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The Dictations with Sayyid Ali Imran | New Series

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3 hours ago, Ibn al-Hussain said:

:bismillah:

:salam:

Introduction to Iqra Online's new series of talks called The Dictations (al-Amali) by Sayyid Ali Imran.

 

Don't forget to subscribe to the channel for updates.

Official Website: https://iqraonline.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IqraOnlineBlog/
Telegram: https://t.me/IqraOnline

For inquiries, sponsorship and other matters, email: info@iqraonline.net

Wa alaikum as salam, great idea. Looking forward to it inshaAllah. 

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2. Engaging with the Prophetic Seerah | The Dictations

In this second episode of The Dictations we discuss the importance of the Prophetic Seerah, the need to study the different dimensions of the Prophet (p), incorporating the Seerah in the Islamic Studies curriculum, and conducting thematic analysis on the Seerah.

Timestamps

0:00 Intro
2:30 Quote of Shahid Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980)
10:30 Why the Shi'a have not focused on the Seerah?
13:10 What sparked my interest in the Seerah?
17:55 An example of using the Seerah for community building
24:40 Quote from Imam 'Ali (a) on the Prophet (p)
26:45 Who was the Prophet (p)?
35:10 Was the default personality of the Prophet (p) a legal one?
37:50 One response to those who say the default personality is a legal one
42:40 Seerah as part of the Islamic Studies curriculum
49:00 Examples of Thematic Analysis on the Seerah
52:05 A brief case study from the Seerah
1:00:05 Spiritual strength from the Seerah
1:11:00 A few books on the Seerah

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On 12/31/2022 at 6:02 PM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

Episode 1. The Amali Genre | The Dictations

What were al-Amali works produced by Muslim scholars, particularly between the 3rd the 6th century hijri?

 

Timestamps

0:00 Intro to this series
3:55 Analysis of Verse 28 of Surah Maryam by Sayyid Murtada (355 - 436 AH/965 - 1044 AD) in his al-Amali
12:55 What is an al-Amali?
16:00 Ibn al-Shajari (450–542 AH/1058–1148 AD) and his al-Amali
17:03 How I got interested in Arabic grammatical discussions
19:25 Other names for al-Amali
20:05 When did the genre of al-Amali begin?
22:05 How would an Imla' session look like?
23:40 Ibn al-Samʿānī's (426/489 AH/1113-1166 AD) Adab al-Imlāʾ wa al-Istimlāʾ - a treatise on dictation as a method of transmitting texts and knowledge
28:18 Were only hadith scholars the authors of al-Amali?
31:03 What narrations are usually mentioned in al-Amali?
35:45 Aqa Buzurg Tehrani's (d. 1970) discussion on the genre of al-Amali in his al-Dharīʿa
40:40 The al-Amali of the Prophet (p) dictated to Imam 'Ali (a)
49:00 The al-Amali of Mirza Mohammad al-Akhbari (d. 1816)
51:45 Sayyid Murtada's al-Amali

I finally got round to watching this first episode. Since the topics are already highlighted above I won't rewrite the whole summary, just some key points.

The introduction is about the Amali genre of literature which are essentially narration-based lessons or discussions which the ulama used to spread information to the people.

It is interesting to note that these sessions and collections exist among the ahl us sunnah and zaidiyyah as well as the imamiyyah. The attendees were also not necessarily always from the same school of thought (e.g the sessions of Shareef al Murtadha)

Examples of typical discussions, the etiquette of the sessions and references to different authors are made. While these works are typically prepared by muhadditheen (hadith scholars) there are also others (grammarians, philosophers) who also had produced their own 'dictations' or Amali (sometimes also titled 'majaalis' , 'muqalaat' or 'malfudhaat')

Before this introduction I was personally only aware of the Amali of Sheikh al Mufid and Sheikh al Saduq so it was interesting to know that the genre was so widespread. 

I appreciate these works because in addition to familiarizing oneself with the narrations of the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) and the Ahlulbayt (عليه السلام) we also know that these narrations were specifically selected by important scholars to be presented to their audiences. 

They are also generally 'lighter' than famous hadith collections since they are often divided into sessions and organized accordingly (the structure of these works is also briefly discussed in the video)

Here are a couple of discussion points that came to mind after listening to this first session: 

-how has the role of the muhaddith evolved from the classical period to the contemporary period?

-is there an interest in contemporary works of the Amali genre and if so, how will they differ from classical works? 

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On 1/28/2023 at 6:25 AM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

3. Arrogance & Conceit | The Dictations

In this episode of The Dictations, we explore the human tendency and inclinations towards arrogance and conceit.

Thanks for sharing this video.

This session covers a topic which every individual encounters and can personally relate to, and which can have devastating effects on the individual but also society/community. 

Kibr (arrogance) is unfortunately something which has not only become common but in some instances has even become praiseworthy and virtuous in a society which is very self-oriented/ego-centric.

After an opening anecdote comes the introduction elaborating the above points and then demonstrating how arrogance is often a trigger to many other sins.

A famous sermon from Nahjul Balagha is then presented, (sermon 192) emphasizing the criticality of humility since this is the key to opening up the heart to guidance. 

In the next part the difference between  'ujb and kibr is explained, the former being conceit (a sense of pride in one's own self) and the latter being arrogance (sense of superiority over others). The dangers of these ills are further elaborated, one of them being the risk of one even viewing their bad deeds as good ones.

In addition to pride in worship other examples are also discussed (pride in knowledge, pride in lineage etc)

 

Some thoughts after listening to this very beneficial session:

-while some sins are very far from worship and religiosity, the danger of 'ujb and kibr is that they can even feature in some of the best acts of worship. This is why extra vigilance and care is required. 

-the effects of pride/arrogance are not only dangerous to the individual but can also damage entire societies and civilizations. In fact the more responsibility and authority a person has, the more devastating their pride becomes, meaning that one should be extra vigilant when blessed with leadership.

May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) protect us from conceit and arrogance. 

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6. Sincerity in Preaching: Muhaddith Nuri's Lulu wa Marjaan | The Dictations

In this episode of The Dictations, we explore the phenomenon of religious speakers and eulogy reciters charging money for lectures through the lens of a 19th-century Shi'i Imami scholar, Muhaddith Nuri (d. 1902).

Watch: https://youtu.be/PPyFfY9qUXs

0:00 Intro
1:03 Abu Aswad al-Du'ali's (d. 69/689) poem for Mu'awiyah
5:50 Theme of loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in the Imami hadith corpus
8:00 Discourse on 'Scholars for Dollars' between 2006-2012 Western Shi'a communities
10:50 Discovering the book Lulu wa Marjaan of Muhaddith Nuri (d. 1902)
13:30 Advise for seminarians on how to strengthen their grasp on Farsi and Arabic
16:25 Some remarks on Muhaddith Nuri
19:10 Ikhlas (Sincerity) - summary of the first chapter of Lulu wa Marjaan
20:35 A fundamental premise: Making others mourn is an act of worship
27:10 Some observations on this premise
32:30 First consequence: Riya' (Showing off)
35:35 Second consequence: Becoming an instance of those who make the name of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as a source of their livelihood
46:40 Are there any ways to justify the practice of charging money?
48:10 Comparing the role of the mu'adhdhin with the role of one who makes people mourn
52:30 Third consequence: Becoming an instance of those who have sold their Hereafter for the world
1:01:35 A complaint of Muhaddith Nuri
1:04:30 The community's moral duty towards the reciters

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7. What's in a Word? | Etiquettes of Speech | The Dictations

In this episode of The Dictations, we discuss some perspectives on our way of speaking, and the etiquette that should be maintained while using our tongues. 

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/u-3MoXYp2Xo

0:00 Intro
1:25 Lines of poetry from the Kashkul of Shaykh Baha'i (d. 1030/1620)
8:25 Why nonsense talk is prevalent in the modern era
12:45 Dimensions of speech 
13:40 i) Content
20:00 ii) Place
22:50 iii) Tone
26:10 iv) Framework
32:00 Qualities of speech mentioned in the Quran
39:22 Etiquettes of speech demonstrated by Khidr
48:25 An anecdote from my Farsi class in 2013

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On 2/11/2023 at 1:51 AM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

4. The Infallibility Cloak | The Dictations

In this episode, we discuss the phenomenon of humans draping themselves with a cloak of infallibility and how that impacts the way they interpret themselves.

This session follows the previous one about 'ujb and kibr, by firstly describing how people close the doors to guidance by 'cloaking themselves' in an imagined infallibility.

The danger of this behavior is that one not only stops seeing their faults and shortcomings, but also that one finds excuses for these sins to the extent of making them look righteous. Some examples and mechanisms of how this happens are discussed (shifting blame, changing moral perceptions, polemics etc)

The second part of the session looks at how this same self perception can be projected onto others, either through a negative lens (perceiving others only negatively) or positive lens (perceiving others only positively) resulting in an inaccurate understanding of historical events and their consequences.

Some of these discussions can also be found on IqraOnline's article regarding the Halo and Horn effect when studying Islamic history and personalities:

Link

 

Overall this session provides a very important lesson for multiple aspects of life. Spiritually, this behavior is damaging because it closes the door to self improvement and rectification. Academically it is also restrictive because it clouds one's ability to evaluate incidents and personalities in an adequate manner. 

 

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1 hour ago, Abu_Zahra said:

how people close the doors to guidance by 'cloaking themselves' in an imagined infallibility.

There was a historical perspective mentioned in the same lecture i.e., "there was a confusion among Muslims in the battle of jamal & siffin". 

Unfortunately, brother Imran hasn't addressed that matter in detail and I think he should have explained that particular point in detail because of two main reasons:

1) there was no confusion among the people who came out in support of Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and there was no confusion either in those who came out in support of Ummul Mo'mineen A'isha. 

2) there should not be the need of any confusion for all those who are attached with the Quran & the Sunnah of Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as a clear verse of Quran commanding the wives of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) to stay in their houses and many sahih ahadith mentioning Ali (عليه السلام) with truth & truth with him, the hadith of dogs barking on the ummul mo'mineen at Howb etc. All those seniors/commanders who came out to fight Imam Ali (عليه السلام) recognizes him as their mowla, witnessed the event of Ghadeer as well. 

So if we say that there was a confusion among muslims, and justify the reason of their confusion as there were Ummul Mo'mineen & senior companions at one side & Imam Ali (عليه السلام) & senior companions on other, I would like to question whether that alleged confusion has a valid historical or even shara'i basis? Was that confusion has any validity? And why there were no confusion among the people fighting for each side? What exactly made them certain that they are supporting the right person? And lastly what actually making us certain that Imam Ali (عليه السلام) is on the right side & what makes the Sunni's certain that Imam Ali (عليه السلام) was on the right side in Jamal & Siffin? 

I hope brother Imran will address these questions. 

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8. The I'tikaf (Spiritual Retreat) | The Dictations

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/lGQWG9OyBYc

In this episode of The Dictations we will explore how the practice of I'tikaf during the month of Ramadan was an uncommon practice in Shi'a communities due to the rulings of the jurists before 17th-century hijri, but how the treatise and efforts of a single scholar changed that. Furthermore, we will analyze the practice of I'tikaf in modern-day Iran and how time and place variables played a role in altering its form, turning it from a worship of solitude to a communal practice.

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Timestamps: 

0:00 Intro
5:00 Culture of I'tikaf in Rajab in Iran
10:50 The history of I'tikaf in the Shi'a communities
13:40 Treatise of Shaykh Lutfullah al-Maysi (d. 1032 / 1623)
15:50 Why did he write this treatise?
17:55 First concern: The I'tikaf should only happen in the 4 dedicated mosques
24:15 Can the I'tikaf only be done in a mosque in which an infallible Imam led prayers?
26:16 Second concern: Why is the I'tikaf only being done in the last 10 days of Ramadan?
28:55 Third concern: Why are we building shades and alcove roof covering in the mosque during I'tikaf?
32:30 Fourth concern: Why are you doing ihya' during the I'tikaf?
36:10 Shaykh Lutfullah's response to his critic
38:25 I'tikaf from a sociological perspective
41:25 A Rebirth: A Sociological Reflection on I'tikaf by Rayhaneh Saremi
47:10 A Journey to Solitude: An Ethnographic Narrative of the Religious Experience of I'tikaf by Mohammad-Reza Puyafar
54:55 A recap

 

Edited by Abu_Zahra
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9. The Mysterious Disjointed Letters | The Dictations

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/WGiVILimQRw

In this episode, we shed light on the disjointed letters that appear at the beginning of some of the Quranic chapters, and then explore 20 opinions of scholars on what they possibly mean. This discussion is a summary of what is presented by Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli in his Tafsir.

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Timestamps:

0:00 Intro
0:50 Shaykh Mahmud Halabi's (d. 1998) cryptic message in his transcript from Mirza Mahdi Isfahani's (d. 1945) class
13:00 Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli's Quranic exegesis
14:30 Collection of 20 opinions in Tasneem
15:45 Generic features of the disjointed letters
22:40 20 Opinions
1:08:40 Comments of Ayatullah Jawadi on the view of Ibn 'Arabi and other mystics
1:12:10 Final remarks

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10. "Allah Didn't Want Me To Marry You!" | The Dictations

Premiering on May 3rd: https://youtu.be/oV3Gb8CLTBg

In this episode of The Dictations we explore the popular culture of Istikhara in our communities. What are the different types of Istikhara mentioned in the Islamic tradition? Which forms of it are authentic and which ones are unreliable?

0:00 Intro
2:20 Bombing of the Iranian parliament in 1908 based on an Istikhara
13:35 Istikhara in the Hadith corpus
15:50 Linguistic meaning of Istikhara
20:04 Popular understanding of Istikhara today
21:19 i) Istikhara with rosary beads
26:15 ii) Istikhara with the Quran
46:07 How the Ansar al-Mahdi cult rely on Istikhara to determine the Hujjah
51:25 iii) Istikhara of Tayr
52:48 iv) Istikhara of Riqa' 
57:00 v) Istikhara of the Heart
59:20 vi) Istikhara of Consultation
1:00:30 Appointing someone to do Istikhara for you
1:05:40 The role of Sayyid Ibn Tawus (d. 1266) and the Mongol attack on Baghdad in popularizing other forms of Istikhara
1:12:40 Sayyid Ibn Tawus was anti-Wilayat al-Faqih? A strange meeting with a PhD student and severe critic of Ibn Tawus in Qom
1:19:45 Final remarks on the importance of Du'a and Tawakkul on Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)

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11. Less is More: Establishing Importance Through Quantity of Hadith | The Dictations

In this episode of The Dictations, we look at whether having a large number of hadith on a topic means it is necessarily more important and significant than a topic that has a fewer number of hadith.

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/YIoSln77vos

Timestamps

0:00 Intro
1:40 Madinatul 'Ilm - the lost book of Shaykh Saduq (d. 381/991)
5:10 Would our faith look different had this book been preserved?
13:40 The quantity of pages of Kitab al-Tawhid & Kitab al-Hujjah from Usul al-Kafi
17:15 The discussion on tazahum (mutual competition) in legal theory
19:45 Does quantity of narrations prove that a certain topic is more important?
20:50 Shahid Baqir al-Sadr's (d. 1980) discussion on resolving the dilemma of tazahum through quantity
24:00 i) A topic may be a common occurence in society
26:45 ii) The political and communal context may disallow for certain topics to be spoken about openly
29:10 Muhaqqiq Karaki's (d. 940/1534) remarks in his treatise on cursing
38:00 iii) The topic may need to be repeatedly emphasized as people become heedless of it
38:41 Explaining the large quantity of narrations on temporary marriage (mut'ah) in Shi'i hadith
42:30 iv) The topic may be linked to a specific prominent event
44:45 v) The scholar's beliefs and assumptions may result in a certain topic being popularized
47:00 Ibn al-Junayd and narrations on ijtihad/qiyas
50:20 Shaykh Saduq and narrations on seeing Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)
54:45 Is ethics more important than law due to greater quantity of verses in the Quran?
57:20 Does quantity prove the importance of a topic if all things are equal?

 

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12. Deceptive Devotion: The Art of Showing Off | The Dictations

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/TOStDGdr0gM

In this episode, we explore the vice of showing off & ostentation (riya') as presented in traditional Islamic literature, particularly the Sufi-Mystical literature, and identify some of its common instances.

0:00 The story about Cats and Mice by Ubayd al-Zakani (d. 1370)
9:15 What is riya' & some of its contexts
15:05 A Prophetic tradition on a martyr, scholar & wealthy person showing off
19:50 Riya' in beliefs, worship and ethics
25:25 Six degrees of riya' in worship
32:15 Riya' in Sufi-Mystical literature
38:52 Instances of riya' in Sufi-Mystical literature
41:45 Story from Gulistan of Saadi Shirazi (d. 1292)
44:42 Poetry from Sana'i Ghaznawi (d. 1141) on people of his time engaging in riya'
47:44 Mulla Ahmad Naraqi's (d. 1829) poetry against a charlatan
59:00 Instances of riya' in the 21st century
1:03:45 A general principle that helps us stay away from riya'

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13. Praying Behind the Non-Shi'a | The Dictations

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/OhF9fjo5Sko

In this episode, we explore the historical developments of the Shi'i Imami ruling on praying in congregation behind the non-Shi'a.

0:00 Intro
1:20 Sunni mosques in Iran
15:00 Reward for praying behind the non-Shi'a
18:30 Letter of Ibn Babuwayh al-Qumi (d. 327 AH) to Shaykh Saduq (d. 381 AH)
26:15 Opinions of Shaykh Mufid (d. 413) & Shaykh Tusi (d. 460)
30:05 Opinion of Ibn Idris al-Hilli (d. 598) and Shahid Awwal (d. 768)
37:55 Letter of a group of believers to Shahid Thani (d. 966)
39:53 Opinion of Shaykh Salih Mazandarani (d. 1081) and Mulla Fayd Kashani (d. 1091)
43:00 Opinion of Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani (d. 1186 AH / 1772) & Shaykh Kashif al-Ghita (d. 1277 / d. 1812)
45:25 Opinion of Mirza Qumi (d. 1231 / 1816) & Shaykh Ahmad al-Qatifi
50:00 Opinion of Shaykh Ansari (d. 1281 / d. 1864)
51:20 Shift from fear to unity - opinion of Allamah Sharaf al-Din (d. 1377 / d. 1957)
56:45 Opinion of contemporary jurists

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14. History of Standardized Exams in the Qom Seminary | The Dictations

Watch: https://youtu.be/W4dOEwgJFpg

In this episode, we look at the history of how and why standardized exams were introduced in the seminary of Qom by Reza Shah during the time of Ayatullah Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi, then reintroduced by Ayatullah Borujerdi, and have remained part of the seminary system till today.

0:00 Intro
2:25 Importance of reading travelogues and autobiographies
5:00 The Life of an Unidentified Person
10:00 Reza Shah's Uniform Dress Law
14:12 Shaykh Muhammad Hujjati speaking about his exam experience in 1930s
19:17 Timeline of standardized exams in the Qom Seminary
33:48 What would happen in Madrassas before the introduction of standardized exams?
37:40 Memos between the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Education Ministry and the Qom seminary (between 1933-1936)
52:40 Anecdotes from the time of Ayatullah Haeri Yazdi
57:55 Three committees formed by Ayatullah Borujerdi (in 1949)
1:02:17 Anecdotes from the time of Ayatullah Borujerdi
1:05:55 Personal anecdote: Being assessed by Ustad Ghulam-Reza Fayyazi
1:12:25 Summative & Formative assessments
1:17:55 Personal anecdote: Positive impact of formative assessments
1:20:45 What do summative exams really prove?
1:23:20 Closing remarks

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15. Guest Appearance: Child on a Quranic Journey | The Dictations

In this episode of The Dictations, we invited guest Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Maisami - founder of Quranic Journey - along with his young inspirational son Muhammad Reza from the city of Qom, Iran. You don't want to miss out on this episode!

Watch Here: https://youtu.be/q36fG1ZXc6w

0:00 Clips of sister Fatima Waziri (mother) and Muhammad Reza (son)
3:00 Intro & story of how I met Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Maisami
8:45 Conversation with Sheikh Muhammad Maisami
10:50 Background and early upbringing
14:58 The phenomenon of young kids & their grasp over the Quran in the 90s
19:35 How Sheikh Muhammad Maisami and his wife worked with their son Muhammad Reza
27:35 Discussion on pedagogical techniques employed
32:50 How feasible is it for other families and parents
38:30 5 main chapters every child should understand
41:40 Is this not unnecessary pressure on the child & what about their school education?
53:40 Progress on Sheikh Muhammad Maisami's younger daughter
56:30 What keeps you continuously attached to the Quran?
1:05:00 Closing remarks with Sheikh Muhammad Maisami
1:11:10 Introduction with Muhammad Reza
1:12:55 What new surahs have you learned?
1:13:50 Exploring Surah al-Kahf
1:24:35 Final message by Muhammad Reza on the importance of hard work

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On 3/25/2023 at 3:53 AM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

7. What's in a Word? | Etiquettes of Speech | The Dictations

Following the previous lecture on sincerity in preaching, this session addresses speech in a more general and global way.

There are three main parts to the discussion.

Firstly an enlightening introduction which explains how the Islamic tradition viewed silence as a quality, particularly in the presence of more learned people, while modern society promotes endless talk about anything and everything regardless of whether we have knowledge or not. This has devalued speech in general.

The second part includes some important tips, considerations and perspectives on speech. Beyond the religious perspective these tips can be helpful in day to day contexts also.

Finally the third part covers the different guidelines on speech in the Quran and how various scenarios and situations call for specific qualities in speech.

As always, it was an interesting discussion and contains excellent tips for aligning ones speech with Islamic guidelines.

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On 4/7/2023 at 3:46 PM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

The I'tikaf (Spiritual Retreat) | The Dictations

As the title indicates this video is specifically dedicated to the practice of I'tikaf, which is essentially a period of a few days when one secludes themselves in the masjid and spends the time in worship (most commonly during the month of Ramadhan)

The first part of the discussion addresses why I'tikaaf was uncommon in the Shi'i community and how it was introduced into the mainstream by the 11th century Shuyookh of Jabal 'Amil. 

Some of the classical restrictions and interpretations of I'tikaaf are then discussed as well as their responses as argued by Shaykh Lutfullah Maysi. 

Finally some contemporary discussions and critiques of I'tikaaf are briefly summarized and referenced. 

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16. Game On: Transforming Learning with Game Mechanics | The Dictations

In this episode, we look at how gamification, play-based, and game-based approaches to teaching can revolutionize learning. We look at certain game mechanics that can be employed to turn any topic into a fun and engaging experience and go through specific examples from Social Studies, Critical Thinking, Literacy, and Math of how this can be done. In addition, we also look at how certain commercial games can be used for educational objectives and show specific examples from Math, Social Studies, Islamic Studies, and Literacy.

0:00 Iqra Online membership
2:40 Story: The Sign of a Tassel
8:05 Reflection: How the wife changed her husband's behaviour through a game
16:25 i) Play-based learning
19:55 ii) Gamification: Using game design elements & mechanics
28:33 Examples of gamification: Escape Rooms, Google Maps, Twine
50:50 iii) Game-based learning: The Counting Kingdom for Math
53:40 Never Alone for Social Studies
59:20 What Remains of Edith Finch for Literacy
1:09:00 TypeRider for Social Studies
1:16:00 Muslim 3D for Islamic Studies

Official Website: https://iqraonline.net/

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17. A Book That Changed How I Think | The Dictations

0:00 Reading Crisis in our Community
5:25 Story of How We Purchased the Book
9:25 Intro to Jurayee Az Darya (A Drop from the Sea)
10:25 First Section of the Book (Academic Papers)
15:40 Second Section of the Book (Scholar Stories)
17:20 Ayatullah Zanjani's Relationship with Imam Musa Sadr
18:00 Why These Stories Are Important & How They Were Recorded
29:00 Sample Stories: i) Shaykh Muhammad Fazel Sharbiyani
35:45 ii) Ayatullah Sayyid Khu'i and a Dream Interpretation
41:55 iii) Mirza Abu Talib Zanjani Compared Another Student to Hazrat Abbas
44:50 iv) Shaykh Hadi Tehrani the Isolated Scholar
52:50 Concluding Remarks

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18 hours ago, Ibn al-Hussain said:

 

17. A Book That Changed How I Think | The Dictations

0:00 Reading Crisis in our Community
5:25 Story of How We Purchased the Book
9:25 Intro to Jurayee Az Darya (A Drop from the Sea)
10:25 First Section of the Book (Academic Papers)
15:40 Second Section of the Book (Scholar Stories)
17:20 Ayatullah Zanjani's Relationship with Imam Musa Sadr
18:00 Why These Stories Are Important & How They Were Recorded
29:00 Sample Stories: i) Shaykh Muhammad Fazel Sharbiyani
35:45 ii) Ayatullah Sayyid Khu'i and a Dream Interpretation
41:55 iii) Mirza Abu Talib Zanjani Compared Another Student to Hazrat Abbas
44:50 iv) Shaykh Hadi Tehrani the Isolated Scholar
52:50 Concluding Remarks

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Salaam Aleikum,

I wish the book could be one day translated to English. So much we can learn from these stories and apply to our lives.

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On 4/21/2023 at 9:05 PM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

9. The Mysterious Disjointed Letters | The Dictations

Watch Now: https://youtu.be/WGiVILimQRw

In this episode, we shed light on the disjointed letters that appear at the beginning of some of the Quranic chapters, and then explore 20 opinions of scholars on what they possibly mean. This discussion is a summary of what is presented by Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli in his Tafsir.

This video addresses a much discussed topic which doesn't really have a decisive conclusion: The Disjointed Letters (Al Huroof al Muqatta'aat)

It opens with an anecdote regarding some cryptic letters in one of the works of Mirza Mahdi Isfahani and how his student Shaykh Halabi tried to decipher it. The purpose is to show the general fascination with cryptic writings and how people, including scholars, try to interpret them.

The main topic is based on the research of Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli, who has investigated various interpretations of the Disjointed Letters and presented them in his tafseer.

 

Some of his observations include:

-the disjointed letters are unique to the Qur'an and not found in earlier books of revelation

-the letters can be found in Meccan and Medinan Surahs, and are therefore not specific to one period or the other

-the sequences of letters range from one (eg Qaf) to five (eg Kaf, Ha, Ya, Ayn, Sad) and the number of different letters are 14

 

Some of the investigated opinions include:

-1st opinion: Some have categorized the disjointed letters as ambiguous (mutashabih) verses. Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli argues that they can't be considered as such, since an ambiguous verse still has a meaning even if it requires interpretation, while the disjointed letters do not have a direct meaning in themselves.

-2nd opinion: Some scholars, including Al Tusi, believed that the disjointed letters were actually the names of the corresponding surahs (eg. Suratul Baqarah is actually Surah Alif Laam Meem). The critique here is that there isn't sufficient evidence to support this claim.

-3rd opinion: One opinion which Tabrisi has mentioned in Majma ul Bayaan is that these letters are different names for the Qur'an. Again, Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli hasn't found evidence in favour of this.

-A 4th opinion is that the letters represent the names of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), or are even names for the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)), possibly as abbreviations. Indeed in Arabic poetry it was already sometimes the case that a letter would be an abbreviation for a word. Ibn Sina and others have interpreted the letters as abbreviations of attributes or qualities of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Ayatullah Jawadi's critique of this opinion is that the attributes are already mentioned in the Qur'an, and would therefore not require to be codified. He recognizes that the are narrations that support this theory but the narrations are weak.

-A 5th opinion differs slightly from the 4th opinion, by stating that the letters when put together represent a name or attribute of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Again, the counter argument here is that if the names and attributes are already in the Qur'an in a clear manner there is no requirement to codify them.

-6th opinion: the letters represent an oath (qasm). This is a possibility, but it can be argued that oaths are usually made to remove doubts. Since the letters themselves do not have an apparent meaning, it wouldn't be expected that they are used for the purpose of removing a doubt.

-7th opinion: the letters can be converted into numericals (abjad numerical system). They refer to future events/incidents. While there are some narrations supporting this, they are not strong narrations. The evidence for this claim is therefore not strong.

-The 8th opinion also refers to a numerical conversion, and specifically states that it refers to how much time is left until the Day of Judgement. Ayatullah Jawadi counters that nobody except Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has this knowledge.

-9th opinion: the letters are simply examples of the Arabic alphabet. This explanation isn't very convincing, considering that only some of the letters have been used. Furthermore, it doesn't actually give any meaning to the letters. 

-10th opinion: the purpose of the letters is to grab the attention of disbelievers. This is quite a popular view, even though it doesn't appear to have any evidence. Furthermore, the disjointed letters occur also in Medinan surahs where the audience were Muslimeen.

-11th opinion: the letters are a challenge to the mushrikeen, to produce something similar to the Qur'an. In fact, most of the disjointed letters are followed by verses which refer directly to the Qur'an. While this view may make sense, like many other views it also lacks evidence for certainty. 

-12th opinion: the disjointed letters are the ones that are most used in the corresponding Surahs. This would then be a sign of the linguistic miracle of the Qur'an, but would need to be properly researched and documented in order to be established.

-13th opinon: the disjointed letters are a 'marker' between different surahs. However, if this was the case then the disjointed letters would occur in every surah. The suwar are already distinguished by the 'basmala' that occurs at the beginning.

-14th opinion: the letters are a summary of the surah. The argument against this opinion is that they cannot serve as a summary to the reader if their meaning is not known.

-15th opinion: the letters are a prefix or introduction to the surah. As above, this would be relevant if they were understood by the reader.

-16th opinon: some Orientalists have suggested that the letters represent the names of the men who were in the possession of early Qur'anic scripts (codexes). The problem with this opinion is that it suggests tahreef (distortion). The Qur'an was revealed to and recited by the Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) before any of the men compiled the Qur'an into codexes. 

-17th opinion: the letters are indicators of the number of verses in the Qur'an. The critique here would be firstly that there is no real evidence for this and secondly that if this was the indicator then it would have been present in all chapters and not just some of them. 

-18th opinon: this opinion is influenced by the classical debate on whether the Qur'an is created or uncreated. The claim is that letters were introduced in order to show that the Qur'an is created, and not uncreated. Sheikh Jawadi Amuli argues here that this argument isn't really consistent, because those who argue that the Qur'an is uncreated would also claim that the disjointed letters are uncreated.

-19th opinion: This view, supported by Allamah Tabatabai, says that the chapters that start with the disjointed letters have similarity in content. Therefore the letters represent a relationship between these suwar, however the nature of this relationship is only known by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and his Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). Sheikh Jawadi Amuli acknowledges that this may indeed be an explanation, but would require more research. While these chapters do have similar content, there are also other chapters that also share some similarity. The similar content would therefore have to be further defined and then re-evaluated between the different chapters to establish a unique connection.

-20th opinion: The opinion is that the meaning is only known by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) and His Prophet ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)), and was not intended to be known by others. The critique of this opinion is that since these letters are part of the Qur'an, the contemplation (tadabbur) of the Qur'an would also include these letters. It would therefore not be the case that these letters are not intended to be understood.

-------------

 

A few thoughts/comments on this video. It was interesting to hear the different opinions and their critique. In general the approach of Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli to tafseer is very enlightening because it considers and evaluates various previous theories and explanations. One might initially find it frustrating that a conclusive and final answer is not given, however I believe this exercise, while not concluding on what the disjointed letters are, gives the student an understanding of how the Qur'an can be approach but also on what basis the different opinions can be critiqued.

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On 4/30/2023 at 5:58 PM, Ibn al-Hussain said:

10. "Allah Didn't Want Me To Marry You!" | The Dictations

Premiering on May 3rd: https://youtu.be/oV3Gb8CLTBg

In this episode of The Dictations we explore the popular culture of Istikhara in our communities. What are the different types of Istikhara mentioned in the Islamic tradition? Which forms of it are authentic and which ones are unreliable?

This video is about the popular practice of Istikhara, particularly it's historical and theological background.

 

The session opens with a historical anecdote from the Qajar era, demonstrating how Istikhara was used for decisions having huge implications. Around 14 minutes into the video, the core topic is addressed.

 

Early narrations show that Istikhara was essentially a supplication to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) seeking a good outcome, as opposed to the practices known today (via rosary beads or the Qur'an). The first point is therefore that Istikhara, as defined in the earlier narrations, differs from Istikhara as understood by the masses today.

 

Istikhara with rosary beads appears to originate from later collections of narrations in the 7th century AH. These narrations are however not found in earlier works.

 

Istikhara through the Qur'an is also based on a small number of narrations which are also documented in 7th century works or later, except one which can be found in Tahdhib al Ahkam of Sh. Tusi but isn't considered a strong narration. Furthermore the content also raises certain questions (was this really an act of Istikhara, or was it something else?)

 

This is further confirmed by scholars such as Sayyid al Khoie who state that while the act of Istikhara itself is well established, the modern forms of Istikhara such as by rosary beads or the Qur'an are not supported by reliable narrations.

 

There are also other later and lesser known forms of Istikhara, but also not well backed by evidence, which are briefly described.

 

In conclusion, while the act of supplicting to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for guidance and for a good outcome is certainly well established, the later variations and understanding of Istikhara are not well supported.

‐‐---------------------------------

 

I would comment that people should be particularly careful not to put off good deeds or acts (such as marriage) due to the modern variations of Istikhara. Rather what Islam teaches is to pray to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for good outcomes, to have good intentions in our acts, and to consult one another and knowledgeable people when in doubt or uncertainty.

 

 

Edited by Abu_Zahra
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28 minutes ago, Abu_Zahra said:

I would comment that people should be particularly careful not to put off good deeds or acts (such as marriage) due to the modern variations of Istikhara. Rather what Islam teaches is to pray to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for good outcomes, to have good intentions in our acts, and to consult one another and knowledgeable people when in doubt or uncertainty.

 

SubhanAllah, thank you for this, and to @Ibn al-Hussain one of the Jewels from the Hawzah Barakallahu feehu.

It just absolutely flabbergasts me how so many people are being conned into what has no basis in Islam, and maybe even a habit that is mocking Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Imagine, flicking pages of the Quran and drawing papers and randomly stopping at a bead, instead of asking Allah to guide your life and illuminate your heart?

How many bad marriages are given the all clear because of what is really monopoly dice rolling, and how many possibly good marriages are not to take place likewise?

I was first alerted to this when i read that Sunnis consider Istikhara as merely a Salah that is prayed and guidance sought. I then thought to myself, that makes sense, what on earth are we doing?

Edited by In Gods Name
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