On Friday 10th of November Dr Shomali arrived in the Netherlands for some academic visits and to speak at the Arbaeen procession held in Rotterdam. In the morning, he visited the Islamic University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam and met the Rector, Dr Ahmet Akgunduz, who kindly gave him a copy of his recent publications on Islamic Jurisprudence, and then Dr Ahmet Dundar, who gave him a tour of the University. In the afternoon, he also visited Brill Publishers, well-known for its scholarly publications on Islam, in particular the Encyclopedia of Islam. Sheikh Shomali held useful meetings with both the Chief Executive and the Acquisitions Editor for Middle East and Islamic Studies. Brill will be celebrating its 335th anniversary next year.
Dr Sheikh Shomali also visited Leiden University, the oldest university in Europe and a place where Islam is studied. Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. Dr Shomali was taken around the University by Dr Ahab Bdaiwi who is a lecturer in charge of the programme for Islamic and Arab philosophy. He explained that among its new initiatives the University is planning to offer degrees in Islamic and Arab philosophy.
On Sunday 12th November the Shi‘a Community of the Netherlands organised Arbaeen procession in order to deliver the message of Imam Husayn(a) to the people. The procession was a silent one with no banners except in the Dutch language. The colour of choice for the procession was white rather than the traditional black which could have been confused with the colour of ISIS. The participants of this procession were drawn from different communities and ethnic backgrounds and from different parts of the Netherlands. Their gathering to commemorate the Arbaeen of Imam Husayn(a) was held in one of the squares of the city centre of Rotterdam. The programme started with the recitation of verses from the Qur’an in Dutch and in English with one speech. They also distributed leaflets in Dutch. A large screen hired for the occasion showed lectures about Imam Husayn(a) in English by various scholars such as Dr Chris Hewer and Rev Nadim Nasser. Sheikh Shomali was invited to give a talk in the square in English. (Read Full speech here). He was positively encouraged by the efforts of the Shi‘a and decided to accept the invitation. On Saturday night the Shi‘a of Rotterdam also had a programme for Arbaeen in their centre in which Sheikh Shomali gave a key talk on social wilayah.