Products ingredients & Islamic laws

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

One of the ongoing problems for majority of Muslims living in the west, is the issue of ingredients of products consumed during everyday life, as Muslims are obligated to assure these products don’t contain anything taken from animals or alcoholic ingredients.  It might seem that due to this obligation, Islam has placed a heavy burden on the shoulder of its followers, since majority of products in the west contain such ingredients, which means this law makes it hard for Muslims to live an easy life.

Quran’s 24th verse of chapter 80 states: “Then let mankind look (watch) his food”. The notion of watching the things that we eat goes beyond the physical aspects of human body, as every single product we consume has a certain effect and impact on our characteristics and personality as well. For instance, there are numerous narration by Prophet Mohammad about eating Fish only on Wednesdays or Fridays, or refraining from eating and drinking while in washroom. Other narrations by the Prophet, suggest eating Camel’s meat has spiritual and characteristics effects on humans, as Camel is known to be an honorable animal. It is known in Arabia and other places, where Camels are found, these animals are very private and secretive, when it comes to their private life, where they tend to hide from public, if they want to unite, they choose a place, where no one is able to see. Therefore, eating the meat of this animal is believed to increase this sense of a human’s behavior and characteristic.

Nonetheless, the responsibility to watch the ingredients of all products is linked to the physical aspect of human’s anatomy and his/her spiritual and behavioral characteristics. In addition, this obligation is a jurisprudential responsibility like any other notion during every day conducts, consumption, interactions and proceedings.

Ingredients produced from animal body

The consumption of any product that contains ingredients from animals is only prohibited and ruled as forbidden or what Islamic law calls ‘Haram’, when the animal was not slaughtered according to Islamic law. This notion obviously applies to the consumption of beef and lamb as well, which means Muslims are only allowed to consume the meat of an animal that was killed according to the Islamic rule. The notion of eating an animal that was killed according to the laws of Islamic jurisprudence is similar to the law followed by Jews, where they only eat kosher meat that was killed according to Jewish law. Therefore, if a product contains ingredients taken from animals killed according to Islamic law, the consumption of these products is totally legit, allowed and acceptable. In addition, it should be noted that any product, which contains ingredients taken from pork is completely prohibited and forbidden, as pork is one of the primary prohibited products in Islam.

The products that can contain ingredients taken from animals are:

  • Cheese (especially cheddar cheese products)
  • Chips (chips with cheddar cheese, beef, chicken, pork flavours)
  • Jellow
  • Gravy (Beef, Chicken, Pork)
  • Cereal Products
  • Salad Dressings
  • Juices
  • Milk Shakes & smoothies
  • Yogurts
  • Packaged and canned food
  • Marshmallow
  • Candies
  • Processed foods
  • Margarine and some pastries

Whether a Muslim, a vegan or someone, who is against any type of animal cruelty, the following ingredients are extracted from animals. However, some of these ingredients are taken from plans and vegetables, which will be the responsibility of the consumer to contact the producers and clarify the source of the ingredients.

  • Lard (This is an ingredients, which is fat taken from the abdomen of pigs)
  • Gelatin (a protein taken from bones, cartilage, tendons and skins of animals)
  • Glucose (animal tissues and fluids. However, some glucose are extracted from fruits)
  • Glycerides (Mono – Di, this ingredient is taken from animal fats and plants)
  • Lactylic Stearate (Salt of stearic acid)
  • Lecithin (Phospholipids, which can be taken from animal tissues, plants and egg yolks)
  • Lutein (Deep yellow coloring from marigolds or egg yolks)
  • Oleic Acid (Animal Tallow)
  • Pepsin (an enzyme taken from pigs stomachs)
  • Stearic Acid (Tallow and other animal fats or oils)
  • Suet (Hard white fats around the kidneys and loins of animals)
  • Tallow (solid fat from ships and cattle separated from membranous tissues)
  • Glycin (taken from Gelatin)
  • Cholic Acid (taken from beef)
  • Riboflavin (since the isolation of this ingredient is very expensive from milk, many producers take this ingredient from organisms, which can be from animals)

In addition, some producers use codes and numbers to disclose the ingredients used in their products, which also becomes the responsibility of consumers to contact producers and determine, whether the ingredients are taken from animal or not. As far as whip cream, frosting and similar products, some contain Vanilla extract, which is believed to contain alcoholic ingredients. Therefore, it would be best to contact the producer of Vanilla Extract and ask them about this matter as well.

The information provided in this article seem to be over whelming and ‘too much’, as some might think, but the benefit of living in the west lays in the ability of accessing the producers and them answering honestly. This issue is not exclusive to Muslims, as there are many individuals and groups, who refrain from any product that contains animalistic ingredients, which becomes the responsibility of all producers to be transparent about their products and their ingredients. Therefore, taking few minutes to contact the producers and making sure the products we consume are ‘Halal’ and legit will help us in many ways beyond our expectations.

Why is ISIS still able to recruit fighters from around the globe?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Many western countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France are investing heavily to identify the reasons behind the recent rising numbers of foreign national joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It is very strange and shocking for many observers to see young people, who were born in the west, are easily putting behind the glamorous pleasures and facilities, to join fighting alongside terrorists against their own countries. Many of these youths have been raised and educated in western societies, and some of them have never even stepped foot in the Middle East, let alone having this type of coherent connection and sympathy. In addition, the youths within Muslims societies are still joining ISIS fighters as well, although they are witnessing the great amount destruction caused by this group, and the vast numbers of victims. Therefore, the question, which arises before these realities is, why is ISIS still able to recruit fighters from around the globe?

Political Struggles:

The primary political justification used by almost all terrorist organization is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its current stalled state of settlement. One of the most important twinges that moves and triggers the emotions of Muslims, is the issue of Palestine, which some Islamic writers call it ‘the wound of Islamic nation’. In addition, the inability of Arab and Muslim leaders to resolve this issue, has given the radical groups the legitimate argument, which they can use for marketing their fundamentalist ideology. Liberating Palestine from the ‘Jews’ and their ‘affiliates’ can be a very catchy slogan for many passionate Muslims, who are witnessing their state leaders talking about normalizing relations with Israel, or penalizing Palestinian politicians.  Therefore, convincing a random Muslim from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other places, about the necessity of taking initiative for liberating Palestine, would not be a hard task.

This type of reality was witnessed in Iraq and even in some cases in Syria as well. There are numerous video footage released by the Iraqi government, which show the confessions of detained terrorists. The terrorist in these footages are asked: what are you doing in Iraq, and the reply is: we are not in Iraq, we came to liberate Palestine and we are in Palestine and you are Jews and Israelis.

Economic Struggles:

The economic hardships and struggles are the means for creation of a fundamental environment, as these hardships often prevent people from achieving their goals and future plans. Therefore, if no help and hope is presented for these groups and individuals, they become secluded and they marginalize themselves. In addition, after a while these groups and individuals start blaming the entire society and whomever, doesn’t share their afflictions and struggles for their failures and mis-achievements. Ultimately, these types of groups are easily exposed and welcoming to any type of ideology, which offers them legitimacy for their punitive and vengeful desires. Therefore, whether in the west or Muslim countries, we witness that even though some of these individuals are not recruited by ISIS, they choose to carry out a mission on their own and pledge allegiance to groups like ISIS and others.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that ISIS, unlike any other terrorist groups, considers itself a ‘STATE’, and it has done some of the most unorthodox and vicious acts of terrorism to assert and affirm this notion. This new reality, has even prompted some political observers to introduce the concept of soft-terrorist for groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban, who have never committed some the crimes carried by ISIS. ISIS, calls itself a state, and even recruitment methods by recruiters are based on this fundamental, which enable them to promise and facilitate many amenities and desires for their fighters, when they are recruited. Many ISIS fighters are promised lands, properties, wives, concubines, slaves and privileges that are out of the reach of most random people, which makes the thought of fighting alongside other Muslims for the sake of a proposed (ideal nation), according to ISIS principles very appealing for them. Therefore, a random ISIS fighter comes to a conclusion that he has secured his materialistic life, through Jihad for the sake of elevating the flag of Islam.

Hate Preachers:

The social media renaissance, as some sociologists like to call it, has been like a double sided blade, which has helped many oppressed nations to deliver their struggles to the outside world, and also for many fundamentals to preach and spread their corrupt ideologies. Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter have been the best ground-zero for many Wahhabi and radical scholars to express their ideology and fundamentalist views freely. These modern types of communication, are easily accessed and used, which enables these scholars to transfer their opinions globally and makes their thoughts and opinion globally accessible as well. Therefore, even a flagged Salafi or Wahhabi scholar doesn’t have to travel thousands of Kilometres to Europe, Africa, North America and other places to directly express his opinions and ideology.

These scholars, use their fundamentalist ideology, as the religious legitimacy and the political and economic struggles as the baits for authenticating their claims for the necessities and priorities they preach for. Israeli – Palestinian conflict, Western presence in the Middle East, corrupt Middle Eastern leaders and governments, economic hardships, inflations, unemployment and most importantly ignorance are the perfect tools for convincing many of those young fighters, who join a group like ISIS.

Religious intolerance

This notion is directly linked to the social conduct of many Sunni societies of the Middle East region, which has developed many intolerant citizens in general. Although, this notion is not exclusive to Sunni societies, as some Shia societies have experiences similar development and conduct, but this reality is vastly witnessed and developed in the Sunni societies. A random Muslim is intolerant toward the simplest matters within his/her family, friends, surrounding circles, which will reflect directly on his/her religious belief as well.

Unfortunately, intolerance and rejection of others has been infiltrated into the minds of many Sunni Muslims, through their educational systems. It is very normal to see a grade five religious studies curriculum, presents Shias, Druz and other religious minorities as infidels, and the punishment of an infidel is death. It is very normal to witness the same curriculum portrays the Prophet of Islam as a blood thirsty individual, who used sword and coercion for spreading his religion in Arabia. These types of intolerant ideologies are sufficient to rip the social fabric of any society, and ruin any sort of co-existence among the members of that society, which will ultimately lead to the existence of a group like ISIS.

How did Imam Ali interact and deal with the three Caliphs? Part -3

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The previous part of this article identified some of the most direct and clear statements and actions adopted by Imam Ali toward the Abu Bakr and Omar to express his refusal and rejection to their policies and position in Islam. Especially the sermon of Imam Ali that is known as ‘the Shaqshaqiya Sermon’ was a speech, where Imam Ali directly expressed his opinion and position about the three Caliphs without any allegories or illusions that might be misused in the future. Therefore, this part will continue in presenting the other incidents and cases Imam Ali expressed his rejection to the rule of the three Caliphs.

Moving to Kufa

Although, the transfer of Islamic Empire capital to Kufa is viewed as a strategic decision by Imam Ali, as he intended to secure smooth mobilizing for any possible battles and confrontations. Securing the Northern borders (Constantinople), Eastern borders (Persia) and Western borders (Syria) was the primary intention of Imam Ali, as he knew the situation in Mecca and Medina is stable and will remain stable for many obvious reasons.

However, the other reason behind Imam Ali’s decision to transfer the capital to Kufa lays within the fact that this city was resided by some of the most loyal tribes to Imam Ali and the holy household of Prophet Mohammad. In addition, majority of these tribes were considered rejecters of the three Caliphs, as their loyalty to Imam Ali was known and public to all and without any hesitation. Therefore, Imam Ali wanted to be surrounded by people that he could trust and have at his disposal in case he needed them for greater purposes.

In addition, Imam Ali’s moving to Kufa is viewed as a statement, which indicates, he does not want to be shadowed by the legacy of the previous Caliphs, as Mecca and Medina were filled with sympathizers and loyal groups to the three Caliphs. The Umayyad Clan in Mecca and Medina, the presence of Ayesha (daughter of Abu Bakr) in Medina and the fact that Othman was assassinated in Medina, made this city an unbearable place to consider for governing the Islamic Empire. In addition, Imam Ali wanted to show Muslims, what it would be like to implement his plans and just policies, as Kufa was the perfect ground-zero for the initiation for these plans.

The four years and eight months, which Imam Ali had as the Caliph of Muslims, is known to be the most prosperous and transparent era, Muslims have ever experienced. Sanitation, welfare system, housing projects, equal share from the treasury, excellent and unequal justice system and many other services or privileges, which humanity had never experienced, were among the accomplishments of Imam Ali. According to many historians and narrations from that period, the era of Imam Ali was one of the only times, where the Islamic nation did not witness homelessness and other social struggles. Therefore, if Imam Ali, had decided to stay in Medina, these goals would not be witnessed and experienced, as Imam Ali would not have enough loyal manpower and personnel to implement these reforms and programs on the ground.

Burial of Othman Ibn Affan

It is unanimously agreed by all historians that Othman’s era was labeled with corruption, favoritism and disqualified administration, which overexerted the Muslims around the Islamic Empire. Unsecure loans and grants to individuals from the Umayyad clan, appointing incompetent individuals from the Umayyad clan as governors and Emirs in various provinces and cities, was the primary discomfort of the majority. In addition, rumors about some governors having multiple concubines for their pleasure was met with displacement and rejection in places like Kufa and Basra. For instance, the governor of Kufa during the time Othman, who was his half-brother, was a man named Walid Ibn Oqbah. Historians narrate that Walid came to Morning Prayer on several occasions while being completely drunk, or in another occasion he thought it would be humorous to send one of his concubines instead of him for prayer.

Therefore, these accretions built up and finally the citizens of Egypt and other marginalized provinces raided Medina and ultimately, Othman was assassinated by a group of them inside his palace. However, the action of Imam Ali in regard of Othman’s burial is very interesting and counts as another example for Imam Ali’s rejection of his predecessors.

Once Imam Ali was unanimously chosen by the Muslims as the Caliph, he ordered the body of Othman to be buried in graveyard of non-Muslims, and he did not allow Othman to be buried among Muslims in their graveyards. Othman’s grave remained outside of Muslim’s graveyards until the Al-Saud family took over the Arabian Peninsula and redesigned the entire places, where the entire graveyards were made into one massive one.

In addition, there are numerous other narrations and statements by Imam Ali, were he disapproved the previous Caliphs and considered them as illegitimate tyrants and rulers. According to one narration: a man came to Imam Ali and told him: I pledge allegiance to you based on the tradition of messenger of Allah and the legacy of the first three Caliphs. Imam Ali replied to him: I do not wish to have your allegiance, as the three Caliphs altered the tradition of messenger of Allah, and displaced the will of Allah, and extorted what was not theirs. In other narrations, Imam Ali answers a question about Omar by saying: May Allah punish Omar, as he oppressed stones and civility.

Are Science and Faith Finally Finding Common Ground?

By: Ali Reza

Science and faith have long been at odds with one another—or so the Western worldview would have us believe. In a dialogue that seems dominated by the loudmouths of the “New Atheist” movement on one side and the a largely Protestant religious contingency on the other, scientific thought and religious practices have been cast as incompatible with one another. But that may be changing—and we may have the Pope, of all people, to thank for it.

Shifting the Paradigm

Pope Francis is no stranger to great paradigm shifts, and even during his brief few years as the Pope he has generated plenty of headlines for upending the status quo. His critical comments regarding capitalism have rankled political conservatives, who long saw the Catholic Church as an ally; meanwhile, the Pope recently called for humans to resist breeding “like rabbits,” despite the Church’s longstanding principles against contraception.  But some of his most surprising comments come with regard to science. Though the established script tells us that religious leaders are supposed to be skeptical of science, Pope Francis actually seems to embrace it, and quotes scientific consensus with surprising liberality.

Case in point: In a recent encyclical on humanity and the environment, the Pope commented on environmental degradation not in purely moral terms, but in scientific ones—and his science was not only accurate but surprisingly precise. And, as if to challenge the more conservative attitude of dominance over nature, the Pope tied environmental exploitation to the plight of the poor. In doing so, he cast scientific understanding not only as desirable, but as a kind of moral imperative: If we want to do right by one another and by the planet we share, we must understand the science behind our world, and engineer more efficient ways of leveraging its resources.

Finding Common Ground

It seems as though Pope Francis’ great gift is locating common ground in a political environment that often denies such a thing even exists. In the United States, many conservatives are skeptical of climate change, believing in their God-given right to take full advantage of earth’s resources; environmentalists, meanwhile, believe the earth has intrinsic value and should be protected as such—an argument that sounds noble but often fails to consider human welfare.

What the Pope’s encyclical proved was that protecting the environment may be the best way to protect human welfare; in other words, he located common ground that allows us all to work together toward a more sustainable earth and a better future.

And if he can forge that kind of common ground between political conservatives and liberals, perhaps he can find common ground between religion and science. Indeed, the mere fact that the leader of the Catholic Church shows such obvious respect for science suggests that there may not be as much tension between the two as we are all conditioned to believe.

Certainly, there is historic precedent for a unity between science and religion. Though the contemporary debate hinges on tension between creationism and Darwinian evolution, the reality is that nothing in official Catholic dogma opposes the belief in evolution; literal, seven-day creationism is a much more recent Protestant invention that has only gained traction over the last few centuries.

But as for the Protestants, even many of them have historically taken up the cause of environmental stewardship, a cause rooted in scientific marvel and religious gratitude alike. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree,” commented the reformer Martin Luther—suggesting a deep respect for the earth and its care.

Minimizing the Conflict

It may be that science and religion can address the same truths—and moral imperatives—from different perspectives; that in fact, there is not as much conflict as we all seem to think there is.  It will not be easy for western culture to move into this new paradigm, but it is possible—and we have Pope Francis leading the way.

Righteous Path To Undesired Glory – 3

 

Shia Scholars in history – Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Al-Shirazi

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

This scholar departed this world in the twentieth century, but his legacy is ever lasting and according to a statement by Ayatollah Mara’ashi Al-Najafi (one of Shia Islam’s greatest scholars): This world will not know the worth of Sayed Mohammad Al-Shirazi for at least two hundred years. He is called the ‘king of authors’, as the books written by him have reached over 1400, in various topics and sciences. Ayatollah Shirazi, who passed away in 2001 descends from a long line of scholars and great Islamic figures, who have spent their entire life serving Islam and humanity in the best way possible. However, the story that will be narrated in this part will shed the light upon one of this man’s great morals and attributes, which shows the extent of selflessness, piety and modesty this man held. The story is actually narrated by my father, who was among Ayatollah Al-Shirazi’s close circle, and one of his pupils, during his years in Iran.

Consideration for the poor

According to the narrator, on one of the Fridays that we used to spend the time with my in-laws, I mentioned that Ayatollah Al-Shirazi has not tasted Fish for several years, although Doctors have suggested to him that he should eat Fish once in a while, since it holds many great benefits. The narrators says, once my mother in law heard this, she said: tomorrow she will go to the market and but Fish and cook it, and please come to pick it up and take it to his house for Ayatollah Al-Shirazi. My father agreed, and on the next day he picked up the Fish along with the side dishes my grandmother had prepared.

Once, he got to the house of Ayatollah Al-Shirazi, he headed straight for the room, which Ayatollah Al-Shirazi used for his private meetings, and placed the fish before him and said: this was prepared by my mother in law, as I told her about you not having fish for several years, and she insisted to prepare this for you specifically. Ayatollah Al-Shirazi was very disappointed and replied: I haven’t had fish in a long time for a reason, and please take this out, as I cannot accept it. My father replied: please, you have to accept this, plus fish is very good for your health, and many doctors have suggested it for you, or please tell me the reason for your refusal.

Ayatollah Al-Shirazi sighed and replied: in today’s market, fish is one of the most expensive items, which majority of people cannot afford, and if I eat fish, I cannot talk about patience and good morals to people, while I enjoy such an expensive meal. In addition, the odor of fish and then its disposal in the trash would be very evident, that in this day fish was served in my house, and meanwhile many people suffer to provide for their families and put food on the table for their dependents. Therefore, please take this fish out, and give to someone poor or hungry, who deserves it more than me, as I have already eaten lunch. In addition, have the people outside spray some air freshener, so there is no fish odor in the house and pathways. In addition, please don’t repeat this and never bring fish to my house, and if you hear someone intends to do the same thing, prevent them and don’t let them bring it here, as it might hurt the feelings of some poor people, who might be in my house.

14 years have passed since the death of this great man, and there are many untold similar stories from this great scholars that might not ever be told and known by people, but this specific story shows many aspects about the personality and consideration of Ayatollah Al-Shirazi.

  • Aytollah Al-Shirazi was aware of the present day Market and the prices of daily commodities and items, as he wanted to be fully aware about the hardships of the citizens. He wanted to be fully aware, if some poor man asked him: Do you know, what is the cost of this item, or that item? Do you know how expensive it is to provide meals for a family I these days? Ayatollah Al-Shirazi wanted to be part of the everyday struggles that majority of people were experiencing during those days, and enjoying the pleasures of life, whole other were suffering was not the proper way.
  • One of the most beautiful verses of the Quran states: “why do you say, what you don’t practice?” Ayatollah Al-Shirazi obviously, did not want to be among those who said, what they did not practice, as speaking about patience, modesty and piety is irrelevant, when one doesn’t practice them him/herself.
  • Consideration for people and their feelings was a priority for this man, as he did not want the odor of fish to be smelled in his house, since he knew that many unprivileged and needy individuals are the frequent visitors of his house. Therefore, smelling the odor of fish would remind them about many things and desires, which they cannot have during those hard economic conditions.
  • Although Ayatollah Al-Shirazi was a grand scholar and he was followed by millions around the world, and he had access to large amount of funds, he chose the life of an ordinary man, who had to experience the hardships of ordinary people. He knew that those funds at his disposal did not belong to him, and his responsibility dictated that he distribute them among the needy and disparate groups.

How did Imam Ali interact and deal with the three Caliphs? Part – 2

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The previous part of this article identified two specific incidents related to the behavior and position of Imam Ali and his wife (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) toward Abu Bakr and Omar, who were the first two Caliphs after the death of Prophet Mohammad. The first incident was in regarding the after math of the Door Incident and the attack of Abu Bakr and Omar along with their supporters on the house of Imam Ali. The second incident was the burial of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, and how Abu Bakr, Omar and whomever took part in the attack on her house was denied being part of that ceremony and her grave being hidden until present day.

This part will uncover other incidents and events that affirm the negative position of Imam Ali and other members of Prophet Mohammad’s holy household toward the three Caliphs and their legitimacy as leaders.

  • Imam Ali never pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Although majority of Sunni sources indicate that Imam Ali finally pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, and he became one of the main supporters of the system, the reality is otherwise, as according to many companions and later on historians, Imam Ali never pledged allegiance to them and refused to present any sort of legitimacy.

According to unanimous narrations by both groups (Shia & Sunni), after the attack on Imam Ali’s House, the Imam was tied and dragged to the mosque, as he was asked forcefully to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. Imam Ali refused and he was threatened to be killed, but since they knew killing the Imam is literally impossible and would cause more harm to their purpose, they decided to use another method. According to historians, Omar and others pulled the Imam toward Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr came toward the Imam, Omar pulled the hand of Imam Ali and placed Abu Bakr’s hand on top it and shouted O’ everyone, Ali pledged to the new Caliph.

Therefore, even during this tense and sensitive moments, Imam Ali refused to give any kind legitimacy to the new system, as he refused to pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr while saving the stability of his society.

  • Othman’s appointment to be the third Caliph.

The rejection of Imam Ali toward the conduct and legitimacy of Abu Bakr and Omar continued, as he abstained from interacting with them during their rule, and his intervention in the affairs of governance was only to secure the interests of Islam and prevent oppression upon innocent lives. However, once Omar was assassinated and it was clear that his days were numbered, he asked for the formation of a council with six prominent figures. Omar ordered the people of Medina to place these six figures in a room and give them three days to decided and choose from among themselves and if they don’t, they shall all be killed. The members of this council were:

  • Othman Ibn Affan
  • Imam Ali
  • Al-Zubair
  • Talha
  • Sa’ad Ibn Abi Waqas
  • Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf

According to narrations, the consensus of this council came to Imam Ali and Othman Ibn Affan, with the priority given to Imam Ali. However, Imam Ali was asked: will you accept the position of Caliph based on the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and conduct of the previous two Caliphs? Imam Ali replied: I accept the position only based on the traditions of Prophet Mohammad, and my own discretion and opinions. Therefore, the council refused his proposal and when Othman was asked the same question, he accepted the proposal and he was appointed the third Caliph after Abu Bakr and Omar.

The details and outcome of this council once again suggests that Imam Ali continued his rejection and negative position toward the two Caliphs and considered their conduct as illegitimate. Therefore, he proposed to accept the position based on the tradition of the Prophet and HIS OWN discretion, not he conduct and methodology of Abu Bakr and Omar.

  • The Shaqshaqia sermon.

This sermon is one of the speeches of Imam Ali that he gave during his Caliphate, which he expresses his opinion in a clear and direct approach toward the Caliphate of the three and how they extorted a right that was divinely his.

“Beware! By Allah, the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it.

Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death).

I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself.

It is strange that during his lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one after his death. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves. This one put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation.

Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, till when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of Caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! What had I to do with this “consultation”? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high.

One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder. With him his children of his grand-father, (Umayyah) also stood up swallowing up Allah’s wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostrate”.

 

To be Continued

 

 

How did Imam Ali interact and deal with the three Caliphs? Part – 1

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Certain attitude and behavior toward an individual, a group, an action or an ideology is sufficient to outline the position adopted toward them, as in many occasions words and direct statement are not even required. Therefore, for some groups, individuals or even carriers of a certain ideology sealing and securing the approval and content of important personalities and figures is essential, as this approval can be viewed and considered as legitimacy. The Islamic history is filled with contradictions and some facts that are far from reality, or what actually happened, since history is usually written and recorded by the victorious sides. However, there are events and incidents in Islam, which have outlined and identified some of the most controversial issues in a way that was not accepted by the regimes and rulers of Islamic empire, but yet the enormity of transmission and narrating the actual event was inevitable.

The early events in Islamic history after the death of Prophet Mohammad, are the essence and main criteria that distinguish the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. The extortion of Caliphate from the rightful Caliph (Imam Ali), according to Shia Islam, is the reason behind the division within Islam, as the direct order of God and his messenger was abandoned and Muslims neglected their own Prophet. In addition, Sunni Islam believes that Prophet Mohammad did not appoint a successor and it was the responsibility of Muslims to choose the successor of Prophet from among them.

However, the question that arises alongside many other wonderings about this specific era is: if Prophet Mohammad did not appoint a successor, then why was it imperative for the first three Caliphs to seek the approval of Imam Ali and Prophet Mohammad’s holy household? In addition, the rejection of Imam Ali and his wife (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) daughter of Prophet Mohammad toward the decisions made by those groups was made public. Therefore, why would the household of Prophet Mohammad take that path, as if they were wrong the three Caliphs were not responsible for seeking their approval, and if they were right, then why did the three Caliphs take what was not theirs?

Mainstream Sunni Islam, has invented its own version of Prophet Mohammad’s household, and their history books have portrayed the household of Prophet Mohammad, as individuals, who were fully supporting the Caliphs and the decisions taken by them. There are numerous narrations by several Sunni scholars that claim, Imam Ali was fully cooperative with them, and he even let Omar marry one of his daughters. Nonetheless, there are several other narrations recorded by Shia and Sunni historians that completely neglect these claims and place a question mark around the notion of Imam Ali’s attitude, behavior and position toward those figures.

  • Lady Fatima Al-Zahra & her position toward Abu Bakr and Omar:

It is narrated by several Sunni and Shia sources that after the Door Incident, where Omar and his clan attacked the house of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, they (Abu Bakr & Omar) came to Imam Ali and asked him to arrange meeting with Lady Fatima. Lady Fatima Al-Zahra refused the notion, but she told Imam Ali: if you see any purpose in having them here, then I shall fulfill your wish and accept them. Abu Bakr and Omar came to Imam Ali’s house, and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra spoke to them from behind the wall and the conversation goes as follow:

Lady Fatima: Did you not hear my father (Prophet Mohammad) say that Fatima is a piece of my heart. Whomever harms her has harmed me and whomever harms me, has harmed Allah? They replied: we swear to Allah, we heard the messenger of Allah state that. Lady Fatima: I swear to Allah, you have infuriated me and harmed me. Therefore, I shall meet my father and Allah in the next world, and tell them about my afflictions caused by you.

This conversation and the narrations within it, which are accepted by all Muslims, clearly indicate that the daughter of Prophet Mohammad and wife of Imam Ali, left this world, while being dissatisfied by Abu Bakr and Omar. In addition, the famous Sunni scholar Al-Bukhari narrates that: She (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) passed away and she was dissatisfied from Abu Bakr and Omar.

  1. Lady Fatima Al-Zahra burial & Absence of Abu Bakr and Omar along with, whomever attacked the house of Imam Ali.

This notion is another fact that is accepted and acknowledged by all Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia, as everyone acknowledges that Imam Ali did not let Abu Bakr, Omar and many others to join the burial of his wife, Lady Fatima Al-Zahra. According to narrations by Salim Ibn Qias, who is one of the authors and historians of early Islamic era: The only people, who attended the burial of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra were five or seven, as only couple of Imam Ali’s close pupils and companions along with his children Imam Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein were present in those sad moments. According to narrations by Imam Ali, this was the command and final will of Lady Fatima herself, as she requested and told Imam Ali: Please bury me at night, when no one is present. Don’t let any of those who attacked my house and extorted your right join my burial. Don’t let anyone know about where my grave is.

In addition, other sources narrate, the following morning, when the Muslims realized Lady Fatima has been buried in secrecy, Abu Bakr and Omar decided to disinter the graves and rebury the daughter of Prophet Mohammad themselves. However, this attempt was stopped by Imam Ali, as he pulled his sword and said: whomever, touches one of the graves, that would be the last day in his life, as you all knew about the Prophet’s will that commanded me to stay calm in the face of all you have done. This time, there is no will and command, and I shall honor the will of Prophet’s daughter, and her grave will remain unknown.

These incidents also record some of the direct encounters between Imam Ali and the three Caliphs during the early stages of Islamic history, where he clearly expressed his rejection and refusal to accept their rule and derived any possible legitimacy they were seeking to attain from him.

To be continued

Elections & Muslim communities in the west

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The political scene of North America is currently overwhelmed by election campaigns and news coverage of candidates every move, speech, word and statement about any issue, whether it is relevant to the elections or not. The US primary elections are the preliminary stage for a general election in 2016 and the federal election in Canada is being held on October 19th of this year. Regardless of the nature of these two countries political nature and governance system, the issue that is being addressed in this article is related to Muslim participation in these elections and the possible outcomes for them as communities.

Islamic institutions & civil societies

Although there are numerous institutions and organization active on behalf of Muslims in US and Canada, the Muslim votes have been less considered as an influential factor in swaying the results in favor of a certain candidate. However, this is not an attempt to undermine the efforts and hard work that some of these institutions have placed for the benefit of Muslims communities, but reality indicates that many candidates are still hesitant to collaborate with these communities. Nonetheless, if there are cases, where candidates have sought the support of Muslims communities, it was due to their vast numbers in certain areas and municipalities. Therefore, the notion of Muslim votes have not transferred into a matter like the Hispanic votes or African American votes in the United States, and it is still limited to certain cities and constituencies.

In addition, the numbers of Muslim are rapidly increasing and their presence is becoming further more influential in their societies, as many of them are effective and active members with exquisite expertise and capabilities. Therefore, it would in the benefit of all Muslim societies to invest in this growth and become an effective force in the political platform of these countries to secure their rights and prevent limitations based on the actions of few scattered rouge elements.

However, it must be acknowledged that majority of the Islamic institutions and organizations are still involved in matters that are related to constitutional violations of Muslim citizens or addressing Islamophobic concerns. Therefore, unifying the Muslim communities is currently far beyond their capabilities and ability, as it requires large amount of funds and manpower.

Islamic societies & Political involvement

Majority of Muslim communities residing in the United States and Canada are relatively new generations of immigrants, as their diaspora to this part of the world dates back to the early 90s of twentieth century. Therefore, their priorities and primary objectives are majorly related to economic and social stability, which were the primary reason behind their migration to this part of the world. In addition, due to the various types of services and privileges offered in the west, majority of Muslims tend to accept the western system as a whole, without any consideration to who or which party is in power. Nonetheless, the previous experiences in their original countries with political systems, which usually had been very fatal and unpleasant, makes them very hesitant toward any political activity. This notion is not related to the west at all, as it is entirely psychological and an unconcerned tendency toward politics and officials has been created by the repression and inhibition they had to experience for many years.

Solutions & strategic steps toward influence

The primary step toward forming a unified entity that can attract any candidate, whether in the US, Canada or anywhere else in the western world, is a responsibility shared by the institutions / organizations and the Muslim communities.

The institutions and organizations must focus on establishing lobbies and organizations with political agendas linked to the needs, necessities and priorities of Muslim communities. The numbers of Muslims students and experts in political and social science fields are in constant rise, and these individuals are able to create a political platform that suits the Muslim communities in the west, while honoring the common values and principles of these countries. In addition, the terminology and mentality used by these experts and organizations is more capable of mobilizing the Muslim communities to realize they can become a changing factor in any democratic electoral system.

The Muslims must accept that free and transparent election is the notion that makes a democracy a democracy, and their past experiences should be placed in the past and never be a factor in their decision to be part of this democratic process. Political contributions in the form of donations and volunteering are the essential steps that could make a difference in these systems, and taking part in this process is a mean of reaffirming their citizenship and strengthening their co-existential bonds with other communities.

Righteous Path to Undesired Glory – Part 2

Shia Scholars in history – Sayed Mohammad Baqir Mir Damad

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The story of this Sayed Mohammad Baqir Mir Damad is one of the astonishing stories in the history of Shia Islam, which shows that modesty, piety and chastity can elevate the lowest citizen to the highest status possible. As mentioned in the last story of Shia scholars in history series, these men placed fear of God and his satisfaction their primary goal and purpose in all actions and conducts. Therefore, we witness that although they were not political leaders or wealthy, they were highly respected in their societies and are still remembered and glorified until current time.

The King’s Daughter & Sayed Mir Damad

It is narrated that one of the Safavid Kings, who had a daughter, ordered his guards to accompany his daughter to the Market, as she wanted to witness and observe the life outside of Palace walls. This girl left the palace along with several guards and cruised through markets of Isfahan, and every time she was told by her aids that it was time to return, she would object and ask to stay out longer. Apparently, due to a dispute among some traders and customers a fight broke out in the market and the entire place was in chaos. Therefore, during that chaos the king’s daughter lost her way and without knowing the proper direction to the palace, started wondering in the allies of Isfahan. The sun was about to descend, and the roads were getting darker and less people were being seen outside.

The guards were still looking for the King’s daughter, as they knew upon returning to the palace without her, sever punishment would be awaiting for them. Therefore, search crews were dispatched in the entire city. The king’s daughter was very afraid, as it was dark by then and she had no idea of how to get back to the palace. As she was walking in the allies, she saw a religious seminary and the door was open. She thought it would be wise to enter there and ask for help or protection, as she was daughter of the king along with everything that someone like here would possess from jewelry and beauty.

Once she entered the seminary, she noticed that all lights were switched off and it seemed like everyone was either out or already in bed. However, she noticed that one of the room in the far corner had a light, which revived hope in her heart, although she was still very afraid and hesitant. She walked toward the room, and knocked on the door. A young man opened the door and once he saw the girl, he was in shock. This was a religious seminary and no woman had ever stepped foot in that place. In addition, it was night, there was no one around and the girl was beautiful and it was obvious she was from a wealthy family. He lowered his gaze and asked: how can I help you, and what are you doing here? She replied: I am not from here and I am lost and don’t know how to get back to my house, I need a place to stay and I shall leave first thing in the morning.

The young man had no choice, as he knew the girl was in desperate situation, and she would not even know how to direct him to her house, if he decides to take her. Therefore, he said: fine, you can stay in my room until morning, but you have to leave upon sunrise. The girl agreed and entered the room.

Once the girl entered the room, she realized the young man is very poor, as he only had a candle and a very old and thin sponge mattress, along with some cups and a plate for food. However, the room was filled with books and papers everywhere. Although she was safe from any danger outside, but she still feared that, this situation is not any better than being alone outside, as this man is able to do anything to her, especially that no one was around and no one would hear her if she screams for help. Therefore, she could not rest her eyes, and she was alert the entire time.

However, she noticed that the young man turned toward the wall and placed the candle beside him and went back to his books and studies, and did not even turn back or tried to take a peak. The girl was very tired and sleepy, but fear and anxiety was forcing sleeping out of her eyes. All of the sudden, she noticed the young man moved and placed one of his finger on the candle fire for several seconds, and went back to his studies. This incident was repeated for ten times, which meant the young man had burnt all of his ten fingers and his was in severe pain, but he did not complain and did not even move from his place. Finally the sun was out and day light was apparent once again. The young girl, heard the sound of drums and horns from the allies and nearby streets, and she knew the guards were looking for her. Therefore, she got up, thanked the young man and quickly left the room and the seminary. As soon as she guards saw her, they surrounded her and accompanied her back to the palace.

The king was happy that his daughter was safe and back in the palace, but he was eager to know about the night and if anyone harmed his daughter and where she spent the entire night. The king summoned his daughter and asked her to narrate the entire story, from the time she got lost in the market, until she was found by the guards in the next morning. The daughter narrated every single detail and how she was in a seminary, inside a young student’s room, and she also told her father about the candle incident and how she was the young man burning all of his ten fingers.

The king was very curious and wanted to know the rationale behind that man’s action, and he also wanted to thank him for his service and loyalty. Therefore, he commanded his guards to summon the young man to his palace, and bringing him as soon as possible, without any delay. The guards returned to that neighborhood, they entered the school and went directly for the room the king’s daughter told them about in the far corner of the seminary courtyard. The guards knocked on the door and when the young man opened the door, he was told that the king summons him at that moment and he had to accompany the guards to the palace.
The young man was very nervous and during the way to palace, he was wondering about, what the king would want from him, as he had never seen the king or anyone from the elite class. The young man was escorted to the main royal hall, and he was told to wait there until the king arrives. Anxiety, fear but at the same time certainty was very evident on his face, but wonderings were still striking him. Finally the king arrived and the young man lowered his gaze once again, and did not say a word.

The king started by greeting him, and then directly told the young man to show him his fingers. The young man was astonished that how would the king know about his fingers, but he had no choice other than showing them to the king. He brought his hand forward and showed his fingers to the king. The king was shocked by the wounds and the amount of pain this man could have suffered that night, but he acted normal and asked him: what happened to them? The young man replied: your majesty, nothing important that is worth mentioning, I am at your service and ready to listen to your commands. The king replied: I just need to know the story about how did this happen to your fingers.

The young man, had no choice and narrated the entire story and how that girl sought help from his at night. Therefore, once he was in the room alone with her, his desires and evil thoughts started infiltrating to his minds. He said: I was thinking, this is a beautiful girl, and she is alone and she will not even know how to come back here. Therefore, it would be a good opportunity to take advantage of her and kick her out later. He continued: but, right away I remembered that even if no one was around to witness my crime the almighty is always our witness and if I evade punishment in this world, how would I evade punishment in the other world? Therefore, every time rouge and deceitful thoughts came to my mind, I placed one of my finger on the candle fire to remind myself of hell fire and the great punishment my lord would have for me. Once the morning arrived, I had burned all of my ten fingers and I thanked my God that I passed the exam, and the girl also left the school.

The king was astonished and amazed by the honesty and chastity of this young man, and asked him: what is your name and do you know who that girl was? The young man replied: my name is Sayed Mohammad Baqir and I don’t know, who the girl was.

The king said: Sayed Mohammad Baqir, the girl you protected and sheltered was my daughter and the princess of this palace, and it would be an honor for me, if you accept to be my son in law. Sayed Mohammad Baqir was shocked and speechless, as he didn’t know how to reply or what to reply. The king insisted that he accepts the proposal and no one is more worthy of being the groom for his daughter than him.
Sayed Mohammad Baqir became the king’s son in law and he was given the label: Mir Damad. (Mir means prince and Damad means groom in Persian). Today, after centuries this story is still being narrated by many speakers and scholars to young men about the importance of making the right choice and placing God before all actions and conducts.

Illegitimate means for Rightful Purposes

Deceit and trickery to achieve glory

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

There is a famous quote that many tend to consider as a degrading approach, but yet adopted by majority of people, as a way to accomplish goals and purposes with minimal efforts and difficulties. The quote is: The purpose justifies the mean.  In addition, there is a narration by Prophet Mohammad, which affirms this notion, which also places the axis for all actions the satisfaction of God that says: “God is not worshiped through what he is disobeyed at”.

Most of us remember the cartoon that aired during our childhood, which showed a Fox named Robin Hood, stealing from the wealthy and providing for the needy. The movie portrayed Robin Hood as an honorable character, know cared only for the needy, and portrayed the Lion (King Richard’s – Lion’s Heart – Brother) as a criminal and stooge, who only cared for accumulating more wealth. Although, many of us might agree that Robin Hood deserved praise for the gesture and the Lion (Prince John) deserved a harsher end, we cannot ignore the fact that the Robin Hood’s mean was illegitimate. Therefore, the same philosophy that was used for accomplishing rightful purposes, was used for achieving deceitful and demeaning purposes through any mean.

Unfortunately, this type of philosophy has infiltrated to the minds and tendencies of bright individuals, who supported honorable causes and purposes like personal liberties and worth of each human for instance. For instance, one of the most honored men on the face of this planet, who passed away not long ago, used this philosophy during his struggles to achieve his purpose. Nelson Mandela, the famous South African President and fighter against the Apartheids, is believed to be the man behind ending that dark era in South Africa’s history. However, one of the facts that are hidden from many people are:

  • Mandela was the head of Um Khonto we Sizwe (MK) the terrorist wing of the ANC and South American Communist Party. During his trial, Mandela pleaded guilty to over 150 counts of public violence acts, including mobilising bombing campaigns in public places, including Johannesburg Railway Station. During these terrorist acts, many innocent people including children and women lost their lives.
  • Mandela spend billions in defence & military expenditure, when his citizens needed those funds the most. Although rationality would dictate majority of the funds to be spent on the imbalances caused by the Apartheids, but reality and revealed otherwise, as Mandela and his regime places national corporatism, power and prestige above their people.
  • Mandela was very friendly with dictators and criminals in power. The man, who spend many years in prison for a cause that is viewed honorable and respectful in the eyes of many people, was a close friend to many dictators, tyrants and criminals in power. Individuals like, Gadhafi of Libya, General Sani Abacha of Nigeria and President Suharto of Indonesia are among the close friends of Mandela. This friendship and relation gotten to a point, where Mandela absolutely refused and rejected any sort of condemnation against those individuals.

These types of actions and conducts were adopted many other (freedom fighters), who were struggling for certain causes and purposes they held high and important. Among those groups were some Islamic groups that carried hijacking of planes, hostage takings and bombings in public places, where many innocent lives were lost. Although some of the purposes and causes of these groups were legit and authentic in nature, as they were facing vicious tyrants and dictatorships, but the committing crimes to cause disturbance and instability would never be legitimate. Carrying out such actions and crimes, puts these groups in the same cell with the people they are fighting against, which diminishes their legitimacy and any future guarantee that they would not become tyrants as well.

This concept applies on larger scales as well, where the world witnesses torture methods and renditions to extract information from possible terrorists, forgetting that any information taken by torture holds no value. Although, the rationale behind such action was notions such as, national security and saving innocent lives, the same type of criminal conduct was used against those terrorists. Therefore, if there was ever any chance that one of those terrorists would repent or cooperate, being subjected to such pain and degrading would repel them from ever thinking about repenting, if not make them think about vengeance and causing more harm.

Standing by ideals and honoring principles is what distinguishes between good and evil. Evil would never honor principles and ideals, as achieving the purpose and the goal is the ultimate desired result, where good is good for its honoring of principles and ideals. The path to glory and achieving prosperity and stability is paved with hardships and obstacles, and overcoming those hardships and obstacles is the price that makes achieving the goal worthy of adherence and pride.