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  • 1/15/2012

The Greatest Jihad: Combat with the Self

Translator's Introduction (part 5)

Recalling his years as a student in Qun, Imam Khomeini himself has publicly commented on the hostility toward mysticism and philosophy which was to be found in certain quarters in Qun, feelings which are still harbored by some members of the clergy. The story is often repeated that when Imam had begun teaching philosophy in Qun and his irst son was a small child, some seminarians felt it necessary to perform a ritual cleansing of a cup from which the child had drunk water because of his impurity as the son of a teacher of philosophy! Imam reports that his teacher, ShahabadI, sought to oppose this hostility by making people familiar with the doctrines of the mystics so they could see for themselves that there was nothing inimical to Islam in the teachings of the gnostics:

Once a group of merchants came to see the late ShahabadI (may God have mercy on him), and he began to speak to them on the same mystical topics that he taught to everyone. I asked him whether it was appropriate to speak to them of such matters and he replied: "Let them be exposed just once to these heretical teachings! I too now ind it incorrect to divide people into categories and pronounce some incapable of understanding these matters."

One of the most dramatic efforts of Imam Khomeini to bring mysticism to the people occurred ater the Islamic Revolution with his Lectures on Surah al-Fatihah from which the above report has been quoted. Ater the Revolution, there were televised lessons on the interpretation of the Qur'an by Ayatullah TaleqanT.4 When Ayatullah TaleqanT died on September 10, 1979, about a half year ater the victory of the revolution, the televised commentary on the Qur'an was taken up by a younger scholar. Imam Khomeini suggested that a more senior authority might be sought for the program. Ater consulting among themselves, those responsible for the broadcast decided to request that Imam himself provide the commentary. Imam responded that if the cameras could be brought to his residence he would comply with the request. The result was the Lectures on Surah al-Fatihah, a stunning mystical interpretation of the opening verses of the Qur'an, in which one of the dominant themes was the claim that the whole world is a name of God. In these lectures Imam also contends that the philosophers of Islam, the mystics and the poets have used different terminologies to express the same insights, and he urges his viewers not to reject what is taught by members of these groups until they understand what is being expressed, even if the language used raises suspicions of heterodoxy. Thus, Imam's preaching in this area was very much a plea for tolerance.

Source:”‌ The Greatest Jihad”‌ by imam khomeini

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