The divine religion of Islam is based on man’s primordial nature and its ultimate goal is protection of man’s dignity and facilitating the fulfillment of his humane demands, including justice, freedom, etc. Therefore Islam can be essentially considered as a cultural and human-based religion in the history of human civilization. In giving social laws, the Divine Lawgiver has laid so much emphasis on man’s freedom and his right to election that even has left the acceptance of religion to man’s discretion and ordained that imitation in regard of fundamental principles of Islam is unlawful.
The history of Islamic civilization demonstrates that the most genuine and effective way for the spread of Islam among human societies is to influence the hearts through cultural activities, which is designated as "call" or "guidance" in the Islamic terminology. In order to preserve man’s dignity, Islam tasks the Imams and leaders to guide and direct the society towards perfection and felicity "the divine mission of all of them" by preparing the necessary social grounds. Commenting on this issue, Imam Khomeini states:
"We should try to help nations everywhere to realize their duty. If… the scholars, … religious figures of all Islamic cities and the universities of all Islamic cities decide to solve the problems of Islam and Islamic countries, they should awaken the people."1
Commenting on Imam Khomeini’s outstanding role in awakening the Muslim ummah and directing the society towards acceptance of Islamic values and its cultural principles, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei states:
"The great lesson of our honorable late Imam was return to self, return to Islam, self-realization, and realization of the worth of our countless spiritual values. By practicing this lesson, the Iranian nation stepped in the way of felicity… the way of other nations towards felicity is nothing except the same path. If this happens, the usurper Zionist regime will not be able to resist against the Islamic ummah and the United States will not dare anymore to play with the fate of the Palestinian nation and the Arab governments will not be forced to unrightfully neglect the rights of the Palestinian nation."2
The Islamic school of thought is universal and has comprehensive individual and social principles. Hence, preparation of cultural grounds for the acceptance of social principles of Islam is a prelude to the creation of a greater social change, that is, the establishment of a religious government " the great objective all Muslim thinkers throughout the history of Islamic civilization have been pursuing.
In Islamic thought, the pillars of the religious government are based on the Muslim’s hearts. In other words, religious government, which is a manifestation of sovereignty and result of religious thought, besides its divine legitimacy, requires a social base for its materialization. This social base is prepared only through the creation of appropriate cultural grounds through profound elaboration of religious cultural fundamentals.
The Divine Lawgiver has defined certain principles entitled "governmental principles" for the establishment and perpetuation of religious government, preservation of values, social rules and regulations, maintenance of security and stability in the society and guidance of the government and society towards a specific direction. Among these principles one may mention "commandment of good and prohibition of evil," "councils," and "holy war".
Among the governmental principles, the principle of holy war enjoys a specific significance. The history of Islamic civilization demonstrates that the principle of holy war enjoys a specific status in the Islamic teachings " either due to its nature or with regard to its impact on the orientations and fate of the Islamic societies.
From one angle it may be said that no Islamic principle " individual or social " can as much cause the revival of religious values in the society as the holy war can. These values include self-sacrifice, materialization of Islamic unity, commitment to individual rites and rituals, commandment of good and prohibition of evil, etc. On the other hand, the principle of holy war and mobilization of the masses to carry it out requires suitable religious cultural grounds in the practical and theoretical arenas of the society.
A cursory look at the Book, the Sunnah and the viewpoints of the Muslims scholars throughout the history of Islam indicate that the example of the principle of holy war involves a number of intricate, delicate points. A number of factors are involved in it, including the power of faith of the masses, the degree of sincere acceptability of this decree, the percentage of its success and the amount of material and human costs it would impose on the society.
Therefore in many cases we come across the avoidance of the religious leaders of issuing a decree on the holy war in order to safeguard the exigency of the Islamic society. The most outstanding example of this case is Imam Ali’s silences and his decision to stay at home instead of struggling for power, the passive resistance of the infallible Imams and the Alavids because of the absence of proper social conditions. The Muslim thinkers " of any school of thought " unanimously emphasize on the necessity of safeguarding the dignity and honor of the Islamic countries and the Muslims against the transgression of the infidels and the infidels’ invasion aiming to occupy the Islamic territories.
In fact the Islamic world and the Muslim masses in the Islamic societies face numerous problems, some of which are: 1 " dictatorial ruling systems that are subservient to global arrogance and have distanced themselves from the spirit of Islam and religious values; 2 " lack of awareness of a great chunk of the Muslim masses of the roots and causes of the problems they are entangled with and lack of their awareness of the potential power of Islam in responding to the needs of the society and guiding them towards felicity and perfection.
Therefore giving awareness and transparent expression of the realities and finally preparing the grounds for cultural growth of the citizens of the Islamic societies is one of the most important duties of the Muslim thinker in all eras.
Hence, the Islamic system and the Iranian nation, that succeeded to establish the greatest popular revolutions in the political history of world based on the sublime religious values under the sagacious leadership of Imam Khomeini, in effect laid the foundations of the religious government in the contemporary world. Therefore, the system will not spare any efforts to perform its mission of giving awareness to the masses about the religious culture of the Islamic ummah. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, has said:
"The Iranian nation considers Hajj a lofty occasion for increasing the awareness of the Islamic ummah and their participation [in the Hajj ceremonies] is utilized in the interest of the entire Islamic world " not its own interest alone " for the Iranian nation can share a valuable experience with all other Islamic countries."4
The victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran was just like a practical test for the oppressed peoples of the world, particularly for the disinherited masses of the world of Islam and could demonstrate unlimited capabilities of Islam in wakening the Muslims to move towards bringing about fundamental changes in social structures.
The victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the continuous efforts of the Islamic Republic to widen the insight of the Muslim ummah and its call for return to the "self" and religious-cultural principles, which is in direct contradiction with the interests of the global arrogance, led by the United States, is an evident proof to the permanent animosity of the camp of arrogance against the Islamic system of Iran. "Today, there are two sensitive points for the United States in the international arena: one, confrontation with Islam with special pressure on Islamic Iran; and second, the Palestinian issue. The American systems have focused their efforts on total elimination of the issue of Palestine from the agenda of the Islamic world and the Middle East so that no issue would remain in the name of Palestine and the ideal of the Palestinian movement. This is one of their main objectives."5
One the outstanding example of social developments that demonstrates the astonishing effect of the Islamic Revolution on popular movements, particularly those of the Islamic world, is the Palestinian Intifada and the popular uprising of the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupiers and transformation of the nature of struggles, from reliance on nationalism and materialistic values to reliance on the Islamic teachings.
On the other hand, the most vivid picture one can depict of the Zionist regime is a combination of savageries, tragedies of political Zionism, apartheid racism, and unbridled aggressive policies under the pretext of legitimate defense and struggle for existence which has created a legitimate backing inside the society as well as in some Western societies by relying on pseudo-sacred presuppositions.
Invasion and occupation of an Islamic country and the savageries of the occupiers inside the occupied territories through employment of the most sophisticated weapons and by resort to widespread, clever, false, propaganda strategies to project themselves innocent and distort the facts, is one side of the story. The other side of the story is oppression of Muslims living in the occupied territories and their depravation of the most fundamental facilities of life and defense that has indeed injured the feelings of every Muslim, underlining the need for adoption of proper strategies to confront the enemy, which requires unity of Muslim ummah and Islamic governments. There are a number of issues involved in the problem of Palestine including the weakness and indecisiveness of the Islamic governments, diversion from the right path of struggle and attention to materialistic incentives, utilitarianism of some apparently Muslim governments and clandestine dealings over the issue of Palestine, lack of awareness and wakefulness of Muslim nations, etc. As the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, the said issues has caused "the problem of Palestine to become the first Islamic international issue…What is our issue and problem today is that the issue of Palestine from the Islamic point of view is a fundamental issue and an obligation - for all the Muslims " for all of us. All the Shia and Sunni scholars, the predecessors as well, emphasize that if one part of the Islamic homeland is occupied by the enemy, it will be the duty of all to defend in order to be able to return the usurped territory. All are duty-bound vis-à-vis the issue of Palestine in accordance with their capabilities and abilities."6
*Adopted from the book: "Palestine Throbbing Heart of the World of Islam"
1. Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 12, P. 279.
2. Ayatollah Khamenei, Message on the Hajj occasion, April 10, 1997.
3. This section discusses the general aspects of the holy war from the viewpoint of Islamic sources as well as the conditions of time and space for the Islamic ruler with regard to the decree of holy war.
4. Ayatollah Khamenei, Message on the Hajj occasion, April 10, 1997.
5. Ayatollah Khamenei, Speech, December 14, 1998.
6. Ayatollah Khamenei, Friday Prayers Second Sermon, International Day of Quds, December 31, 1999.