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In the Name of God بسم الله
guest050817 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Hoor al-`Ayn are not White Chicks
There is a common misconception among modern Muslim men that they will be rewarded with white women in Paradise. This attitude has even caused some to justify their preference of light-skin women and Western women through Islamic texts that describe beautiful women in this world and the Hereafter. They put white skin on a pedestal, which both sidelines women with darker complexions, and objectifies women with lighter skin. I would like to investigate the claim that the heavenly maidens of Paradise are essentially "white girls".
Heaven is unlike anything
In the hadith literature, Paradise is described as what the eye has not seen, what the ear has not heard, and what the heart has not imagined. ( مَا لَا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَ لَا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَ لَا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ ). You will be an entirely new creation in Paradise, which will cause those who suffered most in this world to completely forget their suffering. Therefore the descriptions of the pleasures of Paradise are, at most, symbols of things that we cannot exactly know.
The meaning of abyad
The word that modern Arabs use to refer to the colour "white" ( أبيض ) has certainly been used to describe the women of Paradise. In one narration, the Prophet (s) says that the women of Paradise will be every shade of "white" ( ان في الجنة نهرا حافتاه الابكار من كل بيضاء ). In another narration, Imam ar-Rida recites a poem in which he describes beautiful "white" women ( أَرَى الِبيضَ الْحِسَانَ يَجِدْنَ عَنِّي ). Other narrations associate this "whiteness" with pleasure ( سعادة الرجل أن يكشف الثوب عن امرأة بيضاء ).
But what does all of this mean? Abyad comes from the root word bayada ( بيض ), which means "to lay eggs". An egg is a bayda ( بيضة ), and eggs can be white or brown, depending on the colour of the feathers of the chicken. In Arabic, there is no special word for either type of egg, both are given the name bayda, which is related to the word for "white".
Several Arabic dictionaries have interpreted abyad to mean pure, fair, and without blemish; rather than strictly "white". Here are a few references:
In Lisan al-`Arab:
إذا قالت العرب فلان أبيض، وفلانة بيضاء، فالمعنى نقاء العرض من الدنس والعيوب لا يريدون به بياض اللون، ولكنهم يريدون المدح بالكرم، ونقاء العرض من العيوب وإذا قالوا: فلان أبيض الوجه، وفلانة بيضاء الوجه، أرادوا نقاء اللون من الكلف والسواد الشائن
“When the Arabs say that a man is white or a woman is white, they mean that he has an appearance that is pure and clear from defects. They don’t mean that he has a white complexion, but they mean that someone has an appearance that is pure from defects. When they say that a man or woman has a white face, they mean that their colour is pure from blemish and darkness.
”العرب لا تقول : رجل أبيض من بياض اللون إنما الأبيض عندهم الطاهر النقي من العيوب”
The Arab does not say that a man is white in terms of the colour white. Rather, the "white" for them is he who is pure from any defects.
Abu Tayyib al-Lughawi says in Kitab al-Idad al-`Arab:
” و انما الأبيض من الناس البعيد من الدنس، النقي من العيب“
The whitest of people are those who are far from impurity, and are purified from defects.
Ibn Atheer says in an-Nahaya fii Ghareeb al-Hadith:
الغر : جمع الأغر ، من الغرة : بياض الوجه ، يريد بياض وجوههم بنور الوضوء يوم القيامة
The innocent (al-ghurr); its plural is al-aghur, from al-ghurra: a white face, meaning, a face whitened by light and illumination on the Day of Resurrection.
al-Dhahabi says in Siyar A`laam an-Nubala':
“إن العرب إذا قالت: فلان أبيض ، فإنهم يريدون الحنطي اللون بحلية سوداء”
When Arabs say a person is white, they mean tawny in colour with black hair.
So according to these dictionaries, "whiteness" in a person is either: (1) purity in their reputation, (2) purity in their appearance with no blemishes or defects (scars, birth marks, discolouration, wrinkles, moles, bumps), (3) tawny or wheat-coloured skin, (4) light and illumination, (5) a strong contrast between their face and hair colours.
The meaning of hoor al-`ayn
The Quran describes the houri (hoor al-`ayn) as a heavenly beauty that has been gifted exclusively to a good, believing person. The Quran does not provide much more detail than that. The hoor al-`ayn can be translated as "one with contrasting eyes", and it is often tied to the related word hawra', which refers to a person who has a strong contrast between her dark pupil and white sclera (white part of the eye). If this is the meaning of hooriya, then her "whiteness" may have more to do with her eyes than her skin. The word hawar can also mean "to bleach", but also "to tan". The same word is used in the Quran to refer to the apostles of Jesus, who were "purified" from evil ( فَسُمِّيَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ حَوَارِيِّينَ لانَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُخْلَصِينَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَمُخْلِصِينَ لِغَيْرِهِمْ مِنْ أَوْسَاخِ الذُّنُوبِ ). The word therefore may also be an indication to the maiden's spiritual purity and not just her physical beauty.
The word hoor also means to change, alter, remodel, and modify, so perhaps one feature of this heavenly beauty is constant rejuvenation and transformation.
Another related word means to converse and discuss - it is possible that there is more to the houri than her looks!
I have heard that there may be a relationship between hooriya and hayara, which means "to be confused, bewildered, perplexed, baffled, embarrassed", because the believer will be perplexed by the startling beauty of the hoor al-`ayn.
Remember that we cannot imagine Paradise, so the skintone of the heavenly beauty would also be beyond comprehension.
The word for "pale" in Arabic is actually yellow
When Arabs describe a pale complexion, such as a pale face of an ill person, they use the word musfar (مصفر), which means "yellowed", rather than saying he has been whitened.
The Prophet's colour
Many hadiths describe the Prophet Muhammad (s) as being abyad, but these could be descriptions of the fairness of his skin or the purity of his character. Other hadiths say that the Prophet was reddish. To reconcile both sets of narrations, one can say that he had a tawny or wheatish complexion, which was light in Arabia but unlike the pale western Europeans. While modern Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples have a monopoly on "whiteness" today, most people in the Middle East would have never met such people by the 7th century.
White faces on the Day of Resurrection
The Quran describes the believers' faces on the Day of Resurrection as "white" (3:106), but this will be due to their illumination. Some hadiths describe that the body parts washed in wudu will glow in the Hereafter, which includes the face, and other hadiths say that the wudu washes sins away from a person. Similarly, other narrations discuss the illumination of the faces of those who stay up to pray at night. These are not references to pigment.
"Whiteness" will be due to light, and the colour of light, which was found in the Sun, Moon, and fire, ranges from orange to light yellow.
Lady Fatima was a human houri
Several narrations describe Lady Fatima (as) as a human houri. Her houri nature in Paradise was a dazzling light ( نورا ساطعا ) - first she was beneath the Throne, and then she resided within a fruit in Paradise - both in the form of a beautiful lady of light.
Paradise is much more than this world
In conclusion, there is much more to look forward to in the next world than conquering a colonial inferiority complex. Muslims have a very complicated relationship with white folks - from lust, to hatred, to jealousy, to emulation - and our relationships with other races are no where near as complex. The first step to overcome something is to realize and understand it. Allah gave us all of our hues so that we may learn about one another, and understand that the Creator of spectrums is beyond all spectrums Himself. If the hoor al-`ayn is simply a pretty white girl, then she would not be a sufficient reward for the believers, since there are plenty of them in this dunya. Paradise is more than a brothel, open bar, and buffet. It's a chance to gain true proximity to Allah, through His Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt, and to gain gnosis. The journey into timelessness starts in this world, and it culminates in the Hereafter.
guest050817 reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, A Hadith 'Banning' Foreclosure?
The modern economic system and the immoral capitalism that it can engender have given rise to preposterous inequality, greed-based wars and rampant poverty.
The two engines for this exploitative system continue to be ‘interest’ and ‘gambling [stock speculation]’ both of which were outlawed by Islam in its quest to build a humane society. Take away both and most of the inflated ‘bubble’ will collapse hopefully to be replaced by a worth-based economy.
A pillar of this system is ‘debt’, millions tethered to their credit cards, having to service the seemingly ever-increasing burden on them whilst employed in under-paid jobs. The wealth floods upwards instead of 'trickling down' making a few fat cats richer without having to sweat a single drop.
Islam is more generous in its allowance for a grace period to the one struggling and even encouraging full cancellation of the debt as an act of charity.
وَإِنْ كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ مَيْسَرَةٍ ۚ وَأَنْ تَصَدَّقُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease; and that you remit the debt as almsgiving would be better for you if you did but know” (2:280).
Sharks give loans to under-privileged and desperate people whom they prey on and then auction off their homes [which was placed as warranty] the moment they default or even before.
In under-developed countries, a wide-spread practice is for the house of the defaulter to be putatively sold off at a paltry price – equal to the loan and far below the real value of the house – but that is only as far as records on the books are concerned, everyone knows that in reality a sweet confidential deal has been agreed upon with a pre-selected buyer who pays a large commission for being given the privilege of first dibs.
This Hadith which al-Muhsini places in the Bab on Usul al-Fiqh - as it indicates the Hujiyya [authority] of Khabar al-Wahid [solitary report] because Ibn Abi Umayr is citing Dharih’s narration as evidence for his action, reveals another even more important principle in Islam as taught by the Imam i.e. creditors should not demand and take away someone’s home for the sake of recovering a loan.
A note of caution: Since the need to fulfill contractual obligations is stressed in Islam, and considering the technical nature of the subject, this narration should not be seen as a ruling [a field which is left to the Maraji who are the experts], however, we can still gleam from it a general spirit encouraged by Islam.
[-/11] الفقيه: بإسناده عن ابراهيم بن هاشم ان محمد بن ابي عمير كان رجلا بزازا فذهب ماله وافتقره وكان له على رجل عشرة آلاف درهم فباع دارا له كان يسكنها بعشرة آلاف درهم وحمل المال إلى بابه فخرج اليه محمد بن ابي عمير فقال: ما هذا؟ فقال: هذا مالك الذي لك علي قال: ورثته؟ قال: لا قال: وهب لك؟ قال: لا قال: فهل هو ثمن ضيعة بعتها؟ قال: لا قال: فما هو؟ قال: بعت داري التي اسكنها لاقضي ديني فقال محمد بن ابي عمير: حدثني ذريح المحاربي عن ابي عبدالله عليه السلام انه قال: لا يخرج الرجل عن مسقط رأسه بالدين، ارفعها فلا حاجة لي فيها والله اني لمحتاج في وقتي هذا إلى درهم واحد وما يدخل ملكي منها درهم واحد
[11/-] al-Faqih: Via his chain from Ibrahim b. Hashim that - Muhammad b. Abi Umayr was a cloth merchant whose wealth perished and he fell into indigence, he had however loaned out ten thousand silver coins to someone, so the one he owed sold his house which he used to live in at a price of ten thousand silver coins and carried the whole sum to his (Ibn Abi Umayr’s) door, so Muhammad b. Abi Umayr came out to him and said: what is this? he said: this is your money which was due upon me, he said: you have inherited it? he said: no, he said: it has been gifted to you? he said: no, he said: is it the price of a land you have sold? He said: no, he said: then what is it? he said: I sold my house in which I live in so that I can repay my debt, so Muhammad b. Abi Umayr said: Dharih al-Muharibi narrated to me from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام that he said: "a man is not driven out of his place of residence (home) because of debt" take it away for I have no need of it, by Allah even though I do have a need of even a single silver coin at this time - I will not take a single one of them into my possession.
guest050817 reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, A ShiaChat Reunion?
As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for .
As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree ), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.
This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.
On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries.
Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.
Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.
@Baatil Ka Kaatil @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.
guest050817 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Trees are People
Trees play a prominent role in many religious texts. With their roots in the ground and their branches stretching toward the sky, trees are linked to the heavens and the Earth, the spiritual and the material, and the vertical and the horizontal. They are like an axis or a pole that stands between both worlds. Its greenery is a symbol of life, its shade is a symbol of comfort, and its fruits are a symbol of fertility. As deciduous trees shed their leaves in some seasons, they are resurrected in others, demonstrating God's power to bring life to the dead.
Ancient people drew parallels between trees and people. A tree's fruit became a symbol of one's offspring, deeds, or knowledge, and a diagram detailing your family "roots" is a "family tree". There are many Islamic examples where this same parallel is made:
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "A hypocrite is like the trunk of a palm tree. When its owner intends to use it in construction, it does not fit in the place he wants it to fit. He then tries to fit it elsewhere, but it still does not fit. So in the end, he throws it in the fire." ( قال رسول الله صلىاللهعليهوآلهمثل المنافق مثل جذع النخل أراد صاحبه أن ينتفع به في بعض بنائه فلم يستقم له في الموضع الذي أراد فحوله في موضع آخر فلم يستقم له فكان آخر ذلك أن أحرقه بالنار )
The trunk in this example is the hypocrite. The carpenter sees that it is a trunk, and potentially useful, but it does not meet his requirements. Similarly, Allah tests and tries the hypocrite, but when He sees no good and no use in him, He punishes the hypocrite with hellfire.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "The believers are like sprouting plants that are swirled back and forth by the winds, as the believers are also turned and bent by pain and illness. The hypocrites are like iron rods that are not affected by anything, until they meet death and are shattered by it." ( قال رسول الله صلىاللهعليهوآله مثل المؤمن كمثل خامة الزرع تكفئها الرياح كذا وكذا وكذلك المؤمن تكفئه
الأوجاع والأمراض ومثل المنافق كمثل الإرزبة المستقيمة التي لا يصيبها شيء حتى يأتيه الموت فيقصفه قصفا )
Just as the trees and plants are abused by strong gusts of wind, the believer is tried with his desires (hawa, هوى, which also means "wind"). The hypocrite however is not swirled by the wind because he lives in complete heedlessness (ghafla), and is stiffened by his wickedness, until Allah destroys him.
“And those who believed and did righteous deeds will be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein by permission of their Lord; and their greeting therein will be, "Peace!" Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability.” (14:24-26)
Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] was asked about the verse, "as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into the sky." (14:24) He said, "The Messenger of Allah (s) is its root, Amir al-Mu'mineen is its branches, the Imams from their progeny are its twigs, the knowledge of the Imams are its fruits, and their believing Shi`a are its leaves. By Allah, when a believer gives birth, a leaf sprouts on it; and when a believers dies, a leaf falls from it." ( سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن قول الله: " كشجرة طيبة أصلها ثابت وفرعها في السماء " قال: فقال: رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله أصلها، وأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرعها، والائمة من ذريتهما أغصانها وعلم الائمة ثمرتها وشيعتهم المؤمنون ورقها، هل فيها فضل؟ قال: قلت: لا والله، قال: والله إن المؤمن ليولد فتورق ورقة فيها وإن المؤمن ليموت فتسقط ورقة منها. )
This is an interesting exegesis, and it is crucial to understanding the Quran's analogy. Allah says that a good word is like a good tree. As we know, Jesus (as) was called a "word" (3:45), and in Shi`i exegesis, a word is a person, because Allah summons a person into existence by simply saying a word ("be!", kun faya koon). Allah then compares a goodly word to a goodly tree (shajaratin tayyiba), and this tree may indeed be the Blessed Tree ("shajarat tuba") described elsewhere in the Quran and hadith literature, as the previous verse is describing Paradise, and tuba and tayyiba come from the same root word. The Blessed Tree is one of the best rewards in Paradise, it is said to be in the house of `Ali b. Abi Talib ( دخلت الجنة رأيت في الجنة شجرة طوبى أصلها في دار علي عليه السلام ). After all, a Paradise (jannah) in Arabic is a garden with trees. Either way, the hadith above says that this tree is the Prophet, his Ahl al-Bayt, and their followers. Another hadith compares the Ahl al-Bayt to the trees of Paradise:
Allah said to Moses regarding the Prophet (s), "You are from his Nation if you recognize His status and the status of his Ahl al-Bayt. His example and the example of his Ahl al-Bayt in the creation are like that of the trees in the Gardens of Paradise - their leaves do not shed, and their flavours do not change." ( يا موسى أنت من امته إذا عرفت منزلته ومنزلة أهل بيته ، إن مثله ومثل أهل بيته فيمن خلقت كمثل الفردوس في الجنان لا ينتشر ( 3 ) ورقها ولا يتغير طعمها )
The trees in this example are evergreen tree with perpetually fresh fruit, because life in Paradise is everlasting, and taking from the Ahl al-Bayt's knowledge will result in eternal bliss.
Just as there is a Blessed Tree in Paradise, there is a cursed tree in Hellfire.
“Is Paradise a better accommodation, or the Tree of Zaqqum? Verily, we have made it a torment for the wrongdoers. Verily, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of Hell. Its emerging fruit is as if it was the heads of devils. And verily, they will eat from it and fill their bellies with it. Then verily, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water. Then verily, their return will be to Hell.” (37:62-68)
An Umayyad man named Sa`d b. `Abd al-Malik used to visit Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a). The Imam used to call him "Sa`d the Good". Sa`d entered upon Imam al-Baqir [a], and Sa`d began weeping profusely. The Imam asked, "Why do you weep, Sa`d?" Sa`d said, "How can I not weep when I come from the lineage of the cursed tree of the Qur’an?" So Imam al-Baqir [a] said to him, "You are not from them. You are an Umayyad, but from us, the Ahl al-Bayt. Have you not heard the saying of Allah, speaking of Abraham? 'Whosoever follows me is from me.' (14:36)" ( دخل سعد بن عبد الملك وكان أبو جعفر عليه السلام يسميه سعد الخير وهو من ولد عبد العزيز بن مروان على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فبينا ينشج كما تنشج النساء (3) قال:
فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: ما يبكيك يا سعد؟ قال وكيف لا أبكي وأنا من الشجرة الملعونة في القرآن، فقال له: لست منهم أنت أموي منا أهل البيت أما سمعت قول الله عز وجل يحكي عن إبراهيم: " فمن تبعني فإنه مني )
This Tree of Zaqqum has fruits that look like the heads of devils. Perhaps this is because the devils, both human and jinn, are the offspring (fruit) of evil. In this hadith, the oppressors from the Umayyads are described as the flesh-and-blood Tree of Zaqqum. They are the family that is juxtaposed to the Ahl al-Bayt in heaven.
The Messenger of Allah (s) would kiss Lady Fatima [a] frequently; and he said, "When I was taken up to heaven, I entered Paradise, and Gabriel brought me close to the Blessed Tree (Tuba). He gave me a fruit from it and I ate it. Then, Allah turned it into water in my loins. So when I descended to the Earth and went to Khadija, she became pregnant with Fatima. Whenever I long for Paradise, I kiss her, and I never kiss her without finding the fragrance of the Blessed Tree upon her, for she is [both] a human and a dark-eyed heavenly maiden." ( وعنه قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله يكثر تقبيل فاطمة عليها السلام، فأنكرت ذلك عايشة، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: يا عايشة اني لما اسرى بي إلى السماء دخلت الجنة فأدناني جبرئيل من شجرة طوبى، وناولني من ثمارها فأكلته، فحول الله ذلك ماء في ظهري فلما هبطت إلى الأرض واقعت خديجة فحملت بفاطمة، وكلما اشتقت إلى الجنة قبلتها وما قبلتها قط الا وجدت رائحة شجرة طوبى فهي حوراء انسية )
If the Blessed Tree is truly the Ahl al-Bayt, then it would make sense that Lady Fatima would also come from that tree.
Imam `Ali [a] said, "The tree whose trunk is soft has thick branches." (وقال عليه السلام : مَنْ لاَنَ عُودُهُ كَثُفَتْ أَغْصَانُهُ.)
The person who is haughty and ill-tempered can never succeed in making his surroundings pleasant. His acquaintances will feel wretched and sick of him. But if a person is good-tempered and sweet-tongued people will like to get close to him and befriend him. At the time of need they will prove to be his helpers and supporters whereby he can make his life a success.
Imam `Ali (a) said, "Prayer sheds sins like the shedding of leaves off trees" (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 109)
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, "When a believer meets the believer and shakes hands, Allah looks to them, and sins fall from their faces like leaves fall from trees." ( إن المؤمن ليلقى المؤمن فيصافحه، فلا يزال الله ينظر إليهما والذنوب تتحات عن وجوههما كما يتحات الورق من الشجر )
A man asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) about the verse, "They made for him (Solomon) what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells ..." (34:13) The Imam replied, "These were not statues of men or women, but rather, they were statues of trees and their like." ( قلت لأبي جعفر (عليه السلام): "يعملون له ما يشاء - من محاريب و تماثيل و جفان كالجواب" قال: ما هي تماثيل الرجال و النساء و لكنها تماثيل الشجر و شبهه )
Statues are normally ornaments that are shaped like people. In this exegesis, the statues of Solomon were in the form of trees instead, as though trees can take the place of people.
Allah said to Jesus [a], "O Jesus! How numerous are the humans, yet how few in number are the patient. The trees are many, but the good ones are few, so do not be deceived by the beauty of the tree until you have tasted its fruit." (يا عيسى ما أكثر البشر وأقل عدد من صبر، الاشجار كثيرة وطيبها قليل، فلا يغرنك حسن شجرة حتى تذوق ثمرها.)
This direct comparison between trees and people is one that can also be found in the New Testament, where Jesus allegedly says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20) The fruits in this example are the actions of individuals, which are a better indicator to a person's inner nature than his appearance.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, regarding His saying: “So man should look to his food” (80:24). "[He should look] to his knowledge which he takes and whom he takes it from." ( عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام في قوله تعالى " فلينظر الانسان إلى طعامه " قال: إلى علمه الذي يأخذه عمن يأخذه )
This is very pertinent. Just as a person may consume the fruit of a tree, people are also consumers of knowledge. This hadith is a warning to the believers to take their knowledge from the correct source. Taking knowledge from the immaculate luminaries (a) will give them everlasting life in Paradise.
Jesus [a] said, "Wisdom is established with humility, not with arrogance, just as plants grow in plain, soft ground but not on hard ground and rocks." ( قال عيسى عليه السلام: بالتواضع تعمر الحكمة لا بالتكبر، وكذلك في السهل ينبت الزرع لا في الجبل )
Just as a tree can only grow on soft soil, the believer can only truly develop if humility is his foundation.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, "The one you seek and have hopes for will verily rise from Mecca. And he will not rise from Mecca until he sees what he loves, even if it happens that parts of a tree eats [its other] parts." (ابن عقدة، عن حميد بن زياد، عن الحسن بن محمد الحضرمي عن جعفر بن محمد(ع)، وعن يونس بن يعقوب، عن سالم المكي، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة أن الذي تطلبون وترجون إنما يخرج من مكة وما يخرج من مكة حتى يرى الذي يحب ولو صار أن يأكل الاعضاء أعضاء الشجرة . )
This narration is describing the rise of the Mahdi, who would come during a great schism between the ruling family of the Middle East. Perhaps this tree eating itself is a description of the infighting between the rulers of that time, which would indeed be pleasing to the Mahdi.
There are many other examples that can be applied, from the story of Adam, to the mi`raj, to other stories involving trees in the Quran. Something to keep in mind is that the Ahl al-Bayt do not speak aimlessly - their examples are full of wisdom, and their examples are full of meaning. If one devotes himself or herself to more than a cursory reading of the scriptures, one will better understand the meaning of these symbols and find intricate connections between these examples.
May Allah give us the Blessed Tree in Paradise in the Hereafter.
guest050817 reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, What they don't teach at Harvard Business School
The classic marketing text used in business schools around the world is written by Philip Kotler.
The underlying premise of the book is that at long as a business identifies the needs of its customers correctly and then delivers those in a way that is superior to its competitors it will be successful. The text pays close attention to the marketing functions performed within organisations and how they can be done more effectively.
The idea that business is a meritocracy, that delivering superior value to customers is what it takes to succeed is one that is used to sell the attractiveness of such an economy. Anyone can have a go, and anyone can succeed provided they follow the formula.
There is, however, an underlying problem with the formula and that is its essentially atomistic nature. All humans are considered equal and social biases are assumed out of the equation.
But that is not how business works.
Groups of individuals can collude (legally) to help each other by ethnicity, language, family and religion. The playing field is not level.
Those people who buy the textbook lie may find that those who play by a different set of rules end up winning. Indeed this can, sometimes, be the only way forward for those people from minority communities who'd otherwise not be able to enter the mainstream.
Success can depend not just on excellent customer service and an innovative business idea, but having access to capital, ideally at preferential rates. Success can also depend on having people in the distribution and supply chains who trust you and who are willing to take a risk.
That's unlikely to happen amongst total strangers. It's more likely to happen where you have networks of people who are already in business and who see your potential success as a means of building up social ties that contain future obligations and favours.
Of course, the unwritten rule of business schools is that you go there to make connections with people who could be useful later and to that extent the people who go there recognise the reality of the situation.
guest050817 reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Unlimited pleasure
There are arguments given by atheists challenging religious beliefs, and resulting practices that science does not support and which atheists argue should be abandoned by believers.
In this essay, I want to look at one example, where I think science is catching up with religion.
The industrial farming of sugar by Europeans in the West Indies, starting from the eighteenth century, is a good example of improving the supply of something that was supposed to vastly improve the pleasure of significant numbers of people at little cost. Almost suddenly the population of Europe discovered how to sweeten their diet. It took many many decades to realise that, of course, there were health costs and the realisation that industrial production on this scale and such limited cost required unacceptable human sacrifices as well.
The story for tobacco is a similar one.
Relatively more recently we've cracked the problem of industrially producing foods that were hitherto a luxury, such as chicken. But at least in this instance, the knowledge that the welfare costs borne by the chicken are unacceptable has come much more quickly than was the case for the slaves producing sugar and tobacco. In the case of the chicken attempts to improve the situation have happened more quickly as well.
We could list similar examples wherever man has acquired the technical knowledge that the hitherto expensive and difficult to manufacture could be made more cheaply in many instances this has come with a high cost to the human workers and animals involved in the production process.
But what is also noteworthy is that in many instances there has also been an unacceptable cost to the consumers who had originally assumed that a source of cheap pleasure had been discovered. A high sugar diet kills, low tobacco consumption kills and meat produced with little regard for animal welfare is not healthy either.
What are the implications for today? Just as improvements in shipping, various agricultural practices and refining processes allowed us to produce sugar, so various technical advances have allowed us to produce far higher and better 'quality' levels of entertainment for far lower cost than was previously ever the case. In a matter of 50 year years, television has gone from something that could only realistically be watched for a few hours a day to something that can deliver a variety of entertainment 24 hours a day, seven days a week for entire years. And we now realise the health costs of a sedentary lifestyle.
But television also provides a good example of another risk that we are facing. The passive consumption of such entertainment nevertheless requires on the part of those being entertained some variety and on the part of those providing the entertainment there are advantages to reducing costs.
Adding to this toxic mix is the realisation that although the original goals for entertainment may have been lofty, without a strict ethical and moral framework imposing restrictions the result is all too easily entertainment that appeals to the lowest common denominator and that is sex and we have the 21st century equivalent of sugar, which is pornography.
There is a growing, but still limited, understanding of the effect of the consumption of porn, and in the case of children the science is still in its infancy. Also, the longer-term effects on entire societies are not well understood, because the experiments necessary to understand the impact are still being done, in real-time on actual societies.
We are the guinea pigs because even people who do not consciously watch pornography are affected by people who do. The producer who makes a 'racy' drama for mass family audiences, could likely have had their ideas on what is acceptable shaped by their consumption of pornography. Gender relations, how men interact with women are all influenced by the communications to which they are exposed. The impact can therefore be in terms of how ubiquitous (pervasive) the impact is and also how insidious. Without stretching the point, the parallel with sugar is again interesting. Sugar consumption has become pervasive, we consume it even when we do not think we are, it is present in all manner of unlikely foods. Because, once marketers recognised our preference - including it in a wide range of offerings (in order to be customer focused) was the normal reaction of the market place.
Like sugar, pornography held the promise of unlimited pleasure, at very low cost.
Religious and moral objectors have appeared to have little science to back their reservations. If you combine the morality of the market with the assumption that anything adults (in this case the actors who perform) do out of their free will, for a fair wage, is acceptable, then there appear to be no restrictions at all as to what is done. Porn becomes a guilt-free pleasure.
Initially, with what vestige of moral scruples remained, there were restrictions on supply and limitations on what children could watch. But in the case of children the advance of technology has meant that those restrictions have become difficult to enforce and regarding moral limits these have become more lax, as each passing generation has become more liberal in its tolerance of what is acceptable, having been conditioned by what they were exposed to.
But just as our experience with sugar and tobacco and other products has shown us over the past few centuries, our being able to deliver pleasure at an industrial scale for low cost for the 'benefit' of large sections of society never ends well.
At least with these offerings, the long-term costs paid by consumers were purely physical, with more recent products subject to industrialisation the costs are more likely to be psychological.
An Islamic society that adheres to its principles would likely not have affected the growth trajectories of sugar and tobacco, other than perhaps slow down their initial establishment.
The fair treatment of slaves would have imposed higher costs. However, in the case of pornography restrictions on what people are allowed to see of others should provide clear limits as to what can and cannot be consumed. Bear in mind that Islam does not have some vague restrictions on what people can and cannot see, the restrictions are explicit and formalised.
This approach has a clear advantage when it comes to something like porn, whose non-religious definition has clearly changed over the years. What is now healthy family viewing was porn for previous generations. This is a product whose very consumption affects how we define it. Yet the Islamic injunction is very clear and is intended to hold for all time.
This is a clear case of where science catches up with orthodox, traditional religious morality.
guest050817 reacted to Abu Hadi for a blog entry, Going Astray, Part 1
بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ1:1
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
"Oh Mankind, what has distracted you from your Lord, The Generous"
Holy Quran 82:6
Noone starts out life with the intention of being a criminal. I have never met a little boy who told me 'I want to grow up to be a drug dealer'. I have never met a little girl who told me 'I want to grow up to be a prostitute'. Noone starts out life with the intention of being an anti social person, or someone with no religion or connection to Allah(s.w.a). It is something that begins as a small things and progresses in stages.
Evil is described most often in the Quran as a 'disease in the hearts'. This is not talking about the physical heart, but the 'qalb' or spiritual heart. The physical heart pumps blood to every cell in our body, and with the blood, the oxygen, food, and nutrients our cells need in order to keep on living. The spiritual heart also provides our spirit with the food it needs in order for our spirit, our nafs to sustain itself. When there is a disease in this spiritual heart, it is no longer able to provide us with what we need in order to sustain our spirit, and our spirit undergoes a slow and agonizing death before the death of the body. This is why, many times in our life, we come across individuals who are nothing but a hollow shell, simply living to fulfill their lower, animal desires with no 'spark' in their eyes. How did they get like that ? Were they born that way ? Obviously not. We should take a lesson from this.
While it is true that life in this world provides many opportunities for us to grow spiritually and for us to strengthen our connection with Allah(s.w.a), this life is also a minefield. It is full of flowers and springs that hide underneath them or besides them a deadly trap. If we step on that mine or fall into that trap, it could destroy or sabotage all the good deeds we have done and all the effort we have put into our journey toward our Creator(s.w.a). None of us are immune from this, since we all live in the world and are subject to it's rules and conditions.
If you look at Islam compared to other religions, it is a complete religion. While there are other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and others which have very beautiful and wonderful spiritual teachings, homilies, sound advice, and wisdom, these religions are not complete (in their modern forms) because they lack the basic ingredients needed to preserve the spiritual gains that they make thru worship and other righteous acts. These religions, when they are practiced, are like a house in which there is piles of gold, but the doors are left unlocked so that thieves could go in at night and take whatever they want. So the followers of these religions think that they are rich because of all the gold that they have, but when they go and inspect their house (usually after their death) they find there is nothing left inside to benefit them.
Once upon a time…a man heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) say that for each time a person recites Subhan’Allah, Allah plants for him a tree in paradise. The man stood up and said if this were the case, then there must be many trees for us in paradise. Upon which the Prophet replied, “Yes, but you must be careful that you do not set fire from here and burn them all down.” (Iddat ad-Dai).
So Islam, in contrast for other religions, has a way for us to preserve our spiritual gains and rewards. That is the Shariat. The laws which were made incumbent upon us by Allah(s.w.a). The halal, wajib, and the haram. This is also called the Taslim (where the word Islam comes from) or obedience to Allah(s.w.a) by doing what He(s.w.a) loves us to do and refraining from what He(s.w.a) hates us to do. This is the shield that blocks the arrows, and the armour that protects us from the landmines, and the light which helps us to see where the traps are laid for us.
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
Convey whatever of The Book has been revealed unto thee, and be constant in prayer: for, behold, prayer restrains [man] from indecency and from all that runs counter to reason; and remembrance of God is indeed the greatest [good]. And God knows all that you do.
Holy Quran 29:45
Notice in the above ayat of the Quran the word 'Salat'. The word Salat has a specific meaning in Islam. It is the prayer that is prescribed for us, as muslims, i.e. The Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and the Friday Prayer (Salat Jumaat). The wajib prayers, i.e. the ones that muslims pray, keeps off from the person indecency and loathsome deeds. Prayers has a general meaning in Islam, 'du'a' and a specific meaning 'Salat'.
But at the same time only following part of the wajib, haram, and halal and not the other parts will not protect us. We must fulfill ALL our duties to Allah(s.w.a), those that are required of us, in order to preserve our nafs against the spiritual diseases and traps. InShahAllah, in the next entries, I will go into more detail about this subject.
guest050817 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Grading Hadiths: An Introduction
Biographical evaluation (`ilm ad-diraya, `ilm ar-rijal) exists both in Sunni and Shi`i branches, and it refers to the strengthening and weakening of individual narrators & transmitters, and chains of transmission (isnad, or plural: asaneed). The purpose of the system is to grade hadith reports based on the trustworthiness of its transmitters. To summarize the Sunni system, all companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - ie all of those who have been in his presence at some point in his life - are considered trustworthy (thiqa). These companions then narrated their traditions to their pupils, family members, and associates. They would then pass it down until they reached a compiler of hadiths, usually in oral form, but sometimes written.
The Sunni system excels in its biographical documentation because it covers a vast amount of individuals, giving relevant data about many people. But the system does have its flaws:
1) We don't consider all companions to be trustworthy; and we particularly distrust those who have directly oppressed the Prophet's family.
2) The culture of memorizing, transmitting, and documenting hadiths did not receive widespread popularity until the 2nd century AH. Therefore, the careful preservation of these hadiths are in question. Sunni isnads tend to be long, transmitted orally over centuries.
3) Strengthening (tawtheeq) is based mainly on scholarly opinion, with much disagreement.
Shi`i hadiths take a different approach. The vast majority of Shi`i hadiths come from one of the twelve Imams. The Shi`a hold the belief of a golden chain, which is the chain from one of the Imams that goes through his forefathers back to the Prophet (pbuh). Through the hadith of thaqalayn, the Prophet established that the Qur'an and Ahl al-Bayt are what the Muslims must hold onto, and that the two are one in essence. The Ahl al-Bayt are (at least primarily) the 12 Imams + Fatima (as). In many hadiths, the Prophet aligned himself with `Ali and Fatima, saying the truth is with them, that whoever angers them angers the Prophet, that opposing them is hypocrisy and disbelief, etc. The tying of truth with `Ali, the Mahdi, etc. gives them high authoritative value. The Imams have said in many hadiths that all they say and do comes from the Prophet. Many times, they quoted the Prophet directly, and they have said that all quotations of the Prophet come from their golden chain to him. Likewise, as infallible guides, all that they say and do is from the Qur'an and Sunna, and therefore their words are taken as proof (hujja) for all religious matters.
This means that the relation of hadiths in Shiism took place over a 300+ year period rather than just a 23 year period. Surely, the religion was completed and perfected by the end of the holy Prophet's lifetime. That same religion was relayed by the Imams. As hadith narration became popular in the second century AH, thousands of students studied under the 5th and 6th Imams. Together, al-Baqir and as-Sadiq narrated tens of thousands of hadiths on all topics - `aqeeda, fiqh, tafsir, history, eschatology, and more. The Imams gave their students the explicit instruction to write their words down, memorize their hadiths, and spread the knowledge to the people. Hence, the hadith collection process began in their lifetimes. The earliest available Shi`i notebook (usl) dates back to the time of the 4th Imam. By the occultation of the 12th Imam, over 300 of such usool existed. Unlike Sunni tradition, the hadiths were mostly not transmitted orally between the Prophet and a third century compiler. Rather, the hadiths came mainly from the Imams, and most of them were copied down during the time of the Imams. In some books, the chains of narrators are considerably shorter than in Sunni books. The time between the narration of the hadith and its compilation is also much smaller.
As noted earlier, not all companions of the Prophet - or the Imams - are considered reliable. Their veracity and loyalty to Ahl al-Bayt must be proven. There are many ways that a hadith narrator is given tawtheeq:
1. The Imams directly gave tawtheeq to some people.
2. The Imams gave taraddi (expressing God's satisfaction) and tarahhum (asking God's mercy) to some people.
3. Like in Sunni rijal, the scholars would give tawtheeq to people or weaken them, based on their biographical data, beliefs, actions, who they associate with, etc.
4. The clients, messengers, and tax-collectors of the Imams were largely given tawtheeq.
5. People can be given tawtheeq through other thiqa people.
6. People can be given tawtheeq if they are relied upon by major trustworthy companions of the Imams (as`hab al-ijma`)
And many other means.
There are certain levels that a narrator can embody.
1. A narrator can be considered thiqa. This means the narrator is trustworthy in what he narrates. Non-Shi`is can be considered thiqa, but this will be noted in the grading of the chain. A sahih chain is one where all the rijal are Imami Shi`a. A muwathaq chain is a chain that is all thiqa, but may include trustworthy Sunnis, Zaydis, Fat`his, Waqifis, etc.
2. A narrator can be considered `aadil or faadil or mamdooh which means that he is a just and good person, but his explicit tawtheeq cannot be established. This makes a chain hasan in grading.
3. A narrator can be considered dha`eef, which means he is weak. Either he is known for lying and bad character, or he is associated with the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (nawasib, or ghulat - Shi`i extremists), or both.
4. A narrator can be considered majhool, which means we may know some biographical details about the person, but not enough to establish trustworthiness or lack thereof.
There is a theory called as`hab al-ijma` that is used by a minority of scholars. The as`hab al-ijma` are a list of 18 companions of five of the Imams who are considered very trustworthy central figures of the sect. This method says: any hadith that is authentic up to one of these 18 can be accepted. Even if one of these 18 individuals narrate from someone without tawtheeq, the idea is that they would not relate a hadith unless it had value - as they were close, accepted, and tested supporters of the Imams. However, to be safe and cautious, many rijal scholars do not use this method.
The hadiths parimarily came from the Imams during their time in Medina. Their Shi`i partisans were mainly Kufan visitors who would go to Medina, stay for a while, gather knowledge and bring it back to Kufa. As mentioned before, Kufa and Baghdad were an Islamic powerhouse during the second century AH, and most of what was written in the early period in both sects was in Iraq and Persia. That is where most Muslim scholars came from and most Islamic books were written. Thus, the tradition survives through this transmission. From Kufa, the hadiths also went to Qum when Ibrahim b. Hashim and others took their traditions there. There were thousands of Shi`as in Iraq during the time of the 6th Imam, and many hundreds of his companions were Kufan transmitters of hadiths.
A hadith or concept that is narrated through multiple chains is mutawater (widely narrated). `Aqeeda must be established on mutawater traditions. Fiqh however can be established throug ahad (single-authority) traditions.
There are some issues with rijal. We should recognize that it is still a man-made system and will have its faults. The main fault in Shi`i rijal is that there are too many majhool narrators, because the Ahl al-Bayt had thousands of students, and the status of many of them was not known to the scholars of rijal. Also, different scholars had different opinions on certain narrators. There are also some manuscript discrepancies in the works of some rijal scholars (most prominently, Ibn al-Ghada'iri's). Sometimes we don't have as many biographical details as we want. Rijal scholars largely lived after the people they had written about were dead. However, the system can weed out contradictions and strengthen established concepts. It is also an insurance that what we believe and practice was what the best of the Muslims believed and practiced.
The gradings of narrators are usually extrapolated from the biographical information provided by major Shi`i classical scholars of rijal. These scholars include Najashi (~ d. 1058), whose gradings are usually preferred, Ibn al-Ghada'iri (11th century), Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 1067), and Kashhi (d. 951). It is recorded that Shaykh al-Kulayni, the compiler of al-Kafi, and Shaykh as-Saduq had their own books of rijal, but those book have not survived. Furthermore, some scholars have accepted all of the narrators who have been included in Tafsir al-Qummi and Kamil az-Ziyarat, under the belief that the authors of these works have only included reliable narrators. Later scholars who have contributed to the science include `Allamah al-Hilli (d. 14th century), `Allamah al-Majlisi (d. 17th century), Shaykh Bahbudi (d. 20th century), Sayyid Burujirdi (d. 20th century), al-Khoei (d. 20th century), Muhammad Taqi al-Tustari (d. 20th century) Shaykh Asif Muhsini, Shaykh ar-Radi, Shaykh as-Sanad, and many others.
It should be noted that the authors of the Four Books - Kulayni, Saduq, and Tusi - took rijal seriously. They believed that their books were filtered enough to represent Twelver Shiism, even for lay use. Kulayni in particular viewed his work as sahih in content. Many attested to the works of these scholars and others. While some later scholars have weakened many narrations in the Four Books based on a strict adherence to classical rijal standards, this standard is seen by some scholars to be too stringent and unnecessary. Still, the study of rijal provides a wealth of information on our sources, and it remains a critical tool for scholars and seminarians.
That is some [very] basic information on rijal in Shiism - inshaAllah it is helpful to some.
guest050817 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, A Guide to Sunni Trends
The Sunni Muslim world, as I see it, is divided up into the following social categories. Below are the major trends that run through this segment of the Umma.
Madhhabi Sunnis: Anyone belonging to the traditional Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools, including both conservative and nominal Muslims. Madhhabi Sunnis usually express their religion through devoted worship, spirituality, and traditional law-abidance. Many sub-movements fit in this category, including most Sufis, the mystical Barelvi movement, the Deobandi movement, and those who are simply culturally Muslim. Madhhabi Sunnis are usually suspicious of Salafi, Shia, and modernist ideas and traditions, but still advocate for Muslim unity; agreeing to disagree with competing trends. Some nominal Madhhabis are influenced by Salafi revivalism and conservatism. Sufis in particular are often politically quietist and pacifistic, and have a balanced but positive view of classical Islamic civilizations.
Popular examples: Hamza Yusuf, Yahya Rhodus, Timothy Winters, Zaid Shakir, Umar Abd-Allah, Shabir Ally, Usama Canon, Suhaib Webb, Faraz Rabbani, Amjad Tarsin.
Salafis: Those who try to pursue a literal interpretation of Sunni Islam based on its most established primary hadith sources. Salafis are suspicious of secondary sources, philosophy, mysticism, traditional Sunni schools, saint-reverence, forms of religious expressions that are not explicitly supported by "sahih" Sunni hadiths, and other sects and religions. Salafis usually express their religion through theological discourse, worship, strict adherence to early practices (including having a "Muslim appearance"), and clamping down on "innovations" in Islamic practice (i.e. anything in a hadith they consider "weak", or not found in their most literal interpretations). Salafis have three noticeable sub-movements: (1) the Wahabis, who follow the Najdi Saudi theologians; (2) apolitical non-Wahabi Salafis, who follow non-Najdi figures, are focused mostly on theology and law, and are critical of Saudi Arabia's royal family and state-sponsored scholars, and (3) Militant Salafis, who seek to revive the Caliphate, establish puritan Islamic states, resist Western imperialism, and punish deviant and nominal Muslims. Salafis are very critical of Sufis and Shias, and often push for the destruction of their relics.
Popular examples: Bilal Philips, Abu Khadeejah, Yasir Qadhi, Abdur Raheem Green, Zakir Naik, Feiz Mohammed, Abu Musab Wajdi Akkari, Abu Isa Niamatullah.
Liberal Reformists: This includes Quranists and other reformists, who have a modernist humanist worldview, and see many Islamic laws and practices as outdated or obsolete. Liberal Reformists are focused on social justice and ethical principles inspired by the Quran. They are skeptical of hadith literature, Islamic scholarship, mysticism, sectarianism, and some jurisprudence. Liberal Reformists are especially critical of traditional penalties (hudud), extremism, radicalization, and laws related to gender and sexuality. The Quran is viewed as a flexible, progressive document that mostly lacks the rigidity of Islamic laws.
Popular examples: Mona Eltahawy, Irshad Manji, Maajid Nawaz, Tarek Fatah, Amina Wadud, Asra Nomani, Michael Muhammad Knight, Khalid Abou El Fadl
Muslim Brotherhood Types: They are often unaffiliated with the actual MB, but hold the same pragmatist and anti-imperialist sentiments. They are a middle-upper class educated movement that focuses on social conservatism, harmonizing modernism and traditionalism, international politics, and social justice. The MB types believe in family values, scientific/technological progress and development, and quasi-Marxist-Leninist domestic and international policies (big welfare governments and anti-Western imperialism). They are critical of Salafi puritanism, Sufi mysticism, and Shia Iran's encroachment of the Arab world. The MB types often admire the Turkish, Tunisian, and Malaysian Islamic models, which are pluralistic yet respect Islamic tradition. They are often nostalgic of Islamic civilization's golden age.
Popular examples: Tariq Ramadan, Jamal Badawi, Dalia Mogahed, Anas al-Tikriti, Jonathan Brown
Most Sunni Muslims are not very conscious of these divisions. They usually don't identify themselves with one of these labels, and all 4 trends coexist in most Sunni nations and communities. The trends also have some overlaps, and there are people that are a blend of multiple trends. Sunni scholars are more aware of the red lines due to their epistemological significance. But many Sunnis are subject to the influence of Gulf petrodollars, and therefore will take on some Salafi cliches without noticing it (or just seeing it as becoming "more religious"). I call this "Casual Salafism" - speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusuf Estes, Ismail Menk, or Omar Suleiman, who are more laid-back and popular with the youth, but still have a Salafi epistemology and Salafi influences in their material.
Being conscious of these trends will allow us to better understand whom we can work with and whom we should best avoid.
guest050817 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Miracles - are where you look for them
So the nine year-old was asking why God does not provide us with miracles as He did in centuries past.
I replied that miracles are everywhere, it's a matter of recognising their existence. At a personal level, unexpected, undeserved, serendipitous successes, could all be construed as miraculous. No?
guest050817 reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, Muslims,Politics & the ethics of remaining neutral
I will be attending a talk this weekend which will address the Muslim's role (if any) in politics. I'm assuming the talk will limit itself to British politics, but what I've written below applies to (secular) Muslim majority countries as well.
There are three aspects to answering this question:
Religiously, we need to asses the role of one's world view viz his/her interaction with society The intellectual foundations of political activity of Muslims living in the West/East What I call the 'Clash of the Paradigms', which deals with the religious movements' failure to provide practical solutions to society's needs. I will touch on the first aspect in this post, the rest will follow after I've attended the event.
The Religious Aspect
Society plays a direct role in the spiritual development of a believer, since there are a number of existential perfections¹ that are unattainable unless one cooperates and interacts with others. An individuals' worldview is key to correct behaviour that will ensure those spiritual stations are achieved.
For the materialists, however, technological development and pursuing worldly pleasures is the only perfection, and his behaviour will reflect that accordingly. A religious person with a superficial faith in God, will have his eyes set on pleasures in the afterlife. He is motivated to adhere to religious laws, because he knows it's his key to enter paradise and avoid hell-fire².
True perfection, however, lies in attaining nearness to God. This worldview encourages the believer to search out and attain behaviours that will bring him nearness, and avoid everything that might create a barrier and veil between him and his Lord. Therefore, correct religious knowledge is essential to correct behaviour, in turn ensuring correct faith. As a person progresses in this path, he will realise that higher levels of perfection will require bigger sacrifices and harder struggles. Only those with strong resolve, patience and a true yearning for that closeness to God will ensure he evolves spiritually³.
The articles of faith ('aqeedah) are essential to shaping a person's world view and behaviours. A person who believes in the separation of religion and political activity, will not be motivated to pursue the establishment of social justice in this world. He has his eyes set on the afterlife, and will focus on the personal religious duties (to the minutest details) to ensure he avoids hell-fire. He will tell himself that it's the religious establishment's responsibility to sort out all his problems. Unfortunately, he would have most likely inherited this worldview from said religious establishment (his parents would ensure this reactionary vision is ingrained in his mind).
In order for us to contribute to society and interact at the socio-political levels, we will have to correct this superficial view of our faith, and move towards a deeper understanding of its concepts. The one-dimensional understanding of Islamic doctrines, where the emphasis is on juristic laws and personal religious duties (which have become rituals in most cases), is limiting us as individuals as well as communities in the diaspora. Ideologically, western concepts have taken over and dominated our thinking, where Islamic doctrines have failed to fill that gap, that yearning for a deeper understanding of the world. And once a person's worldview is confused with neo-liberal concepts, it becomes an uphill struggle to 1) change that worldview, and 2) for that person to live by an Islamic understanding of the world.
Even in Muslim majority countries, you will find this to be the dominant trend. Individual Muslims performing their obligatory religious duties, yet refrain from social contributions and cooperation, not due to any physical hindrances or lack of talents, but because their worldview is focused on 'material' gains in the afterlife!
In short, if we are serious about a revival of the stagnant state we are in, and are keen to contribute positively at the socio-political level (in the UK or elsewhere), we need to correct our worldview first, move away from legends, falls concepts and outright fabrications, and truly believe that with sincerity we can change the world ('O ye who believe! If ye help Allah, He will help you and will make your foothold firm' -47:7).
Once we, as a collective, appreciate that this isn't utopian fantasy talk, that our purpose is to evolve in the 'arc of ascent' towards perfection, we'll start to realise that this is only achievable if we characterise ourselves with the divine Names. Once this mindset is widely accepted, and becomes part of the collective subconscious, the idea of social justice will manifest itself naturally and organically, as each individual will have become a physical manifestation of the divine Name 'The Just'.
¹ I have spoken about this in detail in my other blog here.
² '..., and a group worshipped God out of desire for paradise, and that is the worship of tradesmen;...' - part of a narration by Imam Ali (as) in Nahjul Balaghah, Vol4, pg53 (Arabic edition)
³ Some people are willing to dedicate some of their time, usually at a personal level, however refrain from spending their money when the need arises. That is because his docility is limited, which in turn is due to the low goal he has set himself.
guest050817 reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, A Note on Identity
People used to look to identity as a unifying force around a particular political project, or social endeavour, in order to protect the interest of a group. However, some view identity to be the biggest hindrance to progress (anywhere), and the most negative heritage that would lead a people to conflicts with no end or solution in sight. In fact, it is a drain of resources (human and natural), and it has taken us Arabs/Muslims (in the Middle East) in the opposite direction to the movement of history.
I'm in the process of proposing a new Political Theory, the basis of which will be an effort to unite around a common future goal, best suited for the progress of our (Middle Eastern) society (or any society struggling for justice), to enable us to compete amongst the most advanced nations of the world.
The conflicts in the Middle East, especially the one initiated by what became known as the 'Arab Spring', are conflicts that pit one identity against the other, with policies purposely absent, so that foreign policies take advantage of the situation and are forced upon us. As a result, instead of different factions debating political theories and social projects, we have a never-ending struggle of religious and ideological identities. These religions and ideologies, have been emptied of their socio-political essences and revolutionary progressive ideas, so it should come as no surprise that their opinions matter very little to the rest of the world (if they ever show opinions on things that matter!).
Throughout religious history, we have examples of socio-political struggle between progressive revolutionaries and the establishment. When Jesus (as) came to revolt against the status-quo of his time, he didn't do so by attaching himself to an existing identity. The Christian identity was established once people started following the teachings of Jesus Christ (as). The same applied to the early Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula, who became Muslim not to be part of an existing identity, but to destroy the status-quo. The Islamic movement came as a social project to 'islamize' the people, and not for it to be carried as an identity. The current conflicts in the region (and many other parts of the world) revolve around identities, with total absence of their original Islamic or Christian essence, i.e. a lack of understanding of the deep and rich meanings that sit at the root of these labels. As a result, they lack understanding of what these ideologies offer in terms of socio-political change.
The majority of people in our region have inherited an identity, it is but a few who are truly religious.
What I hope to achieve with this new Political Theory is to return to 'Traditional Humanism', which is no different to the True Islam (in the general prophetic evolutionary sense), to propose a fresh and enlightening socio-political project that would benefit everyone. Any reformist project must look back at history, revolt against any negative inheritance that has been accumulated over the years, and learn from the experiences of our ancestors. We are not responsible for our ancestor's deeds, but we can build on them and work towards more perfect policies and social behaviours, setting an examples to the rest of the world. This cannot be achieved whilst hiding behind an inherited identity. Those who hide behind religious identities, have forgotten or misunderstood the true meaning and message of their faith, and instead are behaving more like infighting tribes.
Religious and sectarian infighting is the beginning of the end of religion (as was the case in the European wars of religion in the 16th century, that lead to the enlightenment and Europe's eventual secularism).
This project is a revolt against inherited religions, because all that remains today are inherited religious identities, filled with fanaticism, and devoid of any sacred, social, political, or economical essence and intelligence.
guest050817 reacted to Ali for a blog entry, The Story of ShiaChat.com - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
[This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama! I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all.
In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was. Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) - I digress.
Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia. (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups. This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”. The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client. It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room. Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.). Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years. I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people. Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.
In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia. As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam. As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style. Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
A thought occurred to me. Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use? The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today. The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users. I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
[More to follow, Part 2..]
So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?