Stating that these old and valuable Shi’a manus c r i p ts are held prisoner in libraries, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi stated: “unfortunately the managers of famous libraries, both at home and abroad, do not allow us to make copies of these manus c r i p ts so as for the researchers to make use of them”
According to the news headquarters of the International Congress on the Role of the Shi’a School in the Emergence and Development of Islamic Sciences, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi delivered an address in the opening ceremony of the Congress. Speaking at the Great Prophet (ṣ) auditorium of the Imam Kāẓim (ʿa) Seminary School, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi stated:
“The purpose of this congress is for us to join hands and make known to the world the enormous contributions of the Infallible Imams (ʿa) and the Shi’a scholars to the emergence and development of Islamic sciences, and to celebrate the sincere and invaluable services of the Shi’a scholars, throughout the long history of Islam, to the religion and the Islamic sciences. We have gathered here today to bring to light a very important issue in the history of Islam and to show the world the invaluable services of the Shi’a Imams (ʿa) as well as Shi’a scholars to the development and dissemination of Islamic sciences”.
He, then, noted: “Needless to say, we never intend to understate the important role of other Muslim denominations and their scholars in the emergence and development of Islamic sciences; therefore, this congress is not an attempt to trivialize the efforts of other Islamic schools, as we have always appreciated the efforts of their scholars in furthering the goals of Islam. This congress has been organized based on two important principles: first, respecting all other Islamic denominations, and second, being purely scientific in nature and discussions and away from political issues and agendas”.
Referring to the importance of science in Islam, his eminence also stated: “to Islam, everything in the world begins and ends with knowledge and science; there are lots of Islamic teachings which indicate the great importance placed by Islam on science and knowledge. For instance, according to the Quran ,the reason why Adam was privileged over all angels and that all the angels were ordered to prostrate themselves before Adam was the knowledge that he was given which the angels did not have access to”.
He further added: “according to the book “Majmaʿ al Bayān” by late Ṭabarsī, what is meant in the Quran by “ʿIlm Al Asmā’” is, according to the companions of the Prophet (ṣ) and the second generation Muslims, the knowledge of material and physical aspects of man’s life as well as spiritual aspects of his life.
Making reference to the old question of whether this knowledge of Adam had been inherent or acquired, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi further noted: “This inherent knowledge was passed down generations but it faded away gradually over thousands of years; Adam’s privilege over the angels was, according to the Quran, due to his vast knowledge which the angles did not have access to, and the descendants of Adam are also respected based on how knowledgeable they are”.
He then referred to the end of the world and the advent of Imam Mahdi (ʿa) and stated: “even Imam Mahdi (ʿa) will take pride in, not his power, but the vast knowledge of various fields bestowed on him by Allah. According to a tradition by Imam Ṣādiq (ʿa) the whole knowledge in the world consists of 27 parts, but human beings have access only to 2 parts before the advent of Imam Mahdi (ʿa); however, after the advent of the Imam, the remaining 25 parts of knowledge will be made accessible to mankind and the human knowledge and sciences will be perfected”.
He then pointed out the fact that Islam is a proud religion as it emerged within an ignorant and nescient people who followed only superstitions, but it gave the highest degree of importance to knowledge and learning, and so the Muslim scholars and scientists became the most prominent figures of the society. He also said in this regard: “This congress is being held to celebrate the scientific efforts and feats of Shi’a scholars who made major contribution to the emergence, development, and dissemination of various Islamic sciences, but whose contributions remain woefully unknown and unappreciated”.
His eminence also added: “the oppressive rulers and extremist groups, who exist in every society and whom we separate from our Sunni brothers, did not allow the works of these scholars to be known to people and to be appreciated”.
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi continued: “Among the atrocities committed by the enemies of the Prophet’s Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) was the burning down of libraries where the scientific works of Shi’a scholars and the tradition resources of the Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) were kept. This was why some Shi’a scholars buried their books so as to protect them from being found and destroyed; this is also another reason why many of the scientific works of Shi’a scholars have never been found”.
Pointing out some of the atrocities committed against the Shi’a school toward the elimination of Shi’a resources in different eras, and stating that Shaykh Ṭūsī most avidly sought to further proximity of Islamic schools of thought, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi noted: “when the Seljuk dynasty was trying to take over the Muslim world, an extremist group seized the opportunity of the chaos and raided Shakh Ṭūsī’s house and set fire to his personal library”.
His eminence then referred to the library of the congregational mosque of Esfahan and that of the congregational mosque of Marv as great reservoirs of Shi’a books and references which were razed down; he further stated: “a quick glance at history reveals how, in different eras, extremist groups and tyrannical rulers would plunder the Shi’a libraries and destroy rich reservoir of Islamic and Shi’a references and resource books”.
Stating that Shahid Awwal had authored many jurisprudential books, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi asserted: “another prominent Shi’a scholar was Shahid Thani who was such a learned jurist that he wrote the book “Sharḥ Lumʿah”, which is one of the important Shi’a jurisprudence references, in only 6 months and 6 days”.
Making reference to the boycotting of the Shi’a scholars’ books and preventing them from being kept in libraries, schools, universities, and Islamic seminaries, he continued: “This was another strategy used by the fanatic anti-Shi’as all throughout history to prevent people from getting acquainted with the scientific works of the Shi’a scholars”.
Stating the fact that the Shi’a libraries are filled with the books of the Sunni brothers and authors in different scientific fields, his eminence said: “we have no fear to have and use the scientific resources of the Sunnis; however, the extremists in different countries either do not allow any Shi’a books in their libraries or they do not allow people to access these books”.
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, then, noted: “Of course we separate our moderate Sunni brothers from extremists and we have academic connections and correspondence with them”.
Emphasizing the fact that the present congress is an attempt to shed light on the realities regarding the Shi’a contribution to the development of Islamic sciences, his eminence asserted: “the late Sayyid Hassan Ṣadr, Aqa Bozorg Tehrani, and Sayyid Muhsin Amin have taken considerable steps toward introducing to the world the enormous contribution of the Shi’a school to the Islamic sciences, but these attempts are not enough”.
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi also emphasized that the congress had been active for two years prior to its general meeting, involving over 400 Shi’a and Sunni elites and researchers as well as many non-Muslim researchers in order to work on various Islamic fields and sub-fields to identify the Shi’a scholars’ contributions to them. He noted in this regard: “the result of this intensive, two-year research project into a large number of resource books and references is more than 50 books, listing the contributions of Shi’a scholars to various fields of Islamic sciences; these books will remain as great references in the history of Islam”.
He also asserted: “these books will open up new horizons to those who love the Prophet’s Ahl-al-Bayt (ʿa) and they contain information that might have been obscure even to us”.
His eminence then emphasized that these books must be translated and published in different languages and added: “an excerpt of these books must also be published in a few limited volumes; of course the valuable issues that are pointed out in the speeches given in the congress will also be added to them”.
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi further noted: “this issue must also be given enough attention within the Islamic seminaries and the history of Islamic sciences and the major contribution of Shi’a scholars to these sciences must be explained and taught to seminary students”.
Stating that one of the missions of the International Congress on the Role of the Shi’a School in the Emergence and Development of Islamic Sciences is to publish the old Shi’a manus c r i p ts, his eminence asserted: “the copies of old manus c r i p ts must be made available to researchers; unfortunately, the managers of famous libraries both at home and abroad do not allow us to make copies of these ancient manus c r i p ts so that the researchers may use them, and these valuable books are held prisoner in prisons called libraries”.