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In the Name of God بسم الله
Cake reacted to Islamic Salvation for a blog entry, The Greatest Companion of the Two Imams
يقول لك جعفر بن محمد: ما حملك على أن رددت شهادة رجل أعرف بأحكام الله منك و أعلم بسيرة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم منك
Ja’far b. Muhammad says to you - what made you reject the witness of a man [i.e. Muhammad b. Muslim] who is more aware of the Ahkam of Allah than you and more knowledgeable about the Sirah of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم than you!? [Imam al-Sadiq challenging Ibn Abi Layla who was the Qadhi of Kufa]
فما يمنعك من محمد بن مسلم الثقفي فإنه قد سمع من أبي و كان عنده وجيها
What prevents you from [going to] Muhammad b. Muslim al-Thaqafi - for he had heard [narrations] from my father and had a most favorable position with him [Imam al-Sadiq answering Abdallah b. Abi Ya’fur who had asked for a reference point to ask questions to when he cannot meet the Imam directly]
فقال: الثقفي الطويل اللحية ؟ فقلنا: نعم قال: أما إنه لقد كان مأمونا على الحديث و لكن كانوا يقولون إنه خشبي
He said: al-Thaqafi - the one with the long beard? We said: Yes. He said: as for him - then - he was trusted in the matter of Hadith, but they used to say that he is a Khashshabi (derogatory term for Shi’as) [Sharik voices his opinion of Muhammad b. Muslim inadvertently revealing the size of his beard]
The Greatest Companion of the Two Imams
If someone were to ask the question: Who was the greatest companion of the two Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq? What would be the answer?
The Big Four
The starting point has to be four individuals.
حمدويه، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، عن سليمان بن خالد الأقطع قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: ما أحد أحيا ذكرنا و أحاديث أبي عليه السلام إلا زرارة و أبو بصير ليث المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و بريد بن معاوية العجلي و لو لا هؤلاء ما كان أحد يستنبط هذا، هؤلاء حفاظ الدين و أمناء أبي عليه السلام على حلال الله و حرامه، و هم السابقون إلينا في الدنيا و السابقون إلينا في الآخرة
Sulayman b. Khalid al-Aqta said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: There is no one who has enlivened our remembrance and the narrations of my father عليه السلام except for Zurara, Abu Basir Layth al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli. If it wasn’t for them then there wouldn’t be anyone who could derive these [i.e. the Ahkam]. They are the protectors of the religion and the trustees of my father عليه السلام upon the Halal of Allah and His Haram. They are the foremost to us in this world, and the foremost to us in the hereafter.
حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن جميل بن دراج قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: بشر المخبتين بالجنة بريد بن معاوية العجلي و أبو بصير ليث بن البختري المرادي و محمد بن مسلم و زرارة، أربعة نجباء أمناء الله على حلاله و حرامه، لو لا هؤلاء انقطعت آثار النبوة و اندرست
Jamil b. Darraj said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام say: Give glad tidings of paradise to the humble - Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Abu Basir Layth b. al-Bukhtari al-Muradi, Muhammad b. Muslim and Zurara. Four noble-ones and trustees of Allah upon his Halal and Haram. If it wasn’t for them the traces of prophethood would have perished and been destroyed.
حمدويه، عن محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد و يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن أبي العباس البقباق عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام أنه قال: أربعة أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا، بريد بن معاوية العجلي و زرارة بن أعين و محمد بن مسلم و أبو جعفر الأحول، أحب الناس إلي أحياء و أمواتا
Imam al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: The most beloved persons to me - whether alive or dead - are four: Burayd b. Muawiya al-Ijli, Zurara b. A’yan, Muhammad b. Muslim and Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal. They are the most beloved persons to me - alive or dead.
If one wishes to narrow it down further then it has to be between Zurara and Muhammad b. Muslim. This is because of their prodigious scholarly output.
With close to two thousand reports quoted on his authority in the four main collections of Shi‘ite Hadıth and many more in others, Muhammad b. Muslim was one of the most prolific transmitters of Shi‘ite Hadıth. This is why he was unanimously considered as one of the Ashab al-Ijma [‘People about whom there is consensus’].
قال أبو أحمد: فسمعت عبد الرحمن بن الحجاج و حماد بن عثمان يقولان: ما كان أحد من الشيعة أفقه من محمد بن مسلم
Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj and Hammad b. Uthman said: there was no one from the Shia more knowledgeable (in the Diin) than Muhammad b. Muslim.
His knowledge was not of the theoretical type, which in any case is not true knowledge, but of the type which is translated into action.
وقيل: إنه كان من العباد في زمانه
It is said that he was one of the greatest worshippers of his time.
His full name was Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Muslim b. Rabah (d. 150 AH, when he was about seventy years old). From Kufa. A Miller. The Client of Thaqif [a tribe based in Ta’if]. He was One-eyed.
al-Najashi says about him:
وجه أصحابنا بالكوفة، فقيه، ورع، صحب أبا جعفر وأبا عبد الله عليهما السلام، وروى عنهما، وكان من أوثق الناس
The eminent head of our companions in Kufa. Jurisprudent. Pious. He attached himself to Aba Ja’far and Aba Abdillah عليهما السلامand narrated from them. He was the most trustworthy of people.
Long Period of Study
Muhammad b. Muslim says about his tutelage under the Imams:
حدثني حمدويه بن نصير، قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن ياسين الضرير البصري، عن حريز، عن محمد بن مسلم قال: ما شجر في رأيي شئ قط إلا سألت عنه أبا جعفر عليه السلام، حتى سألته عن ثلاثين ألف حديث، وسألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن ستة عشر ألف حديث
Nothing crossed my mind except that I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام about it, until I had asked him about thirty thousand narrations. I also asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about sixteen thousand narrations.
قال محمد بن مسعود، حدثني علي بن محمد، قال حدثني محمد بن أحمد، عن عبد الله بن أحمد الرازي، عن بكر بن صالح، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن سالم، قال: أقام محمد بن مسلم بالمدينة أربع سنين يدخل على أبي جعفر عليه السلام يسأله، ثم كان يدخل على جعفر بن محمد يسأله
Hisham bin Salim said: Muhammad b. Muslim stayed in Madina for four years entering upon Abi Ja’far عليه السلام and asking him questions, then he used to enter upon Ja'far b. Muhammad عليه السلام to ask him.
Why Choose to be a Miller?
Muhammad b. Muslim chose the lowly profession of a miller not because of any material need, but because of the Imam’s command to ‘humble himself’. The Imam advised him to do this because he knew that his great knowledge combined with affluence could make him arrogant.
قال أبو النضر: سألت عبد الله بن محمد بن خالد عن محمد بن مسلم فقال: كان رجلا شريفا موسرا، فقال له أبو جعفر عليه السلام: تواضع يا محمد، فلما انصرف إلى الكوفة أخذ قوصرة من تمر مع الميزان، وجلس على باب المسجد الجامع، وصار (جعل) ينادي عليه، فأتاه قومه فقالوا له: فضحتنا، فقال: إن مولاي أمرني بأمر فلن أخالفه ولن أبرح حتى أفرغ من بيع ما في هذه القوصرة، فقال له قومه: إذا أبيت إلا أن تشتغل ببيع وشراء فاقعد في الطحانين، فهيأ رحا وجملا وجعل يطحن
Abu al-Nadhr said: I asked Abdallah b. Muhammad b. Khalid [al-Tayalisi] about Muhammad b. Muslim - he said: He was a noble and wealthy man so Abu Ja’far عليه السلام said to him: ‘humble yourself O Muhammad’, so when he returned to Kufa he took a date-basket and a weighing scale and sat down at the door of the central mosque and began calling out [for people to come buy]. His tribesmen came to him and said to him: You have disgraced us! He said: My master has ordered me [to do something] so I will not disobey him nor will I depart until I finish selling what is in this basket. His tribesmen said to him: If you refuse giving up buying and selling then at least sit together with the millers [a more respectable profession], so he prepared a mill-stone and a camel and began grinding.
Cake reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Unlimited pleasure
There are arguments given by atheists challenging religious beliefs, and resulting practices that science does not support and which atheists argue should be abandoned by believers.
In this essay, I want to look at one example, where I think science is catching up with religion.
The industrial farming of sugar by Europeans in the West Indies, starting from the eighteenth century, is a good example of improving the supply of something that was supposed to vastly improve the pleasure of significant numbers of people at little cost. Almost suddenly the population of Europe discovered how to sweeten their diet. It took many many decades to realise that, of course, there were health costs and the realisation that industrial production on this scale and such limited cost required unacceptable human sacrifices as well.
The story for tobacco is a similar one.
Relatively more recently we've cracked the problem of industrially producing foods that were hitherto a luxury, such as chicken. But at least in this instance, the knowledge that the welfare costs borne by the chicken are unacceptable has come much more quickly than was the case for the slaves producing sugar and tobacco. In the case of the chicken attempts to improve the situation have happened more quickly as well.
We could list similar examples wherever man has acquired the technical knowledge that the hitherto expensive and difficult to manufacture could be made more cheaply in many instances this has come with a high cost to the human workers and animals involved in the production process.
But what is also noteworthy is that in many instances there has also been an unacceptable cost to the consumers who had originally assumed that a source of cheap pleasure had been discovered. A high sugar diet kills, low tobacco consumption kills and meat produced with little regard for animal welfare is not healthy either.
What are the implications for today? Just as improvements in shipping, various agricultural practices and refining processes allowed us to produce sugar, so various technical advances have allowed us to produce far higher and better 'quality' levels of entertainment for far lower cost than was previously ever the case. In a matter of 50 year years, television has gone from something that could only realistically be watched for a few hours a day to something that can deliver a variety of entertainment 24 hours a day, seven days a week for entire years. And we now realise the health costs of a sedentary lifestyle.
But television also provides a good example of another risk that we are facing. The passive consumption of such entertainment nevertheless requires on the part of those being entertained some variety and on the part of those providing the entertainment there are advantages to reducing costs.
Adding to this toxic mix is the realisation that although the original goals for entertainment may have been lofty, without a strict ethical and moral framework imposing restrictions the result is all too easily entertainment that appeals to the lowest common denominator and that is sex and we have the 21st century equivalent of sugar, which is pornography.
There is a growing, but still limited, understanding of the effect of the consumption of porn, and in the case of children the science is still in its infancy. Also, the longer-term effects on entire societies are not well understood, because the experiments necessary to understand the impact are still being done, in real-time on actual societies.
We are the guinea pigs because even people who do not consciously watch pornography are affected by people who do. The producer who makes a 'racy' drama for mass family audiences, could likely have had their ideas on what is acceptable shaped by their consumption of pornography. Gender relations, how men interact with women are all influenced by the communications to which they are exposed. The impact can therefore be in terms of how ubiquitous (pervasive) the impact is and also how insidious. Without stretching the point, the parallel with sugar is again interesting. Sugar consumption has become pervasive, we consume it even when we do not think we are, it is present in all manner of unlikely foods. Because, once marketers recognised our preference - including it in a wide range of offerings (in order to be customer focused) was the normal reaction of the market place.
Like sugar, pornography held the promise of unlimited pleasure, at very low cost.
Religious and moral objectors have appeared to have little science to back their reservations. If you combine the morality of the market with the assumption that anything adults (in this case the actors who perform) do out of their free will, for a fair wage, is acceptable, then there appear to be no restrictions at all as to what is done. Porn becomes a guilt-free pleasure.
Initially, with what vestige of moral scruples remained, there were restrictions on supply and limitations on what children could watch. But in the case of children the advance of technology has meant that those restrictions have become difficult to enforce and regarding moral limits these have become more lax, as each passing generation has become more liberal in its tolerance of what is acceptable, having been conditioned by what they were exposed to.
But just as our experience with sugar and tobacco and other products has shown us over the past few centuries, our being able to deliver pleasure at an industrial scale for low cost for the 'benefit' of large sections of society never ends well.
At least with these offerings, the long-term costs paid by consumers were purely physical, with more recent products subject to industrialisation the costs are more likely to be psychological.
An Islamic society that adheres to its principles would likely not have affected the growth trajectories of sugar and tobacco, other than perhaps slow down their initial establishment.
The fair treatment of slaves would have imposed higher costs. However, in the case of pornography restrictions on what people are allowed to see of others should provide clear limits as to what can and cannot be consumed. Bear in mind that Islam does not have some vague restrictions on what people can and cannot see, the restrictions are explicit and formalised.
This approach has a clear advantage when it comes to something like porn, whose non-religious definition has clearly changed over the years. What is now healthy family viewing was porn for previous generations. This is a product whose very consumption affects how we define it. Yet the Islamic injunction is very clear and is intended to hold for all time.
This is a clear case of where science catches up with orthodox, traditional religious morality.