'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

Monday, 27 May 2013

Welcoming the month of Allah

How to Welcome the month of Rajab
By: Shaykh Ḥabīb al-Kāẓimī
Part 3 of 3

What are the signs of acceptance?

There is no harm if the person [wishes] to inquire whether his worship has been accepted or not; [even] Abraham [p] asked God Almighty to show him how He revives the dead. God said: "Why? Do you not believe?" Abraham said: "Yes, but that my heart may be at rest." He [Abraham] asked for the sign of reviving, and the Lord of the Worlds wants us to ask for the sign of acceptance. The most important sign of acceptance is the reforming of conduct. The sign of he who cleanses himself is cleanliness and [beautiful] fragrance, while sins are malodorous. It has been narrated that the Commander of the Faithful said, "Fragrant yourselves with istighfār, and do not let the malodor of sins expose you." Thus, the sign of acceptance is ridding oneself from this malodor. He who [suffers from] anger should look at his anger after the elapse of the season. If he/she became calm and meek, then his worship [in this regard] has been accepted. He/she whose desire inclines towards that which is forbidden, then the sign for his acceptance is abstinence from it.


1) The soul, like the body, require alleviation from the weightiness of sins.

2) He/she who wishes to achieve an exceptional layat al-qadr should prepare for it from the months of Rajab and Sha'ban.

3) The individual must ask for grand rewards on the occasions of the infallibles' births from the beholders of the occasions.

4) We must acquire the state of forgiveness prior to the month of Ramadan so that we ascend from its initial nights to the pleasure of God.

5) The signs of acceptance of deeds is: (1) alteration of conduct, and (2) [gaining] tranquility of the soul/heart.

Translated by: ShiaTranslation

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Welcoming the month of Allah

How to Welcome the month of Rajab
By: Shaykh Ḥabīb al-Kāẓimī
Part 2 of 3

How to prepare ourselves for Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Ordainment)

Firstly: Forty days of abstention from sinning.

The best [act] one must commit to during this month is abstaining from sinning for forty days. For example, one [could] begin [this task] from the beginning of Rajab till the middle of Shaʿbān [and in doing this] declaring to the Imam of his epoch (Imam Mahdi): "O Master! I have disciplined my self/soul and reduced its entices, so wipe your [blessed] hand on my heart and thoughts." Let your slogan [during this period] be, "O Lord! Make this [month] the best month of Rajab that passes me since [the day] of my creation." It is also beneficial for the individual to "deceive" his self, for example, by asking [the self] to commit only for forty days, thus informing it, "O Self! You do not have the strength to be on the moderate path for a full year, so I ask you, O self, to commit only for forty days." The Lord of the Worlds made the season of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and the month of Ramadan a [few] enumerated days. This is a divine policy, since He knows that humankind cannot bear persistence, hence He lures them and grants them fragments of [Divine] aromas [in order to continue their worsip]. Therefore, he who perfects his conduct during the month of Ramadan and becomes a "servant" of God, tastes the sweetness of Qur'an, and stands steadfast [in worship] during the nights of the month of Ramadan, will persist throughout the whole year [only] with the condition of "tasting/experiencing" [the sweetness of worship] as expressed in the [following] narration: "A body will not become weak where the intention is strong" for if the individual intends, support will come from the Lord of the Worlds.

Secondly: Seeking forgiveness from God.

The month of Rajab is the month of pleading to God Almighty, for it is narrated that the Prophet [p] had said, "Rajab is my nation's month for seeking forgiveness, so ask for forgiveness plentifully, for He is all-forgiving, all-merciful ... It is also named al-Rajab al-Aṣabb (The outpouring Rajab) because Mercy outpours gushingly upon my nation, so say plentifully: 'I seek forgiveness from God and ask from Him repentance'." Hence, it is necessary that one cleans the abode of his/her soul during this month – [the abode] which was neglected for nine months – by seeking forgiveness, which is, [naturally,] the initial step.

Thirdly: Purifying one's self.

The believer is eager to obtain the state of being forgiven, to seek forgiveness, and to purify his/her self prior to the month of Ramadan. Thus, let us attempt to emerge from out of the wells of desires and whims that our "self's" trapped us into. We are all the similitude's of Joseph [who was] in the recess of the well. We are all beneath the normal standard. Therefore, during these two months we have to emerge from these deep wells – some of us are in a [small] crater, while others [among us] are in a deep well – in order to ascend on the first night of the month of Ramadan, just as the poet said:

Whomsoever fears to ascend mountains * will forever live between craters

Fourthly: Taking advantage of opportunities.

This month was labeled as "the out-pourer," because the Divine Mercy outpours upon the nation in a gushing fashion. There is a difference between when a large number of people try entering a slightly opened door, one by one, and when a door is wide open [to] where the people could all hastily enter through it!

During the month of Rajab, the doors of Divine Mercy are open. One sin during a month other than Rajab might require seventy istighfars with tears in the middle of the night, with hope that God may forgive us. Whereas, during Rajab, a single istighfar would be sufficient. Hence we must amply recite the following Muhammedan invocation: "Astaghfirullah wa asᶜaluhu 'ltawbah" (I seek forgiveness from God and ask for repentance). As for those who are in distant countries – be it non-Islamic or Islamic – and are a bit lax in their religious affairs, and do not watch over their intake of food and drink, must know that this month is the month of abundant mercy, so wherever you are, take advantage of this opportunity!

Fifthly: Committing to the recitation of the prayer specific to this month.

In a ḥadīth, Ibn Ṭawūs narrates from Muḥammad b. Thkwān, also known as al-Sajjād (because he would prostrate a lot and cry until he lost his vision) said, "I told al-Ṣādiq [p]:- May my life be your ransom! .. This [month] is Rajab, [so] teach me a supplication that God will benefit me with. He [p] replied, "Write: In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Say in every day of Rajab, morning and night, and following the [obligatory] prayers of your day and night, "O He whom I beseech every good from, and I'm safeguarded from his indignation at every evil! O He whom grants plentiful in exchange of a little. O He whom grants he/she who asks [from] Him! O He whom grants he/she who does not ask nor know Him ... (note: we omitted the rest of the supplication since it is available on various English websites- translator). This supplication contains precise points which one must notice. You do not ask God Almighty by your proximity to Him, or by your right to Him; Rather, you know that you are unworthy but [nevertheless] an asker. And the treasury of the Lord of the Worlds is between the kāf and nūn. What would prevent Him from granting you the benefits of the [temporal] world and the afterworld if He so wishes? "All His command, when He wills something, is to say to it 'Be,' and it is." [36:82]. Therefore, you must speak to God Almighty with what makes Him will. So if your heart becomes tender, your eyes [become engulfed in] tears, and you feel something of the signs of acceptance, you must recite the [aforementioned] supplication.

Sixthly: Committing to the recommended acts of this month.

The following are among the recommended acts that have been mentioned for this month:

1) Repeating the statement of tawḥῑd "lā ilahah illa-llah" (There is no Deity but God) one thousand times during the month. The prophet [p] said, "Whomever says 'lā ilahah illa-llah' one thousand times during Rajab, God will write [for] him/her one hundred thousand good deeds, and build him/her one hundred cities in heaven."

2) Reciting the [Quranic] chapter al-tawḥīd (Divine Unity) one hundred times. Sayyed [Ibn Ṭāwūs) narrates in al-Iqbāl many virtues for reciting "qul huwallahu aḥad" ten thousand, or one thousand, or one hundred times during the month of Rajab. It has also been narrated, "Whomsoever recites 'qul huwallahu aḥad' (Chapter of Divine Unity) one hundred times on a Friday in the month of Rajab would have a [ray of] light that will draw him towards heaven in the hereafter."

3) Committing to the narrated istighfar by saying, "astaghfirullaha la ilāhah illa huwah waḥdahu la sharῑka lahu wa atūbu ilayhi" one hundred times. The prophet [p] said, "Whomsoever says 'astaghfirullaha la ilāhah illa huwah waḥdahu la sharῑka lahu wa atūbu ilayhi' one hundred times in Rajab and concluded it with a ṣadaqah (charity), God will seal [his soul] with mercy and forgiveness ... and he/she who says it four hundred times, God will prescribe for him/her the rewards of one hundred martyrs."

4) Praying sixty rakʿas. Sixty rakʿas are to be prayed during this month; two of which are prayed each night wherein Al-Ḥamd (the Opening chapter of the Qur'an) is recited once, Qul yā ayyuhal kāfirūn thrice; Qul Huwallahu Aḥad once ... (the rest of this prayer has also been omitted due to its availability on various English websites-translator.)

5) It is recommended to pray on every night of the "white nights" of these three holy months. On the thirteenth night: two rakʿas wherein [one should] recite in every rakʿah: al-Fātiḥah (the Opening Chapter) once, the chapters of Yāsīn (Ya sin-36), al-Mulk (The Sovereignty-67), and al-Tawḥīd (Divine Unity-112). On the fourteenth night, one must perform the same prayer with four rakʿas, and six on the fifteenth, performing taslīm after every two rakʿas. [Imam] al-Sadiq [p] said, "Whomsoever performed this will gain the benefit of the three months, and all his sins will be removed except for shirk."

Therefore, during the spring season of the souls the believer is walking on the land of treasures. He who is oblivious of collecting treasures will arrive with regret on the day of judgment. However, we must beware of giving too much focus to the reward! Some of us read the reward before the act, and will perform [the act] only if he considers the reward valuable. We are servants, and we must perform our worship duties, [regardless of reward]. The Lord of the Worlds is immensely generous. Do we not say in the supplication, "O He who grants whom does not ask Him and does not know Him out of His Kindness and Mercy?" He who does not know Him is the infidel atheist, yet the Lord of the World gives him [of his benevolence], let alone to a believer!

Translated by: ShiaTranslation

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Welcoming the month of Allah

How to Welcome the month of Rajab
By: Shaykh Ḥabīb al-Kāẓimī
Part 1 of 3

The Spring of the Soul
Nowadays, many individuals are thinking of alleviation in order to rest their body from the fatigue of daily life. The soul, like the body, is in need of alleviation. In fact, it needs it even more, as the body is finite whereas the soul endures eternally by God Almighty's endurance: "They shall remain in it for as long as the heavens and the earth endure" [11:107]. Just as the physical realm has three months which constitute the season known as spring, so does the metaphysical realm. Its spring is the [following] three blessed months: (1) Rajab, the month of God Almighty, (2) Shaᵓbān, the month of His prophet [p], and (3) Ramadan, the month of his nation. The Lord of the Worlds made for us two months to prepare for convening the grand deal/transaction in laylat al-qadr (the night of ordainment). Thus, ample worship, invocation of God during the morning and night, and grand occasions are witnessed in these [two] months. These two months are also decorated with many important anniversaries of the members of the Prophet [p]'s household, [such as]:

i) The birth of the Commander of the Faithful (Ali) [p].

ii) The day Prophet Muhammad [p] was sent as a messenger (Yawm al-Mabᶜath)

iii) The birth of the master of the martyrs (Husayn) [p], his brother ʿAbbās and his son Zayn al-ʿĀbidῑn [p].

iv) The pinnacle of joy: the birth of Imam al-Mahdi [may God hasten his reappearance].

[These are followed by] the birth of Imam Ḥasan [p] in the middle of the month of Ramadan.

All of these are occasions of joy and happiness. And it is known that during the occasions of joy and happiness, rewards and bestowals are received [by people], so why should we not ask for a grand bestowment in each occasion from the father or son of the beholders of that [specific] occasion?! (i.e. ask from the Imam whose birth is on that occasion, or from his infallible father or son - tr.)

Therefore, these two months – along with the first twenty nights of the blessed month of Ramadan – are crucial nights for earning an exceptional Laylat al-Qadr; the night which the Lord of the Worlds refers to [in the Qur'an when] He says, "Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment * What will make you conceive what the Night of Ordainment is?." [97:1-2] Similarly, when He describes the day of resurrection He says, "What will make you conceive what the Catastrophe is?" [101:3] using the same expression to show us that we are incapable of comprehending the reality of this night. 

Whomsoever complains throughout the year of illness in his body, severance of his sustenance, disturbance of his heart, or a problem within his family; it all is [a result] of what had been ordained for him/her on laylat al-qadr. If he/she was to perfect the previous laylat al-qadr, he/she would not have been afflicted with the aforementioned [calamities]. How many among us can claim that he exhorted his [greatest] efforts in the previous laylat al-qadr?!

Translated by: ShiaTranslation

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Magnificence of Lady Fatimah [p]

By: Ayatullah Ali Khameneʾi

According to the predominant [historical] accounts, the noble daughter of the Prophet [p] was born in the fifth year preceding the biʿthah[1]. Therefore, the age of Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ (upon whom be peace [p]) at martyrdom would be eighteen years. It is also mentioned that the birth of this noble lady was during the first or second year of the biʿthah, thus making her maximum age-span either twenty two or twenty three years. 

If you were to consider all the barriers that could [possibly] surround a woman (especially in that era, when the barriers were greater), you will realize the magnificence that noble lady had established in such circumstances and within a brief age span. Of course, I cannot speak about the spiritual, metaphysical, and divine aspects of this noble lady, for I am incapable of comprehending those matters; even if an individual were able to comprehend them, he would be incapable of describing and elucidating them in their totality. These spiritual aspects [constitute] another dimension [entirely]. 

Moreover, it has been related by Imām al-Ṣādiq [p] that, 'Fāṭimah was muḥaddathah,' meaning that the angels would descend upon her, communicate with her and enjoy her company. There are numerous narrations related to this matter. The [belief] that she was muḥaddathah is not confined to the Shīʿa alone. Rather, both Shīʿa and Sunnah believe that there existed, or possibly [existed], individuals during the early Islamic era who could communicate with the angels. The manifestation of those individuals in our narrations is Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p]. 

It is mentioned in the aforementioned narration that the angels would come to Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p], speak to her, and recite the verses of God (āyātullah) to her. Just as there is an expression in the Qurʿān concerning Mary [p], in the following verse:
"إِنَّ الله اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَى نِسَاء الْعَالَمِينَ"
"Allah has chosen you and purified you, and He has chosen you above the world's women." [3:42]

The angels used to address Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] by saying, 'O Fāṭimah, God has chosen you and purified you, and He has chosen you above the world's women.'

These spiritual characteristics are deeply related to the practical virtues which reflect the exertion of Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] in this regard. This [spiritual] status is not granted free of cost nor without a reason, for the act of the human has an immense effect on gaining virtues and spiritual merits.
[Fāṭimah was] the girl who was born amidst the flames of the Prophet's bitter struggle (jihād) in Mecca, and who supported and consoled her father at Shuʿb Abī Ṭālib[2]. She was a girl of seven or eight years of age – maybe more or less by a few years (depending on the varying [historical] accounts), and yet she endured those circumstances. 

Who was there to remove the anguish from her in those circumstances? Khadījah and Abū Ṭālib [had] passed away, and the Prophet was alone, without [any source of] solace. In addition to hunger, the three years at Shuʿb Abī Ṭālib was also characterized by thirst, cold, and heat. These were difficult years of the Prophet's life; during this time, a number of Muslims lived on a mountain in a state of forced exile. In those circumstances, this girl endured these hardships. She was like a savior to the Prophet; a mother to her father, and an eminent nurse for that profound person. She consoled the Prophet [p], endured pain, worshiped God, enhanced her faith, disciplined her soul, and opened her heart to Divine light and knowledge. 

These are the factors that cause an individual to reach perfection.

Following the hijrah[3] – and during the initial years of taklīf[4] – Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] married Ali bin Abi Taleb [p]. Everyone knows the simplicity and condition of poverty that Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] experienced after marriage while she was the daughter of the premier of the Islamic world and the governor over [Muslim] people.

One becomes greatly bewildered when contemplating and pondering over the status of the pure Zahrāʾ [upon whom be peace]. The bewilderment does not result from wondering how this individual was able to reach such a status of spiritual and physical perfections during the age of youth – though this fact is also bewildering! Rather, [one is astonished] at the how Islam was able to, through its superior nurturing, enable a young woman to obtain such an esteemed stature in those difficult circumstances. The magnificence of this being – this honorable individual – elicits astonishment and bewilderment. Similarly, [one cannot help but be in awe at] the magnificence of the Message [of Islam], which forged a being of such high stature and honor.

Dimensions of Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p]'s life

The life of Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p], in all its dimensions, was filled with action, pursuit, spiritual sublimity, and perfection. Her young husband was always at the war front, and the troubles of life and the surroundings made her a referal to which Muslims and people appeal. The girl who was the appointee of the Prophet [p] spent her life with utmost patience during those circumstances. She raised her children (Hasan, Husayn, and Zaynab), assisted her husband Ali [p], and gained the pleasure of her father, the Prophet [p]. 

When the [Islamic] conquests and [gaining of] the spoils [of war] first began, the daughter of the Prophet [p] did not take a speck of worldly pleasures, ornaments, or the outward beauties and commodities that the hearts of young ladies and women are [so often] inclined to.

The worship of Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] was exemplary. Hasan al-Baṣrī, one of the [devoted] worshipers and ascetics in the Islamic world, says in regard to Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p]: "The daughter of the Prophet [p] worshiped God and stood in the miḥrāb of worship to a degree that her feet swelled." Imam al-Ḥasan al-Mujtabah [p] says that his mother stood [in] worship to God during one night until the morning (dawn). Furthermore, Imam al-Ḥasan [p] said that he always heard her praying for the believers, the people, and the general problems of the Islamic nation, [so] he asked her when morning came, "O mother, why do you not pray for yourself just as you pray for others?" whereto she replied, "O son, the neighbor is given precedence over [one's] house."

The struggle of this noble lady in various fields is exemplary; in defending Islam, Imamate and Wilayah (Divine vicegerency); in defending the Prophet [p]; In companionship with the greatest Islamic leader, the Commander of the Faithful [Ali] whom was her husband. The Commander of the Faithful [p] once said in regard to Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p], "She never [once] angered me nor did she disobey me." 

Being as grand and majestic as she was, Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] was a wife in her house, a woman as Islam conceives, and an esteemed scholar in the [vast] ocean of knowledge. ʿAllāmah al-Majlisī says in regard to the speech which she gave in the Masjid of Medina after the departure of the Prophet [p]: "The profound scholars and experts of eloquence and rhetoric should sit down and elucidate the words and phrases of this speech," for this is the extent of its value. As for [the speech's] technical/artistic beauty, it is similar to the most beautiful and esteemed words [found] in Nahjul Balāghah[5], and of the same [lofty] standard as The Commander of Believer [p]'s words. 

Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] went and stood in the Masjid of Medina and [gave an] improvised [speech] before the public for about a whole hour; [expressing] the best and most beautiful phrases [with the most] sincere meanings. This was her worship, eloquence, rhetoric, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, struggle, and conduct as a wife and mother. Moreover, [we must admire] her beneficence towards the poor. 

One time, the Prophet [p] sent an old poor man to the house of The Commander of the Faithful [p] and instructed him to tell them what he needs.. Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p] gave him a [piece of] leather that al-Hasan and al-Husayn would sleep on, as she had nothing else [in her possession]. She instructed him to take it, sell it, and live off of its provision. This is the character of Faṭimah al-Zahrāʾ [p], which is comprehensive in all aspects. Indeed, she is an example for the Muslim woman [to follow].
[1] The year which prophet Muhammad [p] was sent to the people with the Message from God.
[2] A location in Mecca where the Prophet (p) and a number of Muslims remained in exile for approximately three years.
[3] The year of prophet Muhammad [p]'s migration from Mecca to Medina which counts as the first year of the Islamic Calender.
[4] Jurisprudential puberty whereat the individual becomes responsible towards God for performing the legislated and ordained duties prescribed by religion.
[5] A book which consists of compiled speeches and wisdoms attributed to the Commander of the Faithful Ali [p].  It is translated into English under the title of "The Peak of Eloquence." 
Translated by: Shia Translation 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

An insight into the 'Children of the Prophets'

An excerpt from the commentary of Du'a al-Nudbah

اَيْنَ الطَّالِبُ بِذُحُوْلِ الْاَنْبِيَآءِ وَ اَبْنَآءِ الْاَنْبِيَآءِ؟
'Where is he who shall avenge the Prophets and the children of the Prophets?'

There are two possible meanings for the phrase 'children of the Prophets.' First, and most obviously, it refers to the children of God's Prophets who were wrongfully killed. Most likely, the children referred to were not themselves Prophets; otherwise, it would have been more appropriate to mention them too as 'Prophets', not as the 'children' of the Prophets. The only examples that we were able to find for this interpretation were Haabil (Abel), the son of the Prophet Adam, and the Imams from the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad.

Alternatively, the phrase could refer to the followers of the Prophets who were wrongfully killed for their faith, for a Prophet is the metaphorical father of his followers. In this vein, God has urged us to follow 'the way of you father Abraham' (Qur'an 22:78); and the Prophet once declared, 'Ali and I are the fathers of this community [of faith]' (Bihaar al-Anwaar

In either case, according to this sentense, Imam al-Mahdi will exact revenge for their deaths. You might wonder from whom will he exact revenge since the murderers will be long dead by them. The following tradition indicates that he will exact revenge from those who follow in the footsteps of those murderers and condone their crimes, whether or not they are from the progeny of those murderers.

Imam al-Ridha was once asked, 'What do you say about the following tradition transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq? 'When al-Mahdi will rise up, he shall kill the progeny of the murderers of al-Husayn for the deeds of their forebears.'' Imam al-Ridha said, 'It is so.' The transmitter asked, 'Then what is the meaning of God's statement, 'No soul shall bear the burden of another?'' The Imam replied, 'Of course, God has spoken the truth in all that He has said. However the progeny of the murderers of al-Husayn condone the deeds of their forebears and take pride in them. He who condones an act is like him who does it. Thus, if a man murders in the east, and a man in the west condones his murder, then before God, the one who condoned [the other's act] is his accomplice. Accordingly, Imam al-Mahdi will only kill their progeny when he rises up because they condone what their forebears did.' (al-Burhaan fee tafsir al-Qur'an vol.2 p.508). 

In this tradition, the sentence 'He who condones an act is like him who does it,' is a general principle that broadens the scope of the Imam's vengeance to all who condone the murder of the Prophets' children or followers, whether or not they are the actual descendents of those murderers.
It should be noted that Islamic Law does not consider condoning a crime to be sufficient cause for legal prosecution against a person. For this reason, Imam al-Ridha said that one who condones a murder is an accomplice to the murder 'before God,' not in the court of law. Accordingly, this tradition indicates that Imam al-Mahdi will punish these people according to his policy of judging people based on his divinely inspired knowledge of the truth rather than judging them on empirically attainable proof. This is a policy particular to him, which cannot be acted upon by any Islamic judge. Even the Imams before him and the Prophet himself did not judge on such a basis.

Shaykh Rizwan Arastu, Al-Nudbah; a Devotional Elegy for the Prophet Muhammad and his family, ITI, p. 86-87.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Stages of Tawhid

The opposite of shirk is tawhid (monotheism), which means that there is no power in the universe except that of the Almighty God.
Tawhid has stages; they are:
1. Verbal admission or acceptance of tawhid; that is uttering that (laa ilaaha illallaah - there is no god but God) without believing in the sentence with the heart.
2. Believing with the heart when the above statement of monotheism is made with the tongue.
3. Realization of the unity of God through epiphany and numinous experience. In other words, one discovers that the vast multiplicity of creatures derive their existence from the One God, and recognizes that no power other than God's operates in the universe.
4. One sees nothing in the world except the Divine Being and perceives all creatures as emanations and reflections of that Being.
These stages of belief in tawhid guide us to recognize the cause of the disease of shirk. The root cause of shirk is immersion in the material world and forgetfulness in regard to God. In order to cure it, one must meditate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth and myriads of God's creatures. That may awaken within one the appreciation of the glory of God. The deeper his meditation and contemplation on the beauty of the universe and the mystery of its creation, the greater his faith in the existence and unity of God shall become.
The Quran says:
Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): `Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain. Glory be to Thee! sane us from the chastisement of the Fire. (3:191)
Imam al-Rida (A) has been quoted as saying:
Worship does not lie in copious prayer and fasting, but in the amount of contemplation in the works of God.

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

Friday, 1 February 2013

Divine Attributes: Restoring a lost Equilibrium

Reza Shah-Kazemi
An important aspect of divine nature is expressed in the following definitive statement by the Prophet about the nature of God, 'Truly God is beautiful and He loves beauty.' The word used for equity here is Jamaal, one of the divine names being al-Jameel'the Beautiful.' 
It should be noted that the divine names, traditionally 99 in number, are collectively referred to the in the Qur'an as 'the most beautiful names'al-asmaa al-husnaa, the word for beautiful here coming from another root, that of hasuna, to be fine, good and beautiful. This description of the divine names comes in an important passage in the Qur'an in which several such names are mentioned:

He is Allah besides Whom there is no god; the Knower of the unseen and the seen; He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, besides Whom there is no god; the King, the Holy, the Giver of peace, the Granter of security, Guardian over all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of every greatness Glory be to Allah from what they set up (with Him). He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner; His are the most excellent names; whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares His glory; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. [59:22-24]

Even though some of the divine names refer to the wrathful side of God, nonetheless, as a whole, they are given the epithet of 'beautiful,' and this fact in itself is full of significance. Even those qualities that, on the surface, appear not to be beautiful, those that refer to God as 'the Avenger' (al-Muntaqim) or 'the Slayer' (al-Mumeet), are in fact integrated within the framework defined by beauty. 

All these apparently 'negative' attributes are manifested in order to restore a lost equilibrium and this bring about harmony, and harmony is inseparable from beauty. In this way, all the divine qualities are described collectively as'beautiful': the totality of the acts of the attributes of God cannot be described as anything other than beautiful insofar as they are complementary, integrated, harmonious and therefore 'beautiful.' Beauty is not just one among a range of qualities and attributes; rather this quality paves the way to something absolutely fundamental and irreducible about the divine nature.

In addition, all of the 114 chapters of the Qur'an bar one begin with the basmala, the consecration: 'In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful' (bismi'Llaah al-Rahmaan al-Rahim). This likewise indicates the ontological precedence of beauty over other qualities, for the names of mercy refer to the gentle and, as it were, 'maternal' aspect of God (the root of the word for mercy, rahma is connected to the word for 'womb', rahim). Although it might seem more logical to balance out the formula of consecration by referring to a name expressing the rigorous side of God alongside one of these names of mercy, a repetition of the principle of compassion is found in stead. God is, above all else, merciful and compassionate. As the Qur'an says, 'My Mercy encompasseth all things' (7:156). 
The qualities of mercy, forgiveness and compassion all stem from the absolute goodness of God. Infinite goodness and absolute beauty, then, are inseparable within the divine nature and also on the plane of the human soul. As Frithjof Schuon so aptly puts it as he sums up the relationship between virtue and beauty in general with a particular pertinence to the relationship within the Islamic view of ethics, 'beauty is outward virtue, virtue is inward beauty.' (Frithjof Schuon, the Transfiguration of Man (Bloomington, 1995), p.113)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Awakener for the Soul

From among the fourteen infallibles, none enjoys as much attention and recognition as the Master of the Martyrs, Imam Husayn b. 'Ali (as) – not only in his own era, but even in today’s day and age. To understand his significance in our modern era, we need to go back in history to the day he was born. An event which is usually marked with happiness and jubilation, his birth was actually a grief-filled occasion in which his grandfather, the final Messenger of Allah (swt), had to break the tragic news of his murder and the massacre of his family to his mother, Fatimah az-Zahra (as). After lamenting on the heart-wrenching agony which his son (The Qur’an, in Surah Ale Imran (3) refers to the two grandsons of Prophet Muhammad (saw) as ‘his sons’.) will have to endure, the Prophet then guaranteed his daughter that a nation would be brought forth that will mark his martyrdom and shed tears over this loss - and they would be the ‘Shi’a’ of Aale Muhammad.

Later on in his life, while living in the precincts of his noble grandfather, he was given many lofty titles such as,“The ark of salvation”; “The leader of the youth of Paradise”; “The torch of perpetual guidance”; and who can forget the Prophetic aphorism that rings true even today, “Indeed within the hearts of the true believers, in respect to the murder of al-Husayn, there resides a burning passion which will never subside.”

From this premonition given by the Prophet (saw) shortly after the birth of his grandson in Madinah, up until the end of the Imam’s life on the scorched plains of Kerbala some 50 years later, all lovers of freedom and justice have focused their hearts on Imam Husayn’s (as) six-sided sarcophagus (dharih) and have directed their energy and love towards him and his sacred mission. The proceedings surrounding his killing which took place on the 10th of Muharram in the year 61 AH set the scene for great displays of lamentation and sorrow – starting one year after his killing, lasting until today - and it is not only Muslims who hold the martyred Imam (as) in high esteem.
Rather, when asked to speak about the character of Imam Husayn (as), Antoine Bara, a Lebanese Christian, writes: “My own description of Imam Husayn (as) is that he is ‘the conscience of religions’. Had it not been for him, all divine religions would not have continued to exist … Kerbala was a turning point. Had Imam Husayn (as) not carried out his revolution, the concept of monotheism would not have continued to exist and the new religion of Islam would have become tied to the practices of the rulers whose societies would have accepted and surrendered to their oppression under any circumstances because they were the rulers … Unfortunately, even though Imam Husayn (as) is a holy character to you Muslims and Shi'a, you do not recognize his value and you have neglected his heritage and revolution. Today you must know how to support this great Im{m by saying the truth, helping the oppressed, reforming society and achieving justice and freedom. You are supposed to be absolutely honest in delivering his scream on the day of Ashura to the world. This task requires you to study thoroughly the dimensions of his revolution. It is not enough to narrate and describe the outward aspect of the tragedy to the world.”
Since the massacre of the Imam, his family and friends over 1,350 years ago, the visitation to his grave in the city of Kerbala, Iraq was severely estricted under previous empires, governments and regimes and making the journey meant a severe danger if not loss to one’s life and property. However with the invasion and “liberation” of Iraq in 2003, every year on the day of 'Ashura (the 10th of MuÎarram), over 5,000,000 men, women and children from all over the world converge on this small city – with several thousand walking hundreds of kilometers in a month-long journey, from as far away as Ba‚ra in the south of Iraq to grieve, lament and hear the tragic saga of Kerbala recounted once again – as if it had occurred just yesterday!

The Prophet of Islam (saw) and the other Infallibles who make up the Ahlul Bayt have emphasized to their followers to make the trek to Kerbala to pay their respects to Imam Husayn b. 'Ali (as) and for this special journey, numerous forms of ‘greetings’ have been related through reliable chains of narrators. However from all of the methods of greetings for the Master of the Martyrs, without a doubt, the most powerful and potent for awaking the soul and stirring the emotions and enacting a change both internally and externally is that of Ziyarat 'Ashura - and it is for this reason that despotic governments always tried their best to prevent mass gatherings at the shrine of Abi 'Abdillah al-Husayn (as).
A passionate discourse between The Creator and His servants with terms of endearment addressed to the infallible Imam (as), this intimate conversation holds a special ranking within the corpus of supplications and visitation literature being that this specific ziyarat is a Hadith al-Qudsi’ or sacred tradition taught by Allah (swt) to His Arch-Angel Gabriel who conveyed it to the Noble Prophet (saw) who continued the chain of purity, being taught to us through the great Shi'a scholars until today.


Shaykh Saleem Bhimji