Imam Khomeini Founder of the Islamic Revolution Philosophical Aspect (Part-2)

Published by Saqib Akbar on

Syed Saqib Akbar

Imam Khomeini, Founder of the Islamic Revolution Philosophical Aspect (Part-2)

By Syed Saqib Akbar

Imam Khomeini’s letter to Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, which was written almost 34 years ago, was seen as a strange and bold move by the people around the world. The letter also caught attention in Pakistan. It was published on the editorial page of the daily Jang and the Urdu speaking people came to know what was written in it. When I read it, I realized that some parts of the letter need clarification as without its interpretation, the Urdu-speaking people will not be able to understand it properly. I wrote a brief description of the letter and sent it to the daily Jang. The newspaper gave it space on its editorial page the same way it published the translation of the original letter. Then, all of a sudden, the letter came under discussion all across the country. Many friends published its translation along with interpretation in the form of booklets or pamphlets.

Inviting the Soviet Union to the religion and its reality was seen as a source of pride for a Muslim society, but at the same time a narrow-minded circle of clerics who were not happy with Imam Khomeini, had somewhat, got an excuse  in the form of the said letter. Some called Imam Khomeini names because of their enmity towards philosophy and some because of their hatred against Sufism. There were still some who feared closure of their shops due to emergence of Imam Khomeini on the political arena, and there were those who started writing books and pamphlets against him.

This group, somehow, continues with its task even, today. These are the sort of people whom Imam Khomeini in his ‘Manshoor-e-Rohaniat’ [Manifesto of Spirituality] has referred as people with depraved nature and temperament, narrow-mindedness and crooked understanding of the religion. These people are present in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries. However, many people do not openly oppose Imam Khomeini because of his God-bestowed popularity and acceptance at the global level.However, such people, more or less, do exist.

We are also often abused; some people abuse us on one pretext and some on other. One of them is the same group, which is opposed to philosophy and mysticism. When we say this we mostly mean the state of mind within the Shiite circle. Although the decline of philosophy and true Islam is pervasive throughout the Muslim world, many prominent Sunni figures have been opposed to the philosophy. Due to the self-righteousness of Imam Khomeini and his associates, Sufism and philosophy gained a foothold among the Shiites to some extent, but the plight of this branch of science among the Sunni school-of-though can be seen and understood in the following quadruple by Altaf Hussain Hali, which he wrote prior to Musaddas:

پستی کا کوئی حد سے گزرنا دیکھے
اسلام کا گر کر نہ ابھرنا دیکھے
مانے نہ کبھی کہ مد ہے ہر جزر کے بعد
دریا کا ہمارے جو اترنا دیکھے

[Look at the degradation

Don’t see the rise of Islam after its fall

Never accept that there is a rise after every fall

Seeing the river falling down]

All the great men associated with the world of philosophy have always insisted on the need for understanding and acquiring the knowledge of philosophy before criticizing it. Aristotle, the first philosopher, says it is necessary to be a philosopher to criticize the Aql [intellect] and reject philosophy, and if the intellect has overtaken the intellect, then the one who has succeeded is the intellect. Intellectuals and philosophers say that the criticism that has been made against the intellect means the partial intellect. We see a great battle between Aql and Ishq [intellect and love]. The fact is, all great people, including Allama Iqbal, who criticized the intellect, is of that nature. We do come across such Muqamat [stations] in Imam Khomeini as well. Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari has seconded Aristotle that to be critique of philosophy the study of philosophy is very important.

Since adulthood, Imam Khomeini was a perfect and brilliant scholar of  Hikmat-e-Muta’āliyah [transcendent theosophy]. At the age of 27, he wrote Sharh du’a Saḥar [Commentary of Sahar supplication]. By this time, he had studied all the philosophical theories in depth, even had presented his own theories on certain issues. His teachers in philosophy were Ayatollah Rafi’i Qazvini and the late Hajj Mirza Ali Akbar Hakim. The late Ayatollah Hassanzadeh Amili says that one day when he went to Ayatollah Rafi’i, he said, “This Syed [Imam Khomeini] is very intelligent and will perform a big task in his life.”

After studying philosophy, Imam Khomeini started teaching it. Ustaad Mirza Ashtiani says that Imam Khomeini taught Sharh Manzooma and Asfar for fifteen years. Imam Khomeini used to advise students to learn philosophy from competent people. He did not write a book on philosophy on his own; however, added a commentary to Asfar’s “Mubhas-e-Iradah” in the name of ‘Al-Hashiya ala al-asfar’ [Marginal notes on al-Asfar]. Imam Khomeini had a high stature in philosophy. He gave lectures at various places on the most important topics of rational sciences. He espouses some special and modern ideas, even though he spoke more on mysticism than philosophy. It can be rather said that his philosophy has an eastern touch. We will explain some of his philosophical views in the next article.


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