REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS (A Compendium of Five Lectures)

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REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS (A Compendium of Five Lectures) Author:
Translator: Dr. Alaedin Pazargadi
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
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REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS (A Compendium of Five Lectures)

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari
Translator: Dr. Alaedin Pazargadi
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
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REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS (A Compendium of Five Lectures)

REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS (A Compendium of Five Lectures)

Author:
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS

(A Compendium of Five Lectures)

By:Shaheed Ustad Allama Ayatullah MURTADA MUTAHHARI

Translated by: Dr.Alaedin Pazargadi

Revised and Edited with an Introduction by: MuhammadKhurshid Ali

Published by: BUNYAD BE'THAT, FOREIGN DEPARTMENT

www.alhassanain.org/english

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Notice:

This workis published on behalf of www.alhassanain.org/english

The typing errors aren’t corrected.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION 5

1- REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS 9

2- MUSLIM ETHOS THROUGH THE CENTURIES 17

3- TO BE “ALIVE” AND TO BE “DEAD” IN THINKING 22

4- ISLAMIC POSITION CONCERNING ASCETICISM AND RENUNCIATION OF THE WORLD 25

5- THE SPIRITUAL GOAL AND WORLDLY AVERSIONS 29

NOTES 37

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

The College of Divinity and Islamic Studies of Tehran University published a booklet entitled: (“Revival of Islamic Thought”). In1982 it commemorated the subsequent fourth anniversary of the martyrdom ofUstad Allama Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari , the author of the booklet's five lectures delivered in 1970 at theHusseiniyeh Irshad Lecture Hall, Tehran. The lectures discussed mainly the Persian version of a book in English entitled: “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”, byAllama Dr.Shaikh MuhammadIqbal (d. 1938), published at Lahore in 1934.

The publishers of the booklet evidently refrained from editing the tapes or transcriptions of the lectures beyond insertion of numerous subtitles. Thus, it represented more or less an incoherent transcription of the lectures, in that not even theQuranic and other referenceswere identified . These and similar other deficiencies were reflected in the draft English version given to this writer for editing. It did show the translator's effort to avoid repetitions.Nevertheless the editor found it necessary to redo himself the first two chapters completely and revise partly the others.

Despite rigorously sustained efforts, a few referencescould not be traced at all and the draft English version remained to be fully recast and improved. With the anticipated further co-operation of all concerned, it is tobe hoped that the next edition of this booklet will be a fully revised one. In this context, it seems worthwhile to point out the broad nature and content of the difficulties encountered while editing the proposed English version. These do highlight the language and comprehension problems arising from two things.

Firstly, a translator's or an editor's task involves recognition of an author's or speaker's lack of familiarity with the original language of a book, which is indicated by the latter's reliance on its translation - with all the incidental merits and demerits, This was the case withMurtada Mutahhari's evaluation of the above-mentioned book byIqbal .

Secondly, a mere linguistic approach is often insufficient, as when any painstaking editor finds it necessary to revise an almost literal translation of an originally unedited and, as such, virtually incoherent contents of a book. In the present case, the crucial points and statements translated into English required a critical appraisal of their meaning and contextual significance in the light of bothMutahhari's andIqbal's lectures in Persian and English respectively.

Clearly, one has to demonstrate more than mere proficiency in languages,specially when dealing with abstract and abstruse ideas, such as encountered in religious books. It isall the more necessary when a pliable editor happens to be unavailable to make up for shortcomings on a translator's part.

With regard to thesubject-matter of the present work, it emphasizes the need for proper assimilation and dissemination of Islamic ethos in the process of its revival. This necessarily implies an adequate indication of the thinking thatcharacterised the Muslims some five hundred years ago, as well as a broad identification of the deviations since then. The lectures ofIqbal andMurtada Mutahhari both arehardly sufficient in this regard.

Iqbal's “Reconstruction...” was found inadequate (for reasons different from the above) by two recent critics of diverse cultural backgrounds. The first critic, a Persian-speaking one, suggests that it was a “condescending and apologetic study of Islamic Thought from the point of view of Western Philosophy. 1 He does not necessarily imply thatIqbal was unaware of the “still-living tradition of Islamic philosophy” manifest in Arabic and Persian languages in particular. This may bedue to the fact that Iqbal wrote in Persian, too.

The other critic affiliated to Western Europe suggests thatIqbal's “Reconstruction” could have been that of “Thought” rather than that of “Religious Thought in Islam”. He opines thatIqbal's work boils down to no more than emphasizing that “Islam must be rethought in modern terms. 2 He did not evidently consider it worthwhile to assign any reasons for this verdict.

On the other hand,Murtada Mutahhar's “Revival” evidently presupposes the “death” of the Islamic Thought evolved by the earlier generations of Muslims. He invites present-day Muslims to retrieve and adhere to the original Islamic way of thinking based on “Tauheed ” or subservience to the One and the Only God. The Islamic values have been obscured centuries ago when the Caliphates began to symbolize monarchies rather than typify any sustained human qualitative excellence (conducive to the divinevicegerancy on the earth of man), such as exemplified and sought by the Holy Prophet (May God's Peace and Benediction be upon him) and the pious Imams (May God's peace be upon them).

Iqbal , too, realizes the paramount importance of the principle of “Tauheed ”. He considers it to be “the foundation of world-unity. 3 For, he points out, the principle “demands loyalty to God, not to thrones. 4 He commends its retrieval from the long-accumulatedheathenist encrustment of Islam due to the loss of the religion's “universal and impersonal character... through a process of localization”, so as to rediscover the original verities of freedom, equality and solidarity with a view to rebuild our moral, social and political ideals out of their original simplicity and universality”5 .

Iqbal considers that eternal principles, such as “Tauheed ”, are necessary for regulating a society's collective life “for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change”6 . He attributes the failure of Europe in political and social sciences to what appears to be their renunciation of eternal principles. Further, he points out that the Islamic principles should not be “understood to exclude all possibilities of change, which, according to the Qur'an is one of the greatest 'signs' of God”7 . He cites “the immobility of Islam during the last 500 years”8 as a case in point. Then, he proceeds to identify “the principle of movement” inherent in Islam as that of “Ijtihad”.9

Ijtihad ” literally means a “painstaking effort” of a positive kind, carried out to the utmost of one's capability. In the context of IslamicFiqh , it refers to any extraordinary attempt at discerning the meaning and practical significance of theShari'a Laws and Commandmentsfor the purpose of inferring their applicability to changing situations.

In the year 665 AH/1245 AD, it was formally announced in Egypt that no school of jurisprudence ('Fiqh ') other than that of theHanafi ,Shafe'i ,Maliki andHanbali (Sunni sub-sects) could be officially recognized. This has had the effect of “closing the gate ofIjtihad ” for Sunni Muslims. Thus, their contributions to the IslamicFiqh over the subsequent centuries were practically confined to summarization and consolidation of the original materials of the four recognized schools.10 The centuries-long hiatus in the growth of SunniIjtihad continued until 1378 AH/1958-59 AD. Then,a Fatwa (religious verdict) was issued at Cairo's thousand-year-old University of Al-Azhar by Mufti 'Azam Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot . It formally recognized the possibility of SunniIjtihad vis -a-vis that of theShi'a Muslims that had continued through the centuries.11

Iqbal explains “Ijtihad ” as follows:

“The word literally means to exert. In the terminology of Islamiclaw it means to exert with a view to form an independentjudgement on a legal question. The idea,I believe, has its origin in a well-known verse of the Qur'an-'And to those who exert. We show Our Path'. We find it more definitely adumbrated in a tradition of the Holy Prophet. WhenMa'ad was appointed ruler of Yemen, the Prophet is reported to have asked him as to how he would decide matters coming up before him. 'I will judge matters according to the Book of God', saidMa'ad . 'But if the Book of God contains nothing (specific-Ed.) to guide you?'. Then I will act on the precedents of the Prophet of God.' 'But if the precedents fail?'. 'Then I will exert to form my own judgement.' 12

AlthoughIqbal does not specifically refer to any closure of “the gate ofIjtihad ”, he does indicate a negative development to this effect, as follows:

“The theoretical possibility of (complete)Ijtihad is admitted by the Sunnis, but in practice it has always been denied ever since the establishment of the schools, in as much as the idea of completeIjtihad is hedged round by conditions which are well-nigh impossible of realization in a single individual. Such an attitude seems exceedingly strange in a system of law based mainly on the groundwork provided by the Qur'an which embodies an essentially dynamic outlook on life. 13

According toIqbal , the causes of “this intellectual attitude which has reduced the Law of Islam practically to a state of immobility”14 can be related to:

(1) The divisive impact on Muslims of the early Islamic controversies between 'rationalists' and 'conservatives', while theAbbaside Caliphsfavoured one or the other on a basis of political expediency;

(2) The rise and growth of Ascetic Sufism that had involved an unrestrained (non-Islamic) speculation in thinking that led to rejection of all objective 'Appearance' (Zahir ) and concentration on subjective 'Reality' (Batin ), or other-wordliness , leaving the masses to be guided by mediocre intellectuals and leaders;

(3) The destruction in the mid-thirteenth century of the 'centre of Muslim intellectual life', Baghdad, by invading Tartars, which brought about “a false reverence for past history and its artificial resurrection (which) constitute no remedy for a people's decay”,specially in the absence of any realization that “the ultimate fate of a people does not depend so much on organization as on the worth and power of individual men. 15

In the above context, it is notable thatIqbal only indicated what in his opinion were the factors contributing to the stagnation of the “Law of Islam”. Murtada Mutahhari's lectures elaborate on at least two of the above-mentioned factors: (1) the 'rationalist-conservative' controversies, and (2) Ascetic Sufism.

WhereIqbal refers to the adverse impact of the controversies only in general terms,Murtada Mutahhari specifies at least one of the controversial groups: theMurjites . What is more, he pinpoints the negative social impact of the controversies, such as created by theMurjites , in terms of popular scorn for acting upon what one believes in. At the same time,Murtada Mutahhari fixes the responsibility for the negative ethos on the mostly adverse policies and conditions of the Caliphates since theUmmayads .

Furthermore,Murtada Mutahhari ,well-versed in the traditionalShi'a Islamic Learning, views the negative development of the Muslim ethos as something representing a people's spirit that is “dead”. He explains the abstract ideas by citing illuminating references from the Qur'an and the Islamic traditions.

With regard to asceticism,Murtada Mutahhari emphasizes its Islamic sense of moderation,sacrifice and disinclination to enjoy things in face of others' dire want. He affirms that asceticism shouldnot be misconstrued in any non-Islamic sense of renunciation of the world, and points out that there is no monasticism in Islam.

Finally, one can hardly discern any basic difference in Dr.Iqbal's andAyatullah Mutahhari's assessments concerning the need for reviving or promoting the original “vitalelan ” of Muslims. Any seeming difference, perhaps, lies in the things they have emphasized, which ultimately converge on the above-mentioned need.Murtada Mutahhari stresses knowledgeable and empathetic action as a sineque non of a Muslim's faith.Iqbal underlinesIjtihad's legislative aspect in the context of a dynamic realization of the eternal principles of Islam in an ideological Islamic State that treats (in the words attributed to the Holy Prophet) the whole of the earth “as a mosque”.16 Even legislative innovation throughIjtihad ought to be sufficiently capable of enlivening the Islamic spirit of Muslims. AsIqbal has put it in his “Jawid Nama ”, a poem named after his son, the question, after all, is: “Art thou in the stage of 'life' or 'death', or 'death-in-life'?”

M. K. Ali

Tehran,

16 Jamadiul-Awal 1403.

1- REVIVING ISLAMIC ETHOS

“O 'Believers! Obey God and His Messenger when He calls you to that which gives you life, and know that God comes in between man and his 'heart' and that He it is toWhom you will be gathered.” (The Qur'an, 8:24)

PreviouslyI intended to talk about the philosophy of martyrdom on this day, commemorating the fortieth day of Imam Husain's martyrdom at Karbala. Historically, this is the occasion when those who cherish their empathy for the great martyrs journey to the shrine of Imam Husain (a.s .) in the manner ofJaber Bin AbdullahAnsari , the first pilgrim. This had tobe postponed until a later date.

During the last three sessions here (at theHussainiyeh Irshad Lecture Hall, Tehran), it has been suggested that I should give a one-half-hour talk onAllama Iqbal , the great Islamic thinker, and his outline of 'The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam', a book published at Lahore (about fifty yearsa go ). Considering that the topic merited careful preparation and not one but a series of lectures, a separateprogramme was arranged , resulting in this and the subsequent lectures.

Iqbal's book: “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” is a compendium of seven lectures:

(1) Knowledge and Religious Experience

(2) The Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience

(3) The Conception of God and the Meaning of Prayer

(4) The Human Ego - Man's Freedom and Immortality of the Soul

(5) The Spirit of Muslim Culture

(6) The Principle of Movement in the Structure ofIslam , and

(7) Is Religion Possible?

All the lectureswere apparently addressed to intellectual gatherings. Their intellectual content is rather of a highcalibre . These are of not only religious,but scientific and sociological interest. The theme underlying these is the same as that of the title of his book. This lecture, too, concentrates on the same subject of reviving Islamic ethos.

Iqbal's close familiarity with Europewas derived also from his higher studies there. His modern education, including scientific orientation,is reflected in his clear thinking, acknowledged by Europeans, too. No doubt, his criticism of European civilizationwas not based on any vague imagination of the conditions there. Nor is his appreciation of the intellectual and scientific assimilation of modern sciences by Muslim youth.

At the same time,Iqbal emphasised the need to make a clear distinction between the intellectual (or scientific) and the materialistic manifestations of European culture and civilization. He frequently warned against any servile or blind acceptance of the materialistic values of the West with their dire consequences formankind. He pointed out that intellect alone could notsave mankind from the dangers posed by the materialistic west. It is vitalfor mankind torecognise the salutary impact of spirituality, conscience and faith. Nevertheless, he endorsed European scientific knowledge as analogous to the wholesome inductive and empirical growth of Islamic thought and sciences, inhibited centuries ago among Muslims.

I do not wish to claim that everythingIqbal said was beyond criticism and that his views limited thesubject-matter in any way. Nevertheless, he offered the best he could think of, which per se deserved every appreciation. Now, to quote from his book:

“The most remarkable phenomenon of modern history, however, is the enormous rapidity with which the world of Islam is spiritually moving towards the West. There is nothing wrong in this movement, for European culture, on its intellectual side, is only a further development of some of the most important phases of the culture of Islam. Our only fear is that the dazzling exterior of European culture may arrest our movement and we may fail to reach the true inwardness of that culture. During all the centuries of our intellectual stupor Europe has been seriously thinking on the great problems in which the philosophers and scientists of Islam were so keenly interested. 17

The import of the forgoing revolves on the distinction he makes between European Science and Civilization. Itis predicated on our acceptance of the intellectual and scientific progress achieved in Europe and nothing more.

Elsewhere,Iqbal says:

“The idealism of Europe never became a living factor in her life, and the result is a perverted ego seeking itself through mutually intolerant democracies whose sole function is to exploit the poor in the interest of the rich. Believeme , Europe today is the greatesthinderance in the way of man's ethical advancement.

“The Muslim, on the other hand, is in possession of these ultimate ideas on the basis of a revelation, which, speaking from the inmost depths of life, internalizes its own apparent externality. With him the spiritual basis of life is a matter of conviction for which even the least enlightened man among us can easily lay down his life; and in view of the basic idea of Islam that there can be no further revelation binding on man, we ought to be spiritually one of the most emancipated peoples on the earth. 18

Briefly, whatIqbal says is to the effect that Islamoffers mankind the spiritual content of a religious belief based on revelation, which can deeply influence the human spirit. Accordingly, if Islam offers freedom,justice and human rights, these are possibilities based on a guarantee of accomplishment through proper conditioning of the human spirit, whereas the “isms” evolved in or claimed by Europe lack such a guarantee.

He believes that the “isms” have failed to change European nature, or make itreally human . In other words, Europeans' concern for human welfare is orientedto what they think, and not what or how they feel in their inner spirit or conscience . An average European may advocate humanitarianism without necessarilypractising it. He may speak about human rights without the corollary of respect for man. Based on hisfavourite 'ism', he may uphold human liberty. However, this does not necessarily mean his intrinsic appreciation of or belief in it. He may endorse the need for equality and justice for all men, but not conscientiously.

According toIqbal , the European perplexity is one of a spiritual kind, arising from the secular nature of democracies, which tend to exploit the poor andfavour the rich. All the contradictory “isms” evolved in Europe make declarations about justice without bringing about any lasting impact in this regard. No wonder,Iqbal calls upon Muslims, specially the impressionableyoungmen , tohe wary of getting misled or lost by any “ism”.

Furthermore,Iqbal points out that modern European culture and civilization carriesdeficiencies which do not occur in the true Islamic counterparts. For one thing, Islam does not represent a culture based on intellectual and materialistic considerations or values only, as in the case of Europe.Iqbal then proceeds to explain some basic merits of Islamic culture. To quoteIqbal again:

“... Humanity needs three things today - a spiritual interpretation of the universe, spiritual emancipation of the individual and basic principles of a universal import directing the evolution of human society on a spiritual basis. Modern Europehas, no doubt, built idealistic systems on these lines, but experience shows that truth revealed through pure reason is incapable of bringing that fire of living conviction which personal revelation alone can bring. This is the reason why pure thought has so little influenced man while religion has always elevated individuals and transformed whole societies...”19

True, what the world needs today is a spiritual interpretation, not a materialistic one. Materialism has perplexedmankind, so that no idea can be imbibed, as well as a belief. An attitude devoid of spirituality considers everything in the world from a materialistic standpoint. It views the world as if it were deaf, dumb, stupid, foolish, or lacking in purposefulness and even unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Its valuejudgements are irrespective of morality. It views human life in a goalless perspective, as if manwas created in vain and there is no question of nurturing the human spirit.

In the abovecontext , the Qur'an asks: “What?! Then, did you think thatWe had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us? (23:115)

Indeed, there is justice in the purpose of creation in which the need for rectitudeis not ignored . The world can see and hear. It manifests awareness and wisdom.(The Qur'an, 2:255). Imperative as it is that a spiritual interpretation of the universe is arrivedat, this by itself can hardly be effective enough.

With regard to the spiritual emancipation of man, this concept is unlike that of Christianity, for it calls for a belief in the internal and external interactions for achieving comprehensive development of personality. This is necessary for developing or enhancing one's personal talents, as well.

As for fundamental principles,Iqbal refers to those of Islam in the context of achieving human excellence, in the fields of individual and collective endeavor both. After all, Islam's universal significance is widely acknowledged,specially with regard to its spiritual interpretation.

WhatIqbal regards as his purpose and believes to be the mission of every enlightened Muslim is promotion of the basic Islamic principles of universal significance. Appropriate concern for the principlesis considered basic to human excellence. This aspectis highlighted in his poems, too.

In his poems recited in these sessions here, you surely noticed how severelyIqbal deprecated any blind imitation of the West by Muslims. Secondly, he expressed in his poems all that he could and should have about Islam. Thirdly, he posed the question whether or not a true Islamic spirit is alive among the Muslims today.

Iqbal thinks that in a way Islam is “alive” and “dead” both. It is alive in its outward manifestation, such as the call to prayer, rushing to the mosques at prayer times, the funeralrites and the birth ceremony, including the names chosen, such as Muhammad,Hasan ,Abdur Rahim andAbdur Rahman . However, the spirit of Islam is practically non-existent among Muslims. It is virtually dead in the Muslim society.

Nevertheless Iqbal emphasises that Islam itself is alive. Only the spirit of Muslims and their ethos is interests of tobe revived . Islamic revivalis meant in this sense. Otherwise, the Qur'an is there, and the Prophet'sSunnat (Traditions), as well.Both these continue to offer exemplary guidance, while the world had not been able to produce or evidence anything better.

The Qur'an is not something like Ptolemy's Astronomy thatcould be replaced by a better theory. It is not any rudimentary theory concerning Nature thatcan be superseded by modern science. This fact testifies to the lasting vitality of Islam.

Then, what is wrong with the Muslims? The trouble or malaise concerns the way Muslims have come to think about Islam and themselves. They treat Islam in an ineffective or dead manner. It is like burying a living seed deep in the soil, in a way contrary to the relevant agricultural principle. No wonder, the seed remains unproductive, bringing forth no root, or shoot, or plant. Its potential for fruition remains ineffective. Alternately, it is like a sapling transplanted upside down with its roots in the air and its stem below thesoil , so that one may imagine it to be both alive and dead!

Hadrat Ali (a.s .) was deeply concerned about any equivocal adherence to Islam on part of successive generations of Muslims. He considered it analogous to wearing a fur coat inside out. A fur coat is useful in winter. If itis worn inside out, however, the protective warmth that outside fur gives is lost.Moreover a garment worn inside out looks rather comical.

According to the above observation of Imam Ali (a.s .),practising Islam in an equivocal manner is not right. It is tantamount to following Islam and not professing it at the same time. Any lack of dynamic commitment to Islam would not serve the Muslims. Without a reallywell-motivated adherence to Islam, a Muslim's religious standing is comparable to a pest-ridden and withering tree, which looks almost dead.

Equivocal adherence to Islam comes about when a Muslim fails to assimilate it in full and in depth. When one's practice of the religion is deficient, merely praising Islamic culture and criticizing that of Europe will be meaningless. It will be naive to expect the rest of the world to follow us. Even if we succeed in bringing others to our fold, they will only look like us-half-dead!

Now let us examine the teachings of theQur'an which give Islamic thought its intrinsic vitality. The Qur'an invites human beings to imbibe the truths enunciated in Islam,so as to enliven or revive their spirits(8:24) . The Prophet of Islam (s.a.w .) is like a precursor of the angel,Israfeel , who will blow the horn on the day of Resurrection. For, the Prophet's callhas been aimed at spiritual revival, too.

The Qur'an makes a distinction between the living and the dead, when it says:

“Nor are the living equal with the dead. Lo! God makes who He Wills (able) to hear, and you cannot reach those who are in the graves.” (35:22)

No learned man or philosopher would claim a self-contained definition of the true nature and purpose of life. However, one can always try to define lifeon the basis of its cognizable effects.Accordingly. We may consider life to be a reality with an unknown essence, which ischaracterised by awareness and movement. Thus, the more aware and dynamic a person is the more alive he is.

In other words, if oneharbours ignorance and prefers inactivity, one is bound to remainall the more static. Let us examine whether or not we are more inclined towards vital exertion, or to death-like inactivity.

In the experience of one ofmy observant friends, our society would appear to treat inertness or inactivity with a sort of respectability, as if it prefers stagnation to any dynamic progress. He illustrated his opinion by referring to his childhood experience of a socialphenomenon which he called: 'the logic of the smoky train'. He explained:

“As a child I lived in the town of Rey. In thosedays we did not have the same railway operations network as we have today. There existed only the steam locomotive haulages between Tehran and Rey. When a train stopped at Rey, urchins gathered around it. Then looked at it with awe and wondered at its formidable strangeness. This spell lasted as long as the train stood there, but the moment it began to depart, the children ran behind it and threw stones at it! “I could not understand the children's peculiarbehaviour ,specially as to why they disliked the train when it was moving and looked respectfully at it when it was standing. This was a puzzle for me until I grew up and entered thesociety at large . Then,I realized that 'the smoky train logic' was true of us in general. As long as a person is silent and inactive, heis treated respectfully. However, as soon as he begins to walk away or exerts himself his observers turn hostile enough to maltreat him. This is a sign of a dead society. For, a live society respects its articulate and dynamic members.”

So much about oursociety's alleged aversion to dynamic progress. Yet, the vital need for solidarity in our Muslim societycannot beoveremphasised . No doubt, a society 'dies' when Muslims act in potentially hostile ways leading to disunity and disintegration. The Muslim society is practically dead today because of the internal differences, which situationis unduly exploited by the sly enemy.

Muslim solidarityis highlighted in thesaying of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w .), as follows:

“... They are like devout people who are alive with their faith, and cherish their love and sympathy for each other, so that any pain suffered by one is deeply felt by the others.”

The concerted action arising from mutual understanding and sympathy among Muslims described above is analogous to that of the blood corpuscles against any infection of the human body. Their action results in fever, when the affected part of the body becomes swollen. The abnormal temperature affects the entire body as the blood corpuscles intensify their activity against the infection. This is a sign of life. All this happens before a physician is ableto properly diagnose the infection, even with the help of his radiologist colleague.

Are we Muslims acting in our society in a concerted manner, so that if one part of the Islamic world community is affected, the others come to its aid and join in restoring its health?

Five centuries ago, Andalusia was an integral part of the Muslim world. Itwas seized from the Muslims who were taken unaware. The world community of Muslims had failed torealise that they were about to lose a vital and dynamic part of Islamic culture and civilization. Preoccupied as they were withShi'a /Sunni-oriented internal conflicts, they could not anticipate theAndalusian calamity.

According toIqbal , the dynamism of the original Islamic ethos lost its momentum about five hundred years ago, so that the successive generations of Muslims became increasingly apathetic towards their common purposes of advancement. The latest in this continuing negative trend has been the noticeable apathy in the case of the Palestine. The world Muslims remain unable to exert themselves in any effective manner of meeting the enemy's challenge.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the early Muslims did achieveworld-wide solidarity in response to the Prophet's teaching to the effect that a Muslim who, on being implored by any of his co-religionists for help, refused to assist in any way, can no longer be regarded as an adherent to Islam. After all, striving for integrity and wellbeing of the community of world Muslims (even by concerted action to ensure justice and humanity) is essentially a natural function, in the same way as man's body the whole of which “suffers sleeplessness and finds no rest while struggling against the disease”.

No doubt, it is high time that we promote the revival of Islamic ethos so that we are able to project improved understanding of Islam. We should critically examine ourselves just in case we have been “wearing the Islamic garment inside out”. Of course, a person is less likely to see himself or herself as others see him or her. Still, that person may well benefit from a friendly hint that others may offer.

With regard to the fine point raised by a friend here as to whether or not all this appreciation ofIqbal is a sign ofeulogising the dead. The answer is in the negative, since the greatness of personalitiesis not affected by any consideration as to whether they are alive or dead. However, what our friend may have implied was the need to appreciate living personages, who are no less distinguished, if not more deserving, thanIqbal .

In the above context, letme mentionAllama Tabatabai , the great scholar, to whom we could not do full justice by way of appreciation in the short time at our disposal now.Suffice it to say that he is a man whose works have such analytical depth that may not be discovered until a hundred years from now. Actually, why should we not now begin to evaluate him? For, he had been a truly great servant of Islam and Muslims.

Allama Tabatabai has been a symbol of moral courage and intellectual integrity. He attained the noblest levels of piety and refinement. He attained the noblest levels of piety and refinement.I have been in personal touch with him for many years and I have benefited greatlyform this rapport. He has produced one of the best interpretations of the Qur'an entitled: “Tafseer al-Mizan ”. It is, in many respects, the best of its kind produced byShi'a and Sunni scholars since the early Islamic centuries. This is so notwithstanding the fact that the Qur'an is so full of meaning and significance that no interpreter can really do full justice to it, while dealing with its particular aspects and indications.

Aseptogenarian with even one-hundredth ofAllama Tabatabai's contributionsis normallyhonoured and respected by people . Then, the much moreesteemable Allama certainly deserves greater recognition and honor. Honoring such a man is as good as honoring knowledge and wisdom. We do not have to wait a hundred years so that we can benefit from his contributions in an analytical manner.

A major difference between the present and the former times is that individuals can be introduced to the public relatively more efficiently through the printed word and mass media. No wonder,Allama Tabatabai becamewell-known not only in Iran but abroad, as well. His book “Tafseer al-Mizan ” has been reprinted several times in Beirut without so much asan intimation to him.His works had beenrecognised byorientalists of the West, many of whom made it a point to visit theAllama .

Allal al-Fassi , a noted scholar of the Islamic world, came to Iran recently. FromTehran he proceeded to Qom for an hour's visit with the ailingAllama Tabatabai , After the visit,Allal al-Fassi came out of theAllama's house deeply impressed and visibly moved.

One ofAllama Tabatabai's last engagements concerned our Palestinian brothers whose rightscannot be denied even by the Americans, TheAllama together with two others (including the author), co-sponsored the opening of several accounts in three banks and their branches, to receive voluntary financial contributions for helping the Palestinian brothers. Thiswas meant to invoke the sympathy and solidarity of all Muslims. In purely monetary terms, the contributions by Iranians could hardly match that of even a couple of American Jews with monopolistic access to usurious exploitation of the world.

Nevertheless, even a ten-rial contribution is a token of one's faith in Islam. It was said of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s .) that he was thrown into a pit of fire, when a bird was found filling its beak with water and dropping it on the fire! Of what use could be the few drops in extinguishing a fire? However, in this parable the bird (said to be a nightingale) could well be showing its faith and attachment to the Prophet.