by: Zeinab Alsheraa
The problems ranging in today’s society stem off the issues of injustice. The world has deviated from Hitler’s Nazi regime to the Ku Klux Klan and other forms of racism. Sexism has come and not left the premises along with prejudice. In the case after 9/11, Muslims still feel the effects of 9/11’s misinterpretations of the whole religion of Islam. Out of fear and to give a false sense of security, people began to generalize and label ‘Muslims’ as terrorists in order to purge their fears onto anything for a feeling of comfort knowing who the ‘bad guy’ is. Is it fair to the 1.6 billion peaceful Muslims to have a group of attackers speak for the faith of Islam at large? These acts of prejudice, racism, and bigotry in general ostracize individuals and in turn demote equity. But God does not leave his servants astray in an environment that hinders fairness. The prophets were first sent to lead the people and now it is the imams that can enlighten the people to the path of due process.
What is Justice?
Intrinsically, it is the ultimate set of virtues encompassing all morals that ultimately lead to peace. Islam has encouraged and exalted it through abundant verses from the Quran.“Allah commands (people) to maintain justice, kindness, and proper relations with their relatives. (16:90)” There are two prominent forms of justice in this life: justice towards God and justice towards society.
1- Justice towards God:
This is the utmost revered concept and title of credibility of justice. It is not possible to achieve justice to Him because Allah does not require anything and is self-sufficient. But this form stands for believing in the Lord and conveying sincerity and love towards Him. This is where the acts of constant worship and rigid obedience come into place, along with the persisting efforts to stray away from any displeasures towards Him.
The injustice of this is self-wronging; the negligence and disobedience to God. The result is humility and disappointment.
2- Justice towards society:
This form can be achieved through the practice of adhering to individuals’ rights, abstaining from mistreating them, have sympathy to those in fragile conditions (such as poverty, weak health,etc.), and treating them with dignity and courtesy. Amir Al-Mu’mineen stated “you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself.”
The injustice of this occurs when the rights of individuals are neglected, their dignities disrespected, and interests disregarded. This behavior leads to social corruption. The lowest point of social corruption is harming a weak individual that has no means of defending oneself except to supplicate to God.
Promotion of Justice in this Dunya
The Prophet had stated before his departure of the dunya that he has left behind two things for the Ummah to follow: the holy book and his family. In order today to have equity one must differentiate before right and wrong and what better way to do so then to follow the Ahlul-bayt? They may have been faced with different situations then we may face today but the beauty of Islam is that its teachings transcend all limits. It is a religion for all places, people, and time. Despite any changes that may take place, the principles from Ahlul-bayt are applicable and prevail to any situation. Sometimes a simple issue may be complicated by technicalities and opinions but in remembering the principles of Ahlul-Bayt, the right choice becomes lucid. In order to put things into perspective in any situation, one only needs to ask “Would Imam Ali or Lady Fatima be seen doing this?”
The True Justice
Despite some efforts, some individuals may still find themselves troubled with certain predicaments. This may falter the faith in fairness in the world, but one must remember that true justice isn’t by people, but by the Creator, Allah. We are here to be tested and Allah is the examiner. It is his prerogative to choose which way a person will be tested. The justness of Allah is that he does not burden a person with at test beyond his or her abilities. Allah had not given us wings and therefore does not test us based on flying. We cannot claim that because He had not given us wings that we are wronged. It is not up to us to decide how we will be tested. In the same sense, Allah does not ask a servant to perform wudhu (ablution) that has no hands, because it is beyond their ability. This is the unique belief to Shia Muslims that God is always just—as His name states; Al-Adl or The Just. It is only to Him do we turn to for justice, not to any other creation by Him.
(Who to believe when everyone claims to be right?)
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Whether deciding about a political candidate, a theory or even personal and private matters, the process of making the final decision is hard and sometimes painful on many aspects. All sides claim to be on the right side, support the right cause, committed to the right approach and finally their statements and actions are RIGHT. Well, according to freedom of speech and personal liberties making such claims is absolutely fine, legal and socially acceptable according to many contemporary social and political behaviors. However, the issue of being morally, politically and socially acceptable is not as important as being able to make a decision that is right based on all principles and standards.
Watching a campaign commercial on TV or an election debate, hearing about an ideology or a theory is similar to a battle, where each side is trying to persuade as many followers to assert its prevalence. Therefore, the necessity to develop a set of standards and principles would prevent from thinking that everyone is right or all sides are equally correct, since correctness and righteousness is proportionate. Unfortunately, the hermeneutical perception of individuals about right and wrong has transformed into personal presumptions and comprehensions of life experiences instead of cognitive, academic, logical and sane sets of rules, principle and standards.
Danger of standards plurality
The deliberate trends to keep all powers only affiliated with human mind might seem a noble cause, yet it can be dangerous if the following notions are taken into consideration.
The ability to create resources and primary records for investigation is not in human’s hand, therefore, the methodology to investigate and dissect the resources and records must be presented and delivered by the creator. The methodology for investigation and dissection will be apprehensible by human minds, since the primary process of finding the resources requires intellect and cognition on many levels. Therefore, a primary non-human made sets of principles and standards for dissection and investigation are necessary to prevent wrong judgements and un-academic presumptions. In addition, the presence of such existing sets of principles and standards would mean the ultimate role of intellect and free mind will be put into test, which is making decision based on correct findings and perfect trails of investigation. Otherwise, if none is offered to humanity, the notion of accepting consequences and punishment is ethically unacceptable and unworthy.
The absence of clear sets of principles and standards to identify and outline right from wrong and correctness from corruption and evil can be due to several factors. The primary factor is human mind itself, since its capabilities are still limited regardless of its advancement and superb analytical powers. The idea of creating standards out of nullity is beyond the comprehension of human intellect and capability, since analyzing the correctness, effectuality and performance level of those sets must have be subjected to a methodology of investigation. Nevertheless, this process is an everlasting circle with no clear result with an assured notion of wasting time and effort.
Basing the development of standards and principles on life experiences, primitive human findings, manmade resources and even semi-cognitive presumptions will not surpass the reality of being ANALYSIS. The best capability of human intellect, is ability to comprehend and analyze information to develop a final decision, which makes intellect in needs of primary information and resources that can’t be man-made.
Human experience and understanding of his/her surrounding is bound to observation and direct interaction. Observation is inadequate since humans are unable to apprehend the past and future, and each observation holds a certain past and an unknown future. In addition, the surrounding facts of each observation are not always evident and clear, as many facts are possible to be hidden unless revealed through narration or future discovery. Therefore, any standard or principle based on observation is bound and limited to momentary findings by observation. In addition, the problem that lays within direct interaction is due to human’s tendency and behavior, which is bound to be either reactionary or pre-emptive. Although both of these behaviors can be based on analytical investigation or cognition, yet the result and consequence is temporal and provisional. Direct interaction and its findings are effected by past experiences, presumptions and the transitory encounter, which can vary from pleasant to violent or acceptable to irreceivable. Therefore, why should any sets of principles and standards created by such emotions and experiences be binding and used as a methodology to judge and determine good to evil?
To be continued
Mainstream Islam & legacy of violence against minorities
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Majority of observers, researchers, activists and writers have accused the Saudi regime sponsored Wahhabi sect for the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and use of violent methods. Although, the Saudi family and their Wahhabi branch is responsible for some the most horrific crimes against humanity and free will, yet the root of these actions and ideologies was only capitalized and implemented by Wahhabism. The ideological implementations of Ibn Taymiya and other scholars within this sect are derived from earlier and traditional texts, where minorities like Sufis, Shias, Jews, Mutazilies and others were subjected to ideological and physical elimination.
Throughout previous articles the foundation of a violent trails of actions, statements and decisions was identified in the early post-Prophet Mohammad era, where certain companions carried out terrorizing acts. In addition, other decisions by the first three Caliphs and later on by the Umayyad and Abbasids became the preliminary bases for any ideological theorizing and legitimizing use of violence and force. Therefore, the early stage of Islamic history and the horrific crimes against minorities, the holy household of Prophet Mohammad and Islam itself, were only actions or organized efforts by individuals and groups to gain influence and control. However, the actions of this mentioned era was used by later scholars as mean of general ruling and fatwa extraditing tools and methods.
Early stages of theorizing violence
The early stages of legitimizing use of violence was primarily for political purposes according to many historical findings, since most scholars of those eras were linked and affiliated with political dynasties of the time. For instance the most direct and clear indication of violence legitimization is witnessed during the Seljuk dynasty and its famous Vazir Nizam Al-Mulk, who is the founder of Nizamiya School in Baghdad.
This man is considered a very wise, just, trustworthy and eloquent individual, who counseled the Seljuk king and ultimately wrote a book exhorting kings about the methods of governance and leadership. The book is named ‘Siyasat Nameh’ and has several chapters categorizing the priorities, responsibilities and governance methods for any ruler or king, which urges some historian to think that Siyasat Nameh was a book for the elites only. Regardless, the author of this book launched and initiated a systematic and planned elimination of Shia Muslims inside Iraq and other places, by alerting the king about the danger of leaving Shias alone. Nizam Al-Mulk suggests that Shia Muslims are an element of instability and chaos, and prevailing stability and headache-less rule is achieved by eliminating those rouge elements, alongside other minorities like the Esoteric sects.
The trails of Nizam Al-Mulk and his influence is transferred to individuals effected by him and his political rationale. The use of religious rationalization for political gain is later capitalized and implemented by scholars like Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, who is considered among the greatest scholars of Sunni Islam. The affiliation of this scholar with the political entity of that time, forced him to develop a religious fundamental for eliminating oppositions and any group of minorities that were considered dangerous. Therefore, sources indicate that Al-Ghazali legitimized and set the foundation for physical elimination and total abandonment of entire groups and sects, in the name of guarding the Islamic Empire and nation.
Unfortunately, the theological rationales of such individuals was used to wage war against dynasties and groups, under the pretense of being an infidel, esoteric, Shia, non-believer, apostate or blasphemers. Saladin Al-Ayoubi used the work of Nizam Al-Mulk and Al-Ghazali and their likes to legitimize his crimes against the Shias of Egypt and other minorities under his rule. Therefore, although radical scholars like Ibn Taymiya were always condemned and challenged by other Sunni scholars, yet the traditional sources and texts of this school is filled with legitimization of hate, violence and use of force against other groups. It might be right to argue that Wahhabism and its famous scholar Ibn Taymiya and Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab have placed the entire world as their nemesis, due to difference in ideology, yet what is considered mainstream Islam is filled with similar claims as well.
Fortunately, the recent years have presented several individuals with a tendency to come in Public and denounce the content of these traditional sources, which are considered as sacred and worthy of being taught. Several Arab and Muslims channels have aired debates and panels with scholars from numerous schools of thought challenging one another upon the substance of those books and their hateful ideology. Although the trend of such challenges is slow and require more time and additional cleansed resources, and alongside the challenge a healthy and complete alternative is require as well. Once contemporary free-minds and Muslim scholars start to question and challenge the content so these books, they must begin to seek answers and alternatives, as they will have to reassess the entire foundation of what is considered mainstream Islam.
The continuous trail of a bloody ideology
The heart of European Union was struck this morning by two explosions that consumed many innocent lives and left others injured. The previous attacks throughout this continent have always left the impression that the end is not near, and terror will steal security and prosperity from this part of the world and innocents again. Well, here we are in the second day of spring and 2016, yet the world and specifically the western powers would not outline and blame the source of this bloodshed and tyranny, which is called terrorism.
The explosions of Belgium would reveal some facts about the carriers of these horrendous actions, and the ones responsible shall suffer for their crimes against humanity, yet Belgium and other European powers must start to acknowledge the following:
Drying the ideological root of terrorism is more crucial than fighting the actual terrorists in Iraq, Syria and other places.
Identifying the ideological root of terrorism has been conducted and outlined by various global institutions and foundations, which place the institution of Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia in the frontline of terror sponsorship.
Engagement with domestic Muslim youths and addressing their concerns and afflictions to prevent any intrusion using their inability to advance and create opportunity. The notion of Home Grown Terrorism has been the center of many conversations in the west, which creates a necessity about the importance of observing the needs and grievances of minorities in general and Muslims specifically.
Forcing the Muslims leaders to be engaged with Muslims youths and radical elements more frequently is very important. The primary reason, radical individuals are able to persuade and recruit younger generations, is the absence of wise, elder and more knowledgeable scholars and Muslim leaders. The presence of these leaders would enable the Muslims youth to make a better choice using the information provided by those scholars and leaders, which will show them about the bogus claims of radical groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Shia wisdom would like to take this opportunity to send condolences to the families of victims, and may the almighty grant them patience and tranquility. In addition, Shia wisdom and staff condemn these horrific acts in the name of Islam and stand in solidarity with the Belgian people and its officials.
Genocide in Taza (Iraq)
There are numerous dates and events in history’s calendar that will make any human wonder about the viciousness, ruthlessness and barbarism of certain individuals and groups. Unfortunately, these dates mark what the contemporary world considers as (GENOCIDES). The Darfur genocides, the holocaust genocides, the Congo genocides, the Northern Iraqi city (Halabcha) genocide and many others that are a shameful chapter in humanity’s history.
Recently the world was alerted about a new genocide, which took place in Iraq to add to the daily atrocities this country has suffered from for a long time. A small town near Iraq northern city of Kirkuk name ‘Taza’ was subjected to chemical attacks by ISIS, where reports have indicated thousands including women and children are among the dead. The majority of this town’s residents were Shia Muslims, who are considered as infidels and non-believers by ISIS and other Wahhabi groups. In addition, other minorities like the Yazidis and Christians of this town have been reported to be among the victims of this horrific genocide. Earlier, the US state department considered the crime a ‘genocide’ and a crime against humanity, where the secretary called for international legal institutions to investigate the details and trails of this horrendous act.
As mentioned in previous articles and statements by Shia Wisdom, the notion of terrorism will never be beaten by only launching airstrike campaigns and sending possible ground troops. The ideological pool of hatred and fundamentalism these groups are feeding from must be dried and prevented. In addition, all states, groups and individuals who have supported these terrorist groups by any mean (Financial, recruitment, ideology, cyber support and etc.) must be held accountable and persecuted to the full extent of law.
Shia Wisdom and staff send their prayers for the victims and their families, hoping the almighty lord will grant patience and serenity to them and may he bless the souls of all those who have fallen.
By: Moujtaba Alkhalidi
Part 11: The economic factors for generating, sustaining and developing wealth to fight poverty (7) (Social Symbiosis)
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) have asserted the pillars of social symbiosis and solidarity, which have been introduced by Islam on various levels, and this notion is considered among the primary methods to fight poverty, and social instability. The holy Prophet of Islam states in a narration: “He doesn’t believe and follow me, he who sleeps full while his neighbor starves”.
Defining social symbiosis and solidarity according to Islamic principles can be summarized as following: Members of a society are collectively responsible for guarding and protecting the public and private interests, and prevent all damages and harms (materialistic & non-materialistic), where each individual feels that he/she has a social obligation toward society. This feeling will also include the obligation toward the needy and deprived ones, where members of a society will protect this group and prevent any harm that might occur to them. Islamic social solidarity and symbiosis is defined in the narration of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H): “The example of believers in their harmony, mercy and sympathy among each other and for each other is like a single body, as if a body part becomes ill, rest of the body will suffer and feel the pain as well”.
The late Grand Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Al-Shirazi mentions the following about this topic in his jurisprudence encyclopedia: “This topic is either ethical, where absolute belief and submission is the goal, or it is jurisprudential, where it is accompanied with necessity. For instance, during a starvation (famine) year an individual is permitted take what he/she needs as necessary and if repayment is not possible the public treasury is his/her guarantor”.
The 2nd verse of Quran’s 5th chapter states: “and cooperate in righteousness and piety”, and an example for righteousness has been presented by the Quran as well, where the 14th, 15th and 16th verses of Quran’s 90th chapter state: “or feeding on a day of severe hunger. An orphan of near relationship. Or a needy person in misery”.
Islamic law has legislated the financial obligation of a husband toward his spouse’s expenditures and needs, and the financial obligation of a father toward his children as far as they are unable to provide for themselves. In addition, Islamic law has even legislated the financial obligation of a son toward his parents, as far as they are not able to provide for themselves, and all of these legislations are different methods to contain poverty on all sides and levels, since parents, spouses and children form majority of a society.
How religion is viewed according to geographic regionalism
By: Hussein Al-Rumaiti
Humans tend to generalize about how a specific ideology is viewed by the followers of that ideology, neglecting many aspects that influence the formation of individual and collective perspective on matters. Perspective formation of any individual is affiliated with economic status (pleasure VS necessity), political affiliation, education, social class, interaction and many other aspects that shape the daily life of a human being. However, one of the most influential aspects that develop the perspective of an individual about an ideology and more specifically on religion is geographic regionalism, which simply translates to where someone actually lives.
It would be safe to say that Christianity and view of Jesus is drastically different from someone, who lives in New York than someone who lives in Latin America, even though both these individuals might be catholic or protestant. The same notion applies to a Jewish person, who resides in North Toronto compare to another one who lives in Jerusalem. Although one might argue that political realities vary from one region to another, and the comparison might be unjust on many levels, but the fact that both individuals carry a common belief entitles us to develop such an analogy.
In addition, on a diminutive scale the same comparison exists between the followers of one faith in one specific region or even a country, as for instance, the view upon Islam to a Muslim might be entirely different between a Muslim, who resides in Austin Texas and a Muslim who resides in Dearborn Michigan. The existence of such phenomenon is derived from various aspects, as the priorities, necessities, interaction, education and the demographic of each region are outlined by the nature and the regionalism of that specific geographic destination.
Applying the same analogy for Muslims around the world also, should enable an observer in distinguishing between the various ways and perspectives the religion of Islam is viewed and practiced. Therefore, it should not be a matter of complicated science to determine that a Muslim residing in the west, who has been accustomed to western liberalism and secularist nature of life, influences his/her perspective of Islam and how Islam is portrayed. In addition, a Muslim who resides in Saudi Arabia’s closed society, whether he/she supports the political authority or not, is influenced by that society, when it comes to portraying his/her belief and expression of opinion. Nonetheless, these regionalist implications influence the practice of Islam, as anyone can witness the Islam practiced in Turkey is entirely different than the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. Although it should be noted that, the aim of this argument is not about the obligatory practices and rituals of Muslims, like the daily prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, as this comparison addresses the social and even the legislative aspects of Muslims countries.
Therefore, in a place like Bangladesh that is known to be among the world poorest nations, the Muslim majority of this country have elected more female heads of state than many Muslim and western countries. Nonetheless, in Saudi Arabia the country that is considered the heart of Islamic nation, women are stripped from many of their most simple rights and entitlements. Although, the regionalism perspective of Islam in Saudi Arabia is absolutely absurd and unacceptable by rationality and Islam itself, yet the status of women in this country is derived from its historic and regional fundamentalist perspective on Islam.
A similar analogy can be made for countries that have a Christian majority in Africa, where in Eritrea and Ethiopia the rates of female gentile mutilation are very high and worrying. However, these types of practices are fully rejected and even outlawed in other parts of the world, where Christians are the majority of population. Therefore, it would be safe to say that regional and geographic aspects, which consist of social norms, principles, values and even tribal practices are very influential in developing the perspective on religion.
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
O’ messenger of God, peace be upon you and your holy household. Please accept this letter from a Muslim and a follower of your religion, who has tons of grievances and grumbles about the status of your nation at the current time. Your follower want to tell you, what is your nation has become and how Muslims have repaid your years of mercy, preaching, and enlightenment with ignorance, violence and distorting your name. Your follower wants to tell you that you religion and nation is currently viewed and known as source of violence and instability, when the almighty lord states that you were sent upon this world as a mercy. Although, I truly believe you are fully aware of your nation’s conditions and its failures, but I am writing this letter to you as a fluttering mean, since the ears are sealed and the eyes are shut and apprehension is blocked.
O’ messenger of God, the moment you left this world, some of your companions attacked the house of your successor Ali Ibn Abi Talib and assaulted your daughter, Lady Fatima Al-Zahra and your religion was confiscated by a clan, which doesn’t fear the almighty. Your holy Household were persecuted and slaughtered in the most vicious ways possible and their followers were labeled as rejecters. What did they reject? They rejected the treason against Islam and its prophet. They rejected the rule of tyrants and they rejected the violence and corruption, which was taking place in the name of your religion and you personally. Your successor Ali, was struck and assassinated during prayer in the mosque of Kufa, and your grandsons were poisoned and slaughtered and the women of your household, were taken as foreign captives to the (Caliph of Muslims) in Damascus.
O’ messenger of God, the rights, liberties and entitlement granted by Islam, which you preached during the 23 years of your prophecy, were stripped and taken away from Muslims. The respect, which granted to any human being was not longer, and humans were treated based on their allegiance to the Caliph and tyrants. The prisons were filled with innocents, the graveyards were filled with innocent souls, allies and roads of Muslim cities turned red from the blood spilled. The tyrants claimed, they were your successors and narrations distorting your merciful years were fabricated. They claim, you revealed to us the religion of slaughter and violence. They claim, you revealed to us the religion of beheading and you smiled every time an enemy was decapitated. They claim, you married a six years old child, and they claim, and claim and claim.
Yet, I read when you entered Mecca and a man shouted: Today is the day of revenge and slaughter, you replied: “No, say today is the day of mercy”. You entered Mecca without spilling a drop of blood and cutting a branch of a tree and demolishing a single brick of a building. You introduced to the world a covenant for co-existence and tolerance, when this world was governed by tyrants and savages, and you protected the rights of others and assured their right to exist and express.
O’ messenger of God, when it comes to intellect and knowledge, your nation has fallen behind and Muslims have become in need of everyone in all aspects of life, and yet no one needs them in any aspect of life. The current leaders of your nation and what are known as Muslim countries, are occupied with wealth accumulation, favoritism and corruption, which has forced Muslims to leave their lands and migrate elsewhere. O’ messenger of God, when other Muslims shut their doors in the face of oppressed Muslims, other have opened their doors and arms and welcomed them into their lands. The soul and life of a Muslim is worthless and your followers are being slaughtered by individuals claiming to be your followers as well.
O’ messenger of God, some of the scholars in your nation have brought more calamities and affliction upon Muslims than the people, who you battled during life. They preach violence, they preach intolerance, they preach ignorance and they have led many of your followers astray and to their doom’s day. These scholars legitimize terrorizing innocent people, and they legitimize violence and they legitimize taking the soul of a human, which God has stated: the dignity of a human’s soul is greater than the Ka’aba. Yet, when soldiers of darkness and terror carry their crimes, they shout the name of Allah and your holy name, and they claim, their actions portray your will and faith.
O’ messenger of God, the Islam that is presented today to the world is far from your Islam, yet it is still introduced as Islam of Mohammad. Therefore, I pledge that every breath of my life will go toward presenting the true Islam of Mohammad, and the righteous principles and values, which you revealed upon this universe. Knowledge and intellect will be my weapon, my belief, which is derived from your essence and principles, will be my strategy and peace, tranquility and prosperity will be my goals. It is said that a person reflects the actions and values of his/her love and affections. Therefore, I state that you are my love, as love and passion was defined by you and I will always reflect the principles you preached and presented to this world. You were sent as mercy to mankind and therefore, I shall be the reflection of that mercy within my world and surrounding.