Monotheism and justice: The Holy Prophet’s (S) gifts to humanity
By: Ayatollah al-Uzma Sayyid Ali Khamenei
The birthday anniversary of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) is the day of reflecting on the endless blessings that originate from him. One can say that the greatest blessing of the Holy Prophet’s (S) birth was the gift of monotheism and justice that was bestowed on human communities. Humanity is still suffering from polytheism in an era of scientific progress and great intellectual advances. This is the case even in countries that have made a lot of progress on a materialistic level.
Therefore, it is clear that having faith in monotheism despite all the blessings requires spirituality and this spirituality cannot be achieved except through rationality that is guided by divine revelations. This was the gift that the Holy Prophet (S) gave to humanity, just as the previous divine prophets had. Faith in monotheism affects one’s heart and soul and even one’s daily life in certain ways and it is necessary to think about the ways in which monotheism affects us and to move towards the blessings of monotheism.
Another great gift that Allah the Exalted has bestowed on humanity as a result of the Holy Prophet’s (S) birth is justice, the gift of justice to human beings who have been suffering from injustice. Since the beginning of time up until today, injustice has been the biggest problem of humanity. The religion that was bestowed on humanity as a result of the Holy Prophet’s (S) birth is calling human beings to noble concepts such as monotheism and justice.
Therefore, the blessings which originate from the birth of the Holy Prophet (S) belong to all humanity that is to say, anybody can make use of the blessings. Moreover, the blessings are not limited to a particular era. Today human beings still need to return to pure monotheism, Islamic justice and the prescription that Islam has offered for justice.
“Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty).” 1
That is to say, Islam calls human beings to piety and fear of God. It calls on human beings to sideline the factors that create discord, factors such as ethnicity, race, skin color and other such things.
Today the most advanced countries in the world are still dealing with the problem of skin color. Black people and white people each have defined delineations in societies. There are still conflicts over race and ethnicity. Many lives are being destroyed because of conflicts between different fake ethnicities and nationalities. Many people are being killed over these issues. The rights of many people are being trampled upon and many people are displaced. Therefore, humanity is still in need of calls to unity, monotheism and justice. And Islam and Muslims are the standard-bearers in this regard.
Who is opposed to this? Powerful people who are benefiting from the existence of discord, powerful people who are benefiting from the existence of polytheism, powerful people who are benefiting from lack of justice, powerful people whose existence is based on discrimination.
Today powerful people of the materialistic world namely, the same people who are shouting slogans in support of democracy in their own countries, the same people who are claiming to promote democracy and equal rights, the same people who are claiming to be opposed to autocratic governments have destroyed democracy in the world.
They have discriminated between nations, geographical regions and races and thus they have made autocracy prevail in the world so that they remain in charge of running the world. These are the conditions of human beings today. And we see that today humanity is in need of the Holy Prophet of Islam’s (S) calls to monotheism and justice. We people of Iran decided to name this week “Unity Week” and in this week our magnanimous Imam (may God bestow paradise on him), who always promoted Muslim unity, helped the call to unity reach all Muslims and all people who are after justice.
Unity Week: An initiative to address the need for monotheism and justice
“Unity Week” is an appropriate name. Thankfully, there is unity among the people of Iran, regardless of their social and professional backgrounds and the paths they follow. Despite all the efforts that are made to foment discord and design machinations, the people of Iran are united and are moving in the same direction: the direction that has been specified by Islam, the direction that has been specified by the Holy Quran, the direction that has been specified by religious rule.
And there is no discrimination between Shia and Sunni or between different ethnicities, including Persians, Arabs, Azeris, Turkmens, Baluchis, Kurds and others. The Iranian nation is a unified nation. Thanks to Islam, the Iranian nation is indeed an exemplary nation. It is a successful role model among Muslim nations. May God be satisfied with you people of Iran for your sincere acceptance of the call of Islam and our magnanimous Imam (r.a).
It is necessary to preserve this unity. The valuable unity which helped you achieve victory has enemies who are lying in ambush. You should be vigilant. You should not allow discord to be created. Whenever there are pretexts that the enemy can use to foment discord, you should be more careful. You should be more careful regarding the issue of sectarian differences, which the enemies have been using to their advantage for many centuries. Both Shia and Sunni Muslims should be careful. 2
Mab’ath: An event that is as great as creation of man
If somebody wanted to describe the importance of this auspicious day in words, it might be impossible for him to find the right words to describe the greatness and importance of Be’that. This is because many words have been used in figurative senses and they do not have the capacity to describe the greatness of this event. One may say that for example, Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S) is an event that should be compared with the creation of man. This comparison would show how great and important Be’that is.
Goals of Be’that
1. Spiritual purification and the teaching of the Book of wisdom
The lesson that we can learn from Mab’ath should be at the level of our understanding and our capacity to make use of it. In brief, what can be understood is that Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S) has specified a particular goal on the individual level as well as the social level. On the individual level, what is important is the need to transform human beings, which has been mentioned in certain Ayahs in the Holy Quran. For example, it has been mentioned in this holy Ayah from Sura Aal-e Imran: “Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them theBook and the wisdom.” 3
This purification and the teaching of the Book and the wisdom are the same as inner transformation of human beings. In order to fulfill the purpose of their creation, human beings should first achieve the goal behind Be’that of divine prophets. That is to say, they should transform themselves on an individual level. They should improve themselves and cleanse themselves of corruption, evil, flaws and evil temptations which exist in their hearts and which drag the world into corruption. This is the individual level. This is one purpose of Be’that.
2. Completing moral virtues
Elsewhere it has been said: “I was appointed as prophet in order to complete moral virtues.” 4 Again, this refers to the same points, namely purification of man, leading human beings towards wisdom, helping people out of ignorance and bringing them into a life of wisdom and understanding. This is the individual level.
3. Social justice
On the social level, the goal that has been specified is social justice.
“Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance so that men may conduct themselves with equity.” 5
Equity is different from justice. Justice is a broad concept. Justice is the noble and outstanding concept that exists in the individual and social life of people and in the fabric of all events that happen in the world. Justice is an accurate act of balancing. Justice is balanced and appropriate behavior: remaining moderate and avoidance of drifting towards extremes. This is the meaning of justice. But our understanding of equity is the kind of justice that is related to social relationships, namely what we refer to as “social justice”.
This is different from justice in the broad sense of the word. Although divine prophets were generally moving towards the broad sense of justice, it has been mentioned that “the heavens and the earth were established with justice.” 6The heavens and the earth have been built on moderation, justice and the act of balancing, but equity is an urgent need and human beings are thirsty for it. They cannot live with anything less than equity. Equity means breaking down justice into social justice.
“So that men may conduct themselves with equity.” 7
This is the purpose of appointing prophets.
Man cannot live in the shade of injustice, oppressive behavior, aggression, transgression and reliance on bullying and coercion. This is not life: it is hell. Divine prophets came to build a paradise in this world. Of course, if we look at it carefully, divine prophets’ goal on the social level is a prelude to help human beings achieve the individual goal, namely inner transformation, improvement and perfection of man.
Anything that you see in this world is in its right place if it yields the desired benefits. Human beings were not created to hurt each other. They were not created to feel envious of each other. They were not created to appropriate everything at the cost of depriving each other. They were not created to fill the world with evil. They were not created to stick to trivial matters and disregard perfection and values. Human beings were not created for these purposes. They were created to do good deeds, to be helpful, to move forward, and to move towards perfection. If a person moves towards perfection, if the path he chooses proves to be beneficial for himself and for others, that person has achieved inner transformation and purification. These are the goals of Be’that.
The Urgent need for the message of Be’that among contemporary people
Today hundreds of people and authors throughout the world are sponsored by organizations affiliated with the arrogant powers to speak and write against spirituality, religion, Islam and all Islamic movements and they pretend that this materialistic order in the world and the current domineering system that prevails in the world are good and that Islam should not find fault with this domineering system. In these conditions, are human beings not in need of Be’that?
Do human beings not want to purify themselves any longer? Is it not a flaw that every human being is only thinking about his own comfort even at the cost of imposing sufferings on others? Is it not a flaw if respect for values no longer exists among human beings and everybody is satisfied with his conditions? Is it not a flaw if people try to safeguard the piece of bread that they are holding in their hands so that thugs do not take it away from them? Are the current conditions good? Is such an order and such an international system what has been promised to mankind? Is it not necessary to do anything to improve that system? Is it not necessary for human beings to start a movement and give rise to a Be’that? Is it not the case that the law of the jungle is the dominant system in the world or at least in a major portion of the world? Is there any sign of equity?
If you consider different parts of the world, you will notice that in different countries whose populations are in the millions, a number of people are killed by a number of other people, their homes are destroyed, female members of their families are assaulted, they do not have medicine, they do not have food, they do not have peace of mind, they do not have security, and yet the world makes no genuine move to resolve their problems. In the case of the tragic and bitter event that is happening in Bosnia-Herzegovina, why are they killing the people? Do they have any reason for what they are doing? If they have an ethnic reason, this is not the way they should act. If they have a religious reason, this is not the right way to act.
When an entire people are annihilated or forced to live in refugee camps in order to completely destroy their respect, does this not show the dominance of brutality and the law of the jungle? If there were serious reactions from different parts of the world, from Europe, from America, from Asia and from Islamic countries the day when the Serbs attacked Muslims of Bosnia, if the Serbs had been put in their place, this would have shown that although there is corruption in the world, there is also improvement and goodness. We see that such things do not happen in the world. 8
The importance of the Holy Prophet’s (S) birth
The birth of the Holy Prophet (S) is important and very significant to Muslims for several reasons. The first reason is that the Holy Prophet (S) was born at a time when humanity and not just a particular nation or the people of a particular country enjoyed two major characteristics.
One of the characteristics was that from scholarly and intellectual perspectives, the people of that era were far more advanced than the people who lived in previous eras. Philosophy had emerged and a number of scholars were living among them. There were great mathematicians, physicians and engineers among them. Civilizations had been built.
Those civilizations could not have been built in the absence of knowledge. Academies in the west and in the east, the Chinese civilization, the Egyptian civilization and other great civilizations had already emerged in the world. That is to say, humanity had improved. This was one of the characteristics.
The second characteristic was that humanity had declined in terms of ethics, or we might say humanity was at the peak of decadence at that time. It is very strange that humanity had these two characteristics at the same time. Although the people of that era were knowledgeable, they were also suffering from extreme prejudice, superstitions, selfishness and oppression and from anti-human governments that used to kill their own people. This was the situation of the world.
If you read history books, you will realize that the entire humanity had been enslaved at that time. As the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says, “Through them Satan's emblems were flown and his standard was raised in vices which trampled the people under their hoofs, and treaded upon them with their feet. The vices stood on their toes (in full stature) and the people immersed in them were strayed, perplexed, ignorant and seduced as though in a good house with bad neighbors.
Instead of sleep they had wakefulness.” 9 The worst cases of Fitna, pressure, tribulation and fratricide. Human beings were living in bitter conditions. “Instead of sleep they had wakefulness.” In this sermon, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says that the people could not even sleep well.
It is wrong to think that these problems were particular to the Arabian Peninsula. No, this is not the case. If you consider the case of the Roman Empire namely, the cradle of civilization at that time you will see that the same things existed there as well. Even in the Roman Empire where it was claimed that there was democracy and the Senate the people were suffering from certain forms of autocracy and corruption and if you read the history books which have been written about the conditions of the Roman Empire, you will feel ashamed in your heart.
One feels ashamed that there was a time when humanity was suffering from that much decadence. The conditions of our ancient Iran were not better than Rome in this regard. The ancient Persians had power, swords, spears and brave warriors, but they were also suffering from extreme class distinctions, oppression, discrimination, corruption, bullying, ignorance and superstition. In such conditions, the Holy Prophet (S), the Messenger of God, was born to save humanity.
It has been written in certain history books that the battlements of the Persian king’s castle collapsed and the icons of idolatry and polytheism were shaken in different corners of the world. If these historical sources are valid, it may be that they were signs of a show of divine power, a divine code that was used to announce the emergence of the power that would crush the foundations of oppression and corruption and would cleanse science of superstition and civilization of corruption and oppression. And this was what our honorable Prophet (S) did.
This was the world that the Holy Prophet (S) was faced with at the time of his Be’that and through strenuous struggle, he liberated human beings from ignorance, from superstition, from corruption, from oppression, from destructive prejudices against one another, from bullying each other and from trying to dominate one another.
Basically, he transformed the conditions of humanity. He created new conditions in the world. It is obvious that it was not the Holy Prophet’s (S) responsibility to reform the world. No, his responsibility was to receive knowledge through divine revelations and to pass it on to human beings so that they use it in every moment of their lives. The discussion about who used this knowledge and who did not is a different issue. The important point is that the Holy Prophet (S) completed his mission before he passed away and joined the Creator.
A comparison between current conditions and the conditions of the era of Be’that
And today the Holy Prophet’s (S) birthday anniversary is important in that the world is at its peak in terms of scientific progress and at its Nadir in terms of ethics. The world has come to a point where the domineering powers blatantly present good as evil and evil as good, and they are doing this in front of the eyes of the people of the world. In my opinion, as far as the corrupt and decadent human world is concerned, nothing is more important than this.
There is a narration from the Holy Prophet (S) which says: “Certain people will emerge who will advise people to do evil deeds and to avoid good deeds.” And when he saw his audience was surprised, he said: “Evil deeds will be considered good deeds.” One feels that the materialistic, unrestrained, arrogant and domineering powers of the world are giving rise to such conditions in the world. They tell lies in a boldfaced way and they consider lying a virtuous act. They encourage oppression and they give every right to their oppressors. They criticize the oppressed and humiliate them, and they believe that they are doing the right thing.
These are the conditions of the world today. A number of people migrated to Palestine and occupied it, and they did not limit themselves to occupation. They have constantly pressured Palestinian Muslims and they have displaced, killed and humiliated the Palestinians. This is an obvious example of evil deeds. Who would not criticize a person who has forced his way into your home and is hitting you on the head? Oppressors must be criticized. Today you see that Europeans powers, America, their subordinates, those who are carrying the burden for America and Europe and are being controlled by them, the governments that have been installed by America and have lost contact with their own people all of them have joined hands to support the work of the oppressors who have committed this obvious oppression and are continuing it.
On the other hand, whenever the frustrated Muslim youth of Palestine and Lebanon carry out Jihad against these oppressors, voices of protest start emerging from different corners: “These people are terrorists.
They are causing oppression. Why did you kill them? Why did you hurt them? Why did you not surrender? Why did you not negotiate with them?” This is while their Jihad is praiseworthy to all wise people throughout the world.
Love for the Holy Prophet (S): A point of unity and a way forward
My dear ones, it is easier for Muslims of the world to unite in the name of the Holy Prophet (S). This is the characteristic of the Holy Prophet (S). I have pointed out on various occasions that the Holy Prophet (S) is the focal point of Muslim affections and that Muslims love their Prophet (S). Dear God, You can testify that our hearts are full of love for the Holy Prophet (S). It is necessary to make use of this love. This love for the Holy Prophet (S) can resolve Muslims' problems. Today Muslims are in need of brotherhood. Today the slogan of “the believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren” 10
-is more serious than ever before. Today the weakness and humiliation that Muslims in different countries are suffering from is due to this discord and lack of unity.
If Muslims had united, this would not have happened to Palestine, those events would not have happened in Bosnia, those things would not have happened in Kashmir, those events would not have happened in Tajikistan. All of these things happen because we are suffering from discord.
The Islamic Republic called Muslims to unity and all the arrogant powers attacked it. Of course, the Islamic Republic fought them all. Why did the arrogant powers attack the Islamic Republic? Because the Islamic Republic had called Muslims to unity and the arrogant powers are opposed to unity. Muslim unity is not in the interest of the arrogant powers. For this reason, they try to destroy Muslim unity.
I would say that Shia and Sunni scholars should be vigilant wherever they are, particularly religious scholars who live in our dear country. A heavy price has been paid for this unity in our country. A heavy price has been paid to establish the call for unity in the world. Do not carelessly destroy this unity. Whoever does so is a traitor – no matter who he is, no matter whether he is Shia or Sunni. 11
The spiritual importance of the day of Mab’ath is far more than can be explained by people like myself. However, there are certain points that can be discussed regarding the effect of Be’that on the lives of people in different historical eras.
Be’that took place to fill a vacuum and humanity truly needed it. Allah the Exalted in His wisdom determined that this great event should happen in a place where the true meaning of Be’that would gain prominence and go down in history without being contaminated with the established concepts of those times. The point we should pay attention to is that the last Be’that might have taken place in the Roman Empire, in Greece of those days or in other advanced countries.
At the time of Be’that, there were great civilizations in the world. There were nations that had knowledge of philosophy and other areas and enjoyed civil awareness. The last Be’that could have happened in those countries or regions. But Allah the Exalted determined that this Be’that which was supposed to benefit humanity, for God knows how many millennia should not happen in those places. He determined that this Be’that should not happen in a place where other factors would interfere at the time of the inception of this idea and this invitation.
At that time, there were great civilizations in the western part of the world. The way they treated the Holy Prophet (S) shows that they were civilized people. One example is the people of the city of Antioch and in Sura al-Yasin Allah the Exalted simultaneously recounts the story of three prophets who were sent there and how the people of that city showed ingratitude. This is not an insignificant point. History books contain certain things about those nations. Allah the Exalted determined that the Holy Prophet should not be sent to that place.
The areas of knowledge that had developed elsewhere did not exist in the Arabian Peninsula. There was only polytheism and primitive areas of knowledge that were contaminated with polytheism. You see that the Holy Quran is seriously opposed to polytheism.
Anything that is contaminated with polytheism is rejected in Islam. Apart from this, Islam was introduced to humanity in a pure form and it spread to different parts of the world in a pure form. Wherever Islam spread, it revealed its sharpness and salience in its confrontation with different civilizations and cultures until those who were promoting Islam and their call to Islam gradually Sura al-Ikhlas has highlighted “He begets not, nor is He begotten” very much. In this four-Ayah sura, “He begets not, nor is He begotten” has been placed at the heart of the sura. Also “and none is like Him” 12 has been stressed and highlighted. The purpose is to erase polytheism from minds and to prevent the message of God from being mixed up with polytheism.
Anything that is contaminated with polytheism is rejected in Islam. Apart from this, Islam was introduced to humanity in a pure form and it spread to different parts of the world in a pure form. Wherever Islam spread, it revealed its sharpness and salience in its confrontation with different civilizations and cultures until those who were promoting Islam and their call to Islam gradually lost their original purity. However, this Be’that will remain permanent for humanity and this is the characteristic of Be’that of the Seal of Prophets (S). That is to say, whenever the world and human life becomes devoid of spirituality, the teachings that the Holy Quran promotes can step in and fill the vacuum. The quality of Islamic teachings is such that the force which exists in the Islamic system of laws and teachings can fill spiritual vacuums in all conditions and provide humanity with an opportunity to live in a spiritual environment.
The need for Islam’s rational and spiritual prescription: A similarity between the current era and the era of Be’that Today we are in one of those situations. What are the conditions that have to be met before a call gains ground among nations and countries and attracts attention? First, the call has to be rational and reasonable. Any claim that distances Islam from its rational foundation will work against the growth and spread of Islam. Those who comment on Islamic issues should pay attention to this point.
Islam is a religion that is based on rationality. Islam is a religion that can be understood, appreciated and accepted by healthy minds. This is the characteristic of Islam. This does not mean that every Islamic ruling should be accompanied by a rational justification. Why does the dawn prayer consist of two Raka’at? Does this require a rational justification? No. Similarly, it does not mean that any rational reasoning that comes to mind could be found in Islam. Rather, it means that Islamic teachings which are judged by religious experts to originate from Islam, can be defended in any rational and scholarly setting. It is possible to make even the most materialistic people understand what prayer is and why Islam has made it obligatory.
A famous western intellectual from the 19th century, which was the century of impiety in the west, says that prayer contains a great secret. I do not want to mention the name of that intellectual, but he is famous. Yes, if prayer did not contain a great secret, an intellectual in that materialistic context would not have said such a thing. Just, scholarly and logical people can understand all Islamic teachings. They can appreciate and accept all Islamic teachings. This is the characteristic of Islam.
Therefore, being logical and rational is one of the characteristics of Islam. Those who try to distance Islam from this characteristic, those who promote the idea that Islamic teachings go against science and rationality, those who attribute to Islam what is not Islamic and cannot be confirmed and accepted by sound minds such people are definitely working against the spread of Islam and they are not at all helping Islam. This characteristic of Islam is an inherent quality that can help Islam spread in the world.
Another characteristic of Islam is that it is spiritual and divine. That is to say, Islam is not like the picture that is presented of Christianity whose spiritual aspects dominate its worldly aspects. Islam considers the world as part of the hereafter. Your life, your business activities, your studies, your bureaucratic work and your political activities are part of your afterlife. The world is part of the hereafter. The acts that you perform with good intentions are virtuous deeds that will help you achieve closeness to God and high spiritual positions in the hereafter. If, God forbid, you do certain things out of selfishness, those things will lead to spiritual decline and your downfall.
This is how Islam is. Everything that exists in our life and all our worldly efforts are part of our afterlife. The world is not separate from the hereafter. What is bad is that you perform your daily activities with bad intentions. This is what is meant by the negative meaning of “worldly life”. Otherwise, the world is not separate from the hereafter. This world is the farm of the hereafter. What is meant by “farm”? Is it possible to reap what you have sowed anywhere other than your farm? This shows perfect unity and harmony. Islam is a spiritual religion despite the fact that it attaches importance to every aspect of worldly life. In an Islamic environment, hearts should have a tendency towards God. Intentions should be divine. This is among the characteristics of Islam and a means for spreading Islam.
The shortcoming that is currently felt in the world is the lack of spirituality and the spiritual vacuum, particularly in the western world. They are obsessed with materialistic aspects of life. They have drifted away from spirituality. They are immersed in human passions. The characteristic of human passions is that if they are continued, they lead people into a life of hell. When human passions dominate the life of a person or a nation, they turn their life into hell. This is the characteristic of human passions.
You cannot find a person who continues living a happy life while indulging in human passions. God has not created such a person. If you go and research this issue, you will come to the same conclusion. This is definite and obvious. As far as human beings are concerned, living in passions is the same as living in hell, and this is the problem that has plagued the life of some wealthy people in the west. And those who are not wealthy are drowning in a hell of poverty, wretchedness and corruption. Of course, this is not the case with all westerners. There are always exceptions among all kinds of people. Definitely, there are good people in the west. However, their situation is generally like this. Today’s world requires this Be’that.13
• 1. Sura al-Hujraat, Ayah 13
• 2. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on in a meeting with government officials on the occasion of birthday anniversaries of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imam Sadiq
• 3. Sura Aal-e Imran, Ayah 164
• 4. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, P. 382
• 5. Sura al-Hadid, Ayah 25
• 6. Kafi, Vol. 5, P. 266
• 7. Sura al-Hadid, Ayah 25
• 8. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on January 21, 1993 in a meeting with government officials on the occasion of Mab’ath
• 9. Ibn Abi al-Hadid’s commentary on Nahjul Balaghah, Vol. 1, P. 136
• 10. Sura al-Hujraat, Ayah 10
• 11. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on September 5, 1993 in a meeting with government officials and ordinary citizens on the occasion of birthday anniversaries of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imam Sadiq
• 12. Sura Ikhlas, Ayahs 3-4
• 13. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on January 10, 1994 in a meeting with government officials on the occasion of Mab’ath