Four Californian Lectures – Part 5

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi (Toronto, Canada) is a researcher and a world-renowed author and speaker of the Shia faith. He is currently translating the 13th volume of Tafseer al-Mizan.

Lecture 1: Islam, Religion of Peace

A lecture delivered at the University of California Merrill College, Santa Cruz on 28th October, 1987.

Leaving all other categories aside, 1 would like to briefly mention the rights of some adversaries from
that Charter: Right of a claimant in a law-suit: “…If his claim against you is correct then do not try to break his argument and do not labour to refute his claim, instead, you should be your own adversary in his favour ,and be the judge against yourself, and be his witness for his claim without any need of other witnesses, because it is the duty imposed upon you by Allah.

“If his claim is wrong, then deal with him gently and put the fear [of Allah] in his heart and adjure him by
his religion and dull his wrath against you by reminding him of Allah…”

And what are your rights on him? He is addressed in these words: Rights of a defendant: “If your claim against him is correct, then talk with him benevolently in describing that claim, because the sound of a
claim itself is harsh enough [so do not add to it the rudeness of your language too]; and explain your
arguments gently; give him time, make your talk clear, and deal with him kindly….” If both parties of a conflict follow these rules, no dispute can ruin the society’s peace.

Then the Imam mentions the “Rights of One who was unjust to you”. He writes: “…If he did knowingly and intentionally then forgiveness is more suitable for you. Because it will weed out the enmity between you two. And further, there are many people like him in this world, and if is better to deal with them with good grace…”

As I mentioned before, these are the minimum rights which cannot be violated. Rut the same Imam has
guided us to the peak of the moral standard in another place. In one of his famous invocations, called
Makarimu ‘l-akhlaq (The Noble Virtues), Imam Zaynul’ Abidin prays to Allah: “O Allah! Send blessings on Muhammad and his progeny; and help me so that I wish well to him who works secretly against me; and treat him with kindness who forsakes me; and reward him generously who harms and injures me; and perform all my obligations to him who violates the ties of kinship; and in return speak well of him who backbites me; and that I be thankful for good and overlook evil.”

If a society is based on such a foundation, then obviously it will be a heaven of peace. As everyone’s rights and duties will be clearly demarcated, it will leave no room for friction and strife. When man has
established peace with his Creator, within his own soul and body, with his family and relatives, with his
neighbours and friends, and even with his adversaries, then surely PEACE will reign over the world. And
it will not be a peace imposed by some outside forces, but a peace which will spring from people’s inner
selves, from the collective character of the society.

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About the author

He was born in 1957 in a family of ‘ulamã’ in Bihar, India. He comes from a region in Bihar (Siwan District, previously known as Saran) that has produced well-known Shi‘a scholars in the Indian sub-continent. Migrated to Africa with his parents where he received elementary education in English medium school. After that for two years, he studied Arabic and Farsi with his respected father and two other ‘alims in Dar-Es-salaam, Tanzania.

In 1972, at the age of fifteen, he went to the Hawza-e ‘Ilmiya-e Qum, Iran. During his ten years stay in Qum, he studied with various teachers; and moved from the levels of muqaddimãt to sutûh (equal to graduate level in secular universities) and, finally, attended the dars-e kharij (ijtihad lectures equal to post-graduate studies) of Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaikh Wahid Khurãsãni.

In 1982, he returned to India where he stayed at Gopalpur for about a year.

In June 1983, at the invitation of the Shia Muslim Community of British Columbia, he and his wife moved to Vancouver where he stayed till June 1991 and served Shi‘a Islam through his lectures, writings, and teachings. Based on his publications and educational background, in September 1987, the Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) admitted him in the post-graduate program at Masters’ level. This was even though he had no formal degree nor was he asked to sit for any exams. In 1990 he completed his thesis; and after successfully defending the thesis, was awarded the Master of Arts degree in History in 1991.

In July 1991, he moved to Toronto and till 1996 worked as the Director of Islamic Education & Information Center providing a variety of religious services to Shi‘as in North America. During this time, he was also involved in the founding of the As-Sadiq Islamic School, a full time Islamic school from KG to Grade 8 levels. Since July 1996, he has accepted the responsibilities of the Imam-e Jum‘a and Resident ‘Ãlim of the Jaffari Islamic Center / Jaffari Community Center.

He has traveled to most cities in Canada and U.S.A.; as well as to Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, United Kingdom, Dubai, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya for lectures.

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