Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Joint Quranic Study Circle

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Introduction: Taleem Al Quran Wa Ahlulbayt: TAQWA is a circle
(Halka) of neighbourhood Momineen for a weekly joint study of Quran and

The aim of TAQWA circle to benefit from the best of the best sources of knowledge, the glorious Quran and the Ahlul-bayt, through the study of ahadith of our Holy Prophet(s) and Imams from the renowned book Al-Kafi.

The Prophet has made it clear that receiving Knowledge is from the cradle to the grave. This means we are supposed to be students all our life. It is unfortunate that the concept of student with most of us is until we are in the school / university, while it should be till death. The question is the definition of a student!

The best students not only READ from books but also ponder upon what they read. The most rewarding choice is to be a student of the Book of Allah, the Exalted. This would mean reading and also pondering upon the verses of Quran with reference to the tafaseer (commentaries). In fact a scholarly student not only reads and ponders upon, but also participates in academic discussions. According to experts in the field of education, the most productive education is by way of maximum participation that gives mental and spiritual delight. Participation means contribution, input, part taking,
 and involvement. This is exactly the goal of TAQWA circles.

Imam Mohamed Baqir a.s. said “Mercy of Allah is on the person who revives knowledge.” He was requested to explain the revival of knowledge. He replied “To have DISCUSSIONS with religious and pious men”. (Usul e Kafi: Book 2: Chapter10: Tradition 7)

The Prophet s.a.w.s. said “Get together and advice each other and HOLD DISCUSSIONS. Such discussions refine your hearts. Hearts become rusted like swords and their refinement lies in ACADEMIC AND RELIGIOUS DISCUSSIONS.” (Usul e Kafi : 2: 10: 8)

The members committed to this program will, InshaAllah, feel elevated in knowledge and wisdom as time passes by.


Program: Weekly sessions of joint study of Quran and Al-Kafi the book of
Ahadith of fourteen masoomeen.  

Start: A TAQWA Circle can be started by a Mosque, Imambargah, or by any individual as a host, based on this structure and the following format. The
maxim number of participants in a circle is advised not to be more than 20, so that a session can be completed in 2 hours. It is advised to create a second
circles once the number crosses to 30 participants. In fact a circle (halqa) can also be just the members of a family at home.

Members: The members of the Circle will be Muslims from any sect as long as they recognize the Shia Faith as one of the sects of Islam. The Circle / Halqa can be exclusively of men, or of women, or mixed, provided the women participants are in Hijab and be seated separately. If there are a substantial number of women, they may form a separate circle. The Chairpersons and Presenters may be either men or women.
Venue:  The sessions should preferably be held in the Mosque or Imam-Bargah to avail the benefit of spiritual atmosphere, or at the homes depending upon the convenience of the members. It can also be rotated between the Mosque / Imam-Bargah and the houses. There may be more than one circle, with one in each neighborhood for the convenience of participants.
Alim: It is recommended to invite an Alim failing which, an Arabic Expert or a Senior Zakir from the neighborhood to attend the sessions and share his knowledge, if the members so desire. Other wise the tafaseer (commentaries)  provided by great ulma should be made good.

The Programmer: The members / host will also decide one of the members to
be the Programmer who will prepare a email-group  and inform the venue, day,
the names of Chairperson and Opener of  the coming session one week in


Format of Joint Study

SEATING: The gathering will be seated in the shape of a circle (halaka)  on the floor, or on the furniture arranged in a manner that the participants can see each other, especially the Presenter.

CHAIR PERSON: It is recommended to encourage every member to be the Chairperson in turn. The first duty of the Chair Person is to start the session in time and conclude in the prescribed time. 
The chair person is expected to be just and friendly, remind the Opener and other members whenever they go out of the way of the verses under study, should very modestly disallow a. questions irrelevant to the verses of the day, b. disallow questions over questions and c. strictly disallow challenges, controversial issues or lengthy arguments, so as to conclude the session with positive understanding and in time.  

OPENER (Presenter): The 
Chairperson will be the Opener (Presenter) for
the next session. It is recommended to encourage every member to be the opener in turn to motivate specially the youth to feel the pleasure and spiritual joy to ponder upon the Holy Quran and Ahadith and also develop communication skills that may create future Zakireen from among the members. He is expected to devote enough time to study a number of Tafaseer and prepare notes for a productive presentation of 40 minutes. Preparation of notes or power points is the first requirement but the presentation with eye contact (men to men and women to women) is an effective communication and for this the Opener is expected to rehearse a few times. 
The Chairperson is also a stand-by Opener to present the Tafseer in the unforeseen absence of the Opener. Therefore the Chairperson is also expected to come prepared as a substitute to the Opener. 


PROGRAM: The sessions shall be once a week on the days, place and time as per the decision by the Programmer according to the convenience of the majority of the members.  The day or the time may change not to clash with the the dates of  Idds, Viladaths and Sahadaths as per the majority convenience. There shall be no sessions during the first 12 days of Moharram and the sessions during Ramadam are a MUST because of the attachment between Ramadan and the Quran. Of course the timings cannot be during the evenings unless the Iftari is arranged. 

PORTION: The first three weeks of every month (of lunar calendar) will be the study of Quran and the last week shall be Al-Kafi. The portion per session shall be in the order of the Quran letting the Opener to decide the number of verses he could cover with in the restricted time of 40 minutes. The portion from Al-Kafi per session shall be the number of Ahadith the respective Opener finds it possible to cover with in 40 minutes, since the length of Ahadith differ from two lines each to two or more pages.  

FIRST PHASE: The Chairperson will draw the attention of the gathering by announcing for a Salawath / Darood on the prophet s.a.w.s . He will then start the session with the recitation of Sura e Fateha in Arabic and its translation in the language of the choice of the participants. He will introduce and welcome the guests and visitors, if any, at the beginning of the session. Then he will request the Opener to start his presentation (tafseer). Duration = 5 minutes.
SECOND PHASE: is the PRESENTATION by the Opener who can be also referred as Presenter.  He will recite the verses the Quran he is going to present, in Arabic with translation followed by the presentation of his findings, strictly relevant to the verses recited and preferably with reference to the Commentaries (Tafaseer) and the Ahadith (Traditions). In the case of the Ahadith of Al-Kafi, he presents the translation and his findings. Duration = 40 minutes.

THIRD PHASE: is the QUESTION TIME: Questions are very important as per our sixth Imam who said, “Verily this knowledge (of religion) is under a lock, the keys of which are questions.” (Kafi: 2: 9:3)
In another Hadith he said, “People indeed perish because they do not ask questions.” (Kafi: 2: 9; 2) 
Each member starting from the right side of the Opener is allowed to ask the Opener one question strictly relevant to the presentation of the Opener. The Opener is strictly advised not to answer questions that he is not certain about the answer. In the absence of an Alim , the Programmer will make note of the questions not answered by the Opener or not answered to the satisfaction, enquire the answers from the Ulam of his choice (in person, on phone or by email) and submit it in the next session. Duration = 15 minutes.

FOURTH PHASE: is of the INDIVIDUAL’S FINDINGS:  Every member starting from the right side of the Opener may present the findings for not more than 3 minutes each, strictly relevant to the verses / ahadith of the day and avoid repetition of the findings presented by the Opener or the other participants. Of course the Opener bears the maximum responsibility to research for hours in preparing the presentation and the Chair Person also needs to be well prepared to be the opener in absence of the Opener while the other participants should also come well prepared so as not to defeat the aim of the TWAQA Circle (Halqa) to gain maximum knowledge to decorate our lifes with TAQWA in its true meaning. The individual findings should be a kind of  pool for the day’s knowledge. Every member is highly recommended to come with the note book as ‘Quran Note Book’ with questions and notes prepared and as well take down notes of the power points from others.
Duration = 20 minutes.

FIFTH PHASE: The Alim / Arabic Expert or the Senior Zakir if present will correct the mistakes by others in most polite manner with out discouraging, answer the unanswered questions, and present only the important parts of Tafseer missed by the Opener. Duration = 15 minutes. 

SIXTH PHASE: is the SUM UP: The Chairperson will sum up all the presentations, submit his findings and thank the participants followed with the
Duration = 10 minutes. 

SEVENTH PHASE: The Programmer will announce the name of  Chairperson and the Opener for the next session and also share matters relevant to the Circle. The session shall be concluded with the recitation of the last verse of sura e Baqra (in Arabic with translation) as the Dua for the day. = 5 minutes. 

TOTAL DURATION = 1 hour 50 minutes  

TOTAL DURATION in absence of an Alim = 1 hour 35 minutes  

The above system of study with a research approach is based on the following references:

1.     “Do they not then meditate on the Quran?” (Q.4: 82)
2.     “Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Quran, or are their hearts locked up by them?” (Q.47: 24)
3.     “But we have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember; then is there any that will receive admonition?” (This verse is repeated four times in Sura-e-Qamar)


1.     Imam Zainul Abideen a.s. said, “The verses of the Holy Quran are treasures. Whenever these treasures are opened, it is advisable for you to have a good look on the contents.”


1. It should be clear that no one is the founder of the idea of Taqwa Circles. It is a mix of the similar program run by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Utah, USA, and the Jafria Association in Bahrain when one of our members visited these places during the 1980s.

2. A TAQWA Halaqa (Circle) could be just the members of one family at home or a group of many momineen. They may modify the above recommended format to a reasonable extend for their convince as long as they hold tight the Robe of Quran and of Ahlulbayt.
3. Every presentation other than quoting from the Ahadith or the tafaseer must  sincerely conclude with the words "Allahu A'lam" meaning: I've said something, but only Allah(swt) knows the right.

4. In most of the places weekly tafseer is presented by an Alim where in the Alim is the speaker and the rest are the audience (licensers) while the TAQWA Circles invite the Alim to be the TEACHER and we his students. If the invited Alim appreciates and encourages the presentations by the members especially by devoted youths, some of them are likely to become the future Alim or at least a Zakir. And this has virtually happened in the circles in Hyderabad. Two of its senior members became Zakireen. One of them was invited to USA and covered the first ten majalis of Moharram at the Houza at Madiena during 1995. Two of the young members are already Ulma after returning from Qum, and two other are now in Qum, while similar program running in Ottawa, Canada, inspired a member who studied for six years in Qum and is Mashallah running Islamic classes in the University of Ottawa.

5. The members specially the youth getting the opportunity to Chair / Present a few times will develop leadership and communication skills and boost their confidence to Chair or be a good Speaker in their professional functions that may Inshallah promote their prospects.

6. Members interested to improve social relations may stay back for half an hour after the session as if they are in a club of Taqwa. In fact the Circles may plan picnics, camps and traveling together for vacations, Haj and Ziaraths.

7. A web site is hopefully to be developed to present the information of Circles at various places world over, along with the up date of the weekly programs running at each circle, make available commentaries (tafasir), answer the questions unanswered during the sessions and also make available the profile of members agreeable to be known to others for various possible benefits such as Social, Processional, Economical, Cultural and so on: all under the umbrella of TAQWA in the sense of its meaning and in the name of the organization.

For further information contact Agha Mohamed Hussain aghainfo@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Patience the Road to Success

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Patience the Road to Success

"O you who believe! be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful. "(Holy Quran. 3:200)

Patience is the sine qua non of remaining faithful and following righteous ways. It's the life  blood of faith and source of energy and a necessary condition for striving ones on the long path of life hoping success and reaching destination.
For some the patience is passive bearing of unpleasant and torturous circumstances. This view of patience favors inaction and passivity against the onslaught of corruption and exploitation. Those having this view by being patient mean silently bearing the persecution of the unjust one. They think any kind of struggle or striving is against patience and thus they surrender before what they think is their destiny. Those who have submitted before persecution or exploitation are disliked by holy Quran. If they do not have strength to resist , they should migrate but never accept subjugation as their destiny: "When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: "In what (plight) Were ye?" They reply: "Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth." They say: "Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (From evil)?" Such men will find their abode in Hell,- What an evil refuge! - . Except the feeble among men, and the women, and the children, who are unable to devise a plan and are not shown a way. "(Holy Quran, 4:97-98)

On the other hand patience in Islam is struggle and striving against the corruption, tyranny and decadence. It's onward movement towards a higher goal-the goal of achieving what is just and right. It's active and full of life. It's not hopeless submission before obstacles or impediments but it's a perpetual and incessant progress towards perfection. It's overcoming the internal and external hurdles. It means to stand up against all obstacles in the way and to overcome them with enthusiasm and determination. The traditions from infallibles say "Patience out of faith is like a head to a body." The head has a very active role to play. It controls the whole functioning of nervous system, in the same way patience, controls and determines the actions of a Muslim.The great patience demonstrated by early Muslims in the early period of Islam made later success of Islam possible. Had they surrendered and given up, the message of Islam would not have seen the ultimate victory. In the words of Ayatullah Sayed Ali Khamenei : " patience may be defined as a means of achieving
perfection, excellence, and exaltedness, where man endeavours and makes sincere efforts for the ultimate goal of creation, to become a real servant of Allah. His personality ultimately becomes manifestation of all the hidden Potential of human talents and characteristics. In other words achieving the status of a perfect human being...Patience means resistance against all three types of barriers, and providing moral courage and necessary momentum for the traveller to continue his forward journey on the road of perfection. It offers resistance against those desires and tendencies which discourage man
from performing compulsory obligations, resists the desires for indulging in sinful forbidden acts, and provides zeal and strength to be able to tolerate the unforeseen and unhappy occurrences, which threaten to break his determination."
The success comes with patience only, without patience we cannot see success. Imam Ali(AS), the Commander of the faithful, says
"A steadfast patient person would never be denied success, however it may materialise after a long time." (Nahj-ul-Balagha)
And he also says in another quotation:
"Whoever mounts the horse of patience would definitely find his path to the field of
victory." (Nahj-ul-Balagha) In the battle of Siffin he inspires his followers to excercise patience to receive victory : "Make your supports upon righteousness and patience (stability); because it is only after patience (stability) that victory shall be bestowed upon you"  Patience kills hopelessness and despair, while lack of it will result in dispair in life. Imam Sadiq(AS) says "Any one who has not prepared for himself logistics of patience to meet every tragedy will find himself in a state of despair and helplessness". The holy Quran promises assistance and victory for the patient ones. Despite being less in number and lacking in means the patient ones will overcome:""If there are twenty patient (steadfast) ones among you, they will overcome two hundred (of the infidels) and if there are a hundred (such ones), they will overcome a thousands" (holy Quran,8:65)"
Let's recite the prayer from holy Quran before we end our discussion :
"Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance, make our foothold sure and give us help against the disbelieving folk. " (holy Quran,2:250)

Access to Education

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Access to Education

The education is one of the most indispensable issue for all social reformers and policy makers. No break through is possible without educating the man and making him capable of acquiring basic cognitive and non cognitive skills necessary to think logically. The objective of school education is to equip people with the range of competencies including both cognitive and non-cognitive skills, knowledge and attitudes which are necessary to lead productive, fulfilling lives fully integrated into their societies and communities. The lack of education is a global challenge which is a failure to master the many distinct competencies-decoding, cognitive skills, factual information, socialization which is necessary to mingle with society and take advantage of available opportunities. So in this context the basic schooling is a means to acquiring the skills and competencies that contribute to a fuller, more humane, and productive human existence and remedying a lack of education implies that each individual has sufficient exposure to learning opportunities to achieve mastery of the basic competencies needed in her society and economy.  A report by World Bank on Education in  Middle East/North Africa counts the benefits of education in the words:  "Education is a powerful force that can speed up economic growth, improve income distribution, facilitate social mobility, and reduce poverty. It can also improve the quality of life for citizens by contributing to longer life expectancy, lower fertility and infant mortality rates, and a more cohesive national identity"
Lets have a brief overview of scenario of education at global level particularly in developing countries where access to education is a serious issue, as we advance we'll discuss the scenario in Muslim countries. Official data on enrollment rates in primary schooling show a varying magnitude of “out of school” children across countries and regions of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa lags all other regions of the world with only 56 percent of primary school-aged children enrolled in school.
South Asia and the Middle East/North Africa also have well less than 100 percent net enrollment
ratios. In Middle East/North Africa the net enrollment is around 84% while that for South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, and East Europe is 83, 93, 97,88 per cent respectively. After enrollment comes the issue of persistence. The available data show a significant drop out rates. In Middle East and South Asia deficit from universal grade 5 completion due to "drop out " and deficit from universal grade 9 completion due to "drop out "is 21 %, 16 % and 57% , 39% respectively.
The completion of primary schooling or higher in itself, however, does not guarantee that
a child has mastered the needed skills and competencies. There is tremendous gap with respect to  attainment levels between developed and developing countries. In developing countries the levels of learning achievement are strikingly low.  In most developing countries relative to the
curriculum objectives learning achievement is low. The reasons for low attainment are lack of infrastructure, lack of basic instructional material and unavailability of adequately trained and qualified teachers.
(For detailed information please refer to "Towards A New Consensus for Addressing the Global Challenge of the Lack of Education", Lant Pritchett ,Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)

A World Bank report on Middle East and North Africa(MENA) region shows that the region invested about 5 percent of GDP and 20 percent of government budgets in education over the past
40 years, and made tremendous gains as a result. Currently, most children benefit from compulsory schooling; quite a few have opportunities to continue their formal education; and learning outcomes are much better than they were before. The region also saw significant improvements in fertility and infant mortality rates as well as in life expectancy, as education spread widely among the population. Despite these improvements, however:
 The region has produced fewer educational outcomes than many competitors, as measured by years of educational attainment in the adult population. The educational achievements are compromised in
part by high dropout rates, and by relatively low scores on international tests. Literacy rates remain low and the education systems produce more graduates in humanities than in science.
 The region has not made the best use of its accumulated human capital. Unemployment is particularly high among graduates, and a large segment of the educated labor force is employed by governments.
Not surprisingly, the link between human capital accumulation and economic growth, income distribution, and poverty reduction in the region is weak.
 The education systems of the region are not yet fully equipped to produce graduates with the skills and expertise necessary to compete in a world where knowledge is essential to making progress.

In recent years there is good progress in attaining education MENA. Most of MENA countries have enshrined in their constitutions the right to education. The Islamic Republic of Iran has two articles on education:

Article 3. The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has the duty of directing all its resources to the
 following goals:… (3) free education and physical training for everyone at all levels, and the facilitation and
expansion of higher education.
Article 30. The government must provide all citizens with free education up to secondary school, and must
expand free higher education to the extent required by the country for attaining self-sufficiency.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the top nations making tremendous progress in expanding education. Iran also comes on the top in university students adopting engineering subjects(around 38%) in whole MENA region.

For more information please refer to ""The Road Not Traveled Education Reform in the Middle East and North Africa"  by World Bank.

The scene of education among Muslims in South Asia which has the largest Muslim  population concentration is really abysmal. For example in India which is house to second largest Muslim population a report revealed that 65 percent of Muslims are living below the poverty line( i.e., whose income is below Rs.1000/- per month) The literacy rate among Muslim Minority is 18%.The lowest literacy rate is observed among Muslim women and is only 8%. In South India which is hub of IT industry I saw the similar picture. In Bangalore I used to go office by taxi. Often the taxi drivers used to be Muslim. I would ask them where they belonged to, they would say to Bangalore. I would take a sigh that people like me have come from thousands of KM far to take advantage of Bangalore's IT boom, and the local Muslim population lacks in proper education to receive any benefits. Sadly I noticed the same waywardness among the local Muslim youths. The most they would think of would be to take a job in a call center. The condition is worse in Hyderabad and Lucknow which have large pockets of Muslim and particularly Shia population. Encouragingly in both of these cities sincere organizations are working toi uplift educational status of shia community. In Hyderabad Imam Zamana Mission is running schools which targets shias living below poverty line and in Lucknow Unity Mission School is providing free education facilities to very poor students.
Given the so much emphasis of Prophetic traditions and Hadiths from Ahlul Bayt(AS) on attaining education ,the condition of Muslims is really sorry. We'll end our discussion with quoting of some traditions from holy Prophet(S) and his chaste Ahlul Bayt(AS):
‘Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim. Let it be known that Allah loves those who seek knowledge."- Holy Prophet(S)
"Seeking knowledge is obligatory." -abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.)
"If only people knew how much reward there is for seeking knowledge, they would have sought it even if they would have had to shed their blood for it or dive in large waves. Allah the Blessed and Most High revealed to Daniel saying, ‘The most hated among my creatures are the ignorant ones who disrespect the scholars and do not follow them. The Most beloved to Me in My servants are the pious ones who work hard to become entitled for greater rewards, who always stay close to the scholars, follow the fore-bearing people and accept (the advise of) people of wisdom."-- Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn (a.s.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ramadan : The Spring Season of Hearts

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Ramadan : The Spring Season of Hearts

"O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil). "(2:183)

The blessed month of mercy and forgiveness is once again back in our life. The purpose of this great month and fasting which is prescribed in it is to make us guard against evil and receive guidance from Allah. This glorious month is the period when holy Quran was revealed. Fasting makes our hearts pliant and soft which become capable to receive the guidance. As the different seasons have different effects on the fertility of the soil, so is case of our souls. We see that soil become most fertile and most productive in the spring season. The water which falls from the sky revive the earth and make it fertile. The spring time is the best time to sow seeds as due to greater fertility and producing capacity of earth we'll get good results. Likewise our hearts show different moods in different periods of a year. Some times we feel dead from inside, no word of guidance however may be very wise seem to affect us. Our hearts simply do not incline to listening truth. Sometimes we perceive a little softness and we response to guidance. But the period of holy month of Ramadan in the spring time of our hearts, we incline more towards Our Creator, and response best to guidance. The holy Quran compares the condition of hearts to that of rocks: "Then your hearts hardened after that, so that they were like rocks, rather worse in hardness; and surely there are some rocks from which streams burst forth, and surely there are some of them which split asunder so water issues out of them, and surely there are some of them which fall down for fear of Allah, and Allah is not at all heedless of what you do. "(Holy Quran, 2:74) The human heart which is capable of receiving divine guidance sometimes become header than rocks that even rocks shake in the fear of Allah but sometimes human heart become harder. The holy month of Ramadan creates an environment of spirituality in which even the most deviated ones return to remembrance of Allah and their hearts become pliant to listening to few words of guidance.

This great month is one of the roads to Allah. Man the weary traveler when treads on this road finds peace and tranquility and is drawn near to His Creator. The month revives his soul and reconnects him with His Maker Lord. Imam Sajjad beautifully recites in Sahifa Sajjadia:

"And praise belongs to God who
showed favour to us through His religion,
singled us out for His creed,
and directed us onto the roads of His beneficence,
in order that through His kindness we might travel upon them
to His good pleasure,
a praise which He will accept from us
and through which He will be pleased with us!

And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month,
the month of Ramadan,
the month of fasting,
the month of submission,
the month of purity,
the month of putting to test,
the month of standing in prayer,
in which the Qur'an was sent down as guidance to the people,
and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!
The holy Quran says "And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones (2:45)" According to several traditions the patience in this verse refers to fasting. In this way the fasting becomes a medium to receive His assistance. Because fasting purifies from inside and creates piety. The Holy Prophet (s) says "If people understood what good there was in the month of Ramadhan, they would have liked that it last for a year."
The guidance and peity is core of fasting and if we are failing in this then we are deserving for this statement of Imam Ali(AS) :"Many persons get nothing out of their fasts but hunger and thirst, many more get nothing out of their night prayers but exertions and sleepless nights. "
Definitely the blessings of this month exceed our understandings and the utmost of them is revival of souls to receive guidance.

May Allah make us receive the blessings of this great month and guide us on the right path!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Karbala: A Revolution of Hearts and Minds

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

The event of Karbala always evokes strong emotions and deep intellectual thoughts which touch and affect the whole existence of those who seek to find a path through it. But the significance of this event goes much beyond the mere unveiling of the corruption and deviations perpetrated by Banu Umayya. Karbala changed the course of history and continues to inspire all truth-seeking revolutionaries.
Heedlessness makes man worse than animals. It deprives him of his biggest gift given by Allah – the faculty of intellect. The Holy Qur'an regards the heedless people as worse than animals and declares that the hell is the destiny of such people:

"And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones." (7:179)

Karbala killed the heedlessness of the masses. Water can bring back an unconscious man into consciousness, but to awaken a heedless community from the deep slumber of ignorance, blood is required. The blood of Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) affected the collective consciousness of a sleeping Ummah and caused tremors which shook the very foundations of the Umayyad regime and led to their complete uprooting in the period which followed.

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: "Surely there exists in the hearts of the believers, with respect to the martyrdom of Hussain, a heat that never subsides."
This heat of faith and awakening of consciousness has led to innumerable revolutions in human history, both in individual lives and in society as a whole. The message of Imam Hussain still resonates in the hearts of truth seekers. It inspires leaders to fulfill their obligations with respect to opposing evil and protecting goodness. It enjoins all those who heed the call of truth to rise against the unjust powers and confront evil:

"O people! Verily the Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever observes a sovereign legalizing what God has made unlawful, violating the covenant of God, opposing the Sunnah of the Messenger of God, and treating the creatures of God sinfully and oppressively, and does not oppose him with his speech and action, God has a right to bring him to the same fate as that of the tyrant.' Indeed, these people (i.e. Yazid and the Umayyads) have committed themselves to the following of Satan and abandoned obedience to God. They have given currency to corruption, abolished the Islamic laws, plundered the public treasury, and made lawful what God has forbidden and unlawful what God has permitted. And I, of all people, have a greater right to act [in accordance with the Prophet's exhortation]."

"Indeed, I have not risen up to do mischief, neither as an adventurer, nor to cause corruption and tyranny. I have risen up solely to seek the reform of the Ummah of my grandfather. I want to enjoin what is good and stop what is wrong, and (in this) I follow the conduct of my grandfather and my father Ali ibn Abi Talib."
 "Life under tyranny is not worthy of man, unless the people rise in an attempt to restore the higher values. Don't you see that what is true and right is not acted upon, and what is false and wrong is not forbidden? In such a situation, the man of faith yearns for the meeting with his Lord. Indeed, (in such conditions) to me death is happiness, and life under the yoke of tyrants is disgrace."

Imam Khomeini, who acknowledged that the Islamic Revolution had been possible because of Karbala, instructed on the observance of Muharram:

"Let the mourning congregations for the Master of the Oppressed and the Lord of the Free – congregations in which wisdom and intellect overcome ignorance, justice overpowers cruelty and oppression, trust rules out treason, and Islamic rule supersedes the rule of tyranny – be held with grandeur, eminence, and brilliance. And let the blood-smeared banners of Ashura be hoisted to mark the dawn of the day where the oppressed avenge the oppressor. Our sons and youth must not think that it is a matter of weeping only or that we are a weeping nation – this is what others want to brainwash you into believing and then repeating, because they fear those tears. They fear them because they are tears for the oppressed and a cry against the oppressor, and these processions stand up against oppression. These lamentation processions are a symbol of our victory; hold mourning congregations throughout, and let speakers read their elegies, and let people cry. Speakers must not condense elegies into a few words; speak at length about the tragedies of the Ahlul Bayt, as was the case before, and read elegies, poems, and narrations. The excellences of the Holy Progeny and the tortures inflicted on them must be rendered with such sincerity and passion that the people get ready for field action. They ought to know that our Infallible Imams (as) devoted their lives to promoting Islam."

But the question arises: why do many of the communities who observe mourning so religiously still remain plunged in ignorance and heedlessness? Why does the warmth generated after mourning on the immortal Chief of Martyrs not lead to internal revolutions in all the communities equally? Why do the tears not wash the hardened blots of sins from the hearts of the mourners?

One reason for this ineffectiveness of mourning is the lack of purity and sincerity in some of the people to such an extent hat even tears shed in Imam Hussain's remembrance do not awaken their souls. The other reason could be in the veil of ignorance put before eyes in the form of an overemphasis on rituals which have caused separation and deviation from the real message and goals of Karbala and have made the people oblivious of the true purpose of Karbala. Despite their importance, these rituals have taken center stage, and the true message of Karbala has been eclipsed.

The spirit and revolution of Karbala, like all teachings of Islam, require a pure heart and a sincere truth seeking soul to affect. Karbala can bring about revolution in our lives only if we observe it along with all other teachings of Islam.

May Allah make our souls adapt to the teachings of Karbala, allowing it to bring a revolutionary change in our lives, eliminate ignorance, illuminate us, and lead us to salvation in both worlds.

The Martyr Of Karbala: His Goals and Message, Our Responsibilities

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

The Martyr Of Karbala: His Goals and Message, Our Responsibilities

Human history may be regarded as a series of crises and revolutions, its most important stages written with the blood of martyrs. In the history of Islam, al Husain ibn 'Ali, the martyr of Karbala, wrote one of the most brilliant chapters; a chapter which still and after more than thir¬teen centuries, echoes in the minds and hearts of Muslims everywhere

The martyrdom of Husain(AS) is of great significance in Islamic history. This is because of the man himself; his character, piety, valour, magnanimity, patience, his lofty goals and message for all of us, and his relation¬ship to the Prophet Muhammad(SAW), and the latter's love for him. It is further¬more of great significance because of what this martyrdom itself meant for the religion of Islam in exposing the wrong and upholding the right through the sharp contrast between him and his followers on the one hand and his antagonists on the other. He rejected the rule of a man who was generally agreed not to have been fit to rule. In this sense he was one of the greatest revolutionaries of all times.

The purpose of this brief write up is to discuss the lofty goals and aims of Imam Husain(AS)’s martyrdom in Karbala and his message for all of us. We intend to discuss questions like : was his great sacrifice necessary in the wake of circumstances and conditions prevalent in the contemporary Islamic world? What were the goals and aims of his martyrdom? Is the significance of his martyrdom confined to the times when it occurred or its significance is for all the times to come? What is message of his martyrdom for us in this age? And most importantly what are our responsibilities with regard to his lofty goals and martyrdom? Have we to be just passive mourners and lamenters? Or we have some higher responsibilities in this wake?

The martyrdom of Imam Husain ibn 'Ali (AS) and his companions in Karbala' proved to be the beginning of the downfall of the Banu Umayyads dynasty which had usurped the Islamic khilafah by deceit, repression, and corruption of the Muslim community. Though the Imam (AS) was martyred with his family and companions, and apparently his murderers seemed to emerge winners from the conflict, it was the martyr of Karbala' who was the real victor. The mourning ceremonies that have been held through the last hundreds of years to commemorate this most significant event in the history of Islam generally known as Muharram ceremonies, held during the month of Muharram in remembrance of the 'Ashura' movement, are a witness that Yazid(L) with all his worldly might has disgrace and failure as his destiny and Imam Husain ibn Ali(AS) emerged a true victor who faced intimidation, brutalities and sufferings but could not bowed down and showed the utmost steadfastness in Allah’s way. This incident has its background whose elaborate details have been given by Muslim historians. Briefly, it may be said that Imam Husain's revolt, staged against the tyranny, injustice, and repression of the regime and torture and execution of pious Muslims, which violated the Islamic concept of a just Islamic polity and society, was to uphold the ideals and values of Islam propounded in the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet (S), to rescue the higher human values, moral, social, political and spiritual, and to preserve the true spirit of Islam. It was basically aimed by the martyred Imam (AS)to rescue Islam as the message of the last Prophet, a message that had to endure, not only in the hearts and spirits of saints but on the plane of society, and he achieved his purpose most completely. The episode of Karbala' became the everlasting stage on which, more than anything else, the great spirit of an Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt was put for eternal display, not in mere words or traditions recorded in books, but against the background of the greatest tragedy in human history and scenes of love and loyalty, bravery and sacrifice, nobility and high spirituality, blood and battle, and also those of treachery and betrayal, human abasement and wretchedness, perversity and depravity. Due to his refusal to compromise with godlessness and tyranny, the Imam has been remembered as the very embodiment of tawhid, of la ilaha illallah, by all great Islamic mystics, thinkers, writers and poets.

The statement of Imam(AS) delineates his purpose for refusing the allegiance to Yazid(L):

Indeed, I have not risen up to do mischief, neither as an adventurer, nor to cause corruption and tyranny. I have risen up solely to seek the reform of the Ummah of my grandfather (S). I want to command what is good and stop what is wrong, and (in this) I follow the conduct of my grandfather and my father, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib.”

In a letter that he wrote to the people of Kufah, in a short sentence he outlines the Islamic concept of a worthy ruler:

By my life, the leader is one who acts in accordance with the Scripture, upholds justice in society, conducts its affairs according to what is righteous, and dedicates his self to God.

Addressing Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi and his troops, who had been dispatched by 'Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the infamous governor of Kufah, to intercept the Imam's caravan on the way and to stop him from entering Kufah, Imam Husain (AS)quotes this tradition of the Prophet (s), which states the duty of Muslims vis-a-vis corrupt and un-lslamic rulers:

O people! Verily the Messenger of Allah (s) said: "Whoever observes a sovereign legalizing what God has made unlawful, violating the covenant of God, opposing the Sunnah of the Messenger of God, and treating the creatures of God sinfully and oppressively, and does not oppose him with his speech and action, God has a right to bring him to the same fate as that of the tyrant." Indeed, these people (i.e. Yazid and the ruling Umayyads) have committed themselves to the following of Satan, and abandoned obedience to God. They have given currency to corruption and abolished the Islamic laws, plundering the public treasury, making lawful what God has forbidden and forbidding what God has permitted. And I, of all people, have a greater right to act [in accordance with the Prophet's exhortation]”.

On reaching Karbala', a point where they had been forced to discontinue their journey and to disembark on the orders of Ibn Ziyad, the Imam stood up to address his companions. In that sermon “he declares that life under tyranny is not worthy of man, unless the people rise in an attempt to restore the higher values.Don't you see that what is true and right is not acted upon and what is false and wrong is not forbidden? In such a situation, the man of faith yearns for the meeting with his Lord. Indeed, (in such conditions) to me death is happiness, and life under the yoke of tyrants is disgrace.”

Giving the details of Imam Husain's refusal to accept a tyrannical and unjust ruler, starting from his journey from Madinah to Makkah and afterwards through its various stages until the Imam reached Karbala', the scene of his battle and martyrdom, historians refers to verses which are said to have been recited by the Imam on the night of the 10th of Muharram (the day of 'Ashura'):

O Time (dahr), fie on you of a friend.
How many are those you claim at the morn and eventide.
Many a friend, and many a one seeking revenge,
Yet Time is not satisfied with a substitute or proxy.
Truly judgement belongs to the Glorious One;
And every living soul takes the path [of death].

The above statements of Imam(AS) distinctly makes clear his purpose and motive behind the refusal of allegiance and uprising. The basic cause was the reformation of Muslim ummah which has been plagued by the evil of Banu Ummayds. The unjust and corrupt rulers of Banu Ummayd have distorted the message of Islam, in fact they were hypocrites who did not have faith in divine revelation and prophethood. The common Muslim ummah though despite being agonized by Banu Ummayds’ injustice done to them every day and their open opposition and violation of Islamic teachings, was still confused. This was a time which necessitated an open revolt against these hypocrites who have taken the garb of Muslims to deceive common people and to destroy Islam itself. Muawiya being very shrewd and clever did never manifest his true beliefs before the people, lest they should revolt, but his son Yazid , drunk in the wine of tyrannical power, openly refuted the prophethood and divine revelation. If Imam(AS) had not come forward and refused the allegiance to such a satanic regime , the whole Islam would have been destroyed.

It is important to note that the Imam's address to Time inspired a number of Muslim thinkers to propound a new revolutionary concept of Time with reference to the Qur'anic verses in the Surat al-'Asr. The Imam did not actually vilify time, but he condemned the time-servers. While addressing Time, Imam Husain (AS)indicated that man is not a time-server but time is at the service of man. He proved by his example that man has the power to turn the tide of time and he actually did it.

When falsehood is prevailing over the truth and when forbidding evil and bidding what is right is not practiced, it’s the time for a righteous one to stand up to reform the society. The Imam(AS)’s purpose is loud and clear from his so eloquent sermons.
We’ll return to this discussion for further extending it to our present context.

The Karbala in Our Context

In such conditions how can any discourse about the great struggle of al Husain ibn `Ali (AS) be unaccompanied with a discussion of the lamentable condition of the Muslim Ummah? Is it not the height of callousness and even hypocrisy to pass by in silence the aims and ideals for which he took a stand against the regime of Yazid and sacrificed everything? Is it not the very extreme of injustice to deprive the Muslim children and adults of the great potential of the majalis which are held in the memory of al Imam al Husain (AS)?
Is it right not to use the great devotion of the Muslim masses to the Ahl al Bayt (AS) and their great enthusiasm and zeal during the months of Muharram and Safar a time when the hearts are softened by the stupendous tragedy of Karbala' to receive the teachings of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives with al-Imam al Husain to inform and educate our children and adults about the ahkam of the Shari’ah and the akhlaq of the Ahl al Bayt (AS)? The Shiites have admired `Ali and his sons (AS), their leaders and guides, for centuries, and wept over accounts of their sufferings. Is it not time that we should start following them in deed, in all walks of our life? After all they are our Imams, our leaders and our teachers, who underwent those sufferings and hardships in order to instruct us and guide us on the Straight Path of Allah? Should we not question our sincerity if we persist in our refusal to be benefited by their efforts to improve our lot, to purify our souls and to guide our intellects?
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Surely, there exists in the hearts of the Mu'mineen, with respect to the martyrdom of Husain (A.S.), a heat that never subsides.
How is that warmth utilized which is generated in the hearts of believers? Do our zakirs and khatibs use the occasion to narrate the purpose of this greatest sacrifice of humanity? Do our youths after attending the majalis feel any transformation in their lives? There are many such questions which need to addressed, but sadly the present state of our majalis does not seem to confirm the goals and aims of Imam Husain(AS)’s martyrdom.
The majlis should inform and instruct. It should inspire and enlighten. Like al Husain ibn 'Ali (AS), his zakir, who occupies the minbar of the Ahl al Bayt (AS), should aim at resurrecting the spirit of Islam and the message of the Qur'an. The majlis should instruct the people in the usul and the ahkam of the Shari’ah and the akhlaq of the Imams (AS). If the majalis of Imam Husain (AS) do not help our youths and adults to understand Islam profoundly, who else can stop them from falling into the clutches of deviate philosophical schools and from being swept away by the tide of the pagan Western culture? Would it not be more beneficial to discuss the great merits of the Ahl al Bayt (AS) as ideal human beings and ideal teachers of mankind, instead of discussing them as metaphysical entities to be revered but not to be obeyed, to be glorified but not to be emulated, to be invoked for assistance in worldly needs and affairs and to be ignored in vital matters of our duties, obligations, and responsibilities as Muslims?
Only when our majalis become classes. for dissemination of the teachings of the Ahl al Bayt (AS) which lie buried in hadith texts, only when our majalis become platforms of Muslim unity instead of being instruments of division and disunity, only when our majalis and manabir become the seats of the duty of al amr bil ma`ruf wa al nahy `an al munkar, only when the Qur'an is made again the book of our life and the light of our majalis, only then can it be said that our majalis and manabir are doing justice to al Imam al Husain (AS) and to the people whom the majalis were originally instituted to nourish spiritually, morally, and intellectually.

One of The Sermons of Imam Husain ibn ‘Ali (AS)

The following sermon of al Husain ibn 'Ali (AS) delivered during Mu'awiyah's reign at the time of Hajj in a gathering of eminent personalities of the period, not only shows the kind of issues that should be discussed during Hajj, but also is a good guideline for sermons which are delivered in majalis during Muharram and Safar. The sermon elaborates the responsibilities of scholars and common masses, if the people ignore their responsibilities pertaining to bidding good and forbidding evil or reformation of community, then as a result the seat of power is grabbed by unjust and tyrant authorities and they commit every act of injustice :

O people! Take a lesson from God's warning to His friends through His censure on the rabbis, when He says:

Why do the bishops and rabbis not forbid them to utter sin, [and consume the unlawful? Evil is the thing they are doing.] (5:63)

And when He says:

Cursed were the unbelievers of the Children of Israel by the tongue. of David, and of Jesus, Mary's son; that for their rebelling and their transgression. They forbade not one another any dishonour that they committed; surely evil were the things that they did. (5:78 79)

God has reproved them because they beheld the open vices and corruption of the oppressors, but did not forbid them from that on account of attachment to their favours and fear of what periled them. Whereas God says: ...So fear not men, but fear me .... (5:44)

And He says: And the believers, the men and the women, are friends of one another; they bid to honour and forbid dishonour (i.e. perform the duty of al amr bil ma'ruf wd al nahy `an al munkar), they perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and they obey God and His Messenger. They upon them God shall have mercy; God is Almighty, All wise. (9:71)

God mentions the duty of al amr bil ma'ruf wa al nahy `an al munkar before all other duties, because He knows that if it is performed and established in the society all other duties, the easy and the difficult, are also established. That is why al amr bil ma'ruf wa al nahy`an al munkar signifies invitation to Islam together with resistance against injustice, opposition to the oppressor, [proper] division of the public funds and booty, collection of alms and their correct distribution.

Then you, O company of men well known for your learning! You, who have a good name and are known [among the people] for your goodwill. God has given you honour with the people. The illustrious venerate you and the weak respect you. You. are preferred by him over whom you have no merit and over whom you have no power. The deprived seek your intercession in need, and you walk on the road with the majesty of kings and princes. Is it not that you have such honour and dignity because people place their hopes in you to stand for the establishment of Divine duties? If you fail to discharge most of those duties, then you have scorned the duties of leaders. You have forfeited the rights of the weak, though you have obtained your own claims. Neither you had to sacrifice your wealth nor endanger your lives for the sake of Him Who created you. Nevertheless, you desire that God should put you in the Paradise in the neighbourhood of His apostles, and you hope to be safe from His chastisement. Indeed I am afraid that you who harbour such hopes from God shall have to taste His vengeance. Because God had honoured you and raised you in station above others, for there are many servants of God who are not held in such high esteem as God has granted you among the people. God's covenants are broken before your very eyes, yet you are not dismayed, although you are alarmed if some of your ancestral compacts are endangered; as if the compact of the Messenger of Allah (S) were some insignificant and paltry thing! The blind, the dumb and the handicapped in towns are without protection and mercy, but you neither act as demanded by your high station nor care and have regard for one who attends to them. You have made your own life safe and secure by getting along with the oppressors and showing lenience and connivance in regard to their injustices, which God had com¬manded you to oppose and forbid. Indeed if you understand, the calamity that has befallen you is greater than the one which afflicts the people; because you have failed to safeguard the responsibility of the learned. Since the implementation of the laws and running of the affairs lie with the men of Divine knowledge, who are custodians of His [laws regarding the] haram and halal. But you have been wrested of this status. And it was not taken away from you except for your departure from righteousness, and on account of your disagreement regarding the Sunnah, after that it had been made clear and evident to you.

Had you the endurance to put up with adversities and hardships for the sake of God, the affairs of God would have returned into your hands and your lost authority would have turned to you again. But you allowed the oppressors to take your place and handed over the affairs of God into their hands, that they may act dubiously and indulge in their lusts. They got their authority because of your running away from death [which is inevitable] and due to your love of life, which shall [anyhow] depart from you. In this fashion, you submitted the weak into their hands, to be enslaved and exploited, permitting them to run the affairs of the country according to their whims, and to make ignominy their way of life through their [unchecked] desires, following the perverse and disobeying the Almighty. They have appointed a loud voiced orator for every pulpit in every town, and the country lies open and unprotected at their mercy. Their hands are free to do whatever they like, and the defenseless people are at the disposal of their mercy. Among them are merciless tyrants who oppress the weak, and men of authority who know neither the creation nor the Day of Resurrection. It is surprising and why shouldn't I be surprised when the country is in the hands of a faithless tyrant and the ruler of the believers is one who has no mercy for them. Indeed God is a judge between us in our disputes and contentions.

My God, You Know that whatever I have said is not for the sake of rivalry for power, nor for the sake of futile vanities of the world, but because we desire establishment of the landmarks of Thy religion, reform in Thy lands, security of Thy oppressed creatures, and the practice of Thy com¬mands and the duties laid down by Thee.

And you, [O company of the elect of the Ummah] , assist us and do us due justice. The oppressors have power over you and they act to extinguish the light of your Prophet (S).

And God suffices us, and in Him we put our trust. Towards Him do we turn, and towards Him all things shall return.

Now, those who go to mimbar must remember above words of Imam Husain(AS). If they are loyal to martyred Imam then they must adhere to his teachings and follow in sermons and speeches what he has asked us to do.

Lessons from the Karbala

Students of the so called historical method argue that in terms of immediate history, nothing was achieved as a result of the events on `Ashura, i.e. Muharram. They say that it was a tragedy, but its overall effect on the political events of the period was negligible. This is their conclusion and when they are asked why the Islamic books of history, written by scholars many centuries ago, devote more space, more pages, more words, to that event than to any other in the history of Islam, why there are more books devoted to that event in Islamic history than to any other, they shrug their shoulders and mumble something about the Shi`i influence on the writing of history. Yet, many of the writers are not members of the Shi’a. The famous Islamic historian Tabari devoted nearly two hundred pages to the story. No other event receives as much attention from him. He most certainly was not a member of the Shi`a.
The fact is that these petty scholars with their tendentious criticisms are concerned only with the narrow details of political history. They do not perceive the cosmic nature of the martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS). For them, history is the restricted study of immediate cause and effect in political developments. But real history is about something far more important than that. Real history concerns men's relationship with God and how that rela¬tionship affects men's relationships with each other. Real history attempts to show the cosmic significance of events, not their narrow immediate political results.
The tragedy of Karbala', the martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS), is one of those events of cosmic significance. Its lessons concern not just one group of men and their relationship to the world, but all mankind. It is a moral paradigm. It teaches sacrifice and opposition to injustice: it teaches integrity of purpose, love of family, gentle¬ness, and bravery. In fact, in the account of the tragic journey and martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS), there are lessons in all the moral virtues. Perhaps the one that strikes most of us most forcefully, is our own inadequacy in comparison with the enormous sacrifice Imam Husain(AS) made on behalf of mankind.
He watched as, one after another, his followers went to their deaths; as, one after another, his kinsmen went to their deaths; even his baby son was slaughtered in his arms as he gave him a farewell hug.
Yet Imam Husain(AS) was not only victim of persecution , he was also the exemplar of bravery and fortitude. He fought a brave and fierce fight against so many. Such was his power and strength, such was the aura of his person and he was by no means a young man that the only way his enemies could kill him was by a whole group of them attacking him at the same time and stabbing him together.
The lesson is clear to us all: it shows the lengths of human wickedness. Imam Husain(AS) exemplifies all suffering humanity. In that death, in those blows to his body, in the trampling of horses over it, Imam Husain(AS) is the model, the paradigm of all unjust deaths, of all humans suffering. In this, his death teaches suffering men to endure, to remain steadfast in their belief in God. It also has a lesson to teach men who are more fortunate, that the world is a transitory place, worldly success is not an end in itself, and that man should always be aware of the suffering Imam Husain(AS) experienced. By their awareness of this they will learn to treat worldly success with humility.
In the real sense of cosmic history, the martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS) is a mighty triumph, a wondrous victory. Who would know the name Yazid today except for the fact that he was responsible for the martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS)? Otherwise he would just be another of the thousands of despots, tyrants, and bullies that have abused their authority, another footnote in the history of man. However, because his tyranny and wickedness was responsible for the good, the noble, the pure Imam's death, he, by killing the Imam, the human model of goodness and bravery, has become the human model of injustice and wickedness.
The triumph of Imam Husain(AS) lies in the fact that his inspiration has moved men to grieve for him throughout the centuries. The pure light of ennobled humanity in the Imam has motivated generation upon generation of the Shi'a, to suffer endless hardship, to keep his memory alive.
The first beginnings of the majlis, the sessions held in honour of the martyrdom of Imam Husain(AS) are to be discerned in the first gatherings of the surviving family of the martyred Imam. Very soon these gatherings of grief developed outside the family to include others.
They feared the grief and lamentation for Imam Husain(AS) because in that grief and lamentation people remembered the goodness, the justice, the kindness, the gentleness, and the bravery of the martyred Imam. These were not qualities that tyrannical governments wished people to think about, their concern was bribery, corruption, nepotism, and naked force. They saw the threat to their world, to their values, to their position. Seeing it, they sought to suppress the memory of Imam Husain(AS). However, such was the power, the influence, the glory of that memory, that they could not remove it from the hearts of men, from the Shi’a of all the Imams, the Shi`a of Imam Husain(AS).
All despotic regimes have felt threatened by these majlises. Throughout the centuries they have tried to prevent them. At one time even the site of Imam Husain's grave at Karbala' was ploughed up.
In today’s world we witness a few scenarios of living Karbala. The defenseless people of Palestine have shown it recently. The usurper Zionist regime has unleashed a ruthless, tyrannical, unjust violence against these people. They have been besieged in their homes, denied food and medicine, bombarded from every direction, but still these brave and unwavering people have not compromised with their ideals, have not kneeled before an unjust power, have not acknowledged and placed their allegiance before an illegitimate regime. They have remained steadfast in times of persecution, endured countless brutalities patiently, have not given up their struggle or bowed before illegitimate , unjust power. They embraced hunger, thirst, death, destruction of life and property but did not compromise with their faith and did not accept humiliation. These are living examples of Karbala in our age.
May Allah make all of us understand the message of Great Martyr of Karbala, and follow his foot steps in our lives, so that we could attain salvation in our both worlds!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Concept and Need of Wilyah

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Wilayat is the most important issue after Prophethood for Muslims. The righteous Wilaya is sine qua non for a true Islamic state. A lot of problems being faced by Muslims owe their origin to negligence of righteous, just successor of Prophet (SAW). Before we delve into some greater details of Wilaya of Ahle Bait (AS), we will cast a brief look at the concept of Wilaya.

Martyr Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari explains Wilaya in the following words: “The words, Wala, Walayat, Wilayat, Waly, Mawla, Awlaand the like have been derived from the same root, viz. Waly. The various forms of this root-word and its derivatives are the most oft-recurring words in the Holy Qur'an…The original meaning of this root-word as mentioned by Raghib in his lexicon "Mufradatul Qur'an" is one thing taking place by the side of another in such a way that there is no distance between them i.e. if two things are placed side by side in such a manner that there is no other thing between them the root-word 'Waly' is used… this root-word is naturally used for nearness and proximity also, both physical and figurative. And again for this very reason it has been used in the sense of friendship, love, patronage, guardianship, control etc., because all these conceptions involve some sort of contact and proximity.”

According to Syyed Muhammad Rizvi: “ ‘Wilayat’ derived from Wila means power, authority or a right of certain kind. In Shia’ theology, “Wilayat” is the authority invested in the Prophet (SAW) and the Ahle Bait (AS) as representatives of Al-mighty Allah on this earth.”

When we talk of Wilaya in its particular meaning of authority in Islamic context then Wilaya is faculty of legal and moral authority, which enables a person in whom this authority is invested to exact obedience to fulfill moral vision of Islamic revelation. The Islamic concept of Wilaya implies religious and political authorities are one and the same. Accordingly in the Quranic context of the divine guidance for humanity the Prophet (SAW)’s role should be considered as the head of a state and the founder of a religious order. The sense in which the holy Quran speaks about the Wilaya of the Prophet (SAW) is necessarily in the whole of human life, not just a limited segment of it. As the Muslim Ummah be organized by the context of religious devotion to Allah as explained by Prophet (SAW), but also that it acknowledges his political leadership as well. The Wilaya of the Prophet (SAW) establishes an authoritative precedent regarding the relationship between religion and political leadership in Islam. The Wilaya is concerned with whole life of Muslim Ummah.

In his famous book “The Master and Mastership” Martyr Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari has presented four dimensions of Wilaya.

1) Wala of love (Wila-e muhabbat) : All Muslims are obliged to love and respect Ahle Bait (AS). A number of verses of holy Quran makes this obligatory for Muslims, and there is no dispute on this kind of Wila of Ahle Bait(AS) between Shias and Sunnis. The Holy Qur'an says "Say: I ask you no reward for my preaching save love and affection toward my progeny" This love is a prelude to all kinds of Wala prescribed by Islam. It binds the people to the Holy Family and gives them an opportunity to be benefited by its teachings, practice and precepts.

Imam Shafi'i, one of the four Imams of the Sunni, in his famous verses says: "Let everybody know that if the love of Muhammad's descendants means to be a Rafizi, I am a Rafizi". Imam Shafi'i also says "O Ahl al-Bayt! Allah has made it obligatory in the Qur'an to love you. It is a matter of pride for you that without invoking blessing on you, prayer is not valid,". Again he says in his verses "After having seen that the people have chosen different ways which have led them to the Ocean of deviation and ignorance. I have, in the name of Allah, embarked the ship, which may lead me to safety. The Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet are that very ship We have been ordered to hold fast the rope of Allah, and that rope is their love".
Zamakhshari and Fakhruddin al-Razi, who bitterly oppose the Sh'iah on the question of succession to the Holy Prophet, quote him in their commentaries on the Qur'an as having said "He who dies adhering to the progeny of Muhammad dies the death of a martyr; his sins will be forgiven he dies the death of a repentant and his faith will be regarded as perfect".

2) Wala of Imamat (wila-e imamat): Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari says: “Wala of Imamate signifies religious authority, i.e. a position which makes the Imam a model for others who have to follow him and take instructions from him. Such a position automatically implies the infallibility of the Imam. It is the same position about which the Holy Qur'an, while referring to the Holy Prophet, says:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً ً

"The Messenger of Allah is certainly a good example for those of you who have hope in Allah and believe in the Last Day and remember Allah very often". (al-Ahzab, 33: 21)

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمْ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

" Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful ". (Ale Imran, 03: 31)

These verses of the Holy Qur'an put forward the Holy Prophet as a model for others who are required to mould their conduct according to his and to follow in his footsteps. This in itself is a proof of his infallibility, because if he were liable to commit mistakes and sins Allah would not have introduced him as the leader and the guide.”

This wala reflects the power and authority of the Ahle Bait (AS) in guiding their followers in spiritual matters. According to a very famous hadith Holy Prophet has said: "I am leaving behind among you two authorities, the Book of Allah and my Ahl al-Bayt. They shall not be separated from each other till they arrive at the Fountain of Kauthar. If you go ahead of them or fall short of expectations, you shall be misled. Do not try to teach them, for they know better than you''.
Hafiz Abu Na'im reports on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said "Whoever desires to live like me and to die like me should select Ali after me as his Waly and should follow the Imams of my family who have been endowed with knowledge and intelligence. Unlucky are those who deny their excellence and disregard my kinship to them. Such people shall be deprived of my intercession on their behalf".

That kind of religious leadership, which makes every word and action of the leader authoritative, is called Imamate. It is a sort of wilayat in the sense that it implies a sort of control over the affairs of the people. This kind of Wala when used with reference to an Imam means religious authority and the right of leadership, and when used with reference to the Muslims means the acknowledgement of this right.

3) Wala of Leadership (wila-e ziamat): This kind of Wala is concerned with right of social and political leadership. According to Ayatullah Martyr Mutahhari: “Indeed a society must have a leader. The person qualified to take charge of the social affairs of the Muslims and to control their destinies is called Walyy-u Amr al-Muslimin (Administrator of the affairs of the Muslims). During his lifetime Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, held this position, which was granted to him by Allah. Following his death, it was attained by the Ahl al-Bayt. There exists undeniable evidence to prove this fact. Besides the Hadith of Ghadir, several verses of the Holy Qur'an point out this kind of Wala.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً

“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end”. (al-Nisa, 04:59).

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ

“The Prophet has more authority over the believers than that which they have over their selves”. (al-Ahzab, 33:06)

There is no dispute about the fact that the Prophet held this position which was a right given to him by Allah and not by the people. Our Sunni brethren also agree with us on this point. The only debatable question is regarding the person, who holds this position after him.”

Holy Prophet (SAW) was the Imam, religious leader and the law-giver. Whatever he said or did was authoritative. The Qur'an says:

“If the Messenger orders you to do something, obey it, and if he forbids something abstain from it”. (al-Hashr, 59:07)

His (SAW) decisions with regard to any internal disputes and any lawsuits were binding and valid.

Allah says in the Holy Qur'an (Muhammad)

فَلا وَرَبِّكَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيماً

“I swear by your Lord, they will not be true believers until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them and find in themselves no dislike of that which you decide, and submit with full submission ". (al-Nisa, 04:65)

He (SAW) held political and social Wilayat. Besides preaching and explaining the commands of Allah and adjudicating the disputes among the Muslims, he administered their social and political affairs. He was Walyy-u Amr al-Muslimin. The following verses envisage this aspect.

“Obey Allah, His Messenger and those of you who are in charge of your affairs”. (al-Nisa, 04:59)

“The Prophet has more authority over the believers than that which they have over their selves”. (al-Ahzab, 33:06)

This position of the Holy Prophet out of the three preceding position, constitutes the basis of the question of Caliphate, and his successor has the same rights and status.

4) Wala of Control (wila-e tasarruf): This dimension reflects universal power over the entire universe that the Prophet (SAW) and Ahle Bait (SAW) have been vested with by the grace of Almighty Allah. This is the highest stage of Wilayat of Ahle Bait (AS). Imama and Wilayat in this sense signify the same position though from different points of view.

This fourth dimension is the universal authority that the Prophet (SAW) and the Ahle Bait (AS) have been vested with by the Almighty Allah. It is an authority that makes it possible for the Wali to exercise his power over everything that exists. In the words of Ayatullah al-Khumeini: “It is a vicegerency pertaining to the whole of creation, by virtue of which all the atoms in the universe humble themselves before the holder of authority”

The authority and control of Ahle Bait (AS) is vertical with respect to that of Allah.

The Question of Wilayat in Islam
After Prophet (SAW)

The question of Wilayat or leadership of Ummah both in spiritual and temporal affairs after Prophet (SAW) is the cause for division between Shia’s and Sunnis. Both agree on the indispensable need of a Wali, but differ on the method and ways of its selection or appointment. Whether Prophet (SAW) left Muslims without appointing any leader as his successor after him? Whether Muslims have right to elect their own leader as successor of Prophet (SAW)? Whether the right of appointment of Wali or leader of Muslims rests with Allah? Such questions form the basic difference between the two sects of Islam. As regards the successor of Prophet (SAW) we have discussed the issue above under event of Ghadir due to lack of space we cannot delve into details of vicegerency after Prophet (SAW). We will only have a brief look over the issue here.

Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr has discussed three possibilities in his essay entitled “A Study on the Question of Al-Wilaya” namely firstly, Prophet (SAW) left Ummah with out any successor to replace his place as leader after him, secondly, Prophet (SAW) wanted Muslims to choose themselves their leader through as-Saqifa or consultation, and thirdly, Prophet (SAW) appointed Imam Ali (AS) his successor, and Imam of Ummah.

First Approach:

The Prophet (SAW) was assuming the leadership of a revolutionary faith, and inducing radical transformations of the customs, structures, and concepts of society. The path for such transformation was long and the faith which Prophet (SAW) practiced had to begin with the man belonging to the period of Jahiliyyah and raise him to new institutions, thus converting him into an Islamic man who could carry the new light, and uproot the trunk and roots of Jahiliyyah from his heart and mind. The Prophet (SAW) made astonishing headway in the task of transformation in a very short time, but it was necessary for this task of transformation to continue on its way even after the death of Prophet (SAW).

So now to think that Prophet (SAW) adopted a passive approach for leadership after him is to attribute to Prophet (SAW) the lack of insight. To think such a thing is a great sin, besides all logic and reason with many evidences refute such attribution. Prophet (SAW) was well aware with the maturity of faith of Muslims, these Muslims were just out from the dark alleys of pre-Islam jahiliyyah and they were certainly not in a condition to cope up with the vacuum of leadership. There were also many hypocrites present in the garb of Muslims and Prophet (SAW) also knew it well.

So, Prophet (SAW) was were aware with the dangers to Islam after him, and hence claims of any kind of passivity on his level for the Future of Islam is not acceptable. In fact both Shia’ and Sunnis have this tradition in their authentic works that Umar al-Khattab was amongst a group of men in the house when Prophet (SAW), before his death, said: “Bring me parchment and pen so that I may write something for you after which you shall never go astray”

In fact this act of Prophet (SAW) illustrates clearly that he was deeply concerned about the dangers which had to be faced in the future, and recognized the need to plan ahead as to protect the Ummah from deviation, and save it from inattentiveness and disintegration. It is thus totally impossible to substantiate any claim of passivity leveled against the Prophet (SAW).

Second Approach:

The second approach says that Prophet (SAW) adopted a positive policy concerning the future of Ummah and Islam, and he advocated the appointment of a Shura or counsel, which would be entitled to select leader of Muslims.

Had the holy Prophet (SAW) adopted a positive attitude towards shura after him, he would have found it absolutely necessary to educate the Ummah and the faithful concerning the principles of shura with its rules and details, and to give it a form which reflected the divine and holy sanction, while also preparing the Islamic society both mentally and spiritually to accept this system.

But we can easily discover that holy Prophet (SAW) never sought to educate Ummah for any such plan for future. We do not find any ahadiths attributed to holy Prophet (SAW) giving details of principles, legal aspects or theoretical concepts of shura. Therefore, we can conclude that holy Prophet (SAW) did not seek shura for Ummah after his death.

The shura, which was formed after, holy Prophet (SAW) could not survive even a short time. First Caliph neglected it and appointed the second Caliph himself, while the second one formed a six-member group enshrining the right to elect leader amongst them. In this way as-Saqifa collapsed immediately after it was formed.

The first Caliph regretted the fact that he was elected too speedily, while the second one regretted the first one’s election saying it was a slip, he himself on many occasions confessed his inability in handling the affairs of Ummah.

Third Approach:

The third approach is the only possibility, which is consistent with the nature of facts and logical in light of the circumstances surrounding Islam, Muslims and the Prophet (SAW). The holy Prophet (SAW) adopted a positive stance towards the future of Islam after his death and as per the orders of Allah (SWT) chose Imam Ali (AS) who had deep involvement in the formation of Islam, and specifically prepared him religiously in the art of leadership so that he could exemplify the intellectual authority and political leadership of the experience, and maintain the leadership of Ummah and its ideological structure after the holy Prophet (SAW)’s death.

In fact the evidence from the lives of the holy Prophet (SAW) and the Imam (AS), which indicate that the holy Prophet (SAW) prepared the Imam (AS) specifically in religious matters is indeed substantial. For the holy Prophet (SAW) chose to explain the concept of Islam and its truths to him, and gave him intellectual answers and sought to cultivate the Imam (AS)’s awareness when he asked numerous questions while also spending long hours with during both the night and the day, opening his eyes to the concepts of Islam and to the problems to be faced during its progress, and to the management of the task until the last day of his noble life.

Imam Ali (AS) - the commander of the faithful himself describes his unique relationship with the holy Prophet (SAW):

“You know of my connection with the Messenger of Allah (SAW), my close kinship to him and my intimate position. He put me on his lap when I was a child, hugged me to his breast, embraced me in his bed, so that his body touched mine and so I smelled his scent, and would also chew things and give, them to me to eat. But he did not find me lying in my speech or pompous in my act. I used to follow him as the small camel follows its mother and every day he showed me part of his moral acts and ordered me to do likewise. Every year he used to take me to Hira and only I could see him, for at that period of time of Islam there was only the Messenger of Allah (SAW), Khadija and myself as the third, as nobody else lived in the house. So I saw the light of revelation and the message and smelled the fragrance of prophecy.”

Similarly, there are a great many indications from the lifetime of Imam Ali (AS) after the death of holy Prophet (SAW), which reveal the Prophet’s private ideological training of Imam Ali (AS) and reflect the effects and results of this private instruction. The Imam (AS) was the man to whom the ruling leadership resorted for consultation and authority when they wished to solve some difficult problems, which they could not solve themselves. But we cannot find a single instance in the history of the Islamic experience during the time of the four khulafah in which the Imam (AS) turned to someone else for an opinion as to the way in which a problem should be dealt with according to Islam, whereas there were tens of instances in which the ruling Islamic leadership felt it necessary to consult the Imam (AS), in spite of their reservations in this matter.

The above arguments along with the event of Ghadir establish fact that successor of Prophet (SAW) was none other than Imam Ali (AS). The holy Prophet (SAW) himself, on the instructions of Allah (SWT), appointed him his successor.

(Supreme Jurist Leadership)

The guidance of Ummah is a continuous process, which is needed even during the occultation of Imam Mahdi (ATF), so who will take the responsibility of leading and guiding the Ummah during this time? The answer to this question lies in the rule of just, pious and virtuous jurists so that we may faithfully follow them and seek guidance in the affairs of life. Our divine religion Islam has rules for every walk of life. There are laws for economic, social, civil, and spiritual affairs. These laws have not been put in suspension during the occultation of Imam (ATF), nor can we be assigned to an ignorant and corrupt ruler for leadership, so naturally there is genuine need for just, pious and learned men to lead Ummah. The obedience to these jurists by the people is as obligatory as it is to the Holy Prophet (SAW) and the Infallible Imam (AS). We must also have in mind that adherence to full Islamic rules is not possible until there is an Islamic government. So the necessity of an Islamic government cannot be ruled out even during the occultation of Imam (ATF).

Now, there are a number of questions, which arise and must be answered:

Do the Muslims need some system of Government? Should an Islamic State be protected and defended or not? Should the lands be safeguarded? Should laws be promulgated in an Islamic State? Should the right of the oppressed be restored to him? Should or should not the voice of Islam reach every nook and corner of the world? Were the teachings of the Prophets and the Imams confined to their time only or were they applicable to all places and all times? If the answers to these, questions lie in affirmative. If we want to safeguard our land, resources, culture, faith from the onslaught of enemies of Islam. If the very structure and essence of Islam is to be protected, then surely we need an Islamic Government, which should be based on the lines of guidance from holy Quran and Sunna.

If the government is necessary then the ruler is also necessary, because the government cannot be run without a ruler. Therefore, since Islam needs a government for enforcing its laws, we should find out the qualifications of the ruler and know whether he has a deep understanding of the Divine commandments, is just and competent, and can appreciate and face difficulties. If it is necessary that the ruler should be a true Muslim, well informed, pious, virtuous and statesman, then that person must be a jurist, and his government will be called the government of the jurist.

Those, who do not believe in the concept of the guardianship of a jurist should study the following viewpoints and accept anyone of them:

(i) Islam is confined only to prayers, fasting, individual worship, moral values only and it does not envisage the solution of social problems, justice, political and economic problems.

(ii) Islam was only meant for the duration of the lifetime of the Holy Prophet only, and it was abandoned after him and now its important social problems are confined only in books.

(iii) Important social laws; should be enforced by the ignorant and wicked persons only.

If none of the above-quoted view-points is acceptable or appeals to reason, then we must accept the guardianship of the jurist, which means that the enforcement of Islamic laws and solution of difficult problems should be solved by eminent Muslim scholars and thus we must not think that the guardianship of the jurist is unjustifiable.

Is it not narrated from Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS) that: "In the Holy Qur'an all the individual and collective needs of the society have been described".

Hence, are the government, ruler, administration and various fields of human activities not included among the important needs of the society?

The Holy Prophet said, "I am grateful to Allah that I have described all the requirements of the Ummah before my death".

Imam Ali Reza (AS) while dealing with the problem of guardianship says, "There is no nation which is without its leader and the social structure of a society is directly concerned with the leader and that people should manage the public treasury by keeping an account of its income and expenditure, organize the society, fight against the enemies and protect the society from internal dissensions and disunity. If there is not going to be any such leader, then the nation will break up into pieces and the Divine commandments and the teachings of the Holy Prophet will be tampered with at the command of despotic ruler".

You will note that the, question of leadership and the government has been stated to be the most important problem by Imam Ali Reza (AS). It is obvious that for the benefit of the poor masses management of the public treasury, equitable distribution of wealth, struggle against enemies, administration of social institutions are not such that they are only concerned with the time of the previous infallible Imams and that the Ummah should be left to itself during the occultation of our living Imam Mahdi (ATF) that is to say, there should be no need of a government or a ruler during the period of occultation.

Thus Islam acknowledges the existence of the society and the necessity of the government and its ruler, but what is important is that we should know the conditions and qualifications of the ruler, and what type of the government it should be and how it should carry on the administration.

According to common sense and keeping in view the various Islamic narrations, the responsibility of the government should be laid on the shoulders of the just jurist. We reproduce here excerpts from some narrations:

(i) The Holy Prophet considered the jurists as his caliph.

(ii) The living Imam Mahdi (ATF) with his own hand wrote in reply to a letter: "You should refer to our narrators about your problems and difficulties for they are our argument and proof on you just as we are the argument and proof of Allah".

(iii) When Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS) was asked about the problems, which are referred to despotic administration for decision he said, "Referring to these departments is very bad because it is referring to the despot and if someone gets back his right from these despotic departments it becomes unlawful. On such occasions however, it is your duty to refer to those people who know our teachings and narrations fully well, because I declare them as the Qazi (Judge) for you. Thus you should remember that if this jurist has given you his decision and you consider it worthless it is as if you have considered the Divine command as worthless. If anyone disobeys these jurists, it is as if he has disobeyed us, and whosoever disobeys us, has in fact disobeyed Allah and this action amounts to polytheism".

(iv) The Holy Prophet (SAW) said, "Scholars are the successors of the Prophets". (Wasa'il, vol. XVIII, chapter 11)

(v) Imam Kazim (AS) said: "Jurists are the fortresses of Islam". (Kitabal Bai', Ayatullah Khumayni)

(vi) Allah (SWT) has taken an assurance from the scholars that they would not pass over the gluttony and oppression of the despots in silence and would not ignore the hunger of the poor. (Nahjul Balagha)

Naturally in a society supporting the oppressed and crushing the tyrant do need a government or its operative agency.

(vii) In the Holy Qur'an we have been taught that in a society we should stick to justice. Can justice in a society be maintained without the existence of a government or a ruler?

(viii) Imam Hussain (AS) says, "Discharging of the duties and the enforcement of laws should be in the hands of the scholars, God-fearing and pious persons. These are the people who do not make any changes in the Divine commands pertaining to lawful and unlawful things, and who are the custodians of trusts". (Tuhaful 'Uqul, p. 242)

(ix) Imam Ali (AS) says, "Scholars are the rulers of the people". (Ghurarul Hikam, quoted from al-Hayat, vol. II, p. 293)

Thus it is deduced that in an Islamic society the head of the government should be a just jurist with all the prescribed qualifications. These very jurists are the authorized representatives of the infallible Imams during the period of the occultation of our living Imam Mahdi (ATF). If the authority and guardianship of the jurist is terminated, the despots would raise their heads and the Divine commandments will be altered.

Now after the above discussion we would like to ask few questions about the intentions and objectives of the persons opposing the concept of government by a just and righteous jurist:

● Do they say that for Muslims no government and no administration are necessary?

● Do they say that some system is necessary but there is no necessity of an administrator, ruler or guardian?

● Do they say that guardians and the rulers of the people should be those who have no concern with Islam?

● Do they say that the ruler should be a jurist and Muslim but it is not necessary that he should be just and pious?

● Do they consider that guardianship of the jurist is some sort of a dominating force? Is the jurist a representative of a particular group or class of people?

● Does the selfishness of the jurist not nullify his sense of justice and fair play by which his guardianship in the society will automatically cease to exist?

We would ask those who oppose the guardianship of the jurist as to whom they want to entrust the affairs of the Ummah? We ask whether the Muslims should not follow someone in their affairs or is their following restricted to worship of Allah only? Is there not the possibility of a lawful or an unlawful thing in matters of social problems such as strikes, rehabilitation, travels, disputes, agreements, pacts, appointments, dismissal etc.? Should we not follow some jurist in all those matters where there is a question of lawfulness and unlawfulness? Should the leadership of the Muslims be entrusted to an un-Islamic leader? Will it not be like handing over the administration of a medical college to a man who is not a physician himself?

Has the time not come when we should protect ourselves from false leadership, unscrupulous politicians and professional opportunists, we should come under the Islamic protection, and accept only that leadership, which is compatible with the standard laid down by Qur'anic revelations.

To run Islamic government we need the guardianship of Wilayat al-Faqih, Imam Khomeini in his book “Islamic Government” discusses the concept in details. According to him: “Wilayah means government, administration and leadership of the country… Wilayat al-faqih is a legal issue established by the Shari'ah. Just as the Shari'ah has made each one of us the guardian of his minor children, the duty of the guardian of the entire people does not differ from the guardianship of minors except in terms of quantity… Two qualifications must obtain in the Islamic ruler: he must be an expert of Islamic law and sciences and must be just. Without these two conditions no one may assume the office of the Imam of the Islamic State… It is not a system where the head of state enjoys absolute power, playing with the people's wealth and lives... It is a constitutional government, not in the ordinary known sense but in the sense that its functionaries adhere to a set of conditions and rules explained in the Qur'an and Sunnah, which make it imperative upon them to obey the system and apply the rules and laws of Islam. Hence the Islamic State is a realm of divine law. The difference between the Islamic government and the constitutional one, be it a monarchy or republic, lies in the fact that representatives of the people or the monarch legislate, while the authority of legislation (in the Islamic State) is confined to Allah alone… None, whosoever, is allowed to legislate and none has the right to govern with laws that do not enjoy Allah's sanction.”

A Brief Account of Imam Khomeini’s Argument on Wilayat-e Faqih

Imam Khomeini’s arguments on the issue are as follows:

- Islam is a comprehensive religion, providing laws on politics, society, economy, etc. It is admitted that the Divine commandments are applicable to all societies in all eras.

- Religious commandments are not useful unless they are applied to form a state on the basis of Divine guardianship.

- Moreover, in order to protect the Islamic system, control the borders of Muslims from any encroachment by the enemy, and prevent chaos in Islamic society, it is necessary to form an Islamic government. Therefore, the reasons underlining the role of an Imam in the society stand for the formation of a government in the absence of infallible Imams (a).

- The leadership of an Islamic government has been specifically entrusted on a particular person in the absence of Imam Mahdi (ATF). But since the government is an Islamic in nature, its ruler should possess at least the following two qualifications: command over religious laws (fiqh); and he should be a just person.

- The scholar must be a just individual, and must be also pure and pious. The Guardian has to be an outstanding candidate, and as a result the most learned of all other candidates in order to be elected to this post. This position makes Him the leader of all the Ummah, not only the Shia, and he has to make decisions and lead on behalf of the Ummah. Of course not all of the Ummah follow the Guardian, however that is what is intended to happen. This position was intended by Imam Khomeini (RA) to be one that can unite and lead the Ummah to glory, until the return of Imam Mahdi (ATF). In no way is this position more powerful than the leadership of Imam Mahdi (ATF), and is not intended to be so. it is simply a temporary position until His return, so that in the time of His occultation the Ummah is not divided and doesn't go astray, because the Muslims of the world always need strong leadership.

Ayatollah Hashemi's Discourse On Wilayat al-Faqih

Notice: This, important discussion was presented by Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroodi in his course of Khariji Fiqh (post advanced jurisprudence) in the holy city of Qom in the autumn, 1997. He is the head of the institute of Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) Encyclopedia and the professor of Islamic sciences in the chief Islamic seminary in Qom and recently has been appointed as the head of Iranian Judiciary.

In the name of God and peace be upon our master & Prophet Muhammad…

…. I come to the main point which includes Wilayat al-Faqih (The authority of a leading jurist as the Leader of society) and Marjaiyyat (the authority of a leading jurist as the people's reference on Islamic practical laws), the latter “Marjaiyyat” was functioning before Islamic revolution but the second (Wilayat al-Faqih) did not function because Maraji (famous leading jurists) were not authorized and also were not on power for ruling and leadership, therefore the principle of Wilayat al-Faqih could not function and just Marjaiyyat which was a part of Wilayat al-Faqih worked.

This authorization as Wilayat al-Faqih started by Imam Komeinei’s great endeavour who made the governing of Fuqaha (leading Jurists) practical and possible. So nowadays we can see Wilayat al-Faqih, which is the most perfect form of Marjaiyyat is functioning. Wilayat al-Faqih not only includes referring to a leading jurist by people for the Islamic practical laws (Marjaiyyat) but also involves the leadership of the society by that leading jurist. This change in our society aims starting the realization of religion in whole society.

Now a Faqih (leading jurist) should not act just in very detailed cases such as managing the orphan’s properties and the matters like this. It is really unreasonable that a Faqih engages himself with very detailed matters and does not feel any responsibility in society for important social problems. What does this belief mean saying a Faqih should just function for the detailed and practical laws such as orphan’s affairs, and a Faqih is not deserved to come to power as Wilayat al-Faqih. This is my question, why is not it possible for a Faqih to have power to execute all Islamic laws in society as a ruler or authorized responsible?

The author of Javahir Al-Kalam says, "Whoever does not accept the principle of Wilayat al-Faqih will not taste the sweet taste of Fiqh". So it is clear that Wilayt al-Faqih is one of the most fundamental principles of Fiqh. The only disagreement comes back to the mentioned thought that a Faqih cannot govern. I think the root of this thought comes back to the periods and eras in which, the governing of a Faqih looked quite impossible, the thought, which was formed gradually.

However this principle “Wilayat al-Faqih” is a clarified and a settled point, which can be inferred from Quran and narrations and also by rational causes and understanding the spirit of Fiqh.

The author of, Javahir profit from his Fiqhi (Jurisprudential) talent and makes some interesting decision about important cases like Judgment. Some jurists doubts the important documents which indicate Wilayat al-Faqih such as Maqboulah or Abi-khadija narrations, even if we put this important document aside, we can infer by a rational method which says that a legislator surely would not be satisfied with not being a Judge, Shiite in a Shia society. So we can infer that there is a kind of appointment for a Shiite Judge who is a well-qualified jurist.

Here is a fundamental question, If we are not left in a simple point like appointing of a judge, in the case of appointing a deserved person as the Leader (Wali-e-Amr) this fact is very clear and this appointment and its conditions should be practiced in a society.

Another point, which I want to have a word on it, includes this fact that Wilayat al-Faqih is the continuation of Imamate (Leadership of Twelve Shia Imams). Today we see some spiteful ones who are instilling some doubts into people's mind that the legitimacy of Wilayat al-Faqih is given by people, these ideas are perfectly against the Quranic verses and famous narrations which explicitly express that Wilayat (Leadership) firstly belongs to God then his prophet next the Imams and finally the ones who are appointed by Imams so in this case there is no chance for the people to choose. In the narration, which indicated the appointing the judge it is been told that: "we choose for you a judge, not you".

In here, maybe someone rely on the theory of Al-Showra (Counsil) or the modern ideas such as direct election, which has come from the West. The point is, Shiism has not any background or any record about it. The best reason for not existing this point in Shia culture is that, there is not any narration of our Imams (peace be upon them) about Al-Showra or clarifying the condition of voters. This point “Al-Showra”can be applied nowadays for choosing the responsible of a state but for the case of Wilayat al-Faqih we see all the Quranic verses are against it and there is no way. Some Quran verses like “The ruling is for no one except God" or "There is no authority for them" or "Obey God and his prophet and those among you who have been authorized by the prophet to rule over you". If we care, we'll see there is no expression indicating the election of a ruler by people.

Among narrations we also see some such as “They are my deputies to you and I am God’s deputy“, which was told by the prophet Muhammad (SAW). As we see in the Islam history Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS) when he was the head of the Islamic State chose all of his governors himself and did not say to people which one you like to choose.

I believe the matter of election has come completely from the West and there is nothing about it in Islamic documents. In sunni culture even the concept of Al-Showra (counsel) is quite different from its today’s concept because the appearance of Showra for sunni was based on political reasons. As we see in the period of Omayyads and Abbasids there is not any institution called Al-Showra and just is defined in the period of four caliphs.

There is another meaning for election and electing in the Fiqh of Shia’ in which the act of electing means knowing and introducing someone by people. This concept is highly different from its western concept, nevertheless in this concept there is a special role for the people to supervise the governors.

Nowadays we see some people who want to make the principle of Wilayat al-Faqih dependent on electing by people so that people can authorize or depose whenever they want. I believe the purpose of such an idea is sweeping Wilayat al-Faqih away and they want to deviate this important principle.

Hereby, I deeply request the young and the learned scholars to study on this case carefully and try not to be influenced by the deviating matters, which are exposed here and there.

The next point, which I want to discuss about, is "A’lamiyyat" (to be the most learned among the famous jurists). In old books on Fiqh this expression has not been mentioned and recently has been used in contemporary texts especially in the case of “Ijtihad” which includes referring to the jurist by people for their practical laws. The root for forming this idea comes back more to a rational cause. It means when there is a disagreement between two Faqihs (Jurist) in their opinion for a practical law, the people can refer to the more learned one (A'lim).

Some contemporary jurists believe in following the A'lim (the most learned jurist) as a obligatory precaution, meanwhile I have to mention some points about definition of A'lamiyyat. I believe the kind and the degree for A'lamiyyat, which can be considered as the base of preference between two learned Jurists is the difference, which is really highly deep and clear between them.

If the difference of two "Learned Jurist is" little but there is a lot of common points, in here we can not say which one is A'lim (more learned) because they have attended in the same seminary, the same school of thinking and also education and the methods are the same. When this differences is really deep so that they belong to two different periods, school or method, in here we can say the one who is more qualified and has attended more famous teachers and more advanced period can be considered as A'lim (more learned).

The other point concerning the concept of A'lamiyyat is that, the theory of A'lamiyyat does not consist of being dominant just on Usul-al-Fiqh (principles of Fiqh) or Rijal (the science of studying narrators' biography and their reliability). We consider these factors effective on A'lamiyyat when they have got a practical and applied use in Fiqh whereas we know these factors have not merely so much effective use in Fiqh by themselves.

So what are the other effective factors except above and also important aspects which are functioning in Fiqhi (Jurisprudential) inference that can make a jurist as the most Learned Jurist (A'lim).

In my opinion these factors can be as follows:

First, Having a deep understanding of the spirit of Islam, which can be very important for an inference. This kind of understanding not only needs having a good knowledge of Quran, traditions and narrations (Hadith), Fiqh and principles of Fiqh but also is in a great need of being familiar to the practice and manner of the Prophet (SAW) and the Imams (AS). It means a Faqih (leading jurist) should accurately know how the prophet and the Imams who had the control of society behaved facing different problems. How did they execute the Islamic laws in the society? I think for having a good knowledge on the prophet and the Imams practice and behaviour, first we should care that what kind of priorities they considered for the good of society paying attention to the circumstances of the society.

In here I should fire to this point that one of the reasons, which made Imam Khomeini as the most learned jurist was this character, I mean understanding the priorities. The time he presented the theory of Wilayat al-Faqih really shows his genius of understanding the situations and priorities. He felt a kind of suitability for exposing this theory and finally succeeded. Before Imam Khomeini this theory “Wilayat al-Faqih” just consisted of supervision of a jurist on the matters like appointing the judge, caring orphan’s affairs and the subjects like these. If Imam Khomeini had not gained such a deep understanding of the reality of Islam, the Prophet’s and the Imams' practice and especially a good understanding of social situations, he could not infer the theory of Wilayat al-Fiqh through the Islamic laws and Fiqh.

Paying attention to this point shows the character of A'lamiyyat in Imam Khomeini made a practical and applied benefit for the society, not just trying fruitlessly doing some theoretical work without any effects.

There is a narration which Wilayat al-Faqih can be inferred from it which is called “Ibn Issac Correspandence”. Imam Khomeini with well-justified and persuading reasons inferred the theory of Wilayat al-Faqih from it. The mentioned reasons were literal and verbal or nonverbal.

Another factor which is effective on A'lamiyyat is having a good understanding of cultural, intellectual and legal matters which is very influential on inferring the new and old matters, some new subjects like banking and banking systems, economy and Islamic economy, Judgment and etc., although such matters like prayer and cleanness are basically important but are not very effective on governing a country as a leader.

The other point which is really necessary for a Leading Faqih is being dominant on Ahlulbait`s (the shia Imams) knowledge, theological matters, moral and historical points. If we suppose two Leading Faqih and the first one has limited himself just in a special Hadith book like Wasil al-Shia (one of the biggest hadith book of Shia) and the second Faqih has got a perfect knowledge of shia Imams' narrations, surely I consider the second one as a dominant person on public culture and Islamic knowledge. The mentioned skill can be very useful for understanding the Quran verses and narrations more deeply. In above example the first Faqih who lacks this knowledge is unable to infer perfectly and his reasoning are incomplete. We can conclude of what I told above, that it is not enough for a scholar to study just some years in a Islamic seminary studying only Fiqh or Usul al-Fiqh very well and then say now I am a Learned Faqih or the most Learned (A'lim). This is just a small point of A'lamiyyat as I enumerated some factors already.

The characteristics, which I told for being A'lim are really existing in Ayatollah Khamenei. He believes that Fiqh should be gotten from the Fiqh itself and it should not be influenced by outer factors. This advantage is one of his high characters. In the case of inferring and making jurisprudential (Fiqhi) decisions, his decisions are really close to the famous decisions. He respects the great scholars' ideas very much and tries to get all of the good point of them and then expose his own opinion. This character is also one of the brilliant characters of Ayatullah Khamenei for being A'lim.

To summarize what I told about the case of A'lamiyyat, I believe, for this case we should consider a full dimensional definition as I explained in details.

Now as the final subject I pay a little attention to Marjaiyyat (the state of being as a Leading Jurist as people’s reference for their practical Laws and needs). Here is a question, which expresses that A'lamiyyat is not the only condition for Marjaiyyat. If we care, we'll see Marjaiyyat is a kind of leadership of the people for their religious and practical laws needs in other words it is a kind of religious and legal legislation. For this reason there are some other conditions for Marjaiyyat such as justice, righteousness and legitimate birth. For some of these conditions we cannot find an important reason but we can just say because it is an important position in the society therefore, the owner of this responsibilities should qualify these conditions.

Ayatollah Sadr in his epistle of the practical laws called "Al-Fatawa Al-Waziha" enumerates another conditions as well as the other conditions mentioned by other jurists for the case of Marjaiyyat. Theses conditions are efficiency and adequacy of a jurist. I have not seen this point in other jurist’s epistles and books.

I think it is a good topic to be discussed and analyzed in Islamic studies centers and seminaries. Now the point is that, the justice and righteousness, which are necessary for Marjaiyyat, how should be their degree? I believe it should have a high degree, even higher than the righteousness and justice, which were mentioned through narrations and former jurists' tales. But on the whole, I believe among the conditions enumerated for Marjaiyyat the most important is efficiency and the merit, because lots of people follow a Jurist who has the title of "Marjayyat" and they practice his decisions.

It is nice to say that this institution I mean Marjaiyyat didn’t exist in Shia culture until Muhammad Ibn-Makki Al-Amili (13-14th century) known as Shahid-e-Awwal founded it, expressing that in a Shia society should exist a Leading Jurist for referring people to him for their religious needs and Islamic practical laws.

As I already mentioned the qualifications of A'lamiyyat, Muhammad Ibn-Makki as a brilliant Jurist and A'lim (the most learned) who had understood the spirit of Islam and Fiqh, founded one of the most important and fundamental principles of Fiqh which is Marjaiyyat and in our era the late Imam Khomeini as a unique jurist could expand the limits of Marjaiyyat having a perfect understanding of the spirit of Fiqh and Islam he presented the theory of "Wilayat al-Faqih" giving the persuading reasons and well justified causes and discussions so that, Marjaiyyat with all its importance is considered only as a part of Wilayat al-Faqih.

At the end, I thank God that our present leader Ayatollah Khamenei possesses the necessary qualifications for Marjaiyyat and Wilayat al-Faqih.

I pray the Almighty God for you all to be succeeded.