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In the Name of God بسم الله
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Allah's Hijab
Allah has placed important symbols in our religion that we must seek to understand.
The word "hijab" appears seven times in the Quran. In 7:46, the hijab is a "barrier" that divides Paradise from the Fire. In 19:16-17, Mary "secludes" herself from her family to devote herself to God in solitude. In 33:53, a "screen" protects the Prophet's wives from onlookers. In 41:5, a "barrier" prevents the disbelievers from heartfelt belief. In 42:51, a "veil" prevents Allah from being seen by those He reveals to. In 17:45, a "partition" prevents the disbelievers from comprehending the Quran. In 38:32, a "curtain" prevents Solomon from seeking his prescribed prayers.
The Quran never refers to the Muslim headdress as a hijab. In our traditional literature, the garment is instead referred to as a khimar, a jilbab, or a kisa'. So this begs the question: what is a hijab in Islamic terminology? A hijab primarily is a barrier that prevents or protects one thing from another. It can be both physical (like a curtain) or metaphysical. A physical hijab may be a simple covering that prevents unwanted access to an object or a person - much like the curtain that would prevent strange men from seeing the Prophet's wives. A metaphysical hijab could be an attitude that a person has - like Mary's seclusion from her people, or like the "social hijab" that prevents unnecessary mixing between men and women. But a metaphysical hijab can also be a boundary that Allah has set between two things.
The precious pearl hides inside the oyster's mysterious shell. In all instances, the hijab protects something of value from those who have not demonstrated a sincerity to it. It prevents both intentional and accidental harm from coming to the object of value. Only those who have demonstrated a sincerity to the gem beyond the barrier can access its excellence. For example, faith, which is a precious light of Paradise ( الايمان في الجنة ), can only be attained by those who seek it and are open to its reception. If one is insincere to faith, a barrier will be put up to protect it from him, preventing him from its understanding and its benefits. Furthermore, inner understandings of the Quran cannot be attained by a cursory reading of it - the esoteric can only be gained by deep reflection and devotion. Through this hijab, God protects the most priceless secrets from the misunderstanding and misuse of those who seek to abuse them.
Likewise, even the hijab (both physical and social) of a woman from a stranger protects her from complete objectification. The only ones that can access her feminine energy, her motherhood, her personality, and her physical beauty are (1) her direct relatives, or (2) a man who has sought her expressed consent, the permission of her guardian, and has devoted himself to her sustenance. Once that sincerity is established, the barriers are gradually removed, one after the other, and the sincere man becomes overwhelmed at her marvel.
The hijab is a Sunna of Allah. It is something that He Himself has enacted, both upon Himself and upon others. Allah has been inclined to put veils in His creation and His religion (الله ستار يحب الستر). He has also created veils for Himself - He created seven veils of light between Himself and the creation ( إن الله خلق السماوات سبعاً والأرضين سبعاً والحجب سبعاً ). This light is said to inspire the creation with His greatness, His guidance, and His love ( لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب ). The purpose of these veils is twofold: (1) to prevent His recognition and His presence from the insincere disbelievers, and (2) to manifest His signs to those who recognize Him. Allah's veils are the epitome example for veiling in Islam - they both prevent and inspire. All other hijabs are a symbol of His ultimate and primordial hijab - a hijab is to be beautiful, inspiring guidance and awe, but also purposeful in providing the security of an object or an idea.
Allah's essence is a mystery. It cannot be compared to anything, and it is contrary to all that comes to mind. The divine mystery of God's nature is called "the secret" (al-sir) in our literature. One of the roles of the Guide is to protect this secret from corruption - meaning, to prevent the people from generating a polytheistic understandings of Allah's nature. The Guide goes through extra trouble to make sure that God's mystery is kept with distance to prevent it from being defiled. Pure monotheism is their priority.
At the same time, Allah has one more very important luminous hijab: the Prophet Muhammad (s). In al-Kafi, the Prophet is called the hijab of Allah ( محمد حجاب الله تبارك وتعالى ), and the same is said in Tafsir al-`Ayashi ( بمحمد صلى الله عليه وآله تطمئن وهو ذكر الله وحجابه ). This is because the Prophet is the ultimate guardian of Allah's essence, protecting monotheistic theology from any and all corruption. Indeed, the Prophet was raised beyond all of Allah's other veils of light during the mi`raj ( فلمّا اُسرى بالنبيّ ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) فكان من ربّه كقاب قوسين أو أدنى رفع له حجاب من حجبه فكبّر رسول الل ), and was brought closer to Allah than any other creation. The Prophet also fulfills the other function of God's light hijabs, which is to guide and to inspire the creation to God. Everything about his form and his personality has been made for us to approach Allah and understand His attributes better. He is called "the Reminder" (al-Dhikr) because he is the ultimate proof of Allah and His most luminous light. It is not a coincidence that the Ahl al-Kisa' are the "People of the Cloak" - they are a sacred and primordial union that simultaneously protect the hidden and manifest the wisdom of God.
Likewise, Lady Fatima put extra veils between her and those who had oppressed her - she wrapped her scarf around her head, covered herself in her cloak, surrounded herself with her family, stepped on the ends of her dress, and placed a curtain before her and the Caliphal elites ( لما أجمع أبوبكر وعمر على منع فاطمة عليها السلام فدكا و بلغها ذلك لاثت خمارها على رأسها و اشتملت بجلبابها وأقبلت في لمةٍ من حفدتها ونساء قومها تطأ ذيولها ما تخرم مشيتها مشية رسول الله ( ص ) حتى دخلت على أبي بكر وهو في حشد من المهاجرين والأنصار وغيرهم فنيطت دونها ملاءة فجلست ).
It is important that we do not just relegate this beautiful concept of hijab to a headdress. A headdress without the intention and practice of hijab is just another piece of cloth. But a modest dress can be a small part of a larger, more meaningful dynamic. We are to carry out the hijab in all of our practices: we cover our good deeds, we protect our family members from insincere people, we protect the secrets of Ahl al-Bayt from their enemies, we recognize that the hidden intentions are more important than the apparent actions, we seek the esoteric understandings of our religion, and we recognize the limits in both theology and in society.
May Allah plant the needed humility in the garden of our hearts, so that the veil of occultation is lifted between us and our Imam for a nourishing relationship with him.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to sadegh for a blog entry, Downside protection
One of my lives involves stock market investment.
One of the concepts that's been important is that of 'downside protection', and the reason for this post are the parallels between that idea and some of the imperatives religion offers.
In investment circles, downside protection deals with the idea that if things go pear-shaped (i.e. wrong) you are still able to live another day, because an important measure of investment success is survival.
What does downside protection mean to me?
Well if a potential investment sounds wonderful, it's a matter of not putting everything into it no matter how wonderful and/or certain the touted returns. There are lots of people chasing such opportunities and the harder they seem to chase, the more likely it is that most of them will lose everything. It's a bit sad really.
Downside protection is all about giving up potential wealth and happiness because the pain incurred by being wiped out is greater. It involves caution, a certain amount of diversification into different asset classes and the deliberate sacrifice of possible returns in favour of the long game.
I'm reminded of this notion of downside protection whenever the issue of religion-inspired asceticism comes up which challenges the desire for short-term pleasure.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to NormaL_UseR for a blog entry, Keep an eye out
I'm still transcribing although had a long gap where didn't do, I want to finish the Hamid Algar series and I am doing another series of 9 lectires which I hope to finish by Ramadhan, i've done the first lecture but it's a secret (not really but I will post when ready) but keep an eye out and hope you benefit
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, National Museum Riyadh
Spent a nice late afternoon/ early evening at the National Museum in Riyadh. Entry costs 10 Riyals and is well worth the admission. The place is built for large crowds weekday mornings seem to be set aside for parties of school kids. While I was there I only saw one Saudi couple and a party of four Germans and their English speaking guide.
So a nice and peaceful experience.
All signage is in Arabic and good English.
The exhibition starts of with natural history (dinosaurs etc.), with plenty of quotations from the Quran. I walked through that pretty quickly because there did not seem to be anything that isn't done better everywhere else.
Then the interesting stuff about the Arabian peninsula starts. Lots of early vases and implements, together with photos of excavations of early settlements and also actual mock-ups. The east and Yemeni coasts of the peninsula seem to be almost littered with abandoned towns. Many seem to have served trade routes and there seem to have been times in the peninsula's history when the nomads had the upper hand and times when it paid to be settled.
The last exhibits on the ground floor deal with the Jahiliya period, before you take an escalator upstairs for the start of the Islamic period.
The early part of the Prophet's (saw) story is told on posters, together with blow-up maps and copies of real and facsimile Qurans. The narrative is what you'd expect with minimal references to the Ahlulbayt (a.s.).
The coverage then moves onto the Ummayad and Abbasid periods and after the Ottomans its the Saudi family history. There's a whole gallery about the latter and a mini-cinema that shows a film about how the modern state was founded. The showcases have lots of guns from the early 20th century.
Surprisingly there's next to nothing about the oil industry and its history in the Kingdom.
There's a tiny cafe (for takeaways) and the souvenir shop does not sell fridge magnets. So there was nothing to keep me and I walked out to the street to find a taxi with an Urdu speaking driver (easy peasy).
The image is of the bag that is used to hold to key to the house of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madinah.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, Reflect & Improve!
Self development is an important practice. It helps you to understand yourself better and create balance in your life.
Self development is same as trying to clean a messy room after a month! To do so, you must start small and progress further, but how?
When you're new to something, you're told you "Observe and Report!". Same works for self development. You're supposed to reflect and improve what you find messed up about/within yourself. If you can't find the problem, you can't come up with a solution.
There's a hadith that states,
An hour of reflection is better than an entire year's worship
Before you go to sleep, think of all the things that you did that day, like replaying a movie of the entire day in your mind. What wrongs did you do and what rights did you do? Were you rude to someone or let out your anger on someone? Did you miss prayers? Were you selfish? Did you insult someone? Did you get into a fight? Perhaps someone got hurt because of you? You get the point.
Pick one and decide not to do it for one day. You could start with, I'll not be angry with anyone for the entire day. Go through it for one day and then increase the number of days to three and so on. Once you go through it for a month, move to the next bad habit.
It'll take time but it'll be worth it. One year and you'll be a completely different person; a person with a balanced and sound mind. (Unless your list is too long :3 )
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, Muslims,Politics & the ethics of remaining neutral
I will be attending a talk this weekend which will address the Muslim's role (if any) in politics. I'm assuming the talk will limit itself to British politics, but what I've written below applies to (secular) Muslim majority countries as well.
There are three aspects to answering this question:
Religiously, we need to asses the role of one's world view viz his/her interaction with society The intellectual foundations of political activity of Muslims living in the West/East What I call the 'Clash of the Paradigms', which deals with the religious movements' failure to provide practical solutions to society's needs. I will touch on the first aspect in this post, the rest will follow after I've attended the event.
The Religious Aspect
Society plays a direct role in the spiritual development of a believer, since there are a number of existential perfections¹ that are unattainable unless one cooperates and interacts with others. An individuals' worldview is key to correct behaviour that will ensure those spiritual stations are achieved.
For the materialists, however, technological development and pursuing worldly pleasures is the only perfection, and his behaviour will reflect that accordingly. A religious person with a superficial faith in God, will have his eyes set on pleasures in the afterlife. He is motivated to adhere to religious laws, because he knows it's his key to enter paradise and avoid hell-fire².
True perfection, however, lies in attaining nearness to God. This worldview encourages the believer to search out and attain behaviours that will bring him nearness, and avoid everything that might create a barrier and veil between him and his Lord. Therefore, correct religious knowledge is essential to correct behaviour, in turn ensuring correct faith. As a person progresses in this path, he will realise that higher levels of perfection will require bigger sacrifices and harder struggles. Only those with strong resolve, patience and a true yearning for that closeness to God will ensure he evolves spiritually³.
The articles of faith ('aqeedah) are essential to shaping a person's world view and behaviours. A person who believes in the separation of religion and political activity, will not be motivated to pursue the establishment of social justice in this world. He has his eyes set on the afterlife, and will focus on the personal religious duties (to the minutest details) to ensure he avoids hell-fire. He will tell himself that it's the religious establishment's responsibility to sort out all his problems. Unfortunately, he would have most likely inherited this worldview from said religious establishment (his parents would ensure this reactionary vision is ingrained in his mind).
In order for us to contribute to society and interact at the socio-political levels, we will have to correct this superficial view of our faith, and move towards a deeper understanding of its concepts. The one-dimensional understanding of Islamic doctrines, where the emphasis is on juristic laws and personal religious duties (which have become rituals in most cases), is limiting us as individuals as well as communities in the diaspora. Ideologically, western concepts have taken over and dominated our thinking, where Islamic doctrines have failed to fill that gap, that yearning for a deeper understanding of the world. And once a person's worldview is confused with neo-liberal concepts, it becomes an uphill struggle to 1) change that worldview, and 2) for that person to live by an Islamic understanding of the world.
Even in Muslim majority countries, you will find this to be the dominant trend. Individual Muslims performing their obligatory religious duties, yet refrain from social contributions and cooperation, not due to any physical hindrances or lack of talents, but because their worldview is focused on 'material' gains in the afterlife!
In short, if we are serious about a revival of the stagnant state we are in, and are keen to contribute positively at the socio-political level (in the UK or elsewhere), we need to correct our worldview first, move away from legends, falls concepts and outright fabrications, and truly believe that with sincerity we can change the world ('O ye who believe! If ye help Allah, He will help you and will make your foothold firm' -47:7).
Once we, as a collective, appreciate that this isn't utopian fantasy talk, that our purpose is to evolve in the 'arc of ascent' towards perfection, we'll start to realise that this is only achievable if we characterise ourselves with the divine Names. Once this mindset is widely accepted, and becomes part of the collective subconscious, the idea of social justice will manifest itself naturally and organically, as each individual will have become a physical manifestation of the divine Name 'The Just'.
¹ I have spoken about this in detail in my other blog here.
² '..., and a group worshipped God out of desire for paradise, and that is the worship of tradesmen;...' - part of a narration by Imam Ali (as) in Nahjul Balaghah, Vol4, pg53 (Arabic edition)
³ Some people are willing to dedicate some of their time, usually at a personal level, however refrain from spending their money when the need arises. That is because his docility is limited, which in turn is due to the low goal he has set himself.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Reza for a blog entry, For Those Who Are Perfectionistic...
A very important point for self-reflection. Has our youthful generation become overly conscious of ourselves, to a narcissistic degree of over self-importance? Is our demands for the ideal aesthetic, a customized and polished version of the individual, an obsession with ourselves as the ultimate adaptive social creature, leading us towards excess fragility and anxiety? Why this fixation and compulsion with making ourselves the perfect product?
Why this excessive idealism towards manufactured goals, and this unhealthy self-shaming when we can't achieve it? In this modern age, it feels like the gap between potential and reality is getting narrower. What was once unobtainable seems to be possible, as development and mass culture trickles down into even depraved hands. In relatively egalitarian Western societies, the individual is led to believe they are the master of their own narrative, as self-declared protagonists in a self-directed story, with an endless assortment of tools, facades, symbolisms, lifestyles, expression mediums, representations, and smokescreens available. The competitiveness to get the image "just right" is enormous, and the pressures that we put on each other and ourselves is crazy.
From an Islamic perspective, its in our nature to strive towards perfection, to become an ideal believer and human being, in the image of God's principles. It's natural to feel shame, guilt, and self-consciousness for our shortcomings and misdeeds, and a desire to conceal them (see discussions on veils in Islam). But the key difference is that Islam defines perfection as our base, God-created humanity, and not through the lens of trendy, built up illusions and enhancements, created by mankind as obfuscations. We were created perfect, and we must simply protect and uphold what's already in our natures. Our faces were born perfect, our speech was born perfect, our spirits were born perfect. No lifehacks, PR campaigns, plastic surgeries, role playing, focus grouping, or image building is necessary.
Peace will be felt when we submit to the real creator of our blueprint, of who we really are, rather than painfully burdening ourselves by usurping that role, and manufacturing a quintessential "perfect human", only narrowly useful in this very relative and disposable age. Which is why I believe that narcissism, perfectionism, and the increased self-importance of people is a sign of weakening faith, psychological stress, and social decay, because it questions and replaces the true created perfection of humankind with an artificial and contrived fantasy, often to serve self-interest, commercial needs, or both.
In short, to Allah, we are perfect and normal as we already are. Leave the creation and shaping of man to him, we must simply live it as he has revealed. Do not put more pressure on yourself than necessary. There is no value in pushing and punishing yourself for failing to meet contrived standards of beauty, behavior, or accomplishment set by the media or whomever else. Love God unconditionally, love yourself as you are, and be yourself. Do not adhere to rigid orthodoxies or values that come from indifferent and corruptible sources. Do not set personal standards for yourself that are based on fantasy or an illusion. Don't let yourself believe you are deficient because you don't have the right trinkets or crack the perfect tooth smile at the camera. Any smile, with sincerity and goodwill, will be important and valued by those who matter. Believe in yourself.
A brief excerpt from an academic paper on this issue of perfectionism among the millennial generation:
Quote Perfectionism & Millennials: How to Treat Perfectionism in Therapy
Posted on November 14, 2013 By Michael Brustein | 0 comments Posted in: Psychology, Social Work & Counseling TAGS: Therapy, Perfectionism, Millenial Generation, mental health Millennials are often described as entitled with unrealistic expectations regarding their career. They have been referred to as lazy, hyper image-conscious, narcissistic and depressed about a life of mediocrity. Are the labels and negative stereotypes given to Millennials perpetuated by envious baby boomers? Possibly. Nonetheless there is some research coinciding with the typical Millennial labels that are thought-provoking. For example, the majority of middle school girls polled in 2007 would rather be an assistant to a celebrity than a senator or a CEO. According to a study conducted in 2009 by the Institute of National Health, college students had a 58% increase in narcissism in comparison students assessed in 1982 (Time, 5/20/2013).
I have seen a substantial portion of Millennial patients in my private practice. My observation about Millennials is that some have narcissism, but they equally appear to be perfectionistic. Perfectionism is when individuals have excessive and rigid goals regarding either self-accomplishments or excessive social expectations of themselves or others.
Having high expectations is not necessarily maladaptive, but the self-punishment and fear of not meeting your own or other’s expectations can be. Feeling like life is not worth living due to a failed interview or relationship can be an experience a perfectionist may encounter. Perfectionism can lead to many disorders such as eating disorders, OCD, depression and social anxiety. Several studies indicate that maladaptive perfectionism is associated with narcissism. A Millennial with caretakers who provide conditional love and have perfectionist tendencies can be prone to narcissism.
In spite of the amount of perfectionism I’ve seen with Millennials, very few articles and research have focused on exploring the connection between Millennials and perfectionism. In general there are few resources on how to treat perfectionists in the therapy situation and that is one reason why I wrote my book on treating perfectionism.
Some of the challenges I experience working with perfectionists is their reluctance to show weakness and desire to portray a positive image. This can cause perfectionists to conceal their concerns. Wanting to be the perfect patient, they may praise the therapist and avoid their true feelings. In other circumstances, a perfectionist’s extreme personal standards may parallel his or her expectations of a therapist. The therapist is destined to fall short and not be good enough. In therapy with them it is often fascinating to explore how the dynamics they experience with me often parallel intimate relationships and career issues. This is a topic that I explore in more depth in my book.
As therapists, supervisors and parents of Millennial perfectionists I believe we should strive to recognize their creativity and intelligence and help them hold on to their high goals, but be less punitive if they fall short and instead, help them accept themselves.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, Mother's Heartbeat
There's no doubt a strong connection between a mother and her child exists, but there's more to that. They even share the same heartbeat rhythm.
A few years ago, scientists discovered that babies and their mothers can synchronize their heartbeats just by looking at each other. The researchers explained their discovery in the following words,
Mothers and their 3-month old infants were observed during face-to-face interactions while cardiac output was collected from mother and child. Micro-analysis of the partners' behavior marked episodes of gaze, affect, and vocal synchrony. Time-series analysis showed that mother and infant coordinate heart rhythms within lags of less than 1 s.
Apart from that, a Japanese scientist discovered that playing the tape recording of a mother's heartbeat helps to put crying babies to sleep. The same occurs when a crying baby is held on the left side by the mother, enabling the baby to hear the heartbeat. This is exactly why fathers have a hard time soothing their babies while the mothers don't. So, don't worry fathers, your baby does love you, but your wife has magical powers (Not so magical now though)
According to many psychologists, this experience is imprinted on the infant's mind, because of which, the repetitive sound never loses its ability to lower the stress levels for the rest of one's life. So, if you're stressed out, go and hug your mother.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Ruq for a blog entry, If you cant beat them join bear
Got the New Year blues? Wavey bear hasnt, he's been having funfunFUN on his stag weekend and honeymoon. Here's a sample of what he's been up to:
It was theme park rides and racing on stag weekend in California...
...then off to Venezuela for sun, sea and romantic sunsets
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Jesus and Husayn
A man asked Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "May I be your sacrifice! Why were the descendants of al-Husayn preferred over the descendants of al-Hasan when they came from the same line?"
So the Imam said: I will show you, so take it.
Surely, Gabriel [a] came down to Muhammad (s) before al-Husayn had been born, and he said to him, "A boy will be born to you who will be killed by your Umma after you."
So he (s) said, "O Gabriel, I do not need this."
He addressed him three times, then he called for `Ali, and he said to him, "Surely, Gabriel [a] informs me from Allah that a boy will be born to you who will be killed by your Umma after you."
So he [a] said, "I do not need this, O Messenger of Allah."
So he addressed `Ali [a] three times. Then, he said, "The Imamate, the inheritance, and the treasury will come through his descendants."
So he sent for Fatima [a], [saying,] "Allah brings you glad tidings of a boy who will be killed by my Umma after me."
So Fatima said, "I do not need this, O father."
So he (s) addressed her three times. Then, he sent to her, [saying,] "Certainly, surely, the Imamate, the inheritance, and the treasury will be in him."
So she said, "I am pleased with Allah."
So she conceived and became pregnant with al-Husayn. She was pregnant for six months, then gave birth to him - and no infant of six months ever lives except for al-Husayn b. `Ali and Jesus the son of Mary [a]. So Umm Salama took responsibility of him, and the Messenger of Allah would meet him every day and put his tongue in the lips of al-Husayn [a], and he would suckle it until he would recite [knowledge], and Allah would give him meat (laHm) from the meat of the Messenger of Allah (s). He would not suckle milk from Fatima [a] or from anyone else.
So when Allah revealed this regarding it, 'and her bearing him and his utter dependence on her took thirty months, and so, when he attains to full maturity and reaches forty years, he prays: O my Sustainer! Inspire me so that I may forever be grateful for those blessings of Yours with which You have graced me and my parents, and that I may do what is right that will meet with Your goodly acceptance; and grant me righteousness in my offspring.' (46:15) were he to have said, 'rectify for me my offspring', then all of them would have been Imams - however, he specified it in this way.
حدثنا احمد بن الحسن رحمه الله قال: حدثنا احمد بن يحيى قال: حدثنا
بكر بن عبد الله بن حبيب قال: حدثنا تميم بن بهلول قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي عن عبد الرحمان بن كثير الهاشمي قال: قلت لابي عبد الله " ع " جعلت فداك من اين جاء لولد الحسين الفضل على ولد الحسن وهما يجريان في شرع واحد فقال لا أريكم تأخذون به، ان جبرئيل " ع " نزل على محمد صلى الله عليه وآله وما ولد الحسين بعد فقال له يولد لك غلام تقتله امتك من بعدك فقال يا جبرئيل لا حاجة لي فيه فخاطبه ثلاثا ثم دعا عليا فقال له ان جبرئيل " ع " يخبرني عن الله عز وجل انه يولد لك غلام تقتله أمتك من بعدك فقال لا حاجة لي فيه يارسول الله فخاطب عليا " ع " ثلاثا ثم قال انه يكون فيه وفي ولده الامامة والوراثة والخزانة، فارسل إلى فاطمة عليها السلام ان الله يبشرك بغلام تقتله أمتى من بعدي فقالت فاطمة ليس لي حاجة فيه يا أبة فخاطبها ثلاثا ثم أرسل إليها لابد أن يكون فيه الامامة والوراثة والخزانة فقالت له رضيت عن الله عز وجل فعلقت وحملت بالحسين فحملت ستة اشهر ثم وضعته ولم يعش مولود قط لستة أشهر غير الحسين بن علي وعيسى بن مريم عليهما السلام فكفلته أم سلمة وكان رسول الله يأتيه في كل يوم فيضع لسانه في فم الحسين " ع " فيمصه حتى يروى فانبت الله تعالى لحمه من لحم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ولم يرضع من فاطمة عليها السلام ولا من غيرها لبنا قط فلما انزل الله تبارك وتعالى فيه (وحمله وفصاله ثلاثون شهرا حتى إذا بلغ أشده وبلغ أربعين سنة قال رب أوزعني ان اشكر نعمتك التي انعمت علي وعلى والدي وان اعمل صالحا ترضاه واصلح لي في ذريتي) فلو قال أصلح لي ذريتي كانوا كلهم أئمة لكن خص هكذا.
Some of you may remember my thread on the sacrifice of Husayn. I wanted to point out some of the parallels between Jesus and Husayn, which this hadith seems to delineate. Both were born miraculously with shortened pregnancies. Mary is called al-'adra, because she was a virgin, and Fatima was called al-Batool, which is a similar title indicating purity (she did not menstruate). Both mothers were the best of women of the world, known for their modesty and spoken to by angels. The angel Gabriel announced the birth of both Jesus and Husayn. When Husayn is born, he suckles meat and nor milk - which is a popular biblical expression which refers to the consumption of higher knowledge. Both were granted knowledge as children. Fast forward to the sacrifice - one hadith says that the divine government was initially promised for Husayn, making him a messiah figure, until bada' took place. When Husayn was beheaded, those who mourn and associate with him are absolved of their sins. The final Mahdi is a descendant of Fatima just as the Messiah is the descendant of Mary.
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Sunnism and Islamic Politics
There is a developing trend in the Sunni world today which involves the denial of the legitimacy of Islamic states.
Almost all practicing Sunnis would love to see a proper Islamic state, but they disagree on the criteria and the vision. To them, Islamic vaguely means good, just, and outwardly pious. But beyond this, there are stark disagreements on how an executive is to be chosen, what economic system is to be adopted/created, and how minorities are to be treated. It seems to me that the only aspect of Muslim governance that has remained static throughout history is punishment hudud. While everything mentioned has been subject to change, there is a clinging to these hudud, perhaps because they are so clear cut, while the rest of government is not. Even at that, there are disagreements as to when the hudud are supposed to be introduced, if at all.
While Sunnis recognize the injustices committed by previous Islamic empires, most Sunnis do not categorize these empires as unIslamic. Even if there were mistakes made during the Rashidun, Umayyad, and Abbasid eras, or if they were not following Islam properly, they were still Muslim governments. Rather than highlighting their shortcomings, Sunnis have been trained to look at their benefits: scientific advancement, social progress, and conquests.
This brings Sunnism to a dilemma that is unique in their history. Since the fall of the Caliphate, there is this unexplained reluctance among the whole of Sunnis to call any state Islamic. You'll often hear this line of reasoning: Taliban Afghanistan wasn't an Islamic state, because they were partially illiterate and not fulfilling the hudud correctly. Saudi Arabia is not an Islamic state, because it is a corrupt monarchy. The Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt was not Islamic, because it was not implementing the shari`a. ISIL is not Islamic, because it is brutal. etc. Every Islamist group has been marginalized or denied legitimacy by the Sunni world.
The problem: had they been saying this about past empires, they would be considered Rafida. Their criticisms of modern Islamist movements - from the AKP to IS - are fair. But why don't they hold their empires to the same standard? Most Caliphs were dynastic, they were not implementing the shari`a properly, they were often not learned in a scholastic sense, and they were guilty of some of history's largest massacres. When Sunnis say that ISIL's atrocities are really just ISILated incidents, an aberration of Sunni Islam, khawarij with no overlap, raising an eyebrow is natural.
Sunni nostalgia for an Islamic state is strange, because while it is easy to get Ottoman nostalgia when walking into a beautiful Turkish mosque with colourful windows on a cloudless summer day, the Ottoman empire was more than just beautiful Turkish architecture and liberal Sufi spirituality. It is an empire than banned the printing press for three centuries, and executed people who were caught with a printed book. It is an empire that massacred 40,000 Shi`a in 1512 in Anatolia. It is an empire that killed scholars like Shahid al-Awwal and Shahid al-Thani. Does it only retain its "Islamic state" status of legitimacy because it is pre-modern?
Abu-Jafar Herz reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Hijab and the Divine Cloak
By His name,
In the outset of Surat al-Baqara, Allah made "belief in the ghayb" a prerequisite to God-consciousness. The theme of the ghayb (the occult, the hidden, the unseen, the covert, the esoteric, the discreet) is all over the Qur'an. Reality is beyond just its physical manifestation, but rather, it extends to that which is beyond our sensory perception. In the ghayb there are levels of hiddenness. There is (1) that which is hidden from us by way of circumstance - such as a distant object, a blocked object, or microscopically small object, or an object we are blinded from; and (2) that which cannot be attained using our physical organs. Humans are of an earthly substance, but humans also have unique access to the aql, the qalb, and the ruh, which are roughly translated as the intellect, heart, and soul - not the flesh and blood organs, but spiritual organs which exist on a different plain.
The ard or the dunya is simply the lower realm. Above that there are the malakut, the jabarut, and the lahut, which are all higher realms or higher plains, where there exists the light of Allah, the angels, the jinn, the Book, the sirat, the pen, the tablet - these all exist, but they exist metaphysically. For the believer, one prerequisite to imaan is to believe in the ghayb. A believer is not just one who submits to the existence of that which is beyond our sensory perception, but also one who yearns to understand, recognize, access, and interact with the metaphysical. For example: salat is meant to be the ascension (mi`raj) of the believer - it is our way of removing the veils and accessing the Creator. In order to remove these veils, you must first recognize them as veils.
The hijab is a veil, cloak, and boundary with many dimensions. The word hijab occurs seven times in the Qur'an, but it never refers to the headdress.
The hijab is not simply a physical garment that women wear, neither literally nor figuratively. Rather, it is a veil that can have physical and metaphysical properties. The narrations describe Allah's veils - differing in number, but some narrations say 7 in total, which is the same as the maximum number of takbeerat a person can do before salat. Allah's veil is light (noor), and it conceals His essence (dhaat). When the Messenger (pbuh) ascended (mi`raj), he traversed beyond the veils, and was less than two bow lengths away from Allah's mercy. Gabriel could not go beyond a certain point, and so Allah rewarded him by shedding the light of His greatness. Allah's light, according to the scriptures, inspires guidance and love in the creation. Allah's light is the means through which He guides us; and so the revealed books, the Prophet (pbuh), and the Ahl al-Bayt (as) all hold a share of this light. Noor, in Arabic, is a reflection of light and not a source of light (siraj), similar to how the moon is described as a noor or a munir, because it reflects the light of the sun. Similarly, the light of Allah veils His essence, but it also reflects His characteristics theophanically. The significance of this is monumental: while the hujja is entrusted to conceal God's secret (His essence), he becomes the medium through which God is recognized.
And so with this understanding of hijabs, it is important to reconsider the human hijab. While many Muslims focus on the horizontal dunyawi purposes of the hijab, the hijab is a symbol for a vertical roohani reality. This brings us to the narration of Ja`far as-Sadiq (as), where he says, whilst talking about women, "Allah is veiled and loves veiling." Just as Allah Himself inclines towards veiling (sattaar), He loves the idea of veiling. Not only has He remained hidden from our sensory perception, but He masks beautiful meanings in metaphorical scriptures. Allah likes to veil things of value so that only those who have demonstrated their sincere loyalty can remove the veil. For example, the Prophet went beyond the veils of Allah because of his dedication to Him. Likewise, we "see" Allah with our hearts after a certain level of belief, and we recognize the Imams' realities beyond their flesh and blood accidental characteristics. We also unveil the esoteric meanings of Allah's scripture after sincere dedication and contemplation. Shiism also has the taqiyya dimension, where the Imams and their Shi`a conceal special knowledge from the ignorant and the hypocritical, who may corrupt its sanctity and endanger its upholders.
And so, the human hijab, according to this narration, is an extension of this philosophy. Men are to cover certain body parts and lower their interaction with women, and a woman's hijab extends to beyond just the areas they need to cover. A mu'min's hijab can only be considered one if it is coupled and undergirded with the principles of hijab. A prerequisite to a good hijab is an intention to serve the Creator and to be upon His deen (literally: His lifestyle). A headscarf that is worn solely for its dunyawi reasons is an insufficient hijab. We see that the hijab is not just a garment, but an effort to abstain from interacting with strangers of the opposite gender. One's hijabi attitude erects a metaphysical boundary between them and the outsiders. The hijab of the woman is more demanding than that of a man for many reasons, and the effect of this is that she covers her beauty from outsiders (both physical beauty and the beauty of her personality, her nurturing capacity, her feminine energy, etc). Allah's hijab is His glorious light, and so if women are to reflect His example, then a woman's hijab should inspire guidance, God-consciousness, honour, and respect. Her hijab is beautiful in itself, setting a good example and reflecting God's attribute, but it conceals another kind of beauty. In contrast to Western culture, where the good characteristics of a woman are highlighted for outsiders, Islam vies for the concealment of precious things - be it Allah's essence or the secrets of the religion - and it is the same for its women; much like a clam's concealment of its pearl. A woman is to be ladylike to outsiders, and she must only unveil her beauty to one who has demonstrated a sincere dedication to her. Her beauty is meant to be "known", but only by those who have committed themselves to her. The mi`raj of the man in his marriage is to remove his wife's veils, both her physical veil and the veil of her personality, her motherhood, and her companionship. Allah is al-Batin, which is a secret and esoteric characteristic that women can reflect through the hijab.
Allah cannot be seen with our eyes, by His reality can be recognized with our hearts.
Abu Baseer, a blind companion of Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a], asked the Imam, “Inform me of Allah – will the believers see Him on the Day of Resurrection?” The Imam said, “Yes, and they have seen Him before the Day of Resurrection.” Abu Baseer asked, “When?” The Imam replied, “When He said to them, ‘Am I not your Lord’ and they said ‘Of course’ (7:172)” Then, the Imam went quiet for a while. He then said, “And surely, the believers will see Him in this world before the Day of Resurrection. Do you not see Him in this very moment?” Abu Baseer asked, “May I be your sacrifice: may I narrate this [to others] from you?” So the Imam said, “No – if you were to relate this, then a denier who is ignorant of what you mean by it would reject it, and assume that it is divine alikeness (tashbeeh) and disbelief. Rather, seeing [Allah] with the heart is unlike seeing [Him] with the eyes. Allah is above the descriptions of those who liken Him [to His creation] and the heretics.” (Kitab al-Tawhid by Shaykh as-Saduq)
حدثنا علي بن أحمد بن محمد بن عمران الدقاق رحمه الله، قال: حدثنا محمد بن أبي عبد الله الكوفي، قال: حدثنا موسى بن عمران النخعي، عن الحسين بن يزيد النوفلي، عن علي بن أبي حمزة، عن أبي بصير، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام، قال: قلت له: أخبرني عن الله عزوجل هل يراه المؤمنون يوم القيامة ؟ قال: نعم، وقد رأوه قبل يوم القيامة، فقلت: متى ؟ قال: حين قال لهم: (ألست بربكم قالوا بلى) ثم سكت ساعة، ثم قال: وإن المؤمنين ليرونه في الدنيا قبل يوم القيامة، ألست تراه في وقتك هذا ؟ قال أبو بصير: فقلت له: جعلت فداك فاحدث بهذا عنك ؟ فقال لا، فإنك إذا حدثت به فأنكر منكر جاهل بمعنى ما تقوله ثم قدر أن ذلك تشبيه كفر (1) وليست الرؤية بالقلب كالرؤية بالعين، تعالى الله عما يصفه المشبهون والملحدون.
Abu Baseer asks the Imam if Allah could be seen. Abu Baseer is a blind Kufan student of Imam as-Sadiq, and he is known for reporting batini traditions on the Imam. He narrates many hadiths on his miracles, his esoteric exegeses, and the status of the Ahl al-Bayt. While many hadiths emphasize that Allah is bodiless, and that He cannot be seen with the sight of eyes, a few hadiths say that He can be recognized with the heart. The believer will "see" Allah on the Day of Resurrection, but this refers to recognizing His reality. So interestingly, Abu Baseer has a few hadiths that involve him "seeing" with the assistance of the Imam. The Imam says in this hadith that Allah was seen during the Primordial Covenant, and He can even be seen right now by the believer. This is an example of the unveiling of Allah's essence - while He is al-Batin, and His form remains a secret, a sincere believer can have the pleasure in recognizing Him once his faith has been demonstrated.
Narration 2: Trading Looks With Allah
الشيخ أبو محمد هرون بن موسى بن احمد بن ابراهيم التلعكبري ايده الله قال حدثنا محمد بن همام قال حدثنا حميد بن زياد الدهقان قال حدثنا أبو جعفر احمد بن زياد بن جعفر الازدي البزاز قال حدثنا محمد بن المثنى بن القاسم الحضرمي قال حدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن شريح الحضرمي عن حميد بن شعيب السبيعي عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي قال قال أبو جعفر محمد بن علي عليهما السلام من سره ان لا يكون بينه وبين الله حجاب يوم القيمة حتى ينظر إلى الله و ينظر الله إليه فليتول ال محمد (ص) ويبرء ( ويتبرء خ د ) من عدوهم وياتم بالامام منهم فانه إذا كان ذلك نظر إلى الله ونظر الله إليه
Imam al-Baqir [a] said, "Whoever would want no veil between him and Allah on the Day of Resurrection, so that he may look towards Allah and Allah may look towards him, then he should take the Family of Muhammad (s) as his wali, disassociate from their enemy, and unite with the Imam from them. When he is like that, then he will look towards Allah and Allah will look towards him."
This hadith reinforces the same theme: once you submit yourself to the Ahl al-Bayt, the veil between us and Allah is removed. This is because the vicegerent is the light of God and His remainder in the Earth, and so he reflects His attributes in a way we can comprehend. Remember that Abu Baseer could not see the flesh of the Imam, but he was able to recognize his metaphysical nature and spiritual status. Recognizing the Imam is not about knowing their physical characteristics, but rather it is about knowing where Allah has placed them. Once this is done, you will have the pleasure of looking at and admiring your Lord, and He will look back at you (i.e. be pleased with you and uplift you).
Narration 3: The Mi`raj
[ 7244 ] 7 ـ وفي ( العلل ) : عن علي بن حاتم ، عن القاسم بن محمّد ، عن حمدان بن الحسين ، عن الحسن بن الوليد ، عن الحسن بن إبراهيم ، عن محمّد بن زياد ، عن هشام بن الحكم ، عن أبي الحسن موسى ( عليه السلام ) قال : قلت له : لأيّ علة صار التكبير في الافتتاح سبع تكبيرات أفضل ـ الى أن قال ـ قال : يا هشام ، إن الله خلق السماوات سبعاً والأرضين سبعاً والحجب سبعاً ، فلمّا اُسرى بالنبيّ ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) فكان من ربّه كقاب قوسين أو أدنى رفع له حجاب من حجبه فكبّر رسول الله ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) وجعل يقول الكلمات التي تقال في الافتتاح ، فلمّا رفع له الثاني كبّر فلم يزل كذلك حتى بلغ سبع حجب فكبّر سبع تكبيرات ، فلتلك العلّة يكبّر للافتتاح في الصلاة سبع تكبيرات.
A man asked Imam Musa al-Kadhim [a], "For what reason is opening with seven takbeerat the best?" The Imam replied, "Allah created seven Heavens, seven Earths, and seven veils. So when He made the Prophet (s) journey by night, and he was from his Lord like the distance of two bows or less, He lifted a veil from His veils, so the Messenger of Allah (s) did takbeer. And he set about saying the words that are said in the opening. So when He lifted the second veil for him, he did takbeer, and he did not cease as that until he reached seven veils and he had done seven takbeerat. So it is for that reason that one can pronounce seven takbeerat at the opening of the salat."
Here, the Imam says that the Prophet (pbuh) was brought closer to Allah than two bow lengths. This is not to be understood spatially: some hadiths state that nothing can be closer or further away from Allah's essence. This is because Allah is not held or contained in a dimensional setting, and so you cannot move towards him physically. However, the Prophet become more proximate to His presence than anything else, and Allah disclosed a secret to him (pbuh). As the Prophet transcended these veils of Allah, he would say "Allahu akbar!", until he had surpassed seven veils. The removing of veils is an emphasis of the Messenger's intimacy with His Lord.
Case Study 4: The People of the Cloak
We discussed the symbol of Allah's veils, and an interesting case study is the famous Hadith al-Kisa'. After 33:33 was revealed, the Prophet gathered the other 4 members of this sacred primordial union, and he specifically requested a cloak to enshroud the five altogether whilst reciting the second part of the verse. What's fascinating is that the Prophet specifically called the four, retrieved a cloak (rather than using another object or just simply announced who the 5 were), and insisted on keeping his wives outside of the cloak. This was a vivid demonstration of a cosmic reality: that the Ahl al-Kisa' are the literal People of the Cloak, meaning, the simultaneous protectors of Allah's secret and manifestations of Allah's veil. They are the means through which Allah is both hidden and recognized at the same time. They prevent the people from envisioning God and inventing an incorrect understanding of His essence, and, they are His light by which the worlds are guided with wisdom and mercy.
Case Study 5: The Hijab of Fatima
There are two dimensions to Fatima (as) and her hijab. The first is the physical, and the second is the metaphysical. For the former: what I find interesting is that there is no physical description of Fatima (as), even though there are descriptions of her father, her husband, and her sons. Her physical hijab was such that the people had not seen her enough to describe her. She would be rarely seen in public, and when she was, she would be fully dressed, wearing a shroud over her clothing, with her face covered, stepping on her garment so that her walking would not even make a sound. When she spoke in her famous sermon, she spoke behind a curtain (a hijab). On the metaphysical level, Fatima was even more secretive. Countless hadiths paint her as the Secret of Ahl al-Bayt. In one set of traditions, the Prophet whispers the news of his death and her death in her ear. In another set of traditions, the angels whisper the secret contents of Mus`haf Fatima, which accumulate to double the size of the Qur'an. In a third set of traditions, she has access to a secret tablet which delineated the names of all of the Imams. In one tradition, she gives three mysterious baskets from Paradise to the Prophet's companions, whose contents are unknown. In another tradition, Imam al-Kadhim shuts his door and calls on her. Her death was clouded in mystery (and if she was killed, she was killed behind the door), and even the place of her burial was a secret. She appears in few places in our literature, but whenever she does appear, she appears as a mysterious, enigmatic figure. Not only was she a practitioner of the hijab, but she embodied the very concept. Like Allah, she was hidden to all but those who were blessed to see and recognize her reality. The family of Muhammad saw the real Fatima behind the curtain, and righteous companions of the Prophet were exposed to more of her secret side than others.
Narration 6: The Intellect
Imam al-Baqir [a] said, "When Allah created the intellect, He interrogated it. Then He said to it: Draw near. So it drew near. Then He said to it: Go back. So it went back. Then He said: By My glory and My majesty, I have not created a creation that is more beloved to Me than you. And I have not perfected you but in one whom I love. Truly you do I command and you do I forbid. And you do I punish, and you do I reward."
This narration describes the aql as one of the primordial creations. It is obedient, exalted, honourable, and cherished by Allah (ما خلقت خلقا أحسن منك ولا أطوع لي منك ولا أرفع منك ولا أشرف منك ولا أعز منك), and the standard by which Allah rewards and punishes His creation. The aql is not just passive rationality, but rather, it obeys its Creator. Obedience of Allah is always the most rational option, because Allah is Merciful and Just, and His will is in the best interest of the whole. The aql is translated as "intellect" rather than "mind" or "reason", because intellect is intrinsically positive, while human reason can be subject to biases and ill-intent.
But interestingly, the hadith states that the aql draws near and goes back by the order of Allah. This is a demonstration of the aql's obedience, but it's more than that. Remember that the aql was created from a stored, hidden light (إن الله خلق العقل من نور مخزون مكنون). Its esoteric origin is an indicator to its precious nature. A question comes to mind: what is "forward" and "back" in a dimension that lacks time and spatial properties? Especially if "drawing near" cannot be a physical statement, because Allah cannot be approached or escaped physically, and because the aql and noor do not have physical properties. There are a few theories that may explain this phenomenon, including one emanating from Ayt. Behjat's students, which describes the aql's "drawing near" as a movement towards ithhar (becoming apparent), and its "drawing back" as its hiddenness. This would make the language of the hadith a literary device that helps us understand the exchange: a closer object is more apparent, while a further object is less apparent. To support this point, notice how the aql was formed out of a hidden light, and Allah tells it to first "draw near" (i.e. become apparent).
The significance of this is that there are thahir and batin aspects of the intellect that manifest in the wisdom of Islam. There are exoteric truths and esoteric truths, outward personalities of the ma`sumeen and their inward realities. Niyya (inner) and a`maal (outer).
Narration 7: The Occultation
The occultation of the 12th Imam made the mandatory recognition of the Imam an almost entirely batini concept (for the time being). Before your deeds can be accepted, you need to set out to find your unseen Imam. In this epoch, the narrations also indicate that the believers will increase their taqiyya, protecting the divine wisdom from being persecuted by the ignorant and the evil. The believer develops a strong connection with the Hidden Imam, but is not able to see him with his physical eyes. This brings us to the narration:
Imam al-Qa'im (as) wrote in a letter, "In the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s) is a good example for me." (في ابنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لي أسوة حسنة)
While the Imam himself does not elaborate on this concept (perhaps to reassert the mystique of Sayyida Fatima (as)), some commentaries tie the Imam's occultation to Fatima's secrecy. Both were oppressed of their rights, and both reflect the batini dimension. While we cannot unveil the two fully, we can understand what is behind the veil and develop a connection with them.
There are many other examples we can point to, but this should be sufficient in illustrating my point. The Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt have given a great deal of emphasis to this idea of veiling and unveiling realities. I have extended this to the hijab, which not only gives the hijab a divine importance, but it expands its purpose. Rather than simply being a garment that covers the physical beauty of a person, it takes after God's example.
وعن أبي عبد الله الإمام الصادق (عليه السلام) أ نّه قال : ( إنَّا أنزَلْـنَاهُ فِي لَـيْلَةِ القَدْرِ ) ، الليلة فاطمة الزهراء والقدر الله ، فمن عرف فاطمة حقّ معرفتها فقد أدرك ليلة القدر ، وإنّما سمّيت فاطمة لأنّ الخلق فطموا عن معرفتها.
Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as) said: "Surely, we have revealed it on the Night of Power." (97:1) The night is Fatima al-Zahra, and the Power is Allah. Whoever recognizes Fatima in her rightful manner will have comprehended the Night of Power. She was named Fatima because the Creation has been prevented (fatamu) from recognizing her [fully]." (Tafsir Furat al-Kufi)
الحسين بن احمد، عن أبيه قال: حدثنا محمد بن بندار، عن محمد ابن علي، عن محمد بن عبد الله الخراساني خادم الرضا قال: قال بعض الزنادقة لابي الحسن " ع ": لم احتجب الله؟ فقال أبو الحسن عليه السلام: ان الحجاب عن الخلق لكثرة ذنوبهم فاما هو فلا تخفى عليه خافية في آناء الليل والنهار
A heretic asked Imam ar-Rida [a], "Why is Allah veiled?" So the Imam said, "Veiling from the creation is due to the abundance of their sins. Surely, He is not hidden from them out of fear, neither the night nor the day."