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In the Name of God بسم الله
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to starlight for a blog entry, Some random Corona lockdown thoughts
Yesterday I ordered an outfit from an online store. I don't know what made me do it when I have been trying to pare down my worldly possessions to bare essential and I know I already have too many clothes. Maybe it was the combined effect of slashed price and the excited ''Yesssssssss, get it" from my best friend. That was morning. By evening I had begun to get a steady stream of messages, 'Dr.B passed away' , Dr. M and his wife and parents have tested positive, 'My cousin and her two sons tested positive', 'my Uncle and his house help's results came back positive' and then this morning someone else I knew died. All of this made me feel very low and that started a string of negative thoughts, one of which was,'Why did you order those clothes?You are never going to wear them at home and work might not happen for another three months and who knows you might be dead by that time so the package is going to arrive and lie there unopened for months at best. You must be out of your mind ordering clothes and back up of moisturiser and those dozens pens and notebooks that you might not live long enough to use'.
What followed was "enough of this blasted(french) Corona and lockdown" and a feeling of regret about wasting time and money over those things. But only moments later as I gained some clarity what dawned on me is this is actually how our relationship with material things should be, not just when a deadly pandemic is staring us down in our faces. Corona or no corona I do not know if I am going to be alive the next morning or the next minute so the wiser thing would be to not waste time on worldly things until and unless it's absolutely essential. There are far better things to do with the resources Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) gave us.
The problem is that while we all know and admit that death is inevitable and come anytime, most of us just confess it with the tongue and do not really reflect on it enough to bring about a change in ourselves. Our lifestyles have become so deviated from the fitrah that materialism and consumer culture is considered normal. This pandemic has been a blessing is so many ways one of them is that Allah has given us a chance to reset the compass of our lives back to fitrah. Let's hope we are able to do that.
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to starlight for a blog entry, How to thank someone for their kindness
Imam Ali Zayn al-abidin (as) said:
The right of him who performs a kindly act towards you is that you thank him and mention his kindness; that you reward him with beautiful words and supplicate for him sincerely in that which is between you and Allah. If you do that you have thanked him both secretly and openly. Then if you are able to repay him one day, repay him.
al -Faqih,v.2,p.376, no.1626.
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Perpetual vulnerabilities
Uncertainty and risk are all around us. In bygone days we did not even know what the probability of a meteor strike was (it was an uncertain event), but now its been reduced to just a risky event when we can say that individually we are less likely to be hit by a meteor than the chances of any one of us winning the lottery.
Progress then could be seen as a movement from uncertainty to risk to risk avoidance such as when we start destroying threats to Earth from space, as in the movie Deep Impact.
We could have lived in a world with finite sources of uncertainty and risk. So that over time as we conquered each one our existence would become a safer and more predictable one. However, it is curious as our capabilities to manage risks improves, so also we face increases in the threats of such events occurring.
To some extent, the increase in our capabilities and the increasing risks of threats to our existence can be considered to be related to each other. Some advances in science and technology would not have been possible without increasing our carbon footprint. And the latter has unleashed risks to our existence that previously did not seem to exist. Secondly, some of the tools and devices that we have created themselves are now vulnerable to which older generations of technology were not susceptible. Satellites are one means by which we manage the risks presented by the environment, but the satellites themselves are susceptible to solar storms.
The upshot is this. The very earliest farmers had to pray in order for the rain to nourish their crops. Today's farmers may no longer need to pray, because the advances in irrigation have made the supply of water more secure and predictable. But the need to pray remains since there are nowadays other events they lie beyond the control and comprehension of the farmer.
Human predisposition to conceit may lead us to think that as yet another source of risks is addressed we are better able to shape our destiny, but the above points suggest that the system does not behave that way.
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Matrix is a System
If I told you that missionaries were going to your child's school everyday, preaching their religion and teaching that Islam is backwards and evil, you would be deeply concerned, right?
Well, libertine missionaries have already infiltrated the schools, the universities, the textbooks, the TV shows, the labour unions, and the HR departments. Their ideology teaches your kids everyday:
1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.
2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature - it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.
3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the "Umma", the "Church", or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married - if it suits your selfish interests - then "economic independence" must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.
4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a "social reformer", military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.
5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.
6. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose your name (first and last), your racial/ethnic/tribal affiliation, your sex, your gender, your style, and your mode of expression. "As long as you're not hurting anyone" (a very relative statement), anything goes.
7. Your sexuality should be celebrated and expressed publicly, no matter how deviant it is from global norms. Thou shalt not judge anyone's sex life or lack thereof. Sexual identity permeates our politics, our associations, and our fashion, and is either just as important or more important than our religious identity.
These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.
So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn't they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?
The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.
Khadim uz Zahra 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
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Some Observations on Niyyah
Most books on jurisprudence and practical law that deal with fasting, open up with a discussion on Niyyah (intention). Some books make the rules seem quite complicated and the deductive discussions present in many books or transcribed notes from the Behas al-Kharij of some of the jurists are even more complicated at times. This is all the while our classical scholars did not spend so much time on this subject at all. In fact most earlier jurists are relatively silent on the matter in their works of jurisprudence. For example, in rulings of Wudhu, we find no mention of anything to do with Niyyah in Shaykh al-Saduq’s al-Muqni’ and neither Shaykh al-Mufid in his al-Ishraf. Or in his al-Muqni'ah, Shaykh al-Mufid discusses the method of praying in detail, yet is completely silent on the matter of Niyyah. Elsewhere, some of these jurists would simply say that Niyyah is to seek closeness towards Allah and to have sincerity (Shaykh al-Mufid for example uses 98:5 to prove this).
Complicated discussions on Niyyah seem to have slowly crept in during the end of the 6th century Hijri, and by 7th & 8th century with the appearance of Muhaqqiq Hilli and 'Allamah Hilli this discussion had become part of mainstream jurisprudential discussions.
We began seeing discussions on whether Niyyah is something that one has to literally notify themselves of, and if this is to be done in the heart, or in the mind or by tongue; or whether it is a mere result of another entity that calls them to perform an action. Furthermore, does one have to specify in their intention whether they are performing an obligatory or recommended action - and if obligatory, is it Qadha or not? Or if there is a need to specify in the month of Ramadhan that one is indeed doing the obligatory fast of Ramadhan or not? Does Niyyah have to be continuous or is one Niyyah in the beginning of a worship enough? All these and other related discussions had become mainstream for centuries and can still be seen in the books of practical law.
Interestingly enough, we have also seen a few scholars speaking out against this during the course of time. Some Shi'i scholars - like Muhaqqiq Sabzwari (d. 1090 Hijri) - even deemed these discussions as outright innovations (bid'ah). Over the last few weeks, having gone through the transcribed lessons of Ayatullah Shubeyri Zanjani, Ayatullah Mazahari and Ayatullah Nuri Hamadani's on this topic, it is clear that some contemporary scholars also look at these discussions unfavourably (yet seem to be forced to discuss it in their Behas al-Kharij due to the format their lessons follow).
One figure who spoke out against this matter was Shaykh Baha'i (d. 1621 CE). In his Miftah al-Falah [http://en.wikishia.net/view/Miftah_al-falah_(book)] he writes (very quick, rough and slightly paraphrased translation):
"And know that some of our later jurists have exaggerated and extended their discussion on the matter of Niyyah, while there is nothing in the narrations of the Imams (s) as such. Rather, what can be utilized based on what has been reported on behalf of them (s) on the topics of Wudhu, Salat and all other forms of worship, which their followers would act upon, is that the matter of Niyyah is easy. It is needless from being mentioned, present in the minds of all rational people when they carry out an act out of their own free-will. Due to this, our classical jurists (r) did not enter into discussions regarding it.
It was only a group of later jurists who embarked on it and initiated a discussion on it, such that it now becomes the subject of doubt for whether it had been abandoned from various parts of one’s actions, brings about difficulty for most people, and leads them into Waswas. In fact, Niyyah is nothing in reality but a simple intent to carry out a specific action for a specific cause; and it is a part and parcel of that action which is intended.
This intent can almost never be separated from a rational person at the time of every action, to the extent that some of our scholars have said that if Allah had made us responsible of carrying out a specific action without having its Niyyah, our responsibility would be towards that which we have no ability of performing.
Thus, the notion of bringing into presence that which is intended, into the mind, such that it is differentiated from another, and the intent of carrying out an action to fulfill a command of Allah is at the height of simplicity. Take Zuhr prayers - an act we are responsible for performing at a specific time for example - which can be conceptualized with its specific characteristics by which it is differentiated from all other actions deemed worship and non-worship, and the intent of performing it to fulfill a command: there is no difficulty in any of this at all, like the working conscious of anyone will testify. If anyone finds this difficult, then they should ask Allah to correct their conscious, for He is omnipotent over all things."
Khadim uz Zahra reacted to Abu Hadi for a blog entry, Going Astray, Part 1
بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ1:1
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
"Oh Mankind, what has distracted you from your Lord, The Generous"
Holy Quran 82:6
Noone starts out life with the intention of being a criminal. I have never met a little boy who told me 'I want to grow up to be a drug dealer'. I have never met a little girl who told me 'I want to grow up to be a prostitute'. Noone starts out life with the intention of being an anti social person, or someone with no religion or connection to Allah(s.w.a). It is something that begins as a small things and progresses in stages.
Evil is described most often in the Quran as a 'disease in the hearts'. This is not talking about the physical heart, but the 'qalb' or spiritual heart. The physical heart pumps blood to every cell in our body, and with the blood, the oxygen, food, and nutrients our cells need in order to keep on living. The spiritual heart also provides our spirit with the food it needs in order for our spirit, our nafs to sustain itself. When there is a disease in this spiritual heart, it is no longer able to provide us with what we need in order to sustain our spirit, and our spirit undergoes a slow and agonizing death before the death of the body. This is why, many times in our life, we come across individuals who are nothing but a hollow shell, simply living to fulfill their lower, animal desires with no 'spark' in their eyes. How did they get like that ? Were they born that way ? Obviously not. We should take a lesson from this.
While it is true that life in this world provides many opportunities for us to grow spiritually and for us to strengthen our connection with Allah(s.w.a), this life is also a minefield. It is full of flowers and springs that hide underneath them or besides them a deadly trap. If we step on that mine or fall into that trap, it could destroy or sabotage all the good deeds we have done and all the effort we have put into our journey toward our Creator(s.w.a). None of us are immune from this, since we all live in the world and are subject to it's rules and conditions.
If you look at Islam compared to other religions, it is a complete religion. While there are other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and others which have very beautiful and wonderful spiritual teachings, homilies, sound advice, and wisdom, these religions are not complete (in their modern forms) because they lack the basic ingredients needed to preserve the spiritual gains that they make thru worship and other righteous acts. These religions, when they are practiced, are like a house in which there is piles of gold, but the doors are left unlocked so that thieves could go in at night and take whatever they want. So the followers of these religions think that they are rich because of all the gold that they have, but when they go and inspect their house (usually after their death) they find there is nothing left inside to benefit them.
Once upon a time…a man heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) say that for each time a person recites Subhan’Allah, Allah plants for him a tree in paradise. The man stood up and said if this were the case, then there must be many trees for us in paradise. Upon which the Prophet replied, “Yes, but you must be careful that you do not set fire from here and burn them all down.” (Iddat ad-Dai).
So Islam, in contrast for other religions, has a way for us to preserve our spiritual gains and rewards. That is the Shariat. The laws which were made incumbent upon us by Allah(s.w.a). The halal, wajib, and the haram. This is also called the Taslim (where the word Islam comes from) or obedience to Allah(s.w.a) by doing what He(s.w.a) loves us to do and refraining from what He(s.w.a) hates us to do. This is the shield that blocks the arrows, and the armour that protects us from the landmines, and the light which helps us to see where the traps are laid for us.
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
Convey whatever of The Book has been revealed unto thee, and be constant in prayer: for, behold, prayer restrains [man] from indecency and from all that runs counter to reason; and remembrance of God is indeed the greatest [good]. And God knows all that you do.
Holy Quran 29:45
Notice in the above ayat of the Quran the word 'Salat'. The word Salat has a specific meaning in Islam. It is the prayer that is prescribed for us, as muslims, i.e. The Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and the Friday Prayer (Salat Jumaat). The wajib prayers, i.e. the ones that muslims pray, keeps off from the person indecency and loathsome deeds. Prayers has a general meaning in Islam, 'du'a' and a specific meaning 'Salat'.
But at the same time only following part of the wajib, haram, and halal and not the other parts will not protect us. We must fulfill ALL our duties to Allah(s.w.a), those that are required of us, in order to preserve our nafs against the spiritual diseases and traps. InShahAllah, in the next entries, I will go into more detail about this subject.