Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zaidism and Women’s Liberation.

A writer from a distinguished Zaidi family has likened the treatment of Muslim women in Wahhabi Arabia, I mean, Saudi Arabia, to the way African Americans were treated 60 years ago, before they achieved their civil rights. After speaking directly to Saudi women about how they feel about being covered from head to toe and unable to participate freely in society, and inspired by the Zaidi principle of a just society, Abdullah Hamidaddin was moved to become a champion of their cause.

Abdullah Hamidaddin’s article includes the following quote from a Saudi sister fed up with being treated as an "irrational human being" by her male guardians:

"I am a "seduction". This sums up how I look into myself. I am in the eyes of everyone first and foremost a body that is desired. A body that must continuously be concealed so as to protect men from the evils of my beauty. My mind cannot be seen unless I hide my body. And to the degree that I reveal my body less is seen of my mind even if it was casual and modest. I don’t own myself. My life is a set of roles that I didn’t choose and have no right to question. My duties and "rights" are tailored for me by others, and I must be grateful for whatever comes. My feelings have no value. Few look at me as I am and consider what it is that I really want. Rarely am I looked upon as a rational being that has the right to be a full human, has the right to have a body, and has the right to act as she will without considering its impact on others. I have no decision. I am an all time minor. I pass from the guardianship of one to another. From my father, to my brother, my husband and then even my son. And if neither of those then to a judge who knows nothing of me or my needs. I am a tag. I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a wife but I am never simply a "me". Don’t believe those who tell you that they accept this with satisfaction. Whoever accepts this is either a woman afraid of the responsibility of independence individuality and humanity. Or a woman who has no more sense of her marginalized character while she is being treated as a minor. Any person is choked by this. Some of us reject silently. Some of us vocally. I cannot be silent. The situation chokes me. But I pay the price dearly. Look how people talk about me."

Commenting on this sister’s predicament, Hamidaddin writes:
“Feelings of frustration, anger, sadness of the way she is perceived manifest differently according to the woman's temperament. Some women rebel openly against norms and traditions. Some go further and reject religion silently or as the case of some openly and publicly such those who wrote against everything including religion. Some accept this subjugation unwillingly sometimes due to survival necessities. And then there is she who decides to wipe off herself to relieve herself from the inner struggle between her individuality and her restraints. I don’t blame those whose anger takes them far.....We may not be practicing racial segregation, but when we separate a woman from her humanness we are practicing segregation from humanity which in some ways may be lead to experiences worse than that those experienced by blacks."

To read more of Hamidaddin’s ground-breaking article, click on comments.

In neighbouring Yemen, not a Wahhabi state but a republic with a Zaidi and Sunni population, women are also under immense pressure to conform to the Wahhabi interpretation of women’s role (or lack of role to be more accurate).

We have already seen in my post “What is the Zaidi Position on the Burqa?” (in June section), that women’s groups in Yemen have blamed the Saudi funded Salafi/Wahhabi invasion of Yemen since the Afghan war, for the revival of the burqa in their country. It would appear that, when the salafi women wore it, the non-salafi husbands may have wanted to “keep up with the neighbours” in keeping their women-folk out of view.
The Qur’anic verses relating to hijab (which do not mention covering the face) are also quoted and discussed in the June post in this blog.
In response to that post, Imam Rassi society has confirmed that Zaidi fiqh, like 12 Imamer fiqh and moderate sunni fiqh, does not require women to cover their faces or stay out of public life. A scholar from Imam Rassi society writes:

“I do not know of any opinion that precludes women from public life! Indeed, the perfect model for women, Fatima az-Zahra, alayha as salaam, went out herself to demand her rights from the first caliph! The isolation and confinement that is practiced is probably more cultural than textual!
As far as the burqa, the Zaidi opinion is that only the khimar (head scarf) is obligatory for women. In a book of fiqh written by a contemporary scholar, he cited that the Zaydi opinion is that the only portion of a female body that can remain uncovered is the face and hands. There is even a minority opinion amongst the scholars that allow the feet to be uncovered. However, the general view is that only the face and hands. What's practised in Yemen may be more cultural than anything. A woman is free to wear niqab if she wants, but it would be incorrect to force it upon her as an obligation. As for child marriages, a precondition of marriage is that the person reaches the age of baligh (past puberty).”

The lack of female representation in the arenas of politics, religion, business, the Arts and the Sciences in Yemen, when compared with other Muslim countries such as Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia and Pakistan, raises questions about the whether Yemen’s Zaidi women are being treated according to the Zaidi principles of justice and social progress. This backwardness in the development of women’s role in society may be more to do with Yemen’s lack of education in general than with interpretations of Islam. Yemen has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the Muslim world, for males and females, and continues to struggle economically even more than the Muslim countries mentioned above.

It would be interesting to see how Zaidi ijtihad would respond to the need for reform regarding women’s rights and self determination if Zaidism flourished in a highly developed Muslim nation or a Western nation.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Translation of Credal Statements by Yemen's first Zaidi Imam: Imam al Haadi

Imam Rassi Society has kindly forwarded to us the translations of credal statements and Imamate statements by Imam al Hadi. Here is a Sunni scholar's description of Imam al Hadi's role in the development of Zaidism (see my post "Zaidi books of Doctrine" for full description).

"During the time of Imam Ali alayhis 'salam calipate the people of Yemen stayed loyal to Imam Ali alayhis 'salam and his sons. However, after this era the tribes of Yemen did not show much oppositions against the Ummavi rulers. Then after a few centuries the people of Yemen decided to invite one of the Aalids to rule over them. Imam Hadi alayhis 'salam accepted the invitition and arrived in Yemen. He stayed there and also established an imamate rule which managed that last up until the mid 20th century.
Similar to his grandfather, Imam Rassi alayhis 'salam, he was a very prolific writer who wrote works on theology (kalaam), fiqh, tafsir, language, history, dua, and poetry. He also issued fatwas and answered many questions that was sent to him by people."
Imam al Haadi was the Imam from 898 till 911.

To read some of Imam al Haadi's work, click on the following link:


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zaidi Prayer (Salaat) Rituals, by Early Zaidi Scholar

Here is the Contents page of the translation of an early Zaidi book about Salaat (Prayer), Wudhu (Ablutions), and Funeral rituals.
To read the entire book, click on the following link:


Sources of Collected Rulings Pertaining to the Proofs of the Permissible and Prohibited:

The Book of Ritual Purity, The Book of Prayer, and the Book of Funeral Rites

Imam al-Mutawakkil ‗ala Allah Ahmed bin Sulaymān


(a) Translator’s Introduction.
(b) Author’s Biography.
(c) Content (summary) of the book.
(d) The Translation of the text:

Part 1:
The Book of Ritual Purity

Chapter 1A: Water:
Chapter 1B: Cleansing the Private Parts (Istinjā)
Chapter 1C: The Attributes of Purity and Its Obligations
Chapter 1D: Washing the Hands
Chapter 1E: Wiping the Head
Chapter 1F: Washing the Feet
Chapter 1G: What Obligates Ablution
Chapter 1H: Purification

Part 2:
The Book of Prayer

Chapter 2A: Call to Prayer (al-adhān) and the Pre-Prayer Call (al-iqāma)
by Clean Earth (at-Tayammum)
Chapter 2B: Prayer Times
Chapter 2C: Combining the Prayers
Chapter 2D: The Characteristics of the Prayer and Its Manner
Chapter 2E: The Testimony of Faith (at-Tashahhud) and the Salutation (at-Taslīm)
Chapter 2F: The Introductory Orientation (at-Tawjih)
Chapter 2G: The Recitation of Bismillah ar-Rahmān ar-Rahīm (al-Basmala)
Chapter 2H: The Appearance of the Prayer
Chapter 2I: Leading the Prayer
Chapter 2J: Regarding the Prostration of Forgetfulness
Chapter 2K: Regarding the Prostration of Forgetfulness
Chapter 2L: Making Up the Prayers
Chapter 2M: The Travelling Prayer and Fear Prayer
Chapter 2N: The Friday Prayer and the Two Festival (‗Eidayn) Prayers
Chapter 2o: The Eclipse Prayer and the Rain Prayer

Part 3: Funeral Rituals.

Chapter 3A: Preparing the Dead
Chapter 3B: Shrouding and Embalming the Dead
Chapter 3C: Praying over the Dead
Chapter 3D: Concerning the Burial

Selecting an Imam

1. The Role of an Imam:
The role of the Imam is to carry on the Prophet’s task, including the carrying out of Divine Justice, writes a scholar from Imam Rassi Society:

“As human beings, the prophets are bound by the finality of death. This means that the prophet must be succeeded by either another prophet, or a leader who subsequently protects and carries out the dictates of Divine Justice. Otherwise, the prophetic mission will be null and void with the death of the prophet…..
The reality of Divine Judgment must be propagated; al-Mi’ād. All of this must be accomplished by means of a deputy charged with the message; an-Nubūwa. Divine justice must be carried out after the demise of the deputy; al-Imāma.”
He adds: “Historical examples of effective Zaydi imamates so far include those of Moulay Idris in Morocco, Imam al-Hadi ila al-Haqq in Yemen, and the Zaydi imamates in Persia.”

Regarding the Imam’s role, Abdullah Hamidaddin adds:
“The role of the imam in Zaidi literature is sometimes depicted spiritually which brings it closer to conventional Shii understandings of Imamah; but most depictions are political and pragmatic which brings it closer to Mu’tazili depictions of Imamah. The latter are closer to the culture of Imamah as it developed, where the Imam is a normal person; with no super-human capacities; even from a scholarly perspective his opinions are not considered special or unique. He is a scholar among scholars. A man among other men. Reverence to the Imam had to do with the convergence of reverence to rulers with reverence to Seyyids… both of which are external to the concept of the imamah.”

2. The Zaidi Criteria for being an Imam:

Here is a description of the traits needed to be an Imam, on top of the requirement of being descended from the Prophet’s grandsons:

“All of the following are the traits of Imamate: expansive knowledge, evident virtue, courage, generosity, excellence in opinionated thought without dissimulation, ability to carry out commands, and manifest religious scrupulousness.”
(Amir al Hussein bin BadrulDeen, died 662 AH)

These traits are found in many people. Competition usually determines who is finally chosen to be Imam.

3. How should a new Imam be selected?

The ideal scenario according to traditional Zaidism is that a board of scholars and dignitaries select the imam and keep him in check; he is obliged act according to the said criteria or else he can be deposed. The above mentioned board of scholars and diginitaries is normally responsible for ensuring a smooth and peaceful transition between Imams.
The dignitaries are an informal group of people created and sustained through a social system, and like all groups they can be abused and/or manipulated.

4. The Yemeni example:

During the history of the various Zaidi Hashemite Imamates in Yemen, which ruled for the most part of a thousand years (till 1962), the important role of the Selection Panel was downplayed, resulting in the following scenarios:
(a)The Imam’s oldest son automatically becoming Imam upon his father’s death, or another member of the same family if the older son was unsuitable.
In most cases he would be already considered eligible in terms of traits plus support.
In some cases, the Imamate may have been known as a Kingdom rather than an Imamate.

(b) Inter-clan rivalry. Regarding the Yemeni example, Abdullah Hamidaddin writes:
“ Imams from rival clans sometimes competed for the leadership role. When they did, no one really had a clear cut proof that he deserved it. In the end what really made a difference is that the traits required of the Imam meant that ultimately he who ruled did fairly well. Justice was a prime trait and most Imams stuck to it, even those who snatched it from another ruling family.”

(c) The Imam being overthrown by revolutionaries, and not replaced by another Imam at all. Regarding the Yemeni example,, Abdullah Hamidaddin writes:
“In the 1950’s and 60’s there was a revolutionary fervor in many Arab countries, so some of the elites in Yemen wanted to change the system. A new world order was being created. At that time internal solidarity was key. Yet there was a lot of internal struggle amongst various factions in Yemen from within the ruling circle as well as those opposing. The Imamah in Yemen wasn’t living up to its responsibilities after Imam Yahya’s assassination. With the help of Egyptian soldiers the rebels succeeded. It was the Egyptian army that made the coup successful. Yemen is considered Egypt’s Vietnam. They lost their best forces there. In 1967 the defeat against Israel is attributed to the fact that the best of the best were either killed injured or stuck in Yemen. Had the Egyptian army not intervened, maybe things would have improved. But we can never know.”

To read more details of how thw Imamate system worked in Yemeni history, click on the following link:

The republic which was formed continues to the present day. In recent times, there are many who remember the past nostalgically, regretting that they supported the anti-Hashemite rebellion. Some Zaidis have recently thrown their support behind a particular Hashemite family (al Houthis), while others, who prefer a political solution, support the Al Haq political party which is in opposition to the ruling party, (its leader recently survived an assassination attempt).

5. Critics of the Yemeni example:
Critics of the Zaidi leadership system (i.e. 12 Imamers) have tried to fault the system by pointing to Yemen’s failure to sustain an unbroken line of Imams. They claim that their system (an unbroken line of supposedly “divinely appointed” Imams, the 12th of whom is in “occultation”) is far superior. (see Shia-chat comments by MacIsaac for example). But Zaidi scholars point out that, if the dictates of a system are not implemented correctly in every case, this does not mean that the system itself is invalid.

Can democracy and Zaidi leadership selection work in unison?

Yemen’s Zaidi democrats look to democratic solutions which incorporate the Zaidi ideals of a just society. This raises the possibility of the Imam being elected democratically rather than by a council of the elite. Perhaps this could work rather like the Presidential elections in USA, i.e. the Imam being elected in a separate election from the Parliamentary one.
It is debatable, however, whether having a Hashemite elite with the exclusive privilege of eligibility for leadership is compatible with the egalitarian nature of democracy. Then there is the issue of females being eligible to become Imams; a democracy usually implies equal opportunity for women. (There have been successful female leaders in Yemen in the past, e.g. the legendary Queen Arwa, who successfully ruled over an Ismaili state, and a Zaidi woman ruler who is less famous than Arwa.) The possibilities are yet to be fully explored.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Role of the Prophets: A Zaidi Perspective

There is a link between the Prophets,a just society, and Divine Justice, writes a scholar from Imam Rassi Society:

The role of prophets was multifold. They served as living, breathing visual representations of the Creator reaching out to His creation.
One of the prophetic functions was to perfect and correct concepts of the Deity that were subsequently coloured by human frailties and weaknesses.
Some human beings brought the Divine to their level by ascribing lowly attributes that robbed Allah of His Transcendence, others tried to elevate themselves to the level of the Divine by promoting themselves as Sovereign entities that subjugated the masses by “Divine Right”.
The prophets came as heralds, to free the minds of the masses from these gross travesties of human invention. They utilized many creative means to instruct the masses in the Divine realities, by affirming the Divine attributes. They also “spoke truth to power” in order to remind despotic leaders that their earthly power and authority does not denote an ounce of Divine power; even a bothersome fly could unseat a king.
One of the functions of the prophets was to establish justice. It is not enough to exercise the individual human soul with sublime concepts but leave him to fend for himself in a chaotic society. It is rather the role of a teacher to make sure that the learning environment is suitable for the mental and spiritual development of the student. Likewise, prophets fought to establish just societies in their immediate locales. The establishment of justice also served as a material paradigm of Divine Justice; meaning that if a human despot would be improper, then a Divine despot would be even more improper.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Zaidism: The Key to Muslim Unity?

The biggest obstacle that Islam faces today is disunity. Fighting over petty things drains energy, resources, and lives. The mainstream groups, the sunnis and 12er Shi-ites, both stubbornly insist that they, and only they, are right, and refuse to budge even a centimeter from their standpoints, which are etched in ideological concrete. The salafis have made the situation even worse by branding as non-Muslims anyone who disagrees with the Sunni standpoint. Once they have branded someone with disbelief (takfir) they think that killing them is a good deed. Hence the massacres of innocent 12er shi-ites and Zaidis in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, to name a few countries, by Salafi zealots. To an outsider, the issues Sunnis and 12ers are differing on seem trivial. What can be done to mend these rifts, so that Muslims can be one nation, working towards the ultimate goal of world peace?
Rarely is the blame for a disagreement only on one side. As each side states their case, they exaggerate, even lie, to get you on their side. So it is with the sunnis and 12er Shi-ites. Without going into unnecessary detail, the exaggerations in both of their collections of “prophetic” narrations, and versions of history, are obvious and laughable. The Zaidis are the only Muslims who have not resorted to political propaganda, mythical fairytales and intimidating threat tactics, to get people on their side.
It doesn’t really matter who is right and who is wrong about the leadership issue and the theological debates; what matters is that both sides reach a compromise.
In the case of sunnis and 12ers, the compromise position (Zaidism) is already established. It has been there all along, sadly ignored by most of the Muslim world.
Zaidism has not, in the words of the 12ers “had its day”. Its day has only just begun. As the world becomes better educated, as historians delve more and more into Islamic history using a scientific and objective approach, as reason and logic increase in the minds of muslims and non-muslims, the Zaidi alternative will become more and more sought after. It may not always be called “Zaidism”, it may one day simply be called “Islam”; it may become the accepted norm and the majority view, while those other views will become relics of the superstitious and intolerant past.
In an argument, it is the person who stops fighting who is the better of the two… I invite the Sunnis and 12ers to show who are the better ones amongst them, by making those first steps towards reconciliation. The Zaidis are in the perfect position to be the peacemakers because while the Sunni an 12er views are poles apart, the Zaidi view has much in common with both the Sunni and 12er views.
There is much work to be done, in (a) reconciling the Muslims and (b) working towards world peace and (c) the fair and just distribution of the world’s resources, without ruining the planet for future generations. There is no time for petty arguments, let alone civil sectarian wars. Sunnis and 12ers, join us in our efforts for justice and peace in the path of Allah.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Should Religion be Imposed by a Zaidi Government?

Two Zaidi intellectuals we have heard from so far say that Democracy, not an Imamate or a Hashemite Monarchy, is the model of government which best suits the Zaidi criteria of good and just government.
Zaidism emphasizes the importance of a having a just Hashemite leader, a figure head, at the very least, who would serve as (a) a role model (b) the symbolic head of the state religion (presumably Zaidi Islam) (c) a source of continuity, given that elected governments come and go every few years. What role should this person have in implementing Zaidism in peoples’ lives?
There would obviously be a range of opinions on this subject. We intend to present all of them, starting with perhaps the most controversial one.
Abdullah Hamidaddin, a writer from a Zaidi family, (who points out that he does not affiliate himself with any group as he is opposed to sectarianism), has questioned the need for the government to impose religion on individuals, preferring that religion be a matter between the individual and God. He speaks of a type of spirituality that transcends the boundaries which a state organized religion inevitably sets up. To read more, click on comments:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is Zaidism Successful?

In a detailed article, a 12-er Shi-ite has expressed the view that Zaidism has an unsuccessful history, therefore it is not the version of Islam that people should prefer. Interesting argument, but it calls into question, how does one measure success in this regard?
1.He points out that Yemen, where Zaidism has flourished, is "backward" compare to other nations. But, according to this logic, all Muslims should convert to Christianity because the Muslim nations as a whole are backward compared to the Christian/Western ones.
2. He points out that 12-er Shi-ites have more books than Zaidis. But, isn't quality more important than quantity? The Shi-ite books I have read are mostly (a) about the superhuman qualites of their Imams, or the nayure of the hidden Imam on the green island or wherever he is, or (b) philosophical treatises which you need to study shi_ism for 20 years before you can understand them or (c) harping on about the leadership struggle, whereas Zaidis say, get over it, it happened, let's move on.
3. He says Zaidis have been busy fighting the Ismailis, but forgot that 12er Shi-ites were busy fighting the Zaidis too. Some say they wiped out an entire Zaidi autonomous nation in Northern Iran, forcing the Zaidis to become 12ers if they wanted to survive.
4. Zaidis may be backward compared to other nations, but at least they are not guilty of:
(a) colonising weaker countries and treating their indiginous residents as second class citizens or slaves
(b) plundering the environment to manufacture useless luxury items which people really don't need
(c) sending missionaries all over the world to force their views onto others
If this is what it takes to be successful, then I don't think Zaidis want to be successful...

Friday, July 9, 2010

12-er Shi-ite discussion on Zaidism

This post has been moved to www.zaidiblog.com

Australian Salafi website Erases Discussion on Zaidism

The Australian Salafi website “aussiemuslims.com” has erased a discussion about the Zaidi math-hab 3 times in the past 24 hours. An open minded Hanafi brother was taking part in the discussion with Zaida, who is an aussie and a muslim, but the discussion was abruptly erased. On this blog, I have invited Salafis to discuss the points raised, and the valid, intelligent comments made by Salafis have received a polite and respectful response. We hereby ask aussiemuslims.com to accord us the same treatment, in the spirit of muslim unity.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Zaidis Outside the Arabian Peninsula. (Z.O.A.P.?)

Chile. Romania. Jordan. Australia. USA. Mexico. Indonesia. Korea.
What do these countries have in common? People from these countries have contacted this blog to say they are trying to be Zaidis. These are people who came to the conclusion, using their reason, that Zaidism is the way to go.
1. After considering the sunni and shi-ite arguments with an open mind, they may have decided that the truth lies in between.
2. After noticing the poor behaviour of the salafis, and the way the sunnis apologise for the salafi behaviour, they may have wanted to distance themselves from both salafis and sunnis.
3. After considering 12 imamer shi-ite-ism, they may have found the hidden/infallible imam scenario too far fetched.
4. They may be seeking a version of Islam that is progressive, adaptable and logical.
5. They may believe that unity is strength, and that the only way all Muslims will ever be united is to reach a compromise, focussingon what they have in common instead of what makes them different.
Whatever the reason, I’m sure the Zaidis of Sa’ada are not alone in their struggle to maintain some kind of Zaidi identity in the new millenium.

Is Zaidism a sect?

Zaida writes:
In my view, Zaidism is really Islam without the additions that have happened by various groups during the past centuries. The Zaidis of Yemen, unlike the Sunnis, Hanbalis, Wahhabis and Shi-ites of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Arabia, did not introduce the following concepts/practices to Islam:
The hidden imam, infallible imams, anthropomorphism, fatalism, the kasb theory of appropriation, taqleed (blind acceptance of dogma without debate), the Laa Kaif principal (prohibition of speculation about meaning of Qur’anic verses), tolerance of corrupt leadership, takfir (calling muslims in other math-habs or sects unbelievers), khawarijism (calling people who do sins unbelievers), judging Qur’an according to the prophet’s reported sayings, glorification of the prophet’s companions, to name a few.
Therefore Zaidism is Islam in the purest form we can find it today.
Calling Zaidism a “sect” implies that some other version of Islam is the norm and Zaidism is the aberration, just as calling Zaidism a type of Shi-ite-ism implies that the Sunni version of Islam is the norm while Zaidis are part of a deviant group.

Do Zaidis see themselves as a sect?

Abdullah Hamidaddan writes:
Zaidis nowadays do have a “sectarian identity”. This may be partly a result of the various attempts to destroy Zaidism in Yemen, which have forced them to identify themselves as Zaidis rather than as Muslims, in order to survive, and in order to preserve their world view for future generations.
In my view the Zaidi’s concept of sectarian identity is the major obstacle facing Zaidis today. Their theology, worldview and concept of ijtihad maybe progressive ; but sectarian identity has a profound impact on how the theology functions; and it can even be an obstacle to genuine ijtihad.

Why do you see this sectarian identity as an obstacle?

1. Genuine itjihad and sectarian identity have competing ends. The former seeks truth while the latter seeks self preservation. And in many cases self preservation means sticking to tradition as much as possible and emphasizing clerical authority, both of which lead to nominal ijtihad. In my view, tradition should nourish and inspire, but it shouldn’t define the borders or shape the outcome.
2. The concept of ijtihad is, in itself, an antithesis to specific borders for thought systems. There is no “real islam” per se. Islam is not a closed system with well defined and specific borders. It only becomes such through an identity process; where the need to border who “we” are leads to putting borders around our system of belief.
But Zaidis started to think in terms of “real islam” versus “other” because everyone else was thinking that way. They started playing the identity game without even realizing it, or one could even say that they did it for political reasons ..

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ijtihad in Zaidism

This post has been moved to www.zaidiblog.com

Democracy and Zaidism

This post has been moved to www.zaidiblog.com

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ask a Zaidi

If you have questions for Zaidis to answer, please post them here so we can all benefit from the answers. If you are Zaidi and can answer, please do so...

Free Will and Divine Justice

This post has been moved to www.zaidiblog.com