The Pope Meets The Ayatollah
AN INTRODUCTION TO SHI’A ISLAM
On March 5, 2021, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, enters Iraq for a historic visit. As he embarks on a pilgrimage to the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, the birthplace of Abraham, the Pope first stops in the holy city of Najaf to meet with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani.
In this timely and authoritative work, the authors provide insight into the significance of Shi’a Islam’s Marji’iyyah, led today by Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, as a voice of peace, tolerance, and moderation in today’s world. With a foreword by Ayatollah Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz, a leading professor in the Islamic Seminary and a student of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, this original work provides a comprehensive background to this historic visit and an insider’s introduction to Shi’a Islam and its worldview.
Why is the Pope meeting the Ayatollah and why now?
Is this merely a “courtesy visit” amongst the many other meetings planned in the Pope’s visit to the Republic of Iraq, or is there a deeper interest in the Ayatollah and the faith group that he represents? Between the followers of these two giants, there are millions of people watching. Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church are deeply rooted in the western psyche and is perhaps seen as the most formidable and longest standing religious institution in the western world. Shi’ism, however, is still obscure to most of the West. This book aims to provide insight into the significance of Shiʿa Islam’s Marjiʿiyyah, led today by Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, as a voice of peace, tolerance, and moderation in today’s world. Moreover, this original work provides a comprehensive background to this historic visit and an insider’s introduction to Shiʿa Islam and its worldview.
SAYYID MUNEER AL-KHABBAZ.
Ayatollah Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz, is a scholar, thinker, author, and professor of Islamic sciences. At the age of 14, he traveled to the Holy City of Najaf to begin his training in the Islamic seminary. He studied under renowned scholars such as Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abulqasim al-Khoei, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Murtada al-Boroujerdi, Grand Ayatollah Mirza Jawad Tabrizi, Grand Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani, and Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani.
Under the tutelage of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, he benefited greatly in the study of Usool, or principles of jurisprudence, as well as an extensive examination of modern sciences and their correlation with Islamic sciences. The Ayatollah has authored numerous publications, two of which have been translated in English: 1) The Mahdi: Understanding the Awaited One, and 2) Begin with Praise: Inspirations from Du’a al-Iftitah.
Sayyid Hassan Al-Hakeem is a researcher, lecturer, and thought leader in the Shi’a Muslim community. He serves as the Executive Trustee at The Mainstay Foundation UK, a London-based NGO working in the space of faith, education, and development in Europe, North America, South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
In addition to studying the Islamic Sciences under scholars of the religious seminaries in Najaf and Qum, Al-Hakeem holds two Master’s in Computer Engineering and Public Administration with a certification in Nonprofit Leadership from one of the top American research universities.
Jalal Moughania is a lawyer, lecturer, and writer on topics of identity and society, history and global affairs, law and religion. He has written, edited, and translated several books on Islamic history and thought, leadership and religious authority in Shi’ism, and Shi’a Islam.
He serves as a Director at the Mainstay Foundation US — an NGO working in the space of research, education, leadership, and development for Muslim communities. Moughania earned his juris doctorate in law and serves as legal counsel to companies and NGOs in the US and abroad.