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  • 1/15/2012

The Greatest Jihad: Combat with the Self

(part 1)

Yet another year of our lives has passed. You young people are advancing toward old age, and we old people toward death. During this academic year you have become aware of the extent of your learning and study. You know how much you have acquired and how high the edifice of your education has been raised. However, with respect to the refinement of virtue, the acquisition of religious manners, divine learning and purification of the soul, what have you done? What positive steps have you taken? Have you had any thought of reinement or self-reformation? Have you had any program in this ield? Unfortunately, I must submit that you have not done anything striking, and that with regard to the reformation and reinement of the self you have not taken any great steps.

Simultaneous with the study of scholarly matters, the seminaries of religious learning are in need of teaching and learning in morals and spirituality. It is necessary to have moral guides, trainers for the spiritual abilities, and sessions for advice and counseling. Programs in ethics and moral reform, classes in manners and reinement, instruction in divine learning, which are the principle aim of the mission of the prophets, peace be upon them, must be oficially instituted in the seminaries. Unfortunately, scant attention is paid in the centers of learning to these essential issues. Spiritual studies are declining, so that in the future the seminaries will not be able to train scholars of ethics, reined and polished counselors, or godly men.

Occupation with discussion and inquiry into elementary problems does not allow the opportunity for the basic and fundamental topics which are instances of the favors of the Noble Qur'an and of the great Prophet (s) and the other prophets and saints (awliya), peace be with them. The great jurist-consults and high-ranking professors, who are noteworthy in the scholarly community, had better try, in the course of their lessons and discussions, to train and refine people and to be more concerned with spiritual and ethical topics. For the seminary students it is also necessary that in their efforts to acquire erudition and refinement of the soul that they give sufficient weight to their important duties and momentous responsibilities.

You who today are studying in these seminaries, and who shall tomorrow take charge of the leadership and guidance of society, do not imagine that your only duty is to learn a handful of terms, for you have other duties as well. In these seminaries you must build and train yourselves so that when you go to a city or village you will be able to guide the people there and show them refinement. It is expected that when you depart from the center for the study of religious law, you yourselves will be refined and cultivated, so that you will be able to cultivate the people and train them according to Islamic ethical manners and precepts. If, God forbid, you were not to realize spiritual ideals, then””may Allah protect us””everywhere you went, people would be perverted, and you would have given them a low opinion of Islam and of the clergy.

You have a heavy responsibility. If you do not fulfill your duty in the seminaries, if you do not plan your reinement, and if you merely pursue the learning of a few terms and issues of law and jurisprudence, then God protect us from the damage that you might cause in the future to Islam and Islamic society. It is possible, may Allah protect us, for you to pervert and mislead the people. If due to your actions, deeds and unfair behavior, one person looses his way and leaves Islam, you would be guilty of the greatest of the major sins, and it would be dificult for your repentance to be accepted. Likewise, if one person inds guidance, then according to a narration, "It is better than all upon

which the sun doth shine."1 Your responsibility is very heavy. You have duties other than those of the laity. How many things are permissible for the laity which are not allowed for you, and may possibly be forbidden! People do not expect you to perform many permissible deeds, to say nothing of low unlawful deeds, which if you were to perform them, God forbid, people would form a bad opinion of Islam and of the clerical community.

The trouble is here: if the people witness your actions as contrary to what is expected, they become deviated from religion. They tun away from the clergy, not from just one person, and form a low opinion of just that person! But if they see an unbecoming action contrary to decorum on the part of a single cleric, they do not examine it and analyze it, that at the same time among businessmen there are unrighteousness and perverted people, and among office workers corruption and ugly deeds may be seen, so it is possible that among the clergy there may also be one or more impious or deviant persons. Hence, if a grocer does something wrong, it is said that such and such grocer is a wrongdoer. If a druggist is guilty of an ugly deed, it is said that such a druggist is an evildoer. However, if a preacher performs an unbecoming act, it is not said that such and such a preacher is deviant, it is said that preachers are bad!

The responsibilities of the learned are very heavy; the 'ulamd have more duties than other people. If you review the chapters related to the responsibilities of the 'ulamd in Usul al-Kdi and Wasa'il, you will see how they describe the heavy responsibilities and serious obligation of the learned. It is narrated that when the soul reaches the throat, there is no longer any chance for repentance and in that state one's repentance will not be accepted, although God accepts the repentance of the ignorant until the last minute of their lives.3 In another narration it is reported that seventy sins will be forgiven of one who is ignorant before one sin is forgiven of an 'dlim.4 This is because the sin of an

'dlim is very harmful to Islam and to Islamic society. If a vulgar and ignorant person commits a sin, he only wins misfortunes for himself. However, if an 'dlim becomes deviant, if he becomes involved in ugly deeds, he perverts an entire world ('dlam). He has injured Islam and the 'ulamd of Islam.5

There is also a narration according to which the people of hell suffer rom the stench of an 'dlim whose deeds do not accord with his knowledge.6 For this very reason, in this world there is a great difference between an 'dlim and an ignorant person with regard to beneit and injury to Islam and to the Islamic community. If an 'dlim is deviant, it is possible that the community will become infected by deviation. And if an 'dlim is refined, and he observes the morality and manners of Islam, he will reine and guide the community. In some of the towns to which I went during the summer, I saw that the people of a town were well mannered with religious morals.

Source:”‌ The Greatest Jihad”‌ by imam khomeini

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