Archive for March, 2012

The Seeds Of Discord

by Muzafar m alidina

We all know someone who is “religious”. For some a religious person is one who attends mosque regularly, for others it is someone who has a vey sincere and humble presentation of themselves, and the list goes on. We’ve all heard it from time to time, your parents or elderly relatives rambling on about how so-and-so is so religious because of how they behave, or how they interact. Quite often, this sends us further away from our intended path, our Siratul-mustakeem (the right path).

When this happens, it could be a result of two things. Naturally, one would expect that if someone does something earnest in the pleasure of Allah (S.W.T), any sincere fellow Muslim would appreciate it for what it really is, or hold off any doubts and commit to Husnu dhan (“a good opinion”).  At this junction, if one does not appreciate the sincerity of the act of another, it either means that one cannot uphold Islamic values such as Husnu dhan or that there is something inherently wrong with the other persons’/groups’ actions. The norm in our society, or at least the way I as a youth see it, is the second. Psychologists call it the Fundamental attribution error  – a tendency to over-value your explanations of any observed behavior of someone else and under-value the situational circumstances of that perceived behavior. In layman’s terms, it is when you and I are more likely to blame the “other” person/group for what they do rather than trying to understand their circumstances wholly. Believe it or not, current research shows that this inherent need to blame the person rather than fully evaluating the scenario is representative of a highly individualistic society, one that is predominant in the West today. [1]

With the influence of Western culture, we as Muslims have accepted a lot of it because for better or for worse, it has been easier.  Surprisingly, our “old” and “backward” cultures also have values that are compatible with our religion. According to the study cited here, and many others, collective societies, do not make the fundamental attribution error as much as Western societies. However, this doesn’t imply that we should not search for evidence, that we should just drop the search for what is going on. The judgment should hold “innocent until proven guilty”, rather than the other way round.

What baffles me sometimes, and hopefully other people, is that relationships, societies, groups of any kind, could have such a great impact if only they sort out their differences; if only they would drop their suspicion, and their continuous negligence. This isn’t true of every society, or of every group – don’t get me wrong. But as a youth living in the modern day, this fragmentation of people seems to plague a number of our communities.

Today our communities need to move forward by catering for the youth. The elderly sometimes rightfully see it as religious apathy. However, at times undeserving praise and disproportionate suspicion presented to many youth results in a more estranged community.

It is our responsibility, as Muslims to uphold the values of the Prophet and his family. It is our responsibility to create an inclusive community and foster to the needs of our future leaders. Spreading rumors and developing suspicions are representative of planting seeds of discord for future generations. Lastly, it reduces our faith and takes us off the path that we have to continue voyaging on.

As Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) puts it:


When a believer accuses his brother, faith in his heart is melted in the same way that salt is melted in water.”


[1] Miller, J. G. (1984). “Culture and the development of everyday social explanation”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology46 (5): 961–978.

 doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.46.5.961

A beautiful insight into the spiritual realm of the Universe

by Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi

Contributed by Irfan Dhirani

During my short lifetime I tasted the joys and the sorrows of life and I saw its ups and downs. I experienced its greatness and humiliation, its wealth and poverty and its ease and hardness. At last, I felt this Quranic truth with all my heart and soul:

“And the present worldly life is nothing but the joy of delusion”

(Quran, Chapter of ‘Al-Imran, verse 185)

Yes! Worldly life is the enjoyment of delusion and deceit and it is more empty and meaningless than we all think, as the poet says:

Life is not too mysterious, Just a change of days and nights,

Bitterness and saltiness called life, That truly, it does not worth it at all,

Only the belief in the eternal life in hereafter can give meaning to the present worldly life, and without that belief the life on the earth would not have any goals, no senses.  Throughout my life I found nothing more precious than what ends in spirituality and true human values, all worldly values are in fact a mirage, people are in a dream, in their glancing fantasies, suffering constantly from hardness and difficulties.  Yesterday’s children, now young men. Today’s youth, tomorrow’s elderly. And tomorrow our elderly will lie in their graves; their bodies will rot in the ground, as if they never existed!

Passing by the houses of some great personalities, scholars and the distinguished men of the past, I remember how crowded these houses were, how much ruction! How many eyes gazed on these doors! But today the dust of oblivion covered them all, serene and silent! It reminds me of what Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) said in Nahj-al-Balaghah:

“It seems as if they never lived in this world

and as if the next world had always been their abode”

(Nahj-al-Balaghah, sermon 188)

I see some old friends, with bent bodies, leaning on their canes, walking and stopping every few steps to catch their breath and move on. Suddenly their youth flashes before my eyes! How strong were their bodies! How much cheer and spree! How healthy and active! What laughters they had!

But now the dust of sorrow has covered their faces, and they are so depressed as if they have never passed by the alley of happiness.  Now I can feel the concept of this awakening divine verse with all my heart, and I am sure that everyone who reaches my age can feel the same after a little deliberation:

“This worldly life is naught but a diversion and a play”

(Quran, chapter of Ankaboot (spider), verse 64)

In spite of this, I wonder why are there that much breakneck enthusiasm to wealth and high position? Whom are they accumulating for? Where is the root of such negligence? Especially in our era when the changes and transformations take place wildly and faster than ever.

I know families which used to live together in their own world, but now they are scattered, one lives in America, another in Europe, one here, another there, but the elderly parents are left alone and forgotten in their house, sometimes it passes months without having any news of each other. It reminds me of the valuable saying of Imam that says:

“The thing that ends like this does not worth to be started with avarice and greed”

[Bihar-al-Anwar, Vol.70, Page 103, Narration 91 (from Imam Musa-al- Kazim)]

When I go to cemetery, especially when I visit the graves of scientists and scholars, I wonder to see how many friends of mine now slept down into their graves; their pictures still look familiar, taking me deeply to my past. I ask myself, am I dead like them while I think I am alive? Then I recall the poem of that pious poet who says:

Whoever you are, and wherever you reach,

The final abode of this world is here!

University Life- In search of Spirituality…

By Kumailabbas Dewji

Truly, to be born a follower of the Ahulbayt is the biggest blessing one can ask for. Having lived all my life in the heaven of peace, Dar es Salaam, the concept of religion was one I was no stranger to. Majlises, mehfils, lectures and many other activities were the norm in the community. Mosque was very much part of our lives from childhood and religious gatherings our real outings. I recall how during the month of Muharam, every activity in Dar would freeze for the majlises of Aba Abdillah (AS). Be it school, work or sports- everything would be put on hold as we would spend hours in the mosque taking part in different forms of Azaadari. The city centre would witness people wearing black clothing in virtually every other corner, all remembering the great sacrifice Imam Hussein (AS) and his family gave on the plains of Kerbala.
I, like most youths, was no different. I actively participated in all of the activities with the aim of spiritual upliftment. Come the year 2011, after completing my A Levels, I decided on pursing Medicine. I applied to different places and managed to secure a place at the Kasturba Medical College in Manglore, India.

At first I was excited and very happy to get a place in such a prestigious university. However, as the days progressed and the time to leave home got near, fear started creeping in. Was I ready to move away from home? This thought came for various different reasons but the most important of them was over my faith and religion. Having always heard about the various challenges and trials out there, especially in university life, I could not help but ask myself if I was equipped enough to be able to overcome such challenges and stand on the path that Bibi Zainab (AS) gave her hijab for. I prayed to Allah to guide me for I was taking this step for His pleasure with the aim to make a difference in the world with my qualification.
Ten months later and here I am in Manglore, almost done with my first year. Having stayed here for almost a year, I have faced various trials and tribulations. The aim of this article is to share my experience as to how I have come to see the beauty of my religion and how studying abroad has actually helped me in terms of my faith. As each day passes, with the great mercy of Allah, my conviction in the religion of Islam grows more and more, because unlike in the past when I was told Islam was the solution to the problems, now I actually see it right in front of me!

The first aspect where the religion of Islam has showed me that it is the true way of life has been in the way it focuses on the importance of living a disciplined life. The best form of worship- Salaah has been prescribed at specific times instilling in a person the importance of having a sense of timing and that goes a long way in teaching one discipline. Though it make look petty to a casual eye, but the timing of salaah plays a huge role in making a person systematic and organised.
Another example is how Islam emphasises on the need to have good morals and principles. Today I can see how my age group is facing so many problems, problems related to drugs and diseases. This is simply because we have forgotten the true teaching of our religion and as a result of it, have gotten into acts which are harming us. Drug abuse and immoral acts, which lead to spread of killer diseases like AIDS have taken such a root in our community.

Back home I was not as much exposed to the culture of drinking as I have come to witness here. Students in my class, some younger than me, spend every other weekend drinking, claiming it to be fun. A form of happiness which ends with the person not being in his own senses and leading to mischief and trouble for others. Such are the incidents that have made me believe strongly that when the religion of Islam says no to something, it is because our Merciful Lord knows what sort of harm that brings to us. All this was taught to me back home but moving away and witnessing different lifestyles and practices has truly convinced me of how beautiful and practical Islam is. Moving to a place where fellow lovers of Ahulbayt are so hard to find has made me appreciate the importance of a community too. Having always been a person who enjoyed going to mosque, the community has been something I have always treasured. Many a times we fail to realise how much our community is doing for us until we don’t have all those services at our disposal. I strongly believe that a community does play a huge role in the well being of an individual. That appreciation however, has to begin from home with the parents, and I am indeed very thankful to Allah for having such wonderful parents.
My father, well known to be an active community person, has always been a volunteer at mosque, kabrastan (graveyard) and mehfil. My late mother was no different being an active member in community affairs and was seen spending the full twelve days of Muharam in the mosque volunteering in different areas.

To be told to appreciate the community, Islam and ahlulbayt is one thing, but to witness both my parents give so much importance to the azaadari of Imam Hussein was a different story in itself. Their love for the holy ahlulbayt instilled in me the passion of love for Imam Hussein (a.s.).
Today it is that love that has pushed me to take an active part in organising Muharam programs here in Manipal. We have a group of 35 Shia students from different parts of the world (Tanzania, Kenya, Canada) pursuing different courses here. During this last Muharam, all of us together organised majlises and other programs in remembrance of our Imam. The pleasure and satisfaction achieved in doing all these events was amazing. Such hunger and desire to want to travel one and half hour to Manipal from Manglore every other day has come with the foundation laid by my parents and practices set up by the community.
Moving away from home where our thoughts are so restricted at times and our practices so traditional has helped me actually understand the true spirit of azaadari. By the day, I find new vigour and love for my Imam and the pure household of the Holy Prophet, may Allah send His choicest blessings on them all.

Lady of Light

Extract from “Hazrat Zahra and the heart-rending episode of Fadak” by Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi

Contributed by Irfan Dhirani

English Interpretation:
“The night of (Qadr), i.e. Divine Decrees is Fatimah (s.a.), therefore whoever knows Fatimah (s.a.) well has understood the Night of Divine Decrees, and the reason for Fatimah being named Fatimah is that mankind has been “Prevented from obtaining” her acquaintance!” -Bihar ul Anwar, V43.

This is a very unusual interpretation! Fatimah (s.a.) is the very Night of Divine Decrees. Anyone who really knows Fatimah (s.a.) as she is, has understood the Night of Divine Decrees. Very few persons have known Fatimah (s.a.) as she is and was.

We know that Quranic verses have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning, and many interpretations. Without a doubt the literal interpretation of the chapter “Qadr” tells of the night in which the Holy Quran was descended upon the pure heart of the Prophet (S), and in which the divine decrees (destinies) of human beings are ascertained for a year, according to Divine Wisdom. As such, what was said in the tradition above is a figurative interpretation of this chapter’s meaning, or the second meaning of the chapter “Qadr”.

And what a close relationship there is between the existence of “The lady of Islam” and the “Night of Divine Decrees”.

1. The Night of Divine Decrees is (the disguised or unknown of “Qadr”), undoubtedly this great Lady, who the Prophet (S) would call a part of his flesh and reckoned her pleasure to cause God’s pleasure, and her anger God’s anger, is also the disguised or unknown of Qadr.

2. The Night of “Qadr” is hidden among the nights of the year. The grave of the Lady of Islam is unknown among the graves of the great Personages of Islam, and when those who wish to pay pilgrimage to her enter Medina and visit the shrines of all the other great ones but seek her grave not to find it, will well understand the heavy load of this sorrow.

3. The Night of “Qadr” is better than one thousand night worship and the virtue of it’s worship is greater than that of a long life of eighty years. The virtue of this great Lady is also greater than thousands upon thousands of virtuous persons and her rank is more superior.

4. The “Night of Qadr” was the time in which the Quran was descended upon the pure heart of the Prophet of Islam, a sudden, all together revelation, even though its gradual descent took over twenty three years.
The “Night of Qadr” may also therefore be named as the Night of the descent of virtue and perfection, knowledge and wisdom. The being of Fatimah (s.a.) is also the source for the luminosity of the guardianship and Imamat and also divine knowledge and wisdom.

5. The “Night of Qadr” is the night in which by command of God, the Angels ascertain the destinies of all human beings and present them to “Waly-al-Amr” (the guardian of his command. It is a night of which in its entirety is peace and good.

The brief life of this Lady of Islam was also from beginning to end, goodness, soundness and blessing and was given the attention and interest of the Angels.

The close relationship between the “Night of Qadr” and the being of Fatimah (s.a.) deems it necessary for all of us to strive harder in knowing her, and obtaining greater benefit from the blessings of her radiance.

Bikini or headscarf – which offers more freedom?

By Krista Bremer, O, The Oprah Magazine

Nine years ago, I danced my newborn daughter around my North Carolina living room to the music of “Free to Be…You and Me”, the ’70s children’s classic whose every lyric about tolerance and gender equality I had memorized as a girl growing up in California.

My Libyan-born husband, Ismail, sat with her for hours on our screened porch, swaying back and forth on a creaky metal rocker and singing old Arabic folk songs, and took her to a Muslim sheikh who chanted a prayer for long life into her tiny, velvety ear.

She had espresso eyes and lush black lashes like her father’s, and her milky-brown skin darkened quickly in the summer sun. We named her Aliya, which means “exalted” in Arabic, and agreed we would raise her to choose what she identified with most from our dramatically different backgrounds.

I secretly felt smug about this agreement — confident that she would favor my comfortable American lifestyle over his modest Muslim upbringing. Ismail’s parents live in a squat stone house down a winding dirt alley outside Tripoli. Its walls are bare except for passages from the Quran engraved onto wood, its floors empty but for thin cushions that double as bedding at night.

My parents live in a sprawling home in Santa Fe with a three-car garage, hundreds of channels on the flat-screen TV, organic food in the refrigerator, and a closetful of toys for the grandchildren. An inheritance story you won’t believe

I imagined Aliya embracing shopping trips to Whole Foods and the stack of presents under the Christmas tree, while still fully appreciating the melodic sound of Arabic, the honey-soaked baklava Ismail makes from scratch, the intricate henna tattoos her aunt drew on her feet when we visited Libya. Not once did I imagine her falling for the head covering worn by Muslim girls as an expression of modesty.

Last summer we were celebrating the end of Ramadan with our Muslim community at a festival in the parking lot behind our local mosque. Children bounced in inflatable fun houses while their parents sat beneath a plastic tarp nearby, shooing flies from plates of curried chicken, golden rice, and baklava.

Aliya and I wandered past rows of vendors selling prayer mats, henna tattoos, and Muslim clothing. When we reached a table displaying head coverings, Aliya turned to me and pleaded, “Please, Mom — can I have one?”

She riffled through neatly folded stacks of headscarves while the vendor, an African-American woman shrouded in black, beamed at her. I had recently seen Aliya cast admiring glances at Muslim girls her age.

I quietly pitied them, covered in floor-length skirts and long sleeves on even the hottest summer days, as my best childhood memories were of my skin laid bare to the sun: feeling the grass between my toes as I ran through the sprinkler on my front lawn; wading into an icy river in Idaho, my shorts hitched up my thighs, to catch my first rainbow trout; surfing a rolling emerald wave off the coast of Hawaii. But Aliya envied these girls and had asked me to buy her clothes like theirs. And now a headscarf. How do you get your daughter to talk to you?

In the past, my excuse was that they were hard to find at our local mall, but here she was, offering to spend ten dollars from her own allowance to buy the forest green rayon one she clutched in her hand. I started to shake my head emphatically “no,” but caught myself, remembering my commitment to Ismail. So I gritted my teeth and bought it, assuming it would soon be forgotten.

That afternoon, as I was leaving for the grocery store, Aliya called out from her room that she wanted to come.

A moment later she appeared at the top of the stairs — or more accurately, half of her did. From the waist down, she was my daughter: sneakers, bright socks, jeans a little threadbare at the knees. But from the waist up, this girl was a stranger. Her bright, round face was suspended in a tent of dark cloth like a moon in a starless sky.

“Are you going to wear that?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said slowly, in that tone she had recently begun to use with me when I state the obvious. Your kids are different…and it’s okay

On the way to the store, I stole glances at her in my rearview mirror. She stared out the window in silence, appearing as aloof and unconcerned as a Muslim dignitary visiting our small Southern town — I, merely her chauffeur.

I bit my lip. I wanted to ask her to remove her head covering before she got out of the car, but I couldn’t think of a single logical reason why, except that the sight of it made my blood pressure rise. I’d always encouraged her to express her individuality and to resist peer pressure, but now I felt as self-conscious and claustrophobic as if I were wearing that headscarf myself.

In the Food Lion parking lot, the heavy summer air smothered my skin. I gathered the damp hair on my neck into a ponytail, but Aliya seemed unfazed by the heat. We must have looked like an odd pair: a tall blonde woman in a tank top and jeans cupping the hand of a four-foot-tall Muslim. I drew my daughter closer and the skin on my bare arms prickled — as much from protective instinct as from the blast of refrigerated air that hit me as I entered the store.

As we maneuvered our cart down the aisles, shoppers glanced at us like we were a riddle they couldn’t quite solve, quickly dropping their gaze when I caught their eye.

In the produce aisle, a woman reaching for an apple fixed me with an overly bright, solicitous smile that said “I embrace diversity and I am perfectly fine with your child.” She looked so earnest, so painfully eager to put me at ease, that I suddenly understood how it must feel to have a child with an obvious disability, and all the curiosity or unwelcome sympathies from strangers it evokes.

At the checkout line, an elderly Southern woman clasped her bony hands together and bent slowly down toward Aliya. “My, my,” she drawled, wobbling her head in disbelief. “Don’t you look absolutely precious!” My daughter smiled politely, then turned to ask me for a pack of gum.

In the following days, Aliya wore her headscarf to the breakfast table over her pajamas, to a Muslim gathering where she was showered with compliments, and to the park, where the moms with whom I chatted on the bench studiously avoided mentioning it altogether. Why her faith is colliding with her workout routine

Later that week, at our local pool, I watched a girl only a few years older than Aliya play Ping-Pong with a boy her age. She was caught in that awkward territory between childhood and adolescence — narrow hips, skinny legs, the slightest swelling of new breasts — and she wore a string bikini.

Her opponent wore an oversize T-shirt and baggy trunks that fell below his knees, and when he slammed the ball at her, she lunged for it while trying with one hand to keep the slippery strips of spandex in place. I wanted to offer her a towel to wrap around her hips, so she could lose herself in the contest and feel the exhilaration of making a perfect shot.

It was easy to see why she was getting demolished at this game: Her near-naked body was consuming her focus. And in her pained expression I recognized the familiar mix of shame and excitement I felt when I first wore a bikini.

At 14, I skittered down the halls of high school like a squirrel in traffic: hugging the walls, changing direction in midstream, darting for cover. Then I went to Los Angeles to visit my aunt Mary during winter break. Mary collected mermaids, kept a black-and-white photo of her long-haired Indian guru on her dresser, and shopped at a tiny health food store that smelled of patchouli and peanut butter. She took me to Venice Beach, where I bought a cheap bikini from a street vendor.

Dizzy with the promise of an impossibly bright afternoon, I thought I could be someone else — glistening and proud like the greased-up bodybuilders on the lawn, relaxed and unself-conscious as the hippies who lounged on the pavement with lit incense tucked behind their ears. In a beachside bathroom with gritty cement floors, I changed into my new two-piece suit.

Goose bumps spread across my chubby white tummy and the downy white hairs on my thighs stood on end — I felt as raw and exposed as a turtle stripped of its shell. And when I left the bathroom, the stares of men seemed to pin me in one spot even as I walked by.

In spite of a strange and mounting sense of shame, I was riveted by their smirking faces; in their suggestive expressions I thought I glimpsed some vital clue to the mystery of myself. What did these men see in me — what was this strange power surging between us, this rapidly shifting current that one moment made me feel powerful and the next unspeakably vulnerable?

I imagined Aliya in a string bikini in a few years. Then I imagined her draped in Muslim attire. It was hard to say which image was more unsettling. I thought then of something a Sufi Muslim friend had told me: that Sufis believe our essence radiates beyond our physical bodies — that we have a sort of energetic second skin, which is extremely sensitive and permeable to everyone we encounter. Muslim men and women wear modest clothing, she said, to protect this charged space between them and the world.

Growing up in the ’70s in Southern California, I had learned that freedom for women meant, among other things, fewer clothes, and that women could be anything — and still look good in a bikini. Exploring my physical freedom had been an important part of my process of self-discovery, but the exposure had come at a price. Why women are the future of education

Since that day in Venice Beach, I’d spent years learning to swim in the turbulent currents of attraction — wanting to be desired, resisting others’ unwelcome advances, plumbing the mysterious depths of my own longing.

I’d spent countless hours studying my reflection in the mirror — admiring it, hating it, wondering what others thought of it — and it sometimes seemed to me that if I had applied the same relentless scrutiny to another subject I could have become enlightened, written a novel, or at least figured out how to grow an organic vegetable garden.

On a recent Saturday morning, in the crowded dressing room of a large department store, I tried on designer jeans alongside college girls in stiletto heels, young mothers with babies fussing in their strollers, and middle-aged women with glossed lips pursed into frowns. One by one we filed into changing rooms, then lined up to take our turn on a brightly lit pedestal surrounded by mirrors, cocking our hips and sucking in our tummies and craning our necks to stare at our rear ends.

When it was my turn, my heart felt as tight in my chest as my legs did in the jeans. My face looked drawn under the fluorescent lights, and suddenly I was exhausted by all the years I’d spent doggedly chasing the carrot of self-improvement, while dragging behind me a heavy cart of self-criticism.

At this stage in her life, Aliya is captivated by the world around her — not by what she sees in the mirror. Last summer she stood at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway, stared at the blue-black outline of the mountains in the distance, their tips swaddled by cottony clouds, and gasped. “This is the most beautiful thing I ever saw,” she whispered. Her wide-open eyes were a mirror of all that beauty, and she stood so still that she blended into the lush landscape, until finally we broke her reverie by tugging at her arm and pulling her back to the car.

At school it’s different. In her fourth-grade class, girls already draw a connection between clothing and popularity. A few weeks ago, her voice rose in anger as she told me about a classmate who had ranked all the girls in class according to how stylish they were.

I understood then that while physical exposure had liberated me in some ways, Aliya could discover an entirely different type of freedom by choosing to cover herself.

I have no idea how long Aliya’s interest in Muslim clothing will last. If she chooses to embrace Islam, I trust the faith will bring her tolerance, humility, and a sense of justice — the way it has done for her father. And because I have a strong desire to protect her, I will also worry that her choice could make life in her own country difficult. She has recently memorized the fatiha, the opening verse of the Quran, and she is pressing her father to teach her Arabic. She’s also becoming an agile mountain biker who rides with me on wooded trails, mud spraying her calves as she navigates the swollen creek.

The other day, when I dropped her off at school, instead of driving away from the curb in a rush as I usually do, I watched her walk into a crowd of kids, bent forward under the weight of her backpack as if she were bracing against a storm. She moved purposefully, in such a solitary way — so different from the way I was at her age, and I realized once again how mysterious she is to me.

It’s not just her head covering that makes her so: It’s her lack of concern for what others think about her. It’s finding her stash of Halloween candy untouched in her drawer, while I was a child obsessed with sweets. It’s the fact that she would rather dive into a book than into the ocean — that she gets so consumed with her reading that she can’t hear me calling her from the next room.

I watched her kneel at the entryway to her school and pull a neatly folded cloth from the front of her pack, where other kids stash bubble gum or lip gloss. Then she slipped it over her head, and her shoulders disappeared beneath it like the cape her younger brother wears when he pretends to be a superhero.

As I pulled away from the curb, I imagined that headscarf having magical powers to protect her boundless imagination, her keen perception, and her unself-conscious goodness. I imagined it shielding her as she journeys through that house of mirrors where so many young women get trapped in adolescence, buffering her from the dissatisfaction that clings in spite of the growing number of choices at our fingertips, providing safe cover as she takes flight into a future I can only imagine.


Sermon of Lady Zainab (pbuh) – Zahra Al-Alawi

A memorized recitation of the Sermon of Lady Zainab (as) daughter of Imam Ali (son of Abu Talib) (as) in the court of Yazid in Shaam.

Arabic with English Subtitle

The Loyal

by Taher Adel

From deep within the pits of Kufa
Few hearts still leaned towards the light
My heart was one of few lanterns 
That sought Hussain that night
Defending the honour of the prophet
Is the home of my lofty heights 
This flag in my heart pushes me forth
For I am the bearer of the non-Hashemites II
Arriving to the light in a cloud of dust
The first sign of Karbala was his smile
My tears like my horse lose their feet
Yet the distance between us counts in miles
Lost in the spinning spires of his beauty 
Immediately the distance proved worthwhile 
Here I was a young soul in an aging man
At the forefront of my destined trial 
This night is void of darkness despite the blanket sky
Seventy two surrounding one candle in the night 
I feel the prostrations of devoted hearts
And see angels whisper proud in flight 
I hear the humming of whispered prayers
Plenty of wishes but no wish are to survive 
Here we are all 72 in the darkness like
Bees surrounding our hiveIV
Zainab’s tears have broken us 
And carved open the stones of our hearts 
Water now flows in tandem streams
Our past and future now distant apart
This earth knows only our days 
While heaven knows our eternity 
Death is tasted only once in life
But for Hussain, we grant it without pity

Battles have sown my destiny
Just as days have built up my being
Swords have been blunted whilst
Sacrifice has sharpened the world that I am seeing 
Each strike of this sword has knitted
Each fragment of this soul for today
Each scar is another signature 
Of allegiance to your fathers name

I am Habib and age is nothing but a breeze 
Swimming through this storm
No breeze could pluck nor can storms pull
This rooted love beyond nature’s norms
I give you my days as if my soul is a youth
I spread them evenly between my aging years
I spill my years now on the surface 
Of this land in honour of Zainab’s tears

Life experinces 1



by Nouri Sardar

Indeed I am hardship, and I have my eye upon you
You’ll shudder from my glare but of my worth I shall argue
Yes, it may be that my glare has excited very few
And I instil fear and uncertainty into hearts, true
Yet only those who I’ve embraced, understand my value
For I clutched them, so tight, that to escape my chains, they grew
They grew and became immortal, from them weakness withdrew
I raised them, with my strange sense of comfort, gave them virtue

* * *

I work in different forms, many sizes and many shapes
I range from death and calamity, to mere cuts and scrapes
I seem to cut off conclusions, block; destroy escapes
Upon the stars of hope, I throw my shadowed, darkened drapes
Yet in reality, when your small mind my hand “misshapes”
I’m just restructuring it, till your mind my hand reshapes
Till I loosen my grip, leaving new, powerful landscapes
Now soothed by the sweet touch of my virtuous seascapes

* * *

I have seen and done many things, not all of which I’m proud
I have raised tidal waves to which entire cities have bowed
For men to make and use destructive weapons, I’ve allowed
I’ve seen the poor die of hunger, whilst watches a rich crowd
Yet with each tragedy I cause, I swear and I have vowed
That I do not cause destruction, no, rather I enshroud
Men in tests from their Lord, it result in hardship or shroud
I look dark but truly I cleanse, much like approaching cloud

* * *

Yet with all the power I have, there are still things whereby
When I recall them, they make me laugh or make me cry
I laugh when I grab someone – on no Lord does he rely –
And he bangs his head against walls screaming to no-one, “why?”
Yet there are times I crawl up in a corner, tears in my eye
Like when I make children thirsty, “al-atash” their outcry
When I murder a man, and his sister watches nearby
When I leave women to cry for help, met with no reply

* * *

And daily enchained by my own fate, to my Lord I kneel
O’ Lord tell those who hate my clutch, of a story unreal
Tell them of Zainab, the mother of hardships, her ordeal
Of the regretful heart of Abbas, the father of zeal
Of the infant who in his father’s arms would coo and squeal
Of Hussain who stood alone in a tragedy surreal
Therefore he who of my clutch on him, to you would appeal
Tell them of this true tragedy, so that his heart may heal

* * *

Making The Ahlul Bayt Proud

In an increasingly hectic and blunt world, there are countless examples of bad manners and poor ethics that are unfortunately regarded by society as the mark of a “successful” and busy individual. The gradual detachment of society from an emphasis on good morals and ethics has set the framework for many of the interpersonal, social, and family relationship conflicts that place. Islam rejects the notion that any individual is able to attain worldly or heavenly success without striving to cultivate ethics and manners. In fact, Holy Quranic verses and the traditions are filled with examples of praiseworthy conduct just as they present to us in clear distinction the characters we should not develop.

Leading By Example

Amongst the most famous narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) are those related to ethics and manners: “I was sent (to mankind) in order to perfect their ethics.” (Bihar al-Anwar) The Holy Qur’an is a prescriptive blessing left to Muslims regarding our conduct, and yet how many of us make a conscious effort to incorporate its sublime teachings into our lives? The Prophet Muhammad is the ultimate role model and leader when considering our own morals and manners which are, to be generous, lacking in the greatest degree in considering the teachers we have had. In fact, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) stresses our responsibility towards Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them), “Be conscious of God, and be a source of pride, and not a source of shame for us.” (Bihar al-Anwar)

Our Duty to God

“But God cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to God.” (3:28) Islam is not a difficult religion to adhere to if we simply consider that all (good) actions can be done for the sake of gaining nearness to God. For example, if we embark upon our careers for the sake of God and Islam, how can we allow ourselves to be degrading, rude, or negative towards our co-workers, customers, and others whom we interact with at our employment? If we begin volunteer work in the name of God, we must remind ourselves that work done for God must be carried out in a manner God approves of. Imam al-Sadiq has said, “On the Day of Judgment, the faithful believer does not present to Allah anything more dear to Allah than good behavior with people.”

The Rights of Your Own Self

Our tongues are among the greatest blessings given to us by God, and yet, how many times a day do we abuse this blessing to disobey His commandments? “He has created man: He has taught him speech (and intelligence).” (55:3-4) When we commit sins and trespass on the rights of others, we are also abusing the rights of our own self and our own tongue, ears, and eyes. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said regarding the tongue, “Its mass is small, but its sin is great.” In fact, our tongues are the most determining factor in deciding our final residence: heaven or hell. The Prophet Muhammad reinforced the importance of monitoring our speech: “Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst of the thirsty. Advise the people to do good deeds, and admonish them against evil deeds. If you are not able (to do that), then just guard your tongue from whatever is not good.”

The Rights of Others

Islam adamantly opposes lying and theft. However, when we exhibit low manners and undesirable characteristics towards others, we are guilty of stealing their right to truth, respect, compassion, and common courtesy. When we demonstrate a lack of manners and respect, we are destroying our own soul and taking away the rights of other humans. It is natural to encounter individuals who have wronged, oppressed, or violated our rights in a manner we perceive to be unacceptable. It is also here that we begin to appreciate the beauty of Islam, because Islam rises above human pettiness and elevates us towards human perfection by giving rights to even those who have wronged us.

Unfortunately, rudeness, meanness, and other diseases of the soul are prominent occurrences in our society. However, this does not justify allowing ourselves to sink to this disliked status before God and the Infallibles. Instead of responding to disrespect with the like, we must respond with kindness and respect, as these are the qualities the Prophets, Imams, and the Friends of God: “Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:34-35)

Common Courtesy Exemplifies Character

Our strength as Muslims stems from consistency in small acts of kindness and devotion repeated daily and with everyone we meet. The chief of martyrs, Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) stressed the value and merit of acts of courtesy: “Know that acts of courtesy earn praiseworthy results, and end in rewardable gains. If you were to see acts of courtesy personified as a man, you would perceive him to be good and handsome, pleasing for people to behold, and transcending all the worlds. And if you were to see acts of vileness personified, you would perceive an ugly, revolting, disfigured man, whom the hearts would be averse to, and whom the eyes would turn away from in disgust.” (Mustadrak al-Wasail)

God willing, we all begin to transition towards performing acts of goodness and compassion for our own sake, rather than expecting others to also do good things for us. The reward alone far outweighs mere thanks from others. Imam Ali reinforces the need for intrinsically motivated goodness: “People who perform acts of courtesy towards others benefit more from them than the recipients of their kindness, for verily they have the reward for them, the [rewarding feeling of] pride for having helped someone as well as a mention. So however much good a man may do for others, it ultimately always starts by benefiting himself, such that he never seeks thanks for the benefit incurred by himself through helping others.” (Kashf al-Ghamma)

Kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and common courtesy are all character traits we can work on and enhance, because Islam’s beauty is that it never requires more from its servants than they can fulfill. The only question to ask ourselves every day is: have I made the Ahlul Bayt proud with my actions today?

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