June 25, 2008

Tradition of Holy Prophet: Distinguishing Content from Form

When I published previous post in Mideastyouth, somebody called Rayed Al Sunni posted a comment:

In our Islam we know if you love Mohammad or religion the sign of love is to follow it not to celebrate in Birthday Mohammad didn’t celebrate for that. Islam didn’t do like this to celebrate in someone.we celebrate for E’ad Al Fater and E’ad Al Ad’dha.

Here is my reply to that comment, which constitutes basis of Ijtihad in Islam:


I do certainly agree with you that we as Muslims have to adhere to very tradition of Holy Prophet.

However, the very term Tradition, to me, means something close to this: following very measures that Holy Prophet set as True Islam. In other words, there had been two distinctive dimensions to Holy Prophet's deed: Content and Form. Our actions must be conforming to the Content, but not necessarily to the Form.

For example, we have repeatedly heard that Holy Prophet donated bread and date to the poor. It's one of his deeds, which includes Content (i.e. being kind to the poor) and Form (i.e. donating some certain materials, including bread and date). We have to imitate the content (be kind to the poor), but not necessarily the Form (just donate bread and date). Now, let me ask, if somebody happens to donate Pizza, in your opinion, he is far away from Holy Prophet's tradition? I don’t think so: he "is kind to the poor", thus his act is conforming to Holy Prophet's standards, even though he does not follow the very 'Form' Holy prophet had been used to.

So there is a certain set of Objective Measures, or Contents, to which we have to subscribe. But there are too many forms which may assume those very contents. Some of these forms have been common and usual in the time of Holy Prophet, and consequently he practiced them. Some of them were not common in the time of Holy Prophet, and consequently he failed/refused to practice them; however it does not forbid us to practice them.

Therefore, I don’t think that we have to imitate every act that Holy Prophet did, and avoid every single thing he either failed or refused to do. And there is another reason to it: it's practically impossible.

Again, I do agree that the Forms we decide to practice should be conforming to the measures set by holy prophet. For example, the tradition of Holy Prophet was to show his happiness for Eids, i.e. Holidays. We may come to use some new Forms to show our happiness, but not the forms which may be in conflict with His Tradition (such as dance and drinking alcohol).

So, after all, Holy Prophet orders us to be kind to our mothers. Is there any problem if we dedicate a certain day every year to our Mothers? And is there any problem if we use birthday of a great woman, daughter of Holy Prophet, to do so? A stone and two birds: expressing our kindness to mothers (as the Holy Prophet ordered us) as well as his family (again as he ordered us).

June 24, 2008

God Bless Mothers

According to Islamic lunar calendar, today is the birthday of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad. In Iran, we celebrate this day as Moms Day. Here are 3 pics of Mother Statue in Isfahan. God bless mothers.




June 18, 2008

Ayatollah Montazeri clarifies his position on Bahai faith

Your Excellency,
In one of your [previous] answers to [the questions regarding] Bahai sect, pointing out that Bahai faith is not considered a legal religious minority for it lacks a divine scripture, you stated:

"However, for they are citizens of this country and have a right due to belonging to this country, they have the right of citizenship."

Following your response, some of the followers of Bahai faith abused [it] and made significant claims, and it's even said that your pre-revolution opinion about them has changed [into this newer version]. Please kindly clarify this issue and your point about 'right of citizenship'.


Ayatollah Montazeri's Answer:
Blessing and peace
My opinion regarding Bahai sect is still what I did believe in since pre-revolution years and has not experienced any change. However, due to Quran stating that

"Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice" (60-8),

and due to Imam Ali's letter to Malik Ashtar (a sincere companion of Imam Ali, appointed by him to govern Egypt) that

"Maalik! You must create in your mind kindness, compassion and love for your subjects. Do not behave towards them as if you are a voracious and ravenous beast and as if your success lies in devouring them. Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you",

the humane rights of those who do not follow any heavenly religion must be respected.
'Right of Citizenship' is a general term, and its limits should be defined according to public customs and the constitution of which the majority are approving. However, if any person is trying to be the enemy of country's people, or cooperate with external enemies [of the nation] and their cooperation is proved in a credible court, they must be punished. And their citizenship is not a barrier to the law being enforced. And attention should be paid so as the youth do not get trapped by their malicious propaganda; and if doing business or having companionship with them works as a mean strengthening their position, it should be avoided.
God-willing you will be successful,

25-Khordad-1387 (14-June-2008)


Source: Comments to a post in Radio Zamaneh. Note that the source is not that reliable; however, since the issue is of a relatively high importance, I do expect several other sources to publish it as soon as possible.

Update: Here is a reliable reference from the official site of Ayatollah Montazeri. the first 3 fatwas are about Bahaism, including the previous one published earlier in MEY and this newest one. And there is something in between them repeating the same theme.

June 6, 2008

Religious Procession

According to some historical accounts, tomorrow is the anniversary of death/martyrdom of Fatima (holy daughter of Prophet Muhammad). According to wikipedia:

For the few months that she survived following the death of her father, Fatima found herself indirectly at the center of political disunity. Differing accounts of the events surrounding the commencement of the caliphate exist which were the cause of the Shiite and Sunni split. The majority of Muslims at the time of Muhammad's death favored Abu-Bakr as the Caliph while a portion of the population supported Fatima's husband, Ali. Fatima courageously defended Ali's, fiercely opposed the election of Abu-Bakr, and had violent disputes with him and particularly with Omar (who was finally appointed as second caliph by Abu-Bakr).

Following his election to the caliphate after a meeting in Saqifah, Abu-Bakr and Umar with a few other companions headed to Fatima's house to obtain homage from Ali and his supporters who had gathered there. Then Umar threatened to set the house on fire unless they came out and swore allegiance with Abu Bakr. There isn't consensus among the sources about what happened next.

Some Shiite historians hold that Umar called for Ali and his men to come out and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr. When they did not, Umar broke in, resulting in Fatima's ribs being broken by being pressed between the door and the wall causing her to miscarry Muhsin which led to her eventual death.

Here I’m not to judge the history, but just to report a procession commemorating the event. Such processions carry a symbolic weight and I try to explain some of the symbols included in photos. They usually include flash-backs and flash-forwards between associated historical events as well.


A flag containing some information about the group that directs the event; it reads: "Mother of the Heaven", Community of the Lovers of Imam Mahdi.


One of the groups of people who joined the procession; White, as usual, is the symbol of goodness.


Funeral of Fatima; many observers take photos or record the event, like me.


Green is the symbol of being a descendant of holy Prophet and Red is a symbol of cruelty; thus these are the soldiers who took Ali (the handicapped one with green turban) to the mosque in order to swear allegiance to Abu-Bakr.


The door of the house of Fatima; red spots are a sign of her miscarriage, and black shade is remembering of the door being burnt.


Above parts together;


Quran, mirror, well and palm; symbolizing a simple Arab house of the past.


This episode is mostly associated with Karbala incident, in which Hussein (son of Fatima) was defeated and beheaded for he failed to swear allegiance to Yazid. After the incident, Hussein's family and children were taken captives and brought to Damascus.


Reciting religious chants, along with necessary, mobile equipments;


The house of Fatima, with her behind the door;


Sons of Fatima mourning for their mother; nobody rests in the coffin.


This man is distributing water. Water always plays an important role in Shiite ceremonies, for Yazid's army decided not to provide water for Hussein's companions during the final days of Karbala incident.


A part of the scenario;


Playing instruments;