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Thursday 2nd of December 2021
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The Sermon of Mina -3

Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil has been made a duty primarily for the sake of accomplishing these high aims. We have restricted it, how ever, to a narrow category of affairs where harm is suffered chiefly by the individual who is guilty of a sin by deed or by omission. We have the idea firmly, in our heads that the instances of evil we are called upon to combat (munkarat) are only the things we encounter or hear about in every day life. For example, if someone plays music while we are riding on the bus, or the owner of a coffee house does something wrong, or someone eats in the middle of the bazaar during Ramadhan. an, we regard all these things as instances of evil we must denounce. Meanwhile, we remain totally oblivious to far greater evils.

Those who are destroying the welfare of Islam and trampling on the rights of the weak, it is they whom we must force to desist from evil. If a collective protest were made against the oppressors who commit an improper act or crime, if several thousand telegrams were sent to them from all the Islamic countries telling them to desist, to relinquish their errors, they certainly would desist. If every time a step were taken or a speech given against the interests of Islam and the welfare of the people, those responsible were condemned throughout the country, in every single village and hamlet, they would be obliged to retreat. Could they possibly do other wise? Never! I know them; I know what kind of people they are. They are very cowardly and would retreat very quickly. But if they see that we are more gutless than they are, they will give themselves airs and do whatever they want. When the 'ulama' of Qumm met and banded together on one occasion, and the provinces supported them by sending delegations and delivering speeches to show their solidarity, the regime retreated and canceled the measure we were objecting to. Afterwards they were able to cool our enthusiasm and weaken us; they divided us up and invented a separate "religious duty" for each of us. As a result of the differing opinions that appeared among us, they grew bold again, and now they do whatever they want with the Muslims and this Islamic country of ours.

The Doyen of the Martyrs (upon whom be peace) speaks of 'summoning men to Islam while at the same time remedying oppression and opposing the oppressors"; it is for the sake of these great aims that enjoining the good and forbidding the evil has been made a duty. If some poor grocer does something wrong, he has not harmed Islam, but only himself. In performing our duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, we must pay closest attention to those who harm Islam and those who, under various pretexts, plunder the people's means of livelihood.

On occasion we read in the paper, sometimes it is stated humorously, some times seriously, that many of the items collected for the victims of floods or earthquakes are picked up by our rulers for their own use. One of the 'ulam'a' of Malayer told me that the people had wanted to send a truckload of shrouds for the victims of some disaster, but the police refused to let them through and even tried to confiscate the lead! "Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil" is most imperative in such cases.

Now let me ask you, were the subjects mentioned by the Doyen of the Martyrs in his sermon addressed only to his companions who were gathered around him listening to his words? Does not the phrase "O people, take heed" address us too? Are we not included in "people"? Should we not profit from this address of the Doyen of the Martyrs? As I stated at the beginning of this discussion, the subjects contained in the sermon of the Doyen of the Martyrs were not intended for a single group or class. His address was more in the nature of a circular directed to all commanders, ministers, rulers, fuqaha', in short, to the whole world, particularly those who are alive and fully conscious. The circulars he issued belong together with the Qur'an in the sense that they demand our obedience until the Day of Resurrection. The verse referred to in the address speaks only of the Jewish scholars and rabbis, but its purport is universal. The Jewish scholars and rabbis were condemned by God because fear or covetousness made them keep silent in the face of the misdeeds of the oppressors, where as if they had spoken or cried out in protest, they could have prevented oppression from occurring. If the 'ulama' of Islam likewise fail to rise up against the oppressors and remain silent instead, they too will be condemned.

After addressing the people in general, the Doyen of the Martyrs then turns to a particular group, the 'ulama' of Islam, and tells them: You enjoy prestige and standing in society; the nation of Islam respects and venerates you. You are held in awe and have high standing in society because you are expected to rise up against the oppressors in defence of the truth and to compel the oppressor to enforce the rights of the oppressed. Men have placed their hopes in you for the establishment of justice and the prevention of transgression by the oppressors.

Thus you have reached a certain station and rank. But you have failed to perform the duties of your station. If some harm were to befall the father of one of you, or if, God forbid, someone were to insult him, you would be greatly distressed and would cry out in protest. But now that God's covenants are being violated before your very eyes and Islam is being dishonoured, you keep silent and are not distressed even in your hearts, for if you were distressed, you would be bound to raise your voices in protest. The blind, the dumb, and the bed-ridden are being destroyed and nobody shows any concern; no one is concerned for the wretched, barefooted people. Do you imagine all that bombastic propaganda being broadcast on the radio is true? Go see for yourself at first hand what state our people are living in. Not even one out of every two hundred villages has a clinic. No one is concerned about the poor and the hungry, and they do not allow the measures Islam has devised for the sake of the poor to be implemented. Islam has solved the problem of poverty and inscribed it at the very top of its programme: "Sadaqat is for the poor." Islam is aware that first, the conditions of the poor must be remedied, the conditions of the deprived must be remedied. But they do not allow the plans of Islam to be implemented.

Our wretched people subsist in conditions of poverty and hunger, while the taxes that the ruling class extorts from them are squandered. They buy Phantom jets so that pilots from Israel and its agents can come and train in them in our country. So extensive is the influence of Israel in our country, Israel, which is in a state of war with the Muslims, so that those who support it are likewise in a state of war with the Muslims, and so great is the support the regime gives it, that Israeli soldiers come to our country for training! Our country has become a base for them! The markets of our country are also in their hands. If matters go on this way, and the Muslims continue to be apathetic, the Muslims will lose all say in the commercial life of the country.

To return to the address of the Doyen of the Martyrs (upon whom be peace): You have not made proper use of your station. Not only do you do nothing yourselves; you fail to support the person who does want to do his duty. The only source of concern and satisfaction for you is that you have the support and respect of the oppressor, that he addresses you as 'Noble Shaikh'! What the nation suffers at the hands of the government is of no concern to you. The disaster that has befallen you is greater than what has befallen others for the true rank and degree of 'ulama' have been taken away from you. The administration of affairs and the implementation of law ought to be undertaken by those who are knowledgeable concerning God and are trustees of God's ordinances concerning what is permitted and what is forbidden. But that rank has been taken away from you. The Imam (upon whom be peace) could have said at this point: "What is my right has been taken away from me, but you do not come to my aid," or, "The rights of the Imams have been taken away, but you have kept silent." Instead, he spoke of those "knowledgeable con-cerning God" (al-ulama bi Allah'), meaning the religious scholars, (rabbaniyyun) or leaders. Here he is not referring to the philosophers or mystics, for the person knowledgeable concerning God is the one who is learned in God's ordinances. It is such a person who is designated a religious scholar (ruhani or rabbani), naturally on condition that spirituality (ruhuniyyat) and orientation to God Almighty be fully apparent in the Imam went on: But your position has been usurped from you for no other reason but that you have abandoned the pivot of truth and have disagreed about the nature of the Sunnah, despite the existence of clear proofs, But if you were to show strength in the face of hardship and suffering for God's sake, then the conduct of affairs, as willed by God Would be restored to you; command and authority would be yours. If you were to act correctly and perform your duty, you would see that the conduct of affairs would be bound over to you. If the form of government willed by Islam were to come into being, none of the governments now existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate. But unfortunately, we have failed to establish such a government Even in the earliest age of Islam, its opponents hindered its establishment and prevented government from being entrusted to the person chosen by God and His Messenger precisely in order to prevent what has happened. "You allowed the oppressors to take away your functions." When you failed to perform your duties and abandoned the task of government, it became possible for the oppressors to take over the position that was legitimately yours. "You allowed the affairs of God to fall into, their hands so they came to conduct them on the basis of their suppositions and arbitrary desires. What enabled them to win this control was your panic stricken flight from being killed, and your attachment to the life of this world. You have delivered the powerless into their clutches, so that Some of the people are now subjugated like slaves and others are deprived of even their livelihood." All of this applies to the age we live in; in fact, it applies more fully to the present than to the time of the Imam (upon whom be peace). "The rulers are entirely absorbed in the pleasures of kingship, earning shame and disgrace for themselves with their licentiousness, following evil counselors, and showing impudence toward God One of their appointed spokesmen mounts the minbar in each city to tell lies." In those days, preachers would praise the oppressors it from the minbar. Today, radio stations fill the air with propaganda on their behalf and maliciously misrepresent the ordinances of Islam.

"The earth is defenseless against them." Now, too, the oppressors can freely exploit the earth, without any obstruction; there is no one to stand in their way, "They grab freely whatever they want [of the earth". The people are their slaves and are powerless to defend themselves. One ruler is an obstinate tyrant, while another represses his wretched subjects ruthlessly, and still another refuses in his absolutism to recognize God as the beginning and end of all things. Is it not strange how could one not think it strange, that the world is in the clutches of cunning tyrants, oppressive tax collectors, and governors who have no compassion for the believers under their rule? It is God Who will judge concerning what is at dispute among us, and deliver a decisive verdict concerning all that occurs among us. O God! You know that everything we did was not prompted by rivalry for political power, nor by desire for the chattels of this world. Rather it was done in order to demonstrate the signs of Your religion, to reform the affairs of Your land, to protect the oppressed among Your servants, and to act in accordance with the duties, norms, and ordinances You have established. So, O scholars of religion! Help us reach our goal and obtain our rights. The oppressors will wax strong in their efforts against you and will attempt to put out the light kindled by your Beloved [the Prophet] . But God suffices us; upon Him do we rely, to Him do we turn, and to Him is our journeying. As we said, the entire address from beginning to end is addressed to the 'ulama'. There is no indication that the persons intended by the expression "those knowledgeable about God" are the Imams (upon whom be peace). They are the scholars of Islam, the rabbaniyyun. The designation rabbani refers to one who believes in God, fulfills God's ordinances, and is knowledgeable concerning those ordinances, as a trustee of God's decrees concerning what is permitted and what is forbidden.

When the Imam (upon whom be peace) said that the conduct of affairs belongs to the 'ulama', he did not mean to restrict this function to a period of ten or twenty years, or simply to the city and people of Medina. It is apparent from the whole speech that his meaning was more universal, that he had in mind a vast community that would undertake the establishment of justice.

If the 'ulama', who are the trustees of God's decrees concerning what is permitted and what is forbidden and who possess the two characteristics of knowledge and justice as set forth above, if they were to implement God's ordinances, to execute the penal provisions of the law, and generally to conduct and administer the affairs of the Muslims, the people would no longer be hungry and wretched and the laws of Islam would no longer be in abeyance.

The tradition containing this noble speech, then, is part of the evidence supporting our thesis, the governance of the faqih. Were its chain of transmission not weak, we could cite it as a direct proof. Even as it stands, we might say that the content of the tradition, being veracious, bears witness that it was uttered by one of the Masumeen.

 

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