Etiket arşivi: Karbala

Islam 14

ALEVI-ISM believes in the trinity of Allah-Mohammed-Ali but Alevis are not in any way connected to orthodox, legalistic Shi’ites such as exist in present-day Iran. As centuries passed, the Ali movement gave birth in different regions to many procedures using the name of Ali, nourished from sources of different concepts and beliefs. The word Alevi signifies a person who is devoted to and a follower of Ali-Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law.

This belief has spread to Central Asia, Yemen, Iran, Syria and Anatolia, the peoples, who, after initially resisting the Islamic faith, were in the end forced to accept it and chose to follow the way of Ali rather than the Omayyads. This is what happened: while the Fatimis, (followers of Mohammed’s daughter) in Egypt, the Ishma’ilis (a part of Shi’ite Muslims) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Shi’ite sect in Iran were taking shape, in Turkistan adherents of Ahmet Yesevi emerged as followers of Ali and Ahl-e Beyt (members of the Prophet’s family). Hodja Ahmet Yesevi was the teacher of the teacher of Hadji Bektash Veli, the holy man of the Alevi-Bektashi order. In other words, this was the Central Asianisation of Islam, and, bonding with the ancient religion and culture of the Turks, its Turkification and, because of the subsequent enforced migration of the Turks through Horasan to Anatolia, their Anatolianisation. Thus, it can be regarded as the main source of the Alevi and Bektashi orders, which can be said to be in opposition to Arabian culture.

Alevisim is the culture and faith of the Alevi order and in English is sometimes referred to as Alawi, Alawite or Alouite. Anatolian Alevism is based on an oral tradition rather than a literary one, and is an Islamic folk religion whose ancient beliefs survive in the guise of Muslim theology. Groups resembling this exist in the neighbouring countries of Iraq, Iran and Syria. Nusayris are Arabic-speaking groups whose beliefs and practices are similar to those of the Turkish-speaking Alevis.

In Anatolian Alevism, Allah is not regarded as a wrathful Being who enjoys compelling obedience to strict rules from His created slaves, on pain of suffering eternal punishment in Hell. Moreover, nearly all Alevis reject the idea that Allah will reward with eternal pleasures in Heaven those who obey His rules on earth. Rather they maintain that Allah judges mankind according to the way a person has treated his fellows. “Do not come to Me if you have violated the rights of others”, said one of their famous poets. The concept that Allah controls and determines everything and is the source of both good and evil is not a prime tenet in the Alevi creed. Alevis hold that Allah is love, and that a loving Allah can not be the source of evil.

They often claim Man as the highest created being, and very few Alevis believe in angels. The four principal books of Holy Scriptures, they say, are basically the same, and some affirm that the Old Testament prophet Elijah is Ali. Anatolian Alevis favour reading the Koran in the Turkish language in preference to Arabic, since exact understanding of what is read is of vital importance to a believer. On the whole, they consider a live human wisdom and revelation to be more important than what is written in the ancient scriptures, which many Alevis regard as irrelevant today. One of their favourite aphorisms is “The greatest holy book to read is a human being”. Supplementary, and second in authority only to the Koran, are the Hadith; the Nahjul Balagha, traditions and sayings of Ali; also the Buyruks, which are collections of the teachings and practices of some of the Twelve Imams, Ja’far in particular; the Vilayetnames or Menakibnames, books which recount events in the lives of holy men, for instance, Hadji Bektash; all these are scriptural authority for the Alevi faith and practices.

In general, Alevis believe in the prophets who are mentioned in the Koran, and some hold that they were the human representatives of God. The stories in the Bible of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, His working of miracles and His resurrection, are not part of Alevi beliefs. Some Alevis use the name Mohammed Ali, instead of Mohammed and Ali, as they regard the two as equal, while some add to the testimony of faith, known as the Shahada, “Ali is the Viceroy of God and the Trustee of Mohammed”.

The Alevis maintain that it is more important to be a humane human being than a religious one. Very few Alevis carry out the practice of five daily ritual prayers, or attend services in a mosque. They prefer to hold

This dance of worship, featuring revolutions and sweeping rotation of the dancers, has many variatons. Accompanied by a lute and performed by men and women together, the Semah is an inseparable part of any Djem. It is the symbol of casting off the Self and forming a unity with Allah.

their own joint assemblies, known as Djem, for group worship. They do not fast during the month of Ramadan, but for twelve days they fast in mourning for the Muharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar. During this period of mourning, men do not shave, intimate relations between husband and wife are suspended, and there are no amusements, no singing or playing of musical instruments, no smoking and no looking into mirrors. The twelfth day is a day of joy because on that day news arrived of the survival of Imam Zeynu’l-Abidin, Huseyn’s son, through whom Ali’s progeny would continue. A dish called Ashura is prepared and on the twelfth day the fast is broken when this is eaten.

 

They also hold a three-day fast for Hizir in February. Hizir is the being who comes to the rescue of those in distress on land, just as Ilyas (Elijah) rescues those in peril on the sea. Many believe that Hizir and Ilyas meet at a rose tree every year at sunrise on 6th May. Therefore, on that day, petitions expressing wishes or requests are hung on rose trees. Hizir lies at the very foundation of the beliefs of Nusayris.

Alevis do not take part in pilgrimages to Mecca, but instead prefer to pray when they visit the tombs of Alevi-Bektashi saints. The corporate worship performed in Assembly Houses (Djemevis), which do not have minarets, is not announced by the Muslim call to prayer (adhan). Before the weekly service begins, “Dede”, a senior member of the order and the head of the community, performs his duty as a judge, and reconciles any conflicts between members of the assembly. The congregation, made up of both men and women sitting together in a circle on the floor, have removed their shoes before entering but do not need to wear special garments, nor are women required to cover their heads. They bathe or shower prior to attending, but do not perform ritual ablution before the service, which consists of prayers and a short sermon from Dede. Then soloists sing songs, and a ceremonial dance, known as samah, is performed in a circle,

while Dede or another musician, plays an accompaniment on a seven-stringed lute. From time to time they bow their heads to the floor in unison. The whole service, including prayers and songs, is conducted in the Turkish language. The themes of the songs, prayers and sermon are love of Allah, love of others, the teachings of Mohammed and Ali and the Twelve Imams and Hadji Bektash, with special reference to Karbala. In conclusion, the congregation partake of a meal together, which usually includes a ritually-slaughtered ram. These Djemevis are more than places of worship; they are also community centres used for many different assembly purposes, but in all, portraits of Ali are prominently displayed.

 

Islam 11

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine.  Built in the Qajar period (1779-1921), this shrine has several paintings depicting scenes of Karbala, Imam Huseyn and Ali Akbar.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Built in the Qajar period (1779-1921), this shrine has several paintings depicting scenes of Karbala, Imam Huseyn and Ali Akbar.

There are differing views as to when the schism between Sunnism and Shi’ism, the two major sects, took place. The main differences between them can be summarized as follows:

  • Shi’ites maintain that the Koran is a created thing, while for Sunnis the Koran is the Word of Allah.
Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. The death of Imam Huseyn.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. The death of Imam Huseyn.

  • According to Sunni Muslims, on Judgement Day Allah will appear to His Muslim believers. According to Shi’ites, Allah will not appear on the Day of Judgement.
  • Shi’ite theologists have the right to interpret religious law, and also are responsible for the faithful. Decisions reached by high-ranking Shi’ite theologists are binding. In contrast to this, Sunni Muslims believe in a more personal relationship between Allah and mankind, and feel less need for such religious intermediaries. Sunni religious teachers are content simply to offer advice to their community. While the hierarchy amongst Shi’ite theologists is similar to that pertaining in the Catholic Church, Sunni theologists have been compared to Protestant priests. Financial support for religious personnel in Sunni nations is provided by the State, but by the public in Shi’ite communities.
Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Imam Ali and his two sons.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Imam Ali and his two sons.

  • For Sunnis the rank of the Imam is equivalent to that of the Caliph. However, for the Shi’ites belief in the Imams is a fundamental tenet of their faith. They hold that the Twelve Imams were appointed by the Prophet on orders from Allah. People should address both their spiritual and material problems to them. Where there is no Imam, all these matters may be left to the expounders of Islamic law. For the Shi’ite it is essential to believe that the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi, will one day appear.
  • Sunnis acknowledge and respect all the disciples of the Prophet; the Shi’ites, however, do not acknowledge the first three Caliphs, and only the preaching of the Prophet (Hadith) as interpreted by the Imams are acceptable.
  • In pronouncing judgment on matters not covered by the Koran and the Prophet’s teachings, or where Ijma, (universal agreement), is not available, Shi’ites rely on intelligence while Sunni doctrine relies on qiyas, analogical reasoning.
  • For Shi’ites, combining the noon and mid-afternoon prayers, and after sunset and evening prayers is unconditionally admissible, but according to Sunni doctrine it would be admissible only on certain conditions. In the above case Shi’ites performs the ritual prayer only three times a day.
  • Shi’ites add a sentence to the traditional call to prayer, expressing the idea that the Prophet Ali is God’s chosen companion. The Sunni’s call to prayer does not include this clause.
  • In Shi’ism there are two forms of marriage: permanent marriage, also accepted by the Sunnis, and temporary marriage as described in the Koran. However, the Sunni doctrine declares this latter form of marriage to be forbidden, and considers it invalid.
  • While Sunnis maintain that a traveller may continue to keep the fast of Ramadan if so desired, in Shi’ism the traveller during the month of Ramadan must definitely abandon the fast.
  • There are also variations in performing ritual ablutions. Shi’ites performs the ritual prostration in prayer on the ground. The use of a carpet, prayer-rug or the like is inadmissible.
    Shi’ites in Iran put small ceramic pieces in the place the forehead touches during prostration in prayer. These are made from the soil of Karbala and are available in any mosque or mausoleum. Some bear designs or inscriptions.
  • Taqiya or hiding, meaning the concealment of one’s true beliefs while in a hostile society without the risk of committing the offence of hypocrisy, is the right of every Shi’ite.
  • For Sunnis, pilgrimage to Mecca is a mandatory duty and one of the Five Pillars of Islam. For Shi’ites pilgrimage to the tombs of Shi’ite saints, of Ali at Najaf (Iraq) or of Huseyn at Karbala (Iraq) may be substituted. Pilgrimages to the tombs of saints are a significant characteristic of Shi’ism, and in Sunni Islam certain Sufi (mystic) practices are similar to this.

 

 

 

Islam 10

MUHARRAM is the first lunar month of the Hegira calendar and Ashura is an Arabic word meaning the tenth. Ashura Day is the name given to the tenth day of Muharram. There are many different interpretations of Ashura Day. It is claimed variously to be the day on which Adam acknowledged his repentance; the day Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat after the Flood; the day Abraham was rescued from the fiery furnace; the day Jacob was reunited with his son Joseph; the day the Prophet Mohammed was born. It is the day on which Jews observe Yom Kippur, (Day of Atonement) which is spent fasting.

10th Muharram, Hegira 61 (10th October, 680 CE) is commemorated as a day of mourning in the Muslim world because the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, and his uncle’s son and the fourth Caliph Ali’s youngest son Imam Huseyn together with 72 comrades were martyred in the Karbala Desert (Iraq) by the armies attached to the Yezid of the Omayyads. For this reason, Ashura Day is a day of mourning for Muslims. The members of the school of Ja’far mourn the martyrdom in the Karbala Desert, they shed tears and perform a play (Ta’ziya) which relates the story of the Karbala massacre. Ta’ziya is the only type of drama in Islam.

In mourning the victims of the Karbala massacre, black robes expressing bereavement and white robes which symbolise the shroud are worn. Every year a play narrating the Karbala massacre is performed. This is a scene from Ta’ziya. The red cloth and the flower represents the blood of the Martyrs and the sword driven into the sand displays the symbols of the main device used in this massacre. In the background, children dressed as angels represent the innocent children killed in the Karbala. According to Shi'ite belief, the Karbala battleground was, either on the same or the following day, changed into a field of flowers. For this reason, flowers are always included in the performance of the play.

In mourning the victims of the Karbala massacre, black robes expressing bereavement and white robes which symbolise the shroud are worn. Every year a play narrating the Karbala massacre is performed. This is a scene from Ta’ziya. The red cloth and the flower represents the blood of the Martyrs and the sword driven into the sand displays the symbols of the main device used in this massacre. In the background, children dressed as angels represent the innocent children killed in the Karbala. According to Shi’ite belief, the Karbala battleground was, either on the same or the following day, changed into a field of flowers. For this reason, flowers are always included in the performance of the play.

Ashura is also the name of a dessert. After the mourning ceremony, it is eaten to celebrate the survival of Huseyn’s son, Imam Zeynu’l-Abidin, through whom the family would continue.

The school of Ja’far, who form the majority of the Shi’ite sect, are also named, Ithna A’shariya or Imamis. At present, it is the formal doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Belief in the Imams appointed by will and testament is regarded as one of the basic tenets of their religion. The Caliphate era began after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. The fourth Caliph, Ali, expressed faith in the Twelve Imams. Within them, they maintain, is a supernatural ‘Mohammedan Light’ granting them superhuman knowledge and strength, and their sufferings make them accessible to their believers through divine grace.

 The participants in the memorial services wear the names of martyrs on bands around their foreheads.


The participants in the memorial services wear the names of martyrs on bands around their foreheads.

The school of Ja’far indicates that the worship and religious procedures of this sect follow Ja’far al-Sadiq’s teachings. He was the Shi’ite’s sixth Imam, the last acknowledged Imam of all the Shi’ite sects, and was the great great grandson of Ali. One of his most basic thoughts, widespread among Shi’ites, was that God previously determined a definite form for certain things, but left others to human conduct. A further fundamental belief is that whatever is not in accordance with the Koran, no matter what evidence in its support may be put forward, must be discarded. The divisions among the Shi’ites began with the death of Ja’far. The representatives of his eldest son Ishmael, (the Ishma’ilis) maintain that Ishmael is only lost, and that one day he will reappear. The members of the school of Ja’far do not accept the doctrine of Ishmael as a lost imam. The Ishma’ilis expresses faith in the seven Imams.

In the place named Karbala (today within the borders of Iraq) which at that time was a desert some of the victims left for days to die of thirst were children. These are the children taking part in the 1362nd anniversary (2001) commemorating all those who lost their lives in that massacre, and they carry empty water bowls as a reminder. In Iran, the bodies of martyrs who fall in battle are laid to rest without ablution. Huseyn was such a martyr and his body was so interred.

In the place named Karbala (today within the borders of Iraq) which at that time was a desert some of the victims left for days to die of thirst were children. These are the children taking part in the 1362nd anniversary (2001) commemorating all those who lost their lives in that massacre, and they carry empty water bowls as a reminder. In Iran, the bodies of martyrs who fall in battle are laid to rest without ablution. Huseyn was such a martyr and his body was so interred.

Renewing the mourning, black-robed young people gather together to shed tears and share the suffering of the Karbala martyrs. They carry chains with which they strike their bare backs. They continue doing this until bruising occurs. Every year in Iran on the tenth day of Muharram bloody demonstrations are held in commemoration of Huseyn's martyrdom. In Iranian tradition organisation of such bereavement ceremonies dates from long before Islam and enjoys unbroken continuity.

Renewing the mourning, black-robed young people gather together to shed tears and share the suffering of the Karbala martyrs. They carry chains with which they strike their bare backs. They continue doing this until bruising occurs. Every year in Iran on the tenth day of Muharram bloody demonstrations are held in commemoration of Huseyn’s martyrdom. In Iranian tradition organisation of such bereavement ceremonies dates from long before Islam and enjoys unbroken continuity.

Shi’ism became the formal doctrine of Iran during the Safavid dynasty (16th century). It is believed that the twelfth Imam, Mohammed el-Mehdi, did not die but was hidden (878) and that he will reappear just before the Day of Judgment and ensure that Justice prevail in the world (expectation of the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi). Up to this time the mujtahids, expounders of Islamic law, who took over the regency from the imams, are considered authorized to implement the Shari’a punishments, and to adjudicate in social and economic matters. Refusal to accept their judgments is equivalent to a refusal of the judgments of the Imam. Nowadays, the authority of the mujtahids can be placed in ascending order thus: Huccetu’l Islam, Islamic proof; Ayetullah, sign from Allah; Ayettullahi’l Uzma, the paramount sign from Allah.

Other religions have a similar expectation of a return: the Jews wait for the Messiah, Christians wait for the second coming of Jesus, Buddhists for the return of Buddha, Hindus for that of Vishnu.