Political aspects Of Imam Khomeini

The Islamic Revolution

Political aspects Of Imam Khomeini's overshadowed his other facets. As a consequence, his scholarship...

Political aspects Of Imam Khomeini

Political aspects Of Imam Khomeini's overshadowed his other facets. As a consequence, his scholarship in other fields of humanity is remained in obscurity. It is time to deal with his thought in an academic manner and shed the light on his works in order to grasp his thoughts and ideas. Imam Khomeini was an authority in Figh, Islamic philosophy, mysticism, as well as poetry. Thus, a through research on his works and thoughts are a worthy endeavor. Herein the content of a speech delivered by Hamid algar, Professor at Berkeley Univ. in New York on July 4th ,1994 are presented. With reference to certain verses from the Holly Quran, Hamid Algar offers the view that Imam was among those who were very firm against the unbelievers and merciful in dealing with the believers. In this speech he pointed Imam's greater political Jihad and his prediction of the disappearance of communism. He told that Imam exemplified all the dimensions of Islam simultaneously. Indeed, the more we study Imam's thoughts and works, his advises and declarations, the more we realize the great thinker and leader that he was.

When we speak of the greatness of a human being there is always a danger. Firstly, we know that greatness belongs to Allah alone. Second, if we call Imam Khomeini "great" this simply inserts him into a long list of figures who have exercised an important role in development of humanity. Speaking of the greatness of Imam, I wish to avoid both of these danger of attributing greatness to other than Allah and assuming Imam to be simply one more influential personality among others in recent history. When searching for an Ayat from the Holly Quran with which to open the presentation, entirely by chance I opened the Quran at the following:

O you who believe! If there are those among you who should turn away from their religion then Allah will bring forth a people whom He loves and who love Him, and they are humble to the believers and powerful and harsh towards the unbelievers. They struggle on the path of Allah and they fear not the censure of any censure. This is the super abundance of Allah that He grants to whom He wills, and Allah is all encompassing, all knowing. (5:54)﴿

It seems to me that this Ayat is, indeed the most appropriate of all possible Ayat of the Holly Quran with which to begin an evocation of the specific greatness of Imam. It's true that the verse refers to the plural (people), but Imam may be regarded as a supreme example of the category mentioned in our present stage. It immediately struck me, upon seeing the Ayat, that we have here an enumeration of many of the characteristics of the Imam. The first and foremost one is that his whole being was permeated by love of Allah, a love which enabled him to dispense with the illusions, the fears and the deficiencies that halt many of us in this world.

The same love which is mentioned in the Ayat. Next, the Imam was indeed among those who was gentle and humble towards the believers. The Imam, on one hand, was a manifestation of the power of Allah, one who brought about, by Allah's permission a tremendous transformation, which was none other than a manifestation of the Divine Power. Yes, at the same time he was a man who, in his behavior, in his comportment, was indeed humble before the believers and at the same time he was among those who were firm, powerful and unafraid with respect to the unbelievers. In fact, we may say that Imam also manifested the quality expressed in the Ayat were Allah says:

Muhammad, the Messenger, and those who are with him are extremely firm against the unbelievers, kind and merciful among themselves.(48:29)﴿

Imam was among those who were very firm against the unbelievers and merciful in dealing with the believers. The first Ayat, we mentioned speaks of Jihad. The word Jihad has had numerous misuses in the present age. The reality of Jihad, in the present age, is extremely rare. Of course, a multifaceted reality, its reality begins with an inner dimension. The inner Jihad, the Jihad Imam spoke of in the celebrated lecture delivered in Najaf, was clearly exemplified by him in his own person. Beyond that he declared jihad against the outward enemy and not necessarily a Jihad that involves recourse to weapons; but a Jihad definitely on occasion if necessary included that. Thus we find in the person of Imam one who practiced Jihad in all its comprehensive forms. The description of these people whom Allah shall bring forth continues:

And the fear not the censure of any censurer.(5:54).﴿

This is another necessary corollary of that first attribute that Allah has mentioned. "He loves them and they love Him", in other words there is a firm primary relationship of love between Allah and those of His chosen servants that are mentioned here. Once that a firm relationship of love is in existence, it follows that the believer should not fear the censure of any censurer. Out of fearlessness of any man comes a total disregard for reproaches of any kind from the enemies of Allah.

This is, of course, another very clear and outstanding attribute of Imam Khomeini. "And that is none other than the super abundance, the generosity of Allah." This combination of unique attributes is none other than the generosity of Allah, and it is, moreover, given by Him. He gives it, He bestows it, upon whomever He wills. It's not something to be acquired by efforts, which brings me to what I call, hesitantly and with reservations, the greatness of Imam. If we speak of the greatness of Imam, it is precisely because we see manifested in him qualities which were indeed the result of a divine gift. It is not a question of exertion on his part, although without doubt he was one whose whole life was devoted to conscientious effort and struggle. But in a certain sense we may say that the greatness of Imam was precisely a reflection of the greatness of Allah Himself. I hope this does not sound like an exaggerated form of expression to you. Let me clarify what I mean by examining two further Ayah:

First, Allah says:

To Allah belongs power and glory and to His Messenger and to the believers. however, the hypocrites do not know.(63:8)﴿

And in another Ayat, also referring to the hypocrites, Allah says:

Those who take the unbelievers as friends and protectors in preference to the believers do they expect to find power and glory? (4:139)﴿

Certainly, power and glory is to be found with Allah exclusively. How do you reconcile these two Ayats? The second one concludes by saying "Ezzat (greatness)" belongs exclusively to Allah while the first says it belongs to Allah and to his Messenger and to the believers. Clearly what is meant here is that power and glory as a matter of principal and in essence do indeed belong to Allah. However, insofar as the Messenger (peace be upon him and his household) is the instrument of Allah, then in them too is a reflection of the Divine Power. Taking this into account, I think when one speaks of the greatness of Imam, it is the greatness of Allah reflected in him in a certain fashion. But it is not his greatness it is the greatness of Allah manifested in the form of a choice human being. It struck me often, when studying the history of the Ulama of the Shi"a, how, in the twentieth century, titles have become extremely common. For example the title Ayatollah and the title Hujjatul Islam. As these titles became more common and easily applied, their value and meaning has not necessarily tended to decline. But, if one think of the true underlying meanings of these terms, I think we have a key to understanding what the role of Imam was, what the true nature of his personality was, and how we should understand his historical impact. Of course we refer to him as the Imam because he transcended by far, what is implied conventionally in terms of Ayatollah or still more Hujjatul Islam. Nonetheless, if one looks at the true sense of these two terms, one may say that the Imam is among those few people to whom the literal sense of those words applied. Ayatollah means a sign of Allah. It may be said that, potentially all human beings are signs of Allah, in that Allah manifested His attributes most comprehensively in man, but few human beings actually and practically are in the state of being a sign of Allah. Allah manifested His attributes in man in the mode of his functioning, his action as a vicegerent on earth bearing the responsibility of free will, and knowledge of right and wrong; all of these qualities make each man or woman a potential sign of Allah. However, that state remains, for the majority, merely potential and when one looks at such a people (including most of us), one sees a falling away from perfection, a failure to realize this potential.

There are those individuals in whom the divinely accorded function of vicegerency and instrument of Divine Will is realized, and it seems that Imam was one of those persons. He was a sign of Allah, who was emptied and purified of any individual volition, who was motivated and determined by the love of Allah. By his desire to serve Allah, by his wish to submerge himself in obedience to Allah, he achieved this high state.

* Source: Message of Thaqalayn, Vol. 1, No.4 p.49-57, October 1994
Published by: Ah al-beyt ("a)World Assembly, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.

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