‘Foremost in Faith’

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This recently published book titled ‘Foremost in Faith’ is based on a collection of lectures delivered by Maulana Syed Mohammed Jafar Zaidi Shaheed,  who was a leading Shia scholar from the subcontinent.  His original lectures, which were delivered in Urdu language, have now been translated into English by Syeda Batool Shahid Zulfiqar Ali. In this context, the recent translation of these lectures is very noteworthy as it allows access for the younger generation, who are not very well versed with Urdu and also are not very familiar with the thought provoking discussion and deliberations of Maulana Jafar.

This publication also presents the acknowledgements and appreciations of contemporary Shia scholars from the subcontinent like Allama Syed Muntazir Abbas and Allama Talib Johari who describes Syed Jafar Zaidi as ‘a man draped in the garb of wisdom and knowledge’. It also carries special appreciatory remarks by Ayatollah Syed Aqeel Gharavi who praises Syed Jafar Zaidi as ‘an extremely reliable custodian of pure Islamic culture and values’ and also as ‘a harbinger to later generations of these humanistic as well as futuristic traditions with total scientific integrity and complete scholastic responsibility.’  Maulana Jafar was assassinated in 1980 by extremist sectarian outfits in Pakistan.

The compilation includes five lectures which are all a critique and commentary on five Ayats from the Quran. The five Ayats discussed in detail in these lectures are Ayat e Vilayat, Ayat e Mawaddat, Ayat e Tatheer, Ayat e Nusrat and Surah al Asr.  Another additional lecture, which focuses on Prophet Muhammad, is more of a hagiographical account that presents the Prophet as Syed ul Anbia ( Leader of the Prophets).

The following are brief excerpts from one of the introductory lectures.

“…………..if we repose trust in the Ahlebait (the Prophets family), we do so because our Prophet asked us to, and not on the Ahlebait’s request. Thus, it is only by way of simplification that we refer to ourselves as followers of Ahlebait. Ali did not say, “i am maula to all those for whom the Prophet is maula‘. Ali himself did not say, ‘ Prophet is the city of knowledge and I am its door’. Ahlebait did not declare that God had purified them. Whatever was said with regard to them was either said by God or by the Prophet of God. Hence, it is clear we believe in the Ahlebait because God and the Prophet asked us to. Now tell me honestly, if we follow this line, then are we followers of God and His Prophet, or are we followers of the Ahlebait? “

“…………Now if perchance, we do not accept them, despite the request of God and the Prophet, then the world will merely say we did not accept the Ahlebait. But in reality it is the non-acceptance of God and His Prophet’s recommendations. “

“………..every gathering arranged in the context of Islam, be it milad e Nabi, or milad e Ali or milad e Hussain, or a gathering to celebrate the birth or commemorate the death of any Imam, the focal point of all these gatherings is truly the person of our Prophet. Since we accept the imamat ( leadership) of each one of them on the Prophet’s request, hence reference to any Imam is actually a reference to our Prophet himself. “

These excerpts have been used with the permission of the author. Those interested in obtaining a copy of the book may contact the author at sbza5@yahoo.co.uk

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