January 4

The Late Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr

IMG_6425Religion: Islam
Denomination: Twelver Shia
School: Mohammad Hussaini Shirazi, Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi

Personal
Nationality: Saudi
Born: 1959 Al-Awamiyah, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Died: 2 January 2016 (aged 56 or 57) Saudi Arabia

Religious career
Website: http://www.sknemer.com

Nimr Baqr al-Nimr also commonly referred to as Sheikh Nimr, was a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. He was popular among youth and critical of the Saudi Arabian government. He called for free elections in Saudi Arabia, and was arrested by Saudi authorities in 2006, at which time al-Nimr said he was beaten by the Mabahith. In 2009, he criticised Saudi authorities and suggested that if Saudi Shias’ rights were not respected, the Eastern Province should secede. Saudi authorities responded by arresting al-Nimr and 35 others. During the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests, al-Nimr called for protestors to resist police bullets using “the roar of the word” rather than violence, and predicted the collapse of the government if repression continued. The Guardian described al-Nimr as having “taken the lead in [the] uprising.”

Religious career

Al-Nimr has been a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah since 2008 or earlier. He studied for about ten years in Tehran and also studied in Syria. He initially followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussaini Shirazi and as of 2008, followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi.

As of 2008, he was independent of the two main political groups in the Eastern Province Shia community, Islahiyyah (the Shirazis) and Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (Saudi Hezbollah).

Al-Nimr has been the Friday prayers leader in al-Awamiyah since 2009 or earlier.

Personal life

Nimr al-Nimr’s nephew, Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, who participated in the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests, was arrested in 2012 at the age of 17, sentenced to death in 2014, and expected ratification of his sentence by King Salman, to be carried out by beheading and crucifixion.

Points of view

Al-Nimr supported “something between” individual and council forms of guardianship of the Islamic Jurists as a form of government. He supported Kurdish majority control of Iraqi Kurdistan. Al-Nimr believed that Shia ayatollahs would not promote violence and “murder in the name of God”. He supported “the idea of elections”.

Al-Nimr criticized Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, which brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy Shia-led demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011.

Al-Nimr stated that the United States (US) “wants to humiliate the world.” In August 2008, he said that he saw US citizens as a natural ally of Shia as the thinking of both US citizens and Shia is “based on justice and liberty”.

He believed that the Saudi state is “particularly reactionary” and that “agitation” is needed to influence the state in general and the Saudi state in particular. According to John Kincannon, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, Al-Nimr made statements “perceived as supporting Iran”. In August 2008, he stated that he believed that Iran and other states outside of Saudi Arabia act mainly out of self-interest, not out of religious solidarity.

Al-Nimr stated that in the case of internal conflict in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Shia would have the right to ask for international intervention in analogy to requests for foreign military intervention by Kuwaitis and Saudis to the US in the 1990–91 Gulf War and people from Darfur during the War in Darfur.

Al-Nimr criticised Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who was crown prince of Saudi Arabia, following Nayef’s death in June 2012. He stated that “people must rejoice at [Nayef’s] death” and that “he will be eaten by worms and will suffer the torments of Hell in his grave”.

Al-Nimr was described by US diplomat Gfoeller as “gaining popularity locally” in 2008. The Guardian described him as “[seeming] to have become the most popular Saudi Shia cleric among local youth” in October 2011. He retained his popularity in 2012, with thousands of people participated in Qatif street demonstrations in his support following his July 2012 arrest.

2004 and 2006 arrests

Al-Nimr was detained for several days in 2004. He was arrested by Mabahith in 2006 and beaten during his detention. Residents of al-Awamiyah campaigned to support him and he was released after several days.

2009 sermon and arrest order

In February 2009, an incident occurred in Medina involving differences in Shia and Sunni customs at the tomb of Muhammad, filming of Shia women by the religious police, protests by Shia in Medina and arrests. Six children were arrested during 4–8 March for taking part in a 27 February protest in Safwa.

Al-Nimr criticised the authorities’ February actions in Medina and the Minister of Interior in particular for discrimination against Saudi Arabian Shia. In a sermon, he threatened secession, stating “Our dignity has been pawned away, and if it is not … restored, we will call for secession. Our dignity is more precious than the unity of this land.”

A warrant for his arrest was issued in response. Protests took place in al-Awamiyah starting 19 March. Four people were arrested, including al-Nimr’s nephew, ‘Ali Ahmad al-Faraj, aged 16, who was arrested on 22 March. The police started tracking al-Nimr in order to arrest him and tried to take his children hostage. By 1 April, a total of 35 people had been arrested and security forces installed checkpoints on roads to al-Awamiyah. As of 1 April 2009, al-Nimr had not been arrested.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said that the authorities were “persecuting Shia reformist Nimr Bakir al-Nimr for his criticism of policies of sectarian discrimination against the Shia in Saudi Arabia and for his call for reform and equality.”

In October 2011, during the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests, al-Nimr said that young people protesting in response to the arrests of two al-Awamiyah septuagenarians were provoked by police firing at them with live ammunition. On 4 October, he called for calm, stating, “The [Saudi] authorities depend on bullets … and killing and imprisonment. We must depend on the roar of the word, on the words of justice”. He explained further, “We do not accept [the use of firearms]. This is not our practice. We will lose it. It is not in our favour. This is our approach [use of words]. We welcome those who follow such [an] attitude. Nonetheless, we cannot enforce our methodology on those who want to pursue different approaches [and] do not commit to ours. The weapon of the word is stronger than the power of bullets.”

In January 2012, he called on authorities to “stop bloodshed”, predicting that the government would be overthrown if it continued its “month-long crackdown” against protestors. He criticised a list of 23 alleged protestors published by the Ministry of Interior. The Guardian described him as having “taken the lead in [the] uprising”.

On 8 July 2012 Saudi police shot al-Nimr in the leg and arrested him in what police described as an “exchange of gunfire.” Saudi police fired into a crowd of thousands who protested al-Nimr’s arrest, killing two men, Akbar al-Shakhouri and Mohamed al-Felfel. Al-Nimr started a hunger strike and appeared to have been tortured. The Asharq Center for Human Rights expressed concern for al-Nimr’s health during his hunger strike on 21 August, calling for international support to allow access by family, lawyer and human rights activists.

Al-Nimr’s wife, Muna Jabir al-Shariyavi, died in a New York hospital while he was imprisoned. Two thousand people attended the funeral in Safwa on the evening of 30/31 August, called for al-Nimr to be unconditionally freed, for all Shia and Sunni detainees to be freed, and chanted “Down with Hamad”, “Bahrain Free Free, Peninsula Shield out”.

On 15 October 2014 al-Nimr was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court for “seeking ‘foreign meddling’ in Saudi Arabia, ‘disobeying’ its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces.” His brother, Mohammad al-Nimr, was arrested on the same day for tweeting information about the death sentence. Al-Nimr was executed on or shortly before 2 January 2016, along with 46 others. His execution was condemned by Iran and Shiites throughout the Middle East, as well as by Western figures and Sunnis opposed to sectarianism. The Saudi government did not give his body to his family, saying that they already buried all the bodies.

Street demonstrations

There have been several demonstrations in response to the execution. People in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have taken to the streets with protesters marching from Nimr’s hometown of al-Awamiyah to Qatif, chanting, “Down with the Al Saud”. On January 2, the same day of the execution, numerous protesters gathered outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran which was on fire after one person threw homemade firebombs at the embassy. The protests continued beyond 3 am in the morning.Iran police arrested 40 protesters for raiding the embassy.

Hundreds of people held a protest rally in the Bahraini capital Manama. Demonstrators carrying pictures of Sheikh Nimr were involved in a clash with police in the Bahraini village of Abu-Saiba. Hundreds also marched in al-Daih and Sitra, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family and the Sunni family ruling Bahrain, and calling Nimr “our martyr”.

Peacful demonstrations occured in Iranian holy cities of Qom and Mashhad, as well as in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, India’s Jammu and Kashmir, and Turkey.

Reference: Nimr al-Nimr

October 17

The Late Ayatollah Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi

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The distinguished jurisprudent and perfect mystic Ayatollah Haj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabriz was born in Tabriz. His exact date of birth is not known, but according to a work tht he wrote in his youth it seems tht he was born around 1292/1875.

After completing his early education in his home town, he left for Najaf where he benefited from the greatest teachers of his age. He studied Fiqh under the eminent jurisprudence, Haj Agha Ridha Hamadan, (author of Misbah al-Faqih), and Muhaddith Mirza Husein Nouri, (author of Mustadrak al-Wasail). He studied usual under Allamah Mulla Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (author of Kifayah al-Usul).

Agha Maliki was also fortunate to come into contact in Najaf with the most celebrated Gnostic of tht time, Akhund Mulla Husein Quli Hamadani who was highly proficient in the Islamic sciences, especially ethics (Akhlaq) and mysticism (Irfan). Agha Maliki spent 14 years with him during this period acquired profound knowledge of moral ethics and applied mysticism from his illustrious teacher.

He attained such high spiritual stations in Gnosticism tht a great jurisprudent and scholar Sheikh Muhammad Husein Isfahani (famously known as Kumpani) – himself an outstanding authority in irfan — wrote to him seeking spiritual advice and instructions regarding ethics and mysticism.

Agha Maliki returned from Najaf to his hometown Tabriz in the year 1320AH, but due to the upheaval at the time of the constitutional revolution, the conditions in Tabriz deteriorated, and he was forced to migrate to Qum. Here, he started teaching jurisprudence from Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kasha’s al-Mafati al-Sharayi’ al-Fiqh. He also began to nurture a special group of students and introduced the more able ones into spiritual wayfaring.

He ran two classes in ethics (Akhlaq). One was for advanced students, (of whom, Ayatollah Khomeini was one) which he conducted at his house; the other was public, which ran at the Faydhiyya Madrassa and was attended by many people, especially market stall holders. He also busied himself in writing and left behind many precious works.

Successful teachers are those who have two types of products: their literature and their students. It is said tht even if the life of Ayatollah Tabriz did not have any result other than his share in building the mystical personality of Imam Khomeini (RA) it would be enough for him. Among the best celebrated books of Ayatollah Tabriz, three books are the most famous:

  1. Asrarul-Salaat (The Secrets of Daily Prayers)
  2. Moraqebatul-Sanah (Observation of the Yearly Devotions)
  3. Leqa’u-Allah (Meeting with God) which is the best mystical book written on the topic

Ayatollah Sayyid Husein Fatimi Gummi (one of Agha Tabrizi’s greatest students) recalls: The Ma’sumin (AS) have stated, “Tht counsel and speech tht comes forth from the heart enters the hearts of the listener, and if it merely comes from the tongue, then it does not go further than the ear of the listener.” The words and advice of Haj Agha Maliki – May God sanctify his spirit – were such tht they stuck to the hearts of the audience like brands of fire. They transported the listener to another place. And when we came out of the gathering, we would observe tht everybody had been affected in the same manner. After his passing away, I have always hoped to attend a similar gathering but I have never found anything like it.

Such was the deep effect of Ayatollah Maliki Tabrizi’s words tht often listeners would overcome during his speech. Once he mentioned something so profound tht a market stall-holder who was listening collapsed. When someone mentioned this to Agha Maliki, he commented, “This is nothing, our Master, (the champion of champions), Ali bin Abi Talib (AS) would often faint out of fear and awe of Allah.”

Observing Night Prayers before dawn was a mandatory condition to be admitted to the lessons of Ayatollah Tabrizi. The late Shaalchi, one of his students narrated: “He (Ayatollah Tabrizi) was very strict about early rising for Night Prayers. I requested if I could be exempt as I believe tht would make me weak and would reduce my sleeping hours. Ayatollah Tabrizi said: Find a way to gain their consent. Tell them:”At dawn some elite people are in a sociable gathering with the Almighty God, do you want me to miss it?”

Ayatollah Javad Tabrizi in ‘Al-Moraqibaat’ with regards to Night Prayers says: “The appointed angels will wake man up for the Night Prayers but he ignores the angelic call and continues his sleep again. They wake him up again. These wake ups are not by chance, they are heavenly awakenings. If man took advantage of them and left the bed for Night Prayers, those calls will be stronger and more permanent. But if he ignores them, the angels will also give up.”

The angelic call may appear to you in the voice of your mother, your friend, or even in the voice of Azan, all of the purpose of inviting you to a private heavenly meeting at dawn. For those who are interested in waking up for the Night Prayers it is also very much recommended to recite the last Ayah of Surah al-Kahf (18) in Arabic.

Nearing the end of his life, Ayatollah Tabrizi was very ill and he could no longer even use water for his wudhuu. According to Seyyed Fatami-Nia one night before the demise of Ayatollah Tabrizi about 250 Sheikhs in Qom had dreamt tht the funeral of Ayatollah Tabrizi was processing and Imam Hussain (AS) was walking in front of his coffin.

The following day of the 11th of Thul-Hijjah in the year 1343 AH. He made his Tayammum for his Noon and Afternoon prayers. He stood up and made an intention for his Noon prayer and as he raised his hands in the middle of his Takbiratul-Ihram his body collapsed and his soul ascended to his Lord to continue the rest of his prayer at the presence of Allah forever. May God bless and elevate his status in Paradise.

Ayatollah Tabrizi (May God cover His mercy on him) is buried in a small cemetery in Qom near the Shrine of Ma’sooman (AS) known as ‘Sheikhan’).

Bannertabrizi

November 4

Sermon of Imam Hussain (AS) to the army of Yazid

imageThe Imam mounted his camel and addressed the people with a very loud voice, which could be heard by most of them:

“O people of Iraq! Listen to me and do not make haste to kill me so that I may tell you what I must, and appraise you of the reason for my coming to Iraq. If you accept my excuse, believe in what I say, and behave towards me fairly, you will level for yourselves the path of prosperity, and then you will have no reason to kill me. And even if you do not accept my excuse and deviate from the path of justice, you must ponder over the pros and cons of the matter before you kill me, and should not undertake such a delicate task rashly and without deliberation. My supporter is the Almighty Allah Who has revealed the Qur’an. Allah guards His deserving slaves.

O people! Identify me and see who I am. Then you will come to your senses and reproach yourselves. You should reflect carefully whether it is permissible for you to kill me and to disregard the reverence due to me.

Am I not the son of your Prophet’s daughter? Is the wasi (vicegerent) of your Prophet and his cousin and the first person, who expressed belief in Allah and confirmed what was brought by His Prophet, not my father? Is the Doyen of Martyrs Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib not the uncle of my father? Is the martyr Ja’far bin Abu Talib who has two wings and flies with Allah’s angels not my uncle? Have you not heard that the Holy Prophet has said about me and my brother: “These two sons of mine are the chiefs of the young men of Paradise”. If you think that whatever I am saying is true so much the better. I swear by Allah tht I know Allah hates the liars, and I have never told a lie. And even if you do not believe in my words and refute me, there are still some companions of the Holy Prophet amongst you who, when asked, will apprise you of the facts. Ask Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, Abu Sa’id Khudari, Nahl bin Sadi, Zayd bin Arqam or Anas bin Malik, so that they may tell you that they have heard these words from the Holy Prophet about me and my brother. Is this tradition itself not sufficient to restrain you from killing me? If you are doubtful about this tradition can you doubt even this that I am the son of your Prophet’s daughter? I swear by Allah that between East and West there is no son of the daughter of a Prophet except me either amongst you or amongst others.

16011523614322617821414313691225202251571052“You should tell honestly whether I have killed anyone from amongst you so that you may take revenge! Is it that I have appropriated your wealth and you are claiming it? Have I injured you for which you have risen to compensate?” None of them, however, came forward to give a reply to what the Imam said. He was, therefore, obliged to call some of them by their names and addressed them in these words: “O Shabath bin Rabie, Hajjār bin Abjar, Qays bin Ashath and Yazid bin Harith! Did you yourselves not write letters to me saying: “The fruits have become ripe and the lands are green and fresh and the soldiers of Iraq are ready to sacrifice their lives for you and you should, therefore, proceed to Iraq as early as possible?”

Tabari writes that in reply to the Imam they said: “We did not write any letter and are not aware of what you are saying.” Truly speaking it is the height of meanness and foul play that the same persons who invited their Imam by means of a large number of letters and had signed those letters, were replying to him with utmost impudence that they had neither written any letters to him nor invited him!

Here we introduce to the readers one of those mean persons so that they may come to know to what extent one can go on account of worldliness and lack of will-power. They appear before the people in one guise today and in another guise tomorrow. One day they draw their swords for the sake of Allah and on another day against Him. If they are friends of Ali on one day they become his enemies on the following day. One day they kill Imam Hussein and on another day they claim to be the avengers of his murder. Shabath bin Rabie i.e. the very person who was the Commander of the Iraqi army on the day of Āshura and one of the killers of the Imam was at one time the mu’azzin of Sajāh and he accepted this office when she claimed to be a prophetess in the tribe of Bani Tamim. However, when Sajāh was disgraced he embraced Islam. He had also a hand in the murder of Uthman. Then he became one of the followers of Ali. Later he revolted against Ali, became one of his opponents and joined the Khawārij. After some time he left the Khawārij also and went in seclusion. In 61 A.H. he participated in killing Imam Hussein and his companions with great savagery. Afterwards when Mukhtār bin Abi Ubayd Thaqafi rose to avenge the murder of Imam Hussein, he (Shabath) who himself was one of the murderers of the Imam joined Mukhtār as an avenger of the Imam’s murder. Later he became the chief of Kufa police. He had a hand also in the murder of Mukhtār bin Abi Ubayd. He died in about 80 A.H.

How can those persons who do not have the least moral sense benefit from the celestial spirit of Hussein bin Ali and how can their untalented and corrupt souls receive any reflection of the sublime soul of the infallible Imam.

The Imam continued his address till he said: “By Allah I will not swear allegiance to these people like weak and mean persons and will not flee the battlefield like slaves while fighting against the rascals. I seek refuge in Allah from the mischief of you people and of every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Judgment”.

Reference: Probe into the history of Ashura

October 31

The Day of ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram)

Aser_Ashora_by_karbala_styleAt dawn the Imam glanced over the army of Yazid and saw ‘Umar ibn Sa’d ordering his forces to march towards him. He gathered his followers and addressed them thus: “Allah has, this day, permitted us to be engaged in a Holy War and He shall reward us for our martyrdom. So prepare yourselves to fight against the enemies of Islam with patience and resistance. O sons of the noble and self-respecting persons, be patient! Death is nothing but a bridge which you must cross after facing trials and tribulations so as to reach Heaven and its joys. Which of you do not like to go from this prison (world) to the lofty palaces (Paradise)?

Having heard the Imam’s address, all his companions were overwhelmed and cried out, “O our Master! we are all ready to defend you and your Ahlul-Bayt, and to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam.”

Imam Husayn sent out from his camp one after another to fight and sacrifice their lives in the way of the Lord. Lastly, when all his men and children had laid down their lives, Imam Husayn brought his six-month old baby son ‘Ali al-Asghar, and offering him on his own hands, demanded some water for the baby, dying of thirst. The thirst of the baby was quenched by a deadly poisoned arrow from the brute’s forces, which pinned the baby’s neck to the arm of the helpless father. At last when the six-month old baby also was killed, Imam Husayn addressed Allah: “O Lord! Thy Husayn has offered in Thy way whatever Thou hath blessed him with. Bless Thy Husayn, O Lord! with the acceptance of this sacrifice.

Everything Husayn could do till now was through Thy help and by Thy Grace.” Lastly, Imam Husayn came into the field and was killed, the details of which merciless slaughter are heart rending. The forces of Yazid having killed Imam Husayn, cut and severed his head from his body and raised it on a lance. The severed head of the Holy Imam began glorifying Allah from the point of the lance saying, ‘Allahu Akbar’. All glory be to Allah Who is the Greatest!”

After the wholesale, merciless and most brutal slaughter of the Holy Imam with his faithful band, the helpless ladies and children along with the ailing son of Imam Husayn, Imam ‘Ali Zaynul- ‘Abidin, were taken captives.

 

Reference: The Fourteen Infallibles

October 30

Imam Al-Husayn Ibn Ali (AS)

imam-husayn-image01Name: al-Husayn

Title: Sayyidush-Shuhada’

Agnomen: Abu ‘Abdillah.

Father’s name: Ali Amir al-Mu’minin

Mother’s name: Fatimah (daughter of the Holy Prophet).

Birth: In Medina on Thursday, 3rd Sha’ban 4 AH

Death: Martyred in Karbala’ (Iraq) at the age of 57, on Friday, 10th Muharram 61 AH and buried there.

In the house of the Holy Prophet, which presented the best image of both the worlds – the heaven and the earth – a child who benefited humanity as if he was a Divine Impression reflecting the earth, was born on one of the nights of the month of Sha’ban. His father was Imam Ali, the best model of kindness towards his friends and the bravest against the enemies of Islam, and his mother was Hadhrat Fatimah, the only daughter and child of the Holy Prophet, who had as universally acknowledged, inherited the qualities of her father. Imam Husayn, is the third Apostolic Imam. When the good news of his birth reached the Holy Prophet, he came to his daughter’s house, took the newly-born child in his arms, recited Adhan and Iqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and on the 7th day of his birth, after performing the rites of aqiqah, named him al-Husayn, in compliance with Allah’s command.

‘Abdullah ibn Abbas relates: “On the very day when Imam Husayn was born, Allah ordered angel Gabriel to descend and congratulate the Holy Prophet on His Behalf and on his own. While descending, Gabriel passed over and island where the angel Futrus had been banished due to his delay in executing a commission assigned by Allah. He was deprived of his wings and expelled to the island where he remained for several years praying and worshipping Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

“When the angel Futrus saw Gabriel, he called out, ‘Where are you going, O Gabriel?’ To this he replied, ‘Husayn, the grandson of Muhammad is born, and for this very reason Allah has commanded me to convey His congratulations to His Apostle.’ Thereupon, the angel said, ‘Can you carry me also along with you? May Muhammad recommend my case to Allah. ‘Gabriel took the angel along with him, came to the Holy Prophet, offered congratulations to him on behalf of Allah and himself and referred the case of the angel to him. The Holy Prophet said to Gabriel, ‘Ask the angel to touch the body of the newly-born child and return to his place in Heaven.’ On doing this, the angel re-obtained his wings instantly and praising the Holy Prophet and his newly born grandson, ascended towards the Heaven.”

Hasan and Husayn, the two sons of the Holy Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib and Hadhrat Fatimah, our Lady of Light, were respected and revered as the ‘Leaders if the Youths of Paradise’ as stated by the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him and his progeny, had openly prophesied tht the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Husayn, when Yazid, son of Mu’awiyah, would endeavour to destroy it.

Yazid was known for his devilish character and brutish conduct. He was known as the most licentious of men. The people having known and understood the character of Yazid, formed a covenant by which Mu’awiyah could not appoint Yazid as his successor. This undertaking was given by Mu’awiyah to Imam Hasan from whom Mu’awiyah had snatched power. Mu’awiyah violated this undertaking and nominated Yazid who succeeded his father.

Immediately as he came to power, Yazid began acting in full accordance with his known character. He started interfering in the fundamentals of the faith and, practised every vice and wickedness freely with the highest degree of impunity and yet held himself out as the successor of the Holy Prophet, demanding allegiance to himself as the leading guide of the faith. Paying allegiance to Yazid was nothing short of acknowledging the devil as God. if a divine personality like the Holy Imam Husayn had agreed to his authority, it would be actually recommending the devil to humanity in place of God. Yazid demanded allegiance from the Holy Imam Husayn, who could have never agreed to it at any cost. The people fearing death and destruction at the hands of the tyrant had yielded to him out of fear. Imam Husayn said tht come whatever may, he would never yield to the devil in place of God and undo what his grandfather, the Holy Prophet had established.

The refusal of the Holy Imam to pay allegiance to this fiend, marked the start of the persecution of the Holy Imam. As a result he had retired to Medina where he led a secluded life. Even here he was not allowed to live in peace, and was forced to seek refuge in Mecca where also he was badly harassed, and Yazid plotted to murder him in the very precincts of the great sanctuary of Ka’bah.

In order to safeguard the great sanctuary, Imam Husayn decided to leave Mecca for Kufa just a day before the Hajj Pilgrimage. When asked the reason for the mysterious departure from Mecca foregoing the pilgrimage which was only the next day, Imam Husayn said tht he would perform his year’s pilgrimage at Karbala’, offering the sacrifice not of any animals, but of his kith and kin and some faithful friends. He enumerated the names of his kith and kin who would lay down their lives with him in the great sacrifice at Karbala’.

The people of Kufa getting tired of the tyrannical and satanic rule of Yazid, had written innumerable letters and sent emissaries to Imam Husayn to come over and give them guidance in faith. Although Imam Husayn knew the ultimate end of the invitations, he as the divinely chosen Imam could not refuse to give the guidance sought for. When the Holy Imam with his entourage had reached Karbala’, his horse mysteriously stopped and would not move any further. Upon this the Holy Imam declared: “This is the land, the land of sufferings and tortures.” He alighted from his horse, and ordered his followers to encamp there saying: “Here shall we be martyred and our children be killed. Here shall our tents be burned and our family arrested. This is the land about which my grandfather the Holy Prophet had foretold, and his prophecy will certainly be fulfilled.”

On the 7th of Muharram water supply to the Imam’s camp was cut and the torture of thirst and hunger started. The Holy Imam’s camp consisted of ladies, innocent children including babies and some male members of the Holy Prophet’s family; along with a small band of some faithful friends of Imam Husayn who had chosen to die with the Holy Imam, fighting against the devil for the cause of Allah.

 

Reference: The Fourteen Infallibles

October 29

The Late Ayatollah Abul-Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi

shahid-dastgheibMartyr Ayatullah Abul-Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi was a nobleman from a highly religious family tht was known for its intellectual heritage going back to 800 years. Due to religious and spiritual atmosphere, resulting from such a sound Islamic background he had a natural and spontaneous tendency towards acquiring knowledge. After obtaining elementary education in his hometown, he moved towards Najaf al-Ashraf (Iraq) in pursuit of higher knowledge.

In the town of the abode of the Chief of the believers, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS), he continued his studies associating with the various scholars and teachers. Soon his knowledge reached a stage such that, he was granted permission by the Maraja of that time to practise Ijtehad. He then returned to his native town of Shiraz. In Shiraz he spent lacs of humans for the construction of then Jame Masjid Ateq which was in a highly dilapidated condition. There, he began to lecture on the exegesis of the Qur’an and ethics. His persistent efforts raised the standard of education of the Hauz al-Ilmia of Shiraz in the various fields of Figh, Beliefs and Moral science. The irreligious and tyrannical Shah imposed restrictions upon him and he was arrested many times. He was also put under house arrest by the autocratic ruler. After the success of the Islamic Revolution, he was elected a representative at the Majlis (Iranian Parliament).

At the instance of the people of Shiraz he was designated at the representative of Imam Khomeini. The post of Imam of Jame Masjid of Shiraz was also bestowed upon him.

Martyr Dastaghaib has left behind innumerable works. The most remarkable of these are:

  • Gunahane Kabira (Greater Sins)
  • Qalb al-Salim
  • Salatal Khashan
  • Ma’ad
  • at-Tawba
  • Zindagani al-Hazrat Zahra
  • Zainab al-Kubra

Apart from these he has penned dozens of books on the improvement of morals, Fiqh and the exegesis of Qur’an. Hence, he was an excellent model of spirituality with a lofty character and a loving nature.

On that fateful day (in the year 1984) as he was proceeding to lead the Friday congregation, he was brutally killed in a bomb explosion by the hypocrites (the Capitalist agents).

September 25

The Late Mulla Sadra

mulla sadraSadr ad-Din Muhammad Shirazi, also called Mulla Sadra was born in Shiraz, in what is now Iran, to a notable family of court officials in 1571 or 1572, Mulla Sadra moved first to Qazvin in 1591 and then to Isfahan 1597 to pursue a traditional and institutional education in philosophy, theology, Hadith and hermeneutics. Each city was a successive capital of the Safavid dynasty and centres of Twelver Shi’ite seminaries at that time. His teachers included Mir Damad and Baha’ad Din al-‘Amili’.

Mulla Sadra completed his education at Isfahan, a leading cultural and intellectual centre of his day. He was trained under the supervision of Mir Damad.

After he had finished his studies Mulla Sadra began to explore unorthodox doctrines and as a result was both condemned and excommunicated by some Shi’i Ulama. He then retired for a lengthy period of a time to a village named Kahak near Qum, where he engaged in contemplative exercises. While in Kahak, he wrote a number of minor works, including the Risala Fi ‘l-Hashr and the Risala fi huduth al-alam.

In 1612, Mulla Sadra was asked to abandon his retirement by the powerful governor of Fars, Allahwirdi Khan and invited back to Shiraz to teach and run a new madrassa devoted to the intellectual sciences. During this time in Shiraz, Mulla Sadra began writing treatises that synthesised wide-ranging strands of existing Islamic systems of thought. The ideas of this school, which may be seen as a continuation of the School of Isfahan of Mir Damad and Shaykh-i Bahai. Mulla Sadra’s influence remained limited in the generations after his death, it increased markedly during the 19th century, when his ideas helped inspire a renewed Akhbari tendency within twelver Shi’ism. In recent times, his works have been studied in Iran, Europe and America.

According to Mulla Sadra, ‘existence precedes the essence and is thus principal since something has to exist first then have an essence.” It is notable that for Mulla Sadra this was a question that specifically applied to God and God’s position in the universe, especially in the context of reconciling God’s position in the Qur’an verses cosmological philosophies of Islam’s Golden Era.

Mulla Sadra held the view that Reality is Existence. He believed that an essence was by itself a general notion, and therefore and does not, in reality, exist.

To paraphrase Mulla Sadra’s Existential Cosmology: Existence is the one and only reality. Existence and reality are therefore identical. Existence is the all comprehensive reality and there is nothing outside of it. Essences which are negative require some sort of reality and therefore exist. Existence therefore cannot be denied. Therefore existence cannot be negated. As Existence cannot be negated, it is self-evident that it Existence is God. God should not be searched for in the realm of existence but it is the basis of all existence. It should be noted that reality in Arabic is ‘Al-Haq’, and is stated in the Qur’an as one of the Names of God.

To paraphrase Mulla Sadra’s Logical Proof of God:

  • There is a being
  • This being is a perfection beyond all perfection
  • God is Perfect and Perfection is existence
  • Existence is a singular and simple reality
  • That singular reality is graded in intensity in a scale of perfection
  • That scale must have a limit point, a point of greatest intensity and of greatest existence
  • Therefore God exists

Mulla Sadra argues that all contingent beings require a cause which puts their balance between existence and non-existence in favour of the former; nothing can come into existence without a cause. Since the world is therefore contingent upon this First Act, not only must God exist, but God must also be responsible for this First Act of creation.

Mulla Sadra also believed that a casual regress was impossible because the casual chain could only work in the matter that had a beginning, middle, and end.

  • A pure cause at the beginning
  • A pure effect at the end
  • A nexus of cause and effect

For Mulla Sadra, the casual ‘End’ is as pure as its corresponding ‘Beginning’, which instructively places God as  both the beginning and the end of the creative act. God’s capacity to measure the intensity of Existential Reality by measuring Casual Dynamics’ and their Relationship to their Origin, as opposed to knowing their effects, provided the Islamically-acceptable framework for God’s Judgement of Reality without being tainted by its Particulars. This was an ingenious solution to a question that had haunted Islamic philosophy for almost one thousand years: How is God able to judge sin without knowing sin?

The Primary of Existence solution provides the capacity for God’s Judgement without God being directly, or indirectly, affected by the evil being judged. God does not need to possess Sin to know Sin: God is able to judge the intensity of Sin as God perceived Existence.

Mulla Sadra brought “a new philosophical insight in dealing with the nature of reality and created “a major transition from essentialism to existentialism” in Islamic philosophy, although his existentialism should not be too readily compared to Western existentialism. He was the most prominent Iranian Shia Islamic philosopher, theologian and Alim who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century.

According to Oliver Leaman, Mulla Sadra is arguably the single most important and influential philosopher in the Muslim world in the last four hundred years. He died in Basra after the Hajj in the year 1640 and was buried in present-day Iraq. He is buried in the city of Najaf, Iraq.

 

September 11

The Late Ayatullah Sayyid Hossein Borujerdi

2014-09-10 22.20.50Grand Ayatullah Sayyed Hossein Borujerdi was born in March 1875 in the city of Borujerd in Lorestan Province in Iran, hence the surname. His family traced its lineage 30 generations to Hassan ibn Ali the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S). His father Sayyed Ali Tabataba’i was a religious scholar in Borujerd and his mother, Sayyidah Agha Beygum was the daughter of Sayyid Mohammad Ali Tabataba’i.

After entering elementary school at the age of seven, Sayyid Husayn’s father realized his talent for learning and sent him to Nurbakhsh seminary in Borujerd. At the age of 11 he began his education at the theological schools of his city, under his father Sayyed Ali. Then in 1892-93 he went to the theological school of Isfahan to continue his education. In the ten years that he studied in Isfahan he completed his sutuh studies and was also granted the level of Ijtihad from his teachers, and began teaching Usul. Around the age of 30 Ayatullah Borujerdi moved from Isfahan to the theological seminary of Najaf, Iraq to continue his education.

In his youth, Ayatullah Borujerdi studied under a number of Shia scholars of fiqh such as Ayatullah Mohammad Kazem Khorasani and Aqa Zia Iraqi, and specialised in fiqh. He studied the fiqahat of all the Islamic schools of thought, not just his own, along with the science of rijal. He had a unique method in ‘Ilm al-rijal by studying the chain of narrators of hadiths in the Four books independently from narrations. Through this method, he made great contributions to later researches.

Ayatullah revived the hawza of Qum in 1945 which had waned after the death in 1937 of its founder, Abdul-Karim Ha’eri Yazdi. When Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfahani died the following year, the majority of Shi’a accepted Ayatullah Borujerdi as Marja’.

He used a simple language in his lessons and avoided unnecessary extra discussions. Like early Shia Ulama such as Shaykh al-Mufid and Sayyid Murtada, Shaykh al-Tusi, Shaykh Tabarsi and Allamah Bahr al-‘Ulum, he had a comprehensive knowledge of different Islamic studies. He also studied jurisprudential verdicts of Shia and Sunni faqihs of the past.

He was a sincere believer. Whenever he was praised by others for his contributions to Shia community, he would say: “purify your acts from hypocrisy, for the watcher (Allah) is very sharp-sighted.”

He never abandoned education and acquisition of knowledge until the last moments of his life. He used to say, “I never get tired of studying, rather when I get tired, I get relaxed by studying.”

He would tolerate disrespectful behaviour of his critics and forgave them. This was one of the reasons that made him a unique religious leader.

Ayatullah Borujerdi vowed not to become angry, otherwise he would fast for one year.

According to Shaheed Motahhari, Ayatullah Borujerdi was eager to establish schools with religious management and doing so, the new generation would become religious and knowledgeable. He thus spent a considerable amount of religious tax for establishing such schools.

The city of Borujerd lacked electricity, but by the order of Ayatullah and the help of religious people, they constructed a power plant. Under his leadership, many religious scholars were sent to other cities and countries to preach religious beliefs and to fulfill religious needs of people.

Many charitable and religious organisations were built at his time, some of those are as follows: A’zam Mosque in the holy Shrine of Lady Ma’sumah in Qum, Baghdad Mosque, a hospital in Najaf, Neku’i Hospital in Qum, Islamic Centre Hamburg, Germany.

In the last days of his life, Professor Muris (French physician) came from Paris to visit him for his health issues. Before he visited Professor Muris, he asked for a comb to tidy his beard first. His friends told him it was not necessary since he was sick, but he answered, “I am the religious leader of Shia and it is not accepable that I visit a non-Muslim with untidy look.”

Ayatullah Borujerdi died in Qum on March 30, 1961. The Shah proclaimed three days of mourning and attended a memorial service in his honor.