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.
Ramadan is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims perform fasting (Sawm), one of the key practices in the religion of Islam. However, aside from being a month of fasting, Ramadan provides Muslims with the opportunity to engage more in their routine religious activities and have a fuller experience of an Ideal Islamic life. There is more to this month, then, that makes it a special time. Let’s see.
Ramadan is a door that has been opened to get Muslims nearer to Allah and to feel His presence more in their lives. This is the time when Allah forgives most and rains down His blessings more than any other time which can wipe away our sins and mistakes [i]. If we knew the real value of this month and were aware of all its rewards, we would wish every month to be Ramadan, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) believed .
We are so close to Allah in this month and so occupied with his divine remembrance that no time will be left for us to think or do what is not good for us, or what is against Allah’s command. So the inward and outward evil stay far from us in this month of mercy, and it has been promised by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that in Ramadan, “the gates of hell are sealed, and the gates of heaven are wide open, and the devils are chained” .
Ramadan begins with mercy, continues to bring forgiveness from Allah and ends in granting our wishes and salvation from what has contaminated our souls . It is a time to think about our past mistakes and to make up for them, to make them right.
One of the prominent attributes of Allah is His excessive forgiveness and mercy which reveals itself manifestly and in a fuller sense in the month of Ramadan. It is as if Allah has held us tightly in His embrace and washed away whatever has separated us from Him, and we would be like a child who has just been born, like a soul united with its source. So, when is a better time to be forgiven than this month? .
In this beautiful month, the whole content of the Quran was revealed to the heart of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in an immediate revelation [ii],  & . Therefore, this month can be considered as the birth of the holy Quran [iii], and Muslims celebrate this birth through dedicating more time and attention to this holy book.
Thus, reading the Quran with careful consideration and pondering on its deep meanings is highly recommended during the month of Ramadan and it is considered to be more rewarding, to the extent that reading one verse of the Quran is equaled to reading all of it [iv]& [v]. In the month when Allah is closer to us more than ever, He desires to speak to us through the Quranic words, just as we speak to Him, through our prayers.
There are three nights in this month [vi], called the nights of Qadr [vii], one of which is considered to be the night when Quran was revealed to the heart of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in an immediate revelation by the Archangel Gabriel. However, we are not sure which of these nights is exactly the night of Qadr. Therefore we commemorate all of these three nights.
According to the Quran: “The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months”(97:3); in other words, the reward of any good deed in this night is a thousand times more than any other night or occasion . Muslims celebrate this night by staying awake throughout the night until the time of Dawn prayer (Salat al-Fajr), supplicating to Allah and asking for His forgiveness of their past deeds and guidance for their future actions.
The night of “Qadr is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. It is a tribute to the commencement of the message revealed to mankind by their Creator, a message which shows them the way to achieve happiness in both worlds” .
Aside from being the night in which our sins are forgiven, according to some narrations (Hadith), the night of Qadr is also the night of our destiny; the night in which our fate in the next year is foreseen by Allah [viii], .
Finally, life is too short, and chances are slipping away from your hands like spring clouds . Ramadan is one of these chances, to look back and build a better future. It is a starting point, or shall we say a turning point! So embrace this holy month.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The month of Ramadan is the month of Allah, and a month in which Allah highlights the virtues and wipes away the sins, this is the month of blessing” .
[ii] It is believed that there are two kinds of revelation for the Quran, the immediate revelation that occurred in one of the nights of Qadr and the gradual revelation which sent down to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the span of twenty-three years of his prophethood .
[iii] Imam Baqer (AS) said: “There is a spring for everything, and the spring of Quran is the month of Ramadan”. 
[iv] Imam Reza (AS) said: “whoever read a verse of Allah’s book [Quran] in the month of Ramadan, it would be equal to his/her reading of the whole of Quran in other months” .
[v] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Read Quran abundantly during the month [of Ramadan]” .
[vi] 19th, 21st and 23rd of Ramadan.
[vii]. Qadr literally means measure.
[viii]. Note that the concept of destiny or Qadr is not in conflict with human beings freedom of choice in Islam. For more information see Men and Destiney by Murtada Mutahari.
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol.93, p.340, 346 & 348.
- Usul al-Kafi, vol.4, p.67.
- Sheikh al-Sadugh, Amali, p.53.
- (44: 3), (97:1), (2:185)
- For further information, see: Al-Mizan, vol. 8, pp. 130-134; vol. 2, pp. 14-23; vol. 13, pp. 220-221.
- Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.360, Hadith no. 10.
- Sheikh al-Sadugh, Fazail al-Ashhar al-Salasah (the benefits of three months), p. 95.
- Muhammad ibn Hassan Tussi, Tahdib al-Ahkam, vol.4, p.332.
- Imam Ali (AS), Nahj al-Balaghah, wisdom no. 21.
- Shaykh as-Saduq, A Shi'ite Creed, p. 60.
“Modesty and faith are connected with one another just like two things fastened by a rope. If one of them is gone, the other is also lost” . Imam Baqir (AS). Modesty is a special sense that prevents one from saying inappropriate words and making mistakes. It refers to an uncomfortable feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused by one's anxiety about being exposed to some unworthy or indecent conduct. This concept, as one of the highest and most fundamental moral qualities, is known as Haya in Islam. Modesty in Islam describes shyness and shame, but Haya represents a more profound implication that is based on faith. In many sayings (Hadiths), it has been quoted that modesty is linked with faith and originates from it [1, 2]. Hence, it is one of the most important characteristics that every Muslim should acquire and possess ; particularly Muslim women (“haya is a good characteristic for all, but is better for women” ).
There are two types of modesty: natural and acquired. An example of the former is the feeling of shyness and humility naturally occurring in a young child that makes him/her cover the private parts of the body from others. Or, in the story of Eve and Adam (PBUT) where they realize their nakedness and try to hide their genitals. This kind of modesty is common sense that exists within all human beings, believer or non-believer: “God Almighty divided the modesty among people just as He divided the provision” , and what differentiates them from animals: “If modesty did not exist … the promises wouldn’t be kept … Nobody would do any good, and nobody would refrain from the evil … if it weren’t for modesty, many people wouldn’t stop sinning.” . Modesty serves as a cover on the soul that conceals the defects and calms down wrath and lust . No one can, therefore, justify his/her sins and mistakes because of not being naturally given a sense of modesty.
The latter, on the other hand, can be only attained as a result of knowing and perceiving the Glory of Allah and minding His presence everywhere and in every second. In Islamic ethics, modesty is more than just a question of how a person dresses and acts in social interactions; instead, it is reflected in a Muslim’s conduct before God, before others, and even when one is alone.
Modesty towards others entails that one has decent and reasonable behavior in public, avoids indecent talks and vain activities, and respects everyone around him/her. If one has developed this ethical aspect within him/her and obeyed this sense, he/she will become ashamed when someone notices him doing something wrong. This feeling will be even worse when the other person is in a higher position. This, consequently, stops him/her from repeating that action.
To clarify the importance of modesty towards people, Imam Ali (AS) said that the evilest of all is who is not ashamed of his actions in front of people .
Modesty towards others includes especially the opposite gender and involves not gazing at them , harming them in any way or indulging in any forbidden (Haram) relation with them. In Surah Nur, Allah guides both men and women to the key to modesty by saying that believing men and women should lower their gaze and guard their modesty (24:30-31).
A good instance of modesty in the interactions between opposite genders is described in Surah Qasas, verses 23-26, between the daughters of Shoaib (PBUH) and Moses (PBUH). These verses demonstrate that the daughters of the prophet work and appear in society, but they care about how they interact with others; they concentrate on what they should do without having unnecessary dialogues with men. They communicate as much as necessary, with respect and dignity. Their speech is direct and clear-cut with Moses, so are Moses’s words. Even the way they both walk is with care and shyness .
Modesty towards oneself means that a person treats himself fairly in private. It is caused by the unpleasant feeling that arises when thinking of or doing something improper which consequently stops one from forbidden (Haram) thoughts or illicit acts. It was mentioned that when one does something indecent and suddenly notices the presence of others, he becomes ashamed (if he still possesses the natural modesty that is laid within his soul); a higher level of Haya is being ashamed of oneself when no one else is present. This kind of modesty is known as the yield of faith: “The shame a person feels from himself originates from [his] faith.” .
Modesty towards God is called the best level of modesty : “be modest in front of Allah for He has a right to your modesty” . To accomplish this, one should first believe that nothing can be concealed from God “Does he not know that Allah sees [him]?” (96:14). In fact, Allah sees and knows everything, and is closer to humans more than themselves: “and We are nearer to him than [his] jugular vein” (50:16). Consequently, a modest person toward God will avoid any indecent act, in public or private, and will leave sinful thoughts behind.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 75, p. 309.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106, T. 5.
- A. Q. Payande, “Nahj Al-Fasahah”, p. 578, T. 2006.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 135.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Mofazzal monotheism”, Chapter: Human Senses.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, no. 223
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5464
- M. B. Majlesi, "Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 40.
- N. Makarem Shirazi, “Tafsir Nemooneh”, vol. 16, p 58-59.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 4944.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5451.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 462.