Let’s Get Acquainted!


smoking room 1


Before starting with the topic of Political Islam, which is quite controversial, I’d like to create a peaceful space where the readers and contributors can get to know and understand each other better. This space will be called the Smoking Room. Psychologists say communication in the Internet lacks a very important factor: the body language. We can’t see reach other’s posture and facial expression. This, together with the fact that participants of an Internet discussion hardly know each other, creates a tendency to perceive any statements in more negative light. So I think it’s good, before discussing some hot topics, simply to get to know each other.

Who Am I?

I was born in the county which doesn’t exist now, the USSR. I moved to Eastern Europe about 3 years ago. I am over 40 years old, I work as a freelance translator, I am married, I like travelling and reading science fiction and fantasy.

As to my views, I think there are no evil people, but there are people who are not very smart. They all want to be happy, but often do things that bring pain to others and themselves. And following harmful ideas can bring very bad results. However everyone, regardless race, gender, religion or whatever, has the same potential for developing and improving.

Am I biased in some ways? Yes, of course. Show me someone who is not. Anyone’s views are strongly influenced by the person’s background and life experience.

Am I able to change my views? Yes. For example, my worldview has changed quite a lot when I discovered that under the clothes all people are still naked:0).

Who Are You?

If you are reading these words, it means you, unlike 750 million people in the world, can read and write, unlike 60% of the world population, you have a computer and access to the Internet, and you also have free time for spending it here. Besides, if English is not your native language, then you know at least one foreign language.

So it seems we have quite a lot in common. We don’t have to agree with each other, the world would be very boring if everyone had the same ideas, but we can make an effort to understand each other’s point of view.

The Smoking Room Rules

Now I am going to impose some rules. But please, don’t worry: these rules will be applied to only one person – to myself. I promise to count to 10 before replying, to do my best trying to understand the other person, and react to any statement starting rather with “Yes” than with “No”, at least in my thoughts:0). I am going to abstain from arguing, and only ask questions trying to clarify things I don’t know or don’t understand. So whatever heated discussions we might have outside the Smoking Room, everyone is always welcome to come and sit here, have a cigar, a sip of cognac (or a glass of water if you are abstinent for whatever reasons), and relax chatting about whatever comes to your mind.

Life of Muhammad 2

This is an excerpt from Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, the first written biography of prophet Muhammad. This piece tells about the prophet’s parents. Please also notice that in pre-Islamic era Arab women were free to propose to men.


Taking ‘Abdullah by the hand Abdu’l-Muttalib went away and they passed – so it is alleged – a woman of B. Asad b. ‘Abdu’l-‘Uzza b. Qusayy b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka’b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr who was the sister of Waraqa b. Naufal b. Asad b. ‘Abdu’l-‘Uzza, who was at the Ka’ba. When she looked at him she asked, ‘Where are you going Abdullah?’ He replied, ‘With my father.’ She said, ‘If you will take me you can have as many camels as were sacrificed in your stead.’ ‘I am with my father and I cannot act against his wishes and leave him’, he replied.

‘Abdu’l-Muttalib brought him to Wahb b. ‘Abdu Manaf b. Zuhra b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka’b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr who was the leading man of B. Zuhra in birth and honour, and he married him to his daughter Amina, she being the most excellent woman among the Quraysh in birth and position at that time. Her mother was Barra d. ‘Abdu’l-‘Uzza b. ‘Uthman b. ‘Abdu’1-Dar b. Qusayy b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka’b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr. Barra’s mother was Umm Habib d. Asad b. ‘Abdu’l-‘Uzza b. Qusayy by Kilab b. Murra b. Ka’b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr. Umm Hablb’s mother was Barra d. ‘Auf b. ‘Ubayd b. ‘Uwayj b. ‘Adly b. Ka’b b.” Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr.

It is alleged that Abdullah consummated his marriage immediately and his wife conceived the apostle of God.1 Then he left her presence and met the woman who had proposed to him. He asked her why she did not make the proposal that she made to him the day before; to which she replied that the light that was with him the day before had left him, and she no longer had need of him. She had heard from her brother Waraqa b. Naufal, who had been a Christian and studied the scriptures, which a prophet would arise among this people.

Life of Muhammad 1

This is an excerpt from Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, the first written biography of prophet Muhammad. This piece tells a story from life of Abdu’l-Muttalib, Muhammad’s grandfather.


While Abdu’l-Muttalib was sleeping in the hijr,1 he was ordered in a vision to dig Zamzam. Yazid b. Abu Hablb al-Misrl from Marthad b. ‘Abdullah al-Yazanl from ‘Abdullah b. Zurayr al-Ghafiqt told me that he heard ‘Ali b. Abu Talib telling the story of Zamzam. He said that ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib said: ‘I was sleeping in the hijr when a supernatural visitant came and said, “Dig Tiba”. I said “And what is Tiba?”; then he left me. I went to bed again the next day and slept, and he came to me and said “Dig Barra”; when I asked what Barra was he left me. The next day he came and said “Dig al-Madnuna”; when I asked what that was he went away again. The next day he came while I was sleeping and said “Dig Zamzam”. I said, “What is Zamzam?”; he said:

“Twill never fail or ever run dry,
“Twill water the pilgrim company..
It lies ‘twixt the dung and the flesh bloody,
By the nest where the white-winged ravens fly,
By the nest where the ants to and fro do ply.’

When the exact spot had been indicated to him and he knew that it corre­sponded with the facts, he took a pick-axe and went with his son al-Harith for he had no other son at that time and began to dig. When the top of the well appeared he cried ‘Allah akbar!’ Thus Quraysh knew that he had obtained his object and they came to him and said, ‘This is the well of our father Ishmael, and we have a right to it, so give us a share in it.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, ‘I was specially told of it and not you, and I was the one to be given it.’ They said: ‘Do us justice, for we shall not leave you until we have got a judicial decision in the matter.’ He said: ‘Appoint anyone you like as umpire between us.’ He agreed to accept a woman diviner of B. Sa’d Hudhaym, who dwelt in the uplands of Syria.

So ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib, accompanied by some of his relations and a representa­tive from all the tribes of Quraysh, rode away. They went on through desolate country between the Hijaz and Syria until ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib’s company ran out of water and they feared that they would die of thirst. They asked the Quraysh tribes to give them water, but they refused, on the ground that if they gave them their water they too would die of thirst. In his desperation ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib consulted his companions as to what should be done, but all they could do was to say that they would follow his instructions: so he said, ‘I think that every man should dig a hcle for him­self with the strength that he has left so that whenever a man dies his com­panions can thrust him into the hole and bury him until the last man, for it is better that one man should lie unburied than a whole company.’ They accepted his advice and every man began to dig a hole for himself. Then they sat down until they should die of thirst.

After a time ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib said to his companions, ‘By God, to abandon ourselves to death in this way and not to scour the country in search of water is sheer incompetence; perhaps God will give us water somewhere. To your saddles!’ So they got their beasts ready while the Quraysh watched them at work. ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib went to his beast and mounted her and when she got up from her knees a flow of fresh water broke out from beneath her feet. ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib and his companions, crying ‘Allah akbar!’, dismounted and drank and filled their water-skins. Then they invited the Quraysh to come to the water which God had given them and to drink freely. After they had done so and filled their water-skins they said: ‘By God, the judgement has been given in your favour ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib. We will never dispute your claim to Zamzam. He who has given you water in this wilderness is He who has given you Zamzam. Return to your office of watering the pilgrims in peace.’ So they all went back without going to the diviner.

This is an example of stories that I am going to skip in the future, because they don’t contribute a lot to understanding the prophet’s life and character. I posted it just to give you the taste of these ancient Arab stories.

Terrorism? There Are Bigger Problems

When speaking of Islam, people often raise the issue of terrorism, discussing whether ISIS are following traditional Islam, or they are perverting a peaceful religion. And of course Islam apologists will wave the banner of “The majority of Muslims are not terorrists”. That’s right, they are not. However, although each violent death is terrible, there are bigger problems than terrorism.

A minority Shiite Muslim was sentenced to death in Pakistan for sharing blasphemous content about Islam on social media, a government prosecutor said.

Judge Shabbir Ahmed announced the sentence for 30-year-old Taimoor Raza on Saturday in Bahawalpur in eastern Punjab province, according to Shafiq Qureshi. Raza was arrested last year for allegedly posting derogatory content about Sunni Muslim religious leaders and the wives of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook.

Qureshi said Bahawalpur’s counter-terrorism force arrested Raza in April last year following a complaint that he was showing onlookers objectionable material on his cell phone at a bus terminal. He added that Raza had previously posted other blasphemous material on Facebook.
Read more here: http://nation.com.pk/national/10-Jun-2017/pakistani-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-on-social-media

Pakistan’s population is about 200 million. About 90% of them are Muslim. And this means the majority in this country do not find objectionable to live under laws which kill a person for speaking out his/her mind on the topic of Islam. This is the real problem. They are not terrorists. They are simply people who value their religion more than human life. Not all of them of course. But you can compare the number of protests which were caused by sentence to the murderer of a Pakistani governer who just suggested to extend mercy to a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, and the number of protests which will rise due to this death sentence for a Facebook post.

And what an irony: the guy was arrested by COUNTER-TERRORISM FORCE.

Sufism And Orthodoxy

This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


w9.11 (‘ Abd al-Qahir Baghdadi:) The book Tarikh al-Sufiyya [The history of the Sufis] by Abu ‘Abd ai-Rahman Sulami, comprises the biographies of nearly a thousand sheikhs of the Sufis, none of whom belonged to heretical sects and all of whom were of the Sunni community, with the exception of only three of them: Abu Hilman of Damascus, who pretended to be of the Sufis but actually believed in incarnationism (hulul, def: w7.1); Husayn ibn Mansur al-HaUaj, whose case remains problematic, though Ibn ‘ Ata’, Ibn Khafif, and Abul Qasim al-Nasrabadhi approved of him; and al-Qannad, whom the Sufis accused of being a Mu’tazilite (def: w6.4) and rejected, for the good does not accept the wicked (Usul ai-din (y23),315-16).

Sufism: The Purpose Of Taking A Sheikh And A Path

This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


w9.7 (Muhammad Hashimi:) As for when the path is merely “for the blessing of it” and the sheikh lacks some of the conditions of a true guide, or when the disciple is seeking several different aims from it at once, or the disciple’s intention is contrary to the spiritual will of the sheikh, or the time required is unduly prolonged, or he is separated from his sheikh by the latter’s death or the exigencies of the times and has not yet completed his journey to Allah on the path or attained his goal from it-then it is obligatory for him to go and associate with someone who can complete his journey for him and convey him to what he seeks from the path, as it is not permissible for him to remain bound to the first sheikh his whole life if it is only to die in ignorance of his Lord, claiming that this is the purpose of the path. By no means is this the purpose. The purpose of the path is to reach the goal, and a path that does not reach it is a means without an end. The path was made for travel on it with the intention of reaching one’s goal, not for remaining and residing in even if this leads to dying in ignorance of one’s Lord. The meaning of a true disciple is one who forthrightly submits himself to a living sheikh who is a guide (murshid) during the days of his journey to Allah Most High so that the sheikh may put him through the stages of the journey until he can say to him, “Here you are, and here is your Lord” (ai-Hall al-sadid Ii ma astashkalahu almurid (y46), 7).

w9.8 (n:) Muhammad Hashimi’s above words about submitting oneself to a living sheikh refer to matters within the range of the permissible or recommended, not what contradicts the Sacred Law or beliefs of Islam (def: vl-v2), for no true sheikh would ever countenance such a contravention (dis: s4.7), let alone have a disciple do so, a fact that furnishes the subject of the remaining articles of this section.

w9.9 (‘Izz ibn ‘Abd ai-Salam:) The Sacred Law is the scale upon which men are weighed and profit is distinguished from loss. He who weighs heavi1y on the scales of the Sacred Law is of the friends (awliya’) of Allah, among whom there is disparity of degree. And he who comes up short in the scales of the Sacred Law is of the people of ruin, among whom there is also disparity of degree. If one sees someone who can fly through the air, walk on water, or inform one of the unseen, but who contravenes the Sacred Law by committing an unlawful act without an extenuating circumstance that legally excuses it, or who neglects an obligatory act without lawful reason, one may know that such a person is a devil Allah has placed there as a temptation to the ignorant. Nor is it farfetched that such a person should be one of the means by which Allah chooses to lead men astray, for the Antichrist will bring the dead to life and make the living die, all as a temptation and affliction to those who would be misled (ai-Imam al’ Izz ibn ‘Abd ai-Salam wa atharuhu fi al-fiqh alIslami (y38) , 1.137).

Sufi Sheikhs

This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


w9.6 (Ahmad Zarruq:) The conditions of a sheikh to whom a disciple may entrust himself are five:

(a) sound religious knowledge;

(b) true experience of the Divine;

(c) exalted purpose and will;

(d) a praiseworthy nature;

(e) and penetrating insight.

Someone with all five of the following is not fit to be a sheikh:

(1) ignorance of the religion;

(2) disparaging the honor of the Muslims;

(3) involvement in what does not concern him;

(4) following caprice in everything;

(5) and showing bad character without a second thought.

If there is no sheikh who is a true guide (murshid, def: w9.7), or there is one, but he lacks one of the five conditions, then the disciple should rely on those of his qualities that are perfected in him, and deal with him as a brother (A: meaning the sheikh and disciple advise one another) regarding the rest (Kitab qawanin hukm al-ishraq ita kaffa al-Sufiyya fi jami’ al-afaq (y121), 119).


Sufism and Sacred Law

This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.

w9.5 (‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha’rani:) The path of the Sufis is built of the Koran and sunna, and is based upon living according to the morals of the prophets and purified ones. It may not be blamed unless it violates an explicit statement from the Koran, sunna, or scholarly consensus (def: b7), exclusively. If it does not contravene one of these, the very most that one may say of it is that it is an understanding a Muslim man has been given, so let whoever wishes act upon it, and whoever does not refrain, this being as true of works as of understanding. So no pretext remains for condemning it except one’s own low opinion of others (dis: r2.14), or interpreting what they do as ostentation, which is unlawful. Whoever carefully examines the branches of knowledge of the Folk of Allah Most High will find that none of them are beyond the pale of the Sacred Law. How should they lie beyond the pale of the Sacred Law when it is the law that connects the Sufis to Allah at every moment? Rather, the reason for the doubts of someone unfamiliar with the way of the Sufis that it is of the very essence of the Sacred Law is the fact that such a person has not thoroughly mastered the knowledge of the law. This is why Junayd (Allah Most High have mercy on him) said, “This knowledge of ours is built of the Koran and sunna,” in reply to those of his time or any other who imagine that it is beyond the pale of the Koran and sunna.

The Folk unanimously concur that none is fit to teach in the path of Allah Mighty and Majestic save someone with comprehensive mastery of the Sacred Law, who knows its explicit and implicit rulings, which of them are of general applicability and which are particular, which supersede others and which are superseded. He must also have a thorough grounding in Arabic, be familiar with its figurative modes and similes, and so forth. So every true Sufi is a scholar is Sacred Law, though the reverse is not necessarily true.

To summarize, no one denies the states of the Sufis except someone ignorant of the way they are. Qushayri says, “No era of the Islamic period has had a true sheikh of this group, save that the Imams of the scholars of that time deferred to him, showed humility towards him, and visited him for the benefit of his spiritual grace (baraka). If the Folk had no superiority or election, the matter would have been the other way around” (alTabaqat al-kubra al-musamma bi Lawaqih alanwar fi tabaqat al-akhyar (y124), 1.4).