Holding the International Conference of “Arba'een: The Shared Spiritual Legacy of the World of Islam”

The International Conference of “Arba'een: The Shared Spiritual Legacy of the World of Islam” was held in Mohtasham Hall of the Iranology Foundation on 15 October 2018 in presence of a number of researchers and experts in the fields of intangible cultural heritage and Islamic culture and identity. This Conference was held with the cooperation of the Iranology Foundation and the Think Tank Advisory Board of Women’s Deputy Office of Arba'eenMain Office.

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

In the opening ceremony of the Conference, Ghodratollah Alizadeh, Information and International Affairs Deputy of the Iranology Foundation, after greeting the participants, announced, “Last year this time, the Iranology Foundation issued and sent a statement in several languages to Iranologists all over the world inviting them to help turn this huge demonstration into a cultural heritage.” Accordingly, the President of the Foundation issued the order of holding a conference on this theme in order to explore the various dimensions and angles of the shared heritage of Arba'een.

The Conference was inaugurated with a speech by Professor Ayatullah Seyyed Muhammed Khamenei, President of the Iranology Foundation. He stated, “One of the features of the discussions related to the intangible cultural heritage is that, though it appears to be an external material phenomenon, it demands profound interpretation, analysis, and reasoning.Therefore, we must explore Arba'eenas a phenomenon which enjoys various historical dimensions and, at the same time, sets specific goals and creates cultural concepts and ideas for the history of the whole world and humanity.” He added that the tradition of Arba'eenwas founded in the year of the Battle of Karbala. In fact, 40 years after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a), a group of Muslims returned to Karbala through Damascus on pilgrimage and later tried to preserve this tradition by performing such rituals as Rawda Khwani (recitation of chapters of Rawdat al-Shuhadā’), simulation plays, and the like. The speaker also maintained that history does not exist in its real sense; it is usually tainted with fake writings and quotations and demands extensive analysis. That is why the history of Shi’ism and the related effects and issues must receive increasing attention. Professor Ayatullah Khamenei also stated that Islam and Shi’ism are not limited to a specific nation and period and are, rather, eternal. In fact, they are some gifts which God has bestowed upon his purposeful servants, and Muslims must study more about them and publish more authentic and valuable works in this regard. Finally, he mentioned that the purpose behind Arba'eenis not merely to remember a wronged Imam; rather, human beings’ conscience and divine essence persuade them to seek justice and freedom. The growth of such a culture can contribute to the creation of a peaceful and unified society and make people aware of their true rights so that they would never tolerate oppression.

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

Laleh Eftekhari, Head of Women’s strategic Council and Deputy of Women’s Cultural Committee of Arba'eenEducation, introduced the institution of family as the most important factor in transferring the culture of Arba'een. She divided the present families in Arba'eenMarch programs into two guest and host groups. The Arba'eenMarch enjoys a huge potential in transferring Islamic culture and civilization to both hosts and guestsof this historical event. In the context of Arba'een, families transfer their original Islamic-Shi’ite identity and culture to their children and grandchildren and to later generations. The speaker also added that the most important feature of Arba'eenis practicing the traditions and conduct of the People of the Prophet’s House through paying attention to order, obligation, love, sacrifice, and friendship.

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

Sheida Mahnam, Head of the Social and Human Sciences Department of the Iran-UNESCO National Commission, stated that, with a unique overall attendance of more than 400,000,000 people, Arba'eenis the largest religious gathering of the world. In order to demonstrate this claim, she referred to the statistical data provided by the Religions and denominations Department of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies, which has more than 222 offices all over the world.

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

According to the speaker, protecting and preserving this invaluable maneuver and transferring it to future generations is one of the most important religious and cultural responsibilities of our country in such difficult times in the world. However, in spite of all the full-scale economic and political pressures, we are still strongly moving ahead relying on our culture and religious beliefs.

Atusa Mo’meni, Legal Counselat the Cultural Heritage Organization and Board Member of Governors Center for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office (affiliated with UNESCO), after providing a brief account of the features of intangible heritage, maintained that a review of the five-fold manifestations of intangible heritage in the course of holding thisritual can kindly whisper Muslims’ love of Arba’een and the value of this religious event to its participants in the ears of the people of the world and persuade them to advocate peace and altruism.

She added that the rituals, dramatic arts, and oral narrations of Imam Hussein’suprise for freedom contribute to Arba'een’s eternity as a cross-border phenomenon and a multinational heritage. Although the mourning ceremony of Arba'een is limited to one day in the lunar calendar, it embodies several old and new customs and rituals which are always alive in the everlasting beliefs of the Shi’ites of the world.

Abdulhadi Fiqhizadeh, the Qur’an and Household Deputy of the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, introduced Arba'eenas the most sacred of all historical epics involving bloodshed. He asserted that, on the Day of Ashura, ignorance stood against Islam and revealed its truly abominable face. Ashura is the manifestation of the opposition of two philosophical and ethical systems and represents the culture of sacrifice as opposed to the culture of selfishness and egotism. He also maintained that Ashura and Arba'eendo not merely belong to Muslims; however, they are honored to be the first heirs to this Islamic legacy, which is the epiphany of generosity, selflessness, and sacrifice for a holy belief against Taghut (Satan).

Janet Blake, Faculty member at the Department of International Law at Shahid Beheshti University and Head of the Research Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in West and Central Asia under the auspices of UNESCO, emphasized that in order to register Arba'eenas an intangible cultural heritage, we should first specify its place in Islam. After referring to the criteria for registering a cultural work or phenomenon as an intangible cultural heritage, she referred to religious and political challenges as the most important problems regarding the registration of Arba'eenas an intangible heritage. She reminded that the main shared feature of all religions is advocating peace, and we should employ all available tools in order to establish permanent peace all over the world.

Hamed Forouzan, Research Deputy of the Iranology Foundation, was the last speaker of the Conference. He noted that, unfortunately, the scientific studies on the epic of Arba'eenMarch are very limited in number and, thus, more efforts must be made in this regard. Based on one of his previous research projects, he referred to four fundamental strategies which are derived from Arba'eenMarch and contribute to consolidating the roots of Islamic culture, as follows:

1. The change of the models of human relationships into some elements in the servant-pilgrim communication systemduring the days of Arba'eenMarch. One of the effects of this system is reinforcing the social solidarity of Iraqi people based on a common goal.

2. The change of the model of international Islamic relationships.

3. Real practice of preparation for the period of the re-emergence of Imam Mahdi (a). This is because one of the elements of re-emergence is its reliance on people.

4. Practicing the true educational route, that is, enduring hardships, making sacrifice, keeping away from worldly possessions, and refraining from conflicts on the marching route.

The Conference was closed at 12.30 on the same day by giving letters of appreciation and some cultural gifts to the speakers.

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

List of Conference Speakers and Topics of Speeches

1. Atusa Mo’meni (PhD), Legal Counsel of the Cultural Heritage Organization, Board Member of Governors Center for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of UNESCO, Council of the First Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of safeguarding rural heritage and intangible inter-generation capitals, Arba'een: A Cross-Border Phenomenon and a Lasting Ritual ornamented with Five-Fold Universal Forms of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

2. Sheida Mahnam, Head of the Social and Human Sciences Department of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO and PhD in International Relations:Arba'een: a Symbol of Social Unity and Harbinger of Peace among Different Nations and Ethnic Groups

3. Janet Blake, Faculty Member in the Department of International Law at Shahid Beheshti University and Head of the Research Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in West and Central Asia under the auspices of UNESCO:Arba'een: A Cross-Border phenomenon and a Lasting Ritual Ornamented with the Five-Fold Universal Forms of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

4. Abdulhadi Fiqhizadeh, Qur’an and Household Deputy of the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance: Arba'een: The Pillar and Disseminator of the All-Inclusive Islamic Culture and Identity

5. Laleh Eftekhari, Head of Women’s Strategic Council and Deputy of Women’s Cultural Committee of Arba'eenEducation:Arba'een and its Role in Intra-Generation Cross-Border Transfer of Islamic Culture and Identity

6. Hamed Forouzan, Research Deputy of the Iranology Foundation: An Analytic Study of the Role of Arba'een March in Consolidating Islamic Identity

Main Themes of the Conference

The main themes of the Conference are as follows:

• Arba'eenas A Cross-Border Phenomenon and a Lasting Ritual Ornamented with the Universal Five-Fold Forms of Intangible Cultural Heritage

• Arba'eenand its Role in the Intra-Generation Cross-Border Transfer of Islamic Culture and Identity

• Arba'eenas a Symbol of Social Unity and Harbinger of Peace among Different Nations and Ethnic Groups

• Arba'eenas the Pillar and Disseminator of the All-Inclusive Islamic Culture and Identity

• Arba'eenand the Related Dramatic Arts

Holding the International Conference of “Arba

Conference Date and Venue

The International Conference of”Arba'een:The Shared Spiritual Legacy of the World of Islam” will be held on 15 October 2018 in Mohtasham Hall of the Iranology Foundation with the Cooperation of the Think Tank Advisory Board of Women’s Deputy Office of Arba'eenMain Office.

International Conference of “Arba'een:

The Shared Spiritual Legacy of the World of Islam” on the Agenda

Ayatullah Professor Seyyed Muhammed Khamenei, President of the Iranology Foundation, issued the order of holding the International Conference of “Arba'een: The Shared Spiritual Legacy of the World of Islam”. Ghodratollah Alizadeh, Information and International Affairs Deputy of the Iranology Foundation was chosen as the Secretary of the Conference.

This Conference will be held with the purposes of increasing the knowledge of human society of this invaluable cross-border and spiritual intangible heritage, globalization of this prophetic legacy as a symbol of freedom, and protection of human rights and the transcendent rituals celebrating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (a).

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