Lecture by Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani to Sunni scholars and teachers from Pakistan

23 May 2024



News Summary :
God’s primary goal of sending prophets was that they establish government
آخرین رویداد ها

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Welcome to you, the esteemed scholars, the intellectual, the cultural, literary, media, and religious figures of Pakistan who have come to Qom.

I begin with verses 13-15 from Surah Ash-Shura (The Consultation):

"He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus - to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]. And they did not become divided until after knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. And if not for a word that preceded from your Lord [postponing the penalty] until a specified time, it would have been concluded between them. And indeed, those who were granted inheritance of the Scripture after them are, concerning it, in disquieting doubt. So to that [religion of Allah] invite, [O Muhammad], and remain on a right course as you are commanded and do not follow their inclinations but say, "I have believed in what Allah has revealed of the Qur'an, and I have been commanded to do justice among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us are our deeds, and for you your deeds. There is no [need for] argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is the [final] destination."

In my opinion, all Sunni and Shia scholars, and even scholars of other divine religions like the Jews and Christians, should consider these verses as a common foundation for all religions.

Allah says, what we “enjoined upon Noah” and “which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad]” and “what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus” are two things, namely "to establish the religion and not be divided therein." We need to reflect a lot on these two aspects. What is meant by establishing the religion and avoiding divisions in it?

It is clear that "establishment of religion" comprises of two things. In other words, we have two different things: religion and establishment of religion. God emphasizes that the religion sent through the prophets to humanity should not only be conveyed to them, rather, the duty of the prophets is to establish and implement the religion.

So, "establishment of religion" is the duty of all prophets and, consequently, the duty of all religious scholars.

The second question is, what is religion? Is religion confined only to an individual’s personal acts, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage? Or does it encompass all individual and social rules?

In the Holy Quran, there are numerous verses about social obligations that pertain to the entire Muslim community.

The most important social concern of religion is governance. The Quran in Surah Al-Ma'idah states, "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies." (5:51) What does this verse mean? It means that the leader of Muslims should not be an unbeliever, a Jew, or a Christian! "And whoever takes them as allies is of them." This is a very stern warning since it says that if a Muslim accepts the rule of a non-Muslim, he is also considered as a disbeliever.

A question arises here, “If disbelievers cannot be our leaders, who can be our leader?”

In the verse of Wilayah, which is exclusive, the Quran says, "Your ally is none but Allah and [therefore] His Messenger and those who have believed – those who establish prayer and give zakah while they bow [in worship]." (5:55) A Muslim must be under the authority of God and the authority of whom designated by God, namely the Prophet and those who meet the conditions mentioned in the verse.

These verses are very remarkable! They are some of the verses on social issues in Islam that state that Muslims, whether they are Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Afghans, Saudis etc., must be under the rule of God. Another verse states, "Allah is the Guardian," (42:9) which means that only God can be the ruler or he who is designated by God. Unfortunately, many Muslims today are unaware of this fundamental law of the Quran.

In another verse, the Quran says, "Whoever takes for his guardians Allah, His Apostle and the faithful [should know that] the confederates of Allah are indeed the victorious.,” (5:56) It means that Muslims who come under the rule of religion are the party of God and they will be victorious.

You, respected audience, who came to Iran during these days of the Islamic Revolution's victory, should know that Imam Khomeini (may God's blessings be upon him) established the Islamic government in Iran based on these very verses. The divine command for Muslims is that they should live under the banner of Islam and to be governed by the laws of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his family).

The second social law which can be derived from the Quranic verses on governance is that non-Muslims should not have dominance over the lives and property of Muslims, “and never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way [to overcome them]." (4:141)

The third law is that Muslims should have superiority as the Quran says, “So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.” (3:139) This verse means that it is God’s will that Muslims should always have the upper hand in terms of military power, economy, science, culture, politics, and so on and so forth, just as He has willed that they should be the dearest and most respectable of people, " And to Allah belongs [all] honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers " (63:8)

Imam Khomeini’s goal was that all Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni, Iranian or non-Iranian, man or woman, should live a respectable life so much so that no oppressor or disbeliever could subjugate them or plunder their property.

The infallible Imams (peace be upon them) used to tell their followers to go to the Sunni mosques, participate in their congregational prayers, and attend their funeral processions. They advised them to visit the sick among them and, in general, treat the Sunnis like brothers.

Unfortunately, some misunderstood this and said this is hypocrisy while it is a Quranic instruction not an act of hypocrisy. When the Quran states, "The believers are but brothers," (49:10) it means that anyone who believes in Allah and His Messenger should be treated as a brother. All these principles should be implemented in the Islamic society. It was the plot of Satan to create so much division among Muslims.

The very verse which says, "Establish the religion," (42:13) indicates that all divine messengers and religious scholars should establish the religion. That is, they should primarily focus on the independence, dignity, and security of Muslims, all Muslims worldwide, not just the people of their own city. If a scholar cares only about the people of his own city, this is not in accordance with the spirit of the Quran. "Establish the religion" means governance of God; it means the rule of religion.

At the end of the verse, God calls the believers' attention to a point, "Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them." The question is, is it difficult for the polytheists that we say "There is no god but Allah" or that we perform prayers or observe fast? No, what is difficult for the them is that we call all to acceptance of religious governance, and that the power should be given to divine religion, and that everyone should accept the authority of God and whom He has appointed.

The primary purpose of sending prophets, therefore, was to establish divine governance. Imam Khomeini (may God's mercy be upon him) had a unique expression that I have not seen in the works of any other Shia or Sunni scholar. He said, "Al-Islam huwa al-Hukuma [Islam is governance]," which means that God sent Islam so that divine governance is established and the Prophet and his true successors rule over the people. This has been the ultimate goal, but unfortunately, both Shia and Sunni Muslims seem to have been oblivious to it.

After 43 years have passed and since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, we are proud that Islam and the Quran rule over this country. How stronger has Iran become today as a result of the Revolution and as a result of the rule of Islam!

Today, the animosity that our enemies, such as the United States, Israel, and European countries bear towards us is just because there is an Islamic government in Iran. This is the very fact to which the Quran refers, "Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them." (Quran, 42:15). In our era, it is difficult for America and Israel to see that Islam is ruling over a part of the Earth.

After mentioning that the duty of all the prophets was to establish religion, verse 15 of Surah Ash-Shura says, "So invite [people] to that [faith] and remain steadfast as you are commanded, and do not follow their inclinations but say, 'I have believed in what Allah has revealed of the Quran, and I have been commanded to do justice among you.'" (Quran, 42:15) This verse tells the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) to invite people to establish religion and advises him to remain steadfast in his mission. The fact that God advises His Prophet to be steadfast is because establishing religion among people is a challenging task. Otherwise, inviting people to offer prayers, observe fast, and perform Hajj do not require the same level of steadfastness. When it comes to giving governance to God not to the disbelievers and the polytheists, steadfastness is needed, and that is why God says, "So remain steadfast as you have been commanded."

In our age, it is necessary for Shia and Sunni scholars to restudy the Quran to see what its fundamental directives for safeguarding Islam are. We have a duty to derive these principles from the Quran and present them to the Muslims. Unity and connection between Muslims should be achieved in the shadow of a sound understanding of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet and his successors. Over the course of 1400 years passed from the advent of Islam, the issue of Islamic governance had almost been forgotten among Muslims. Imam Khomeini revived this principle and brought this issue to the forefront. Many people sacrificed their lives for this cause, and ultimately the religious government was established, thanks be to God.

I hope that during your visit to Iran, God grants you success both intellectually and in terms of building relationships with the people, scholars, and officials. Insha'Allah, with cooperation among scholars of different Islamic schools of thought and their unity, the dignity and prominence of Muslims will increase. The enemy today seeks success through creating divisions among Muslims and among their scholars and attempts to take the Quran away from all of us. I hope the enemies do not succeed in their sinister goals.

Questions from some participants and the responses of Ayatollah Fazl Lankarani

Question: After the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), Muslims paid attention to establishment of religion and established a government. During the time of the first Caliph, the second Caliph, and the third Caliph, no significant problems arose. During the time of the fourth Caliph, some difficulties occurred, but after that, the establishment of religion became shaky. The leadership was taken out of our hands, and others took over the government. We were completely marginalized until Imam Khomeini (peace be upon him) eventually came and called for the establishment of religion. Now that religion has been established in Iran, and the Islamic government has been founded, is there hope for the establishment of religion in the rest of the world, and what is our duty in this regard?

Answer: You mentioned a very good point. We, the Shia, believe that Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance) is the living proof of God, though some Sunnis say that he has not been born yet. We believe that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) established the government based on the Imamate system, and Imamate will remain as the foundation of governance until the Day of Judgment. There are no problems in this regard. In this day and age, we have qualified jurists like Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamenei, who, after meeting tough conditions, are responsible for ruling the community, as is stated in our jurisprudence.

In fact, one of the discussions that we should have with you, Sunni scholars, is the question you raised: What plan do the Sunnis have for Islamic governance?

We believe, as you know, that the Quran has addressed the issue of governance, and the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) explicitly announced the issue of governance until the Day of Judgment on the day of Ghadir. So, it is not a theoretical puzzle for us, and our answer is ready. But we ask the Sunnis: What solution do you have for governance in this era?

Question: In countries like Pakistan, where the governing system is considered to be a republic and democracy, and even some of our scholars have affiliations with various political groups, it seems that religious practice can never be established independently. Can we practically establish the religion independently? Can you suggest a solution?

Answer: According to the laws of jurisprudence in both Shia and Sunni schools, "Al-Maysur (the possible) is not abandoned due to Al-Ma'sur (the impossible)." It's true that currently, in countries like Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan religion is not fully established like Iran. However, everyone should strive to the best of their ability for this cause. At the very least, we should convey the truths of the Quran to the people and pass these teachings on to future generations and see what the future holds, "perhaps Allah will bring about after that a [different] matter." (Quran 65:1)

Question: Obedience to the Amir (ruler) is obligatory. Should we obey the rulers who are in power in other countries?

Answer: We say that "those in authority" who are mentioned in the Quran and obedience to whom is obligatory, must be infallible (ma'sum). Even Fakhr al-Razi, one of the greatest Sunni scholars, says that since obedience to this group has been mentioned alongside obedience to Allah and His Messenger, therefore they must be infallible, because Allah and the Messenger are infallible and do not make mistakes. Based on this, not every person can be among "those in authority." Someone who is greedy and does not care for people's lives, property, and blood cannot be among them.

"Those in authority" must be knowledgeable about religion and be experts in it. They must have sound and comprehensive knowledge of the Quran and of the sayings of the Messenger. Now, which one of the heads of Islamic countries is capable of interpreting just one verse from the Quran?

Question: According to the hadith that states, "One who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time dies the death of ignorance." How can one recognize the Imam of the time?

Answer: The recognition of the Imam of the time is based on the same principles and criteria that the Prophet himself has stated. The Imam must be knowledgeable in all aspects of religion, including laws, beliefs, ethics, and so on and so forth. He should have the capability to promote justice among the Muslims without committing any error or sin even a minor one.

The Shias believe that Imamate was explicitly announced by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) on the day of Ghadir, following a divine command from Allah, and the plan for the governance of Islam until the Day of Judgment has been explained. The Imam of time at every era is not more than one person.

Question: What are the criteria for recognizing the Imam of the time? How can we verify who the Imam is?

Answer: First and foremost, the Imams of the time (peace be upon them) were described by the Prophet in the hadith of Ghadir with their names. He said, "The Imams after me are twelve." The words of these Imams are existent. For example, around 40,000 hadiths have been narrated just from Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him). It is unheard of that someone asked Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) a question and he did not know the answer. Instead, he would provide an immediate response, whether it was related to jurisprudence, beliefs, or even physics or chemistry. Interestingly, if someone asked, "Where is the Quranic proof for your answer?" he would specify the Quranic verse as well.

Peace and blessings be upon you

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Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani Shia Sunni Establishing the religion Ruling System in Shia Ruling System Among Sunnis Protecting Islam Unity of Muslims