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Vicious Circles in Human Life

Sat, 07/07/2018 - 21:42

There are many conditions which are abominable and must be avoided, but sometimes they get an independent existence of their own and feed on themselves. Under such conditions, a circle is formed which takes its victims down further into the deeper levels of that condition, day by day. There are so many examples of such vicious circles: ignorance feeds on ignorance, poverty is the cause of poverty, ill health leads to ill health, hatred increases hatred and so on.

A vicious circle is a closed loop. When used in the context of human conditions, it depicts a loop in which cause and effect continuously interchange their positions, resulting in more negative and unfavorable results. The World Bank, for instance, explains the vicious circle of poverty as low productivity leading to low income, which leads to low savings, which leads to low investment, which leads back to low productivity. In this way, the cycle of poverty goes on until broken by a force.

Here, we will mostly talk about the vicious circle of misguidance, though the nature of the basic problem and solution is generally the same for all others as well.

The Holy Qur’an talks of issues of guidance and misguidance among the different communities. We are told that because of some communities’ aversion for guidance, they were led to misguidance and left in their state of inordinacy for further deviation. This is a situation in which man rejects the guidance of Allah and because of this rejection he is left with Accursed Satan as his companion, and the Accursed Satan leads him to further misguidance: “O children of Adam! let not the Shaitan cause you to fall into affliction as he expelled your parents from the garden, pulling off from them both their clothing that he might show them their evil inclinations, he surely sees you, he as well as his host, from whence you cannot see them; surely We have made the Shaitans to be the guardians of those who do not believe.” (Holy Qur’an,7:27)

“Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.” (2:257)

“A part has He guided aright and (as for another) part, error is justly their due, surely they took the Shaitans for guardians beside Allah, and they think that they are followers of the right.” (7:30)

When guidance is rejected, the Accursed Satan becomes the guardian who misleads to more misdeeds and deviation. Because the misled ones remain in illusion that they are on the right path, they do not seek true guidance and thus move further on the path of misguidance.

In sermon 17 in Nahj al-Balagha, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) describes the condition of the people who are ignorant and have shunned true knowledge and do not seek remedy: “Among all the people the most detested before Allah are two persons. One is he who is devoted to his self. So he is deviated from the true path and loves speaking about (foul) innovations and inviting towards wrong path. He is therefore a nuisance for those who are enamored of him, is himself misled from the guidance of those preceding him, misleads those who follow him in his life or after his death, carries the weight of others’ sins and is entangled in his own misdeeds.

“The other man is he who has picked up ignorance. He moves among the ignorant, is senseless in the thick of mischief and is blind to the advantages of peace. Those resembling like men have named him scholar but he is not so. He goes out early morning to collect things whose deficiency is better than plenty, till when he has quenched his thirst from polluted water and acquired meaningless things.

“He is ignorant, wandering astray in ignorance and riding on carriages aimlessly moving in darkness. He did not try to find reality of knowledge. He scatters the traditions as the wind scatters the dry leaves.”

The Way Out from Vicious Circles

The vicious circles can be broken by two kinds of forces: internal and external ones.

The internal factors lie within man himself. Misguidance, or any evil for that matter, is like a blind alley. After a certain level, one either perishes or returns back to the truth. The internal revolution is bound to happen. When one realizes his ailment and seeks medicine for it, the circle is broken. The change will happen only when man takes the initiative himself and seeks redressal for the evils he is suffering from: “…surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition…” (13:11)

In sermon 86, Imam Ali says: “O’ creatures of Allah! the most beloved of Allah is he whom Allah has given power (to act) against his passions, so that his inner side is (submerged in) grief and the outer side is covered with fear. The lamp of guidance is burning in his heart.” This requires a revolution of thoughts, a revolution of conscious, and a revolution of purity.

The external factors include the chain of Prophets (peace be upon them) and Imams (peace be upon them), and the prominent role of scholars. Allah established a system of guidance in addition to the internal one. This system is that of the Prophets and Imams: “He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca an Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error.” (62:2)

“And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger saying: Serve Allah and shun the Shaitan. So there were some of them whom Allah guided and there were others against whom error was due; therefore travel in the land, then see what was the end of the rejecters.” (16:36)

The guides sent by Allah break the circles of evil in a nation afflicted with various evils, and they lead the people on the path of salvation. Keeping this in mind, the role of righteous scholars and leaders becomes very significant too. During the occultation of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance), the leadership of the Ummah is supposed to be in the hands of scholars. At all levels, the righteous scholars work as caring and cautious parents for the community. They monitor the conditions of people carefully and take redressal actions wherever required. They help to break vicious circles.

Source : Islamic Insights

The post Vicious Circles in Human Life appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

Interview with Ahlul Bayt TV

Sat, 07/07/2018 - 14:10

The message of Muhammad (sawws) and his holy progeny (as) lives on, and it is with the help of the countless initiatives of partisans worldwide that the School of Ahlul Bayt (as) continues to thrive. I am joined with Brother Amir Taki, founder and director of Ahlulbayt TV, who will let us in on all the details of the making of this remarkable channel.

Sahar: How did you come up with the idea to create a  dedicated to Ahlul Bayt, and what inspiration/s did you draw from to make this a reality?

Amir: Ahlulbayt TV was established in August 2009 where a team of individuals from different cultures and backgrounds came together, with the like-minded goal of promoting the message of the Ahlulbayt (as) to a western, secular world. We found that within the societies we were living in, there was more than ever a demand for a pioneering source of Islamic media – one which could connect viewers to moral messages that the Ahlulbayt (as) taught us. 

 

With much of the 21st century challenges we face, it was more pressing than ever to offer something of benefit to the community – something which could be accessed by those even without a community. Being able to share Islamic values is critical, but the lack of English language Islamic media had inspired us to launch a channel which could also reach out to non-Muslim viewers. It is now approaching ten years on since inception, and we thank Allah (swt) for allowing this brand to flourish globally in service to the pure Masumeen (as). 

Sahar: What have generally been the challenges to keep Ahlulbayt TV running?

Amir: By the grace of Allah (swt), Ahlulbayt TV has been running for nearly a decade and has continually grown and progressed in its vision, content, and coverage. We are striving to consistently improve, and can only do this with the support of the community.

 

As an organic, people-orientated organisation, we work to represent the people. Ahlulbayt TV does not work under any funding body or enterprise, rather it sustains expenditure through the support of individuals within the community. One challenge in recent years has been financing the growth to meet our ambitions. We would like to provide relevant and gripping content, applicable to and accessible in every corner of the world. In order to do this, we encourage viewers globally to support us with a small charitable monthly donation through our website.

Sahar: What lessons have you derived from your experience as a director and producer?

Amir: Being the Director and Executive Producer of Ahlulbayt TV has allowed me to learn much which I am grateful for. In terms of professional skills, I have gathered a keen eye for captivating and gripping productions, understanding how to create content which looks visually appealing, whilst also discussing relevant matters affecting everyday lifestyle. 

 

Personally, I have built an array of inspiring networks, talented friends and contacts around the world. Beyond all, the greatest lesson I have learned is the one I am most indebted to Allah (swt) for. The opportunity to serve the Ahlulbayt (as) is a blessing that none should take granted for. It is never an easy task for any individual working to represent the Ahlulbayt (as), but with such great responsibility also brings abundant blessings. 

Sahar: In brief, what is your primary objective in the creation and advancement of Ahlulbayt TV?

Amir: Our objective is to create cutting-edge, relevant content which can be utilised and benefitted from by communities around the world. We want to present our school of thought in a manner which is appealing and understandable to those who may not have prior knowledge of the Ahlulbayt. Moreover, we want to touch on matters concerning our daily lives – education, social affairs, taboo discussions, health and wellbeing, politics and even humanitarianism.

Sahar: What inspires you to continue with this enterprise, and what do you think has been the most rewarding?

Amir: There have been many rewarding dynamics through my role in Ahlulbayt TV, far too many to list. Some which come to mind – working with servants of the Ahlulbayt (as) who are also great working professionals, meeting people around the world who have inspiring stories to share, being able to delve into new topics of interest and create productions, are all intriguing and rewarding elements of my daily life.

 

If I had to identify one, the most rewarding would be knowing that there are individuals in remote parts of the world who are gaining some benefit from our work. These are people who may not have any access to Islam or a Muslim community, or those who are facing severe challenges in their personal lives and seek inspiration from work we can provide.

Sahar: Discussing topics that is often brushed under the carpet, is an outstanding feature of your channel. How has the public responded to programs targeting these ‘taboos’?

Amir: As a western based channel who has sought to do sufficient groundwork and research, we are familiar with many of the societal issues and challenges faced by different demographics of our communities. As an example – domestic abuse, does it exist within Muslim communities? Is it a matter which is addressed in Islam? What do professionals have to say about this and how can we as a channel support those going through difficult times? Another example may be gender equality, patriarchy and the rise of western feminism. What does the Quran say about gender equality? Is western feminism compatible or contradictory to Islamic morals? Should there be a discussion amongst community leaders and scholars regarding these matters?

 

It is critical to address matters of controversy, as opposed to avoiding them. We believe that the answers in our faith are there for those who seek them. Of course, our producers must be responsible and well versed on an issue before producing anything on it, and so, such productions usually take months of thought, planning and research before filming and final release.

Sahar: Has Ahlulbayt TV had challenges for the exposure of contentious topics? If so, how are this been dealt with?

Amir: Generally, feedback has been positive for our productions. In a recent survey, 96% of respondents stated they would recommend and share our productions with a friend or colleague from a different religious/cultural background.

 

There are occasionally few who inquire into the purpose of discussing such issues, but we are firm in believing that it is critical to discuss such matters in a responsible, informed and rational manner. If we were to be challenged on such matters, we would address a concern with respect and approachable means of open dialogue, as taught to us by the Ahlulbayt (as).

Sahar: What are some of the valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout your journey with Ahlulbayt TV?

Amir: I have learned that there is much to learn for those who reflect. Ponderance upon matters of theology, philosophy, spirituality and jurisprudence are critical to understand our faith. Beyond this, delving into social dynamics and constructs will allow us to effectively understand the world we live in. Finally, there is much to learn from examples of unique individuals around the world. Each human embarks upon a unique journey and gives us all an opportunity to learn and grow.

Sahar: What is the process of introducing new programs on Ahlulbayt TV? How long does it generally take to negotiate with team members?

Amir: Many of the departments within Ahlulbayt TV are interlinked. When it comes to production, we have a team of documentary and TV show producers. We also have editors, filmographers, graphic designers, technicians and schedulers.

 

Our team of producers sit fortnightly to discuss new production ideas, or productions which are already in progress for updates and review. Documentaries vary on timescale, depending on whether they are large scale or international projects (6-12 months). Locally produced documentaries usually take between 3-6 months. Documentaries or shows are also occasionally sponsored by individuals or co-produced with any group we are working with, for example, a charity organisation we may be filming.

 

Once an idea is formalised, a producer will take on board the project as their own. They will research, find key questions to address, script, coordinate filming with the camera team, work with editors to finalise the first draft, and then present to myself and the other producers for final review. Once the production has the green light, we will schedule for TV release, and work with the digital marketing team for online release. 

Sahar: Since Ahlulbayt TV has a very broad appeal, has it been difficult to accommodate the interests of all viewers? If not, what have you done to ensure a satisfying viewing experience for all your audiences? 

Amir: Accumulating over 15 million online viewers worldwide every year has meant that we have concocted a formula which works to appeal to different demographics. It can be difficult to find the right balance, but having a team of 7-8 producers, each with a different focus and expertise has meant that we can touch on the right topics to address.

 

When engaging in matters of Islamic affairs, we work to produce and script in such a way that this can be digested by any viewer, from any background – presented in a formal and academic manner. This means that there is minimal confusion and terminology or religious themes which are used are always referenced.

 

When producing lifestyle shows, e.g. mental health awareness, cooking, or other shows, it becomes far easier, as these are topics which all can relate to. We always work to produce to the highest standard, within the capabilities of our resources.

Sahar: The programs on your channel range from historical accounts of holy personage within Islam, to providing guides to lead an Islamic life in this modern era. Has it been difficult to establish a link between history and today, and if so, how do you overcome this obstacle?

Amir: Islam itself is a timeless faith, and the core message presented by the Ahlulbayt (as) maintain a theme of contemporary significance. This means that naturally, when discussing historical accounts within an Islamic context, we work to bring relevance to a 21st century secularist society.

 

As we know, Allah (swt) says in Quran 59:21, “And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.”, inferring that we must reflect upon history and bring about its relevance to a present day context. 

Sahar: What advice would you give to this generation’s youth wishing to serve Ahlul Bayt (as) through digital projects like Ahlulbayt TV?

Amir: We must equip ourselves with the knowledge taught to us by the Ahlulbayt (as). As we know, when an atheist asked Rassulallah (saw) what Islam actually means, he responded, “To serve the Creator and be of benefit to the creation – and the best of people are those who are the most beneficial to the creation.” This should be an intention of our youth – to be sincere in our worship to Allah (swt) whilst also being able to serve the wider community.

 

The world we reside in is globalising and advancing technologically. There is a rise in populism and sensationalisation, and is important, now more than ever, to be able to utilise means of digital media for the right purposes.

 

I would humbly advise the youth of the community to be honest in your intentions, be ambitious in achieving and spreading goodness, and finally, to contribute towards the growth of positive media – in any way, shape or form.

The post Interview with Ahlul Bayt TV appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

A Night Greater than One Thousand Months

Sat, 06/02/2018 - 07:51

Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power, is the most blessed night of the entire year. Its significance and glory has been described and discussed in the Holy Qur’an itself, as well as in numerous traditions. Can we imagine its full import and can we comprehend its full glory? The Holy Qur’an asks, “And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is?” (97:2) The night is loftier in importance and weightier in blessings than one thousand months! It’s the night of determination of our destinies, and the night when the Holy Qur’an was revealed. It’s a night of power, of glory, and of blessings.

Some of the salient features of this great night are discussed as follows:

Revelation of Holy Qur’an

The verse from Sura Qadr, “Surely We revealed it on the grand night,” (97:1) and another from Sura Baqara, “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction…” (2:185) together signify to us that the Qur’an was revealed on the Laylatul Qadr. Was the Qur’an revealed all at once on this night? Or it was revealed in gradual time periods extending over 23 years of the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his progeny) prophethood?

The scholars of Qur’anic exegesis tell us that the holy Qur’an was revealed in two ways: it was revealed on this great night upon the Holy Prophet’s sacred heart, and it was also gradually revealed over a period of 23 years during his prophethood.

The month of Ramadan makes the heart of believers pliant and conducive to accept any guidance. Fasting opens our hearts for acceptance of divine guidance, thus this month is like the spring season of the Qur’an. Just as barren land which is not capable of growing any vegetation becomes fertile in spring when life-giving rains fall on it, so is the effect of Ramadan on our hearts. The Night of Power is the epitome of guidance and blessings, as this night carries the significance of being bestowed with Holy Qur’an.

Determination of Destinies

This is the night when destinies are set, as stated in the Qur’an: “Surely We revealed it on a blessed night – surely We are ever warning – Therein every wise affair is made distinct”(44:3-4). There are many traditions which inform us that on this night, our affairs are set for the whole year.

It is worth noting here from the commentary of Aqa Mahdi Puya: “On the Night of Power, the divine wisdom determines the solution of all spiritual pursuits man decides to undertake; therefore the Holy Prophet has advised the believers to pray and seek Allah’s mercy throughout this night…Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said: ‘People wrongly imagine that destiny is abiding and fate is certain. If it were so, the idea of reward and penalty becomes meaningless, promise and threat a hoax. Allah, the most praised, has given man freedom of thought and action.’

The freedom of action is conditioned by the laws made by Allah to govern the universe. No one can break them. Imam Ali said: ‘While standing, if you want to lift one of your legs you can, and you are free to lift the second leg also – but as soon as your second leg leaves the ground you will fall down, because you have broken the law Allah has so precisely put in operation.”

 

Some Other Related Points About this Great Night

Which night is the Night of Power?


There are different views on which night of the month of Ramadan is the Night of Power. There have been supporters for the1st, 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 27th, or 29th night of the month of Ramadan. There are traditions that Holy Prophet would stay busy with prayers and worship especially during the last ten nights, thus there is more emphasis on those nights. Most of the traditions from the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) point out the 23rd night as the Night of Power, while most of the traditions in Ahlus Sunnah consider the 27th night as Laylatul Qadr.

 

Why is Laylatul Qadr hidden?


Scholars say that the philosophy behind hiding the Night is so that we pay importance to all the nights of Ramadan and thereby get the maximum spiritual benefit from them.

 

Is there only one Night of Power in all the regions of the world?


We are aware of the fact that the lunar calendar dates are different in different parts of the world. Taking that into consideration, will there be multiple Nights of Power in regions where the dates are different? The answer to this is that the night and day alternate with the revolution of the earth on its axis. So the Night of Power will start from one point and will continue to move over the regions where night is falling. In this way it would be a whole rotation of one night covering each region of the earth.

In conclusion is the following supplication from Sahifa Sajjadiyya:

 

And praise belongs to God who
showed favour to us through His religion,
singled us out for His creed,
and directed us onto the roads of His beneficence,
in order that through His kindness we might travel upon them
to His good pleasure,
a praise which He will accept from us
and through which He will be pleased with us!

And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month,
the month of Ramadan,
the month of fasting,
the month of submission,
the month of purity,
the month of putting to test,
the month of standing in prayer,
in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people,
and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!

Then He made one of its nights surpass the nights
of a thousand months
and named it the Night of Decree;
in it the angels and the Spirit descend
by the leave of their Lord upon every command,
a peace constant in blessings
until the rising of the dawn
upon whomsoever He will of His servants
according to the decision He has made firm.

O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
inspire us
with knowledge of its excellence,
veneration of its inviolability,
and caution against what Thou hast forbidden within it,
and help us to fast in it
by our restraining our limbs
from acts of disobedience toward Thee
and our employing them
in that which pleases Thee,
so that we lend not our ears to idle talk
and hurry not with our eyes to diversion,
we stretch not our hands toward the forbidden
and stride not with our feet toward the prohibited,
our bellies hold only what Thou hast made lawful
and our tongues speak only what Thou
hast exemplified,
we undertake nothing but what brings close to
Thy reward
and pursue nothing but what protects from
Thy punishment!
Then rid all of that from the false show of the false showers
and the fame seeking of the fame seekers,
lest we associate therein anything with Thee
or seek therein any object of desire but Thee!

source : Islamic Insights

The post A Night Greater than One Thousand Months appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

Night of Power

Sat, 06/02/2018 - 07:48

The blessed month of Ramadan is so abundant in the blessings that it is difficult, or impossible, to enumerate them. Among the many blessings in it is the night of power or glory, layltul Qadr. The night is the most important night of the year. This night’s significance lies in the fact that, besides it being the night of glorious Quran’s revelation, it is the night when, according to traditions from infallibles (as), the destiny of human beings is determined for the whole year. It is the night when all matters for the year are determined. And furthermore, the worship and supplications on this glorious night are greater than that of thousand months. It is the among the most special favors of Allah (swt) that this night of honor and glory is made available to His servants.

The blessed night is meant for supplication, seeking forgiveness for sins, giving charity, and good deeds. There is a tradition from holy Prophet (s) which states: “Moses said: ‘O Allah! I desire your proximity.’ Allah said: ‘My proximity is for the one who keeps awake on ‘the night of Qadr.’ He said: ‘O Allah! I wish for your mercy.’ Allah said: ‘My mercy is for the one who shows mercy to the poor on `the night of Qadr.’ He said: ‘O Allah! I want to cross the sirāt [the (right) path]’. He said: ‘That is for the one who gives out a sadaqah (charity) on ‘the night of Qadr.’ He said: ‘O Allah.’ I want of the trees and fruits of Paradise.’ Allah said: ‘They are for the one who glorifies (Me) on ‘the night of Qadr.’ He said: ‘I want to be delivered.’ Allah said: ‘From the Fire?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. Allah said: ‘It is for the one who asks forgiveness on ‘the night of Qadr.’ He said: ‘O Allah! I ask for your pleasure.’ Allah said: ‘I would be pleased with the one who performs two rak’ahs (bow) of salāt (prayer) on ‘the night of Qadr.’” [1]

In another tradition from holy Prophet (s), good tidings of great rewards for those who worship Allah on this blessed night are addressed: “On the night of power, the gates of heaven are opened. There is no servant who offers prayer in this night, but Allah (swt) for every prostration stores a tree in the Paradise–the tree whose branches and shade is so vast that if a rider travels for one hundred years through its shade, he would not be able to cross it; for every ra’kat (bow) would build a home for him in paradise–the home decorated and built by pearls, topaz, and rubies; for every verse recited, a crown from the crowns of paradise; for every praise (tasbeeh), a bird from the birds of paradise; for every sitting, a rank from the ranks of paradise. For every witnessing (tashahud), a chamber from the chambers of paradise, and for every salutation, a robe from the robes of paradise would be bestowed upon him by Allah. And at the breaking of the dawn, companions, youthful and sympathetic, houris of paradise–pure and decorated, obedient and well uniformed, horses–most obedient and swift, flowers, greenery, and good smells, running elegant fountain streams, and many other bounties which make the soul pleased and eyes to shine, would also be bestowed upon him by Allah.” [2]

This is the night when prayers are answered but with some conditions:
“It has been narrated that during this night the prayers of all are accepted, and the prayer of no one remains unanswered except the following:
The one who has displeased and angered his parent and was declared disinherited or rebellious by them.
The one who has cut off his relationship with his kith and kin.
The one who possesses animosity and vengeance of a believer in his heart.
The one who consumes alcoholic drinks.” [3]

This great night should be spent in awakened state, an awakening not of just eyes but of soul and heart as well. An awakening that makes us realize that we are guests of Allah in this month and this night is specially marked for gaining nearness to Allah and obtaining His mercy and favors. Blessed are those who obtain the purpose of this night and indeed wretched are the ones who are unmindful and unaware of its glory. When the divine mercy and forgiveness is raining upon us, let us make the most out of it. Let us strive the hardest we can. Let us beseech the meekest we should. Let us supplicate the most sincerely so that the divine mercy is invoked upon us and our sins are forgiven. Imam Baqir (as) has been quoted as saying: “Whoever remains in ‘the night of qadr’ awake, his sins will be forgiven, even if as many as the stars of the sky, and as heavy as the mountains or the weight of the seas.” [4]

May Allah the most Merciful and Beneficent Lord give us success in obtaining the purpose of this blessed month and the great night of power and let us attain nearness with Him.

[1] As quoted in “Adab as-Salat: The Disciplines of the Prayer “ by Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah al-Musawi al-Khomeini
[2] As quoted in “Spiritual Journey of the Mystics” (Suluk al-Arifan) by Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi
[3] As quoted in “Spiritual Journey of the Mystics” (Suluk al-Arifan) by Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi
[4] Bihār al-Anwār, Volume 98 , as quoted in “Adab as-Salat: The Disciplines of the Prayer” by Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah al-Musawi al-Khomeini

source : Islamic Insights

The post Night of Power appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

Ramadan: A Social Equalizer

Sat, 06/02/2018 - 07:45

The world is full of miseries and pains. One of the greatest pains is the feeling of hunger. There are millions on the global level who suffer starvation and who do not have access to required quantity of food to lead a normal and healthy life. According to World Food Programme (WFP), there are 795 million undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five, 3.1 million children each year. One out of six children–roughly 100 million–in developing countries are underweight. [1]

Constant hunger, undernourishment, and malnutrition leads to poor prospects in life:

“Nutrition has profound effects on health throughout the human life course and is inextricably linked with cognitive and social development, especially in early childhood. In settings with insufficient material and social resources, children are not able to achieve their full growth and developmental potential. Consequences range broadly from raised rates of death from infectious diseases and decreased learning capacity in childhood to increased non-communicable diseases in adulthood….Stunted, underweight, and wasted children have an increased risk of death from diarrhea, pneumonia, measles, and other infectious diseases.” [2]

The blessed month of Ramadan has endless blessings in it. One of the blessings of this holy month is compassion towards the other fellow humans. Our emotions and feelings of sympathy are directly related to our actual experiences. We cannot feel the gnawing, agony and suffering of a sick person until we ourselves have undergone the same ailment. When we ourselves suffer a pain of sickness, we better understand and feel empathy of the other suffering ones. The rich or well fed cannot know what hunger is because they usually do not have to face it. Thus, poor people suffer with their poverty and compulsions of life but the others who are better off cannot even understand the physical and psychological pangs of the poor. The great month of Ramadan bridges these gaps which divide haves and have nots and makes the rich experience the pains of hunger. In one way, Ramadan works as equalizer and makes the rich have empathy with the poor.

A hadith narrated from Imam Sadiq (a) throws light on the role of the month of Ramadan in creating social equality:

“Allah has enjoined fasting in order to settle equivalence between the rich and the poor, and this is for the sake that the rich feel the taste of hunger and, consequently, be merciful toward the poor (by giving them their rights). And, since the things are usually available for the rich, then Allah, the Exalted, is pleased when equivalence is erected between His servants. So, He, thereby, has ordained that the rich feel the taste of hunger and pain so that they feel sympathy for the weak and be merciful toward the hungry.” [3]

A man wrote a letter to Imam Askari (a) asking him: “For what reason did Allah make fasting compulsory?”
The Imam (a) wrote in reply: “God has made fasting compulsory so that the rich shall find the pain of hunger so they have a mercy upon the poor.” [4]

Amongst many others, Ramadan is a month of charity. It is the month of sharing our blessings with other human beings. In this month we supplicate to Allah (swt) to bestow His mercy upon us, so let’s not forget to show mercy to those servants of Allah (swt) who do not have sufficient resources to meet essential needs of their life. When we want to evoke the divine blessings and mercy in our lives, then we should also spend on the poor and needy ones. The holy Prophet (s) asks believers to give alms to the poor and indigent in this blessed month:

“Let your hunger and thirst during it remind you of the hunger and the thirst of the Day of Judgement. Give alms to the poor and indigent among you, respect your elderly and be kind to your youngsters, and strengthen blood-kinship of yours.” [5]

We can conclude with Imam Sajjad’s (a) supplication to Allah for the month of Ramadan: “Give us success in this month to tighten our bonds of kin with devotion and gifts, attend to our neighbors with bestowal and giving, rid our possessions from claims, purify them through paying the alm …” [6]

1. World Food Programme, https://www.wfp.org
2. “Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries” The Lancet.
3. Wasa’il-ush-Shi’ah, Volume 7, fasting section. As quoted in “An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Qur’an,” Volume 2, commentary on verses 183-185
4. Bihar  al-Anwar Volume 96, as quoted in “Fasting and the Holy month of  Ramadhan” by Sheikh Mansour Leghaei
5. As quoted in “An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Qur’an,” Volume 2, commentary on verses 183-185
6.  As-Sahifatus Sajjadia, Supplication 44, His Supplication for the Coming of  the Month of Ramadan

Source : Islamic Insights

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Ramadan: The Spring of Souls is Here

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:40

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).” Holy Qu’ran, 2:183

The blessed month of mercy and forgiveness is once again back in our life. The purpose of this great month and fasting which is prescribed in it is to make us guard against evil and thus, receive guidance from Allah. This glorious month is the period when our beloved and holy Qu’ran was revealed. The physical and mental exhaustion of fasting softens our hearts and souls, making them capable to receive guidance. As the different climatic seasons have different effects on the fertility of the soil, so is the case of our souls with respect to spiritual seasons. We see that soil becomes most fertile and most productive in the spring season. The water which falls from the sky revives the earth and makes it fertile, ready to receive seeds for growth. Likewise, our soul shows different moods in different periods of a year. Sometimes, our souls and hearts can feel hard, no word of guidance, however wise, can affect us in this rock-like state. Sometimes, we perceive a little softness and we respond to guidance, depending on the state of our souls. But, gratefully, the holy month of Ramadan is the spring time of our souls, we have the opportunity to incline more towards our Creator and have the capability to respond best to guidance. The holy month of Ramadan creates an environment of spirituality in which even the most deviated ones return to remembrance of Allah and their hearts become pliant to listening to the words of guidance.

One of the most well known exegetists of the holy Quran, Allamah Tabatabai elucidates the spiritual merits of fasting and explains how fasting results in piety and nearness to Allah (swt):

“There is no doubt that one may achieve piety through fasting. Everyone naturally feels that for union with the sublime world of holiness and for rising to the height of perfection and spirituality man should first of all restrain himself from gratifying material desires. He should keep away from satisfying the body’s lust and inclinations, and purge his soul from the love of worldly affairs. In short, he should guard himself against all such things, which may carry him away from his Lord. This is piety (taqwa) which is achieved through abstinence from lust and desires. Even more beneficial and more effective for the common man is the abstinence from common lawful desires like food, drink, and sex. This trains him to keep away from unlawful things; and creates in him the will to guard himself against sin and evil, and to come nearer to Allah. Obviously, when he accepts the words of Allah by abstaining from lawful desires, and heeds to and obeys His commandment; he will be more needful and obedient to His words in connection with sins and unlawful things.” [1]

It is mentioned in many narrations that out of all our worship, fasting is done solely for Allah. There can be a chance to show off in other acts of worship but in fasting, one must abstain from lust and material desires. Allamah Tabatabai explains this point in detail:

“Because it is the only act of worship which consists of a negative aspect only, for example, not eating, not drinking, etc., while all other acts of worship, like prayer and pilgrimage etc., consist of positive actions or are made up of positive and negative aspects. The positive actions cannot be absolutely pure in showing the worshipper’s spirit of servitude or the Lordship of Almighty Allah. It cannot be free of materialistic imperfections and limitations, and sometimes it may be done to please someone other than Allah (as in the case of hypocrisy and showiness).

But the fast is an act of worship in which one has just to abstain from lust and desire and restrain oneself from worldly matters. This negative aspect is a thing which nobody can know except Allah. It is a dealing entirely between the servant and his Lord, and therefore this worship is purely for Allah; others can have no share in it.” [2]

This great month is one of the most virtuous roads to Allah. May the weary traveler who treads on this road, find peace and tranquility and is drawn near to his Creator. May this be the season that revives his soul and reconnects him with his Creator.

“And praise belongs to God who
showed favor to us through His religion,
singled us out for His creed,
and directed us onto the roads of His beneficence,
in order that through His kindness we might travel upon them
to His good pleasure,
a praise which He will accept from us
and through which He will be pleased with us!

And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month,
the month of Ramadan,
the month of fasting,
the month of submission,
the month of purity,
the month of putting to test,
the month of standing in prayer,
in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people,
and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!” [3]

1.     Tafsir al Mizan, Commentary on the Verses 183-185 of Surah al-Baqarah
2.      ibid
3.    As Sahifatus Sajjadia, Supplication – 44 , Supplication for the Coming of the Month of Ramadan

Source : Islamic Insights

 

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The Ways of Servitude: Ramadan Kareem Guide – 2018

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:29

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

All praises are meant for Allah the Lord of Worlds, We are fortunate to have Ramadan the blessed month of mercy and forgiveness back in our lives once again. This month excels all other months regarding sublimity and nobility. It’s sublime because it is the month of Allah, and it’s noble because it revives our souls as rainwater revives the parched and barren earth. Our souls, due to excess of sins and negligence of Allah’s remembrance, become unresponsive to the remembrance of Allah and words of guidance. Ramadan, the august month of mercy and forgiveness, brings back life in our souls with fasting, prayers, reading of holy Quran, abstinence from sins, and increased remembrance of Allah.

As each moment of this glorious month is vitally important, we should make all our efforts to receive maximum benefit from this blessed month. Here we present a guide on the month of Ramadan. This guide helps us in performing important acts of worship during this noble month and also provides links to relevant, useful knowledge on the month of Ramadan from different aspects.

Before presenting recommended daily duas and special acts of worship in the blessed month we’ll share some books and articles links on the concept, philosophy, necessity of fasting, and the Islamic laws which govern the practices of fasting.

Important Reading Sources on the Blessed Month of Ramadan and Fasting:

The Right of Fasting chapter in the book entitled A Divine Perspective on Rights discusses the Imam Ali ibn Husain(AS)’s discourse on fasting. The books give a very excellent explanation of the Imam(AS)’s advice on the fasting. It’s short must read for anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of the fasting.

Laws and Practices: What is the Fast of the Month of Ramadan is a brief text on the significance of fasting in the month of Ramadan.

Although all acts of worship that are done out of sincerity attract God’s mercy, fasting holds a special place in attaining it. Fasting not only is practiced by Muslims, but the worshippers of previous religions also practiced it. The doors of mercy are opened during the month of fasting, or the Month of Ramadan. To know more on how does fasting brings God’s mercy, read God’s Mercy through Fasting

In The Merits of Fasting and the Month of Ramadan the author, Mohammad Ali Shomali, fasting, elaborates on the concept of divine banquet and refers to some of the bounties of Allah SWT in the month of Ramadan and for those who fast.

Understanding the practical laws for fasting according to our followed Marjah is very important. The following is a chapter on Fasting (Part I of II) according to the Risalah of Ayatullah Ali al-Husayni Al-Sistani. It’s important for us to read the laws regarding the fasting so that our fasting is free from the defects of sins and ignorance.

If you want to know what different schools of thoughts in Muslims fasting, read Fasting according to the Five Schools of Islamic Law by Allamah Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah

Ramadan: The Spring of Souls is Here The short discusses that how the blessed month revives our souls.

Ramadan: A Social Equalizer presents empathy we should have towards other human beings. The holy month of Ramadan has countless blessings in it. One of the blessings of this holy month is compassion towards the other fellow humans. Our emotions and feelings of sympathy are directly related to our actual experiences. We cannot feel the gnawing, agony, and suffering of a sick person until we have undergone the same ailment. When we suffer a pain of sickness, we better understand and feel empathy of the other suffering ones.

This one is especially for kids and young people for enhancing their knowledge on the month of Ramadan. So share Understanding the Month of Glory Lessons on the Month of Ramadhan with children and youth in your family and friends.

Duas and Recommended Acts of Worship in the Month of Ramadan:

The Supplications for the Month of Ramadhan is a useful resource for accessing the Arabic text, English translations, and audio recordings of supplications recited in Ramadhan, including Du’a Iftitah, the A’amal of Laylatul Qadr, and sermon of the Prophet (s) welcoming the month of Ramadhan (Ramadan).

Du’a on sighting the new moon of Ramadhan

Du’as for the nights of Ramadhan

Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power

Supplications for the last ten Nights of the holy month

Du’as for each day of Ramadhan

Du’a for Sahar (Dawn)

Reflections on the Supplication of Abi Hamzah al-Thumali

Dua’a Abu Hamza Thumali

Other Duas for Sahar

Other Important Duas:

Dua’a Jawshan Al Kabir

Dua’a Jaushan E Sagheer

Dua’a E Mujeer

Dua’a Kumayl

Imam Ali ibn Husain(AS)’s Supplication for the Coming of the Month of Ramadan

Imam Ali ibn Husain(AS)’s Supplication on Noble Moral Traits (Makarimul Akhlaq) Acts Pleasing to God

If you need to access a great source of Islamic spirituality, a source of peace and tranquility, a source for content heart, a source for nearness with Our Creator Lord, read supplications from Al-Sahifa Al-Kamilah Al-Sajjadiya , a collection of spirituality and peace emanating supplications from Imam Ali ibn Husain, Imam Sajjad(AS)

May Allah the Lord of mercy and grace accept our acts of worship and supplications performed in this blessed month and inspire us with goodness, and keep us away from evil, and fortify our faith, and make our feet steadfast on His path, and bestow on us the success of Here and Hereafter!

We request you to remember Ahul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project Team in your prayers in the solitary moments of the dark night when you stand to pray to Your Lord!

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Interview with Mahdi Tabatabaie: Creator & Artist of SalamComics 


Wed, 04/25/2018 - 07:56

SalamComics is a successful and continuous project of creative designers collaborating to combine contemporary art and architecture with traditional Islamic values. Through the production of an array of Islamic artworks and posters, SalamComics has left many people enthralled. Founder and CEO Mahdi Tabatabaie Yazdi shares with us some of the challenges, rewards and behind-the-scenes into this unique initiative. 

Sahar: I have realised that the work on SalamComics aims to depict Islamic values in a modern way, whilst still adhering to Islamic tradition. How do you make the balance between modernity and tradition?

Mahdi: I don’t think there is any contradiction between everything that is modern with our Islamic values, but the point is that we cannot deny that we have sharia with some red lines and I think that some of us cross these lines while others become too conservative. The best way is that stay in the middle, and this is what true Islam ordains us to do, as the Quran says: 

 

وَ کَذلِکَ جَعَلْناکُمْ اُمَّهً وَسَطاً  

‘Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced’ [2:143]

Sahar: What inspired you to start this enterprise?

Mahdi: We were looking for new methods of educational materials for our Muslim community. We see that we are in a world full of images, entertainment and fun and many Muslims are attracted to this (creative) industry. Although Islamic products are growing, we still need more and more graphic products for our community.  One of our posters audience told us that she has seen lots of illustrations and graphics for children but was surprised to see how these posters can work for teenagers and Muslim youth, since there is a lack of this kind of content in the market.

 

Another reason that inspired us to commence this work is the fact that we are bombarded by the news about extremists who call themselves Muslim and a lot of misunderstanding and Islamophobic views are growing all over the world. Even in these tough situations, art can be a language that brings smile and enjoyment on people’s faces. So, in our journey we also had many non-Muslims attracted to our work.   

Sahar: What has been the biggest challenge for you and your team?

Mahdi: Our biggest challenge is the fact that working with the Quran places a very high responsibility on us to to be close to the Quran and Islam, as the Quran says:  

 

لا يَمَسُّهُ إِلاَّ الْمُطَهَّرُونَ

‘None shall touch it save the purified ones.’ [56:79]

 

We should be very careful about purifying our deeds when we are working with the Quran. If we stray from Quranic values Allah take the towfiq (success) away from us.

Sahar: The intricacy in the illustrations of SalamComics is remarkable. How long does it take to formulate new ideas and bring them to life through drawing? 

Mahdi: It takes us between one week to one month. The ideas come suddenly, but there is a lot of research done before it.

Sahar: Can you share some “behind-the-scenes” sketches?

Mahdi: I have attached some of them.

Sahar: What is your process for creating these posters?

Mahdi: Firstly, we have a basic concept. We then do lots of research in Quran and tafsir and do some sketches, but after that is the hardest part: illustrating and finalizing the poster.

Sahar: Has it been difficult to constantly produce new, creative and modern work? If so, how do you tackle this problem? 

Mahdi: Not really, because we only created seven posters using this new method, so we have lots of concepts to work with. For example, our next poster will involve gathering all the verses of Quran about modesty and hijab.

Sahar: Which direction do you see SalamComics heading in the near future?

Mahdi: Well, we are doing a crowdfunding campaign for our Quran educational posters and we are going to create twelve posters in this style for the next twelve months. At the same time, our team accepts orders for children book illustrations. Another project that we are doing research for is a concept of a comic book with Muslim characters with lots of entertainment and, at the same time, presenting islamic values.

Sahar: What do you think is SalamComics’ biggest accomplishment thus far?

Mahdi: Our biggest accomplishment would be the creation of lots of Islamic education concepts, books and comics to inspire other artists to produce artistic Islamic content. 

Sahar:  What has been the feedback from the Muslim community and people of other faiths?

Mahdi: Most of them were positive. Our hajj poster was the most popular poster. In terms of non-Muslims, we recently had done an interview with a Christian artist, and I’m sure the article will be interesting for you. This is the link:

 

https://ismailimail.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/salamcomics-teaching-truth-through-art-andrew-kosorok/

Sahar: The drawings in the ‘Quran poster’ category are architectural. What is the aim of this?

Mahdi: To be honest, I have a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and this had influenced me. But, at the same time, I was looking for a new method.

Sahar: What motivates you to persevere in this initiative?

Mahdi:  I think I should continue this method because of the positive feedback I’ve gotten. I’m still running my crowdfunding campaign and we have gained about 77 percent of the funds, so they pre ordered twelve posters for the next twelve months. This is the link for our crowdfunding campaign – we still need 23% of our funds for a successful kickstart:

 

www.launchgood.com/quranposters

   

Be sure to check out the official website of SalamComics at www.salamcomics.com

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 appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

Why Lady Zainab (as) is an exemplar for both men and women – Dr Ammar Nakshwani

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 14:43

The following summary of this lecture is regarding the important lessons we can learn and apply from the exemplary life of Lady Zainab (as).

  • Bibi Zainab is an exemplar for both men and women.
  • Sadly we have kept Imam Ali and Bibi Zainab in our mosque and have not introduced these figures to non muslims. There are many in the world today who are looking for people who could show them patience in the face of adversity.
  • Zainab was born 5th year after hijra. Allah gave her the name Zainab meaning the adornment of her father.
  • She was 6 years old when her mother died. What lessons did she learn from Fatima?
    • Be political. Zainab had participated in the event of mubahila at age 4. She saw her mother leave the house to represent the religion.
    • She saw her mother give the most eloquent speeches. Zainab was around 6 years old when Bibi Fatima gave that speech. She saw her mother, while injured, stand in front of the men of medina. When Zainab stood in front of the people of Shaam, she was had seen her mother do the same.  When you see oppression occur, speak.
  • Spirituality. How was Bibi Zainab able to do salatul layl after everything that happened in Karbala, Kufa, and Shaam? It was Bibi Fatima’s influence. She wanted Zainab to see how she balanced politics, spirituality, and her social responsibility.
  • She saw her mother doing salat ul layl and duas. Bibi Zainab used to see her mother pray for her neighbors and community before her own family.
  • Imam Sadiq says the right of your daughter is that you engage in dialogue with them.
  • Bibi Zainab was 6 years old when her mother passed away.
  • Many people would have turned away from the community that killed their mom but Zainab held classes in her house and taught them. Tafseer on Monday, tajweed (recitation) on Tuesday, aqaid (beliefs) on Wednesday, laws of islam on Thursday….
  • When Imam Ali moved to Kufa, Abdullah Bin Jafar and Zainab moved with him and used to live next to Masjid Kufa. Imam Ali would teach in the mosque, Zainab would teach in her house.
  • In the school of ahlulbayt, a person is great by their own merit, not because of relationship or association.
  • Imam Zain ul Abideen says my auntie, you are learned without being taught by anyone and you have understanding without anyone training you.
  • Ibn Hajr (famous scholar) says about Zainab before Karbala: You are the one who has depth of understanding but with a dignity nobody can match.
  • Zainab was Hussain’s rock at karbala. Were it not for Zainab, we would not have had Islam as we have it today.
  • Ibn Ziyad asks Zainab, what do you think of what your god did to your brother at Karbala? She said I saw nothing but beauty on the 10th of muharram. What did she mean by that? Firstly, the dignity of my brother was so beautiful. You put arrows all over his body and he still offered you water. You people killed his children, and he still spoke with ikhlaq the whole way. You killed his brother in front of him and still he said I am saddened by the way you people are am i not the gradnon of the prophet.  I saw the most wonderful performance of bani adam. Secondly, If you beat me physically here, you may have won physically but spiritually there will be a time that people will yearn to be next to imam hussain in karbala and you will be forgotten. Thirdly, there is a day of judgement, ibn Ziyad. I can’t wait until my lord judges you. That is the day you will see who has been victorious this day.
  • Some of us will face injustice in this world, will be hurt but Zainab teaches all of us that none of you saw what I saw in Karbala, look at the cup half full, not empty. Look at what allah has blessed you with, then all you’ll say is “I saw nothing but beauty”
  • When Ayatullah Seebaway was asked to say one line of museeba of karbala. All he said was, Zainab walked in the court of Ziyad. Just think about that I don’t need to say anything else.
  • From Kufa to Shaam, every stop they went, they were pelted with stones. Did she ever say I hate this religion? No. She said I will make sure my mother is proud of me. I will make her proud on the day of judgment.
  • Imam Zainul abideen says in Shaam I saw people poking their spears into the waste of my auntie Zainab. They poured boiling water on us.
  • Sayed Ammar Nakshwani states part of the speech of Bibi Zainab.
  • They went back to Karbala. Zainab made sure the head were put back with the bodies.
  • Then she returned to Medina. She started the majlis of Imam Hussain (a.s). The majalis today are because of Bibi Zainab. Yazid ordered that she was being too loud and told her to leave Medina. Some say she went to Egypt other say she went to where she is buried today in Syria.

 

Watch the complete lecture here

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Pulling Through in this World – Life through Trials by Haj Hassanain Rajabali

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 15:56

Life. Often described as an admixture of good and bad times.

At some point in our lives, we have inquired that if God is all Good, why all these ordeals and constant pain? And is life inherently meaningful?

In this lecture, Haj Hassanain Rajabali guides the listener on the reason for worldly problems, and how they’re a means to fulfill our purpose.

The following lessons can be derived from this eloquent speech:

  • God tests us because He deems us worthy of being tested
  • It is pivotal for us to know about the life of the Prophet (s) so we can learn how to be proximal to God to overcome life’s obstacles and understand the purpose and nature of life
  • Fragments or ‘snippets’ of truth are often synthesized incorrectly to form one axiom to ‘get the real picture’. Oftentimes, incorrect amalgamation produces a different viewpoint or a deceptive picture. This then leads to a flawed understanding of suffering, which is essentially why so many people don’t know how to react rationally to whatever happens to them. As the Hajj says: ‘We may know the pieces of the truth, but putting the truth together is where the real trick lies. And this is where hikma (wisdom) comes in.’
  • Even with belief in the Hereafter, or a lack thereof, man finds himself in a moral dilemma (a mercy, however, to the believer): Why must I do good to others? The atheist will conclude that goodness is always requited, in other words, ‘I do good to them so they will (in return) do good to me’, which incentivizes them to conduct their lives morally and deflect self-destruction. This is a manifestation of the mercy of Allah (swt), that He has endowed the human with an inherent drive to do good, in order that they may prosper and succeed in their lives. ‘The fixture here is: promote good, be the beneficiary; promote evil, die and be destroyed.’
  • The Prophet (s) is venerated for his impeccable morality, that Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers alike laud him for his conduct. For this reason, we must turn to him for guidance in proper moral conduct, for he is our moral pathway and vessel of salvation.
  • The problems that we face today are self-created, all because we rebuff the lessons and experiences of the vicegerents of Allah (swt) and refuse to walk in their paths and learn from their wisdom, instead turning to evil practices
  • At this day and age, it is paramount that we become representatives of the religion through our moral conduct, to make the world a better place and eliminate major world problems
  • Talk to God, the Grand Creator. Make it a habit to read Quran – ‘it stuns the enemy, it elevates the friend’. Go to your Lord purified, in every sense of the word – in presentation, blood, conduct, soul and mind.
  • ‘Look, I’m not here to make you Muslim, I’m here to wake you up. You choose your own way. You’re smart enough. You’re sharp enough. You KNOW. You’ve been planted with some of the greatest gifts you can ever imagine. And I’m here to strike them. You strike me, too. Let’s wake each other up. There’s a purpose in this life.’
  • ‘Basic observation will lead us to so much understanding.’

Verses mentioned in this lecture:

  • [8:45] “O you who believe! When you meet a party, then be firm and remember Allah much, that you make be successful.”
  • [14:7] “And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.”
  • [33:45] “O Prophet! surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner.”
  • [30:30]Then set your face upright for religion in the right state– the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation; that is the right religion, but most people do not know.”
  • [3:134] “Those who spend (benevolently) in ease as well as in straitness, and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others).”
  • [68:4] “And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.”
  • [33:21] “Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.”
  • [17:1] “Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”
  • [53:3-4]Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.”
  • [62:2] “He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error.”
  • [87:16-17] Nay! you prefer the life of this world, While the hereafter is better and more lasting.
  • [49:12] O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.
  • [54:22] “And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?
  • [17:82] “And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, and it adds only to the perdition of the unjust.”
  • [3:160] “If Allah assists you, then there is none that can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there then that can assist you after Him? And on Allah should the believers rely.”
  • [20:114] “Supremely exalted is therefore Allah, the King, the Truth, and do not make haste with the Quran before its revelation is made complete to you and say: O my Lord! increase me in knowledge.
  • [18:10] “When the youths sought refuge in the cave, they said: Our Lord! grant us mercy from Thee, and provide for us a right course in our affair.
  • [18:46] “Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of this world; and the ever-abiding, the good works, are better with your Lord in reward and better in expectation.”
  • [9:33]He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse.”
  • [8:30] “And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners.”

Hadiths (paraphrased and taken from orator, Haj Hassanain):

  • “The strongest among you is the one who can hold back his anger.” ~ Prophet Muhammad (s)
  • “How much has Allah forbidden us, compared to what He has allowed us?” ~ Imam Ali (as)
  • “I am preparing to talk to the Owner of the Universe. Should I not be pale?” ~ Imam al Sajjad (as) during ablution
  • “Salman is from us Ahlul Bayt.” ~ Prophet Muhammad (s)

 

Click here to view the video of the lecture 

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The Goal of Life

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 11:09

The goal or target is a very important factor for any action or achieving anything worthy. The goal determines the effort involved in reaching any results. If we don’t have properly set goals, our actions can be directionless, and our energies can be wasted. We would be like a vessel which does not know its destination and is swept in different directions by surging waves. Or we would be like the traveler who is not sure about his destination, and so every thing apparently looking plausible or ostentatious attracts him and leads him further away from the real destination he should aim to. So without properly set goals and proper recognition of our destination, we would be wandering aimlessly, sometimes enchanted by false promises of socialism or sometimes deceived by false glamor of capitalism.

Every conscious and awakened mind ponders over the question of the goal of life. The goal of life for us is related with the goal of creation of this world. The Holy Qu’ran often emphasis over the purpose of creation of this universe:

“And We did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them for sport.” (21:16)

“What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us?” (23:115)

These verses lay stress over the point that the creation of this life is not without an aim. So if this world was not created purposelessly, then what is the aim of life? The Holy Qur’an answers this question:

“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.” (51:56)

We will come to this point later after discussing some related aspects. We will first discuss briefly the aim of prophetic missions, and man’s inherit nature with capabilities and potentials which is conducive to this goal.

We observe that every created being has some inherited or innate capabilities. It starts with a primary stage and ends at the excellence for which it was created. A seed when sown and properly taken care of results in a full grown tree. The achievement of this perfection for any being – of which man is not an exception – is possible only in a conducive environment which helps in attaining and realizing this perfection. The realization of natural talents and potentialities for man is not possible without knowledge and purification of soul.

As the Holy Qur’an says, “Even as We have sent among you a Messenger from among you who recites to you Our communications and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you that which you did not know.” (2:151)

Ayatollah Murtadha Mutahhari writes(in his book Goal Of Life): “Naturally, the mission of the prophets, too, is believed unanimously to facilitate man’s perfection and to aid him to remove the deficiencies which neither he, as an individual, nor his society is able to remove. It is only with the aid of Divine revelations that he can advance towards enhancing perfection. Accordingly, every individual must see what he can be after identifying his potentialities, so as to bring them to fruition.”

The knowledge works as a guide in this voyage of seeking the goal of life, and purification of soul stands guard against satanic temptations. When both of these factors are present, the purpose of creation becomes clearer:

“Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire.’” (3:191)

This realization of the purpose leads to recognition of the Great Creator, of His high status. Thus, the purpose of knowledge and purification is to know Allah, and after knowing Him, to worship and serve Him. Hence, knowledge or spirituality is only a means to reach Allah. He is the goal, and He is the destination. To conclude the discussion, we quote Ayatollah Mutahhari again:

“Thus the goal and ideal that Islam offers is God, and everything else is preparatory to it, and not of an independent and fundamental importance. In the verses where the Qur’an mentions perfect human beings, or speaks on their behalf, it says they have truly understood the goal of life and endeavored to attain it. It says for Ibrahim (‘I have devoted my worship to Him who has created heaven and earth, and I am not a pagan.’ (6:80) This Sura  also says: ‘My prayer, worship, life and death are for God, who is the Lord of the Universe.’ (6:163)

“This monotheism of the Qur’an is not merely an intellectual one, thinking that the origin of universe is one thing and its Creator is another. It includes the faith and conviction of man that there is only one Creator, and his goal, which is the only worthy one, is He alone. All other goals are the product of this one and subsidiary to it.

“Thus, in Islam everything revolves round the axis of God, including the goal in the mission of prophets and individuals’ goal of life. Islam accepts worldly happiness within the practical constraints of monotheism – that is, to be wholly devoted to God. According to the Qur’an, man gains his happiness only from God, and it is He who fills all the gaps in his life and satisfies him. The Qur’an says: ‘Those who have faith and their hearts are tranquil in thinking of God know that all hearts find peace by remembering God.’ (13:28) Only God brings repose to the anxious and inquisitive hearts of man. Other things are subsidiary and preliminary matters, not the final stage. The same is said of worship: ‘To remember God, pray.’ (20:14) Also, the following verse says: ‘Prayer checks wickedness and denial, and remembering God is the most important.” (29:45) Islam thinks of man as created to worship God, to seek proximity to Him, and to know Him, all of which give him power. But knowledge and power are not the ultimate goal, nor is self-purification.”

The ultimate goal is He.

Source: Islamic Insights

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Relevance of Lady Fatima(S)’s Role for Today’s Women

Sun, 01/28/2018 - 13:46

When we go into a mode of deep thought and try to portray a picture of our esteemed Bibi Fatima a.s., the most prominent picture that comes to mind is of love. Fatima a.s. is love – a love of the purest kind. Love for her beloved mother – Ummul Momineen, Bibi Khadija a.s; love for her father – Rahmat ul lil Alameen, Prophet Mohammad s.a.s.; love for her husband – Ameer ul Momineen Ali ibne ibi Talib a.s; love for her daughters – Bibi Zainab a.s. and Bibi Umme Kulsoom a.s.; and love for her sons – Imam Hasan a.s. and Imam Husain a.s., masters of the youth of paradise; love for her maid – Bibi Fizza a.s., the Ethiopian princess.

Islam became a complete religion because of Fatima a.s. She is the unparalleled exemplary link between Nabuwat (Prophethood) and Imamat (leadership of our 12 Imams). The daughter of Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. married Ali ibne Abi Talib a.s. Imamat, was entrusted to Imam Ali a.s. by the command of Allah s.w.t., passed on to the children of Bibi Fatima a.s. Imamat remained in the progeny of Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. through our esteemed Bibi Fatima a.s. and her patrilineal offsprings who received it from generation to generation until our 12th Imam a.s. All our Imams, except Imam Ali a.s., inherited Imamat for being the children of Bibi Fatima a.s. bearing the genealogy of Prophet Mohammad s.a.s (see Peshawar Nights for more details). Bibi Fatima a.s. therefore encompasses Nabuwat and Imamat and completes the circle of love which no male child of our Holy Prophet a.s. would have been able to accomplish. This is the unique characteristic of a girl child as revealed to us by our Creator, Allah s.w.t.

She was a fruit of love from Jannat, given to Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. for being His most beloved Prophet. She was not sent to this earth, rather, Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. had to ascend to Jannat to receive her (as mentioned in Fatima az-Zahra’, The World’s most outstanding Lady by Ayatullah Naser Makarem Shirazi). As a baby her cradle was rocked by her beloved mother, a lady of remarkable status who was the first woman to openly accept Islam when the first verses were revealed to Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. She was a believer, her husband’s staunch ally and his best friend and supporter through all his trials. A mother is a unique creation of Allah s.w.t. It is not an exaggeration to say that a mother is an extension of Allah’s will in providing nourishment and protection to a helpless child that cannot fend for itself. Allah physically protects a child through its mother. The unique bonding of a mother to her child and of a child to its mother is not short of a miracle. Only a mother is capable of fulfilling her duties she takes upon herself and the sacrifices she makes for the sake of love. No other relationship compares to what a mother does for her child.

Bibi Fatima a.s. was so revered by her father, Prophet Mohammad s.a.s., that he respectfully got up from his seat every time Bibi Fatima a.s. walked into his presence. He would then offer his seat to her and would sit beside her. He taught to all those people who surrounded him how to respect their daughters and their women by setting an example himself by being respectful to them. Those who had buried their daughters alive with their own hands had much to learn from our Holy Prophet and his family, our Holy Ahlebait a.s.

When she married Imam Ali a.s., Bibi Fatima did all her house work herself. Her beloved maid Fizza a.s. was given the luxury of a family member while Bibi Fatima a.s worked. The household work was divided equally between Bibi Fatima a.s. and her maid Bibi Fizza a.s. There was no discrimination between the mistress of the house and the maid of the house. The children respected the maid like their own mother. Bibi Fatima a.s. worked hard to raise her children. In times of financial difficulties she worked harder and maintained the standard of their livelihood so the children did not get neglected or go unnourished. She worked on the stone grind mill and made flour from whole grain and fed her children. She worked so hard that Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. gave her a tasbeeh to recite for keeping up her devotion to Allah s.w.t. when there was not much time for the prayers she wished to perform for her Creator, Allah s.w.t.

Bibi Fatima a.s., our divine lady from heaven, the lady of light, was raised by a set of devoted parents with a unique status in the history of Islam. No woman in this world comes remotely close in status to who she was and what she represented. She is a legacy in herself, the most devout, the lovable, the chaste, the worshipper, the beloved, the kind, the devoted, the knowledgeable, the intelligent, the accomplisher, the advocate, the pious, the virtuous, the truthful, the light, the contented, the mistress, the leader, the pillar of strength, the worshipper, the friend, the blessed one, the defender, the perfect one, the virtual, the philosopher, the mother of the Imams, the blessed one, the supreme of all women, the gentle one, the great one, the beautiful one, the one who pleases Allah s.w.t., the owner of purity, the blessed one, the everlasting one, the infallible, the exalted, the faithful one, the defender, the healer, the virtuous, the respected lady, the lady of the light, who was the princess of the universe, the lady with the pure genealogy, the merciful lady, the lady of paradise, the lady of high rank. (Hazrat Fatima Az Zahra (sa))

Allah s.w.t. revealed the status of Bibi Fatima a.s. to us in Hadees e Kisa. When the household of Allah’s prophet joined him under the Kisa and collected together under one sheet of fabric, Allah s.w.t. introduced the personalities under the Kisa. He said they are the household of Prophethood. At the core of the Message was Bibi Fatima a.s. who was the thread that made this fabric possible and the ultimate cause of this meaningful event planned by Allah s.w.t. Jibraeel’s words as they came from Allah s.w.t. regarding who was under the Kisa – they are Fatima (a.s.), her father, her husband and her sons. For those of us who do not know or ignore her position, such was the status of our dear Bibi Fatima a.s. that she was the link that kept the most prominent people in Islam as one household (Fatimah in the Qur’an and the Sunna).

Upon her father’s death, Bibi Fatima’s a.s. personal property was taken away from her because this precious property was a great asset and would have given the household of the Prophet a much needed financial support to sustain themselves and a lot of needy Muslims the sustenance without delving into poverty. This was a great political move devoid of Islamic justice or moral. With their basic needs fulfilled, the Prophet’s household would have the strength to resist the changes that were being brought into Islam. The brave Bibi Fatima a.s. who was raised by none other than the most noble man who walked the earth, declared her claim for Fadak as it was the property of her father gifted to her by her father who received it as bounty after the Battle of Khayber. But her claim was refused saying that the property of the Prophet was public property. Bibi Fatima a.s. raised her voice against this open injustice (A Shi’ite Encyclopedia ): Bibi Fatima a.s. who lived a simple life, who fasted for days together, who worked hard, who did not care about worldly comforts and possessions, took it upon herself to fight against this injustice to set an example to the women of the world for ages to come that they should stand up against injustice and fight for what is rightfully theirs. The eloquent Qutba delivered by Bibi Fatima a.s. in the court illustrates her knowledge, her understanding, her courage, demonstrating she was equipped with the power of the Holy Quran to support her claim of her inheritance. This was the power of Bibi Fatima a.s.

It is not easy for any woman to stand in the court of the Caliph and protest his decision especially when he is also the one who is possessing the power to pass the judgment. But that did not stop the brave lady from appealing for her property. For those of us who look upon her as our benefactor and role model, she was setting an example for us to be brave in the face of adversities.

Fatima a.s. took care of her father while her mother was alive and continued to do so after her death. She tended to his wounds inflicted by the Quraish following the death of his protector, his Uncle Abu Talib a.s. She nurtured her father and took care of his needs with such great care that the Prophet referred to her as his mother – Umme Abiha – mother of her father.

The caring daughter of our Prophet was also a doting mother to her children. Bibi Fatima a.s. raised her children with a lot of hard work. She did all the chores of the household and her maid Fizza shared her work equally on alternate days. She kept the family glued together with her love for her children, her patience, her benevolence, her prayers and her sacrifices.

The legacy: of this only child of Prophet Mohammad s.a.s. Bibi Fatima a.s is she is Sayyadatun nisa il Alameen. She is the leader, the best of all women in the world and a wonderful role model. In addition to being a wonderful daughter and mother, she displays the image of Muslim women in society. Her character exudes the strength of Muslim women. She is easily the greatest woman in this world.

(The article is dedicated to my late mother Shabir Bano)

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A Brief Discussion on Death from Manazil al-Akhirah

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 01:49

The riveting phenomenon of death has been and continues to be a contentious and touchy subject. The inexorable fact of death being the inception of body and consequently its cessation has become a gateway for much scholarly discourse. The vast production of literary works surrounding the notion of death and what happens thereafter, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, has brought to light many theories and facts for introspection.

All praise is to Allah, whose descended Book has left no room for man to question or revolve the man made philosophies surrounding death, through its easy-to-read depictions and vignettes of the Hereafter and what is expected of man in this world. We may find it painstaking to scour each page of the Holy Quran for verses explaining death, which is where Manazil al Akhirah comes into play. This text, authored by the late Shaykh Abbas Qummi (may God be pleased with him), details the various staged of man’s expected journey preceding and following his demise. Corroborated by ample hadiths, Quranic verses and supplications,Manazil al Akhirah lucidly compacts the Divine dictates that order us to perform good while we are alive and grasp onto the rope of Ahlul Bayt (as), so that we may evade punishment and reap everlasting rewards and beatitude in the next life.

When I started reading this book, I had one intention in mind: to prepare myself for death. I had previously watched videos and heard of many stories of unexpected demises of youngsters and elders alike, which confirmed to me that death knows no age, nor any distinction for that matter. So, to weed out any fears and misgivings I may have, I decided to start reading and the inception of my research began in Manazil al Akhirah . Gradually, I started to devalue this world and its allurements as I realised how short our time is here and how we must uninterruptedly strive to enjoin good and forbid evil.

Excerpts from Manazil al Akhirah

“It is of utmost importance that man should hold death dear and consider it an opportunity of meeting with his Almighty, and not hate it and consider it as evil, but should take lessons from it. He should ask forgiveness from Allah for his sins and tame the rebellious self (nafs).”

“And we being sinful have forgotten our end, and do not take account of our deeds, but are averse to the terror of the hereafter.”

“A child who secures first rank in his school is so excited and happy, that he calls out to his friends “Come and see my result, that I have passed in the first rank.” In the same manner, on the day of Qayamat, a believer (Mo’min) will be given his scrolls in his right hand, and he will call out in excitement: “Lo! Come and read my book. Allah has accepted my prayers (Salat), fasts (siyam), and other deeds. Come and have a look at them. Surely I knew that I shall meet my account. In the world I was always worried about what would be the outcome of my deeds on the day of Qayamat. Today my accounting is over’.”

Lessons to keep in mind

I derived the following lessons from Manazil al Akhirah , that will forever remain nestled in my subconscious mind:

  • Don’t think that you are free from the fetters of Satan, even during death: for the insinuations of Satan can pollute your mind and convince you that he knows a way out of death, thereby making you an apostate during your last stages of life.
  • Always seek to maintain amiable relations with your kith and kin, for this will render you succour in the next world. Remember the relatives who departed before you and collate lessons from their demise.
  • Keep in mind the evanescence of life – it’s bound to end, so make the most of it.
  • The ark of Ahlul Bayt (as) is the sole source of salvation. Stay aboard.
  • Be mindful of your prayer and never downplay its significance. Tardiness will lead to perdition and unending regret.
  • Repent whenever you can. Death oversteps time and place, so make sure you are always in the lead.
  • It’s okay if you can’t decipher life after death. So long as we haven’t experienced it, we will not be able to perfectly visualise it. Therefore, we must rely on the Quranjc verses and precepts and traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as) and garner as much as we can from their words, so we do not feel estranged.

In short, Manazil al Akhirah is a wake-up call for the sleeping profligate. It teaches us that the world is bound to disillusion us, and that death is the sole proof of this. We also learn from this book that one should never cease gathering provisions for the Hereafter and salvaging whatever good they can from this world. All in all, Manazil al Akhirah is the go-to text if you wish to know more about death – the prelude of the Hereafter. To delve deeper into the book click here.

 

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The Load

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 02:51

A leaking tap. And a fish tank. So we’d collect the water in a large mug and empty it into the tank. And once I was given the job. Little did I know that I’d walk the Pool e Sirat just trying to get such a simple task done.

It really was nothing more than going from one side of the house to another with a mug of water and putting it in a place where it would be used and not wasted. But if that same mug was overflowing…I picked the mug up and started the precarious walk. My steps were slow, calculated, and after just a few I started getting nervous. The water was spilling over the top and leaving a trail behind me. My hand started feeling heavy, and my steps got smaller and smaller.

I could see the fish tank, but suddenly it seemed light years away. My mind went into over drive contemplating what to do. I couldn’t return to the kitchen, empty a bit of the mug and walk back freely. It didn’t make sense. The fish tank was the same distance away, so I’d might as well have made the journey forward bound. I realized that should have emptied a little BEFORE starting..

As more water fell, I became nervous and my steps started shaking even more. Suddenly, I wasn’t in my hall anymore; rather on the Sirat of Judgement Day.

That mug in my hand was my book of deeds, and the sins written in it were weighing it down to the extent that it felt that upon my fingers was a load the size of Planet Earth.

My muscles were aching and every nerve in my body was on high alert. I could see heaven infront of me, shining in all it’s glory, but my heavy sins were preventing me from reaching it.

Wisdom had advised me to throw those unwanted deeds away before starting my journey, but just as I thought I’d be able to make it easily to the fish tank with an over flowing mug, in the same way I felt that I’d reach Jannah with all those sins. I didn’t bother erasing them from my book by doing Istighfar. I was too lazy. I couldn’t have been bothered. There were so many other worldly things to do..

And I was seeing its effect now. Every drop of spilling water was like a flame coming down from beneath me, burning my toes where any drop fell.

I couldn’t let go of the mug, there was no where to keep it. Just like how the Quran has said that on Judgement, every man shall be held hostage by his deeds. There would be no escape. An Ayah that freaks me out whenever I remember it.. (Surah Mudathir:38)

So I finished the walk. Mentally deranged by the end, and physically strained. My fingers hurt, my toes burnt and my mind froze. Did I want this to happen to me for real?

As I threw the water into the tank, I took my first breath in what seemed like eternity. I turned around and looked at the 20 second walk that had felt never ending. And just to drive the point home about how it would feel to walk on the Sirat without a load, I ran across the hall. I was at the entrance before I knew it.

It would have been this easy the first time round too, had I not been an insistent sinner and heedless about the fact that death may come before I have the time to lessen my burden with Tawbah.

Before leaving the hall, I looked back one again at the spilled water on the floor. I wouldn’t let those be the spots where I got burnt on the Sirat, I told myself. May God Help me keep my word to myself.

And May He Forgive you too, Ameen.

 

 

 

 

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Saving Our Half Religion

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 13:00

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

وَأَنْكِحُوا الْأَيَامَىٰ مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ ۚ إِنْ يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“Marry the single people from among you and the righteous slaves and slave-girls. If you are poor, Allah (SwT) will make you rich through His favour; and Allah (SwT) is Bountiful, All-Knowing.” (Surah 24, Verse 32)

Marriage is universally defined as a sacred union between a man and woman who agree to share a committed life of mutual trust, compassion and respect. Many a times we find our contemporaries left to writhe in the scourge of failed marriages and we often question why such is the case. Global divorce rates are spiraling out of control, leaving all members of the family unit emotionally dispossessed and often despondent. Potential suitors, bachelors and bachelorettes have encountered even more difficulty in seeking and pursuing a marital relationship and this corollary demands action. Although this article may not be a miraculous solution to all conjugal problems, I will seek to provide a rough blueprint of the concept of marriage in Islam, pivotal points to consider during spousal selection to hopefully counsel myself and the community, in order that we may concertedly work towards addressing issues surrounding matrimony and aiding one another in the pursuit of successful marriages and families.

The Importance of Marriage in Islam

Why elaborately scrutinise the notion of marriage and revolve possible reasons as to its importance, when we can turn to the vicegerents of Allah (swt), Muhammad (s) and Ale Muhammad (s), who have eloquently condensed the paramountcy in a few lines? Allow us to peruse the wisdom of Ahlul Bayt (as):

Marriage sustains one’s faith. Notwithstanding this, the Prophet (s) has dictated that: “When the servant gets married, he has completed half of his faith, so let him be careful of his duty to Allah in the remaining half.” (Kanz al-‘Ummal, no. 44403) Marriage is the gateway to Divine approbation, with the anointed servants of Allah (swt) applying much emphasis on its import, as seen in the following narration by the Prophet (s) who said: “No house has been built in Islam more beloved in the sight of Allah (swt) than marriage.” (Wasāil ash-Shī~a, vol. 14, p.3)

Sexual exigencies are met and urges intact and kept in place. Sexual desire and its satiation is an innate aspect of the self’s animalistic component, so much so that it supersedes the desire for celestial foods and beverages in the heavenly abode. In the veracious words of Imam al-Sadiq (a): “Indeed, the people of heaven do not take delight in the pleasures of heaven more than Nikah; neither food nor drink has that much pleasure for them.” (Wasāil ash-Shī~a, vol. 20, pg. 23, no. 24929)
Allah (swt) has not only rendered this need intrinsic, but has prescribed abounding rewards for married couples who meet each other’s sexual needs, which, in our tomes, is deemed to be a part of Sunnah (tradition) and in turn, an act of worship.

Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) narrates that the Prophet (s) said to someone: “Are you fasting today?” He said, “No.” The Prophet (s) asked: “Have you gone to visit a sick person?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet (s) asked: “Have you been to escort a deceased person?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet (s) asked: “Have you given food to a poor person?” Again, he gave a negative response. The Prophet (s) told him: “Go to your wife and going to your wife is ŝadaqah (Go to you to her so that you get all the reward for all these acts).” (Wasāil ash-Shī~a, vol. 20, pg. 109, no. 25163)

Muĥammad bin Khalad narrates from Imām al-Riďā (as): “Three things are from the sunnah of the noble Prophets and the messengers of Allāh, and these are application of perfume, cutting of the hair and engaging in a lot of conjugal relations.” (Wasāil ash-Shī~a , vol. 20, pg. 241, no. 25537)

The rewards within a married life is equivalent to, if not greater than, an ascetic life devoted solely to worship. See for yourself: As proclaimed by the Prophet (s): “Two rak‘ats (cycles) prayed by a married person are better than the night-vigil and the fast of a single person.” (Wasāil ash-Shī~a, vol. 14, p.7) Also: “A married person sleeping is better in the sight of Allah than an unmarried person spending his night in fast and prayer.” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 103, p. 221, no. 25)

Youth and Spouse Selection

Humankind is gregarious by nature. We seek company in much of our daily affairs and boast an inexorable need to feel stable, which often translates into our constant need to pair up or, as many would like to call it, ‘find the one’. Most if not all individuals have envisioned what they look for in a partner, and while the quest for a nonesuch character is illusive and implausible, finding someone who complements you is nothing short of the prime worldly goal. In a world of guiles, however, achieving this objective can prove difficult. Though, Allah (swt) knows better than to leave us desultorily wading our way through life, rather providing us with venerable personage to which we can turn for guidance. Their knowledge is abundant and wisdom unparalleled. So, let us seek their infallible words to better understand what to expect from a life partner:

Faith and piety:

When a man came to the Prophet (S) to seek guidance for selecting a spouse, he said, “It is binding upon you to have a religious spouse.” (Wasa’il ul-Shi’a, Vol. 14, p. 30)

The Prophet (s) said, ‘When someone comes to you with a proposal and you are well-pleased with his faith and his integrity then accept him in marriage, for if you do not, discord and corruption will prevail in the land.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 103, p. 372, no. 3)

The Prophet (s) said, ‘He who marries a woman solely for her beauty will not find anything he likes in her, he who marries her for her wealth will be deprived of it as soon as he marries her, so look to marry women of faith.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 103, p. 235, no. 19)

Imam al-Hasan (a) said to man who came to ask his advice about getting his daughter married, ‘Marry her to a pious man, for if he loves her he will honour her, and if he comes to dislike her, at least he will not be unjust towards her.’ (Makarim al-Akhlaq, v. 1, p. 446, no. 1534)

Manners (akhlaq)

Imam al-Ridha (a) wrote in reply to a person who had asked him if it was advisable to marry his daughter to a person known for his ill nature, “If he is ill-natured (bad tempered), don’t marry your daughter to him.” (Makarim al-Akhlaq p, 203)

Lineage

The Prophet (s) has said: Marry in the lap of a decent family, since the semen and the genes have effect.” (Al-Kafi, v. 5, p. 332)

What I have enumerated are some of the many attributes to look out for in a suitor. I have sought to list the primary elements of a good spouse as per the wisdom of Ahlul Bayt (as), but needless to say, this list is not exhaustive and more scrutiny should be undertaken during spousal selection if need be. The following are thoroughgoing texts to refer to for an extensive criterion on spousal selection and the overall process of matrimony:

Mizan al-Hikma by Ayatullah Muhammadi Rayshahri, p. 694

This is a compilation of hadiths derived from Ahlul Bayt (as) on topical issues of interest in Islam. Chapters are stratified in alphabetical order, facilitating an easier for readers to navigate through the literature. Ample, reliable references are provided following each hadith.

Islamic Marriage Handbook by Sayyid Athar Husayn S.H. Rizvi

This text is intended for those wishing to enter into matrimony and contains an extensive range of advice from the first-hand experience of notable writers and insight transmitted directly from Ahlul Bayt (as) with respect to the notion of marriage, spousal selection and the management of nuptial affairs.

Youth and Spouse Selection by Ali Akbar Mazaheri

This text lucidly guides the reader in making the correct decisions when it comes to selecting a befitting spouse. Its colloquial tone enables the reader to connect with the literature as they begin to understand what decisions are expected of them for a successful marriage. It also renders a plenitude of counsel on how to follow through after being married to continue living a fruitful life and establish a close-knit family nurtured under God-cognisance.

How to Choose a Spouse in Islam

Being tightly compacted in a way that is easy to understand, this text summarises the key elements to look for in a spouse according to the injunctions of Allah (swt) and directives of Ahlul Bayt (as).

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My Journey Towards Imam Husain(AS) : A New Muslim’s Reflections

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 12:47

Reformation is defined as “The action or process of reforming an institution or practice”.

This Muharrum 2017 was deeply special. Extremely painful on an emotional level. But enormously personally reformative. This was my fifth Muharrum.

I converted to islam in May 1992. I was thirty years old. I have always been a practising Muslim. The website www.alislam.org has always been a tremendous source of reliable knowledge and guidance for my ability to practise my religion.

I entered islam in London at Regent’s Park mosque. I had been raised in a deeply Catholic background. I had grown up in the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. This meant that I had not only experienced traumatic events related to terrorism as a child but I also understand what sectarianism means. Al hamdulillah I had been brought up to hate no one.

My well educated mother’s regular encouragement was to study well in school. Early home life was dedicated to attending school and diligently completing long hours of homework in the evenings. Yet our mother never made us feel pressurised to achieve high grades or to go into any particular profession. The maxim from her was “You can only do your best” I was the eldest of seven children. I had one brother and six sisters. We were all taught good manners and to especially respect any guest which came to our home.

During the long difficult years of my association with Muslims from Ahlul Sunna, especially in the early months after converting to islam in London, I was warned off in having anything to do with Shia Muslims.

By the grace of Allah, in May 2013, I was back in London for a brief period and became a Shia of Ahlul Bayt. I had been truly, finally guided to the place I now call home in islam. Personal circumstances meant that I had to really “learn all over again” how to practise my religion. And learn it alone for the most part. All I had was a copy of Najool Baluga, my Mafatih al Jinan and the scant knowledge that Imam Hussain was the grandson of Prophet Muhammed (saw). And that he had been martyred in the most brutal way at a place called Kerbala.

Semi retiring from a long international career in my specialist field of Clinical Nutrition I found myself back in my home town in August 2013 and as a brand new Shia. I was fortunate at that time to meet a few Shia doctors who were working in Northern Ireland. They visited me at my home and we recited Hadeeth al Kisaa. In those early years I knew so little of the Ahlul Bayt. On a personal level I was readjusting to life after decades of professional work. I was alone. I was “back home”. I was going through my own personal reformation, day by day, month by month, changing how I was not only practising at home but living shii islam outside in the society.

It was Ahlul Bayt TV from which I began to learn about Imam Hussayn. And to begin to understand in depth what happened in the holy month of Muharrum and about the events in Islamic history which lead to the martyrdom of the Imam and his beloved progeny. The more I listened, the more I learned, the more horrified, shocked, pain I felt. That people who called themselves Muslims could have behaved in such a callous and barbaric way with the family of the noble Prophet Muhammed (saw).

From the pain of this Muharrum came further personal reformation, a deepening of faith, a spirit which remains unbroken in the long road to do ziyara of Imam Hussain. I had been working in Mazar Sharif in Northern Afghanistan for several months earlier this year. Before I left my close friend and dear sister in islam, Dr Humera drove me to meet a Shia scholar. As she was working for the UN she was able to translate for me as Shaikh Haideri spoke only in Dari. It was a deeply emotional meeting. There was a very large photograph of my marajah, Grand Ayatollah al Sistani on the wall. I was extremely happy at the end of the meeting to be given a gift from Imam Zaman. And also delighted to hear that I could join a group to go for ziyara of Imam Hussain and Arabeen from Kabul.

I went to stay with Hazara shia muslim friends in Kabul with the sole intention of getting the visa and travelling for ziyara. It’s too long a story to detail in this short blog but sadly I had to leave Afghanistan. I was utterly heartbroken not only by the fact that I was not able to travel but deeply saddened by the actions of Shias I thought I could trust. On my return to the UK, through further learning I realised that Imam Hussayn too had been betrayed. And as we know there are numerous incidents in the life of our blessed Prophet Muhammed where he was betrayed and left to weep alone. I like many Shia have just emerged from two months of mourning.

It took a lot of time but I have finally found a sister with whom to book my travel all over again to Imam Hussayn at the end of March 2018. Sacrifice for Imam Hussayn has become a way of life.

It was difficult to be all alone again in the UK. Even though I had been in Afghanistan, lived with high level security arrangements, experienced long hours of power cuts in temperatures of more than 40 degrees centigrade on some days, I was able to wear my hijab without fear and serve without humiliation as best as I could. I was blessed with the company of dear muslim sisters and brothers particularly in Mazar Sharif.

This Muharrum 2017 back in the UK I watched Arabeen and my Shii brothers and sisters from my remote location on Ahlul Bayt TV. I wept for the tragedy of Kerbala. I wept for having got so geographically close and now I was so far. But I could still feel Imam Hussain with me through all this pain. Al hamdulillah I have emerged with the strong HOPE and optimism of ziyarah next spring. For me true justice and good ahlaq to humanity, and especially to Believers ,also means never remove the hope from a good human heart, the heart of a Believer in Allah.

The post My Journey Towards Imam Husain(AS) : A New Muslim’s Reflections appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

A Treatise On Taufeeq – The Divine Guidance

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 03:11

In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

What is Divine Guidance ( Taufeeq) and how can we achieve it? Is it universal, random, or only specific for some special people?

Some people attribute to Allah(SWT) their own failings in fulfilling their obligations. Especially when someone is not doing what he or she is capable of, in the way of Allah, if such a person is capable of performing the kind and good deeds and for whatever reasons he does not avail the opportunity at the right time, he is termed as the one who did not get the divine guidance yet!

A common example being, say someone who has heard the call for prayer(Adhan) or knows the time of prayer (Salat), but being busy with his phone or work, ignores the call for prayer and loses the right time for prayers, and delays his prayers till the eleventh hour and finally does it just before the prayer time is about to be over, is sometimes referred to as also not attaining Taufeeq to pray on time. Other times, people who are not performing their religious obligations, and therefore come across this common argument and excuse for themselves as well.

Mohammad Ali Shomali in his book Understanding God’s Mercy Part 5 describes the two types of guidance:

“There are two types of divine guidance: general and specific. General Guidance (al-hidyah al-‘ammah) is the guidance given to all creatures, as everything created in this world receives some type of guidance. When Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron who their Lord was, his reply was:

قَالَ رَبُّنَا ٱلَّذِىٓ أَعۡطَىٰ كُلَّ شَىۡءٍ خَلۡقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَىٰ

He said, ‘Our Lord is He who gave everything its creation and then guided it.’ (20:50)

Everything in this world knows its role for its continuity in this world. Animals, insects, and plants know how to survive and continue their species. Even electrons know how to move and function because it is God who has guided them:

سَبِّحِ ٱسۡمَ رَبِّكَ ٱلۡأَعۡلَى ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ وَٱلَّذِى قَدَّرَ فَهَدَىٰ

Celebrate the Name of your Lord, the Most Exalted, who created and proportioned, who determined and guided. (87:1-3)

This is very similar to the answer of Moses to Pharaoh. God is the one who has created everything, who has given all appropriate measures and design, and has also guided them.

The Specific Guidance (al-hidayah al-khassah) pertains to human beings (and jinns) who have free will and are therefore able to make moral decisions. The Specific Guidance by itself is divided into two: a) the generative (al-takwiniyyah), which is through human conscience and intellect, and b) the legislative (al-tashri‘iyyah) which is through revelation and divine messages communicated to mankind by the prophets. As we will see later, those who benefit from the guidance available to everyone will receive additional guidance from God.”

Some people directly or indirectly, set all their burdens for their neglect and recklessness in the Islamic rituals on Allah for not providing them the required, Taufeeq at that point in their lives.

يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ

“Thus, does Allah make err whom He pleases …” (Al-Muddaththir, 74:31)”

In reply to a question about above verse Ayatullah Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi in 82 Questions gives Tafsir of the verse: “This holy verse carries several meanings: One is regarding knowledge about the Almighty Allah’s authority over guidance and misguidance for anyone whom He wishes and that He is able to draw him to good or evil willy-nilly, but since withdrawal of free will is against Divine wisdom, He does not do so, because if He does so, one cannot be either rewarded or punished. Therefore the verse only informs us about God’s ability and it does not mean that he really takes this step.

Another reason is that the meaning of guidance in this verse is not showing of the way as the same has already been conveyed to all responsible beings through prophets and Imams (a.s.). Similarly the meaning of guidance here is also not the attaining of the aim without free will or intention of man, because it too negates ones being entitled to reward or punishment.

Hence what is meant by guidance and misguidance in this verse is divine sense (Taufeeq) or abandoning (Khizlaan). Taufeeq means that the Almighty Allah pays special attention to His servant and makes the path of good easy for him thereby making him inclined to good and by increasing his desire to do good. He provides for him the means, which help him succeed and does not withhold from him means which can keep him away from sinning.

The perfect kind of such guidance is that by which God makes His servant taste the sweetness of good and the bitterness of evil. It i s obvious that such guidance, which facilitates the path of success, does not conflict with or does not negate man’s free will. Therefore the meaning of this verse is: God sheds His favor on His servant by providing him with all the means of success to whoever He wants and deprives those He wants of His favors and leaving such a person to himself (to do whatever he likes).

But it should be clear that the will of Allah is not random; it is in accordance with the entitlement of man to get guidance or misguidance. Man makes himself eligible of God’s favor by following and accepting the call of the divine prophets.

وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ

“And (as for) those who follow the right direction, He increases them in guidance and gives them their guarding (against evil).,,” (Muhammad, 47: 17)

Since guidance and good sense (Taufeeq) of God has stages, when God grants His favor and the servant accepts it thankfully, he becomes entitled to a higher rank. Likewise it is also possible that a man by his inclination to evil may make himself eligible for misguidance and deprivation.”

These 2 verses from Quran are hard to interpret, yet according to a general understanding these verses, are directed towards the sole power of the Allah to provide or not provide the capability towards goodness. But if we believe in such, then there should be no reward and no punishment as Allah is the one who actually left some people astray and others were guided to the straight path. Therefore, it’s concluded that if we believe in Allah’s justice the divine Adl then we have to believe in each and every person’s individual competence, potential and efforts in the way of Allah or in the way of Satan that can lead or mislead him from the divine guidance from Allah.

We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).” (76:3)

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ.

And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, we will most certainly guide them in Our ways, and Allah is most certainly with the doers of good.” (Surah Ankabut 29:69)

The above two verses again lay emphasis on the fact that guidance and deviations dependent on one’s actions and will in the first instance. The path of guidance is open to all those who seek it but those who transgress and make the path crooked for them is misguidance.

Guidance does come from Allah but some people can avail the opportunities in their lives, whereas others can turn their backs and simply chose to ignore, we humans have the free will and capability of making choices

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُ عَيْنَيْنِ

وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

Have We not made for him two eyes, a tongue, and two lips, and shown him the two paths [of good and evil]?” (90:8-10)

وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِثْلُهَ

“And the recompense of evil is punishment like it…” (Ash-Shura 42:40)

What leads a man on the path of guidance? Simplified answer to this is the way, a man uses his intellectual capabilities to strengthened and establish the connection between himself and His Creator and then by practical implications of the rules of the religion, known as Taqwa. In short do what has been commanded and refrain from what has been ordered by Allah, no if, no and no but….

“Taqwa” or God wariness, helps the insight, the wisdom and of course the intellect.

Let’s give an example of 2 children and their biological parents wanted them to follow the instructions and one child does exactly what the parents recommended, while the other pays no heed to them, who would be more appreciated? the one who has listened to the parents, of course!!

Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari in Taqwa, Part 2 discusses different benefits of acquiring the state of Taqwa and elaborates on how Taqwa is a so crucial for development of of faith ,intellect, wisdom, and emotions.

Allah (swt) says:

With it Allah guides those who follow [the course of] His pleasure to the ways of peace, and brings them out from darkness into light by His will, and guides them to a straight path.” (5:16)

And for wrong doers it’s mentioned:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ {60}

“…surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter Hell abased. “

(Al- Ghafir, 40:60)

Allah also says:

The Satan only desireth to cause enmity and hatred in your midst through intoxicants and gambling and keep you away from remembering God and from prayer; will you then abstain (from them)?” (5:91)

Quran, Prophets and Masoomeens have all been sent for our divine guidance already. Allah has provided us the intellectual capabilities, to do the right and to distinguish the truth from falsehood, so it’s now up to us individuals to guard ourselves and our generations against the evil and utilize the divine guidance that has been sent by Allah and taught by the exemplary lives of Our Masoomeens a.s, provided we want to achieve the eternal bliss.

Allah said in the holy Quran:

“Hold together to Allah’s Rope and do not be divided (Qur’an, 3:103)”

According to several narrations this Allah’s “rope” is the term used for Infallible Masoomeens (a) and the Quran. Our own link or interconnection with these two can make or break us accordingly. Quran normally tells us the general principles of religion, whereas Masoomeens (a) can help us establish a stronger bond with Allah, by their practical applications of the laws of religion, the ethical rules they practiced and their behaviors with friends and foes, poor and rich, orphans and neighbors etc. If we are successful in acquiring that knowledge and then implementing it in our daily life then we can achieve success in both the worlds. So, the step of attaining and increasing the divine guidance or the “Taufeeq” starts from within our own selves and with the effort to improve ourselves morally and spiritually, with every breath that we take!

Allah and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet, O you who believe! send your blessings on him, and solute him a thorough salutation”. (33:56)

اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد

O Allah, may you grant peace and honor on Muhammad s.a.w.w. and his family.

 

The post A Treatise On Taufeeq – The Divine Guidance appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

What’s Your Purpose in Life? And How Problems Can Help You Achieve Your Purpose? Lecture by Khalil Jaffer

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 07:53

What’s the purpose of life?

It’s a question that philosophers have been asking for centuries. It’s one of the most important questions a person can ever ask, because once we are clear on our purpose we experience:

  • More energy in our lives
  • Courage to deal with life’s challenges
  • Patience in the time of adversity
  • A better ability to take decisions.
In this lecture by Khalil Jaffer, you will discover:
  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What does it mean to know God?
  • Why is there suffering and to face it with courage
  • How to solve the tension between the needs of the Body and the Soul
  • The single most important trait needed for the human soul to mature

Verses mentioned in this lecture:

  • 23:115 “Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?”
  • 84:6 “O man! surely you must strive (to attain) to your Lord, a hard striving until you meet Him”
  • 18:110 “… It is revealed to me that your god is one Allah, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join any one in the service of his Lord.”
  • 2:156 “Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall surely return.”
  • 8:24 “O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life”
  • 4:45 “And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones”
  • 2:153 “O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.”
  • 2:183 “O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).”
  • 2:216 Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.
  • 57:23 “No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls, but it is in a book before We bring it into existence; surely that is easy to Allah. So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you; and Allah does not love any arrogant boaster”

Hadith mentioned in this lecture:

  • “People are asleep. When they die, they wakeup.” ~ Imam Ali (‘a)
  • “I was a hidden treasure. I created so that I may be known” ~ Hadith Qudsi
  • “Aql is that by which one comes to worship one’s creator. And Aql is that by which one earns one’s place in paradise.” ~ Imam Jafar Sadiq (‘a)

Selected Quotes from this lecture:

All souls are undergoing a spiritual journey, and the end of the journey which has no end, is to come great consciousness and awakening.

If you with all your learnings and all your experience you cannot come to the conclusion that you have a creator before whom you must bow and you are not able to find a place in jannah, then you have no aql. Then you have jahalah. It does not matter how many PHDs you have pasted on the wall.

When you come absolutely close to Allah it is not a physical meeting, it is a complete suspension of the egoic self and a full view of the radiance and full magnificance of the one and only reality, that is Allah (swt).

Islam wants you to live in society, cause that is where the soul is forged in the fire of suffering and tribulations where it attains these (Godly) qualities.

Click here to view the video of the lecture  Click here to download the MP3

The post What’s Your Purpose in Life? And How Problems Can Help You Achieve Your Purpose? Lecture by Khalil Jaffer appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

The Who, What, How and Why of Azadari

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 07:17
Who Is It For?:

One of the amazing things about the month of Muharram is the fact that people who you don’t see in the Imambargah during the entire year, show up. They take out time from their busy schedules and come dressed in black to attend the mourning ceremonies of Imam Hussain (as).

And why not?

The Ibadat of Azadari is something nobody wants to miss out on, especially since we have no idea how long we have left to live in this world.

But why do we feel so compelled to attend these Majalis? Is the lone reason to provide solace to Bibi Fatema (as)?

Here’s an extract from Wikipedia:

“Shias believe they share in Fatimah’s suffering by weeping for her sorrows. The tears of the faithful is also believed to console Fatimah.”

Be honest with yourself. How does the second sentence make Bibi Fatema (as) sound? An extremely Patient woman, the Best of all Women in the entire Universe, someone who is said to have a secret just between herself and Allah (SWT), the Princess of the Day of Judgement, and yet we make her sound like she still needs condolences from sinners like us?! 

I mean, if you were to tell your friends in school or your colleagues that the reason you cry for Imam Hussain (as) is to bring peace to the heart of Bibi Fatema (as), they’re just going to roll their eyes. Because, my dear brothers and sisters, if you think about it, that does sound a bit odd.. 

We need to understand that we are not attending the Majalis for Bibi Fatema (as). You may argue that Bibi Fatema (as) is said to collect our tears in her handkerchief, and so the tears are for her, but don’t those tears become the light of our own graves, and a shade for us on the Day of Judgement; how, in any way, do they benefit the Great Lady (as)??

So the next time someone asks you why you’re attending these Majalises, don’t say that you’re doing it for Bibi Fatema (as).

These Majalis are meant as a revival for our dead hearts, an awakening for our drowsy souls, and are not, in any way, providing an advantage to Zahra (as). They are just, as the first part of the Wiki extract says, a means of solidarity with her, to show her that we too care about the tragedies that happened, and that we too are crushed by what the Ummat did to Hussain (as) and the rest of her family.

What Should It Be Like?:

Azadari today, is what Kerbala was in 61AH. Kerbala happened to wake up the sleeping Ummat, to show them the difference between right and wrong, and then to ask them which side they were on? The side of people who called out: 

Be quick in the slaughter of the grand son of Rasool Allah, we must pray the Asr Salah! 

Or on the side of the Imam (as)? 

Muharram comes every year to remind us of the tragedy, and then asks us the same question…So lets see how well my Azadari prepares me to be able to answer it: 

I attend a Majlis every night, in which I’m dressed completely in black. I listen to each and every word the Zaakir says, I weep profusely when he talks about the Masaib that fell on my Imam (as) and take part in the Matam too. When I go home that night, it’s 1:00 am, and I remember what the Zaakir had said about the importance of Shab Namaaz, such that Bibi Zainab (as) recited it even in the prison of Shaam! I consider Praying it, I mean I did cry a lot at that statement in the Majlis.. Hmm.. Nah, tonight I’m not up to it. So I get into bed, forget everything the Zaakir told me, and fall asleep.

That, was the Azadari of almost each and every Shia on the face of this Earth today, and I’m sure you can tell, something isn’t right here..

If you really want to know what true Azadari is, let’s go to Shaam, where the very foundations of Azadari were laid. The first time a Majlis was ever held though, was not by Bibi Zainab (as) after they were freed from prison. Rather, it was those stories Bibi Sakina (as) would tell the little children while she was in the prison. The children’s hearts were moved by what they heard, and they went and told their mothers, who also started to listen to what Bibi Sakina (as) had to say. Bibi Sakina (as) would tell the women of Shaam the story of Kerbala, and the cog-wheels of those women’s brains were turning. They were starting to realize that what happened to the family of Aba Abdil Lah wasn’t fair, and every word of the Majlis by Bibi Sakina (as) was taking it’s toll on the consciences of the Shaamis.

And when the little Princess left this world, the ladies of Shaam, because they had done Azadari, a true Azadari, one which heated their blood and flamed their hearts, went out, and spoke against Yazid, and because of the fear that their protests and “INTERNAL AWAKENING” would topple his throne, the Ahlul Bayt were set free.

This, my brothers and sisters, this is Azadari! 

There was a lecture, there was the story of Kerbala, there was mourning and there was weeping, there was a Khateeb and there were listeners, but what it did to the hearts of the Shaami women, and what it does to our hearts today, is something totally, totally different. 

Unfortunately, Azadari now is all about crying, and thinking about it, if all the women of Shaam would have done was cry over Bibi Sakina (as)’s death, the Ahlul Bayt would never have been released that quick, and it would have been proof that the Majlis of Bibi Sakina (as) hadn’t affected them one bit. 

We need to understand that when our Imams (as) insisted we remember Imam Hussain (as), when the Prophet (S) said he’d intercede for those who cried over his grandson, this was the type of crying and Azadari they had in mind, one that would move us to such an extent, that our insides burn and flare, and that we get so affected by what Imam Hussain (as) did, and by what happened to him, that until we change what is wrong, we can’t rest in peace. 

And that change doesn’t have to be marches and protests on the road. Every single one of us has a battle going on within us, every second of every moment of every hour of every day. If each and every single Azadaar can win the battle against the Yazid inside him, where, oh where would the Muslims be today?!? 

It all boils down to this: When we believe that we come to the Majlais, just so that our tears can heal Bibi Fatema (as)’s broken heart, that is all we do. We don’t bother taking Azadari to the next step, the actual reason why we have been commanded to remember Imam Hussain (as) in the first place.

How Can We Change It?:

We see in the Quran:

“Verily, those who disbelieved after their Belief and then went on increasing in their disbelief (i.e. disbelief in the Qur’an and in Prophet Muhammad S) – never will their repentance be accepted [because they repent only by their tongues and not from their hearts]. And they are those who are astray.”

Surah 3 (Aal e Imran):90

If we feel that crying and lamenting is enough, and if we don’t bring about a change from within, the tears are valueless, no matter how many they may be. The Ayah above clearly tells us that the repentance of the people will not be accepted because it is just on their tongues, why then will our Azadari be accepted if it’s just in our tears?? 

Now what?

How do we let these Majalises have the same effect on us that they had on the women of Shaam? The only way we can change the ritualistic Azadari into something more effective is by changing how you listen to the Majlis.

When you hear about how sweet death was to Hazrat Qasim (as), what goes through your mind? Do you just cry over that statement in the heat of the moment, and then forget about it? Or do you ask yourself what your own feelings on death are? If you’re scared of dying, does the statement of Hazrat Ali Akbar come to mind; the one in which he tells his father that if they were on the right path, it didn’t matter whether death came to them or they went to death. So if you ARE scared, does it mean you’re indulging in sins? If so, WHY?? Didn’t Imam Hussain (as) sacrifice everything he had so that you get the true Islam, and yet you’re sinning??…

Just imagine: If one line of the Majlis can bring such a train of thoughts into your mind, what can twelve days of constant reminding and advising do?! 

Another one: 

When you hear that Bibi Zainab (as) actually asked Imam Zain ul Abideen (as) whether they should stay in the burning tents because they didn’t have their Hijab. Stop. Look at the greatness of the Ahlul Bayt! Because in other words, what Bibi Zainab actually asked Imam Sajjad (as) was: Should we give up our lives, as compared to Na Mahram seeing us without Hijab?? 

Is that how you are, oh Azadaar who cries over the Hijab of Zainab (as)? Do you interact with Na Mahram for no reason? If it’s a must for you to do so, is that how much care you take when you do interact with them? Or are you relaxed? Do you laugh and joke around with your colleagues and classmates? Look at yourself in the mirror before you leave the house? Is this the Hijab the women of Kerbala would ever be seen wearing? If not, why are you wearing it? How can you cry over a tragedy which pained the hearts of the Ahlul Bayt, yet do the same thing which caused them that pain in the first place? What kind of Azadari is it that you do then?? 

This, this is what the Majalis should do to us. If we limit the Majalis to weeping only, then when we’d hear that Bibi Zainab (as) asked Imam Sajjad (as) whether they should stay in the tents, we would just cry and after the moment would pass, so would the statements that we just heard, and hence, we would never think deeply, nor ponder over the events that transpired and the umpteen lessons behind each and every single one of them.

Why Did Hussain (as) Take A Stand?:

Imam Hussain (as) did not die as a compensation for the sins of the Ummat of his Grandfather. Rather he sacrificed himself and his family so that the very same aforementioned Ummat gets the religion of Islam in one piece, with no alterations, so that by adhering to its rules and regulations, they can get into Jannat. If we just live our lives with no care and concern, hoping that the intercession of the Ahlul Bayt (as) will save us, Imam Hussain (as)’s sacrifice becomes pointless because we’re not following the religion he saved!

It’s sad how we fail to understand that.

All in all, let us always keep in mind that Azadari is important. Remembering Imam Hussain (as) is important. Not letting this annual tradition slip away or be forgotten in our future generations is important. But actually following what the Imam (as) died for, is the most important of them all…

May Allah (SWT) accept all our acts of devotion to Him and the Ahlul Bayt in these two Holy months, May we be able to act upon the message of Imam Hussain (as), May we be able to live by what he died for and May we see many more months of Aza in good health Insha Allah.

The post The Who, What, How and Why of Azadari appeared first on Al-Islam.org Blog.

Karbala: The Message and Goals of Imam al-Husain(AS)

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 06:56

 

Karbala is a constant source of inspiration and guidance.

The story of Karbala has so many different dimensions to it. It’s a story of revolution, freedom, reform, remembrance of Allah, steadfastness in faith in the wake of calamities, sacrifice of everything for the sake of Allah, and so on.

Such a massive sacrifice that Imam Husain(AS) made in Karbala must be having a very great goal. The aims and goals of this great sacrifice cannot be small but they must be significant enough that such a big sacrifice was made for them. What are those goals? What is the ultimate purpose of Karbala? The knowing of the aims of Karbala will help us in directing our efforts towards what Imam Husain(AS) sought to propagate and protect. We’ll discuss the goals of Imam Husain(AS) in presenting the sacrifice in Karbala in this blog with the help of writings written by different authors on this topic inshaAllah.

Dr. S. Wahid Akhtar in his article entitled Karbala’, an Enduring Paradigm of Islamic Revivalism discusses the revival of Islamic values which happened due to the martyrdom of Imam al Husain(AS). He presents the aims and goals of Imam (AS)’s martyrdom in his own words :

“In a will he made to Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah while departing from Makkah, the Imam declares:

Indeed, I have not risen up to do mischief, neither as an adventurer nor to cause corruption and tyranny. I have risen up solely to seek the reform of the Ummah of my grandfather (S). I want to command what is good and stop what is wrong, and (in this) I follow the conduct of my grandfather and my father, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.

In a letter that he wrote to the people of Kufah, in a short sentence he outlines the Islamic concept of a worthy ruler:

By my life, the leader is one who acts in accordance with the Scripture, upholds justice in society, conducts its affairs according to what is righteous, and dedicates his self to God.

Addressing Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi and his troops, who had been dispatched by ‘Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the infamous governor of Kufah, to intercept the Imam’s caravan on the way and to stop him from entering Kufah, Imam Husayn (‘a) quotes this tradition of the Prophet (s), which states the duty of Muslims vis-a-vis corrupt and un-lslamic rulers:

O people! Verily the Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Whoever observes a sovereign legalizing what God has made unlawful, violating the covenant of God, opposing the Sunnah of the Messenger of God, and treating the creatures of God sinfully and oppressively, and does not oppose him with his speech and action, God has a right to bring him to the same fate as that of the tyrant.”

Indeed, these people (i.e. Yazid and the ruling Umayyads) have committed themselves to the following of Satan, and abandoned obedience to God. They have given currency to corruption and abolished the Islamic laws, plundering the public treasury, making lawful what God has forbidden and forbidding what God has permitted. And I, of all people, have a greater right to act [in accordance with the Prophet’s exhortation].

On reaching Karbala’, a point where they had been forced to discontinue their journey and to disembark on the orders of Ibn Ziyad, the Imam stood up to address his companions. In that sermon he declares that life under tyranny is not worthy of man, unless the people rise in an attempt to restore the higher values.

Don’t you see that what is true and right is not acted upon and what is false and wrong is not forbidden? In such a situation, the man of faith yearns for the meeting with his Lord. Indeed, (in such conditions) to me death is happiness, and life under the yoke of tyrants is a disgrace.”

Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi al-Asifi in his book entitled Ashura makes an analysis of Imam Husayn (As)’S Letter From Karbala To His Brother, Muhammad. This letter Imam al-Husain wrote “at a critical juncture in the history” of the Muslim Ummah. The Umayyads had gone to great lengths in tyranny and had corrupted Islamic society. They had succeeded in spreading terror, temptation and deception to different regions of the Islamic world, and the people had responded to this three-pronged agent of control and acquiesced to the oppression and corruption that was being perpetrated by the Umayyads. They altered the outlines of this religion to such an extent that nothing would have remained of Islam but its name, as Husayn (as) said: “Then bid farewell to Islam for the nation has been afflicted with a shepherd like Yazid.” On the one side, the people had been possessed by fear and terror and their preference for safety and well-being, and on the other by enticements. Imam Husayn (as) had witnessed this severe trial in all its ramifications as he traveled from Medina to Karbala.

“The Imam was striving to remove the widespread defeatist tendency that was affecting the Muslims. He knew that the reason behind all this defeatism was internal: love for the world and neglect of the hereafter. He thought that the way to treat this terrible psychological problem was to make the hereafter the object of desire not the world, and make them overcome the fear of death. It was against this background that the Imam wrote to his brother Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah and addressed the community of his grandfather. He presented the diagnosis of the problem and gave the precise prescription for its treatment.

“[Know that] the world is as if it has never been and the hereafter is as if it has always been. Peace.””

Dr. Ibrahim Ayati in his book A Probe into the History of Ashura ‘ mentions the letter of Imam al-Husain(AS) which he wrote to his brother Muhammad Hanafiya. We have quoted a part of the same letter above. Dr Ibrahim Ayati mentions the parts of letter of Imam(AS) which clearly explains the purpose of his mission and campaign :

“This is the testament of Husayn bin Ali bin Abi Talib written by him for his brother Muhammad, known as Ibn Hanafiya. Indeed Husayn testifies that there is no god except Allah and no being other than Him is fit to be worshiped and He has no partner. He also testifies that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and messenger, who has brought truth from Him, and that Paradise and Hell do exist and the Day of Judgment is bound to come and there is no doubt about it, and on that day, Allah will bring the dead to life”.

What the Imam said consists of the very doctrines which it is necessary for every Muslim to hold, and one who does not hold them cannot be a Muslim. Apparently the Imam meant to say that these very principles were in danger and, if the matters were allowed to continue in that manner, it was possible that the regime of the time might not refrain even from attacking these Principles of Faith. In fact the real motive for the Imam’s rising was the protection of these very principles on which other religious and social tenets of Islam are based.

The Imam continued: “This movement of mine is not on account of stubbornness, rebellion, worldly passions or instigation by Satan. It is also not my object to create trouble or to oppress anyone. The only thing which invites me to this great movement is that I should reform the affairs of the followers of my grandfather, eradicate corruption, undertake enjoining to do good and restraining from evil and follow the tradition of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah and my father, Ali”.

This testament does not mention the formalities that usually form part of the last will made nowadays. On the other hand the Imam wished to clarify his motive. He wanted to tell the people that his movement was not an ordinary one based on human passions and worldly desires. He, therefore, says: I am not going out for merry-making and amusement or to create mischief. I am also not perusing the path of oppression”. He adds: “I have come out to reform the followers of my grandfather”.

These words show that in the year 60 A.H. the Muslim ummah was faced with a dreadful social and religious crisis, which could not be overcome with a severe and bloody revolution. It was a danger that could be faced only by a leader like Husayn bin Ali, whose infallibility has been testified by the Holy Qur’an in the verse of Purification of Surah al-Ahzab (33:33). It was a peril that could not be dealt with by means of speeches and religious sermons.

We end our write up with the dua that may Allah accept our efforts made in the wake of spreading the message of Imam al-Husain(AS) and make all of us his true follower!.

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