According to News and Information Department of the International Foundation of Imam Reza (A.S.), Suhail Assad, whose real name is “Edgardo Rubin”, was born in Argentina, spent his adolescence in Lebanon and then in his youth came to Iran to study religious sciences. Now, it is more than a decade that he spends half of the year propagating Islam in Latin American countries. Because of his proficiency in four languages of Arabic, Persian, Spanish and English, he has worked as Islamic propagator in twenty-five countries and he has been successful in his work. So, he was admired as a selected servant of Razavi culture in the Twelfth International Festival of Imam Reza (A.S.) and has also presented a report on his performance in the presence of Ayatollah Javadi Amoli.
Assad, who has had the chance to go on the pilgrimage to the Razavi shrine more than 20 times, said: “My best memory is about that day when I came to Iran and for the first time I saw the Shrine of Imam Reza and the image of the golden dome and portico is in my mind and heart. Since I converted to Islam I devoted to Imam Reza and also that feeling of devotion is still in me, even more than before!”
On the occasion of the Vahdat week, we interviewed with Doctor Sheikh Suhail Assad as follows.
-Some say that the Islamic teachings are more concerned with piety. On the other hand some people, especially Shites believe that Islamic teachings are concerned with intellect. From the perspective of philosophy and mysticism, which you have studied, how rational and mystical are the teachings of the holy Prophet?
In discussing the relationship between religious concepts and wisdom, I shall say that at first there must be the distinction between faith and morality and the religious Law. When we say that faith is not rational it doesn’t mean that we can get all of religious commandments or we can read philosophy of Islamic law through wisdom. The issue of wisdom is restricted to intellectual discussion. When we say that the religion is rational, it doesn’t mean that intellect can independently reach the truth. If we consider it like this what then would be the role of the revelation? What are the divine aid and all the issues that are raised by the Qur'an? If we do not entirely call them rational, is not opposed to reason. There should not be any contradiction between faith and wisdom.
The second argument is that when the Qur'an wants to teach us something, who is the audience of Quran? When God sends a message to mankind, with whom does it speak? Does it talk to man? Speaks to the human body? We say that the addressee of Qur’an is wisdom. It is impossible to understand Quran without wisdom and thinking. So, the wisdom has an important role in understanding, interpretation and analysis of religion. Second, the wisdom has a supportive role in improving religious issues. Can you raise an issue which develops without thinking? However, it can be understood without much of depth. But if that is to turn to a culture, lifestyle and system of government, the wisdom must enter as in Qur'an it has been mentioned in the form of “Reflection and Contemplation” .God brought Qur'an to us, after that, who should work on it? It is obvious that Man should work on it. This man should be wise, if he is not wise to understand how he can understand Quran? We have a responsibility to understand Quran.
When it is good to understand Qur'an, interpret it and implement it, and then we perform it, this is the role of wisdom to use all of these issues to make such an Islamic life.
When you introduce Islam to people, in what prophet’s behavior and features they are interested more when they convert to Islam?
Apart from the Prophet Muhammad’s intellectual and moral thinking, what is more influential is his practical behavior and tradition. For those who are familiar with the character of the Prophet (greeting to him and his family), he will is understood as a comprehensive model of a perfect human.
In other words, what has always been attractive and creates changes in the world, was the "morality". So the ethical behavior and totally practical life of the Prophet Muhammad is the most important factor.
-Do you remember a Hadith from the holy Prophet which you have found very interesting?
Yes, it is said in a tradition that “if you confess to the Oneness of God, you will reach the perfection and you will prosper”. Almost the whole spirit of Islam and monotheism has been brought in this hadith and it is interesting for me, it feels like to say you are not able to get anywhere unless you believe in monotheism.
- Is monotheism also expressed in religious teachings of Imam Reza (A.S.) in almost the same way...?
Yes, monotheism has been referred to in of the famous Hadith of Imam Reza (A.S.): «کلمه لا اله الله حصنی فمن دخل حصنی أمن من عذابی» and also following that Imam says «بشرطها و شروطها و أنا من شروطها» Monotheism and Vellayat are the most important Islamic teachings. If we want to introduce Islam and know the main axis of it, that is what exactly is brought in teachings of Imam Reza (A.S.) in the Qudsi Hadith of Selselat al-Zahab.
-As the last question, are there any shrines in Latin America where people can resort to resolve their need for pilgrimage?
Some of Prayers booklets have been translated and Muslims pray from a long distance to the holy shrines of the infallible Imams (peace be upon them) and from there go on a spiritual pilgrimage to show their devotion.