AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): On Monday, December 11, 2023, on the commemorating Research Week, the press conference “Research record of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly in the publication of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings in 2023” was held in the meeting hall of ABNA International News Agency with the presence of Hojat al-Islam Dr. Mahdi Farmanian, Deputy for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the Assembly.
In this press conference, pointing out the mission of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Farmanian stated, “The main mission of the Assembly is to publish the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings in different languages so that the world can get acquainted with it and anyone who wants, to accompany the AhlulBayt (a.s.) school.”
“In 2023, the Department of Research Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly took various actions, one of which was the compilation of the proceedings of the International Conference of Abu Talib (a.s.). The conference was held in 2020, and the compilation of its proceedings lasted until 2023. Currently, the proceedings of this conference are ready in 33 volumes, which will be unveiled in January 2024 at the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly,” he continued.
“The international conference of Abu Talib (a.s.) was held with the support of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and the office of Grand Ayatollah Sistani. More than 70 meetings were held for this conference in different countries, and the report of the conference is published in five volumes and is available,” added the Deputy for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.
Referring to the actions of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly in book translation, Farmanian stated, “Among other actions of the Department for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the Assembly is the translation of 110 books in 20 languages, which have been published in limited editions, and the translated books will be unveiled on December 21, 2023, on the occasion of Research Week in the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly. Our policy is to publish the books in the target countries, and therefore, the printing of translated books in Iran has been very limited, and we are waiting for supporters and donors to print them abroad.”
“Among the books translated by the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly this year, 18 books were in Turkish, 11 in Hausa, 9 in French, 9 in English, 7 in Pashto, 6 in Indonesian, 6 in Arabic, 5 books in Swahili, 5 in Urdu, and 4 in Tajik. The files and soft copies of these books will be available for those interested for free. Also, the publication of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings into Pashto is among our plans, and in this regard, we published the translation of Nahj al-Balagha in this language with the permission of the government of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.”
“We copied all the publications of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, which were 2000 titles in 36 languages, into flash memories, and we give them to others for free. Even the Word files of the works are available in these flash memories so that people can publish these works in the virtual space. The files of these books are also available on the website of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly. Also, Astan Quds Razavi, 20 gigabytes, Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s.), 6 gigabytes, and the Research Institute of Hajj and Ziarat provided us with 4 gigabytes of their works. In total, including the works of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, there are 40 gigabytes of works from four organizations in flash memory, and it is available for free to those interested in the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings,” stated the Deputy for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.
Publishing the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings in 22 languages on WikiShia
“Another product of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly is the multilingual application Naba for cell phones. This application is in 6 languages, and last year 700 books were uploaded on it. This year, the books uploaded in this application have reached 7,000 in 6 languages in the field of AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings. Many of these books belong to publishers other than the Publishing House of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly. We call for the publishers to provide their books in the field of Islamic teachings [translated versions] to the Assembly so that they can be uploaded to the Naba application.”
“The publication of 24 books in five languages with the support of some centers and institutions abroad is another action of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly. For example, 9 books of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly are being printed with the participation of some organizations of Bangladesh,” he continued.
About WikiShia virtual encyclopedia, the Deputy for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly said, “This encyclopedia is a source of honors of the Department for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, which used to operate in 10 languages, and now it has reached 22 languages. In these languages, the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings are being published in WikiShia, which have been welcomed by users. This year, 5200 entries were added to WikiShia and by the end of the year, it will reach 8000 entries. Currently, there are a total of 32,000 entries in 22 languages in WikiShia. WikiShia has 14 million monthly visits, and in some languages, including French and Spanish, university professors consider the WikiShia as a source.”
Regarding the objectives of the Department for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Farmanian stated, “In February, Wiki Shia Works will be unveiled. Artificial intelligence is based on data, and we are looking to provide accurate information with Wiki Shia Works. Ritual Poems Wiki is a section of Wiki Shia Works. Also, the production and publication of audiobooks were kicked off at the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly since 2021 and 10 audiobooks have been produced so far. This year, the audio publication of 5 books in English is on the agenda, and we are looking for the production and publication of more audiobooks. The Department also has created pages in Google Scholar for 45 Shiite scholars, including the late Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and Shaykh Mufid, and by creating these pages, 9,200 books in 30 languages were linked to Google Scholar.”
“In Rahnama Portal we publish speeches and video clips in 48 languages. In this regard, this year we focused on three languages, English, Spanish, and Chinese, and 1700 articles and clips were published on this portal. We also answered 1,900 questions about the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings on the Quora website, some of which were selected as the best answers on the website. We are also looking to launch a network library called AhlulBayt (a.s.) Knowledge Network where the data will be networked. In this way, 32,000 WikiShia entries will be connected to the library AhlulBayt (a.s.) Knowledge Network. We are looking to establish a reciprocal link between WikiShia and the library AhlulBayt Knowledge Network,” he continued.
“So far, 210 video clips in 17 languages have been produced in the Department, which have received good feedback, and in total, the views of the clips have reached 1,700,000. Also, the Department has provided training courses in the field of media literacy and artificial intelligence for some non-Iranian Shia media activists. Through these training courses, the clips produced by one of the activists in Portuguese reached 60 million views. The total views of the clips of another of such activists increased from 500,000 to 12 million. Monitoring research activities about Shia outside Iran is another Department’s action. In this regard, we publish a monthly that reflects the research activity of Western and Arab research centers in the field of Shia, and the first two issues of this monthly magazine are ready for publication. This monthly magazine is sent to professors, experts, and decision-makers,” added the Deputy for Scientific and Cultural Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.
In response to a question about the staff of the Department for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Farmanian stated, “This department does not have many staff members, and their number does not exceed 17 people. However, the Department is in contact with many Shiites and Sunnis who love AhlulBayt (a.s.) around the world. For example, one of the Pakistani Sunni scholars participating in the international conference of Abu Talib (a.s.) wrote 30 volumes of a book about the faith of Abu Talib (a.s.), and for 4 years, he spoke on Sunni satellite channels about the faith of Abu Talib (a.s.). Some contract staff members are also working with the Department of Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, who receive a small salary. Most of the budget of this department is provided by the donations of supporters and benefactors.”
In response to a question regarding the status of Shiite studies in Israel, he said, “According to our research, there are no chairs of Shia studies in Israel. However, Middle East studies and Islamic studies are taught in 10 universities in the occupied territories. Of course, experts in the field of Shiite studies are active in the security organizations of the Zionist regime. But there is no such library as a library of Shiite studies in Israeli universities. The book “Islamic Studies in Israel” deals in detail with issues related to Islamic and Shiite studies in the occupied territories. There are many researchers on Shiite studies in Israel who are doing research on Shia with funding from various institutions or security organizations of the Zionist regime.”
The deputy for scientific and cultural affairs of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly added, “An observation of the results of this department’s activities in the world is available. However, this observation is not complete and accurate. For example, there is information that indicates that the works of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly have significant readers in the world. The views of WikiShia in different languages are clear. However, it is not clear how much these visits have led to the conversion of the audience to Shia.”
Referring to the status of the translation in the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Farmanian stated, “There is a department called Translation Department in the Assembly, which, during its three decades of activity, has translated about 2,000 volumes of books into different languages. Currently, the translation of 514 books is on the agenda, of which 110 volumes have been completed so far. This number will reach 160 books by the end of this year, and the translation of the remaining books will be completed in the coming years.”
In the end, regarding the status of publishing the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings in the world, he said, “Our strength and power in this regard has been low in the world. Wahhabism has been active for 100 years, and spending a lot of money in this way has attracted many influential people with material promises. However, for the cost Wahhabism has spent, its achievements have been one-thousandth of Shia’s achievements. For example, the population of Wahhabis is currently 50 million in the world. On the other hand, according to estimates, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, 50 million people in the world have been converted to Shia. Another thing that I must say is that although the world’s Jewish population is small, they are focused on economic affairs, and we also need to pay more attention to the economic affairs of Shiites. According to the limited facility and cost that we have had in the field of spreading Shiism in the world, our success in this regard has been remarkable.”