Lessons from the Tragedy of Karbala

By: M.K

The tragedy of Karbala left the Islamic World with valuable lessons to reflect upon. The battle in Karbala took place in 60 Hijri when Imam Hussain (a.s) and his followers sacrificed everything they possessed dear for the sole sake of God. The opposing party, namely the Umayyads with the tyrant ruler, Yazid shed innocent blood on the land of Altaf (Karbala) for fulfillment of selfish motives that neither obeyed nor followed any religious teachings of the Apostle of God. Therefore, there can be many lessons that can be learned from the eloquent portrayal of dignity, sovereignty, patience and love for God that was displayed by the sacrifices of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) and his followers on the battlefield.

The first lesson involves importance that is given to Amr Bil Maroof (Enjoining Good) and Nahi Anil Munkar (Forbidding Evil). We are taught not to waiver from what is right and not panic during discharge of obligations. A believer must be firmly ready to face the consequences of his actions on the Day of Judgment as well as in the Hereafter. This also means that a believer must know and discharge only those duties that are within his capacity to carry out as that is what he will be accountable for. The results must be left to God.

  • Karbala sheds light on the importance of learning Fiqh (Islamic practical laws). And this is observed from a scene with Lady Zainab (a.s). Lady Zainab (a.s) asked the Imam of the time (a.s) for edict even as the tents had been set on fire.
  • We learn that importance has also been laid on spouse selection and religious upbringing of children. Two events can be described here. Firstly, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) chose Lady Ummul Banin as his wife and the pious marital union resulted in a progeny like Hazrat Abbas (a.s) [brother of Imam Hussain (a.s)]. Secondly, Imam Hussain (a.s) addressed the Ummayad troops; It was the fault of their forefathers that impacted the Ummayad troops’ upbringing and made them fight against the nephew of Allah’s Apostle. Furthermore, adding to the point about spouse selection, husband-wife relations have also been stressed. The Imam (a.s) was heard saying that he did not like a house that was devoid of Rabab and Sakina. Therefore, the wife is to be a ‘peace’ source for the husband.
  • It is important to learn ilm (knowledge). This is so that our lives can be led as per our Creator’s will. Ziyarat Arbaeen eloquently describes Imam’s (a.s) sacrifice, “I give witness that the entire purpose of the total sacrifice was saving people from ignorance.”
  • The event teaches believers the importance of Ikhlas. This means that the believer must do all of his duties for the sake of Allah only without Riya (showing off) involved. Therefore, the Aqaed (belief) in the Hereafter should be strong and this is when one can truly sacrifice material pleasures for achieving permanent benefits of the Hereafter.
  • Having control over emotions has also been stressed. The event teaches us that we should control our emotions when acting for God’s sake. This is not to say that human beings must be prevented from expressing their emotions but rather, a believer must do so without comprising on the actions that are required for God’s sake.
  • For women, observation of Hijab (head covering) is undoubtedly another important lesson taught by the events in Karbala. The pious ladies from the family of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) were always witnessed covered from the eyes of non-mahrem until the Ummayd’s dhulm (cruelty/oppression) pulled away their Hijab on the 10th of Muharram.
  • Lastly, Karbala teaches us to submit to the will of Allah at all times and in all states. For instance, Imam Hussain (a.s) was seen offering sajda (prostration) of shukr (thanks) in all times of difficulty.

Sources:

http://www.duas.org/Moharram/lesson_from_kerbala__1.htm

http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=3846

Imam Ali Ibn Al Hussain, Zainul Abedeen (a.s) – A Brief Biographical & Historical Overview

The Shi’ite Imam, Ali Ibn Al Hussain Zainul Abedeen (a.s) was born on 5th Shabaan (year 38 of Hijra) to Imam Hussain (a.s), the third Shi’ite Imam and Shahr Bano, the daughter of King Yazdjerd III who was the last Sasanid persian emperor. Imam Zainul Abedeen’s (a.s) first two years of infancy were spent in the lap of his grandfather, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) and the following twelve years were spent with his uncle, Imam Hasan (a.s). In 60 Hijri, his father, Imam Hussain (a.s) left Medina for Mecca in order to carry out the journey to Karbala. And, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s) accompanied his father for this journey. In Karbala, all male children of Imam Ali (a.s) and Hussain (a.s) were martyred with the exception of Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s) who survived the massacre due to not being able to participate in the holy war (jihad) as a result of being ill. Imammate had to continue and so, on 10th Muharram (61 Hijri), he became the fourth Imam.

The brutality of the oppressive Ummayad ruler, Yazid had Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s) being taken as captive and brought to Kufa, and then Damascus in chains along with other Karbala survivors. It is worth looking into the dialogue between the Imam (a.s) and Yazid post-Karbala tragedy. When Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s) faced Yazid in his court, Yazid insulted him by saying that the Imam’s father, Hussain (a.s) had wasted his life by refusing to pledge allegiance to Yazid. However, despite being ill and confronting this manner of humiliation by the Ummayad ruler, the Imam (a.s) replied that his father’s sacrifice in Karbala was for the sake of saving the religion of Islam. To this, Yazid wondered how Islam had been saved and once the time for prayer had set in, the Adhan came and a Muezzin called out from the minaret (mosque tower), “I bear witness that Muhammad (s) is the Messenger of Allah.” The Imam (a.s) then said to Yazid, “This is the way Islam was saved.” Yazid ordered his swordsmen to murder the young Imam (a.s), however he was saved again by the intervention of his aunt, Zainab (a.s). Yazid’s cruelty did not stop here however and the Imam (a.s) along with his family (a.s) was imprisoned thereafter for a year. Consequently, the Imam (a.s) spent his first year of Imammate in a prison where he was cut off from the followers of his father and unable to carry out his religious affairs.

Holy Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s) lived for thirty-four years after the martyrdom of his father, Hussain (a.s). And throughout his life, he established a meritorious status, which was true of a divine infallible. Most of his time was spent praying and supplicating to God and for this reason, he acquired the title of ‘Sajjad’ (Worshipper of Allah). These prayers and supplications were later compiled into a book by his companions, which was named ‘Al Saheefa el Sajjadiya.’ During the reign of the Ummayad ruler, Quranic teachings and those taught by the Prophet’s (s) family (a.s) were not allowed. Therefore, via supplications, the followers of Imam (a.s) learned about the relationship between God and His people. Enhancement of knowledge about God cannot occur in ordinary language but in the language of prayer, man is able to relate himself to his Creator in humility.

Imam Zainul Abeeden’s (a.s) spent his entire life helping people of Medina. He was witnessed stepping out into the night with a sack of bread to feed the hungry. Those people never found out the identity of their helper until after the Imam (a.s) passed away. His account for pilgrimages in the holy city of Mecca is admirable as well for all believers. In his lifetime, he performed thirty pilgrimages after the Karbala event, sometimes on a camel’s back and other times, solely on foot. In addition, his life after the massacres in Karbala was spent in grief. He was seen weeping and crying for the atrocities that had been committed to his family members. In fact, it is said that sometimes when he would fill a glass with water to drink, the water would soil with his tears so much that he was unable to drink it. When people asked him why he wept profusely, the Imam (a.s) replied that the Ahlul-bayt (a.s) have got martyrdom in their inheritance.

The Imam (a.s) and his aunt, Zainab (a.s) held gatherings (Majlis) in the city of Medina to spread awareness among the people about the tragedies that took place in Karbala. This method threatened the Ummayad’s cruel regime as people became more aware of Yazid’s heinous acts and the message of Imam’s (a.s) father, Hussain (a.s). And so, the Imam suffered a death via poisoning and passed away on 25th of Muharram (95 Hijri).

Sources:

http://www.al-islam.org/story-of-the-holy-kaaba-and-its-people-shabbar/fourth-imam-ali-ibn-al-husayn-zainul-abedeen

http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=2726

 

Hadiths: (1) Lamentation for Imam Hussain (a.s)- (2) Words of wisdom by Imam Hussain (a.s)

By: M.K

(1) The sacred significance of Imam Hussain (a.s) has been mentioned in many hadith, some of which will be explored in the following article. The Holy Prophet (s) has said that, “Those people from amongst my ummah, who memorize forty traditions pertaining to those issues of religion, which they are in need of, Allah shall resurrect them on the Day of Judgment as jurisprudents and scholars.” Here, a reference is being made to Imam Hussain’s (a.s). The Prophet (s) says, “Surely, there exists in the hearts of the Mu’mineen, with respect to the martyrdom of Hussain (a.s), a heat that never subsides.” In another tradition, the Prophet (s) makes reference to Hussain’s (a.s) martyrdom again, “O’ Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tragedy of Husain (a.s) for surely, that eye shall be laughing and shall be given the glad tidings of the bounties and comforts of Paradise.”

The month of Muharram is a grievous month that has been dedicated to the martyrdom of Hussain (a.s) and Imam Reza (a.s) highlights its importance by saying, “With the advent of the month of Muharram, my father Imam Kazim (a.s) would never be seen laughing; gloom and sadness would overcome him for (the first) ten days of the month; and when the tenth day of the month would dawn, it would be a day of tragedy, grief and weeping for him.” The Imam further highlights the grief for the day of A’ashura in particular, “The one for whom the day of A’shura is a day of tragedy, grief and weeping, Allah The Mighty, The Glorious, shall make the Day of Judgment, a day of joy and happiness for him.” In addition, the Imam (a.s) has mentioned the reward of the martyred companions of Karbala with the following words, “If you desire that for you be the reward equivalent to that of those martyred along with Hussain (a.s), then whenever you remember him say: ‘Oh! Would that I had been with them! A great achievement would I have achieved.”

The customary mourning has been made reference to by the infallible Imams (a.s) in many instances. Once, Abu Haroon al-Makfoof approached Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s) and the Imam (a.s) said to him, “Recite for me a poetry.” When al-Makfoof recited, the Imam (a.s) said, “Not in this manner. Recite for me as you recite poems and elegies over the grave of Hussain (a.s).” Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) further says that, “All praise is for Allah, who has placed amongst the people, those who arrive in our presence, eulogizing us and reciting elegies about us” and “There is none who recites poetry about Husain (a.s) and weeps and makes others weep by means of it, except that Allah makes Paradise incumbent upon him and forgives his sins.” A similar tradition to al-Makfoof has also been displayed in another instance by the interaction between Imam Reza (a.s) and De’bil who was a devoted poet to Ahlul-bayt (a.s). Imam (a.s) said to De’bil one time, “I desire that you recite for me poetry, for surely, these days (of the month of Muharram) are the days of grief and sorrow, which have passed over us, Ahlul Bayt.” The Shi’ites therefore spend the month of Muharram in lamentation and for this, Imam Ali (a.s) has said that, “Surely, Allah has chosen for us followers (Shi’ites), who assist us and are happy at our happiness and are sad in our sadness.”

(2) Imam Hussain (a.s) acts as the perfect role model for Muslims across the world with his character, divine knowledge and wisdom. Some of his wise sayings that depict superior intellect will be shared in the following section. Sinning is undoubtedly a disgraceful act in the eyes of Almighty Allah for whom we should live our lives in piety and to help us differentiate between the good and bad influences in our lives, Imam Hussain (a.s) has said that, “The one who loves you will prevent you from sin and the one who is your enemy will provoke you towards sin.” Following this theme, the Imam again says that, “Weeping from the fear of God delivers a person from the fire of hell.” Another element that ties up with sinning is oppression that has been encountered by many through out history and especially by the Imam (a.s) himself during Karbala. Imam (a.s) says, “Beware! Do not oppress the one whose helper is no one except God, the magnificent and the powerful” and “Beware! Do not be among those who are concerned about the sins of others while neglectful of their own sins.”

Imam Hussain’s attributes of generosity and kindness have been depicted in the following words, “The most generous of the people is the person who gives to those from whom he has no hope of return” and “The one who relives a believer from distress, God will deliver him from the distress of this world and hereafter.” In yet another narration by the Imam (a.s), it has been said that, “Know that the requests of people towards you for seeking help is among the blessings of God upon you. Therefore, don’t grieve this blessing (by grieving those who request for help) as it may turn into wrath.” Attaining knowledge has been a pursuit of many, everyday individuals and scholars alike. For this, simple yet powerful words to keep in mind by the Imam (a.s) are, “Wisdom reaches perfection only by following truth.”

Sources:

http://www.sibtayn.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5975&Itemid=692

http://www.slideshare.net/almujtaba/words-of-wisdom-by-imam-hussain-as

 

Imam Hussain (a.s) – A Brief Biographical & Historical Overview

Born on the 3rd of Shabaan (10.1.626 AD), Hussain (a.s) was Lady Fatima’s (a.s) and Ali Ibn Abi Talib’s (a.s) second son, and Holy Prophet’s (s) second grandson. Hussain (a.s) was therefore Shi’ite sect’s third Imam. He belonged to a family that the Prophet (s) honored by the name of “Ahlul-bayt” (people of Prophet’s house). And the Ahlul-bayt were entitled this salutation by Allah Himself during the revelation of Ayat al-Tathir’ or Verse of Purification (Holy Quran, 33:33) to the Prophet (s) at the event of Hadith Al-Kisa or the Narration of the Cloak that has been discussed in one of the previous articles. When Hussain (a.s) was born, the Prophet (s) took the baby from maidservant, Asma’s arms and recited the Adhan as well as the Iqamah in Hussain’s (a.s) right and left ear respectively. Here, the Prophet (s) himself familiarized his grandson (a.s) with the name of Almighty God for the first time.

The naming of this third Shi’ite Imam (a.s) is worth mentioning due to its eloquent anointment. On Hussain’s (a.s) seventh day of birth, an angel had come from Allah who said, “Just as Haroon was the brother, sympathizer, and helper in each and every difficulty of Moses (a.s), similarly Ali (a.s) is your sympathizer, helper and brother in each and every matter of yours. Therefore, keep the name of this child upon the name of Haroon’s son, Shabeer (Hussain).” Here, it is then seen that the Almighty God selected Lady Fatima’s (a.s) second son’s name Himself just as He did for her first son and Hussain’s (a.s) brother, Hassan (a.s). In addition, upon Imam Hussain’s (a.s) birth, the Prophet (s) mentioned the following Hadith (saying), “Hussain-o-Minni wa Ana Minul Hussain (Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain).” It should be noted here that the Prophets of Allah communicate spiritually and not materially. Thus, the Prophet (s) here has made a reference to Islam – the religion of Allah for which He assigned its establishment on Earth as a mission. Any diversion in this mission would have nullified Allah’s purpose of creation. The aforementioned hadith then refers to Imam Hussain (a.s) accepting the role of a savior who saves the Islamic mission from destruction via sacrificing his life in the event of Karbala.

Hussain’s (a.s) Imamate lasted for ten years, the last six months of which were spent encountering Ma’awiyah’s caliphate. The latter period had made the living conditions of the Imam and his people (a.s) difficult as a result of suppression and persecution. Religious laws and regulations had lost most of their worth and credibility due to the Umayyad government gaining superiority in authority and power. In addition, Mu’awiyah and his followers used all means possible to get rid of the Prophet’s household (pbut) as well as the Shi’ah in order to obliterate Imam Ali’s (a.s) and Ahlulbayt’s (a.s) influence in matters of religious power among the people. Furthermore, Mu’awiyah intended on strengthening the basis of caliphate for his son, Yazid. Yazid at the time faced opposition from majority of the Muslims due to his lack of principles and scruples. Quelling this opposition paradigm would have made Mu’awiyah stabilize his power with newer and severe measures. Thus, force and necessity had made Imam Hussain (a.s) endure this period and tolerate agony, and affliction both mentally as well as spiritually from Mu’awiyah and his followers until the event of Karbala (60 A.H) during which the Imam (a.s), his family members and his aides faced tragedious affliction under Mu’awiyah’s son, Yazid.

Hussain’s (a.s) character was exemplary. Being a Muslim and a follower of his father, Ali’s (a.s) path, he displayed determination for defending the truth with every opportunity from a very young age. He warned people about any alternations that may have been made to the religion of Islam following Prophet’s (s) demise. An example depicting Hussain’s (a.s) good manners along with his father, Ali’s (a.s) and his brother, Hassan’s (a.s) is the case of Abu Dhar who had been a close companion of the Prophet (s) and faced exile as a result of his complaints against Islamic deviations under the rule of the third Caliph at the time. Despite this Caliph forbidding everyone from bidding their farewell to Abu Dhar upon exile, Imam Ali, Hassan and Hussain (a.s) all went to bid their farewells and express their objections to the tyrant ruler. Upon departing, Hussain (a.s) faced Abu Dhar and said, “Dear Uncle, the Almighty Lord is powerful and able. He can change everything that has happened to you. These people seized your comfort, world, and life. Yet, you protected your religion from their deviations; truly you are not in need of this world and the people dependant upon this world. Their world has no value in your eyes, even though they are in great need of your way in life. Strengthen your heart and refrain from greediness and lowliness. Do not fear, and seek refuge in Allah, for perseverance is a sign of faithfulness and greatness.”

Hussain (a.s) had been an active participant in the society. His role as a witness in the Hakamiyah arbitration between his father, Ali (a.s) and Mu’awiyah is a clear example. Moreover, he was raised and trained by Islam’s greatest defender, Ali (a.s) in addition to learning courage and bravery from him. His good manners and respectful attitude has also been displayed via his interactions with his brother, Hassan (a.s) whom he obeyed and respected immensely. The historians have recorded this meritorious part of his pious character through a narration from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s), “Due to the high respect that Imam Hussain (a.s) held for his brother, he refrained from walking ahead of or talking before his brother, Imam Hassan (a.s).”

Allah, in the Holy Quran has acknowledged Hussain’s (a.s) sacred existence via several verses that were revealed when the Imam (a.s) was still a child. An example constitutes Allah commanding all Muslims to love those closely related to His Apostle, “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives?” (Holy Quran 42:32). When the Prophet’s (s) companions inquired from him about these ‘near relatives,’ the Prophet (s) responded, “They are Ali, Fatima and their two children.”

Sources:

http://www.al-islam.org/story-of-the-holy-kaaba-and-its-people-shabbar/third-imam-husayn-ibn-ali

http://www.ziaraat.org/hussain.php

http://www.roshd.org/eng/beliefs/?bel_code=153

http://www.duas.org/Rajab28.htm

 

Ambassador of Justice: Lady Zainab Bint Ali

Breaking fear and tyranny (Lessons from Imam Al-Hussein – 2)

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

It is often believed that during calamities and hardships men are the ones that hold their emotions and help others adopt to the process of healing, which can be very traumatic and emotional. It is believed that men are able to make informed decisions rapidly and cope with any situations that presents itself. Therefore, majority of people tend to expect the highest expectations from men in calamities, hardships and abnormal situations. However, it must occur to any mind that, what happens when men are not able or present at times of hardships and afflictions, and who is able to guide through such times?

The answer to this question is presented in Ashura, and specifically after the Battle of Karbala, when Imam Al-Hussein and his companions where martyred and slaughtered in the most horrific and vicious way possible. The household of Imam Al-Hussein, were led by Imam Al-Sajjad (Shias 4th Imam), and Lady Zainab (Daughter of Imam Ali & Imam Al-Hussein’s sister). However, the condition of Imam Al-Sajad was very severe, as he was ill and weak to a point, where he was not even able to stand up in some cases.

Therefore, the actual leader of the remaining household, who were mostly widow women and children was Lady Zainab. This great woman had lost her two sons, her brothers, nephews and other family members in the Battle of Karbala, and she had to witness their martyrdom. She had to witness, how the army of Yazid let their horses run back and forth upon the body of Imam Al-Hussein. She had to witness how the killer of her brother sad down on his chest and beheaded her brother, and then left his head and ran toward his camp. She had to witness, the head of her brother being put and carried around on top of a spear. She had to witness the attack of Umayyad army on the tents of Imam Al-Hussein and his family, where they were burnt down, and she had to witness little children being beaten and lashed. She had to witness her 6month old nephew being killed with an arrow, while in his father’s (Imam Al-Hussein) lap. She had to witness, and witness, and witness things that would break a stone if it had a heart, but this woman did not break and bow to these calamities, and represented the cause of her brother in the best way possible, and in the fact of a brutal tyrant.

Lady Zainab showed the entire world and recorded in the history that when all hopes and routes are scares, the powers and ability of a pious woman, who fears nothing but her creator can shift the course of history. Lady Zainab did change the course of history, as she was the ambassador of Karbala to the world, where she let the entire world know, why Imam Al-Hussein sacrificed his life. Lady Zainab, showed the true power and place of a Muslim woman, as she was the voice of a universal and eternal revolution. Lady Zainab presented that the power of will and dedication to the cause can re-establish any institution. Therefore, let’s all learn from the greatest woman in the history and dedicate our lives to defending the mutual righteous causes we all cherish and hold valued.

Being a Freeman/woman

Lessons from Imam Al-Hussein – 1

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

These days are the anniversary of Imam Al-Hussein’s martyrdom along with his family members and companions during the Battle of Karbala, as millions of Shia Muslims around the world mourn and commemorate this occasion in various forms and ways. There are thousands of lessons and ideals, which can be learned and taught from the sacrifice of Imam Al-Hussein, as the day of Ashura illustrates the confrontation between good and evil in its ultimate demonstration. The small army of Imam Al-Hussein faced the army of Umayyad king Yazid Ibn Muawiya, which according to many sources were over 120,000. Nevertheless, Imam Al-Hussein and his companions demonstrated the absolute pictures of sacrifice, courage, mercy and submission to Allah, and the army of Yazid demonstrated the ultimate picture of abjectness, rascality, vileness, cruelty and acrimony.

However, one of the most powerful statements in the history of mankind was given during that battle, when Imam Al-Hussein was left alone before that monstrous army, after his entire family and companions were slaughtered. Imam Al-Hussein stood before that army and said: “if you have no faith, at least be freemen in your life”. These words are worthy of being written with gold ink, as they outline the guideline for any situation or condition that a person might ever face in his/her lifetime. Being courageous, brave, honorable and noble requires nothing but being a free person and no faith or belief.

In addition, one of the most beautiful demonstrations of this statement was illustrated through an encounter between Imam Al-Hussein and a Christian physician, who worked in Yazid’s army. Historians narrate: once Imam Al-Hussein was severely wounded, bleeding and laying on the hot surface of Karbala, everyone was afraid of finishing him off, and sealing the battle, as they all knew the person laying down and wounded was the grandson of Prophet Mohammad. Imam Al-Hussein was the person, who Prophet Mohammad had narrated several narrations and hadith about. In one narration, the Prophet stated: Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein, God loves, whomever loves Hussein. Therefore, everyone rejected killing Imam Al-Hussein and be the person that history will curse for eternity. The commanders of Yazid’s army came to Omar Ibn Sa’ad (Chief Commander of the army) and suggested to him that you will be better off paying the Christian physician to kill Al-Hussein, as he is not from our religion and he would not care, if he is paid well.

Therefore, Omar Ibn Sa’ad approached the physician and tells him about the task required and offers him a very notable prize, if he gets the task done and finishes Al-Hussein off. The Christian physician agrees, takes the prize, grabs a sword and heads toward the spot, where Imam Al-Hussein has fallen and badly bleeds from his severe wounds. Once the Christian Physician approaches the Imam, he looks closely at Imam Al-Hussein’s face and starts shaking and stops on his spot. Imam Al-Hussein, tells the physician with a low voice: “you can ask your question, but I will answer it for you even before you ask it, as I know what you are thinking and what you want to ask. You dreamt of being in a gathering, where the Christ and his disciples were present and sitting in a circle. You approached them and greeted them, and asked to be permitted to join them. Jesus permitted you to sit with them and then told you: Please don’t be the one, who lowers my head before Prophet Mohammad, if you were asked to kill his grandson. O’ brother, I swear to Allah, I am that grandson and Jesus was talking about me in that dream”.

The Christian Physician was shocked and speechless, as he did not know how to respond to what he had heard from Imam Al-Hussein, even before he opens his mouth and says a word. All of the sudden, the Physician shouts: “I swear to Allah’s greatness, I will not be the one, who lowers the heard of Jesus and turned toward the army and Yazid and said: O’ Sa’ad, have you gone mad? You expect me to kill the grandson of Mohammad and son of Fatima? I will not do such an action, and I would rather die defending the grandson of Mohammad”.

The physician waved his sword and attacked the army of Yazid and fought for few minutes and he was ultimately martyred and later on buried by Imam Al-Sajjad in Karbala. However, this story shows that defending justice, honor, courage and good requires no faith or it is not exclusive to a specific belief. All men are equal before their creator, as they all have been granted the power of intellect and will, which enables them to side with either good or evil, and in the case of this hero, he chose to side with Good and became historically immortal.

Benefits of Istigfaar (Seeking Forgiveness) from Allah Almighty

By: M.K.

As discussed in last week’s article, seeking forgiveness from The Ever Merciful Allah not only sheds away our sins but also opens door of His mercy in all aspects of a believer’s life. In this article, further elaboration will be provided on the types of benefits one can attain from regular performance of istigfaar in addition to a brief discussion on the stages of istigfaar.

Istigfaar is mandatory for all believers as it elevates a believer’s Marefat (recognition) a lot more compared to other acts of worship. The Holy Prophet (s) has illustrated achievement of full Marefat by saying, “My Lord! I have not recognized You as is Your right to be recognized. I have not been able to worship You as was Your right to be worshipped.”

When a believer becomes forgetful about istigfaar, his heart darkens by becoming overly polluted. And the preceding scenario has been referred to as a black heart in narrations. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) says, “For human hearts, nothing is more harmful than a sin. When the mirror of heart becomes black because of sins, the blackness covers the entire soul. Then man tumbles down from his original position and gets separated from truth.”

Stages of Istigfaar

  1. The first stage constitutes turning away from Kufr (disbelief) and accepting Iman (faith). Here, a believer comes out of a doubtful state into that of trust as well as certainty. It can be considered similar to giving up Batil (false) belief system and accepting Haqq (truth).
  2. The second stage involves the sinner abandoning disobedience and turning towards obedience while also giving up on opposition.
  3. The third stage is where the believer walks out of the sinful atmosphere, turns to his Lord and acknowledges duties of his slavery towards Him. The believer busies himself in constant remembrance of his Lord and opposes injustice, oppression and unfaithfulness.

In context of the istigfaar stages, Imam Ali (a.s) says: “A sincere repentant: (1) is ashamed of his past sins (2) takes up the duties overlooked and fulfills them (3) makes good the willfully ignored conditions of a trust managed by him (4) forgives those who provoke him (5) does not demand repayment of loans from those who are in financial distress (6) makes firm determination not to sin ever again (7) surrenders his self to the adoration, devotion and service of Allah when it had swelled to the point of exploding due to inordinate consumption of worldly pleasures, transgression and disobedience.”

Benefits of Istigfaar

Istigfaar minus its accompanying benefits to a believer is itself considered a great invocation. A narration states that the Apostle of Allah, despite being Masoom (innocent) and not susceptible to committing any sins used to recite istigfaar hundred times every night. Thus, this act of worship is liked by both the Prophet (s) and Allah Almighty. Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says, “The more one prays for pardoning of his sins, the more good deeds will be created in his account and on the Day of Judgment, his deeds will appear shining.” Performing Istigfaar has particularly been linked to increasing sustenance amidst other benefits. And there have been numerous traditions by Ahlul-bayt emphasizing just that. If a believer is undergoing financial distress, the Prophet (a.s) mentions that, “A man who is inflicted by poverty and hardship should recite ‘Astegferullah wa atubu ilaih’ thirty thousand times. The Lord Almighty will surely end his troubles.” The narrator of this tradition indicates it being a proven experience. Imam Ali (a.s) says, “The smell of sins is warded off by the fragrance of repentance. Seeking Allah’s forgiveness (Istigfaar) becomes the cause of enhancement of one’s substance.”

Istigfaar is a way to erase pride and adopt humility. Imam Zail-al-Abideen (a.s) says that, “A person who has the habit of saying, ‘Astegferullah rabbi wa atubu ilai’ will never be proud and conceited.” Istigfaar is a way to increase a believer’s virtues in front of Allah Almighty and He loves any believer who seeks forgiveness via performance of istigfaar. When a believer has committed a sin and turns to istigfaar, Allah Almighty becomes pleased and says, “My servant committed a sin and then he came to realize that he has a Lord who holds the sinner responsible and accountable, and also that He has a Lord who forgives the sins if asked for forgiveness. So let him be forgiven.”

Special significance has been placed on the merits of seeking forgiveness in the early morning hours (before daybreak). The Holy Quran highlights this significance at several instances. Allah Almighty says in Surah Zariyat, “They used to sleep but little in the night. And in the morning, they asked forgiveness” (17-18: 51). And Imam Ali (a.s) narrates Allah Almighty saying that, “Had there not been those who loved My Might and who filled My Mosques and those worshipped Me for forgiveness in the early hours of the dawn, I would certainly have chastised them.”

Sources:

Holy Quran. Chapter 51. Verses 17-18.

“Invocation.” Duas.org. Accessed October 12, 2015. http://www.duas.org/Misc/invocation.htm.

“Islam Guidance.” Sibtayn International Foundation. October 11, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2015. http://www.sibtayn.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4060:repeated-repentance-and-istighfar&catid=744&Itemid=503.

Syed, Akramulla. “Repentance in Islam (Tawbah, Taubah, Tobah), Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar), Allah (SWT), Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw), Noble Qur’an.” March 30, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2015. http://www.ezsoftech.com/stories/mis32.asp.

The Stages of Repentance (Tawba).” Imam Reza (A.S.) Network. Accessed October 12, 2015. http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=7456.

 

Tasbih-e-Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s) Recitation Benefits

By: M.K.

In the Islamic religion and particularly among Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s), reciting tasbih of Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s) has been given significant importance by both the infalliable Imams (a.s) as well as the Shi’ite jurists. This tasbih is in essence, a worship act that is simple, short yet powerful for the reciter.

Tasbih components:

Allahu Akbar– 34x

Alhamdolilah – 33x

SubhanAllah – 33x

A brief historical overview behind the virtues of this Tasbih reveals that the name ‘Fatima’ was given to the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s) by Allah Almighty Himself via an angel who was ordered to have it spoken by Prophet’s (s) tongue. When Ali (a.s) asked the Prophet (s), “Why was she named Fatima?” as narrated by Imam Ali Reza (a.s) who quoted from his Fathers (a.s), “He replied: Because she and her followers (Shi’ites) are protected from Hell.” In addition, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s) has provided an explanation for the name, ‘Fatima’ as, “She is safeguarded from evil” and for ‘Zehra’ as being “the splendid.” Zehra has also been derived from Zohour, which means brightness.

Let us now shed light on how this Tasbih’s recitation is beneficial to the believers of Lady Fatima (a.s). It’s abundant rewards and merits are depicted from an instance when the Prophet (s) aspired to transfer this worship act to his beloved daughter, Fatima (a.s), he declared, “O Fatima! I have granted you something that is superior to a maidservant and to the world and everything in it.”

Regular recitation of the Tasbih protects the reciter from adversities as well as hardships of both this world and the hereafter. Imam Sadiq (a.s) says, “You adhere to it and be regular about its recitation, for surely one who is steadfast upon its recitation will not encounter adversity.” At every moment of a believer’s life, the Shaytan (devil) is a constant whisperer of misdeeds and reciting Tasbih-e-Zahra is one of the methods of driving the Shaytan away. As Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) says, “Reciting Tasbih-e-Zehra drives away Shaytan and results in the satisfaction of Allah.”

 

The tasbih is both a source of forgiveness as well as for obtaining prayer rewards. On forgiveness, some traditions have been found from Imam Baqir (a.s) and Sadiq (a.s). Imam Baqir (a.s) says, “One who recited the Tasbih of Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s) and then seeks forgiveness will be forgiven.” Exceptional emphasis for reciting this tasbih for the purposes of seeking forgiveness has however been placed after completion of wajib (obligatory) salaats. As Imam Sadiq (a.s) states in a tradition associated with Tasbih recitation post-salaat, “One who recites the Tasbih of Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s), before even moving his feet, Allah will forgive him” and “One who recites the Tasbih of Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s) after a wajib salaaat, before he stretches out his legs (i.e. recites Tasbih while still being in the Tashahud posture), paradise becomes wajib upon him.” In another tradition, Imam Sadiq (a.s) says, “One who glorifies Allah after the obligatory prayer through the Tasbih of Lady Fatima Zehra (a.s) and then follows up by saying, ‘La ilaha illallaho,’ Allah will forgive his sins. It is valuable to note that, recitation of this Tasbih multiplies in reward if recited on a Tasbih, which has been obtained from Karbala as said by Imam Sadiq (a.s), “One dhikr (recitation) of istegfaar (repentance) recited on the Tasbih made out of the soil of the grave of Imam Hussain (a.s) is equal to 70 such dhikr recited on any other thing. The Imam of Time, al-Mahdi (a.s) has also provided us with a similar narration, “One who just holds the Tasbih made out of the soil of Imam Hussain (a.s) and does not do any dhikr, even then for him will be written the reward of having recited the dhikr.” Quoted from Al-kafi, “Reciting Tasbih of Hazrat Zehra (a.s) everyday after every salaat is liked by me [Imams of the Ahlulbayt (a.s)] more than reciting one thousand rakats of (mushtahab) salaat.” In continuation with the aforementioned theme, Imam Baqir (a.s) yet again says that, “Allah is not worshipped by anything more meritorious than the Tasbih of Fatima Zehra (a.s). Had there been any worship superior to it, most surely the Holy Prophet (s) would have been granted it to Lady Fatima (a.s).” Recitation of this Tasbih before sleeping is also beneficial to the reciter as narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s), “One who recites the Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a.s) at the time of going to bed, he will be accounted amongst those who remembered Allah a lot.”

Finally, as with any act of worship, it is imperative to practice some general etiquettes whilst recitation of Tasbih-e-Fatima Zehra. One must be fully attentive and continuous in the Tasbih’s recitation. Continuity without interruptions in the Tasbih had been a practice of the infalliable Imams (a.s). In accordance with a tradition of Imam Sadiq (a.s), if there has been a doubt regarding the counts during Tasbih dhikr, the dhakir (reciter) must re-start his Tasbih performance.

Sources:

http://www.majzooban.org/en/articles/2263-merits-of-tasbih-of-bibi-fateme-zehra-as.html

http://www.duas.org/tasbihzehra.htm

http://shiastudies.net/article/english/Article.php?id=1056

 

Islamic prospective on Right to Bear Arms

 

Legitimacy & Containment

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The topic of bearing arms in its most contemporary use and understanding has triggered ingoing discussions, about limitations, entitlement, safety, containment and persecution. According to the second amendment of the United States constitutions, the right to own and bear arms has been granted to citizens for personal use and protection. Other countries around the world have different laws and regulations about this notion, which suits their own social structure and foundation. However, due to recent polls and numbers released by poll agencies, for instance the number of people killed by guns in the US from 2004 to 2013 is above 350,000. In addition, the same poll tells that terrorist activities have only killed about 400 people during the same time-line, which opens the discussion about the legitimacy of gun ownership and its accessibility. The position of Islam on this specific matter might be very surprising for many observers and even many Muslims, as this topic is not really relevant in this modern age. However, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic scholar have presented detailed answers about the notion of owning and bearing arms.

Islamic countries & Guns ownership laws

Islamic countries and more specifically Middle Eastern states are very sensitive, when it comes to this topic, as in some places owning a weapon can lead to death penalty and sever punishments. Majority of Muslim countries are led by authoritarian systems and dictatorships, which are afraid of any notion that might place their rule and legitimacy in danger. One of the main purposes of the 2nd amendment is for well-regulated militias that are able to secure the freedom and rights of the people and change the state, if the state ever turned against its own citizens. This type of talk and right in the Middle East is equivalent to suicide, as the regime are eager to control the arms and keep them only in the hands of the state. Therefore, a citizen might be able to write, protest and criticize the state, but he/she will never be able to confront the state coercively and set it on the right path once again.

However, such a strict rule by the state, has also addressed other necessities of owning arms, as personal use of arms is linked with personal protection and security. Nonetheless, the level of security and safety in most authoritarian regime is higher than many western and democratic nations around the world. For Instance, from the year 1998 to the year 2010, there were only 35 cases of homicide in Syria, which is an amazing record. Even some western diplomats, when asked about which countries are they most interested for serving in, they would answer authoritarian countries, which there is outstanding security, and many of them would not fear for their lives.

Islam’s position of owning and bearing arms:

The primary jurisprudential Islamic rule states, that everyone is entitled to own and bear arms preliminary. However, in a secondary ruling this law is subjected to modification and change, where it would become prohibited and illegitimate to own and bear arms, if it causes disorder and chaos in society.

In addition, observing the history of Islamic countries during the course of history, will reveal that owning and bearing arms was a norm and in many areas a social necessity. It would be safe to say that almost all male subjects of the state were carrying weapon with them, and these weapons varied from a small dagger to a sword a bow and arrows. The rates of crimes and homicide in Islamic countries was very low or close to zero as well, which might have been due to the heavy presence of arms and weapon at people’s disposal. However, the social conduct of a society is very crucial in stabilizing and containing such arms presence, since it can be a recipe for instability and disorder. In addition, there are numerous cases, where armed rebellions by the public took place to repeal oppression and tyranny of the governors, rulers and injustice. Therefore, it would be safe to say that the right to own and bear arms, has a positive record in Islamic history.

Contemporary laws & Right to bear arms:

Currently, this law has been criticized by many thinkers and politicians, due to the high numbers of victims that have lost their lives due to gun violence, especially in the United States. However, this dilemma is caused by the contradictions that exist within federal and state laws, as the constitution affirms this right and the states have placed many limitations on it, where there has been great amount of ambiguity. In addition, the deterrent methods for gun violence don’t match the level of the crimes happening, as many of those criminal are granted life sentences, where they spend their lives behind bars at maximus security. Therefore, this right should either be totally taken away or reshaped to enable all citizens take advantage and secure themselves against possible threats and dangers.

Istighfaar (Seeking Forgiveness)

By: M.K.

Istighfaar refers to seeking forgiveness from Allah Almighty for sins committed. When we repent, we are giving up our sins and this repentance expresses our regret for sins committed in the best way. Holy Quran says, “Turn to Allah, O believers, that you may be successful” (24:31). It is a common practice among believers to feel hopeless after a sinful act has been committed. However, regardless of the grievous extent of any sin, Allah Almighty’s mercy surpasses in greatness as found in the Holy Quran, “Say, O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Verily, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful (39:53). The key to repentance is both sincerity as well as privacy. As Imam Ali (a.s) has said, “…Your secret is your prisoner, which if let loose it will make you its prisoner.” To add, Apostle of Allah Almighty once said to Imam Ali (a.s), “O Ali, blessed is one whom Allah looks upon while one is weeping for a sin that none is aware of except Allah.”

More etiquettes of repentance have been highlighted by Imam Mohammad Taqi Al Jawad (a.s), “Tawba (repentance) depends upon four things: sincere regrets, verbal ‘istighfaar,’ deeds and determination to never repeat the sin.” Allah Almighty loves a servant who performs sincerity-filled repentance, such that the sin committed will not be considered as having ever been committed. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) says, “He who repents of his sins is as one who has not any burden of sin.” Many supplications of seeking forgiveness have been taught to us by Ahlul-bayt and some of these include the Whispered Prayers, Dua-e-Kumayl and supplications of Amir al-mu’minin. For instance, in a sermon, Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “O My God! Forgive me what Thou knowest about me more than I do. If I return (to the sins) Thou return to forgiveness. My God forgive me that with what I sought nearness to Thee with my tongue but my heart opposed and did not perform it. My God forgive me winkings of the eye, vile utterances, desires of the heat and errors of speech.”

Isighfaar is additionally beneficial such that it rids us of our problems by cleansing us off our sins. It has been narrated from Ibn Abbas that once when he was in Imam Ali’s (a.s) company, a man had come and said, “Mawla, I have transgressed much.” To this, the Imam (a.s.) advised him of istegfaar. Then another man came asking, “Mawla, my land has become arid and parched, what shall I do?” The Imam (a.s) again advised of istigfaar. A few moments later, another man came complaining of being struck by poverty, “Nothing I do bears fruit. Is there any remedy?” Imam (a.s) advised of istigfaar. Following this, yet another man came and said, “Mawla, Allah has not yet blessed me with a child, what should I do?” And just like all others, this man was also advised of istigfaar. Ibn Abbas then says that he asked the Imam (a.s), “O Amirul Muminin, though the problems were different, but to each of them you advised to pray istigfaar.” The Imam (a.s.) answered, “Because Allah says in surah Nuh of Holy Quran: And I said, Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance; And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers” (71:10-12).

Sources:

“Dua’a for Seeking Forgiveness.” Dua’a for Seeking Forgiveness. Accessed October 5, 2015. http://www.duas.org/seekforg.htm.

“Forgiveness in Islam.” Al-Islam.org. Accessed October 5, 2015. http://www.al-islam.org/articles/forgiveness-islam-arifa-hudda.

“Repentance and Forgiveness.” All About Shias. December 31, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2015. http://allaboutshias.com/repentance-and-forgiveness/.

“Sermon 78: My God, Forgive Me …” Al-Islam.org. Accessed October 5, 2015. http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul-balagha-part-1-sermons/sermon-78-my-god-forgive-me.