Mahmood Abu Maryam

Trying to make sense of it all...

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There is a supplication from Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (a) related to ill health.

His Supplication when Sick or Visited by Distress or an Affliction

1- O God, to Thee belongs praise
for the good health of my body
which lets me move about,
and to Thee belongs praise,
for the ailments
which Thou causest to arise in my flesh!

2- For I know not, my God,
which of the two states deserves more my thanking Thee
and which of the two times is more worthy for my praise of Thee:

3- the time of health,
within which Thou makest me delight in the agreeable things of Thy provision,
through which Thou givest me the joy to seek
the means to Thy good pleasure and bounty,
and by which Thou strengthenest me
for the acts of obedience
which Thou hast given me success to accomplish;

4- or the time of illness
through which Thou puttest me to the test
and bestowest upon me favours:
lightening of the offenses
that weigh down my back,
purification of the evil deeds
into which I have plunged,
incitement to reach for repentance,
reminder of the erasure of misdeeds through ancient favour;

5- and, through all that, what the two writers write for me:
blameless acts,
which no heart had thought,
no tongue had uttered,
and no limb had undertaken,
rather, as Thy bestowal of bounty upon me
and the beneficence of Thy benefaction toward me.1

6- O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
make me love what Thou hast approved for me,
make easy for me what Thou hast sent down upon me,
purify me of the defilement of what I have sent ahead,
erase the evil of what I have done beforehand,
let me find the sweetness of well-being,
let me taste the coolness of safety,
and appoint for me
a way out from my illness to Thy pardon,
transformation of my infirmity into Thy forbearance,
escape from my distress to Thy refreshment,
and safety from this hardship in Thy relief!

7- Thou art gratuitously bountiful in beneficence,
ever gracious in kindness,
the Generous, the Giver,
Possessor of majesty and munificence!

Source https://www.al-islam.org/sahifa-al-kamilah-al-sajjadiyya-imam-ali-zayn-a...

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Imagine a gang of thieves that was planning to rob a bank in the dead of night as they were aware that it had recently received delivery of some gold bullion.

Another gang, smaller and less powerful, finds out about their plans and seeks to pre-empt them by reaching the bank earlier in order to raid it first.

Whoever steals the gold first will keep it, right?

When the first gang finds out, they rush to the bank to find their rivals about to make their plunder.

They attempt to stop them. The second gang, seeing that they are going to lose to this stronger gang, offer to divide the goods 50-50.

The first gang does not agree to the deal and wants everything for itself.

There is a gunshot and one of their rival gang members is killed.

The powerful gang triumphs and walks away with their loot.

Here is the question: would you expect, in that moment, for either of the gangs to be discussing who the gold bullion actually and rightfully belonged to?

I leave you with the narrative on what transpired at Saqifa Bani Sa'ida from Sahih al-Bukhari in the words of one of the participants, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, who famously explained how Abu Bakr came to power when he feared that people were planning to give allegiance to ‘Ali after him:

(O people!) I have been informed that a speaker amongst you says, 'By Allah, if `Umar should die, I will give the pledge of allegiance to such-and-such person.'

One should not deceive oneself by saying that the pledge of allegiance given to Abu Bakr was given suddenly and it was successful. No doubt, it was like that, but Allah saved (the people) from its evil, and there is none among you who has the qualities of Abu Bakr.

Remember that whoever gives the pledge of allegiance to anybody among you without consulting the other Muslims, neither that person, nor the person to whom the pledge of allegiance was given, are to be supported, lest they both should be killed.

And no doubt after the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa`da.

`Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.

I said to Abu Bakr, 'Let's go to these Ansari brothers of ours.' So we set out seeking them, and when we approached them, two pious men of theirs met us and informed us of the final decision of the Ansar, and said, 'O group of Muhajirin (emigrants) ! Where are you going?' We replied, 'We are going to these Ansari brothers of ours.'

They said to us, 'You shouldn't go near them. Carry out whatever we have already decided.'

I said, 'By Allah, we will go to them.' And so we proceeded until we reached them at the shed of Bani Sa`da. Behold! There was a man sitting amongst them and wrapped in something. I asked, 'Who is that man?' They said, 'He is Sa`d bin 'Ubada.' I asked, 'What is wrong with him?' They said, 'He is sick.'

After we sat for a while, the Ansar's speaker said, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and praising Allah as He deserved, he added, 'To proceed, we are Allah's Ansar (helpers) and the majority of the Muslim army, while you, the emigrants, are a small group and some people among you came with the intention of preventing us from practicing this matter (of caliphate) and depriving us of it.'

When the speaker had finished, I intended to speak as I had prepared a speech which I liked and which I wanted to deliver in the presence of Abu Bakr, and I used to avoid provoking him. So, when I wanted to speak, Abu Bakr said, 'Wait a while.' I disliked to make him angry.

So Abu Bakr himself gave a speech, and he was wiser and more patient than I. By Allah, he never missed a sentence that I liked in my own prepared speech, but he said the like of it or better than it spontaneously.

After a pause he said, 'O Ansar! You deserve all (the qualities that you have attributed to yourselves, but this question (of Caliphate) is only for the Quraish as they are the best of the Arabs as regards descent and home, and I am pleased to suggest that you choose either of these two men, so take the oath of allegiance to either of them as you wish.

And then Abu Bakr held my hand and Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah's hand who was sitting amongst us. I hated nothing of what he had said except that proposal, for by Allah, I would rather have my neck chopped off as expiator for a sin than become the ruler of a nation, one of whose members is Abu Bakr, unless at the time of my death my own-self suggests something I don't feel at present.'

And then one of the Ansar said, 'I am the pillar on which the camel with a skin disease (eczema) rubs itself to satisfy the itching (i.e., I am a noble), and I am as a high class palm tree! O Quraish. There should be one ruler from us and one from you.' Then there was a hue and cry among the gathering and their voices rose so that I was afraid there might be great disagreement, so I said, 'O Abu Bakr! Hold your hand out.' He held his hand out and I pledged allegiance to him, and then all the emigrants gave the Pledge of allegiance and so did the Ansar afterwards.

And so we became victorious over Sa`d bin Ubada (whom Al-Ansar wanted to make a ruler).

One of the Ansar said, 'You have killed Sa`d bin Ubada.' I replied, 'Allah has killed Sa`d bin Ubada.'

`Umar added, "By Allah, apart from the great tragedy that had happened to us (i.e. the death of the Prophet), there was no greater problem than the allegiance pledged to Abu Bakr because we were afraid that if we left the people, they might give the Pledge of allegiance after us to one of their men, in which case we would have given them our consent for something against our real wish, or would have opposed them and caused great trouble. So if any person gives the Pledge of allegiance to somebody (to become a Caliph) without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed."

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)

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I had written a detailed response on Quora analysing this explanation that is advanced to explain the event of Ghadir Khumm. It is reproduced below.

For this response I’d like to examine the favourite context that is used to explain away the importance of Ghadir Khumm as simply a way to respond to unhappy soldiers from the Yemen expedition who were upset with ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

I consider it a pseudo-context and so would like to title the rest of my analysis as:

THE CASE OF THE YEMENI RED HERRING

My assertion, that I shall try and prove below, is that Yemeni Unhappiness and Ghadir Khumm were two entirely different matters that have been conflated to create this pseudo-context.

I’d like to bring forth some case studies of Companion unhappiness, the way the Prophet (s) dealt with it, and then draw a comparison and some conclusions.

Unhappiness Case Study 1

Narrated Anas bin Malik: When Allah favored His Apostle with the properties of Hawazin tribe as Fai (booty), he started giving to some Quarries men even up to one-hundred camels each, whereupon some Ansari men said about Allah's Apostle, "May Allah forgive His Apostle! He is giving to (men of) Quraish and leaves us, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dropping blood (of the infidels)"

When Allah's Apostle was informed of what they had said, he called the Ansar and gathered them in a leather tent and did not call anybody else along with them.

When they gathered, Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "What is the statement which, I have been informed, and that which you have said?" The learned ones among them replied,"

O Allah's Apostle! The wise ones amongst us did not say anything, but the youngsters amongst us said, 'May Allah forgive His Apostle; he gives the Quarish and leaves the Ansar, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dribbling (wet) with the blood of the infidels.' "

Allah's Apostle replied, I give to such people as are still close to the period of Infidelity (i.e. they have recently embraced Islam and Faith is still weak in their hearts). Won't you be pleased to see people go with fortune, while you return with Allah's Apostle to your houses? By Allah, what you will return with, is better than what they are returning with."

The Ansar replied, "Yes, O Allah's Apostle, we are satisfied' Then the Prophet said to them." You will find after me, others being preferred to you. Then be patient till you meet Allah and meet His Apostle at Al-Kauthar (i.e. a fount in Paradise)." (Anas added:) But we did not remain patient.

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 53, Number 375

Here are the key take-aways from this example:

  • It is also about dispute over war booty where some Ansari Companions openly challenged the Prophet (s) accusing him of nepotism
  • When the Prophet (s) hears about it,
    • He gathers them privately in a tent
    • He does not call anybody else along with them
    • He then allows them to have their say, and he listens to them
    • After hearing that, he gives his own explanation

Unhappiness Case Study 2

"Az-Zubair told me that he quarrelled with an Ansari man who had participated in (the battle of) Badr in front of Allah's Apostle about a water stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Apostle said to Az-Zubair, "O Zubair! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor." The Ansari became angry and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Is it because he is your cousin?"

On that the complexion of Allah's Apostle changed (because of anger) and said (to Az-Zubair), "Irrigate (your garden) and then with-hold the water till it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms)." So, Allah's Apostle gave Az-Zubair his full right. Before that Allah's Apostle had given a generous judgment beneficial for Az-Zubair and the Ansari, but when the Ansari irritated Allah's Apostle he gave Az-Zubair his full right according to the evident law. Az-Zubair said, "By Allah ! I think the following Verse was revealed concerning that case: "But no by your Lord They can have No faith Until they make you judge In all disputes between them." (4.65)"

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari (English translation), volume 3, book 49, number 871

Let’s see what happened in this example:

  • Al-Zubayr b. 'Awwam is a cousin of the Prophet (s), just like 'Ali. An Ansari Badri, i.e. very senior Companion, has a conflict with al-Zubayr. They come to the Prophet (s) for resolution and the Prophet (s) gives a ruling.
  • The Ansari Companion is not happy, and accuses the Prophet (s) of nepotism by saying "Is it because he is your cousin?"
  • The complexion of the Prophet's face changes, due to anger.
  • In this conflict resolution, we notice that the Prophet (s)
    • Talks to them privately as the only parties to the conflict
    • He does not call anybody else along with them
    • He allows them to have their say, and he listens to them
    • After hearing that, he gives his ruling that directly correlated to the issue at hand

Unhappiness Case Study 3

Narrated Burayda:

The Prophet sent 'Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated Ali, and 'Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, "Don't you see this (i.e. Ali)?" When we reached the Prophet I mentioned that to him. He said, "O Burayda! Do you hate Ali?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumus."

Source - Sahih Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 59, Number 637

Can you see the consistency of the Prophet (s)? A private meeting with just the concerned person(s) and his (s) words clarified the context of complaint and responded to it.

From other narrations in Sahih Bukhari and al-Tabari etc. we know that Khalid b. al-Walid had earlier been sent to Yemen in 9 AH and then ‘Ali was sent to replace him a few months before the hajj in the month of Ramadan. And ‘Ali then joined the hajj directly from Yemen in Dhu’l hijja of 10 AH.

This narration shows that Burayda accompanied Khalid back to Medina. Notice the “When we reached the Prophet” in the narration. Clearly he didn't like to stay on under the command of someone he hated.

So this meeting of Burayda with the Prophet (s) was most likely in Madina before he even set out for the hajj journey and probably many months before it.

Was There A Burayda Meeting At Ghadir Khumm?

However, there exist another set of narrations from Burayda, where he is again complaining about ‘Ali, but this time the Prophet (s) responds differently.

From Ibn Abbas, who in turn reported Burayda as saying:

‘I was together with Ali in the invasion of Yemen wherein he once treated me harshly. So when I got back to the Messenger of Allah - peace and salutation of Allah be upon him - I mentioned 'Ali and diminished his personality. Accordingly, I observed a change in the expression of the Messenger of Allah - peace and salutation of Allah be upon him - and he thus remarked:

‘O' Burayda! Have I not a greater claim [mastery] on the believers than they have on themselves?

I responded: Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah. He then asserted: ‘Of whosoever I am the master (mawla) then Ali is his master (master).’

Source - Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal, vol. 5, p. 347

But this one seems very relevant to Ghadir Khumm since it contains the man kuntu mawlahu fa ‘Ali mawlahu statement. So let’s examine it some more.

Here are the facts gleaned from examining all the narrations from Burayda b. Husayb that mention the man kuntu mawlahu declaration of the Prophet (s):

  • Burayda b. Husayb is one out of 110 Companions who narrated the man kuntu mawlahu narration in Sunni sources.
  • None of these narrations, on Burayda’s authority, mention Ghadir Khumm (or al-Juhfa) as the location.
  • None of the man kuntu mawlahu narrations from the any of the other 109 Companions mention Yemen at all.
  • None of the man kuntu mawlahu narrations from the any of the other 109 Companions mention any unhappiness of anyone whatsoever on any topic whatsoever.

So it seems that this second instance of Burayda’s backbiting of ‘Ali in the presence of the Prophet (s) was not at Ghadir Khumm but was a separate event, most likely in Medina but this time after his return from the hajj. This is because the Prophet (s) was repeating something he had already mentioned at Ghadir Khumm as a reminder of ‘Ali’s position.

He also got agitated with Burayda, unlike the first time when he had complained months ago.

Recall, from earlier above, that Burayda had already complained once to the Prophet (s) about ‘Ali on his return from Yemen along with Khalid b. al-Walid in 9 AH, and the Prophet (s) had given a different response then without signs of anger.

What About Those Other Unhappy Yemeni Soldiers?

There is no clarity in any of the sources on how many people were unhappy with ‘Ali in the matter of the Yemeni spoils.

So let’s try and do an estimate.

  • The total number of soldiers sent with 'Ali, from Medina, was probably around 300 as mentioned in al-Sirah al-Halabiyya, Nur al-Din al-Halabi al-Shafi’i, under the section Expedition of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib towards the land of Manhaj
  • Some of the Companions returned to Medina along with Khalid b. al-Walid whom 'Ali was replacing.
  • If Yemen was largely converted by the time 'Ali left to join the hajj (as confirmed by historical sources), it stands to reason that there would also be Yemeni soldiers amongst the Muslim army. After all, why would you not allow local soldiers with local knowledge to join your own forces, when they have adopted Islam? And with the vast area of Yemen under Islam, you would need to have local Yemeni soldiers who will also join you in any skirmishes with the remaining Yemeni's who refuse jizya and fight the Muslims.
  • In any case, the unhappy soldiers were in all likelihood very few in number, a handful.

Could some of these Yemeni soldiers have been amongst the unhappy soldiers? It is quite possible, as we do not know for a fact that it was only Medinan soldiers.

Even if the Yemeni soldiers were not involved, if a scene had been created by the complainers in front of them, based on booty arising in Yemen, it would stand to reason that the issue resolution also involved them so that there were no misunderstandings later.

So what happened next?

Timing Of Ghadir Khumm And The Yemeni Red Herring

The perfect time for giving an address to deal with Yemeni unhappiness would have been during the hajj days.

Narrated Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari : Allah's Apostle said, "It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first."

Source - Sahih Al Bukhari - Book of Good Manners And Form (Al-Adab) Volume 008, Book 073, Hadith Number 100

If we assume that the Sunni narrative is true, why would the Prophet (s) wait for 18th Dhu’l hijja, the date of the Ghadir Khumm event, before clarifying this major misunderstanding about 'Ali, a major Companion of the Prophet (s)? Surely he found out about it as soon as 'Ali and his troops arrived from Yemen for the hajj.

The best time to resolve the conflict would have been as soon as the complaints were made, and in Makka itself.

In light of the hadith quoted just above, how could the Prophet (s) have happily continued with the rites of hajj knowing that some of his Companions festered ill-will against 'Ali, and not try and resolve it as soon as possible?

Location Of Ghadir Khumm And The Yemeni Red Herring

There is this misconception that the Shi’a say that everyone continued to Ghadir Khumm before going their own way. Well, I have never said that for the same logical reason that it is simply silly.

You cannot expect hujjaj from areas south of Makka to travel quite a distance the wrong direction towards Ghadir Khumm and then turn back. At least I have never accepted that and seen no evidence of that in the sources.

So here’s the thing.

Yemen is south of Makka!

Any affected soldiers from Yemen would have already returned to their hometown directly from the hajj.

Furthermore, the crowd at Ghadir Khumm that had around 100-120,000 people, whilst missing the Yemenis, included many people who were from towns nearby to Medina. They were not just purely Medinan people as this narration from Sahih Muslim shows.

"As the caravan moved on the number of participants swelled till, according to some of the narrators, it reached more than one lakh and thirty thousands. The Farewell Pilgrimage is one of the most important occasions in the sacred life of Muhammad (May peace be upon him)."

Source - Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 2802

Why would the Prophet (s) choose to stop all those 110-120k people, with no relevance to the episode of unhappiness, as a belated reaction to the complaints of a handful of soldiers?

Why would you stop a hajj caravan of that magnitude, who are tired after days of a very physically demanding 'ibada, who have just heard several sermons by the Prophet (s) during the days of hajj, including his major Arafa address, and give them yet another sermon - just because a handful of pathetic people developed rancour in their hearts for 'Ali?

And why does that sermon - in narrations that specify Ghadir Khumm or the area of al-Juhfa as the location and on the authority of 109 Companions of the Prophet (s) - make no mention of that bitterness whatsoever? Every other conflict resolution, as we saw, involved a mention of the problem.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, this would be completely against the established method of dealing with complaints as practiced by the Prophet (s).

Sermon At Ghadir Khumm

Having discussed the Yemeni Red Herring, I’d like to end my response with one narration of the Ghadir Khumm event that is confirmed sahih according to Bukhari and Muslim.

Read it and tell me if you still honestly think this was about unhappy Yemeni soldiers!

[Al-Hakim al-Naysaburi says:] ... from Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, who said:

"The Messenger of Allah (s) while returning from his Last Hajj came down at Ghadir Khumm and ordered (us) towards the big trees, and the ground underneath them was swept.

"Then he said, 'I am about to answer the call (of death).

Verily, I have left behind two precious things amongst you, one of which is greater than the other. The Book of Allah, the Exalted, and my 'itrah (i.e. Ahl al-bayt). So watch out how you treat these two after me, for verily they will not separate from each other until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.'

Then he said 'Verily, Allah, the Almighty and the Glorious, is my master (mawla) and I am the master (mawla) of every believer.'

Then he took 'Ali, may God be pleased with him, by the hand and said, 'This ('Ali) is the master of whomever I am his master. O God, love whoever loves him and be the enemy of his enemy.'"

[Al­-Hakim adds:] "This hadith is sahih in accordance with the conditions of sihhah laid down by the Shaykhayn (al­-Bukhari and Muslim), although they have not recorded it in its full length.

Source - al-Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, Haydarabad: Da'irat al-ma`arif al-nizamiyyah (4 vols), 1334-42 AH vol. 3, p. 109

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It is the consensus of the Shi'a scholars that there is no distortion in the Qur'an. You can read more about this topic in the article below that gives references to the statements of a variety of scholars.

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/beliefs-do-shiah-believe-different-quran

A famous scholar Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i has a detailed discussion around this topic in his book that you can also go through for a more in-depth treatment of this subject.

https://www.al-islam.org/al-bayan-fi-tafsir-al-quran-prolegomena-quran-ayatullah-sayyid-abulqasim-al-khui/7-protection-quran

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There are plenty of books written by Shia scholars who have explained in detail the evidence for all the matters in which the Shia have a different view compared to their Sunni brethren.

You can find many of them on this site. For instance you can start by exploring material listed under the following topic:

https://www.al-islam.org/tags/sunni-shia

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Perhaps you are referring to the practice in the Shia community of combining the Zuhr and Asr prayers and the Maghrib with Isha prayers.

This is considered permitted on account of abundant evidence in the Islamic sources that the Prophet (s) had combined these prayers without any special reason.

You can read more about this topic here:

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/laws-and-practices-why-do-shiah-combine-prayers

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Eid is determined and celebrated based on the present location of a Muslim, not according to the sighting of the moon in the town where they were born or have a permanent home.

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The Prophet (s) used to pray on earth and is also reported to have shown reverence towards the soil of Karbala in his lifetime with the foreknowledge of what would happen upon it.

So although it is not compulsory for the Shia to pray on a turba made from the soil of Karbala, it is considered meritorious to do so.

You can read more details with full references here:

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/laws-and-practices-why-do-shiah-prostrate-turbah

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You will find much material on this site on the topic of the Ahl al-bayt (a).

Check out this link to see a list of books, articles and videos:

https://www.al-islam.org/tags/ahl-al-bayt

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It is important to remember that people have always had choices. That is the reason why we hold those accountable who committed misdeeds, because they chose to do so. They were not born to play the part of villains.

It is not as if God had determined that Fadak must be usurped and that someone must be created who will do so.

It is also not the case that God had determined that a wife of the Prophet (s) must fight Imam 'Ali (a) and so she was put out there in the world of creation to fulfil that role.

Think of it this way. It was entirely possible for the first caliph and his daughter not to commit the misdeeds that they did. So why ought they have been punished before they could even be tested with that choice?

Did not Abu Bakr have another child, and Ayesha a brother, who was the most devoted Shi'a of Imam 'Ali (a) and fought against his own sister in defence of Imam 'Ali?

He was not predestined to be the good person in a pre-planned drama, like some kind of an angelic robot. He also made choices in his life. And so we remember him with affection and praise.

I believe that the nature of knowledge given by God to the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) must be understood with the above in mind.