Authenticity of Quran

How do we prove the Holy Quran has not been altered?

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

 

One of the primary differences between Islam and rest of the Abrahamic religions, is the notion of the divine books these religions have, and Islam’s claim about the alteration of these books and fabrication. According to Islamic ideology, the Bible and Torah have been altered by scholars and narrators of these books, as the assemblage of the Bible for example happened about 130 years after the alleged crucifixion of the Christ. Therefore, Islam has an absolute claim that its book the Holy Quran has not been altered and no fabrication has been made to it, since the day it was revealed to Prophet Mohammad until now, and it will remain that way until judgement day. In addition, the 9th verse of Quran’s 15th chapter affirms this notion and states: “Indeed, it is we who sent the Quran and indeed, we will be its guardian”. However, a legitimate claim can be made that presenting such a justification within the Quran is only legitimate and effective for Muslims, as non-Muslims don’t even believe in the Quran. Therefore, offering such a plea through the Quran to non-Muslims hold no ground and authenticity, as this claim require a solid intellectual evidence and attestation.

This statement is absolutely right and proving the un-altered status of the Quran since its revelation requires an intellectual evidence rather than a plea from within the Quran. Therefore, this article will present a set of intellectual evidence to refute any alteration claims about the Quran, and that no fabrication and addition has been added to this holy book.

Inimitability evidence

The primary evidence that can be presented to refute any claims of alteration in the Quran, is the notion of Quran’s inimitability, which means the primary miracle of this book was that no one (absolutely no one) can bring anything like it.   Therefore, any notion of addition in the Quran after its revelation and assembly will refute the evidence of inimitability of Quran, as this means someone was able to develop a Quranic like verse and add it to the book of Islam.

The marvelous and unparalleled eloquence of the Quran is witnessed in the assonance and rhyme of the Quran, which makes each work, diacritical and vowel necessary for its flow, context, sequence, meanings, purpose and even internal definition. Therefore, any alteration, addition or fabrication would exclusively be outlined and taken out of the Quran, as the inimitability of this divine book does not allow such a notion.

Frequency & recurrence evidence

Another evidence that is presented for refuting the claims of alteration and fabrication within the holy Quran, is the frequency of this book and its copies since its revelation until this moment. As many observers and historians know, the phenomenon of memorizing poetry, texts and narrations in Arabia was very normal notion, as many people were capable of memorizing entire poems and narrations after hearing it the first time and reciting it to others. Therefore, the holy Prophet was consistent in reciting the verses of the Quran to his companions once they were revealed to him, and many of them were able to memorize the verses as well. In addition, after the assemblage of the Quran and its transmission through generations the exact same verses has remained unaltered and unchanged for centuries, which asserts the notion of an unaltered text.

Assemblage of the Quran Evidence

As mentioned earlier in the article, one of the bases for Islam’s claim that other books have been altered, is the notion of them being assembled after their revelation in many years, as in the case of the Bible, the first copy was gathered and assembled 130 years after Christ’s departure from this world. Therefore, the same notion of assemblage is used for the Quran to prove that it has not been altered nor fabricated as some might claim.

According to many historical and narrative resources the Quran was gathered, assembled and put in its current order during the life of Prophet Mohammad. A narration by Imam Al-Sadiq assert this notion, which Ali Ibn Ibrahim Al-Qomi has narrated this tradition in his book: “O’ Ali, behind my bed, there is the Quran, silk and parchments. Take it and assemble it and never lose it, as other have done. Ali gathered the book in a yellow cloth and sealed it”. (V 2, P 451) This narration is a clear indication the holy Quran was ordered to be assembled and gathered during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad.

Allamah Al-Tabarsi in his (Majma’a Al-Bayan) states that Prophet Mohammad always revealed and recited the Quran to his companions, and a number of them like, Abdullah Ibn Masood and Ibn Abi Ka’ab finished the Quran during the life of Prophet Mohammad several times. This notion asserts that the current copy Holy Quran among us was already gathered, assembled, placed in order during the life of Prophet Mohammad.

Therefore, if anyone should insist on saving the Quran from alteration, additions and fabrications would be the Prophet himself, as his entire authenticity, credibility and prophet hood revolves around the Quran. This means, the Quran that was assembled during the life of Prophet Mohammad is the authentic and original copy that was intended to be revealed by Allah to his messenger and therefore, to all Muslims.

Shia Diaspora

Dislodgment of Shia Muslims through history

By:Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Muslims and especially Shia Muslims have been the victims of tyrannical sectarian policies ever since the death of Prophet Mohammad, and extortion of the Caliphate from Imam Ali, who was the rightful appointed successor. Imprisonment, torture, intimidation, expropriation, marginalisation and coercive dislodgement has been the policy of any regime that was hostile to Shia Muslims and their leaders. However, the most brutal and effective method of eliminating the presence of Shia Muslims was dislodgement, which enabled tyrants to minimize the presence of Shias to its maximum. Dislodgement and forcing Shia Muslims out of their homes and town was more effective, since none of the other arbitrary policies were eliminating the entire presence of Shias. Therefore, this policy was adopted by the Umayyad, Abbasids, Ottomans and other post-colonial era regimes in the Middle East.

However, this forceful migration, whether it was forced upon Shia Muslims by regimes or voluntarily to evade persecution, has been mentioned in the Quran as a deed for the sake of Allah and his path. The 196th verse of Quran’s 3rd chapter states: “so those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or harmed in my cause or fought or were killed, I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah”. Therefore, although those Shia Muslims were harmed and forced to leave their homes and face an unknown path, they chose patience and confidence in the almighty, so they can hold on to their faith. In addition, Shia Muslims chose consolation to the memoir of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household, as they were forced out of their home and towns as well, as the 21st verse of Quran’s 33rd chapter states: “there has certainly been for you in the messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the last day, and who remembers Allah often”.

However, this arbitrary dislodgement has resulted in some catastrophic consequences for some Shia Muslims, as some of them, who fled to remote places were unable to receive further education and information about their religion and belief. In addition, other groups that were forced out of their homes and towns, migrated to places, where they were a small minority, which forced them to practice (Taqiya) dissimulation to protect their lives. Therefore, the first groups, who were unable to have interaction with their religious leaders lost the essence of their belief and gradually became sub-sects of Shia Islam, like the Allawis, Druze, Shabak and other small sects. The second groups, who were not able to practice their belief and rituals even at home, fearing for their lives faced a similar end, as the second or third generations were converting to other religions or beliefs.

Umayyad Dynasty & Shia Diaspora

The history of this tyrannical dynasty and dislodging Shia Muslims is certified in various historical sources, as they forced thousands of Shias out of their homes and towns. The first case of dislodging a Muslims and a follower of Imam Ali dates back to the time of the third Caliph Othman Ibn Affan, who ordered Abu Thar Al-Ghefari to be expelled from Medina to a remote and unlivable place called ‘Al-Rabadha’. Due to his constant criticism toward the regime of that time and the favoring policies of Othman toward his own tribe (the Umayyad), Abu Thar was dislodged and kicked out of Medina. It is narrated that upon his forceful departure, Marwan (Othman’s son in law) abused, humiliated and kicked Abu Thar, and they only people, who came out for farewell, were Imam Ali and his sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein. Abu Thar’s entire family, except a little girl died in that desert, and he was buried there as well. The little girl was taken back to Medina by a passing by caravan and placed in the house of Imam Ali.

During the time of Muawiya, who later became the Caliph of Muslims, he ordered his governor in Kufa to force the Shia families out of Iraq and send them to Khorasan province in Persia (Current Iran). This decision was taken by that regime to ensure that Shia Muslims of Iraq are distant from the political center and they are scattered as much as possible. Therefore, they would never be able to organize and mobilize against the state and cause any threat. Unfortunately, these groups were later the core members of Abu Muslim Al-Khorasani’s army against the Umayyad dynasty, which overthrew them and toppled that dynasty and placed the Abbasids in power.

Another case of dislodgement against the Shia Muslims, is the events that led to the martyrdom of Imam Al-Hussein in Karbala, in what is known as Battle of Ashura or Battle of Karbala. Imam Al-Hussein, who was asked to give allegiance to the successor of Muawiya, Yazid Ibn Muawiya, was subjected to an assassination attempt in Medina. Therefore, he left Medina with his entire family to Mecca, and in Mecca, when we realized that Yazid would hesitate in demolishing the Ka’aba if necessary in order to kill Imam Al-Hussein left Mecca and aimed for Kufa. Although Imam Al-Hussein voluntarily left his home town of Medina, but his migration was for the sake of Allah and his martyrdom sealed his ultimate victory against tyranny and oppression of the Umayyad dynasty.

In addition, numerous cases of forceful dislodgement against the Shias of Imam Ali took place during the era of Umayyad dynasty. Yemen, under the rule of its governor Besr Ibn Arta’a witnessed once of the most vicious attacks against Shia Muslims and their forceful migration. During the era of Hajjaj Al-Thaqafi, the Shias of Iraq faced other series of dislodgement and persecution in various forms and types, as many Shia Muslims, including some of their leaders were forced to leave their homes and hide in deserts and caves to evade the Umayyad forces.

The Abbasid Dynasty & Shia Diaspora

There is a line of poetry about the oppression of Abbasids against the Shia Muslims and their leaders, which compares them to the Umayyad dynasty:

Swear by Allah, sons of Umaya did not do to them

Tenth of what was done by the sons of Al-Abbas

The tyranny of this dynasty and their hostility toward Shia Muslims reached a new level, as Shia Muslims were not naming their sons and daughters a name that would raise suspicion about them being Shia Muslims. Thousands of Shias were imprisoned in dark holes beneath the earth, with no food or water, and they were killed in the presence of the Caliph and his officials for their amusement. The Imams of Shia Muslims were poisoned and jailed for many years, like in the case of Imam Al-Kadhem, he was imprisoned for 17 years, and finally poisoned in the prion of Sindi Ibn Shahik during the era of Harun.

However, the dislodgement of Shia Muslims and their leaders during this time reached its max, as thousands of Shia Muslims were forced to leave their homes and towns and flee to other places to save their lives. Many of the sons and family members of the Imams were followed and threatened by the regime, which led them to flee to places like North Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, India and other places. This is why, a traveller might witness many shrines and tombs of a son, a grandson or even a granddaughter of an Imam in Iran. In the city of Tehran for example, one of the decedents of the holy household of Prophet Mohammad is buried on a mountain, which shows the amount of danger this individual faced which forced him to hide in a mountain.

Ottoman Empire & Shia Diaspora

The Ottoman Empire as well hold a substantial share of hostility toward Shia Muslims and persecuting them based on their belief, and dislodging them was a standard policy of this dynasty. Many of the newer sects, as mentioned earlier in this article were formed during the diaspora of Shia Muslims and their hiding in remote places.

The Shias of Levant (Syria & Lebanon) during the Ottoman Empire were the primary victims of this dislodgement, as many of them, who were forced to hide in mountains and remote places during the time of the Ayoubis, were still fearing for their lives during the Ottoman era. Various groups of Shia Muslims that were hiding in small villages and mountains, were taken as captives and forced to serve in the military and fight the wars of that empire in its conquests. In addition, their distance from Shia centers and scholars, exposed them to ideological infiltration, which led to some of them converting to Sunnism, Christianity or forming new sects based on the little information they had about their original belief.

Ba’ath Party of Iraq & Shia Diaspora

The post-colonial era in the Middle East, was another catastrophe for the region, as it brought some of the most vicious and barbaric regimes to power, which used the resources and wealth of their nations for their own interests and desires. However, in the case of Iraq and its Shia majority, the case was not different as well, as the Shias of this country were subjected to sever marginalisation and persecution.  During the era of the Ba’ath party and their rule in Iraq, the Shia Muslims were placed under short leash and tremendous pressure, as they were sought as an instability recipe for the regime of Ba’ath Party and later on Saddam Hussein.

However, the forceful migration of dislodgement of the Shias in this country, marks the most contemporary diaspora in the modern age of the Middle East region. Hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims were driven out of their homes and towns during the time of Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein’s rule, under the allegation of them being from Iranian descends. Entire families were forced to leave their home and town and take nothing with them, were placed on the Iranian borders among mine fields to cross to Iran. The Ba’ath regime of Iraq, claimed that those families were not original Iraqi citizens and their roots is linked to Iran and they are originally Persians and there is no place for them in Iraq.

Although, some of those Shia families were actually from Iranian descends, but they had been living in Iraq for centuries and generations, and some of them did not even know how to speak Persian. In addition, a large portion of those families were Arabs and pure Iraqis but due to a simple technicality during the Ottoman era to evade the oppression of that dynasty, they adopted the Iranian citizenship.

During the Ottoman rule, Iraq was a province of the Ottoman Empire, and the holy cities of Shia Muslims in Iraq (Najaf, Karbala, Kadhemayn, and Samara) were subjected to a mutual agreement between the Ottoman and Persian Empires. According to that agreement, those cities witnessed the presence of the Iranian Empire, and Iranian consulates and representative offices were opened there as well. Therefore, many of the Iraqi Shia families were registering themselves as Iranian citizens to save their children from being drafted in the military, and having to fight in the Ottoman wars in the Balkans and other places. The Iranians were very generous in granting their citizenship as well, to maintain a stronger momentum in Iraq, and as a result these families were giving up what was referred to as ‘The Ottoman Certificate’.

However, later on during the era of the Ba’ath Party, the Ottoman certificate was used as a mean of asserting Iraqi citizenship, and under this rouge justification over one million Shia Muslims were expelled to Iran. During this arbitrary decision, the entire assets and estate of these families were confiscated, and they were placed on the Iranian border with their cloths only, to face a possible deadly future. According to witnesses and people, who were part of this diaspora, many children, women and elders lost their lives in the mine fields or severe and cold weather.

In addition, many Iraqi Shias were forced to flee their country to places like Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and other places to evade the vengeance of the Ba’ath party and their hostility toward Shia Muslims.

These arbitrary policies have placed millions of people in desperation and urgent needs for help, not to mention the social implications of such a policy on the future generations of these victims. Many of these families were not able to prove their citizenship in the countries they migrated to, which left their children in a state of disparity and loss, since they were always considered as second and third class subjects, with no rights and entitlements. Therefore, many of them were not able to get higher education, buy estate, work freely or even get married legally, which formed a compiled sense of grievance and vengeance toward the societies they were living in or their original home countries.

Reviewing Hermeneutic (Part 9)

Relativity of Truth, Knowledge & Texts

(Based on the thoughts and theories of Ayatollah Sayed Murteza Al-Shirazi)
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi – Part 9 (Hermeneutic conception & its perceptions)

 

Hermeneutics is an infinitive noun in ancient Latin, which is derived from the verb ‘hermeneu’ in that language, which is still being used in contemporary Latin terminology as well. The definition of this term is, define or illustrate, and its mythical roots is found in the Hellenic culture, which is derived from the name of one the twelve Gods named Hermes, who was a messenger for the Gods and helped people’s soul in crossing to the other side.

This term has been defined as ‘art of interpretation’ or ‘interpretation of texts and provisions’, ‘science or art of illustration’, ‘illustration theory’, ‘interpretation theory’, ‘illustrative’ and other definition. Nevertheless, the different between interpretation and illustration is very wide, as the terminology subject is different both linguistically and conventionally. Therefore, theologians, scholars and linguistic experts have expressed this notion and in addition, the difference between science and art used in the definition approach is evident as well.

In addition, some scholars have expressed the necessity to keep the term ‘hermeneutic’ without definition and only Arabizing it would be sufficient, since it is conclusive of all indications about conducts, illustrative methods, definition and interpretation, comprehension and application. Therefore, Hermeneutics including all of its ideological schools, has adopted complex, interdependent, opposite and even contradicting definitions, which will be addressed and covered in this research.

The roots of Hermeneutics

Historians have differed in rooting this term, as some have dated it back to the efforts of ancient Athenians during the era of classical Greece to extract the definition of Homer’s epics, which were obscure according to human comprehension. Therefore, this notion is compatible with ‘Illustration’, even though an expert illustrator is needed.

In addition, other historians have dated the concept to Alexandria, which was brought back during the renaissance, to achieve prosperity during the age of Enlightenment and Romanticism.

According to other researchers, the roots of this term is solely religious, due to the necessity to interpret the Bible, which was incomprehensible directly. Therefore, we witness the wide spread Hermeneutics has known was during the prosperous period of Protestant rise during the renaissance. This definition is compatible with ‘illustration’ as well, but in one of its most strange forms. Nonetheless, the root of this term has started in the form of theological studies that addresses the illustration of the Bible in a symbolical and mythical, which is far from the intended interpretation of the terms, as it is the direct linguistic and textual definition.

Therefore, the purpose of inventing hermeneutics with this meaning, in accordance with the view of researchers and analyzers, would be: detouring around the exoticism of Bible in its current copy among us, which compiles a decent amount illogical and irrational concepts. This notion is done through: interpreting each mythological text as not consistent with the literal meanings of the terms. The intended interpretation derived using hermeneutics would be compatible with logic and science, but it was articulated through a symbolic terminology. Therefore, any interpretation presented by any interpreter would twist the text to deliver a comprehensible definition, even if it contains mythical indications.

Others have presented an opposite interpretation for hermeneutics by saying: Hermeneutics is an ancient term, which began to be used among theological research firms, to outline a set of principles and provisions that an interpreter must abide by to understand the texts of the holy book.

Regardless of the early stages and launch of hermeneutics, it was later generalized to become an art or a science that addresses different texts, whether religious, historic or scientific. In addition, the generalization of hermeneutics has included interpretation of codes, references, signs, and all aspect of life, such as: this colour represents what, and this statue represents what. To expand the notion, hermeneutic has been used to even interpret events and facts, like, this movement or action reveals these rationales and results, and interpretation of these entire aspects is hermeneutics.

In addition, hermeneutical methods are not exclusive to linguistic hermeneutics, as many additions have been done, such as: psychological hermeneutics, philosophical hermeneutics, historical hermeneutics and many other types. Therefore, we find that the term hermeneutics is specialized through numerous transformations, and has evolved from limited indications to wide range of indications.    

Social Security in Islam

(Based on the thoughts of Grand Ayatollah Sayed Sadiq Al-Shirazi)

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Repetition of a specific statement, opinion or a fact is usually for reaffirming purposes, as  the importance of that notion might be hidden or unclear for many, due to various internal and external factors. Therefore, the statement that says: Islam is the answer for all questions and aspects, is one of those statements, which requires repetition at all time, due to the negligence of Muslims and unawareness of non-Muslims. One of the aspects of Islamic tradition that once again proves to be complete and fair according to all measures and principles, is the notion of social security in Islam.

The Islamic social security law, is unprecedented and has no equivalent anywhere in the world or throughout history. This Islamic law states: Anyone, who passes away and has debts, it is the responsibility of head of Islamic State to pay his obligations and debts. Anyone, who passes away and has assets and wealth, it is for his/her inheritors and head of Islamic State has no share in that wealth.

Without doubt this is one of the most astonishing laws, ever presented to humanity, as even the most liberal and democratic states in the west, place taxes and fees in inheritance or any wealth left to someone by someone else. The Holy Prophet of Islam asserts this law and says: “whomever leaves behind debt of loss, I shall be responsible for it, and whomever leaves wealth, it belongs to his/her family”. In addition, it has been narrated by Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari (one of the Prophet’s close companions): “a dead man was brought to the prophet for prayer and burial. The Prophet refused to pray on his body, and asked if he had any debt. The man’s relatives said: he had a debt of two Dinars. The Prophet paid that debt, and then prayed on the man and told his relatives, he is your, take him for burial”. Although, claims and challenges about revenue generation might be presented, as this type of taxation is one of the most effective approaches for governments to gain funds. However, the Islamic law states that taxation should be only on surplus from the yearly income, as the state must insure the citizen is able to cover all of his/her need and necessities, and then decide whether he/she is eligible for taxation. A person, who has been paying his/her taxes throughout his/her life, shall not be taxed on the wealth he/she leaves behind after death, as this wealth is the total right of inheritors. The inheritors will eventually use that wealth for generating income and more wealth for themselves, which mean the state then has the right to tax them.

Demolition of Al-Baqi Shrines

Unforgettable crime & global silence

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

According to the Islamic-Lunar calendar, we are approaching the demolition anniversary of Al-Baqi shrines, in Al-Baqi cemetery of Medina, by the Saudi government and the Wahhabi movement in that country. Eight days after the end of Ramadan in the month of Shawwal or the 21st day of April in 1926, is when this hideous crime took place and shook the Islamic nation at the time. The Saudi State of the time led by King Ibn Saud, carried out this historic crime, which broke the hearts of all Muslims during that time until present day. Through the support of Wahhabi scholars, mainly Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (Influenced by Ibn Taymiya), Ibn Saud legitimize his action domestically and demolished the shrine and tombs of Baqi, and other historic places in Mecca. The rationale behind such action was, that shrines, tombs and similar places are considered idol worshipping sites and attract such prohibited ritual. Therefore, by calling rest of the Muslim nation as infidels and idol worshippers, the shrines and tombs of Ahlul Bayt (The holy Prophet’s household) were brought down to the ground and demolished.

Al-Baqi Cemetry

This site is considered on the holy places to all Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia, as the people buried in this land are respected and glorified by all Muslims. The majority of personalities buried in Al-Baqi are among the holy household of Prophet Mohammad, and their shrines was being visited by Muslims from all over the Islamic nation. Visiting the shrine of such figures like household of the Prophet, his companions, wives and other early Islamic era figures, is a spiritual ritual that majority of Muslims do. The righteousness and piety of those people has been a known fact to all Muslims, through books of narrations and Hadeeth, and therefore, visiting the shrines and tombs of these people is a spiritual deed, which helps Muslims reconnect to their Lord. During visiting such places, Muslims recite supplications, Quran and ask for the intercession of these figures with God to forgive their bad deeds or fulfill a wish or a need. Nevertheless, such a ritual is considered infidelity and polytheism by the Wahhabi sect, as they consider any request aimed at anyone but God is illegitimate and prohibited. One of the main reasons the shrines of Al-Baqi were demolished is due to the hostile position of Wahhabism toward Shia Muslims and Shia Islam in general. The Wahhabi sect, which is officially adopted and supported by the Saudi government, considers Shia Muslims among the greatest of all evils and infidels, and slaughtering them is commendable and in some cases mandatory. Therefore, eliminating any semblance or front that supports their ideology would be a priority and a necessity. Nonetheless, the fact that gave the Saudi government and Wahhabism to demolish the shrines is the burial of several Shia Imams and other figures respected mainly by Shia Muslims. These Imams and individuals are:

  • Imam Hassan Al-Mujtaba (Son of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, and grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Imam Al-Hassan is the second Imam of Shia Muslims)
  • Imam Ali Ibn Al-Hussein (this imam is the son of Imam Al-Hussein, and the fourth Imam of Shia Muslims)
  • Imam Mohammad Al-Baqir (son of Imam Ali Ibn Al-Hussein and fifth Imam of Shia Muslims)
  • Imam Ja’afar Ibn Mohammad ( son of Imam Al-Baqir and sixth Imam of Shia Muslims)
  • Lady Fatima Al-Kolabiya (wife of Imam Ali, and mother of Al-Abbas, who was Imam Hussein’s half-brother and his army commander during the battle of Karbala)
  • Abdullah Ibn Ja’afar (he was the husband of Lady Zainab daughter of Imam Ali, and nephew of Imam Ali as well)
  • Aqeel Ibn Abi Talib (he was the brother of Imam Ali(
  • Othman Ibn Mathoon (one of the companions of the Holy Prophet and a close friend of Imam Ali, which later Imam Ali named of his sons after him)
  • Mohammad Ibn Al-Hanafiya (he was one of Imam Ali’s sons, and half-brother of Imam Al-Hassan and Imam Al-Hussein)
  • Fatima Bint Assad (she was the wife of Abu Talib and mother of Imam Ali)
  • Al-Meqdad ibn Amro (he was a companion of Prophet Mohammad, and a very close companion and pupil of Imam Ali, who is glorified by Shia Muslims)
  • Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari (Jabir is one of the close companions of Prophet Mohammad, and lived a long life, and as narrated he saw the fifth Imam of Shia Islam, Imam Al-Baqir)
  • In addition, tens of other companions and household of Prophet Mohammad and ahlul bayt are buried in the cemetery of Al-Baqi.

Rebuilding Attempts

The attempts to rebuild these shrines has been very shameful and incompetent with the tragedy, as the support of the global community, political interests, regional conflicts and lack of unity among Shia Muslims has prevented the rebuilding of these sites. The closest attempt to rebuild the shrines of Al-Baqi is credited to the late Ayatollah Sayed Hassan Al-Shirazi. According to observers and close friends of this Shia scholar, he was able to convince the Saudi government about the importance of authorizing rebuilding of these sites, but his assassination by the Ba’ath Party of Iraq in Beirut, Lebanon ended the entire endeavor. Ayatollah Sayed Hassan Al-Shirazi was a leading Shia scholar, thinker, author and preacher of co-existence and tolerance in the Middle East, who had close relations with many politicians and regional leaders. Therefore, he used those credential and relations to persuade the Saudi government to authorize rebuilding operations.

Shia scholars and Ayatollahs yearly urge Muslims to put pressure on the Saudi government to rebuild those shrines and limit the influence of the Wahhabi scholars in Mecca and Medina. Therefore, this tragedy is commemorated by Shia Muslims around the world, through forums, lectures, rallies and mourning sessions, to revive the tragedy and remind Muslims about one of the most vicious crimes against humanity and religion in the modern era.

Robots That Think for Themselves: Not Just Science Fiction

By Ali Reza

Robots are nothing new—but robots that think for themselves? That actually show

some self-awareness? That’s long been a topic of pure science fiction.

Of course, you may think that such robots sound like a great deal of fun, potentially

even helpful; you may just as easily assume them to be a looming threat, just one step

away from rising up against humanity, a favorite sci-fi trope.

Whatever you think of self-aware robots, though, know this: They’re not purely science

fiction any longer.

That’s because recent experimentation has resulted in humanoid robots exhibiting

glimpses of true self-awareness. No, we’re not quite dealing with Rosie from The Jetsons

just yet, but scientists have taken us one step closer toward robots that can solve

problems and, to some extent, think on their own.

Problem Solvers

The experimentation in question hinges on three old Nao-model robots—robots that

proved themselves able to independently solve a classic philosophical dilemma.

Here’s what happened. The robots were all programmed to “think” that two out of the

three had received some sort of a “dumbing pill”—something that left them unable to

speak. Two of the robots were effectively silenced, in other words yet none of them

knew which two had received the dumbing pills and which was still able to “talk.”

The robots were then asked which ones had received the pill, and they tried their best

to respond honestly: I don’t know! Of course, two had been silenced, so only one of

them was actually able to utter and hear the words. What’s remarkable is that this robot

knew it had answered aloud, and that the other two hadn’t. This robot was then able to

change its answer, affirming that it now knew and could prove that it was not one of the

ones to receive a dumbing pill.

Basics of Self-Awareness

This is obviously a very minor philosophical hurdle to jump, and again, we’re a long way

yet from robotic butlers, personal androids, and/or killer robot invasions. Nevertheless,

what this experiment shows is groundbreaking: Robots were able to fulfill some of the

basic requirements of self-awareness.

One interesting facet of all this is that this potentially revolutionary discovery came

about on the heels of a very old induction puzzle, often known as The King’s Wise Men

puzzle. In this puzzle, the king takes three of his wise men and puts hats on them, telling

them that their hat is either blue or white. They can see each other’s hats, but not their

own, and they are instructed that at least one of them is wearing a blue hat. The answer

to the puzzle, incidentally, is that all three are wearing blue; no white hats are given.

But what matters most here is the robotics. The experiment in question—the “dumbing

pill” variation on The King’s Wise Men puzzle—was conducted by Selmer Bringsjord,

who is a professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He came up with

and implemented the dumbing pills test as part of his ongoing research into artificial

intelligence systems, based in computational logic.

Though the findings and full ramifications of the test will be unveiled in greater detail at

an upcoming robotics conference in Japan, those who are curious about such things can

find full footage of the robot experiment over on YouTube.

What’s Next for Robots?

So what’s the next step—and how close are we, really, to robots that will prove smarter

or more adept at problem-solving than people? Those who are fearful of a robot

takeover may find some reassurance in the words of Professor Bringsjord, who notes

that, in his opinion, robots will always be inferior to the human mind.

And yet, there is no question that his experiment is a breakthrough—the first real

evidence that robots can develop self-awareness. The ramifications of this have yet to

be fully unpacked, and one imagines that all manner of applications are being

hypothesized even now.

It is, of course, important to note that self-aware robots are still very much in the

experimental phase—but all of this points toward a whole new world of possibility.

The State of Human Rights: What’s the Report Say?

By Ali Reza

Have you been eagerly awaiting the U.S. Department of State’s rundown of human rights statuses and abuses across the world, circa 2014? If so, then you’ve been waiting a while: Though the Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 should ostensibly have arrived some time ago, it didn’t actually land until the end of June 2015—a long delay that is head-turning and eyebrow-raising in itself, though not as much as the actual contents of the report.

That report is, of course, exhaustive, or close to it: Its pages highlight and summarize the state of human rights in nearly every country on the planet. Only one nation is omitted—the United States itself!

If you think about it for a moment you can probably think of some areas in which America’s own human rights record is spotty, but also consider this: The very existence of a report like this one is a good sign, providing a useful roadmap for determining the nation’s foreign policy and its own take on human rights. The Obama Administration has cited human rights as a major priority, and as such we can hope that this report—tardy though it may be—proves useful and grounding to policymakers.

What’s in the Report?

But of course, the question remains… what’s in the report? And is what’s there accurate? Is what’s there complete?

To evaluate the worthiness of the State Department report, it might be helpful to compare it against similar human rights chronicles, compiled by organizations like Amnesty International—perhaps the most significant human rights organization in the world.

Amnesty International is tireless in its vigilance, and as such, it is a good sign that so many of the State Department’s findings are in alignment with Amnesty’s. In fact, Amnesty International has publically praised the State Department’s findings and conclusions in Russia, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the Dominican Republic.

(This is good news in the sense that the U.S. has recognized human rights breaches in these countries, though obviously not so good news in terms of what they’re recognizing; both the U.S. and Amnesty International are understandably worried about the documented abductions, killings, and terrorist activity in Nigeria, for instance.)

Leniencies and Omissions?

In other nations, Amnesty International finds that the State Department is overly lenient—countries that include Mexico, Egypt, and Ethiopia. In these countries, Amnesty notes, the State Department has not fully documented all of the issues that are going on.

In a general sense, it could be said that the State Department tends toward passivity and equivocation in some of its language, whereas Amnesty International is more direct in labeling human rights abusers as such, always citing and documenting specific cases. Looking into specific names, it could also be observed that more than 20 individuals, recognized by Amnesty International as war criminals or human rights abusers, are not listed anywhere in the State Department report.

A surprising area of conflict between the State Department and Amnesty International reports: El Salvador. Amnesty singles out the State Department’s El Salvador reports as especially incomplete, misleading, and egregious. Though the State Department paints a fairly positive view of life in El Salvador, Amnesty International claims that total abortion bans in El Salvador not only inhibit women’s rights but, in some cases, can endanger the lives of women who have troubled pregnancies.

According to Amnesty International, El Salvador imprisons women for abortions and even punishes those who suffer miscarriages; in the organization’s view, this is the most troubling omission from the State Department’s report.

A Good Place to Start?

The State Department’s report is strong enough, complete enough, and accurate enough that it does deserve some praise: At a bare minimum, it represents a good starting point, and a way forward toward a greater sense of awareness and compassion toward international human rights violations.
There is, perhaps, room for improvement—and that improvement might include the U.S. turning the microscope on itself for a frank appraisal of its own human rights status. In the meantime, for anyone who is concerned about such things, the State Department’s human rights report is a worthwhile and at times sobering read.

Reviewing Hermeneutic – Part 8 (Definitive Approach in Knowledge)

Relativity of Truth, Knowledge & Texts

(Based on the thoughts and theories of Ayatollah Sayed Murteza Al-Shirazi)

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

 

What does knowledge mean?

The subject of knowledge is a very lengthy topic, but to simplify this notion, it is said: knowledge is, research and observation based on method for a purpose. Therefore, knowledge is apprehension of a matter or an object based on its existence and attributes, as it is defined as the determined:

  • Knowledge defined as action, where beneficial knowledge will not linger from action.
  • It might also be defined as retribution or compensation.
  • However, the real meaning of knowledge is apprehension, and this definition is affiliated to determined cognition. Nonetheless, knowledge is used for inclusive or composite apprehension, and cognition is designated for simple and partial apprehension.

The notable aspects of this interpretation are:

  • It is a distinctive itemization, as not all researches that lack methodology and purpose are not knowledge.
  • Knowledge is the result of research and observation, as it is not the research itself. Research, observation and study are the reason for knowledge.
  • Knowledge is reflection of the determined and not the definition. The determined by essence, which is the impression of intellect is knowledge, but it is not the desired notion at this point.
  • Knowledge is the adequate of beneficial action, and it is not the beneficial action itself.
  • Knowledge of compensation at retribution is a confirmation of knowledge only.

In addition, another source has stated that knowledge is cognition, as both are defined with the same approach, since both of them are preceded by ignorance and unawareness.

However, apparently being preceded by ignorance and unawareness is circumstantial and not a constitutive or a provision and condition. Therefore, both (Knowledge & Cognition) are applied on matters that are not preceded by ignorance and unawareness like the ALMIGHTY, as he is entitled to have the most general and inclusive definition of these notions.

Nevertheless, it would have been a priority to bring the definition of knowledge for cognition, as they both share the purpose of revealing the TRUTH. In addition, the following principle has been streamed in this research:

  • Circumstance, preposition and genitive if gathered will divaricate, and if they divaricate they will assimilate.

Therefore, upon mentioning cognition by itself, or knowledge by itself, we shall need the other one. However, once they are assimilated, the purpose of cognition is what is obtained from non-academic approaches and methods, or what is affiliated with metaphysics.

Salatul Layl Merits – A Brief Look

Remembering Allah is one of the greatest deeds performed by a human being. Not only does the remembrance of the divine Creator elevates a man’s lifespan but it also brings peace and contentment into his life. This remembrance brings man closer to his real purpose in life on this planet, which is to worship Allah. The holy Quran says, “Now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts at rest.” [13:28] Additionally, holy Prophet (s) says, “There is no action more beloved to Allah, and nothing that saves man so well from evil of this world and the Hereafter, than the remembrance of Allah.” Let us now take a moment to highlight an important method that constitutes this remembrance of Allah that has been mentioned both in the holy Quran and Hadith.  Normally, a man is required to perform his obligatory salaat 5 times a day in order to get in touch with Allah. However, another prayer of higher merit, regular performance of which makes a man follow the path of the Prophets and Ma’sumeen (a) is Salatul Layl. Holy Prophet (s) says, “When a person performs the Qadha of Namaz-e-Shab (Salatul Layl), the Almighty Allah expresses pride before the Angels and says; O Angels! See he is performing the Qadha of that which I have not made obligatory on him. Be witness that I have given him salvation.” [Beharul Anwaar Vol. 87 Pg. 202] Another instance where Allah has shed light on the status of those who perform this prayer can be found in the holy Quran yet again, “And during a part of the night, pray Tahajudd (salatul layl) beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.” [17:79]

Thus, when Salatul Layl is recited, the livelihood of man increases and he obtains an easier route for passing ‘Sakaraat’ (torturous pain that comes as the soul is being extracted from the body of a dying person) in addition to finding happiness in ‘Barzakh’ (the spiritual realm where the dead stay either in misery or free from worries until judgment day). The preceding matter has also been discussed by Amar Nakshawani, a shia scholar who has advised us in one of his lectures to perform Salatul Layl in order to escape the punishment of the grave. He further compares this prayer to submitting an easy assignment that can help one pass a course instead of going through the process of writing a final exam.

Some other merits of this prayer, as mentioned by Holy Prophet (s) include making friendship with the angels, getting acceptance of our duas and good deeds, and getting protection from our enemies. In addition to driving the devils away and keeping one physically fit, performance of Salatul Layl will put a crown on the head of its performer on judgment day while obtaining Allah’s pardon, and forming a barrier against hell fire. How many of us have wanted to pursue knowledge in our lives despite our busy schedules? Well, this prayer is the provider for means to pursue that knowledge and granting us the key to paradise.

A general method of performing Salatul Layl constitutes a total of eleven rak’ats. In the first eight rak’ats, one prays normally (similar to Fajr salat in sets of two rak’ats) and makes the niyyah (intention) of Nawafilatul Layl. Following this, the next two rak’ats are performed with niyyah of Salatul Shaf’a with the remaining last rak’at performed with the niyyah of Salatul Witr.


Sources:

Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2015, from http://www.al-islam.org/salatul-layl-h-t-kassamali/introduction

Salatul layl in the words of Allah (SWT). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2015, from http://www.shia-azadari.com/madras/page.asp?catid=25&scatid=269
Tahajjud Prayer – Salatul layl – Night Prayer. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2015, from http://www.duas.org/tahajjud.htm

Politically Assessing a LEADER. (Part – 3)

Legitimate methods of evaluating the conducts and policies of a political leader

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

In continuation of the series that addresses the assessment of a political leader, based on the covenant of Imam Ali to his governor in Egypt Malik Al-Ashtar, we will present the other aspects delivered by Imam Ali to us to assess and evaluate the conducts of a leader.

  • Aloofness is not an option. This aspect must be one of the most important justifications for labeling a leader, as this conduct should become a norm and a daily routine of any political leader. The notion of being in direct contact with the masses is prioritized in Imam Ali’s view as he tells Malik: ‘Alongside the observance of all that I have said, bear one thing in mind. Never, for any length of time, keep yourself aloof from the people, for to do so is to keep oneself ignorant of their affairs. It develops in the ruler a wrong perspective and renders him unable to distinguish between what is important and what is not, between right and wrong, and between truth and falsehood. The ruler is after all human, and he cannot form a correct view of anything which is out of sight’. The Imam connects this aspect to the notion of being JUST & UNJUST, as he states: ‘There is no distinctive sign attached to truth which may enable one to distinguish between the different varieties of truth and falsehood. The fact is that you must be one of two things. Either you are just or unjust. If you are just, then you will not keep yourself away from the people, but will listen to them and meet their requirements. But, if you are unjust, the people themselves will keep way from you’.
  • Peace & Treaties: This aspect is an approach to test the tangibility of a leader and his/her political awareness at the same time. The importance of accepting and promoting peace is always desired and mandatory, as peace should be the normal state of any nation. However, a political leader should be able to wage war against the enemies of the state, and protect the citizens from harm. Imam Ali shed light on this aspect by stating the following to Malik: ‘Bear in mind that you do not throw away the offer of peace which your enemy may himself make. Accept it, for that will please God. Peace is a source of comfort to the army, it reduces your worries and promotes order in the state. But Beware! Be on your guard when the peace is signed for, certain types of enemies propose terms of peace just to lull you into a sense of security only to attack you again when you are off your guard’.

In addition, the Imam puts the survival of any state upon the following action and conduct, when he says: ‘Beware! Abstain from shedding blood without a valid cause. There is nothing more harmful than this which brings about one’s ruin. The blood that is wilfully shed shortens the life of a state. On the Day of Judgement it is this crime for which one will have to answer first. So, beware! Do not wish to build the strength of your state on blood for, it is this blood which ultimately weakens the state and passes it into other hands’.

  • The final lines of the covenant of Imam Ali to his companion Malik Al-AShtar are the finest of any suggestions and principle settings for any political leader around the world. The Imam states some of the astonishing sentences and words that place huge responsibility on the shoulder of any state leader. However, by following these orders and recommendations, the Imam assures any leader that he/she will be in prosperous and calm state of mind and conscience. ‘Do not make haste to do a thing before its time, nor put it off when the right moment arrives. Do not insist on doing a wrong thing, nor show slackness in rectifying a wrong thing. Perform everything in its proper time, and let everything occupy its proper place. When the people as a whole agree upon a thing, do not impose your own will on them and do not neglect to discharge the responsibility that rests on you in consequence. For, the eyes of the people will be on you and you are answerable for whatever you do to them. The slightest dereliction of duty will bring its own retribution. Keep your anger under control and keep your hands and tongue in check. Whenever you fall into anger, try to restrain yourself or else you will simply increase your worries. It is imperative on you to study carefully the principles which have inspired just and good rulers who have gone before you. Give close thought to the example of our prophet, his traditions, and the commandments of the Holy Qur’an and whatever you might have assimilated from my own way of dealing with things. Endeavor to the best of your ability to carry out the instructions which I have given you here and which you have solemnly undertaken to follow. By means of this order, I enjoin on you not to succumb to the prompting of your own heart or to turn away from the discharge of duties entrusted to you’.