What kind of civilization does the Leader of the Islamic Revolution pursue?
Throughout history, human beings have always built up civilizations in the hope of attaining peace and tranquility in the context of a just and humane community. However, this pleasant state to a large extent has still remained a utopia. The following Op-Ed article tries to shed light on what Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, means by “the New Islamic Civilization.”
Under what conditions are we humans living today? Have we ever pulled over to stop and think? Has life with all the progress it has made in the material dimensions really lived up to its promise to make us happier? Every moment, the news is spread about a new discovery and invention in a coner of the world. Technology advances by day, and new cell phones emerge with newer options by the minute. Automobiles are becoming faster and more attractive. TVs with wider screens and in strange curvatures are appearing. Universities are introducing new fields and musicians new styles of music. Some seek to discover the ancient recipes and others seek to create an edible material so that humans can taste a new flavor.
New sports are being introduced and the computer game companies pay a huge cost to make their characters’ movements more real-life and natural. The companies producing ammunitions and military equipment have kept up with this competition and by the passage of time they create new weapons and wish for a war in a coner of the world to create a market for their weapons with the politicians acting as a broker. The social movements have also developed during the time. It does not matter in whatever direction the changes happen. The fact that they are different and keep us busy is enough. Marriage, as a religious union intended to make couples committed to each other and to lead to the formation of family and society, is scoffed at by lustful desires. Some promote marriage with homosexuals and some attempt to introduce marriage with technology as the most enjoyable type of marriage by creating human dolls. At the same time, statistics show that the poor are becoming increasingly poorer and the hungry population is on the rise. New diseases appear and new narcotics are trapping the youth. The statistics related to suicide, murder and moral, political and financial corruption abound in daily papers. Racism is ruling with a new strength and…finally, human beings are becoming more desperate and depressed and weaker day by day, further depleting the beautiful human values. These are a slice of the contemplations we may find ourselves in during our solitude, an ordinary day at work, or at the peak of our problems.
“The goal is to create a new Islamic civilization, this is our final goal.” This statement was made by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution a few weeks ago. It can can be deemed as the most revered ideal and hope of the Islamic Revolution and its Leader; and also as the foundation for the development of essential strategies in the Islamic Revolution. If someone asks why the Islamic Revolution occurred and what ambitions have made it restless in a way that it cannot accept the left and right, classic, moden and postmoden ideas and thoughts, the answer lies in understanding these three words: the New Islamic Civilization.
This is not for today’s Iran and it is not like it has appeared only recently in the thoughts of its leaders. For example, more than thirty years ago in 1989 in a meeting with the African Muslim clergymen, Ayatollah Khamenei, referred to such an ideal. In that meeting, he stated: “In early years of Islam, the respected Prophet of Islam (pbuh) and his companions were able to establish a great historical civilization relying on God. They also were apparently a small group in comparison to the great enemies of their time, but faith in God gave them power enabling them to create such a great history for several centuries. Why can’t we?” This “Why can’t we?” means why can’t we create a new civilization? A new civilization that relieves humans from moden ignorance in a way that the Prophet of Islam, like other prophets, fought with ignorance and provided the ground for the transformation and growth of the human being afflicted with corruption.
But what is it that the New Islamic Civilization pursues? This question was raised because many say that any community seeks development and progress and, therefore, the statement and ambition of Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Revolution are similar to the motivations and developmental plans of other communities. This is exactly the point; if what he intended by “development” was the same that is raised today, he would definitely use the same term, but he talks about a New Civilization, which is different from and beyond development. In development, everything gains an optimal organization and is reinforced following the optimization of managerial and planning procedures; however, in a new civilization, which is inseparable from culture, the culture transforms and thereby human lives take a new color and rejuvenate.
The New Islamic Civilization intended by Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Revolution of Iran also pursues this evolution. The culture is developed and creates a new human being. The reason behind this view lies in the fact veiled and covered up by today’s hasty, deceptive and busy life, the kind of life some dimensions of which were referred to in the introductory paragraphs. Can we basically conceive of a different type of life for human being and the human society? This is the question raised by those who are preoccupied with today’s glamorous life and have no time left to read and think about and ponder upon human history.
History shows that human competition for material issues and possessions can be redirected at spreading love among humans. That is to say that human beings try to add something to others instead of trying to add something to themselves. Jesus Christ (pbuh) and some of his companions and the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) in his local govenment have previously demonstrated this in their lives.
Assume you and your neighbors have nothing to eat and as you are about to sleep with hunger at night, a sound in the alley wakes you up. You draw the curtains and see that many people from a neighborhood forty houses away from yours are coming to you with their dishes full of different types of food. Can this happen only in imagination? Or imagine you are a young man without money and good looks, but beautiful, rich, and honorable girls are willing to marry you. Is this also an imaginary story in folk tales and romances? Or imagine immigrant war-stricken people move to another city in another land and the hosting people compete for hosting them and each one tries to host a larger number of immigrants and provide welfare facilities to them. They even divide their possessions by half. Consider similar imaginary cases.
Interestingly, all these cases have been reported to have happened in history. The last case is related to Muhajerin (the Immigrants) and Ansaar (the Companions of the Prophet) in early years of Islam. Muhajerin, who were escaping from the oppression of the polytheists in Mecca had to immigrate to Medina, where the residents rushed to help them and allowed them into their own houses and shared their house with them. The story of marriage is also related to an event that originated from the Prophet’s cultural revolutions, if we may call it. The story of the neighbors refers to a tradition (hadith) from the Prophet (pbuh) that: “Up to 40 houses in all directions (front, back, left and right) are considered as neighbors.” With regard to the neighbor’s rights to be respected, the Prophet mentioned: “Among the rights one need to respect with regard to his/her neighbor is that if s/he becomes sick, you should go and visit him/her and, if s/he dies, you participate in his funeral; if s/he asked for money, you lend money to him/her; congratulate him/her on his/her happy events and offer condolences when s/he is grieved or mouning; you should not build a higher building than that of your neighbor to obstruct the flow of wind toward his/her house; when you buy fruits, you should give some to him/her as a gift and if you do not want to offer some, take it secretly into your house (so they will not notice) and you should not let your child take fruit out for eating to show it to the neighbor’s child and make him/her upset; you should not annoy your neighbor with the smell of your food unless you share it with him/her.”
These cases and many others, which are beyond the scope of this writing, indicate that we can live in a different way and gather citizens together and encourage them to make an attempt to achieve this purpose. We can redirect civilization and provide the ground for peace and happiness for all humans. The New Islamic Civilization emphasized by Ayatollah Khamenei seeks to create such an atmosphere. As implied by the hadith mentioned above, in this civilization, even houses and their architecture are built upon cultural principles. Animals also have special rights and those who provide support to them will deserve a special reward such that the Prophet referred to a prostitute as forgiven (by God) because she had watered a dog.
In the New Islamic Civilization, a woman is a woman and a man is a man; their talents and distinctions are not going to be ignored and no attempt is supposed to be made to make them identical to each other. The New Islamic Civilization, as emphasized by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, as against the Westen civilization today, does not want to challenge the world and others. In the New Civilization, human is never a slave to another person, or to objects and thoughts.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, at other points and with regard to the New Islamic Civilization and the attempts to be made for its emergence, has stated, “We should be striving for the new Islamic civilization- for the sake of humanity. This is dramatically different from what powers think about humanity and from how they act. This does not mean conquering lands. It does not mean violating the rights of nations. It does not mean imposing one’s beliefs and culture on other nations. Rather, it means offering a divine gift to nations so that they choose the right path of their own volition and with their own choices and decisions. The path that global powers have dragged nations towards is a wrong and deviant path. Today, this is our responsibility… The civilization that they presented to the world provided beautiful reflections of technology, speed, comfort and different amenities for the people, but it did not provide them with happiness and it did not administer justice. On the contrary, it struck justice on the head, it held some nations captive, it made some nations poor and it humiliated some other nations. Besides, it witnessed certain contradictions in itself. They became corrupt in terms of morality and they became hollow and empty-headed in terms of spirituality.”
The New Islamic Civilization, as pointed out by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, uses human achievements, “however, with an Islamic spirit and divine spirituality.” The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, however, points to an essential condition that has to be met before achieving the New Islamic Civilization, that is “imitating the West should be avoided in the first place.”