Scholars

Scholars are people who devote themselves to study, particularly to an area in which they have developed expertise. A scholar may also be an academic, a person who works as a teacher or researcher at a university or other higher education institution. An academic usually holds an advanced degree.

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Abbas Di Palma, Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in... Answered 9 months ago

as salam alaikum

the Akhbari/Usuli discussion is mainly related to the realm of fiqh, specifically to the way of deduction of Islamic laws, although some implications may relate to other than jurisprudence. While Usuli scholars derive Islamic laws from Qur'an, Sunna, intellect and ijma', Akhbaris only accept Qur'an and Sunna as source for Islamic law. Some more radical Akhbaris rely only on the Sunna as per their saying that "the Qur'an should be interpreted exclusively through the Sunna of the Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt".

Practically, Akhbaris cannot overlook some sort of reasoning and Usulis do not discard the transmitted reports. Overall Usuli methodology is more strict on scrutinizing and authenticating the ahadith.

Some prominent Akhbari scholars were Mulla Amin Astarabadi, Mulla Muhammad Tahir Qummi  and Seyyed Hashim al-Bahrani.

With prayers for your success.

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 9 months ago

The Marja' of Taqleed does not come through election, selection nor appointment. He reaches to this status of knowledge by his own hard work and dedication and sincerity with the help of Allah (SWT). The scholars in the Hawza are the responsible persons to identify and recognize the level of knowledge of the Mujtahid scholar and whether he is entitled to be Marja' or not. Such high level of scholars give witness that this Mujtahid is a Marje' then people can do his Taqleed.

Wassalam.

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1. Imam Al-Mahdi ( AS) during his major occultation meets , teaches, and helps people , but people do not recognize him during the meeting but very few of the very pious believers who have a high degree in faith and know him.

2. Pious believers never claim nor disclose meeting Imam Al-Mahdi (AS). Pious believers know that Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) must be away from the enemies, so they do not disclose any information about him.

3. Those who claim in public that they met Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) or brought a message from him, can never be trusted.

4. Hundreds of very pious Ulama and believers have met Imam Al-Mahdi (AS) in hundreds of occasions. Many books were compiled in this subject by great scholars like Al-Muhaddith al-Noori in his book Dar Assalam and others.

5. We pray in Du'a al-'Ahd دعاء العهد to be granted seeing the face of our Imam Al-Mahdi (AS): اللهم أرني الطلعة الرشيدة والغُرّة الحميدة واكحل ناظري بنظرة مني إليه.

This means that seeing him during the major occultation is possible for certain very pious persons.

Wassalam.

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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

It may be due to the region in which those scholars live and therefore which types of thought have influenced the idea of spirituality in that region. The term 'irfan' began to be used under the Safavids, to distinguish it from 'Sufism', or 'tasawwuf', which came to be associated with many spurious groups adopting various practices that had little basis in Islam. If we use the term 'Islamic mysticism', it covers a wide range of spiritual trends which have been incorporated into the field. The type of 'irfan' that may be found in Khorasan would differ from that found in Baghdad. Generally, 'irfan' as understood today, includes the thought and practice of mystics, be they Sunni or Shi'i and be their mysticism influence by Platonism or Neo-Platonism. This view of 'irfan' takes an inclusive approach to spiritual tendencies among mystics.

With regard to 'philosophy'  - this term in the Muslim world basically means Platonic-Aritotelian influenced philosophy. There are many other kinds of philosophy also - so the condemnation of philosophy does not mean philosophy per se, but this Greek-influenced trend.

Primarily, both these fields have been disapproved of in narrations attributed to the Imams (as), because both side-line or play down the central pillar of walayah. According to traditional Shi'i narrations, the Imam is the gateway to Allah (swt), the Greatest Sign and the Qutb. Ma'rifah of the Imam = Ma'rifah of God's theophany on earth. There is no greater sign than the Imam (Imam 'Ali (as) says this in Usul al-Kafi). 

The are narrations from the Imams that indicate that certain people used to sit in their circles, learn their doctrines, and then go and attribute those doctrines to themselves. This could be one root of the beginnings of Sufism. Hakim Tirmidhi, in his book Sirat al-Awliya' (The Concept of Sainthood) pretty much repackages the Imami concept of walayah, but replaces the Imam with that of the Saint, or Waliyullah (Friend of God). At the same time, he was writing polemical treatises against the Shi'a. Therefore, those who, in time of the Imams, sat in dhikr circles, or passed on the teachings of the Imams, while effectively breaking their allegiance to the Imam and attributing their teachings to themselves, were condemned. Thus, those who say that 'what it matter where these teachings come from? It all leads back to Allah' overlook the fundamental pillar of walayah and loyalty to the Imam. In effect, if you steal someone's teachings, then those teachings are transmitted on a foundation of betrayal. So there is an ethical problem here.

Some argue that the narrations attributed to the Imams that condemn irfan and philosophy are not authentic. This would require more expert investigation to ascertain their status.

With du'as

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 1 year ago

There are many Sunni scholars by this name. Ibn Al-Arabi Al-Maaliki (Abu Bakr)  ( Died 543 Hijri) is a Sunni Shaikh who wrote Al-Awaasim Minal Qawassim العواصم من لقواصم. He was the person who claimed that Imam Husain (AS) by fighting against Yazeed, went against the teachings of his grandfather the Prophet (SAWA). He was clearly away from Ahlul Bayt (AS) and follower of Bani Umayyah who were ruling Andalusia where he was living.

 Ibn Arabi (Mohyiddin) (Died 638 Hjri) , the Sufi Sunni scholar,  is a different person who wrote Al Fotoohaat Al-Makkiyyah الفتوحات المكية . His books contain right and wrong things as he was not strictly following Ahlul Bayt (AS). He wrote some statements praising Ahlul Bayt (AS) but also wrote praising some enemies of Ahlul Bayt.

We have to be very careful when we read for such persons.

Wassalam

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 1 year ago

'Ilm Al-Rijaal is the knowledge about the authenticity of narrators which leads us to evaluate their narrations to decide whether we can believe them or not.

In Quran Allah (SAWA) says: ( قل آلله أذن لكم أم على الله تفترون )Did Allah permit you or you falsely claim on Him?(Sura Younus;59)

Which is very clear that we can not claim any thing in religion of Allah with out authentic evidence. Narrations can be authentic and can be not. That is why we must study the narrators very carefully before taking their narrations as the matters of religion are a big responsibility on us. 

We also read in Quran that before believing any narrator we must be sure about his authenticity. (Al-Hujoraat ; 6)

We also have plenty of Hadeeths from the Prophet (SAWA) and Infallible Imams in this important matter. In fact, we can not take any narration in any important matter in life before we trust the authenticity of the narrator, so what about matters of religion?

That is why, 'Ilm al-Rijaal is necessary to evaluate narrations through evaluating the narrators.

Wassalam

Wassalam

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I understand where you are coming from with this question. Investigating and researching the topics around the Shi'a Sunni division can be mind boggling when there are claims and counter claims from both sides and the quality of evidence put forward by each side also gets challenged by the other.

Here is a suggestion to help you get started that is designed with your preference in mind of avoiding sectarian bias in your research.

Step 1

Start with the Nahj al-Balagha which is a collection of sermons and sayings by Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib.  Although it was compiled by a Shi'a scholar named Sharif al-Radi but it attracted attention from many Sunni scholars who wrote commentaries on it. 

For instance see the list of commentators on this page, many of them are Sunni names - https://www.al-islam.org/articles/commentaries-nahjul-balaghah-syed-waheed-akhtar

The reason for the wider Sunni interest was that the sermons included by Sharif al-Radi could be traced to other sources acceptable to both the Shi'a and Sunni communities.  And, perhaps more importantly, a large part of the value of the book was in the eloquence of words and thoughts expressed by 'Ali who was a master at it, being the close disciple and confidante of the Prophet Muhammad (s). In fact, for many, the eloquence of the words also testifies to its authentic origins.

You can find the Nahj al-Balagha here - https://www.al-islam.org/nahjul-balagha-part-1-sermons

When you go through this book, and I do suggest you go cover to cover, you will gain an insight into what 'Ali was saying to the people of Kufa during his time as the fourth caliph. You will get a sense of his views on the disputes, the civil wars, the various famous Companions and mothers of the believers who often get mentioned in Shi'a Sunni debates.

Step 2

Once you are through that, it is time to understand the entire history of the debate on the succession to the Prophet Muhammad (s). Contrary to what many people realise, a good understanding of the period of the civil wars during Imam 'Ali's rule is essential to understanding and evaluating the reports on the earlier period of Islamic history.

In order to avoid any intentional or unintentional sectarian bias by a Shi'a or Sunni author, I suggest you instead go through a book called Succession to Muhammad - A Study of the early Caliphate by a famous non-Muslim academic called Wilferd Madelung.

This book does a good job of looking at the often contradicting reports on early Islamic history and analyses the likelihood of bias of individual narrators and, therefore, reports. Although somewhat heavy reading, it will help you get a pretty good idea of what really happened back then in early Islam.

Good luck with your research.

Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from... Answered 1 year ago

Bismihi ta'ala

In brief, each School of Thought has its own collection of hadith books, and also its own methodology of categorising the grading of hadiths. This means which hadith is authentic, which is accepted, weak, fabricated, and so on.

It is for this reason that there is no specific book both Shi'ah and Sunni scholars would agree on. Yes, there are certain hadiths, in fact many of them, that both Schools would agree on. But not an individual book as a whole.

As for an objective seeker of truth, it is imperitve that one adopts a correct unbiased approach to research into factual information, and read as much as they can from all angles, and ask the Almighty to inspire them, open their inner eye, and guide them to the truth.

And Allah knows best. 

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Zoheir Ali Esmail, Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD... Answer updated 1 year ago

Thank you for your question. The answer to this question varies from individual to individual. A basic income is provided by the hawza for students in accordance to their different levels of study and whether they are married or not, but the amount at each level is very basic and most students need alternative sources of income. That could come from teaching, translating, owning businesses, working in the holidays or another private source. The burden of earning naturally takes away from the time a student has to concentrate on their studies. Many students I know have had to give up the path of further study simply for financial considerations. The field of Islamic knowledge, especially in the traditional seminary, is not the field someone should be looking to if they want to make money.

As for free time that is again dependent on the number of commitments and individual takes on. Knowledge is also something that needs to be complemented with practice and thought.

At the higher levels of study, you are afforded more free time as there are many things that need to be studied which are not officially taught. Time needs to allotted for outside reading, research, writing papers and books, speech preparation and delivery, answering queries, helping people solve their personal problems, etc. Most of that work is unpaid and a labor of love. At the same time, the freedom that is afforded to students can also be misused and some may abuse the system in order to secure more freedom without perhaps using it as it is supposed to be used.

Abbas Di Palma, Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in... Answered 1 year ago

Usually at the Hawza non-married students live in a dormitory while a minimum monthly salary and modest meals are given to them. Married couples receive also a minimum monthly salary but they are asked to rent their own place. The situation and conditions may vary from place to place but generally married couples receive more salary than non-married students. The salary for married couples would not be sufficient to cover all the family expenses (especially for rent) so married students are encouraged to find other incomes as well. This may take place by translating religious books, student sponsorships, or working part-time for religious projects and institutions. The free-time you have at disposal will depend on how much you are willing to put into your studies. Personally, I advice Hawza students not to limit themselves to curriculum-subjects but to find some time for extra-curriculum studies for what can be learnt during special extra-curriculum researches has great benefit on the student and improve his quality as a scholar. Furthermore, memorization of Qur'an and and purification of the soul by supererogatory acts should be taken into account. This may diminish drastically your free-time but you should understand that studying religion is a full-time commitment, day and night, as religion is neither an hobby nor a profession but it is about how you live, how you eat and how you sleep... Therefore a good student of religious sciences should be ready to sacrifice much of his time and energy.

With prayer for you success.