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SABA Center's New Shia Islam

Saturday, March 26, 2006
"سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ" (الإسراء)
"Glory be to God Who took His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We (God) did bless." (Quran 17:1)
"Glory be to God Who took His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We (God) did bless." (Quran 17:1)
Last Laylat-ol-Jumu'aah (Thursday night - March 23, 2006), I went to the center of the Shia Muslim Association of the Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center) to attend Islamic Shia services. After the congregational invocation of Du'a Komail, I headed to the hall where the English program was offered. I indeed strongly believe that English Shia Islamic programs are the most important programs to be offered in our country. English is not only our national first language, but it is also the language of our American-born youths. And our youths are the future of Islam in America.

Not surprisingly, the attendees of the English Shia Islamic program at SABA Center were mostly teenagers. The speaker was not an Islamic scholar but he was very gracious and kindhearted. He discussed the word "Islam" and explained that it has numerous meanings because "Islam is a way of life." He then emphasized that boys ought to highly respect their sisters. He also explained to the attendees that they are the Ambassadors of Islam in America.

Praise be to God in all matters, all was acceptable until the Shia youths started posing questions to the speaker. When asked about shaving beards, he was true to his own personal beliefs and offered highly subjective answers to the youths. He explained to them that he personally used to shave his beard because, in his own words, "I do not believe it is wajeb [mandatory]" to maintain facial hair. He added that "Islam is not about nitty-gritty." The speaker continued "my interpretation of Islam is what I consider realistic." He advised the audience: "Use your own intellect."

It is obvious that the speaker is an intelligent, inquisitive, and opinionated man who maintains personal philosophical integrity. He in fact worked at Apple Computers and Sun Microsystems, where he used to wear a green turban in public. The speaker, like everyone else, is indeed entitled to have his own opinions. Yet, at an Islamic Shia center operating under the religious authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ayatollah Ali Sistani, there is no room for the projection of personal beliefs and deductions on the issues of halal (the allowed) and haram (the forbidden).

I indeed hail the speaker for publicly voicing his beliefs but condemn the carelessness of the SABA Center management, which is creating the space for non-conformists to use the podium, unsupervised, to contradict the teaching of the Maraje al-Izam (Greater Islamic Shia Jurisprudents).

I have addressed the issue of facial hair with both Nabi Raza Abidi, the Imam of SABA Center, and Syed Mudassir Ali Shah Moosvi, the Imam of Azakhana-e-Zahra, PBUH, and they both assured me that it is haram (forbidden) for the Shia-Muslim men to shave-off their beards. Hence the maintenance of facial hair is not a matter of debate and personal opinion.

I invite the SABA management to get their act together and stop focusing on offering "PARALLEL" Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu programs to middle-aged and elderly Mumins (devout Muslims) who are, in the words of Hossein Falahati, "half-alems" and concentrate on doing proper tabligh to the English-speaking youths and potential converts.

It is sad that there were three professional Shia mullahs at SABA on Thursday, March 23, 2006, busy offering Shia Islamic programs in foreign languages while the all-important English program was left to the mercy of personal opinions.

It seems that there are some people in the San Francisco Bay Area who are going out of their way and putting a lot of energy to attract the Mumins who frequent the other Islamic Shia centers into their own center. We question the motives of these people. We ask them: "Is it money for your center that you are after?" If so, would not that be at the expense of the other Islamic Shia centers?

We invite the Mumins to support and insure the success of ALL Islamic centers, particularly new and small ones such as Masjid Al-Rasool of Campbell. These and the other masjids are a responsibility attached to our necks. On Judgment Day, we shall be asked about what we have done for these mosques, for they are Houses of God!

A good Islamic center is one that is established on the basis of taqwa, not greed and selfishness. The keyword to the success of any Islamic project is ithar: Altruism. Know this: If your efforts lead to the failure or suffering of others, then there are no blessings in your deeds and life and no permanence to your schemes.
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Monitoring & combatting Hezbollah's ideology of Khomeinism, Islamofascism, totalitarianism & terrorism (Absolute Velayat-e Faqih). Promoting freedom & liberty.
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