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 4 days ago

This story is mentioned in the book Ithbat al-Hodat, compiled by al-Hurr al-'Amili (vol. 4, p. 28).

The gist of the story is a king in China killed his daughter and a member of his court, regretted it, and sought advice from his court on how to bring them back to life. One of the viziers said there is a man in Medina named al-Hasan ibn 'Ali who could do this. The king told him he had a month to bring al-Hasan there (even though it was about a 6 month journey from China to Medina). The vizier prayed intensely, and, while he was praying, he heard a voice saying "Rise". He rose and found Imam al-Hasan (A) there. Imam al-Hasan (A) passed his hand over the two people who had been killed and prayed that Allah revive them, and they came back to life. Then the king married his daughter to Imam al-Hasan (A).

I am not aware of a chain of narration for the story and so it is not possible to say from that angle whether it is authentic or not. Also, I am not aware of any historical evidence that Imam al-Hasan (A) went to China. So, it is possible that this story is not historically true.

However, a number of hadith indicate that the Imams had the ability to miraculously travel from place to place instantaneously and perform karamat through the permission of Allah, and so that main idea in and of itself is reasonable and supported by other texts, even if this particular story might not be 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... Answered 4 days ago

https://www.al-islam.org/marriage-and-morals-islam-sayyid-muhammad-rizvi/appendix-ii-major-ablution-ghusl-janabat

(If you prefer not to read the whole appendix, you can scroll down to "E. Manner of Performing Ghusl" and "1. Ghusl Tartibi", which is the most common kind)

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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 4 days ago

It isn't appropriate to say whether the corona virus is man-made or not without clear evidence.

However, one can also consider a third option - namely, not all acts of God are punishment, even if they involve destruction. We learn from the Qur'an, such as the story of Khidr (A), that sometimes things that seem evil are actually for the greater good. Also, it is good to remember that there have been plagues throughout most of human history, so it isn't something new; it is only because we have become accustomed to modern medicine, and because of globalization, that it seems unusual.

That being said, from a theological angle, the Qur'an and hadith indicate that there are metaphysical laws for societies that go beyond material cause and effect. That is, acts of evil or injustice may bring about a negative consequence for that society even if the material chain of cause and effect is not readily apparent. (This should not be taken to mean that countries with high levels of infection currently are suffering from their own injustices; it is just a general principle.)

Our world is rife with injustice and imbalance, including warfare, sanctions, overconsumption, economic injustice, and environmental destruction. It is reasonable to look at the coronavirus situation in that light (and by "situation" I mean not only the virus but the sociopolitical response), and to consider that, in addition to material factors relating to the spread of the virus (such as airplanes and urbanization), it may be (a) an act of God designed to give us the opportunity to bring out and fix some of those problems, or (b) a natural consequence as part of metaphysical laws of cause and effect.

(Of course, all of these things often work together. In fact, even if it did transpire that it was manmade, things still happen with the permission of God; as the Qur'an says, they plan, and Allah plans, and Allah is the best of planners.)

In any case, regardless of the origins of the virus, our responses to it are manmade (even if we have little control as individuals). This includes positive responses, such as helping others, and negative responses, such as taking advantage of it for political and national gain, or hoarding. 

When individuals get sick, there is no one answer as to why - everyone's circumstances are different. One person can get sick simply as part of the natural chain of cause and effect and the spread of infection. Another can get sick as a divine test, divine trial, or to adjust their lives due to the divine decree (for instance, to stop them from moving to another country). A third person might get sick because it is their time to die, and Allah has hidden death in various causes. So, it is not possible to give one answer for what happens to individuals, although we can often get a sense of what is happening with ourselves through self-reflection. 
 
It is also a good time for prayer. Here is a prayer attributed to Imam Rida (A) in the book Tibb al-A'immah for times of plague:

In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful

There is no strength or might except in Allah, the exalted, the mighty.

Nothing is of benefit without the permission of Allah. I have placed my trust in Allah. Healing can only happen through Allah. Whatever Allah wills happens, and none can dispel evil but Allah. I am sufficed by Allah who created me and therefore guides me, who grants me food and drink, and heals me when I am ill. And we have sent down from the Qur'an healing and mercy for the believers. 

O Allah, grant us well-being, and do not separate between ourselves and well-being, O creator of well-being, O most merciful of the merciful.
 

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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 3 weeks ago

Sleep is one of the signs and blessings of Allah which is mentioned in the Qur'an.

Allah gave us sleep as a time of rest and recovery. Sleep makes us humble and reminds us that we are not invincible. Even if we are the most powerful person in the world, we still have to sleep and be vulnerable when we sleep.

Sleep is a time when we can keep away from sins, and we can be thankful to Allah to have that time. It is also a reminder of death and the resurrection, for those who pay attention to it and ponder it.

Sleep has been praised by Imam Rida (A): "Sleep is the sultan of the brain, the foundation of the body, and its strength." 

Of course this praise is not for excessive sleep. It is not good to sleep excessively (beyond what one needs) or to live in such a way that all one cares about is eating and sleeping or to sleep just out of laziness.  Still, a normal amount of sleep can be considered a part of worship (especially in the month of Ramadan), and what is normal or required varies from person to person and at different ages of our lives.

Sleep is part of the natural cycle, and virtually all animals sleep. They sleep at the correct time for their species and are awake at the correct time for their species.

Sometimes it is valuable to reduce sleep for the sake of worship, and of course there is nothing wrong with being awake because one needs to be awake, one wants to be awake, or one simply can't sleep. And of course it is good to be awake on laylat al qadr, etc. But in general in order to be a healthy functioning person, it is good to get the amount of sleep that one needs. I think in general, in industrialized/urban areas, there is much more of a tendency to get not enough sleep (especially in the age of electronics and television) rather than to oversleep. 

Happy sleeping! 

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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 3 weeks ago

Excellent answer from Shaykh Zoheir Esmail, I also wanted to add that there is some indication in narrations that having faith and wilayah in the Imams (A) does develop this capacity to some degree. For instance, it is related, from Imam al-Sadiq (A), ‘Our followers (shi'a) have have four eyes: two eyes in the head and two eyes in the heart. Actually, all people have these, but Allah opened your sight.'

If one goes through what is found in the books of narrations, there are some pointers here and there on this topic. For instance, you may be familiar with the saying attributed to Imam 'Ali (A) saying 'lower your eyes and you will see wonders'. While this is often discussed in the context of having a chaste gaze in society, it can be taken on a deeper level to mean avoiding distracting one's self with the glitter of the life of this world to be able to understand beyond it.

It is my view (and by that, I mean it is my personal view and may or may not be the view of others) that both the formally prescribed practices of Twelver Shi'ism (such as prescribed du'as or a'mal as well as ziyarat to the holy sites) as well as the traditional practices (especially relating to majalis and azadari) do both facilitate a stronger sense of spiritual vision and understanding if one takes them seriously. After all, it is really not uncommon for Shi'is to experience, or at least say they experience, dreams, visions, miracles, etc, of Ahl al-Bayt when participating in these events. 

One can always pray for what one seeks, whatever it happens to be in life, including spiritual vision. One could recite one's own prayers in one's own words, or there are some snippets of du'as from Ahl al-Bayt (A) that could be considered appropriate such as from Munajat Sha'baniyyah.

Beyond that, many things in life are not really learned by books. One can get inspiration or some tips from books, but many arts really are passed on through a person to person basis. For instance, few people solely learn cooking or swimming from books, even though one can get tips and advice from cooking and swimming magazines. In the Islamic tradition, historically, there has been a strong emphasis on the person to person passing on of spiritual knowledge, and I think there is a virtue to this tradition. (Of course one should be cautious whom one seeks spiritual knowledge from and keep one's inner and outer eyes open, but it doesn't diminish the value of being able to take knowledge from another human.) It seems also that spiritual perception operates differently from person to person (for instance, for some people, it might be more direct whereas others more indirect, such as via intuition or dreams) and there isn't a one size fits all answer to be taken only from books, although books may have some things to offer.

At the same time, there are some basic things one can do regardless of what faith tradition one adheres to (if any) that aren't limited to Shi'ism, such as anything that develops one's sense of focus or reduction of unnecessary distractions in life, that are likely helpful along these lines. Also - as the narration says - most people have spiritual perception, especially people who already have an inclination towards religion and spirituality, and it doesn't hurt simply to pay attention to what is already there - especially in this busy day and age and age of secularism/materialism, a lot of people tend to just shut this sort of thing out.

Best wishes on your spiritual journey!

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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 challenge when trying to answer questions about history is that all we can rely on is evidence that has come to us (such as texts or archaeological evidence) and often it is not 100% clear what happened.

In any case, there are some texts that say that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered that the line "prayer is better than sleep" be added to the Fajr adhan. For instance, in al-Muwatta' (a prominent early Sunni source), it is said that the mu'adhdhin came to Umar ibn al-Khattab at fajr time and found him sleeping, so he told him, "Prayer is better than sleep" (to tell him to get up), and then 'Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered that it be added to the adhan. (See the relevant chapter in the book on salat in the Muwatta')

However, some people, especially Sunnis, hold a different view.

I think it is reasonable to say that all Muslims who do the adhan try to do the adhan in the way they think is correct and the way the Prophet (S) intended it. Shi'i fiqh does not prescribe "prayer is better than sleep" in the adhan because the dominant Shi'i view is that this is was not how the Prophet (S) instructed Muslims to do it. At the end of the day, Allah judges on intentions, and we do our best to follow the Sunnah!

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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 3 weeks ago

The verse of the Qur'an discussing this (7:143) does not say that Moses saw Allah in the mountains. Rather, it says that if Allah were to manifest Himself to the mountain and it were to remain standing, then Moses would see Allah. However, that does not happen; Allah unveils some aspect of His greatness before the mountain, and the mountain shatters to pieces. (It is said in hadith that the way that Allah did this was by having one of the cherubim - i.e. one of the angels - shine part of its light onto the mountain.) Also, Moses passes out. Thus, Moses understands that no one and nothing can bear seeing Allah. 

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The Islamic tradition does not say that human beings are fully different from animals. Like animals, human beings eat, drink, move around, sleep, mate, fight, grow up, and have social communities. Allah says of animals: "There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end." Animals have their own ways of praising Allah just as human beings have their own ways.

However, what makes human beings special or different is not their similarities with animals but rather their differences, especially the human soul. Allah speaks of breathing some aspect of the divine spirit into the human being. As a result, the human being has free will, a strong intellect and capacity for abstraction, can develop or devolve spiritually to very high or low levels, can rise higher than the angels, and can manifest a variety of the names of Allah. It is the human being that took on the risk/responsibility for these things, as mentioned in the Qur'an, whereas animals did not. Therefore there is a difference between the human being and other animals, even though there are also some similarities. 

Otherwise one could also say that human beings are similar to piles of dirt, because all the elements that make up the human being come from the earth, and yet it is this quality of life and soul that make a human being different from a pile of elements.

How much this relates to DNA is an open question, but it is my own understanding that at least some of what distinguishes the human soul is not material in origin and does not come from DNA.

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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 3 weeks ago

The next part of the quotation reads: “I recognized God through revoking the determinations and breaking the intentions. When I determined and I was prevented from achieving my determination and I intended and the fate contradicted my intention, I realized that the administrator was other than me.”

My understanding of this is that sometimes things do not happen in life as we plan or expect, either immediately or long-term. For instance, I may intend to go somewhere, but be stopped by illness, traffic, an unexpected visitor, an unexpected job, etc. I may never intend to go somewhere but be given an unexpected opportunity or gift. (For instance, how some people do not have the resources to perform the hajj but nonetheless are able to do it because someone else facilitates it for them. Some people have the money but are never able to go.)  This is true for everyday things as well as long-term things like a university education, a job, a marriage, etc.

Often, when you look back at the big picture, you can see that there was in fact a fate plan, and things did not happen randomly. This is a sort of internal evidence that there is a Planner. Of course, we still have free will and should make our efforts to plan and do our best in things!

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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 idea that the Prophet (S) passed away in the lap of A'ishah is found in some Sunni texts and is generally not shared by Shi'is. Other texts say that he called Imam 'Ali (A) to him before he passed away, and this view is generally the one adopted by Shi'is. Here is a Shi'i view on his last moments: https://www.al-islam.org/life-muhammad-prophet-sayyid-saeed-akhtar-rizvi/death-and-burial 

In any case, it wouldn't have been fair for the Prophet (S) to favour A'ishah above his other wives at that time.

That being said, I don't think there is a lot of benefit in speculating over how much he did or did not love her, at the end of the day they were married and the Prophet (S) had a noble and generous personality and extended love to many people, this was part of what made him special and beloved in turn.

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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

I am not sure if it is possible for anyone to offer a conclusive viewpoint on the spiritual impact of using credit cards, since credit cards are quite new and are part of the institutional structure, as opposed to collecting interest from someone vulnerable in a person-to-person transaction.

However, at the least, having credit card debt causes a lot of stress, and having a credit card can also encourage overconsumption and spending beyond one's means, so it is good to be cautious of these things unless it is an emergency or there is no other option. No one ever not-regrets having to pay interest on a credit card.

As for interest in general, the Qur'an is quite clear about its impact. For instance: "Those who devour usury shall not rise except as one rises who is felled by the touch of Satan. That is because they say, 'Buying and selling are simply like usury,' though God has permitted buying and selling and forbidden usury. One who, after receiving counsel from his Lord, desists shall have what is past and his affair goes to God. And as for those who go back, they are the inhabitants of the Fire, abiding therein. God blights usury and causes acts of charity to grow...."(2:275-6)

In addition, it is related that Imam Ali (A) said: “The Holy Prophet (S) has cursed one who accepts interest, one who pays interest, one who buys interest, one who sells interest, one who writes the contract of interest and one who is the witness of this transaction.”

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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

It sounds like this person is going through a tough time.

Life has easy and difficult times, sometimes very difficult times. It is good to have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel and to contemplate on the verses of the Qur'an about Allah's mercy. Nothing stays the same forever and things often change in ways we could never imagine. Until then, however, it is sometimes necessary to walk in the darkness until reaching the light. The good thing about darkness, however, is sometimes it makes the light clearer. 

Existence is not a choice, since a person who dies continues to exist. However, it is good to have faith that Allah has a plan and does not create anything in vain; just because we do not understand why we, individually, were created does not mean that we do not have our own specific reason for being.

Some might argue that Qur'an 7:172 which speaks of human beings testifying to the existence and lordship of Allah (in the realm of pre-existence, or in some other way) implies that we gave a sort of agreement to existing, even if we do not remember it now. Some might also argue that Qur'an 33:72 implies a sort of willingness to exist and accept the risks/consequences of free will, even if we currently do not want it - God knows best. 

If this person is also dealing with depression or a psychological condition (either as a condition by itself or as a response to challenging circumstances), they could also look into psychological/psychiatric interventions and see if they are useful and appropriate at the moment to help get more zest for life. 

If it is more of a spiritual or existential crisis (and all of the above can go hand in hand), more study and reflection of the Qur'an and theology and the big questions of life may help. In the end, while Muslims, like others, offer answers to questions such as "why do we exist?", it is one of those big questions that people have pondered for millenia, and although religions can provide answers, I think it is also something people often need to find answers for inside themselves.