Posted in Everything Else, Personal & Opinion

LiveJournal: Bogus Thoughts | April 13th 2017

Since I’ve decided to clear my LiveJournal page and didn’t want to permanently delete all of the entries, I’ve decided to post them here in order to preserve them. I’ve kept them completely intact, in case somebody needs entertainment and stumbles upon them 😛

Date originally posted: April 13th 2017 (9:16 p.m.)

Mood: apathetic

I’ll say it right off the bat… I have no clue what I’m doing here. I guess maybe I’m looking for an outlet, a personal space to share my deepest inner thoughts away from my social issues rants on WordPress and my obsession with 20th century history on Tumblr, among other things. I’ve become rather disillusioned with writing pen to paper because these endless journals only seem to pile up and gather dust under my bed or somewhere else in my room. At least here I’ll be able to discover something new and interesting every day, and maybe somebody will even think the same about my own profile. Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m doing here.

I also wanna practice writing because I aspire to publish a book someday. I’ve already decided to go ahead with CreateSpace as I’ve heard nothing but positive comments from some of my author friends who have published with them. I also have two great ideas for two separate novels. Really, I only need to get a move on with it. Staying motivated to expand my creativity is probably the hardest part because I’ve been struggling with my emotions and when this happens I would just rather bury them deep inside of me. I know, I know that’s not good, but it’s exceptionally hard for me to do it any other way.

I also hesitate to open up to others because most of the time all they do is invalidate my emotions and do me more harm than good. Growing up I was never allowed to express myself. I was not allowed to cry, to complain or even to ask for help. I know that has contributed a lot to how I am today with not being able (or wanting) to open up to other people. I also hope that coming here will help me with that down the line. I know I’ll need to get out of my asocial comfort zone if I’m going to be an author. I suppose that this is the first step. I suppose that the most I can do is see where this goes.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Zaidism and Hadith Authenticity

This is another interesting post written by Zaida from a Zaidi perspective on the much disputed Hadith books. My opinion on them is well-known and is quite similar to this one but not quite identical. I’ll take the Quran over the Hadith any day and crap like stoning to me is not Islamic at all because it’s contrary to the one infallible source, despite being in the Hadith books across the board.

Followers of the Zaydi / Zaidi math-hab are at a distinct advantage when it comes to the study of ahadith (prophetic narrations) and the study of the authenticity of ahadith. This is because, unlike the Sunnis, the Zaidis do not require taqleed (blind acceptance) of ahadith, and unlike 12 imamers, Zaidis do not believe in the infallibility of some of the ahadith narrators.

With these two restrictions lifted from them, Zaidi scholars are in a position to review ahadith critically and logically, taking into account the historical / political context of the hadith’s appearance, its conformity with Qur’anic principals, and applying reason/logic in an effort to ascertain the hadith’s authenticity.

Why do Sunnis and 12 Imamers uncritically accept their ahadith collections?

The sunnis have idolized two of their ahadith collectors, namely Bukhari and Muslim, to such an extent that they do not acknowledge that either of them could have made a mistake when selecting the ahadith that went into their collections. They have labeled their collections as “Sahih al Bukhari” and “Sahih Muslim”, and if anyone challenges any ahadith from these two collections, they are considered non-sunnis. This is despite the fact that these two scholars, who are not from ahlul bait or even from Qr’aish, never claimed infallibility.

The 12 Imamers have idolized their 12 Imams to such an extent that any narrations supposedly originating from them go unchallenged as well. They have an advantage over the sunnis in that their narrations come from ahlul bait, however, their insistence that their Imams are infallible makes serious scientific study, with a critical approach, very difficult.

Contrast this with the Zaidi position as articulated by Imam Rassi Society:

“A hallmark feature of the Zaydi school is that all of our hadith literature are subject to scrutiny; even ahadiths from our imams! We don’t have any book called “Saheeh this” or “Saheeh that”. The Qur’an and logic are used to judge the ahadith.”

As discussed in an earlier post, the Zaidis and 12 Imamers agree that “Allah ta`ala does not abrogate His speech by (anything) other than His speech” i.e. the Qur’an can not be abrogated by the Sunna (the ahadith). However, the sunnis, also known in history as “ahlul hadeeth” have a tendency to give ahadith precedence over the Qur’an where there is a contradiction.

As well as using the Qur’an and logic to judge the validity of a hadith, another way of evaluating ahadith, which was refined by the mu’tazili scholars, is to identify and promote those ahadith which are “mutawatir’, i.e. found in the books of all Islamic math-habs including sunni, Zaidi and 12 imamer, in other words:

“Those (ahadith) that have come down to later generations through a large number of chains of narration, involving diverse transmitters such that it is virtually impossible that all these people, living in different localities and espousing (at times radically) different views, would come together, fabricate the exact same lie and attribute it to the Prophet of Islam or any other authority. A large number of narrators is not a sufficient criterion for authenticating a report because people belonging to some sect or party may have an interest in fabricating reports that promote their agendas. The power of this mode of transmission, tawatur, rests on both the number and diversity of narrators at each stage of transmission.” (quoted from Wikipedia summary of Mu’tazili doctrine).

This is a very scientific and logical way to identify the accurate ahadith, and it surprises me that nobody has yet published a book of these “mutawatir ahadith” for hadith skeptics like myself to reflect upon.

We have seen that Zaidism and Mu’tazilism are intricately interwoven, therefore I think it is fair to say that Zaidi scholars, like Mu’tazili ones, would have given preference to ahadith which are mutawatir, when quoting from narrators other than Imam Zaid bin Ali. (further research on this point is on its way). Zaidi scholars also have a tendency to re-interpret ahadith from other schools so that they conform with narrations on the same topic from the Imam Zaid.

Imam Rassi Society has provided an example of this tendency in these words:

“Another thing about our imams is that they made themselves familiar with the narrations of other schools, taking all of the narrations on a topic and seeing if one can interpret the others to conform (with the Zaidi view). For example, in the issue regarding whether touching one’s private parts violates ritual purity, our (Zaidi) imams take the position that it doesn’t. As for those (non- Zaidi) narrations that seemingly contradict that view, they interpret those reports that say: ((Whoever touches one’s private parts should make ablution)) to mean: “Whoever touches one’s private parts should wash their hands”. This is because the literal meaning of wudu is to wash one’s limbs.”

For all of these reasons, the Zaidi math-hab is clearly the superior math-hab of the three, when it comes to the scientific and logical study of the ahadith. Having said that, Zaidis must be on their guard not to uncritically accept ahadith from their own school, in the event that any of them seem not to conform to the guiding principles of hadith validity mentioned above (i.e. being in accordance with the Qur’an, being logical, and, wherever possible, being mutawatir.)

An example of a possible inconsistency within Zaidism: (?) Debate welcome…

I personally find it surprising that all three schools (Zaidi, sunni and 12 imamer) have accepted the ahadith prescribing the punishment of stoning for married adulterers, which contradicts with the Qur’anic ayat prescribing flogging (i.e. a much more lenient penalty). Here we have an example of a hadith which is mutawatir (agreed upon by all schools of thought) yet in contradiction with the Qur’an. I personally would go with the Qur’an on this one; even though I identify myself as a Zaidi, and it is a mutawatir hadith. On this particular issue I am taking the position of the “Ahlul Qu’ran”, (a group of scholars who have rejected al ahadith because their respect for the Qur’an), because I am not yet convinced by the following justifications for the “unQur’anic” hadith, given by the three math-habs:

A Zaidi justification (from AwsMekka):

“In the written history about leaders (imams) in Yemen (and in Gilan and Dailman) I didn’t read that any did stoning …but there are ahadith that imam Ali(as) lashed the married adulterer while saying “I lash according to Quraan” and then stoned him saying “I stone according to the sunna”. Imam Hadi (founder of Zaidism in Yemen) only did stoning when the adulterer confessed and chose to be stoned, i.e. to restore their honour.”

A 12 Imamer justification (from MacIsaac):

“The usual explanation is that it is abrogated in recitation while not abrogated in ruling. Regardless, yes we do have hadiths indicating that the punishment for the muhsan (married, and whose spouse is sexually available to them) adulterer is to be stoned. However, our fiqh is compatible with what the Quran says in that the adulterer is also lashed a 100 times, like the ayat says. The stoning is an additional punishment on top of that.”

A Sunni justification (a hadith from Sahih al Bukhari, kitab ul hudood):

“The Prophet S.A.W said; “For unmarried persons, one hundred lashes and one year’s exile, for married adulterers, 100 lashes and stoning.”

With all the freedom to evaluate and re-consider its hadith literature, the Zaidi math-hab is the only math-hab that has the potential to develop and flourish into the future, weeding out any inconsistencies; with objective research and open minded scholarship, the true ahadith can be uncovered from the false. Zaidi scholars are in the perfect position to carry out this task. Sunni and 12 Imamer scholars are not. I believe the Zaidi math-hab will be the only math-hab left standing when truly objective and scientific research into all of the ahadith has been thoroughly completed.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Legitimacy of Violence: A Zaidi Perspective

This was originally written by Zaida on her blog on October 11th, 2010. A quick note relating to my previous post where I quote her writings, I also agree that “Sunnah” is not equal to Islam, which is where I drift away from Zaidism unlike her who still considers herself a Zaidiyya despite her difference of opinion. I have my own opinions about the points made in this post of hers, but this is not the time or the place to discuss my own views. The rest of my blog is dedicated to that anyway.

Many people are turning away from religion because they perceive that it is to blame for much of the violence in the world. They see that Jews, Muslims and Christians are fighting and killing each other, and think that their religions legitimize that violence. As “World Peace” has become the dream and goal of many thinking individuals, monotheistic religions are seen as part of the problem, while peacemakers like the Dalai Lama are getting all the positive publicity.

While it is true that most wars are started for political reasons, with religion often used by governments to get legitimacy for what they wanted to do anyway, it must also be admitted that Islam is a religion which legitimizes violence in some forms. However, it is my belief that Islam does not have to continue to be associated with violence in the modern world. Islam needs a rethink and an image-change.

For me, “Islam” is what we find in the Qur’an, and its interpretation by the mujtahids of our day, who take into account the circumstances of today, rather than ignoring the fact that the world has changed since its revelation.

Does the Qur’an legitimize certain forms of violence?

The Qur’an, taken literally, legitimizes violent punishments for certain crimes/ wrongdoings, namely:

  • Hand amputation for thieves
  • Whipping for adulterers
  • Capital punishment for murderers
  • Hitting wives who are guilty of lewdness.

The Qur’an also legitimizes fighting in self defense, when people are driven out of their homes by force, and/or overrun by tyrants. The type of fighting referred to is presumably hand to hand combat between males on a battle field away from civilians, not aerial bombardment, nuclear weaponry, hidden explosives, landmines, and guided missiles, which give their victims (who are often civilians) no chance to defend themselves, and are therefore (in my opinion) unacceptable.

As these weapons had not been invented at the time the Qur’an was revealed, it is incorrect to say that Islam legitimizes their use in any circumstances. We now rely upon ijtihad to ascertain whether such weapons can be used by Muslims, in retaliation for the suffering caused by non-Muslims against them. I would hope that Muslim mujtahids are not going to legitimize these cruel weapons in any circumstances.

Does the Sunna legitimize certain forms of violence?

Other violent punishments carried out in the name of Islam, including the stoning of adulterers and capital punishment for apostates, are not backed up by Qur’anic verses, and therefore open to debate. They will not be considered part of “Islam” for the purpose of this article. Even if they were carried out during the Prophet’s lifetime (making them “sunna”), I do not believe that “sunna” equates to “Islam.” I acknowledge that most Zaidis would disagree with me on this point.

I think that, in the past, people of various religious backgrounds thought violence was a legitimate way to sort out problems because their states were carrying out violent acts in the name of justice. As long as people are taught to think that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems, and achieve justice, they will continue to use violence in their personal lives. The non-violent solutions need to start at the top and they will filter down. With today’s science and technology, there are ways to punish people that do not incur violence, such as prison terms, fines, removal of privileges, hard labour, re-education and deportation. The need for state imposed violence is no longer there.

Can the Qur’an be interpreted in a non-violent way?

The Qur’an tells us that some verses can be interpreted figuratively and does not specify which ones, thereby giving a green light to liberal interpretations of any verse. For example, the verse saying “cut off the hand of the thief” could be interpreted to mean “disable the hand of the thief” (e.g. by imprisonment ), the verse saying “whip the adulterer” could be interpreted to mean “humiliate the adulterer” (e.g. by publicizing his/her wrong-doing and banning him/her from future employment and public posts), and the verse saying “hit” the lewd wife could be interpreted as “make her aware of her unacceptable behaviour.”

When the Qur’an says “an eye for an eye” etc, the main point here is, Muslims should not use more violence than what was used against them if they are acting in self defence or punishing a murderer, and the other point here is that violence should not go unpunished. “A life for a life” could therefore be interpreted either as “a life sentence for a life” or “non- violent capital punishment for a murderer” (e.g. lethal injection).

Instead of re-interpreting the texts and coming up with a version of “Islamic Law” that is appropriate in this century, some Muslim leaders have adopted Western legal systems, leaving the old “Sharia” untouched. It sits there, looking relatively inhumane, frightening off potential converts and alienating most of the Muslim youth.

These issues were recently discussed at a conference in the UK entitled “Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought”, organized by non- Muslim academics, and attended by one of our contributors. It is a topic that inspired a lot of academic discussion, so I thought I’d raise it here and see what sort of response it gets among our readers. Can mu’tazilism re-emerge and reshape Islam? Can Zaidi mujtahids play a part in making Islam more acceptable to non Muslims and Muslim youth? Can Muslims lead the way to a more peaceful world?

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Zaydism and Sunna

As a part of my series about Zaidism, here’s another post written by Zaida on her defunct blog about Zaidiyya Islam on November 7th, 2010. As mentioned in some previous posts, my current faith has been heavily influence by Zaidism but this is where the Zaidiyya movement and I differ. I’m not a big fan on the “Sunnah,” regardless of how you interpret them, as I’ve also written about previously, but nonetheless this is an interesting Zaidi perspective on this.

What is “Sunna”?

Sunna is defined as “habitual practice, customary procedure or action” and “Sunna annabee” is defined as “The Prophet’s sayings and doings, later established as legally binding precedents (in addition to the Law established by the Qur’an),” definition from Wehr Cowan dictionary.

Almost as soon as the prophet passed away, disagreements arose between the prophet’s household (ahlul bait) and his companions/in-laws about things he had said, e.g. whether or not his family would inherit from him; Fatimah claiming she was entitled to an inheritance and Abu Bakr claiming the Prophet had said otherwise.

Given that there were disagreements between ahlul bait and companions (sahaaba) about what the Prophet said and did, it follows that there are different versions of what “Sunna anNabee” is. So when a Zaidi or 12 Imamer talks about “The Qur’an and the Sunna” this does not mean the same thing as when a Sunni or Salafi talks about “The Qur’an and Sunna”.

Moreover, there were disagreements later on between the “ahlul hadith” (people who loved to quote hadith) and the “mutakallimoon” (Muslim theologians) about what the Prophet had said and done. The mutakallimoon claimed that traditions (hadith) had been fabricated by the following groups to support their positions: Murji-ites, Qadarites, Jabrites, Rafidites, ascetics, fuqahaa, and anthropomorphists. They wrote a letter to Ibn Qutayba expressing their concern that “The traditionists (ahlul hadith) relate follies which cause people to disparage Islam, the unbelievers to laugh at the faith, those who wish to embrace Islam to abstain from it, and which increase the doubts of the skeptics”.

Given the historical context of the ahadith, the term “Sunna” can not be used to mean anything that is written in a hadith book. Zaidi Imams have attempted to preserve the true “sunna”, as described by the ahlul bait, for future generations.

Imam Rassi Society says:

“The Zaidi Imams consider the normative practice of the ahlul bait to be the sunna. For example, even though there are hadiths circulating which say one should say the word “Ameen” during prayer, this was not the opinion of the ahlul bait, and according to them it is an innovation. The preserved practice of the Imams of ahlul bait is considered the most authentic source of the sunna, even in the presence of contradictory ahadith.

The Zaidi attitude is similar to the attitude of Imam Malik, who considered the normative practice of the people of Medina to be the Sunna, even in the presence of contradictory ahadith. For example, he thought that the Sunna was to pray with one’s arms by one’s sides, even though there were ahadith quoted in his “Al Muwatta” saying to place the right hand over the left. His opinion was based on his observations of the people of Medinah.

In other words, the Sunnah is not something that can be written down. It is acted out and lived. Hadith, on the other hand, is what was recorded.”

What is the Zaidi version of “Sunna”?

Zaidis are fortunate to have in their possession the Musnad Zaid, the Amali of Abu Talib, the Amali of Imam Murshid billah, and Kitab ul ahkam of Imam al Hadi, which are sources of the “Sunna annabee” as transmitted by the Prophet’s great great grandson Zaid and other descendants.

Being passed from father to son, these are a more accurate and authentic source than that of the Prophet’s companions and their descendants.

Note: The works of Imam Rassi, now translated to English at the scribd website: (as well as at refer frequently to non- Ahlul bait (sunni) hadith transmitters as well as the ahlul bait Imams.

In this regard, Imam Rassi Society stresses that this does not mean they are considered to be authentic. He adds: “We refer to Sunni ahadith for the sake of our Sunni readers (they are, after all, in the majority). They do not, however, form the basis of Zaidi jurisprudence.”

In other words, this is done to be diplomatic to the Sunnis, not because Zaidis are in need of non-Zaidi ahadith.

Does the Qur’an tell us to Practise the “Sunna”?

There isn’t a verse that specifically mentions following the prophet’s “Sunna”.

The following verses speak in general of the Prophet’s role:

“Whatever the Messenger brought to you, take hold of it, and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it.” (59:7)

“And We have sent to you the message, that you may clarify what is sent to them” (16:44)

These verses mean that it was the Prophet’s role to clarify the message of the Qur’an, and that it was his right to forbid things which are not mentioned in the Qur’an.

However, they do not say that Muslims should copy every aspect of the Prophet’s lifestyle for generations to come, which is what Sunnism encourages. As its name suggests, Sunnism places a huge importance on “Sunna”, with some Sunnis placing it on a level equal with the Qur’an.

Do Zaidis Place as much Importance on “Sunna” as Sunnis do?

In Imam Rassi Society’s view, Zaidis and Sunnis are in agreement as to the importance of the Sunnah. They disagree on some points about what the Sunna actually was, and also share some common ground. He says:

“The Sunnis did not and do not have a monopoly on what the Sunna is. Each group recorded the various statements and actions of the Prophet… inmost cases there is similarity but occasionally there are differences.”

Imam Rassi Society agrees with the Sunni view that, based on the above Qur’anic verses, Muslims should strive to imitate the Prophet in all aspects. He says:

“If the Prophet’s role was to elucidate the Qur’an, then those matters mentioned in the Qur’an (which range from worship to everyday dealings to character development) must be referred back to the normative practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.). Even in those matters which we may feel irrelevant to our lives, our love for the Prophet should encourage us to strive towards mimicking his life in all aspects.”

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Zaydism and Taqiyah

Originally written by Zaida on her now inactive blog about Zaidism on December 5th, 2010. All opinions are respectively her own.

What is “Taqiyah”?

Taqiyah is defined as “fear, caution, dissimulation of one’s religion (under duress or in the threat of damage)” (Hans Wehr dictionary). The word is often used by 12 Imamer Shi-ites to refer to the practice of hiding the fact that they are 12er in order to be safe, or to lead a normal way of life, in a non 12er environment.

The reasons 12er Shi-ites find it necessary to do this include:

  • They are usually in the minority (with the exception of 12ers living in Iran and some parts of Iraq), and therefore tend to be the targets of bullying and discrimination. With the spread of Saudi Wahhabism, today’s Sunnis often label the 12ers as unbelievers, and anti-12er violent attacks seem to be on the rise.
  • The 12er version of Islam, with its far-fetched claims, and provocative version of history, has whipped up the Sunnis into an anti-Shi-ite frenzy.

Taqiyah for new Zaidis?

The question facing Zaidis living in non-Zaidi societies is, do we also need to hide the fact that we are Zaidi Shi-ites from Sunnis, and/or from 12er Shi-ites?

Personally, I think the answer to this question is no, for the following reasons:

  • The Zaidi version of Islam is not, and never has been, an extreme position, and we need to calmly explain this to Sunnis and 12ers rather than hide from them.
  • Zaidis have never officially allied themselves with either group and can not therefore be accused of really being allied to one side or the other.
  • Zaidis are not linked by the Western media to any suicide bombings or other terrorist acts, so they are unlikely to receive a hostile reception in non Muslim environments.

It is, of course, a matter for personal judgement, how, when, where, whether to make one’s Zaidism public.

It could be argued that a Sunni or 12er who has become a Zaidi stands to lose their spouse, and/or the goodwill of their parents, children, employers, work colleagues, and Muslim friends, and that taqiyah should be employed to avoid these types of relationship breakdowns.

I would disagree with that view because these are not life and death matters, and the precedents for hiding your religious beliefs (in Muslim literature) seem to be linked with the threat of immediate execution, not relationship breakdowns or loss of employment.

I decided to avoid confrontation by relocating before switching to Zaidism. Moving to a place where nobody knew me (and there are hardly any Muslims) made the change-over very easy and non confrontational.

It’s ridiculous that non Muslims accept you as a Zaidi more easily than Sunnis and 12 Imamers. It just goes to show how intolerant Muslims have become of each other in recent decades. May Allah guide us all to the Straight Path.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Muhammad Badr: A Noble Defender of Zaidism

This is another post written by Zaida on her now inactive blog about Zaidism that I am sharing as part of a series about the Zaidiyya movement. All opinions and references are her own.

Muhammad al-Badr Hamidaddin was born in 1926 as oldest son of Ahmad bin Yahya, imam of the Zaydis.

Muhammad Badr and his relatives spent almost a decade defending the 1,000 year Zaidi Imamate from a band of republicans in collusion with Egypt’s Gamal Abdu Nasr.
Abdu Nasr had looked to a regime change in Yemen since 1957 and finally put his desires into practice in January 1962 by giving the “Free Yemen Movement” office space, financial support, and radio air time.

On 19 September 1962 Imam Ahmad died, Muhammad al-Badr was proclaimed Imam, but a week later rebels shelled his residence in Sana’a and set up a republic. Abdullah as-Sallal, whom al-Badr had appointed commander of the royal guard, led the coup, and declared himself president of the Yemen Arab Republic.

Badr is quoted as saying: “Now I’m getting my reward for befriending Nasser. We were brothers, but when I refused to become his stooge, he used Sallal against me.”

Al-Badr had, like most young Arab leaders of his generation, been a great admirer of Abdu Nasr and had even arranged during his father’s absence for Egyptian experts to come and help modernize the Yemen. His father had incorporated Yemen into the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria, which then became the United Arab States. It is thus ironic that the coup was largely instigated and planned by Egyptians and that without a massive Egyptian presence in the Yemen for five years afterwards, the “Yemen Arab Republic” would never have survived.

Although the republicans had announced to the world that al-Badr had died beneath the rubble of his home, he had in fact managed to escape unhurt and set out to the north. As he proceeded on his journey, the loyal Zaydi tribes rallied round him pledging him their allegiance as Amir al-Mumineen (“Prince of the Faithful”), as loyalty to an imam from the Ahl al-Bayt (the descendants of the Prophet) is an important part of the Zaydi belief system. . Badr was joined by his childhood pen pal, American Zaidi convert Bruce Conde, who set up the post office and would later rise to the rank of general in the Royalist forces.

Al Badr lived alongside his supporters, sharing with them every deprivation and hardship. Al-Badr was a man of great courtesy, kindness and personal charm. He loved dearly the Yemeni people and was essentially a man of peace. He said he would never allow a terrible civil war to rage once again in his country.

The hill tribes were Zaidi while the Yemenis of the coast and the south were Sunni, as were most Egyptians. Sallal was a mountain Shia but he was fighting alongside the lowland Sunnis and Egyptians in order to retain his Presidency.

Mohamed was a diplomat; his policy was to keep officers as prisoners for exchange, and to allow soldiers to go in return for their arms. He promised amnesty to all non-royalists once the Egyptians were withdrawn. He also promised a new form of government: “a constitutionally democratic system” ruled by a “national assembly elected by the people of Yemen” if his side was victorious.

In February, 1967, Nasser vowed to “stay in Yemen 20 years if necessary”, while Prince Hussein bin Ahmed said “We are prepared to fight for 50 years to keep Nasser out, just as we did the Ottoman Turks.”

As well as aerial bombardent, Egypt resorted to gas attacks. The gas attacks stopped for three weeks after the Six-Day War of June, which was lost because Egypt had sent too many troops to Yemen, but resumed on July, against all parts of royalist Yemen.

Casualty estimates vary, and an assumption, considered conservative, is that the mustard and phosgene-filled aerial bombs caused approximately 1,500 fatalities and 1,500 injuries.

In later peace negotiations involving Egypt, Badr said: “It is essential that the conflict which has devastated our beloved country be brought to an end by peaceful negotiations between the Yemeni people themselves.” In another reconciliation attempt, Badr promised to send his troops to fight with Egypt against Israel, should Nasser live up to a truce brokered by the Saudis. However, Sallal kept frustrating the peace efforts. One of Sallal’s deputies resigned, saying “It is obvious that Sallal and his cronies are more interested in war than peace”.

In 1970, despite the fact that territorially most of the Yemen remained under the control of al-Badr and the Hamid al-Din family, Saudi Arabia, which had been the principal opponent of the Sana’a regime, recognized the Yemen Arab Republic and other nations like the United Kingdom swiftly followed suit.

Stunned by Saudi Arabia’s recognition of the republican regime which had been negotiated without any consultation with him whatsoever, al-Badr went to England, where he lived quietly in a modest house in Kent, only going abroad to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He died in 1996 in London.

Historians call the Yemeni Civil War “Egypt’s Vietnam” because of its disastrous consequences, which include the loss of most of Palestine in the 6 day war, the senseless loss of life, the negative impact on Egypt’s economy, and the postponement of Yemen’s development as a modern nation.

For Zaidis, the War signaled the end of the 1,000 year Zaidi Imamate of Yemen. Today’s Zaidis propose that Muhammad Badr’s dream of a “a constitutionally democratic system” ruled by a “national assembly elected by the people of Yemen” will one day be realized, instead of the corrupt presidency currently led by Abdullah Saleh, which has continued to wage war on the Zaidi tribes of North Yemen, and encourages the Saud-backed Wahhabists to attack the Zaidis in their own region.

Sources: Wikipedia pages on Muhammad Badr and North Yemen Civil War.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Ashura: A Zaidi Perspective

Continuing in my series about the little-known Zaidiyya movement, the following article was again written by Zaida and posted on her blog on December 15th, 2010.

Imam Rassi Society writes:

Although we are busy with new family responsibilities, we saw fit to write at least something regarding the occasion of the Martyrdom of Imam al-Hussein bin Ali (as) from a Zaydi perspective. As we know, the imam was killed on the plains of Karbala on the 10th of Muharram. This occasion is known as Ashura.

Technically, there is no problem commemorating the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussein (as) and his family and companions. This is consdiered praiseworthy when practice under the umbrella of the Shari’ah.

Among the things that it is praiseworthy to do on Ashura is fast.

——Imam al-Mutawakkil ala Allah, Ahmed bin Suleiman (as) said in his Kitāb Usūl al-Ahkām:

It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he used to fast on ‘Ashura.

It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he said: (There are no days that has as much reward as the month of Ramadan and ‘Ashura.) There are two reports that mention the recommendation of fasting on ‘Ashura, which is the tenth of al-Muharram. Some of the Imamis discourage fasting because al-Hussein bin Ali (as) was killed on ‘Ashura. That is not reliable (‘itimād) because fasting does not prevent grief. Also, breakfast is closer to the pleasure of fasting. He was killed after the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, and it is not permissible to change something after a Shari`ah law has been established. It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, that he fasted on ‘Ashura and encouraged others to fast. It was said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is esteemed by the Jews and Christians.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, replied: (Then, next time, we fast on the ninth day.)

Elsewhere in the book, there are other narrations that state that Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, commanded those who ate on ‘Ashura to make it up.

—Imam Nātiq Bil Haqq, Abu Talib Yahya bin al-Hussein al-Hārūni (as) said in his Kitāb at-Tahrīr :

It is recommended to fast during times where there is no difficulty or detriment to the body. One is to break the fast [i.e. not fast] on the days of the 2 Eids and the Days of Tashrīq. It is recommended to fast during the months of al-Muharram, Rajab, and Sha’ban. It is also praiseworthy to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. It is recommended to fast on ‘Ashura, which is the tenth of al-Muharram. It is also recommended to fast on the day of ‘Arafat for those in other cities. [It is also praiseworthy to fast] on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of every month.

—Imam al-Qasim bin Ibrahim ar-Rassi (as) said in his Kitab al-Wāfid:

“The fasts of great reward include: Rajab, Sha’ban, the White Days, ‘Ashura, the day of ‘Arafat, Mondays, and Thursdays.”

—Imam al-Hadi ila al-Haqq, Yahya bin al-Hussein (as) says in Kitāb al-Ahkām :

There’s no problem fasting on ‘Ashura. It is a good thing to do so. It is narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, encouraged fasting on that day as something special. It is recommended to fast during times where there is no difficulty or detriment to the body. This is because Allah, the Exalted, does not desire hardship in acts of worship and desires ease for them. Allah says: {Allah desires ease for you and not difficulty} (Q. 2:185). If one is strong, they can fast this fast.

It is not permitted to fast during the days of al-Fitr and al-Ažha, as well as the Days of Tashrīq. This is because the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, forbade fasting on these days. He also said that eating and drinking are to be done during these days, and one is to break the fast. One is not to fast on these days.
I relate on the authority of my father on the authority of his father who was asked about fasting on ‘Ashura, which day is it, and fasting on ‘Arafat: He replied: “Fasting on that day is a beautiful act and there is a lot of reward in doing so. There’s no harm in refraining from it. It is also a lot of reward in fasting on the day of ‘Arafat. It is expiation for that year. Concerning ‘Ashura, it is on the 10th. There is no disagreement concerning that.

Among the blameworthy things to do is wail and strike oneself out of grief.

—Imam al-Mutawakkil ala Allah, Ahmed bin Suleiman (as) says in his Kitāb Usūl al-Ahkām:

It is narrated on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny: (Two evil sounds are cursed in this world and the hereafter: the sound of lamenting from one in mourning who rip their pockets, scratch their faces, and laments the lamentations of Satan; as well as the sound of one who celebrates a blessing with mindless entertainment (lahw) and the flutes of Satan).

It is narrated on the authority of Zayd bin ‘Ali—his ancestors—‘Ali, upon them be peace:

“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, said: (The one who shaves, lashes, rips, and calls out of woe and grief, is not one of us). Zayd bin ‘Ali said: “‘Shaves’ refers to shaving one’s hair. ‘Lashes’ refers to cries of the wailers. ‘Rips’ refers to ripping one’s pockets.

Our comments: The proof of lashing out severely is in the statement of Allah, the Exalted: {But when fear departs, they lash at you with their sharp tongues} (Q. 33:19).

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Ali, upon him be peace, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, prohibited wailing.

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin ‘Awf who said: I took the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, by the hand and we went with to his son, Ibrāhīm, may Allah bless him, who passed away. He buried him and then cried. I then said: “O Messenger of Allah, do you cry after prohibiting it?” He replied: (I did not prohibit crying. However, I did prohibit two types of evil sounds: the sound of one who celebrates a blessing with mindless entertainment and the flutes of Satan; as well as the sound of lamenting by slapping one’s cheeks (laŧm) and ripping one’s pockets. This [i.e. crying] is a mercy. The one who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy).

Therefore crying for Imam al-Husswen (as) and his family is permissible, but wailing isn’t.

And Allah knows best!

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

Zaidi Perspective on the Arab Pro-Democracy Movements

As a part of my series on Zaidism, I’m hoping to revive interest in the movement and I’m compiling other blog posts found on the internet. This one is from a different blog than the previous one. I’m not a Zaidi myself per se, I consider myself a Universalist, but my current beliefs heavily come out of Zaidism, hence I thought I ought to share. The following was written by Zaida on March 21st, 2011.

Regarding the wave of anti-dictator protests in the Arab/Muslim countries of Tunis, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, the world’s 10 million Zaidis must be asking themselves what kind of leadership do these protesting Sunnis, 12er Shi-ites, Copts and atheists want once their corrupt dictators are banished? There doesn’t seem to be a plan or a vision for what comes next…just some vague idea about freedom and democracy. The trouble is, the West is all too aware of this and is already taking advantage of the situation with their oil-inspired invasion of Libya (under the guise of “helping” the Libyans shake off their nasty dictator.) You can bet the West is already making plans how they can use the wave of protests to their economic/strategic advantage, all the while pretending they want to “help” the long suffering Arabs.

It’s time for Arabs to consider their alternatives carefully and wisely, and the best form of leadership available to the Arab Muslim world right now is Zaidi leadership. We Zaidis say that leaders of the Muslim world should be descended from the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), they should compete for leadership roles according to stringent criteria as laid down in Zaidi political theory, and there is no reason why Zaidi leadership can’t be combined with a democratic system of representation for the masses.

Why Zaidi leadership? Sunni leaders will always oppress 12er Shi-ites, (e.g. like Saudi Arabia does), and 12er Shi-ite leaders will always oppress Sunnis (e.g. like Iran does). Either way there will be oppression, disunity, rivalry, possibly civil war. Worse still, even a war between the Sunni oil monarchs and their 12er Shi-ite rival Iran is on the cards. The West loves this division; it weakens the Muslim umma and makes it easy to dominate them. The only hope for a unified, peaceful, strong Middle East/North Africa/Asia is to restore the Prophet’s family to its rightful place, inspiring and unifying the Muslim masses. Until the world’s Muslims sort out their differences on the Sunni/Shia issue, which has divided them for centuries, and come to the compromise position, I don’t hold out much hope for peace and stability in the region. What is the compromise position? Zaidism.

Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects

A Quick Introduction To Zaidism

As a liberal Muslim heavily influenced by the Shia side of the schism, I thought it would be worthy to include some information about a branch within Shia Islam called Zaidism. There isn’t much info about them out there and all their blogs seem to have become inactive and many are hard to find. Throughout these next few weeks I’m going to post up a couple of things I’ve found about these folks in hope of reviving the movement a little bit. This post is a repost from one found a blog called Zaydiya on Blogspot.

So is it some strange cult in Islam? Do they believe in a completely different Quran? Are they even considered Muslim?

Much mystery shrouds Zaidiya, and in some ways its understandable since it is one of the smallest schools of thoughts in the present Muslim world, with followers in Yemen, the Indian Subcontinent and some areas of North Africa. There may only be a few million of Zaidis, but at one point in time in early Islamic history it was one of the predominate schools with Zaidi states established in at several geographies (including Morroco Idrissid, Yemen, Iran, Hijaz). There is a ocean of Zaidi scholarship, most still in the form of manuscripts, across all sciences of Islam including fiqh (jurisprudence), theology, philosophy, spirituality, Quranic Tafsir (exegesis), hadith compilations (one of the first hadith collections was the Musnad of Imam Zaid). So far from being an obscure blip in Islamic history, Zaidiya scholars, followers and leaders have had a major impact on the history and thought of the Muslim world.

We should mention that there are many with the last name is Zaidi who generally are descendents of Imam Zaid Bin Ali Zain Al Abideen. It’s interesting to note that most of them in this day and age actually Jaafari (12ver shia).

Are Zaidis Muslim?

We will go into more detail in to the madhab/mazhab (school of thought), but at this point we thought it might be helpful to provide a very quick overview of what Zaidiya believe, especially in relation to Sunni and Jaafari (12vr Shia, the predominate Shia school of thought).

Let us being by stating clearly that Zaidiya are Muslim and share the same core beliefs that all Muslims profess. They believe in:

  • Absolute Oneness of Allah (God)
  • Allah sent Messengers and Prophets to humanity to guide them
  • Some Messengers were given scripture (Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad)
  • Allah created humans, angels and jinn
  • After death, humanity will be resurrected for a final day of judgment which Allah will preside over
  • Heaven and hell are realities in the next life
  • The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last and final messenger, with no exceptions and no human reaches his noble rank
  • The Quran has been preserved since the Prophet’s time, and nothing has been added, deleted or changed in it since the Prophets time.

Of course more can be added, but the point is that Zaidiya are Muslims, in what makes a person a Muslim there are no differences. The shahada (testimony of faith) is the same.

Why the Name?

Zaidis get their name from Imam Zaid bin Ali Zayn Al Abideen bin Imam Hussain Al-Shaheed bin Ameer al Mumineen Imam Ali bin Abu Talib. Imam Zaid (80 AH – 122 AH) was a luminary scholar, and contemporaries such as Abu Hanifa (r) studied under him. We will get into more details of his life, and death, at another time. Suffice to say that Zaidis view Imam Zaid as one of the Imams of his time, but he was not the last, nor the first, nor was he infallible. He was a righteous scholar, and a mujahid who died fighting the oppressive khalifa of his time. Much can be learned from this inspiring figure and we look forward to doing so.

Zaidiya vs. Sunni

Zaidiya are considered shia, which is a loaded term with many meanings for different people, each with a unique definition. For this brief post, we’ll limit the definition to mean “those that confirm the importance of following the Ahl Bayt” (household of the Prophet, defined by Zaidis to be Muhammad, Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, Hussain and their righteous descendants). We will spend more time discussing why, and the historical context of this in forthcoming posts. Here are some reasons that Zaidiya are considered Shia, and then we will discuss what makes them unique among Shias.

  • The sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to be followed, and after the Quran is the major source that informs legal rulings and theological understanding. Though this is not a difference, it is worth mentioning since many people assume Shia’s do not follow the sunnah.
  • The early Ahl Bayt, based upon many hadiths that occur even in Sunni sources, are also an important source of knowledge and wisdom. Of course some Sunnis also affirm this, though the reality is that the Ahl Bayt takes a much less prominent role among most Sunnis.
  • The Zaidiya believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) did choose Imam Ali to be his successor. There is much interesting historical context around this issue which we hope to address.
  • The Zaidiya do not believe everyone who saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a companion. There are varying definitions of what a companion is, and among most Sunnis, the belief is that anyone who saw him is considered a companion. Zaidiya believe anyone who saw the Prophet, followed him and died believing and following him is given the high rank of a companion of the best of creation. This is important for the next point
  • The Zaidiya do not believe all companions were infallible. No doubt they were the first generation of Muslims and all Muslims are indebted to them for their sacrifice and establishment of the Muslim community, however they are not infallible and did make mistakes, and in some cases major errors. This differs with Sunnis, since when you combine this belief and (iii), by definition, anyone who saw the Prophet is a companion, and all companions were infallible, or at least above any scrutiny and reproach. This issue becomes very critical when looking at Islamic History.
  • Zaidiya believe Muslims can revolt against an unjust ruler, even if he is Muslim. Most Sunnis do not accept this, in fact it is written in the Aqidah Tahawiya as being not allowed. However it should be noted that some Hanafis in particular are closer with the Zaidi position on this (and as we will see, Imam Abu Hanifa in particular was very close to Imam Zaid). Again this is extremely important when looking at the historical context of how these different approaches to Islam developed.
  • There are aqidah (belief) differences as well, which we will get into in future posts.

Zaidiya vs. Other Shia

So Zaidiya are Shia, but how do they differ from other Shia? For our purposes here, we will limit it to Itha ‘Ashariya, also known as 12vr or Jaafari madhab. Both believe Imam Ali (a) was the rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the importance of following the Ahl Bayt, but they also have some major differences.

  • Zaidiya and Jaafaria diverge in their concept of Imam, or Immamate:
    • Infallibility: For Zaidiya, an Imam is not infallible, but is basically the same figure as the Sunni Khalifa. The Imam should be a righteous, knowledgeable, wise leader of the Muslims, but he is not infallible, and in fact the Imam could end up being replaced if they are unjust. Jaafari on the other hand consider all the Imams as infallible.
    • Number: The Jaafari limit the number of Imams to 12. For Zaidiya there is no limit, again the concept is basically the same as a Sunni Khalifa. In fact Zaidiya believe there can be two Imams in different geographies at the same time in history (and this did indeed happen).
    • Lineage: All of the Jaafari Imams after Hussain came from Imam Hussain (a) descendants. Zaidiya believe the Imam/Khalifa can be descendant of either Hasan or Hussain. It should be noted here that it has historically been ‘Ijma among Sunnis that the Khalifa must be a descendant of the Quraish (read ahkam sultani for this reference).
    • Mahdi: Jaafari believe the 12th and final Imam, Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, at the age of five went into occultation and is the promised Mahdi to return towards the end of time. While Zaidiya believe in Imam Mahdi (as do Sunnis), they do not belive the 12th Imam is the Mahdi.
  • Fiqh:
    • Muta: Temporary marriage, Jaafari consider this halal while Zaidis do not
    • Matem: This is the self flagellation during Ashura commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a), one of the most tragic events of human history. Zaidis do believe in the importance of teaching people the realities of what happened that day, and keeping Imam Hussain’s (a) legacy alive, however they do not consider it allowed to beat ones self to do so.
    • Cursing Sahaba: Zaydis do not consider all sahaba’s as deviant, nor do they curse them, this includes Abu Bakr and Umar. Though they do consider Imam Ali (a) as the rightful first khalif/imam. How do they square this? Well, there is diff of opinion, but basically even the Nahj Al Balagha Imam Ali states that it was a mistake they made, but did not put them out of Islam (of course even Umar admitted in a sahih narration that the way Abu Bakr was elected was a ‘falta’, a disaster, and if someone gets elected like that again they should be killed).

These are just some very high level understanding of the Zaidiya madhab. As we move forward we will introduce more details on this and look forward to any feedback you may have. If you love the Ahl Bayt, and believe they should be followed, you will find much in the Zaidiya that you find compelling. If you do not even understand why the Ahl Bayt needs to be followed, we will be covering the reason why. God Willing.

(July 13th, 2012)