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PREFACE

PREFACE

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

The precious legacy left behind by the Holy Prophet’s Household [ahl al-bayt] (may peace be upon them all) and their followers’ preservation of this legacy from the menace of extinction is a perfect example of the all-encompassing school [madrasah] that embraces all the different branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has been able to train many talented personalities by quenching them with this gushing fountain. This school has given scholars to the Muslim ummah who, by following the Holy Prophet’s Household (a.s), have done their best in order to clear away the doubts and skepticisms put forth by any various creeds and intellectual currents both inside and outside Muslim society. Throughout past centuries, they have presented the firmest answers and solutions to these doubts.

Anchored to the responsibilities upon its shoulders, the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) World Assembly has embarked on defending the sanctity of ris¡lah [message] and its authentic beliefs—truths which have always been opposed by the chiefs and leaders of anti-Islamic sects, religions and trends. In this sacred path, the Assembly regards itself as a follower of the upright pupils of the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)—those who have always been ready to refute those accusations and calumnies and have tried to be always in the frontline of this struggle on the basis of the expediencies of time and space.

The experiences in this field, which contained the books of scholars belonging to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), are unique in their own right. It is because these experiences have been based upon knowledge [`ilm] and the preeminence of intellect and reasoning, and at the same time, they are devoid of blind prejudices or whims and caprices. These experiences address experts, scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and pure human natural disposition [fi§rah].

In a bid to assist those who are in quest of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) World Assembly has endeavored to enter a new phase of these worthy experiences by conducting research and translating the works of contemporary Sh¢`ah writers or those who, through divine guidance, have embraced this noble school.

The Assembly is also engaged in the study and publication of the valuable works of pious predecessors and outstanding Sh¢`ah personalities so that those who search for the truth may quench their thirst from this palatable fountain which the School of the Prophet’s Household (a.s) offers to the entire world.

It is hoped that the dear readers will not deprive the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) World Assembly of their valuable opinions, suggestions, and constructive criticisms in this arena.

We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating pure Mu¦ammadan (¥) Islam.

We ask God, the Exalted, to accept this humble effort and enhance it further under the auspices of His vicegerent on earth and give us success with al-Mahd¢ (may Allah, the Exalted, expedite his glorious advent).

It is appropriate here to express our utmost gratitude to ªyatull¡h Mak¡rim Sh¢r¡z¢ for writing the book and to Dr. Mahmoud Farrokhpey for translating this work. We should also like to thank colleagues who took part in accomplishing this task especially the staff of the Translation Office for fulfilling their responsibility.

Cultural Affairs Department

The Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) World Assembly


Prelude

The most salient feature of our Islamic revolution is its Islamic nature and the most prominent characteristic of Islam is its personality building aspect based on Divine standards.

Our aim is to prepare an interesting, logic-based and rigorous collection of papers for the general public on the one hand, and for the youth in particular so that they could, under existing Islamic conditions, build a sturdy faith which could in the long run influence their behavior and also be used as an impetus for further studies.

This collection which has been prepared with special precision and initiatives could pave the way for those who need to acquire the Islamic principles on faith for both their personal interests or for instruction.

This collection has been written and prepared by Ayatollah N¡¥ir Mak¡rim Sh¢r¡z¢, a profound pioneer and initiator of religious discussions in the Qom Seminary for the last forty years.

The instructors who wish to teach these lectures to their students should make note of the following points:

1. These lessons should be accompanied with historic evidence and interesting observations based on current affairs.

2. The students’ preferences and previous knowledge should be considered in teaching these lessons. A question and answer approach should be used during instruction.

3. The relevant Qur’¡nic verses on which the lecture is based should be elegantly written on the board and the students should be presented with a literal translation of the verse under consideration. This will lay the foundation for their familiarity with the Holy Qur’¡n. It is recommended that the relevant verse be recited by one and repeated by the students in unison.

4. If it is not necessary to cover one lecture in one sitting: it could be covered within two sessions.

5. There are subtle and detailed points hidden in each lecture. The lecturer is well advised to study the lecture beforehand in order to bring up those points during the presentation.

6. These lectures are prepared for the students of junior-high school and high school, for both boys and girls, and for the general public who wish to improve their knowledge of the principles of the Islamic faith.

7. Giving prizes to those who successfully pass the exams based on these lectures is highly recommended.

8. Students who are exposed to these lectures might have some theological questions in mind. The following sources could be used as references in order to arrive at appropriate answers: “The Creator of the Universe,” “In search of Allah,” and “Religious Questions and Answers.”

The Hadaf Publication House welcomes any suggestions for the improvement of these lectures.

The Head of Hadaf Publication House, Qum, 1991



First Lecture
Searching for God

Why Do We Think And Study In Order To Know The Creator Of The Universe?

1. The love to be informed about and know the world is deep inside every one of us

We are interested in knowing whether this lofty Heaven with its shining stars and this wide earth with its wonderful sceneries and colorful creatures, its beautiful and varied birds, its seas, mountains, flowers and blossoms, and its tall trees have come into being spontaneously or have been created by a skillful, mighty and dexterous Creator.

In addition to these questions, all of us are confronted with the following questions:

Where have we come from? Where are we now? And where are we going?

How lucky would we be if only we knew the answers to these three basic questions?

Our inquisitive souls advise us not to sit idle; rather, we should endeavor to find proper solutions to the above questions.

In a car accident, an injured and unconscious victim would be taken to the hospital to get proper treatment. However, as soon as he regained consciousness, he would ask his caregivers why he was taken there, what place it was, and when he would leave. This vividly indicates that man could never be indifferent towards the above questions.

Thus, the first thing which will lead us towards the recognition of the God of The Universe and our existence is our inquisitive soul which always wants to know.

2. A Sense of Gratitude

Suppose you were taken to an elegant party by your elder brother and suppose you had never met your host. No doubt, your first desire upon your arrival at such a place would be to identify the host and to show him your appreciation and thank him for his kindness for having invited you.

When we look at the expansive table of sustenance spread for us we are anxious to recognize the distributor of these items of subsistence and to thank Him even if He was not in need of our gratitude. We are restless until this appreciation is extended on our part. And this restlessness on our part is an indication of our desire to recognize Allah.

3. The connection of our benefit and loss to this question

Suppose on your trip you arrived at a junction where there was turmoil. Everybody would advise you not to get out of your car at that place due to the dangers looming there. However, one group might advise you to drive east and another group to drive west. Still another might advise you to take an intermediate course which is said to be the safest way towards your prosperity, welfare, and convenience.

But could we allow ourselves to take up a course without much deliberation? Or could we stay at that hazardous location without selecting a right course of action. Definitely not.

Rather, without hesitation, our wisdom would guide us to study the situation and to consider the statements and advice offered by each group and adopt the best course of action.

During our lives in this world, we are confronted with the same dilemma. Each religion and school tries to attract us. However, since our destiny, prosperity misery and our progress or lack of it, depend on the way we choose for our action, we will find it significant to deliberate seriously and to identify the most appropriate solution to our problems and to keep ourselves safe from danger.

This is another reason why we try to identify the Creator of this world. The Holy Qur’¡n says:

فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ.

Therefore, give good news to My servants, those who listen to the word, then follow the best of it. [Qur’¡n 39: 17-18]


THINK AND ANSWER

Have you ever seriously tried to know more than what you have heard about knowing God from your parents?

Can you tell the difference between knowing God and searching for Him?

Have you ever felt a spiritual delight deep inside you when you have discovered a need for God or uncovered some mystery concerning Him?


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