Amina Inloes

Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 day ago

Well, if it is a sexual habit (since that is how this is tagged), your body has hormones, and it is dealing with your hormones in its own way. As Shaykh Esmail said, it will likely calm down. Reciting Qur'an and du'a before sleeping may also help calm things down. Adjusting what you eat may also have an effect.

Also, as Shaykh Esmail said, we aren't held accountable for what appears in our dreams (although maybe it might be embarrassing). At the risk of sounding overly traditional, the main solution given in our texts is to get married and find a different outlet, of course that is often easier said than done, but if you aren't married, that is the advice that is given. 

If it is some other kind of habit, you can ignore the above! 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 day ago

In addition to the above, there is no harm in looking at the more practical or physiological aspects of one's life. Sometimes we can change the situations we are in that are causing depression or stress, and sometimes we can't. If we can, it is good to work towards making a change.

Also, things like exercise, eating the right nutrients and avoiding unhealthy food, getting enough sunlight and sleep, and certain natural/herbal remedies and vitamin supplements can make a big difference in how we cope with depression and stress. They may not make the situation go away, but they can increase our ability to deal with it and make us calmer and more focused. Allah has given us all these things as blessings, so we should take advantage of the blessings we have to make our lives easier.

Salat al-layl can also help in difficult times. (Sometimes during challenging times, we don't have a lot of energy for prayer; but at other times, it is a good opportunity to spend more time in prayer. Don't force yourself, but also don't neglect to consider it as an option if you are not already doing it!)

 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 days ago

I am sorry to hear about this challenging situation.

The ideal and example of the Prophet (S) is that marriage is public and, unless someone is living in a cave, there are a lot of questions and awkward situations that will come up if a woman is married secretly. 

It is wrong to put someone under that kind of stress and pressure, and it is not healthy for the man or the woman.

Apart from the social challenges, marriage is one of the most important things in a person's life, and it is psychologically unhealthy to have to hide that from the world. Part of having a family is the social aspect of family, not just the private relationship between a husband and wife. 

However, unfortunately, life isn't ideal. I am assuming the woman agreed to this situation when getting into it. Maybe - like most things in life - they didn't understand what it would be like long term, or they thought (or were told) things might change. 

The only real options are: (a) try to convince the man to change his mind, (b) try to see if it is possible to make any life changes (such as moving to a different country) which would make secrecy unnecessary, (c) find coping mechanisms to deal with the situation personally and socially, and be patient, (d) leave the marriage, or (e) pray that Allah provides another option. 

Life is a test, and in the end, what is important is how we navigate the tests in front of us, whether we are able to do it with faith and good ethics or not. I hope and pray the situation gets easier for all concerned!

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 days ago

I am sorry to hear about your loss.

It is narrated that the Prophet (S) said: “Keep many domestic animals (al-dawajin) in your houses so that the shayatin (demons) are occupied with them instead of with your children.” (See Tibb al-A'immah)

I think there is some truth to this.

Of course, maybe your cat just died and there was no other reason for it. The lifespan of animals is also in the hands of Allah, and this life is transitory for all of us.

At least you got to enjoy some time together, and one thing I have always admired about animals is that they handle death with grace and acceptance.

With salaams and du'as

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 3 days ago

I am sorry to hear you went through that. I hope you are not suffering too much on a practical level from your loss. 

As human beings, we are subject to two forces regarding money: the will/sustenance of God, and the free will of human beings.

Sustenance, as something from God, is greater at some times and less at other times. There are times when we receive more than we fairly should, and there are times when we unjustly lose money or other people take it from us (legally or illegally).  In general these things balance out. However, God has promised to sustain everyone, and just because you have lost money now does not mean that it will not come back in some way.

From a human perspective, while one person has the free will to take money from another, that money will not have blessings and that person will probably not enjoy it long term or will lose out in another way. 

Money comes and goes, but what we have is our character and our good deeds. Perhaps the best thing to do is to be grateful that you are a person of good character, you are not a thief or an embezzler, and you are free from the burden of this sin that the other person has committed. You may be anxious now, but thieves never sleep easily!

As for other reasons why it happened.. that is really a matter specific to your situation. Sometimes people take money from us because we are sympathetic, sometimes because we are deceived, sometimes because we are careless, sometimes because they are better at playing games with the law, or other reasons. I am sure you can identify what the reason was and learn whatever lesson you can from it. If your motives for giving money were sympathy or to invest in something positive or something similar, then surely this is something praiseworthy and again you can be at peace knowing that at least you made a good decision.

Beyond that, it is good to spend some time in prayer and ask Allah why this happened. There are many reasons that things happen to us (our own free will, a divine test, part of the divine plan, etc) and perhaps a higher wisdom may become clear. Also, money is often a tool used to push us towards where we should be in life (for instance, needing to go to a certain country or city for work, or needing to leave a place or change our plans in life for financial reasons). 

Also you can ask Allah to protect you from this happening again.

I hope that your financial situation improves and you will be feeling better soon!

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 week ago

I have not come across the idea that the angel Mika'il keeps the devil out of heaven in mainstream Shi'i or Sunni texts.

Also, the Qur'an says that God Himself threw the Shaytan (the devil) out of heaven. This is not to say that an angel could not have been involved; however, the Qur'an does portray it as being directly between God and Shaytan. It also implies that Shaytan accepted being thrown out insofar as Shaytan swore to misguide human beings until the end of time (and this oath implies that he is not trying to return to heaven).

Of course, God knows best!

A summary of what the angel Mika'il does as per Islamic texts can be found here: https://www.al-islam.org/ask/topics/4478/questions-about-Angel

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 months ago

It is difficult to answer the question of "who is right" since everyone thinks their religion is right! Answering the question of "who is orthodox?" also brings up the question of who has the right to determine what is orthodox.

(Keeping in mind many Muslims consider all Shi'is to be unorthodox!)

Anyway, as you say, many people today consider the strongly fiqh-based approach to Twelver Shi'ism (i.e. the first stream of thought, in that Shaykhism also emerges from that line) to be the "mainstream" or "orthodox" one.

It is also argued by scholars of religious history that Alawism and Alevism are heavily syncretic religions (i.e. strong mixes of Islam/Shiism and other religions). My understanding is that some Nimatullahis self-identify in this way today (that is, as strongly integrating beliefs prior to Islam), but I don't know if that reflects the whole tradition, and, in any case, just because a belief is ancient does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. However, it could be construed as "less orthodox" insofar as it there is no evidence that it comes down a direct line from the Prophet/Twelve Imams. 

My impression has always been that today's Alawism and Alevism are more "cultural religions", i.e. they are practiced in some areas as local traditions but don't absorb outsiders easily. 

Anyway, my view on this is, firstly, to follow the advice of Imam Ali (A) - namely, first know the truth, and then you will come to know the people who are on the truth.

Second, insofar as Islam is a scriptural religion, you can read Qur'an and hadith, especially the Qur'an, and compare the beliefs and practices of these different groups and see what seems to fit best with it.

Third, there is no harm in taking what is good from different places. If you have the option to practice Shi'ism in one or more of these interpretations, you can see what leads you to the truth, what beliefs and practices are healthy or unhealthy, which reflect the spirit of the Qur'an, what you think best reflects the intent of the Prophet (S), etc.

Lastly, of course, seek divine guidance.

Usually we already know what is true and the kernel of the answer is already in our heart, but sometimes we aren't ready to act on it yet, and we have to wait until the time when we are ready to acknowledge whatever we know is true. 

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From my experience, there are multiple causes of the symptoms of waswas.

As described in the previous response, literally, the word "waswas" refers to the whispering of Shaytan. However in my experience, people also experience the same symptoms as:

* Psychological coping mechanisms (for instance, as a response to prolonged stress such as warfare or the pressure of being a minority and feeling one's identity is under threat)
* Manifestations of psychiatric conditions (anxiety, OCD, etc.) that are expressed in the guise of being "religious". Sometimes because this is considered to be a more socially acceptable way of expressing this behaviour or even praised and encouraged as signs of piety. 
* Sometimes as a response to a very strict upbringing or social environment in which one is made to be terrified of small mistakes (like missing a spot during wudu), or where there is a lot of criticism of these things. 
* I think to some degree there is a personality element as well.

Not all people who are dealing with these things respond in the same way (i.e. with symptoms of waswas); however, some do. Perhaps part of it is a desire for control in situations where we cannot control what is going on around us.

This does not mean that whispering from Shaytan is not present in these situations or that everything has a psychological/psychiatric explanation; rather, the two can happen at the same time. 

Anyway, in addition to addressing what is due to Shaytan, such as by reciting ayat al-kursi, and the other interventions mentioned below, these things can also be addressed, if they are applicable in the circumstances. 

Some people are also just naturally very scatterbrained and absent-minded and easily forget things (such as whether they ate or what time they have to go places, as well as things such as whether they did salat or wudhu), but this is somewhat different because it does not usually cause distress. However, some of the same interventions may apply (such as ignoring doubts).

In any case, as discussed in the previous response, the important thing is to overcome these things and acknowledge that this is not what Allah wants from us and rather the ritual acts we do such as salat and ritual purification are means to a higher goal rather than something to become anxious about in and of themselves.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 months ago

Yes, you can still be considered a true follower of Ahl al-Bayt if you do not take part in matam or public mourning ceremonies. These things are optional. The most important things are (a) inner belief (i.e. belief in the theology taught by Ahl al-Bayt as well as belief in their authority), and (b) following them in your outer actions to the best of your ability (acts of worship, how you treat others, how you live, etc).

Of course, as you are likely aware, one of the things that is mentioned in hadith is that the followers of Ahl al-Bayt feel happy at their times of happiness and sad in their times of sadness; that is, there is a sort of empathy or emotional link. Since you say you feel grief, this is already there; I am just mentioning it so it is not neglected.

I agree that sometimes people from more reserved cultures are uncomfortable with matam ceremonies. This is particularly the case if someone grew up with the tacit message that expressions of emotion are socially unacceptable, unmanly, weak, undignified, etc, or if someone was punished for them.

Sometimes people from a Sunni background are also uncomfortable at these gatherings (even if they come from emotionally expressive cultures).

However, even if you choose not to participate in these activities, it is good to acknowledge and respect that many other Shi'is do and this is the way they express their emotions and loyalty towards Ahl al-Bayt. That is, it is better simply to acknowledge that it is one's personal preference not to attend, rather than to try to make a blanket statement that it is wrong for others to do so. There is a strong spiritual component to these gatherings (although I could understand that this might not be felt if one is feeling shock instead), and they do function to forge a link between the individual and the teachings of Ahl al-Bayt that can come into play in other life circumstances.  

To some degree, you will miss out on a sense of community spirit, belonging, or shared experience by not participating in these activities, because they are so widespread, but this is a different issue. 

Also, this may or may not be of interest, but if you do look around at world religions, there are actually a lot of religions that have ritual or spiritual acts which involve a sort of emotional/intellectual abandon or self-harm. (For instance, speaking in tongues or nailing one's self to a cross) What makes these things "safe" ways of exploring or expressing one's spirituality is that they are controlled and there are unwritten rules about what is and is not acceptable, and when. For instance, someone walking down the street randomly doing matam would be seen as mentally unstable, but someone doing it in a ritual setting at the appropriate time would be seen as normal. Also this is similar for a some Sufi practices. This is more of a comparative religious studies perspective, but I just thought I'd put it out there.

Anyway, back to the main question, here are some hadith (which you may have already read!) about what constitutes a true follower of Ahl al-Bayt:
 
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) said in answer to a man who said to him, ‘Verily I am one of your Shi’ah’, ‘O ‘Aabdallah, if you are truly obedient to us in our commands and prohibitions, then you are telling the truth. But if not, then do not add to your sins by falsely claiming such a dignified position that you are not worthy of. Do not say, ‘I am one of your Shi’ah’, but say rather, ‘I am one of your adherents and one of your lovers and an enemy to your enemies.’ You are [doing] good and aiming towards good.’[Tanbih al-Khawatir, v. 2, p. 106]

Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) said, ‘Our Shi’ah are none other than those who are consciously wary of their duty to Allah and obey Him. They are known solely for their humbleness, their humility, their returning promptly whatever is entrusted in their care and their Abundant remembrance of Allah.’[Tuhaf al-’Uqul, p. 295]

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘Verily the Shi’ah of Ali were those who restrained their stomachs and their sexual desires, who struggled and fought intensely, who worked hard for their Creator, who hoped for His reward and feared His punishment. If you have seen such people, then they are the very Shi’ah of Ja’afar.’[al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 233, no. 9]

Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘Test our Shi’ah with regard to three things: the prayer times to see how well they observe them, their secrets to see how well they guard them from our enemies, and their wealth to see how they help out their fellow brothers with it.’[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 83, p. 22, no. 40]

Anyway, I hope you are able to find a way to sort out the unease you are feeling.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 months ago

While Sunni and Shi'i ritual law is quite similar, there are occasional differences due to differing interpretations of the Qur'an, the use of hadith compilations not used among Sunnis, differing opinions on the reliability of various hadith or hadith narrators, different historical scholarly traditions, and slightly different approaches to the principles of jurisprudence (for instance, Shi'is do not use qiyas whereas some Sunnis do; there is a different view on what constitutes ijma'). 

However, even with some subtle differences, the basic idea of ghusl - as a major washing in some circumstances as opposed to wudhu - is the same. 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answer updated 2 months ago

"Imam mubin" ("manifest imam", "clear imam", or "clear record") is generally understood to refer to a divine record in which all things and divine decrees are inscribed.

(Some exegetes have explained that it is called the "imam" of divine records because it is the highest of the books, hence the leader of books, as opposed to lesser divine records, such as individuals' scrolls of deeds.)

Some hadith also say that the "imam mubin" is Imam Ali. In one hadith, Imam Ali is quoted as saying that, "I am the imam mubin. I distinguish between truth and falsehood, and I have inherited this from the Messenger of Allah."

Perhaps both views are correct, in that it is possible for Allah to provide any of His servants with knowledge of all things.

Some hadith offer explanations for the circumstances of revelation for this verse. However, they do not relate to the phrase "imam mubin" but rather refer to why the previous phrase ("what they have sent ahead and their effects [which they left behind]") might have been revealed. These relate to the community in Medina as well as the general idea that people are rewarded or punished after death for the good or bad practices or legacies they have left behind. However, they do not say anything specific linking the word "imam" directly to the occasion of revelation. I am not aware of any hadith that do this, although there may be some!
 

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 months ago

Thank you for the interesting question! I am not aware of any companions of the Prophet (S) who travelled all the way to Cape Verde, especially since most of the early Muslims did not have strong skills with boats. Perhaps this refers to someone else who went there (such as an explorer, trader, migrant, or general) who said something similar, or maybe it refers to someone who stood at a different location and said something similar. 

However, absence of evidence is not proof that it did not happen. Possibly, someone will locate evidence that this happened!