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In the Name of God بسم الله
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Four Elements
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.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Respect Words
We often mumble, curse, use slang words, and say anything that comes to mind, but Allah and His Messenger continuously gave words their needed reverence.
The Quran starts with the command to read (iqra'). Allah could have revealed the teachings of Islam directly to our minds, but instead, He chose to present these teachings in the form of speech and written word.
Allah brought about the creation with the word "be!"
When Allah created Adam, He taught him all of the names (2:31), and Adam thereafter taught the names to the angels. Allah distinguishes humans with their ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings (55:3-4). While some animals share some characteristics with humans, nothing can be compared to the complexity of human speech.
When Moses became a prophet, he first prayed for the ability to speak clearly (20:25-28), and Allah granted that to him so that he may succeed in his mission. Allah's favour on Moses was that He spoke directly to him.
Lady Mary vowed to fast from words (19:26), yet we feel comfortable running our mouths all the time.
The Messenger of Allah (s) said that he had been commissioned with "succinct language" (جوامع الكلم); expressions that are comprehensive yet condensed, designed to deliver full meanings with few words. As a Prophet with a weighty assignment, he made sure that his words were unambiguous and direct, yet eloquent and nuanced at the same time.
Imam `Ali [a] said to his scribe, "Put cotton flake in the inkpot, keep the nib of your pen long, leave space between lines, and close up the letters, because this is good for the beauty of the writing." 315. وَ قَالَ عليه السلامة لِكَاتِبِهِ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِى رَافِعٍ: أَلِقْ دَوَاتَكَ وَ أَطِلْ جِلْفَةَ قَلَمِكَ وَ فَرِّجْ بَيْنَ السُّطُورِ وَ قَرْمِطْ بَيْنَ الْحُرُوفِ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَجْدَرُ بِصَبَاحَةِ الْخَطِّ .
Imam Ja`far [a] said, "Write 'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful' with your finest handwriting, and do not extend the ba', so that the seen may be lifted." Meaning, make the seen visible, and do not extend the ba' to the meem as done in shorthand. اكتب بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم من أجود كتابك ولا تمد الباء حتى ترفع السين
Imam Ja`far also said, "Express our words clearly, for we are an eloquent people." أعربوا كلامنا فإنا قوم فصحاء
Words constitute the shahada, words constitute salat, and words constitute du`a'.
Since Allah has honoured the spoken word, it's time that we do the same:
Think before you speak.
Speak the truth.
Maintain your promises.
Keep the tasbeehat and salawat on your tongue.
Give each vowel, letter, word, and sentence its haq.
Write your words legibly.
Beautify your expression.
Your mouth is like a womb that gives birth to meaning, so take care of your offspring, because they will represent you in your absence.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, What We Should Learn From the Nation of Islam
When Elijah Muhammad went to court and the judge asked him about his aim and purpose, he said he was going to make Black America Islamic. The judge said that making black people Muslims was like putting pants on an elephant. Elijah Muhammad said, "I got one pant-leg on already."
In 2012, my student society invited the late grandson of Malcolm X, Malcolm El Shabazz, to speak at our university. I had some knowledge of his grandfather’s history, having watched Spike Lee’s legendary 1992 biopic, but I did not have a thorough understanding of the history of Islam in America. His appearance at the University of Toronto drew in a large audience.
We spoke briefly before his speech about the cold Toronto weather and his seminary studies in Syria, and I bought him two coffees – a double-double and an iced cappuccino. It was probably too cold for the iced cap, but it was a signature Canadian beverage at Tim Hortons that we felt he may enjoy. After the speech, Malcolm expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome, and even called me “a sincere brother”.
Although Malcolm El Shabazz had the tenacity of his grandfather, he was a troubled young man. After a life of run-ins with the police, Malcolm was killed in 2013 at a night club in Mexico under peculiar circumstances. At the time I had just finished reading The End of American Lynching by Ashraf Rushdy, which details the history of racial oppression in America. The loss of this new friend prompted me to devote some time to studying the Civil Rights Movement – a story of persecution, loss, and eventual healing and rejuvenation.
I was skipping university readings to flip through books, papers, and videos that pertained to contemporary black history. I found the topic to not only be socially relevant, but spiritually uplifting and inspiring. The story of suffering ex-slaves fighting fearlessly for their inalienable rights spoke to me. The Nation of Islam taught that the black man was robbed of his name, language, culture, country, God, and religion. Their spirit and valour could only remind me of the Israelite bondage in Egypt, or the Arabian Age of Ignorance. Nations are born out of trial and tribulation. Eventually, people pull together in tough times for a greater good, and they can find success even when all they have on their side is a kernel of truth.
There are some obvious and irreconcilable differences between traditional Islamic theology and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Sunni and Shia Muslims feel queasy at the suggestion that God’s attributes were manifest in Master Fard Muhammad, that all whites are devils, and that Elijah Muhammad was the messenger of God. These issues aside, there is much to learn from the Nation of Islam’s example. They were arguably the most successful and the most socially-relevant Western Islamic movement in history.
By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam had nearly two million members, almost all of whom were converts from a Christian background. The fact that many victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade were Muslim perpetuated the idea that Islam was the proper religion of the African American. Malcolm X was able to present the Nation of Islam’s enigmatic teachings to the public in a way that highlighted the need for separation, independence, and sovereignty for black people. Within a few short years, Malcolm X’s wit, charm, and hard work brought hundreds of thousands of people to the organization. The organization was still growing exponentially even after the controversy surrounding Malcolm’s assassination.
In 1974, the Nation of Islam owned enough assets to create a budding, self-sufficient community: over one hundred and fifty mosques, over forty schools, a newspaper plant, farms, a bank, apartment complexes, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, a national trucking system, and an aviation department. Whether or not territorial independence was viable, the Nation of Islam created an independent subculture and economic unit. This frightened the U.S government. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover actively tried to sabotage the movement and “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” In 1996, then-Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi offered to give the group one billion dollars, until the donation was blocked by the Clinton administration. Still, the unmatched coordination of the Nation of Islam attracted the brief support of the D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing.
In 1995, the Nation of Islam held the historic Million Man March rally in Washington DC, which brought leading African American figures together to demand justice and reproach, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Jesse Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright.
The group’s unique diet was one of the primary means by which Master Fard Muhammad and the Nation of Islam were able to hook-in African American converts. The diet not only cut down food expenditures during the Great Depression, but it purported to have improved the general health of adherents.
Master Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad developed a strict diet that makes a traditional Muslim diet look easy. Not only did the Nation of Islam fast and abstain from pork and alcohol, but they only ate one meal per day. This was done to prepare adherents for the possible severity that national independence or apocalypse may cause. To improve their general health, Black Muslims mostly ate vegetables, fish, whole-wheat bread, and chicken; and they would avoid all non-halal and non-kosher meats. Even beef and potatoes were to be avoided for being too coarse and too starchy respectively.
Every member of the Nation of Islam is put into one of two institutions: males became part of the Fruit of Islam (FOI), and females became part of the Muslim Girls’ Training (MGT) program. The FOI is a paramilitary force with its own hierarchy that is trained to protect and provide provision for the Nation of Islam. They wear distinct blue uniforms and provide security for social and religious functions. The MGT educates women on home economics, housekeeping duties and self-defence.
There is a strong sense of responsibility in the sect that reportedly commands respect and better job opportunities for black people. Indeed, devotees to the movement were encouraged to be clean, well-spoken, obedient, fearless, and abstinent from intoxicants and other vices – all traits that employers would give preference to, especially during tough economic times.
The emphasis on self-knowledge and self-emancipation, which was probably borrowed from Marcus Garvey, gave an urgent sense that black people should not wait for America to do for them what they can do for themselves. They would commonly ask, why rely on your ex-slave masters when you could pool in your own resources to build a future for your people?
The Nation of Islam was undoubtedly a realist organization that did not buy into Martin Luther King’s “dream” of an integrated America. After all, they believed that Caucasians were flesh-and-blood devils that Allah would soon destroy, and so whites were to be seen as rivalling competitors rather than potential allies.
Furthermore, unlike Black Lives Matter, the Nation of Islam puts a special emphasis on uplifting African American males from drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence, and hook-up culture. The perceived downfall of black men due to social ills was the primary motivation for the Million Man March.
What could traditional Muslims learn from this example?
The Nation of Islam proved that Muslims could be brazen and unapologetic; and not have to rely on co-opting forces in the political system to thrive in the West. Despite governmental censures on the organization and its leaders, the Nation of Islam produced Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Warith Deen Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan, who collectively introduced millions of people to the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. The subculture the sect created heavily influenced the worlds of sports, music, and intermittent dieting in America.
The Nation of Islam sought to give a religious hue to the issue of civil rights. As people of faith, we don’t see all suffering as simply a result of natural or systemic causes. Rather, some suffering has a divine function that includes trial, refinement, and chastisement. The Million Man March’s major themes included “Affirmation and Responsibility” and “Atonement and Reconciliation”, which emphasized that a return to traditional values and religious duties would bring about Allah’s succor and uplift legitimate grievances. Malcolm X’s example in particular shows that daʿwa cannot exist in a vacuum; but rather it has to be complimented with a socially-relevant message.
The reformative power of our religion is something that many traditional Muslims are forgetting. The Nation of Islam targeted addicts, sex-workers, inmates, and broken families, and turned them into productive and upright citizens. They knew that their teachings, which are heavily influenced by the Quran, could “resurrect” their people. On the other hand, immigrant communities often neglect and ostracize Muslim individuals for their marital status, education, poverty and past crimes or sins. One must remember that the Prophet Muhammad never walked away from his people, despite the debauchery that they took part in jahiliyya.
Muslims in North America and Europe should not only be passport-carrying doctors and engineers, but a self-sufficient international community with its own sense of purpose, loyal only to our own values and worldview. The Umma is the true shining city on the hill, and that light could foist the second pant-leg on.
 Mitchell, John L., and Jack Chang. “Searching for Mecca.” Vice, Vice, 13 Dec. 2013, www.vice.com/en_ca/article/dpwpz7/searching-for-mecca-0000178-v20n12.
 Austin, Allan. African Muslims in Antebellum America, A Sourcebook. New York: Garland Press, 1984.
 Saviour's Day 1974. YouTube, YouTube, 17 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VnhCjzbQ.
 Farley, Jonathan David. “Preventing the Rise of a 'Messiah'.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Apr. 2008, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/preventingtheriseofamessi
 Dorothy Gaiter, “Nation of Islam Tries to Accept gift of $1 Billion from Libya, The Wall Street Journal, 26 August 1996, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB841007141275125500
 “D.C. HIRES NATION OF ISLAM GUARDS FOR SE COMPLEX.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 May 1995, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1995/05/04/dc-hires-nation-of-islam-guards-for-se-complex/04352e30-6ad8-48fc-8de5-57a1283b7647/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f2b7a21a48a5.
 Beynon, “American Journal of Sociology.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 43, no. 6, 1938, pp. 895, 906.
 Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 89
 https://books.google.ca/books?id=9oVPoV8OyJYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=how+to+eat+to+live&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiR_876hePdAhVHrFMKHVsbCigQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=beef&f=false page 4 and 11
 Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 87
 “The Final Call.” Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave, www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Ibn Al-Ja'abi for a blog entry, A History of the Arabic Language: A Family to Belong To
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 fī (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!
¹ A cool resource to look at different Semitic roots is this website. You can search roots and compare cognates across various languages.
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.).
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Problems and Solutions in Da`wa
While we start any da`wa project, it is important to understand our environment. A da`i should not just comprehend this religion, but should have a grounded understanding of the history of Western civilization (its Greco-Roman and barbarian roots, Christendom, the Enlightenment, Westphalia, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, WW1 and WW2, nationalist and communist movements), pop culture, language, the liberal arts, the history of Muslim-Western exchange, and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is very important that the right words are used and that the right issues are addressed.
Da`wa is not just about proselytizing to outsiders, but also to our youth, our children, and converts. As it is right now, most of our mosques offer individualistic spiritual experiences, and lack welcoming communal programs (tutoring, matchmaking, book clubs, humanitarian services, schools, gyms, labs, social events). Mosques are also mostly segregated by culture, language, marja`, class, and gender; which leaves out many youth and converts. So even if we use the correct method to call people to Islam, there are fundamental problems when receiving these individuals. Any da`wa effort must work hand-in-hand with community advancement efforts; the two must occur simultaneously.
In my experience, certain converts have an easier time integrating than others. Converts from Arab, Desi, and Afghani backgrounds can usually integrate into existing communities that cater towards them. Those who convert through the marriage route also have a family and community to fall back onto (although abuse or divorce can be catastrophic). Others however face a lot of difficulty due to language barriers, culture shock, trust issues in our communities, and being unable to find spouses. Those from a Catholic background have some more compatibility, because Catholic culture is communally-oriented, family oriented, civilizational, offers less-ambigious gender roles, etc. Black converts and Anglo-Saxon converts have a lot of trouble from multiple angles.
Often times, the ground that is most fertile for da`wa efforts is Latin America and African Americans; these are the people accepting Islam and Shiism in higher numbers. It is important to translate more content into Spanish.
The most successful "Muslim" movement in the West was the Nation of Islam, which was a black nationalist movement that focused their efforts on social programs for drug addicts, prison inmates, the homeless, the mentally and physically ill, gangs, etc. They reached out to the most exploited people in the population and gave them social services, self-respect, and an uncompromising ideology. Studying their example, their successes and their failures, may help us in our endeavour. Read the Autobiography of Malcolm X or watch the Spike Lee movie "Malcolm X". Activism is contagious - the NOI was 75% social activism and 25% theology; perhaps we can learn something from that example.
Today, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Civilization is shedding its Christian and Mediterranean roots: The separation of Church and State, the deliberate destruction of Christian values in pop culture, Latin and Greek are gone from schools (which were the basis of ethics, philosophy, and religion), the family unit is dissolving, quasi-tribalist nationalism is on the rise, gender norms are dissolving, city architecture is purely designed for utility and economic benefit rather than beauty (look at New York or Toronto and compare it to traditional Catholic or Islamic architecture), and the Muslim population in Europe is under attack. Yeomanry and the Protestant work ethic remain the cornerstone of WASP culture.
The millennial generation struggles with identity, apathy towards organized religion, instant-gratification, hook-up culture, short attention spans (smart phone culture), depression, and the collapse of a collective intellectual mythology.
Interfaith debate and dialogue is no longer an effective way to gain converts, as most millennials either do not adhere to an organized religion, or they do not take their religion seriously. Instead, da`wa should focus on exposing the cultural poverty, rampant skepticism, lack of purpose, and aimless degeneracy of modern secularism. We should look into what goes viral on social media to better understand what millennials care about. Our mission is to guide those whose hearts are troubled. We will always meet opposition from the hard-hearted, but the open minded who are looking to regain their fitra are out there.
In the 60s and 70s, Islam had a chance to gain mainstream acceptance in the West. The West was getting over Christianity, and was experimenting with Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. Islam caught the eye of many who viewed it as a more familiar Abrahamic alternative to the far-eastern religions. However, what prevented the growth of Islam was that it was tied to specific movements in the east (the Afghan mujahideen, the Iranian revolution, the Saudi Wahabis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Cause). Similarly, in the late 19th century, many da`wa efforts were tied to the Ottoman Empire, and were halted when the Empire collapsed. If we are to present Islam to Westerners, its image should not be tied to the successes or failures of the Muslim world, or to a specific state or specific party. Islam should be an idea and an ethical tradition that is not affected by what goes on in the East. We can praise good efforts, but we should not be associated.
We should emphasize that Shia Islam is distinct from both Salafism (extreme, literalist dogmatism) and aimless secularism (the other extreme). Our effort should be focused on showing the profound beauty and wisdom of our tradition, our creative expression (poetry, architecture), and the dignity of our holy personalities.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Cosmology of Salat
In the beginning, Allahu Akbar - God's Essence is too great to be described (الله أكبر من أن يوصف) ( الله الواحد الاحد الذي ليس كمثله شيء ، لا يقاس بشيء ، ّ و لا يلمس بالاخماس ، و لا يدرك بالحواس). Then, the Fatiha: The Light of Muhammad (s), the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the righteous, and the angelic realm is created, supplicating His holy praises and praying to Him. They all bow in subservience to Him. Then, the first Sujud: We are created from earth after nonexistence. (أللهم إنك منها خلقتنى يعني من الارض ّ) Then, we sit: We rise to live, and our life is marred by mistakes, shortcomings, and sins. We repent and beg God for His forgiveness. (و رفع رأسك و منها أخرجتنا) Then, the second Sujud: We die and return back to the earth for a prescribed time. (السجدة الثانية وإليها تعيدنا) Then, we sit: We praise Allah for bringing us to life after having died. We take our shahada, because it is the foremost matter that we will be questioned about. (و رفع رأسك من ّ الثانية و منها تخرجنا تارة اخرى) Then we bless Muhammad and his Family, and greet the Messenger, for it is their intercession that we will seek on that Day. Then, we greet the righteous servants of Allah, who will be raised with him. Then, tasleem: the greeting of Paradise (tahiyat al-jannah). Salat is the ascension of the believer.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, God = A Body Unlike Other Bodies?
كان من غلمان أبي شاكر الزنديق، وهو جسمي ردي
He was a student of Abi Shakir the Zindiq and a wretched corporealist
- Sa’d b. Abdallah al-Qummi (d. 301) was not a fan of Hisham
A Body Unlike Other bodies
Would not considering God to be a body be likening Him to his creatures (who happen to be bodies)? It is to avoid this that Hisham formulated his compromise as demonstrated in the report below:
محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن علي بن العباس، عن الحسن ابن عبدالرحمن الحماني قال: قلت لابي الحسن موسى بن جعفر عليهما السلام: إن هشام بن الحكم زعم أن الله جسم ليس كمثله شئ، عالم، سميع، بصير، قادر، متكلم، ناطق، والكلام والقدرة والعلم يجري مجرى واحد، ليس شئ منها مخلوقا فقال: قاتله الله أما علم أن الجسم محدود والكلام غير المتكلم معاذ الله وأبرء إلى الله من هذا القول، لا جسم ولا صورة ولا تحديد وكل شئ سواه مخلوق، إنما تكون الاشياء بإرادته ومشيئته من غير كلام ولا تردد في نفس ولا نطق بلسان
Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – Ali b. al-Abbas – al-Hasan b. Abd al-Rahman al-Himmani who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan Musa b. Ja’far عليهما السلام: Hisham b. al-Hakam asserts that ‘Allah is a body - there is nothing like Him. All-Knowing, All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Powerful, Master of Speech, Speaker. Speech, power and knowledge are of the same type (essential attributes), nothing of them is created’. He (the Imam) said: Woe be upon him! Does he not know that a body is limited, and that speech is distinct from the Speaker. I seek refuge in Allah and disassociate to Allah from this doctrine. (He is) Not a body nor a human form. No delimitation (applies to Him). Everything apart from Him is created. The things are brought into existence by His intention and will, without speech, or deliberating in Himself, or intoning by tongue. This indicates that while Hisham maintained that God was a body he tried to escape the error of Tashbih (likening God to His creatures) by defining God as a body incomparable to any thing else and therefore beyond imagination. While we should affirm that He is a body (because God is something) we cannot describe the body further. This makes it clear that all the lurid anthropomorphic descriptions attributed to him are false.
In fact, he was a severe opponent of some of the traditionalist among the Shia and the school of Hisham b. Salim which relied on spurious narrations to ascribe Human form (shape) to God i.e. they understood ‘God creating humans in His image’ literally.
أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد؟ فقلت: جعلت فداك قلنا نحن بالصورة للحديث الذي روي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله رأي ربه في صورة شاب! فقال هشام ابن الحكم بالنفي بالجسم. فقال: يا أحمد إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لما اسري به إلى السماء وبلغ عند سدرة المنتهى خرق له في الحجب مثل سم الابرة فرأى من نور العظمة ما شاء الله أن يرى، وأردتم أنتم التشبيه، دع هذا يا أحمد لا ينفتح عليك منه أمر عظيم
My father – al-Bazanti – al-Ridha عليه السلام who said: O Ahmad, what is the difference between you and the followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam concerning Tawhid? I (Ahmad) said: May I be made your ransom - we hold the position of ‘the human form’ because of the report which is narrated from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله that he saw his Lord in the form of a youth! While Hisham b. al-Hakam denies that and upheld ‘the body’. He said: O Ahmad, when the Messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله was made to ascend to the heaven and reached the ‘Furthest Lote tree’, the veils were rent for him the size of a needle’s eye, and he saw of the Light of sublimity what Allah wished him to see. But you seek by this Tashbih (ascribe an image to him). Leave this O Ahmad, lest something dreadful befall you on account of it. Hisham’s views came to be summed up in the famous dicta:
He is a body unlike other bodies (هو جسم لا كالأجسام)
An Example of Hisham’s Argumentation
None of Hisham’s written works, including his Kitab al-Tawhid (كتاب التوحيد), are available to us. This makes it difficult to speak of his thought as a whole. Instead, we have to rely on fragmentary evidence, such as the report below, to provide insight into his mode of argumentation.
This is done with the caveat that generalizations must be avoided because the narrators might not be conveying the nuance of Hisham’s complex system accurately. Furthermore, Yunus b. Dhabayn is a particularly unreliable narrator (accused of Ghulu) and could very well be biased against Hisham.
محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عن محمد بن إسماعيل، عن الحسين بن الحسن، عن بكر بن صالح، عن الحسن بن سعيد، عن عبدالله بن المغيرة، عن محمد بن زياد قال: سمعت يونس بن ظبيان يقول: دخلت على أبي عبدالله عليه السلام فقلت له: إن هشام بن الحكم يقول قولا عظيما إلا أني أختصر لك منه أحرفا فزعم أن الله جسم لان الاشياء شيئان: جسم وفعل الجسم فلا يجوز أن يكون الصانع بمعنى الفعل ويجوز أن يكون بمعنى الفاعل فقال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: ويحه أما علم أن الجسم محدود متناه والصورة محدودة متناهية فإذا احتمل الحد احتمل الزيادة والنقصان وإذا احتمل الزيادة والنقصان كان مخلوقا قال: قلت: فما أقول؟ قال: لا جسم ولا صورة وهو مجسم الاجسام ومصور الصور، لم يتجزء ولم يتناه ولم يتزايد ولم يتناقص، لو كان كما يقولون لم يكن بين الخالق والمخلوق فرق ولا بين المنشئ والمنشأ لكن هو المنشئ فرق بين من جسمه وصوره وأنشأه، إذ كان لا يشبهه شئ ولا يشبه هو شيئا
Muhammad b. Abi Abdillah – Muhammad b. Ismail – al-Husayn b. al-Hasan – Bakr b. Salih – al-Husayn b. Sai’d – Abdallah b. al-Mughira – Muhammad b. Ziyad who said: I heard Yunus b. Dhubyan saying: I entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: Hisham b. al-Hakam holds a grave position. I will summarize it for you in a few words - He claims that ‘Allah is a body, because there can only be two things: ‘body’ and the ‘action of a body’. It is not possible for the Maker to be defined as an action, but it is permissible to define him as an actor’. Abu Abillah عليه السلام said: Woe be upon him - does he not know that a corporeal body is limited and transient (comes to an end), and that a human form is limited and transient. When he allows the possibility of limits (bounds) then he has allowed the possibility of increase and decrease, and if he allows the possibility of increase and decrease then that one is a created. He (Yunus) said: What should I believe? He said: Not a corporeal body nor a human form. He is the embodier of bodies and the fashioner of forms. He has no constituent parts nor does He perish. He does not increase nor decrease. If He were as they say then there would not be any difference between the creator and the created, nor a difference between the originator and the originated. However he is the originator who differentiated between those whom he made into a body, and others to whom He gave form and those He originated, for nothing is like Him nor is He like anything. To Recap: Hisham’s view was that God is ‘something’ and as such ‘an existent body’. As a body, God can be a carrier of ‘characteristics’, namely His attributes (Sifat) which, are neither He Himself nor are they not He Himself; therefore, they have no independent existence and according to their nature are action.
Or put somewhat differently: there is nothing except bodies and their action (fiʿl). But action is also always caused (fiʿl); for this reason God cannot be action (fiʿl). Therefore, He is a body. One can also turn this the other way round; action, can only come forth from a body; therefore, God must be a body.
The Influence of Abu Shakir al-Daysani
The argument above is so close to what is attributed to Abu Shakir al-Daysani that a link between the two cannot be avoided. Consider the words of the latter reproduced below (from Qadi Abd al-Jabbar’s Mughni):
وحكى عن أبي شاكر انه ... يثبت الحركة ويزعم أنها صفة للتحرك لا هي هو ولا غيره وأنكر ان تكون شيئا او تكون لا شيء وقال ان التغاير والقول بأنه شيء لا يقعان الا على الأجسام والحركة ليست بجسم
He held that there is action (movement) and maintained that it is an attribute of acting (by the Actor) and is neither identical with the latter (the Actor) nor different from Him. He would neither concede that it is something nor that it is nothing. By way of explanation he said: Mutual difference and being designated as ‘something’ are only valid for bodies; action, however, is not a body. Note the same dichotomy between body and the action of a body, as well as the notion that only a body can be referred to as ‘thing’.
It is not surprising then to encounter a report that makes their association explicit:
علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن العباس بن معروف عن أبي محمد الحجال، عن بعض أصحابنا، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: ذكر الرضا عليه السلام العباسي، فقال: هو من غلمان أبي الحارث يعني يونس بن عبد الرحمن، وأبو الحارث من غلمان هشام، وهشام من غلمان أبي شاكر الديصاني، وأبو شاكر زنديق
Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Ahmad – al-Abbas b. Ma’ruf – Abi Muhammad al-Hajjal – one of our companions – al-Ridha عليه السلام. al-Ridha عليه السلام mentioned al-Abbasi and said: He is one of the students of Abi al-Harith, that is Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman, and Abu al-Harith is one of the students of Hisham, and Hisham is one of the students of Abi Shakir al-Daysani, and Abu Shakir is a Zindiq. This example of shared language should not be taken to mean that Hisham was a blind-follower for he was a theologian in his own right. Hisham sought to re-frame the statements of the Imam into a coherent system while interacting with other thinkers of the time. Proof of this can be demonstrated by the fact that he authored the book Radd ‘alal-zanadiqa (كتاب الرد على الزنادقة) refuting Abu Shakir and his peers.
In fact, the main influence of Abu Shakir on Hisham was confined to his theories on the natural world, what we might label ‘physics’. His theory of the interpenetration (mudakhala) of bodies corresponds, as is known, to the dualist belief in the mixture of light and darkness. Hisham’s support of this theory entailed the rejection of atomism in favour of infinite divisibility of matter and the thesis that bodies may pass from one place to another without moving through the intervening space (tafra).
Who was Abu Shakir?
It is appropriate at this juncture to delve a bit more into this enigmatic person. Abu Shakir figures in many debates with Imam al-Sadiq in our literature. The historicity of these encounters cannot be confirmed. He is presented as a proto-Atheist who doubts the createdness of the world. The most popular question he is supposed to have asked the Imam was whether God could fit the whole world in an egg without enlarging the egg or making the world smaller.
Abu Shakir has been labelled a Zindiq. The exact connotation of this term is open to debate as it lacks a precise definition and has been used in different contexts over time. The word generally means apostate or freethinker but can also have a much more precise meaning of ‘Manichean’ (followers of Mani). The latter was a religious movement well-known for its Dualist cosmology as a model for explaining the world i.e. the idea of two principles which ‘mixed together’ and caused everything to emerge from them.
In this case, the latter interpretation seems better supported in light of the fact that Abu Shakir has been referred to with the title ‘al-Daysani’. The Daysanites were distant followers of one called Bardesanes (Ibn Daysan) who died six years before Mani was born. Ibn al-Nadim says that Bardesanes ‘was called Daysan after the river near which he was born’. Bardesanes (d. 223) had indeed lived in Edessa as ‘the son’ of the Daysan which flowed through the city and occasionally overflowed its banks. His school lived on in Edessa into the late 7th or early 8th century.
Bardesanes was a major influence on Mani and his followers became virtually indistinguishable within the larger Manichean tradition. All these streams subscribed to variations of the same dualist cosmology.
Abu Shakir lived in a Kufa that was a boiling pot wherein diverse traditions mixed. It was a mileu without rigid boundaries between different sects and where borrowing was rampant. What were seen as heresies and persecuted by certain rulers were tolerated by others. Abu Shakir became infamous for his polemics and was finally crucified in the Khilafa of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi before the year 785.
The Correct Position
What was the Aimma’s position in this debate? The answer is very clear from the reports presented. They never spoke using Greek-influenced neo-platonic terminologies. They rejected the use of the term ‘body’ for God, pointing out the fact that any ‘body’ would by definition be finite and mortal - qualities which do not apply to God.
What is not understood is how Hisham answered this charge. How was he able to reconcile between the truism that every body by definition has constraints (limits) with his conception of God? It is possible that he felt his statement ‘a body unlike all other bodies’ was inclusive of transcending the limits inherent in other bodies. But if that were case then what would be the the sense of holding God to still be a body. Does not the term lose significance? God must share one or some aspects with other bodies for the word to retain meaning. What aspect would that be?
It is possible that his acceptance of the system of Abu Shakir and Jahm was so complete that he felt that the definition of any ‘thing’ (shayy) as ‘existent body’ (jism mawjud) was axiomatic. A starting point which must be accepted before any further theological speculation can continue. God had to be a thing because if He was not then he was nothing, from which follows ‘God was a body’ in his system. What kind of body? A body unlike any other body. But still a body in at least some sense. And that is the rub of the problem.
To be continued ...
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وأول من عرف في الإسلام أنه قال إن الله جسم هو هشام بن الحكم
The First person in Islam known to have said ‘Allah is a Body’ is Hisham b. al-Hakam (Ibn Taymiyya)
اليهود أكثرهم مشبّهة وكان بدء ظهور التّشبيه في الإسلام من الرّوافض مثل هشام بن الحكم
The Jews are mostly anthropomorphists. The beginning of anthropomorphism in Islam is via the Rawafidh such as Hisham b. al-Hakam (Fakhr al-Diin al-Razi)
Proto-Sunni heresiographical sources describe Hisham as an anthropomorphist who ‘likened God to his creatures’. Unfortunately, it becomes clear with the least bit of study that most of what has been attributed to him is embellished and driven by an agenda.
An example of this is a frequently circulated statement that Hisham supposedly said:
وحكي عن هشام بن الحكم أن أحسن الأقدار: أن يكون سبعة أشبار بشبر نفسه
God is seven spans tall but according to His measures not ours.
Indeed, there was so much spurious material attributed to him, and he was made to hold so many disparate opinions, that the only way his detractors could explain the phenomenon was to claim that he was very inconsistent:
وذكر عن هشام انه قال في ربه في عام واحد خمسة أقاويل
It is remarked that in one and the same year he advocated five different standpoints about His God.
One of the earliest sources, the Kitab al-Maqalat of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d. 324), has the following to say when discussing the so-called Hishamiyya (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam):
يزعمون أن معبودهم جسم وله نهاية وحد طويل عريض عميق طوله مثل عرضه وعرضه مثل عمقه لا يوفي بعضه على بعض ولم يعينوا طولاً غير الطويل وإنما قالوا: "طوله مثل عرضه" على المجاز دون التحقيق وزعموا أنه نور ساطع له قدر من الأقدار في مكان دون مكان كالسبيكة الصافية يتلألأ كاللؤلؤة المستديرة من جميع جوانبها ذو لون وطعم ورائحة ومجسة لونه هو طعمه وطعمه هو رائحته ورائحته هي مجسته وهو نفسه لون ولم يعينوا لوناً ولا طعماً هو غيره وزعموا أنه هو اللون وهو الطعم وأنه قد كان لا في مكان ثم حدث المكان بأن تحرك البارئ فحدث المكان بحركته فكان فيه وزعم أن المكان هو العرش
They claim that the one they worship is a finite ‘body’ with limits, having length, breadth and depth of equal size … They claim that He is a radiant light, similar to a pure ingot shining like a round pearl from all sides … That He was originally not in space but then produced space through his own motion and thus came to be in it (space), and that this space is the ‘throne’ …
This is another example of a fabrication against Hisham because you would expect to find echoes of this in the early Imami sources if it were true. I could find only one report which can be said to corroborate the accusation. Furthermore, its chain is clearly unreliable with the primary narrator (Ali b. Abi Hamza) weakened by some as a liar.
احمد بن إدريس، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن علي بن أبي حمزة قال: قلت لابي عبدالله عليه السلام: سمعت هشام بن الحكم يروي عنكم أن الله جسم، صمدي نوري، معرفته ضرورة، يمن بها على من يشاء من خلقه، فقال عليه السلام: سبحان من لا يعلم أحد كيف هو إلا هو، ليس كمثله شئ وهو السميع البصير، لا يحد ولا يحس ولا يجس ولا تدركه الابصار ولا الحواس ولا يحيط به شئ ولا جسم ولا صورة ولا تخطيط ولا تحديد
Ahmad b. Idris – Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar – Safwan b. Yahya – Ali b. Abi Hamza who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: I heard Hisham b. al-Hakam narrating from you that ‘Allah is a solid body of light. (Acquiring) Knowledge of Him is necessary. He grants it (knowledge of Him) to the one He wishes from among his creatures’. He عليه السلام said: Glory be to the One whom no one knows how He is except Himself. There is nothing like Him and He is All-Hearing All-Seeing. He is not bounded. He is not sensed. He is not touched. Neither Vision nor senses can reach Him. Nothing encompasses Him. (He is) Not a body nor a form. Neither demarcation nor limitation (can apply to Him).
If this particular characterization of Hisham’s views on God can be put aside, it is much harder to do the same with a more widely attested doctrine attributed to him and for which he became infamous.
A Corporeal God?
Hisham stands accused of holding God to be a corporeal body (Jism). All the narrations below are weak in one way or another (in terms of chain), but when taken collectively, paint the picture that this accusation cannot be easily dismissed like the others.
علي بن محمد رفعه عن محمد بن الفرج الرخجي قال: كتبت إلى أبي الحسن عليه السلام أسأله عما قال هشام بن الحكم في الجسم وهشام بن سالم في الصورة فكتب: دع عنك حيرة الحيران واستعذ بالله من الشيطان، ليس القول ما قاله الهشامان
Ali b. Muhammad raised it to Muhammad b. al-Faraj al-Rakhji who said: I wrote to Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام asking him about what Hisham b. al-Hakam said regarding ‘the body’ and what Hisham b. Salim said regarding ‘the human form’. He wrote: Leave the confusion of the confused, seek refuge in Allah from the Shaytan, the (true) position is not what was said by the two Hishams.
محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عمن ذكره، عن علي بن العباس، عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر، عن محمد بن حكيم قال: وصفت لابي إبراهيم عليه السلام قول هشام بن سالم الجواليقي وحكيت له قول هشام بن الحكم إنه جسم فقال: إن الله تعالى لا يشبهه شئ، أي فحش أو خنى أعظم من قول من يصف خالق الاشياء بجسم أو صورة أو بخلقة أو بتحديد وأعضاء، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا
Muhammad b. Abdallah – the one he mentioned – Ali b. al-Abbas – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr – Muhammad b. Hukaym who said: I described for Abi Ibrahim عليه السلام the position of Hisham b. Salim al-Jawaliqi and quoted for him the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam that He is a body. He said: Nothing can be compared to Allah the Elevated. What can be a greater obscenity than the statement of one describing the Creator of things as a body, or a form, or having constituents, or by limitations or parts. Elevated is Allah from all that a great transcendence.
ابن المتوكل، عن علي، عن أبيه، عن الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم، فغضب عليه السلام ثم قال: مالكم ولقول هشام؟ إنه ليس منا من زعم أن الله جسم، ونحن منه برآء في الدنيا والآخرة، يا ابن دلف إن الجسم محدث، والله محدثه و مجسمه
Ibn al-Mutawakkil – Ali – his father – al-Saqr b. Dalaf who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad عليهما السلام about Tawhid and said to him: I subscribe to the belief of Hisham b. al-Hakam. He became angry and said: What do you have to do with the belief of Hisham? He is not from us the one who claims that Allah is a body. We disassociate from such a one in this world and the hereafter. O the son of Dalaf - a body is accidental and Allah is its cause and the one who forms it.
The common thread running through all these narrations is Hisham’s affirmation of the corporeality of God. In order to get a better understanding of Hisham’s actual position and motivations, one needs to piece together the disparate data and overcome the many layers of confusion in the sources. A beginning point has to be the context of Kalam in the second century.
The view of God in Islam is formulated based on the foundation of the verse in the Qur’an which says:
لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ
There is nothing like Him (2:11)
A Kalam question that originated over the interpretation of this verse was whether God may be described as a shayʾ, meaning a ‘thing’ or ‘something’. The controversy arose when the early Murjiʾi, Jahm b. Safwan (d. 128) asserted that God was not a thing. This Jahm has been described by Western academics as “the first Muslim ‘theologian’ in the full and proper sense”. Documentation about him is scarce and not entirely reliable.
Jahm lived and taught in North-Eastern Iran, and it may well be that he never left the territory of Khurasan. It is claimed that Jahm is the first or among the first who introduced the method of reasoning to derive opinions from propositions (ra’y) in Islam. He stood accused of drawing on pagan Greek philosophy which he borrowed from Hellenistic philosophers (al-falasifa), Christian heretics, and Jews.
Jahm’s concept of God, in particular his distinction between God and ‘things’ (ashya’), has been described by scholars as neo-Platonic. This would indicate a link with Harran and the ideas of the Sabians who were living there.
It should be remembered that Umar b. Yazid, the uncle of Hisham b. al-Hakam, claimed that Hisham followed the Madhhab of the Jahmiyya before his conversion to the truth at the hands of the Imam al-Sadiq.
وقال الكشي: روي عن عمر بن يزيد: وكان ابن أخي هشام يذهب في الدين مذاهب الجهمية خبيثا فيهم
Thus, it is natural that he would be influenced by Jahm’s system of thought.
Most Muslim scholars understood the verse in the sense of ‘no thing at all is like him’ refusing any degree of ‘likeness to God’. They interpreted the Qurʾanic verse as meaning that God is a thing unlike all other (created) things.
Jahm’s explanation was different. His emphasis lay on the conclusion that the term ‘thing’ does not refer to God. That is to say, to be a thing is to share the property ‘likeness’, e.g. to be dead like another dead thing and unlike a living thing. The property ‘likeness’ then is an inseparable accident concomitant with ‘thing’.
God, according to the Jahmites, exists outside the realm of all things which share the property to be like and unlike other things, thus He cannot be referred to as ‘thing’ (He is a non-thing). The majority understood any denial of God being a shayʾ as implying His being nothing. Jahm b. Safwan, to be sure, did not mean to affirm that God was nothing. He recognised God as most real, the only reality, but the controversy persisted.
This question was authoritatively settled by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as far as the school of Ahl al-Bayt are concerned).
محمد بن يعقوب، عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن عبد الرحمن ابن أبي نجران قال: سألت أبا جعفر عليه السلام عن التوحيد فقلت: أتوهم شيئا؟ فقال: نعم، غير معقول ولا محدود، فما وقع وهمك عليه من شئ فهو خلافه، لا يشبهه شئ ولا تدركه الاوهام، كيف تدركه الاوهام وهو خلاف ما يعقل، وخلاف ما يتصور في الاوهام؟! إنما يتوهم شئ غير معقول ولا محدود
Muhammad b. Ya’qub – Ali b. Ibrahim – Muhammad b. Isa – Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Najran who said: I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام about Tawhid saying: do I think of him a thing? He said: Yes. (Something) neither cognisable nor delimited. Whatever your imagination falls upon is different than He, nothing resembles Him and imaginations cannot reach Him. How could imaginations reach Him when He is different from what can be cognised and different from what is represented in imagination? (He must) only be thought of as a thing that is neither cognisable nor delimited.
Hisham submissivley followed the Imam in thinking of God as a ‘thing’ but this meant that he had to then abide by the implications of such a decision seeing as though his former master Jahm also taught that each thing exists when it exists as an existent body (jism mawjud). The incorporeal is non-existent (ma`dum, ma laysa bi-mawjudin). For something to exist it had to be a ‘body’.
Tathbit not Ta’til or Tabtil
محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني أحمد ابن محمد بن خالد البرقي، عن أبي عبد الله محمد بن موسى بن عيسى من أهل همدان، قال: حدثني أشكيب بن عبدك الكيساني، قال: حدثني عبد الملك بن هشام الحناط، قال: قلت لأبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام: أسألك جعلني الله فداك؟ قال: سل يا جبلي عما ذا تسألني، فقلت: جعلت فداك، زعم هشام بن سالم أن الله عز وجل صورة وأن آدم خلق على مثل الرب، فنصف هذا ونصف هذا، وأوميت إلى جانبي وشعر رأسي، وزعم يونس مولى آل يقطين، وهشام بن الحكم أن الله شئ لا كالأشياء، وان الأشياء بائنة منه، وأنه بائن من الأشياء، وزعما أن إثبات الشئ أن يقال جسم فهو لا كالأجسام، شئ لا كالأشياء، ثابت موجود، غير مفقود ولا معدوم خارج من الحدين، حد الابطال وحد التشبيه، فبأي القولين أقول؟ قال: فقال عليه السلام: أراد هذا الاثبات، وهذا شبه ربه عالي بمخلوق، تعالى الله الذي ليس له شبه ولا مثل، ولا عدل ولا نظير، ولا هو بصفة المخلوقين، لا تقل بمثل ما قال هشام بن سالم، وقل بما قال مولى آل يقطين وصاحبه. قال: قلت: فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا
Muhammad b. Masud – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi – Abi Abdillah Muhammad b. Musa b. Isa from among the people Hamdan – Ishkib b. Abdak al-Kaysani – Abd al-Malik b. Hisham al-Hannat who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام: Can I ask you - may I be made your ransom? He said: Ask O Jabali - what do you want to ask me about? I said: May I be made your ransom - Hisham b. Salim claims that Allah Mighty and Majestic has a form and that Adam was created in the likeness of the Lord. Half human and half otherwise - and I pointed to my sides and the hair of my head.
Yunus the client of the family of Yaqtin and Hisham b. al-Hakam claim that Allah is a thing unlike other things, and that the other things are distinct from Him and He is distinct from the things. And they claimed that to establish the existence of a thing is to consider it a body, but he is unlike any other body, a thing unlike any other thing. Self-subsisting, present. Not lost or non-existent. Free of the two extremes, the extreme of negation and the extreme of likening Him to his creation.
Which of these two positions should I take?
He عليه السلام said: This one (Hisham b. al-Hakam) desired Ithbat (to establish the existence of God) while the other one (Hisham b. Salim) likened His Lord the Elevated with creation.
Elevated is Allah who has no like, analogue, equal or match. He is not in the attribute of the created ones. Do not subscribe to what was said by Hisham b. Salim rather subscribe to what was said by the Client of the family of Yaqtin and his fellow (Hisham b. al-Hakam).
I said: Do we give Zakat to the one who opposes Hisham (b. al-Hakam) in Tawhid? He said with his head: No.
In the same Kitab al-Maqalat, we encounter another view attributed to Hisham which seems much more credible than the previous quote and backs up my interpretation.
The view of the anonymous ‘second group of the Rafidha’ below evidently belongs to the school of Hisham b. al-Hakam.
والفرقة الثانية من الرافضة: ... إنما يذهبون في قولهم أنه جسم إلى أنه موجود ولا يثبتون البارئ ذا أجزاء مؤتلفة وأبعاض متلاصقة
The second group from the Rafidha … when they refer to him as a body they wish to assert that he is Existent. They do not ascribe to the Creator parts which are combined or limbs adjoining one another.
Thus, Hisham’s aim was Tathbit to affirm the Existence of God and to escape the charge of Ta’til (denying the attributes of God) and Tabtil (invalidating the existence of God). He accepted that God was a thing. This in his system meant that He was a body. But what kind of Body?
To be continued ...
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Madhhab of Hisham?
دعا له الصادق عليه السلام فقال: أقول لك ما قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم لحسان: لا تزال مؤيدا بروح القدس ما نصرتنا بلسانك
I say to you what the Messenger of Allah said to Hassan b. Thabit: You will never stop being aided by the Holy Spirit so long as you keep defending us by your tongue [Imam al-Sadiq supplicates for Hisham b. al-Hakam]
Hisham b. al-Hakam: Founder of a Theological School (Pt. 2)
A number of proto-Sunni heresiographical works list the so-called ‘Hishamiyya’ (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam) when discussing splinter-sects within Imami Shi’ism.
What do we make of this?
Throughout the second century Hijri and as a direct consequence of the Arab conquests - large swathes of peoples from different cultures and civilizations became subsumed into the Islamic empire. This resulted into the introduction of foreign ideas - mainly Greek philosophical speculation - into the intellectual world of Islam.
The scholarly response to this was split between those who propagated abstinence, considering any discussion of such subjects as a blameworthy innovation, and those who encouraged active engagement, with the realization that the questions raised needed to be answered. These latter were the practitioners of Kalam who wished to reconcile the new insights with revelationary knowledge.
It is well documented that the Imams forbade the majority of their companions from undertaking the abstract thinking involved in Kalam. This was a precaution against the clear danger of making errors in the most sensitive of topics such as the attributes of God. The default statement of the Imams for the laity among their followers was ‘Describe God as He describes Himself’ and leave it at that.
However, we have evidence that the Imams did not totally frown upon such activity. Indeed they trained and encouraged a select few - whose abilities they trusted - to construct rational arguments and participate in the wider controversy with the aim of preserving the authentic positions of Islam.
One prominent example is Hisham b. al-Hakam who proceeded to develop theological positions mainly for polemical reasons e.g. to systemize the doctrine of Imama into a consistent logical framework. The favourable relations that successive Imams had with him goes a long way to confirm their approval of such endeavours.
It is in this context that Hisham attracted a following and is spoken of as a leader of a ‘Madhhab’. To characterize this as a ‘sect’ is a misconception, for even the most prominent companion could not but submit to the Imam and dare not contradict him.
Indeed, Hisham was also a narrator of Hadith from the ‘Aimma and his output consists of typical jurisprudential responsa that would not stand out when compared to that of a traditionalist-narrator who shuns Kalam.
Much better then to speak of a school of thought led by Hisham having unique features (a distinctive mode of argumentation) and theological positions. The school was not set up to contradict the Imams but rather flesh out their general principles.
Can we speak of such a school?
There are some pieces of evidence that allude to the existence of a ‘school of Hisham’
(*) Hisham had a post-humous following:
A companion asks the Imam al-Naqi a question about Tawhid while commenting ‘I follow the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam …’ الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم ...
Another companion asks the Imam al-Ridha whether he should pay Zakat to someone who differs with Hisham in the doctrine of Tawhid and receives a negative answer فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا
The Imam al-Ridha asks al-Bazanti what their differences are with the ‘followers’ of Hisham in Tawhid أبي، عن البزنطي، عن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال لي: يا أحمد ما الخلاف بينكم وبين أصحاب هشام بن الحكم في التوحيد ؟
(*) Unusually, there are a number of individuals who are explicitly associated with Hisham in their biographical entries, which you would expect in a school with students loyal to the outlook of their master. Consider the examples provided below:
علي بن منصور أبو الحسن: كوفي، سكن بغداد، متكلم من أصحاب هشام. له كتب منها كتاب التدبير في التوحيد والإمامة
Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Mansur. Kufan. Resided in Baghdad. A practitioner of Kalam and a student of Hisham. He authored several books among them ‘the book of Deliberation on Tawhid’
محمد بن الخليل المعروف بالسكاك: صاحب هشام ابن الحكم، وكان متكلما من أصحاب هشام، وخالفه في أشياء إلا في أصل الامامة، له كتب منها: كتاب المعرفة، وكتاب في الاستطاعة، وكتاب في الامامة، وكتاب الرد على من أبى وجوب الامامة بالنص
Muhammad b. al-Khalil. Popularly known as al-Sakkak. He became a companion of Hisham b. al-Hakam. A practitioner of Kalam from the students of Hisham. He differed with him (his master) in a number of matters except on the doctrine of Imama. He authored several books among them: A book on Recognition, a book on Human Capacity (to act independently), a book on Imama, a book Refuting the one who denies the Necessity of Imama continuing via Designation (Nass).
(*) Another characteristic of a school is continuity i.e. having successive leaders taking the vacated seat of the former head of the school. This can be demonstrated in an auto-biographical note by al-Fadhl b. Shadhan:
جعفر بن معروف، قال: حدثني سهل بن بحر الفارسي، قال: سمعت الفضل بن شاذان آخر عهدي به يقول: أنا خلف لمن مضى ... ومضى هشام ابن الحكم رحمه الله، وكان يونس بن عبد الرحمان رحمه الله خلفه، كان يرد على المخالفين، ثم مضى يونس بن عبد الرحمان ولم يخلف خلفا غير السكاك، فرد على المخالفين حتى مضى رحمه الله، وأنا خلف لهم من بعدهم رحمهم الله
Sahl b. Bahr al-Farisi says that he heard al-Fadhl b. Shadhan saying in his last encounter with him: I am the successor of those who have passed on … when Hisham b. al-Hakam – may Allah have mercy on him – passed on it was Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman – may Allah have mercy on him - who succeeded him [took his place] in refuting the opponents. Then Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman passed on and did not appoint a successor other than al-Sakkak (Muhammad b. Khalil) who refuted the opponents until he passed on may Allah have mercy on him. I am the successor who takes their place after them may Allah have mercy on them all.
Hisham b. al-Hakam’s specialization in this field was so complete and his expertise so masterful that we see the Imam ordering him to send him the argument he uses to answer the question of determinism versus free-will.
حدثني ابراهيم الوراق السمرقندي، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: قولوا لهشام يكتب إلي بما يرد به القدرية، قال: فكتب اليه يسأل القدرية أعصى الله من عصى لشيء من الله، أو لشيء كان من الناس، أو لشيء لم يكن من الله ولا من الناس؟ قال: فلما دفع الكتاب اليه، قال لهم: ادفعوه الى الجرمي، فدفعوه اليه، فنظر فيه ثم قال: ما صنع شيئا، فقال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ما ترك شيئا. قال أبو أحمد: وأخبرني أنه كان الرسول بهذا الى الكاظم عليه السلام
Ibrahim al-Warraq al-Samarqandi – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. Salim who said: Abu al-Hasan عليه السلام said: Tell Hisham to write to me the argument he uses to rebut the Qadariyya (believers in absolute free-will). He (Hisham b. al-Hakam) wrote to him: ‘the Qadariyya are asked - the one who disobeys Allah does he disobey because of being compelled by Allah, or due to human factors, or due to a third cause apart from Allah or the people?’ He (Hisham b. Salim) says: when the letter was dispatched to him, he (the Imam) said: send it to al-Jurmi, so they took it to him. He (al-Jurmi) looked into it and said: ‘he has not done anything (i.e. it is a useless argument)!’ but Abu al-Hasan said: ‘he did not leave out anything! (i.e. it is an unsurmountable argument). Abu Ahmad (Ibn Abi Umayr) said: He (Hisham b. Salim) informed me that he was the messenger carrying this letter to al-Kadhim عليه السلام
The partial independence which the Imams gave to some of their able companions to make theological inquiries led to difference of opinion between them.
Hisham b. al-Hakam is said to have authored books to refute the position of two other major Shi’i theologians. He has a refutation of Hisham al-Jawaliqi (كتاب الرد على هشام الجواليقي) and a refutation of Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Nu’man al-Ahwal Mu’min al-Taq (كتاب الرد على شيطان الطاق)
This situation sometimes required the Imam having to intervene to express the correct opinion. An example is provided below:
حدثني حمدويه، قال، حدثني محمد بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن عيسى عن علي بن يونس بن بهمن قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: جعلت فداك ان أصحابنا قد اختلفوا! فقال: في أي شيء اختلفوا فيه احك لي من ذلك شيئا؟ قال: فلم يحضرني الا ما قلت، جعلت فداك من ذلك ما اختلف فيه زرارة وهشام بن الحكم، فقال زرارة: ان الهواء ليس بشيء وليس بمخلوق، وقال هشام: ان الهواء شيء مخلوق، قال، فقال لي: قل في هذا بقول هشام، ولا تقل بقول زرارة
Hamduwayh – Muhammad b. Isa – Ja’far b. Isa – Ali b. Yunus b. Bahman who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: May I be made your ransom - our companions have differed! He said: in what thing have they differed, relate to me a thing from that (an example of that which they have differed in)? He (Ali) said: Nothing came to mind except that which I said (which is): May I be made your ransom, an example of that is what Zurara and Hisham b. al-Hakam had differed in. Zurara said ‘air is not a thing nor is it created’ while Hisham said ‘air is a created thing’. He (the Imam) said to me: affirm in this the position of Hisham and not the position of Zurara.
Incidentally, this report indicates that the practitioners of Kalam were also influenced by the neo-Platonic primitive ‘scientific’ theories which were concerned with the natural world.
Difference of opinion and the perennial competition to win favour from the Imam led some companion to even become rivals. It is in the context of theological disputation concerning the attributes of God that Hisham had a major falling out with Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, himself a financial agent appointed by al-Kadhim over Iraq.
علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني محمد بن موسى الهمداني، عن الحسن ابن موسى الخشاب، عن غيره، عن جعفر بن محمد بن حكيم الخثعمي قال: اجتمع هشام بن سالم، وهشام بن الحكم، وجميل بن دراج، وعبد الرحمن بن الحجاج، ومحمد بن حمران، وسعيد بن غزوان، ونحو من خمسة عشر رجلا من أصحابنا، فسألوا هشام بن الحكم أن يناظر هشام بن سالم فيما اختلفوا فيه من التوحيد وصفة الله عز وجل وغير ذلك لينظروا أيهما أقوى حجة. فرضي هشام بن سالم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن أبي عمير، ورضي هشام بن الحكم أن يتكلم عند محمد بن هشام، فتكالما وساق ما جرى بينهما. وقال، قال عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج لهشام بن الحكم: كفرت والله بالله العظيم وألحدت فيه، ويحك ما قدرت أن تشبه بكلام ربك الا العود يضرب به! قال جعفر ابن محمد بن حكيم، فكتب إلى أبي الحسن موسى عليه السلام يحكي له مخاطبتهم وكلامهم ويسأله أن يعلمه ما القول الذي ينبغي ندين الله به من صفه الجبار؟ فأجابه في عرض كتابه فهمت رحمك الله واعلم رحمك الله ان الله أجل وأعلى وأعظم من أن يبلغ كنه صفته فصفوه بما وصف به نفسه، وكفوا عما سوى ذلك
Ali b. Muhammad – Muhammad b. Musa al-Hamdani – al-Hasan b. Musa al-Khashshab – Ja’far b. Muhammad Hukaym al-Khath’ami who said: Hisham b. Salim, Hisham b. al-Hakam, Jamil b. Darraj, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj, Muhammad b. Humran, Sai’d b. Ghazwan and about fifteen men among our companions gathered together. They (those present) asked Hisham b. al-Hakam to debate with Hisham b. Salim about the differences they had regarding Tawhid, the attributes of Allah Mighty and Majestic and other matters, so that they could observe which one was stronger in argument.
Hisham b. Salim agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Abi Umayr (his student) while Hisham b. al-Hakam agreed to be represented by Muhammad b. Hisham. They began disputing and he (Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym) recounted in depth what transpired between them (in the debate)
He (Ja’far) said: Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj said to Hisham b. al-Hakam: You have disbelieved - by Allah - in Allah the Almighty and have fallen in heresy. Woe be upon you - how could you dare to compare the words of your Lord to a stick (created object) which is used to hit with!
Ja’far b. Muhammad b. Hukaym said: He (Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj) wrote to Abi al-Hasan Musa عليه السلام recounting for him their speech and talk (in the debate) and asking him to teach him what the correct position as regards the attributes of the al-Jabbar (the Irresistable) through which Allah can be worshipped is?
So he (the Imam) answered him (writing) at the bottom of his letter: I have understood may Allah have mercy on you. Know - may Allah have mercy on you - that Allah is more majestic and elevated and great than for his attributes to be fully comprehended. Therefore describe Him the way He has described Himself and abstain from going beyond that.
Attitudes towards Him
It is for all these reasons recounted above that Hisham became a particularly polarizing figure who attracted both scorn and devotion within the larger Shi’ite community. In fact, large sections of al-Kashshi’s book can be seen as a competing ground for the different factions fighting each other over how to represent his person and legacy.
Those close to Hisham, who can be said to have belonged to his school, such as his premier student Yunus and the Ubaydi clan including Ali b. Yaqtin, Muhammad and Ja’far the two sons of Isa, narrated narrations which cast him in a positive light, as an apologia to the excommunication he continued to suffer at the hand of his Qummi traditionalist opponents.
His traditionalist opponents saw him as overstepping the mark by formulating his own world-view instead of a total and rigid attachment to the letter of the narrations.
On the one hand we have a narration such as the one below where Imam Jawad is quoted as praising Hisham to the skies for his efforts:
محمد بن مسعود العياشى، قال: حدثني جعفر، قال: حدثني العمركي قال: حدثني الحسين بن أبي لبابة، عن داود أبي هشام الجعفري قال: قلت لأبي جعفر عليه السلام: ما تقول في هشام بن الحكم؟ فقال: رحمه الله ما كان أذبه عن هذه الناحية
Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi – Ja’far – al-Amrikai – al-Husayn b. Abi Lubaba – Dawud Abi Hashim al-Ja’fari who said: I said to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام: What do you say about Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: May Allah have mercy on him. How great was his defense of this quarter (the holy threshold)!
On the other hand we have questions about the validity of praying behind his ‘companions’ which in this context implies those who follow his theological positions.
علي بن محمد، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبي علي بن راشد، عن أبي جعفر الثاني عليه السلام قال، قلت: جعلت فداك قد اختلف أصحابنا، فأصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: عليك بعلي بن حديد، قلت: فآخذ بقوله؟ قال: نعم فلقيت علي بن حديد فقلت له: نصلي خلف أصحاب هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: لا
Ali b. Muhammad – Ahmad b. Muhammad – Abi Ali b. Rashid – Abi Ja’far the Second. He (Abi Ali) said: I said: May I be made your ransom, our companions have differed (about this), should I pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: Upon you is Ali b. Hadid (ask this question to him). I said: Should I follow what he tells me? He said: Yes. I met Ali b. Hadid and said to him: should we pray behind the companions of Hisham b. al-Hakam? He said: No.
Is there any truth to the criticims levelled at Hisham? Or can we explain away all the hostility towards him as being borne out of jealousy towards his ability as the report below indicates.
حدثنا حمدويه وابراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، قال: حدثني زحل عمر بن عبد العزيز بن أبي بشار، عن سليمان بن جعفر الجعفري قال: سألت أبا الحسن الرضا عليه السلام عن هشام بن الحكم؟ قال: فقال لي: رحمه الله كان عبدا ناصحا أوذي من قبل أصحابه حسدا منهم له
Hamduwayh and Ibrahim the two sons of Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Zuhl Umar b. Abd al-Aziz b. Abi Bashshar – Sulayman b. Ja’far al-Ja’fari who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام about Hisham b. al-Hakam, so he said to me: May Allah have mercy on him. He was a loyal servant who was persecuted by his fellows because of their jealousy of him.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Mufadhal b. Umar: Sinner or Saint?
اكتب وبث علمك في إخوانك، فإن مت فأورث كتبك بنيك
Write down and spread your knowledge among your brothers. And if you are about to die then will your books to your children [What the Imam al-Sadiq is supposed to have said to al-Mufadhal]
فلما انصرفت إلى الكوفة أقبلت علي الشيعة فمزقوني كل ممزق، يأكلون لحمي ويشتمون عرضي، حتى أن بعضهم استقبلني فوثب في وجهي، وبعضهم قعد لي في سكك الكوفة يريد ضربي، ورموني بكل بهتان
When I reached Kufa and met the Shia, they tore me to shreds, eating my flesh and disparaging my honour, such that one of them faced me and punched me in the face, and one of them lay in ambush for me in the markets of Kufa wishing to beat me up, and they made false accusations against me [Mufadhal in his Last Will and Testimony]
ما يقولون في المفضل بن عمر؟ قلت: يقولون فيه: هيئة يهوديا أو نصرانيا
What do they say about al-Mufadhal b. Umar? They say: He has the appearance and manner of a Jew or a Christian [The General Populace of Kufa was not impressed by Mufadhal]
Who was He?
Abu Abdallah Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi (d. before 179), a money-changer by profession, was a Kufan companion of the two Imams, al-Sadiq and al-Kadhim. He was charged with performing certain tasks for them.
al-Tusi sees no problem in him. He includes him among the praiseworthy ‘intimate ones’ and ‘managers of the Imam’s affairs’ citing the following report as evidence:
علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني سلمة بن الخطاب، عن علي بن حسان، عن موسى بن بكير قال: كنت في خدمة أبي الحسن عليه السلام ولم أكن أرى شيئا يصل إلى إلا من ناحية المفضل بن عمر، ولربما رأيت الرجل يجئ بالشئ فلا يقبله منه ويقول: أوصله إلى المفضل
Ali b. Muhammad – Salama b. al-Khattab – Ali b. Hassan – Musa b. Bukayr: I was in the service of Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام. Nothing [of the monetary dues] used to reach him [from any other route] except through Mufadhal b. Umar. I would sometimes see a man bringing something to the Imam directly and he [the Imam] would refuse to accept it and say: take it to Mufadhal.
That he was an important figure who exerted considerable influence on the Shi’ite community is undeniable. This can be glimpsed from the number of narrations under his name and the books attributed to him.
A Controversial Narrator
However, there is a controversy about his status. A controversy which probably began in his own lifetime. Some saw him as the bearer of the ‘secrets’ of the Imams who was understandably misunderstood by the laymen who could not bear them, while others saw him as a crypto-syncretist who distorted the teachings of the Imam.
There exists both praise and censure of him attributed to the Imams. Most of the narrations which extol him are narrated by the Ghulat who glorify him as one of their pillars.
The books ascribed to him include partially surviving esoteric manuals like Kitab al-Sirat (‘The Book of the Way’) and Kitab al-Haft wa al-Azilla (‘The Book of the Seven and the Phantoms’) among others. These are treasured by contemporary Nusayri-Alawis but would be considered heretical in the Twelver Madhhab. It is unclear whether this attribution is historical or merely based on the communal memory of his significance for their teachings. Modern academic research sees these books as consisting of many layers, with unidentified authors adding material to the oldest core.
al-Ayyashi encountered some of this suspect literature as he retells below:
وأمّا أبو يعقوب إسحاق بن محمد البصري، فإنّه كان غالياً، وسرت إليه إلى بغداد لاكتب عنه وسألته كتاباً أنسخه، فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث المفضّل بن عمر في التفويض ، فلم أرغب فيه فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث مشيخته من الثقات
As for Abu Ya’qub Ishaq b. Muhammad al-Basri then he was a Ghali. I went to him in Baghdad to write from him. I asked him a book to copy so he took out for me a collection of narrations from Mufadhal b. Umar regarding Tafwidh [that the ‘Aimma are independent beings who run the world after its initial creation] but I did not express any interest in that, then he produced narrations relayed by the trustworthy ones among his teachers …
Traditionalist scholars like al-Najashi and Ibn al-Ghadhairi had a negative assessment of him for this very reason. They went through the works ascribed to him and found them to be unpalatable.
Ibn al-Ghadhairi is scathing when he says:
خطابي، وقد زيد عليه شئ كثير، وحمل الغلاة في حديثه حملا عظيما
‘A Khattabi. A lot of fabricated material has been attributed to him. The Ghulat have launched a full-scale attack on his narrations (i.e. they have invaded his original corpus infiltrating it with their own ideas)’
وقد ذكرت له مصنفات لا يعول عليها، وإنما ذكرنا للشرط الذي قدمناه
‘A number of books are listed as authored by him but they are not to be depended upon. I only include their names because of the condition which we have mentioned before [i.e. to list the titles of all Shi’i authors]’
Even if he is not responsible for what circulates under his name, the fact that the Ghulat considered him one of their own should be reason enough for caution. Anonymous writers are known to have penned material using his name seeking to enhance the authority of their works. It is an arduous task to sift the historical from the forged.
What can be asserted without doubt is that the historical Mufadhal was at one point in time connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya [there is even a splinter-sect of the Khatabiyya which was named after Mufadhal i.e. the Mufadhaliyya]. They are accused of deifying al-Sadiq in some way and of believing in continuation of prophecy. We have some narrations which indicate Mufadhal’s links with such beliefs:
حدثني الحسين بن الحسن بن بندار القمي، قال حدثني سعد بن عبد الله بن أبي خلف القمي، قال حدثني محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب و الحسن بن موسى، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن عبد الله بن مسكان قال: دخل حجر بن زائدة و عامر بن جذاعة الأزدي على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقالا: جعلنا فداك، إن المفضل بن عمر يقول إنكم تقدرون أرزاق العباد ...
al-Husayn b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Qummi – Sa’d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf al-Qummi – Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and al-Hasan b. Musa from Safwan b. Yahya from Abdallah b. Muskan who said: Hujr b. Zaida and A’mir b. Judha’a al-Azdi entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: May we be made your ransom, Mufadhal b. Umar says that you are the ones who allot the Rizq of the slaves …
علي بن محمد، عن صالح بن أبي حماد، عن محمد بن أورمة، عن ابن سنان، عن المفضل بن عمر قال: كنت أنا والقاسم شريكي ونجم بن حطيم وصالح بن سهل بالمدينة فتناظرنا في الربوبية، قال: فقال بعضنا لبعض: ما تصنعون بهذا نحن بالقرب منه وليس منا في تقية قوموا بنا إليه، قال: فقمنا فوالله ما بلغنا الباب إلا وقد خرج علينا بلا حذاء ولا رداء قد قام كل شعرة من رأسه منه وهو يقول: لا لا يا مفضل ويا قاسم ويا نجم، لا لا بل عباد مكرمون لا يسبقونه بالقول وهم بأمره يعملون
Ali b. Muhammad – Salih b. Abi Hammad – Muhammad b. Awrama – Ibn Sinan – al-Mufadhal b. Umar who said: I, al-Qasim al-Shariki, Najm b. Hutaym and Salih b. Sahl were in Madina when we disputed each other over the divinity [of the ‘Aimma]. He [Mufadhal] said: We said to each other - why are we speculating on this when we are nearby to him [the Imam] and he is not in Taqiyya with us [does not answer us in dissimulation], let’s go meet him. He [Mufadhal] said: We headed towards him - by Allah we had not reached the door before he came out bare-footed, without a cloak and all the hair on his head stood on end [in apprehension] saying: No - O Mufadhal, Qasim and Najm, No! “rather mere honored slaves, never preceding Him (Allah) in word, and they always follow His orders” (21:26-27)
حدثني حمدويه وإبراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن علي ابن الحكم، عن المفضل بن عمر أنه كان يبشر أبا الخطاب وفلان أنكما لمن المرسلين
Hamduwayh b. Nusayr and Ibrahim b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam: That he [Mufadhal b. Umar] used to give glad tidings to Aba al-Khattab and one other saying: ‘verily you are messengers’
قال الكشى: وذكرت الطيارة الغالية في بعض كتبها عن المفضل: أنه قال لقد قتل مع أبي اسماعيل يعني أبا الخطاب سبعون نبيا ... وأن المفضل قال: أدخلنا على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام ونحن اثنى عشر رجلا، قال: فجعل أبو عبد الله عليه السلام يسلم على رجل رجل منا ويسمي كل رجل منا باسم نبي، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا نوح، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا ابراهيم، وكان آخر من سلم عليه وقال: السلام عليك يا يونس، ثم قال: لا تخاير بين الانبياء
al-Kashshi said: The Tayyara Ghulat say in one of their books that al-Mufadhal said: Seventy prophets were killed with Aba al-Khattab … Mufadhal is also supposed to have said: Twelve of us entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه السلام. He [the Imam] began greeting each one of us individually and calling each one of us by the name of a prophet, saying to one of us ‘peace be upon you O Noah’ to another ‘peace be upon you O Ibrahim’, he greeted the last one of us saying: ‘peace be upon you O Yunus’. Then he [the Imam] said: do not distinguish between the prophets!
Mufadhal, The Khattabiyya and Ismail
The Khatabbiya seem to have taken Ismail the son of al-Sadiq as their figure-head and pinned their hopes on him as the next Imam. It is hard to discern from the meager sources available whether Ismail’s participation in this was of his own volition or not.
رجال الكشي: حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: قال أبو عبد الله: ايت المفضل قل له: يا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله
Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. al-Hakam and Hammad b. Uthman – Ismail b. Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: Go to Mufadhal and say to him - O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail? Do you want to kill him!?
The narration above has the Imam using very harsh language with Mufadhal in the context of the latter’s ‘grooming’ of Ismail which al-Sadiq felt was dangerous.
On the other hand, there also exists a countervailing narration as below:
الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب قال: أمرني أبو عبد الله عليه السلام أن آتي المفضل واعزيه باسماعيل وقال: اقرأ المفضل السلام وقل له: إنا قد اصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا، فاصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا وأراد الله عزوجل أمرا، فسلمنا لامر الله عزوجل
Muhammad b. Yahya – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام ordered me to go to Mufadhal and condole him for [the death of] Ismail. He [the Imam] said: Convey my greetings of peace to Mufadhal and say to him: We have been tried through Ismail and have remained patient, so be patient the way we have been patient. We wanted something but Allah Mighty and Majestic wanted something else so we have submitted to the command of Allah Mighty and Majestic.
This one is much more warm. The Imam condoles Mufadhal on the occasion of Ismail’s death - the two must have been especially close - and commends him to be patient in emulation of the Imam’s own patience.
How can we explain this difference in tone?
It seems that one way to reconcile between them is to posit that Mufadhal had a period of estrangement from the Imam - because of his involvement with the Khattabis and their intentions for Ismail, however, he later repented from this and broke away with Abu al-Khattab, consequently the relation with the Imam improved.
Evidence for this can be found in the narration below:
جبرئيل بن أحمد قال: حدّثني محمّد بن عيسى، عن يونس، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: سمعت أبا عبداللّه عليه السلام يقول للمفضّل بن عمر الجعفي: يا كافر يا مشرك ما لك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعد
Jibrail b. Ahmad – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus – Hammad b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi: O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you have to do with my son - meaning Ismail b. Ja’far? - and he [Mufadhal] was loyal to him [Ismail], believing about him [that he is the Imam and much more] together with the Khatabiyya, then he returned afterwards.
That Mufadhal returned back to the truth after deviation can be proved also by the fact that he was not among those followers of Abu al-Khattab who died with their leader when they were attacked by the men of Isa b. Musa [the Abbasid governor of Kufa] after barricading themselves in the central mosque as part of an aborted revolt.
Another piece of evidence for this view is that Mufadhal seems to have a more cordial relation with al-Kadhim after the death of al-Sadiq [indeed there are no censures against him quoted from this Imam, which would tally with his reform in his later years].
محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن خلف، قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي، قال: حدثني موسى بن بكير قال: سمعت أبا الحسن يقول لما أتاه موت المفضل بن عمر، قال: رحمه الله، كان الوالد بعد الوالد، أما انه قد استراح
Muhammad b. Masud – Abdallah b. Khalaf – Ali b. Hassan al-Wasiti – Musa b. Bukayr who said: I heard Aba al-Hasan saying when he was informed of the death of al-Mufadhal b. Umar - May Allah have mercy on him, he was a father after the father [al-Sadiq i.e. a second father to him]. Verily he is now resting in peace.
The case of al-Mufadhal is a complicated one. More needs to be done to collect all the relevant evidence and formulate a coherent position, if at all possible. This is obviously not the place for an in-depth study. Such research should also consider the provenance of famous books attributed to him like Tawhid al-Mufadhal, al-Ihlilaja etc. Having said all this, caution must be exercised as regards narrations attributed to him, specifically if the contents have to do with Imamology.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Ghulu: The Case of Mughira the Sorcerer
وكان يخرج إلى المقبرة فيتكلم فيرى أمثال الجراد على القبور
Mughira used to go to the graveyard and intone something. Insects like locusts would then be seen crawling over the graves
أول من سمعته يتنقص أبا بكر وعمر المغيرة المصلوب
The first person I heard abusing Aba Bakr and Umar was al-Mughira the Crucified
al-Mughira b. Sai’d al-Bajali was a blind Mawla (non-Arab origin) of Khalid al-Qasri, the governor of Iraq under the Umayyads. He claimed to be a follower of Imam al-Baqir عليه السلام but perverted the Imam’s teachings while cultivating a personal following around himself in Kufa.
قال الصادق: ... المغيرة بن سعيد لعنه الله دس في كتب أصحاب أبي أحاديث لم يحدث بها أبي ...
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “…al-Mughira b. Said - may Allah curse him - has interpolated into the books of the companions of my father (i.e. al-Baqir عليه السلام) narrations which were not narrated by my father …”
قال الصادق: ... فكلما كان في كتب أصحاب أبي من الغلو فذاك ما دسه المغيرة بن سعيد في كتبهم
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “… so whatever is in the books of the companions of my father - of Ghulu - then that is what was interpolated by al-Mughira b. Sa’id in their books”
After the death of al-Baqir, Mughira shifted his allegiance to Muhammad b. Abdallah b. al-Hasan al-Nafs al-Zakiyya who claimed to be the Mahdi. The going into hiding of this “Mahdi” due to fear of the Abbasids was the cue for Mughira to claim that there would be no Alid Imam after him. Mughira now claimed that authority had devolved to him and would remain so until the return.
With this new-found authority, Mughira began teaching a highly esoteric doctrine influenced by an allegorical interpretation of the Qur’an and remnants of Gnostic thought in the sectarian milieu of Iraq.
One explanation for Mughira’s success is his ability as a magician dabbling in the occult. The sinister powers imputed to Mughira indicate the sort of charismatic hold he appears to have had over his followers.
قال الصادق: لعن الله المغيرة ابن سعيد، ولعن يهودية كان يختلف إليها يتعلم منها السحر والشعبذة والمخاريق ...
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: “May Allah curse al-Mughira b. Said, and may Allah curse the Jewess, he (al-Mughira) used to go to her (the Jewess) regularly and learn from her sorcery, magical illusions and wondrous tricks …”
The end for al-Mughira b. Sa’id came when he joined forces with another Ghali named Bayan b. Sam’an and rose in revolt in 119 AH against the aforementioned Khalid.
The rebellion was quickly put down and the two leaders as well as some of their followers were executed.
قال الرضا: كان المغيرة بن سعيد يكذب على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فأذاقه الله حر الحديد
Imam al-Ridha عليه السلام said: “al-Mughira b. Sa’id used to attribute lies to Abi Ja’far عليه السلام so Allah made him taste the heat of the iron”
Mughira was Mawla (freed-man) who spoke ungrammatical Arabic. This has led to speculation that his beliefs were influenced by prior religious traditions in the communities of late antique and early Islamic Mesopotamia. We know, for example, of the presence of Marcionites, Manicheans, Mandeans, and various gnosticized pagans in seventh and eighth-century Iraq.
The task of specifying the exact tradition from which he emerged is made all the more difficult when one notes that Mughira, both as sorcerer and as Gnostic, was working in a line of Aramaic syncretists who followed a ‘free borrowing of formula’ for their wonder-working and propaganda. At the same time, caution must be exercised because most of the information about Mughira comes from heresiographers who came centuries later and had their own polemical axes to grind.
In spite of this, the following are some distinctive teachings linked to Mughira and tentative identifications that scholars have drawn for their origins:
Mughira promulgated a notorious creation drama. He had a Man of Light (anthropomorphic God) create both light waters and dark waters and then create mankind out of these waters before proceeding to write their future acts of belief and unbelief on his palm with his finger. This cosmogony has parallels with what the Baptizing sectarians of Iraq have their Mandean demiurge doing.
Mughira explained the creation of the sun, moon, heavens and stars in this way: “Then looking into the ocean, He (the Man of Light) saw His shadow, so He went forth to seize it. He plucked out its two eyes and created out of them two suns and He blotted out some light from the moon. Then, out of the physical forms of His shadow, He created the heavens and the stars …”
Friedlaender has recognized that the image of Mughira’s Man of Light looking down into the dark waters to create is an echo of such Mandean imagery as: “When Life ... had thus spoken, Abatur rose and opened the gate. He looked into the Dark Water and at the same hour was formed his image in the Dark Water”.
Mughira shares with the Mandeans the mythic idea of the substantiality of an image, reflection, or shadow as representing a real part of the original entity from which it became detached.
Mughira had an obsessive concern with the ritual purity of water and preventing its defilement. This echoes the centrality of ‘living’ or ‘flowing’ waters in Mandean rituals, hence the necessity of living near rivers, as opposed to ‘stagnant’ or ‘turbid’ water which was seen as insufficient.
عن الأعمش قال: جاءني المغيرة ... ثم قال: طوبى لمن يروى من ماء الفرات. فقلت: ولنا شراب غيره؟ قال: إنه يلقى فيه المحايض والجيف. قلت: من أين تشرب؟ قال: من بئر
al-A’mash reports: Mughira came to me … and said: Blessings be on the one who drinks water of the Euphrates. I said to him: Do we have anything else to drink from? He said: Not if menstrual blood and corpses are thrown into it. I said: Where do you drink from. He said: From a well.
كان يقول بتحريم ماء الفرات وكل نهر أو عين أو بئر وقعت فيه نجاسة
Ibn Athir claims that Mughira used to forbid water from the Euphrates or any river or spring or well into which Najasa (pollution) had fallen.
عن أبي هلال: سألت الصادق عليه السلام: أينقض الرعاف والقيء ونتف الإبط الوضوء؟ فقال: وما تصنع بهذا؟ هذا قول المغيرة بن سعيد، لعن الله المغيرة ...
Abu Hallal asked Imam al-Sadiq: Do nosebleed, vomit, and armpit hair nullify ritual purity? Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام replied: Why are you meddling in such matters? This is the doctrine of Mughira b. Sa’id. May God curse al-Mughira …
Particularly noteworthy is Mughira’s preoccupation with menstrual blood, which is not surprising in light of what we are told in Sefer Ha-Razim, that, the ‘impurity’ of the menstruating woman nullifies the success of the Jewish magician.
زرارة قال: قال - يعني أبا عبد الله عليه السلام: إن أهل الكوفة قد نزل فيهم كذاب، أما المغيرة فإنه يكذب على أبي عليه السلام قال: حدثني أن نساء آل محمد إذا حضن قضين الصلاة وكذب والله، عليه لعنة الله، ما كان من ذلك شيء ولا حدثه ...
Zurara quotes Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام saying: A liar has descended amidst the people of Kufa. As for Mughira then he lies about my father and says: ‘he (al-Baqir) narrated to me that the womenfolk of the family of Muhammad do make up the prayer (Qadha) after their menstruation cycle’ but he has lied by Allah! May Allah curse him. No such thing happens and nor did he (al-Baqir) inform him of this …
In this instance, we see Mughira overriding the ancient taboo by the superior purity of the house of Muhammad, an example of the old ways which he transformed in his new version of Islam.
There is some evidence that al-Mughira b. Sai’d was called by the title al-Abtar.
المغيرة بن سعيد لقبه الأبتر
This might be of significance.
The centerpiece of Mughira’s revelation was the figure of the creator. Here, reconstructed from several reports, is one description:
“He is a man of light, with a crown of light on his head, He has the body and limbs of a man. His body has an inside, within which is a heart, whence wisdom flows. His limbs have the shape of the letters of the alphabet [abjad]. The mim represents the head; the sin the teeth; the sad and dad the two eyes; the ‘ain and ghain the two ears; as for the ha’, he said: You will see in it a Great Power, and he implied that it was in the place of the genitalia and that he had seen it [on a heavenly ascent]; the alif was in the place of the foot …”
Mughira’s description of his ‘Object of Worship’ with its famous depiction of a Man of Light with the letters of the alphabet corresponding to his members - employs a Gnostic technical term ‘Great Power’ associated with the divine figure.
It happens that the coincidence of the name ‘Abatur’ and the term ‘Great Power’ is attested to in an eighth-century account by one Bar Khonai while describing the doctrines of the Mandeans: “They said that before the heaven and the earth were - there were great powers resting on the waters. They had a son whom they would call Abitour”.
The coincidence of name, doctrine, place, and date would all support a possible connection with Mughira.
The Imams shared something of the divine attributes in Mughira’s theology. Ghulat used the term Tafwidh to cast Muhammad and/or ‘Ali as demiurges, who were ‘entrusted’ with over-seeing some crucial activities after the initial creation was begun by God. ‘Ali was especially favored for this demiurgic role. Some evidence for this can be found in statements made by Mughira which assign to Ali the ability to give life to the dead (independent of Allah).
قال: قلت: دعنى من هذا كان علي يقدر أن يحيي ميتا؟ قال: أي والذي فلق الحبة لقد كان قادرا أن يحيى ما بينى وبينك إلى آدم
al-A’mash reports that he asked Mughira: Was Ali able to give life to the dead? Mughira said: By the one who split the seed - he (Ali) was able to resurrect all those between me and you up to Adam (all mankind).
لو شاء أحيا عادا وثمود. قلت: من أين علمت ذلك؟ قال: أتيت بعض أهل البيت فسقاني شربة من ماء فما بقي شيء إلا وقد علمته
In another variant Mughira is supposed to have said: If he (Ali) wishes he gives life to Ad and Thamud. When al-A’mash asks him about how he came to know that - he said: I went to one of the Ahl al-Bayt who gave me water to drink - which made me know everything.
This is why the Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said when speaking about Mughira:
لعن الله من قال فينا مالا نقوله في أنفسنا، ولعن الله من أزالنا عن العبودية لله الذي خلقنا وإليه مآبنا ومعادنا وبيده نواصينا...قال الصادق: ...
May Allah curse the one who says about us what we do not claim for ourselves. May Allah curse the the one who excludes us from being servants to Allah who created us, to whom will be our return and in whose hand is our foreheads [we are totally submissive to him].
Wasserstrom, Steve. “The Moving Finger Writes: Mughīra B. Saʿīd's Islamic Gnosis and the Myths of Its Rejection.” History of Religions, vol. 25, no. 1, 1985, pp. 1–29.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Freedom!
Western fixation on freedom has a long, crystallizing history. In 1215, the Magna Carta was signed in England, which ended the unilateral authority of the King. The King was imposing heavy taxes on the barons, who were wealthy aristocratic men, to fight a failed war. The barons rebelled against the King, and demanded that a committee of barons be established. The King would need to consult this committee before introducing new taxes. Certain legal rights were also introduced to the barons. This was the first big step towards freedom.
Fast forward to the 1500s; a new continent was "discovered" (i.e. Europeans found out about it). A major motivation for men to risk the high seas and migrate to an entirely New World was to avoid taxation and government overreach. They were able to seize vast, fertile properties without much nuisance. Freedom.
Around the same time, the Protestant Reformation was taking place, and most North-Western Europeans were using it as an opportunity to break away from church tithes and indulgences. Freedom.
Fast forward to the 1700s. The American Colonies rebel against the British because of "taxation without representation." Freedom.
Then in the 1800s. The Confederates rebel against the Union to prevent the North from intervening in their textile industry. The Union abolishes slavery. Freedom.
Here, we see a crystallization of yeomanry in White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture, which peaks in the American South. They have a strong distrust in government, public programs, and taxation. There is a strong "what's mine is mine" culture, where clichés like "the only things you can't avoid is death and taxes" thrive. "Conservative" to them mostly means "smaller government, lower taxes". In short, they believe that the freer they are, the happier they will be. Debates in American politics, from abortion to gay marriage to taxes, are all based on conceptions of freedom. It is also the theme of so many Hollywood films.
Feminism is rooted in the same freedom-seeking individualist liberalist mindset. Whatever gets in the way of women's liberation - even if it is God Himself - must be cast aside.
Freedom in Islamic literature would be "huriyya", which is really just a legal technicality - you are either a slave, or you are "free". Otherwise, our books do not take much stock in the concept. We do have treatises on "huquq", which is often translated as "rights", but a more accurate translation is "responsibilities towards". For example, the haq of a woman is the responsibilities of an Islamic society towards that woman. It is an onus.
Responsibility and duty often fly in direct contradiction to freedom. Yes, we have free will, but Islam legislates things that we *should* and *ought* to do, and there are consequences to not fulfilling those responsibilities.
Does freedom lead to happiness? It is actually our responsibilities that often make us happy. There is no growth in a care-free life with no schedule, no family, no commitments, and no work. These things tie us down, but they also build us up, fulfill us, and make us better people. No pain, no gain. Likewise, despite the fact that women's rights have increased over the past few decades, women's happiness has decreased according to many studies. Individualism teaches us that self-sufficiency is the key to happiness, when in actuality, success is sometimes found in submission.
Islam literally means Submission, because it is the recognition that we are all imperfect servants. We do not choose which family we are born into, nor our race, nor our health, nor our age, nor our genes, and often, not even our social conditions. None of us are truly free, and the most free of us is not necessarily the happiest. Rather, true, heartfelt contentment is in knowing God. We are born to look for Perfection; we seek it in our looks, our grades, our power, our status, our spouse, our children; but we all - sooner or later - realize that Perfection lies only in Him alone. Trust in Him gives you that true contentment, the ability to let go of the wheel, fear nothing but Him and accept all that He allots for you. Contentment.
If you are a believer, then your worldview should reflect your belief. We cannot import a cultural ideology that convolutes our belief. In many respects, jahiliyya represented what many of us today consider to be "freedom". But the Prophet Muhammad (s) came with accountability, and that turned the entire world around.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Individualism
If Islam is measured with liberal democratic criteria, it will not be fully consistent.
Western colonial powers reached a point of hegemony in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through hard power (direct intervention) and soft power (media influence), they imposed their standard of morality onto the rest of the world. This moral framework is not Christianity, it is Western Individualism.
Secularism, humanism, and feminism are all just logical conclusions of Individualism. They are branches from the same tree. But to what extent can we say that Individualism is the objective truth? Did the original philosophers of this ideology even intend for it to be the objective truth? Go through Hobbes or John Stuart Mill, they don't claim that Individualism is an objective universal truth, but rather that they are experiments of freedom that are most practical. So measuring Islam by this would be like measuring an object with a stretchy ruler - you'll never get a precise measurement.
Just a few years ago, gay marriage was illegal in America, and now there is all this noise about homophobia and transphobia. Just a few years ago, marijuana was taboo, but it is now gradually being legalized. Some bite-the-bullet secularists are even questioning whether incest should be illegal, because certain forms of incest are not "directly harmful". Of course Islam will not be compatible with a measurement that is constantly fluid, changing, and in flux. Liberalism does not even attempt to falsify itself, rather it is focused on falsifying others. It salvages aspects of Greco-Roman civilization and Christianity that is consistent with individualism, and it discards everything else.
The liberal thesis prioritizes the human being above everything else. The Islamic thesis prioritizes Allah.
So what is the root of this tree of Individualism? Funny enough, it actually may be the Christian concept of Imago Dei - that man was created in the image of God. It is this idea that makes the individual the centre of the universe, whose will is sanctified above everything else. Hence, you have the concept of human rights, which itself is a contradiction, because rights are bestowed onto people by a higher power, not arrogated by the same people onto themselves. Humanism itself is a quasi worship of the human being, because everything including God Himself is cast aside in the name of human rights, liberty, democracy, and freedom.
This is why I always say that secular humanism actually grew out of the carcass of Western Christianity. It uses Christian concepts of the soul and the divinity of personhood to build an entirely new moral framework that discards its root. It is a paradox.
The identity of man in Islam is that he is a created servant. This is the same identity as all biotic and abiotic elements around us. We are a part of the ayah that is the great ayah of the creation. All is fleeting and all will perish but the face of Allah (28:88), which is simultaneously everywhere that we turn (2:115). He is recognized everywhere and behind everything, for He is the Apparent (al-Thahir) and the Hidden (al-Batin). The cosmological Creator, the everlasting Sustainer, and the ontological Perfection that we are all after. The individual is powerless on his own, and is only empowered by the Powerful.
أعوذ بالله من كلمة أنا
I seek refuge in Allah from the word "me".
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Do all religions teach the same thing?
"All religions deep down teach the same thing" - A typical modern day Muslim intellectual ("muthaqqaf").
No, they don't, unless we redefine and selectively choose what a religion is, and here you run into the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.
This train of thought is an easy option for lazy thinkers who have never found good enough reasons to justify following the tradition they do. The Quran can be cut apart to appear to support this claim, but the Quran also makes exclusivist claims to authority, and it routinely refutes and discredits the claims of other religions.
But hey, everything is "arrogant" or "dogmatic" except for the absolute universalist, who is the only one who can really see the "full picture". By the way, that too would be an arrogant and exclusivist claim that invalidates other worldviews. It is inherently paradoxical.
This is called a dialetheism. "A dialetheia is a sentence, A, such that both it and its negation, ¬A, are true". This, of course, is unscientific, and it opposes the Law of Non-Contradiction.
Next time someone tries to sell you religious universalism, ask yourself, at what cost are you willing to believe this? Should you just put your cognitive faculties and intellect aside? Should you deny that there are red lines, and deny any evil and misguidance? Should you deny the corruption, interpolation, and abrogation of pre-Muhammadan faiths? Should you deny that the true founders of many post-Muhammadan faiths were imposters, charlatans, and false prophets?
And yes, I understand that the fitra (natural human intuition) points one toward God, and that all nations have received prophets. That does not make all modern religions equally valid, even if they may have a kernel of truth somewhere. I also understand that modern extremists have often misused takfeer and excommunication, and engage in su' ath-thann. That does not mean we should run towards the opposite extreme.
"It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, though the polytheists be averse." (9:33)
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Greatest Companion of the Two Imams
يقول لك جعفر بن محمد: ما حملك على أن رددت شهادة رجل أعرف بأحكام الله منك و أعلم بسيرة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم منك
Ja’far b. Muhammad says to you - what made you reject the witness of a man [i.e. Muhammad b. Muslim] who is more aware of the Ahkam of Allah than you and more knowledgeable about the Sirah of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم than you!? [Imam al-Sadiq challenging Ibn Abi Layla who was the Qadhi of Kufa]
فما يمنعك من محمد بن مسلم الثقفي فإنه قد سمع من أبي و كان عنده وجيها
What prevents you from [going to] Muhammad b. Muslim al-Thaqafi - for he had heard [narrations] from my father and had a most favorable position with him [Imam al-Sadiq answering Abdallah b. Abi Ya’fur who had asked for a reference point to ask questions to when he cannot meet the Imam directly]
فقال: الثقفي الطويل اللحية ؟ فقلنا: نعم قال: أما إنه لقد كان مأمونا على الحديث و لكن كانوا يقولون إنه خشبي
He said: al-Thaqafi - the one with the long beard? We said: Yes. He said: as for him - then - he was trusted in the matter of Hadith, but they used to say that he is a Khashshabi (derogatory term for Shi’as) [Sharik voices his opinion of Muhammad b. Muslim inadvertently revealing the size of his beard]
The Greatest Companion of the Two Imams
If someone were to ask the question: Who was the greatest companion of the two Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq? What would be the answer?
The Big Four
The starting point has to be four individuals.
حمدويه، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، عن سليمان بن خالد الأقطع قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: ما أحد أحيا ذكرنا و أحاديث أبي عليه السلام إلا زرارة و أبو بصير ليث المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و بريد بن معاوية العجلي و لو لا هؤلاء ما كان أحد يستنبط هذا، هؤلاء حفاظ الدين و أمناء أبي عليه السلام على حلال الله و حرامه، و هم السابقون إلينا في الدنيا و السابقون إلينا في الآخرة
Sulayman b. Khalid al-Aqta said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: There is no one who has enlivened our remembrance and the narrations of my father عليه السلام except for Zurara, Abu Basir Layth al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli. If it wasn’t for them then there wouldn’t be anyone who could derive these [i.e. the Ahkam]. They are the protectors of the religion and the trustees of my father عليه السلام upon the Halal of Allah and His Haram. They are the foremost to us in this world, and the foremost to us in the hereafter.
حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن جميل بن دراج قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: بشر المخبتين بالجنة بريد بن معاوية العجلي و أبو بصير ليث بن البختري المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و زرارة، أربعة نجباء أمناء الله على حلاله و حرامه، لو لا هؤلاء انقطعت آثار النبوة و اندرست
Jamil b. Darraj said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام say: Give glad tidings of paradise to the humble - Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Abu Basir Layth b. al-Bukhtari al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Zurara. Four noble-ones and trustees of Allah upon his Halal and Haram. If it wasn’t for them the traces of prophethood would have perished and been destroyed.
حمدويه، عن محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد و يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن أبي العباس البقباق عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: أربعة أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا، بريد بن معاوية العجلي و زرارة بن أعين و محمد بن مسلم و أبو جعفر الأحول، أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: The most beloved persons to me - whether alive or dead - are four: Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Zurara b. A’yan, Muhammad b. Muslim and Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal. They are the most beloved persons to me - alive or dead.
If one wishes to narrow it down further then it has to be between Zurara and Muhammad b. Muslim. This is because of their prodigious scholarly output.
With close to two thousand reports quoted on his authority in the four main collections of Shi‘ite Hadıth and many more in others, Muhammad b. Muslim was one of the most prolific transmitters of Shi‘ite Hadıth. This is why he was unanimously considered as one of the Ashab al-Ijma [‘People about whom there is consensus’].
قال أبو أحمد: فسمعت عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و حماد بن عثمان يقولان: ما كان أحد من الشيعة أفقه من محمد بن مسلم
Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj and Hammad b. Uthman said: there was no one from the Shia more knowledgeable (in the Diin) than Muhammad b. Muslim.
His knowledge was not of the theoretical type, which in any case is not true knowledge, but of the type which is translated into action.
وقيل: إنه كان من العباد في زمانه
It is said that he was one of the greatest worshippers of his time.
His full name was Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Muslim b. Rabah (d. 150 AH, when he was about seventy years old). From Kufa. A Miller. The Client of Thaqif [a tribe based in Ta’if]. He was One-eyed.
al-Najashi says about him:
وجه أصحابنا بالكوفة، فقيه، ورع، صحب أبا جعفر وأبا عبد الله عليهما السلام، وروى عنهما، وكان من أوثق الناس
The eminent head of our companions in Kufa. Jurisprudent. Pious. He attached himself to Aba Ja’far and Aba Abdillah عليهما السلامand narrated from them. He was the most trustworthy of people.
Long Period of Study
Muhammad b. Muslim says about his tutelage under the Imams:
حدثني حمدويه بن نصير، قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن ياسين الضرير البصري، عن حريز، عن محمد بن مسلم قال: ما شجر في رأيي شئ قط إلا سألت عنه أبا جعفر عليه السلام، حتى سألته عن ثلاثين ألف حديث، وسألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن ستة عشر ألف حديث
Nothing crossed my mind except that I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام about it, until I had asked him about thirty thousand narrations. I also asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about sixteen thousand narrations.
قال محمد بن مسعود، حدثني علي بن محمد، قال حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن عبد الله بن أحمد الرازي، عن بكر بن صالح، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، قال: أقام محمد بن مسلم بالمدينة أربع سنين يدخل على أبي جعفر عليه السلام يسأله، ثم كان يدخل على جعفر بن محمد يسأله
Hisham bin Salim said: Muhammad b. Muslim stayed in Madina for four years entering upon Abi Ja’far عليه السلام and asking him questions, then he used to enter upon Ja'far b. Muhammad عليه السلام to ask him.
Why Choose to be a Miller?
Muhammad b. Muslim chose the lowly profession of a miller not because of any material need, but because of the Imam’s command to ‘humble himself’. The Imam advised him to do this because he knew that his great knowledge combined with affluence could make him arrogant.
قال أبو النضر: سألت عبد الله بن محمد بن خالد عن محمد بن مسلم فقال: كان رجلا شريفا موسرا، فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: تواضع يا محمد، فلما انصرف إلى الكوفة أخذ قوصرة من تمر مع الميزان، وجلس على باب المسجد الجامع، وصار (جعل) ينادي عليه، فأتاه قومه فقالوا له: فضحتنا، فقال: إن مولاي أمرني بأمر فلن أخالفه ولن أبرح حتى أفرغ من بيع ما في هذه القوصرة، فقال له قومه: إذا أبيت إلا أن تشتغل ببيع وشراء فاقعد في الطحانين، فهيأ رحا وجملا وجعل يطحن
Abu al-Nadhr said: I asked Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Khalid [al-Tayalisi] about Muhammad b. Muslim - he said: He was a noble and wealthy man so Abu Ja’far عليه السلام said to him: ‘humble yourself O Muhammad’, so when he returned to Kufa he took a date-basket and a weighing scale and sat down at the door of the central mosque and began calling out [for people to come buy]. His tribesmen came to him and said to him: You have disgraced us! He said: My master has ordered me [to do something] so I will not disobey him nor will I depart until I finish selling what is in this basket. His tribesmen said to him: If you refuse giving up buying and selling then at least sit together with the millers [a more respectable profession], so he prepared a mill-stone and a camel and began grinding.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Born Through the Dua of the Imam
Born Through the Dua of the Imam
Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh, famously known as Shaykh al-Saduq (d. 381), is not a new name to Shi’i readers. He was a great Hadith scholar whose magnum opus Man La Yahdhuruhu al-Faqih is considered one of the Four books.
Less commonly known about him is that he was born through the supplication of the Twelfth Imam. His father Ali b. al-Husayn was not granted off-spring from his first wife for many years. He decided to send a plea to the Imam via the Third Safir [Na'ib Khass] Abu al-Qasim b. al-Ruh, the reply was that he would be granted two male sons from a Daylami bond-woman and that both would grow up to become learned scholars of the religion.
The aim of the post is to gather documentary evidence for this historical incident.
وأخبرنا جماعة، عن أبي جعفر محمد بن علي بن الحسين بن موسى بن بابويه وأبي عبدالله الحسين بن علي أخيه قالا:حدثنا أبوجعفر محمد بن علي الاسود رحمه الله قال: سألني علي بن الحسن بن موسى بن بابويه رضي الله عنه بعد موت محمد بن عثمان العمري قدس سره أن أسأل أبا القاسم الروحي قدس الله روحه أن يسأل مولانا صاحب الزمان عليه السلام أن يدعو الله أن يرزقه ولدا ذكرا قال: فسألته فأنهى ذلك، ثم أخبرني بعد ذلك بثلاثة أيام أنه قد دعا لعلي بن الحسين رحمه الله فإنه سيولد له ولد مبارك ينفع الله به، وبعده أولاد ... قال: فولد لعلي بن الحسين رضي الله عنه تلك السنة إبنه محمد بن علي وبعده أولاد ...
قال أبو جعفر بن بابويه: وكان أبو جعفر محمد بن علي الأسود كثيرا ما يقول لي - إذا رآني أختلف إلى مجلس شيخنا محمد بن الحسن بن الوليد رضي الله عنه وأرغب في كتب العلم وحفظه - ليس بعجب أن تكون لك هذه الرغبة في العلم وأنت ولدت بدعاء الإمام عليه السلام
[Ghayba of al-Tusi] A large number – Abi Ja’far Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh and his brother Abi Abdallah al-Husayn b. Ali – Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Ali al-Aswad رحمه الله who said: Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh رضي الله عنه asked me - after the death of Muhammad b. Uthman al-Amri قدس سره - to request Aba al-Qasim al-Ruhi قدس سره to implore our Leader the Master of the Age عليه السلام to supplicate to Allah that He grant him a male child. He [al-Aswad] says: I asked him [al-Ruhi] that but he refused to do that. Then he informed me three days after that that he [the Imam] had supplicated for Ali b. al-Husayn رحمه الله and that ‘will be born for him a blessed son through whom Allah will benefit [many] and after him many sons’. He said: so was born to Ali b. al-Husayn رضي الله عنه that same year his son Muhammad b. Ali and after him other children …
Abu Ja’far b. Babawayh (al-Saduq) said: Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Ali al-Aswad would always say to me - when he sees me going to the Majlis of our Shaykh Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. al-Walid رضي الله عنه and after observing my motivation for the books of knowledge and mastery over them: it is not strange that you have this desire for knowledge for you were born because of the supplication of the Imam عليه السلام
وقال أبو عبد الله بن بابويه: عقدت المجلس ولي دون العشرين سنة، فربما كان يحضر مجلسي أبو جعفر محمد بن علي الأسود، فإذا نظر إلى إسراعي في الأجوبة في الحلال والحرام يكثر التعجب لصغر سني ثم يقول لا عجب لأنك ولدت بدعاء الإمام عليه السلام
[Ghayba of al-Tusi] Abu Abdallah b. Babawayh (the brother of al-Saduq) said: I began leading a study-session when I was not yet twenty years old. Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Ali al-Aswad would sometimes attend these sessions. He would be greatly amazed after seeing my quickness in answering questions about the Halal and Haram despite my young age and would say: there is no surprise - for you were born through the supplication of the Imam عليه السلام
قال أبو العباس أحمد بن علي بن نوح: وحدثني أبوعبدالله الحسين بن محمد بن سورة القمي حين قدم علينا حاجا قال: حدثني علي بن الحسن بن يوسف الصائغ القمي ومحمد بن أحمد بن محمد الصيرفي المعروف بابن الدلال وغيرهما من مشايخ أهل قم أن علي بن الحسين بن موسى بن بابويه كانت تحته بنت عمه محمد بن موسى بن بابويه فلم يرزق منها ولدا فكتب إلى شيخ أبي القاسم الحسين بن روح رضي الله عنه أن يسأل الحضرة أن يدعو الله أن يرزقه أولادا فقهاء فجاء الجواب إنك لاترزق من هذه وستملك جارية ديلمية وترزق منها ولدين فقيهين
[Ghayba of al-Tusi] Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Ali b. Nuh– Abu Abdallah al-Husayn b. Muhammad b. Sura al-Qummi [when he came to us making the Hajj] – Ali b. al-Hasan b. Yusuf al-Saigh al-Qummi and Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Sayrafi better known as Ibn al-Dalal and others among the Shuyukh of the people of Qum that: Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawyh had married the daughter of his paternal uncle Muhammad b. Musa b. Babawayh. He was not granted a son through her. He wrote to the Shaykh Abi al-Qasim al-Husayn b. Ruh رضي الله عنه asking him to request the holy presence to supplicate to Allah to grant him knowledgeable off-spring. There came in reply: ‘You will not be granted through this one, but you will have ownership of a Daylami slave and you will be granted through her two knowledgeable sons’
قال: وقال لي أبوعبدالله بن سورة حفظه الله: ولابي الحسن بن بابويه ثلاثة أولاد محمد والحسين فقيهان ماهران في الحفظ يحفظان مالا يحفظ غيرهما من أهل قم ولهما أخ اسمه الحسن وهو الاوسط مشتغل بالعباده والزهد لايختلط بالناس ولا فقه له قال ابن سورة: كلما روى أبوجعفر وأبوعبدالله ابنا علي بن الحسين شيئا يتعجب الناس من حفظهما ويقولون لهما: هذا الشان خصوصية لكما بدعوة الامام عليه السلام لكما، وهذا أمر مستفيض في أهل قم
He [Abu al-Abbas] said: Abu Abdallah b. Sura said to me: Abi al-Hasan b. Babawayh had three sons. Muhammad and al-Husayn became jurists, very capable in memorization. They could memorize what others could not among the residents of Qum. They had a brother called al-Hasan who was the middle brother. He spent a lot of his time in worship and abstinence [from the worldly things]. He used not to mix with people. He was not learned in Fiqh. Ibn Sura said: Whenever Abu Ja’far and Abu Abdallah the two sons of Ali b. al-Husayn would narrate something the people would wonder at their memorization capacity and say to them both: this merit is unique to you two because of the supplication of the Imam عليه السلام for you [to be born]. This matter [that they were born by the supplication of the Imam] is widely known among the people of Qum.
قدم (علي بن الحسين بن موسى بن بابويه) العراق واجتمع مع أبي القاسم الحسين بن روح رحمه الله وسأله مسائل ثم كاتبه بعد ذلك على يد علي بن جعفر بن الأسود يسأله أن يوصل له رقعة إلى الصاحب عجل الله تعالى فرجه يسأله فيها الولد، فكتب إليه: قد دعونا الله لك بذلك وسترزق ولدين ذكرين خيرين، فولد له أبو جعفر وأبو عبد الله من أم ولد
وكان أبو عبد الله الحسين بن عبيد الله يقول: سمعت أبا جعفر يقول: أنا ولدت بدعوة صاحب الامر عليه السلام، ويفتخر بذلك
[Fihrist of al-Najashi] He (Ali b. al-Husayn b. Musa b. Babawayh) came to Iraq and met up with Abi al-Qasim al-Husayn b. Ruh رحمه الله and asked him questions. Then he wrote to him via the mediation of Ali b. Ja’far b. al-Aswad (sic. Muhammad b. Ali al-Aswad) asking him to carry a note on his behalf to the Master عجل الله تعالى فرجه asking him for a son. He [the Imam] wrote to him: ‘We have supplicated to Allah about that for you and you will be granted two male sons who are good’. After which was born to him Abu Ja’far and Abu Abdallah from a female slave.
Abu Abdallah al-Husayn b. Ubaydallah (al-Ghadhairi) used to say: I heard Aba Ja’far (al-Saduq) saying: I was born through the supplication of the Master of the Order عليه السلام, and pride himself because of that.
I say: And it is such a thing which is befitting for pride.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Identity Politics
Activists today talk much of identity politics. Identity politics, also called identitarian politics, refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.
You may have heard people "identify as a gay person", or "identify as a black nationalist", or "identify as a vegetarian", or identify themselves with a certain race, nationality, creed, economic class, or ideology. They are then expected to behave and dress according to the mores of that identity. Discovering oneself is indeed a necessary process in the journey of life. It is common for Westerners to travel around Europe, flirt with Indian mysticism, or teach in east Asia in an effort to "find" themselves.
So what is our true Islamic identity? One may say Shia, but to be a Shia of `Ali (a) means much more than to belong to a certain minority community. The Shia are an elite nucleus of believers. One may say Muslim, but even prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma`il (a) had to pray for Allah to make them into Muslims - submitters to the will of Allah.
The answer to this question may be in the famous saying, “Whoso knows his self, assuredly knows his Lord.”
There are differences of opinion on the true meaning of this quote, but the commentary of this saying that this servant finds most consistent with the tradition is that of Shaykh al-Awhad Ahmad al-Ahsai. He says that the statement expresses conditionality (ta`leeq) to gnosis. The prophets, messengers, and deputies had a self-awareness, believing that their selves were a part of a grander creation, whose origin is Allah. He cites 41:53, 18:51, and a du`a’ of the 12th Imam that put the nafs alongside the rest of creation as temporal signs of an eternal God.
Ahsai brings forward a similar hadith attributed to the Prophet Dawud, in which he says “Whoso knows the ignorance of his self, assuredly knows the strength of his Lord. And, whoso knows the incapacity of his self, assuredly knows the power of his Lord.” This is an expression of the weak, limitedness of man, which thus highlights the strength and capacity of Allah.
This means that one must acknowledge the fact that he was created, and therefore, he is a finite and limited being in need of a Creator and Sustainer. One must realize the limits of his own power and his intelligence to understand He who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. That is the beginning of the process of ma`rifa - cognizance of the Divine - where one surrenders himself in faith and in action to Absolute Perfection.
So the true identity that a person must recognize is that they are a created servant who is in total need of God. We say "ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh" in the tashahhud, which acknowledges the servitude of Muhammad (s) to his Lord. This servitude is the key to true greatness, because one who is a slave to God cannot be a slave to worldliness. All people surrender, whether to their own desires or to an outside force, but if one's reliance is completely on Allah, he will be free from obeying others. One who fears only Allah does not fear anything else, which elevates his status in the creation. It is out of Prophet Muhammad's sincere service to Allah that made him the best of creation.
Returning to postmodern identity politics: identifying yourself with what you eat or who you have sex with is very shallow. Food and sex are functions of the lower self. Identifying with a race is identifying with an accidental characteristic of yourself rather than your essential nature. As much as these "groups" may be relevant in today's world, we should not be fixated on `asabiyya (tribalism, group mentality), which was the underlining feature of jahiliyya. Identity politics can blind us from ethics, which is rooted more in verbs and adverbs than in nouns and pronouns. It can cause irreparable division and segregation. And finally, it can cause us to lose focus of our purpose and goal: ma`rifa.
"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me." (51:56)
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Ibn Al-Ja'abi for a blog entry, Christianity in Pre-Islamic Arabia
I've intended for this post to be a placeholder until I publish my next entry on the linguistic history of the Arabic language until the early Islamic period. I've adapted it from a post I made elsewhere. It represents an early phase in my research on the religions in pre-Islamic Arabia, it's rather informal but so is the nature of my research right now. InshaAllah it'll be added to, corrected, and fixed as time progresses.
The presence of Christianity in Arabia was already centuries old by the time the Prophet was born. Historical Arabia was identified as a region spanning from the Eastern banks of the Nile to the Euphrates and as far north as the Syrian desert. According the Socrates Scholasticus, the Byzantine ecclesiastical historian, not the Athenian philosopher, a Queen Mavia (ماوية) of the Ishmaelites, who reigned from the late fourth century to the early fifth century, converted to Christianity. She went on to appoint a Bishop named Moses, another "Saracen" (Arab) who led a monastic life and was reputed to preform miracles. Eusebius writes about an Arab Monarchian named Beryllus, Bishop of Bostra. He believed that Christ was a distinct divinity but only possessed the Divine nature of God the Father after the incarnation. Origen of Alexandria converted him back to "orthodoxy" (in the lower-case sense of the word, not upper-case sense referring to the Orthodox Churches).
It seems that by the birth of Prophet Muhammad there was a major presence of various "heretical" Christian groups. A misattributed dictum of St. Theodoret of Cyrrhus states that "Arabia hæresium ferax", "Arabia is the bearer of heresies". Scholars have attempt to identify the groups present in Arabia using antique and mediaeval sources and the Qur'anic description of their doctrines.
Theophilos Indus, an Arian Bishop sent by Emperor Constantius II to Asia via Arabia as a missionary. He is reported to have converted the people of Himyar to Arianism. He was Heteroousian, a follower of the theologian Aetius, who denied that Christ and God the Father were of the same substance. It's possible that Arianism survived in the region.
There was also a presence of Severan Monophysites, followers of Severus of Antioch who believed in the "natural union" of Christ's two natures, concentrated on the Red Sea coast (Hijaz and Yemen). The Julianists, a group closely related to the Docetists, are of particular interest due to their rejection of Christ having died on the cross -- a view also found in the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter (where Christ is in a tree and laughing at whoever is being crucified). Irfan Shahid states Ashab al-Ukhdud (People of the Ditch) that the Qur'an mentions were Monophysites. Their account is also mentioned in text called "The Book of the Himyarites", a Syriac work which was translated into English by Axel Moberg. Their leader was St. Arethas (Harith) was written about in the 7th century text Acta Sancti Arethæ/Martyrium Sancti Arethæ.
There was also a Nestorian presence in Arabia. The Prophet was aware of this and the Qur'an even employs the Nestorian idea of "Isa b. Maryam" to deny that Christ is the Son of God. The aforementioned Book of the Himyarites also has a passage were Dhu-Nuwas employs Nestorian terms to refer to the Christology of the "majority of Christians" (in his realm).
Though Monophysitism did become dominate after the fall of Dhu-Nuwas, Nesotrianism returned with the conquest of South Arabia by the Sassanids. In the lifetime of the Prophet, Nestorian missionaries from Najran would go to Ukadh to preach, and Prophet Muhammad encountered one who left an impression on him, Quss b. Sa'idah al-Iyyadi. He was possibly a bishop of Najran. Irfan Shahid mentions this as a matter of fact in "Islam and Oriens Christianus". However, he's also argued against this position in his entry on Quss b. Sa'idah in the Brill Encyclopaedia of Islam, saying that it was just a conflation of several facts about him and the Episcopate of Najran.
Shahid believes there also might have been an Ethiopic Christian presence. This is based on what seems to be Ge'ez terms being used by the Qur'an, such as Nasara rather than Masihiyyun, Isa rather than Yasu'. Though in the case of the latter Arthur Jeffery demonstrates how this could have also happened as a result of natural linguistic corruption when the word transferred from Syriac to Arabic.
References and Further reading:
Irfan Shahid's article "ISLAM AND ORIENS CHRISTIANUS: MAKKA 610-622 AD" represents a bulk of the research here, I would highly recommend it. You might also want to check out Irfan Shahid's series on Byzantium and Arabia. Gabriel Said Reynold's The Qur'an in its Historical Context (both parts one and two) might also prove useful. And Darren M. Slade's article "ARABIA HAERESIUM FERAX (ARABIA BEARER OF HERESIES): Schismatic Christianity’s Potential Influence on Muhammad and the Qur’an ".
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The “Imam” who Killed al-Kadhim [as]
إذا وصلته وقطعني قطع الله أجله
If I maintain my ties with him and he cuts me off then Allah will cut off his life-time [Imam al-Kadhim about Muhammad b. Ismail]
We all know of the summons of Imam Musa al-Kadhim to Baghdad in the year 179 by Harun al-Rashid, his subsequent imprisonment and ultimate death in the year 183. But what is less well known is the role of one of the relatives of the Imam, specifically his nephew Muhammad b. Ismail in bringing this tragic event about.
Who was Muhammad b. Ismail?
Muhammad is the seventh “Imam” of the Ismailiyya about whose life very little is known even in their pitiable sources. Muhammad was the eldest son of Ismaıl b. Ja’far [who died in the lifetime of al-Sadiq]. The Ismailiyya claim that he left Iraq after the recognition of the Imamate of Musa al-Kadhim by the majority of al-Sadiq’s followers, and went into hiding, henceforth acquiring the epithet al-Maktum, the Hidden. He is supposed to have continued to maintain close contacts with the Mubarakiyya, a radical Shı’ı group which followed him. According to the later Ismaılıs, this emigration marks the beginning of the period of concealment (Dawr al-Satr) in early Ismaılism, with no apparent Imam, until the Fatimi Da’wa came and re-established it.
What happened to the followers of Muhammad b. Ismail?
Most of the followers of Muhammad b. Ismail refused to acknowledge his death. For these immediate predecessors of the Qarmatıs, Muhammad b. Ismaıl was regarded as the last Imam and expected to reappear as the Mahdı or Qaim, ‘riser’. They were also called Sab'iyya [seveners i.e. believed in seven Imams] and Waqifiyya [stoppers i.e. who halted at Muhammad b. Ismail].
Later Ismailis claim that that there was another obscure group of followers of Muhammad b. Ismail who accepted his death and traced the Imamate in his descendants. However, the separate existence of this group is not recorded in any contemporary source, until Abd Allah, the future leader of the movement, publicly claimed the Imamate of the Ismaılıs for himself and his ancestors in the year 297. It is hard to conclude this to be anything other than a back-projection of the Fatimid Imams wishing to to place themselves in one continuous chain of Imams back to Muhammad b. Ismail and the early 'Aimma.
His Role in Sending al-Kadhim to his Death
The picture that emerges in a reliable narration in al-Kafi shows Muhammad b. Ismail to be quite a worldly and ambitious fellow who was instrumental in heightening Harun’s suspicion towards Musa al-Kadhim. This acts as another reminder that mere blood relation with the purified personalities is not enough to safeguard one from evil inclinations.
الكافي: علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن موسى بن القاسم البجلي، عن علي بن جعفر قال: جاء ني محمد بن إسماعيل وقد اعتمرنا عمرة رجب ونحن يومئذ بمكة، فقال: يا عم إني أريد بغداد وقد أحببت أن اودع عمي أبا الحسن - يعني موسى بن جعفر عليه السلام - وأحببت أن تذهب معي إليه، فخرجت معه نحو أخي وهو في داره التي بالحوبة وذلك بعد المغرب بقليل، فضربت الباب فأجابني أخي فقال: من هذا فقلت: علي، فقال: هوذا أخرج - وكان بطئ الوضوء - فقلت: العجل قال: وأعجل، فخرج وعليه إزار ممشق قد عقده في عنقه حتى قعد تحت عتبة الباب، فقال علي بن جعفر: فانكببت عليه فقبلت رأسه وقلت: قد جئتك في أمر إن تره صوابا فالله وفق له، وإن يكن غير ذلك فما أكثر ما نخطي قال: وما هو؟ قلت: هذا ابن أخيك يريد أن يودعك ويخرج إلى بغداد، فقال لي: ادعه فدعوته وكان متنحيا، فدنا منه فقبل رأسه وقال: جعلت فداك أوصني فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فقال مجيبا له: من أرادك بسوء فعل الله به وجعل يدعو على من يريده بسوء، ثم عاد فقبل رأسه، فقال: يا عم أوصني فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فقال: من أرادك بسوء فعل الله به وفعل، ثم عاد فقبل رأسه، ثم قال: يا عم أوصني، فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فدعا على من أراده بسوء، ثم تنحى عنه ومضيت معه فقال لي أخي: يا علي مكانك فقمت مكاني فدخل منزله، ثم دعاني فدخلت إليه فتناول صرة فيها مائة دينار فأعطانيها وقال: قل لابن أخيك يستعين بها على سفره قال علي: فأخذتها فأدرجتها في حاشية ردائي ثم ناولني مائة اخرى وقال: أعطه أيضا، ثم ناولني صرة اخرى وقال: أعطه أيضا فقلت: جعلت فداك إذا كنت تخاف منه مثل الذي ذكرت، فلم تعينه على نفسك؟ فقال: إذا وصلته وقطعني قطع الله أجله، ثم تناول مخدة أدم، فيها ثلاثة آلاف درهم وضح وقال: أعطه هذه أيضا قال: فخرجت إليه فأعطيته المائة الاولى ففرح بها فرحا شديدا ودعا لعمه، ثم أعطيته الثانية والثالثة ففرح بها حتى ظننت أنه سيرجع ولا يخرج، ثم أعطيته الثلاثة آلاف درهم فمضى على وجهه حتى دخل على هارون فسلم عليه بالخلافة وقال: ما ظننت أن في الارض خليفتين حتى رأيت عمي موسى بن جعفر يسلم عليه فالخلافة، فأرسل هارون إليه بمائة ألف درهم فرماه الله بالذبحة فما نظر منها إلى درهم ولا مسه
al-Kafi: Ali b. Ibrahim from Muhammad b. Isa from Musa b. al-Qasim al-Bajali from Ali b. Ja’far who said: Muhammad b. Ismail [b. Ja’far] approached me when we were in Makka and had just completed the Umra in the month of Rajab - he said: O uncle, I want to travel to Baghdad but first I wish to bid farewell to my uncle Aba al-Hasan - that is Musa b. Ja’far. I would like it if you accompany me to meet him.
I came out with him heading towards my brother who was in his house in Huba. We reached a little after Maghrib. I knocked the door and was answered by my brother who said: who is that? I said: Ali, he said: I am just coming - he was someone who took long in making the ablution - so I said: make haste, he said: I will. Eventually he came out wearing a lower garment [waist-wrapper] dyed in an earthish hue, knotted at his neck and proceeded to sit at the threshold [step] of the door.
Ali b. Ja’far said: I bent towards him, kissed his forehead and said: I have come to you concerning a matter, if you find it to be appropriate then it is Allah who facilitated it, and if it is not [if you find it disagreeable] then how often do we err [as humans]. He said: what is it? I said: this is the son of your brother, he wishes to bid you farewell and depart towards Baghdad. He [the Imam] said to me: call him [Muhammad b. Ismail]. I called him and he was close by.
He [Muhammad b. Ismail] came near him, kissed his forehead and said: May I be made your ransom, advise me, he [the Imam] said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, he replied to him: May Allah do such to whoever wishes ill for you, and he began supplicating against the one who harbors ill-feeling towards him. Then he kissed his forehead a second time and said: O uncle, advise me, he said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, he said: May Allah do such and such to whoever wishes ill for you [and He has already done so]. Then he kissed his forehead a third time and said: O uncle, advise me, he said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, so he supplicated against the one who wishes ill towards him, then he turned away from him [to depart], I too began walking away with him, but my brother said to me: O Ali, [stop] where you are.
I halted, he called me and I entered [the house]. He outstretched a pouch which contained a hundred gold coins and handed it to me and said: tell the son of your brother [nephew] to make use of it on his journey. Ali said: I took it and twisted it around the hem of my cloak, then he handed me another hundred and said: give it to him, then he handed me another pouch and said: give it to him also.
I said: may I be made your ransom, if you fear him doing what you described then why are you aiding him against yourself [by helping him]? he said: If I maintain my ties with him and he cuts me off then Allah will cut off his life-time. Then he took to hand a tanned leather pillow [hollowed out to store money] in which were three thousand fine silver coins and said: give this to him as well.
He [Ali b. Ja’far] said: I came out and gave him the first hundred whereupon he became extremely delighted and supplicated for his uncle, then I gave him the second and the third. He became so happy that I thought he will turn back and not depart [for Baghdad]. Lastly I gave him the three thousand silver coins.
Nevertheless, he departed on his mission until he went in to see Harun [the Abbasid Caliph] and greeted him by acknowledging his Caliphate [said: peace be upon you O Commander of the Faithful]. Then he said: I never thought that there could be two Caliphs on earth [at the same time] until I saw my uncle Musa b. Ja’far being greeted with the Caliphate [people referring to him as the Caliph when greeting him]. Harun sent him one hundred thousand silver coins [as a reward for his reporting about his uncle] but Allah afflicted him [Muhammad b. Ismail] with an ailment [in which an ulcer grows and chokes the passage in the throat] and he did not get the chance to even take a look at a single silver coin [that he had been gifted] let alone touch it.
The death date of Muhammad b. Ismail can be fixed to be the year 179, the year in which he betrayed his uncle to the authorities and was punished immediately by Allah for it. Muhammad sold his Akhera for the Dunya, despite the Imam supporting him from his own wealth to repel his evil and fulfill the ties of kinship. Such a person hardly meets the base requirements of a supposed Imam and the adulation that his followers direct towards him.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Reliable Narrations: Intellect and Knowledge
A small collection of 82 reliable narrations concerning Intellect and Knowledge translated into English with annotated footnotes.
Download PDF: https://www.scribd.com/document/361632457/Book-of-Intellect-and-Knowledge-Mu-jam-1-1
This is an UNSECURED version to aid copy and paste.
The first book of the first volume is the book of Intellect and Knowledge. Some short words on the Islamic conception of both is in order.
Aql is the vehicle through which the initial queries about the reality of life and nature of the world is made. It is also an essential component towards the Ma’rifa [recognition] of Allah. Thus it becomes the preliminary ‘inner prophet’ which can lead to ‘outward’ guidance and consequently obedience of Allah. It has been attributed to al-Sadiq that he said when asked to define Aql:
ما عبد به الرحمن واكتسب به الجنان
That by which the Rahman [Most Merciful] is worshipped and by which the Gardens are acquired
Aql is what will be held accountable. The more perfect the Aql of the one doing the deed the more complete it becomes and vice versa. The messenger of Allah is supposed to have said:
إذا رأيتم الرجل كثير الصلاة كثير الصيام فلا تباهوا به حتى تنظروا كيف عقله؟
If you see a man who prays a lot and fasts a lot then do not be overly impressed with him until you observe how his Aql is
Knowledge and its pursuit has been given such importance in Islam that a Western Scholar like Rosenthal could speak of the ‘Empire of Reason’. Knowledge is of many types, but the one which has been obligated is acquiring the knowledge which will make one succeed in this world and hereafter i.e. knowledge of the creator and one’s obligations towards Him.
It is not enough to gain knowledge in theoretical terms, in fact the very definition of knowledge is the one which is put into practise. This is best summed up in a narration attributed to the Commander of the Faithful:
حسبك من العلم أن تخشى الله، وحسبك من الجهل أن تعجب بعلمك
It is enough to be considered knowledge that you be in awe of Allah, and it is enough to be considered ignorance that you feel proud with that which you know
 al-Kafi: 1/11
 al-Kafi: 1/26
 Amali of al-Tusi: 1/62
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Mecca or the Mechanical
Why have we turned Mecca into the Mechanical?
Mecca is the central pinnacle of human assembly, yet its architecture has been modeled after the capitals of individualism: New York, London, Toronto, and Las Vegas.
Its Ottoman heritage is being destroyed, its mountains are being removed, its mosques are being leveled, and all of it is being replaced with gray skyscrapers, McDonalds, Starbucks, cranes, and boxy buildings.
Over the centuries, our civilization has developed an architectural style, beautiful calligraphy, symmetrical patterns, captivating minarets, and iconic domes. Our mosques were designed to remind us of the divine order of the creation and the beauty of our revelation. We built the marvels that are Istanbul and Isfahan. The Taj Mahal, the Alhambra in Spain, the Dome of the Rock, and the Suleymaniye Mosque are some of the most elegant structures in the world.
The Protestant work-ethic cities in the West were designed with only utility in mind. They designed their cities to maximize profits and productivity, and to minimize costs. Anglo-Saxon culture deviated from the traditional beauty of Catholic architectural style, and they continue to deviate in other areas of morality. After British and American imperialism, Muslims are now emulating their worldly masters in an effort to look “modern”. This has led to the monstrosity that is Dubai and Tehran; cities with no heart and soul, only pollution, traffic, and eyesores.
Ethics is but a branch of aesthetics. Winning back our civilization also means returning to our therapeutic artstyle. We have no need for a concrete jungle in our holiest city.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "When you see holes pierced through the mountains of Mecca, and when you see the buildings surpass the mountaintops in height, then know that the affair (the Hour) has cast its shadow." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba)
قال حدثنا غندر عن شعبه عن يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه عن عمرو بن العاص((إذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظائم ، ورأيت البناء يعلو رؤوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أضلك ))
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Ibn Al-Ja'abi for a blog entry, A History of the Arabic Language: Introduction
The saying usually goes “like father like son”. However, in the case of Abraham and Ishmael it should be “like son like father”. In the Qur’an, their names are written as ʾIsmāʿīl (إسماعيل) and ʾIbrāhīm (إبراهيم). It seems rather banal to those of us used to reading these names, it is an etymological peculiarity. In the original Hebrew, these names are Yišmaʿel (יִשְׁמָעֵאל), meaning “God Heard”, and ʾAbrāhām (אַבְרָהָם), meaning “Father of Nations”. While Yišmaʿel is Arabicized typically from Hebrew, ʾAbrāhām is not. The initial alef is pronounced with a kasrah in the Arabic rather than a fatḥah like in the Hebrew. More notably, the final alef becomes a yāʾ in the Arabic. This has even confused Muslim philologists who have listed such variants of the name as ʾAbrahām, ʾAbrāhum, and ʾAbraham. The philologist and orientalist, Arthur Jeffrey, in his “The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’an”, records several theories as to why this might be the case concluding that the best possibility is that ʾIbrāhīm was put onto the same pattern as ʾIsmāʿīl’s name when being Arabicized – something the Qur’an has done with other names.
Though it seems semantical, it is relevant to understanding the style of the Qur’an. This topic and others like it have to do with the history of Arabic, which, like the history of any language, is important in providing context to linguistic phenomena, and consequently better cementing our understanding of the Qur’anic text. While great efforts are made by Muslims to have mastery over Arabic grammar, there seems to be a gap in our collective understanding of this topic.
Arabic is now a global language spoken by 290 million native speakers found from Morocco to Khuzestan and Central Asia, and it is used as a liturgical language by over a billion people. In the 9th-century BC, though, it was an obscure Semitic language spoken by an equally obscure ethnic group of nomadic herders and mercenaries from the South Syrian desert.
As such, I intend on writing a series of brief blog posts, which will give an overview of the history of the Arabic language. In due course, we shall also examine interesting features of and notable oddities in the language, such as the one I mentioned at the beginning of my introduction. These posts will not necessarily be chronological so that the task of writing is easier.
Since a language exists only due to people being there to speak it, I will also be writing general points about the history of the Arab people. This will not be comprehensive, rather, it will simply complement our primary discussion on the Arabic language. I hope that by reading this series you will grow to love the subject as much as I do, and by its completion, have deepened your knowledge of the Arabic language and the Qur’an.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Reliable Narration: Wilaya and Thaqalayn
It is sometimes claimed that the Shia do not have reliable narrations from their own books for the centerpieces of their faith. All this does is expose the ignorance of the claimant. Below is one such reliable narration which includes parts of the prophet’s speech when returning from Hijjatul Wida. It includes both Hadith al-Wilaya and Thaqalayn. This is not to say that this event relies on the analysis of an individual chain, in fact, it is so widely dispersed in our corpus and theirs, making it a viable candidate to be deemed Mutawatir.
The Text of the Hadith
محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد، عن محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب ويعقوب بن يزيد جميعا، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن عبد الله بن سنان، عن معروف بن خربوذ، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة، عن حذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري قال: لما رجع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله من حجة الوداع ونحن معه أقبل حتى انتهى إلى الجحفة فأمر أصحابه بالنزول فنزل القوم منازلهم، ثم نودي بالصلاة فصلى بأصحابه ركعتين، ثم أقبل بوجهه إليهم فقال لهم: إنه قد نبأني اللطيف الخبير أني ميت وأنكم ميتون، وكأني قد دعيت فاجبت وأني مسؤول عما ارسلت به إليكم، وعما خلفت فيكم من كتاب الله وحجته وأنكم مسؤولون، فما أنتم قائلون لربكم؟ قالوا: نقول: قد بلغت ونصحت وجاهدت فجزاك الله عنا أفضل الجزاء ثم قال لهم: ألستم تشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله وأني رسول الله إليكم وأن الجنة حق؟ وأن النار حق؟ وأن البعث بعد الموت حق؟ فقالوا: نشهد بذلك، قال: اللهم اشهد على ما يقولون، ألا وإني اشهدكم أني أشهد أن الله مولاي، وأنا مولى كل مسلم، وأنا أولى بالمؤمنين من أنفسهم، فهل تقرون لي بذلك، وتشهدون لي به؟ فقالوا: نعم نشهد لك بذلك، فقال: ألا من كنت مولاه فإن عليا مولاه وهو هذا، ثم أخذ بيد علي عليه السلام فرفعها مع يده حتى بدت آباطهما ثم قال: اللهم وال من والاه، وعاد من عاداه، وانصر من نصره واخذل من خذله، ألا وإني فرطكم وأنتم واردون علي الحوض، حوضي غدا وهو حوض عرضه ما بين بصرى وصنعاء فيه أقداح من فضة عدد نجوم السماء، ألا وإني سائلكم غدا ماذا صنعتم فيما أشهدت الله به عليكم في يومكم هذا إذا وردتم علي حوضي، وماذا صنعتم بالثقلين من بعدي فانظروا كيف تكونون خلفتموني فيهما حين تلقوني قالوا: وما هذان الثقلان يا رسول الله؟ قال: أما الثقل الاكبر فكتاب الله عزوجل، سبب ممدود من الله ومني في أيديكم، طرفه بيد الله والطرف الآخر بأيديكم، فيه علم ما مضى وما بقي إلى أن تقوم الساعة، وأما الثقل الاصغر فهو حليف القرآن وهو علي بن أبي طالب و عترته عليهم السلام، وإنهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا علي الحوض. قال معروف بن خربوذ: فعرضت هذا الكلام على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقال: صدق أبوالطفيل رحمه الله هذا الكلام وجدناه في كتاب علي عليه السلام وعرفناه.
[al-Saduq from] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid from Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar from Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and Ya`qub b. Yazid from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from Abdallah b. Sinan from Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh from Abi Tufayl `Amir b. Wathila from Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari who said:
We were with the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله when he was returning from his farewell pilgrimage. He went forth until he reached Juhfa where he ordered his companions to decamp. The call for prayer was made and he led his companions in a two-unit prayer. After that he turned his face to them and said: The Kind and All-Aware has informed me that I am to die and you too will one day die. It is as though I have been called and have responded. I am to be asked about that which I was sent with for you and also what I leave behind in your midst including the Book of Allah and His proof - and you too shall be asked - so what are you going to reply to your Lord? They said: we will say ‘you have conveyed, counselled and struggled, so may Allah reward you on our behalf the best of rewards’.
Then he said to them: do you bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am the messenger of Allah? that the Paradise is a reality, the Fire is a reality and the resurrection after death is reality? They said: we bear witness to that, he said: O Allah witness what they say. Behold! I make you witnesses that I myself bear witness that Allah is my Mawla, and that I am the Mawla of every Muslim, and that I have a greater claim over the believers than their own selves, do you admit to that and bear witness to it about me? They said: yes, we witness that to be true about you. He said: Behold! To whomsoever I am a Mawla then Ali is also his Mawla, and he is this one, and he took Ali by the hand and raised it with his own hand until their armpits became visible, then he said: O Allah – be a guardian to whomever takes him to be a guardian, and be an enemy to whomever takes him to be an enemy, aid the one who aids him and abandon the one who abandons him.
Behold! I will proceed you but you will catch up with me at the reservoir – my Lake-fount – tomorrow. It is a Lake-fount whose breadth is like the distance between Busra and San`a. In it are goblets made of silver like the number of stars in the sky. Behold! I will ask you tomorrow about what you did in regards that which I made Allah bear witness to - over you - in this day of yours when you reach my Lake-fount.
And also about what you did with regards the ‘Two Weighty Things’ after me, so take care of how you will preserve my legacy in them when you meet me. They said: and what are these ‘Two Weighty Things’ O the messenger of Allah? he said: as for the greater weighty thing then it is the Book of Allah Mighty and Majestic, a rope extending from Allah and myself in your hands, one end of it is by the hand of Allah and the other end is in your hands, in it is the knowledge of what has passed and what is left until the Hour comes. As for the smaller weighty thing it is the ally of the Qur`an, and that is Ali b. Abi Talib and his descendants عليهم السلام – the two will not separate until they return to me at the Lake-fount.
Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh said: I relayed these words to Abi Ja`far عليه السلام so he said: Abu Tufayl has spoken the truth - may Allah have mercy on him - we have found this speech in the book of Ali and do recognize it.
أبي، عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن أبي عمير
جعفر بن محمد بن مسرور، عن الحسين بن محمد ابن عامر، عن عمه عبد الله بن عامر، عن محمد بن أبي عمير
محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل، عن علي بن الحسين السعد آبادي، عن أحمد بن أبي عبد الله البرقي، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن عبد الله بن سنان، عن معروف بن خربوذ، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة، عن حذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري بمثل هذا الحديث سواء
قال مصنف هذا الكتاب أدام الله عزه: الاخبار في هذا المعنى كثيرة وقد أخرجتها في كتاب المعرفة في الفضائل.
My father – Ali b. Ibrahim – his father – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr
Ja`far b. Muhammad b. Masrur – al-Husayn b. Muhammad b. A`mir – his uncle Abdallah b. A`mir – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr
Muhammad b. Musa al-Mutawakkil – Ali b. al-Husayn al-Sa`dabadi – Ahmad b. Abi Abdillah al-Barqi – his father – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr
---> Abdallah b. Sinan – Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh – Abi al-Tufayl A`mir b. Wathila – Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari
The author of this book [al-Saduq] said: the reports with the same meaning are numerous, and I have gathered them in the book ‘al-Ma`rifa fi al-Fadhail’
Al-Saduq, Al-Khisal, ed. `Alī Akbar al-Ghaffārī, 2 vols., (Qum: Mu’assasah al-Nashr al-Islāmi, 1403 AH), vol. 1, pg. 65, Hadīth # 98 [Chapter on the Number Two: The Questioning about the ‘Two weighty Things’ on the day of Judgment]
Breakdown of Narrators
i. al-Saduq (d. 380)
جليل القدر ... حافظاً للاحاديث، بصيراً بالرجال، ناقداً للاخبار، لم ير في القمّيين مثله في حفظه وكثرة علمه
[al-Tusi] Esteemed in status … had mastery over the Hadith and insight about the narrators [of Hadith]. His like has not been seen among the Qummis in terms of memorization and extent of knowledge.
ii. Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid (d. 343)
شيخ القميين وفقيههم ومتقدمهم ووجههم ... ثقة ثقة، عين، مسكون إليه
[Najashi] The Shaykh of the Qummis, their jurist, foremost representative and eminent head …Thiqatun Thiqa, Ayn, relied upon …
iii. Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar (d. 290)
كان وجهاً في أصحابنا القميّين، ثقة، عظيم القدر، راجحاً، قليل السقط في الرواية
[Najashi] He was an eminent head among our Qummi associates, Thiqa, great in station, given precedence, having very few lapses in narration.
iv.a Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab (d. 262)
جليل من أ صحابنا، عظيم القدر، كثير الرواية، ثقة، عين، حسن التصانيف، مسكون إلى روايته
[Najashi] Esteemed among our companions, great in station, prolific in narration, Thiqa, Ayn, able in authorship, his reports are relied upon.
iv.b Ya`qub b. Yazid (d. n/a)
كان ثقة صدوقا
[Najashi] He was Thiqa, truthful.
v. Ibn Abi Umayr (d. 217)
كان من أوثق الناس عند الخاصة والعامة، وأنسكهم نسكا، وأورعهم وأعبدهم، وقد ذكر الجاحظ في كتابه في فخر قحطان على عدنان بهذه الصفة التي وصفناه، وذكر أنه كان واحد أهل زمانه في الأشياء كلها
[Tusi] He was the most trust-worthy of people from both the Khassa [Shias] and `Amma [Sunnis], the most ascetic of them, the most scrupulous in abstaining from sins, and the most worshipful. al-Jahiz mentioned him in his books about the superiority of Qahtan compared to Adnan with this description which we have quoted and also said: he was matchless among his contemporaries in all aspects.
vi. Abdallah b. Sinan (d. n/a)
ثقة، من أصحابنا، جليل لا يطعن عليه في شئ له كتاب ... روى هذه الكتب عنه جماعات من أصحابنا لعظمه في الطائفة، وثقته وجلالته
[Najashi] Thiqa, from among our companions, esteemed, he is not criticized in anything, he authored the book … a large number of our companions transmitted these books on his authority because of his greatness in the sect and his trust-worthiness and merit.
vii. Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh (d. n/a)
أجمعت العصابة على تصديق هؤلاء الاولين من أصحاب أبي جعفر، وأصحاب أبي عبداللّه عليهما السلام وانقادوا لهم بالفقه، فقالوا أفقه الاولين ستّة: ... ومعروف بن خرّبوذ ...
[Kashshi] The whole sect is unanimous in deeming truthful the following foremost ones amongst the companions of Abi Ja`far and Abi Abdillah and yielding to them in matters of jurisprudence, so they said: the most judicious of the foremost ones are six: … Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh … [He is from Ashab al-Ijma]
viii. `Amir b. Wathila (d. 100)
أدرك ثماني سنين من حياة النبي صلى الله عليه وآله ولد عام أحد
[Tusi] He experienced eight years in the life of the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله having been born in the year of the battle of Uhud (3 AH)
وكان أبو الطفيل رأى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله، وهو آخر من رآه موتا
[Kashshi] Abu Tufayl saw the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله and he was the last one to die among those who had seen him.
Al-Barqi included his name among the closest companions [Khawass] of Ali. He participated in all the three battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan. He later joined Mukhtar’s uprising and was the carrier of the banner in that army.
ix. Hudhayfa b. Asid
محمد بن قولويه قال: حدثني سعد ابن عبد الله ابن أبي خلف، قال: حدثني علي بن سليمان بن داود الرازي، قال: حدثنا علي بن أسباط، عن أبيه أسباط بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن موسى بن جعفر عليهما السلام: إذا كان يوم القيامة نادى مناد: أين حواري محمد بن عبد الله رسول الله، الذين لم ينقضوا العهد ومضوا عليه؟ ... ثم ينادي المنادي: أين حواري الحسن بن علي عليهما السلام ابن فاطمة بنت محمد بن عبد الله رسول الله؟ فيقوم ... وحذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري ...
[Kashshi] Muhammad b. Qulawayh – Sa`d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf – Ali b. Sulayman b. Dawud al-Razi – Ali b. Asbat – Asbat b. Salim: Abu al-Hasan Musa b. Ja`far عليهما السلام said: when it will be the day of judgment a caller will cry out: where are the disciples of Muhammad b. Abdallah the messenger of Allah who did not break the covenant and passed on while faithful to it? … then a caller will cry: where are the disciples of al-Hasan b. Ali عليهما السلام the son of Fatima the daughter of Muhammad b. Abdallah the messenger of Allah? then will stand up … and Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari …
Corroboration for Connection of the Chain
A part of the upper chain [Ma`ruf > Abu Tufayl & Abu Tufayl > Hudhayfa] have occurred in a number of narrations in Sunni sources some of which are highlighted below:
وقال علي حدثوا الناس بما يعرفون أتحبون أن يكذب الله ورسوله حدثنا عبيد الله بن موسى عن معروف بن خربوذ عن أبي الطفيل عن علي بذلك
[al-Bukhari] Ali said: report to the people what they recognize – do you wish that Allah and his messenger be rejected. Ubaydullah b. Musa narrated this from Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh from Abi Tufayl from Ali.
As a sidenote, the later `Aimma spoke several statements similar to this which we understand to be about Taqiyya. However, since they do not see this Athar from Ali in this interpretive lens they have become confused about its exact meaning.
This is also the only time Bukhari narrates from Abu Tufayl [this is because he was a ‘Rafidhi’ companion].
وَحَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ دَاوُدَ، حَدَّثَنَا مَعْرُوفُ بْنُ خَرَّبُوذَ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا الطُّفَيْلِ، يَقُولُ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَطُوفُ بِالْبَيْتِ وَيَسْتَلِمُ الرُّكْنَ بِمِحْجَنٍ مَعَهُ وَيُقَبِّلُ الْمِحْجَنَ
[Muslim] Muhammad b. al-Muthanna: narrated to us Sulayman b. Dawud: narrated to us Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh who said: I heard Aba al-Tufayl saying: I saw the messenger of Allah circumambulating around the House and touching the Rukn with his stick and then kissing the stick.
This proves Sima`a between Ma`ruf and Abu al-Tufayl [i.e. that the former had indeed hear directly from the latter and that they were contemporaries] and also the Suhba of Aba al-Tufayl [i.e. that he was a companion].
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو خَيْثَمَةَ، زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ وَإِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَابْنُ أَبِي عُمَرَ الْمَكِّيُّ - وَاللَّفْظُ لِزُهَيْرٍ - قَالَ إِسْحَاقُ أَخْبَرَنَا وَقَالَ الآخَرَانِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ الْقَزَّازِ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ أَسِيدٍ الْغِفَارِيِّ، قَالَ اطَّلَعَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ نَتَذَاكَرُ فَقَالَ " مَا تَذَاكَرُونَ " قَالُوا نَذْكُرُ السَّاعَةَ قَالَ " إِنَّهَا لَنْ تَقُومَ حَتَّى تَرَوْنَ قَبْلَهَا عَشْرَ آيَاتٍ " فَذَكَرَ الدُّخَانَ وَالدَّجَّالَ وَالدَّابَّةَ وَطُلُوعَ الشَّمْسِ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا وَنُزُولَ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَيَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ وَثَلاَثَةَ خُسُوفٍ خَسْفٌ بِالْمَشْرِقِ وَخَسْفٌ بِالْمَغْرِبِ وَخَسْفٌ بِجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ وَآخِرُ ذَلِكَ نَارٌ تَخْرُجُ مِنَ الْيَمَنِ تَطْرُدُ النَّاسَ إِلَى مَحْشَرِهِمْ
[Muslim] Abu Khaythama Zuhayr b. Harb narrated to us, also Ishaq b. Ibrahim and Ibn Abi Umar al-Makki – and the wording is from Zuhayr – Ishaq said: Ishaq reported to us and the rest said: narrated to us Sufyan b. Uyayna from Furat al-Qazzaz from Abi Tufayl from Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari who said: the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم looked in on us while we were discussing, he said: what are you discussing? They said: we are discussing the Hour, he said: it will not come about until you see ten signs before it, then he mentioned the Smoke, the Dajjal, the Beast, the rising of the sun from its setting place, the descent of Isa b. Maryam صلى الله عليه وسلم, Gogg and Maggog, and three sinkings of land, a sinking in the East, a sinking in the West, and a sinking in the Arabian peninsula, and the last of them is a fire which originates from Yemen and rushes the people to their gathering place [Mahshar].
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Matrix is a System
If I told you that missionaries were going to your child's school everyday, preaching their religion and teaching that Islam is backwards and evil, you would be deeply concerned, right?
Well, libertine missionaries have already infiltrated the schools, the universities, the textbooks, the TV shows, the labour unions, and the HR departments. Their ideology teaches your kids everyday:
1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.
2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature - it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.
3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the "Umma", the "Church", or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married - if it suits your selfish interests - then "economic independence" must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.
4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a "social reformer", military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.
5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.
6. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose your name (first and last), your racial/ethnic/tribal affiliation, your sex, your gender, your style, and your mode of expression. "As long as you're not hurting anyone" (a very relative statement), anything goes.
7. Your sexuality should be celebrated and expressed publicly, no matter how deviant it is from global norms. Thou shalt not judge anyone's sex life or lack thereof. Sexual identity permeates our politics, our associations, and our fashion, and is either just as important or more important than our religious identity.
These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.
So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn't they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?
The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.
Don'tMakeA١٠١س reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Coin of al-Rida [Image Inside]
The Coin of al-Rida
Historical accounts and reports in our books of Hadith confirm that al-Ma`mun had coins minted in the name of al-Ridha after appointing him as his crown prince. These became a collectors item among the Shia being considered portents of Tabarruk especially to be carried during a journey. The Imam would bestow this as a memento to some of the believing Shia who came to visit him.
The Shia were pacified by this move of al-Ma`mun and many of them had expectations that the rule will finally revert back to its rightful place after more than a hundred years of usurpation.
حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن أيوب بن نوح قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: إنا لنرجو أن تكون صاحب هذا الامر وأن يرده الله عزوجل إليك من غير سيف، فقد بويع لك وضربت الدراهم باسمك، فقال: ما منا أحد اختلفت إليه الكتب، وسئل عن المسائل وأشارت إليه الاصابع، وحملت إليه الاموال إلا اغتيل أو مات على فراشه حتى يبعث الله عزوجل لهذا الامر رجلا خفي المولد والمنشأ غير خفي في نسبه
[Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid – Muhammad b. Hasan al-Saffar – Ya`qub b. Yazid – Ayub b. Nuh who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: we hope that you are to be the man of this matter (the promised ruler from Ahl al-Bayt), and that Allah عزوجل returns it to you without fighting - for you have been given allegiance to, and the coins have been minted with your name on them. He said: there is not one of us to whom letters have been written, questions have been asked, fingers have been pointed at, and monies have been sent to, except that he will be killed or will die on his bed until Allah عزوجل will send for this matter a man of hidden birth and origin whose lineage is not unknown.
طاهر بن بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن أحمد، عن عليّ بن محمّد بن شجاع، عن محمّد بن الحسين، عن معمّر بن خلاد قال: قال لي الريّان بن الصلت بمرو و كان الفضل بن سهل بعثه إلى بعض كور خراسان فقال: احبّ أن تستأذن لي على أبي الحسن عليه السّلام فاسلّم عليه و اودّعه، و أحبّ أن يكسوني من ثيابه و أن يهب لي من دراهمه الّتي ضربت باسمه ...
[al-Kashshi] Tahir b. Isa – Ja`far b. Ahmad - Ali b. Muhammad b. Shuja` - Muhammad b. al-Husayn [b. Abi al-Khattab] – Muammar b. Khallad who said: al-Rayyan b. al-Salt said to me in Marw after al-Fadhl b. Sahl [Ma`mun’s vizier] had dispatched him to some of the villages in Khurasan: I would like you to seek permission on my behalf from Abi al-Hasanعليه السّلام [to allow me to meet him] so that I can greet him and bid him farewell. I would also like it if he could give me a piece of clothing from among his clothes and gift me a few of his silver coins that were minted in his name …
أخبرني محمد بن يونس الأنباري قال حدثني أبي: أن إبراهيم بن العباس الصولي دخل على الرضا لما عقد له المأمون وولاه العهد، فأنشده قوله:
أزالت عزاء القلب بعد التجلد ... مصارع أولاد النبي محمد (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
فوهب له عشرة آلاف درهم من الدراهم التي ضربت باسمه، فلم تزل عند إبراهيم، وجعل منها مهور نسائه، وخلف بعضها لكفنه وجهازه إلى قبره
[al-Aghani] Muhammad b. Yunus al-Anbari – his father who said: The poet Ibrahim b. al-Abbas al-Suli came in to see al-Rida when he was appointed by al-Ma`mun and made the crown prince and recited the following verse:
The grief of the heart has receded after enduring … the repression against the sons of Muhammad
Al-Rida gifted him ten thousand silver coins which were minted in his name, Ibrahim held on to them and used them as dowry for marrying his wives and left some of them behind to purchase his shrowd and for the carrying of his body [to the grave].
The wonderful thing is that archaeologists and scholars of numismatics have discovered a few pieces of this coin which is considered a rarefied item.
Below is an image of the coin:
Period: The Abbasid Caliphate, 132-218 H/750-833 AD,
Ruler: Abu Ja‘far ‘Abd Allah al-Ma’mun ibn al-Rashid, (194-218 H/810-833 AD)
Place of Mint: Samarqand in Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan)
Date: 202 H (817-818 AD)
Metal and denomination: Silver dirham
Weight and measurement: 2.87 g / Ø 25.5 mm
Legend and Design
la ilah illa / Allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu / al-mashriq
“no god but God, unique, He has no associate, East
bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-samarqand sana ithnatayn wa mi‘atayn
“in the name of God this dirham was struck in Samarqand the year two and two hundred”
muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi
“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions”
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33 (in part)
lillah / muhammad rasul Allah / al-ma’mun khalifat Allah / mimma amara bihi al-amir al-rida / wali ‘ahd al-muslimin ‘ali ibn musa / ibn ‘ali ibn abi talib / dhu’l-riyasatayn
“for God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Ma’mun is the Caliph of God, among the things ordered by the Prince al-Rida, Recipient of the Oath of the Muslims ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Possesser of the Two Headships”
muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun
“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it”
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33