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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.
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[This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama! I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all.
In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was. Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) - I digress.
Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia. (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups. This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”. The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client. It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room. Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.). Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years. I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people. Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.
In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia. As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam. As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style. Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
A thought occurred to me. Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use? The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today. The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users. I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
[More to follow, Part 2..]
So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?
Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park says "You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you never bothered to ask if you should."
Are changing attitudes towards transgenderism a function of technology?
Would it be a fair assessment of human history to say that whenever we have developed the capability to do something we have, and whether or not we should has not really stopped us? The current debates around transgenderism reflect this, I think. It's more than a co-incidence that the awareness and attitudes around this have arisen at a time when the technology exists for individuals to effect gender re-assignment.
The latter has made more culturally acceptable (at least in the West) an aspect of sexuality that was previously hardly discussed or even visible. In my opinion it was because westerners did not find it culturally acceptable to see transgendered men in everyday life that had been accepted in countries like India for centuries, though their status was marginal at best.
The same issues arise when it comes to technology around genetics for example, where codes of ethics need to evolve to deal with developments about what is now possible. Clearly there will be a concomitant pressure on religious authorities to pass judgements on an increasingly wider array of issues. Some of these religious edicts will need to happen after the technology has developed, in other instances existing edicts will cover future developments, as argued in the following thread that I created about the intimate possibilities with androids.
Nuclear and biological weapons come to mind as technologies that we can, but don't use. But in both instances it is the threat of retaliation which stops us. But where there has been little prospect of retaliation, people have used them, e.g. Churchil using chemical weapons in Iraq in the early 20th century.
The implications for ulema
As new rulings are needed to cater for technological developments that have significant moral, ethical and religious implications surely the power wielded by ulema will increase? There is the possibility that the variations in rulings between mar'je increase or alternatively they remain broadly similar. It will be interesting to see how religion evolves (or does not) as the broader technological environment develops.
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An orphan is the name of a child who lost his mother,
But what is the name of a mother who loses a child?
Crushed between the door and the wall along with the souls of Hassanain,
Robbed of her child, her right, her husband's, she fights through the pain.
Her name is Fatima. The one whose essence mankind will never reach,
For God Himself has shielded her with a protection that none can breach,
Mistress of my soul and the women of the worlds,
With her name and her hand the secret of this life unfurls,
The strength of my heart and the strength of Haidar,
The strength of the lion who conquered Khaybar,
For who else can converse with such beauty and power,
Fight the usurpers after the loss of Mohsen, the wilted flower?
Her name is az-Zahra, the radiant light, illuminating a path,
For those who want to see and be away from God's wrath,
For he who angers az-Zahra has evoked the Messenger's displeasure,
And no doubt, God's own wrath which follows is that beyond any measure,
For who is so aligned with the will of her Creator,
Which woman did He create, that other than her there is no greater?
Her name is al-Batool, unsurpassed in every way,
Be it the chastity, the virtue, or the worship she did display,
No man equalled her strength the day she fought her right,
Look around you now- see the destruction of Fatima's might.
For which woman could have such eloquence and knowledge of the Book?
Fadak was hers then and now, no matter what they took.
Quoting the verses to them that were revealed to her very door,
Every lie, every plot of theirs and tactic, into shreds she tore.
For she is as-Siddiqa, the truthful, no matter who calls himself this too,
A name is just a name but the truth lies in what we do,
Ali is with the truth, truly this is no lie,
And the truth is with Ali, but she will shortly die,
Leaving behind a house that is both so full and bare,
Full of Ali's grief, but of a mother's warmth, left bare,
A homely nest no more, for its mother is no longer,
A house that used to buzz with life, now remains mourning and sombre.
Hassan holds her feet and Hussain cries on her chest,
An imagine after which the heart of Ali will never find rest,
Zainab and Kulthum sob as they await the darkness of night,
One final farewell they crave before facing a new plight.
And Ali...? A broken man, half a human, dealt his biggest blow,
He sits with his head in his hands, and tears of anguish now freely flow.
The lion, the warrior, the hero that roared with such might,
Now quietly sobs for her pain and her loss, a flame of grief now alight.
Two souls intertwined...now world's apart,
A long journey of loneliness Ali has to start,
Her orphans, her prayer mat, the memories of her days,
With these he will survive, and he now says...
'A flower, nipped in the bud. From paradise it came, and to paradise it went, but has left its fragrance in my mind'.
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We all do. Small ones, big ones. Temporary and persistent. That is how life is.
Our Creator says: (rough translation)
'And no problem befalls you except it was already written in a book. We tell you this so you do not feel sad for the things you lose, and so you do not feel proud for possessing things because surely We do not like proud ones'.
Now think about it. He also says:
'Did you think you would simply be granted heaven and not tested? Nay you will be tested by the loss of lives, property, blessings.'
Its all in the Quran dear believer. I am sorry for the very crude translations but it is allowed provided the content or meaning is not changed. The point is to read it and follow people who share such things. Each verse can be life changing. You may have been thinking "Why me?" for years. News flash, most every >believer< thinks that. And its okay to think that. Notice I have emphasized the word "believer", because:
'This life is a dungeon for the believer, and paradise for the disbeliever.' - Imam (عليه السلام)
All my life I have steered through disasters, one after another. Life changing events. Near death experiences. Loss of property, monumental kinds. Health issues. Big ones. Bullets screeching by. Psychological issues. Loneliness including that from abandonment. Death of friends and loved ones. Disillusionment in big ways about things in this world. Frauds. Collapse of trust. Each of them a big disaster. So much so that now I don't trust anyone instead I let people earn it. Now I am wiser rather than "confident". All these experiences forced me to change but it was I who chose how to shape myself with intuition from Allah since I kept believing and He is the most Merciful.
Therefore I want to tell you dear comrade; Do not be afraid.
"This time period, as well, shall pass away."
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A brother recently raised a shubhah (doubt) to me regarding the the following ahadith. He thought that it contradicts modern science.Quote
وبهذا الاسناد عن محمد بن عبد الله بن جعفر، عن أبيه، عن (3) محمد بن أحمد بن يحيى [ عن محمد بن الحسين، عن أبي سعيد العصفري ] (1) عن عمرو بن ثابت (2)، عن أبي الجارود عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: إني وأحد عشر من ولدي وأنت يا علي زر الارض - أعني أوتادها وجبالها - بنا أوتد الله الارض أن تسيخ بأهلها، فإذا ذهب الاثنا عشر من ولدي ساخت الارض بأهلها ولم ينظروا (3).
And by this isnad from Muhammad b.
Abdillah b. Jafar from his father from Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya from Muhammad b. al-Husayn from Abu Sa`eed al-Asfari from
Amr b. Thabit from Abu’l Jarud from Abu Jafar عليه السلام. He said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: Me, eleven from my loins, and you O `Ali are the pegs of the Earth – I mean its pillars and its mountains. By us, Allah steadies the Earth from swallowing its inhabitants. When the twelfth from my loins goes, the Earth will swallow its inhabitants unexpectedly. (muwathaq) (موثق)
The issue here is the word تسيخ which has the following definitions:
This phrasing also occurs in other ahadith.Quote
وَجَبَلَ جَلاَمِيدَهَا، وَنُشُوزَ مُتُونِهَا وَأَطْوَادِهَا، فَأَرْسَاهَا في مَرَاسِيهَا، وَأَلْزَمَهَا قَرَارَاتِهَا، فَمَضَتْ رُؤُسُهَا فِي الْهَوَاءِ، وَرَسَتْ أُصُولُهَا فِي الْمَاءِ، فَأَنْهَدَ جِبَالَهَا عَنْ سُهُولِهَا، وَأَسَاخَ قَوَاعِدَهَا فِي متُونِ أَقْطَارِهَا، وَمَوَاضِعِ أَنْصَابِهَا، فَأشْهَقَ قِلاَلَهَا، وَأَطَالَ أَنْشَازَهَا، وَجَعَلَهَا لِلاْرْضِ عِمَاداً، وَأَرَّزَهَا فِيهَا أَوْتَاداً، فَسَكَنَتْ عَلَى حَرَكَتِهَا مِن أَنْ تَمِيدَ بِأَهْلِهَا، أَوْ تَسِيخَ بِحِمْلِهَا، أَوْ تَزُولَ عَنْ مَواضِعِهَا.
He also created its high hills, rocks of stones and lofty mountains. He put them in their positions and made them remain stationary. Their peaks rose into the air while their roots remained in the water. In this way He raised the mountains above the plains and fixed their foundations in the vast expanse wherever they stood. He made their peaks high and made their bodies lofty. He made them like pillars for the earth and fixed them in it like pegs. Consequently, the earth became stationary; otherwise it might bend with its inhabitants or sink inwards with its burden, or shift from its positions.
Nahjul Balagha Sermon 211
Before we come to ask if the hadith contradicts modern science, we have to know what modern science says on the issue and the degree of confirmation/confidence we can place on what modern science says, since not all hypotheses/theories are equal in their inductive support.
We also have to ask how much confidence we want to place on a given hadith, because, once again, not all ahadith are equal in their inductive support. Is it mutawatir, does it at least have a reliable chain, or not? These are important questions to ask when assessing the degree to which our two sources of information (natural sciences and hadith sciences) might clash. You can read more about induction here.
Let's start off with step 1: what does the science say?
Let's take a cursory glance on YouTube and see what pops up, just to get a basic understanding.
See the first part of this children's video:
You can also see this video for a more wild version whereby the tectonic plates are kept perfectly still (although such a situation would be impossible practically.) There would still be massive destruction. However, around ~3:00 in, he says something of particular note: when 2 tectonic plates smash into one another, the more dense of the two plates sinks underneath the other plate, causing mountains to be formed. If mountains are not formed, it would seem, as the first video indicates, that lava would simply engulf the earth, and that one plate would literally swallow another, causing the earth (and the inhabitants on it) to sink.
Let's see if we can't find some more academic sources to back this claim. Let's look at Wikipedia to begin with, before getting a proper academic source:Quote
"Subduction is a geological process in which the oceanic lithosphere is recycled into the Earth's mantle at convergent boundaries. Where the oceanic lithosphere of a tectonic plate converges with the less dense lithosphere of a second plate, the heavier plate dives beneath the second plate and sinks into the mantle. A region where this process occurs is known as a subduction zone, and its surface expression is known as an arc-trench complex." (Underline mine).
On page 77 of "Plate tectonics: A very short introduction" we read:Quote
"Gravity acting on the weight of cold lithosphere already subducted into the hotter, less dense asthenosphere pulls the plate down, causing it to bend downward." (Molnar, Peter Hale. Plate Tectonics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2015.)
This is an authoritative Oxford University publication; if this point was controversial for whatever reason, we'd have to delve further into primary literature. As it stands, however, we have no reason to think subduction as described above is anything other than established science, and so this is the end of the road as far as my interest is concerned. If someone can credibly contest the point, then further research would have to be done.
Conclusion and Naseehah
My point in this exercise was to demonstrate to you, my readers, how to begin to research doubts. When you have a doubt in mind, it is not sufficient to simply assume what the science says, or the degree of confidence we can have in a particular scientific theory. We need to delve into the details and see what is actually factual and what is not. It may turn out, as in this case, that modern science actually confirms that hadith with a high degree of confidence, and in fact, this may be seen as an example of a prophetic miracle. How could the Prophet have known that without mountains the earth would sink 1400 years ago? If anything, this is a confirmation of his prophecy (s).
I invite you to extend this skepticism to "common knowledge" or the inherited wisdom of secular society. There are many myths which we take for granted without even taking a second to think "wait a second, is my presumption even factual?" It is for this reason we often have faith-shattering doubts about a whole host of issues such as slavery, homosexuality, science, etc. without taking a moment to do even a cursory amount of research into the factual premises of the shubhah. One of the first things you should do when investigating a shubhah is not only to see what the Islamic position on an issue is, but to investigate the thing you take to be in conflict with the Islamic position. "X Islamic thing contradicts human rights!" Okay, why don't you read up on the foundations of human rights and especially the specific item that you take to be in conflict with Islam. "X Islamic position contradicts scientific theory Y." Okay, go and research scientific theory Y and go and see how solid it actually is.
If you make this a habit, you will see in reality how frail the shubuhaat really are, and how many of our modern assumptions are utterly baseless or even contrary to reality.
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My eyes tear up at this kalaam... O Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)... Please reveal Imam Mahdi (عليه السلام) soon and make us amongst his supporters...
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I am alone at home for the week. Mom has gone to visit my aunt & uncle in New York state. I'm happy for her because she hasn't gone on a vacation since before COVID19 began it's rampage through America; so it's good that she's getting to visit them. She'll be visiting with my cousin Hannah as well. However, it's just me here with the cats (after all someone had to stay around to feed, water, scoop, and spend time with them). I have the house to myself for a week. Just me, completely alone and that got me thinking about my progress in Islam.
There is a masjid here in town. A Sunni masjid but a masjid nonetheless. I have gone there before when I was first investigating Islam, but not since I have decided to follow the Shia. I wanted to attend Jummah today, but the masjid is still closed because of COVID19. Unfortunately, even if the masjid was open, I can only think that I would be castigated by nitpicking brothers for how I pray, the way I perform the wudhu, and have to get into debates that I am not prepared for (and don't want to get into) as to why I "pray the wrong way" and how I am a heathen, so on and so forth. There is no Shia Islamic Center anywhere remotely close to my hometown. The closest one is 120 miles to the north of me and that's simply too far to drive for a Jummah service every week with the price of gas being what it is and me not even working at the time being (as well as not being able to leave the county without permission, but we won't get into that).
It makes me lonely as a revert. A revert who is the only Muslim in his family, let alone his household. I read through the Quran, sure but a lot of brothers and sisters have and many of them many more times that I already have. I have no background with the Hadith and don't know how to determine which are reliable, which I am allowed to use, and how to read them. I have no older brothers who can mentor me in Islam, as I feel like I am the only Shia in the area even if that is not true. What I liked about being a Christian, despite the glaring theological problems with Christianity, was the community and fellowship that was available to me at any of the hundreds of churches in the area. There were older Christians who could mentor me in the faith, Bible studies that were run that I could attend, service work in the community I could participate in... the communal aspect of religion is very important; but sadly I do not have any of those luxuries right now whether it's because of the town I live in or whether it's because I'm in the minority of an already minority religion in America. On one hand, I find myself wishing that Islam in America was like Christianity while on the other hand, for reasons I'll not get into here that I've already outlined in numerous threads, I thank Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that it is different entirely. Shia Islam, despite being the minority of a minority in America, has yet to become infected and corrupted the way that Christianity has and inshallah, it never will. Inshallah, Islam in America will truly grow in to the "fastest growing religion" and will bring about a revival of traditional values and morality that this country desperately needs.
But before that day comes, what is there that can be done?
The answer: cling closely to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), the example of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the Glorious Quran. Read it every day without ceasing, when you finish the final surah-- go back to the beginning and start over again. Make your five daily prayers wherein you spend time with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and for those five wonderful times throughout the day, spend time before Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Recite the Tasbih. Renew your Wudhu always. Read Islamic literature and watch Khutbas, and offer dua that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) might bring you some upright brothers to fellowship and pray along with, who encourage you as you encourage them. Perfect your prayers (which can be quite the challenge for Westerners with no background in Islam or Arabic). Enjoin good and forbid evil. Do the little things for family and friends to let Allah's (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) light shine through you and make this world a better place.
Being alone in your deen can be rough, it can certainly test your resolve to stay on the right path. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) never tests you beyond what he knows that you can handle and like steel in a furnace, these tests are to refine you into something more beautiful. Alhamdulillah.
"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him...."
Each and every creation (makhlooq) in this universe has a natural innate attachment with the creator. Every being that is created, itself carries a signature of the creator in every form and shape and also submits to the reality of existence of its creator. This is not something for which a creature needs something from outside his being. His existence itself contains those elements that lead his way towards his creator. If we try to specify those elements within a human being, our first attention goes towards the conscience (fitrah) of a human being. This conscience is captured in our soul and is completely intrinsic to our being. The spirit is the being which is the home of conscience while body is just the outer representation of our being.
Our conscience is the one which tells us the right and wrong and all such moral principles. Hence, it needs to have an orientation or inclination. Orientation will set a direction for a being and finally a direction will have no end without an inspiration. So, basically, every spirit has a conscience which sets the moral principles and in order to do that, we ultimately and naturally need an ultimate inspiration. The entity that might act as an inspiration can have a scope. But there needs to be one entity, neither more nor less, which needs to be above every entity. To explain this mess, I would like to take an example of a student pursuing a career:
Let's suppose that a person has an orientation of caring and healing others. A sudden thought comes to his/her mind that he/she should become a doctor. Also, he/she defines certain objectives to achieve his/her career. This is the direction that was taken according to the orientation. According to the scope of final objective, inspiration or motivation is also recognized. And finally, he/she goes to the school and college and studies to become a doctor which is the path to reach the inspiration.
If we carefully notice this example, everything is clear-as-sky that the career path selected is due to the orientation which acts as a cause and it is pointing towards a direction to become something which is guided by the inspiration. And the inspiration here can be multiple but one, the ultimate is definitely needed. So, that states our point of view that the idea of God is an idea of ultimate inspiration which is undeniable if we have a conscience that is willing to set it's moral principles. Now, because taking care of morality is intrinsic to our conscience, the idea of god is also intrinsic and an innate reality which cannot be denied by our conscience.
This argument stated above begs a question. What about the conscience of a person who denies the existence of God? The simple answer is that it is impossible. Because it is not our words that testify to the idea of God but it is our conscience and our conscience doesn't work exactly according to us. Every being has an ultimate inspiration within his self. If someone denies that ultimate inspiration, his self will start recognizing something else as an inspiration and if he still denies this new inspiration then his self will cling to something else and so on. So, denying the idea of God means ultimately denying the idea of existence or submitting to something at some point by stopping the loop of denial. My physics teacher in school once said that most of the scientists our athiests and they don't believe in god. But he was forced to conclude his statement by saying that there god is nature. So, one can say that 'his idea of god is different than others' but cannot deny the idea itself. So, we conclude that atheism by definition has no value and it is fundamentally impossible to deny the existence of God. And the Holy Quran states in this context:
"The seven heavens declare His glory and the earth (too), and those who are in them; and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification; surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving." Al Isra (17:44)
The above verse shows how the idea of God is within every creation. And another verse which states that how our conscience says opposite to what a proponent of athiesm might say:
"Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day." Al Isra (17:14)
Our self definitely contains this fundamental idea of god and that is the reason it will be a proof against us finally. Also, Imam Ali (عليه السلام) states, "The one who recognized his self, recognized his lord" implying that ultimately our self consists all those fundamentals we need to understand the idea of God in its entirety. So, now let us go further to address what is left with us.
We see that ultimately we now have to see what can be the possible reality of God. And we shall only use the most basic rational ways to reach the results inshallah. We can easily think of some possiblilities. Either God is one or more than one. Within these two broad categories of reality of God lies a long list of classifications. We are not going to mention them as it is not at all necessary to ponder on each and every speculation regarding these categories. Definition of more than one gods is followed in the polytheistic systems. This is a possibility but let us match this idea with what our self testifies. It doesn't matter for us over here whether Gods are two, three or more than that but the fact of the matter is that does our pure and perfect self which is the essence of our being accept it? Our self contains the innate idea of God which must be an ultimate inspiration. Can we have more than one ultimate inspiration? If we have many inspirations within our idea of God, those inspirations should either be absolutely equal or they should differ from each other. If they are equal then why are they having multiple forms? There multiple forms is a proof of the fact that they are different. Even if there forms are identical in a way that they are exactly a replica of each other then they cannot be absolute or independent. Because a replica needs to have an original version which means it depends on it's original form and that implies that it is not absolute but rather relative to the existence of the original version. Another proof is there similarlity which itself testifies that they are not unique.
So, absoluteness with exact equality is impossible and hence we are left with another option that they are different. Now, being different is itself a proof that one inspiration is better than another and one is best of all of them. So, again the multiplicity of the inspiration will finally melt down into a single inspiration which is best of all of them. We see this in the polythiestic faiths where one god is better than other and one of them is best of all. Because establishing such an idea is possible but it will not sustain. It will finally break into a hierarchy. This defeats the argument of multiple gods. As the gods which are different, comparative and have a hierarchy can be an inspiration but not ultimate inspiration. Our soul is traversing on a path which should end up on the absolute, the ultimate inspiration and objective rather than a passer-by-checkpoint or a short term goal. A doctor will never settle alone with a medical science degree. He/she will explore more unless and until he reaches a point where he doesn't need to strive further.
The Holy Quran challenges the idea of multiple gods or even a lower form of god by stating:
Do not associate with Allah any other god, lest you sit down despised, neglected. Al Isra (17:22)
This verse is not neglecting the possibility of a human being to accept multiple gods but rather it is clarifying that one would not achieve and would be finally neglected and despised if they do so. Because, naturally it means lowering the bar of the objective and inspiration which will be problematic for none but the self of the person as his soul will loose the ability to explore, think and ascend further. Finally, submitting to something less than the ultimate inspiration actually means submitting to someone who carries it's own inspiration. As Quran says:
"Those whom they call upon, themselves seek the means of access to their Lord-- whoever of them is nearest-- and they hope for His mercy and fear His chastisement; surely the chastisement of your Lord is a thing to be cautious of." Al Isra (17:57)
So, we notice how beautifully these verses state which is extremely fundamental to our souls. How these verses convert the fundamentals of every being into words and negate the reality of polythiestic ideologies. The verses of Quran are definitely speaking the voice of our self here which we don't listen. Concluding the above argument, we stand clear that atheism is impossible and an athiest has a god which he submits but is unaware of his own submission. And polytheism which might be a possible inclination will vanish if we deeply ponder upon the fundamentals of our self. We will understand if we ponder carefully that all the entities that we accidently thought of as gods were short of being an ultimate inspiration.
Now, if we enter into the realm of monotheism, we again need to deal with several questions. Now, the focus of discussion has shifted from 'what is the suitable idea of god?' to 'how should we define a single inspiration/God?' There can be a few possibilities. But those possibilties are not what we are looking to identify but rather what our soul will find to be the best. We need to understand that we are not forcing our conscience to accept something which is not asked for and is inferior. The concept of a single inspiration is proven but that inspiration should fit into the exact criteria of what our conscience fundamentally wants. It was stated in the above discussion that there must be atleast one ultimate inspiration above all that should suffice the requirement of our final destiny or objective on this journey of our soul. Further, we also stated while having an argument on polytheism that inspiration can be comparative and different but such inspiration cannot be considered ultimate inspiration. It might be the best among all but if it is comparable then it is not unique. Our ultimate inspiration should be one, unique, independent and above everything while being the origin of everything. Can an entity within the realm of creation fulfill such a criteria? Can we call a creation, an origin of other creation? Even if this creation is not known to us or it is something really amazing and out of the box? The problem over here is that, whatever it might be, it is still a creation and hence it doesn't fulfills the criteria of being above all. Because, it lies withing the realm of creation and is remotely comparable to something even if the comparison is not that close. A star we see in the sky might be a million light years apart but the distance is still finite and it can be compared to other stars because it is has all the features of a star. So, this short example shows that our conscience will never settle with an ultimate inspiration which is not unique in all aspects and has nothing remotely similar. One might say, what about this universe as a single entity? Well, this universe is a system which is dependent upon several physical forces and natural phenomenas and if we contemplate the origin of these forces we are left with a question mark. It doesn't suffice the criteria of the self that the inspiration should be independent. So, whatsoever we might imagine and regardless of how much we move ahead, our self searches for more.
We our left with nothing but to take an option of this ultimate inspiration which is away from all bounds. This process of reasoning to reach the final conclusion is quite clear in the Holy Book (Qur'an) where Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) says:
So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones.
Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people.
Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah).
Al Anaam (6:76-78)
As Imam Ali (عليه السلام) states the definition of that one god, the ultimate inspiration below:
Praise is due to Allah whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of understanding cannot reach; He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion, and made firm the shaking earth with rocks......
He is a Being, but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence.
(excerpts of Nahj ul Balagha sermon 1)
As Amir al Mumineen (عليه السلام) defines, this is the ultimate destiny and inspiration our self is looking for and this is the only inspiration which can set pure moral standards for our conscience. Hence, this is the best and most beautiful definition of monotheism as it is testified by the soul and it is fundamental and intrinsic within ourselves.
Concluding this entire discussion now, we reach a conclusion which is solely given to us by our pure soul and our conscience. Similar to this, as described in the above verses, every particle in this entire universe is in complete servitude to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) (the ultimate inspiration). Hence, while setting up moral principles, they should be derived from this inspiration and nothing else. Such should be the fundamental of the religion of our conscience. Therefore, monotheism in theory and in action is our fundamental principle whether we accept it or deny it. As the verse below says:
"Whoever goes aright, for his own soul does he go aright; and whoever goes astray, to its detriment only does he go astray...." Al Isra (17:15)
At last, the acting upon this principle just means pure servitude. We end on where we started. Serving the commandment of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the only way to act upon the principle of monotheism and for this Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given commandments in his book of principles i.e Quran. Along with this he has brought the guiding inspirations which are not the ultimate inspirations but just the checkpoints on the path. Not the destiny but the bridge that connects to destiny. These are the prophets and Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام). This is just a brief Islamic point of view to elaborate the principle of monotheism and not necessarily the scope of our discussion for now. In this way we conclude our discussion by claiming from the purity of our soul that:
"Verily, we belong to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and verily to him do we return."
[Al Baqarah (2:156)]
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Hello.First book I would to anyone who is looking to fight with his Nafs is to read book Self Building by Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini.It is published in urdu as well.
A few words about my experience.I found this book tough to get through.I stopped in the middle two times before finally finishing it.Well worth the time spent.
The author develops his arguments by going through material and immaterial aspects of our existence.
After this short introduction the book is divided into three parts namely self refinement, self perfection and finally means of perfection.
I would prefer you go through it slowly highlighting parts and rereading them at times. Here is link to english edition.
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Qudsiyaa Taahera sardaar-e-nisaa hai Zehraa,
Himmat-e-hasti-e-aurat ki sada hai zehraa,
Aalam-e-jehl ke toofaañ na bujhaa paaye jise,
Khalq-e-zan meiñ quvvat-e-shamm-e-haya hai zehraa
Apna haqq jaanna laazim hai so ye yaad rakheñ
Markaz-e-haqq-e-haqiiqi ka pata hai Zehraa,
Ilm-o-Irfaan ka meyaar khirad se hai pare,
Ilm ke shehr ki raunaq hai ana hai zehraa,
Malka-e-khalq kahaañ or kahaañ baagh-e-fadak,
Past-fitrat ko khaber kya ho ke kya hai Zehraa
Majlis-e-sheh meiñ jab aao to khuloos-e-dil se,
Mehv-e-riqqat jo sar-e-Farsh-e-aza hai Zehraa
Gulshan-e-Ahmed-e-mursal hai mu.atter jis se,
Paiker-e-sabr-o-gul-e-arsh-e-ulaa hai Zehraa
Fakhr-e-rab ruu-e-muqaddas hai saraapaa ismat,
Dasht-e-pasti meiñ balandi ki naba hai Zehraa,
shakl-o-seerat meiñ baseerat ki har ek jumbish meiñ,
Apne hi aap meiñ qur.aan-e-khudaa hai Zehraa
Parda-e-azmat-e-niswaañ pe likha ho goya,
Deen-e-islam ki zeenat ki ridaa hai Zehraa
Shafqat-o-rehmat-e-khaaliq ki ziyaa hai Zehraa,
noor ko noor ki naayaab ata hai Zehraa
Zikr jinka hai ibadat ki har ek zeb-o-'zain',
Lauh-e-mehfooz paa tehreer-e-baqaa hai Zehraa
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It's been a while since I last posted a blog but I would like to share my thoughts on Joe Biden's first day as president.
Words cannot describe how great it is to see Donald Trump leave. Donald Trump was one of the worst presidents in American history. He caused nothing but trouble to America. He is the one who resulted in Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (both men who were responsible for removing terrorism) getting killed which happened early last year. His policies on the Covid-19 disaster were horrible. Joe Biden addressed the Covid-19 matters very nicely on Day 1 and getting rid of the issues Trump caused since he became president. He is going to make America recover from the issues that Trump caused in the last 4 years.
Edit: I've changed my stance on Biden. He is not that much better than Trump after all. He has caused more trouble than Trump has in the Middle East, in Syria with his strikes. He only has better Covid-19 policies and he is only stopping Trump's racist policies and his border wall for Mexicans.
I will start by giving a very simplified functional subdivision of the human Central Nervous System. Based on function, human brain can be divided into three areas
1. Brain stem: Brain stem is an upward continuation of spine. It is concerned with functions like controlling heart rate, regulation of blood pressure, breathing and some digestive functions to name just a few. Some of these are vital functions so an injury to brainstem could mean immediate death. That is why special care is taken to stabilize the neck in road traffic accidents.
2. Limbic System: This is a group of structures in our brain which together are involved in controlling behavior and emotions- Anger, pleasure, fear and punishment, reward, rage, curiosity, hunger, satiety, sexual drive, motivation and passivity, all of these come from the limbic system.
3. Cerebral Cortex: This is what we call the higher brain in laymen terms. It performs the ‘executive functions’. The prefrontal cortex(PFC) occupies the anterior portion of the frontal lobes and is thought to be one of the most complex anatomical and functional structures of the mammalian brain.
- All living creatures have some system for maintain vital body functions like breathing in place of brainstem.
- All vertebrates possess a limbic system so dogs, cats and other animals are able to feel and express emotions.
- Amongst vertebrates the only classes to possess the characteristic cerebral cortex are mammals (and some reptiles, lolz, so the conspiracy theories about the world being controlled by an elite group of reptiles could turn out to be true)
- Amongst the mammals Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) bestowed the humans with the most highly developed cerebral cortex of all its creations on earth. When I say highly developed I don’t mean size or surface area relative to body, I mean functionally development and intellectual capabilities. Humans are probably intellectually highest of all the earthly species created by Allah.
It is because of this highly developed cortex that humans sit at the top of the hierarchy and have been called ‘Vicegerents of Allah’ on earth. Of course, not any two footed being in human form can be the vicegerent of Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). He also has to manifest divine attributes in both his private and social life.
So our cerebral cortex is capable of ‘higher mental functions’ like thinking, abstraction, planning, decision making and controlling the limbic system! This last function is probably its most important function.
The brainstem functions are not under our conscious control. Obviously we cannot tell our bodies increase or decrease the heart rate or blood pressure.
Higher mental functions are almost always voluntary.
The limbic system sits on the the borderline between brain stem and cerebral cortex both structurally and functionally (the word limbic means borderline in latin) What does this mean? This means that we can choose to exercise control over our behavior and emotions using the executive powers of cerebral cortex or we can let the limbic system run loose and let it do whatever it wants in which case a human would be expressing a range of unbridled emotions anger, curiosity, sexual drive etc
Let’s look at some differences in capabilities of humans vs animals which are manifested by virtue of an intellectual cortex and are important from a religious perspective.
- Animals are incapable of differentiating between haram and halal. That’s why Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn’t make it obligatory on them to respect these boundaries. It is the cerebral cortex and its associated areas which give the humans the capability learn this and differentiate between the two in various life situations. But if the humans choose not to utilize the cerebral cortex for this purpose and let their limbic system(emotions) take over, they lose the differentiation and in those instances they are acting like animals. This can easily be observed in the most primal of behaviours like consuming food and copulating and also in advanced actions like earning rizq through unlawful means.
- Animals cannot be taught moral and ethics. If your pet dog steals a piece of meat you can arouse feelings of fear and punishment in it but you cannot teach him why stealing is wrong. This is again due to the absence of the cerebral cortex that humans possess and probably this is the reason why animals won’t get punished for misconducts in the akhirah like humans.
- Animals cannot differentiate between tahara and nijasat. Again this is something which is a function of cerebral cortex. Physical purity is something which is very crucial in Islamic faith.
- The principles of mahram/namehram can only be comprehended by humans.
Looking at the above we can see how intellect elevates humans from the level of animals to vicegerents of Allah. Maybe this is why most of things that are counted as sins in islam are in principle limbic system(emotions) overriding the cortex(intellect)
- Anger- limbic system taking charge,
- Zina and haram lust – limbic system taking over humans,
- Consuming haram food and even stuffing yourself with halal food- limbic system satiety centre gone out of control,
- Curiosity- Even though the mechanism behind curiosity isn’t very well understood because it is difficult to differentiate curiosity from information seeking but what research has discovered so far is that a part of the limbic cortex is involved in both regulation and reward that is associated with curiosity(1). In Surah Hujraat (49:12) Allah forbids us from spying and ‘Tajassus’ but if limbic system is not controlled the person could be snooping around other people’s affairs, just like an animal would sniff and examine any object in vicinity.
- Gambling – During gambling intellectual areas of the brain like prefrontal cortex show less activity than limbic areas depicting a link between gambling and limbic system(2) What’s interesting is that in an animal study conducted on gambling ,some species of animal demonstrated the same choices and psychological behavior as pathological gamblers. So, when Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) made gambling haram it was probably to not let humans reduce themselves to animals.
- Drinking –Alcohol impairs functioning on the prefrontal cortex, disrupts normal pattern of neuronal activity required for decision making and thinking and hence leads to limbic system taking over. This is manifested a as lack of inhibition in people commonly observed in people who has ingested alcohol.(3)
If we look at Jihad bil nafs in medical terms it’s just a battle between limbic system and cerebral cortex.
Looking at the lives of Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) we won’t find any instance where we see limbic system ruling over them. There is a famous incident where in the battle of Khandaq, where Imam Ali(عليه السلام) was on Amr bin abde Wud’s chest and about to kill him but then he abused Imam Ali(عليه السلام). At this Imam Ali (عليه السلام) moved from Amr’s chest and walked away. After the battle was over people asked Imam Ali(عليه السلام) the reason why he had spared Amr’s life when he had overpowered him. At this he replied,” When I had floored him, he abused me, as a result of which I was overcome by rage. I feared that if I were to kill him in that state of anger, it would be for pacifying my anger. So I stepped away from him till my fury subsided.Then I returned to sever his head from his body only for the happiness of Allah and in obedience to Him.” (Manaqib Al Abi Talib by Ibn Shahrashub)
In Sahifa e Sajjadiya, Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) has described three types of worshippers
i. Those who worship Allah because of fear of hell
ii. Those who worship Allah to get to Jannah
iii. Those who worship Allah because they find Allah worthy of worship.
He(عليه السلام) says the third is the highest form of worship. Why? Because the first two are worship of punishment and reward (limbic system worships) while the third is the worship of intellect (Prefrontal cortex).
So if we learn to control our limbic systems through reflection and worship gradually, we gain power over our nafs and then no amount of worldly temptation and desires can then take us away from out true purpose, that is submission to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).
Sometimes we forget to be grateful for many of the blessings God has decreed upon us that if we were to thank him for countless days and nights, it would never be sufficient. Some of us may not realise that despite living in a house where our parents have different mindsets that complicate many aspects in life, perhaps during their time they had it far more worse. We forget that they have gone through immense pressure trying to give us a life far more opportunistic than theirs, yet they fail to realise how a lot of their customs prevents us from seeking opportunities in the first place. Think about the conservative societies they used to live in the past century and how difficult it was to overcome. Perhaps our parents think that their way of upbringing will lure us away from the demonised world, to save our mental stability and hence they carry their past teachings and culture to the next generation. On the contrary, that belief has torn us apart.
Our parents have survived war, signed myriad of papers and fought with the Western laws to seek a better environment for themselves and future offspring. We know that our families cannot seem to fathom our changes as we develop. They believe we are steering out of the line of honour and family reputation that if a slight error was committed then it would be spread throughout the entire community. You end up hearing tales and calumnies from storytellers who often find it entertaining to dwell in the affairs of others. The values and customs I have been raised in believe that a family's dignity and privilege is held by the eldest daughter where her wrongdoings mean familial destruction. Whilst having a good reputation at some point is crucial to living a substantial life, parents forget that our unexpressed feelings matter more than pleasing an egoistic community.
In Islam, one of the major sins is the displeasing of parents, where their anger is equatable to God's. Surely we must strive to respect them as they become elders, despite the levels of irritability we receive almost everyday. We are taught to maintain patience and that is further learnt more deeply during adolescence. Even so, a lot of the times one has knowledge of what is right yet still choose to divert into the path of wrong. An example is when our parents infuriate us, it results in retaliation rather than remaining quiet and calm. Understandably, nobody wants to hear someone create quite vague assumptions and further jump to the worst conclusions. That is one of the nuisances we normally find within parents.
From past personal experience, despite my OCD was likely of being genetic, I discovered that the strategies my parents used to make the entire family adhere to religion were often uncompromising. They believe using threats will make their children stand firm towards God and whilst I partially agree, the end result may be discrepancy. I've always loved being a Muslim. Observing full hijab from a very young age, praying at night outside the backyard beneath His illuminating creation whilst holding the sacred Qur'an in my hands. I thought I felt undeniable peace, but was it truly as peaceful as it sounded like? I was on attack the minute I stood onto my prayer mat or opened a supplication prayer. Those rampaging thoughts destroyed my inner peace. It seemed like I was a saintly servant of God, but the reality was that I was hurting deep down without even figuring out the cause. After recovery, a part of me came to conclusion as to what had led to these doubts and whispers in the first place. It somewhat was in relation towards my parent's upbringing, where I had noticed the number of threatening remarks they used in relation to God made me believe that I was obliged to add in the extra effort and consistency towards my prayers and other obligations. However, a number of times they had caught me in such a state and tried to give me solid advice that I am already pious enough in the eyes of God. And yet I always felt like I did a mistake in my ablution that led to repetitive cleansing.
Then again, we are far more mature than to be constantly blaming parents for our actions. I criticise myself for being too naive and turning small situations into extreme ones. The truth is nobody else is at fault but ourselves because we have full control over our own actions. We are willing to blame others for our mistakes in order to escape guilt or responsibility. Parents may have played some role in the way we have turned out to be, yet we know ourselves way too well as adults that most of it is our own fault, Maybe we did not realise that controlling our thoughts and actions could have been taken into our own hands if only we did not let all that negativity consume us.
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Original post: https://www.iqraonline.net/dialogue-with-believers/
An epidemic harming our communities is the general inability, hesitance & fear of engaging in dialogue with one another. In fact, in recent years, it appears there has been a significant increase in our communities engaging and initiating inter-faith dialogue, yet we do not see this phenomenon within our own communities. This is while we need such initiatives perhaps even much more so than inter-faith. We lack the ethics and etiquette of engaging in dialogue with other believers and this naturally weakens, distances and breaks up our communities on various fronts. This is of utmost concern particularly for the diaspora that is already in a vulnerable position – and things do not seem to be getting any better. Dialogue is not simply “speaking” – speaking is not the issue, in fact, many of us speak and have a lot to say, and our pulpits are occupied all year long with trained scholars, untrained lecturers and academics speaking.
A dialogue will generally have these three elements:
1) Two or more people
2) A subject of dispute or a subject that needs clarification
3) An expectation that the result of dialogue will either be in favour of you and/or the other party, or not (depending on the conclusion).
When dialogue does not take place, the results we observe are usually the belittlement of others, insults, accusations and rumours, swearing, and in fact, a lack of dialogue can even lead to physical confrontations, wars and bloodshed. These are of course all horrible consequences, particularly when the victims are no other than our selves. These consequences show that the subject of dispute was not resolved or there was no capacity to engage in a dialogue to begin with.
Why do we not engage in dialogue amongst ourselves? Are those who we disagree with amongst the believers so off the mark that we need to maintain a position against them like we should do with those who are genuine enemies of our belief? This is most often not the case at all and only in extremely exceptional circumstances do we have to encounter such groups of people – at which point it would be difficult to even classify them as believers. In the Treatise of Rights, Imam Sajjad (a) says that people of your creed enjoy the following rights over you:
The right of the people of your creed is harbouring safety for them, compassion toward them, kindness toward their wrong-doer, treating them with friendliness, seeking their well-being, thanking their good-doer, and keeping harm away from them. You should love for them what you love for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself. Their old men stand in the place of your father, their youths in the place of your brothers, their old women in the place of your mother, and their young ones in the place of your children.
Neglecting dialogue over matters of contention, more often than not, results in the trampling of some or all of these rights. So what prevents us from engaging in dialogue? Perhaps one or more of the following preliminaries required for dialogue do not exist:
1. The need to recognize other believers as noble creations of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Verse [17:70] says Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the children of Adam nobility and honour. In some of our communities, we see believers giving a lot of respect to Sayyids and this is not for any reason except for the fact that they are connected to the Prophet (p) through a chain of many generations. However, it behooves us to realize that we (and creation as a whole) are connected to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) directly (or as per certain schools of philosophy, we are the very connection itself). Looking at another believer through the lens of dishonour and painting them as ignoble will not lead us anywhere and signifies a much greater spiritual problem.
2. Acknowledging that humans are different from certain aspects – gender, ethnicities, tribes, physical and spiritual capacities, affinities, tastes etc. We have two types of Sunnah (pl. Sunan) – the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Sunnah of Allah. The Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) are divided into two: there are some Sunan that only become applicable when humans bring them upon themselves through their free-will; for example, the increased bestowal of guidance once we have wilfully chosen to come into Islam -
[47:17] As for those who are [rightly] guided, He enhances their guidance.
[19:76] Allah enhances in guidance those who are [rightly] guided.
There are some Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that are absolute, not conditioned to the free-will of man. One of these Sunan is His creating us different. These differences are one of the necessary conditions for trial and tribulation to have any meaning in this world.
[5:48] …and had Allah wished He would have made you one community, but [His purposes required] that He should test you in respect to what He has given you…
[6:165] It is He who has made you successors on the Earth, and raised some of you in rank above others so that He may test you in respect to what He has given you.
As such, it is normal that even within the same worldview, there will be times people reach different conclusions and do things differently. Acknowledging this opens the door to considering certain points of contention worthy of engagement. On the contrary, allowing these contentions to break us apart may very well be a sign that the believers are failing in their trials.
3. The lack of desire to engage in Ṣulḥ - to reach a conciliation and compromise. Ṣulḥ is often discussed in the context of resolving personal disputes and ironing out details of settlements, or as a treaty for halting warfare. But the general principles of Ṣulḥ can also be used to resolve larger community disputes – as was common in the Muslim world in the past and continues to be the case in many rural places. However, this generic understanding of Ṣulḥ only works if parties involved have a desire to discuss their disputes in a sincere manner (the details and mechanisms of Ṣulḥ have been discussed in detail in their appropriate places). One should not see the mere existence of differences as necessarily going against the command of holding on to the rope of Allah [3:103] - these two are reconcilable on many occasions as the scholars have mentioned. The absence of Ṣulḥ breaks and fragments the communities of the believers.
4. Reality is too vast and not all of it is in our hands. At any given point we have only understood certain aspects of it and that as well to a certain degree, not absolute reality –
[17:85] and you have not been given of the knowledge except a little.
We need to acknowledge that there are other perspectives and there is genuine room for these perspectives to be justified within an Islamic framework. The vastness of reality should alone be enough to humble and soften us to engage in dialogue with another party amongst the believers. The delusion of having uncovered all of the truth regarding a certain matter and behaving as if no one else could possibly say anything that would add anything to our knowledge is a deterrent and barrier for dialogue.
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I wish to share my thoughts on the concept of Unity. To do that, I have a perspective which is a cumulation of all the experiences of my life put together. My perspective may have a bias since it is a combination of the realities that I have lived and observed at different points in time.
In order to explain my thoughts, I am compelled to make the best use of my language skills. I believe the English Language is one of the most, if not THE most spoken languages in contemporary times. I start off by introducing myself to the reader. I like to think of myself as a being that is subject to constant evolution. Evolution in the form of mind, body, brain, soul, spirit, etc.
So in order to understand me, the reader should have a basic understanding of the concept of Unity, Duality, Multiplicity, and Infinity.
Since only certain things can be explained at any one point in time (because time is relative), my goal here is to explain the concept of Unity.
In Arabic (the language of the Arab people), Unity is analogous to the concept of 'Tawhid'.
But in order to continue in English, I will have to proceed and due to my limitations to explain this concept, and the readers' limitations to understand this concept, I will have to improvise.
Understanding Unity via Duality can be done in countless ways. The way I wish to do so is through the relativity of time. Basically, in order to explain Unity to you, I will keep time as a constant for a short period of time. It is at my discretion (at present) to pick a point in time to explain to you the concept as I am the speaker and you are the listener (presumably).
The point of time that I pick is one from history. I have picked it because of its significance in countless ways, depending on the observer of time. The date I've picked is the 10th of October 680 C.E (Common Era).
Since I am explaining Unity through Duality, I would now like to divide the recording of time in history via two methods already used. The Gregorian Calendar (the 12 months commonly used today, supposed to have marked the beginning of the Common Era, following the birth of Jesus Christ) and The Hijri Calendar (the 12 months commonly used by the Muslim population of the world, following the migration of Muhammad to Mecca).
10th of October in the Gregorian Calendar coincides with the 10th of Muharram in the Hijri Calendar. More specifically, 10th October 680 C.E = 10th Muharram 61 A.H.
Since we are now keeping 'time' a 'constant', we have limited 'space' to keep making progress.
So, in a few words, Unity explained via Duality means that at it's most basic, yet Absolute, Unity means two things (keeping in mind that time is NOT a constant). As we understand, Unity exists via space relative to time. I repeat, Duality of Unity is known in contemporary times as the Space-Time continuum.
Do we understand the Space-Time continuum? Maybe, maybe not. I'd prefer to think that we do understand this continuum. You, me, we, all of us understand it in a different way.
Coming back to time. To conclude this, on the 10th of October 680 C.E. (10th of Muharram 61 A.H.), an event took place.
ONE event, best explained to be a combination of Infinite events, held at the same point in time for Existence to comprehend the Infinite potential of mankind in the form of Duality.
The Duality of Right vs. Wrong. The Duality of Truth vs. Falsehood. The Duality of Being a Creation Vs. The Creator.
As long as we can compel ourselves to observe all of history via the concept of Unity and applying Duality at it constantly, it will only be by a miracle that we don't/can't SEE the truth, HEAR the truth, FEEL the truth.
Anything and Everything else is just pure coincidence.
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Needless to say, before we can perform our duty against bid'ah, the pre-requisite step is to be able to see and identify it. How many people are aware of the dangers of bid'ah but due to lack of understanding are nevertheless a victim of it. The reason is that bid'ah is extremely deceptive - it is disguised as a praiseworthy act that promises to earn abundant reward for the performer and bring him closer to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام). The deception is increased because we see each and every Shia around us performing these acts. To add to this, the popular scholars keep promoting bid'ah as their standing and livelihood depends on it.
It is sad to say that bid'ah has been so strongly established in the Shia religion that the actions performed under it are now considered to be pillars and foundation of religion. Anyone who dares speak against these actions risks being ridiculed and ostracized. If a Shia were to give up all the innovations practiced in the name of religion, he would find himself isolated, cut-off and lonely. But such is the path on which a true Shia must tread in order to prove his loyalty to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام).
Please refer to our previous two articles on bid'ah:
Scholars must speak against bid'ahQuote
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إذا ظهَرتِ البِدعُ في اُمّتي فلْيُظهِرِ العالِمُ علمَهُ ، فمَن لَم يَفعلْ فعَلَيهِ لَعنةُ اللّهِ
Rasool Allah (s) said: When the innovations appear in my community (ummah), the scholar must manifest his knowledge (I.e. speak against them). So the one who does not do so, upon him be the curse of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).
[Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 2]Quote
امام على عليه السلام : أفضَلُ عِبادِ الله إمامٌ عادِلٌ، هُدِِِىَ، فَأقامَ سُنَّةً مَعلومَةً، وأماتَ بِدعَةً مَجهولَةً
Imam Ali (عليه السلام) said: The most virtuous of Allah's servants near Allah is a just leader, who is guided and guides others, and who has established the known traditions, and who has abolished the doubtful/problematic (majhool) innovations.
[Nahjul Balagha, Serman 164]Quote
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : من أتى ذا بدْعةٍ فعطَّمهُ فإنَّما يَسْعى في هَدْمِ الإسلام
Rasool Allah (s) said: If one comes across an innovation and appreciates it (sides with it), so rather he has assisted in the demolition of Al Islam
[Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 3]
We must disassociate from the people of bid'ah
Below is a very strong hadith that highlights the danger of bid'ah.Quote
مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَبِي نَصْرٍ عَنْ دَاوُدَ بْنِ سِرْحَانَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص إِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ أَهْلَ الرَّيْبِ وَ الْبِدَعِ مِنْ بَعْدِي فَأَظْهِرُوا الْبَرَاءَةَ مِنْهُمْ وَ أَكْثِرُوا مِنْ سَبِّهِمْ وَ الْقَوْلَ فِيهِمْ وَ الْوَقِيعَةَ وَ بَاهِتُوهُمْ كَيْلَا يَطْمَعُوا فِي الْفَسَادِ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ وَ يَحْذَرَهُمُ النَّاسُ وَ لَا يَتَعَلَّمُوا مِنْ بِدَعِهِمْ يَكْتُبِ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ بِذَلِكَ الْحَسَنَاتِ وَ يَرْفَعْ لَكُمْ بِهِ الدَّرَجَاتِ فِي الْآخِرَةِ
The Messenger of Allah (s) said: When you will find people of bid'ah (innovation) and doubt/suspicion after me, do baraa' (disassociate) from them and increase in your insults (sabihim) to them, and oppose (them) and bring evidences against them so they may not become greedy in bringing fasaad (corruption) to Islam. You must warn people against them and do not learn their bid'ah (innovation). Allah will write for you hasanaat (good deeds) for this, and will raise you darajaat (levels) in the next life.
[Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Belief and Disbelief CH 163 H 4]Quote
أَبُو عَلِيٍّ الْأَشْعَرِيُّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْجَبَّارِ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ أَبِي نَجْرَانَ عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ يَزِيدَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع أَنَّهُ قَالَ لَا تَصْحَبُوا أَهْلَ الْبِدَعِ وَ لَا تُجَالِسُوهُمْ فَتَصِيرُوا عِنْدَ النَّاسِ كَوَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص الْمَرْءُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ وَ قَرِينِهِ
Abu Abd Allaah (عليه السلام) said: Do not befriend the Ahl Al-Bid'ah (People of Innovation), and do not sit with them, so you may become like one of them (according) to the people. The Messenger of Allaah (s) said: A man is upon the religion of his friends and associates.
[Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Belief and Disbelief CH 163 H 3]
Aabid vs AalimQuote
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : فَضلُ العالِمِ عَلى العابِدِ بِسَبعينَ دَرَجَةً، بَينَ كُلِّ دَرَجَتَينِ حُضْرُ الفَرَسِ سَبعينَ عاماً ؛ و ذلكَ أنَّ الشّيطانَ يَضَعُ البِدْعَةَ لِلنّاسِ فيُبصِرُها العالِمُ فَينهى عَنها، و العابِدُ مُقبِلٌ عَلى عِبادَتِهِ لا يَتَوَجَّهُ لَها و لايَعرِفُها
The Prophet (s) said: The knowledgeable man (aalim) is superior to the worshipper (aabid) by seventy degrees, the distance between two degrees spanning the gallop of a horse for seventy years; and this is because Satan plants an innovation (bid'ah) amongst the people which the knowledgeable man (aalim) notices and prohibits, whilst the worshipper attends to his worship neither taking any notice of it nor recognizing it.
[Rawdhat al Waaizin, #17]
An Aalim abolishes bid'ah because of his knowledge of the hadith. His knowledge leads him to limit his actions to those dictated by the Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) and will never overstep the defined boundaries. Of all the popular speakers today who are quick to jump on to the Mimbar, how many are true Aalims as defined by Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام)?
(Also published on blog: https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/08/24/our-duty-against-bidah/)
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Ya Rab! I never claimed that I am your absolute obedient, neither I say that I fulfill rights of my family and those around me. But, at least I keep a heart that hates my wrongdoing and is afraid of your punishment and your rejection. I am faqir in the world of piety, having no wealth to spend except remorse at my disobedience and I have always been keeping my eyes on the rich among the pious with eyes like that of a beggar who looks at the rich only if he pay attention to me and give me some from what you have granted him. I am disaster for myself, sinner who has no hope in himself. Several times you have saved me from my own mistakes yet I am not learning to be obedient. Who will help me if not you, while I have no hope in your creation among whom everyone is a player vying for their vested interests becoming trial for each other to ascertain what is his peer ? Sinner trying to find more sinners to appease his heart that he is not the only sinner and boastful good-doer trying people so that he can boast that no one is more righteous than him. I am one who say that I am absolute sinner mourning over my sins and biting my own hands as to why wasn't I much enlightened at the first place. Will you make me your humble servant, Ya Rab! knowing that I am a sinner yet I repent and feel bad and detest myself. Please forgive me for the sake of Ahlebait (عليه السلام).
This story is about a tea party, but actually it isn't about the party.
It isn't about the party that Anna Pavlovna holds, the one that many people know about but about whose subsequent events they remain unfamiliar. In fact if I wanted to I could try really hard and remind myself of the time I attended, but as I said that's not really the purpose of this story.
You see Sakina many people arrive at Anna Pavlovna's party with high hopes and expectations. They have a self-image of their literary prowess and they want to be able to tell everyone else that not only did they attend but that they experienced everything else that happened afterwards as well.
I was a bit like that to be honest. The first time I went I was about your age. I'd heard a lot about Anna Pavlovna's world and I wanted to be able to casually mention to friends and associates that I'd been. And so I would try so very very hard to get to know the attendees and to be honest it was impossible. I made many attempts and never got further than the entrance to the party itself.
So I tried a different tack.
I'd try less hard.
Instead of trying to get as far into this world as I could and meet as many people as I could, as quickly as I could, I would take the opposite approach.
I would only spend so much time at the party and I would stop, no matter how engaging the characters and no matter how interesting the stories that they had to tell.
And the next day I would come back to where I had left off and the people and the stories would still be there and slowly but surely I'd have the impetus to find out a little more about them and the following day a little bit more and so on.
In fact their lives became a little soap opera for me that went on for over a year and that's how I finished War & Peace.
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Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: 'Allah revealed to Dawud(as): " When one of my servants resorts to me and not to anyone of My creation, I know that from his inner intention, such that even if the skies and the Earth and their inhabitants were to conspire against him, I will make an outlet for him in spite of them. And when one of My servants resorts to one of my creatures, I know that too from his intention, such that I cut off the means of subsistence of the skies from him, and I will make the Earth disintegrate from under him, and do not care in which valley he perishes."' al-Kafi,v.2, p.52,no.1.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: ' Whoever from among the servants of Allah devotes himself towards that which Allah loves, Allah too devotes Himself to that which he loves. And whoever resorts entirely to Allah, Allah protects him, and whoever turns towards Allah, Allah accepts him and protects him, such that whether the sky was falling upon the Earth, or a calamity was to befall all the inhabitants of the Earth, he would in the Party of Allah, secure from all calamities. Indeed,does not Allah say: "Surely those who guard against evil are in a secure place?"' (Qur'an 44:51) al-Kafi,v.2,p.53,no.4
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Tolerance is inherently moral and necessarily social. And it can only be applied to people who are different, people you wouldn't consider part of "your" group. It is taught, a developed moral characteristic that may become part of who you are. We aren't born tolerant though, and that is why so many groups of influence have tried to develop this concept of group. Fascism itself is based on it. Our natural intolerance spreads as the worst virus if there are no forces to put an end to it. This is what sociology, so far, has been able to appreciate in the concept of tolerance at a macro-social level, and it has its reasons.
If tolerance is not natural to us, but rather "homophily" (the preference of those with similar characteristics: race, socio-economical class, ideology, etc.), then tolerance is a trait that we can only develop through education, and only if we find it any useful or right.
In the Qur'an it was already pointed that we were created in different groups:
"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another." (Surat al Hujurat)
So I can just expect that for an early Arabic society this indeed meant a call for tolerance for a religion that was going to spread across many nations. It was useful. However, nowaday, this is not what we, as individuals, face. Living in a globalized world, being connected by the Internet and its very own culture, tolerance seems less and less necessary and useful. Ideologies and groups compete between each other, and a call for tolerance is against the efforts to reinforce that feeling of group. It isn't useful for many. Not to mention that tolerance is a highly difficult trait to acquire, as it requires great efforts of empathy. Ask yourselves to which point can you accept the different? And I don't mean their mere existence, most don't care about that. I mean tolerating someone different that is part of your life, in some way or another. We have always been taught to be tolerant when it has been useful, but not because it is good, because it is morally right. Because it is not among the interest of any group of influence. Groups, as the master of history and sociology of the Muslim world once said, Ibn Khaldun, have only one goal: power.
That's why, even revolutions, that are supposed to be the fight for ideas, end up in some sort of fascism and/or dictatorship. Even when the people that lead them truly wanted free elections (modern history is full of examples of this, it is something we can't avoid). They are still necessary, though, for the progress of ideas.
What happens, however, in our societies? In the West, tolerance has been imposed as something useful, but racism, mysogyny, LGBTphobia, etc. are still realities that many people even hate to discuss (many people attack feminism, for instance). In the Muslim world, tolerance died centuries ago, and an enormous amount of groups appeared. We are still reinforcing through our culture this intolerance, based on unreasonable discrimination: country of origin, skin color, studies, amount of money, gender, sexuality, beliefs, family/tribe name, etc. You can realize this inability to accept the different for instance in the topic of marriage, at what type of characteristic will people, parents, or ourselves if we have sons or daughters to marry, will look at. And it's not always the obvious (like don’t be racist). It is usually ideological. We can't accept other mentalities because we weren't taught about that, because the group we belong to doesn't want that.
Tolerance isn't only about accepting black people, or trans people, or seeing women as equals. People will probably try to appear as tolerant in that sense, because it is useful for them. However, as a moral trait, these people are not genuinely tolerant, but conveniently civilized. Real tolerance is being able to respect others by their opinion, beliefs, lifestyle, and of course, biological circumstances. Accept them as long as you are not tolerating the intolerant.
This conflict is paradoxical, and it is a well known paradox in social sciences (originally proposed by Karl Popper). The problem with tolerating the intolerant, as I said at the start of this entry, is precisely how fast and easily their intolerance spreads (because it is natural). As individuals and iA as free thinkers, we should fight to develop tolerance within ourselves and condemn intolerance even when it is present in those people who are part of "our" group (be it our racial "group", ideological, whatever). Intolerance isn't a joke, it's a social human and moral issue of high importance, and has always shaped our destiny.
Thus, I can only advise my readers to dedicate some time to observe that aspect of their hearts, if they behaved in a tolerant manner, identify our errors, ask for forgiveness to the Most Merciful, and ask him to guide us and make us more aware of being tolerant when we are, again, tested in life. Remember to ask Him to guide me as well, iA.
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I had the privilege and honor of going to Umrah a few weeks ago. Having completed my hajj in 2010, it was time to pay Hijaz another visit to pay my respects to the Prophet (saw) and his progeny in Madinah and visit the House of Allah in Makkah.
Hopefully the pointers below will help anyone planning on going for Umrah.
First, if you haven't been to Saudi before, it is best to go with a registered group. It will make things easier for you because other than following instructions, there shouldn't be much to worry about..Also, if you don't speak arabic or urdu/hindi/bengali, then it would be better to go with a registered group because language can be an issue in some places.
Anyway, I decided to go with my family instead of a group. The primary hurdle in going to Saudi is getting a visa. These are things to remember:
- We had to apply to a local consulate but individual travelers cannot apply on their own. The visa application has to be submitted through an authorized travel agency.
- Even though the Umrah visa is free, these agencies charge between $175 - $200 per person for visa.
- Also, note that you can only apply within 30 days of going for umrah.
- You need to buy non-refundable return tickets before applying.
- The other mandatory requirement is to get a meningitis vaccination. CVS, Walgreens or RediClinic can do this without a prescription. Without insurance, it will cost between $150-$200. Get the vaccination record from the Pharmacy and submit it with your application.
- Common sense would dictate that you buy your tickets once visa approval is obtained but not in this case.
- Visa application usually takes about 1 week to process...might take longer during busy times.
Next decision is where to fly in/out from. If you decide to go to Makkah first, you will have to fly into Jeddah. Since Jeddah is inside the meeqat***, you will have to wear your ihram from the point of origin. So we chose to fly into Madinah first.
I would recommend either Turkish Airlines or Emirates. We flew Emirates from the US. We had a 5 hour layover in Dubai so we went out of the airport and had a nice dinner. US Citizens do not need a visa for Dubai (UAE).Came back to the airport around 11p for our 105a flight to Medinah.
We arrived in Madinah around 345a, got out of the airport by 445a. Since we were not part of a group, I made arrangements transportation arrangements with or hotel. It took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel right next to Masjid Al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Holy Prophet).
We stayed at Hotel Pullman Zamzam Madinah. Fantastic 5* hotel with great rooms and awesome breakfast. The only downside to the hotel is that it is on the opposite end of the Ladies entrance to the mosque so it took the ladies about 15 minutes to walk to the mosque. The hotel did provide a shuttle service for women at regular intervals.
After checking-in, we took a quick shower and made our way to the Mosque just in time for Fajr - individual, not jama'ah.
After every salah every day, the Saudis open Jana'at Al-Baqi for an hour or so. Much to my surprise, the Saudis were fairly relaxed in letting people get in, recite dua/ziarat albeit quietly and even take pictures.
Imam Hasan (as), Imam Sajjad (as), Imam Al-Baqar and Imam Al-Sadiq are buried here.
If I am not mistaken, I think Hz Umm-al-baneen is buried where I have drawn the red circle:
Went back to our hotel around 7am. We ate breakfast and finally went to bed after a 24 hours journey.
We woke up around 3pm and went to the Prophet's mosque for zuhrain. We prayed some other prayers so got back to the hotel around 430p. We rested a bit more and then made our way back to the mosque for maghribain around 7p. Once again, we stayed there for around 2 hours and then had dinner and then back to the hotel.
We are recommended to pray full zuhr/asr/isha in Medinah.
After taking an early night, we headed to the Prophet's mosque around 2am where we prayed salat-e-layl and other prayers. Returned to our hotel just after fajr. Our schedule for the rest of the day was the same as the previous day. However, there are other ziarats in Madinah one can visit:
- Masjid al-Shams
- Masjid al-Zul Qibltayn
- Masjid al-Quba
- The Saba Saba Masjids
- Masjid al-Fatah
- Masjid Salman al-Farsi
- Masjid al-Ali A.S.
- Masjid al-Bidi Fatimah Zehra A.S.
- Ohud – Hazrat Hamza A.S.
I stayed in the Prophet's mosque from 130am - fajr. I had the honor to pray salat-e-layl in Riyad-al-Jannah (Piece of heaven) - it is adjacent to the Prophet's grave. After salah, I went to Jana'at-al-Baqi for Ziarah al-wida (Farewell ziarah).
We rested for a couple of hours, had breakfast and then made preparations to head to Makkah for Umrah.
The main thing required is to perform a ghusl with the niyyah (intention) Niyyat: “I am doing Ghusl for the following for wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Sunnat Qurbatan Ilallah”. You cannot use scented soap when doing this Ghusl.
The next step is to wear the ihram. Ihram for men - consists of two pieces of white cloth and for ladies their usual daily wear is their Ihram, but it is highly recommended that it be white as it is the sign of purity.
Please not that even though one is wearing the ihram, the niyyah for Ihram is done later.
We bought our ihram in Medinah for about $20 (60-75 Saudi Rial).
We checked out of our hotel to make our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. I made transportation arrangements while in Medinah. It cost just under $200 for a personal mini-van.
We stopped at Ohud for 15-20 minutes for a quick ziarah of Hz Hamzah's grave.
Then we made our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. This is a designated point of wearing ihram per sharia. There are 6 other places as well in different parts of Saudi.
If you are already wearing ihram, you can take off the top portion and put it on again and make the niyyah (intention):
“I am wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Illallah”. Immediately after making the niyya, recite the talbiya (calling) in arabic:
Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik,
Labbaik La Sharika Laka Labbaik,
Innal Hamda WanNe’amata Laka Walmuka
La Sharika Laka Labbaik
This is to be recited as many times as possible until you reach the vicinity of Makkah.
After wearing the ihram and reciting talbiya, proceed to the inside of the Mosque and recite 2 rakat salat with the niyyah, "Offering 2 rakat salah for wearing ihram qurbatanillah".
Once you adorn the ihram and make the niyyah, there are about 25 things that become haraam upon a person.
Once we completed our prayers, we made our way towards Makkah, reciting talbiya as much as we could.
One thing to note is that in Shia fiqh, men ar enot allowed to travel under shade during the day while in ihram.so it is advisable to plan your journey such that you arrive in Masjid-e-Shajarah around maghrib. If traveling during hte day, then there is a kafarah (penalty) of 1 sheep.
We made a couple of stops on our way to Makkah which was about a 5 hour drive (430km or 250m)
Day Three - Arrival in Makkah:
We arrived in Makkah around 5pm. Since we had already prayed zuharain en route, we decided to rest a bit in our hotel. We woke up, did ghusl made our way to the Holy Kaaba around 730p. One has to be in wudu (or ghusl) for tawaf.
We prayed maghrib and isha and then started our umrah. These are the steps for umrah:
1) Perform tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba 7 times. The niyyah (intention) is:
I am going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah.
Since the masjid has several floors, it is important to remember that we can do tawaf on any floor as long as your height is below the top of the kaaba.
2) Upon completion of tawag, recite 2 rakat salat-e-tawaf behind the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Ibrahim) - recited just like fajr
I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf of Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
3) Perform Sa'ae (wudu not necessary). This is where you walk from Safa'a to Marwa 7 times (about 3.5km in total). Niyyah (intention) is:
I walk between Safaa and Marwah, seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
Going from Safa'a --> marwa = 1
Marwa --> Safa'a = 2
Safa'a --> marwa = 3
Marwa --> Safa'a = 4
Safa'a --> marwa = 5
Marwa --> Safa'a = 6
Safa'a --> marwa = 7
So you start at Safa'a and end at Marwa.
4) Once Sa'ae is over, the next step is taqseer (cuting part of mails of hair). Niyyah is:
I am performing Taqseer so as to be relieved of Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
It is best to do the 4 steps without too much of a break in between them. At this point, you can take a break and even take of your ihram.
5) Whether you take a break or not, the next step is to perform tawaf-e-Nisa. Everyone has to do this - young/old, man/woman, married/unmarried, etc.). Niyyah is:
I am doing Tawaaf-un-Nissa by going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
6) Last step is to perform salat tawaf-e-Nisa. Niyyah is:
I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf-un-Nissa for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
The entire umrah took about 2 - 2.5 hours to complete.
This is the completion of the umrah.
After completing our umrah, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.
We went to the Kaaba about 2 hours before fajr to perform Sunnah tawaf (each tawaf is 7 rounds). After each tawaf, reciting salat-e-tawaf is obligatory. You can make the intention of perfomr tawaf for others alive or deceased. This day was spent between our hotel and performing salah+tawaf throughout the day. There are other ziarah to be performed in makkah:
- Hajr al-Ismail
- Makaam al-Ibrahim
- Zam Zam
- Hills of Safa and Marwa
- Janab al-Khadijatul Kubra
- Janab al-Abu Talib
- Janab al-Abdul Mutalib
- Hazrat Abdullah
- Hazrat Amina Bint al-Wahab
- Masjid al-Jinn
- Cave of Thawr
- Cave of Hira
- Jabal al-Rahmah
- Muzdhalifa or Ma’shar
- Masjid al-Kheef - In Munna
We were able to perform the green ones above. We also had the opportunity to pray salat in the hateem which is not always open. We were able to touch the kaaba several times including rukn-e-Yemeni (corner from where Hz Fatima bint Assad went inside the kaaba to deliver Hz Ali (as).
Pic in hateem under the kaaba
Cloth of the kaaba - it is actually pieces of cloth sewn together instead of a very large piece of cloth.
We performed our final prayers and then checked out of our hotel to go to Jeddah airport. We flew from Jeddah --> Dubai and stayed there overnight, then flew back to the US.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Saudis were pretty lenient this time.People were free to pray and take pictures as they wanted...for the most part. I would recommend taking salah, dua and ziarah information on your phones rather than books.
I will also try to upload the guidebook I used for most of the trip.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I tried to cover the most important aspects of umrah.
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