Q. 20: Nafs Zzakiyah and Al-qa'im

In Kitab-al-Irshad (the book of guidance) by Sheikh Al-Mufid on page 541 concerning the re-appearence of the 12th Imam, I quote: "A pure soul (nafs zakiyya) will be killed in the outskirts of Kufa with 70 righteous men";

again on page 545: "there is no longer than 15 nights between the appearance of the one who will rise (al-qaim) PBUH and killing of the pure soul (al-nafs al-zakiyya)." I would like to hear the significance of both these statements as well as any other information on al-nafs al-zakiyya in connection with the re- appearance of Al-Qaim (PBUH).

A: I think you are perplexed because Muhammad, a grandson of Hasan Muthanna and Fatima Kubra, was killed fighting near Medina against the forces of Mansur, the 2nd Abbasid king, and that Muhammad was called Nafs Zakiyya (pure soul) because of his piety. But it was merely a coincidence. The said prophecy does not refer to that "Nafs Zakiyyah"; and the same prophecy was being repeated even by later Imams.

Q. 21: LAYLATUL-QADR AND IMAM-E-ZAMAN

Can you please explain in detail from Qur'an & hadith, the relationship between Shab-e- Qadr & Imam Zamana (a.s.).

A: According to Sura Qadr, the Spirit and the angels descend in the Night of Destiny with all affairs, and this continues upto the dawn-break. Obviously when the Spirit and the angels come down with the final decisions about all affairs, there must be someone on this earth to receive them and their messages.

That personality who receives the decisions concerning every amr (affairs) is Sahebul-Amr (as.). Also, as we do not know which is the Night of Destiny, but have a firm belief that it is one of the Ramadhan nights, likewise we do not know who is the Sahebul-Amr (a.s.), but have a firm belief that he is one of the inhabitants of this earth.

Q. 22: HOMES OF 313 SUPPORTERS OF IMAM MAHDI (A.S.):

You must have come across the tradition narrated by Asbagh Ibn Nubatah from Hazrat 'AH (a.s.), in which the places of origin of the 313 supporters of Imam Al-Mahdi (a.s.) are mentioned - with names of some of them. It is given in the book 'Al-Mahdi (a.s.)' of Sayyid Sadruddin Sadr. Could you please comment on its authenticity?

A: I do not have the book mentioned by you. But I have seen ahadith like that in several places, all contradictory to each other. As a general rule, ahadith dealing with signs of the day of judgement and those describing the events after re-appearance of our 12th Imam (a.s.) are counted among mutashabihat; we read them and believe in them, but leave their true meaning and interpretation in the hands of Allah.

Q. 23: ARE MAHDI AND 'ISA ONE & THE SAME:

Is Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) the same as Hazrat 'tea (a.s.) who will come to kill Dajjal? A: Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.) is from the progeny of Hazrat 'Ali and Fatimah (peace be on them both) while Hazrat 'Isa (a.s.) is the son of Hazrat Maryam (a.s.). Obviously they are two different personalities. How can two different men be counted as one? For further details see my book, Muhammad (s.a.w.) Is The Last Prophet.

Q.24: WHY SUCH DETAILED MASA 'IL IN FIQH?

Islam is supposed to be a simple NATURAL religion. Why then does it have 2500 plus laws? I do understand that all the laws are not for one person. But why for each simple case there are ten laws regarding it? For example in, the case for Mayyit (according to the Masael of Agha Seestani) there are laws about the three types of ghusl to be given to a dead body. fine, this is understood.

But what follows is about Jabirah, then followed by a sequence of Tayammum for a simple change in condtions, then comes about the Kafan and its rules then burial and its rules. So, in general an aspect like death has involved about 25 pages i.e 120 plus masaels. Why?

A: When you would become as old as I am, you will find that the rules of jabirah and tayammum are extremely necessary especially in this age when various types of accidents break and disfigure the bodies.

You yourself have admitted that all the laws are not for one person. Then why object on the shari'ah's comprehensiveness? Or, do you want to say that Islam should have merely said: "Wash the dead body, wrap it in a cloth and bury it." It would not have taken more than one line!!

It will be of interest to you that nowadays a lot of European Christians are entering the fold of islam, precisely because the Islamic shari'ah contains guidance for every conceivable eventuality. What you think is a defect of Islamic shari'ah is a highly appreciated virtue in those Europeans' eyes.

Q. 25: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN 'ALIM AND A MUJTAHID:

I understand that taqleed is necessary for me. Who are out mujtahids? Meanwhile, could I take my rulings from you as an 'Alim? By the way, what is the difference between an 'alim and a mujtahid?

A: The word 'mujtahid' literally means the one who strives. In Shi'a terminology it means an 'alim who having acquired all necessary disciplines of Arabic language, Islamic history, tafsir of the Qur'an, traditions of the 14 ma'sums, and other related branches of Islamic knowledge, strives hard to derive the rules of shari'ah from its approved sources. Usually there are hundreds of mujtahids at a given time.

But we do taqleed of only that mujtahid who we believe is "most knowledgeable" of all others. In our terminology, "most knowledgeable" is the one who has got the top-most expertise in deriving the rules of shari'ah from its approved sources.

You must have now understood that every mujtahid is an 'alim but not every 'alim is a mujtahid.

Even if you bring to me any religions problem, I will write to you the ruling of Ayatullah Sayyid 'Ali as-Seestani of Najaf (Iraq), whose taqleed I am doing.

Q. 26: WHY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MUJTAHIDS?

We see great differences between the rulings of Ayatullah al-Khou'i and Ayatullah Gulpayagani on the subjects of Friday prayer and moon-sighting.

My Shi 'a belief has taught me that "Awwaluna Muhammad wa akhiruna Muhammad, wa awsatuna Muhammad, wa kulluna Muhammad" --- This legacy has been intact with all our twelve Imams. After Imam Mehdi's ghaibat, there are naib-e-Imams. And it shows that the legacy mentioned here has been cracking as each naib gives a different view on the above matters.

Furthemore, in accordance to some verses of the Qur'an, the taqlid we staunchly believe is invalid. Hence to do taqlid is hot according to Islam.

A: Here you have made the mistake of equalizing ghayr-ma'sum mujtahids to the ma'sum Imams. The tradition you have quoted is for the 14 ma'sums only.

As for Ijtihad and Taqlid, you should read the replies to questions 18 arid 19 in Your Questions Answered, vol .6 (pp. 24-30) which will dispel your misgivings. As for the differences among mujtahids' rulings, read below:;-

The institution of Ijtihad is based on the direction given by the 6th Imam (a.s.) when he said: "On us [i.e. the Prophet and the Imams] is to give you the roots, for you is to develop branches." This continued for more than a century until the minor occupation began in 260 AH. From 260 to 329. the Imam (a.s) appointed four "special deputies" one after another to serve as a link between the Imam (as.) and the believers.

Then that system was discontinued and the guidance of the ummah was left to that person among fuqaha' who protects himself (from sins), opposes his desires and obeys his mawla"; and the public was told to do his taqleed. These fuqaha (jurisprudents) were not appointed by the Imam, although as an honorific they are called, na'ib-e-lmam (deputy of Imam), but they are na'ib-e'am (general deputy) not especially appointed ones.

These fuqaha' strive hard to derive a rule of shari'ah from the approved sources. But while interpreting relevant Qur'anic verses arid tradtions, they use their own brains and think with their own minds. Hence, the difference in some rulings.

It is not unlike judiciaries all the world over. A magistrate hears a case, listens to evidence and then gives a judgement. Then an appeal is filed in a judge's court, he studies the same file, and listens to the parties' arguments and then writes his own judgement overturning the lower court's decision.

If then the case goes to the High Court, the judge gives his decision, sometimes favouring the magistrate, sometimes the judge and sometimes neither. So you see, the facts and the laws are the same but their interpretations and applications go on changing. It is but natural.

Q. 27: TAQLEED OF A LIVING MUJTAHID:

I was doing Taqleed of Ayatullah Gulpayegani, who expired 3 years ago. Am I required to change the Taqleed to one of the living mujtahids?

A: Yes. And if you want my advice, then you should do Taqleed of Ayatullah Sistani of Najaf. You may get his Arabic and English books of Fiqh from the following address:

Islamic Education Board, Darut Tabligh, Jackets Lane, Harefield, Middlesex UB9 6PZ U.K.

Q. 28: SOME INDIAN MUJTAHIDS:

Could you name a few of present or past Mujtahids from India?

A: There were scores of mujtahideen in India in the past.

  1. Ghufran-ma'ab Sayyid Dildar Ali;

2-6. his five sons: Sayyid Muhammad, Sayyid Ali, Sayyid Hasan, Sayyid Mahdi and Sayyid Husain;

  1. Baqiru 'l-'uloom Sayyid Muhammad Baqir;

  2. Najmul-'l-'ulama' Sayyid Najmu 'l-Hasan;

  3. Nasiru 'l-millat Sayyid Nasir Husain;

  4. Sayyid Sibte Nabi of Amroha;

  5. Sayyid Rabat Husain of Gopalpur;

  6. Sayyid Amjad Husain of Allahabad.

These are only a few names which come to the mind without consulting any book. There were many more. Now there is no one of that calibre.

Q. 29: WHY PARTICULAR SYSTEM OF SLAUGHTERING ANIMALS?

What is the significance of doing Halaal? Why do you have to place an animal in the direction of Quibla then say Bismillah? Why not just say Bismillah with a clean intention? A: The animals have not been created by us, they are the creatures of Allah.

It is His favour and grace on us that he has allowed us to eat their meat. Therefore, it is necessary to invoke His name at the time of slaughtering them, so that we may show our gratitude to Allah and establish our right for killing and eating them.

As for facing the direction of Qiblah. its reason is not difficult to understand. It is the same reason for which we are ordered to face towards Mecca during prayers. And that reason is the manifestation of the universal unity of the Muslims, all of whom turn towards the Ka'bah for prayers and on certain prescribed occassions.