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In the Name of God بسم الله

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  1. pp,550x550.u5.jpg

    The idea that the world is composed of four or five elements (fire, water, earth, wind, and aether) was almost universal in the ancient world. The science and mythology of many ancient civilizations, from Greece to Japan, operated on this understanding.

    While Islam is not really married to the idea of four elements (it is not supported in an explicit way in the Quran or hadiths), it is interesting to note that Islamic metaphysics and cosmology use this system.

    This is especially the case in the spiritual world. The jinn are made from a smokeless Fire, the humans are made from Earth (Teen), and the soul (ruH) comes from the word for Wind (reeH). The Throne of Allah was settled upon Water (11:7), until that water was separated into the heavens and earth. The angels are from light (Noor, a word related to Nar).

    Allah does not raise a prophet except that he speaks the language of his people. He may have used these literary devices to explain a realm that is ultimately beyond our understanding (ghayb). The Quran is a book that needs to be intelligible to people, especially when speaking on the unseen and unknown.

    While the universe is simply not made up of H2O, the image of Water as a fluid, clear, shapeless structure is befitting to understanding the world. In physics, the concept of fields (gravitational, spatial) operate largely on fluid mechanics. “Water” is a chaotic substance that was then categorized, compartmentalized and distinguished into the world we know today.

    Similarly, a simple sample of the water (saliva) in your body can create an entire profile of who you are: your DNA, and therefore, your family lineage, your appearance, your susceptibility to diseases, and even parts of your personality.

    There are some things that are beyond literal and metaphorical. The dichotomy of literal and metaphorical is sometimes not just inaccurate, but harmful to our readings of scripture.

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    [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]

    Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!

    Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all. 

    In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress.

    Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).

    For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.

    In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.

    The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.

    A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.

    [More to follow, Part 2..]

    So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?

  2. Muntazir e Mahdi
    Latest Entry

    کتنوں کو تم اس فانی جہاں میں سختیاں دو گے؟

    کتنوں کو تم اس زندگی سے جلد جدا کرو گے؟

    اے ظالموں سنو، تمہارے تو وارث بھی نہیں

    مظلوم کے وارثوں کو تم تو جانتے تک بھی نہیں

    اگر جان لو انہیں تو تم کچھ نہ سہہ سکو گے

    ہاں اب منتظر سے دُور ہمارا دَور بھی نہیں

  3. image.png.1291f409319eafadcd54499bb06e1e3f.png

     

    I will start by giving a very simplified functional subdivision of the human Central Nervous System. Based on function, human brain can be divided into three areas

    1.     Brain stem: Brain stem is an upward continuation of spine. It is concerned with functions like controlling heart rate, regulation of blood pressure, breathing and some digestive functions to name just a few. Some of these are vital functions so an injury to brainstem could mean immediate death. That is why special care is taken to stabilize the neck in road traffic accidents.

    2.     Limbic System: This is a group of structures in our brain which together are involved in controlling behavior and emotions- Anger, pleasure, fear and punishment, reward, rage, curiosity, hunger, satiety, sexual drive, motivation and passivity. All of these come from the limbic system.

    3.     Cerebral Cortex: This is what we call the higher brain in laymen terms. It performs the ‘executive functions’. The prefrontal cortex(PFC) occupies the anterior portion of the frontal lobes and is thought to be one of the most complex anatomical and functional structures of the mammalian brain.

    • All living creatures have some system for maintain vital body functions like breathing in place of brainstem.
    • All vertebrates possess a limbic system so dogs, cats and other animals are able to feel and express emotions.
    • Amongst vertebrates the only classes to possess the characteristic cerebral cortex are mammals (and some reptiles, lolz, so the conspiracy theories about the world being controlled by an elite group of reptiles could turn out to be true)
    • Amongst the mammals Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) bestowed the humans with the most highly developed cerebral cortex of all its creations on earth. When I say highly developed I don’t mean size or surface area relative to body, I mean functionally development and intellectual capabilities. Humans are probably intellectually highest of all the earthly species created by Allah.

     It is because of this highly developed cortex that humans sit at the top of the hierarchy and have been called ‘Vicegerents of Allah’ on earth. Of course, not any two footed being in human form can be the vicegerent of Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). He also has to manifest divine attributes in both his private and social life.

    So our cerebral cortex is capable of ‘higher mental functions’ like thinking, abstraction, planning, decision making and controlling the limbic system! This last function is probably its most important function.

    The brainstem functions are not under our conscious control. Obviously we cannot tell our bodies increase or decrease the heart rate or blood pressure. Higher mental functions are almost always voluntary.

    The limbic system sits on the the borderline between brain stem and cerebral cortex both structurally and functionally (the word limbic means borderline in latin) What does this mean? This means that we can choose to exercise control over our behavior and emotions using the executive powers of cerebral cortex or we can let the limbic system run loose and let it do whatever it wants in which case a human would be expressing a range of unbridled emotions anger, curiosity, sexual drive etc

    Let’s look at some differences in capabilities of humans vs animals which are manifested by virtue of an intellectual cortex and are important from a religious perspective.

    1.  Animals are incapable of learning about haram and halal. That’s why Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) didn’t make it obligatory on them to respect these boundaries.  It is the cerebral cortex and its associated areas which give the humans the capability learn this and differentiate between the two in various life situations. But if the humans choose not to utilize the cerebral cortex for this purpose and let their limbic system(emotions) take over, they lose the differentiation and in those instances they are acting like animals. This can easily be observed in the most primal of behaviours like consuming food and copulating and also in advanced actions like earning rizq through unlawful means.
    2. Animals cannot be taught moral and ethics. If your pet dog steals a piece of meat you can arouse feelings of fear and punishment in it but you cannot teach him why stealing is wrong. This is again due to the absence of the cerebral cortex that humans possess and probably this is the reason why animals won’t get punished for misconducts in the akhirah like humans.
    3.  Animals cannot differentiate between tahara and nijasat. Again this is something which is a function of cerebral cortex. Physical purity is something which is very crucial in Islamic faith.
    4. The principles of mahram/namehram can only be comprehended by humans.

    Looking at the above we can see how intellect elevates humans from the level of animals to vicegerents of Allah. Maybe this is why most of things that are counted as sins in islam are in principle limbic system(emotions) overriding the cortex(intellect)

    • Anger- limbic system taking charge,
    • Zina and haram lust – limbic system taking over humans,
    • Consuming haram food and even stuffing yourself with halal food- limbic system satiety centre gone out of control,
    • Curiosity-  Even though the mechanism behind curiosity isn’t very well understood because it is difficult to differentiate curiosity from information seeking but what research has discovered so far is that a part of the limbic cortex is involved in both regulation and reward that is associated with curiosity(1). In Surah Hujraat (49:12) Allah forbids us from spying and ‘Tajassus’ but if limbic system is not controlled the person could be snooping around other people’s affairs, just like an animal would sniffs and examines any object in vicinity.
    • Gambling – During gambling intellectual areas of the brain like prefrontal cortex show less activity than limbic areas depicting a link between gambling and limbic system(2) What’s interesting is that in an animal study conducted on gambling ,some species of animal demonstrated the same choices and psychological behavior as pathological gamblers. So, when Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) made gambling haram it was probably to not let humans reduce themselves to animals.
    • Drinking –Alcohol impairs functioning on the prefrontal cortex, disrupts normal pattern of neuronal activity required for decision making and thinking and hence leads to limbic system taking over. This is manifested a as lack of inhibition in people commonly observed in people who has ingested alcohol.(3)

    If we look at Jihad bil nafs in medical terms it’s just a battle between limbic system and cerebral cortex.

    Looking at the lives of Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) we won’t find any instance where we see limbic system ruling over them. There is a famous incident where in the battle of Khandaq, where Imam Ali(عليه السلام) was on Amr bin abde Wud’s chest and about to kill him but then he abused Imam Ali(عليه السلام). At this Imam Ali (عليه السلام) moved from Amr’s chest and walked away. After the battle was over people asked Imam Ali(عليه السلام) the reason why he had spared Amr’s life when he had first overpowered him. At this he replied,” When I had floored him, he abused me, as a result of which I was overcome by rage. I feared that if I were to kill him in that state of anger, it would be for pacifying my anger. So I stepped away from him till my fury subsided when I returned to sever his head from his body only for the happiness of Allah and in obedience to Him.” (Manaqib Al Abi Talib by Ibn Shahrashub)

    In Sahifa e Sajjadiya, Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) has described three types of worshippers

            i.  Those who worship Allah because of fear of hell

           ii. Those who worship Allah to get to Jannah

          iii. Those who worship Allah because they find Allah worthy of worship.

    He(عليه السلام) says the third is the highest form of worship. Why? Because the first two are worship of punishment and reward (limbic system worships) while the third is the worship of intellect (Prefrontal cortex). 

    So if we learn to control our limbic systems through reflection and worship gradually, we gain power over our nafs and then no amount of worldly temptation and desires can then take us away from out true purpose, that is submission to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

    (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/

    (2) https://neuroanthropology.net/2009/05/23/gambling-and-compulsion-play-at-your-own-risk/#:~:text=For gamblers%2C the gambling references,high” from an emotional response.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593065/

  4. [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?

  5. 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.

    Quote

    A better way to measure the damage caused by such a medical crisis is to look at “excess mortality”: the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause, and the historical average for the same place and time of year. 

    https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/16/tracking-covid-19-excess-deaths-across-countries?gclsrc=aw.ds&gclid=CjwKCAjwtqj2BRBYEiwAqfzur2tUrpRWyXzItjBIDYv-RFBwlzlIBVnQk1155kR7aHJPymSI5DGvcRoCKvkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    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.

    Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 16.08.09.png

    https://www.ft.com/content/f6a11fcd-0445-4643-9d3c-24d5fc0611da

    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.

    Conclusion

    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.

     

  6. Sometimes we forget to be grateful for many of the blessings God has decreed upon us that if we were to thank him for countless days and nights, it would never be sufficient. Some of us may not realise that despite living in a house where our parents have different mindsets that complicate many aspects in life, perhaps during their time they had it far more worse. We forget that they have gone through immense pressure trying to give us a life far more opportunistic than theirs, yet they fail to realise how a lot of their customs prevents us from seeking opportunities in the first place. Think about the conservative societies they used to live in the past century and how difficult it was to overcome. Perhaps our parents think that their way of upbringing will lure us away from the demonised world, to save our mental stability and hence they carry their past teachings and culture to the next generation. On the contrary, that belief has torn us apart.

    Our parents have survived war, signed myriad of papers and fought with the Western laws to seek a better environment for themselves and future offspring. We know that our families cannot seem to fathom our changes as we develop. They believe we are steering out of the line of honour and family reputation that if a slight error was committed then it would be spread throughout the entire community. You end up hearing tales and calumnies from storytellers who often find it entertaining to dwell in the affairs of others. The values and customs I have been raised in believe that a family's dignity and privilege is held by the eldest daughter where her wrongdoings mean familial destruction. Whilst having a good reputation at some point is crucial to living a substantial life, parents forget that our unexpressed feelings matter more than pleasing an egoistic community. 

    In Islam, one of the major sins is the displeasing of parents, where their anger is equatable to God's. Surely we must strive to respect them as they become elders, despite the levels of irritability we receive almost everyday. We are taught to maintain patience and that is further learnt more deeply during adolescence. Even so, a lot of the times one has knowledge of what is right yet still choose to divert into the path of wrong. An example is when our parents infuriate us, it results in retaliation rather than remaining quiet and calm. Understandably, nobody wants to hear someone create quite vague assumptions and further jump to the worst conclusions. That is one of the nuisances we normally find within parents.

    From past personal experience, despite my OCD was likely of being genetic, I discovered that the strategies my parents used to make the entire family adhere to religion were often uncompromising. They believe using threats will make their children stand firm towards God and whilst I partially agree, the end result may be discrepancy. I've always loved being a Muslim. Observing full hijab from a very young age, praying at night outside the backyard beneath His illuminating creation whilst holding the sacred Qur'an in my hands. I thought I felt undeniable peace, but was it truly as peaceful as it sounded like?  I was on attack the minute I stood onto my prayer mat or opened a supplication prayer. Those rampaging thoughts destroyed my inner peace. It seemed like I was a saintly servant of God, but the reality was that I was hurting deep down without even figuring out the cause. After recovery, a part of me came to conclusion as to what had led to these doubts and whispers in the first place. It somewhat was in relation towards my parent's upbringing, where I had noticed the number of threatening remarks they used in relation to God made me believe that I was obliged to add in the extra effort and consistency towards my prayers and other obligations. However, a number of times they had caught me in such a state and tried to give me solid advice that I am already pious enough in the eyes of God. And yet I always felt like I did a mistake in my ablution that led to repetitive cleansing.  

    Then again, we are far more mature than to be constantly blaming parents for our actions. I criticise myself for being too naive and turning small situations into extreme ones. The truth is nobody else is at fault but ourselves because we have full control over our own actions. We are willing to blame others for our mistakes in order to escape guilt or responsibility. Parents may have played some role in the way we have turned out to be, yet we know ourselves way too well as adults that most of it is our own fault, Maybe we did not realise that controlling our thoughts and actions could have been taken into our own hands if only we did not let all that negativity consume us.

     

  7. Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IqraOnlineBlog/

    Original post: https://www.iqraonline.net/dialogue-with-believers/

    An epidemic harming our communities is the general inability, hesitance & fear of engaging in dialogue with one another. In fact, in recent years, it appears there has been a significant increase in our communities engaging and initiating inter-faith dialogue, yet we do not see this phenomenon within our own communities. This is while we need such initiatives perhaps even much more so than inter-faith. We lack the ethics and etiquette of engaging in dialogue with other believers and this naturally weakens, distances and breaks up our communities on various fronts. This is of utmost concern particularly for the diaspora that is already in a vulnerable position – and things do not seem to be getting any better. Dialogue is not simply “speaking” – speaking is not the issue, in fact, many of us speak and have a lot to say, and our pulpits are occupied all year long with trained scholars, untrained lecturers and academics speaking.

    A dialogue will generally have these three elements:

    1) Two or more people
    2) A subject of dispute or a subject that needs clarification
    3) An expectation that the result of dialogue will either be in favour of you and/or the other party, or not (depending on the conclusion).

    When dialogue does not take place, the results we observe are usually the belittlement of others, insults, accusations and rumours, swearing, and in fact, a lack of dialogue can even lead to physical confrontations, wars and bloodshed. These are of course all horrible consequences, particularly when the victims are no other than our selves. These consequences show that the subject of dispute was not resolved or there was no capacity to engage in a dialogue to begin with.

    Why do we not engage in dialogue amongst ourselves? Are those who we disagree with amongst the believers so off the mark that we need to maintain a position against them like we should do with those who are genuine enemies of our belief? This is most often not the case at all and only in extremely exceptional circumstances do we have to encounter such groups of people – at which point it would be difficult to even classify them as believers. In the Treatise of Rights, Imam Sajjad (a) says that people of your creed enjoy the following rights over you:

    The right of the people of your creed is harbouring safety for them, compassion toward them, kindness toward their wrong-doer, treating them with friendliness, seeking their well-being, thanking their good-doer, and keeping harm away from them. You should love for them what you love for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself. Their old men stand in the place of your father, their youths in the place of your brothers, their old women in the place of your mother, and their young ones in the place of your children.

    Neglecting dialogue over matters of contention, more often than not, results in the trampling of some or all of these rights. So what prevents us from engaging in dialogue? Perhaps one or more of the following preliminaries required for dialogue do not exist:

    1. The need to recognize other believers as noble creations of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Verse [17:70] says Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the children of Adam nobility and honour. In some of our communities, we see believers giving a lot of respect to Sayyids and this is not for any reason except for the fact that they are connected to the Prophet (p) through a chain of many generations. However, it behooves us to realize that we (and creation as a whole) are connected to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) directly (or as per certain schools of philosophy, we are the very connection itself). Looking at another believer through the lens of dishonour and painting them as ignoble will not lead us anywhere and signifies a much greater spiritual problem.

    2. Acknowledging that humans are different from certain aspects – gender, ethnicities, tribes, physical and spiritual capacities, affinities, tastes etc. We have two types of Sunnah (pl. Sunan) – the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Sunnah of Allah. The Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) are divided into two: there are some Sunan that only become applicable when humans bring them upon themselves through their free-will; for example, the increased bestowal of guidance once we have wilfully chosen to come into Islam -

    [47:17] As for those who are [rightly] guided, He enhances their guidance.

    [19:76] Allah enhances in guidance those who are [rightly] guided.

    There are some Sunan of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that are absolute, not conditioned to the free-will of man. One of these Sunan is His creating us different. These differences are one of the necessary conditions for trial and tribulation to have any meaning in this world.

    [5:48] …and had Allah wished He would have made you one community, but [His purposes required] that He should test you in respect to what He has given you…

    [6:165] It is He who has made you successors on the Earth, and raised some of you in rank above others so that He may test you in respect to what He has given you.

    As such, it is normal that even within the same worldview, there will be times people reach different conclusions and do things differently. Acknowledging this opens the door to considering certain points of contention worthy of engagement. On the contrary, allowing these contentions to break us apart may very well be a sign that the believers are failing in their trials.

    3. The lack of desire to engage in Ṣulḥ - to reach a conciliation and compromise. Ṣulḥ is often discussed in the context of resolving personal disputes and ironing out details of settlements, or as a treaty for halting warfare. But the general principles of Ṣulḥ can also be used to resolve larger community disputes – as was common in the Muslim world in the past and continues to be the case in many rural places. However, this generic understanding of Ṣulḥ only works if parties involved have a desire to discuss their disputes in a sincere manner (the details and mechanisms of Ṣulḥ have been discussed in detail in their appropriate places). One should not see the mere existence of differences as necessarily going against the command of holding on to the rope of Allah [3:103] - these two are reconcilable on many occasions as the scholars have mentioned. The absence of Ṣulḥ breaks and fragments the communities of the believers.

    4. Reality is too vast and not all of it is in our hands. At any given point we have only understood certain aspects of it and that as well to a certain degree, not absolute reality –

    [17:85] and you have not been given of the knowledge except a little.

    We need to acknowledge that there are other perspectives and there is genuine room for these perspectives to be justified within an Islamic framework. The vastness of reality should alone be enough to humble and soften us to engage in dialogue with another party amongst the believers. The delusion of having uncovered all of the truth regarding a certain matter and behaving as if no one else could possibly say anything that would add anything to our knowledge is a deterrent and barrier for dialogue.

  8. Khudi

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    I wish to share my thoughts on the concept of Unity. To do that, I have a perspective which is a cumulation of all the experiences of my life put together. My perspective may have a bias since it is a combination of the realities that I have lived and observed at different points in time.

    In order to explain my thoughts, I am compelled to make the best use of my language skills. I believe the English Language is one of the most, if not THE most spoken languages in contemporary times. I start off by introducing myself to the reader. I like to think of myself as a being that is subject to constant evolution. Evolution in the form of mind, body, brain, soul, spirit, etc.

    So in order to understand me, the reader should have a basic understanding of the concept of Unity, Duality, Multiplicity, and Infinity.

    Since only certain things can be explained at any one point in time (because time is relative), my goal here is to explain the concept of Unity.

    In Arabic (the language of the Arab people), Unity is analogous to the concept of 'Tawhid'.

    But in order to continue in English, I will have to proceed and due to my limitations to explain this concept, and the readers' limitations to understand this concept, I will have to improvise.

    Understanding Unity via Duality can be done in countless ways. The way I wish to do so is through the relativity of time. Basically, in order to explain Unity to you, I will keep time as a constant for a short period of time. It is at my discretion (at present) to pick a point in time to explain to you the concept as I am the speaker and you are the listener (presumably).

    The point of time that I pick is one from history. I have picked it because of its significance in countless ways, depending on the observer of time. The date I've picked is the 10th of October 680 C.E (Common Era).

    Since I am explaining Unity through Duality, I would now like to divide the recording of time in history via two methods already used. The Gregorian Calendar (the 12 months commonly used today, supposed to have marked the beginning of the Common Era, following the birth of Jesus Christ) and The Hijri Calendar (the 12 months commonly used by the Muslim population of the world, following the migration of Muhammad to Mecca).

    10th of October in the Gregorian Calendar coincides with the 10th of Muharram in the Hijri Calendar. More specifically, 10th October 680 C.E = 10th Muharram 61 A.H.

    Since we are now keeping 'time' a 'constant', we have limited 'space' to keep making progress.

    So, in a few words, Unity explained via Duality means that at it's most basic, yet Absolute, Unity means two things (keeping in mind that time is NOT a constant). As we understand, Unity exists via space relative to time. I repeat, Duality of Unity is known in contemporary times as the Space-Time continuum.

    Do we understand the Space-Time continuum? Maybe, maybe not. I'd prefer to think that we do understand this continuum. You, me, we, all of us understand it in a different way.

    Coming back to time. To conclude this, on the 10th of October 680 C.E. (10th of Muharram 61 A.H.), an event took place.

    ONE event, best explained to be a combination of Infinite events, held at the same point in time for Existence to comprehend the Infinite potential of mankind in the form of Duality.

    The Duality of Right vs. Wrong. The Duality of Truth vs. Falsehood. The Duality of Being a Creation Vs. The Creator.

    As long as we can compel ourselves to observe all of history via the concept of Unity and applying Duality at it constantly, it will only be by a miracle that we don't/can't SEE the truth, HEAR the truth, FEEL the truth.

    Anything and Everything else is just pure coincidence.

    The End.

  9. Needless to say, before we can perform our duty against bid'ah, the pre-requisite step is to be able to see and identify it. How many people are aware of the dangers of bid'ah but due to lack of understanding are nevertheless a victim of it. The reason is that bid'ah is extremely deceptive - it is disguised as a praiseworthy act that promises to earn abundant reward for the performer and bring him closer to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام). The deception is increased because we see each and every Shia around us performing these acts. To add to this, the popular scholars keep promoting bid'ah as their standing and livelihood depends on it. 

    It is sad to say that bid'ah has been so strongly established in the Shia religion that the actions performed under it are now considered to be pillars and foundation of religion. Anyone who dares speak against these actions risks being ridiculed and ostracized. If a Shia were to give up all the innovations practiced in the name of religion, he would find himself isolated, cut-off and lonely. But such is the path on which a true Shia must tread in order to prove his loyalty to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام).

    Please refer to our previous two articles on bid'ah:

        Definition and Scope of Bid’ah
        Dangers of Bid’ah


    Scholars must speak against bid'ah

    Quote

    رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إذا ظهَرتِ البِدعُ في اُمّتي فلْيُظهِرِ العالِمُ علمَهُ ، فمَن لَم يَفعلْ فعَلَيهِ لَعنةُ اللّهِ

    Rasool Allah (s) said: When the innovations appear in my community (ummah), the scholar must manifest his knowledge (I.e. speak against them). So the one who does not do so, upon him be the curse of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

    [Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 2]

    Quote

    امام على عليه السلام : أفضَلُ عِبادِ الله إمامٌ عادِلٌ، هُدِِِىَ، فَأقامَ سُنَّةً مَعلومَةً، وأماتَ بِدعَةً مَجهولَةً

    Imam Ali (عليه السلام) said: The most virtuous of Allah's servants near Allah is a just leader, who is guided and guides others, and who has established the known traditions, and who has abolished the doubtful/problematic (majhool) innovations.

    [Nahjul Balagha, Serman 164]

    Quote

    رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : من أتى ذا بدْعةٍ فعطَّمهُ فإنَّما يَسْعى في هَدْمِ الإسلام

    Rasool Allah (s) said: If one comes across an innovation and appreciates it (sides with it), so rather he has assisted in the demolition of Al Islam

    [Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 3]


    We must disassociate from the people of bid'ah
    Below is a very strong hadith that highlights the danger of bid'ah.

    Quote

    مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ أَبِي نَصْرٍ عَنْ دَاوُدَ بْنِ سِرْحَانَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص إِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ أَهْلَ الرَّيْبِ وَ الْبِدَعِ مِنْ بَعْدِي فَأَظْهِرُوا الْبَرَاءَةَ مِنْهُمْ وَ أَكْثِرُوا مِنْ سَبِّهِمْ وَ الْقَوْلَ فِيهِمْ وَ الْوَقِيعَةَ وَ بَاهِتُوهُمْ كَيْلَا يَطْمَعُوا فِي الْفَسَادِ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ وَ يَحْذَرَهُمُ النَّاسُ وَ لَا يَتَعَلَّمُوا مِنْ بِدَعِهِمْ يَكْتُبِ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ بِذَلِكَ الْحَسَنَاتِ وَ يَرْفَعْ لَكُمْ بِهِ الدَّرَجَاتِ فِي الْآخِرَةِ

    The Messenger of Allah (s) said: When you will find people of bid'ah (innovation) and doubt/suspicion after me, do baraa' (disassociate) from them and increase in your insults (sabihim) to them, and oppose (them) and bring evidences against them so they may not become greedy in bringing fasaad (corruption) to Islam. You must warn people against them and do not learn their bid'ah (innovation). Allah will write for you hasanaat (good deeds) for this, and will raise you darajaat (levels) in the next life.

    [Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Belief and Disbelief CH 163 H 4]

    Quote

    أَبُو عَلِيٍّ الْأَشْعَرِيُّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْجَبَّارِ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ أَبِي نَجْرَانَ عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ يَزِيدَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع أَنَّهُ قَالَ لَا تَصْحَبُوا أَهْلَ الْبِدَعِ وَ لَا تُجَالِسُوهُمْ فَتَصِيرُوا عِنْدَ النَّاسِ كَوَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص الْمَرْءُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ وَ قَرِينِهِ

    Abu Abd Allaah (عليه السلام) said: Do not befriend the Ahl Al-Bid'ah (People of Innovation), and do not sit with them, so you may become like one of them (according) to the people. The Messenger of Allaah (s) said: A man is upon the religion of his friends and associates.

    [Al Kafi V 2 – The Book Of Belief and Disbelief CH 163 H 3]


    Aabid vs Aalim

    Quote

    رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله :  فَضلُ العالِمِ عَلى العابِدِ بِسَبعينَ دَرَجَةً، بَينَ كُلِّ دَرَجَتَينِ حُضْرُ الفَرَسِ سَبعينَ عاماً ؛ و ذلكَ أنَّ الشّيطانَ يَضَعُ البِدْعَةَ لِلنّاسِ فيُبصِرُها العالِمُ فَينهى عَنها، و العابِدُ مُقبِلٌ عَلى عِبادَتِهِ لا يَتَوَجَّهُ لَها و لايَعرِفُها

    The Prophet (s) said: The knowledgeable man (aalim) is superior to the worshipper (aabid) by seventy degrees, the distance between two degrees spanning the gallop of a horse for seventy years; and this is because Satan plants an innovation (bid'ah) amongst the people which the knowledgeable man (aalim) notices and prohibits, whilst the worshipper attends to his worship neither taking any notice of it nor recognizing it.

    [Rawdhat al Waaizin, #17]


    An Aalim abolishes bid'ah because of his knowledge of the hadith. His knowledge leads him to limit his actions to those dictated by the Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) and will never overstep the defined boundaries. Of all the popular speakers today who are quick to jump on to the Mimbar, how many are true Aalims as defined by Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام)?

    (Also published on blog: https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/08/24/our-duty-against-bidah/)

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    Ya Rab! I never claimed that I am your absolute obedient, neither I say that I fulfill rights of my family and those around me. But, at least I keep a heart that hates my wrongdoing and is afraid of your punishment and your rejection. I am faqir in the world of piety, having no wealth to spend except remorse at my disobedience and I have always been keeping my eyes on the rich among the pious with eyes like that of a beggar who looks at the rich only if he pay attention to me and give me some from what you have granted him. I am disaster for myself, sinner who has no hope in himself. Several times you have saved me from my own mistakes yet I am not learning to be obedient. Who will help me if not you, while I have no hope in your creation among whom everyone is a player vying for their vested interests becoming trial for each other to ascertain what is his peer ? Sinner trying to find more sinners to appease his heart that he is not the only sinner and boastful good-doer trying people so that he can boast that no one is more righteous than him. I am one who say that I am absolute sinner mourning over my sins and biting my own hands as to why wasn't I much enlightened at the first place. Will you make me your humble servant, Ya Rab! knowing that I am a sinner yet I repent and feel bad and detest myself. Please forgive me for the sake of Ahlebait (عليه السلام).

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: 'Allah revealed to Dawud(as): " When one of my servants resorts to me and not to anyone of My creation, I know that from his inner intention, such that even if the skies and the Earth and their inhabitants were to conspire against him, I will make an outlet for him in spite of them. And when one of My servants resorts to one of my creatures, I know that too from his intention, such that I cut off the means of subsistence of the skies from him, and I will make the Earth disintegrate from under him, and do not care in which valley he perishes."'  al-Kafi,v.2, p.52,no.1.

     

    Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: ' Whoever from among the servants of Allah devotes himself towards that which Allah loves, Allah too devotes Himself to that which he loves. And whoever resorts entirely to Allah, Allah protects him, and whoever turns towards Allah, Allah accepts him and protects him, such that whether the sky was falling upon the Earth, or a calamity was to befall all the inhabitants of the Earth, he would in the Party of Allah, secure from all calamities. Indeed,does not Allah say: "Surely those who guard against evil are in a secure place?"' (Qur'an 44:51)   al-Kafi,v.2,p.53,no.4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

  13. Reflections

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    Bakir
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    Tolerance is inherently moral and necessarily social. And it can only be applied to people who are different, people you wouldn't consider part of "your" group. It is taught, a developed moral characteristic that may become part of who you are. We aren't born tolerant though, and that is why so many groups of influence have tried to develop this concept of group. Fascism itself is based on it. Our natural intolerance spreads as the worst virus if there are no forces to put an end to it. This is what sociology, so far, has been able to appreciate in the concept of tolerance at a macro-social level, and it has its reasons.

    If tolerance is not natural to us, but rather "homophily" (the preference of those with similar characteristics: race, socio-economical class, ideology, etc.), then tolerance is a trait that we can only develop through education, and only if we find it any useful or right.

    In the Qur'an it was already pointed that we were created in different groups:

    "O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another." (Surat al Hujurat)

    So I can just expect that for an early Arabic society this indeed meant a call for tolerance for a religion that was going to spread across many nations. It was useful. However, nowaday, this is not what we, as individuals, face. Living in a globalized world, being connected by the Internet and its very own culture, tolerance seems less and less necessary and useful. Ideologies and groups compete between each other, and a call for tolerance is against the efforts to reinforce that feeling of group. It isn't useful for many. Not to mention that tolerance is a highly difficult trait to acquire, as it requires great efforts of empathy. Ask yourselves to which point can you accept the different? And I don't mean their mere existence, most don't care about that. I mean tolerating someone different that is part of your life, in some way or another. We have always been taught to be tolerant when it has been useful, but not because it is good, because it is morally right. Because it is not among the interest of any group of influence. Groups, as the master of history and sociology of the Muslim world once said, Ibn Khaldun, have only one goal: power.

    That's why, even revolutions, that are supposed to be the fight for ideas, end up in some sort of fascism and/or dictatorship. Even when the people that lead them truly wanted free elections (modern history is full of examples of this, it is something we can't avoid). They are still necessary, though, for the progress of ideas.

    What happens, however, in our societies? In the West, tolerance has been imposed as something useful, but racism, mysogyny, LGBTphobia, etc. are still realities that many people even hate to discuss (many people attack feminism, for instance). In the Muslim world, tolerance died centuries ago, and an enormous amount of groups appeared. We are still reinforcing through our culture this intolerance, based on unreasonable discrimination: country of origin, skin color, studies, amount of money, gender, sexuality, beliefs, family/tribe name, etc. You can realize this inability to accept the different for instance in the topic of marriage, at what type of characteristic will people, parents, or ourselves if we have sons or daughters to marry, will look at. And it's not always the obvious (like don’t be racist). It is usually ideological. We can't accept other mentalities because we weren't taught about that, because the group we belong to doesn't want that.

    Tolerance isn't only about accepting black people, or trans people, or seeing women as equals. People will probably try to appear as tolerant in that sense, because it is useful for them. However, as a moral trait, these people are not genuinely tolerant, but conveniently civilized. Real tolerance is being able to respect others by their opinion, beliefs, lifestyle, and of course, biological circumstances. Accept them as long as you are not tolerating the intolerant.

    This conflict is paradoxical, and it is a well known paradox in social sciences (originally proposed by Karl Popper). The problem with tolerating the intolerant, as I said at the start of this entry, is precisely how fast and easily their intolerance spreads (because it is natural). As individuals and iA as free thinkers, we should fight to develop tolerance within ourselves and condemn intolerance even when it is present in those people who are part of "our" group (be it our racial "group", ideological, whatever). Intolerance isn't a joke, it's a social human and moral issue of high importance, and has always shaped our destiny.

    Thus, I can only advise my readers to dedicate some time to observe that aspect of their hearts, if they behaved in a tolerant manner, identify our errors, ask for forgiveness to the Most Merciful, and ask him to guide us and make us more aware of being tolerant when we are, again, tested in life. Remember to ask Him to guide me as well, iA.

  14. Haji 2003
    Latest Entry

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  15.  

    Salaam,

    I had the privilege and honor of going to Umrah a few weeks ago. Having completed my hajj in 2010, it was time to pay Hijaz another visit to pay my respects to the Prophet (saw) and his progeny in Madinah and visit the House of Allah in Makkah.

    Hopefully the pointers below will help anyone planning on going for Umrah.

    First, if you haven't been to Saudi before, it is best to go with a registered group. It will make things easier for you because other than following instructions, there shouldn't be much to worry about..Also, if you don't speak arabic or urdu/hindi/bengali, then it would be better to go with a registered group because language can be an issue in some places.

     Anyway, I decided to go with my family instead of a group. The primary hurdle in going to Saudi is getting a visa. These are things to remember:

    • We had to apply to a local consulate but individual travelers cannot apply on their own. The visa application has to be submitted through an authorized travel agency.
    • Even though the Umrah visa is free, these agencies charge between $175 - $200 per person for visa.
    • Also, note that you can only apply within 30 days of going for umrah.
    • You need to buy non-refundable return tickets before applying.
    • The other mandatory requirement is to get a meningitis vaccination. CVS, Walgreens or RediClinic can do this without a prescription. Without insurance, it will cost between $150-$200. Get the vaccination record from the Pharmacy and submit it with your application.
    • Common sense would dictate that you buy your tickets once visa approval is obtained but not in this case.
    • Visa application usually takes about 1 week to process...might take longer during busy times.

    Next decision is where to fly in/out from. If you decide to go to Makkah first, you will have to fly into Jeddah. Since Jeddah is inside the meeqat***, you will have to wear your ihram from the point of origin. So we chose to fly into Madinah first.

    I would recommend either Turkish Airlines or Emirates. We flew Emirates from the US. We had a 5 hour layover in Dubai so we went out of the airport and had a nice dinner. US Citizens do not need a visa for Dubai (UAE).Came back to the airport around 11p for our 105a flight to Medinah.

    Day One:

    We arrived in Madinah around 345a, got out of the airport by 445a. Since we were not part of a group, I made arrangements transportation arrangements with or hotel. It took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel right next to Masjid Al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Holy Prophet).

    We stayed at Hotel Pullman Zamzam Madinah. Fantastic 5* hotel with great rooms and awesome breakfast. The only downside to the hotel is that it is on the opposite end of the Ladies entrance to the mosque so it took the ladies about 15 minutes to walk to the mosque. The hotel did provide a shuttle service for women at regular intervals.

    After checking-in, we took a quick shower and made our way to the Mosque just in time for Fajr - individual, not jama'ah.

    MN1.jpg

    MN2.jpg

    After every salah every day, the Saudis open Jana'at Al-Baqi for an hour or so. Much to my surprise, the Saudis were fairly relaxed in letting people get in, recite dua/ziarat albeit quietly and even take pictures.

    Imam Hasan (as), Imam Sajjad (as), Imam Al-Baqar and Imam Al-Sadiq are buried here.

    JB1.jpg

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    If I am not mistaken, I think Hz Umm-al-baneen is buried where I have drawn the red circle:

    JB3.jpg

    Went back to our hotel around 7am. We ate breakfast and finally went to bed after a 24 hours journey.

    We woke up around 3pm and went to the Prophet's mosque for zuhrain. We prayed some other prayers so got back to the hotel around 430p. We rested a bit more and then made our way back to the mosque for maghribain around 7p. Once again, we stayed there for around 2 hours and then had dinner and then back to the hotel.

    We are recommended to pray full zuhr/asr/isha in Medinah.

    Day Two:

    After taking an early night, we headed to the Prophet's mosque around 2am where we prayed salat-e-layl and other prayers. Returned to our hotel just after fajr. Our schedule for the rest of the day was the same as the previous day. However, there are other ziarats in Madinah one can visit:

    • Masjid al-Shams
    • Masjid al-Zul Qibltayn
    • Masjid al-Quba
    • The Saba Saba Masjids
    • Masjid al-Fatah
    • Masjid Salman al-Farsi
    • Masjid al-Ali A.S.
    • Masjid al-Bidi Fatimah Zehra A.S.
    • Ohud – Hazrat Hamza A.S.

    Day Three:

    I stayed in the Prophet's mosque from 130am - fajr. I had the honor to pray salat-e-layl in Riyad-al-Jannah (Piece of heaven) - it is adjacent to the Prophet's grave. After salah, I went to Jana'at-al-Baqi for Ziarah al-wida (Farewell ziarah).

    We rested for a couple of hours, had breakfast and then made preparations to head to Makkah for Umrah.

    The main thing required is to perform a ghusl with the niyyah (intention) Niyyat: “I am doing Ghusl for the following for wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Sunnat Qurbatan Ilallah”. You cannot use scented soap when doing this Ghusl.

    The next step is to wear the ihram. Ihram for men - consists of two pieces of white cloth and for ladies their usual daily wear is their Ihram, but it is highly recommended that it be white as it is the sign of purity.

    Please not that even though one is wearing the ihram, the niyyah for Ihram is done later.

    We bought our ihram in Medinah for about $20 (60-75 Saudi Rial).

    We checked out of our hotel to make our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. I made transportation arrangements while in Medinah. It cost just under $200 for a personal mini-van.

    We stopped at Ohud for 15-20 minutes for a quick ziarah of Hz Hamzah's grave.

    ohud1.jpg

    Then we made our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. This is a designated point of wearing ihram per sharia. There are 6 other places as well in different parts of Saudi.

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    MS1.jpg

    If you are already wearing ihram, you can take off the top portion and put it on again and make the niyyah (intention):

    I am wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Illallah”. Immediately after making the niyya, recite the talbiya (calling) in arabic:

    Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik, 
    Labbaik La Sharika Laka Labbaik,
    Innal Hamda WanNe’amata Laka Walmuka 
    La Sharika Laka Labbaik

    This is to be recited as many times as possible until you reach the vicinity of Makkah.

    After wearing the ihram and reciting talbiya, proceed to the inside of the Mosque and recite 2 rakat salat with the niyyah, "Offering 2 rakat salah for wearing ihram qurbatanillah".

    Once you adorn the ihram and make the niyyah, there are about 25 things that become haraam upon a person.

    Once we completed our prayers, we made our way towards Makkah, reciting talbiya as much as we could.

    One thing to note is that in Shia fiqh, men ar enot allowed to travel under shade during the day while in ihram.so it is advisable to plan your journey such that you arrive in Masjid-e-Shajarah around maghrib. If traveling during hte day, then there is a kafarah (penalty) of 1 sheep.

    We made a couple of stops on our way to Makkah which was about a 5 hour drive (430km or 250m)

    Day Three - Arrival in Makkah:

    We arrived in Makkah around 5pm. Since we had already prayed zuharain en route, we decided to rest a bit in our hotel. We woke up, did ghusl made our way to the Holy Kaaba around 730p. One has to be in wudu (or ghusl) for tawaf.

    We prayed maghrib and isha and then started our umrah. These are the steps for umrah:

    1) Perform tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba 7 times. The niyyah (intention) is:
    I am going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah.
    Since the masjid has several floors, it is important to remember that we can do tawaf on any floor as long as your height is below the top of the kaaba.

    2) Upon completion of tawag, recite 2 rakat salat-e-tawaf behind the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Ibrahim) - recited just like fajr
    I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf of Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah

    3) Perform Sa'ae (wudu not necessary). This is where you walk from Safa'a to Marwa 7 times (about 3.5km in total). Niyyah (intention) is:
    I walk between Safaa and Marwah, seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
    Going from Safa'a --> marwa = 1
    Marwa --> Safa'a = 2
    Safa'a --> marwa = 3
    Marwa --> Safa'a = 4
    Safa'a --> marwa = 5
    Marwa --> Safa'a = 6
    Safa'a --> marwa = 7

    So you start at Safa'a and end at Marwa.

    4) Once Sa'ae is over, the next step is taqseer (cuting part of mails of hair). Niyyah is:
    I am performing Taqseer so as to be relieved of Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah

    It is best to do the 4 steps without too much of a break in between them. At this point, you can take a break and even take of your ihram.

    5) Whether you take a break or not, the next step is to perform tawaf-e-Nisa. Everyone has to do this - young/old, man/woman, married/unmarried, etc.). Niyyah is:
    I am doing Tawaaf-un-Nissa by going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah

    6) Last step is to perform salat tawaf-e-Nisa. Niyyah is:
    I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf-un-Nissa for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah

     

    k1.jpg

    The entire umrah took about 2 - 2.5 hours to complete.

    This is the completion of the umrah. 

    After completing our umrah, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.

    Day Four:

    We went to the Kaaba about 2 hours before fajr to perform Sunnah tawaf (each tawaf is 7 rounds). After each tawaf, reciting salat-e-tawaf is obligatory. You can make the intention of perfomr tawaf for others alive or deceased. This day was spent between our hotel and performing salah+tawaf throughout the day. There are other ziarah to be performed in makkah:

    • Ka’aba
    • Hajr al-Ismail
    • Hajr-ul-Aswad
    • Makaam al-Ibrahim
    • Zam Zam
    • Hills of Safa and Marwa
    • Janatul-Mualla
    •     Janab al-Khadijatul Kubra
    •     Janab al-Abu Talib
    •     Janab al-Abdul Mutalib
    •     Hazrat Abdullah
    •     Hazrat Amina Bint al-Wahab
    • Masjid al-Jinn
    • Cave of Thawr
    • Cave of Hira
    • Jabal al-Rahmah
    • Muzdhalifa or Ma’shar
    • Munna
    • Masjid al-Kheef - In Munna

    We were able to perform the green ones above. We also had the opportunity to pray salat in the hateem which is not always open. We were able to touch the kaaba several times including rukn-e-Yemeni (corner from where Hz Fatima bint Assad went inside the kaaba to deliver Hz Ali (as).

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    Pic in hateem under the kaaba

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    Cloth of the kaaba - it is actually pieces of cloth sewn together instead of a very large piece of cloth.

    Day Five:

    We performed our final prayers and then checked out of our hotel to go to Jeddah airport. We flew from Jeddah --> Dubai and stayed there overnight, then flew back to the US.

    Summary:

    I was pleasantly surprised that the Saudis were pretty lenient this time.People were free to pray and take pictures as they wanted...for the most part. I would recommend taking salah, dua and ziarah information on your phones rather than books.

    I will also try to upload the guidebook I used for most of the trip.

    Please let me know if you have any questions. I tried to cover the most important aspects of umrah.

    Your Personal Guide to Hajj Umrah Ziyarat .pdf

     

  16. 118358-004-FCDF2FD1.jpg

    (Wolff, 2018)

    The languages of the world can be divided into families and sub-groupings. This means that several groups of languages can be thought to be related due to recurring and predictable patterns observed throughout them. These can be related to both grammar and phonology. What this means is that these languages descend from a proto-language and possible this language descends from a larger grouping. What happened was that the speakers of the proto-language started moving away from each other, and in a time before literacy, let alone wide spread dissemination of printed material and a standardized educational system, before people would leave their homes to work in the big city and return (before towns even!), and before our modern technology which keeps us connected, the speakers of a language just started speaking differently. This could have happened in several ways, sound changes for vowels are some of the simplest, think of how differently British people and North American people pronounce the word "far". Consonantal phonemes (sounds) can be dropped or added, you can also have grammatical innovations which make up for something lacking in the proto-language (e.g. the creation of a definite article) or a simplification of something in the proto-language (maybe a complex case system is dropped, or at the least reduced), though it's important to remember these are sporadic and things are traded off for one another, languages don't just become "simpler". Within no time Group A can no longer understand Group B anymore. A linguist will determine this using the comparative method, this requires looking at the different languages and comparing them for regular patterns to ascertain genetic (in a linguistic sense) relation. There is one limitation to this, the comparative method can only work compare changes made within a few thousand millennia, after 7000-10, 000 or so years it ceases to be very reliable as it cannot account for a change being due to genetic relation or just coincidence. There are some languages which are isolates, meaning they lack genetic relation to any language we know of. This doesn't mean they emerged out of nowhere, rather their relatives went extinct before we could get any record of them.

    Linguistics today classify Arabic as one of the Afro-Asiatic languages (also called the Hamito-Semitic languages in older literature). This language family is perhaps one of the oldest that we know of, the proto-language, Proto-Afro-Asiatic, was spoken sometime around 15, 000 BCE. This language family includes the Semitic languages (of which Arabic is a member), the Egyptian languages (both Ancient Egyptian and Coptic), the Berber languages, the Cu[Edited Out]ic languages (including Somali), the Chadic languages, and possibly the Omitic languages. Now, when this proto-language was spoken, how exactly it split into its daughter-languages, and in what order that happened is something debated by linguists (a video that shows some possibilities), but the connection between these languages has been observed for a very long time. The first person to observe the similarities between these languages was Judah b. Quraysh (fl. c. 9th century), a Jewish Rabbi with knowledge of Aramaic, Arabic, and Hebrew and noticed their similarity to the Berber languages spoken in Algeria. The eminent 19th century German philologist, Theodore Benfey, went on to demonstrate a systematic relationship between the Ancient Egyptian language and Semitic languages (Rubin, 2013). Such correspondences can be observed in grammatical features, such as several of the Afro-Asiatic languages having a construct state (إضافة, for those of you who might have studied Arabic grammar), this is an exceedingly rare construction indicating possession, it is only found outside the Afro-Asiatic family in a single Nilotic language. In the Afro-Asiatic family, the construct-state is found in the Semitic languages, the Berber languages, and the Egyptian languages. They also share a root system for their morphology, and similar nominal systems for their nouns. We can also compare vocabulary to find a proto-word that developed into cognates across various languages. One such reconstruction is the word "les" (meaning tongue, this root will remain italicized), it appears in the Semitic languages originally as Lišān (and this further developed from there), in Egyptian as ns and later in Coptic as les, in the Chadic languages as ḥalisum, ʾVlyas, and lyas, and in a Cu[Edited Out]ic language as milas (Orel & Stolbova, 1995).

    Arabic can further be classified as a Semitic language. This language family is believed to be about 6000 years old and is thought to have originated in South-West Asia. There are a number of features common to the language, including shared verb stems (the أبواب), a case system of nominative -u, accusative -a, and genitive -i (found preserved in Classical/Middle Arabic, Ugaritic, and Akkadian), and a root system with shared roots between these languages¹. Arabic fits into these languages as a West Semitic languages, meaning it is excluded from being one of the East Semitic languages (the Akkadian languages or Ebalite). It is also a Central Semitic language, so it is excluded from the South Semitic languages which include the Modern South-Arabian languages, the Ethio-Semitic languages, and the Ancient South Semitic languages. It splits from the other Central Semitic languages, which go on to become the North-Western Semitic languages including Ugaritic, Aramaic, and the Canaanite languages (including Hebrew and Phoenician). What distinguishes Arabic from the other Central Semitic languages are 14-19 linguistic innovations not found in other Central Semitic languages, these include:

    • The loss of the independent first person pronoun "ʾanāku" (Arabic only preserves the proto-Semitic "ʾanā")

    • Replacing mimation with nunation (تنوين), meaning, a nūn is fixed to the end of words (in the form of tanwīn), not a mīm, such as what can be found in Hebrew.

    • The preposition  (in) is derived from the word for "mouth" (فم).

    • The development of the mafʿūl passive participle.

    A full list can be found in Ahmed Al-Jallad's forthcoming article, "The Earliest Stages of Arabic and its Linguistic Classification".

    Now with an understanding of language families and Arabic's Afro-Asiatic and Semitic context you have a foundation for exploring the development of Arabic as we know it. We are left, however, with the need to know who the speakers of this language were and where they lived. We're now ready for the next part of our historical epic. Join me next time!

    إلى لقاء

     

     

    Footnotes:

    ¹ A cool resource to look at different Semitic roots is this website. You can search roots and compare cognates across various languages.

    Citations:

    Wolff, H. E., (2018, May 14). "Afro-Asiatic languages", Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Orel, V. E., & Stolbova, O. V., (1995). Hamito-Semitic Etymological Dictionary: Materials for Reconstruction.

    Rubin, A. D. (2013). "Egyptian and Hebrew", Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. Geoffrey Khan (ed.).

  17. لالالالایی گل داوودی

    عموی خوبت میاد به زودی

    لالالالایی گل آلاله

    طفل شش ماهَم چقدر بیحاله

    لالالایی گل ارکیده

    دستای عمو چرا بریده؟!

    لالالالایی گل اطلسی

    دلم گرفته از این بی کسی

    لالالالایی گل نیلوفر

    گل زیبایم چرا شد پرپر؟!

    لالالالایی گل پیچکم

    چشماشو بسته طفل کوچکم

    لالالالایی گل نسرینم

    بدون تو من خیلی غمگینم

    لالا کن لالا ای گل صحرا

    چطور سر کنم بی تو امشب را؟!

    لالا کن لالا, عزیزم حالا

    با اون دو بالِت, میری اون بالا

    برو فرشته! جات تو بهشته

    برو نازنین! این دنیا زشته

    لالا کن لالا, فرزند خورشید

    زیبا خورشیدی که خوش درخشید

  18. Was Hisham Responsible for the Murder of al-Kadhim?

     

    Hisham Culpable

    There exist narrations in our sources which hold Hisham responsible (directly or indirectly) for the murder of al-Kadhim عليه السلام by the Abbasid authorities. He stands accused of continuing to engage in public debate despite an explicit order from the Imam for him to refrain from doing that. He went on making waves in Baghdad such that the authorities took notice of the Shia and extended their talons towards the Imam.

    علي بن محمد قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ايت هشام بن الحكم فقل له: يقول لك أبو الحسن: أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم فإذا قال لا فقل له: ما بالك شركت في دمي؟

    • Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Go to Hisham b. al-Hakam and say to him: Abu al-Hasan says to you: Are you pleased that you take part (have a role) in the murder of a Muslim man? If he says ‘No’ then say to him: Why do you take part in my murder?  

    More detail about this delegation of Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to Hisham is provided in the report below:

    جعفر بن معروف قال: حدثني الحسن بن النعمان، عن أبي يحيى وهو إسماعيل بن زياد الواسطي، عن عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج قال: سمعته يؤدي إلى هشام بن الحكم رسالة أبي الحسن عليه السلام قال: لا تتكلم فإنه قد أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم، قال: فما بال هشام يتكلم وأنا لا أتكلم، قال: أمرني أن آمرك أن لا تتكلم وأنا رسوله إليك. قال أبو يحيى: أمسك هشام بن الحكم عن الكلام شهرا لم يتكلم ثم تكلم فأتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: سبحان الله يا أبا محمد تكلمت وقد نهيت عن الكلام! قال: مثلي لا ينهى عن الكلام. قال أبو يحيى: فلما كان من قابل، أتاه عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج فقال له: يا هشام قال لك أيسرك أن تشرك في دم امرء مسلم؟ قال: لا، قال: وكيف تشرك في دمي، فان سكت والا فهو الذبح؟ فما سكت حتى كان من أمره ما كان صلى الله عليه

    • Ja’far b. Ma’ruf – al-Hasan b. al-Nu’man – Abi Yahya (Ismail b. Ziyad al-Wasiti) – Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj. He (Abi Yahya) said: I heard him (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) relaying to Hisham b. al-Hakam the message of Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام saying: Do not speak - for he (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain from speaking. He (Hisham) said: Why should Hisham (b. Salim) speak but I should refrain?! He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) said: He (the Imam) has ordered me to order you to abstain and I am his messenger to you.
    • Abu Yahya said: Hisham b. al-Hakam abstained from speaking for a month then resumed again. Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him and said to him: Glory be to Allah! O Aba Muhammad - You engage in theological disputations while you have been forbidden from it! He (Hisham) said: the likes of me cannot be forbidden to speak!
    • Abu Yahya said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to him after a year and said to him: O Hisham - he (the Imam) says to you: Are you pleased to participate in the murder of a believing man? He (Hisham) said: No. He (the Imam) says: then how come you are participating in my murder! For if you are to remain silent (murder can be avoided) but if not then it will be slaughter
    • (Abu Yahya comments:) but he did not refrain until it happened to him (the Imam) what happened! 

    Even Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام is quoted as holding Hisham squarely responsible in the murder of his father:

    محمد بن نصير قال: حدثني أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسين ابن سعيد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: أما كان لكم في أبي الحسن عليه السلام عظة ما ترى حال هشام بن الحكم؟ فهو الذي صنع بأبي الحسن ما صنع وقال لهم وأخبرهم، أترى الله يغفر له ما ركب منا

    • Muhammad b. Nusayr – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Ahmad b. Muhammad (b. Abi Nasr) – Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: Is there not for you in (the case of) Abi al-Hasan (al-Kadhim) a warning! What do you think is the state of Hisham b. al-Hakam? For he is the one who did to Abi al-Hasan what he did, and he informed them and divulged to them (the secrets of the Madhhab). Do you think Allah will forgive him what he has perpetrated on us!

     

    Hisham Explains

    It is clear that this accusation levied against Hisham became widespread and needed a response from the pro-Hisham camp. Let us look at what Yunus (the principal exponent of Hisham's school) has preserved for us when he confronted his master directly about it.

    حدثني حمدويه، قال حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام أصحابك يحكون أن أبا الحسن عليه السلام سرح إليك مع عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج أن أمسك عن الكلام و إلى هشام بن سالم قال: أتاني عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و قال لي يقول لك أبو الحسن عليه السلام أمسك عن الكلام هذه الأيام، و كان المهدي قد صنف له مقالات الناس و فيه مقالة الجواليقية هشام بن سالم، و قرأ ذلك الكتاب في الشرقية و لم يذكر كلام هشام، و زعم يونس أن هشام بن الحكم قال له: فأمسكت عن الكلام أصلا حتى مات المهدي، و إنما قال لي هذه الأيام فأمسك حتى مات المهدي

    • Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham - Your companions (fellow Shia) relate that Aba al-Hasan عليه السلام sent (a message) to you via Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj saying ‘stop speaking’ and also (the same message) to Hisham b. Salim.
    • Hisham said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj came to me and said to me: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام says to you: Stop speaking in these days. For it was authored for al-Mahdi (the Abbasid Caliph) (a treatise which contained) the different theological stances of the people. In it was the stance of the Jawaliqiyya (followers of) Hisham b. Salim. That treatise was read in the Sharqiyya (Eastern quarter) and it did not mention the stance of Hisham (b. al-Hakam).
    • Yunus asserted that Hisham b. al-Hakam said to him ‘I stopped speaking totally until al-Mahdi died, for he (the Imam) had said to me ‘these days’.
    • Thus he stopped until al-Mahdi died.   

    More detail about what Hisham said to Yunus in his defense is available in the report below:

    وحدثني محمد بن مسعود العياشي قال: حدثنا جبريل بن أحمد الفاريابي، قال: حدثني محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، عن يونس قال: قلت لهشام انهم يزعمون أن أبا الحسن عليه‌ السلام بعث إليك عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج يأمرك أن تسكت ولا تتكلم، فابيت أن تقبل رسالته، فأخبرني كيف كان سبب هذا؟ وهل أرسل إليك ينهاك عن الكلام أولا؟ وهل تكلمت بعد نهيه إياك؟ فقال هشام: انه لما كان أيام المهدي شدد على أصحاب الاهواء، وكتب له ابن المفضل صنوف الفرق صنفا صنفا، ثم قرأ الكتاب على الناس، فقال يونس: قد سمعت هذا الكتاب يقرأ على الناس على باب الذهب بالمدينة، ومرة أخرى بمدينة الوضاح. فقال ان ابن المفضل صنف لهم صنوف الفرق فرقة فرقة، حتى قال في كتابه: وفرقة منهم يقال لهم الزرارية، وفرقة منهم يقال لهم العمارية أصحاب عمار الساباطي، وفرقة يقال لها اليعفورية، ومنهم فرقة اصحاب سليمان الاقطع، وفرقة يقال لها الجواليقية. قال يونس: ولم يذكر يومئذ هشام بن الحكم ولا أصحابه، فزعم هشام ليونس ان أبا الحسن عليه‌ السلام بعث اليه فقال له: كف هذه الايام عن الكلام فان الامر شديد، قال هشام: فكففت عن الكلام حتى مات المهدي وسكن الامر، فهذا الذي كان من أمره وانتهائي الى قوله

    • Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Jibril b. Ahmad al-Fariyabi – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Yunus who said: I said to Hisham: They claim that Aba al-Hasan عليه‌ السلام sent Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj to you ordering you to keep silent and not to speak (in defense of the Madhhab) but you refused to accept his message to you. Inform me what was the reason for this? and did he really send to you prohibiting you from speaking or not? and did you speak after his prohibition?
    • Hisham said: Back in the days of al-Mahdi - he (the Caliph) severely restricted those he considered heterodox. Ibn al-Mufadhal wrote for him a treatise outlining all the different sects one after the other, this treatise was then read to the people.
    • Yunus said: I heard this treatise being read to the people at the Golden Gate in the city (Baghdad) and also another time in the town of Wadhah.
    • Hisham continued: Ibn al-Mufadhal authored for them (the authorities) the classification of all sects one after the other, such that he even said in his treatise ‘a sect among them called Zurariyya, a sect among them called Ammariyya the companions of Ammar al-Sabati, a sect called Ya’furiyya, a sect consisting of the companions of Sulayman al-Aqta, and a sect called the Jawaliqiyya’. Yunus said: He (Ibn al-Mufadhal) did not name Hisham b. al-Hakam or his companions at that time.
    • Hisham asserted to Yunus that Aba al-Hasan عليه‌ السلام had sent to him a message saying ‘abstain from speaking in these days for the matter is serious’.
    • Hisham said: I stopped speaking until al-Mahdi died and the matter became settled, this then is what he had ordered me to do and my abiding with his command.  

    This is a very important report because it gives us a glimpse of the socio-historical context of the time, the prevalent need for Taqiyya, the names of the most important companions of the Imams and their ‘Madhhabs’ (which as has been clarified are not really ‘sects’ in the traditional sense). It shows us that the Imami community was vibrantly engaged in theological argumentation such that they came under the radar of the authorities of the day.

     

    To Blame or not to blame

    Returning back to the all-important question - did Hisham have a role in al-Kadhim’s death? There certainly was a historical memory among some in the community that held him responsible. The fact that Hisham gained infamy as a Shi’i debater with a combative style must have attracted a lot of attention towards the Shia.

    However, the more specific information given by Hisham himself seems to vindicate him. He interpreted the Imam’s instruction as a temporary order and obeyed it by abstaining from ‘speaking’ for a certain time during al-Mahdi’s Caliphate before resuming.

    In any case, the fact that the Imam al-Kadhim was murdered in Harun al-Rashid’s time and the role of Muhammad b. Ismail b. Ja’far (al-Kadhim’s nephew) is more suggestive.  

    It is no surprise to find that the Yaqtin family, specifically the Ubaydi brothers, who were also members of Hisham and Yunus’s school, supporting him against this charge as the report below indicates:

    و حدثني حمدويه بن نصير قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى العبيدي، قال حدثني جعفر بن عيسى قال: قال موسى الرقي لأبي الحسن الثاني عليه السلام: جعلت فداك روى عنك المشرقي و أبو الأسد أنهما سألاك عن هشام بن الحكم فقلت ضال مضل شرك في دم أبي الحسن عليه السلام فما تقول فيه يا سيدي نتولاه؟ قال نعم. فأعاد عليه نتولاه على جهة الاستقطاع قال نعم تولوه نعم تولوه، إذا قلت لك فاعمل به و لا تريد أن تغالب به، اخرج الآن فقل لهم قد أمرني بولاية هشام بن الحكم، فقال الرقي لنا بين يديه و هو يسمع ألم أخبركم أن هذا رأيه في هشام بن الحكم غير مرة

    • Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa al-Ubaydi – Ja’far b. Isa who said: Musa al-Raqqi said to Abi al-Hasan the Second (al-Ridha) عليه السلام: May I be made your ransom - al-Mashriqi and Abu al-Asad relate from you that they had asked you about Hisham b. al-Hakam so you said: “Misguided and Misguiding others. He participated in the murder of Abi al-Hasan”. So what do you say about him O My Master - should we associate with him? He said: Yes. He (Musa) repeated the same question aiming to obtain certainty - ‘should we associate with him?’ He said: Yes. Associate with him. Associate with him. If I tell you something then abide by it and do not seek to overturn it. Go out now and say to them (those assembled): He has ordered me to associate with Hisham b. al-Hakam.
    • Al-Raqqi said to us in in front of him (the Imam) while he (the Imam) was listening: Did I not inform you that this (i.e. approval) was his opinion of Hisham b. al-Hakam - more than once!? 
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