This treatise deals with some fundamental issues of the Shí'a Islamic faith. Although not all the chapters were written at the same time, they are inter-related and connected by the theme of imamate and wilayat of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt. Chapter 2 was written in 1998, chapter 3 in 1990, chapter 4 in 1997, while the first and last three chapters have been written this year. While revising chapter 3, I have added the section 'The Meaning of Mawla' in order to complete the discussion on Ghadír Khumm.
It is hoped that the reader will gain some insight into the Shí'a Islamic point of view on the most fundamental issue that has defined its existence in the past as well as in the present. This book also reflects some issues that are being discussed among some sections of the Shí'a community in North America. Such discussions and debates, at the least, provide the opportunity to further study and clarify the essential beliefs of Shí'a Islam.
May Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, bestow upon us the ability to open our hearts to the Divine guidance, and may He lift the veils of academic arrogance and tribal solidarity from our hearts and minds when we see the truth. Amin.
Wa ma tawfíqí illa billah.
Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
12 Rabi II 1420 / 26 July 1999