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I will start this post of by saying I am a non denominational Muslim (which means I don't really align myself to a sect but if I had to I would say I'm more zaydi in my beliefs, but I have the upmost respect for the companions of the Prophet) . If you asking why, it's because of my research into both Shi'a and Sunni Islam has given me so much to ponder over that I question a lot of the beliefs and wonder why things are in both beliefs. Please comment below if you have anything to add, anything you found interesting or anything you want to challenge or counter. Mosques: When I went to Shi'a Mosques, it felt more closed off if you catch my drift, I know some of you will probably disagree with this, but the Sunni mosques that I went to are more open to outsiders. I went to Shi'a mosques that were run by Pakistanis (which seemed more cultural then religious, maybe it will the language and the way they presented things, but there were far more emphasis on the Ahlul Bayt (particular in regards to Imam Ali and Fatima Zahra, )). I went to an Iranian Shi'a mosque which was a more nice experience but once again it was very culturally designed, unfortunately as I'm not Persian I couldn't really understand what they were saying. The closet thing to a mosque that I grew up was an Arab Shi'a mosque, it wasn't extravagent, just plain bear and just saw people continuously praying. My experience at Sunni mosques is quite different, I'm not saying this as a biased point of view but I feel like the Sunni mosques teach the message of the messenger Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) more then the Shi'a mosques which empathise the teachings of the Ah'lulbayt more. It was quite weird hearing people saying Imam Alis name louder then the Prophets ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) name. Sunni mosques also like to focus on previous Prophets and focus on actions more (well from what I've experienced). In my experience the leaders of the Sunnis mosques are more open to talking and interacting then the sheikhs in the Shi'a mosques. I know it isn't common practice amongst quite a few Shi'as but it'd be quite nice to see a Shi'a mosque which was open for 5 Daily Prayers (at 5 consecutive times). For some praying 5 times a day brings them closer to God, although I don't disagree with hadiths that state that praying 3 times performing 5 prayers is allowed Beliefs: Prayer Wudhu: The method of prayer between the Sunnis and Shi'as is quite different. First of all is the matter of wudhu. Being a Shi'a forum I assume you guys probably know your method of wudhu. I find the Sunni version of wudhu makes me feel and more ready for prayer however. Azaan: Although it is debated amongst Shi'as and Sunnis that the azaan is altered on both sides. For example the Shi'as argue that the Fajr azaan in Sunni Islam is altered (although I'll be honest I havent looked in this), the athaan for the rest of the prayers seem unaltered, as they pledge the first two statements (There is no God but Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)), and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is the final messenger. Shi'as also add the third to their athaan. I know Shi'as say that it is not mandatory (wajib) but I will say from my observe in the mosques etc, none has dropped the third testimony to the Athaan, which if you growing up as a young person you might start to assume that it is part of the athaan, which it isn't. I found this uncomfortable at time because I have grown up with the belief that the athaan is the athaan and should be unaltered (which is why I think the zaydi athaan is the correct form of athaan). I also questioned if it is optional, why didn't any of the centres I visited omit it from the adhaan, it's not like you have to add it everytime, for Sunnis this is quite controversial, if Shi'as are to add it to the athaan isn't it moving away from the Sunnah? Prayers: Shi'as pray with there hands down, Sunnis pray with there hands crossed. Not an issue for me either way sometimes I pray with my hands down sometimes with my hands crossed (I prefer praying with my hands down as it feels more natural). Shi'as use a turbah (which I don't like to criticize as I find it admirable), however there is an issue for me with turbah, because some of them say Imam Hussein or other members of the Ah'lulbayt, this for me is a grey issue, on the one hand you have a turbah made out of clay as it's Sunnah to pray on earthly material, on the otherhand you have members of the Ahlul'bayts name on them to which you're prostrating to, you can start to see my issue right....? Also whether we accept it or not there is no recollection of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) using a turbah in his prayers, although there is hadiths of him using a mat made out of leaves I believe, this is still quite different from a turbah. The second thing which I observed was that Sunni's were much more observant of praying 5 times at 5 different times then Shi'as in their 5 daily prayers. Most Shi'as do tend to adopt the view that 3 times a day performing all 5 prayers is fine, however it's preferable to pray all 5 at 5 times which isn't encouraged enough in Shi'a centers hence the reason why they are only opened 3 times a day. Shi'as also ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to bless the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and his family often in ruku and in sajda (although I don't have an issue with this per se, we are praying to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) so we should focus on given the upmost praise to our Lord, which is why I just save it till Tasshahud). Beliefs: Without going into all the beliefs I have seen I will point out a few that I will say had me questioning Shi'a Islam Imam al-Sadeq was a great scholar, and he had all 4 main Sunni madhabs come from his teachings. But the thing that I find questionable is why is it then the Jafari school of thought is so different to the Sunni school of thought, if all 4 schools derived from Jafar al-Sadeq how comes non of them proclaim that the teachings of Jafer al-Sadeq similar to the Shi'a Jafari school of thought, in regards to stuff such as prayer etc, why are there all so different? Just a side note I'm not sure but apparently Imam al-Sadeq is also a descendant of one of the Sahaba (although I can't remember who), how would he feel to hear his generation criticised? Sunnis belief the Prophet saw was the most noble man to work this Earth, the Shi'as say he was infallible, this is also a point of sticking point for me and which I have to do more research on but I don't totally disregard the Shi'a view that our Prophet is infalliable (I say this because of the argument that the Prophet of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has to be perfect for us to believe his message, otherwise people wouldn't be as trusting of his message). But it did get me questioning, how would an infallible man come to pick companions who wouldn't be loyal to him? Surely he would see people who would betray him, I have respect for the Sahaba (I'm not here to criticise Shi'as), but whether it is liked or not, the Sahaba were with the Prophet during his life and helped the growth of our religion, there are also authentic hadiths in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has praised the Sahaba so why turn a blind eye to these? However I have read the Hadith al-Thaqlalyn and the story of Ghadir Khums. Because of these two counters, I do believe that Imam Ali was the rightful successor, but not to infallibility which something as big as this should be more clearly defined in the Qu'ran. I believe Imam Ali was the rightful caliphs but due to his merits, not because he was divinely appointed, an issue such as divine appoint would have been made clear in the Qu'ran, we can looks at verse but the tafsir on both Sunni and Shi'a sides could be correct (which is why I have an issue picking a side). For example, 33:33 Sunnis argue that is all the Prophets household including his wives (which would make sense make sense as the whole Surah is on women), however Shi'as argue it is based on the Ah Al-Kisa, whos correct I don't know, but why would something like this be made for us laymen to ponder and then interpret in a different way to how the message seems originally? I still struggle to see viewpoints in Sunni hadiths (the reason I take them more seriously because there is a greater hadith science between it and the verification process is more extensive) that Imam Ali was in direct conflict between the first three caliphs. Also a lot of the hadiths have been translated from the Prophets wife Aisha in Surah Bukhari, which is important in understanding the Sunnah of the Prophet in the Sunni traditions, which is why I don't understand the animonsity Shi'as have towards her. If we are to adopt the traits of the Ahlul Bayt, Imam Ali still showed her respect despite the disputes, so wouldn't it preferable to take the opinion of Imam Ali? Just a sidenote, I also find Sunnis beliefs a bit difficult to understand, if they are under one umbrella, lets take an issue like combining prayers, Hanafis say it is not permitted under any circumstance unless at Hajj, whereas Malikis say it is permitted, but during travelling, rain etc, Hanbalis say a distance of 90km. So whos right? The Maliki madhub pray with their hands down, this is because the founder of the madhabs was from Medinah I believe and said that hows people in Medinah prayed which means this is what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) must have taught. If this is true, why did the other school not do it aswell, we are from the rope of religion. I also have an issue with the way Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is described, for me it's more plausible that the Shi'a view that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is not limited by time or space, and to attribute attribute to our Lord is limiting him. Unfortunately what did turn me away from Shi'a Islam was the difference in pilgrimidge etc. Sunnis emphathise visiting Mecca, Medinah and Al Aqsa, as the first three holiest sites, I know this belief is shared in Shi'a beliefs aswell, but unfortunately I just don't thing this was empathised as much as visiting the shrines of Imam Ali, Imam Hussein, Imam Ridha etc. I'm not against visiting shrines, but to make it into a pilgrimidge kind of thing where these things for some take precedent over visiting officially recognised sites was a bit concerning. If I offend you with this I'm sorry but I have noticed it more people do actively talk about visiting Karbala than visiting Mecca for example. The story of the birth of Fatima Zahra. I heard from the Shi'a perspective that apparently that angels or something along these line visiting Lady Khadija and appointed 4 women to the birth of Fatima Zahra, but I never heard of this before anywhere in our religion and I don't see anything from the Prophet pbuhbeing mentioned regarding this Tawassul. Tawassul is hugely controversial and difficult for me to understand. When you look into to what they say in Dua Tawassul as a Sunni you'd be forgiven for thinking that Shi'as ask for other for help rather then Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), which is polythiestic. I understand the Shi'a reasoning behind it, but for me it is always strange to ask someone for help, who will then turn to our Lord and ask on our behalf, this is not common in Sunni Islam at all, which then paints a grey area, why not just ask Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) directly, surely it's better and safer to do anyways Mu'tah, Tattoos, Tatbir Zanjeer. Sigh, these things are things that a person like me from a Sunni background has grown up and been told are not allowed. Why? I don't wish to speak bad of Mu'tah incase I may be mistaken, but you guys have probably heard the arguments against it. Tattoos, we've grown up to believe that our bodies are perfect so to modify them artificilly is looked down upon, some reason why we don't agree with Tatbir/Zanjeer, our bodies shouldn't be used to harm ourself, the Prophet didn't do it, so should we? This thread took a long time to write, I'm not hear to bash Shi'a beliefs, I just want a discussion, I'm a layman who is looking to learn (which is an important part of our religion), I was reading a article on how Khomeini was so adamant and fixed on the idea that Shi'a Islam was the true form of Islam it got me wondering, despite the majority of Muslims being Sunnis why was he so adamant that he was right? These things are so difficult to understand, it would take years to know if you practicing the religion properly and sometimes it hurts my brain thinking about these things. I'm open minded, I believe that Imam Ali should have been successor, but as I said I don't think he was divinely appointed, because I don't think something like this would have been left without being said, why would the Prophet not annouce that the Imam Mahdi has gone into hiding aswell or it being mentioned in Qu'ran. Because of all that I've that I've observed I do not really align myself with a sect, but I would say I'm more general Sunni follower with Zaydi beliefs if that makes sense. Let me know if you guys have anything to add. Than
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