The Mutrafun Always Stood against the Prophets
By: Hojjat al-Islam Hashemi Rafsanjani
Tehran's Friday Prayer Sermon: (April 26, 1985)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and Allah's peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and upon his descendants, the infallible Imams. I take refuge with Allah (SWT) from the accursed Shaytan. The Almighty Allah says in His Holy Book:
"And if Allah should increase provision for His servants they would certainly oppress in the earth..."(42:27)
In the course of discussion on social justice regarding diverse races we have made references to the oppressions committed by the white race against the non-white races over the past five centuries. We dealt with some parts of this subject. One part was the contamination of sovereignty in human societies, which is one of the worst forms of oppressions committed by the Westerners against other races and generations. Today too, this calamity besets human societies. As the Westerners are themselves suffering as a result of the sovereignty of the capital, and it is the capital which determines the criterion and extent of sovereignty in the West, and as democracy is a false and demagogical slogan with which they deceive the people, they exported this calamity. All around the oppressed world, this calamity exists like a contagious disease, as the basis of sovereignty is the financial power of materialistic people. Similarly, we have also said that in the part which is not in the domain of Western sovereignty, and which is in the domain of atheistic governments dominated by the materialism of the Marxist philosophy, the situation is even worse due to the eradication of the spiritual values, as the very basis, purport, and value of spirituality is negated. This is also another affliction on people.
Likewise, we were to make a comparison with the viewpoint of Islam, because the main basis of the discussion on racial discrimination is the subject of Islam's social justice which would be mentioned as a comparison with non-Islamic schools. In the previous khutbah, I have especially talked about Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib (A), on the occasion of commemoration of his birthday, and about his standpoints in this regard. I explained the general view of Islam whose most important proof was manifest in the life of Imam `Ali (A).
The Issue of Sovereignty - The Most important Issue of the Prophets vis-a-vis the Opposite Wing
On the whole, when we study the history of the Divine religions and the prophets, we notice that the issue of sovereignty is one of the most important issues of the prophets vis-a-vis their opposite wings or schools. The issue of sovereignty, the right of sovereignty, and its criterion have always been under discussion among them. If this issue is opened up, and if the Third World, the oppressed of the world, and the nations under domination recognize the logic of Divine religions and the logic of Islam and, if they establish faith in it, it is the best means to penetrate into the hearts of the oppressed of the world and mobilize them towards the demands of the Divine religions and Islam. If the Islamic Republic succeeds in presenting a clear practical example of the logic of the prophets in history, this would be considered as the best service it renders to the school of thought of the prophets, because this is a principal issue for humanity. That is, secondary issues can always be polluted and contaminated. If this issue is correctly understood and implemented, all other maladies will be cured. The root cause of the human problems lies here.
What one understands from the Qur'an, which is the most important solid and sound document in human history, is that from the very beginning when the prophets enunciated their messages, the bullies of their society got entangled with them over the issue of sovereignty, and the right to rule over the people. This issue has been set forth in the Qur'an. We have a surah in the Qur'an entitled: "Az-Zukhruf" whose name you have heard many times, and which you have recited. I recommend you, especially the scholars of Islamic sciences and jurisprudence, to read this surah once again from the viewpoint that I am now discussing. The word "zukhruf" ' means either gold or embellishment. If gold is also called "zukhruf", it is because of the best proof of embellishment. The essence of this surah is manifest in this word. The central and principal point of this surah is that the disbelievers raised the issue of sovereignty vis-a-vis the Prophet. "Zukhruf" ' was the criterion of the disbelievers and "taqwa" was the criterion of the Prophet (S). That is, the discussion was that the disbelievers said to the Prophet (S): "Do you have the competence for what you claim and for the Divine wilayah you claim?" The disbelievers claimed: "As you, the Prophet, do not have money, gold, and financial facilities, you do not have such a right, and this right belongs to people possessed of financial resources and materialistic facilities. In return, the Prophet (S) sets forth the issue of taqwa. Then the surah refers to the history of the prophets. The fifth ayah of this surah is as given below:
`What! shall We then turn away the reminder from you altogether because you are an extravagant people?" (43:5)
You think that since you are extravagant people your criterion is correct owing to your power of extravagance. You think that Allah (SWT) should overlook the rights of human societies and the values which should form the criteria, and power of your extravagance should become everything.
In subsequent ayat, the issue becomes more explicit and Allah (SWT) says:
"And thus, We did not send before you any Warner in a town, but its luxurious ones said: Surely we found our fathers following a religion, and we are followers of their footsteps.” (43:23)
The Mutrafun Always Stood against the Prophets (A)
As a custom and rule of history, it is stated as the Quran mentions that Allah (SWT) did not send any prophet anywhere unless it was set forth that the mutrafun (those living in ease and plenty) and those enjoying material prosperity stood against that prophet, saying they would not follow him and would follow the religion of their own fathers. I mean that this issue has been set forth in the Qur’an as a decisive historical rule and historical reality, which has no instance other than this. Then the Qur’an delves into the issues and states:
"And they said: `Why was not this Qur'an revealed to a man of importance in the two towns?"' (43:31)
That is, the mutrafun said, how did it so happen that Allah (SWT) selected you, and why did He not select one of the big personalities of the "two cities"? See what they are looking for. This issue has existed in the history of all prophets. This existed in the case of Prophet Nuh (A), who is the first prophet whose story has come in detail in the Qur’an. Prior to Prophet Nuh (A) we do not see a clear story with these features of the prophets in the Quran. See, its first case is that when Prophet Nuh (A) calls on the people to guard against evil, one of their statements is as below:
"They said: Shall we believe in you while the meanest follow you?"' (26:111)
But the disbelievers say:
"....But those who are the meanest of us at first thought..."' (11:27)
They said that how we should follow you when we see that your followers are the meanest of us (of course, the word "aradhil" meaning "rogues" that we now use is different from the Arabic meaning. By aradhil, they referred to the low class of the society, to the workers and the poor). The basis of their statements to Prophet Nuh (A) was that how they could follow him and support a movement whose forerunners were the deprived classes. They proposed to Nuh (A) to drive them (i.e., the deprived) away, so that they themselves could come along with him. Prophet Nuh (A) said:
“I am not going to drive away the believers."(26:114)
Prophet Nuh (A) says that I cannot drive away the believers. I cannot create this basis or criterion myself. It is something determined by Allah (SWT). These believers have accepted the religion and are the forerunners. You may basically see that Prophet Nuh (A) is the first prophet whose history is made so clear in the Qur’an, specifying the features of what they called the "low class" and the "affluent" classes.
In this khutbah, I cannot at present relate the history of the prophets. These issues have been dealt with in various books. It is not my innovation that I have understood these. We come down a little bit to the time of Prophet Musa (to reach a more explicit conclusion - I will not speak of all the prophets). When Prophet Musa (A) engages in conversation with Fir`awn (in Suratuz-Zukhruf, reference has been made to this effect), Fir`awn asks him: "How can we follow you?" The logic of Fir`awn and other mutrafun vis-a-vis Hadrat Musa (A) is that they say:
".... Is not the kingdom of Egypt mine? And these rivers flow beneath me ..."(43:51)
This logic is exactly the same as that of the U.S. Senate today, of the domineering capitalists, and the modern cartels and multi-nationals. The reason Fir`awn brings for his government is that he is an owner and dominates them, and that as his castle is decorated with flowing rivers, he holds the kingdom of Egypt. Then the Qur'an states that Fir`awn said:
"But why have not bracelets of gold been put upon him..."(43:53)
Perhaps, a gold bracelet was among the distinguishing adornments of the time.
"Nay! I am better than this fellow who is contemptible... "(43:52)
This is the logic set forth at the time of Fir`awn in response to Prophet Musa’s logic.
With regard to Prophet `Isa (A), history clearly indicates that Jewish usurers and capitalists had established the rank opposing him. This is a very interesting discussion which we cannot deal with now owing to paucity of time.
The Disbelievers' Encounter with the Prophet Muhammad (S)
Then we come to the time of the Prophet (S) of Islam. The first problem that he has with the disbelievers is what this surah says that they told the following to the Prophet (S): "You do not deserve to govern the people, because forming a government is the right of a man of `importance" in the `two towns" . " Now, who did they have in mind? Whether they thought of Al-Walid Ibnul-Mughirah or someone else, they wanted him to be among the `great" figures of Makkah. By resorting to such forms of logic, they confronted the Prophet (S). At this point, Allah (SWT) enters into discussion with them.
Read ayats 30 to 36 of SuratuZ-Zukhruf. I think you would find them very interesting. Allah (SWT) tells them how they think. They distribute the blessings and bounties of Allah (SWT) and determine a price for the Divine values. They think that whoever possesses something is exalted by Allah (SWT) and whoever has nothing is of no value. The issue of having or not having is related to the interests of creation which Allah (SWT) has stipulated in a society for a purpose.
"...We distribute among them their livelihood in the life of this world, and We have exalted some of them above others in degree, that Borne of there may take others in subjection; and the mercy of your Lord u better than what they amass. " (43:32).
There is a philosophy behind this. These degrees of distinction and differences that you see are philosophical. Of course, it comprises a very good rooted discussion as to whether they are equal with respect to the Divine sunnah or is it that the Divine sunnah stipulates that whoever works in nature earns more.
"...And were it not that all people had been a single nation, We would certainly have assigned to those who disbelieve in the Beneficent God (to make) of silver the roofs of their houses and the stairs whereby they ascend."(43: 33)
Here Allah (SWT) sets forth a strange point which is very interesting. If one considers the issue on the whole (as how you determine he values, and what is your evaluation?), one realizes that the state of the society is Allah's (SWT) doing.
The Value of Spirituality
In comparison with taqwa, Allah (SWT), and spirituality, the world is so worthless that if it were not for the fear that all people would become disbelievers which is one interpretation of this ayah, Allah (SWT) would have given the disbelievers and the enemies of Allah (SWT) so much wealth and money that they could even roof their houses with silver and such exalted degrees so as to rule over all people with the financial power and through these degrees.
“And the doors of their houses and the couches on which they recline " (43: 34)
This is of no value. What are you using as a value - the enemy of Allah (SWT) and those who do not believe in Allah (SWT)? As a consequence, this cannot be established as a value. Having wealth or not having it is not the criterion. At the end, He says:
"And embellishments of gold; and all this is naught but provision of this world's life. And the Hereafter is with your Lord only for the pious God fearing ones." (43:35)
But the true value belongs to people who observe taqwa (piety and God-fearing). Allah (SWT) has placed taqwa on the one side, and capital and money on the other side. This is a very interesting subject. Today the Third World and the majority of the world oppressed should explicitly understand this logic from our Qur'an. The criterion now governing the U.S. Congress is that its own representative states that 27 or 28 of the 33 people who had won the elections were those who had spent more money, i.e., "the sovereignty of the capitalists in the Western world". This is Islam and those are the worthless ones. In practice, Islam is such that when the Prophet (S) and Imam `Ali (A) wanted to appoint a ruler for an area (when we see the history of these rulers and these figures, we notice how nice they were), they looked for humanitarian criteria and virtuous people, be they rich or poor. Because the majority of people are poor, and because in the deprived classes virtue remains, there are typically more people of this sort. But among the rich, it is also possible to find virtuous people. The main criteria are taqwa, virtue, and humanity. We do not overrule the possibilities, and we do not reach the conclusion that whoever has money cannot be virtuous. Such a person can also be very virtuous.
At present and in the existing conditions, we have rich people who were with us from the first day of the Revolution, and who struggled for its success. Although the children of some of them had joined their hands with the munafiqun and were executed, but these are still loyal to the Revolution and serve it.
I do not intend to talk about the other side of the issue. When I talk of these efforts, it does not mean that people should think that something other than taqwa, human virtue, and those values which we set forth in a discussion could serve as the basis.
Yet we practically come to the realization that the deprived, who constitute at most the middle class of the society, mostly are the guards of the virtues. In the recent events we remember in these Friday Prayers there have been long queues of our combatants and the volunteers who have gone to the war fronts; the donations such as gold and ornaments by our sisters from the deprived classes who serve the Revolution; and the caravans of donations sent to the war fronts, the contents of which and the full list of donations indicate who the guards of this Revolution and this path are. As a consequence, we speak of this matter in more general terms. The general issue is that the Holy Qur'an regards the history of the prophets (A) as being coupled with a permanent argument between the mutrafun and the prophets (A) on the issue of sovereignty.
At first, they argued with the Prophet (S) saying that he was not at all competent for prophethood, as he was poor. Another reason which they put forth was that the Prophet (S) did not have a house made of gold or full of embellishments and luxuries. This was the criterion for them. 'They told the Prophet (S) that if he had luxuries, and if he were not poor, Jibra'il might have revealed the wahy to him, and that if he were rich and affluent, he could have been their chief and ruler. When this logic was put forth, the majority of the prophets (A) used to say: "We do not have the Divine treasuries at our disposal. We are subservient to Allah (SWT)." And this can have another interpretation. When the Prophet (S) succeeded in making his own logic dominant, and became victorious with the power of combat and jihad and with the help of the deprived and the free people like Bilal ibn Rabah Al-Habashi, Salman al-Khabbab, Suhayb ibn Sinan, and Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib (A), they came and raised anew issue. Subsequently, they did not say that he was incompetent, because the Prophet (S) had reached his goal. They came and said: "Now put away the idols, so that we could come along with you. It cannot be that you want to be the ruler of Al-Haramanish-Sharifan and that the deprived be with you, but the rich men of your own tribe do not accompany you." Through the relatives of the Prophet (S), they sent messages. They directly set it forth and told the Prophet (S), by various means, to drive away the deprived, so that they themselves could come along with the Prophet. I do not know what went on in the Prophet's (S) mind, and what issue was raised that Jibra'il came with wahy, decisively confronting this new proposal and said: "These are the very people who said you were incompetent. What are you accepting from them? If you drive the deprived away from yourself, so that the rich could come and give glory and power to Islam, you would commit oppression." In the discussion on social justice, this word is somehow included in the text of the discussion. Allah (SWT) regards as oppression the rejection of the deprived in the hope of attracting material powers. The fact of Divine calculations is something other than this that you conceive, a person would believe he could become victorious just because he has retinue and army, and because he has a specific programme like this, "No, keep these people with you. " In that khutbah of Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) to the same effect, the mutrafun and the gold hoarders went to him and the Imam said: "Go away. You propose that I seek victory through oppression and tyranny.' This is the interpretation of the same ayah, which says such a war has been existent before, and now it also exists in the Islamic Republic. Today, the world is also faced with this issue. The White House, which is the blackest of all houses in the world, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate, the British Parliament, the Elysee Palace, and other places can no longer tolerate that a rule springing from Tehran's Friday Prayers, and from these oppressed people devoid of financial resources could shake their castles and organizations. They cannot bear this.
If they had seen a coup by the generals here, who were saying the same things, they would not have become so afraid. The mutrafun all aver the world fear the deprived (takbir (saying `Allahu-Akbar, i.e., Allah is Great") raised by the audience). And this is the right of such a school of thought. Those who negate Allah (SWT), spirituality, the Hereafter, and virtues and who attach all the importance to matter and the effects of matter cannot claim that such a grand structure cannot be established on the shoulders of the deprived. Consequently, we see it transforming to neo-imperialism or, as they put it, to socialistic imperialism which is a title Mao gives to one of them (it refers to the Soviet Union). As a result, the path mentioned belongs to Allah (SWT) and the prophets (A). This path is rooted in the heavens and its harbinger is Jibra'il, and it is conveyed by the Infallible Imams (A) who are the guardians of this religion. And this path must be strengthened because our enemies fear it (of course, this is a very lengthy discussion which needs a great deal of elaboration. But under the overall discussion on social justice with regard to discrimination, I cannot delve into it further. Perhaps elsewhere I will devote a specific deliberation on it and further clarify this path). And as I have already stated, the basis of all this is taqwa We are duty bound to call to taqwa everywhere, because nothing but taqwa could keep firm the foundations of this grand structure. Whatever is outside this framework is weak. We recommend our brothers and sisters to pursue this course that they have chosen. Whether we are present or not, and whether anyone is present or not, that is the path of the prophets (A).
Allah (SWT) stated to the Holy Prophet (S) that this is the course drawn by Allah (SWT) and a door opened to the heavens and a covenant which has established relations between Allah (SWT), the earth, and us; and the peoples should hold fast to this covenant and find this course. On the day when the people reach this maturity and move on the path according to this basic principle they will become the strongest beings on the earth.