Lethal Force

This article was first published on https://youtu.be/Jw8UG-BaPUQ.  All rights and claims on this article below to Shiawisdom.com claims no responsibility.

There is a widespread and persistent problem of unnecessary or excessive force by police in the United States. The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford and many others have set off a long-overdue conversation on race, policing and justice as well as protests around the country.

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials set out strict human rights safeguards for the use of force. These standards provide that law enforcements should only use force as a last resort and that the amount of force must be proportionate to the threat encountered and designed to minimize damage and injury. Amnesty International is concerned that state laws on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers do not comply with international standards and is calling on all states to review and revise their use of lethal force statutes in line with those standards.

Selective Sympathy

The current refugee crisis

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The notion of sympathy with a certain individual, group, belief or ideology has been able to shift the outcome of many crisis and conflicts, as the global opinion mandated for affirmative action to be taken in certain cases for resolution. However, the same sense of sympathy that applies to certain cases has marginalized and sidelined many victims of horrendous crimes, which has happened or still happening. Therefore, it is witnessed that certain victims are prioritized and sanctioned due to political reasons, while other are left to suffer continuously under the blade of whomever has oppressed them. The recent case of selective sympathy was witnessed in the past weeks, during the current refugee crisis in the Middle East, when a Syrian-Kurdish child was found drowned and dead on the shore of a Turkish town. Indeed, the picture of that child was heartbreaking, as he summarized the entire afflictions and sufferings of Middle Eastern children, and the amount of violence they have been subjected to. The story of that boy was even more heartbreaking, when news headlines announced that the boy’s mother and older brother had been drowned and dead as well, during their attempt to escape the deadly war in Syria and find safety in Europe.

The global headlines made the story of that Syrian child, as the face of the refugee crisis, which placed enormous pressure on European and other western states to take imminent actions to end the crisis. Ultimately, Germany decided to take thousands of those refugees and other state like Austria, Hungary, Italy and other European states started taken lesser numbers, due to the public pressure.

Primarily, many observers believe the crisis could have been evaded, and none of the current dilemmas were supposed to even happen, as a coordinated political solution to the Syrian crisis, would have resolved the Syrian conflict. In addition, the resolution of the Syrian conflict would have been affected the Iraqi political scenario as well, as ISIS and other terrorist groups would have never been able to mobilize their fighters easily in and out of Syria.

Nevertheless, now that the crisis has happened and millions have been displaced and dislodged, it would primarily be the responsibility of other Muslim countries to host the refugees. It is not a secret that some of the richest countries in the world are in the Middle East, which raises a question that what have they not accepted any of those refugees. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who were the primary supporters of many armed rebels in Syria, have not accepted one refugee in their lands, and other states like Kuwait, UAE have acted as no crisis even exists.

However, the question that truly requires the attention of all observers and the global masses, is the intention behind creating the selective sympathy that is witnessed regarding certain cases. Even though, the Syrian child’s photo brought tears to the eyes of many people, including state leaders, it must be asked: why are other crisis and cases of child abuses and victimization are not being considered as important? For instance, wasn’t there another children in the same boat that carried the Syrian child and his family? An Iraqi woman appeared on the National TV and narrated how her two children drowned in that boat as well, as the group guide fled and let them alone before the massive sea waves.

The Iraqi scene is filled daily with pictures of students and innocent children being the victims of explosions, genocides and organized crime, as the Iraqi government stays motionless and unable to resolve the matters. The so-called Arab coalition to retrieve Political Legitimacy in Yemen, has been bombing the Yemeni cities for the past few months, and thousands have been killed in those strikes. Among the victims of those strikes are hundreds of innocent children, as one picture showed a Yemeni child losing his skin due to use of prohibited weapons. Another Yemeni child was buried under her house for days, and after few days she was found alive, but taking her out of the wreckage was not possible, therefore, she died before the rescuers, as they could not do anything for her. In addition, the current bombing campaign against Yemen is being supported by majority of western states, which contradicts the notion of acting humanly with the current refugee crisis.

The other victims, who require and deserve immediate attention are the people of Bahrain, as hundreds of women, minors and children are persecuted and victimized daily by the Bahraini regime. There are numerous footages on YouTube and other sites, where Bahraini women and children are being beaten or humiliated by the Bahraini authorities. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have recorded hundreds of similar cases in that country, which are not receiving any media coverage or public attention.

Therefore, it is a moral obligation upon any free soul to sympathize with these victims and use any possible peaceful and legit mean to help them regain their dignity and the honorable life they deserve. The notion of selective sympathy itself, is a kind of oppression against all of those, who are not being considered as victims and sympathized with.

Our Perception of Beauty

By: Rabab Rafery

We live in a culture that exaggerates physical beauty above and beyond where its true status lies. The media and culture have indirectly pushed people’s minds to treat beauty as one of the determinants of self-worth, especially in young girls and women. It becomes crucial for everyone of us to examine what beauty really is, and what role physical beauty has to play in our lives.

Is beauty limited to physical characteristics or is there a higher dimension to it? Is beauty an independent trait or does it shine in people with good personalities? Although the answers to these questions are very subjective, the Islamic view of beauty helps us to shape our opinions in the best manner possible.

All Creation Is Beautiful

Although the eyes may not perceive every creation around us as beauty, the Qur’anic verse (32:7) tells us that all creation is beautiful. This verse is clearly talking about beauty on a higher level than the mere physical dimension that our eyes try to find in what they perceive. This verse urges us to appreciate beauty in all creation and to see the beauty in Allah’s universe through observing how interconnected and orderly it is!

The Perception of Beauty

How does Islam view human beauty? Is physical beauty always looked upon as a positive trait? Needless to say, physical beauty is indeed a blessing – but according to Islamic teachings, beauty is just like any other material and perishable trait such as wealth, rank, and occupation. Physical beauty by itself has little worth and is given no significance in Islam if it does not accompany inner beauty (piety and good moral traits). Real beauty is what we carry with us in our journey to the hereafter: our good deeds. In the Holy Qur’an (3:106) we are reminded of Judgment Day when people’s deeds will determine their physical appearance: “On the day when (some) faces shall turn white and (some) faces shall turn black; then as to those whose faces turn black: Did you disbelieve after your believing? Taste therefore the chastisement because you disbelieved.”

In our everyday lives we often come across people who may be good-looking but something about their character repels us from them; the reverse is also true for people who may not be so good-looking but appear beautiful to us because of their positive qualities. A recent article by plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Tornambe, published by the Huffington Post, presents an interesting conclusion about how the mind judges beauty. The article “What Makes a Person Ugly?” focuses on certain positive personality traits that serve to enhance and sometimes even determine how we perceive physical beauty. Some characteristics that are mentioned are self-confidence, cheerfulness, altruism, and optimism. When it comes to judging between physical beauty and personality, our mind inclines towards appreciating people who possess such positive traits and brighter souls.

Actions that Enhance Beauty

Proximity to Allah and obeying His commands surely enhance one’s beauty, both inner as well as physical beauty. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, “Beauty is in the tongue (wording)”. Good moral conduct is one basis of judging what qualifies as beauty. Ayatollah Hussain Madhahiri writes in his book Islamic Family-Life Ethics, “Sometimes speech is like the beauty spot on the face which enhances the beauty of the person.” A person with good morals is truly beautiful inside out and wins people’s’ hearts.

In addition, some recommended actions enhance inner and outer beauty. One of them is the highly recommended Night Prayer (Salat al-Layl) that, when performed on a regular basis, enhances one’s physical beauty. Allama Majlisi writes in his book on Salat al-Layl: “Salat al-Layl makes one’s face beautiful; beautifies one’s etiquette; gives a pleasant smell to one’s body and increases one’s daily sustenance. It also removes sorrow and grief and gives strength to the eyes.”

Hence, closeness to Allah creates both inner as well as outer beauty! In conclusion, below is a historic couplet that refers to the beauty of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), whose beauty is a symbol of Allah’s most beautiful creation:

“No one has ever seen beauty like Yusuf’s, But He who created Yusuf has the true beauty.” Let us try to reflect  true eternal beauty from within ourselves!

This article was borrowed from Shia Studies where it was first published.


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.