In the late 50's and early 60's, when I was a madressa student in School Farze in Zanzibar-Africa, there was no such a subject as Islamic History on the madressa curriculum. Naturally, therefore, when I joined the teaching staff of the Huseini Madressa in Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania in early 80's and when I was subsequently assigned to teach Islamic History, I was at a loss, not knowing exactly what to teach.
Not that there was no syllabus for this subject. Rather, my main concern was the scope of the syllabus. For at the core of Islamic History syllabus was the study of the life of the Prophet (may peace be upon him and his progeny) and those of the other thirteen MASOOMIN from his progeny.
In my view, besides Yusuf Laljee's excellent book, KNOW YOUR ISLAM, there was no other simple but informative text that could be used comfortably by both the teachers and the students alike. Even then, the section on the life - history of MASOOMIN was rather sketchy in KNOW YOUR ISLAM.
Since those days, I have felt the need to compile brief teaching notes on the lives of our Twelve Imams (may peace be upon them all) with two objectives in mind: First, to focus on ali those areas of information, not exclusively historic, that would enable the learner to appreciate the complex situations in which our Imams lived and performed their duties as divinely appointed guides for the universe.
Secondly, to present this information in a style which has at its core the interest as well as the aptitude of the teachers and students alike. I found this task easy to conceive in mind, but very difficult to implement. Needless to say, I could accomplish little in this field until when I migrated to the U.S.A.
As luck would have it, at Huseini Madressa in New York, I was once more assigned to tteach Islamic History. For reasons I need not disclose them here, I found this task even more daunting than it was in Africa.
Fortunately, at this critical time when I was groping in darkness in search of suitable reaching text for my class, I was commissioned by Sayyyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi, the Chief Missionary of Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania to write teaching -units encompassing the lives of our Twelve Imams (may peace be upon them) for the Correspondence Course of the Mission. To me this was Allah - sent bounty in two ways.
Firstly, this commission gave me courage and confidence that I hitherto lacked. Now I had the support of one of the most renowned Shia scholars of our times - Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi.
Secondly, I would not have to worry about searching for sponsors to finance the printing, the publishing and the circulation of my writings; the Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania would do that.
This unit and others to follow Me therefore the result of the initiative and complete support of Saeed Akhtar Rizvi, the administration of Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania and its old chairman Fidahusein Abdullah Hameer.
Both the substance as well as the style of this unit (and the ones to follow) have been overly simplified, to comply with Saeed Akhtar's advice that "We have to keep in mind that these units are meant for youths and not for scholars." All said and done, despite the maximum precautions that were taken to keep this unit free of factual or any other errors, if, however, some have remained uncorrected, the responsibility is mine.
May Allah forgive me for these unintentional errors and may He reward here and in the hereafter all those who have in one way or another, assisted me in the writing, the production and the circulation of this unit.
WASSALAMU ALAYKUM WA RAHMATULLAHI WA BARAKATUH. MOHAMEDRAZA DUNGERSI. PH.D.