Islamic unity: The Main Responsibility of Muslims
Unity, which is among the greatest and the most important duties of all Muslims, is one of the issues that I will stress today. The week leading to Rabi al-Awwal 12 was named as Unity Week at the beginning of the Revolution. That was because according to famous traditions narrated by our Sunni brothers, Rabi al-Awwal 12 marks the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet (S). But according to famous traditions narrated by the Shia, the Holy Prophet's (S) birth anniversary falls on Rabi al-Awwal 17.
At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the Iranian nation and government officials named the period between these two dates as Unity Week. They wanted Unity Week to be a symbolic representation of unity among Muslims. But it is not enough to choose names and talk about things. We must engage in action. We must move towards unity. The world of Islam is in need of unity today. There will be obstacles and sources of discord, but we must overcome these obstacles.
All great aspirations require serious efforts. No great aspiration can be achieved in the absence of serious efforts. Unity among Muslims is not an exception: It requires efforts. It is our duty to make efforts to create unity in the world of Islam. This unity can solve many problems. It can bring about glory for Muslim nations and communities.
Consider the current situation of the Muslim countries in the world. Look at the situation of Muslims, who currently make up one fourth of the entire world population. However, their role in world politics, even in their internal affairs, is far less important than the role of foreign governments and superpowers with evil intentions. The fact that I constantly advise our people and my audience against foreigners is not just because superpowers are foreigners. Rather that is because they have evil intentions. They seek to dominate us. They seek to humiliate Muslim nations and force them into complete conformity.
There are over fifty Muslim countries in the world. How can these Muslim countries stand up to these gross and evil intentions of domination? Is there any way other than unity? We must get closer. There are two major obstacles to unity and we must think of a way to remove them.
There is the internal obstacle that is the result of denominational bias. This bias affects all groups of people. We must overcome this bias. Having faith in one's creeds is laudable. It is also good to insist on these creeds. But this faith must not cross the line between logical argumentation and aggressive rejection of others' beliefs. Our brothers who are part of the Muslim Ummah must treat each other with respect. They have a right to adhere to their own beliefs, but they must respect others, their rights, and their beliefs.
Muslims must leave ideological debates to scholarly meetings. Ulama and scholars may engage in religious debates. But there is a difference between religious debates at scholarly meetings and an exchange of insults in public and in front of an audience who are not capable of scholarly analysis. Ulama and government officials must keep this under control. That is a duty that lies on the shoulders of all groups of Muslims, both Shia and Sunni.
Muslims must move towards unity. This ideological bias is an internal obstacle to unity. One external obstacle to unity is the efforts on the part of the enemies of Islam to foment discord. We must be totally vigilant against such efforts. These efforts are not a recent issue. They came into being the day the dominant political powers in the world realized that they could influence other nations.
But these goals are being currently pursued more vigorously than ever before. The modern means of communication have helped further their goals. These people try to foment discord. They coin incendiary slogans to create discord. We must be vigilant. Unfortunately, some people in Muslim countries act as a tool in the hands of the spiteful enemies who seek to harm us.
What happened in Lebanon and Palestine can teach us many lessons. Two years ago when the Lebanese resistance forces and the youth of Hezbollah inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Zionist regime, which was considered a victory for the world of Islam, the enemies immediately brought up the issue of Shia and Sunni and started to strengthen religious bias in Lebanon, in the Middle East, and in the entire world of Islam.
They pretended as if it was a new issue. That was because the Muslim Ummah had almost achieved unity thanks to that great victory. They sought to drive a wedge between Shia and Sunni Muslims. That goes back to two years ago.
Two months ago the Muslim Ummah gained another victory - that is, the victory of the Palestinian Resistance Movement over their Zionist enemies in Gaza. That was a great and glorious victory. What victory can be more impressive than defeating a powerful army that had managed to defeat three powerful armies between 1967and 1973? What could be more impressive than 22 days of futile efforts of a powerful army against the resisting youth and persistent soldiers of Gaza? The Zionist army was forced to retreat empty-handed.
In addition, the Zionist regime and its supporters, especially the US, were disgraced in the world. They were publicly disgraced. That was a great victory for all Muslims. It led Muslims to a kind of unity. This time they could not resort to the Shia-Sunni conflict. They brought up the issue of ethnicity this time. They started a debate, arguing that the Palestinian issue was an Arab issue and that non-Arabs had no right to get involved in the issue. The Palestinian issue is an Islamic issue. It is not peculiar to Arabs or non-Arabs.
If ethnicity was dragged into the matters of importance to the world of Islam, the greatest source of discord would be created. When ethnicity is dragged into the matters of importance to the world of Islam, Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Kurds, Indonesians, Malaysians, Pakistanis, and Indians will have to be separate from one another. What will remain of the Muslim Ummah if such a thing happens? Is it not a disaster for the Muslim Ummah and its collective capabilities?
These are the machinations of arrogant powers and, unfortunately, some people in the world of Islam have fallen for these machinations. They do not want to let the sweet memory of the victories in Lebanon and Gaza remain in the minds of Muslims. They found that situation unpleasant and, therefore, they thought up a source of discord to separate Muslims from one another.
The Muslim Ummah must be vigilant. It must stand up to these enemies. The most important duty lies on the shoulders of Muslim politicians. Government officials and heads of Islamic countries must be vigilant. Some of the politicians of the world of Islam may act as the mouthpiece of the enemies, but we must not make a mistake in this regard. We will not make mistakes in detecting the major causes of discord. The politicians of the world of Islam may shout the slogans of the arrogant powers.
It is the arrogant powers that are opposed to Islamic unity. Even if such divisive slogans are shouted by the members of the Islamic Ummah, we have to believe that these Muslims have fallen for the enemies' machinations. Those slogans do not belong to Muslims. They belong to the arrogant powers. We can recognize their slogans. The most important duty lies on the shoulders of politicians and government officials of Muslim countries as well as Muslim intellectuals and those who can influence the hearts and minds of the people - namely, religious scholars, intellectuals, writers, journalists, poets, men of letters, and the scholars of the Muslim world.
These people have to shoulder the major portion of the responsibility to inform the people of the causes that may disrupt the process of achieving this unity or take this firm divine handhold away from Muslims.
The Quran tells us clearly to "hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited." It is possible to "hold fast by the covenant of Allah" one by one, but the Holy Quran has told us to do it "all together and be not disunited".
"be not disunited" 1
We have been ordered to stick together and even when adhering to the divine covenant. The Holy Quran has advised us against adhering to this divine covenant one by one, let alone choosing to let go of the covenant or adhering to a satanic covenant.
Muslims have to stay together and preserve their unity even when they are supposed to adhere to the divine covenant. That is the greatest issue for the world of Islam. 2
Human minds and tongues have expressed numerous things about Be’that which is in fact a vast area, and it will not be possible in the foreseeable future to delineate the aspects of this great event. As time passes and as man goes through numerous experiences and gains a better understanding of the problems and flaws that plague his life, the different aspects of the Holy Prophet's (S) appointment to the divine mission reveal themselves more and more clearly. This Be’that was in fact a call that invited people to the arena of moral, intellectual, and legal education. These are the things that are needed for a peaceful and developing life.
Intellectual education is the first priority. Intellectual education - that is, extracting man's reason and making it dominant over his thoughts and actions, or giving man the beacon of wisdom and enabling him to find his way by its light - is of primary importance. Regarding the Holy Prophet's appointment to his divine mission, reason and wisdom are the primary issues that have been raised.
Similarly, throughout the Quran and the Holy Prophet's teachings, you can see that the main focus has been placed on such things as reason, wisdom, thinking, reflection, and pondering. Even on Judgment Day, the Quran quotes sinners as saying:
"Had we but listened or pondered, we should not have been among the inmates of the burning Fire." 3
They say, "The reason we came to suffer from hell fire is that we did not refer to our wisdom, we did not listen, and we did not pay attention. Therefore, today on Judgment Day we have to suffer from this everlasting, bitter destiny."
Inviting people to reason was the first priority for all divine prophets, and this was not peculiar to the Holy Prophet (S). Of course, the call to reasoning is stronger and clearer in Islam.
Therefore, regarding the appointment of prophets to their divine missions, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says in Nahjul Balaghah: "To ask them to keep the promise that has been built into their nature ... and raise what has been buried deep in their wisdom." 4
Prophets have been sent down to dig out the treasure of wisdom. This treasure is our hearts. The problem is that we are sitting on the buried treasure, but we are not aware of it. As a result, we cannot benefit from this treasure and die of hunger. Our situation is something like that. When we do not refer to our wisdom and do not use it in our judgments, we cannot engage in genuine intellectual education. As long as we do not harness our passions with our wisdom, the situation will be like this.
We can have access to this treasure, but we choose not to use it. Then ignorance and lack of wisdom and the numerous consequences of these two create many problems for our life in this world and the hereafter. In a tradition by the Holy Prophet of Islam (S), wisdom has been described as a leash. "Wisdom is the leash of ignorance." 5
Then the tradition continues, "Human passions are like extremely unruly animals ... Unless there is thinking, they will go astray." 6
That is what human passions are like. When you do not curb these passions, they will go astray. Human passions will go astray like a wild animal that does not know where it is going. Then human beings and human societies will face problems in their individual and social life. That is what wisdom is.
Provoking thoughts and strengthening the ability to think were the first things that the Holy Prophet (S) did. That is the panacea for all problems. It is wisdom that can lead man to religion. It is wisdom that forces man to serve God. It is wisdom that prevents man from engaging in stupid and ignorant actions and from being allured by the material world. That is what wisdom is. Therefore, strengthening the ability to think is the first thing that has to be done in a society. That is our obligation.
Despite our inherent flaws and weaknesses compared to the Holy Prophet (S), we decided to build a modern society following the example set by the Holy Prophet's (S) Islamic community. In this society, like the early Islamic community, rationality must be the standard. Moral education is the second priority in education. "I appointed you as prophet to complete moral virtues." 7
Morality is the pleasant air that human beings could breathe and have a healthy life if it were present in human societies. Life will become difficult when there is no morality, when immorality becomes dominant, and when such vices as greed, carnal desires, ignorance, love for the material world, spite, envy, and suspicion step into man's life. Then the atmosphere will become stifling, and it will be difficult for human beings to breathe normally. That is why in several places in the Holy Quran the word "purification" namely, moral growth has preceded the word "teaching". "Reciting to them His messages and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom."
In the tradition about wisdom by the Holy Prophet which I cited earlier, when wisdom is mentioned, it is pointed out that wisdom leads to patience and patience leads to knowledge. We must pay attention to the order of these items. First, wisdom creates patience and endurance. When this state of patience is present, it will prepare the ground for increasing the society's or the individual's knowledge.
That is to say, knowledge comes after patience. Patience is a moral virtue. Similarly, in the Quranic verse "Reciting to them His messages and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom", Allah has placed "purifying" before "wisdom". That is an instance of moral education. Today we desperately need this moral education. The Muslim Iranian community living in this specific geographical location, the Islamic Ummah, Muslim societies, and the entire world need this moral education. These are our most urgent needs.
Legal education or legal discipline is the next priority. The Holy Prophet of Islam (S) was the first person to practice all Islamic teachings. When asked about the Holy Prophet (S) and his behavior, Aisha who is known as "the Mother of the Faithful" has been quoted as saying: "It looked as if his behavior was the incarnation of the Quran." That means he never preached what he did not practice.
These are all lessons for us. These are all lessons. This is not to suggest that I want to compare the greatness of the Holy Prophet (S) with our own flaws. The Holy Prophet (S) was the peak, and we are just moving along the mountainside. But we are moving towards the peak. The peak is the standard for us.
The Holy Prophet (S) was a leader.
"The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord." 8
And the believers followed him. People look at his actions and find their way. This is the role that luminaries, leaders, and elites play in a society. We should not limit ourselves to words only. There are many government officials present among you. Each of you can be an example to those around you.
Mab'ath is not only a religious celebration. It is an Eid and a turning point. An Eid is a turning point at which one realizes a reality. We should look at Mab'ath, the Holy Prophet (S), and his great efforts. And then we should think about the great influence which he had on the life of humanity. In only ten years, which is like a single moment compared to the life span of a nation, this great man did great things. The ten years of the Holy Prophet's (S) rule cannot be compared to any other period.
He created such a great movement in the history of mankind. He created a great change. He led humans to peace and tranquility amidst those storms and led them onto the right path. The Holy Prophet (S) lived sixty three years. We live much longer, but we expect to follow his path - as far as possible - with our immature moves. When a movement is carried out with sincerity and in a devoted manner, and is rooted in divine guidance, the result is what happened during the ten years of the Holy Prophet's (S) rule. 9
Today is a very auspicious day for Muslims because the day on which the Holy Prophet (S) was born into this world was a beam of light in the heart of absolute darkness.
“As darkness on a vast, abysmal sea.” 10
Describing those days and the gloomy conditions of mankind, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: “The world was devoid of brightness, and full of open deceitfulness.” 11 The light of human values had been taken away from the hearts of people and from human communities, not just in Arabia but even in great empires and civilizations of the time, namely ancient Iran and Rome. Misinterpretation of the truth was obvious in every aspect of the lives of people. Human beings did not know the right path. They did not know what the goal was. Of course, there were certain believers at that time who were following the right path.
These were the general conditions of the world, but not all human beings were sinners at that time.
In general, the world was filled with darkness. It was filled with oppression. It was a world in which all the signs of human values had sunk into oblivion. In such conditions, the light of the Holy Prophet’s (S) existence started shining with the permission of Allah the Exalted. This was an unforgettable day in human history. Commemorating that day does not mean that we want to re-create its effects in the world. Whether we like it or not, this amazing and great event has had its effect on the history of mankind.
If there is still a trace of human dignity, moral virtues and outstanding human characteristics, it is because of the existence of the Holy Prophet (S). It is because of his Be’that, which is the perfect Be’that and Holy Prophet (S) is the embodiment of the virtues that all divine prophets enjoyed.
We members of the Islamic Ummah should learn lessons from this event. We should evaluate ourselves before trying to evaluate others. Today there is a serious need in the Islamic Ummah to re-create Islamic truths, to re-create those amazing and great events. Today we members of the Islamic Ummah are in urgent need of the Holy Prophet’s (S) beacon of guidance. The Islamic Ummah is outstanding in terms of its population.
The Islamic Ummah consists of one and a half billion people. The regions that are inhabited by this massive population are among the most sensitive and important regions in the world in terms of geographical location, natural features and vital resources. Although the Islamic Ummah does not have any shortcomings in terms of human and natural capacities, it is currently aimless, and you know the reason why this is the case. The greatest afflictions in the world have mainly plagued Islamic countries. The Islamic Ummah is suffering from poverty. It is suffering from injustice and discrimination.
It is suffering from scientific and technological backwardness. It is suffering from cultural decline and weakness. Global powers are easily and openly trampling on the rights of the Islamic Ummah. And the Islamic Ummah is not able to defend its rights. 12
Mab’ath is the greatest historical event in the sense that it gave rise to an extremely sensitive stage in the history of mankind and it has also opened up a path in front of humanity, a path that will lead to the fulfillment of all innate and historical needs of human beings, providing that human beings follow that path. Humanity has been complaining about lack of justice throughout history.
That is to say, justice has been the big need of all human beings throughout history. Today if somebody raises the flag of justice, he is in fact highlighting an innate historical need of humanity. Justice has been the primary goal of Islam, the Islamic movement and Be’that. Justice was also the goal of all divine prophets.
- 1. Sura Aal-e Imran, Ayah 103
- 2. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on March 15, 2009 in a meeting with government officials of the Islamic Republic on the occasion of the Holy Prophet’s (S) birthday anniversary
- 3. Sura al-Mulk, Ayah 10
- 4. Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 1
- 5. Tuhaf al-Uqul, P. 15
- 6. Tuhaf al-Uqul, P. 15
- 7. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, P. 382
- 8. Sura al-Baqara, Ayah 285
- 9. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on July 20, 2009 on the occasion of the Holy Prophet’s (S) Be’that
- 10. Sura an-Noor, Ayah 40
- 11. Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon 89
- 12. Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on March 4, 2010 on the occasion of birthday anniversaries of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.)