Posted in Everything Else, Personal & Opinion

LiveJournal: It’s Been Awhile | July 20th 2017

Reading over this entry one again I’m happy to let you know that I indeed plan on posting about some of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done in the near future once I get other things out of the way. I have two dozen half-written articles just waiting for me to have the time and do something about them so hand in there, I’ll get to them eventually.


Date originally posted: July 20th 2017 (9:37 a.m.)

Mood: contemplative

Well, it’s been over a month since I’ve posted on here now. Honestly, there’s just been so much on my plate that I haven’t been into doing anything online these days except shopping when necessary. There’s just that amazing convenience with Amazon and eBay where you can get even basic necessities sent straight to your door. It’s especially great when you live in an isolated rural area and things are often inaccessible or unavailable. For me it’s been a lifeline ever since I got the internet. A whole new world opened up in ways that I never thought possible.

So much for relaxing and just hanging out this summer. So much has happened and I still need to do so much more. Hopefully next month I can take a few road trips with my friends because big changes are also looming around here. I’ve set things up to move out and change regions completely. That won’t be happening in the immediate future because I have things like breaking leases to get done and a bunch of other jargon that needs to happen first before I can just get up and go and of course there’s the issue of money. I haven’t figured out all of the costs yet, but so far so good for the budget. I only have to save up a little more and by the end of the year (provided I don’t need the money for emergencies) all should be in order. After that, I haven’t decided yet.

I’ve also finally managed to terminate some friendships gone sour. It’s never pleasant to do, but I’m glad it’s done now. First of all it’s hard for me to get close to people and once I manage that, it’s also hard to leave them even after things get sour. I don’t find it hard to be sociable or to interact with people in general, but opening up and getting close to another person is a completely different story. Writing these bogus blogs online have helped me with that though.

My communication skills have never been very good. When I was growing up I was not allowed to express my feelings and now when they come out it’s like an explosion sometimes. That’s not good and neither is keeping them bottled up inside so I’m kind of still figuring out the grey area in the middle and finding out where I stand in regards to that. I’m not gone though, just because I’m more silent than usual and my pages might not have much activity for a while, I’m still very much around. Once I come back from my road trips I would love to post a mini series about discovering the region I traveled to. I’ve been doing some digging to find stuff ahead of time too so I’m even more looking forward to this now.

I’m gonna quit here for now, until I have something better to share.

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Posted in Everything Else, Islam & Interfaith Subjects, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics, The World Wars

LiveJournal: Today | June 14th 2017

This is an old post from my LiveJournal account that I’ve recently cleaned up but didn’t want to completely get rid of everything and I’m glad that I’ve preserved my about half dozen entries or so because this is a very important one. Anti-Semitism (and racism and discrimination in general) is rampant and never seems to go away. Did you look at CNN or any other American news outlet recently? The entire country is going crazy. Up here in Canada it’s not nearly as bad, but we certainly aren’t free from the monster. In the near future I want to continue posting about this topic because I can’t just sit here and do nothing anymore, despite that I’ve never felt so powerless in my life before.


Date originally posted: June 14th 2017 (7:23 p.m.)

Mood: anxious

Not much to add today, just my roommates driving me crazy for the millionth time. The more this goes on the more I want to live alone. Of course many things need to happen in order for that to happen before I’m able to do that, but I might just get that process started. I think it would do me some good to get away from all of this. Of course there are many advantages to having a roommate or two, the biggest one being that things like rent are far less expensive. When they were all gone a few weeks ago I stayed home alone with my cat just watching TV and it got really lonely after the first week, but it was nice to just unwind after so much tension everywhere. I usually don’t go far or do much, but the two of them bring a lot of drama home and unfortunately I can’t exactly escape. We all share the same apartment.

Otherwise tomorrow it’s my birthday. At last! I was really getting hungry for my cake and other junk food today. I wasn’t sure I wanted one this year because my mind is elsewhere but I ended up deciding to invite some people over and just take the day to relax and regroup. I’m no fan of conventional birthday parties, I much prefer a relaxing day spent in good company and thinking about things than matter than going crazy. I might wanna go to the park and read the Quran or something, that is if the weather holds up for an outdoor adventure. I haven’t checked the weather forecast yet today but most of the time it’s not accurate in this region. Things change way too fast and the best way to determine the weather is to look outside the window.

I finally got back to going on WordPress and Tumblr regularly after not really being there for a while and only posting a few minor things. I changed most of my names (not username, just public name) on my social media to 42375 which is the number I picked for my tattoo, which was my grandpa’s service number during WWII. Honestly it makes me sad to see all the rampant anti-Semitism all over the place, from right here down the street to governments and institutions spreading it around across a good chunk of the Middle East. It’s truly unfortunate that many Muslims are systematically taught to hate Jews despite that the two communities have lived in peace for over a thousand years until just very recently the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Personally, I believe in a two-state solution. Each person and each nation has the right to be itself and to live in peace. Peace, isn’t that what we all want?

After all of these years there’s no way to have peace if you give the whole land to only one side. The other will rise up and cause another conflict because there has been way too much meddling from all sides including the outside for this to ever end peacefully because each person believes that the place is rightfully theirs (I won’t get into that right now) and unless there’s a compromise with each side getting something equal, tensions are only going to rise more and more. You cannot blame the entire Jewish population for what an oppressive regime is doing and you can’t blame the entire Muslim population for what a few radical Palestinians are doing either. Everything about this situation seems to have been tainted by everybody meddling in it without ever bringing about a resolution.

I hate it how Islam is often portrayed as being some anti-Semitic cult because of that ongoing conflict. We are supposed to maintain good relations with Jews (and all others for that matter), not hate them or want them gone from the face of the Earth. Plenty of Muslims perished during the Holocaust too, as well as Polish and Slavic people, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, communists and endless others despite that the number of Jews was much greater than any of the other “unwanted minorities.” We also forget the stories of the Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust, the most famous stories being the ones of the Albanian Muslims. Muslim-majority Albania was the only European country that had more Jews after the war ended than before it started.

Have we forgotten about all the imams (not to mention countless other individual Muslims) who visited Auschwitz on more than one occasion? The photo below is from a trip in 2013 and there was another one in 2010. Undoubtedly in moments of anger we’ve all wanted to figuratively send someone to Auschwitz, but emotional reactions during a conflict are completely different than the horrors that actually happend there and all the other camps like it. If I can take any lesson from this it’s that we must stop making issues and conflicts all about ourselves and instead focus on humanity, because the world needs a whole lot more of that right now.

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Muslim leaders from across the globe paid tribute Holocaust victims this week during a visit to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp, where they prayed at the Wall of Death for those who were killed by genocide and suffered under violent anti-Semitism.

The imams, who hailed from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, performed Islamic prayers while facing Mecca as part of a Holocaust awareness visit organized in part by the International Religious Freedom office of the U.S. State Department.

“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination,” Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the U.S.-based Islamic Society of North America, told Agence France-Presse.

“Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism for God’s sake, end anti-Semitism for God’s sake, end Islamophobia for God’s sake, end sexism for God’s sake… Enough is enough,” said Magid, who leads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Northern Virginia.

Posted in Everything Else, Personal & Opinion

LiveJournal: Thirteen Reasons Why | May 23rd 2017

Here’s yet another deleted LiveJournal entry. Note that this one deals with topics of suicide. If this is something you are not comfortable with please do not proceed.


Date originally posted: May 23rd 2017 (10:30 a.m.)

Mood: groggy

I’m currently sitting here watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I’ve been working on finishing this series for the last four days now. I’ll be done today if everything goes according to plan. I read the French edition of the book “Treize Raisons” around 2013 or 2014 and enjoyed it quite a bit but I must also admit that I’ve forgotten much of the smaller details of the story since then. Back then I too was a depressed and destitute teenager, in 2014 I was homeless at 18, so it comforted me considerably in my time of need. I understand that there’s some controversy surrounding it, fears of it triggering suicidal people or glorifying teenage suicide, but for me it validated my emotions. I felt like I wasn’t alone for one of the first times in my life, despite that this comfort came in the form of a story that is entirely fictional.

Unfortunately suicide isn’t just fiction to me. In 2012 there was a girl, her name was Amanda and if she were still alive today we would be the same age. But she’s forever 15, and I’m about to turn 21. I have a tattoo on my arm in memory of her but most of the time it’s just another piece of artwork that blends into the paysage of all my other tattoos on that same arm. There’s a broken heart, an original piece by another person who also took his own life. He was 17. This year he’s been dead as long as he’s been alive. Next to that there’s a yellow semi-colon, which is of course a Semicolon Project tattoo. Many of us get those tattooed after experiencing traumatic events in our lives and I’m unfortunately no stranger to those. I generally don’t want to talk about it, in fact I never want to talk about it face to face with another person and if it wasn’t for the TV series I wouldn’t be writing this either.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, maybe I’m just trying to make sense of emotions that have lingered inside for far too long and I don’t know what to do with them. Growing up I was never allowed to open up about my feelings and now as an adult I struggle a lot with dealing with emotions, regardless of whether they are new or in the past. It’s something I’m constantly working on and I hope that this page will help me in doing that or at least taking a step in the right direction. One day I hope to walk among the rest of them, just a regular civilian.

Posted in Everything Else, Personal & Opinion

LiveJournal: Quiet At Last | May 17th 2017

Here’s another one of my deleted LiveJournal entries. I’m currently making some room on that blog to host different content. Enjoy 🙂


Date originally posted: May 17th 2017 (1:18 p.m.)

Mood: accomplished

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything anywhere, but for once this time it will be something far more positive than any of my previous entries. The situation with the neighbor is far better. I’m not sure I could use the word “resolved” because my idea of resolution would be to be friends with the guy like I was with my previous neighbor but there’s no way in hell that’s gonna happen that’s for sure. Anyway, the housing board’s big boss paid us a visit in person and I don’t know what kind of dealings he had with the nightmare next door afterwards, but there hasn’t been a single sound out of that place in almost two weeks! It’s seriously weird to have such peace and quiet in this place but I’m definitely not going to complain!

The most I’ve heard was the dude puking in his car. Yup, I had the window open and I heard whatever was in his stomach come back up. Then I looked outside and saw that he was dragging a disgusting vomit-soaked towel out of his car. Later that afternoon he washed the entire vehicle both inside and outside so he must’ve made quite the mess. My grandmother said she heard him puking in the bathroom again last night. Aside from his excessive noise (which we haven’t heard of for a while thankfully) you don’t hear any noises coming from next door unless we are both in the bathroom. My grandmother was taking a sponge bath while he was vomiting his brains out next door. In the past he took one nasty cocktail or drugs and alcohol which landed himself in the hospital. I remember when the ambulance came that evening the lights were flashing all over our unit and we first thought the ambulance was picking up a different neighbor, who has passed away since then.

Otherwise yesterday my roommate and I went on an epic garbage run. The municipality is doing the annual spring cleanup event where you put large trash objects at the end of your driveway and municipal workers will pick them up for free over two weeks in mid-May. I’m telling you that the municipality doesn’t pick up much by the time the townspeople are done sorting through the trashy treasures! I really appreciate the fact that they let us pick up garbage like this because I’ve found so many good things like you would not believe!

My biggest find is a Horizon treadmill. On their website these treadmills sell for over a thousand dollars! And yep, I picked one up right there on the side of the road. It’s fully functional, it just needs a good cleaning because it rained and the person’s dirt driveway turned into mud before I picked it up. Another epic piece I found is a beautiful little white cabinet ditched along with other junk on a different street. It only has three legs, it’s missing a leg in the back but it stands up straight just fine and if you shove it in a corner you won’t even see that there’s a leg missing. Alternatively I could just put a makeshift one and paint it white. Since it’s in the back and the front legs are wide you probably won’t even see it.

I’ve collected so much more and I fully plan on calling down some other garbage collector friends when they are off of work this weekend to pick up more. It’s unbelievable how much good stuff is discarded like that. All the things I picked up are not items I would simply put in the trash like that. I collected almost $3000 worth of things on the side of the road for $0 and all of it is in excellent working condition, minus needing to be cleaned. In past years that I lived in places where they did things like this I also picked up amazing things. Half of the town collects on the side of the road like this and I simply cannot wait to do it again!

One last thing before I go, I got a tattoo appointment for the end of August to get my Holocaust tattoo that I contemplated getting last time. I’m probably going to get multiple tattoos done at once because it’s usually more cost-effective that way and I haven’t been inked in two years so it’s time. That’s all for now but I’ll be back to tap on the keyboard more later.

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: http://www.scribd.com/imamrassisociety (as well as at http://www.zaydiyyah.wordpress.com) 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.