Friday, September 10, 2010

Concluding the Blog (?)

Asalaam Alaaykum,

I wish to thank all the members and followers of this blog for participating during this season of Ramadan. I enjoyed our blog and found it beneficial and I hope you did, too!

Feel free to continue to post if there is anything you wish to include but haven't posted yet.

Maybe we can start up this blog again next year if there is interest, and/or maybe we could have a blog for the Muharram season as well. What do you think?

Eid Mubarak to all of you. I pray the month of Ramadan was spiritually uplifting and that it concluded with forgiveness and lots of blessings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eid Mubarak

"'Eid is for those whose fasts have been accepted and whose salaat are worthy of reckoning and every day when one does not commit a sin it is 'eid" (Nahjul Balaghah, maxim 427)


To all believers in North America,

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of you.

The Crescent Moon Committee of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America announces, based upon several reports which were received from across North America, that tomorrow Friday 09/10/2010 is considered the 1st of Shawwal of the year 1431 for the United States of America (except Alaska) and some parts of Canada. Therefore Eid al-Fitr will be tomorrow for the above mentioned areas.

We ask The Almighty God to bless your work and shower you with His Blessings in this month, and to hasten the appearance of the Holy Imam of our time.

The Crescent Committee

o Sayyid Mohammed Rizvi, Toronto
o Sheikh Fadhil al-Sahlani, New York
o Sayyid Mahboob Mahdi Abdidi Najafi, Chicago
o Sayyid Rafiq Naqawi, Washington D.C.
o Sayyid Hassan al-Qizwini, Detroit

Note: The committee was established in the 9th annual conference of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America which was held on November 19th, in Atlanta, GA.y and days to follow)" (Nahjul-Balaghah)

(Sami Yusuf nasheed)

Whenever you observe it, Eid Mubarak to you - may Allah swt accept all your fasts and deeds in the month of Ramadan and grant you complete forgiveness at its close, and may your duas be accepted. I saw the crescent, it was very tiny and so exciting to actually see it!

Eid Salat




It is Mustahab that one should have a breakfast after sunrise, pay Zakatul Fitr and then offer Eid prayers.

It is Mustahab to walk barefooted to attend Eid prayers, with all the dignity, and to do Ghusl before namaz, and to place a white turban on one's head.

* It is also Mustahab that in Eid prayers Sajdah be performed on earth, and hands be raised while saying takbirs and if you are offering salat individually recites prayers loudly. And if you are Riciting Namaz e Eid with Jamat then the follower should recite everything in the Eid prayers, except Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah.
* Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha prayers are obligatory during the time of Imam (A.S.), and it is necessary to offer them in congregation. However during the present times when the Holy Imam is in Occultation, these prayers are Mustahab, and may be offered individually as well as in congregation.
* The time for Eid prayers is from sunrise till Zuhr
* It is Mustahab that the following takbirs be said on Eid ul Fitr night (ie night preceding the Eid day), after Maghrib and Isha prayers, and on Eid day after Fajr prayers, as well as after Eid ul fitr prayers: "Allahu Akbar, Alllahu Akbar, la ilaha illal lah wallahu akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lilla hil hamd, Allahu akbar ala ma hadana""
1) Eid prayers has two Rak'ats.
2) In the first Rak'at, a person should recite Surah al Hamd and a Surah
3) and then they say five takbirs, and after every takbir he should recite qunut.
4) After the fifth qunut, he should say another takbir and then perform Ruku and two Sajdah.
5) He should then stand up and recite Surah al Hamd and a Surah like first Rakat.
6) say four takbirs in the second Rak'at, and recite qunut after everyone of these takbirs.
7) Thereafter, he should say the fifth takbir and then perform Ruku and two Sajdah.
8) After the second Sajdah he should recite tashahhud, and then complete the prayers with Salam.
----------------
No particular Surah has been specified for Eid prayers But, it is better that after reciting Surah al Hamd in the first Rak'at, Surah Wash Shams be recited and in the second Rak'at Surah al Ghashiya
Any recital or Dua will suffice in qunut of the Eid Prayers. However, it is better that the following Dua is recited:

Allahumma ahlal kibriya'i wal 'azamah, wa ahlal judi wal jaburat, wa ahlal 'afwi war rahmah, wa ahlat taqwa wal maghfirah. As aluka bihaqqi hazal yawmil lazi ja'altahu lil muslimina 'ida , wali Muhammadin sal lal lahu 'Alaihi wa Alihi, zukhran wa sharafan wa karamatan wa mazida an tusalliya 'ala Muhammad wa Ali Muhammad wa an tudkhilani fi kulli khayrin adkhalta fihi Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad wa an tukhrijani min kulli su'in akhrajta minhu Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad salawatuka 'alahi wa 'alahim. Alla humma inni as aluka khayra ma sa alaka bihi ibadukas salihun, wa auzubika mim masta aza minhu ibadukal mukhlasun.

Note:Like in all other prayers, the follower should recite everything in the Eid prayers, except Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah.

From the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya:

n the Name of God, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful

Dear Respected Brothers & Sisters,

Salam Alikum
May the peace and blessings of God be upon you!
May God accept your fasting and deeds...

As for the matter at hand, the situation regarding the crescent for the month of Shawwal is not hidden from you. As you know, the possibility of sighting the crescent in different cities in the North America (see this link http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/assets/F2010Sep09.pdf)

It is our pleasure to receive your calls, so that you can please give any information concerning the situation of the crescent and its visibility.
Based on this, we will be available - God-willing - at the conference phone number:
(712) 451-6100 enter code 1074957#
throughout the sunset times from:
7pm EST until 7pm PST

We hope that all believers participate in this effort. We ask the Almighty Allah to shower you with His Mercy and bless you in these nights.
You have our sincere affection and appreciation.

Salam Alikum (Peace & blessings)
I.M.A.M.


TOKNOWABOUT THE 1ST DAY OF SHAWWAL -EID-UL-FITR DAY

Dear Respected Believers

Salam Alikum - Peace & blessings upon you

As the 1st of Shawwal, i.e., Eid-ul-Fitr, draws near, it is important for all Muslims to understand the basics of how this month is determined and update about expectation of sighting the new crescent of the first of Shawwal.

Months in the Islamic calendar follow a lunar system, meaning that the months are determined through observation of different phases of the moon. As the moon revolves around the earth, it reflects different amounts of sunlight, so that we see only parts or the entire moon. At the end of every month, the moon fades away and a new moon is born. At that phase, the moon cannot be seen in the night sky. With passing time, the moon changes its position so that it reflects more and more of the sun's light. When the new crescent moon is seen in this phase, a new month begins.

On the 29th of the month, Muslims around the globe observe the night sky and try to sight the new crescent moon and determine the beginning of the month. If the new crescent moon is sighted on that night, the next day will mark the beginning of the month. If the moon is not seen on the 29th, the 30th day is considered the last day of the month. The following day will then be the first day of the next month.

Our Grand Jurists have different opinions on some of the particulars of moon sighting, therefore we will briefly address the following topics:

* How the moon is sighted?
* Whose testimony do we rely on?
* The validity of astronomical data.
* Sharing the curve of sighting

HOW THE MOON IS SIGHTED?
The first issue is in regards to how the new crescent moon is sighted. Jurists, including His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani, hold that the possibility of observing the new crescent moon by the naked eye needs to exist, without the use of any optical aid.

WHOSE TESTIMONY DO WE RELY ON?
Because most individuals cannot observe the new crescent moon themselves, Islam gives individuals other methods for confirming the beginning of the lunar month. The individual can rely on the testimony of two just men who sighted the new crescent moon in their area. A general consensus among the people as to the beginning of the new lunar month can also be used to verify a sighting, if it is in line with the opinions of the jurist one emulates.

THE VALIDITY OF ASTRONOMICAL DATA
Our jurists have also addressed the question of the validity of astronomical data in determining the new lunar month. Based on the experts who provide astronomical data, they emphasize that their data does not predict the visibility of the moon with certainty (Source: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/cres-moon-islamic); they can only calculate with high precision the time of birth of the new moon. Therefore, it cannot be relied on with certainty in determining the sighting of the new crescent moon. In addition, we can rely on astronomical data to verify where the new crescent moon cannot be seen.

SHARING CURVE OF SIGHTING
A sighting of the new crescent moon in a city can be used to determine the beginning of the new month in that city and its vicinity. According to the view of His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayid Ali Al-Sistani, if the new crescent moon was sighted in one area, the sighting can also be used to determine the beginning of the month in areas sharing the same curve of sighting. In such areas, the altitude and size of the new crescent moon is close to one another. (To find out altitude and size of the new crescent moon at any location, please refer to the following site: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/alt-az-us).

IN CONCLUSION
Based on the astronomical data http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/nextnewmoon.htm North America most likely will be divided to several areas. We ask the believers to try the sight the new crescent tonight Thursday 09/09/2010 at sunset. In case the New Crescent is sighted please contact and join the Crescent Committee on the toll free conference call number:

* (712) 451-6100 (pass code 1074957#)
* From 7:00 PM (EST) till 7:30 PM (PST) to submit your reports

The Crescent Committee of the Council of Shia Muslims Scholars in North America will be announcing the details of the beginning of the Month of Shawwal, by the end of the night insha Allah.

We ask the Almighty God to bless you and accept your fasting and prayer during this Holy Month, and to shower you with His Mercy and advance you further in your work.

Salam Alikum
I.M.A.M.

Monday, September 6, 2010

From Tafseer Al-Mizan , Chapter 112 - Al-Ikhlas (The Unity), Verses 1-4

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent


Chapter 112 - Al-Ikhlas (The Unity), Verses 1-4

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ - قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ {1} اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ {2} لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ {3} وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ {4}
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. 
- {1} Say: He, Allah, is Unique! {2} Allah is He on Whom all depend. {3} He begets not, nor is He begotten. {4} And (there is) none is like Him.

General Comment

This chapter describes the pure Oneness (Tawheed) of Allah (swt), freeing Him from all kinds of need without associating anything with Him and that which is not in His essence, attributes or actions. This is pure Tawheed according to the Qur'an and it is one of the specialties of the Qur'an and the edifice of all the Islamic knowledge.

There are numerous traditions discussing about the virtues of this surah including those received by Shias and Sunnis that say that this surah is equivalent to one third of the Qur'an and the same will be forthcoming in our narrative discourse.

This surah is either a Meccan Sura or revealed in Medina, but is likely that it descended in Mecca according to the reasons of its revelation.

Commentary

Qur'an: Say: He, Allah, is Unique:

The word Ahad (unique) is an attribute which is derived from the word Wahid (one) but the word Ahad is used about  something which cannot be counted or numbered and something that does not accept numerousness (from all sides) - not even evidently or imagined. Therefore, the word Ahad does not mean one, unlike the word Wahid, so that we may start counting two, three and so on. In the (usage of the) word Ahad, whatever is followed by a second is that very same thing. For example if someone says: "No one (from the people) came to me" (maa jaani minal qaumi ahad), it negates the coming of one, two or more but if someone says "one (from the people) did not come to me" (maa jaani wahidu minhum) it negates the coming of only one but not two, three or more.1

In this backdrop, the word Ahad (in the verse under discussion) is used in a positive sentence and it has a connotation that in His essence, Allah is such as no one like unto Him can even be imagined - be it one or more. Therefore, regardless of its condition in actuality, it is impossible even to imagine it properly.

Qur'an: Allah is He on Whom all depend:

The literal meaning of "samad" is to intend or to depend. The word has been explained in many different ways. More so, it has been explained as the One on Whom all depend. The word samad in this verse has been used without any restriction – therefore the meaning "One on Whom all depend" is more acceptable.

For Allah is the one who brought everything into existence – therefore everything with the exception of Him (Who is self-Existing) depend on Him. Just like He said:

Surely His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, the Lord of the worlds. (7:54)

And that to your Lord is the goal (53:42)

By mentioning  the word "Allah" again in the verse under discussion saying: "Allah is He on Whom all depend" and without saying: "He is the One on Whom all depend" or "Allah is Unique and One on Whom all depend" shows that each of these two verses is sufficient in explaining (in a limited way) the attributes of Allah.

These two verses praise Allah (swt) in His attributes of essence and action. Therefore, the clause "Allah is Unique" is the praise of His Essence and the clause "Allah is One Whom all depend" is the praise of action - which praises Allah for He is the end of everything.

It has also been said that the word samad means One who does not eat, drink, sleep, beget or is He begotten. Therefore the verse that follows (He does not beget nor was He begotten) is the explanation of the word samad.

Qur'an: He begets not, nor is He begotten. And (there is) none is like Him:

These two verses refute that Allah begets something through another thing by way of separation2 - just like what the Christians claim about 'Isa (as) that he is the son of God or the claim by the polytheists concerning some of their idols that they were the sons of God.

In the same manner, these two verses refute that He was begotten or He came into existence from another thing just like what the polytheists claim. In their (the polytheists) belief of god, there is god the father, god the mother and god the son.

Also, these two verses refute that God has a partner in His actions just like the claim among people like Firawn and Nimrud - who called themselves gods.

To give birth is one way of reproducing (or populating) however one defines it - for the one who is born has to cling to (depend on), and becomes part of, the one who gave birth and definitely each of the parts will be in need of each other. But Allah (swt) is not in need of anything and that all things are in need of Him. Therefore, Allah does not beget.

His saying: "He was not begotten": a thing which is begotten must be dependable on the one who begets and Allah is not dependable on or in need of anyone, therefore He was not begotten.

His saying: "there is no one like unto Him": it is indeed not possible that He is self-Sufficient (and on Whom all depend) if there is someone else like Him or a model like Him. For, He alone is the One on Whom all depend, thus He has no example or model. Therefore it has become clear that these two verses is the explanation of the word "samad" and they also confirm or establish Allah's Oneness in His Essence, Attributes, Actions and in addition, those things that relate to His Majesty and Glory. For this reason, this whole chapter explains the attributes of Allah and His Oneness.3

It is also said that the word "kufwan" means wife because a wife is an example of a husband. In this case, the verse (under discussion) takes on the meaning of the following verse:

And that He - exalted be the majesty of our Lord - has not taken a consort, nor a son. (72:3)

Traditions

In al-Kafi, from Muhammad bin Muslim, from Abu Abdillah (as) who said: "Indeed, some Jews asked the Prophet (s): 'Praise your Lord for us'. The Prophet waited for three days without replying them, and then this surah was revealed."

The author says: In Ihtiyaj, it has been reported from al-Askary (as) that the one to ask the Prophet (s) was Abdullah bin Suriyya, a Jew. In some Sunni traditions, it is mentioned that the one who asked the prophet (s) was Abdullah bin Salam, who asked him while in Mecca and thereafter he became a Muslim but he concealed his faith. In some Sunni traditions it says that some Jews had asked the Prophet while some others say that the polytheists of Mecca were the ones who asked the Prophet (s).

In Ma'an from the Isnad from Asbagh bin Nabata from 'Ali (as) who said: "the praises (attributes) of Allah is 'Qulhuwallah'.

And in Ilal from the isnad, from as-Sadiq (as) who said in a tradition that in Meraj (ascention) Allah (swt) told the Prophet to recite "Qulhuwallah" for it is His praise. This tradition with the same meaning has been narrated by al-Kadhim (as) and also in many traditions of the Sunnis from among the companions like Ibn Abbas, Abu Dhard, Jabir bin Masud, Abu Sais al-Khudr, Muadh bin Anas, Abu Ayyub, Abu Amama and others. There are many traditions received from the Shias regarding the same.

The author says: They have all explained that this chapter is equivalent to one third of the Qur'an in different ways one of them being that the Qur'an has the exposition of three main pillars or principles: Tawhid, Prophethood and the Hereafter and this whole chapter (of Ikhlas) covers one of the pillars i.e. Tawhid.

In at-Tawhid it is reported that 'Ali (as) said: "One day I saw Khidr (as) in my dream before the battle of Badr and I said to him: 'teach me something that will protect me from the enemies' and he (Khidr) said: 'say, yaa huwa man la huwa illa huu' (O You besides Whom there is no one except You). So when I woke up, I narrated this to the Messenger (s) who told me: 'O 'Ali you have been taught a glorious name'. That is why this was at the tip of my tongue on the day of the battle of Badr."

The author says: Indeed, Amirul Mu'mineen ('Ali ibn Abi Talib) recited Qulhuwallah until the end (of the chapter) and then recited "yaa huwa man la huwa illa huu! Ighfirliy wansurni alal qawmil kafireen".  (O You besides Whom there is no one except You. Protect me and help me from the disbelieving people)

In al-Kafi, from the Isnad of Daud bin al-Qassim Jafari it is reported that he asked Abu Jaffar (as): "What is the meaning of samad?" He (Abu Jaffar) said: "It means the One on Whom all depend from little to plenty."

In the meaning of the word samad, there are other explanations received from the Imams (as):

al-Baqir (as) said: "Samad means one who is obeyed and no one else".

al-Hussein (as) said: "Samad means one who has no example or model, one who does not sleep, one who is available and will always be available".

as-Sajjad (as) said: "Samad is He Who if He wants something, He says: 'Be' and Samad is (also) He who has produced things and created unique species in pairs - male and female.

The author says: The actual meaning of Samad, as narrated by Abu Jaffar II (as), is that which is in keeping with the intended theme (of the surah). So various meanings have been transmitted by the Imams (as) in their tafseer and it compels us to say that Samad means the One (Almighty God) on Whom all depend for all their needs without Him having any dependence (or need).

In at-Tawhid, it has been narrated by Wahab bin Wahab al-Quraysh who narrates from as-Sadiq (as) who narrates from his grandfathers that people of Basra had written to al-Hussein (as) asking him for the meaning of Samad. The Imam (as) replied them as follows: "In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent and the Most Merciful. Do not argue and talk about the Qur'an without any knowledge because I heard the Messenger (saw) say (about the Qur'an) that whoever says about the Qur'an without any knowledge, then he should prepare for himself a seat in the fire of hell. And Allah Himself has said: "Say: He, Allah, is Unique! Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And (there is) none is like Him."

In the same at-Tawhid from the isnad of Ibn Abu Umair who narrates from al-Kadhim (as) that he said: "Know that Almighty God (swt) is only One! One on Whom all depend, He did not beget to be inherited nor was He begotten to be associated (to have partners)."

In another sermon of 'Ali (as), he said: "He (Allah) was not begotten except that He should not have a partner in His Glory and He does not beget except that He should not be inherited.

The author says: There are many traditions narrating what has been mentioned in the foregoing.

Footnotes

[1] This example also shows how the word Ahad is used in negative and positive sentences respectively. (tr.)

[2] When part of a body separates and forms into another thing. (tr.)

[3] These two verses negate such factors (like begetting and being begotten) that impose some limits and isolation on Allah. (tr.)

Preparing for the End




Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The blessed month of Ramadan will be over in a few days, and so it is fitting to repost this from last year. On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN…”

- From the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless us all, and grant that we use this Eid as a lens to focus the sun of good works, which have shone so brightly during Ramadan, to light the way through this coming year until the next Ramadan. Amin! Amin!

Eid Mubarak!


A few more prayers you may wish to try before this month is over:

From an e-mail I received:

salaams:

another gem of worship i found in one of my dua collections...

Namaz/Amaal for any one day in the Holy Month of Ramadhan:

Recite 12 rakat salah in sets of twos (like 6 fajr).
In each rakah after Surah al-Hamd, recite suratul Ikhlaas 25 times.

After finishing this prayer recite 70 times:
"Subhana lahi wal hamdulillahi wa la ilaha illal lahu wallahu akbar, wa la hawla wala quwwata illa billahil aliyyul azeem.

next, recite 70 times:
"Astaghfirul lahal ladhi la illaha illa rahmanur raheemul hayyul Qayyum, wa atoobu ilaih."

The reward is given as soon as one lifts his or her head from the last sajdah:
1. all your sins are forgiven
2. sawab of going to 700,000 Hajj
3. sawab of going to 700,000 Umrah
4. sawab of 700 nights of tahajjud
5. sawab of having kept 700 fasts
6. keeps away the calamities of this life and of the hereafter
7. one will always say the correct religious things
8. if the person dies the same year, he/she will get the status of a martyr
9. assurance that one will get safely into paradise after death.
INSHA'ALLAH!!!!



This next one can be done anytime but if one achieves forgiveness in the month of Ramadan it may be more readily beneficial for your family right now:

As Salaam Alaikum wa Ramadan Mubarak:

Following, is the method for Salatel e Hadiya Waaledain or salat for one's parents. Many of you converts might be interested in doing this for your parents, many of whom remain non-Muslim.

it consists of two rakahs.

In the first rakah after suratul Fatiha, recite this dua 10 times in qunoot, hands raised:

"Rabbanaghfirlee wa lay waaledaiyya wa lil momineena yauma yaqumul hisab" (Quran: 14:41: "Our Lord! cover us with Thy forgiveness; me, my parents and all believers on the Day of Reckoning will be established.")

Finish the rakah as normal.

In the second rakah, after Suratul Fatiha, recite this dua ten times in qunoot with hands raised:

"Rabbighfirlee wa lay waaledaiyya wa lay mun dekhala baitee momeenan wa lil momineena wal mominaat." (Quran 71:28) "Our Lord! forgive me and my parents and those who enter my house with belief and men who believe and women who believie."

Then finish the salat as normal.

After salah, in prostration, recite the following dua ten times:

"Rabbir ham homa kama rabbayanee sagheera." (Quran 17:24)
"Our Lord! Forgive them both for they have brought me up in my childhood.
"


These are just a few prayers we might want to do before these precious days are gone - who knows if we will have another chance?

And when Eid does come, insha'allah, let us stay united and keep something of what we have tried to gain in this month. What will you keep from the month? Will you keep reading the Qur'an a little every day? Will you keep fasting on a regular basis? Will you be kinder to other people or more patient? It will only stay with you if you make it stay with you!

Here is an article written last year about Eid calculations and unity - let us leave the month in peace.

This year, the crescent for Shawwal was sighted in South America and South Africa on Saturday night. Based on this, Eid in North America was on Sunday for the followers of Ayatollah Khoei and a few other Maraja Taqleed (Religious Authorities), and on Monday for the followers of Ayatollah Sistani and some other jurists.

Naturally, all hell broke loose. "Why can't we have a united Eid?" "Why are these Maraja dividing us?" "They are causing our families to split!" Forums were flooded, angry text messages were sent, and chain emails are still being forwarded. Once again, Marjaiyyat stands accused for having causing yet another crushing blow to the oh-so-fragile Western Shia community. Even the rare well-wishers who do not harbor any particular animosity towards the Maraja cannot help but scratch our heads...
"Sharing the Night" vs. "Sharing the Horizon"

In regards to moonsighting, there is a slight difference of opinion among our Maraja. A few scholars, the most notable among them being the late Ayatollah Abul Qasim al-Khoei, are of the opinion that as long as the moon is sighted in one place, all other locations "sharing the night" (Wahdat al-Ufoq) will also rely on that sighting. For example, if the moon is sighted in the United Kingdom, then it will also apply to places like New York and Detroit, because sunset time in New York and Detroit is before the break of dawn in the UK. Hence, they "share a night". (Ayatollah Khoei: Islamic Laws, ruling #1744)

However, the majority of our Religious Authorities (including Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani and Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei) follow the principle of Ta'adad al-Ufoq ("sharing the horizon"). According to this principle, each location has its own curve of sighting that is distinct and separate from others, unless the two locations "share a horizon", meaning if the moon is sighted in one location, there must be a significant probability it would have also been sighted in the other location had it not been for adverse weather conditions, etc. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1744; Ayatollah Khamenei: Practical Laws of Islam, Q. 835)

On the Farsi section of his website www.sistani.org, Ayatollah Sistani is asked if Hasa and Qatib (in Saudi Arabia) share a horizon with Tehran. In the Arabic section, the same question is asked about Najaf and Bahrain. In both cases, the answer is affirmative.

Furthermore, as explained by Ayatollah Sistani: "If the new moon is sighted in the East, it also applies to the West, as long as the latitude of the two locations are not greatly further away from one another. If the new moon is sighted in the West, it does not apply to the East, unless it is proven – even by the moon staying on the first [Western] horizon for the length of time that is longer than the difference between the sunset of the two locations. [For example, if the sunset in the Eastern city was half an hour before the Western city where the moon was sighted, and the moon stays on the horizon longer than half an hour – the Eastern city can follow the moon sighted in the Western city.]" (A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West, ruling #115)

Lastly, if a person does not know whether it is the last day of Ramadan or the first of Shawwal, (s)he should observe fast on that day, and if (s)he comes to know during the day that it is the first of Shawwal, (s)he should break the fast. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1746; Ayatollah Khoei: Islamic Laws, ruling #1746; Ayatollah Khamenei, Newly Asked Questions, section on "Fasting" at www.leader.ir)

Also See: Ask the Experts by Shaikh Saleem Bhimji
Scientific Predictions

So why can't we use scientific methods to determine the new moon and forget about moonsighting all together? Surely with current scientific developments, this would solve the whole problem.

According to most of our scholars, the first day of a month cannot be proven through scientific predictions. However, if an individual derives full satisfaction and certitude from such findings (or through any other source), (s)he is welcome to act upon them. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1741)

In the past few years, there has been increasing emphasis on the use of scientific calculations for the purposes of determining the new moon by a growing portion of our community. However, what we must keep in mind is that science is not the end-all-be-all answer to all questions. Scientific predictions about moonsighting are based on calculations, and those could easily be incorrect or based on incorrect models or theories. In the past, there have been several instances of differences among scientists and observatories over the possibility of moonsighting, usually because they subscribed to differing models or theories. While we can use scientific data for the purposes of determining probability and such, it cannot therefore be a substitute for actual moonsighting by the human eye.

Interestingly, the US Naval Observatory itself notes on its website, "The date and time of each New Moon can be computed exactly, but the time that the Moon first becomes visible after the New Moon depends on many factors and cannot be predicted with certainty."
"But how can we have two Eids?"

The answer: why not?!

Instead of making mountains out of molehills, let's try to resolve such issues with a little bit of common sense. If Ramadan ended on Saturday for the parents and on Sunday for the children, surely the parents can wait just one day to wear their new clothes or cook up all sorts of ethnic delicacies! If the other members of your family are fasting today, and you are not, just drink a glass of water in the morning – you don't have to eat a four-course meal in front of them! In regards to Eid prayers, most places have services to accommodate both situations, and even if your community doesn't, keep in mind that Eid prayers are not obligatory during the occultation of the Twelfth Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) and can also be offered individually (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1525).

Furthermore, even if we see the Lebanese community celebrating Eid on one day, the Pakistanis the next days, and the Khojas after them, what exactly is the big deal? In many parts of the Muslim world, people celebrate Eid for a whole week. The more, the merrier! I for one fail to see the problem with being able to dress up, visit friends, and gorge out on delicious food for three days instead of just one!

Instead of panicking and rushing to hurl the vilest accusations at our religious scholars, let us try to be a bit more reasonable. Unity does not mean uniformity. Instead of becoming upset at such minor differences, let us learn to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of variety and diversity.

Also, we must realize that even if we ignore all jurisprudential differences, we still would not be able to avoid the issue of multiple Eids. Indeed, we see that during the caliphate of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), a man once came and told him that he had sighted the crescent for the month of Shawwal, while no one else had. The Imam told him that since he has sighted the moon himself, it was Eid for him the next day, but for the rest of the community, since there were not two reliable testimonies (as required by Shariah), it would be the 30th of Ramadan. So while it was haram for the man to fast the next day, it was in fact wajib upon everyone else! (Wasail ash-Shia, volume 10, chapter on Fasting)

Hence, for those who have proper knowledge and understanding of Islamic jurisprudence, this is really a non-issue. In all honesty, the moonsighting drama has nothing to do with unity or keeping our families intact. The Shia world has had multiple Eids for centuries now, so it has hard to fathom why this has become such a divisive issue. The fact of the matter is that this is a simple jurisprudential technicality which certain nefarious elements have hijacked and used to attack our Maraja Taqleed, and many simple-minded Shias are sadly following suit. If we are really so concerned about maintaining unity, let us keep in mind that the one institution that has safeguarded and protected Shi'ism for the past 1200 years and the only platform that is capable of uniting us is the same Marjaiyyat which we so quickly rush to accuse of causing disunity amongst us!

On a final note, in the 13th century, as Mongol armies were about to overrun Baghdad, the Muslim world was too busy fighting among itself over apparently a far more pertinent matter: whether it is permissible to consume owl meat or not! Today, as we face enemies and calamities from all sides, let us learn from our own history, let us cease from wasting so much time and energy complaining about such trivial matters, let us unite under the banner of the Marjaiyyat, and let us focus on the greater problems that threaten to overrun our communities and the Muslim Ummah today.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Salaat Imam-e-Zamaan

Salaamun Alaykum all: see below, my apologies if the Arabic has not
transferred over correctly! You will find the complete dua at
www.duas.org should you need it Insha Allah.

Bismillah al Rahmaan al Raheem

"Make lots of prayers for the hastening of relief, for in it is your
relief" - Letter from Imam Zamaan (ATF)

Grand Ayatollah Sayed M. Taqi al Modarresi has called on Shias all
over the world to ask for the reappearance of the Awaited Savior by
performing the special
Salaat Imam-e-Zamaan (see below for instructions) on the eve of the
23rd of the month of Ramadhan, the Night of Destiny, which is
inextricably linked to
the Imam of our time.

We call on all believers to take part in this global campaign and
perform this brief Salaat on this special night, as that could hasten
the Dawn of Humanity
and fill the earth with justice and end all oppression.

Over a million pilgrims are expected to take part in this campaign in
the holy shrine of Imam Hussein and perform the prayer under the
glorious dome of
the Imam, with millions of others in various Middle Eastern cities
across the region, and we ask believers around the world to join them.

How to perform the special prayer of Imam Zamaan:

It is composed of 2 Rak'ats, each with Surat al Fateha, until one
reaches verse: 5: "Iyyaka naA'budu wa iyyaka nastaA'een", then one
repeats this verse
100 times, then completes the Surah. After Surat al Fateha, Surat al
Ekhlas is recited once.

The second Rak'ah is done in the same manner.

Following the end of the prayer, the following supplication is recited:

Arabic:

اللهم عظم البلاء وبرح الخفاء وانكشف الغطاء وضاقت الأرض ومنعت السماء
وإليك يارب المشتكى وعليك المعول في الشدة والرخاء

اللهم صل على محمد وآل محمد الذين أمرتنا بطاعتهم وعجل اللهم فرجهم
بقائمهم وأظهر إعزازه

يا محمد يا علي ، يا علي يا محمد، أكفياني فإنكما كافياي، يا محمد يا
علي، يا علي يا محمد، انصراني فإنكما ناصراي، يا محمد يا علي، يا علي يا
محمد، احفظاني فإنكما
حافظاي

يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان، يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان، الغوث الغوث الغوث،
أدركني أدركني أدركني، الأمان الأمان الأمان

Transliteration:

Bismillaahir Rahmanir Raheem Ilaahi a'zomal balaa wa barehal khafa wan
kashefal ghita wan qata-ar rajaa wa zaaqatil arzo moneatis samaa wa
antal musta-aano
wa ilaikal mushtakaa wa a'laikal mu-awwalo fishshiddate war rekha.
Allaahumma salle a'laa muhammadinw wa aale Muhammad ulil amril lazeena
farazta a'laina
ta atahum wa arraftana be zaaleka manzilatohum fa farriz a'nna be
haqqehim farajan a'ajelan qareeba kalamhil basare a-huwa aqrab. Yaa
muhammado yaa a'li
yaa a'liyyo yaa Muhammad ikfiyaani fa inna kuma kaafiyaan naaseraan
wan suraani fa innakuma naaseraan yaa maulana yaa sahebaz zamaan al
ghauth al ghauth
al ghauth ad rikni ad rikni ad rikni as saa-a as saa- as saa-a al
a'jal al a'jal al a'jal yaa arhamrraahemeen be haqqe muhammadinw wa
aalehit taahereen.
Allaahumma
salle a'laa muhammadinw wa aale Muhammad.

Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. My God, terrible
was the calamity, and its evil consequences are visible, the covering
has been removed,
(all) hopes have been cut off, the (plentiful) earth has shrunk (with
very little to spare), the heavenly blessings have been withheld. Thou
alone can
help, we refer our grief and sorrow to Thee, we have full faith in
Thee, in the time of distress, as well as in good fortune. O Allah
send blessings on
Muhammad and on the progeny of Muhammad, whom we must obey as per Thy
command, through which we become aware of their rank and status, and
let there be
joy after sorrow for us, for their sake, right away, in the twinkle of
an eye, more rapidly than that. O Muhammad! O Ali! O Ali! O Muhammad!
Suffice me!
Because both of you provide sufficiently. And help me! For both of you
help and protect. O our master! O the living Imam! Refuge! Refuge!
Refuge! Reach
me! Reach me! Reach me! This hour! This hour! This hour! Do hurry! Do
hurry! Do hurry! O the Most Merciful. For the sake of Muhammad and his
purified Progeny.
O
Allah, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad.

(originally from Sr. Roshni)

Sacrifice or Indulgence: Have We Lost Sight of the True Principles of Ramadan?

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Sacrifice or Indulgence: Have We Lost Sight of the True Principles of Ramadan? 



A discussion with Tariq Ramadan and Sayed Mohammad Rizvi


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Please remember me in duas in this blessed month!