When I attended the International Reverts Conference last month, I received as a gift a truly wonderful and amazing book, "from resolution to revolution - The Message of Ashura: Reflections on Religion, Ethics, Culture, Family, Youth and Citizenship" by Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini.
This book is a compilation of three years of Muharram lectures delivered by Sayed Al-Qazwini in the years 2005-2007. The lectures were designed for youth in the West and repeatedly address themes of challenges in the West, prayer, death, repentance, marriage, parenting, inter-gender relations, and self-reform. The part of the lectures which strictly relate the events around Ashura are not included, but the personalities and events are referenced as examples and guidance in each of the themes.
Each lecture is highly inspirational and readable and only around 10-15 pages. Sayed Al-Qazwini's approach is very uplifting and loving and calls upon the youth to recognize their worth and build self-respect. As he says in the first lecture, "When we respect ourselves, we will consider it beneath our honor to do any wrong actions." He is very empathetic to the struggles faced by all believers and has a way of delivering excellent advice with great gentleness. He properly emphasizes the Merciful and and Forgiving aspects of God without giving undue lightness to the effects of sin. Rather than simply admonish youth for possibly doing wrong things, he teaches the harm and damage to the self caused by sins and encourages the believers to protect themselves and one another from these dangers. He also powerfully illustrates the beauty of worship, good deeds, and building one's relationship with God and Ahlulbayt (as) - he helps fuel appetite and desire for drawing near and communing with God. He uses easily understandable, clear English and only minor and rare typographical errors are present in the text. The resulting book is great for Muslims and non-Muslims of all ages seeking moral guidance.
As I was reading this book, I often could not wait until the next time I could open it again and found myself underlining and starring passages regularly. I am eager to read it a second time. If you can find this book, it is an opportunity to fall in love with Islam again (or for the first time) and get some good direction and motivation for self-improvement. However, I am unfortunately not sure where to purchase this book. It was published in March 2011 by the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County http://www.iecoc.org with layout and design assistance by the Islamic Publishing House http://www.iph.ca, yet neither website currently lists the book for sale. I did find video/audio of some of the lectures, such as these: http://www.alulbayt.com/muh%201428/muharram%201428.htm .
The lectures serve as excellent examples of delivering the message of Ashura in a way that its modern and personal relevance is understood by Western youth. The transformative and uniting power of the lectures also show the importance of believers coming together for education and service for the revival of true Islam in the hearts. Without that internal revolution of our individual hearts, we as a community cannot become ready for the Imam of our Age (as, ajtf), who is awaiting us.