Heighten the Mind
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This book deals with the history of the Shi‘a Ithna-‘Ashari Muslim community from the early days of Islam up to present day. Starting with a brief note on the origin of the Shia faith, the book describes the early days of its followers’ history from the 7th-11thcentury. From there, it focuses on regions; beginning with the history of the Shi‘as of Iran, Iraq & Afghanistan, reviewed together due to the multiple layers of mutual influences among them on socio-religious and political levels. Then it moves on to the Arab Middle-East & Turkey; followed by the east, to the Indian Sub-Continent; and then to Sub-Saharan Africa; followed by a review of Shi‘a communities in South-East Asia, Australia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States of the former USSR. The book ends with a brief look at the emerging Shia communities in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
It is worth mentioning that the section on Shī‘a communities in Africa, particularly East Africa, is a seminal work in which the author was not only a spectator observing the events and reporting them; rather he played a pivotal role in furthering the cause of the Shī‘ī faith in that region, especially among the indigenous African people.
Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (1927-2002) was born and raised in India where he completed his Islamic studies at the Jawadia Arabic College, a prominent Shi‘a seminary of that era. He then migrated in 1959 to East Africa where he was instrumental in planning and establishing Bilal Muslim Mission, the first organization in Africa to promote the Shi‘a faith among the indigenous people.
He was a prolific writer who had written and translated many books and articles on Shi‘a Islam in English, Urdu and Arabic. His publications were distributed worldwide since the 70’s, and translated into 22 languages including Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, Hindi, Farsi, Italian, French and Hollandaise.
He has been recognized for his lifelong work on Shi‘a faith by seminaries in India, Qum and Najaf. Jami‘at al-Mustafa al-‘Alamiyya (Al-Mustafa International University), Qum, had organized a seminar in 2011 to honour his life and achievements, in which a national postage stamp, a documentary, and a book containing his biography, various articles, listings and reviews of his written works, were all unveiled.
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