Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

History of the Turban

Sign in to follow this  


Origin of the Turban
The first person who wore a turban was Prophet Adam (عليه السلام) after he was expelled from Paradise [1]. A tradition states that the angel Gabriel descended from heaven and dressed him in an amaama (turban). This became a substitute for the crown that he had reportedly worn in Paradise [2]. In the hadith literature, the turban is also projected as a headgear of the angels. Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (عليه السلام) narrates that the Holy Prophet (s) once bound a turban on his head, allowing the ends to hang down in front and behind and said, "The crowns of the angels are thus. [3]" When the Prophet ascended to heaven he saw that the majority of the angels were wearing turbans [4]. The angels sent to assist the Muslims at the Battle of Badr are also recorded to have worn turbans, some yellow and others white [5].

Sheikh Kulayni, in Al Kafi, narrates several traditions which state that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) had sent four angels to destroy the community of Prophet Lut (عليه السلام). When they passed by Prophet Abraham (عليه السلام) he did not recognize them as they wore turbans. It was only when Gabriel removed his turban that Prophet Abraham (عليه السلام) recognized him [6]. Sheikh Kulayni cites another hadith stating that besides the angels, jinns also wore turbans [7]. Other reports indicate that even Satan wore a turban when he came down from heaven [13]. Reports such as these depict the turban as an angelic dress and enhance its importance.

Merits of wearing a Turban
There are many traditions reported from the Holy Prophet (s) regarding the merits of wearing a turban. He (s) is reported to have said that the "turban is the crown of Arabs [14]. Imam Musa al-Kazim (عليه السلام), reportedly stated that the Holy Prophet (s) called the turban "the authority of Allah" [15]. Other traditions state that it is Allah's dominion (sultan) [16]. Due to the proliferation of hadith about the turbans, the Holy Prophet (s) was known as "sahib ul-amaama" (the wearer of the turban).

Both Shia and Sunni texts cite various hadith regarding the significance of wearing a turban at all times. According to a hadith, wearing a turban brings a person closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) since it is a sign of angels [20]. The only time it is forbidden is when a person is in a state of ihram during the pilgrimage. Even in that state, Ima Ja'far al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) states that the pilgrim can tie the amaama around his stomach [21]. Traditions such as these underscore the importance of the turban; they also amplify the status of those who wear it and differentiate them from non-believers.

Besides the traditions enunciating the merits of wearing a turban, the headgear symbolized, among other things, authority, power, dignity, and respect. When the Arabs wanted to treat someone with respect they adorned him with a turban; preferably with their own turban. In contrast, the removal of a man's turban in public by an authoritative figure was a form of public humiliation and punishment. The turban was so important that people sometimes swore oaths on their turbans [26].

Burial with a Turban
The practice of being buried with a turban can be traced to the times of the Imams (عليه السلام) even though the traditions clearly enunciate that the amaama is not a part of the shroud (kafan) hence it is not obligatory to bury a person with it [94]. Before his death, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (عليه السلام) made his last testimony to his son Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (عليه السلام). He (عليه السلام) asked him to shroud him in the cloak in which he used to perform the Friday prayer, to put on him his turban, make his grave square, and raise it to the height of four fingers above the ground [95]. In another tradition, Imam Baqir (عليه السلام) commands Imam al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) to bury him with his own turban which he used during his life [96]. The eleventh Imam, al-Hasan al-Askari (عليه السلام) buried his father in the following manner: "I shrouded my father with two pieces of winter clothes that he had used as the clothes for Ihram […]. Also one of his shirts and the amaama that belonged to 'Ali b. al-Husayn and a gown that he had bought for forty dinars were used" [97]. However, a turban can only be buried with the corpse if a person had willed it before his death.

Color of the Turban
The Holy Prophet (s) and his companions wore different colors of turbans ranging from white, blue, black to even red [54]. He would sometimes wear a white-colored turban for which he was referred to as Sahab (cloud) [55]. The Holy Prophet (s) wore a yellow turban on the day of Badr [56]. A tradition states that he would sometimes dye his clothes, including the turban, in yellow [57]. The Imams also wore different colored turbans. For example, Imam Zayn al-'Abidin often wore a white turban. Other reports indicate that he would also wear a black turban [58]. When Asbagh b. Nubata went to see Imam Ali (عليه السلام) on his death bed, Imam Ali (عليه السلام) was wearing a yellow turban [59]. Al-Mufid notes that on the day of his coronation to succeed al-Ma'mun (d. 833), the eighth Imam al-Reza (عليه السلام) wore a white turban [60]. During his time, the 'Alids would wear green as that was their preferred color [61]. Al-Ma'mun changed the official color of the 'Abbasids to green after he appointed Imal al-Reza (عليه السلام) as his heir. After the death of Imam al-Reza (عليه السلام), al-Ma'mun changed it back to black [62]. 

Although the color of the turban is not stated, al-Majlisi states that when Imam Mahdi (ajtf), reappears he will wear the turban of the Prophet [63]. Significantly, although the traditions mention the different colored turbans the Imams used to wear, they do not state what color of turbans their followers should wear. Neither do they tell us what color they should not wear. Stated differently, the color of the turban is left to the followers of the Imams to decide. When did the Shia 'Alids start wearing black turbans to the exclusion of other colors?

Given that black was the official color of the Abbasids, where and when did the Shia practice of wearing black turbans by the descendants of the Prophet start from? Without quoting his source, Ibn Anbah claims that Syed Razi (d. 1016) was the first 'Alid to wear black. It was only after him, it is said, that black turbans became a prominent feature among sayyeds (those that claim to be the desendents of the Holy Prophet) and those from the tribe of Bani Hashim [64]. 

"White is the best color to wear; the next best color is yellow and then comes green. After that are pale red, purple, and brown. Dark red is considered an abominable (makruh) due, especially during prayer. One must avoid wearing it [dark red], and wearing black is loathsome for everything except for the turban, aba (inner robe), and high boots. However, if the turban and aba are not black, it is better [65]. Significantly, in the chapter dedicated to the wearing of turbans, one would have expected Majlisi to discuss the various colors of the turban that should be worn. The fact that he does not mention anything suggests that in his period, the color of the turban was not significant. 

Safavids and the rise of the Black Turban
The significance attached to the black turban probably increased during the Safavid period when turbans became important to identify a person's socio-political affiliations. Given the Holy Prophet's (s) penchant to the color black, descendants of the Prophet gradually came to favor wearing black turbans. It is within this context that we can discern why the sayyeds became especially fond of black.

When the Safavids came to power in Iran in 1501 they adopted Shiasm as the state religion. They resorted to different ways to promote their new faith. They popularized Shiasm by encouraging the public cursing of the first three caliphs, enacting public mourning ceremonies to mark the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) and by pronouncing the name of 'Ali in the adhan (call to prayer) [70]. The political ideology of the Safavids was demonstrated in the headgear of its rulers. They used the turban to enunciate their dissociation from the Sunni Ottomans and to proclaim their religious affiliation.

Apart from political affiliation, the color of the turban was used to demarcate different religious groups and social rankings. In Safavid culture, white was the dominant color of the turbans. It is within this context that we may be able to surmise the exclusive use of black turbans by sayyeds [75]. As mentioned earlier, since the time of the Holy Prophet (s), black symbolized power and authority. Amidst the plethora of different colored and types of turbans, in order to enhance their unique status and authority in society, the sayyeds adopted the black turban as their official emblem. Although it is not possible to know exactly when the black turban became an exclusively sayyed insignia, the importance given to sayyeds, especially in the Safavid era, suggests that it probably started in this period. To understand why the sayyeds chose a specific color that differentiated them from the masses, it is important to comprehend the importance given to the descendants of the Prophet in Muslim societies.

Sayyeds and religious authority in Shia Islam
The social and financial advantages that accrue from being recognized a sayyed can be corroborated from the fact that throughout history there have been many false claimants to Prophetic descent. In fact people devised ingenious ways to fabricate their genealogy. People falsely claimed descent from extinct Prophetic lines in places such as Egypt, Rayy, Hamadan, Khurasan and Kufa [87]. The fact that special punishments had to be invented to expose false claimants (including having their heads shaven and/or being exiled) further demonstrates the extent of fabricated genealogies [88]. Due to the forgeries, an official system of monitoring of genealogies had to be established in many cities [89]. Various groups, agnate descendants claimed to be sayyeds. The descendants of Imam Ali's (عليه السلام) father Abu Talib through his other sons Ja'far and Aqil claimed to be sayyeds through Hashimi descent. Some have claimed that even Zaynabis, the descendants of Zaynab (sa), daughter of Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and Bibi Fatima (sa), should also be considered as sayyeds [90]. 

In the Shia religion khums is payable on savings, not just on war booty. This means that the share payable to sayyeds was enormous, fifty percent of the khums payable, a sum that not only encouraged people to proclaim their lineage but also enticed some to fabricate their genealogy. Sayyeds are also believed to have inherited the baraka (blessings) of the Prophet. These sacred personages may transmit baraka to the masses, either during their lifetime or after their deaths. Due to the principle of Prophetic lineage, it is also believed that children of holy men become contemporary recipients of the baraka that is transmitted by the saint. The emphasis on honoring the descendants of the Prophet precipitated the cult of the shrines of sayyeds, or imamzadeh as they came to be called. Especially in Safavid Iran, the tombs of many sayyeds became a focus of pilgrimage, a phenomenon widely prevalent in many parts of the Shia world today. It should be remembered that when they came to power, the Safavids claimed Prophetic genealogy. They reportedly forged descent from Imam Musa al-Kazim [91]. This empowered the kings to invoke their noble ancestors in the legitimization of their rule. As Arjomand says, "The rulers possessed great charisma of lineage as descendants of the Imams, and even claimed an attribute of the Imams: infallibility or sinlessness [92]. The devotional attachment to the Imams and their descendants helped the Safavids enhance their own stature as the progeny of these noble figures. The claim to 'Alid descent also helped them win wider acceptance among the masses.

Since the Safavids claimed prophetic descent, the sayyeds enjoyed great respect and prestige under their rule. In all probability, the social prestige combined with the financial benefits that accrued to sayyeds led to their public proclamation as the descendants of the Prophet. As previously mentioned, white was the dominant color of the majority of turbans in that period. The sayyeds had to differentiate themselves from the laity by deploying a color that was not in common usage, and, as descendants of the Prophet, a color that could be closely linked to him. In the Islamic world, sayyeds generally wore green turbans. For example, when Mustafa Celebi wore a green turban in Turkey in 1632, people raised questions whether he was a real sayyed. He claimed sayyed descent from his mother's side. The right to wear a green turban was accorded only to those whose father was a sayyed [93].

The Safavids sought a distinctive stratification of the Shia community into believers and sayyeds. It was through Prophetic descent that they sought to legitimize their privileges and superior status. The best way that a person could publicly proclaim himself to be a sayyed and differentiate himself from a non-sayyed was either by adopting the title sayyed or by donning a black turban. Undoubtedly, the turban was the more powerful tool since it conveyed one's nobility without having to verbalize it. It should be remembered that during the Safavid period, the wearing of turbans was not restricted to scholars. On the contrary, the masses wore turbans since these were popular costumes. Thus, the black turban became an important tool of identifying and signifying a sayyed, bestowing him, thereby, the respect, honor, and financial rewards that was due to him. Although a national costume, the westernization policies of Reza Shah in the 1930s forced most Iranians to abandon their traditional headgear in favor of western clothing. Only scholars were exempt from this proscription. With time, the turban became what it is today: a headgear worn primarily by scholars to distinguish them from the rest of society. Within the scholarly elite, color was used to mark Prophetic genealogy. The turban was used not only to differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims but also between Muslims themselves. The reason for this genealogical distinction was both social status and financial benefits.

It is not possible to know exactly when the sayyeds chose to wear black turbans. Majlisi, who died in 1699, does not cite any special merit for wearing a black turban; in fact, he discourages it. It is possible that sayyeds started wearing black turbans after his time or during the Qajar period. Why did the sayyeds choose to wear black turbans? It has to be remembered that when the Safavids came to power, they encouraged the public expression and enactment of various forms mourning rituals for the family of the Prophet in general and for Husayn in particular. These rituals ranged from passion plays to flagellations and self-immolation. It is possible that the sayyeds decided around this time to wear black as it was the color of mourning. They wished to proclaim that they were the descendants of the family that was being publicly mourned and venerated. Another possible reason why the sayyeds switched to black turbans was because, as previously discussed, the Holy Prophet (s) himself had worn a black turban on various important occasions. Gabriel had donned him with a black turban; the Holy Prophet (s) also wore black when he was delivering sermons and when he conquered Mecca. He had put a black turban on'Ali before sending him to fight. Another possible reason for switching from green to black was because of sectarianism. With the increased sectarian tensions with the Ottoman Sunnis and the public cursing of the first three caliphs under the Safavids, it is possible that the Shia sayyeds wanted to differentiate themselves from Sunni sayyeds who wore green turbans.

The form (style) of a Turban and how to wear it
The turban, its color, form and size impacted one's social and financial standing. The method of wearing the turban is also important. The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have left the "tail" ('adhaba) of his turban hanging between his shoulder blades. This practice was imitated by the companions, and became a part of the Prophetic sunna [98]. According to the Holy Prophet's (s) companion Abd al-Rahman b. Awf (d. 653): "The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) put a turban on me and let the ends hang in front of him and behind me [99]. The letting down of the 'adhaba was included in the Prophetic injunction on wearing the amaama.

Besides letting the fringe down, some traditions also required the tying of the turban under the chin. Sunni scholars are divided on this practice. Jurists like Malik b. Anas favored this mode of dressing but the Shafi'is did not consider the fastening of the amaama under the chin as sunna [100]. This practice was also used as a mark of differentiation from non-Muslims who wore turbans. Hence, it was not only wearing the turban that was important, the method of wearing it was also significant. According to some traditions, the Holy Prophet (s) said: "Disagree with the Jews and do not wear turbans that are not fastened under the chin, or with their fringes not let down, as this method of wearing the turban is the fashion of the Jews [101].

Importance of Tahannuk
Within the Shia school, both the 'adhaba and the fastening the under the chin (called the tahannuk) were important in identifying true believers. Sheikh Kulayni narrates in Al Kafi, that <strong>al-Tabiqiyah (a layered turban without tahannak is the turban of Iblees</strong> [102]. Al-Saduq cites a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s) stating that the difference between a Muslim and a polytheist is the hanging down (talahi) of the amaama [103]. This was a Prophetic practise that was replicated by the Imams. When the eighth Imam Ali al-Reza went out in public for his coronation, he hung one part of the turban on his breast and the other between his shoulders [104]. <strong>The Imams also urged their followers to observe the custom of fastening the turban under their chin since this was also considered a mark of a true believer.</strong> The Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have stated: "The distinction between the Muslims and the unbelievers is the fastening of the turbans under their chin [105]. The Shia emphasized the tahannuk even more than the Sunnis did. So important was this practice that disregarding it could lead to incurable ailments. A tradition from al-Sadiq states: "He who wore the amaama and did not fasten it under his chin, let him not blame anyone except himself if he is inflicted with a disease for which there is no remedy [106]. In another tradition, the same Imam is reported to have guaranteed one who travels while observing the tahannuk that he will return home safely [107]. At one point in history, within the Shia circles it was considered detestable to wear the amaama without tying it under the chin [108].

When he discusses the question of how to wear a turban, Majlisi states in Chapter 7 entitled dar bayan-e bastan-e ammameh (on how to wrap the amaama): "To wear an ammameh is a tradition and to wrap it under the chin is also a tradition. Wearing the amaama with one end thrown at the back and one end kept loose in the front is also the tradition of the sadat (I.e. sayyeds)...to wrap an ammameh while in a standing position is also a tradition. According to the Holy Prophet (s), ammameh is the crown of the Arabs. When a man stops wearing his turban Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) will stop honoring him. Imam Reza (عليه السلام) said that the Holy Prophet (s) wrapped his turban with the ends, one in the front and one at the back and Jibrail (Gabriel) did the same.109 Most Shia scholars have recommended that the tahannuk be practiced at all times. The medieval jurist Allama Hilli (d. 1325) states: The tahannuk is recommended by the words of Imam al-Sadiq, "Whoever wears the turban and does not put the tahannuk an ailment has struck him for which there is no cure. Thus, he should blame nobody but himself [110]". Hilli further states: it is abominable to pray in black clothes [...] and to abandon the tahannuk [111]". He concludes by stating, "It appears from these narrations that the tahannuk is recommended at all times, whether one is praying or not [112]". Hilli's ruling is shared by scholars like Muhammad Jamal al-din al-Makki al-Amili (also known as Shahid al-Awwal - d. 1385) who states in his Lum'a Dimishqiyya, "It is makruh to abandon the tahannuk at any time [113]". Baha' al‐Din Muhammad b. Husayn al‐'Amili (also known as Shaykh Baha'I - d. 1621) further emphasizes the point stating that "the tahannuk is recommended for anyone who wears the turban -whether he is praying or not. There is nothing in the traditions to suggest that it is recommended only during prayers [114]. Other scholars like Ja'far Kashif al-Ghita (d. 1812) go even further, quoting al-Saduq (d. 991) as saying: "I heard our teachers say that it is not permitted for one who wears a turban to pray unless if he observes the tahannuk [115]. Although Shia traditions greatly emphasize the tahannuk it is not practiced by most contemporary scholars. In explaining this, the commentator of Majlisi's Hilya al-Muttaqin states that in the past, the tahannuk was observed at all times. However, this is no longer a common practice.

Tahannuk Ignored by the Usuli Shias
Despite the numerous traditions on the merits and virtues of observing the tahannuk and the negative ramifications for ignoring it, most Shia scholars who wear turbans do not observe it. In all probability, this is because, in the past, tahannuk was performed by the Akhbaris, the dominant school in the medieval ages. Most contemporary scholars are Usulis who consider the Akhbaris as literalists and their nemesis. They have thus labeled the tahannuk as a sign of Akhbarism [116]. Whereas medieval scholars emphasized the importance of observing the tahannuk, later scholars like Fayd al-Kashani (d. 1680) claimed that the changing milieu and custom had dictated that the tahannuk be avoided in public. He states that, in his time, the tahannuk had become an abandoned sunna because it had become a mode of dressing that attracts attention (libas shuhra) and could be an object of derision, which is prohibited. Hence, he argues, it is not necessary to observe it [117]. With time, the tahannuk became symbolic of the ideological battle between the two schools within Shiasm. An act that was highly emphasized by the Imams (عليه السلام) was abandoned by the very scholars who claimed to transmit their teachings. This is further proof of how the turban and the method of wearing it has been used as a tool of differentiation not only between Muslims and non-Muslims but also within the Shia community itself.

Although a pre-Islamic costume, the turban was endorsed by Islam which subsequently became an important component of Islamic clothing.  Shia traditions on the turban are replicated in Sunni hadith literature which also sees the turban as the crown of Arabs. Within the Shia tradition, the importance of the turban was further highlighted by reports which recommended that turbans accompany the dead to their graves. Clearly, the attachment to the turban was so deep that it accompanied the wearer to the hereafter. 

Subsequently, the turban started to perform various functions in society; one of them was to differentiate Muslims from others. The turban (through its color) was also used in the Safavid era as a tool for social stratification. In order to enhance the status of the sayyeds in Safavid Shiasm, black turbans were reserved exclusively for the sayyeds. White turbans were used for non-sayyeds since this was the norm in much of Safavid society. The differentiation between black and white turbans was thus a historical construct, based on social and financial rather than religious considerations. Wearing a black turban for sayyeds became a customary rather than religious requirement. 

Also published on blog: https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/07/28/history-of-the-turban/

This article is based on the paper: Black or White: Turbanization of Islam By Liyakat Takim

[1] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community...: Some Notes on the Turban in the Muslim Tradition," in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 24 (2000): 230.
[2] Hamid Algar, Amama, http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amama-or-ammamaarabic-emama-the-turban.
[3] Mottaqi Hindi, Kanz al-'Ummal, ed. M.'Abd-al-Mu'id Khan (Hyderabad: Deccan, 1973), 10/45.
[4] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 243.
[5] Algar, "Amama." Traditions on the color of the turbans worn by the angels. 
[6] Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi fi 'Ilm al-Din (Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, Tehran, 1986), 5/546.
[7] Kulayni narrates that: "Ahmad b. Idris and Muhammad b. Yahya narrated from alHasan b. 'Ali al-Kufi from ibn al-Faddal from a group of our people from Sa'd al-Askaf who said: "Once I asked permission to meet Abu Ja'far (Muhammad alBaqir). I found saddles of camels lined up in front of the door and I heard very loud noises coming from inside. Then a people came out with turbans like those of Indian gypsies. I asked Abu Ja'far about them and said, "May Allah take my soul be in service for your cause. Today it took a long time to receive permission to meet you. I saw a people coming out with turbans whom I could not recognize." He said, "Do you know, O Sa'd, who they are?" I said, "No, I do not know." The Imam said, "They were your brethren in religion from the Jinns. They come to us for religious instructions, to learn the lawful and unlawful matters and the principles of their religion." Kulayni, Kitab al-Kafi, 1/394-5; Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar, Basa'ir al-Darajat fi Fada'il Al Muhammad (Qom: Maktabat Ayat Allah al-Mar'ashi, 1983), 1/97, hadith # 18; 1/100, hadith #10.
[13] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 227.
[14] Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, Fada'il al-Qur'an al-Karim, (Beirut: 1986), 144.
[15] Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi, Kitab al-Kafi, translated into English by Muhammad Sarwar, vol. 1-8 (n.p., the Islamic Seminary, n.d.), 453; H 827, Ch. 72, h 14.
[16] Muhammad al-Baqir Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar: al-Jami'a Lidurari Akhbar alA'imma al-Athar, 110 vols (Beirut: Dar al-Ihya al-Turath al-'Arabi, 1983), 48/310; 50/26. Kulayni, al-Kafi, 2/82.
[17] Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Al-Musnadu Al-Sahihu bi Naklil Adli known as Sahih Muslim, Converted by Bill McLean, http://www.mclean.faithweb.com. last accessed 6 August 2015, 167-168.
[18] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 242-3.
[19] On wearing a turban especially in salat, see Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 80/193. In another tradition, al-Sadiq says "one who offers the prayers on the days of the two eids must wear an amaama. See Muhammad b. al-Hasan al
[20] Muhammad Fahad Badri, Al-Imama (Baghdad: Government Publication, 1968), 10.
[21] al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, 12/533.
[22] Kulayni, al-Kafi, 3/145.
[23] Al-'Amili, Wasail, 1/455.
[24] In Shiasm, the maraji' are the sources of reference for ordinary believers on issues pertaining to Islamic law.
[25] Email communication July 2015.
[26] Shelagh Weir, Palestinian Costumes (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989), 6.
[27] See al-'Amili, Wasa'il, 5/57; al-Majlisi, Bihar, 80/199.
[28] Al-Mufid, al-Amali (Qom: International Congress of Millennium of Shaykh Mufid, 1992), 318.
[29] Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, trans I. Howard (London: Balagha & Muhammadi Trust, 1981), 67.
[30] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 233.
[31] John Alden Williams, Themes of Islamic Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 159-60.
[32] Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 15.
[33] For other restrictions and acts of humiliation inflicted on the dhimmis see, Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1955), 197-98.
[34] Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book 32: hadith 4067; Hafidh al-Tirmidhi, Jami'I, https://islamfuture.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/jami-at-tirmidhi-6-vol-set/, vol. 3, chapter 42, hadith 1784.
[35] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 225.
[36] Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ahkam ahl al-Dhimma (Damascus: 1961), 2/742-44.
[37] Ibid., 2/739-40.
[38] Muslim, Sahih, The Book of Pilgrimage (Kitab Al-Hajj), Book 7, Hadith 3146; 3148; Tirmidhi, Jami', vol.3, chapter 11; hadith 1735.
[39] al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, 5/57.
[40] Bukhari, Sahih, Penalty of Hunting while on Pilgrimage Book 3: Volume 29 Hadith 72; Book 5; Volume 59, Hadith 582: Book 7; Volume 72, Hadith 699; Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta', K. al-Hajj: Book 20: Hadith 20.76.256.
[41] Muslim, Sahih, The Book of Pilgrimage, Book 7, Hadith 3149.
[42] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 237.
[43] Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 16/250.
[44] Ibid., 41/77.
[45] M. J. Kister, "The Crowns of This Community," 221, fn. 16.
[46] Ibid., 233.
[47] See the example cited of Abu Nadra in Muhammad b. Sa'd, Tabaqat al-Kubra. 9 vols. (Beirut Dar Sadir, n.d.), 7/208.
[48] Ibn Dawud, Sunan, Kitab al-Libas, Book 32, Hadith #4027.
[49] Kulayni, al-Kafi, 3/403; Muhammad b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn al-Saduq, Man La Yahduru'l Faqih (Qom: Jamia Mudarrisin Islamic Publications office, 1992), 1/251. al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, 4/382, 4/387.
[50] Nazemian Fard, Vakavi-e Karbord-e Rang-e Siah dar Mian-e Abbasian, 2, 7, (2011): 147-148.
[51] Teresa Bernheimer, The 'Alids: the First Family of Islam 750-1200 (Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press, 2014), 43.
[52] See the example of Qasim b. 'Abdullah cited by Bernheimer, The 'Alids, 70.
[53] al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, 4/385.
[54] See the example cited of the famous companion Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari seated in the mosque of Medina looking for al-Baqir while wearing a black turban. Muhammad b. Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi, Kitab al-Kafi, trans. Muhammad Sarwar, vol. 1-8 (n.p., the Islamic Seminary, n.d.), H 1267, Ch. 118, h 2, p. 664.
[55] Abdul-Hussein Ahmad Amini Najafi, Al-Ghadir fil-Kitab wal-Sunnah wal-Adab, vol. 3/290-293. Stillman, "Libas," EI.
[56] 'Abd al-Rahman Jalal al-Din Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur fi tafsir bi'l ma'thur (Cairo, 1896), 2/70.
[57] Ibn Dawud Sunan, Book 32, hadith, 4053.
[58] al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, 5/57.
[59] Al-Mufid, al-Amali, 352.
[60] Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, trans. I. Howard (London: Balagha & Muhammadi Trust, 1981), 474. Kafi, 686, H 1234, Ch. 121, h 7.
[61] Even in Syria in the 1960s, among the Sunni community, the green turban was reserved for the descendants of the Prophet. See Thomas Pierret, Religion and State in Syria: The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013), 21.
[62] Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, Ta'rikh al-Umam Wa'l-Muluk. 8 vols. (Beirut: Mu'assasa al-A'lami), 1983, 3/1013, 1037.
[63] Majlisi, Bihar, 52/302. Ibn Abu Zaynab, Kitab al-Ghayba, trans. Abdullah al-Shahin (Qom: Ansariyan, 2003), 439.
[64] http://www.erfan.ir/Arabic/article/view/78723.
[65] Muhammad al-Baqir al-Majlisi, Hilyat al-Muttaqin (Tehran: Yas Publication 1993), 5-6. The text is closely studied by Faegheh Shirazi in her article entitled "Manly Matters in Iran: From Beards to Turbans", In Critical Encounters, Essays in Persian Literature and Culture in Honor of Peter Chelkowski. Mohammed Mehdi Khorrami and M.R. Ghanoonparvar eds., (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publications, 2007), 146-166.
[66] al-Majlisi, Hilyat al-Muttaqin, 3.
[67] Ibid., 10.
[68] Ibid.
[69] Ibid.Sayyids and the Black Emblem
[70] Liyakat Takim, "From Bid'a to Sunna: The Wilaya of 'Ali in the Shia Adhan." Journal of the American Oriental Society 120, no. 2 (2000): 66-77.
[71] Yedidah Stillman, "Libas," 749.
[72] Cambridge History of Islam. Edited by Peter Holt, Ann Lambton, and Bernard Lewis. 2 vols. (Cambridge: l970), 1/396. 
[73] http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/safa_f/hd_safa_f.htm. See also http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/clothing-x
[74] Faegheh Shirazi-Mahajan, "The Semiotics of the Turban: the Safavid Era in Iran," in Journal of International Association of Costume, 9, 67-87 (1992):72.
[75] Pierret notes that the white turban in Syria was a symbol of religious knowledge, and is worn by religious scholars even today. Pierret, Religion and State in Syria, 9 – 10, 41.
[76] al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, 296.
[77] Bosworth, "Sayyid," Encyclopedia of Islam, 9:115. See also Muhammad b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn al-Saduq, Risala al-I'tiqadat (A Shi'ite Creed), trans. A. Fyzee (Oxford: 1942), 108-9.
[78] Bernheimer, The 'Alids, 17.
[79] Bosworth, "Sayyid," Encyclopedia of Islam, 9/115. See also Liyakat Takim,
[80] Ruya Kilic, "The Reflection of Islamic Tradition on Ottoman Social Structure: The Sayyids and Sharifs" in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: The Living Links to the Prophet (Routledge: New York, 2012), 123.
[81] Ibid., 132-133.
[82] Mercedes Garcia-Arenal, "Shurafa in the Last Years of al-Andalus and in the Morisco Period: Laylat al-Mawlid and Genealogies of the Prophet Muhammad," in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 162.
[83] Valerie Hoffman, "The Role of the Masharifu on the Swahili Coast in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 191.
[84] Arthur Buehler, "Trends of Ashrafization in India" in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 235.
[85] See Morimoto Kazuo, "How to Behave towards Sayyids and Sharifs: a TransSectarian Tradition of Dream Accounts, in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 22-25. Other stories talk of the inviolability of Sayyids, ibid.
[86] Abu al-Qasim al-Khu'I, Minhaj al-Salihin, 9th edition, 1:371.
[87] Bernheimer, The 'Alids, Ibid., 24 – 6.
[88] Ibid., 26 – 8.
[89] Arthur Buehler, "Trends of Ashrafization in India" in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 235.
[90] Teresa Bernheimer, Genealogy, Marriage, and the Drawing of Boundaries among the 'Alids (Eighth-Twelfth Centuries), in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs,83-85.
[91] This was reiterated under Shah Tahmasp. See Kathryn Babayan, "Sufis, Dervishes and Mulla: the Controversy over Spiritual and Temporal Dominion in Seventeenth-Century Iran" in Charles Melville ed., Safavid Persia (Tauris: London, 1996), 123. See also op. cit. page 135 fn. 26 for details of tampering with Safavid genealogy.
[92] Sa'id Amir Arjomand, The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam: Religion, Political Order and Societal Change in Shi'ite Iran from the Beginning to 1890 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986), 211.
[93] Ruya Kilic, "The Reflection of Islamic Tradition" in Morimoto Kazuo ed., Sayyids and Sharifs, 130-131. In his descriptions of contemporary Ottoman society Nicolas de Nicolay (d. 1583) discusses the green turbans worn by the emirs (another title for the family of the Prophet).
[94] Kulayni, al-Kafi, 3/144. In another tradition, al-Sadiq states that my father told me to bury him with three items of clothing, but the amaama is not a part of the kafn. Kulayni, al-Kafi, 3/144. The donning of the amaama on a male corpse is considered a sunna. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 110/342.
[95] Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, 410; al-Kafi, 443; h. 797,ch. 70, #8.
[96] al-Kafi, 537.forty dinars were used".97 However, a turban can only be buried with the corpse if a person had willed it before his death.
[97] al-Kafi, 672.
[98] Tirmidhi, Jami', vol.3, Chapter 12, hadith 1736.
[99] Ibn Dawud, Sunan, Kitab al-Libas, Book 32: Hadith 4068.
[100] "M. J. Kister, The Crowns of This Community," 227-228.
[101] Ibid., 229.
[102] Al Kafi V6 Ch 15 - The book of outfits and beautification
[103] Al-Saduq, Man La Yahduru, 1/266 hadith # 821.
[104] Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, 474.
[105] Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 83/194.
[106] Yusuf al-Bahrani, Hadaiq al-Nadhira (Najaf, 1379), 7/126. Majlisi, Bihar, 83/194. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, Kitab al-Mahasin (Qom: Dar alKutub al-Islamiyya, 1951), 378.
[107] Al-Saduq, Man La Yahduru, 1/265.
[108] Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 80/193. The tenth century jurist al-Saduq considered that one who wears an amaama has to observe tahannuk. Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 80/193-4.
[109] Majlisi, Hilya, p.7.
[110] Hilli, Tadhkira al-Fuqaha' (Qom: Mu'assassa Al-Bayt, 1993), 2/451.
[111] Qawa'id al-Ahkam (Qom: Mu'assassa al-Tabi'a al-Jami'a, 1992), 1/257.
[112] Hilli, Muntaha al-Matlab, 4/251.
[113] Muhammad Jamal al-din al-Makki al-Amili, al-Lum'a al-Dimishqiyya (Qom: Manshurat Dar al-Fiqr, 1990), 2/62.
[114] Al-Amili, al-Habl al-Matin (Qom: Manshuurat Maktab al-Basirat, 1999), 187.
[115] Al-Ghita, Kashf al-Ghita' (Isfahan: Intisharat al-Mahdawi, 1999), 1/202.
[116] Observation of Ayatullah al-Sayyid Fadhil Milani.
[117] See al-Saduq, Man La Yahduru, 1/266 fn 2.

Also published on blog: https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/07/28/history-of-the-turban/

Sign in to follow this  


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

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

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

    • By Last Chance in Poems for the Ahlul Bayt
      Alone, in the dark, a young girl is weeping,
      Not knowing what her heart has always been seeking,
      So, now, to her Lord, she is finally speaking,
      Revealing the secrets she thought she'd been keeping.
      Her Lord listens to her with indescribable love,
      He watches her raise her weak hands, above.
      "My Lord, I beg you to enter my heart,
      To you, all my sorrows, I wish to impart,
      This emptiness, I can bear it no more,
      I feel I am drowning and you are my shore."
      She buries her wet face in the palms of her hands,
      For she knows that He, alone, understands,
      But she wonders if she is worthy of His mercy, so great,
      She wonders if forgiveness and love are her fate.
      "My Lord, I have neglected my soul,
      I never gave heed to my purpose or goal,
      And now, I need You to set my soul right,
      I have no-one but You in the midst of this night."
      Tears flow from her eyes like a thunderous river,
      As she awaits the reply from this Generous Giver,
      But He waits and He watches as she continues to cry,
      So she calls desperately into the night sky,
      "My Lord, You are everything I need,
      Of any happiness, You are the seed,
      I yearn for You to make my heart whole,
      To take Your place, this world previously stole."
      With nothing more to give, the girl gets to her feet,
      As longing for her Lord fills her every heartbeat.
      She raises her hands, one final time,
      Her soul weighed down by her forgetful crime.
      "My Lord, You are my only, last hope,
      Without you, I know, I won't be able to cope,
      To feel Your presence, my soul, I can sell,
      All I want is that in my heart, You dwell.
      My Lord, I want You to open my soul's eyes,
      And to put an end to my grievous cries,
      You said that Your friends feel no sorrow, nor pain,
      So befriend me, God, let this night not pass in vain."
      As she tires from this begging, her eyes slowly close,
      And she feels that her yearning, now surely, He knows,
      Her Lord looks lovingly at the slumbering youth,
      And knows that her words carried nothing but truth.
      So He enters her soul and whispers some words,
      Sweeter than the chirping of awakening birds,
      "...Call upon me; I will answer you," (40: 60)
      And more than this, what else could be true?
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      Whether Covid-19 is a naturally occurring virus or whether as some claim (unconvincingly, so far) it is a bioweapon, in my opinion its spread is the result of free will [15]. If it is naturally occurring, then it was human actions that led to its migration from animals to humans. We know that some viruses can do this and we have had previous experience with ones (e.g. SARS) that have created far less havoc [1]. By the same measure this one could be seen to be a dry run for worse epidemics to come, that too is eminently predictable [2,17].
      A theist could argue that the 2003 SARS outbreak was a warning. SARS showed us that the consumption of certain animals and/or their close proximity to humans can be dangerous. The death toll was relatively low but the message was clear. The fact that people still pursued lifestyles that could lead to such transmission is an expression of their free will. They are exercising their right to pursue cultural practices (eating haram wild animals) while ignoring science [3]. Similarly this is not the last virus that we will face, no doubt there will be another one along at some point which will be deadlier and more difficult to contain. If the lessons from this one are not learnt then the number of dead with the next one will be even higher. That is not the result of God being unjust, it is the result of various human injustices, the socio-economic dimension of the current outbreak has been observed I.e. the poor are much more likely to die than people who are better off [4], but such observations are rare because that would challenge the existing order.
      Taking informed personal control
      But just as people can blame people in other nations and cultures for their own demise, so we are now facing the tests for our own understanding of risk and willingness to change established behaviours. Two weeks prior to my writing this the Western press was full of stories about how religious Iranians were responsible for helping spread the virus [5]. Those gloating articles [6] have now been replaced by those which are lamenting the behaviour of people in the West and the slow behaviour of western governments.
      How the virus transmits, what counts as risky behaviour and what does not is all information that is available and has been for some time now. Some people may choose not to observe nature, they may choose to ignore science and they may choose to live lives as they have always done but they cannot escape reality. And that goes for people who are visiting shrines when they should not as much as those who go to restaurants or evangelical churches [19].
      Inequality and viral transmission
      There are those who are unable to comply with the scientific advice because of the constraints of their employment, those who get paid by the hour and nothing if they don't work are in a very invidious position. If they carry on working who is to blame? In that situation I think the rest of us carry some responsibility for having elected political leaders who have created economic systems that allow such practices to exist. But luckily and perhaps something that may offer us some redemption in some countries at least even the most economically liberal people are recognising the need to be more communitarian with for example, people who are renting being able to stay in their apartments even if they do not pay their rent [7].
      Singapore stands out as a country with an exemplary record in containing Covid-19, but their Achilles heel? The relatively poor care they take of Indian migrant workers and it's been the accommodation such people are offered that has been a more recent cause for concern [16]. The solution has been to 'improve' housing conditions and people recognise that having dozens of workers sharing the same toilets or men living 12 to a room is ideal for viral transmission, the inequality will need to be addressed in order to reduce the transmission of the disease and thereby protect those who are better off.
      Incidentally the Singapore example is also worth remembering for all those occasions where people woe the fact that their country is not more like Singapore (I know Pakistanis like doing this). Singapore is one of those countries that enjoys a very favourable international press, and if you are a tourist it is indeed paradise. But it stays that way because of a large underbelly of South Indian manual workers and Malaysians commuting from Johor. There are also other countries (a number ex-British colonies), with similar labour models and all will have problems when you have a disease that spreads more easily where people are being treated unequally.
      The Singaporean situation stands in contrast to the Indian state of Kerala whose Covid-19 figures are exemplary, why? Because socialist governments have clamped down on inequality [20]. They may not have the best medical facilities in the world, but good socio-economics have helped them to cope better than richer and better equipped countries. There is a similar story in Vietnam, a country that has learnt not to put economic gain at the very top of the national agenda was able to take strong pre-emptive action and has suffered only a few hundred deaths, despite having a long border with China [21], almost counter-intuitively such emphasis on health may allow such regions to resume economic activity more quickly than those places which were to put it bluntly 'greedy'.
      Another interesting contrast and a model of good practice that had been identified by mid-June 2020 was the city of New Orleans (see chart below) [23]. It managed to change what initially seemed an even worse trajectory than New York by introducing high levels of testing undertaken in locations that made it easy for people, particularly the poor to be tested and even gave them goody bag incentives in order to do so.

      There is another way to look at this. The information was always out there, regardless of claims with hindsight that the Chinese hid the scale of the situation. Some countries (poor ones) acted on it and some (amongst the richest) did not. Possible reasons for the difference? Wealth itself blinkered the vision of decision-makers. A rich country simply has too much to lose if it locks down, despite the fact that it can afford to do so if it wanted to. It's analogous in my opinion to the reason why often it is small companies that innovate and larger ones don't. The latter have too much invested in the status quo.
      Economic solutions for medical problems
      Those of us who believe in a forgiving and generous God understand that viruses and other diseases are part of the ecosystem in which we live. How we deal with them is, to a large degree, up to us. And to that end it is interesting to note how various commentators are recognising that economic systems that are built on the adoration of the individualistic entrepreneur can be ill-fitted to dealing with such situations, which invariably require self-sacrifice for the social good and where problems are exacerbated when people act selfishly. There are now Twitter campaigns singling out pharmacies that have over-charged for medicines. There are loud complaints about billionaires whose businesses are being baled out with taxpayers' money [8]. Societies that have maintained at least some ability to self-reflect will recognise that although this is a virus the solutions are not going to be wholly medical, they will have to have an economic and social dimension and the latter will involve following precepts embodied in religious texts. Comparisons have been drawn with WWII about how such calamities make societies more social [9].
      Whatever the defences people make of the United States healthcare system the fact remains that in order to deal with this virus at least, the system cannot cope with existing payment practices [10]. While the uninsured can go untreated for various other illnesses, they can't be left to their own devices when the result of non-treatment will be an even worse epidemic. Viruses reinforce religious precepts of charity, seeking knowledge and looking after others.
      Beliefs, behaviours and survival
      Viruses are not kind to those people who believe in blind faith [11] or who feel they can carry on partying [12]. Viruses are not kind to those people who believe in quack cures [13]. Viruses don't care about economic, political, social or religious ideology. Viruses present us with a reality and it is up to us whether we accept it, accommodate it into our worldview and live or challenge it and die. Those people protesting at the Michigan capital about 'liberty' may be making a political point [22], but the virus does not care about liberty and it is certainly not intimidated by the fact that they are carrying AR15 rifles.
      This virus, at least from what we know has a clear basis for prevention - social distance, and better still self-isolation [14]. Respecting its transmission is in my opinion respecting nature and the laws of God. The ability to perceive the reality of the situation is essential and something whose importance we've previously discussed [18]. Given the Islamic imperative on preserving life both one's own and that of others - following these rules becomes a must. To that extent we are empowered and God has given us hope and His mercy. This is no apocalypse waiting to happen, it always could be averted, there have been enough warnings over the past several months to encourage those who are willing to listen and prepare.
      Hope for people
      As a result of the outbreak science is attempting to catch-up and there will likely be a solution. There always is. Again theists and Muslims in particular have their beliefs to give hope in this specific regard. Hope manifests itself at two levels, there is what society can do as it manages and comes out of lockdown and there is what we can do as individuals. At a societal level questions are beginning to be asked about whether lifestyles that we had taken for granted are necessary, do people have to travel long distances to work, when teleworking is possible? Now that people are no longer taking flights were they essential in the first place or should some airlines be allowed to go bust? Of course this is going to cause tremendous upheaval, unemployment and social costs but for those of us who believe in man made climate change, this is a heaven sent opportunity to make the radical changes that would otherwise have been economically unthinkable and perhaps avoid much larger social and economic devastation if we had continued with the same business models as before.
      Hope for the individual
      In the meantime we are locked down to varying degrees depending on where we are in the world. Some of us may be locked down, but saving time commuting as we work from home others may have no other choice but to stay at home and wait it out.
      The lockdown as I see it is an opportunity. Our daily lives can be an impediment to religious study with more material concerns taking precedence. Lockdown can be seen as a heaven sent opportunity to refocus, while at the same time having the impetus of seeing at first hand the proximity of death.
      This is the time when we can
      Re-open the books that may have not be read for some time. Remember the prayers for which people may ordinarily feel they do not have the time Revisit al-Islam.org and access the resources they have available Sign-up to online Islamic courses For all the occasions where people are led astray by having haram easy to access, its misperceived benefits available in abundance, death seemingly improbable, unlikely and far away and the ability to choose the right path made more difficult by these impediments - the virus and its social and behavioural implications is a reset that loads the dice in the favour of those who are inclined towards the right path. Death is nearer, it is entirely possible and we have the time and the resources to prepare for it. Over the course of human existence, this is a luxury that few people have had.
      [1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sars/
      [2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/emerging-viruses
      [3] https://www.healthline.com/health/zoonosis#list-of-diseases
      [4] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/09/media/emily-maitlis-bbc-coronavirus-scli-intl-gbr/index.html
      [5] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-Iran-became-a-new-epicenter-of-the-coronavirus-outbreak
      [6] https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/how-Iran-botched-coronavirus-pandemic-response/
      [7] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
      [8] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/31/bailouts-coronavirus-state-aid
      [9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/11/coronavirus-who-will-be-winners-and-losers-in-new-world-order
      [10] https://www.ft.com/content/00017d02-5f39-11ea-b0ab-339c2307bcd4
      [11] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-51706021
      [12] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/cheltenham-festival-defends-decision-coronavirus-a4406906.html
      [13] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/Iran-coronavirus-methanol-drink-cure-deaths-fake-a9429956.html
      [14] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30190-0/fulltext
      [15] https://www.al-Islam.org/God-and-his-attributes-Sayyid-mujtaba-musavi-lari/lesson-19-free-will
      [16] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/3-pronged-strategy-in-place-to-stop-virus-spread-in-dorms
      [17] https://www.ft.com/content/6e9b4fe7-b26e-45b9-acbd-2b24d182e914
      [18] https://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235033293-quran-social-science-natural-science/
      [19] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bible-belt-us-coronavirus-pandemic-pastors-church-a9481226.html
      [20] https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/13/999313/kerala-fight-covid-19-india-coronavirus/
      [21] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52628283
      [22] https://www.npr.org/2020/05/14/855918852/heavily-armed-protesters-gather-again-at-michigans-capitol-denouncing-home-order?t=1589550976807
      [23] https://www.ft.com/content/32f297e0-45d9-4dd3-a028-868e698dc66f
    • By starlight in Light Beams
      Yesterday I ordered an outfit from an online store. I don't know what made me do it when I have been trying to pare down my worldly possessions to bare essential and I know I already have too many clothes. Maybe it was the combined effect of slashed price and the excited ''Yesssssssss, get it" from my best friend.  That was morning. By evening I had begun to get a steady stream of messages, 'Dr.B passed away' , Dr. M and his wife and parents have tested positive, 'My cousin and her two sons tested positive', 'my Uncle and his house help's results came back positive' and then this morning someone else I knew died. All of this made me feel very low and that started a string of negative thoughts, one of which was,'Why did you order those clothes?You are never going to wear them at home and work might not happen for another three months and who knows you might be dead by that time so the package is going to arrive and lie there unopened for months at best. You must be out of your mind ordering clothes and back up of moisturiser and those dozens pens and notebooks that you might not live long enough to use'.  
      What followed was "enough of this blasted(french) Corona and lockdown" and a feeling of regret about wasting time and money over those things. But only moments later as I gained some clarity what dawned on me is this is actually how our relationship with material things should be, not just when a deadly pandemic is staring us down in our faces. Corona or no corona I do not know if I am going to be alive the next morning or the next minute so the wiser thing would be to not waste time on worldly things until and unless it's absolutely essential. There are far better things to do with the resources Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) gave us.
      The problem is that while we all know and admit that death is inevitable and come anytime, most of us just confess it with the tongue and do not really reflect on it enough to bring about a change in ourselves. Our lifestyles have become so deviated from the fitrah that materialism and consumer culture is considered normal. This pandemic has been a blessing is so many ways one of them is that Allah has given us a chance to reset the compass of our lives back to fitrah. Let's hope we are able to do that. 
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      and even if we are not perhaps we should try to be and if we can't are there other ways of understanding the world around us in order to make informed decisions that are necessary for survival?
      A hoax?
      I was inspired to think about this. by yet another post on ShiaChat asking about the numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19 compared to the numbers dying annually from other causes e.g. malaria or car accidents. The motivation behind the observation was that maybe the fuss around Covid-19 was a hoax perpetrated by those who want to benefit themselves at our expense.
      Driving people to science ...
      A 'positive' outcome from this crisis is that people are trying to engage with the science and statistics behind the virus, even though they may not be doing so perfectly. But at least it demonstrates a desire to understand the world rather than spend time in idle frivolity. And perhaps as a result of better understanding acquired by such means we may be better able to cope with the next, more virulent virus. At the same time there are clearly attempts by some to mislead to further their own agenda.
      Epistemology for the masses
      But I also believe that God allows for information and knowledge to take a number of different forms and if we cannot understand one, there is always something else that may take us in the right direction.
      A measure that's easy to understand
      There are many different measures of how deadly or not the virus is and based on that information what the imperative should be on us to take any action. Some of these are very technical and difficult for the layperson to understand. Indeed we read a number of arguments questioning the threat that CV19 poses and these include the following: 
      CV19 being no more deadly than flu  more people die in road traffic accidents questions about the integrity of the mortality data because it may not be able to distinguish between whether someone died of CV19 or with it so on.  They may sound plausible to the unwary and suggest that perhaps no lifestyle changes are necessary.
      However I think that it is instructive that we have quantitative information about deadliness that is very easy indeed to understand, and it can not be easily manipulated or changed for propaganda purposes. It is the data on excess deaths.
      In all developed countries and many developing ones we know how many people die each year. We just look at the number for this year and you can see the impact of CV19. Of course if there is more than one pandemic happening then it's not so good, but at the moment we only have one.
      I think the importance of this measure for theists is an important one. Ultimately God creates everything. A just God who created CV19, would also offer us reliable and valid tools to measure its impact.

      Salvation for those who can't add up
      In addition to quantitative data that is easy to understand, we also have the benefit of qualitative data.
      The video coverage and audio/text narratives provided by doctors and nurses in many different countries about their daily experiences should be evidence enough to show that this is not some existing cause of death like malaria. Clearly health professionals in many different countries are overwhelmed in a manner that the common flu does not cause. 
      Did China lie? But does it matter?
      A common refrain from President Trump in late April 2020 has been that the Americans were caught off-guard because the Chinese lied about the nature and extent of the virus. In some ways each of us has been in the same position as the American government. To what extent has the information that has been provided to us been accurate and a reflection of the real situation?
      I don't think it matters.
      Because it has been easy enough to observe, almost in real time, what the impact has been on peoples' behaviour. People can lie about their opinions and their analysis of reality but they tend to behave in a manner that reflects their true understanding of a situation.
      There were enough videos coming out of China about the hospitals being built, the roads being disinfected, the guards at the ground level of apartment blocks restricting who could enter or leave, to tell anyone regardless of cognitive ability that this was a serious virus. This was not flu.
      So we did not need to rely on what the Chinese said, all we needed to do was observe what they did.
      So you did not need to know the R value of the virus, you did not need to know the difference between different types of mortality rates and so on. All you needed to know were the extreme measures those on the front line were taking because they were terrified and act appropriately.
      CV19 forces us to drop misconceptions, ideologies, beliefs and every other artifice that we have created.
      It forces us to try and understand nature with the cognitive and analytical skills that we have.
      It provides evidence for those who Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the greatest quantitive skills for measuring and understanding what is going on and which will likely be essential for policy making at a global and national level, but at the same time there is enough quantitative evidence that is easy to understand and even qualitative data that no individual need feel unqualified in terms of making the decisions that will help preserve their lives.
    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
      This story is about a tea party, but actually it isn't about the party.
      It isn't about the party that Anna Pavlovna holds, the one that many people know about but about whose subsequent events they remain unfamiliar. In fact if I wanted to I could try really hard and remind myself of the time I attended, but as I said that's not really the purpose of this story.
      You see Sakina many people arrive at Anna Pavlovna's party with high hopes and expectations. They have a self-image of their literary prowess and they want to be able to tell everyone else that not only did they attend but that they experienced everything else that happened afterwards as well.
      I was a bit like that to be honest. The first time I went I was about your age. I'd heard a lot about Anna Pavlovna's world and I wanted to be able to casually mention to friends and associates that I'd been. And so I would try so very very hard to get to know the attendees and to be honest it was impossible. I made many attempts and never got further than the entrance to the party itself.
      So I tried a different tack.
      I'd try less hard.
      Instead of trying to get as far into this world as I could and meet as many people as I could, as quickly as I could, I would take the opposite approach.
      I would only spend so much time at the party and I would stop, no matter how engaging the characters and no matter how interesting the stories that they had to tell.
      And the next day I would come back to where I had left off and the people and the stories would still be there and slowly but surely I'd have the impetus to find out a little more about them and the following day a little bit more and so on.
      In fact their lives became a little soap opera for me that went on for over a year and that's how I finished War & Peace.
    • By Abdul-Hadi in Chasing Islam
      [In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful]

      Some people may object to my embrace of Islam. "Oh, Islam is such a difficult and demanding religion" they will say "It's too difficult to be a Muslim, especially in the West". I wholeheartedly disagree.

      Islam is not difficult at all, unless you allow it to be. Submission to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the natural state that humans were created for, so I have not found it terribly difficult at all thus far and even if it was, that doesn't mean that it's not worth pursuing (actually, challenges are good for us because they force us to persevere and grow in the process of overcoming). Religion and faith are not toys to be played with and put away on a shelf until the next time that you have a job interview, wind up in jail, or face an illness- Religion and faith are aspects of the human experience that should fundamentally change us as people, and always for the better.

      This is the difference between a fulfilling life and a life of constant desire for the cheap thrills of this world (which never satisfy), religion is the difference between heaven & hell; as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) sees all we do + his judgment of us will ultimately come down to how perfectly we submitted, how closely we followed his commands, and the weight of our sins of both commission & omission in this life (sins of omission would be neglecting salah, charity, or treatment of his creation, etc).

      I honestly never thought I was going to be able to embrace Islam. There are enough posts on SC where I sound apprehensive and lean in that direction. What I have noticed is that within the past week, I have thrown myself into developing my practice of Islam with a much greater sense of mindfulness than I ever did with my Christianity. I believe that this is because in Christianity, we expect God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to "work within us" and change us without having to put in much effort ourselves besides reading the bible and praying daily. If we expect someone else, even our concept of God, to do this work for us it will likely not be done. We have to put forth the effort to change ourselves and develop our religion and Insha'Allah, we will become better, more complete human beings. In just a week, I have gone from near-total ignorance of the Quran, inability to pray without reading off a sheet, and praying "when I remembered" to keeping salah, memorizing the process of offering my five daily prayers, and setting five alarms on my phone (complete with an adhan for added immersion). I've even been able to commit short surahs to memory (in Arabic nonetheless!) so that I can offer my prayers properly as they were modeled by the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). I never in my wildest dreams even two weeks ago, imagined that I would be capable of doing this, so I am both excited and at the same time, feeling a sense of serenity- that this really is "it" and that I have found the path that I belong on in order to develop as a person.

      Today, I received my misbaha (dhikr beads) and have begun to offer dhikr, starting with the tasbih of Fatima (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) this afternoon. I have also ordered a modest prayer rug. Now I find myself wondering what my next steps are to improve my practice of Islam; namely what other parts of my religion can I begin to practice and what parts of myself I can work on improving. Although I am just a "baby Muslim", I truly feel as if I am changing for the better and that perhaps I should give myself just a bit more credit than I do for how far I have personally come in such a short period of time.

      However, as easy as practicing Islam has been for me + as natural as it feels, I realize that my experience is just that- my experience. Brothers and sisters all across the planet, many in this nation of mine (America), may not have such an easy time adhering to their faith. For some (Uyghurs in China, Bosnians), the practice of Islam comes with the very real risk of persecution & death from the unjust & tyrannical, but nonetheless they keep the faith without probably ever making blog posts like this one. I believe that all of us, including the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) can learn something about fidelity, devotion, perseverance and not least of all courage, from these brave brothers and sisters in these countries that are much more hostile to Islam.

      How do you think I can improve my religious practice from here on out?

      How can you improve yours?
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
      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:
      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. 
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Blog Statistics

    Total Blogs
    Total Entries
  • Create New...