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Mufadhal b. Umar: Sinner or Saint?


Islamic Salvation

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اكتب وبث علمك في إخوانك، فإن مت فأورث كتبك بنيك

Write down and spread your knowledge among your brothers. And if you are about to die then will your books to your children [What the Imam al-Sadiq is supposed to have said to al-Mufadhal]

 

فلما انصرفت إلى الكوفة أقبلت علي الشيعة فمزقوني كل ممزق، يأكلون لحمي ويشتمون عرضي، حتى أن بعضهم استقبلني فوثب في وجهي، وبعضهم قعد لي في سكك الكوفة يريد ضربي، ورموني بكل بهتان

When I reached Kufa and met the Shia, they tore me to shreds, eating my flesh and disparaging my honour, such that one of them faced me and punched me in the face, and one of them lay in ambush for me in the markets of Kufa wishing to beat me up, and they made false accusations against me [Mufadhal in his Last Will and Testimony]

 

ما يقولون في المفضل بن عمر؟ قلت: يقولون فيه: هيئة يهوديا أو نصرانيا

What do they say about al-Mufadhal b. Umar? They say: He has the appearance and manner of a Jew or a Christian [The General Populace of Kufa was not impressed by Mufadhal]

 

Who was He?

Abu Abdallah Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi (d. before 179), a money-changer by profession, was a Kufan companion of the two Imams, al-Sadiq and al-Kadhim. He was charged with performing certain tasks for them.

al-Tusi sees no problem in him. He includes him among the praiseworthy ‘intimate ones’ and ‘managers of the Imam’s affairs’ citing the following report as evidence:

علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني سلمة بن الخطاب، عن علي بن حسان، عن موسى بن بكير قال: كنت في خدمة أبي الحسن عليه السلام ولم أكن أرى شيئا يصل إلى إلا من ناحية المفضل بن عمر، ولربما رأيت الرجل يجئ بالشئ فلا يقبله منه ويقول: أوصله إلى المفضل

Ali b. Muhammad – Salama b. al-Khattab – Ali b. Hassan – Musa b. Bukayr: I was in the service of Abi al-Hasan  عليه السلام. Nothing [of the monetary dues] used to reach him [from any other route] except through Mufadhal b. Umar. I would sometimes see a man bringing something to the Imam directly and he [the Imam] would refuse to accept it and say: take it to Mufadhal.   

That he was an important figure who exerted considerable influence on the Shi’ite community is undeniable. This can be glimpsed from the number of narrations under his name and the books attributed to him. 

 

A Controversial Narrator

However, there is a controversy about his status. A controversy which probably began in his own lifetime. Some saw him as the bearer of the ‘secrets’ of the Imams who was understandably misunderstood by the laymen who could not bear them, while others saw him as a crypto-syncretist who distorted the teachings of the Imam.

There exists both praise and censure of him attributed to the Imams. Most of the narrations which extol him are narrated by the Ghulat who glorify him as one of their pillars.

The books ascribed to him include partially surviving esoteric manuals like Kitab al-Sirat (‘The Book of the Way’) and Kitab al-Haft wa al-Azilla (‘The Book of the Seven and the Phantoms’) among others. These are treasured by contemporary Nusayri-Alawis but would be considered heretical in the Twelver Madhhab. It is unclear whether this attribution is historical or merely based on the communal memory of his significance for their teachings. Modern academic research sees these books as consisting of many layers, with unidentified authors adding material to the oldest core.

al-Ayyashi encountered some of this suspect literature as he retells below:

 وأمّا أبو يعقوب إسحاق بن محمد البصري، فإنّه كان غالياً، وسرت إليه إلى بغداد لاكتب عنه وسألته كتاباً أنسخه، فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث المفضّل بن عمر في التفويض ، فلم أرغب فيه فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث مشيخته من الثقات

As for Abu Ya’qub Ishaq b. Muhammad al-Basri then he was a Ghali. I went to him in Baghdad to write from him. I asked him a book to copy so he took out for me a collection of narrations from Mufadhal b. Umar regarding Tafwidh [that the ‘Aimma are independent beings who run the world after its initial creation] but I did not express any interest in that, then he produced narrations relayed by the trustworthy ones among his teachers …

Traditionalist scholars like al-Najashi and Ibn al-Ghadhairi had a negative assessment of him for this very reason. They went through the works ascribed to him and found them to be unpalatable.

Ibn al-Ghadhairi is scathing when he says:

خطابي، وقد زيد عليه شئ كثير، وحمل الغلاة في حديثه حملا عظيما

A Khattabi. A lot of fabricated material has been attributed to him. The Ghulat have launched a full-scale attack on his narrations (i.e. they have invaded his original corpus infiltrating it with their own ideas)

al-Najashi warns:

وقد ذكرت له مصنفات لا يعول عليها، وإنما ذكرنا للشرط الذي قدمناه

‘A number of books are listed as authored by him but they are not to be depended upon. I only include their names because of the condition which we have mentioned before [i.e. to list the titles of all Shi’i authors]’

Even if he is not responsible for what circulates under his name, the fact that the Ghulat considered him one of their own should be reason enough for caution. Anonymous writers are  known to have penned material using his name seeking to enhance the authority of their works. It is an arduous task to sift the historical from the forged.

 

A Khattabi?

What can be asserted without doubt is that the historical Mufadhal was at one point in time connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya [there is even a splinter-sect of the Khatabiyya which was named after Mufadhal i.e. the Mufadhaliyya]. They are accused of deifying al-Sadiq in some way and of believing in continuation of prophecy. We have some narrations which indicate Mufadhal’s links with such beliefs:   

حدثني الحسين بن الحسن بن بندار القمي، قال حدثني سعد بن عبد الله بن أبي خلف القمي، قال حدثني محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب و الحسن بن موسى، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن عبد الله بن مسكان قال: دخل حجر بن زائدة و عامر بن جذاعة الأزدي على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقالا: جعلنا فداك، إن المفضل بن عمر يقول إنكم تقدرون أرزاق العباد ...

al-Husayn b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Qummi – Sa’d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf al-Qummi – Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and al-Hasan b. Musa from Safwan b. Yahya from Abdallah b. Muskan who said: Hujr b. Zaida and A’mir b. Judha’a al-Azdi entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: May we be made your ransom, Mufadhal b. Umar says that you are the ones who allot the Rizq of the slaves …

علي بن محمد، عن صالح بن أبي حماد، عن محمد بن أورمة، عن ابن سنان، عن المفضل بن عمر قال: كنت أنا والقاسم شريكي ونجم بن حطيم وصالح بن سهل بالمدينة فتناظرنا في الربوبية، قال: فقال بعضنا لبعض: ما تصنعون بهذا نحن بالقرب منه وليس منا في تقية قوموا بنا إليه، قال: فقمنا فوالله ما بلغنا الباب إلا وقد خرج علينا بلا حذاء ولا رداء قد قام كل شعرة من رأسه منه وهو يقول: لا لا يا مفضل ويا قاسم ويا نجم، لا لا بل عباد مكرمون لا يسبقونه بالقول وهم بأمره يعملون

Ali b. Muhammad – Salih b. Abi Hammad – Muhammad b. Awrama – Ibn Sinan – al-Mufadhal b. Umar who said I, al-Qasim al-Shariki, Najm b. Hutaym and Salih b. Sahl were in Madina when we disputed each other over the divinity [of the ‘Aimma]. He [Mufadhal] said: We said to each other - why are we speculating on this when we are nearby to him [the Imam] and he is not in Taqiyya with us [does not answer us in dissimulation], let’s go meet him. He [Mufadhal] said: We headed towards him - by Allah we had not reached the door before he came out bare-footed, without a cloak and all the hair on his head stood on end [in apprehension] saying: No - O Mufadhal, Qasim and Najm, No! “rather mere honored slaves, never preceding Him (Allah) in word, and they always follow His orders” (21:26-27)

حدثني حمدويه وإبراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن علي ابن الحكم، عن المفضل بن عمر أنه كان يبشر أبا الخطاب وفلان أنكما لمن المرسلين

Hamduwayh b. Nusayr and Ibrahim b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam: That he [Mufadhal b. Umar] used to give glad tidings to Aba al-Khattab and one other saying: ‘verily you are messengers’

قال الكشى: وذكرت الطيارة الغالية في بعض كتبها عن المفضل: أنه قال لقد قتل مع أبي اسماعيل يعني أبا الخطاب سبعون نبيا ... وأن المفضل قال: أدخلنا على أبي عبد الله عليه‌ السلام ونحن اثنى عشر رجلا، قال: فجعل أبو عبد الله عليه‌ السلام يسلم على رجل رجل منا ويسمي كل رجل منا باسم نبي، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا نوح، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا ابراهيم، وكان آخر من سلم عليه وقال: السلام عليك يا يونس، ثم قال: لا تخاير بين الانبياء

al-Kashshi said: The Tayyara Ghulat say in one of their books that al-Mufadhal said: Seventy prophets were killed with Aba al-Khattab … Mufadhal is also supposed to have said: Twelve of us entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه‌ السلام. He [the Imam] began greeting each one of us individually and calling each one of us by the name of a prophet, saying to one of us ‘peace be upon you O Noah’ to another ‘peace be upon you O Ibrahim’, he greeted the last one of us saying: ‘peace be upon you O Yunus’. Then he [the Imam] said: do not distinguish between the prophets! 

 

Mufadhal, The Khattabiyya and Ismail

The Khatabbiya seem to have taken Ismail the son of al-Sadiq as their figure-head and pinned their hopes on him as the next Imam. It is hard to discern from the meager sources available whether Ismail’s participation in this was of his own volition or not.

رجال الكشي: حمدويه بن نصير، عن 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

Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. al-Hakam and Hammad b. Uthman –  Ismail b. 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? Do you want to kill him!?

The narration above has the Imam using very harsh language with Mufadhal in the context of the latter’s ‘grooming’ of Ismail which al-Sadiq felt was dangerous. 

On the other hand, there also exists a countervailing narration as below:


الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب قال: أمرني أبو عبد الله عليه السلام أن آتي المفضل واعزيه باسماعيل وقال: اقرأ المفضل السلام وقل له: إنا قد اصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا، فاصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا وأراد الله عزوجل أمرا، فسلمنا لامر الله عزوجل

Muhammad b. Yahya – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام ordered me to go to Mufadhal and condole him for [the death of] Ismail. He [the Imam] said: Convey my greetings of peace to Mufadhal and say to him: We have been tried through Ismail and have remained patient, so be patient the way we have been patient. We wanted something but Allah Mighty and Majestic wanted something else so we have submitted to the command of Allah Mighty and Majestic.   

This one is much more warm. The Imam condoles Mufadhal on the occasion of Ismail’s death - the two must have been especially close - and commends him to be patient in emulation of the Imam’s own patience.   

How can we explain this difference in tone?

 

A Rapprochement?

It seems that one way to reconcile between them is to posit that Mufadhal had a period of estrangement from the Imam - because of his involvement with the Khattabis and their intentions for Ismail, however, he later repented from this and broke away with Abu al-Khattab, consequently the relation with the Imam improved.

Evidence for this can be found in the narration below:

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 ما لك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعد

Jibrail b. Ahmad – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus – Hammad b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi: O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you have to do with my 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 afterwards.

That Mufadhal returned back to the truth after deviation can be proved also by the fact that he was not among those followers of Abu al-Khattab who died with their leader when they were attacked by the men of Isa b. Musa [the Abbasid governor of Kufa] after barricading themselves in the central mosque as part of an aborted revolt.

Another piece of evidence for this view is that Mufadhal seems to have a more cordial relation with al-Kadhim after the death of al-Sadiq [indeed there are no censures against him quoted from this Imam, which would tally with his reform in his later years]. 

محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن خلف، قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي، قال: حدثني موسى بن بكير قال: سمعت أبا الحسن يقول لما أتاه موت المفضل بن عمر، قال: رحمه الله، كان الوالد بعد الوالد، أما انه قد استراح

Muhammad b. Masud – Abdallah b. Khalaf – Ali b. Hassan al-Wasiti – Musa b. Bukayr who said: I heard Aba al-Hasan saying when he was informed of the death of al-Mufadhal b. Umar - May Allah have mercy on him, he was a father after the father [al-Sadiq i.e. a second father to him]. Verily he is now resting in peace.

 

Summary 

The case of al-Mufadhal is a complicated one. More needs to be done to collect all the relevant evidence and formulate a coherent position, if at all possible. This is obviously not the place for an in-depth study. Such research should also consider the provenance of famous books attributed to him like Tawhid al-Mufadhal, al-Ihlilaja etc. Having said all this, caution must be exercised as regards narrations attributed to him, specifically if the contents have to do with Imamology.

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      I felt the happiness instantly with the moment and later when I’d go home I would feel depressed and sad like I was missing something, I couldn’t sit alone I couldn’t stand home, my soul was always agitated and unsettled.
      I studied Christianity before but it was all science fiction. Studying Christianity made me even more lost and drove me to doubt the existence of God, which was worse; I would die just to know what can fill this empty space I always had. I asked myself is that it? We came here to eat sleep party have fun work make a family and die...
      One night when I hit rock bottom after I finished this self-discovery journey and I arrived nowhere, I started calling upon God (without even being sure that He existed and listening), I told him God if you were there if you existed please help me find my way, suddenly and out of nowhere there was someone whom I’ve met 4 years ago, he started coming up to my mind which was so weird because I had no interest what so ever to talk to him and see him(because he was a Muslim and I didn’t like Islam just like any other brainwashed Christian middle eastern person) so I contacted him, turns out he was a committed Shia who triggered my path into Islam, and in the same time I met a Christian man who was living in France and he converted the same month as I did, this was God telling me that I’m not alone, this was God giving me a kind of motif, I mean what are the odds?
      Whoever wants God, God will answer him, He will not leave him alone, but only few people really want God all they want is this world, they are blinded by it.
      When I found Islam, my ultimate destiny, and when I found God I felt so ecstatic and intense, I felt this deep power and enlightenment, It was entirely uplifting, deeply emotional and pleasurable, I felt a deep joy that finally my existence made sense, that God gave me a purpose to live for to strive for and to fight for, to reach the highest level of existence. He chose me out of all these people who are lost, I had met more than 2,000 people and he just gave me this special gift, showed me the door to his secrets, Our(Shias) status To God is special, this is why we should fight this world and fight ourselves and desires and never give up, to be worthy of this privilege that God gave us. When I personally realized this it was time for the hard work. When we understand the power laying behind us we would never have to fear anything ever again in our entire life. 
      I was so afraid to jump into this transition, my faith was weak and I had doubts at some moments. I had to give up my friends, my activities, habits, shut off my desires, change my morals, my rules, my lifestyle, my priorities, my social life, my behavior… I was shifting my core belief which is something very hard for a human to change. I was trapped and afraid at some point; I didn’t know how to do it. I was never home, I was never alone, I was lazy, I never respected my parents, I didn’t prioritize anything except my plans, I’d quite jobs because my work schedule didn’t match my entertaining plans...This is how much I was messed up and attached to the world.
      I seeked happiness and the more you feel happiness the more you want it, it’s like a drug, so you indulge more in dunya activities until you are completely lost. Happiness wasn’t created to feel here, happiness is for the next world, we should never waste time here getting attached to this world because we will do eventually whatever we want in the afterlife. We are born to pass this test and to return to our original home where Prophet Adam was created. It took me time to realize this.
      My friends were atheists, mushrikin, infidels, and almost all my activities were sinning, I quite them all and now I don’t befriend no one but the lovers of Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). It was very hard and I suffered deeply at some point, washing away your sins purifying yourself from them is EXTREMELY hard, it’s like you’re pulling forward and the devil is pulling you back all the time. But God didn’t let me feel I’m alone, he rewarded me, gave me a steady job where I can be fully committed in, gave me this feeling of security and self-satisfaction, gave me Many privileges that I didn’t possess before. This entire process made me someone else; I became very mentally strong and different. Islam isn’t for sissies; Islam needs strengths, stability, mental toughness, brave hearted individuals who take sacrifices for God, who are ready to face the evil and the challenges of this world.
      The equation is simple, as much as you give God as much as He gives you in return. After I was guided I tested myself, tried doing some things that I did in the past to see if this was a phase in my life, but I felt disgusted ashamed weak and I became afraid of death. Now if I touch a man by mistake or if I eat something from a table that has alcohol on it without paying attention I would think about it for 3 days feeling guilty because I disappointed God. I do not fear punishment as much I fear to fail God, because I love Him, that is the true worshiping. Each time I do something to get closer to God I feel my soul elevating I feel that I’m gaining spiritual power and my perspective towards the world changes… Everyone told me it's just a phase but as each day is passing I'm falling more in love with this religion and with Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). I still have hard time committing to my religion as my parents don't know(or kinda in denial), so I practice everything in secrecy.
      To conclude I want to tell you something, brothers and sisters, this world is evil, you shouldn’t love it nor seek to have fun in it, you should hate it and never ever be dependent on something related to it, even though I know the truth behind my past life how it’s all evil empty and worthless, it still tempts me sometimes till this very day, the love of this world isn’t easy so don’t get yourself trapped because once you’re in it’s so difficult to get out. Don’t go to hell to enjoy life here; don’t sell your soul to the devil.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         1
      Introduction
      The institute is a Saudi attempt to exercise soft power. It presents 'research' designed to undermine the IRI. The people behind this organisation know the value of appearing to be independent and great care has been taken to present the image of a western 'thinktank'. Indeed you almost get the impression that the people behind an American think tank came up with this one.
      But as with any articificial exercise there are holes and I'll examine one of them.
      About us
      Nowadays it's a requirement (in the interests of transparency) to have something titled 'about us', so visitors can know who it is that is running or even sponsoring an organisation. Below is an extract of their About Us page.

      https://rasanah-iiis.org/english/about-us/
      All this verbiage about vision, mission and values. It's straight out of Harvard Business School. Obviously I am using that as a surrogate to stand-in for contemporary western ideas about how you shape the scope and direction of an organisation. Whoever put this together either attended a western institution or was told to copy the relevant sections from another website. The key thing is the importance of 'emulation', the people running the site are in the taqlid of a foreign ideology and doing their best to ape it.
      But they fall down.
      Form vs. function
      The problem with copying someone else is that you pay attention to the form of something but not necessarily its content. You use the right headings, but not necessarily the right meanings. The words are in the right order but they don't mean very much. If you are running a grocery shop and you attended a two day seminar on management so that you could write a business plan this is not necessarily a problem.
      If you are running a thinktank, it is. You are in the business of creating and presenting ideas. If you can't get the basics right, you're in the wrong business.
      The problem in a nutshell - Values
      By the time they got to values they ran out of ideas. Quite funny really, in a pathetic kind of way. Values is where you write what your organisation stands for. Again if you are running a think tank you do obviously have values. To give you an example here is something from the American Enterprise Institute:
      https://www.aei.org/about/
      I have used them because just as I don't agree with the Saudi outfit that is the focus of this post, I also don't agree with the AEI, but they are at least transparent. And they set out their values clearly. They believe that free enterprise (as opposed to State control) is a good thing in and of itself. Their having declared this tells you in advance that studies they publish are likely to show free enterprise in a positive light.
      Values in a bit more detail
      The great thing about values is that the concept allows for the fact that people have different values. Going back to the AEI example, clearly other people around the world have different values, they believe that e.g. State control of all the means of production is a good thing and there are people somewhere along the middle of this continuum, who believe that some mixture of free enterprise and State control is to be preferred.
      When I talk with Chinese audiences I use the concept of filial piety as representing a set of values. What follows below is a set of statements (measuring filial piety) with which you can either strongly agree or disagree or be somewhere in the middle.
      In Asian societies, for example, you will tend to find that people will be more likely to strongly agree with many of these statements. In some western ones disagreement is more likely - because of their greater focus on personal independence.
      Are some values better or worse than others? Are some values right and other ones wrong?
      You may have a belief system that does indeed tell you what values are right or wrong, indeed adherence to some is more likely to send you to heaven or hell. For example I believe that Islam tends more towards filial piety than personal independence, at least in some measures of filial piety. I am not sure our religion advocates trying our best to achieve parents' unachieved goals, but I do think the imperative to always being polite to parents applies. 

      Terry Y. S. Lum1, Elsie C. W. Yan, Andy H. Y. Ho, Michelle H. Y. Shum1, Gloria H. Y. Wong1, Mandy M. Y. Lau1, and Junfang Wang (2015) Measuring Filial Piety in the 21st Century: Development, Factor Structure, and Reliability of the 10-Item Contemporary Filial Piety Scale. Journal of Applied Gerontology 13
       
      So why do I have a problem with the IIIS's values
      The values that they set out contrast vividly with those of the AEI. The AEI sets out those values that it believes will make the world a better place.
      The IIIS sets out the importance they attach to answering emails on time and doing whatever it is they do well.
      That's ridiculous and leaves us with one of three possibilities:
      The values section is for internal Saudi consumption They don't understand what a values section is about and simply copied and pasted the idea from somewhere else and made some amendments They're too embarrassed to state their values Lets look at each of the above in turn.
      It's for internal Saudi consumption
      Running a professional organisation as these values state is pretty much a sine qua non, something you'd take for granted. Actually on reflection, it's a sine qua non in cultures where doing things properly is the norm. In Saudi, given the general lack of professionalism, overall levels of incompetence and laziness, perhaps it is a mark of recognition that you do what you should be doing.
      So perhaps there is a rational explanation for what they have done - but it does not reflect well on Saudi, if this is the case.
      They don't understand what a values section is about
      If the people putting together the site knew they needed one, but could not get the sign off from those higher up as to what the values statement should be, they just defaulted to something inane - which defats the purpose of the exercise, especially for people claiming to run a think tank.
      They're too embarrassed to state their values
      We are still left with the unanswered question as to what the Institute stands for. If their values posit that Saudi influence in the region is a good thing they should say so. If they believe that Iran is a malign power and the world would be a better place if people knew this, they should say so. But are they embarrassed to state the obvious? Are they really trying to run with the fiction that theirs is a neutral and independent organisation?
       
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      Summary
      When you are in a weak position, all the choices you have are bad ones.
      Introduction
      I've always thought that since British Mandate the Palestinians have been in a no win position. If they accepted the offers the Israelis gave them there would have been an incentive for the Israelis to take more land (if the Pals don't mind yielding some they might not mind yielding more) and if the Pals had resisted that would also have given the Israelis a pretext to take more land (for defensive purposes), the latter has proven to be the case.
      In short whatever the Pals decided did not matter, the Israelis' dominant position ensured that they could respond in a manner that was advantageous to them. The same applies to Native American Indians in the 18th and 19th centuries, whether their response to European settlers was to fight make treaties the outcome would always be the same, their lands would be taken. In both cases there was such an asymmetry between the two parties that there was nothing the colonised could do that would change the outcome.
      In the examples that follow I look at some contemporary examples that illustrate a different dynamic. In these instances non-Western powers have presented the West with situations where however the West responds will lead to an outcome for the West that it does not want.
      Huawei - China
      Turning now to a totally different situation, the following piece in the FT neatly summarises how I feel about the situation between the U.S. government and Huawei. In the 21st century, it is beginning to look as if the Chinese have the best cards. for example Huawei makes good and cost-effective telecoms infrastructure.
      Western countries may have security concerns, but if they ban Huawei, they could end up with a poorer solution. Other countries that have no such qualms could benefit from the cost advantages that Huawei equipment offers. But if Western countries accept Huawei they risk entrenching the advantages that the Chinese have, as well as the claimed security risks.
      Sanctions have been a preferred Western method of taking action against countries that have fallen out of favour. But this tool only works where you have something the other person wants, when the situation is reversed - you can end up damaging yourself.
      https://www.ft.com/content/8fc63610-88fe-11e9-b861-54ee436f9768
      SWIFT - Russia
      This example arose during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022. The West wanted to sanction Russia by imposing economic sanctions including barring Russian entities from access to western financial systems. But this was not straightforward:
      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/feb/24/what-is-swift-international-payments-network-russia-sanction
      Sic transit gloria mundi (so passes worldly glory)
      In a previous FT story about the same subject I posted a comment that this situation is similar to the British attempts to stop Indian technological development by banning the Indians from making their own steam engines, at the start of the 20th century. The British may have delayed Indian development by some decades, but that's all they were able to do. Whether the British took no action to stop Indian technological development or whether they proactively tried to hinder it, ultimately they would lose. 
      There are now far too many Indians with every increasing levels of capability to stop the juggernaut.
      The status quo
      In mid-2022 following a visit to Taiwan by Senator Pelosi the FT noted this about the Chinese response to the visit:
      https://www.ft.com/content/5462a57a-bd13-4313-b26b-9645b48a70ee 
      In my opinion it was Pelosi who altered the status quo, this was the most high ranking visit in 25 years. Based on the theme of this blog post, given the dominant position of the Chinese, the American position should be to maintain the status quo. As soon as they seek to alter it, the Chinese have an excuse to try and establish a new status quo that is more favourable to them.
      Conclusion
      In the context of China, I think the U.S. government feels a threat to its economic/technological dominance. And the sanctions are its attempt to fight back. But whether the U.S. decides to fight or not, I think in the longer term that dominance will have to be compromised. Huawei and the Chinese are now too far along the technological path of development and they are far further ahead than the India of the early 20th century. 
      The U.S. is now in a similar technological position that the Palestinians have been in terms of geography. Whatever option the US chooses, it will ultimately 'lose'. Loss in this context is not necessarily ceding technological leadership to the Chinese, but it may well involve acknowledging their superiority in certain areas. Other countries like Russia also may be able to work their way around sanctions for example, so western attempts to control their behaviour will have limited success.
      In the context of Russia it seems that there is too much at stake economically for sanctions to be effective, the sanctioners stand to lose as much as the sanctioned.
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         14
      Summary
      The theory that the pyramids were built or had their construction guided by extraterrestrials is challenged by the existence of mistakes in the construction of some of them.
      But I think the Egyptians were privy to Divine Guidance, which in itself is interesting because the evidence of a Pharoah moving from polytheism to monotheism supports Qur'anic teaching as I understand it.
       
      The bent pyramid at Dahshur
      There is a populist theory that the pyramids must have had an alien inspiration. This is because of the range of innovations that they represent and knowledge across multiple disciplines and their orientation towards certain constellations.
      My problem with this theory is the bent pyramid at Dahshur. It's bent, because they got the maths wrong (see the picture I took a few years ago below). It's weird that aliens who managed to get to this planet but then got their measurements for a stone structure wrong. Seems pretty clear to me that the pyramids we see represent the refinement and development of Egyptian technology, rather than discrete alien intervention. Also supporting my contention is a landscape literally littered with smaller pyramids, these people were learning, developing and increasing the scale of their creations as they grew more confident.
       

       
      https://www.wonders-of-the-world.net/Pyramids-of-Egypt/Evolution-of-the-pyramids-of-Egypt.php
       
      If not aliens then who?
      Humans.
      My understanding of the Qur'anic references to Pharaoh is that they provide an example of a powerful leader, with immense resources, who was nevertheless brought down by divine intervention. The Pharaohs were representatives of a culture with a level of scientific, organisational, military and communications capability unknown at that time and for a long time yet to come.
      Indeed the very existence of mistakes in their work and subsequent improvements demonstrates that they had the capability to learn. Nevertheless the fact that the Pharoah of the time of Moses was brought down by believers in Allah who were weaker in numbers and military strength, is a sign to subsequent rulers around the world about how weak their position can be.

       
       
      And importantly the Qur'an tells us that the evidence of such civilisations is there for us to observe in order for us to better understand the message that is being conveyed to us:
       

       
      A final thought
      Were the ancient Egyptians privy to Divine guidance? I think there is evidence in the Qur'an that they may have been. Here are some references to Allah communicating with other cultures.

       
       

       

       
      And indeed there is material in the historical record that at least one Pharoah (Akhenaten) tried to promulgate a faith that had similarities to monotheism. The initiative did not last very long and in the reign of the next Pharoah (Tutankhamun) the Egyptians reverted to polytheism. I use the phrase similarities to monotheism because although he removed references to the pantheon of deities that the Egyptians previously worshipped, his new religion nevertheless involved worship of the sun.
      The following extract is from a book published within the last few years that addresses head on the issue of monotheism and Akhenaten's rule.
      Hoffmeier, J.K., 2015. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford University Press.
      Perhaps Akhenaten was amongst the many Prophets that we believe have been sent by God at different times and places to different cultures? I am speculating here, but perhaps the message was corrupted? Still, I would like to believe that the archaeological evidence of Akhenaten's rule supports the idea that Allah's message was not restricted to just the children of Abraham.
       
      See Also
       
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
         17
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
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