Islam and Islamic Ideology
by Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamenei
Paramount Leader of the Islamic Revolution
In early days of its advent and even today, Islam has shown - and still showed - the way to a new world, ensured a life of abundance, moral rectitude and salvation for mankind. Before the advent of Islam, in early days of the Islamic community and today, the main causes of distress and grievance to man which Islam intends to eradicate, have essentially remained the same: poverty, ignorance, discrimination, war, insecurity, and finally incarceration in the prison of materialism and subjection to evil proclivity.
And Islam is the religion of humanity, moderation, wisdom, and submission to God just as all religions had evidently been so before being distorted. As such, Islam has brought non-extravagant remedies to human pain and suffering in logically and rationally acceptable ways. Islam beckoned mankind to remembrance of Allah, to supplication before, and establishment of a spiritual relationship with the Almighty. Islam has taught man and commended him to fight evil, aggression, corruption and to be on constant diligence against vanity, selfishness, and pursuit of carnal desires.
Islam's principal commandments have taken shape in this way, and the Islamic program for man's personal, social, moral, and political life has grown out of these roots.
In Islam, social justice, different types of freedom, equitable peace, struggle against oppression and aggression, male - female relationship, relationships between individuals and among communities, self-edification, innate relationship with the Almighty are all based on those pillars and are geared toward alleviating the perennial and chronic afflictions that grip humanity.
Today, too, despite the colorful and congenial veneer of human life, mankind suffers from the same pains and tribulations that have beset humanity in the course of history: The majority of people of the world are poor, while a small minority have access to much of the wealth on earth.
Most nations are deprived of scientific progress, while a few have used their scientific achievements and knowledge as means to mete out oppression on others. Wars flare in nooks and crannies of the world, while many live under the constant fear of war. All over the world, we observe discrimination against nations, while there are class differences within most countries. The Western materialistic civilization bid everyone to materialism, while love of money, greed, and carnal urges are presented as the main objectives people should aspire. Finally, in many parts of the world, candor, truthfulness, altruism, and self-sacrifice have been replaced by deception, conspiracy, avarice, jealousy, and other indecent motives.
Compared with the past, progress in science, technology, equipment, speed, and tools has dramatically transformed the world, yet man's chronic and age - old pains and afflictions remain the same. The major problems of today are no different fro those of the past.
Western liberalism, communism, socialism, and all other -isms have been put to the test and proved effectual. As in the past, today, too, Islam offers the sole remedy, cure and is the saving angel of man. As was the case one thousand four hundred years ago, today, too, the following call echoes:
Indeed, there hath come unto you light and a clear Book from Allah; wherewith Allah guideth him who shall follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and bringeth them out of utter darkness into light by His will and guideth them onto the path of righteousness
(Holy Quran, Sura Maidah, Verses 15 and l6)
The important consideration is the observation and recognition of the true visage of Islam (devoid of any embellishments). The illuminating visage of Islam has been defaced and defiled in the course of several centuries by enemies and in even longer span of time by ignorant and heedless friends. They have deliberately or ignorantly made additions to or deletions from Islam.
At present, too, an incorrect understanding and self-interests are still at work from within to tarnish the image of Islam. But without a shadow of doubt, feeble publicity in this regard is by far more effective as it tries to embark upon this course in astute and sly ways.
One instance of the enemies' incessant effort to this end is the massive bulk of publicity against the Islamic Iran after the establishment of the Islamic government in Iran. They felt that leveling accusations and spreading mendacious news would be the most potent way to stave off the impacts of this grand revolution. They have uttered such falsities about us and ascribed such things to us that their words have become repetitive and completely monotonous and boring for the listeners. The Zionists, the notorious global Zionist media, and agents of the world arrogance, in particular the Americans - namely those who have sustained the greatest losses due to the revolution -- have been and are - most active and vocal in this area.
Muslim brothers: On this basis, our great task is to understand Islam and make it better understood and to become more familiar with one another.
2. The Islamic Ummah
The Islamic Ummah which took shape in Madinat ul - Nabi and enjoyed astounding and legendary growth in size and quality within a short span of time was the first political human product of Islam.
In less than half a century after the advent of this auspicious phenomenon, it treaded almost half the entire territories of the three large- neighboring and ancient civilizations, namely Iran, Rome, and Egypt. A century later, it developed brilliant civilization and a grand and powerful state in the heart of the world which was bordered the Great Wall of China in the East and the Atlantic Coasts in the West and the Siberian steppes to the North and southernmost part of the Indian Ocean to the South.
The third and fourth centuries After Hejira and beyond are embellished with brilliant civilization whose academic and cultural achievements can still be traced in the modern world after a thousand years. When recounting the history of science and civilization, Western historians overlook and neglect this grand and unprecedented uprising, transformation, and revolution in science, culture, and civilization and trace the ancestry of modern sciences from ancient Greece and Rome to the Renaissance, as though science and civilization had ceased to exist for a thousand years and were reborn of a sudden during the Renaissance!
But the truth of the matter is that the Middle Ages was a period of darkness, ignorance, and consternation only in the West and Europe, while in the Muslim world that, spanning from Andalusia to China, was several times larger than Europe, it was a period of radiation, awakening, and academic sublimation and boom.
This reminder does not mean to boast of the past or lament the decline of those days. The aim is to underline the fact that Islam and its life-inspiring knowledge which gave rise to such a colossal civilization are now at our disposal and warn us:
O you who believe! Answer (the call of ) Allah and His Apostle when he calleth you to that which giveth life unto you...
(Holy Quran, Sura Anfal, Verse 24)
Islam has proved that it has the capacity to lead its ummah toward civilizational and scientific resplendence and political might and ability. Faith, struggle, avoidance of discord are the only prerequisites for the fulfillment of this grand objective. The Holy Quran teaches us:
And be not infirm, and be not grieving, and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers.
(Holy Quran, Sura A'Iay lmran, Verse 139)
The Quran also teaches us:
And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good.
(Holy Quran, Sura Ankabut, Verse 69)
It also offers the following instruction:
And obey Allah and His Apostle and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and our power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.
(Holy Quran; Sura Anfal, Verse 46)
Weakness in relation to these three factors has at present plunged the Islamic ummah into a pitiable sate. At least, over the past two centuries, persistent and cunning enemies who possessed prudence and political skill, alongside certain incompetent Muslim governments in combination with diverse historical and political factors and conditions have crucially contributed to this condition and left it to us as legacy of past generations.
Brothers, let us bequeath something more glorious to the posterity.
In studying the external factors that have led to the present condition, I believe that the assault by the arrogant on the cultural front is most effective. In our culture, arrogance refers to a power clique which relies on its political, military, scientific, and economic power and is inspired by a discriminatory outlook toward mankind in order to exert pressure on and exploit large groups of human beings, namely nations, governments, and countries through exertion of bullying and contemptuous domination, to interfere and intervene in their affairs, to plunder their assets and wealth, to bully governments, to oppress the nations, and to insult their cultures and traditions. Salient examples are colonialism, neo-colonialism, and recently the extensive and all - out political, economic, publicity, and even military invasion by former colonizers and their heirs. All these are carried out in front of the eyes of our nations, which are tasting their bitter fruits.
In this forceful assault, Western powers have reaped the benefit of their academic and technological progress and of some of their national and indigenous features. should not reprimand only the enemy. Those who pave the ground for the victory of their enemies and make for their own defeat through shortsightedness, sloth and love of comfort and self-centricity deserve to be rebuked as well.
The West, in its all-round offensive, has also targeted our Islamic faith and character. In the light of its stocks of scientific tools that everyone needed, the West undertook the massive and persistent export of laxity and disregard for religion and ethics to us, a culture with which it is, itself, gripped. Indubitably, this ethical quagmire will, in not too-distant a day, engulf the present Western civilization itself and wipe it out totally.
At the present juncture, the world of Islam is in a calamitous condition because of this hostile onslaught, coupled with the inner factors that have affected the past generations. Poverty, ignorance, academic backwardness, moral laxity, and worst yet, the cultural and at times political domination of its enemies on the one hand and great problems such as those existing in Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kashmir, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Caucasus, and others on the other hand, bring governments, political notables and leaders of the Muslim world face to face with a long list of divine and human responsibilities.
Today, we should take the initiative. Up to now, the enemy has always held the initiative, and we have, at most, complained.
In a historical process marked by the enemy's dozens of initiatives, Palestine has been turned into the personal property of the Zionists. First, lands belonging to the Palestinians were purchased. Then the immigrant Zionists were armed. Afterwards, civil war raged , and Palestine's dismemberment was declared. Then additional parts of that Islamic and Arab country were conquered and occupied, and ultimately it was usurped entirely while parts of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were also annexed.
Up to this point. the Arab neighbors of Palestine have had the initiative on only one occasion. And that was the October 1973 attack by Syria and Egypt during the holy month of Ramazan. This offensive did not achieve its full results because of the cooperation between U.S. and Israel and the inaction of the Islamic countries; nonetheless, it was a source of honor for the Arab front and led to the liberation of a part of the Arab territories.
From then on, the Zionists and their supporters, headed by the U.S., have all along held the initiative in chanting slogans of compromise and acting to consolidate the illegal occupation of Palestine, and they have driven back their rivals to the utmost distance.
We Muslim governments should have offered more serious assistance to the frontline states to rescue and save Palestine. In the past, some of our governments have even covertly worked to the disadvantage of the frontline states. A prominent example was the government of Iran during the Pahlavi era. Regrettably, at that time, Iran was a safe haven for the Zionists and a sincere colleague of the usurping Israeli regime.
This condition is incompatible with Islamic dignity and far removed from remedies to the pains and grief of the Muslim ummah. All Islamic countries should assume their fitting roles in restoring the rights of the Palestinian people, and the world of Islam should also move from the state of passivity to a condition in which it can have the initiative. But these duties are at present carried out wholeheartedly and with puissance and devotion only by the faithful and dignified youths of Palestine and Lebanon. Hail to them!
Our opposition to the so-called Middle East peace process stems from the belief that it is unjust, arrogant, contemptuous, and finally, illogical. The imposed principle of "peace for land" means that the Zionists would return the lands of neighboring countries, provided that we concede that Palestine belongs to them. What could be more unjust than such utterances? What recompense can be offered to the ancient people of Palestine in this in this deleterious transaction? Ironically, the Israeli regime considers even this much as inappropriate and has rejected it!! Isn't the time rife for the world of Islam to respond to this spirit of arrogance?
If we organize our ties and make them brotherly, we will have power to do so. What can the U.S. do against the united front of the Islamic countries, ranging fro Indonesia to North Africa? Today, global arrogance gains hope and strength through creating discord and disunity in this front. Is it not time to bolster and strengthen the ranks in our own favor?
Perhaps the existence of an enemy such as Israel in the heart of the Muslim lands could have brought us closer ... But the covert hands of arrogance effaced even this peril from along its way: It did something to us that right now we fear each other more than fear the enemy! The temptations, falsehoods, and sly publicity have made the Islamic countries erroneously and unduly feel intimidated by one another.
For twenty three years now, the political designer of arrogance have breathed their poisonous breath to make our neighbors in the Persian Gulf wary of Islamic Iran which holds the banner of unity and brotherhood. I declare that Islamic Iran poses no threat to any Islamic country.
Blessed by the Quranic injunctions, today, Islamic Iran more than ever desires unity, dignity, and might for the world of Islam. Thanks to the Islamic faith and notwithstanding the enemies' publicity ploys, we Iranians have upheld and preserved our national unity in an unprecedented way and enhanced public involvement in political affairs contrary to the claims and innate wishes of our enemies. The brilliant presidential elections this year was an example of growing public involvement in political affairs.
The government is united and uniform and all our officials are friendly with one another Confidence and self-reliance are the major decisive factors in our academic, political, economic, and cultural efforts. Possessed of this belief in our selves, which Imam Khomeini taught us, we have been able to reconstruct and rehabilitate a ruined and backward country left from the Pahlavi era and ruined even further by an eight year - long imposed war. We witness the same endeavor in some other brotherly countries as well.
But political dignity and power are of greatest importance. Our nation and our government have eradicated the influence and intervention of foreigners from their country by recourse to Islam. Nowadays, the Islamic ummah is eager for that self-confidence and for this dignity and independence. And all of us should muster our efforts to this end. This is an historical responsibility. Today, the ground is paved for the fulfillment of this duty and for acquiring dignity, power, and full independence of the world of Islam.