'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

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Great tribulations for the People of Islam

ya aba `abdillahi
laqad `adhumat alrraziyyatu
wa jallat wa `adhumat almuseebatu bika
`alayna wa `ala jami`i ahli al-islam
wa jallat wa `adhumat museebatuka
fi alssamaawaati `ala jami`i ahli alssamawaat
O’ Aba 'Abdillah! Surely the tribulations are great and unbearable and your tragedy is great for us, and for all of the people of Islam; it is unbearable and great is your tragedy in the heavens and for all of the dwellers of the heavens.
[Ziyarat al-Ashura]

In this section of the ziyarat, we address our Imam (as) directly and recall the tragedies which befell him, and our grief and remorse at what occurred on the plains of Karbala. The historians have stated that from the first day of creation until the Resurrection comes, the tribulations which Imam Husayn (as) faced are the greatest and the most severe – and there is no other historical event which comes close to what he went through [events such as what transpired to the daughter of the Prophet, Fatimah az-Zahra (as) and her husband Imam 'Ali (as) are also tragic events in the life of the Ahlul Bayt and have their own ranking in terms of the tragedy and loss]. However, why such an emphasis on recalling this tragedy in this particular way and with such words?
The late scholar, Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari has written that, “Once, I sat down and tried to count the number of reasons why this event was so unbearable and I was able to come up with around twenty-one reasons and I do not think that there is any other single event in this world which could compare to this injustice...”

When we study the event of Karbala we see that no one was spared – the infant child, the young adults, the grown men, the elderly people and even the women of the camp! Not only were they murdered in cold blood, but even after their death, they were not shown respect and this is evident from the trampling of their bodies by the horses and their decapitation and parading through the streets of Kufah and Sham (present day regions of Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon)!

In addition, we read in the ziyarat that this is a tribulation that not only the people of the Earth feel grief and cry about, but even the angels in the Heavens express remorse about! In this regards, we have numerous Hadith, however it suffices us to quote the following from the 6th Imam, Jafar b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) where he said, “What is wrong with you that you do not go (to the ziyarat of the grave of al-Husayn)? Surely 40,000 angels are at his grave, crying, until the Day of Resurrection.”

'Ali Asghar 'Azizi Tehrani; The Torch of Perpetual Guidance; Summarized and Translated by Saleem Bhimji

Monday, 13 August 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 4 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Dua al-Iftitah is a well-known supplication and is generally recited during each night of the month of Ramadan. 

[Towards the end of the du'a,] we make a very beautiful and important request to Allah (swt) for ourselves:

اَللَّهُمَّ مَا عَرَّفْتَنَا مِنَ ٱلْحَقِّ فَحَمِّلْنَاهُ
وَمَا قَصُرْنَا عَنْهُ فَبَلِّغْنَاهُ
O Allah, let us bear out that which You make known to us as the truth
and let us attain that which we fall short to do.

This concept of 'bearing' is very important. Regarding this, Chapter 62 Verse 5 reads:

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارًا ۚ بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ 
The likeness of those who were charged with the Taurat, then they did not observe it, is as the likeness of the ass bearing books, evil is the likeness of the people who reject the communications of Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.

Thus someone may be given a divine book but it does not mean that they will necessarily be able to 'bear' it, meaning that they may not be able to take it on board. Therefore, it is important to carry and uphold the truth that we know, to take it on board, and whosoever is able to do this enjoys a high position. 

Furthermore, we ask Allah (swt) to inform us about the parts of the truth of which we are unaware. It is surely enough for us if this part of the du'a is answered, because we will then know the truth about which we were previously and unaware and we will be able to commit ourselves to and implement the truth which we already do know. It would seem that these are actually the only two things which we really need because in Islam everything is facilitated by commitment to the truth and so if we are committed to the truth then everything else will be sorted out.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 3 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Special salutations to Imam Mahdi (a)

The salutations to Imam Mahdi (a), the Imam of our time, are not limited to simple salutations but instead are expanded on in several phrases and then attention is focused on the last Imam until the end of the du'a.
Firstly we read:

اَللَّهُمَّ وَصَلِّ عَلَىٰ وَليِّ امْرِكَ
ٱلْقَائِمِ ٱلْمُؤَمَّلِ
وَٱلْعَدْلِ ٱلْمُنْتَظَرِ
وَحُفَّهُ بِمَلائِكَتِكَ ٱلْمُقَرَّبِينَ
وَايِّدْهُ بِرُوحِ ٱلْقُدُسِ
يَا رَبَّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ
O Allah, (please do) send blessings to the custodian of Your commandments,
the vigilant guardian, the reliable patron,
and the awaited establisher of justice.
And (please) surround him with Your favorite angels
and assist him with the Holy Spirit.
O Lord of the worlds!
In this passage we ask Allah (swt) to support our Imam (a) with the Holy Spirit. The concept of the Holy Spirit (Ruuh al-Qudus) is very important, especially for Shi'a Muslims. According to the glorious Qur'an and various narrations, one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to support and guide good people. For example, the Qur'an says that the Holy Spirit supported Prophet Jesus (a) and thus we read in Chapter 5, Verse 110:

إِذْ أَيَّدْتُكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ
when I strengthened you with the holy Spirit, 

If we are good and pious people, we too can hope that Allah (swt) will support us and one of the ways in which He (swt) does this is to ask the Holy Spirit to help us.

It should be mentioned that whilst Sunni scholars normally identify the Holy Spirit with the archangel Gabriel, Shi'a Muslims, as taught by the Holy Imams (a) hold that the Holy Spirit is a creature at a higher level than Gabriel. Abu Basir, a great companion of Imam Sadiq (a), says:

'I asked Imam Sadiq (a) about the verse 'They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, 'The Spirit is of the command of my Lord' (17:58).' He responded that the Spirit is a creature greater than Gabriel and Michael.' [Kulayni, Muhammad Ibn Ya'qub, Usul al-Kafi, vol.1 (Tehran Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1388 AH) p. 273, no.3].

As confirmation of the fact that the Holy Spirit is not the same as Gabriel, one may refer to Verse 4 of Chapter 97 of the Glorious Qur'an which reads:

تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ 
The angels and Gibreel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair,

The verse explains that on the night of Qadr, the Holy Spirit descends along with the angels. This suggests that the Holy Spirit is different from the angels which include Gabriel and Michael.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 2 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Dua al-Iftitah is a well-known supplication and is generally recited during each night of the month of Ramadan. 

The second theme which is repeated in this du'a regards salutations being offered to the Noble Prophet (s) and His Household (a) and when such salutations are mentioned, then several qualities of the Noble Prophet (s) are described. Some of the qualities of the Prophet's Household in general are also briefly mentioned but when the 12th Imam (a) is described, several of his qualities are referred to. The du'a continues in this spirit of remembrance of the 12th Imam (a) with various requests being made to Allah (swt) regarding the last Imam right up until the end of the du'a where the emphasis then shifts to asking Allah (swt), because of the Imam (a), to grant us our requests concerning what we need for our community.

Regarding the Prophet (s), we read:
اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ عَبْدِكَ وَرَسُولِكَ
وَامِينِكَ وَصَفِيِّكَ وَحَبِيبِكَ
وَخِيَرَتِكَ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ
وَحَافِظِ سِرِّكَ
وَمُبَلِّغِ رِسَالاَتِكَ
It is interesting to see that the very first quality which has been mentioned here for the Noble Prophet (s) is that he is a servant of Allah (swt)...

...According to this part of the du'a, salutations can increase and expand. When we send salawat (salutations) or salaam (peace) to the Noble Prophet (s) and our Imams (a), we do not send our salutations or peace directly but instead we ask Allah (swt) Himself to send them these salutations and peace. Indeed salaam is a prayer and so we are asking Allah (swt) to send peace to that person.

Thus we say:

اللّهُمّ صَلّ عَلَى مُحَمّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمّدٍ
'O Allah! Send salutations to Muhammad (s) and his Household.'

And so when we ask Allah (swt) Himself to send salutations, such salutations are not limited to the time when we say them: rather, we can ask Allah (swt) to send salutations all the time. Therefore, we read in one of the Ziyaaraat for Imam Husayn (a):

عَلَيْكُمْ مِنِّي جَمِيعاً سَلاَمُ ٱللَّهِ ابَداً
مَا بَقيتُ وَبَقِيَ ٱللَّيْلُ وَٱلنَّهَارُ
'Be with you, from me, the peace of Allah (swt) as long as I live and (even if I am not alive) as long as there is day and night.' 
[Tusi, Misbaah al-Mutahajjid, p. 776]

So this means that we request Allah (swt) to send His peace to Imam Husayn (a) until the end of time. So, again we have this beautiful concept that the salaam does not remain in the same state but grows and becomes better and better.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Understanding al-Iftitah Part 1 of 4

Shaykh Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
Excerpts from the commentary of Dua al-Iftitah

Dua al-Iftitah is a well-known supplication and is generally recited during each night of the month of Ramadan. It is called 'Dua al-Iftitah' because it begins with:
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي افْتَتِحُ ٱلثَّنَاءَ بِحَمْدِكَ
Thus we say that we begin or open praising Allah (swt) by remembering all the great qualities that He (swt) possesses and all the many favours that He (swt) has bestowed upon us.

There are several points that have been emphasized in this du'a, the first and foremost of which is praise of Allah (swt). Praising God the Almighty is perhaps the most important thing mentioned in this du'a. Obviously praising Allah (swt) is not the same as thanking Him (swt). There is a difference between hamd (praising) and shukr (thanksgiving). Praising Allah (swt) requires remembering and mentioning the good qualities that He (swt) possesses and all the good things that He (swt) has done for us, whether they relate to oneself personally or not. However, thanksgiving is about those things that in a way or another actually relate to oneself.

For example, an artist may produce a beautiful work of art and then someone who sees this work of art may praise the artist but would not thank the artist, unless the work had been produced specifically for this person or for someone who relates to this person. Therefore, in general, when Allah (swt) does something good for other people, or even other creatures such as animals, we can praise Him (swt) for this. Indeed the performance of an action by Him (swt) is not even necessary in order to praise Him (swt) as we can praise Him (swt) simply for the qualities He (swt) possesses.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Teachers of the Angels Part 2 of 2

Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani quoting Shaykh Saduq

After that Allah created Adam (a.s.) and entrusted our effulgence to his loins and due to our respect and honor ordered the angels to prostrate before him. Their prostration was due to their servitude of God and their respect and honor to His Eminence, Adam (a.s.) was due to His obedience. Because we were in his lions, then why shouldn't we be superior to the angels, as all of them prostrated before His Eminence, Adam (a.s.).
And when I was taken to the heavens, His Eminence, Jibraeel (a.s.) recited the Azan and Iqamah twice and told me, ‘O Muhammad go ahead and lead the Prayers’, I said: ‘O Jibraeel, should I take precedence over you?’ ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘because god had given superiority to all prophets over the angels and endowed you with a special excellence’. Thus, I stood in the front and prayed with him. But I do not say this due to pride.
After that I reached up to the veil of effulgence and His Eminence, Jibraeel (a.s.) said, ‘Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), now you go ahead,’ and he himself remained there. I said, ‘You are leaving me at this juncture?’ He replied, ‘O Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) this is the limit that Allah has fixed for me, if I take a step forward my wings will burn down.’ Thus I was put into the ocean of effulgence and I began to swim in the seas of divine lights. Till I reached at that place in the cosmos up to which Allah desired.
Then a voice came to me, ‘O Muhammad.’ I said: ‘Here I am My Lord, You the Bestower of honor and dignity.’ ‘Muhammad, you are My servant, My messenger among My creatures, You are My Proof upon My servants. I have created Paradise for everyone who obeys you and prepared the fire of Hell for all those who oppose you. I have made favors and honor incumbent upon Me for your successors, and made divine rewards incumbent for their Shias.’
I said, ‘My Lord, please introduce my successors to me.’ He said, ‘Your successors are those whose names are inscribed on the empyrean of My throne.’ So I looked and I was before my Lord. I saw twelve lights on the empyrean of the throne. In each light I saw a green line. The names of each of my successors were written in it. The first name was that of Ali Ibne Abi Talib and the last was Mahdi.
I asked, ‘O my Lord, are they my successors after me?’ The reply was, ‘Yes, O Muhammad, after you, they are My friends, legatees, the chosen ones and My proof on My servants. They are your successors and Caliphs and the best of Creations after you. By My majesty and glory, I shall reveal My religion through them and I shall exalt My words through them and through the last of them, I shall purify the earth from My enemies. And I shall make him the absolute master of the whole world. I shall make the wind subservient to his command and I shall make the hard cloud proof for him so that he may ride upon it to go wherever to likes in the sky and the earth and I shall assist him with My armies. And I shall strengthen him with My angels. So that My call is raised and all the creatures gather upon My Oneness. Thus his rulership would endure and continue and from My friends, I shall make one after the other the leaders of My faith till Qiyamat. And Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and blessings be upon our prophet, Muhammad and his purified and chaste progeny.’”

[Mikyalul Makarim Fee Fawaaid ad-Duaa Lil Qaaim; Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani, quoting Kamaluddin wa Tamaam an-Ni’mah; Shaykh Saduq; Vol. 1/254]

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Teachers of the Angels Part 1 of 2

Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani quoting Shaykh Saduq

Shaykh Sadooq has quoted an authentic tradition from His Eminence, Ali bin Moosa ar-Reza (a.s.) from his father, Moosa bin Ja’far from his father, Ja’far bin Muhammad from his father Muhammad bin Ali from his father Ali bin al-Husain from his father, Husain bin Ali from his father Ali bin Abi Talib that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
“The Almighty Allah has not created any creature better than me and there is no one more respectable near Him than me.”
Ali (a.s.) says that he asked, “O Allah’s Messenger, are you better or Jibraeel?”
He (the Prophet) replied, “O Ali, Almighty Allah has given superiority to the Messenger Prophets over His proximate angels and He gave me superiority over all the Messengers and Prophets. And O Ali, after me you and after youthe Imams are having superiority over them because the angels of God are our servants and servants of our friends. O Ali, the bearers of the Arsh and the angels around it praise and glorify their Lord and they pray for the forgiveness of those who believe in your Wilayat (mastership). O Ali, if we hadn’t been there, Almighty Allah would neither have created His Eminence, Adam (a.s.) nor Her Eminence, Hawwa (a.s.); neither Paradise nor Hell, neither the earth nor the sky.
And why shouldn’t we be superior to the angels? We have preceded them in praising and glorifying our Lord. It is so because the first creations of Allah were the souls and He made us speaking with His unity and magnification.Then He created the angelsWhen they saw us with an effulgence (Noor), they considered our affair to be of a great importance.
I said: ‘Glory be to Allah’, so that the angels may understand that we are creatures and servants of God. And that the Almighty Allah is more exalted and purified than our qualities. So by our glorification the angels learnt how to glorify Allah and they understood that God is purified and clean of qualities (of the creatures).
And when they noticed our greatness and majesty, we said: ‘There is no god except Allah’, so that the angels may understand that there is no one worthy of deification except Allah and that we are the servants of God, we are not partners in His divinity. Thus they (also) reiterated: ‘There is no god except Allah.’
When the angels realized our greatness we said: ‘Allah is the Greatest’, so that they may understand that God is much greater than which can be imagined and all the greatness, power and strength is reserved only for God.
After that when they saw that Allah has bestowed us with honor and power, we said: ‘There is no power and strength except by Allah, the High and the great’, so that the angels may understand that there is no power and might except for Allah. Thus the angels also repeated: ‘There is no power and strength except by Allah.’
When they witnessed the bounties that Allah has bestowed on us and that our obedience is made incumbent on all creatures by Him, we said: ‘AlHamdulillaah’ (Praise be to Allah) so that the angels may know that it is the right of Allah upon us to thank Him for His bounties. So the angels also said: ‘Al Hamdulillaah’.
In other words, the angels received guidance through our Barakat, and understood the unity, glorification, praise and magnification of God.
[Mikyalul Makarim Fee Fawaaid ad-Duaa Lil Qaaim; Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Musawi Isfahani, quoting Kamaluddin wa Tamaam an-Ni’mah; Shaykh Saduq; Vol. 1/254]

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Mukhlasin and Mukhlisin

Shaykh Saleem Bhimji

There is a stark difference between two relatively similar terms: al-Mukhlasin and al-Mukhlisin – and even though there is only one vowel point which makes the pronunciation different, however that one difference radically changes the meaning of the words.

In his seminal work, Tafsire Namuneh, Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi states that: It must be noted that the word “al-Mukhlas” is the passive participle (al-ism al-maf’ul) and is in the meaning of ‘one who has been made sincere’; while the word “al-Mukhliswhich is the active participle (al-ism al-fa’il) can be rendered as ‘one who is making himself sincere’. By carefully studying the verses of the Qur’an we clearly see that “al-Mukhlis” has been used more often than “al-Mukhlas” and [this word] is used in reference to a person who is at the first of many stages of perfection and on the path of self-building, for example in the verse of the Qur’an which states:

فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
“When they board the ship, they invoke God putting exclusive faith in Him, but when He delivers them to land, behold, they ascribe partners [to Him.]” (Al-Ankabut (29) v. 65)

And also:
وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ
“Yet they were not commanded except to worship Allah, dedicating their faith to Him as men of pure faith, and to maintain the prayer, and pay the zakat. That is the upright religion.” (Al-Bayyinah (98), v. 5)

However the word “al-Mukhlas” is a higher station which one can only attain after traversing the station of the struggle with the self; and this is the level at which Satan loses all hope of using his influence or whisperings to misguide these individuals; and is that station in which Allah himself guards the person so that no impurity can touch him.

Therefore, the one who is initiating that ‘act of making one sincere’ is Allah Himself, and the one who is ‘receiving the status of being made sincere’ is the human being [who has been bestowed with this lofty status]; and in essence such a person has been granted a level of insurance from Allah.

Therefore we read:
قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
“He said, ‘My Lord! As You have consigned me [Satan] to perversity, I will surely glamorize [evil] for them on the earth, and I will surely pervert them, except Your exclusive servants among them.’” (Al-Hijr (15), v. 39-40)

Shaykh Saleem Bhimji

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Conversation with the Prophet about the Love of 'Ali

In his Isnad narrating from Hadhrat Salman (may God be pleased with him) that: 

Salmaan al-Farsi (May God be pleased with him) said: “We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah when a Bedouin entered. He stood up in front of us and said: “Assalamu Alaykum”. We replied him back. He then said: 

‘Which one of you is the Full Moon, and the Lantern of darkness; Mohammad the messenger of God, the learned king? Is he this radiant face?’ 
We said: ‘Yes’.

The Prophet (saww) said: ‘O Arab brother! Have a seat.’ 
He replied: ‘O Mohammad! I did believe in you before I met you and acknowledged you before I see you, except a matter narrated to me from you. The Prophet (saww) said: " And what is that"? The Bedouin said: You invited us to bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah. We then agreed. You then invited us to Salaat, Zakat, Fasting, and Hajj and we accepted those. You then were not satisfied with us until you invited us to obedience for your cousin; Ali bin Abi-Talib and his love. Did you make this compulsory on us or God from the heaven has made it compulsory?’ 

The Prophet (saww) said: ‘Rather, Allah made it compulsory for inhabitants of heavens and earth. When the man heard of that Prophetic statement said: I hear and obey for the sake of Allah O Messenger of God! as it is truly from our Lord. 

The Prophet (saww) then added: 
O Arab brother! I was given in Ali five qualities that even one of them is better than this world and what it contains. Do you not like me to inform you about them, O Arab brother?’ 
‘Yes O messenger of God’, the man replied. 

The Prophet (saww) then said: 
‘I was sitting on the day of the Battle of Badr and the war had just come to an end, that Gabriel (peace be on him) descended and said: ‘God the Exalted sends you al-Salam and says for you: ‘O Mohammad I swear in My Majesty that I do not reveal the love for Ali bin Abi-Talib save to those whom I love. Thus, whoever I love, I shall reveal to them Ali’s love, and whoever I hate I shall reveal to them their hatred for Ali.’ 

O Arab brother! Should I not inform you of the second one?’ 
‘Yes O messenger of Allah’, said the Arab. 

The Prophet (saww) said: 
‘I was sitting after I finished from the burial of my uncle Hamzeh (after the Battle of Ohod), that Gabriel descended and said: O Mohammad! Allah sends you al-Salam and says for you: “Indeed I made Salaat compulsory, but I excused the menstruating women, the insane and the children. I made fasting compulsory; yet I exempt a traveler from it. I made Hajj compulsory, but I excused an ill person. I made Zakat compulsory; yet exempt the poor from it. But I made the love for Ali ibn Abi-Talib compulsory on the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, and did not give any excuse to anyone.” 

O Arab brother! Do you want me to tell you about the third one?’ 
‘Yes, indeed O messenger of God’, said the Arab. 

The Prophet (saww) said: 
‘God did not create anything unless He made a master in it. The eagle is the master of the birds. The bull is the master of beasts. The lion is the master of wild animals. Friday is the master of the days of the week. Ramadan is the master of the months. Israfil is the master of the angels. Adam is the master of the humans. I am the master of the Prophets and Ali is the master of successors. 

O Arab brother! Do you want me to inform you about the fourth one?’ 
‘Yes, please O messenger of God’, said the Arab man. 

The Prophet (saww) said: 
‘The love of Ali ibn Abi-Talib is a tree whose root is in Paradise and its branches are in this world. Whoever from my community clings into any of its branches, it will reach them to Paradise. The hatred of Ali ibn Abi-Talib is a tree that its root is in hell and its branches are in this world. Whoever clings into any of its branches will enter into hell.

O Arab brother! Should I not inform you of the fifth one?’ 
‘Yes of course, O messenger of God’, said the man. 

The Prophet (saww) then said: 
‘On the Day of Judgment, a pulpit will be placed for me on the right side of the Throne. Then another pulpit will be placed for Ibrahim (peace be upon him) adjacent to mine on the right side of the Throne. Then a bright high and dominating Chair will be brought known as the Chair of Honor. It will be placed for Ali between my pulpit and the pulpit of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Then my eyes will have never seen a better friend between two bosom friends. 

O Arab! The love for Ali ibn Abi-Talib is true, then you shall love him. Indeed Allah will love those who love him and he is with me on the Day of Judgment. Ali and I are in the same part (of Paradise).’ 

Upon hearing that, the Arab man said: ‘I hear and obey Allah, his messenger and your cousin Ali ibn Abi-Talib.’” 

Bihar al-Anwar, vol.40 p.46

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ethics and Practice by Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli

Question: We students do not have access to educationalists of ethical values, what should we do to learn ethics?

Ayatollah Jawadi Amuli: The study of ethics carries a segment of theoretical subjects which can be accomplished by studying, conducting catechization and dialogue sessions, whereas the other segment consists of practical learning which requires guidance and instructions of a mentor. 

If a person acts upon his knowledge, first of all his deeds surface the positive outcome and then afterwards, Allah will open for him new horizons of learning he never knew before. 

It has been narrated that: 
مَنْ عَمِلَ بِما عَلِمَ وَرّثهُ اللّه عِلْمَ ما لَمْ يَعْلَمْ 
“The one who practices what he learns Allah will grant him with learning that he didn’t know.” 

Learning when with practice provides durability and prosperity to knowledge

A man is successful if he tries to fulfill obligations, tries to perform the recommended as much as possible, refrain from the forbidden, tries to keep away from the non-recommended and abstain from going extremes.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ayatullah Bahjat and his Spiritual Status through the Shari'ah

Our condolences to the Imam of our time (aj), to you all and to the Muslim Nation on the 3rd death anniversary of this effulgent 'Aalim/'Aarif who left this material world on 17th May 2009

One of the important characteristics whereby Sheikh Bahjat was distinguished and which can be witnessed at the first look was his special care for observing the norms of conduct according to the Shari'a (Islamic legislative system) and the tradition of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be with them. 

Sheikh Misbah says the following in this regard, "Shiite scholars of etiquette, all of them save those who are deviated in their way of thinking and conduct, agree that the right path to perfection is the path of adoration, that man cannot reach any moral station via obedience to Allah, the most Exalted and Great, and acting upon His commandments. But the attention paid by the scholars to observing the Shari'a etiquettes and the tradition of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be with them, is not equal. Sheikh Bahjat was regarded as one of the most distinguished [theologians] for observing these norms. He observed in his conduct particularly interesting behavioral habits which cannot be easily described. 

I am going to mention this incident which I remember, perhaps it will remain in history so those who wish to act upon the commandments of the Shari'a may get to know to what extent one must observe the commandments of the Shari'a:
"The Sheikh inherited from his father a small plot of land suitable for planting rice. It was financing some of his domestic expenses. The Sheikh was used to give a measure of rice, though it could be a few kilo grams of it, to his friends and neighbors when they brought the crop to his house. Once, I left Qum city for some time during the days of struggle. Nobody knew anything about my place of residence, not even our close relatives. During that period, the Sheikh had sent to our house a sack of rice once and a good sum of money some other time. What was noticeable is that he sent us the money in the hand of his wife and son Ali. His wife brought the money and gave it to my wife as his son, Ali, was standing before the alley.

"When I returned home, I kept thinking about the secret that prompted the Sheikh to send his wife to our house, but I soon realized that this was one of the etiquettes of the Islamic Shari'a. According to Islamic ethics, if the husband is traveling, nobody should go to his house. If it is necessary to go to his house, a woman has to go. 

"There are minutely interesting statements articulated by the friends of Allah, their conducts, the way they stood up or sat down, which cannot be comprehended except through the study of a complete branch of knowledge, let alone undertaking them and acting upon them. These maters are the ones that raise the servant in his adoration and endear him to his Lord, granting him a lofty status. The Sheikh used to advise anyone seeking his advice to observe what is taken for granted by the Shari'a. He always emphasized observing what the Shari'a regards as taken for granted, believing that the matters where doubt is entertained or confusing matters fall in the second degree of importance.
"The Sheikh derived useful evidence in this field which I learned from him and which I sometimes used in my sermons and in other places. He says that Allah Almighty wants to guide His servants to perfection; therefore, He quite often mentions the things which have the greatest impact on man's happiness and on determining his fate. So, if we want to know the matters that cause man's happiness, we have to know the matters which Allah, Praise and Exaltation belong to Him, emphasizes more than others. This is so because any pursuit more stressed in the Qur'an, traditions and statements of Ahl al-Bayt, peace be with them, will have a role in perfecting man and determining his fate in a greater way. Observing the prayers is one of the most important of these matters because we may not find in any chapter of fiqh the like of all these Qur'anic verses which call for upholding the prayers and all these narratives which are cited about observing its timing, etiquette and the necessity of performing them with full attention of the heart.

Sometimes the Sheikh used to say the following by way of jesting: "We look for something for our own perfection which neither Allah nor His Messenger nor any Imam has sanctioned."
 Ayatullah Sheikh Jawad al-Karbalaai says the following in this regard: 
"Ayatullah Bahjat used to say this to me in a special tone: 'Whenever you get to know what the Shari'a holds as taken for granted, such as abandoning sins, observing what is obligatory and what is highly commendable, the recitation of the Qur'an during solitude, earning the qualifications of health, the acceptance of your adoration and its inclusion of secrets such as prayers and other rituals, so you may get to know their results…, do not come to me to ask me instructions leading you to the right conduct and to the path to Allah Almighty, as though a mentor from the unknown comes to you and guides you to the path! Are these matters that are taken for granted and are issued by the most pure Shari'a not sufficient for you to act upon as they should be acted upon so you may reach the anticipated goal?' I came to know from the statement of the mentor that one who is seeking the path must safeguard the manifestations of the holy Shari'a, must keep things to himself with regard to spiritual conditions and not manifest them except to those who are worthy of them, and the latter are indeed few. The mentor also said this to me when I was studying ethics in Qum city: "Tell the scholars issues which they understand and do not tell them things over their level of comprehension."

Mahmoud al-Badri; Uswat al-'Aarifin; tr by Yasin T al-Jibouri

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bowing in front of the World Arrogance

Sh Muhammad Khalfan

To keep abreast with the contemporary history of the world may seem to be insignificant for some: what can I do, for example, if others are dying of starvation in Afghanistan? I have no means to attend to them and thus it makes no difference whether I know about their awful state or not.

Clearly, such thinking stems from a narrow outlook. The human being enjoys a disposition that yearns for the salvation of every other human being. Therefore indifference is an alien concept to his nature. ‘Not being able to help the oppressed’ does not necessitate indifference on our part.

Firstly, our natural conscience would like to know the situation of those of our brethren who are suffering throughout the world.

Secondly, if we are materially unable, Almighty Allah has opened the door of prayer for us. Through prayers for the destitute, things can really change.

Thirdly, there are so many things that we can do together to crush the power of the world arrogance, but we do not realize the same. Our businessmen who import goods from countries like Israel and buy them at relatively low costs, can stop such transactions, so that they may not indirectly take part in killing the innocent Palestinians. Many of us indirectly promote the commodities that the world arrogance produces. If we were to boycott such products, these groups would never be as materially prosperous as they are. Today, if the Arab leaders were to wake up and stop bowing in front of the world arrogance, a great transformation can take place.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fatima's grief after the Prophet and her declaration to Umm Salamah

Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi

ما زالت بعد أبيها معصبة الرأس باكية العين، محترقة القلب
“After the death of the Prophet (S), she continually wore the scarf of mourning on her head, possessing crying eyes and a burning heart.” [Al Manaqib, vol. 3 pg. 362]

The sweet period of the Lady of Islam's life quickly came to an end with the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam (even though throughout her lifetime there was no real sweet period, because there were the constant pressures, wars, and plots of the enemies against Islam and the Prophet of Islam (s.w.a.), taking away her spiritual peace).

With the death of the prophet, new storms of complicated critical events blew up.
The hatred and grudges of Badr, khaibar and Honain that were during the prophet’s time hidden beneath the ashes became visible.

The sects of the “Hypocrites” went to action to take their revenge of Islam and also from the Prophet’s family. Fatimah Zahra (s.a.) was in the center of this circle, of which the poisonous arrows of the enemy flew at her from every direction

Her separation from her father; the sad, tormenting innocence of her husband Ali (a.s.); the plots of the enemy against Islam, and the worry of Fatimah (s.a.) for the future of the Muslims and the Quranic heritage, all joined together, severely straining her pure heart.

Fatimah (s.a.) doesn’t wish to cause Ali (commander of the Faithful) greater grief by relating to him her sadness, because he had already received a severe blow by these unpleasant circumstances and misdeeds created by the people.

For this very reason she would go to the grave of the Prophet (S) and tell him of her grief. And she speaks heart - rendering words that burn our inner soul just like burning embers:
يا أبتاه بقيت و الهةً و حيرانةً فريدة، قد انخمد صوتي و انقطع ظهري و تنغص عيشي
“Father dear, after you, I feel lonely. I have remained perplexed and deprived, my mouth is inclined to silence, and my back is broken, and the wholesome water of life has become bitter to my taste.” [Al Manaqib vol.3 pg. 362]

And, sometimes she would say:
قُل للمُغيّبِ تَحتَ أطباقِ الثّرى ** انْ كُنتَ تَسمَعُ صَرخَتي وَ نِدائيا
صُبّتْ عَليَّ مَصائِبٌ لَوْ أنَّها ** صُبّتْ عَلى الايَّامِ صِرنَ لَيَالِيا
“The person who smells the pure soil of the grave of Prophet (S), it is only fair that until the end of his life he should smell no other perfume. After you, O’ father, so much suffering has fallen upon me that, if they were to fall upon bright Jays, they would turn into dark, gloomy nights.”

Why does Fatimah (s.a.) shed tears in this way?
Why is she so restless?
Why is she as wild rue on fire, without stability?

The answer to these whys must be heard from her own words.

Umm Salamah says:
“When I went to see the Lady of Islam Fatimah (s.a.) after the death of the prophet, and asked her how she was, in reply these meaningful sentences were spoken by her:
أصبحت بين كمد و كرب
فقد النبىِّ و ظلم الوصي
هُتكَ و الله حجابه...
ولكنها أحقاد بدرية
وثارات أحدية
كانت عليها قلوب النفاق مكتمنة
Why are you asking me how I am Umm Salamah, when I am caught in the middle of much sadness and suffering? On the one hand I have lost my father, the Prophet (S) and on the other hand (I see with my own eyes that) there has been injustice done to his successor, (Ali ibn Abi Talib).
I swear to God that they have torn the curtain of his inviolability (reverence).
But I know that these are the grudges of Badr and the revenges of Uhud, that were hidden in the hearts of the hypocrites (non-believers).” [Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashoob; vol. 2 pg. 225]

All of her defences of the boundaries of the holiness of everything noble and her support of Ali (s.a.) right during this time of pain and suffering are not hidden from anyone.

Even though her life after the Prophet of Islam was as brief as she had begged God to be, being not more than two or three months before she rushed to the Holy Presence of God and met her father. However, in this Period of time she didn’t omit any self-sacrificing, generous effort in Ali’s right or for the defence of Islam.

“Peace be upon you, O’ daughter of the Messenger of God.”

Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi; The world’s most outstanding Lady: Fatima az-Zahra’

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ecstasy during Death

A narration from Imam Sadiq (a) which is cited in 'al-Kafi' says that one of his companions asked whether a believer may become discontented when his soul is being taken. He (s) replied: 

"By Allah, No! When the angel of death comes to take his soul the believer shows restlessness and the angel says: 'O, Lover of Allah! Be not upset! By He Who has appointed Mohammad (s) to prophethood, I am more sympathetic to you than a kind father. Look carefully!' He looks carefully and sees Prophet Mohammad, Amir -al- Mo'mineen Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, Husain and other Imams from their descendants (a) . 

The angel tells him to look and see that they (a) are all his friends. He opens his eyes and watches. A caller from Almighty Allah suddenly beckons and says: "O, you serene soul! Come back to your Lord well-pleased (with Him) and well-pleasing (Him) . So enter among My servants. And enter into My Garden ". At that moment there is nothing better and more beloved than that his soul separates from his body as soon as possible and moves unto his Lord. 

Al-Kafi, vol. 3, Chapter Believers and the Departure of the Soul, Tradition 2. 


The idol of your self is the mother of all idols.
The material idol is only a snake;
while this inner idol is a dragon.
It is easy to break an idol,
but to regard the self as easy to subdue is a mistake.

Rumi; Mathnawi I: 772-778