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This caused most caregivers to have multiple financial crises with the small amount of money they had. For psychotic patients, some used to take taxi but the easiest and most accessible transport was public buses daladala. The most important concern was how to get the money for the transport.

Some failed completely to come to the hospital for more than two or more months and other caregivers sometimes used their other relatives to collect the medication at the clinic as reported by one of the respondents caring for her elder sister with schizophrenia:. In addition to cost of transportation, it was revealed that shortage of medicine in the hospital compromised the treatment system of the patient.

For example, the informants whose ill relative used more than two types of medication were rarely getting the second medication from the hospital and consequently had to purchase it in private pharmacies. This was reported by an informant caring for his son with schizophrenia:. Then the patient uses the one type of drug because no money to buy the second drug.

The psychotropic medications are normally provided free of charge by the government hospital. However, not all are available in the government pharmacies and thus patients need to buy from private pharmacies. In this case patients reported that drugs were so expensive that those who managed to buy them had to sacrifice other household needs so that the patient could get the drug to prevent the disruptive behaviour:.

This theme occurred even in patients using one type of drug. Some informants expressed that even if the patient had one type of drug which was not available at the hospital, the patient had to wait until they get the money to buy it. Lack of money for transportation and medication for the patients was suggested to be the main impediment to the patient improvement.

Family functioning is the ability of the family to continue with daily activities despite an internal or external threat. Most participants expressed disturbances in their normal routine as a result of having a mentally ill person in the household as explained below:. Disruption of household tasks and other responsibilities were important sources of distress revealed by many caregivers.

Parents of patient with mental illness had multiple roles including caring for the patient as well as making sure that other family members were getting their needs met. One caregiver whose ill relative was totally dependent said that she devoted most of her time doing activities for the patient. This affected the family caregiver income and hence made life more difficult as expressed by one of the respondents:.

If you attempt to go out to do your work, you become anxious because he the patient may be violent. Most parent caregivers stated that it is their responsibility to care for the patient because it is their child who is suffering and they cannot give to anyone else. Because they have to work, some caregivers reported locking in the patient when they needed to go out for daily activities.

Although some informants said that they have other family members living in the same household, they contribute little to care of the patient. One caregiver expressed concern about her husband by saying:. He uses abusive language to my son because his is mentally ill but he does not show such behaviour to the children. However, most caregivers resolved to seek out professional treatment. They expressed concern that there was no one else who would be able to handle the unpredictable behaviour of the patient.

The majority expressed fear of being attacked by the patient as well as concern for safety of the patient as elaborated below:. Some other informants expressed that they had to be modest and humble when talking with the patients. Thus leaving care of the patient to the main caregiver despite the dangers to that person. A good number of caregivers expressed concern about safety of the patients who at times aimed to attack and kill others or themselves as echoed by a 35 year old man caring for his young brother with paranoid schizophrenia:.

Concern by family members for the safety of the mentally ill relative caused many to experience anxiety especially when the relatives get lost in the street or when they become disruptive and violent. Parents caring for epileptic patients stressed that when their ill children get out, they did not remember to return home. The caregivers had to take time and effort to look for the patient everywhere. Some patients were reported to get lost for several weeks.

Participants reported that patients were more aggressive and violent when they do not take their medication and this was a common problem provided that some medications had to be bought at private pharmacies. Furthermore, family resilience was also disrupted when the patient interfered with normal family social life such as by preventing family members from engaging in basic activities such eating and watching television. One informant reported that:. It was said that most people do not know the nature of the mental illness and think that the person was pretending. In this study many informants expressed lack of support from other people, both inside and outside the family.

Ignorance of family members in regards to the nature of mental illness was said to be a contributing factor to lack of support as most of them thought that the illness was of short duration. Participants acknowledged that family dynamics are changing from that of an extended family system to more of a nuclear family system where the welfare of a child is the sole responsibility of the parent.

Caregivers described feelings of helplessness related to the fact that no one else was willing to help them care for their child and that they had to persevere with caring problems as living with such patients need cooperation with other members of the families. Some caregivers reported a desire for social support groups designed to improve the quality of life of mentally ill individuals. These social groups could be of any nature including but not limited to educational or religious in order to assist their ill relatives in socializing and thus relieve any distress caused by loneliness.

Also they were concerned about the deteriorating cognitive function of their mentally ill relative and expressed a desire to find educational groups. Furthermore, it was also revealed that there is a need for caregiver support groups to address physical and psychological problems developed by caregivers themselves as a result of caring for their mentally ill relatives. Professional or social support was frequently mentioned by caregivers while venting about their emotional distress:.

Many informants suggested having this social group as a way to simultaneously improve the welfare of the patient and their own well-being. This was suggested as an alternative to admitting mentally ill relatives to mental health institutions, something some informants had seriously considered. Others suggested creating schools for mentally ill individuals with qualified teachers because some patients had improved their mental status but were unable or afraid to join public schools.

Many caregivers described people around them having negative attitudes toward their mentally ill relative. Most informants reported that the relative was more stigmatized than the caregivers themselves and that when they hear or see their ill relative being ostracized, they feel guilty and are psychologically disturbed. However, the experience of societal stigma and discrimination is worsened by negative attitudes from close relatives towards the caregivers, thus creating an increased distance among them and the community at large.

Negative attitudes from close relatives were explained to occur on different occasions such as when using public transportation and at other social gatherings. One participant whose ill relative had cannabis induced psychosis complained that his neighbours shunned his son from social events:. Some highlighted that stigma was present among family members. This was apparent after the onset of illness. Stigma was said to be caused by lack of knowledge about the nature of mental illness. The caregivers expressed their belief that education regarding mental illness should be provided to people in order to prevent stigma and discrimination.

Patients were said to be more stigmatized than the caregiver probably due to awkward behaviour.

Social Thinking: Crash Course Psychology #37

However, caregivers were blamed for causing the ill relative to be in that situation to begin with. Coping and adaptation are one of the important aspects to be applied when caring for a patient with chronic mental illness. Different types of coping and adaptation were reported by the participants. Acceptance and faith were two of the most frequently cited strategies for coping. That is your gift from Almighty God, you have to accept.

Most family members brought their ill relative to the hospital after consulting different areas especially from traditional healers. Other family caregivers sought religious support as the only means of hope and encouragement. They said that their religious practice gave them peace of mind and helped them to endure the caregiving situation. They believed that praying was also likely to reduce the suffering of their ill relative as well, thus making their faith indispensable to continued caregiving of the relative, irrespective of their distressing behaviour.

Help me to touch the Cross until my time of death! They had no means of coping or adapting to manage their situation either due to persistent bizarre behaviour by the patient or their own lack of energy. However, they still had hopes due to their faith;. What respect do I expect from you I wonder! I always provide care for you so what! It is merely my faith which makes me to be here. Love, patience, and knowledge of the problem were other coping strategies mentioned by the family caregivers as important for difficult situations.

Feelings and coping strategies experienced by family caregivers were revealed in the study. This study found that the main challenges faced by caregivers of mentally ill relatives were lack of social support, stigma, and conflict caused by the patients. Similar findings were reported in rural Ghana where caregivers reported financial difficulties, social exclusion, depression, and inadequate time for other social responsibilities as their main challenges [ 16 ]. The financial constraints found in this study corroborate findings from other studies that explored the relationship between mental illness and poverty [ 17 ].

In this study, it has been found that people with mental illness are often unable to generate income and that they often have to rely on the financial support of family members to meet basic living needs and to pay for any health expenditure associated with mental illness. Thus, family members may have to set aside a significant amount of their time to care for an ill family member.

This finding also shows similar financial burden as reported by a study conducted in Nigeria that explored relatives caring for schizophrenic patients [ 18 ]. In our research, the shortage of drugs was reported to decrease the credibility of health facilities, which are the main source of support for many families with mentally ill members.

As such there is a need to improve mental health services including adequate provision of antipsychotic medication so that caregivers can continue getting them at the hospital free of charge as the policy stipulates. Our findings demonstrate that there is a need for social support for the benefits of the family affected by mental illness.

This unity helps to prevent stigma against the mentally ill patient in the family and the community at large. In the United State US research findings reports that families assume major roles in supporting relatives with mental illness [ 10 ]. However, education on the nature of mental illness can also be a problem, which calls for more emphasis on community awareness of mental illness in Tanzania. A qualitative study conducted in Thailand to explore the lived experience of Thai family caregivers found that extended family was a major source of support to caregivers physically, financially and emotionally [ 19 ].

This is not the case in this study because the caregiving was described to be occurring in a more nuclear family unit which resulted in decreased support to the family caregivers and may be due to the fact that the study was conducted in an urban setting. In essence, neighbours and the community are important components of social support.


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This research suggests that a strong social support system is critical for the improvement of mentally ill patients. This argument is supported by findings from India which revealed several reasons for difficulties encountered by patients cared for at home [ 20 ]. The most important way to improve the social support system in Tanzania is to integrate mental health into the primary health care system [ 21 ].

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In primary health care practice, family members with their mentally ill relative can access the health facilities easily and with low costs. Although mental health is addressed in the National Health policy of , the pace of progress is too slow to cater to the increasing burden and demand of mental health care in the local setting. Nevertheless, effort is needed by the government to increase the number of training institutions in order to create more mental health professionals.


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  • Our study reported stigma as one of the biggest social challenges affecting families caring for patients with mental illness. Similar studies have shown that stigma may erode the morale of family caregivers and results in withdrawal of potential supporters [ 11 , 15 ]. However, a longitudinal study is required to establish a causal relationship between the stigma and the loss of social support for families caring for relatives with mental illness. Due to the fact that participants were concerned about their caregiving obligations in this research, there is a significant need for education of the general population about the causes, presentation, and treatment of mental disorders.

    Although stigma and discrimination is a socially and culturally influenced phenomenon [ 3 ], increased education and understanding among the general population may decrease the stigma experienced by people who have a mental illness, their caregivers, and their families.

    Stigma is acknowledged globally as one of the major problems to the success of community mental healthcare and it prevents a person from being fully integrated into society. In Zambia, research found that stigma could be reduced if people with mental health problems were treated in primary health care settings rather than in mental or district hospitals [ 22 ]. In Tanzania, most health care facilities in the local setting have not yet incorporated mental health into their basic health care packages; this could aid in reducing stigma.

    Furthermore, research suggests that the media plays a pivotal role in the stigmatization of mental illness and therefore could also play a role in the de-stigmatization process [ 23 ]. Family functioning has been affected by caring for patients with mental illness. The patient has many needs which must be fulfilled by the caregivers at the same time that they must engage in daily tasks to earn an income. This increases fact increases the overall burden on the caregivers. A large quantitative study in Australia reported that higher levels of the burden of care were associated with lower levels of family functioning, which in turn were associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression and perceptions of poor health [ 24 ].

    The results of this research would further suggest that families affected by mental illness feel less cohesive and perceive themselves to be less connected to one another and less bonded as a unit than the normative family. In addition, the families of the mentally ill felt dissatisfied with the functioning of their family. This gives an impression that individual families should maintain their roles and relationships, thereby enabling the caregivers to maintain equilibrium. Any occurrence of mental illness of a family member which needs caring at home results in psychological and emotional disturbances for the whole family [ 25 ].

    In relation to the conceptual approach of family caregiving [ 26 ], these family beliefs and relationships can be of great importance to understanding caregiving problems and any socio-cultural factors influencing family care of people with mental illness. However, it is also important to examine further and distinguish between the availability of social support resources and the actual use of that resource to strengthen family functioning. Violence and threatening behaviour displayed by patients in this study would seem to be the result of insufficient symptom management.

    So on very specific symbolic issues, they can be very tough, just to tell people: we are Muslim and we protect Islam. On the serious issue of democratization, they are not ready to do the job. But on very specific religious detail — for example, the chance to condemn 20 homosexuals in Egypt, to be able to say: look, we are Islamic.

    Islam: Questions and Answers - Psychological and Social Problems by Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman

    And it works on emotions. As from here, very often we are playing the game, accepting this. I think that this is where we should be consistent in understanding that some of the most secular countries and secular governments in Muslim-majority countries, they can use a very traditional position on Islam just to protect themselves from being perceived as betrayers. More than that: On the cartoon issue, on the ban on minarets, what can you see? The Danish Muslims were very wise and very calm. It came from the prime minister refusing to meet with the ambassadors.

    They perceived this as disrespectful. They went back to Egypt, they went back to Syria, and it started from there. And I think that you need to understand where the scholars are in the whole process and not expect from them things that they cannot deliver — not as a first step. Still, yes, I agree with you: We need more courageous scholars. The first one, the big picture, is just to say that the immigrants who came to Europe were from economic exile, modest backgrounds, not very knowledgeable about Islam.

    They came just for jobs, and very often they confused Islam and their culture of origin. They were poor, modest and living in the suburbs in a very difficult situation. Then you have also a society which welcomed them, but more secular societies than the United States of America, and religion was a problem. Before Islam, it was church and state, and the relationship with the Christian church is important.

    The second thing, the relationship between France and Algeria — the old, previous colonized country — this is something which has to do with the psychology in the whole discussion. Add to this that today in Europe with this new presence, there is this perception that we are forgetting about the socioeconomic problems, the class segregation, and we Islamize all the problems. I think that this is quite specific to Europe. The very specificities of the American environment had them do this.

    They said, okay, I can have half an identity: American and Muslim. The fact is that they were not facing socioeconomic problems the way they were in Europe. So this is something which has different challenges. Now, there are still common challenges, and we have to deal with this when it comes to what is happening today in the States with the African-American Muslim community, where they are in the inner cities and facing something which is quite interesting by saying, we are citizens but we are facing a second-class citizenship, which is in fact not only a religious problem.

    But the religious problem is added to socioeconomic problems, such as discrimination. This is where you can find parallels with what the Muslim communities in Europe are experiencing. Add to these challenges something which is now part of the identity crisis and the lack of intra-community dialogue — the fact that we have a great deal of racism within the American Muslim communities. Islam is against racism, but Muslims could be racist and this is happening. For example, in this country you had two conventions at the same time in Chicago.

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    So the immigrants and the African-American community, they were not dealing together. These are fractures from within. Come to Europe; you will see exactly the same internal challenges when it comes to Turkish or Moroccan Muslims. We are dealing with this still. When you speak about feeling at home as a European, you have to go beyond that if you are obsessed with the countries of origin and all these things. Add to this the class segregation that we have reached among Muslims now in Europe. They are succeeding on the social ground in the inner cities, but there is a gap between them and the experiences of people who are still in the suburbs.

    This is also something which is experienced in America. So I would say, yes, there are different challenges. The very specific environment has to be taken into account, but still we have common challenges within — internal challenges. Just to tell you my own story, my first connection with the States was not with the immigrants. In fact, Malcolm X was in touch with my father. All I heard from this story was about African-Americans. When I first came, I was connected to them and then you understand, wow, they are questioning not the religious dimension of their integration but the socioeconomic reality.

    This is where we find common ground because this is what they were questioning. Even more so, they were questioning the new immigrant by saying, you are not representing Islam; you are not representing the only Islamic reality in this country; you have money; you are in the suburbs and we are in the inner cities. We are facing discrimination; we are facing the fact that there is social discrimination in this country. So this is something that helps us to understand that the American dream is good for some and problematic for others.

    If there is a European dream, it would be the same questions that we have. How central or primary do you think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to the challenges that the Obama administration faces all around the world? And then, your war in Iraq is illegal, and I think that this is not the way forward. Saying something which I continue to say, I think the Palestinian resistance is legitimate, the means are not. This is something which is quite important for me — to be clear on that.

    Because at the end of the day, you can get social integration, intellectual integration, but miss psychological integration because something is missing, which is the sense of belonging. The sense of belonging is what I call critical loyalty. I think that this is where we have to be together — you and me.

    I said this from the very beginning. First term, what we got as the first speech one year ago from President Barack Obama was a very good speech — very good. I commented on this by saying, this is the first time we see someone speaking in that way: very cautious with the wording, very cautious also by not only addressing this to Muslims in Muslim-majority countries but also to Americans by telling them Islam is an American religion and Muslims are contributing to the future of this country. Then, to speak about the suffering of the Palestinians and about the fact that we have to look at this issue seriously —.

    Now, I think that what we got during the last weeks and months is really tension between the Israeli government, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the Obama administration. Still, now, these are words and things are going on there. So I would say, at the same time as we are expecting something from the Obama administration, we also have to say to the American Muslims, you have to be involved in all the discussions. When it comes to health, for example, what happened in this country is just tremendously important for all the American citizens.

    You have to be involved in this; you have to be involved in education. You have to acknowledge the fact that there are constructive steps when it comes, for example, to meeting with entrepreneurs and Muslims and trying not to be obsessed only with the idea that Islam means we talk about terrorism.

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    No, Islam means we speak about America; we speak about being American. This obsession has to be reassessed from within by Muslims, but we need both. But I would like, yes, the American administration to be more balanced on Palestinian rights. And it remains central. It remains central even though I think Muslims should be much more involved in everything which has to do with global politics, beyond only this issue.

    But I would say that yes, something is changing, and there is lots of hope coming from Muslims in Muslim-majority countries. But still, they are suspicious about the room for maneuver he has to change his policy and the way he is dealing with some lobbies here — pro-Israeli lobbies — and is he able to change anything as to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to go beyond words? Because if you look at the first steps, some of the symbolic actions — for example, the fact that I am here with you today is coming from a symbolic act — we are opening up.

    There is a shift. So we have to be constructively positive on this. Now, up to which limit? How are we going to deliver? Is it going to follow on this? For example, when it comes to people still in jail for ideological reasons, this has to be changed. Guantanamo should stop. Reassessment of what is going on at the borders of this country — these are practical measures that are expected, and then beyond the discourse and the symbolic actions that we have. So I would say on this, we really need to see more than that. And still, I cannot be but critical on what is going on in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

    I have serious questions about supporting Karzai in Afghanistan and the way we are dealing with the reality of the Iraqi future today. This is, for me, problematic. I would have thought on some of these issues he would have been more effective. And were you one of a class of citizens who were banned? Or what were the circumstances around that? Nine days before coming, I was called by the American Embassy in Switzerland telling me that my visa has been revoked.

    I went, I reapplied, and they sent someone from Homeland Security who came all the way from here to Bern, and he was asking about my donations to organizations. I mentioned 10 organizations. Among them was one Palestinian organization supporting — and this was what I knew about them — educational projects in the occupied territories. And then, a few months later, I got the response that my new application was rejected because I gave money to an organization which was blacklisted in the States — because I gave this money.

    But they made a mistake. The first mistake is that for a European to live in Europe and to have an organization which is not blacklisted in Europe, it is quite normal that you can give money. This organization was even in touch and dealing with the mayor of Lille, who is now the first secretary of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry. She was dealing and still is dealing with this organization.

    And they have a twinning project with a Palestinian city. So this, for me — they were known. I got a letter from the American administration telling me, you should reasonably have known that they were connected to Hamas. My answer was, you mean by this that I should reasonably have known before your own administration that they were going to be blacklisted in the States. So this is what I call a silly reason. So the point is I got from the U. What is your position on Palestine? This was 80 percent of the questions that I got.

    This is, for me, an ideological exclusion because, at the end of the day, I lost a professorship at Notre Dame University. My project is not to come to teach in the States. I will be visiting the country. But in , it was quite heavy to face this. They asked me, who are you going to see? Where are you going to speak? And there were some questions. But this time they knew that I was coming and it took me three minutes.

    Very quick, very good — even faster than Switzerland. You were talking about dialogue with other Muslims. This understanding of the two Islamic traditions — a very narrow understanding and out of context because this has to do with people changing their religion in time of war, coming to the Muslim community and taking information and being, well, betrayers, in fact — they were betraying the community. So my position on this and On Faith — this was my position; I said this almost 20 years ago. And I have been going on within the Muslim-majority countries and in Muslim communities saying and repeating this.

    I have been criticized. I have been just put outside the realm of Islam. Then the mufti of Egypt even on On Faith also took a similar position by saying, the punishment is not to be killed. And you know what happened? He said this and then the council of scholars at Al-Azhar said, no, no, he was misunderstood. And he answered, saying, no, this is what I meant exactly. So there was a dialogue between him and the council. So my position is clear. And once again, I have been saying this for 20 years.

    They just reject this. There are people saying the West is at war with Islam. I am in between this. But the mainstream is experiencing this exactly. First, understand something which is quite important. It is not for Americans without the Muslims to face this. Because by doing this, by choosing the authority or the representative, you are alienating the whole community.

    Islam Questions and Answers - Psychological and Social Problems - 9781861793119

    Let the Muslims come with their people, and it could be diverse. When you are dealing with Christians, you are not just choosing the moderate Christians. You are choosing the people who are heard by the community, and they could be conservative. You have some vocal, conservative Christians in the country, some vocal Orthodox Jews in this country. They are quite strict, but they are heard. Was it merely to acquaint Muslims with new sciences or was it a pretext for preventing Muslims from benefiting from the knowledge of the Ahl al-Bayt , the true guardians of Revelation?

    Metaphysics was one of the many fields of knowledge—including such other sciences as logic, natural sciences, mathematics, medicine—that were introduced to Muslims from the Hellenic World through Arabic translations of Greek and Syrian works. Thus, whereas in the 1st century A.

    In this light, it may be correct to say that the translation of Greek philosophy into Arabic was undertaken for the purpose of isolating the Ahl al-Bayt.

    Role of Islam in the management of Psychiatric disorders

    But does this unjustifiable intention of the rulers of the time and their exploitation of the translation of Greek works of philosophy make engagement in metaphysical discussions a vanity? Is this historical reality a legitimate reason for us to refrain from dwelling on such discussions? Philosophy includes a variety of discussions that lead to proving the existence of the Omnipotent Designer, the Necessary Existent, His Unity, as well as the other Divine Attributes.

    It also deals with other such related topics as the doctrines of prophethood and Resurrection. If it does, then what need is there for such a philosophy. If, however, it does not, then it is an imperfect religion that is in need of Greek philosophy. Some of these elements find expression in detail and some are presented in brief. This is due to the fact that Islam addresses all people from all walks of life—the scholar and the layperson, the perceptive and the not-so-perceptive, the city-dweller and the country-dweller, man and woman.

    To embrace all people, Islam employs a language that is comprehensible to all so that all people could benefit from it in accordance with their varying intellectual capacities. To benefit at a higher level from doctrines so presented, so as to arrive at truths fathomable only to the more elevated minds, one would obviously have to arrange them in a certain order and to coin terms critical to this intellectual endeavor. This holds true not only in respect to philosophy but also to every other Islamic science.

    This, however, is an incorrect assumption. The incorrectness of this assumption may be demonstrated by considering the case of logic. The solution to this problem lies in the fact that the relation of logic to Islamic doctrine and that of the science of usul to questions of jurisprudence is one of method. To apply a particular method to a body of data is fundamentally different from adding something to it. In saying that Islamic philosophy reached a climax in the thought of Mulla Sadra, we mean that in comparison to prior developments of philosophy, it stands out at a much higher level and that it is more conducive to fathoming the True Knowledge.

    Like any other book, they may contain errors in their contents. One should at all times seek sound rational arguments without any concern for famous names. Hence, what distinguishes the two is that one is generally comprehensible whereas the other is expressed in a specialized language. To whom do such hadith s refer, and what do they mean? Let me also add that it is unreasonable to dismiss definitive apodictic reasoning in favor of dubitable reports? There were those who abandoned the turbulence of social upheavals to remain in seclusion, dedicating their life solely to reforming and purifying their soul.

    Uways al - Qarani and Kumayl were such figures. Of these men, some were martyred at the hands of the tyrants of the time and some lived a spiritual life until God embraced them at their natural death. This difference in attitude has also found manifestation in recent history. The question that this comparison raises is: should spiritual purification be sought in the midst of society or in a reclusive and isolated lifestyle? Which of the two methods is preferable and more effective in advancing the cause of Islam?

    This journey requires that we sever all attachments except our attachment to Him—inviolable is His Name. This is the path of perfection that Islam sets forth. It is so valuable that to succeed in attaining to even the lowest stages of this journey is a praiseworthy achievement. Indeed I am a manifest Warner to you from Him. However, it must be pointed out that Islam is a social religion that rejects monasticism and isolation. It exhorts the believers to engage in spiritual purification, to strengthen their faith, and to enhance their knowledge of God, all in the midst of the society, while interacting with other people.

    This was the approach that the devout Muslims of the early period of Islam—who had the privilege of living at the time of the Noble Imams and of receiving their guidance—embraced. Uways al-Qarani, the exemplar of Islamic piety, was martyred in the Battle of Siffin, fighting for the Master of the Faithful.

    That would be impossible. If, however, the universe was created beyond the limits of His Most Sacred Existence, it would be detached from Him; this would also be impossible. Another alternative that may be put forth—in Him do we seek refuge—is that His Existence is one and the same with other existents?

    But this entails the blasphemous theory of monism. So, the question is, how did God create the universe without it coming into conflict with His Sacred Existence? Well, in the first place, the question is flawed. It must be noted; however, that prior to creation of matter, there was no space. Thus, space and time are meaningless in relation to His existence; He does not have an inside or an outside; neither is He within anything nor is He external to anything. He is their Creator, and they His creatures. And in saying that He is with His creatures, we mean that His knowledge, power, and will encompass the cosmos, not that He shares the same space with them.

    How is the status of imamate superior to prophethood? He had brought for humankind a new book and a new Divine Law from God. This means that when God conferred on him the position of imamate, he had already been entrusted with the duty of guiding and preaching to humankind. Juxtaposing the above two points, it becomes clear that the guidance that an imam is responsible for is different from that for which a prophet is responsible.

    The guidance that is the responsibility of a prophet is to preach and to exhort people to embrace the true faith. The duty of an imam , on the other hand, is to shepherd humankind toward the True Destination. Thus, in addition to explicating the doctrines and practices of faith, an imam is in charge of correcting the conduct of the believers.

    He oversees the spiritual growth of the believers and directs their deeds in the way of God so that their actions would lead to the desirable end. All this proves that the Prophet was also the imam of his time. This is definitively attested to by the consensus of all Muslims. But how could this be true considering the variety of creatures we observe? Without doubt, an action is not identical with its agent; otherwise, it would require that a thing exist prior to its coming into existence, 54 which is impossible. Some are of the opinion that what we see—trees, stones, people, etc. Our existence is also just an illusion.

    Can you please address this problem? To say that what we see and hear is an illusion is self-defeating, for then this proposition would itself be an illusion and thus devoid of any value. Those who make such claims are either insane or maliciously spreading corrupt thoughts through deceitful sophistry. No one, in his right mind, would doubt the reality of the world. Even those who claim this world an illusion do not abide by their claim in practice; they pursue orderly lives; when hungry and thirsty, the idea that the world is an illusion does not dissuade them from seeking water and bread.

    Atheists argue that assuming that this world is in fact real, what place does God hold? Does He reside in between the objects of this world? What is your reply to such skepticism? As was explained above, such claims are at odds with rational reasoning and lack any logical ground. He is nothing other than existence [which takes the shape of the existents that populate our world]. There is no other meaningful interpretation for the concept of God.

    The various and changing forms we see around us constitute God. What you have quoted is an unfounded claim, an irrational contention. Whatever they may say is good only for them and must not worry others. Such baseless claims carry no weight. But leaving these hadith s aside, the verse in question seems to be indicating God, Who has always been and will always be. Your question refers to the philosophic discussion presented in volume 15, pp. According to the first viewpoint, God is a partial cause, whereas the second viewpoint acknowledges God as the complete cause.

    These two viewpoints are not, as might be assumed, in opposition to one another; only the second one is more accurate and better formulated. The first viewpoint observes the phenomena of this world in their outward appearance. When viewing this world prima facie, there is an evident multiplicity and separation among phenomena. Of the phenomena of this world, some are existentially prior to others. This reality is the foundation of the universal principle of causality.

    According to this principle every contingent being is in need of a cause that, if contingent, in turn needs a higher cause. This chain continues until it reaches the Essentially Necessary Existent, God, who is Self-sufficient. He is the source from which all contingent beings issue, whether directly in the case of the First Emanation or indirectly. This is the superficial viewpoint. From the second viewpoint, all contingent beings are bound together by an ontic dependency that is the result of the principle of causality.

    Thus, they form an organic whole, and God is the complete cause of this whole. Without doubt, the second viewpoint is grounded on a firmer foundation. This also applies to other attributes of perfection 64 —e. The attributes of perfection that exist within the realm of contingent beings are engendered and effused by the Necessary Existent and so depend on Him. God, however, possesses the attributes of perfection as the Essentially Independent and Self-Sufficient Being. This, however, is not correct.

    Among the verses to this effect are the following:. Then He made his progeny from an extract of base fluid. The term essential eternity applies to an existent that is free of the limitations of a delimited essence. It is impossible for such an existence to experience nonexistence, and consequently it is not susceptible to change in its essence, properties, or states. Obviously, matter does not fit this description. So, apparently your question is actually regarding temporal eternity [ qidam zamani ] not essential eternity.

    The answer is positive. Atom is composed of concentrated particles of energy, and as such atom is preceded by nonexistence. Based on this scientific fact, there must be a common material from which both matter and energy derive, whose sole property is receptivity to form, which gives it actuality. And since it is implausible that the form-giver i. Thus, the sensible world of existence is the activity of an eternal, immutable, and transcendent agent, that is, God—inviolable is His Name.

    In the world we inhabit, evil is all-pervasive; the human and the brute alike oppress the weak to the most extreme limits. We have all witnessed the awful scene of a weaker animal falling prey to the stronger predacious animal, which ends the life of the innocent prey in a most brutal fashion. Moreover, there is the question of those oppressed without an oppressor, such as children who come to this world with a congenital disability.

    Before giving an answer, I would like to draw your attention to an introductory point. The order of creation has been founded on the principle of cause and effect; the cosmos is governed by existential principles—not by sentiment—that allow of no exception. For instance, the property of fire is that it burns whatever it comes in contact with, be it the dress of a prophet or the attire of a tyrant. Carnivorous animals perish if deprived of meat, thus they must prey on other animals.

    This is what the order of creation has embedded in their biological construction, and so they are not guilty on account of this behavior, just as conscientious human beings eat meat without being oppressed by any sense of guilt. As has been elucidated elsewhere, injustice in the sense of encroaching on the rights of others or of discrimination in enforcing established rules exists solely in the context of human society.

    As such, natural disasters do not constitute injustice. They may be referred to as adversity [ sharr ]. It should, however, be borne in mind that a natural disaster is an adversity in relation to the injured party, but in relation to the cause of the disaster, it is a good, for it is the natural effect of its cause. The disability of a six-month-old infant is an adversity, a deprivation not injustice caused by certain natural factors.

    The hardship that a dog inflicts on a cat is an inevitable adversity, not an injustice. Thus, the cat inflicts the same on a mouse. Injustice is meaningful only in the context of human society. The human being has innumerable needs owing to his various natural faculties and his freewill , many of which he cannot satisfy individually.

    For this reason, human beings come together to form societies. But for the preservation of social life, there must be a body of binding regulations that would secure, if complied with, the interests of the constituent individuals. These interests vary, of course, depending on the social position of each individual. In the framework of these regulations certain inalienable rights are defined for every individual. These rights must be honored; their violation is by law forbidden. It is the violation of these contractual rights that constitutes injustice. Similarly, the punishment inflicted on a criminal, though unpleasant for him, is just—.

    In your letter, 74 you [i. But what sort of perfection does cat meat obtains by becoming dog meat? It is, however, a sophisticated concept whose exposition is beyond the scope of a letter such as this. Everything in the world, including all the attributes of perfection, belongs indisputably to God. All that we enjoy, from the most insignificant to the most cherished, are blessings He has bestowed on us. He bestows these blessings without any merit on our part.

    There is no greater power that could coerce Him into doing something or restrain Him from doing something.