Irfan in Iran


The Status of Mysticism and Mystical Education in Contemporary Iran

irfaniranThroughout history, Iran has been one of the influential centers of mysticism and spirituality. After the arrival of Islam, Iran became a center for Islamic spirituality, also known as Sufism or ‘irfan. Many great figures such as Hallaj, BaYazid, Kharaqani, Gazaly, ‘Attar, Shams Tabrizi, and Moulavi (Rumi), are all examples of prominent Sufi figures. For over a millennium and through the generations, these spiritual teachings have been transmitted from great Sufi masters to their students. Continue reading “Irfan in Iran”

Sohrawardi and the Question of Knowledge

suhravardi 1Shihab al-Din Yahya Sohravardi, known as Shaykh al-Ishraq (the Master of Illumination), was born in Sohravard, a village close to the city of Zanjan in northwestern Persia, in the year 549/1154. After his preliminary education he went to Maragheh and studied Islamic sciences under Majd al-Din Jili. He then went to Isfahan, where he benefited from the teachings of Zahir al-Din Farisi. Sohravardi spent a major part of his life traveling, meeting many sages and Sufis from whom he acquired a high degree of knowledge and spirituality. Continue reading “Sohrawardi and the Question of Knowledge”

Mysticism and Religion

fanaie1There is a close connection between mysticism and religion. However, the nature of their relation is debatable. Is mysticism a religious phenomenon? What is the relation between them? Can mysticism be found outside of religion? Is mysticism compatible with any worldview? The answer to these questions depends on our definition of mysticism. In my view, mysticism is a religious phenomenon. The heart of mysticism is experiential knowledge of God and love of Him, and its three essential elements are belief in God, life after death and a life according to the will of God.

Continue reading “Mysticism and Religion”

Full text of Leader’s annual message on Hajj

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, delivered a message to this year’s hajj pilgrims. The following is the full text of the message:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds and peace and greetings be upon the Master of Prophets and Messengers and upon his immaculate and pure household and chosen companions.

The arrival of the hajj season should be regarded as the great Eid of the Islamic Ummah. The great opportunity which these precious days provide for Muslims throughout the world is like a miraculous elixir. If the value of such days is appreciated and if we benefit from such days in an appropriate way, many of the maladies of the world of Islam will be cured.

Hajj is the bubbling spring of divine blessings. Each and every one of you happy pilgrims has gained the opportunity to cleanse your hearts and souls with these religious practices, which are full of warmth and spirituality, and to collect many blessings for your entire life by using this source of mercy, dignity and power.

In this divine arena of self-edification you can express your humility before Allah the Merciful, carry out the responsibilities which have fallen on the shoulders of Muslims, show enthusiasm and dynamism in the affairs of the world and in your religious duties, offer mercy and forgiveness when you interact with Muslim brothers, demonstrate your courage and determination in the face of difficult events, become hopeful about divine assistance in all arenas and, finally, build your human character the way Muslims should.

When you are ornamented with these precious resources and when you have benefitted from them, then you can offer yourselves as gifts to your country, your nation and the Islamic Ummah.

More than anything else, the Islamic Ummah needs individuals who can utilize thoughts and actions as well as faith, sincerity and purity, who can show resistance in the face of the spiteful enemies as well as exercising self-purification and piety. This is the only way for the liberation of the great Muslim community from the problems which have been created, either by the enemy, or as a result ofthe lack of determination, faith and foresightamong Muslims. Muslims have suffered from these things for a very long time.

Without a doubt, the present era is an era of awakening, one in which Muslims can find their true identity. This truth can be easily discovered through the challenges which Muslims are faced with. It is exactly in such conditions that our determination- which is based on faith, reliance on God, foresight and wisdom- can help Muslim nations achieve victory against these challenges and bring about a dignified and honorable fate for Muslims.


The opposing camp which cannot tolerate Islamic Awakening and the dignity of Muslims has entered the arena with all its power and it is using all kinds of psychological, military, security, economic and propaganda tools to suppress Muslims, make them inactive and busy them with trivial things.

Taking a general look at the conditions of West Asian countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and countries surrounding the Persian Gulf, and North African countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and a number of other countries- reveals many truths.

The existence of civil wars, religious and denominational prejudices and political instabilities, the prevalence of cruel terrorism, the emergence of extreme groups and orientations- which like savage tribes in history, cut open the chests of human beings and rip their hearts out with their teeth- the emergence of armed mercenaries who kill women and children, cut off the heads of men and rape women and who do such horrible and disgusting crimes in the name of religion are all the products of the satanic and arrogant plots of foreign intelligence services and their regional agents.

Such plots are implemented in countries in which the ground is prepared before-hand and as a result, they create a disastrous situation for these nations and peoples. In such conditions, it is clear that one cannot expect Muslim nations to remedy their material and spiritual shortcomings and to achieve security, welfare, scientific progress and international dignity which are the results of achieving awakening and finding one’s true identity.

These disastrous conditions can abort the progress of Islamic Awakening, destroy the mental awareness which has been created in the world of Islam, drag Muslims- once more- towards stagnation, isolation and decline and consign to oblivion important and fundamental issues such as the liberation of Palestine and other Muslim nations from the transgressions of the USA and Zionism.

The most important cure for this situation can be summarized in two key phrases, both of which are among the clearest lessons of hajj:

First: unity and brotherhood of Muslims under the flag of monotheism.

Second: knowing the enemy and confronting his plans and methods.

Strengthening the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation is a great lesson of hajj. During hajj, even quarrelling and arguing with others is forbidden. During hajj, wearing the same clothes, following the same practices, making the same moves and behaving in a kind way,all mean equality and brotherhood for all those who believe in and rely on monotheism.

This means that Islam strongly rejects any idea and belief which views a number of Muslims and believers in Ka’bah and monotheism as people who are outside the circle of Islam. Theseorientationswhich are based on takfirism, which have become playthings in the hands of the treacherous Zionist politicians and their western supporters- commit serious crimes and shed the blood of Muslims and innocent people, and the people who claim to be religious, who call themselves clerics and who fuel the fire of fitna between Shia and Sunni and otherdenominations- should know that the hajj pilgrimage will thwart their claims.


I, like many Islamic scholars and sympathetic personalities in the Islamic Ummah, announce that any statement or action which fuels the fire of discord among Muslims, any insult to the sacred beliefs of each one of the Muslim denominations and any act of takfirism against Islamic denominations equals serving the camp of atheism and polytheism and betraying Islam. All of these things are haraam.

Knowing the enemy and its methods is the second important factor. First, we should not forget about the existence of a spiteful enemy. Performing the ritual of the stoning of the jamarat during hajj is a symbolic sign of this awareness. Second, we should not make a mistake in knowing the main enemy, who in the present time is global arrogance and the criminal Zionist network.

Third, we should properly identify the methods of this hostile enemy which is creating discord among Muslims, promoting moral and political corruption, threatening and tempting outstanding personalities, exerting economic pressures on all nations and arousing doubts about Islamic beliefs. Moreover, we should identify their agents and those who are, knowingly or ignorantly, dependent on them.

Arrogant governments, headed by the USA, conceal their true character with the help of comprehensive and advanced propaganda tools. By claiming that they support human rights and democracy, they deceive public opinion in different countries. They speak about the rights of all nations while each day Muslim nations feel- with their bodies and souls- the fire of discord more than the past.


For decades, the oppressed Palestinian nation has been receiving strikes as a result of the crimes of the Zionist regime and its supporters. In the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, terrorism – which originates from the policies of global arrogance and its agents in the region – has ruined the lives of the people.

Syria has come under the attack of arrogant powers and their regional agents because of supporting anti-Zionist orientations and it has experienced a bloody civil war. In Bahrain and Myanmar, Muslims have been ignored and their enemies are supported. Other nations are threatened by the USA and its allies with military attacks, economic sanctions and different acts of sabotage. Taking a general look at all these countries can reveal to all people throughout the world the true face of these leaders of global arrogance.

Political, cultural and religious personalities throughout the world of Islam should consider it their responsibility to draw everyone’s attention to these facts. This is the moral and religious responsibility of all of us. North African countries, which are unfortunately suffering from deep domestic conflicts today, should pay attention to this responsibility more than other countries. They should pay more attention to the issue of knowing the enemy and its plots and methods.

The continuation of these conflicts among nationalist orientations and Muslims’ negligence about the threat of domestic wars in such countries is a great danger. The loss that may be inflicted on the Islamic Ummah because of such events will not be quickly compensated for.

Of course, we have no doubts that the people who have risen against global arrogance and who have become the embodiment of Islamic Awakening in such countries will not, by Allah’s favor, allow time to go back so much so that the era of the corrupt, dependent and dictatorial rulers starts again. However, ignorance about the role of arrogant powers in creating discord and bringing about destructive interference will create a difficult situation for such countries and will cause a very long delay in achieving an era of dignity, security and welfare.

We believe, from the bottom of our hearts, in the capability of nations and in the power, faith, determination and foresight which Allah the Omniscient has offered to the masses of the people.

For more than three decades, we have seen this in the Islamic Republic with our own eyes and we have experienced it with all our hearts and souls. Our determination is an invitation forall Muslim nations, to this experience of their brothers in this dignified and indefatigable country.

I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow peace on Muslims and to foil the plots of the enemies. I ask Him to accept your hajj pilgrimage and bestow physical and spiritual health on you. I ask Him to provide you pilgrims of the House of God with an overflowing supply of spiritual blessings.

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s Mercy

Sayyid Ali Khamenei

Repentance (Tawba) – The path to salvation

‘Tawba’ or repentance is a part of the all compassing mercies of the Most Merciful Lord. It is one of the avenues of His unbounded indulgence that He has kept always open for His slaves. Had it been closed, no one would have ever attained salvation, such is human inclination towards evil.

The Kind and Wise Lord therefore ordained Tawba(repentance) to be a cure for diseases of the soul and a means of purifying indecent deeds, whereby Tawba can wash away man’s sins so that he can obtain eternal salvation.

Indeed, fortunate is one who appreciates the value of this gate of Divine Mercy, benefits from it and becomes Allah (S.w.T.)’s most beloved slave, and is thankful to Allah (S.w.T.) for His limitless bounties; and highly unfortunate is the one who remains deprived of Divine Mercy even though the paths leading to it are open to him.

On the Day of Judgement (Qiyāma) man will find excuses and say: O My Lord! I was unaware and ignorant; was chained by passions and desires and hence could not remain steadfast in the face of satanic instigations. In reply to these excuses he will be told: Did We not keep the doors of Tawba(repentance) always open for you? Were you entrusted highly difficult tasks and ordered to perform a duty beyond your power? Were the conditions of Tawba beyond your ability?

Reality of Tawba

The Holy Prophet (S) said,

“To be ashamed of one’s sins is Tawba.”

Imam Baqir (a.s.) says,

“Repenting on one’s deed is enough Tawba.” (al-Kāfi)

Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) said,

“There is no man who Allah did not forgive who had felt ashamed of his misdeed. Whenever a man feels ashamed of his fault and then begs pardon of Allah He forgives all of his sins.”

Repenting over ones sins with heartfelt remorse is Tawba. Man should understand that Allah (S.w.T.) will be displeased with him if he commits a sin and he should not forget that his Lord is able to see whatever he does. It is like a man who, despite being warned by friends, invests all of his wealth in a bargain and consequently loses everything and becomes bankrupt and then repents. It is also like a sick person who eats something that a doctor had prohibited and, as a result becomes serious. He then gets nothing but disgrace.

Perfect Repentance

It is narrated that someone said: Astaghfirullah (I seek God’s forgiveness) before Imam ‘Ali (a). He said to him. “May your mother mourn for you! Do you know what istighfar is? Verily istighfar is a degree of the ‘illiyyun (people of high station) and it is a word that means six things.

First is remorse over the past.

Second, the resolution not to return to it ever.

Third, to return to creatures their (formerly usurped) rights so that you meet God Almighty in a state of purity in which no one has any claim against you.

Fourth, that you fulfil every duty that you neglected in order to satisfy your obligation in respect to it.

Fifth, that you attend to the flesh of your body that has grown on unlawful nourishment so that it melts away as a result of grief and mourning and your skin adheres to your bones, after which new flesh grows in its place.

Sixth, that you make your body taste the pain of obedience in the same way as it earlier tasted the pleasure of sins. When you have done these things then say Astaghfirullah!

All religious scholars have agreed that Tawba is obligatory for all sins. Muhaqqiq Tusi (r.a.) writes in his Tajrīd al-Kalām and Allamah Hilli (a.r.) writes in its commentary that Tawba is the means of making up for spiritual losses suffered, and wisdom therefore dictates that Tawba is compulsory.

Allah Almighty says in Surah Nūr’s verse 31:

“And turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful.”

He also says in Surah Tahrīm (Ayat:8):

“O you who believe! Turn to Allah a (Tawba of Nasūh) sincere turning; maybe your Lord will remove from you your evil and cause you to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow.”


What is Tawba of Nasūh?

Allamah Majlisi, in Sharhe Kāfi, quotes the commentators about meaning of Tawbatan Nasūh:

1.         To repent purely and piously in the presence of the Lord. Repentance should not merely be due to a desire of Paradise and fear of Hell, it should be due to a feeling of shame and remorse for not obeying Allah’s commands. Tusi (r.a.) writes in Tajrīd al-Kalam. “It is not Tawba to worry about sins for fear of Hell.”

2.         The Tawba should be such that it may serve as a lesson even to others. A person should repent with such sincerity and such persistence that by observing his repentance other sinners may also be inclined towards Tawba. In this way he also becomes a means of guidance for others.

3.         Nasīhat (admonition) or advice is like sewing. So the clothing of religion which was torn into pieces because of sins can be stitched by the threads of Tawba. Such repentant people are also called Awliyaullah (Friends of Allah).

4.         He should give Nasīhat (admonition) to himself so thoroughly and honestly and perform such a Tawba that all soot of sins may vanish from the walls of his heart. His worship should be so intense that the radiance of Faith removes the darkness of sins totally. He must be so involved in performing good deeds that his bad deeds are fully compensated for.

A great religious scholar says: It is not enough to doTawba, which would effect only a superficial cleansing of the soul. His worship to Allah (S.w.T.) should be to such an extent and his obedience to Allah (S.w.T.) is implicit, such that his sins are totally obliterated, and his heart and soul is purified with a thorough cleansing. The more his worship the purer will be his heart. A repentant must necessarily look at his past so that each and every sin can be repented for. For instance, if he had enjoyed nonsense songs and maddening music in a dance party he should now pay more and more attention to the recitation of Qur’an, Hadith, religious discourses, sermons etc.

Merit of Tawba

1. It makes man a beloved of God

2. Evils are turned into good deeds

3. Praiseworthy Prayer of Angels

4. The repentant will go to Paradise

5. Tawba gives happiness in life

6. Prayer are accepted by Tawba

7. Tawba Brings good tidings from God

8. Any number of sins will be pardoned through Tawba

9. Breakingof Tawba does not nullify repentance

10. The Door of Tawba is open forever

(Follow the source link at the end of the article for more information on each merit)

Repentance should be Instant

Shaykh Bahai writes in Arbaīn: There is no doubt aboutTawba being compulsory because, just as poison destroys man’s body so do sins (destroy his soul). After consuming poison it becomes essential for one to go immediately for treatment to save ones life. Likewise it is compulsory for a sinner to resort to Tawba immediately after sinning so that his Dīn (religion) may not be destroyed. The sinner who delays repentance takes a very big risk. The first risk is that if he continues to remain alive he may indulge in another sin (because a sincere Tawba implies that he has made a firm resolution not to commit that sin again). The second danger is that if death takes him suddenly he will die unrepentant.

Allah (S.w.T.) says:

What! do the people of the towns then feel secure from Our punishment coming to them by night while they sleep? What! do the people of the towns feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning while they play? What! do they then feel secure from Allah’s plan? But none feels secure from Allah’s plan except the people who shall perish.

(Surah Al-A’raaf 7:97-99)

Elsewehere He says:

And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you, so that he should say: My Lord! Why didst Thy not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doors of good deeds. And Allah does not respite a soul when its appointed term has come, and Allah is Aware of what you do.

(Surah Munāfiqun 63:10-11)

In the explanation of this verse it is said that a man, at the time of his death, tells the angel of death: Please give me just one day’s respite so that I may repent for my sins and be prepared for the journey to the Hereafter. Izrāīl says: The days of your life are now over. The person says: Just give me only an hour’s respite. Comes the reply: Even the moments of your life are over. The door of Tawba is now closed for you.


Black heart

When a person sins and does not do Tawba, his heart darkens (polluted) as he commits more and more sins the dirt accumulates on his heart. It then becomes a vicious circle, the darkening of the heart leads to further sins, and the sins lead to further darkening of the heart. A stage is finally reached when his heart is irreversibly polluted and cannot be cleansed. Such a heart is referred to in narrations as a black heart.

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says,

For human hearts nothing is more harmful than a sin. When the mirror of heart becomes black because of sins the blackness covers the entire soul. Then man tumbles down from his original position and gets separated from truth.

According to another tradition he also said,

“Such a sinner will not be able to do any good.”

Such a man will not give up sins and hence the wisdom of doing good will be snatched away from him and he will not be able to perform Tawba till his last moment. If he will utterTawba from his mouth it will remain limited to his lips. His heart will not support his tongue. As it is not a true Tawba it will not prove effective.

An enlightening story: Wine changed into Vinegar

Sabzewari writes in his book Misbahul Qulūb that when the order prohibiting wine-drinking was revealed a caller was sent by the Messenger of Allah (S) who announced that henceforth no one shall consume liquor. By chance, one day the Holy Prophet (S) was passing through a bylane when a Muslim man also entered it carrying a bottle of wine in his hand. He was terrified on seeing the Holy Prophet (S) and he said ferverently to the Almighty Allah, “I repent for this and I shall never drink again. Please save me from disgrace.”

When the Messenger of Allah (S) came near he asked,“What is there in the bottle?”

“It contains Vinegar,” replied the man. The Holy Prophet (S) put forward his hand and asked the man to put a little bit on his palm. When the Prophet (S) examined it, it was indeed vinegar. The person was overwhelmed with emotions and he began to weep and say, “By Allah! It was wine!”

“But before this I had repented and begged Allah not to disgrace me,” He added.

The Messenger of Allah (S) said that it was true, “Allah changes the sins of repenters into good deeds. “They are the ones whose sins are changed into good deeds by Allah.”

Iran to send second monkey into space

329067_Monkey astronaut
Deputy Head of Iran Space Agency (ISA) Hamid Fazeli says the Islamic Republic plans to send another indigenous bio-capsule with a live monkey on board into space.

Fazeli said on Saturday that preparation for sending another monkey into space is complete and the living organism can be sent by the end of next month.

On January 28, the Islamic Republic of Iran sent a monkey into space aboard an indigenous bio-capsule, code-named Pishgam (Pioneer), as a prelude to sending humans on space missions.

The Iranian official added that the Islamic Republic plans to send other species into space during the next stages of the project.

“Iran will send the second monkey … on board a liquid-fuel carrier,” Fazeli said.

Fazeli said in September that Iran plans to launch Tadbir (Prudence), Sharifsat and Nahid satellites into orbit by the end of the current Iranian year (ending March 20, 2014).

Iran launched its first indigenous satellite, Omid (Hope), in 2009. The country also sent its first bio-capsule containing living creatures into the space in February 2010, using the indigenous Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) carrier.

In June 2011, Iran put the 15.3-kilogram Rasad (Observation) orbiter in space. Rasad’s mission was to take images of the Earth and transmit them along with telemetry information to the ground stations.

Iran also launched Navid-e Elm-o Sanat (Harbinger of Science and Industry), another indigenous satellite, into the orbit on February 3, 2012.

Iran is one of the 24 founding members of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was set up in 1959.

10 unproven pro-Syria war claims

-Kucinich-In the lead-up to the Iraq War, I researched, wrote and circulated a document to members of Congress which explored unanswered questions and refuted President Bush’s claim for a cause for war. The document detailed how there was no proof Iraq was connected to 9/11 or tied to al-Qaeda’s role in 9/11, that Iraq neither had WMDs nor was it a threat to the U.S., lacking intention and capability to attack. Unfortunately, not enough members of Congress performed due diligence before they approved the war. Here are some key questions which President Obama has yet to answer in the call for congressional approval for war against Syria. This article is a call for independent thinking and congressional oversight, which rises above partisan considerations. The questions the Obama administration needs to answer before Congress can even consider voting on Syria:

Claim #1. The administration claims a chemical weapon was used. The UN inspectors are still completing their independent evaluation. Who provided the physiological samples of sarin gas on which your evaluation is based? Were any other non-weaponized chemical agents discovered or sampled? Who from the United States was responsible for the chain of custody? Where was the laboratory analysis conducted? Were U.S. officials present during the analysis of the samples? Does your sample show military grade or lower grade sarin gas? Can you verify that your sample matches the exact composition of the alleged Syrian government composition?


Claim #2: The administration claims the opposition has not used chemical weapons. Which opposition? Are you speaking of a specific group, or all groups working in Syria to overthrow President Assad and his government? Has your administration independently and categorically dismissed the reports of rebel use of chemical weapons which have come from such disparate sources as Russia, the United Nations, and the Turkish state newspaper? Have you investigated the rumors that the Saudis may have supplied the rebels with chemicals that could be weaponized? Has the administration considered the ramifications of inadvertently supporting al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian rebels? Was any intelligence received in the last year by the U.S. government indicating that sarin gas was brought into Syria by rebel factions, with or without the help of a foreign government or intelligence agents? 64394_653

Claim #3: The administration claims chemical weapons were used because the regime’s conventional weapons were insufficient. Who is responsible for the conjecture that the reason chemical weapons were used against the Damascus suburbs is that Assad’s conventional weapons were insufficient to secure “large portions of Damascus”?

Claim #4: The administration claims to have intelligence relating to the mixing of chemical weapons by regime elements. Who saw the chemical weapons being mixed from August 18th on? Was any warning afforded to the Syria opposition and if not, why not? If, on August 21st a “regime element” was preparing for a chemical weapons attack, has an assessment been made which could definitively determine whether such preparation (using gas masks) was for purpose of defense, and not offense?

Claim #5: The administration claims intelligence that Assad’s brother ordered the attack. What is the type of and source of intelligence which alleges that Assad’s brother personally ordered the attack? Who made the determination that Assad’s brother ordered the attack, based on which intelligence, from what source?

Claim #6: The administration claims poison gas was released in a rocket attack. Who was tracking the rocket and the artillery attack which preceded the poison gas release? Did these events occur simultaneously or consecutively? Could these events, the rocket launches and the release of poison gas, have been conflated? Based upon the evidence, is it possible that a rocket attack by the Syrian government was aimed at rebels stationed among civilians and a chemical weapons attack was launched by rebels against the civilian population an hour and a half later? Is it possible that chemical weapons were released by the rebels — unintentionally? Explain the 90-minute time interval between the rocket launch and chemical weapon attacks. Has forensic evidence been gathered at the scene of the attack which would confirm the use of rockets to deliver the gas? If there was a rocket launch would you supply evidence of wounds from the rockets impact and explosion? What is the source of the government’s analysis? If the rockets were being tracked via “geospatial intelligence,” what were the geospatial coordinates of the launching sites and termination locations?

Claim #7: The administration claims 1,429 people died in the attack. Secretary Kerry claimed 1,429 deaths, including 426 children. From whom did that number first originate?

Claim #8: The administration has made repeated references to videos and photos of the attack as a basis for military action against Syria. When and where were the videos taken of the aftermath of the poison gas attack?


Claim #9: The administration claims a key intercept proves the Assad regime’s complicity in the chemical weapons attack. Will you release the original transcripts in the language in which it was recorded as well as the translations relied upon to determine the nature of the conversation allegedly intercepted? What is the source of this transcript? What was the exact time of the intercept? Was it a U.S. intercept or supplied from a non-U.S. source? Have you determined the transcripts’ authenticity? Have you considered that the transcripts could have been doctored or fake? Was the “senior official,” whose communications were intercepted, a member of Assad’s government? How was he “familiar” with the offensive? Through a surprised acknowledgement that such an attack had taken place? Or through actual coordination of said attack? Release the transcripts! Was he an intelligence asset of the U.S., or our allies? In what manner had he “confirmed” chemical weapons were used by the regime? Who made the assessment that his intercepted communications were a confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by the regime on August 21st? What is the source of information that the Syrian chemical weapons personnel were “directed to cease operations”? Is this the same source who witnessed regime officials mixing the chemicals? Does the transcript indicate whether the operations they were “directed to cease” were related to ceasing conventional or chemical attacks? Will you release the transcripts and identify sources of this claim? Do you have transcripts, eyewitness accounts or electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or other regime officials which link the CW attack directly to President Assad? Who are the intelligence officials who made the assessment — are they U.S. intelligence officials or did the initial analysis come from a non-U.S. source?

Claim #10: The administration claims that sustained shelling occurred after the chemical weapons attack in order to cover up the traces of the attack. Please release all intelligence and military assessments as to the reason for the sustained shelling, which is reported to have occurred after the chemical weapons attack. Who made the determination that was this intended to cover up a chemical weapon attack? Or was it to counterattack those who released chemicals? How does shelling make the residue of sarin gas disappear?

The American people have a right to a full release and vetting of all facts before their elected representatives are asked to make a decision of great consequence for America, Syria and the world. Congress must be provided answers prior to the vote, in open hearings, not in closed sessions where information can be manipulated in the service of war. We’ve been there before. It’s called Iraq.


Expertise and Intellectual Freedom

-As Islamic awakening continues to unfold throughout the globe, we have come to a better understanding of the direction and the final goal of it. As the leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei has stated, “This final goal cannot be anything less than creating a brilliant Islamic civilization”. Keeping this in mind allows us to examine practical steps which would let us advance towards the genuine progress. On one hand, we need to ensure that authentic experts assume the leading positions in their respective fields. On the other hand, the leadership of these experts should nurture intellectual freedom of members of the society so that it can progress and reach its potential as a whole.

When we talk about experts, there seems to be a lot of misconceptions which lead to failure in identifying the right source of advice and guidance. Just like in the field of Islamic studies, in any other area of knowledge merely having training and a certification does not make one qualify as an expert. Common misuse of the term coupled with an absurd, thoughtless cult of training credentials in the modern society has taken our attention away from those who truly deserve leading positions in their fields. Vigilance, learning and contemplation on the qualities of genuine experts is as important as the idea of following them. We know that for someone to be called an aalim and to be considered a credible source of Islamic advice, he has to posses characteristics of insight and taqwa aside of training in a recognized religious institution. Likewise, similar qualities need to be sought for from a person whose advice we chose to follow in any other field. For instance, insight and in-depth understanding cannot be born from years of passively receiving instructions and completing required and pre-assigned set of tasks. It comes from interest and passion in the subject, continuous research and sincere aspiration to gain knowledge in the field and not the worldly benefits that may accompany this knowledge or approval of the general community. In fact, this very sincerity and love of knowledge will many a time result in a non-conventional stance, because conventional views are often designed and supported to fit the agenda of corrupt leadership. Therefore a layperson seeking guidance of experts should be aware of the difference of views in every field and be ready to examine them, rather than blindly submitting to directives of any certified specialist.


It has to be also understood that modern training and certification system in many academic fields does not fit the Islamic vision. We have heard of moral corruption being a concern in Western educational institutions. However, we should also be aware that Western education system is also practically corrupt and should not be used as a template for Islamic universities and schools. The goal of Western education is to produce work force to keep moving forward the production and consumption cycle and students in such schools are being trained to qualify for a job within the corrupt system. Since Islam represents an entirely different set of values, it is time for our thinkers and experts to gather their efforts and design a relevant education system. We want to encourage thinking, discussion and intellectually vibrant environment, reward active learning beyond mandatory program, allow individuals to explore their unique abilities and talents to see what they have to suggest to the society, rather than shaping them according to a pre-set template. The first Islamic golden age was brought about by scholars whose interest and search for knowledge was not limited by a particular field or pattern, and we shouldn’t restrain the talents of our youth either.

Meanwhile, the idea of identifying and following experts and bringing up new generation suitable for guiding Islamic society towards progress does not imply abandoning one’s personal responsibility of seeking knowledge, limiting intellectual freedom of humans and diminishing the value of human thought. On the contrary, the very purpose of guidance in Islam is to help humans to uncover hidden treasures and abilities withing themselves and direct them towards the true path and towards nearness to Allah. Unlike the society of consumerism, where the goal of a human is to take his place in the production-consumption cycle and thoughtlessly do his job to keep the oppressive machine moving,

Islam, through the Holy Quran, and traditions of prophet Muhammad (Saw) and his Pure Household (as) repeatedly emphasizes the importance of thinking, contemplation, discussion, intellectual involvement and responsibility or a human in all spheres of life. Advice and knowledge of experts in not to be put in place of personal thought process, awareness and decision making. Rather, both components must take their rightful place to facilitate human development and transformation of the society.

Awaiting for our Imam (af) and preparing grounds for his return implies, among other things, that every Muslim specialist and certified graduate should aspire to become a true, independent expert who stands on the side of truth regardless of worldly implications and be able to identify and counteract all instances of historic and modern corruption in his field. It also suggests a need to design a system to bring up and educate our youth in line with Islamic values and principles of active learning and intellectual freedom. And finally it demands the increase of general awareness and thoughtful decision- making in all spheres of life.



Written by Anna Oleinik


George Galloway impassioned speech against bombing Syria

Video-George Galloway made a crucial intervention in the debate in the British parliament opposing the attack on Syria. The government, which was confident on winning the debate, lost the vote.

Members of Parliament had been recalled, at vast public expense, for the debate on Thursday.