000 reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Identity Politics
Activists today talk much of identity politics. Identity politics, also called identitarian politics, refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.
You may have heard people "identify as a gay person", or "identify as a black nationalist", or "identify as a vegetarian", or identify themselves with a certain race, nationality, creed, economic class, or ideology. They are then expected to behave and dress according to the mores of that identity. Discovering oneself is indeed a necessary process in the journey of life. It is common for Westerners to travel around Europe, flirt with Indian mysticism, or teach in east Asia in an effort to "find" themselves.
So what is our true Islamic identity? One may say Shia, but to be a Shia of `Ali (a) means much more than to belong to a certain minority community. The Shia are an elite nucleus of believers. One may say Muslim, but even prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma`il (a) had to pray for Allah to make them into Muslims - submitters to the will of Allah.
The answer to this question may be in the famous saying, “Whoso knows his self, assuredly knows his Lord.”
There are differences of opinion on the true meaning of this quote, but the commentary of this saying that this servant finds most consistent with the tradition is that of Shaykh al-Awhad Ahmad al-Ahsai. He says that the statement expresses conditionality (ta`leeq) to gnosis. The prophets, messengers, and deputies had a self-awareness, believing that their selves were a part of a grander creation, whose origin is Allah. He cites 41:53, 18:51, and a du`a’ of the 12th Imam that put the nafs alongside the rest of creation as temporal signs of an eternal God.
Ahsai brings forward a similar hadith attributed to the Prophet Dawud, in which he says “Whoso knows the ignorance of his self, assuredly knows the strength of his Lord. And, whoso knows the incapacity of his self, assuredly knows the power of his Lord.” This is an expression of the weak, limitedness of man, which thus highlights the strength and capacity of Allah.
This means that one must acknowledge the fact that he was created, and therefore, he is a finite and limited being in need of a Creator and Sustainer. One must realize the limits of his own power and his intelligence to understand He who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. That is the beginning of the process of ma`rifa - cognizance of the Divine - where one surrenders himself in faith and in action to Absolute Perfection.
So the true identity that a person must recognize is that they are a created servant who is in total need of God. We say "ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh" in the tashahhud, which acknowledges the servitude of Muhammad (s) to his Lord. This servitude is the key to true greatness, because one who is a slave to God cannot be a slave to worldliness. All people surrender, whether to their own desires or to an outside force, but if one's reliance is completely on Allah, he will be free from obeying others. One who fears only Allah does not fear anything else, which elevates his status in the creation. It is out of Prophet Muhammad's sincere service to Allah that made him the best of creation.
Returning to postmodern identity politics: identifying yourself with what you eat or who you have sex with is very shallow. Food and sex are functions of the lower self. Identifying with a race is identifying with an accidental characteristic of yourself rather than your essential nature. As much as these "groups" may be relevant in today's world, we should not be fixated on `asabiyya (tribalism, group mentality), which was the underlining feature of jahiliyya. Identity politics can blind us from ethics, which is rooted more in verbs and adverbs than in nouns and pronouns. It can cause irreparable division and segregation. And finally, it can cause us to lose focus of our purpose and goal: ma`rifa.
"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me." (51:56)
000 reacted to Khomeinist for a blog entry, The Night Love
When Imam as-Sajjad (as) used to gaze up at the night sky, he would address his Lord saying: O' my Lord! The stars of your sky have set, and the eyes of your creation have closed to rest. Kings have locked their gates, but your gate is always open to those who ask. Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى in the Holy Qu'ran reminds us of how he close is to his servants:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ
O'Muhammad and when my servants ask you about Me, indeed I am close. I answer the supplication of the one who supplicates.
My dear brothers & sisters, Allah is near, but we have not appreciated the joy of divine proximity. Muslim philosophers maintain that the goal of God's creative activity, is not as some might think for simply to be a World out there, but rather for Allah and his loved ones to come together as we were before creation. This is the underlying message of the phrase:
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
We belong to God, and to Him we shall return
The famous persian poet Rumi explains this scheme of love. All of us used to be fish, swimming in the ocean of towheed. Unaware of our difference from the water. Then Allah threw us upon dry land, the realm of seperation, longing, pain and suffering. Only by tasting seperation, can we remember the joy of water and desire to return to it. Once we return, we will swim in the ocean of Towheed again, with full awareness of the joy of consummated love.
In a famous tradition Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى reveals to Musa (a) saying:
ذَبَ مَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يُحِبُّنِي فَإِذَا جَنَّهُ اللَّيْلُ نَامَ عَنِّي ، أَ لَيْسَ كُلُّ مُحِبٍّ يُحِبُّ خَلْوَةَ حَبِيبِهِ
O'Musa! The one who claims to love me, speaks a lie. For when night sets, he sleeps and forgets me.. is it not that every lover wishes to be alone with his beloved?
My dear brothers & sisters, let us take advantage of the night and whisper to our Beloved because the night is when the lovers meet and it is imperative that we make Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى the object of our love... Wa sallallahu ala Muhammad wa ala tahirin.
000 reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, Uthman the ‘brother’ of Ali?
ذهبت ولم تلبس منها بشيء
The prophet when the body of Uthman passed by: “You have gone without involving yourself in any of it (the Dunya)”
A Monastic Life?
Uthman loved to worship Allah, this reached such an extent that he decided to lead a monastic lifestyle and disengage himself from all the fleeting things of this world including conjugal relations. The prophet intervened to explain to him why that would be against the Sunna.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: The wife of Uthman b. Madh`un came to the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله and said: O messenger of Allah, Uthman b. Madh`un fasts in the day time and spends the whole night standing in worship, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله came out whilst angry and carrying his slippers [in his hands] until he reached Uthman and found him praying. When Uthman saw that it was the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله he cut-off his prayer. He [the prophet] said to him: O Uthman, Allah the Exalted did not send me with monasticism rather he sent me with a simple and lenient Hanifiyya. I fast and pray but also interact with my wives, so whoever loves my character should follow my Sunna, and marriage is part of my Sunna.
- Sa`ib b. Abi al-Waqqas said: When the affair of Uthman b. Madh`un - who was one of those who abandoned women - occurred, the messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وآله sent for him and said: O Uthman, I have not been ordered to lead a monastic life, do you seek something else apart from my Sunna? He said: No, O messenger of Allah. He [the prophet] said: part of my Sunna is to pray and then sleep, I sometimes fast and at other times eat, I marry and divorce, so whoever seeks something apart from my Sunna then he is not from me. O Uthman, your wife has a right over you, and your own body has a right over you. Sa`d said: by Allah, there was a group of Muslim men who were ready and willing to castrate themselves and become celibate if the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله had allowed Uthman to continue in what he had done.
- Uthman b. Madh`un said: O messenger of Allah - I desire to to become celibate, the prophet said: wait Uthman, the celibacy of my Umma is fasting and prayers. Uthman said: I desire to lead a wandering life [like some monks], the prophet said: wait Uthman, the wandering life of my Umma is to remain in the Masjid and wait for the next Salat after the last one finishes. Uthman said: I desire not to eat meat [to become a vegetarian], the prophet said: wait Uthman, for I myself do eat meat and enjoy it, if I could have it every day I would, and if I were to ask Allah for that He would give it to me. Uthman said: O prophet of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you - I desire not to use perfume ever, the prophet said: wait Uthman, for I do use perfume and I like fragrance, and it is my Sunna and the Sunna of the prophets before me.
The Prophet’s Grief
Uthman participated in the battle of Badr in the year 2 AH and went on to die soon after, becoming the first Muhajir to die in Madina and the first to be buried in Baqi. The prophet grieved at his death.
- Aisha said: I saw the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم kissing the dead of body of Uthman b. Madh`un until I saw his tears flowing.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه kissed Uthman b. Madh`un after his death.
How do you Know?
There is an interesting exchange which happened between the prophet and a woman after Uthman's death.
- Abi Abdillah عليه السلام said: the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله heard a woman saying after the death of Uthman b. Madh`un: glad tidings of paradise to you O Abu al-Sa`ib [i.e. Uthman]! so the prophet said to her: and how do you know [that he is in paradise]? it is enough for you to say: he used to love Allah Mighty and Majestic and His prophet …
The prophet rebuked the woman to teach us to avoid complacency and a false sense of security.
The prophet did not leave the grave of Uthman without marking it so that he can recognize its location and come visit him.
- Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died, the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله kissed him, and when he had buried him he sprinkled water on top of the soil of the grave and stretched out a piece of cloth over the grave. He [Uthman] was the first person over whose grave the prophet stretched out a cloth. The prophet went on to level the soil of the grave, then he called for a stone, it was said: O messenger of Allah - what will you do with it? he said: I will mark his grave by it so that I can bury my relations near him, then he placed the stone near the head of the grave.
- al-Muttalib said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died, his body was taken out in a procession and was buried. Then the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله ordered a man to bring him a stone, but the man was not able to carry it, so the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله stood himself, went towards it and rolled up his sleeves - [al-Mutallib said: the one who reported this to me about the messenger of Allah said: it is as though I can still see the whitness of his forearms when he rolled up his sleeves] - then he carried it and placed it at the head and said: I mark with it the grave of my brother so that I can bury next to it those who die of my family.
What a great status Uthman must have had for the prophet to want to bury his family members next to him. Note also that the prophet called him ‘his brother’, some have explained this by noting that Uthman was the foster-brother of the prophet because they both suckled from the same woman. It is also possible that he used this as a term of endearment with an eye to his elevated kinship in Islam.
The prophet did indeed go ahead with his wish to bury his relations near the grave of Uthman. First when his daughter Ruqayya died and then when Ibrahim his son passed away. He also uses the enigmatic term سلف الصالح which has been rendered here as righteous predecessor but which can also mean righteous ancestor. Perhaps it the latter which is meant keeping in mind that if Uthman was the foster-brother of the prophet then his children would be related to him in some manner.
- One of the two [al-Baqir or al-Sadiq] عليه السلام said: when Ruqayya the daughter of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآلهdied, the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: meet up with our righteous predecessors Uthman b. Madh`un and his fellows …
- Ibn Abbas said: when Uthman b. Madh`un died a woman said: congratulations to you O Ibn Madh`un for you have entered paradise! So the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله looked at her angrily and said: what made you know? for by Allah I am the messenger of Allah but do no know what is going to be done with me, she said: O messenger of Allah he was your warrior and companion. This conversation weighed heavy on the minds of the companions of the messenger of Allah because of what he had said about Uthman while he [Uthman] was the best of them. It went on like this until when Ruqayya the daughter of the messenger of Allah died and he [the prophet] said: meet up with our goodly predecessor Uthman b. Madh`un [i.e. this is when they knew that Uthman must have had a good destination].
The women cried [when Ruqayya died] so Umar began hitting them with a whip, the prophet said to Umar: let them cry! but beware of the screeching of the Shaytan. Then the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله said: whatever issues from the heart [grief] and the eyes [tears] then it is from Allah and it is a form of mercy, whetever issues from the hand [like beating oneself] and the tongue [like words of despair] then it is from Shaytan.
The messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله stood at the edge of the grave while Fatima was at his side crying, so the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله began to wipe away the tears of her eyes with the side of his clothes in sympathy for her.
- Aba Abdillah عليه السلام said: … when Ibrahim the son of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله died the eyes of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله overflowed with tears and he said: the eyes tear-up and the heart grieves but we do not say that which may anger our Lord, we sure are saddened because of you O Ibrahim. Then the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله saw a disparity in his grave so he levelled it out with his hand and said: when one of you does any work then he should do it well, then he said: meet up with you righteous ancestor Uthman b. Madh`un …
Ali Remembers a Brother
Recall that the prophet is said to have said “I will mark with it the grave of my brother …” referring to Uthman as his brother. He also buried both his blood relations Ruqayya and Ibrahim near this brother of his and said at the time “meet up with our righteous Salaf …” where Salaf can mean ancestor.
A pattern emerges when we note that Ali, who is himself well-known as being the brother of the prophet, also referred to Uthman as a brother.
- Abu al-Faraj said: Uthman b. Ali about whom it is narrated from Ali that he said: I name him with the name of my brother Uthman b. Madh`un.
This Uthman b. Ali went on to sacrifice his life to defend Aba Abdillah al-Husayn عليه السلام in Karbala.
It comes as no surprise then that one of the candidates for the anonymous ‘brother’ Ali speaks of in his famous words has been taken refer to Uthman b. Madh`un.
- Ali عليه السلام said: In the past I had one I considered a brother in the way of Allah, he became prestigious in my eyes because of how lowly he considered the world to be in his eyes, the needs of the stomach did not have sway over him, he did not long for what he did not get; if he got a thing he would not ask for more; most of his time was spent in silence, but if he spoke he silenced the other speakers and quenched the thirst of questioners, he was weak and considered weak, but at the time of seriousness he was like the lion of the forest or the serpent of the valley, he would not put forth an argument unless it was decisive.
He would not reproach anyone in an excusable matter unless he had heard the excuse, he would not speak of any ailment except after its disappearance, he would do what he says, and would not say what he would not do, even if he could be excelled in speaking, he could not be excelled in silence; he was more eager to listen than to speak, if two things confronted him he would see which was more akin to the longing of the heart and would then oppose it [do the other].
Betake yourself to these and implement them and try to compete with each other in them. even if you cannot do it fully then know that acquiring a part is better than giving up the whole.
What Could Have Been
It is not a stretch to say that had Uthman been alive at the time of the Fitna (sedition) after the death of the messenger of Allah - when the Umma betrayed his testament for the Ahl al-Bayt - he would have sided with Ali in the events to come.
One circumstantial evidence for this is that when the prophet paired together one Muhajir with an Ansar in the so-called Ukhuwwa, he paired Uthman b. Madh`un with Abu al-Haytham Malik b. Tahiyyan. We know that this pairing was not random, but a bond which the prophet made using his special insight. He would gather two men who were closest to each other and had an affinity even in their spiritual states.
Abu al-Haytham went on die fighting on the side of Ali at Siffin.
000 reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Coin of al-Rida [Image Inside]
The Coin of al-Rida
Historical accounts and reports in our books of Hadith confirm that al-Ma`mun had coins minted in the name of al-Ridha after appointing him as his crown prince. These became a collectors item among the Shia being considered portents of Tabarruk especially to be carried during a journey. The Imam would bestow this as a memento to some of the believing Shia who came to visit him.
The Shia were pacified by this move of al-Ma`mun and many of them had expectations that the rule will finally revert back to its rightful place after more than a hundred years of usurpation.
حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن أيوب بن نوح قال: قلت للرضا عليه السلام: إنا لنرجو أن تكون صاحب هذا الامر وأن يرده الله عزوجل إليك من غير سيف، فقد بويع لك وضربت الدراهم باسمك، فقال: ما منا أحد اختلفت إليه الكتب، وسئل عن المسائل وأشارت إليه الاصابع، وحملت إليه الاموال إلا اغتيل أو مات على فراشه حتى يبعث الله عزوجل لهذا الامر رجلا خفي المولد والمنشأ غير خفي في نسبه
[Kamal al-Diin] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid – Muhammad b. Hasan al-Saffar – Ya`qub b. Yazid – Ayub b. Nuh who said: I said to al-Ridha عليه السلام: we hope that you are to be the man of this matter (the promised ruler from Ahl al-Bayt), and that Allah عزوجل returns it to you without fighting - for you have been given allegiance to, and the coins have been minted with your name on them. He said: there is not one of us to whom letters have been written, questions have been asked, fingers have been pointed at, and monies have been sent to, except that he will be killed or will die on his bed until Allah عزوجل will send for this matter a man of hidden birth and origin whose lineage is not unknown.
طاهر بن بن عيسى، عن جعفر بن أحمد، عن عليّ بن محمّد بن شجاع، عن محمّد بن الحسين، عن معمّر بن خلاد قال: قال لي الريّان بن الصلت بمرو و كان الفضل بن سهل بعثه إلى بعض كور خراسان فقال: احبّ أن تستأذن لي على أبي الحسن عليه السّلام فاسلّم عليه و اودّعه، و أحبّ أن يكسوني من ثيابه و أن يهب لي من دراهمه الّتي ضربت باسمه ...
[al-Kashshi] Tahir b. Isa – Ja`far b. Ahmad - Ali b. Muhammad b. Shuja` - Muhammad b. al-Husayn [b. Abi al-Khattab] – Muammar b. Khallad who said: al-Rayyan b. al-Salt said to me in Marw after al-Fadhl b. Sahl [Ma`mun’s vizier] had dispatched him to some of the villages in Khurasan: I would like you to seek permission on my behalf from Abi al-Hasanعليه السّلام [to allow me to meet him] so that I can greet him and bid him farewell. I would also like it if he could give me a piece of clothing from among his clothes and gift me a few of his silver coins that were minted in his name …
أخبرني محمد بن يونس الأنباري قال حدثني أبي: أن إبراهيم بن العباس الصولي دخل على الرضا لما عقد له المأمون وولاه العهد، فأنشده قوله:
أزالت عزاء القلب بعد التجلد ... مصارع أولاد النبي محمد (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
فوهب له عشرة آلاف درهم من الدراهم التي ضربت باسمه، فلم تزل عند إبراهيم، وجعل منها مهور نسائه، وخلف بعضها لكفنه وجهازه إلى قبره
[al-Aghani] Muhammad b. Yunus al-Anbari – his father who said: The poet Ibrahim b. al-Abbas al-Suli came in to see al-Rida when he was appointed by al-Ma`mun and made the crown prince and recited the following verse:
The grief of the heart has receded after enduring … the repression against the sons of Muhammad
Al-Rida gifted him ten thousand silver coins which were minted in his name, Ibrahim held on to them and used them as dowry for marrying his wives and left some of them behind to purchase his shrowd and for the carrying of his body [to the grave].
The wonderful thing is that archaeologists and scholars of numismatics have discovered a few pieces of this coin which is considered a rarefied item.
Below is an image of the coin:
Period: The Abbasid Caliphate, 132-218 H/750-833 AD,
Ruler: Abu Ja‘far ‘Abd Allah al-Ma’mun ibn al-Rashid, (194-218 H/810-833 AD)
Place of Mint: Samarqand in Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan)
Date: 202 H (817-818 AD)
Metal and denomination: Silver dirham
Weight and measurement: 2.87 g / Ø 25.5 mm
Legend and Design
la ilah illa / Allah wahdahu / la sharik lahu / al-mashriq
“no god but God, unique, He has no associate, East
bism Allah duriba hadha’l-dirham bi-samarqand sana ithnatayn wa mi‘atayn
“in the name of God this dirham was struck in Samarqand the year two and two hundred”
muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi
“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions”
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33 (in part)
lillah / muhammad rasul Allah / al-ma’mun khalifat Allah / mimma amara bihi al-amir al-rida / wali ‘ahd al-muslimin ‘ali ibn musa / ibn ‘ali ibn abi talib / dhu’l-riyasatayn
“for God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Ma’mun is the Caliph of God, among the things ordered by the Prince al-Rida, Recipient of the Oath of the Muslims ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Possesser of the Two Headships”
muhammad rasul Allah arsalahu bi’l-huda wa din al-haqq li-yuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi wa law kariha al-mushrikun
“Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it”
Sura 9 (al-Tawba), v. 33
000 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.
000 reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, A ShiaChat Reunion?
As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for .
As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree ), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.
This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.
On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries.
Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.
Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.
@Baatil Ka Kaatil @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.