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In the Name of God بسم الله

Ibn al-Hassan

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Everything posted by Ibn al-Hassan

  1. The only issue I have with this approach is that it doesn't pay sufficent attention to what our Imams [as] actually said in regards to politics and power. See, we have this tendency to try and make it seem as if the scholars don't make mistakes or if we see something contradictory to what the Imams [as] are saying in the ahadith, we take recourse to the idea of "well, they're more knowledge than us." So, can we ever really criticize some of the rulings and theories that are prevalent among contemporary scholars or do we just have to accept their interpretation? We're quick to condemn people who don't agree with the majority of scholars (or let's say even all of them), yet do we even exert a fraction of that effort towards our Infallible Imams [as]? After all, is the hallmark of this school of thought about following fallibles or infallibles? I'm not saying that we should not refer to scholars that may have a better understanding of the texts and tradition. In fact, the main job of a scholar is help facilitate the knowledge of the leaders to others. But still, at the end of the day our attempt should be to follow those worthy of being followed and who have been chosen as our Guides. Even if our interpretation happens to be incorrect, at least we can say we made the effort. Sure, every one is allowed to chose their own path, but for me, I don't see this issue come up in the words and actions of the Ahl al-Bayt [as]. Actually, when they do speak of these matters, they discourage their companions from getting involved in political issues. This doesn't mean that we should have no care in what goes on in the political arena, rather our approach must be more nuanced whereby we don't transfrom tashayyu' into a distinct political ideology and force to be reckoned it. (wasalam)
  2. Masha'Allah! Did you write this yourself? I would suppose that these narrations regarding the pre-existent, luminous lights of the Masumeen [as] are of a more deeper, esoteric, metaphysical nature. And so, while their noor is not confined to the material world (rather something far more profound and unintelligible), yes it is their original archetypal self. This noor then manifests itself in their historical beings at a later point in time, transmitted through the prophetic loins leading up to the Seal of Prophets [sawa], followed by Imam `Ali [as], Sayyidah Fatimah az-Zahra' [as], and their blessed progeny up and until the Qa'im [as]. The historical manifestation is only a form to their real being, their true self (I guess you can even say their soul). The soul lives on and has the inherent ability and creative power to recreate itself in bodily form after having been separated from the corporeal being with which it was associated (similar to how we shall be resurrected on the Day of Judgement). (wasalam)
  3. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "bad" people hurting Muslims. Do you mean that they are physically stopping them from performing religious obligations and rituals? Any government would have to allow for some reasonable amount of religious freedom, not only in holding certain beliefs, but also in carrying out their own rituals and rites. So, this wouldn't only apply to an Islamic government. (wasalam)
  4. Fair enough. I'd be interested in seeing what you discover. Although, I guess I would also like to ask how you would reconcile the narrations coming down from such narrators (whom you have asserted are given tawtheeq by our early scholars) which either hint at or explicitly state a pro-Waqifi position. (wasalam)
  5. That question can be applied to almost every sect, though. I think we need to be a bit more fair in applying our methodologies indiscriminately. People are interested in something when it conforms to their particular religious persuasion but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were fabricating stuff. Otherwise, Sunnis just might say that our scholars fabricated ahadith about the Imams [as], as they seem to have had much interest in narrating them. So, it works both ways. I'm just not sure a narrator should be discredited so easily, seeing as we'd have a lot more issues if we applied this methodology elsewhere. (wasalam)
  6. Do you mind sharing your finding in regards to the origins of this movement? (wasalam)
  7. Why put them on such a pedestal, though? Are they somehow above scrutiny? (wasalam)
  8. See, I don't have much interest in reading too deeply into these arguments (although, I did actually read that treatise by Sayyid Khomeini awhile back). The reason being that our Masumeen [as] did not teach it. Simple as that. They did not encourage their Shi'ah to involve themselves in political movements and such. In fact, if anything they have emphatically commanded their Shi'ah to stay away from these political endeavors and ambitions. We are to wait for the deliverance of the Qa'im [as]. We were never told to establish political government through the utilization of the faith and transform it into a distinct ideology. The establishment of a just, Islamic government is the prerogative of an Imam al-Masum, and the Qa'im [as] in particular. What we see now is this attempt at crystallizing Shi'ism into a political force to be reckoned with. I find this problematic, as the Imams [as] did not teach this. Second, it has always been the assertion of the Shi'ah that religious leaders need be infallible. Was this not our dispute with the Sunnis? Nobody differed over whether or not we should have a caliphate. They differed over the qualifications of that caliph. We Shi'ahs have always emphasized the point that leaders must be infallible for them to be above scrutiny (although, it was always the Infallible leaders that were most welcome to criticism). Now, we find ourselves, essentially, in favor of the Sunni conception of the caliphate (with the relatively minor requirement that he must be knowledgeable in matters of fiqh, like that really makes a difference to how he rules). If we continue to go down this path, I fear that head of the "Islamic" state will eventually become a "Divinely inspired" seat, very much akin to how the Pope is seen in Catholicism. We will elevate fallibles to the level of infallibility (even if we don't outright acknowledge it). Now, I know people will say, "but we have to establish an Islamic government". Though, you can have Islamic laws and policies that reflect the Islamic way of life, without placing a single man on the top (who then has the ability to control nearly every policy decision in the country). If people truly believe in their Islam and out of their own free will choose to accept it, they will naturally favor those policies that befit them as Muslims. But, I'd rather do without an "Islamic" government (which we are not obligated to establish anyways), than to have political ideology mixed in with the pristine faith, allowing fallibles to dictate our beliefs and actions and closing the doors to interpretation. Not only that, but most of the time the policies of the government will have to do with what's in the best interest of the people of that specific nation. The resources will go towards favoring those individuals over others. Ex. The Islamic Republic of Iran definitely favors those people who are "Iranian", nobody can just move over to Iran and reap the benefits of the Islamic government as they should for being Muslim. Instead, the government favors non-Muslim Iranians over non-Iranian Muslims. Is this what the Prophet [sawa] taught? I'm not sure how he would have carried this forth, but I can be sure he would not care much for the nationality of a particular Muslim. Anyways, that's all for the moment. And even if you happen to agree with the political theory of Walayat al-Faqih, there have been major changes in terms of the power and authority of the Wali al-Faqih than was originally given to him and was envisioned by Sayyid Khomeini. You may want to read this paper here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0uwfaa0uw2cdwp9/Rethinking%20the%20Islamic%20Republic.pdf (wasalam)
  9. So, what's the verdict? Are we to reject all of these usul books like that? Or just those that appear to be fabricated? (wasalam)
  10. Now, now...there must be someway to account for this absurdity. I know, maybe we can refrain from picking and choosing what we like from these Sunnis and leave it be. (wasalam)
  11. I'm trying to say that I don't believe the "voice in the sky" will come through the TV. That doesn't seem like much of a miraculous sign. (wasalam)
  12. What if I forgot to pay my monthly bill, am I not going to know that the Qa'im [as] has arrived? (wasalam)
  13. I suppose that's definitely possible, but it still seems fishy. I wouldn't be surprised to know the origins of such a narration as would be expected in the highly polemical culture many scholars found themselves in, but that's quite speculative on my part. My question would be, though, why not filter out all of the narrations from these Waqifis, if they were so prone to lying. Why would we even want them in our books or have any interest in what they have to narrate (they'd probably be making it up, wouldn't they?). Although, at the same time, I don't see why we would have to discredit all of these usul books on the basis of one hadith (which I am doubtful of) and even though a few books appear without complete chains, several others do. And like you said, they're are at least a few possiblities as to why the chains appear incomplete. (wasalam)
  14. Umm...I thought I just reiterated what you said. :mellow: (wasalam)
  15. Better to be safe than sorry. (wasalam)
  16. Interesting research, akhi. But...let me get this straight. Are we to believe that `Ali b. Rabah (a Waqifi mind you) is narrating a hadith whereby he calls al-Qasim b. Ismail a mamtura (lit. "wet dog" - a pejorative term often used in the polemics in reference to the Waqifa) while he himself is a Waqifi? He'd be insulting himself, wouldn't he? Who does that? I find that rather absurd. Am I the only one that catches that? :huh: (wasalam)
  17. Human Existence: Finding Clarity in a World of Perplexity It is enough ignorance for a man not to know himself Imām `Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib Since time immemorial, man has found himself in a seemingly inescapable predicament we call existence. His life consists of little more than eating, drinking, sleeping, working, socializing, mating while at times, every now and then, reflecting on the nature of his own existence. What am I? Who am I? Where did I come from and where am I going? Caught between the absurdity of his own being and the undeniable rational order of the cosmos in which he inhabits, an indescribable pain afflicts him. Seeking to alleviate himself from this disturbing conundrum, he sets out on a journey, hopeful for some kind of cure. Expecting to find a key that will free him from the shackles of distress and misery, he often takes recourse to the wise old sage, the astute philosopher, the cunning theologian, and even the clever mystic. Believing himself to have finally found the perfect remedy, he dubiously carries forth his mundane lifestyle. However, during the course of his regular social interaction, he hears something that causes him to doubt that which he previously affirmed. Once again amidst complete confusion and bewilderment, the vicious cycle continues. Thus is the story of the human being, attempting to find clarity in a world of perplexity. A relentless struggle in discovering the Truth, in aspiring to know the Unknown. But what is it, deeply embedded in the primordial nature of man, that draws him towards such an eternal pursuit? And how does one even account for this intense urge and yearning in him to understand the true nature of Reality? Is there perhaps an underlying Transcendent Cause behind all of existence as many would purport? And do we have a certain intuitive awareness of our Origin to which the human soul (assuming such an inherent dualism does exist) is naturally inclined to strive towards? If so, then to what is our eventual Return? And what exactly does the culmination of this existence entail for how one ought to live one's life? What is to follow is a modest attempt on the part of this poor and humble wayfarer to capture the very essence of the human experience and to help facilitate this profound wisdom to those who find themselves at a similar crossroad. However, it must be stated that it is precisely our intent to refrain from utilizing the often highly technical jargon that prevades most of contemporary and medieval philosophical thought (although, at times we may find ourselves unknowingly indulging in it). For, in many ways, philosophy has always been quite an elitist discourse, reserved to a select few who claim the sole legitimate right to adequately interpret the true nature of Reality as they see fit through their various linguistic deceptions and cleverly employed tactics. A particular discipline and mode of thought that seeks only to obscure and obfuscate the most self-evident of truth claims, again only to further isolate themselves from the so-called "ignorant masses" and establish themselves as the quintessential specialist. Of course, if we take philosophy (commonly referred to as hikmah in the Islamic intellectual tradition) as it is understood in the broadest sense, then we might say that no man can do without at least some philosophical-based worldview. With this in mind, we shall not begin from the position of any particular school of thought or conception of reality, for such an endeavor would only defeat our purpose for pursing this discussion to start with. Rather, we will first seek to identify the most fundamental aspects of the human experience and only then proceed forth in favor of one conception over the other. I I Am, therefore I Think: The Primacy of Existence It was only but a few centuries ago when the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes coined his famous cogito ergo sum, which was to later be commented upon extensively by other prominent thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition. Certainly, though he was far from being the first to perceive of this almost rudimentary and essential fact of our existence, such an assertion is precisely where we ought to begin our discussion. That is that one cannot deny one's own existence. For the moment that we attempt to do so, we are effectively proving our own existence. We are conscious creatures and as such we cannot deny our own being, without making use of consciousness itself. Now, this may seem to be quite an obvious fact that does not stand in need of any further consideration (and it doesn't), but it is crucial to our understanding of what shall follow. Although, we can be absolutely certain of our own existence, what kind of assertions can we make about our experiences regarding those entities outside of ourselves? Can I say that the external world is real? Can I even doubt whether or not my physical self is real? If so, what do I intend by the term real? Is it perhaps foolish to even bring into question the reality of the external world and one's own corporeality? Perhaps so, but that did not deter the Solipsists of the Greek Antiquity from holding such an irrefutable, yet indefensible position with respect to the nature of reality. Still, as we mentioned earlier, the philosophical traditions have a tendency to pervert the most apparent realities we intuitively know to be true. Does anyone seriously doubt the reality of this world? We are as perturbed as any other in regards to this total absurdity on the part of man to live in such denial. Even if the from the viewpoint of these deceitful logicians, we cannot but simply assume the reality of the external world to be real, such an assumption is certainly well-justified to say the least. II Know Thyself: The Epistemology of the Self Having established the existence of our own selves and safely assumed that of the external world around us, we can move on to the issue of the proper epistemological foundations with which we should inquire about the nature of reality. First, there is an interesting, often overlooked, observation with respect to human existence. Namely, that there is an almost inherent tendency, deeply rooted in the primordial nature of man, towards existence itself as opposed to non-existence. What we mean by this is the constant renewal of choice on the part of man to want to exist. Even in the midst of so much perceived evil in the world around us, the physical and psychological pain we are forced to endure, we still desire to simply be. Why is this the case? Why are we naturally inclined to fight so vehemently for our life? Why do we continuously make the choice to exist (if we assume that death is the end of our existence)? Is it really better to exist rather than not exist? This is an important point that must be carefully analyzed. In many ways, the modern man has simply lost himself in the deep sea of doubt and skepticism. He is nothing more than a product of the strict rationalist movement in the contemporary milieu, whereby he is told to think in the narrow confines of reason and that all our beliefs and actions must be validated only through the use of reason. But how does this rationalist mentality justify this basic preference on the part of man to exist? Even if one were to accept the modern evolutionary framework for the origin of our species (which itself is founded upon some faulty premises), how would we account for the choices that we make in the now with such a fully developed and sophisticated mind? Do even the bulk of the decisions we make in this life emanate from such a rationalist discourse? Do we decide to eat, sleep, work, socialize, contemplate all on the basis of reason and rationality? It appears that with this worldview in mind, much of the choices we make become quite irrational. Perhaps even more interesting, though, is that man often finds himself running off into the dark abyss, attempting to chase down the mysteries of the world. Why is this? Why is man so compelled to make sense of the world he lives in? Should knowing the truth about reality hold any meaningful value for his existence? We are not concerned at the moment with the particular outlook or conception of the world he so happens to adopt for himself. Rather, it is the mere fact that such a tendency exists among all peoples, across various geographic and cultural contexts, to make sense of the cosmos that leaves us quite astonished. III Scriptura Sacra: Religious Narrative as a Manifestation of the Human Psyche Religion is the "opiate of the masses" says Karl Marx, arguably the most influential thinker of the last few centuries. A means for man to bear the burden of his socio-economic troubles, a remedy for the weak, the underprivileged. Of course, Marx did not see religion as an evil in itself, but rather a symptom of a much larger issue facing him, that is the material inequalities that plague his society. And so it appears that if man were to simply re-engineer his social structures and political institutions, he would no longer need to stand on the shameful crutches of faith. Apparently, all the social ills of man can be reduced to nothing more than their material elements. Sadly, for Marx though, his ideal solutions were never quite able to come to full fruition and so the social and economic struggles of man still continue as does his religion. However, many would be tempted to argue against this narrow-minded approach on the part of such thinkers in delving into the very essence of the human religious experience. According the 20th century Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, man is endued with a certain collective unconscious, apart from that of his own personal nature. It is these primordial, typically religious, archetypes that exist in the collective unconscious which draw man towards religious narrative. For religious narrative is nothing more than the manifestation of the human psyche (this collective unconscious). And it is only through careful examination of the various ancient religious traditions that have enamored the souls of men and women throughout the ages that we can began to identify these universal archetypes. Nonetheless, it suffices to say that man has always had a tendency to make sense of his existence through an understanding of the supernatural. And although his particular conception of reality and religious narrative seems rather inconsistent and contradictory with that of others of his kind, certain key elements pervade. This affinity towards religion cannot be simply reduced to the material disparities of man or even his psychological tendencies. Such singular approaches fail to understand the diversity and complexity of the men and women that adhere themselves to these particularly religious traditions. For man is far from being a simply mechanicalistic creature with a monolithic way of thinking, he lives in different physical and, more importantly, social climates that significantly influence his specific outlook on the world and his place therein. Although many have kept themselves busy with trying to explain away the very origins of religious thought in man through historical guesswork, some claiming that it was fear that gave rise to the gods, insufficient attention has been paid to the modern phenomena of religion. That is that religion still survives. Men and women from all walks of life, wealthy and impoverished, healthy and weak, intelligent and ignorant, still cling onto the sacredness of religious life and the nourishment of the soul. Religion is not simply the "opiate of the masses" but rather the life-blood of human existence. We quote the elegant words of the brilliant yet flawed historian, Will Durant, in reference to the integral nature of religion in human civilization: "Hence a certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character of a "conflict between science and religion". Institutions which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical control, and become secular, perhaps profane. The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and—after some hesitation—the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile among the oppressed another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization." (Our Oriental Heritage, p. 71) IV The Return: Death and Resurrection Death. There is nothing man fears more than death. He spends much of his existence fleeing from its inevitable grasp, evading its untimely reminders. Some are petrified of its unknown horrors, its cyclic nature, others are repelled by its malodorous smell, and still others from its simple yet sudden end to life. Man holds nothing more precious to him than his life, even though he often finds himself sacrificing it for a cause greater than his own being. For nothing captivates the heart of men and women more so than the good death and the heroic martyr. From the viewpoint of the Abrahamic traditions, and that of Islam in particular, death is not an end in itself but instead a transition to the afterlife. Contrary to the conception of death which carried with it the dreadful scare and frightful qualms that haunted early man, largely stemming from his ignorance of what lie beyond his immediate terrestrial existence, it is rather the certainty of life after death that now causes the faithful believer to quiver in utter fear and apprehension from its mere remembrance. For surely, man will eventually meet his Lord, The Supreme Judge and Giver of Justice, so he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it and he who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it. (99:7-8) Throughout the sacred pages of Islam's Holy Book, we find frequent references to the realities of death and resurrection. It is through this practice of reminding oneself of the inevitable death that the Qur'an intends to spark positive change in the heart of the believer to live the good life. A life that culminates with a purified and cleansed soul through various charitable acts, kindness and respect to peers and one's parents in particular, and of course obedience and piety in the way of the Lord as well as love for His Intimate Friends. And no transition is more profound than that of the great martyrdom. In the Shi'i religious tradition, believers are taught the notion of the good life, culminating in the good death, through the epic martyrdom of the grandson of their Beloved Prophet Muḥammad [sawa] and third Shi'ite Imām, al-Husayn b. `Alī [as]. It is through the narrative at Karbala and subsequent events that transpired thereafter, that believers become aware of not only the good death but of the good life. A life of principle, of exemplary morals and conduct. A life of compassion, of mercy. A life of freedom. It is through this application of religious narrative that the Shi'i tradition seeks to convey to the faithful how one ought to carry forth their respective lives, lives in conformity with the teachings of their Infallible leaders. It is also through the recognition of the sufferings and calamities that befell their sacred Saints that believers are able to connect their own personal trials and tribulations with that of their leaders. The ability to immerse oneself in the narratives of these holy men and women provides the faithful with newfound energy and vitality in their own lives. They are able to share in the collective memory of these tragedies, which significantly surpass that of their own in both content and intensity, thus granting them the will and determination to live good lives as morally upright and honest people. And so, the religious narrative does not simply become a means of teaching men and women, but rather it becomes the center of their universe. For verily, to God we belong and unto Him we shall return. (2:156) ...wa Allahu 'Alam By Ibn al-Hassan Read more @ imamiyyah.blogspot.com (wasalam)
  18. He already worked so many extraordinary miracles for the people of his time, yet they still chose to disbelieve. Do you think that suddenly it will dawn upon all people that they should believe? People still have the ability to reject by their own will and the prophets never attempted to force people to commit to their worldview. Perhaps, Allah [swt] has something greater in plan than what we have thought to be the case. Would it be so absurd if the nation of `Isa [as] be judged by the Sharia of the Injeel as the nation of Muhammad [sawa] be judged by the Sharia of the Qur'an. The fiqh is not the biggest issue, it's the aqeedah. And Allah [swt] shall judge between them in that which they differed. (wasalam)
  19. Well, this idea of it not being abrogated during the ghayba (considering the money is to go to the Imam himself, since he's not here then it's safe to say that we have been freed from this obligation) is applied quite indiscriminately. Doesn't make sense how one can say the khums is still obligatory upon the Shi'i community, yet something so clearly stated in the Qur'an as an obligation, like Friday prayer, is somehow not obligatory until his return. And this makes sense, as the early scholars had a real tough time trying to figure out what to do with this khums issue and there were a whole variety of views. But, I can see why the contemporary opinion, which again goes against what the letter clearly states, is so popular. The hawzas and offices of the scholars could not thrive without the Imam's money. (wasalam)
  20. Apparently, our scholars have been telling us otherwise, going against the words of the Imam himself, huh? Interesting. (wasalam)
  21. Is it they that our religion prescribes us to follow? Our Imams [as] had to deal with the ancestral scum these crazy lunatics descended from during their own times and their response was, well, miles away from what you're advocating. It's not the Shi'ah masses who are the cause of this discord and strife, yet we're the ones expected to just hush up and forget about it. It's almost like the victim is made out to be culprit. Should we be the ones made to bear this unnecessary guilt? Nobody is calling for bloodshed and war, nobody is asking for further escalation, all we're hoping for is the little respect and decency that ought to come along with simply being human. Sure, we'll sit by in return of our awaited Imam [as] before pursing any physical retaliation at those specifically responsible for the kilings of innocent Shi'ah around the world, but we will not remain silent. We will expose these fanatical Nawasib for what they really are, and maybe, just maybe we might save some poor soul from joining their filthy ranks. (wasalam)
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