Son of Karbala: The Spiritual Journey of an Iraqi Muslim
|Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
The book Son of Karbala: The Spiritual Journey of an Iraqi Muslim is a highly instructive and thoroughly enjoyable autobiography in which the author talks about his journeys, taking him from continent to continent from the Middle East (Karbala, Iraq) into the Western world and then to a transforming realization of why we are all here and where our destiny ends.
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Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri was born in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala, sacred to Shi'a Muslims around the world as the place where Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was martyred in CE 680, leading to the split between the Shia and Sunni. Educated in Europe, working for much of his life in the USA and then around the world in the oil business, Haeri has a unique perspective to offer on the political history of the region. He is currently engaged in lecturing and writing books and commentaries on the Holy Qur'an and related subjects, with particular emphasis on ethics, self-development and gnosis ('irfan). With a lifetime's experience of contemplation, research, and insights, he shares what it means to live in the light of the Absolute in a relative world and maintains that spiritual awakening is potentially available to all.
About the book[edit | edit source]
This book published in O Books; 1st Edition (February 16, 2006), has 240 pages and best sellers rank of 4,453,910 in Books.
Shaykh Fadhlalla in this enjoyable easy-read book, takes the reader through the events that unfolded around him and provides a spiritually uplifting commentary on them, which may lead them to the deeper meanings behind the events of today. He beautifully brings his story along with the words of great people such as the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, Saadi, and verses of the Quran.
Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]
- Chapter 1: The House of Shaykh Ahmad
- Chapter 2: The Plain of Martyrs
- Chapter 3: The Last Caravan
- Chapter 4: The Burrani
These four sections are the author's description of growing up as a Shiite in the city of Karbala, where the Shiite's 3rd Imam (Hussain) was martyred.
“Death was very much alive in Karbala. After all, the city was founded on the most tragic of deaths. A death that shook the very foundation of the Islamic world, the shockwaves of which resonate to this day. In 680, on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, the plain of Karbala became the Plain of Martyrs.”
He describes his life from the beginning, including his mother's marriage, his childhood and adolescence, and the Karbala of his youth.
“The Karbala of my youth was the last in the train of human caravans that had stretched back into the invisible past. In my early teens, things were starting to change rapidly as the westerly winds gathered momentum.”
He talks about The Burrani where visitors from all over the world (princes of the old Qajar, royal family, dervishes and special dignitaries from distant lands) had stayed there to meet his father. He tells the story of the meetings that took place there, and his father's predictions pleasantly.
- Chapter 5: Westerly Winds
This section is about the result of the First World War and the Sykes-Picot agreement that was the blueprint for the modern Middle-Eastern states on Iraq.
- Chapter 6: Student Times
- Chapter 7: The Curse and Blessings of Oil
- Chapter 8: New Horizons
These three sections detail the author life in getting an education in Britain and the U.S., then setting up oil-consulting offices in London or the Middle East. In the meantime, he comes across dramatic cultural differences and describes them beautifully. After his education he prepared a good resume for himself: he was invited to the IPC’s London headquarters by Dr. Samarah, who was on a visit to the UK but didn’t accept, then was offered a director’s position with a large computer-consulting subsidiary of BP, and was soon assigned to open up offices and markets in the oil producing countries of the Middle East from a Beirut base, but he preferred to set up, in Beirut, one of the first Arab oil consultancy companies.
The cruel war in Lebanon forced him to leave Beirut and travel east and west looking for safe havens and people whose agenda in life was balanced between this world and their real purpose and direction in existence.
- Chapter 9: Cross Currents
- Chapter 10: Clear Currents
- Chapter 11: People and Places
- Chapter 12: Making Sense
These four sections of the book detail author’s finding Sufism while wandering through Asia in answering his nagging question: "what is the purpose of my life?"
He met spiritual masters from other traditions non-Islamic, and was able to sense the innate spirituality that was common among seekers on the path. What he found striking was how those spiritual masters encouraged him to proceed with his journey within the realm of his own spiritual up-bringing.
“This state led me towards inner reliance and trust in the Glorious Creator and His purpose. Life begins with trusting the mother, then the family, then a widening circle of others, until the time comes for the discovery that the origin of all trust lies within the soul – a reflection of the Divine trust.”
The author begins his book with talking about his mother, giving birth to him, and ends it with the death of her.