The Spirit of Karbala

annually, on ashura, the tenth of muharram, the first month of islamic calendar, shi'ite muslims commemorate this martyrdom. beginning with the first until the tenth of muharram, majlis, memorial gatherings are held in almost every residence to recite the events which had taken place during these ten days in the desert of karbala, iraq. furthermore, on this anniversary, shi'ites from all over the world go to karbala to hold or attend these gatherings in the holy city of karbala where the actual events had happened.

in short, the catastrophe of karbala cannot be described adequately with words. it changed the islamic history, and whatever course history may take, the spirit of karbala remains as a symbol of absolute loyalty to truth. wa assalam alaykum.

The islamic will

in the name of god, the compassionate, the merciful

" will is prescribed for you when death approaches one of you. . . " the qur'an, 2:180 every soul shall taste death. the qur'an, 3:184

whoever dies without will, he would die as non muslim. the prophet (p. ) declaration of faith:

it is recommended to recite the following invocation before any will:

o, lord! the creator of heaven and earth, who knows the invisible and the visible, the compassionate, the merciful.

o, lord! i declare my faith in this world and bear witness that there is no god but you alone, without any associate.

that muhammad ( peace be upon him and his house ) is your servant and your messenger.

that the paradise is a verity, the hell is a verity, the resurrection is a verity, the questioning is a verity, the divine decree is a verity, the justice is a verity, the qur'an is the same as you have revealed, and that indeed you are the self evident truth.

may almighty reward muhammad ( peace be upon him and his house ) the best reward, and may he keep in peace muhammad and his house.

o, lord! the helper at the time of trouble, the sympathizer at the time of difficulty, the supporter at the time of comfort, my lord and the lord of my ancestors, do not leave me to my self, even for a moment.

indeed, if you leave me to myself, i will be near to evil and far from virtue. put at ease my loneliness in grave, keep for me a promise when i meet you when i am resurrected at the day of judgment.

The first muslim refugees

one of the important problems that prophet muhammad (p.) and the first muslim community had faced was opposition of powerful people in mecca. the opposition produced many difficulties. one of which was the persecution of the early muslims. this persecution led muslims to choose a new life as refugees.

in the fifth year of the prophet's call ( 615 c.e.), when his followers were persecuted by the quraish, the prophet (p.) suggested to them to go abyssinia, ethiopia, in order to protect themselves. according to ibn hisham, who mentions them all by names, 83 men took up the prophet's(p.) suggestion and left for abyssina. a number of them accompanied by their wives and children. this event is known in the islamic history as the first hijrah. the first muslim group which reached abyssinia was led by jaffer ibn abi talib (the prophet's(p.) cousin).

after they had reached abyssinia, the leaders of quraish realized that the large proportion of prophet muhammad's (p.) followers have their freedom in abyssinia, they sent some deputies to the negus, the king of abyssina, to ask for their extradition. the two delegates sent were men of outstanding capability and intelligence,

they were abdullah ibn rabia and amr ibn al 'aasi, who later became one of the most famous muslim conquerors. they were instructed on their arrival in the court to bribe the abyssinian leaders in order to persuade them to use their influence with the negus on their behalf. the delegation met with the king and accused the muslims saying, " they have forsaken our religion and not accepted yours but have introduced a new religion which they have invented. they begged negus to send them back to mecca.

the negus, however, refused to expel them until they would have an opportunity to state their case. the king summoned the muslims to the royal presence, the refugees chose jaffar ibn abi talib as their spokesman.

he commenced the difference by saying, " o king! we were a barbarous nation, worshipping idols, eating carrion, commshameful acts, killing our blood related kins, forgetting our duty towards our neighbors, the strong amongst us devouring the weak.

such was our state until god sent to us an apostle from ourselves, with lineage, integrity, trustworthiness and purity of life we were acquainted. he called us to god, to believe in his unity, to worship him and abandon the stones and idols which we and our fathers used to worship instead. he commanded us to speak the truth, to be faithful in our trusts, to observe our duties to our kinsfolk and neighbors, to refrain from forbidden things and bloodshed,

from committing immoralities and deceits, from consuming the property of orphans and from slandering virtuous women. he ordered prayers, give alms and fast. so we trusted in his word and followed the teachings he brought us from god. wherefore our countrymen turned against us and persecuted us and tried to seduce us from our faith, that we might abandon the worship of god and return to the worship of idols". when negus asked about jesus, jaffer, quoted appropriate verses from the holy qur'an to support his claim. the qur'an says,

" mention in the book about mary when she placed a screen from them then we sent to her our angel and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. she said, " i seek refuge from you to god, most gracious if you do fear god " the qur'an 19: 16,17 & 18.

finally, negus refused to hand over the refugees to the delegation of quraysh.

in short, the period during which the refugees remained in abyssinia extended from about 615 to 628 c.e.. the most logical explanation of the sequence of events which occurred during those years might be that there refugees status probably represented a threat to quraysh and meccans. rather, the fear of the growing political activities of muslims against quraysh from a safe base in abyssinia was the main course for such a delegation. after muslims had been establish themselves in abyssinia, the attempt to extradite the refugees make no sense unless that the fear of their growing political activity caused the meccan's to desire some control over the muslim refugees.

Are capsules forbidden?

it seems the question concerns the hard gelatin, which is technically referred to as the dry filled capsule (dfc). these capsule consist of two section, one slipping over the other, thus completely surrounding the formulation, filled with powdered material or globules into the longer end of the capsules and then slipping on the cap. these capsules are available in the different sizes. the reason for prohibition is based on the fact that, in our time , capsule is made of unlawful substance.

according to the pharmacists, it is made of " gelatin." " there are two types of gelatin. type a, derived mainly from pork skin by processing, and type b, obtained from bone and animal skin by alkaline processing... " (see remington's pharmaceutical sciences, p 1576, chapter 89, 16th edition (1980), mack publishing co., easton, pennsylvania. editor and chairman, arthur osol.)

on the basis of this information, one can not eat capsules unless science invents gelatin made of different substance. one can also empty the capsule and use drug only or ask the doctor for tablets instead of capsules of the prescribed drugs.

Doctrine of " Mahdi "

the doctrine of mahdi is commonly held by muslim scholars. basically there is not much difference between sunni and shia faith about this doctrine. both sects believe that there is a hadith from holy prophet muhammad (p.) that the "mahdi," who is the descendant of fatima al-zahra (a.), will appear to spread justice throughout the world. the only difference is whether he is already born or will be born. the denial of this doctrine is based on the fact that it is an unusual event.

but one thing is grossly misunderstood. one cannot deny the religious believe on this basis. there are other unusual doctrines held commonly by muslims, such as the belief that prophet jesus is alive. he was not killed nor he was crucified, and even though he has been alive all this time, we do not see him. as khadr and elyas are also alive for longer period of time than jesus. the fact about prophet noah, as the holy qur'an says, he lived for 950 years, which sounds unusual. god says: " we have sent noah to his nation. he lived amongst them one thousand minus fifty years." 29:14.

in regard to people of cave, the holy qur'an says:" they lived in their cave three hundred and nine years". the qur'an 18:25. these are some of the unusual doctrines which muslims believe because the islamic sources mention them.

the doctrine of mahdi did not appear in the qur'an but it is mentioned in the hadith of the holy prophet. all muslims basically consider the saying of god or his messenger as the second islamic source.

the reason is that the holy qur'an says:

" the messenger does not speak from himself, but the things revealed to him. the qur'an 53:3. on this basis the doctrine of mahdi is held by majority of muslims.

on this subject, many hadiths are narrated from the prophet, and many books have been written by muslim scholars. ibn hajar says," hadiths regarding mahdi are numerously reported and many eminent scholars, like abu nuaim and suyuti, have written on the subject. see al sawaiq, page 160, cairo ed. 1375 h.

The beautiful names of god

the holy qur'an says: " to god belongs the most beautiful names, so call on him

thereby," 7:180.

since god is the creator of the universe, the lord of the worlds, therefore, his attributes, and names are unique as he is.

the fact that god is not limited by anything leads us to the fact that his names and attributes are unlimited. but according to our understanding , as humans, we can use some of his attributes of god. this explains what has been narrated that prophet muhammad(p.) said, " god has four thousand names " (see bihar,v.4 p.211 ). that is to say that the human mind could not reach more than four thousand attributes of god.

there are many hadith that numbers are up to 90 attributes of god, even though they differ on the naming. but they do not reach beyond 99. it is said that since god is unique in his existence, therefore, his name should be odd number and not in even number. the most likely reason is that these 99 names or similar in meaning appeared in the holy qur'an. the comparison between these names and the text of the holy qur'an makes this point clear.

in the islamic tradition, the names are studied and memorized. imam al- rida(a.) narrates via his father from prophet muhammad(p.) that he said: " almighty god has 99 names, whomever calls upon him by them, he will answer his prayer. and whomever counts them, he will enter the paradise."

shaikh al-suduq in his commentary of the hadith says that the prophet (p.) means by counting the 99 names is to comprehend the names and understand their meaning. it does not mean simply counting them.

imam al-sadiq (a.) narrates via his father the prophet muhammad(p.) all of these 99 names. in addition, he mentions the first name ( allah ) because it is the only proper name of almighty god ( be exalted ).

the names in arabic and their meaning according to the mentioned hadith are as follows:

names: meaning:

  1. allah the only one who deserves to be worshipped.

  2. al-wahid the one

  3. al-ahad the unique

  4. al-samad the perfect

  5. al-awwal the first

  6. al-akhir the last

  7. al-sami the all hearing

  8. al-basir the all seeing

  9. al-qadir the powerful

  10. al-qahir the subduer

  11. al-'ali the high

  12. al-a'ala the victor

  13. al-baqi the one who remains

  14. al-badi the wonderful

  15. al-bari the producer

  16. al-akram the most generous

  17. al-dhahir the apparent

  18. al-batin the hidden

  19. al-hayy the alive

  20. al-hakim the wise

  21. al-alim the all knowing

  22. al-halim the patient

  23. al-hafidh the guardian

  24. al-haqq the truth

  25. al-hasib the reckoner

  26. al-hamid the praised one

  27. al-haff the kind

28 ar-rab the lord

  1. ar-rahman the merciful

  2. ar-rahim the compassionate

  3. al-dhar the increaser

  4. al-raziq the provider

  5. al-raqib the watchful

  6. al-raufq the benevolent

  7. al-ra'i the seeker

  8. al-salam the peace

  9. al-mumin the faithful

  10. al-muhaimin the protector

  11. al-aziz the mighty

  12. al-jabbar the almighty

  13. al-mutakabbir the high handed

  14. al-sayyid the master

  15. al-subbuha the glorified

  16. al-shahid the witness the truthful

  1. al-sani the builder

  2. al-tahir the clean

  3. al-adl the just

  4. al-afuw the pardoner

  5. al-ghafur the forgiver

  6. al-ghani the rich

  7. al-ghayath the aid

  8. al-fatir the broker

  9. al-fardd the single

  10. al-fattah the opener

  11. al-faliq the divider

  12. al-qadim the eternal

  13. al-malik the authority

  14. al-quddus the holy

  15. al-qawi the strong

  16. al-qarib the near

  17. al-qayyum the everlasting

  18. al-qabidh the holder

  19. al-basit the giver

  20. al-qadi al-hajjat the one who fulfills the needs

  21. al-majid the glorious

  22. al-mawla the patron

  23. al-mannan the gracious

  24. al-muhit the surrounder

  25. al-mubin the evident

  26. al-muqith the saver

  27. al-mussawir the designer

  28. al-karim the generous

  29. al-kabir the magnificient

  30. al-kafi the sufficient

  31. al-kashif al-dhur the one who removes harm

  32. al-witr the odd in number

  33. al-nur the light

  34. al-wahhab the grantor

  35. al-nasir the helper

  36. al-wasi the extent

  37. al-wadu the devoted

  38. al-hadi the guide

  39. al-waffi the one who fulfills his promise

  40. al-wakil the entrust

  41. al-warith the inheriting

  42. al-barr the charitable

  43. al-ba'ith the resurrector

  44. al-tawwab the one who accepts repentence

  45. al-jalil the significant

  46. al-jawwad the open handed

  47. al-khabir the chief

  48. al-khaliq the creator

  49. al-khayru nasirin the best helper

  50. al-dayyan the one who gives judgement

  51. al-shakur the thankful

  52. al-adhim the great

  53. al-latif the graceful

  54. al-shafi the heeler

The meaning of " ummi"

the term ummi and its derivation occur six times in the qur'an; four times as plural and twice as singular. the english translations of the holy qur'an vary.

the commentators of the qur'an hold different views on the actual meaning of the term in each verse. in order to find the basic meaning to this word as used in the qur'an, one must look at the context of each verse. briefly, i shall examine each of them.

  1. " and there are among them ummiyyun who understand the book only as they desire. the qur'an 2:78

various english translators give the meaning as "illiterate", "common folk", or "unlettered folk". the context of the verse shows that if it refers to the people of moses. their names was mentioned in the previous verse no. 67. it seems most likely that the verse therefore means:

"among the jews are ummiyyun jews who do not understand their book except what they desire to know." i.e., they do not recall the appropriate sense of the context. in other words the most likely meaning here of ummiyyun is one who does not follow the holy book.

  1. " so if they dispute with you, say, " i have submitted my self to god and so have done those who follow me. " and say to the people of the book and those who are ummiyyun, are you [ willing] to submit yourselves [to god ]. [ if they do, then,] they are rightly guided." the qur'an, 3:19.

the first pronoun ( they ) refers to ( people of the book ) which was mentioned in the previous verse, no.19. therefore, it is most likely that the term in this verse means "one who has no book" because of the contrast with the previous verse which refers to the people of the book.

  1. " among the people of the book are some who if entrusted with a heart of gold will pay it back, and others who are entrusted with a single coin will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding because they say, " there is no obligation on us [ to keep faith] with those ummiyyun. but they tell a lie against god while they know. " the qur'an, 3:74.

in this verse, the contrast between the people of the book and ummiyyun are those who have no book. thus, all of meaning mentioned in arabic lexicons are applicable.

  1. "it is he who has sent among the ummiyyun an apostle from among themselves to rehearse to them his sign to sanctify them and to instruct them in scripture and wisdom for they had been before, in manifest error." the qur'an, 62:2.

this verse obviously refers to prophet muhammad (p.) and his people. the description and responsibilities of prophet muhammad (p.) are mentioned. the people were in need of an instructor who would give them wisdom and understanding in scripture. prophet muhammad (p.) was chosen from his folk to take responsibility for teaching and instructing them in scripture. therefore, the ummiyyun in this context obviously refers to those who have no book for guidance. singular usage of the term ummi occurs twice in the following verses. in both verses it refers to prophet muhammad (p.) and describes him as an ummi prophet.

first: " my mercy extends to all things. that i shall ordain for those who do right thing, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in our signs. those who follow the apostle, the ummi prophet whom they find mentioned in their scriptures, the torah and gospel. " the qur'an, 7:157.

the relative pronouns " those who " in this verse refers to the people of the book even though their name is not mentioned here. at the end of the verse, we find that their books are the torah and the gospel.

maintaining these two books, the only popular holy book in arabia during that time, show that the word ummi is used in reference to the jews and the christians. therefore, the verse seems most likely to mean a prophet among those who have no book.

second: " say, o, mankind! i am sent to you all as an apostle of god to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. therefore, there is no god but he. it is he who gives both life and death. so believe in god and his apostle, the ummi prophet. " the qur'an, 7:158.

the context in this verse does not help to determine any specific meaning. all meanings mentioned in the arabic lexicons could apply here including the meaning of illiteracy. though most likely, it would mean the same as other verses, the one who has no book.

The commentators

the commentators of the qur'an hold various views regarding these verses, usually based on the hadith and their own personal opinions. they usually give the meaning of the term at its first occurrence the qur'an, surah 2:78.

the following are the commentators views, chronologically arranged based on the available sources :

  1. ibn abbas. people who do not believe in messengers, nor in any books


  1. ibrahim nakhai: one who does not write well.

(d. 96/718) ( tabari 2/259 )

  1. al mujahid: some people among the jews.

(d. 104/726) ( tabari 2/257 )

  1. al outadah al basri: the arabs.

(d. 117/739 ) ( tabari 6/522)

  1. al sudday: the arabs.

(d 127/749) ( tabari 6/525)

  1. ibn jareeh; some muslims during jahiliyya

(d.150/772) pre islamic period ( tabari6/525)

  1. al qummi ali: * jews. ( tafsir 1/106)

(d. 3rd/9th c. ) one who has no book

(tafsir 1/106)

  1. al maturidi: one who does not write or read from a book.

(d. 232/854)

  1. al tabari: those who do not write nor read

(d. 311/933) ( 2/257 )

  1. al tabarsi: * one who does not write well.

" majmaal bayan " (6th/12th century.)

  1. al razi: one who does not write or read well.

(d. 606/1228)

  1. al qurtubi: one who does not write or read well.

(d. 671/1293) kashani fayd:* one who does not write.

(d. 1090/1712)

  1. al qasimi: those who do write well


  1. al shubbar: * those who do not write or read.

  2. abdu muhammad: one who does not read

(d. 1283/1905)

* it refers to sh'iah tafsirs

The miracle of ummi

in islamic culture, the term ummi , in the sense of " illiterate " is one of the favorite epithets for prophet muhammad (p.). it is commonly held views of many muslims that this was a miraculous sign, an illiterate prophet coming to mankind.

muslims scholars emphasize that his status as an illiterate validates his claim to be a true prophet. that is it would be impossible for an illiterate man to bring a book like the qur'an unless he truly is a prophet.

in all likelihood, the first one who held this interpretation was al mawardi, abu al hasan ali b. muhammad al shofi (d. 450/1072). he say that the illiteracy of prophet muhammad (p.) is one of his explicit miracles and the most important one.

al-baydawi (d.685/1307) says that prophet muhammad's (p.) perfect knowledge coupled with his illiteracy was one of his miracles.

al-busyri, muhammad b. suid (d. 685/1307 ) in his poem about prophet muhammad (p) says: it is sufficient for you to have knowledge in your state of ummi miracle. ibn mandur (d.711/1337) says that this characteristics [ i.e. illiteracy] is one of the miraculous signs of prophet muhammad (p.)

during the 14th/19th century almost all muslims scholars agreed on the illiteracy of prophet muhammad (p.). shaik abdu says that the illiteracy is one of the most important signs of his prophecy since he had brought after his prophecy the most valuable knowledge, and this is the common belief among muslims today.