Son of Karbala
(Sample Chapter [Excerpts Only])

Introduction

Listen to the reed how it tells a tale, complaining of separations.

Jalaluddin Rumi

This book is the journal of a quest. It chronicles my life-long search for knowledge; a search that was driven by love and uncompromising passion, in the realization that conflict within and with others comes from man's natural drive to resolution. My goal was to understand the meaning of life and know its Source.

By God's grace and through appropriate applications and blessings, openings were granted to me. Words, events or books cannot define my gratitude for this. Yet, when close friends, students and family requested me to write my biography, I felt compelled to share the gifts of understanding and knowledge that have been bestowed upon me.

My experiences may be of particular value to those who have been displaced from the land of their heritage, especially if they are from Eastern or Muslim backgrounds. Insha `Allah (if God wills), they will also enable interested people from other cultures and religions to achieve a better understanding of the Islamic culture and its way of life, which has undergone such radical changes over the past decades.

Current world events and conflicts between peoples and nations add impetus to the usefulness of a book which might show some order within the chaos and clarify misconceptions and fears Westerners have concerning such issues as Muslim fundamentalism, jihad and terrorism. The reader will share my personal discoveries of how we Muslims lapsed in our socio-economic and cultural development and how our great religion became over structured and ritualistic. I came to a greater understanding and reconciliations with the world situation without compromising my spiritual heritage. I hope the reader, too, may come to terms with difficult events and disturbing global relationships at many levels.

I was born and brought up in the ancient city of Karbala, where Shi'a Muslims, theologians and mystics had lived and died for over thirteen centuries. Apart from its famed date palms and orange groves, Karbala holds great significance for millions of Muslims around the world. It was on the plains of Karbala on the 10th Muharram 61 AH** (10th October 680 CE) that Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, along with 71 of his companions, was brutally martyred. Ever since, there is a deep sadness and concern in every Muslim's heart as to why Muslims have often had to endure cruel and hypocritical leaders.

As a European-educated young man, I looked for a home or a culture that would reconcile my past with an appropriate future. I had lost Karbala with the continuity of its ancient way of life and Prophetic values, only to find its original blueprint ever residing in my soul, rather than physically in any land for I looked everywhere without success. The cultural dislocation, eventual statelessness and lack of country or people to belong to, led me to accept wherever in the world I was, as my temporary home. This brought the discovery that the more you identify with your nationality, religion, language and culture, the more difficult it becomes  to discover the higher spirit within you. In my case, outer destitution became the door for inner restitution.

My quest and longing for truth has led me to conclude that the end of the search for meaning and purpose in life the whys, whats and hows of existence is only the beginning of the enlightened phase of joyful continuity. What I was truly yearning for was closer than I had ever imagined. What I feared and hated lay in my own imagination and mind, veiling deeper meanings and the eternal truth. My desire is now to invite others to the celebration of life through unconditional service and awakened consciousness to the universal service and awakened consciousness to the universal Truth, the ever present and perfect ways of the One God.

This book is dedicated to all sincere human beings, who accept the limitations of humanity and seek boundless delights emanating from the soul. May the wandering seeker be awakened to fulfilled living, surrender in utter gratitude and be content by witnessing the Glorious Creator and His boundless perfections which shine through apparent worldly imperfections.

Oh my son! This world is like an ocean in which many a creation had drowned. Make, therefore, the fear of God your boat in this ocean; your faith the main hull of the boat; reliance on God as its sails; reason as its rower; knowledge as its captain; and patience as its anchor.

Imam Ali

Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

** After Hijra (Migration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions from Mecca to Medina. Islamic calendar begins with that event.)

 


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Added on January 19, 2007