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shia farm girl

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  1. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, W.I.M. wimmin   
    W.I.M stands for 'woe is me".
    We get new threads on Shiachat started by new posters who typically relate some domestic issue where a woman has been badly treated by either the father or the husband and occasionally some other male.
    The story, since these posts are typically reasonably long, has a fair amount of detail and explanation and has clearly been written by someone with a reasonably good command of the English language. We are not talking about someone who has secretly grabbed access to the village computer in some remote part of a developing country.
    Not unreasonably the post elicits uncritical sympathy from most Shiachatters. After all, if you saw Bambi's mother wounded in the forest would you not do all you could to support her and criticise the hunter in the process? 
    Given the patriarchal nature of Muslim societies, the collateral damage is, of course, the implicit criticism of such societies, their institutions, cultural norms and so on. So for example, if someone has been taken advantage of through the use of mutah, then invariably there will be concerns directed at the practice and the people who engage in it.
    And to my mind, that is the objective of these threads. 
    The following are the reasons why I usually have grave reservations about their authenticity:
    The person writing them is articulate and educated. They know how to construct a narrative that works. This is not an easy skill to acquire. Their spelling and sentence construction are always good. This matters because such education does not exist in a vacuum. Anyone who is educated to this level has a knowledge of their environment and you'd expect the support systems where they could get help (if that is what they wanted). The poster typically writes about a situation where they were taken advantage of, sometimes as a result of their lack of knowledge e.g. the terms of mutah. Now that situation would be entirely reasonable if the person was writing about a situation pre-internet. However, if they are writing about any event within the last 5-10 years the question which arises is that any google search of various Islamic issues throws up results that include Shiachat discussions. We are therefore being led to believe that the first time this person heard of Shiachat is when the situation imploded and not beforehand. Allied to this point the question why someone would turn to anonymous, generally unqualified strangers for help when it would make more sense to approach organisations and institutions they were familiar with and which would both offer an independent and trustworthy point of view. If someone can find shiachat on google they can find such resources. There are often references to the poster's fragile state of mind, which in my opinion is simply there to head off any uncritical assessment. In developed countries the first person anyone would go to in a fragile state of mind would be there local G.P. (doctor) and they would refer the person to appropriate sources of help. Such stories are always about 'relationships'. The topic is sexy and everyone has an unqualified opinion. We don't get similar posts about any other aspect of human activity. We don't get anonymous new posters writing in detail about the challenges they face in terms of choosing between medicine or engineering, for example.  The question then is what motivates such posters?
    In my opinion, it is to attack Islamic and Shia institutions and practices, it is to sow discord amongst board members and certainly it is to provide ammunition for those board members who have an anti-Islamic agenda and who can use these stories as the basis for attacking people with a more orthodox mindset.
    You may well ask what would qualify such threads as being genuine. 
    I'd expect a genuine poster to leave out the 'gory' details. After all, that is for the benefit of feeding the bun fight that is supposed to follow. I would expect a genuine person to explain in very general terms the situation that they are facing and then to ask posters if they are familiar with any sources of support in a particular country or region (this assume that they can't find such resources themselves). At a push, I would say that a new poster could say that they wanted to speak to someone qualified and whether board members or moderators could point them in the right direction.
  2. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, God Hypothesis II   
    This post was stimulated by the election of Donald Trump and his view that claims of climate change are exaggerated and his promise to the electorate that he'd resume coal mining.
    When uranium was first discovered people believed that the world's supplies would only last until the new century (2000), but since then new discoveries keep being made. Uranium will likely last a very long time and for more than long enough for us to develop alternative and safer and cleaner means of energy generation. In the meantime uranium has also been responsible for enabling is to learn a great deal about atomic physics, which we otherwise would not have done and which has perhaps been a stepping stone towards acquiring knowledge about energy production which would have been difficult to acquire without having the lessons provided by uranium-powered nuclear reactors.
    The central idea underlying the God hypothesis was that evidence of intelligent design lies in our having had the right proportions of fuels to last us while we developed the intellectual capability so as to be able to develop the next, more sophisticated source of power.
    Intelligent design also means that the system within which we live can take into account our weaknesses. So people who worry about climate change, fear that continued reliance on fossil fuels will likely mean that man-made temperature rises will lead to long-term habitat destruction.
    So this story could go either one of two ways. Either we take into account the warnings of those worried by man-made climate change and mend our ways, or we suffer the consequences.
    If the God hypothesis holds, however, no matter what we do we'll survive. The hypothesis holds that whoever put us here put in sufficient resources for us to stay around for a lot longer and go further than we have done.
    I think the outcomes are more subtle than that. The God hypothesis will also hold true if the people who deny climate change persist with their use of old technologies and in so doing hand over technological and economic leadership to those people who have the vision to change. I think this has been the story of humankind. One of the reasons why the West gained its supremacy over other countries and cultures was its earlier understanding of the power of hydrocarbons and the ways that they could be used to power a multitude of machines.
    Similarly, post-carbon fuel sources will require the development of a range of different technologies and the countries that are faster to adopt will gain leadership advantages.
    The God hypothesis also holds that due to God's mercy we are aware of the dangers of different types of fuel. The famous London smog and the measurable levels of particulates in many of today's cities are a testimony to people becoming aware of the dangers of hydro-carbons, irrespective of the climate change problem. These natural signals are there to be heeded and again, the countries and people who do so, will be the ones who will benefit the most.
    The case of the Easter Islanders is worth bearing in mind. They had developed a belief system which involved cutting down the trees on Easter Island to construct and move their Moai. Ultimately their beliefs meant that there were no trees left and the island was no longer habitable. Holding the wrong beliefs led to their destruction, but not of that of the wider planet. In a similar way, I think climate change deniers are harming no one else but themselves. True climate change operates at the level of the planet, but I think here are enough people willing to take heed so as to mitigate its worst effects, while at the same time undermining the legitimacy of the deniers.
    https://contemporaniablog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/god-hypothesis-ii/
  3. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, ‘Allāmah’s Treatment of the Qirā’āt   
    Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/allamah-tabatabai-treatment-different-readings-quran/
    One of the most extensive and important discussions within Qurānic studies is regarding its variant readings (qirā’āt). The readings are generally discussed within commentaries themselves and even within historical discussions regarding the collection and transmission of the Qurān. Utilizing a 25-page research paper titled Rawish Shināsi Ruyikard ‘Allāmeh Ṭabāṭabā’ī Dar Ikhtilāf Qirā’āt by Muḥamad Khāmehgar of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, we will look at how ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabā’ī treats these different readings in his seminal work Tafsīr al-Mīzān.
    ‘Allāmah discusses or points out differences in readings in around 160 places. These remarks include the following:
    Differences in vowels and diacritics on words: 72 times Differences in the type of letters or their quantity: 42 times Differences in the formation of a word, or in its root-word, or in it being singular or plural, or in it being in passive or active voice, or which paradigm from thulāthī mazīd the word is from: 36 times Differences in one or more words being extra: 4 times Differences in a word present in a place of another word: 6 times Differences in a word missing: 0 times Differences in words being moved around: 0 times Differences in a sentence being added or removed: 0 times In the first 3 cases, there is no discrepency between the text of the codex and its recitation. However, in the fourth case when there is an extra word in one of the recitations, ‘Allāmah either rejects it – like in the case of (8:1) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَنفَالِ which has also been recited as يَسْأَلُونَكَ الْأَنفَال, or he considers it to be an exegesis done in the middle of the verse like in the case of:
    (20:15) إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا لِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا تَسْعَىٰ It has been reported that Ibn ‘Abbās and Imām al-Ṣādiq (a) recited the verse as follows: أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا عن نفسي. ‘Allāmah considers this addition to be a commentary.
    In the fifth case where a word is present in place of another word, ‘Allāmah considers five of those instances to be commentaries. One of those instances is a recitation attributed to Ibn ‘Umar, which ‘Allāmah considers to be made up by Ibn ‘Umar himself. The verse is:
    (65:1) يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ where Ibn ‘Umar replaced the preposition li on ‘iddatihinna and replaced it with a fi qabl:
    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ في قبل عِدَّتِهِنَّ.
    The Reading of Ḥafṣ from ‘Āṣim
    Some Qurān experts – such as Āyatullah Hādi Ma’rifat (d. 2007) – believe that the only reading that has a sound chain of transmission and all the Muslims have considered it reliable is the reading of Ḥafṣ. Ḥafṣ learned the reading from his teacher ‘Āṣim who learned it from Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 74 AH) who took it from Imām ‘Alī (a). They say that this reading is not based on the personal ijtihād of Ḥafṣ rather it was passed down to him through a transmission which is directly connected to Imām ‘Alī (a) and ultimately the Prophet (p).
    How strong the argument of the aforementioned scholars is can be investigated in a different article altogether, but what is important to note here is that ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī considered the reading of Ḥafṣ like the rest of the readings. He did not believe this reading to have any preference over the other recitations and considers it to be ijtihādī like the rest of them. He simply deems the reading of Ḥafṣ to be the popular reading[1] but did not believe that going against it implies going against the recitation of the Prophet (p) or the Imām (a).
    Although, we cannot deny that the primary reading employed by ‘Allāmah in his al-Mīzān is that of Ḥafṣ’, he has not preferred this reading over the rest of them in every case. We will look at some of these cases where ‘Allāmah preferred the reading of Ḥafṣ over other recitations and what he based his preference on, as well as cases where he preferred another reading over that of Ḥafṣ’ and what he based his preference on.
    Preference of Ḥafṣ Over Other Readings
    In some cases, ‘Allāmah prefers Ḥafṣ over other recitations, not due to the popularity or probative force of the reading, but due to other specified reasons.
    1) In (2:222) وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ, ‘Allamah prefers the pronunciation Yaṭhurna يَطْهُرْنَ – which happens to be the popular reading – over Yaṭṭahurna يَطَّهُرْنَ which was how the people of Kūfa recited it, except Ḥafṣ. The reason for this preference is a number of traditions that imply that the recitation is Yaṭhurna, instead of Yaṭṭahurna.[2]
    2) In (2:260) فَخُذْ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنَ الطَّيْرِ فَصُرْهُنَّ إِلَيْكَ, the word fa-ṣurhunna has been recited in two ways. The famous recitation of it is fa-ṣurhunna فَصُرْهُنَّ, whereas Abū Ja’far, Ḥamzah, Khalaf and Ruways who narrates from Ya’qūb have all recited this word as fa-ṣirhunna.[3] ‘Allāmah says since this word, when pronounced with a ḍammah, means to cut or chop, it has become muta’addī with the preposition ilaafter it to also take into consideration the meaning of calling something towards oneself.[4]
    3) In (10:21) إِنَّ رُسُلَنَا يَكْتُبُونَ مَا تَمْكُرُونَ, the word tamkurūn تَمْكُرُونَ has been recited as yamkurūnيَمْكُرُونَ by some reciters like Zayd who took from Ya’qūb and Sahl.[5] ‘Allāmah prefers the popular recitation citing the concept of grammatical shift (iltifāt) in the Qurān and says that the popular recitation is more eloquent with respect to the meaning intended.[6]
    Preference of Other Readings Over Ḥafṣ
    ‘Allāmah’s approach to the different readings of the Qurān and preferring one reading over the other is based on the siyāq (loosely translated as context) of the verses, alibis from the aḥādīth literature, grammatical rules and as well as other factors. That being the case, in some instances we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of a reciter other than that of Ḥafṣ’. What is interesting to note is that in no instance does ‘Allāmah say that the meaning signified in the reading of Ḥafṣ is necessarily wrong or incorrect, rather he simply believes that the other recitation is better and more harmonious. As a matter of fact, in one case he even says that both recitations are perfectly correct.[7]
    At times we find that ‘Allāmah prefers the readings of one of the 7 famous reciters over Ḥafṣ while other times we find him to prefer the readings of one of the non-famous reciters over Ḥafṣ.
    The 7-famous reciters are:
    ‘Abdullah b. ‘Āmir al-Dimashqī (d. 118 AH) ‘Abdullah b. Kathīr al-Makkī (d. 120 AH) Āṣim b. Bahdalah (d.127 AH) – whose main transmitter was Ḥafṣ Abū ‘Amr b. ‘Alā (d. 154 AH) Ḥamzah al-Kūfī (d.156 AH) Nāfi’ al-Madanī (d. 169 AH) al-Kisāī (d. 189 AH) Some cases where ‘Allāmah prefers one of these reciters over Āsim’s are as follows:
    1) Āṣim and Kisāī have recited the word mālik مَالِك in (1:4) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ with an alif, whereas the rest of the reciters have recited it without an alif – as malik مَلِك. ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of malikover mālik because it has been added on to a concept of time – yawm al-dīn.[8]
    2) In (8:59) وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَبَقُوا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ لَا يُعْجِزُونَ the verb la yaḥsabanna لا يَحْسَبَنَّ has been recited with a yā in third-person, but Ibn Kathīr, Abū ‘Amr, Nāfi’ and Kisāī have read it with a tā which would make it a second-person verb. ‘Allāmah prefers the second-person reading not only because it is more popular, but also due to the context of the verses after this one, as they are addressing the Prophet (p).[9]
    3) Regarding (48:9) لِّتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا, ‘Allāmah says that the popular recitation of this verse pronounces all the verbs in second-person with a tā, but Ibn Kathīr and Abū ‘Amr have recited it in third-person with a yā. He says that the reading of the latter two is more appropriate since it is in line with the context of the verse.[10]
    In some cases, we find ‘Allāmah preferring the reading of one of the non-famous reciters over that of Ḥafṣ’. For example, in (26:13) وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي all the 7 famous reciters read the words yaḍīqu يَضِيقُ and yanṭaliqu يَنْطَلِقُ in the state of raf’ with a ḍamma, however Ya’qūb b. Isḥāq recites these two verbs in the state of naṣb with a fatḥa (يَضِيقَ and يَنْطَلِقَ). ‘Allāmah prefers the recitation of Ya’qūb because it is more in line with the meaning intended.[11]
    Not Preferring any Reading Over Another
    In a majority of cases ‘Allāmah does not prefer one reading over another. Instead, he reiterates that both recitals are correct and justifiable. This also implies that ‘Allāmah does not restrict himself to the recitation of Ḥafṣ in his commentary simply because it happens to be a popular reading or go out of his way to invalidate other recitations simply because they aren’t popular. In fact, it shows that ‘Allāmah considered other recitations to be just as valid and strong as the recitation of Ḥafṣ.
    As an example, in (2:37) فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ  Ibn Kathīr recites Ādam in a state of naṣb and Kalimāt in a state of raf’, while Ibn ‘Āmir recites it the opposite way. ‘Allāmah cites both recitations and does not prefer one over another and says that the meaning will remain the same in either case.[12]
    In (2:126) قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا, the word umatti’uhu which is on the paradigm of taf’īl, has also been recited as umti’uhu on the paradigm of if’āl. Since both tamtī’ and imtā’ have the same meaning, he refrains from preferring one over the other.[13]
    In (26:36) قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ, the word arjih أرْجِهْ has been recited as 1) arji’hu أرْجِئهُ with a hamzahbetween the jīm and the pronoun hā and with a ḍammah on the hā, 2) the people of Medīna and Kisāī and Khalaf recited it as arjihi أرْجِهِ without a hamzah and with a kasra on the hā, and 3) Āṣim and Ḥamzah recited it as arjih أرْجِهْ without a hamzah, but with a sukūn on the hā.
    After mentioning all the different recitations for this word, ‘Allāmah says that the first two recitations are more eloquent than the third recitation which happens to be the popular one, although all three recitations have the same meaning.[14]
    In other situations, we find ‘Allāmah not commenting on the different readings at all. Perhaps this was done simply to point the reader to the fact that there exists another recitation that is equally strong and justifiable as Ḥafṣ’. Or perhaps he may have felt that the recitation of Ḥafṣ in a particular verse was not as strong, but did not find enough reason to prefer any of the other recitations over it either. For example, in (2:283) وَلَمْ تَجِدُوا كَاتِبًا فَرِهَانٌ مَّقْبُوضَةٌ he says that the word rihān in this verse has also been pronounced as ruhun which is the plural for rahn. Both words have the same meaning and ‘Allāmah refrains from commenting on them any further.[15]
    In some cases, even though ‘Allāmah has not preferred any recitation over another, he has made use of the difference in reading to expand on the meaning of the verse. Regarding verse (2:219) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ he writes that the word kabīr (great) has also been recited as kathīr (a lot). When explaining the harms of alcohol and gambling he says that their harms are both great and a lot.[16]
    When it comes to the numerous reports in which a recitation has been attributed to one of the Imāms (a), ‘Allāmah takes the same approach as he does with the other readings. If these traditions and the readings do not meet the criteria for acceptance, they are not to be taken. He writes that the Shī’a do not consider rare readings to be probative, even if they are attributed to the Imāms.[17] When it comes to traditions that attribute a certain way of reading to the Imāms (a), he divides these set of traditions into two, narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse, and narrations that are exegetical.
    Narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse are traditions that are in line with the text of the Qurānic codex and rules of grammar. The readings of the text themselves are then either in accordance with one of the famous readings or against them. Traditions in which these readings are not the same as any of the famous readings are either those in which either the vowel placement is different or the letters of a word is different or something similar to that extent. In these cases, ‘Allāmah treats these readings like the rest of the famous recitations and puts them to the same standard of scrutiny before preferring one over another.
    As an example, in (13:31) أَفَلَمْ يَيْأَسِ, the famous recitation is a fa lam yay’as, but it has been reported that Imām ‘Alī (a), Ibn ‘Abbās, ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusayn (a), Zayd b. ‘Alī, Ja’far b. Muḥammad (a), Ibn Abī Malīkah and Abū Yazīd al-Madanī all recited it as a fa lam yatabayyan. However, ‘Allāmah says that the famous and accepted recitation is a fa lam yay’as.[18]
    In a subsequent post, we will look at the role of these different readings and how ‘Allāmah used them to either defend his own interpretation or at times allow multiple meanings for a given verse.
    Footnotes
    [1] Al-Mīzān, vol. 7, pg. 271
    [2] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 322
    [3] Ṭabrasī, Majma’ al-Bayān, vol. 2, pg. 642
    [4] Al-Mīzān, vol. 2, pg. 375
    [5] Ṭabrasī, vol. 5, pg. 151
    [6] Al-Mīzān, vol. 10, pg. 49
    [7] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204
    [8] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 33 and 142
    [9] Ibid, vol. 9, pg. 150
    [10] Ibid, vol. 18, pg. 408
    [11] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 360
    [12] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204
    [13] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 426
    [14] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 382
    [15] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 668
    [16] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 289
    [17] Ibid, vol. 4, pg. 476
    [18] Ibid, vol. 11, pg. 505
  4. Completely Agree
    shia farm girl reacted to starlight for a blog entry, Lubb al-Lubab(The Kernels of Kernels) Part II   
    Part II A Detailed Description of the Method and Way of Godward Wayfaring
    My notes on the book's content. I had to reformat and reduce the size of file to meet the specifications of the forum. Hopefully this image will be readable after zooming.

  5. Thanks
    shia farm girl reacted to starlight for a blog entry, Lubb al-Lubab (The Kernels of Kernels) Part I   
    My notes on the book's content
    Here is the link to the book   https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/vol13-no4/lubb-al-lubab-short-treatise-wayfaring-s-m-husayn-husayni
    PART I A Brief Description of the Realms Preceding the World of Khulus


     
     
     
     
     
     
  6. Thanks
    shia farm girl 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.
  7. Thanks
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Divine Will   
    The first creation of Allah is His will (mashi’a). The mashi’a is a created light that operates on the realm of the creation and interacts with the rest of creation. Since the mashi’a is subject to change and affect, it is separate from His Unified and Unknowable Essence.
    علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عمر بن اذينة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: خلق الله المشيئة بنفسها ثم خلق الاشياء بالمشيئة.
    Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as) said, “Allah created the will (mashi’a) by its self. Then, He created the things by the will.”
    The mashi’a is one entity (ذات بسيطة) with four degrees (معلقات). These four degrees are His will (mashi’a), His desire (irada), His determining (qadr), and His actualization (qada).
    3يا يونس تعلم ما؛ المشيئة قلت لا قال هي الذکر الاول فتعلم ما الارادة قلت لا قال هي العزيمة على ما يشاء فتعلم ما القدر قلت لا قال هي الهندسة و وضع الحدود من البقاء و الفناء قال ثم قال و القضاء هو الابرام و اقامة العين
    Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “O Yunus! Do you know what the will (mashi’a) is?” Yunus said, “No.” Imam ar-Rida (as) said, “It is the first utterance (الذکر الاول). So do you know what the wish (الارادة) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is the invitation to what He wants. So do you know what determining (qadr) is?” He said, “No.” The Imam said, “It is designing and organizing the parameters from beginning to end. And actualization (qada) is the confirmation and the establishment of the thing.”
    The mashi’a and the desire (irada) both denote the same object. However, when used together, they refer to different degrees within the mashi’a’s process. The first degree is the wish for a thing, the second degree is the assertion of that wish, the third degree is the organization of the parameters needed to bring about that wish, and the fourth degree is its execution. All of these levels are really one process, but in our understanding, it takes place in four stages.
    Mashi’a is a unity of action (fi`l) and reception (infi`al). While irada, qadr, and qada are masculine activities, the mashi’a is feminine in its receptivity to all of these active phases. This way, the mashi’a constitutes both self-acting and self-receiving. This reality is called the Great Depth (العمق الأكبر). Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i uses the term “the Kaf that Encircles Itself” (الكاف المستديرة على نفسها) to describe the duality of the mashi’a, because a circled letter Kaf resembles the yin-yang, and a yin-yang represents the complementary nature of contrary forces. The mashi’a is compared to Adam and Eve, the first promulgators of their species, through whose dimorphic reproduction all people came into existence.
    There are two types of divine actions (ja`l ilahi) in the Quran: formative action (جعل تكويني) and designative action (جعل تشريعي). Formative action refers to creating, establishing, and building. Allah says, “[He] who made (ja`ala) for you the earth as a bed and the sky as a ceiling” (2:22). Designative action refers to divine selection and legislation. Allah says, “Allah has made the Ka`ba, the Sacred House, an establishment for mankind.” (5:97) These two actions are further duplicated inversely in a dialectical process, which we will describe later.
    The mashi’a exists on the sempiternal plain (سرمد), which is a created level of infinity that is beyond the rest of creation. Allah, however, is Eternal (أزل), and therefore beyond sempiternity. In Allah’s Essence (ذات), there is no action; and He is beyond understanding. In the hierarchy of creation, the mashi’a is the first barrier (hijab), and there is nothing beyond it.
  8. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to A Muslim Artist for a blog entry, Jewishencyclopedia.com got me real Mad   
    Anger and me have a bit of a weird relationship, I get angry pretty easily/fast but for the most part I can keep it in, especially in public.  But there are so few rare times when I get so angry that cheeks burn.  One such recent occasion was because of a website known as jewishencyclopedia.com.  Now let me start off by saying I didn’t get mad when the website said Prophet Muhammad copied things from the Jews, Christians, and some pagans (well I was a little annoyed), the reason why I wasn’t angry with that was because I didn’t make sense for me to be annoyed that people from another religion don’t consider him a prophet. No, I was angry for (many) other reasons.
     
    Let’s start off by setting up the scene.  I should of been doing my homework, I really should of, but ya’ll can see the first word of the blog’s name and indeed I was doing that.  I was doing some research about the Arabs, usually stuff, but then I came upon Hagar’s entry in the jewishencyclopedia.  The first half of it was okay, it talked about Hagar in the Bible and the some positive things about her from the Talmud.
    Then I kept reading.
    And the second half of the article began talking about negative views/things about Hagar from the Talmud.  This was the first and most thing that made me angry. My noble friends, Hagar means a Lut (I know it’s not funny, but I still enjoy it) to me, not only is she the mother and wife of two very important prophets, she is also my many great grandmother. And sir, no one dares talks bad about my family when I’m around.  The second half of the article went on about how Ishmael (I’m writing the English version of his name, deal with it. I’m reading it as the Arab version and you probably are too.) was actually her second son because Sarai (at this time in Genesis Abraham’s and Sarah’s
    names were Abram and Sarai) caused Hagar to miscarriage by giving her the “evil eye.”
     
    (A quick side not, in the Genesis, Sarah is the half-sister to Abraham. I found that out when I was  talking to my Bib Lit. teacher about how one of David’s sons raped his (half) sister, and my teacher said, “Remember Genesis? It mentions how Sarah was the half-sister to Abraham. I got more to say about my Bib Lit. class, I really loved it, probably gonna have a blog about it.)
    And that’s not all! The article also mentions that some Talmud scholars even say that Hagar would make fun of Sarai (again at this time her name is Sarai, God changed their names after he told them Sarai was pregnant with Isaac) for being barren.  The article mentions that some Genesis and Talmud scholars believe that the reason Sarah wanted Abraham to kick out Hagar and Ishmael was because Sarah was scared Isaac wouldn’t get the full inheritance and some even mention Ishmael was sexually deviant when it came to Sarah.  (Just a reminder, the story in the Bible and the Islamic version differ, if you want some clarification just ask, I consider myself a bit of a non-expert expert when it comes to the Bible (mostly the Old Testament/Tanakh)).  Then what made my blood really boil is when I read that some scholars believe that Hagar didn’t really believe in God because she gave Ishmael an Egyptian wife. Oh and just to add a cherry on the anger, they tell the Islamic version of Ibrahim leaving Hagar and Ishmael in the desert and they get the story wrong.
    “That was pretty long,” some of you might be thinking.
    BUT WAIT!
    That was only the article on Hagar, which admittedly got me the most mad, but like an idea, I decided to read some other articles.  The articles about the Arabs/Ishmaelites, Prophet Muhammad, and the Jews of Arabia have many things in common that ticked me off.
    The author(s) of the articles try to distant the relationship between the Hebrews and Arabs as much as they can. They say that Arabs are actually mainly descendants of the Babylonians (I just wanna point out that in the Bible, the Babylonians were viewed negatively and were at one point the opposers of the Hebrew) and with some blood from Ishmael and Esau mixed in.  When they talk about the Jews of Arabia, they mention that these Jews weren’t as “good” (whatever the hell that means, but I think they're referring to  intelligence and spirituality in this context) as other Jews but because they were still Jewish it meant  they were superior to the surrounding Arabs.  They talk about how that Prophet Muhammad went to war with the Jews was because he wasn’t smart enough to convince him that he was a prophet because they were so much smarter than him. They fail to mention the many reasons why it was the Jewish tribes fault for those wars, such as breaking treaties, assassination plots, and making many bad decisions just to name a few.  
    Another thing they do is instead of saying Muslims, they would instead say Muhammadan.  Which is a pretty obvious (and petty) way of putting down Muslims.
    There’s a lot more they get wrong and insulting things they write, but I’m gonna wrap it up with this. In the article about Jesus (I’m gonna skip over most of it, most of it is blugh and the Christians in the comments say more than I care to talk about at this time) they say Sura 3 verse 43 is about Jesus making birds out of clay.
    Quran 3:43: O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer]." (Sahih International)
    I seem to notice a lack of Jesus, clay, and birds. But that could just be me.
     
    I went to bed not long after that, but I stayed awake for a long time because how angry I was.  I don’t have anything against Jews/Hebrews. I’m not anti-Semitic (but I am anti-Israeli/Zionist). But this site made me really mad and I’m gonna avoid it for the time being. When it comes to the Tanahk and the Talmud, these guys are pretty good about their job but when it comes to talking about other religions… Let’s just say they shouldn’t put it in their resume (I wanted to end the blog with that line or “Let’s just say they shouldn’t write home about it”. I don’t know which one to put so I’m leaving them both in.)
  9. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Paradise: A Kingdom of Gnosis   
    Is Paradise a Kingdom of Islamic Gnosis? There has been a millennia-long debate on the nature of the Islamic Paradise, whether it is physical or spiritual, literal or allegorical. The hoopla around its physicality does not concern me much, because whether heaven is in a molecular dimension or a spiritual one, it is certainly more "real" and of greater consequence than the natural world we have experienced. But in my recent reading of the Islamic Paradise and its anthropological symbolism, it is becoming more apparent to me that sacred knowledge plays an enormous role in the final abode.
    Probably the most common characteristic of Paradise is water, which is associated with life, cosmology, knowledge, blessing, resurrection, and wilaya in Shiism. The universe was made of water before Allah parted it and formed the heavens and the Earth ( ان الله عز وجل حمل علمه ودينه الماء قبل أن يكون سماء أو ارض أو انس أو جن أو شمس أو قمر ). Paradise has flowing rivers that are white like milk (white being a symbol of purity and light). It has many shades of green, which is a sign of the Garden's richness and lusciousness. There are supplications for rain, which is also life, help, blessing and mercy, coming vertically downward from the heaven unto the Earth. In our tafsir of 67:30, the sunken water is a hidden Imam, and the gushing water is an apparent Imam ( قلت: ما تأويل قول الله عزوجل: "قل أرأيتم إن أصبح ماؤكم غورا فمن يأتيكم بماء معين "فقال: إذا فقدتم إمامتكم فلم تروه فماذا تصنعون ) - the Imam being the source of life, without whom we die physically (the Earth always has a Guide) and spiritually (a man stagnant in religion is heedless and dead). In 16:64-65, divine revelation is likened to rain. Ismailis hold that water is a symbol for knowledge, which purifies the soul of its recipient, and al-Ghazali says the same in his commentary of 13:17, and Majlisi too says this about 72:16.
    The most prominent river in Paradise is al-Kawthar - its name implies its plenitude, and whomever drinks from it will never thirst again. al-Kawthar flows from beneath the Throne (الكوثر نهر يجري من تحت عرش الله). In Shiism, the Throne of Allah is not a physical throne, but a symbol of knowledge and authority (العرشى ليس هو الله والعرش اسم علم وقدرة) (ان الله عز وجل حمل علمه ودينه الماء). This Throne - the knowledge and religion of God - was first settled upon the primordial water of life (11:7). Once the world was formed, Allah made His most elite Prophet (s) and Imams (s) the carriers of this knowledge and religion, and hence they became the carriers of the Throne. The angels surround the Throne, seeking the knowledge and the association of the Guide (40:7-9 (الذين يحملون العرش) يعنى رسول الله صلى الله عليه واله والاوصياء من بعده يحملون علم الله (ومن حوله) يعنى الملائكة).
    The Blessed Tree of Paradise is at the house of `Ali ( رأيت في الجنة شجرة طوبى أصلها في دار علي). In 14:24-26, Allah presents a "goodly tree" (Shajaratun Tayyiba, related to the word Tuba) as an allegory for a "good word". On the surface, this good word is the revelation, but esoterically, the Messenger (s) is the root of this tree, `Ali is its branches, the Imams are its twigs, the knowledge of the Imams are its fruit, and the Shi`a are its leaves. ( رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله أصلها، وأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرعها، والائمة من ذريتهما أغصانها وعلم الائمة ثمرتها وشيعتهم المؤمنون ورقها) Indeed, there are a lot of tree allegories in ancient scriptures. Fruits normally symbolize the offspring, the actions, or the knowledge of a person. The "food" consumed in 80:24 is actually knowledge (عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام في قوله تعالى " فلينظر الانسان إلى طعامه " قال: إلى علمه الذي يأخذه عمن يأخذه). The fig and the olive in 95:1 is actually Hasan and Husayn (who are sometimes the fruits on the goodly Tree). From the root of the Blessed Tree, four rivers will flow out (ويجري نهر في أصل تلك الشجرة ينفجر منه الأنهار الأربعة) - i.e., from the Prophet, the carrier of sacred knowledge, whom Allah is atop of (in power, authority, and origin), the rivers (knowledge) will stream out to the rest of the people of Paradise. The reward of the believers is seeing the Face of Allah, which are the Guides, through whom Allah is known, turned to, and through whom the religion of Allah is attained (فقلت: يا بن رسول الله فما معنى الخبر الذي رووه أن ثواب لا إله إلا الله النظر إلى وجه الله تعالى؟فقال عليه السلام: يا أبا الصلت من وصف الله عز وجل بوجه كالوجوه فقد كفر، ولكن وجه الله أنبياءه وحججه صلوات الله عليهم، الذين بهم يتوجه إلى الله عز وجل والى دينه ومعرفته). On the other hand, the "tree" of Hellfire is Zaqqum, which one hadith says is the Umayyads ( وكيف لا أبكي وأنا من الشجرة الملعونة في القرآن), whose fruits are the heads (or chiefs) of the devils (37:62-68).
    The wilaya itself has been described as Paradise by the Imams. Wilaya is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Body Christ, the undying allegiance, love, association and partisanship of the Guides, amidst great adversity and suffering in the prison of this world. The acknowledgment of Imamate is the meaning of Paradise (قال رجل في المجلس أسأل الله الجنة فقال أبو عبد الله (ع) أنتم في الجنة فاسألوا الله أن لا يخرجكم منها. فقلنا جعلنا فداك نحن في الدنيا فقال أ لستم تقرون بإمامتنا قالوا نعم فقال هذامعنى الجنة الذي من أقر به كان في الجنة فاسألوا الله أن لا يسلبكم). Once we acknowledge and recognize the Imam, the faith that illuminates our hearts connects us to the Paradise of the Hereafter.
    Paradise is described as a place brightened with Allah's light. In our literature, this light inspires guidance (noor al-hidaya), greatness, love (لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب), faith, clairvoyance, and purity – like the water. The places of wudu will become places of light in the Resurrection. The locale of faith is in the heart, and faith is a light in Paradise (الحياء من الايمان والايمان في الجنة). When we sin, that light leaves our hearts, and Paradise slips away from us.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  10. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Karbala: The Supreme Sacrifice   
    عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن سيف بن عميرة، عن عبد الملك بن أعين، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: أنزل الله تعالى النصر على الحسين عليه السلام حتى كان [ ما ] بين السماء والارض ثم خير: النصر، أو لقاء الله، فاختار لقاء الله تعالى.
    Imam al-Baqir said: Allah تعالى sent support for al-Husayn عليه السلام until it filled that which was between the heaven and the Earth. Then he was left to choose: victory, or meeting Allah. So he chose to meet with Allah تعالى.
    Who is Hussain?
    I will tell you who he's not. He's not Mahatma Ghandi, he's not Nelson Mandela, he's not Malcolm X. Husayn is Husayn, and I feel that we are misunderstanding the purpose and the meaning of his sacrifice.
    There are many good, noble people in our history who rose up to fight for rights - Zayd and Nafs az-Zakiyya would be prime examples - but Imam al-Husayn did not stand up to fight for human rights. He did not even fight to gain the Caliphate. The hadiths make clear that Husayn knew exactly what would happen: he and his loved ones were going to die. Allah even gave him the option on the battlefield, saying, I will destroy your enemies if you so choose. However, Husayn chose to meet Allah instead. Had the fight been about human rights, then Husayn would've chosen to destroy his enemies and establish his government. But, he knew that sacrifice was his calling.
    There is no doubt that Imam al-Husayn's (as) movement was one based on justice. Amr bil ma`roof was the foundation of his decision, and Karbala' was a cosmic battle between good and evil, the Imam of Guidance and the Imam of Disbelief, the Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt and the Shi`a of the devil. But we know that all ma`sumeen did amr bil ma`roof, and even Husayn's predecessors rose up and were martyred.
    Had he been fighting for rights, then it begs the question: what differentiates Husayn from Zayd if they were both martyrs of the exact same circumstance? What makes the death of Husayn so pivotal when those better than him were also martyred? Modern society has been separated from the anthropology of sacrifice. Those who understand the symbols of sacrifice will better understand the meaning of Husayn's movement. Those who do not understand Shii Imamology will instead see the Imam as a Guevara or a William Wallace figure, who was killed at the beginning of his social justice mission.
    We're living in a time where Husayn's movement has become "everyday" and "everywhere" while the classical Shi`a truthfully said that "no day is like your day". The difference between the two is that the former demotes Husayn's sacrifice to everyday struggle, while the latter emphasizes the magnitude of the day. Our job as Muslims is to properly analyze and understand what happened and why it happened, which requires a thorough investigation of the hadith literature on this topic.
    The sacrifice starts with Isma`il. The Quran says regarding Ibrahim, "And we have ransomed him with a great sacrifice” (37:107) The Ahlul Bayt confirm that it was indeed Isma`il that was chosen for sacrifice, and that he was replaced with a ram. But one authentic narration by Imam ar-Rida [a] identifies that the real sacrifice here was Husayn, who replaced Isma`il and Ibrahim lamented over this. Husayn was dearer to Ibrahim than his own son was, because Husayn would be the grandson of the greatest Messenger and the Master of the Youth of Paradise. After passing this test, Allah made Ibrahim an Imam, and gave the divine covenant to him and his family. This link between sacrifice and covenant is an important one.
    94 - في عيون الأخبار حدثنا عبد الواحد بن محمد بن عبدوس النيشابوري العطار بنيشابور في شعبان سنة اثنين وخمسين وثلاثمأة، قال: حدثنا محمد بن علي ابن قتيبة النيشابوري عن الفضل بن شاذان قال: سمعت الرضا عليه السلام يقول: لما أمر الله تعالى إبراهيم عليه السلام ان يذبح مكان ابنه إسماعيل الكبش الذي أنزل عليه، تمنى إبراهيم عليه السلام أن يكون قد ذبح ابنه إسماعيل بيده وأنه لم يؤمر بذبح الكبش مكانه ليرجع إلى قلبه ما يرجع إلى قلب الوالد الذي يذبح أعز ولده بيده فيستحق بذلك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، فأوحى الله عز وجل إليه: يا إبراهيم من أحب خلقي إليك؟قال: يا رب ما خلقت خلقا هو أحب إلى من حبيبك محمد صلى الله عليه وآله، فأوحى الله عز وجل: يا إبراهيم هو أحب إليك أو نفسك؟قال: بل هو أحب إلى من نفسي، قال: فولده أحب إليك أو ولدك؟قال: بل ولده، قال: فذبح ولده ظلما على يدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبك أو ذبح ولدك بيدك في طاعتي؟قال: يا رب بل ذبحه على أيدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبي قال: يا إبراهيم ان طايفة تزعم أنها من أمة محمد صلى الله عليه وآله ستقتل الحسين عليه السلام ابنه من بعده ظلما وعدوانا كما يذبح الكبش، ويستوجبون بذلك سخطي، فجزع إبراهيم عليه السلام لذلك فتوجع قلبه وأقبل يبكى، فأوحى الله تعالى إليه: يا إبراهيم قد فديت جزعك على ابنك إسماعيل لو ذبحته بيدك بجزعك على الحسين وقتله، وأوجبت لك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، وذلك قول الله عز وجل وفديناه بذبح عظيم ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم.
     
    “When Allah ordered Abraham [a] to slaughter the ram that was brought to him in the place of Ishmael, Abraham [a] had hoped to have slaughtered Ishmael by his hand rather than being ordered to slaughter the ram in his place. This was so that he may regain the feeling in his heart that a father’s heart feels when he slaughters the dearest of his sons by his hand. He wanted to attain the highest of levels from the people of good deeds upon this calamity. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, who is the most beloved of My creation to you?” Abraham said, “O Lord, you have not created a creation who is more beloved to me than your beloved Muhammad .” So Allahrevealed, “O Abraham, is he more beloved to you, or yourself?” Abraham said, “Of course, he is more beloved to me than my own self.” Allah said, “So is his son more beloved to you, or your son?” Abraham said, “His son, of course.” Allah said, “So [what is more painful to your heart:] his son being slaughtered oppressively upon the hands of his enemies, or the slaughtering of your son by your hand in obedience to me?” Abraham said, “O Lord, his slaughter upon the hands of his enemies is more painful to my heart.” Allah said, “O Abraham, a faction that alleges that it is from the Nation of Muhammad will kill his son al-Husayn [a] after him oppressively and with aggression, just as a ram is slaughtered. And by that, my wrath upon them will become obligatory.” So Abraham lamented over that. His heart was pained by that, and he began to weep. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, I have ransomed your lamentation upon the slaughtering of your son Ishmael with your lamentation upon Husayn And so the highest of levels from the people of good deeds has become obligatory for you for this calamity."
    The Prophet calls himself the son of the two offerings, because both his father Abdullah and his forefather Isma`il had survived their respective sacrificial moments. The Prophet's position as a descendant of two offerings boosts his status as a prophet and a recipient of the divine covenant.
    حَدَّثَنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ الحُسَيْن القَطَّانُ قالَ أَخْبَرنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَعِيدُ الكُوفِي قالَ‏عَلِيِّ بن الحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِىِّ بْنِ الفَضّال، عَنْ أَبيهِ قالَ سَأَلْت أَبَاالحَسَن عَلِىِّ بْنِ مُوسَى الرِّضا عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ، عَن مَعْنى‏ قول النَّبِي صلي اللَّه وَآلِهِ أَنَا ابْنُ الذّبيحين قَالَ يَعْنِي إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْخَلِيلِ‏ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ
    “I asked Abul Hasan Ali b. Musa ar-Rida [a] about the meaning of the statement made by the Prophet (s), ‘I am the son of the two offerings.’ Imam ar-Rida [a] said, ‘That means that the Prophet (s) was the descendant of both Ishmael, the son of Abraham - the friend of God (s) and Abdullah - the son of Abdul Muttalib.
    The Hajj itself is a ritual centred around sacrifice. It recounts the story of Ibrahim and Isma`il everywhere. Pilgrims shave their heads, which is an important symbol of sacrifice. To shave your head for someone is to pledge allegiance to that person - you are giving them your head and your neck. When the Prophet took the bay`a of his companions at the Tree of Ridwan, the companions needed to shave their heads to complete the bay`a. Likewise, after the death of the Prophet, Imam Ali asked the companions to shave their heads to express their loyalty to him, but very few did so. The Hajj ends with the sacrifice of life of an animal. These are all important symbols that we belong fully to God, and that our lives are in His hand. Animal sacrifice is a sacrifice of your own ego and your lower, animalistic self. At the end of Hajj, you come out sinless, which is a rebirth after the sacrifice.
    حدثني ابي رحمه الله، عن سعد بن عبد الله، عن احمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن محمد بن سنان، عن الحسين بن مختار، عن زيد الشحام، عن ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: زيارة الحسين (عليه السلام) تعدل عشرين حجة وأفضل من عشرين حجة (2).
    Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "Visitation of al-Husayn [a] is equal to twenty Hajj. Rather, it is more than twenty Hajj."
     
    Even the salat has sacrificial symbology in ruku`. Imam `Ali in `Ilal ash-Shara'i` says that the ruku` is gesture where one offers his neck to Allah, saying, "O Allah, I believe in Your Oneness even if my neck is struck." تأويله آمنت بوحدانيتك ، و لو ضربت عنقي
    Now let's go to Husayn. Sacrificial animals are marked at birth. Likewise, in one hadith, the Imam was marked for sacrifice the day Sayyida Fatima gave birth to him. In return, the Prophet says, Allah will make the Imams from his progeny. Again, we see the relationship between sacrifice and covenant: even though Imam al-Hasan was of a higher status, the Imams would come from Husayn's progeny due to his sacrifice.
    حدثنا محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل رضي الله عنه قال : حدثنا عبد الله بن جعفرالحميري قال : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى قال : حدثنا الحسن بن محبوب ، عن علي بن رئاب قال : قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام : لما أن حملت ( 2 ) فاطمة عليها السلام بالحسين عليه السلام قال لها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إن الله عز وجل قد وهب لك غلاما اسمه الحسين ، تقتله أمتي ، قالت : فلا حاجة لي فيه ، فقال : إن الله عز وجل قد وعدني فيه عدة ، قالت : وما وعدك ؟ قال : وعدني أن يجعل الإمامة من بعده في ولده ، فقالت : رضيت .
    Imam as-Sadiq said: When Fatima عليها السلام became pregnant with al-Husayn عليه السلام, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said to her: Allah عز وجل has gifted a male to you whose name is al-Husayn. He will be killed by my Umma. She said: I do not need it. He said: Allah عز وجل has made a promise to me regarding him. She said: And what did He promise you? He said: He promised me that He will cause the Imamate after me to come from his loins. So she said: I am pleased.

    The colour red is also associated with blood sacrifice, and the Prophet receives red mud from Karbala to symbolize the inevitable killing of Husayn. Other narrations describe Imam al-Husayn with a red cloak. In Judaism, a red ribbon was tied around a ram for sacrifice on Yom Kippur. As for Yom Kippur, it is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Hebrew Calendar, while Ashura is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Muslim calendar. The Jewish Yom Kippur is called the Day of Atonement, and the High Priest would make a sacrifice at the Temple, and select the Passover lamb. There is some disagreement on the exact date of Ashura. Abu Baseer says in an authentic tradition that it took place on a Saturday ( قال: أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يخرج القائم عليه السلام يوم السبب يوم عاشورا يوم الذي قتل فيه الحسين عليه السلام ). This was also the position of Shaykh al-Saduq and Shaykh al-Mufeed. But the 10th of Muharram does not take place on a Saturday in 61 AH, which is the generally accepted year of the event. It does, however, take place on Saturday in 62 AH, and according to the historian Hisham al-Kalbi, this is the real year that Ashura took place. If this is true, then Ashura took place on the exact same day as Yom Kippur and on the Sabbath that year. This makes for some spectacular sacrificial parallels between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
     
    The Imams constantly compared the death of Husayn to that of a ram, because the two are voluntary sacrifices to God by beheading. ( إن كنت باكيا لشئ، فابك للحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب (عليه السلام)، فإنه ذبح كما يذبح الكبش )
    Sacrifices are often performed by initiates of an order. Likewise, Husayn was beheaded by Shimr, who had previously been a Shi`i who fought alongside Imam `Ali.
    Husayn journeyed to Karbala by cutting his own Hajj short. He left the Hijaz before performing the ritual sacrifice of Hajj. Perhaps he would become that sacrifice himself? He left the holy land and was sacrificed in Karbala, another holy and consecrated land. The narrations say that the best observance of the Day of `Arafat is in Karbala.
    أبي عن سعد عن النهدي عن علي بن أسباط يرفعه إلى أبي عبد الله (ع) قال إن الله تبارك و تعالى يبدأ بالنظر إلى زوار قبر الحسين بن علي ع عشية عرفة قال قلت قبل نظره إلى أهل الموقف قال نعم قلت و كيف ذاك قال لأن في أولئك أولاد زنا و ليس في هؤلاء أولاد زنا
    Imam as-Sadiq [a] said: Allah looks at the visitors of the grave of al-Hussain b. Ali (as) the night of `Arafah." The narrator asked: "Before those in '`rafah?" The Imam (as) replied: "Yes." The narrator continued asking: "And how is that?" The Imam (as) said: "It is because there are sons of fornication (awlad al-zina) in the people of 'Arafah, but there are none in these (meaning the ones in Karbala)."

    From these clues and many others, it is clear to me that Husayn is the true lamb of God, who sacrificed himself on behalf of his Shi`a to receive the covenant and blessing of God. Husayn was the one volunteered to give his head so that the world may have Imams. Our crying, mourning, and visitation is an act of association of Husayn so that we may be recipients of the fruit of his sacrifice. Karbala would become the connection between the celestial world and this one.
    عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : أيّما مؤمنٍ دَمَعَتْ عيناه لِقَتلِ الحسين عليه السلام دَمْعَةً حتّى تَسيل على خَدِّه بَوَّأه الله بها غُرفاً في الجنّة يَسكنها أحقاباً.
    Imam al-Baqir said: Any believer whose eyes shed tears for the murder of al-Husayn till they roll (down) his cheek, Allah will make him dwell in rooms of Paradise where he will there for long ages.
     
    The early Shi`a of Iraq certainly understood these symbols, because they were coming from cultures and religions where the anthropology of sacrifice were well known. Our world is far removed from this anthropology, and so our connection to Husayn has been through social justice. The problem is that this is purely a horizontal understanding of Karbala, and not a theologically vertical one. It is not as consistent with the sources, and it makes the Imam into a political reformer rather than the Great Sacrifice.
     
    Both Imam ar-Rida and Imam al-Mahdi did takfeer of those who denied that Husayn had died. There were some who believed that Husayn was raised up the same way Jesus was raised up. However, this would constitute kufr, because Husayn's sacrifice was the very foundation of the Abrahamic and Muhammadan covenants.
    يا بن رسول الله وفيهم قوم يزعمون أن الحسين بن علي عليهما السلام لم يقتل وانه ألقى شبهه على حنظلة بن أسعد الشامي، وانع رفع إلى السماء كما رفع عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام ويحتجون بهذه الآية.
    ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا فقال: كذبوا عليهم غضب الله ولعنته وكفروا بتكذيبهم لنبي الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم في اخباره بان الحسين عليه السلام سيقتل، والله لقد قتل الحسين وقتل من كان خيرا من الحسين أمير المؤمنين والحسن بن علي عليهم السلام، وما منا الا مقتول، وانى والله لمقتول بالسم باغتيال من يغتالني أعرف ذلك بعهد معهود إلى من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم أخبره به جبرئيل عليه السلام عن رب العالمين عز وجل، واما قوله عز وجل: (ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا) فإنه يقول: لن يجعل الله لهم على أنبيائه عليهم السلام سبيلا من طريق الحجة.
     
    A man said to Imam ar-Rida [a], "O son of the Messenger of Allah! There is a community that claims that al-Husayn b. `Ali [a] was not killed, but rather, his likeness was placed upon Hanthala b. As`ad ash-Shami, and that he was raised to the heavens just as Jesus the son of Mary [a] was raised. And they use this verse to support it, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141)" The Imam replied, "They have lied. The anger and the curse of Allah is upon them. They have disbelieved because they have belied the Prophet's saying that al-Husayn [a] will be killed. By Allah, al-Husayn was killed, just as those better than al-Husayn were killed, such as the Commander of the Faithful and al-Hasan b. `Ali. There is not one from us except that he is killed. I, by Allah, will be killed with poison by the assassins of he who will assassinate me. I know this because of a covenant entrusted to me from the Messenger of Allah . He was informed of it by Gabriel [a] from the Lord of the Worlds. As for His saying, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141), He is saying: Allah will not give them a way over His prophets [a] from the path of the Proof."
    Remember that many of our major narrators come from these Judaeo-Christian backgrounds: Zurara, `Ali b. Mahzayar, Yunus b. `Abd ar-Rahman, Abdullah b. Ja`far al-Himyari, al-Bazanti, `Ali b. Asbat, most of the Ansar (Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri, Jabir b. Abdullah, etc.) 2 of the martyrs of Karbala: John and Abu Wahab al-Kalbi, were Christians. There were things these people recognized in Husayn and in Shiism that we have unfortunately lost.
    Imam al-Husayn knew that he and his companions would die, and he even chose this. Allah gave him the option to defeat the empire, but he knew that it was not the time.
    محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن ابن محبوب، عن ابن رئاب، عن ضريس الكناسي قال: سمعت أبا جعفر عليه السلام يقول - وعنده اناس من أصحابه -: عجبت من قوم يتولونا ويجعلونا أئمة ويصفون أن طاعتنا مفترضة عليهم كطاعة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ثم يكسرون حجتهم ويخصمون أنفسهم بضعف قلوبهم، فينقصونا حقنا ويعيبون ذلك على من أعطاه الله برهان حق معرفتنا والتسليم لامرنا، أترون أن الله تبارك وتعالى افترض طاعة أوليائه على عباده، ثم يخفي عنهم أخبار السماوات والارض ويقطع عنهم مواد العلم فيما يرد عليهم مما فيه قوام دينهم؟! فقال له حمران: جعلت فداك أرأيت ما كان من أمر قيام علي بن أبي طالب والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام وخروجهم وقيامهم بدين الله عز ذكره، وما اصيبوا من قتل الطواغيت إياهم والظفر بهم حتى قتلوا وغلبوا؟ فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا حمران إن الله تبارك وتعالى قد كان قدر ذلك عليهم وقضاه وأمضاه وحتمه على سبيل الاختيار ثم أجراه فبتقدم علم إليهم من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله قام علي والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام، وبعلم صمت من صمت منا، ولو أنهم يا حمران حيث نزل بهم ما نزل بهم ما نزل من أمر الله عز وجل وإظهار الطواغيت عليهم سألوا الله عزوجل أن يدفع عنهم ذلك وألحوا عليه في طلب إزالة ملك الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم إذا لاجابهم ودفع ذلك عنهم، ثم كان انقضاء مدة الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم أسرع من سلك منظوم انقطع فتبدد، وما كان ذلك الذي أصابهم يا حمران لذنب اقترفوه ولا لعقوبة معصية خالفوا الله فيها ولكن لمنازل وكرامة من الله، أراد أن يبلغوها، فلا تذهبن بك المذاهب فيهم.
    A man said to Imam al-Baqir [a], "May I be your sacrifice! Have you deliberated regarding what occurred from the rising of `Ali b. Abi Talib, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn? They came out and rose up for the religion of Allah; how much they suffered from their deaths at the hands of the tyrants – they were defeated, murdered and overpowered." So Abu Ja`far al-Baqir [a] said: "Allah had destined that for them; decreed it, approved it, and necessitated it – it was beyond choice. It thus occurred and the knowledge of it had come to them from the Messenger of Allah. `Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn rose whilst knowing [the consequences]. By its knowledge, there were those of us who remained silent. Had they, whilst facing what Allah made them face and suffer defeat at the hands of the tyrants, asked Allah to remove their suffering and implored Him to destroy the kingdom of the tyrants, He would have answered their prayers and granted it for them – then, the decree would have removed the tyrants and their kingdom would end faster than the dispersal of threaded beads under pressure. That which they endured was not because of a sin they committed or a punishment for opposing Allah, rather, it was a deliverance and a bounty from Allah, who wished for them to attain it. Do not allow them (i.e. the people) to take you away from the [correct] path."
    وحدَّثني أبي ـ رحمه الله ـ وجماعة مشايخي ، عن سعد بن عبدالله ، عن عليِّ بن إسماعيل بن عيسى ؛ ومحمّد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطّاب ، عن محمّد بن عَمرو بن سعيد الزّيّات ، عن عبدالله بن بُكير ، عن زُرارة ، عن ابي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : كتب الحسين بن عليِّ مِن مكّة إلى محمّد بن عليٍّ : بِسم الله الرَّحمن الرَّحيم ؛ مِن الحسين بن عليٍّ إلى محمَّد بن عليٍّ ومَن قَبِلَه مِن بني هاشم ؛ أمّا بعد فإنَّ مَنْ لَحِقَ بي اسْتُشْهِد ، ومَنْ لَم يَلْحَقْ بي لم يُدرِكِ الفَتْح ؛ والسَّلام
    When he was in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn [a] wrote to his brother Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya. He said the following: "In the name of Allah the Beneficient the Merciful: From al-Husayn b. Ali to Muhammad b. Ali and those who are with him from the Children of Hashim [in Medina]. Verily, one who joins me will be martyred, and one who does not join me will not attain the Victory. Peace."
    وعنه، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن أبي حمزة الثمالي قال: قلت لابي جعفر عليه السلام: إن عليا عليه السلام كان يقول: " إلى السبعين بلاء " وكان يقول: " بعد البلاء رخاء " وقد مضت السبعون ولم نر رخاء !. فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا ثابت إن الله تعالى كان وقت هذا الامر في السبعين، فلما قتل الحسين عليه السلام إشتد غضب الله على أهل الارض، فأخره إلى أربعين ومائة سنة، فحدثناكم فأذعتم الحديث، وكشفتم قناع السر، فأخره الله ولم يجعل له بعد ذلك عندنا وقتا، و * (يمحو الله ما يشاء ويثبت وعنده أم الكتاب) *. قال أبو حمزة: وقلت ذلك لابي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: قد كان ذاك. 
    And from him from al-Hasan b. Mahbub from Abu Hamza ath-Thumali.
    He said: I said to Abu Ja`far عليه السلام: `Ali عليه السلام used to say, “Tribulations till 70 AH”, and he used to say, “after the tribulations is prosperity”, and yet 70 AH has passed and we have not seen prosperity! So Abu Ja`far عليه السلام said: O Thabit, Allah تعالى had set a time for this affair in 70 AH, but when al-Husayn عليه السلام was killed, Allah’s anger with the people of the Earth intensified. So He delayed it till 140 AH, and we narrated to you [regarding it] and you publicized the narration, so the secret was disclosed. Allah thereafter has not set any time for it that we know of. And, “Allah erases what He wills and establishes [what He wills]; and with Him is the Original Book” (13:39).
    We all know the story of the Prophet Salih, and Karbala' is an inner dimension of that story. Like many stories of the Qur'an, this one has parallels with that of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt. Salih was the Arab prophet to Thamud, just as Muhammad was the Arab prophet to his people. The people of Thamud idolaters worshiping a rock/mountain, and the Meccans were worshiping idols in the Ka`ba. As a sign, Salih brought a beautiful pregnant she-camel out of this rock. Likewise, Husayn accompanied the Prophet, and he was beautiful ("husayn" means "endeared beauty"). Salih ordered the good treatment of the she-camel, and the Prophet ordered the good treatment of Ahl al-Bayt. The she-camel provided milk (and ancient symbol for eternal life), and Husayn provided the deen. The camel was prevented from drinking the water of Thamud, and Husayn was prevented from water. The camel was struck and killed by the worst person of Thamud, and Husayn was struck and killed by the worst person of the Umma. The camel was survived by an offspring, and Husayn was survived by an offspring. Both the camel and Husayn were a blessing and a sign to the community, and the community neglected their rights and killed them.
    حدثني محمد بن الحسين الاشناني قال : حدثنا عباد بن يعقوب قال : أخبرنا مورع بن سويد بن قيس قال : حدثنا من شهد الحسين ، قال : كان معه ابنه الصغير
    فجاء سهم فوقع في نحره ، قال : فجعل الحسين يأخذ الدم من نحره ولبته فيرمى به إلى السماء فما يرجع منه شئ ، ويقول : اللهم لا يكون اهون عليك من فصيل ( ناقة صالح)
    Imam al-Husayn [a] was with his young son when an arrow struck his neck. So Husayn took the blood of his neck and his chest and threw it in the air, and none of it returned. He said, "O Allah, do not allow this to be less significant to You than the she-camel of Salih [a]."
     
    Allah does not need anything from us - He does not need our salat, zakat, or a`mal. The religion's a`mal are all human expressions to approach the Divine. Sacrifice is a religious expression that is rooted in Islam - it is in the stories of the prophets (Habil and Qabil's offerings, Isma`il's sacrifice and Eid al-Adha, the Baqara, in the bay`a of Ridwan) in the salat, in the Hajj, and elsewhere. It is a demonstration of full submission and full adherence to Allah's will. Sacrifice is done to achieve God's favour and His proximity. The Imams were always addressed with "may I be your sacrifice" or "may my mother and father be sacrificed for you" because true allegiance is only when you are ready to put your life on the line. From this post, we see the connection between the sacrifice and the covenant (mithaq/`ahd): Ibrahim and his righteous descendants become Imams only due to his sacrifice, which was rooted in Husayn taking the place of Isma`il. Even the Prophet's own prophethood was preceded by two offerings to Allah. So, the Prophet marked Husayn for sacrifice at birth, and in return, Allah made the Imams from his progeny - I believe there is an association between these two things, because there is always a connection between (1) sacrifice, and (2) covenants/oaths/allegiances. The Hajj is only complete with an animal sacrifice, after which we are reborn with no sins. These symbols are all over the Husayni literature.
    Husayn knew and willingly chose to meet his Lord on the 10th of Muharram, because a "political" islah and takeover of the Caliphate was not his mission. Imam `Ali and Imam al-Hasan were Caliphs, but their enemies prevented them from rectifying the Islamic Umma. Husayn's mission was to exemplify Islam in his fight - the full submission to the will of Allah. It was an expression of uplifting divine justice and personal responsibility at any cost. But it was also the ultimate act by which we could have the Imamate. Our mourning of him is our expression of associating ourselves with him (walaya), so that we may be counted among the covenant of Ahl al-Bayt. Once we become Muslims, and submit to our duties, and develop a ma`rifa of Allah through His Imams, and form a strong relationship with them, crying is a strong personal way to demonstrate kinship and love to Husayn. The hadiths promise that even one small tear for the Imam will result in a forgiveness of our sins, and one true visitation of our Imam will result in many Hajj. Considering the connections between Hajj and Husayn, the sacrificial and covenant dimensions here should be obvious.
    Husayn's movement had two legs: justice and sacrifice. If you cut one out of the narrative, the entire narrative falls. What highlights Husayn's movement is his act of sacrifice, which undergirds the Imamate of Ibrahim (as) and his family. Husayn, in his sacrifice, fulfilled the inner meaning of Hajj, which is full subservience and selflessness towards Almighty God Allah. Again and again, the hadiths present the parallels between Hajj and Imam al-Husayn, whose visitation equals many Hajj, because he is the epicentre of Hajj.
     
    And Allah knows best.

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    shia farm girl reacted to ShiaMan14 for a blog entry, 10 Days in Iran   
    I had been planning to go to Iran for a long time and finally made it a priority for me in 2016. Since I wanted to mix in sightseeing and pilgrimage in the same trip, I decided to go on my own instead of in a group.
    As it turned out, getting an individual visa for Iran when traveling from the US is a real hassle. We need to get permission from the Iran Foreign Ministry and then apply for the visa at the Iran Mission housed within the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC. After struggling for almost 3 weeks, I was able to find Taha Ziyarat Group (tahaziyarat@gmail.com) based out of Toronto that obtained the necessary approval for me for $90.
    Once I got my approval, I sent my passport off to the Iran Mission in Washington. I did have to follow up with them almost daily to ensure they processed my visa application expeditiously. I received my passport 4 days before flying out.
    While I was waiting for the visa approval, I booked my flights on Qatar Airways for a bargain price of $700 return to/from US-Tehran. For in-country arrangements, I know a maulana (NAJ) there who arranged everything for me based on my budget.
    Finally, the big day came and I left for Iran on Wed Mar 23rd arriving in Tehran late Thu evening (Mar 24th). NAJ had arranged for a driver to pick me up and drive straight to Qum instead of spending the night in Tehran. The drive from IKA (Imam Khomeni Airport) to Qum took about 90 minutes. The driver barely spoke English but knew where to pick me up from and where to drop me. We arrived at Qum International Hotel around 1245am (Fri Mar 25th). The hotel was about a *** US hotel, higher for Iran.
     
    Day 1 (Fri):
     
    We prayed fajr in our room and went back to bed. Since breakfast was included in our price, we went down for breakfast around 9a – nice long buffet.
    NAJ contacted me around 10am and picked me up from the QIH around 1030a to take me to the Roza of Masooma-e-Qum. We walked to the roza and were there at 1035a. The hotel is the closet one to the roza.
    NAJ showed us around the haram and provided us some background about Masooma and her roza. From 1130a – 2p, we were on our own to recite ziyarat, salah-e-jumah and dua. I wandered around the roza and made my way to the masjid adjoining the roza. It is an absolutely beautiful mosque.
    They had beautiful recitations of the quran and then some speeches followed by Azaan. The Jumah khutba was recited by an Ayatollah in Farsi (of course) and then namaz-e-jumah. Although I did not understand most of the khutba, one thing that was unmistakable was the ‘marg-al-Amreeka’ chants (down with America or death to America). They were loud and boisterous.

    Shrine of Bibi Masooma Qum (as).
    After salah-e-jumah, NAJ took us to the Suffrah of Masooma where were had a decent meal of rice with spinach with potatoes.
    We went to our hotel after lunch for some R&R and then returned to the haram for maghribain. After namaz, NAJ took us around the bazaar outside the haram. The clothing looked like they were from the 70s and 80s. Religious paraphernalia including irani chador were well stocked and affordably priced. Almost evey other shop sold halwa-suhan.
     
    Day 2 (Sat):
     
    We spent most of this day driving around to the various ziarats around Qum.

    Bait Al-Noor. Musallah of Masooma (as). This is where she spent time praying.

    Shrine of an Imamzadeh (Son of an Imam).

    Shrine of Hz. Hamza bin Musa Kazim (as).

     
    Day 3 (Sun):
     
    This was by far the most hectic day of the trip. We left around 5am to drive from Qum to Isfahan. It was about a 4-hour drive. I was surprised how much of the Iranian country was desert. The deserts in the Middle East countries (UAE, Saudi) have a lot of fine yellow sand. Iranian deserts are more rocky than sandy.


    Upon entering Isfahan, we visited the shrine of Masooma Zainab bint Imam Musa Khadim (as) – Masooma Qum’s younger sister.


    Next stop was the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan. We spent a few minutes here and then walked to Allama Majlisi’s tomb nearby. His house and surrounding are well preserved.
    Next was the more secular part of the Ishafan visit.

    We went to Naqsh-e-Jahan (half of the world) which is the main plaza of Isfahan. The weather was great and since the Nawroz holidays were still going on, it was packed with people.
    Within Naqsh-e-Jahan is the Ali Qapu Palace


    Panamoric View from Ali Qapu Palace Balcony of Naqsh-e-Jahan

    Since it was almost lunch time, we stopped by a street restaurant selling A’ash

    After lunch, we went to the Vank Cathedral. This Christian monastery was established in 1606. It contains some amazing art work.

     


    From here, we went to Khaju Bridge for some more sightseeing.



     
    At this point, we were too tired to do anything else so we headed back to Qum – 4 hour journey mostly spent napping.
     
    Day 4 (Mon):
    After a hectic day, sleep was going to be the primary thing on the agenda for this day but there was too much to do. We prayed fajr at the mosque next to Masooma-e-Qum’s shrine:

    Mosque adjacent to Masooma-e-Qum's shrine
    And then went back to our hotel for more sleep. We had breakfast and got ready for another fun-filled travel day.
    We started off by going from Qum to Mashad-e-Ardehal. This site contains the tomb of Sultan Ali son of Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) and brother of Imam Jafar Sadiq (as). Sultan Ali was brutally killed here by his enemies.

     
    From here we drove to a hilltop/mountaintop with streams running down. We had to walk down about 500 meters and got a great view of a waterfall.
                                    
    The most distinct feature of this area of the smell of rose water distilleries all over the place. You could get rose water for a variety of needs including simple hot rose water tea. The other distinct item being sold was fresh bee hives dripping with honey. And yes, we tried hot rose water tea with honey.
    From here, we went to the city of Kashan. Our first stop was an ancient archeological site called Tepe Sialk. The Sialk ziggurat
          
    Note: Entrance for most places have an Iranian Rate and a Foreigner rate (up to 3X in places). We had our driver buy the tickets and we would walk in with him talking to us in Farsi. Yes – very sneaky indeed. I excused myself by convincing myself that since both my wife and I are of Iranian descent, we qualify for the discount.  
     
    Final stop of our day trip to Kashan was to the oldest extant garden in Iran known as the Bagh-e-Fin or Fin Garden.
          
     
    Although this was a less hectic day than the trip to Isfahan, we were still pretty tired so we drove back to Qum, had a 12-in falafel sandwich, prayed maghraibain at the haram and went to bed.
    Day 5 (Tue):
    The past couple of days had left us tired so we decided to take it easy.
    We went to the haram for fajr then went back to bed. We woke up just in time to catch breakfast and then went to the local market (wish I took pictures). From there we went for zohrain at the mosque adjacent to Masooma’s shrine.
    After a quick bite to eat, we left for the Koh-e-Khizr aka Mountain of Khizr. What was supposed to be a light day in terms of exercise became a very intense and steep climb to the top of Koh-e-Khizr. It was well worth it in the end because we got a great view of the entire city of Qum if not the whole province.
        
    Got more daunting as we got closer.
          
    For the record, the old gentleman in the pic IS NOT ME
       
    City/Province of Qum.
     
    Needless to say the climb down was nowhere near as arduous as the climb up. There was a small food vendor about half from the top. On our way up, we bought some water from him and then ice cream on the way down.
    After resting by the car for a few moments, we drove nearby to the Masjid-e-Jhamkaran, located on the outskirts of Qum. A brief history of this grand mosque is that it  has long been a sacred place, at least since 373 A.H., 17th of Ramadan (22 February 984 C.E.), when according to the mosque website, one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani is reported to have met Muhammad al-Mahdi along with the prophet Al-Khidr. Jamkarani was instructed that the land they were on was "noble" and that the owner — Hasan bin Muslim — was to cease cultivating it and finance the building of a mosque on it from the earnings he had accumulated from farming the land.
    As we had been told, the mosque starts getting filled up from about 5pm and gets fuller and fuller as the evening progresses. I am not sure if it was because of Nawruz season but it definitely had a very 'carnival' and festive feel to it. People had spread out their rugs all across the mosque courtyard and were reveling with family and friends. There was hot tea brewing and koobideh with naan being shared by one and all.
    Quran and then different duas were being recited, followed by maghribain and then more duas. We left around 830p to go back to our hotel.

    Mosque sparely populated around 4pm.

    Crowded!!! (730pm).
     
    Day 6 (Wed):
     
    Today was the big day when we would finally make our way to Mashad. We had packed the previous night so we left right after fajr – and yes, I skipped breakfast!!!
     
    First stop was First stop was an almost 2 hour drive to Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum.   It is located to the south of Tehran in the Behesht-e Zahra (the Paradise of Zahra) cemetery. Construction commenced in 1989 following Khomeini's death on June 3 of that year. It is still under construction, but when completed will be the centerpiece in a complex spread over 5,000 acres, housing a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary, a shopping mall, and a 20,000-car parking lot. The Iranian government has reportedly devoted US$2 billion to this development. It is definitely one of the largest and most beautiful mausoleums I have come across.
     
    Visitors reciting fatiha for Ayatollah Khomenei.
    Please recite surah fatiha for Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini.
     
    Next stop was the Astana Bibi Shehr Bano. On the ground level there is a cave which according to legends was the place where Zuljinah brought Bibi from Kerbala, and she was there until hostile people to Bani Hashim got news of her being there, and they tried to catch her. She climbed the hillock and then vanished in a mountainous wall. Now a zarih has been constructed together with prayer rooms for men and women.
       
    Zarih of Hz. Shehr Bano.                                                                    View of other side of Tehran.
     
    who was a fifth generation descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Alī and a companion of Muhammad al-Taqī. A piece of paper was found in his pocket outlining his ancestry as being: ‘Abdul ‘Adhīm son of ‘Abdillāh son of ‘Alī son of Husayn son of Zayd son of Hasan ibn ‘Alī.Shah Abdul AzeemNext stop was the Shrine of
    Adjacent to the shrine, within the complex, include the mausolea of Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the fourth shia Imam Sajjad) and Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the eighth Twelver Imām - Imām Reza).
     
     

    From here, we drove around the City of Tehran including the famed part known as Rey. I am fairly well traveled but I have to say that Tehran is one of the most picturesque cities I have visited. Situated in close proximity of the Alborz range and its majestic peak Mount Damavand , being the highest in Iran with a height of 18,550 feet ,it is a mega city of about Thirty Million People.

    You can see hundreds of buildings at the foot of the mountain. Not a bad view to wake up to every morning.
     
    After driving around for a couple of hours, our driver dropped us of at Tehran’s Mehrabad Intl Airport which is primarily used for domestic travel. The airport is in the heart of Tehran or at least within the city.
    The airport has a small cafeteria that serves hot meals of the local variety. They also have a coffee shop and ice cream parlor.
    After a 2-hour wait, we finally boarded our short (1-hr) flight to Mashad. The flight was as uneventful as all flights can be. I did enjoy a small boxed-meal they offered everyone despite the short flight. It made up for the breakfast that morning J.
    Naj had arranged a friend of his (Ali) to be our tour guide for the stay in Mashad. Since Ali’s English was a little weak, he brought along his sister (Afsanay) who was quite fluent in English.
    We checked into our Hotel (Hotel Omid). It is definitely one of the nicer hotels in Mashad.
        
    View of shrine from our hotel room balcony.
    We quickly refreshed and headed over to the Shrine of Imam Reza (as). Much to our pleasant surprise, the shrine was not as packed with zawar as we expected. It could have been the weather or Nawruz.

    About to enter the main hallway of the Shrine for the first time. Goose bumps.
     

    As salaam alai ka Ya Ghareeb Al Ghuraba (as)

    One of the many courtyards within the Shrine Complex of Imam Ali Reza (as).
     
    Day 7 (Thu):
     
    Although our intention was to go to the haram in Imam Al-Reza (as) for fajr, it was raining too hard with heavy winds to walk so we prayed in our rooms and went back to sleep.
    We woke up to this view:
     
     
    After a world class buffet breakfast, we met up with Ali and Afsanay to go to Nishapour. Once again, it was a very scenic drive. The mountain-desert country just has a certain serenity about it. On the way, we saw small villages celebrating nawroz in their own way.
      
     
    Our first stop was at the Qadamgah – where the footprints of the Holy Imam Al-Reza (as) can be found. Adjacent to it is a small stream said to bring benefits of all kinds to the zawar.
           
    Panoramic view of the building housing the footprint.
     
    Just before entering the area of the qadamgah is a small caravansary which use to house people back in the day.

    There were probably abour 20-25 room like the one shown above. Very basic room with a hearth in the middle. The rooms were considered high end. Outside the caravansary, there was just the open shelter (pretend there is no room just the outer part).
    Next stop was to the mausoleum of Bibi Shatitay. The legend goes that Imam himself came there and led the Namaz-e-janaza prayers for her.
         
     
     
    We made a brief stop at the historic Shah Abbas Inn/Caravansary which has been converted into several small shops selling jewelry or souvenirs. Nishapur is famous for its turquoise stone (firoza).
    Next stop was the shrines of Imamzade Mahruq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Sajjad (as) and Ebrahim bin Ahmad bin Moosa bin Jafar (as). 
         
     
    A short walk from here was the tomb of Omar Al-Khayam – one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy.
     

     
    A short drive from here was the mausoleum of Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim aka Attar Nishapuri - a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.

     
    If memory serves me right, next to Attar’s tomb was an archeological site from thousands of years ago. It was going through extensive renovations at the time.

     
    Our last stop was a very famous local restaurant called Emirat Restaurant. Undoubtedly the best lamb koobideh I have ever had!!! My wife and I had some very interesting conversations with Ali and Afsanay. They were both fascinated by our lives in America. They had no qualms about asking me my salary; the size and cost of our house; they were surprised if not shocked that it was okay for my wife to go grocery shopping by herself and it was perfectly safe. They were under the impression that any woman who stepped out of her house by herself was 'asking for it'. I thought it was hilarious. Now that I think about it, everything the Western media does to paint Muslims in a certain light happens in Iran too but backwards. The Western media takes 1 bad Muslim story and tries to apply it to all Muslims. The Iranian media takes a bad Western story and applies it to all Westerners. This was just my observation and nothing more.
    We had some other interesting conversations but those are for another day and another time. 
    We drove back to Mashad and spent the evening the haram of Imam Al-Reza (as).
    Day 8 (Fri):
    We prayed fajr at the haram and went back to bed; then woke up to this beautiful view.

    Beautiful view of Roza of Ima Ali Reza (as).
    Since it was Friday, we stayed in our room until 11a or so and then headed to the haram again. Good thing we went early because it was fuller than we had seen since we got there.
    So I got a good spot in the mosque adjacent to the haram. I heard the Friday sermon (understood bits and pieces) and the “Death to American” chants, then prayed juma followed by Asr.
     

    Mosque adjacent to Imam Ali Reza's (as) shrine.
    Next was one of the most essential parts of the trip. One may not get this opportunity all the time. We had to take our passport to the office of Pilgrims situated in the Haram of Imam Ridha’s (as). They marked our passport and gives us a ticket for the meal. At the restaurant, they feed almost 4000 Zuwar each day. Thousands of Iranians must wait for years before they get a chance to have a meal at this restaurant.

    Lunch at Imam's restaurant (dastakhawan)
    Following lunch, Ali and Afsanay picked us up for some sightseeing. We drove around Mashad, saw her university and then went to ziarat nearby

    Ziarat near Mashad

    Iranian country side. Notice the marked difference in scenery from the previous pictures.
    On our way back, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for some traditional Persian ice cream. The last stop was a nearby pewter mountain. I was amazed to see people climbing it without any concern for safety. It was rainy and slick. Mrs ShiaMan14 bought a very nice souvenir.

    We came back, rested for a bit and then went to the haram for salah.
    Day 9 (Sat):
    This was the day to head back to Tehran. We spent the entire night at the haram until fajr. Then came back to get some rest. We got up after a couple of hours, had some breakfast and packed. We took all our luggage downstairs and went back to the haram for zuhrain. We also did the farewell ziarat, rushed back to the hotel since Ali was waiting for us.
    We got to the Mashad International Airport around 245pm for a 530p flight - plenty of time.
    Just as Ali left us, NAJ gave me a call informing me that my flight had been cancelled so he booked me on the last flight to Tehran (happened to be the cheapest option). This is when panic set in. If the last flight got cancelled, I  would miss my flight from IKA to Doha and the subsequent flight to US.
    I could see on the monitors that there were several flights from the time now until my new flight time although all of them were on a different airline than mine. I called NAJ to ask if my ticket could be changed and he said it would not be possible. So I saw the flight I wanted about 1.5 hours later and went to their sales office. First, they couldnt understand why I wanted another ticket when I already had one. My farsi and their english were too awful to understand each other but nevertheless they allowed me to buy 2 tickets. 
    Next problem - I did not have any Iranian Rials on me and the INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT did not have a Money Exchange! So I had to call Ali back to see if he had any rials that he could give me in exchange for dollars. By this time, he was about 20 minutes away so we had to wait for him to come back. In the meanwhile, the Sales Agent agreed to take my dollars at a fairly decent exchange rate. Basically, I bought 2 one-way tickets from Mashad to Tehran for about $100. Just as we finalized the transaction, Ali came back and I had to explain the whole thing to him as well. He, too, was confused as to why I would buy another ticket when I already had one. 
    Anyway, we finally put all that behind us, checked-in and were on our way to Tehran.
    After an uneventful journey to Tehran, we drove all the way to Qum to sepnt about 3-4 hours in Qum at NAJ's house. We freshened up, ate a really nice meal and got ready to leave.
    Day 10 (Fri):
    We left Naj's house around 1am and reached IKA by 215am. Since this was the last or day after Nawruz holidays, the airport was jam packed. It took an hour to check-in, the security lines were considerably shorter so in another 15 minutes, we were at our gate. Boarding started just around fajr, so we prayed quickly and boarded our Qatar Airways flight to Doha.
    I was a bit nervous about returning to the US from Iran but had no problems whatsoever.
    A very placid end to a very hectic but thoroughly enjoyable trip.
    Summary:
    Iranians are a very joyous and happy people. There was no patch of grass where we didn't see a family setting up a picnic be it as a roadside or a courtyard of a shrine. I really wish relations between Iran and the West improves so the people can really experience the rich, colorful and impressive history, geography and culture Iran has to offer.
    Our entire 10 day trip cost about $1,600/pp. It was money well spent.
     
  12. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Spread by the Sword?   
    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
               
                Not only is Islam the second-largest religion in the world, but it is the world’s fastest growing religion. With globalization and the influx of Muslim immigration to the West, many people are reluctantly meeting Muslims for the first time. Fear of the unknown is common, but that fear is constantly perpetuated by images of violence in the Muslim world. As a visible minority with little political leverage, the Muslim community is an easy target for xenophobes, warmongers, and nationalists. The Muslim world is the needed bogeyman for the military-industrial complex, private security companies, and isolationist politicians to thrive. Rather than trying to understand the complex imperial and economic variables that cause violence in the Muslim world, it is both simpler and more cunning to resort to generalized arguments about Islam. This view, however, overlooks the many scientific and philosophical contributions Muslims have made to Western civilization. More importantly, it distorts the reality of the Muslim civilization’s mostly-tolerant history. The centuries-old narrative that Islam was “spread by the sword” is still popular today, and it causes Muslims living in the West to be looked at as a suspicious Trojan horse waiting to Islamize the world. It is therefore necessary for us to deconstruct this worldview. This paper will briefly explore the rise and expansion of Islam, and demonstrate that tolerance and plurality were founding principles of Islamic ethics.
                Since the early days of the Prophet Muhammad’s ministry, Islam’s relationship with non-Muslim communities has been notable. Shortly after the Muslim migration to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in 622 CE, the Prophet drafted the Constitution of Medina. This charter put an end to tribal infighting in Medina, created a new judicial system, guaranteed the mutual protection of Muslims and non-Muslims, and established a new “Community of Believers (mu’mineen)”. (Gil, 2004, pp. 21) This community would include the Jewish tribes of Medina, while still recognizing their distinct identity and laws. Although Bernard Lewis claims that the Constitution of Medina was a unilateral proclamation by Muhammad, (Lewis, 1993, pp. 22) Muslim sources generally referred to it as a pact between the Muslims and the Jews following the two pledges at `Aqaba. Furthermore, Wellhausen, a German orientalist, regarded this charter to be a multilateral agreement negotiated between all of the involved groups. (Gil, 2004, pp. 22)
                The Prophet Muhammad also ratified writs of protection to other communities. The Ashtiname of Muhammad, which was written by `Ali b. Abi Talib upon the commission of Muhammad, granted privileges to the Christian monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt. (Ratliff, 2012, pp. 63) The document guarantees that Christians are not to be overtaxed, plundered, disturbed, or coerced into marriages. (Morrow, 2013) These covenants demonstrate that the Prophet pursued a peaceful and tolerant coexistence with other communities, and made his followers accountable to ethical principles of justice.            
    The Prophet Muhammad very plainly stressed the equality of all people, regardless of tribe, colour, class, or ethnicity. While rights differed among subgroups of society, the Islamic civilization held no concept of the natural subordination of individuals or groups. (Hamid, 1982, pp. 127) Conversion to Islam only required a simple declaration of faith, while becoming a member of the ancient Greek polity was only possible for Greek male property owners. (Hamid, 1982, pp. 127)  The egalitarianism of the Quranic message was attractive to many who sought social refuge from the caste system and other forms of subordination. (Eaton, 1992, pp. 117)
    The Caliphate’s medieval conquests, which occurred after the Prophet Muhammad, are the main source of agitation among those suspicious of Muslims. It should be noted that `Ali b. Abi Talib, who is considered the rightful successor to Muhammad by Shia Muslims, refrained from taking part in these conquests, despite being renowned as a great warrior. There should be no doubt that there were incidents that occurred during early expansion that are not in line with the teachings of the Prophet, especially during the ridda wars and the Battle of `Ulays. The Shia Imams consistently held the Caliphate accountable during mistrials and in moments of nepotism; and they struggled to establish social and economic justice in the Muslim world. But, the frame that the Islamic conquests were wholly or mostly negative is a Eurocentric view that does not account for other pieces of the puzzle.
                Many ancient texts document extensive Judeo-Christian support for the Muslim conquests of Byzantium and Persia. Jews in the Levant had expected a redeemer who would deliver them from the Roman occupiers. (Crone, 1977, pp. 3-6) The Romans had destroyed the Jerusalem Temple in 134 CE, outlawed Jews from living within ten miles of Jerusalem, disbanded the Jewish high court, taxed the Jews heavily, and persecuted them for siding with the Persians. This torment ignited a messianic fervour among medieval Jews, leading to a widespread anticipation of a saviour. One of the earliest non-Muslim references to the rise of Islam is the Doctrina Jacobi, a Greek Christian anti-Jewish polemical text written in 634 CE, just two years after the passing of Prophet Muhammad. The text describes “overjoyed” Jews celebrating the Muslim arrival in Byzantium. (Crone, 1977, pp. 3) Moreover, The Secrets of Simon ben Yohai, a Jewish apocalyptic text written between the seventh and eighth centuries CE, tells of the emergence of an Ishmaelite “prophet according to God’s will” who would save the Jewish people from their oppressors. (Crone, 1977, pp. 4-5)
    The Islamic conquest of the Levant would restore Jewish access to Jerusalem and establish a polity that would include Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. The Pact of Umar II, a writ of protection extended by `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz in the seventh century, promised safety and the right to worship to Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians in exchange for the payment of the poll tax (jizya). (Berger, 2006, pp. 88) While some orientalists have criticized the Pact’s prohibition on riding horses, Muslim clothing and building high structures, these stipulations may have been placed to prevent insurrections against Muslim garrisons, rather than to humiliate or subordinate non-Muslims.
                The Muslim treatment of non-Muslims was similarly commended by Near Eastern Christians. John bar Penkaye, an East Syriac Nestorian writer of the late seventh century, praised the Muslim overthrow of the Sassanid dynasty. In his Summary of World History, he writes, “We should not think of the advent [of the children of Hagar] as something ordinary, but as due to divine working. Before calling them, [God] had prepared them beforehand to hold Christians in honour, thus they also had a special commandment from God concerning our monastic station, that they should hold it in honour … God put victory in their hands.” (Pearse) This early Christian account documents the just conduct of Muslim rulers, likening it to divine intervention. Furthermore, after the Byzantines had seized control of Egypt and put the Coptic Patriarch Benjamin I of Alexandria into exile, the Muslim conquerors restored Benjamin I’s authority and brought order to the affairs of the Coptic Church.
    Many cultures were drawn to Islam’s magnetic social appeal. Indonesia, which is the country with the highest population of Muslims, encountered Arab merchants in the thirteenth century. Along with the arrival of Muslim commercialism, Islamic stories and symbols were introduced to the population through traditional wayang puppet shows. (Hamish, 2011, pp. 46-51) In the Indian subcontinent, Islam provided social mobility to lower castes, giving people equal rights and freeing them from total subservience to the Brahmans. The transformative power of Sufism was also attractive to many Hindus who sought ascetic, mystical brotherhoods. (Lapidus, 1988, pp. 363) Sufi and Shia saints continue to be revered by Hindu and Sikh poets in India.
    Although the Muslim empires had a tumultuous relationship with European Christians over the centuries, sizable Christian and Jewish communities with ancient origins continued to thrive in the Muslim world. Moorish and Ottoman confrontations with Christendom have propelled the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword. The fact is, however, that the conversion of the Near East to Islam occurred very gradually. By 800 CE, only 18% of Iraq’s population was Muslim. (Brown, 2016) Furthermore, Egypt, Spain, and the Levant did not attain a Muslim majority until the eleventh century. (Brown 2016) This means that the Muslims were a minority in the heartlands of their own civilization for hundreds of years. While poll taxes and other social pressures certainly promoted conversion to Islam, ancient churches, synagogues, temples, and other relics were maintained. Judeo-Christian populations even had rights to printing presses and European books in the Ottoman Empire – a privilege rarely granted to Muslims. (Brown, 2016) 14% of the Middle East remained Christian by 1910, with significant populations in Syria, Palestine and Egypt. (Brown, 2016)
    On the other hand, Christendom had a relatively poor record with minorities. Although Iberia was mostly Muslim in the fifteenth century, all Muslims were expelled or forced to convert to Christianity in 1526. (Brown, 2016) In 1609, 3-4% of Spain’s population consisted of Christian descendants of Muslims, who were also expelled under King Philip the Third. Anti-Jewish pogroms were also common in pre and post-Enlightenment European history. While there are many ancient Christian communities in the Muslim world, there are practically no ancient Muslim communities in the Christian world, despite Islam’s long history in Spain, Portugal, Sicily, and Eastern Europe.
                In recent decades, the Muslim world’s relationship with its non-Muslim minority communities has suffered. Colonialism, neo-imperialism, military dictatorships, and poor economies have sometimes caused the alienation and scapegoating of ethnic and religious minorities in the Muslim world. In June 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which rose out of the destabilization of Iraq and Syria, routed Christians out of Mosul. This genocide marked the end of over a thousand years of continuous Muslim-Christian coexistence in the region. While ISIL’s actions are a black mark on modern Islamic history, ISIL’s main military and ideological opponents are other Muslims in the region and around the world. This paper demonstrates that normative Islam seeks unity under common ethical principles. It is vital for Muslims to revive an equitable, pluralistic and tolerant worldview, not just because diversity is strength, but because it is the ethos of our civilization.           
     
    Bibliography
    Berger, Julia Phillips., and Sue Parker. Gerson. Teaching Jewish History. Springfield, NJ: A.R.E. Pub., 2006. Print.
    Pearse, John Bar Penkaye, Summary of World History (Rish Melle) (2010). N.p., n.d. Web. 9 July 2016.
    Crone, Patricia, and Michael Cook. Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1977. Print.
    Http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4L23Z_agh1qeV_odQfV6Vg. "Dr. Jonathan AC Brown - The Message of Peace Spread by the Sword - UMaine IAW 2016." YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web. 9 July 2016.
    Eaton, Richard Maxwell. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: U of California, 1993. Print.
    Gil, Moshe, and David Strassler. Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages. Leiden: Brill, 2004. Print.
    Harnish, David D., and Anne K. Rasmussen. Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
    Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988. Print
    Lewis, Bernard. The Arabs in History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.
    Morrow, John A. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    Ratliff, Brandie, and Helen C. Evans. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th-9th Century. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. Print.
    ʻInāyat, Ḥamīd. Modern Islamic Political Thought. Austin: U of Texas, 1982. Print.
  13. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Time Concepts in the Qur’an   
    Original Post: Time Concepts in the Qur’an – a Historical Perspective
    This is based on my understanding of a recorded lecture posted online a few days ago, of Dr. Ahmad Pakatchi speaking at The International Conference on Interdisciplinary Quranic Studies in Tehran. I hope any written material by him or other researchers will become accessible on this subject, especially given that Dr. Pakatchi is one of Iran's qualified and well known professors.
    ---
    Time plays an important and often times a complicated role in various different fields, and history is definitely not an exception to this rule. One specific discussion pertaining to time and its role in history is with regards to a division of time from two different perspectives. The first division is that of Relative and Absolute - a division that also exists in archaeology and geology, and the second is into Comparative and Structural.
    Absolute time is a numerical measurement that is calculated based on an origin, and by which we can date various events and instances. For example, making the Hijrah of the Prophet (s) or the birth of 'Isa (s) the initial point of our time, we can subsequently give time-stamps to events in history mentioning their date, month or year of occurrence.
    On the other hand, Relative time does not provide any specific date or timestamp, as it is a comparison of two events with one another, and only tells us about their relative order. Saying that the revolt of Mukhtar took place after the event of Karbala is an example of Relative time.
    Based on the second type of division, Comparative time is when we look into a historical event or an event that is considered historical, in relation to other historical events from the perspective of time. For example, when we say that a certain event took place 60 years after such and such event, this is a case of Comparative time. Here we are not looking at our incident on its own, rather in relation to other events.
    Structural time on the other hand, is when we look into a historical instance in it and of itself as a singular structure, without comparing it with any other events. For example, saying that so and so person lived for 70 years is a case of Structural time. We are referring to a time (i.e. the person’s age) whose origin and end is the person himself.
    These divisions can subsequently be combined with one another to produce four separate concepts of time. Each of these concepts will be explained with an example:
    1) Absolute-Comparative: For example, if we say that the event of 'Ashura took place in 61st Hijri, we are applying the concept of time to the day of 'Ashura by comparing it with a specific origin (i.e. the migration of the Prophet) while at also mentioning the date of its exact occurrence within a historical timeline.
    2) Relative-Comparative: For example, if we say that the event of 'Ashura took place after the death of Imam Hasan (s), we are looking into one event while comparing it with another, and then giving it its own relative order. There is a comparison here, and also an indication of what happened first, but there is no numerical measurement which gives us a timestamp for either of the events.
    3) Absolute-Structural: For example, if we say that the duration of Imam Husayn's (s) Imamate was eleven years, we are applying a structural understanding of time as far as we are only concerned about Imam Husayn (s) on his own, yet also giving an exact numerical value to the duration of his Imamate.
    4) Relative-Structural: For example, if we say that Hurr bin Yazid al-Riyahi was the commander of Ibn Ziyad's army before coming to the Imam's side. In this case, we are looking at the life of Hurr as an individual, and giving a relative order to some of his actions based on what he did before and after the event of Karbala. We are not occupying ourselves with the details of any other historical events, rather our concern is the life of Hurr himself.
    Relative-Comparative time is perhaps the most often used concept of time in the Qur'an. It is primarily this specific combination that is used to cite examples of historic recurrence in philosophy of history. Absolute-Comparative cases do not seem to exist in the Qur’an, and coincidently, it is this concept of time that implies that an event has taken place and will not recur. This does not seem to be because the culture and society of the time wasn't aware of such a mode of conveying history – especially given that you can find examples of this in previous books - rather there is Divine Wisdom behind its absence.
    Within the Qur'an, Relative-Comparative cases are often those which make use of words that signify concepts of before and after, such as ba’d (بعد), qabl (قبل), ula (اولي), ukhra (اخرى). In some verses this meaning is also signified through the verb khalafa (خلف), meaning to succeed, and waritha (ورث), meaning to inherit. See for example when the Qur’an in 53:51-52 speaks about the destruction of Thamud, and before them the people of Noah (wa qawma Nuhin min qabl), or when it refers to the appointment of a king for the Israelites after Moses (2:246-247). In both these cases, we have no information about when these events took place on a measurable timeline, but we do know which event occurred first and which occurred second.
    Some Relative-Comparative cases of time in the Qur’an follow a specific style and pattern, where it mentions two events, but does not give us any information about the event between those two. See for example, in 40:5 The people of Noah denied before them and the [heathen] factions [who came] after them. In this verse, we know about the situation of those who denied Prophet Muhammad (s), and the verse tells us that previously the same had occurred with Noah (s). However, based on this verse alone, we are not told any real information about those groups that came between these two events and those historic events are kept vague. This style, along with signifying recurrence and emphasis, seems to also allude to and emphasize the concept of lengthiness and span of time.
    We also find examples of Relative-Comparative usage of time in the Qur’an. These cases are mostly recorded in a narratological manner. Surah al-Kahf is a great example of this, or the story of Dhu al-Qarnayn, or the story of Moses (s) and Khidhr and of course the story of Yusuf (s). In Surah al-Saaffat, we have short stories or rather verses that recall incidents from the lives of various Prophets (s) such that we understand that each Prophet is essentially a continuation of the story of the previous Prophet.
    Absolute-Structural cases also exist in the Qur’an. For example, in 29:20 the Qur’an mentions that Noah’s life was a thousand-less-fifty years until the flood overtook his people. Over here Noah (s) and his life alone is the subject of discussion, but the verse also gives us a numeric value which makes it absolute since his age is being measured from the time of his birth. This verse however, is not Absolute-Comparative because we do not know when Noah lived precisely and neither do we know when the flood took place in absolute terms.
  14. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Some Observations on Niyyah   
    Most books on jurisprudence and practical law that deal with fasting, open up with a discussion on Niyyah (intention). Some books make the rules seem quite complicated and the deductive discussions present in many books or transcribed notes from the Behas al-Kharij of some of the jurists are even more complicated at times. This is all the while our classical scholars did not spend so much time on this subject at all. In fact most earlier jurists are relatively silent on the matter in their works of jurisprudence. For example, in rulings of Wudhu, we find no mention of anything to do with Niyyah in Shaykh al-Saduq’s al-Muqni’ and neither Shaykh al-Mufid in his al-Ishraf. Or in his al-Muqni'ah, Shaykh al-Mufid discusses the method of praying in detail, yet is completely silent on the matter of Niyyah. Elsewhere, some of these jurists would simply say that Niyyah is to seek closeness towards Allah and to have sincerity (Shaykh al-Mufid for example uses 98:5 to prove this). 
    Complicated discussions on Niyyah seem to have slowly crept in during the end of the 6th century Hijri, and by 7th & 8th century with the appearance of Muhaqqiq Hilli and 'Allamah Hilli this discussion had become part of mainstream jurisprudential discussions.
    We began seeing discussions on whether Niyyah is something that one has to literally notify themselves of, and if this is to be done in the heart, or in the mind or by tongue; or whether it is a mere result of another entity that calls them to perform an action. Furthermore, does one have to specify in their intention whether they are performing an obligatory or recommended action - and if obligatory, is it Qadha or not? Or if there is a need to specify in the month of Ramadhan that one is indeed doing the obligatory fast of Ramadhan or not? Does Niyyah have to be continuous or is one Niyyah in the beginning of a worship enough? All these and other related discussions had become mainstream for centuries and can still be seen in the books of practical law. 
    Interestingly enough, we have also seen a few scholars speaking out against this during the course of time. Some Shi'i scholars - like Muhaqqiq Sabzwari (d. 1090 Hijri) - even deemed these discussions as outright innovations (bid'ah). Over the last few weeks, having gone through the transcribed lessons of Ayatullah Shubeyri Zanjani, Ayatullah Mazahari and Ayatullah Nuri Hamadani's on this topic, it is clear that some contemporary scholars also look at these discussions unfavourably (yet seem to be forced to discuss it in their Behas al-Kharij due to the format their lessons follow).
    One figure who spoke out against this matter was Shaykh Baha'i (d. 1621 CE). In his Miftah al-Falah [http://en.wikishia.net/view/Miftah_al-falah_(book)] he writes (very quick, rough and slightly paraphrased translation): 
    "And know that some of our later jurists have exaggerated and extended their discussion on the matter of Niyyah, while there is nothing in the narrations of the Imams (s) as such. Rather, what can be utilized based on what has been reported on behalf of them (s) on the topics of Wudhu, Salat and all other forms of worship, which their followers would act upon, is that the matter of Niyyah is easy. It is needless from being mentioned, present in the minds of all rational people when they carry out an act out of their own free-will. Due to this, our classical jurists (r) did not enter into discussions regarding it.
    It was only a group of later jurists who embarked on it and initiated a discussion on it, such that it now becomes the subject of doubt for whether it had been abandoned from various parts of one’s actions, brings about difficulty for most people, and leads them into Waswas. In fact, Niyyah is nothing in reality but a simple intent to carry out a specific action for a specific cause; and it is a part and parcel of that action which is intended.
    This intent can almost never be separated from a rational person at the time of every action, to the extent that some of our scholars have said that if Allah had made us responsible of carrying out a specific action without having its Niyyah, our responsibility would be towards that which we have no ability of performing. 
    Thus, the notion of bringing into presence that which is intended, into the mind, such that it is differentiated from another, and the intent of carrying out an action to fulfill a command of Allah is at the height of simplicity. Take Zuhr prayers - an act we are responsible for performing at a specific time for example - which can be conceptualized with its specific characteristics by which it is differentiated from all other actions deemed worship and non-worship, and the intent of performing it to fulfill a command: there is no difficulty in any of this at all, like the working conscious of anyone will testify. If anyone finds this difficult, then they should ask Allah to correct their conscious, for He is omnipotent over all things."
  15. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Prophet and a Near-Death Experience   
    The Narration
     الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن عبدالرحمن بن أبى هاشم، عن سالم بن أبي سلمة، عن أبي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: حضر رجلا الموت فقيل: يارسول الله إن فلانا قد حضره الموت فنهض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله  ومعه اناس من أصحابه حتى أتاه وهو مغمى عليه، قال: فقال: ياملك الموت كف عن الرجل حتى أسأله فأفاق الرجل، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله: ما رأيت؟ قال رأيت بياضا كثيرا وسوادا كثيرا قال: فأيهما كان أقرب إليك؟ فقال: السواد، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله: قل: اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِيَ الْكَثِيرَ مِنْ مَعَاصِيكَ وَ اقْبَلْ مِنِّي الْيَسِيرَ مِنْ طَاعَتِكَ فقاله، ثم اغمي عليه، فقال: ياملك الموت خفف عنه حتى أسأله، فأفاق الرجل، فقال: ما رأيت؟ قال: رأيت بياضا كثيرا وسوادا كثيرا، قال: فأيهما كان أقرب إليك؟ فقال: البياض، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: غفر الله لصاحبكم قال: فقال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: إذا حضرتم ميتا فقولوا له هذا الكلام ليقوله
    al-Kafi: Muhammad b. Yahya from Muhammmad b. al-Husayn from Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Hashim from Salim b. Abi Salama from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام who said:
    A man was suffering the pangs of death, so it was said: O messenger of Allah so and so is on his death-bed, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله set out with some men from among his companions until they came to him while he had fallen unconscious, he said: O angel of death - stop your workings on the man until I can ask him! so the man regained consciousness, the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said to him: what did you see? He said: I saw a lot of darkness and a lot of brightness, he said: which one of them was nearer to you? he said: darkness, so the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said: say - “O Allah forgive me the great number of transgressions to you and accept from me the small number of obediences to you” so the man repeated that then fell back into unconsciousness, he said: O angel of death - stop your workings on him so that I can ask him! so the man regained consciousness, he said: what did you see? He said: I saw a lot of brightness and a lot of darkness, he said: which one was closer to you? he said: the brightness, so the messenger of Allah said: Allah has forgiven your fellow! Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: if you witness someone dying then remind him these words so that he can say them.
    Ref: Muhammad Asif al-Muhsini, Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara, Bab Talqin al-Muhtadhar, Kitab Ahkam al-Mayyit (Qum: Dar Nashr Adyan; 1st edition, 1434 H), Vol. 8, Pg. 492, No.5.
    Comments
    Modern research has shown that the ubiquitous themes featuring in most near-death experience narratives include:
    1. “A ‘tunnel experience’ - a sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase”.
    2. “About half report seeing a tunnel of light, and the other half report seeing a tunnel of darkness”.
    3. “The tunnel of light is reported as being bright and golden. The tunnel of darkness is reported as being as black as a void of nothingness. About ten percent of people manage through the tunnel to the other side. Everyone reports this place as peaceful and beautiful”.
    4. “A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light”.
    5. “Encountering ‘Beings of Light’, ‘Beings dressed in white’, or similar”.
    While most studies attribute this to oxygen starvation others refute this. Several alternative possible hypotheses bandied about include a flood of endorphin to neural-noise theory and memory recall. 
    This  narration indicates that seeing such colours is not something unaccounted for in Islam and is to be interpreted metaphysically. 
    لعل البياض عقائده وأعماله الحسنة والسواد أعماله القبيحة وفى بعض الاخبار أنه قال: رأيت أبيضين وأسودين فيمكن أن يكون الابيضان الملكان والاسودان شيطانان يريدان اغواء أو أتاه الملائكة بصور حسنة وقبيحة لانه إذا صادفوه من السعداء توجه إلى ملائكة الرحمة وإن كان من الاشقياء توجه إليه ملائكة الغضب
    al-Majlisi says: it is possible that the ‘brightness’ is his belief and good-deeds and the ‘darkness’ is his evil actions, and in some reports he said: I saw two white lights and two black ones, it is possible that the two white lights are the two angels, and the two black-ones are the devils wanting to mislead him, or it could be that the angels came to him with a beautiful face and an ugly face, for if they find him from among the people of good an angel of mercy faces him, and if he is from the wretched an angel of anger does so”.
  16. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Reza for a blog entry, For Those in the 21st Century....   
    So how’s this whole 21st century thing coming along? Yeah.
    With the passage of time, each new era is forced to carry a higher burden and inherit a larger legacy than the generation before. Time is a double edged sword. On one end, more time can expand the opportunity to build constructive relationships, goodwill, positive institutions, and human progress. Conversely, time can serve to widen the accumulation of baggage, knot tighter the machinations of deceit and derision, and aid in the solidification of deviant ideologies, perverse mythologies, and exploitative institutions. In this regard, time is an empty canvas waiting to be marked by any paintbrush, big or small, with whatever paint along the way. 
    Paint is the (im)moral force that gives purpose and relevancy to this big and blank amoral whiteboard known as time. Paint comes in many colors, and can create many designs. Some are beautiful, enhance the surrounding landscape, and work synergistically with other designs, creating a diverse, but single hearted masterpiece. Other paints give ugly imprints, ones that impose themselves unapologetically, have no concern for the holistic creative vision, and serve as an unwelcome blemish. For those who believe in the holy and natural, we know the righteous paints will never tarnish, while the awful ones will water down and fade in their own impurities. 
    So what’s the 21st century portrait looking like? If time is an ever increasing size canvas, yet more paint has been plastered era after era at a much higher proportion, is there anything left for us to put? Anything we can add, or are we simply overwhelmed handling what’s already been dried on? I think the latter is the case. This is our destiny and burden. Our mission will not be to make history, but rather detoxify and realign what’s been accumulated - the human, economic, social, political, environmental, ideological…and all the rest. To redirect towards a proper moral direction. To clean up the mess of our dead ancestors. To not give birth, but to raise what’s been born. 
    We are being helped by science and technology, growing at a faster pace than ever before. We are helped by a huge explosion in the information sector, ease of travel and communication, and a range of logistical conveniences. We can interpret these things as proof of human accomplishment, but more importantly I would humbly call it a gift from above - to help aid us with our mission, as if our creator knows what we need. Divine guidance and support!
    All of us were chosen and raised in a certain time period for a reason, only known to our creator. We shouldn’t let ourselves get wrapped up in self-importance or arrogance about this. Are we “better” or just “different” than those in other times? I don’t think we have the time to worry about such a question. 
    References to war are rife throughout history, and that’s the case here. Specifically, the concept of “total war”, where every resource down to the minute is involved in the effort. In today’s case, every capital resource - the community, personal, psychological, technological - are essential for our mission, and no individual is beyond the scope of relevance and suitability. We have no choice but to go “all in”, and nothing can be held back, if we want any chance of success of a dignified outcome. 
    So this affects me of course, because it instantly puts me on notice. What can I clean up? What micro changes can I contribute, throw in the pot, to help with the macro efforts? The degree of inward digging should hopefully correlate to outward action. I am proud of living in this era, because it gives me an incentive for spiritual and personal re-examination. 
    What do you guys think?
     
  17. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Minimalism   
    Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
    http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
    So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
    As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
    http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
    ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
  18. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, When you're an Introvert   
    Let's spread some light on how life is when you're an introvert. Now, I've seen many people claiming to be introverts when they read about us but just because you can relate to a few of the things doesn't make you one of us, you loser! Everyone's a bit introverted and a bit extroverted. If you're more introverted, you're an introvert and the same for an extrovert. If you're somewhere in between, you're an ambivert and that's no fun at all. Seriously, you're no fun.
    For starters, introverts are pretty selective about who they talk to mostly. For the ones we do care about, we talk a lot, we're chatterboxes! But we're more on the listening side. When with someone new, we listen, we smile, we don't know what would be the right thing to say... Yups! But even after being with friends, it becomes exhausting. Extroverts are like leeches, always ready to feed on energy when it comes to socializing. Poor introverts only give energy when we socialize which makes it really exhausting after some time. So, we want to be left alone for some time so we can recharge. So, keep away!

    See that bubble up there, extroverts? Try not to burst it, you monsters! We feel really safe inside of it. Yeah, you can't see it but you can get an idea of what you're being really annoying. Trust me! We're amazing once we let you in that bubble but try to keep it slow and let us learn if you're our type or not. We're sensitive, you know... Nah! We're not. At least all introverts aren't. We can be heartless too. *wink*

    Calls... Oh! Please don't call... We can chat through Whatsapp or how about SMS?  If you're an introvert, you'll get it.
    Although we don't like to socialize much but getting ignored isn't that great either. We're pretty happy by ourselves too. Unlike extroverts, it's not that easy for an introvert to get bored. Especially when you have shiachat to waste time on... Or reading too. Yes, we do that too.
    Like I said before, we're great listeners but an introvert with a great imagination will get lost in his own fantasy world the moment you start to get boring. Don't believe me? The next time you've been talking to an introvert for too long, when you finish, you'll see him/her smile only. You know why? Cuz s/he has no idea what you said. So, s/he just smiled. I do that a lot too. Extroverts do that too... So rude of them!
    Well, I think that's all for now. I can't really come up with anything else for now. Update complete! Time for gaming!
    Introvert, signing out!
  19. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Asymmetry of sin   
    There is a growth industry dealing with the shortcomings of Islam and the problematic behaviour of Muslims.
    This also manifests itself on discussion forums populated by Muslims where participants can most easily discuss the supposed weaknesses of Islamic teaching and the shortcomings of individuals' practices. Thus, there are numerous discussions about, for example, the problems associated with polygamy. Something which Islam allows, but which is otherwise frowned upon by non-Muslims.
    But what Muslims cannot do in discussions is refer (in any manner of detail) to the weaknesses in alternative lifestyles in case they open up the eyes of believers to what is sinfully possible.
    Instead what Muslims have for comparison to their own lifestyles are the presentations by their critics of idealised and sanitised versions of, non-Islamic contemporary lifestyles. 
  20. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Jesus' Wool Garment   
    A Muslim account of Jesus Christ's ascension from Tafsir al-`Ayashi:
    Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (a) said, "Jesus the son of Mary ascended whilst wearing a rabbinical garment made of wool spun from the yarn of Mary, the weaving of Mary, and the sewing of Mary. When he came to the heaven, it was called, 'O Jesus! Remove the frills of this world from yourself.'" (رفع عيسى بن مريم عليه بمدرعة (4) صوف من غزل مريم، ومن نسج مريم ومن خياطة مريم فلما انتهى إلى السماء نودى يا عيسى ألق عنك زينة الدنيا.)
    This reference is actually very interesting. This expression, "rabbinical garment", has a very specific connotation in Jewish mysticism. There is a concrete term in Kabbalah, חלוקא דרבנן, precisely "rabbinical garment", which refers to the ethereal body of saints, somewhat similar to the body of people we see in the dream, visible and tangible yet not material in our crude sense. It is linked to Shechinah. Removing the garment may indicate ascension to higher levels beyond. When angels appeared in human form to Abraham, there were also wearing some type of "rabbinical garment". It works as a bridge between physical and spiritual.
    Of course, Jesus in Muslim hadith literature is linked to themes of asceticism, and in this narration, Jesus is being asked to shed his attachment to this sentimental article of clothing before gaining proximity to God. Removing this rabbinical garment may be a symbol for Jesus' exit from the imaginal realm (which is between the fully material and the fully immaterial) and entry into the divine presence.

  21. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, The problem with moderation   
    Moderation is one of those ideas which sounds wonderful and like concepts such as equality and freedom often it is. But as with these other concepts it can have its drawbacks. One obvious limitation with moderation is that people may assume that it's possible to exercise moderation when this is actually very difficult to do and as such the very act of consumption may lead to excess. The people who make these promises know this. The promise is only a lure to catch the unwary. Once caught a certain proportion of the trapped will consume to excess and they will be the most loyal customers. Indeed, they will have reached a level of purchase where the promises of being able to moderate consumption no longer matter. 
    Activities that are considered acceptable remain such as long as they are indulged in moderation. However, it is generally agreed that there is no moderate level of consumption of heroin. But proponents of gambling believe that there is an acceptable and moderate level of gambling at the level of the individual and they reassure governments that they can help to ensure that individuals do not stray from this. What constitutes a moderate level is not known.
    Similarly with alcohol, it is argued that there is a moderate and achievable level of consumption. Firms that sell alcohol advise customers in their adverising to 'drink responsibly'. What sounds like an empowering message, one which gives the drinker the false belief that they can choose when to start and stop drinking, is one that is being made by people whose responsibility it is to ensure that sales rise.
    With both alcohol and gambling the very act of consumption diminishes the individual's assessment of what moderation is. And this is a central fallacy with the notion of moderation - that people can work out what a moderate level is and then adhere to it. As with other aspects of modern consumption it seems to offer individuals a false level of control - which they may not really have.
    Moderation is also often cited by the food industry as being the answer to the marketing of certain foods and drinks, usually those which contain excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fat (either individually or in combination with each other). Such foods are said to be acceptable as 'part of a balanced diet'. But just as with the other products mentioned above, the marketers' own activities are designed to encourage greater and more regular consumption than would otherwise be the case. One of the easiest ways to grow sales is to sell the offering in larger servings with the promise of a discount.
    The promise of moderation, once again, becomes part of the seller's toolkit to seduce the consumer in the knowledge that only some people will have the will power to actually achieve this.
    https://wordpress.com/stats/week/contemporaniablog.wordpress.com
  22. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Yoel for a blog entry, Talmud and Zionism   
    Reposting my old post and summarizing some comments to it.
    Quite a few Christians, especially Protestants, claim the following combination of beliefs that I find highly disturbing:
    1) That “pharisaic” Judaism and its central text, Talmud, are “satanic”
    2) That Islam is similar to Talmudic Judaism and therefore, by extension, is also “satanic”
    3) That the entire world must support the state of “Israel” and that Palestinians are bad, because they don't support it.
     
    Since I studied in traditional anti-Zionist rabbinical institutions, I am well familiar with this topic and I would like to say a few words about it.
    Interestingly enough, these beliefs represent in a distilled form the original core idea of Zionism and demonstrate its origins very well. In colonial times, various British and American Protestant theologians of the early 19th century started spreading the idea of the “restoration of the Jews”. Based on their peculiar interpretation of the Christian Bible, they came to believe that if the Jews will gather in Palestine and establish there their own state, such event would trigger the Second Coming of Christ. Apparently, this idea originated from the Catholic Jesuit circles, but found a solid ground among the Anglo-Saxon Protestants, some of whom came to believe to another weird idea that they are the descendents of the original Hebrew tribes and therefore have the right to control Palestine. This website has a large collection of historical articles about these developments within Protestant groups.
    Contrary to Judaism, these people viewed Jews as a race and not a religion. The colonial West in the 18th and 19th centuries was in general obsessed with racial and nationalist theories. The Church condemned the Jewish Talmud since the Middle Ages, primarily because it sharply criticizes the Christian Trinity doctrine and because is written is a style that most Christian couldn't comprehend. After the series of liberal revolutions, more and more assimilated Jews became emancipated in the Western society, but due to the spread of nationalism, new anti-Jewish currents emerged in the West. In contrast to traditional anti-Judaism of the Church, these new currents were based on racial mythologies.
    Some assimilated Jews picked up the “brilliant” solution that early Christian Zionists offered for them: to establish their own state, based on the “enlightened” Western values of secular nationalism and colonial attitudes to non-Western people. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, wanted originally to convert all Jews to Christianity, but later modified his views and supported “plain” secularization. Here comes a major paradox: those British and American Christians who supported this idea really wanted the Jews (and everyone in the world) to become Christians, but wished them to move to Palestine, where they could serve as allies of the colonial West. They didn't want anything “Talmudic”; they just wanted to create another “civilized” Western colonial state like South Africa.
    Traditional Talmudic Jews, on their hand, were totally opposed to Zionism, because the Talmud explicitly forbids this idea of gathering in Palestine and establishing their own state. This idea contradicts the basic Jewish belief that only the true Redeemer sent from God can gather them in a miraculous way and even that is not universally accepted. According to some more esoteric Jewish teachings, the future messianic Redemption of universal harmony will transcend state politics altogether.
    This is the real Zionist “conspiracy”: the entire Zionist movement started as a result of cooperation between Anglo-Saxon Protestants and anti-traditional assimilated Jewish nationalists. The Talmud as such plays no role in classical Zionism, except that some isolated concepts from it were adopted as secularized slogans, often in a completely twisted fashion. 90% of Jewish Zionists, let alone the Christian ones, are unable to read the Talmud at all. At best, they may consider it an important historical piece of Jewish literature. Typical high-rank supporters of the Zionist state like bankers and politicians are usually totally secular and have no serious Jewish education. As long as they thinks and acts like their right-wing Protestant Christian fellow ruthless businessmen, they are “cool”. If they would act "Talmudic", they wouldn't fit into the club.
    Since the Zionists captured and twisted the minds of many Jews, new heretical varieties of Judaism emerged from this confusion. Such notorious fascists as Baruch Goldstein or Meir Kahane undoubtedly considered themselves followers of the Talmud. We hear now chief rabbis and famous religious figures supporting Zionism and spreading hatred against the Palestinians and Muslims. How did this happen? Simple enough and in some ways quite similar to Wahhabi currents in Islam.
    The Talmudic corpus and related literature is a very large and complicated collection of texts, which may be compared to the Muslim Hadith collections. The Quran (5:32) contains an explicit quote from the Talmud and affirms the basic traditional Jewish belief that the Talmud contains supplemental parts of Moses' prophecy, which has been transmitted through oral narration. The above verse is found only in the Talmudic literature and not anywhere in the Bible. A number of other verses in Quran also have parallels in the Talmud and not found in the Scripture.
    Besides orally transmitted information from the prophets, the Talmud contains many legal decisions that the Talmudic sages derived using certain logical rules, which were also transmitted from Moses. It also contains historical rabbinical decrees, esoteric interpretations of the Scripture, theological and ethical discussions, various folk legends and even ancient medicinal remedies. Those Christians who tried to study the Talmud and came to hate it didn't get what it is all about. The Talmudic literature is a extremely large and diverse collection of discussions about all sorts of things, recorded during many centuries mostly in Persia and written in a very Persian multilayer story-inside-story style. The largest and most reliable collection is called “Bavli”, which means the Babylonian or Iranian Talmud. It's written mostly in Sassanian dialects of Aramaic, not in Hebrew.
    Practical law or advices comprise only a fraction of the Talmud and are a matter of debates and analysis. Many narrations and interpretations are rejected by the Talmudic text itself, but were still considered worth recording or allowing an esoteric interpretation. In some cases, parallel narrations allow to decide, which variant is more reliable in practice. A number of schools within Judaism, somewhat like Islamic madhhabs, derive various laws from the Talmud by somewhat different rules. One school considers a certain narrator or some text more practically reliable than another etc.
    No one in traditional Judaism, since the Middle Ages, derives any law directly from the Talmud without consulting first classic commentators and existing practical legal literature. Proper understanding of the Talmud requires years of systematic study and reading lots of commentaries.
    Maybe, this link to another Shiachat thread could help the readers to understand where most of these old Christian accusations come from. Anti-Muslim writers use the Ahadith in the same exact fashion, taking things out of context or by amplifying weak rejected narrations.
    Many Talmudic discussions are related to similar theoretical issues. Capital punishment was abolished in Judaism about 2000 years ago, because no one is considered righteous enough to serve as a judge or witness for such serious cases. Even when capital punishment existed, it was very rarely practiced by the line of tradition that became what's known today as rabbinical Judaism. Only very directly committed offenses, with at least two righteous male witnesses and a proper warning, could lead to death penalty. In many cases, the Talmud discusses, whether some weird and disgusting actions could be punished, in theory, by a human court, or whether one who did them may perform certain religious rituals. Such discussions also help to understand the metaphysical, philosophical and esoteric underpinnings of various laws.
    One classic example that Christians constantly use against the Talmud is that a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from death penalty. First of all, some commentators explain that it only applies to people who worship idols and have no morality, and not to Christians and Muslims. Murder of a Jew or non-Jew is a terrible sin, whether punishable by human means or not. Second, the Talmud lists many other situations when a murderer is exempt from penalty. The general line in the Talmud is to find all possible ways and arguments to avoid death penalty. A court who would kill even one person in 70 years would be considered a “bloody court” and some sages provided a logic that, in Islamic terms, avoids “hudud” altogether.
    Another classic example Christians use against the Talmud that it allegedly teaches that sex with a girl below 3 years is permitted. Absolutely not! What it says that if such undoubtedly disgusting act happened, the girl would still be considered a virgin and her honor would not be blemished.
    The main and most famous complaint against the Talmud is its alleged teachings of Jewish supremacy. The Talmud never considers non-Jews “subhuman”. That's simply a fabrication. But it does contain pretty harsh statements about idol worshipers and teachings about the Jews' being a people who receive special and unique blessings from God, if they carefully follow Judaism.
    One main source of controversy and potential misunderstanding is that the Talmudic texts sometimes conflate the terms "goy" (non-Jew) and "akum" (abbreviation of "Star worshippers"), because most non-Jews, when the Talmud was written, were "by default" idol worshippers of various kinds. Careful analysis of parallel narrations shows that all this negative stuff is about idolaters. The Talmud praises non-Jewish monotheists, including some Persian kings and other people.

    Another example. Current standard editions of the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) contain the following: Therefore, humans were created singly, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had destroyed a full world; and whoever saves one soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if she had saved a full world. The oldest version of this Talmudic quote correspond exactly to the Quran 5:32 and don't mention Jews in particular. The Yerushalmi Talmud, the Midrashim and several other parallel transmissions of this quote also don't mention the word "Israel". Even in the case of the common Babylonian Talmud editions, this quote makes a difference between Jews and immoral non-believers, but does not, exclude non-Jews who practice an ethical monotheistic religion, as it is easy to prove by the internal logic of the same Talmudic tract, which praises non-Jewish monotheists and equated them with the Jewish High Priest who served at the Jerusalem Temple (Sanhedrin 59a). In Islamic terms, this is an example of a "weak Hadith".
    The basic practical Talmudic structure of categories of believers/unbelievers, as their are interpreted in Judaism, goes as follows:
    Good people:

    Torah-observant Jews, who receive special blessings for following Moses' prophecy. A convert to Judaism is a Jew. According to traditional Judaism, it doesn't matter, whether Jews today are descendents of the ancient Hebrews or Khazars or Romans.
    Righteous non-Jews, who follow the prophecy of Noah and receive special blessings. Muslims are usually included in this category or in a somewhat different respected category of people. Trinitarian Christians are included by many opinions, but it's a matter of debate. Some schools of thought completely equate Muslims and Christians with the Jews on social and spiritual level. More liberal rabbinical authorities include all ethical people into this category, including polytheists and atheists, using basic ethics as the main criterion of righteousness. I personally agree with this opinion. It's a duty for Jews to support, love, help, treat well, respect all good people.
    Bad people:

    Classic idolaters of Antiquity. In times of peace, Jews must treat them well and with hospitality, deal with them fairly, help their poor, but the basic attitude is to stay away from them, not to get too friendly and not to help them too much.
    Ex-Jewish outright heretics and non-believers. The worst category in the Talmud. No love, no good treatment here. According to some hardcore opinions, they may be killed even without a court decree. To secular Jewish readers: No, neither me nor most Orthodox Jews today accept this attitude. People get confused and come up with all sorts of ideas. Some atheist definitions of nature or philosophical ground of being are more theologically sound than some other people's weird ideas about God, who may better decide, who is a heretic and who is not. The “gray zone”:

    Many classic sources of rabbinical law say that the Talmud condemns only the seven ancient Canaanite tribes who practiced human sacrifices or other ancient nations like the Romans who would come to a circus to entertain themselves watching animals tearing people apart or forcing slaves to fight each other to death. So, even someone would erect today a statue, proclaim it as a deity and bow to it, there is still room to disregard this behavior, love and respect such a person. Or, esoterically, one may say that everything is a reflection of God's names and this person in his heart really worships God. On the other hand, because the status of Trinitarian Christianity is a matter a debate in Judaism and because the Church systematically persecuted, killed, tortured and humiliated the Jews until recent times, there are many Orthodox Jews who avoid having close friendship with Christians and have negative opinions of their religion. For Christian readers: No, I don't agree with this attitude and many Orthodox Jews don't. But there is enough room for opposite opinions here. More inclusively minded Orthodox Jews tend to value ethical behavior over religious beliefs, while more hardcore Orthodox tend to regard people as heretics and idolaters for any slight deviation. In any case, traditional Judaism requires to treat everyone nicely and fairly. Traditionally, Islam was always considered the closest religion to Judaism. Christianity, on the other hand, was often viewed negatively, although there are many highly positive opinions on it, i.e. by Menachem Meiri, Jacob Emden and Elia Benamozegh. Very many classic commentaries to the Torah and Talmud were written in Muslim countries, often originally in Arabic. Most classical schools of rabbinical law were established in Muslim countries.
    The Zionists turned the Jewish history upside down. They discarded the long history of Jewish-Islamic cultural synthesis and invented the myth of “Judeo-Christian” civilization. Classical Judaism with its Talmud, which explicitly forbids the Jews to create a state in Palestine and which was written in a “politically incorrect” region (Iraq and Iran), has no place in classical secular Zionism.
    But here comes a surprising twist. After the Nazi genocide of millions of European Jews, the Zionist movement captured the attention of most Jews who were well familiar with the long history of traditional Christian anti-Jewish hatred. But the Zionist's best allies and the originators of their ideology were some Protestant sects who don't exactly like Judaism. So the Zionists projected the history of Christian anti-Jewish persecution on the Muslims. To be fair, persecutions did happen under various Muslim rulers, but they were not nearly as common as in the Christian world and they were actions of certain corrupt individuals and not an integral doctrine of religion. The Jews perfectly understood that, but the Zionists seized the moment after the Nazi genocide and managed to confuse many people. Another factor that helped this confusion was that the governments in some Muslim countries made the conditions of the local Jewish communities unbearable after the Zionist state was established and forced them to leave the Arab countries. This was a very bad move, which only popularized Zionism and helped to created this new myth of anti-Jewish Muslim hatred. The final factor is the Salafi/Wahhabi type of Muslims who basically copied the old Christian hatred against the Jews. So, two very anti-traditional and somewhat similar movements, both strangely connected to Anglo-Saxon Protestantism in their ideology - Wahhabism and Zionist pseudo-religion - started fighting each other and polluting the world with their ideas.
    As a result of all that, new forms of “religious” Zionists emerged. All negativity against the idolaters and oppressive types of Christians that one can find throughout the history of Judaism was redirected in a highly amplified and concentrated form to the Muslims. The fact that this negativity has to do with theology (idols and Trinity) was ignored. On the contrary, Muslims became somehow equated in this Zionist twisted version of Judaism with the worst kind of idolaters, who should be normally still treated nicely and without trying to dominate them. But here is a catch: one may kill “even the best of idolaters”, according to the Talmud, during a military combat. The “religious” Zionists declared that their state is in constant war with the Muslims who want to kill all Jews. Such twisted logic basically gives a license to kill. The same exact logic is used by Wahhabis who removed the concept of “Ahl Al-Kitab” from their version of Islam and consider everyone at permanent war with Muslims.
    There is a good book written by Yakov Rabkin, A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, which explains how traditional Judaism and Zionism are totally incompatible. The author is an Orthodox Jew and a history professor. I strongly don't recommend books written by anti-religious authors (Israel Shahak) or fanatical right-wing Christians (David Duke, Israel Shamir), because such authors usually have no serious knowledge of Judaism and often promote hatred against both Jews and Muslims under a mask of “anti-Zionism”.
    I hope this rough introduction is clear enough. If people here will find these topics interesting, we could go into more detailed discussions. There also also esoteric trends in Judaism, kind of similar to Bektashis or Alawites, who tend to emphasize things like personal devotion and non-literal interpretations over fixed rules.
    My main interest on this forum is not battling Zionism. I am trying to apply Henry Corbin's methodology to Jewish philosophy and esoterica, and I find studies of Hadith and Irfan in comparison to Talmud and Kabbalah very refreshing and important.
  23. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Friends of the Mahdi   
    A man said to Imam as-Sadiq [a], "May I be your sacrifice! By Allah, I love you and love whoever loves you. O my master; how numerous your Shi`a are!"

    The Imam replied, “Would you please mention them?”

    The man said, “They are too many.”

    The Imam replied, “Could you count them?”

    The man said, “They are too many to count.”

    Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, “If the number [of true Shi`a] reaches a little more than three hundred, then what you desire (i.e. divine government) will happen. Our Shi`a are those whose voices do not pass beyond their ears, nor does their zeal go beyond their body, nor do they praise us openly, nor do they quarrel with anyone because of us, nor do they sit with anyone who criticizes us, nor do they talk to anyone who abuses us, nor do they love anyone who hates us, nor do they hate anyone who loves us."

    The man said, “Then how do we deal with these different groups, who pretend that they are Shi`a?”

    The Imam replied, “They will be tried, purified and distinguished. Years come that will perish them, a sword that will kill them and disagreement that will scatter them. Our real Shia are those, who do not growl like a dog, do not covet like a crow, and do not ask people for alms even if they die of hunger.”

    The man asked, “May I be your sacrifice! Where can I find such a kind of people?”

    The Imam replied, “You can find them in the far sides of the world. They are those, whose lives are so simple, whose abodes move from place to another, who, if they are seen they, will not be known, if they are absent, they will not be missed, if they become ill, they will not be visited, if they propose to a woman, they will not be married, and if they die, their funerals will not be attended. It is they, who divide their wealth among them, who visit each others' graves, and who never disagree even if their countries are different.” 
    حدثنا أبو سليمان أحمد بن هوذة الباهلي، قال: حدثنا أبو إسحاق إبراهيم بن إسحاق النهاوندي سنة ثلاث وسبعين ومائتين ((5))، قال: حدثنا عبد الله بن حماد الأنصاري سنة تسع وعشرين ومائتين، عن رجل، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام) أنه دخل عليه بعض أصحابه، فقال له:
    " جعلت فداك، إني والله أحبك وأحب من يحبك، يا سيدي ما أكثر شيعتكم.
    فقال له: أذكرهم.
    فقال: كثير.
    فقال: تحصيهم؟
    فقال: هم أكثر من ذلك.
    فقال أبو عبد الله (عليه السلام): أما لو كملت العدة الموصوفة ثلاثمائة وبضعة عشر كان الذي تريدون، ولكن شيعتنا من لا يعدو صوته سمعه، ولا شحناؤه بدنه، ولا يمدح بنا معلنا، ولا يخاصم بنا قاليا ((1))، ولا يجالس لنا عائبا، ولا يحدث لنا ثالبا، ولا يحب لنا مبغضا، ولا يبغض لنا محبا.
    فقلت: فكيف أصنع بهذه الشيعة المختلفة الذين يقولون إنهم يتشيعون؟
    فقال: فيهم التمييز، وفيهم التمحيص، وفيهم التبديل، يأتي عليهم سنون تفنيهم، وسيف يقتلهم، واختلاف يبددهم.
    إنما شيعتنا من لا يهر هرير الكلب، ولا يطمع طمع الغراب، ولا يسأل الناس بكفه وإن مات جوعا.
    قلت: جعلت فداك، فأين أطلب هؤلاء الموصوفين بهذه الصفة؟
    فقال: اطلبهم في أطراف الأرض أولئك الخفيض عيشهم، المنتقلة دارهم، الذين إن شهدوا لم يعرفوا، وإن غابوا لم يفتقدوا، وإن مرضوا لم يعادوا، وإن خطبوا لم يزوجوا، وإن ماتوا لم يشهدوا، أولئك الذين في أموالهم يتواسون، وفي قبورهم يتزاورون، ولا تختلف أهواؤهم وإن اختلفت بهم البلدان "
     
    There is a reason why Shaykh an-Nu`mani put this hadith near the beginning of his Kitab al-Ghayba. The narration is rich in eschatological content. At the beginning, a distinction is made between those who simply love Ahl al-Bayt (most of us), and the true Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt. Lovers may be loyal students and devotees, but their faith is not at the level of full yaqeen. The Imam then says that if 300+ of such people were to come up, then this affair (the rise of the Mahdi) would occur. There are similar narrations to this, where Imam as-Sadiq says that if he even had 17 true Shi`a, or 6, he would go out and seek the Caliphate. The true Shi`a are not simply those who pray and fast, but rather they have a special relationship with the Imam. So special, that he is their rolemodel, and they begin to take on his characteristics.
    So the Imam describes these people: they are in taqiyya, they avoid those who hate the Imams, they will survive all the fitnas and fires of the End times which will only refine their faith, they are rejected and despised by society, they live simply, and they support one and love one another even if their ethnic backgrounds are different. Sound familiar? This is how the Imams were, especially the Qa'im, as well as their truest Shi`a: they hid the divine secrets from the ignorant persecutors, they were the masters of tawalla and tabarra', they held their faith close during the tests, and it often cost them their lives. But they didn't care about the tribe, nationality, or race of their true friends. These are some of the highest spiritual prescriptions in Islam, and they are the keys to making the five pillars great. The Prophet said that each of these people would have the reward of 50 companions due to the patience they must endure (سيأتي قوم من بعدكم الرجل الواحد منهم له أجر خمسين منكم.). He described the believer at the End Times to be like a man holding two burning pieces of coal ( يأتي على الناس زمان الصابر منهم على دينه كالقابض على الجمر ). Imam ar-Rida compared them to gold, who are refined in the furnace of affliction (يفتنون كما يفتن الذهب، ثم قال: يخلصون كما يخلص الذهب.) also see Isaiah 48:10.
    The true Shi`a of Husayn (as), whom we honour and bless alongside Husayn, were not those who remained in the Hijaz to do Hajj, or those in Kufa who were keeping up their prayers. They were those who lived his life and died his death. Likewise, this narration from Kitab al-Ghayba is about the true believers who will live the life of the Hidden Imam. They are patiently waiting, dissimulating, their hearts hurt for the sin around them, they are hunted, and unrecognized. They themselves are hidden in a way, because they are avoiding the fitna, and their righteousness garners the marginalization of the people at large. Even someone as prominent as Sayyid Sistani lives a simple, distant, devoted life, and despite his prominence, will never be "popular" in the way celebrities are. Likewise, the best people you've met are probably those who do not advertise their humility and their deeds, and actually do their best to conceal it. However, these people are not alone. They are the supporters of one another, they visit one another, they marry one another, they know and recognize one another. These people share an intimate relationship with their Imam, one that will always be far beyond that of an ordinary worshiper and lover.
     
    Imam `Ali [a] said, "You will be fraught with a dark, gloomy, blinding schism – none will be delivered from it except the numa."
    He was then asked, "O Abu’l Hasan, and what is the numa?"
    The Imam replied, "The one whose self is not recognizable to the people."
    عنه، عن أبي حاتم (3)، عن محمد بن يزيد الآدمي (4) - بغدادي عابد - قال: حدثنا يحيى بن سليم الطائفي (5)، عن متيل بن عباد (6) قال: سمعت أبا الطفيل يقول: سمعت علي بن أبي طالب عليه السلام يقول: أظلتكم فتنة (مظلمة) (7) عمياء منكشفة (8) لا ينجو منها إلا النومة. قيل: يا أبا الحسن وما النومة ؟. قال: الذي لا يعرف الناس ما في نفسه (9).

  24. Like
    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Light Behind the Cloud   
    The Light behind the Cloud
    Qa'im Muhammad
     
    “He will be walking in their market and treading between them until Allah permits him.”
    Succession in the institution of Imamate was a contentious matter during the formative period of Imami Shiism. The doctrine of Imamate “evolved gradually” during the first century AH, and was given a “definitive shape” by the death of Ja`far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (c. 148 AH).[1] While Madelung attributes this shape to Hisham b. al-Hakam,[2] a Kufan champion of Imami theology and companion of Ja`far as-Sadiq, a pantheon of Shiite personalities influenced and codified the development of this institution. An examination into Twelver Imamate would be incomplete without an inquiry into its culmination: the occultation. The disappearance of the last Imam, or the Mahdi, is a belief that was upheld by many sects during the infancy and formative period, including the Kaysaniyya, the Nawusiyya, the Fat`hiyya, the Mubarakiyya, the Waqifa, and the Twelvers. The doctrine of occultation grew in sophistication between the first and third Islamic centuries through the sayings and writings of different personalities, schools, and sects. This article will explore the historical development the concept of occultation, its influences, and its implications in classical Shiism.
                    Disagreements over who would inherit the Imamate would demonstrate a popular uncertainty in the expected number of Imams. In the lifetime of Ja`far as-Sadiq, it became clear to the growing Imami community that a rightful Imam would need to be explicitly designated (nass) by his paternal predecessor, and that he would have the right to the Caliphate and the leadership of the Muslim world.[3] Although Ja`far as-Sadiq was certainly not the originator of the concept of Imamate, his chiefly place amongst Medinan scholars and his relative freedom vis-à-vis other Imams allowed him to elaborate on the subject to his principal Kufan students. He taught that the Imam was not only a contestant to political authority, but also as a legal and spiritual guide of Muslims everywhere.[4] The death of Ja`far as-Sadiq would mark a major split in the Shiite community over his succession. The triumph of the Abbasid revolution made it difficult for Ja`far as-Sadiq to articulate his designation; and upon his death, the Shiites flocked to several descendants of his, including `Abdullah al-Aftah, Muhammad b. Isma`il, Musa al-Kadhim, and even the deceased Isma`il b. Ja`far. Soon afterwards, the Fat`hiyya would mostly join Musa al-Kadhim, either as Imamis, or as ardent upholders in the Imamate of `Abdullah al-Aftah. One group, the Nawusiyya, held that Ja`far was the living Mahdi in occultation. Later, after the death of Musa al-Kadhim, a faction led by `Ali b. Abi Hamza claimed that Musa was indeed the living Mahdi in occultation.
                    This crisis poses a dilemma: the final number of Imams and the sequence of who would take office was perhaps unknown to major students of Ja`far as-Sadiq and the Shiite populace in general. Still, the split demonstrates that a number of important doctrines were upheld by all of the groups, including:
    The rule that there would be one immaculate (ma`sum) Imam at all times, chosen by the preceding Imam. For all of the mentioned sects, this would either be a hidden Imam or an apparent one. The culmination of the Imamate with the Mahdi, a messianic figure who would fill the world with justice and peace as it would be fraught with injustice and tyranny. The expectation that the Mahdi would enter into an occultation sometime during his life, usually due to an imminent danger. While the Sunnis did not share these three ideas, they became central to Imami theology. Zaydis generally do not necessitate one Imam at all times, but they have certainly flirted with messianism.[5] The historical Zaydis carried a more nascent view of Imamate: an Imam was simply a pious leader from the Prophet’s tribe who rises with a sword to fight against the tyrannical forces. In Zaydi theology, the world can be devoid of an Imam, and there can even be multiple Imams at a given time – including lesser Imams, who are more scholastic and less revolutionary. This is reflective of the “conciliatory” role that the Zaydis took in the 2nd century AH, merging various Islamic trends, from the traditionalists of Medina and Kufa to the Mu`tazilite theologians and logicians.[6] Still, there was a great deal of nuance among Zaydi sects and personalities in their respective views on Imamate. The Husayniyya, a messianic Zaydi religious movement in Yemen, claimed that its leader was the expected Mahdi. After his death, the sect upheld that he was actually the hidden Saviour, who would soon bring justice to the Earth.[7] Abu’l Jarud (d. c. 140-150 AH), the founder of the Jarudiyya, was a prominent student Muhammad al-Baqir and a narrator of his ahadith. While some Zaydis were notably hostile towards the Twelver Imams, Abu’l Jarud relied heavily on Muhammad al-Baqir, and he transmits traditions from Abu ‘t-Tufayl `Amer b. Wathila (d. ~100 AH), the Kaysani strongman and sahabi.[8] In the Twelver hadith corpus, Abu’l Jarud even narrates traditions on the twelve Imams and the occultation of the Mahdi. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa`eed b. `Uqda, an esteemed Zaydi jurist in third century Baghdad, also related explicit traditions on these subjects to Nu`mani. Abu Sa`eed `Abbad al-`Asfari (d. 250 AH), a Jarudi scholar in Kufa, likewise recorded traditions on there being twelve Imams over ten years before the death of Hasan al-`Askari (260 AH). What we can extract from these four examples is that some Zaydis certainly remained loyal to Imami authorities and perhaps embraced some of their ideas on the institution of Imamate, all while the Batriyya remained suspicious of the more esoteric side of Shiism.
    Perhaps the most esoteric concept in Twelver Imamology is the occultation (ghayba). The Twelver account is that prior to Hasan al-`Askari’s death, he had secretly sired a son in either 255 or 256 AH[9] with an African bondwoman or with Narjis, the granddaughter of Bardas, the Byzantine Caesar. Although the early Twelver chroniclers recount several eyewitness reports to the child’s birth and early life, the child was concealed from the populous. The twelfth Imam’s existence was so discrete that it allowed several non-Twelver sects to arise after Hasan al-`Askari’s death amidst the perplexity caused by the apparent vacuum. At least eleven fragments made opposing claims; from upholding the Imamate of Ja`far al-Kadhab, to claiming that Hasan al-`Askari’s deceased brother Muhammad b. `Ali was the occulted Mahdi, to the belief that Hasan al-`Askari was still the living Imam, to the complete cessation of Imamate.[10] Twelver authorities found themselves trying to prove the twelfth Imam’s existence and his Qa’imiyya whilst negating the claims of imposters and deviant sects. This transition from Imamiyya to Twelverism proved difficult for chroniclers, who needed to codify a doctrine in harmony with the oral and written Shiite tradition.
    A primary source of direction in the Twelver community was the ambassadorship of the four representatives of the twelfth Imam: `Uthman al-`Amri, Muhammad b. `Uthman, Husayn b. Ruh an-Nawbakhti, and `Ali b. Muhammad as-Simuri. These ambassadors (sufara’) would oversee the headquarters (nahiya), a hierarchy of scholars and tax-collectors loyal to the later Qat`i Imams[11], and occasionally sent out letters and orders issued by the Imam. `Uthman al-`Amri was a loyal associate of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Imams, and received the explicit praise of the latter two according to two traditions in Kulayni’s collection through Ahmad b. Is`haq. His son, Muhammad b. `Uthman, would inherit the seat after his death. After Muhammad b. `Uthman died, his daughter Umm Kulthum helped secure the succession of Ibn Ruh an-Nawbakhti,[12] a charismatic theologian from the prominent family of scholars. This safir would prove to be influential even independently of the Imam, as he was asked a series of historical questions by his constituents. Several accounts survive in which Ibn Ruh discusses the virtues of Fatima, the martyrdom of Husayn, the role of prophets, the controversial death of Musa al-Kadhim, and various other issues. He would also address the chiliasts and the extremists (ghulat), and debate false claimants to the Imam’s representation – most notably, Shalmaghani. Moreover, the Hidden Imam communicated most with his adherents during Ibn Ruh’s supervision. The Imam’s epistles, which focused mostly on matters related to Islamic jurisprudence and khums taxes, became an affirmation of his existence, his Imamate, and his competence, as they were collected and brandished in the works of Kulayni, Saduq, and others. The epistles even demonstrated the miraculous knowledge of the twelfth Imam, who, on many occasions, seemed to have access to very specific information about his clients, their belongings, their future, and their enemies. This would further reinforce the idea that the Imam, in his station, had the supernatural ability to access the knowledge of the occult.
    The minor occultation was important to the triumph of Twelver Shiism over competing factions. The Twelvers would win over most of the early dissidents during the minor occultation, and, according to one account, eventually take in a repented Ja`far al-Kadhab.[13] Ja`far’s denial of the existence of his nephew, the twelfth Imam, would attract the followers of Faris b. Hatim, a renegade proselytizer and tax collector who broke away from `Ali al-Hadi’s influence during his Imamate.[14] Ja`far’s denial of his brother’s offspring was challenged by Hasan al-`Askari’s own mother, who opposed Faris’ group and Ja`far.[15] Eventually, according to an epistle of the Hidden Imam preserved by Saduq, Ja`far, in effect, became a Twelver and recognized his Imam. Although this claim cannot be independently verified, Saduq would have presented this information shortly after the events we have described, and no alternative account exists.
     Sa`d b. `Abdullah, a Twelver scholar and heresiographer of that period, also recorded the dissent of Muhammad b. Nusayr, the founder of the historical Alawite sect. Ibn Nusayr was a companion of `Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-`Askari who then claimed to be the rightful gateway to the twelfth Imam. His main confidant was Ahmad b. Hilal, described by Saduq in Kamal ad-Deen as the only man to have converted from Shiism to nasb. While nasb is usually associated with those who have opposed the Ahl al-Bayt, the word nassab may also mean imposter, fraud, and conman. This definition would make more sense, because Ahmad b. Hilal was accused of both extremism (ghulu) and nasb. He was probably labelled an extremist due to his support for the Nusayris, who would raise `Ali b. Abi Talib to Godhood and adopt reincarnation; [16] and he was probably associated with nasb for his opposition to the Imam’s secretariat and his creation of a new sect. Beyond the Alawites, there were other extremists whom the Twelver authorities would need to deflect. Shalmaghani later nationalistically claimed that the Hashimite Imam was the devil and that the real Imam in occultation was a Persian from the House of Chosroes.[17] While the minor occultation symbolized a harmonization between the traditionalist, rationalist, and esoteric trends in Imami Shiism, explicit measures were taken against the heresies of some esotericists. In Tabrisi’s Ihtijaj, the Hidden Imam harshly condemns the ghulat; and in the epistle of Is`haq b. Ya`qub, he calls those who have denied Husayn’s death blasphemers. The latter is a reference to those who believed that Husayn and his companions were not killed, but were raised (like Jesus) to Paradise. The move of the holy seat of the Imam’s secretariat to Baghdad sometime after Hasan al-`Askari’s death[18] and the appointment of Ibn Ruh an-Nawbakhti may also be seen as pro-rationalist stances. Ibn Ruh also built strong ties with the Qummi traditionalists during his term. His administration can be seen as a grounding force that attempted to unify the Twelvers upon strong `aqli and naqli foundations whilst combatting the esoteric ghulat and millenialists that rose to prominence in the third Islamic century. This characterization can be further noted in the works of Saduq, Mufid, Murtada, and Tusi, which further focus on traditional, jurisprudential, and rational theology.
    The third ambassador died in 326 AH and he was succeeded by as-Simuri, whose period in office was brief and relatively obscure.[19] The most notable event at this time was the Imam’s announcement to as-Simuri that he would die in six days, and that no one was to be appointed in his place. This would mark the beginning of the major occultation and a new wave of perplexity (heyra) in the Twelver community.
    Confusion would permeate the major occultation when the death of as-Simuri further raised questions on the state of the twelfth Imam. Both Nu`mani and Saduq attempted to address the confusion of Shiites in this period, with the latter writing an extensive refutation of non-Twelver sects in the outset of his Kamal ad-Deen. It was at this time when narrations on the dual occultation of the Mahdi would gain utmost relevance, as they provided an explanation for the new phase of the occultation[20] that satisfied skeptics and temporarily curtailed the attitudes of chiliasts. The first to utilize these narrations were in fact the Waqifa, who identified Musa al-Kadhim’s two terms in prison as his two periods of occultation. Neither as-Saffar nor al-Barqi mention the dual occultation in their respective works, but Kulayni inserted a tradition of this genre from Ja`far as-Sadiq into his al-Kafi during the minor occultation. This demonstrates that, by the time of as-Simuri, the expectation of a second occultation may have been present in some Twelver scholastic circles. Furthermore, Nu`mani wrote his Kitab al-Ghayba shortly after the death of as-Simuri, which documented other traditions from the sixth Imam on the dual occultation.
    What was the proposed reason for the occultation? Both Kulayni and Saduq present reports from Zurara b. A`yan which say that the Qa’im would go into occultation due to his fear of being killed. The Hidden Imam, in his minor occultation, claimed that all of his predecessors were forced to pledge allegiance (bay`a) to the despot of their time, making his occultation an escape from their clutches. Other narrations cite the occultation as being part of an ambiguous test of faith, which only the truest Shiites would pass – doing away with the hypocrites and those of little faith.
                    The physical abode of the occulted Imam is also worthy of discussion. For Kaysanis, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya (d. 81 AH) was the Mahdi, and he was alive in occultation at Mount Radwa[21] protected by lions and angels. For the Waqifa, Musa al-Kadhim’s prison sentence sufficed as an occultation. One Waqifi report preserved in Tusi’s Ghayba appropriates the Kaysani idea that the Mahdi would be upon Mount Radwa and applies it to Musa al-Kadhim after his alleged “escape” from the Abbasid prison.[22] This demonstrates that the early, pre-developed idea of occultation was a physical seclusion of the Mahdi in a remote or isolated area. During the lives of the first eleven Imams, the Imamis studied the doctrine of occultation and its theological precedents through their Kaysani, Nawusi, Fat`hi, and Waqifi peers and predecessors. One of the most influential pre-occultation Imami theologians to have written on the topic was Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 260), a contemporary of the later Imams who had compiled his own Kitab al-Ghayba based on the narrations of the Imams and their students. Fadl’s reports were preserved by Tusi and would become an important source for occultation theology and eschatology. All of those who wrote about the occultation, including Fadl, relied on both Imami and non-Imami authorities in order to fully illustrate the concept.
    The Twelvers uphold that the Hidden Imam exists “in-between time” on a higher plain – one can interact with him metaphysically through dreams and other visionary and spiritual experiences, but this does not interrupt his state of occultation.[23] In a number of narrations, the Qa’im is compared to the Biblical prophet Joseph,[24] because Joseph was presumed dead and subsequently lived in seclusion, making significant but incognito appearances to others. Likewise, the Hidden Imam’s existence was questioned, he was unseen and unrecognized by his followers, and rumours of his death arose.[25] Saduq records that during the outset of the minor occultation, `Uthman al-`Amri claimed to have seen twelfth Imam whilst at Hajj, saying that he would visibly perform the pilgrimage every year. Soon afterwards, others would claim to have met the Imam on an incidental basis.[26] These traditions challenge the former idea that the Mahdi would be restricted to a confined area during his occultation, and submits the idea that the Hidden Imam manifests himself into both material and immaterial forms, often unbeknownst to those perceiving him.
    While the Sunnis did not formalize a belief in occultation, they did have some noteworthy encounters with the concept. Immediately after the death of the Prophet, `Umar claimed that Muhammad had not died, but was still alive, and that he had “gone to his Lord as Moses went and remained hidden from his people for forty days”.[27] Although this is normally perceived to be `Umar’s emotional reaction to the death of the Prophet, it is nonetheless a strange response that may have had theological implications. Saduq would later compare the prolonging of the Mahdi’s occultation to Moses’ forty-day isolation in Kamal ad-Deen. Additionally, Qurtubi wrote in his tafsir that al-Khidr and Elijah were still alive, making occasional appearances to pious men and women. This lends credibility to the idea that righteous men can live a millennia whilst in seclusion, even after the cessation of prophethood in Muhammad.
                    One “dual occultation” tradition found in al-Kafi is supplemented with the notion that some of the Mahdi’s followers would retain contact with him during the second phase of his occultation. Here, Ja`far as-Sadiq says that the Mahdi’s “special clients” (khasat mawali) would “know his place”. The relatively ambiguous language of this hadith can perhaps be understood through its Waqifi rendition, which says that the Mahdi would be looked after by his slave (mawla) during his second occultation.[28] The letter sent to as-Simuri prior to his death condemns those who will claim to have witnessed him during the second occultation; however, this witnessing (mashahada), according to Amir-Moezzi, is referring to a claim to his ambassadorship and representation.[29] Although the meaning of this has been contested by Twelver scholarship, this interpretation can give credence to the numerous accounts of episodic appearances of the Mahdi in Shiite history.
    The Imams highlighted the need for their followers to stick to their books and the narrators of their sayings during the perplexity of the occultation. Soon after the death of as-Simuri, Nu`mani, Saduq, Mufid, Murtada, and Tusi would further develop the theology of occultation with an `aqli and naqli harmonization of the Imams’ sayings and of past events.
                    For Twelvers, an occulted Imam is not an absent Imam. Believers are still expected to recognize the Mahdi during his occultation just as they are to recognize his predecessors. Without physical access to their Imam, adherents have a unique relationship with him: praying for his well-being and for the hastening of his return, sending salutations and benedictions to him, preparing for his reappearance and weeping at its delay. In one of Kulayni’s traditions, Ja`far as-Sadiq emphasizes the intensifying need for dissimulation prior to “the affair” – the return and triumph of the Ahl al-Bayt. Another narration implies that the punishment of stoning is to be halted until the revolution of the Qa’im. Interestingly, Tusi reports a tradition from Fadl b. Shadhan that says that the misguided will enter Paradise because “the Silent One will not speak”. The “Silent One” is an occulted or inactive Imam, and so perhaps due to the difficulty in accurately recognizing him, God would not hold some deviants accountable on the Day of Resurrection. Still, in order to have cognizance of God and attain His utmost favour, recognition of His representative is necessary. All in all, perhaps the best depiction of the occultation is in an allegory that the Saviour himself presented in the epistle of Is`haq b. Ya`qub: “And as to the benefit from me in my occultation, then it is that of the Sun when it is concealed from the eyes in the clouds. And surely, I am a safeguard for the inhabitants of the earth, like the stars are the safeguards for the inhabitants of the sky. So, lock the door of questioning regarding that which is not meant for you, and do not task yourself beyond the knowledge of that which suffices you”.
    [1] Kohlberg, From Imamiyya to Ithna Ashariyya, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 521
    [2] Madelung, Hisham b. al-Hakam
    [3] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 197
    [4] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 197
    [5] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 186
    [6] Ibid, pp. 186
    [7] Daftary, A History of Shi’I Islam
    [8] Madelung, Abu’l Jarud Hamadani, Encyclopedia Iranica, I/3 pp. 327-328
    [9] According to two conflicting narrations in Kulayni’s al-Kafi on the birth of the twelfth Imam
    [10] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 443 footnotes
    [11] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 498
    [12] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 498
    [13] From the famous narration of Is`haq b. Ya`qub from the Hidden Imam: As to the course of my uncle, Ja`far and his son, then it is that of the brothers of [the prophet] Joseph.
    [14] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 500
    [15] Ibid, pp. 508
    [16] Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghayba, quotation of Sa`d b. `Abdullah’s Maqalat.
    [17] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 508
    [18] Ibid, pp. 502
    [19] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 508
    [20] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 440
    [21] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 492
    [22] Tusi, Fii Nusrat al-Waqifa from his Kitab al-Ghayba
    [23] Corbin, En Islam iranien, volume 4, pp. 330
    [24] There may be a connection here to the mystical Jewish concept of a Messiah son of Joseph.
    [25] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 439
    [26] Ibid, pp. 436
    [27] Tarikh Tabari, Volume 9, pp. 185-186
    [28] Tusi, Fii Nusrat al-Waqifa from his Kitab al-Ghayba
    [29] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 446
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    shia farm girl reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Developing a Personal Relationship with the Hidden Imam   
    During this occultation, there are unique trials, tests, tribulations, confusions and perplexities. Imam ar-Rida (as) said in two narrations that the Shi`a will be "refined (yuftanoon) just as gold is refined; purified just as gold is purified". (يفتنون كما يفتن الذهب، ثم قال: يخلصون كما يخلص الذهب.) When gold is taken out of the ground, it is black. During the refinement process, in order to rid it of excess minerals, it must be burned until nothing remains except pure gold. Likewise, during the occultation, "years will come that will perish them, a sword that will kill them, and a disagreement that will scatter them" (يأتي عليهم سنون تفنيهم، وسيف يقتلهم، واختلاف يبددهم  ). In the same hadith, as-Sadiq says this process will continue until 300+ true Shi`a are left. If you read the narrations on what constitutes a true Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt, it's a very high bar that many of us will never reach. Beyond the 313 companions of the Mahdi, he will have no less than 10,000 others in his army, who will be people of taqwa, but not at the same level of yaqeen as the 313. These are the people that survive the tribulations, which will cause many Shi`as and Muslims to deviate under the heat.
    Not only are we supposed to "await the relief day and night" (ليتوقعوا الفرج صباحا ومساء), but awaiting the relief is considered a part of the relief (إنتظار الفرج من الفر ). This is a time period where we can gradually develop our relationship with the Imam and be counted from his followers without even fighting alongside him. The reward of one who recognizes him is like that of those who will be in his pavilion (ومن عرف إمامه ثم مات قبل أن يرى هذا الامر ثم خرج القائم عليه السلام كان له من الاجر كمن كان مع القائم في فسطاطه   ).
    Another spiritual instruction given to us for the occultation is to hold our tongues and stick to our homes (حفظ اللسان ولزوم البيت ). This is an indicator to the outward corruption and schism of this time period. The more time spent in the markets/malls, for example, the more likely we are to see/hear/do/buy things that are bad for our relationship with God and His representative. This is becoming increasingly the case with nudity, music marketed towards our desires, and a global culture that maximizes our ego and materialism.
    Now, if you've read in between the lines, there's a trend here. Recognition of the Imam is not just knowing his name and biography. True recognition is to have an experiential relationship with him; so much so that you begin to take on his characteristics. Imam as-Sadiq (as) says, regarding the true Shi`a, "They are those, whose lives are so simple, whose abodes move from place to another, who, if they are seen they, will not be known, if they are absent, they will not be missed, if they become ill, they will not be visited, if they propose to a woman, they will not be married, and if they die, their funerals will not be attended. It is they, who divide their wealth among them, who visit each others' graves, and who never disagree even if their countries are different.” (أولئك الخفيض عيشهم، المنتقلة دارهم، الذين إن شهدوا لم يعرفوا، وإن غابوا لم يفتقدوا، وإن مرضوا لم يعادوا، وإن خطبوا لم يزوجوا، وإن ماتوا لم يشهدوا، أولئك الذين في أموالهم يتواسون، وفي قبورهم يتزاورون، ولا تختلف أهواؤهم وإن اختلفت بهم البلدان). This isn't an instruction to be aloof, but rather, it's describing the state of the true believers of this time. They will be supporters of one another and have close ties, but to the outside world, it is as if they do not even exist. They are not recognized by their merit, and that's exactly what is happening now. The good is seen as evil, and the evil is seen as good, and so consequently, the Shi`a are despised, rejected, unrecognized, not missed, not visited, and not felt for. Sound familiar?
    This is a part of the tawalla and tabarra. Anyone can pray, fast, perform Hajj, and give alms, but the true Shi`i is the one who has a direct relationship with his Imam and disassociates from his enemies. During the time of Husayn (as), when he was calling his supporters to come with him to Karbala, it did not suffice to say "I am going to stay in Medina, pray more tahajjud, write up some fiqh manuals". The true supporter had to live Husayn's life and die his death. Those who didn't regretted that, and they became the tawwabun. During the time of as-Sadiq, he became a teacher and educator in theology and jurisprudence, and likewise, his companions were not off joining revolutions - they were students of his and teachers of the people.
    What I find fascinating is that the 313 live the life of the Hidden Imam. That is, they live simply, they are unrecognized, they are forgotten, they support one-another, and they seclude themselves from the overspreading darkness of this world. They feel the Imam's suffering and fear, and live it. But, their proximity to Imam will allow them to all travel to Mecca prior to his coming. They will be the first to give bay`a to the Imam upon his appearance. Then, they take on the new characteristics of the Imam: utmost strength, courage, initiative, and they abandon taqiyya. Then, with the Imam together, they bring justice and peace to a world fraught with tyranny and injustice.
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