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Book: Shīʿī Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century

Shīʿī Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century is a collection of talks and articles that reflect upon the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, his granddaughter Zaynab and the Twelve Imams (as). It considers how our lives may be illuminated and our hearts strengthened in the fraught atmosphere of an often toxic modern age.

Shi`i Islam is called so after the word `shi`a’, meaning `follower’, referring to the followers of Prophet Muhammad’s cousin ‘Ali after the former’s death. The Shia have always been a minority. Little is known about their beliefs outside of scholarly circles and the somewhat insular Shill communities themselves. This collection of lectures and articles aims to introduce something of this tradition to wider circles. The lectures have been offered directly to audiences that are concerned with applying Shi`i Islamic teachings in their lives, and using them to address many contemporary issues. The articles go more deeply into theological and philosophical issues. Shi`i Islam is inherently esoteric. Many of its esoteric doctrines have passed into Sunni Islam and become what is now known as `Sufism’. Shi`i beliefs are based upon the Qur’an and prophetic narrations. Shi`i Islam holds that after Prophet Muhammad, there were twelve Imams (imam means ‘leader), the first of whom was `Ali, the second and third borne of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, and the remaining nine inheriting the position from their predecessor. One of Fatima’s names is the confluence of the two lights’, meaning the meeting point of prophethood and imamate. Prophet Muhammad is believed to be the final prophet in a line of prophets going back to Adam, but as God never leaves humanity without guidance, He selects successors to inherit the prophetic knowledge and to take care of the message, explaining its inner meaning to those that have the capacity to understand. Prophet Muhammad himself is also said to have been both a prophet and an imam, in the same way that Prophet Abraham was (which is mentioned in the Qur’an). The Imams, while not being prophets, are more than mere administrators. They are said to be able to speak every language; to read the minds of people and know what questions they are going to ask before doing so; to be able to be in more than one location at once; to know how and when their companions are doing to die; to intercede with God for the faithful Shia and assist them. The Shi`i tradition is replete with accounts of how someone asked for the assistance and intercession of an Imam and they would be healed, or their problem would be solved. Even today, people report many such events. Shiʻa Islam upholds the use of the intellect. The intellect is central to the path. It is seen to have both a rational and an intuitive aspect and both need to work together. The Imams themselves were scientists and Shi`i. Islam encourages being scientific and engaging in inquiry. There is no such statement as ‘Because God said so’. The early collections of narrations, going back to the time of Prophet Muhammad, show that he, his daughter Fatima and all the Imams, were eager to discuss and explain, and to answer questions. Engaging in much prayer and fasting is considered to have little use if the person does not understand what they are doing and why. The teachings of Prophet Muhammad, as narrated by his descendants, encourage an attitude of worldly detachment, modesty, humility, brotherhood and charity. The struggle with the self is of prime importance: reflecting upon one’s own soul and correcting oneself. The ‘Fourteen Infallibles’ (the Prophet, his daughter Fatima and the twelve Imams) are considered as manifestations of the Names of God. They are the Great Signs of God. Therefore, attaining cognisance of the essence of the Fourteen Infallibles is a way of attaining cognisance of what God has chosen to reveal of Himself. The heart of the Shi`a is believed to be connected, through intention, to the hearts of the Fourteen Infallibles, and by that means, to receive light, knowledge and guidance. However, in order to be receptive to that light, knowledge and guidance, the heart needs to be sincere and free of egotism. The Shi`i path is not just about inner contemplation, however. At the same time, we are encouraged to go into society to try to change it for the better; to have courage, patience and wisdom in handling the world in which we live, and to prepare also, through our deeds, for the long journey towards the Divine after we meet our death. The lectures in this book are arranged according to theme: be-ginning with general discussions on Islam in the modern world; then moving on to aspects of prophethood, imamate (sacred leadership), ethics and spirituality. This book retains certain Arabic terms that would have been understood by the audiences listening to them; however, foot-notes explaining the terms have been provided. Diacritics in transliteration have been kept to a minimum, and used only as an aid to pronunciation. Variations in the use of diacritics with regard to bibliographic details depend upon whether or not the volume cited has already been translated and uses them.

Table of Contents

  1. Transforming our Way of Being
    2. Entering the Prophetic Path
    3. The Return to Our Primordial Nature
    4. The Ethics of Brotherhood in Islam according to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
    5. The Place for Islam in the Modern World
    6. Being Muslim in a Secular Environment
    7. Divine Justice
    8. Mawlid: Celebrating the Birth of Prophet Muhammad
    9. Ghadīr: Fulfilling the Sunna of Allah
    10. The Heart of Walaya
    11. Imamate as the Protecting Vessel of the Heart
    12. The Ontological Imam
    13. Zuhd in the Life of Imam ‘Ali
    14. Humanity in Nahj al-Balagha
    15. The Esoteric and Symbolic Significance of Fatima
    16. Imam al-Husayn’s Stand against Materialism
    17. Sayyeda Zaynab: Preserving a Gift of the Ahl al-Bayt: Seeing the Inward Reality of Things
    18. Conversations with Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq
    19. Initiation and the Qualities of the Shi‘a
    20. Following the Scholars in the Time of Occultation
    1. A Comparative Exploration of the Spiritual Authority of the Awliyā’
    in the Shī‘ī and Sūfī traditions.
    2. Walāya as a Response to the Self-Other Dichotomy in European Philosophy

Bibliographic Information

Title: Shīʿī Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century

Author(s): Rebecca Masterton

Publisher:  Light Reading

 Language: English

Length: 684 pages

ISBN: …………….

Pub. Date: November 8, 2020

Click Here to Buy the Book.

About Ali Teymoori

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