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... Answer updated 1 day ago

Also, some other good ways to learn about Islam are:

* Reading the Qur'an. I recommend The Study Quran by S. H. Nasr. (You may wish to skip the commentary as the commentary is long but the Quran is not too long)

* Reading books about Islam (whatever is of interest)

* Watching videos about Islam. The Youtube channel called Ahlulbayt Tv has good quality videos. 

* Sometimes it is nice to see how individuals understand their own faith. There is a nice book called Muslims of the World: Portraits and Stories which talks about different Muslims and their lives and how that relates to their faith; it also has a lot of nice pictures.

* If you end up having a strong interest in religion, you could always pursue courses in religious studies at the university (either as a major or just something to do on the side) or, if you are in a country where you have A-levels, during A-levels.

Learning about Islam, or any other religion, does not require you to give up your own religion, although it is always good to continually reflect on what is true!

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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 6 days ago

Addendum: It may depend on whether one is using the term for matters of religious law (such as marriage) or in a theological sense. It also depends on how one is using the word "agnostic".

In a theological sense, the Qur'anic term "kafir" is used for those who deny the existence of God or the blessings of God, or God's message, not for those who are genuinely uncertain. 

Insofar as an agnostic person neither affirms nor denies these things, and really doesn't know, they are somewhere in the middle (neither mu'min nor kafir). 

Some people call themselves "agnostic" because they dislike organised religion (for instance, they had a bad impression of it growing up) but they don't reject the idea of the divine. So this is not theologically the same thing as a "kafir". What it means is that they do not identify as part of a specific religious group, and also are not sure what they believe personally. Oftentimes, this type of agnostic is a genuine seeker of the truth and is in flux since they haven't found answers to their questions yet. 

However some people use "agnostic" as a loose synonym for atheism or just not caring enough to think about spiritual matters, and so this type of person could be called a kafir, meaning that they are fully engrossed in the material world and heedless of anything else.

Today there is a tendency to use "kafir" casually as a synonym for "non-Muslim". However, because we live in a sensitive era, it is good to be sensitive and thoughtful about how we use language (not the least because some people are killed on grounds of takfir). This is why when working with Qur'anic texts, I personally try to avoid translating "kafir" as "disbeliever" (or, even worse, "infidel") and instead go for a more literal translation along the lines of "deniers".

Also, it is good to remember that the Prophet and Imams were open to having dialogue with people who were not sure about their beliefs. If they were just called "kafirs" and rejected, Islam wouldn't have spread. 

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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 6 days ago

The 12 Imams are not exactly like the Prophet Muhammad in that each of them were separate individuals and had his own life, experiences, personality, features, etc. (That is, they did not share the same soul.)

However, they all shared the same teachings of the Prophet (S). This is the job of the Imams (A) is to correctly explain the teachings of the Prophet (S). According to dominant Twelver Shi'i belief, knowledge of the correct Prophetic teachings is a divine gift transferred to one Imam after the death of the previous Imam; therefore, they do not make mistakes in the teachings or disagree about what the Prophet (S) taught. 

Also, the Prophet and 12 Imams are all considered sinless. They all obviously also shared a strong commitment to Islam.

Maybe this is one reason that they tend to appear the same - it is our flaws and faults that oftentimes distinguish us the most from each other!

The rational reason for this is that Allah appointed them to preserve and expand upon the message as was necessary. If you think about it, most Muslims came to Islam in the latter part of the Prophet's life. Many of them really didn't have enough time to learn much about the religion at all, especially because the Muslims were busy fending off attackers and dealing with a lot of practical things. And after the Prophet, not all the Companions agreed on everything. So it makes sense that if Allah is going to appoint a prophet with the final message that Allah would be sure that message is protected; this is done through the imamate. 

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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 6 days ago

Shirk is calling someone God, assigning divinity to someone other than God, or assigning the offices of divinity to someone other than God.

Saying "'Ali is the wali of God" is not shirk, because it is not doing any of the above.

Furthermore, the Qur'an speaks of the "awliya' Allah" (plural of wali) with respect to human beings. Therefore, it is not shirk to say that Imam 'Ali is the wali of Allah, since Allah uses that phrase Himself. Given his high level of spirituality and service to Islam, very few Muslims would disagree with the idea behind saying "'Ali is the wali of Allah," although this phrase has become associated with Shi'ism.

Therefore, the biggest objection that someone could put forward to saying this in the adhan is that it does not belong in the adhan, not that it is shirk or an untrue statement. 

It is not necessary to say "'Ali is the wali of Allah" in the adhan or kalimah. It is optional to say that. Shi'is generally do not consider it part of the adhan or salat. If it is said in the adhan, it is said as an optional thing which is said for blessings, or because it is seen as recommended, not as an actual part of the adhan. This is similar to how one might recite salawat after the Prophet's name during the adhan - it is done as an optional thing and not out of the belief that it is a formal part of the adhan.

For matters of religious law, such as the salat or converting to Islam, it is enough to say "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet".

However, due to the Shi'i belief in the Imamate, some Shi'is might feel it is a more complete or comprehensive statement of faith to also say "'Ali is the wali of Allah" (because the 3 statements cover monotheism, prophethood, and imamate); one might also say it to indicate a desire to convert specifically to Shi'ism. But it is not necessary.  

Among Shi'is, it has become common to say "'Ali is the wali of Allah" during the adhan. There are some narrations indicating that this was said in the presence of the Prophet, for instance, that on the Day of Ghadir Salman al-Farsi recited it during the adhan, and the Prophet approved of it. 

Similarly, regarding the kalimah, there are narrations in Sunni and Shi'i books connecting endorsement of Imam 'Ali to endorsement of Allah and the Prophet. For instance, it is said that it is written on the Throne of God: "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is My servant and messenger, and 'Ali was his supporter."

Sadly, today, some Muslims attack each other over very small details of practice. They dislike some things because they are different from the Islam they are familiar with, or because they are symbolic of a different sect. It would be better to move towards a spirit of tolerance and acknolwedge that there are multiple ways in which Islam is lived today. After all, even if two people are reciting the adhan differently, they are still reciting the adhan. There are many people who don't care about God at all. Why not focus on the big things such as discussing the existence and relevance of God, rather than focusing on small details and trying to "prove"  who is right? 

(This is not directed at you personally since I am sure it is a genuine question, and it is a good question to ask and know about, but rather it is an overall comment regarding the situation of the Muslim world today and the types of arguments that are had over how to do wudhu and so forth.)

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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 1 week ago

Individual human beings are not born identical, whether or not we have an obvious physical disability. We all have our own uniquenesses, characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses; often, some people will consider a characteristic a merit while others will consider it a flaw. (For instance, one person will consider someone who talks a lot to be friendly and social, and another might find them annoying. In some cultures it is good to be tall and in others it is strange. Etc.)

In any case, there is a lot of variety in our appearance, character, personality, etc, and usually some things are not as perfect as we would like them to be. (In fact, it is usually our imperfections that make us interesting! If all people were perfect, the world would be very boring.) (Note that for the sake of simplicity I am not speaking about the masoumeen (A) but rather the vast majority of human beings.)

What can be understood from this verse is that God created the archetype or "model" of the human being in a perfect form. That is, the model for the human being is designed in a perfect manner, both in terms of our ideal physique and our ideal attributes. However, when we are born into this world, we have a lot of individual variety. This is similar to how a world-class artist might paint a painting, and then other artists might copy it; they are all copying the same model, but each copy has its own unique ways in which it differs from the main model. 

In this day and age, many people strive to perfect their physical bodies (for instance, through plastic surgery). Sometimes this is possible, and sometimes it is not. However, almost everyone can strive to perfect their ethics and character and to come closer to the ideal that Allah has set forth for us. 

Similarly, the idea that things are created in pairs is a general, archetypal rule for the universe. (For instance, there is night and day, male and female, up and down, etc) It doesn't mean that there is absolutely never any individual variation or that males and females need to be completely opposite each other. It was also understood during the era of revelation that some people are not clearly identified as males or females physically.

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ADDENDUM:

It is narrated in al-Durr al-Manthūr (one of the Sunni tafāsir) that the Prophet caught sight of a man who had let his wrapper (izār) hang low. He told him: ‘Lift up your wrapper!’ He said: ‘O Messenger of God! I have a deformity in my foot that causes my knees to knock together.’ He replied: ‘Lift up your wrapper! All that God creates is beautiful (ḥasan).’

It is also related from Imam al-Baqir from Luqman: 'Every beast loves its likeness, but the son of Adam does not love his.'

Just some thoughts!
 

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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 weeks ago

Qur'an 3:184: But if they reject you, so indeed were rejected before you messengers who came with clear arguments (al-bayyinat) and scriptures (al-zubur) and the illuminating book (al-kitab al-munir).

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Bayyinat is said to refer to the signs accompanying or miracles performed by the ancient prophets. It could also refer to their logical arguments.

"Scriptures and the illuminating book" is said to refer to the scriptures and/or religious laws and ordinances transmitted by the ancient prophets. For instance, Tafsir al-Mizan gives as examples the scriptures of Noah and Abraham, and the Torah and Injil. Some exegetes have specific views about which scriptures may be referred to by which phrase and others simply take it as an overarching phrase to refer to ancient scriptures. 

("Zubur" can refer to any scriptures not just the Psalms.)

This interpretation may be due to the fact that it is related that section of the Qur'an was revealed when some Jews came and questioned the Prophet. 

Maybe in the phrase "the illuminating book", there is a hint that all the revelation came from a single divine source, rather than the different scriptures being like books written by different people. 

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The main reason is that it was not mandated by the Prophet; in fact, he prayed with his wife and daughter there.

Also, (a) because to do tawaf you have to go all the way around the Ka'bah, and that is difficult to do with segregation, similarly it might be challenging to arrange gender segregation for sa'i between Safa and Marwah, and (b) perhaps it could cause hardship for people travelling together. 

While it is true that there are some people with sick minds who misuse the arrangement there, by and large, I think most Muslims behave themselves properly there and respect the sanctity of the place, and the rules of ihraam (forbidding certain things between genders) also provide extra incentive to behave correctly, even if they may run into each other by accident.

That being said, wearing an extra outer garment can help provide more personal space without inconveniencing others.
 

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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 weeks ago

It is because there are hadith specifically prohibiting chess.

Ayatollah Khamene'i allows chess if it is not being used for gambling, but in general the traditional view is that it is not allowed.

God knows best.

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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 weeks ago

The short answer is, azadari is optional not required, so if you don't want to do it or don't want to be in a place where people are doing it, this is not *religiously* necessary (although, socially, in some places, this may be a challenge).

The longer answer is, bad thoughts and misgivings come from somewhere. Sometimes they arise for good reasons, such as seeing people do wrong or hypocritical things.

Sometimes they arise for bad reasons, such as listening to false ideas (such as some of the baseless criticisms of Shiism in some websites) or self-hatred/embarrassment about one's culture.

So, it doesn't hurt to look into what you are thinking and explore why you are thinking it, and whether it is something that is leading you towards truth and a more enlightened way of being, or not. 

Whether or not you choose to make azadari part of your life, it is good to be tolerant towards other people's practices (insofar as they are permissible) and to acknowledge and respect them even if you choose not to do them.

Otherwise if we become intolerant towards how other people live their religion simply because we disagree with them, we will not be any different from those people who go around attacking Shiis for being kuffar because Shiis pray on turbahs and that sort of thing. 

Also, regarding azadari, sometimes people become less enthusiastic about azadari as they get older. I guess this is because younger people have more energy and spirit and also things are newer to us when we are younger, then at some point we max out on what we are getting out of azadari, and wish to explore other things. This is of course not true for everyone (I can already imagine the emails of objection flooding my inbox!) but it is true for some people and for most things in life; that is, sometimes things work for us during some life phases and not others.

Religiously speaking, there are also plenty of other things you can focus on that are also meritorious, for instance, if, currently in your life, you feel like you get more out of focusing on reciting the Qur'an or doing charitable work or something else that has value. Of course it is still also meritorious to remember and express sadness for Ahl al-Bayt (A)!

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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 weeks ago

Perhaps Allah willed to test human beings, since a repeated principle in the Quran and hadith is that Allah gives people repeated chances to prove themselves and make the best decisions before intervening in a situation. 

Maybe there is some other wisdom behind this also.

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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 1 month ago

Traditionally, it is said that Sukayna bint al-Husayn and Ruqayyah bint al-Husayn were 2 daughters of Imam Husayn who were present in Karbala. (In some cultures, they are treated as one and called "Sakina").

From a historical perspective, it can be deduced from historical reports that Sukayna bint al-Husayn was a young woman (maybe about 13 years old) at the time of Karbala, and that this is the same Sukayna bint al-Husayn who was mentioned in later historical sources. Also, in a poem ascribed to Imam Husayn to comfort her, he refers to her as the "best of women" (that is, she wouldn't have been a young child or else he wouldn't have called her a "woman"):

وقال:
سيطول بعدي يا سكينة! فاعلمي * منك البكاء إذا الحمام دهاني لا تحرقي قلبي بدمعك حسرة * ما دام مني الروح في جثماني وإذا قتلت فأنت أولى بالذي * تأتينه يا خيرة النسوان

"O, my dear Sukayna! Know that after me your weeping is prolonged. [So my daughter] do not burn my heart by your sorrowful tears as long as I am alive. O, the best of women! Weeping is more suitable for you after my martyrdom."

It is said that Ruqayyah was about 3 years old in Karbala, that she died when Yazid sent her the head of her father, and that her shrine is in Syria. However, historical reports about her are scant. Maybe people in those days didn't consider it too important to keep records about young children as children often did not live past childhood.

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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 month ago

Allah created all things including time. Allah is not affected by time; time is only something that the creation experiences. 

For instance, it is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq in Kitab al-Tawhid, "And how can I describe him in terms of `when’ when it was he who created time? Hence, I recognized time by the fact that He created time."

أم كيف أصفه بحيث وهو الذي حيث الحيث حتى صار حيثا، فعرفت الحيث بما حيث لنا من الحيث

The first sermon of Nahj al-Balaghah also gives a sense of time as a created thing.