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

Ghulu: The Case of Mughira the Sorcerer


Islamic Salvation

2,425 views

وكان يخرج إلى المقبرة فيتكلم فيرى أمثال الجراد على القبور

Mughira used to  go to the graveyard and intone something. Insects like locusts would then be seen crawling over the graves

أول من سمعته يتنقص أبا بكر وعمر المغيرة المصلوب

The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira the Crucified

 

Life Sketch

al-Mughira b. Sai’d al-Bajali was a blind Mawla (non-Arab origin) of Khalid al-Qasri, the governor of Iraq under the Umayyads. He claimed to be a follower of Imam al-Baqir عليه السلام but perverted the Imam’s teachings while cultivating a personal following around himself in Kufa.

قال الصادق: ... المغيرة بن سعيد لعنه الله دس في كتب أصحاب أبي أحاديث لم يحدث بها أبي ...

Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “…al-Mughira b. Said - may Allah curse him - has interpolated into the books of the companions of my father (i.e. al-Baqir عليه السلام) narrations which were not narrated by my father …”

قال الصادق: ... فكلما كان في كتب أصحاب أبي من الغلو فذاك ما دسه المغيرة بن سعيد في كتبهم

Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “… so whatever is in the books of the companions of my father - of Ghulu - then that is what was interpolated by al-Mughira b. Sa’id in their books

After the death of al-Baqir, Mughira shifted his allegiance to Muhammad b. Abdallah b. al-Hasan al-Nafs al-Zakiyya who claimed to be the Mahdi. The going into hiding of this “Mahdi” due to fear of the Abbasids was the cue for Mughira to claim that there would be no Alid Imam after him. Mughira now claimed that authority had devolved to him and would remain so until the return.

With this new-found authority, Mughira began teaching a highly esoteric doctrine influenced by an allegorical interpretation of the Qur’an and remnants of Gnostic thought in the sectarian milieu of Iraq.

One explanation for Mughira’s success is his ability as a magician dabbling in the occult. The sinister powers imputed to Mughira indicate the sort of charismatic hold he appears to have had over his followers.

قال الصادق: لعن الله المغيرة ابن سعيد، ولعن يهودية كان يختلف إليها يتعلم منها السحر والشعبذة والمخاريق ... 

Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “May Allah curse al-Mughira b. Said, and may Allah curse the Jewess, he (al-Mughira) used to go to her (the Jewess) regularly and learn from her sorcery, magical illusions and wondrous tricks …”

The end for al-Mughira b. Sa’id came when he joined forces with another Ghali named Bayan b. Sam’an and rose in revolt in 119 AH against the aforementioned Khalid.

The rebellion was quickly put down and the two leaders as well as some of their followers were executed.

قال الرضا: كان المغيرة بن سعيد يكذب على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حر الحديد

Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام said: “al-Mughira b. Sa’id used to attribute lies to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام so Allah made him taste the heat of the iron

 

Influences

Mughira was Mawla (freed-man) who spoke ungrammatical Arabic. This has led to speculation that his beliefs were influenced by prior religious traditions in the communities of late antique and early Islamic Mesopotamia. We know, for example, of the presence of Marcionites, Manicheans, Mandeans, and various gnosticized pagans in seventh and eighth-century Iraq.

The task of specifying the exact tradition from which he emerged is made all the more difficult when one notes that Mughira, both as sorcerer and as Gnostic, was working in a line of Aramaic syncretists who followed a ‘free borrowing of formula’ for their wonder-working and propaganda. At the same time, caution must be exercised because most of the information about Mughira comes from heresiographers who came centuries later and had their own polemical axes to grind. 

In spite of this, the following are some distinctive teachings linked to Mughira and tentative identifications that scholars have drawn for their origins:

I.

Mughira promulgated a notorious creation drama. He had a Man of Light (anthropomorphic God) create both light waters and dark waters and then create mankind out of these waters before proceeding to write their future acts of belief and unbelief on his palm with his finger. This cosmogony has parallels with what the Baptizing sectarians of Iraq have their Mandean demiurge doing.

II.

Mughira explained the creation of the sun, moon, heavens and stars in this way: “Then looking into the ocean, He (the Man of Light) saw His shadow, so He went forth to seize it. He plucked out its two eyes and created out of them two suns and He blotted out some light from the moon. Then, out of the physical forms of His shadow, He created the heavens and the stars …”

Friedlaender has recognized that the image of Mughira’s Man of Light looking down into the dark waters to create is an echo of such Mandean imagery as: “When Life ... had thus spoken, Abatur rose and opened the gate. He looked into the Dark Water and at the same hour was formed his image in the Dark Water”.

Mughira shares with the Mandeans the mythic idea of the substantiality of an image, reflection, or shadow as representing a real part of the original entity from which it became detached.

III.

Mughira had an obsessive concern with the ritual purity of water and preventing its defilement. This echoes the centrality of ‘living’ or ‘flowing’ waters in Mandean rituals, hence the necessity of living near rivers, as opposed to ‘stagnant’ or ‘turbid’ water which was seen as insufficient.

عن الأعمش قال: جاءني المغيرة ... ثم قال: طوبى لمن يروى من ماء الفرات. فقلت: ولنا شراب غيره؟ قال: إنه يلقى فيه المحايض والجيف. قلت: من أين تشرب؟ قال: من بئر

al-A’mash reports: Mughira came to me … and said: Blessings be on the one who drinks water of the Euphrates. I said to him: Do we have anything else to drink from? He said: Not if menstrual blood and corpses are thrown into it. I said: Where do you drink from. He said: From a well.

كان يقول بتحريم ماء الفرات وكل نهر أو عين أو بئر وقعت فيه نجاسة

Ibn Athir claims that Mughira used to forbid water from the Euphrates or any river or spring or well into which Najasa (pollution) had fallen.

عن أبي هلال: سألت الصادق عليه السلام: أينقض الرعاف والقيء ونتف الإبط الوضوء؟ فقال: وما تصنع بهذا؟ هذا قول المغيرة بن سعيد، لعن الله المغيرة ...

Abu Hallal asked Imam al-Sadiq: Do nosebleed, vomit, and armpit hair nullify ritual purity? Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام replied: Why are you meddling in such matters? This is the doctrine of Mughira b. Sa’id. May God curse al-Mughira …

Particularly noteworthy is Mughira’s preoccupation with menstrual blood, which is not surprising in light of what we are told in Sefer Ha-Razim, that, the ‘impurity’ of the menstruating woman nullifies the success of the Jewish magician.

زرارة قال: قال - يعني أبا عبد الله عليه السلام: إن أهل الكوفة قد نزل فيهم كذاب، أما المغيرة فإنه يكذب على أبي عليه السلام قال: حدثني أن نساء آل محمد إذا حضن قضين الصلاة وكذب والله، عليه لعنة الله، ما كان من ذلك شيء ولا حدثه ...

Zurara quotes Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام saying: A liar has descended amidst the people of Kufa. As for Mughira then he lies about my father and says: ‘he (al-Baqir) narrated to me that the womenfolk of the family of Muhammad do make up the prayer (Qadha) after their menstruation cycle’ but he has lied by Allah! May Allah curse him. No such thing happens and nor did he (al-Baqir) inform him of this …

In this instance, we see Mughira overriding the ancient taboo by the superior purity of the house of Muhammad, an example of the old ways which he transformed in his new version of Islam.

IV. 

There is some evidence that al-Mughira b. Sai’d was called by the title al-Abtar.

المغيرة بن سعيد لقبه الأبتر

This might be of significance.

The centerpiece of Mughira’s revelation was the figure of the creator. Here, reconstructed from several reports, is one description:

“He is a man of light, with a crown of light on his head, He has the body and limbs of a man. His body has an inside, within which is a heart, whence wisdom flows. His limbs have the shape of the letters of the alphabet [abjad]. The mim represents the head; the sin the teeth; the sad and dad the two eyes; the ‘ain and ghain the two ears; as for the ha’, he said: You will see in it a Great Power, and he implied that it was in the place of the genitalia and that he had seen it [on a heavenly ascent]; the alif was in the place of the foot …”

Mughira’s description of his ‘Object of Worship’ with its famous depiction of a Man of Light with the letters of the alphabet corresponding to his members - employs a Gnostic technical term ‘Great Power’ associated with the divine figure.

It happens that the coincidence of the name ‘Abatur’ and the term ‘Great Power’ is attested to in an eighth-century account by one Bar Khonai while describing the doctrines of the Mandeans: “They said that before the heaven and the earth were - there were great powers resting on the waters. They had a son whom they would call Abitour”.

The coincidence of name, doctrine, place, and date would all support a possible connection with Mughira.

V.

The Imams shared something of the divine attributes in Mughira’s theology. Ghulat used the term Tafwidh to cast Muhammad and/or ‘Ali as demiurges, who were ‘entrusted’ with over-seeing some crucial activities after the initial creation was begun by God. ‘Ali was especially favored for this demiurgic role. Some evidence for this can be found in statements made by Mughira which assign to Ali the ability to give life to the dead (independent of Allah).

قال: قلت: دعنى من هذا كان علي يقدر أن يحيي ميتا؟ قال: أي والذي فلق الحبة لقد كان قادرا أن يحيى ما بينى وبينك إلى آدم

al-A’mash reports that he asked Mughira: Was Ali able to give life to the dead? Mughira said: By the one who split the seed - he (Ali) was able to resurrect all those between me and you up to Adam (all mankind).  

لو شاء أحيا عادا وثمود. قلت: من أين علمت ذلك؟ قال: أتيت بعض أهل البيت فسقاني شربة من ماء فما بقي شيء إلا وقد علمته

In another variant Mughira is supposed to have said: If he (Ali) wishes he gives life to Ad and Thamud. When  al-A’mash asks him about how he came to know that - he said: I went to one of the Ahl al-Bayt who gave me water to drink  - which made me know everything.

This is why the Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said when speaking about Mughira:

لعن الله من قال فينا مالا نقوله في أنفسنا، ولعن الله من أزالنا عن العبودية لله الذي خلقنا وإليه مآبنا ومعادنا وبيده نواصينا...قال الصادق: ... 

May Allah curse the one who says about us what we do not claim for ourselves. May Allah curse the the one who excludes us from being servants to Allah who created us, to whom will be our return and in whose hand is our foreheads [we are totally submissive to him].

 

Reference

Wasserstrom, Steve. “The Moving Finger Writes: Mughīra B. Saʿīd's Islamic Gnosis and the Myths of Its Rejection.” History of Religions, vol. 25, no. 1, 1985, pp. 1–29.

3 Comments


Recommended Comments

  • Advanced Member

Salam brother 

Thank you for sharing this, very interesting to read!

Just one question regarding this statement:

 

"The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira b. Sa’id"

Weren't the Imams a.s speaking bad about the two themselves before Mughira l.a? 

 

 

Link to comment
  • Veteran Member
1 hour ago, The Straight Path said:

Just one question regarding this statement:

"The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira b. Sa’id"

Weren't the Imams a.s speaking bad about the two themselves before Mughira l.a? 

W. Salam.

Indeed they were.

However, these words are spoken by a proto-Sunni Hadith narrator called al-Amash. This indicates that the `Aimma and their true followers were not doing Lan openly and that Mughira betrayed Taqiyya.

Edited by Islamic Salvation
Link to comment
  • Veteran Member

This is an extract of the teachings of Mughira to his followers the Mughiriyya [Taken from Abu Tammam’s Bab al-Shaytan of the Kitab al-Shajara, translated by Wilferd Madelung and Paul E. Walker]:

 

The tenth sect is the Mughiriyya related to al-Mughira b. Sa’id al-Ijli [sic. al-Bajali]. They make up one group of the anthropomorphists. The object of their worship according to them, is a [divine] man the light on whose head forms a crown and he wears garments. His loincloth is the Qur’an that was revealed to Muhammad, the messenger of God, may God bless him and his family; His robes are the Gospels that were revealed to Jesus, on whom be peace; His shirt is the Torah that was revealed to Moses, on whom be peace; and His pants are the Pslams that were revealed to David, on whom be peace. He possesses limbs and a physical constitution like that of a man and has a belly from which flows wisdom.

They claim that the letters of the alphabet agree with the number of His limbs and that each letter in it resembles one of His limbs. The alif  is the position of His foot because of its curvature. The rest of the members they describe in accord with the description of these letters. They insist that al-Mughira said to his followers once when speaking of the letter ha’: if you were to see its place on Him, you would see something awesome. He was hinting at some genitalia of His and that he had seen Him [in a heavenly ascent].

The Mughiriyya claim that these letters are all a part of one name which is the greatest name of God. In addition they insist that al-Mughira was a prophet and he knew that name. With it he used to revive the dead and perform other marvels. They report that once al-Mughira passed through a cemetery with some of his followers and there in that cemetery he revived the dead and fed them fruits in mid-winter. Moreover, he displayed to them a flash of light that ran from the crown of his head to his feet; he toyed thus with his followers and bewitched their eyes with tricks of magic.

They also report that al-Mughira spoke about the beginning of creation. He said that God, the glorious and most high, was once alone and nothing was with Him. When He wished to create things, He spoke His own name. His word flew and landed over His head above the crown. Al-Mughira said that this was His statement, “Glorify the name of your Lord most high” (87:1). Then with His finger He wrote on His palm the deeds of humans that are acts of disobedience and obedience and He became angry at the acts of disobedience. His sweat overflowed and two oceans gathered from His sweat, one brackish and dark, the other pure luminous. Then looking into the ocean, He saw His shadow, so He went forth to seize it. He plucked out its two eyes and created out of them two suns and He blotted out some light from the moon. Then, out of the physical forms of His shadow, He created the heavens and the stars. Next, from these two oceans, He created creation in its entirety: from the dark brackish water, He created the shadow of the unbelievers, from the pure luminous water, He created the shadow of the believers.

The first among them that God created was Muhammad, may God bless him and his family, in accord with the statement of God, the glorious and the mighty, “Say: if the Most merciful had a son, I would be the first of the worshippers” (43:81). Next he sent Muhammad to the people altogether while they were yet shadows and He commanded him to have them bear witness on their own account of their recognition of the lordship of God, the apostleship of Muhammad, and the guardianship of Ali, on whom be peace, and that he recited His words, “When your Lord took from the tribe of Adam …” (7:172).

Then He proposed to the heavens and the earth that they should prevent Ali b. Abi Talib from assuming the caliphate and the imamate, but they refused. Next He proposed it to the mountains but they refused also. Then He proposed it to the people, whereupon Umar went to Abu Bakr – both were at that moment still shadows -  and he ordered him to take upon himself the task of preventing Ali by them both betraying him. Thereafter Abu Bakr did exactly that. All this is in God’s statement, “We did indeed offer the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains but they refused to undertake it being afraid of it. But man undertook it; he was indeed unjust and foolish” (33:72) Then Umar said to Abu Bakr, “I will support you against Ali, on whom be peace, so that you can pass the caliphate to me after yourself”. That is in God’s statement, “Like Satan when he said to man, ‘disbelieve’ and when he renounced belief, he said, ‘I am free of you’” (59:16). Here the Satan is Umar and the man is Abu Bakr.

In their view, the earth will disgorge the dead and they will return to this world. The Mahdi will appear at the end of time, they say, and Gabriel and Michael will aid him between the Ruqn and the Maqam. He will choose nineteen men and give each one of them a letter of the greatest name of God and by means of it they will defeat all armies and dominate the earth. 

Link to comment

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...