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    • By Ali bin Hussein in Zaidia the middle path.
      A Zaydī response to the hādīth on the “twelve Caliphs”  
      Ibn Kazim al-Zaydī 
      All praise is due to Allāh, the Exalted and Majestic; the One who has no partners or associates; the One who provides the light of guidance to His servants so that they may attain 
      spiritual perfection and illumination by means of it. May Allāh send His blessings upon His servant and seal of the Messengers, Muhammad ībn Abdullāh. May Allāh bless the pure Progeny of the Prophet, as well as his righteous Companions, and those that follow them in excellence until the Day of Judgment. 
      This short essay is aimed at evaluating the well-debated hādīth on the “twelve Caliphs” known as “ḥadīth al-ithnā ‘ashar khalīfā”. The hādīth in question has been of particular significance to the Ithnā‘ashāriyyah (the Twelver school of thought) due to their conception of Imāma which entails the acceptance of twelve infallible Imāms as a point of creed or uṣūl al-dīn.  In an attempt to demonstrate the validity of their creed, a number of Twelver scholars have consequently produced works asserting that it is obligatory upon every believer to accept the belief in twelve infallible Imāms due to the appearance of this tradition within the sources of their theological opponents. This short essay will therefore endeavour to analyse the argumentation that has been raised in support of this claim.  
      An analysis of the “twelve Caliphs” hādīth 
      Perhaps the most notable scholar to have made this argument is Shaykh al-Tusī of the 5th century AH who is commonly referred to as “Shaykh al-Taʾifāh” (scholar of the sect) by adherents of the Twelver school. Al-Tusī makes this argument within his work entitled 
      “Kitāb al-Ghayba” – a book written on the occultation of their twelfth Imām asserting that the hadīth in question serves as proof for the correctness of their creed.  However, the first objection to al-Tusī and those that have purported this claim, is that this hādīth appears nowhere within the Zaydī canon of Hādīth – meaning that such argumentation cannot be levelled against the Zaydī school. Nonetheless, the traditions which have been relied on to make this argument will still be examined. 
      This tradition appears in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī on the authority of Jābir ībn Sāmūra with the usage of word amir (commander) as opposed to khalifā (successor) with the following wording: 
      Jābir ībn Sāmūra reported that the Prophet said: “There will be twelve Muslīm commanders (amirs). He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, "All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraysh."  However, the most authoritative wording on the “twelve Caliphs” hādīth within the Sunni tradition is located in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslīm - which is also narrated on the authority of Jābir ībn Sāmūra. The report is as follows:  Jābir ībn Sāmūra reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: “Islām will continue to remain in a state of glory until there have been twelve Caliphs.”  There are a number of reasons as to why this particular hādīth, as well as other variants of this tradition, do not support the doctrinal claims of the 
      Ithnā‘ashāriyyā. The first is that there is no mention of the infallibility of these twelve 
      Caliphs within these reports, and the names of these Caliphs have also not been reported. In addition to this, the above narration states that Islām will remain in a state of glory until there have been twelve Caliphs. However, the claim of the Shiā is that Islām went through a troublesome period during the rule of Ali ībn Abū Ṭālib and his sons, placing this report in direct opposition with the Twelver understanding of events.  
      In another transmission within Sāhih Muslīm, Sa’d ībn Abu Waqqās narrates that he wrote a letter to Jābir ībn Sāmūrā to be informed of a statement of the Messenger of Allah, to which Jābir ībn Sāmūrā responded: “The Islāmic religion will continue until the Hour has been established, or you have been ruled over by twelve Caliphs, all of them being from the Quraysh.”  It can be seen through this report that Jābir ībn Sāmūra also reported that the twelve Caliphs will rule over the Muslīm community. This point demonstrates that “ḥadīth al-ithnā ‘ashar khalīfā” cannot possibly be in reference to the twelve Imāms whom they consider infallible. The reason for this is because only two of the twelve Imāms ever ruled, whilst the other nine, were never able to claim sultā (political authority) – that is to stay, they were never in a position that enabled them to appoint anyone as an amir (governor), issue hudud (capital) punishments or have any influence over political affairs. To the contrary, it is claimed by the Ithnā‘ashāriyyah that these nine imāms lived in taqīyya and were unable to hold any authority within the political sphere. 
      Another objection to this hādīth is that it is merely solitary (ahād) which means that it cannot be used to establish a point of aqīda or creed. The reason for this is because one’s creed must be based on yaqīn or certainty. The very meaning of the word “aqīda” is “what the heart is knotted upon” which means that it linguistically excludes speculation.  In other words, an article of faith can only be based on a definitive text that is not subject to difference of opinion in either its meaning or its reliability. It is not unreasonable to assert that one of the narrators within a solitary chain of transmission (īsnād) may have made an error while transmitting the report either by way of a mistake, forgetfulness, or even lying. This is not just the conclusion of Zaydī scholars, but also the view of Ashārī and Maturidī scholars who make up mainstream Sunni thought.   
      It may be argued that numerous narrators such as Abdul-Mālik ībn Umair, Hussain ībn 
      Abdul-Rahman, Sīmak, Amer ībn Sa’ad ībn Abī Waqqās, as well as al-Sha’abī, and others, have transmitted this report within Ṣāḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Ṣāḥīḥ Muslīm. However, this argument would be dismissed on the basis that all of these people are reporting this tradition as sub-narrators on the authority of Jābir ībn Sāmūra as tābī’een, not companions who heard this statement directly from the Prophet. In other words, even if a million sub-narrators were to report from one narrator, this doesn’t reach the status of mass-transmission or tawātur. A narration is only mutāwatīr if it is narrated by multiple sub-narrators to multiple narrators. 
      It could also be advanced by proponents of this hādīth that Jābir ībn Sāmūra is not the only companion to have narrated this hādīth. For instance, a report appears in Kitāb as-Sunnah by Ibn Abī 'Asim that is narrated on the authority of the companion Abdullāh ībn`Amr, which states the following: Abdullāh ībn ‘Amr reports that the Messenger of Allah, said: “There will be twelve Khulafā after me, starting with Abu Bakr al-Sīddīq whose rule won't last long”. However, this report cannot be used as evidence by the proponents of this argument for two reasons. First, the narration explicitly delegates and places Abu Bakr as the first Khalifa when the claim of the Ithnā‘ashārīyyā is that the first of the twelve Imāms is Ali ībn Abū Ṭālib. Secondly, according to Al-Albāni, this report is transmitted with an unreliable chain of transmission due to the inclusion of Rabi`ah ībn Sayf who is the narrator that claims to have heard this report from Abdullah ībn ‘Amr.  In other words, not only can this report not be soundly attributed to the Prophet, but is also cannot be firmly established to be the words of the companion Abdullāh ībn ‘Amr. 
      A similar report also appears within Musnād Ahmād on the authority of Ibn Mas’ūd. The report is as follows: Ibn Mas’ūd was approached by a person and asked, “Did the Prophet ever mention how many Khulafā there will be within this ummah?” Ibn Mas’ūd said, “Yes, and no one has asked me about this except you.” He then said, “Twelve - just like Bani Israel”. However, this report cannot be used to support the doctrinal claims of the Twelvers because its chain of transmission has been graded as daef or weak by Shaykh Shu'aib al-
      Aranut due the inclusion of Mujalid ībn Sa`īd as one of the sub-narrators.   
      In relation to the reports which appear within Twelver sources, these would be dismissed on the basis that a tradition can only be used to establish a point of creed if it has been reported on the direct authority of the Prophet and consequently transmitted through tawātur. Moreover, if one was to cite a narration with a chain of transmission linked to Imām Jāfar al-
      Sādīq (or any of the twelve Imāms) which states that the Imāms are infallible, and then point out that Jāfar al-Sādīq was an Imām, followed up by asserting that Jāfar al-Sādīq must have therefore been infallible – would be engaging in a prime example of circular reasoning. 
      A Zaydī explanation 
      Classical Zaydī scholars such as Imām Mansūr Bīllāh Abdullāh ībn Hāmza (sixth century AH) have produced texts dedicated to the refutation of the Twelver school of thought,  as well as contemporary Zaydī scholars such as Shaykh Abdullah ad-Daylamī who has authored a short treatise on this very subject entitled “Ma’a Imāmī” - which echoes the ideas expressed in this essay with a similar line of argumentation. That is to say, a solitary tradition cannot be used to establish a point of creed and the content of these hādīths are clearly in opposition with Twelver doctrine. However, ad-Daylamī offers an additional insight into this report and provides us with a reason as to why this tradition may have emerged in the first place. It is asserted by ad-Daylamī that a number of reasons allude to the view that this report is an Abbasid forgery. This is based on a variant of this tradition which appears in Tārikh alKhulafā by as-Suyutī on the authority of Ibn Umar. The report is as follows: Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet said: “There will be twelve Caliphs after me: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmān, Mu’āwiya, Yazīd, as-Saffāḥ, Mansur, Jābir, al-Amīn, Salām, Mahdī and Amir al‘Asb…”  In addition to this report placing Abu Bakr as the first caliph, ad-Daylamī points out that Ali ībn Abū Ṭālib, as well as Imām al-Hasān are curiously missing from this list of khulafā, but strangely included are Mu’āwīya and Yāzīd. However, more to the point, half of the report contains Abbasid rulers within the text, making the “twelve Caliphs” hādīth a possible Abbasid forgery.  
      In summary, this hādīth cannot be used to establish the infallibility of the twelve imāms claimed by the Ithnā‘ashārīyyā. The narrations in question can only be soundly attributed to one companion - Jābir ībn Sāmūra, with all other reports narrated on the authority of other companions such as Abdullah ībn ‘Amr, Ibn Mas’ūd, and Ibn Umar containing unreliable transmitters and clear-cut forgeries within the content of these reports. In addition to this, the actual of content of these hādīths contain descriptions of khulafā, which unequivocally do not match the description of the “twelve infallible Imāms”. For instance, Jābir ībn Sāmūra reports that these twelve khulafā will rule over the Muslīm ummah, however only two of the twelve Imāms within the Ithnā‘ashārīyyā sect were ever able to rule. Moreover, there is no mention of their infallibility within these reports, nor the names of the khulafā question. Zaydī scholars have also highlighted out how this tradition appears nowhere within the Zaydī tradition and coupled this point with argumentation as to why this report may have been an Abbasid forgery. With all of this information taken into consideration, it simply cannot be argued that this hādīth should be used to establish a point of creed. 
      And Allah knows best! 
      Ibn Ḥazim al-Zaydī 9th April 2018 / al-'ithnayn: 23. Radjab 1439 
    • By Abdul-Hadi in Chasing Islam
      I am alone at home for the week. Mom has gone to visit my aunt & uncle in New York state. I'm happy for her because she hasn't gone on a vacation since before COVID19 began it's rampage through America; so it's good that she's getting to visit them. She'll be visiting with my cousin Hannah as well. However, it's just me here with the cats (after all someone had to stay around to feed, water, scoop, and spend time with them). I have the house to myself for a week. Just me, completely alone and that got me thinking about my progress in Islam.

      There is a masjid here in town. A Sunni masjid but a masjid nonetheless. I have gone there before when I was first investigating Islam, but not since I have decided to follow the Shia. I wanted to attend Jummah today, but the masjid is still closed because of COVID19. Unfortunately, even if the masjid was open, I can only think that I would be castigated by nitpicking brothers for how I pray, the way I perform the wudhu, and have to get into debates that I am not prepared for (and don't want to get into) as to why I "pray the wrong way" and how I am a heathen, so on and so forth. There is no Shia Islamic Center anywhere remotely close to my hometown. The closest one is 120 miles to the north of me and that's simply too far to drive for a Jummah service every week with the price of gas being what it is and me not even working at the time being (as well as not being able to leave the county without permission, but we won't get into that).

      It makes me lonely as a revert. A revert who is the only Muslim in his family, let alone his household. I read through the Quran, sure but a lot of brothers and sisters have and many of them many more times that I already have. I have no background with the Hadith and don't know how to determine which are reliable, which I am allowed to use, and how to read them. I have no older brothers who can mentor me in Islam, as I feel like I am the only Shia in the area even if that is not true. What I liked about being a Christian, despite the glaring theological problems with Christianity, was the community and fellowship that was available to me at any of the hundreds of churches in the area. There were older Christians who could mentor me in the faith, Bible studies that were run that I could attend, service work in the community I could participate in... the communal aspect of religion is very important; but sadly I do not have any of those luxuries right now whether it's because of the town I live in or whether it's because I'm in the minority of an already minority religion in America. On one hand, I find myself wishing that Islam in America was like Christianity while on the other hand, for reasons I'll not get into here that I've already outlined in numerous threads, I thank Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that it is different entirely. Shia Islam, despite being the minority of a minority in America, has yet to become infected and corrupted the way that Christianity has and inshallah, it never will. Inshallah, Islam in America will truly grow in to the "fastest growing religion" and will bring about a revival of traditional values and morality that this country desperately needs.

      But before that day comes, what is there that can be done?

      The answer: cling closely to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), the example of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the Glorious Quran. Read it every day without ceasing, when you finish the final surah-- go back to the beginning and start over again. Make your five daily prayers wherein you spend time with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and for those five wonderful times throughout the day, spend time before Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Recite the Tasbih. Renew your Wudhu always. Read Islamic literature and watch Khutbas, and offer dua that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) might bring you some upright brothers to fellowship and pray along with, who encourage you as you encourage them. Perfect your prayers (which can be quite the challenge for Westerners with no background in Islam or Arabic). Enjoin good and forbid evil. Do the little things for family and friends to let Allah's (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) light shine through you and make this world a better place.

      Being alone in your deen can be rough, it can certainly test your resolve to stay on the right path. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) never tests you beyond what he knows that you can handle and like steel in a furnace, these tests are to refine you into something more beautiful. Alhamdulillah.
    • By Ali bin Hussein in Zaidia the middle path.
      Allama Abdur-Rahman ash-Shaayim (رضي الله عنه). The questioner asked how is it possible to attain the consensus of Ahl al-Bayt when the descendants of Ahl al-Bayt are scattered throughout the world and adhere to various madhaahib. The sheikh answered the question with the following:
      The answer—and upon Allah we rely—lies in returning from the branches to the roots and to look at the issue, not from the end or the middle, but from the first. So, the religion and statement after Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, is that which Ali b. Abi Talib, upon him be peace, followed as well as that which al-Hasan al-Mujtaba and Ali unanimously agreed upon. It is also the consensus of the Fatimi descendants and then the consensus of the martyr, al-Hussein, with Ali and al-Hasan along with the consensus of the Fatimi descendants. And then the consensus of Zayn al-Abidīn Ali b. al-Hussein with his fathers is the consensus of the descendants of Fatima. The unanimous consent of al-Hasan b. al-Hasan with his cousin, Zayn al-Abidīn, and the rest of their fathers is the consensus of the Fatimi descendants. And the consensus of al-Hussein b. Ali al-Fakhi and his cousin, Musa al-Kazim; Muhammad and his two sons, Jāfar Sadiq and Yahya; Idris and Suleiman, the two sons of Abdullah, the Pure; Ibrahim b. Ismā`īl at-Tabataba`i, and the rest of the people of their class as well as that which they unanimously agree upon with their brothers, cousins and fathers is the consensus of the descendants of Fatima. And the consensus of Ali b. Musa ar-Riža, Muhammad b. Ibrahim at-Tabataba`i, al-Qāsim b. Ibrāhīm ar-Rassi, Ahmed b. Isa b. Zayd b. Ali, Hassan b. Yahya b. Hussein b. Zayd b. Ali, Abdullah b. Musa b. Abdullah the Pure and the rest of the people of the class of the descendants of Fatima. It has been authentically attributed to al-Qāsim b. Ibrāhīm that he said: “I have met the elders of the Prophet’s progeny among the descendants of al-Hasan and al-Hussein and there were no disagreements that occurred between them.”

      Al-Qāsim, upon him be peace, was a contemporary of the following elders and nobles from the Ahl al-Bayt: Yahya b. Abdullah the Pure; Idris b. Abdullah the Pure; Musa b. Abdullah the Pure; Al-Kazim Musa b. Ja’far; his [al-Qāsim’s] father, Ibrāhīm at-Tabataba`i; his brother, Muhammad b. Ibrāhīm at-Tabataba`i; Muhammad b. Ja’far as-Sādiq; Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Zayd b. Ali; Sayyida Nafīsa bt. Al-Hasan b. Zayd; Ali b. Ja’far as-Sādiq and Idris b. Idris b. Abdullah the Pure. Yes! These sheikhs among the sheikhs of Muhammad’s family unanimously agreed with their fathers, agreed on one position in the fundamentals of religion and the primary issues of jurisprudence, and they differed in their jurisprudence among themselves in other minor issues of jurisprudence. That which was unanimously agreed upon by these Fatimi nobles in the fundamentals and branches is the infallible source which is binding according to the Book that is to not be differed from. In that upon which they disagreed in independent judgement, one can follow whichever opinion that is sufficient after caution and consideration.
    • By starlight in Light Beams
      I will start by giving a very simplified functional subdivision of the human Central Nervous System. Based on function, human brain can be divided into three areas
      1.     Brain stem: Brain stem is an upward continuation of spine. It is concerned with functions like controlling heart rate, regulation of blood pressure, breathing and some digestive functions to name just a few. Some of these are vital functions so an injury to brainstem could mean immediate death. That is why special care is taken to stabilize the neck in road traffic accidents.
      2.     Limbic System: This is a group of structures in our brain which together are involved in controlling behavior and emotions- Anger, pleasure, fear and punishment, reward, rage, curiosity, hunger, satiety, sexual drive, motivation and passivity, all of these come from the limbic system.
      3.     Cerebral Cortex: This is what we call the higher brain in laymen terms. It performs the ‘executive functions’. The prefrontal cortex(PFC) occupies the anterior portion of the frontal lobes and is thought to be one of the most complex anatomical and functional structures of the mammalian brain.
      All living creatures have some system for maintain vital body functions like breathing in place of brainstem. All vertebrates possess a limbic system so dogs, cats and other animals are able to feel and express emotions. Amongst vertebrates the only classes to possess the characteristic cerebral cortex are mammals (and some reptiles, lolz, so the conspiracy theories about the world being controlled by an elite group of reptiles could turn out to be true) Amongst the mammals Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) bestowed the humans with the most highly developed cerebral cortex of all its creations on earth. When I say highly developed I don’t mean size or surface area relative to body, I mean functionally development and intellectual capabilities. Humans are probably intellectually highest of all the earthly species created by Allah.  It is because of this highly developed cortex that humans sit at the top of the hierarchy and have been called ‘Vicegerents of Allah’ on earth. Of course, not any two footed being in human form can be the vicegerent of Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). He also has to manifest divine attributes in both his private and social life.
      So our cerebral cortex is capable of ‘higher mental functions’ like thinking, abstraction, planning, decision making and controlling the limbic system! This last function is probably its most important function.
      The brainstem functions are not under our conscious control. Obviously we cannot tell our bodies increase or decrease the heart rate or blood pressure.
      Higher mental functions are almost always voluntary.
      The limbic system sits on the the borderline between brain stem and cerebral cortex both structurally and functionally (the word limbic means borderline in latin) What does this mean? This means that we can choose to exercise control over our behavior and emotions using the executive powers of cerebral cortex or we can let the limbic system run loose and let it do whatever it wants in which case a human would be expressing a range of unbridled emotions anger, curiosity, sexual drive etc
      Let’s look at some differences in capabilities of humans vs animals which are manifested by virtue of an intellectual cortex and are important from a religious perspective.
       Animals are incapable of differentiating between haram and halal. That’s why Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn’t make it obligatory on them to respect these boundaries.  It is the cerebral cortex and its associated areas which give the humans the capability learn this and differentiate between the two in various life situations. But if the humans choose not to utilize the cerebral cortex for this purpose and let their limbic system(emotions) take over, they lose the differentiation and in those instances they are acting like animals. This can easily be observed in the most primal of behaviours like consuming food and copulating and also in advanced actions like earning rizq through unlawful means. Animals cannot be taught moral and ethics. If your pet dog steals a piece of meat you can arouse feelings of fear and punishment in it but you cannot teach him why stealing is wrong. This is again due to the absence of the cerebral cortex that humans possess and probably this is the reason why animals won’t get punished for misconducts in the akhirah like humans.  Animals cannot differentiate between tahara and nijasat. Again this is something which is a function of cerebral cortex. Physical purity is something which is very crucial in Islamic faith. The principles of mahram/namehram can only be comprehended by humans. Looking at the above we can see how intellect elevates humans from the level of animals to vicegerents of Allah. Maybe this is why most of things that are counted as sins in islam are in principle limbic system(emotions) overriding the cortex(intellect)
      Anger- limbic system taking charge, Zina and haram lust – limbic system taking over humans, Consuming haram food and even stuffing yourself with halal food- limbic system satiety centre gone out of control, Curiosity-  Even though the mechanism behind curiosity isn’t very well understood because it is difficult to differentiate curiosity from information seeking but what research has discovered so far is that a part of the limbic cortex is involved in both regulation and reward that is associated with curiosity(1). In Surah Hujraat (49:12) Allah forbids us from spying and ‘Tajassus’ but if limbic system is not controlled the person could be snooping around other people’s affairs, just like an animal would sniff and examine any object in vicinity. Gambling – During gambling intellectual areas of the brain like prefrontal cortex show less activity than limbic areas depicting a link between gambling and limbic system(2) What’s interesting is that in an animal study conducted on gambling ,some species of animal demonstrated the same choices and psychological behavior as pathological gamblers. So, when Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) made gambling haram it was probably to not let humans reduce themselves to animals. Drinking –Alcohol impairs functioning on the prefrontal cortex, disrupts normal pattern of neuronal activity required for decision making and thinking and hence leads to limbic system taking over. This is manifested a as lack of inhibition in people commonly observed in people who has ingested alcohol.(3) If we look at Jihad bil nafs in medical terms it’s just a battle between limbic system and cerebral cortex.
      Looking at the lives of Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) we won’t find any instance where we see limbic system ruling over them. There is a famous incident where in the battle of Khandaq, where Imam Ali(عليه السلام) was on Amr bin abde Wud’s chest and about to kill him but then he abused Imam Ali(عليه السلام). At this Imam Ali (عليه السلام) moved from Amr’s chest and walked away. After the battle was over people asked Imam Ali(عليه السلام) the reason why he had spared Amr’s life when he had overpowered him. At this he replied,” When I had floored him, he abused me, as a result of which I was overcome by rage. I feared that if I were to kill him in that state of anger, it would be for pacifying my anger. So I stepped away from him till my fury subsided.Then I returned to sever his head from his body only for the happiness of Allah and in obedience to Him.” (Manaqib Al Abi Talib by Ibn Shahrashub)
      In Sahifa e Sajjadiya, Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) has described three types of worshippers
              i.  Those who worship Allah because of fear of hell
             ii. Those who worship Allah to get to Jannah
            iii. Those who worship Allah because they find Allah worthy of worship.
      He(عليه السلام) says the third is the highest form of worship. Why? Because the first two are worship of punishment and reward (limbic system worships) while the third is the worship of intellect (Prefrontal cortex). 
      So if we learn to control our limbic systems through reflection and worship gradually, we gain power over our nafs and then no amount of worldly temptation and desires can then take us away from out true purpose, that is submission to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).
      (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/
      (2) https://neuroanthropology.net/2009/05/23/gambling-and-compulsion-play-at-your-own-risk/#:~:text=For gamblers%2C the gambling references,high” from an emotional response.
    • By Zainuu in Deen In Practice
      "And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him...."
      Each and every creation (makhlooq) in this universe has a natural innate attachment with the creator. Every being that is created, itself carries a signature of the creator in every form and shape and also submits to the reality of existence of its creator. This is not something for which a creature needs something from outside his being. His existence itself contains those elements that lead his way towards his creator. If we try to specify those elements within a human being, our first attention goes towards the conscience (fitrah) of a human being. This conscience is captured in our soul and is completely intrinsic to our being. The spirit is the being which is the home of conscience while body is just the outer representation of our being.
      Our conscience is the one which tells us the right and wrong and all such moral principles. Hence, it needs to have an orientation or inclination. Orientation will set a direction for a being and finally a direction will have no end without an inspiration. So, basically, every spirit has a conscience which sets the moral principles and in order to do that, we ultimately and naturally need an ultimate inspiration. The entity that might act as an inspiration can have a scope. But there needs to be one entity, neither more nor less, which needs to be above every entity. To explain this mess, I would like to take an example of a student pursuing a career:
      Let's suppose that a person has an orientation of caring and healing others. A sudden thought comes to his/her mind that he/she should become a doctor. Also, he/she defines certain objectives to achieve his/her career. This is the direction that was taken according to the orientation. According to the scope of final objective, inspiration or motivation is also recognized. And finally, he/she goes to the school and college and studies to become a doctor which is the path to reach the inspiration.
      If we carefully notice this example, everything is clear-as-sky that the career path selected is due to the orientation which acts as a cause and it is pointing towards a direction to become something which is guided by the inspiration. And the inspiration here can be multiple but one, the ultimate is definitely needed. So, that states our point of view that the idea of God is an idea of ultimate inspiration which is undeniable if we have a conscience that is willing to set it's moral principles. Now, because taking care of morality is intrinsic to our conscience, the idea of god is also intrinsic and an innate reality which cannot be denied by our conscience.
      This argument stated above begs a question. What about the conscience of a person who denies the existence of God? The simple answer is that it is impossible. Because it is not our words that testify to the idea of God but it is our conscience and our conscience doesn't work exactly according to us. Every being has an ultimate inspiration within his self. If someone denies that ultimate inspiration, his self will start recognizing something else as an inspiration and if he still denies this new inspiration then his self will cling to something else and so on. So, denying the idea of God means ultimately denying the idea of existence or submitting to something at some point by stopping the loop of denial. My physics teacher in school once said that most of the scientists our athiests and they don't believe in god. But he was forced to conclude his statement by saying that there god is nature. So, one can say that 'his idea of god is different than others' but cannot deny the idea itself. So, we conclude that atheism by definition has no value and it is fundamentally impossible to deny the existence of God. And the Holy Quran states in this context:
      "The seven heavens declare His glory and the earth (too), and those who are in them; and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise, but you do not understand their glorification; surely He is Forbearing, Forgiving." Al Isra (17:44)
      The above verse shows how the idea of God is within every creation. And another verse which states that how our conscience says opposite to what a proponent of athiesm might say:
      "Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day." Al Isra (17:14)
      Our self definitely contains this fundamental idea of god and that is the reason it will be a proof against us finally. Also, Imam Ali (عليه السلام) states, "The one who recognized his self, recognized his lord" implying that ultimately our self consists all those fundamentals we need to understand the idea of God in its entirety. So, now let us go further to address what is left with us.
      We see that ultimately we now have to see what can be the possible reality of God. And we shall only use the most basic rational ways to reach the results inshallah. We can easily think of some possiblilities. Either God is one or more than one. Within these two broad categories of reality of God lies a long list of classifications. We are not going to mention them as it is not at all necessary to ponder on each and every speculation regarding these categories. Definition of more than one gods is followed in the polytheistic systems. This is a possibility but let us match this idea with what our self testifies. It doesn't matter for us over here whether Gods are two, three or more than that but the fact of the matter is that does our pure and perfect self which is the essence of our being accept it? Our self contains the innate idea of God which must be an ultimate inspiration. Can we have more than one ultimate inspiration? If we have many inspirations within our idea of God, those inspirations should either be absolutely equal or they should differ from each other. If they are equal then why are they having multiple forms? There multiple forms is a proof of the fact that they are different. Even if there forms are identical in a way that they are exactly a replica of each other then they cannot be absolute or independent. Because a replica needs to have an original version which means it depends on it's original form and that implies that it is not absolute but rather relative to the existence of the original version. Another proof is there similarlity which itself testifies that they are not unique.
      So, absoluteness with exact equality is impossible and hence we are left with another option that they are different. Now, being different is itself a proof that one inspiration is better than another and one is best of all of them. So, again the multiplicity of the inspiration will finally melt down into a single inspiration which is best of all of them. We see this in the polythiestic faiths where one god is better than other and one of them is best of all. Because establishing such an idea is possible but it will not sustain. It will finally break into a hierarchy. This defeats the argument of multiple gods. As the gods which are different, comparative and have a hierarchy can be an inspiration but not ultimate inspiration. Our soul is traversing on a path which should end up on the absolute, the ultimate inspiration and objective rather than a passer-by-checkpoint or a short term goal. A doctor will never settle alone with a medical science degree. He/she will explore more unless and until he reaches a point where he doesn't need to strive further.
      The Holy Quran challenges the idea of multiple gods or even a lower form of god by stating:
      Do not associate with Allah any other god, lest you sit down despised, neglected. Al Isra (17:22)
      This verse is not neglecting the possibility of a human being to accept multiple gods but rather it is clarifying that one would not achieve and would be finally neglected and despised if they do so. Because, naturally it means lowering the bar of the objective and inspiration which will be problematic for none but the self of the person as his soul will loose the ability to explore, think and ascend further. Finally, submitting to something less than the ultimate inspiration actually means submitting to someone who carries it's own inspiration. As Quran says:
      "Those whom they call upon, themselves seek the means of access to their Lord-- whoever of them is nearest-- and they hope for His mercy and fear His chastisement; surely the chastisement of your Lord is a thing to be cautious of." Al Isra (17:57)
      So, we notice how beautifully these verses state which is extremely fundamental to our souls. How these verses convert the fundamentals of every being into words and negate the reality of polythiestic ideologies. The verses of Quran are definitely speaking the voice of our self here which we don't listen. Concluding the above argument, we stand clear that atheism is impossible and an athiest has a god which he submits but is unaware of his own submission. And polytheism which might be a possible inclination will vanish if we deeply ponder upon the fundamentals of our self. We will understand if we ponder carefully that all the entities that we accidently thought of as gods were short of being an ultimate inspiration.
      Now, if we enter into the realm of monotheism, we again need to deal with several questions. Now, the focus of discussion has shifted from 'what is the suitable idea of god?' to 'how should we define a single inspiration/God?' There can be a few possibilities. But those possibilties are not what we are looking to identify but rather what our soul will find to be the best. We need to understand that we are not forcing our conscience to accept something which is not asked for and is inferior. The concept of a single inspiration is proven but that inspiration should fit into the exact criteria of what our conscience fundamentally wants. It was stated in the above discussion that there must be atleast one ultimate inspiration above all that should suffice the requirement of our final destiny or objective on this journey of our soul. Further, we also stated while having an argument on polytheism that inspiration can be comparative and different but such inspiration cannot be considered ultimate inspiration. It might be the best among all but if it is comparable then it is not unique. Our ultimate inspiration should be one, unique, independent and above everything while being the origin of everything. Can an entity within the realm of creation fulfill such a criteria? Can we call a creation, an origin of other creation? Even if this creation is not known to us or it is something really amazing and out of the box? The problem over here is that, whatever it might be, it is still a creation and hence it doesn't fulfills the criteria of being above all. Because, it lies withing the realm of creation and is remotely comparable to something even if the comparison is not that close. A star we see in the sky might be a million light years apart but the distance is still finite and it can be compared to other stars because it is has all the features of a star. So, this short example shows that our conscience will never settle with an ultimate inspiration which is not unique in all aspects and has nothing remotely similar. One might say, what about this universe as a single entity? Well, this universe is a system which is dependent upon several physical forces and natural phenomenas and if we contemplate the origin of these forces we are left with a question mark. It doesn't suffice the criteria of the self that the inspiration should be independent. So, whatsoever we might imagine and regardless of how much we move ahead, our self searches for more.
      We our left with nothing but to take an option of this ultimate inspiration which is away from all bounds. This process of reasoning to reach the final conclusion is quite clear in the Holy Book (Qur'an) where Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) says:
      So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones.
      Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people.
      Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah).
      Al Anaam (6:76-78)
      As Imam Ali (عليه السلام) states the definition of that one god, the ultimate inspiration below:
      Praise is due to Allah whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of understanding cannot reach; He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion, and made firm the shaking earth with rocks......
      He is a Being, but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence.
      (excerpts of Nahj ul Balagha sermon 1)
      As Amir al Mumineen (عليه السلام) defines, this is the ultimate destiny and inspiration our self is looking for and this is the only inspiration which can set pure moral standards for our conscience. Hence, this is the best and most beautiful definition of monotheism as it is testified by the soul and it is fundamental and intrinsic within ourselves.
      Concluding this entire discussion now, we reach a conclusion which is solely given to us by our pure soul and our conscience. Similar to this, as described in the above verses, every particle in this entire universe is in complete servitude to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) (the ultimate inspiration). Hence, while setting up moral principles, they should be derived from this inspiration and nothing else. Such should be the fundamental of the religion of our conscience. Therefore, monotheism in theory and in action is our fundamental principle whether we accept it or deny it. As the verse below says:
      "Whoever goes aright, for his own soul does he go aright; and whoever goes astray, to its detriment only does he go astray...." Al Isra (17:15)
      At last, the acting upon this principle just means pure servitude. We end on where we started. Serving the commandment of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the only way to act upon the principle of monotheism and for this Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given commandments in his book of principles i.e Quran. Along with this he has brought the guiding inspirations which are not the ultimate inspirations but just the checkpoints on the path. Not the destiny but the bridge that connects to destiny. These are the prophets and Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام). This is just a brief Islamic point of view to elaborate the principle of monotheism and not necessarily the scope of our discussion for now. In this way we conclude our discussion by claiming from the purity of our soul that:
      "Verily, we belong to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and verily to him do we return."
      [Al Baqarah (2:156)]
    • By Muntazir e Mahdi in Bayaan e Muntazir
      کتنی بار تو انسانیت کو مارے گا بتا؟
      کب تک تو کائینات کو رلائے گا بتا؟

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

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

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

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

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

      آؤ ذرا لہر و ہوا دیکھنے چلیں
      ساحل سے ذرا کچھ لینے چلیں
      جیب میں اشیاء نہ کہیں ملیں
      بس آس کا علم ساتھ لے کے چلیں
      آؤ اس راہ پر قدم تو رکھیں
      باب الحوئج سے ذرا ملنے چلیں
      ہاتھوں سے تڑپتی آنکھوں کو ملیں
      کچھ اشک ذرا کوثر تک چھوڑنے چلیں
      دل کھول کر اس کریم کو مخاتب کریں
      واسطہِ عظیم پھر دیتے چلیں
      بےبازو سے ہاتھ جوڑ کے کہیں
      اس چھپے کو سامنے رکھ کے چلیں
      سانسِ سکون لے کر اب آگے بڑھیں
      آؤ منتظر اب سفر طے کر کے چلیں
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