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In the Name of God بسم الله
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A ShiaChat Reunion?


Ibn al-Hussain

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:salam:

As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for :confused:.

As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree :blush:), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.

This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.

On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries. 

Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.

Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.

@Baatil Ka Kaatil  @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.

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  • Veteran Member
6 minutes ago, hayaah said:

Hardly anyone uses facebook these days....

I suppose it depends, statistically, more people are logging into facebook than ever before.

I was basing my answer on having spoken to a brother who used to be very active here, I was trying to get him to come back, he said that he was happy on fb as Islamic pages were more active than sc.

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  • Veteran Member
37 minutes ago, Heavenly_Silk said:

Could it also be that most of the "popular" topics have been discussed repeatedly, people may feel like there is not much to contribute to anymore?

I don't think that is the case. Since I've come to the seminary, I realized that there are a plethora of topics that are being discussed or can be discussed, or a lot of new insight that can be shed on topics, even on previously discussed topics. Most of these discussions are taking place, but they never make their way into the Western world for various reasons. 

For example, the role of history in our understanding of jurisprudence and its application, the role of ethics and human rights in our application of Islamic law, the role of the intellect in our day to day life - how balanced do we have to be between using our intellect and relying on faith. These are topics that require some degree of knowledge - but previously we had a decent number of members who would have been able to engage in these discussions.

However other social and family related issues like role of women and men in a society and within a family (old topic, but a lot of new light can be shed here, given recent changes in society's understanding), dealing with domestic violence and abuse, the future of our children's education in the West, the doubts and challenges millennials are facing etc. there are all these issues that can and should be discussed with more innovative perceptions. Some of the blog posts Br. @Qa'im makes on his blog are of extreme importance today. They should perhaps be discussed further on the forums.

Obviously you also have the Qur'anic and Hadith related topics as well that never get old and there is always new developments happening there, but once again it just seems there are not enough people of caliber left to engage in these sort of discussions.

This has been my observation.

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain
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6 minutes ago, notme said:

I do think the site went through a period of excessively heavy handed moderation and people got banned or left. I'm not in contact with anyone from the old times anymore, but I'd love to know how some of them are doing. 

Amen. 

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  • Advanced Member
6 hours ago, hayaah said:

Hardly anyone uses facebook these days....

Every university student uses facebook, If you don't, I don't care you're not at university :D (Slight exaggeration)

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9 hours ago, Ali_Hussain said:

That is part of the reason, however I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine. What did the mods think was going to happen? That kind of behaviour, first of all comes across as rude, and secondly doesn't allow the user to develop a taste for what this forum is supposed to be about.

There are of course other issues, such as facebook being such a popular platform.

We have got to make registering and posting questions easier on this board. In the past you could register without having such strict restrictions.

 

Edited by uponthesunnah
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I'm not entirely convinced forums are dead, given reddit, and other popular online forums. I think the problem we have is multifaceted, and there are many factors which users here have posted and are legitimate.

But at the same time, i see a very simple solution we can begin to work with:

1. Make it easier to register and post on shiachat. Remove as much red-tape as possible, while balancing user safety. I say many new users register, see the red tape, and just leave. 

2. Advertise the forum. Many people aren't on shiachat because there has not been any concerted effort to recruit members to the forum.

3. Be a little bit more lax about banning.

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  • Forum Administrators

I think it's easier to register and participate than ever before. Now you can register through your FB account, and you no longer need 50 posts to use the chatroom or PM.

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  • Veteran Member

I remember back then we used to play some shooting game (was it Deus Ex?) with all SC teams. It was fun. I have been and still am the estranged uncle of SC. :D I have enjoyed my stay very much, being in touch with such fine people. I have also learnt a lot from SC. Sometimes I ask SC'ers for prayers when I find myself knees deep in poop and it works.

Perhaps one of the reasons why there are less posters of the intellectual kind is because of lack of serious and deep discussions about religious and social issues and therefore less opportunity to learn and share new things. Perhaps because nowadays people get offended more or feel violated and insulted when challenged? Or with age we feel more shy to discuss things. I don't know.

Anyway it is good to read from you brother. I also badly miss the old gang and brave souls like So Solid Shia who faced the fires of moderation defiantly till they got burnt. :D But in any case I think the need is to facilitate proper debates and discussions to provide content for the seeking minds because issues like moderation rules will always be all but imperfect.

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  • Forum Administrators
23 hours ago, Ali_Hussain said:

I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine.

1. In the introduction phase few people knew about the site and there were not many users

2. In the growth phase the topics were being discussed for the first time. So there was tons and tons of debate. Over time for each topic the number of new angles that could be covered was reduced. So the scope for debate and discussion was reduced also (see point 3).

2a. That scope would be reduced firstly because when people google a topic it's more likely to give them specific threads on shiachat that have covered it before. And they'd get their answer directly from an old thread.

2b. If they still persist in asking, as moderators it's our job to show them threads where there may already have been well-researched discussion. This is really important from a hygiene point of view.

3. For each topic as the scope for general and superficial debate is reduced, there remains scope for more detailed and in-depth discussion. But most laypeople do not have the knowledge (or inclination) for this because it is boring. People from seminaries could fill the gap, but they choose not to (see my final point).

Well-informed posters tend NOT to keep posting ad nauseam. And it's our job as moderators to refer people to those answers and ask them to come back if they have an angle that has not already been covered.

Someone seeking truth will understand the reasonableness of this approach. A troll will leave. Good.

There is a contradiction in your post. You say that people in the seminaries don't visit Shiachat and yet also criticise moderators for shutting down threads that are likely to be repetitive, trivial and/or titillating.

Surely the latter policies should attract the more serious sort of person who attends a seminary?

To be honest if there is a contingent of ex-Shiachatters in the seminaries, I am afraid their absence says more about them than it does about this site and it's not favourable.

Edited by Haji 2003
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      The Holy Quran challenges the idea of multiple gods or even a lower form of god by stating:
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      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)]
    • By Muntazir e Mahdi in Bayaan e Muntazir
         0
      کتنی بار تو انسانیت کو مارے گا بتا؟
      کب تک تو کائینات کو رلائے گا بتا؟

      کعبة سے تو کرارؑ کو کرپایا نہ ختم
      کب تک تو دیواروں سے مٹائے گا بتا؟

      نامِ حق سے باطل تیرا کام ہے منافق
      کب تک تو حق کو جھٹلائے گا بتا؟

      تیری سیاہ روح، نہ کوئلہ، ہے جہنم کا ایندھن
      کب تک تو جلتے در سے منہ موڑے کا بتا؟

      آتا ہے بقية اللّٰهؑ اور دَورِ عدل و انصاف
      کب تک تو اپنے انجام سے بھاگے گا بتا؟

      تو  نے بہایا نہ صرف آب تو نے بہایا ہے لہو
      کب تک تو منتظر کو اس سے لکھوائے گا بتا؟
    • By Muntazir e Mahdi in Bayaan e Muntazir
         0
      حوائج

      آؤ ذرا لہر و ہوا دیکھنے چلیں
      ساحل سے ذرا کچھ لینے چلیں
      جیب میں اشیاء نہ کہیں ملیں
      بس آس کا علم ساتھ لے کے چلیں
      آؤ اس راہ پر قدم تو رکھیں
      باب الحوئج سے ذرا ملنے چلیں
      ہاتھوں سے تڑپتی آنکھوں کو ملیں
      کچھ اشک ذرا کوثر تک چھوڑنے چلیں
      دل کھول کر اس کریم کو مخاتب کریں
      واسطہِ عظیم پھر دیتے چلیں
      بےبازو سے ہاتھ جوڑ کے کہیں
      اس چھپے کو سامنے رکھ کے چلیں
      سانسِ سکون لے کر اب آگے بڑھیں
      آؤ منتظر اب سفر طے کر کے چلیں
    • By peace4alltheworld in Book blog
         0
      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.
      https://www.al-islam.org/self-building-ibrahim-amini/translators-foreword
    • By ShiaLuma in My Feelings and Emotions About Myself
         9
      Salaam everyone.
      I am very nervous about who's going to win. Trump is slightly edging out Hillary Clinton. I fear for the Muslims living in the US. I fear that something bad might happen. I really hope they are ready for when Trump starts his plan of banning Muslims, they need to find a safe place to reside. Luckily, I am in Canada which is a very safe home where I was born. I am fine with Justin Trudeau as prime minister succeeding Stephen Harper (who was going to make things worse for Muslims). Justin Trudeau is not that racist towards Muslims like Trump is, he is actually nice when compared to the racist garbage that Trump spews out. Canada is a good home for Muslims.  I am really worried as I am writing this. I really do not want Trump to win.
    • By ShiaLuma in My Feelings and Emotions About Myself
         11
      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.
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