Had it not been for his coherent explanations on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Avicenna would probably never have been able to understand it; he read Aristotle forty times, but it was just through the straightforward and comprehensive commentaries of Al Farabi that he finally realized Aristotle’s ideas on Metaphysics.
The great Muslim philosopher, logician, and cosmologist, Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad Farabi, was born in 872 A.D. in Farab, Khurasan, to Iranian parents. He spent most of his life in Baghdad and from a very early youth started learning the teachings of Islam and the Holy Quran under the training of the best Islamic philosophers and scholars. He traveled to many countries, including Egypt and Syria. He died in 950 or 951 A.D. in Damascus, Syria.
In philosophy, he is considered to be the second in rank after Aristotle, and is called “the second teacher” and on some occasions “the second master” . His wise and easy to understand explanations shed a clear light on the complex philosophy of Aristotle, to the point that many western philosophers owed their appreciation of “the first teacher”’s philosophy to Al-Farabi .
Moreover, he is the founder of Islamic philosophy. He genuinely believed in the existence of the first cause -God, Allah- and admitted the limits of human knowledge in understanding the nature of it .
In one of his most notable works “Al-Madina Al-Fadila” (The Virtuous City) which is basically about political philosophy, he argues that the favorable form of government is the one ruled by a prophet or Imam. Accordingly, the city of Medina when it was ruled by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the ideal kind of society that would ultimately guide human beings to everlasting felicity both in this world and the world that is to come.
He also criticized those philosophers who do not utilize their knowledge for the benefit of their society. He compared the philosopher's role in society with a physician’s relation to the body; the body's health is affected by the 'balance of its humors just as the city is determined by the moral habits of its people. The philosopher's duty, he says, is to establish a ‘virtuous’ society by healing the souls of people, establishing justice, and guiding them towards 'true happiness' .
He was also a grandmaster of music; “He is said to have created musical compositions. To this day there are melodies in Anatolian music and rags in classical North Indian music attributed to him, sung and performed by masters of these musical genres”. His famous book on music, Kitab al-musiqi al-Kabir ("The Great Book of Music"), is the study of the theory of Persian music and the philosophical principles of music, its cosmic qualities, and influence.
His other well-known book is called Kitab ihsa al-ulum ("On the Introduction of Knowledge"). It consists of eight parts, each dealing with one branch of science such as linguistics, logic, mathematics, astronomy, metaphysics, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic science of dialectic and discourse, as well as politics.
Finally, Al-Farabi, one of the greatest Muslim philosophers, is a universal phenomenon whose innovative and sensible ideas marked a turning point in the history of philosophy. His philosophy was easy to understand and apply to real-life which is the essence of the sharia of Islam; a religion with rules that are highly compatible with human nature and if followed would bring satisfaction as well as peace.
- Ian Richard Netton. “al-Farabi, Abu Nasr" .Islamic Philosophy from the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- F.W Zimmermann, Al-Farabi 's Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle 's De Interpretation, Oxford, 1981.
- Ian Richard Netton. Breaking with Athens: Alfarabi as Founder, Applications of Political Theory by Christopher A.Colmo".
- Charles Butterworth. Ethical and Political Philosophy in Adamson, P, and Taylor, R. The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy
- Hussein Nasr, Mehdi Aminrazavi. “An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia," Vol. 1: From Zoroaster to ‘Umar Khayyam”, I.B.
- Hamid Taleb Zadeh. Philosophy (Introduction to Islamic philosophy) the field of humanity, for pre-university students.
When it comes to fasting, many questions might come to mind. Is it even healthy? Is it safe? Does it benefit my fitness goals? Those are the very most typical questions that are asked by the public about fasting. The purest form of fasting, as I am sure you have heard of it, is that of intermittent fasting (IF). Which happens to be good for your health, apt to your fitness goals, and safe.
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular health and fitness trends nowadays, except that it `is´ not, but `has been´ for thousands of years, practiced by different societies and cultures for a wide range of variable causes. Whether a Zen monk, yogi, Tibetan monk about the Himalayas, or a participant of any Abrahamic or dharmic faith, they all have one thing in common; and that is that they all have fasted.  As mentioned in the Holy Quran, “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous(2:183) and as Imam Baqir (AS) has said “Islam has five pillars, and those are: the Prayers (Salat), the alms-tax (Zakat), the holy Pilgrimage (Haj), fasting (of Ramadhan) (Sawm), and the leadership (Imamate),” further centering on the importance of Fasting . Moreover, as the Prophet (PBUH&HP) bids, “All that it is due of Zakat, and Fasting is that of the body´s” .
Fasting in Islam is a symbol of freeing oneself from false earthly desires to a more grandiose world, in which possibilities are limitless and power is infinite. In fact, we are too driven by day-to-day life that we never contemplate the things that matter anymore, or at the very least, we do not get to do so. Imam Sadiq (AS) has bid, “Allah has manifested fasting as an obligation to bring equality between the poor and the rich” .
Such spiritual undertakings such as fasting and praying have a single most important thing in common, and that is the essence of the present moment. The more engaged one is with the high vibrational energies of the moment, the less compulsive and unconscious one becomes. Now we can say that acts like prayers (which brings awareness and facilitates brain and heart coherence) and meditations separate us a little bit from the compulsive and sub-conscience-driven life style of the modern society.
But, imagine you were introduced to a life style of letting go of compulsive behaviours, thoughts, and actions; and deeply become more integrated into the present moment in which high vibrational energies reside. Ramadhan provides this opportunity for over a billion Muslims and the people of other faiths who fast because of the fun it brings, and all fasting acts for that matter. It is very important to know that we are being so driven by life that we don’t know what fun is anymore. We are so reactive nowadays, that we are no more proactive towards our lives, being triggered left and right by what the scholars call super-stimuli (over-stimulating aspects of the modern society, which our cave-man brains have not adapted to its bursts evolutionary-wise) , which our ancestors did not dispose of until as late as late twentieth century. With the rise of super-stimuli, and the further adaptation, but not evolution, of the human brain to the dopamine (the motivation, and reward neurotransmitter) hits, we live a life of chasing phantoms(reliefs) and not challenges.
One of the hot topics of modern productivity is the deactivation of the brain´s reward centre for a period of time. Our brain´s reward centre has become very reactive, and non-proactive, and keeps on rewarding us a little shot of dopamine, whether craving a cigarette, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or even as far as watching pornography and binge eating for several hours. Activities which have been proven to deliberately deteriorate our physical state . Yet, our brain´s reward centre keeps hitting us with feel-good chemicals. This process goes on and on as far as lowly losing the initial sensation to the initial amount, bringing up the threshold, hence; the excessive habit loop. During Ramadan, though, we break the bad old habits, we become new, as whole as a little baby, as though we have had our serotonin (wellness neurotransmitters) re-set button pushed. Fasting is not only about freeing oneself from food, but rather from all other super-stimuli, such as; negativity, excessive sexual activities, and spilling stimulating liquids down our throats all day long.
Now, we are freed of compulsive unconscious behaviours, and embrace the true happiness of life, the state of blissfulness and joy which is what we are born with. We can sit down not eating, not drinking, not engaging in highly stimulating activities and still feel joy, and a continuous state of happiness, what had since long been robbed of us by the advancements of the modern society. We can feel great now, with the strongest paradigm of manifestation, as mentioned by David R. Hawkins, the one and only superior paradigm to all others: being.  Not having, not doing, but simply letting go of the earthly, and connect to the great source of all consciousness that is “God”. As Imam Ali (AS) said “Fasting is as much staying aloof of the taboos as it is staying away of eating” .
Studies have shown that the time restricted feeding (TRF) or intermittent fasting (IMF) leads to more weight loss, which is clearly manifested in the Islamic approach to fasting. Consuming more calories in the morning has shown to be more effective than that of evening, as far as metabolism, weight loss, and prevention of obesity-which has come to be a major epidemic in the developing nations. There are self-reports of significant decrease in the volume of the fat tissues under skin which distort the good looks of our bodies. Referred experiments prove that the TRF significantly decreases the body fat, but does not affect the weight in short period of 15 days. Although more weight loss upon hitting a 30 days threshold is expected. 
Although cutting calories from everyday diet has quite similar effects like the IMF, Small reductions in total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting glucose and insulin with IMF have been reported in several studies. The greatest decrease of which is in bad cholesterol contributing to a lesser chance of suffering from heart diseases.
Health benefits of fasting encompasses far greater areas than that of the physical health. It mentally alleviates the individual, and activates a new set of body-substances , which grants us to focus on long-term goals and areas of our lives, and become more process-oriented than result-oriented, and adapts our brain´s reward centre to long-term rewards rather than short-term pleasures. Fasting is very complex, common people have been observed achieve the uncommon by long-term fasting; in fact, so complex that by all advancements in medical science, delving deeper into the topic is an area of future investigations.
- Armutcu, Ferah. (2019). Fasting may be an alternative treatment method recommended by physicians.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Forou Kafi, vol. 4, Pg. 62, 1.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Al-Kafi, vol. 4, Pg. 62, 3.
- Muhammad ibn Babawayh , Man La Yahdaraho al-Faqih, vol. 6, Pg. 43, 1.
- de Zwaan, M. Binge eating disorder and obesity.
- Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, Pg. 249,
- Erik H. Cohen, Rachel Sagee et Rivka Reichenberg, « Being, Having and Doing Modes of Existence
- Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding Compared to Continuous Energy Restriction for Weight Loss.
There are many cruel incidents in the history of humankind, in which millions of people have been violently killed. Two of the deadliest and the most notorious wars in the history each of us know and have heard about are the First and the Second World Wars, with an ultimate death toll estimated at over 100 million people. An indisputable fact about the Second World War is that it wiped out around 3 percent of the world population at the time. Some other gruesome conflicts the world has ever seen, with large numbers of casualties, include: Chinese Civil War (1850-1864,25 million deaths), Qing Conquests (17th Century, 25 million deaths), War of Three Kingdoms, 2nd & 3rd Centuries CE, 38 million deaths), Mongol Invasions (13th & 14th Centuries, 55 million deaths), and etc.
Have you heard the names of the latter wars before? If yes, can you recall who the oppressors and the oppressed ones were? Why don’t people commemorate the anniversary of these important battles each year? Why isn't there so much passion, excitement, or motivation to honor the heroes that fought courageously in those wars?
There is one battle in the history of the human race, however, that has not faded from the memory of humans yet- after about fourteen hundred years-, is still commemorated and celebrated year after year with more passion, love, and excitement. That is the anniversary of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions’ martyrdom at the battle of Karbala on the 10th of Muharram of the year 61 AH.
Why do you think the reason behind Imam Hussain's (AS) movement was that made it endure so long? Whereas many other wars throughout history during which millions of oppressed people have been killed, have been forgotten?!
While for many leaders and commanders of wars, the only purpose is to gain victory by any means, for Imam Hussain (AS), the end does not justify the means. What mattered to him more than anything else in the battle of Karbala was the values, not the victory in its apparent sense. He never disregarded human values or committed even one minor sin to achieve his purpose.
He did not also seek out a large army to fulfill his aim, whereas most of the other commanders always try to increase their troops in wars. It is narrated in an account, on the night before Ashura, Imam Hussain (AS) asked all his companions to leave Karbala without any restrictions to save their own lives.
If you take a look at the general overviews of why wars happen, you will clearly see people have been involved in wars for some common reasons over the years. Some of these reasons include: economic gain, territorial gain, nationalism, taking revenge, etc.
Imam Hussain (AS), however, fought in the battle of Karbala for none of the reasons above. He did not want to invade or conquer a city or a country, nor did he want to impose his beliefs and religion upon people. The only thing he aimed in his movement was not to be oppressed by a cruel tyrant. He was unwilling to compromise with the tyrant of his time because he had violated their very fundamental human rights. He put his life and his family at risk to recognize and maintain human dignity.
As mentioned above, while many warriors of either side of the battle have different motives to fight, like financial gains, promotions, etc., Imam Hussain (AS)’s companions in the battle of Karbala fought for no other reason than sincerely following in their Imam’s footstep and remain loyal to him. They didn’t even long for Heaven or the rewards of Hereafter. In an account, on the day of Ashura at noon prayer, one of Imam Hussain (AS)’s companions -named Saeed bin Abdullah Hanafi- saved Imam’s life, shielding him against arrows and spears thrown to him and other prayer performers. He continued doing this until the prayers finished. He then fell down before his Imam (AS), saying: “O son of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) of Allah! Have I fulfilled my promise?” “Yes! You have,” the Imam replied. Saeed bin Abdullah then left this world smiling.
And on the night before Ashura Imam Hussain (AS) once again gave all his companions the opportunity to rethink their choice and freely decide whether to stay or leave. However, they not only did not leave or escape –as many other warriors in different battles- but insisted on staying with the Imam (AS) in spite of all the dangers that were threatening their lives and families. They resisted to the last drop of their blood, and courageously declared their loyalty to their Imam (AS).
And finally, when it comes to the way different sides of a battle deal with their enemies, the only things that come to your mind are probably humiliation, disrespect, foul language, etc. But these are not even close to how Imam Hussain (AS) treated his enemy. He recognized his enemy’s dignity as a human being in the most challenging situations, never insulted or disrespected them, and seized every opportunity to invite them to peace and stop the war.
So these were very few reasons why Imam Hussain (AS)’s movement has not faded from our memory; because this historical event is an enlightening and life-giving truth that nurtures self-sacrificing, honest, and moral people who treat everyone with dignity and respect even when confronted with the enemy. That’s why when Arbaeen comes, about twenty million people head for Karbala since Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions did not fight for worldly desires. They fought for eternity, and for the sake of their creator, Allah Almighty.