Imam Khomeini,Founder of the Islamic Revolution Philosophical Aspect (part 1)
Imam Khomeini,Founder of the Islamic Revolution Philosophical Aspect (part 1)
By Syed Saqib Akbar
The 43rd anniversaryof Islamic Revolution of Iran is fast approaching. Its influence is growing all around world. Hardships have always been there; instead they are ever increasing. However, the important question for the people around the globe is what are the reasons behind spiritual impact and growing popularity among the weak and oppressed nationsof this revolution that took place in a relatively small country?
In our opinion, it is very important to properly know and recognize Imam Khomeini, the founder of the revolution, in order to ascertain the answer,because the spirit of the revolution has sprung from the thoughts and soul of Imam Khomeini and this revolution is ever-growing because of him.
We, first, knew Imam Khomeini as a principled jurist. Then we knew about his political thoughts through the translation of his book “Wilayat-e-Faqih or Islamic Government”. Some of his ethical articles were also rendered into Urdu. Then, in the seventies, all of a sudden his revolutionary movement broke out, and it spread all across. Although those who had a close watch on global politics and regional movements were aware of the Imam Khomeini-led resistance movement against the tyrannical rule, religious waywardness and the interference of US imperialism in Iran in the 1960s, and some had even links with Imam Khomeini.
Once the revolution took place, revolutionary thoughts of Imam Khomeini started resounding everywhere. Some of his slogans became popular in the world politics. Muslims were greatly influenced by his message. Even then, some aspects of his life remained hidden from average man. His mystical and philosophical aspect is one of these aspects, because this aspect has the key role in shaping his practical and intellectual personality and this is his real personality, which is still an underlying factor in the revolutionary existence and struggle. There has always been disagreement over the identity and interpretation of Islamin the Muslim world. Some consider some branches of knowledge as inevitable and some consider them as rejected. Some people value some people and some hate and ridicule them. The method of identifying the religionprovides the basis of this difference.
The great mystics and philosophers have always been targeted andslapped with fatwas by traditionalists. This has not been confined to a particular Muslim school-of-thought; insteadthis phenomenon has been prevalent among all major schools-of-thought with a varying degree. Imam Khomeini was attracted to the study of philosophy and its teaching since adulthood. Although, he gained the knowledge of other branches as well, even became one of the top jurists of his time in the field of jurisprudence, yet an influential group of scholars and their followers was present in the seminary of Qum itself whoconsidered the studying and teaching of philosophy as Kufr and Imam Khomeini was also subject to this fatwa.
In one of his well-known letters, Manifesto of Spirituality, he writes: “The seminary is witnessing a situation where everyone who would walk in somewhat bent manner is considered more religious. Learning a foreign language was considered as kufr.Philosophy and mysticism [tasawuf] were considered a sin and shirk. Once, at the Faiziya Madrasa, my younger son, the late Mustafa, drank water from a jug and it was rewashed because I used to teach philosophy.”
In other words, Imam Khomeini was a disbeliever in the eyes of these scholars and students because he was teaching philosophy and his younger son was also a disbelieverlike his father as per the decree. Because the jug had become najas [unpurified] since he had drunk water from it, and so it was now necessary to be purified for being used again according to Shariah.
At the international level, this aspect of Imam Khomeini came to the light when he sent a letter to the last President of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev, through Ayatollah JawadiAmli, a great scholar of mysticism and philosophy and his student. In the letter, he explicitly predicted the decline of communism and beautifully highlighted the weaknesses of its concept of universe with simple philosophical and natural arguments and invited him to the knowing (identity) of the metaphysical world. In the same letter, he also mentioned names of various great Muslim scholars and mystics and said that if you want to know the reality of the universe, you need to study these personalities.
He also asked him to send some of his talented scholars to Qum, so that they can stay there for some time and get its understanding. In this regard, he writes: “For now, I set aside the Holy Qur’an and the arguments related to the revelation, prophecy and resurrection, because this is my first letter to you. In principle, I did not want to confuse you with the complexities of philosophical issues, especially the Islamic philosophy. I restrict myself to just a few simple, natural and instinctive examples, as political people can also benefit from them.
It is one of the eternal realities that matter and body, whatever they may be, are unaware of themselves. One side of a stone statue or a material statue or a human statue is hidden from its other side, while we know well that man and animals are aware of their surroundings, they [especially men] know where they are and what is happening around them, and what is going on in the world.
Therefore, animals and men have something different, which is beyond matter and it is separate from the matter. It does not die from the death of matter and remains alive. Man by nature wants all perfection for himself. You know very well that man wants the absolute power of the world and not to be attached to any power which is imperfect. If the whole world is under the control of man and he comes to know that there is another world, then naturally he is inclined to gain control over this world too. No matter how knowledgeable a man is, if it is said that there are also other branches of knowledge, he is naturally inclined to learn them as well. It is, therefore,inevitable that power should be absolute and so should be knowledge, so that man may be attracted to it, and this power and knowledge is attributed to Allah Almighty, to whom we are all attracted, though we do not know it. Man wants to reach the Absolute Truth, till he vanishes in God. In principle, the desire for eternal life in the human nature is a sign of the existence of a world which is eternal and safe from death.
If you wish to do a research on these issues, then besides the books of the philosophers of the West who are interested in the subject, you should turn to the books of Farabi and Avicenna (may Allah have mercy on them) on the topic so that it may be clear that the law of cause and effect, on which all kinds of knowledge is based, is rational, not tangible.
Similarly, general meanings and general rules on which all kinds of reasoning is based are reasonable.You may also refer to the books of Suhrawardi (may Allah have mercy on him), which reflect on philosophy of the East [Hikmat-e-Ishraq]. These books will make it clear to you that the body and every other material is because of a pure light [khalisnoor] which is free from the senses and the understanding of human being about his real being is beyond sensory manifestations.
You may ask great teachers to study the profound philosophy of Mulla Sadra Sadrul-mota’alliheen (may God bless him and grant him peace) so that it may be known that real being is a separate entity from material being. I am not going to put you in any more trouble and do not mention the books of mystics especially Mohi-ud-Din IbnArabi, and if you want to know the discourses of this great man, then send some of the intelligent scholars who have an expertise on such issues, to Qum so that, by the grace of Allah, they may be acquainted with the subtlest and deepest details of marifat [knowing], within a few years. And remember that it is not possible to be aware of these issues without a journey. ”
This letter not only makes the world aware about the intellectual and philosophical aspect of Imam Khomeini, it also makes it clear that this was the underlying factor behind his understanding of the universe and Islamic revolutionary movement.