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A Christian’s Perspective on Al-Husayn’s Humanity

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A Christian’s Perspective on Al-Husayn’s Humanity | Professor Christopher Clohessy (Pontifical Urbanianum University) | AMI Research Seminar

The second research seminar of the academic year saw Al-Mahdi Institute host Professor Christopher Clohessy, from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), Rome. Professor Clohessy began his presentation with a contemporary study of Imam al-Ḥusayn’s life. His aim was to examine Imam al-Ḥusayn from a fresh angle, to search for new interpretive keys, with which to unlock greater depths in his humanity: an Ḥusaynian praxis, which means re-presenting Imam al-Ḥusayn’s life in a manner that makes it possible to imitate him. Also puts him within reach of countless ordinary men and women, no matter what their religious convictions, who are not deeply engaged in international or even local struggles for justice, but who suffer an authentic martyrdom by striving to make the correct ethical and moral decisions every day. Professor Clohessy believes the key to understanding his life and sacrifice (without in anyway diminishing the quality of his Imamate) is to examine his humanness, since the virtue that dominates the life of al-Ḥusayn, is the virtue of integrity. Integrity is not a religious virtue; integrity is a human virtue. If one desires inner peace, then one must live with integrity; because when a person lives with integrity, their actions in private are the same in the public sphere. Furthermore, when one does the same thing in public as is done in private, whether people are watching or not, when there’s no disparity between their words and actions, when people live with integrity all the other virtues, justice, truthfulness, fairness, honesty, all of those other virtues automatically fall into place. Professor Clohessy proposes that Imam al-Ḥusayn is primarily for humanity a superb model, example of integrity, because there will always be things in our lives, in our daily work, in our families, in our relationships that are acceptable to do and always things that is emphatically never acceptable to do. Imam al-Ḥusayn understood that, and in the instant that he understood that, his life began moving towards its end. To live prophetically does not mean predicting the future, it means being scrupulously truthful in the present moment. Imam al-Ḥusayn understood that, and in the instant that he understood that, the number of his enemies began to grow dangerously.

Bio: Christopher Clohessy is a South African Catholic priest who holds a BST from the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome and a PhD from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), also in Rome. He is at present a resident faculty member of that Institute, lecturing there in Shīcī Islamic studies, Qur’ānic Studies, Islamic Ethics and Christian-Muslim dialogue, and is visiting lecturer at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, where he lectures in Fundamental Theology, Ecclesiology, Islam and Mariology. He is author of Fāṭima, Daughter of Muḥammad (2009, 2018 2ND edition), and Half of My Heart: The Narratives of Zaynab bt. cAlī (2018) and Angels Hastening. The Karbala’ Dreams (2021), all published by Gorgias Press. In 2021 he was one of the recipients Iranian World Book Award, with the nomination ‘Distinguished Researcher’. Prof. Clohessy is at present researching in preparation for a new book on ‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī Christopher Clohessy is a South African Catholic priest who holds a BST from the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome and a PhD from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), also in Rome. He is at present a resident faculty member of that Institute, lecturing there in Shīcī Islamic studies, Qur’ānic Studies, Islamic Ethics and Christian-Muslim dialogue, and is visiting lecturer at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, where he lectures in Fundamental Theology, Ecclesiology, Islam and Mariology. He is author of Fāṭima, Daughter of Muḥammad (2009, 2018 2ND edition), and Half of My Heart: The Narratives of Zaynab bt. cAlī (2018) and Angels Hastening. The Karbala’ Dreams (2021), all published by Gorgias Press. In 2021 he was one of the recipients Iranian World Book Award, with the nomination ‘Distinguished Researcher’. Prof. Clohessy is at present researching in preparation for a new book on ‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī.

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