Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hajj - Imam Zainul Abideen's (a.s.) Conversation with Shibli



When the Fourth Imam Zainul Abideen (AS) returned from Hajj, Shibli came to meet him. They engaged in the following conversation:

Imam: Did you go for Hajj O Shibli?

Shibli: Yes O son of the Messenger of Allah.

Imam: Did you stop at the Miqaat and put away the sewn clothes and perform the sacred bath?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you stopped at Miqaat did you make the intention that you are taking off the clothes of disobedience and putting on the clothes of obedience?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you had taken off your sewn clothes did you make the intention that you had taken off hypocrisy and entering dubious acts?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you took the bath did you have the intention that you are washing yourself from all sins and errors?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not stop at Miqaat, nor did you take off sewn clothes nor did you perform the sacred bath.

Imam: Did you cleanse yourself and put on Ihram and fulfill your covenant of Hajj?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you did this did you have the intention that you are cleaning yourself with the nurah of the sincere repentance to Almighty Allah the most high?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you put on the Ihram did you have the intention that you are forbidding yourself everything that Almighty Allah has forbidden?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you fulfilled the covenant of Hajj did you have the intention that you have nullified all other covenants with other than Allah?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not cleanse yourself nor did you put on the Ihram nor did you fulfill the covenant of hajj.

Imam: Did you enter the Miqaat and pray the two Rakats of the Ihram and did you chant Talbiyah?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you entered the Miqaat, did you make the intention of entering as a visitor?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you prayed the two Rakats did you make the intention that you are trying to get closer to Allah (SWT) with the best of acts from the prayers and the biggest of good deeds from the acts of worship?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you chanted the Talbiyah did you have the intention that you were talking to almighty Allah with all obedience and keeping quiet from all disobedience?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not enter Miqaat nor did you pray nor did you chant the Talbiyah.

Imam: Did you enter the Haram and did you see the Kaaba and did you pray there?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you entered the Haram did you have the intention that you were prohibiting on yourself all backbiting of all the Muslims from the Nations of Islam?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you reached Makka did you make the intention with your heart that you had come to Almighty Allah (SWT)?

Shibli: No

Imam: You have neither entered Haram nor seen the Kaaba nor prayed.

Imam: Did you go round the house and did you touch the Rukn and did you make Saee?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: And when you did the Saee did you have the intention that you were running towards Almighty Allah and did Allah the knower of all secrets know this?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not go round the house nor did you touch Rukn nor did you make Saee.

Imam: Did you touch the Hajar-e-Aswad and did you stand at the Maqam-e-Ibrahim and did you pray two Rakats on it?

Shibli: Yes

Here the Imam gave a scream as if he was about to leave this world saying Ah! Ah! Whoever touches the black stone it is as if he has shaken hands with Almighty Allah (SWT). So Look O poor chap that you do not destroy the reward of something whose sacredness has been made very great and you do not spoil your Handshake by disobedience and by grasping evil like the sinners.

Then Imam asked: Did you have the intention when you were standing on Maqam-e-Ibrahim that you were are standing on every obedience and that you have put behind you all disobedience?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you prayed two Rakats there did you make the intention that you are praying the prayers of Ibrahim and that you are humiliating Shaitan with your prayers?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not stand on Maqam-e-Ibrahim nor did you pray two Rakats on it.

Imam: Did you look over the well of Zamzam and did you drink from its water?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: Did you have the intention when you were looking over the well that you looking at obedience to Almighty Allah and closing your eyes from all disobedience?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not look over it nor did you drink from its water.

Imam: Did you run between Safa and Marwa and did you walk between it repeatedly?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: Did you have the intention that you were between hope and fear?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not run between Safa and Marwa.

Imam: Did you go out to Mina?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: Did you have the intention that every Muslim was safe from your tongue, your heart and you?

Shibli: No

Imam: You did not go out to Mina.

Imam: Did you stay a short time at Arafa and did you climb Jabal al-Rahma and did you recognize the wadi of Namira and did to supplicate to Almighty Allah near al-Mil and al-Jamaraat?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: Did you conceive by your stay in Arafa the gnosis (Irfan) of Almighty Allah (SWT) and the knowledge of good things and acts; and did you conceive that your book of deeds was in the hands of Allah and that Allah had full knowledge of your secrets and what is in your heart?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you climbed the Jabal al-Rahma did you have the intention that Almighty Allah may have mercy on all believing men and all believing women and that He will help all Muslim men and women?

Shibli: No

Imam: Did you have the intention at wadi of Namira that you would not enjoin good until you practice it yourself and you would not forbid evil until you leave it yourself?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you stopped at al-Mil and al-Jamaraat did you have the intention that they were witnessing all your acts of worship and that they were guarding you together with guardian angels by the order of Almighty Allah?

Shibli: No

Imam: Then you did not stay at Arafat nor did you go up the Mountain of Mercy nor did you recognize the wadi of Namirah nor did you supplicate to Almighty Allah.

Imam: Did you pass between the two columns pray two Rakats before crossing; go to Muzdalifah pick up pebbles and cross the Mash'arul Haram?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you prayed the two Rakats, did you have the intention that you were praying the prayer of thanksgiving within the ten nights which removes every hardship and facilitates every ease?

Shibli: No

Imam: At the time of passing between the two columns without deviating to the right or the left did you have the intention that you would never deviate from the true religion to the right or the left neither with your heart, tongue nor with your limbs?

Shibli: No

Imam: When you walked through Muzdalifah and picked up the pebbles did you have the intention that you have plucked all acts of disobedience and ignorance and that you had affirmed knowledge and action?

Shibli: No

Imam: Then when you walked in the Mash'arul Haram did you have the intention that you had embossed your heart with the identification of those who have Taqwa and fear of Almighty Allah the Most High?

Shibli: No

Imam: Then you did not pass between the two columns nor did you pray the two Rakats, nor walked into Muzdalifah, nor picked up the pebbles nor walked in the Mash'arul Haram.

Imam: Did you arrive at Mina, throw stones at the Jamarah and did you shave your head and slaughter the sacrifice and did you pray in Masjid al-Kheef and did you return to Makkah and perform the Tawaf of Ifadha (return) to Makkah?

Shibli: Yes

Imam: When you reached Mina and pelted the Jamarah did you have the intention that you have attained your goal and your Lord has fulfilled all your needs?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you pelted the Jamarah did you have the intention that you had pelted your enemy Iblees and by completing this precious Hajj you had disobeyed him?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you shaved your head did you have the intention that you had cleansed yourself from all filth and from all the injustice of the children of Adam and that you had purified yourself from sin just like a new born baby.

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you slaughtered your hadiya did you have the intention that you are cutting the artery of greed by holding fast to the reality of piety and that you are following the tradition of Ibrahim (A.S.) when he was prepared to slighter his son, the fruit of his heart, through which he established the Sunna of gaining nearness to Almighty Allah for those who came after him?

Shibli: No

Imam: And when you returned to Makka and did the Tawaaf of Ifadha did you have the intention that you had come back with the Mercy of Almighty Allah to His obedience and that you had clasped His love that you had performed your duty to Him and had gained nearness to him?

Shibli: No

Imam: Then you did not reach Mina nor did you pelt the Jamaraat nor did you shave your head nor did you slaughter the hadiya nor did you pray in the Masjid Al-Kheef nor did you return to Makkah and perform the Tawaaf of Ifadha. Go back because you have not performed Hajj!

Having heard all this Shibli started to cry because of what he had missed in his Hajj and he continued to learn the secrets of Hajj until he could perform the Hajj through knowledge and understanding.


(Special thanks to a dear friend for forwarding this to me...)
Photo courtesy and copyrights: BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/africahaveyoursay/2010/11/your-hajj-stories.shtml)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Culture

Following are some random points from a talk on Culture. Vast topic, do not try to draw any specific conclusion. I happily accept and welcome any disagreements.


Culture
Beginning quote:
There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than consultation.
- Imam Ali a.s.

Definition of culture:
-          164 definitions of Culture, according to Western sources only, so it is hard to define Culture in one definition.
-          Three basic senses:
o   Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
o    An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
o    The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group
-          As beauty has a virtually external aspect, such as the refreshing appearances of a flower, moonlight, a river fall, or beautiful handwriting, so does culture, like observable examples of morals, works of art, and architectural characteristics representing various external acquisitions and ideals.
-          “The proper quality or deserved methods used for those of man’s physical or spiritual needs based on human logical thoughts and emotions arisen from reasonable evolutionary lifestyles.”

A random question:
Question: Culture is usually ‘evolved’. Evolution can have creativity. Also, man’s evolutionary needs are those of “perfection” (Kamal/کمال ). So, can we be creative in setting up new forms of culture? Or adding new values/norms to it?
Keeping in view, some things are bound to change (Heraclitus: “Nothing endures but change”), some don’t(core principles, maybe, for example; Justice).  

Centuries passed; and a new one began; the moon is the same, but the water flowing by is not.

How to? (With reference to above question)
I personally believe human race is innately creative. So, if culture can be a creative entity, we need to tear the curtains meddling our hearts, and start inferring.
As Rumi says, apparently irrelevant though – but speaks my mind:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Culture and Religion:

چیست دین بر خواستن از روی خاک
تا کھ آگھ گردد از خود جان پاک

What is religion? Rising from the earth, to achieve self- awareness of the soul.
- Iqbal

Another random question: Is Islamic Culture Compatible with Western Culture?
In brief, Islamic culture is based upon a “logical mode of life”, which originates from the commonalities among divine religions (actually, all from Abraham's religion); undoubtedly, any culture -Western or Eastern -able to adjust itself to these common basics can have a profound role alongside Islamic cultures in reviving the prosperity of human societies.

Couple of important points:
-          Disharmonious Cultural elements in real facts may demolish all of Human Culture/specific Culture
-          Moral Corruption is the main reason for the deterioration of Western Culture

Some interesting terms regarding Culture:
Counterculture - a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day (post-Vietnam war hippies culture of 60's etc).
Creative Culture - brings imagination; diversity, curiosity, experimenting and idea sharing into daily activities.
Urban culture – Mostly driven by economics.

Sources:
Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind - An Introduction to Islamic Culture
by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari

Zain
6th October 2011.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You've got to find what you love.

I woke up in the morning and being it a weekend, grabbed my tablet to see news (yes, I specifically want to mention the tablet for some reason) and saw the news for Steve Jobs's demise. A revolutionary. And what came to my mind first is that I read this on a device that he placed into the hands of all of us. It could have been someone else, but for us, It was him
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. 1955 - 2011.