'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The 'Ahl al-Islam' in Ziyarat 'Ashura

Are WE part of the Ahl al-Islam?
Sh Muhammad Khalfan

The genitive construction Ahl al-Islam denotes ‘those who are intimate and attached to Islam’. The literal meaning of the word ahl according to some lexicographers is uns (intimacy) coupled with specific relationship and attachment (Al-Mustafawi, Al-Tahqiq fi Kalimat al-Qur'an al-Karim, v.1, p.169). The word Ahl al-Bayt refers to the people of a house, because they are intimate, attached, and have a specific relationship to the house.

Therefore when we say that the loss and calamity is great on all the Ahl al-Islam we mean that all those who really have intimacy, attachment and relationship with Islam suffer with great loss and calamity. This is where we must try to analyze ourselves and see whether we are from the Ahl al-Islam or not.

The main reason why the Ahl al-Islam must express sorrow is that Imam al-Husayn (A) is the epitome of Islam. Naturally therefore, all the lovers of Islam would tangibly feel sorrowful when any kind of calamity befalls him.

In one of his counsels to his contemporary, Imam al-Baqir (A) describing the Ahl al-Bayt (A), says: 'And we are the places of the Divine Message, and we are the Religion...' (Al-Daylami, Irshad al-Qulub, v.2, p.418)

And in another tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (A) informs his companion Dawud: 'O Dawud, we are the prayer (al-Salat) in the Book of Allah, the Invincible and Exalted, and we are the poor rate (zakat), and we are the fast (al-Siyam), and we are the pilgrimage (al-Hajj) and we are the sacred month (al-shahr al-Haram) and we are the sacred city (al-balad al-Haram) and we are the Ka'ba of Allah and we are the qibla of Allah...' ('Allama Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v.24, p.303)

These traditions inform us that the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (A) were epitomes of religion. Therefore love for religion in the true sense is love for them, and vice versa.

Sh Muhammad Khalfan; The Sacred Effusion

Wisdom of Faith

If you wish your misery to end,
seek also to lose your wisdom—
the wisdom born of human illusion,
that which lacks the light
of God's overflowing grace.
The wisdom of this world increases doubt;
the wisdom of Faith releases you into the sky.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Din ast Husayn - Revival of Religion!

Sh Muhammad Khalfan
 One of the brilliant masterpieces of poetry is the famous couplet written by the Sufi saint Mu’in al-Din Chishti, which starts with “Shah ast Husayn Paadshah ast Husayn Din ast Husayn Din panah ast Husayn…” 

What is so remarkable in this poetry is the phrase “Din ast Husayn” (Husayn is Religion). All those who commemorate Imam al-Husayn (‘a)’s Divine movement, participate in the mourning sessions of Muharram, and lament for Imam al-Husayn (‘a)’s tragic martyrdom, must inculcate this important phrase in their minds and make it their yardstick for deciphering whether the gatherings truly commemorate this unparalleled and unique event in the history of mankind or not. Imam al-Husayn (‘a) represents religion in all the dimensions of human life. He is the epitome of Islam and his aim likewise was the salvation of Islam. 

If our gatherings facilitate the revival of religion within ourselves and the society at large, we must satisfactorily say that we do commemorate the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a), but if they do not serve the aforesaid purpose and are reduced to gatherings for merely earning thawab (Divine Reward), we must struggle to change and render them to be a means for what al-Husayn (‘a) actually rose: Shah ast Husayn paadshah ast Husayn Din ast Husayn Din panah ast Husayn sar daad nadaad dast dar daste Yazid haqqa ke binaaye la ilah ast Husayn (Husayn in the king, the king of kings; Husayn is Religion; Husayn is the Protector of Religion; He gave his head, but not his hand to Yazid; Truly Husayn is the foundation of negating all deities other than Allah).’ 

Therefore if one majlis were to ignite our hearts to change our sinful life to that of obedience to Allah, we have really commemorated the tragic martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a). If one marthiya (elegy) were to make us resolve to pray on time with concentration, establish good relations with our near ones, pay our religious dues, respect our parents, refrain from unlawful deeds and reform the situation of the afflicted ones, we truly have commemorated Husayn’s movement. If participating the majaalis (gatherings of commemoration) revive our inner selves and enable us to relinquish our tarnished past, and begin the life of taqwa, then we truly have mourned for Imam al-Husayn (‘a). Din ast Husayn, Din ast Husayn Din ast Husayn…(Husayn is Religion! Husayn in Religion! Husayn is Religion!)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Never abondon 3 things

"There is no Prophet in the heavens or on earth who does not ask Allah for permission to go to the Ziyarah of Husain. (There is always) a crowd (of Prophets) descending (to go to the Ziyarah of Husain) and a crowd ascending (back to the heavens).
(Imam As-Sadiq, as) Kamil Al-Ziyarat, p225
Never abondon 3 things
Ayatullah Sayed Murtadha Muwahhid Abtahi (ra) narrates:
When the controversy about tobacco had surfaced, some scholars from Isfahaan rose to defy the tyrannical government. Their revolt paid off and the Government had to admit defeat. Then the government officials wrote a letter in Arabic and sent it to Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) in Isfahaan, who was to deliver it to Ayatullah Mirza Mohammed Hussein Shirazi (ra) in Najaf.  
Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) went to Samarrah to deliver the letter; he met Haaj Mirza Fateh Ali Sultan Abaadi (ra). The latter is the teacher of Ayatullah Haaj Mirza Hussein Nadwi (ra) and has written the famous book 'Al Kalematut Tayyebah fil Infaaq.'

Haaj Mirza Fateh Ali Sultan Abaadi (ra) after greeting Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) declared, 'I know the purpose of your visit, it is to deliver the letter.'
Then Mirza Fateh Ali (ra) began narrating the contents of the letter which was still with Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra).

He gave a glimpse of his astonishing spiritual powers by recounting the exact text of the letter. When Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) witnessed this, he was shocked and asked Mirza Fateh Ali (ra) was some recomendation. The latter said, 'But you are yourself very spiritual.

Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) insisted and said,
'I want to acquire some teachings from you that will serve me as guidance.'
Mirza Fateh Ali (ra) replied, 'Never abondon 3 things:
1. The Salaah at the beginning of every month
2. Salaat-ul-Wahshah when you receive the news of someones demise
3. Recitation of Ziyarat-e-Ashura regularly'
After this incident, Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) used to recite Ziyarat-e-Ashura regularly; to the extent that on the day of Ashura, he used to recite this Ziyarah on behalf of each martyr, individually. He never gave up recitation of this Ziyarah.

Even if he was in some gathering (majlis) or in the mosque, he used to get busy in its recitation for this Ziyarah is nothing but the word of Allah narrated to us by the Aimmah (as).
Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) used to recite this Ziyarah with such focus that he did not like to be disturbed while reciting.

Once he was invited for a feast. There, everyone sat down to begin eating. Even Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) was seated along with other guests. But he had begun recitation of this Ziyarah and therefore did not touch the food. When he host learnt of this, he sent the food to Mirza's house.
Haaj Mirza Burujerdi's son-in-law, Mirza Mohamed Baqir (ra) (author of Faz-e-Akber) narrates, 'I witnessed that even during Sakaratul Mout, Haaj Mirza Burujerdi (ra) was engrossed in reciting this Ziyarah. When the intensity of his pain increased, he used to halt and then again resume its recitation. Till such a time that he left for the Aakhirah in that very state.'

Miracles of Ziyarat-e-Ashura

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Ashura and al-Husayn's words

Muhammad ibn Bakran al-Naqqash in the Kufa Mosque and Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ishaq al-Mokattib in Ray - may God be pleased with him - narrated that Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Sa’eed al-Hamadani - a servant of the Hashemites - quoted on the authority of Ali ibn Al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Fadhdhal, on the authority of his father that Abil Hassan Ali ibn Musa Al-Reza (s) said, 
“God will provide for the needs of this world and the Hereafter of whoever does not try to provide for his needs on the Day of Ashura. The Honorable the Exalted God will make the Resurrection Day a day of pleasure and happiness for whoever makes the Day of Ashura his day of calamity, mourning, sorrow and crying. If one considers the Day of Ashura to be a blessed day for him and hoards things up in his house on that day, whatever he hoards up will not be blessed. He will be resurrected along with Yazid, Ubaydillah ibn Ziyad and Umar ibn Sa’d - may God damn them - on the Resurrection Day.”
Ch 28, Part 1, 28-52, 'Uyun Akhbar al-Reza (as); By: Sheikh Sadooq
Imam Al-Hussein (as) on his way to Karbala said:          
This world has changed, snubbed, and its good has turned tail. Nothing has remained from it except a thing that is as scanty as the leftover of a cup and a mean life that is like a noxious grazing. Have you not noticed that the right is ignored and the evil is not forbidden? This is sufficient for making the believers desire for meeting God rightfully. I consider death as happiness and life with the wrongdoers as boredom. People are certainly the slaves of this world. The religion is only a slaver on their tongues. They turn it wherever their livelihood demands. If they are examined by misfortunes, the religious will be very little.
Tuhfaul Uqul; Abu Mohamed al-Hasan Bin Ali Bin al-Husein Bin Shu'ba al-Harrani
Imam Redha (A.S.) said: 
With the advent of the month of Muharram, my father Imam Kadhim (A.S.) would never be seen laughing; gloom and sadness would overcome him for (the first) ten days of the month; and when the tenth day of the month would dawn, it would be a day of tragedy, grief and weeping for him.
Amaali Saduq, pg. 111

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pinnacle of Nobility

Morals from the life of 'Allāma Tabatabai
[On the 30 years death remembrance of Marhum Allamah Tabatabai - died Sunday - Sunday 15th november 1981]

'Allāma Tabatabai's manner and behavior at home was truly like that of Prophet Muhammad (s) (Muhammadī). He never became angry, and we never heard him raise his voice while speaking. While he was gentle, he was also decisive and firm. He gave importance to praying on time, staying up during the nights of the month of Ramadhān, reading the Qur'ān out loud, and maintaining organization in all things. As a result of his strong, kind sentiment and extremely kind heart, he would never refuse anyone. One day he said to me, "from morning until now I have answered the door 24 times in order to reply people's queries".'Allāma's daughter
Although he had very little time, 'Allāma managed his schedule in such a manner that he would spend one hour every afternoon with his family. During this time he was so kind and affectionate that one could not believe that this was an individual occupied with so much work.
'Allāma's daughter

At home 'Allāma was strongly opposed to anyone else carrying out his personal tasks for him. There was always a competition in turning down the bed [at home]. My father would try to carry out this task before anyone else, and my mother would try to anticipate him. Even in the end when he was sick and I used to go to his home, he would get up from his place to pour his own tea despite his state of illness. And if I objected and said, "why didn't you ask me to bring me some tea," he would reply, "no, you are a guest, and you are also a descendant of the Prophet (s) (Sayyid), and I cannot give you any orders".'Allāma's daughter

Eternal Manifestations: by Ahmad Luqmani

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tazkiyat an-Nafs

William Chittick

In order to learn how to see God in oneself and things, one has to learn how to be aware of God constantly. One has to see the shining light of the risen sun in a landscape that others perceive as shrouded in midnight. All the practices of Islam and Sufism are focused on one goal – allowing people to open up their eyes and see. Numerous Koranic verses and prophetic sayings speak of this goal with a great variety of images and expressions. One of the most succinct of these and one that has often been taken by Sufi teachers as the definition of the path to God is tazkiyat an-nafs, a phrase that is usually translated as “purification of the soul.”

The phrase is derived from a Koranic verse that I would translate, with some hesitation, as follows: “By the soul and That which shaped it, and inspired it to its depravity and its godwariness. Prosperous is he who purifies it, and failed has he who buries it” (91:7–10). According to this verse, only those who purify their souls achieve “prosperity.” The Koranic context makes clear that this prosperity pertains to the next world and that the prosperity of this world is irrelevant, if not positively dangerous. Those who fail to purify their souls and instead “bury” their souls – as if they were hiding their souls under the ground – will not be prosperous. Instead, they will be miserable when they move on to their final home, whether or not they consider themselves prosperous here.

Like all translations of Koranic passages, this translation is problematic and tentative. To begin with, “purify” is definitely a misleading translation for tazkiya. All the dictionaries tell us that tazkiya has two senses, though the lexicographers disagree as to which sense is more basic.

One meaning of the verb is to purify and cleanse, the other to augment and increase. Hence tazkiyat an-nafs, as the Koran commentators recognize, can be understood to mean both “purification” of the nafs and “augmentation” of the nafs. Most commentators stress the first meaning, apparently for theological reasons. After all, the primary task of Muslims is to submit themselves to God, and this cannot happen until they rid themselves of things that God does not like. This can be called “purification.” However, it is obvious that the soul also needs to grow and to increase in stature with God’s help. Bringing about this growth can also be called tazkiya.

Thus, two things need to take place, and both are implied in the word tazkiya – purification and augmentation. We can also consider purification as occurring simultaneously with the soul’s growth and increase, and thus the two senses of the word coalesce. The complementarity of these two meanings can be seen in some of the ways in which the word tazkiya is used. The dictionaries tell us that it can be employed for planting seeds or raising cattle, in which cases it means neither to purify nor to augment, but something that combines these two senses. When seeds are planted in the ground, they are purified of everything alien to them and exposed to God’s bounties – earth, water, and sunlight.

This prepares the way for the seeds to increase and grow. Those who plant the seeds neither “purify” them nor “augment” them. Rather, they put them into a situation where they can thrive, prosper, and bring out their own potentiality. Hence tazkiyat annafs means not only “to purify the soul,” but also to allow the soul to grow and thrive by opening it up to the bounty of God. A better translation might be “cultivation of the soul.”

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The most decorative clothing

It is stated in Misbahush-Shari'ah that Imam as Sadiq (AS) said: 

"The most decorative clothing for the believer is the clothing of taqwa, and the finest one is faith. Allah, the Almighty and Glorified, said: 'and the clothing of taqwa, that is the best.' 

As to the exterior clothing, it is a blessing from Allah, as it covers the nakedness of the children of Adam. lt is a grace granted by Allah to His servants, the children of Adam (AS), which He did not grant to other than them. 

To the believers, it is a means to perform the duties imposed by Allah upon them. The best of your clothing is that which does not distract you from Allah, the Almighty and Glorified, rather it brings you nearer to thanking, remembering and obeying Him, and it does not bear you to conceit, hypocrisy, decoration, taking pride and boasting, as these are among the pests of the religion and bring cruelty to the heart. 

When you put on your dress, remember Allah, the concealer of your sins by His mercy. Clothe your interior with truthfulness, as you dressed your exterior with your dress. Let your interior be under the protection of fear, and your exterior under the protection of obedience. 

Take a lesson from the favour of Allah, the Almighty and Glorified, as He created the means for making clothes to conceal the apparent nakedness, and He opened the doors of repentance and imploring in order to cover the internal sins and evil characters. 

Do not uncover anyone's faults, as Allah has covered your greater faults. Attend to your own faults, and forgive that whose state and affair do not concern you. Beware of perishing your life for the action of others, letting the others trade with your capital, while you destroy yourself. 

Forgetting the sins is of the gravest punishments fraom Allah in this world, and of the most effective causes for the punishments in the Hereafter. 

As long as the servant is engaged in his obedience to Allah, the Exalted, in recognizing his own defects and abandoning what is disgraceful in the religion of Allah, he will be isolated from the plagues, plunging in the sea of the mercy of Allah, the Almighty and Glorified, and will win the gems of the advantages of wisdom and expression. But as long as he is forgetting his sins, unfamiliar with his defects, resorting to his own might and force, he will never be successful." 

Misbahush Shar'iah, sec. seven, on "Clothing"; from Adabus Salat by Imam Khomeini

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Signs and Gateways to seeking Yaqin

Jami' al-Sa'adat by Muhammad Mahdi ibn abi Dharr al-Naraqi

There are certain signs associated with the state of certainty against which anyone can measure himself to determine his own degree of conviction. These signs are:

1. Reliance on God in all one's affairs, and having mind only for His good pleasure. To put it succinctly, it should be one's firm belief that: 'There is no power or might [in the world] except that [it is derived] from God, the Most High, and the Most Great.'

2. Humility before God, both inwardly and outwardly, at all times and under all circumstances, and obedience to His commands to the smallest detail.

3. Possession of extraordinary - almost miraculous-powers through being close to God - a condition that comes about after one has realized one's insignificance and weakness before His greatness and majesty.

There are three stages of Certainty
1. `Ilm al-Yaqin: Which is certain and permanent conviction. It is like the conviction of a man who when he sees smoke believes with certainty that there must be a fire too.

2. `Ayn al-Yaqin: Which is beholding something with-either the outer or the inner-eye. Using the above example, it is like the conviction of a man who not only sees the smoke but fire itself.

3. Haqq al-Yaqin: Which is the state of certainty acquired when a form of spiritual and actual union exists between the knower and the known thing. This would be the case, for example, if one should be himself in the midst of fire mentioned in the above example. This is called "the union of the knower and the known", and is discussed in its appropriate place. 

In order to attain haqq al-yaqin one must fulfil certain necessary conditions. These are:
1. The individual soul must have the capacity to receive and understand these truths; the soul of a child, for example, cannot understand the reality of things.
2. The soul should not be one defiled by corruption and sin.
3. Complete attention must be concentrated on the object in question, and the mind must be free of pollution of worldly and base interests.
4. One must be free of any kind of blind imitation and prejudice.
5. In order to attain the aim, relevant and necessary preliminaries must be covered.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Observing Moderation - first step

Allamah Tehrani from the teachings of Allamah Tabatabai

The first step for the spiritual traveler to take is to abandon the contingent affairs; those illusory and fictitious values, and conventional habits and practices that prevent him from traveling on the path. What we mean is that he should live in moderation among the people.
Some people are constantly preoccupied with the rules and customs of society, and all their thoughts and efforts are centered on pleasing others and cultivating friendship. Such people are obsessed with formalities and welcome all kinds of interaction with various people, whether meaningful or useless, for the sake of maintaining their social status.
They habitually subject themselves to these formalities in order to maintain their actual or imagined prestige, often exposing themselves to obligations and severe hardships. In order to preserve that which is peripheral, they set aside the very substance of life. They take common people’s admiration and/or disapproval as criteria and waste their lives conforming to those standards.
The vessel of their being is besieged with the tides of social habits and customs, swept hither and thither by the waves of social decorums and values of the society. Not knowing themselves, this group of people have no will power of their own, but are totally submissive to the will of society and follow that.

In sharp contrast to this group, there is another group of people who withdraw from society and people, renounce all kinds of social customs and norms, and free themselves from all societal obligations and privileges. They do not associate with or frequent the company of people, but live in their peaceful seclusion to the extent that their very seclusion brings them notoriety and recognition.

In order to attain his desired goal, the traveler must always observe moderation, adopt a middle position, refrain from either extreme, and walk on the straight path. This objective will not be achieved unless a reasonable degree of interaction is maintained with society. In such a situation, should a discord inevitably arise between the spiritual traveler and ordinary people as a result of the frequency and/or quality of their association, it would not be very harmful to the wayfarer.

Of course, such a conflict will rarely arise because, while social intercourse is necessary and essential to a certain extent, the traveler would not under any circumstances submit himself [to follow] the manners and practices of the common people: 'And they do not fear the blame of any blamer [in matters relating to God].' (5:54)

This verse in effect points to the traveler’s steadfastness in his pursuit of the straight path and his fortitude in his beliefs and practices.
On the whole, one can say that the wayfarer must examine every social issue, evaluate its advantages and disadvantages, and never submit to the moral values and modalities of the masses of the people.

Kernel of the Kernel; by Sayyid Muhammad Husain Husaini Tehrani, From the Teachings of Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Laylat al-Qadr and the Prophet's Heart

(5 minute read featuring an exceptional dimension of Laylat al-Qadr)
Reza Shah-Kazemi

Outwardly, Surat al-Qadr describes the revelation to the Prophet of the Qur'an, in its entirety, in synthesized form, on one of the odd nights during the last ten nights of Ramadan; inwardly, or esoterically, the 'Night of Power' is interpreted as an allusion to the very soul of the Prophet.
Exoterically, the particular verses of the Qur'an are deemed to have descended 'upon' the heart of the Prophet (26:192-194); but esoterically the essence of the Qur'an is deemed to have descended 'into' the heart of the Prophet.

Kashani, for example, tells us that the Night of Power is 'the Muhammadan constitution in a veiled state' - that state in which, alone, he can receive Revelation, after having had 'essential vision', that is, of the Essence beyond forms, and thus, beyond Revelation (Kashani, Tafsir Ibn Arabi, vol. 2 p. 447). What this kind of interpretation alludes to is the spiritual power inherent in the absolute receptivity of the state of the Prophet's soul. This receptivity can also be considered as total emptiness, and thus as faqr; and, at the highest level, as fana'; a state of total extinction from oneself. Applied analogically, it can be said that every soul must make itself into a kind of 'Laylat al-Qadr', by emptying itself of egotism and worldliness, in order to be 'full' of receptivity to the divine; one aims to become a vessel made empty for the influx of divine grace.

For emptiness of the qualities of the ego implies fullness of the qualities of God. It is for this reason that the heart of the Prophet is compared in Islamic spirituality to a spotless mirror; there is no 'spot' or trace of individualism or egocentricity which might prevent the qualities of God from being reflected by the heart of the Prophet.

The manifestation of divine reality through the spiritual 'constitution' of the Prophet - through him as the Laylat al-Qadr - by no means entails a reduction of the divine to the human. It does not, in other words, imply shirk. Rather it implies the most radical display of tawhid. For the Prophet's soul, being utterly effaced before God, allows the oneness of God to display its various modes of perfection, unimpeded by any individualistic veils; those perfections of unity, or divine qualities, which can be manifested will be manifested - and to perfection - through the effaced soul of the Prophet. The human manifestation of virtue becomes but an appearance; the reality of this manifestation is purely divine: 'And thou didst not throw when thou threwest, but God it was who threw' (8:17), God tells the Prophet.

The Prophets virtues, then, are not his own; they must be seen as the reflections of qualities which are ultimately, or metaphysically, God's own Names and Attributes. These virtues are human and created in form, but divine and uncreated in essence. When, therefore, he is described as ra'uf, 'kind', and rahim, 'merciful' (9:128), one cannot but see these traits, according to the metaphysical logic of tawhid, and in the light of the effacement of the Prophet, as being reflections of the divine qualities, al-Ra'uf and al-Rahim. Herein lies one of the meanings of the 'tremendous character' (khulqun azim) ascribed to the Prophet (4:68); one should note that al-Azim, also, is one of the Names of God.

The spotless mirror, the Prophets heart as the Laylat al-Qadr, not only reflects faithfully the light of the Qur'an revealed to him, it also reflects the very Face of God, that Face which the Qur'an tells is visible, in principle, wherever we may turn (2:115).

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Degrees of Fast observers at Sahri and Iftar; and a prescription for those times

Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi

Fast observers from the point of view of their intention (niyyat) for eating at dawn (sahri) and fast breaking (iftar) may be classified as follows:

1. Those who do not make any special intention for eating sahri and iftar and simply eat to enjoy the food taste as well as to make up for the hunger during the fasting.

2. Those who eat sahri and iftar with the intention of enjoying the food taste and make up for the hunger, but at the same time with the intention that eating sahri and iftar are recommended (mustahab) and help a person in his worshipping.

3. Those who eat sahri and iftar because, it is recommended, Allah likes it, and it helps a person in worshipping, but in addition to that also pay due regard to special etiquette and instructions about sahri and iftar - etiquette such as recital of Holy Qur'an, engaging in special supplications before, after, and during sahri and iftar, and praising and thanking Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted).

Special Etiquette
One of the most important etiquette and instruction is the recital of Surah al-Qadr (Power) before taking sahri and iftar as well as recital of the illustrious and illuminated supplication:
"Allahuma rabb al-nur al-'adheem" (Allah is the possessor of great illumination)
which has been given in the book of Iqbal written by the most esteemed and famous scholar Sayyid ibn Taoos.

About this supplication it has been narrated from Imam al-Sadiq [a] that the Holy Prophet [s] has recommended recital of this prayer to Commander of the Faithful [s] Imam 'Ali [a] and said that Archangel Gabriel came to me and said:
"Whoever in the Holy Month of Ramadhan before iftar recites this prayer, Allah answers his prayer, accepts his prayer and fasting, grants his ten requirements, forgives his sins, removes his grief, makes his heart at ease, grants his wishes, makes his deeds to ascend upward with the deeds of prophets and righteous saints, and on the Day of Judgement brings him to His presence with a face illuminated like bright moon."

Suluk-i Arifan; Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Fast of the Prophet (s)

When the Month of Ramadhan entered, the Noble Prophet (s) freed all the prisoners and gave (something) to all the beggars. [al-Faqih 2:99, Amali al-Saduq: 57]

In the second volume of Tarikh al-Nisabur, from Khalf ibn Ayyub al-’Amiri in his narration about the Holy Prophet (s): When the month of Ramadhan would enter, he would grow pale and his prayers would increase and he would supplicate and beseech Allah entreatingly. [Iqbal al-A'mal: 20]

'The Holy Prophet (s) had a drink with which he would break his fast and a drink for sahr. Sometimes he would have only one (drink) - sometimes it would be milk and sometimes it would be a drink with soaked bread.' [Makarim al-Akhlaq: 32]

From 'Abdillah ibn Maskan from Abi 'Abdillah (a) who said: When the Prophet of Allah (s) opened his fast, he started with a sweet dish, and if he did not have it, he would partake some sugar or dried dates and if he did not have any of these, he would open his fast with lukewarm water. [al-Kafi 4:153]

Abi 'Abdillah (a) said: 'The first thing that the Noble Prophet (s) broke his fast with in the season of fresh dates was fresh dates and in the season of dry dates was dry dates.' [al-Kafi 4:153, Da'im al-Islam 2:111]

Ja'far (a) from his fathers (a): When the Holy Prophet (s) fasted and did not find anything sweet (to break his fast with), he would break his fast with water. [al-Kafi 4:152]

In some narrations: 'He (s) would sometimes break his fast with raisins.' [Tahdhib al-Ahkam 4:198]

Narrated from the family of the Holy Prophet (s): It is recommended to have the suhur (the Last meal before daybreak during the month of Ramadhan) even if it is only a glass of water. Also: It is narrated that it is better to have dry dates and ‘al-Sawiq’ (A dish made from wheat or barley mixed with sugar and dates) because this is what the Holy Prophet (s) used to have in his suhur. [al-Muqni'ah: 316]

From 'Ali (a) who said: The Holy Prophet (s) would roll up his mattress and intensify his worship on the last ten days of the month of Ramadhan. He used to wake his family on the twenty-third night and he would sprinkle the faces of those who were asleep with water on this night. And Fatimah (a) did not let anyone in her family sleep on this night and in order to enable them to remain awake, she gave them less food and prepared them from the morning saying: “The one who does not benefit from the blessings of this night is surely deprived.” [Da'im al-Islam 1:282]

In his narration from Abi Bakr who said: When the last ten nights (of the month of Ramadhan) would enter, he (s) would prepare himself, leave his wives, keep awake at night and occupy himself with worship. [al-Kafi 4:155]

In his narration from Ja'far from his fathers from 'Ali (a): 'When the Holy Prophet (s) wanted to go for the prayer on the day of Fitr, he would (first) have a breakfast of dates and raisins.' [al-Ja'fariyat: 40, Nawadir al-Rawandi: 39, Bihar al-Anwar 91:122]

Friday, 29 July 2011

The first night of Shahru Ramadhan...A prescription from Ayatullah Tabrizi

A thing which a prudent wayfarer must not forget during the first night of the Holy month of Ramadan is resorting (tawassul) to the impeccable ones (Ma'sumin) in that night. 

It is up to him to stretch his hand sincerely towards the threshold of those exalted saintly personalities; present their blessed, glorious, and beautiful faces as intercessors for our unblessed and polluted (with sins) faces, thus, looking towards the Lord through THEIR splendour and magnanimity because, it is not appropriate and desirable to look towards Him directly with a face blackened with sins, and cheeks rusted with transgressions. Instead, he should plead with them, should open his tongue full of grief and anxiety, and should request them to act as intercessors for pleading his case.

Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted), being the most Compassionate and most Merciful, undoubtedly would accept the plea and intercession of those compassionate and exalted personalities, especially, those sinless noble ones, to whom He Himself has taught generosity and compassion, and allowed them to act as intercessors.

Yes! It is up to the prudent wayfarer to mobilize all his talents, expertise, strength, and endeavours for resorting towards them; crying and shedding tears; pleading and requesting for intercession and support with these exalted saintly personalities; so that through resorting for one hour, he may earn the prosperity for one year, and through such insignificant efforts might achieve huge gains. Also, he should not forget to repeat this resorting and crying every morning and evening, and by sending salutations (upon them) everyday and resorting to them every night, and  should strengthen his commitment towards them.

Another important deed is to take a bath (ghusl) during the first night, all the odd nights, and the first day. It has been narrated in a tradition that: "Whoever undertakes ghusl with running water during the first night of the Holy Month, and pours at least thirty handfuls of water upon his head, they would remain in the state of cleanliness (taharat) till the next Shahru Ramadhan."

And in another tradition taking a bath in the above manner has been described as medicine for the whole year.
Ayatullah Mirza Jawad Maliki Tabrizi; Suluk-i Arifan

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Four major things the 12th Imam will perform...

[Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi]

At the head of all the things that the Imam will perform, we see in the tradition that there are four major things which he will do which we summarize as being:

1. Correcting the Theological Beliefs:
“There will not remain a single stone house, mud house, nor a tent upon the entire Earth except the word (teachings) of Islam will be in that place (and thus, polytheism will no longer exist).” [Tafsir al-Qurtubi [Imam Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Bakr al-Ansari al-Qurtubi], vol. 12, pg. 300]

2. Completion of the Intelligence: The advancement of knowledge and intelligence will also take place (at this time), just as the late 'Allamah Majlisi  makes clear by quoting a tradition from the Infallibles in relation to this point:
“When our Qaim makes his advent, he will place his hand over the heads of the servants…” It is possible that this means that people will be under the direction and guidance of the Imam. “…so then (through this act), he will gather together their intelligence and complete their knowledge.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, pg. 338]

3. Justice and Equality: In the various traditions, it has been mentioned that:
“He (the Imam) will fill the Earth with justice and equality just as it had been filled with oppression and tyranny.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 14, pg. 33]

4. Correction of the Moral Ethical Traits:
From the traditions which speak about the signs at the end of time, we can deduce that removing all of the corrupt ethical traits and bringing back the moral values of Islam back to life will be the duty of the Imam.

There are also traditions which state that before the advent of Imam al-Qaim (as), many corrupt ethical traits such as: adultery, theft, bribery, selling less that what one paid for, the drinking of alcohol, murdering of countless innocent people and other such sins will be very common.
Thus, the meaning of this tradition is that when Imam al-Mahdi (as) rises up to remove and eradicate all of these things, the entire valued and cherished system of moral ethics would already be completely destroyed and it is Imam al-Mahdi (as) who will restore it.

That person who wishes to be a helper of the Imam must work tirelessly in these four points mentioned and the one who does not possess any of these four points within himself, however prays to Allah (SwT) to make him of the helpers of the Imam (as) will see that his prayers will be far from being answered.

If it was made completely clear for what reasons the Imam would make his advent, then this would definitely change the face of the society.

One who does not possess any of these traits can not expect to stand in the ranks with the Imam. Therefore, it is very good that we actively do something to call the attention of the people towards the goals and objectives of the Imam so that all of us can mound ourselves to becoming better human beings.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

If Sahib Al-Zaman Were To Come (Right Now)…

[Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi]

Speaking about our living Imam is both enlightening and one which spiritually trains and educates all of us. The late 'Allamah Majlisi  has narrated a tradition in relation to Imam al-Mahdi (as) which states:
“When al-Qaim makes his advent, he will judge with justice and during the time of his advent, all forms of tyranny will be removed and the paths (towards him) will be made safe. The Earth will bring forth Her blessings and the rights of each and every person will be given to them and no person who follows any other religion (din) will remain except that they will accept al-Islam and will come towards true faith.” [Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, pg. 338]

In this tradition, there are seven tasks which have been mentioned that the Imam will accomplish:

1 and 2: The government of justice and the removal of all forms of tyranny: The opposite of justice is oppression - not tyranny - whereas equality is the opposite of tyranny (according to the 'Arabic definition and the Islamic understanding of these words and their meanings).

3. The paths will be made safe: The paths towards the Imam will be made safe and secure.

4. Natural Blessings: The Earth will bring forth her blessings, now whether these are the blessings that come about through farming, blessing of the minerals from the Earth or other types of powers and energies that are presently hidden from us - these may all be correct.

5. Responsibilities will be returned to their rightful holder: The rights and responsibilities will be given back to those who have lost them, and this is completely opposite to our present day and age in which a great number of jobs and occupations are in the hands of those who have no knowledge of them, because the issue of who they know has taken precedence over what they know.

6. The Ruling of al-Islam: No other religion will remain on the Earth except for Islam and thus all other religions will fuse into one Religion and that will be al-Islam.
7. Sincere attraction to al-Islam: This part of the tradition has two meanings to it. It is possible that it refers to the point that everyone will become followers of the teachings of the Ahlul Bait, or it could mean that in addition to people showing an outward form of true faith, they will also have the inner belief to make them true believers.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

'UNVEILING': Mulla Sadra’s unparalleled words

Once a heedful person is awakened, either by himself or because of somebody else, so that he becomes interested in the tillage of the Hereafter and its trade, he should know that there are certain conditions that he has to observe in the beginning of his discipleship, and there is a certain stronghold that he has to hold on to, and a fortress in which he has to protect himself and keep himself safe from the enemies who want to obstruct his way.

He also has certain duties he has to observe at the time of his wayfaring.

The conditions are to lift the veil and the barrier that exists between the disciple and the Real, for people are deprived from meeting the Real because of the veils which accumulate and the barrier that falls in their path. The Exalted God says, ‘We have put a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, then We have blindfolded them, so that they do not see.’ [36:9]

And the veils are of four kinds: wealth, worldly rank, imitation and disobedience.

In order to lift the first [wealth], except for what is necessary, he has to separate himself from and abandon his possession, so that his heart would not be engaged by even a dirham, for he would be veiled from the Real to that extent.
To lift the second [worldly rank], he has to distance himself from the places of worldly rank, and to prefer humility and listlessness, and flee the causes of remembrance and fame.
To lift the third [imitation], he should refrain from following one sect in preference over another sect, and find out the truth of what he has learned as a result of imitation by spiritual struggle rather than debate.
The fourth [disobedience] is lifted by repentance and leaving the places of oppression and deciding not to return to them, and by regretting truly what has passed, compensating the wrong done to others and satisfying the opponents.

Unless the veils of sins are lifted though what has been said, the gate of unveiling would never be opened to the wayfarer.
Sadr al-Din Shirazi often known as Mulla Sadra

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Amir al-Mu’minin (AS) summoning ‘Asim ibn Ziyad

Ali ibn Muhammad has narrated from Salih ibn abu Hammad and a number of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad and others through different chains of narrators.

The Hadith is about the protest of Amir al-Mu’minin (AS) against ‘Asim ibn Ziyad who had confined himself in a gown away from the people.

His brother, al-Rabi‘ ibn Ziyad complained before Amir al-Mu’minin (AS) complained that his
‘Asim’s family had become depressed and his sons had been sadden because of his behavior.

Amir al-Mu’minin (AS) had summoned ‘Asim ibn Ziyad and was brought before him. When Amir al-Mu’minin (AS) saw him he frowned at him and said,

"Why did you not feel ashamed before your wife?
Why did you not show kindness to your sons?
Do you think Allah had made good things lawful to and then He would dislike if you would use them?
You are less significant to Allah than such a thing.
Is it not Allah Who has said,
"He spread out the earth for the people (55:10).
There exists all kinds of fruits, palm-trees with sheathed blossoms, (55:11)
grain with its husk and aromatic herbs (55:12).
Is it not Allah Who has said,
"He has made the two oceans meet each other,
but has created a barrier between them so that they will not merge totally (55:20).
(Jinn and mankind) - which of the favors of your Lord do you then deny? (55:21).
From the two oceans comes pearls and coral." (55:22)

I swear by Allah, the use of the bounties of Allah in deeds is more preferred to Him than then using in words. Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most gracious, has said, "...and proclaim the bounties of your Lord." (93:11)

‘Asim said, "O Amir al-Mu’minin (AS), "Why have you confined yourself to tasteless food and harsh garments?"

He said, "How inconsiderate of you! Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most gracious, has made obligatory for the Imams of justice to measure themselves with the people of lowest standard of living so that the poors’ poverty would not plunge him in despair."

‘Asim then abandoned the gown and begun to live an normal life."

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A narration about Love from a Lover: Maitham

The knowledgeable scholar Abu Ali Hasan bin Abi Jaafar Al-Tousi, narrated from his blessed father Abu Jaafar Mohammad bin Hasan Al- Tousi, from the scholar Abu Abdillah Mohammad bin Mohammad bin No’man, from Abul Qasem Jaaafar bin Mohammad, from his father, from Saad bin Abdullah, from Ahmad bin Mohammad bin Isa, from Safwan bin Yahya, from Yaqoub bin Shoaib, from Saleh bin Maitham Al-Tammar, from Maitham Al-Tammar, who said:

We spent one night with the Commander of the Believers, Ali bin Abi Taleb, and he said:

Every slave of Allah who believes in Him finds our love in his heart, and every slave whom Allah resents (because of their disbelief) hates us. We are happy for those who love us, and we know those who hate us.

The days of those who love us are passing while waiting and expecting the Mercy of Allah. But the days of those who hate us are passing while they are building their houses on the brink of Hell. And it is as if the houses of those who hate us are collapsing into Hell, while the doors of mercy are open to those who love us.

So those of you who love us - enjoy mercy. And those of you who hate us - enjoy Hell.

If a slave does not neglect our love, it is because of the good that Allah has placed in his heart.

If you love those who hate us then you do not love us, because our love and the love for those who hate us cannot be placed in the same heart. Allah says, “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast” (33:4).

Therefore, you do not have two hearts to love: one heart devoted to our love and another heart devoted to the love of our enemies. 
Therefore, those who love us are pure with our love just like pure gold.

We are the nobleones and our children are the children of the prophets. I am the successor of all the successors, and I am the party of Allah and His Messenger. The group of Shaytan are the oppressors.

Those of you who want to know if you love us should test your hearts. 
If you find the love of those who incite hatred toward us in your heart, know that Allah, Jibraeel, and Mikaeel are your enemies, and that Allah is the enemy of the disbelievers.

Hadith 94; The Glad Tidings of Mustafa for the Shia of Murtadha