In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his pure, immaculate and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth
You are very welcome dear gentlemen, dear brothers, Mr. Sadr and you professors, clergy and ladies. This meeting is a very good and energetic meeting. Mr. Sadr’s statements were beneficial, well-calculated and well-organized. The same is true of the statements made by our dear brother – that dear son of ours and that honorable clergy – on behalf of all the clergy. Of course, I am not obliged to answer the questions raised in the meeting. You should put these questions to the gentlemen in charge of the association. It is they who should provide answers. You asked for prayers and I will certainly pray. I will surely pray for you, God willing.
As for the issue of family – this was touched upon by both Mr. Sadr and that dear youth of ours – I too want to assert the point that spouses and families play a big role in the achievements of men. We know this from experience: if one’s wife is one’s comrade and colleague and if they share our goals, progress will be made very fast. This role exists, but not all familial issues related to rational matters so much so that everyone accepts them with reasoning. Part of these issues are related to emotional matters and to matters related to real life.
When Mr. Sadr stated that the clergy leave the house at six in the morning and return at nine in the evening, I do not agree with this at all. Why six in the morning? You have set 10 hours for the clergy and professors to work, which is quite long. Well, this is your plan and I do not naturally intervene in the details of plans, but from six to nine in the evening, this takes 15 hours, not 10 hours. Why should this be the case? The gentlemen study their lessons and do their job and they possibly have a chat together. And after that, they probably participate in a rowza. However, this is not necessary. They should attend to their family. Your wife needs your presence and this is important.
Of course, presence does not mean that you should always be at home because your wife is definitely not satisfied with that either and she will grow tired of it. She would say, “Why do you not go to work?” However, if you are always absent, that will not be good either. That will not be appropriate. Of course, I myself, who is saying these things to you, experienced something similar – which I am opposed to today – at a certain stage of my life. I used to live like that. In the beginning of the Revolution, I used to leave home while all the kids were asleep and I used to return while all kids were asleep. Things were really like that. However, back then, it was not possible to change this. It was not possible at all. As is commonly said, I did not have any time to even scratch my head [a well-known expression in Farsi]. However, you who thankfully have a normal life should attend to your families.
Ladies too should of course have an occupation. The best occupation for ladies is a scholarly occupation. I have heard that a number of ladies are members of female clerical groups. It is good for them to be busy working, doing scholarly work and engaging in discussions and the like. This is very good.
Regarding the Fiqh Association, I do not believe that this is the only active place in Qom. This is not the case. Thankfully, as you mentioned, there are different places, all of which are busy working. This task was begun based on a sense of responsibility. Well, Mr. Sadr has thankfully shouldered this responsibility with complete merit and he is seriously working on it. The motive behind the task was the outlook towards the significance of Islamic seminaries and their numerous and countless untapped capacities and also the need of the Islamic government to benefit from these capacities.
One part of the matter is that we have an Islamic government which is involved with the economy – the economy was cited by the gentlemen in the meeting as well – with the government of the country, with culture, with up-to-date science, with new technologies in the world, with different social interactions and with lifestyle. There are constantly new thoughts and theories in the world which affect life and they are constantly being exported. These elements exist. We have a government with such phenomena and such events which exist around and inside it.
This government should be run with Islam and with Islamic thoughts. The practical aspect of Islamic thoughts is Islamic fiqh. Of course, I am not opposed to studying philosophy at all and I completely approve it because philosophy is necessary as well. How it should be incorporated into your plans, this depends on the planning of the honorable managers. However, philosophy is good and essential. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. There is no doubt about this, but what helps manage life in practice is our fiqh.
The reason is that over the course of time, Islamic philosophy has not enjoyed continuity. In other words, our theoretical knowledge has not been extended to practical knowledge. That is while western philosophies, which have less content and which are weaker than Islamic philosophy in terms of containing the essence of philosophy, benefits from operational continuity. This means that if you are a person believing in the philosophies of Kant, Hegel and Marx, you have opinions about government, about individuality and about social interactions. However, when it comes to the requirements of Mulla Sadra’s and Ibn Sina’s philosophy on the issue of government and such and such issues, nothing has been clarified to us. This does not mean that they have no opinion on such matters because they certainly do. I have always advised philosophers and philosophical activists to find this continuity because I believe that it will be influential. This continuity exists, but it has not been worked on. Therefore, what can manage society in the present time is our fiqh. This was about the outside requirements and needs and the role of Islamic seminaries.
As I mentioned, Islamic seminaries have certain capacities. There are really countless capacities. The attention to detail that one witness in fiqhi discussions and on certain insignificant matters among faqihs – such matters are not very important in scholarly terms and in terms of their position among Islamic rules – are really astonishing. There is such depth, precision and attention to details in the works of our faqihs and our ulama. Well, this is a very important capacity and phenomenon. Once, I was discussing a certain matter on qisas [legal retribution] and our friends and colleagues, who were familiar with the viewpoints of western legislators, explained them to me and I would sometimes look at their viewpoints on different matters. Well, there is good precision in their work, but there is a great deal of difference between their work and the works of – for example – Sahib Jawaher and the late Ayatullah Khuyi, our contemporary faqih. The works of our fuqaha are much deeper and much more exact. They pay much more attention to the requirements of fatwa and to their viewpoints. Well, these are the capacities of Islamic seminaries.
Islamic seminaries can satisfy all the needs of the Islamic government and Islamic society. As Mr. Sadr mentioned, if associations and organizations – for example, the central bank and universities in general are some other examples of organizations – have certain questions for their Islamic management, who should they refer to? They should refer to Islamic seminaries. In the present time, this is not happening. At the moment, this does not exist. Let us cite an example in this regard. Examples like this are often very very rare. One day, the Pakistanis decided to establish Islamic banking. They called on Islamic fuqaha and Islamic scholars to work on this. Then, Shahid Sadr, wrote “Al-Bank al-la Ribawi fi al-Islam” (Usury-free Banking in Islam) and he sent it to them. Well, this is only an example. That to what extent that book meets the needs of the banking system in today’s world, this is another discussion. It might have certain shortcomings, but after all, an answer was provided.
How many of these answers do you know about? They are very very few in number. If there is a second and third one, there is certainly no tenth one. That is while Islamic seminaries have the capability to do so. The methods utilized in Islamic seminaries and the way they conduct research allow them to benefit from precision, depth and subtlety by nature. This is one of our advantages and Islamic seminaries can carry out this task. Considering the needs that exist today, the motivation to work has increased. Therefore, Islamic seminaries should fulfil this dream. That was why we thought of launching this project from somewhere in the country. As I mentioned earlier, we do not claim that this is the only place that works on this matter. Others are also working on it. There are good and beneficial associations in Islamic seminaries who are carrying out certain tasks, but this is also another association in this regard.
In my opinion, Mr. Sadr and his friends have done good planning. Their colleagues have done good planning. This planning is an efficient one. When it is said that this project is “under my supervision” it does not mean that I pay careful attention to the programs and plans and that I express my viewpoint. This is not what it means as I do not have the time to do so. This project is being developed by the gentlemen themselves, but they are somehow extending it to me. It is the gentlemen themselves who are doing this task.
I would like to mention that the method utilized in teaching during which the clergy participate in finding answers is a good and advantageous method, but teachers’ and professors’ dominance and control should not be overshadowed. After all, it is professors who guide the class, who endeavor hard and who finalize the work. Otherwise, if a certain matter is entrusted to the minds of ten, twenty clergy who participate in the class, it will not be clear if it leads to something fruitful. Therefore, it is professors who should guide, but if the clergy help and cooperate, it will be good as well.
Regarding usul [the principles of Islamic jurisprudence], he mentioned that it lasts 15 years in Islamic seminaries on average. This is very surprising news to me: in my opinion, it is not good news at all. Usul is good and essential for fiqh. It is undoubtedly necessary. Well, the late Mr. Khuyi (may God bestow paradise on him) was an usuli faqih. Who is more of an usuli faqih than him? In his fiqh, usul is completely clear and transparent. I have heard that his usul classes would last five years. Well, what would he do to shorten it? What would he eliminate to turn it into five years? Therefore, usul can be taught in five, six years. When it is said that it is 15 years on average, it means that it sometimes lasts 20 years! How much should they read? Why should they read so much? What is the use of it? Where in fiqh can they use those usuli points? In my opinion, we should follow a more abridged and shortened approach. We should be careful about it. Usul is different from fiqh. Fiqh is very broad in scope. You can work as much as you want on it. In my opinion, this will be very good.
The questions raised by that dear brother and youth of ours are very important questions. I request that Mr. Sadr and other brothers sit and clarify these matters to the clergy, but I also wish to advise youth to pay attention to their youth. In other words, everything that you want and everything that you feel you need is not necessary and beneficial to you. You should not wait 30 years to become old and then figure this out. Well, we have passed through these 30, 40 years and we know certain things. You should benefit from the experience of those who experienced these things. Not all these things are necessary. In order to find out how one should act on a political analysis and whose opinion one should benefit from or if one should benefit from everyone’s viewpoint, these issues are not clear. In certain cases, specific things might be required.
However, what I want to say to the clergy of this association is that they should follow their professors. They should attach significant to the viewpoints and judgements of their professors and those who run this association. They should follow them so that this association can become a disciplined association and so that it can remain a disciplined organization and move forward, God willing. If it is not a disciplined organization, it will not move forward.
In terms of quantity too, the officials in charge made an announcement, but because you did not mention the numbers, I do not know how many clergy you want to hire at different levels. Therefore, I have no opinion in that regard. The more careful we carry out the task, the better it will be. Every step that we want to take, we should know where we want to put it and we should move in a solid way. This is better. The task might be carried out in a slow manner, but it is alright. Acting in a slow and solid manner is better than acting in a hasty, uncertain and weak manner.
I have another point in my mind. I have always believed in this about the entirety of Islamic seminaries, but up to now, it has not happened. I have discussed this many times with the officials in charge of Islamic seminaries – particularly with the ones in Qom – but it is apparently difficult for them. The point is that a person who studies a clerical field needs certain certificates and proof of graduation. The great mistake was that they coordinated these certificates with academic certificates. In the beginning, they even wanted to refer to such certificates as Ph.D. and other such titles, but it was wrong. Later on, they found an equivalent. However, this is not necessary at all. You should determine how you should address a person who studies the first three general years – you have a three general years. We should determine how we should address a clergy who studies these three years at this association, which is not necessarily compatible with three years of studying in a private association, as there are more characteristics in studying as a clergy.
You should designate a title for such clergy. After that, you have another three years during which time you do expert work. The individuals who pass those three years will acquire certain qualifications. You should designate a title for them as well. The association should testify that the individuals have reached such and such a level. Then, you hold a two-year course during which you do research work and the like. When the clergy pass those two years, they acquire new qualifications. The same is true of our westernized universities which have copied the west. In the past, during our youth, they used to refer to them as “the first cycle”, “the second cycle” and other such titles. High schools were also comprised of two phases: they used to refer to them as “the first and second cycles.” After that, we had diplomas, bachelors, masters and Ph.Ds. There are certain levels and degrees. According to the qualifications that have been acquired, they specify certain titles and they give certain certificates.
Without copying them and trying to coordinate your work with them, you should outline your certificates. In my opinion, it is not at all appropriate to coordinate our work with them and say that such and such clerical course are equivalent to Ph.Ds., to masters and to bachelors. This does not make any sense because our work is different from theirs. When you pass those last two years, you acquire certain qualifications. You should determine what you should refer to it and then you should grant a certificate. I think that this will be very good. Of course, since long ago, we have had such a system. The permission to exercise ijtihad, which was common in the past, was the same thing. The clergy would reach a point where they could become a mujtahid. In the past, it was common to issue the permission to practice ijtihad.
They would also allow others who would progress in hadith to engage in the narration of hadith. They would allow them to narrate hadith. This was common back then. Nowadays, it is unfortunately not common. It is really unfortunate that this does not exist anymore because it would be very good if it continued. The gentlemen in the meeting know that they do not issue the permission to practice ijtihad because they fear that it might have certain consequences. However, we can act in a way that there will be no consequences. You yourselves can initiate this. You can issue certain certificates for such and such levels of seminary education. This is another point.
The next point is about the question put to me regarding hadith and the Quran – familiarity with the Quran and hadith – and my suggestions on this matters. Of course, I am not familiar with your current curricula. The officials in charge have taken the trouble to devise certain curricula and therefore, I cannot jump into it from the middle of the work to suggest how tafsir should be conducted. However, I believe that you should not drift away from tafsir. Tafsir might not be part of your curricula and you might not need to have it as part of your curricula, but it is absolutely necessary.
For example, you can have a tafsir course on Majma al-Bayan, which is a very good tafsir. Majma al-Bayan is a very scholarly tafsir. In certain parts and in commentating on certain ayahs, the late Tabarsi has shown his clerical skill and his competence in reasoning. Certain parts are like this. And in certain parts, there was no need. In my opinion, it is necessary to work on the Quran and tafsir separately. The same is true of hadith which is one of your needs. You need hadith sources in order to practice fiqh. You naturally need ilm al-rijal, hadith and knowledge in this field. Perhaps, you have these courses in your curricula. It is perhaps part of your lessons. This is the way to work on this field.
The last point that I want to raise is that you should take care not to let the revolutionary orientation be sacrificed for any of the criteria and requirements of the association. You should pay attention to revolutionary orientation. If our clergy, our professors, our scholars and our marja taqlids believe in the great transformation that is referred to as the Revolution, they will be able to be valuable to the country. However, if they do not believe in it, they will not be valuable to the country and to the Islamic Republic. They should believe in it. When I speak about revolutionary seminaries, this does not mean that the clergy should chant slogans here and there. Of course, if it is necessary somewhere, they should chant slogans as well. Whenever necessary, I myself chant slogans too, but the important point is that they should firmly and completely believe that the transformation that has happened in the country should continue its path. Change and transformation are not phenomena that can be stopped. Transformation means a change that should be better, stronger, deeper and more complete on a daily basis. This should continue and we should believe in it.
We should identify the enemies. We should identify the enemies of our government. We should identify the enemies of this transformation movement. If we fail to identify them, the country will suffer from stagnation and it will be subjugated by the policies and orientations of our people’s enemies and the enemies of Islam. I will tell you that today, the world of Islam is looking at the Islamic Republic, in its entirety. Today, in the world of Islam, orientation towards the revival of Islam and towards an Islamic lifestyle is abundant in the true sense of the word. The people and nations who are frustrated with western and eastern worldly civilizations are oriented towards Islam, but they do not have a shelter, a reference point, a criterion and column against which they can lean. That is why, their outlook towards the Islamic Republic is a real outlook. This exists.
Of course, the enemies do not allow and do not want this to become clear, but this exists anyway. Today, if there is a trace and sign of the Islamic Republic in every Islamic-Arab country – where the leaders are thirsty for our blood – and if one of our personalities go there or if a book written in our country is published there without the government’s intervention, the people will welcome them. In the present time, almost all Islamic countries – ranging from the east to the west: countries ranging from Indonesia, Malaysia to countries in Africa – are like this. The people in those countries have pinned their hopes on us. Today, the world of Islam needs our revolutionary movement.
The people inside the country who make certain statements and do certain things which are different from our revolutionary orientation are damaging the hopes of the Islamic Ummah although they are not against this orientation. The fact that their statements are different is enough. This is damage to their hopes and they are committing an act of treason. Therefore, your moves should be revolutionary and your work should be revolutionary as well.
And the last point is about spiritual attention. Without spiritual attention, it is not really possible to do these things. They are not possible without supplication, without dua, without night prayers and without reading Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah. If we do not want to preserve our heartfelt and spiritual relationship with God and if we do not watch over it, the task will not move forward. May God show mercy on the late Hajj Ahmad Aqa [Imam Khomeini’s son] who once said that he would see Imam weeping in the middle of the night. Well, Imam was an old man, aged about 80, 90 years at that time. He said that ordinary tissues would not suffice for wiping his tears. So, he would put face and hand towels in front of him so that he could wipe his tears. Therefore, God blessed and helped him because of that spirituality and because of those supplications and requests before Allah the Exalted.
You clergy are young. Your hearts are pure and unstained. You have fewer entanglements and you can perfectly draw your hearts to God. You should say daily prayers with due attention. You should get attached to duas, supplications and the Imams’ (greetings be upon them) prayers. In particular, I advise you to say night prayers as much as you can. Even if you sometimes fail to perform it, you should perform it later on and you should not abandon it. You should pursue these actions because they will be very efficient. They will enlighten you and such enlightenment will help you find the way. You cannot ask certain things of other individuals and their answers will not be valuable. Sometimes, one hears something from another individual, but it will not exert any influence. If that enlightenment appears in you, it will open hearts and it will give you spiritual exaltation. And you are young: you are ahead of and better than us in that regard. It is easier for you, than for us, to pursue these matters.
I hope that God will bestow success on you. I too will pray for you and you pray for me as well.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings