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Ethical Dimension: Imam Khomeni’s View



In the name of Allah who states “And by the soul and its perfection. And He revealed to it what is wrong for it and what is right for it. He indeed truly prospers who purifies it. And he who corrupts it is ruined” Q91:8-11

May His everlasting peace and blessings be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny
The piece for this week is on the above subject. No doubt, the significance of morality in Islam cannot be overemphasised. Generally speaking, it is fundamental in all aspects of human life. Basically, the philosophy of education from the Islamic view point is to produce pious people who will live as vicegerents of Allah on earth. Unlike the West, which ignores the moral aspect, Islam emphasises morality irrespective of educational backgrounds. The 1977 First Islamic conference on Muslim education observed that: Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of man through the training of man’s spirit, intellect, the rational self, feelings and bodily senses. The training imparted to a Muslim must be such that faith is infused into the whole of his personality and creates in him an emotional attachment to Islam and enables him to follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah and be governed by the Islamic system of values willingly and joyfully, so that he may proceed to the realisation of his status as Khalifatullah to whom Allah has promised the authority of the universe.”
While commending the efforts of Muslims in preserving learning and extending its horizons, Okafor (1981), stated, “the identity of Islamic education is the balance between catering for soul and body and the balance in this world and hereafter. The central point in Islamic education is the recognition of Allah as the creator and controller of the universe, popularly called tauhid”. Thus to a great extent, education attempts at integrating an individual into a sound and effective citizen socially, economically, politically, intellectually and spiritually.
With diverse educational career starting from a famous home of letters, Imam Khomeini (QS) was blessed with extraordinary intelligence in his wide and long history of scholarship. As such, his contribution to the field was generally acknowledged. Some of the subjects Imam extensively studied in Qom include rhetoric, jurisprudence, Arabic, spiritual sciences and mysticism. He also studied ethics, literature, logic, philosophy and astronomy, just as he had an extensive comparison of Islamic and western philosophy. In view of that, he emphasised the need for a whole life of attachment to Islamic norms and values. Some of his prominent statements with regards to ethical dimension could be traced in his writings such as Jihaadul akbar, Saheefatul Imam and Kalimaatul Qisar compiled by the center of his works, among others.
Highlighting the rationale of the prophets’ mission, the Imam said, “the prophets were assigned by Allah with the aim of purifying the human souls, providing them with suitable training, educating them with the real teachings from divine scriptures and decorating the humanity with wisdom and teaching them expertise to tame the nature.” In line with that, he emphasised the message of the last messenger (S) “the objectives of Qur’an and Hadith are purification of intellect and souls, which can also be helpful in achieving the real cause of monotheism.”
The Imam has drawn the attention of the Ummah on the ideal way to seek knowledge, “the most high value objective which should become the focus of an all out effort is to learn and teach the Islamic spiritual sciences such as ethics and the genuine spiritual teachings and paving the way towards Allah” while establishing the link between knowledge gained over time and morals he stated, “all signs of innovation and civilization are legal except those which end up in corruption of ethics or corruption of chastity. Islam has banned all those practices which were in clash with the nation’s interests”
The Imam buttressed a very important point about Islam, the universal religion, “Islam is not the religion for a particular nation; it recognises no difference between Turks, Iranians, Arabs and non- Arabs. Islam belongs to all regardless of race, tribe, language or colour which do not count in this religion. All are brothers and equal. Honour is in virtue, chastity, superior character and good conduct” Thus, knowledge acquisition and spirituality are inseparable “the harm of knowledge gained without spiritual motives and purification would be worse even than sole ignorance.” He also said, “you must undertake serious efforts to gain knowledge and tame the lower desires, enhancement of spiritual practices, decoration of soul with the best ethics, norms and for an all out spiritual development and piety. In some historic words to a son, the Imam said, “O my son , you must struggle hard in order to improve your character and ethics and make efforts to abandon your material world’s attachments”.
In his words, government was defined as a small group of people for serving the nation. Such rulers do not understand that government must serve the people, not rule over them. People’s awareness, their participation, cooperation and supervision of the government chosen by them are by themselves a major guarantee for protection of the society”. In relation to that, the the Imam said, “If they call me a servant, it is better than being called a leader. Leadership is not what matters; what matters is service; Islam has made it necessary for us to serve. I am a brother to the Iranian people and regard myself as their servant and soldier. In Islam, one thing rules and that is the law. Law also ruled during the time of the Prophet (PBUH), the prophet was the implementer.
Some oft quoted words of encouragement of the Imam, “if someone who engages in purifying soul and decorating itself with ethical virtues, he would automatically abandon the dominion of the devil and Satan. it is the most important obligation that can lead to real divine wisdom.
In the peak of eloquence, In a blessed memory and broader perspective, two quotes of Imam Ali (AS) are relevant, “hate no one, no matter how much they have wronged you; live humbly, no matter how wealthy you become. Think positively, no matter how hard life is, give much, even if you have been given little. keep in touch with the ones who have forgotten you, forgive who has wronged you, and pray for the best for those you love” and, “awaken your heart to kindness and mercy for the people and love and tenderness for them, because people fall into two categories; they are either your brothers /sisters in faith or your equals in humanity.
The concept of Wilayatul faqih -governance of the jurist replaced the Shah’s monarchy with absolute Islamic system in place. It is part of the most sensitive issues that Imam buttressed for the benefit of the Ummah in general. Even in his farewell message to the Iranian nation in particular and the world in general, the topic of our discussion is very clear. “…with a heart that is calm and confident; with a joyous soul and a conscience hopeful of Allah’s graces, I take my leave from brothers and sisters, and journey to the eternal abode, and I very much need your good prayers. I ask Allah, the Benevolent to accept my excuses for inadequate services, and I ask the nation to accept my excuses for my shortages and inadequacies and to move forward with force, determination and will”
Beside the books mentioned from which most of the quotation were cited, the Imam had relatively larger scholarly works on general or specific aspects like the Tahreerul Waseelah, Kashful asraar and Hukuumatul Islamiyyah – governance of the jurist among others.
While encouraging our oppressed society to take note of education and morality as inevitable tools for development, I pray for Allah’s mercy on the late father of the Umma, safety of the Islamic revolution he put in place. I also pray for Allah’s continuous guidance and protection and good health for Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky (H).
Wassalamu alaikum!