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.
Every year on the 20th of Safar, the second month in Hijri Calendar, a huge number of people from all over the world, Muslim or even non-Muslim, gather in Iraq to take part in a symbolic walk. People of Iraq for months before this day, eagerly prepare themselves to welcome the visitor of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. They find it a great honor to serve those who are participating in this event and are paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. Iraq on this period becomes the site of the purest and most humane manifestations.
But, one might wonder what is the reason behind all these efforts? Why would someone walk a long distance, bearing all the difficulties on his/her way, to reach a shrine? What is it that drives this huge number of people here?
In what follows, you will find out about Arbaeen and the ceremonial walk on this day.
Arbaeen is the Arabic word for forty, and it marks the 20th of Safar, the fortieth day after Imam Hussain’s (AS) martyrdom on the day of Ashura, who was martyred in the event of Karbala along with his companions in the cruelest and most inhumane way possible.
After the event of Karbala, Imam Hussain’s (AS) family including his sister Lady Zainab (AS) and his son Imam Sajjad (AS), were taken as prisoners to Sham (Damascus) to Yazid’s court. Imam Hussain’s (AS) head was also sent to Yazid’s court along with his family .
According to some historical accounts , some of the members of Imam Hussain’s (AS) family after being released from the bondage of Yazid forces, returned to Karbala from Sham (Today’s Damascus) to visit Imam Hussain’s (AS) grave. Also, some believe that Imam Hussain’s (AS) head which was taken to Sham by Yazid’s army was brought back to Karbala on this day and buried with his body  & .
But these are not the only reasons behind the commemoration of Arbaeen every year. Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is one of the recommended deeds at any time of the year, especially in Arbaeen [i]. Also, Imam Baqer (AS) enumerates the several benefits of this action. These include the increase in wealth, acceptance of prayers by Allah, longer life, and pardoning of the sins .
But, why would visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine be of such importance? It is not where we are visiting, but who we are visiting and what he taught us that makes this action so worthy of attention. In fact, in paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine, we try to remind ourselves of these two messages:
1. To never surrender to injustice and oppression, as Imam Hussain (AS) did not yield to the tyrant of his time.
2. To always be eager in improving and reforming ourselves and our society, as Imam Hussain (AS) answered people’s call for improvement and did his best to help them, despite the fact that his will remained unfulfilled due to his enemies’ deception.
Now, we can better understand the Prophet’s (AS) conviction that Imam Hussain’s (AS) personality would forever guide the humanity toward everlasting peace and success. And ignoring the values he emphasized would cause eternal distress and calamity .
Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is more recommended on some occasions, especially Arbaeen which could be because of the history of this day. Yet, this does not mean that this action cannot be done on any other days of the year.
But, this is not the only reason for this huge number of people to gather together on this day. In fact, they are all driven by the lasting message that Imam Hussain (AS) left for us through his courageous and rightful movement. That is the urge to stand against injustice, oppression and to strive in the way of improving their situation socially or individually. Arbaeen walk is where people reunite to commemorate these lessons of Imam Hussain’s (AS) revolution together.
The journey on foot from Najaf to Karbala which is called Arbaeen walk takes almost three days. But, everything is ready for those who want to take part in this life-changing walk. Many camps (Mawkib) are prepared on this way by people voluntarily which provide free food and accommodations for the respected pilgrims of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine.
Muslim or non-Muslim, a large number of people take part on this journey. According to the Independent: “Nusayyef al-Khattabi, who heads the Karbala provincial council, said he expected the total number of visitors over several days to range ‘between 17 million and 20 million’” .
While Arbaeen Walk is one of the greatest Muslim gatherings, it is not an obligatory ritual. In other words, it cannot be considered as one of the practical principles of Islam (e.g., prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), Khums, Hajj, etc.) which a Muslim is required to perform. Participating in this journey is totally up to your choice, decision, and interest. Yet, Arba’een walk is a recommended ritual which carries many spiritual benefits for the one who takes part in it.
Anyone, from any nationality, religion or any age, can join this walk. This is a gathering of those who respect humanity and peace, are after making changes for the better and do not surrender to injustice. As Imam Hussain (AS) believed being free-spirited and honest is what guarantees human dignity . So, as long as you believe in these values, you are most welcomed on this journey.
It only takes your decision. And you might need to prepare some necessary things to carry with you in this walk. Also, it is better to be both physically and spiritually ready for this experience. Since, like many other life-changing experiences, it has its own hardships and challenges.
Note that the walk starts three days before Arba’een so that you will reach Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Karbala on this day. So, you should start your journey from the 17th of Safar and finish it on 20th.
While visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Arba’een is a recommended deed, what matters most is to be aware of the philosophy behind this action. Imam Hussain’s (AS) universal and all-encompassing message, is not limited to an especial location or a specific time .
We can declare our commitment to Imam Hussain’s (AS) cause anywhere and at any time. So, if you couldn't manage to take part in Arba’een’s ceremony, there are some actions that would help you benefit from this occasion spiritually, such as reciting the Ziarat al-Arba’en or Ziarat al-Ashura. The least you can do is to send your peace and salutations to Imam Hussain (AS) wherever you may be:
Peace be upon Hussain (AS) and Ali ib al-Hussain and Hussain’s children and Hussain’s companions 
[i] Imam Hassan al-Askari (AS) told in a hadith that, among the signs of a faithful person, is visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine .
- for more information see Salam Islam’s ebook: 40 Points about Imam Hussain (AS) and the Event of Karbala
- Ibn Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa, Al-Luhuf 'ala qatla l-tufuf, Uswi, Qom, 1414 AH.
- Al-Biruni, Abu Rayhan, The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries, p.331.
- Qazi al-Tabataii, Muhammad Ali, A Research on the first Arba’een of the Leader of Martyrs (Imam Hussain (AS)), vol.3, p.304.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.239.
- Hashim al Bahrani, Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol.3, p.232.
- Shaykh Tusi, Tahdhib al-Ahkam , vol.6, p.52.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p.49.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.309.
- Ziarat al-Ashura
If you have ever experienced such hard conditions in life that you see your life or other peoples’ lives completely purposeless or absolutely miserable and you may have thought of killing yourself or ending miserable peoples’ lives, then I suggest you read this text to the end and realize why suicide in Islam is strictly forbidden.
Although I know that if you are close to one of those highly hopeless phases of your life, you may even wish to kill me over the net!!! But, you probably have no important task right now, as you probably don’t care. So read on and do not lose your opportunity of accompanying me in this meaningless life!
Have you ever come across a person who is seriously ill, and his existence seems to be real trouble for himself and his family members? He stays all day in bed, with no capability of moving, or talking or transferring emotions or anything else, and he lives a plant life. Have you ever thought that killing such a useless and incapable person would bring more mental, physical and economic benefits to the society?
These thoughts and many other thoughts that may be on your mind, and may have remained unanswered for ages, can make life meaningless. But let us see how our creator answers these types of thoughts;
All human beings try to reach high positions in life, whether economic, social, political, educational, physical or spiritual. Some people reach those high positions, and many of them remain normal people in society. Among those who think that they have not achieved such reasonable positions in life, there is a group who has never set a real goal to achieve and have only dreamt of those situations.
But there are also a group of people who have set realistic goals and tried hard to achieve them, but they have never been successful. A percentage of the latter group may become disappointed and may think of this life as a pointless life, and some of them may think of suicide.
The tragedy that repeats in the history of humankind, and has been the reason for many suicide attempts is a broken heart, and not gaining the love of your life. People, who are not in love, may think that the suicidal decisions of disappointed lovers are very shallow and childish. But the person, who is trapped in the hands of powerful love, sees nothing more important than reaching the love of his/ her life.
The worldly loves may not be limited to the opposite sex only. Some people desire wealth, different jobs, cars, buildings, and towers, or even knowledge. This sort of love can also remain unattained and lead people toward disappointment.
Some people face problems in every aspect of their life. It can be individual problems such as debt, disease, family problems, loneliness, etc. Or it could be much bigger than that; social problems, war, the unjust power of imperialism and capitalism, environmental pollutions or the spread of oppression in the world.
These great issues are enough to make one totally disillusioned with living in this cruel world and to lead him toward ending his/ her life.
In all the issues mentioned above, that may take a person to the point of hopelessness, God gives us guidelines and answers. He says in the Holy Quran that most of the hardship that human beings go through is to test their level of faith and to distinguish those who are truthful and those who verbally talk about faith with no real belief in it (29: 2-3).
The life of this world is only a place for us to prove our capabilities and talents for greater eternal life, and in this path, only the patient will win;
“We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient.” (2: 155)
Imagine that you have entered a challenge or a test. In the middle of the tackle, you find it really hard that you feel like you cannot take it anymore. Will you stop the challenge and decide to kill yourself, or will you think about your goals and keep going with the rest of your energy?
Usually, people who have set goals in life, will keep moving and find ways of overcoming problems. Therefore, the main problem of those who may think of suicide is that they don’t have a clear goal, nor they have a clear vision of the meaning of challenges in life.
From an Islamic viewpoint, the life of this world is full of different tests, and by going through them and passing the tests, people elevate their spiritual level and build their eternal life more comfortable. Therefore, the harder the tests are, the stronger the person will become, and he will have an easier life in the hereafter.
First of all, He wants us to choose the right path in life; “rectitude has become distinct from error.” (2: 256)
After choosing the path of righteousness, He wants us to follow the guidelines that He sent us through His messengers; “should any guidance come to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will not go astray, nor will they be miserable.” (20: 123)
Then, He promises that whoever sets his goals in the direction of helping the religion of God and gaining God’s satisfaction, He will show him/her the right way: “As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways, and Allah is indeed with the virtuous.”(29:69)
Therefore, whoever forms his lifestyle based on teachings of God, will never feel disappointed, since Allah says: “indeed no one despairs of Allah’s mercy except the faithless lot”. (12: 87)
When you face problems you should:
1. Revise your goals and lifestyle. If it is against the path that Allah has sent us, disappointment will overcome you at some points.
2. Remember God, knowing that it will give you strength; “—those who have faith and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ Behold! The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!” (13: 28)
3. Form a strong Islamic family to keep you in peace; “And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you.” (30:21)
4. Never hang around aimlessly and idly; “so when you are done appoint (to a new task).” (94: 7)
5. Keep in mind that the real life is to come after death. So live every day of your life knowing that it may be your last day. Many of us are the last minute people!!
And there are many other solutions that can help us get rid of satanic thoughts, if we just read the Quran while we are depressed and feeling suicidal.