There are many scientists (particularly physicists), who, on a scientific basis, conclude that there must be a conscious transcendent being behind creation. If we look at the work of scientists and why they conclude that there is a God, this can help to strengthen our UNDERSTANDING (and not just our faith). The work of Wolfgang Smith is interesting. He is a scientist who has pointed out the philosophical errors that form the basis of today's (mainly post-Enlightenment) science. His books include 'The Quantum Enigma' and 'Cosmos and Transcendence'. It is also useful to explore a range of theodicies (arguments that tackle the question of the suffering of the innocent and the justice of God). For those that argue that there is no life after death: there are millions of anecdotal accounts that testify to people encountering those that have died in one way or another - and these cut across all cultures. There is certainly evidence that some way of existing continues after our bodies have expired. So far I haven't come across good explanations for this by atheists.
Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been teaching for seventeen years through different media, and has also worked in media for ten years, producing and presenting programs for several TV channels.
The Imams have clarified that only Allah (swt) has 'ilm al-ghayb, but when they wish to know something, Allah (swt) makes it known to them, and then it is no longer classified as 'ilm al-ghayb.
In Nahj al-Balāgha, Imam ‘Alī (as) defines 'ilm al-ghayb by beginning with a prediction of the coming of the Mongol invasion of the Muslim world:
‘I can see a people whose faces are like shields covered with rough-scraped skins. They dress themselves in silken and woollen clothes and hold dear excellent horses. Their killing and bloodshed shall take place freely til the wounded shall walk over the dead and the number of runners-away shall be less than those taken prisoner.’ One of his companions said to him, ‘O Amir al-Mu’minīn, you have been given knowledge of hidden things.’ Whereupon Amir al-Mu’minīn laughed and said to the man who belonged to the tribe of Bani Kalb: ‘O brother of Kalb! This is not knowledge of hidden things (‘ilm al-ghayb). These matters have been acquired from him (namely the Prophet) who knew them. As regards knowledge of hidden things, that means knowledge of the Day of Judgment, and matters touched upon by Allah in the verse, ‘Verily, Allah is He with Whom is knowledge of the Hour’ (31:34). Therefore, Allah alone knows what is there in the wombs, whether male or female, ugly or handsome, generous or miserly, mischievous or pious, and who will be fuel for Hell and who will be in the company of the Prophets in Paradise. This is the knowledge of hidden things, which is not known by anybody except Allah. All else is that whose knowledge Allah passed on to his Prophet and he passed it on to me, and prayed for me that my chest may retain it and my ribs may hold it.’ (Sermon 127, p. 304).
This is confirmed by the verse in the Qur’an: ‘(He alone is) the Knower of the Unseen, neither does he reveal His secrets unto any (one else) save unto one of the Messengers that He chooses.’ (72:26-27)
Your male friend asking you to marry him and you saying 'yes' sounds like the proper phrasing for marriage has not been done, since it consists of the woman proposing to the man, saying 'zawwajtuka nafsi 'ala sidaq al-ma'lum', meaning 'I marry myself to you with an agreed mahr'. The man then says 'qabiltu al-tazwij 'ala sidaq al-ma'lum', meaning 'I accept the marriage with the agreed mahr'. Prior to this, you should have both agreed what mahr [marriage gift] he should give you. According to Wikishia: "The Marriage formula should be recited in correct manner. If even one letter is changed in the formula which changes the meaning, the contract will be void."
If this has been fulfilled, then your marriage would technically be valid, but a word should be said about the issue of 'technically fulfilling the law' while not fulfilling its spirit. Marriages can often be contracted that do not in practice honour the respect of either party. Being technically married Islamically does not guarantee that the situation itself supports that respect. It is wise to be wary of being exploited or manipulated, or coerced into a situation that is not beneficial or appropriate for you in the long term. Being asked over the phone raises doubts about whether you are being given the proper respect, even if it were a long distance proposal.
It depends on what you mean by 'judge'. If it were impermissible to judge others, there would be no judiciary, and no criminals would be brought to court and justice would not be done for victims of crimes. There is a fine line between being bigoted or prejudiced, and using what insight Allah (swt) has blessed you with to assess people. There are many ahadith about the necessity for choosing your spouse carefully or choosing your friends carefully. This requires a judgement of someone's personality. If we did not judge at all, then people could have criminals for friends and non-believers for spouses. Children would be raised with no moral compass and would be allowed to do whatever they wanted because the parents would feel they were judging them if they tried to establish boundaries for them. When seeking knowledge, a person would not 'judge' between good teachers and bad teachers, and would simply go to anybody to try to study. If by 'judge' you mean 'condemn someone without evidence', then that is not permissible; or even if someone is a criminal, maybe we should not look down on them and think we are superior to them, because we don't know what their circumstances were in life that led them to commit crimes. Nevertheless, they must still pay for their crimes. However, some people are deliberately malicious and have evil intentions towards others. If others forgive their evil actions and evil intentions because they think they are 'judging' them, then this allows corruption to prevail.
Do you mean his own works, or other people's commentary on his works? His books on Islamic Philosophy are available in pdf. En Islam Iranien is only partially translated into English. There are various websites that list his publications.
If you have free time these days then you are blessed. Free time can be used for reflection, contemplation, reading and studying, following a fitness routine, improving one's Arabic and Persian, writing, visiting the elderly and sick, working towards a goal, which is to learn this tradition and teach it inshaAllah.
There are narrations in both Sunni and Shi'i collections that say that this ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, with only one being saved, i.e. 'the jama'a'. This has been interpreted to mean 'the majority' by Sunni scholars, whereas Imam 'Ali (as) has said that 'the jama'a' are those who follow the truth, even if they are few. This means that, even among the Shi'a, not all will necessarily be among the jama'a. Imam al-Baqir (as) has said 'the fitna is inevitable'. The Qur'an talks about previous generations that attacked their prophets and became divided over their message. There are many reasons for divisions to occur, but one key reason seems to have been for the Arabs to overcome their tribal pride and accept Imam 'Ali (as) as the successor. The Jews and Christians also hid parts of their prophets' messages or changed them, because they thought that their worldly position was jeopardised by challenging aspects of these messages. People are often happy to accept the message as long as they can maintain their worldly status and comforts.
Slavery exists today as it has existed in the past. Slavery exists in Western countries as well as Eastern countries. In Mauritania there is still a pre-modern system of slavery, with children being born into slavery. Those that campaign against it often risk their lives. In Pakistan children are enslaved, or at least indentured, which is virtually the same, in the carpet making business. The children that have campaigned against it have been killed. In Afghanistan children as young as three work long hours in brick kilns carrying bricks. In India, children work in the mica mines. In Africa, children work in mines also. In the Gulf, kidnapped boys are enslaved to work as camel jockeys. They are very often molested by their owners. There is a sad story of a boy from Pakistan who was sold as a camel jockey by his father who wanted the money for alcohol. Maids from the Philippines have their passports confiscated. Today, freeing a slave is not going to be as simple as making a credit card payment. It would mean contacting organisations that campaign against slavery, or else approaching actual business people who have control over their enslaved workers and offering to actually pay for one their slaves so that you can set that person free. Some people do that. It can be ethically controversial because it may imply a perpetuation of the slave trade, but maybe on these occasions the actual liberation of a child from a life of slavery, beatings and molestations is more important.
In the early period, the word 'shi'a' was understood simply to mean 'follower'. Hence there were those known as the shi 'a of Mu'awiya, the shi'a of 'Uthman and the shi'a of 'Ali [as]. In the early period there was fierce debate as to who could be categorised as a Shi'a of 'Ali [as]. Sunnis who considered him superior to the first three khulafa were known as Shi'a of 'Ali. Due to propaganda and war, any such slight inclination towards Imam Ali [as] could mean being accused of being one his Shi'a. From the persepective of the Imams, their Shi'a were those that were utterly trustworthy, and intelligent enough to imbibe their teachings. People who simply loved the Imams were generally known as 'lovers and supporters' and were appreciated by the Imams, but could be of little use to them because of their lack of capacity to imbibe knowledge and be absolutely trustworthy. There is a narration of Imam al-Sadiq [as] that says '‘a simple profession of love for us (walayah) does not turn a person into a follower (shi‘a), rather those who profess love simply diminish the solitude of our followers.’ (Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 3)
In Usul al-Kafi Vol. 1 (available from WOFIS in Iran), Imam 'Ali (as) explains that the decree is not finalised until the actual moment that it is brought into existence. Up until that time, there is room for the decree to be changed, or withheld. It is a key teaching from the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that you can have a living and dynamic relationship with Allah (swt) and that du'a, as well as other actions, can alter what is decreed. I know of the expression in the Middle East where they say 'the name of your spouse is written on your forehead', which sounds like an unchangeable destiny, but through du'a you may change that name.
www.duas.org has many for this. 'La hawla wa la quwwata 'illa billah' x 100 every day is good. There is also a powerful du'a from this website, as follows:
يَا قَاهِرُ يَا قَهَّارُ يَا ذَا الْبَطْشِ الشَّدِيْدِ اَنْتَ الَّذِىْ لاَ يُطَاقُ انْتِقَامَهُ
yaa qaahiru yaa qahhaaru yaa dhal bat’shish shadeedi antal ladhi laa yut’aaqu intiqaamah.
“O forceful, O powerful. O One with a severe might You are the One whose retaliation none could bear.”
After this, you blow in the direction of your enemy.
People have always sought to arrange people into groups and to declare which are correct or not correct, or orthodox or not orthodox. First of all, what do you mean by 'orthodox'? Secondly, the Usuli and Akhbari both accuse each other of heterodoxy. Both are Twelver Shi'a. The Shaykhis are Twelver Shi'a and the Ni'matullahis are Sufis and are also Twelver Shi'a, except that one branch of the Ni'matullahis praises 'Umar ibn al-Khattab. Much Sufism that developed among the Shi'a during the medieval period incorporated elements of the Sunni Sufi silsilas, yet practitioners of that Sufism would consider themselves to be Twelver Shi'a. There are different 'Alawi groups - so which ones are you referring to? In the early period, the name 'Alawi was just another name for the Shi 'a of 'Ali [as]; the term 'Alawi also came to be use for the descendents of Abu Talib's [ra] household; there are also Sunni 'Alawis descended from Imam al-Hasan [as]. You say which ones are correct and by what criteria: correct from what perspective? A Sunni perspective? A Shi'i perspective? A secular perspective? Please clarify.