The Principles of the Islamic-Iranian Model of Progress

The Principles of the Islamic-Iranian Model of Progress

Ahmad Ahmadi 

Professor at Tehran University


I take refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.

“So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know” (Ar-Rum (The Romans), verse 30).

“And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware” (Al-A’raf (The Heights), verse 172).

Allameh Tabataba’i in his “Tafsir al-Mizan” (al-Mizan exegesis), Motahhari in his “Fetrat”, and Imam Khomeini in all his works have addressed the subject of fitra (human nature) and innateness of religion. Even in rulings, conducts, and prayers, inclination towards God is considered natural and innate.

In the 5th volume of his book entitled The Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism, Motahhari deems this inclination to be one of the reasons to prove the existence of God. It means that there is an inclination to an exalted origin in human nature, and if this inclination is present in human nature (whoever he may be), he will be a theist. For example, Gandhi read some of the Vedas, some of the Quran, some of the Torah, and some of the Bible every morning. The Upanishads are a grand book wherein some of its parts, the exact contents of Al-Ikhlassurah (The Purity of Faith) are seen and it then states that there is a reality. It is also stated in the history of discovery of America that when Christopher Columbus and his friends quarreled with the native people there, those people would turn to the sky when they were in trouble and sought assistance from God. Therefore, if there is human, there is fitra (human nature); and if there is a fitra, then there is definitely an inclination towards God.

Descartes has a significant discussion in which he considers 7 to 10 ideas which originate from human nature; that is, he deems them to be concepts and mental images, but idea is different from inclination. As Mowlana states, inclination is “like the inclination of babes towards their mothers: it (the babe) does not know the secret of its desire for suckling” (Mowlana (Rumi), Masnavi, book 4, part 135); it means that human knows that he is demanding something but has no conception of it; because a concept is generally some acquirable knowledge. That is, there should be something first, of which human mind and body will take images. But this will be a concept. It was mentioned that man’s tendency to God is an inclination, not a concept, meaning that without an idea and image, he will unconsciously show some reactions. For instance, when a baby is born, it will take its mother’s breast and suckle milk. The baby has no image of suckling and has not experienced it before. Therefore, human is naturally God-seeking. Moreover, Imam Khomeini asserts in the interpretation of Al-Fatiha surah (The Opener) that everything is God’s Name. Everything is a Sign; “by Thy Names, which have filled the foundations of all things” (Dua (Supplications of) Kumayl, part 7); Name is not a term, it is a reality. In fact, it is the Names and Attributes of the True Essence which have been manifested in this world, and if everything is God’s Names, this inclination is an inclination towards God’s Names and Essence. Like Descartes, many believe that there is a concept named God, which is within the human from the very moment he is born. Descartes brings the example of people in whose family gout is a hereditary disease. This disease has no manifestations in those people up to a certain age, but it will surface as they age. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that a newborn baby in this family develops gout, but it has the underlying factors. The concept of God follows the same pattern. Descartes talks of the ‘idea’ but Motahhari and Mowlana call it inclination of which there are no mental images taken. “Like the inclination of babes towards their mothers: it (the babe) does not know the secret of its desire for suckling.”

The other subject is the noble verse of “and [mention] when your Lord took from (the children of Adam) – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware”” (Al-A’raf (The Heights), verse 172). The verse clarifies that an offspring is taken from the essence and loins of the human - whether a man or a woman- (which is not, of course, a materialistic taking) and there is a witness to God’s Lordship in the essence of these people.

It is stated in some narratives that God took the descendants from the back of Adam and they were like ants; but Allameh Tabataba’i and other interpreters argue that the verse addresses the sons of Adam and not Adam. Everyone has confessed this, and this is a different subject. According to this verse and the verse on fitra, there is an inclination towards God in human’s essence and this does not belong to any specific person. For example, in the second part of his book, the Dialectic, Descartes criticizes the reasons for proving the existence of God, he proves God through practical wisdom, and says that he himself had never lived without God. “And they rejected them, while their [inner] selves were convinced thereof” (An-Naml (The Ant), verse 14). This certainty exists even in the nature of a philosopher who spent many years writing The Dialectic and criticized those reasons. Wittgenstein also states that he is not a common religious person, but he believes in God.

Human nature is God-seeking. If the nature is as such, then there is always the inclination towards God in human essence till the end of humanity. For example, someone like Einstein would also say that there are voices in the universe that they as physicists did not perceive but the prophets would perceive. It shows that pioneers in theoretical physics also believe in God. Even Heisenberg, who denied causality, assumed a mystic mood in the last years of his life. If this fitra and nature exist in the essence and the creation of all humans, then religion always exists. As late Mulla Sadra said, this Substantial Motion that exists in the matter, needs a bearing; that essence is always alive and as long as human exists, he believes in God and he has a religion.

It is quoted that Lenin delivered a historical speech in a hall in Moscow, where he said that, “religion – the opium of the people – is eliminated from the world”; but during the same years, a large conference was held in the same hall where it was said that, “religion still exists”. Most Russian people are religious. Yeltsin said that, “I would be embarrassed if I met an atheist person somewhere I would go”. In Russia, people’s participation in ritual acts and churches is outstanding. Religiosity is still alive in a country where atheism was promoted for seventy years.

The other topic is about human himself. Human has some features, demands, and essence which testify to firta and “Am I not your Lord? (Al-A’raf (The Heights), verse 172)”. The other thing in human essence is that human always loves kindness and hates hurting people. Imam Ali (A.S) says to his son, Imam Hassan (A.S.), that “O my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself” (Najul Balagha, letter 31). Following suit, the great poet Saadi has also mentioned this principle in the last line of his Ghazal No. 23 where he literally states that the world is not worth breaking people’s hearts. The principles in the verses of “verily we have honored the Children of Adam” (Al-Isra, verse 70) and “speak fair to the people” (Al-Baqarah (The Cow), verse 83) as well as kindness shall be established in the Islamic model.“Speak fair to the people” not only to Muslims; the verse says that one shall also speak fair to an atheist and observe good manners. “And is religion other than love?”(Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 27, pp. 94 and 95),“religion is nothing but Love, and love is religion”. Thus, man loves kindness innately and hates annoying or being annoyed. Allameh Tabatabaei had eradicated rage within himself, and it was one of his prominent features. Therefore, the basis of an Islamic-Iranian model of progress should be founded upon these perspectives. Sheikh Abulhassan Kharaghani had written on the door of his khangah (building for gatherings of Sufis), "Anyone who comes to this house, give him food and do not ask about his faith. Because, as he merits a life next to the exalted God, no doubt he deserves a meal on my table". It was also due to Mir Seyyed Ali Hamedani’s kindness that hundreds of thousands in India, particularly in Kashmir and North India, converted to Islam. He never received anything from anyone. Seven hundred devotees accompanied him who had ordered to make a living by knitting scarves and making handicrafts and help others as well. His kindness created a multitude of Muslims and Shias in Kashmir. Therefore, the other principle that should be considered and should echo all over this Islamic model is human; the honored human – atheist or theist. Salafis’ approach, in which they kill humans to establish religion, does not conform to any logic. Islam is the religion of peace. In Ali’ Imran (The Family of Imran), verse 113, the holy Quran says, “Among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer]”. There is a narration stating that Hatam Ta’i,accused of atheism, was taken to the stakes, but due to his generosity, the fire did not burn him. Hence, attention to human is another principle; one who is honored by God shall be respected by all. It illustrates that man should be viewed from a different perspective. All creatures should be considered Divine Names.

There is another principle that, “to Allah We belong, and to Him is our return” (Al-Baqarah (The Cow), verse 156) which forms the foundation of the holy Quran, prophets’ invitations, and essentially the basis of Creation. Religion is the gist of prophethood and the mission of the prophets. This principle perfectly conforms to human nature and his honorability. Indeed, humans should oblige to the Divine rules in all their conducts, and they will not reach any destinations if they do not follow the Divine rules. Ibn Arabi in his al-Futuhar al-Makkiyya and Adb al-Wahab al-Sha’rani in his al-Yawaqit wa al-Jawahir (the book of rubies and jewels) state that any intuition for the mystic is evil if it is anything other than surrendering to Sharia (rules of religion). As these scholars were also aware of this principle, people shall obey the religious rulings, but view creatures from a fresh perspective.