July 31

Spiders—A wonder of Architecture & Engineering

myWPEdit ImageSpider webs are truly a wonder of architecture and engineering, as well as their qualities such as strength, flexibility and use advantages.

It is known by virtually everyone that spiders use the silky threads produced in their own bodies to set a web. However, the production phases of this silk and its general characteristics are not so well- known. This silk thread, which spiders produce and the diameter of which is less than one millimetre, is five times stronger than steel of the same thickness. Also it can flex four times its own length.

Another striking characteristic of the silk is that it is very lightweight. We can explain this with an example. The weight of a silk thread that will circle the earth would weigh only 320 grams. Scientists are resuming their research to technologically benefit from these characteristics of the spider thread.

Spider Silk Prevents Computers From Overheating Researchers have concluded that spider silk can conduct heat 800 times better than all other organic materials in the world. However, whereas spider silk can conduct heat with a rate of 416 W/m-K (watt/meter Kelvin), the same rate is 401 W/m-K in copper. Human skin can conduct electricity by only 0.6 W/m-K. While spider silk is ahead of copper, which is one of the materials that conduct heat the best, when it is compared to silicone aluminium and pure iron, it is again superior. This superiority of the spider silk only falls behind when compared to silver and diamond.

The secret behind the conductivity of spider silk is the molecular structure of the silk Allah created especially for these beings. Spider silk is formed by a combination of hard, crystal pieces that self-generate as well as dynamic and elastic pieces.

Scientists think that they can better understand its conductivity by examining the spider silk’s characteristics of creation. They note that these organic materials can be used in computers, which are made of substances that conduct heat by using this feature of the web, and that spider silk can be used in many fields from electronics to summer clothing.

The physical features of spiders and their behaviours clearly prove that these beings were created by Allah. Allah, the Lord of all worlds, reveals this truth to the people with the verse; “He said, ‘The Lord of the East and the West and everything between them if you used your intellect.’…” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 28)

Spider Web Example in Covering Large SitesWebs built by dew spiders are both aesthetic and amazing in terms of engineering. These spiders build their webs on a horizontal plane to appear like a sheet lying on grass. They use vertical grasses as girders and ensure that the weight on the grass is evenly distributed on this grass.

This method was reproduced by people in order to cover large sites. The Munich Olympics Stadium and Jeddah Airport, which are shown as examples of today’s modern architecture works, were built by imitating the webs of these spider species. As in this example, every being people take as an example, and every system they possess are a verse (evidence) of Allah for people. This truth is revealed in Surat al-Jathiyya as such: “And in your creation and all the creatures He has spread about there are Signs for people with certainty.” (Surat al-Jathiyya, 4)

Spider Web Will Inspire the Internet

In the research conducted on araneus diadematus , a common garden spider that lives in Europe, using computer modelling, it was found that spider webs react differently to different tension levels. As it is known, spider web has a unique quality that softens when needed and then turns back to its original hardness. In the research, it was understood that spider web softens in mild wind and does not show a disruption in general structure, and when a stronger force is applied to a specific point, the web loses its flexibility in this region of the web and breaks off. However, this situation strengthens the general structure and wholeness of the web even more. Research showed that when fibers in different regions break, the web can carry three to twenty percent more weight than it normally does.

Researchers think that with the deciphering of these secrets of the spider web, complex networks like the Internet can be built in a stronger way against disruptions in the future. New visual networks that can be formed like this will not lose their mechanical quality, despite enduring much damage, and no matter which part of the system is attacked, the network will collapse only at a certain point. Thus in many areas from electrical networks and the internet to the textile industry, great leaps will be achieved based on the spider web in future.

During the research conducted to uncover the chemistry of spider threads, threads are taken from spiders with special machines. In this way, 320 meters (almost three milligrams) of silk can be gathered per animal. Another field that spider threads are used to serve human beings is medicine. Pharmacologists at the University of Wyoming in the USA are using the threads of a spider species called “Nephile” in lieu of catgut in very sensitive operations like tendon and joint operations.

With the acceptance of the superiority of created features, no doubt, evolutionists have experienced a new disappointment and a new sense of hopelessness. The invalidity of evolutionists’ unscientific claims that beings are in a state of development from the simple to the more complex over time and that their characteristics have formed by coincidence, were once again proved. Allah, the Lord of all worlds, is the One Who creates flawless and unique systems. Allah is the One Who creates all things flawlessly. Those who do not want to accept this will live an unending regret in the hereafter.”He Who created the seven heavens in layers.You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again – do you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted!” Surat al-Mulk, 3-4)Allah Created Spider Threads in the Best Shape For Its PurposeIt is generally not known that spiders use more than one thread type while making their webs. However, spiders produce different threads in their bodies for different purposes. When one thinks about the life of spiders, it is immediately understood how important this feature is, because the specialty of the thread the spider walks on and the threads it used to catch its prey or to wrap it tightly have to be different from one another. For example, if the thread a spider walks on were adhesive like the thread it uses to catch the prey, the spider would stick on the web and thus it would cause its own death.

These silk threads have different qualities in terms of both flexibility and strength, and they also have different qualities for thickness and adhesiveness. For example, the hanging thread, which plays a big role in the spider’s life, has a flexible and strong structure even though it is not adhesive. It can carry two to three times the spider’s weight easily. The spider, which also carries its prey together, can move up and down safely thanks to these ropes.

As it is seen, the spider needs to make very different threads and moreover it must use these different threads in the right places. Even the lack of one of these threads is potentially deadly for the spider. None of the qualities spiders have could have emerged phase by phase as the theory of evolution suggests. Since the first spiders on earth, all spiders have existed in their complete form. All of these point to the evidences that they emerged all of a sudden and that Allah created them. Allah shows us His infinite power and matchless knowledge with the superior miracle of creation in spiders. Allah reveals this truth in one verse: “Everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. The kingdom of the power over all things” .(Surat al-Hadid, 1-2)

July 31

Dua-e-Mujeer

According to the book Misbah, one who recites Dua-e-Mujeer on the 13th, 14th and 15th of Holy Ramadhan, the Almighty will forgive their sins even if they are equal to raindrops, leaves on a tree or sand in a desert. This Dua was revealed to the Holy prophet when he was at Maqam-e-Ibrahim praying. Other benefits of the Dua are:

  1. Cure for sickness

  2. Alleviation of debt

  3. Increase in sustenance

  4. Independence

  5. Solution of problems

  6. removal of sorrows

July 30

Ramadhan Dua – Day 10

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ALLAH, on this day, make me, among those who rely on You, from those who You consider successful, and place me among those who are near to you, by Your favour, O goal of the seekers.

O Allah, I pray to be able to rely on You, but I get upset at the slightest of breakages of my plans. Little do I realise that things working out of my plans are inviting me to ponder over the Master plans of the Planner of Universe.

“I have recognized my Lord through the breakages of my plans!” – Imam Ali (as)

Real success is in submission to Your plans, Your decisions. If I manage to rely fully upon You, and am content at heart even if things do not move my way, realising that You are the best of planners, I have managed to touch the glory of success.

This success will be far from following my plans, satisfying my ego but it will take me so much closer to You, that nothing else would then matter.

What is my goal in life? I plan to pursue my goal, and if the goal is to reach You, and attain closeness to You, as I say in the niyyah of all my good deeds, QURBATAN ILALLAH (to acquire closeness to Allah), then the breakages of my plans through Your Will do not make any difference, because the path is not important when the goal is acquired.

Have I known my goal?

O Allah, before I ask for reliance upon You, before I glance at what success means to me, allow me to realise and identify my goal in life.

July 29

Maytham Al Tammar: The Orator of Ahlul Bayt

myWPEdit ImageAs usual, the lover of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) made his way to the palm tree near Amr ibn Hurayth’s house. With tender care, he watered the tree and made sure it was still healthy and strong. After praying under the sparse shade of the towering trunk and long leaves, these words escaped his lips: “May God bless you, for I have been created for you, and you have been created for me.” (Sharh of Ibn Abi Hadid)



This was the routine of Maytham al-Tammar, the freed slave of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). The humble fruit seller was one from among the circle of the Imam’s close companions, and he constantly uttered the praise of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon him). Eventually, he gained the status of being a carrier of knowledge taught to him by the Imam, and he propagated those teachings to others.



Imam Ali once predicted to his dear companion: “O Maytham, know that after my death, you will be arrested and hung from the gallows. On the second day, your beard will be reddened with the blood of your nose and your mouth, and on the third day, you will be pierced with a spear, and you will go to the presence of your Lord. The place where this will occur is near the house of Amr ibn Hurayth, and you will be the tenth person to die in that way, the only difference being that the scaffold from which you will hang will be shorter than the others. I will show you the tree from which it will be fashioned.” (Ibid.)



From the moment the Imam showed Maytham the specific tree, Maytham grew attached to it and looked forward to his martyrdom. For him, the tree symbolized the day that he would get closer to his Lord, so he yearned for that day and didn’t care for the sparkle of this materialistic world. Often, we get caught up in our everyday lives that we barely give a thought to the reality of our impermanence. If we were told the exact situation of our death, we could react in two ways: either try to live for this world in the time we have left, without a care for the teachings of Islam, or – like Maytham – we could try to live for the next world by being the best Shia of Ali that we can be.



In another account, after having been told that he will die from hanging one day, the first words that came from Maytham’s were, “O my Master! Will I die the death of a Muslim?” (Kitab al-Fazael) Maytham’s first concern was not how long he had left, where he would die, who would hang him, if it would be painful, or if there was any way out of it. All that mattered to him was whether or not his loyalty to the Almighty will still be firm when he will return to his Lord.



Like us, Maytham was a fallible human being – yet his mindset was so focused on getting closer to Allah. We need to re-adjust our focus to getting closer to Allah, so that we too can be like the strongest lovers of our Ahlul Bayt who guide us towards Him. When having to decide at a crossroads between the Right and the Wrong, we shouldn’t be intimidated by the whispers of Shaytan and his soldiers – we have to keep our focus. Death could come at any moment, and we definitely want to go as the followers of Allah’s beloved ones.



Whatever difficulties we may face, remembering Maytham’s dire situation helps to put things in perspective. When Ibn Ziyad came into power, he arrested the staunch supporter of the Ahlul Bayt, and after an exchange of words, Ibn Ziyad wanted to know about Imam Ali’s prediction about Maytham’s death. By the end of the description, an infuriated Ibn Ziyad vowed to disprove the Imam’s prediction. Yet Maytham’s supply of courage was not depleted – he said: “How can you do the opposite when, by Allah, Imam Ali had heard it from the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), while he had heard it from Jibra’il, who in turn heard it from the Al­mighty. How can you oppose them? And I even know the place in Kufa where I shall be hanged, and I shall be the first in Islam to be bridled.” (Nafasul Mahmum) Ibn Ziyad imprisoned Maytham, keeping him there until approximately two weeks before Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) reached Iraq.



Truly, whatever troubles we face, they are not likely to be as dangerous as that of Maytham’s. In the court of a drunken tyrant, he stood up for what he believed in and didn’t shy away from showing the strength of his love for the Prophet’s Family – so why should we compromise our beliefs just because of what others might think of us? Why feel embarrassed at claiming to be the followers of Imam Ali? If we are his followers, then we have the responsibility to uphold his name and the reputation that goes with it.



The brilliance of Maytham’s faith doesn’t fade after having replied to Ibn Ziyad’s foolish talk; rather, Maytham went on to give us more inspiration in his love for the Ahlul Bayt. While he was hanging from the very tree that he had tended during his life, he attracted crowds of people with his words of praise for the Pure Infallibles! The soldiers of Ibn Ziyad informed him that Maytham was about to start a revolution in Kufa with his brilliant oratory in praise of the Ahlul Bayt! An alarmed Ibn Ziyad ordered Maytham’s mouth to be muzzled, and two days later, a spear was thrust into his body by the soldiers of Ibn Ziyad. On the 23rd of Dhil Hajj, in the year 60 AH, Maytham’s soul was reunited with his beloved master Ali. Thereafter, other fruit sellers took down Maytham’s body and performed the proper burial rites.



When it comes to being a true lover of the Ahlul Bayt, Maytham is a timeless example for us. Without hesitation, without apology, without embarrassment, Maytham uttered the virtues of the Pure Household wherever he was. They are the ones who take us closer to Allah, and He is the ultimate goal – so how can we shy away from loving them?



In reference to another kind of tree – a beautiful, ever-lasting tree – Prophet Muhammad once said: “The parable of Ali is like a tree, in which I am the root, Ali is the branch, Hasan and Hussain are the fruits, and the Shia are the leaves.” (Lisan al-Mizan) This tree – the tree of the guardianship of Ahlul Bayt – is what takes us closer to Allah, so we have to strive to keep it full of lush leaves. In order to be among the leaves blossoming from this flourishing tree, we need to live and die like Maytham: with the love of the Ahlul Bayt in our hearts and on our lips.





Reference: http://islamicinsights.com/religion/history/maytham-al-tammar-the-orator-of-ahlul-bayt.html

July 25

Reflections:

He sends down water from the clouds, then valleys flow (with water) according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam, and from what they melt in the fire for making ornaments or apparatus arises a similar scum; thus does Allah compare truth and falsehood; then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing, and as for that which profits people, it stays on the earth, thus does Allah set forth parables. (13:17)

This fascinating verse of the Holy Qur’an is full of meaning and depth. The example that Allah gives in this verse is that of the rain which falls on the earth. Different parts of the earth accept it according to their capacity. The water then flows along, with foam forming on top. This foam is similar to the scum produced when metal is melted. Allah likens the foam and the scum to falsehood, while the water that remains and is beneficial to human beings is likened to truth.

Pondering over this verse reveals many hidden meanings. Through this parable Almighty Allah wants us to realise the difference between truth and falsehood. Using an example that everyone can see, the Almighty points out simple facts that we often overlook and ignore. How many of us have seen the foam forming over water, and dismissed it as just worthless dirt! To us nature is to be seen and enjoyed, and perhaps seen as a proof of the existence of a Creator. But in this verse Allah asks us to go beyond that. He wants us to derive insights from observing the foam and scum produced in nature.

One teacher of the Holy Qur’an described his fascination with this verse in a lesson saying that he actually went out once when it was raining, and observed as the water fell on the earth. He followed the path of the water as it flowed, and watched as the foam began to swell. He had never observed the phenomena with such thoughtful eyes before. He saw the foam rise and gush forward, but saw it settle down as the water flowed to flatter surfaces. Eventually the foam disappeared and the water calmed down. Such, he realised, was the transient nature of falsehood.

Commentators of the Holy Qur’an have given many points when talking about this verse. Some of these points are summarised below:

  1. The rain falls equally on the surfaces of the earth, but the acceptance and absorption by the ground depends on the ground quality. Some soil will absorb enough water for growth, and the water turns it into a fertile place. Other types of soil will not have the capacity to absorb much, and will remain barren. Such is the example of Divine revelation and the human heart. The wisdom and guidance from the Almighty comes for everyone, but each human being accepts and derives benefit from it according to his capacity.

  2. Truth and falsehood are sometimes difficult to distinguish. Often, falsehood is disguised as a form of truth, and has many advocates who will vouch for it. This point is especially true in today’s modern world, where truth and falsehood in moral and ethical issues are often indistinguishable. In the verse above, the Almighty gives us the following signs to identify truth and falsehood:

a) Truth is always useful and beneficial. Like the flowing water that is a source of life, truth gives life and spirit to everything it comes into contact with. Falsehood on the other hand, is useless and superfluous. The foam on top of the water does not quench any thirst, nor cause any greenery to grow. It has no benefit for the human being.

b) Falsehood is always on top, making a lot of noise and movement. It invites attention and seems large, but like the foam is empty inside. Truth is humble, quiet, and content to stay at the bottom. It has weight and value, and does not need to attract attention to be worthy. Imam Ali (a) says: Truth is heavy and wholesome, while falsehood is light and bitter.

c) Truth is strong and always depends on itself. It is often used as a support. Imam Ali (a) says: Truth is the strongest support. Falsehood depends on others to exist. It tries to disguise itself in the dress of truth, and use it to support itself.

  1. Truth will always overcome falsehood, even if it takes some time. Those who have neither patience nor wisdom to know that this will eventually be the outcome are deceived by falsehood. Wise people however, are content to wait. They know that truth will ultimately emerge the winner. Almighty Allah says in Surat al-Anbiya: Nay! We cast the truth against the falsehood, so that it breaks its head, and lo! It vanishes. (21:18). The foam may be strong for a while, but will eventually disappear.

  2. When the water calms down and enters a flat area, the foam subsides and soon disappears. Clear and pure water then becomes visible. When human beings become tranquil and are ready to see the truth, the falsehood on top of the truth subsides and disappears. Truth, in all its purity, is then recognised and accepted.

The above verse of the Holy Qur’an is a beautiful example of how human beings can learn much from nature. It is an eye-opener, reminding us to walk on earth with eyes and ears open for understanding. It is a great loss if we pass by such wonderful lessons of nature, seeing them but not really understanding them. That is why the Almighty reminds us often in the Holy Qur’an to ponder over creation; Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of the night and the day, there are signs for a people who understand. (3:190)

Sources

Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed.), Tafsire Namune

Agha Muhsin Qara’ati Kashani, Tafsire Noor

Muhammad al-Ray Shahree, Mizanul Hikmah

The Academy for learning Islam

Reflections: Issue # 16 April 2012