Grand Ayatullah Sistani Condemns the Trump Administration’s Decision on Jerusalem

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Commenting on the United State’s decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of the Israeli entity, an official source from the Office of Sayyid Sistani in the Holy City of Najaf announced the following:

ان هذا القرار مدان ومستنكر، وقد اساء الى مشاعر مئات الملايين من العرب والمسلمين، ولكنه لن يغير من حقيقة ان القدس ارض محتلة يجب ان تعود الى سيادة اصحابها الفلسطينيين مهما طال الزمن ، ولا بد ان تتضافر جهود الامة وتتحد كلمتها في هذا السبيل والله ولي التوفيق.

Indeed, this decision is condemned and denounced, and it has offended the feelings of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims. However, it will not change the fact that Jerusalem (al-Quds) is an occupied land that must return to the sovereignty of its owners, no matter how much time comes to pass. The efforts of the community (ummah) must come together and its position must be united on this path. God is the guardian of success.

(Note: the Palestinians)

Link to the official statement in Arabic
https://www.sistani.org/arabic/statement/25868/

schema-default

The Lonely Grave of Zayd al-Shahid (‘a), the Grandson of al-Husayn (‘a)

20615912_10159069024520285_5353167961011992331_o

The Lonely Grave of Zayd al-Shahid (‘a), the Grandson of al-Husayn (‘a)
By: Agha Shabbir Abbas

As the month of Safar has begun, it is important to remember and reflect upon the many events that took place in this month especially pertaining to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). One particular event that took place on the first (or second) of this month was the martyrdom of Zayd (122 AH/740 CE), the son of Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn [Zayn al-’Abidin] (‘a) and brother of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a). In life, he along with his nephew Imam Ja’far al-Ṣādiq (‘a) are known as the pioneers of fiqh, having a list of countless students including the likes of Abu Hanifah. Many of the Sādāt, or descendents of Muhammad (s), claim lineage from him; of which the largest community resides in South Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India) known as Sādāt-i-Barha, who trace their ancestry to descendents of Zayd al-Shahid from Wāṣit (Iraq) who migrated eastward towards the end of the 10th Century. It is interesting to note that Zayd al-Shahid’s mother, Jaydah, was also from South Asia and was commonly known as al-Sindiyah (The Sindhi Woman).

Zayd al-Shahid, following the footsteps of his noble grandfather Imam al-Husayn (‘a), unsheathed his sword to combat the forces of tyranny and oppression, and like his grandfather he too faced a much larger enemy on the battlefield but yet stood his ground till the last drop of blood from his blessed body moistened the parched earth of Iraq. His life mirrored that of his grandfather’s in many respects, and in one such way was that the martyrdom of both was prophesied by the holy Prophet (s):

“…وقد أخبر رسول الله (صلى الله عليه ‏وآله) عن شهادته، فقد روى الإمام الحسين (ع) أن رسول الله (صلى الله ‏عليه وآله) وضع يده على ظهري وقال: يا حسين سيخرج من صلبك رجل ‏يقال له زيد يقتل شهيدا، فإذا كان يوم القيامة يتخطى هو وأصحابه رقاب ‏الناس ويدخلون الجنة…‏” (ليالي بيشاور)

“…The Prophet prophesying Zayd’s martyrdom, as narrated by Imam al-Husayn: “The Holy Prophet put his sacred hand on my back, and said: ‘O Husayn, it will not be long until a man will be born among your descendants. He will be called Zayd; he will be killed as a martyr. On the day of resurrection, he and his companions will enter heaven, setting their feet on the necks of the people…””

Hence, among the revolutionaries from the Ahl al-Bayt (s) the names of al-Husayn (‘a) and his grandson Zayd ibn ‘Ali (‘a) [and their followers] are the foremost, it is through their sacrifices that the path taken by the Islamic community was rectified. Zayd al-Shahid (‘a) saw that justice was not being implemented, that the Ummayads were again crossing all boundaries in their evil and debauchery. Like his grandfather, he too was invited by the people of Kufa; but on receiving word of rebellion, the Ummayads like those of past, imprisoned and executed the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) en masse and bribed the leaders of Kufa such that very few men came to Zayd al-Shahid’s assistance. On the outskirts of Kufa, Zayd and his party of 2-300 men fought fiercely for two days, against an army of thousands; they fought valiantly but Zayd and most of his men fell.

The surviving followers of Zayd al-Shahid secretly buried his body, and a magnificent structure exists at that location today in Iraq, however the savage Ummayads found his place of burial, exhumed his blessed body, sent the head to Damascus to the accursed Hisham ibn ‘Abd al-Malik and crucified the remains for all to see in Kufa, and later on burned his body in a fire and scattered his ashes in the Euphrates. No part of this great martyr’s body survived other than his head, and after being released to his family no one knows for certain where it is buried, but there are two locations Cairo and in al-Karak Governate in Jordan. The location in Cairo seems to not be the actual burial site, but instead a site of devotion like the maqāmāt of Sayyidah Zaynab (s), Imam al-Husayn (‘a), and other members of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) also in Cairo; built by the Fatimids so that Ziyarah can be made from a distance.

The location in Jordan may very well be the actual burial place; according to certain traditions it has been recorded that after his family members received his head in Damascus it was being brought back to Madinah, and on the way there it was buried, and al-Karak lies in between Damascus and Madinah. The writer of this post was given an opportunity to visit this purported gravesite in the Spring of this year (2017), and what was seen was quite tragic. Not only is the maqām not found on any map, practically no Jordanian knew where the gravesite was, likewise they too had little to no idea who Zayd ibn ‘Ali (‘a) was nor who his blessed father and grandfather were. Myself and my classmates, had to literally search throughout the quite large al-Karak Governate to find this maqām; and after exhausting much time and energy, in a small village called Rabbah, in an abandoned field strewn with litter, home to dogs and other animals, we found the ruins of the final resting place of the blessed head of Zayd al-Shahid (‘a).

It broke my heart then, and it breaks my heart today that this great-grandson of Muhammad (s), who gave everything he had for the religion of Islam, was rewarded in such a way by the Muslims, that not even a grave-marker is to be found where he is buried nor the small plot of land allotted to him is kept clean. Other than a handful of elders in the village of Rabbah, the entire village was ignorant to the blessed maqām in their midsts; and thus the grave is lonely to the extent that no lovers and no reciters of ṣalawat or fatiḥah are to be found.

After having visited the maqām, I have added it to Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/YYKkzPL7zLt

I sincerely urge all those who travel to the Middle East, especially to Iraq for Ziyarat of Karbala and Najaf, to please try and take a flight that makes a stop in Jordan, and then take a short one hour taxi to Rabbah in order to visit the blessed maqām and once there to perform the Ziyarat and then help pick up some of the trash, and verily our loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) demands us to do as such. It should be unbearable to the heart for the lovers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to know that the gravesite of Zayd ibn ‘Ali (‘a) is in such a state.

Lastly, all those who read this post, I urge you to contact representatives of the Jordanian government and to voice your complaints. As the Royal Family of Jordan proudly displays their Hāshimi and Sādāt ancestry, they should be held accountable otherwise their ancestral pride means little.

20507218_10159069024450285_3571584631169209662_o

Recalibrating ‘Azā

dktljxqvwaesjkw-1123651740.jpg

Recalibrating ‘Azā
By: Agha Shabbir Abbas

As we are in the days of mourning, Ayyām ‘Azā, it is important for us to reflect on the purpose of ‘Azā and to recalibrate it if necessary. The supreme sacrifice of Imam Husayn (‘a), his family, and companions, is such that the world has never seen before and it has unleashed a torrent of emotions that has flowed non-stop for over fourteen hundred years. In the midst of such a deluge, the maqsad (purpose) of the sacrifice is ever at risk of being lost, therefore it is obligatory to return to the Imam himself for guidance, to understand his motive.

When asked why he decided to leave the comforts of his home in Madinah, why he placed his entire family at risk, he answered succinctly:

“…وإنّما خَرَجْتُ لطَلب الإصلاح في أمّة جدّي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم، أُريد أن آمر بالمعروف وأنهى عن المُنكَر…”

“And I have left my home only to seek reformation in my grandfather’s nation. I desire to enjoin goodness and to forbid evil.”

The Imam explains that his only objective was to rectify the straying nation of his grandfather, the noble Messenger Muhammad (s), and to command upon righteousness combatting the forces of injustice. Therefore, as this was the core motive behind our Imam’s stand at Karbala, it too needs to be the core theme of our ‘Azā; and this is so because our Imam, nearing his final moments, exclaimed:

” هل من ناصر ينصرنا هل من معين يعيننا هل من ذاب عن حرم رسول الله صلى الله عليه واله؟”

“Is there any helper who can help us, is there any supporter to support us, is there anyone who defends the sanctity of the Messenger of Allah?”

The historians and scholars largely agree that this final plea of the Imam was not to anyone on the battlefield, for he was then all alone facing the enemy who slaughtered the likes of ‘Ali al-Akbar and Qāsim – and no humanity could the Imam expect from such savages, it was instead an eternal invitation to his lovers not present, specifically in the future generations to lift the banner of Aba’l-Fadl al-’Abbās and to continue the movement of reformation and justice.

Hence, every strike on the chest, every verse of poetry sung from the mouth, and every tear fallen on one’s cheeks must agree with the objectives of the Imam; and if it does not it must be recalibrated as such. The practices of ‘Azā now are not the same as a hundred years ago, and the practices a hundred years ago are not the same as the practices two hundred years ago, and the trend is continuous till its very advent. ‘Azā has evolved and adjusted based on time and space, language and culture, the spirit has however always remained the same; a movement of reform, garbed in the robes of sadness, nourished by the tears of the believers.

(This article was originally written for the Masjid-e-Ali Newsletter)

Hajj, a Divine Rebuke of Racism

Ḥajj, a Divine Rebuke of Racism
By Agha Shabbir Abbas

hajj_packages

Racism, or ‘asabiyyah (clanism) as it is known in the Islamic lexicon, demands that a human believes he is superior to other fellow humans based off of slight differences, particularly ethnicity, language, or nationality. Be it in the American civil rights or South African apartheid context, or the abuse of migrant laborers in the Gulf monarchies, this racism has largely served as a chief justification for grievous human suffering. Humans typically refrain from harming the other due to our inherent feelings of empathy, however, racism annihilates this empathy and replaces it with takabbur (pride), allowing humans to partake in unspeakable evils. The religion of Islam, wholeheartedly rejects this pride, for pride belongs to none other than Allah; this is reflected in the entire essence of Islam from its commandments to its rituals, and of these rituals the most glaring is the pilgrimage of Ḥajj.

During the pilgrimage of Ḥajj, Muslims from every corner of this earth, from the entire spectra of skin-tones and languages, answer the call of the Almighty and bow their heads in humility; testifying in the Tawḥīd (Oneness) of Allah. In unison, they chant the talbiyah, declaring their lowliness in comparison to the singular greatness of Allah:

Labbayka Allāhumma Labbayk. Labbayk Lā Sharīka Laka Labbayk. Inna l-Ḥamda, Wa n-Niʻmata, Laka wal Mulk, Lā Sharīka Laka Labbayk.
In Arabic: لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ، لَبَّيْكَ لاَ شَرِيْكَ لَكَ لَبَّيْكَ، إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ وَالنِّعْمَةَ لَكَ وَالْمُلْكَ لاَشَرِيْكَ لَكَ
In English: “Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners, here I am.”

When one declares “Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners,” it means that man is created to serve Allah alone, and everything other than this service is meritless; and when one declares “Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty” one negates all self-pride, extinguishing oneself in the face of the Almighty’s grandeur. The millions of pilgrims, in their chanting of this talbiyah, completing the entire list of Abrahamic rituals together, circumambulating (tawaf) the Ka’bah, running (sa’ī) between Ṣafā and Marwah, become one body subservient to the Almighty.

This spectacular scene of unity, forces even those who suffered the cruelest forms of racism to rethink their conceptions. The great American Muslim activist and Black leader, Malcolm X, radically altered his beliefs after completing the Hajj in 1965:

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white… We are truly all the same-brothers. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”

For Malcolm X, yesterday’s devils became today’s misguided brothers, this is the powerful transforming nature of Ḥajj. But for those who, even after seeing the visual unity of peoples, discard this in the claim that all of this is just an unintended consequence of the spread of Islam, are far from correct. For the messenger of Allah, Muhammad al-Mustafa (s), in his utmost love and wisdom, ascended the Mount of ‘Arafah during his last Ḥajj, and exhorted the infantile mostly Arab Muslim community that:

“O people! Indeed, your Lord is one and your father (Adam) is one. Indeed, there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a white over a black, nor a black over a white, except by taqwa.”

The Prophet (s) did not say such devoid reason, as the Qur’an declares that his speech is divine revelation (Qur’an 53:3-4), he, the beloved messenger, through the infinite insight of the Almighty saw that the mostly Arab Ḥajj of the 10th Hijri year would in 1400 years transform into a mostly non-Arab Ḥajj. Therefore, it was there and then that he delivered, during one of his last public sermons, shortly before departing the world, a divine rebuke of racism that would manifest itself in the sea of diversity that is the Ḥujjaj (pilgrims) of Ḥajj.

(This article was originally written for the Masjid-e-Ali Newsletter)

Visiting and Constructing Mazārāt : Practice of the Prophet (s) and the Companions (r)

Visiting and Constructing Mazārāt : Practice of the Prophet (s) and the Companions (r)

baqee01

In the month of Shawwal, Muslims solemnly mark the destruction of Jannat al-Baqi’ (1345 AH/1925) and other religious sites, specifically gravesites, throughout the Hijāz (region consisting of Makkah and Madinah), by the Saudi family and their para-military known then as the Ikhwan (unrelated to the Egyptian group). Jannat al-Baqi’ is the final resting place of many notable individuals pertaining to the religion of Islam, members of the Ahl al-Bayt, all the wives of the Prophet (s) (except for Khadijah), and his noble companions; prominent among them are Hasan ibn ‘Ali, Zayn al-’Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja’far al-Sadiq, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Umm Salamah, ‘A’ishah bint Abi Bakr, ‘Uthman ibn Affan, et al. It is reported that an upwards of 7,000 individuals with ties to the Prophet (s) are buried therein, and thus its destruction is considered one of the most heinous of crimes that not only angers all Muslims, but also the Almighty.

Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance to understand why said mazārāt (gravesites) and maqāmāt were destroyed, and why the Saudis are grievously mistaken. The Saudis and their supporters follow the fanatical ideology of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a militant fundamentalist whose literal approach toward the Islamic scriptures (Qur’an and Hadith) has led to great devastation, and continues to do so. Nonetheless, it is in this literalist fervor that they defend their indefensible crime by bringing forth the following hadith:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي مَرَضِهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَقُمْ مِنْهُ ‏ “‏ لَعَنَ اللَّهُ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى اتَّخَذُوا قُبُورَ أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ مَسَاجِدَ ‏”

‘A’ishah reported: The Messenger of Allah (s) said during his illness from which he never recovered: “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians for they took the graves of their prophets as mosques.” (Sahih Muslim 529)

If read without context (the folly of literalists), this hadith may seem to justify the actions of the Saudis, however, the context is always necessary. The reason for this exhortation by the Prophet (s) was to warn his community against shirk (idolatry), for shirk is the greatest of all sins in the eyes of the Almighty; and guarding against it is indeed a duty for all Muslims. But the context herein, references the Jews and Christians specifically, for they took the Prophets ‘Uzayr (‘a) and ‘Isa (‘a) as sons of God, as deities, this is mentioned in the Qur’an:

وَقَالَتِ ٱلۡيَهُودُ عُزَيۡرٌ ٱبۡنُ ٱللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ ٱلنَّصَـٰرَى ٱلۡمَسِيحُ ٱبۡنُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ

“And the Jews say ‘Uzayr is the son of God and the Christians say that the Messiah is the son of God.” (9:30)

The chief difference between the Muslims and those prior, is that at their masājid (places of worship), Muslim worship the Almighty whereas the others worship men. The Prophet (s) was exhorting his community to not worship him after his passing away, and by and far Muslims have not done so. Therefore, this argument against gravesites is irrelevant for Muslims and thus invalid.

Nonetheless, three questions are routinely asked by supporters of the destruction, they are: ‘what is the evidence for visiting gravesites and praying there,’ ‘what is the evidence for building masājid over the graves of pious persons,’ and ‘what is the evidence for placing one’s head in adoration on graves?’ (And when asking for evidence, it is meant from the Qur’an and Sunnah)

1. What is the evidence for visiting gravesites and praying there?

When asking for evidence concerning visiting graves and praying therein, one needs not to look further than al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah (The Beginning and the End) of the famed pupil of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathīr. This text is considered one of the most authoritative works on Islamic history, for Ibn Kathīr relied primarily on hadith literature, and that too which he graded as authentic. We find in this work:

عن أبي هريرة قال: كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يأتي قبور الشهداء فإذا أتى فرضة الشعب قال ” السلام عليكم بما صبرتم فنعم عقبى الدار ” ثم كان أبو بكر بعد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يفعله وكان عمر بعد أبي بكر يفعله، وكان عثمان بعد عمر يفعله
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah the Prophet (s) used to visit the graves of martyrs [of Uhud] annually. When he would reach the entrance of the mountain, He would salute them (the martyrs): “Peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!” (13:24)’ Then after the Prophet (s), Abu Bakr also used to come, and after him ‘Umar used to do the same and then ‘Uthman also did the same.”
Continuing on these lines Ibn Kathīr then mentions:

وكانت فاطمة بنت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تأتيهم فتبكي عندهم وتدعو لهم

“Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet (s), used to visit the graves of Uhud [specifically her uncle Hamzah’s] and used to weep there and pray.” (al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, volume 4)
Therefore we find here that not only is visiting the graves of pious persons from the Sunnah, but making it a ritualistic habit of annual visitation is also from the Sunnah (important for those who criticize the practice of ‘Ashurah/Arba’īn), and that the daughter of the Prophet (s) selected this place to pray and receive barakah from the Almighty.

2. What is the evidence for building masājid over the graves of pious persons?

Those in opposition may counter our first point by saying that, fine, visiting the gravesites is from the Sunnah, but where does one receive impetus to build structures over the graves? The impetus is Qur’anic, we read in Surat al-Kahf:

وَڪَذَٲلِكَ أَعۡثَرۡنَا عَلَيۡہِمۡ لِيَعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ وَعۡدَ ٱللَّهِ حَقٌّ۬ وَأَنَّ ٱلسَّاعَةَ لَا رَيۡبَ فِيهَآ إِذۡ يَتَنَـٰزَعُونَ بَيۡنَہُمۡ أَمۡرَهُمۡ‌ۖ فَقَالُواْ ٱبۡنُواْ عَلَيۡہِم بُنۡيَـٰنً۬ا‌ۖ رَّبُّهُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ بِهِمۡ‌ۚ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَمۡرِهِمۡ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيۡہِم مَّسۡجِدً۬ا

Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said “Construct a building over them”: their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said “Let us surely build a place of worship over them.” (18:21)

In exegesis of this verse, Ibn Kathīr writes in his Tafsīr:

{ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ مَّسْجِدًا } حكى ابن جرير في القائلين ذلك قولين: [أحدهما] أنهم المسلمون منهم.

“When the people of the cave went into the cave [and died], some people close to the entrance of the cave said, ‘Build a mosque so we can worship Allah.’ The people who said this were Muslims”

Therefore, we find that after the aṣḥāb al-kahf (Seven Sleepers) passed away, Muslims [of that era], not disbelievers, decided to construct a masjid over them in order to worship the Almighty. This is preserved in the Qur’an, and if it were considered a reprehensible act the Almighty would have rebuked them; but He did not and His silence implies consent. Also, the chosen progeny of the Prophet (s) and his noble companions, outrank the followers of all the prophet’s preceding, hence they too deserve the construction of masājid over their graves.

3. What is the evidence for placing one’s head in adoration on graves?

Many a times it is seen that individuals may bow their heads, placing them on graves or the ḍarīh (tombs) enclosing them, this in the view of the opposition constitutes to shirk, for they mistake adoration as prostration. Bowing one’s head in front of a beloved elder, such as grandparent is an automatic impulse, likewise hugging and kissing them, and there is no harm found in this. Nonetheless, the opposition may argue that these type of acts are perfectly fine for the living, not towards the dead. We respond that it is a practice of the rāshidūn to do as such, it is found in Imam Mālik’s Muwaṭṭāʾ:

وحدثني عن مالك أنه بلغه أن علي بن أبي طالب كان يتوسد القبور ويضطجع عليها

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib used to rest his head on graves and lie on them. [Muwaṭṭāʾ Imām Mālik, Book 16, Hadith 34]

Therefore, these acts of adoration are not only allowed but also the practice of the pious companions, specifically those whom are considered the Rāshidūn. If ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib did as such, there is no speculation on the matter and it is forever permissible.

Conclusion

In summary there is ample evidence in both the Qur’an and Sunnah to not only justify the visitation and construction of mazārāt, but to also declare that it is established firmly in the practice of the Prophet (s) and his companions, both the Ahl al-Bayt and the Rāshidūn. So, the followers of Wahhabism, and the supporters of the House of Saud need to take utmost precaution before throwing around words like shirk, for in effect they label the Prophet (s) and his companions as mushrikun (ma’ādh Allah).

Therefore, with the strongest of words we demand the ruling family in the Hijāz to rebuild Jannat al-Baqi’ in Madinat al-Munawwarah and all the other mazārāt and maqāmāt that they have demolished, and to rebuild them with the grandeur that they rightfully deserve. We also urge the Saudis to return control of the Haramayn (The Two Sanctuaries) in Makkah and Madinah to the Muslims, for they have not only proven to be incapable of maintaining this responsibility, but have acted criminally in this position.

By: Shabbir A. Abbas

Visiting and Constructing Mazārāt : Practice of the Prophet (s) and the Companions (r)

Visiting and Constructing Mazārāt : Practice of the Prophet (s) and the Companions (r)

 

baqee01

In the month of Shawwal, Muslims solemnly mark the destruction of Jannat al-Baqi’ (1345 AH/1925) and other religious sites, specifically gravesites, throughout the Hijāz (region consisting of Makkah and Madinah), by the Saudi family and their para-military known then as the Ikhwan (unrelated to the Egyptian group). Jannat al-Baqi’ is the final resting place of many notable individuals pertaining to the religion of Islam, members of the Ahl al-Bayt, all the wives of the Prophet (s) (except for Khadijah), and his noble companions; prominent among them are Hasan ibn ‘Ali, Zayn al-’Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja’far al-Sadiq, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Umm Salamah, ‘A’ishah bint Abi Bakr, ‘Uthman ibn Affan, et al. It is reported that an upwards of 7,000 individuals with ties to the Prophet (s) are buried therein, and thus its destruction is considered one of the most heinous of crimes that not only angers all Muslims, but also the Almighty.

 
Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance to understand why said mazārāt (gravesites) and maqāmāt were destroyed, and why the Saudis are grievously mistaken. The Saudis and their supporters follow the fanatical ideology of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a militant fundamentalist whose literal approach toward the Islamic scriptures (Qur’an and Hadith) has led to great devastation, and continues to do so. Nonetheless, it is in this literalist fervor that they defend their indefensible crime by bringing forth the following hadith:

 
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي مَرَضِهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَقُمْ مِنْهُ ‏ “‏ لَعَنَ اللَّهُ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى اتَّخَذُوا قُبُورَ أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ مَسَاجِدَ‏”

 
‘A’ishah reported: The Messenger of Allah (s) said during his illness from which he never recovered: “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians for they took the graves of their prophets as mosques.” (Sahih Muslim 529)

 
If read without context (the folly of literalists), this hadith may seem to justify the actions of the Saudis, however, the context is always necessary. The reason for this exhortation by the Prophet (s) was to warn his community against shirk (idolatry), for shirk is the greatest of all sins in the eyes of the Almighty; and guarding against it is indeed a duty for all Muslims. But the context herein, references the Jews and Christians specifically, for they took the Prophets ‘Uzayr (‘a) and ‘Isa (‘a) as sons of God, as deities, this is mentioned in the Qur’an:

 
وَقَالَتِ ٱلۡيَهُودُ عُزَيۡرٌ ٱبۡنُ ٱللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ ٱلنَّصَـٰرَى ٱلۡمَسِيحُ ٱبۡنُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ

 
“And the Jews say ‘Uzayr is the son of God and the Christians say that the Messiah is the son of God.” (9:30)

 
The chief difference between the Muslims and those prior, is that at their masājid (places of worship), Muslim worship the Almighty whereas the others worship men. The Prophet (s) was exhorting his community to not worship him after his passing away, and by and far Muslims have not done so. Therefore, this argument against gravesites is irrelevant for Muslims and thus invalid.

 
Nonetheless, three questions are routinely asked by supporters of the destruction, they are: ‘what is the evidence for visiting gravesites and praying there,’  ‘what is the evidence for building masājid over the graves of pious persons,’ and ‘what is the evidence for placing one’s head in adoration on graves?’ (And when asking for evidence, it is meant from the Qur’an and Sunnah)

  1. What is the evidence for visiting gravesites and praying there?

 
When asking for evidence concerning visiting graves and praying therein, one needs not to look further than al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah (The Beginning and the End) of the famed pupil of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathīr. This text is considered one of the most authoritative works on Islamic history, for Ibn Kathīr relied primarily on hadith literature, and that too which he graded as authentic. We find in this work:

 
عن أبي هريرة قال: كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يأتي قبور الشهداء فإذا أتى فرضة الشعب قال ” السلام عليكم بما صبرتم فنعم عقبى الدار ” ثم كان أبو بكر بعد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يفعله وكان عمر بعد أبي بكر يفعله، وكان عثمان بعد عمر يفعله

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah the Prophet (s) used to visit the graves of martyrs [of Uhud] annually. When he would reach the entrance of the mountain, He would salute them (the martyrs): “Peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!” (13:24)’ Then after the Prophet (s), Abu Bakr also used to come, and after him ‘Umar used to do the same and then ‘Uthman also did the same.”

Continuing on these lines Ibn Kathīr then mentions:

وكانت فاطمة بنت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تأتيهم فتبكي عندهم وتدعو لهم

 
“Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet (s), used to visit the graves of Uhud [specifically her uncle Hamzah’s] and used to weep there and pray.” (al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, volume 4)

Therefore we find here that not only is visiting the graves of pious persons from the Sunnah, but making it a ritualistic habit of annual visitation is also from the Sunnah (important for those who criticize the practice of ‘Ashurah/Arba’īn), and that the daughter of the Prophet (s) selected this place to pray and receive barakah from the Almighty.

  

  1. What is the evidence for building masājid over the graves of pious persons?

 
Those in opposition may counter our first point by saying that, fine, visiting the gravesites is from the Sunnah, but where does one receive impetus to build structures over the graves? The impetus is Qur’anic, we read in Surat al-Kahf:

 
وَڪَذَٲلِكَ أَعۡثَرۡنَا عَلَيۡہِمۡ لِيَعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ وَعۡدَ ٱللَّهِ حَقٌّ۬ وَأَنَّ ٱلسَّاعَةَ لَا رَيۡبَ فِيهَآ إِذۡ يَتَنَـٰزَعُونَ بَيۡنَہُمۡ أَمۡرَهُمۡ‌ۖ فَقَالُواْ ٱبۡنُواْ عَلَيۡہِم بُنۡيَـٰنً۬ا‌ۖ رَّبُّهُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ بِهِمۡ‌ۚ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَمۡرِهِمۡ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيۡہِم مَّسۡجِدً۬ا

 
Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said “Construct a building over them”: their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said “Let us surely build a place of worship over them.” (18:21)

 
In exegesis of this verse, Ibn Kathīr writes in his Tafsīr:

 
{ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ مَّسْجِدًا } حكى ابن جرير في القائلين ذلك قولين: [أحدهما] أنهم المسلمون منهم.

 
“When the people of the cave went into the cave [and died], some people close to the entrance of the cave said, ‘Build a mosque so we can worship Allah.’ The people who said this were Muslims”

 
Therefore, we find that after the aṣḥāb al-kahf (Seven Sleepers) passed away, Muslims [of that era], not disbelievers, decided to construct a masjid over them in order to worship the Almighty. This is preserved in the Qur’an, and if it were considered a reprehensible act the Almighty would have rebuked them; but He did not and His silence implies consent. Also, the chosen progeny of the Prophet (s) and his noble companions, outrank the followers of all the prophet’s preceding, hence they too deserve the construction of masājid over their graves.

 

  1. What is the evidence for placing one’s head in adoration on graves?

Many a times it is seen that individuals may bow their heads, placing them on graves or the ḍarīh (tombs) enclosing them, this in the view of the opposition constitutes to shirk, for they mistake adoration as prostration. Bowing one’s head in front of a beloved elder, such as grandparent is an automatic impulse, likewise hugging and kissing them, and there is no harm found in this. Nonetheless, the opposition may argue that these type of acts are perfectly fine for the living, not towards the dead. We respond that it is a practice of the rāshidūn to do as such, it is found in Imam Mālik’s Muwaṭṭāʾ:

 
وحدثني عن مالك أنه بلغه أن علي بن أبي طالب كان يتوسد القبور ويضطجع عليها

 
Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib used to rest his head on graves and lie on them. [Muwaṭṭāʾ Imām Mālik, Book 16, Hadith 34]

 
Therefore, these acts of adoration are not only allowed but also the practice of the pious companions, specifically those whom are considered the Rāshidūn. If ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib did as such, there is no speculation on the matter and it is deemed forever permissible.

 
Conclusion

In summary there is ample evidence in both the Qur’an and Sunnah to not only justify the visitation and construction of mazārāt, but to also declare that it is established firmly in the practice of the Prophet (s) and his companions, both the Ahl al-Bayt and the Rāshidūn. So, the followers of Wahhabism, and the supporters of the House of Saud need to take utmost precaution before throwing around words like shirk, for in effect they label the Prophet (s) and his companions as mushrikun (ma’ādh Allah).

 
Therefore, with the strongest of words we demand the ruling family in the Hijāz to rebuild Jannat al-Baqi’ in Madinat al-Munawwarah and all the other mazārāt and maqāmāt that they have demolished, and to rebuild them with the grandeur that they rightfully deserve. We also urge the Saudis to return control of the Haramayn (The Two Sanctuaries) in Makkah and Madinah to the Muslims, for they have not only proven to be incapable of maintaining this responsibility, but have acted criminally in this position.

 

By Shabbir A. Abbas

The Experience of Entering ‘Israel’ as a Shi’ah Muslim…

19250843_10158835709010285_3799247488580277750_o

 
As a Shi’ah who recently visited Palestine/Jerusalem, I awaited till this day, Yawm al-Quds (Quds Day) to speak about my experiences, and specifically on what changed my outlook on the entire conflict therein.

For those who have visited ‘Israel’ before can confirm, if you travel there on an American passport they cannot deny you entry but can interrogate you; and in their interrogation they ask you certain compromising questions in which if you answer improperly, they can bar your entry for upwards of 10+ years. Therefore, you have to answer their questions as truthfully as possible [as they already know everything about you and just want verbal confirmation], but at the same time not get stuck in one of their verbal traps. They [the Israelis] also utilize every trick in the book to fluster those being interrogated, for example if the individual is a young man they make sure the interrogator is an attractive but extremely stern woman, and opposite for females. Obviously when I arrived at the Allenby Border Crossing, the Israelis wouldn’t just let me pass (for those who don’t know, I’m not white), and you can guess what happens next, I happen to get selected for the said interrogation with said woman interrogator.
 
The first question she barked at me was:
‘Why are you wearing sunglasses!?’
 
They are prescribed, but before I could even open my mouth to respond she barked again (with full anger):
‘DON’T YOU DARE SPEAK TO ME WHILE WEARING SUNGLASSES!!!’

So I took them off, and I’m not gonna lie at this point I was shook, but thankfully I gathered myself for her following onslaught of questions.

And of course the very first question she asks is:
‘Are you a Shi’ah?’

Knowing that they don’t allow Shi’ah’s entry because of Iran and remembering that I need to answer truthfully, but also not truthfully I responded:
‘I consider myself just a Muslim, not a follower of a sect’

She continued to ask me this same question in different ways, and I kept responding near verbatim.

She then changed up the question a bit:
‘So you are ‘just a Muslim’ and don’t believe in sects, but aren’t your parents Shi’ah?’

I responded:
‘They are as I am’

And she continued asking similar questions, also asking about my grandparents and other relatives. She then opened my passport and started quizzing me about some of the places I visited, when she got to Iraq, her demeanor changed and her questions became entirely venomous, to the extent that I can’t express in any written way. Her questions became extremely sulfuric in nature, and I could feel the personal vitriol she had for me.

She hissed:
‘You have been to Karbala?!’
‘Why did you go there and WHAT DOES KARBALA MEAN TO YOU?!’

If my heart were given the reins I would have responded:
‘Karbala means everything to me, my wealth, my family, my blood, my soul, my entire existence, everything I’d sacrifice for it.’
 
But, obviously I did not say that, let alone answer in a straight way, I instead replied:

‘My university Rutgers, has a relationship with the University of Kufa (which it does) and I visit Iraq often in order to visit the university specifically, afterwards as a lover of history I have visited all the historical sites in Southern Iraq because it is relatively safe.’

Even though my university has a relationship with the University of Kufa, visiting it would never be a priority, so I straight up lied there, but this is the kind of lie that can’t be disproved. Nonetheless, this one question kept repeating in my ears the entire trip, the poisonous way it was asked kept paining my heart, and it singlehandedly changed my entire outlook on the conflict.  

She continued assaulting me with similar Shi’ah/Karbala related questions and I kept deflecting to the best of my abilities, after that, without having touched my phone she started asking me private questions which only someone with access to my phone and email could do so. That freaked me out, but then again these are Israelis, if they don’t know your secrets who else would know? Nonetheless, I somehow managed to pass the interrogation but was kept nearly half a day and only released half past midnight.
 
For those who know me know that I’ve always been active in anti-Israel/anti-apartheid activities especially during my undergrad years, a simple Google search could easily verify that. I’ve written articles on the issue, and even been invited on Fox News to discuss my anti-Israel views. But the Israelis had zero concern with all of that, they were instead fixed on my Shi’i background.

Honestly, after the rise of ISIS, and seeing many poor uneducated Palestinian refugees join the terror group and attack the Shi’i community, take part in suicide bombing campaigns in Zaynabiyah (Damascus) and other religiously significant places, I took a step back from my activism and stopped vocally supporting Palestinian liberation. But after witnessing first hand the Israeli hatred for Shi’ism [and the message of Karbala], whatever distance there was between myself and the righteous cause evaporated, and I am now fully convinced that Imam al-Khomeini’s edicts commanding the Shi’ah community to support the Palestinians was not only appropriate but that the Palestinian cause is one in the same as the Shi’i cause, for their [Israeli] enmity for our communities is one and the same.  

I have traveled to lands where takfiris rule, and I have also lived among takfiris but no hatred towards my creed was displayed in way of words as did on that day. If any Shi’i, after reading this still differs, they are grievously mistaken.

By: Shabbir A. Abbas