Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

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Guiding the Youth of the New Generation Author:
Translator: Shaykh Saleem Bhimji
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Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

Guiding the Youth of the New Generation


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

Alhassanain (p) Network for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

A discussion on providing leadership to the youth, with examples from Hadith, Qur'an and lives of the Prophets and Imams.

Author(s): Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari

Translator(s): Shaykh Saleem Bhimji

Publisher(s): World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities



The Audio Version of this book is available on the following link of our Website:

Table of Contents

Foreword 5

About the Author 7

Notes 14

Introduction 15

Notes 16

Two Types of Responsibilities 17

Notes 19

Methods of Leadership are Relative and Temporary 20

Note 21

Reasons for the Differences Among the Miracles of the Messengers 23

The Method of the Prophets 25

Notes 26

The Best Students 27

Notes 29

The Generation of the Youth or the Mind Set of the Youth? 30

Become a Scholar For The Time in Which You Are Living In 31

Note 32

What Must be Done? 33

An Example of Two Generations 34

Notes 36

The Youth of Today 37

The Difficulties of This Generation Must be Understood 38

Note 41

Reasons Why People Gravitate Towards Atheism 42

Signs of Intellectual Development 43

Notes 43

The Abandonment of the Qurʾan 44

Selection of Ahadith 45

The Youth 45

Training Of The Youth 46

Seeking Knowledge While A Youth 47

The Young Person And Refraining From Seeking Knowledge 48

The Greatness Of A Young Person Who Worships [Allah] 48

The Greatness Of The Person Who Spends His Youth In The Obedience To Allah 49

The Definition Of A Youth 50

Notes 51


By Hasnain Walji

“From cradle to one’s grave,

Life seems but an illusion.

The phase of youth so brave,

‘Tis an even greater illusion.”

Abu FaiyyazAbu Faiyyaz

This book is the fruit of one of the many discourses of the distinguished thinker and scholar, Ayatullah Shahid Mutahhari (q.d.s.). Yet again, he conveys the dire need to re-think how we address challenges posed in the modern era dominated by Western culture and its attendant values.

This is a continuation of his life-long quest to bridge the gap that seems to separate the traditional language of religion and the language of modernity. The consequence of such a gap has given rise to misconceptions which have become ‘concepts’. One such “concept” is called ‘the generation gap’.

Having gained currency, this misconception which has now become an accepted concept, and has taken the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy, has actually created a ‘gap’ between generations.

It has given a license and respectability to the younger generation to be ‘different’. To use modern parlance it has become ‘cool’ to dress, behave and act differently. This is the roadmap that leads to MTV and the land of hip-hop.

The title, Guiding the Youth of the New Generation, becomes all the more relevant in this day and age of outsourcing, e-mails, web portals and “blogging” - Western concepts and values are being adopted around the world with enthusiasm.

Aping the latest fads and fashions have now been extended to call centers in the developing world where young men and women now speak with a Texan drawl and the next minute switch to a New England accent attending to a caller from Boston. Muslim youth can hardly be immune from this.

Readers, especially parents, looking for a quick fix or a laundry list of answers to the challenges will be disappointed. Although this book will raise more questions than it answers, however Ayatullah Mutahhari lays the responsibility squarely on the immediately preceding generation, and states:

“Each generation is responsible for the guidance of the proceeding generation - especially those people who are officially recognized as the leaders of the society - they have a much greater responsibility...”

At the same time exhorts us not to address challenges of today with the solutions of yesterday. In this regard, he states:

“…the issue of leadership and guidance of this generation differs in its methods and techniques throughout the various time periods and differs according to the groups or people whom we are working with. Thus, we must completely remove the thought from our heads that this new generation must be guided by following the methods used by the previous generations.”

It is in this context that the book needs to be understood as providing direction in addressing challenges in a manner relevant to the time we live in. It is in this context that the book needs to be understood as providing direction in addressing challenges in a manner relevant to the time we live in. It is in this context that the book needs to be understood as providing direction in addressing challenges in a manner relevant to the time we live in.

The late scholar also reminds us of the saying of Imam Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (a.s.) that: “The person who is fully aware of the time in which he is living in will never be overcome with bewilderment (of the things around him).”

Therefore being cognizant of the era we live in, we need to focus on the integration of intellectual, social, and emotional aspects that affect our youths and especially students in Colleges and Universities.

The need of this current era is to recognize that our youth continue to struggle with the increasing fragmentation of the learning process as much as the dichotomy of disciplines and contradictions inherent in concepts such as pluralism. They live in an era that subjects them to many and varied ideologies and which demand of them a rational explanation in matters of belief. This awareness can help us to nurture a generation of Muslims who in turn will be able to nurture the next generation.

In closing, we quote the words of the late poet of Pakistan, ʿAllamah Iqbal who has written:

Ya Rabb! dil-e-Muslim ko wo zinda tammana dey,

Jo qalb ko germa dey, jo rooh ko tarpa dey.

O Lord, endow the Muslims heart with motivation anew,

Such that it can warm the heart and stir the soul anew.

Phir wadi-e-faran kay her zarrey ko chamka dey,

Phir shok-e-tamasha dey, phir zoq-e-taqaza dey.

Let every drop of the Islamic nation shine once more,

Bless it with determination and zeal once more.

Mehroom-e-tamasha ko phir deeda-e-beena dey,

Dekha hai jo kuch main nay, auron ko bhi dikhla dey.

Those who have been blinded, give them fresh insights too,

What I have perceived, show the same vision to them too.

Hasnain Walji

Plano, Texas

Jumadi ath-Thani 1425 /August 2004

About the Author

Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari (q.d.s.), one of the principle architects of the new Islamic consciousness in Iran, was born on February 2nd, 1920, in Fariman, then a village and now a township about sixty kilometres from Mashhad, the great centre of Shiʿa pilgrimage and learning in Eastern Iran.

His father was Muhammad Husain Mutahhari, a renown scholar who studied in Najaf and spent several years in Egypt and the Hijaz before returning to Fariman. The elder Mutahhari was of a different caste of mind then his son, who in any event came to outshine him. The father was devoted to the works of the celebrated traditionalist, Mullah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (q.d.s.); whereas the son’s great hero among the Shiʿa scholars of the past was the theosophist Mulla Sadra (q.d.s.).

Nonetheless, Ayatullah Mutahhari always retained great respect and affection for his father, who was also his first teacher, and he dedicated to him one of his most popular books, Dastan-e-Rastan (“The Epic of the Righteous”), first published in 1960, and which was later chosen as book of the year by the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO in 1965.

At the exceptionally early age of twelve, Mutahhari began his formal religious studies at the teaching institution in Mashhad, which was then in a state of decline, partly because of internal reasons and partly because of the repressive measures directed by Riḍa Khan, the first Pahlavi autocrat, against all Islamic institutions. But in Mashhad, Mutahhari discovered his great love for philos­ophy, theology, and mysticism, a love that remained with him throughout his life and came to shape his entire outlook on religion:

“I can remember that when I began my studies in Mashhad and was still engaged in learning elementary Arabic, the philosophers, mys­tics, and theologians impressed me far more than other scholars and scientists, such as inventors and explorers. Naturally I was not yet acquainted with their ideas, but I regarded them as heroes on the stage of thought.”1

Accordingly, the figure in Mashhad who aroused the greatest devotion in Mutahhari was Mirza Mahdi Shahidi Razavi (q.d.s.), a teacher of philosophy. But Razavi died in 1936, before Mutahhari was old enough to participate in his classes, and partly because of this reason he left Mashhad the following year to join the growing number of students congregating in the teaching institution in Qum.

Thanks to the skillful stewardship of Shaykh ʿAbdul Karim Haʾiri (q.d.s.), Qum was on its way to becoming the spiritual and intellectual capital of Islamic Iran, and Mutahhari was able to benefit there from the instruction of a wide range of scholars. He studied Fiqh and Usul - the core subjects of the traditional curriculum - with Ayatul­lah Hujjat Kuhkamari (q.d.s.), Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Damad (q.d.s.), Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Riḍa Gulpayagani (q.d.s.), and Hajj Sayyid Sadr al-Din as-Sadr (q.d.s.).

But more important than all these was Ayatullah Burujerdi (q.d.s.), the successor of Haʾiri as director of the teaching establishment in Qum. Mutahhari attended his lectures from his arrival in Qum in 1944 until his departure for Tehran in 1952, and he nourished a deep respect for him.

Fervent devotion and close affinity characterized Mutahhari’s relationship with his prime mentor in Qum, Ayatullah Ruhullah Khumayni (q.d.s.). When Mutahhari arrived in Qum, Ayatullah Khumayni was a young lecturer, but he was already marked out from his contem­poraries by the profoundness and comprehensiveness of his Islamic vision and his ability to convey it to others.

These qualities were manifested in the celebrated lectures on ethics that he began giving in Qum in the early 1930s. The lectures attracted a wide audience from outside as well as inside the religious teaching institution and had a profound impact on all those who attended them. Mutahhari made his first acquaintance with Ayatullah Khumayni at these lectures:

“When I migrated to Qum, I found the object of my desire in a personality who possessed all the attributes of Mirza Mahdi (Sha­hidi Razavi) in addition to others that were peculiarly his own. I realized that the thirst of my spirit would be quenched at the pure spring of that personality. Although I had still not completed the preliminary stages of my studies and was not yet qualified to embark on the study of the rational sciences (maʿqulat), the lectures on ethics given by that beloved personality every Thursday and Friday were not restricted to ethics in the dry, aca­demic sense but dealt with gnosis and spiritual wayfaring, ­and thus, they intoxicated me. I can say without exaggeration that those lectures aroused in me such ecstasy that their effect remained with me until the following Monday or Tuesday. An important part of my intel­lectual and spiritual personality took shape under the influence of those lectures and the other classes I took over a period of twelve years with that spiritual master (ustad-i ilahi) [meaning Ayatullah Khumayni].2

In about 1946, Ayatullah Khumayni began lecturing to a small group of students that included both Mutahhari and his roommate at the Fayziya Madressah, Ayatullah Muntadhari, on two key philosophical texts, the Asfar al-Arbaʿa of Mulla Sadra (q.d.s.) and the Sharh-e-Manzuma of Mulla Hadi Sabzwari (q.d.s.). Mutahhari’s participation in this group, which continued to meet until about 1951, enabled him to establish more intimate links with his teacher.

Also in 1946, at the urging of Mutahhari and Muntadhari, the Ayatullah Khumayni taught his first formal course on Fiqh and Usul, taking the chapter on rational proofs from the second volume of Akhund Khurasani‘s Kifayatal Usul as his teaching text. Mutahhari followed his course assiduously, while still pursuing his studies of Fiqh with Ayatullah Burujerdi.

In the first two post-war decades, Ayatullah Khumayni trained numer­ous students in Qum who became leaders of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic, such that through them (as well as directly), the imprint of his personality was visible on all the key developments of the past decade. But none among his students bore to Ayatullah Khumayni the same relationship of affinity as Mutahhari, an affinity to which the Ayatullah Khumayni himself has borne witness to.

The pupil and master shared a profound attachment to all aspects of traditional scholarship, without in any way being its captive; a comprehensive vision of Islam as a total system of life and belief, with particular importance ascribed to its philosophical and mystical aspects; an absolute loyalty to the reli­gious institution, tempered by an awareness of the necessity of reform; a desire for comprehensive social and political change, accompanied by a great sense of strategy and timing; and an ability to reach out beyond the circle of the traditionally religious, and gain the attention and loyalty of the secularly educated.

Among the other teachers whose influence Mutahhari was exposed in Qum, was the great exegete of the Qurʾan and philosopher, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Husain Taba’tabaʾi (q.d.s.). Mutahhari participated in both Tabatabaʾi’s classes on the Shifaʿ of Abu ʿAli Sina from 1950 to 1953, and the Thursday evening meetings that took place under his direction. The subject of these meetings was materialist philosophy, a remarkable choice for a group of traditional scholars. Mutahhari himself had first conceived a critical interest in materialist philosophy, especially Marxism, soon after embarking on the formal study of the rational sciences.

Ac­cording to his own recollections, in about 1946 he began to study the Persian translations of Marxist literature published by the Tudeh party, the major Marxist organization in Iran and at that time an important force in the political scene. In addition, he read the writings of Taqi Arani, the main theoretician of the Tudeh party, as well as Marxist publications in ʿArabic emanating from Egypt.

At first he had some difficulty understanding these texts because he was not acquainted with modern philosophical terminology, but with continued exertion (which included the drawing up of a synopsis of Georges Pulitzer’s Elementary Principles of Philosophy), he came to master the whole subject of materialist philosophy. This mastery made him an important contributor to Tabaʾtabai’s circle and later, after his move to Tehran, an effective combatant in the ideological war against Marxism and Marxist-influenced interpretations of Islam.

Numerous refutations of Marxism have been essayed in the Islamic world, both in Iran and elsewhere, but almost all of them fail to go beyond the obvious incompatibilities of Marxism with reli­gious belief and the political failures and inconsistencies of Marxist political parties. Mutahhari, by contrast, went to the philosophical roots of the matter and demonstrated with rigorous logic the contra­dictory and arbitrarily hypothetic nature of key principles of Marx­ism. His polemical writings are characterized more by intellectual than rhetorical or emotional force.

However, for Mutahhari, philosophy was far more than a polemi­cal tool or intellectual discipline; it was a particular style of religios­ity, a way of understanding and formulating Islam. Mutahhari belongs, in fact, to the tradition of Shiʿa philosophical concern that goes back at least as far as Nasir ad-Din Tusi, one of Mutahhari’s personal heroes. To say that Mutahhari’s view of Islam was philo­sophical is not to imply that he lacked spirituality or was determined to subordinate revealed dogma to philosophical interpretation and to impose philosophical terminology on all domains of religious con­cern; rather it means that he viewed the attainment of knowledge and understanding as the prime goal and benefit of religion and for that reason assigned to philosophy a certain primacy among the disciplines cultivated in the religious institution.

In this he was at variance with those numerous scholars for whom Fiqh was the be-all and end-all of the curriculum, with modernists for whom philos­ophy represented a Hellenistic intrusion into the world of Islam, and with all those whom revolutionary ardor had made impatient with careful philosophical thought.3

The particular school of philosophy to which Mutahhari adhered was that of Mulla Sadra, the “sublime philosophy” (hikmat-i mutaʿaliya) that seeks to combine the methods of spiritual insight with those of philosophical deduction. Mutahhari was a man of tranquil and serene disposition, both in his general comportment and in his writings. Even when engaged in polemics, he was invaria­bly courteous and usually refrained from emotive and ironical word­ing. But such was his devotion to Mulla Sadra that he would passionately defend him even against slight or incidental criticism, and he chose for his first grandchild - as well as for the publishing house in Qum that put out his books - the name Sadra.

Insofar as Sadra’s school of philosophy attempts to merge the methods of inward illumination and intellectual reflection, it is not surprising that it has been subject to varying interpretations on the part of those more inclined to one method than the other. To judge from his writings, Mutahhari belonged to those for whom the intel­lectual dimension of Sadra’s school was predominant; there is little of the mystical or markedly spiritual tone found in other exponents of Sadra’s thought, perhaps because Mutahhari viewed his own inward experiences as irrelevant to the task of instruction in which he was engaged or even as an intimate secret he should conceal.

More likely, however, this predilection for the strictly philosophical dimension of the “sublime philosophy” was an expression of Mutahhari’s own temperament and genius. In this respect, he dif­fered profoundly from his great mentor, Ayatullah Khumayni, many of whose political pronouncements continue to be suffused with the language and concerns of mysticism and spirituality.

In 1952, Mutahhari left Qum for Tehran, where he married the daughter of Ayatullah Ruhani (q.d.s.) and began teaching philosophy at the Madressah Marwi, one of the principal institutions of religious learning in the capital. This was not the beginning of his teaching career, for already in Qum he had begun to teach certain subjects - logic, philosophy, theology, and Fiqh - while still a student himself. But Mutahhari seems to have become progressively impatient with the somewhat restricted atmosphere of Qum, with the factional­ism prevailing among some of the students and their teachers, and with their remoteness from the concerns of society. His own future prospects in Qum were also uncertain.

In Tehran, Mutahhari found a broader and more satisfying field of religious, educational, and ultimately political activity. In 1954, he was invited to teach philosophy at the Faculty of Theology and Islamic Sciences of Tehran University, where he taught for twenty-­two years. First the regularization of his appointment and then his promotion to professor was delayed by the jealousy of mediocre colleagues and by political considerations (for Mutahhari’s closeness to Ayatullah Khumayni was well known).

But the presence of a figure such as Mutahhari in the secular university was significant and effective. Many men of Madressah background had come to teach in the univer­sities, and they were often of great erudition. However, almost without exception they had discarded an Islamic worldview, together with their turbans and cloaks. Mutahhari, by contrast, came to the university as an articulate and convinced exponent of Islamic science and wisdom, almost as an envoy of the religious institution to the secularly educated. Numerous people responded to him, as the peda­gogical powers he had first displayed in Qum now fully unfolded.

In addition to building his reputation as a popular and effective university lecturer, Mutahhari participated in the activities of the numerous professional Islamic associations (anjumanha) that had come into being under the supervision of Mahdi Bazargan and Ayatullah Taleqani (q.d.s.), lecturing to their doctors, engi­neers, teachers and helping to coordinate their work. A number of Mutahhari’s books in fact consist of the revised transcripts of series of lectures delivered to the Islamic associations.

Mutahhari’s wishes for a wider diffusion of religious knowledge in society and a more effective engagement of religious scholars in social affairs led him in 1960 to assume the leadership of a group of Tehran ʾUlama known as the Anjuman-e-Mahana-yi Dini (“The Monthly Religious Society”). The members of this group, which included the late Ayatullah Beheshti (q.d.s.), a fellow-student of Mutahhari in Qum, organized monthly public lectures designed simultaneously to demonstrate the relevance of Islam to contempo­rary concerns, and to stimulate reformist thinking among the ʾUlama. The lectures were printed under the title of Guftar-e-Mah (“Dis­course of the Month”) and proved very popular, but the government banned them in March 1963 when Ayatullah Khumayni began his public denunciation of the Pahlavi regime.

A far more important venture in 1965 of the same kind was the foundation of the Husayniya-e-Irshad, an institution in north Tehran, designed to gain the allegiance of the secularly educated young to Islam. Mutahhari was among the members of the directing board; he also lectured at the Husayniya-e-Irshad and edited and contrib­uted to several of its publications. The institution was able to draw huge crowds to its functions, but this success - which without doubt exceeded the hopes of the founders, was overshadowed by a number of internal problems. One such problem was the political context of the institution’s activities, which gave rise to differing opinions on the opportuneness of going beyond reformist lecturing to political confrontation.

The spoken word plays in general a more effective and immediate role in promoting revolutionary change than the written word, and it would be possible to compose an anthology of key sermons, addresses, and lectures that have carried the Islamic Revolution of Iran forward. But the clarification of the ideological content of the revolution and its demarcation from opposing or competing schools of thought have necessarily depended on the written word, on the composition of works that expound Islamic doctrine in systematic form, with particular attention to contemporary problems and con­cerns. In this area, Mutahhari’s contribution was unique in its volume and scope. Mutahhari wrote assiduously and continuously, from his student days in Qum up to 1979, the year of his martyr­dom.

Much of his output was marked by the same philosophical tone and emphasis already noted, and he probably regarded as his most important work Usul-e-Falsafa wa Ravish-e-Ri’alism (“The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism”), the record of Tabatabai’s discourses to the Thursday evening circle in Qum, supple­mented with Mutahhari’s comments. But he did not choose the topics of his books in accordance with personal interest or predilection, but with his perception of need; wherever a book was lacking on some vital topic of contemporary Islamic interest, Mutahhari sought to supply it.

Single handily, he set about constructing the main ele­ments of a contemporary Islamic library. Books such as ʿAdl-e-Ilahi (“Divine Justice”), Nizam-e-Huquq-e-Zan dar Islam (“The System of Women’s Rights in Islam”), Mas’ala-yi Hijab (“The Question of the Veil”), Ashna’i ba Ulum-e-Islami (“An Introduction to the Islamic Sciences”), and Muqaddima bar Jahanbini-yi Islami (“An Introduc­tion to the Worldview of Islam”) were all intended to fill a need, to contribute to an accurate and systematic understanding of Islam and the problems in the Islamic society.

These books may well come to be regarded as Mutahhari’s most lasting and important contribution to the rebirth of Islamic Iran, but his activity also had a political dimension that admittedly subordi­nate, should not be overlooked. While a student and fledgling teacher in Qum, he had sought to instill political consciousness in his contemporaries and was particularly close to those among them who were members of the Fida’iyan-i Islam, the Militant Organization founded in 1945 by Nawwab Safawi. The Qum headquarters of the Fida’iyan was the Madrasa-yi Fayziya, where Mutahhari himself resided, and he sought in vain to prevent them from being removed from the Madressah by Ayatullah Burujerdi, who was resolutely set against all political confrontation with the Shah’s regime.

During the struggle for the nationalization of the Iranian Oil Industry, Mutahhari sympa­thized with the efforts of Ayatullah Kashani (q.d.s.) and Dr. Muhammad Musaddiq, although he criticized the latter for his adherence to secular nationalism. After his move to Tehran, Mutahhari collabo­rated with the Freedom Movement of Bazargan and Taleqani, but never became one of the leading figures in the group.

His first serious confrontation with the Shah’s regime came dur­ing the uprising of Khurdad 15th, 1342/June 6th, 1963, when he showed himself to be politically, as well as intellectually, a follower of Ayatullah Khumayni by distributing his declarations and urging sup­port for him in the sermons he gave.4 He was accordingly arrested and held for forty-three days. After his release, he participated actively in the various organizations that came into being to maintain the momentum that had been created by the uprising, most impor­tantly the Association of Militant Religious Scholars (Jamiʿa yi Ruhaniyat-e-Mubariz). In November 1964, Ayatullah Khumayni entered on his fourteen years of exile, spent first in Turkey and then in Najaf, and throughout this period Mutahhari remained in touch with Ayatullah Khumayni, both directly - by visits to Najaf - and indirectly.

When the Islamic Revolution approached its triumphant climax in the winter of 1978 and Ayatullah Khumayni left Najaf for Paris, Mutahhari was among those who travelled to Paris to meet and consult with him. His closeness to Ayatullah Khumayni was confirmed by his appointment to the Council of the Islamic Revolution, the existence of which Ayatullah Khumayni announced on January 12th, 1979.

Mutahhari’s services to the Islamic Revolution were brutally curtailed by his assassination on May 1st, 1979. The murder was carried out by a group known as Furqan, which claimed to be the protagonists of a “progressive Islam,” one freed from the allegedly distorting influence of the religious scholars. Although Mutahhari appears to have been chairman of the Council of the Islamic Revolu­tion at the time of his assassination, it was as a thinker and a writer that he was martyred.

In 1972, Mutahhari published a book entitled ʿIllal-i Girayish ba Maddigari (“Reasons for the Turn to Materialism”), an impor­tant work analyzing the historical background of materialism in Europe and Iran. During the revolution, he wrote an introduction to the eighth edition of this book, attacking distortions of the thought of Hafiz and Hallaj that had become fashionable in some segments of Iranian society and refuting certain materialistic interpretations of the Qurʾan.

The source of the interpretations was the Furqan group, which sought to deny fundamental Qurʾanic concepts such as the divine transcendence and the reality of the hereafter. As always in such cases, Mutahhari’s tone was persuasive and solicitous, not angry or condemnatory, and he even invited a response from Furqan and other interested parties to comment on what he had written. Their only response was the gun.

The threat to assassinate all who opposed them was already con­tained in the publications of Furqan, and after the publication of the new edition of ʿIllal-e-Girayish ba Maddigari, Mutahhari apparently had some premonition of his martyrdom. According to the testi­mony of his son, Mujtaba, a kind of detachment from worldly concerns became visible in him; he augmented his nightly prayers and readings of the Qurʾan, and he once dreamed that he was in the presence of the Prophet (S), together with Ayatullah Khumayni (q.d.s.).

On Tuesday, May 1, 1979, Mutahhari went to the house of Dr. Yadullah Sahabi, in the company of other members of the Council of the Islamic Revolution. At about 10:30 at night, he and another participant in the meeting, Engineer Katiraʿi, left Sahabi’s house. Walking by himself to an adjacent alley where the car that was to take him home was parked, Mutahhari suddenly heard an unknown voice call out to him. He looked around to see where the voice was coming from, and as he did, a bullet struck him in the head, entering beneath the right earlobe and exiting above the left eyebrow.

He died almost instantly, and although he was rushed to a nearby hospi­tal, there was nothing that could be done but mourn for him. The body was left in the hospital the following day, and then on Thursday, amid wide­spread mourning, it was taken for funeral prayers first to Tehran University and then to Qum for burial, next to the grave of Shaykh ʿAbdul Karim Haʾiri (q.d.s.).

Ayatullah Khumayni (q.d.s.) wept openly when Mutahhari was buried in Qum, and he described him as his “dear son,” and as “the fruit of my life,” and as “a part of my flesh.” But in his eulogy Ayatullah Khumayni also pointed out that with the murder of Mutahhari neither his personality was diminished, nor was the course of the revolution interrupted:

“Let the evil-wishers know that with the departure of Mutahhari - his Islamic personality, his philosophy and learning, have not left us. Assassinations cannot destroy the Islamic personality of the great men of Islam…Islam grows through sacrifice and martyrdom of its cherished ones. From the time of its revelation up to the present time, Islam has always been accompanied by martyrdom and heroism”5 .

The personage and legacy of Ayatullah Mutahhari have certainly remained unforgotten in the Islamic Republic, to such a degree that his posthumous presence has been almost as impressive as the attainments of his life. The anniversary of his martyrdom is regularly commemorated, and his portrait is ubiquitous throughout Iran. Many of his unpublished writings are being printed for the first time, and the whole corpus of his work is now being distributed and studied on a massive scale. In the words of Ayatullah Khamene’i, President of the Republic, the works of Mutahhari have come to constitute “the intellectual infrastructure of the Islamic Republic.”

Efforts are accordingly under way to promote a knowledge of Mutahhari’s writings outside the Persian-speaking world as well, and the Ministry of Islamic Guidance has sponsored translations of his works into languages as diverse as Spanish and Malay. In a sense, however, it will be the most fitting memorial to Mutahhari if revolutionary Iran proves able to construct a polity, society, economy and culture that are authentically and integrally Islamic. For Mutahhari’s life was oriented to a goal that transcended individual motivation, and his martyrdom was the final expression of that effacement of self.


1. Ilal-e-Girayish ba Maddigari, Page 9

2. Ibid.

3. The authoritative statement of this view was made by Sayyid Qutb in his Khasa’is al-Tasawwur al-Islami wa Muqawwimatuhu, Cairo, numer­ous editions, which was translated into Persian and had some influence on views toward philosophy.

4. Mutahhari’s name comes ninth in a list of clerical detainees prepared by the military prosecutor’s office in June, 1963. See facsimile of the list in Dihnavi, Qiyam-e-Khunin-i 15 Khurdad 42 ba Rivayat-e-Asnad, Tehran, 1360 Sh./1981, Page 77.

5. Text of Ayatullah Khumayni’s eulogy in Yadnama-yi Ustad-i Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari, pp. 3-5.


) أُدْعُ إِلـى سَبِـيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَ الْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَـادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ ضَلَّ عَنْ سَـبِيلِهِ وَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمهْتَدِينَ (

“Invite others to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good exhortation and argue with them in the best possible manner. Without doubt, your Lord knows best those who have strayed away from His path and He also knows best those who have been correctly guided.”1

In reality, the discussion for this paper which will be covered under the topic of “Guiding the Youth of the New Generation” is actually related to a common responsibility which applies to all Muslims in general and specifically to those Muslims who hold the position of official religious leadership of the society. There is a principle in Islam which we all know and it states that: Within the sacred din of al-Islam, responsibilities are shared amongst the people. By this we mean that people are the guardians and are responsible for one another and we all share in this responsibility towards each other:

کُـلُّکُمْ رٌاعٍ وَ کُـلُّکُمْ مَسْؤُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

“Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for his flock.”2

Rather, each generation is the guardian and is responsible for another generation. Each generation is responsible for the generation which comes after them and is responsible to ensure that the religion and the guidance which has been given to the previous generations which have been protected and carried from hand to hand and have reached the next generation, can in turn, be given to the future generations. Therefore, each proceeding generation must be ready and equipped to accept the teachings (of the religion) and make the best use of them.

Therefore, the discussion of leadership of the youth is a discussion which also includes responsibilities which all of us are obligated to fulfill.

The thing which we bring forth in this discussion as the unknown agent and which we must carefully think about and try to find a way to improve, can be stated as being the following:

The leadership and guidance of an individual, or even an entire generation does not take shape in the same ways and manners within altered instances and conditions (in different times) - rather, it is different. Thus, the form of leadership must also take different modes and methods. The ways and means used in this leadership also differ, and one general prescription cannot be given which would work for all people and all generations living in different times.

Due to this fact, in each and every era and while living under different conditions, we must carefully think about this issue and through contemplation, we must see in what way the leadership and governing should take form and what prescription must be given to the society.


1. Suratul Nahl (16), Verse 125

2. Jami` al-Saghir, Page 95