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In the Name of God بسم الله
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ShiaMan14

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I had been planning to go to Iran for a long time and finally made it a priority for me in 2016. Since I wanted to mix in sightseeing and pilgrimage in the same trip, I decided to go on my own instead of in a group.

As it turned out, getting an individual visa for Iran when traveling from the US is a real hassle. We need to get permission from the Iran Foreign Ministry and then apply for the visa at the Iran Mission housed within the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC. After struggling for almost 3 weeks, I was able to find Taha Ziyarat Group (tahaziyarat@gmail.com) based out of Toronto that obtained the necessary approval for me for $90.

Once I got my approval, I sent my passport off to the Iran Mission in Washington. I did have to follow up with them almost daily to ensure they processed my visa application expeditiously. I received my passport 4 days before flying out.

While I was waiting for the visa approval, I booked my flights on Qatar Airways for a bargain price of $700 return to/from US-Tehran. For in-country arrangements, I know a maulana (NAJ) there who arranged everything for me based on my budget.

Finally, the big day came and I left for Iran on Wed Mar 23rd arriving in Tehran late Thu evening (Mar 24th). NAJ had arranged for a driver to pick me up and drive straight to Qum instead of spending the night in Tehran. The drive from IKA (Imam Khomeni Airport) to Qum took about 90 minutes. The driver barely spoke English but knew where to pick me up from and where to drop me. We arrived at Qum International Hotel around 1245am (Fri Mar 25th). The hotel was about a *** US hotel, higher for Iran.

 

Day 1 (Fri):

 

We prayed fajr in our room and went back to bed. Since breakfast was included in our price, we went down for breakfast around 9a – nice long buffet.
NAJ contacted me around 10am and picked me up from the QIH around 1030a to take me to the Roza of Masooma-e-Qum. We walked to the roza and were there at 1035a. The hotel is the closet one to the roza.

NAJ showed us around the haram and provided us some background about Masooma and her roza. From 1130a – 2p, we were on our own to recite ziyarat, salah-e-jumah and dua. I wandered around the roza and made my way to the masjid adjoining the roza. It is an absolutely beautiful mosque.

They had beautiful recitations of the quran and then some speeches followed by Azaan. The Jumah khutba was recited by an Ayatollah in Farsi (of course) and then namaz-e-jumah. Although I did not understand most of the khutba, one thing that was unmistakable was the ‘marg-al-Amreeka’ chants (down with America or death to America). They were loud and boisterous.

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Shrine of Bibi Masooma Qum (as).

After salah-e-jumah, NAJ took us to the Suffrah of Masooma where were had a decent meal of rice with spinach with potatoes.

We went to our hotel after lunch for some R&R and then returned to the haram for maghribain. After namaz, NAJ took us around the bazaar outside the haram. The clothing looked like they were from the 70s and 80s. Religious paraphernalia including irani chador were well stocked and affordably priced. Almost evey other shop sold halwa-suhan.

 

Day 2 (Sat):

 

We spent most of this day driving around to the various ziarats around Qum.

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Bait Al-Noor. Musallah of Masooma (as). This is where she spent time praying.

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Shrine of an Imamzadeh (Son of an Imam).

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Shrine of Hz. Hamza bin Musa Kazim (as).

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Day 3 (Sun):

 

This was by far the most hectic day of the trip. We left around 5am to drive from Qum to Isfahan. It was about a 4-hour drive. I was surprised how much of the Iranian country was desert. The deserts in the Middle East countries (UAE, Saudi) have a lot of fine yellow sand. Iranian deserts are more rocky than sandy.

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Upon entering Isfahan, we visited the shrine of Masooma Zainab bint Imam Musa Khadim (as) – Masooma Qum’s younger sister.

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Next stop was the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan. We spent a few minutes here and then walked to Allama Majlisi’s tomb nearby. His house and surrounding are well preserved.

Next was the more secular part of the Ishafan visit.

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We went to Naqsh-e-Jahan (half of the world) which is the main plaza of Isfahan. The weather was great and since the Nawroz holidays were still going on, it was packed with people.

Within Naqsh-e-Jahan is the Ali Qapu Palace

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Panamoric View from Ali Qapu Palace Balcony of Naqsh-e-Jahan

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Since it was almost lunch time, we stopped by a street restaurant selling A’ash

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After lunch, we went to the Vank Cathedral. This Christian monastery was established in 1606. It contains some amazing art work.

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From here, we went to Khaju Bridge for some more sightseeing.

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At this point, we were too tired to do anything else so we headed back to Qum – 4 hour journey mostly spent napping.

 

Day 4 (Mon):

After a hectic day, sleep was going to be the primary thing on the agenda for this day but there was too much to do. We prayed fajr at the mosque next to Masooma-e-Qum’s shrine:

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Mosque adjacent to Masooma-e-Qum's shrine

And then went back to our hotel for more sleep. We had breakfast and got ready for another fun-filled travel day.

We started off by going from Qum to Mashad-e-Ardehal. This site contains the tomb of Sultan Ali son of Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) and brother of Imam Jafar Sadiq (as). Sultan Ali was brutally killed here by his enemies.

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From here we drove to a hilltop/mountaintop with streams running down. We had to walk down about 500 meters and got a great view of a waterfall.

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The most distinct feature of this area of the smell of rose water distilleries all over the place. You could get rose water for a variety of needs including simple hot rose water tea. The other distinct item being sold was fresh bee hives dripping with honey. And yes, we tried hot rose water tea with honey.

From here, we went to the city of Kashan. Our first stop was an ancient archeological site called Tepe Sialk. The Sialk ziggurat

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Note: Entrance for most places have an Iranian Rate and a Foreigner rate (up to 3X in places). We had our driver buy the tickets and we would walk in with him talking to us in Farsi. Yes – very sneaky indeed. I excused myself by convincing myself that since both my wife and I are of Iranian descent, we qualify for the discount. :) 

 

Final stop of our day trip to Kashan was to the oldest extant garden in Iran known as the Bagh-e-Fin or Fin Garden.

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Although this was a less hectic day than the trip to Isfahan, we were still pretty tired so we drove back to Qum, had a 12-in falafel sandwich, prayed maghraibain at the haram and went to bed.

Day 5 (Tue):

The past couple of days had left us tired so we decided to take it easy.

We went to the haram for fajr then went back to bed. We woke up just in time to catch breakfast and then went to the local market (wish I took pictures). From there we went for zohrain at the mosque adjacent to Masooma’s shrine.

After a quick bite to eat, we left for the Koh-e-Khizr aka Mountain of Khizr. What was supposed to be a light day in terms of exercise became a very intense and steep climb to the top of Koh-e-Khizr. It was well worth it in the end because we got a great view of the entire city of Qum if not the whole province.

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Got more daunting as we got closer.

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For the record, the old gentleman in the pic IS NOT ME :)

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City/Province of Qum.

 

Needless to say the climb down was nowhere near as arduous as the climb up. There was a small food vendor about half from the top. On our way up, we bought some water from him and then ice cream on the way down.

After resting by the car for a few moments, we drove nearby to the Masjid-e-Jhamkaran, located on the outskirts of Qum. A brief history of this grand mosque is that it  has long been a sacred place, at least since 373 A.H., 17th of Ramadan (22 February 984 C.E.), when according to the mosque website, one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani is reported to have met Muhammad al-Mahdi along with the prophet Al-Khidr. Jamkarani was instructed that the land they were on was "noble" and that the owner — Hasan bin Muslim — was to cease cultivating it and finance the building of a mosque on it from the earnings he had accumulated from farming the land.

As we had been told, the mosque starts getting filled up from about 5pm and gets fuller and fuller as the evening progresses. I am not sure if it was because of Nawruz season but it definitely had a very 'carnival' and festive feel to it. People had spread out their rugs all across the mosque courtyard and were reveling with family and friends. There was hot tea brewing and koobideh with naan being shared by one and all.

Quran and then different duas were being recited, followed by maghribain and then more duas. We left around 830p to go back to our hotel.

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Mosque sparely populated around 4pm.

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Crowded!!! (730pm).

 

Day 6 (Wed):

 

Today was the big day when we would finally make our way to Mashad. We had packed the previous night so we left right after fajr – and yes, I skipped breakfast!!!

 

First stop was First stop was an almost 2 hour drive to Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum.   It is located to the south of Tehran in the Behesht-e Zahra (the Paradise of Zahra) cemetery. Construction commenced in 1989 following Khomeini's death on June 3 of that year. It is still under construction, but when completed will be the centerpiece in a complex spread over 5,000 acres, housing a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary, a shopping mall, and a 20,000-car parking lot. The Iranian government has reportedly devoted US$2 billion to this development. It is definitely one of the largest and most beautiful mausoleums I have come across.

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Visitors reciting fatiha for Ayatollah Khomenei.
Please recite surah fatiha for Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini.

 

Next stop was the Astana Bibi Shehr Bano. On the ground level there is a cave which according to legends was the place where Zuljinah brought Bibi from Kerbala, and she was there until hostile people to Bani Hashim got news of her being there, and they tried to catch her. She climbed the hillock and then vanished in a mountainous wall. Now a zarih has been constructed together with prayer rooms for men and women.

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Zarih of Hz. Shehr Bano.                                                                    View of other side of Tehran.

 

who was a fifth generation descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Alī and a companion of Muhammad al-Taqī. A piece of paper was found in his pocket outlining his ancestry as being: ‘Abdul ‘Adhīm son of ‘Abdillāh son of ‘Alī son of Husayn son of Zayd son of Hasan ibn ‘Alī.Shah Abdul AzeemNext stop was the Shrine of

Adjacent to the shrine, within the complex, include the mausolea of Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the fourth shia Imam Sajjad) and Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the eighth Twelver Imām - Imām Reza).

 

 

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From here, we drove around the City of Tehran including the famed part known as Rey. I am fairly well traveled but I have to say that Tehran is one of the most picturesque cities I have visited. Situated in close proximity of the Alborz range and its majestic peak Mount Damavand , being the highest in Iran with a height of 18,550 feet ,it is a mega city of about Thirty Million People.

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You can see hundreds of buildings at the foot of the mountain. Not a bad view to wake up to every morning.

 

After driving around for a couple of hours, our driver dropped us of at Tehran’s Mehrabad Intl Airport which is primarily used for domestic travel. The airport is in the heart of Tehran or at least within the city.

The airport has a small cafeteria that serves hot meals of the local variety. They also have a coffee shop and ice cream parlor.

After a 2-hour wait, we finally boarded our short (1-hr) flight to Mashad. The flight was as uneventful as all flights can be. I did enjoy a small boxed-meal they offered everyone despite the short flight. It made up for the breakfast that morning J.

Naj had arranged a friend of his (Ali) to be our tour guide for the stay in Mashad. Since Ali’s English was a little weak, he brought along his sister (Afsanay) who was quite fluent in English.

We checked into our Hotel (Hotel Omid). It is definitely one of the nicer hotels in Mashad.

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View of shrine from our hotel room balcony.

We quickly refreshed and headed over to the Shrine of Imam Reza (as). Much to our pleasant surprise, the shrine was not as packed with zawar as we expected. It could have been the weather or Nawruz.

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About to enter the main hallway of the Shrine for the first time. Goose bumps.

 

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As salaam alai ka Ya Ghareeb Al Ghuraba (as)

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One of the many courtyards within the Shrine Complex of Imam Ali Reza (as).

 

Day 7 (Thu):

 

Although our intention was to go to the haram in Imam Al-Reza (as) for fajr, it was raining too hard with heavy winds to walk so we prayed in our rooms and went back to sleep.

We woke up to this view:

 

 

After a world class buffet breakfast, we met up with Ali and Afsanay to go to Nishapour. Once again, it was a very scenic drive. The mountain-desert country just has a certain serenity about it. On the way, we saw small villages celebrating nawroz in their own way.

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Our first stop was at the Qadamgah – where the footprints of the Holy Imam Al-Reza (as) can be found. Adjacent to it is a small stream said to bring benefits of all kinds to the zawar.

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Panoramic view of the building housing the footprint.
 

Just before entering the area of the qadamgah is a small caravansary which use to house people back in the day.

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There were probably abour 20-25 room like the one shown above. Very basic room with a hearth in the middle. The rooms were considered high end. Outside the caravansary, there was just the open shelter (pretend there is no room just the outer part).

Next stop was to the mausoleum of Bibi Shatitay. The legend goes that Imam himself came there and led the Namaz-e-janaza prayers for her.

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We made a brief stop at the historic Shah Abbas Inn/Caravansary which has been converted into several small shops selling jewelry or souvenirs. Nishapur is famous for its turquoise stone (firoza).

Next stop was the shrines of Imamzade Mahruq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Sajjad (as) and Ebrahim bin Ahmad bin Moosa bin Jafar (as). 

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A short walk from here was the tomb of Omar Al-Khayam – one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy.

 

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A short drive from here was the mausoleum of Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim aka Attar Nishapuri - a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.

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If memory serves me right, next to Attar’s tomb was an archeological site from thousands of years ago. It was going through extensive renovations at the time.

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Our last stop was a very famous local restaurant called Emirat Restaurant. Undoubtedly the best lamb koobideh I have ever had!!! My wife and I had some very interesting conversations with Ali and Afsanay. They were both fascinated by our lives in America. They had no qualms about asking me my salary; the size and cost of our house; they were surprised if not shocked that it was okay for my wife to go grocery shopping by herself and it was perfectly safe. They were under the impression that any woman who stepped out of her house by herself was 'asking for it'. I thought it was hilarious. Now that I think about it, everything the Western media does to paint Muslims in a certain light happens in Iran too but backwards. The Western media takes 1 bad Muslim story and tries to apply it to all Muslims. The Iranian media takes a bad Western story and applies it to all Westerners. This was just my observation and nothing more.

We had some other interesting conversations but those are for another day and another time. 

We drove back to Mashad and spent the evening the haram of Imam Al-Reza (as).

Day 8 (Fri):

We prayed fajr at the haram and went back to bed; then woke up to this beautiful view.

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Beautiful view of Roza of Ima Ali Reza (as).

Since it was Friday, we stayed in our room until 11a or so and then headed to the haram again. Good thing we went early because it was fuller than we had seen since we got there.

So I got a good spot in the mosque adjacent to the haram. I heard the Friday sermon (understood bits and pieces) and the “Death to American” chants, then prayed juma followed by Asr.

 

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Mosque adjacent to Imam Ali Reza's (as) shrine.

Next was one of the most essential parts of the trip. One may not get this opportunity all the time. We had to take our passport to the office of Pilgrims situated in the Haram of Imam Ridha’s (as). They marked our passport and gives us a ticket for the meal. At the restaurant, they feed almost 4000 Zuwar each day. Thousands of Iranians must wait for years before they get a chance to have a meal at this restaurant.

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Lunch at Imam's restaurant (dastakhawan)

Following lunch, Ali and Afsanay picked us up for some sightseeing. We drove around Mashad, saw her university and then went to ziarat nearby

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Ziarat near Mashad

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Iranian country side. Notice the marked difference in scenery from the previous pictures.

On our way back, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for some traditional Persian ice cream. The last stop was a nearby pewter mountain. I was amazed to see people climbing it without any concern for safety. It was rainy and slick. Mrs ShiaMan14 bought a very nice souvenir.

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We came back, rested for a bit and then went to the haram for salah.

Day 9 (Sat):

This was the day to head back to Tehran. We spent the entire night at the haram until fajr. Then came back to get some rest. We got up after a couple of hours, had some breakfast and packed. We took all our luggage downstairs and went back to the haram for zuhrain. We also did the farewell ziarat, rushed back to the hotel since Ali was waiting for us.

We got to the Mashad International Airport around 245pm for a 530p flight - plenty of time.

Just as Ali left us, NAJ gave me a call informing me that my flight had been cancelled so he booked me on the last flight to Tehran (happened to be the cheapest option). This is when panic set in. If the last flight got cancelled, I  would miss my flight from IKA to Doha and the subsequent flight to US.

I could see on the monitors that there were several flights from the time now until my new flight time although all of them were on a different airline than mine. I called NAJ to ask if my ticket could be changed and he said it would not be possible. So I saw the flight I wanted about 1.5 hours later and went to their sales office. First, they couldnt understand why I wanted another ticket when I already had one. My farsi and their english were too awful to understand each other but nevertheless they allowed me to buy 2 tickets. 

Next problem - I did not have any Iranian Rials on me and the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT did not have a Money Exchange! So I had to call Ali back to see if he had any rials that he could give me in exchange for dollars. By this time, he was about 20 minutes away so we had to wait for him to come back. In the meanwhile, the Sales Agent agreed to take my dollars at a fairly decent exchange rate. Basically, I bought 2 one-way tickets from Mashad to Tehran for about $100. Just as we finalized the transaction, Ali came back and I had to explain the whole thing to him as well. He, too, was confused as to why I would buy another ticket when I already had one. 

Anyway, we finally put all that behind us, checked-in and were on our way to Tehran.

After an uneventful journey to Tehran, we drove all the way to Qum to sepnt about 3-4 hours in Qum at NAJ's house. We freshened up, ate a really nice meal and got ready to leave.

Day 10 (Fri):

We left Naj's house around 1am and reached IKA by 215am. Since this was the last or day after Nawruz holidays, the airport was jam packed. It took an hour to check-in, the security lines were considerably shorter so in another 15 minutes, we were at our gate. Boarding started just around fajr, so we prayed quickly and boarded our Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

I was a bit nervous about returning to the US from Iran but had no problems whatsoever.

A very placid end to a very hectic but thoroughly enjoyable trip.

Summary:

Iranians are a very joyous and happy people. There was no patch of grass where we didn't see a family setting up a picnic be it as a roadside or a courtyard of a shrine. I really wish relations between Iran and the West improves so the people can really experience the rich, colorful and impressive history, geography and culture Iran has to offer.

Our entire 10 day trip cost about $1,600/pp. It was money well spent.

 

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  • Advanced Member
22 hours ago, shiaman14 said:

Salaam,

This was March 2016.

Inshallah next time. 

 

Shiraz is the host of one of the most ancient sites of Iran and the world, which is called takhte jamshid in Persian and Persopolis in English, and also there's a shrine for the older brother of Imam Rida(as), Hazrat Ahmad ibn Musa(as) or as we call him shah cheragh (the king of light) in Shiraz, and many other shrines too

There's also the tombs of two of the greatest Persian poets here in Shiraz, one is Hafez who was shia and the other one is Sa'di who was sunni.

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On 3/8/2017 at 0:14 AM, Hidaren said:

Shiraz is the host of one of the most ancient sites of Iran and the world, which is called takhte jamshid in Persian and Persopolis in English, and also there's a shrine for the older brother of Imam Rida(as), Hazrat Ahmad ibn Musa(as) or as we call him shah cheragh (the king of light) in Shiraz, and many other shrines too

There's also the tombs of two of the greatest Persian poets here in Shiraz, one is Hafez who was shia and the other one is Sa'di who was sunni.

Yes I definitely need to. Due to time constraints, we had to choose between Isfahan or Shiraz but I definitely want to see Persepolis one day inshallah.

If I had the time, I would have taken a train from Tehran --> Isfahan --> Shiraz --> Mashad with 1-2 day stops in Isfahan and Shiraz but it wasnt to be.

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Re: climate

It's a shame that some Iranians are somehow ashamed of our climate? So I think they try to push the idea of Iran having a sort of European climate, which it does not. And then other people begin to get this impression, which is probably why you had the perception you did.

But it is true what you said: Iran does have sand deserts but most of the desert is rocky and mountanous. Two thirds of Iran is desert, but two thirds is also mountanous, which obviously means there is some overlap. And although much of the country has four seasons, precipitation in Iran is only about a third of the global average, and even then a lot of that is accounted for by the very rainy climate in the north.

I personally love the mountain-deserts and think they are nothing to be ashamed of. Besides: if there are a very successive days of rain those barren mountains will begin to look lush and green. That's the beauty of a climate which changes. 

Aside from the major ziyarah sites I would recommend you go to Lorestan. Beautiful nature and cultural peculiarities / lifestyle which are astounding.

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On 3/8/2017 at 4:47 PM, realizm said:

:salam:

Why did you drive back to Qum after each of your visits? Just curious.

You must have lost time and money by doing so.

:ws:

Good question.

Initially, we wanted to drive from Qum to Isfahan and stay there overnight. The next day, we would go to Kashan and then back to Qum. 

Unfortunately, since it was Nawroz season, a lot of the hotels were booked in Isfahan so we couldn't secure a good hotel. Also, our driver was from Qum so we would have had to pay for his accommodation as well. Plus traveling with luggage was a factor.

If we had traveled by train, then I would have definitely stayed overnight in Isfahan. Kashan was good for the few hours we spent there and it was only a 2-hr drive so definitely not worth staying overnight.

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50 minutes ago, baradar_jackson said:

Re: climate

It's a shame that some Iranians are somehow ashamed of our climate? So I think they try to push the idea of Iran having a sort of European climate, which it does not. And then other people begin to get this impression, which is probably why you had the perception you did.

But it is true what you said: Iran does have sand deserts but most of the desert is rocky and mountanous. Two thirds of Iran is desert, but two thirds is also mountanous, which obviously means there is some overlap. And although much of the country has four seasons, precipitation in Iran is only about a third of the global average, and even then a lot of that is accounted for by the very rainy climate in the north.

I personally love the mountain-deserts and think they are nothing to be ashamed of. Besides: if there are a very successive days of rain those barren mountains will begin to look lush and green. That's the beauty of a climate which changes. 

Aside from the major ziyarah sites I would recommend you go to Lorestan. Beautiful nature and cultural peculiarities / lifestyle which are astounding.

I was born in UAE so whenever I think of a desert, the first thing that comes to mind is the fine yellow sand of those deserts.

I, too, love mountain-deserts. They have their own beauty. It reminded me of the drive from Damascus to Halab. Very similar geography but I think Iran is more mountainous.

In our ~10 days there, we really saw all kinds of weather from really hot to freezing cold.

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Mashallah a very nice place. I hope you enjoy every bit of the journey. I am an Australian however, I come from Iraq, Najaf and whenever I visit Iraq and see the holy shrines it is very calming and a pleasant place to be in. Inshallah one day you can visit all the holy shrines of Ahululbayt in Iraq. Please make Dua for us.

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Mashallah, may Allah grant us ziyarat Imam Reza as

 

May I ask you which hotel you stayed in Mashad? And what did you pay for it?

Edited by ElAhmed
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3 hours ago, ElAhmed said:

Mashallah, may Allah grant us ziyarat Imam Reza as

 

May I ask you which hotel you stayed in Mashad? And what did you pay for it?

Sorry brother. I should have included that info.

We stayed at Hotel Omid. It was newly renovated in Feb-2016. To be honest, I don't know the rate. I worked a package deal with the person who arranged the entire trip.

I will provide the details at the end.

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3 hours ago, shiaman14 said:

Sorry brother. I should have included that info.

We stayed at Hotel Omid. It was newly renovated in Feb-2016. To be honest, I don't know the rate. I worked a package deal with the person who arranged the entire trip.

I will provide the details at the end.

No akhi, you don't need to apologize.

You are already sharing this beautiful trip with us

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  • Latest Blog Entries

    • By Zainuu in Deen In Practice
         0
      The first month of Islamic calendar (the most 'violent religion' in the eyes of some people) starts with love. Love for the master of martyrs. Love for mothers and motherhood of Karbala. Love for brothers and brotherhood in Karbala. Love for Namaz. Love for the greatest sacrifice for the sake of humanity ever done in the history of mankind. 

      It doesn't start with fancy wishes, roses and hearts. It doesn't start with celebrations, singing songs, dancing in happiness. It doesn't start with tours and trips. Neither it starts with any form of celebration in Islamic context nor does it start with anything remotely related to celebration. It starts with the moon sighting and tears. It starts with the slaps on faces and beating of chests. It starts with thirst and imagination of thirst. It starts with unity and imagination of unity. It starts with a sign of muslims reaffirming to their faith and when one reaffirms to something, at that moment he or she follows that with true heart. So, this is the time when faith is at it's peak. It starts with sacrifice and eagerness for sacrifice. It starts with a new season of Islam where the spirits are going to change their levels. If they ignore this time, their faith will degrade. If they utilize these moments their faith will upgrade. The new year of muslims starts with a welcome note to the most crucial and magnificent reality which is truth/Haq. This welcome note is emotional but it's essence is a call to faith. It starts with the Adhaan of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) to the call of help (Halmin Nasirin Yan Suruna) by Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). This is the peak of the beauty of Islam.

      Muharram starts with the arrival of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) in the desert of Karbala, a hot place near the banks of Euphrates river or one of it's canals. Imam is met by the first group from the Army of Yazeed led by Hur. I would only emphasize on necessary history as each and every point of history is just out of scope. Hur and his men are badly thirsty. Not only they but even their horses. But as I said, Muharram starts with a welcome note. Here is the first welcome note of mercy, love and humanity. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)  provides them with water (as much as they want to drink). This was a message, a welcome note towards mercy and guidance of Allah to the bewildered. 

      Hur kept on noticing this. But as he was an employee of Yazid along with others, He did what he was asked by Ibn Ziyad. He stopped Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) from going to Kufa and removed their camps from the banks of Euphrates and didn't allow them any further access to water. He asked Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) about the objective of going to Kufa. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) replied that they don't want war and have come for the guidance of the Kufans who have called him. Again, this was the Jihad of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) — Love, mercy and guidance of people towards Allah and Islam — and resisting the tyrants and evil in this way. 

      Hur — who caused all the initial trouble and because of whom the children of Husayn (عليه السلام) stayed away from water — found himself guilty. This was the real sword of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) that was struck on Hur and started to show it's impact since he met Imam and kept on growing until it became unbearable on the night before 10th of Muharram (Ashura). Here is a message. As, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has said that the greatest jihad is jihad-un-Nafs (Jihad with the self). The real battle that Hur fought in Karbala was against his own self. He fought against his desires on the night of Ashura. His weapon was the voices of thirsty children in the camp of Husayn (عليه السلام). His weapon was the mercy Imam showed to him. But what was he confronting. Hur was confronting an employee of Yazid in his self. An employee that said that 'somehow Yazid is your Emir and you have to follow his order.' The cancer of neutrality penetrated in his self which said 'What do you have to do with politics. You have a family and friends. Think about them. Stay out of this hassle. You are a soldier of an Army and a commander. Do your duty. Yazid is a drunkard, who cares? Husayn is the son of Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) , but who cares?' All these fearful, short-visioned, selfish and self-centered arguments were surrounding Hur and making him stay on the side of Yazid.

      This is a big lesson. Every soldier in the Army of Yazid was facing an enemy like this within their soul. Every human being on earth, more or less, faces this enemy. We might say a thousand words of truth, we might agree with everything right but our ill-self always confronts us with these arguments and stops us from understanding Haq. Hur had enough weapons. He successfully broke this siege and killed his enemy and with purity, humility, recognizing the truth with the eyes of heart went this time towards the rightful leader of the Ummah. He didn't go to Husayn to sympathise the children. He didn't go their to advice Husayn (عليه السلام). He didn't actually go to Husayn (عليه السلام). He travelled towards freedom. From a fake tyrant to the rightful leader. From a payed employee of Yazid to a self-seeking slave of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). From ignorance and arrogance to awareness and humbleness. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) accepted him and all people along with him. He himself became the 'leader of mujahids' in my eyes. It's better to call Hur (رضي الله عنه) Imam ul Mujahid (lesder of the Jihadis) because jihad was done by everyone in Karbala, but he provoked others too (atleast thirty people came to the camp of Imam Husayn from the other side). And he had a very less amount of time to decide on his fate. He certainly fought the most fierce battle against his nafs (self). 

      Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) was calling and testing. He was testing his companions and calling his enemies. These calls happened in many ways. With speeches and with actions. One of the ways among all these (for me) was even the Adhaan recited by Hazrat Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) in the morning and everytime when it was the prayer time. Who matched the face of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)? Their were many good voices in Karbala. Many great scholarly people were their.  Each one of them was capable of reciting Adhan. Glittering beautiful faces as well as wonderful voices. So, why only Hazrat Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه)? Because the face of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) was like Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). They were so similar that Imam Husayn used to say, "When I want to see my grand father. I see Ali Akber." Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) made Ali Akber's presence a reminder for the enemies that they are not fighting Husayn (عليه السلام) but rather they are fighting the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself. Adhan of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) was a signal to remind the calls of Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) towards faith. This holds a lesson for us that faith should be above everything. Call of every wali/guide/Imam towards Islam is a call of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)  himself. Imamat is not an inch separate from Prophethood. As said by Dr. Ali Shariati, "Islam without Justice and Imamat is an Islam without Islam". Each and every call to prayer had two indicators. One was the visual indicator. Other was the vocal indicator. Call by the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) towards Salaat. Call towards peace, justice and Islam: 'Hayya Ala Khairil Amal - Come towards the Good'. This was the mission of Husayn (عليه السلام) and the objective of Karbala.

      As I acclaimed, the master of martyrs was testing his companions again and again. Checking their faith and strengthening it minute by minute. At more than one moment, Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) asked his companions to leave him. More than once he told them about their fate if they stay with him. More than once, he told the purpose of his journey. Such that each and everyone of them became clear about it. Answers to these statements from the companions were mind blowing. This is what Imam said :
      "It is a fact that I am not aware of any companions more faithful and honest than my companions and any relatives more righteous and kind than my relatives. May Allah grant all of you a good reward. I think that the day of our fighting with this army has arrived. I permit all of you to go away. You are free to depart without any restriction and should take advantage of the darkness of night."
      I won't go in detail. But he gave them the certificate of Jannah. He even endorsed their piety. He declared them as the best companions. He even told them how to escape. But except a very few, none of them moved. How can they even leave? How can they love life or death or even Jannah with a thought that they left their Imam to get slaughtered in the hands of beasts? Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) was testing them. He was trying to debug even a single confusion in their heart. He was trying to eliminate even the thought of Jannah from their mind so that they only think of sacrifice for Allah. What a spirit! What can we say! Ask yourself what Imam Husayn(عليه السلام) asked to his companions in Karbala each and every time.

      Will you leave your Imam while difficulties have surrounded him? Will you leave him if he grants you Jannah? Will you leave him if he himself asks you to leave? What does wisdom say? Ask yourself. Are you so firm in faith that whatever might happen, you are standing behind your Imam (عليه السلام) and doing your duty? Ask yourself. Are you an employee of Allah, who is paid with happiness, security, health and wealth and promise of Jannah so that he can forget his divine duty if all his payments are delivered irrespective of his stances?  Or are you a slave of only Allah and follower of only his leaders and commanders appointed on you such that even if they themselves ask you to leave for your lives, you will not. What if, Allah is asking blood from you? Are you ready? Who can be more free in this world then the companions of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)? Take a lesson here. Follow Islam irrespective of anything. We get into doubt: Our prayers are not accepted, our desires are not fulfilled, calamities keep on falling on us etc. Is this our vision of life? No. Our only mission and purpose of life is to obey Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Stay where he wants us to stay and refrain from something which Allah has asked us to refrain from. Allah will test you to see how much firm you are in following his commandments. 

      We see warriors, with all capabilities to break the largest armies in a battle alone, shying and controlling themselves in Karbala. Sayyed ush Shuhada (Imam al Husayn (AS)) stopped Abbas at every step from battling with the enemy. He even brought Hazrat Zaynab (SA) at one point for the same purpose. I won't mention the reason why Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) stopped Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه). But how difficult it would be for a warrior like Abbas (رضي الله عنه) to control himself from attacking the enemy. How difficult it would be to obey the master of Martyrs (عليه السلام) and understand the fate at this moment. More difficult then understanding was accepting. Acceptance and understanding that made Abbas a Saqqa (water carrier) from an Alamdaar (flag-bearer). This was the time when Al Abbas (رضي الله عنه) became the symbol of patience. He changed his being and kept down his sword to obey his mawla and his brother. This proves how critical and crucial weapon is patience and endurance. How important it is to remain patient in order to sustain yourself on the path of Allah. The will of Allah can be for us or against us. We should put our heads down in front of Allah's will.  Ghazi Abbas (رضي الله عنه) teaches us how to contemplate on what Allah wants from us and then not only refraining from our own will but submitting to Allah's will in the best of ways. How he managed to take a broken spear on the battle ground while he had a sword with him? How he managed to only try to bring water to the camps and not breaking the other enemy fronts? How he managed to protect the water and gave his hands in doing so? What patience a person needs to refrain from drinking a drop of water even after his lips are dry and throat dying from thirst. This patience led Al Abbas (رضي الله عنه) to become the symbol of loyalty (Sarkaar-e-Wafa) in the history of mankind. Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه) was not even an infallible but still he made himself so strong that whatever his brother and leader demanded from him he delivered. Only one thing that remained was water. Which led Abbas to such a level of regret and emotion that he denied his body to be taken to the camps. If we can't learn patience, perseverence, submission and loyalty from Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه). This history is useless and just as important as a novel.

      Karbala startles us at every step. Their was even a child as young as 6 months. When Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) called for help, no one was their to answer except a 6 months old Ali al Asghar (رضي الله عنه). He fell on ground after this call. He was taken to ask for water by Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). Imam knew that he will be martyred. But another reality of Karbala is a father taking his own son to sacrifice for Allah and become an example in history. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) never needed help so what was the reason of this call? It was nothing but a reminder to everyone. Imam (عليه السلام) warned humanity that 'don't let a time come upon your leader when no one will accompany or support him'. Imam was calling people to Islam, to guidance. But only a 6 months old could understand. It is a call that echoes in our ears every year to move towards Karbala and to move towards religion and guidance. Not only Ali al Asgher answered but his mother answered it. All the woman answered it. Bibi Umm Rabab (SA) became a symbol of motherhood in Karbala. This is how a mother should be. Woman should teach their children to become the pure and free servant of Allah because this is the greatest honor and they should be so strong and firm that if Allah asks them their dearest sons for sacrifice, they should deliver and content themselves with patience and thankfulness towards Allah. If mothers become like mothers of Karbala, every child will become a servant of Allah and fighter of Islam which would pave the way towards an ideal Islamic society. 

      At the end, before his sorrowful martyrdom, Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) addressed the faithless and inhumane army of Yazid. He introduced himself not as a warrior but as a divinely appointed Imam, who has got the highest honors in the eyes of Allah. He was introducing himself like this in order to guide them so that they refrain from what they are about to do and understand the path of Allah. So that they understand that what all rewards they will recieve after this act will be nothing in comparison to what they will loose. Their was a lot of wisdom and beauty in each word but cursed were those who were blinded by the pleasures of this world. 

      Imam said: "Even if you don't believe in religion, atleast be free in this world." Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) wanted people to become free from everything, even their soul and then choose according to reason because truth cannot be imposed. It is not necessary to deceive someone to follow the truth. If we remove all the veils of falsehood, evil and deception, the only thing left will be truth. Freedom is not to remove your hijab or even wear it to make people admire you. Freedom is not to pray because your parents will kick you or Allah will send you to hell. Choose religion not because you are born in such a family but because you are a human being and Allah has given you the right to think, contemplate and ask the best for yourself independent of anything. Choose anything in life on the basis of free will that only submits to Allah (the absolute). This is the perception Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) wanted us to work upon. Karbala if followed and read in a right way should change a person.  If it doesn't then the message is not delivered. It was a battle between free will and imposed will. Battle between freedom seeking revolutionaries and employees of evil. A battle between 'I stand with Husayn and condemn Yazid and I know what I'm doing' vs 'Husayn is good and Yazid is bad but we are employees of Yazid so do the duty.' It shows that evil is everything except truth and not even the companions of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) are immune from it. Even taking neutral grounds is a sign of ignorance and part of evil. 

      This takes us to the Zaynabi revolution. The start of the new year. The pledge and commitment to change our 'self'. The pledge to fight the evil within us to a level that only Allah's manifestation remains. Azadaari (mourning for Imam Husayn (AS)) is resistance. It is not a mere custom in which some people come, cry, beat their chests and go away as if nothing happened. It is not a majlis that starts with lamentation and comes to end with gheebah (backbiting). It is not a show-off place where you show the standards of food you serve in the form of tabarruk. It is not a place to compete that who will gather the maximum audience and who will provide the best in tabarruk. Neither it is about how many slogans of 'Yaa Ali' will be raised or how many people will faint during Masaaib (sorrowful happenings in Karbala). Tears are natural and not man-made. Only that person can cry on Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) who has the maarefat (wisdom) of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). The people who do all that I said above except azadaari are making fun of Hazrat Zainab (عليه السلام) and her revolution. They are equivalent to those Kufans and Syrians who mocked and taunted the Ahl Haram when they were taken captive and dragged in the streets of Kufa and Damascus. Shame on such people and shame on the show-off they do in the name of Mourning. Shame on those who do politics in the name of azadari. Shame on those reciters and orators who do business in the name of Azadaari. This is the worst of insults that AhlulBayt (عليه السلام) have to bear. We sell our souls so cheap that we fight on some bits of food that we recieve after majlis. We are making a joke of ourselves and also a joke of our religion and our Imam. Azadaari is a custom of purity started by the Great Sister of Al Husayn (عليه السلام) and Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) as a form of resistance to tyranny and cruelity. A person who is a true azadaar of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) and has percieved his revolutionary message will not sit down until he purifies himself and brings society towards Islam. He will not settle unless he becomes a pain in the gut for the tyrannic rulers. Who is the real mourner of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)? The one who brought down the forts of oppressors and stood for the oppressed. As an example, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah is the true mourner. His army are the true mourners of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). It is not possible that a mourner beats his chest, cries on Imam of the oppressed but remains quiet in supporting 'The Husayn' of this time. It is impossible for a mourner of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) to curse Yazid while stay quiet on the crimes committed by 'The Yazid' of the time or be supportive of it. Azadaari is not a dead custom and Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) is not a dead hero. It is indeed a living revolution that flows in our body and pumps through our hearts in the form of martyrs of Karbala and becomes manifest when we stand for justice and haq in the present time. 
      Our duty is to take the message of Husayn (عليه السلام) and implement it on our own lives. Our duty is to be kind, humble, firm, down-to-earth, tough in front of the world, soft in front of Allah. Our duty is to put up sacrifices in the path of Allah whenever needed. Our duty is to unite and set aside our differences. We should unite under the banner of Allah the great. This is what Azadaari teaches us. This is what Karbala teaches us. When only a few people who stood as one in front of the most powerful enemy of the time and defeated him, why can't we? When people celebrate new year, they take pledges. We have the most appealing history remembered just on the start of the year. We should also take a pledge.
      Commit yourself: you will practice taqwa, pray on time, practice patience and base your life on knowledge and faith.
    • By Last Chance in Poems for the Ahlul Bayt
         6
      Alone, in the dark, a young girl is weeping,
      Not knowing what her heart has always been seeking,
      So, now, to her Lord, she is finally speaking,
      Revealing the secrets she thought she'd been keeping.
       
       
      Her Lord listens to her with indescribable love,
      He watches her raise her weak hands, above.
       
       
      "My Lord, I beg you to enter my heart,
      To you, all my sorrows, I wish to impart,
      This emptiness, I can bear it no more,
      I feel I am drowning and you are my shore."
       
       
      She buries her wet face in the palms of her hands,
      For she knows that He, alone, understands,
      But she wonders if she is worthy of His mercy, so great,
      She wonders if forgiveness and love are her fate.
       
       
      "My Lord, I have neglected my soul,
      I never gave heed to my purpose or goal,
      And now, I need You to set my soul right,
      I have no-one but You in the midst of this night."
       
       
      Tears flow from her eyes like a thunderous river,
      As she awaits the reply from this Generous Giver,
      But He waits and He watches as she continues to cry,
      So she calls desperately into the night sky,
       
       
      "My Lord, You are everything I need,
      Of any happiness, You are the seed,
      I yearn for You to make my heart whole,
      To take Your place, this world previously stole."
       
       
      With nothing more to give, the girl gets to her feet,
      As longing for her Lord fills her every heartbeat.
      She raises her hands, one final time,
      Her soul weighed down by her forgetful crime.
       
       
      "My Lord, You are my only, last hope,
      Without you, I know, I won't be able to cope,
      To feel Your presence, my soul, I can sell,
      All I want is that in my heart, You dwell.
       
       
      My Lord, I want You to open my soul's eyes,
      And to put an end to my grievous cries,
      You said that Your friends feel no sorrow, nor pain,
      So befriend me, God, let this night not pass in vain."
       
       
      As she tires from this begging, her eyes slowly close,
      And she feels that her yearning, now surely, He knows,
      Her Lord looks lovingly at the slumbering youth,
      And knows that her words carried nothing but truth.
       
       
      So He enters her soul and whispers some words,
      Sweeter than the chirping of awakening birds,
       
       
      "...Call upon me; I will answer you," (40: 60)
      And more than this, what else could be true?
    • By Zainuu in Deen In Practice
         0
      For his sake, there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah's commandment, surely Allah doesn't change the condition of the people until they change their own condition; and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides him they have no protector.
      —[Ar-R'ad verse 11]
      This verse in the holy Qur'an states that Allah is the protector of human beings and he has commanded angels to protect us. No one else is protecting human beings. Even if someone says that I will protect you, I will defend you then he can only do so by the consent of Allah (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). So, no one has any authority to protect a person and the command belongs only to Allah. 
      But it doesn't mean that everything what you do, Allah will protect you. It doesn't mean that a human being cannot do anything about his destiny and in his defence. Here this topic becomes complex. 
      If Allah is protecting us through angels and he is our lord, the greatest, the mighty; that doesn't mean Allah is handling all our affairs and we are free to sleep in a corner, and all will be in place automatically by the command of Allah. Allah has given us two hands, two legs, a brain, a face and (the most important) a self (soul) that he has perfected for us. 
      "Wa Nafsinw Wamaa Sawwahaa"
      "And the soul and him who made it perfect"  [Surah Ash Shams 91:7]
      Now, we have to make use of all this. Isn't it enough to live a good life or to identify the Truth? Isn't it enough to forbid evil and practice good?
      True that Allah is our protector and Allah is our guide and no one is guided except the one guided by Allah. True that, all are poor and paupers except the one who is provided by Allah. As it is said by Maula Ali (عليه السلام) in his Munajaat: 
      "Mawlaya Ya Mawlaya, Antal ghaniyu wa Anal Faqeer wa hal yarhamul faqeera illal ghani"
      "My Lord, O my Lord, you are the rich and I am a pauper and who is merciful to a pauper except the rich."
      So,  does that mean we should stop planning, stop working and just ask Allah and move ahead. Does that mean we should accept what our vibes say and make decisions instead of making decisions through logic and reason and far-sightedness? No. Why would Allah grant us with the gift of different elements of the body if we have to close them off and just go with the flow. 
      Imam Ali (عليه السلام) says in Nahj ul Balagha:
      "All the illnesses and defects are in the soul itself and the cure to all our problems is also present in our 'self' only."
      Also, "The one who identifies his self (soul) has identified his lord." — Imam Ali (عليه السلام) 
      So, all this talk that 'All is written and we can't do anything and that which has to happen will happen etc' are not completely true. To say rightly, these are fake spiritual talks. As, Imam Ali (عليه السلام) clearly says that All is clearly within us. What are we searching for? What else do we need? 
      Now, arises the question of fate. If all what I said is true then what about fate? I am not a denier of fate. I agree that it exists. Existence of fate cannot be denied but it is not the ultimate reality. Our fate is in our own hands. 
      We can change it through our actions, supplications, good and bad deeds. When Allah sees what we are doing and how we are living and behaving, Allah changes it accordingly. My statement is an opinion but it can be easily verified through Qur'an, Hadith and also the views of Arifeen.
      Don't sit idle and don't think you are divine and you will hear a voice from unseen. Act according to your state and stay patient for the rewards. If you fail try again instead of saying that, "It is my fate. what can I do?" How do you know it is your fate!
      Imam Ali (عليه السلام) says, "A wise man is the one who thinks before he speaks whereas a fool is the one who speaks before he thinks." So, this is simply foolish to say that you failed or lost because Allah has destined that for you. You get what you sow. A person's actions, his quest for something is itself a tool to change his fate and destiny. And that is what the verse I stated above says. Definitely, Allah is our protector but:  '...Allah doesn't change the condition of the people until they change their own condition....'  [Part of the verse stated in the start]. This clearly means that Allah is protecting us but Allah has made us incharge of our own affairs and it's only we who can change our own condition. Accepting the destiny is wise if we know our destiny. But who knows his destiny except Allah, The Great, The All Knowing. 
      Instead of getting into this querrel of fate, human being should try to focus upon action. As Ayatullah Taqi Behjat (May Allah be pleased with him) says: "May God give us the tawfeeq to perform our duties, that we don't be deprived of [performing] actions, not from within ourselves, neither from outside of us." Performing actions doesn't mean denying fate or denying the authority of Allah. Rather, it means accepting the blessings and opportunities provided by Allah, exploring them and exhausting them in the best way possible. We should understand that when we pray, Allah wants that we would ask him about something huge which a person is really deprived off and feels it as his necessity. Rather than asking that which Allah has already provided. Besides asking from Allah we should pray that "May Allah give us the tawfeeq to see what Allah has already blessed us with." We should explore within ourselves. 
      "You presume that you are a small entity, but within you presides an entire Universe."
      The verse I started with is an excuse to explain this relationship between fate and action. Aim is not to discuss the correct interpretation of the verse itself but just a part of it. My aim is also not to do a detailed discussion on fate and action but rather to only address the confusion between the two things. Normally, we notice in our society that this discussion is quite prevalent. Like many big conflicts in the world, the conflict of fate and action also ends up into two extreme parties. One (which I might call a pretend-saint) that says Fate is everything and nothing is in our hands. Whereas other which denies every role of fate and destiny completely and declares actions to be the only basis of different events occurring in life. While both have their reasons, both are wrong. This conflict is important to be addressed because it has a psychological effect. Obviously, a person who thinks that all is written and he is powerless will do nothing. He will sit and keep on denying on the blessings Allah has bestowed him with. He will act like a hopeless lazy person who is deemed to deviate from his path. This notion even if small in quantity is an evil notion and will cause problems in ones life. 
      On the other side, the people who deny Fate and destiny. Such people are in true denial of god. This idea that only actions are the player behind what happens in life is also problematic because it cannot answer the many mysteries of life. Who can you blame for a natural disaster? The Japenese people, the Iranians; who are considered to be the most intelligent among the mankind live in those regions of the world where a lot of natural disasters occur. If we say that Japenese suffer because they are infidels then it would be the most lamest answer to the question. What about Iranians? So, actions matter but fate has it's own part. It is their to prove that Allah is the absolute and above everything. It doesn't mean that actions will not bear any fruit. Every action taken will have a reward or punishment but who knows when?
      So, let us harmonize this. Let us end the blind beliefs occurring in our society due to the notion that 'Fate is everything and all depends on fate'. As is stated in Surah Al Asr: 
      "By the passage of time! Surely humanity is in grave loss, except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to perseverance." [103]
      So,  it is certainly important to act without thinking about the fate. Removing all these blind beliefs about fate will lead us to passivity. Though, it seems small but in our traditionalist society, this idiocity is a huge problem. It has even entered the mentality of the educated and literate people because naturally it has nothing to do with education. It is because of overthinking and wrong mindsets and understandings about fate and destiny. It is because of ignorance and being illiterate is not a bad thing but being ignorant is equal to infidelity. To clarify, I am not calling anyone infidel but rather calling ignorance as infidelity. 
      Let us also tell the arrogant human beings that whatever they might do, the destiny finally belongs to Allah. As is said in the above stated verse, in the last: '...and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides him they have no protector.'
      Fate is something that already exists like some fundamental basis of events, while action is something that we build upon our fate. If they are weak, they won't change our fate. If they are strong with a true devotion, they will change our destiny according to their nature. If it is an evil action, our destiny will become worse then what it was. If our action is good, our destiny will become better than what it was. 
      "So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it."
      [Surah Zalzala 99:7]
      "And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it."
      [Surah Zalzala 99:8]
    • By Muntazir e Mahdi in Bayaan e Muntazir
         0
      I absolutely love this piece of poetry in praise of Imam Ameer ul Mu'mineen (عليه السلام) by Nadeem Sarwar, Jawad Jafri, Ali Shanawar, and Ali Jee in Urdu. It is perfect in giving the Shi'a morale, hope, and dignity as well.
      مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ۔۔۔
      میرا مرشد میرا آقا میرا سلطان علیؑ۔۔۔
       
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         10
      The Coin of al-Rida
      Historical accounts and reports in our books of Hadith confirm that al-Ma`mun had coins minted in the name of al-Ridha after appointing him as his crown prince. These became a collectors item among the Shia being considered portents of Tabarruk especially to be carried during a journey. The Imam would bestow this as a memento to some of the believing Shia who came to visit him.
      The Shia were pacified by this move of al-Ma`mun and many of them had expectations that the rule will finally revert back to its rightful place after more than a hundred years of usurpation.
      حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن أيوب بن نوح قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: إنا لنرجو أن تكون صاحب هذا الامر وأن يرده الله عزوجل إليك من غير سيف، فقد بويع لك وضربت الدراهم باسمك، فقال: ما منا أحد اختلفت إليه الكتب، وسئل عن المسائل وأشارت إليه الاصابع، وحملت إليه الاموال إلا اغتيل أو مات على فراشه حتى يبعث الله عزوجل لهذا الامر رجلا خفي المولد والمنشأ غير خفي في نسبه
      [Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid – Muhammad b. Hasan al-Saffar – Ya`qub b. Yazid – Ayub b. Nuh who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: we hope that you are to be the man of this matter (the promised ruler from Ahl al-Bayt), and that Allah عزوجل returns it to you without fighting - for you have been given allegiance to, and the coins have been minted with your name on them. He said: there is not one of us to whom letters have been written, questions have been asked, fingers have been pointed at, and monies have been sent to, except that he will be killed or will die on his bed until Allah عزوجل will send for this matter a man of hidden birth and origin whose lineage is not unknown.
      طاهر بن بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن أحمد، عن عليّ بن محمّد بن شجاع، عن محمّد بن الحسين، عن معمّر بن خلاد قال: قال لي الريّان بن الصلت بمرو و كان الفضل بن سهل بعثه إلى بعض كور خراسان فقال: احبّ أن تستأذن لي على أبي الحسن عليه السّلام فاسلّم عليه و اودّعه، و أحبّ أن يكسوني من ثيابه و أن يهب لي من دراهمه الّتي ضربت باسمه ...
      [al-Kashshi] Tahir b. Isa – Ja`far b. Ahmad  - Ali b. Muhammad b. Shuja` - Muhammad b. al-Husayn [b. Abi al-Khattab] – Muammar b. Khallad who said: al-Rayyan b. al-Salt said to me in Marw after al-Fadhl b. Sahl [Ma`mun’s vizier] had dispatched him to some of the villages in Khurasan: I would like you to seek permission on my behalf from Abi al-Hasanعليه السّلام  [to allow me to meet him] so that I can greet him and bid him farewell. I would also like it if he could give me a piece of clothing from among his clothes and gift me a few of his silver coins that were minted in his name …
      أخبرني محمد بن يونس الأنباري قال حدثني أبي: أن إبراهيم بن العباس الصولي دخل على الرضا لما عقد له المأمون وولاه العهد، فأنشده قوله:
      أزالت عزاء القلب بعد التجلد ... مصارع أولاد النبي محمد (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
      فوهب له عشرة آلاف درهم من الدراهم التي ضربت باسمه، فلم تزل عند إبراهيم، وجعل منها مهور نسائه، وخلف بعضها لكفنه وجهازه إلى قبره
      [al-Aghani] Muhammad b. Yunus al-Anbari – his father  who said: The poet Ibrahim b. al-Abbas al-Suli came in to see al-Rida when he was appointed by al-Ma`mun and made the crown prince and recited the following verse:
      The grief of the heart has receded after enduring  … the repression against the sons of Muhammad
      Al-Rida gifted him ten thousand silver coins which were minted in his name, Ibrahim held on to them and used them as dowry for marrying his wives and left some of them behind to purchase his shrowd and for the carrying of his body [to the grave].
      The wonderful thing is that archaeologists and scholars of numismatics have discovered a few pieces of this coin which is considered a rarefied item.
      Below is an image of the coin:

      General Information
      Period: The Abbasid Caliphate, 132-218 H/750-833 AD,
      Ruler: Abu Ja‘far ‘Abd Allah al-Ma’mun ibn al-Rashid, (194-218 H/810-833 AD)
      Place of Mint: Samarqand in Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan)
      Date: 202 H (817-818 AD)
      Metal and denomination: Silver dirham
      Weight and measurement: 2.87 g / Ø 25.5 mm
      Legend and Design
      OBVERSE
      Field
      la ilah illa / Allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu / al-mashriq 
      “no god but God, unique, He has no associate, East
      Inner margin
      bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-samarqand sana ithnatayn wa mi‘atayn 
      “in the name of God this dirham was struck in Samarqand the year two and two hundred”
      Outer margin
      muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi 
      “Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions” 
      Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33 (in part)
      REVERSE
      Field
      lillah / muhammad rasul Allah / al-ma’mun khalifat Allah / mimma amara bihi al-amir al-rida / wali ‘ahd al-muslimin ‘ali ibn musa / ibn ‘ali ibn abi talib / dhu’l-riyasatayn 
      “for God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Ma’mun is the Caliph of God, among the things ordered by the Prince al-Rida, Recipient of the Oath of the Muslims ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Possesser of the Two Headships”
      Margin
      muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun 
      “Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it” 
      Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33
    • By Ali in ShiaChat.com Blog
         25
      [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?
    • 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 بقيةللّٰهؑ اور دَورِ عدل و انصاف
      کب تک تو اپنے انجام سے بھاگے گا بتا؟

      تو  نے بہایا نہ صرف آب تو نے بیایا ہے لہو
      کب تک تو منتظر کو اس سے لکھوائے گا بتا؟
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