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Symbol of the crescent moon in Islam

Question 182: The crescent with the moon and the star used by Muslims, what is the genesis of this symbol and when during the time of our noble Prophet (saws) did the Holy Prophet (saws) use this symbol on mosques?

Answer 182: The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years. Information on the origins of the symbol are difficult to ascertain, but most sources agree that these ancient celestial symbols were in use by the peoples of Central Asia and Siberia in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. There are also reports that the crescent moon and star were used to represent the Carthaginian goddess Tanit or the Greek goddess Diana.

The city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) adopted the crescent moon as its symbol.

According to some reports, they chose it in honor of the goddess Diana. Others indicate that it dates back to a battle in which the Romans defeated the Goths on the first day of a lunar month. In any event, the crescent moon was featured on the city’s flag even before the birth of Christ.

The early Muslim community did not really have a symbol. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes.

In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white, or green flag with no markings, writing, or symbolism on it.

It wasn’t until the Ottoman Empire that the crescent moon and star became affiliated with the Muslim world. When the Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, they adopted the city’s existing flag and symbol. Legend holds that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, had a dream in which the crescent moon stretched from one end of the earth to the other. Taking this as a good omen, he chose to keep the crescent and make it the symbol of his dynasty.

There is speculation that the five points on the star represent the five pillars of Islam, but this is pure conjecture. The five points were not standard on the Ottoman flags, and as you will see on the following page, it is still not standard on flags used in the Muslim world today.

For hundreds of years, the Ottoman Empire ruled over the Muslim world. After centuries of battle with Christian Europe, it is understandable how the symbols of this empire became linked in people’s minds with the faith of Islam as a whole.

Based on this history, many Muslims reject using the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam. The faith of Islam has historically had no symbol, and many refuse to accept what is essentially an ancient pagan icon. It is certainly not in uniform use among Muslims.

Related Link: Facebook.

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The difference between Mumin and Muslim

Question 506: Salaamun Alaikum. What is the difference between MOMIN and MUSLIM? Jazak’Allah Khayr.

Brief Answer 506: Muslim: According to the Quran a Muslim is one who has absolutely surrendered to Allah and his commands and believes in pure Tawhid (the oneness of God) that isn’t tainted with any Shirk and this is why the Almighty has introduced Prophet Abraham as a true Muslim in the Quran.

According to the Quran the true religion is Islam (surrender) (ان الدین عندالله الاسلام) and therefore all who have accepted religions of their time and have obeyed it’s commands are considered Muslims.

Momin: The Believers are that group of people who acknowledge the existence of God and surrender to Him, and who believe in His Prophets and follow their footsteps.

It is important to acknowledge that believing in the Wilayat of the Prophet’s family, according to the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Holy Prophet is counted as one of the pillars of Imaan (Faith), and this quality is found in no other sect than the Shias. Also, with the emphasis regarding the deliverance of the Shias as being the rightful ones, and by comparing the thoughts and beliefs of the Shias, with the Holy Quran it becomes obvious that the verses of the Quran which talk about the “Believers” refer to none other than the Shias.

Detailed Answer 506:  In order to understand the meaning of “Muslim” in the Quran it is necessary to understand the meaning of “Islam”.

The word “Islam” is an infinitive with the root letters of “س ل م”, the root letters mean healthy and devoid of an defects and corruption, but the infinitive means surrendering and obeying one’s commands with no opposition. [1]

The Quran has used the term in its broad sense as well: “All of those who are in the heavens and the earth or all of the creatures in the heavens and the earth are Muslims and have (willingly or unwillingly) submitted to Allah’s  generative (takwini) or legislative (tashri’i) will.”[2]

In the Quran, not only those who were among the companions of prophet Mohammad are considered Muslims, but rather all people throughout history who have surrendered and submitted to Allah and rejected paganism are Muslims and this is why the Quran introduces Prophet Abraham as a Muslim even though he lived before prophet Mohammad.[3]

It can be understood from verse 85 of Surah Ale Imran (Whosoever chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him) and verse 3 from Surah Al Ma’edah (Today I have perfected your religion and am happy with Islam as your religion) that Muslims are only those who follow the religion of the prophet (pbuh), because by choosing Islam as their religion and believing in all previous prophets and divine religions, they have proven their submission to Allah (swt).  According to this definition, today people of other religions are not Muslims because they have not surrendered to Allah by accepting the new religion that was revealed to the seal of prophets.

The verse commands the prophet to tell them to say that they have become Muslims and not Mu’mins. Of course, although practicing does not change the fact that one is Muslim or not, but to be a true Muslim not only should one believe in Islam but he must also act according to his belief and the teachings and laws of his religion, let those laws be social ones such as haqqul-nas or personal ones such as prayer and fasting.

Mu’min, or Believer, is derived from the word “Amn”, which means to testify, to believe, and have humility and tranquility of the soul.(4)[4] Therefore, the word Mu’min is used to describe the acknowledgers.

The term “Believers” refers to those who acknowledge the existence of the Almighty, surrender to Him and are humble and obedient towards Him. They acknowledge and accept the prophethood of all of the divine prophets and their message. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has said: “Belief is understanding in your heart, saying with your tongue, and acting with your body.[5]

Some of the signs of a Believer that are mentioned in the Holy Quran are:

  1. Prayers and recognizing its importance.
  2. Giving Zakat, and donating to charity in the way of Allah.
  3. Relying and placing complete trust in Allah.
  4. Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.
  5. Staying away from frivolous and idle acts.
  6. Maintaining chastity and virtue.
  7. Obeying Allah and the Prophet.
  8. Obedience towards them.[6]

The signs of a believer as described in the Quran are not limited to the signs that were mentioned. In fact, the true Believers are those who surrender totally to the orders and command of Allah and the Prophet.[7]

One of the pillars of Imaan(Faith) is the belief in the Authority of the Ahlul-Bait. What it is understood from the Quran, the Holy Prophet and his family is that being obedient towards the Prophet’s family plays an essential role in the concept of faith, and if a person does not lead his life according to their teachings, his Beliefs are incomplete.

As an example, here are a few traditions and verses of the Quran which we will mention:

  1. The verse of “Tableegh” says: “O Apostle! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people.”[8]
  2. The verse of “Wilayat”: “Only Allah is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and give Zakat to the poor while they bow.”[9]

Sunni books of Tafsir and Narrations state that this verse was revealed with regards to the status and position of Imam Ali (a.s).[10]

Therefore, if a person does not believe in the Wilayat of Imam Ali (a.s), he has not accepted one of the most important and essential part of Allah’s Commands; so how can he be classified as a Believer? In this verse, the Wilayat of Imam Ali has been mentioned, alongside the Wilayat of Allah and the Wilayat of His Prophet, and we know that the accepting the Wilayat of God and His Messenger are the bases of Imaan (Faith), which means the Wilayat of Imam Ali, is an essential pillar of faith as well. There are several other verses as well, but for the sake of brevity these two will suffice.

According to Imam Baqir (as), Faith is something which is existed in our heart that connect us to Allah, the Almighty. By submission to Allah (SWT) we would be able to prove our faith in action. Islam is related to our words and deeds.[11]

We can conclude that every Mumin is a Muslim, but it is not true to say that every Muslim who doesn’t believe in the Wilayat of the holy Prophet’s family can be a real Mumin. This means that everyone can be a Muslim by testifying that there is no God but Allah, the Almighty and the holy Prophet (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah (SWT), however if one, in addition to the previous conditions of being a Muslim, doesn’t believe in the holy Quran and Ahlul Bayt (pbuth) and Wilayat of Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) he is not considered as real believer.

From all of the aforesaid, it is obvious and clear that the only group of Muslims which is completely in coordination with the teachings of the Holy Quran, and the beliefs, actions and morals synchronized with it, are the Shias, who, by obeying and following the Prophet’s progeny have been able to understand the proper meanings of the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet, and have protected themselves from the darkness of the wrong path.

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

Index: Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim, answer 527.

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.

Index: Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought, answer 111.

Index: Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran, answer 230.

Index: Islam and Democracy / Khilafat is Appointed by Allah’s order, answer 592.

Index: The Wilayah of Imam Ali (as) / Political Authority in Ghadir Khumm, answer 470.

Related Link: Glossary 506.

[1]Al-Nokat wal-Uyun, (Tafsir Maverdi), vol1, p 379-380

[2] Tafsir Nemooneh, vol2, p 643

[3] Ale Imran:67.

[4] Ma’jam Muqais al Lughah, Aqrab Almawaarid, Farhange Jami’, term: “Amn”.

[5] Kanzul Amaal, pg 95.

[6] Anfaal, ayah 2-4; Taubah ayah 71; Muminoon ayah 1-11.

[7] Nisaa, ayah 65 and 150.

[8] Maidah ayah 67.

[9] Maidah ayah 55

[10] Waahidi dar Asbaabe Nuzool, pg 133; Zamkhishri dar Kishaaf, Vol 1, pg 649; Abu Bakr Jisaas in Quranic Laws, Vol 2, pg 446

[11] . Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 26.

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Spiritual and Material Beauty and the Light of Faith

Question 245: There are hadith that state that you can recognize a mumin by characteristics of his face. Are these physical characteristics or more of the metaphysical realm that only one on the same level could recognize? I have heard that praying fajr prayer on time causes a light/glow to emit from one’s face. Is this referring to the energetic attraction we feel towards others as their spirit uplifts ours?

Answer 245: According to Islam, beauty is divided into two divisions: Spiritual and material. Getting the spiritual beauty has been more emphasized by Islam, though the material beauty has also been recommended.

An important thing that should be taken into consideration is that the spiritual beauty can be accessible by spiritual affairs like prayers and the material beauty would be available by some material affairs.

The following are some recommendations our Infallibles (pbuth) have suggested us to observe:

– Imam Ali (as) has said, “The beauty of a man can be seen in his patience, because, the patience gives our soul tranquility by which our ethics and behavior would become beautiful and brilliant if it is faced with afflictions and difficulties.”[1]

– Imam Ali (as) has said, “The beauty of a believer is his\her self-restraint, virtue and piety.”[2]

– The Holy Prophet of Islam (saws) has said, “Whomever offers Salatul Tahajjod, his\her face would become brilliant in the day.”[3]

– Imam Ali (as) has said, “Night prayer (salatul tahajjod) makes the face brilliant.”[4]

– Imam Sadiq (as) has said, “The night prayer can make our face look bright.”[5]

– Imam Sadiq (as) has said, “The repetition of performing wudu, upon the last wudu is like the light (noor) upon light.”[6]

– Imam Ali (as) has said, “If you sleep less at night and worship Allah (swt) the Almighty during the night, your face would become brilliant.”[7]

– The Imam (as) has also said, “The believers brilliant face is because of the kindness that Allah (swt) has given him. If you seek Allahs (swt) goodness, you have to worship Him by doing the righteous deeds and avoiding forbidden acts.”[8]

Note: The Holy Qur’an says, “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light to whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is knowing of all things.”[9]

There is a special light that Allah (swt) gives believers in order to become brilliant if they do the righteous deeds. This light is the light of knowledge. The method in which we can get such divine light, is to do what Allah (swt), the Almighty bids us and avoid of what Allah (swt) forbids us.[10]

When Muslims want to describe the spiritual characteristics of a believer, they say we see the light of faith in his face. According to this definition, it doesn’t matter which color your skin is, if you are white or black, red or yellow, if you act based on the above recommendations, your face would get the light of faith.

This is not physical light that we can see easily. This is the light of knowledge that anyone with any skin color can have, if given by Allah (swt), the Almighty. Anyone, even those who have the lowest level of faith, can recognize it.

As you know, Hazrat Adam and the Holy Prophet (pbuth) had tawny skin. Luqman Hakeem from Ethiopia was a black man and Imam Jawad (as) had dark-colored skin, however all people became captivated when they saw them. It’s because of the light of faith.

Let’s mention some recommendations of Practical Irfan that Imam Ali (as) has suggested us to observe:

– Imam Ali (as) explained the concept of spiritual wayfaring with such words, “The true arif is the one who has enlivened his intellect and who has mortified his desires, till the point where his coarseness has become broken and his severity has been softened. A luminous light is lit for him which illuminates the path towards God for him and under its guidance he goes forward…”[11]

– Imam Ali (as) has also said, “O’ creatures of Allah! The most of Allah is he whom Allah has given power (to act) against his passions, so that his inner side is (submerged in) grief and the outer side is covered with fear. The lamp of guidance is burning in his heart. He has provided provisions for the day that is to befall him.”[12]

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

Index: The night prayer or Salat al-Layl (Tahajjud, Night Prayer), answer 234.

Index: Whoever knows himself knows his Lord / Man Arafa Nafsahu, Faqad Arafa Rabbahu, answer 274.

Index: Making Wudu when you are going to bed, answer 032.

[1] . Tamimi Amedi, Abdul Wahed bin Muhammad, Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 285, H. 6392, office of Tablighat publication, Qom, 1987.

[2] . Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 269, Hadith 5862.

[3] . Toosi, Abu Jafar, Muhammad bin Hasan, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, Vol. 2, Pg. 119, Hadith 217, Darel Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, fourth edition, 1407 A.H. «مَنْ صَلَّى بِاللَّيْلِ حَسُنَ وَجْهُهُ بِالنَّهَارِ».

[4] . Shaeeri, Tajuddeen, Jame’ al-Akhbar, Pg. 72, Radhi Publication, Qom, 1984.

[5] . Hurr Ameli, Muhammad bin Hasan, Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 8, Pgs. 151 – 152, Hadith 10278.

[6] . Ibn Babawayh, Muhammad bin Ali, Man la Yahdhuruhul Faqih, Vol. 1, Pg. 41, Office of Islamic Publication, Qom, second edition, 1413 A.H.

[7] . Mustadrak al-Wasael, Vol. 6, Pg. 340.

[8] . Ghurarul Hikam, Pg. 346.

[9] . Surah Noor, verse 35.

[10] . Tafseer al-Mizan, Vol. 15, Pg. 168.

[11] . Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 210.

[12] . Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 86.

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Meaning of Jihad in Islam and the holy Quran

Question 296: I want to ask what’s the actually meaning of Jihad? Give me references too.

Answer 296: Jihad means to strive or struggle. It is divided into two divisions: Jihad Akbar (major) and Jihad Asghar (miner). Jihad Asghar means to confront and strive hard against unbelievers and hypocrites whom they are Islam’s enemies.[1]

Jihad Akbar means to strive hard only for our own soul and purify our soul from sin (i.e. the soul that forces us to commit sin. This kind of soul is called Nafs Ammarah). We don’t have to despair of the mercy of Allah and withhold our soul and bear patiently that which befalls us.[2]

According to the Holy Quran, Jihad means to strive and endure difficulties and hardships, however the higher level of Jihad is for those who strive hard with their property and their persons in the way of Allah, the Almighty.[3]

Some say it is divided into some divisions as follows:

  1. Jihad in general: “Allah shall grant to the strivers above the holders back a mighty reward”[4]
  2. Jihad in the way of Allah: “Surely those who believed and those who fled (their home) and strove hard in the Way of Allah, these hope for the mercy of Allah And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”[5] Also, “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways And Allah is most surely with the doers of good”
  3. Higher Jihad: “And strive hard in (the way of) Allah”.[6]
  4. According to practical mysticism, Jihad means to persuade ourselves to endure hardships and difficulties which are the cause of effectiveness on health and create bodily exhaustion.[7]
  5. Jihad for soul in the way Allah’s orders: the Holy Prophet (pbuh) has said: Striver is one who strives hard for his own soul in the way of Allah.[8]
  6. Striving for providing livelihood. Striving for providing livelihood is one of the most important tasks and struggles as it is narrated: Whomever strive for providing livelihood for his own family is like one who strive in the way of Allah.[9]

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

Index: Whoever knows himself knows his Lord / Man Arafa Nafsahu, Faqad Arafa Rabbahu, answer 274.

[1] . Surah Tahrim, verse 9; Surah Tawbah, verse 73.

[2] . Surah, Ankabout, verse 6.

[3] . Surah Baqarah, verse 218

[4] . Surah Nisa, verse 95.

[5] . Surah Baqarah, verse 218.

[6] . Surah Hajj, verse 78.

[7] . Ibn Arabi, Al-Fotouhat al-Makiyyah, Vol. 2, Pg. 132, Dar e Sader, Beirut.

[8] . Nahj al-Fasahah, Pg. 778, Donyae Danish Publication.

[9] . Sadr al-Din Shirazi, Shrhe Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, Pg. 433.

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Prophet Noah cursed Blacks / The Story of Noah’s Sons

Question 198: Question: What does Islam say about blacks? What is their position among people seeing as they bear the azab of their progenitor Ham?

Answer 198: In book Elalul Sharaye’a, the story of Noah’s sons are mentioned as follows:

One day the Prophet Noah (as) fell asleep in his ship. A wind was blowing and pushed aside his clothes. His private parts became exposed. Ham and Japheth were laughing at him, but Shem forbid them from laughing at their father. Shem covered his fathers private parts, but they pushed the cloth aside again. Suddenly, Noah (as) woke up and saw what happened. He asked, “Why are you are laughing?” Shem replied to his father, the story!

Noah raised his hands and said, “O Allah, change the loins of Ham, and Japheth” and Allah (swt) changed it. This is why why all black people come from Ham’s generation; all Turkish people and Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (Gog and Magog) come from Japheth’s generation; and all white skinned people come from Shem’s generation. “O Allah, set the children of Ham and Japheth as slave’s for the children of Shem, until the Day of Judgment”.[1]

The Arabic version of this narration is as follows:

عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْكُوفِيُّ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا سَهْلُ بْنُ زِيَادٍ الْآدَمِيُّ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَظِيمِ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْحَسَنِيُّ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ عَلِيَّ بْنَ مُحَمَّدٍ الْعَسْكَرِيَّ ع يَقُولُ عَاشَ نُوحٌ ع أَلْفَيْنِ وَ خَمْسَمِائَةِ سَنَةٍ وَ كَانَ يَوْماً فِي السَّفِينَةِ نَائِماً فَهَبَّتْ رِيحٌ فَكَشَفَتْ عَنْ عَوْرَتِهِ فَضَحِكَ حَامٌ وَ يَافِثُ فَزَجَرَهُمَا سَامٌ ع وَ نَهَاهُمَا عَنِ الضَّحِكِ وَ كَانَ كُلَّمَا غَطَّى سَامٌ شَيْئاً تَكْشِفُهُ الرِّيحُ كَشَفَهُ حَامٌ وَ يَافِثُ فَانْتَبَهَ نُوحٌ ع فَرَآهُمْ وَ هُمْ يَضْحَكُونَ فَقَالَ مَا هَذَا فَأَخْبَرَهُ سَامٌ بِمَا كَانَ فَرَفَعَ نُوحٌ ع يَدَهُ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ يَدْعُو وَ يَقُولُ اللَّهُمَّ غَيِّرْ مَاءَ صُلْبِ حَامٍ حَتَّى لَا يُولَدَ لَهُ إِلَّا سُودَانٌ اللَّهُمَّ غَيِّرْ مَاءَ صُلْبِ يَافِثَ فَغَيَّرَ اللَّهُ مَاءَ صُلْبِهِمَا فَجَمِيعُ السُّودَانِ حَيْثُ كَانُوا مِنْ حَامٍ وَ جَمِيعُ التُّرْكِ وَ السَّقَالِبَةِ وَ يَأْجُوجَ وَ مَأْجُوجَ وَ الصِّينِ مِنْ يَافِثَ حَيْثُ كَانُوا وَ جَمِيعُ الْبِيضِ سِوَاهُمْ مِنْ سَامٍ وَ قَالَ نُوحٌ ع لِحَامٍ وَ يَافِثَ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ ذُرِّيَّتَكُمَا خَوَلًا لِذُرِّيَةِ سَامٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لِأَنَّهُ بَرَّ بِي وَ عَقَقْتُمَانِي فَلَا زَالَتْ سِمَةُ عُقُوقِكُمَا لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِكُمَا ظَاهِرَةً وَ سِمَةُ الْبِرِّ بِي فِي ذُرِّيَّةِ سَامٍ ظَاهِرَةً مَا بَقِيَتِ الدُّنْيَا

It is also said that since the Noah’s Deluge happened in the month Dhil Hijjah and the Ark reached Bayt al-Haram (the temple of Mecca), Noah (as) recommended the people of the Ark not to have intercourse with their wives during this time. He then cursed those who disobeyed and said that Allah changed their loins. Therefore, when Ham did so his loin had been changed.[2]

According to Tabari, Ham had a happy ending, because, the Prophet Noah (as) had mercy on him and prayed for him, that his generations will get affection from their brothers.[3]

Accordingly, a question that may now arise is, “Is it mentioned in the holy Quran that white people are better than yellow, red, brown and black colored races?”

A: The verse mentioned above does not say that white people are better than other races, actually it has nothing to do with the abovementioned issue, the words used in the verse may seem to relate to races but they have a meaning other than being black and white. In Arabic people who reach salvation and prosperity are called “white faced people” and those who do not are called “dark/black faced people”, these sorts of expressions and other similar ones such as “a dark heart” or “the night was pitch black” that have nothing to do with races are not only found in Arabic, but in other languages as well.

In respect to the hadith cited above, aside from the fact that some parts of it aren’t in conformity with Islamic teachings, and its chain of narrators isn’t a decent one, making its authenticity disputable, we must pay attention to the fact that although youth, health and beauty aren’t of Islam does not deny that white skin is more beautiful and attractive, but it denies the notion that being white is a spiritual advantage and value; therefore it makes complete sense for black people to turn white when entering heaven. Add to above that this hadith is not considered authentic.

Actually, there are many verses in the Quran which clearly explain that despite the differences that are found among humans, they are all from the same root and nothing will make one more valuable or respectful other than his righteousness and piety, let it be physical features, family ties or gender, some of these verses are as follows:

1- “O mankind! Indeed we created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you.”[4]

2- “O mankind! Be wary of your Lord who created you from a single soul, and created its mate from it, and, from the two of them, scattered numerous men and women. Be wary of Allah, in whose Name you adjure one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is watchful over you”[5]

The Arabic version of this verse:

“يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ واحِدَةٍ وَ خَلَقَ مِنْها زَوْجَها وَ بَثَّ مِنْهُما رِجالاً كَثيراً وَ نِساء ”

3- “It is He who created you from a single soul”[6]

The Arabic version of this verse:

” وَ هُوَ الَّذی أَنْشَأَکُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ واحِدَة”

Imam Ali would equally pay people their share which was three “dinars” from the “Beitulmal” (the treasury). A man from the Ansar came to him and received his three dinars and then a black person came and received the same amount of money.

The man from the Ansar was surprised and protestingly said: “Up until yesterday this black man was my servant, does it make sense for me to get as much money as he does?!” The Imam replied that the argument had no reasoning and that none of the two was higher than the other.”[7]

In a similar story the Imam faced his brother “Aqil” that said: “Do you think my share equals the share of a black man?!” The Imam strongly denied such a notion and replied: “It is only if you are more righteous and have done more for Islam that will make you more respectful and valuable, otherwise you are completely equal to him.”[8]

According to Tabari, Ham had a happy ending, because, the Prophet Noah (as) had mercy on him and prayed for him, that his generations will get affection from their brothers.[9]

Also, all mankind are the same as each other. There is no superiority. They are equal to each other in worshiping Allah (swt) the Almighty, as Allah, the Almighty says: “Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty) Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware”. [10]

The Arabic version of this holy verse:

“يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْناكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَ أُنْثى وَ جَعَلْناكُمْ شُعُوباً وَ قَبائِلَ لِتَعارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقاكُم”

In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (swt) has never used the words, O White people! Instead, Allah (swt) has always said, “O mankind! Worship your Lord, who created you and those who were before you, so that you may be God wary.” [11]

Although, the hadith mentioned in Alalul Saraye’a is considered as Sahih in its chain of narration, but it is also said that Ham had a happy ending, because, the Prophet Noah (as) had mercy on him and prayed for him, that his generations will get affection from their brothers. [12]

Therefore, according to the previous mentioned verses of the holy Quran and Ahadith narrated from Infallibles (pbuth) and according to Tabari that Ham had a happy ending we can come to this conclusion that all mankind are the same as each other. And there is no superiority. They are equal to each other in worshiping Allah (swt) the Almighty, as He (SWT) says: “Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty) Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware”. [13]

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/598502863634358/

Related Link: Facebook.

[1] . Elalul Sharaye’a, Vol. 1, Pg. 32.

[2] . Abu Hisham, Book al-Tijan fee Muluk Hamir, Vol. 1, Pg. 34, San’a, 1979;  Tabari, Tarikh (History), Bierut, Vol. 1, Pg. 188;  Abul Fat’h Razi, Rawz al-Jinan wa Rooh al-Jinan fee tafsir al-Quran, Vol. 10, Pg. 270, Muhammad Jaafar Yahaqi, and Muhammad Mahdi Naseh, Mashhad;  Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayat wa al-Nihayat, Vol. 1, Pg. 116, Beirut, 1190 / 1411 A.H.

[3] . Tabari, Masoodi, Beirut, Vol. 1, Pg. 204. Tabari’s name is Muhammad bin Jarir ibn Yazid ibn Kathir bin Ghalib, although he appeared to be Sunni due to Taqiyah and the condition that was obtained there, however he was a follower of the School of Ahlul Bayt (pbuth) and loved them. For more information, please refer to: Rawzatul Jannat; Shahabi, Ali Akbar, Tehran, Tehran University, Publisher Institution, Third edition.

[4] . Surah al-Hojorat, verse 13.

[5] . Surah Nisa, verse 1.

[6] . Surah An’am, verse 98.

[7] . Muhammad ibn Yaqub Kuleini¸ Kafi, vol. 8, pg. 69, hadith 26.

[8] . Ibid, vol. 8, pg. 182, hadith 204.

[9] . Tabari, Masoodi, Beirut, Vol. 1, Pg. 204. For more information, please refer to: Rawzatul Jannat; Shahabi, Ali Akbar, Tehran, Tehran University, Publisher Institution, Third edition.

[10] . Surah al-Hojorat, verse 13.

[11] . Surah Baqarah, verse 21.

[12] . Tabari, Masoodi, Beirut, Vol. 1, Pg. 204.

[13] . Surah al-Hojorat, verse 13.

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Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din in Islam

Question 223: Dear Shaykh, would you know when in time the five usul al-din were formalized? When I read the ahadith of the Imams on beliefs or read the reports where the disciples of the Imams discuss or ask the Imams for the constituents of sound belief or present their beliefs to the Imams, I have yet to see a neat five-fold categorization!

Then, I wonder when and how the furu’ al-din became ten in number?! The furu’ al-din refers to the acts – fiqh which are so many in number!

I wonder what happened! I’ll be very grateful for any suggestions. Thank you!

Answer 223: Usul al-Din (Principles of Religion) is a theological term and the set of beliefs that formalize the basis of Islamic religion, and by believing in them we are considered as Muslim, according to scholars. Read More

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Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran

Question 230: Should pillars of Islam be evidently apparent in the scripture or hidden? If apparent, then why is the Imamah pillar explained in form of ‘batin’ zone? Can you prove this from Prophetic sayings and create a base that is sensible? I have not yet received a proper answer for this.

Answer 230: Although, there hasn’t been clearly mentioned the names of Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din in the Holy Quran and Traditions, but there are many verses of the Holy Quran and traditions in which we can find out the pillars of Islam as follows:

Surah al-Hamd: This Surah includes the three pillars of Islam:

1) Tawhid (Testifying that there is no god but Allah):  Verse 1: “All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds”. This verse of Surah al-Hamd indicates the Dhati (Essence), Sifati (Attributes) and Af’ali (Action) Tawhid.  Verse 5: “Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help”. This verse indicates the Tawhid in Ebadat (monotheism in worship) and Af’ali.

2) Nubuwwat: Verses 6 and 7: “Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors”. According to the holy Quran itself, the real meaning of the word (an­’am­ta  ‘alay­him) is the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good.[1]

3) Resurrection:  Verse 4: “Master of the Day of Judgment”. This verse indicates the third pillar of Islam called Ma’ad (Resurrection).

Note: There are other verses in which the three pillars of Islam are mentioned as the criterion of faith as follows:

Baqarah, verse 4:  “And who believe in that which has been revealed to you and that which was revealed before you and they are sure of the hereafter”.

Yousef, verse 37: “He said: there shall not come to you the food with which you are fed, but I will inform you both of its interpretation before it comes to you This is of what my Lord has taught me Surely I have forsaken the religion of a people who do not believe in Allah, and they are deniers of the hereafter”

Nahl, verse 22:  “Your God is One God So) as for (those who do not believe in the hereafter, their hearts are ignorant and they are proud”.

Nisa, verses 150 and 151: “Surely those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His messengers and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others; and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers And We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement. And those who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not make a distinction between any of them Allah will grant them their rewards And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”

The Quran mainly addresses issues, especially ahkam, from a general perspective, leaving the specifics to the Prophet (sa) and his successors, the true interpreters (as); such as prayer, fasting, zakat, hajj etc…Imamate is also one of these issues which have been generally reflected.

The sha’n nuzul (the circumstances of revelation) of numerous verses in the Quran, such as Ayah of Tabligh[2], Ayah of Wilayah[3], Ayah of Ulul Amr[4], Ayah of Sadeqeen[5] revolve around the issue of Imamate.

It is necessary to mention that Allameh Hilli (ra) has written a book titled Alfain[6], that consists of a thousand reasons in favor of the Imamate of Imam Ali (as) and a thousand answers to the objections made against his Imamate, among which a great number of these reasons are from the Quran and can be referred to if needed.

Also, the eighth section of the seventh volume of Bihar al- Anwar of Imamate has listed the ayahs revealed regarding Imamate under the title “Ayahs regarding revealed about the Imams (as)”.[7]

How to understand the meaning of the verses of the holy Quran:  The majority of the verses of the Quran were revealed for the understanding of the general masses.  From this perspective, the understanding that the masses have from the literal and apparent meaning of the Quranic verses are a proof and it is for this same reason that the ‘Usulis’ believe in the external meaning of the verses.

Of course there are also select verses in the Quran whose understanding and the helping of others to understand was the responsibility of the Prophet (s) and the ‘Rasikhoon Fil Ilm’ (those deeply endowed with knowledge). Without this group’s assistance and help, the understanding of these verses would have been impossible to attain.

In the Quran there are verses with meanings of general and specific, absolute and particular, abrogated and abrogating; in order to understand the Quran it is necessary to have a comprehensive knowledge of all Quranic verses to prevent mistakenly ruling according to the absolute without considering the other verses that might narrow its scope.

There are some sciences, which although they don’t have a direct connection with interpretation of the Holy Quran, have a prerequisitational relationship. Without understanding these sciences it is not possible to interpret and analyze the verses of the Quran. Examples of these sciences are ‘Sarf and Nahw’, Ma’aani and Bayan’, and ‘Luqat’. The commentator must have mastery over all of the sciences which relate to the understanding of the Holy Quran.

Considering the above mentioned reasons, we can figure it out why the five pillars of Islam have not clearly mentioned in the holy Quran, but many verses of it prove them, completely.

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

Index: Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din, answer 223.

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/608324169318894/)

Index: Shia View of the Mutazilah and Wasil ibn Ata, answer 095.

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/550397965111515/)

[1] . Surah al-Nisa, verse 69.

[2] . Surah Maeda, verse 67.

[3] . Surah Maeda, verse 55.

[4] . Surah Nisa, verse 59.

[5] . Surah Tobeh, 119.

[6] . Hilli, Hasan bin Yusuf, Al-Alfain, Dar al-Hijrah, Qom, 1409 (AH).

[7] . Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, (the section on imamate, Farsi translation of the seventh volume), Khosravi, Musa, publisher: Islamiyyah.

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Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim

Question 527: Do I have to cut my hair to become Muslim? What are the conditions for one to become a Muslim?

Brief Answer 527:  The first degree, which is referred to as “Islam”, can be reached when one says the shahadatain (the two statements of “There is no God but Allah” and “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah), admitting to its meaning, resulting in that person officially becoming Muslim.  His/her body will be pure (no longer najis) and so will the bodies of his children, marriage with other Muslims will become permissible for him and he/she can have transactions with other Muslims, his/her wealth, life and honor will all be respected etc.  Of course, saying the shahadatain and admitting to its meaning necessitates acting and practicing Islam (e.g. performing the wajib acts such as prayer, fasting, Hajj, Khums and Zakat, and believing in the angels, the hereafter, paradise and Hell and accepting all of the divine prophets as messengers of Allah (swt)), which is the next level of faith which is higher than just plain “Islam” and being Muslim.

Therefore, there is no need to cut your hair in order to become a Muslim.

Answer 527: “Islam” literally means submission and obedience.  This term refers to the religion brought by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Allah (swt) as the final divine religion to come, which is a universal and eternal one (meaning that no other religion will come after it that abrogates it until the day of judgment). Read More

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Principles of peace and Jihad / Suicidal Attacks

Question 591: What are actual principals of Jihad and seeing that Muslim world is under attack by the West, in such conditions can we allow or justify suicidal attacks?

Answer 591: Of course, all people are born with freedom of choice; some choose to be oppressors and tyrants, causing corruption, therefore it is necessary for a complete religion to have a solution and specific instructions and guidelines for confronting these obstacles that are preventing the guidance of humanity.

Sometimes, oppression and aggression reaches the point that the only thing left to do is self-defense and the usage of force, and that is why Islam has legislated jihad.

In other words, the Quran teaches us to be tough and aggressive with those who don’t follow logic and purposely prevent the prophet’s words from spreading and don’t allow others to be guided because of their enmity towards the truth.  The Quran says: “Oh Prophet! Fight hard against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be harsh with them…”[1].  “The Muslim nation and Muslims must cause fear and intimidation in the hearts of their enemies, so that they don’t even think about invasion, treachery, and harming the Muslims.”[2]

Of course, Islam’s instructions on military alertness and the protection of the country’s borders[3]  (which is another form of Islam’s emphasis on keeping peace and friendship and settlement) and its call on jihad for the sake of Allah (which in reality is one of the most important forms of Islamic worship and is the manifestation of true love to God and human fellowship, and is the opposition of corruption and impurity) completely differ from bloodshed, tyranny, panic, war and violence.

Concerning the importance of jihad, Allah (s.w.t.) says: “And do Jihad in (the way of) Allah, (such) a Jihad as is due to him…”[4]

Since jihad hasn’t been legislated for conquest and the expansion of one’s power, one can easily conclude that jihad is a way of freedom and self-defense and not a way of violence.  Therefore, if the objectives of jihad are reachable in a peaceful manner, using force and military methods are forbidden.  This is also the reason behind why it is wajib to invite the disbelievers to Islam before going to battle with them if a battle ever wants to begin (this shows that what is important for Islam is for the truth to be heard, not fighting and violence, or else, such a thing wouldn’t be wajib).

Therefore, Allah has made jihad wajib for the defeating of tyrants, the freedom of the oppressed and helpless, and in order to get the grounds ready for those who have been kept in ignorance and unawareness regarding divine teachings and how to prosper in this world and the next, to be able to learn about these things and become familiar with them.[5]

Allamah Tabataba’i says in rejection of Islam being pro-war and after violence, and pertaining to the reality and the reasoning behind jihad: “The whole purpose of jihad is the establishment of Islam and for the word of Allah to rise, therefore jihad is a type of worship that needs to be done with the intention of seeking nearness to Allah (because one of the conditions of something being worship is for it to be done with the intention of seeking nearness to Allah).  Jihad hasn’t become wajib in order to take over others’ property and households, it has become wajib for the defending of human rights.  Originally, defense has limits, while transgression is breaking the limits.  Because of this, the end of the verse says: “لا تعتدوا ان الله لا یحب المعتدین[6]; Do not exceed the limits, for verily Allah does not like the transgressors.”[7]

Therefore, not only isn’t true Islam a religion of transgression, dispute, war and violence, but its instructions and rulings (in which one of them is jihad) have all been legislated for the purpose of helping mankind and for spreading peace and security as a result of godly ruling and the rejection of the ruling of taghut (Evil) and fighting against oppression and injustice.  In short, jihad is a fair and holy war for reaching high godly goals.[8]

Thus, maintaining peace with enemies and those thinking of kufr, depends on them keeping the respect of the believers and also depends on the believers not losing their strength and might due to keeping peace with them.  When sending Malek-al-Ashtar to Egypt to be in charge and run it, Imam Ali (a.s.) says: “If your enemy invites you to a Peace Treaty that will be agreeable to Allah, then never refuse to accept such an offer because peace will bring rest and comfort to your armies, will relieve you of anxieties and worries, and will bring prosperity and affluence to your people. But even after such treaties be very careful of the enemies and do not place too much confidence in their promises because they often resort to peace treaties to deceive and delude you and take advantage of your negligence, carelessness and trust [9].” [10]

On the other hand, the Quran says among believers, peace is the only way, and Islam calls upon brotherhood and reconciliation by asking the believers to have forgiveness, kindness and affection.[11]

Suicide Operations: Such operations that are referred to as ‘suicide operations’ or \ operations have no place in the Shia culture and aren’t permissible per se. Nevertheless, if the precious religion of Islam is ever threatened by a great threat, and there is no other choice to relieve it of these threats, such that the protection of Islam solely lies in such operations, it will become a kifa’i wajib act (meaning that it is wajib upon all Muslims, unless the needed number of people take care of the task) with the permission of the Hakem Shar’, given that innocent lives aren’t lost in the process.

Fatawa of our maraja’ are as follows:

Ayatollah Khamenei: It is impermissible.

Ayatollah Sistani: Ayatollah Sistani hasn’t issued such a ruling till now and such a thing can’t be found in the Shia culture.

Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani: If the only way to protect Islam is through such operations, it is a kifa’i wajib. Nevertheless, the term shahid covers more than just those shahids who don’t need to be given ghusl and shrouded [such shahids who have lost their life via suicide operations still need ghusl and the shroud, but still are shahids].

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: Suicide operations are impermissible, except for when a danger threatens Islam and there is no way to protect it except through suicide operation; in such a case it is permissible but with the permission of the Hakem Shar’.[12]

[1]  Tahrim: 9.

[2] Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, Porseshha va Pasokhha Darbareye Nezame Siyasiye Islam (Questions and Answers on the Political Structure of Islam), pg. 233.

[3] واعدوا لهم ما استطعتم من قوة …  Anfal: 60

[4]  Hajj: 78.

[5]Ma’refat” Magazine, no. 102, article “Goals and Wind in Islam”, Hamza Ali and Hadifesh.

[6] Baqarah: 190.

[7] Allamah Mohammad Hussein Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan, Al-A’lami Press, Beirut, v.10, pg. 63.

[8] For further information, see: Morteza Motahhari, Jihad va Mavarede Mashroo’iyyate an dar Quran.

[9] Nahjul-Balagha, letter 53.

[10] Hossein Eskandari, Ayehaye Zendegi (The Signs of Life), v.1, pg.300.

[11] Hujurat: 9-10.

[12] . Adopted from answer 2907 and 772 IQ.

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Good behavior? Refraining from a bad suspicion

Question 580: Assalam o Alaikum, my question is y psychologists cannot behave normal in their own life? My own sister in law is a clinical psychologist and she always behave oddly in matters related to family?

Answer 580: The reason why you think she behaves oddly toward her family can be of the followings:

Each science has its own particular definition about normal behavior.

Researchers have been working on defining normal and abnormal behavior for many years. According to them, abnormal behavior means being deviant or to go astray from natural path. Those who are very tall or short are considered as unnatural according to this definition. Also, one who has the highest level of intelligence is considered as unnatural according to custom. A psychologist examines such behavior using pathology approach.

The following are some different ways by which a psychologist define abnormal behavior:

Mental definition: We judge others based on our own behaviors. This means, we consider our own behaviors as the criterion to judge others. If their behaviors look like ours then we can say such behaviors are normal. Otherwise, it is considered as abnormal.

Normative definition: According to this definition, normal means perfection. Those who go astray from perfection, which has been defined by a political or religious organization, are considered as abnormal. It is said that this approach is focus on “thing which should be” instead of “thing which is logically possible”. If we want to conclude who is normal according to this definition we reach to this conclusion that no one is perfect.

Cultural definition: Culture dictates forms of different aspects of life to us. E.g. How to dress up, social behavior, language, love and etc. that have been determined by culture. Some of behaviors are culturally considered as taboo and others unlawful. Those who avoid such cultural standards are considered as abnormal. The definition of normal and abnormal behavior can be changed along with changing societal standards, norms and cultural traditions. It is enough to compare yourself with your parents. For instance, nowadays, things which have been considered as normal among youth had been considered as abnormal among previous generations.

Statistical definition: Normal distribution has particular features. For example, if you get less than 70 or more than 130 mark in each background you would be odd, but you are not considered as abnormal. This definition can be useful for measuring the capabilities of a person not for sensitive areas like a person’s personality of mental illness.

Clinical definition: Being abnormal usually come with incompatibility and odd behaviors. According to clinical psychologist, the difference between normal and abnormal person is almost mentally. They have been trying to find a way by which can exactly determine the difference.[1]

One of the important criterion for being abnormal is having irrational thoughts, according to clinical psychologists. This means, if a person has irrational belief about the universe is considered as abnormal.

Islamic definition: If you know yourself, nature, abilities, capabilities and the reason why you have created by Allah (SW) you would reach to the welfare goal which is achieving the greatest happiness in hereafter. In other word, if you know yourself you would know Allah, the Almighty. According to Islam, normal behavior is to obey Allah and disobey the faithless and the hypocrites. In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “There is certainly a good exemplar for you in them for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day and anyone who refuses to comply [should know that] indeed Allah is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable”.[2] So, if we follow the holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Infallibles (pbuth) behaviors we considered as normal person according to Islam. Our behaviors would be accepted by Allah (SW) if they guided us to the straight path.

Note: In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin And do not spy”. So, we Muslims are supposed not to be Inquisitive about other people’s life.[3]

Conclusion: If you think that she behaves oddly in matters related to family she may act based on her own knowledge got from clinical psychology. If you think her behavior is against Islamic Laws you are just supposed to forbid the way she is behaving in a good manner. According to some of psychologists, being optimistic is much better than being pessimistic. The similar issue can be found in our traditions as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) recommended us to refrain from bad suspicion about Allah (SW) and people.[4]

[1] . Bartlett, Steven (2011).

[2] . Surah al-Mumtahinah, verse 6.

[3] . Surah al-Hujurat, verse 12.

[4] . Qadhaee, Muhammad bin Salama, Sharh Farsi Shahab al-Akhbar (Sayings of the Holy Prophet)), Pg. 357; Sajestani, Abu Davood Suleiman bin Ash’ath, Sunnan Abi Davood, Vol. 4, Pg. 298.