The Islamic Revolution and Superior Station of Spiritual Interests
By: Ayatullah Professor Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi
One of the intricate questions raised is: If in a case material progress conflicts with spiritual advancement, which should take precedence? If under specific circumstances of time and space, the material progress of society demands the setting aside of spiritual advancement and there is a conflict between material/economic progress and spiritual interests, is the government duty-bound to limit material progress in order to protect the spiritual interests of society? Or, is securing the spiritual interests not the concern of the political system and government? Or, is the duty of government to only provide for the material needs and securing the spiritual interests is a personal responsibility of the people themselves?
This is a very serious question, and it has practical results in our social life. Nowadays, it is widely brought up in periodicals and the mass media and dispute arises over it. There are those who say that the government’s duty is to deal with political, economic and cultural development. The manifestations of cultural development for others are preservation of national heritage, sports and music. For us they are spiritual interests.
Those who are fond of Islam and support the Islamic Revolution give special importance to spiritual interests. We believe realization of that the main motive behind the Islamic Revolution was maintenance at spiritual interests. Of course, we are of the opinion that under the auspices of Islam material interests—in due time—will be secured, but in a short period some material interests maybe arbitrarily affected. In spite of this, along the path of their firm conviction in divine spiritual values and the protection of spiritual interests, our people actually proved that they were ready to endure economic sanctions, inflation, and scarcity of consumer goods.
They were ready to sacrifice their beloved ones on the battlefield and become widows and orphans in order to keep Islam and the spiritual values firmly grounded. For instance, the last testaments of martyrs show that their objective was the protection of Islam and preservation of spiritual values. In view of what has been said, at least for us there is also another criterion apart from materials interests, and that is securing the spiritual interests. If securing the interests is one of the criteria of credibility of law, in our opinion “interests” include both material and spiritual interests.
To examine the interests of society and determine their indicators is a more insightful and profound endeavor than that which is discussed in political philosophy and legal philosophy. The axis of the discussion revolves around these questions: Does man truly have real interests apart from the material ones? Or, are his interests the same material interests plus a set of customs and traditions that sometimes change? Does he have no other interests within the context of spiritual and ideological needs?
Are the real interests and needs the same material things which can be contained within scientific experiments and be identified through material indicators such as medical, economic, industrial and technological developments? Or, are there also spiritual and ideological interests above them which cannot be experienced by the senses?
We believe that the real interests are the same spiritual and ideological interests which are related to the metaphysical world, and so to speak, are not part of scientific issues and cannot be proved through the scientific method which is no other than the empirical one. So, before saying that spiritual interests must be secured in society and that the government is duty-bound to secure them—if we only want to engage in an evidential discussion—we will have to deal with this question: Do we really have interests other than material ones?