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In the Name of God بسم الله

Imamology

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A Guide to Sunni Trends

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Qa'im

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The Sunni Muslim world, as I see it, is divided up into the following social categories. Below are the major trends that run through this segment of the Umma.

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Madhhabi Sunnis: Anyone belonging to the traditional Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools, including both conservative and nominal Muslims. Madhhabi Sunnis usually express their religion through devoted worship, spirituality, and traditional law-abidance. Many sub-movements fit in this category, including most Sufis, the mystical Barelvi movement, the Deobandi movement, and those who are simply culturally Muslim. Madhhabi Sunnis are usually suspicious of Salafi, Shia, and modernist ideas and traditions, but still advocate for Muslim unity; agreeing to disagree with competing trends. Some nominal Madhhabis are influenced by Salafi revivalism and conservatism. Sufis in particular are often politically quietist and pacifistic, and have a balanced but positive view of classical Islamic civilizations.

Popular examples: Hamza Yusuf, Yahya Rhodus, Timothy Winters, Zaid Shakir, Umar Abd-Allah, Shabir Ally, Usama Canon, Suhaib Webb, Faraz Rabbani, Amjad Tarsin.

Salafis: Those who try to pursue a literal interpretation of Sunni Islam based on its most established primary hadith sources. Salafis are suspicious of secondary sources, philosophy, mysticism, traditional Sunni schools, saint-reverence, forms of religious expressions that are not explicitly supported by "sahih" Sunni hadiths, and other sects and religions. Salafis usually express their religion through theological discourse, worship, strict adherence to early practices (including having a "Muslim appearance"), and clamping down on "innovations" in Islamic practice (i.e. anything in a hadith they consider "weak", or not found in their most literal interpretations). Salafis have three noticeable sub-movements: (1) the Wahabis, who follow the Najdi Saudi theologians; (2) apolitical non-Wahabi Salafis, who follow non-Najdi figures, are focused mostly on theology and law, and are critical of Saudi Arabia's royal family and state-sponsored scholars, and (3) Militant Salafis, who seek to revive the Caliphate, establish puritan Islamic states, resist Western imperialism, and punish deviant and nominal Muslims. Salafis are very critical of Sufis and Shias, and often push for the destruction of their relics.

Popular examples: Bilal Philips, Abu Khadeejah, Yasir Qadhi, Abdur Raheem Green, Zakir Naik, Feiz Mohammed, Abu Musab Wajdi Akkari, Abu Isa Niamatullah.

Liberal Reformists: This includes Quranists and other reformists, who have a modernist humanist worldview, and see many Islamic laws and practices as outdated or obsolete. Liberal Reformists are focused on social justice and ethical principles inspired by the Quran. They are skeptical of hadith literature, Islamic scholarship, mysticism, sectarianism, and some jurisprudence. Liberal Reformists are especially critical of traditional penalties (hudud), extremism, radicalization, and laws related to gender and sexuality. The Quran is viewed as a flexible, progressive document that mostly lacks the rigidity of Islamic laws.

Popular examples: Mona Eltahawy, Irshad Manji, Maajid Nawaz, Tarek Fatah, Amina Wadud, Asra Nomani, Michael Muhammad Knight, Khalid Abou El Fadl

Muslim Brotherhood Types: They are often unaffiliated with the actual MB, but hold the same pragmatist and anti-imperialist sentiments. They are a middle-upper class educated movement that focuses on social conservatism, harmonizing modernism and traditionalism, international politics, and social justice. The MB types believe in family values, scientific/technological progress and development, and quasi-Marxist-Leninist domestic and international policies (big welfare governments and anti-Western imperialism). They are critical of Salafi puritanism, Sufi mysticism, and Shia Iran's encroachment of the Arab world. The MB types often admire the Turkish, Tunisian, and Malaysian Islamic models, which are pluralistic yet respect Islamic tradition. They are often nostalgic of Islamic civilization's golden age.

Popular examples: Tariq Ramadan, Jamal Badawi, Dalia Mogahed, Anas al-Tikriti, Jonathan Brown

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Most Sunni Muslims are not very conscious of these divisions. They usually don't identify themselves with one of these labels, and all 4 trends coexist in most Sunni nations and communities. The trends also have some overlaps, and there are people that are a blend of multiple trends. Sunni scholars are more aware of the red lines due to their epistemological significance. But many Sunnis are subject to the influence of Gulf petrodollars, and therefore will take on some Salafi cliches without noticing it (or just seeing it as becoming "more religious"). I call this "Casual Salafism" - speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusuf Estes, Ismail Menk, or Omar Suleiman, who are more laid-back and popular with the youth, but still have a Salafi epistemology and Salafi influences in their material.

Being conscious of these trends will allow us to better understand whom we can work with and whom we should best avoid.

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amazing post.

I know many Muslims and families in the west, here in Canada that are not very religious. They barely care about Islam and are engulfed in the western world, yet still identify is Muslims (though they like to keep that a secret most of the time). They know that the quran is good to read, they know about hajj (but really count care less about actually doing it), they don't pray, they know about Ramadhan and like to celebrate eid. They have memorized many of the popular hadith (like the one about quran and Sunna, the one about backbiting,) and don't really care about learning more. Lastly they know the stories of the prophets and know which religion sprouted from each. And that's about it when it comes to religion.

What would this category be? The wont be liberal reformists, they don't care enough about what they call "religion" to want to reform anything. All thoughts are appreciated.

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cool, but that should also be on your list, tend or not because it seems to be the most common type of Muslim, especially in the west, trend or not. I hope this post will have a sequel where we can discuss how to deal with all these types. Thanks, and God Bless

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I did not include them, because the characteristics of these people are fluid, random, varied, and not based on any epistemological framework. They are like foam in the ocean - there is much of it, but it has no shape, no weight, no affect, and it is taken anywhere the current goes. The dominant social trend in the Western world is secular humanism, which is the foundation of our media, economy, policies, and culture. Nominal Muslims who do not care about religion are subject to any influence and are apathetic to having a consistent methodology. They'll take whatever bits of existing trends they want and put it together, even if it makes little sense.

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I find non religious Sunnis a harder case than atheists.

Because they have already made the logical choice (tawhid and nabuwah), which makes it near impossible to help them be more religious (pray 5 times a day, sin les, break less major rules) in a non extremist way.

Edited by Shabbar_Abidi

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2 hours ago, Shabbar_Abidi said:

but even sheep need a proper Shepard, without one they are left to the wolves. What do you think this Shepard should be? How should we guide nominal Sunnis away from the wolves?

The shepherd of course is Imam Ibn al-Hasan (as), but the people are distracted by wolves in sheep's clothing. To win them over, they must either be initiated (made to care about their fate, pushed to actively seek knowledge, experience a traumatic event), or re-educated (through schooling, movies, books, art, poetry, speeches, journalism, da`wa, family, and jobs). At the moment, the dominant system has control over most modes of education, and so even getting the attention of a nominal Muslim is difficult. But, everyone has an interest, a problem they are seeking answers for, or an issue they care deeply about, and you must be able to assess the situation of each individual, see what it is they need, and provide a solution that they will accept.

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11 hours ago, Bint Abbas said:

Tariq Ramadan a brotherhood type? Yeah ok

Well yeah. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and while he does not fully endorse the party, he routinely criticizes Sisi and other Arab military dictators and secularists. He has boycotted conferences that were not tough on U.S foreign policy ("imperialism"), Israel, and Arab dictators. He's a prof, a modernist, sports a light beard and a suit, and yet he is a conservative and does not call for gross Islamic reform. He defends traditional Islam, believes in revolution, and is against literalist or archaic interpretations. He is basically your textbook MB type.

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7 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

Well yeah. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and while he does not fully endorse the party, he routinely criticizes Sisi and other Arab military dictators and secularists. He has boycotted conferences that were not tough on U.S foreign policy ("imperialism"), Israel, and Arab dictators. He's a prof, a modernist, sports a light beard and a suit, and yet he is a conservative and does not call for gross Islamic reform. He defends traditional Islam, believes in revolution, and is against literalist or archaic interpretations. He is basically your textbook MB type.

Tariq Ramadan has written a dozen books calling for gross Islamic reform, one of them is even entitled 'Radical Reform'. The reason he opposes Sisi is because he is pro-democracy and Sisi took over via a military coup. In short, opposing Sisi does not equate to being an Ikhwani.

Edited by Pro-Alid

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5 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

Well yeah. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and while he does not fully endorse the party, he routinely criticizes Sisi and other Arab military dictators and secularists. He has boycotted conferences that were not tough on U.S foreign policy ("imperialism"), Israel, and Arab dictators. He's a prof, a modernist, sports a light beard and a suit, and yet he is a conservative and does not call for gross Islamic reform. He defends traditional Islam, believes in revolution, and is against literalist or archaic interpretations. He is basically your textbook MB type.

Lol. So he is a ikhwani because his grandfather is Hasan al banna? He critizes Sisi because he threw away democracy nothing to do with ikhwan. Being Pro-Palestine, a modernist and a beard makes you a ikhwani? Really?? Tariq calls for reform constantly. As for Jonathan Brown being an ikhwani i dont even want to start on that.

Edited by Bint Abbas

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1 minute ago, Bint Abbas said:

Lol. So he is a ikhwani because his grandfather is Hasan al banna? He critizes Sisi because he threw away democracy nothing to do with ikhwan. Being Pro-Palestine, a modernist and a beard makes you a ikhwani? Really?? Tariq calls for reform constantly. As for Jonathan Brown being an ikhwani i dont even want to start on that.

I'm not sure what you define as ikhwani, but as someone who grew up surrounded by MB-types and members of the party, I wouldn't put Tariq Ramadan in the same category as people like Maajid Nawaz or Irshad Manji. He does not call for gross reform of Islam, he calls for what he says is "renovation" and modernization. That's typical of this trend. He defends conservatism and traditionalism from radical reformists ilk, but is not a strict traditionalist himself. Yes, he is not a Salafi or a Madhhabi. He had spoken up about citizenship and hudud in Islam - you can see his lecture here on "Rethinking Islamic Reform".


As for Jonathan Brown, he too fits in this category. If it's the name of this "category" that bothers you, then you can rename it to "conservative modernist anti-imperialist upper middle class university-educated Islamist who is not Salafist or Sufi, who is critical of militant secularism on one hand, but also literalist jihadism and Saudi on the other hand". But that's redundant. There are many Sunnis in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere who fall under this category, who revile sell-outs and liberals like Nawaz and Knight, but also dislike Saudi and Iran. They're pro-AKP, pro-MB (but sometimes critical of it), pro-Nahda, pro-Qatar ($$$), and can appreciate the Malaysian model, and hold negativity towards the U.S, Israel, Saudi, and Russia.

Like all of the trends above, there are some parallels and some mixes. However, the "liberal reformists" I had in mind are those who hold unorthodox views on hijab, gender, gay marriage, and culture. Yes Ramadan called to uplift all forms of capital punishment, but in his own words, he does not see capital punishment as intrinsically inhumane, and he would support its return in his ideal Islamic state.

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30 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

I'm not sure what you define as ikhwani, but as someone who grew up surrounded by MB-types and members of the party, I wouldn't put Tariq Ramadan in the same category as people like Maajid Nawaz or Irshad Manji. He does not call for gross reform of Islam, he calls for what he says is "renovation" and modernization. That's typical of this trend. He defends conservatism and traditionalism from radical reformists ilk, but is not a strict traditionalist himself. Yes, he is not a Salafi or a Madhhabi. He had spoken up about citizenship and hudud in Islam - you can see his lecture here on "Rethinking Islamic Reform".


As for Jonathan Brown, he too fits in this category. If it's the name of this "category" that bothers you, then you can rename it to "conservative modernist anti-imperialist upper middle class university-educated Islamist who is not Salafist or Sufi, who is critical of militant secularism on one hand, but also literalist jihadism and Saudi on the other hand". But that's redundant. There are many Sunnis in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere who fall under this category, who revile sell-outs and liberals like Nawaz and Knight, but also dislike Saudi and Iran. They're pro-AKP, pro-MB (but sometimes critical of it), pro-Nahda, pro-Qatar ($$$), and can appreciate the Malaysian model, and hold negativity towards the U.S, Israel, Saudi, and Russia.

Like all of the trends above, there are some parallels and some mixes. However, the "liberal reformists" I had in mind are those who hold unorthodox views on hijab, gender, gay marriage, and culture. Yes Ramadan called to uplift all forms of capital punishment, but in his own words, he does not see capital punishment as intrinsically inhumane, and he would support its return in his ideal Islamic state.

Defending traditionalism and speaking about Hudud does not make you an ikhwani lol. As for reform, have you ever read any of his books?  As for Brown he is not an ikhwani and far from being an islamist.

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1 hour ago, Bint Abbas said:

Defending traditionalism and speaking about Hudud does not make you an ikhwani lol. As for reform, have you ever read any of his books?  As for Brown he is not an ikhwani and far from being an islamist.

Did you read my whole post or watch the video?

I've read Radical Reform and I've met Tariq Ramadan several times. He says in his book and in his talks that his idea of "reform" is moreso "renovation" and "adaptation" - reforming seminaries, education, civil society, media, and a temporary ban on hudud. Again, he is a modernist, so is the MB, and having these views is very typical of MB-types, who are not totally reactionary. They often embrace democracy and modern nation-states, but are still conservative (family values, traditional fiqh, anti-alcohol/drugs/prostitution) and critical of U.S society and policy. The MB didn't revive hudud in Egypt, and the MB-types did not revive hudud in Turkey or Tunisia either. But the MB/AKP/Nahda are still categorized as "political Islam". The "Liberal Reformist" category hates people like Tariq Ramadan and sees him as an extremist sympathizer.

Watch this video too:

 

As for Jonathan Brown, the guy's profile pic on Facebook is of Morsi and Erdogan together. I'm not saying that is a good or bad thing, I am saying that this is typical of the MB-type category.

 

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I disagree with the label. I wouldnt place Majid or Mona as sunni at all. I am sure if you asked them they would not even see themselves as sunnis. I would put Tariq Ramadan with the likes of Hasan Farhan, Adnan Ibrahim and their likes as Modernist Reformer and not Ikhwanis.

As for Brown, just because someone has a picture of Erdogan and Morsi that does not mean he is an ikhwani. 

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On 08/08/2016 at 5:07 PM, Shabbar_Abidi said:

amazing post.

I know many Muslims and families in the west, here in Canada that are not very religious. They barely care about Islam and are engulfed in the western world, yet still identify is Muslims (though they like to keep that a secret most of the time). They know that the quran is good to read, they know about hajj (but really count care less about actually doing it), they don't pray, they know about Ramadhan and like to celebrate eid. They have memorized many of the popular hadith (like the one about quran and Sunna, the one about backbiting,) and don't really care about learning more. Lastly they know the stories of the prophets and know which religion sprouted from each. And that's about it when it comes to religion.

What would this category be? The wont be liberal reformists, they don't care enough about what they call "religion" to want to reform anything. All thoughts are appreciated.

@Qa'im @Tawheed313 and as well as Shabbir brother, what about the shias, where do they stand, are they also divided, is it few division not applying to all of ummah?and when speaking of sunnnis, where do the shias stand, are the shias( not the scholars or speakers mentioned above) but lay people themselves religious? this makes me think i did come across a similar type of argument nouman ali khan against yasi qadhi over one issue and the comments made me think. i felt i had glossed over being so impressed by traditional things such as spirtuality love and salat and their motivational speeches i could have avoided the trap of falling into such petty things.i  also remember when i used to largely follow sunni scholars no matter how much motivation i had there would be one thing i would come across and my mind wouldnt let it go and i would think about it over and over again. if i ad reached the same conclusions of realsing different areas of of sunni trends it would have confuzed me making me think which one is correct to follow. there are quite a number of sunni motivational pages.who do all of these sunni trendsetter appaarently think is right, all of them cant be, or what does sunni islam imply. how do we following the imams a.s. avoid getting into these trends? i have certain ideas, but if anymore can be shared thatd be great. i do agree reading that above has made me want to become shia all over again why because people are trying to speak what is correct position of where sunni islam should go and there are literally divided whos the correct one to follow, the Imams have more wisdom literally the Ahlulbayt pbut are one of the rope of Allah SWT.

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Bismihi Ta'ala

This is quite an interesting breakdown. There is no single or 'correct' way to define trends, because there will always be overlaps and exceptions. However, I do think that Tariq Ramadan has Ikhwani tendencies (not necessarily contemporary Ikhwani, but more the 70s Ikhwanism from which some actually became Khomeinists, and in the process, Shi'a). 

It is true that opposing Sisi in itself does not make one an MB supporter, but if I recall correctly he has actually gone as far as suggesting that Sisi's regime is worse than Morsi's. His explanation behind Morsi's failures also seem to gloss over the treatment of minorities. Knowing how Tariq Ramadan would not usually overlook such a point, this showed some bias and was somewhat a red flag.

Either way, he has made considerable efforts in the French-speaking world to reconciliate Muslim and Western identities without compromising one or the other.

Regarding the third group 'liberal reformists' I wouldn't necessarily categorize them when discussing Sunni trends because I don't really see most of the individuals in that group as being associated to a particular sect. Indeed, some of them are from non-Sunni backgrounds.

Wallahu A'lam

 

 

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as i have asked earlier ,if someone can answer, what about the shias, where do they stand, are they also divided, is it few division not applying to all of ummah?and when speaking of sunnnis, where do the shias stand, are the shias( not the scholars or speakers mentioned above) but lay people themselves religious?  how do we following the imams a.s. avoid getting into these trends?

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Assalamu alaykum, 

Dear brother Qa'im, I must really congratulate you on that information-rich, epistemologically sound masterpiece ! We hardly have such insightful works done nowadays. Keep up the good work !

I suggest (if it's not too much of a trouble) that you make a similar classificatory study on the contemporary trends within our own Twelver Shi'i (imami) school. Whilst I am aware of the risks involved in this undertaking, such a study would nevertheless be immensely useful.

Best wishes !!

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Salam . 

I grew up in a Sunni Barelvi household in Pakistan. Having said that, I foubd this post to be very interesting, especially this being based on a Shia's observation. Overall, a decent summary. Kudos. 

 

Edited by saberrider

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      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'.
      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
    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
         0
      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 GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         6
      [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
         16
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
    • By GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         0
      There has been a lot of talk about confessing of sins in my life experience so far. I'm not going to do that here since we aren't supposed to, but allow me to give a little background on my specific situation in regard to confession. Coming from the Christian tradition, the idea of not confessing ones' sins sounds very alien & almost as some sort of a cop-out to not have to face up to the wrong you have done. Whether it is the Catholic form of confession to a priest (either face to face or hidden behind a curtain) or the protestant scene's insistence that we confess to as many members of our local church as possible-- We who were raised in Christianity had the idea of confession pounded into our heads like a post into dry, hard earth since at least the earliest we can remember. Our every moral failing, character flaw, and vice must be shared with the wider Christian community for the purposes of "accountability"-- the idea being that by talking about our sins, we will feel shame and not commit them anymore (Catholic) & that confessing these negative thoughts/behaviors can help other Christians to encourage us in our spiritual journey. Normally, this doesn't work out this way and you as the individual Christian become the object of gossip in your congregation... which we understand to be sinful in and of itself. The idea of "covering up" your sins is treated as if you were voluntarily refusing to use the toilet to eliminate waste from your body.

              While I do see some value in confessing sins, I do not now and have never seen much value in confessing them to more than your parish priest/congregational pastor & any parties who might have been directly wronged by your actions; and certainly see no benefit to confessing to the entire church. People have their own vices, failings, and flaws; thus they usually aren't in a great position to counsel others on modifying their behavior and perfecting their spiritual practice. Of course, this has been argued to me by many a well-meaning church lady as "Think of it that you aren't confessing for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others who have their own sins that they need to repent of, but feel too much fear of judgment to do so". As referenced above, this normally doesn't work out in that way. My general rule now is that if you absolutely must "come clean" about sins, that the better practice would be to confess this to your spiritual mentor/religious leader (ideally one you have a close relationship with).

             Initially, I had assumed that this Christian practice of reconciliation would also apply to Islam, so at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I will "confess" that I have done this prior to being clued-in as to why Islam doesn't have a reconciliation ritual practice. However, the logic was something that took me a little while to make sense of, as it has to do with "honor culture". "Honor culture" is something that we do not really have as American cultural Christians. Bearing that in mind and my continuing to work through the Christian dogma of original sin, I have to remind myself frequently on SC to NOT approach others as an "open book". Think of it in the same way as oversharing on social media: not everyone needs to (or even wants to) know about my sins & failures.
            This is not for my benefit, as I do not have a concept of "honor" aside from keeping my word to others (we are taught that the actions of others have no bearing on us as individuals). I have chosen to modify the Christian motivation of "responsibility to the church" that would encourage confession, to a view that does NOT encourage it for the sake of sparing others discomfort-- to not break a taboo that may make my brothers and sisters feel awkward or "put them on the spot" with a false, pharisaic piety that may make them feel lead to open up about shameful things from their own life, as well as not propagating the concept that "sin is OK provided you confess publicly". I am a guest here and I am no longer among my own culture, after all. To borrow a term from the Gospels, I don't want to place a "stumbling block" in the path of my brothers and sisters.

              It's much better to not speak of my sins to anyone aside from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) , as he is the ONLY one who can forgive our sins.

             I'll admit that having to completely relearn everything I was so certain of in regard to faith & spirituality can, like any training or exercising of mind or muscle, be uncomfortable at the outset. However, we take these journeys and diverge from the walk of our native culture and our parents because the peace that comes with finding truth wherever it objectively lies is greater than providing ourselves a momentary balm for our troubled souls that something that is not necessarily beneficial can bring (like using a substance when we are emotionally hurting).

             Insha'allah, this week and from here on, I will work extra hard to remain mindful and not overshare, offer forth Too Much Information, and thus protect both my honor and that of my brothers and sisters who have lived this deen from birth or at least prior to my pursuit of universal truth & perfect submission to my awesome and all-powerful creator.

       
    • By GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         0
      Have you ever been fascinated by something? I mean truly fascinated-- wherein you find yourself pondering, daydreaming, and even neglecting your hobbies to research the topic in question?

      I attended three separate high schools from 1421-1425 (2000-2004 CE), so one might think that Islam would have been very topical during this period. I'll be the first to admit that my high school didn't cover Islam at all. We had no units on Islam or Muslims in World History nor did we speak of Islam in any sort of current events units in social studies (my schools didn't even offer World Religions as an elective). Although we had Muslim students, the only information we ever received on Islam was from an Evangelical Christian Language Arts teacher that I will refer to as Mrs. B. Mrs. B did not take a very favorable view of Islam at all & would semi-regularly sneak in mean-spirited verbal barbs about the faith itself. These usually were ignored by everyone or written off as “Oh, there Mrs. B goes again!” while we pondered whether what her proclamations regarding her specific flavor of Christianity somehow violated the prohibition on public school employees promoting their religious views. We also knew nothing of Islam except what the American media (usually through right-wing pundits) was trying to pound into our heads. That is, until an incredibly well spoken and gifted classmate came along: Massomeh.

      Massomeh's came from a Muslim family and they had moved to the US from Tehran a few years prior to our sophomore year. She was a straight-A student who played on the girl's soccer team, never was so much as “shushed” by a teacher, and did her best to fit in socially while maintaining a level of integrity in her faith that not even the Southern Baptist students (who would act up outside of school), as vocal and virtue-signaling as they were, could hope to maintain during this period of American history, when the moral sentiments of previous generations began to “circle the drain”. Massey (how she preferred to be addressed by classmates) was the student that a lot of us wished we could be... until Mrs. B and a few other teachers began making their broad generalizations and giving false information about Islam, Iran, and Muslims in the wake of the attacks on New York City. As the idiom goes: “Sista don't play dat”, and we watched in awe as this peer of ours respectfully and concisely refuted, contradicted, and dismantled every claim that these faculty members made about Islam & Muslims (and occasionally Iran). She ended up becoming so popular with the students after these statements that she was voted as the head of our Student government (and also because her skill at persuading adults got us the few concessions in the cafeteria that we had wanted from the day the brand new high school opened its doors).
       
      Massey's mini-lectures on Islam had a major impact on me. I was already well into almost an obsessive interest in religions by that point, and it was refreshing to be able to hear one of my peers deliver expertise on something aside from school gossip, gangster rap, or football. I heard her elaborate on what Islam was, what Islam taught (remember that she was not an Islamic scholar), and subjects like the Hajj & what it entailed. When she inevitably gave a presentation on Islam during a current events segment of social studies, she had prepared a PowerPoint presentation complete with graphics; and that's where I saw a picture of a structure that would come to dominate my imagination and interest to this very day: a large black cube in the middle of the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

      The Kaaba. The “House of God”.

      After the presentation in which she explained to the puzzled students that this grand, black cube structure was built by the patriarch Abraham (the root from which monotheism was reestablished) & it was believed to be the first house of worship ever constructed; I began to search out whatever pictures and information about this fascinating structure that I could. Of course, I was (nominally) Christian, so it made no sense to me why I was so enamored with this ancient structure when my own (nominal) religion had sacred sites and holy places of its own. My family didn't understand, and my teachers were uneasy with this fascination for whatever reason (likely politically motivated, as this was during the first presidential term of George W. Bush). I didn't look into Islam as a religion at this time, all I knew was that there was something about this large, black granite cube that captured my attention. Whether it was the shape, the Masjid al-Haram that surrounded it, or the ritual of the Hajj itself has been forgotten to me over the years; but I began daydreaming about its significance and even put a photo of it as the wallpaper on my 1998 IBM Aptiva PC (which troubled my mom and got me in a bit of trouble, as I was clearly “only doing this to rebel & get attention”). I had even printed a picture of It and glued it to the inside of my creative writing binder. This made no sense to anyone, least of all me: After all, I was the video-gaming, Magic: the Gathering-playing, anti-authoritarian punk rocker teen who was bored in school & had no plans on going to university or college after I escaped what amounted to little more than a government funded indoctrination daycamp. Why was I so star struck by this sacred structure, particularly as I was going through a period of doubting the existence of God and a general belief that “all religions have gotten it wrong”?

      Fast forward to the present day (1441). As my life changes in so many ways, I am more fascinated than ever before with this amazing, beautiful geometric house of God. However, I still cannot give a good explanation of exactly what it is that piques my interest to the point where I dream of and draw pictures of this monument, I tear through the internet for any articles, scholarly or otherwise, that I can find (and access) that will reveal the history, purpose, and significance of the Kaaba to me. The argument will likely be made that this is another case of the “white man fetishizing a non-white culture”, but such a limited hand-wave of my interest in the Kaaba betrays a painfully ignorant view of Islam and Muslims that is almost ironic in its naivety, as Islam is a religion and a way of life (deen) for all people of earth, regardless of their native language, skin color, or national origin. After all, it was upon making the pilgrimage to this most sacred place that one of my heroes, Malcolm X, repented of his Black Supremacist views and left the Nation of Islam (which is “Islamic” in the way that White Supremacist hate groups in America claim they are “Christian”). Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad ((عليه السلام).) repudiated the idea of race in his farewell sermon:

      “O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam was from the ground. The noblest of you in Allah’s sight is the most godfearing: Arab has no merit over non-Arab other than godfearingness.” (from the report of Al-Jahiz (translated), forgive me if I have made an error)

      I wonder if the Kaaba and my obsessive interest in it was what drew me into pursuing Islam, or more appropriately (and truthfully), if this was the “introduction” to the Islamic way of life that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) used to begin to undo my ignorance in regard to the perfect path that he has ordained for ALL mankind through His final prophet & messenger Muhammad ((عليه السلام).), to draw me away from the imperfect, tainted “cultural Christianity” that I was born into & subsequently was my sole religious exposure until that fateful day in class. Since this period of my life began, I have moved closer and closer to Islam like a comet being drawn toward the sun. I do not know what the future holds for me, nor can I pretend to & doing so would be both absurd & presumptuous on my part; but what I DO know is that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has created me for both his pleasure and to fulfill a specific destiny, no matter how insignificant it may seem to me & the world I occupy.

      Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is THE BEST of planners & Inshallah, I will eventually be able to live a proper and functional Muslim life. It's just a matter of arriving at that point.
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