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In the Name of God بسم الله
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Karbala: The Supreme Sacrifice
عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن سيف بن عميرة، عن عبد الملك بن أعين، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: أنزل الله تعالى النصر على الحسين عليه السلام حتى كان [ ما ] بين السماء والارض ثم خير: النصر، أو لقاء الله، فاختار لقاء الله تعالى.
Imam al-Baqir said: Allah تعالى sent support for al-Husayn عليه السلام until it filled that which was between the heaven and the Earth. Then he was left to choose: victory, or meeting Allah. So he chose to meet with Allah تعالى.
Who is Hussain?
I will tell you who he's not. He's not Mahatma Ghandi, he's not Nelson Mandela, he's not Malcolm X. Husayn is Husayn, and I feel that we are misunderstanding the purpose and the meaning of his sacrifice.
There are many good, noble people in our history who rose up to fight for rights - Zayd and Nafs az-Zakiyya would be prime examples - but Imam al-Husayn did not stand up to fight for human rights. He did not even fight to gain the Caliphate. The hadiths make clear that Husayn knew exactly what would happen: he and his loved ones were going to die. Allah even gave him the option on the battlefield, saying, I will destroy your enemies if you so choose. However, Husayn chose to meet Allah instead. Had the fight been about human rights, then Husayn would've chosen to destroy his enemies and establish his government. But, he knew that sacrifice was his calling.
There is no doubt that Imam al-Husayn's (as) movement was one based on justice. Amr bil ma`roof was the foundation of his decision, and Karbala' was a cosmic battle between good and evil, the Imam of Guidance and the Imam of Disbelief, the Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt and the Shi`a of the devil. But we know that all ma`sumeen did amr bil ma`roof, and even Husayn's predecessors rose up and were martyred.
Had he been fighting for rights, then it begs the question: what differentiates Husayn from Zayd if they were both martyrs of the exact same circumstance? What makes the death of Husayn so pivotal when those better than him were also martyred? Modern society has been separated from the anthropology of sacrifice. Those who understand the symbols of sacrifice will better understand the meaning of Husayn's movement. Those who do not understand Shii Imamology will instead see the Imam as a Guevara or a William Wallace figure, who was killed at the beginning of his social justice mission.
We're living in a time where Husayn's movement has become "everyday" and "everywhere" while the classical Shi`a truthfully said that "no day is like your day". The difference between the two is that the former demotes Husayn's sacrifice to everyday struggle, while the latter emphasizes the magnitude of the day. Our job as Muslims is to properly analyze and understand what happened and why it happened, which requires a thorough investigation of the hadith literature on this topic.
The sacrifice starts with Isma`il. The Quran says regarding Ibrahim, "And we have ransomed him with a great sacrifice” (37:107) The Ahlul Bayt confirm that it was indeed Isma`il that was chosen for sacrifice, and that he was replaced with a ram. But one authentic narration by Imam ar-Rida [a] identifies that the real sacrifice here was Husayn, who replaced Isma`il and Ibrahim lamented over this. Husayn was dearer to Ibrahim than his own son was, because Husayn would be the grandson of the greatest Messenger and the Master of the Youth of Paradise. After passing this test, Allah made Ibrahim an Imam, and gave the divine covenant to him and his family. This link between sacrifice and covenant is an important one.
94 - في عيون الأخبار حدثنا عبد الواحد بن محمد بن عبدوس النيشابوري العطار بنيشابور في شعبان سنة اثنين وخمسين وثلاثمأة، قال: حدثنا محمد بن علي ابن قتيبة النيشابوري عن الفضل بن شاذان قال: سمعت الرضا عليه السلام يقول: لما أمر الله تعالى إبراهيم عليه السلام ان يذبح مكان ابنه إسماعيل الكبش الذي أنزل عليه، تمنى إبراهيم عليه السلام أن يكون قد ذبح ابنه إسماعيل بيده وأنه لم يؤمر بذبح الكبش مكانه ليرجع إلى قلبه ما يرجع إلى قلب الوالد الذي يذبح أعز ولده بيده فيستحق بذلك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، فأوحى الله عز وجل إليه: يا إبراهيم من أحب خلقي إليك؟قال: يا رب ما خلقت خلقا هو أحب إلى من حبيبك محمد صلى الله عليه وآله، فأوحى الله عز وجل: يا إبراهيم هو أحب إليك أو نفسك؟قال: بل هو أحب إلى من نفسي، قال: فولده أحب إليك أو ولدك؟قال: بل ولده، قال: فذبح ولده ظلما على يدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبك أو ذبح ولدك بيدك في طاعتي؟قال: يا رب بل ذبحه على أيدي أعدائه أوجع لقلبي قال: يا إبراهيم ان طايفة تزعم أنها من أمة محمد صلى الله عليه وآله ستقتل الحسين عليه السلام ابنه من بعده ظلما وعدوانا كما يذبح الكبش، ويستوجبون بذلك سخطي، فجزع إبراهيم عليه السلام لذلك فتوجع قلبه وأقبل يبكى، فأوحى الله تعالى إليه: يا إبراهيم قد فديت جزعك على ابنك إسماعيل لو ذبحته بيدك بجزعك على الحسين وقتله، وأوجبت لك أرفع درجات أهل الثواب على المصائب، وذلك قول الله عز وجل وفديناه بذبح عظيم ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم.
“When Allah ordered Abraham [a] to slaughter the ram that was brought to him in the place of Ishmael, Abraham [a] had hoped to have slaughtered Ishmael by his hand rather than being ordered to slaughter the ram in his place. This was so that he may regain the feeling in his heart that a father’s heart feels when he slaughters the dearest of his sons by his hand. He wanted to attain the highest of levels from the people of good deeds upon this calamity. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, who is the most beloved of My creation to you?” Abraham said, “O Lord, you have not created a creation who is more beloved to me than your beloved Muhammad .” So Allahrevealed, “O Abraham, is he more beloved to you, or yourself?” Abraham said, “Of course, he is more beloved to me than my own self.” Allah said, “So is his son more beloved to you, or your son?” Abraham said, “His son, of course.” Allah said, “So [what is more painful to your heart:] his son being slaughtered oppressively upon the hands of his enemies, or the slaughtering of your son by your hand in obedience to me?” Abraham said, “O Lord, his slaughter upon the hands of his enemies is more painful to my heart.” Allah said, “O Abraham, a faction that alleges that it is from the Nation of Muhammad will kill his son al-Husayn [a] after him oppressively and with aggression, just as a ram is slaughtered. And by that, my wrath upon them will become obligatory.” So Abraham lamented over that. His heart was pained by that, and he began to weep. So Allah revealed to him, “O Abraham, I have ransomed your lamentation upon the slaughtering of your son Ishmael with your lamentation upon Husayn And so the highest of levels from the people of good deeds has become obligatory for you for this calamity."
The Prophet calls himself the son of the two offerings, because both his father Abdullah and his forefather Isma`il had survived their respective sacrificial moments. The Prophet's position as a descendant of two offerings boosts his status as a prophet and a recipient of the divine covenant.
حَدَّثَنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ الحُسَيْن القَطَّانُ قالَ أَخْبَرنا أَحْمَدِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَعِيدُ الكُوفِي قالَعَلِيِّ بن الحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِىِّ بْنِ الفَضّال، عَنْ أَبيهِ قالَ سَأَلْت أَبَاالحَسَن عَلِىِّ بْنِ مُوسَى الرِّضا عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ، عَن مَعْنى قول النَّبِي صلي اللَّه وَآلِهِ أَنَا ابْنُ الذّبيحين قَالَ يَعْنِي إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْخَلِيلِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ
“I asked Abul Hasan Ali b. Musa ar-Rida [a] about the meaning of the statement made by the Prophet (s), ‘I am the son of the two offerings.’ Imam ar-Rida [a] said, ‘That means that the Prophet (s) was the descendant of both Ishmael, the son of Abraham - the friend of God (s) and Abdullah - the son of Abdul Muttalib.
The Hajj itself is a ritual centred around sacrifice. It recounts the story of Ibrahim and Isma`il everywhere. Pilgrims shave their heads, which is an important symbol of sacrifice. To shave your head for someone is to pledge allegiance to that person - you are giving them your head and your neck. When the Prophet took the bay`a of his companions at the Tree of Ridwan, the companions needed to shave their heads to complete the bay`a. Likewise, after the death of the Prophet, Imam Ali asked the companions to shave their heads to express their loyalty to him, but very few did so. The Hajj ends with the sacrifice of life of an animal. These are all important symbols that we belong fully to God, and that our lives are in His hand. Animal sacrifice is a sacrifice of your own ego and your lower, animalistic self. At the end of Hajj, you come out sinless, which is a rebirth after the sacrifice.
حدثني ابي رحمه الله، عن سعد بن عبد الله، عن احمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن محمد بن سنان، عن الحسين بن مختار، عن زيد الشحام، عن ابي عبد الله (عليه السلام)، قال: زيارة الحسين (عليه السلام) تعدل عشرين حجة وأفضل من عشرين حجة (2).
Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, "Visitation of al-Husayn [a] is equal to twenty Hajj. Rather, it is more than twenty Hajj."
Even the salat has sacrificial symbology in ruku`. Imam `Ali in `Ilal ash-Shara'i` says that the ruku` is gesture where one offers his neck to Allah, saying, "O Allah, I believe in Your Oneness even if my neck is struck." تأويله آمنت بوحدانيتك ، و لو ضربت عنقي
Now let's go to Husayn. Sacrificial animals are marked at birth. Likewise, in one hadith, the Imam was marked for sacrifice the day Sayyida Fatima gave birth to him. In return, the Prophet says, Allah will make the Imams from his progeny. Again, we see the relationship between sacrifice and covenant: even though Imam al-Hasan was of a higher status, the Imams would come from Husayn's progeny due to his sacrifice.
حدثنا محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل رضي الله عنه قال : حدثنا عبد الله بن جعفرالحميري قال : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى قال : حدثنا الحسن بن محبوب ، عن علي بن رئاب قال : قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام : لما أن حملت ( 2 ) فاطمة عليها السلام بالحسين عليه السلام قال لها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إن الله عز وجل قد وهب لك غلاما اسمه الحسين ، تقتله أمتي ، قالت : فلا حاجة لي فيه ، فقال : إن الله عز وجل قد وعدني فيه عدة ، قالت : وما وعدك ؟ قال : وعدني أن يجعل الإمامة من بعده في ولده ، فقالت : رضيت .
Imam as-Sadiq said: When Fatima عليها السلام became pregnant with al-Husayn عليه السلام, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said to her: Allah عز وجل has gifted a male to you whose name is al-Husayn. He will be killed by my Umma. She said: I do not need it. He said: Allah عز وجل has made a promise to me regarding him. She said: And what did He promise you? He said: He promised me that He will cause the Imamate after me to come from his loins. So she said: I am pleased.
The colour red is also associated with blood sacrifice, and the Prophet receives red mud from Karbala to symbolize the inevitable killing of Husayn. Other narrations describe Imam al-Husayn with a red cloak. In Judaism, a red ribbon was tied around a ram for sacrifice on Yom Kippur. As for Yom Kippur, it is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Hebrew Calendar, while Ashura is the 10th day of the 1st month of the Muslim calendar. The Jewish Yom Kippur is called the Day of Atonement, and the High Priest would make a sacrifice at the Temple, and select the Passover lamb. There is some disagreement on the exact date of Ashura. Abu Baseer says in an authentic tradition that it took place on a Saturday ( قال: أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يخرج القائم عليه السلام يوم السبب يوم عاشورا يوم الذي قتل فيه الحسين عليه السلام ). This was also the position of Shaykh al-Saduq and Shaykh al-Mufeed. But the 10th of Muharram does not take place on a Saturday in 61 AH, which is the generally accepted year of the event. It does, however, take place on Saturday in 62 AH, and according to the historian Hisham al-Kalbi, this is the real year that Ashura took place. If this is true, then Ashura took place on the exact same day as Yom Kippur and on the Sabbath that year. This makes for some spectacular sacrificial parallels between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Imams constantly compared the death of Husayn to that of a ram, because the two are voluntary sacrifices to God by beheading. ( إن كنت باكيا لشئ، فابك للحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب (عليه السلام)، فإنه ذبح كما يذبح الكبش )
Sacrifices are often performed by initiates of an order. Likewise, Husayn was beheaded by Shimr, who had previously been a Shi`i who fought alongside Imam `Ali.
Husayn journeyed to Karbala by cutting his own Hajj short. He left the Hijaz before performing the ritual sacrifice of Hajj. Perhaps he would become that sacrifice himself? He left the holy land and was sacrificed in Karbala, another holy and consecrated land. The narrations say that the best observance of the Day of `Arafat is in Karbala.
أبي عن سعد عن النهدي عن علي بن أسباط يرفعه إلى أبي عبد الله (ع) قال إن الله تبارك و تعالى يبدأ بالنظر إلى زوار قبر الحسين بن علي ع عشية عرفة قال قلت قبل نظره إلى أهل الموقف قال نعم قلت و كيف ذاك قال لأن في أولئك أولاد زنا و ليس في هؤلاء أولاد زنا
Imam as-Sadiq [a] said: Allah looks at the visitors of the grave of al-Hussain b. Ali (as) the night of `Arafah." The narrator asked: "Before those in '`rafah?" The Imam (as) replied: "Yes." The narrator continued asking: "And how is that?" The Imam (as) said: "It is because there are sons of fornication (awlad al-zina) in the people of 'Arafah, but there are none in these (meaning the ones in Karbala)."
From these clues and many others, it is clear to me that Husayn is the true lamb of God, who sacrificed himself on behalf of his Shi`a to receive the covenant and blessing of God. Husayn was the one volunteered to give his head so that the world may have Imams. Our crying, mourning, and visitation is an act of association of Husayn so that we may be recipients of the fruit of his sacrifice. Karbala would become the connection between the celestial world and this one.
عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : أيّما مؤمنٍ دَمَعَتْ عيناه لِقَتلِ الحسين عليه السلام دَمْعَةً حتّى تَسيل على خَدِّه بَوَّأه الله بها غُرفاً في الجنّة يَسكنها أحقاباً.
Imam al-Baqir said: Any believer whose eyes shed tears for the murder of al-Husayn till they roll (down) his cheek, Allah will make him dwell in rooms of Paradise where he will there for long ages.
The early Shi`a of Iraq certainly understood these symbols, because they were coming from cultures and religions where the anthropology of sacrifice were well known. Our world is far removed from this anthropology, and so our connection to Husayn has been through social justice. The problem is that this is purely a horizontal understanding of Karbala, and not a theologically vertical one. It is not as consistent with the sources, and it makes the Imam into a political reformer rather than the Great Sacrifice.
Both Imam ar-Rida and Imam al-Mahdi did takfeer of those who denied that Husayn had died. There were some who believed that Husayn was raised up the same way Jesus was raised up. However, this would constitute kufr, because Husayn's sacrifice was the very foundation of the Abrahamic and Muhammadan covenants.
يا بن رسول الله وفيهم قوم يزعمون أن الحسين بن علي عليهما السلام لم يقتل وانه ألقى شبهه على حنظلة بن أسعد الشامي، وانع رفع إلى السماء كما رفع عيسى بن مريم عليه السلام ويحتجون بهذه الآية.
ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا فقال: كذبوا عليهم غضب الله ولعنته وكفروا بتكذيبهم لنبي الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم في اخباره بان الحسين عليه السلام سيقتل، والله لقد قتل الحسين وقتل من كان خيرا من الحسين أمير المؤمنين والحسن بن علي عليهم السلام، وما منا الا مقتول، وانى والله لمقتول بالسم باغتيال من يغتالني أعرف ذلك بعهد معهود إلى من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم أخبره به جبرئيل عليه السلام عن رب العالمين عز وجل، واما قوله عز وجل: (ولن يجعل الله للكافرين على المؤمنين سبيلا) فإنه يقول: لن يجعل الله لهم على أنبيائه عليهم السلام سبيلا من طريق الحجة.
A man said to Imam ar-Rida [a], "O son of the Messenger of Allah! There is a community that claims that al-Husayn b. `Ali [a] was not killed, but rather, his likeness was placed upon Hanthala b. As`ad ash-Shami, and that he was raised to the heavens just as Jesus the son of Mary [a] was raised. And they use this verse to support it, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141)" The Imam replied, "They have lied. The anger and the curse of Allah is upon them. They have disbelieved because they have belied the Prophet's saying that al-Husayn [a] will be killed. By Allah, al-Husayn was killed, just as those better than al-Husayn were killed, such as the Commander of the Faithful and al-Hasan b. `Ali. There is not one from us except that he is killed. I, by Allah, will be killed with poison by the assassins of he who will assassinate me. I know this because of a covenant entrusted to me from the Messenger of Allah . He was informed of it by Gabriel [a] from the Lord of the Worlds. As for His saying, 'and never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers' (4:141), He is saying: Allah will not give them a way over His prophets [a] from the path of the Proof."
Remember that many of our major narrators come from these Judaeo-Christian backgrounds: Zurara, `Ali b. Mahzayar, Yunus b. `Abd ar-Rahman, Abdullah b. Ja`far al-Himyari, al-Bazanti, `Ali b. Asbat, most of the Ansar (Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri, Jabir b. Abdullah, etc.) 2 of the martyrs of Karbala: John and Abu Wahab al-Kalbi, were Christians. There were things these people recognized in Husayn and in Shiism that we have unfortunately lost.
Imam al-Husayn knew that he and his companions would die, and he even chose this. Allah gave him the option to defeat the empire, but he knew that it was not the time.
محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن ابن محبوب، عن ابن رئاب، عن ضريس الكناسي قال: سمعت أبا جعفر عليه السلام يقول - وعنده اناس من أصحابه -: عجبت من قوم يتولونا ويجعلونا أئمة ويصفون أن طاعتنا مفترضة عليهم كطاعة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ثم يكسرون حجتهم ويخصمون أنفسهم بضعف قلوبهم، فينقصونا حقنا ويعيبون ذلك على من أعطاه الله برهان حق معرفتنا والتسليم لامرنا، أترون أن الله تبارك وتعالى افترض طاعة أوليائه على عباده، ثم يخفي عنهم أخبار السماوات والارض ويقطع عنهم مواد العلم فيما يرد عليهم مما فيه قوام دينهم؟! فقال له حمران: جعلت فداك أرأيت ما كان من أمر قيام علي بن أبي طالب والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام وخروجهم وقيامهم بدين الله عز ذكره، وما اصيبوا من قتل الطواغيت إياهم والظفر بهم حتى قتلوا وغلبوا؟ فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا حمران إن الله تبارك وتعالى قد كان قدر ذلك عليهم وقضاه وأمضاه وحتمه على سبيل الاختيار ثم أجراه فبتقدم علم إليهم من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله قام علي والحسن والحسين عليهم السلام، وبعلم صمت من صمت منا، ولو أنهم يا حمران حيث نزل بهم ما نزل بهم ما نزل من أمر الله عز وجل وإظهار الطواغيت عليهم سألوا الله عزوجل أن يدفع عنهم ذلك وألحوا عليه في طلب إزالة ملك الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم إذا لاجابهم ودفع ذلك عنهم، ثم كان انقضاء مدة الطواغيت وذهاب ملكهم أسرع من سلك منظوم انقطع فتبدد، وما كان ذلك الذي أصابهم يا حمران لذنب اقترفوه ولا لعقوبة معصية خالفوا الله فيها ولكن لمنازل وكرامة من الله، أراد أن يبلغوها، فلا تذهبن بك المذاهب فيهم.
A man said to Imam al-Baqir [a], "May I be your sacrifice! Have you deliberated regarding what occurred from the rising of `Ali b. Abi Talib, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn? They came out and rose up for the religion of Allah; how much they suffered from their deaths at the hands of the tyrants – they were defeated, murdered and overpowered." So Abu Ja`far al-Baqir [a] said: "Allah had destined that for them; decreed it, approved it, and necessitated it – it was beyond choice. It thus occurred and the knowledge of it had come to them from the Messenger of Allah. `Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn rose whilst knowing [the consequences]. By its knowledge, there were those of us who remained silent. Had they, whilst facing what Allah made them face and suffer defeat at the hands of the tyrants, asked Allah to remove their suffering and implored Him to destroy the kingdom of the tyrants, He would have answered their prayers and granted it for them – then, the decree would have removed the tyrants and their kingdom would end faster than the dispersal of threaded beads under pressure. That which they endured was not because of a sin they committed or a punishment for opposing Allah, rather, it was a deliverance and a bounty from Allah, who wished for them to attain it. Do not allow them (i.e. the people) to take you away from the [correct] path."
وحدَّثني أبي ـ رحمه الله ـ وجماعة مشايخي ، عن سعد بن عبدالله ، عن عليِّ بن إسماعيل بن عيسى ؛ ومحمّد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطّاب ، عن محمّد بن عَمرو بن سعيد الزّيّات ، عن عبدالله بن بُكير ، عن زُرارة ، عن ابي جعفر عليه السلام «قال : كتب الحسين بن عليِّ مِن مكّة إلى محمّد بن عليٍّ : بِسم الله الرَّحمن الرَّحيم ؛ مِن الحسين بن عليٍّ إلى محمَّد بن عليٍّ ومَن قَبِلَه مِن بني هاشم ؛ أمّا بعد فإنَّ مَنْ لَحِقَ بي اسْتُشْهِد ، ومَنْ لَم يَلْحَقْ بي لم يُدرِكِ الفَتْح ؛ والسَّلام
When he was in Mecca, Imam al-Husayn [a] wrote to his brother Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya. He said the following: "In the name of Allah the Beneficient the Merciful: From al-Husayn b. Ali to Muhammad b. Ali and those who are with him from the Children of Hashim [in Medina]. Verily, one who joins me will be martyred, and one who does not join me will not attain the Victory. Peace."
وعنه، عن الحسن بن محبوب، عن أبي حمزة الثمالي قال: قلت لابي جعفر عليه السلام: إن عليا عليه السلام كان يقول: " إلى السبعين بلاء " وكان يقول: " بعد البلاء رخاء " وقد مضت السبعون ولم نر رخاء !. فقال أبو جعفر عليه السلام: يا ثابت إن الله تعالى كان وقت هذا الامر في السبعين، فلما قتل الحسين عليه السلام إشتد غضب الله على أهل الارض، فأخره إلى أربعين ومائة سنة، فحدثناكم فأذعتم الحديث، وكشفتم قناع السر، فأخره الله ولم يجعل له بعد ذلك عندنا وقتا، و * (يمحو الله ما يشاء ويثبت وعنده أم الكتاب) *. قال أبو حمزة: وقلت ذلك لابي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: قد كان ذاك.
And from him from al-Hasan b. Mahbub from Abu Hamza ath-Thumali.
He said: I said to Abu Ja`far عليه السلام: `Ali عليه السلام used to say, “Tribulations till 70 AH”, and he used to say, “after the tribulations is prosperity”, and yet 70 AH has passed and we have not seen prosperity! So Abu Ja`far عليه السلام said: O Thabit, Allah تعالى had set a time for this affair in 70 AH, but when al-Husayn عليه السلام was killed, Allah’s anger with the people of the Earth intensified. So He delayed it till 140 AH, and we narrated to you [regarding it] and you publicized the narration, so the secret was disclosed. Allah thereafter has not set any time for it that we know of. And, “Allah erases what He wills and establishes [what He wills]; and with Him is the Original Book” (13:39).
We all know the story of the Prophet Salih, and Karbala' is an inner dimension of that story. Like many stories of the Qur'an, this one has parallels with that of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt. Salih was the Arab prophet to Thamud, just as Muhammad was the Arab prophet to his people. The people of Thamud idolaters worshiping a rock/mountain, and the Meccans were worshiping idols in the Ka`ba. As a sign, Salih brought a beautiful pregnant she-camel out of this rock. Likewise, Husayn accompanied the Prophet, and he was beautiful ("husayn" means "endeared beauty"). Salih ordered the good treatment of the she-camel, and the Prophet ordered the good treatment of Ahl al-Bayt. The she-camel provided milk (and ancient symbol for eternal life), and Husayn provided the deen. The camel was prevented from drinking the water of Thamud, and Husayn was prevented from water. The camel was struck and killed by the worst person of Thamud, and Husayn was struck and killed by the worst person of the Umma. The camel was survived by an offspring, and Husayn was survived by an offspring. Both the camel and Husayn were a blessing and a sign to the community, and the community neglected their rights and killed them.
حدثني محمد بن الحسين الاشناني قال : حدثنا عباد بن يعقوب قال : أخبرنا مورع بن سويد بن قيس قال : حدثنا من شهد الحسين ، قال : كان معه ابنه الصغير
فجاء سهم فوقع في نحره ، قال : فجعل الحسين يأخذ الدم من نحره ولبته فيرمى به إلى السماء فما يرجع منه شئ ، ويقول : اللهم لا يكون اهون عليك من فصيل ( ناقة صالح)
Imam al-Husayn [a] was with his young son when an arrow struck his neck. So Husayn took the blood of his neck and his chest and threw it in the air, and none of it returned. He said, "O Allah, do not allow this to be less significant to You than the she-camel of Salih [a]."
Allah does not need anything from us - He does not need our salat, zakat, or a`mal. The religion's a`mal are all human expressions to approach the Divine. Sacrifice is a religious expression that is rooted in Islam - it is in the stories of the prophets (Habil and Qabil's offerings, Isma`il's sacrifice and Eid al-Adha, the Baqara, in the bay`a of Ridwan) in the salat, in the Hajj, and elsewhere. It is a demonstration of full submission and full adherence to Allah's will. Sacrifice is done to achieve God's favour and His proximity. The Imams were always addressed with "may I be your sacrifice" or "may my mother and father be sacrificed for you" because true allegiance is only when you are ready to put your life on the line. From this post, we see the connection between the sacrifice and the covenant (mithaq/`ahd): Ibrahim and his righteous descendants become Imams only due to his sacrifice, which was rooted in Husayn taking the place of Isma`il. Even the Prophet's own prophethood was preceded by two offerings to Allah. So, the Prophet marked Husayn for sacrifice at birth, and in return, Allah made the Imams from his progeny - I believe there is an association between these two things, because there is always a connection between (1) sacrifice, and (2) covenants/oaths/allegiances. The Hajj is only complete with an animal sacrifice, after which we are reborn with no sins. These symbols are all over the Husayni literature.
Husayn knew and willingly chose to meet his Lord on the 10th of Muharram, because a "political" islah and takeover of the Caliphate was not his mission. Imam `Ali and Imam al-Hasan were Caliphs, but their enemies prevented them from rectifying the Islamic Umma. Husayn's mission was to exemplify Islam in his fight - the full submission to the will of Allah. It was an expression of uplifting divine justice and personal responsibility at any cost. But it was also the ultimate act by which we could have the Imamate. Our mourning of him is our expression of associating ourselves with him (walaya), so that we may be counted among the covenant of Ahl al-Bayt. Once we become Muslims, and submit to our duties, and develop a ma`rifa of Allah through His Imams, and form a strong relationship with them, crying is a strong personal way to demonstrate kinship and love to Husayn. The hadiths promise that even one small tear for the Imam will result in a forgiveness of our sins, and one true visitation of our Imam will result in many Hajj. Considering the connections between Hajj and Husayn, the sacrificial and covenant dimensions here should be obvious.
Husayn's movement had two legs: justice and sacrifice. If you cut one out of the narrative, the entire narrative falls. What highlights Husayn's movement is his act of sacrifice, which undergirds the Imamate of Ibrahim (as) and his family. Husayn, in his sacrifice, fulfilled the inner meaning of Hajj, which is full subservience and selflessness towards Almighty God Allah. Again and again, the hadiths present the parallels between Hajj and Imam al-Husayn, whose visitation equals many Hajj, because he is the epicentre of Hajj.
And Allah knows best.
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Be Positive
The Seventh Imam, Musa Ibn Ja'far Al-Kadhim AS was living in the Holy City of Medina, and while he was praying at the tomb of the Holy Prophet SA, he was arrested, then the tyrant Harun ar-Rashid kept him in prison in Baghdad for almost four years in a cell so small he could not stand up tall to say his prayers. On the 25th of Rajab, Harun had Imam Kadhim AS martyred by poison. Even his corpse was desecrated and taken from the prison and left in view on the Bridge of Baghdad. His devotees managed to bury Imam Kazim AS in al-Kazimiyyah (Iraq). Although Imam Kazem AS was living under complete oppression, he kept positive. May Allah SWT keep us all on the straight path and keep us positive.
♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Blessings
One of my sons complained about the shower water being cold. I said, "It's not too cold -- there is a little boy in Afghanistan taking a bath in a cold river, because he has no shower." Sometimes when I think of it, I wish that I hadn't said that. However, children need to learn to be grateful for everything. Things could always be worse. Alhamdulillah for the blessings Allah has bestowed on us.
♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, A Note on Identity
People used to look to identity as a unifying force around a particular political project, or social endeavour, in order to protect the interest of a group. However, some view identity to be the biggest hindrance to progress (anywhere), and the most negative heritage that would lead a people to conflicts with no end or solution in sight. In fact, it is a drain of resources (human and natural), and it has taken us Arabs/Muslims (in the Middle East) in the opposite direction to the movement of history.
I'm in the process of proposing a new Political Theory, the basis of which will be an effort to unite around a common future goal, best suited for the progress of our (Middle Eastern) society (or any society struggling for justice), to enable us to compete amongst the most advanced nations of the world.
The conflicts in the Middle East, especially the one initiated by what became known as the 'Arab Spring', are conflicts that pit one identity against the other, with policies purposely absent, so that foreign policies take advantage of the situation and are forced upon us. As a result, instead of different factions debating political theories and social projects, we have a never-ending struggle of religious and ideological identities. These religions and ideologies, have been emptied of their socio-political essences and revolutionary progressive ideas, so it should come as no surprise that their opinions matter very little to the rest of the world (if they ever show opinions on things that matter!).
Throughout religious history, we have examples of socio-political struggle between progressive revolutionaries and the establishment. When Jesus (as) came to revolt against the status-quo of his time, he didn't do so by attaching himself to an existing identity. The Christian identity was established once people started following the teachings of Jesus Christ (as). The same applied to the early Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula, who became Muslim not to be part of an existing identity, but to destroy the status-quo. The Islamic movement came as a social project to 'islamize' the people, and not for it to be carried as an identity. The current conflicts in the region (and many other parts of the world) revolve around identities, with total absence of their original Islamic or Christian essence, i.e. a lack of understanding of the deep and rich meanings that sit at the root of these labels. As a result, they lack understanding of what these ideologies offer in terms of socio-political change.
The majority of people in our region have inherited an identity, it is but a few who are truly religious.
What I hope to achieve with this new Political Theory is to return to 'Traditional Humanism', which is no different to the True Islam (in the general prophetic evolutionary sense), to propose a fresh and enlightening socio-political project that would benefit everyone. Any reformist project must look back at history, revolt against any negative inheritance that has been accumulated over the years, and learn from the experiences of our ancestors. We are not responsible for our ancestor's deeds, but we can build on them and work towards more perfect policies and social behaviours, setting an examples to the rest of the world. This cannot be achieved whilst hiding behind an inherited identity. Those who hide behind religious identities, have forgotten or misunderstood the true meaning and message of their faith, and instead are behaving more like infighting tribes.
Religious and sectarian infighting is the beginning of the end of religion (as was the case in the European wars of religion in the 16th century, that lead to the enlightenment and Europe's eventual secularism).
This project is a revolt against inherited religions, because all that remains today are inherited religious identities, filled with fanaticism, and devoid of any sacred, social, political, or economical essence and intelligence.
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Abraram for a blog entry, All about the "Sufyani"
We all have heard a lot about Sufyani and yet couldn't recognize it because of several reasons. Till today, there are mix stories about Sufyani so I thought to compile all about Sufyani in deep so that interested eyeballs could benefit from it.
Importance of Sufyani
Sufyani is a character and his appearance is one of the signs of reappearance that has to be appeared before the arrival of Imam Mahdi a.s. Rise of Sufyani, Yamani and Khurasani in the same year, month and day is one of the signs that is mentioned iteratively in many of the Ahadith which proves its importance as a proof of nearness of Imam Mahdi a.s.
Sufyani's Traits and Appearance
The mystical sufyani is named as "Usman bin Anbasa" and would rise from the deep Damascus (Syria). He would have small pox, a christian cross hidden in his neck and not much popular among the Syrians but identified as a person who would take revenge against the Ashab(Lion - Merely Bashar ul Assad) and Abqa()Patchy dotted face). He would be the most ferocious killer of the time and one of the Ahadith of Imam claims that Abu Sufyan was the man who hated Imam Ali a.s and killed him, Mawiya was the one who killed Imam Hasan, Yazeed killed Imam Hussain a.s and then the Sufyani who would appear to confront Imam Mahdi a.s.
According to Imam Ali a.s that the man would appear from deep damascus (Wadi-e-Yabas), he would be illiterate, ill-mannered and ill-faced having small pox on his head. If you see him, he would then look like one-eye binded (Kana in Urdu), he would appear in Damascus and sit on the minbar of Damascus.
Events mentioned before his appearance:
According to Imam Ali a.s quotation (summary): Shaam (Syria) would be rattled by a horrific earth quake leading to the killing of 1 million people. After this, you would see white/black vehicles (vehicles without ears and tails) coming from the West (Magrib) having Yellow colored flags in their hands and they would start killing from the West part and reaches to Syria. When you see this, you should wait for the land (named as Marmarsa or Harasta) near Damascus to be buried into the ground. When this happens you would see Sufyani would rise from the deep of Damascus, Syria.
Journey of Sufyani (RAJAB - RABI UL AWWAL)
Sufyani will appear in the scenes to destroy Ashab and Abqa in islamic month of Rajab (as mentioned above). Riwayats says that the all of the 3 including Abqa and Ashab would create a menace just because they wanted to rule the Syria. Sufyani would kill the both parties and win over them. One thing to remember is that Sufyani wouldn't rule more than 9 months(mentioned frequently by imams). There is a gap of 6 months of his appearance and Imam's reappearance.
Sufyani in Syria:
Sufyani would be well received and supported by the majority and so does he win over Ashab and Abqa. Further more, Sufyani would be very powerful and the frequent Ahadith claims that Sufyani would be able to invade 5 places including: Damascus, Homs, Urdun (Jordan), Qansarin (Aleppo I think) and Iraq.
Sufyani in Iraq:
After taking over Jordan, Sufyani would then move to the Iraq where there will be many groups fighting including Rome (West - USA/Britain/France/Europe) and Turks (Russians) and Iraq forces. They all would lose man power because there would be a horrific bloodshed killing thousands. After this, Sufyani would enter Iraq, defeats Yamani and the lands where Yamani have already secured its positions till they reach Kufa where Sufyani would kill Shias ruthlessly and will call for people to bring them the heads of Shias to get a reward in return. There will be certain uprisings against Sufyani in Iraq but Sufyani would prove more powerful.
Sufyani in Iran:
After so much success, Sufyani would be greedy to attack Iran and hence move towards Shiraz, Iran where he would fight withSeyyed Khurasani.
Sufyani in Hijaz (Saudi Arabia):
Sufyani's faction of army would march towards Medina but Imam would have already appeared in at that time in Makkah and would wait till the Sufyani's army (Sufyani wouldn't be there in the army sent to Hijaaz) would grounded between Mecca and Medina. There are also claims that Sufyani's army would destroy Medina for 30 days. That army of Sufyani will then move to Mecca where they will be buried down into the ground.
Raamallah (Israel/Palestine) would be the last stop of Sufyani because after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi a.s he would leave Makkah and then move towards Raamallah (Israel/Palestine) recapturing every region under Sufyanis control. This would be the end of Sufyani's 9 months and the beginning of the world wide revolution of confronting USA (Romis) and Israel (Yahoodis).
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(ISIS LIVE MAP)
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Grading Hadiths: An Introduction
Biographical evaluation (`ilm ad-diraya, `ilm ar-rijal) exists both in Sunni and Shi`i branches, and it refers to the strengthening and weakening of individual narrators & transmitters, and chains of transmission (isnad, or plural: asaneed). The purpose of the system is to grade hadith reports based on the trustworthiness of its transmitters. To summarize the Sunni system, all companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - ie all of those who have been in his presence at some point in his life - are considered trustworthy (thiqa). These companions then narrated their traditions to their pupils, family members, and associates. They would then pass it down until they reached a compiler of hadiths, usually in oral form, but sometimes written.
The Sunni system excels in its biographical documentation because it covers a vast amount of individuals, giving relevant data about many people. But the system does have its flaws:
1) We don't consider all companions to be trustworthy; and we particularly distrust those who have directly oppressed the Prophet's family.
2) The culture of memorizing, transmitting, and documenting hadiths did not receive widespread popularity until the 2nd century AH. Therefore, the careful preservation of these hadiths are in question. Sunni isnads tend to be long, transmitted orally over centuries.
3) Strengthening (tawtheeq) is based mainly on scholarly opinion, with much disagreement.
Shi`i hadiths take a different approach. The vast majority of Shi`i hadiths come from one of the twelve Imams. The Shi`a hold the belief of a golden chain, which is the chain from one of the Imams that goes through his forefathers back to the Prophet (pbuh). Through the hadith of thaqalayn, the Prophet established that the Qur'an and Ahl al-Bayt are what the Muslims must hold onto, and that the two are one in essence. The Ahl al-Bayt are (at least primarily) the 12 Imams + Fatima (as). In many hadiths, the Prophet aligned himself with `Ali and Fatima, saying the truth is with them, that whoever angers them angers the Prophet, that opposing them is hypocrisy and disbelief, etc. The tying of truth with `Ali, the Mahdi, etc. gives them high authoritative value. The Imams have said in many hadiths that all they say and do comes from the Prophet. Many times, they quoted the Prophet directly, and they have said that all quotations of the Prophet come from their golden chain to him. Likewise, as infallible guides, all that they say and do is from the Qur'an and Sunna, and therefore their words are taken as proof (hujja) for all religious matters.
This means that the relation of hadiths in Shiism took place over a 300+ year period rather than just a 23 year period. Surely, the religion was completed and perfected by the end of the holy Prophet's lifetime. That same religion was relayed by the Imams. As hadith narration became popular in the second century AH, thousands of students studied under the 5th and 6th Imams. Together, al-Baqir and as-Sadiq narrated tens of thousands of hadiths on all topics - `aqeeda, fiqh, tafsir, history, eschatology, and more. The Imams gave their students the explicit instruction to write their words down, memorize their hadiths, and spread the knowledge to the people. Hence, the hadith collection process began in their lifetimes. The earliest available Shi`i notebook (usl) dates back to the time of the 4th Imam. By the occultation of the 12th Imam, over 300 of such usool existed. Unlike Sunni tradition, the hadiths were mostly not transmitted orally between the Prophet and a third century compiler. Rather, the hadiths came mainly from the Imams, and most of them were copied down during the time of the Imams. In some books, the chains of narrators are considerably shorter than in Sunni books. The time between the narration of the hadith and its compilation is also much smaller.
As noted earlier, not all companions of the Prophet - or the Imams - are considered reliable. Their veracity and loyalty to Ahl al-Bayt must be proven. There are many ways that a hadith narrator is given tawtheeq:
1. The Imams directly gave tawtheeq to some people.
2. The Imams gave taraddi (expressing God's satisfaction) and tarahhum (asking God's mercy) to some people.
3. Like in Sunni rijal, the scholars would give tawtheeq to people or weaken them, based on their biographical data, beliefs, actions, who they associate with, etc.
4. The clients, messengers, and tax-collectors of the Imams were largely given tawtheeq.
5. People can be given tawtheeq through other thiqa people.
6. People can be given tawtheeq if they are relied upon by major trustworthy companions of the Imams (as`hab al-ijma`)
And many other means.
There are certain levels that a narrator can embody.
1. A narrator can be considered thiqa. This means the narrator is trustworthy in what he narrates. Non-Shi`is can be considered thiqa, but this will be noted in the grading of the chain. A sahih chain is one where all the rijal are Imami Shi`a. A muwathaq chain is a chain that is all thiqa, but may include trustworthy Sunnis, Zaydis, Fat`his, Waqifis, etc.
2. A narrator can be considered `aadil or faadil or mamdooh which means that he is a just and good person, but his explicit tawtheeq cannot be established. This makes a chain hasan in grading.
3. A narrator can be considered dha`eef, which means he is weak. Either he is known for lying and bad character, or he is associated with the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (nawasib, or ghulat - Shi`i extremists), or both.
4. A narrator can be considered majhool, which means we may know some biographical details about the person, but not enough to establish trustworthiness or lack thereof.
There is a theory called as`hab al-ijma` that is used by a minority of scholars. The as`hab al-ijma` are a list of 18 companions of five of the Imams who are considered very trustworthy central figures of the sect. This method says: any hadith that is authentic up to one of these 18 can be accepted. Even if one of these 18 individuals narrate from someone without tawtheeq, the idea is that they would not relate a hadith unless it had value - as they were close, accepted, and tested supporters of the Imams. However, to be safe and cautious, many rijal scholars do not use this method.
The hadiths parimarily came from the Imams during their time in Medina. Their Shi`i partisans were mainly Kufan visitors who would go to Medina, stay for a while, gather knowledge and bring it back to Kufa. As mentioned before, Kufa and Baghdad were an Islamic powerhouse during the second century AH, and most of what was written in the early period in both sects was in Iraq and Persia. That is where most Muslim scholars came from and most Islamic books were written. Thus, the tradition survives through this transmission. From Kufa, the hadiths also went to Qum when Ibrahim b. Hashim and others took their traditions there. There were thousands of Shi`as in Iraq during the time of the 6th Imam, and many hundreds of his companions were Kufan transmitters of hadiths.
A hadith or concept that is narrated through multiple chains is mutawater (widely narrated). `Aqeeda must be established on mutawater traditions. Fiqh however can be established throug ahad (single-authority) traditions.
There are some issues with rijal. We should recognize that it is still a man-made system and will have its faults. The main fault in Shi`i rijal is that there are too many majhool narrators, because the Ahl al-Bayt had thousands of students, and the status of many of them was not known to the scholars of rijal. Also, different scholars had different opinions on certain narrators. There are also some manuscript discrepancies in the works of some rijal scholars (most prominently, Ibn al-Ghada'iri's). Sometimes we don't have as many biographical details as we want. Rijal scholars largely lived after the people they had written about were dead. However, the system can weed out contradictions and strengthen established concepts. It is also an insurance that what we believe and practice was what the best of the Muslims believed and practiced.
The gradings of narrators are usually extrapolated from the biographical information provided by major Shi`i classical scholars of rijal. These scholars include Najashi (~ d. 1058), whose gradings are usually preferred, Ibn al-Ghada'iri (11th century), Shaykh al-Tusi (d. 1067), and Kashhi (d. 951). It is recorded that Shaykh al-Kulayni, the compiler of al-Kafi, and Shaykh as-Saduq had their own books of rijal, but those book have not survived. Furthermore, some scholars have accepted all of the narrators who have been included in Tafsir al-Qummi and Kamil az-Ziyarat, under the belief that the authors of these works have only included reliable narrators. Later scholars who have contributed to the science include `Allamah al-Hilli (d. 14th century), `Allamah al-Majlisi (d. 17th century), Shaykh Bahbudi (d. 20th century), Sayyid Burujirdi (d. 20th century), al-Khoei (d. 20th century), Muhammad Taqi al-Tustari (d. 20th century) Shaykh Asif Muhsini, Shaykh ar-Radi, Shaykh as-Sanad, and many others.
It should be noted that the authors of the Four Books - Kulayni, Saduq, and Tusi - took rijal seriously. They believed that their books were filtered enough to represent Twelver Shiism, even for lay use. Kulayni in particular viewed his work as sahih in content. Many attested to the works of these scholars and others. While some later scholars have weakened many narrations in the Four Books based on a strict adherence to classical rijal standards, this standard is seen by some scholars to be too stringent and unnecessary. Still, the study of rijal provides a wealth of information on our sources, and it remains a critical tool for scholars and seminarians.
That is some [very] basic information on rijal in Shiism - inshaAllah it is helpful to some.
Ali al-Abdullah 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.
Ali al-Abdullah 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.
Ali al-Abdullah reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, A Guide to Sunni Trends
The Sunni Muslim world, as I see it, is divided up into the following social categories. Below are the major trends that run through this segment of the Umma.
Madhhabi Sunnis: Anyone belonging to the traditional Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools, including both conservative and nominal Muslims. Madhhabi Sunnis usually express their religion through devoted worship, spirituality, and traditional law-abidance. Many sub-movements fit in this category, including most Sufis, the mystical Barelvi movement, the Deobandi movement, and those who are simply culturally Muslim. Madhhabi Sunnis are usually suspicious of Salafi, Shia, and modernist ideas and traditions, but still advocate for Muslim unity; agreeing to disagree with competing trends. Some nominal Madhhabis are influenced by Salafi revivalism and conservatism. Sufis in particular are often politically quietist and pacifistic, and have a balanced but positive view of classical Islamic civilizations.
Popular examples: Hamza Yusuf, Yahya Rhodus, Timothy Winters, Zaid Shakir, Umar Abd-Allah, Shabir Ally, Usama Canon, Suhaib Webb, Faraz Rabbani, Amjad Tarsin.
Salafis: Those who try to pursue a literal interpretation of Sunni Islam based on its most established primary hadith sources. Salafis are suspicious of secondary sources, philosophy, mysticism, traditional Sunni schools, saint-reverence, forms of religious expressions that are not explicitly supported by "sahih" Sunni hadiths, and other sects and religions. Salafis usually express their religion through theological discourse, worship, strict adherence to early practices (including having a "Muslim appearance"), and clamping down on "innovations" in Islamic practice (i.e. anything in a hadith they consider "weak", or not found in their most literal interpretations). Salafis have three noticeable sub-movements: (1) the Wahabis, who follow the Najdi Saudi theologians; (2) apolitical non-Wahabi Salafis, who follow non-Najdi figures, are focused mostly on theology and law, and are critical of Saudi Arabia's royal family and state-sponsored scholars, and (3) Militant Salafis, who seek to revive the Caliphate, establish puritan Islamic states, resist Western imperialism, and punish deviant and nominal Muslims. Salafis are very critical of Sufis and Shias, and often push for the destruction of their relics.
Popular examples: Bilal Philips, Abu Khadeejah, Yasir Qadhi, Abdur Raheem Green, Zakir Naik, Feiz Mohammed, Abu Musab Wajdi Akkari, Abu Isa Niamatullah.
Liberal Reformists: This includes Quranists and other reformists, who have a modernist humanist worldview, and see many Islamic laws and practices as outdated or obsolete. Liberal Reformists are focused on social justice and ethical principles inspired by the Quran. They are skeptical of hadith literature, Islamic scholarship, mysticism, sectarianism, and some jurisprudence. Liberal Reformists are especially critical of traditional penalties (hudud), extremism, radicalization, and laws related to gender and sexuality. The Quran is viewed as a flexible, progressive document that mostly lacks the rigidity of Islamic laws.
Popular examples: Mona Eltahawy, Irshad Manji, Maajid Nawaz, Tarek Fatah, Amina Wadud, Asra Nomani, Michael Muhammad Knight, Khalid Abou El Fadl
Muslim Brotherhood Types: They are often unaffiliated with the actual MB, but hold the same pragmatist and anti-imperialist sentiments. They are a middle-upper class educated movement that focuses on social conservatism, harmonizing modernism and traditionalism, international politics, and social justice. The MB types believe in family values, scientific/technological progress and development, and quasi-Marxist-Leninist domestic and international policies (big welfare governments and anti-Western imperialism). They are critical of Salafi puritanism, Sufi mysticism, and Shia Iran's encroachment of the Arab world. The MB types often admire the Turkish, Tunisian, and Malaysian Islamic models, which are pluralistic yet respect Islamic tradition. They are often nostalgic of Islamic civilization's golden age.
Popular examples: Tariq Ramadan, Jamal Badawi, Dalia Mogahed, Anas al-Tikriti, Jonathan Brown
Most Sunni Muslims are not very conscious of these divisions. They usually don't identify themselves with one of these labels, and all 4 trends coexist in most Sunni nations and communities. The trends also have some overlaps, and there are people that are a blend of multiple trends. Sunni scholars are more aware of the red lines due to their epistemological significance. But many Sunnis are subject to the influence of Gulf petrodollars, and therefore will take on some Salafi cliches without noticing it (or just seeing it as becoming "more religious"). I call this "Casual Salafism" - speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusuf Estes, Ismail Menk, or Omar Suleiman, who are more laid-back and popular with the youth, but still have a Salafi epistemology and Salafi influences in their material.
Being conscious of these trends will allow us to better understand whom we can work with and whom we should best avoid.