The following is a translation of an Arabic article by Lebanese academic Dr Muhammad Mohsen Olleik, in which he analyses the roadmap by Iran’s Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei for the building of a new “Islamic Civilization”.
Olleik, a lecturer in Education and Islamic Studies from the Lebanese University, says that the Islamic world today is before a “golden opportunity” that can bring about the revival of the Ummah (nation) based on the comprehensive roadmap put forth by Iran’s Khamenei.
Source: Khamenei.ir (Arabic website)
Date: 29 February, 2020
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“The fate of the region depends on its liberation from the arrogant U.S. hegemony, and the freedom of Palestine from the domination of the Zionist foreigners, God willing. All nations are responsible to help achieve this goal. The world of Islam must erase elements of discord. The unity of Islamic scholars can present Islamic solutions for a new Islamic lifestyle. Cooperation between our universities can improve science and technology, and this cooperation will create the infrastructure for the new civilization. Coordination between our media will correct the culture of the people down to its roots. Communication between our armed forces will push war and transgression away from the entire region. Dealings between our markets will free our economies from the domination of plundering companies. Our people’s travels to one another’s countries will bring us solidarity, affection, unity and friendship”.
– An extract from the Arabic Friday sermon of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei in Tehran on January 17, 2020
In this unequivocal manner, and during a Friday sermon imbued with the scent of martyrdom, crammed with masses of thrilled and excited people, and in clear, eloquent Arabic language, Imam Khamenei summarized the principles of the ‘Manifesto’ surrounding the necessary transformation of the Ummah (Islamic world) that “must open a new chapter”.
Although Imam Khamenei has already mentioned some of these ideas related to this structural transformation in previous key statements and sermons, nevertheless, this strategic concentration and in-depth description of the actions required to direct and carry out this desired civilizational transformation has paved the way for all scholars, leaders, decision-makers, influential elites in all fields, and every individual seeking to discover his practical (religious) duty.
Furthermore, the words of Imam Khamenei, that “all nations are responsible”, during this delicate and defining (historical) moment, has removed many popular misconceptions and ambiguities. The process of building the new Islamic civilization is not confined to any one country or nation, or even to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have always heard this “deduction” being suggested or directly stated by influential personalities and officials from some Islamic movements and parties.
The idea of resistance, despite its sanctity, does not amount to a goal and purpose of action for our jihadi nations and (political) movements. Resistance is a (natural) human reaction to occupation, aggression, attempts to dominate, humiliate, and impose political, cultural or economic dependency. Comprehensive resistance is the path to liberation and to quelling injustice and occupation. However, it is neither an aim nor a goal that (can) define all the frameworks of action and thought.
The primary goal is establishing the new Islamic civilization as a prelude to the salvation of humanity by the ‘awaited justice’ (i.e. the reappearance of Imam Mahdi and Prophet Jesus). All the triumphs and achievements of the resistance movements and the Islamic revival and awakening must be employed to reach this comprehensive “positive” goal, in order bring about a fundamental transformation in the project of Islam whose aim is to achieve perfection (i.e. fulfillment of purpose) and happiness for humans and society.
It is useful to draw attention here to a very important issue which is the key difference between the concepts ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’, rather between ‘The Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilāyat al-Faqīh)’ and ‘The Guardian Jurist (Wali al-Faqih)’. To fulfill the lofty hopes and ideals, the Guardian Jurist – whether the divinely-protected Imam or his deputy – is the cornerstone for reviving, perfecting, and leading humans towards prosperity. However, throughout history till our present day, there have always been exceptional leaders – whether from the divinely-protected (Imams) or elite scholars – who have demonstrated unparalleled intellectual, administrative and political capabilities. The ‘leader’ has always been there. However, when we talk about ‘leadership’, it is a (totally) a different story. (Leadership) is the mutual interaction between the guardian leader and those (who pledge) loyalty to him, and the extent to which (this interaction) produces the greatest desired results and achievements in all areas of material and spiritual progress.
Implementing the plan of the leader requires a civilizational “mobilization” which is deeper and more crucial than the military and political battles, and even (more crucial) than fighting the soft war(s) and cultural invasion(s). This general mobilization must discover the (true) Islamic lifestyle, “the good life”, or what Imam Khamenei calls “the essence of civilization”. This is the area in which we have not advanced properly in yet.
This plan (of ‘Imam Khamenei’) raises many questions about our social behavior and problems plaguing our current lifestyle, such as weaknesses surrounding collective action, widespread consumerist trends, the divorce phenomenon, weak ties (between family members), the lack of mastery in industry and production, the way we dress, our food, architecture, entertainment and many other plagues and phenomena.
First, we need to determine the causes of these (plagues) and how they are entrenched in our societies; and second, we need to have faith in our abilities to change and move towards a good, genuine and contemporary lifestyle derived from the treasure trove of Islamic thought, sciences and values. This transformation (in our lifestyles) can be achieved directly, or by reproducing and innovating in the field of social trends and behaviors, in a way that does not imitate the anti-human Western-American civilization which seeks to destroy other cultures – through both hard and soft power – as it takes advantage of the lack of self-confidence of some culture producers in Islamic societies.
Accordingly, this highlights the necessity of a revolutionary reexamination, and deeper, bolder modes of thinking regarding the fundamentals and strategies (that guide) our work and management of people’s skills and energies in all fields. (These fields) have witnessed (great) jihadi (military) victories, and the masses are (now) eager to bring about a change in the “roots of (their) overall culture”, and are expecting the scholars and leaders to respond emphatically to the project of civilization building that is being spearheaded by the leader (Imam Khamenei). (By doing this), the scholars and leaders will ensure the process of mutual leadership and ‘Guardianship’.
By the blessings of this civilizational leader, the argument (that calls for the need for a new Islamic Civilization) is now complete and (rationally) binding upon all of us. The current favorable conditions and available opportunities are exceptional in (relation to the potential of) transforming this thought and civilizational proposal into strong and effective strategies. This argument makes this intellectual and cultural challenge a sacred priority. (This argument) oversees (and provides the vision for) the production of knowledge in the field of the Islamic Humanities, and (provides the vision for the production of) the tools for building a new civilization, that is, by solidifying (true) values, by “the production of discourses”, and a new good lifestyle characterized by justice, spirituality, and true human and economic prosperity.
“The world of Islam must open a new page. Awakened consciences and pious hearts must revive the self-confidence of nations. Everyone should know that the only path for the salvation of nations is by (developing) strategies, (practicing) steadfastness, and (enjoying) fearlessness of the enemy.”
This civilizational revival essentially demands first of all, the revival of the authentic intellectual and cultural works; making them the center for all political, social, organizational and planning activities; believing in the ability of good people to bring about change, and their ability to produce real mechanisms that enable people to participate in decision-making and electing responsible managers that truly represent them at all levels.
(These mechanisms) would derive inspiration from the experience of the Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilayat al-Faqih) and the popular religious sovereignty (model) that made the Islamic Republic (of Iran) an invincible power by granting it (various) domains of power, the most prominent of which being the atmosphere of intellectual freedom, and the ability of people to freely elect their representatives, whether at the municipal level, or even electing the Guardian Jurist (Wali al-Faqih ) via the Assembly of Experts.
“Bringing hearts and minds closer together” is another element of the principles of this civilizational “Manifesto”. This is extremely crucial. It requires the scholars, movements and the producers of culture to have the courage to accept the other, (whether he differs with me on) a sectarian, national or religious (basis). This ought to lead to the broadening of the circle of unity based on lofty standards such as justice, serving people, defending the oppressed, and moving away from narrow fanaticism, whether in thought or in practice.
If we do not have a conscious, strong mind, and firm social, developmental and cultural views that are able to solve our enormous problems, we will neither be able to reflect and manifest “The Guardianship of the Jurist”, nor the “Leadership of the Leader”. The age of defending ourselves, and sufficing ourselves with resisting the enemy and being obsessed with the idea of preserving our existence has ended. In addition to these initial steps (i.e. defense, resistance, and preservation of existence) which (can) be referred to as ‘the minor jihad’, his excellency (Imam Khamenei) introduces the concept of the “the great jihad”, which refers to (seeking) independence, and developing ‘capabilities’ in all its forms, with the aim of preventing dependency upon the West on all levels. This in turn will lead to ‘the greater jihad’, and the road to spiritual perfection.
The “new chapter” which the nation (Ummah) – with all its youth, scholars, elites, mujahideen, and members of society, including men, women, and even children – comes under the title of ‘The cultural, social and economic challenge’. This (chapter) will be written by the strong members (of our nation), by those who will be able to produce great, creative ideas, those who will manage to produce new (forms) of knowledge and sciences (that facilitate) the administration and management of the desired transformation in our societies, organizations and movements.
(New forms of knowledge and sciences) from education, to art and media, to management and economics, to jurisprudence, wisdom/philosophy and mysticism, to all skills and crafts that contribute to ‘the happy life’. (Such knowledge) would be rooted in and derived from the two ‘precious’ sources (of Islamic thought), the Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the divinely-protected (leaders of Ahlul Bayt), peace be upon them. (These sciences) will also be rooted in the blessed principles of the revival of the great Imam Khomeini and his successor, the second Khomeini (Imam Khamenei), away from being captured, dazzled and fascinated by the West, or from calcification and fatal apathy.
Today is the period of great transformations, which will not come about unless we carry them out ourselves, and if we turn away, God will replace us with another people. It is a golden opportunity for the birth of a new Ummah (nation). Our leader is calling upon us. Will we respond to his call and help in building the great (Islamic) civilization, and by doing so preserve our victories which we produced through our struggle and martyrdom? (Will we) achieve the conquests of civilizational progress? Will we (succeed) in the (great) cultural battles? Will we be able to create the new ‘good life’ that is full of hope, energy and creativity?
For every leader, leadership and (loyal) helpers, and for every ‘Guardian Jurist’, ‘Guardianship’ and (steadfast) followers, the law of God, the All-Wise and the Bestower of Mercy, is clear: “And if you obey him, you will be [rightly] guided” (Holy Qur’an: Surat An-Nur, Ayah 54).