There is no doubt among us that after our dear Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP), our twelve Imams (AS) are the most important figures of our religion. On that account, today we want to get to know more about our first imam and the first male convert of the religion birth matter and conditions.
The faithless say, ‘You have not been sent [by Allah].’ Say, ‘Allah suffices as a witness between me and you, and he who possesses the knowledge of the Book’
The Holy Quran (13:43)
And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants
The Holy Quran (2:207)
If the two of you repent to Allah... for your hearts have certainly swerved, and if you back each other against him, then [know that] Allah is indeed his guardian, and his supporters are Gabriel, the righteous among the faithful and, thereafter, the angels...
The Holy Quran (66:4)
If we seek the true meaning of these three verses above of our holy book, they all seek Ali (AS) as their primary target and guide us to some aspects of his life. our dear imam has been implicitly described by The Quran many times that shows us His great importance in our religion.
No one can fully describe the contributions of Imam Ali (AS) to his religion and the people and if anyone dares to do so, he can merely show a drop of the sea. That said we are about to speak about the first question that may occur to our mind: how was our first Imam born?
Thirty years after the “year of the elephant” (*) occurrence, in the 13th of Rajab (March 8), when Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP) was 30 years old, 10 years before our dear The Prophet (PBUH&HP) received the first revelation from the angel Gabriel and 23 years before the great migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina.
At this time, our dear imam's pregnant mother (Fatima Daughter of Asad) was praying at Kaaba. She felt an immense amount of delivery pain that she fled to Kaaba from that pain. Suddenly the wall of Kaaba has moved apart and given shelter to her for 3 whole days. After these days, she came out of Kaaba with her dear son, our first imam, Ali b. Abi Talib (AS). Imam’s delivery was a great honor that happened to no one And after yet; walls moving apart, mother’s presence in the holy site of Islam, and the unique birth in Kaaba were all the signs of the greatness of son of Kaaba.
Fatima Daughter of Asad was the second woman that converted to Islam (after Prophet’s wife, Khadija” SA”). She had the honor of taking care of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) from the age of eight until his youth in her (Abu-Talib) house. Their relation was as much close that Prophet (PBUH&HP) called she “mother” So we can see the early strings of Prophet (PBUH&HP) calling Imam Ali (AS) his brother.
1.Sheikh Mofid (died in 413th AH): our first imam, Ali b. Abi Talib (AS) was born on Friday the 13th of Rajab and thirty years after the year of the elephant in Mecca. No one ever has been born in Kaaba before and after him. His delivery was the great honor that God granted him to show his dignity over other men of his age.
2. Allamah Al-Hilli (died in 726th AH): Imam Ali (PBUH) was born on Friday the 13th of Rajab and thirty years after the occurrence of the year of the elephant. No one before and after him, was born in Kaaba at that time, The Prophet (PBUH&HP) was thirty years old.
Many of the Sunni scholars Believe that Imam’s birth routine was in Kaaba and some of them even think this matter exclusively was only for the Imam.
We will name some of them briefly and look at their point of view:
1. Al-Hakim al-Nishapuri (died in 658th lunar year): a lot of Consecutive narrations have pointed that Fatima bt. Asad have delivered Ali b. Abi Talib in the Kaaba.
2. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi Hanafi (died in 654th lunar year): It has been narrated that when Fatima bt. Asad was pregnant and doing tawaf around the Kaaba, she sensed an immense delivery pain that she fled to Kaaba from the pain; when suddenly Kaaba’s door got opened to her so she went into the Kaaba and gave birth to his child.
Syed Ismail Himayari (who died in 173th AH) was one of the greatest poets of Arabic literature. He wrote a poem about this unique birth:
His mother gave birth to him in God’s safe site; God’s house and masque was his birthplace
He was pure and noble; her mother, her child, and her birthplace too
In one of the darkest nights, he appeared with lunar purity
No child other than Amine’s child is honored like him
- Kitab al-Kafi (first Volume – page 452)
- Kitab al-Irshad (first Volume – page 5)
- I'lam al-Wara bi A'lam al-Huda (first Volume – page 306)
- Bihar al-Anwar (35th Volume – page 182)
- Description of Nahj al-Balagha (first Volume – page 6)
- Manaqib Ale Abi Talib (third Volume – page 307)
- Rawżat al-Vaeezin (page 81)
* In that year, Kaaba invaded by faithless king Abraha and his great elephant army and ironically saved by Allah himself with an army of birds carrying small stones by their pecks that penetrate the elephant's body and skull and all of them got killed, and Kaaba was saved.
Fasting is one of the most important rituals of Islam, and Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
“O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God wary” (2:183).
Now, as Ramadan is around the corner and the novel Coronavirus is continuing to spread globally, many Muslims worldwide are wondering if fasting could pose a higher risk of catching the COVID-19 virus, due to dehydration. They may raise some more questions, as is it safe to fast during this global pandemic? Doesn’t it weaken our immune system? And some wonder if they could be exempted from fasting to prevent catching this disease and remain healthy.
Let’s have a look at this question -to fast or not to fast? - from two different aspects: Science-based and religion-based.
According to the WHO and health experts’ recommendations, people are advised to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and stay healthy. Still, it will not prevent anyone from catching the new Coronavirus.
“Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, said the claims are incorrect. While medical professionals typically recommend keeping up fluid intake, Schaffner said drinking more water will not keep anyone from catching the virus. “We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up the fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist,” he said. “It makes you feel better; there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications.” 
No, in fact, many scientific studies have shown the wide-ranging health benefits of intermittent fasting in boosting our immune system and living a longer life. The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published a review of research on the beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease:
“Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.” 
Even more interestingly, although some study claims that prolonged water fasting could have a slightly detrimental effect on the immune system, it also shows that immunity returns to a better state soon after eating and drinking again. 
First of all, the obligation of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is an individual duty, and anyone who has the conditions to do so must fast, regardless of whether it is obligatory for others or not. According to Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, one of the well-known Islamic jurists, if a Muslim fears that he/she will catch Coronavirus, even if he/she takes all precautionary measures, he/she will be relieved of the obligation for each day he/she remains in fear of catching the disease – if he/she were to fast. However, if he/she can reduce the probability of catching the disease so that it becomes reasonably insignificant – even by staying at home and not mixing closely with others, using a mask, medical gloves, frequent disinfection and so on – such that it does not cause unbearable difficulties for the individual, his/her obligation to fast is not waived. 
Another Islamic jurist follows the same line and adds that if a doctor forbids someone from fasting, due to the high risk of getting this virus, that person is not allowed to fast. But this should not lead to disrespecting others that fast and eating in public . Many other Islamic jurists also confirm the fact that one should decide if fasting is risky for him/her or not. If “an individual has a reason to believe that fasting will cause illness, intensify or prolong an illness, or delay one’s recuperation,” he/she is not obliged to fast. But he/she should make up for the missed fastings later in the year . However, some other Islamic jurists consider fasting an obligatory practice whose obligation is not lifted in this period, except if one thinks there is a high probability of getting the disease by fasting .
After all, it is essential to note that fasting in Islam is expected of those who are healthy enough to do so: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you” (2:185)
And sick people who fear that fasting may make them worse, risk their health or slow down their recovery are permitted not to fast:
“But should any of you be sick or on a journey, let it be a [similar] number of other days. Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person” (2:184).
In conclusion, regarding the feedback received from the World Health Organization, fasting has nothing to do with the possibility of an increased risk of catching coronavirus. On the other hand, it is not easy to say for sure whether fasting offers some level of protection and immunity against the COVID-19 virus during this global crisis, so we’d better stick to the things we know would work: social distancing, avoiding gatherings, performing rituals separately, hand-washing, hygiene, and self-isolation.
The Day of Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the holy Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) grandson, and his companions in the battle of Karbala. They were all slain in such a horrific way that it is difficult to find such cruelty alike in the history of humankind. They were violently martyred after they were besieged and prevented from obtaining water to drink, and so they departed this life thirsty- this was for no crime other than their refusal to swear allegiance to Yazid, the notorious tyrant of the time .
Imam Hussain (AS), along with his family members and companions, showed the highest degree of moral standards in dealing with calamities they went through. He made any effort to clarify the truth and goals for which they rose up and were ready to sacrifice their lives. This article focuses on some of the most prominent virtues Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions displayed on this day; the ones that –if practiced- will finally lead to the salvation of humankind:
Imam Hussain (AS) taught the faithful believers, in practice, that they should not hesitate to sacrifice everything for the religion of Allah to protect it when it is at risk. He rose up against Yazid when he noticed this dictator openly violated the commandments of Allah.
He announced: “Don't you see that truth has been replaced by falsehood? We must be prepared to sacrifice everything precious in support of Truth!”. Ali Akbar (AS), Imam’s eldest son, asked him in this regard if they were on the right path. Imam (AS) replied in the affirmative. Ali Akbar (AS) then said: “Then, it makes no difference if death comes to us or if we approach death.”
Imam Hussain (AS) believed that living under a tyranny was nothing but living in hell:
“To me, death is nothing but happiness and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
In Karbala, when Imam Hussain (AS) was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to Yazid or to fight and die with glory, he said he would not accept humiliation and obedience to mean people .
In another famous narration, he said: “If you don't believe in any religion and don't fear the Resurrection Day, at least be free in this world” . In other words, if you do not follow a specific religion or believe in the Hereafter, at least be humane in your worldly affairs. This saying of Imam (AS) invites the whole world to reject submission to oppression; to practice freedom.
The most important social message of Imam Hussain (AS)’s revolution is fighting against people’s unawareness. The tyrants of that time had done everything to diminish the limits between right and wrong, and Imam Hussain (AS) intended to redefine that for the society:
“I never revolted in vain, as a rebel or as a tyrant, but I rose seeking reformation for the nation of my grandfather Muhammad (PBUH&HP). I intend to enjoin good and forbid evil, to act according to the traditions of my grandfather, and my father Ali ibn Abi-Talib (AS)” .
Imam Hussain (AS) and his loyal companions were all patient in the face of traumatic events, among which are: being surrounded in the hot desert and prevented from obtaining water for three consecutive days by the enemy, martyrdom of his six-month-old infant son, his young son, Ali Akbar (AS), his brother Abbas ibn Ali (AS), his relatives and companions before his eyes, etc.
Imam (AS) never complained about these and instead would say: “We, the household of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), are subservient to whatever Allah has destined us. We will be patient on this calamity, which has happened to us. Of course, Allah the Almighty will give us the reward of the patients. We will be surrounding the Prophet (PBUH&HP) in the Paradise” .
On the day of Ashura, when the battle was in full swing, he told his companions: “Be patient O ' the son of the nobles. Death is only a bridge that takes you from misery and loss to the vast Paradise and the eternal graces” .
Imam Hussain (AS) and his blessed companions were living examples of what the Quran taught: “So be patient, with a patience that is graceful” (70:5); patience which was not out of helplessness or weakness but was a demonstration of steadfastness and bravery.
Fidelity and promise-keeping was the other prominent feature of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions. See how Imam (AS) described his companions on the night before Ashura: “I do not know companions more loyal and better than my companions” . That night when Imam (AS) told them they were free to leave and give up before the battle, his brother, Abal-Fazl al-Abbas (AS), said: “Why should we do such an act? To live after you, never! May Allah forbid such a day!” The others, too, unanimously said they would never betray their Imam.
Or, in another example we see, on the day of Ashura, after Abbas (AS)’s right hand was cut off by the army of Yazid –when he had gone to get some water for the children and women- he bravely recited these epic verses: “By Allah, if you cut my right hand, I will never stand back, and I will protect my religion, and I will support the Imam who stands firm in his belief and is the grandson of the pure and truthful Prophet ”.
These were only a few examples of what made Ashura and Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising an epic that will never fade from the memory of humankind. Every year, millions of people around the world commemorate this tragedy, express their sorrow, and remind themselves to firmly stand against tyranny as Imam Hussain (AS) did. This has also affected the people of other faiths, as Mahatma Gandhi has said:
“I learned from Hussain (AS) how to be wronged and be a winner, I learned from Hussain (AS) how to attain victory while being oppressed ”.