Rebecca Masterton

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.

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 1 year ago

Islamically, a marriage is not valid if you have not voluntarily given your consent. The legitimacy of forced marriage is not recognised in Islam; rather you have undergone an injustice for which you are entitled to hold accountable those that forced you into the marriage. If you are not in a position to hold them accountable in this life, you will be able to do that in the next life, at the time of the settling of accounts. The Holy Prophet (s) said that in the next world 'you will be with those that you love.'  

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answer updated 1 year ago

Al-Hujwīrī quotes one Abū Husayn Nūrī (d. 294 AH/907 CE), who said, ‘Al-Sufi alladhī lā yamlik wa-lā yumlak’: ‘The Sufi is he that has owns nothing nor is himself owned (possessed) by anything.’ (‘Alī b. ‘Uthmān al-Jullabī al-Hujwīrī, Kashf al-Maḥjūb,trans. Reynold A. Nicholson, Wiltshire: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2000, p.37)

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answer updated 1 year ago

Analysis of the texts shows that Sufism as a recognised movement, which began to be consolidated under the Sunni Shafi'i Junayd al-Baghdadi, started to take shape during the minor occultation. Even the earliest famous Sufis, such as Sahl al-Tustari (from Shushtar, Iran) and Bayazid Bastami, were from this era. The time of the Minor Occultation and beyond saw an explosion and proliferation of occult (hidden) and mystical movements. The Isma'ili movement also started during this time.

Many Sufi doctrines were copied and pasted from Imami Shi'ism, such as the concept of the walayah of the saint/wali of God (borrowed almost word-for-word from the concept of the walayah of the Imam). In addition to concepts and practices arising from Imami (Twelver) Shi'ism, other concepts also most likely entered Sufi culture, such as that of fana' fi-llah (ecstatic annihiliation in God). This could come from the Greek concept of henosis, which existed in the Neoplatonic tradition.

Most of the well-known Sufis were technically Sunni (even if people claim that Sufism has no madhhab. You can test that out by asking anyone who considers themselves Sufi what they think of the first three khulafa). The question arises therefore, from a Shi'i perspective: why did these 'great Sufis' not recognise the imamate of the Imam of their time? Why did they choose an alternative route? Why do Sufi orders focus on the adhkar and practices of their founders, but not on those of the Imams?

Some strains of Sufism, such as that of Mansur al-Hallaj (executed during the Minor Occultation), also play around with theology; for example, Hallaj championed Iblis and Pharoah, claiming that they were in fact true monotheists, and were simply 'annihilated in God' and were therefore victims of their perfect love for God. This directly contradicts what the Qur'an says about Iblis and Pharaoh, and what the Imams have said also. This kind of Sufism challenged the 'conventional' ideas of tawhid and espoused the idea that true tawhid is when it is realised that there is no difference between the Lover (the human) and the Beloved (God). There is no evidence in the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to support this. In the School of Ahl al-Bayt (as), of course love and intimacy with God are encouraged, but the idea of merging the identity with God's identity most likely originates from India, or, as I said, from the Neoplatonic tradition.

With regard to the tariqas themselves, close scrutiny of their chains up to the time of their eponymous founders during the early medieval period (12th-13th centuries CE) reveals inconsistencies and illogicalities, which indicate that they have been fabricated. Sufis were under intense pressure from the authorities to justify their beliefs and practices, and most likely borrowed the idea of a chain of saints from the Imami Shi'i school - or else from many of the other spiritual movements of the region that also had chains of initiation as a way of trying to prove their legitimacy.

The Naqshbandi Order's chain effectively espouses the idea that Imam al-Sadiq (as) 'inherited' knowledge from Abu Bakr. (Does that really make sense, when al-Sadiq's (as) forefather was Imam Ali (as)?) It also claims that Bayazid Bastami was Imam al-Sadiq's (as) water carrier and inherited knowledge from Imam al-Sadiq (as), but Imam al-Sadiq (as) had already passed away 150 years before Bayazid Bastami lived. The Chishti Order claims that Hasan al-Basri inherited knowledge from Imam 'Ali (as), but if you read the book 'Between Myth and History' by Suleiman Ali Mourad, you can see the extent to which the person of Hasan al-Basri was fabricated by different schools of thought. Who he really was, we don't know. He worked for the Umayyads, and never supported Imam Ali (as) once Imam Ali (as) had departed for Kufa. Many Sufis also had close ties to the governments of their time, such as 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani (Gilani), who taught in Baghdad.

The best thing to do is to study Sufism and the orders while bearing in mind the historical, social and political context of the era. Overall, Sufi Orders are Sunni and go as far as denouncing the Shi'a. One order, the Kubrawiyya, did split, and one branch became Shi'a, hence why texts from the Kubrawiyya Order are taught as part of the 'irfani tradition in Iran. Nevertheless, the roots of the Kubrawiyya are technically Sunni. 

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 1 year ago

We are meant to be the guardians of the earth, showing mercy, especially to innocent animals. We have a duty to care for them. Therefore, even if you became najis after rescuing the animal, this is of lesser importance than showing mercy and humanity towards a sentient being that is suffering. You can easily become tahir again by purifying yourself after touching the animal.

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answer updated 1 year ago

The speech of Imam al-Ridha (as) in Usul al-Kafi Vol. 1 helps to outline how Imama is established by the Qur'an.

This is a link to it, plus some other extracts from other volumes:

https://onlineshiastudies.com/imamateinquran/

The appointment of a successor was entirely in keeping with 'Allah's Sunna':

There are several verses in the Holy Qur’an that mention the Sunnah, or the Way of Allah, as follows:‘That was the Sunnah of Allah in the case of those who lived before and there will never be any change in the Sunnah of Allah.’ (Surah al-Ahzab, 33:62); ‘{Such was Our) Sunnah in the case of those whom We sent before you {to mankind), and you will never find change in Our Sunnah.’ (Surah BaniIsrail, 17:77); ‘Had the disbelievers fought against you, they would take to flight and would have found no guardian or helper. This is the Sunnah of Allah which existed before you, and you will never find any change in Allah's system’ (Surah al-Fath, 48:23); ‘[Due to] arrogance in the land and plotting of evil; but the evil plot does not encompass except its own people. Then do they await except the way of the former peoples? But you will never find in the Sunnah of Allah any change, and you will never find in the way of Allah any alteration.’ (35:43); ‘Their faith could not avail against Our punishment. Such is Allah's prevailing Sunnah (law) among His servants in the past. Thus the disbelievers are ruined.’ (Surah Mumin, 40:85).

As Dr Ibrahim Ayati explains in regard to these verses, ‘Whenever the word Sunnah has been used in the Holy Qur'an it has been used in this very literal meaning i.e. the manner in which Allah has treated the past nations. And whenever Allah says that His Sunnah is unalterable it means that there is a path for attaining to dignity and honor and He does not change it, and there is also a path and ground which leads to adversity and helplessness and that, too, is unalterable.’

The path for attaining dignity and honour is that revealed by the prophets and supported and explained by the Imams of the prophets.  This Sunnah, the sending of prophets accompanied by their supporters and successors, can be seen going all the way back to Adam [whose supporter and successor would have been Habil/Abel]. If we take a look at the prophetic lineage, we can see this.
Scholars provide an approximate outline of this lineage: ‘Adam [and his wasiy] Seth/Abel/Hibat Allah; then Noah and [his wasiy] Shem; Solomon and [his wasiy] Asaf ibn Barakhiya; Ibrahim and his succeeding awsiya Isma’il and Ishaq; Moses and his awsiya Harun and Joshua; Isa and his awsiya Simon; John and the apostles; Prophet Muhammad and his awsiya Imam 'Ali (as) and the other eleven Imams.’ (Amir-Moezzi, Shi‘ i Spirituality, p. 289).

At no time in prophetic history has a prophet not clearly stipulated his successor, and the appointment of a successor is an unchanging part of the prophetic sunnah and the Sunnah of Allah (swt).

Seth means "placed; appointed". In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he was the third son of Adam and Eve and brother of Cain and Abel. According to Genesis 4:25, Seth was born after Abel's murder, and Eve believed God had appointed him as a replacement for Abel.]

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 1 year ago

Some Muslims argue that only Allah knows the unseen, and that to claim that a human being, such as the Prophet and Imams (as) knows the unseen is shirk (associating partners with God).  However, this accusation arises from a misunderstanding of what constitutes as ‘knowledge of the unseen’ (‘ilm al-ghayb).  Here in Nahj al-Balāgha, Imam ‘Alī (as) defines it, 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)
 

Elsewhere in al-Kafi, the Imams clarify that only Allah (swt) knows the unseen, but when He wishes for them to know something, then He makes it known to them. Once it is made known, it is no longer classified as 'knowledge of the unseen ('ilm al-ghayb).'

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answer updated 1 year ago

Here is a link to an extensive document on the details of the fiqh of hijab:

https://onlineshiastudies.com/fiqhonhijab/

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 2 years ago

It comes down to different methods of sighting. Sayyid Sistani says that the moon has to be sighted with the naked eye; Sayyid Khamenei rules that using a telescope is permissible. Astronomists also say that technically the new moon starts before it can be seen by either of these, but generally the ruling is that it has to be sighted.

Another issue is the 'sharing of the same night'. This method used to be used. I.e. if a region shares a night, then the declaring of the moon from one part of that region would apply to all. This is now no longer being used as a criterion. Instead, Sayyid Sistani and Sayyid Khamenei say that you must follow your local horizon, so usually the moon can be seen in Southern Europe before it can in Northern Europe; hence, Spain will have Eid one day earlier than England. 

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 2 years ago

Abuse can run in families, so maybe there are other family members that are also abusive. You need to research personality types, e.g. psychopathic, sociopathic, covert narcissist, overt narcissist in order to better understand how to respond to the abuse. Most experts advise practicing 'grey rock', learning not to rise to goads and provocations, and distancing oneself (as far as going 'no contact', which is permissible if you are being harmed.) Unfortunately it is very hard to get abusers to reform. It is not your job to do that. Youtube now has thousands of videos that advise people on how to deal with abuse. A systematic and detailed study of this from an Islamic perspective still needs to be made.

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answer updated 2 years ago

There is a narration from 'A'isha that says that Holy Prophet (s) died with his head in her lap, however, according to narrations in Usul al-Kafi, Volume 1, and also other Sunni narrations, the Holy Prophet (s) died with his head in the lap of Imam 'Ali (as). Imam 'Ali narrates this, saying that the Holy Prophet (s) kept on whispering to him and passing on knowledge. He 'opened a thousand gates, each of which opened another thousand gates.' Someone later asked Imam al-Sadiq (as) how many of those gates had been opened to the Shi'a and Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, 'Not even two'. So, the final words were whispered to Imam 'Ali (as) and we don't know what they were.

Nahj al-Balagha: 

“I laid you down in your grave when your last breath has passed between my neck and chest.” (Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 201, p.441)

“When the Prophet (saas) died his head was on my chest, and his (last) breath blew over my palms and I passed it over my face.” (Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 196, p.431)
 

The following is quoted in Khasa’is of Nasa’i from Umm Salamah: "By Allah, the closest person [to the Prophet] at the time of the Prophet's death was ‘Ali. Early on the morning of the day when he was going to die, the Prophet called ‘Ali who had been sent out on some errand. He asked for ‘Ali three times before his return. However, ‘Ali came before sunrise. So, thinking that the Prophet needed some privacy with ‘Ali, we came out. I was the last to be out; therefore, I sat closer to the door than the other women. I saw that ‘Ali lowered his head towards the Prophet and the Prophet kept whispering into his ears (for sometime). Therefore, ‘Ali is the only person who was near the Prophet till the last." 

Al-Hakim al-Nasyaburi, moreover, remarks in his Mustadrak that: "the Prophet kept confiding in ‘Ali till the time of his death. Then he breathed his last." 

Imam al-Sadiq (as) narrates: ‘The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) said in his illness duringwhich he died: “Call to me my sincere friend (khalq).” And the two women (‘A’isha and Hafsa) sent for their fathers, and, when the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) saw them, he turned away from them. Then he said: “Call to me my sincere friend.” So ‘Ali was sent for, and when he saw him, he (‘Ali - p.b.u.h.) bent over him and (the Prophet - p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) spoke to him. When he came out, the two (fathers) met him (‘Ali - p.b.u.h.) and said to him: “What did your sincere friend say to you?” He said: “He spoke to me about a thousand gates, each one of which opens (the way to another) thousand gates.”’ (Al-Kulaynī, al-Kāfi, Vol. 1, al-Usūl, Part Two, 4: ‘The Book of Divine Proof’, Chapter 65 ‘The Sign and the Warrant for Amir al-Mu’minin Peace Be Upon Him’, no. 767-4, p. 375.)

 

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 2 years ago

It is narrated that the Imams had shoulder-length hair (see the book Wahhabis' Fitna Exposed, which narrates a famous narration about Imam al-Ridha (as) when he was stopped on his way to Merv, and he pulled back the curtain on his howdah), but I am not aware of any particular fiqh that advises what is recommended.

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Rebecca Masterton, 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... Answered 2 years ago

Sayid Husain Jafri, in his Origins and Development of Early Shi'a Islam, highlights some of the key narrations about Abu Bakr that are mentioned frequently in Sunni circles. Jafri points out that these particular narrations all go back to 'A'isha, who was obviously supporting her father. I can recommend that you get Jafri's book, as he does some good hadith analysis.