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In the Name of God بسم الله

certainclarity

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  1. Like
    certainclarity 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.

  2. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Trees are People   
    Trees play a prominent role in many religious texts. With their roots in the ground and their branches stretching toward the sky, trees are linked to the heavens and the Earth, the spiritual and the material, and the vertical and the horizontal. They are like an axis or a pole that stands between both worlds. Its greenery is a symbol of life, its shade is a symbol of comfort, and its fruits are a symbol of fertility. As deciduous trees shed their leaves in some seasons, they are resurrected in others, demonstrating God's power to bring life to the dead.
    Ancient people drew parallels between trees and people. A tree's fruit became a symbol of one's offspring, deeds, or knowledge, and a diagram detailing your family "roots" is a "family tree". There are many Islamic examples where this same parallel is made:
    The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "A hypocrite is like the trunk of a palm tree. When its owner intends to use it in construction, it does not fit in the place he wants it to fit. He then tries to fit it elsewhere, but it still does not fit. So in the end, he throws it in the fire." ( قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآلهمثل المنافق مثل جذع النخل أراد صاحبه أن ينتفع به في بعض بنائه فلم يستقم له في الموضع الذي أراد فحوله في موضع آخر فلم يستقم له فكان آخر ذلك أن أحرقه بالنار )
    The trunk in this example is the hypocrite. The carpenter sees that it is a trunk, and potentially useful, but it does not meet his requirements. Similarly, Allah tests and tries the hypocrite, but when He sees no good and no use in him, He punishes the hypocrite with hellfire.
    The Prophet Muhammad (s) said, "The believers are like sprouting plants that are swirled back and forth by the winds, as the believers are also turned and bent by pain and illness. The hypocrites are like iron rods that are not affected by anything, until they meet death and are shattered by it." ( قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآله مثل المؤمن كمثل خامة الزرع تكفئها الرياح كذا وكذا وكذلك المؤمن تكفئه
    الأوجاع والأمراض ومثل المنافق كمثل الإرزبة المستقيمة التي لا يصيبها شيء حتى يأتيه الموت فيقصفه قصفا )
    Just as the trees and plants are abused by strong gusts of wind, the believer is tried with his desires (hawa, هوى, which also means "wind"). The hypocrite however is not swirled by the wind because he lives in complete heedlessness (ghafla), and is stiffened by his wickedness, until Allah destroys him.
    “And those who believed and did righteous deeds will be admitted to gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein by permission of their Lord; and their greeting therein will be, "Peace!" Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability.” (14:24-26)
    Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] was asked about the verse, "as a goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into the sky." (14:24) He said, "The Messenger of Allah (s) is its root, Amir al-Mu'mineen is its branches, the Imams from their progeny are its twigs, the knowledge of the Imams are its fruits, and their believing Shi`a are its leaves. By Allah, when a believer gives birth, a leaf sprouts on it; and when a believers dies, a leaf falls from it." ( سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن قول الله: " كشجرة طيبة أصلها ثابت وفرعها في السماء " قال: فقال: رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله أصلها، وأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فرعها، والائمة من ذريتهما أغصانها وعلم الائمة ثمرتها وشيعتهم المؤمنون ورقها، هل فيها فضل؟ قال: قلت: لا والله، قال: والله إن المؤمن ليولد فتورق ورقة فيها وإن المؤمن ليموت فتسقط ورقة منها. )
    This is an interesting exegesis, and it is crucial to understanding the Quran's analogy. Allah says that a good word is like a good tree. As we know, Jesus (as) was called a "word" (3:45), and in Shi`i exegesis, a word is a person, because Allah summons a person into existence by simply saying a word ("be!", kun faya koon). Allah then compares a goodly word to a goodly tree (shajaratin tayyiba), and this tree may indeed be the Blessed Tree ("shajarat tuba") described elsewhere in the Quran and hadith literature, as the previous verse is describing Paradise, and tuba and tayyiba come from the same root word. The Blessed Tree is one of the best rewards in Paradise, it is said to be in the house of `Ali b. Abi Talib ( دخلت الجنة رأيت في الجنة شجرة طوبى أصلها في دار علي عليه السلام ). After all, a Paradise (jannah) in Arabic is a garden with trees. Either way, the hadith above says that this tree is the Prophet, his Ahl al-Bayt, and their followers. Another hadith compares the Ahl al-Bayt to the trees of Paradise:
    Allah said to Moses regarding the Prophet (s), "You are from his Nation if you recognize His status and the status of his Ahl al-Bayt. His example and the example of his Ahl al-Bayt in the creation are like that of the trees in the Gardens of Paradise - their leaves do not shed, and their flavours do not change." ( يا موسى أنت من امته إذا عرفت منزلته ومنزلة أهل بيته ، إن مثله ومثل أهل بيته فيمن خلقت كمثل الفردوس في الجنان لا ينتشر ( 3 ) ورقها ولا يتغير طعمها )
    The trees in this example are evergreen tree with perpetually fresh fruit, because life in Paradise is everlasting, and taking from the Ahl al-Bayt's knowledge will result in eternal bliss.
    Just as there is a Blessed Tree in Paradise, there is a cursed tree in Hellfire.
    “Is Paradise a better accommodation, or the Tree of Zaqqum? Verily, we have made it a torment for the wrongdoers. Verily, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of Hell. Its emerging fruit is as if it was the heads of devils. And verily, they will eat from it and fill their bellies with it. Then verily, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water. Then verily, their return will be to Hell.” (37:62-68)
    An Umayyad man named Sa`d b. `Abd al-Malik used to visit Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a). The Imam used to call him "Sa`d the Good". Sa`d entered upon Imam al-Baqir [a], and Sa`d began weeping profusely. The Imam asked, "Why do you weep, Sa`d?" Sa`d said, "How can I not weep when I come from the lineage of the cursed tree of the Qur’an?" So Imam al-Baqir [a] said to him, "You are not from them. You are an Umayyad, but from us, the Ahl al-Bayt. Have you not heard the saying of Allah, speaking of Abraham? 'Whosoever follows me is from me.' (14:36)" ( دخل سعد بن عبد الملك وكان أبو جعفر عليه السلام يسميه سعد الخير وهو من ولد عبد العزيز بن مروان على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فبينا ينشج كما تنشج النساء (3) قال:
    فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: ما يبكيك يا سعد؟ قال وكيف لا أبكي وأنا من الشجرة الملعونة في القرآن، فقال له: لست منهم أنت أموي منا أهل البيت أما سمعت قول الله عز وجل يحكي عن إبراهيم: " فمن تبعني فإنه مني )
    This Tree of Zaqqum has fruits that look like the heads of devils. Perhaps this is because the devils, both human and jinn, are the offspring (fruit) of evil. In this hadith, the oppressors from the Umayyads are described as the flesh-and-blood Tree of Zaqqum. They are the family that is juxtaposed to the Ahl al-Bayt in heaven.
    The Messenger of Allah (s) would kiss Lady Fatima [a] frequently; and he said, "When I was taken up to heaven, I entered Paradise, and Gabriel brought me close to the Blessed Tree (Tuba). He gave me a fruit from it and I ate it. Then, Allah turned it into water in my loins. So when I descended to the Earth and went to Khadija, she became pregnant with Fatima. Whenever I long for Paradise, I kiss her, and I never kiss her without finding the fragrance of the Blessed Tree upon her, for she is [both] a human and a dark-eyed heavenly maiden." ( وعنه قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله يكثر تقبيل فاطمة عليها السلام، فأنكرت ذلك عايشة، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: يا عايشة اني لما اسرى بي إلى السماء دخلت الجنة فأدناني جبرئيل من شجرة طوبى، وناولني من ثمارها فأكلته، فحول الله ذلك ماء في ظهري فلما هبطت إلى الأرض واقعت خديجة فحملت بفاطمة، وكلما اشتقت إلى الجنة قبلتها وما قبلتها قط الا وجدت رائحة شجرة طوبى فهي حوراء انسية )
    If the Blessed Tree is truly the Ahl al-Bayt, then it would make sense that Lady Fatima would also come from that tree.
    Imam `Ali [a] said, "The tree whose trunk is soft has thick branches." (وقال عليه السلام : مَنْ لاَنَ عُودُهُ كَثُفَتْ أَغْصَانُهُ.)
    The person who is haughty and ill-tempered can never succeed in making his surroundings pleasant. His acquaintances will feel wretched and sick of him. But if a person is good-tempered and sweet-tongued people will like to get close to him and befriend him. At the time of need they will prove to be his helpers and supporters whereby he can make his life a success.
    Imam `Ali (a) said, "Prayer sheds sins like the shedding of leaves off trees" (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 109)
    Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, "When a believer meets the believer and shakes hands, Allah looks to them, and sins fall from their faces like leaves fall from trees." ( إن المؤمن ليلقى المؤمن فيصافحه، فلا يزال الله ينظر إليهما والذنوب تتحات عن وجوههما كما يتحات الورق من الشجر )
    A man asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) about the verse, "They made for him (Solomon) what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells ..." (34:13) The Imam replied, "These were not statues of men or women, but rather, they were statues of trees and their like." ( قلت لأبي جعفر (عليه السلام): "يعملون له ما يشاء - من محاريب و تماثيل و جفان كالجواب" قال: ما هي تماثيل الرجال و النساء و لكنها تماثيل الشجر و شبهه )
    Statues are normally ornaments that are shaped like people. In this exegesis, the statues of Solomon were in the form of trees instead, as though trees can take the place of people.
    Allah said to Jesus [a], "O Jesus! How numerous are the humans, yet how few in number are the patient. The trees are many, but the good ones are few, so do not be deceived by the beauty of the tree until you have tasted its fruit." (يا عيسى ما أكثر البشر وأقل عدد من صبر، الاشجار كثيرة وطيبها قليل، فلا يغرنك حسن شجرة حتى تذوق ثمرها.)
    This direct comparison between trees and people is one that can also be found in the New Testament, where Jesus allegedly says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20) The fruits in this example are the actions of individuals, which are a better indicator to a person's inner nature than his appearance.
    Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a) said, regarding His saying: “So man should look to his food” (80:24). "[He should look] to his knowledge which he takes and whom he takes it from." ( عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام في قوله تعالى " فلينظر الانسان إلى طعامه " قال: إلى علمه الذي يأخذه عمن يأخذه )
    This is very pertinent. Just as a person may consume the fruit of a tree, people are also consumers of knowledge. This hadith is a warning to the believers to take their knowledge from the correct source. Taking knowledge from the immaculate luminaries (a) will give them everlasting life in Paradise.
    Jesus [a] said, "Wisdom is established with humility, not with arrogance, just as plants grow in plain, soft ground but not on hard ground and rocks." ( قال عيسى عليه السلام: بالتواضع تعمر الحكمة لا بالتكبر، وكذلك في السهل ينبت الزرع لا في الجبل )
    Just as a tree can only grow on soft soil, the believer can only truly develop if humility is his foundation.
    Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, "The one you seek and have hopes for will verily rise from Mecca. And he will not rise from Mecca until he sees what he loves, even if it happens that parts of a tree eats [its other] parts." (ابن عقدة، عن حميد بن زياد، عن الحسن بن محمد الحضرمي عن جعفر بن محمد(ع)، وعن يونس بن يعقوب، عن سالم المكي، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة أن الذي تطلبون وترجون إنما يخرج من مكة وما يخرج من مكة حتى يرى الذي يحب ولو صار أن يأكل الاعضاء أعضاء الشجرة . )
    This narration is describing the rise of the Mahdi, who would come during a great schism between the ruling family of the Middle East. Perhaps this tree eating itself is a description of the infighting between the rulers of that time, which would indeed be pleasing to the Mahdi.
    There are many other examples that can be applied, from the story of Adam, to the mi`raj, to other stories involving trees in the Quran. Something to keep in mind is that the Ahl al-Bayt do not speak aimlessly - their examples are full of wisdom, and their examples are full of meaning. If one devotes himself or herself to more than a cursory reading of the scriptures, one will better understand the meaning of these symbols and find intricate connections between these examples.
    May Allah give us the Blessed Tree in Paradise in the Hereafter.

  3. Like
    certainclarity reacted to notme for a blog entry, Starting over   
    Salam alaikum. I had a little blog here before, but it perished in the crash. May it rest in peace. It's alright though. It gives me an opportunity to start over. 
    One thing that always has been a big motivator in my life is the thrill of learning new things and of solving problems. So I'm going to blog about what I'm currently learning, inshallah. I'll probably say a thing or two about knowledge and understanding in general, and I might even touch on how I believe knowledge of the universe might make some of us stronger Muslims. 
     
  4. Like
    certainclarity 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.
  5. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, One's self Before Others   
    The topic doesn't imply 'Putting yourself before others'. Altruism is a beautiful virtue; not many possess, but the great ones did. What's as important or perhaps even more important than putting others before yourself, is to improve your own-self before doing so.
    It should be kept in mind that the one who's drowning can't save the others, who're drowning. The one who's sick, cannot properly heal other sick ones.
    Someone gave a good example of how they ask you to "Put your own oxygen mask before assisting others" on an airplane during the safety walk-through. It's for the same reason that if you're unconscious, you cannot help others.
    Imam Ali (as) said,
    Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before educating others. Before preaching others, he should first practice himself. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals is superior to the man who tries to teach & train others.
    Buddha in regards to the same thought said,
    A man who conquers himself, is better than a man who conquers a thousand men in battle.
    So, before you go out there to help others, be your own doctor & check whether you're suffering from the same disease or not. Improve yourself, before you go out to improve others.
  6. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Purged for a blog entry, st. 1/1   
    به نام روح آفرین زندگی بخش
    که هر جز جهان دارد از او نقش
    به یاد عهد و پیمان الستی
    به بیعت با ره یکتاپرستی
    به یاد جان در تربت دمیده
    که تار و پود انسان را تنیده
    "Read in the Name of Your Lord Who Created You"
    And you decided to create me. One morning, in the eternity, you began. You mixed the soil with the water, added the spirit and thereby created Human.

    You, without paying attention to the complaints, chose me as your favourite and ordered everyone to prostrate himself before me. And I, filled with joy and pride, watched the huge crowd of prostrators.
    You accommodated me in your paradise and how beautiful it was!
    You ordered everyone to be at my service and take care of me lest any scratch, though very small, should appear on my face; lest I should feel a slight tinge of sadness.
    By the way, did I know what grief was?! I lived happily in your paradise and didn't know the meaning of trouble and hardship, grief and distress. I didnt know that I had a jealous enemy who couldnt tolerate me being joyful and happy.
    He- your curse be upon him- was called Satan. He knew that I was an inexprienced naive person and could easily be deceived.
    So he began...and finally deceived me and then, you got angry. In paradise, you had given me everything but I was driven by greed and disobeyed you.
    On that day, I was summoned to the court. In the court, you reprimanded me. And I had no excuse. I was extremely frightened. I had never seen your wrath!
    ...
  7. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Hameedeh 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.
  8. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Laayla for a blog entry, An Instance of Imami Ta`wil   
    An Instance of Imami Ta`wil
    There is a difference between Tafsir and Ta`wil. The Qur'an has many interpretive layers and no one knows them all except Allah himself and the 'Rasikhuna fil Ilm' [those deeply entrenched in knowledge].
    Below is one instance of the Imam unveiling an inner meaning of a part of the verse which is not at all apparent upon a literal reading. It should make us all take a step back from the claim that we can fully understand the Qur`an without their guidance.
    الفقيه: باسناده عن عبدالله بن سنان قال: أتيت أبا عبدالله عليه السلام فقلت له: جعلني الله فداك ما معنى قول الله عزوجل: ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ قال: أخذ الشارب وقص الاظفار وما أشبه ذلك، قال: قلت: جعلت فداك فإن ذريحا المحاربي حدثني عنك أنك قلت: ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ لقاء الامام وَلْيُوفُوا نُذُورَهُمْ تلك المناسك، قال: صدق ذريح وصدقت، إن للقرآن ظاهرا وباطنا ومن يحتمل ما يحتمل ذريح
    al-Faqih: Via his chain to Abdallah b. Sinan who said: I came to Aba Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: may Allah make me your ransom, what is the meaning of the words of Allah Mighty and Majestic: “then they should remove their untidiness” (22:29), he said: trimming the mustache and cutting the nails, I said: may I be made your ransom, Dharih al-Muharibi narrated to me quoting you as saying: “then they should remove their untidiness” means ‘visit the Imam’ and “fulfill their vows” refers to ‘[perform] the pilgrimage rites’, he said: Dharih was right and so are you, verily for the Qur’an there is an exoteric and esoteric [layered meanings], and who can bear what is borne by Dharih?      
    Commentary
    The verse in question is in Surat al-Hajj. It contains instructions to those making the Hajj. It says: “Then they should remove their untidiness, fulfill their vows and circumambulate the Ancient House” (22:29)
    The apparent meaning of ‘remove their untidiness’ is for a pilgrim to groom himself, and this would involve acts like trimming the mustache and cutting the nails, this is also what we find in the answer of the Imam to Abdallah b. Sinan. However, he had given a different answer to Dharih consonant with the latter's spiritual maturity. As is well known - the `Aimma used to answer the people based on the levels of their ability. Abdallah b. Sinan had heard this different meaning from Dharih and wanted to confirm it from the Imam himself. This is when the Imam reveals to him the exterior and interior meaning of the verse. The Imam also notes that he does not disclose the inner meaning to everyone but only those who have the capacity to handle it.
    و على هذا فالمراد بالتفث أو قضائه تطهير البدن و القلب و الروح من الأوساخ الظاهرة و الباطنة، فيدخل فيه المعنيان معا إذ الغسل و حلق الشعر و قص الأظفار تطهير للبدن من الأوساخ الظاهرة، و لقاء الإمام تطهير للقلب من الأدران و الأوساخ الباطنة التي هي الجهل و الضلال و الصفات الرديئة و الأخلاق الدنية
    al-Majlisi: The point of intersection between the two meanings is to interpret removal of dirt as achieving cleanliness from all that which blemishes a human whether it be in his physical body, his heart or soul. Bathing, trimming the hair and cutting the nails would be cleanliness of the body from physical dirt, while meeting the Imam and hearing his piercing words would be cleaning the heart from spiritual dirt such as ignorance, misguidance, repulsive attributes and base character.
    وجهة الاشتراك بين التفسير والتأويل التطهير فإن أحدهما تطهير للبدن عن الأوساخ الظاهرة وما يجري مجراها والآخر تطهير للقلب من الأوساخ الباطنة التي هي الجهل والضلال والعمى
    Faydh al-Kashani: The two meanings are related one being Ta`wil and the other is Tafsir both related to cleanliness. One is through removing the outward dirt while the other is through removing ignorance and blindness [spiritual defects].
    ووجه الاشتراك التطهير فان ما قاله عليه السلام لذريح فهو تطهير الباطن وما قاله لعبد الله بن سنان هو تطهير الظاهر والاول هو التأويل والباطن والثانى هو التفسير والظاهر
    Sayyid Hassan Khorasan: What the Imam said to Dharih is a purification of the inner self and what he said to Abdallah b. Sinan is a purification of the outer self. The former is an example of an esoteric Ta`wil while the latter is an example of an exoteric Tafsir. 
    One of the most important obligations to be fulfilled during the pilgrimage is to meet the Imam. This is what the Ashab used to do, taking advantage of the crowds to seek out the Imam and ask him questions without any fear. Hajj season is also where the early Sufara used to meet up with the Last Imam.
  9. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Ali.Isa 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.
     
  10. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Miss Wonderful for a blog entry, Index to my threads   
    Egypt excl. Luxor
     
  11. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, From Wanderlust to Wanderangst   
    WhiIe in the USA, Monday 29May17 is Memorial Day, in Europe, Sunday 28 May 2017 is a Memorable Day; the day German Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced a new vision for Europe:
    Europe First and an implied "Make Europe Great Again".  An equivalent to the Trump "America First" and "Make America Great Again"
    While announced in a speech before a CDU [Christian Democrat Union] gathering in a tent, this is no circus from Bavaria. The European Union must now act primarily in its own interest without the UK because of Brexit and without the USA, Merkel proclaimed.  A new future that must be willing to accept Russia and -l think- by extension China's "Belt and Road".  http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article153130904.html entitled "Merkel: Europe must stay united in the face of ally uncertainty"; and, http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-europe-can-no-longer-rely-on-us-and-britian/a-39018097  The video will show the animosity, angst and acceptance associated with this new Europe First vision.
    For an article with anti-Trump subtext, Chicago Tribune, 28May17, "Following Trump's trip, Merkel says Europe can't rely on U.S. anymore"; http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics Search title for article.
    CNN 2353hrs 28May17 posted a video of Merkel's speech.
    For a good quick background read, see:  https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/trump-nato-germany/528429/ 
    To flesh-out the probable results of this Europe First vision in relation to the pipeline politics and objectives of our time, we can envision a Europe-Belt-and-Road (excluding the Ukraine and maybe also Turkey) and will include a Khoramshar-Karbala-with-or-without Kurds demarcation  line for the North, Central and East of Asia. This will be opposited by Eastern Mediterranean -Arabian axis in Southwest Asia. Countries positioned to make real money out of this are Poland and Belarus. The Baltic ports will also prosper.
    So, another die is cast.
    Looks like the World will return to a bipolar structure. The multipolar World as envisioned in the 1990s hasn't worked out.
  12. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Miss Wonderful for a blog entry, Favourite Threads   
    Mainly for personal use as a shortcut. I've put a link to this post on my browser menubar, makes life much easier.
    It'll get in your way for a short while, sorry.
     
    Calleries
     
    Eateries
    Imageries
    Jokeries
    Thoughteries
    Trumperies
    Watcheries
     
     
  13. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Miss Wonderful for a blog entry, Career Advice and Planning   
    Salaam.
    As someone who has seen a little bit of success in the corporate world, I would like to take this opportunity to offer career advice to college-going and recent graduates of ShiaChat who are about to embark on their careers.
    01) Don't start planning and looking for a job when you have less than 2-3 months left of college. Job-hunting begins when you have about a year left to graduate. Identify companies you would like to work for; try to network with people to belong to these companies.
    02) Create a LinkedIn Profile and keep it updated. Try to connect with people in Talent Acquisition (TA) within the companies you are interested in working for.
    03) Inquire about internship opportunities within these companies even if the internships are unpaid. The experience and networking opportunities should be well worth it.
    04) Career planning does not mean looking for your next job. Career planning is planning for your last job before retirement and then working your backwards to your current position. This leads to an important exercise. You have to ask yourself - "Where do I want to be in 45 years?" (45 years if starting career around 22 and working until 67). If you don't know, then work on it -  think about it, evaluate your degree and see if it will help you, look at successful people with your degree. How far did they get in their careers?
    05) Once you've figured out where you would like to be in 45 years, work your way backwards in 5 year intervals to different positions you will need to hold in order to get to the next level. Let's take an example within IT. You are 22 and graduating today with a degree in programming and plan to retire as CIO. Career planning would go something like:
    CIO (62 - 67) IT Director (56 - 61) Senior Manager (50 - 55) Department Manager (44 - 49) Project Manager (38 - 43) Team Leader (32 - 37) Programmer Analyst (27 - 21) Programming Specialist (22 - 26) It is important to note that first position and last position should be fixed. You should be flexible about all other positions in between. When evaluating new job opportunities, the first question you should ask is whether the new position will help you get to your end goal or not. If not, look elsewhere.
    06) I mentioned 5 year intervals. If you are stuck in the same position for 5 years, then your career has become stagnant. Ideally, you should receive a promotion every 2.5 years or so. This does not necessarily mean a title change as much as increasing and/or different responsibilities.
    07) Don't change jobs too frequently (every 18 months or so). It looks bad on a resume.
    08) Don't be afraid to move laterally if it will help your end goal. Example, if you are stuck as a PM in a company and you know there is no upward mobility, then it is okay to find a PM position in another company if there is chance for growth.
    09) For the most part, your degree will only help you get your first job. After that, it's what you make of yourself.
    10) Never leave a position on bad terms. The corporate world is a lot smaller than you think.
    Most people think of the corporate ladder as a straight ladder bottom to top. A more appropriate description is that a corporate ladder is more like a Donkey Kong Maze:

    You have to navigate your way through the stumbling blocks to reach the top.
    "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" is a very common interview question. You are almost guaranteed a job if this question is asked and you tell them that you have planned your career until retirement nad explain how this position would help you get there.
    I hope this helps. Feel free to reply here with questions or PM me. But my first question back will be "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
     
  14. Like
    certainclarity reacted to mostafaa for a blog entry, Raising Maryam - Language lessons   
    So we'd been trundling along with Arabic and French. Private (Iraqi origin) tutor for the former and school lessons for the latter. 
    I had felt for a long time that based on my personal experience of the value of an intensive French course (a teenage summer spent in the University of Aix), the standard pedagogy of an hour a week is no good. There have to be at least bursts, in my opinion, of more intensive sessions.
    Anyway,  the Iraqi teacher had become more irregular because it was no longer convenient for her and the French could have done with a bit of upping the ante.
    And that's when I discovered italki.com
    You can get language tutors from around the world, try them out and have lessons over skype etc. To get Maryam into this I suggested we give 3 Arabic teachers a go. You can choose standard Arabic rather than a dialect. As it happened all 3 live in Cairo. We had a trial lesson with each and Maryam chose one. Now the Iraqi lady had been charging us about $40 per hour. These people were charging something like US$20-25. Having settled on one Maryam now has regular lessons with her and during holidays it can be 2-3 per week.
    Italki lessons can synch with whatever calendar you have on your machine, so that when a lesson is booked it appears on your machine on your local time and an email reminder comes as well. It's pretty well thought through.
    Anyway, with these savings and the realisation that the system would be forcing Maryam into a more structured learning system, we repeated the process for French and settled on a native speaker living in that country.
    The next language she has at school presented a problem.
    They do Spanish and German for a year and then choose which one they carry on with in addition to the French leading up to the national exams at the age of 16.
    So German or Spanish? Since the haji game plan is that south America may be a good destination if Muslims get kicked out of UK/Europe, and more people speak Spanish around the world and it may be easier for someone who already does French, we settled for her having extra lessons for Spanish. But I am in two minds. There was an argument that German may be better if, for example, someone wants to go into engineering.
  15. Like
    certainclarity 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. 
  16. Like
    certainclarity reacted to zainabamy for a blog entry, The Transfer of Kufa’s Hadith Heritage to Qom (5)   
    Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-transfer-of-kufas-hadith-heritage-to-qom-history-of-imami-shii-theology-5/
    During the Imamate of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s), there was a lot of encouragement from the Imams to their students and companions to begin recording down traditions. As this shift from oral to a written tradition became a culture amongst them, there was naturally a large output of written works over the next century. Kufa being the hub for Shi’i activity naturally possessed the most written works at the time.
    As scholars from Qom would initially travel to Kufa to acquire traditions of the Imams from the various scholars and companions that resided there, the tables would eventually turn as Kufa’s scholarly circles began to diminish and its heritage began being transferred to Qom. Scholars who played a role in transferring this heritage to Qom include personalities such as Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari, Ibrahim bin Hashim and others. To analyze this phenomenon in a little more detail, bibliographical works are utilized to see how books were being moved around from one place to another.[1]
    Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi and his son Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Barqi are two other individuals who played a role in this transfer. Most of their teachers appear to be from Kufa, whereas their students appear to be from Qom. Both father and son also seem to have traveled to Kufa like Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and tooks narrations from there and then returned back to Qom to transmit them. Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi seems to be the earliest person to have brought over some of the Kufan hadith heritage to Qom. However, he does not seem to have very cautious in who he would take narrations from and was accused of even narrating from weak narrators.[2] There are also hardly any traditions that he narrates from reliable scholars such as Hasan bin Mahbub or Ibn Abi ‘Umayr. This eventually even leads to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari (the next scholar) exiling Muhammad al-Barqi out of Qom.
    Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari who was one of the greatest scholars of Qom during his time, played a great role in bringing over the Kufan heritage by traveling to Kufa himself. Some of the works that he was able to bring back to Qom with himself were the book of ‘Ala bin Zarin, Aban bin ‘Uthman al-Ahmar, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Hasan bin Mahbub al-Kufi, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal, Safwan bin Yahya al-Bajali, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, ‘Ali bin Hadid al-Mada’ini, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, and Muhammad bin Sinan Zahiri.
    What is of interest here is that the books Ahmad was bringing with him were those that were famous, well-known and reliable works within Shi’i scholarly circles. This indicates that Ahmad was very cautious of the narrations he accepted and transmitted, and we see this translating into him exiling many narrators from Qom (like the aforementioned al-Barqi) who he found to be narrating from weak narrators.
    Husayn bin Sa’eed bin Hammad bin Sa’eed bin Mehran al-Ahwazi was another Kufan scholar who played a role in bringing over some works to Qom. Him and his brother Hasan first leave Kufa and travel to Ahwaz and then migrate to Qom. They bring with themselves the works of Rib’iyy bin ‘Abdillah al-Basri, Shu’ayb al-‘Aqr Qufiyy, Hamid bin Muthanna, Qasim bin Muhammad Jawhari al-Kufi, Qasim bin Sulayman al-Baghdadi, Qasim bin ‘Urwah al-Baghdadi, Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, Zur’ah bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami and more. Husayn also brings with himself thirty of his own written works to Qom and transmitted them to various students.
    Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim bin Musa al-Sayrafi – known as Abu Sumaynah, a Kufan narrator who was eventually exiled from Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad as well, brought with him the book of Ishaq bin Yazid bin Ismail al-Ta’i, some books of Ismail bin Mehran bin Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, book of Hafs bin ‘Asim Salami, book of Sulaym bin Qays, book of Salam bin ‘Abdillah al-Hashimi, book of Haytham bin Waqid Jazari, book of Abu Badr al-Kufi and the book of Nasr bin Mazahim al-Kufi. He will be referred to again in a later post when we discuss the phenomenon of certain narrators being exiled from the city of Qom.
    Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Jabbar al-Qumi – known as Ibn Abi al-Sahban, a companion of Imam Jawwad, Hadi, and ‘Askari. He was also one of those scholars who traveled to Kufa and brought back with him some of Kufa’s hadith heritage. His most important teachers in Kufa were Safwan bin Yahya, Muhammad bin Ismail Bazi’, and Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal. It doesn’t seem like he had any book of his own, and was merely recognized as someone who was able to transfer over some of the hadith works from Kufa to scholars in Qom. Most of his narrations in Qom are narrated by Ahmad bin Idris, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhmmad bin al-Hasan al-Saffar and Muhammad bin Yahya al-‘Attar.
    Perhaps the most prolific scholar who is renowned for bringing much of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom is Ibrahim bin Hashim. He is remembered as the first scholar to bring Kufa’s hadith to Qom and to have spread it. Some of the works he brought with him were: the Asl of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Hamid, books of Ismail bin Abi Ziyad al-Sakuni, books of Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, book of ‘Abdullah bin Sinan, books of Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, books of Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, Asl of Hisham bin Salim, some books of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar, book of Zayd Narasi, book of Sulaym Farra’, book of Yahya bin ‘Imran bin ‘Ali bin Abi Shu’ba al-Halabi just to name a few.[3]
    For at least the next 150 years, Qom would become the most important city when it came to Shi’i theological discourse. Eventually much of Qom’s hadith heritage does return back to Iraq, to the city of Baghdad when the likes of Shaykh Mufid begin gaining authority.
    With regards to the topic of Kufa’s heritage moving over to Qom, Ibrahim bin Hashim is notably remembered by multiple scholars as being the first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom was him.[4] However, when we look at the list above, we see that Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa were all scholars who had already brought with them a lot of traditions from Kufa much before Ibrahim bin Hashim. So why is it that the latter scholars gave this honour to Ibrahim rather than those who were prior to him? There could be a few possible reasons for this and a closer look at the other three scholars may help us in determining this.
    One thing to note is that the attribution given to Ibrahim bin Hashim is that the works he brought to Qom were widely-spread, not that he merely transmitted them or passed them down to his students. That being said, when we consider al-Barqi, it is known that one of the reasons he was exiled from Qom by Ahmad al-Ash’ari was because he would narrate from unknown or weak people. This would have been enough of a reason for many of the scholars of Qom to act cautiously with regards to his narrations, leading to his narrations not having spread to such an extent where it would be deemed as spreading the Kufan heritage. Some have suggested that it is possible al-Barqi may have returned back to his own town on the outskirts of Qom called Barqah-Rud, and that would have been a plausible reason why his ahadith did not spread in Qom – however this seems far-fetched, simply because Qom seems to be the most sensible location for a scholar of hadith to have returned back to, and also when we see that Ahmad al-Ash’ari exiled him from Qom it indicates that he was in Qom to begin with.
    As for Husayn bin Sa’eed, he had thirty of his own written works in Kufa which he brought with him to Qom. His main focus had been to spread these narrations which he had compiled himself, and not the rest of the heritage he had brought with him. Furthermore, Husayn bin Sa’eed did not live too long after coming to Qom, dying a short while after, which could mean that he simply didn’t have enough time to spread and transmit all the works he had brought with him to such an extent that would merit him the status of being the first one to widely-spread the heritage of Kufa in Qom.
    When it comes to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari – who was also the authority in Qom – it seems that there may been another reason he is not given this description. He not only had more of an opportunity to widely spread the heritage of Kufa that he had brought back with him to Qom, but he also had many of the same teachers as Ibrahim bin Hashim and both were living during the same era. The one factor that could have caused the scholars to still give Ibrahim bin Hashim the credit for spreading the heritage of Kufa in Qom the fact that Ibrahim was someone who was brought up and raised in Kufa, whereas Ahmad was originally a scholar of Qom. In other words, Ibrahim was the first Kufan scholar who have come to Qom and have the Kufan heritage widely-spread in the city.
    Another side point that should be mentioned here is that Ibrahim bin Hashim is credited for carrying over the theological teachings of the school of the great theologian and companion Hisham bin Hakam from Kufa to Qom as well. Ibrahim bin Hashim is claimed to have been the student of Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman who himself was one of the strongest students of Hisham bin Hakam. Whether Ibrahim was indeed a student of Yunus or not is disputed as there is no narration which Ibrahim narrates directly from Yunus (as is the natural case in a student-teacher relationship), and every narration from Yunus appears to have an individual between them. Nevertheless, Ibrahim does seem to have been influenced by this school of thought, and likewise his son Ali bin Ibrahim who will be discussed in a later article as well.
    This is important to know because figures such as Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and many later Qom scholars were staunchly against some of the theological ideas of Hisham bin Hakam, and had even written books against him and Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman. Despite this, they were still welcoming of Ibrahim bin Hashim and his narrations which indicates the level of trust and respect Ibrahim must have had in the city of Qom.
    ————————————–
    [1] One of the works I have heavily relied on for this blog post is the research paper: Sayr-e Intiqal-e Mirath-e Maktub-e Shi’eh dar Ayeneh-ye Fihrist-ha written by Ruhullah Shaheedi and Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahdawi-Raad.
    [2] Al-Fihrist of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 52
    [3] Refer to Najashi’s al-Rijal and Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist. About 19 more works can be found in Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist and 3 more in Najashi’s al-Rijal.
    [4] The famous line as recorded in Najashi’s al-Rijal is this: أصحابنا يقولون: أوّل من نشر حديث الكوفيين بقم, هو (Our scholars have said: The first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom, was him)
  17. Like
    certainclarity reacted to mostafaa for a blog entry, Death of the Shi'i Intellectual Pt2-Death by chain   
    A placeholder for the second chapter, summarising my research findings into the decline of Shi'i Intellectual thought production, which will focus on:
    - how the 'chain/sanad' method contributed to this decline,  killed off any hope of academic revival ,and dumbed down the level of scientific research within the Religious seminaries. 
    - the foremost scholar to establish this method of eliciting religious rulings and verifying narrations  (knowingly or unknowingly) - S AbulQassim alKhoei, may God bless his soul,and the people who followed his method after him.
    I want to be absolutely clear that my research focuses entirely on the methodologies used by these different currents (Akhbaris/Usoolis etc), and not the individuals who became famous as a result of it. 
     
  18. Like
    certainclarity reacted to sadegh for a blog entry, HOW TO HACK: Automated SQL Injections   
    WARNING: PERFORMING AN SQL INJECTION (indeed any form of hacking) WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE THING YOU ARE TRYING TO HACK IS VERY ILLEGAL. IF CAUGHT, YOU WILL GO TO JAIL. DO NOT BE AN IDIOT. ITS VERY EASY TO BE CAUGHT IF YOU ARE BASIC LEVEL. THERE'S PLENTY OF SAFE (LEGAL) WAYS TO PRACTICE. 
    so the last post was just about the slowest, most manual, most labour intensive possible way to do an SQL Injection. 
    today we are gonna show the actual way it is done in the real world. 
    in order to do this, you need to have Kali Linux installed. its not hard to install it, personally I prefer using a virtual machine. tutorial here:
     
    shout out to my man @repenter for literally saving me £1000s and months (years) of studying by introducing me to kali. 
    todays blog will be my typed up notes of this tutorial:
    http://www.kalitutorials.net/2014/03/hacking-website-with-sqlmap-in-kali.html
    theres a tool preinstalled in Kali called SQLMap. this is what we will be using. 
    ok without any further ado, lets get crackalackin! 
    assuming you successfully installed Kali, open a terminal and type the following and press enter:

    it lists a buttload of commands which you can enter in the terminal. 
    always start from here if you are unfamiliar with how to use the application. 
    the one we want to do is the -u command. 
    the format is:
    sqlmap -u <URL to inject>
    so for our example it would be:
    sqlmap -u http://tatbirblades.com/listproducts.php?cat=1

    you will get a printout of the potential targets for the injection

    select "y" if you are any doubt. 
    let it do its thang
    so basically, we already identified the vulnerable targets in like, 1 command. 
    second command - we wanna find out the names of the tables.
    guess what? its just another single command:
    sqlmap -u http://tatbirblades.com/listproducts.php?cat=1 --dbs
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  19. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Last Hope for a blog entry, The Real Wolves of Wall-Street   
    يا جابر كم من عبد إن غاب لم يفقدوه و إن شهد لم يعرفوه  
                في أطمار لو أقسم على الله لأبره قسمه                    
    O Jabir - how a many a man there is - if he is absent they do not ask about him, and if he is present they do not recognize him,
    In ragged clothes, but if he swears an oath upon Allah - then Allah surely fulfills his oath for him. [Ja’far al-Sadiq]
     
    The Real Wolves of Wall-Street
    A better metaphor for a certain type of ambitious, cut-throat, high level banker than wolf [or other members of the extended canine family for that matter] is not easy to find. This is because they share the same aggression combined with a very low regard for the financial health of the many innocent whose wealth they play around with.
    A narration from the commander of the faithful, which in some variants is attributed to the prophet (via Ali), predicts just such persons in a future age, going on to describe their practices with an accuracy that only prophetic insight can bring.
    The narration is found in Uyun Akhbar al-Rida of al-Saduq (and other sources), and is represented below:
    ن: بالاسانيد الثلاثة، عن الرضا، عن آبائه، عن الحسين بن علي عليهم السلام قال: خطبنا أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فقال: سيأتي على الناس زمان عضوض يعض المؤمن على ما في يده ولم يؤمر بذلك، قال الله تعالى: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ وسيأتي زمان يقدم فيه الاشرار وينسئ فيه الاخيار، ويبايع المضطر – وقد نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله عن بيع المضطر وعن بيع الغرر – فاتقوا الله يا أيها الناس واصلحوا ذات بينكم، واحفظوني في أهلي
    Uyun: Via the three chains from al-Ridha from his forefathers from al-Husayn b. Ali عليهم السلام  who said: the commander of the faithfulعليه السلام  addressed us and said: there will come upon people an extremely severe age, the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand while he was not ordered to do that - Allah the Exalted says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves, verily Allah is aware of what you do” (2:237), and there will come a time wherein evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten, deals are conducted with the one in distress, while the messenger of Allah prohibited transaction with the one in distress, and [also prohibited] the deceptive sale, so fear Allah O people and mend the ties between you, and safeguard me through [honoring] my descendants.
    Ref: Muhammad Asif al-Muhsini, Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara, Bab al-Sakha wa al-Bukhl, Kitab al-Akhlaq (Qum: Dar Nashr Adyan; 1st edition, 1434 H), Vol. 3, Pg. 172, No.6.
     
    Commentary
    « يأتي على الناس زمان عضوض »
    <<There will come upon people an extremely severe age>>
    زمان عضوض  is a key phrase which I have rendered as ‘an extremely severe age’, but it has its subtleties which need to be fleshed out.
    عض  originally means
    العَضُّ الشدُّ بالأَسنان على الشيء
    ‘to bite onto/take hold of something using teeth’
    عَضُوضٌ  is derived fromعض  and primarily used as a descriptive adjective for an animal, and one animal in particular, it is said:كلب عَضُوضٌ  a dog that bites habitually.
    This was extended analogically to derive other meanings (but is still intimately associated with its original meaning):
     
    [I] When applied to rule or dominion it has the special significance of tyranny, as though the subjects thereof are being bitten by a dog.
    It has been used with this meaning in the famous narration of the prophet in Sunni sources:
    إن الله عز وجل بدأ هذا الأمر نبوة ورحمة ، وكائناً خلافة ورحمة، وكائناً ملكاً عضوضاً
    Allah Mighty and Majestic began this affair with prophethood and mercy, and then will be succession and mercy, and then will be aملكاً عضوضاً  (tyrannical kingdom). This is how various annotators defined ملكاً عضوضاً:
    شديد الظلم على الناس، يعضهم كالكلب
    Excessive in tyranny on the people, tearing into them like a dog.
    قال  ابن الأثير في النهاية: يصيب الرعية فيه عسْفٌ وظُلْم، كأنَّهم  يُعَضُّون فيه عَضًّا
    Ibn Athir says in al-Nihaya: The civilians will be inflicted in it with oppression and tyranny, as if they are being bitten in it with bites.
    وهو نص على عدم شرعية حكم معاوية وأنه حكم جائر يعض المسلمين كالكلب
    And this is a clear proof-text proving the illegitimacy of the rule of Muawiya, and that he was an unjust ruler who will bite the Muslims like a dog.
    Very early evidence for this usage is also found in a letter of Talha to the people of Misr (inciting them against Uthman) in al-Imama wa al-Siyasa of pseudo-Ibn Qutayba
    وكانت الخلافة بعد نبيّنا خلافة نبوّة ورحمة، وهي اليوم ملك عضوض، مَن غلب على شي ء أكَلَه
    The Khilafa after our prophet was a Khilafa of prophethood and mercy, but it is today a tyrannical kingdom, whoever over-powers something eats it up.
     
    [II] When applied to a time-period or an age it has the special significance of severe, as though the age is biting those living through it because of various difficulties that it contains.
    It has been used with this meaning in the poem below:
    إليك أشكو زمناً عَضوضاً         مَن يَنْجُ منه ينقلب حَرِيضا
    To you I complain زمناً عَضوضاً  (a severe age)     whoever is saved from it returns back sickened
    A commentator says about this زمناً عَضوضاً:
    أي كلب يقال: كلب الدهر على أهله إذا ألحّ عليهم واشتدّ
    Meaning hard. It is said: the time has become hard on the people if it constantly presses on them and becomes extreme.
    زمان يعضّ الناس ككلب كلب
    Al-Tustari: an age which bites the people like a rabid dog.
    I say: We can see thatعضوض  connotes both unjust rule and an extremely severe [austere] period to come in the future. What is the most common way in which the modern economic system is described? A rapacious and increasingly ravenous dog eat dog world with great wealth owned by a few and austerity for the rest. And all this is alluded to in the narration!
    زمان الضيق و الشدّة على أهله من جهة ضيق المعاش و كثرة القوانين و الحدود الموضوعة من الظلمة و الجبّارين على الضّعفاء و المساكين و غير ذلك
    Mir Habib Allah al-Khoei: This age is characterized by poverty and troubles on its people, this is due to the constriction in their living, and the numerous man-made laws and rules which are enacted by unjust and tyrannic rulers over the weak and poor.
    I say: Global poverty (inequality) is the main scourge of the modern economic system.
     
      « يعض المؤمن على ما في يده »
    <<the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand>> 
    There is surely a mistake in this clause since it is not something we expect a believer to do, sure enough, when we look at the Nahj al-Balagha variant of this same tradition it says:
    « يعض الموسر على ما في يديه »
    <<the well-off will cling on tightly to that which is in his hands>>
    فلا يدع أن يخرج منه خير إلى غيره
    Al-Tustari: so he will not allow any of his wealth to go to anyone else.
    عض الرجل على ماله اذا جمعه لنفسه فلا ينفقه و لا يعطى شيئا منه
    Al-Rawandi: a man clings on to his wealth if he amasses it only for himself and does not give anything of it to anyone.
    و عض فلان على ما في يده أي بخل و أمسك
    Ibn Abi al-Hadid: someone clings to what is in his hands, that is: becomes stingy and withholds.
    I say: Greed is the main driver of this.
     
    « و لم يؤمر بذلك »
    <<while he was not ordered to do that>>
    بل بضدّه قال اللّه سبحانه: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ
    Al-Tustari: rather he was ordered to do its opposite, Allah Glorified is He says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” (2:237).
    The language used is not of command but encouragement, this shows that what is spoken of here is generosity in giving not the obligatory dues like Zakat.
     و لا تنسوا الفضل بينكم و قال تعالى نسوا اللّه فنسيهم أي تركوا أمر اللّه و طاعته فترك اثابتهم، و اصل النسيان الترك
    al-Rawandi says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” in another verse He said: “they forgot Allah so He in turn made them to forget themselves” (9:67), that is, they abandoned the orders of Allah and obedience to Him so he abandoned giving them. And the essence of forgetting is abandoning.
     
    Examples of Liberality in the Hadith
    و عن الصادق عليه السّلام : من يضمن أربعة بأربعة أبيات في الجنّة؟ أنفق و لا تخف فقرا، وأنصف الناس من نفسك، و أفش السلام في العالم، و اترك المراء و إن كنت محقّا
    [al-Khisal]: al-Sadiqعليه السّلام  said: who will guarantee for me these four in exchange of four houses in paradise? Give and do not fear poverty, be just to the people even against your own self-interest, spread peace in the world and abandon arguing even if you are in the right.
    و عن الرضا عليه السّلام قال لمولى له: هل أنفقت اليوم شيئا؟ فقال لا فقال فمن أين يخلف اللّه علينا أنفق و لو درهما واحدا
    [al-Kafi]: From al-Ridhaعليه السّلام  who said to a Mawla of his: have you spent anything on charity today? he said: no, he said: how is Allah going to compensate us (in what we spend - if it is not in charity)? Give in charity even if it be a single silver coin.
     
    Three Main Signs of that Age
      « يقدّم فيه الأشرار، و ينسى ء فيه الأخيار »
    1. << the evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten >>
    Let no one be in doubt about the moral decadence of a tax-evading global elite, a handful of whom own the wealth of almost half the earth’s population, or that of politicians who acquire positions of power deceitfully, in fact the lower they debase themselves the higher they rise, while the righteous are shunned, mocked and demeaned, or as is more likely, considered irrelevant, a pathetic remnant of a bygone era where virtue still counted. Relativism and Nihilism are after all what characterize this age.
    To be continued …
  20. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Last Hope for a blog entry, History of Shi'i Imami Theology (1)   
    Original: http://www.iqraonline.net/history-of-shii-imami-theology-1/
    This is intended to be the first of many posts on the history of the development of Shi’i Imami theology.
    There are various reasons why being familiar with the history of Imami theology can be of benefit for not just a Shi’a, but as well as a student of Shi’i Islam. As its history begins with the era of the Imams (s), to know how they and their companions dealt with various theological issues, challenges, and what sort of responses would they provide to those questions acts as a window through which we can attempt to learn about the religion itself. The presence of the Imams pre-Ghaybah itself makes it an important time-period to study as companions would engage in theological discussions and debates, while often bouncing off ideas and opinions off the Imams
    , who were of course seen as sources of guidance. While there were companions whose views and opinions were incorrect at times, and we find reports where the Imams (s) had to correct them or point their errors out, nevertheless we also find that many of the companions had views which were a direct result of the teachings of the Imams (s). Furthermore, without being familiar with the history of the development of Imami theology, particularly the era during the lifetime of the Imams (s), it is difficult to understand the numerous theological narrations that exist in the hadith corpus, as we would be reading them without any context.

    The history of Imami theology shows that it went through various phases and encountered numerous challenges during the course of these phases. We see various factions of companions forming due to differing methodologies, approaches, and understanding of religious teachings. As such, we can identify a few distinct groups forming during the lifetime of the Imams (s) themselves, such as that of Hisham bin Hakam, Hisham bin Salim and Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar. Each of these figures influenced later individuals (for example: Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Yaqtin, and Muhammad bin Sinan respectively) and this transmission of methodology and inclinations was carried on until the next few centuries. On the other hand, we also see that various cities were the hub for these debates and discourses, in different time periods. In this series, we intend on covering some aspects of the history of some of these schools from the perspective of their geographic location.

    In this introductory piece, we will very briefly glance over the most important cities where the Imamis were active (or at times inactive) in theological discourse during the course of time, and impacted subsequent generations (positively or negatively). These schools can be narrowed down to the following cities:

    1) Medina: Generally speaking, historians will begin their discussions on the history of the development of Imami theology after the incident of Karbala with the Imamate of Imam Sajjad (s). After the incident of Karbala, two Shi’i theological schools of thought were prevalent in Medina, one that was centered upon Imam Sajjad (s) and one on the personality of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah (son of Imam Ali). This time period has not been heavily studied unfortunately, even though recent efforts have been made by some scholars to research this time period.

    2) Kufa: Without much delay, the hub of the Imami theological school moved to the city of Kufa. While it is true that the presence of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s) was in Medina, for various reasons, it was Kufa where Imami theological discourse was prevalent and took a distinct form and shape. This shift took place in the beginning of the 2nd century Hijri, and various Muslim sects, such as the Khawarij and Mu’tazalites, were participating in theological dialogue in this city. It was in the city of Kufa where the earliest foundations for a distinct Imami identity were laid and extremely important figures were taught and trained by the Imams (s) themselves. Many Kufans would travel back and forth between Kufa and Medina in order to access the Imams (s) directly and then bring their teachings to the city of Kufa.

    3) Baghdad: After theological discourse in Kufa began diminishing, Baghdad slowly began to flourish. However, the Shi’as – who were generally located in the suburbs of Karkh – had no substantial influence, nor participation for at least a century between 180 to 280 Hijri. Due to various political restrictions imposed on the Shi’ias, many companions of the Imams (s) were unable to participate in any theological dialogue nor defend their beliefs. Thus, we see narrations indicating that an Imam may have prohibited certain companions from further engaging in theological debates – evidently a political and strategic move. Important figures such as Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman and others were imprisoned during this time for their activities. All in all, we find no significant progress nor theological discourse by the Imamis during this century. A few names that appear here and there are also of those whose identify and biography is relatively unknown.

    It was only a century later when we see the Nawbakhtis (such as Abu Sahl and Abu Muhammad) lifting up the fallen reins and re-enter theological discourse. Interestingly, we have no record of whose students the Nawbakhtis were and neither do they point towards any teacher. Although it is known that they had access to a personal library, so it is possible that they heavily utilized the heritage that had been passed down to them. In any case, this new phase in Baghdad reaches its climax during the time of Shaykh Mufid and Sayyid Murtadha, and ends with the departure of Shaykh Tusi to Najaf.

    4) Qom: As the Kufan school was coming to its end, it was the city of Qom that slowly become its substitute. The Kufan heritage was transferred over to Qom by various different scholars. Although the Kufan school had both a theologian and traditionalist-theologian movement, in Qom it was primarily a traditionalist-theologian methodology that had importance. So while many of the scholars of Qom did have a methodology and a framework within which they would intellectualize, they were still distinct from someone who would be deemed a pure theologian.

    5) Rey: A lot of Baghdad and Qom’s heritage was transferred to Rey with the immigration of some of the Imami scholars to the city. Thus it is seen as an important city where Imami theological discourse was prevalent for about one-and-half to two centuries.

    6-7) Hilla and Jabal al-Amel: Much of Rey’s heritage was transferred over to Hilla, and the theological developments within Hilla were transmitted to Jabal al-Amel by Shahid Awwal and Shahid Thani. However, since there were no important works produced within the latter city on theology, Jabal al-Amel is essentially considered an extension of Hilla and not seen as a city where significant progress was made.

    8) Najaf: One stream from Hilla’s theological school of thought moved to Najaf through the efforts of Fadhil Miqdad – a student of Shaheed Awwal. The former would accompany him till Damascus before the latter was martyred.

    9/10) Fars & Isfahan: After Najaf, it was the school of Fars and Isfahan during the Safavid dynasty that took charge of being the hub of Imami theological discourse.

    These 10 cities were without a doubt the most influential when it comes to discussing the history of the development of Imami theology. While the starting point of this historical timeline may be seen in Medina chronologically speaking, it was in the city of Kufa where a distinct Imami Shi’i theology was born. As much work has been done on the city of Kufa and Baghdad – some of it also available in English – we wish to begin our series of posts with the city of Qom, a city less discussed or often cast aside as insignificant. As the histories of some these schools are tightly connected (particularly that of Kufa, Qom and Baghdad’s), we will of course at times be forced to discuss certain aspects of the Kufan or Baghdad school in order to better understand certain aspects of Qom’s role and influence on Imami theology.
  21. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Last Hope for a blog entry, Love and Suffering   
    Love and suffering is a match made in heaven. Love is breathlessly heart-wrenching, as it snares the mind of the lover and controls his actions. Any loving relationship will be filled with trial and tribulation, selfless sacrifice, selfish protectiveness, and frequent heartbreak. We both live and die for even a moment of true love. It is thus no coincidence that suffering is a component of many Arabic words for love. `Ishq (عشق), which is a fervent type of love, was originally a vine that winds itself around a tree, squeezing it until it withered. Shaghaf (شغف), which was the passion that Zulaykha had for Yusuf (12:3), was a form of heart disease. Muhjata qalb (مهجة قلب), an expression used to describe a lover, is actually the blood of the heart. Huyum (الهيوم), meaning passion, is a type of insanity. The Persian poem of Layla and Majnun comes to mind.
    Most of the Quran is relative-comparative. Its stories usually lack names, dates, places, and chronologies, and are instead filled with archetypal symbols that can be flexibly applied to other situations. It tries to tell the stories in a timeless and universal manner.
    The Husayni tragedy in Shii literature is similar. It is mourned by other prophets long before the event, it is mourned by nature (blood rain, blood earth, owls), it is mourned over by millions of angels, and it will be vindicated in the eschatological narrative. Karbala is described in Kamil al-Ziyarat as a piece of heaven on Earth, and as the conduit between heaven and earth (majma` as-samawati wal ard). Its soil is described as a cure, and it is given to the sick, and it is used for prostrations. In Shiism, the visitation of Husayn by one who correctly recognizes his status is considered a Hajj (or seven Hajj, or thousands of Hajj, or more), because the principle of Hajj is total submission and sacrifice, commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham; and Husayn cut his Hajj short to fulfill its end by going to Karbala and willingly giving himself to God. It is said that every grief in Islam is disliked, except for grief over Husayn, and so people forego their personal tragedies to mourn for the primordial epic tragedy. They wear black, abstain from makeup and dye, abstain from laughing, abstain from weddings and festive activities, sometimes for forty days.
    The love of Husayn is not just lip-service. It is the intense gallantry that a mother has over her child, the undying loyalty that a person has for their spouse, the forsaken mourning of a widow, and the adoration of a boy for his father. It is a bond closer than family and thicker than blood. His tragedy is the quintessential love story, with Abu Fadl al-`Abbas, Qasim b. al-Hasan, `Ali al-Akbar, `Ali al-Asghar, Habib b. Muthahir, and many other gems bravely followed their beloved into the engulfing abyss.
    Interestingly, there is no record of a relationship between the Imams and the historians of the tragedy, but there is much record of a relationship between the Imams and the poets. The Imams would invite poets to speak on the tragedy, make many supplications for them, add to their poetry, and gift them very generously. This to me says that the aim of the Shii is to find a meaningful and meta-historical route to Husayn, as the horrors of that day were unfathomable, and directed only at those who deserved it the least.
    Love and suffering are often paired in Islamic literature. There isn't really a concept of "happily ever after" in this world, it is rather seen as a prison of the believer, an abode of trials (dar al-bala'), a fleeting world (dar al-fana'), where the lovers of Ali will suffer the most, so that they may be refined and purified like gold in a furnace. The tradition says that those who suffer the most are the prophets and their successors, then those similar to them, and so on. The constant trial strengthens the faith of a true believer, who learns to lean on God alone.
    The timelessness of Islam's symbols emphasizes the finality of its message and the universality of its principles. Our religion uses relatable similitudes that resonate with our very core, making Islam not a seventh century Arabian phenomenon, but an expression of the nature in which we were created.

  22. Like
    certainclarity reacted to DigitalUmmah for a blog entry, SC Blog Competition Entry   
    Salam, Ya Ali (as) Madad, Lanat upon the enemies of the Ahlulbayt (as)
    Aliun Wali Allah Wajib
    BAR MUQASSIRREEN LANAT

    "How do you see the state of mankind in the 21st century? How do you feel it impacts you as an individual?"
    INTRODUCTION
    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory where human beings main motivations are arranged in a pyramid structure, as below:

     
    If we start from the bottom, a humans main motivation is base survival - what will one eat, drink, and so on. once this is established, their next motivation changes to safety - how will they maintain their living standards, how will they ensure stability and routine. once this second level has been reached, they then seek life partners. who will they find? who will they produce children with? the penultimate level, once all these have been achieved, is the self esteem layer. this is where one has the luxury to choose how they identify themselves as an individual. the final stage, the pinnacle of this, is "self actualisation". this is when is at the most comfortable stage of their life, where they have the luxury to be able to find how to define their time. 
    While this theory has its flaws, and there are some things which I do not agree with, I feel that it is a "good enough" way to look at the state of mankind in the 21st Century. I have long held the theory that the Earth is a living organism. If we remember our GCSE Biology, for something to be classed as "Alive" it must adhere to the MRS GREN principles of life:

    The Earth certainly moves, as it rotates around its axis, around the sun, and around the centre of our galaxy. it releases energy in millions of ways using oxygen, it is sensitive to stimuli such as climate change, it grew as it formed from dust, and continues to grow on a tiny scale as more space debris is attracted to it. I would argue that it reproduces in the sense that it is always in a state of change and refreshment and cycle, through the seasons, the shifting plates, the recycling of materials. it excretes carbon dioxide from its green organisms and other waste from other places and finally it consumes energy in the sense that it takes all its nutrition from the sun. 
    I thought to myself - for the purpose of this article and competition, would it be possible to apply Maslow's heirarchy to the planet, as if it were a human being?
    MAIN BODY
    how would we define the "physiological needs" of the planet? certainly the most fundamental would be it relies on the heat, light and gravity of the sun for its basic existence. secondly its ozone and atmosphere, and thirdly its water. since these things are in order, we can safely assume that the "physiological" needs of the planet are met, so we can proceed to the next level. 
    in terms of safety and security, such as homes, employment, property and social stability, I feel that this is not in any way universal. we have areas of extreme wealth (western europe, north america), areas of extreme poverty (multiple conflict zones) and the rest sort of in between. my initial understanding is therefore that if we were to apply Maslows heirarchy to planet earth, it would stall at this level. 
    for the interests of completeness, however, I will now proceed up the pyramid, to argue my case. 
    in terms of love and understanding, I doubt that I will even see this or my children. there are simply too many divides between people. within our own shia we are fractured and segregated. within each segment we bicker amongst each other. we cannot say that there is global love and belonging, or even majority love and belonging across the whole being
    "self esteem" is something which I have long argued is no different to love and understanding. however as this step is a common view held by psychologists, I will leave my arguments for another time. I believe that the "self esteem" stage is something which can only be done under the leadership of a Masum Imam (as). this is the step where all people are united in brotherhood, friendship, family and social security as well as a desirable level of comfort. I see this as the "after the battles have been won" stage. i believe that this stage is not here yet across the earth
    the final stage, the pinnacle, is the stage  I believe reserved only for the true shia on earth. the Likes of Salman, Miqdad, Abu Dharr (peace be upon them all). this is where one is so completely dedicated to muwaddat of the Ahlulbayt (as), and living within the framework and system of a truly islamic sharia, that life is exactly how Allah intended. 
    HOW DO I FEEL THIS IMPACTS ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
    I am a cell within the greater body. what happens on the large scale happens to me on this small scale, similar to if I become an old man, my cells too will reflect my age. If I am with cancer aodhobillah, my cells will show it. as such, the Earth is still not raised above the lower levels of the heirarchy. I feel that I too cannot reach the higher levels unless humanity as a whole raises itself too. I feel that the impact of this, is that at the moment I am "surviving" when Allah and the Masumeen (as) want me to "thrive". the earth around me is in chaos, so I feel that I need to stop being passive, like a red blood cell, just circulating through the vessels and routes and pathways that others have defined for me, but to become like a white blood cell, independent, crucial to my community. to be defined as existing to protect the whole organism, if the earth can raise its "immunity" through myself, and those like myself, then maybe InshaAllah we can raise the planet to the next level, which might bring us one step closer to the way we were meant to live on this planet.
    CONCLUSION
    I know there are pockets of good, and individuals on a whole are generally decent, I know that we are living in a time of rapid scientific discovery and advancement and social improvement. the analogy I could use, to describe how I see the world is that of a human body which is suffering from some great disease. its immunity has been compromised, and it is not far off death. sure, there are individual examples of beauty within it, but these become meaningless if it is dying. it is still not too late to save it. I see that my part is to do as much good as I can, with the time and skills that I have. and blindly hope that others will do the same. then, InshaAllah, the total will become worth more than the sum of its parts.
    Thank you for your consideration.  
     
     
     
     
     
  23. Like
    certainclarity 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.

  24. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, Body, a Vessel   
    Our body is but a vessel for our soul. Unfortunately, most people don't understand that. People have divided themselves based on how they look. They judge others based on that. Oh! He's black... He's white... Then, we have orange people too (Trump)
    You know how they say, "If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies. How very different our ideals of beauty would be."
    The way you care about where you live, what you wear, what you use, caring about your body is essential, no doubt about that. But getting carried away with it, is different. We may spend hours getting ready, to look good, before going somewhere but how often do we reflect upon our inner self? How do we treat others? "Ugh! I'm not going to meet him/her!" Just because you manage to beautify your body doesn't make you beautiful if your soul, your heart, your mind are still the same; are still corrupted. 
    Focus on your bodies, your appearance but don't forget to freshen up your mind, your heart and your soul along the way. Looks have hardly any worth in the sight of Allah. Focus on your soul. Once you're dead, you're going to lose your body anyway. It's the soul that's the real you!
    Stop judging people. Learn to understand them on a deeper level. A vessel doesn't define what's in it. You never know which vessel, which oyster has the best pearl in it, unless you learn to recognize what's in it.
  25. Like
    certainclarity reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Kindness   
    Doctors take an oath to their patients: "First, do no harm." Consider this statement: "Speak the truth, but not to punish." I am making it my goal to show kindness to others, and that includes what I say as well as what I do. Bismillah.
    ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥

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