By Blake Archer Williams
(Blake Archer Williams’ two books, Introduction to Walīyic Islam and Creedal Foundations of Walīyic Islam, which are the sources for the ideas presented in this essay – and where they are fully elaborated – can be found on Amazon.com, together with all 32 of his books on Walīyic Islam or the Shi’a Islam of Imam Khomeini which is the basis of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.)
Today is the 27th of the month of Rajab. On this day, 1451 years ago (in the Year of the Elephant, thirteen years before the Migration from Mecca to Medina of the Prophet of Islam and his nascent community of faith and the start of the Islamic calendar), our Maker and Lord of Providence commissioned the last in a long series of His prophets to act as an intermediary between Himself and mankind, and sent the final and most perfected of His prophets as a mercy to humanity, the Prophet Mohammad (may God’s peace be unto him and unto his Purified and Immaculate House) as an epiphanic embodiment of all of the noblest and divine attributes of human character, as a guide, and as a hojjat for humanity, i.e., as the clear and perfect embodied evidence of and unimpeachable authority for all truth on Earth, and as the conclusive argument and evidentiary proof against all falsehood on the Plain of Assembly on Judgement Day. This essay is this humble servant of God’s attempt to interpret what the meaning and implications of God’s commissioning of His prophets is to humanity as it finds itself today, fourteen and a half lunar centuries and a year after the commissioning of our Lord’s most perfect of commissioners, to whose spirit in Heaven I dedicate this essay: His Eminence Most Noble Prophet of Islam; for without your intercession and the intercession of the People of your Noble House, your Purified and Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt, I shall surely perish.
Part 1: The First Rational Proof for the Superiority of Covenantal Dispensations over Conventional-Secular Polities
When people with Western sensibilities talk about the system of governance in Iran, two closely-related category errors are invariably present in the discourse. The first is that they fail to distinguish between Covenantal or Dispensational polities and Conventional ones; and this is because, secondly, they fail to distinguish between communities and societies, or, more specifically, between sacred communities and civil societies. Covenantal or Dispensational polities yield sacred communities, whereas Conventional polities yield civil societies; or, to put it slightly differently: sacred communities are the product of a communal consensus on a given Covenant (and on the Dispensation which ensues from that Covenant), whereas civil societies are the product of a Conventional communal consensus.
What is the nature of man and of the world in which he finds himself? Is there a God, and if so, what, if anything, does He want of me? What, if anything, is my purpose and the purpose of my nation? Different cosmologies or worldviews, having come up with different answers to these questions concerning existence and the world in which we find ourselves, will produce different sets of values and value priorities, which, in the context of nations and nation-states, will produce different legal constitutions, which are nothing other than the building blocks for the institutionalization of those value sets, enabling laws to be forged and enforced so that those values are protected and maintained. To put it slightly differently, cosmologies, theologies and spiritual anthropologies, or, in sum, one’s orientation in the world and sense of self-identity (i.e. the way the above basic questions are answered or assumed) are determinative of one’s national identity and of the polity of one’s nation. A “nation” of materialist atheists who do not believe in the existence of God, let alone believe that He might want His nation to behave in a certain purposive way collectively, will constitute a very different polity than that of a nation whose constituents believe, in unison, that there is a dispensation (or divinely sanctioned way of life) ordained by God for each individual and for their nation as a whole, and that their entire purpose in life is to live within the bounds of that dispensation in order for its salvific promise to be fulfilled.
In a world where the universe is believed to be created (and didn’t “just happen”) and the warps and woofs of whose fabric are utterly moral in their composition, and in a world whose creation is a program upon whose stage mankind is positioned front and center, and in which God is intimately involved by way of his comprehensive providential administration in the affairs of man and in the affairs of the world, the meaning and compass of religion are going to be very different and far more expansive than the conception of religion in a society whose citizens either do not believe in God, or believe that “religion” is a private affair and is best kept out of the public arena. (The decision of the relegation of religion to the confines of the private lives of the individual is itself a public affairs decision, making the attempt at such a separation infinitely regressive and therefore a logical impossibility, but that is a story for another day.)
From Sacred Community to Civil Society
Martin Luther’s The Ninety-Five Theses (1517), published 500 years ago this year, was the catalyst that started the Reformation, which set off a series of conflicts between Roman Catholic and Protestant forces within the ambit of the Holy Roman Empire, ending in the Peace of Augsburg (1555) wherein the principle of cuius regio, eius religio was adopted. This principle, (“Whose realm, his [right to impose his] religion”), went against what is now referred to as “religious uniformity”, but was in fact the decay, degeneration and ultimate ending of the state of the integrality of religion and state within the Holy Roman Empire. But the principle of cuius regio, eius religio was not enough to withstand the various Renaissance pressures and the floodgates which had temporarily been held in place by the Peace of Augsburg burst open throughout central Europe in The Thirty Years’ War (1618 to 1648) with the forces of the Protestant Union of the north waging war against the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in order to reassert what they saw as rights which had been granted to them in the Peace of Augsburg. And so it was not until the Peace of Westphalia (1644 to 48) where the European wars of religion were effectively ended and the natural state of the integrality of religion and state ended with a deteriorated and decayed state of the “separation of church and state”, putting an end to the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, and the longer Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. Now the reason this degeneration and decay from integrality to a chaotic modus vivendi (or from actual community to “Civil Society”) is not decried as a shame and is actually celebrated by the misinformed is because it is something that is seen as inevitable, given the history recalled in the above paragraph. But again, this did not have to be the case, and that history only came to pass because of the unique historical path that Western Christendom took which acted as an inevitable prelude to the rise of Neo-Pagan and Humanist ideas prior to the Reformation, and which saw their full bloom in the so-called Enlightenment.
The German philosopher and sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855 – 1936) distinguished between two types of social groupings. Gemeinschaft (often translated as community or left untranslated) and Gesellschaft (often translated as society). Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft describe the crucial distinction between community and “Civil Society”; community being characterized by a dispensationalist consensus or a sacred communal consensus on a dispensation sent down from on high, and the latter being characterized as a consensus to “agree to disagree” and to agree that a consensus in any meaningful form can no longer be reached, paving the way to a “conventional” polity (agreed to by secular-humanist convention). This “agreement to disagree” which crystalized between the Peace of Augsburg (1555) and the Peace of Westphalia (1644 – 1648) was, in effect, the West’s long and excruciating decision to throw out the baby of Community with the bathwater of the Church’s malfeasance in the revolutionary fervor of the Reformation and the “Enlightenment” that followed in its wake.
But whereas the integrality of church and state was lost with the Peace of Westphalia (1644 – 1648) whereat pre-Westphalian communities gave way to the Westphalian order of “Civil Societies”, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 restored community to the Moslem nation of Iran. Imām Khomeinī comments with respect to this difference:
The fundamental difference between Islamic government, on the one hand, and constitutional monarchies and republics, on the other, is this: whereas the representatives of the people or the monarch in such regimes engage in legislation, in Islam the legislative power and competence to establish laws belongs exclusively to Almighty God. The Sacred Legislator of Islam is the sole legislative power. No one has the right to legislate and no law may be executed except the law of the Divine Legislator.
The Covenantal polity and the constitution of the Islamic Republic is based on the theory of Velāyat-e Faqīh which is a theory which addresses man’s basic and existential questions in a way that is suited not to any and all people, but to people who share a broad spectrum of basic first principles or creedal beliefs and who have achieved the high plateau of “religious uniformity”; for people, in other words, who have attained to faith in and have sworn allegiance to and have dedicated themselves to living their lives in accordance with a divine dispensation ordained by God. To say the same thing from its opposite and negative rather than affirmative perspective, this political theory is suitable for a community of faith and is not suitable for an aggregation of atomized and supra-individuated persons who have pilfered away the sacred revealed guidance and teachings which are the bindings that provide for social cohesion against the centrifugal forces of excessive individualism and social alienation, and who consequently find themselves in the geographical confines of a given location which they share (through no choice of their own) with other individuals with which they have little in common other than the fact that each of their individual interests are at variance and indeed at loggerheads with those others with whom they are condemned to share the confines of their geographical as well as their emotional and cognitive spaces. Failing to attain to a collective faith, man finds himself, to quote Thomas Hobbes, in a state where there is “no society [in the true sense of the word, by which he means community, as opposed to what has come to be known as “civil society” in the post-Westphalian order], and … [where] the life of man [is], solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (This state, Hobbes erroneously characterized as a state of nature, whereas in fact, it is the state of denatured man.) This is the definition which society has slouched down to after the diluvium which followed the Peace of Augsburg and the ascendancy of the Westphalian order that followed it.
From Civil Society to Sacred Community
Contrary to this, the Islamic vision, which was to bring about a social transformation which founded the life of the community on divine norms, had to be acknowledged by society as a whole (as a logical outcome of the nascent community’s faith in that vision and program). Here is Imam Khomeinī again:
The body of Islamic laws that exist in the Quran and the Sonnaᵗ has been accepted by the Moslems and recognized by them as worthy of obedience. This consent and acceptance facilitates the task of government and makes it truly belong to the people. In contrast, in a republic or a constitutional monarchy, most of those claiming to be representatives of the majority of the people will approve anything they wish as law and then impose it on the entire population [whereas in Islam, the yoke of compliance with the Law is taken on willingly by the community of those who have attained to faith.]
Here Imām Khomeinī, the greatest man the modern era has witnessed, has placed his finger on the crux of the difference between simply democratic forms of government and ones based on divine law: the latter is sacred to those who have attained to faith in it, while the former can at best be characterized as optimally coercive. The only way to escape from the tyranny of the absolutism of law is for that absolutism to have absolute legitimacy; is for society to go back to being a community; for there to be consensus, in other words, and for that consensus to be sacred, to have consensus upon the sacred, to hold values in common that are inviolable in their sacrosanctity. Without consensus upon the sacred, authority will always be illegitimate or a conventionally agreed upon approximation of legitimacy which nonetheless will always be a locus of individual resentment. Man’s failure to achieve sacred consensus dooms him to a life of tyranny. Legislation can be just, have full efficacy and be capable of fulfilling man’s quest for happiness only when it is in accord with man’s primordial constitution: with his fetraᵗ. [12:40] Judgment [as to what is right and what is wrong] rests with God alone, meaning that the creation of laws that will enable him to reach his intended perfection in this world and bring felicity for man in the hereafter is God’s exclusive prerogative, for no one but He has the competence for this undertaking.
So in this sense, walīyic Islam, which is the Guardianship-type of comprehensive authority God’s regent on earth is given in order to interpret and implement His dispensation, is not “democratic” in the sense of each person’s vote having been equally weighted in matters that require a high degree of religious expertise, but rather, is hierarchical based on a hierarchy of knowledge and learning. This of course applies to issues that fall within the aegis of the dispensation or within the jurisdiction circumscribed by the sacred law. For example, in this system, if “the people” want to marry persons of the same sex, then walīyic Islam, and specifically the walīy or faqīh will step in and remind or educate the Moslem, saying, ‘No, God’s law forbids you from doing so.’ But in areas where the sacred dispensation or sharīat is silent and has a neutral interest, say, on the matter of land use policy, for example, then a congress of “democratically” elected representatives of the people will decide such “regulations” (we use the word to distinguish between the jurisdiction of the people (،urfīāt) and sacred “laws” which are the domain of God) in accordance with the will of the people whom they are elected to represent. And the line as to where God’s jurisdiction ends and that of the people’s begins is static with respect to certain things but is wholly dynamic with respect to others, and is also determined by the fully-qualified magister.
But on the other hand, if we define the word democracy as a system of governance where the will of the people reigns supreme, then the system of walīyic Islam is indeed more democratic, because the people have willed, collectively, to submit their wills to the will of God and this consensus yields or at least tends toward the highest common factor rather than to the lowest common denominator which is the highest yield that can possibly be expected from the absence of consensus on major first principles, which is the state that is the norm and definition of secular democracies and which is a species of heteronomy that a failure to achieve sacred consensus will invariably yield. So in the strict sense of the word, walīyic Islam is maximally democratic whereas liberal democracy (even if we grant that, its misconceived anthropology notwithstanding, is capable somehow of immunizing itself from being hijacked by the creeping forces of covert de facto oligarchy) is at best minimally so.
Do me a Favor
Achieving sacred consensus on the divine dispensation is the only way in which a purposive community can be achieved, and as man was made to have purpose communally as well as individually, any polity that does not provide him with the means to achieve that common purpose will be heteronomous to his primordial disposition or original nature (fetrat), thereby annihilating it in time. And we would argue that not only is community not actually possible without man submitting and fettering his will to that of God’s dispensation, but that in the long run, even “civil society” (and the whole Faustian Westphalian project) is not sustainable either, because it will disintegrate into oligarchy or some other form of repressive system, or the 21st century equivalent of the Weimar Republic will turn into its analogue of 1933 Germany (wasn’t 9/11 our Reichstag fire?), or transmogrify into different and ever more exquisite forms of chaos and anarchy; because God has created man in such a way that he must necessarily have an umbilical relationship to his Maker at all times, such that any overplus of autonomy is ultimately false and therefore self-undermining; and in his arrogance, if man believes that he has been given the freedom to do whatever he wants, he should know that the nature of the world in which he finds himself is that the centrifugal forces of his unfettered lower or commanding self (an-nafs al-ammāra bi sū’) will inevitably burst the bindings of whatever system he has concocted for himself and ultimately cause him (and his so-called order), to quote the Qoran, [105:5] to become like a field of grain that has been eaten down to [noting but its] stubble: fa ja‘alahom ka ‘asfin ma‘kūl: a spent force.
Here are a couple of instances of the more obvious Qoranic evidences and warnings:
[75:36] Does man, then, think that he is to be left to himself?
[3:83] Do they seek, perchance, a religion other than God’s, although it is unto Him that whatever is in the heavens and on earth surrenders itself, willingly or unwillingly, since [it is] unto Him [that the affairs of] all shall be returned [for evaluation and judgment]?
And so, in conclusion, we say to those Johnny-come-lately liberal hawks who feel the urge of the “responsibility, to protect” us from ourselves by dragging us down to the minimalist version of their sham democracy is that, while we can and do appreciate their position (which is best summed up by the axiom ‘misery enjoys company’), our response must nevertheless remain: ‘Do me a favor; don’t do me any favors.’
[Sidebar: Here are some reminders of definitions of some of the key terms used in this essay:
Providence: God’s intervention in the world; the exercise of care and guidance by God in managing human affairs; God’s commands as to how one shall and shall not live one’s life and form and manage the public sphere.
Providential Lordship: The control of the affairs of humanity and indeed of all of creation by God. The Islamic belief in Providential Lordship posits such lordship as being the exclusive province of God and is sharply contrasted with the worldview of Deism, which is the belief in the existence of God based solely on reason (i.e. not having any revelatory basis), who created the universe but then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation; Deism is the rejection of the possibility of supernatural intervention in human affairs.
Covenantal means having to do with a covenant or promise or contract. In the Biblical and Qoranic contexts, it refers to an agreement between God and His people (those who have attained to faith in Him and in His Providential Lordship), in which covenant mutual promises are made. In Islam, man is believed to have covenanted with God (in pre-eternity) to abide by His will and to live by His laws and in accordance with His Providential Lordship, and the Lord God in turn covenanted with man to provide him with guidance in order for him to be able properly to carry out his commitment.
Dispensation refers to the religio-legal and ethical system or order determined by God for a given age and nation or nations whereby such nations are to live in conformance with the totality of the system’s legal ordinances (prescriptive and proscriptive imperatives) as well as with all of its ethical commendations and disapprobations. Sacred or Covenantal Dispensations are exclusivist: no other agency can be allowed any quarter in this matter, whether this be Man himself, as in the secular humanist philosophy subscribed to by the liberals of the era, or the dynamics of accumulated capital taking on a life of its own as in capitalism, usury, fractional reserve fiat private central banking and other such modern-day idols.
Conventional literally means “of or relating to a convention or assembly”. A Conventional polity is a form of government wherein the people (or their elected representatives) gather in an assembly and determine their constitution and laws by means of the general agreements reached in their compact or convention.
Sacred Community can be defined as a form of intentional and purposive community whose members form the collective with the intention of achieving a specific purpose, and who communally and in unison hold that purpose or objective to be sacred. In Islam that purpose is to live in accordance with the revealed will of God (or in accordance with His dispensation) in order to gain His good pleasure in this world, and in order thereby to attain to everlasting felicity and Heaven in the Hereafter.
Society refers to a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Now witness the semantic slide that has taken place from what a society used to mean to what it has come to mean:
Traditional definition: A society is a group of people living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values which are held to be sacred and to have a divine origin and purpose, the society having been formed in order to bring about the conditions necessary to fulfill that divine purpose.]
Part 2: The Emergent Multipolar Religio-Political Landscape from a Shī‘a Perspective
The End of an Era and of Uncle $cam’s Unipolar Moment
In the first part of this essay, we stated that in talking about politics in Iran and its polity or system of governance more generally, two closely-related category errors were invariably present in the discourse. These consisted of (1) the failure to distinguish between Covenantal or Dispensational polities and Conventional ones; which error, we said, came about as a result of (2) the failure to distinguish between communities and societies, or, more specifically, between sacred communities and civil societies. Covenantal or Dispensational polities yield sacred communities, whereas Conventional polities yield civil societies; or, to put it slightly differently: sacred communities are the product of a communal consensus on a given Covenant (and the Dispensation which ensues from that Covenant), whereas civil societies are the product of a Conventional communal consensus (that has come about as a result of the failure to come to a consensus on that which is sacred).
Thus, there are those of us who believe in the reality that we have a Maker Who has created us in a way so that the optimal state of our freedom obtains for us when we submit our will to the will of our Maker and conform the way in which we transact our lives to the Sacred Dispensation which He has in mind for us and which He has revealed to us by way of His prophets. So where does this new dichotomy between the sacred and the profane leave us? The Islamic Revolution of Iran was the first crack to appear in the wall of the bi-polar world of the 20th century. That wall literally fell with the fall of the Berlin wall a decade later in 1989. About a decade after that, the events of September 11th, 2001 adumbrated the kind of century the 21st of the Christian Era was going to be. And so the dozen years between 1989 and 2001 can be considered to be the unipolar moment, or Uncle $cam’s interregnum and the transitional period between the bi-polar world of the last century and the multipolar world of the present one. (We say that the unipolar moment was a brief one because it was formally put an end to by the 9-day Russo-Georgian War of August 2008, where the “New American Century” mission creep was nipped in the bud by Russian forces; the Crimean annexation of march 2014 was simply Russia’s making sure that Victoria Nuland got the message.)
So what has the bi-polar political landscape of the two false paradigms of socialism and capitalism transitioned to? We argue that it has transitioned to another dichotomy, but this time, it is not so much bi-polar as it is a single dominant pole (the dominant paradigm of the New World Order of the West), being resisted by various phases and facets and elements and aspects of that order’s polar opposite, namely, the old world order, i.e. the sacred order of God, which has been and is being revived first and foremost under the aegis of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, but also under the aegis of multiple other poles, the most important being that of President Putin and Patriarch Kirill’s Third Rome. The battle lines are now fully drawn and could not be any more obvious: It would seem that it is not enough for the United States militarily to support the two vilest regimes on the planet, namely, that of the as-Sa’ūd clan which has occupied the holy cities of Mecca and Medina for over a century, and the regime of the European Zionist implants which have been occupying al-Qods and the rest of Palestine for 70-plus years; no, she has to support the vilest groups of bandits and liver-eating outlaws that the world has ever seen, against the Syrian nation, namely, al-Qāeda and Dāesh. Surely, anyone who still thinks that the Republocrat foreign policy of the United States has any legitimacy whatsoever is truly beyond hope and help. And of course, who is arrayed against this daemonic alliance but Iran and Russia. It is these two nations who are on the front lines of a spiritual war whose first major battle is being waged in Syria.
Preliminaries: the proactive, limited and self-critical Entezār (Awaiting) of the Islamic Republic versus the False-Enraptured Messianism of Judaic Zionism
On the basis of our Qoranic anthropology (of fallen or, better, imperfect man, who is a creature who is recalcitrant and generally not amenable to true guidance), as well as on the basis of our prophetic and imāmic prophecies, we Shi’a believe that man’s moral condition will degenerate with each passing generation until it reaches a point where humanity’s only remaining hope will be the Universal Savior, whom we believe to be the promised Imam al-Mahdi (may God hasten the advent of his noble person); and who we further believe will be accompanied and aided by the great prophet Jesus, the son of the Immaculate Virgin, Lady Mary (may God’s peace be unto them both). But at the same time, our teachings tell us that this general trend notwithstanding, we have a religious duty to strive with our utmost diligence to ensure that “God’s Name be hallowed, and that His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (to paraphrase the Lord’s Prayer). Shī’a Islam always had a political posture that balanced man’s imperfect state with his divinely-ordained imperative of enacting God’s will on Earth; but that imperative went into abeyance for a thousand year (in the year 941 of the Christian Era, to be exact) with the Imam al-Mahdi entering into a state of occultation; but it re-emerged from this millennial state of abeyance with the triumph of Imam Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, which was the realization of the imam’s theory of the Regency of the Magisterium (also translated as the Guardianship-type Governance of the Religious Jurist) in the absence of the Immaculate Imam, or the theory of velāyat-e faqīh.
Now the accusation has been levelled both from within the Islamic tradition (by the Hojjatieh Society types, for example), as well as from outside it, that the theory of velāyat-e faqīh and the revolutionary order that it ushered in is just that: it is revolutionary and radical, and as such, is not conservative or traditional. For example, in his essay Counter-Liberalism: Heidegger’s Ghosts, Alexander S. Duff states: “[The project of the Islamic Revolution of Iran] should not be confused with traditionalism or conservatism, though contemporary far-rightists in this orbit sometimes identify as “Traditionalists.” Rather, the future orientation of this radicalism aspires to retrieve a new form of particularist communal existence from a past to which even tradition is blind.” This is a valid and good concern, but because Mr. Duff does not have sufficient empathy with “traditionalism and conservatism” he mistakenly characterizes the Islamic Revolution as radical. (Strictly speaking, the Islamic “Revolution” is in fact an insurrection [to restore the tradition of the Prophet and of the Imams to its rightful place], not a revolution.)
In that essay, Duff’s concern is with Heidegger, who he states sensed that the complete “destruction” of culture would be required to effect the philosophic and historical changes he envisioned; and, not knowing enough about the evolutionary development of Shī‘a Islam, Duff goes on to conflate it with Heidegger’s nihilism, or, better, with what can be characterized, from our perspective, as advocacy of a form of what William F. Buckley used to refer to as the ‘Immanentization of the Eschaton’. Eric Voegelin worded the general idea in this way: “The problem of an eidos in history, hence, arises only when a Christian transcendental fulfillment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy.” In other words, it is a mistake to believe that the disorder of the world can be transcended by extraordinary insight, learning, or knowledge, (which Voegelin called a ‘Gnostic Speculation’); and that the eschaton (the final, heaven-like stage of history) can be implemented in the world by man prior to the advent of the Imam al-Mahdi (or to the Second Coming of the Christ in the Christian tradition).
The introduction of change and novelty is increasing at a furious rate; and the triple bind of modernity is that because the changes it has introduced outpace the host tradition’s ability to cope with or digest and assimilate them, the resultant cognitive field of modernity with which the moderns identify (to the dubious extent that it can be said that they identify with anything) is itself an unprecedented radicalization of the status quo ante that is profoundly at odds with the tradition out of the belly of which it emerged. So let us be quite clear on that: it is the post-Westphalian order with its Gesellschaft (or “Civil Society” — aggregates of individuals) departure from the wholeness and integrality of their host Gemeinschaft (community), to use Tönnies’ words, that is what is radically at odds with “traditionalism and conservatism”.
And given this radicalized cognitive field that unceasingly coopts elements of traditional cultures and communities in a parasitical fashion (not having any tradition of its own), the second knot in the bind is that the only “solution” to the problem (given the co-mingling and cooption of the past, and also given the traditional communities’ failure to assimilate or at least to forestall the changes which are radically at odds with it) is a reformation which will ineluctably appear as radical against the background of this corrupted cognitive field, but which is reformatory in its essence nevertheless. And this is why Imam Khomeinī said: “Islam lives among the people of this world as if it were a stranger; if somebody were to present Islam as it truly is, he would find it difficult to make people believe him.” So yes, modernity has blinded even “tradition” because traditional solutions no longer have efficacy and one must go back to the Creedal Foundations and apply those principles to “newly arising situations” in a kind of neo-ejtehād, if you will (and I hate to use that term), in a field where there have been cardinal changes (no pun intended) such that the presumptive framework of the sacred canon and everything else has shifted and will continue to do so at ever faster dizzying speeds. And the third knot is that this “solution” is not a solution at all and cannot be a solution in the real sense of the word, but is at best only a stop-gap measure or a place-holder for the coming of the Mahdi, as it is the lesser evil among all of the other alternatives.
I emphasize this last part because that is what differentiates what I will call the proactive, limited and self-critical entezār (awaiting) of the Islamic Republic from the false-enraptured messianism of Judaic Zionism (whose proponents could not wait for the fulfillment of the promise of their Lord for their Messiah to take them to the Promised Land); not to mention their Atlanticist Evangelical enablers further to their west in London and New York and Washington.
The task of the refashioning of the post-Vatican II, post-9/11 Neo-Liberal World Order (which Heidegger believed requires the complete destruction of culture) is indeed necessary, but one that must be left to the Imam al-Mahdi or the promised Universal Savior whose advent will be coterminous with that of the Second Coming of Jesus the son of Mary (unto both of whom be God’s peace and blessings). The project of the Islamic Revolution is not the establishment of the City of God “on Earth as it is in Heaven”; it is a stop-gap measure to attempt to take from Caesar that which does not belong to Caesar, as it were; to establish God’s will in the absence (or “occultation”) of Immaculate guidance as best we can, given our Fallen state. This is exactly what is meant by entezār or awaiting the Mahdi: it is an awaiting, but an awaiting that is proactive, with due attention to the limitations of our ability to do anything until his blessed advent. Unfortunately, most of the authorities in the Islamic Republic still harbor naïve and idealistic notions of what those achievements can and should be (a remnant of a once necessary revolutionary fervor); and their aims are misdirected more often than not. They have yet to realize (or in any event they have not yet been ready to announce publicly) that, contrary to their claims during the tumultuous heyday of the revolution, they are incapable of bringing about the conditions necessary for the full implementation of Islam as it was intended by the Lord. But again, this is a far, far better alternative than to sit there twiddling one’s thumbs like the Hojjatieh, doing nothing to help the situation of their lot, until the advent. As Āyatollāh Bahjat has stated, those who take this position will not be able to answer their Lord on Judgement Day as to why they did nothing to help relieve human suffering when they were perfectly able to do so. And that is exactly what the Islamic Republic is doing, bless its heart, with all its bumbling faults, false starts and struggles against seemingly insurmountable odds, whose project is destined not to reach its end goal and perfection.
Yet, this is not an endless Sisyphean struggle that is without purpose. The purpose of the life of this world is for it to serve as a testing ground to separate those who, given limited free will, will choose to obey their Lord and Maker in the way of life that in His wisdom and grace He has revealed to us (and thus achieve felicity in this world and in the world to come), from those who will rebel against His will (and be condemned to perdition). And we view the fact that the struggle to maintain as best we can the conditions necessary for the continuance of the implementation of God’s will on the social as well as on the individual level has seemed to become a thankless Sisyphean task that is doomed to fail, as just another indication and sign of the nearing of the end of the current phase in human history and the ever closer approach of the blessed promised return of the Imam al-Mahdi, may Allāh hasten the advent of his noble person.
The Emerging Brotherhood of Resistance
A New Horizon has been ushered in after the 1968 peak of the heyday of the liberalism of the Soixante-Huitards and the turning of the tide in Iran and Poland in 1979, and in Berlin in 1989, and the coup d’etat of September 11th, 2001, with everything leading up to the world-war-in-microcosm of Syria and beyond at present. This emerging New Horizon which is arising to combat oppression and to establish justice and equity on the basis of the moral values and ethical principles revealed to us by the prophets through the ages, and which are shared by Christianity and Islam alike. What we see unfolding in the unipolar interregnum (or in the transition between the bi-polar world of the cold war and the multi-polar world that is developing before our eyes) is not only the transition of political and economic institutions to epicenters that define the new multipolar topology (such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Shang-Hai Cooperation Organization (SCO)), but an ideological and spiritual shift from the bipolar model of left/ right, libertarian/ communitarian, to one whose dominant paradigm is the hegemonic dynamic of liberal capitalism, Zionism and the New [Secular] Order of the Ages (Novus Ordo Seclorum), which is itself the antithesis to God’s original order or dispensation, which is on the rise and posing a challenge to the dominant paradigm. This latter order, which is at times referred to as the Axis of Resistance, is centered on Iran’s Velāyat-e Faqīh constitutional theocentric system (with our Hezbollāh allies being early adherents), and with the welcome and very important addition of the Russian Federation, the bear having been unintentionally awakened, it would seem, by the Jewess warmonger Victoria Nuland (nee Nudelman). (And of course with the Bishop of Rome sadly and conspicuously absent.)
With the spectacular “success” of capitalism ever on the ascendant, the material conditions and comforts and power of the super-rich (and their rich accomplices and managerial-class enablers and administrators) reaches unprecedented peaks, and the divide between them and the vast majority of humanity becomes ever more evident, stark and grotesque, an equal and opposite reaction is also emerging as its antithesis. And that is the emerging sense of significant basic commonalities between peoples of different faiths who are coming to understand that they hold in common traditional values whose origins go back to revelations revealed by God and which they all hold as sacred, and that given the ascendancy of modernism or capitalism or neoliberalism or globalism or whatever you want to call the anti-human and ungodly values of the order that has become the dominant paradigm or operating system of the world; that, given this ascendancy and its unremitting assault on these commonly-held values, that there is an emerging sense of a new priority and urgency that presents itself, namely, that if we are to hold on to what we have as traditional cultures and peoples, we had better start coming together as a confederation of forces and to start to work together in defense of our common values rather than to stick to the lines that have traditionally been defined by our creeds.
The emerging multi-polar landscape is a spiritual one, and is one that recognizes that people of different faiths have more in common with each other on matters of substance and importance than we have differences on things that have divided us in the past (and continue to mark our boundaries), and that we have a very nefarious and powerful enemy in common which is eroding and ripping our values to shreds, call it modernity, secular humanism, neo-Paganism, the New World Order, or what you will. The basic premise of this assertion of the essentially spiritual nature of this emergent concrescence is that as time progresses and the outlines of the concrescence are more clearly adumbrated and ultimately crystalize into clearly discernable new formations, that the spiritual commonalities will trump other more traditional factors such as ethnicity, religious affiliation, cultural formations, national boundaries and geostrategic considerations.
Thus, there is a need to come up with a manifesto of all that we hold in common, and to define new protocols whereby communication and lines of cooperation are better defined in order to facilitate and harmonize more contact and cooperation between peoples of faith. Think of it as a Declaration of Social Rights. Having defined what constitutes a traditional community or nation, one such protocol or Article of Confederation would be, for example, that the sacred tenets and creedal bases of each nation and culture and civilization are inviolable. Thus, the Manifesto would be the polar opposite of what today passes as “religious ecumenisms”, being the broad credo of a movement wherein a true dialogue between people of faith can be held. It will be true in the sense that all previous efforts at ecumenism were based on achieving common ground by sacrificing values which are held as sacred, and by abandoning the most sacred value of all: attaining to social justice, which can only be achieved by establishing the ordinances of God’s sacred laws as the basis of all legislation. And of course all of these efforts were bound to fail because ultimately no one was willing to abandon what they held as sacred in order to achieve a meaningless common consensus. But our approach, which we think of as the Shī’a Ecumenism, is based not on the attitudes and values of the New World Order but on the Old World Order, the sacred and divine World Order, not the secular one; but it is the Old World Order 2.0, with (a) multi-dispensational mutual respect and cooperation rather than conflict, and (b) rational bases and proofs for our positions that supplement and buttress our respective sacred revealed values and truths, rather than relying solely on scriptural dogmatics. To paraphrase the words of the ideological platform of Alain Soral’s party of Equality and Reconciliation in France, generally speaking, “we are on the right when it comes to moral values, and on the left when comes to workers’ rights and social justice”, with the difference that, unlike Alain Soral’s party, we have the spiritual underpinnings that have sustained our position for over a millennium.
We need to provide a common credo for Catholic, Orthodox, Sonnī and Shī’a alike in our struggle against our common enemy. Most importantly, if we are ever to succeed in taking even a single step in the right direction toward promoting the necessary conditions that will promote and foster social justice and the brotherhood of man, we need to understand what is really going on with the system of usury that has taken over the world, what fractional reserve banking is, what fiat currency is, what the prospects are for the Bretton Woods monetary system to implode upon itself given the abuse of the system that placed the US Dollar in a monopoly position contrary to all international norms, and what the alternatives to it are: what a usury-free and just financial order would look like (and what steps must be taken in order to bring about such an order). We need to provide constructive analyses and observations of where we should be heading as a multi-polar and multi-denominational and multi-dispensational community of faith: what our common grounds are and should be, and what objectives we should set for bringing ourselves closer in spiritual and geostrategic alliance, and most importantly, the answers, expressed in rational terms, to the question as to why the sacred dispensation that we believe in is superior, by way of rational proofs, than the secular and profane alternative, and furthermore, why it is our only way forward.
The main thing that we share in common with our brothers in faith is our belief that not only is there a God, but that He has ordained for us through that special faculty of intellection we call revelation a certain way of life (or a dispensation, if you will) through which we will attain to our perfections in this life and to salvation in the hereafter. Thus, we all agree that fornication, gambling, usury, abortion, homosexuality (let alone pedophilia and bestiality, which seem to be right around the corner on their Satanic agenda), all lead to untold miseries in this life, and to perdition in the life to come. We even share almost identical views on the consumption of alcohol, the difference being that while it is a vice that is strictly forbidden in the Islamic dispensation, it is one that has been allowed in the Christian tradition, but only in very limited quantities, and certainly not in anything like the volumes that give rise to the hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually that is the result of the debauchery of the liberal lifestyle). And last and by no means least, we also agree that there is and should be such a thing as real social justice.
We mention these issues because not only do they cover the large majority of the issues that are grist for the mill of the culture wars that have been raging for decades, but because they are issues where we have 100% agreement and where we can and must go on the offensive. Not only do we have scriptural bases and proofs for the veracity and righteousness of our positions on all of these issues, but we also have rational proofs that buttress our positions on these issues as well. Too long have we left the sociological approaches to these key issues to the leftists, which are nothing but the burnt-out remnants of the Soixante-Huitards. From the Shi’a perspective, the Axis of Resistance should aim to bring about the concrescence and confederation of the forces of righteousness within Christianity and Islam (and other civilizations such as the Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian, and even the secular-minded individuals and groups who accept traditional values and the priority of the principle of social justice over unfettered individual freedom) who are engaged in the sacred struggle (jehād) of establishing God’s providential lordship (robūbīat, mashī’at, sharī’at) on Earth as it is in Heaven. As such, our mission is to work with leaders within Christian Orthodoxy as well as with Catholics who reject the separation of church and state that was adopted by the Second Vatican Council of 1958 – 1963 (the group that has come to be known as the Traditional Catholics and at times as the sede-vacantists), as well as any other groups that adhere to these values and are determined to focus and work on positive points which we share in common, and not to accentuate divisive differences.
It seems to me that the “New Horizon” that is emerging (to use Nader Talebzādeh’s term) is a concrescence of forces pointing to what can be called an emerging “Brotherhood of Resistance” against the forces of tyranny and oppression (in secular terms), and against the forces of evil and of those working against the will of God and His sacred Dispensation (in religious terms). What I see emerging is something like what I have depicted graphically below:
The Shī’a Perspective or the Five-Ring Circus
Let us take a closer look at the topology of the new political field. It is one that is defined on one side by a polity that is profane (secular-humanist) and democratic (yes, it is oligarchic and kleptocratic, but we are talking theory here); and on the other side, at its epicenter, as one that is sacred and theocratic. One that believes in making the community consensus united in its belief in a sacred covenant and dispensation work at any and all costs, as opposed to one whose communal attribute is civil society and laws that are arrived at by convention and which do not have any sacred or other-worldly origins (refer to Part 1 of this essay for an elaboration of this dichotomy).
The New Horizon that has come into view shares the values of the traditional Right (in the previous bi-polar model) when it comes to social values and everything that promotes traditional family values, but shares the values that have traditionally been held by the Left when it comes to social justice. On questions where the traditional Right and Left are at odds, as with, for example, the issue of individual vs. social rights, the sacred dispensationalists come down on the side of the priority of social rights over those of the unfettered rights of the individual. But this does not mean a strong statism which is then coopted by corporations, because the sacred dispensation insists on social justice, and can be identified with the traditional Left in this respect. Thus, the default is for government to establish the minimum requirements of the dispensation (which includes guaranteeing the conditions necessary for traditional family values to be maintained and to thrive and for social justice to obtain), and to leave everything else open for society to decide as it sees fit in fully empowered micro-communities. But this “leaving everything else open” does not apply to matters of social justice; here the dispensation insists that when one member of the community is oppressed, all are oppressed, and poverty and lack of access to decent housing and healthcare and education are all considered instances and species of oppression.
Now if we focus in on the newly-emerging front within this dichotomy, i.e. the one that holds traditional values as sacred, we will be able to discern five concentric rings, each being endowed with multiple more or less autonomous poles. As already stated, the center of this Sacred Axis (or Axis of Resistance, if you want to characterize is simply as a reaction to Western hegemony, which it is not) is the Islamic Republic, of course. But let us go out to the periphery and work out way inward.
The Peoples of the Fifth Ring: Here at the periphery we find the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people from the Indian subcontinent, to Indo-China, to China and Japan, be they Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian or Shinto – all of whom more or less believe in the traditional values which we Moslems and our Christian brothers and cousins believe have a divine origin. The Peoples of the Fifth Ring, let us call them, may not believe, with us, in the sacred origin of their values; but they hold them as sacred and inviolable nonetheless. They are fully and unequivocally united with us in their position on this.
The Fourth Ring is populated by Traditional Catholicism, which includes the hundreds of millions of Catholics of Latin America together with a sprinkling of what is left of the pre-Vatican II sensibility in Spain and France and Italy (and Eastern Europe too, of course, including, not least, the Poles). The People of the Fourth Ring are not confused concerning the divine origin of their values, but they are indeed confused or worse, are unaware, of how their leadership at the Vatican has betrayed them, and how the Second Vatican Council has severed the Church from the Apostolic Succession. The Catholic Church was once at the leading edge of the brotherhood of man in that it believed in the integrality of church and state and was to a large extent able to implement this belief. But now, tragically, and I dare say inevitably (because of their rejection of the prophethood of the Prophet Mohammad, unto whom be peace, and their insistence on the primacy of their church which led to the Great Schism of 1054), they sealed the fate of their Church from ever being able to be an instrument of salvation again. Those among the Protestants who still believe in traditional family values (are against gay rights, for example) and also believe in social justice (and are anti-Zionists, for example), fit into this Fourth Ring also.
The Third Ring is comprised of the Peoples of the Third Rome or Russian Orthodoxy and their fellow Eastern Orthodox Christians. These are people whose dispensation has a divine origin (being ordained by Almighty God), and whose patriarchs and patriarchates have not fallen for the modernist hokey-doke of the separation of church and state, cultural relativism, gay parades and all the rest of it. The dispensations in this Third Ring suffer from two short-comings: the dispensations themselves are based on sources which have been falsified and corrupted and superseded (the Bible having been superseded by the Qoran and Hadith); and, the role of the Orthodox Patriarchs are not front and center as is the role of the Shi’a clergy. But still, the Church’s involvement in statesmanship is unquestionably present, and it is a very welcome presence in these trying times, to say the least.
The Second Ring is comprised of those among our Sonnī brothers who are not “undecided” in the choice that has been facing them for a long time now, namely, that they have to choose which side they are on: are they allied with their Shi’a brothers in faith against the takfīrī Wahhabis and Salafis waging their bogus jehād on behalf of the Anglo-American Imperium and their Jewish masters in London, New York and Washington D. C.; or are they allied with these against the Shi’a. Those who anathemize those who anathemize the Shi’a are true Moslems and belong in this group. And although it is true that Sonnite political theory has been an unmitigated disaster from Day One (i.e. from the Saqīfa), which is why Sonnīs are basically spastic when it comes to political philosophy (kinda like the post-Vatican II Catholics who are basically schizoid), the reason they still get to be in the Second Ring ahead of the People of the Third Rome is that their praxis, being colored by the all-embracing sharī’a, is comprehensive and makes up for their political spasticity to a large extent. Thus, they are right in practice on most issues (except the ones that require statesmanship to enforce and foster), although their creedal basis is weak and has led them to disband the caliphate and to be ruled by puppets who dance to the tune of their foreign masters.
And the First Ring and final Ring is comprised of Shi’a Moslems, because not only do we get the dispensation right, we also have our religious leadership at the helm of the ship of state. As such, that very small minority among the Shi’a which does not believe in the duty of the clergy to step up to the plate of statesmanship during the period of the occultation of the 12th Imam (I am referring to the Hojjatieh Society types, as well as the “British Shi’ism” of the Shīrāzī type, as Imam Khāmeneī has famously termed it) do not belong in this first ring, but in the second, together with the Sonnis, to whom they are spiritually closer in any case, not having understood the key concept of welāyat (spiritual sovereignty). This exception also applies to what I have translated as the “Dinoseminarians” (dīnāsor-hāye howzeh, literally: the ‘dinosaurs of the seminary’ [whose cognitive output, the implication goes, is as good as extinct) against whom Imam Khomeini went to battle, and whose sole preoccupation and concern are matters having to do with ritual purity and acts of devotion (ahkām va ebādāt), on which they spend all their time on, at the expense of the real issues of the day which have to do with how to bring about social justice in Iran and to the whole of the world of Islam, and how to make Islam more relevant by having it deal with the issues raised by modernity more effectively. Imam Khomeini won the battle with the Dinoseminarians, but alas, at times it seems that they and their millennial inertia are winning the war. But inshallah, this will not be the case, if we can help it.
We must always bear in mind that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and although at times our prospects seem very bleak indeed with the ascendancy of the Forces of Profanity coming upon us wave after wave, we must always be conscious of the fact that while it might appear on the surface that the minions working against God’s Providence are in charge, it is God, the Lord of Providence of both worlds Who is actually in charge. God’s words in the Noble Qoran remind us:
وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ ۚ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ ﴿٣٠﴾
[8:30] AND [remember, O Prophet,] how those who were bent on denying the truth were scheming against thee, in order to restrain thee [from preaching], or to slay thee, or to drive thee away: thus have they [always] schemed: but God brought their scheming to naught – for [the power of] God[’s Providential Lordship] is above [that of the power of] all schemers.
The righteous and the God-fearing will prevail and inherit the Earth, and this is because the universe that our Maker has created is a moral universe, which means that while things might become temporarily displaced as a result of the wicked taking undue advantage of the limited freedom of will that God has granted them for a limited time, God’s order will ineluctably be restored in the long term and when all is said and done. Thus, bearing this Promise of our Lord ever in mind, we will be able to engage in the sacred struggle, first and foremost with the forces within our own lower selves that command us to ignorance and evil, but also with the forces of the wicked in the external world, with a sense of self-assurance and confidence that, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, it is we who will be the winners in this cosmic war. To be sure, we will lose battle after battle, and lose the battle in Syria also, if we have interpreted our prophecies correctly (possibly in a nuclear holocaust); after which there will be the advent of the Imam al-Mahdi, together with the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ, who will fight side by side against the forces of evil and triumph over them, after which there will be a long period of the reign of true peace and justice on earth, before the Resurrection. And so, knowing this sequence of events, it will be easier for us to work as separate poles in a confederation of people and nations of faith and of a Brotherhood of Resistance fighting to establish and maintain our the Covenantal Dispensations of our respective Sacred Communities with a posture of Active and Self-Critical Awaiting, and to avoid falling into the trap of the False-Enraptured Messianism of Judaic Zionism and its evil twin, the New Lower-Worldly (i.e. materialist and God-denying) Order, until the Advent of Imam al-Mahdi and of the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ.
Let us end on a supplication: Help us, Lord, to fight diligently and courageously in Your cause until the Advent of these two noble servants of Yours, and to prepare the conditions for their Advent, against all odds, to the best of our abilities. Amen.