Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 4

Below is the continuation and part of three of previous article previous article, Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 3.
By: Mostafa Daneshgar

  1. The government’s responsibility toward poverty from the standpoint of jurists

The financial resources of the government can be divided into two parts. 1-Resources used for special purposes and allocated by religious rulers:

Zakat is one of the most important resources that’s spent among others in favor of the poor and needy. Khoms is also used for special purposes and is spent as a share of the Imam and the needy Sayyids [descendants of the Prophet Muhammad]. The jurists have maintained that if the share of the Sayyids is short of their needs and they are still in need, the ruler is obliged to compensate the deficit by using the assets at his disposal.

Sheikh in Mabsut (18), Ibn Borraj in Muhaddeb (19), Muhaqqeq in Sharaye (20), Sahrashti in Asbah al-Shiah (21), Yahya ibn Saeed in al-Jame Lil-Sharaye (22), the First Martyr in Bayan (23) and Dorous [Lessons] (24) and Allameh in Irshad al-Azhan (25) have all strengthened the idea. However, Allameh in Qawaid (26) and Talkhis al-Maram (27) have interpreted it as “as one wills” which highlights its weakness. Ibn Idris is the only opponent of the notion who has absolutely rejected it.

He believes that the right of the penniless Sayyids is half of Khoms and this amount is spent in favor of them whether it is short of their needs or not.  Hence, the ruler has no responsibility toward the penniless Sayyids if their share is less than what’s needed to fulfill their needs. (28) In case we accept the jurists’ opinion which says the needs of the penniless Sayyids must be fulfilled out of the public funds, then the question is: Out of which public funds should they be paid? Some believe that only such assets as public property can be used in favor of the poor and penniless. Some others maintain that other assets that are not spent for any clear purpose can be used to this end. Most jurists support the latter notion.

The second type of government financial resource is that which has no purpose and the ruler can allocate the funds in favor of Muslims. Naturally, one such interest is the eradication of poverty. Spoils of war belong to the religious government. Mines are an important subdivision of this category. The swathes of land which have been captured by Muslims during wars are the property of Muslims. These territories are under the supervision of the religious ruler and they are used to serve the public interest like [the construction of] bridges, mosques, [the payment of] state servants and army personnel’s salaries.

Public property also belongs to the religious government. Tax is an instance of public property.  Sheikh in Mabsut, Mohaqeq in Sharaye, and Allameh in Taxkerah and Montaha say tax serves the interests of Muslims. Clearly, the poor and penniless are part of the interests of the Muslim society. (29) Jizya does not constitute a large part of the public property. However, it is some sort of tax that was received from the people of the book. Jurists are divided over how it should be spent. Sheikh in Khelaf, Nehayah and Mabsut and Allameh in Tazkerah consider it as spoils of war and say it must be spent on soldiers and those who assist Islam. Mofid in Moqneah and Ibn Idris in Saraer say it should be spent in the interests of Muslims including satisfying the needs of the poor and penniless. (30) Endowments and desirable charities and on the whole popular aid are a huge resource for the government to meet the requirements and cover expenses. If a government is efficient and decent, there will be bilateral trust between the government and the people. As a result, the latter will make an effort to fulfill its responsibilities in the best possible way by using that aid. (31)


Fighting absolute poverty in the eyes jurists  
(coming soon)

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 3

Below is the continuation and part of three of previous article.
By: Mostafa Daneshgar


B) Voluntary assistance offered by the rich to the poor

Assisting the destitute is a much-emphasized desirable and noble act in Islam. Islamic jurisprudence has dedicated several books and chapters to describing the duties of institutions involved in such activities. Lending is one of them. As Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Nadjafi [also known as Saheb Javaher] says, religious texts have repeatedly spoken about the virtue and reward of lending.

A great virtue and reward is granted for assisting the needy and solving their plight. (9)  Endowment is another lasting Islamic tradition through which lots of charities are given. There are several types of endowment. They include endowment in favor of public interests in general and endowment for the poor in particular. Charity is also a fixed structure in Muslim societies. Saheb Javaher says the payment of charity has been so highly and frequently emphasized that it’s become a necessity in not only Shia but other Islamic denominations as well. Numerous hadiths and prophetic sayings have underlined that the Almighty God considers it highly valuable. The hadiths reiterate that charity ends up with Allah before being given to the needy. (10)

It is also desirable that the rich specify in their will that a third of their wealth be spent as charity. Wills could also go to public interest or only to the poor. Although Nazr is among obligations, it is a voluntary act in nature and considered as an obligation because the individual has committed himself to doing it, hence as it is basically a voluntary act. Nazr is done only in the case of permissible issues and anything done based on Nazr is considered not only permissible but recommended.  Feeding the poor, providing dowry for orphan girls, paying the poor’s debt etc. are all instances of Nazr.

The recognized right is one of the desirables. The holy Quran says: “And those in whose wealth is a recognized right for the needy who asks and him who is prevented [for some reason from asking].” (11) The recognized right is that human beings should oblige themselves to pay [as charity] a certain amount according to their financial power each day or week or month and thus should help those in need.

There are numerous hadiths which underscore the virtue of the recognized right. It is said that the late Sheikh Sadouq believed that the recognized right is Wajib. Jurists other than Sheikh Sadouq are not divided over the desirability of the recognized right. Saheb Javaher believes that if someone refers to the texts and sources in which the recognized right has been mentioned and perceives that it may be Wajib, then they must lack the intuition to savvy the sayings and are thus not entitled to issue fatwas. The allegation leveled against Sheikh Sadouq is not correct because he in fact only quoted his interpretation of the hadiths. Sheikh Sadouq says that the recognized right is different from Zakat; the latter is a portion of the wealth a person is obliged to pay according to his financial power. Thus, the allegation against Sheikh Sadouq is not correct.

(12) Another desirable is the harvesting right. The holy Quran says: “Render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered.” (13) Some believe that the dues are the obligatory Zakat. However, many hadiths have described this right as something different from Zakat. They say it is what is given to the needy in his attendance while fruits are being picked or the crops are being harvested, which has no fixed limit. Some people also believe that the harvesting right was an obligatory order until the time when Zakat was declared obligatory after which it was nullified. (14) On the contrary, the late Sheikh believes that harvesting right is obligatory and the late Sayyid Morteza in Intisar also calls the harvesting right desirable but adds that it the right is also likely to be obligatory. He has said in Hadaiq that the harvesting right is desirable by consensus, though. (15) Sheikh Ansari claims that the harvesting right creates a fixed responsibility (16) and Saheb Javaher says the harvesting right is absolutely desirable. (17)

2. The government’s responsibility toward poverty from the standpoint of jurists (Coming in Part 4)

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 2

Below is the continuation and part of two of previous article.

Eradication of Poverty from the viewpoint of jurists

By: Mostafa Daneshgar

A study of the different aspects of Islamic jurisprudence shows that in the eyes of the jurists, eradication of poverty can be considered from two perspectives: the obligations of the rich and the obligations of the religious government. Hence, we will address the two areas to understand their views.

1) Responsibilities of the rich toward the poor

These duties can be divided into voluntary and obligatory groups.  By voluntary duties, we mean the rules pertaining to the desirables which have been outlined by Islam for satisfying the needs of the poor and for which afterlife reward has been promised.  Borrowing, endowing, Zakat (Statutory Islamic levy on specified items to be used for Muslims’ welfare) and wills fall in this category.  Another type of voluntary duty is that to which a Muslim commits himself. For instance, he pledges, say, to feed the poor if his request is fulfilled. Although after people commit themselves to Nazr (a solemn vow whose fulfillment is Wajib), it must be fulfilled; yet, Nazr is considered a voluntary responsibility as it is basically a voluntary act.

By obligatory duties, we mean those which have been described by the religion as a duty for the rich. Zakat, Khums (Statutory 20% Islamic levy on certain things) and financial Kaffarah (a “covering” action taken by someone who’s made a mistake or committed a sin) are of this type.

A) The financial duties of the rich

Zakat is among the most famous financial obligations for Muslims. Regardless of where it comes from and what it applies to, Zakat goes to the poor and destitute. There are eight cases on which Zakat is spent. Khoms is another financial obligation half of which goes to the Sayyids [descendants of the Prophet Muhammad’s household].The Ramadan Zakat known as Fitrah is another financial obligation spent in favor of the poor. The criterion for paying Fitrah is the food consumed by the public.

Islam has levied financial punishments or fines to compensate for certain sins. These are called Kaffarahs. Feeding the destitute or giving them clothes are forms of Kaffarah for many of the sins.  Kaffarahs are of four types.

The first one is Moratabah. This means that first a fine is determined and in case of failure to pay it, another fine will be determined. Moratabah is of three types. The punishments for Zihar (calling wives mothers) and manslaughter are liberating a slave or, in case of failure, fasting two months in a row or, in case of failure, feeding 60 destitute people. Anyone who breaks his fast after noon shall have to feed ten destitute people. In case of failure, he must fast for three days in a row.

The second type of Kaffarah is called Mukhayyerah. This means that the wrongdoer can choose from among the punishments administered for the sin he has committed. Accordingly, anyone who, say, breaks his fast in Ramadan or breaks a promise or Nazr and also a woman who gets a haircut while mourning a loved one must either release a slave or fast for two consecutive months or feed sixty poor people.

The third kind of Kaffarah is the Mukhayyerah-Moratabah. Anyone who breaks his oath or a woman who pulls her hair or injures her face while mourning a loved one or a man who tears his clothes while mourning his child or wife can liberate a slave or feed ten poor people or clothe them. In case he/she cannot afford to do so, they can fast for three days in a row.

The fourth type is the collective Kaffarah. That becomes necessary when someone kills a faithful person on purpose or unintentionally or when they break their fast in Ramadan by doing something which is haram or forbidden under the Islamic Sharia. To compensate for these sins, the perpetrator must liberate a slave, fast for two months in a row and feed 60 penniless people. (8) A study of the four types of Kaffarahs reveals the high importance Islam attaches to the poor.  As for the Moratabah and Mukhayyerah Kaffarahs, what is prevalent in practice is the feeding of the penniless. Another obligation is that when someone is in dire need of food, anyone who can afford to feed him is obliged to do so and save him from the dire situation.

B)Voluntary assistance offered by the rich to the poor (Coming in Part 3)

Fear of Unknown. Legitimate or Artificial?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Majority of humans tend to reject things and matters that are ambiguous and unknown to them, and in some cases they oppose and fear some notions although they are fully aware. Nevertheless the notion of fear is part of human nature and there is nothing abnormal about having a Phobia from a specific matter. However, fear should be controlled and contained like any other habit or norm that a human adopts. The ability to overcome fear is depended on several factors, which can be categorized in the following order:

  • Psychological aspect. The first step to overcome any type of fear and phobia is to acknowledge the fear and be willing to deal with it accordingly. This notion has an opposite side to it as well, often humans tend to be fearful of things that do not exist. For example entering a graveyard at night is a common fear. Nonetheless, everyone agrees that, there is no legitimate reason for this fear, as there is nothing in the graveyard other than dead corpses buried under the ground.
  • Educational aspect. Majority of people tend to oppose or be fearful of matters that are unknown to them. Therefore, the first step to overcome this type of fear is to study whatever it is that we are afraid of. One of the major fears and phobia in today’s world is Islam phobia, which has been raised in the west due to the emergence of radical elements within the Muslims with radical ideologies. Therefore, the first thing an individual may do to overcome this fear is to study this religion and belief, and see if his/her fear is legitimate or not.
  • Social aspect. A person does not need to be a sociologist to realize that socially challenged individuals like criminals or people that are suspicious about everything, or angry individuals are usually the ones that are afraid of irrelevant matters. Therefore, by adopting a healthy social life many of the fears and phobias can be treated. Tolerant and forgiving individuals tend to have tranquility and calmness within their personality, which will eventually lead to being socially fearless and fearless when it comes to dealing with others. Even, when it comes to criminals sociologists tend to find social fears as roots behind the violent nature of criminals. Fear of being outcast member of society due to ethnicity or race or religion, fear of not being able to overcome economic hardships and many other social fears push many individuals over the limit and puts them on the wrong side of the law.
  • Spiritual aspect. This notion has a strong link to religion and the concept of belief, as devoted and religious individuals tend to be fearless and tolerant toward many things. Although this notion can be disputed by claiming that many of the radical individuals that are joining terrorist groups are devoted and religious individuals. True statement, but in this case we might be able to argue that notion of being fearless have passed its limits, as one of the main pillars of being a devoted person is the fear of your creator and by terrorizing innocent people, a devoted individual has rejected the core definition of devotion, since he is not fearing his creator or the mighty entity that he/she believes in. therefore, being spiritually devoted will eventually result in tranquility and tolerance, which leads to overcoming many fears.
  • Personal aspect. This notion is linked directly to the personality of each individual. Successful individuals of the society are the perfect examples of overcoming fears, as they have been able to turn against their hardships and obstacles by hard work and devotion and achieve things in the right manner.
  • Political aspect. No one can deny the fact that many states and governments use the notion of fear as a mean of achieving legitimacy. Fear of scarce can be a perfect mean to sell many items off the shelves of a grocery store. Fear of sectarian conflict is a perfect way to convince masses accepting an authoritarian regime, since democracy might bring the rogue elements of the society that are more organized. Therefore, the notion of (the devil I know, is better than the one I don’t know) will be legitimate in this specific case for the masses. This fear can be treated by accepting the fact that the unknown future can be fearful and in some cases devastating. However, one will not know until he/she tries to change his condition and situation to the better. Accepting to be ruled by the fear of current regime is worse than the unwillingness to change. If the future changes to the better, the whole society benefits from change, and if future does not change after efforts or revival, we can say that at least: WE TRIED.

As mentioned before, it is normal to have a fear and be pessimistic about different things, but as far as we stay in the circle of fear we are forcing the unknown upon ourselves.  Humans create the unknown, and they are the ones able to change it, and as far as they are willing to make thing change, the concept of fear should be limited to things like being afraid of a wild animal, which is very legitimate as majority of people are not qualified to confront a wild animal. Overcoming fears have helped individuals fight death through battling cancer and other deadly diseases. Overcoming fears have helped nations topple vicious dictators and enjoy freedom. Overcoming fears have helped great individuals throughout history to achieve massive successes. Overcoming fears have helped many great thinkers to transfer their thoughts into written words so the masses can benefit from them and elevate themselves. Imagine if Francis Bacon would have surrendered to the fears of his time, and imagine of Prophet Mohammad would have surrendered to the fears of his time. Imagine if Jesus would have surrendered to the fears of his time. Imagine if the world would have surrendered to the fear of Hitler and other lunatics.

Therefore, fear can be demolished if we recognize the necessity of not being afraid.

 

 

 

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 1

By: Mostafa Daneshgar

The present research aims to offer an insight into the views of Shia jurists on how poverty, particularly absolute poverty, should be encountered. Hence, the study will try to answer such questions as: How should poverty be tackled? What is the duty of the rich and rulers in the fight against poverty? What is the extent of this duty? Should fighting absolute poverty be prioritized over fighting other levels of poverty or not?

Human societies have always suffered from poverty. After the industrial revolution, human capabilities developed in an unprecedented way. In spite of spinning the wheels of industry through strenuous labor and mass production, workers were deprived of minimum rights. Under such circumstances, poverty is bitterer and causes more suffering. The disasters that befell the workers during the industrial age ushered in anti-capitalist ideologies.

Marxism was the most lasting and outstanding offspring of the situation. Meanwhile, workers and the poor unrelentingly fought to achieve their rights. Today, the capitalist system has managed, after many ups and downs, to considerably alleviate the suffering of the poor through the establishment of an efficient social security system. The success of the capitalist system has posed this question to the rival schools of thought as to how they viewed poverty and what tool they devised to fight the heinous phenomenon.

Islam and Muslim Poverty
Muslim scholars are pursuing the issue with special interest. This is because all Muslim nations are among underdeveloped or developing countries and large numbers of people in these societies suffer from poverty and backwardness. Rampant poverty in Muslim countries has prompted some individuals to point the finger at Islam, blaming the dire conditions on Islamic ideology and beliefs. Hence, it is necessary to study the views of Islam and Muslims about poverty. Muslim jurists and scholars have been the most prominent religious figures of Islam throughout history shouldering the responsibility for discovering and outlining Islamic rules. The jurists have served as a link connecting people to Islam and playing a key role in the development of religious views. Thus, it is important to study and assess their views on how poverty should be fought.

This research aims to delve into the standpoints of the jurists on the issue of poverty and seek their answers to the following questions:

  • What is the edict of jurists about fighting the dire situation faced by people in impoverished societies?
  • Do they consider fighting poverty and its worst form, that is, absolute poverty, a religious duty and a must and pursue this with special interest or merely consider it as a desirable?
  • If they consider eradicating poverty a must, then does the obligation to fight the phenomenon lie with the government or with all the rich, particularly in case the government is not able or does not want to give priority to tackling the issue? To what extent must poverty be fought?
  • Should the government levy new taxes for this purpose if ordinary taxes fail to meet the needs of the poor or borrow national loans? Should the wealthy pay as much money as necessary to eradicate poverty if tax revenues are not sufficient?

Fighting poverty can be divided into three stages from the perspective of any of the viewpoints:

  1. Natural resources and the way they are distributed is a key factor in breeding poverty. The monopoly of the resources by a special group will culminate in poverty. Hence, a group of development economists like Myrdal (2), Griffin (3), Emerij (4) and Todaro believe that strategies whose aim is to root out poverty and satisfy the primary needs of human beings should focus on the natural resources and riches.
  2. Productive forces. Productive forces have an important part in the breeding of poverty. The mechanism of economic activities and the extent of economic freedoms determine the roles of production forces in both labor and capital markets. For instance, the 18th and 19th centuries in industrial countries can be called the age of absolute and unlimited power of the capitalists. Free contracts allowed the capitalists to impose their terms and conditions on workers as a result of which wages were so low that a writer in that period says: “If it was possible to discover some food less pleasant than bread but sufficient to sustain the body for 48 hours, then people would have to eat once in every two days.” (5) Workers were subjected to aggression, oppression and abuse. This is depicted by writers in different ways. Hiring children regardless of their age in the most unhygienic conditions, long hours of hard work for men and women, meager wages, violence in the workplace and diseases caused by unhygienic conditions of the workplace were all caused by totally liberal contracts. The classicist French economist Jean-Batiste Say describes the tough working conditions in England after a visit to the country in 1815 in this way: “Although he is the breadwinner for his family and despite all strenuous efforts he makes at work, which deserves praise, a worker is not able to provide more than three fourths and at times slightly more than half of his vital needs.” (7) The market mechanism based on its supply and demand curve shows the economic equilibrium. However, this mechanism cannot tell whether the equilibrium is proportionate to the minimum wage. Therefore, the type of market mechanism and the extent of economic freedom as well as the presence of the government in the economic sector all play an effective role in breeding poverty.
  3. Redistribution: When the economy wheels began to spin and economic activities started, any of the production forces secures a share in proportion to the economic mechanism of society and earns income.

In the meantime, families who have no breadwinners or have handicapped breadwinners or jobless ones have no share of the economic activities. A group of people are also working but for some reason their income is too low to cover their living costs.  As a result, these people are below the poverty line. At this stage, the necessity for redistributing wealth and streamlining the social security system becomes clear. Each economic system based on its own viewpoint and economic situation designs special tools to confront the problem. These tools are not equally efficient. Two of the three foregoing stages, that is, the combination of primary assets and production forces address the roots of poverty. The third stage explores the ways of fighting poverty. That’s why gaining an insight into all viewpoints of an ideology or school of thought on the phenomenon calls for studying all the three stages. This research studies the third stage.

Therefore, its subject is the eradication of poverty from the standpoint of Shia jurists. The research approaches the subject from two angles. The first one is related to the views of the jurists about eradication of poverty without emphasizing a certain type of poverty. The second one focuses on absolute poverty. In fact, after studying the case from the first angle, this question arises: Have jurists set a priority regarding the fight against the harshest type of poverty, that is, absolute

Eradication of poverty from the viewpoint of jurists (Coming in Part 2)

Where is the World Heading?

Economic meltdowns, Civil Conflicts, Natural Disasters, Political Turmoil, Poverty, Neo Slavery and etc…

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

By spending one hour a day watching news from around the globe, an observer will be able to determine that there is serious calamities and tragedies of all natures taking places all over the world. What is notable is, these problems are not limited to a specific geographic destination, and they do not differentiate between the developing world, or the developed world or the destitute places on this planet.  Whether in the United States, Europe, Japan or in Africa or the Middle East, there are calamities and tragedies everywhere, and everyone is seeking solutions and asking questions about the roots, the reasons and the outcomes.

Africa has been the home to some of the most tragic violent ethnic and sectarian conflicts with victims Africa Povertyexceeding millions, and illnesses ripping the social fabric of this beautiful continent. To top these tragedies, record levels of poverty and misplaced masses are exhausting the nations and keeping them in constant need of foreign aid and being exposed to intrusions and outside influence.

The Middle East is torn apart due to political turmoil and sectarian tensions, which is evaporating any notion of co-existence and tolerance in this ancient part of the world that is the birthplace of the major three monotheistic religions in the world.

Europe is being exhausted with its fragile economy, and the ability to contain its masses in different parts of this continent. The state of unity that brought the nations of this continent together seems to be the factor in dividing this continent once more. In addition, the masses tend to turn toward solutions that are more radical by supporting conservative and radical political parties to save their national and personal interests.

The current super power of the world, the United States is losing its luster day after day due to heavy burdens domestically and abroad. Natural disasters and a super growing national debt is exhausting the United States, and prevents it from playing the same role it played decades ago in the world. The domestic tendency to pursue a more isolationist nature of politics is becomes stronger in the United States as well.

Nevertheless, the world is witnessing hideous actions like modern types of slavery, poverty, schism and clashes between classes in general, and the question remains, what is the solution? Why is God letting so much oppression take place? Why the rich is getting richer and why the poor is getting poorer? Where is the World heading? These questions are very common in these days, and a person does not need to be an atheist to be able to question these matters.

Politics has failed us

To start with, without any skepticism the failures of modern political schools is the main reason behind the Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, King Abdullah, Jacob Zuma, Dmitry Medvedev, Meles Zenawi, Wayne Swan, Naoto Kan, Guido Mantega, Recep Tayyip Erdogantragedies and calamities of this era. Ever since the Industrial revolution and implementation of new political order in this world, the notion of social classes has been expanded and the gap has been dilated day after day. The main theme and ideology behind most political schools, whether realism, liberalism and even socio-political philosophies like capitalism and Marxism is to ensure survival of the state, and secure self-interest.

These schools of thoughts have failed to maintain a secure notion for individualism in their societies, and even the current concept of individualism in today’s modern societies is affiliated with the notion of collective security, and interests of the state, not the sole interest of the individual him/her self. Therefore, the concept of humanity has been stripped out of its core, and its definitions are presented according to political tendencies and implementations.

Ever since the implementation of new world system, planet earth has witnessed two brutal world wars with numbers of victims being more than one hundred millions. Due to the clash of ideologies, (Capitalism VS Marxism) proxy wars and civil unrest ravished numerous countries, and civil conflicts and traditional wars have been inevitable. Therefore, all the efforts to prevent conflicts and tensions have been unsuccessful, which ultimately means the system is not functional, or in other word NOT RIGHT.

The Problem Within:

The 11th verse of Quran’s 13th chapter says, “Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves“. The notion here is not to put the blame for today’s situation entirely on the masses themselves, but reality indicates that a big portion of the problem lies within their will and ability to desire change and wellness for themselves. History is filled with examples that shows how the masses took initiative to change their destiny and future, and regain their wills from the hands of some of the most cruel and brutal tyrants.

Therefore, the masses are faced with two choices:

  1. Their current situation is normal due to the nature of the global system, and turbulences in any path are random, and they shall be dealt with. Therefore, there is no need for drastic change, conditions will ultimately get better, and al tragedies and calamities will be over eventually.
  2. The current situation is due to the unfair nature of the current system, which is only in the benefit of the states and big corporations, and the ones with massive capital are benefiting from the calamities and tragedies. Therefore, tyranny has reshaped itself to the form of global system, and out rights shall be taken by struggle, and a drastic change is mandatory.

The one unified fact that exist in this world is the power of will and the ability to make decision, and all humans are entitled to this right no matter what. Therefore, regardless of which route is chosen by the masses, they should be willing to face the consequences of their decisions. Under no circumstance, a state or any system is able to prevent change if the masses decide it is time for change, and the power of free will is stronger than any coercive force regardless of its power.

Is there Hope?

Hope is one of the mercies that have been given to humankind to ease the pains and make the progress ofcandles world transformation more desirable and pleasurable. Nevertheless, hope is meaningless without action, and everlasting hope will kill and demolish competencies and creativity, and in some cases it could lead to catastrophic results. The first step to legitimize hope is to acknowledge the need for change, and the existence of conflict and tragedy. The fact that there are many individuals and groups seeking answers for the occurrence of these tragedies and calamities is the first step to have hope for a better tomorrow.

The other fact, which shows the core definition of the concept of humanity is still alive and present within the masses, is the good nature existing within people. We can always witness the willingness to help the victims of a calamity of any nature. The tendency to donate and the willingness to travel to disaster areas by volunteers and professionals, shows the good side of the people. A recent study showed the American people in top ranks when it came to donating and helping others, and disasters like Tsunami and others showed how much people of this planet value the concept of humanity.

In addition, it should be understood that no matter how long a system lasts, and how powerful it gets, eventually it will reach the peak of its existence, and afterward it will begin its descend and ultimately its collapse. However, it is up to humanity to choose and determine how it wants to run its affairs, and how much it will learn from past mistakes. During the dark ages, Europe was the victim of a brutal and vicious system led by an autocracy, and ultimately they decided to rise against it, through different means.

Planning the Future; An induction in the thoughts of Imam Seyed Mohammad Al-Shirazi

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

 

Absolutely, no one is able to tell the future, and this is fact known to all humans. However, people have tried to come up with methods to predict the future or establish a set of rules and realities to prefect their predictions. Therefore, by implementing these sets of rules and plans, a human is able to tell the unseen in an indirect way, and proportionately be in control of his/her future. Ever since the beginning of twentieth century scholars like Gilfillan and others have called for implementation and study of science of Future, and eliminating history based on a measurable continuous duration.

To summarize the science of Future, it can be described as: the ability to predict based on inducting and dissecting the present political, social and economic realities using case studies and contemporary singular and plural phenomenon to extradite the general standards and norms that will rule the future generations and societies. However, the specific studies and researches about the science of future can be categorized as follows:

  • Systematical supervision of future, specifically out of current bearings of societies.
  • A science that monitors changes and alterations in a specific event of phenomenon, which ultimately would result in ability to predict outcomes in the future, or present preferences and possibilities.
  • A set of studies and researches that aim to outline the directions of events, and the possible changes that might affect the these directions or the guidelines.
  • Systematic scientific diligence that aims to present a set of conditional predictions, which include presenting the major monuments and possible outcomes in a society for a future that, at least is twenty years ahead. In addition, possible variable and intrusions into a society can be predicted and possible resolutions and outcomes can be labeled and presented.

Therefore, the main purpose to study the future would be:

  • Exploring the possible future: this notion would enable us to present approximate future outcomes.
  • Establishing a desired future: this notion would mean a long ranging plan would be necessary for the benefit of all members of society, since they would be the ones affected by the possible future.

Based on the nature of future studies and researches, they are identified by using four elements:

  • Studies that concentrate on scientific methods for identifying future hidden outcomes.
  • They are broader than general science, as they include artistic and philosophical efforts siding with scientific resolutions and methods.
  • These studies are beneficial in determining the necessities of possible challenges in the future.
  • The studies present the necessary information for the decision-makers and planning minds of a state, which makes the studies and researches of future very necessary for any nation.

The importance of these studies, which is evident in all aspects of life can be identified in seven levels:

  • Conducting an action plan to induct possible future outcomes, and predicting possible future ideologies and adoption of methodologies.
  • Comprehension of possible choices and resolution for the purpose of making an informed decision if necessary.
  • Reduction of possible future conflicts and calamities to enable nations and individuals to prepare accordingly.
  • Conducting studies and researches about the future and possible outcomes, is a necessary step in designing strategic plans.
  • Containment of possible collective threats that might endangers large numbers of people or even nations, such as droughts, climate change, nuclear incidents and natural disasters.
  • Rationalization of decision-making bodies by presenting different methods and tools so they are able to comprehend the need or the threat and make an informed decision based on that knowledge.
  • Increase in number of democratic participations for the purpose of planning for the future, which will make the decision more conclusive and comprehensive.

In his book (Jurisprudence of Future) Imam Al-Shirazi mentions a narration by the second Imam of Shi’a Muslims, Imam Al-Hassan, where he says: “do for your world (life) as you might live forever, and do for your after-life, as you might pass away tomorrow”.  Imam Al-Shirazi, argues this narration is a clear action plan for any human to prepare for his future, and give the preponderance to bigger goals than smaller goals. To identify these bigger goals mentioned by Imam Al-Shirazi, he quotes: “The broad necessities of future”, which ultimately mean outweighing the bigger goals against any other desires and smaller goals.

The call of Imam Al-Shirazi to consider for the future is for the purpose of adaption and preparation for the future. History and present-day are connected and in addition, future must be part of this equation. Past, Present and Future are the legs of a tripod that will carry humans through life accordingly.

To enable ourselves keeping up with future and continuous changes, Imam Al-shirazi suggest the following steps:

  • A strong and informed leadership is able to deliver any size of entity to safety, by making the right decisions for the benefit of majority.
  • Observing and monitoring possibilities.
  • Proper and comprehensive action plans.
  • Decisions made by the scientist and scholars of a nation based on the four elements mentioned above.

Imam Al-Shirazi views a knowledgeable human, who has the proper understanding of future and its possibilities is always able to make informed decisions, which makes him secured for the consequences of future calamities and threats, regardless of their nature. Whether political, financial, social or even environmental, such a human being is always a step ahead of everyone else. After all, life is about taking advantage of opportunities and chances that present themselves in life. However, it would be more beneficial for a human to create opportunities for himself, and hold the steering wheel of future in his/her hand.

Unfortunately. The ones that decide to ignore the future, live their present time without any consideration for future, will be the most endangered, and fragile ones if a threat presents itself. Therefore, due to lack of any preparation, they would not be able to adapt and in some cases survive the possible future changes.

Intimacy & Sex in Islamic Tradition

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

self-love

The stereotypes that have been spread about Islam are mostly due to the actions of Muslims and their conduct in their daily lives. Nevertheless the famous quote, which is heard in many cases when someone is asked to describe Islam (Islam is a way of life) is without doubt the one definition that has not been defined properly. The issue of intimacy and sexual relations is one of the issues that have been acceptable to be discussed in the public in the western world, and this notion have been dissected and researched thoroughly to an extent, where there are sex therapists, healers and gurus active in this specific field. However, the same subject have been transformed to a taboo, and a private matter to an extent where a man or a woman is not able to seek any help in this matter from anyone if he/she needs it. Nevertheless, Islamic traditions are full of narrations by the holy prophet and the infallible Imams about the topic of intimacy and sexual relations. The Islamic tradition have given the smallest details about the process of conducting such a relationship for a man and a woman. Unfortunately, the Muslim scholars have not been able to deliver these teachings and traditions to the masses to help them better their relationships with their spouses, and therefore, we witness the emergence of numerous social and psychological conflicts within the Islamic societies related to this specific topic.

The Islamic traditions have been so broad in covering all aspects of the sexual and intimate relationship where it gives a Muslim person the smallest details about how, where, when and what of the subject. The traditions cover the times when intimacy between a man and his spouse are recommended and when not recommended, and where are the proper places for this private matter to be practiced, and the limits, which leaves the Muslim person in no need of any help. Even these traditions suggest consultation and seeking help in medical, norms and behaviour aspects of this relationship. The Quran itself is full of verses governing and showing the entitlements and liabilities of both sides when it comes to this private matter, and from within these verses hundreds of jurisprudential rulings and matters have been extradited and presented to all Muslims. The main goal and point among these discussion, is that Islam views a permissible intimate relation only to be between a man and a women through a legit and proper matrimony. Therefore, it should be clear that all other relations that are outside the foundation of marriage and a man with a woman are considered Haram and not permissible.

Examples from Quran & Islamic Sunnah:

  • The Quran has presented numerous verses detailing the process of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman.
  • “And they ask you about menstruation. Say, It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.”[1]
  • “Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allah to bestow upon you pious offspring) before you for your own selves.”[2]
  • “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”[3]
  • Sunnah & Traditions within the Islamic literature as mentioned above have given a Muslim person details aspects about the ways and process of a healthy, secure, and pleasurable intimate relationship. In addition, the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and the infallible Imams have confirmed the importance of conducting such healthy relationship between spouses on regular bases, due to the importance of this notion and the necessity it holds within the biological aspect of a human life. However, Islam have called for privation of explicitly and total sexual freedom, due to the consequences it could have if not regulated accordingly.
  • Narration by the Prophet: “Marriage is from my tradition (Sunnah), and whomever abstain it, is not from my Ummah.”[4]
  • Narration by the Prophet: “Prepare for your wives, the same way you desire them to be prepared for you.”[5] In a clarification by the sixth Imam, Imam Al-Sadeq, he said: “This narration is in regard of personal hygiene”.[6]
  • Narration by the Prophet: “Best of the women are the ones, who take off their shield of modesty, while intimate with spouse.”[7]
  • Narration by Imam Ja’afar Al-Sadiq: “if one shall come to his spouse, let there be foreplay, since it is the best of matters.”[8]

Many other narrations have been given in regulating a proper and healthy intimate relationship between two spouses, which shows the importance of foreplay, intimate flirting, sensual touching and full attention to the needs and the feelings of a woman during this intimate and private part of life. However, Islam have been so precise about its details, and considerate for its followers that it offers them regulations about where and when and how not couple with a spouse, since it might have undesired consequences. These recommended regulations have been proven scientifically in the modern world, which shows the thoroughness of the true Islamic culture presented by the holy Prophet and the infallible Imams. For example in a narration by Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, he says: “the Prophet has inhabited for an intimate relation to be conducted in the presence of an infant in a crib.”[9] In addition, there are other narrations that recommend an intimate relation between a couple not to be done in a public place, or where there is a possibility of being spotted, since this relationship is meant to be private and for the pleasure of the couple only. Even the Imams and the Prophet have prohibited an intimate relation between a man and his wife during the menstruation period, since it has negative effects on the biological and psychological nature of a female.

Conclusion:

As mentioned above the Islamic tradition has detailed the ways and the process of a healthy and pleasurable intimate relationship between spouses, and has given them all the necessary information they need to please each other in a permissible and acceptable manner. However, due to the wrong norms and social traditions that have been adopted by Muslim societies, this important information have been prevented from Muslims.  Unfortunately, the Muslim scholars have done very little when it comes to enlightening the Muslims about these details, and enabling them to conduct a healthy and pleasurable relationship with their spouses. I would not be exaggerating when I say that many men and women in the Middle Eastern countries, lack knowledge of a proper healthy and pleasurable intercourse and intimate relation on the night of their weddings. Therefore, as a consequence we witness cases where violence have been used, and we witness cases where the first encounter result in a lasting displeasure on both sides, and ultimately discomfort and dislike among a newly created family.

 

 

[1] The Holy Quran. Chapter 2 Al-Baqarah. Verse 222.

[2] The Holy Quran. Chapter 2 Al-Baqarah. Verse 223.

[3] The Holy Quran. Chapter 30 Al-Rum. Verse 21.

[4] Al-Majlisi. Bihar Al-Anwar. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 1993. V 55. P 155.

[5] Al-Tabarsi Al-Noori. Mostadrak Al-Wasael. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 2001. V 14. P 109. Number 16767.

[6] Al-Tabarsi Al-Noori. Mostadrak Al-Wasael. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 2001. V 14. P 109. Number 16767.

[7] Al-Tabarsi Al-Noori. Mostadrak Al-Wasael. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 2001. V 14. P 109. Number 16778.

[8] Al hur Alameli.  Wasael al shia. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 1994. V 20. P 119. Number 25187.

[9] Alnouri Altabrasi. Mostadrak Alwasael. Iran. Dar Al-A’alami. 1999. V 14. P 228. Number 16568