SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The first-ever call to Muslim prayer was heard for the Friday prayer at Fittja Grand Mosque in Sweden.
Muslim worshippers gathered for the Friday prayer, or Jummah, at a mosque in Stockholm which saw the first-ever call to prayer (adhan) to be recited in Sweden.
Sweden's state-run television broadcast live while Fittja Grand Mosque's imam recited the prayer call (adhan) via a loudspeaker from the minaret.
"I have been living in Sweden for 25 years and this is the first time I have ever heard the adhan from the minaret. I am very happy," Guluz Kayhan told Turkish press as she tried to hold her tears back.
"This is a historic day," said Iman Upmann, a Swede converted to Islam 13 years ago.
Earlier in April, local police ruled to allow the prayer calls following a September 2012 decision by local government to remove a ban on reciting the adhan from minarets. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Features and conditions of acceptance of our daily prayers
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Your question can be diversified into sub-questions and each one should be studied alone to reach up a complete and perfect answer.
1- Does the verse in the chapter of Al-Kahf refer to the origin of building mosques over graves or not?
2- Is it possible that there are some particular sites of a particular value that makes them places of blessing?
3- Does praying to Allah (swt) beside graves contradict with worshiping Him, even when we consider that the grave is in the direction of the prayer? What is the opinion of the Shiite in this issue with regards of what the Imams say about that?
Concerning the first part related to the verse 21 of the chapter of Al-Kahf; which the questioner referred to mistakenly as 33, the verse obviously declare that the believers insisted on building a mosque over the cemetery of the people in the cave, there was no objection or criticism of that in the Quran. If this act contradicts with the creed and principles of religion, the Quran would have rebuked them for doing it, and would refer to their deviancy from truth. Besides, this historical fact is related in the books of the Sunnis as well; in some of these books and after the exegesis of the verse «We verily shall build a place of worship over them» there are traditions mentioned denote the fact of the prohibition of building mosques over graves. Similarly, such traditions are related in the books of the Shia.
This caused a dispute amongst the scholars and thinkers, trying to resolve the issue without disregarding the clear denotation of the verse which authorizes the building of mosques over graves, and simultaneously take into consideration these related traditions which on the other hand prohibit this act. There should be a joining of the verse and the traditions to avoid the contradiction.
Some Sunni scholars justified the prohibition of building mosques over graves as follows: those who built a mosque over the graves of the people of cave are infidels (disbelievers), even if they were believers, their act is considered undesirable. In joining them in such a manner it appears that the surface meaning of the verse is being avoided and it is an attempt to cancel the whole issue. But as said before, not rebuking those people for this act is an evidence that the Quran upholds them.
Al- Majlisi, a great Shia scholar, joined the verse and the related tradition as follows:
(May the Jews and the Christians be damned for making their prophet's graves places of worship), they used to direct their prayer towards these graves, as if they are idols. However, those who build mosques beside the grave of a righteous man or pray in a cemetery intending to gain a blessing from that and not for the purpose of glorifying the dead in the grave will not be wronged. Do you not realize that Ismail's grave is in the sacred sanctuary and the prayer performed in its spot is greatly rewarded?).
Other Sunni scholars took this issue into consideration, saying that these traditions do not contradicts with the permissibility of building mosques over graves and seeking blessing in them.
To conclude, the purpose of building mosques over graves should not be to take them as places of idolatry and paganism, a fact emphasized in the tradition of the Prophet (pbuh): (Oh Allah, let not my grave be an idol of worship).
However, building mosques around the graves and praying inside them in the direction that Allah (swt) has decreed for us is not a problem.
The other evidence that could sustain this matter is that the Prophet and two of his companions were buried in a spot near the Prophet's mosque. In the last enlargement, the graves became inside the sanctuary, yet no scholar prohibited praying inside the mosque on account of the three graves, and no one referred to any of the prohibitive traditions as well. In addition to that, the prayer performed in the sanctuary of the Prophet's mosque does not differ from that being performed in the Imams' shrines.
In viewing the second part of the question there should be a thorough study and analysis of some issues. As Muslims we believe that:
1- Allah (swt) is not restricted to a certain place or direction, «Unto Allah belong the East and the West, and whithersoever ye turn, there is Allah's Countenance».
2- Allah (swt) has defined a particular place for people to orient themselves to in the prayer on account of organizing their worship. Muslims in the time of the Prophet prayed in two different directions, one of them being towards the sacred mosque in Jerusalem, the other being towards Mecca. In other words, the direction of the prayer does not retain a value in itself, but its value comes from its being a means to worship and obey Allah (swt); a fact that has been explicitly referred to in the Quran.
3- We, as Muslims, never prostrate to any one but Allah (swt) as the Imams enjoined us to do. And as for prostrating towards a person or a definite thing, it does not mean that we worship that thing; our prostration towards the Kaaba does not signify that we are specifically worshiping it. Do we intend to worship Allah (swt) or the Kaaba when we prostrate towards it? And when Allah (swt) enjoined the Angels to prostrate before Adam, was that to lead them to associate with him (Allah forbids); therefore, Satan is the only monotheist when he refuses to prostrate and he is the only one to succeed in this test, while the Angels abandoned the worship of Allah (swt) and turned to be Adam's worshippers?!
We believe that prostration is an act that shows obedience to Allah (swt), and when He orders us to perform it before someone else we submit to that, considering it to be part of our submission to Him and disobeying Allah (swt) in doing that means that we are associating with Him. Besides, our obedience in directing our prayer towards the Kaaba does not mean that our prostration is not for Allah (swt).
4- We also believe, as Muslims, that the heavens and the earth belong to Allah (swt) and that performing some acts of worship in some particular sites brings back much greater reward than their being performed in other places, such sites are the sanctuary in Mecca and the Prophet's mosque in Medina, where they have privilege over other places in regard to the worship being performed in them. The Prophet says in that: (A prayer performed in my mosque is much rewarded than in any other mosque except for the Sacred Sanctuary).
In the Shiite creed, the prayer and the worship bring greater reward once they are done in the Imam's (a) shrines as well as the sites mentioned above. And the restrictions in which these acts are shaped in show no sign of association with Allah (swt).
It is not relevant to mention the benefits of visiting these shrines, as it is not part of your question but if you have any interest in being acquainted with them you may go to the research that has been done regarding this matter; one of them is question number 3295 in this website.
As for the third part of the question we may point to some traditions related to this topic:
1- (Al-moqdadi narrated that Imam Zain Al- Abedeen (p) arrived in Kufa and entered its mosque, where Abu Hamza Al-Thumali was there; one of the most devoted worshippers in Kufa. He prayed and supplicated, until he said: then I followed him to the wilderness of Kufa, where I saw a black slave with a camel, I asked: O slave! who is this man? He replied: Have not you recognized him? He is Ali Bin Al-Hussain (a). Abu Hamza said: I knelt down at his feet kissing them, then he raised my head and said: (No, Abu Hamza, prostration is only before Allah (swt) be He Glorified, I said: O son of Prophet why did you come to us? He said: Because of what I have seen, had the people known the great reward in it they would have crept to attain it) 
2- (Abu al-Yessa narrated: a man asked Abu Abdullah and I was listening, he said: If I arrived at Al-Hussein's grave (p) shall I make it the direction of my prayer? He said: step aside the grave).
3- There are traditions which indeed recommend the visitors of the shrines to stand in the side of the head when praying in the sanctuary, which means that if someone is honored by visiting the Imams, it is good for them to know that the side of the head is the best to perform the prayer in. The purpose behind that is to show reverence to the Imams because standing to pray where the grave is behind you is a sign of disrespect to those great people. Apparently some people understood that to be enjoining the visitors to prostrate before the graves, while in reality people are praying near the shrines in the direction decreed for them to follow by Allah (swt); which is the Kaaba. These traditions aims at denoting that showing respect to the Prophet and the Imams is a desirable thing whether in their lives or after their deaths. It also believed that their position and rank are much greater than that of the martyrs mentioned in the Quran to be alive.
Based on what is said previously we think that the Prophet and the Imams listen to us when we visit them, and reply to our greeting, which is not to say that we are heedless of Allah (swt). The Imams commanded the believers to begin the recitation of the Al-Jamia prayer (الزیارة الجامعة) with the reptition of (Allah is the Greatest) a hundered times.
Moreover, respecting The Prophet and the Imams and visiting their graves after their death do not intermingle with worshipping Allah (swt).
Finally, we reach up to a result that performing the prayer or even supplicating near the shrines of those great people is permissible, being aware of the nessecity to reflect at their lives and struggles as they are elevated people.
What you said about the direction of the prayer and its being sometimes in the same direction of the graves is right. But do you think that a person who is praying in the sanctuary should change his place; though he is directing his prayer to the Kaba, just to keep praying beside the shrine while the sanctuary is crowded with people and he can barely find a foothold? This has not been even confirmed by any of the Muslims sects. There are strong related Traditions which order us not to make the graves the intended direction we are praying to, and yet no one talked about the prayer being unrighteous in such cases.
If the worshippers in the shrines prayed in the direction of the graves forming a circle as the worshippers do in the sanctuary of the Kaaba then it is possible to accuse them and consider them to be prostrating before the graves. But when they are performing their prayer in a shrine where the grave happened to be in the direction of the prayer, then it is not a problem at all, and insisting to accuse them is unfair as well as arrogant. What would you say about the people praying with Ibrahim's place facing them? Do we say that they are praying before the place or the Kaaba?
There are some ignorant people who deviate completely from the direction of the Kaaba; their prayer is not only considered wrong by the Shiite, but they are also condemned and avoided from doing that and having such rare cases is not to say that they only belong to the Shiite sect.
 Tabari, Abu Jafer Mohammed bin Jareer, Jame Al Bayan Fi Tafseer al Quran, vol 15, pg 149, Al Ma’arif Publishing, Beirut, 1412 H.
 Qurdubi, Mohammed bin Ahmed, Al Jame Le Ahkam Al Quran, vol 11, pg 379, Naser Khosro publishing, Tehran, 1364 H S.
 For example: Refer to: Al Sheikh Al Sadooq, Man la yahdoroho al faqeeh, vol 1, pg 178, Tradition 532, Islamic publishing institution, Qum, 1413 H.
 Qurdubi, vol 11, pg 379.
 Ibn Katheer, Exegesis of the great Quran, vol 5, pages 133 - 134, Scientific Books Publishing, Beirut, 1419 H.
 Majlisi, Mohammed Baqer, Bihar Al Anwar, vol 79, pg 56, Alwafa Publishing, Beirut, 1404 H.
 Al Modheri, Mohammed Thanaa Allah, Al Modheri exegesis, vol 6, pg 25, Roshdiya library, Pakistan, 1412 H.
 Qurdubi, Mohammed bin Ahmed, Al Jame Le Ahkam Al Quran, vol 11, pg 379.
 Chapter Al Baqara, 115.
 Chapter Al Baqara, 142 - 145.
 Chapters: Al Baqara, 34; Al Araf, 11; Al Esra, 61; Al Kahf, 50; etc….
 Qurdubi, Mohammed bin Ahmed, Al Jame Le Ahkam Al Quran, vol 10, pg 372.
 Al Horr Al Ameli, Mohammed bin Al Hacen, Wasael As Sheaa, vol 14, pages 407 - 408, Tradition 19474, Ahlulbayt institution, Qum, 1409 H.
 Ibid, vol 14, pg 519, Tradition 19731.
 Ibid, vol 14, pg 519, Tradition 19730, and pg 520, Tradition 19732.
 Chapter Al-Emran, 169.
 Majlisi, Bihar Al Anwar, vol 99, pg 127.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- "Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer," according to the Huffington Post UK this morning, a website whose existence I've been trying to ignore since it launched. This is "according to a new survey in the run-up to Easter." Which august research institution came up with these statistics? Why the Church of England of course, a religious movement whose success in recent years has been so great that it needs PR gimmicks to advertise the death of Christ.
It gets better. As the British Humanist Association's CEO, Andrew Copson, pointed out on Twitter earlier, the survey in question doesn't actually ask whether people believe in the power of prayer, or anything remotely similar. The full ICM survey is available on their website, and includes only one question for the C of E:
Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, What would it be for?
19% of respondents didn't know or said that they would never pray for anything, and this has been reinterpreted by the Church's crack spinners to produce the bogus headline above, distributed via the Press Association and regurgitated by various copy-hungry media outlets. Of course the ninth commandment tells: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," which is old-person-speak for "don't make stuff up." Or as Exodus puts it, "You shall not spread a false report." A newspaper report, say, spread through a wire agency.
What's particularly fun about this survey is that when you examine it in detail you realise that it's full of uncomfortable implications. Whether you're a Christian or an atheist, it makes the British people look like pretty terrible human beings.
As an atheist, if it were really true that 4 in 5 people believed in the power of prayer, then I'd nail myself to a cross now and be done with it. It's not the stupidity that bothers me so much as the self-entitled arrogance required to believe that there's an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent deity who looks like you and will do whatever you ask him to do, like some sort of celestial concierge service.
31% of respondents said that they would pray for peace in the world. Given the noticeable absence of world peace, there are only a few ways this plays out. Either nobody has gotten around to praying yet, in which case people are callous bastards; or God has ignored them all, in which case God is a callous bastard; or prayer doesn't work, in which case the Christian movement is the equivalent of a town full of people still trying to call the number of their local Papa Johns two thousand years after it closed down and the phone was disconnected, speaking at the error tone even though nobody has picked up, then spotting a pizza in the supermarket two days later and insisting that it must have arrived by the grace of Papa Johns.
27% of respondents said that they would pray for an end to poverty in the world. People could choose more than one answer to the question, so that means that probably less than half of those surveyed would pray for world peace or an end to poverty, even when it didn't cost them a prayer 'slot'. Around 20% wouldn't pray at all, even hypothetically, which means that about a third of people, given some prayers to use, would deem healing themselves, reducing their stress, helping their families and getting rich to be infinitely more important than fixing the whole planet. To be fair, the figures aren't the same for the Welsh, who are either more selfish or less likely to lie about it.
It's pretty rich for an institution that sets itself up as some sort of moral arbiter for the nation to be using misleading statistics in this way, but what worries me more is that it's dangerous. In recent years we've seen communities in the UK fall victim to predatory Evangelical Christians spreading belief in prayer healing, with some pretty horrific results when people stop taking real medicine as a result. Pastors in London have been persuading vulnerable people with HIV to stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs; and an investigation by Sky News found churches in major cities across Britain claiming to cure HIV through prayer, with medical staff telling reporters of at least six cases where people had died as a result.
The Church of England may not be promoting faith healing in this survey, but the institution has a history of dubious behaviour in this area, and surveys like this will act as a dog whistle for some. This is not the kind of behavior a responsible church should be encouraging, especially for a tacky PR stunt.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The point in the question is neither hundred percent acceptable nor is it hundred percent refutable, but it depends squarely on the type of the sin and the person who commits it. There are some sins like shirk(polytheism) which is not forgivable at all. Similarly, violating or not fulfilling people's rights is a sin which is not forgivable through others' prayers and invocation. In fact, it is forgiven only through compensation and satisfying those whose rights have not been fulfilled.
Sometimes a sinner commits a sin due to ignorance in which case he is likely to be forgiven after he turns to Allah with regret and repentance. Sometimes, he commits a sin out of mere rebellion and disobedience in which case he needs to compensate for his mistake and redeem himself. Compensation for the bad effect of the sin can be made by the sinner himself or by other individuals.
Of course, man does not deserve to get more than what he earns through endeavor and efforts. However, it does not mean that Gods' bounties will cease to reach him through divine grace and favor. Being entitled is one thing and divine grace is another.
Moreover, others' act of kindness, favor, prayers and intercession do not remain unaccounted for as they somehow originate in one's own individual effort. For example, intercession needs endeavor and creating a spiritual relationship with the intercessor. Intercession requires eligibility and growth ability in the same way as a plant cannot grow to a perfect level until it receives water, earth, light and have all the potentials and capacity to grow with the help of these elements.
To clarify the answer to the question, we must make mention of the following points:
1. Every sin has two aspects one of which relates to the act of defiance or disobedience (an oppression committed against God) and another relates to the sinner cum other individuals of society (oppression committed against people and the sinner).
2. Keeping in view the various circumstances in which a sin is committed, the sins and the sinners are not at the same level and they do not get the same treatment.
For example, the Quran, addressing the Holy Prophet's wives, says: "O wives of the prophet! whoever of you commits an open indecency, the punishment shall be increased to her doubly; and this is easy to Allah."
3. In another categorization, the sins are divided into two kinds – the rights of God and the rights of people – and it has been narrated that: "God never forgives [the sinner who does not fulfill people's rights except for when the owner of the right (he whose right has been violated) exempts him."Thus, the sins that relate to human rights are never forgivable through prayers and repentance of the sinner or other people irrespective of whether forgiveness is sought during the sinner's lifetime or after his death. Unless the people whose rights have been violated give their consent and exempt the violator of their rights he remains liable to divine punishment. For example, if a person has usurped another person's property or caused it to perish, God will not forgive him unless he whose right has been violated exempts the sinner or forgoes his right.
4. The sins are divided into minor and major ones. A major sin is a sin, which according to Islam, is so important that it has not only been strictly forbidden but God, the Almighty, has also promised to punish the sinner. These sins include fornication, murder of an innocent person, receiving usury etc. as stated in the narrations. As for a minor sin, it is a sin that has been forbidden only.
The Holy Quran has promised to forgive the minor sin. It says:
"If you shun the great sins which you are forbidden, We will do away with your small sins and cause you to enter an honorable place of entering."
According to the holy verse, if a person abstains from major sins, his minor sins will also be forgiven. However, it should be noted that under certain circumstances, the minor sins change into major ones and the sinner will be subjected to punishment in Hell. That is, most of the minor sins change into major ones whose perpetrator God has promised to punish.
5. The sinners are divided into two groups:
a) Those who commit sins on account of ignorance and lack of knowledge in which case he is forgiven after he turns to Allah with regret and repentance. God, the Glorified, has promised to forgive those who repent and make up for their sin. The divine promise is fulfilled exclusively in regard to them.
b) Those sinners who commit sins knowingly and do not seek repentance will not be forgiven. There is no doubt that divine forgiveness will not include them.
It is clear from the above that divine forgiveness and any change in the situation of the sinners are possible only with those sins which God has promised to forgive after the causes for forgiveness has been made available.
As for how a person who has been deviated and committing sins throughout his life is forgiven with others' invocation and good deeds, we should say that it is not true with all deviated and sinful people; the situation of all the sinners will not change with others' prayers and invocation. In fact, there are some sins which God has promised to forgive even with others' prayers and good deeds because God says, "the good deeds wipe out (the effects) of the bad deeds."
It does not make a difference whether the sinner himself does good deeds to wipe out the effects his sins or someone else does good deeds and dedicates its reward to the sinful person. Good deeds, as indicated in the traditions, wipe out the sins and their effects.
We have many traditions which says that when a person passes away from this world, and others (like his sons or other people) do good deeds such as prayers, fasting, Hajj, Sadaqa, freeing a slave etc. and dedicate the reward of these actions to the deceased person, the rewards of these actions will reach him.
Certainly, if the reward of the good deeds done by another person and dedicated to the sinner is plentiful enough to wipe out the effects of the sinner's sin, it will make up for his sin also. Divine justice requires the sins committed by the sinner to be wiped out by the good deeds that serve as worthy compensation. God, the Exalted, has opened this way [to the servants of God] on the tongue of His Prophet (pbuh).
In this world also, if a person commits an offence and harms another person, and if a third individual reimburses him for the damage, he will surely be satisfied and if he is not satisfied, others' will reproach him. Therefore, one should not wonder and question as to how the sin of a sinner who has died is compensated by other people's good deeds.
Definitely, if a person has been committing so many sins that even if all the good-doing people pray for him and dedicate the rewards of their deeds to him, they will not make up for his numerous sins, in this case, his sins will never be forgiven with others' good deeds; rather his sins will be reduced and that God will consider some concession for him.
It should be noted that since God, the Glorified, is Just and Wise and He does not commit any oppression against any of His servants and does not waste their rewards, it is likely that God may forgive those whom we consider to be sinful and entitled to punishment (because we are not fully aware of their actions and deeds), but God has knowledge of everything and He knows things which we are unaware of. If he forgives someone, it should be because of the good deeds which we have no knowledge of.
It should also be noted that since invocation and seeking forgiveness for others are often because of the positive aspects and good deeds which they have done, otherwise, if there is someone who does not have a single positive point in his life and that all his life has been full of sins, no one including his relatives will pray sincerely for his forgiveness. And if his relatives themselves are bad people, their prayers will not be answered and if they are good people, they do not remember any good thing about him so as to pray beseechingly for him.
When it comes to the consistency between verse 21 of Chapter Tur which says "And (as for) those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring and We will not deprive them (of the fruit) of aught of their works" whereas the offspring has not made any endeavor and also the prophetic tradition according to which whoever performs a good deed, the fruit of their good deeds reach his children and the verse which says "there is not anything for man except what he achieves through endeavor", they are reconcilable. According to the Quran, man does not deserve to get more than what he earns through endeavor and efforts. However, it does not mean that Gods' bounties will cease to reach him through divine grace and favor. Being entitled is one thing and divine grace is another. If a person does a good deed, God bestows him rewards ten folds or hundred folds of the good deed.
Besides this, intercession is not something easy to achieve. It also needs some endeavor and spiritual communion with the intercessor. Also as to the joining of the offspring of those who dwell in Paradise, the Quran says that they will join them only if they follow them in faith.
In regards to intercessions, Allamah Muhammad Hussein Tabatabai says in his Tafsir al-Mizan: "In other words, when he wants to get a reward without doing his task, or to save himself from punishment without performing his duty, then he looks for someone to intercede on his behalf. But intercession is effective only if the person for whom one intercedes is otherwise qualified to get the reward and has already established a relationship with the authority. If an ignorant person desires appointment to a prestigious academic post, no intercession can do him any good; nor can it avail in case of a rebellions traitor who shows no remorse for his misdeeds and does not submit to the lawful authorities. It clearly shows that intercession works as a supplement to the cause; it is not an independent cause."
 - Tafsir Nomouneh, vol.6, pg.415.
 - Al-Ahzab: 30
 - Al-Kafi, vol.2, pg.428
 - Tafsir Nomouneh, vol.14, pg.406.
 - Al-Kafi, vol.2, pg.433
 - "الکبائر التی اوجب الله عزوجل علیه النار" The greater sins are those for which God, the Glorified, has made Hell fire obligatory. Al-Kafi, vol.2, pg.276.
 - "ان تجتنبوا کبائر ما تنهون عنه نکفر عنکم سئیاتکم و ندخلکم مدخلاً کریماً" An-Nisa:31
 - The conditions under which the minor sins change into major ones are the following:
1. If the minor sins are repeated: Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: “There is no minor sin with persistence in it” meaning, if a person keeps up committing minor sins, they will change into major ones. [al-Kafi, vol.2, pg.88)
2. If the sinner considers minor sins as petty and insignificant, they will change into major ones. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “The biggest sin is to consider a sin, which one commits, as small.” [Wasail al-Shia, vol.15, pg.312, chapter 43]
3. If the sinner commits the sin to disobey God’s command out of arrogance and rebellion, the sin changes into a major one. The Holy Quran says, “Those who have rebelled and preferred the worldly life, hell will be their dwelling.” [Quran: 37-39]
4. If a minor sin is committed by a prominent person of high social position, it will change into minor ones. Speaking about the Prophet’s wives, the Quran says: “Wives of the Prophet, if anyone among you commits indecency, her torment will be double. This is not at all difficult for God. [Quran: 30]
5. If the sinner is happy doing the sin, the sin will change into a major one. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever commits a sin while laughing, he will enter fire crying.” Wasail al-Shia, vol.15, pg.305, chapter 40.
6. If the sinner considers the delay in the punishment as a sign of God’s being pleased with him. The Quran quotes some of the arrogant sinners who said: "Why has God not punished us for what we say (if he is a true Prophet)?" The heat of hell is a sufficient torment for them. This is the most terrible fate.” Al-Mujadilah: 8. Read Tafsir Nomouneh, vol.3, pg.359 onward.
 - Of course, it should be noted that divine punishment is in no way inconsistent with seeking intercession. Thus, those who have committed major sins can still seek intercession. In regards to where and who intercession applies to, Allamah Tabatabai, the great exponent of the Quran says: “It has been described that intercession takes place in two spheres: in creation and in legislation.
The intercession in creation is related to every cause in this world of the cause and effect.
As for the intercession in matters of legislation and Judgment, some of them wipe out every sin and its punishment, right from polytheism to the smallest one. For example, repentance done, and true faith acquired, before the Day of Resurrection. Some wipe out effects of some particular sins, like some specified good deeds. As for the issue under discussion, i.e., the intercession of the prophets and other believers on the Day of Judgment, we have already explained that it shall avail those believers who might have committed big sins, but whose faith Allah is pleased with.” Tafsir al-Mizan: vol.1, pg.264.
 - The Quran says: “God will only accept the repentance of those who commit evil in ignorance, if they repent immediately. God is All-knowing and All-wise” [al-Nisa: 17]
 - The exponents and commentators of the Quran have with reliance on Quranic verses and traditions enumerated the causes for forgiveness as such:
1. Repentance and regretting over the sins he has committed in the past and at the same time deciding not to commit them. The Quran says: " ""و الذی یقبل التوبة عن عباده و یعفو عن السیئات... He is the One that accepts repentance from His Servants and forgives sins: and He knows all that ye do. [Ash-Shura:25]
2. Doing good deeds which cause the bad deeds to be wiped out. The Quran says, "إن الحسنات یذهبن السیئات" . Surely good deeds take away evil deeds. [Hud:114]
3. Intercession: Intercession is the Prophet's invocation or that of one of the Imams. Intercession of the intercessors (e.g., the prophets, the friends of Allah and those who are nearer to Him) is one of those causes, and certainly no rashness or injustice is entailed therein. See Bohuth Qur'aniyah by Ja'far Subhani, pg. 117-118.
Intercession, as explained above, is a confirmed reality not in every case but in approved ones. The Qur'an and the traditions do not prove more than this. A little meditation on the meaning of intercession is enough to lead to this conclusion. Intercession is mediation in causality and effectiveness. Obviously causality cannot be limitless and unconditional. No cause can be a cause of every effect, nor can an effect be governed by every cause - otherwise it would render the system of cause and effect null and void. Those who do not believe in intercession have fallen in this very trap - they thought that we affirm the intercession in its totality without any condition or limit. All their objections emanates from this very misunderstanding.
4. If a person stays away from major sins, his minor sins will also be forgiven. See Chapter al-Nisa verse 31.
5. Divine forgiveness includes those who deserve to be forgiven. It depends on God's will and is applicable definitely only to those who have somehow in practice proved to be deserving it.
It becomes clear here as to why God, the Glorified, has said that shirk (polytheism) is not forgiven. [Allah does not forgive that any thing should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases (4:48).] Polytheism is not forgiven because the polytheist has cut off his relationship with God and has committed an action that is opposed to the principles of all religions.
Perhaps, among the causes enumerated above, repentance is the strongest of all causes. God, the Exalted, calls on all His servants to seek repentance. See verse 8 of al-Tahrim, 60 of Hud and 31 of al-Noor in which God says that He "loves those who turn to Him constantly". Allah says: "Say: ...O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return to your Lord..".(Al-Zumar:53 - 54) He also says: "Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [al-Furqan: 70.]
It should be noted that repentance should take place in a propitious time and under specific conditions so that it may be effective. Some of the conditions for repentance are the following: 1- The sinner should be regretful and penitent. 2. He should compensate his sinful actions by doing good deeds. (If he has wasted other people's rights, he should fulfill their rights, make them up and satisfy them.) 3. He should decide not to return to the sin again. 4. He should have repented at the right time not at a time when he feels death approaching him.
 - Hasanāt
 - Surely good deeds take away evil deeds. [Hud:114]
 - Wasail al-Shia, vol.2, pg.445, hadiths 2603, 2605, 2606; vol.3, pg.200, vol.6, pg.219; vol.11, pg.204.
 - See: Mizan al-Hikmah, Tawbah sect [letter T].
 - There is no doubt that polytheism is treated in a special manner. In regards to polytheism, God, the Glorified says, " It is not (fit) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even though they should be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaming fire." Then when it comes to Ibrahim's seeking forgiveness for Azar, it says "And Abraham prayed for his father's forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him." Tafsir Nomouneh, vol.5, pg.304.
 - For further information about the meaning and conditions of intercession, see Tafsir Nomouneh, vo.13, pg.304; vol.9, pg.90; vo.1, pg.228; vol.1, pg.229; vol. 1, pg.235 and (Farsi translation of) Tafsir al-Mizan, vol.1, pg.238-265.
 - Tafsir Nomouneh, vol.22, pg.555 – 556.
 - Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan, vol.1, pg.240.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The term ‘salat’ in Quranic verses that are mentioning the times for prayer, refers to prayer. Quranic verses that state the times for prayer can be categorized into different categories in which we will list in the detailed answer.
Verses that speak of the times of daily wajib prayers, can be found in several surahs and can be categorized into different categories. In verse 238 of surah Baqarah, all that is mentioned is the time for one of the prayers. The ‘middle’ prayer that this verse speaks of refers to the Dhuhr prayer. Sometimes verses will point to the time of three of the daily prayers, like verse 114 of surah Hud which reads: “وَ أَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ طَرَفَیِ النَّهارِ وَ زُلَفاً مِنَ اللَّیْل”. In this verse, “طرفی النهار” is referring to salatul fajr and maghrib, “زُلَفاً مِنَ اللَّیْل” refers to salatul Isha. And sometimes, all five prayers are mentioned in a general manner, such as verse 78 of surah Isra’ which says: “Maintain the prayer from the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and [observe particularly] the dawn recital. Indeed the dawn recital is attended [by angels].”
Although the term ‘salat’ has also been used in the Quran to denote supplication, but in the aforementioned verses, it has been used for prayer. Of course, prayer also encompasses supplication and praise.
 “حافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَواتِ وَ الصَّلاةِ الْوُسْطی”
 Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 12, pg. 223.
 Ibid, pg. 223.
 For example, take the verse in which Allah (swt) says: “وَ صَلِّ عَلَیْهِمْ إِنَّ صَلاتَکَ سَکَنٌ لَهُمْ وَ اللَّهُ سَمیعٌ عَلیمٌ”. In this verse, the term ‘salat’ means supplication. Tawbah:103. See: Terihi, Fakhroddin, Majma’ul-Bahrain, vol. 1, pg. 266.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Israel's prime minister has instructed a quasi-governmental Jewish organization to find a solution for non-Orthodox Jewish female groups wishing to pray at one of Judaism's holiest sites.
An official said Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, to look into the matter. The official spoke anonymously according to government regulations.
Last week Israeli police detained women from a liberal Jewish group who approached the Western Wall in Jerusalem carrying prayer shawls. Orthodox Jews insist those are for men only. The women seek to worship at the site without such restrictions.
Jewish Agency spokesman Benjamin Rutland said Netanyahu told Sharansky that the Western Wall "must remain a source of Jewish unity rather than division." The wall is a remnant of the biblical Jewish Temple compound.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — While Ottawa high schools profess to offer prayer rooms for Muslim students, an Islamic leader says they don’t have a permanent space and are often relegated to small classrooms, if they can get space at all.
Washim Ahmed is the Islamic director of Carleton University’s Muslim Students’ Association and he leads a prayer service at more than half a dozen public high schools in Ottawa on Fridays.
But he said none of the schools have permanent prayer rooms, and they’re often shuffled between classrooms or the gym, depending on what’s available.
Sometimes, he said there simply isn’t a room they can use.
“That’s highly problematic because (students) don’t have any security knowing whether they’re getting the rooms or not,” Ahmed said. “If there’s a room available, they’ll get it, otherwise they don’t.”
A school in London, Ont., opened their first permanent prayer room earlier this week.
But the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said they always offer a multi-faith prayer room when students ask for one.
There’s a demand for rooms at around 60% to 70% of their schools.
“They are only accessible during non-instruction time and are supervised by staff,” said Walter Piovesan, the board’s associate director of education.
He added none of the schools have permanent prayer rooms.
“While there may be no dedicated room, there is a duty to accommodate under the Ontario Charter of Human Rights,” he said.
But Ahmed argued the system is often disorganized, and Muslim students have to make arrangements each week to reserve a room.
“It’s happened in a couple of schools where I went to lead the prayer and I couldn’t find a prayer spot,” he said. “It’s not organized, it’s just random.”
The Catholic board said they offer quiet prayer space for any group upon request.
Muslims are obligated to say five prayers per day at very specific times, culminating in the most important prayer, the Jumu’ah, on Friday shortly after noon.
Carleton student Maged Arab, 23, said without a permanent prayer room, Muslims have to either find a quiet place at school or else cram in all five of their daily prayers into their evenings.
“Thankfully, if there’s no prayer room, you’re excused and you can catch up on all the prayers when you get home from school,” he said.
But Abdulaziz Dahir, 27, went to Sir Robert Borden High School and was thankful to be able to take part in the Friday prayer in one of the school’s English classes.
“Looking back now, we would have wanted more time to pray at school but back then we were just happy to have a room at all,” he said.
He added he understands it’s tough to find space for a permanent prayer room.
Ahmed wants to see more co-operation between religious groups and school boards to help fund permanent multi-faith prayer rooms in Ottawa schools.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Toronto Sun
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — With the holy month of Ramadan drawing to a close - Muslims around the world are flocking to mosques to celebrate. But in Palestine - that often means standing for hours at security checkpoints - only to be denied permission to pray.—www.shafaqna.com/english