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In the Name of God بسم الله
Chaotic Muslem 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)
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Curiouser and curiouser
Occasionally there is a piece in the British press about the case of an Iranian lady who married an Englishman and then went on holiday to Iran and has been held by the authorities there.
The case has gained some more prominence recently because the British Foreign Secretary has claimed in parliament that she was 'training Iranian journalists', which does seem very suspicious indeed.
This has prompted her employer to come forward to claim that she was on holiday and not working for them. This is the first time the identity of her employer has been disclosed. Who is her employer?
It's the Thomson Reuters Foundation. A charitable arm of the Thomson-Reuters organisation which includes the news agency.
The Foundation is basically a 'soft power' outfit seeking social and cultural changes around the world. Some of it is ostensibly 'good' like the anti-slavery work, they are also involved in work which can have a clear political and propaganda dimension.
They claim to, "train reporters around the world to cover news fairly and impartially". People living in the West may be wondering where these principles were when we went to war in Iraq on a wholly false premise and to what extent Reuters challenged the agenda of the imperialists in its endeavours towards being fair.
So if she is an employee, it does beg various questions about what she may have been up to.
Remember Reuters does not have a glorious history in its involvement with Iran. Its founder Julius Reuter stitched up the Qajar dynasty into handing over a large proportion of the entire nation's mineral rights to him.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The “Imam” who Killed al-Kadhim [as]
إذا وصلته وقطعني قطع الله أجله
If I maintain my ties with him and he cuts me off then Allah will cut off his life-time [Imam al-Kadhim about Muhammad b. Ismail]
We all know of the summons of Imam Musa al-Kadhim to Baghdad in the year 179 by Harun al-Rashid, his subsequent imprisonment and ultimate death in the year 183. But what is less well known is the role of one of the relatives of the Imam, specifically his nephew Muhammad b. Ismail in bringing this tragic event about.
Who was Muhammad b. Ismail?
Muhammad is the seventh “Imam” of the Ismailiyya about whose life very little is known even in their pitiable sources. Muhammad was the eldest son of Ismaıl b. Ja’far [who died in the lifetime of al-Sadiq]. The Ismailiyya claim that he left Iraq after the recognition of the Imamate of Musa al-Kadhim by the majority of al-Sadiq’s followers, and went into hiding, henceforth acquiring the epithet al-Maktum, the Hidden. He is supposed to have continued to maintain close contacts with the Mubarakiyya, a radical Shı’ı group which followed him. According to the later Ismaılıs, this emigration marks the beginning of the period of concealment (Dawr al-Satr) in early Ismaılism, with no apparent Imam, until the Fatimi Da’wa came and re-established it.
What happened to the followers of Muhammad b. Ismail?
Most of the followers of Muhammad b. Ismail refused to acknowledge his death. For these immediate predecessors of the Qarmatıs, Muhammad b. Ismaıl was regarded as the last Imam and expected to reappear as the Mahdı or Qaim, ‘riser’. They were also called Sab'iyya [seveners i.e. believed in seven Imams] and Waqifiyya [stoppers i.e. who halted at Muhammad b. Ismail].
Later Ismailis claim that that there was another obscure group of followers of Muhammad b. Ismail who accepted his death and traced the Imamate in his descendants. However, the separate existence of this group is not recorded in any contemporary source, until Abd Allah, the future leader of the movement, publicly claimed the Imamate of the Ismaılıs for himself and his ancestors in the year 297. It is hard to conclude this to be anything other than a back-projection of the Fatimid Imams wishing to to place themselves in one continuous chain of Imams back to Muhammad b. Ismail and the early 'Aimma.
His Role in Sending al-Kadhim to his Death
The picture that emerges in a reliable narration in al-Kafi shows Muhammad b. Ismail to be quite a worldly and ambitious fellow who was instrumental in heightening Harun’s suspicion towards Musa al-Kadhim. This acts as another reminder that mere blood relation with the purified personalities is not enough to safeguard one from evil inclinations.
الكافي: علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن موسى بن القاسم البجلي، عن علي بن جعفر قال: جاء ني محمد بن إسماعيل وقد اعتمرنا عمرة رجب ونحن يومئذ بمكة، فقال: يا عم إني أريد بغداد وقد أحببت أن اودع عمي أبا الحسن - يعني موسى بن جعفر عليه السلام - وأحببت أن تذهب معي إليه، فخرجت معه نحو أخي وهو في داره التي بالحوبة وذلك بعد المغرب بقليل، فضربت الباب فأجابني أخي فقال: من هذا فقلت: علي، فقال: هوذا أخرج - وكان بطئ الوضوء - فقلت: العجل قال: وأعجل، فخرج وعليه إزار ممشق قد عقده في عنقه حتى قعد تحت عتبة الباب، فقال علي بن جعفر: فانكببت عليه فقبلت رأسه وقلت: قد جئتك في أمر إن تره صوابا فالله وفق له، وإن يكن غير ذلك فما أكثر ما نخطي قال: وما هو؟ قلت: هذا ابن أخيك يريد أن يودعك ويخرج إلى بغداد، فقال لي: ادعه فدعوته وكان متنحيا، فدنا منه فقبل رأسه وقال: جعلت فداك أوصني فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فقال مجيبا له: من أرادك بسوء فعل الله به وجعل يدعو على من يريده بسوء، ثم عاد فقبل رأسه، فقال: يا عم أوصني فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فقال: من أرادك بسوء فعل الله به وفعل، ثم عاد فقبل رأسه، ثم قال: يا عم أوصني، فقال: اوصيك أن تتقي الله في دمي فدعا على من أراده بسوء، ثم تنحى عنه ومضيت معه فقال لي أخي: يا علي مكانك فقمت مكاني فدخل منزله، ثم دعاني فدخلت إليه فتناول صرة فيها مائة دينار فأعطانيها وقال: قل لابن أخيك يستعين بها على سفره قال علي: فأخذتها فأدرجتها في حاشية ردائي ثم ناولني مائة اخرى وقال: أعطه أيضا، ثم ناولني صرة اخرى وقال: أعطه أيضا فقلت: جعلت فداك إذا كنت تخاف منه مثل الذي ذكرت، فلم تعينه على نفسك؟ فقال: إذا وصلته وقطعني قطع الله أجله، ثم تناول مخدة أدم، فيها ثلاثة آلاف درهم وضح وقال: أعطه هذه أيضا قال: فخرجت إليه فأعطيته المائة الاولى ففرح بها فرحا شديدا ودعا لعمه، ثم أعطيته الثانية والثالثة ففرح بها حتى ظننت أنه سيرجع ولا يخرج، ثم أعطيته الثلاثة آلاف درهم فمضى على وجهه حتى دخل على هارون فسلم عليه بالخلافة وقال: ما ظننت أن في الارض خليفتين حتى رأيت عمي موسى بن جعفر يسلم عليه فالخلافة، فأرسل هارون إليه بمائة ألف درهم فرماه الله بالذبحة فما نظر منها إلى درهم ولا مسه
al-Kafi: Ali b. Ibrahim from Muhammad b. Isa from Musa b. al-Qasim al-Bajali from Ali b. Ja’far who said: Muhammad b. Ismail [b. Ja’far] approached me when we were in Makka and had just completed the Umra in the month of Rajab - he said: O uncle, I want to travel to Baghdad but first I wish to bid farewell to my uncle Aba al-Hasan - that is Musa b. Ja’far. I would like it if you accompany me to meet him.
I came out with him heading towards my brother who was in his house in Huba. We reached a little after Maghrib. I knocked the door and was answered by my brother who said: who is that? I said: Ali, he said: I am just coming - he was someone who took long in making the ablution - so I said: make haste, he said: I will. Eventually he came out wearing a lower garment [waist-wrapper] dyed in an earthish hue, knotted at his neck and proceeded to sit at the threshold [step] of the door.
Ali b. Ja’far said: I bent towards him, kissed his forehead and said: I have come to you concerning a matter, if you find it to be appropriate then it is Allah who facilitated it, and if it is not [if you find it disagreeable] then how often do we err [as humans]. He said: what is it? I said: this is the son of your brother, he wishes to bid you farewell and depart towards Baghdad. He [the Imam] said to me: call him [Muhammad b. Ismail]. I called him and he was close by.
He [Muhammad b. Ismail] came near him, kissed his forehead and said: May I be made your ransom, advise me, he [the Imam] said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, he replied to him: May Allah do such to whoever wishes ill for you, and he began supplicating against the one who harbors ill-feeling towards him. Then he kissed his forehead a second time and said: O uncle, advise me, he said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, he said: May Allah do such and such to whoever wishes ill for you [and He has already done so]. Then he kissed his forehead a third time and said: O uncle, advise me, he said: I advise you to fear Allah concerning my blood, so he supplicated against the one who wishes ill towards him, then he turned away from him [to depart], I too began walking away with him, but my brother said to me: O Ali, [stop] where you are.
I halted, he called me and I entered [the house]. He outstretched a pouch which contained a hundred gold coins and handed it to me and said: tell the son of your brother [nephew] to make use of it on his journey. Ali said: I took it and twisted it around the hem of my cloak, then he handed me another hundred and said: give it to him, then he handed me another pouch and said: give it to him also.
I said: may I be made your ransom, if you fear him doing what you described then why are you aiding him against yourself [by helping him]? he said: If I maintain my ties with him and he cuts me off then Allah will cut off his life-time. Then he took to hand a tanned leather pillow [hollowed out to store money] in which were three thousand fine silver coins and said: give this to him as well.
He [Ali b. Ja’far] said: I came out and gave him the first hundred whereupon he became extremely delighted and supplicated for his uncle, then I gave him the second and the third. He became so happy that I thought he will turn back and not depart [for Baghdad]. Lastly I gave him the three thousand silver coins.
Nevertheless, he departed on his mission until he went in to see Harun [the Abbasid Caliph] and greeted him by acknowledging his Caliphate [said: peace be upon you O Commander of the Faithful]. Then he said: I never thought that there could be two Caliphs on earth [at the same time] until I saw my uncle Musa b. Ja’far being greeted with the Caliphate [people referring to him as the Caliph when greeting him]. Harun sent him one hundred thousand silver coins [as a reward for his reporting about his uncle] but Allah afflicted him [Muhammad b. Ismail] with an ailment [in which an ulcer grows and chokes the passage in the throat] and he did not get the chance to even take a look at a single silver coin [that he had been gifted] let alone touch it.
The death date of Muhammad b. Ismail can be fixed to be the year 179, the year in which he betrayed his uncle to the authorities and was punished immediately by Allah for it. Muhammad sold his Akhera for the Dunya, despite the Imam supporting him from his own wealth to repel his evil and fulfill the ties of kinship. Such a person hardly meets the base requirements of a supposed Imam and the adulation that his followers direct towards him.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Reza for a blog entry, Why the Name
A good question some of you might have is, why the name A Muslim Artist? Well my dear friends, let me tell you the tale full of drama, suspense, romance, and adventure. (Could we get banned for lying? Because if so, bye it was fun while it lasted)
It was relatively not that long ago, a starving adolescent was bored and had nothing to do. Read Quran and try to become a better Muslim you might suggest. "What is that?" the youth would ask. At that time the youth was constantly improving and changing up his art style and changing the content he drew in general. Before he would draw stories of a reptile doing martial arts in space, confusing stories of time travel, and the classic people posing while brooding. But eventually the youth found Islamic art made by the Persians (and/or Mongols) and it inspired him.
Gone were the days of space reptiles!
Now the youth would draw pictures of the Angels, Iblis deceiving Adam and Hawwa, Musa confronting Pharaoh, Muhammad's Night Journey, Ali defending what is right, and much more. The youth enjoyed this very much, he loved drawing his favorite tales about these great men. And at that time, because of a lie from the youth's employer, the youth had a lot of free time. So because he was a lazy piece of trash (a statement the youth's older brother used very much), he would mostly sit inside and watch Youtube, that is when he made a shocking discovery! There were a Lut (get it?) of anti-Muslim videos on Youtube. So because of this the youth decided to became a crusader (or a jihadist) of Islam, fighting ignorance online. (He failed miserably, because as mentioned earlier, he was indeed very lazy).
But like all vigilantes, he needed a name. Something to inspire his allies, scare his enemies (who were a superstitious bunch).
I got one! What about the Muslim Defender?
It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it make it sound like the youth isn’t Muslim.
This name has to reflect the youth, who happened to be Muslim….Hmmm… He’s a Muslim, and well he’s currently drawing an Islamic scene, how about… Islamic Drawer?
Nah, that’s stupid.
Really? Okay what about… Islamic Illustrator?
Better, but still it could still use some work.
The Youtube auto-play just was active, the now playing video was a Muslim singer singing a song about Islam.
That be cool to do on the channel. But it would be out of place for an illustrator.
Hold on a second, aren’t illustrators, writers, musicians, and etc are considered artists?
Yeah, yeah! Why not the Muslim Artist?
That could work, but it’s missing something, I just don’t know what.
We could try The Muslim Artist?
Yeah! Awesome ….. Wait, doesn’t that seem narcissistic? The Muslim Artist?
Yeah, I guess you’re right…
A Muslim Artist! That way it’ll show were just one of many.
A Muslim Artist it is then.
So that is how the name was chosen. Some might be wondering how true to the name the youth stayed active in. Well after seeing much better Islamic art, the youth felt that calling his pictures “drawings” didn’t seem right, so now he just calls them doodles. He keeps the “doodles” private and only shows them to friends and family.
Now my humble friends, I must reveal something to you. Sit down, because it will come as a shock. The lazy youth with noble intentions, in reality, he and I are one and the same. Now some of you might be wondering why was this even “blogged?” Well let me answer that question with another question, have you seen the name of this blog? Now excuse me while I’m being banned for lying about what’s going to be in this tale.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Miss Wonderful 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
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Langar for a blog entry, Bruce Lee
The man was a background celebrity in my childhood. His name had become synonymous with martial arts, but I don't think I've seen any of his movies. Anyway, I had a spare couple of hours to kill in the Tai Wai district of Hong Kong and saw signs for the Heritage Museum, so I thought I'd pay a visit.
It says something about Hong Kong that such a rich colony only got such a museum well after the British left.
This special, temporary exhibition is really well done, it takes up one of the three floors of the museum. It charts Bruce Lee's childhood (born in Hong Kong and then emigrated to the U.S.) and shows how his career developed. You get to see all the equipment he trained with and even more interestingly the books that he read. That was a real eye-opener. There are texts on Chinese history and philosophy as well as ones on business and personal success. You get a real feel for someone who wanted to develop himself physically, spiritually and focus that on building a business. He developed his own martial art and there are notes about what ideas underpinned this.
It gets better. The exhibition documents how we used his martial arts expertise to train Hollywood stars and get into that industry. There are beautiful, directorial handwritten notes he made on how he wanted his movies shot. His sketches of fight sequences reminded me of Rodin. He was also a prolific letter writer and you get some feeling for his networking through his communications. I understand that he's revered, almost worshipped in some parts, obviously, he was much more than many of today's athletes.
He died young and there is some controversy about his death and I've read on Quora that he must have been taking steroids, which wasn't illegal in those days.
It's a really neat exhibition and given its high production values I guess it will be touring various other museums around the world at some stage.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to zainabamy for a blog entry, The Transfer of Kufa’s Hadith Heritage to Qom (5)
Original full post: http://www.iqraonline.net/the-transfer-of-kufas-hadith-heritage-to-qom-history-of-imami-shii-theology-5/
During the Imamate of Imam Baqir (s) and Sadiq (s), there was a lot of encouragement from the Imams to their students and companions to begin recording down traditions. As this shift from oral to a written tradition became a culture amongst them, there was naturally a large output of written works over the next century. Kufa being the hub for Shi’i activity naturally possessed the most written works at the time.
As scholars from Qom would initially travel to Kufa to acquire traditions of the Imams from the various scholars and companions that resided there, the tables would eventually turn as Kufa’s scholarly circles began to diminish and its heritage began being transferred to Qom. Scholars who played a role in transferring this heritage to Qom include personalities such as Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed al-Ahwazi, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari, Ibrahim bin Hashim and others. To analyze this phenomenon in a little more detail, bibliographical works are utilized to see how books were being moved around from one place to another.
Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi and his son Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Barqi are two other individuals who played a role in this transfer. Most of their teachers appear to be from Kufa, whereas their students appear to be from Qom. Both father and son also seem to have traveled to Kufa like Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and tooks narrations from there and then returned back to Qom to transmit them. Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi seems to be the earliest person to have brought over some of the Kufan hadith heritage to Qom. However, he does not seem to have very cautious in who he would take narrations from and was accused of even narrating from weak narrators. There are also hardly any traditions that he narrates from reliable scholars such as Hasan bin Mahbub or Ibn Abi ‘Umayr. This eventually even leads to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari (the next scholar) exiling Muhammad al-Barqi out of Qom.
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa al-Ash’ari who was one of the greatest scholars of Qom during his time, played a great role in bringing over the Kufan heritage by traveling to Kufa himself. Some of the works that he was able to bring back to Qom with himself were the book of ‘Ala bin Zarin, Aban bin ‘Uthman al-Ahmar, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abi Nasr al-Bazanti, Hasan bin Mahbub al-Kufi, Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal, Safwan bin Yahya al-Bajali, ‘Abdul Rahman bin Abi Najran, ‘Ali bin Hadid al-Mada’ini, Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, and Muhammad bin Sinan Zahiri.
What is of interest here is that the books Ahmad was bringing with him were those that were famous, well-known and reliable works within Shi’i scholarly circles. This indicates that Ahmad was very cautious of the narrations he accepted and transmitted, and we see this translating into him exiling many narrators from Qom (like the aforementioned al-Barqi) who he found to be narrating from weak narrators.
Husayn bin Sa’eed bin Hammad bin Sa’eed bin Mehran al-Ahwazi was another Kufan scholar who played a role in bringing over some works to Qom. Him and his brother Hasan first leave Kufa and travel to Ahwaz and then migrate to Qom. They bring with themselves the works of Rib’iyy bin ‘Abdillah al-Basri, Shu’ayb al-‘Aqr Qufiyy, Hamid bin Muthanna, Qasim bin Muhammad Jawhari al-Kufi, Qasim bin Sulayman al-Baghdadi, Qasim bin ‘Urwah al-Baghdadi, Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, Zur’ah bin Muhammad al-Hadhrami and more. Husayn also brings with himself thirty of his own written works to Qom and transmitted them to various students.
Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim bin Musa al-Sayrafi – known as Abu Sumaynah, a Kufan narrator who was eventually exiled from Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad as well, brought with him the book of Ishaq bin Yazid bin Ismail al-Ta’i, some books of Ismail bin Mehran bin Abi Nasr al-Sakuni, book of Hafs bin ‘Asim Salami, book of Sulaym bin Qays, book of Salam bin ‘Abdillah al-Hashimi, book of Haytham bin Waqid Jazari, book of Abu Badr al-Kufi and the book of Nasr bin Mazahim al-Kufi. He will be referred to again in a later post when we discuss the phenomenon of certain narrators being exiled from the city of Qom.
Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Jabbar al-Qumi – known as Ibn Abi al-Sahban, a companion of Imam Jawwad, Hadi, and ‘Askari. He was also one of those scholars who traveled to Kufa and brought back with him some of Kufa’s hadith heritage. His most important teachers in Kufa were Safwan bin Yahya, Muhammad bin Ismail Bazi’, and Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Fadhdhal. It doesn’t seem like he had any book of his own, and was merely recognized as someone who was able to transfer over some of the hadith works from Kufa to scholars in Qom. Most of his narrations in Qom are narrated by Ahmad bin Idris, ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Himyari, Muhmmad bin al-Hasan al-Saffar and Muhammad bin Yahya al-‘Attar.
Perhaps the most prolific scholar who is renowned for bringing much of Kufa’s hadith heritage to Qom is Ibrahim bin Hashim. He is remembered as the first scholar to bring Kufa’s hadith to Qom and to have spread it. Some of the works he brought with him were: the Asl of Ibrahim bin ‘Abd al-Hamid, books of Ismail bin Abi Ziyad al-Sakuni, books of Hariz bin ‘Abdillah al-Sijistani, book of ‘Abdullah bin Sinan, books of Ibn Abi ‘Umayr, books of Muhammad bin Ismail bin Bazi’, Asl of Hisham bin Salim, some books of Mufadhdhal bin ‘Umar, book of Zayd Narasi, book of Sulaym Farra’, book of Yahya bin ‘Imran bin ‘Ali bin Abi Shu’ba al-Halabi just to name a few.
For at least the next 150 years, Qom would become the most important city when it came to Shi’i theological discourse. Eventually much of Qom’s hadith heritage does return back to Iraq, to the city of Baghdad when the likes of Shaykh Mufid begin gaining authority.
With regards to the topic of Kufa’s heritage moving over to Qom, Ibrahim bin Hashim is notably remembered by multiple scholars as being the first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom was him. However, when we look at the list above, we see that Muhammad bin Khalid al-Barqi, Husayn bin Sa’eed and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ‘Isa were all scholars who had already brought with them a lot of traditions from Kufa much before Ibrahim bin Hashim. So why is it that the latter scholars gave this honour to Ibrahim rather than those who were prior to him? There could be a few possible reasons for this and a closer look at the other three scholars may help us in determining this.
One thing to note is that the attribution given to Ibrahim bin Hashim is that the works he brought to Qom were widely-spread, not that he merely transmitted them or passed them down to his students. That being said, when we consider al-Barqi, it is known that one of the reasons he was exiled from Qom by Ahmad al-Ash’ari was because he would narrate from unknown or weak people. This would have been enough of a reason for many of the scholars of Qom to act cautiously with regards to his narrations, leading to his narrations not having spread to such an extent where it would be deemed as spreading the Kufan heritage. Some have suggested that it is possible al-Barqi may have returned back to his own town on the outskirts of Qom called Barqah-Rud, and that would have been a plausible reason why his ahadith did not spread in Qom – however this seems far-fetched, simply because Qom seems to be the most sensible location for a scholar of hadith to have returned back to, and also when we see that Ahmad al-Ash’ari exiled him from Qom it indicates that he was in Qom to begin with.
As for Husayn bin Sa’eed, he had thirty of his own written works in Kufa which he brought with him to Qom. His main focus had been to spread these narrations which he had compiled himself, and not the rest of the heritage he had brought with him. Furthermore, Husayn bin Sa’eed did not live too long after coming to Qom, dying a short while after, which could mean that he simply didn’t have enough time to spread and transmit all the works he had brought with him to such an extent that would merit him the status of being the first one to widely-spread the heritage of Kufa in Qom.
When it comes to Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari – who was also the authority in Qom – it seems that there may been another reason he is not given this description. He not only had more of an opportunity to widely spread the heritage of Kufa that he had brought back with him to Qom, but he also had many of the same teachers as Ibrahim bin Hashim and both were living during the same era. The one factor that could have caused the scholars to still give Ibrahim bin Hashim the credit for spreading the heritage of Kufa in Qom the fact that Ibrahim was someone who was brought up and raised in Kufa, whereas Ahmad was originally a scholar of Qom. In other words, Ibrahim was the first Kufan scholar who have come to Qom and have the Kufan heritage widely-spread in the city.
Another side point that should be mentioned here is that Ibrahim bin Hashim is credited for carrying over the theological teachings of the school of the great theologian and companion Hisham bin Hakam from Kufa to Qom as well. Ibrahim bin Hashim is claimed to have been the student of Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman who himself was one of the strongest students of Hisham bin Hakam. Whether Ibrahim was indeed a student of Yunus or not is disputed as there is no narration which Ibrahim narrates directly from Yunus (as is the natural case in a student-teacher relationship), and every narration from Yunus appears to have an individual between them. Nevertheless, Ibrahim does seem to have been influenced by this school of thought, and likewise his son Ali bin Ibrahim who will be discussed in a later article as well.
This is important to know because figures such as Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari and many later Qom scholars were staunchly against some of the theological ideas of Hisham bin Hakam, and had even written books against him and Yunus bin ‘Abdul Rahman. Despite this, they were still welcoming of Ibrahim bin Hashim and his narrations which indicates the level of trust and respect Ibrahim must have had in the city of Qom.
 One of the works I have heavily relied on for this blog post is the research paper: Sayr-e Intiqal-e Mirath-e Maktub-e Shi’eh dar Ayeneh-ye Fihrist-ha written by Ruhullah Shaheedi and Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahdawi-Raad.
 Al-Fihrist of Shaykh Tusi, pg. 52
 Refer to Najashi’s al-Rijal and Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist. About 19 more works can be found in Shaykh Tusi’s al-Fihrist and 3 more in Najashi’s al-Rijal.
 The famous line as recorded in Najashi’s al-Rijal is this: أصحابنا يقولون: أوّل من نشر حديث الكوفيين بقم, هو (Our scholars have said: The first person to spread the hadith of the Kufans in Qom, was him)
Chaotic Muslem reacted to sadegh for a blog entry, Downside protection
One of my lives involves stock market investment.
One of the concepts that's been important is that of 'downside protection', and the reason for this post are the parallels between that idea and some of the imperatives religion offers.
In investment circles, downside protection deals with the idea that if things go pear-shaped (i.e. wrong) you are still able to live another day, because an important measure of investment success is survival.
What does downside protection mean to me?
Well if a potential investment sounds wonderful, it's a matter of not putting everything into it no matter how wonderful and/or certain the touted returns. There are lots of people chasing such opportunities and the harder they seem to chase, the more likely it is that most of them will lose everything. It's a bit sad really.
Downside protection is all about giving up potential wealth and happiness because the pain incurred by being wiped out is greater. It involves caution, a certain amount of diversification into different asset classes and the deliberate sacrifice of possible returns in favour of the long game.
I'm reminded of this notion of downside protection whenever the issue of religion-inspired asceticism comes up which challenges the desire for short-term pleasure.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to NormaL_UseR for a blog entry, Transcribed lectures so far
So I've transcribed a number of lectures I just wanted to share these with you so that people could inshallah benefit from them. Also if your interested in transcribing lectures I can give you tips on how to become an effective transcriber.
tasbeeh 1 alidina.pdf
tasbeeh 2 alidina.pdf
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, National Museum Riyadh
Spent a nice late afternoon/ early evening at the National Museum in Riyadh. Entry costs 10 Riyals and is well worth the admission. The place is built for large crowds weekday mornings seem to be set aside for parties of school kids. While I was there I only saw one Saudi couple and a party of four Germans and their English speaking guide.
So a nice and peaceful experience.
All signage is in Arabic and good English.
The exhibition starts of with natural history (dinosaurs etc.), with plenty of quotations from the Quran. I walked through that pretty quickly because there did not seem to be anything that isn't done better everywhere else.
Then the interesting stuff about the Arabian peninsula starts. Lots of early vases and implements, together with photos of excavations of early settlements and also actual mock-ups. The east and Yemeni coasts of the peninsula seem to be almost littered with abandoned towns. Many seem to have served trade routes and there seem to have been times in the peninsula's history when the nomads had the upper hand and times when it paid to be settled.
The last exhibits on the ground floor deal with the Jahiliya period, before you take an escalator upstairs for the start of the Islamic period.
The early part of the Prophet's (saw) story is told on posters, together with blow-up maps and copies of real and facsimile Qurans. The narrative is what you'd expect with minimal references to the Ahlulbayt (a.s.).
The coverage then moves onto the Ummayad and Abbasid periods and after the Ottomans its the Saudi family history. There's a whole gallery about the latter and a mini-cinema that shows a film about how the modern state was founded. The showcases have lots of guns from the early 20th century.
Surprisingly there's next to nothing about the oil industry and its history in the Kingdom.
There's a tiny cafe (for takeaways) and the souvenir shop does not sell fridge magnets. So there was nothing to keep me and I walked out to the street to find a taxi with an Urdu speaking driver (easy peasy).
The image is of the bag that is used to hold to key to the house of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madinah.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, The temptation of trust
Trust is generally considered a good thing. One basis for building trust is when someone behaves well, fulfills the promises that they have made and demonstrates to trustees that they are people capable of being trusted. In this way trust as an asset develops when someone or an entity such as an organisation develops a track record of trustworthy behaviour.
Such trustworthy behaviour usually requires the person or organisation not to have abused the trust that others have placed in them, most often by taking a risk too far beyond their own capabilities (the incapable tradesman) or indeed having deliberately abused trust to take advantage (the conman).
People who we think are trustworthy are therefore the ones in whom we'd be more likely to take risks and larger risks in the future because of their behaviour in the past has developed greater and greater levels of trust.
The trustworthy organisation or person, therefore has an asset, in business terms, that enables them to distinguish themselves from others and in a business context draw an income stream from it. Commercial examples abound of firms that have developed rock-solid reputations for reliability (for example) or for fair dealing. In Britain, for example, the clothing retailer Marks and Spencer was renowned for making clothes that lasted a long time. People bought their relatively high-priced and not very fashionable clothes because they believed that they would last a long time (the promise). Fulfillment of the promise kept them coming back.
So far so good. Since trustworthy behaviour has a pay-off this acts as an incentive for people to behave in a manner that is positive for society. This positive aspect is important because it is our reliance on trust that bridges the information gap between what we are looking for someone to give us and the information that reassures us that they definitely will. If there was no trust, complex society would grind to a halt. Just consider the sign above the checkout till of a mom and pop store, 'In God we trust, everyone else pays cash'. If trust did not exist we would not believe any promises.
But such actions assume that the people who have acted postively in the past will see it in their long-term interests to act in a similar way in the future. What if their time horizons for a pay off become shorter? What if the reward that they want for their reputation increases?
There comes a time when people and organisations find that 'over-exploiting' the trust that they have built up is too tempting. They take a risk too far, they become over-ambitious and they quickly destroy what has been built up over a long period of time.
It's often possible to spot when this happens. Eager managers try and reinvent what they consider to be 'sleepy' organisations or inject entrepreneurial flair to a well-respected outfit, arrivistes who focus more on the money than the duller metrics of quality the organisation was previously focused on. Other situations include organisations making use of the goodwill (trust) that they have built up to expand into activities where their expertise will not be adequate and thus the trust that stakeholders placed in them will not be sustained.
Losing trust is therefore a feature of the human condition. I can think of no examples where fallible humans faced with having a deep well of trust have not sought to over exploit it and lose it as a result.
The temptation always proves to be too much.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to ShiaLuma for a blog entry, My personal thoughts on the elections.
I am very nervous about who's going to win. Trump is slightly edging out Hillary Clinton. I fear for the Muslims living in the US. I fear that something bad might happen. I really hope they are ready for when Trump starts his plan of banning Muslims, they need to find a safe place to reside. Luckily, I am in Canada which is a very safe home where I was born. I am fine with Justin Trudeau as prime minister succeeding Stephen Harper (who was going to make things worse for Muslims). Justin Trudeau is not that racist towards Muslims like Trump is, he is actually nice when compared to the racist garbage that Trump spews out. Canada is a good home for Muslims. I am really worried as I am writing this. I really do not want Trump to win.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to mshivji for a blog entry, General Discussion Requested: Imambargah.......???
U many be wondering/noticing as to why I insist on the imambargah issue and nothing else. WELL READ ON.....AND U MAY JOIN ME AND AGREE/ACCEPT......
Throughout my observations of many activities/events/programs/etc that takes place in a community, it mesmerizes/surprises me and I always ponder and saddened me: WHY DOES ALL (BE IT SPORTS/MADRESSA/YOUTH COMMITTEE/ETC) GET THEIR DUE RESPECT AND THERE ISN'T ANY DISTRACTION but come Imambaragh: it's like nothing is happeining/occurring or taking place....
For example :- 1. Let's start with Madressa : Children come and are instructed by the MADRESSA STAFF to be in the area where the Quran/Duas/Prayers/etc are held. There is a kitchen that needs to be attended to for the lunch/snaks for the children, a yard/ground(s) outside that needs to be maintained; BUT NO ONE CARES BUT WHAT GOES//TAKES PLACE WITHIN THE CLASES/HALL.
2. The Sports Complex/Gym:- the players are present where the games/activity is taking place and ONCE AGAIN THE KITCHEN IS PRESENT AND NEEDS TO FEED THE PLAYERS/VISITIORS/ATTENDEES/ETC and the yard needs to be maintained BUT NO ONE CARES AND ATTENDS TO IT.
3. The Youth Committee: Same: RESPECT GIVEN TO THE ACTIVITY/EVEN HELD BY THE YOUTH(S) BUT NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE KITCHEN/YARD.
4. No here is the most saddest part : IMAMBARGAH : NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE PROGRAMME (SAME THAT OF THE MADRESSA: QURAN/DUAS/PRAYERS THAT THE STAFF/STUDENTS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT AND IN THE RESPECTED PLACES) AND NOW EVERYONE CARES AOBUT THE SAME KITCHEN/GROUNDS/YARD AROUND THE COMPOUND THAT NO ONE CARED DURING THE MADRESSA/SPORTS CENTER/YOUTH COMMITTEE EVENTS.
So now I ask this question in my subject:- IMAMBARGAH.....????? WHAT/WHICH/WHEN/WHY/HOW/WHO....in re: Imambargah ?
Should it be a place where just like a 1. Feed my starving children 2. Majide noor feed the homeless kitchen event 3. Salvation army place thus we need not HOLD THE HOLY QURAN/DUAS/NAMAAZ/ISLAMIC TEACHINGS/ETC for it doesn't take place in the 1. Feed my starving children 2. Masjide Noor 3. Salvation army....
Lets have an open door discussion FOR I COULD BE THE ONE WITH A 1 MINDED BELIEF WEHRE I BELIEVE THAT THE IMAMBARGAH IS THE EXTENSION/COMPLIMENTARY OF THE MADRESSA WHERE THE CHILDREN/STUDENTS ESPECIALLY CAN CONTINUE THE HOLY QURAN/DUAS/NAMAAZ/ISLAMIC TEACHINGS FROM THE MADRESSA INTO THEIR HOMES....
Thanks in advance.....
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, Reflect & Improve!
Self development is an important practice. It helps you to understand yourself better and create balance in your life.
Self development is same as trying to clean a messy room after a month! To do so, you must start small and progress further, but how?
When you're new to something, you're told you "Observe and Report!". Same works for self development. You're supposed to reflect and improve what you find messed up about/within yourself. If you can't find the problem, you can't come up with a solution.
There's a hadith that states,
An hour of reflection is better than an entire year's worship
Before you go to sleep, think of all the things that you did that day, like replaying a movie of the entire day in your mind. What wrongs did you do and what rights did you do? Were you rude to someone or let out your anger on someone? Did you miss prayers? Were you selfish? Did you insult someone? Did you get into a fight? Perhaps someone got hurt because of you? You get the point.
Pick one and decide not to do it for one day. You could start with, I'll not be angry with anyone for the entire day. Go through it for one day and then increase the number of days to three and so on. Once you go through it for a month, move to the next bad habit.
It'll take time but it'll be worth it. One year and you'll be a completely different person; a person with a balanced and sound mind. (Unless your list is too long :3 )
Chaotic Muslem reacted to repenter-gone4awhile for a blog entry, Week 1
Height: 182cm Weight: 90kg
Bench: 125kg max Deadlift: 180kg max Squat: 150kg max
7 am Breakfast
Protein shake > 60g protein, 10g BCAA, 14g of Glutamine, 110kcal Rice porridge(300g) > 10g protein, 36g carbs, 264kcal 4 egg omlette > 28g protein, 22g fat, 310kcal
9 am Snack
1 Banana > 27g carbs, 125kcal walnuts(150g) > 28g protein, 5g carbs, 102g fat, 1050kcal
11 am Lunch
Tuna in oil(100g) > 25g protein, 4g fat, 130kcal Protein shake > 60g protein, 10g BCAA, 14g of Glutamine, 110kcal Fullcorn bread(200g) > 36g protein, 42g carbs, 19g fat, 516kcal
1 pm Snack
1 Banana > 27g carbs, 125kcal walnuts(150g) > 28g protein, 5g carbs, 102g fat, 1050kcal
4 pm pre workout
1 large steak(250g) > 56g protein, 263kcal Rice wild(150g) > 12g protein, 109g carbs, 516kcal Broccoli(200) > 6.4g protein, 5g carbs, 60kcal
Protein shake > 60g protein, 10g BCAA, 14g of Glutamine, 110kcal 1 Banana > 27g carbs, 125kcal walnuts(150g) > 28g protein, 5g carbs, 102g fat, 1050kcal
1 large steak(250g) > 56g protein, 263kcal Rice wild(150g) > 12g protein, 109g carbs, 516kcal Broccoli(200) > 6.4g protein, 5g carbs, 60kcal 8 pm Snack
1 Banana > 27g carbs, 125kcal walnuts(150g) > 28g protein, 5g carbs, 102g fat, 1050kcal 11 pm Night meal
Rice porridge(300g) > 10g protein, 36g carbs, 264kcal 4 egg omlette > 28g protein, 22g fat, 310kcal Glutamine 5g, Creatine 10g, Multivitamines, 2 spoons of omega 3 and 6 oils Total Values:
Morning before breakfast:
Weightlifting around 5pm
Day 1: Chest and Biceps Day 2: Shoulders and Traps Day 3: Upper back and Triceps Day 4: Rest Day 5: Lower back and legs Day 6: Triceps and Biceps Day 7: Repeat day 1 Structure:
6 exercises on each body part mentioned, all in super sets. Meaning when you are done with exercise 1 you immediately do exercise 2. Except Bench-press, dead-lift and squats which are done in normal sets as they are core movements and needs fulls strength and focus.
Buildup for each exercise is split pyramid with 4 sets of 12/10/8/6 reps. The lower the rep the heaver the weight gets.
Example - Benchpress
Set 1: 110kg 12 reps
60 seconds break
Set 2: 115kg 10 reps
60 seconds break
Set 3: 120kg 8 reps
60 seconds break
Set 4: 125kg 6 reps
Example superset Biceps:
Dumbell curls + Zbar curl
Set 1: 6 reps DC 6 reps Zbar
60 seconds break
Set 2: 5 reps DC 5 reps Zbar
60 seconds break
Set 3: 4 reps DC 4 reps Zbar
60 seconds break
Set 4: 3 reps DC 3 reps Zbar
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Developing a Personal Relationship with the Hidden Imam
During this occultation, there are unique trials, tests, tribulations, confusions and perplexities. Imam ar-Rida (as) said in two narrations that the Shi`a will be "refined (yuftanoon) just as gold is refined; purified just as gold is purified". (يفتنون كما يفتن الذهب، ثم قال: يخلصون كما يخلص الذهب.) When gold is taken out of the ground, it is black. During the refinement process, in order to rid it of excess minerals, it must be burned until nothing remains except pure gold. Likewise, during the occultation, "years will come that will perish them, a sword that will kill them, and a disagreement that will scatter them" (يأتي عليهم سنون تفنيهم، وسيف يقتلهم، واختلاف يبددهم ). In the same hadith, as-Sadiq says this process will continue until 300+ true Shi`a are left. If you read the narrations on what constitutes a true Shi`a of Ahl al-Bayt, it's a very high bar that many of us will never reach. Beyond the 313 companions of the Mahdi, he will have no less than 10,000 others in his army, who will be people of taqwa, but not at the same level of yaqeen as the 313. These are the people that survive the tribulations, which will cause many Shi`as and Muslims to deviate under the heat.
Not only are we supposed to "await the relief day and night" (ليتوقعوا الفرج صباحا ومساء), but awaiting the relief is considered a part of the relief (إنتظار الفرج من الفر ). This is a time period where we can gradually develop our relationship with the Imam and be counted from his followers without even fighting alongside him. The reward of one who recognizes him is like that of those who will be in his pavilion (ومن عرف إمامه ثم مات قبل أن يرى هذا الامر ثم خرج القائم عليه السلام كان له من الاجر كمن كان مع القائم في فسطاطه ).
Another spiritual instruction given to us for the occultation is to hold our tongues and stick to our homes (حفظ اللسان ولزوم البيت ). This is an indicator to the outward corruption and schism of this time period. The more time spent in the markets/malls, for example, the more likely we are to see/hear/do/buy things that are bad for our relationship with God and His representative. This is becoming increasingly the case with nudity, music marketed towards our desires, and a global culture that maximizes our ego and materialism.
Now, if you've read in between the lines, there's a trend here. Recognition of the Imam is not just knowing his name and biography. True recognition is to have an experiential relationship with him; so much so that you begin to take on his characteristics. Imam as-Sadiq (as) says, regarding the true Shi`a, "They are those, whose lives are so simple, whose abodes move from place to another, who, if they are seen they, will not be known, if they are absent, they will not be missed, if they become ill, they will not be visited, if they propose to a woman, they will not be married, and if they die, their funerals will not be attended. It is they, who divide their wealth among them, who visit each others' graves, and who never disagree even if their countries are different.” (أولئك الخفيض عيشهم، المنتقلة دارهم، الذين إن شهدوا لم يعرفوا، وإن غابوا لم يفتقدوا، وإن مرضوا لم يعادوا، وإن خطبوا لم يزوجوا، وإن ماتوا لم يشهدوا، أولئك الذين في أموالهم يتواسون، وفي قبورهم يتزاورون، ولا تختلف أهواؤهم وإن اختلفت بهم البلدان). This isn't an instruction to be aloof, but rather, it's describing the state of the true believers of this time. They will be supporters of one another and have close ties, but to the outside world, it is as if they do not even exist. They are not recognized by their merit, and that's exactly what is happening now. The good is seen as evil, and the evil is seen as good, and so consequently, the Shi`a are despised, rejected, unrecognized, not missed, not visited, and not felt for. Sound familiar?
This is a part of the tawalla and tabarra. Anyone can pray, fast, perform Hajj, and give alms, but the true Shi`i is the one who has a direct relationship with his Imam and disassociates from his enemies. During the time of Husayn (as), when he was calling his supporters to come with him to Karbala, it did not suffice to say "I am going to stay in Medina, pray more tahajjud, write up some fiqh manuals". The true supporter had to live Husayn's life and die his death. Those who didn't regretted that, and they became the tawwabun. During the time of as-Sadiq, he became a teacher and educator in theology and jurisprudence, and likewise, his companions were not off joining revolutions - they were students of his and teachers of the people.
What I find fascinating is that the 313 live the life of the Hidden Imam. That is, they live simply, they are unrecognized, they are forgotten, they support one-another, and they seclude themselves from the overspreading darkness of this world. They feel the Imam's suffering and fear, and live it. But, their proximity to Imam will allow them to all travel to Mecca prior to his coming. They will be the first to give bay`a to the Imam upon his appearance. Then, they take on the new characteristics of the Imam: utmost strength, courage, initiative, and they abandon taqiyya. Then, with the Imam together, they bring justice and peace to a world fraught with tyranny and injustice.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Ruq for a blog entry, Before bear became wavey
Wavey bear started life as a stationary, standing bear. His first words were somewhat anti-social
He experienced some conflict of identity at first
The stress of being a bear in a signature on Shia Chat would also cause him to morph into other bear sub-species
After a shaky start he settled into his role and started to become more friendly
Little did he know of the drama that was about to ensue. The forum under went an update and wavey bear disappeared! members were informed that a new restriction on signature size was in place and wavey bear was too tall to remain. So, being a bear, he naturally adapted
and continued to bestow felicitations
and generally get quite cosy.
Chaotic Muslem reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Reconfiguring Happy
I thought I’d put this together based on the discussion in laith’s spirituality thread.
The issue of happiness arose because striving for spirituality can involve lifestyle changes and I think a barrier to that can be a feeling that such a lifestyle will diminish one’s enjoyment of life.
Which leads us to wondering what it means to be happy and whether that can be changed.
Looking around me I see all sorts of people doing very different things and many of them at least claim to be happy. There’s the uncle who is not rich in any financial sense, but who spends entire days in Pakistan playing golf. There’s the barrister cousin who’s forever preparing for a very important court case or my mum who’ll cook for a hundred ladies for a majlis at our home.
In each instance, as I see it, these people have configured what it is that will make them happy and then gone about achieving it. In each instance what’s really smart is that they’ve configured happy in such a way that it is stretching but also actually achievable.
Achievable in the sense that given the environment and circumstances that they have and about which we can often do little, they’ve taken charge of those things which they can control, defined what happiness means on the basis of these and constructed it in such a way that they can get it. Stretching is also important because without it there can be no sense of achievement.
Most importantly, in each instance I can see that while they are happy there’ll be other people who can just as easily see that this is not the lifestyle that would make them happy. I would go mad if my daily routine involved taking a stick and repeatedly hitting into a small hole an even smaller ball.
Some of that definition of happiness depends on the meanings that we attach to things. I’ve explained what golf means to me. But for my uncle there’s clearly a sense of physical achievement, there’s the sportsman’s image he has of himself that’s reinforced and there are the meanings he associates with golf as an exclusive sport. For my mother the meanings are associated with the religious symbols, the wajib, the mustahab, the sawab and so on.
In each instance there’s also the social kudos. My uncle gets to meet the ‘higher-ups’ in Pakistani society and the approval of this social network is obviously important. The same goes for my mum. I wind her up by saying that I don’t see much difference between what motivates her and the Hindu and Sikh women I come across who put in a lot of effort to cook the meals at their local temples to win the appreciation of their social circles.
In each instance happiness has been configured in such a way that there’s an easily accessible social network of people who will appreciate what the individual can do. My mum’s social network of Shia ladies has developed organically over decades. My uncle’s social network was acquired when he left the UK and moved to Pakistan, joined the local golf club and impressed them with his skill.
Social networks are important because happiness is often co-created with the people around us. Those symbols and meanings often only really work when there is someone to share them with. Someone who can understand what they mean and what their significance is and with whom it’s possible to have a conversation about that shared interest and indeed to develop it.
Of course you can have symbols that have meaning only for you and where there may be no one else to share them with, but then the inner satisfaction will have to suffice. Many years ago I met Yousuf Karsh and I have an autographed book of his photos, but that name means nothing to anyone else that I know, but the knowledge of having met him gives me an inner glow. Sometimes there may be no symbols at all and also no-one else to share them with, I know of fairly anonymous investors who make lots of money and they’re quite happy with the anonymity or alternatively there are academics who have a lot of professional recognition, but much less money.
Yaani it’s L’Oreal and Wallahi you’re worth it
SoSolidShia who has since left Shiachat, (or was he banned?) used to have that as part of his avatar and I always thought it was quite clever. But it does remind us of how the messages we see every day remind us that thinking of the self is justified and that there is a cause and effect relationship between spending money and being happy.
Of course, there isn’t but many people are taken in by it. Is there a magic pill? If there is one the effects are only short-term before you need to spend again in order to get the next high.
To take the example of another type of product, what was initially presented as an occasional treat because of its high calorific value or sugar content, is promoted in such a way that it becomes part of our regular consumption and happy is replaced by habit and the company behind it has a bigger share of our wallet, which was always the intention.
When we buy happy then, it has to be on an irregular basis for it to keep delivering happiness.
Can buying happiness ever really pay off? When its consumption isn’t easy, when it requires some prior effort or engagement I think it can.
I remember spending hours sitting in theatres watching live performances of Shakespearean and other Jacobean plays. I am pretty sure there were more entertaining things to do for a sixteen-year-old. But it was very worthy. Certainly it wasn’t as much fun as the latest Hollywood blockbuster and obviously, it wasn’t as accessible. But it did make the study of English literature easier and yes, after a fashion it was actually enjoyable, especially when you knew the script and could decode the jokes. The prior study increased the enjoyment. Years later I can still remember some performances, but I can't remember any movies I watched at the time. So there's the added payoff of happy memories.
Something else that occupied my teenage years and was immensely fun was wet processing photographic film and photos. It was an interesting combination of art and science. I think all the people who have hobbies can understand. The people whose entertainment is mainly passive, such as watching television, might not.
The funny thing though is that the people with the hobbies may not necessarily be doing them to achieve happiness, it just happens as a by-product. In contrast, the people who switch on the television are chasing after happiness and yet when they find it, it’s likely to be more transient than for those people who just happened upon it.
There are two types of people today, those who create content and those who consume it. I think the creators are happier than the consumers.
And where there is an effort in achieving happy I think there is also the likelihood of satiety, the feeling of fulfillment and the need to do something else. In contrast, where the consumption of happiness is easy, where it is simply bought and passively consumed, the lack of satiety means that overconsumption is possible. We see some people watching inordinate amounts of television, we see increasing levels of obesity and rising levels of debt as people eat and buy themselves happy.
Happy about what?
I remember playing with car racing sets as a kid. It was never a satisfactory experience. One car in the set would always be intrinsically faster than the other, you could predict who would win the race depending on what car they had.
There was clearly a difference between what those, admittedly cheap, sets could deliver and what my expectations were. Expectations that are higher than what we can realistically receive will always end in disappointment. Happy people have their expectations met or exceeded. But setting expectations that are too low may lead to people serially taking advantage of you since you never complain.
What’s the solution here?
It’s a question of differentiating between what matters and what does not. And even, more importantly, it’s a matter of assessing whether the people we are dealing with can actually deliver what they promise.
Too often we are willing to suspend disbelief, take people at their word and believe their promises. They patently cannot deliver, but we refuse to believe that, sometimes this is because of our own ignorance or greed. The possible gain seems so attractive that we fall for the lie. Conmen do this all the time. Often what is at stake is either money or love because in both areas we really find it difficult to behave rationally. The Nigerian 419 scam goes for people who believe that you can get large sums of money easily and men from various developing countries make promises of love to older, richer single white women in the West via the internet, which usually involves a trip to the local branch of western union. These are extreme examples, but it happens to a lesser extent for different products and services all the time.
Then there’s the issue of differentiating between what matters and what does not. Life is too short, you cannot complain about everything. Indeed, it may well be the case that you took someone at their word, perhaps even knowing that they could not and would not deliver everything that they promised, but you knew deep down that this did not really matter, but you were confident that what you really were interested in would actually be delivered.
In my opinion, this marks the difference between two types of people who go on the hajj. The knowledgeable ones know what constitutes for a good hajj, where you were guided correctly by the alim with you and where the requirements were fulfilled correctly. These people also know what questions to ask different hajj organisers in order to ensure that their expectations about the fulfilment of their obligations are met. They can hear the promises about the hotel, but they know deep down that whether or not these are fulfilled, does not really matter.
On the other hand, there are people who may not really know what their religious obligations are. These are the people who lose focus and are the ones who are unhappy about not getting enough food at Mina, the waiting around and the quality of the hotel. Not only are they unhappy but they are unhappy about the wrong things and perhaps even happy at the wrong things as well!
Reconfiguring happy then, is a matter of being clear what we should be happy about, ensuring that we get that and not worrying when other promises that people make are not delivered.
The disappointment of loss
Too often people set expectations about what it is that will make them happy that is either unachievable or costly in a variety of other ways. The trick perhaps is to focus on what we can directly achieve by ourselves with the minimum of resources. It’s being able to do what is costless better than before and deriving satisfaction from it. And the only costless activity, over which we have complete control, in my opinion, is prayer.
At the same time, it’s not a matter of eschewing or rejecting what the world has to offer. Rather it’s the ability to be happy if you have the material goods but not disappointed if you don’t. It’s being able to walk away dispassionately in the face of material loss. I'll deal with the latter issue in this post.
Equanimity in the face of loss takes practice.
The practice comes from giving charity. Each time we do it, we cut our bonds from the material, so that when losses occur as a result of circumstances over which we have no control they affect us less and we do not suffer unhappiness.
Psychologically humans hate incurring losses. It’s part of our DNA. Nobel prize winning research has shown this. We do all sorts of crazy things in order to avoid losses. Give someone the option of paying $1.30 for a gallon of gas and receiving a $0.10 rebate if they pay by cash or instead paying $1.20 by credit card and incurring a $0.20 surcharge and they’ll always go for the $1.30 option. The cash buyers will do it for obvious reasons and the people paying by credit card will do it as well because paying the $1.30 as a default option is far less psychologically painful than seeing a base price of $1.20 and then realising that choosing to pay by credit card will involve incurring an additional $0.20.
There have been a number of other studies along similar lines, all demonstrating that we will often engage in irrational actions to avoid losses. I’ve previously linked to a lecture given by Robert Shiller at Princeton where he refers to people taking out (really bad value) insurance policies for individual flights in order not to incur a loss.
Another often quoted example in this area is to do with how much value we attach to things we own. Experiments show that if people own something they’ll ascribe a higher value to it than other people who do not.
Giving to charity then or detaching ourselves from what we own, is difficult for humans. It is part of the human condition. And yet IIRC the Qur’an mentions charity every time it mentions prayer.
I think it works in a number of different ways. I’ve outlined one and another that comes to mind is my view that the Qur’an is recognising that wherever someone has gains (on which charity can be paid), they will invariably at some point suffer a loss. When people who have had gains give some of them away as charity when the invariable losses do happen, they will, at least, have the comfort in knowing that while they had it, they spent it on assets for the akhira.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
A discussion about achievements in life or the lack of them in the Thoughts threads reminded me of this.
We often think about what we could have done, would have done or should have done. This can become a maudlin exercise full of regrets and unhappy thoughts.
Often such thinking can lead to issues about what we’ll do now to address this and I wonder whether the options discussed are always advisable.
Just because we did not do a certain degree 15 years ago, does that mean we’ll be any better off or happier doing it now? The world when the decision was taken not to do the degree or when the opportunity was missed, was a different world to the one we are in now. The benefits of that degree may well have changed. The costs of doing it now may well be different to what they would have been in the past, so the value of the whole exercise may be different as well.
In hankering after what could have been and in trying to get it back we could be losing focus on what else we could be achieving now in the time that we have left that may offer greater value.
The whole process of looking backwards is one that assumes we are now older than we were before. As we get older the reduction in the time that we have left becomes more acute – the focus now really has to be on what really matters.
So as we get older the very process of worrying about previously missed material gains and losses may actually compound the problem rather than make it better. The goals have to be different now.
The benefit that age brings is that older people can compare the achievements and mistakes of people that they have known over a long period of time. Young people cannot do this. They can be told about it, but personal experience often has more resonance.
Older people can see where their peers started, what they did in terms of materialistic and spiritual activities and observe where they have ended up. That longitudinal perspective is one whose benefit you don’t have if you are young.
In the final calculation when you start attending the funerals of people you have known for a long-time, you realise how futile material achievements are, especially at the margins. If an individual has acquired enough material success to have been self-sustaining (including any family) surely any assessments of success and failure over the life led thus far need to be in terms of spiritual and moral mistakes and future rectifications?
Thought of in this way, reflections about the past become an intensely productive, positive and indeed happy activity. Because whatever happened in the past that enabled us to arrive at a destination where there is a realisation (niyat) that rectification is necessary, surely that has been a positive result?
These are the only changes that I can think of which are not rendered irrelevant by changing circumstances in the same way as the ones I mentioned at the start of this post.