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Publishing book titled: Who is Hussain?

Publishing book titled: Who is Hussain

The Contemporary Thoughts Press of the Deputy of Academic Affair intends to publish a book entitled: Who is Hussain?

This book which is about the life of Imam Hussain (as), was written by Dr.Chris Hewer as a Christian author and researcher.

The editing and type setting of this book has been done and it will be published soon.

Dr Chris Hewer comes from a background in Christian theology, education, Islamic studies and inter-faith studies. He has worked in the field of ‘Muslims in Britain’ and ‘Christian-Muslim’ relations since 1986. Working in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Selly Oak in Birmingham from 1999 to 2005, as the Adviser on Inter-Faith Relations to the Bishop of Birmingham. From 2006-2010, he was at St Ethelburg a Fellow in Christian-Muslim Relations in London with a brief to deliver adult popular education courses, study days and talks around Greater London. Currently, he is  concentrating on teaching intensive courses, producing resources and writing.

Seyed Hashem Moosavi has written in the introduction of this book:

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala

Imam Hussein (AS) is an important figure in Islam and has had an undoubtable, positive impact on Muslims for many centuries. As a member of Ahl al-Bayt (the Household of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S), and Ahl al-Kisā’ (the People of the Cloak), he is also the third Shia Imam. The annual commemoration of Imam Hussein (AS) and his children, family and companions has been an important factor in reminding Muslims to explore the knowledge of their faith and how they can be a true follower of the main principles of Islam. Imam Hussein’s (AS) tragic martyrdom has always been a strong source of inspiration for all Muslims, justifying their resistance against unjust people and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to try and explore what and how Imam Hussein (AS) did throughout his life to maintain a true understanding of the faith his grandfather established.

When Imam Hussein’s life is to be explored, it is also important to see who was on the opposite side to him. Yazid – son of Mu‘awiya I – was an unjust and profligate person and drunkard who was openly going against the rules and teachings of Islam in public, and changing the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). While Yazid presented himself as the caliph of the Islamic ummah, his careless and immoral lifestyle was considered by many to be absolutely impious. He was the ruler during the Battle of Karbala where the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hussein (AS), and 72 of his companions were brutally killed and their women and children taken hostage.

There are many efforts to explore ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ questions about Imam Hussein’s deeds during his life and many of these efforts have been carried out by Muslim scholars. While there also have been some efforts by non-Muslims to discover Imam Hussein’s life and truths, there is still a lack of ‘outsider’ views on his valuable life. As a response to a gap in the literature, the Institute for the Contemporary Study of Islam cooperated with Dr Chris Hewer to write a book about Imam Hussein (AS). Chris has a background in Christian theology, education, Islamic studies, and inter-faith studies. He has extensive experience working in the field of Christian-Muslim relations since 1986 and has shown a great interest in the history of Imam Hussein’s intellectual and moral heritage. I hope that the current book helps those people who are interested in knowing what and how Imam Hussein (AS) did throughout his life to get a better understanding about his deeds and, more importantly, about his thoughts and attitudes.

Also Dr Chris Hewer has written in the introduction of this book:

Only a few people in world history have been so significant in that their names live on for centuries, albeit eternity.  How many events are of such significance that they are commemorated every year by tens of millions?  What does it say when people are prepared to risk their lives to be able to take part in such acts of remembrance?  Such a person was Hussain, the grandson of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.  The event was the tragic massacre in 680CE when Hussain was martyred along with seventy-two of his companions.  Yet this event is thought of as victorious.  A victory for justice and truth.  A victory to show that the purity of the message brought by the Qur’an and given to Muhammad must be defended at all costs and not defiled by those not worthy of it.

Something had gone awry in the early Muslim community.  Here was the grandson of the Prophet being killed by those who claimed to lead that community, not even fifty years after Muhammad’s death. How could such a catastrophe happen? As the grandson of Muhammad, who had been loved by his grandfather who always wanted to have him close, all Muslims have great love and respect for Hussain.  His killing is not a sectarian issue, one group of pious Muslims against another, it was the action of corrupt, tyrannical individuals who had illegally claimed leadership of the Muslim community.  Many Muslims, both Sunni and Shi’a, find that many of the leaders of this Umayyad dynasty, who ruled the Muslims from 661 to 750, were unworthy of that office and were far away from the ideals and practices of Islam as taught by the Qur’an and Muhammad.

The massacre took place on the tenth of the Muslim month of Muharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar, at a place called Karbala in Iraq.  Shi’a Muslims, who have a special love and devotion to Hussain, and who has a unique and revered place in their understanding of Hussain will spend the first ten days of this month in deep mourning remembering those events that culminated in the massacre.  This is not just a season of mourning but also one of self-reflection and revival and re-dedication of their lives to the ideals by which Hussain lived and for which he died.  This comes to a climax on the tenth day, the day of the massacre itself, the Day of Ashura.  Throughout the world, wherever there are Shi’a Muslims, this will be a day of solemn lamentation and rededication of themselves to be worthy to be called the followers of Hussain. This is followed by a period of forty days of subdued mourning, during which no weddings or other festivities take place.  The whole season comes to an end on the fortieth day, Arbaeen, when millions of people converge on Karbala to pay their respects to Hussain and his stand against oppression and justice. This pilgrimage to Karbala on Arbaeen goes way back into history; it commemorates the visit made forty days after the event by members of the family of Hussain who survived the massacre.  During years of persecution and oppression, people took back roads and travelled by night to avoid being killed.  Many will walk the fifty miles from the city of Najaf, which contains the shrine of Hussain’s father, to Karbala.  Others walk even greater distances from Iran or even from India.  In recent years, the number of pilgrims has been approaching twenty million, making it the largest annual gathering on earth. It is a monumental achievement of the communities through which they pass, that the pilgrims are given food, drink and first aid. Places are found for them to rest and sleep, all in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

The history of humankind has witnessed many tragedies; the massacre at Karbala is unique.  It shows us the depths to which human depravity can exist.  It also shows us the lengths people will take to achieve the high values for the sake of the just cause in which they believe and out of pure love and devotion to God. The martyrdom of Hussain and his companions stands head and shoulders above any such tragedies in the history of Islam. We might reflect upon the status of Hussain, the devastation of his family, what would have happened if the stand had not been taken and the brilliance of the beacon that was lit on that day to show a way for all men and women to follow. As the story unfolds, there is much here upon which we can all ponder.

As we might expect, the vast majority of those who make the Arbaeen walk are Shi’a Muslims, but Muslims of all traditions take part on this day. Not only Muslims, but people of other religions and people who belong to no faith community. A wide range of people have been inspired by the example of Hussain, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. It is a fundamental principle of religion that great religious figures do not belong to their own community alone but, because they belong to God, they belong to all humankind.  Hussain, the hero of Karbala, is worthy of consideration by women and men of every age and place on earth and that is the inspiration behind this short book.

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