Alamut Castle

This webpage article by Medium, gives a short, but detailed history of the Castle of Alamut, the epicenter of the Assassins. It first describes the original establishment of the castle by an ancient Persian King and further goes into detail about how Hassan Sabah found and took over this hidden castle. Within the castle under Hassan Sabah, there was an enormous library that was a center for learning sciences, philosophy, astronomy, etc. This article also outlines the work of the Assassin’s and how they were against the reigning Seljuk empire and their various assassinating campaigns. In the end of the article, there is a video and discussion of how to visit Alamut and details of it’s moderate, stair-climbing hike. The Alamut fortress is a fascinating piece of history that is still portrayed in popular culture today in video games and movies, but its history of its use is what makes it enthralling.


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The Twelve Shi’a Imams

This site gives a simple list of the Twelve Imams along with the Prophet Muhammad and Lady Fatima as the Infallible people revered in Shi’ism. There is also a brief description of the first three Imams, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn as greatly respected helpers of the Prophet.


This article gives a detailed description of each of the Twelve Imams, their significant accomplishments, and their deaths. There is also more information on the Shi’a traditions and beliefs about these important figures. This information only includes the Twelver Shi’a line of succession without reference to the other off-shoots. jd

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The Kharijite

The Kharijite were once a group that supported Ali who were from the Tamim tribe.  They were ready to support him in his battle with Mu awiyah who wanted to avenge Uthman’s death. They became upset when Ali agreed to negotiate with Mu awiyah instead of go to war with him. They were even further angered when Ali and Mu awiyah agreed to bring in a third party to help with the negotiations because they could end up selecting a new caliphate. They strongly believed that only God could decide the fate of the battle. Their fuel for this support was from a passage in the Qur’an that states if two parties of the same fate should fight because one is rebelling against the other, than they should fight against them until they are brought back under God’s will. In their eyes, Ali was the rightful successor, and by allowing Mu awiyah to walk away they felt Ali was not doing God’s will, and that in itself was a sin. And in the Kharijites beliefs, if you sin, you can not rule. One of their main beliefs were anyone could be a leader among the community and they did not have to be of the Quraysh let alone Arab. The only requirements they had were you had to be a Muslim and pious. It was a Kharijite that wound up assassinating Ali, but they also made trouble for future Caliphs as well due to their extreme beliefs. The Kharijite are very fanatical, and they take the Qur’an literally. Over time they spread out and formed different groups. The most extreme group was called the Azariqah and they came from Basra. Another well known group are called the Ibadiyah, and they reside in Oman, North Africa, and Zanzibar and are the only sect to survive to this day.



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Muhammad’s Daughter’s Marriages

Zainab, Muhammad’s oldest daughter, married a merchant cousin with wealth, Abu al ‘Aas ibn al Rabi’.  When Muhammad started having revelations Zainab converted while her husband did not, causing strife.  After Muhammad’s revelation that a monotheist must not marry a polytheist, Abu al ‘Aas sent Zainab to Medina to rejoin her family.  Abu al ‘Aas ended up converting to Islam in 7 AH and went to Medina to be with Zainab until her death in 8 AH.

Ruqayyah, Muhammad’s second daughter, was first married to ‘Utbah, son of Abu Lahab, who was a Quraysh elite.  This marriage was ended when Muhammad began having revelations that the Quraysh disagreed with.  Ruqayyah then married ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan ibn Abul-‘Aas ibn ‘Abd Shams whom she stayed with until her death, which coincided with the Battle of Badr.

Umm Kulthum, Muhammad’s third daughter, originally married ‘Utaybah, the brother of ‘Utbah, sons of Abu Lahab.  This marriage ended at the same time of Ruqayyah’s marriage to ‘Utbah, with the sisters being sent home together.  Umm Kulthum remained unmarried until her sister Ruqayyah’s death in 3 AH.  Umm Kulthum then married Ruqayyah’s widowed husband, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, earning him the title, Dhu al-Nurayn or “The Possessor of Two Lights”.

As we know, Fatima, Muhammad’s youngest daughter, married Muhammad’s cousin and childhood friend Ali.




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Historical Meaning behind Liver Eating in Islam

In my research of this topic, it appears that the organs of the body have different symbolic meanings. The liver, specifically, symbolizes wealth and is also regarded as the “center of anger and mercy” in the bodily form. It is said that consuming a liver will bring financial freedom and prosperity into someone’s life. The process of the liver being removed from the body is regarded as the “reappearance of hoarded money”. Within the text of the Qu’ran,  first food offered to welcome the people of paradise(heaven) when they enter it will be “the caudate lobe of whale liver”. Specifically this is mentioned in the hadeeth of Thawbaan, who is renowned as the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah. Some scholars have pondered the significance behind the first meal in heaven being fish liver, because the second meal is supposedly bull meat. The two are quite different, yet the main assumption is that the fish an aquatic animal which is “indicative of the essence of life on earth, and the bull is a land animal which is indicative of tilling the soil and earning a living, so the people of Paradise are given these two things to eat to signal the end of this world and the beginning of the Hereafter” (Rooh al-Ma‘aani by al-Aloosi).


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Tomb of Jafar

This is a post I found about Jafar Ibn Abi Talib who was one of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. He is one of the earliest converts to Islam and was personally sent by the Prophet to lead a small group of believers on a migration into Abyssinia. It was in Abyssinia where he spoke to the Ethiopian King about the persecution suffered by him and his fellow believers in Mecca.  He died in the battle of Mu’Tah where it is said he fought until both of his arms were cut off and he was cut into two halves.


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The Kurdish Language(s)

The first link gives a brief description of Kurdish, which is part of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, and was developed between 4,000 and 2,000 years ago (paragraph 1). The dialect of Kurmanji is spoken mainly in Turkey and the former Soviet states and written with either the Latin or Cyrillic alphabet depending on the location. Kurmanji claims the highest number of speakers. Sorani is the dialect of those who live in Iraq and Iran. This form is written with the Arabic script. Both dialects are recognized and promoted by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), the semi-autonomous political power in northern Iraq. There are other dialects spoken in more southern regions. Included are resources within the post for those who wish to learn Kurdish.


The next link gives a technical analysis of the phonetic differences in Kurdish dialects as well as comparing these to other Iranian languages. In trying to understand the history of the evolution of the Kurdish language, the authors use old Persian, middle Persian, Zazaki, and Gurani to make comparisons. The cultural identity of the Kurds is an important factor; There is great religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity within those who identify as Kurdish. This adds complications when trying to determine whether Kurdish has many dialects or is actually a blending of many different languages. The conclusion is drawn that Kurdish is a relative of Balochi, however, there are fundamental differences.

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Pashto vs. Dari

Pashto and Dari are the two official languages of Afghanistan. While both are part of the Indo-European language family and use the Arabic alphabet, they are not mutually intelligible. Pashto is considered the national language of Afghanistan and the national anthem is written in it, but Dari is the more commonly spoken language. Almost all Pashto speakers learn Dari as their second language. Dari was the only language used in the royal courts in Afghanistan until the 1920’s when King Amanullah Khan promoted Pashto as a marker of ethnic identity and nationalism during the fight for independence from the British. Up until that point Pashto was primarily spoken by the Pashtun tribes as their native language.


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Pastoral Nomadism vs Settlement

A war between pastoral nomadism and settlement societies has persisted since the dawn of time. In regards to Islamic civilization, though, Ibn Khaldun claimed that there is a pattern that is found when observing the history of interactions between the two. The social evolution that he describes gives a glimpse at the ebb and flow between nomadic and settled lifestyles, in regards to how an empire rises from nomads being indoctrinated into a sedentary, or settled, lifestyle and reign until new nomads attack and get indoctrinated, and so on. This scholar, Khaldun, died in the early 15th century, but his words seem to stand the tests of time when observing the Ottoman Empire, and more, within Islamic Civilization.

–Khayla M.


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In the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month. During this month, Muslims spend daylight hours fasting every single day. Fasting is identified as one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan consists of no food, drink, and other physical needs such as smoking or sex. However, it is not just about the absence of these things, it is also a time that should be dedicated to purifying the soul, paying attention to God, and practicing sacrifice as well as self-discipline. The point of fasting is for Muslims to feel what those who are poor, homeless, or have become refugees feel throughout the year.


“During Ramadan, every part of our bodies must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must give in charity, and not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.”



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