Since all power and authority belongs to God, men in any office which confers authority must exercise their delegated power as stewards and ministers of God to men. Thus tyrants, imperialists, slavedrivers and exploiters of fellowmen are outlawed. Islam enhances each person's self-respect: it establishes that true and only equality open to man - the equality in surrender to God for His service amongst mankind. Such surrender enables each to find his place in the whole without faction, partisan rule or superiority. Each is his own master.
Islam champions and interprets human rights. It regulates every detail of personal and community life in equity. It is the trustee and guardian of freedom before the Lord- Its first and paramount thought is unity. It excludes no one - though some exclude themselves : it opposes no one-though some may oppose themselves to it. it makes no differences - though some may insist on being different. Muslim calls to Jew who calls to Mage who calls to Nazarene, saying: .-Why stand apart? Let us join in our common creed that God is One'."
It is written: (Qur'an: Sura III, Al-i-Imran -"lmran's Family" verse 62): ﴾Say: O Peoples of the Heavenly Books! Resort to that word which is common to us and you, which is that we worship none save GOD; that we associate no partners with HIM; that we exalt not from amongst ourselves any lord or patron other than GOD.﴿
The peoples of today's world yearn for unity, justice and freedom. They long to be saved from exploitation and war. They wander lost, like sheep gone astray. Let them turn to the sunshine of Islam's regulations of life and living. Under that common sun, all - black, white, red and yellow-are at one in justice, freedom and equality. For Islam, true excellence lies, not in the intellectual or manual attainments of people of differing gifts; but in the moral attainments of a pure heart. These are equally open to all whatever their other gifts. As it is written (Qur'an: Sura XLIX, Hujurat-"The Inner Apartments" verse 13): ﴾O Mankind: We created you from a male and a female; and made you into tribes and nations that you may get to know each other. and verily, most honoured before God is the most virtuous.﴿
The Prophet (on Whom be Peace!) explicitly affirmed: "Arab is not more privileged than non-Arab, nor white than black. Spiritual excellence and true piety is the only distinction amongst humans recognised by God."
After the Prophet's victory at Mecca, a proud self-seeking group of Arabs claimed privilege for their tongue and race. To them he said: "Thanks be to God that by the sublime doctrines of Islam He has freed you from the times of ignorance, and stripped off pride, conceit and power-lust. Know now that in the Courts of God only two groups exist. The group of the righteous who are precious in God's eyes : and the group of the sinful who hang their heads in shame."
A man said to the 8th Imam: "There exists no man on earth with an ancestry more noble than yours." To him the saint replied: 'Their greatness and honour lay in their piety and zeal to do God's will." By these words the Imam rebuked the man who wished to flatter and aggrandise the Imam's pedigree; and turned his mind to thoughts of piety. Another said to the Imam: "By God! You're the best man alive." The Imam replied: "No oaths, man! There lives a man who is better whose piety is greater and obedience to God more complete. In God it is true that that verse of the Qur'an has not yet been abrogated which says: 'Most honoured before God is the most virtuous'."
God's service is perfect freedom. It is neither restrictive nor limiting. Restrictions diminish a man's capacities and happiness. But to serve God clothes the soul in the whole armour of God, protects when evil attacks, and foils all the fiery darts of the wicked.
True, serving God means obeying His laws. But this obedience is the free choice of love. And His laws are those absolute moral standards which formulate the essence of man's true nature, as his Creator means him to be at his best.
No man who has bowed his neck beneath the yoke of money-grubbing or power-seeking can ever enjoy a free life in a free society. The Imam Ali said: "'Piety is the key to honesty and purity and to the acquirement of merit in store against judgment-day. It is freedom from the chains of every bondage; salvation from the blows of every adversity. Piety puts a man's aim within his reach, wards off evil, his soul's foe, and assists him to attain his heart's desires."1
Remember that he gave this message in an epoch when violence, oppression, wrong, class wars and racial strife raged amongst men. Distinctions repugnant to reason, to virtue and to freedom were rife. The weak and the poor were bereft of every human right and social safeguard. With matchless moral courage the pioneer of Islam outlawed all those differences and conflicts, so illegitimate, so superstitious and so mistaken. He replaced them with the command that equality and perfect equity should be observed for all individuals. He ordained that, under the auspices of total submission to the will of God, every sort of reasonable freedom should be put within the possession of men; in such a way that the underprivileged classes of society which had never before had any sort of power to express their desires but had merely provoked the reaction of violence and oppression if they dared to protest against the will of the powerful ruling classes, should now, under the lifegiving justice of Islamic laws, find the political and social power they lacked, and shoulder to shoulder move forward until they had their full and rightful share in the leadership of their nations.
* By Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari.
1- Nahj-ul-Balaghe: 227.