In ancient times before human beings stepped upon this earth, a dialogue took place. The angels of the heavens were surrounding the divine throne glorifying the praises of their Lord and never wearying. When Almighty Allah willed it He created mankind, and the dialogue began, as the scene is depicted for us in the Qur’"n thus: eNow your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am placing a vicegerent (khal:fah) in the earth.’ They said: ‘Will you place therein one who will cause corruption therein and shed blood, while we glorify your praise and exalt you?’ He said: ‘I know what you do not knowf1.

Alla>h creates Adam, peace be upon him, and he descends to the earth bearing within himself ideas, feelings and needs. Little by little the number of individuals increases and societies grow. Some individuals stand face to face in battle and war for their own selves and their interests. Here the mercy of Alla>h becomes apparent in that he sends messengers and prophets for the guidance of mankind and to save them from the seas of ignorance and error, and take them to felicity and comfort.

But mankind rebels against the prophets and messengers and instead of engaging them in insightful dialogue creates a rowdy atmosphere which takes many forms including refusing to listen, throwing stones, scorning, fathers preventing sons [from following the messengers], and, at its most severe, murder and dissension. On the other hand, we see the behaviour of the prophets and the messengers – kind words, replying to bad with good, bearing hardships, and so on which stems from their faith and their refusal to adopt these violent means.

The dialogue continued on this course until Islam came. Amongst the scenes depicted for us by the Holy Qur’"n regarding the dialogue which took place in ancient times, we see that mankind is invited to reflection and to peaceful and purposeful dialogue and to return to the Alla>h given human nature (fiUrah) and to disavow violence in discussing the issues that concern him.

We notice always in the dialogue that there is a truth which is right and proper to follow after its features have been made clear and the shadows have been removed from it, and after its vital form has been given to it in order to arrive at the desired reality. Dialogue has a number of courtesies which should be observed during discussions, many of which are laid out for us in the Holy Qur’"n in a number of verses, for example invitation [to Islam] with wisdom and fine preaching2; demonstrating clear proofs and evidences3; listening and then following the best of speech4, and so on.

It is on this basis that that the late supreme religious authority Imam Sayyid Mu9ammad al-.usayn: al-Sh:r"z:, he of encyclopaedic knowledge, universal thought and scope, and Islamic output, undertakes to introduce the school of the household of the Prophet Mu9ammad (ahl al-bayt), peace be upon them, so that the world may come to know their straight way and the benevolent message of Islam and the happiness it leads to in this world and the next.

Imam Sh:r"z: wrote in a simple and attractive style, and his writings have been translated into a number of languages, and they are distributed in the greatest of Islamic conferences namely the yearly .ajj pilgrimage. This book constitutes a collection of Imam Sh:r"z:’s short works regarding the school of the Prophet’s household which clarify many misconceptions about the school.