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.

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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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In Their Eyes

Your living miracle has brought you this far. You are unstoppable now – so long as you nurture this insight. The present moment expands forward and backward in time. You are on a journey towards the infinite, there is no turning back. With the clarity of this moment, you can now peek into the past. You have a living miracle, you have a living guardian – even if only behind the scenes – and you have a guarded community. This awareness is a critical vision, a discerning mechanism, granting you access to the past in ways that others simply lack. If many supposedly “historical” records were influenced by tyrants, how do we tell what is true from false? Put aside petty details; I’m speaking of the core events. What about those turning points in history that govern our spiritual program today? What about the transition from chosen one to succeeding guardian and from guardian to subsequent guardian? In Their Eyes gives the reader straightforward and concise answers to these pivotal questions.

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Your Living Miracle

When we cannot figure it out otherwise, a miracle is our proof that the person claiming to be a chosen one (or a guardian) speaks the truth. If the so-called “chosen one” is known to fall short of impeccable character and sound reasoning – based on fair standards – then such a person is not even a serious candidate. A chosen one (and a guardian as well, for that matter) is meant to be a lighthouse in word and in action, an untainted connection to the one with no need. Falling short of that purity disqualifies any potential claimant. If claimant X says [s]he is the creator of the one with no need, our sound reasoning can expose such a charlatan right off the bat. The same goes for any other with an absurd claim. Your Living Miracle is a brief analysis of our living miracle and the Last Chosen One.

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