Nahjul Balagah and its Lessons for the Mankind
Two points are perceived when the social origin of the Prophets is put to discussion: First those who are appointed to prophethood are dressed with the Attributes of the deprived, revolutionary morals and combative spirit against the existing class systems of the arrogant, i.e. at the time of the appointment (and even before it) they have an anti-arrogant position in support of the deprived.
Second, having these Attributes does not necessarily imply that all the Prophets belong to the deprived classes. They can either belong to these classes or not but, as was mentioned before, even at the time of appointment to prophethood and at the beginning of their revolution they may belong to the arrogant strata, having a comfortable life. There is no need for them to have suffered from forced labor and hard work before the appointment. Of course, they should have felt pain and distress but this does not necessarily mean that they should curtail the bonds of relationship with their social class and their (comfortable) life.
Spiritually-exalted Beings Have Understanding as Well as the Feeling of Sympathy.
Subsequent to the discussion concerning the arrogant and the deprived, it should be added here that such a class division does not exist in monotheistic societies. It is, in fact, the exclusive characteristic of' societies suffering from ignorance and alienation. We have of course, rulers, ruling classes, caliphs, holders of religious authority and governments in monotheistic societies but none of them are arrogant enough to manage the affairs of these societies on the basis of personal beliefs. Also, there are commoners in such societies, consisting of workers, businessmen, peasants, bricklayers, government employees and so forth, but none of them arrogant either. Each class has, in fact, some authority over its own social affairs in proportion to the total number of its members.
For example, under the present situations of Iran (although Iran is not a 100% or even 50% Islamic society at the present time), every individual has some authority and the right to vote as a member of a society with thirty-six million individuals. It is on this basis that the great movements and even the political affairs of our country are nowadays managed and led by the people themselves, although it may be considered wrong so far as the prevailing patterns of politics on the international level are concerned. The truth is that if the people were not inclined towards certain actions and policies, connections and disconnections, the government (itself consisting of Muslims belonging to the low classes of people) would not dare take such positions as it does today and perform such courageous actions. This is indicative of an Islamic country (although Iran is still not a perfect Islamic country).
When Islam shall, God-willing, shed its light on our society in all its dimensions, the role of every individual in the administration of the whole country will be to the extent that he or she (although being the lowest in social position) can act and promise on behalf of the Islamic community. Today, if a given government or a certain action be condemned in the sermons of the Friday ritual prayer in front of a multitude of people, or if a treaty between our country and a given government be orally made (or violated) in such sermons, neither our own government nor the addressee will take care of it.
But in a perfect Islamic community, there is no irresponsible individual. In such a community, in which Islamic culture and education are perfectly dominant, every individual (being a businessman, a housewife and so forth) can conclude a treaty or announce an agreement for the cessation of hostilities or a special occasion and the Islamic government is obliged to take it into account, although that individual not be a minister, an army commander or a diplomat. In fact, every individual can decide for the whole community on specific occasions, and his or her decision is accepted by all.
This is not, however, practicable under the present culture and habits of our society. But as the society gets closer to Islam and its teachings, this is more likely to be accomplished. It should be added, of course, that when we say something is not for the time being practicable, it does not mean that Islam as a whole cannot be materialized. It can, but only when the world has a complete readiness for its acceptance.
Questions and Answers
Q. You said that Khadija's wealth and Ali's sword made the progress of Islam possible. Does this not lead to a deviating concept that wealth and material things have been the only factors for the spread of Islam?
A. We do not believe that wealth alone played a role in this regard, but the truth is that wealth, too, had certain roles and this is undeniable. It was, is fact, necessary for the satiation of the newly-converted people's hunger as well as for providing the expenses of those who were sent here and there by the Prophet. This does not negate the influence of the spirituality and dynamism of Islamic thought and ideology, since the very dynamism is in need of material things when acting and making progress in the same way as it needs physical labor and activity.
Q. You defined the deprived in its social and political aspects. Is it not necessary to explain the economic and cultural aspects of it as well?
A. The economic activities of the deprived (as previously defined) are also under the influence of the powerful, i.e. economic activities are usually centralized where power is centralized (under the previous regime of Iran, for example, no productive and economic activity took place except through the direct or indirect interference of the government). Therefore, economic aspects are dependent on political aspects. It may, however, be argued that political power originates from economic power. This is possible but it lacks universality. Sometimes political power is the cause for the absorption of money and sometimes money gives rise to political power. They are inter-connected, but in a society wherein political power is centralized in a certain group, economics cannot grow and progress independently. The cultural aspects (culture in its prevailing, not in its revolutionary sense) of society, too, are affected by the opinion of those who possess political and economic power. Thus, when political oppression dominates society, the existing cultural and political aspects of the deprived are also influenced by lt.
Q. Is the following tradition, narrated from the Imams concerning deprivation, authentic? ”The deprived are those who endeavored in the way of God but could not achieve their aim in establishing the divine system. The highest of them are the Prophets and saints, next to them are the believers who make efforts in the way of God."
A. It may be authentic for all the Prophets and their true followers belong to the category of the deprived. It provides us with the definition of the deprived not with the concept of deprivation.
Nahjul Balagah and its Lessons for the Mankind (part 10)
Nahjul Balagah and its Lessons for the Mankind (part 11)