Statement release by the President of KSIMC of LondonIn: Latest News
In the Name of the Almighty, the Beneficent and the Most Merciful
Since the lecture by Sheikh Usama Abdul Ghani in September 2009 at Hujjat Imambara, Stanmore, there has been an issue raised in the community that needed the attention of the leaders of our community. Cognisant of the controversies raised by Sheikh Usama and subsequently by Syed Zaki Baqri in his recent discourses at Hujjat Imambara, the EC of the KSIMC of London embarked on a thorough investigation and sought guidance from leaders of our community as well as Maraje’ and Scholars of the Shia community worldwide.
The issue was (and still is) about the personality of one Akram Majidi who claims to be an expert in guiding others to a path that supposedly leads all those who embark on it close to the Almighty. Whilst the concept of getting close to the Almighty remains one that is highly commended in Islam and one that is fully supported by us, there were certain traits and trends that were of concern to us. Behaviour and attitude were the final act that made us very objectively explore and investigate the objectives of Akram Majidi and his growing clique.
We are indeed grateful to have received full support from some of the senior students studying in Qum who formed a team to conduct a full enquiry on the background and history of Akram Majidi. As a result, they have posted their extensive findings on the website www.curtainoflight.com. This website provides a complete insight into the concept of Irfan, its history, a brief history of those who are termed as Urafa and of course, false Irfan.
A delegation led by some Office Bearers of the World Federation, WF, were able to get an audience with leading Maraje’ including Ayatullah Sistani, Ayatullah Waheed Khorasani and Ayatullah Bashir Najafi who have been unified in their condemnation of practices espoused by Akram Majidi and called for a better understanding of True Irfan to enable mu’mineen to discern right from wrong.
The WF, based on guidance received from Maraje’ and Scholars, have issued a comprehensive statement which includes a lengthy written response from Ayatullah Sistani as well as reports of verbal admonitions by Ayatullah Waheed Khorasani in a meeting attended by five people representing the WF and senior Khoja students in Qum.
The KSIMC of London, based on the above reports and on the recommendations received from our parent body; cognisant of its responsibilities towards the younger generation especially in protecting them from deviant and distorted ideologies, has taken the following actions:
• Akram Majidi will not be given platform to preach, lecture or advise our community;
• Parents and all members are advised to keep themselves and especially their youths from Akram Majidi for their own well being;
• All students affiliated with Akram Majidi are urged to seek guidance from scholars and Maraje’;
• All students who continue to associate themselves with Akram Majidi shall be suspended forthwith from using the Mimbar or any other platform in the community including teaching in Madaris;
• In conjunction with the WF, counselling courses will be facilitated for those who are already deeply involved with this movement and may be in search of a way out;
• Scholars who have agreed to guide anyone interested in understanding True Irfan are Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Bahmanpour of London, Dr Muhammad Shomali of Qum, Maulana Zaffer Abbas of Stanmore, London and Sheikh Muhammad Khalfan of Qum. These scholars have also expressed their willingness to help the victims of Akram Majidi combat his ways and overcome him.
Below, please find the written statement by Ayatullah Sistani and a report on what transpired in the office of Ayatullah Waheed Khorasani which are both self explanatory. If you would like to download the full statement including the statements of the Maraje’, please click here.
The KSIMC of London wishes to reiterate its commitment to encouraging young members of the community who pursue further Islamic studies. We pray to the Almighty to grant us all the strength to remain firm against the onslaught of slightest deviation from the mainstream path.
With Salaams and Duas
On behalf of the Executive Committee
KSIMC of London, Stanmore
16th March 2011 | 11 Rabi al Thaani 1432AH
Question submitted to Ayatullah Sistani:
Respected Marjaʼ Ayatullāh al-Udhmā Sayyid Ali al-Sistani Dāma Dhilluh,
As-Salāmu ʿalaykum wa Rahmatullāhi wa Barakātuh.
From time to time we come across some characters amongst the youth in the institutes of higher religious learning (Hawzāt al-ʿilmiyya) and other places, who claim to be endowed with ʿIrfan and inner purity, and they allege to have attained certain levels of nearness to Allāh, the Glorified and Most High. They say that their mission is turning the community towards Allāh through certain recitations (adhkār), incantations (awrād) and special gatherings. And it has been noticed that a group of youths might respond to their calls by believing their claims while others view this conduct and these movement with doubt and suspicion. So is it permissible to (accept and) rely on the people who make these claims and to trust them, and to act upon their advice and respond to them? Or is it neccessary to be cautious of them and keep a distance from them? Please give us your fatwa – your reward will be great; and may Allāh protect you with honour and illumination.
A group of students from the Hawza ʿIlmiyya
In His Name, the Most High.
There is no doubt that every believer should be concerned with purifying the soul and refining it from lowly traits and blameworthy attributes, and adorning it with lofty morals and praiseworthy attributes in preparation for obedience to Allāh, the Most High, and in refraining from His disobedience. However, the path to this is what has been mentioned in the Glorious Book (The Qur’an) and the Noble Sunnah, from the remembrance of death to (recalling) the evanescence of this world and the difficulties of the hereafter, including Barzakh, the Resurrection, the Assemblage (on the Day of Judgment), the Accounting (of deeds) up to being presented in front of Allāh, the Most High, and remembering the attributes of Paradise and its bounties and the horrors of Hell and its inferno, and the outcomes of (one’s) deeds and their results, for indeed this helps in being God wary, Glorified and Most High is He, and obedient to Him and to safeguard oneself from falling into sin and (facing) His wrath, just as the Prophets and the Vicegerents (peace be upon them all) have advised, and what the godly scholars have acted upon, generation after generation. And this path is clear with no dubiosity, and there is no excuse for the one who turns away from it. The only way that the state of a person is known is by seeing how much his conduct conforms with this course and how much it doesn’t. For indeed men are gauged by (their conformity with) the truth, and whoever gauges the truth by (the acts of) men falls into Fitna and strays from the right path.
Amīrul Muʼminīn (ʿa) had warned against one of the ignorant people from among those who innovated things based on their desire and who claimed to be one of the learned scholars so he gathered a group (of followers) around himself, saying: “The only things that give rise to disturbances (Fitnas) are the base desires that are acted upon and the commandments that are innovated. By these the Book of Allāh is opposed and people gain mastery over others through that which is against the religion of Allāh. For if wrong had been pure and unmixed with truth it would not be hidden from those who are in search of it. And if right had been pure without admixture of wrong those who stubbornly resist it would have been silenced. What is done, however, is that something is taken from here and something from there and the two are mixed. At this point Satan overpowers his friends and only those for whom virtue has been appointed by Allāh beforehand, (manage to) escape.” (1)
Among the signs of people who make claims which are false is their exaggeration with regards to purification of the soul in contravention to what Allāh has commanded, and directing others towards the extremism in them, and feeling no need to follow the well known methods employed by the jurists in deriving religious rulings, and their claim of arriving at these laws and at the basis (milākāt) of religious rulings through esoteric means, and their issuing religious verdicts without having acquired the competence (to do so), and the taking advantage of beginners in teaching and learning, and having a special attachment to those who submit to them and an enmity with those who do not follow their way, and their slandering of the one who detaches himself from them after having believed in them, and their adopting ways that are not conventional in order to set themselves apart from the people of knowledge and the lay people. And their exaggeration in dependence on dreams and what they claim to have perceived in (certain) spiritual states. And their differentiation from others in their form of dress, attire and appearance, (and their) justifying this by saying that this is something that has been mentioned in the traditions, without taking into consideration the secondary implications which are considered by the jurists in such matters.
And among these signs is (bringing about) innovation in religion and recommending certain exercises that have not been promoted by the Prophets and the Vicegerents (peace be upon them all), and basing their claim of something being recommended (mustahab) on unreliable sources using the excuse of ‘al-tasāmuh fi adillat al-sunan’ (2), and also being influenced by the people of other traditions and religions. And being tolerant of what is considered to be a kind of music and musical tune (and/or form of singing) that is prohibited. And of certain types of inter-mingling between the (non- mahram) men and women, and reliance on financial sources that are not known, and having ambiguous and doubtful affiliations and other such things that a discerning believer does not engage in.
And indeed we advise all the believers, may Allāh grant them success to attain His pleasure and remain steadfast, and not to allow themselves to easily trust these types of claims, for indeed this matter is a debt that is owed to Allāh, so whoever follows a leader of (true) guidance will be resurrected behind him and his path leads to Paradise, and whoever follows a leader of misguidance will be raised with him on the Day of Judgment and he will drive him into the fire of Hell. And let everyone who is in this situation ponder over the condition of those who came before them and how they fell into misguidance because of their following the likes of the afore-mentioned. We pray to Allāh to keep everyone away from innovation and base desires, and to make us successful in following His true ordinances in emulating the course of the godly scholars (al-ulamāʼ al-rabbāniyyun), for indeed He is the Master of Success. And peace be unto you and all the brothers in faith, and the Mercy and Blessings of Allāh.
28th Rabiʼ al-Awwal 1432 AH
Signed: Sayyid Ali al-Hussaini al-Sistāni
Footnotes: (1) Khutba no. 50 of Nahj al-Balāgha; (2) A concept of the principles of jurisprudence (usul) wherein it is argued that one can act upon weak narrations when it comes to recommended actions (mustahabbāt)
Meeting of the WF Office Bearers with the Maraj’e
During their recent visit to Qum and Najaf, the WF Office Bearers called upon the Maraje’ seeking their advice on a range of issues including the current issue on Irfan and tendencies within the community. The following are extracts of the key points of advice provided by His Eminence and other Maraje’ on the subject of Irfan.
His Eminence Ayatullah Sistani (DA): Najaf – Sunday 14th Feb 2011
The Office Bearers sought advice from His Eminence on the issue of Irfan within the community, including distinct appearances such as particular clothing (asa; hanak), holding of night sessions, certain attitudes etc. His Eminence referred to such practices as “Bazi” (games). He said that he had studied Irfan all his life and Irfan has two dimensions;
The first dimension is Tahzibe Nafs (refinement of the soul) which is true Irfan. This includes practice of reciting prescribed duas taught by Aimma (AS) such as Abu Hamza, praying Salatul Layl, and seeking Gods pleasure through Mustahab (recommended) actions. These were all well known practices and accepted by all.
The second dimension is the Muta’addi approach (multiple Irfan) where both Shia and Sunni groups have fallen into. He stated that within this second category, Bid’aat (innovation) has been introduced by the Shuyukh leading such movements under the guise of “Ruhe Deen” (soul of religion).
His Eminence said Iran itself has more than 50 different groups with such orientations and these trends were ‘deviated groups”. He said the barometer of identifying such groups was their focus on specific personalities such as a “sheikh” with specific ways.
He said even when one recites “Iyyaka Na’budu…” the followers are led to believe the true path to emulate is that of the “Sheikh”. His Eminence said he practiced Irfan, but the Irfan taught by the Ahlul Bayt (SA), that of humility. He said he lives a simple life (4th bottom category of way people live) and that simplicity was Zohd. He quoted Sheikh Ansari stating he was an ‘Arif without any Bid’at in his actions and was very simple without practices that were prescribed by the so called Urafa. He stated there are bad and misguided Ulama in every age. Even during Saddam’s time there were at least 250 Ulama in Iraq in the payroll of their master and one had to be vigilant of such people within our communities.
He stated that he could request Syed Jawad Shahristani to seek the services of good English speaking scholars to guide the youths of our community if required to help distinguish true Irfan from Pseudo Irfan. He stated the Tahzibe Nafs approach was the Seerah of Aimman (AS). He said that even Sunni groups became deviated because they did not practice ijtihad.
He went on to stress the simplicity in the Irfan practiced by Aimma (AS) and sticking to these recommended duas and salat was the best approach for purification of the soul rather than any particular and prescribed approach of some Shuyukh.
His Eminence Ayatullah Waheed Khorasani (DA): Qum – Friday 12th Feb 2011
Ayatullah Khorasani spoke about the current trends of Irfan and expressed concern that these days there were a number of ‘Murabbis’ (trainers) who lacked deep understanding of aqa’id and were misleading youngsters towards specific paths and practices. He stated the practice of ‘hanak’ and ‘carrying a stick’ are not aspects that our ulama practice and questioned its validity (beyond salat).
He stated that Riyadhat (spiritual exercises) had three stages and these were contrary to the values of the Ahlul Bayt whose practices were simple such as tazkiya (purification) of the nafs through regular prayers and duas. He stated that if certain Shuyukh had a particular norm of Riyadhat, these could lead to destruction and these three stages were:
1. The power of imagination (quwwate khiyal), which provides false illusions to a potential seeker of Irfan that the path and practices are a reality to God whereas it is not the power of intellect but rather the imagination that provides this illusion.
2. The effects of the exercises (Asare Riyadhat) – the nafs gains powers and through these exercises certain faculties are destroyed. The nafs feels it now receives ‘inspirations’ and ‘ilham’ from the hidden world (Alame Ghayb). This is very dangerous as in reality it is the destruction of the faculties within the nafs rather than realities of Ilham.
3. Irtibat Ba Jinnat –the third stage then is to use the ‘Jinnat’ on playing with the feelings of a pseudo Arif. This he said was commonly used by such Murabbis (trainers) leading only to destruction. Ayatullah Khorasani stated that in this process the student feels ‘high’ as if he is achieving a ‘station’ but this is in fact the route of the shaitan. These were paths leading to entertainment of the nafs playing directly into the hands of the devil.
Ayatullah Khorasani stated that he was not in favour of Hanak or Asa as this was not the practice of predecessors and grand maraj’e like Ayatullah Khui, Ayatullah Abul Hassan Isfahaani, or Ayatullah Naini. He said such practices were ‘batil’ and in some cases similar practices were used by the Salafis in Arabia.
He reiterated the community needs to be protected from such Sha’r (evils) of the Shaitan and the best way was through completion of 1 Juz of Quran and Dua-e-Ahad on regular basis and keeping the Tawassul with the Imam of our time (AJ). He particularly stressed the need of completion of 1 Juz of the Holy Quran on daily basis and dedicate the sawaab to the Master of Our Age, Imam Al Mahdi (AJ).
His Eminence Ayatullah Basheer Najafi (DA): Najaf – 14th February 2011
Ayatullah Basheer Najafi discussed the current trends within the Hawza and expressed concern about tendencies of pseudo Irfan. He stated explicitly that NO STUDENT should learn any form of Irfan until they have completed at least 7 years of Hawza studies after which their basis would be firm enabling them to digest aspects of Irfan.
When asked about his views on Hanak and Asa, he stated one riwayat in Lum’a also narrated in Wasail-u-Shia from our 6th Imam(AS) is authentic but was misinterpreted and misrepresented as this was in the context of salat and not outside salat. He said hanak was part of a knot within the turban but some felt it needs to open up below the shoulder (taht-al-hanak) but ONLY during salat. He said one of his early students started wearing hanak in Najaf some 20 years ago and people in Najaf were all laughing at him. He said he summoned the student and asked him why he was dressing in this particular way. In response the student quoted the above hadith.
Agha stated this hadith only applies to Salat and even that ‘just in case’ as a matter of precaution – incase Hanak actually meant opening up below the shoulder. Hanak means removing to the shoulders as it could also mean tying within the turban.
However as a precaution scholars opened it (tahtal hanak) in salat in case the hadith applied to that aspect of it.
Meeting with other Maraje’
The World Federation Office Bearers also called upon Ayatullah Jawad Amuli and Ayatullah Madadi who both expressed similar views in terms of exercising caution towards studying Irfan particularly for students who were not advanced in their studies. They stated that the best way to address these challenges was for mainstream Ulama and Mubaligheen to teach the true meaning of Irfan to our youngsters.