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Sunday 26th of September 2021
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THEFUSION OF THE GNOSTIC AND THE POLITICAL IN THE PERSONALITY AND LIFE OF IMAMKHOMEINI [R.A.]-3

As for the public testament that was released after the Imam's death on June 3, 1989, it consists primarily of counsels to various classes of the Iranian people and warnings of the problems they will face in preserving the Islamic Republic. It is therefore easy to dismiss as a mere preliminary the Imam's opening emphasis on the hadith-i thaqalayn, that foundational text for all of Shi'i thought, and to overlook the occurrence, in the exordium, of a reference to "the reserved name" (al-ism al-musta'thar) of God. The sense of this term, which ultimately goes back to a petitionary prayer of the Prophet (A.S.), may be summarized as the divine name (or compendium of names) that relate to the divine qualities that are not and never will be manifested, being "held in reserve" in God's hidden knowledge concerning himself. As has been suggested by Ayatollah Muhammadi Gilani, the reference made by the Imam to "the reserved name" at the very beginning of his testament indicates a wish on his part to encourage the cultivation of irfan after his passing as an indispensable part of his legacy. It is from the invocation of "the reserved name," together with all the names manifest or capable of manifestation, which the Imam descends, as it were, in the main body of his testament, to the plane of the divine acts that is simultaneously the plane of socio-political struggle. He thus underlined for the last time, subtly but unmistakably, the linkage between the Gnostic and the political that had been the hallmark of his life and one measure of his full and creative assimilation of the guidance of the Qur'an and the Ma'sumin.

1 Throughout the journal the editor has added all contents within square brackets.

The Major Jihad2 By: Imam Khomeini (R.A.)

 

The following is a translation of Jihad-e akbar, ya mubarezeh ba nafs (The Greatest Struggle, or Combat with the Self') a transcription of lectures by Imam Khomeini (R.A.) delivered during the period of his exile in Najaf, Iraq, republished by the Institute for the Compilation and Publication of the Works of Imam Khomeini (R.A.). The Directorate of Research of the Baqir al-Ulum Institute, Qum-Iran, supported this translation.

In the Name of ALLAH, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Yet another year of our lives has passed. You young people are advancing toward old age, and we old people toward death. During this academic year you have become aware of the extent of your learning and study. You know how much you have acquired and how high the edifice of your education has been raised. However, with respect to moral refinement, the acquisition of religious manners, divine teachings and purification of the soul, what have you done? What positive steps have you taken? Have you had any thought of refinement or self-reformation? Have you had any program in this field?

Unfortunately, I must submit that you have not done anything striking, and have not taken any great steps with regard to the reformation and refinement of the self.

Recommendations for the Seminaries Of Religious Learning

Simultaneous with the study of scholarly matters, the centers of religious learning are in need of teaching and learning in morals and spirituality. It is necessary to have moral guides, trainers for the spiritual faculties, and sessions for advice and counseling. Programs in ethics and moral reform classes in manners and refinement, instruction in divine teaching, which is the principle aim of the mission of the prophets, Peace be upon them', must be officially instituted in the seminaries.

Unfortunately, scant attention is paid in the centers of learning to these essential issues. Spiritual studies are declining, so that in the future, it is feared, the seminaries might not be able to train scholars of ethics, refined and polished counselors, or godly men. Occupation with discussion and inquiry into elementary problems does not allow the opportunity for the basic and fundamental topics attended to by the Noble Qur'an and of the great Prophet (S.A.W.) and the other prophets and saints, (awliya') Peace be with them'. The eminent jurisconsults and high-ranking professors, who are noteworthy in the scholarly community, had better try, in the course of their lessons and discussions, to train and refine people and to be more concerned with spiritual and ethical topics. For the seminary students it is also necessary that in their efforts to acquire higher virtues and refinement of the soul that they give sufficient weight to their important duties and momentous responsibilities.

Recommendations for the Seminary Students

You who today are studying in these seminaries, and who shall tomorrow take charge of the leadership and guidance of society, do not imagine that your only duty is to learn a handful of terms, for you have other duties as well. In these seminaries you must build and train yourselves so that when you go to a city or village you will be able to guide the people there and show them refinement. It is expected that when you depart from the center for the study of religious law, you yourselves will be refined and cultivated, so that you will be able to cultivate the people and train them according to Islamic ethical manners and precepts. If, God forbid, you were not to reform yourselves in the center of learning, and you were not to realize spiritual ideals, then - may ALLAH (SWT) protect us - everywhere you went, people would be perverted, and you would have given them a low opinion of Islam and of the clergy.

You have a heavy responsibility. If you do not fulfill your duty in the seminaries, if you do not plan your refinement, and if you merely pursue the learning of a few terms and issues of law and jurisprudence, then God protect us from the damage that you might cause in the future to Islam and Islamic society. It is possible - may ALLAH (SWT) protect us - for you to pervert and mislead the people. If due to your actions, deeds and unfair behavior, one person loses his way and leaves Islam, you would be guilty of the greatest of the major sins, and it would be difficult for your repentance to be accepted. Likewise, if one person finds guidance, then according to a narration "it is better than all that the sun doth shine upon."[1] Your responsibility is very heavy. You have duties other than those of the laity. How many things are permissible for the laity, which are not allowed for you, and may possibly be forbidden! People do not expect you to perform many permissible deeds, to say nothing of low unlawful deeds, which if you were to perform them, God forbid, people would form a bad opinion of Islam and of the clerical community.

The trouble is here: if the people witness your actions as contrary to what is expected, they become deviated from religion. They turn away from the clergy, not from an individual. If only they would turn away from one person and form a low opinion of just that person!

But if they see an unbecoming action contrary to decorum on the part of a single cleric, they do not examine it and analyze it, that at the same time among businessmen there are unrighteous and perverted people, and among office workers corruption and ugly deeds may be seen, it is possible that among the clergy there is also one or a few impious or deviant persons. Hence, if a grocer does something wrong, it is said that such and such a grocer is a wrongdoer. If a druggist is guilty of an ugly deed, it is said that such and such a druggist is an evildoer. However, if a preacher performs an unbecoming act, it is not said that such and such a preacher is deviant, it is said that preachers are bad! The responsibilities of the learned are very heavy; the 'ulama have more duties than other people.

If you review the chapters related to the responsibilities of the 'ulama in Usul al-Kafi and Wasail [2]you will see how they describe the heavy responsibilities and serious obligations of the learned. It is narrated that when the soul reaches the throat, there is no longer any chance for repentance, and in that state one's repentance will not be accepted, although God accepts the repentance of the ignorant until the last minute of their lives. In another narration it is reported that seventy sins will be forgiven of one who is ignorant before one sin is forgiven of an 'alim. [4] This is because the sin of an 'alim is very harmful to Islam and to Islamic society. If a lay and ignorant person commits a sin, he only wins misfortune for himself. However, if an 'alim becomes deviant, if he becomes involved in ugly deeds, he perverts an entire world ('alam). He has injured Islam and the 'ulama' of Islam. There is also a narration according to which the people of hell suffer from the stench of an 'alim whose deeds to not accord with his knowledge. For this very reason, in this world there is a great difference between an 'alim and an ignorant person with regard to benefit and injury to Islam and to the Islamic community. If an 'alim is deviant, it is possible that the community will become infected by deviation. And if an 'alim is refined, and he observes the morality and manners of Islam, he will refine and guide the community.

In some of the towns to which I went during the summer, I saw that the people of a town were well mannered with religious morals. The point is this, that they had an 'alim who was righteous and pious. If an 'alim who is pious and righteous lives in a community, town or state, his very existence will raise the refinement and guidance of the people of that realm, even if he does not verbally propagate and guide. We have seen people whose existence causes lessons to be learned, merely seeing them and looking at them raises one's awareness.

At present in Tehran, about which I have some information, the neighborhoods differ from one another. Neighborhoods in which a pure and refined 'alim lives have righteous people with strong faith. In another neighborhood where a corrupt deviant person wears the turban, and has become the prayer leader, and set up shop, you will see that the people there have been misled, and have been polluted and perverted. This is the same pollution from the stench of which the people of hell suffer. This is the same stench which the evil 'alim, the 'alim without action, the perverted 'alim has brought in this world, and the smell of it causes the people of hell to suffer. It is not because something is added to him there; that which occurs to this 'alim in the next world is something which has been prepared in this world. Nothing is given to us except that which we have done. If an 'alim is corrupt and evil, he corrupts the society, although in this world we are not able to smell the stench of it. However, in the next world the stench of it will be perceived. But a layperson is not able to bring such corruption and pollution into the Islamic society. A layperson would never allow himself to proclaim that he was an Imam or the Mahdi (AJ), to proclaim himself a prophet, or to have received revelation. It is a corrupt 'alim who corrupts the world: "If an 'alim is corrupt, a world ('alam) is corrupted."

The Importance of the Refinement and Purification of the Soul

Those who have constructed (their own) religions, causing the straying and deviation of masses of peoples, have for the most part been scholars. Some of them even studied and disciplined themselves in the centers of learning. The head of one of the heretical sects studied in these very seminaries of ours. However, since his learning was not accompanied by refinement and purification, since he did not advance on the path toward God, and since he did not remove the pollution from himself, he bore the fruit of ignominy. If man does not cast pollution from the core of his soul, not only will whatever studying and learning he does be of no benefit by itself, rather it will actually be harmful. When knowledge enters in this evil center, the product will be evil, root and branch, an evil tree. However much these concepts are accumulated in a black impure heart, there will be greater obscurity. In a soul which is unrefined, knowledge is a dark cover: Al-'ilm huwa al-hijab al- akbar (Knowledge is the greatest veil). Therefore, the vice of a corrupt 'alim is greater and more dangerous for Islam than all vices. Knowledge is light, but in a black, corrupt heart it spreads wide the skirts of darkness and blackness. A knowledge, which would draw a man closer to God, in a worldly soul, takes him far distant from the sanctum of the Almighty.

Even the science of tawhid (i.e. the higher gnostic teaching), if it is for anything other than God, becomes a veil of darkness, for it is a preoccupation with that which is other than God. If one memorizes and recites the Noble Qur'an with all the fourteen different readings, if it is for anything other than God, it will not bring him anything but obscurity and distance from Haqq ta'ala (God). If you study and work hard, you may become an 'alim, but you had better know that there is a big difference between being an 'alim and being refined. The late Shaykh, our teacher, may ALLAH (SWT) be pleased with him, said, "That which is said, 'How easy it is to become a mullah; how difficult it is to become a man,' is not correct. It should be said, 'How difficult it is to become a mullah, and it is impossible to become a man!' " The acquisition of the virtues and human nobilities and standards is a difficult and great duty which rests upon your shoulders. Do not suppose now that you are engaged in studying the religious sciences, and learning fiqh (the study of Islamic law), which is the most honorable of these sciences, that you can take it easy otherwise, and that you have carried out your responsibilities and duties. If you do not have a pure intention of approaching God, these sciences will be of no benefit at all. If your studies - may ALLAH (SWT) protect us - are not for the sake of God, and are for the sake of personal desires - the acquisition of position and the seats of authority, titles and prestige -then you will accumulate nothing for yourself but harm and disaster. This terminology you are learning if it is for anything but God, it is harm and disaster. This terminology, as much as it increases, if it is not accompanied by refinement and fear of God (taqwa), then it will end in harm in this world and the next for the Muslim community. Merely knowing terminology is not effective. Even the science of tawhid, if it is not accompanied with purity of the soul, will bring disaster.

How many individuals have been learned in the science of tawhid, and have perverted entire groups of people! How many individuals have had the very same knowledge that you have, or even more knowledge, but were deviant and did not reform themselves, so that when they entered the community, they perverted many and led them astray!

This dry terminology, if it is not accompanied by piety (taqwa) and refinement of the soul, as much as it accumulates in one's mind it will only lead to the expansion of pride and conceit in the realm of the soul. The unfortunate 'alim who is defeated by his own conceit cannot reform himself or his community, and it will result in nothing but harm to Islam and the Muslims. And after years of studying and wasting religious funding, enjoying his Islamic salary and fringe benefits, he will become an obstacle in the way of Islam and the Muslims. He will pervert Nations. The result of these lessons and discussions and the time spent in the seminary will be the prevention of the introduction to the world of Islam and the truths of the Qur'an; rather, it is possible that his existence will be a barrier preventing the society from coming to know Islam and spirituality.

I am not saying that you should not study, that you should not acquire knowledge. But you have to pay attention that if you want to be a useful and effective member of society and Islam and lead a nation to awareness of Islam and to defend the fundamentals of Islam, it is necessary that the basis of jurisprudence be strengthened and that you gain mastery of the subject. If, God forbid, you fail to study, then it is forbidden for you to remain in the seminary. You may not use the religious salary of the students of the religious sciences. Of course, the acquisition of knowledge is necessary, although in the same way that you take pains with the problems of fiqh and usul (law and jurisprudence), you must make efforts in the path of self-reformation. Every step forward, which you take in the acquisition of knowledge, should be matched by a step taken to beat down the desires of the soul, to strengthen one's spiritual powers, to acquire nobility of character, and to gain spirituality and piety.

The learning of these sciences in reality is an introduction to the refinement of the soul and the acquisition of virtue, manners and divine knowledge. Do not spend your entire life with the introduction, so that you leave aside the conclusion. You are acquiring these sciences for the sake of a high and holy aim: knowing God and refining the self. You should make plans to realize the results and effects of your work, and you should be serious about reaching your fundamental and basic goal.

When you enter the seminary, before anything else, you should plan to reform yourselves. While you are in the seminary, along with your studies, you should refine yourselves, so that when you leave the seminary and become the leader of a people in a city or district, they may profit from you, take advice from you, and reform themselves by means of your deeds and manners and your ethical virtues. Try to reform and refine yourselves before you enter among the people. If now, while you are unencumbered, you do not reform yourselves, on the day when people come before you, you will not be able to reform yourselves.

Many things ruin people and keep them from studying and purifying themselves, and one of them, for some, is this very beard and turban! When the turban becomes a bit large, and the beard gets long, if one has not refined oneself, this can hinder one's studies, and restrict one. It is difficult to trample the carnal self under one's feet, and to sit at the feet of another for lessons. Shaykh Tusi, may ALLAH (SWT) have mercy on him, at the age of fifty-two would go to classes, while between the ages of twenty and thirty, he wrote some of his books! His Tahdhib was possibly written during this period. Yet at the age of fifty-two he attended the classes of the late Sayyid Murtada and thereby achieved such station as he did.

God forbid that prior to acquiring good habits and strengthening one's spiritual powers that one's beard should turn a bit white and that his turban should get big, so that he would lose the blessings of knowledge and spirituality. So work, before your beards become white before you gain the attention of the people, think about your state! God forbid that before a person develops himself, that people should pay heed to him, that he should become a personality and have influence among the people, causing him to lose his soul. Before you lose hold of the reins of your self, develop and reform yourself! Adorn yourselves with good traits, and remove your vices! Become sincere in your lessons and discussions, so that you may approach God! If one does not have sincere intentions, one will be kept at a distance from the divine precincts. Beware that, after seventy years, when the book of your deeds is opened, ALLAH (SWT) forbid, that you should have been far from God Almighty for seventy years.

Have you heard the story of the stone', which fell into hell? Only after seventy years was the sound of it's hitting the bottom of hell heard. According to a narration, the Prophet, may the Peace and Blessings of ALLAH (SWT) be with him and with his Progeny, said that it was an old man who died after seventy years, and during this seventy years he was falling into hell.

Be careful that in the seminary that you do not reach hell by your own labor of fifty years, more or less, and the sweat of your brow! You had better think! Make plans in the field of refinement and purification of the soul, and reformation of character. Choose a teacher of morals for yourself; and arrange sessions for advice, counsel, and admonition. Yourself cannot refill you. If there is no place in the seminary for moral counselors and sessions of advice and exhortation, it will be doomed to annihilation.

How could it be that fiqh and usul should require teachers for lessons and discussions, and that for every science and skill a teacher is necessary, and no one becomes an expert or learned in any field spontaneously and by himself, yet with regard to the spiritual and ethical sciences, which are the goal of the mission of the prophets and are among the most subtle and exact sciences, they do not require teaching and learning, and one may obtain them oneself without a teacher? I have heard on numerous occasions that the late Shaykh Ansari, was a student of a great Sayyid who was a teacher of ethics and spirituality.

The prophets of God were raised in order to train people, to develop humanity, and to deliver them from ugliness, filth, corruption, pollution and moral turpitude, and to-acquaint them with virtue and good manners: "I was raised in order to complete noble virtues" (makarim al-akhlaq). This knowledge, which was considered by God the Almighty to be so important that he raised the prophets

for it, is now considered unfashionable in the seminaries for our clergy. No one gives it the importance of which it is worthy. Due to the lack of spiritual and gnostic works in the seminaries, material and worldly problems have come so far as to penetrate the clergy (ruhaniyat), and has kept many of them away from holiness and spirituality (ruhaniyat) so that they do not even know what ruhaniyat means, nor what the responsibilities of a cleric are and what kind of programs they should have. Some of them merely plan to learn a few words, return to their own localities, or somewhere else, and to grab facilities and position, and to wrestle with others (for them), like the one who said: "Let me study Sharh e Lum'ah and then I will know what to do with the village chief!" Do not be this way, that from the beginning you aim to win someone's position by studying, and that you intend to be the chief of some town or village. You may achieve your selfish desires and satanic expectations, but for yourself and the Islamic community you will gain nothing except harm and misfortune. Mu'awiyah was also a person in command for a long time, but for himself he achieved no result or benefit except curses and loathing and the chastisement of the afterlife.

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