Jumuah lecture on Friday 11 February 2022 (9 Rajab 1443)
Moulana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid
Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) explains in verse 36 of Surah Nahl (chapter 16 of the Holy Quran) the purpose for sending Prophets (a.s) to every nation, namely to promote His worship and to reject Satan and fake gods:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلَالَةُ ۚ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger saying: Serve Allah and shun the Shaitan. So there were some of them whom Allah guided and there were others against whom error was due; therefore travel in the land, then see what was the end of the rejecters.
There are various verses of the Holy Quran which explicitly address the purpose of Prophets (a.s) ie. why 124,000 divine Prophets (a.s) came to the earth. These different verses explain the roles, aims and objectives which these divine Prophets (a.s) were sent for.
However, the above referenced verse summarizes all their aims and objectives succinctly, namely worshipping Allah (SWT) ie. Tauheed and dissociating from anything which rebels against the sovereignty of Almighty Allah (SWT). Of course, the greatest manifestation of this is Satan, together with the representatives of Satan in the form of oppressive rulers and kings and oppressive systems. It goes further to also include the internal Satan, which incites us to rebel against Almighty Allah (SWT).
PASSIVE ISLAM IS INDIVIDUAL WORSHIP WITHOUT SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
“Taghut” as noted in this verse is therefore an all-inclusive term to represent anything which invites you in the opposite direction of Almighty Allah (SWT).
So, the one purpose of Prophets (a.s) is to exhort people towards the worship of Almighty Allah (SWT). This means to surrender before Him. The second purpose is to reject anything which is anti-God. This is a crucial point to understand because we often think that if we worship Almighty Allah (SWT) and only Him, we automatically reject Taghut and Satan.
This may be true to a certain extent but is not always the case and hence may be confusing. The problem is that we often think that doing only worship of Almighty Allah (SWT) is sufficient and there is no need to resist against “Taghut”. However, this verse and numerous other verses prescribe that the Prophets (a.s) came with two purposes, namely:
- Invitation towards Tauheed and worship of One Allah (SWT); and
- Rejection of Taghut
This means that it is not only the practice of Ibadah (acts of worship), because you can worship Almighty Allah (SWT) in your little corner, praying day and night, and do all different forms of Ibadah. This is very individualistic when you restrict yourself to this first purpose and be confined to your own world, while not giving any attention to what is happening outside where anti-God forces are operating in full force to oppose His laws and system.
TRAVEL THROUGH HISTORY TO UNDERSTAND THE DESTINY OF OPPRESSORS
What we learn from this verse is that this Ibadah is not sufficient unless it is together with the rejection of Taghut, resistance against injustice and oppression.
After explaining the purposes for which Prophets (a.s) were sent to the earth, this verse states that there are those people who were guided as a result of the propagation by these divine Prophets (a.s), and there are those people on whom misguidance has been established. They are unfortunately lost!
This verse ends with a challenge for us to travel and explore what the destiny was of those who deny. Physical travelling is one aspect but journeying through history is also a travel. An example is reading the history of the Pharaohs and kings…what they were and what was their destiny, after clashing with those who were on the path of the Prophets (a.s) resisted against them. This is the purpose of tourism!!! It is not only about having fun, but also to experience the destiny of oppressors!
11 FEBRUARY 1979: VICTORY OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IN IRAN
Today, 11 February, reminds us of a similar phenomenon in our recent history, which will be permanently etched as a turning point for the world in resisting against Taghut. What I am referring to is the experience of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. This great victory, under the leadership of Ayatullah al-Uzma Imam Ruhullah Khomeini (r.a).
If one studies the nature of this revolution, we will realize that it is based on these two prime purposes noted in the above verse. The core message of the Islamic Revolution was and is without any doubt the invitation towards Tauheed and rejecting or refusing to surrender before Taghut. Simple as that!
This was the core message of the Islamic Revolution which Imam Khomeini (r.a) presented. He invited people, and this Tauheed, along with the rejection of Taghut (as explained earlier), is not possible unless and until your whole system of operating your life is based upon Tauheed. I hope I have crystalized this point.
Why am I insisting on the invitation towards the worship of Almighty Allah (SWT), along with the rejection of Taghut? The reason is that individual Ibadah is possible without rejecting Taghut. However, the implication of Tauheed on your whole life from all aspects of your life, including socio-political, is not possible without rejecting evil and all forms of anti-God forces.
ISLAMIC REVOLUTION REMAINS STEADFAST ON ITS ORIGINAL PATH AND CORE VALUES
Imam Khomeini (r.a) invited people to this type of Tauheed with the Islamic Revolution, which encompasses your whole system of life. Of course, Taghut will not allow if you want to follow this type of Tauheed!!! This results in the clash with Taghut being impossible to avoid! Hence, the resistance against Taghut is crucial.
That is why we reflect on this as the core values and philosophy of the Islamic Revolution, today on the 43rd anniversary of its victory. Naturally, like any revolution, the Islamic Revolution has lots of ups and downs, highs and lows.
There may well be observations of shortcomings or reservations people may have, but nobody can deny the fact that this revolution never deviated from the direction of its original path, which was inviting people towards One God (SWT) and rejecting evil.
Our beloved leader, Ayatullah al-Uzma Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, stated in his analysis of the Islamic Revolution, that if you compare it to all other revolutions over the past few centuries, you will find that the Islamic Revolution is the only one which has not deviated from its original path and core values.
Revolutions which we have experienced in history by the name of democracy and rights of the people, and to the left and right of this, have not stuck to its original core values, objectives and principles. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see where they started and the disaster they reached.
RELENTLESS PRESSURE FROM ENEMIES ONLY STRENGTHENS THE RESOLVE OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
The Islamic Revolution started 43 years ago, and what they have had to endure during this period is unimaginable! Let me state an eye-opening reflection to highlight the point, for us living in a country like South Africa, in the beautiful city of Cape Town, with no limitations, no restrictions, no pressures and unrestricted freedom of expression.
We cannot thank Almighty Allah (SWT) for this. We have unlimited freedom to promote whatever we believe in. We have no restrictions. In fact, it is so easy for us to praise the slogans and principles of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and the Islamic Revolution, such as “neither East nor West, Islam is best”, amongst many others, to stand against the hegemony of America and their Western allies.
It is similarly very easy for us to take an uncompromising position in support of the oppressed people, most notably the just cause of Palestine. For us, it is a nice discussion! It’s a beautiful talk and everyone enjoys what I am speaking about today, because we all probably agree with it.
However, this Iranian nation have paid a very hefty price for these slogans, which underlines their principled position of Tauheed and rejecting Taghut. For them, it certainly did not come for free, in fact, diametrically opposite to our comfortable situation here!
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN HAS NEVER COMPROMISED WITH THE ENEMIES
We all see how difficult life in the Islamic Republic of Iran has become. And then travel restrictions, with restrictions on money transfers, business difficulty, extreme inflation, currency devaluation, and the list goes on. The Iranian currency was pretty much in line with the dollar at 1:1 back then, 43 years ago (sometimes even slightly stronger than the US Dollar). Today, it is 30,000 for 1 US Dollar!
Their currency devaluation gives us a glimpse into the very heavy price these people are paying. Then there is also the suffocating sanctions and wars inflicted on them, most notably the ghastly Iran-Iraq war which lasted 8 years and destroyed their infrastructure. And today, we see the devastating effects of the economic war, with restrictions on the most basic needs.
When one reflects on this experience and reality of the Islamic Revolution over the past 43 years, then one struggles to believe how it is able to survive and sustain itself under such hostile opposition from external forces.
One can poke many holes in the current governance of Iran, but one thing is for sure, nobody can even think of pointing fingers suggesting the Islamic Revolution has compromised or collaborated with the enemies of Islam!
Nobody can dare say that the Islamic Revolution has changed from its original core path of Tauheed, Islam and the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) and its resistance inspired by the lessons from the tragedy of Karbala. Compare this to those countries for whom worldly temptations is the purpose of their life! There is nothing more important for such people than this world with its illusions!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) RELIED ON THE SUPPORT OF THE MASSES TO IMPLEMENT ISLAM
This is the unique, principled standing which the Islamic Revolution continues to hold, because it is deeply entrenched in the message of verse 36 of Surah Nahl, cited at the beginning of this discussion. The philosophy, vision and strategy of this Islamic Revolution is all Islamic.
From its conception, Imam Khomeini (r.a) based this revolution on two fundamental components:
- Islam; integrated with
- The people
This is how the country derived its name as the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of Iran. Imam Khomeini (r.a) never spoke about Islam as a separate entity from the people. It is an INTEGRATED revolution of Islam WITH the masses.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) very beautifully explained that when we consider Islam and the people as the two functional components of the Islamic Revolution, then this is congruent with the Quranic explanation of the purpose of the arrival of the divine Prophets (a.s) to this world. Verse 25 of Surah Hadid (Chapter 57 of the Holy Quran) sets out the mission of divine Prophets (a.s) to lay the foundation for the people to rise up and establish justice:
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ
We sent aforetime our messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice
Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi beautifully explains in his commentary of the Holy Quran, that the divine Prophets (a.s) did not come to this earth to IMPOSE their system on the people. Instead, they came to PRESENT the message of Almighty Allah (SWT) on a rational basis. And this results in the people standing up to establish justice in society.
ISLAMIC SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE IN IRAN IS THE WISH OF THE PEOPLE
This is the Quranic concept on which Imam Khomeini (r.a) modelled the Islamic Republic of Iran, by giving people the opportunity to establish Islam and justice in society by their free will.
During the very first days of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (r.a) called for a referendum on what seemed to be a rather rhetorical question on whether the people wish to have an Islamic system of governance or not. However, Imam Khomeini (r.a) wanted the people to make this choice on pure and pristine justice, as opposed to it being imposed on them.
This is the secret of the sustainability of this Islamic Revolution, that it is based on the people. We have often seen the Iranian nation may be frustrated at their current reality and may utter statements venting against the leadership due to the heavy pressures they are having to endure. However, what is truly remarkable is that whenever this Islamic Revolution faces a serious test or existential threat, these very same people will be the staunch defenders of the Islamic Revolution!
This is witnessed even today in the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, where people flooded the streets, despite the current high numbers of coronavirus cases, and came in their cars and bikes to make this statement of pride in the Islamic Revolution.
We all saw two years ago when General Qasim Soleimani (r.a) and Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandas (r.a) were martyred by the worst enemies of Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The manner in which all the people came out onto the streets to show their support and solidarity for them, and outrage against the enemies, such that the West was totally perplexed in trying to understand this.
With such extensive suffering that the people of Iran are going through due to the economic war imposed through the suffocating sanctions, resulting in a terrible standard of living, these same people do not mind coming in their millions to support the Islamic Revolution!
Show us another example…it simply is not there. Neither the people are there with their revolution, nor are the core principles and values protected in their revolution.
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) AND THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION OF IRAN IS BASED ON RATIONALITY
Another crucial defining feature, along with the important role of the masses, is that Imam Khomeini (r.a) emphasized that the criterion is the opinion of the people. This was an extremely bold position he took, which quite frankly, the majority of our religious scholars may not agree with, because the criteria are the Holy Quran and Hadith, whereas Imam Khomeini use to say that the criterion is the opinion of the people.
What Imam Khomeini (r.a) was trying to convey is that you cannot even impose the Holy Quran and Hadith on the people if they are not ready to come along with and support.
The rationality of this Islamic Revolution shines through like a beacon throughout! This is in diametric contrast to the image of the Islamic Revolution and its leadership, as presented by the West, who caste them as wild, uncivilized, irrational and harsh.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) and our current leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khamenei never, ever established their position and opinion based upon hate or ostracizing any contention.
This Islamic Revolution is well and truly a miracle of our time! We are all witness and evidence of how this revolution has inspired people, providing support and courage to people across the world.
Let us pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to protect His light in the form of this Islamic Revolution and grant them success and victory against all the challenges and threats which they are facing from different angles.
EXPORT OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION INSPIRES YOUNG GIRLS IN INDIA TO RESIST FOR THEIR HIJAB
I wish to end off with an important point to provoke further thinking. The Islamic Revolution and its leadership give courage to the people to stand for their rights. This is the meaning of exporting the revolution! Export of the Islamic Revolution does not mean that a branch of Iran must open in Cape Town, or we must be under the control of the Iranian “empire”.
The export of the Islamic Revolution which Imam Khomeini (r.a) spoke about was the export of its courage and spirit to stand up and resist.
43 years have passed, and this revolution continues to inspire. We are seeing in India today, where young girls are taking a courageous stance against these Hindu nationalists who are full of hate and ruthless disrespect towards Muslim women.
They are standing fearlessly for their right to wear Hijab. This spirit of resistance is what we see for the past 43 years, inspired by the Islamic Revolution, which was largely absent from the world scene before then. Today we see this spirit of resistance as a blessing of the Islamic Revolution!
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