Friday, December 30, 2016

The Lost Civilization of Dial-Up Bulletin Board Systems

A former systems operator logs back in to the original computer-based social network.
-- Benj Edwards

I have a vivid, recurring dream. I climb the stairs in my parents’ house to see my old bedroom. In the back corner, I hear a faint humming.

It’s my old computer, still running my 1990s-era bulletin board system (BBS, for short), “The Cave.” I thought I had shut it down ages ago, but it’s been chugging away this whole time without me realizing it—people continued calling my BBS to play games, post messages, and upload files. To my astonishment, it never shut down after all.

BBSes once numbered in the tens of thousands in North America. These mostly text-based, hobbyist-run services played a huge part in the online landscape of the 1980s and ‘90s. Anyone with a modem and a home computer could dial-in, often for free, and interact with other callers in their area code.

Then the internet came along in the mid-1990s. Like a comet to the dinosaurs, it upended the natural order of things and wiped BBSes out. My system was one of the casualties, a victim of the desire to devote all my online time to the internet. The same scenario repeated itself on thousands of computers across the country until, one by one, the brightest lights of the BBS world blinked out of existence.

In 1991, my dad brought home a small black plastic box from work. He was an electronics engineer and regularly swapped state-of-the-art tech with his coworkers.

“This is a modem,” my dad said. “You can connect to other computers over the telephone with it.”

At the time, dad didn’t mean the internet, which we’d never heard of (it was mostly used by universities and government institutions at the time). No, he was referring to BBSes.

The first BBS came to life in 1978 during a particularly bad Chicago blizzard. Its inventors, Ward Christensen and Randy Suess, wanted a way to keep up with their computer club without having to gather together in person. So they figured out a way to do it with computers.

The resulting software, called CBBS, allowed personal-computer owners with modems to dial-in to a dedicated system and leave messages that others would see later, when they, in turn, dialed up the BBS. People could, in theory, call BBSes anywhere, but since they'd have to pay for long-distance, they tended to stay local. The BBS concept was a digital version of a push-pin bulletin board that might flank a grocery store entrance or a college student union hallway.

By the time dad brought home the modem, BBSes had grown dramatically in scope. They facilitated file transfers, inter-BBS messaging networks, multi-node chat, and popular text-based games.

My 15-year-old brother began BBSing. He visited five or six local boards, with names like “Octopus’s Garden,” “Southern Pride,” and “Online's Place.” I followed in his footsteps the next summer, spending hundreds of glorious hours online.

Dialing into a BBS felt like whole-body teleportation. It was the intimacy of direct, computer-to-computer connection that did it. To call a BBS was to visit the private residence of a fellow computer fan electronically. BBS hosts had converted a PC—often their only PC—into a digital playground for strangers’ amusement.

For an 11-year-old exploring online spaces for the first time, my mental model for these electronic connections was physical. Although every BBS displayed walls of text—menus, options, and prompts—those characters somehow translated, in my brain, into a casual walk through a cozy living room or a stroll in a grassy yard.

Maybe it was because the system operators (sysops) that ran each BBS were always watching. Everything users did scrolled by on their screen, and they soaked in the joy of someone else using their computer. It was a gentle, pleasant form of surveillance.

The sysops might initiate one-on-one chat at any time. Long before texting and Slacking and Facebook messaging became the norm for interchange, BBS chats felt like being with someone in person. Sometimes strong personal relationships were built. My best friend is someone I first met when he called my BBS in 1993.

That personal connection was sorely missing on big-name online subscription services of the time—Prodigy, CompuServe, and AOL. Even today, the internet is so overwhelmingly intertwined that it doesn't have the same intimate feel. Once the web arrived in the mid-1990s, it seemed inevitable that the BBS would die off.

But every mass extinction has its holdouts. Even today, a small community of people still run and call BBSes. Many seek the digital intimacy they lost years ago; 373 BBSes still operate, according to the Telnet BBS Guide, mostly in the United States. Many are set up to be accessible via internet-connected tools like Telnet, a text-based remote-login protocol originally designed for mainframes.

Did any direct-access, telephone-dial-up BBSes survive the internet’s proverbial asteroid? Sure enough, there are about 20 known dial-up BBSes in North America. And of those, only a handful have been running non-stop since the mid-1990s. These are the true dinosaurs walking among us. Who dares to run such antique systems, and why? Have any of them been left running by accident like the BBS in my dream? I had to find out.

The first day of my virtual travels, I plugged the built-in modem of a vintage MS-DOS laptop into a phone jack in the corner of my den. It’s forgotten territory; I had to huddle in a dark alley beside the couch to access the port.

Today, the media often calls BBSes an internet-before-the-internet. But that is a grossly inaccurate characterization. The internet is a global network of billions of computers, across which data flows like water. BBSes are like remote Pacific islands, each populated with pocket civilizations that communicate reluctantly via message-in-a-bottle. Over a telephone line, bandwidth is lean and every bit counts. I typed each letter with weighty purpose as I logged into my first target, “The Keep BBS,” in Beaverton, Oregon. It has supposedly been running in various forms since 1983.

When first connecting to a BBS, the service typically displays a splash screen with the BBS’s name or some associated image rendered in ANSI graphics—colored, text-mode graphics using the IBM PC's extended ASCII character set. After that, the typical login or registration process. The latter usually requested a user’s full name, mailing address, phone number, birthday, and more. It's quite probing by today's standards, but was not as intimidating in a time when one couldn’t instantly look up a photo of someone's house online.

After signing up or logging in, the service might present a list of bulletins—messages from the sysop—or else go straight to a main menu. From there, the user enters single character selections like “R” to read messages, “E” to send email, “T” to see the file library (to download programs), or “G” to log off.

Once I created my account profile on “The Keep,” I encountered ample advice on how to avoid Y2K problems, browsed through a huge directory of games for the unpopular IBM OS/2 operating system, and read some messages left behind by users from 1997.

Visiting an old BBS still running today feels like strolling through a community frozen in time, Pompeii-style. The message threads are incomplete, with discussions left hanging. There are bulletins that post stern-sounding rules from the 1990s like “USERS WITH FAKE NAMES WILL BE BANNED FOREVER” or “Attempts to tamper, damage, or defraud this system are against Oregon and Federal laws and will be reported immediately to authorities.”

That sort of thing scared people back in the ‘90s.

On day two of my travels, I came across a curious entry in the dial-up BBS list called “Brazos Valley Hub,” in College Station, Texas, not too far from where my mom grew up.

How fitting, I thought, that a rugged individualist-type would still be running a dial-up only BBS (no Telnet) out in the middle of Texas. I dialed-in, looked around, and found a bare-bones FidoNet messaging center with no apparent games and no local message activity to speak of. It was a Texas ghost town.

FidoNet is the most popular inter-BBS message network, with about 2,500 listed nodes (or connected systems) worldwide. That might be a stretch; recent attempts to verify that number by actually connecting to the services have come far short of 2,500. It’s more likely that 100 to 150 are still active. It’s a long fall from FidoNet’s peak in 1995, at over 35,000 nodes.

A few BBSes still pass along networked messages the old way, by doing dial-up call-outs to other BBSes multiple times a day, trading packets of emails and message posts like ships handing off mail bags when they reach a port. Brazos Valley Hub seems to be one of these systems—a true digital island touched only indirectly by the internet.

Intrigued, I left a message for the sysop, Mike Luther. No response. I called again and left my phone number. About an hour later, my phone rang: “Caller ID Blocked.”

It was Luther. He spent most of our hour-long conversation talking about things like Area 51 and the Mafia. They reflect the colorful nature of some of the BBS holdouts. In part of our conversation, Luther described the activities of Adolf Hitler and how they related to Texas. I had to ask: “Did Hitler ever use a BBS?” Luther replied, “I don’t know.”

This veteran sysop was born in 1939 and has been using computers as long as he can remember. He says his father once led the math department at Texas A&M University, which is located in College Station. Today, Luther runs his BBS out of the small house where his dad once lived, and he does so out of a sense of obligation to provide a dial-up avenue to FidoNet that is—supposedly—free of government surveillance. The BBS as a digital bunker for the age after privacy on the internet.

Eventually, Luther expressed grave concern for my safety given his complex life full of dangerous connections, so we exchanged polite goodbyes.

By day three of my BBS travels, I had dialed about a dozen different numbers, most of which were “no longer in service,” as my modem speaker whined at me. Then I called “Capitol City Online BBS,” in Frankfort, Kentucky. The BBS, whose name I consider to include a typo, has been running non-stop since 1990.

Upon entering this classic system, the user is transported to a kinder, gentler world. Sysop Mike Powell welcomes guests via polite bulletin. Bowing to post-BBS, but pre-Facebook internet custom, Powell does not demand real names, phone numbers, or mailing addresses.

There, I read several FidoNet echoes (a term for groups of messages by subject), many of which were not very active. I also perused an impressive library of classic files and even tried a few online door games, which provide exploration and adventure rendered in nothing but ASCII characters. But I was mostly interested in talking to the sysop, so I left a message.

By day, Powell works with another obsolete technology. He works as a COBOL developer—a programming language used mostly on legacy systems like mainframes. By night, he sleeps. And every once in a while, he checks on his BBS, which he started in his parents’ house when he was 17 years old. It still operates on a Pentium I machine running IBM’s OS/2 operating system.

When I asked about his user base, Powell spoke of a regular caller of his, 50-something, who downloads a packet of messages every day, dutifully reads all the messages, replies to them, then uploads his package of responses. The caller is using a tool called an offline message reader, which was popular back in the days when bandwidth was low and connection time was limited. It’s not necessary today, but a few holdouts still stick to the habit, says Powell, because it’s what they are comfortable with.

The dial-up line sees one or two callers a week, according to Powell. “Although for the past week, I’ve had a few extra callers for whatever reason.” (That reason is me.)

But why do they still use dial-up? “A lot of people will leave a message and say, ‘Thanks for having the board up. I was able to hook up my old VIC-20 and test it out,’” says Powell. “So there are people who have a nostalgia thing going where they’re trying to test out their old computers. Or they haven’t seen a BBS in forever, and they’re shocked to find one.” Nostalgia is where obsolescence comes home to roost.

Ten years ago, when I dipped back into BBSes, I still got a sense that many sysops ran them to provide a libertarian alternative to the internet. Among them, the unoppressed who wanted religious freedom, the unsurveilled who wanted freedom from surveillance, and those prepping for the day when BBSes would provide shelter after the internet came crashing down.

Today, those sentiments are much more unusual in the BBS community. In 2016, calling a BBS mostly means reliving glory days long past: 1990s technology as comfort food, nourishing the fragile soul with a slow drip of information at a rate that old-timers actually can comprehend.

After I finished my dial-up rounds, I emailed a half dozen modern Telnet BBS sysops and asked them why they do it. All of them referenced nostalgia, and some mentioned preserving history. One of them hadn’t run a BBS at all back in the technology’s heyday; he just wanted to see what he had missed.

Quite a bit, it turns out. Those who didn’t live through or participate in the BBS era likely equate being online with hyper-connectedness, which feels more and more like a corporate-sponsored illusion every day. Those users missed out on the elemental intimacy of the BBS. It was messy, it was personal, and it was profound.

All of which might explain that persistent dream I’ve been having. Three years ago my father died, and he started visiting me in my dreams, too. Often he is a welcome sight, but sometimes it’s uncanny: “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?” The BBS had an impact on me as a teenager, one as profound as a parent’s. To remember it is to remember how I came to be me, not just an activity I pursued long ago.

Like the visits from my father, the BBS carries a message of hope tinged with confusion. It isn’t gone after all. The BBS era didn’t really end. It still lives on inside me, somewhere. Thanks to dedicated sysops like Luther and Powell, future generations may be able to continue exploring their Pompeii. But like anything lost to time, the BBS’s future callers won’t be able to feel the emotions attached to the ash.

Benj Edwards is a journalist who specializes in computer and video-game history. He is the editor-in-chief of Vintage Computing and Gaming.

​The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/11/the-lost-civilization-of-dial-up-bulletin-board-systems/506465/

Monday, December 12, 2016

Draft: A parrot astrologer and his parakeet: Tête-à-tête . . . .


A parrot astrologer and his parakeet: Tête-à-tête . . . . 

Astrologer: [Good–humoredly] Parrot: Please tell me about my Destiny.
Parrot: [Feigning dizziness] Sunstroke!

Astrologer: [Mockingly] What? Am I going to suffer a sunstroke?
Parrot: Nope! Moreover, how would I know . . . . You are the learned one! I was merely suggesting that we sit under a tree! Preferably . . . . an old banyan tree!  

Astrologer: [Perplexed] That is a peculiar request. Seriouly unbecoming . . . . Never mind . . . . Okay. But why an old banyan tree? Why not any other tree? Moreover, what do you know about trees in the first place? 

Parrot: Moreover, I am getting bad vibes . . . . maybe this place is  jinxed . . . .
I am basically a bird . . . . It is my innateness . . . . It is my intrinsicality . . . . I know about trees like the back of my hand. 
An old banyan tree is a sagely tree . . . . it is a sacred tree . . . . 

Astrologer: Aw! That is quite awe-inspiring. Maybe you are missing your nest that you never built! I am touched! I am not a cruel or harsh man! You must have realized that by now . . .  . I detest keeping you caged like this! Let us call this shared destiny or what is your favorite concept? Drat! Symbiosis right? Yep! Ours is a classic example of symbiotic relationship . . . . Your hankering for freedom is an open secret! Your unabashed temper tantrums! Sullen! That is Utopia! 
Your quest for an El Dorado! It is mirage! Prolonged captivity does make you erratic . . . . delusional and all that! I feel sorry for you . . . . really!

Parrot: Dont you get bored? Monotony!

Astrologer: Nah . . . . 

Parrot: Why did you become an astrologer?

Astrologer: Duh! Isnt that obvious?

Parrot: Destiny? 

Astrologer: Bingo!

Parrot: Game? You want me to play that game with you? That is a game right? Oh please . . . . anything but cards!

Astrologer: Let's play dice! 

Parrot: Socratic irony?

Astrologer: What is that?

Parrot: Why do you address me as Parrot? Isnt that pejorative? I love giving people nicknames! Pet name! Anyways . . . . Who was he?

Astrologer: Who? 

Parrot: Socrates?

Astrologer: Dunno! It's all Greek to me!

Parrot: Your patron?

Astrologer: Maybe! I dont remember his face!

Parrot: How come I dont remember meeting him?

Astrologer: Because you are always sleepwalking! Absent-minded! Trancelike aloofness! Oblivious! Moreover, I dont know about birds particularly about parrots like the back of my hand! Bird mind–set blah, blah, blah!

Parrot: Can I ask you something?

Astrologer: Huh?

Parrot: Do you really think that I am insolent?

Astrologer: Yep! Unwarranted . . . . character assassination is blatant insolence! I know all about your wicked plans . . . . You are scheming, foxy type . . . . And, you think that I am a con artist! That is quite heartbreaking! You are so unfeeling! 

Parrot: I am overawed . . . . is that Stockholm syndrome? Eye–opener!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Humans have not really evolved in the strict sense of the word! They are mere copycats! They aped trafficking from my ancestors! Ethics? Infringement? Animal rights? Are you moron? They did not even put on the endangered list! By the way: They don't teach you Darwin at school anymore, right? That self-proclaimed evolutionist? Who is in your Panchatantra module now? Alvin Toffler eh? Desmond Morris?


Humans have not really evolved in the strict sense of the word! They are mere copycats! They aped trafficking from my ancestors! Ethics? Infringement? Animal rights? Are you moron? They did not even put on the endangered list! By the way: They don't teach you Darwin at school anymore, right? That self-proclaimed evolutionist? Who is in your Panchatantra module now? Alvin Toffler eh? Desmond Morris?

I am your best friend . . . . Trust me . . . . I could empathize with your unfounded sense of déjà vu and irrational fears . . . . Are you taking your antipsychotic pills, by the way? Your ancestral anecdote is nothing more than a myth . . . . Schools? There was not even a single tree house . . . You have been to school . . . . You know all this . . . . Although, you are a dropout . . . . There is not such thing as vendetta!


I am your best friend . . . . Trust me . . .  . I could empathize with your unfounded sense of déjà vu and irrational fears . . . . Are you taking your antipsychotic pills, by the way?

Your ancestral anecdote is nothing more than a myth . . . . Schools? There was not even a single tree house . . . You have been to school . . . . You know all this . . . . Although, you are a dropout . . . . There is not such thing as vendetta!

A Shrink turned Fisherman's Pep Talk: Bravo! You could overcome your Fear of the Unknown . . . . It is nothing but uncertainty of your fate! Don't think that you are doomed! Be optimistic, okay?


A Shrink turned Fisherman's Pep Talk: Bravo! You could overcome your Fear of the Unknown . . . . It is nothing but uncertainty of your fate! Don't think that you are doomed! Be optimistic, okay?



An Enlightened Spiders Enigma: Why don't creepy-crawlies learn maneuverability from me? Retards!


Friday, December 9, 2016

Pictorial Representation of My Fish Life: Home Detention Curfew


Pictorial Representation of Helplessness / Despair: Inevitability of My Fish Life . . . .


Pictorial Representation of Helplessness / Despair: Inevitability of My Fish Life . . .  .

Friday, September 9, 2016

Islam QA: Al-Malaa’ikah (Angels)

Praise be to Allah.

Belief in angels is one of the six pillars of belief or faith without which there is no faith. Whoever does not believe in any of these pillars is not a believer (mumin). These pillars are belief in: Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and that predestination, both good and bad, comes from Allah.

Angels are a part of the world of the “Unseen” which we cannot comprehend. Allah has told us about them in many places in the Quran and via His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). There follows a number of proven reports concerning the angels, which hopefully will make you realize the greatness of the Creator and the greatness of this religion which has told us so much about them:

Of what are they created?
They are created from light, as ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The angels are created from light, just as the jinn are created from smokeless fire and mankind is created from what you have been told about.’" [Muslim].

When were they created?
We have no knowledge of precisely when they were created, because there is no text to tell us this. But they were created before mankind for certain, because the Quran says (interpretation of the meaning): "Behold, your Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’" [2:30] The fact that Allah told them of His intention to create man indicates that they already existed.

Their great size
Allah says concerning the angels of Hell:
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern and severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded." [66:6]

The greatest of all the angels is Jibreel, upon whom be peace, who was described in the following report:
"From ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw Jibreel in his true form. He had six hundred wings, each of which covered the horizon. There fell from his wings jewels, pearls and rubies, only Allah knows about them." It was reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, and Ibn Katheer said in al-Bidayah that its isnad (chain of narrators) is jayyid (good).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, describing Jibreel:
"I saw Jibreel descending from heaven, and his great size filled the space between heaven and earth." [Muslim].

Among the greatest angels are those who carry the Throne (of Allah), who were described in the following report:
"From Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who said: ‘I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of Allah who carry the Throne. The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.’" [Abu Dawood].

They have wings
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Praise be to Allah, Who created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings - two, or three, or four (pairs) adds to Creation as He pleases: for Allah has power over all things." [35:1]

Their beauty
Allah said, describing Jibreel, upon whom be peace (interpretation of the meaning):
"He [the Prophet] has been taught by one Mighty in Power, Dhoo Mirrah (free from any defect in body and mind), then he rose and became stable." [53:5-6]

Ibn ‘Abbas said: "‘Dhoo Mirrah means that he has a beautiful appearance." Qutadah said: "He is tall and beautiful."

The idea that angels are beautiful is firmly established in all people’s minds, so much so that they liken a beautiful human to an angel, as the women said about Yoosuf:
". . . When they [the women] saw him, they did extol him and (in their amazement) cut their hands: they said: ‘Allah preserve us! No mortal is this! This is none other than a noble angel!’" [12:31]

Their differences in size and status
The angels are not all of one size or status; there are differences between them just as there are differences in virtue. The best of them are those that were present at the battle of Badr, as is stated in the hadeeth narrated by Mu‘adh ibn Rifa‘ah al-Zuraqi from his father, who had been one of the people present at Badr. He said: "Jibreel came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) and asked, ‘How do you rate the people among you who were present at Badr?’ He said: ‘They are the best of the Muslims,’ or something similar. [Jibreel] said: ‘So it is with the angels who were present at Badr.’" [al-Bukhaari].

They do not eat or drink
This is indicated by the conversation between Ibrahim, the "friend" of Allah, and the angels who visited him. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Then he turned quickly to his household, brought out a fatted calf, and placed it before them. He said, ‘Will you not eat?’ (When they did not eat), he conceived a fear of them. They said: ‘Fear not,’ and they gave him glad tidings of a son endowed with knowledge." [51:26-28]

Elsewhere, Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"But when he [Ibrahim] saw their hands went not towards the (meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: ‘Fear not: we have been sent against the people of Lut.’" [11:70]

They do not get bored or tired of remembering and worshipping Allah
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken." [21:20]

". . . For in the presence of your Lord are those who celebrate His praises by night and by day. And they never become tired (nor feel themselves above it)." [41:38]

Their number
The angels are many, and their number is known only to Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, describing the Much-Frequented House (al-Bayt al-M’amoor) in the seventh heaven:
"Then I was taken up to the Much-Frequented House: every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, another [group] coming after them." [al-Bukhaari].

‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Hell will be brought forth that day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be pulled by seventy thousand angels." [Muslim].

Their names
The angels have names, but we know only the names of a few of them. We have to believe in the names reported in the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic teachings) texts, as a part of general belief in the angels. Among the names of angels that are known to us are:

(1) Jibreel and (2) Mikail 

"Say: Whoever is an enemy to Jibreel - for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by Allah’s will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings to those who believe - 
Whoever is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and prophets, to Jibreel and Mikail - Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject faith." [2:97-98]

(3) Israfil

From Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, who said: "I asked ‘Aishah, the Mother of the Believers, about what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to start his prayer with when he got up to pray at night (qiyam al-layl). She said: ‘When he got up to pray at night, he would start his prayer (with the words): ‘O Allah, Lord of Jibreel, Mikail and Israfil, Creator of heaven and earth, Knower of the unseen and the seen, You are the Judge of the matters in which Your slaves differ; guide me with regard to disputed matters of truth by Your permission, for You guide whomever You will to the straight path.’" [Muslim].

(4) Malik

He is the Keeper of Hell, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): "They [the people in Hell] will cry: ‘O Malik! Would that your Lord put an end to us!’" [43:77]

(5) Munkar and (6) Nakeer

From Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘When the deceased is buried (or he said: when one of you is buried), there come to him two blue-black angels, one of whom is called Munkar and the other Nakeer. They ask him, ‘What did you used to say about this man?’ and he says what he used to say: ‘He is the slave and Messenger of Allah: I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the slave and Messenger of Allah. They say, ‘We knew beforehand that you used to say this.’ Then his grave will be widened for him to a size of seventy cubits by seventy cubits and it will be illuminated for him. Then they tell him, ‘Sleep.’ He says, ‘Go back to my family and tell them.’ They tell him, ‘Sleep like a bridegroom whom no-one will wake up except his most beloved,’ until Allah raises him up. If (the deceased) was a hypocrite, he says, ‘I heard the people saying something so I said something similar; I do not know.’ They say: ‘We knew beforehand that you used to say this.’ The earth will be told to squeeze him, so he will be crushed until his ribs are interlocked, and he will remain like that until Allah raises him up.’" [al-Tirmidhi].

(7) Haroot and (8) Maroot

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
". . . and such things as came down at Babylon to the angels Haroot and Maroot . . ." [2:102]
". . . and none can know the forces of your Lord, except He. And this is nothing other than a warning to mankind." [74:31]

Their powers
The angels have great powers given to them by Allah, including the following:

The ability to take on different forms. Allah has given the angels the ability to take on forms other than their own. Allah sent Jibreel to Maryam in the form of a man, as Allah says:
". . . Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects." [19:17]

Angels also came to Ibrahim in human form, and he did not know that they were angels until they told him so. Similarly, angels came to Lut in the form of young men with beautiful faces. Jibreel used to come to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) in different forms: sometimes he would appear in the form of Dihyah al-Kalbi, a sahaabee (companion) who was very handsome, and sometimes in the form of a Bedouin. The sahaabah (companions) saw him in his human form, as is reported from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) in the two Saheehs Al-Bukhari and Muslim). (‘Umar) said: 
"One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of travel were to be seen on him, and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Resting his knees against his and placing his hands on his thighs, he said: ‘O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’..." [ Muslim].

Many other ahadeeth (report) refer to the angels taking human forms, such as the hadeeth (report) about the one who killed a hundred, in which it says ". . . there came to them an angel in human form . . ." and the hadeeth about the blind man, the bald man and the leper.

Their speed
The greatest speed known to man today is the speed of light; the angels are able to travel much faster than this. Hardly had an enquirer completed a question to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but Jibreel would bring the answer from Allah.

Their duties
Among the angels is one whose task it was to convey the revelation from Allah to His Messengers; this is al-Rooh al-Ameen, Jibreel, upon whom be peace. Allah says:

"Say: whoever is an enemy to Jibreel - for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by Allah’s will. . . " [2:97]

"Which the trustworthy spirit has brought down,
Upon your heart, that you may be (one) of the warners." [26:193-194]

Another is responsible for rain, directing it wherever Allah wishes. This is Mikail, upon whom be peace. He has helpers, who do what he tells them, by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as Allah wills.

Another is responsible for blowing the Trumpet, which will be blown by Israfil at the onset of the Hour (the Day of Judgement).

Others are responsible for taking people’s souls: these are the Angel of Death and his helpers. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): "Say: ‘the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.’" [32:11] There is no proof in any saheeh hadeeth (authentic report) that his name is ‘Azrail.

Others are responsible for protecting the slave throughout his life, when he stays home and when he travels, when he is asleep and when he is awake. These are the "angels in succession" concerning whom Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceals his speech or declares it openly, whether he be hid by night or goes forth freely by day.
For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah. Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people so long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sin and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah). But when Allah wills a people’s punishment, there can be no turning back of it, and they will find besides Him no protector." [13:10-11]

Others are responsible for recording the deeds of man, good and bad. These are the "honourable scribes" (kiraman katibeen) and are referred to in the ayat/verses (interpretation of the meanings):
". . . and He sends guardians (angels guarding and writing all of one’s good and bad deeds) over you . . ." [6:61]

"Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes, We do) and Our messengers (appointed angels in charge of mankind) are by them, to record."
[43:80]

"(Remember!) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions).
Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)." [50:17-18]

"But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you,
Kiraman (honourable) katibeen - writing down (your deeds)." [82:10-11]

Others are responsible for testing people in the grave. These are Munkar and Nakeer. From Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘When the deceased is buried (or he said: when one of you is buried), there come to him two blue-black angels, one of whom is called Munkar and the other Nakeer. They ask him, ‘What did you used to say about this man?’ . . ." [The hadeeth is quoted in full above]

Some of them are the keepers of Paradise. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
"And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, its gates will be opened and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘alaikum (peace be upon you!). You have done well, so enter here, to abide therein." [39:73]

Some of them are the keepers of Hell, the "guards of Hell", whose number is nineteen and whose leader is Malik, upon whom be peace. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened. And its keepers will say, ‘Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves, - reciting to you the verses of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?’ They will say: ‘Yes, but the word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!’" [39:71]

"Then, let him call upon his council (of helpers),
We will call the guards of Hell (to deal with him)!" [97:17-18]

"And what will make you know exactly what Hell-fire is?
It spares not (any sinner), nor does it leave (anything unburnt)!
Burning the skins!
Over it are nineteen (angels as guardians and keepers of Hell).
And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire, and We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers - in order that the People of the Scripture may arrive at a certainty and the believers may increase in faith . . ." [74:27-31]

"And they will cry: ‘O Malik (Keeper of Hell)! Let your Lord make an end of us.’ He will say: ‘Verily you shall abide forever.’" [43:77]
One of the angels is responsible for the sperm in the womb, as is mentioned in the hadeeth (report) of Ibn Mas‘ood (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), whose truthfulness is confirmed, said: ‘The way that each of you is created is that he is gathered in his mother’s womb for forty days as a sperm drop, and then for a similar length of time as a blood-clot, and then for a similar length of time as a lump of flesh. Then an angel is sent and he breathes the spirit into (the foetus), and is charged with four commands: to write down his provision, his life-span, his actions, and whether he will be wretched or happy. By the One besides Whom there is no other god, one of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until he is just a cubit away from entering it, then his fate will overtake him and he will begin to do the deeds of the people of Hell, so he will enter Hell; and one of you may do the deeds of the people of Hell until he is just a cubit away from entering it, then his fate will overtake him and he will begin to do the deeds of the people of Paradise, so he will enter Paradise." [al-Bukhaari, Muslim].

Some angels carry the Throne of Allah, as He describes in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning): 
"Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’" [40:7]

Some of the angels travel throughout the world, seeking out gatherings of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: ‘Allah, be He blessed and exalted, has angels who travel the highways seeking out the people of dhikr. When they find people remembering Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, they call out to one another, "Come to what you hunger for!" and they enfold them with their wings, stretching up to the lowest heaven. Their Lord asks them, and He knows better than them, "What are My slaves saying?" They say: "They are glorifying, magnifying, praising and extolling You." He asks, "Have they seen Me?" They say, "No, by Allah, they have not seen You." He asks, "And how would it be if they saw Me?" They say, "They would be even more fervent and devoted in their praise and worship." He asks, "What are they asking me for?" They say, "They ask You for Paradise." He asks, "And have they seen it?" They say, "No, by Allah, O Lord, they have not seen it." He asks, "And how would it be if they saw it?" They say: "They would be even more eager for it and they would beseech You even more earnestly." He asks, "And what do they seek My protection from?" They say, "From the Fire of Hell." He asks, "Have they seen it?" They say, "No, by Allah, they have not seen it." He asks, "And how would it be if they saw it?" They say: "They would be even more afraid and anxious to escape it." Allah says: "You are My witnesses that I have forgiven them." One of the angels says: "So-and-so is not really one of them; he came (to the gathering) for some other reason." Allah says, "They were all in the gathering, and one of them will not be excluded (from forgiveness)."" [al-Bukhaari]. 

Some of them are responsible for the mountains. ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "Have you ever faced any day more difficult than the day of Uhud?" He said: "I suffered at the hands of your people and the worst that I suffered was what I suffered at their hands on the day of ‘Aqabah. That was when I went to call Ibn ‘Abd Yalayl ibn ‘Abd al-Kalal to Islam, and he did not respond. I left, feeling depressed and hardly knowing where I was going. I did not recover until I found myself in Qarn al-Tha‘alib. I raised my head and saw that I was being shaded by a cloud. I looked, and saw Jibreel in the cloud. He called me and said: ‘Allah has heard what your people said and how they responded to you. He has sent the Angel of the Mountains so that you can tell him to do to them whatever you want.’ The Angel of the Mountains called me and greeted me, then said: ‘O Muhammad, tell me what you want me to do. If you want, I can crush them between two mountains.’" The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "All I hope for is that Allah will bring forth from their loins people who will worship Allah alone and not associate any partner with Him." [al-Buhaari].

Some of them visit the Much Frequented House (al-bayt al-m’amoor). In the lengthy hadeeth describing the Isra and M’iraj (the Night Journey and the Ascent to Heaven), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: 
"Then I was taken up to the Much-Frequented House: every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, another [group] coming after them." 

There are also angels standing in rows, who never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, as was reported by Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘I see what you do not see and hear what you do not hear. The heaven makes a noise like groaning, and it has the right to (or it is no surprise), for there is no space in it the width of four fingers, but there is an angel there, placing his forehead in sujood (prostration) to Allah. By Allah, if you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much, you would not enjoy your relationships with women and you would go out in the street praying to Allah.’" [ al-Tirmidhi]

This is a summary of Islamic teachings concerning the noble angels of Allah. We ask Allah to make us believe in them and love them. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad.

And Allah knows best.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

https://islamqa.info/en/843

Islam QA: Some du’aa’s and remedies for one who suffers from pain in his body

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that some of the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to one of the Arab tribes. They asked them for hospitality but they refused to welcome them. Whilst they were like that, the chief of that tribe was stung. They said: ‘Do you have any remedy or someone who can recite ruqyah?’ They said: ‘You did not offer us hospitality, so we will not do anything until you give us something in return.’ Then they agreed upon a flock of sheep. Then he started to recite the Essence of the Qur’aan – i.e., Soorat al-Faatihah – and he collected his saliva and spat at him (at the site of the injury), and he recovered. The sheep were brought and they (the companions) said: We will not take them until we ask the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So they asked him and he smiled and said: “How did you know that it is a ruqyah? Take them and give me a share of them.”  

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5404; Muslim, 2201. 

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A

https://islamqa.info/en/20176

Friday, September 2, 2016

Islam QA: Ruling on going to someone who undoes spells

105850: Ruling on going to someone who undoes spells

Praise be to Allaah.

If a person undoes spells or witchcraft, one of two scenarios must apply:

1-

He uses shar’i ruqyahs and ta’awwudhaat (prayers seeking refuge with Allaah) that were narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and permissible remedies. There is nothing wrong with this, rather it is mustahabb.

2-

He treats the spell by doing witchcraft which means drawing close to the jinn by offering sacrifices or doing other acts of worship. This is not permissible, because it is the handiwork of the shaytaan and is in fact major shirk, so we must beware of it. It is also not permissible to deal with it by asking sorcerers, fortune-tellers and charlatans or doing what they say. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has warned against going to them, asking them questions and believing them. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever goes to a fortune-teller and asks him about something, his prayer will not be accepted for forty days.” Narrated by Muslim (4137).

And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever goes to a soothsayer or fortune-teller and believes what he says has disbelieved in that which was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad (9171) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, hadeeth no. 5939.

So it is not permissible to go to practitioners of witchcraft or ask them anything or believe them.

Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan (3370) that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked about al-nushrah and he said: “It is the handiwork of the shaytaan.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A

https://islamqa.info/en/105850

Monday, August 22, 2016

Islam QA: Sihr and its types

Praise be to Allaah.

Praise be to Allaah and blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allaah, and his family and companions and those who follow his guidance.

Sihr is a serious crime and is one of the kinds of kufr. It is one of things with which people have been tested, in the past and currently, among the nations of the past, during the Jaahiliyyah and in this ummah. The more ignorance increases, the less there is knowledge and awareness of faith, the less attention the authorities pay to this matter – the more the practitioners of sihr and trickery increase and spread in the land, to take the people’s wealth and confuse them and do other things. When knowledge prevails and faith increases, and the Islamic authorities are powerful, the number of these evil people shrinks and they move from one land to another, seeking a place where their falsehood will be accepted and they will be able to engage in their trickery and corruption.

The Qur’aan and Sunnah have described the kinds of sihr and the rulings on these matters.

Sihr is so called because its means are hidden or secret, and because the practitioners of sihr deal with things in secret which enable them to perform illusions to confuse the people and deceive their eyes, and to cause them harm or steal their money, etc., in a secretive manner so that in most cases nobody realizes what is happening. Hence the last part of the night is called sahar, because at the end of the night people are unaware and they do not move about much. And the lungs are also called sahr, because they are hidden inside the body.

According to sharee’ah, the meaning of sihr is what the magicians do to delude and confuse people, so that the one who is watching thinks that it is real when in fact it is not. As Allaah said concerning the magicians of Pharaoh (interpretation of the meaning):

“They said: ‘O Moosa! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw?’

Moosa said: ‘Nay, throw you (first)!’ Then behold! their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.

So Moosa conceived fear in himself.

We (Allaah) said: ‘Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand.

And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician’s trick, and the magician will never be successful, to whatever amount (of skill) he may attain.’”

[Ta-Ha 20:65-69]

Sihr may involve things that the magician does when tying knots on which he blows, as is referred to in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning):

“And from the evil of those who practise witchcraft when they blow in the knots”[al-Falaq 113:4]

And it may involve other things which they manage to do through the shayaateen (devils), so they do things that may affect a man's reason or make him sick; they may cause division between a man and his wife, resulting in her looking ugly to him, or by making her hate her husband or be put off by him. This is blatant kufr as the Qur’aan states. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaymaan (Solomon). Sulaymaan did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic”

[al-Baqarah 2:102]

 Allaah informs us that they (the shayaateen) committed kufr by teaching men magic. Then He says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Haaroot and Maaroot, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, ‘We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’”[al-Baqarah 2:102]

 Then Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allaah’s Leave”[al-Baqarah 2:102]

i.e., this magic and any harm that results from it is subject to the prior decree and will of Allaah, for our Lord cannot be overwhelmed and nothing can happen in His Dominion against His Will. Nothing happens in this world or in the hereafter except by His prior decree and His great wisdom, as He wills. So some people may be tested by sihr, and others may be tested by sickness, or by being killed…etc.  Allaah is All-Wise in all that He wills and decrees, and in all that He prescribes for His slaves. Hence Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allaah’s Leave”

[al-Baqarah 2:102]

i.e., by His universal (kawni) will and decree, not by His legislative (shar’i) will [i.e., He wills that it should happen but He does not enjoin it and He is not pleased by such actions]. For sharee’ah does not allow such things, indeed it forbids them, but by His universal leave He already knows and has already decreed that So and so will do sihr, and that So and so will be affected by sihr, just as He already knows and has already decreed that So and so will be killed, or afflicted with a certain sickness, or will die in a certain land, and will receive such and such provision, or will be rich or poor. All of that happens by the will and decree of Allaah, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation as written in the Book of Decrees Al‑Lawh Al‑Mahfooz)[al-Qamar 54:49]

 “No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al‑Lawh Al‑Mahfooz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allaah”

[al-Hadeed 57:22]

 The evils that come at the hands of the magicians or others do not happen because our Lord is ignorant, for He knows all things and nothing at all is hidden from Him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, Allaah is the All-Knower of everything”[al-Anfaal 8:75]

 “that you may know that Allaah has power over all things, and that Allâh surrounds all things in (His) Knowledge”[al-Talaaq 65:12]

 So Allaah knows all things, and nothing happens in His Dominion that He does not will, but He has perfect wisdom and good aims in whatever He decrees should happen to people of honour or humiliation, losing or gaining power, sickness or health, magic and other things.

Everything that happens to people happens by the will of Allaah and in accordance with His prior decree. These magicians may perform their illusions, as stated in the aayah quoted above (interpretation of the meaning):

“They said: ‘O Moosa! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw?’

Moosa said: ‘Nay, throw you (first)!’ Then behold! their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast. [Ta-Ha 20:65-66]

 It appeared to the onlooker as if these sticks and ropes were snakes, moving fast in the valley. They were only sticks and ropes, but the magicians, through what they had learned, made what they demonstrated before the people look different in their eyes to what it really was.

 Allaah says (interpretation if the meaning):

 “by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast”

[Ta-Ha 20:66]

 And in Soorat al-A’raaf Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “He [Moosa] said: ‘Throw you (first).’ So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed a great magic” [al-A’raaf 7:116]

 But in fact their sticks and ropes did not change; it was the people’s sight which changed because of the sihr, so they thought they were snakes, because of the illusion brought about by the magicians. Some people call this taqmeer, which is when the magician does things to make a person not sense reality as it really is, so his eyes do not see what is really there and things may be taken from his shop or his home without him realizing it, i.e., he does not know what is really happening. So he may see a rock as a chicken or as an egg, and so on, because reality has been changed in his eyes because of the confusion wrought by the magician, and because his eyes have been bewitched. There are things that the magicians do with certain substances to make people’s eyes not see what is really happening. This is the kind of magic which Allaah describes as “great” [i.e. serious, powerful] in Soorat al-A’raaf (interpretation of the meaning):

“… So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed a great magic” [al-A’raaf 7:116]

From Majmoo’ Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah li Samaahat al-Shaykh al-‘Allaamah ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him), p. 65

https://islamqa.info/en/9432

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Islam QA: How to deal with sihr (magic/witchcraft)

How to deal with sihr (magic/witchcraft)

Praise be to Allaah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is nothing wrong with ruqyah so long as it does not involve shirk.” He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) performed ruqyah and had it performed for him. There is a lot of good in ruqyah, and a great deal of benefit. Al-Faatihah, Aayat al-Kursiy, “Qul Huwa Allaahu Ahad”, al-Mi’wadhatayn and other aayahs may be recited over the person who has been affected by sihr, as well as good du’aa’s narrated in the ahaadeeth from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), such as the du’aa’ he said when he performed ruqyah for a sick person and said, “Allaahumma Rabb al-naas, adhhib il-ba’s, washfi anta al-Shaafi laa shifaa’a illa shifaa’uka shifaa’an laa yughaadir saqaman (O Allaah, Lord of mankind, remove the harm and heal him, for You are the Healer and there is no healing except Your healing, with a healing which does not leave any disease behind).” This may be repeated three times or more. And it was also narrated from him (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that Jibreel (peace be upon him) performed ruqyah for him and said three times: “Bismillaah arqeeka min kulli shay’in yu’dheeka, wa min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘aynin haasid Allaah yashfeek, bismillaah arqeek (In the name of Allaah I perform ruqyah for you, from every thing that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye may Allaah heal you, in the name of Allaah I perform ruqyah for you).” This is a great ruqyah which was narrated in a saheeh hadeeth from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). It is prescribed to perform ruqyah for the one who has been bitten or stung, and the one who has been affected by sihr, and the one who is sick.

Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi’ah li Samaahat al-Shaykh al-‘Allaamah ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him), p. 70

https://islamqa.info/en/11290

Islam QA: Du‘aa’s (prayers) at times of distress

309: Du‘aa’s (prayers) at times of distress

Praise be to Allaah.

Imaam Ahmad reported from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allaah be pleased with him: "The Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: "There is no slave who, when he is stricken by anxiety and sorrow, says ‘O Allaah, I am Your slave and the son of Your male slave and female slave. My forelock is in Your hand (i.e., You have complete mastery over me), Your command over me is forever executed, and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety’ - but Allaah will remove his sorrow and replace his grief with joy." The people said: "O Messenger of Allaah, we should learn these words." He said: "The one hears them should learn them."

Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that at times of distress, the Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) used to say: "There is no god but Allaah, the All-Great, the Patient; there is no god but Allaah, Lord of the Mighty Throne; there is no god but Allaah, the Lord of heaven, the Lord of earth, and the Lord of the Noble Throne." (reported by al-Bukhaari, may Allaah have mercy on him, no. 5870).

The Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: "The prayer for one stricken by distress is: "O Allaah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye, and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshipped except You." (Reported by Imaam Ahmad in al-Musnad, Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Kitaab al-Adab, Baab maa yaqool idhaa asbaha; see also Saheeh al-Jaami‘, 3388).

Asmaa’ bint ‘Umays said: "The Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said to me: ‘Shall I not teach you some words to say at times of distress? "O Allaah, You are my Lord and I do not associate anything with You."’" (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Kitaab al-salaat, Baab fi’l-istighfaar; see also Saheeh al-Jaami‘, no. 2623).

The Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said to his companions: "Shall I not tell you some words which, if distress or grief befalls any of you and he offers this prayer (supplication), it will bring him joy? It is the du‘aa’ of Dhoo’l-Noon (i.e. Yunus or Jonah): ‘There is no god but You, Glory to You; verily I was one of the wrongdoers.’" (Saheeh al-Jaami‘, no. 2605).

Anas ibn Maalik said: "Whenever something distressed him, the Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) used to say: ‘O Ever-Living, O Self-Sustaining, by Your mercy I seek Your help." (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 3446).

You must recite these du‘aa’s, may Allaah benefit you thereby and replace your sorrow with joy. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him).

Islam Q&A 
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Islam QA

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The noblest of the angelic Messengers, Jibreel, asked the noblest of the human Messengers, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Tell me about the Hour.” He said: “The one who is asked about it is does not know any more about it than the one who is asking” meaning, just as you have no knowledge of it, I have no knowledge of it either. End quote.

Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah, p. 158

And Allaah knows best.

https://islamqa.info/en/101968

Islam QA: al-ghayb al-mutlaq (the unseen in the absolute sense)

101968: No one knows the unseen in the absolute sense except Allaah

Published Date: 2008-08-26

Praise be to Allaah.

Knowledge of the unseen is something that Allaah has kept for Himself, as is indicated by the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Say: “None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allaah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected”

[al-Naml 27:65]

“And with Him are the keys of the Ghayb (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record”

[al-An’aam 6:59]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained these keys as referring to five things which are mentioned in Soorat Luqmaan, where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, Allaah, with Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allaah is All‑Knower, All‑Aware (of things)”

[Luqmaan 31:34].

Al-Bukhaari narrated in his Saheeh (hadeeth no. 4477) that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “Whoever tells you that he knows what will happen tomorrow is lying.” Then she recited, “No person knows what he will earn tomorrow.”

But with regard to this matter it is important to know what is the unseen the knowledge of which Allaah has kept to Himself, because al-ghayb (the unseen) means that which is not seen, and that which is not seen may be either that which is not seen by all of creation – both those who are in the heavens and those who are on earth – this kind of unseen is known to no one but Allaah, and this is that which is called al-ghayb al-mutlaq (the unseen in the absolute sense); or this unseen matter may be unseen for some people, and known to some others. This is called unseen for the one who is ignorant of it, but it is not unseen or unknown to all people, and knowledge of it is not unique to Allaah. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah (p. 158): What is meant by the unseen is that which is not seen. The unseen is something relative. But that which is unseen in the absolute sense (al-ghyab al-mutlaq) is known only to Allaah. End quote.

What fortune-tellers say of things that will happen in the future has nothing to do with the unseen or with knowledge of the unseen, and it is not knowledge of what will happen in the future. Rather they are liars who make false claims. But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has told us that they steal knowledge of that which Allaah has revealed to His angels. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: Some people asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about fortune-tellers, and he said: “They are nothing.” They said: O Messenger of Allaah, they say something and it comes true. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “That is a word of truth which the jinni snatches and cackles into the ear of his familiar like the cackling of a hen, and they mix more than one hundred lies with it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7561).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained how the jinn steal this word. He said: “…when our Lord, may His name be blessed and exalted, decrees some matter, the bearers of the Throne glorify Him, then the people of heaven who are closest to them glorify Him, until the tasbeeh reaches the people of the lowest heaven. Then those who are nearest to the bearers of the Throne say: What did your Lord say? And they tell them what He said. And the people of heaven ask one another for the news, until the news reaches the lowest heaven. Then the eavesdropping jinn snatch what they can and convey it to their familiars. What they narrated as they heard it is true, but they add lies to it.” Narrated by Muslim (2229).

From this it is clear that the jinn do not have knowledge of the unseen, rather they steal words that they hear from the angels, but the angels themselves do not have any knowledge of that unless Allaah tells them of it. After they are told of it, it is no longer regarded as unseen in the absolute sense, but before that they are like anyone else in creation and do not know anything of the unseen. This depends on Allaah’s telling them of it. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

““(He Alone is) the All‑Knower of the Ghayb (Unseen), and He reveals to none His Ghayb (Unseen)”

[al-Jinn 72:26].

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The noblest of the angelic Messengers, Jibreel, asked the noblest of the human Messengers, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Tell me about the Hour.” He said: “The one who is asked about it is does not know any more about it than the one who is asking” meaning, just as you have no knowledge of it, I have no knowledge of it either. End quote.

Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah, p. 158

And Allaah knows best.

https://islamqa.info/en/101968

‘You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not’

‘You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not’ refers to the fact that power and knowledge belong to Allaah alone, and the slave has no share of them except what Allaah decrees for him.

I have excerpted this from Islam QA 

https://islamqa.info/en/2217

2217: How to pray istikhaarah from Islam QA

2217: How to pray istikhaarah

Assalam alaikum. How do I pray salat al istikhara, at what times , and are there special dua that I can read for different cicumstances?

Published Date: 1998-06-24

Praise be to Allaah.

The description of Salaat al-Istikhaarah was reported by Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Salami (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:

“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach his companions to make istikhaarah in all things, just as he used to teach them soorahs from the Qur’aan. He said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say: Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi (O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”

(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6841; similar reports are also recorded by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad).

Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, commenting on this hadeeth:

“Istikhaarah is a word which means asking Allaah to help one make a choice, meaning choosing the best of two things where one needs to choose one of them.

Concerning the phrase ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to teach us to make istikhaarah in all things,’ Ibn Abi Jamrah said: ‘It is a general phrase which refers to something specific. With regard to matters that are waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (liked or encouraged), there is no need for istikhaarah to decide whether to do them, and with regard to matters that are haraam (forbidden) or makrooh (disliked), there is no need for istikhaarah to decide whether to avoid them. The issue of istikhaarah is confined to matters that are mubaah (allowed), or in mustahabb matters when there is a decision to be made as to which one should be given priority.’ I say: it refers to both great and small matters, and probably an insignificant issue could form the groundwork for a big issue.

The phrase ‘If any one of you is concerned…’ appears in the version narrated by Ibn Mas’ood as: ‘if any one of you wants to do something…’

‘Let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer.’ This is mentioned to make it clear that it does not mean fajr prayer, for example. Al-Nawawi said in al-Adhkaar: He can pray istikaarah after two rak’ahs of regular sunnah prayer done at zuhr for example, or after two rak’ahs of any naafil prayers whether they are regularly performed or not… It seems to be the case that if he made the intention to pray istikhaarah at the same time as intending to pray that particular prayer, this is fine, but not if he did not have this intention.

Ibn Abi Jamrah said: The wisdom behind putting the salaat before the du’aa’ is that istikhaarah is intended to combine the goodness of this world with the goodness of the next. A person needs to knock at the door of the King (Allaah), and there is nothing more effective for this than prayer, because it contains glorification and praise of Allaah, and expresses one's need for Him at all times.

The phrase ‘then let him say’ would seem to imply that the du’aa’ should be said after finishing the prayer, and the word thumma (then) probably means after reciting all the words of the salaat and before saying salaam.

The phrase ‘O Allaah, I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge’ is explaining ‘because You know best.’ Similarly, ‘by virtue of Your power’ most likely means ‘seeking Your help.’ ‘I seek ability’ (astaqdiruka) means ‘I ask You to give me the power or ability (qudrah) to do’ whatever is being asked for, or it probably means ‘I ask You to decree (tuqaddir) this for me.’ So it may mean making it easy.

‘I ask You of Your great bounty’ refers to the fact that Allaah gives out of His great generosity, but no one has the right to His blessings. This is the opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah.

‘You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not’ refers to the fact that power and knowledge belong to Allaah alone, and the slave has no share of them except what Allaah decrees for him.

‘O Allaah, if in Your knowledge this matter…’ According to one report, he should mention it by name. It is apparent from the context that he should state it, but it is probably sufficient to be thinking of the matter whilst making this du’aa’.

‘Then ordain it for me’ means ‘make it happen for me’ or it may mean ‘make it easy for me.’

‘Then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it’ means ‘so that my heart will no longer feel attached to it after it has been turned away.’

‘Make me pleased with it’ means ‘make me content with it, so that I will never regret asking for it or be sorry that it happened, because I do not know how it will turn out, even if at the time of asking I am pleased with it.’

The secret is that one’s heart should not be attached to the matter in question, because that will result in a person becoming restless. Being pleased with something means that one’s heart is content with the decree of Allaah.

(Summarized from the commentary of al-Haafiz Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) on the hadeeth in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Da’waat and Kitaab al-Tawheed.).

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Friday, August 5, 2016

Part FIVE: Conversations with An Imaginary Girlfriend....

Mad at me?

Nope.

Ok. I am sorry. I was very harsh.

Nope. You werent and it is okay. You dont have to apologize or anything.

You are so withdrawn since then....

Bout of anger.

Ya. Does anger management stuff work?

Nothing better than Yoga.

You think so? I do that.

What you do is telly yoga.

Meaning?

Do the real stuff.

Define real stuff.

The Himalayan sage Yoga.

Sweetie....help me find a sage from the Himalayas in the first place!

Hmm.

Do they do boot camp? What is the real meaning of Yoga? You never fail to answer my rapid–fire questions. That never fails to amaze me. Define that ability.

It is Yoga!

Very funny. Dont dodge. Define. What is it? What do you call it? And, dont say it is intuition please!

It is intuition. What else!

How come you have it and I dont have it.

You have it too. You just have to hone it a little more.

Do you have supernatural powers?

Hush!

You serious?

Yep.

Like what?

Bilocation.

Really?

Yep.

You mean I have been living with a great modern-day Indian mystic and I didnt realize it?

Mystic? Nope. Dervish. Dervish. I am a Dervish.

What is the difference?

Anyways. Prove it.

Prove what?

Bilocation. And, your just professed occult powers.

I dont know how to do that but it happens.

Scary.

Maybe you are doing weird stuff and getting chummy with Jinns. Maybe voodoo and all. I cant trust you anymore. Freak!

Hmm. Yep....black magic is a dreadful thing....I shouldnt hobnob with the Jinns!

Maqsood: Please....Dont scare me.

Okay.

Yoga is subjective.

Why did it take you ages to answer that?

Anyways. Thanks, sweetie.

You are welcome.

Smarty–pants.

Yep.

You never told me that?

What?

That you are a Dervish and all. Maybe this place is haunted.

Yep. I feel force field.

What is that?

I dont know. There is something....and it emits energy.

Energy?

Yep.

And, you think it is a being?

Yep.

Invisible?

Baby.

Ok.

Why would those beings visit our place?

I dont know.

Tell me. You are Smarty–pants. You think I should call an exorcist?

Nope.

Why not? It might turn hostile.

I dont think so.

Maqsood: You are crazy.

You didnt tell me this....

Yep. I am sorry.

Maqsood.

Baby. I am really sorry.

Dont give me your elbow room theory.

Maybe it is mutating.

Baby stop watching alien movies. You are jumpy.

Harmless alien right? Why here?

I dont know.

Tell me. Maybe aliens are serendipitous like you. It is definitely something more than mere....plain....naive serendipity. Maqsood: You are warped....twisted....sicko....I dunno. Frankenstein.... Tell me about Shamanism.

I am a shaman. But Orthodox Islam doesnt let you venture into all those domains.

You are a shaman. You are a Dervish. You are Mister nobody. Can we coexist?

You and I?

No....idiot....that alien and us? Maybe we should tell a research scholar or a scientist about this phenomenon....They might demystify this force field stuff. Maybe it is not an alien. Why are we so obsessed with aliens?

Let us not disturb it. Maybe they are obsessed with us too.

You mean....particularly.....specifically you and I or humans in general?

I mean....maybe they think we are the most suitable human specimen.

Couple?

Yep.

Maybe they are studying your bisexual leanings!
Maybe they have a panacea for us.
Maybe they would tell us about some secret El Dorado.
Maybe it is an oracle.
Maybe you are on the same wavelength....that is why it is here.
Maybe its sexual orientation like yours is questionable! hehehehe

Baby you are an atheist.

No. I am not.

God.

What?

Dont tell me there is a Divine purpose....

Destiny.

What?

Where is it....by the way?

Kitchen.

God.

Scared?

Dunno.

Do you sense....feel that thing anywhere else?

Nope. I dont remember.

Ok.

Why kitchen?

It is deserted. Plausible reason....

Not exactly kitchen.

Then.

Its vicinity.

Ok.

Maybe it is not an alien? Maybe it is just a Jinn? Is is still there?

Nope.

Ok.

Sweetie.

Yep.

Ask it....does it play chess.

Ask it....Why 64 squares.

Maqsood: You are a hypocrite. We are not supposed to invoke or seek Jinns help right? Orthodox Islam prohibits that right? The Almighty God says in The Holy Quran that: “Will you then take him (Iblees) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me…?” [al-Kahf 18:50]

Doesnt the same principle apply to aliens?

And, God is: Lord of the Alameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists) right? So we cant invoke and seek help from all those beings....let us call all of them aliens for simplicity....a broad....blanket term.

Am I right, Smarty–pants?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Part FOUR: Conversations with An Imaginary Girlfriend....

Why do you have such reverence for shepherds?

I believe all The Prophets were shepherds.

How about The Messengers?

I dont know. I am not sure.

Okay.

What is the difference between a Prophet and a Messenger?

I looked that up....but I forgot.

Okay.

Chess....

What about it?

Rook and all. Pawn...Queen....someone hundreds of years ago assigned them powers. Simply put: Those are the rules of the game. Nobody breaks them. Maybe we have changed the rules a little bit.

What are you getting at?

Does this sound plagiarized or original?

I dunno. You are very shrewd.

Tell me more about shepherds.

Why rook.... pawn....why not something else?

That how wars were fought in those days...duh...isnt that obvious?

No. The man or men who invented The Game of Chess must be quite intelligent.

Ya. So? Maybe a woman or women invented it. You are a male chauvinist.

Nope. I am not.

Yes...you are.

Okay.

Dont tell me chess is not chess it is something else...legacy of your ancestors....it denotes something else...and all that stuff. Even if you are right by any chance....it cant be more than an educational game for adults that might help them learn war strategies of your Stone Age ancestors.....that has no relevance today.

Nope. Nope.

Then....what?

Snakes and Ladders. Why do you love that game? Tell me about it.

Later. Let us talk about chess now.

Boring.

Baby.

Okay.

Thanks.

Chessboard....

Ya.

Why 64 squares?

Let me interrupt you....

Baby....NO!

Please....

God....Okay.....

Sorry....you think Indians invented chess?

Yep.

Scarecrow?

Yep.

Snakes and Ladders?

Yep.

Ancient Indians were smarty–pants like you....you got their genes....so naturally you too....

Baby....be serious....

I am serious....okay....go on....

Chessboard.

I thought you hate redundancy.

Yep.

Anyways.

Why 64 squares?

I dunno. Tell me.

Solar system.

Elaborate. By the way, this is purely hypothetical....and has no sound basis....

I know.

Why do we write?

Why do we write what?

Letters.

Give me an example of an epistolary novel.

Your favorite: Daddy-Long-Legs.

I love you so much. You are my baby. My Honeypot.

Does he say this to her? Maybe there is an updated version?

Nope. I am saying this to you.

So you are saying we write letters because we care....we love....

If someone close to you stops writing to you....

I would get worried after a while....

Hmm.

What?

What is an Email?

A more advanced form of postal system.

Yep.

No stamps. Do you miss that?

Can I give you a piece of advice weirdo?

Okay. What?

Do you really expect any girl to know the meaning of epistolary? Do you know the meaning of restraining order? Maqsood: Believe me....you are seriously retarded....and, I dont want to continue this....live in relationship.

Baby.

Fine. Continue.

Wait. Why do you love Homing Pigeons? Tell me about them. Maybe all these are somehow connected....right?

Your Blog Post about....

We were discussing chess.

Yep. But I want to tell you something about communication first.

Okay.

You know what hurts us the most when someone close to us dies?

What?

We cant communicate and share with them anymore. Never again. Never. That is exactly when we understand the real meaning of the word never. This word NEVER sinks in...
Perhaps that is why we abhor death....That is why a rogue medium thrives....cons a gullible....grieving relative of the deceased.

Memories.

Memories?

Yep.

Maqsood: Your intuition is very poor tonight....so SLEEP!

This topic is boring. Tell me about symbiosis.

Baby.

What?

Define Light?
Define Fire?
Define Bug?
Define Bugbear?

Bugs get attracted to light.

Hmm. Is that definition of light?

Nope. Observation.

And, my observation is: You wont use the word friend but sidekick right....for instance....You are pedantic! hehehehe

Okay. Define: Light.

I dont know. I would give it a serious try....

Hehehehe See....I told you....you should be put in a straitjacket!

Light is....

Stop stammering and give me its definition.

Okay. I am trying.

Okay.

Maybe light is....

Maqsood: Sleep. Turn off the light! Dont forget. But damn....you are so scared of darkness! You wont say fear of darkness you would use a special word for it nyctophobia....right? Okay....Define: Nyctophobia.

Baby dont mock me please.

I am not....

You are a nerd.

Nope. I am not.

See....you wont even say no....

Now....you would give me an unsolicited explanation....

No wonder....you have schizophrenia!

You write pulp on your Blog and expect people to read it and give you feedback!

How old are you?

You are a psychopath!

Nope. I am not.

Serial killer!

Nope. I am not.

Nazi.

See....you didnt even deny!

Okay. I dont really mean to be rude....you are a learned individual but I cant marry you....and we cant live like this forever. Stigma. Repercussions....blah, blah, blah!

Have you ever seen UFO: An unidentified flying object....flying saucer?

Nope. I havent.

Did aliens abduct you?

Nope. They didnt.

See you just affirmed that aliens exist!

Nope. I didnt.

You falsify.

You are an awe-inspiring conversationalist!

Nope. I am not.

Traumatized childhood?

Define dignity.

Tell me about your theory of cathartic Blogging and medicinal leech!

Later.

See....I just nuked you.

Uncalled for hostilities.

I am doing this because I want you to stop....quit loving me.

Stop....quit loving you?

Ya. Duh! You are very different. We are too different even for a symbiotic relationship.

I am NOT your soul mate. Please DO NOT give up your QUEST sweetie!

You are NOT my soul mate?

Bastard!

Shh!....baby that is profanity!

Ya. Ya.

Mister lady–killer? You should be flogged!

That is pretty draconian!

Dungeon!

Tell me about fencing? Do you like it?

Nope. But a mounted swordsman....yep.

You are a sissy!

Define saboteur?

I would zap the maverick in you eventually and enslave you. You are nothing more than a doomed parakeet. STOP muttering!

And, SLEEP!