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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Like
    Brained reacted to starlight for a blog entry, Importance of resorting completely to Allah(سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)   
    Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: 'Allah revealed to Dawud(as): " When one of my servants resorts to me and not to anyone of My creation, I know that from his inner intention, such that even if the skies and the Earth and their inhabitants were to conspire against him, I will make an outlet for him in spite of them. And when one of My servants resorts to one of my creatures, I know that too from his intention, such that I cut off the means of subsistence of the skies from him, and I will make the Earth disintegrate from under him, and do not care in which valley he perishes."'  al-Kafi,v.2, p.52,no.1.
    Imam Jafar al-Sadiq(عليه السلام) said: ' Whoever from among the servants of Allah devotes himself towards that which Allah loves, Allah too devotes Himself to that which he loves. And whoever resorts entirely to Allah, Allah protects him, and whoever turns towards Allah, Allah accepts him and protects him, such that whether the sky was falling upon the Earth, or a calamity was to befall all the inhabitants of the Earth, he would in the Party of Allah, secure from all calamities. Indeed,does not Allah say: "Surely those who guard against evil are in a secure place?"' (Qur'an 44:51)   al-Kafi,v.2,p.53,no.4
  2. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Raising Maryam - Fencing in the library   
    Admittedly it was my own little idea/theory that fencing was a great sport for Muslim ladies. Being fully covered and all. And when it was a (paid) option in Maryam's new school I suggested she try it. She did and claimed to be interested in it, to the extent that after the first year's lessons we enrolled her for lessons in the second year of the school as well.
    Then one day we needed to pick her up early from the school and found out that she was not in the fencing class. She was sitting in the library, apparently where she had been for a few weeks during fencing lessons.
    For some reason, she was not liking fencing and didn't have the heart to tell us.
    We told her the range of reasons why this behaviour was not acceptable.
    Fast forward to a few weeks later and we're discussing what novels she could be reading. She opts for Dosteovsky's, 'Crime and Punishment'. Remembering the fencing issue and that perhaps she had chosen it to please me, I freely tell her I found it extremely boring when I was her age (in fact I never picked it up again!).
    But she works her way through it, seems to have a reasonable understanding of the plot and then moves onto. Wait for it. It's a good one.
    War & Peace.
    I think Anna Karenin is far more readable, but the plot obviously not so wholesome.
    Talking to her about it, seems that she's up with the personal relationships and less so with the military side of things, but I guess that is to be expected. At a deeper level I am not so sure about the literary benefit of reading these works in translation.
    At the time she chose these I had been gunning for George Eliot as summer time reading.
  3. Like
    Brained reacted to Shian e Ali for a blog entry, When you're an Introvert   
    Let's spread some light on how life is when you're an introvert. Now, I've seen many people claiming to be introverts when they read about us but just because you can relate to a few of the things doesn't make you one of us, you loser! Everyone's a bit introverted and a bit extroverted. If you're more introverted, you're an introvert and the same for an extrovert. If you're somewhere in between, you're an ambivert and that's no fun at all. Seriously, you're no fun.
    For starters, introverts are pretty selective about who they talk to mostly. For the ones we do care about, we talk a lot, we're chatterboxes! But we're more on the listening side. When with someone new, we listen, we smile, we don't know what would be the right thing to say... Yups! But even after being with friends, it becomes exhausting. Extroverts are like leeches, always ready to feed on energy when it comes to socializing. Poor introverts only give energy when we socialize which makes it really exhausting after some time. So, we want to be left alone for some time so we can recharge. So, keep away!

    See that bubble up there, extroverts? Try not to burst it, you monsters! We feel really safe inside of it. Yeah, you can't see it but you can get an idea of what you're being really annoying. Trust me! We're amazing once we let you in that bubble but try to keep it slow and let us learn if you're our type or not. We're sensitive, you know... Nah! We're not. At least all introverts aren't. We can be heartless too. *wink*

    Calls... Oh! Please don't call... We can chat through Whatsapp or how about SMS?  If you're an introvert, you'll get it.
    Although we don't like to socialize much but getting ignored isn't that great either. We're pretty happy by ourselves too. Unlike extroverts, it's not that easy for an introvert to get bored. Especially when you have shiachat to waste time on... Or reading too. Yes, we do that too.
    Like I said before, we're great listeners but an introvert with a great imagination will get lost in his own fantasy world the moment you start to get boring. Don't believe me? The next time you've been talking to an introvert for too long, when you finish, you'll see him/her smile only. You know why? Cuz s/he has no idea what you said. So, s/he just smiled. I do that a lot too. Extroverts do that too... So rude of them!
    Well, I think that's all for now. I can't really come up with anything else for now. Update complete! Time for gaming!
    Introvert, signing out!
  4. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, The socialised costs of free-to-choose   
    In debt management circles the 'light bulb moment' is when someone hit with the problems of managing debt and related financial problems suddenly realises that the solution lies within them and their spendthrift lifestyle.
    Following 'the lightbulb moment', the individual chooses a lifestyle that does not involve so much consumption and thus improves their personal finances. But arriving at the lightbulb moment is a challenge.
    People have been brainwashed to believe that they must have xyz products and services and woe upon anyone who dares to suggest that these are luxuries and not necessities.
    We have, today, a prevailing ideology that other people should not be criticised for their lifestyle choices. People are said to be free to choose whatever it is that makes them happy and as long as it is 'legal' it is ok. Of course if enough people do something illegal it becomes possible to reclassify it as legal, but that is another story.
    We've therefore evolved into a society where the people who wish to take advantage of the emotional and rational frailty of others are given a free hand. The countervailing forces are stymied.
    In contemporary society a significant means by which people express their choices is via the market in terms of what they buy. In a politically correct world the only parties to the buying and selling are the customer driven by their internal desires and the seller driven by the need to make a profit.
    All too often the seller does their work with ruthless efficiency, and if they don't they go bust. And if the customer makes poor choices, political correctness again weighs in and it isn't acceptable to criticise them. Neither the people around them can do this and neither can government.
    The market itself sometimes imposes restrictions, bad behaviour can result in higher insurance premiums, and an inability to manage debt can result in fewer credit card issuers willing to do business - but the focus here is on protecting the sellers' businesses rather than the customers' welfare.
    In some extreme political circles the case is made, that people who are on e.g. foodstamps should not be allowed to buy alcohol, but this is often seen as unfairly restricting the freedom of the poor.  
    Occasionally the issue becomes overwhelming and government can't avoid taking its responsibilities and it does run campaigns against specific products such as tobacco, salt and now there is a proposed sugar tax in some countries. But that is rare. Certainly no government can recommend that people spend less, for fear of destroying the consumer economy.
    Another factor driving change has been the impact on public health finances of those people making poor lifestyle choices and in some areas of the UK, the health services are trying to restrict the amount of (free) healthcare given to people who are obese or who smoke.
    This approach is commonsense. People can either take the Islamic approach to controlling their nafs, or they can take the economic approach and suffer the financial consequences - but the end point will be the same.
    Perhaps the 'free-to-choose' ideology was just an artefact of a society that could afford this luxury and if times become more straitened, they'll also become more enlightened?
  5. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Game theory and salaam   
    Islamic etiquette holds that in any encounter the first person to say Salaam gets a multiple of the blessings that the person who is being addressed receives when he replies.
    This is interesting because since Salaam means peace, it's clear that the first person in the encounter who makes their intentions known to the other party is the one who is doing the most to promote co-operation - since it is they who are removing any doubt that the encounter will be peaceful.
    Robert Axelrod in his work on game theory (The Evolution of Co-operation) sets the following criteria as the ones which promote co-operation, 
    being clear,  retaliating and  being forgiving. Being the first to say salaam makes the individual's co-operative intentions clear and thus promotes co-operation on the part of the other party. 
    Islam also sets clear guidelines for retaliation should co-operation not be forthcoming, and the other party seeks to take advantage of those with peaceful intentions. The religion also sets the penalties for infringing on the rights of others - and thus makes clear to others that Muslims will not be the first to instigate aggression.
    Game theorists recognise that being clear about a willingness to retaliate actually promotes peace, because the other party knows that there will be a penalty to pay for aggression. 
    However, in Islam forgiveness is also considered important, since it gives the other side an opportunity to behave in a more co-operative manner in the future.
  6. Like
    Brained reacted to yasahebalzaman.313 for a blog entry, From Roman Catholic - to Agnostic - to Islam Shia   
    After having many people telling me I should write my story and that it will be beneficial for my Shia brothers and sisters, that it would be inspirational for their religious path, I decided to write it.
    Humans from the very beginning of time fight for something to believe in, they struggle with reality as they try to make sense of their world. As I grew up I always felt there was an ultimate truth and knowledge hidden from us, I just didn’t know where and how to look or even What to look for. I used to lead a reckless sinful lifestyle, since I was trying to find my place in this world in my own ways so I decided to try everything and live with no boundaries. I always felt this deep Emptiness that was never filled, so I did what I had to do in order to discover what might fill this empty hole. I even experienced the power of love but it was all just temporary, everything in this world is temporary. I loved to try everything, I had neither moral standards nor basics to follow, I used to love life and was living it to its fullest. I felt independent like nothing and no one can stop me because I was free to do whatever I want but in reality I had all these invisible chains around me pulling me back deceiving me to think that I was liberated (that’s one of the tricks of the devil he makes you think you’re free but you’re his prisoner).
    I felt the happiness instantly with the moment and later when I’d go home I would feel depressed and sad like I was missing something, I couldn’t sit alone I couldn’t stand home, my soul was always agitated and unsettled.
    I studied Christianity before but it was all science fiction. Studying Christianity made me even more lost and drove me to doubt the existence of God, which was worse; I would die just to know what can fill this empty space I always had. I asked myself is that it? We came here to eat sleep party have fun work make a family and die...
    One night when I hit rock bottom after I finished this self-discovery journey and I arrived nowhere, I started calling upon God (without even being sure that He existed and listening), I told him God if you were there if you existed please help me find my way, suddenly and out of nowhere there was someone whom I’ve met 4 years ago, he started coming up to my mind which was so weird because I had no interest what so ever to talk to him and see him(because he was a Muslim and I didn’t like Islam just like any other brainwashed Christian middle eastern person) so I contacted him, turns out he was a committed Shia who triggered my path into Islam, and in the same time I met a Christian man who was living in France and he converted the same month as I did, this was God telling me that I’m not alone, this was God giving me a kind of motif, I mean what are the odds?
    Whoever wants God, God will answer him, He will not leave him alone, but only few people really want God all they want is this world, they are blinded by it.
    When I found Islam, my ultimate destiny, and when I found God I felt so ecstatic and intense, I felt this deep power and enlightenment, It was entirely uplifting, deeply emotional and pleasurable, I felt a deep joy that finally my existence made sense, that God gave me a purpose to live for to strive for and to fight for, to reach the highest level of existence. He chose me out of all these people who are lost, I had met more than 2,000 people and he just gave me this special gift, showed me the door to his secrets, Our(Shias) status To God is special, this is why we should fight this world and fight ourselves and desires and never give up, to be worthy of this privilege that God gave us. When I personally realized this it was time for the hard work. When we understand the power laying behind us we would never have to fear anything ever again in our entire life. 
    I was so afraid to jump into this transition, my faith was weak and I had doubts at some moments. I had to give up my friends, my activities, habits, shut off my desires, change my morals, my rules, my lifestyle, my priorities, my social life, my behavior… I was shifting my core belief which is something very hard for a human to change. I was trapped and afraid at some point; I didn’t know how to do it. I was never home, I was never alone, I was lazy, I never respected my parents, I didn’t prioritize anything except my plans, I’d quite jobs because my work schedule didn’t match my entertaining plans...This is how much I was messed up and attached to the world.
    I seeked happiness and the more you feel happiness the more you want it, it’s like a drug, so you indulge more in dunya activities until you are completely lost. Happiness wasn’t created to feel here, happiness is for the next world, we should never waste time here getting attached to this world because we will do eventually whatever we want in the afterlife. We are born to pass this test and to return to our original home where Prophet Adam was created. It took me time to realize this.
    My friends were atheists, mushrikin, infidels, and almost all my activities were sinning, I quite them all and now I don’t befriend no one but the lovers of Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). It was very hard and I suffered deeply at some point, washing away your sins purifying yourself from them is EXTREMELY hard, it’s like you’re pulling forward and the devil is pulling you back all the time. But God didn’t let me feel I’m alone, he rewarded me, gave me a steady job where I can be fully committed in, gave me this feeling of security and self-satisfaction, gave me Many privileges that I didn’t possess before. This entire process made me someone else; I became very mentally strong and different. Islam isn’t for sissies; Islam needs strengths, stability, mental toughness, brave hearted individuals who take sacrifices for God, who are ready to face the evil and the challenges of this world.
    The equation is simple, as much as you give God as much as He gives you in return. After I was guided I tested myself, tried doing some things that I did in the past to see if this was a phase in my life, but I felt disgusted ashamed weak and I became afraid of death. Now if I touch a man by mistake or if I eat something from a table that has alcohol on it without paying attention I would think about it for 3 days feeling guilty because I disappointed God. I do not fear punishment as much I fear to fail God, because I love Him, that is the true worshiping. Each time I do something to get closer to God I feel my soul elevating I feel that I’m gaining spiritual power and my perspective towards the world changes… Everyone told me it's just a phase but as each day is passing I'm falling more in love with this religion and with Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). I still have hard time committing to my religion as my parents don't know(or kinda in denial), so I practice everything in secrecy.
    To conclude I want to tell you something, brothers and sisters, this world is evil, you shouldn’t love it nor seek to have fun in it, you should hate it and never ever be dependent on something related to it, even though I know the truth behind my past life how it’s all evil empty and worthless, it still tempts me sometimes till this very day, the love of this world isn’t easy so don’t get yourself trapped because once you’re in it’s so difficult to get out. Don’t go to hell to enjoy life here; don’t sell your soul to the devil.
  7. Like
    Brained 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.
  8. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Old certainties   
    The election of Donald Trump has been attributed to a number of factors from straight out racism and sexism to economic dislocation and to the social and cultural change that has been taking place in the United States and which has not been welcomed in all quarters.
    The result of these perceived slights has been the election of someone who can at best be described as chauvinistic and at worst a reactionary conservative.
    What is noteworthy, however, is the extent to which this election is accepted as representing generally reasonable grievances. It is claimed that this is a cry for the silent majority to be listened to.
    All this may well be, but it should also be noted that there are peoples and cultures (sometimes Muslim ones) around the world who have suffered far greater hardship over the past several decades and whose cultures have faced far greater assault from without.
    Yet, when they try and reassert themselves they are critcised for being the authors of their own hardship and indeed the cultural sovereignty they aspire to is ridiculed on the basis for having been the cause of their failures to date.
    The very same criticisms could be levelled at Americans. They've passed the torch of economic leadership to other countries and as a result do not have the same opportunities that they once did. They should accept this and look within themselves, their beliefs, reward systems and work ethics.
    The United States has elected a candidate who seeks to reassert America's economic greatness, not by introspction and making America more competitive but by changing the rules of the game in terms of international trade deals. The same economic order that brough America so much prosperity in the past is now being changed because China and India have risen and the old rules no longer serve America as they used to.
    Similarly while the U.S. has been happy to export its culture overseas, when its white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture becomes threatened by a brown Spanish speaking Catholic one, the challenge must be met.
    In the final calculation, there's one set of rules for the U.S. and another set for other countries and cultures.
  9. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Sun Will Rise From Where It Set   
    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    A famous eschatological expression is that the Sun will rise from the West ( طلوع الشمس من المغرب من المحتوم ). In Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad (s) says, "When three things appear, a person's faith will not avail him if he had not believed before or did not earn goodness from his faith: (1) The rising of the Sun from its setting place, (2) The Dajjal, and (3) The Beast of the Earth." (ثلاث إذا خرجن لا ينفع نفسا إيمانها لم تكن آمنت من قبل أو كسبت في إيمانها خيرا: طلوع الشمس من مغربها، و الدجال ودابة الأرض ).
    In my reading of the hadith literature, there is a strong indication that this Sun is not the star that our Earth rotates around, but actually a man. The Sun is a luminous golden object that brings light, clarity, guidance, warmth, and the growth of our crops. A narration about the Mahdi says, "The one whom Jesus the son of Mary will pray behind is the twelfth from the progeny, the ninth from the loins of al-Husayn b. `Ali [a]. He is the Sun that will rise from its setting place." ( إن الذي يصلي عيسى بن مريم خلفه هو الثاني عشر من العترة ، التاسع من ولد الحسين بن علي عليهما السلام وهو الشمس الطالعة من مغربها ).
    A careful study of the Quran will show that light represents the religion (61:8, which Allah will always preserve) and guidance (2:257). 33:46 describes the Prophet as "an illuminated lamp" (siraj, a word also used for "Sun"), and 5:15 describes him as a "light". In one hadith, the Imam as-Sadiq describes the Prophet as the Sun in Surat ash-Shams ( الشمس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله به أوضح الله عز وجل للناس دينهم ), and in another hadith, the "day" in 92:2 that follows the night is the Mahdi who will arise after oppression ( والنهار إذا تجلى قال: النهار هو القائم منا أهل البيت إذا قام غلب دولة الباطل ). The Mahdi's occultation is compared to that of the Sun behind the clouds ( وأما وجه الانتفاع بي في غيبتي فكالانتفاع بالشمس إذا غيبتها عن الابصار السحاب ).
    These comparisons between the Mahdi and the Sun is a similitude to the Prophet. The Mahdi is the most similar man to the Prophet, because he is like him in form and in character ( أشبه الناس بي خلقا وخلقا ), and he will openly declare and explain the religion to the world. The Mahdi will take his example until Islam becomes dominant, manifest, clear, and overspreading ( بسيرة ما سار به رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله حتى يظهر الاسلام ). 39:69 says that the "Earth will shine with the light of its Lord", and the hadiths indicate that it will shine by the light of the Mahdi's coming ( وأشرقت الارض بنور ربها " قال رب الارض يعني إمام الارض، ).
    This begs the question: if the Mahdi is the Sun, what does it mean to rise from its place of setting? Rather than saying that there would be a change of the Earth's axis, we should consider the root of the word gharb (غرب). It has come to mean "set", but in its most basic sense, it means "to become a stranger, odd, obscure, difficult to comprehend, and to go away and depart". This is because the Sun passes above us, then becomes "estranged" from us and leaves us, setting in the West. A stranger in Arabic is a ghareeb. This brings us to the Prophetic hadith, "Islam began as a stranger, and it shall return as a stranger, so blessed are the strangers" ( إن الاسلام بدا غريبا وسيعود كما بدا فطوبى للغربا ). Just as the Prophet came by himself to an adverse society, Islam would return in the Mahdi, who would be estranged from his community and coming with a call that most people will not be familiar with. It is said that, by the time of his coming, the religion of Islam will be barely recognizable from the principles taught by our Prophet, so much so that it will be as though the Mahdi is bringing a new religion. Imam `Ali said that the Qa'im would recommence Islam just as the Prophet did ( إذا قام القائم عليه السلام استأنف دعاء جديدا كما دعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ), and Imam Ja`far repeated the same idea ( يستأنف الداعي منا دعاء جديدا كما دعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ).
    Just as the Mahdi faded into obscurity, he would return out of that obscurity. He is currently in the clouds, which is to say that the occultation has surrounded him in opaque confusion, but that his affect on the Earth is still present. His companions will also be strangers who are not recognized ( إذا يستغني الناس عن ضوء الشمس ونور القمر ويجتزون بنور الامام ), and they are gathered with him like cirrus clouds ( فيظهر في ثلاثمائة وثلاثة عشر رجلا عدة أهل بدر على غير ميعاد قزعا كقزع الخريف رهبان بالليل أسد بالنهار ). "At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) When he returns, "mankind shall have no need of the light of the Sun and the light of the Moon, and they shall pass by the light of the Imam." ( إذا يستغني الناس عن ضوء الشمس ونور القمر ويجتزون بنور الامام ). Meaning, they will be able to go directly to the Imam for guidance, and we will no longer need to seek out other sources of light.
    May Allah hasten his luminous coming.

  10. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Mobile minorities   
    This news story caught my eye:
    Like the Jews in this story many of the people on this forum are minorities who either settled in new countries themselves or their forefathers did. Being mobile confers advantages, we often have networks of friends and relatives in other countries, which can be great for business and flows of useful economically and socially useful information.
    Mobile minorities are therefore just one group of minorities. It's possible to identify other minority groups, but I'll stick with the mobile aspect for this post. I see mobile minorities as usually being racial groups who leave their countries of origin and move elsewhere for employment or business opportunities.
    The past several decades have been great for mobile minorities. London's Heathrow Terminal Three arrivals lounge is like an Indian town when flights from the middle east, India and Pakistan come in together. But similarly, I've seen above average groups of Caucasians at the arrivals hall in Singapore when the London flight has come. European expats working in the middle east and elsewhere have done extremely well.
    Globalisation has been the underpinning factor in both the above phenomena. If you are willing to make some compromises in terms of lifestyle and culture the world has been a great place to be. As opportunities change so the mobile minorities move towards the places where the pickings are richer. And as the planet's history shows us, opportunities will always change on a geographical basis. In the 1950s the Saudis were finding it difficult to attract people to live there. Those who did move, have done very well indeed.
    Nowadays, being mobile is much easier for people from western countries and within those countries it is more likely to be the better educated who can do this. Of course, it is only minorities who can be mobile, when majorities try and do the same restrictions get applied pretty quickly.
    But the world was not always like this and there have been periods when the position of the minority was very weak indeed. It does not take much for the majorities around them to see them as carpetbaggers with little or no loyalty to wherever they happen to be, people who will take the local resources before moving on.
    They can stand out due to their above average income and wealth. The solution in the past is for that wealth to be taken away, often forcibly, despite the contributions that they may have made to local society.
  11. Like
    Brained reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Be Positive   
    The Seventh Imam, Musa Ibn Ja'far Al-Kadhim AS was living in the Holy City of Medina, and while he was praying at the tomb of the Holy Prophet SA, he was arrested, then the tyrant Harun ar-Rashid kept him in prison in Baghdad for almost four years in a cell so small he could not stand up tall to say his prayers. On the 25th of Rajab, Harun had Imam Kadhim AS martyred by poison. Even his corpse was desecrated and taken from the prison and left in view on the Bridge of Baghdad. His devotees managed to bury Imam Kazim AS in al-Kazimiyyah (Iraq). Although Imam Kazem AS was living under complete oppression, he kept positive. May Allah SWT keep us all on the straight path and keep us positive.
    ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
  12. Like
    Brained reacted to Purged for a blog entry, st. 1/1   
    به نام روح آفرین زندگی بخش
    که هر جز جهان دارد از او نقش
    به یاد عهد و پیمان الستی
    به بیعت با ره یکتاپرستی
    به یاد جان در تربت دمیده
    که تار و پود انسان را تنیده
    "Read in the Name of Your Lord Who Created You"
    And you decided to create me. One morning, in the eternity, you began. You mixed the soil with the water, added the spirit and thereby created Human.

    You, without paying attention to the complaints, chose me as your favourite and ordered everyone to prostrate himself before me. And I, filled with joy and pride, watched the huge crowd of prostrators.
    You accommodated me in your paradise and how beautiful it was!
    You ordered everyone to be at my service and take care of me lest any scratch, though very small, should appear on my face; lest I should feel a slight tinge of sadness.
    By the way, did I know what grief was?! I lived happily in your paradise and didn't know the meaning of trouble and hardship, grief and distress. I didnt know that I had a jealous enemy who couldnt tolerate me being joyful and happy.
    He- your curse be upon him- was called Satan. He knew that I was an inexprienced naive person and could easily be deceived.
    So he began...and finally deceived me and then, you got angry. In paradise, you had given me everything but I was driven by greed and disobeyed you.
    On that day, I was summoned to the court. In the court, you reprimanded me. And I had no excuse. I was extremely frightened. I had never seen your wrath!
  13. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, st. -1   
    In Bait-al Ma'mur, Azazil-later called Iblis-sitting on a white minbar and holding a tasbih in his hands, was preaching for a crowd of angels and other residents of empyrean. He was deeply happy and proud to see that he had such a special superior status and that the angels listened to him with great interest.
    After he finished his sermon, angels started asking him theological questions and he answered with full confidence. One of the angels asked:
    O God's beloved, we have worshipping God the Almighty for hundreds of years but we have not achieved a status as high as yours. Tell us, please, the secret behind your success in rising to this enormous  dignity and supereminence.
    Azazil, pleased to hear such a joyful acknowledgement but unaware of that what he thought and what he uttered would put him in a difficult imminent test, smiled and replied: "My friends! Listen to me carefully: I don't deserve the status I have been granted but let me reveal the secret behind my sucess to you.
    Of course, I am not going to boast but to offer help to those who desire to approach our Lord and make him pleased.
    Pure intentions! Friends! Pure intentions! Your problem is that you dont worship God purely for himself but you do it for the purpose of achieving a higher status. Such insincere worship is worthless and is never of any benefit to you.
    Another important point is to avoid being arrogant for it is a major obstacle to...".
    Azazil was preaching when suddenly he found some of the angels talking and not listening to him.
    He shouted :"What is up?! Why are you making so much noise?!"
    One of the angels said :"Sorry, sir! Our minds have been occupied with the recent news!"
    Azazil asked: "the recent news?!"
    The angel replied: "Yes. The news about a new unique creature which God the Almighty is going to create. It is said that no other creature will be equl to it and that God has special plans for this beloved creature-to-be".

    Azazil, surprised at what he had just heared, was lost in thought for a few moments and then said:
    "What a good wonderful news! Indeed, every decision our Lord takes, is wise and praiseworthy. Now, it is better to go and prepare yourselves for celebrating the birth of this welcome creature".
    As the angels were leaving, the purple beads of tasbih, one by one, slipped from his lap and the stairs and scattered on the ground; the tasbih that had been pressed and torn among the fingers of its angry owner who tried to show himself happy and satisfied.
    1. Bait-al Ma'mur( بیت المعمور) is a place in 4th or 7th heaven. It is a Ka'ba for angels.
    2. Tasbih( تسبیح) is a prayer beads.
    3. Minbar(منبر) is a pulpit.
    4. Azazil: عزازیل
  14. Like
    Brained reacted to Abu Hadi for a blog entry, Good Islam, Bad Islam   
    In The Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
    وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
    إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
    قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ أَصْنَامًا فَنَظَلُّ لَهَا عَاكِفِينَ
    قَالَ هَلْ يَسْمَعُونَكُمْ إِذْ تَدْعُونَ
    أَوْ يَنفَعُونَكُمْ أَوْ يَضُرُّونَ
    قَالُوا بَلْ وَجَدْنَا آبَاءنَا كَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ
    قَالَ أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا كُنتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ
    أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمُ الْأَقْدَمُونَ
    فَإِنَّهُمْ عَدُوٌّ لِّي إِلَّا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ
    الَّذِي خَلَقَنِي فَهُوَ يَهْدِينِ
    وَالَّذِي هُوَ يُطْعِمُنِي وَيَسْقِينِ 
    وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ
    وَالَّذِي يُمِيتُنِي ثُمَّ يُحْيِينِ 
    وَالَّذِي أَطْمَعُ أَن يَغْفِرَ لِي خَطِيئَتِي يَوْمَ الدِّينِ
    And convey unto them the story of Abraham
    when he asked his father and his people, “What is it that you worship?” 
    They answered: We worship idols, and we remain ever devoted to them
    Said he: “Do [you really think that] they hear you when you invoke them
    or benefit you or do you harm?
    They exclaimed: But we found our fore­fathers doing the same!
    Said [Abraham]: “Have you, then, ever con­sidered what it is that you have been worshipping
    you and your forefathers ?
    Now [as for me, I know that,] verily, these [false deities] are my enemies,
    [and that none is my helper] save the Sustainer of all the worlds
    who has created me and is the One who guides me
    and is the One who gives me to eat and to drink
    and when I fall ill, is the One who restores me to health
    and who will cause me to die and then will bring me back to life
    and who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on Judgment Day! 
    Holy Quran:   Chapter 26:70-82
    The story of Abraham(peace be upon him) is a story about turning away from false gods and turning to the One True God, Allah(s.w.a). Many people believe, falsely, that the idols that are condemned and turned away from are only those objects made of wood and stone that used to be worshiped in the past. In fact, and idol is anything that is worshiped besides God. In Islam, the word for worship is derived from the word abd' عبد , which literally means being in the state of submission to someone or something. This is a voluntary state, where someone is always obedient to that thing, person, or being and is always looking to it in order to meet their needs. 
    In the modern world, worshipping idols made of stone and wood has fallen out of fashion in most places in  the world. Instead, the idols of modern times are the powerful entities such as nation states, their leaders and elites, and large financial conglomerates which cooperate together and espouse ideologies which forward their worldly interests.For the purposes of this article, we will refer to this conglomerate of entities as 'the elite'.  These ideologies are not based in truth, but are simply mechanisms set up by them in order to strengthen and expand their own power. They do not seek to create their own religions, but seek to take the existing religions and change them and subvert them in order to serve their own interests.
    They have managed to do this with two of the worlds major religions, already. From Judaism, in it's original form and religion based on the teaching of Prophet Moses(peace be upon him), to Zionism, a political philosophy that serves the interests of these elites. From the Christianity of Prophet Jesus(peace be upon him), a religion that challenged the elites and the establishment (throwing out the money changers in the temple) and sought Justice for the poor and downtrodden, to a Christianity that is subservient to the political elites and establishment and changes itself not according to the teachings of Jesus(p.b.u.h) but according to the shifting goals of these elite. 
    These same groups are attempting to do the same thing with Islam. The goal has always been to split muslims into as many groups and sects as possible and to pit these groups against each other. It should be noted at this point, that the entire blame for this is not on the elite groups, because many millions of muslims have fully cooperated with them in this, voluntarily, so a good deal of the blame is on those muslims. While we have seen this process going on for a long time in places like Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Nigeria, etc, we muslims who live in Western Countries have been somewhat immune from this. When I say, somewhat, I mean that there has been no active attempts to make the muslims fight each other with weapons and kill each other. Not that I am aware of. 
    The reason for that is that most muslims in the West enjoy security in that they are not afraid for their lives on a daily basis(most are not, anyway). They are not afraid that their house and property will be seized from them for no apparent reason. They are not afraid that they will be exiled and economically boycotted and thus unable to make a living and support their families. While all these conditions are a reality for millions of muslims living in the above named countries, the situation here is different. Because of this situation, the elites know that there is not sufficient cause and will for them to risk their lives to take up arms on a large scale. So, in recent times, there has been another tactic which all my brothers and sisters should be aware of. I will call it Good Muslim / Bad Muslim. 
    The Good Muslims, in the view of the elite, are the people who were born into muslim families and will change their religion according to to views and goals set forth by this elite group. For example, when the elite group supports the invasion of a country, these groups will rise up and give justifications for this invasion and they will use some religious 'talk' in order to justify it. When the elite support certain trends in society, such as 'gay rights', this group will rise up and give more religious 'talk' in order to support this cause. If they don't explicitly support it, at least they will be silent on the matter and not openly condemn or contradict anything that is inline with the goals of the elite. When the elite decide that a country should be shunned and boycotted, these groups come out and shout loudly about how evil this country is and how they abuse human rights, etc.
    The Bad Muslims  are individuals and groups which actually do things which are against Islam, such as ISIS, and these things are also against the stated goals of the elite, and also groups and individuals who do not do things against Islam, but do things which contradict and go against the views and goals of the elite group. And there is a constant effort by the elite group to join or conflagrate the actions of the first group of bad muslims with the second group of 'bad' muslims and make them into one group so that they are viewed in the same light by the general population. A recent example of this is the slander campaign against Sheik Hamza Sodogar regarding his comments on homosexuals. More information on this can be found here. 
    Brothers and sisters should realize that there are no Good Muslim or Bad Muslims as the elite have constructed it such. There is one Islam, not many Islams. To make it simple, the formula is (as stated by Rasoulallah(p.b.u.h) in both Sunni and Shia sources)
    Quran + Ahl Al Bayt(a.s) = Islam
    The basis of Quran and Ahl Al Bayt(a.s), the root the nourishes both these sources in the religion of Abraham, as the Quran states many times. The religion of Abraham (milat Ibrahim), in it's most basic form, is turning away and disavowing all the idols, i.e. all those things that attempt to compete with Allah(s.w.a) for worship. All those things which turn your attention and praise away from Allah(s.w.a) and toward this lower world and it's adornments, which are destined to perish, and also the striving, even in difficult circumstances, to obey Allah(s.w.a). This is the basis of the True Religion, since the time of Prophet Adam(peace be upon him) up until today. It hasn't changed and never will change. 
    It says in the Quran, anyone who wishes to turn away from this (milat Ibrahim) is a fool, because they are not affecting God but are acting against their own interests. Brothers and Sisters should know that anyone who asks you to act against your religion is not your friend, your supporter or your ally. And brothers and sisters should know this, and keep it in their mind from a young age. And with the help of Allah(s.w.a) we will all stay on the Strait Path, Sirat Al Mustakeem, and die on the religion of Abraham, the Monotheist. 
  15. Like
    Brained reacted to ShiaLuma for a blog entry, My feelings on why I am proud to be a Muslim.   
    Salaam everyone who is reading this blog. I thought I might recreate my first blog post which has been lost due to the server errors during the summer time of this year. I would like to share once again the reasons on why I am proud to be a Muslim. I hope this post is very inspiring.
    I am proud to be a Muslim because Islam is the only religion in the world that makes the most amount of sense. It's also a very structured religion that has laws on hygiene, eating, drinking, and what is good for us and what is bad for us, and why we should stay away from certain things. Islam is not just any religion. It's also a way of life. The Quran has got explanations as to why certain things are forbidden, why certain things are good for us, and it has some great scientific information which came before the modern scientists discovered them centuries later. It also talks about the nutritional benefits of certain edibles like milk, honey, olives, and figs and how they are good for us. 
    The ahadith of our prophet contains good advice for us to use in our daily lives, it has great meanings and values, it also gives us news of future events and so on. The ahadith also contains the keys on understanding the Quran and is required to get the true meaning to some of the verses in the Quran. 
    In conclusion, I am proud to be a Muslim because Islam makes the most amount of sense out of all religions, it is a very structured with great values from the Quran and ahadith, and it is also a way of life.
  16. Like
    Brained reacted to Reza for a blog entry, For Those Who Use Social Media...   
    Yes, I hate social media. Especially the most common ones. For the record, I have a nearly empty Facebook profile I only use to follow a few group pages. I don't send friend invites, but I may accept some if I know that person well enough. I don't have a Twitter, Instagram, or any other major social media service.
    Something just doesn't seem right. Social media is not comprised of people, but of profiles, which are at best theoretical reflections of people. And this makes a huge difference.
    Profiles are infinitely more malleable than real people. They can be customized, refined, and manipulated in any way possible, with minimal energy or authenticity from the individual behind it.  When I talked about millennial perfectionism and the manufactured self previously, nothing more exemplifies this than the social media profile. Self building involves the creation of a perfect profile through one's idealized imagery. For some, the profile is more important than the person behind it! This is not limited to a small group of narcissists and megalomaniacs. Subconsciously, everyone hopes their virtual profile makes them appear popular, approachable, enlightening, captivating, or interesting. And virtual is the new real.
    Social media usage relies on a feedback loop of approval seeking behavior. You want to be noticed. You want to be seen. You want to scream "Look at me!". You want to get likes. Then you want to be seen more, and get more likes. Nobody posts with the intention of being ignored. It's an exhausting and self-defeating process where your personal value is based and adjudicated on the affirmations of others. This can drive some crazy, especially the already insecure, who tend to flock the most to social media websites, and with the most intensity.
    People use it to inflate their egos and self importance. To make them appear enlightened. That they care about a range of causes. That they are active. That they are making a difference. Social media is the natural habitat for wannabe activists, hacktivists, and keyboard social justice warriors. Others showcase a picture perfect happy life of smiling outgoing faces, cute pets, and serene backdrops. To show they are cosmopolitan, worldly, well traveled, well connected, with a diverse palate of experiences. A showcase of human hubris. These are not reflections of people, these are reflections of people's contrived versions of themselves, to various sickening degrees.
    Of course, you may argue, "It's not the medium's fault, it's the people's fault". As if the design and intent is inherently pure, amoral, and a clean slate, but is unfortunately ruined by the inherent human factor. From an Islamic perspective, we have institutions (for example temporary and permanent marriage, or various other legal institutions) that we consider pure in structure and intent, but can be abused by the corrupted, wicked, and hypocritical. So does the same principle not apply? It doesn't.  It's different because my faith believes that these institutions were the design of a perfect creator, who best understands our natures. That perfect creator is also its perfect judge and arbiter. I am not willing to give the same benefit towards the creators of social media sites, and I'm not willing to give its design, structure, or theory the benefit of the doubt. Why should I?
    What personally matters to me is real social intimacy. Having a few close real friends, not several superficial followers. And the old and outdated mediums work just fine. Talking one on one in person. Talking on the phone. Even emailing or texting. I put quality over quantity. To go into deep conversations, a true exchange of minds and souls. I don't want to be a content generator. I want real interactions with human beings, and not with profiles. That's the dream I have. I want to take nice photos, save them in a special private folder or photo album, and share it only with those close to me. Why should I show them to everyone else? What have they done to deserve seeing them?
    I'm aware of social media's positives and its benefits, but despite that, I still say no thanks. You can survive in this century without it. Prove to me in 40 years that "Facebooking" will still exist as a verb. Time is fast and cruel, and flawed mediums will always bite the dust. True and genuine relationships with others will always last.
  17. Like
    Brained reacted to Reza for a blog entry, For Those Facing Bullies...   
    If you've ever suffered from bullying, you know how traumatic it can be. The stress, the anxiety, the intimidation throughout the painful encounter. Not to mention the anticipation for the next one. Never a moment to take off the chain of fear, unless you are lucky to preoccupy yourself or have supportive friends. 
    I've been fortunate to not experience severe bullying myself, although I've had occasional small incidents here and there. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen for everyone. At times, the presence of bullies are unavoidable, and you have little control over the matter. If someone bullies you primarily because of your name, your faith, your background, your physical appearance, your family, or something so intrinsic to you, then there is little you could have done to prevent their allure to you. So don't be hung up about it. The fault is 100% theirs, and nothing to do with you whatsoever. Unless you believe your very existence puts you at fault. But you are a proud and self-assured person, and such thoughts do not cross you! 
    On the flip side, bullies can be attracted to you by things you can control. In this instance, you can take better steps to prevent their attraction to you. Don't involve yourself in compromising situations. Be knowledgeable. Learn self sufficiency. Keep your faith and dignity. Focus on your outside work and do not expose your personal vulnerabilities carelessly. Find means of support and others to "back you up". Don't give them material to poke fun at you at. Don't make yourself stick out in embarrassing or unnecessary ways. Mosquitoes need blood to feed. Don't make it easy for them. 
    If you are knee deep in a long standing bullying relationship, your willingness or unwillingness to be a victim is completely within your control. Letting it affect you is within your control. The cycle of bullying requires both parties to maintain the cycle. The bully targets the victim, the victim enables the bully further through their weakness, and the cycle continues. You have control to slow or halt this cycle, and the bully can't do anything about it!
    If anyone can relate to this, I hope this has been helpful for you. Stay tuned, I will write another blog post specifically about cyberbullying and internet psychology. 
  18. Like
    Brained reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Thinking Positive   
    Stress is always there and everyone has it. I know you are stressed out, because that is how life is. It is always like that. It seems so intense when you are going through something stressful. Later when you look back, you will marvel at how you survived. Stay strong. Allah is always with you.
    ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
  19. Like
    Brained 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.
  20. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, A Condemnation of Terrorism   
    In these trying times, it has become ever more important to teach the world about the Islam of Muhammad (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt.
    The name of Islam has been hijacked by merciless thugs who have killed, maimed, tortured, enslaved, exiled, and silenced others for their views. These thugs are ignorant of the universal principles that undergird the teachings of Islam, and have oppressed many Muslims and non-Muslims alike from all walks of life.
    Islam is the middle way, not the way of extremes. It is about taming one's self, not terrorizing others. Islam is order, and not chaos. It is with the oppressed, and not with the tyrants. It teaches its adherents to be humble, not arrogant. It advances the intellect and it opposes ignorance.
    Islam has taught us to greet everyone with peace, to feed our hungry neighbours, to give a portion of our wealth in charity, to forgive those who harm us, to make excuses for those who trespass us, to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, to respect and honour all people, to avoid filling our stomachs with unnecessary foods, to abstain from substances that impair our judgment, to cease gossiping and backbiting, to refrain from judging others, to spend our nights praying to the Creator, and to protect our Earth and its precious resources from misuse and abuse.
    Since the inception of Islam, forces have been trying to destroy the religion's core principles from within and from without. Soon after the Prophet Muhammad (s), our civilization was hijacked by corrupt dynasties that committed unspeakable injustices. The family of Muhammad (s) rose against these horrors in the name of his legacy, but they were brutally killed and persecuted. However, ideas are bulletproof. The Ahl al-Bayt risked their lives, and often fought and died, to protect their ethical ideals from the contamination of wild beasts. Today, it is a miracle that we can talk openly about Imam Ali and Imam Husayn, who shook the thrones of the pre-modern ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, and Boko Haram.
    The ISIS of today is nothing new. It is a crystallization of this fringe group of oppressors, who threaten the lives of all people and bask in their massacres. It is the rotten fruit of an ideology that only values the conquering of others.
    We are all in this together. We must not ignore the negative effects of colonialism and neo-imperialism in the Muslim world, which have, in part, created this monster. However, we must also condemn this evil caricature of Islam, which ignores Quranic context, defiles the image of our Prophet, and neglects the role of his Ahl al-Bayt in the interpretation of this religion.
    Our enemy is our own ignorance. The cure is humility and knowledge.
  21. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Sunnism and Islamic Politics   
    There is a developing trend in the Sunni world today which involves the denial of the legitimacy of Islamic states.
    Almost all practicing Sunnis would love to see a proper Islamic state, but they disagree on the criteria and the vision. To them, Islamic vaguely means good, just, and outwardly pious. But beyond this, there are stark disagreements on how an executive is to be chosen, what economic system is to be adopted/created, and how minorities are to be treated. It seems to me that the only aspect of Muslim governance that has remained static throughout history is punishment hudud. While everything mentioned has been subject to change, there is a clinging to these hudud, perhaps because they are so clear cut, while the rest of government is not. Even at that, there are disagreements as to when the hudud are supposed to be introduced, if at all.
    While Sunnis recognize the injustices committed by previous Islamic empires, most Sunnis do not categorize these empires as unIslamic. Even if there were mistakes made during the Rashidun, Umayyad, and Abbasid eras, or if they were not following Islam properly, they were still Muslim governments. Rather than highlighting their shortcomings, Sunnis have been trained to look at their benefits: scientific advancement, social progress, and conquests.
    This brings Sunnism to a dilemma that is unique in their history. Since the fall of the Caliphate, there is this unexplained reluctance among the whole of Sunnis to call any state Islamic. You'll often hear this line of reasoning: Taliban Afghanistan wasn't an Islamic state, because they were partially illiterate and not fulfilling the hudud correctly. Saudi Arabia is not an Islamic state, because it is a corrupt monarchy. The Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt was not Islamic, because it was not implementing the shari`a. ISIL is not Islamic, because it is brutal. etc. Every Islamist group has been marginalized or denied legitimacy by the Sunni world.
    The problem: had they been saying this about past empires, they would be considered Rafida. Their criticisms of modern Islamist movements - from the AKP to IS - are fair. But why don't they hold their empires to the same standard? Most Caliphs were dynastic, they were not implementing the shari`a properly, they were often not learned in a scholastic sense, and they were guilty of some of history's largest massacres. When Sunnis say that ISIL's atrocities are really just ISILated incidents, an aberration of Sunni Islam, khawarij with no overlap, raising an eyebrow is natural.
    Sunni nostalgia for an Islamic state is strange, because while it is easy to get Ottoman nostalgia when walking into a beautiful Turkish mosque with colourful windows on a cloudless summer day, the Ottoman empire was more than just beautiful Turkish architecture and liberal Sufi spirituality. It is an empire than banned the printing press for three centuries, and executed people who were caught with a printed book. It is an empire that massacred 40,000 Shi`a in 1512 in Anatolia. It is an empire that killed scholars like Shahid al-Awwal and Shahid al-Thani. Does it only retain its "Islamic state" status of legitimacy because it is pre-modern?
  22. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Jesus and Husayn   
    A man asked Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq [a] said, "May I be your sacrifice! Why were the descendants of al-Husayn preferred over the descendants of al-Hasan when they came from the same line?"
    So the Imam said: I will show you, so take it.
    Surely, Gabriel [a] came down to Muhammad (s) before al-Husayn had been born, and he said to him, "A boy will be born to you who will be killed by your Umma after you."
    So he (s) said, "O Gabriel, I do not need this."
    He addressed him three times, then he called for `Ali, and he said to him, "Surely, Gabriel [a] informs me from Allah that a boy will be born to you who will be killed by your Umma after you."
    So he [a] said, "I do not need this, O Messenger of Allah."
    So he addressed `Ali [a] three times. Then, he said, "The Imamate, the inheritance, and the treasury will come through his descendants."
    So he sent for Fatima [a], [saying,] "Allah brings you glad tidings of a boy who will be killed by my Umma after me."
    So Fatima said, "I do not need this, O father."
    So he (s) addressed her three times. Then, he sent to her, [saying,] "Certainly, surely, the Imamate, the inheritance, and the treasury will be in him."
    So she said, "I am pleased with Allah."
    So she conceived and became pregnant with al-Husayn. She was pregnant for six months, then gave birth to him - and no infant of six months ever lives except for al-Husayn b. `Ali and Jesus the son of Mary [a]. So Umm Salama took responsibility of him, and the Messenger of Allah would meet him every day and put his tongue in the lips of al-Husayn [a], and he would suckle it until he would recite [knowledge], and Allah would give him meat (laHm) from the meat of the Messenger of Allah (s). He would not suckle milk from Fatima [a] or from anyone else.
    So when Allah revealed this regarding it, 'and her bearing him and his utter dependence on her took thirty months, and so, when he attains to full maturity and reaches forty years, he prays: O my Sustainer! Inspire me so that I may forever be grateful for those blessings of Yours with which You have graced me and my parents, and that I may do what is right that will meet with Your goodly acceptance; and grant me righteousness in my offspring.' (46:15) were he to have said, 'rectify for me my offspring', then all of them would have been Imams - however, he specified it in this way.
    حدثنا احمد بن الحسن رحمه الله قال: حدثنا احمد بن يحيى قال: حدثنا
    بكر بن عبد الله بن حبيب قال: حدثنا تميم بن بهلول قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي عن عبد الرحمان بن كثير الهاشمي قال: قلت لابي عبد الله " ع " جعلت فداك من اين جاء لولد الحسين الفضل على ولد الحسن وهما يجريان في شرع واحد فقال لا أريكم تأخذون به، ان جبرئيل " ع " نزل على محمد صلى الله عليه وآله وما ولد الحسين بعد فقال له يولد لك غلام تقتله امتك من بعدك فقال يا جبرئيل لا حاجة لي فيه فخاطبه ثلاثا ثم دعا عليا فقال له ان جبرئيل " ع " يخبرني عن الله عز وجل انه يولد لك غلام تقتله أمتك من بعدك فقال لا حاجة لي فيه يارسول الله فخاطب عليا " ع " ثلاثا ثم قال انه يكون فيه وفي ولده الامامة والوراثة والخزانة، فارسل إلى فاطمة عليها السلام ان الله يبشرك بغلام تقتله أمتى من بعدي فقالت فاطمة ليس لي حاجة فيه يا أبة فخاطبها ثلاثا ثم أرسل إليها لابد أن يكون فيه الامامة والوراثة والخزانة فقالت له رضيت عن الله عز وجل فعلقت وحملت بالحسين فحملت ستة اشهر ثم وضعته ولم يعش مولود قط لستة أشهر غير الحسين بن علي وعيسى بن مريم عليهما السلام فكفلته أم سلمة وكان رسول الله يأتيه في كل يوم فيضع لسانه في فم الحسين " ع " فيمصه حتى يروى فانبت الله تعالى لحمه من لحم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ولم يرضع من فاطمة عليها السلام ولا من غيرها لبنا قط فلما انزل الله تبارك وتعالى فيه (وحمله وفصاله ثلاثون شهرا حتى إذا بلغ أشده وبلغ أربعين سنة قال رب أوزعني ان اشكر نعمتك التي انعمت علي وعلى والدي وان اعمل صالحا ترضاه واصلح لي في ذريتي) فلو قال أصلح لي ذريتي كانوا كلهم أئمة لكن خص هكذا.
    (`Ilal ash-Shara'i`)
    Some of you may remember my thread on the sacrifice of Husayn. I wanted to point out some of the parallels between Jesus and Husayn, which this hadith seems to delineate. Both were born miraculously with shortened pregnancies. Mary is called al-'adra, because she was a virgin, and Fatima was called al-Batool, which is a similar title indicating purity (she did not menstruate). Both mothers were the best of women of the world, known for their modesty and spoken to by angels. The angel Gabriel announced the birth of both Jesus and Husayn. When Husayn is born, he suckles meat and nor milk - which is a popular biblical expression which refers to the consumption of higher knowledge. Both were granted knowledge as children. Fast forward to the sacrifice - one hadith says that the divine government was initially promised for Husayn, making him a messiah figure, until bada' took place. When Husayn was beheaded, those who mourn and associate with him are absolved of their sins. The final Mahdi is a descendant of Fatima just as the Messiah is the descendant of Mary.
  23. Like
    Brained reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Light Behind the Cloud   
    The Light behind the Cloud
    Qa'im Muhammad
    “He will be walking in their market and treading between them until Allah permits him.”
    Succession in the institution of Imamate was a contentious matter during the formative period of Imami Shiism. The doctrine of Imamate “evolved gradually” during the first century AH, and was given a “definitive shape” by the death of Ja`far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (c. 148 AH).[1] While Madelung attributes this shape to Hisham b. al-Hakam,[2] a Kufan champion of Imami theology and companion of Ja`far as-Sadiq, a pantheon of Shiite personalities influenced and codified the development of this institution. An examination into Twelver Imamate would be incomplete without an inquiry into its culmination: the occultation. The disappearance of the last Imam, or the Mahdi, is a belief that was upheld by many sects during the infancy and formative period, including the Kaysaniyya, the Nawusiyya, the Fat`hiyya, the Mubarakiyya, the Waqifa, and the Twelvers. The doctrine of occultation grew in sophistication between the first and third Islamic centuries through the sayings and writings of different personalities, schools, and sects. This article will explore the historical development the concept of occultation, its influences, and its implications in classical Shiism.
                    Disagreements over who would inherit the Imamate would demonstrate a popular uncertainty in the expected number of Imams. In the lifetime of Ja`far as-Sadiq, it became clear to the growing Imami community that a rightful Imam would need to be explicitly designated (nass) by his paternal predecessor, and that he would have the right to the Caliphate and the leadership of the Muslim world.[3] Although Ja`far as-Sadiq was certainly not the originator of the concept of Imamate, his chiefly place amongst Medinan scholars and his relative freedom vis-à-vis other Imams allowed him to elaborate on the subject to his principal Kufan students. He taught that the Imam was not only a contestant to political authority, but also as a legal and spiritual guide of Muslims everywhere.[4] The death of Ja`far as-Sadiq would mark a major split in the Shiite community over his succession. The triumph of the Abbasid revolution made it difficult for Ja`far as-Sadiq to articulate his designation; and upon his death, the Shiites flocked to several descendants of his, including `Abdullah al-Aftah, Muhammad b. Isma`il, Musa al-Kadhim, and even the deceased Isma`il b. Ja`far. Soon afterwards, the Fat`hiyya would mostly join Musa al-Kadhim, either as Imamis, or as ardent upholders in the Imamate of `Abdullah al-Aftah. One group, the Nawusiyya, held that Ja`far was the living Mahdi in occultation. Later, after the death of Musa al-Kadhim, a faction led by `Ali b. Abi Hamza claimed that Musa was indeed the living Mahdi in occultation.
                    This crisis poses a dilemma: the final number of Imams and the sequence of who would take office was perhaps unknown to major students of Ja`far as-Sadiq and the Shiite populace in general. Still, the split demonstrates that a number of important doctrines were upheld by all of the groups, including:
    The rule that there would be one immaculate (ma`sum) Imam at all times, chosen by the preceding Imam. For all of the mentioned sects, this would either be a hidden Imam or an apparent one. The culmination of the Imamate with the Mahdi, a messianic figure who would fill the world with justice and peace as it would be fraught with injustice and tyranny. The expectation that the Mahdi would enter into an occultation sometime during his life, usually due to an imminent danger. While the Sunnis did not share these three ideas, they became central to Imami theology. Zaydis generally do not necessitate one Imam at all times, but they have certainly flirted with messianism.[5] The historical Zaydis carried a more nascent view of Imamate: an Imam was simply a pious leader from the Prophet’s tribe who rises with a sword to fight against the tyrannical forces. In Zaydi theology, the world can be devoid of an Imam, and there can even be multiple Imams at a given time – including lesser Imams, who are more scholastic and less revolutionary. This is reflective of the “conciliatory” role that the Zaydis took in the 2nd century AH, merging various Islamic trends, from the traditionalists of Medina and Kufa to the Mu`tazilite theologians and logicians.[6] Still, there was a great deal of nuance among Zaydi sects and personalities in their respective views on Imamate. The Husayniyya, a messianic Zaydi religious movement in Yemen, claimed that its leader was the expected Mahdi. After his death, the sect upheld that he was actually the hidden Saviour, who would soon bring justice to the Earth.[7] Abu’l Jarud (d. c. 140-150 AH), the founder of the Jarudiyya, was a prominent student Muhammad al-Baqir and a narrator of his ahadith. While some Zaydis were notably hostile towards the Twelver Imams, Abu’l Jarud relied heavily on Muhammad al-Baqir, and he transmits traditions from Abu ‘t-Tufayl `Amer b. Wathila (d. ~100 AH), the Kaysani strongman and sahabi.[8] In the Twelver hadith corpus, Abu’l Jarud even narrates traditions on the twelve Imams and the occultation of the Mahdi. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa`eed b. `Uqda, an esteemed Zaydi jurist in third century Baghdad, also related explicit traditions on these subjects to Nu`mani. Abu Sa`eed `Abbad al-`Asfari (d. 250 AH), a Jarudi scholar in Kufa, likewise recorded traditions on there being twelve Imams over ten years before the death of Hasan al-`Askari (260 AH). What we can extract from these four examples is that some Zaydis certainly remained loyal to Imami authorities and perhaps embraced some of their ideas on the institution of Imamate, all while the Batriyya remained suspicious of the more esoteric side of Shiism.
    Perhaps the most esoteric concept in Twelver Imamology is the occultation (ghayba). The Twelver account is that prior to Hasan al-`Askari’s death, he had secretly sired a son in either 255 or 256 AH[9] with an African bondwoman or with Narjis, the granddaughter of Bardas, the Byzantine Caesar. Although the early Twelver chroniclers recount several eyewitness reports to the child’s birth and early life, the child was concealed from the populous. The twelfth Imam’s existence was so discrete that it allowed several non-Twelver sects to arise after Hasan al-`Askari’s death amidst the perplexity caused by the apparent vacuum. At least eleven fragments made opposing claims; from upholding the Imamate of Ja`far al-Kadhab, to claiming that Hasan al-`Askari’s deceased brother Muhammad b. `Ali was the occulted Mahdi, to the belief that Hasan al-`Askari was still the living Imam, to the complete cessation of Imamate.[10] Twelver authorities found themselves trying to prove the twelfth Imam’s existence and his Qa’imiyya whilst negating the claims of imposters and deviant sects. This transition from Imamiyya to Twelverism proved difficult for chroniclers, who needed to codify a doctrine in harmony with the oral and written Shiite tradition.
    A primary source of direction in the Twelver community was the ambassadorship of the four representatives of the twelfth Imam: `Uthman al-`Amri, Muhammad b. `Uthman, Husayn b. Ruh an-Nawbakhti, and `Ali b. Muhammad as-Simuri. These ambassadors (sufara’) would oversee the headquarters (nahiya), a hierarchy of scholars and tax-collectors loyal to the later Qat`i Imams[11], and occasionally sent out letters and orders issued by the Imam. `Uthman al-`Amri was a loyal associate of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Imams, and received the explicit praise of the latter two according to two traditions in Kulayni’s collection through Ahmad b. Is`haq. His son, Muhammad b. `Uthman, would inherit the seat after his death. After Muhammad b. `Uthman died, his daughter Umm Kulthum helped secure the succession of Ibn Ruh an-Nawbakhti,[12] a charismatic theologian from the prominent family of scholars. This safir would prove to be influential even independently of the Imam, as he was asked a series of historical questions by his constituents. Several accounts survive in which Ibn Ruh discusses the virtues of Fatima, the martyrdom of Husayn, the role of prophets, the controversial death of Musa al-Kadhim, and various other issues. He would also address the chiliasts and the extremists (ghulat), and debate false claimants to the Imam’s representation – most notably, Shalmaghani. Moreover, the Hidden Imam communicated most with his adherents during Ibn Ruh’s supervision. The Imam’s epistles, which focused mostly on matters related to Islamic jurisprudence and khums taxes, became an affirmation of his existence, his Imamate, and his competence, as they were collected and brandished in the works of Kulayni, Saduq, and others. The epistles even demonstrated the miraculous knowledge of the twelfth Imam, who, on many occasions, seemed to have access to very specific information about his clients, their belongings, their future, and their enemies. This would further reinforce the idea that the Imam, in his station, had the supernatural ability to access the knowledge of the occult.
    The minor occultation was important to the triumph of Twelver Shiism over competing factions. The Twelvers would win over most of the early dissidents during the minor occultation, and, according to one account, eventually take in a repented Ja`far al-Kadhab.[13] Ja`far’s denial of the existence of his nephew, the twelfth Imam, would attract the followers of Faris b. Hatim, a renegade proselytizer and tax collector who broke away from `Ali al-Hadi’s influence during his Imamate.[14] Ja`far’s denial of his brother’s offspring was challenged by Hasan al-`Askari’s own mother, who opposed Faris’ group and Ja`far.[15] Eventually, according to an epistle of the Hidden Imam preserved by Saduq, Ja`far, in effect, became a Twelver and recognized his Imam. Although this claim cannot be independently verified, Saduq would have presented this information shortly after the events we have described, and no alternative account exists.
     Sa`d b. `Abdullah, a Twelver scholar and heresiographer of that period, also recorded the dissent of Muhammad b. Nusayr, the founder of the historical Alawite sect. Ibn Nusayr was a companion of `Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-`Askari who then claimed to be the rightful gateway to the twelfth Imam. His main confidant was Ahmad b. Hilal, described by Saduq in Kamal ad-Deen as the only man to have converted from Shiism to nasb. While nasb is usually associated with those who have opposed the Ahl al-Bayt, the word nassab may also mean imposter, fraud, and conman. This definition would make more sense, because Ahmad b. Hilal was accused of both extremism (ghulu) and nasb. He was probably labelled an extremist due to his support for the Nusayris, who would raise `Ali b. Abi Talib to Godhood and adopt reincarnation; [16] and he was probably associated with nasb for his opposition to the Imam’s secretariat and his creation of a new sect. Beyond the Alawites, there were other extremists whom the Twelver authorities would need to deflect. Shalmaghani later nationalistically claimed that the Hashimite Imam was the devil and that the real Imam in occultation was a Persian from the House of Chosroes.[17] While the minor occultation symbolized a harmonization between the traditionalist, rationalist, and esoteric trends in Imami Shiism, explicit measures were taken against the heresies of some esotericists. In Tabrisi’s Ihtijaj, the Hidden Imam harshly condemns the ghulat; and in the epistle of Is`haq b. Ya`qub, he calls those who have denied Husayn’s death blasphemers. The latter is a reference to those who believed that Husayn and his companions were not killed, but were raised (like Jesus) to Paradise. The move of the holy seat of the Imam’s secretariat to Baghdad sometime after Hasan al-`Askari’s death[18] and the appointment of Ibn Ruh an-Nawbakhti may also be seen as pro-rationalist stances. Ibn Ruh also built strong ties with the Qummi traditionalists during his term. His administration can be seen as a grounding force that attempted to unify the Twelvers upon strong `aqli and naqli foundations whilst combatting the esoteric ghulat and millenialists that rose to prominence in the third Islamic century. This characterization can be further noted in the works of Saduq, Mufid, Murtada, and Tusi, which further focus on traditional, jurisprudential, and rational theology.
    The third ambassador died in 326 AH and he was succeeded by as-Simuri, whose period in office was brief and relatively obscure.[19] The most notable event at this time was the Imam’s announcement to as-Simuri that he would die in six days, and that no one was to be appointed in his place. This would mark the beginning of the major occultation and a new wave of perplexity (heyra) in the Twelver community.
    Confusion would permeate the major occultation when the death of as-Simuri further raised questions on the state of the twelfth Imam. Both Nu`mani and Saduq attempted to address the confusion of Shiites in this period, with the latter writing an extensive refutation of non-Twelver sects in the outset of his Kamal ad-Deen. It was at this time when narrations on the dual occultation of the Mahdi would gain utmost relevance, as they provided an explanation for the new phase of the occultation[20] that satisfied skeptics and temporarily curtailed the attitudes of chiliasts. The first to utilize these narrations were in fact the Waqifa, who identified Musa al-Kadhim’s two terms in prison as his two periods of occultation. Neither as-Saffar nor al-Barqi mention the dual occultation in their respective works, but Kulayni inserted a tradition of this genre from Ja`far as-Sadiq into his al-Kafi during the minor occultation. This demonstrates that, by the time of as-Simuri, the expectation of a second occultation may have been present in some Twelver scholastic circles. Furthermore, Nu`mani wrote his Kitab al-Ghayba shortly after the death of as-Simuri, which documented other traditions from the sixth Imam on the dual occultation.
    What was the proposed reason for the occultation? Both Kulayni and Saduq present reports from Zurara b. A`yan which say that the Qa’im would go into occultation due to his fear of being killed. The Hidden Imam, in his minor occultation, claimed that all of his predecessors were forced to pledge allegiance (bay`a) to the despot of their time, making his occultation an escape from their clutches. Other narrations cite the occultation as being part of an ambiguous test of faith, which only the truest Shiites would pass – doing away with the hypocrites and those of little faith.
                    The physical abode of the occulted Imam is also worthy of discussion. For Kaysanis, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya (d. 81 AH) was the Mahdi, and he was alive in occultation at Mount Radwa[21] protected by lions and angels. For the Waqifa, Musa al-Kadhim’s prison sentence sufficed as an occultation. One Waqifi report preserved in Tusi’s Ghayba appropriates the Kaysani idea that the Mahdi would be upon Mount Radwa and applies it to Musa al-Kadhim after his alleged “escape” from the Abbasid prison.[22] This demonstrates that the early, pre-developed idea of occultation was a physical seclusion of the Mahdi in a remote or isolated area. During the lives of the first eleven Imams, the Imamis studied the doctrine of occultation and its theological precedents through their Kaysani, Nawusi, Fat`hi, and Waqifi peers and predecessors. One of the most influential pre-occultation Imami theologians to have written on the topic was Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 260), a contemporary of the later Imams who had compiled his own Kitab al-Ghayba based on the narrations of the Imams and their students. Fadl’s reports were preserved by Tusi and would become an important source for occultation theology and eschatology. All of those who wrote about the occultation, including Fadl, relied on both Imami and non-Imami authorities in order to fully illustrate the concept.
    The Twelvers uphold that the Hidden Imam exists “in-between time” on a higher plain – one can interact with him metaphysically through dreams and other visionary and spiritual experiences, but this does not interrupt his state of occultation.[23] In a number of narrations, the Qa’im is compared to the Biblical prophet Joseph,[24] because Joseph was presumed dead and subsequently lived in seclusion, making significant but incognito appearances to others. Likewise, the Hidden Imam’s existence was questioned, he was unseen and unrecognized by his followers, and rumours of his death arose.[25] Saduq records that during the outset of the minor occultation, `Uthman al-`Amri claimed to have seen twelfth Imam whilst at Hajj, saying that he would visibly perform the pilgrimage every year. Soon afterwards, others would claim to have met the Imam on an incidental basis.[26] These traditions challenge the former idea that the Mahdi would be restricted to a confined area during his occultation, and submits the idea that the Hidden Imam manifests himself into both material and immaterial forms, often unbeknownst to those perceiving him.
    While the Sunnis did not formalize a belief in occultation, they did have some noteworthy encounters with the concept. Immediately after the death of the Prophet, `Umar claimed that Muhammad had not died, but was still alive, and that he had “gone to his Lord as Moses went and remained hidden from his people for forty days”.[27] Although this is normally perceived to be `Umar’s emotional reaction to the death of the Prophet, it is nonetheless a strange response that may have had theological implications. Saduq would later compare the prolonging of the Mahdi’s occultation to Moses’ forty-day isolation in Kamal ad-Deen. Additionally, Qurtubi wrote in his tafsir that al-Khidr and Elijah were still alive, making occasional appearances to pious men and women. This lends credibility to the idea that righteous men can live a millennia whilst in seclusion, even after the cessation of prophethood in Muhammad.
                    One “dual occultation” tradition found in al-Kafi is supplemented with the notion that some of the Mahdi’s followers would retain contact with him during the second phase of his occultation. Here, Ja`far as-Sadiq says that the Mahdi’s “special clients” (khasat mawali) would “know his place”. The relatively ambiguous language of this hadith can perhaps be understood through its Waqifi rendition, which says that the Mahdi would be looked after by his slave (mawla) during his second occultation.[28] The letter sent to as-Simuri prior to his death condemns those who will claim to have witnessed him during the second occultation; however, this witnessing (mashahada), according to Amir-Moezzi, is referring to a claim to his ambassadorship and representation.[29] Although the meaning of this has been contested by Twelver scholarship, this interpretation can give credence to the numerous accounts of episodic appearances of the Mahdi in Shiite history.
    The Imams highlighted the need for their followers to stick to their books and the narrators of their sayings during the perplexity of the occultation. Soon after the death of as-Simuri, Nu`mani, Saduq, Mufid, Murtada, and Tusi would further develop the theology of occultation with an `aqli and naqli harmonization of the Imams’ sayings and of past events.
                    For Twelvers, an occulted Imam is not an absent Imam. Believers are still expected to recognize the Mahdi during his occultation just as they are to recognize his predecessors. Without physical access to their Imam, adherents have a unique relationship with him: praying for his well-being and for the hastening of his return, sending salutations and benedictions to him, preparing for his reappearance and weeping at its delay. In one of Kulayni’s traditions, Ja`far as-Sadiq emphasizes the intensifying need for dissimulation prior to “the affair” – the return and triumph of the Ahl al-Bayt. Another narration implies that the punishment of stoning is to be halted until the revolution of the Qa’im. Interestingly, Tusi reports a tradition from Fadl b. Shadhan that says that the misguided will enter Paradise because “the Silent One will not speak”. The “Silent One” is an occulted or inactive Imam, and so perhaps due to the difficulty in accurately recognizing him, God would not hold some deviants accountable on the Day of Resurrection. Still, in order to have cognizance of God and attain His utmost favour, recognition of His representative is necessary. All in all, perhaps the best depiction of the occultation is in an allegory that the Saviour himself presented in the epistle of Is`haq b. Ya`qub: “And as to the benefit from me in my occultation, then it is that of the Sun when it is concealed from the eyes in the clouds. And surely, I am a safeguard for the inhabitants of the earth, like the stars are the safeguards for the inhabitants of the sky. So, lock the door of questioning regarding that which is not meant for you, and do not task yourself beyond the knowledge of that which suffices you”.
    [1] Kohlberg, From Imamiyya to Ithna Ashariyya, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 521
    [2] Madelung, Hisham b. al-Hakam
    [3] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 197
    [4] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 197
    [5] Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam, pp. 186
    [6] Ibid, pp. 186
    [7] Daftary, A History of Shi’I Islam
    [8] Madelung, Abu’l Jarud Hamadani, Encyclopedia Iranica, I/3 pp. 327-328
    [9] According to two conflicting narrations in Kulayni’s al-Kafi on the birth of the twelfth Imam
    [10] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 443 footnotes
    [11] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 498
    [12] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 498
    [13] From the famous narration of Is`haq b. Ya`qub from the Hidden Imam: As to the course of my uncle, Ja`far and his son, then it is that of the brothers of [the prophet] Joseph.
    [14] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 500
    [15] Ibid, pp. 508
    [16] Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghayba, quotation of Sa`d b. `Abdullah’s Maqalat.
    [17] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 508
    [18] Ibid, pp. 502
    [19] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 508
    [20] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 440
    [21] Arjomand, The Crisis of the Imamate and the Institution of Occultation in Twelver Shi’ism, pp. 492
    [22] Tusi, Fii Nusrat al-Waqifa from his Kitab al-Ghayba
    [23] Corbin, En Islam iranien, volume 4, pp. 330
    [24] There may be a connection here to the mystical Jewish concept of a Messiah son of Joseph.
    [25] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 439
    [26] Ibid, pp. 436
    [27] Tarikh Tabari, Volume 9, pp. 185-186
    [28] Tusi, Fii Nusrat al-Waqifa from his Kitab al-Ghayba
    [29] Amir-Moezzi, The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, pp. 446
  24. Like
    Brained reacted to Ali for a blog entry, The Story of ShiaChat.com - The IRC (#Shia) Days!   
    [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
    Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
    Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all. 
    In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress.
    Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
    For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.
    In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
    The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
    A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
    [More to follow, Part 2..]
    So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?
  25. Like
    Brained reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Delaying gratification   
    One of the ideas that helps explain the economic outperformance of some social and ethnic groups is their ability to practice ‘delayed gratification’. The term accurately sums up the idea of ‘delaying the experience of happiness’.
    This seems counterintuitive, why delay what you could have right now? Surely there is some loss involved in putting off gratification, you may not be around to enjoy it and there could be other uncertainties as well.
    The notion of delayed gratification assumes that if we put off the experience of happiness when we do receive it, the experience will be greater and longer lasting than if we had sought to experience the happiness earlier on.
    Why is this the case? The most obvious example is the delayed gratification occasioned by spending time as a school pupil studying in order to get better grades while that time could have been spent playing or watching television. Later on it’s the same studious group who are at university living in relative penury, while their peers are earning and spending money.
    However, most studies show that although graduates start earning later than non-graduates, once they do so their lifetime earnings are much higher than non-graduates. And it’s not just income, there are a number of other measures such as health going in the same direction.
    All this goes back to the experiments conducted by Walter Mischel in 1970, who offered kids a cookie which they could eat immediately or they could have two if they waited till he came back from an errand. The high delay kids, who waited for the second cookie, did better at school and achieved various other positive life outcomes that the low delay kids did not.
    I’d go on to argue that the process of delaying can change an individual. The kids who are willing to wait for the second cookie will likely prefer the low fat, low sugar offering compared to the tasty version.
    I think this is because when the high delay kids are provided with information about harms and benefits they're better able to make the right choices. As they come across more information these people change what they consider constitutes happiness. This second order effect is important, because it has a qualitative impact not only on lifestyles and employment opportunities of these individuals but also the thought processes of the children of the high delay kids. High delay can be taught and learned.
    So delaying gratification enables the acquisition of quantitatively more happiness, and qualitatively more sustainable happiness.
    Up to this point our discussion has been in terms of purely material gains or losses. You do not have to be a believer in any religion to understand the foregoing argument, there are ample studies involving experiments (often with marshmallows) to back up the idea.
    The question then, is whether the same principles can be applied in a religious context?
    The theist argument would likely be that religious practice such as prayer, the acquisition of religious knowledge and spiritual experience are all activities that take place at the expense of acquiring immediate material happiness, will likely have a higher pay-off in any after-life.
    However, anyone can understand the cause and effect relationship between, for example, the higher pay-offs associated with education and delayed gratification, because there is ample proof for this. But no one has come back from any after life, so is it the case that all we have to go on is faith?
    I don’t think so.
    One of the ways by which people can improve their self-discipline to improve their ability to delay gratification is to undertake some other task that takes their mind away from whatever gratification they are seeking to delay.
    That’s what the religious activities do. They train us to exercise restraint. They are the wait for the second cookie. If we see prayer and duas etc. as taking time away from the joys of worldly activities, that’s because they are supposed to.
    I also think the second order effects that I talked about regarding the impact of education on gratification also have a parallel with religion.
    Time spent on worship and spiritual activities, I think changes what people consider appropriate sources of gratification. They actually change what we do in this life, we consider whether the ingredients of the cookie are halal or haram.
    The Muslims who avoid weed cookies don’t need to rely on faith to understand the benefits of delayed gratification, they can see it for themselves.
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