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Fasting on Arafat Day / Mustahab Fast

Question 455: Salam alaikom. Is it compulsory to fast on the day of Arafah? Can you please tell us those days on which we have been strongly recommended to fast?

Answer 455: There are no restrictions limiting the times of fasting to a particular day, unless it is considered as haram on the day of Eid ul-Fitr and Qurban. It is recommended to fast on the Day of Arafa. But, if it is not possible for one to recite the Duas of ‘Arafa due to weakness caused by fasting, it is considered as Makruh to fast on that day. [1]

In this regards, Imam Sadiq (as) says: Fasting on the Day of Arafat is regarded as Kaffarah of sins committed during two years.[2]

According to Sayyid Siatani (ha), fasting is Mustahab on every day of a year except those on which it is haraam or Makruh to observe a fast. Some of them which have been strongly recommended, are mentioned here:

The first and last Thursday of every month and the first Wednesday after the 10th of a month. If a person does not observe these fasts it is Mustahab that he gives their qadha. And if he is incapable of fasting, it is Mustahab for him to give one mudd of food or prescribed coined silver to poor. 13th, 14th and 15th day of every month. On all days of Rajab and Shaban or on as many days as it is possible to fast, even though it may be one day only. The day of Eid Nawroz. From the 4th up to the 9th of the month of Shawwal. The 25th and 29th day of the month of Zi qa’da. From the 1st day to the 9th day (i.e. ‘Arafa day) of the month of Zil hajj. But if, it is not possible for one to recite the Duas of ‘Arafa due to weakness caused by fasting, it is Makrooh to fast on that day. The auspicious day of Ghadir (18th Zil hajj). The auspicious day of Mubahila (24th Zil hajj). The 1st, 3rd and 7th day of Muharram. The birthday of the Holy Prophet (17th Rabi’ul awwal). 15th day of Jumadi’ul oola.

Fasting is also recommended on 27th of Rajab – the day the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared his Prophethood. If a person observes a Mustahab fast, it is not obligatory on him to complete it. In fact, if one of his brethren-in-faith invites him to a meal, it is Mustahab that he accepts the invitation and breaks the fast during the day time even if it may be after Zuhr.[3]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: The Virtues of the Day of Arafat, answer 155.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/568393083312003/

Index:  Fasting in the holy month of Dhilhijjah and Muharram, answer 137.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/571098903041421/?hc_location=ufi

https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/569401499877828/)

Related Link: Facebook

[1] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani, rules concerning Fasting, issue #1757.

[2] . Man La Yahdhuruhul Faqih, Vol. 2, Pg. 87.

[3] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani, Fasting.

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The Virtues of the Day of Arafat / Fast on this Day

Question 155: What are the virtues of the day of Arafat? Is it haram to fast on this Day?

Answer 155: There are numerous virtues claimed for the 9th of Dhu ’l-Hijjah which is known as yawm al-‘Arafah. This is the day where the pilgrims assemble on the plain of ‘Arafah to complete one of the essential rituals of the Hajj.

There are also many prayers in Shia literature, including performing Ghusl and the famous supplication known as “Du’a ‘Arafah” ascribed to Imam Husayn ibn Ali (AS), that are to be recited on this day as well as fasting, forgiveness of the sins (it is expected that Allah will expiate the sins committed the previous year) and etc. that are some of the Importance and the Virtues of the Day of Arafa.[1]

Arabic version:

عَلِيٌّ عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ: رَأَيْتُ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ جُنْدَبٍ فِي الْمَوْقِفِ فَلَمْ أَرَ مَوْقِفاً كَانَ أَحْسَنَ مِنْ مَوْقِفِهِ مَا زَالَ مَادّاً يَدَيْهِ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَ دُمُوعُهُ تَسِيلُ عَلَى خَدَّيْهِ حَتَّى تَبْلُغَ الْأَرْضَ. فَلَمَّا صَدَرَ النَّاسُ قُلْتُ لَهُ: يَا أَبَا مُحَمَّدٍ مَا رَأَيْتُ مَوْقِفاً قَطُّ أَحْسَنَ مِنْ مَوْقِفِكَ! قَالَ: وَ اللَّهِ مَا دَعَوْتُ إِلَّا لِإِخْوَانِي وَ ذَلِكَ أَنَّ أَبَا الْحَسَنِ مُوسَى (ع) أَخْبَرَنِي أَنَّ مَنْ دَعَا لِأَخِيهِ بِظَهْرِ الْغَيْبِ نُودِيَ مِنَ الْعَرْشِ وَ لَكَ مِائَةُ أَلْفِ ضِعْفٍ، فَكَرِهْتُ أَنْ أَدَعَ مِائَةَ أَلْفٍ مَضْمُونَةٍ لِوَاحِدَةٍ لا أَدْرِي تُسْتَجَابُ أَمْ لا.

According to Imam Ali (AS), Arafat is the Place where it is out of Haram of Allah. Muhrim (after wearing the ihram) needs to go out of Mecca, out of the Haram and then come back later on after a few obligations and supplicate to Allah in order to be deserving inter to the Haram of Allah. The reason one is supposed to do so is that a person who comes from his polluted tedious life into such a Holy place, he is not prepared for it and for this reason he is sent to such plains and valleys so that he can be trained and made capable of going to the Kaaba.[2]

Therefore, in the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “And when We made the House a place Of assembly for mankind and a place Of safety, We stated:” Take you] People [the Station of Ibrahim as a Place for prayer.” And We Commanded Ibrahim and Ismail:” You should Sanctify My House for those who Compass it round, or use it as a place For Divine retreat, or bow or Prostrate [in prayer].””[3]

One’s condition is recognized when one visits the House of Allah, and the style of circumambulating shows how engrossed the person was in his daily mundane earlier. This is why he is sent to Arafah where he spends half a day then a whole night in Muzdalifah, following 3 days in Mina and then he returns back to the Haram of God. Imam says that Allah has kept His Wisdom behind this sequence. He wants a person to leave the old routine and be prepared to that extent that he can step into the next phase.

Imam Ali (as) says, it is the day to recognize yourself and your Creator. The famous saying which goes, “Whoever recognizes himself, recognizes his Creator” (man ‘arafa nafsahu faqad ‘arafa Rabbahu) is narrated for this Day.[4]

The Day of Arafah is the “Day of Acceptance and Confession”. This confession is of many things which can lead us to our sublime goal, confession of us being servants of God, confession of Allah being the Supreme Lord, confession of our sins, defects, ignorance, immoralities, mistakes, failure, and confession of Allah’s Mercy, Benevolence, and Forgiveness.[5]

Note: It is Makrooh to fast on ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram). It is also Makrooh to fast on the day about which one is not sure whether it is the day of ‘Arafa or Eid-ul-Azha. But, it is haraam to fast on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha.[6]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Fasting on Arafat Day / Mustahab Fast, answer 455.

Related Link: Facebook

[1] . Kuleini, Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 508.

[2] . Kuleini, Al-Kafi, Vol. 4, Pg. 224.

[3] . Surah Al-Bagharah, verse 125.

[4] . Mafatihul Jinan, Dua Kumail.

[5] . For further information in this regards, please refer to Mafatih al-Jinan.

[6] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), rules concerning “Fasting » Haraam and Makrooh fasts”.

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Sheltering in shade while you tied Ihram for Umrah

Question 385: Aslammuelakum, shaikh (Allah bless you Ameen) I have a question regarding Umrah, If Someone is traveling to Makkah for doing Umrah, If it is Day time, So is it necessary to travel on a roofless conveyance( car or bus). There should not be any shade on the car or bus while traveling in day time? What is the ruling on Sheltering in shade? Jazakllah khayr.

Answer 385: One of the certain things that is forbidden during the period a person has tied Ihram is as follows:

Men (are not allowed) to keep their head under shade, but not women. It is permissible for women to put their head under shade in whatever way. The same is also permissible for children. There is no difference in the shade whether the person is in a litter (Mahmil) giving shade, or is riding a vehicle, a train, a plane, a ship or the like with a roof giving the shade.

It is more cautious not to receive shade from what is not above his head as walking beside a litter or sitting near the wall of a ship or utilize their shade, though the rule of its permissibility is not devoid of force.

Prohibition of seeking shelter is exclusively meant for while one is walking or is on a journey, regardless whether he is riding or not. But, if he has alighted somewhere like Mina, ‘Arafat, etc, it would be permissible to go under a shade of a roof or a tent, or take an umbrella while walking. So, for a person who is in Mina, it is permissible to go to the Madhbah (slaughtering place) or the place for throwing pebbles (on the three Satans), though it is cautious to give it up.

It is contrary to caution for a person having tied Ihram to travel in a litter etc having a roof while on a journey during night, though the rule for its permissibility is not devoid of force, so it is permissible for a person having tied Ihram to travel by a plane flying during night.

If a person, while walking, needs shade against cold, heat, rain or the like, it shall be permissible, but he shall be liable to expiate.

By using movable objects, such as umbrella, the roof of a coach or an aero plane. This is not allowed for a man in a state of ihram, if the shade is above the head. However, it is allowed to remain under the shade of a moving cloud, or if the shade falls only on one side of his body. That is, pedestrians can walk beside a car producing a shade on one side or the like. As a matter of ihtiyat, passengers must avoid shade unless the shade from objects producing it from both sides is so short that it does not cover the head and chest of the pilgrim.

By being under fixed objects like the shade of walls, tunnels, trees, mountains, etc. It is allowed for a pilgrim in a state of ihram, whether riding or on foot, to be under such shades. There is no objection to protecting oneself from the sun with one’s bare hands. However, as a matter of ihtiyat, it is better to avoid doing so.

Note:  According to the more cautious opinion, the expiation for seeking shade is sacrificing a sheep, even if it were due to some excuse. According to the stronger opinion, sacrificing a sheep would be sufficient during Ihram for ‘Umrah and a sheep during Ihram for Hajj, even if he has repeated seeking shade during ‘Umrah and Hajj.[1]

[1] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, chapter Hajj, Pg. 464-467 (Things Forbidden During Ihram & Conditions for Tying Ihram); The Official Website of the Office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Rules of Hajj (Addendum) » Shading for Men.

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Permissibility of doing Matam for those passed away

Question 051: According to the hadith in the attached meme, from how I understand it, a person was killed and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) saw women doing matam due to the person being killed and he said for them to stop doing matam and only ghum and crying are accepted. So, is matam really allowed?

Rough translation of the attached meme, “One time the Prophet (saws) was passing from near Sham and saw women doing matam on a killed person. The Prophet (saws) called the owner of that qabila and asked him, why have you not told them that they cant do this; only weep and ghum a lot. Go and tell them to stop.”

Answer 051: There are many traditions narrated from our Infallibles (pbuth) in which we are allowed to do matam. Like what has been mentioned in Dua Abu Hamza Thumali.[1]

Given the supposition made in your questions, this Hadith is narrated from Imam Ali (A.S) not the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The following is the hadith I have translated it:

The tribe of Hamdan was one of the three tribes having the largest number of combatants in the army of Hadrat Ali (as). In one of the encounters in Siffin, members of this tribe, being on the right flank, had shown their unique firmness especially eight hundred from among their youth who remained steadfast till their last breath. One hundred and eighty of them were martyred and wounded; eleven among those who attained martyrdom were commanders.

When the Imam (as) was passing from Hamdan, He asked why they are mourning? Nasr replied: they are mourning for those of their family killed in Siffin Battle. Imam (as) has said, “I witness (and guarantee) that every one of them who were killed, were very patient and his Shahada (martyrdom) is accepted”. Then. Imam Ali (as) was passing from Sham (Syria) and heard some women mourning loudly. Harb Bin Syurahbil approached Imam Ali (as). The Imam has said to him: “Do your wives overcome to you? You cannot prevent them from mourning? Harb replied, “O Amir al-Momenin, if it was one, two or three persons we could do so, but one hundred and eighty of this tribe were martyred.” Imam Ali (as) said to him, “May Allah bless your martyrs.”[2]

The Arabic version of this hadith is as follows:

نصر عن عمر قال حدثني عبد الله بن عاصم الفائشي قال لما مر علي بالثوريين يعني ثور همدان سمع البكاء فقال ما هذه الأصوات قيل هذا البكاء على من قتل بصفين فقال أما إني أشهد لمن قتل منهم صابرا محتسبا بالشهادة ثم مر بالفائشيين فسمع الأصوات فقال مثل ذلك ثم مر بالشباميين فسمع رنة شديدة و صوتا مرتفعا عاليا فخرج إليه حرب بن شرحبيل الشبامي فقال علي أ يغلبكم نساؤكم أ لا تنهونهن عن هذا الصياح و الرنين قال يا أمير المؤمنين لو كانت دارا أو دارين أو ثلاثا قدرنا على ذلك و لكن من هذا الحي ثمانون و مائة قتيل فليس من دار إلا و فيها بكاء

The following verses of the Holy Qur’an tell us there is no problem to do matam for those who have passed away or have been killed.

In the Holy Qur’an Allah (SWT) says: And he turned away from them, and said, “Alas! My grief is great for Yusuf!” And his eyes turned white due to weeping [and he kept his anger within Himself.” They said, “By Allah! You will go on remembering Joseph until you wreck your health or perish.” He said, “I complain of my anguish and grief only to Allah. I know from Allah what you do not know.”[3] Thus, according to the Holy Qur’an, there is no problem to do matam.

For further information regarding other traditions in which such mourning is considered as makruh, please refer to:

– Mustadrak al-Wasael wa Mustanbit al-Masael Vol. 2, Chapter Mourning, Pgs. 456-457 & ….

Index: Mourning for Imam Hussain (as) while you are grieving, answer 047.

[1] . Mafatih al-Jinan, Dua Abu Hamza Thumali.

[2] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 79, Pg, 89, Chapter 16.

[3] . Surah Yousef, verses 84-85 &86.

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Enemies killed by Imam Hussain (as) in Karbala on the Day of Ashura

Question 598: Salam. How many zio-Muslim pagans from the army of satan (yazeed son of Moawia) were sent to hell by Imam Hussain a.s before embracing martyrdom? How many Enemies killed by Imam Hussain (as) in Karbala on the Day of Ashura?

Answer 598: Some narrators said: when Imam Hussain became alone on the Day of Ashura, we, the narrators swore  by Allah that there was no one braver than him, because his children, families and companions have been killed, but when the enemies attacked Him He attacked them all too. He himself attacked the whole enemies in a way that they were all running away from Him like locust, He then came back to his military base saying: La Hawla wa la Quwwata illa billah al-Ali al-Adhim.

In Ithbat al-Wasiyya there is a tradition in which mentioned that 1800 fighters, the infidels have been killed by Imam Hussain (as) on the Day of Ashura.[1]

In Bihrar al-Anwar ibn Shar Ashub and Muhammad bin Abi Talib narrated: The Imam (as) has been continuously attacked and finally single-handedly killed 1,950 infidels in Karbala. And then Umar bin Sa’ad shouted at his army and said: Woe is to you! Do you know with whom you are fighting? He is the son of Qattal al-Arab! Attack him from all sides. And then Four thousands fighters surrounded him and close the way toward his tents.

In response to this question that how is it possible that the Imam (as) can kill the number of infidels, we should say that since the army of Umar Sa’ad were afraid of the Imam’s fighting they were running away from Him in order to save their lives. So, some of them have been killed under the hands and feet of horses and the crowd of people and therefore, the dead were too much in number.[2]

The Arabic version of this narration is as follows:

قال بعض الرواة فو الله ما رأيت مكثورا قط قد قتل ولده و أهل بيته و صحبه أربط جأشا منه و إن كانت الرجال لتشد عليه فيشد عليها بسيفه فتنكشف عنه انكشاف المعزى إذا شد فيها الذئب و لقد كان يحمل فيهم و قد تكملوا ألفا فينهزمون بين يديه كأنهم الجراد المنتشر ثم يرجع إلى مركزه و هو يقول لَا حَوْلَ وَ لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْعَظِيمِ.

و قال ابن شهرآشوب و محمد بن أبي طالب و لم يزل يقاتل حتى قتل ألف رجل و تسعمائة رجل و خمسين رجلا سوى المجروحين فقال عمر بن سعد لقومه الويل لكم أ تدرون لمن تقاتلون هذا ابن الأنزع البطين هذا ابن قتال العرب فاحملوا عليه من كل جانب و كانت الرماة أربعة آلاف فرموه بالسهام فحالوا بينه و بين رحله‏.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: The number of soldiers who came to Karbala to fight against Imam Hussain (as), answer 568.

[1] . Ithbat al-Wasiyya, Al-Mas’udi, Pg. 168.

[2] . Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 50.

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Ask Islam: The Punishment of committing suicide

Question 331: What do the hadiths of the Ahlulbayt (a.s) say about ‘Suicide’? What if one who kills himself doesn’t abandon the belief in all encompassing ‘Rahmah’ of الله? What’s the Punishment of committing suicide?

Answer 331: After creating man, Allah has declared some acts forbidden and mentioned that if such acts are committed, Hell will be the destiny of the sinners.

We know that some sins are like spoiled food whose long term consumption is a threat to one’s health, but others are like devastating explosions which destroy and demolish one’s spiritual life in an instant.

At the same time due to Allah’s great mercy there are many paths, which by taking them, people have the opportunity to nullify some of their heavy and severe punishments or at least reduce them to some extent.

Making up for unjust damages, asking forgiveness from those affected from the damages of certain sins, and finally, repenting to Allah are the steps of compensating for a sin.

Obviously these compensating steps and specifically repenting should be done before one’s death and while he is still alive and consequently, a repentance that is delayed to the final moments prior to death or after death will have no effect.[1]

In the light of what was explained we will return to the sin of suicide that was mentioned in your question.
In a hadith by Imam Baqir, he says: “A Mu’min (believer) may suffer from catastrophes of all kinds or die by various incidents, but he will never commit suicide.”[2]

In this regard Imam Sadiq says: “Whoever commits suicide deliberately will remain in Hell forever.”[3]

In some ways it is correct to say that committing suicide is a sin that automatically entails one to be taken to Hell, but why?

1- As we mentioned above there is an opportunity to nullify or reduce the punishment of sins through repenting to Allah and the repentance should be done before one’s death, but committing suicide is a sin that denies one the opportunity to repent. In other words, by committing this sin one has declined his last chance to nullify or reduce his punishment, thus, naturally entering Hell.

2- Life is a precious gift that Allah has granted to man. This gift is actually an opportunity with the help of which one can achieve the greatest levels of perfection. The person who commits suicide is virtually blowing his precious opportunity and being punished in Hell will be the direct consequence of declining this opportunity. The same way if someone all of a sudden throws himself into fire; his body will burn as the direct result of his inappropriate action.

Also, the same way committing suicide is an unforgivable sin, taking away others’ opportunity to live will entail an inevitable punishment.

Regarding this issue Imam Sadiq says: “A Mu’min (believer) will have the chance to make up for his behavior and conduct, unless he takes part in killing another believer unrightfully, and one who kills a Mu’min, (even though it seems that he has the chance to repent but certain events will take place that he) will not actually repent.”[4]

Despite the fact that some sins do not completely take away the chance to repent, but they reduce the possibility of repentance. Let’s examine the following hadith:

Imam Sadiq (as) was asked about an individual that consumes alcoholic beverages and what his (spiritual) situation would be like? The Imam responded: “His Salat (prayer) and also his repenting will not be accepted for 40 days and if he passes away in this period of time he will enter Hell.”[5]

The Imam (as) has also said: “Whosoever purposely commits suicide, will remain in the hellfire forever.”[6]

In closing, one can conclude that some sins do cause people to enter Hell automatically, but this should not be understood in a way that leads to belief in Jabr (Force and predetermination) and one should not take the responsibility of the sinner in regard to his sins lightly. In fact, this automatic entering is the direct result of the sinner’s actions, the same way the automatic demolishment of a person’s body who throws himself from a height does not contradict his responsibility for his act. However, according to the viewpoint which suggests the manifestation of actions or the unity of action and reward/punishment, Hell and Heaven are the manifestations of our own actions, meaning that it is the person who creates Heaven or Hell through his actions, not that he has done an act and according to an arrangement (with Allah) he will now be rewarded or punished by going to Heaven or Hell. From this point of view the term “automatically” will lose all meaning regarding sins.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index:  Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide, answer 122.

Index: Offering prayer for the dead over one’s body who committed suicide, answer 597.

[1] . Nisa: 18.

[2] . Koleini, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub, vol. 3, pg. 112, hadith 8.

[3] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 45, hadith 1.

[4] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 272, hadith 7.

[5] . Sheikh Saduq, Thawabul-A’mal, pg. 244.

[6] . Man-La Yahduruhul-Faqih, vol. 4, pg. 95.

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Offering prayer for the dead over one’s body who committed suicide

Question 597: Salaamun Alaykum, is it permissible to offer the prayer for the dead over Muslim’s body how committed suicide? What about reciting Surah Al Fatiha or Namaz e Wahshat for a those who committed suicide?

Answer 597: It is obligatory to offer prayer for every Muslim (dead person), even if he belongs to the opposite (non-Shiah) sect. However, if he is an infidel of any category whatsoever, even if he is an apostate, or one who is declared a non-Muslim even if he unduly assumes the title of Islam like Nawasib (openly hostile to Ahl-i Bayt) or Khawãrij (.i.e, those who oppose Imam Ali), it is not permissible to offer prayers on their dead[1].

Reciting Surah al-Fatiha and offering Wahshat prayer are mustahab. So, one can do these previous mentioned acts for the deceased Muslim as such people are in dire need of asking for mercy from Allah, the Almighty.[2]

As we said, it is obligatory to offer ‘the prayer for the dead’ over a deceased Muslim’s body, even though he has committed suicide. According to maraja’, saying this following phrase, which is considered as Mustahab, is not obligatory be recited. “Alla humma inna La Na’lamu Minhu (for female: Minha) Illa Khayra”.

The followings are fatawa of our maraja regarding this issue:

Ayatollah Khamenei (ha): In any case, the prayer for the dead is obligatory be offered over the deceased Muslim’s body.

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (ha): Although such persons have committed the capital sin (i.e. suicide) that he/she has to repent from, but all the rules concerning offering prayer for the dead are applying to him/her too. Considering that the word “Khayr” means the faith of being Shia, it is also permissible to be recited for the deceased Muslim who has committed suicide.

Ayatollah Noori Hademani (ha): Given the supposition made in the question, offering prayer for the dead is obligatory for the deceased Muslim. There is no problem to recite the above mentioned phrase.[3]

How to Offer the Prayer for the Dead:

Procedure for Offering Prayer for the Dea: The prayer for the dead (is performed in Arabic and) consists of five Takbirs (saying: Allah-o-Akbar, (Allah is greatest)). The first Takbir is followed by the two Testimonies, the second by sending Blessings on the Prophet and his Progeny, the third by praying for the believing men and believing women, the fourth by praying for the dead, the fifth by concluding the prayer.

Less than five Takbirs are not permissible, except by way of Taqiyyah (dissimulation of one’s faith in the face of threatening death). The prayer for the dead has no Adhãn (the Call for prayer and no iqãmat (the short Call just before beginning Prayer), no Qirã’at, no “Ruku” (Kneeling), ‘Sajdahs” (Prostrations) and no ‘Tashahhud’ (reciting the Two Testimonies) and no “Salãm” (i.e., the Three Salutations at the end of the usual Prayer). It is sufficient to name those referred to in the four Takbirs. So after the first Takbir one should say: “I bear witness to that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness to that Muhammad is (his Servant and) His Messenger; after the second Takbir: “O Allah, send Blessing on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad”; after the third Takbir: “O Allah, Forgive the Believing Men and Believing Women”, and after the fourth Takbir: “O Allah, Forgive this dead person”. Then one should (recite the fifth Takbir) saying: “Allãh-o- Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest), and (thereby) conclude (the prayer).

It is better that after the first Takbir one should say (in Arabic) “I bear witness to that Allãh is One. He has no Partner. He is One god, the Matchless, the Eternal, the Single one, the Everlasting, the Endless, the Ever- Enduring. He has no Female Companion, nor a Child. And I bear witness to that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger. ‘He has sent him with Guidance and True Faith, so that he may make it prevail over all the beliefs, even if it be undesirable for the Polytheists’ (see Sürah Al-Saff, verse No.9).”

After the second Takbir one should say (in Arabic): “O Allah, send Blessing on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and send benediction on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and have Mercy on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, even more than Thou sent Blessing and Benediction, and had Mercy on Abraham and the Progeny of Abraham. Certainly Thou art Praiseworthy and Glorified. And send Blessing on all the Prophets and Messengers.

After the third Takbir, (one should say in Arabic): “O Allah, forgive the believing men and believing women, and the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the living from among them and the dead. O Allah, let them and us be followed by Virtues. Certainly thou hast Power over every thing.

After the fourth Takbir, (one should say in Arabic): “O Allah, this shrouded man in front of us is thy servant, son of thy servant and thy maid servant. He has come down to thee and thou art the best of those to whom one may come down. O Allah, thou hast taken out his soul to thee. He needs thy Mercy, and thou art in no need to punish him. O Allah, certainly we have no knowledge about him but of virtue, and thou hast better knowledge about him than ourselves. O Allàh if he was virtuous,

then increase his good deeds. If he was an evil doer, forgive his evil deeds, and forgive us and him. O Allah judge him among those who are friendly to him and love him and keep him away from those who keep away from him and who loathe him. O Allah affiliate him with thy Prophet and introduce him to the Prophet and the Prophet to him, and have Mercy on us when we die, O Lord of the Universe. O Allah write down his name among those having the highest status with thyself, appoint as his successor behind him those who are left behind, place him among the friends of Muhammad and his purified Progeny, and Bless him and us with thy Mercy, O Most Merciful among the merciful. O Allah, (we ask) thy Pardon, Thy Pardon, Thy Pardon.”

If the dead be a female, then in the above prayer, instead of the words: “This shrouded man ….thy maid servant”, one must say: “This shrouded woman in front of us is thy maid servant, and the daughter of thy servant and maid servant”, and instead of masculine pronouns use the feminine pronouns.

If the dead were a child, in the fourth part of the prayer, one must pray for its parents and say “O Allah make him for his parent and for us an excessive reward in advance.”

The masculine pronouns can be used for both the males and females. Masculine may be used in view of the words for the dead and the person are masculine in Arabic, while the word “Janãzah” (meaning the bier or funeral procession) is a feminine noun in Arabic and so one can use feminine pronouns for it.

In case it is not known whether the dead is a male or female, it makes matters easy, and in that case there is no need of repeating the prayer and pronouns.

If a man doubts between the minimum and maximum Takbirs in prayers for the dead, according to the more cautious opinion, he shall recite both the minimum and maximum Du’ãs with the intention of hope (that it would be desirable to Allah). If, for example, he doubts between two and three, he shall decide in four of the minimum (i.e. two), and send Blessing on the Prophet and his Progeny, Blessing and Peace be upon them and pray for the believing men and women, and then recite Takbir and pray for the believing men and women, and pray the dead and recite Takbir and with the intention of hope (that it would be desirable to Allah), he shall pray for the dead and recite Takbir.[4]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answer:

Index:  Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide, answer 122.

[1] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, rules concerning Offering Prayer for the Dead.

[2] . For further information on this issue, visit: the official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Rules related to a dying person » Namaz-e-Wahshat.

[3] . A similar question has sent to the office of Grand Ayatollahs: Khamanei, Makarem Shirazi, Noori Hamedani (May Allah grant them long life) by IQ.

[4] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, rules concerning Offering Prayer for the Dead.

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Ask Islam: Ruling on committing suicide

Question 122: Is suicide a sin and can it be forgiven? What is the ruling on committing suicide?

Answer 122:  Some sins, due to their quality, leave no opportunity to repent and will lead their committers to the irreversible path of Hell, the same way falling from heights without employing a parachute or landing equipment will lead to the disintegration of the body or the same way falling into a deep sea without possessing the ability to swim will naturally lead to drowning and in both examples there is no way back. Of course we must realize that the term “automatically” is not precise in this regard, because we all know that such a punishment is the direct result of such a decision.

After creating man, Allah has declared some acts forbidden and mentioned that if such acts are committed, Hell will be the destiny of the sinners.

We know that some sins are like spoiled food whose long term consumption is a threat to one’s health, but others are like devastating explosions which destroy and demolish one’s spiritual life in an instant.

At the same time due to Allah’s great mercy there are many paths, which by taking them, people have the opportunity to nullify some of their heavy and severe punishments or at least reduce them to some extent.

Making up for unjust damages, asking forgiveness from those affected from the damages of certain sins, and finally, repenting to Allah are the steps of compensating for a sin.

Obviously these compensating steps and specifically repenting should be done before one’s death and while he is still alive and consequently, a repentance that is delayed to the final moments prior to death or after death will have no effect.[1]

In the light of what was explained we will return to the sin of suicide that was mentioned in your question.

In a hadith by Imam Baqir, he says: “A Mu’min (believer) may suffer from catastrophes of all kinds or die by various incidents, but he will never commit suicide.”[2]

In this regard Imam Sadiq says: “Whoever commits suicide deliberately will remain in Hell forever.”[3]

In some ways it is correct to say that committing suicide is a sin that automatically entails one to be taken to Hell, but why?

1- As we mentioned above there is an opportunity to nullify or reduce the punishment of sins through repenting to Allah and the repentance should be done before one’s death, but committing suicide is a sin that denies one the opportunity to repent. In other words, by committing this sin one has declined his last chance to nullify or reduce his punishment, thus, naturally entering Hell.

2- Life is a precious gift that Allah has granted to man. This gift is actually an opportunity with the help of which one can achieve the greatest levels of perfection. The person who commits suicide is virtually blowing his precious opportunity and being punished in Hell will be the direct consequence of declining this opportunity. The same way if someone all of a sudden throws himself into fire; his body will burn as the direct result of his inappropriate action.

Also, the same way committing suicide is an unforgivable sin, taking away others’ opportunity to live will entail an inevitable punishment.

Regarding this issue Imam Sadiq says: “A Mu’min (believer) will have the chance to make up for his behavior and conduct, unless he takes part in killing another believer unrightfully, and one who kills a Mu’min, (even though it seems that he has the chance to repent but certain events will take place that he) will not actually repent.”[4]

Despite the fact that some sins do not completely take away the chance to repent, but they reduce the possibility of repentance. Let’s examine the following hadith: Imam Sadiq was asked about an individual that consumes alcoholic beverages and what his (spiritual) situation would be like? The Imam responded: “His Salat (prayer) and also his repenting will not be accepted for 40 days and if he passes away in this period of time he will enter Hell.”[5]

In closing, one can conclude that some sins do cause people to enter Hell automatically, but this should not be understood in a way that leads to belief in Jabr (Force and predetermination) and one should not take the responsibility of the sinner in regard to his sins lightly.

In fact, this automatic entering is the direct result of the sinner’s actions, the same way the automatic demolishment of a person’s body who throws himself from a height does not contradict his responsibility for his act. However, according to the viewpoint which suggests the manifestation of actions or the unity of action and reward/punishment, Hell and Heaven are the manifestations of our own actions, meaning that it is the person who creates Heaven or Hell through his actions, not that he has done an act and according to an arrangement (with Allah) he will now be rewarded or punished by going to Heaven or Hell. From this point of view the term “automatically” will lose all meaning regarding sins.

[1] . Nisa:18.

[2] . Kuleini, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub, vol. 3, pg. 112, hadith 8.

[3] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 45, hadith 1.

[4] . Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 272, hadith 7.

[5] . Sheikh Saduq, Thawabul-A’mal, pg. 244.

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The difference between Trial and Punishment

Question 517: The Difference between Trial and Punishment. As-Salamu `Alaykum. I have asked this question of many scholars but no one has been able to give me a satisfactory answer. I hope you can clarify it for me. I know that man has to go through a lot of problems and afflictions throughout his life. Now these sufferings could be a punishment from God or it could be that God wants to test his faith and raise his ranks in the Hereafter. But how can we tell the difference between punishment from God or tests and trials by God?

Brief answer 517: Imam Ali (a) says, “Calamities are designed to punish the unbeliever, to test the believer, and for prophets, it is to raise them up in rank and degree.

Detailed answer 517: To see whether unpleasant natural happenings are God’s punishment or not, we should consider the following points:

  1. Living in indulgence and laziness are not the end goals in the creation of human beings. The end goal of human beings is to achieve true happiness, which cannot be gained except through praying and gaining proximity to God.
  2. Natural disasters also have some intrinsic benefits in the sense that they help human beings reach their end goal. It can be said that the harm that these incidents deliver can be considered relative. This means that we consider these things as disasters only when we look through the eyes of those who have been affected. For example a snake’s poison is harmful for a person or an animal that is bitten, but in reality it is good for the snake itself as it protects it from danger and harm.

These catastrophic incidents which occur have invaluable effects when gauged in proportion to the whole universe and the life of the creatures therein.

Some of these effects are as follows:

1- Flourishing talents:  Due to the nature of human beings and the general conditions of the world, whenever human beings are facing hardships and are struggling to overcome these hardships, their internal talents, whether material or mental, are forced to manifest themselves. For instance, many scientific discoveries and innovations have taken place due to the needs of human beings. The Holy Quran has underlined this fact that whenever there is difficulty and suffering it is followed soon after by comfort and ease.[1]

From the Holy Quran’s point of view, one of God’s methods is to test human beings by putting them through difficulties[2] at various stages in their lives in order to draw out and manifest their hidden talents. Imam Ali (a) describes the effects of difficulties on drawing out people’s intrinsic talents in the form of a very beautiful simile:

“Know that the desert trees have stronger branches, while trees planted near water have thinner (and weaker) barks.”[3]

2- Enlightenment:  One of the most important consequences of calamities is that they awaken human beings from the ignorance caused by the material blessings of this world. These calamities remind humans of their important responsibilities before God and replace arrogance with humbleness. Regarding this issue, the Holy Quran says that various Prophets have had their people tested with different types of hardships in order to dissolve any feeling of resistance in them and to help them to submit to the truth.

“And We sent no prophet to any town, unless We seized its people with suffering and harshness.”[4]

3- Appreciation for God’s bounties:  Another benefit that natural disasters bring is recognition of the importance of God’s bounties by human beings. “One who knows the value of being healthy is the one who has suffered formerly.”

In a Hadith, Imam Sadiq (a) says, “Calamities are for both good people and bad people; God uses them to improve both groups. When calamities occur for good people it reminds them of the bounties they used to have and teaches them how to be patient and grateful.”[5]

c- The proportion of what human beings know to what they don’t is similar to the proportion of a drop of water to an ocean. There are many unknown secrets, not only in the outside world, but also contained inside of human beings. Since the knowledge of human beings is limited, we cannot claim to know every secret about the incident which we call ‘evil’. It is likely that there are many benefits in these incidents which we are unaware of and unable to fathom. It’s evident that we cannot say something does not exist simply because we cannot recognize it ourselves. Therefore, careful judgment is a key requirement of wisdom. It is very easy to think of something as evil while its reality may be the complete opposite. The Holy Quran beautifully uncovers this through the verse which says, “It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you…”[6]

  1. Another important point is the effect of people’s acts on the occurrence of disasters. The human being is a creature with free will. However, based on the law of causation, the wrong decisions that people make might lead to calamites and sufferings.[7]

The Holy Quran says, “And if people of the towns had believed and had had piety, then certainly, We should have opened for them the blessings of the heaven and the earth, but they disbelieved. So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn. “[8]

Imam Ali (a) has said in this regard, “God punishes his servants for their evil behaviors by decreasing the fruits of trees, and bringing a lack of rain, etc …, until they repent and stop committing sins, and take heed. “[9]

The way that people’s ethical behavior can create the causation of natural disasters and the kind of relationship that exists between them is a detailed issue itself, which will be discussed later.

With the help of science, some of the destructive effects of natural disasters are prevented in developed countries. With this in mind it should be realized that it’s not possible to completely evade the sufferings that are caused by people’s evil actions. This is an issue that cannot be decided easily; for instance, we can see that the same developed countries passed through a period of suffering and pain in the second World War that was much greater than any natural disasters that have occurred throughout history. The source of such wars and calamities is directly linked to evil actions and the misconducts of the authorities in those countries. In addition, they are now suffering from other calamities such as social corruption, various diseases and a lack of moral and mental security, and various other issues which will be discussed later.

The most important thing is that in these natural disasters, God has set different goals for different people. These happenings are a blessing for believers, because they are either expiations for sins, for which the individual concerned would have been punished in the next world., In some traditions they have even been considered as valuable as martyrdom in the way of God[10], This is because it is something which can awaken people from ignorance and remind them of God’s blessings, whereas the unbeliever is not welcomed by these blessings. He may spend his life in pleasure and welfare, but in the other world, he will be seized by painful sufferings much greater than the ones in this world.

Imam Ali (a) says, “Calamities are designed to punish the unbeliever, to test the believer, and for prophets, it is to raise them up in rank and degree.”[11]

  1. It should be pointed out that calamities are blessings when a human being can benefit from them and makes his soul perfect through patience. However, if he chooses to evade and escape from difficulties, the difficulties he faces will become very harsh for him (Not that one shouldn’t try to avoid difficulty, but one shouldn’t think that they should never take place for him, and if they do, he can complain and question everything). The fact is that like calamities, blessings can also lead to either happiness or misery. Therefore, whether an occurance is a blessing or not depends on the reaction shown by human beings, i.e. whether they are grateful or ungrateful towards God. In addition, it depends on their level of patience.
  2. A calamity is something that is God’s punishment, which is a consequence of the evil behavior of human beings. These are the true calamities by definition because firstly, they are under the control of human beings and secondly, they don’t lead to goodness and perfection. For example, cruelty is a calamity for human beings as is narrated in traditions.

“Cruelty is God’s harshest punishment.”[12] This is because the punishment of cruelty cannot be felt and it does not awaken the human being so as to bring God’s grace upon him.[13]

  1. Finally, natural occurrences are the results of various causes. Some causes stand in one line and some side by side. This means that the causes themselves are consequences of other causes. Anyway, there are material and non-material causes (in some cases the acts of human beings) that form an adequate cause for natural disasters, which are all subject to the general order of the universe which is materialized by God’s will. Therefore, natural disasters happen by divine will, and are prevented by God as well. God can punish any group of people whenever He wishes. In most cases, He does this via natural causes. Natural occurrences and their prevention are both based on divine will, and are not necessarily in contradiction with the fact that they are used to punish.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Reasons why Allah immerses us in the sea of hardships, answer 474.

[1] Shahid Mutahhari, Adle Elahi, pp. 130-134.

[2] “فان مع العسر یسراً ان مع العسر یسراً” Inshirah:5-6.

[3] Anbiya:25; Baqarah:155.

[4] Nahjul-Balaghah, Letter 45.

[5] A’raf:94

[6] Biharul-Anwar, vol. 3, pg. 139

[7] “و عسی ان تکرهوا شیئاً و هو خیر لکم” Baqarah:216.

[8] Ma’arefe Eslami, vol. 1, pp. 81-85.

[9]  “وَ لَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَى ءَامَنُوا وَ اتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيهِم بَرَكَتٍ مِّنَ السمَاءِ وَ الأَرْضِ وَ لَكِن كَذَّبُوا فَأَخَذْنَهُم بِمَا كانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ” A’raf:96. For further explanation see:Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 6, pp. 265-274 and vol.1, pg.53, under verse 7 of surah Baqarah.

[10] Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon 143.

[11] Kafi, vol. 1, pg. 353.

[12] Mustadrakul-Wasa’el, vol. 2, pg. 438.

[13] “ما ضرب الله عبراً بعقوبة اشد من قسوة القلب” Mustadrakul-Wasa’el, vol. 13, pg. 93.

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Mixing between men and women at Fitness Centers in College

Question 595: 1. To stay healthy is it alright to participate in a college class where women and men are exercising together, playing a sport (i.e. basketball, soccer, volleyball) ? All the Fitness Centers in College are male/female mixed and expensive, you have to travel very far to participate with other Muslim brothers to exercise in a halal way, and cannot afford equipment of your own. What should you do to prevent disease, laziness, and lethargy in this case.

Answer 595: Firstly, these sports you named are not necessary for a person to exercise. Secondly, in order that you want to stay healthy and prevent disease and laziness you can do other sports like walking. But, if those females participated in such sports have at least observed Islamic hijab in some cases and you are also completely sure that you don’t engage in a forbidden act and this doesn’t harms your beliefs and commitment to the faith (which is what normally happens) nor entails any harãm act you would be allowed to participate in such sports.

According to Sayyid Sistani (ha), one must refrain from going to such places where people go about half-naked is if it entails a harãm act. Based on obligatory precaution, one must refrain from going to such places, even if it does not entail a harãm act like looking with lust and the like.[1]

[1] . For more information, please refer to: The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Youth’s issues » General Rules.

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Ziyarat Ghusl: Performing Ghusl for the Ziyarat of Masoomin (as)

Question 596: In terms of ablution, is it then mandatory to do Ziyarat Ghusl or tayammum before entering sacred places or doing salat?

Answer 596: The Fuqaha have mentioned many more Mustahab Ghusls, one of which is Ghusl for the Ziyarat of the Masoomen (A.S.)

The followings are some fatawa of our maraja regarding visiting the holy Shrines of our Infallible Imams (pbuth).

Imam Khomeini (ra): You are supposed to perform Ghusl for the Ziyarat of the holy Shrines of the Imams (as) with the Niyyat of ‘Raja’.

Sayyid Sistani (ha): Performing Ghusl for the Ziyarat of Masoomin (as) has not proved as a Mustahab act, but if one wants to do it, he/she should, as a precaution, perform it with the Niyyat of ‘Raja’, (i.e. with a hope that it might be a desirable act).

Makarem Shirazi (ha), Safi Golpayegani (ha) and the late Bahjat (ra): It is mustahab to perform Ghusl for Ziyarat of Masoomin (as).[1]

Note: If you want to offer the five daily obligatory prayers you have to perform Wudu first. And if there is a barrier preventing water from reaching it you would be allowed to perform Tayammum instead of Wudu or Ghusl.

For further information in this regards, please read the following answers:

Index:  Impermissibility of making Wudu after Ghusl, answer 035.

Index: The validity of Ghusl even a barrier finds out after a week, answer 031.

Index: Number of things which invalidate Wudu (ablution), answer 556.

[1] . Adopted from answer 4530 IQ.

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PQ4R Method: Ways to Improve Your Memory

Question 093: Can you please introduce some methods by which we can improve and optimize our memory according to the traditions (Ahadith)?

Answer 093: Effective ways to improve memory and comprehension can be classified into some divisions which are as follows:

  1. Remembering Allah (by worshiping Him and doing the canonical duties specially praying on time).
  2. Reciting those duas which are effective for improving memory like the Dua that has been narrated from the Infallible Imam. In which He says: “Ask Allah the Almighty to improve our intellect and beg Him to give us comprehension and perception”.[1]

We explain some kinds of Duas which are effective for improving memory as a sample, that are as follows:

1: The one that the Holy prophet (P.B.U.H) taught Imam Ali (a.s). In which He recommended Imam Ali (a.s) to say:

«سبحان من لايعتدى على اهل مملكته، سبحان من لايأخذ اهل الارض بالوان العذاب، سبحان الرؤوف الرحيم، اللهم اجعل لى فى قلبى نورا و بصرا و فهما و علما انك على كل شى‏ء قدير».[2]

2: “for re-establishment of heart please read this following Dua thrice” Seyed Ibn Tawoos said.

«يا حى يا قيوم يا لااله الا انت اسئلك أن تحيى قلبى اللّهم صل على محمد و آل محمد».[3]

3: Recite this following Dua when you are going to study:

«اللهم اخرجنى من ظلمات الوهم و اكرمنى بنور الفهم اللّهم افتح علينا ابواب رحمتك و انشر علينا خزائن علومك برحمتك يا ارحم الراحمين».[4]

4: It is supposed to repeat this Dua per day before you talk any:

«يا حى يا قيّوم فلا يفوت شيئا علمه و لايؤده».[5]

  1. Reciting the Holy Quran, especially Ayatul Kursi.

” اللَّهُ لا إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَ لا نَوْمٌ لَهُ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَ ما فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ ما بَيْنَ أَيْديهِمْ وَ ما خَلْفَهُمْ وَ لا يُحيطُونَ بِشَيْ‏ءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِما شاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّماواتِ وَ الْأَرْضَ وَ لا يَؤُدُهُ حِفْظُهُما وَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظيمُ. (255) لَا إِكْرَاهَ فىِ الدِّينِ  قَد تَّبَينَ‏َ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَىّ‏ِ  فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّغُوتِ وَ يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى‏ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا  وَ اللَّهُ سمَِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ(256). اللَّهُ وَلىِ‏ُّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلىَ النُّورِ  وَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلىَ الظُّلُمَاتِ  أُوْلَئكَ أَصْحَبُ النَّارِ  هُمْ فِيهَا خَلِدُون‏”.[6]

  1. Avoiding those things which cause forgetfulness like sin, loving wealth eagerly and above everything, being so captive by the world and worrying much more about it.[7]
  2. Attenuating anxiety and finding tranquility especially when you are studying.
  3. Reducing mental thoughts.
  4. Improving our concentration and attention.

Note: whatever that has been explained in regards to improve memory and intelligence from the traditional and prayer (dua) book is not counted as the absolute reason. Because, some factors which are in regards to intelligence and memory are actually related to heritage and genetic elements and they are beyond our control.

In other words, every human’s intelligence, memory and talent are a consequence of various environment and genetic factors such as the abovementioned factors that some of them are beyond human control like the role of the past generation’s genetic factors, though some of them in our hand.

Therefore, we shouldn’t expect that a miracle will be performed if suddenly your intelligence quotient (I.Q) promoted to the highest levels, from 90 to 130, by doing the abovementioned tasks which are actually effective, but not as we expected so. Otherwise, if it hasn’t performed, we do not have to tend to undervalue Imam’s recommendations in this regards.

Actually, we can enhance an intelligence which has 100 points in order to be more effective. However, we can increase the intelligence quotient (I.Q) based on the regular and accurate program that have been organized for mother and child nutrition. Moreover, we can increase the child intelligence quotient (I.Q) if we enrich child’s growth environment by providing any healthy environmental provocations. We are supposed to remove all obstacles were created on the way of promoting intelligence even at the age of youth and middle-ages in order to provide capabilities and developments factors.

It should be noted that these traditions and recommendations have been provided for these matters.

B) Observing material things

  1. Providing natural and Physiological necessities like proper nutrition, sport and sanitation.
  2. Brushing teeth.
  3. Using more articles of food which contains glucose like date, honey, natural sweets; also using those foodstuffs which contain calcium, phosphor and vitamins like milk products, fish oil, orange, tomato, bran, fresh vegetables, carrot and liver.

It is mentioned in Mafatih al-Jinan that if we continually eating currants specially when it is red and has 21 in number before breakfast, and eating sweet paste, meat of around the neck, honey and lentil, our memory will be enhanced.

  1. Practicing and repeating those topics we learned.
  2. If you want to study smarter, take about 10 minutes break every 45 minutes.
  3. Respiratory practice: you are supposed to fill you lug with the air and then breath our gradually while you are standing. This practice help you concentrate better.

C) Observing psychological recommendations:

“You will be able to enhance your memory if you use these following solutions” Psychologists said.

  1. Scanning: which means to classify all the words you want to learn into some lexical sections, then classify these sections into some phrases. So that we can change those words or numbers into the meaningful sections by using this method of scanning in order to increase the capacity of our memory. E.g. changing this numerical chains (149-2177-619-83) to this chain (1983-1176-1492) which is the Christian era. As a result, we can increase and enhance our memory.
  2. Make it meaningful: this method can help us enhance our memory much better than the others. Moreover, we will keep and memorize what we learned better if we make it meaningful profoundly and even with more detailed. So, whenever we are going to keep a note of a book in our mind we will remember it faster in case we focus our attention not on the words but on its meaning. Therefore, we will learn it better if we pay more attention on its meaning profoundly and completely.
  3. Organizing: we can learn, memorize and remember any topics easily if we organize it. Which means, if the topics we are going to learn have numerous collections and branches, the best way of keeping them in our mind is to set it into the rational hierarchy and then divide them into some slightest divisions. E.g. we can divide it from the whole part into the slightest one (major topics into subtopics) and from the top into the down. As a result, we will learn and keep them in our mind easily.
  4. Providing safe environment: When we want to learn something, we usually do it in the special place, time and condition. These situations and conditions in which we learn is actually defined as “Ba’ft”. So, we are able to easily remember those topics we had learned them in case we arrange the same situation and condition as we learned there. E.g. when you want to easily remember the names of your guidance school classmates, you are supposed to walk throughout the school’s aisle where you graduated in order to remind that time when you had been studying with your classmates, so that you can remember their names very easily.
  5. Teaching the PQ4R Method: This method helps students to memorize their textbooks as it is explained under. This name is the abbreviation of the following words:

Preview. Survey or scan the material quickly to get an idea of the general organization and major topics and subtopics. Pay attention to headings and subheadings, and identify what you will be reading about and studying.

In another words: Look through the pages of your reading passage and read the headings of the chapter and any sections dividing the chapter. Read the first and last paragraph in each section. View the illustrations in each section. Read the captions under the pictures and take a few minutes to look at charts, graphs, or maps.

Question. Ask yourself questions about the material before you read it. Use headings to invent questions using the Wh words: who, what, why, where.

In other words: Think about the information you learned in the Preview. Ask yourself questions about it. Think about what you already know about ideas you saw during your Preview. What do you think are main points that will be raised in the chapter? What do you expect to learn from reading this material?

Read. Read the material. Do not take extensive written notes. Try to answer the questions that you posed prior to reading.

In other words: Read the passage. If there are ideas seem important, make a note of them on paper. If the book belongs to you, consider making notes in the margins and highlight important parts in the book. If you just can’t imagine writing in your book, make notes on paper.

Reflect on the material. Try to understand and make meaningful the presented information by (1) relating it to things you already know, (2) relating the subtopics in the text to primary concepts or principles, (3) trying to resolve contradictions within the presented information, and (4) trying to use the material to solve problems suggested by the material.

In other words: Take time to reflect on what you have read. How are the passages or chapters inter-related? How does the information fit into things you have already learned? What new information did you learn? Did the passage include the information you expected it to cover? Was there information that surprised you?

Recite. Practice remembering the information by stating points out loud and asking and answering questions. You may use headings, highlighted words, and notes on major ideas to generate those questions.

In other words: Think about the material. Discuss it with someone else or write down the main points you learned. Generally, writing information down by hand will improve memory of the material. If writing is a problem for you, consider brief notes or discuss the material with other students. It is important to summarize the material in writing using your own words. Explain it aloud to someone else or recite your notes aloud to yourself. Consider using a graphic organizer to increase your understanding of how concepts in the reading relate to each other.

Review. In the final step, actively review the material, focusing on asking yourself questions; re-read the material only when you are not sure of the answers.[8]

Also, consider the main points of the material. Were your questions answered? Do you feel that the writer’s points are fully understood?

Conclusion: We can classify those effective methods of enhancing and optimizing memory and comprehension into some divisions which are as follows:

A) Spiritual methods:

  1. Remembering Allah (by worshiping Him and doing the canonical duties especially praying on time)
  2. Reciting those duas which are effective for enhancing and optimizing memory such as the Holy prophet (P.B.U.H) taught Imam Ali (a.s). In which He recommended Imam Ali (a.s) to say:

«سبحان من لايعتدى على اهل مملكته، سبحان من لايأخذ اهل الارض بالوان العذاب، سبحان الرؤوف الرحيم، اللهم اجعل لى فى قلبى نورا و بصرا و فهما و علما انك على كل شى‏ء قدير»[9]

  1. Reciting the verses of the Holy Quran especially Ayatul Kursi.
  2. Avoidance of those things which cause forgetfulness like sin.
  3. Attenuating anxiety and finding tranquility especially when you are studying.
  4. Reducing those things which our memory become obsessed with.
  5. Improving our concentration and attention.

B) Observing material things.

  1. Providing natural and Physiological necessities like proper nutrition, sport and sanitation.
  2. Brushing teeth.
  3. Using more articles of food which contains glucose like date, honey, natural sweets; also using those foodstuffs which contain calcium, phosphor and vitamins like milk products, fish oil, orange, tomato, bran, fresh vegetables, carrot and liver.
  4. Practicing and repeating those topics we learned.

C) Observing psychological recommendations:

Psychologist said: “you will be able to enhance your memory if you use these following solutions”

  1. Scanning.
  2. Make it meaningful.
  3. Organizing.
  4. Providing safe environment.
  5. PQ4R method.

[1] . Bihar al-Anwar, vol 1, p 224, first tradition of Unwan al- Basri.

[2] . Mafatih-ul Jinan, the first chapter one of the first section, Taqeebat-e-Namaz.

[3] . , the book Baghiyat –e- Salehat.

[4] . Ibid.

[5] . Ibid.

[6] . “There is no God but Allah, the Eternal- Live; slumber does not overtake Allah, nor does sleep. To Allah Belongs whatever is in the heavens and On the earth. Who dares to intercede In Allah’s Presence without His Leave? Allah Knows what happens to The people now and what happens to Them in the future; and none of Them will ever encompass anything of Allah’s Knowledge except as much Allah Wills. Allah’s Throne is Extended over the heavens and The earth; but preserving both of Them] at the same time [does not Trouble Allah. And Allah is The Supreme-Exalted Great;

There is no compulsion in accepting Religion,] since [Truth has verily Become distinct from Falsehood] in The Qur’an and through The Messenger and Miracles [; whoever Rejects Satan and believes in Allah, Then indeed he has grasped the firmest Handle that will never break off. And Allah is the Knowing Hearer;

Allah is the Guardian of those who Believe; He takes them out from The darkness into the Light; and Those who reject Faith, their Guardians are the rebels who take Them out from the Light into The darkness and they will be The dwellers of the Hell, therein they Shall abide forever.”

[7] . Ibid

[8] . Adapted from Porseman CD, but with changing and rewriting a lot.

[9] . Mafatih-ul Jinan, the first chapter one of the first section, Taqeebat-e-Namaz.

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The exact date on birth or Martyrdom of Lady Fatima and Infallibles

Question 254: I am having a query that we people do not know the exact date of our imams birthday or martyr as we knew imam al Mahdi (.a.s) is present? Example, the exact date on birth or Martyrdom of Lady Fatima (sa)?

Answer 254: There have been many different reasons why we Shia don’t have an exact date of the martyrdom or birth of our Infallibles (pbuth) as follows:

People didn’t narrate the historical events during the times of our Infallibles (pbuh) as we do, now.  Due to lack of facilities, they didn’t keep such important issues on book or text to be transferred to the next generations. Narrating historical events were verbally at that times. Obviously, no one can claim that all of these narrators were immune to mistakes even about the date of birth of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as we see different opinions in this regards. The people didn’t also record the date of birth of their children.

Given to the fact that knowing the exact date of martyrdom or birth of our Infallibles (pbuth) was more important according to Shia narrators, most of scholars of this filed have been mentioned a solution by which people can understand it easily. They have been determined a date for such events based on the authenticity attained by scientific researches.

There has been mentioned different opinions about how long has the Lady Fatimah (sa) been alive after the demise of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in Hadithic or historical books. Some say it was forty days and others mentioned six months.[1]

According to Shia, the most authentic tradition in which mentioned the exact date of martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (sa) is a hadith narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) as He has said: Indeed, the date of martyrdom of Seddiqah Kubra (sa) is three months after the  demise of the holy Prophet (pbuh).[2]

According to Tabarsi (ra) Hadhrat Seddiqah Tahirah (sa) has passed away in Jumada al-Akhira in the eleventh year of the hegira. She had lived 95 days after the demise of the holy Prophet (pbuh).[3]

In his book Dalael al-Imamah Late Tabari narrated a hadith from Imam Sadiq as He has said: Lady Fatima Zahra (sa) has passed away on Tuesday in the month of Jumada al-Akhira, in the eleventh year of the hegira.[4]

Most of shia scholars including Sayyid bin Tawoos have accepted these above mentioned ahatith as authentic.[5]

There is another sahih hadith narrated by Late Kuleini from Imam Sadiq (as) as He has said: Indeed, Lady Fatima (sa) were alive seventy five days after her beloved Father (pbuh).[6]

Probably, the reason why some of scholars say it was ninety five days and others say seventy five days after the Prophet’s (pbuh) death is that the punctuation wasn’t prevalent at that time. Taking the following words into consideration can confirm the reason.

If we delete the spot of the letter “B” in the word “sab­’ôn” (seventy) and add two spots above the first letter of the word it would be pronounced “Tes­’ôn” (ninety).

Arabic version:

«خمسه و سبعون» با «خمسه تسعون»

Note: According to great Shia scholars, the most authentic date of martyrdom of Lady Fatima Zahra (sa) is ninety five days after the Prophet’s (pbuh) death.[7]

[1] . Majlesi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 43, Pg. 189, H 19.

[2] . Abul Faraj Esfehani, Maqatel al-Talebin, researcher: Saqar, Sayyid Ahmad, Pgs. 59 and 60, Dar al-Marefat, Beirut, Bita.

[3] . Tabarsi, Fadl bin Hasan, Aalam al-Wara bi Aalam al-Huda, Vol. 1, Pg. 300, Aalul Bayt Institution, Qom, first edition, 1417 A.H.

[4] . Tabari, Muhammad bin Jurayr bin Rostam, Dalael al-Imama, Pg. 79, Be’that, Qom, first edition, 1413 A.H.

[5] . Ibn Tawoos, Ali bin Musa, al-Iqbal bi al-Aamal al-Hasana fima Ya’mal Marrat-an fi al-Sunna, researcher and editor: Qayoumi Esfahani, Jawad, Vol. 3, Pgs. 160-161, Daftar Tablighat Islami, Qom, first edition.

[6] . Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 458, H 1.

[7] . Adopted from answer 8086.

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Men and Women: Covering body in prayers

Question 594: Salam. I wonder what obligatory parts men and women need to cover when performing Salat?

Brief answer 594: While offering prayers, a man should cover his private parts even if no one is looking at him, and preference is that he should also cover his body from the navel up to the knee.

A woman should cover her entire body while offering prayers, including her head and hair. As a recommended precaution, she should also cover the soles of her feet. It is not necessary for her to cover that part of her face which is washed while performing Wudhu, or the hands up to the wrists, or the upper feet up to the ankles. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that she has covered the obligatory parts of her body adequately, she should also cover a part of the sides of her face as well as lower part of her wrists and the ankles.[1]

Detailed answer 594: In case of ability, it is obligatory to cover the private parts in prayer and its appurtenances like the Rak’at offered by way of caution, and according to the stronger opinion, the compensatory prayer for the forgotten portions, and according to the more cautious opinion, the two prostrations due to inattention, as also in the supererogatory prayers excluding the prayer of the dead, though, according to the more cautious opinion, also including it, while caution must not be given up during the performance of the circumambulation.

If the private part of a person becomes visible due to wind or negligence, or it was visible from the beginning of the prayer without the knowledge of the person offering praying, the prayer shall be valid. However, the person should cover it immediately, if he comes to realize about it during the prayer. It is more cautious to finish it, and start it anew.

The same rule applies in case he forgets in both cases.

The private parts of a man which are required to be covered and are forbidden to look at during prayer are the anus, the penis and both the testicles. It is more cautious to cover the indistinct figure of the private parts visible from behind the clothes without distinction of the color.

As regards the parts of a woman which are required to be covered during prayer, they include her entire body including even her head and hair excluding the part of her face which is required to be washed for ablution and both her hands upto the forearms and both feet upto the ankles. It is obligatory to cover a little of the parts mentioned as excluded from being covered.

It is obligatory on a woman to cover her neck and the lower part of her chin including even that much of it as can be seen after wrapping the scarf (khimãr).

A slave girl and small girl are treated at par with a free and adult woman, except that it is not obligatory on them to cover their head, hair or neck.

It is not obligatory to cover the private parts from below. Of course, if one is standing at the corner of the roof or net where a person may possibly pass and have a look at the private parts in case he looks up, then, according to the more cautious, rather stronger opinion, one should cover the private parts from below too, even if presently there is no person looking there.

In case, however, there is a net under which no person is expected to look from under as a.net on a well, then, according to the stronger opinion, it is not obligatory (cover the private parts from below), except when there is a person looking in the net.

The hiding from sight may be obtained through any means which may hide a thing from sight, including even a hand, coating with mud or dipping in water. Even both the hips are sufficient to cover the anus.

The hiding of the (private parts) in prayer is not sufficient by means of the things mentioned above, even in case of an emergency.

As regards covering (the private parts) by means of leaves, grass, cotton, and unwoven wool, according to the stronger opinion, it is permissible generally, though caution must not be given up in case of the first two.

According to the stronger opinion, if a person finds nothing to (cover his private parts), even grass or leaves, it is permissible for him to offer prayer, though it is more cautious for a person who finds something to coat with to add to his own condition the condition of one who could find something (to cover his private parts). [2]

When a person offers the forgotten Sajdah or tashahhud, he should cover himself in the same manner as in prayers, and the recommended precaution is that he should also cover himself at the time of offering Sajda-e-Sahv.

If while offering prayers, a person does not cover his private parts intentionally, or on account of not having cared to know the rule, his prayers is void.

If a person realizes while offering prayers, that his private parts are visible, he must immediately cover them, and it is not necessary for him to repeat the prayers. As a measure of precaution, he should not continue performing any part of the prayers, as long as the private parts are visible. If he learns after the completion of prayers that his private parts were visible, his prayers would be deemed valid.

If the dress of a person covers his private parts while he stands, but it may not cover them in another posture like in Ruku or Sajdah, his namaz will be valid if he manages to conceal them by some other means. However, the recommended precaution is that he should not pray in such dress.[3]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answers:

Index: Philosophy of Hijab during prayer, answer 020.

Index: The best place for a woman to pray is at home or mosque, answer 015.

[1] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Rules of Namaz » Covering the body in prayers, Q: 796-797.

[2] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, Third Preliminary of Prayer: Permissible Garment of the Person Offering Prayer; Tawzih al-Masael of Maraja’ (annotated by Imam Khomeini), Vol. 1, Pgs. 441-445.

[3] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Rules of Namaz » Covering the body in prayers, Q: 798-801.

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How to Express Condolences in the Month of Muharram

Question 050: What are we supposed to say to each other during Muharram, it’s a time of mourning?

Answer 050: Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) was asked if we want to condole others in the month of Muharram, especially on the Day of Ashura, how and what do we say? The Imam replied, “Say: May Allah (SWT) increase our rewards of our mourning for Imam Hussain (as) and let us be one of the companions of Imam Mahdi (ajtf) to take our revenge against the killers of Imam Hussain (a.s)”.

(A’adhamallahu ujurana wa ujurakum bi musaabina bil Hussain alayhis salaam)

The Arabic Version is:
“عَظَّمَ اللَّهُ أُجُورَنَا بِمُصَابِنَا بِالْحُسَيْنِ ع وَ جَعَلَنَا وَ إِيَّاكُمْ مِنَ الطَّالِبِينَ بِثَأْرِهِ مَعَ وَلِيِّهِ الْإِمَامِ الْمَهْدِيِّ مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ ص”

It is noteworthy that sacred months which are known as Ḥarām months are Dhu al-Qidah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram-ul-haram and Rajab-al-Murajjab. The reason we say Muharram-ul-haram is because fighting in this month is forbidden.[1]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Qama Zani / How the Infallible Imams (pbuth) mourned for Imam Hussain (as), answer 507.

Index: Mourning for Imam Hussain (as) while you are grieving, answer 047.

Index: Lamentation: Normal mourning for Imam Hussain (as), answer 049.

[1] . Kamil Al-Ziyarat, al-Nass, Pg. 175; al-Misbah al-Kaf’ami (Jannatul Aman al-Waqiyah), Pg. 482; Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 14, Pg. 509, H 19709; Biharul Anwar, Vol. 98, chapter 24 (how to visit the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain on the Day of Ashura.); Mustadrak al-Wasael wa Mustanbit al-Masael, Vol. 10, Pg. 316, Chapter 49 (recommendation of crying over martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as)).

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Cheese and Walnuts / Eating cheese in the morning is Makruh

Question 593: Are there any hadith about not eating cheese or stating its negativities? Also, are there any hadiths or sayings from the 14 Infallibles about not eating bread and cheese in the morning? What about Cheese and Walnuts at night?

Answer 593: Regarding cheese, a person asked Imam Sadiq (as). He said: it is an ailment without remedy. The Person went to the Imam at the time of dinner and saw there is cheese at his table! The man asked: O Imam Sadiq (as), May I be the ransom! I asked about the cheese at the time of Chasht (forenoon) and you replied it is an untreated pain, now I see it at the table! The Imam said: it harms us if it is used for Chasht whereas it is useful at night.[1]

The hadith refers to eating cheese on its own. The recommendation is that it should be eaten with walnuts.

There is another hadith in which Imam Sadiq (as) says: Walnuts and Cheese each have remedy if they join together, if separated in each is an ailment.[2]

The Arabic version of this Hadith is as follows:

قَالَ أَلامام الصادق(ع): الْجُبُنُّ وَ الْجَوْزُ إِذَا اجْتَمَعَا فِي كُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا شِفَاءٌ وَ إِنِ افْتَرَقَا كَانَ فِي كُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا دَاءٌ

So, eating Cheese in the Morning is harmful, however if you have it with walnuts at night then it would be good and useful.

[1] . Kuleini, Kafi, Vol. 12, Pgs. 510-511, Qom, Dar al-Hadith, first edtion, 1429 A.H.

[2] . Ibid, Pg. 512.