Could you please give information about Mujaddids (The Renovator) ? What qualities do Mujaddids have?

Details of the Question
Could you please give information about Mujaddids (The Renovator) ? What qualities do Mujaddids have?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Mujaddid means the renovator, the one who gives something a new form; and someone who strengthens something by renovating it.

A Mujaddid is a religious scholar who teaches people their religion again when people leave the sunnahs of the Prophet and bid’ahs are wide spread; and abolish those bid’ahs. The word “mujaddid” stems from the verb “jadda”.

Allah the Glorious sent human beings prophets in order to show them the right way from time to time as they needed. The last one of these prophets is Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). No more prophets will be sent after him. “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (al-Ahzab, 33/10).

Just like it happened with the people of other prophets, bid’ahs, superstitions and fake beliefs may start amongst the people of the Prophet Muhammad and eventually, Muslims can face alienation from religion and the sunnah of the prophet. Moreover, due to living conditions changing everyday and technology advancing may come out some new matters which need to be made a religious judgment for.

Relatively may arise a need for people who will resist new bid’ahs appearing in the society, who will defend the religion against attacks made against it, who will find solutions to new matters and who will teach Muslims their religion again and guide them. As the prophethood ended and for there will not come any more prophets, this duty is on scholars from the followers of the Prophet (pbuh). These scholars are called “mujaddid” in literature.

The Reverend Prophet states, in one of his hadiths, that: “Verily, Allah will send a mujaddid for these people at the beginning of each century, who will renovate their religious issues.” (Abu Dawud, Melahim, 1).

In some other narrations of the hadith, it is stated that the mujaddid to come will be from the pure family (descendants) of the Prophet. Also, there are some who say there will come not only one mujaddid but more.

Imam Suyuti wrote a book on the issue of tajdid (renovation) and narrated poetic chronologies showing all mujaddids who came until his time. According to the last chronology, mujaddids who came until that time are: Omar bin Abdulaziz, Imam Shafii, Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Ash’ari, Ahmad Isferani, Imam Ghazali, Fahruddin Razi, Takyuddin bin Dakiki’l-Iyd and Imam Bulkini (Bulukkini).

There is conflict over some of them. Imam Suyuti hoped he was the ninth one.

People who want to make reform on religion are not included in the scope of this hadith about mujaddids. As a matter of fact, none of the scholars who lived so far concluded that this hadith meant religious reform.

Mujaddid and Mutajaddid should not be mistaken for each other; because there is a big difference between them actually. Mutajaddid is someone who takes side with reform and who makes a new synthesis by reconciling between Islam and Jahiliyya (which is positivism and materialism today) and sinks the followers of the religion into Jahiliyya. So-called mutajaddids’ aim is not to renovate the religion but to accommodate it for today. However, mujaddid means one who purifies Islam from all elements of Jahiliyya and then applies it to the life again as pure as possible. Mujaddid refrains from agreeing and reconciling with Jahiliyya and, no matter how trivial it may be, does not tolerate any of Jahiliyya elements to be applied in any part of Islam.

There is difference between a prophet and a mujaddid. A prophet directly takes orders from Allah. He receives revelation; he starts his strive with the cause of prophethood and invites people to believe in him. Belief and unbelief depend on accepting and denying his cause.

It is not the same for a mujaddid. Although he can be given the duty by Allah, he can only be so with a duty which is not related to spreading a new religion or system. Usually, he is unaware of the fact that he is mujaddid. This fact is understood only after his death.

The compulsory features that a mujaddid must have are as follows: a clear mind, sharp comprehension, true reasoning, the rare talent of reconciling between extreme and understatement, a power of thinking freed from influence of judgments taken for granted for centuries and novel situations, braveness to struggle against the astray ways of his day, a gift for leadership, endowed on him by Allah, which is necessary for reconstruction and renovation… Moreover, a mujaddid must accept the pillars of Islam in the depth of his heart and believe in them within his view, understanding and feelings. He must distinguish Islam from Jahiliyya in the most trivial things and emerge the truth which is under the piles of dilemmas piled throughout centuries.

The job of renovation has got some divisions as stated below:

Mujaddid must diagnose the diseases correctly in the area he lives in. He can achieve this by examining carefully the time he lives in from all aspects, figuring out where in the society Jahiliyya settled down, to what extent it has been influential, through what ways it entered the society, until which aspects of life its effects have reached and what is the state of true Islam in the current situation.

Mujaddid must find solutions to improve the society; that is to say; he must end Jahiliyya’s sovereignty over the society and pave the way for Islam to take its place in social life.

Mujaddid must determine the limits of what he can achieve and evaluate his power and potential by trying himself.

It is amongst a mujaddid’s basic duties to work on making an intellectual and doctrinaire revolution; that is to say; adjusting people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings and moral values to Islam, improving educational system, performing Islamic knowledges and arts and, in short, refreshing the pure Islamic spirit and thought.

Mujaddid must lead the act of improving deeds, cancel the traditions of Jahiliyya, purify and elevate the morals and train people who will be Islamic leaders.

Mujaddid must know the general rules and basic aims of the religion, understand the direction and state of technological and social developments of his time, determine a way and method for what he can do to improve and change the social life inherited from the previous generations. While doing these, he must enable the spirit, safety and aims of Islam to manifest and pave the way for Islam’s leadership of world in true social advancement.

Abdülcelil ÜNALAN

P.S. We would recommend that you also read the article “TAJDID AND MUJADDIDS” by M. Ali Kaya:

Tajdid means renovation and improvement. It should not be mistaken for tajaddud; because tajaddud means modernism. Tajdid means purifying Islam from all elements of Jahiliyya and applying it in the purest way it is.

Mujaddid means that a religious scholar having the characteristics that a prophet has manages himself to be recognized by scholars, with his intellect, acumen, knowledge, mastership and persistence. This is metaphysical leadership. Prophets receive revelations. However, a mujaddid has got the inspiration to comprehend revelations and explain them to people. Only people whose souls and dispositions are astray contradict to a mujaddid.

As Quran’s judgments are going to be valid until the Day of Judgment, it will always be necessary to tell and explain that Quran is an undying sun which cannot be put out to changing ideas and opinions in instable, changing and developing time. Of course, this duty will be carried out by “scholars.” These scholars must be the ones who fear Allah (1) and comprehend the meanings conveyed by Quran correctly; and not the ones who are masters in religion and law study fields…

These scholars are mujaddids who are “the inheritors of prophets”. Being an inheritor of prophets means being knowledgeable with inspirations under the shadow of revelation rather than receiving the revelation itself, like prophets. Mujaddids must have got a pure heart which will be worthy of receiving divine inspirations. No matter how knowledgeable the ones who are not worthy of Allah’s help may be, they cannot guide people to the way, which is called “Hidaya (righteousness)”, leading to Allah’s contentment.

Mujaddid must diagnose the disease of the century very well, offer solutions to it and must consider himself dutiful of it. He must refresh the spirit, knowledge and ideas of the pure Islam and behave in accordance with his knowledge and his behaviors must represent Islam. Also, mujaddid must have the power of jurisprudence in religion. He must offer methods, struggle against enemies of the religion, invigorate fards and sunnahs and his tajdid must be world-wide.

Only such people can be “the inheritors of prophets.” “An exact mujaddid is the one who accomplishes all of these duties. Mujaddids who had lived so far accomplished only some of them.” In this sense, “Mahdi” who will come in the last times of the world is an exact mujaddid. (2)

Allah the Glorious, who does not leave even the ants and bees without their guides, of course does not leave human beings without a guide, either. He sent a hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets and this process was ended with Hazrat Muhammad, the Last Prophet (pbuh). As Prophet Muhammad is the last one of the prophets, it was stated that the mujaddids who will protect his sharia until the Day of Judgment will come from his people with the hadith: “Verily, Allah renovates the religion at the beginning of each century by sending these people a mujaddid.” (3) Islamic scholars usually accept the hijri calendar system while determining these dates.

There are times when Islam is strong and powerful. These times are when everybody is knowledgeable about the religion, when scholars are respected and listened to when they speak, and ignorant ones are silenced when they speak. Also there are times when Islam is weak. These times are when everybody is ignorant about the religion, when scholars are not listened yet ignorant ones are respected and listened to when they speak. For this reason, religion is invigorated with knowledge and it is weakened with ignorance. Relatively, the duty of mujaddids is to spread knowledge. Tajdid of religion means the restoration of the religion. As the restoration of knowledge means the restoration of the religion, mujaddids must definitely be scholars and they must restore knowledge with the works they write. There is controversy over whether mujaddids must be scholars:

Muhaddis az-Zuhri (death 124/740) and Ahmad bin Hanbal (death 241/855) accept Omar bin Abdulaziz in the first century and Imam al-Shafii in the second century as mujaddids. The former one died in the year of 101 and the latter one died in the year of 204. “The scholar who is alive and well-known and who is attributed when a century is ending gains the title of mujaddid.” (4)

Also, mujaddids are from the family of the Prophet. Prophet’s hadith saying “Allah will send someone from my family who will restore religious matters at the beginning of each century, for people who are devoted to Allah’s religion” confirms this.

Other duties and functions of mujaddids are “Restoring any abolished judgment according to Quran and sunnah and showing that it is applicable.” (6) Imam Shafii is told to have made sunnah manifest and exterminated bid’ahs. This is the essence of tajdid.

One is concluded whether he is mujaddid by the consensus of contemporary scholars and the usefulness and efficacy of his students and works. (7) In this sense, Muhammad al-Ghazali (death: 505/1111) is indisputably an exact mujaddid.

The fact that the word “Yeb’asu”, which is related to the prophets sent in Quran, is used for mujaddids in the hadith is remarkable. (8) This is because they spread righteousness. Generally, mujaddids are from the madhhab of Shafii and Tajaddin Abdulwahhab Ibn-i as-Subki (death: 728/1326) counts Shafii ones in. (9)

People competent in tasawwuf are excluded from this. Tariqa leaders who are outstanding in tasawwuf, Hulefa-i Rashidin, Abdulqadr-i Geylani and Hidhr who were appointed to guide people and spread righteousness, by wearing cloaks, by the Prophet are excluded from this. Actually, a mujaddid is an imam of the sharia. And a kutub is a guide in a tariqa. Kutubs in a tariqa have got to follow sharia and the imams of sharia definitely. Imam-i Rabbani Mujaddid-i Elf-i Sani Sheikh Ahmad-i Sirhindi (death: 1034/1624) is the mujaddid of the second millennium. He says in his letter: “Once a millennium comes out a supreme prophet. And now once a millennium comes out a great interpreter of Islamic law.” (10)

Shah Waliyullah Dahlawi (death 1176/1763) also wore mujaddid cloak from Nakshibendis. He was given “Hilatu’l-Mujaddidiyya.” And in the thirteenth century, Mawlana Halid-i Baghdadi (death: 1242/1827), who was one of Sirhindi’s khalifas, was also elevated to this level. He was counted in Nakshibendi Mujaddids, for he was the student of Shah Abdullah Dahlawi who was well-known with the name “Gulam Ali.”

Mujaddids encourage following sunnah and refraining from bid’aha.

Aliyyu’l Kari (death: 1014), one of the greatest scholars, stated that “Mujaddids will come in a time when knowledge declines, sunnah starts to be forgotten and ignorance and bid’ahs are wide-spread.” Hafiz Munawi says: “What is meant by renovating religion is purifying sunnah from bid’ahs, spreading knowledge, supporting people who are interested in knowledge and destroying the ones who are supporters of bid’ahs. And Alkami defines the duties of a mujaddid as “Invigorating the forgotten parts of Quran and sunnah and enabling people to act in accordance with them.” (11) Above all, a mujaddid is known for restoring and spreading sunnah. He spends all his days and nights on this cause. He wards off supporters of bid’ah with his works and lessons. If these conditions are not manifest in someone who is called mujaddid, that person is not mujaddid no matter how knowledgeable he is. (12)

Duty of mujaddids is to keep the religion as pure as it was when it was first sent down. Their duty is to brushing the dust off it, clearing the dirtiness of bid’ah on it and turning religion back to its true form. They do not create a new thing. They follow Islam and sunnah exactly. They eradicate attacks on themselves and show the supremeness of the religion. They do this without loosing their true attitude, offending true spirit and by new methods of explanation and new techniques of persuasion. (13) Mujaddids are advanced in understanding and explaining Islam with their model loyalty and sincerity and superiority in knowledge. They are competent in all knowledges of the time and they receive inspirations.

They have got the following features:

1- They only follow Quran as their guides.

2- They have got a wide opinion expert in science, a fine reasoning and an exact sincerity. They have got a deep jurisprudence and a potential of divinity. They are not influenced or impressed by and do not involve their personal professions and by dispositions into their duties in order to show truths as pure as possible.

3- They do not aim at anything worldly or otherworldly other than pleasing Allah and this state of theirs is noticed by everyone.

4- They discover the aspects of Quran which are related to the century they live in and explain them in a way that every part of the society from lower class people to higher class people can understand and benefit from.

5- They teach the truths of Quran and belief by proving them with indisputable proofs.

6- They enlighten and satisfy people’s minds, hearts, consciousnesses and spirits and explain their causes with effective and influential lessons which are strong and clear enough to silence even Satan.

7- They save people from negative traits which prevents people from understanding the truths, such as egotism, conceit, arrogance and vanity, and enable them to have elevated and nice moral qualities such as modesty and humbleness.

8- They follow the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. They live in accordance with their knowledge. They have got utmost piety and taqwa, utmost sincerity and persistence in service to religion, utmost loyalty and self-sacrifice, utmost thrift and contentment with what they have.

9- They have got an Islamic courage and bravery which lets them ignore all oppressions, torments and death penalty, which lets them sermon without being influenced by anything, and which lets them tell the truths fearlessly with a power of belief which can challenge the world. (14)

The Prophet (pbuh) told us both that one mujaddid will come at the beginning of every century and how many mujaddids will come until the Day of Judgment. In a hadith, he said: “Twelve khalifas will come and then Jesus will come down and kill Dajjal.” (15) And he also said that “This religion will be glorious and strong as long as it is at the hands of twelve khalifas. All of these twelve khalifas are from Quraish.” (16), which is narrated by lots of hadith-narrators. Ibn Kasir says this hadith indicates to mujaddids to come at the beginning of every century by saying “It is clear that they are not the twelve imams of Ahl-i Bayt, like the Shia claims.”

Judging from all these features, Islamic scholars tried to determine the mujaddids of every century. They agreed on some of them and they disagreed on some of them. We can list the ones accepted mujaddids in every century as follows:

1- Omar bin Abdulaziz (17) (H. 17-102/G. 638-720)

2- Imam al Shafii(18) (H. 150–204 / G. 767–819)

3- Abu’l-Hasan Ali Al- Ash’ari (H.260–324 / G.873–936)

4- Abu Bakr Bakillani (death. 403/1013)

5- Imam-al Ghazali (H. 450–505/G. 1058–1111)

6- Fahreddin-i Razi (H. 544–606 / G.1149–1209)

7- Mevlana Jalaleddin-i Rumî (H. 604–672/ G.1207–1273)

8- Zeynuddin-i Iraki (death.H. 805/ G. 1402)

9- Imam al Sahawi(19) (death. H. 902)

10- Jalaleddin-i Suyuti (H.849–911/ G.1445–1505)

11- Imam al Rabbani Mujaddid-i Elf-i Sani(20) (H. 971- 1033 / G. 1563-1624)

12- Shah Waliyullah Dehlevi (H.1114–1176 / G. 1702–1762)

13- Mevlana Halid-i Baghdadi(21) (H.1193–1242 / G. 1779–1826)

14- Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. (H.1293 – 1380 / G. 1876–1960)

Mustafa Ismet Efendi, a student of Mevlana Halid-i Baghdadi, clearly states in his work “Risale-i Kudsiye” about the Halidiya branch of Nakshibendi Tariqa, written in Ottoman language, that ahl-i kashf indicates that Mahdi will come as mujaddid after Mevlana Halid and there will not be any other mujaddids and also teaches this to his students. (22)

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi took over Mevlana Halid’s a hundred years old cloak via Küçük Aşık, grandfather of Asiye Hanım. (23) Therefore, it was confirmed in all aspects that he was a mujaddid.

An obvious and distinguishing feature of Bediuzzaman is that he showed “Risale-i Nur” and not his own self as mujaddid. The duty and function of renovation passed over to a book from a human being. Bediuzzaman declares this as a “thanksgiving to the endowment”. (24) Again by calling it “Metaphysical Self of Risale-i Nur”, he implied that people should not wait for another mujaddid to come after him and expressed with a fine political way that he was the last mujaddid.

Except for mujaddids, there are leaders and guides of tarigas who have been the guides to righteousness, such as Abdulkadir Geylani, Ahmad Yasawi, Muhyiddin-i Arabi, Shazali and others… However, leaders of tariqas cannot reach the level of mujaddids and mujtahids, no matter how knowledgeable and pious they might be. They have to follow mujaddids and mujtahids as well; because it is not important if a muslim does not do what a leader of tariqa says, yet it is sinful if they contradict to jurisprudence of a mujtahid and mujaddid. For this reason, all tariqa leaders follow a true madhhab approved by sharia and also warn their members to follow it. Actually, a mujaddid or a mujtahid who is an imam in sharia resembles the imam and khalifa of the time. All tariqa leaders of that time resemble governors and headmen working for them. Everyone can rule and control their members as much as they know their limits and follow the imam, and they can gain the contentment of Allah. All tariqa leaders have protected these limits very well.

Mahdi is from al-i bayt, that’s, descendent of the Prophet, for he is going to be the last mujaddid. This issue is also appropriate for the fact that he will be from Al-i Resulun and Al-i Ibrahim. The fact that salawat supplication, which every muslim cites in tahiyya of prayers, asks Allah for this right way is quite meaningful.

Majority of mujaddids came from the lineage of the Prophet (pbuh). Some of them are from the descendants of Hasan and some are from those of Hussein. For this reason, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “I leave two things for you: One of them is the Book of Allah. And the other is my Ahl-i Bayt (25)” “I will ask you to account for these two things on the Day of Judgment” (26).

Allah the Glorious said: “The Messenger of Allah does not expect any remuneration from you; he only expects you to love his Ahl-i Bayt.” (27) It is because, “My Ahl-i Bayt is like Noah’s Ark. Whoever takes refuge in it is saved.” (28) And Imam Rabbani narrates the hadith: “Loving my Ahl-i Bayt is the capital of ahl-i sunnah.”(29)

The continuous supplication of the believers, salawat-i Peygamberi, “Allah, bless the family of Muhammad, like You blessed the family of Ibrahim” was accepted. This can be understood from the fact that just as prophets came out from the family of Ibrahim, also came mujaddids and mujtahids from the family of Muhammad. By ordering his followers to love Ahl-i Bayt, the Prophet wanted his ummah to be on the right way. He eloquently stated that love for his Ahl-i Bayt would lead one to the right way.

When the Day of Judgment is close, Mahdi will unite all mujaddids and mujtahids and carry out the last duty of guidance. Allah’s true walis are these mujaddids and mujtahids; because Imam-i Azam said: “If scholars are not the walis of Allah, there is no wali on Earth.”

And the Prophet (pbuh) said about walis: “Allah stated, whoever is enemy to my wali and saintly servant, I wage war upon them. Amongst what My servants do in order to be closer to Me, the one I love the best is worships which I made fard for them. My servant continues to approach Me by nawafil prayers, too. Eventually, I love him/her. When I love him/her, I become his/her ear that s/he hears with, his/her eye that s/he sees with, his/her hands that s/he holds with, and his/her feet that s/he walks with. If s/he asks something from Me, I surely give him/her. If s/he seeks refuge with Me, I protect him/her. If s/he asks something from Me, I accept it.” (30)

Ibn-i Hajar says: “Wali is someone who knows Allah and always obeys Him and who is sincere.” Shavkani from Yemen accepts this. As a matter of fact, while describing a wali, Allah the Supreme takes “faith and taqwa” as basis. (31)

Wali is servant of Allah’s, who sincerely tries to follow Divine Orders and does not stray from Allah’s contentment. In this sense, for a wali is not sinful, whoever is enemy to him and contradicts to what he does, indeed becomes an enemy to faith, worship and morals represented by him.

Walis who reach the level of sincerity and endowment perform prayers not because of receiving remuneration or escaping punishment, but because of their love and loyalty to Allah. Worshipping is the nutrition for their souls. It is their vehicle to approach Him.

Avoiding harams is fard worship, too. Invocation, dhikr, supplication, and contemplation (meditation, tafakkur) are also nawafil prayers. The hadith means: I become his ears and eyes because of My light that I placed in them and they do not disobey My orders and stray from My contentment. I help them with this light, in everything they do, so what they do becomes appropriate and proper.” (32) Shawkani wrote a work on this hadith, named “Katru’l Wali ala Hadisi’l Wali.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said “My Ahl-i Bayt resembles Noah’s Ark. Whoever seeks refuge with it is saved.” (33) This hadith means that whoever follows one of those mujaddids and mujtahids are saved. Of course, people in a century should follow the mujaddid of that century. Actually, there is a hadith on this: “Whoever does not recognize the imam of the century dies as one of Jahiliyya.” If one knows what Jahiliyya means, it is not difficult for him to understand the meaning of this hadith.

(1) al-Qur’an, Fatir, 35:28
(2) The Letters, (1998) 425; Kastamonu Appendix. (2001) p.145
(3) Shemsu’l-Hak Muhammad al-Azimabadi, Avni’l-Ma’bud fi Sherh-i Sunen-i Abi Dawud, (Madina, 1389/1969) XI: 385 Abu Dawud, Melahim, 1; Abu Dawud, Mishkat, 1: 82; Keshfu’l- Hafa, 1: 243–244
(4) Avnu’l-Ma’bud, XI: 386
(5) Jalaleddin-i Suyuti, at-Tehaddus bi-Nimetullah, Publising: E. Sartain (Cambridge, 1975) 11:216
(6) Azimabadi, Avnul-Ma’bud, XI: 386
(7) Suyuti, Tahaddus bi-Nimetilllah, 1:225–226
(8) al-Qur’an, Al-i Imran, 3:164; al A’raf, 7:103, Yunus, 10:74; al-Isra, 17:15; al-Qasas, 28:59; al-Mu’min, 40:34, 62:2
(9) Suyuti, Tahaddus bi-Ni’metillah, 1:218
(10) Sirhindi, Mektubat, (Karachi, 1393/1973) 2:21 ve 1:390
(11) Avni’l- Ma’bud, 11: 386
(12) Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybi, (2001) p. 230–231; The Rays, (1997) p. 677
(13) Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybi, 230–231
(14) The Words, (1998) p. 706
(15) Ibn-i Hajar al- Askalani, Fethu’l-Bari, 13:213
(16) Bukhari, Ahkam, 51; Muslim, 3:1452; Ibn-i Hibban, Sahih, 15:43; Hâkim, Mustedrek, 3:715
(17) In terms of khalifate.  Zuhri, Ahmad bn. Hambal, some imams of mutekaddidimin and müteharrin agree on this name. (Avnu’l- Ma’bud 11: 384–387)
(18) While Ahmed bn. Hambel accepts him as mujaddid, (Keshf’l- Hafa, 1: 244) Mevdudi accepts the imams of four madhhabs as one mujaddid. (İslamda İhya Hareketleri, Mevdudi, p. 55–56)
(19) Keshfu’l- Hafa, 1:244
(20) The Rays, 152
(21) Bediüzzaman, Sikke-, Tasdik, 15
(22) Mustafa İsmet Efendi, Risale-i Kutsiye, (Osm.) p. 76
(23) Kastamonu Appendix, 62; Sikke-i Tasdik, 14–16; Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybi, 44, 46, 47
(24) Duha, 93:11
(25) Tirmidhi, 2:308; Muslim, Fazail-i Sahabe, 1
(26) Abu Nuaym, Hilyetü’l Evliya, 1: 355
(27) al-Shura, 42:23
(28) Hilyetü’l - Evliya, Ebu Nuaym, 4:306
(29) Imam-ı Rabbani, Mektubat, vol:2; 36th Letter
(30) Bukhari, Rikak, 28
(31) Yunus, 10:62–64
(32) Shewkani, Katru’l- Wali ala Hadisi’l- Wali, p.427–436
(33) Mektubat-i Rabbani 1: 51st Letter

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