The scattered household – part 1

The Holy Household of Prophet Mohammad

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Just browsing through the history of Prophet Mohammad’s household will raise enormous wonderings and questions about the limit of deceit, hypocrisy and brutality that so-called Muslims leaders had. Prophet Mohammad had given tens of narrations about the significance of his household, and the importance of abidance and sincerity to them, where the Prophet had placed the anger of Allah upon angering his household and specifically Lady Fatima Al-Zahra. However, as soon as the Prophet left this world, his household faced some of the vicious atrocities and oppressions and crimes, which makes any observer wonder if those Muslims were really believers of Islam.

Imam Ali (P.B.U.H)

This great man, who has been praised by non-Muslims more than Muslims was cursed in mosques, streets and houses for more than eighty years, by the orders of Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan. The first Islamic civil war was waged against him by one of the Prophet’s wives and other companions. He had to witness his wife and children being beaten and humiliated, and he was humiliated, tied and pulled to the mosque to legitimize a codetta.

Finally this man was assassinated and martyred during the month of Ramadan, while praying and yet he delivers one of the most astonishing sermons for humanity before his death, as he was severely wounded.

Lady Fatima Al-Zahra (P.B.U.H)

To trigger the tears of any Shia Muslims, it would only be enough to ask him/her, where is the tomb of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra? Imagine, the grave of Prophet Mohammad’s daughter was hidden and still remains hidden. This calamity by itself, makes any free mind wonder about the reason that makes Imam Ali hide her grave upon her request.

Her door was burnt, she was pushed behind the door, and she lost a child while in pregnancy, she was beaten, she was humiliated and cussed at before (Muslims), and yet no one dared to say: Stop, this is the daughter of Allah’s messenger.

Imam Al-Hassan (P.B.U.H)

Al-Hassan is among the individuals from the Prophet’s household, who was oppressed and personally attacked during his lifetime and after his death. He was cussed and humiliated, and his close companions betrayed him, while preparing for a battle. Imam Al-Hassan was stabbed by one of his soldiers, and later on forced to accept a seize fire with the governor of Damascus (Muawiya).

Finally, this great man’s spouse conspires against him with Muawiya, in a hope to receive prize and status and poisons him in his house. In addition, during his funeral and burial, Ayesha (Prophet Mohammad’s wife) comes out and refuses to let him be buried beside his grandfather, and his tomb gets shot by hundreds of arrows.

Imam Al-Hussein (P.B.U.H)

This great man, who will later makes history in the battle of Karbala, had to witness the calamities his father, mother and brother had to face. In addition, he was threatened in Medina, the city of his grandfather, and gets forced flee to Mecca, where later on he leaves the Haj rituals to save the city and the holy shrine from a possible catastrophe, as he knew Yazid Ibn Muawiya would not hesitate to burn the Ka’aba if he has to.

Although Imam Al-Hussein received thousands of letters and promises from Kufa, to go there and lead the people there to challenge Yazid’s corrupt rule, he was betrayed by majority of the people there. Ultimately, the army of Yazid and thousands of people from Kufa (including some of the ones who had sent letters) faced Imam Al-Hussein in Karbala and slaughtered the entire family of Imam Al-Hussein and his companions. Imam Al-Hussein’s head was decapitated and raised on a spear and taken from one city to another, while his family (women) were captive, and then taken to Damascus to Yazid. Imam Al-Hussein’s infant was also a victim of this battle, as he was shot by an arrow, when the Imam asked for some water for the child.

Imam Al-Sajjad (P.B.U.H)

It is narrated that Imam Al-Sajjad cried for the rest of his life after the battle of Karbala, where he had to witness the martyrdom of his father and his entire family, and if it wasn’t for his severe illness, he would have been among the ones slaughtered as well. Imam Al-Baqir (Imam Al-Sajjad’s son) narrates that every meal and cup of water was mixed with his tears, as he always remembered the calamity of Karbala and what happened on the day of Ashura.

This Imam was un-officially placed under house arrest, as his communication with the outside world was very minimal, and during his era the oppression of Umayyad dynasty had reached its peak. Ultimately, he was poisoned and martyred by Umayyad agents and buried beside his uncle Imam Al-Hassan in the cemetery of Bani Hashim in Medina.

Imam Al-Baqir (P.B.U.H)

This Imam was among the children, who witnessed the battle of Karbala and saw his entire family, including his grandfather, Imam Al-Hussein being massacred and slaughtered on the day of Ashura. According to narrations, he was five years old and he was among the women and children that were taken as captives to Damascus.

Imam Al-Baqir lived through reign of several brutal Umayyad caliphs and he was finally martyred and poisoned by Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek in the city of Medina and buried beside his father.

To be continued.

 

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.

 

Al-Ghadeer: History’s biggest marginalized fact

 

Islam & Day of Al-Ghadeer

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Couple of days ago Shia Muslims around the word celebrated the most important holiday in their calendar, which marks the anniversary of Imam Ali’s appointment by God, as Prophet Mohammad’s successor and Caliph of Muslims. However, this specific day in Islamic Calendar defines the entire Shia doctrine toward the topic of Imamate and succession, which must be conducted by God and according to Shia traditional and theological sources the events of Al-Ghadeer form the divine principles for Imam Ali’s appointment. Therefore, this day and its events have altered, denied, wrongfully explained, marginalized and misinterpreted by Sunni scholars throughout history. However, dissecting the contextual facts leading to the incident and the details surrounding this day will reveal one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity and Islam in history by marginalizing this day and its importance.

Ghadeer Khom

The holiday of Al-Ghadeer is named after the place, which the events of Al-Ghadeer took place at, as this place is an intersection, where Muslims returning from Mecca (Haj) deviate and choose their path toward their cities and nations. During the early days of Islam, when Muslims returned from Haj, Ghadeer Khom was the place, where people from Medina headed to their city and people from Egypt and other places headed to their home lands as well. Therefore, this specific land was very well known to Muslims and people of Arabia during that time.

Verse of Announcement

The events leading to the appointment of Imam Ali as Prophet Mohammad’s successor started by the revelation of this verse upon Prophet Mohammad, which is the 67th verse of Chapter 5: “O’ Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed his message. And Allah will protect you from the people”. This verse clearly indicates that the message, which the Prophet had been ordered to announce held great importance, as God stated that not announcing this message will equal not conveying and finishing the prophecy and message of Allah. Therefore, according to historic sources prophet Mohammad stopped at Ghadeer Khom and ordered that all caravans, which had passed Ghadeer Khom to return and wait for other caravans to arrive at Ghadeer Khom.

Ghadeer Sermon

According to Islamic historic sources the number of people present at that day succeeded 120,000 people, which also adds to the importance of this day and the message, which Prophet Mohammad was about to announce.  During the hot weather of Arabia desert, Prophet Mohammad gathered all Muslims and ordered a rostrum to be made from the camel saddles, and he prayed the noon prayer and delivered a sermon, which is known as Al-Ghadeer sermon. During this sermon Prophet Mohammad recited many verses from the Quran, which reminded the Muslims and warned them about their deeds and future. In addition, the main part of the sermon is the following: “who is above Muslims and their selves and wealth? People replied: Allah and his messenger are above Muslims, their selves and wealth. The Prophet Mohammad continued and said: Whomever I am his master, Ali is his master. O’ Allah be with whoever is with Ali, hostile to whoever is hostile to Ali, and support whoever supports Ali, and disheartens whoever disheartens Ali.

Once the sermon was finished, Prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali say in a tent and Imam Ali received oath of allegiance from all Muslims (Men & Women), as everyone, who attended that event entered and saluted Imam Ali as commander of the faithful and successor of the Prophet. Leading companions and Muslims such as Jabir Ibn Abdulla, Salma the Persian, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, Abu Bakr, Othman and others were among the first to give allegiance to Imam Ali, and salute him as commander of the faithful.

After Prophet Mohammad finished his sermon, another important verse was revealed to him, which indicated that the announcement of that message was equivalent to finishing and sealing the religion. The 3rd verse of chapter 5 in the Quran, which was revealed to Prophet Mohammad after the Ghadeer sermon states: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. Therefore, it was obvious since Prophet Mohammad had indicated that he was performing his last pilgrimage that year, along with all the mentioned phrases and sentences, appointment of Imam Ali was done by Allah as one of the final commands.

Narrators and Sources of Al-Ghadeer event

The events, sermon and details of Al-Ghadeer and what had happened during that day, are among the events and details that are unanimously narrated by thousands of companions and followers, including the holy household of Prophet Mohammad. The list narrators and sources of this event is as following:

  • Ahlul Bayt (Holy household of Prophet Mohammad), Imam Ali, Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, Imam Al-Hassan, Imam Al-Hussein.
  • 110 leading and prominent companions such as, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari, Salman the Persian, Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari, Ammar Ibn Yasir, Zubir Ibn Al-Awwam, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, Othman Ibn Affan, Abu Huraira, Ayesha (wife of Prophet Mohammad) and many other companions.
  • 83 Followers, or what are known as (Tabe’un) in Islamic history and chain of narrators. Salim Ibn Abdallah, Omar II and Tawus Ibn Kaysan are among most famous followers, who have narrated the events of Al-Ghadeer.
  • 360 Sunni scholars have also narrated the events, sermon and details of Al-Ghadeer in their books and traditional sources. The founder of Shafi’I school in Sunni Islam and the founder of Hanbali School are among the leading Sunni scholars narrating the event of Al-Ghadeer. Other scholars like Al-Nasa’I, Ibn Al-Maghazili, Al-Shahristani and Ahmad Ibn Abdallah are other prominent scholars, who have narrated this event in their sources and books.
  • Prominent Shia scholars like Al-Kulayni, Sharif Al-Murtadha, Sharif Al-Radhi, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Ibn Babawiy and others among the leading narrators of this event in their sources and books.

The event of Al-Ghadeer and its narrations are considered as continuous incurrent hadith among all Shia scholars and many Sunni scholars, which adds to the legitimacy and importance of this day and its details. Therefore, the current marginalization, alteration and misinterpretation of this event and its narrations can be considered as the leading reason behind the division, which has struck the Islamic nation.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Mars

Source: Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo NASA

New research using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

The downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published September 28 by Nature Geoscience.

Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren’t as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.

Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet’s soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.

MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.

“The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are,” said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.

“When most people talk about water on Mars, they’re usually talking about ancient water or frozen water,” he said. “Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL.”

The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.

“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”

There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France.

Publication: Lujendra Ojha, et al., “Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars,” Nature Geoscience (2015); doi:10.1038/ngeo2546

 

WiFi, Move Over – Here Comes LiFi

This article was first published on https://shar.es/17WEH7.  All rights and claims on this article below to Shiawisdom.com claims no responsibility.

Disney researchers last week demonstrated Linux Light Bulbs — a protocol for a communications system that transmits data using visible light communication, or VLC, technology.

Linux Light Bulbs can communicate with each other and with other VLC devices — such as toys, wearables and clothing — over the Internet Protocol, according to Disney scientists Stefan Schmid, Theodoros Bourchas, Stefan Mangold and Thomas R. Gross, who coauthored a report on their work. In essence, they could establish a LiFi network that would function in much the same way that WiFi works.

Scientists have been experimenting with the concept of using light to channel data transmissions for years. Previously, however, the use of VLC supported simple communication between devices. Linux Light Bulbs may take that process one step further by enabling networking on VLC devices.

However, the throughput is critically small compared to other visible light approaches, and the technology suffers from proximity limitations, noted James T. Heires, a consultant at QSM.

“Visible light technology is viable for the Internet of Things, but only on a limited basis. This is due to the physical limitations of visible light,” he told LinuxInsider. The transmitter and receiver “must be within line of sight of each other.”

How It Works

Modern light-emitting diode light bulbs, or LEDs, can provide a foundation for networking using visible light as a communication medium, according to the Disney researchers’ report.

The team modified common commercial LED light bulbs to send and receive visible light signals. They built a system on a chip, or SoC, running the Linux operating system, a VLC controller module with the protocol software, and an additional power supply for the added electronics.

The key to the project’s success was the Linux software that enabled the signals to work with the Internet Protocol. The VLC-enabled bulbs served as broadcast beacons, which made it possible to detect the location of objects on the network and to communicate with them.

The Linux connection is at the software level. The Linux kernel driver module integrates the VLC protocol’s PHY and MAC layers into the Linux networking stack.

The VLC firmware on a separate microcontroller communicates with the Linux platform over a serial interface, the report notes.

Slow Going

The drawback is the speed. The network’s throughput maxed out at 1 kilobit per second, noted SeshuKiran, founder of XAir.

“A data rate of 1 Kpbs means a maximum 2 to 3 pixels of a good photograph can be transmitted per second,” he told LinuxInsider. “Good luck with an entire photo. For half of an HD photo to go, it will take 10.66 days.”

The technology may not be fast enough to compete with other technologies. WiFi operates around 3 GHz, and invisible light frequency starts at 3 THz. That is some 1,000 times higher than the WiFi frequency.

“Technically, it should [seem] that light has a better promise in delivering data. It is true in theory — but electronics and circuits say otherwise,” said Kiran.

Made for IoT

Developers have proposed a wide range of applications for VLC tech — using LiFi in place of anything currently supported by commercial wireless technologies such as WiFi.

“The Disney effort is fairly limited in terms of performance, but other projects suggest that broadband quality data transfer performance is possible, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“The real issue driving VLC is the pervasiveness of the base technology,” he told LinuxInsider.

Data transfer solutions like Wi-Fi require specialized equipment, installation and maintenance. However, light fixtures are virtually everywhere.

“Since LED represents the future of commercial lighting, developers are suggesting that VLC capabilities could easily be enabled in existing homes and businesses without the need for expensive extraneous systems,” King said.

“On the IoT side, VLC would provide an easy way of connecting endpoint sensors to back-end systems without needing to build expensive, dedicated networks,” he pointed out.

The Disney researchers developed hardware peripherals that effectively turn a consumer LED fixture into a Linux host, including a kernel module that integrates the VLC’s physical and MAC (media access control) protocol layers with a Linux-based networking stack, King added.

Trying Times

Light has been used as a communication medium for decades. Major uses include fiber optics and infrared devices, noted Heires. Auto industry researchers have been investigating the incorporation of VLC tech into headlights and sensors to allow cars to communicate with each other and thus avoid collisions.

“Applications such as using light to extend the range of a WiFi signal are within reason. However, since light does not travel through solid objects, such as walls or floors, light is impractical for applications such as TV control, sensor monitoring or security,” he said.

Brighter Ideas to Come

One of the lowest data rate uses for VLC and the IoT is for automatic door openers equipped with light sensors at the lock. Point your smartphone at the door and flash a modulated-light app with a specific code to open the door.

Such a system would work for homes, hotels, garages and more.

Another use is modulating streetlights to deliver specific information, such as alerts and emergencies, across an entire city.

It also could be used to safeguard top secret communications between coworkers.

“If a light bulb in the garden could deliver commands for the automated sprinkler, … that would be “a definite possibility,” Kiran suggested. “Data rates are not yet crucial there.”

Islamic Lunar Calendar

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The Islamic Lunar Calendar or Hijri Calendar, which consists of 12 months in a year of 354 days, is used to date events in Muslim countries, and used by all Muslims to determine the proper days of Haj season, fasting month (Ramadhan) and other Islamic holidays and festivals. The initiation of this calendar is dated to the migration of Prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina, which occurred in 622 AD. The interesting fact about this calendar lays in the number of days it holds, which are 10 to 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. In addition, determining the beginning and end of the month depends on crescent sighting, which can be different from one geographic zone to another. The issue of determining the beginning of the Hijri month usually becomes problematic prior to Ramadhan and at the end of Ramadhan, as Muslims are eager to determine the first and last day of this holy month. Therefore, majority of Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni, turn to their religious authority institutions and wait for their announcements to formally determine the start and end of Ramadhan.

In addition, due to difference in jurisprudential opinions, during some years, Muslims are divided and start the month of Ramadhan in two different days, which ultimately affects the end of the month as well. However, the necessity lays in determining the end of the months, as Muslims are prohibited from fasting on the day of (Eid), which marks the end of Ramadhan. Therefore, even if the beginning of the month is differed upon, Muslims can fast that day with an intention of doubt, which means if that day is Ramadhan, then it is considered as first day, and if it is not the first day, it will only considered as commendable deed. However, fasting beyond the last of Ramadan with the intention of Ramadhan fasting would subject Muslims to atonement.

However, to evade such a dilemma, Shia jurisprudence has presented several options, which are used as simplification methods for Muslims during the months, where crescent sighting is important and essential (Ramadhan & Haj Season).

  • The first solution for this problem is very simple, as it has been offered by the Quran itself in verse 185 of chapter 2: “So, whoever of you sights the month, he must observe fasting”. Therefore, Muslims are suggested to go for heights and do what Islam calls moon-sighting. In this case, if any Muslim sights the crescent, he/she is obligated to start fasting on the next day, regardless if rest of the Islamic world is fasting on the next or not, as his/her sighting is sufficient. Therefore, that person will do the same thing upon the 29th day of Ramadhan, and if he/she sights the moon again, that would mark the end of Ramadhan for him/her and the next day is considered Eid for that person. However, if the crescent was not sighted, that person will fast the full 30 days of Ramadhan, and after the completion of 30 days the month of finished and the first day of the following month is considered Eid.
  • The other situation that might occur is due to the impossibility of moon sighting, due to weather conditions or any other obstruction. Therefore, Islamic jurists can permitted to Muslims to travel outside their towns boundaries, as they have travel over 24 kilometers, and return to their home only once the time of noon prayer has arrived. This solution can be done after a Muslim has fasted for 29 days, and there is a possibility that the 30th day is Eid.

Islamic Lunar Calendar Months

Just like any other calendar consists of 12 months, as mentioned earlier. The Islamic Lunar year start on the first of month of Muharram and end on the 29th or 30th day of month of Dhu Al-Hijjah. The name of Islamic Lunar months are:

  • Muharram
  • Safar
  • Rabi Al-Awwal (I)
  • Rabi Al-Thani (II)
  • Jumada Al-Awwal (I)
  • Jumada Al-THani (II)
  • Rajab
  • Sha’aban
  • Ramadhan
  • Shawwal
  • Dhu Al-Qa’adah
  • Dhu Al-Hijjah

Among these 12 months, four of them are considered the forbidden months, which many historians and scholars believe those forbidden designation to these months dates back to pre-Islamic era in Arabia. The four forbidden months are: Muharram, Rajab, Dhu Al-Qa’adah and Dhu Al-Hijjad. During these months Arabs and later on Muslim refrained from wars and any sort of confrontation, as whomever broke the code was renounced by rest of the Arab tribes.

Astronomical VS Visual consideration of Lunar Calendar

The issue of using astronomical calculations or modern tools to determine the beginning and end of Islamic months has been raised and used by several Muslim jurists and scholars. According to those scholars and jurists, considering and using astronomical methods to determine the beginning and end of the lunar month is permissible, as these calculations are precise and accurate. Therefore, Muslims are able to carry their rituals precisely on the intended dates and times, as the visual sighting of the crescent is subjected to several conditions and complications.

However, the scholars rejecting astronomical methods are not denying the accuracy of calculations or the tools used, as modern science has been able to determine the birth of the crescent several days prior to its birth. Nevertheless, the rationale used by these scholars to their rejection is derived from the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household. According to those scholars, the visual accessibility of moon sighting has been labeled by the Quran through (Naked Eye), meaning without any tools or calculation. The Quranic verse state sighting not observing, as observing can be attained through telescopes or even astronomical calculations. Therefore, those scholars reject any notion of astronomical consideration for determining the start and end of the Islamic lunar months.

Regardless, this specific issue should not be viewed as a divisive matter, as Muslims are obligated to take their religion from the experts, and those jurists and scholars are the expert, which becomes an issue of submission to the expertise of the jurist a person follows.

Islam & Technology

 

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The discussion whether science and religion are compatible has been around for decades, as some argue that autocracies have not added anything to science and technology, therefore the nature of religious fundamentals is not compatible with science. However, although this discussion still remains very active, the use and benefiting from science and technology is also the subject of many discussions among religious scholars.

Islam’s view on the notion of using modern technology and science is very similar to other religions, as it promotes the use of any modern means to simplify life for better causes and purposes. However, the difference lays in Islam’s consideration for all aspects affiliated with using technology and science, as these facilities come with various complications and twisting struggles that might challenge the faith of a believer. Therefore, Islamic jurisprudence has weighed in and presented many solutions for the proper use of technology and science, to enable Muslims take advantage of them in the best way possible, which doesn’t jeopardizes compliance with Islamic laws.

Primary purpose of Science and Technology

As majority of scientists argue, the purpose of science and technology is to serve people and make their lives simpler and more efficient, which means any negative and wrong use of science and technology was not originally intended.  However, we have witnessed that individuals and groups have taken advantage of technology and science to slaughter people, eliminate races, and endanger humanity. In addition, the same ‘peaceful’ means of technology have been used for socially-ill purposes, like pornographic sites, intra-marital affairs, brainwashing youths and individuals, hacking and cybercrimes and many other technological actions that harm the society. Therefore, Islam’s goal to interfere with use of technology and science is only for the purpose of bringing sanity, rationality, accordance, ethical conduct, respect and compliance with religious and statuary laws.

Islamic Prospect on use of Technology

Islam views the primary use of technology should be in accordance with the original purpose that was behind the creation and development of technology, which is simplification and accommodation. The notion of simplification and accommodation can be affiliated with any aspect of one’s life, which can be personal, public, religious and ideological. An individual can use technology to generate wealth and revenue through legal and legit means, provide services and information for the public, deliver and present his ideologies and religious values and principle to others. Therefore, for instance something like internet can be used for legit on-line business, public information site or it can be used for cyber financial scams and preaching hate and violence.

The role of religion is to identify the threats and dangers of technology and outlining them to believers to prevent them from ever using technology in a way that makes them legally and jurisprudentially responsible. Islam does not place a limit on using technological means, as far as the use of such methods is for legit and legal purposes, especially if such a notion is used for delivering and presenting the true essence of Islam and its peaceful message. However, once technology is used for personal desires that demolish the characteristics of human being and his/her dignity, Islam intervenes and prohibits such use. Once technology is used to spread hateful and violent ideologies, Islam suggests using the same technology to present the opposite ideology and promote peace and tranquility. Once technology is used for generating illegitimate wealth, Islam intervenes and says the wealth generated through such method is Haram and unlawful. Once technology is used breaching people’s privacy through hacking and infiltration, Islam weighs in and states, individual privacy and personal affairs are not be shared in public, and any harm that might occur from such action should be indemnified and compensated.

However, some might argue that the mentioned laws and Islamic principles about use of technology have been addressed through statuary legal avenues, and nothing new is presented. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that Islamic principles and jurisprudential law have laid the ground work for these modern methods centuries ago, which means majority of these Islamic laws are extracted and derived from principles that are over centuries old. In addition, Islamic jurisprudence has presented answers and basic ground work for some of the most sophisticated scientific works in the recent years as well. Cloning, Telecommunication, surveillance, stem cell research, residence in space and other planets, property and ownership in space and other planets, natural resources gathering methods, genetic alteration and many other modern technological and scientific discoveries and advancements are subjected to Islamic laws and jurisprudence. Therefore, any Muslim is able to take advantage of these astonishing superiorities and advancements, if he/she comply with the principles and laws outlined by Islamic jurisprudence.

Are Science and Faith Finally Finding Common Ground?

By: Ali Reza

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

Shifting the Paradigm

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

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

Finding Common Ground

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

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

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

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

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

Minimizing the Conflict

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