Jump to content
In the Name of God بسم الله
  • entries
    30
  • comments
    131
  • views
    333,759

Et tu, Ismail? Pt. 1


Islamic Salvation

2,122 views

Some Glimpes of Ismail b. Ja`far in Twelver Sources

When dealing with a historical figure, that is to say, with an individual who lived ages ago, and in a socio-cultural milieu quite different from us, we must acknowledge the difficulties of trying to answer such questions about them as - who were they? what motivated them? etc. Who can trace the subtle changes that unfailingly occur over a life time while penetrating the barrier of inner thought? This is compounded when we have access to only a limited number of textual sources to work with. 

Despite admitting the challenges facing any such reconstruction, there is no reason why such attempts not be made, with one caveat: the mind is always looking to make patterns out of disparate dots, sometimes a whole emerges that is consistent and self-sustaining. If the prism through which a single piece of data is seen enables it to better explain other totally independent pieces of data, then the whole reconstruction is on safer grounds and the pieces of data more likely to be historical. Other times, one can skew the different pieces of evidence in trying to fit a pre-configured narrative, introduce bias, over-reach and form a conclusions that is far-removed from reality.

In any case, what follows below is a collection of different Ahadith that involve Ismail in Twlever sources. It is felt that the incidental nature of some of them, where the details of his life are mentioned secondarily, consequently not tinged with polemical considerations, will yield the most qualitative results. This is purposely so because Ismail was a controversial figure. He was at the center of a polemical debate about the succession to al-Sadiq. There was no lack of people who would wish to besmirch his name with a “black legend” so as to justify his disqualification to the Imama. Similarly, and on the other side of the spectrum, there would be sectarians working to “white-wash” him having imbued theological meaning to his person.

 

Introduction

Ismail b. Ja`far b. Muhammad was the eldest son of al-Sadiq and was born in Madina in 100 AH. He died circa 138 AH before his father [this last piece seems to be the most strongly anchored piece of info. about him because even his supporters had to explain it away]. His mother was Fatima bt. al-Husyan b. al-Hasan b. Ali. His full brother was Abdallah al-Aftah who also claimed the Imama after their father for brief period of time.

 

Did the Imam praise him?

عبدالله بن محمد، عن الحسن بن علي الوشاء، عن أحمد بن عائذ، عن أبي خديجة الجمال قال: سمعت أبا عبدالله عليه السلام يقول: إني سألت الله في إسماعيل أن يبقيه بعدي فأبى ولكنه قد أعطاني فيه منزلة أخرى إنه يكون أول منشور في عشرة من أصحابه ومنهم عبدالله بن شريك وهو صاحب لوائه

[al-Kashshi] Abdallah b. Muhammad from al-Hasan b. Ali al-Washsha from Ahmad b. A`idh from Abi Khadija the Cameleer who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: I asked Allah about Ismail - that he should preserve him to remain after me - but He refused, however He has given me another position for him, he (Ismail) will be the first one to be resurrected with ten of his companions, among them Abdallah b. Sharik, and he (Abdallah) will be the man who carries his banner.

Abu Khadija in the chain is Salim b. Mukram about whom al-Najashi says <<Thiqa Thiqa>> and Ibn Fadhal says <<Salih>>. However, he has a pre-history which is significant to our study.

وكان سالم من أصحاب أبي الخطاب، وكان في المسجد يوم بعث عيسى بن موسى بن علي بن عبد الله بن العباس وكان عامل المنصور على الكوفة إلى أبي الخطاب لما بلغه أنهم أظهروا الإباحات ودعوا الناس إلى نبوة أبي الخطاب وأنهم يجتمعون في المسجد، ولزموا الأساطين يرون الناس أنهم قد لزموها للعبادة، وبعث إليهم رجلا فقتلهم جميعا لم يفلت منهم إلا رجل واحد أصابته جراحات فسقط بين القتلى يعد فيهم فلما جنه الليل خرج من بينهم فتخلص وهو أبو سلمة سالم بن مكرم الجمال الملقب بأبي خديجة فذكر بعد ذلك أنه تاب وكان ممن يروي الحديث

Salim’s original Kunniya was Aba Khadija but the Imam changed it to Aba Salama. He was someone who owned camels and rented them out for others to travel with. Salim was at one point in time among the followers of Abu al-Khattab. They were accused of libertinism (making the Haram to be Halal) and proclaiming Abu al-Khattab to be a prophet. They then rose in revolt and barricaded themselves in the mosque of Kufa. He was the sole individual who escaped the massacre in the mosque that followed and lived to tell the tale. This is because the Abbasid forces thought him to have died in the assault, so when it was the night he stood up and fled.

Abdallah b. Sharik mentioned in the narration is considered a lying Mukhtari in proto-Sunni sources. He participated in Mukhtar’s revolt which indicates his militant bent. He then attaches himself to Ismail as can be seen  here.

The Hadith seems to be implying some status for Ismail in the Raj`a [eschatological return] and making this Abdallah b. Sharik al-Amiri as his chief liutenant.

It is my thesis that Ismail himself is someone who was courted by Abu al-Khattab and associated with the Khattabiyya in some manner. Thus, we have a prior Khattabi [who could be narrating before his conversion] narrating praise of Ismail and his associate the former Mukhtari Abdallah b. Sharik. This is enough to raise skepticism.

 

The Disapproval of the Imam

الحسن بن احمد بن إدريس، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن احمد الاشعري، عن ابن يزيد والبرقي، عن احمد بن محمد بن ابي نصر البزنطي، عن حماد، عن عبيد بن زرارة قال: ذكرت إسماعيل عند أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: لا والله لا يشبهني ولا يشبه أحدا من آبائي

[Kamal al-Diin] al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. Idris from his father from Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ash`ari from Ya`qub b. Yazid and al-Barqi from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr al-Bazanti from Hammad from Ubayd b. Zurara who said: I mentioned Ismail to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام so he said: no by Allah - he does not resemble me or any one of my forefathers.

والجواب أنّه سأل الامام عليه السلام عن إسماعيل من جهة لياقته للامامة، على ماهو المرتكز في أذهان العامة من الشيعة، فأجابه الامام عليه السلام بأنّه لايشبهه، ولايشبه آباءه في العصمة، فانّه تصدر منه المعصية غير مرّة، وهذا لا ينافي جلالته، فإنّ العادل التقي أيضاً قد تصدر منه المعصية، ولو كانت صغيرة، لكنه يتذكّر فيتوب

al-Khoei claims that Ismail not resembling the `Aimma is just as far as the question of Isma (infallibility) is concerned i.e. he is not an Imam like them.

However, there is a variant which has an addition that seems to indicate that this extended to his personal habits which were not deemed upright.

ك: ابن المتوكل، عن محمد العطار، عن الاشعري، عن ابن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن الحسن بن راشد قال: سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن إسماعيل فقال: عاص عاص لا يشبهني ولا يشبه أحدا من آبائي

[Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. Musa b. al-Mutawakkil from Muhammad b. Yahya al-Attar from Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Yahya b. Imran al-Ash`ari from Ya`qub b. Yazid from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from al-Hasan b. Rashid who said: I asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about Ismail, he said: disobedient! disobedient! he does not resemble me nor any one of my forefathers.

Why would the Imam call him عاص if it was just about indicating that he is not infallible?

 

Connections with the Ghulat Abu al-Khattab and Mufadhal

Ismail was thought to be be his father’s successor even in the latter’s lifetime. There were some shady figures who coalesced around him like Abu al-Khattab [and the Khatabiyya incl. Mufadhal] who were spreading that rumour. Abu al-Khattab himself had a totally Gnostic and anti-nomian understanding of Islam underpinned by his Batini Ta`wil. He considered the recognition of the Imam to make Shari`a practices redundant. Abu al-Khattab led a rebellion in Kufa and was killed with seventy of his followers by the order of the governor Isa b. Musa (the nephew of the first two Abbasid Caliphs al-Saffah and al-Mansur) when they barricaded themselves in the mosque. [The incident alluded to above]

al-Mufadhal was initially connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya before later dis-associating from them and renouncing his former position. It is clear that the later Ismailiyya, despite the various off-shoots and splinter sects that arose [and the picture is further complicated by activities to mystify their origins and problems of lack of primary documents] can be traced back to the Khattabi movement. Whether Ismail is directly implicated or was just a figure-head around whom they built their theology remains to be seen.

حدثني حمدويه بن نصير، قال حدثنا يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: قال أبو عبد الله: ايت المفضل قل له يا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله

[al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh bin Nusayr who said: narrated to us Ya’qub bin Yazid from Ibn Abi Umayr from Hisham bin al-Hakam AND Hammad bin Uthman from Ismail bin Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: go to Mufadhal and say to him - O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail (i.e. al-Sadiq's son)!? Do you want to kill him!?

جبرئيل بن أحمد قال: حدّثني محمّد بن عيسى، عن يونس، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: سمعت أبا عبداللّه عليه السلام يقول للمفضّل بن عمر الجعفي: يا كافر يا مشرك مالك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعده

[al-Kashshi] Jibrail b. Ahmad who said: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me from Yunus from Hamma b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju`fi: O Kafir, O Muhsrik, what do you have to with me son - meaning Ismail b. Ja`far? - and he [Mufadhal] was loyal to him [Ismail], believing about him [that he is the Imam and much more] together with the Khatabiyya, then he returned after him [Ismail’s death].

حدّثني حمدويه قال: حدّثني محمد بن عيسى، عن إبن أبي عمير، عن حمّاد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل ابن عامر (جابر) قال: دخلت على أبي عبد اللّه عليه السلام، فوصفت إليه الائمة، حتى انتهيت إليه، فقلت: إسماعيل من بعدك؟ فقال عليه السلام: أم‏ا ذا فلا، فقال حمّاد: فقلت لاسماعيل: ومادعاك إلى أن تقول: وإسماعيل من بعدك؟ قال: أمرني المفضّل بن عمر

[al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh narrated to me saying: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me from Ibn Abi Umayr from Hammad b. Uthman from Ismail b. Amir (should be Jabir) who said: I entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and named for him the `Aimma, until I reached him, then I said: Ismail after you? he said: as for that one then No, Hammad said: so I [Hammad] said to Ismail: what made you to say: ‘Ismail after you’, he said: Mufadhal b. Umar made me do it.

ويذكر لويس « إن الكنية ( أبو إسماعيل ) التي يضيفها الكشي على أبي الخطاب إنما تشير إلى إسماعيل بن جعفر وأن أبا الخطاب كان المتبني لإسماعيل والأب الروحاني له

Bernard Lewis quotes from his teacher the famous orientalist Louis Massignon the enigmatic claim that even the Kuniyya Abu Ismail, which al-Kashshi uses for Abi al-Khattab, actually refers to Ismail b. Ja`far. It originated from the fact that Aba al-Khattab considered himself a spiritual father to Ismail grooming him to assume leadership [see his: The Origins of Isma`ilism].

 

Nabidh Drinking

حمدويه قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى ومحمد بن مسعود قال: حدثنا محمد بن نصير قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثنا صفوان، عن أبي الحسن عليه السلام قال صفوان: أدخلت على إبراهيم وإسماعيل ابنا أبي سمال ... ما كانوا مجتمعين عليه، كيف يكونون مجتمعين عليه وكان مشيختكم وكبراؤكم يقولون في إسماعيل وهم يرونه يشرب كذا وكذا، فيقولون هذا أجود ...

[al-Kashshi] Hamduwayh who said: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me; and Muhammad b. Masud who said: Muhammad b. Nusayr narrated to us saying: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to me saying: Safwan narrated to us from Abi al-Hasan (i.e. al-Ridha) عليه السلام, Safwan said: I arranged for Ibrahim and Ismail - the two sons of Abi Sammal (prominent Waqifis) to enter upon him (i.e. al-Ridha عليه السلام) … [the Imam said]: they were not united upon him (i.e. al-Kadhim), how could they be united upon him while your elders and leaders used to say about Ismail - even though they used to see him drink ‘so and so’ - they would still say - this is one is better …

What is this ‘so and so’? It is Nabidh (intoxicating drink) [the narrator censors and obfuscates it because of sensitivity - but it is clear what is meant for those who are researchers in this field].

It was to explain this away that a Hadith like the one below was transmitted.

ابن الوليد، عن سعد، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن ابن أبي نجران، عن الحسين بن المختار، عن الوليد بن صبيح قال: جاء ني رجل فقال لي: تعال حتى اريك أبن الرجل قال: فذهبت معه قال: فجاء ني إلى قوم يشربون فيهم إسماعيل بن جعفر فخرجت مغموما، فجئت إلى الحجر فاذا إسماعيل بن جعفر متعلق بالبيت يبكي، قد بل أستار الكعبة بدموعه، فرجعت أشتد فاذا إسماعيل جالس مع القوم، فرجعت فاذا هو آخذ بأستار الكعبة قدبلها بدموعه قال: فذكرت ذلك لابي عبدالله عليه السلام فقال: لقد ابتلي ابني بشيطان يتمثل في صورته

[Kamal al-Diin] Ibn al-Walid from Sa`d from Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar from Ibn Abi Najran from al-Husayn b. al-Mukhtar from al-Walid b. Subayh who said: a man came to me and said: come with me so that I show you the son of the man, he [Walid] said: so I went with him until he brought me to a group who were drinking and among them was Ismail b. Ja`far, so I came out of there saddened, then I went o the Hajar [at the Ka`ba] and found Ismail b. Ja`far clinging to the House crying, until the cloth [covering the Ka`ba] was drenched because of his tears, so I returned quicly to the gathering and found Ismail seated with the group, then I returned and found him clinging to the cloth of the Ka`ba which had wettened because of his tears, he [Walid] said: so I mentioned this to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام, he said: my son is afflicted with a devil who assumes his form.

This narration is also found in al-Imama wa al-Tabsira min al-Hayra of Ali b. al-Husayn b. Babawayh [al-Saduq’s father]. There the chain is Ahmad b. Idris and Muhammad b. Yahya > Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar > Ibn Abi Najran > al-Husayn b. al-Mukhtar > al-Walid b. Subayh.

The Hadith has been put to use to nullify the claim of Ismail’s to the Imam. As al-Saduq comments:

وقد روي أن الشيطان لا يتمثل في صورة نبي ولا في صورة وصي نبي، فكيف يجوز أن ينص عليه بالإمامة مع صحة هذا القول منه فيه

And it has been narrated that the Shaytan does not assume the form of a prophet or the successor to the prophet, so how is it possible that he [Ja`far] would designate him [Ismail] for the Imama while he [Ja`far] is the same one who authentically stated this about him.

However, it may have originally been circulated to explain Ismail’s Nabidh drinking in an apologetic manner.

0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Latest Blog Entries

         1 comment
      [This was originally written on November 25 2017 and was updated on Sept 13 2023, to include the graphic, headings and a summary, further updated on 27 May 2024 to include references to Artificial Intelligence]
      Summary
      There is an inverse relationship between human labour for any activity and the moral and ethical issues related to it. The less we work, because we have automation, for example, often the more we need to exercise moral and other consideration related to that work. As a result automation and AI won't necessarily make people unemployed, they'll simply free us up to do more philosophising.
      For people who believe in a benevolent God who seeks to perfect man, this makes eminent sense.
      Introduction
      There's an interesting piece about AI and robots in today's London Guardian:
      https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/25/cobot-machine-coming-job-robots-amazon-ocado#comments
      It's a fair piece because it includes opinions along the lines of "we're doomed with robots doing everything" through to the other end of the spectrum where the argument runs that "no previous innovation killed us off and neither will this one".
      I am in the latter camp, for what it is worth.
      An atheistic concern
      An atheist may well believe that an outcome where robots replace us in for every imaginable activity will make us redundant and worthless. And in a world without a benevolent God, that outcome is entirely possible. 
      The theistic angle
      In a more theistic perspective on this issue, I believe that human development so far has been one where we have increasingly had the capability to indulge in exercising freewill, as standards of living and technological capabilities have risen. Going hand in hand with that capability has been the ability to think about our actions and pay more attention to moral judgements. I am using the shorthand of moral judgements to refer to issues related to what is considered to be ethically right or wrong, just and equitable. included in this discussion are issues to do with sustainability and the greater awareness that the decisions we take need to take into account their future costs (e.g. on the environment) as well as current benefits (e.g. to consumers).
      An inverse relations between human labour and attendant moral issues
      Fewer people now work the land in the agricultural industry, as mechanisation and the use of chemicals have taken over, but there are more people being employed to investigate our impact on that environment, understand its implications and then research remedial action. Employment has not fallen, it has risen, but the tasks we perform are more cerebral and more of them involve making moral judgements.
      We can even map this as an inverse relationship, this is illustrative only and there's no specific relationship implied by the curve.

       
      The same process applies to the raising of farm animals and their slaughter. Affecting all of this is the entirely new industry of people making moral judgements about what is (morally) right in agriculture and what is wrong. Some of those judgements are informed by a theistic perspective, and some are not. In the latter instance we may question the validity, for example, of policy-makers in the West focusing on the last few seconds of an animal's life (as is the case in the debate about halal slaughter, as opposed to their accepting what are improvements but still cruel aspects of the husbandry of animals during the much longer period of their lives.
      There are similarly eye-brow raising moral considerations such as the most humane form of capital punishment. Nevertheless, the reality is that moral judgements are being made in all aspects of our lives and more and more time and resources are being devoted to them. 
      Perfecting man
      For a theist then, I believe the trajectory that we are following is proof of a God who desires to perfect man. He gives us the increasing opportunity to exercise moral judgements, both in terms of the time available to us with which to do this and secondly in terms of the situations to which those analyses can be applied. The latter are becoming ever more complex and challenging.
      The pastoral farmer of a few centuries ago obviously had the need to exercise moral judgements and take issues of sustainability into account when making decisions, but my point is that given smaller population sizes prevailing at the time and the more limited technologies available the nature of those judgements was necessarily more simple and straightforward than is the case, for example with the use of genetic modification.
      That perfection I believe helps us understand some of the issues around artificial intelligence. Like other disruptive technologies it enables people to have machines do what was previously done by humans. One difference is that whereas previous technologies made menial word redundant, how it is more cerebral work and this has an entirely new class of people very worried. What happens to their jobs? To some extent I think they are right. Indeed there will be machines doing more and more white-collar jobs and people who thought that a high level of education would keep them in employment forever may get a shock. 
      There is however a difference between how a theist would approach this problem and how an atheist would. The latter only has available to him the argument that all previous disruptive technologies have simply led people to do more value added work. Employment has continued to rise. The theist, who believes in God's desire to perfect man would likely add a spin on this and say that artificial intelligence enables people to focus on moral and ethical issues related to all fields of human endeavour.
      Until now we have always been limited in terms of how we make ethical judgements because of the limitations in terms of the quality and quantity of information that we have. Those limitations are now going to be removed.
      So if we want to judge the environmental costs and benefits of a course of action we will likely be able to do with with the help of AI. What choices we actually make will need to be made by humans who have a soul. That's where the employment opportunities will exist
      Conclusion
      As living standards continue to rise and societies become more complex, we will face an increasing number of situations of increasing complexity which will need moral solutions. And that is something which robots can never do, they don't have a soul. They are not prone to temptation and nor do they have to deal with it.
         0 comments
      This was co-written with chatgpt4o
      In the bustling city of Uthmaniya, where the skyline is dominated by minarets and modern skyscrapers, Ahmed was the unchallenged king of signs. His business, "Visionary Signs," was the go-to for creating grandiose displays for conferences, exhibitions, and governmental offices. Ahmed’s workshop was a hive of activity, always buzzing with the latest projects commissioned by the government.
      Every new initiative, every plan, no matter how nebulous, required a sign. These signs were not mere informational boards; they were masterpieces, adorned with resplendent images of the rulers, their eyes looking far into the future, with slogans that promised greatness. The text, always laudatory, spoke of unprecedented progress and prosperity, though specifics were conspicuously absent.
      One day, Ahmed received a call from the Minister of Public Enlightenment. "Ahmed, we need a series of signs for the new initiative. The Global Vision 2030 Summit is next month, and we must impress our international guests."
      Ahmed knew the drill. He listened patiently as the minister outlined vague goals of development, innovation, and cultural enrichment. “Of course, Excellency. Leave it to Visionary Signs. We will ensure that every sign conveys the magnificence of our vision.”
      In his workshop, Ahmed gathered his team. "Alright, folks, we need to design signs for the Global Vision 2030. Remember, it’s all about grandeur. The words must sing praises, the images must captivate, but as always, we keep the details fuzzy."
      His designers got to work, crafting enormous signs with majestic images of the rulers. The captions read: "Towards a Brighter Tomorrow," "Innovation at its Peak," and "Cultural Renaissance for All." The wording was eloquent but evasive, avoiding specifics like timelines or measurable outcomes.
      As the summit approached, international guests began arriving, and Ahmed’s signs were strategically placed throughout the city and the grand conference hall. The guests, impressed by the splendor, often paused to admire the signs. They would nod appreciatively, making polite comments about the visionary leadership and the ambitious goals.
      During the opening ceremony, the rulers themselves mingled with the attendees. Ahmed found himself face-to-face with the Emir. "Ahmed," the Emir said, a faint smile playing on his lips, "your signs are quite impressive. They speak volumes to our guests about our aspirations."
      "Thank you, Your Highness," Ahmed replied, bowing slightly. "We strive to capture the essence of your vision."
      The Emir’s gaze was steady. "It is important that our international friends see the progress we are making, even if we are still in the planning stages. A good message is key, Ahmed. It is the impression that counts."
      Ahmed nodded, understanding the unspoken directive. The real work, the actual implementation of the grand plans, was secondary to the portrayal of ambition and vision. As long as the signs were convincing, the world would believe in the progress of Uthmaniya.
      The summit concluded with numerous accolades and polite applause. The international guests left, carrying with them memories of impressive signs and lofty promises. Ahmed, back in his workshop, received another order for a new initiative, equally grand and equally vague.
      In Uthmaniya, Visionary Signs continued to flourish, a testament to the power of perception. Ahmed knew that as long as his signs could speak of greatness, the city’s image would remain untarnished, even if the ground beneath them changed little.
         20 comments
      Most of us struggle with purpose in our life when we are young. However, even older people, who thought they had direction and purpose, find their life has changed and they must think about it again. Purpose is our 'reason for being' or called Ikigai in Japanese. Purpose is important and I pray that everyone contemplates their purpose and stays on the straight path. See the image below:

         0 comments
      Take:
      Everyday   ,   Every second,         Every situations,         Every difficulties,           Every achievements 
      Take all these a test and trials where your patience is tested, your faith is tested, your ability to control your desires and emotions are tested, family relations is tested etc.....
      Focus on passing these tests with patience, faith in God, doing religious obligations, praying to God, always seeking help from God, seeking forgiveness and thanking him in every situations we are in.  
      Remember God has something better waiting for you in the after world so try and somehow put a smile on your face every now and then...
         5 comments
      قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام: رحم الله زرارة بن أعين لو لا زرارة و نظراؤه لاندرست أحاديث أبي عليه السلام
      Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: May Allah have mercy on Zurara b. A`yan, if it was not for Zurara and his peers the narrations of my father عليه السلام would have perished
      سمعت أبا عبد اللّه عليه السلام يقول: لعن اللّه زرارة!
      I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: may Allah curse Zurara!
       
      Did the Imam Curse Zurara?
      Zurara is such an important narrator in the Madhhab. No one has narrated more narrations than him. There are more than two thousand surviving Hadiths attributed to him in our books. No surprise then to find that we have a lot of reports of praise from the `Aimma confirming his esteemed status. A bit more difficult to explain away is the not insignificant number of narrations that portray him in a negative light. These have been latched onto by polemicists who believe that they can damage the Madhhab by weakening this man who transmitted such a lot of knowledge from the `Aimma that he became a cornerstone of our Fiqh. How do we defend him? There is a reliable text preserved by al-Kashshi in his book which I believe is useful in explaining this phenomenon preserving as it does a candid assessment by the Imam of the real situation.
      The words of the Imam are indented and a relevant commentary is provided directly below each section. The  text can be accessed in its entirety here https://sites.google.com/site/mujamalahadith/vol1/book-of-narrators/zurara-b-ayan [See No. 17/172]
       
      Abdallah b. Zurara said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to me: convey my salutations of peace to your father and say to him …
      The letter that the Imam dictates to this son of Zurara is done in confidence and with the expectation that no one else will come to know of its contents. It seems to have been prompted by Zurara’s grief, conveyed directly to the Imam, for censuring him to fellow companions and others, such that word reached back to him. Zurara seeks to clarify what the Imam’s true opinion of him is.
       
      I only defame you as a way of defending you, for the masses and the enemy hasten to whomever we draw near and praise his station so as to cause harm to the one we love and bring close. They accuse such a one because of our love for him and his closeness and intimacy with us, and they consider causing him harm and even killing him as justified. On the other hand, they praise every one whom we fault even if his affair is not praiseworthy. Thus, I fault you because you have become notorious as a result of your association with us and your inclination towards us, which have caused you to become blamable in the eyes of the people and your works to be looked upon unfavourably, all this because of your love for us and your inclination towards us. So I wished to fault you so that they can praise your religious stand as a result of my denigrating and diminishing you, and this becomes a way of warding off their evil from you. 
      This narration is important because it is the lens through which all the negative narrations about Zurara should be seen. The Imam explains his rationale for publicly cursing Zurara i.e. the Imam is defending his companion through Taqiyya.  As he notes, the enemy wishes to bring down everyone they draw near, a fate which he does not wish for Zurara. Zurara was particularly at risk because of how many narrations he had from them and how closely he was associated to them.
       
      Allah Majestic and Mighty says: “as for the boat then it belonged to the poor working at sea so I wished to damage it because there was a king after them who seizes every good boat by force” (18:79) … No by Allah! he did not damage it except that it be saved from the king and is not ruined in his hands. It was a ‘good’ boat which had no question of being defective Allah be praised, so comprehend the parable, may Allah have mercy on you!
      The Imam likens his act of criticizing Zurara to Khidhr damaging the fisherman’s boat, both seem ostensibly cruel on the surface but they are ultimately done to secure the very person they seem to hurting.
       
      … this is a revelation from Allah [including the word] ‘good’ …
      The Qira’a of the Ahlulbayt includes the word صالحة in the verse which is not there in our existing copies. This can be seen as an interpretive addition which happens to be quite straightforward and does not go against conventional understanding. This is also how Ibn Mas`ud and Ubay b. Ka`b read the verse [See Tafsir al-Tabari].
       
      You are by Allah! the most beloved of people to me and the most beloved of the companions of my father in my estimation both in life and after death. Indeed you are the best boat in that tumultuous and stormy sea, and there is a tyrannical and usurping king after you, keeping watch for the crossing of every good boat returning from the sea of guidance so that he can take it for himself and seize it and its owners, so may the mercy of Allah be upon you in life and His mercy and pleasure be upon you after death.
      This is the true status of Zurara in the eyes of the Imam. It becomes very clear that Zurara is the principal companion of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq and the closest to them. This tallies with the Madhhab’s conception of his status where he is seen as the greatest of their companions barring Muhammad b. Muslim which is arguable.
       
      Let not your heart constrict in grief if Abu Basir comes to you with the opposite of that which you were instructed by my father and by me, for by Allah! we did not instruct you and him except with an instruction that is fitting to act upon both for us and for you, and for each [instruction, even if seemingly contradictory] we have diverse expressions and interpretations which all agree with the truth. And if we were allowed [to explain] you would come to know that the truth is in that which we have instructed you.
      The Imam acknowledges a second problem which Zurara seems to have raised which is the Ikhtilaf [differences] of instructions which are attributed to them. The Imam accepts that these may indeed go back to them but notes that they have a reason for every instruction they give even if the companions cannot fully comprehend the reasons behind them. However, the Imam is very clear that despite the seeming diverse answers there is a way to reconcile them and all agree with the truth. 
       
      The one who has divided you is your shepherd who has been given authority by Allah over His creation. He [the shepherd] is more aware of what is in the interest of his flock and what can corrupt it. If he wishes he divides between them to safe-guard them, then he unites them once more so that it is secure from destruction and the fear posed by its enemy, in such a time as Allah permits, bringing it thereby safety from His place of safety and relief from Him. Upon you is to submit and to refer back to us and to await our affair and your affair and our relief and your relief. 
      The significance of these words of the Imam cannot be overstated. It reveals that the `Aimma would purposely teach different things to different Ashab aiming to purposely divide them. Elsewhere it is explained that they saw Madhhabic uniformity among their followers especially in rituals as being a distinctive marker that would make them a target. What the companions have to understand is that answering differently to different people is the prerogative of the Imam. No one can question this practice. What the companions have to do is submit fully to whatever they receive from the `Aimma and know that it has an explanation behind it for which the time is not ripe. All will be finally revealed when the time comes.
       
      However [if you do not submit wholly then], if our Riser were to rise and our Speaker speak and he recommences teaching you the Qur’an, the Laws of religion, the rulings and inheritance shares the way Allah revealed them to Muhammad the ‘people of insight’ among you will repudiate it on that day a bitter repudiation, then you will not remain steadfast upon the religion of Allah and his path except under the threat of the sword over your necks!
      If the companions cannot submit now, when they have lived through a chain of living Imams, then it augurs badly for the reaction of the self-appointed ‘people of insight’ who will be the first to line up against the One al-Sadiq calls ‘our Riser’ and alternatively ‘our Speaker’. When he comes back after a long period of occultation and recommences teaching them the religion as it is supposed to be the opposition to him from the Shia themselves be deafening! Those scholars who have cherished their dusty books will still cling to them even though the Imam who is the living embodiment of the Sharia is himself telling them otherwise.
       
      The people after the prophet of Allah were left to embark by Allah the same example as those who came before you, so they changed, altered, distorted, and added to the religion of Allah and reduced from it, consequently there is not a thing which the people are upon today [following] except that it is distorted when compared to that which was revealed from Allah. Respond then my Allah have mercy on you away from what you are calling for to what you are being called to, until comes the one who will renew the religion anew.
      Why did it have to come to this? This is the unfortunate consequence of the Umma betraying the will of the prophet. It has become utterly divided. Not having the correct leaders has meant that the authentic message of Muhammad has been irredeemably altered. There is not a single act of worship or belief that has been left un-corrupted because every middling scholar can peddle his interpretation. The temporal rulers are also more than happy to take advantage of the confusion and extend patronage to scholars whose interpretations were power friendly. The Imams themselves cannot openly propagate the actual version without repercussions.
       
      To be continued ...
         0 comments
      In the shadowy conference room of the Athena Institute, a right-wing think tank in the heart of Washington, D.C., key policymakers and intellectuals gathered around a gleaming mahogany table. Dr. Helen Mercer, the chairwoman, wasted no time addressing the stark issue at hand.
      “The crisis is clear,” she announced. “Birth rates in the West are in freefall, primarily because many are choosing AI companions over human partners. Our data shows a troubling trend: these robots are not just partners, but replacements, diminishing the human connection essential for family growth.”
      Behind her, the projector screen displayed distressing graphs, but one statistic stood out: Muslim communities in Europe were not following this trend, their birth rates were stable and even rising.
      John Reynolds, a sociologist at the table, nodded in agreement. “Muslim communities are largely insulated from this trend, not out of disdain for technology, but due to religious and cultural frameworks that do not condone intimate relationships with robots. This prohibition supports human-only unions, which naturally supports their higher birth rates.”
      Dr. Susan Choi, the institute’s technology expert, proposed a potential solution. “What if our AI could promote values that reinforce human bonds over robotic relationships?” she suggested tentatively.
      Helen considered this, then highlighted the inherent contradiction. “That's a creative approach, Susan, but we face a fundamental disconnect. Expecting AI to promote human-human relationships contradicts their design as companions. It’s like asking a candle to promote darkness.”
      The room fell silent, digesting the irony. Michael Hart, a political strategist, was the first to break the silence. “And there's another layer—legally and ethically, can we justify manipulating AI in such a way? What are the implications of using technology to direct personal choices so intimately?”
      Dr. Liu, an ethicist, weighed in, her tone cautious. “We’re on precarious ground. It's one thing to guide, quite another to coerce. We need to ensure that our solutions respect individual autonomy and ethical standards.”
      Helen steered the discussion towards a broader horizon. “Let’s draw from these observations about Muslim communities. Their cultural and religious practices naturally sustain human relationships and birth rates. Instead of relying solely on AI, we should explore how to cultivate these values more widely in our societies.”
      She proposed an initiative to study and integrate these communal and family-oriented values into Western societies through education and public policy, without overstepping ethical boundaries.
      As the meeting concluded, there was a consensus to revisit the AI strategy, with a new focus on enhancing community bonds and human connections. The group agreed to meet again, armed with more research and a clearer ethical framework, aiming to weave technology with tradition in a way that supports, rather than supplants, the human experience.
         1 comment
      Summary
      Buying and selling in the market place may provide advantages to minority groups at the expense of the majority. A State that represents the majority may need to act in order to address the imbalance in a manner that may seem on the face of it to be discriminatory.
      The impact of buying and selling in the market place
      The problem with money and markets is that they strip exchanges between people of all social and cultural content. In market-based exchanges, you can buy/sell with complete strangers. This has its benefits and particularly for social/cultural/ethnic/ religious minorities within a society, the market provides an almost anonymous means of interacting with the majority.
      The impact of social networks
      In fact, the story can even become worse for the majority because the denser social links/networks between members of a minority may mean that they can exploit higher levels of trust between each other and thereby compete more effectively in the market-place.
      Over time, of course, this economic disadvantage may lead to significant differences between the wealth of the majority and minority communities.

      In the diagram below is your multiculti, fully assimilated, and integrated, fully equal nirvana. Everyone interacts with all others regardless of their colour or other distinguishing characteristics. There is one group (pink) who are the majority, and the others are minorities.

       
      The reality

      One group of people (coloured brown) realise that they come from the same village back home, they have a shared culture, heritage and so on, they start to spend more time together.
      Trust within minority groups
      These commonalities enable this specific minority to establish bonds of trust between themselves that are stronger than the ones that exist between people of different groups. So they decide to interact with each other more than they do with other groups.
      Role of religion
      The issue is even more acute when they share the same religion because then they are more likely to share the same values - which are even more important when it comes to building trust.
      Boundary spanners
      Accidentally, I drew the first picture in a way that helps illustrate another point. The minority group accrues another advantage, where it can become a 'boundary spanner' e.g. between two different societies (the red line). That advantage is less likely to be open to the majority groups in the two countries in which this minority lives.

      The economic impact
      There is an obvious economic angle to these social relations, since the bonds of trust help reduce the friction of doing business, in fact, trust is more valuable in some industries (the ones with more risk and potentially more rewards).
      Minorities outperforming majorities
      A social aspect to their interaction therefore has economic repercussions. Left unchecked a minority group will gain an advantage over others. Societies can persist with the multi-culti fantasy for years.
      Payback
      But at some point there will be a reckoning, there always is. Obvious trigger points are when the majority face economic dislocation and see how much better minority groups are doing. You can 'hope' that this time there won't be -  but that has not been the case over the previous millennia.
      Longer term implications
      Historically there are lots of examples of this all around the world and the end is never a happy one - with the majority usually seeking to address the problem via physical force. The challenge for societies is for them to offer minorities certain rights but at the same time put in place restrictions on the extent of their participation in the economic life of society so that they cannot dominate the majority.
      Islamic solutions
      In an Islamic society where distinctions between groups are not based on race, but rather of belief, this means that there has to be what seems like discrimination against non-Muslims, but which, is in fact, a sensible means of avoiding longer-term conflct between the majority and minority.
      An illustration of the problem in terms of resources
      The picture below illustrates the above idea. 
      The blue circles represent the majority in a society, each person gives an item of resource to the person immediately to their south and also one to their south-west. And they do so without regard to the 'colour' of the other person. Let's assume this is a very egalitarian society where the affiliations of individuals are completely ignored. The pink circles represent a minority and they behave in the same manner. However the yellow circles behave slightly differently, they give one item of resource without any discrimination to whoever is to their south, but instead of giving one item to the person to their southwest, they give instead to someone of their own tribe/religion/ethnicity/language group/cult or whatever other basis of commonality that they have established. Such an arrangement can be informal and communicated only to the group members - something which is helped by their being a minority in a society. Members of the yellow circle are able to identify each other due to their going to the same places of worship or gentlemen's clubs or 'lodge'. Such interaction may legitimately lead to higher levels of trust between members of the yellow group and their discriminatory behaviour could be argued to be inherently rational i.e. it makes sense from a business perspective.
      Economic performance of members of the yellow group may, as a result of this behaviour be better than that of other groups. It may seem to them that their accumulation is due to their greater intelligence, business acumen or another positive trait. There may well be elements of those present, but their discrimination in favour of their own group could certainly be an important factor.
      Such discrimination on their part can mean greater rewards for members of their own group and it may not be visible to outsiders, other than the realisation that this group of people are relatively better off than others.
      Is discrimination by the State a valid response?
      Any response by the majority to address this imbalance, e.g. by imposing restrictions on the economic or other activities of the yellow minority group is likely to attract charges of discrimination.
      Because such communications cannot be done discreetly, communicating with the whole of society requires broadcasting to everyone rather than taking the narrowcasting approach the minority group pursued when they decided to discriminate in favour of their own group. Such narrowcasting is possible because the minority group are able to communicate with each other discreetly and in a manner that excludes everyone else.
       

       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Blog Statistics

    87
    Total Blogs
    481
    Total Entries
×
×
  • Create New...