Imam Khomeini highlighted significance of ethics

Imam Khomeini highlighted significance of ethics

Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic attached a great significance to ethical values.

It is noteworthy that in the heart of Imam Khomeini way of thinking, ethics has a [special] place, and in fact, all areas of knowledge revolve around this pivot. According to his view, by citing a hadith (Prophetic tradition) from the Messenger of God , all kinds of knowledge can be placed in three general categories. It is because the human being possesses three existential presences and three types of world: one, external and sensory; another, the allegorical world; the third, the intellectual one.

This ethics is, indeed, a sort of theoretical and practical anthropology. It is awareness of fixed principles and their application. It is owing to this that this knowledge can be considered as the noblest one and the focal point of the prophets summons.

The Messenger of God’s sayings were a manifestation of such kind of ethics which he made known as the purpose of his mission. In this sense, man can be needless of many types of knowledge; yet, he cannot consider himself needless of ethics since this knowledge is the capital asset of felicities in both worlds:   The purpose and result of the summons of the Seal of the Prophets is the perfection of morality. In the noble traditions, both that are brief and those which are elaborate, moral excellences have been given more importance than anything else after doctrinal teachings… And their importance is greater than what we are capable of explaining adequately, but that which we know for certain is that the asset of the everlasting life of the hereafter and the capital asset of the life of that abode is the acquisition of noble dispositions and the possession of moral excellences.

 Ethics, with this peculiar status, has always had Imam Khomeini attention. From the very beginning when he was a regular teacher up to the time when he was in the midst of the political arena, led the people’s uprising, and established the Islamic Republic, he always paid particular attention to morality, and viewed almost all socio-political issues from the moral perspective. His recommendations and political messages to the officials and the people speak for this, and these [recommendations] can be treated, apart from the occasion of their issuance, as profound moral lessons from which we can learn.

However, from his point of view morality cannot be restricted to some recommendations and decrees. Rather, it is anchored in profound philosophical, theosophical and anthropological principles and precepts. His view on morality is a philosophical one. It is in this sense that he keenly scrutinizes moral vices and virtues, discusses them wisely, and enumerates the benefits and harms of this and that item. In fact, he has a remarkably profound belief in religious morality and uncovers vices and virtues from the heart of the narrations [ahadiths] from the Infallibles; nevertheless, he does not content himself with the tradition of quoting, but perfectly utilizes intellect in analyzing these narrations  and in elucidating moral concepts.

This mode of striking a balance between the intellect [‘aql] and narration [naql], which has been acceptable to the great Shi’ah scholars, is very manifest and conspicuous in the moral discourses of the Imam. Anyone who assiduously scrutinizes the ethical and Gnostic works of the Imam can deduce his system of ethics.

The truth of the matter is that he has based his code of ethics and mystical-moral understandings on theoretical principles, which he does not specify so much. In the same manner that he juxtaposes the fragments of a riddle with one another, so also the researcher must carefully find these principles and place them together. In doing so, he could present the Imam’s code of ethics, which is rooted in a long-standing tradition and founded on the great Gnostic and ethical heritage of the Muslim mystics and teachers of ethics.

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Revolution depends upon spirituality and God: Imam Khomeini


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