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A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 5)


Mental origin

Basically, the mental reaction of various individuals and nations to defeats and failures is different. Some tend to seclusion and subjectivism, and disturb the course of their social thoughts in general, but some others, the number of which is less than the first group, become more rigorous and harsh, and return from superficial challenge to the rooted and underlying challenges.

Monasticism is actually the same reaction of defeated individuals and nations of the first group.

Now that we know the historical and mental origin of monasticism, and it is made clear that monasticism is against man’s healthy nature, the following tradition can explain the attitude of Islam towards it:

Osman Ebne Mazoun inclined to monasticism as a result of a mental defeat (losing his beloved child) and resorted to worship to relieve his grief. When the Prophet (S.A) was informed, he forbade him and said:

The Great God has not assigned monasticism for us.

Then he added to it a fundamental phrase:

Surely, the monasticism of my nation is struggle in the way of God. (16)

In other words, if monasticism means neglecting the pleasures and comforts of life, it should be applied for serving preservation of Islamic principles and magnificence of the society, like warfare.

And it is narrated from Imam Kadhim (A.S) that someone asked him:

Is it permitted for a Moslem to select journey and vagabondage, or monasticism, and not going out of house? He said: no. (17)

Wandering in this tradition may refer to a sort of monasticism in the form of tourism without luggage and provision with the purpose of separation from cities and societies and or escaping house and family.

Anyhow, it is deduced from above tradition that monasticism and social seclusion, either in the form of sitting at home, closing the door and leaving the world, or in the form of wandering without any means and escaping home, life and society, is condemned in Islam because it is in contradiction with the spirit of Islamic instructions.

Moreover, Holy Qur’an has called monasticism, which is common among Christians, a condemned innovation:

And monasticism they invented - We did not prescribe it for them, only seeking the good pleasure of God; but they observed it not as it should be observed. (18)

The total of these evidences explains the attitude of Islam towards monasticism. And one point remains here unsolved, that is: Has monasticism existed in the other religions?

According to the Islamic documents there has been a sort of monasticism in Christianity, but very different with the present monasticism and program of monks. Because the appearance of above phrase indicates that God has prescribed a sort of monasticism for them, with the purpose of seeking God’s pleasure, but they did not observe its limits, and invented another one instead of it that Qur’an has called it an innovation.

Now, we shall see what this legitimate monasticism meant.

Certainly, in the original Christianity, as per historical and religious documents (even the gospels) there have not been giving up marriage absolutely, social seclusion and separation from society, and habit in the convents and cloisters, which are among the today’s monasticism ceremonies.

As per definite documents, a number of apostles and Disciples of Christ married and associated with people.

Therefore, the legitimate monasticism may signify the same lexical meaning and fear of God mingled with a sort of asceticism, and being heedless to worldly splendor, and simplicity while living within the society, as Christ A.S. and his disciples were.

But the phrase "but they observed it not as it should be observed", has two senses.

First, they did not observe the limits of legitimate monasticism, and violated its regulations, and innovated therein, and altered it into monasticism and leaving normal life in the world and giving up marriage absolutely.

Second, they did not observe the same false and innovative monasticism, and as it will be later referred, some of them committed unlawful deeds in the covenants instead of righteousness, chastity and being heedless of the world, and proceeded in the way of worldliness, and provided the facilities for revelry, pleasure, and carouse in some of those centers, being established with the name of monasticism.

Monasticism among Christians

The existing histories of Christianity indicate that monasticism, in present form, did not exist in the first centuries of Christianity, and its appearance dates back to third Christian century, when the Roman Emperor, called Dissious, conflicted vigorously with the Christians, and after being defeated by this Emperor, they escaped and resorted to the mountains and deserts.(19)

It is noteworthy that the same is narrated in the traditions of Prophet (A.S) when he said to Ibne Masoud: Do you know whereof monasticism originates?

He said: God and His Prophet are more informed!

He said: Some of the unjust rulers appeared after Christ (A.S) and the believers fought them three times, and when they were defeated, escaped to the deserts and mountains and waited for appearance of the Promised Prophet of Christ (Muhammad A.S), and engaged in worship therein.(20)

Will Durant, the famous Christian historian wrote a detailed discussion in respect to monks in the volume 31 of his history. He believes that joining of nuns to the monks was started from fourth century A.C., and monasticism developed increasingly so that it was in its utmost degree of progress in the tenth Christian century.

Then he narrates a detailed explanation about the situation of convents, and the custom of giving up marriage and attempt of monks for inhabiting the arid lands and agriculture, hand crafts, embroidery and other amusements of nuns.

One of the most basic requisites of monasticism was giving up marriage absolutely.

Farid Vajdi narrates in the encyclopedia that some of the monks assumed attention to the female so satanic that they even did not accept to take a female animal into the house, for the fear of their spirituality to be damaged by its satanic spirit!

However, the history remembers a lot of calamities and tragedies so that Pope Inossan III described one of the convents as "lupanar"!(21)

And some of them were a center for gathering of epicures and secularists and sensual people and the best wines were prepared there!


16- Majlessi, Beharol Anvar, 170/8, narration 112

17- Majlessi, Beharol Anvar, 119/70, narration 10

18- The Iron sura (57), verse 27

19- Refer to the encyclopedia of twentieth century, article monk

20- Refer to Majmaol Bayan commentary, under verse 27 of The Iron sura, and Beharol Anvar, volume 70, subject "forbiddance of monasticism"

21- Will Durant, History of Civilization, 443/13

Source: alhassanain.com

Other links:

A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 1)

The Important Choice in Karbala (Part 1)

The Important Choice in Karbala (Part 2)

The Important Choice in Karbala (Part 3)

Effects of Sins

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