tribe, nationality, or race of their true friends. These are some of the highest spiritual prescriptions in Islam, and they are the keys to making the five pillars great. The Prophet said that each of these people would have the reward of 50 companions due to the patience they must endure (سيأتي قوم من بعدكم الرجل الواحد منهم له أجر خمسين منكم.). He described the believer at the End Times to be like a man holding two burning pieces of coal ( يأتي على الناس زمان الصابر منهم على دينه كالقابض على الجمر ). Imam ar-Rida compared them to gold, who are refined in the furnace of affliction (يفتنون كما يفتن الذهب، ثم قال: يخلصون كما يخلص الذهب.) also see Isaiah 48:10.

The true Shi`a of Husayn (as), whom we honour and bless alongside Husayn, were not those who remained in the Hijaz to do Hajj, or those in Kufa who were keeping up their prayers. They were those who lived his life and died his death. Likewise, this narration from Kitab al-Ghayba is about the true believers who will live the life of the Hidden Imam. They are patiently waiting, dissimulating, their hearts hurt for the sin around them, they are hunted, and unrecognized. They themselves are hidden in a way, because they are avoiding the fitna, and their righteousness garners the marginalization of the people at large. Even someone as prominent as Sayyid Sistani lives a simple, distant, devoted life, and despite his prominence, will never be "popular" in the way celebrities are. Likewise, the best people you've met are probably those who do not advertise their humility and their deeds, and actually do their best to conceal it. However, these people are not alone. They are the supporters of one another, they visit one another, they marry one another, they know and recognize one another. These people share an intimate relationship with their Imam, one that will always be far beyond that of an ordinary worshiper and lover.

 

Imam `Ali [a] said, "You will be fraught with a dark, gloomy, blinding schism – none will be delivered from it except the numa."

He was then asked, "O Abu’l Hasan, and what is the numa?"

The Imam replied, "The one whose self is not recognizable to the people."

عنه، عن أبي حاتم (3)، عن محمد بن يزيد الآدمي (4) - بغدادي عابد - قال: حدثنا يحيى بن سليم الطائفي (5)، عن متيل بن عباد (6) قال: سمعت أبا الطفيل يقول: سمعت علي بن أبي طالب عليه السلام يقول: أظلتكم فتنة (مظلمة) (7) عمياء منكشفة (8) لا ينجو منها إلا النومة. قيل: يا أبا الحسن وما النومة ؟. قال: الذي لا يعرف الناس ما في نفسه (9).

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Qa'im

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A famous eschatological expression is that the Sun will rise from the West ( طلوع الشمس من المغرب من المحتوم ). In Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad (s) says, "When three things appear, a person's faith will not avail him if he had not believed before or did not earn goodness from his faith: (1) The rising of the Sun from its setting place, (2) The Dajjal, and (3) The Beast of the Earth." (ثلاث إذا خرجن لا ينفع نفسا إيمانها لم تكن آمنت من قبل أو كسبت في إيمانها خيرا: طلوع الشمس من مغربها، و الدجال ودابة الأرض ).

In my reading of the hadith literature, there is a strong indication that this Sun is not the star that our Earth rotates around, but actually a man. The Sun is a luminous golden object that brings light, clarity, guidance, warmth, and the growth of our crops. A narration about the Mahdi says, "The one whom Jesus the son of Mary will pray behind is the twelfth from the progeny, the ninth from the loins of al-Husayn b. `Ali [a]. He is the Sun that will rise from its setting place." ( إن الذي يصلي عيسى بن مريم خلفه هو الثاني عشر من العترة ، التاسع من ولد الحسين بن علي عليهما السلام وهو الشمس الطالعة من مغربها ).

A careful study of the Quran will show that light represents the religion (61:8, which Allah will always preserve) and guidance (2:257). 33:46 describes the Prophet as "an illuminated lamp" (siraj, a word also used for "Sun"), and 5:15 describes him as a "light". In one hadith, the Imam as-Sadiq describes the Prophet as the Sun in Surat ash-Shams ( الشمس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله به أوضح الله عز وجل للناس دينهم ), and in another hadith, the "day" in 92:2 that follows the night is the Mahdi who will arise after oppression ( والنهار إذا تجلى قال: النهار هو القائم منا أهل البيت إذا قام غلب دولة الباطل ). The Mahdi's occultation is compared to that of the Sun behind the clouds ( وأما وجه الانتفاع بي في غيبتي فكالانتفاع بالشمس إذا غيبتها عن الابصار السحاب ).

These comparisons between the Mahdi and the Sun is a similitude to the Prophet. The Mahdi is the most similar man to the Prophet, because he is like him in form and in character ( أشبه الناس بي خلقا وخلقا ), and he will openly declare and explain the religion to the world. The Mahdi will take his example until Islam becomes dominant, manifest, clear, and overspreading ( بسيرة ما سار به رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله حتى يظهر الاسلام ). 39:69 says that the "Earth will shine with the light of its Lord", and the hadiths indicate that it will shine by the light of the Mahdi's coming ( وأشرقت الارض بنور ربها " قال رب الارض يعني إمام الارض، ).

This begs the question: if the Mahdi is the Sun, what does it mean to rise from its place of setting? Rather than saying that there would be a change of the Earth's axis, we should consider the root of the word gharb (غرب). It has come to mean "set", but in its most basic sense, it means "to become a stranger, odd, obscure, difficult to comprehend, and to go away and depart". This is because the Sun passes above us, then becomes "estranged" from us and leaves us, setting in the West. A stranger in Arabic is a ghareeb. This brings us to the Prophetic hadith, "Islam began as a stranger, and it shall return as a stranger, so blessed are the strangers" ( إن الاسلام بدا غريبا وسيعود كما بدا فطوبى للغربا ). Just as the Prophet came by himself to an adverse society, Islam would return in the Mahdi, who would be estranged from his community and coming with a call that most people will not be familiar with. It is said that, by the time of his coming, the religion of Islam will be barely recognizable from the principles taught by our Prophet, so much so that it will be as though the Mahdi is bringing a new religion. Imam `Ali said that the Qa'im would recommence Islam just as the Prophet did ( إذا قام القائم عليه السلام استأنف دعاء جديدا كما دعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ), and Imam Ja`far repeated the same idea ( يستأنف الداعي منا دعاء جديدا كما دعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ).

Just as the Mahdi faded into obscurity, he would return out of that obscurity. He is currently in the clouds, which is to say that the occultation has surrounded him in opaque confusion, but that his affect on the Earth is still present. His companions will also be strangers who are not recognized ( إذا يستغني الناس عن ضوء الشمس ونور القمر ويجتزون بنور الامام ), and they are gathered with him like cirrus clouds ( فيظهر في ثلاثمائة وثلاثة عشر رجلا عدة أهل بدر على غير ميعاد قزعا كقزع الخريف رهبان بالليل أسد بالنهار ). "At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) When he returns, "mankind shall have no need of the light of the Sun and the light of the Moon, and they shall pass by the light of the Imam." ( إذا يستغني الناس عن ضوء الشمس ونور القمر ويجتزون بنور الامام ). Meaning, they will be able to go directly to the Imam for guidance, and we will no longer need to seek out other sources of light.

May Allah hasten his luminous coming.

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