Online Encyclopedia of Imamah and Wilayah, is the first comprehensive and documented encyclopedia for the general public designed to explain, expand, and interpret all the entries and terminologies related to the categories of Imamah and Wilayah. It provides in-depth analysis on all topics concerning the life of the infallibles, historical events, Islamic writers and personalities. It also references educational and cultural resources, artistic achievements, and other related subjects.
This encyclopedia is affiliated with the Imamah and Wilayah Research and Educational Center and is being overseen by Ayatollah Muhsin Araki.
The Need for a Discussion on Imamah and Wilayah
Imamah and Wilayah account for a large body of scholarly discussions and principle beliefs among Muslims. Notably, all Islamic sects, with more or less different interpretations, accept these fundamentals, in their entirety. The structure of the system of Islamic thought based on the principle of wilayah of the infallible Imams (a) – which is considered an extended branch of Divine guardianship and wilayah – is an arena dominated by theological, jurisprudential, legal and ethical debates. Investigating and reinterpreting such an important issue is the duty of Muslim scholars - both Shi'a and Sunni - to provide appropriate answers to the unique questions of each age and time.
Given the enormous potential- having practical implications apart from the ups and downs that have beset the intellectual, political, and social life of the Islamic Ummah- the copious research efforts undertaken in this area have not been sufficient and still require further, more focused endeavors. For this reason, the need for an online encyclopedia on the subject of Imamah and Wilayah has been deeply felt for a long time – an encyclopedia explaining all the issues related to this subject and a resource which is comprehensive, documented, up-to-date and accessible.
Scholarly, documented research and study, reinterpretation and recounting of the wide-ranging aspects of the concepts of Imamah and Wilayah is an undeniably vital necessity and for the scholars, especially considering the contemporary conditions of the Muslim world, should not require much argument.
Undoubtedly, discovering the truths and understanding the greatness of Imam's existence and its effects require in-depth, meticulous and comprehensive research along with a great deal of effort and diligence in the various sources of Islamic knowledge. It is only after passing through these stages that original ideas that serve a practical purpose can be made available for the benefit of the general public. Those responsible for the spread of Islamic education and ethos in society have no doubt, despite thousands of books, small and large, both old and new, that the Muslim community – both elites and ordinary citizens – are not acquainted with the necessary knowledge on Imamah and Wilayah and much of the fog from the face of scholarly content has not been dissipated. As a result, creation of differences and divisions among Muslims has become more irreconcilable and widespread.
The Need for an Encyclopedia on Imamah & Wilayah
The present era is an era of intensive information, avoiding excessive rhetoric, spending minimum time and making the most of it. Inevitably, it means that the language employed should be simple and eloquent and short, expressive words and phrases should be used to communicate ideas. In this period, in the fields of science and technology, a specialized paper has taken over the former position of the book. Moreover, specialized publications today have no role other than transmitting information.
Without doubt, numerous research works and materials have been written and published in the field of Imamah and Wilayah for a variety of audiences at different levels throughout history; this mass of scattered information considering the different interests and tastes of the readers requires further research and creativity.
Unless this mission is carried out correctly, information will be of no practical value and the process of making information available will not serve knowledge; because knowledge is in fact an organized mix of information. Random and unorganized information cannot influence one's knowledge or contribute in shaping the mental structures of individuals or transform them toward perfection.
Any researcher of given information, by reviewing a few words related to that discipline, that are placed next to each other or linked to one another, will immediately identify what the main debate is and where to find what he is looking for. These keywords that can be arranged and demonstrated in a variety of ways are the most compact and concise form of summarized abstracts that, in some cases, take the place of a book and carry maximum information with the least amount of extra details.
The Need for an Online Encyclopedia
Today, the world of science is growing at an astonishing rate. Approximately two million scientific and technical articles are written each year and published in over 170,000 credible journals. Given the role of scholarly well-researched information in the advancement of knowledge, technology, growth and development of a society, the importance of access to up-to-date information by researchers, specialists, authors, teachers and students is becoming increasingly apparent, especially in the area of Imamah and Wilayah.
In this regard, with the advent of advanced electronic media in the collection and distribution of information, libraries and other reference centers store their information resources on their computers and make them available for their visitors. In addition, they provide broader services by connecting to networks such as the internet. Hence, information seekers can use it at any time and place and help improve their information literacy. A comprehensive online resource is urgently needed to enhance the level of knowledge of experts, students and those interested in Imamah and Wilayah such that they are not in need to refer to the published books, miscellaneous websites and long internet searches.
The Benefits of Electronic Encyclopedias
1. Remote access;
2. Multimedia Support;
3. Search option;
4. Access to a single version simultaneously by multiple users;
5. Content sorting for the audience;
6. Quick updates;
7. Low cost;
8. Capacity for content linkage;
9. Need for less workforce;
The Purpose of this Encyclopedia
The main purpose of this encyclopedia is to provide quality scholarly, cultural and educational discussions on topics related to Imamah and Wilayah with the hope that the following goals will also be achieved:
1. Documented and dynamic explanation of Islamic teachings related to the doctrine of Imamate based on the teachings of the Holy Qur'an, the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the far-sighted perspectives of senior Islamic scholars in simple, concise and articulate language in order to introduce, enrich and advance the culture and religious beliefs of society;
2. A profound and specialized portrayal of all the issues related to Imamah and Wilayah without harming the flow of the text;
3. Mass rearrangement of information provided on the topic of Imamah with a focus on contemporary needs;
4. Reflection of the most prominent scholarly views on any subject and critiquing them with due-diligence and on the basis of intellectual impartiality;
5. Developing and consolidating Islamic teachings in libraries in a structured program through defined steps;
6. Giving importance and emphasis to the latest scholarly output in every subject discussed in this encyclopedia;
7. Systematic, scholarly and appropriate response to doubts and questions raised on the national and international arena regarding the doctrine of Imamate.
Projects in the Making
By the time the materials and contents of this encyclopedia are ready to be circulated, three major projects, under the title of "Imamah and Wilayah Comprehensive Resource Bibliography", shall be implemented in gradual stages:
1. Comprehensive bibliography of books on Imamah and Wilayah;
2. Comprehensive bibliography of articles on Imamah and Wilayah;
3. Comprehensive bibliography of theses on Imamah and Wilayah.