Divine Leadership: A Rational Approach

The topic of divine leadership (imamate) is integral to the Shia creed, exceeded in importance only by tawḥīd and nubuwwah. Its implications are so far reaching that entire schools of thought were built and distinguished based on their differing views on the subject. Part of its significance– as the reader will come to find – comes from its establishment of a divinely appointed and immaculate religious authority. We go back to these immaculate authorities (imams) for guidance not only on matters of religious practice, but to better understand the specifics of Islam’s foundational concepts and theology. It is therefore an essential doctrine in our attempt to understand our faith. How do Shia Muslims understand imamah? Why is it a foundational and integral part of the Shia creed? What does it mean for a Shia Muslim today?

His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyid Jafar al-Hakeem, professor of advanced studies in the Islamic Seminary, answers these questions and more in this book. A core concept shapes the framework presented in this book – that prophethood and imamate are the immaculate embodiment of humankind’s theoretical and practical reason. The countless noble traditions and Quranic verses addressing imamate are understood within this light. This gives rise to a clear understanding of our practical responsibility towards these foundational concepts.

Ayatollah Sayyid Jafar Al-Hakeem

His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyid Jafar al-Hakeem is a prominent professor and public intellectual at the Islamic Seminary (al-ḥawza al-ʿilmiyya) in the shrine city of Najaf in Iraq. Born in 1965 to a prominent scholarly family, Sayyid al-Hakeem began his seminary studies at the age of 12.
On May 10, 1983, Sayyid al-Hakeem was arrested and detained along with his father Ayatollah ʿAbdulṣāḥib al-Hakeem and over 60 other members of his family by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Less than two weeks after the arrest, the author’s father and other members of the family were executed without any criminal charges or trial. The remainder of the family would continue to suffer torture in the prisons of the Saddam regime.
Despite the circumstances, Sayyid al-Hakeem and the remainder of his family would continue their religious studies from within Saddam’s dark cells. No books were allowed in Saddam’s prisons, but being imprisoned alongside so many prominent religious scholars allowed for the continuation of classes and study circles.
After more than seven years of imprisonment, Sayyid al-Hakeem and a small group of cellmates were able to escape imprisonment and flee to Iran. There, Sayyid al-Hakeem joined the Islamic Seminary of Qum, where he studied under the tutelage of scholars such as Ayatollah Sayyid Taqī al-Qummī (d. 2016) and Ayatollah Shaykh Muḥammad al-Sanad.
After the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003, Sayyid al-Hakeem returned to the holy city of Najaf to rejoin its seminary. He currently teaches advanced seminars (baḥth khārij) in fiqh and uṣūl, as well as seminars in epistemology, philosophy, theosophy, and theology.
In addition to his scholarly work, Sayyid al-Hakeem is a prominent Iraqi public intellectual. He appeared as a witness in the trial of Saddam, testifying to the cruel sectarian persecution of Shia scholars and scholarly families. He often speaks on issues of religious identity, pluralism, civic engagement, and contemporary issues. Sayyid al-Hakeem has visited the United States and Europe, where he had the opportunity to address and discuss these topics with both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences.

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Ali: The Elixir of Love

This historical narrative of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, tells the tale of his timeless character that transcends history, religions, and nations. From before his birth to the final moments of his life, Ali’s story renews within us the hope we all need. The lessons of his life’s journey illuminate a deeper understanding of what it means to endure the darkest times, to persevere, and to rise to a purpose greater than ourselves. Embodying the definition of patience itself, Ali is the compass, the lighthouse, to guide us in navigating the world around us, and the universe within. The gateway to God’s beloved Muhammad, Ali is the answer to the wandering heart and the seeker of all that is true. Ali, is ‘the elixir of love’.

Hajj Jalal Moughania

Jalal Moughania is an American lawyer, lecturer, and researcher. He has authored and translated original works on Islamic history and thought, religious authority in Shi’ism, and Shia Muslim identity and society. He serves as Director at the Mainstay Foundation — an NGO working in the space of research, education, and development. Moughania holds a Juris Doctorate in Law.

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The Pope Meets the Ayatollah: An Introduction to Shi’a Islam

On March 5, 2021, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, enters Iraq for a historic visit. As he embarks on a pilgrimage to the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, the birthplace of Abraham, the Pope first stops in the holy city of Najaf to meet with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani.In this timely and authoritative work, the authors (Hassan al-Hakeem and Jalal Moughania) provide insight into the significance of Shiʿa Islam’s Marjiʿiyyah, led today by Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, as a voice of peace, tolerance, and moderation in today’s world. With a foreword by Ayatollah Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz, a leading professor in the Islamic Seminary and a student of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, this original work provides a comprehensive background to this historic visit and an insider’s introduction to Shiʿa Islam and its worldview.

Sayyid Hassan Al-Hakeem

Sayyid Hassan Al-Hakeem is a researcher, lecturer, and thought leader in the Shi’a Muslim community. He serves as the Executive Trustee at The Mainstay Foundation UK, a London-based NGO working in the space of faith, education, and development in Europe, North America, South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In addition to studying the Islamic Sciences under scholars of the religious seminaries in Najaf and Qum, Al-Hakeem holds two Master’s in Computer Engineering and Public Administration with a certification in Nonprofit Leadership from one of the top American research universities.

Hajj Jalal Moughania

Jalal Moughania is an American lawyer, lecturer, and researcher. He has authored and translated original works on Islamic history and thought, religious authority in Shi’ism, and Shia Muslim identity and society. He serves as Director at the Mainstay Foundation — an NGO working in the space of research, education, and development. Moughania holds a Juris Doctorate in Law.

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Practical Advice

Practical Advice is a thought provoking and motiva-tional read about how to lead a good life within the framework of Islamic teachings. Throughout its ten chapters, the book weaves insights and life-lessons, along with stories and parables creating an engag-ing script for a reader of any age. Our community faces numerous challenges. These challenges are most profound for our youth. The youth are con-stantly met with both internal and external obsta-cles, trying to find themselves in a world of contra-dictions. Who am I? What am I? What am I meant to be?These are questions that young Muslims face every day. And even beyond the deep questions of intro-spection and identity, they face practical problems and obstacles. How do we balance our school or work life with our family life? How do we look at other people? How does pride and ambition play a role in our character? The authors are able to pro-vide insight and inspiration through this book for the youth that face these types of challenges.

Sayyid Abathar Tajaldeen

Sayyid Abathar Tajaldeen is a corporate attorney at the AT Law Group, based in Dearborn, MI. With a background in nonprofit executive leadership and management, he has worked with various nonprofit organizations in the United States. Tajaldeen is currently the Executive Director at the Mainstay Foundation where he focuses his efforts on strategic planning, coalition building, and expanding the organizations initiatives and outreach.

Hajj Jalal Moughania

Jalal Moughania is an American lawyer, lecturer, and researcher. He has authored and translated original works on Islamic history and thought, religious authority in Shi’ism, and Shia Muslim identity and society. He serves as Director at the Mainstay Foundation — an NGO working in the space of research, education, and development. Moughania holds a Juris Doctorate in Law.

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi is a practicing attorney at the AT Law Group, based in Dearborn, MI. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors at the Mainstay Foundation. Albodairi has served with a number of nonprofit organizations for over several years in various capacities, where he has been using his legal and analytical skills to advance his communities.

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Imam Hussain: Life and Legacy

When we study the history of the Holy Household of the Messenger of God (s) we find that they stood with absolute devotion and determination in protection of God’s message. They stood against any attempt to misrepresent the teachings of the Holy Quran and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s).The members of this Holy Household devoted themselves to the protection of this divine message. They dedicated themselves to the promotion of its true teachings. They sacrificed everything they had, even their own lives, in pursuit of this mission. The stance of Imam Hussain (a) is the clearest example of the Holy Household’s great sacrifices. He gave everything he had, including his own life, for the sake of reforming the nation of his grandfather and correcting the path of the nation after its deviance. In this book, we will study some of the characteristics and achievements of this great man and his movement.We will look at Imam Hussain’s (a) life and death. We will study the stance that he took and how the remainder of the Holy Household (a) contributed to that stance. We will examine the great triumph that his stance achieved despite the tragedy.

Sayyid Ali Al-Hakeem

Sayyid Ali Al-Hakeem is an esteemed Muslim scholar, lecturer, and researcher residing in Dubai, UAE. Sayyid Al-Hakeem spent ten years studying at the Islamic seminaries of Qum, Iran. There, he completed his Advanced Seminars (a Ph.D. equivalent in Islamic seminaries) in Islamic Jurisprudence and Thought. He also received a Master’s degree in Islamic Thought from the Islamic University of Lebanon. Sayyid Al-Hakeem has dedicated the past twenty-two years of his life to service of the Muslim community in different capacities. He serves as a resident scholar in the Imam Hassan Mosque, Dubai. He is the Chair of the Religious Committee and the religious supervisor of the Charitable Deeds Committee of the Ja’afariya Endowment Charitable Council of Dubai.

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Begin with Praise: Inspirations from Du’a al-Iftitah

“O’ God, I begin exaltation with Your praise!” Those words appear at the beginning of Du’a al-Iftitah – a supplication taught to us by our beloved Imam al-Mahdi, may God hasten his return. He taught us to recite this blessed supplication every night in the Holy Month of Ramadan. Du’a al-Iftitah addresses a plethora of topics on Islamic theology, spirituality, and ethics. Contemplation on its verses allows believers to make the best the Muslim Holy Month of fasting – building on their relationship with God Almighty.In this book, delve with Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz into the depths of this sublime supplication to understand its pure spiritual, social, ethical, and educational teachings. This book will aid the reader in finding a source of spiritual connection during the Holy Month through Du’a al-Iftitah, especially in light of the spiritually deprived climate of our contemporary world.

Sayyid Muneer Al-Khabbaz

Sayyid Muneer Al-Khabbaz was born in Qatif, Saudi Arabia in 1384 AH (1964 CE). At the age of 14, Sayyid Muneer traveled to the Holy City of Najaf to begin his training within the Islamic seminary. Not long after, he migrated towards the city of Qum, Iran, when the Baathist Regime in Iraq began tightening its crackdown on the Islamic seminary.
In the year 1402 AH (1981 CE), Sayyid Muneer returned to Qatif for personal reasons and continued his studies there. One year later, he traveled to Damascus, Syria to study in the Islamic seminary there under the tutelage of His Eminence Sayyid Jamal Al-Khoei. Finally, in 1405 AH (1984 CE), he returned to the Holy City of Najaf to continue his studies. There, he studied under some of the most respected scholars of the Islamic seminary, including Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abulqasim Al-Khoei and Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Murtada Al-Boroujerdi. With the recommendation of another one of his tutors, Sayyid Habib Hussainyan, Sayyid Muneer also began to study under the tutelage of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani, benefitting much from his lessons in the principles of jurisprudence, as well as his extensive examination of modern sciences and their correlation with Islamic sciences.
Sayyid Muneer then moved back to Qum where he studied under Grand Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani for several years. He also studied extensively under the tutelage of Grand Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Tabrizi, who became a guide and mentor for the remainder of his life. Before his passing, Grand Ayatollah Tabrizi gave Sayyid Muneer an endorsement as a jurist capable of deducing Islamic laws from its sources.
In 1418 AH (1997 CE), Sayyid Muneer began teaching Advanced Seminars (Bahth Kharij) in jurisprudence. He is known by his students for his eloquence, as well as his encouragement of discussion and debate. He is an avid lecturer and an author, with multiple works published for a varied readership.

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The Marjaeya: A Candid Conversation

Discourse on the topic of Marjaeya, religious authority in Shia Islam, is a frequent topic between practicing Muslims. It is also a topic of intrigue to non-Muslims who are interested in learning more about the source of religious authority and guidance for Shia Muslims. Nonetheless, the greater focus of these discussions have been by Muslims themselves, particularly Shia Muslims. The original Arabic publication of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem, Al-Marjaeya wa Qadaya Ukhra, served as an excellent overview of the most pressing issues on the topic. Translating it to English for the benefit of English speakers was a must.This work will allow readers to deepen their understanding of the principles at stake and the driving forces that guide this leadership to guide others. Sayyid Al-Hakeem’s wisdom and selflessness in the topic is evident throughout his writing. Though he is a religious authority in his own right, he focused his work on the experiences and leadership of those who came before him. He emphasized the lessons and values exemplified by our late scholars and jurists. Through their sacrifices and forethought, he answered the hard questions asked of him. It is one thing to read answers from a scholar who is speaking about the Marjaeya generally; it is an entirely different experience to receive the answer directly from the Marja himself.

Sayyid Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem

His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem was born in the Holy City of Najaf in 1934. His father, Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Al-Hakeem, was a prominent scholar of his time. He grew under the tutelage of his father who began to teach him the basic courses of Islamic sciences before the age of ten.
Since his youth, His Eminence was known for his knowledge, ethics, and piety. He was respected amongst his peers and teachers for his keen understanding of the religious sciences and critical approach in discussion. He was always alongside his father in the gatherings of scholarly learning and intellectual discourse.
Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem was given special attention by his maternal grandfather Grand Ayatollah Muhsen Al-Hakeem, who assigned his grandson the task of reviewing the manuscripts of his well renowned jurisprudential encyclopedia Mustamsak Al-‘Urwa Al-Wuthqa. In the course of reviewing the manuscripts, His Eminence would discuss the text with his grandfather. Through those sessions he gained a great wealth of knowledge and showcased his understanding and skill in the Islamic sciences.
During his time at the Islamic Seminary of Najaf, His Eminence studied under some of the most prominent scholars. Those scholars included his father, his maternal grandfather, Grand Ayatollah Hussain Al-Hilli, and Grand Ayatollah Abulqasim Al-Khoei.
At the age of thirty-four, after having spent more than two decades of his life in the pursuit of religious learning, he began offering bahth kharij (advanced seminars) in the principles of jurisprudence. Two years later, he began offering advanced seminars in jurisprudence based on the books of Al-Shaykh Al-A’dham Murtadha Al-Ansari and his grand-father Grand Ayatollah Muhsen Al-Hakeem. Since then, His Eminence would continue to teach advanced seminars despite the challenges and obstacles he would face.
Along with his teachers and peers, His Eminence was active in public affairs ever since he joined the seminary. He was amongst the group of scholars that supported Grand Ayatollah Muhsen Al-Hakeem in his movement against Communist influence in Iraq. In 1963, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem signed the notable petition from the seminary that denounced President Abdul Salam Arif’s attempt to impose Communism in Iraq.
When the Baathist regime overthrew its predecessor and took control of Iraq, His Eminence continued his activism against the state’s dictatorial policies. Most notably, he would defy Baathist threats to execute anyone who would fulfill the ritual of walking toward the city of Karbala as a commemoration of the sacrifices made there fourteen centuries ago. Because of this defiance, the Grand Ayatollah became a pursued target of the Baathist regime and was forced into hiding until the regime finally closed the case. Yet despite all the harassment and persecution, His Eminence would remain in Najaf and refuse to join the exodus away from Baathist tyranny. He saw the exodus as a threat to the existence of Najaf’s seminary, and so decided to stay in the city to ensure its continuity.
On May 9th, 1983, after the Hakeem family’s refusal to support the Baathist regime during the Iran-Iraq war, many of the family’s members were arrested, including the Grand Ayatollah himself. There, they faced constant interrogation and all kinds of torture. They were beaten with nightsticks and subjected to electric shocks, to name a couple of the most used torture methods. Diseases began to spread, with no access to any medical assistance. Still, the family’s fortitude was not broken and they persevered.
Shortly after the mass imprisonment of the family, the Grand Ayatollah began offering classes in Quranic exegesis. He found no other books or sources for study in the Baathist prison system other than an old and worn copy of the Holy Quran. The wardens soon found out about this course and forced him to stop teaching. Nonetheless, religious discussions and commemorations continued in secrecy throughout their years of imprisonment. During those years, a total of sixteen members of the Hakeem family were executed by the regime.
In 1985, the remainder of the imprisoned members of the Hakeem family was moved to Abu Ghraib prison, which was a lower security prison at the time. There, the Grand Ayatollah found an opportunity to continue teaching the advanced seminars he had offered before imprisonment. Since most of the inmates with him were highly educated seminarians and students of his, he quickly seized the opportunity.
Finally, on June 7, 1991, His Eminence and the remainder of the Hakeem family were released from prison. That, however, did not mean an end to Baathist harassment. Baathist authorities badgered him in an attempt to name him an official state designated religious authority. He definitively refused such offers, asserting that religious authority is and must always be independent. Because of his firm position, the state imposed a great deal of restrictions on the Grand Ayatollah. Amongst those restraints included a ban on publishing any of his books and scholarly work and broad restrictions on his travel.
After the passing of Grand Ayatollah Abulqasim Al-Khoei the following year, many scholars and seminarians petitioned His Eminence to assume the obligations and duties of Marja’ – the religious authority to whom the believers refer to in issues of law. In compliance with the incessant petitions of students and peers, he put forward his views on Islamic law and practice and became one of the most prominent religious authorities of the time. He continued his scholarly work, writing and teaching across the fields of Islamic sciences. Currently based in the Holy City of Najaf, Grand Ayatollah Al-Hakeem is one of the leading contemporary religious authorities for Shia Muslims worldwide.

Hajj Jalal Moughania

Jalal Moughania is an American lawyer, lecturer, and researcher. He has authored and translated original works on Islamic history and thought, religious authority in Shi’ism, and Shia Muslim identity and society. He serves as Director at the Mainstay Foundation — an NGO working in the space of research, education, and development. Moughania holds a Juris Doctorate in Law.

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The Tragedy: A Narration of the Saga of Karbala

On the tenth day of the month of Muharram, fifty years after the passing of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), Imam Hussain (a) and a small number of family members and companions were slaughtered at the hands of the Umayyad government. They made their stance on the land of Karbala with determination and resolve. They did not waiver in the face of an army of thousands. They made that stance in the hope that their memory will bring life to a Muslim nation which was spiraling fast down the road of deviance.More than thirteen centuries have passed since. Yet every year, Muslims around the world continue to commemorate the tragedy and remember Imam Hussain’s (a) great sacrifice. Devotees from around the globe flock to his grave in Karbala to visit and supplicate. They remember the events of that bloody massacre and the valor of Imam Hussain (a) and his companions. They recite verse and prose in commemoration of that stance.Because of the great importance of the tragedy and the passion that it infused into the Muslim nation, Umayyad authorities did all they could to erase its memory. They forbade the mentioning of Imam Hussain (a), persecuted anyone who professed love to the Holy Prophet’s (s) household, and spread false ideologies that absolved them of any culpability. Despite all this, Imam Hussain’s (a) stance was engraved into the conscience of the Muslim nation. As Lady Zaynab proclaimed in the court of Yazid, “By God, you will never erase our remembrance or kill our inspiration.”The Maqtal: A Narration of the Saga of Karbala is a compilation of the events that took place in the land of Karbala and is prepared for the specific purpose of providing reciters and lecturers with a resource to use during the mourning of Ashura.

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi is a practicing attorney at the AT Law Group, based in Dearborn, MI. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors at the Mainstay Foundation. Albodairi has served with a number of nonprofit organizations for over several years in various capacities, where he has been using his legal and analytical skills to advance his communities.

The Saga: The Battle of Karbala

On the tenth day of the month of Muharram, fifty years after the passing of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), Imam Hussain (a) and a small number of family members and companions were slaughtered at the hands of the Umayyad government. They made their stance on the land of Karbala with determination and resolve. They did not waiver in the face of an army of thousands. They made that stance in the hope that their memory will bring life to a Muslim nation which was spiraling fast down the road of deviance. More than thirteen centuries have passed since. Yet every year, Muslims around the world continue to commemorate the tragedy and remember Imam Hussain’s (a) great sacrifice. Devotees from around the globe flock to his grave in Karbala to visit and supplicate. They remember the events of that bloody massacre and the valor of Imam Hussain (a) and his companions. They recite verse and prose in commemoration of that stance. Because of the great importance of the tragedy and the passion that it infused into the Muslim nation, Umayyad authorities did all they could to erase its memory. They forbade the mentioning of Imam Hussain (a), persecuted anyone who professed love to the Holy Prophet’s (s) household, and spread false ideologies that absolved them of any culpability. Despite all this, Imam Hussain’s (a) stance was engraved into the conscience of the Muslim nation. As Lady Zaynab proclaimed in the court of Yazid, “By God, you will never erase our remembrance or kill our inspiration.”

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi is a practicing attorney at the AT Law Group, based in Dearborn, MI. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors at the Mainstay Foundation. Albodairi has served with a number of nonprofit organizations for over several years in various capacities, where he has been using his legal and analytical skills to advance his communities.

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The Saga: The Sermons of Ahlulbayt

On the tenth day of the month of Muharram, fifty years after the passing of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s), Imam Hussain (a) and a small number of family members and companions were slaughtered at the hands of the Umayyad government. They made their stance on the land of Karbala with determination and resolve. They did not waiver in the face of an army of thousands. They made that stance in the hope that their memory will bring life to a Muslim nation which was spiraling fast down the road of deviance. More than thirteen centuries have passed since. Yet every year, Muslims around the world continue to commemorate the tragedy and remember Imam Hussain’s (a) great sacrifice. Devotees from around the globe flock to his grave in Karbala to visit and supplicate. They remember the events of that bloody massacre and the valor of Imam Hussain (a) and his companions. They recite verse and prose in commemoration of that stance. Because of the great importance of the tragedy and the passion that it infused into the Muslim nation, Umayyad authorities did all they could to erase its memory. They forbade the mentioning of Imam Hussain (a), persecuted anyone who professed love to the Holy Prophet’s (s) household, and spread false ideologies that absolved them of any culpability. Despite all this, Imam Hussain’s (a) stance was engraved into the conscience of the Muslim nation. As Lady Zaynab proclaimed in the court of Yazid, “By God, you will never erase our remembrance or kill our inspiration.” The Saga: The Sermons of Ahlulbayt is a compilation of the sermons delivered by Imam Hussain (a) and his family members, from the date of their arrival in Karbala to the stance of Lady Zaynab and Imam Sajjad (a) in Damascus.

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi

Hajj Mohamed Ali Albodairi is a practicing attorney at the AT Law Group, based in Dearborn, MI. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors at the Mainstay Foundation. Albodairi has served with a number of nonprofit organizations for over several years in various capacities, where he has been using his legal and analytical skills to advance his communities.

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