Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S): The source of all virtues
By: Ayatollah al-Uzma Sayyid Ali Khamenei
The birth of the Holy Prophet (S) is a significant point in history for any Muslim. Later on, this birth led to a great movement in the history of mankind. Any virtue that exists in the world directly or indirectly originates from Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S) and his efforts to uphold moral virtues in society. Any Muslim knows that the existence of the Holy Prophet (S) is the best factor that can bring together Muslim emotions in the world of Islam, the emotions of followers of different Islamic denominations. This is because Muslims love the Holy Prophet (S) and he has been the pivot of the Islamic Ummah. Therefore, the birth of the Holy Prophet (S) is very important for us.
Of course, the history of Islam shows that around one hundred years after the Holy Prophet (S) had passed away, one of his descendants, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.), opened a new door to achieving Islamic goals and promoting Islamic teachings when he reached imamate. The Islamic Republic attaches special importance to the birth and Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S) and anything that is related to him.
Why? Because throughout the world, Islamic Iran is the only place where Islamic rules are officially implemented, the only place where the laws and regulations are formulated and implemented on the basis of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet’s (S) Sunnah. In other words, Islamic Iran is the most important place in the world in which such a great movement is going on.
The government of Iran is Islamic and this puts a responsibility on the shoulders of all Muslims throughout the world because if there is a government in the world that is based on Islam, this means that Islam is being implemented. However, if Islam exists in a society in the form of personal beliefs and actions and not in the form of an Islamic government, the Holy Quran and Islam will be sidelined in such a society. An example of this has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, in Sura al-Furqaan: “And the Messenger cried out: O Lord, surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsakenthing.” 1
The Holy Prophet (S) tells the Creator: “Surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing.” What does “forsaken” mean? Undoubtedly, it does not mean that Muslims completely distanced themselves from the Holy Quran and Islamic characteristics. This is not the meaning of “treated this Quran as a forsaken thing.” It means that the Holy Prophet’s (S) people kept the Holy Quran, but at the same time they treated it as a forsaken thing and they sidelined it, in the sense that the Holy Quran would still be recited and respected in society, but its teachings would not implemented and its rule would be prevented under the pretext of separating religion from politics.
If Islam and the Holy Quran were supposed to be kept apart from government, then what was the purpose of the Holy Prophet’s (S) battles? If the Holy Prophet (S) believed that Islam should not interfere in government, in managing the affairs of the people and in political power in society, if he believed that personal faith in Islam was sufficient and that people could practice religious rituals in their homes, he would not have taken the trouble of carrying out all those battles.
The Holy Prophet (S) made those efforts for political power and for putting the Holy Quran in charge. When the Holy Quran is forsaken, it means that it exists in name only and does not have political power. In the world of Islam, the Ayah “surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing” is true of all the places where the Holy Quran is not in charge. 2
According to the Holy Quran, hadith and Islamic Urf, the era of Be’that is in contrast with the era of Jahiliyya. These terms have been used in the Holy Quran and Islamic narrations. Similarly, in Islamic Urf, the Islamic era is contrasted with the era of Jahiliyya. Of course, there are certain boundaries and rules set these two eras apart. What are these rules? There are a few rules that separate the Islamic era from the era of Jahiliyya and these essential rules are the same as Islamic values.
1. Pure Monotheism
The primary rule is pure monotheism, which means refusing to serve anything or anybody other than God. This is pure monotheism. Monotheism did not just mean that people had to stop worshipping their idols. It has a broad meaning. After all, the idols in Mecca would not exist forever. The idols that were made from wood and stone would not exist forever.
The true meaning and the essence of monotheism is rejection of serving anything or anybody other than God. It means refusing to bow to anything or anybody other than God. This is the true meaning of complete and pure servitude to God.
If you look at this issue with insight and with awareness of the sciences that relate to the life of human beings – such as social sciences and education – you will realize that the scope of servitude is very broad. Each of the limitations that are imposed on human beings forces them into a kind of servitude. Servitude to wrong social systems, servitude to wrong rituals and customs, servitude to superstitions, servitude to autocratic people and powers, servitude to human passions which is the most common kind of servitude, servitude to money, servitude to wealth, servitude to power – these are different kinds of servitude.
Saying “there is no god but Allah, alone with no partner” 3 is pure monotheism. It means that all the different kinds of servitude should be pushed aside, in which case it will be possible to achieve genuine salvation. “Say no god but Allah and achieve salvation.” 4
This salvation is genuine. It is not just political salvation. It is not just social salvation. It is not just spiritual salvation. It is just salvation on the Day of Judgment. Rather, it is salvation both in this world and in the hereafter. This is one point about Islamic teachings and the Islamic call. It is possible to rephrase this as Islam of surrendering to God, as Islam for the sake of God. And this is another aspect of monotheism. This is another characteristic of the Islamic call. Wherever this exists, Islam exists as well. Wherever the opposite of this exists, Jahiliyya exists as well. Wherever these two opposites exist at the same time, there is both Islam and Jahiliyya, and pure Islam does not exist. However, there might be a flawed kind of Islam.
2. Establishment of justice
Another point about the Islamic call is the establishment of justice among human beings. The characteristic of the era of Jahiliyya was the existence of an oppressive system. Oppression was commonplace. Oppression was not limited to certain people and certain times. The social system had been built on oppression, discrimination, powerful people bullying weak people, men bullying women, wealthy people bullying the poor and slave owners bullying their slaves. And slave owners would in turn surrender to the bullying of rulers and powerful people. It was a complex system of bullying. The lives of the people were full of oppression, discrimination and bullying. This was the characteristic of the era of Jahiliyya. Wherever such things exist, Jahiliyya exists as well. Islam introduced the opposite system. It introduced establishment of justice.
“Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others).” 5
This is one of the characteristics of an Islamic society. Justice is not just a slogan. An Islamic society must go after justice. If justice does not exist in an Islamic society, efforts must be made to create it. If there were only two opposite camps in the world namely, the camp of justice and the camp of oppression Islam would support the camp of justice, even if it were non-Islamic.
It was the Holy Prophet himself who encouraged Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia, thereby helping them achieve justice under a king who was not a Muslim. In other words, the Holy Prophet (S) encouraged people to leave their homes and their community because of the oppression that had been imposed on them. And this is another point. That is to say, it is necessary to establish and promote justice and to make selfless efforts for administration of justice wherever possible, even in non-Islamic territories.
It is also necessary to condemn injustice in every part of the world. This is another characteristic of Islam. The best eras in the history of Islam have been characterized with efforts to establish and administer justice. And this is another characteristic of the Holy Prophet’s (S) Be’that. All the things that I said were only examples to help us start a movement in today’s world. The purpose of the examples was not to discuss an Islamic teaching or part of the history of Islam in order to enlighten minds.
3. Moral virtues
Again, if we imagine a third situation in which there is a movement towards moral virtues, this would be different from the other two cases I discussed earlier. Sometimes a society might have individuals who enjoy moral virtues. The people of that society might be forgiving, intellectual, wise, benevolent, cooperative, patient in the face of problems and hardships, well-behaved and ready for self-sacrifice wherever needed.
The opposite situation may also exist. That is to say, there might be a society whose people might formulate their relationships on the basis of self-interest, rather than on the basis of mercy, clemency, justice and good behavior. In such a society, people tolerate each other only as long as this is in line with their interests, otherwise they would be prepared to annihilate each other. This is another kind of society.
Such a society would be a society of Jahiliyya and it is very different from an Islamic society in which moral virtues are dominant. One characteristic of the Holy Prophet’s (S) Be’that was that it called people to moral virtues. And this is another point about the life and Be’that of the Holy Prophet (S). Therefore, one can say that ethics is in fact one of the boundaries and characteristics that sets apart Islam and the era of Jahiliyya.
4. Not limiting one’s outlook to the material world
Another point, which is the last point, is that people should not limit their outlook to their worldly life. This is an essential point. One of the characteristics of a Jahiliyya society is that its people believe that their worldly life is everything. If they manage to achieve certain things in their lives such as food, comfort and whatever that is related to one’s personal well-being they consider themselves winners. But if they make an effort or do something that will not produce results in this world, they believe that they have been deceived, that they have failed, and that they have suffered a loss.
This is another characteristic of living in Jahiliyya. Doing something for the sake of God, spirituality and the Day of Judgment does not make sense in a Jahiliyya society. One of the characteristics of an Islamic society is that one’s entire life and efforts is not limited to this world. This is the characteristic of Be’that and the opposite point is Jahiliyya. 6
The Importance of unity and the necessity of efforts to create it
Thanks to the awareness of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.), one of the blessings of the Islamic Revolution was that the birthday anniversary of the Holy Prophet (S) motivated the introduction of “Unity Week”. This is interesting because Islamic unity is an unfulfilled wish. Some people truly cherish this wish and some others only pay lip service to it. In any case, it is necessary to find a practical way to fulfill this wish.
It is not possible to fulfill any wish in the absence of selfless efforts. And when we think about practical ways of fulfilling this wish and this goal, one of the best ideas that comes to mind is building everything around the greatest personality in all creation, namely the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) who represents the point at which all Muslims' emotions and beliefs come together. Among all Islamic truths and teachings, there might not be another point that all Muslims agree on both emotionally and ideologically. In Islam, emotions play an important role as well. Except for certain groups who have separated from Muslims and do not attach a lot of importance to emotions and affection, the majority of Muslims have strong affection for the Holy Prophet (S). Therefore, the Holy Prophet (S) can be the pivot of Muslim unity.
Characteristics of the enemies of Islam and Islamic Awakening
Today I would like to put special emphasis on the issue of unity in the presence of high-ranking officials and outstanding personalities from across the world of Islam. Dear brothers and sisters, today the issue of unity is an absolute necessity for Muslims. Today the enemies of Islam and Muslims have two characteristics which they never had throughout the history of Islam. One characteristic is that they are well equipped with money, political means, propaganda tools and various kinds of instruments that they can use to influence others, to infiltrate and to harm.
Who are the enemies of Islam? The camp of the arrogant powers including Zionism, America, oil companies, mercenary writers and intellectuals who work for them is well equipped. There has never been a time in the history of Islam when the enemies of Islam were equipped with so many instruments.
Another characteristic of the enemies of Islam is that this well-equipped camp has become very sensitive to the threat that Islam and Islamic Awakening poses to them. And this sensitivity is because they see that Islam can go beyond the boundaries of moral recommendations and appear in a position to create a new order. The enemies of Islam saw that Islam gave rise to a revolution in Iran. They saw that Islam established a firm and solid government. They saw that Islam raised the awareness of a people and helped them recover from the state of spiritual defeat and achieve stability, self-reliance and confidence in themselves and in their religion. They saw that Islam made a nation so powerful that all the instruments I discussed earlier proved ineffective against it.
Around seventeen years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the only superpower that existed in the world was forced to retreat in its political and economic confrontation with the Islamic Republic. Today this issue has become visible to them. This issue is not hidden from the eyes of the analysts who work for the arrogant powers. Islam has revealed its power.
They saw that in the world of Islam, any group of people who are after reforming their society and their country, rely on Islam. Before Islam had achieved victory in Iran, when certain groups of people in different countries wanted to shout slogans of reforms, they would rely on Marxism or on radical nationalism. However, today in Islamic countries, intellectuals, youth, clerics, academics and different groups of people who want to demand reforms, rely on Islam. This shows the high capacity and potential that Islam enjoys. The enemy can see these things and therefore has become sensitive.
The world of Islam is faced with enemies who have these two characteristics: they have more instruments than ever before and they have become more sensitive to Islam than they ever were. What will these enemies do?
The best option that is available to the enemies of Islam is that they can foment discord among Muslims, particularly among those who can be inspirational to other Muslims. Notice how much money is spent in different Islamic countries in order to write books and attribute fanciful beliefs to Shia people. Once I gathered a large number of such books and I realized that many books had been written in this regard.
The cleverest individuals are employed to try to prepare such books with the aim of fomenting discord, with the aim of isolating portions of the Islamic Ummah in which the flag of Islam has been raised. Islamic Iran is the pioneer in this area and thanks to Islam, Muslims have managed to gather their forces in certain other places to counter different events against the arrogant powers.
Today there is a lot of money in the world of Islam. There are many ideas. There is enormous manpower. There are a large number of religious scholars, poets, writers, artists and competent political personalities in Islamic countries. A major portion of financial and subterranean resources belongs to Muslim countries. Notice what will happen in the world if Muslims move in the same direction or at least avoid working against each other.
The enemy is trying to pit all these human and financial resources of the world of Islam against one another. They provoked the Iraqi regime and gave rise to eight years of destructive war in this region. Then they helped the Iraqi regime in the hope that it will manage to uproot the young sapling of Revolution. Of course, they failed. “Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like an immaculate tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven?” This is the characteristic of the word of Islam: it cannot be uprooted.
“… and whose branches are in heaven, yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of itsLord?” 7
And today they are doing everything in their power on the political front. Therefore, as a servant of Islam, as a person who sees and feels what machinations the enemy is designing, my conclusion, my understanding, my interpretation and my recommendation to our Muslim brothers is that today Islamic unity is a vital necessity for Muslims. This is not a joke or a slogan. Islamic communities should seriously look for ways of achieving unity and they should move forward in the same direction. Of course, creating unity is a complex task.
Unity between different Muslim nations is possible despite the differences that exist among Islamic denominations, among customs and lifestyles of different Muslim nations, and among various approaches to Islamic jurisprudence. Unity among Islamic nations means that in the case of issues relating to the world of Islam, Muslim nations should move ahead in the same direction, help each other and avoid using their domestic resources against one another in their countries.
· 1. Sura al-Furqaan, Ayah 30
· 2. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on August 26, 1994 to government officials and participants of the Islamic Unity Conference
· 3. Wasa’il al-Shia, Vol. 1, P. 15
· 4. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 18, P. 202
· 5. Sura an-Nahl, Ayah 90
· 6. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on December 31, 1994 in a meeting with government officials on the occasion of Mab’ath
· 7. Sura Ibrahim, Ayahs 24-25