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In the Name of God بسم الله
Netzari reacted to Ali for a blog entry, The Story of ShiaChat.com - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
[This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama! I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all.
In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was. Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) - I digress.
Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia. (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups. This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”. The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client. It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room. Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.). Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years. I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people. Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.
In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia. As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam. As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style. Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
A thought occurred to me. Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use? The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today. The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users. I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
[More to follow, Part 2..]
So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?
Netzari reacted to Yoel for a blog entry, Talmud and Zionism
Reposting my old post and summarizing some comments to it.
Quite a few Christians, especially Protestants, claim the following combination of beliefs that I find highly disturbing:
1) That “pharisaic” Judaism and its central text, Talmud, are “satanic”
2) That Islam is similar to Talmudic Judaism and therefore, by extension, is also “satanic”
3) That the entire world must support the state of “Israel” and that Palestinians are bad, because they don't support it.
Since I studied in traditional anti-Zionist rabbinical institutions, I am well familiar with this topic and I would like to say a few words about it.
Interestingly enough, these beliefs represent in a distilled form the original core idea of Zionism and demonstrate its origins very well. In colonial times, various British and American Protestant theologians of the early 19th century started spreading the idea of the “restoration of the Jews”. Based on their peculiar interpretation of the Christian Bible, they came to believe that if the Jews will gather in Palestine and establish there their own state, such event would trigger the Second Coming of Christ. Apparently, this idea originated from the Catholic Jesuit circles, but found a solid ground among the Anglo-Saxon Protestants, some of whom came to believe to another weird idea that they are the descendents of the original Hebrew tribes and therefore have the right to control Palestine. This website has a large collection of historical articles about these developments within Protestant groups.
Contrary to Judaism, these people viewed Jews as a race and not a religion. The colonial West in the 18th and 19th centuries was in general obsessed with racial and nationalist theories. The Church condemned the Jewish Talmud since the Middle Ages, primarily because it sharply criticizes the Christian Trinity doctrine and because is written is a style that most Christian couldn't comprehend. After the series of liberal revolutions, more and more assimilated Jews became emancipated in the Western society, but due to the spread of nationalism, new anti-Jewish currents emerged in the West. In contrast to traditional anti-Judaism of the Church, these new currents were based on racial mythologies.
Some assimilated Jews picked up the “brilliant” solution that early Christian Zionists offered for them: to establish their own state, based on the “enlightened” Western values of secular nationalism and colonial attitudes to non-Western people. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, wanted originally to convert all Jews to Christianity, but later modified his views and supported “plain” secularization. Here comes a major paradox: those British and American Christians who supported this idea really wanted the Jews (and everyone in the world) to become Christians, but wished them to move to Palestine, where they could serve as allies of the colonial West. They didn't want anything “Talmudic”; they just wanted to create another “civilized” Western colonial state like South Africa.
Traditional Talmudic Jews, on their hand, were totally opposed to Zionism, because the Talmud explicitly forbids this idea of gathering in Palestine and establishing their own state. This idea contradicts the basic Jewish belief that only the true Redeemer sent from God can gather them in a miraculous way and even that is not universally accepted. According to some more esoteric Jewish teachings, the future messianic Redemption of universal harmony will transcend state politics altogether.
This is the real Zionist “conspiracy”: the entire Zionist movement started as a result of cooperation between Anglo-Saxon Protestants and anti-traditional assimilated Jewish nationalists. The Talmud as such plays no role in classical Zionism, except that some isolated concepts from it were adopted as secularized slogans, often in a completely twisted fashion. 90% of Jewish Zionists, let alone the Christian ones, are unable to read the Talmud at all. At best, they may consider it an important historical piece of Jewish literature. Typical high-rank supporters of the Zionist state like bankers and politicians are usually totally secular and have no serious Jewish education. As long as they thinks and acts like their right-wing Protestant Christian fellow ruthless businessmen, they are “cool”. If they would act "Talmudic", they wouldn't fit into the club.
Since the Zionists captured and twisted the minds of many Jews, new heretical varieties of Judaism emerged from this confusion. Such notorious fascists as Baruch Goldstein or Meir Kahane undoubtedly considered themselves followers of the Talmud. We hear now chief rabbis and famous religious figures supporting Zionism and spreading hatred against the Palestinians and Muslims. How did this happen? Simple enough and in some ways quite similar to Wahhabi currents in Islam.
The Talmudic corpus and related literature is a very large and complicated collection of texts, which may be compared to the Muslim Hadith collections. The Quran (5:32) contains an explicit quote from the Talmud and affirms the basic traditional Jewish belief that the Talmud contains supplemental parts of Moses' prophecy, which has been transmitted through oral narration. The above verse is found only in the Talmudic literature and not anywhere in the Bible. A number of other verses in Quran also have parallels in the Talmud and not found in the Scripture.
Besides orally transmitted information from the prophets, the Talmud contains many legal decisions that the Talmudic sages derived using certain logical rules, which were also transmitted from Moses. It also contains historical rabbinical decrees, esoteric interpretations of the Scripture, theological and ethical discussions, various folk legends and even ancient medicinal remedies. Those Christians who tried to study the Talmud and came to hate it didn't get what it is all about. The Talmudic literature is a extremely large and diverse collection of discussions about all sorts of things, recorded during many centuries mostly in Persia and written in a very Persian multilayer story-inside-story style. The largest and most reliable collection is called “Bavli”, which means the Babylonian or Iranian Talmud. It's written mostly in Sassanian dialects of Aramaic, not in Hebrew.
Practical law or advices comprise only a fraction of the Talmud and are a matter of debates and analysis. Many narrations and interpretations are rejected by the Talmudic text itself, but were still considered worth recording or allowing an esoteric interpretation. In some cases, parallel narrations allow to decide, which variant is more reliable in practice. A number of schools within Judaism, somewhat like Islamic madhhabs, derive various laws from the Talmud by somewhat different rules. One school considers a certain narrator or some text more practically reliable than another etc.
No one in traditional Judaism, since the Middle Ages, derives any law directly from the Talmud without consulting first classic commentators and existing practical legal literature. Proper understanding of the Talmud requires years of systematic study and reading lots of commentaries.
Maybe, this link to another Shiachat thread could help the readers to understand where most of these old Christian accusations come from. Anti-Muslim writers use the Ahadith in the same exact fashion, taking things out of context or by amplifying weak rejected narrations.
Many Talmudic discussions are related to similar theoretical issues. Capital punishment was abolished in Judaism about 2000 years ago, because no one is considered righteous enough to serve as a judge or witness for such serious cases. Even when capital punishment existed, it was very rarely practiced by the line of tradition that became what's known today as rabbinical Judaism. Only very directly committed offenses, with at least two righteous male witnesses and a proper warning, could lead to death penalty. In many cases, the Talmud discusses, whether some weird and disgusting actions could be punished, in theory, by a human court, or whether one who did them may perform certain religious rituals. Such discussions also help to understand the metaphysical, philosophical and esoteric underpinnings of various laws.
One classic example that Christians constantly use against the Talmud is that a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from death penalty. First of all, some commentators explain that it only applies to people who worship idols and have no morality, and not to Christians and Muslims. Murder of a Jew or non-Jew is a terrible sin, whether punishable by human means or not. Second, the Talmud lists many other situations when a murderer is exempt from penalty. The general line in the Talmud is to find all possible ways and arguments to avoid death penalty. A court who would kill even one person in 70 years would be considered a “bloody court” and some sages provided a logic that, in Islamic terms, avoids “hudud” altogether.
Another classic example Christians use against the Talmud that it allegedly teaches that sex with a girl below 3 years is permitted. Absolutely not! What it says that if such undoubtedly disgusting act happened, the girl would still be considered a virgin and her honor would not be blemished.
The main and most famous complaint against the Talmud is its alleged teachings of Jewish supremacy. The Talmud never considers non-Jews “subhuman”. That's simply a fabrication. But it does contain pretty harsh statements about idol worshipers and teachings about the Jews' being a people who receive special and unique blessings from God, if they carefully follow Judaism.
One main source of controversy and potential misunderstanding is that the Talmudic texts sometimes conflate the terms "goy" (non-Jew) and "akum" (abbreviation of "Star worshippers"), because most non-Jews, when the Talmud was written, were "by default" idol worshippers of various kinds. Careful analysis of parallel narrations shows that all this negative stuff is about idolaters. The Talmud praises non-Jewish monotheists, including some Persian kings and other people.
Another example. Current standard editions of the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) contain the following: Therefore, humans were created singly, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had destroyed a full world; and whoever saves one soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if she had saved a full world. The oldest version of this Talmudic quote correspond exactly to the Quran 5:32 and don't mention Jews in particular. The Yerushalmi Talmud, the Midrashim and several other parallel transmissions of this quote also don't mention the word "Israel". Even in the case of the common Babylonian Talmud editions, this quote makes a difference between Jews and immoral non-believers, but does not, exclude non-Jews who practice an ethical monotheistic religion, as it is easy to prove by the internal logic of the same Talmudic tract, which praises non-Jewish monotheists and equated them with the Jewish High Priest who served at the Jerusalem Temple (Sanhedrin 59a). In Islamic terms, this is an example of a "weak Hadith".
The basic practical Talmudic structure of categories of believers/unbelievers, as their are interpreted in Judaism, goes as follows:
Torah-observant Jews, who receive special blessings for following Moses' prophecy. A convert to Judaism is a Jew. According to traditional Judaism, it doesn't matter, whether Jews today are descendents of the ancient Hebrews or Khazars or Romans.
Righteous non-Jews, who follow the prophecy of Noah and receive special blessings. Muslims are usually included in this category or in a somewhat different respected category of people. Trinitarian Christians are included by many opinions, but it's a matter of debate. Some schools of thought completely equate Muslims and Christians with the Jews on social and spiritual level. More liberal rabbinical authorities include all ethical people into this category, including polytheists and atheists, using basic ethics as the main criterion of righteousness. I personally agree with this opinion. It's a duty for Jews to support, love, help, treat well, respect all good people.
Classic idolaters of Antiquity. In times of peace, Jews must treat them well and with hospitality, deal with them fairly, help their poor, but the basic attitude is to stay away from them, not to get too friendly and not to help them too much.
Ex-Jewish outright heretics and non-believers. The worst category in the Talmud. No love, no good treatment here. According to some hardcore opinions, they may be killed even without a court decree. To secular Jewish readers: No, neither me nor most Orthodox Jews today accept this attitude. People get confused and come up with all sorts of ideas. Some atheist definitions of nature or philosophical ground of being are more theologically sound than some other people's weird ideas about God, who may better decide, who is a heretic and who is not. The “gray zone”:
Many classic sources of rabbinical law say that the Talmud condemns only the seven ancient Canaanite tribes who practiced human sacrifices or other ancient nations like the Romans who would come to a circus to entertain themselves watching animals tearing people apart or forcing slaves to fight each other to death. So, even someone would erect today a statue, proclaim it as a deity and bow to it, there is still room to disregard this behavior, love and respect such a person. Or, esoterically, one may say that everything is a reflection of God's names and this person in his heart really worships God. On the other hand, because the status of Trinitarian Christianity is a matter a debate in Judaism and because the Church systematically persecuted, killed, tortured and humiliated the Jews until recent times, there are many Orthodox Jews who avoid having close friendship with Christians and have negative opinions of their religion. For Christian readers: No, I don't agree with this attitude and many Orthodox Jews don't. But there is enough room for opposite opinions here. More inclusively minded Orthodox Jews tend to value ethical behavior over religious beliefs, while more hardcore Orthodox tend to regard people as heretics and idolaters for any slight deviation. In any case, traditional Judaism requires to treat everyone nicely and fairly. Traditionally, Islam was always considered the closest religion to Judaism. Christianity, on the other hand, was often viewed negatively, although there are many highly positive opinions on it, i.e. by Menachem Meiri, Jacob Emden and Elia Benamozegh. Very many classic commentaries to the Torah and Talmud were written in Muslim countries, often originally in Arabic. Most classical schools of rabbinical law were established in Muslim countries.
The Zionists turned the Jewish history upside down. They discarded the long history of Jewish-Islamic cultural synthesis and invented the myth of “Judeo-Christian” civilization. Classical Judaism with its Talmud, which explicitly forbids the Jews to create a state in Palestine and which was written in a “politically incorrect” region (Iraq and Iran), has no place in classical secular Zionism.
But here comes a surprising twist. After the Nazi genocide of millions of European Jews, the Zionist movement captured the attention of most Jews who were well familiar with the long history of traditional Christian anti-Jewish hatred. But the Zionist's best allies and the originators of their ideology were some Protestant sects who don't exactly like Judaism. So the Zionists projected the history of Christian anti-Jewish persecution on the Muslims. To be fair, persecutions did happen under various Muslim rulers, but they were not nearly as common as in the Christian world and they were actions of certain corrupt individuals and not an integral doctrine of religion. The Jews perfectly understood that, but the Zionists seized the moment after the Nazi genocide and managed to confuse many people. Another factor that helped this confusion was that the governments in some Muslim countries made the conditions of the local Jewish communities unbearable after the Zionist state was established and forced them to leave the Arab countries. This was a very bad move, which only popularized Zionism and helped to created this new myth of anti-Jewish Muslim hatred. The final factor is the Salafi/Wahhabi type of Muslims who basically copied the old Christian hatred against the Jews. So, two very anti-traditional and somewhat similar movements, both strangely connected to Anglo-Saxon Protestantism in their ideology - Wahhabism and Zionist pseudo-religion - started fighting each other and polluting the world with their ideas.
As a result of all that, new forms of “religious” Zionists emerged. All negativity against the idolaters and oppressive types of Christians that one can find throughout the history of Judaism was redirected in a highly amplified and concentrated form to the Muslims. The fact that this negativity has to do with theology (idols and Trinity) was ignored. On the contrary, Muslims became somehow equated in this Zionist twisted version of Judaism with the worst kind of idolaters, who should be normally still treated nicely and without trying to dominate them. But here is a catch: one may kill “even the best of idolaters”, according to the Talmud, during a military combat. The “religious” Zionists declared that their state is in constant war with the Muslims who want to kill all Jews. Such twisted logic basically gives a license to kill. The same exact logic is used by Wahhabis who removed the concept of “Ahl Al-Kitab” from their version of Islam and consider everyone at permanent war with Muslims.
There is a good book written by Yakov Rabkin, A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, which explains how traditional Judaism and Zionism are totally incompatible. The author is an Orthodox Jew and a history professor. I strongly don't recommend books written by anti-religious authors (Israel Shahak) or fanatical right-wing Christians (David Duke, Israel Shamir), because such authors usually have no serious knowledge of Judaism and often promote hatred against both Jews and Muslims under a mask of “anti-Zionism”.
I hope this rough introduction is clear enough. If people here will find these topics interesting, we could go into more detailed discussions. There also also esoteric trends in Judaism, kind of similar to Bektashis or Alawites, who tend to emphasize things like personal devotion and non-literal interpretations over fixed rules.
My main interest on this forum is not battling Zionism. I am trying to apply Henry Corbin's methodology to Jewish philosophy and esoterica, and I find studies of Hadith and Irfan in comparison to Talmud and Kabbalah very refreshing and important.
Netzari 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.
Netzari 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.