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Kamil Al-Ziyarat

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Kamil  Al-ZiyaratKamil Al-Ziyarat is the fourth major publication from Shiabooks.ca, preceded by One Hundred Virtues of Ali ibn Abi Talib and His Sons by Ibn Shazan Al-Qummi, Glad Tidings of Mustafa for the Shia of Murtaza by Abu Ja'far Al-Tabari, and The Qa'em in the Qur'an by Sayyid Hashim al-Bahraani, and was released in late 2008. Copies are available for purchase now at the website of Shiabooks.ca.

Kamil Al-Ziyarat is a translation by Sayyid Mohsen Al-Husaini Al-Milani of the original work by the scholar Ibn Qulawayh Al-Qummi. It is a utilitarian yet inspiring collection of narrations, purportedly the most complete and comprehensive in existence, about Ziyarat, or the visitation to the holy places of the Shia.

Unlike many English renderings of Hadith collections, Shiabooks.ca has taken care to preserve the chain of narration for every narration in all of its projects to date. Further, if there are multiple chains or differing versions of a narration, these are often, if not always, included. This adds to the authenticity and completeness of the works and usability for scholarship and research purposes. It opens a door of study previously closed in the English language.

Kamil Al-Ziyarat is organized in chapters that start with discussing Ziyarat and its purposes and benefits in general, then quickly go onto narrations about the Ziyarat of particular holy persons and related topics. For example, a chapter on the reward of visitation of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is followed by one which mentions how to perform this Ziyarat – what to recite and where, etc., as prescribed the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). The next chapter is about rewards of praying in mosques where the Prophet had prayed, and after this, the narrations move on to visitation of Hazrat Hamzah. Similarly, when in later pages the topic moves to Ziyarat of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), there are chapters explaining the rewards, and the how and where, but also many related chapters about his martyrdom appropriate for someone attempting Ziyarat to know. The majority of the 680 page work is on the Ziyarat of Imam Husain.

One oddity of format: there is no table of contents, and that at first makes the book seem hard to navigate if looking for something specific. However, there is an index at the end of the book, which is really misnamed; it is really a chapter-by-chapter table of contents. It is sufficient as an index as well, because the chapters are short, usually just a few pages, and with descriptive titles and narrow focus. For example, chapter 24 is entitled, "Signs of the Killing of Hussain in Different Places", and chapter 82 is "Establishing Prayers in Full Form Next to the Grave of Hussain."

This book might not be the one you take with you on a Ziyarat trip for a few reasons: for one, you might not want the chains of narration and alternate versions of the same tradition in the book you take with you. You also might not want information for places you aren't going on your particular trip. Arabic is provided in sections which describe what you would say in performing Ziyarat, with translation but not transliteration. But these sections are a small portion of the whole work – this is not a slim back-pocket guide. It is much more than that.

But without a doubt, this book should be required reading for anyone planning a Ziyarat trip or even just dreaming about it, or those who have never really understood the merits, reasons, or appeal of such journeys. Some people will find it spiritually rewarding and engaging to read from cover to cover, while others may prefer to read portions about particular visitations individually, or use it as a quality source for religious research.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of all works put out by this publisher is quality. No one else compares when it comes to lasting bindings and use of something like LaTex to beautifully render both Arabic and English together on the same page.

The English-speaking Shia community owes sincere gratitude to Allah and to this publisher for the works they have been making available. The quality serves as evidence of a labor of love and devotion to Ahlul Bayt. Now that we see what is possible, it may raise the bar of English publication of Shia works permanently. I hope that this work will be strongly supported so that more may follow. This reader heartily recommends not only Kamil Al-Ziyarat but everything Shiabooks.ca has published to date as essential content for a decent English Shia library, as well as essential reading for a quality English-language Shia education. Purchase information as well as future projects can be found at http://shiabooks.ca.

Author of this article: Masooma Beatty
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