Ayatollah Khamenei Calls on Shias to Introduce Imams to World

10:06 - May 13, 2024
News ID: 3488314
IQNA – The Leader of the Islamic Revolution called on Shia Muslims to spread awareness about Shia Imams and their teachings in the world.


“In my opinion, one of our greatest responsibilities as Shia and as members of the Shia community is to introduce our Imams to the world,” Ayatollah seyyed Ali Khamenei said while addressing a meeting with the scholars overseeing the Fifth Global Conference of Imam Reza (AS) on May 8, 2024.

What follows is the full text of his remarks:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Firstly, it is truly commendable to hold such a conference and gathering within the Shia community as it is important for us to deepen our understanding of the Imams for us before sharing their teachings with others. Sometimes we focus excessively on one aspect without having a strong reason for doing so, and other aspects are ignored. At times, we may not even pay attention to that aspect and be content with the appearance of matters alone. In my opinion, one of our greatest responsibilities as Shia and as members of the Shia community is to introduce our Imams to the world.

Now some of the Imams (pbut), such as Imam Hussain (pbuh) and the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh), are well-known for certain reasons. Others have written and spoken about them, and they are known by many including those outside of the Shia and Muslim communities. However, most of the Imams (pbut) remain largely unknown. For instance, Imam Hassan Mujtaba, despite his greatness, has not received the recognition he deserves. Similarly, Imam Musa Kazim, Imam Hadi, and Imam Ja’far Sadiq are yet to be known in the world despite all their great establishments and extraordinary efforts.

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When these personages are discussed by the non-Shia, which naturally takes on a non-sectarian outlook when discussed by the non-Shia, their discussions are very brief and limited. For example, in a book written by an author who is a mystic, Imam Sadiq (pbuh) may be briefly referred to as being a mystic in just half a page or even less. This is the extent of the discussion. It is no more than that.

In my opinion, three dimensions of the lives of the Imams (pbut) should be studied. One of those dimensions is spirituality or the holiness of the Imams (pbut). This is a dimension that cannot be ignored and it must be discussed. However, it must be a strong discussion. Sometimes some things are said, and weak narrations are brought to support those words. We must discuss the celestial aspect of the Imams (pbut), their spiritual, heavenly aspect. These are not things we should conceal. We must speak about the spiritual, heavenly aspects of the Imams (pbut).

Similar to the matter of the infallibility of the Prophet (pbuh), their [Imams] communication with Almighty God and the angels, and also their Guardianship with its spiritual meaning, these aspects need to be worked on using a strong, reliable scholarly approach.

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The second aspect we must consider is their words and teachings in various fields, which you gentlemen have also mentioned. This includes issues related to life and various matters that human beings need, such as ethics, social interactions, religion, and religious rulings. Our Imams have discussed these matters, and their words form a comprehensive school of thought. This should be spoken of. Some of these aspects that we may overlook at times have great significance in the world. Consider the issue of animal rights, for instance. There are so many narrations from our Imams regarding the issue of protecting and caring for animals and animal rights.

If these are introduced to the world and if the world learns about these, this will have an important effect. Who amongst us thinks about this and pursues this matter? Topics regarding social interactions and communicating with the non-Shia and non-Muslims are all covered in our hadiths, and in accordance with the Holy Quran. [For example,] “Allah does not forbid you in regard to those who did not make war against you on account of religion … from dealing with kindness and justice with those [polytheists] …” (Quran, 60:8). We have discussed this repeatedly before. This topic should be expressed and conveyed through the words of the Imams.

We have so many books. Bihar al-Anwar alone is made up of about 100 volumes. There are many other such books as well, but they are all in a specific area. I read this poem a few days ago:

You may be fine wine, but what is the point

If you are not poured into a wine glass?

Fine wine needs to be poured into a glass in order to be used, but instead it has remained trapped in the jar. Similarly, the valuable lessons on life from the Imams are like fine wine closed up in a jar with a cork. In the same way that jars of wine were once sealed with corks, we are keeping these teachings locked away. But this should not be the case. This wisdom needs to be shared with the world using modern language and appropriate techniques.

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Today, communicating with the world has become easy. With just the press of a button and by spending just ten minutes, the most distant points in the world - such as Australia, Canada, America, or wherever you want - they hear what you have to say. This is very important. This method should be used, but the language you use to express yourself is also important. This is the second aspect that should be taken into consideration for introducing the Imams.

The third issue is politics. This is what I mainly looked into and researched in the lives of the Imams during my years of research. What did the Imams do and what did they want to achieve? Politics is a very important aspect. What were the political activities of the Imams? Would an Imam, with all of his greatness and divine rank, be content with simply explaining Islamic rulings and teaching ethics? Upon reflection, this seems inconceivable and illogical. The Imams had great goals.

Their main goal was to establish an Islamic society, and that is impossible without establishing an Islamic state. Thus, they pursued the establishment of an Islamic state, which is one of the important aspects of Imamate. Imamate refers to the leadership of religion and the world, the leadership of matter and meanings. Matter refers to the politics and governance of a country, or the governance of a state. All the Imams pursued this without any exception. However, they had different methods and short-term goals at different periods in time even though their long-term goal was the same.

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I will share a few words with you regarding Imam Reza (pbuh) a bit later on. Now, imagine during Imam Sadiq’s (pbuh) time, people would go to him and ask him why he wasn’t rising up [to take over the Caliphate]. We have many narrations, which relate that he was asked this. The Imam would respond appropriately to each person with a certain explanation. The reason for so many questions about an uprising was that the Imam was expected to lead an uprising. This belief was commonplace and considered to be a definite fact among the Shia community

When people objected to Imam Hassan Mujtaba (pbuh) by saying, “Why did you make peace,” one of the answers he often repeated was, “I do not know. Maybe it is a trial for you and an enjoyment for a time” (Quran 21:111). There is a time for this. There is a beginning and an end. What do you know?” This means that this [an uprising] has been promised. This promise has been defined in a narration from Imam in which he said, “Indeed, Allah had set for this to happen in the year 70 AH.” Imam Hassan said this in the year 40 or 41 AH, but the uprising and establishment of an Islamic state was set to take place in the year 70 AH.

It was destined by God for this to happen. Then, it was related that, “When Hussain (pbuh) was martyred, God’s wrath became severe toward the people of the earth and it was delayed.” When Imam Hussain was martyred in Muharram in the year 61 AH, this event was postponed. It was originally supposed to take place in the year 70 AH, but the martyrdom of the Master of the Martyrs and external factors led to its delay.

Now, in this hadith it was said, “God’s wrath became severe toward the people of the earth,” but we know that this intensification of His wrath and the consequences can be attributed to the same external factors or ordinary factors. The ordinary factors are that which has been mentioned in yet another hadith, which states, “People became unbelievers after Imam Hussain [was martyred] except for three.” They became unbelievers not in the sense that they renounced religion. This meant that the Shia hesitated on the path that they were pursuing. In other words, [they were thinking,] “How is it possible to continue like this?” There were only three people - Yahya ibn Um Tawil, and one other person. There were only these three people left. Imam Sadiq stated, “Then the people joined and multiplied.” Imam Sajjad and Imam Baqir (pbut) worked hard for 30 years for this to be the result.

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And then in the same hadith that I was reading, Almighty God “delayed” that governance “to the year 140.” It was supposed to take place in the year 70 AH, but Almighty God delayed it to the year 140 AH. 140 AH was during Imam Sadiq’s lifetime. He passed away in the year 148 AH.

This was stated and repeated among some of the special Shia. Then of course, he [Imam Sadiq (pbuh)] spoke of the reason for this delay later on in the same hadith. Therefore, you see that Zurarah – this is a narration – Zurarah, who was one of the closest companions residing in Kufa, wrote a letter to Imam Sadiq (pbuh). He said, “One of our friends from among the people, from among the Shia, has a problem about being in debt here, and the government wants to arrest him due to his heavy debt. He has fled. He has been away from his wife and child for some time now. He has fled and is wandering around in order to avoid being arrested.

Now, my question to you is the following. If “this issue,” that is, the issue of governance – which has been repeated in narrations on numerous occasions – if this matter was supposed to take place in just one or two years, you would take office and this issue would be solved. But if it is not going to take place in one or two years, let’s gather together with our friends, collect money, and help this poor person pay off his debt so he can go back home.

This was what Zurarah was asking. It’s not a joke. Why did Zurarah believe that such a thing would take place within a year or two? There is another hadith in which Zurarah said, “I swear to God, I don’t see anyone on these a’wad except Ja’far.” “A’wad” means pulpits. He was referring to the pillars of a pulpit. He was saying, “I don’t see anyone but Ja’far on the pillars of the pulpit.” In other words, he was certain that Imam Ja’far Sadiq (pbuh) would sit on the pulpit and assume governance. So this is the way it was.

And then [the Quran says], “Allah effaces and confirms whatever He wishes and with Him is the Mother Book” (Quran 13:39). This is the divine decree, not the divine judgment. Yes, this [Imam Ja’far Sadiq (pbuh) assuming governance] wasn’t the divine judgement, that which is predestined, determined, and fixed, and it was due to certain factors and reasons.

So, this is what the Imams were pursuing. This is a very important issue. Now, consider what Imam Reza’s (pbuh) role was in this regard. Now, I don’t recall the contents of the speech you were referring to. Before that during the first year, I sent a message to Mashhad in which I analyzed the subject of Imam Reza accepting to be the successor [after Ma’mun]. I explained that this was in fact a battle between the clever, sneaky Ma’mun and Imam Reza (pbuh).

Ma’mun invited Imam Reza to Khorasan and initially offered him the caliphate. There was no talk of succession initially. He said, “I’ll hand over the caliphate to you.” [But] Imam Reza rejected his offer. Ma’mun insisted and said, “If you’re not going to accept that, then be my successor.” Why did Ma’mun say such a thing? I listed four or five reasons and objectives that Ma’mun had in mind. Imam Reza (pbuh) ultimately agreed [to be Ma’mun’s successor]. I also mentioned five or six reasons why Imam Reza chose to accept this offer and what the benefits of accepting this were.

A major movement, that is, an extraordinary non-military battle or a political battle, unfolded between Imam Reza (pbuh) and Ma'mun whereby Imam Reza crushed Ma'mun in this battle. That is, he crushed Ma'mun with his action to such an extent that Ma'mun felt he was forced to kill Imam Reza (pbuh). But that’s not how it was at first. He respected him, he prayed, and he did these kinds of things.

Now in that analysis, I explained why Ma’mun was doing these things and what goals he had in mind. Back then, I had the energy to do these things, much like the energy that, praise God, you, young people have. I have become completely distanced from these things [scholarly researching] now.

So these three sections in the life of Imam Reza (pbuh) and the rest of the Imams need to be explained. Your job is to first extract these three sections. Then you need to ensure that any exaggerations or unjustified claims are filtered out of our words. Finally, this third point is the most important of all, you need to use appropriate language, a modern-day language that is understandable to a non-Shia and even to a Shia audience. Now, the separation of some of our youth from these teachings isn’t less than that of the non-Shia and the non-Muslims. They are uninformed. Explain these to them. I believe that if this is done, this [conference] will no longer be a mere gathering with speeches and such things. It will have a tangible benefit.

May God’s greetings, mercy, and blessings be upon you.