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Book review

"Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms" by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei

Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms is a book on the political life and campaigns of Shia Imams, and it is compiled of a series of impassioned speeches by Sayyid Ali Khamenei in February 1973. This was when he was not a political figure in Iran and his numerous and often young audience used to call him "Master Khamenei." This book contains ten speeches on subjects including the issue of Imamate, the purpose and philosophy of Imamate, the importance of knowing the Imams, analysis of the lives of Imams in different eras and other related issues on the subject of Imamate. In these speeches, Ayatollah Khamenei raises a number of political issues of Islam and analyzes the political life and campaigns of Shia Imams. The special feature of Ayatollah Khamenei"s words in those days and in these speeches was that both ordinary and sometimes illiterate people who were his audience benefited from them, and academic figures could also have their own share. In addition to the said quality, another noteworthy quality of Ayatollah Khamenei’s approach to these issues is his keen, practical and insightful viewpoint that first encourages the audience to seriously challenge their common beliefs and at the same invites them to move from the context of intellectual laziness and inefficiencies to life-giving beliefs and intellectual vigor. Another feature of the author"s words is correction of inefficient beliefs by redefining some concepts and presenting a dynamic image of religion (of course within the framework and principles of Islam) on the subject of society while having a harmonious and systematic view of issues. However, despite all these features, the then young Khamenei, in this book and other speeches and writings, does not consider his words as the endpoint for the audience"s understanding and knowledge and considers the introduction of these topics as a step for deeper contemplation and research. A scholarly and research-oriented view that is the missing part of many academic and public spheres.

In Hussein"s (a.s.) Brothers in Arms, Sayyid Ali Khamenei raises this question: basically, why do nations and societies need a hero? And what would happen if a nation does not have a hero? Why do some countries, despite not having a real hero in their history to be exemplied for their people, attempt to create imaginary mythical heroes for them by spending a lot of money for making films, etc.? Referring to a number of countries around the world which have had real heroes in fighting against ignorance, colonialism, etc., he argues that the existence of a real hero gives identity, spirit and self-confidence to the people of a society. As Ayatollah Khamenei states, "One of the most important and effective elements in creating a strong sense of self and independence in the nations of the world and in the people living in this world is picturing the proud history of that nation as well as the brilliant and leading figures of it for people." (Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms; Second Chapter)

According to Ayatollah Khamenei, anti-heroes are contrary to heroes. They find heroes interfering with their extravagance and anti-human and illegitimate acts, so in a series of destructive and irresponsible actions, they engage in enmity with people and their heroes. The enemies of nations pursue this goal by two methods: first, they create restrictions and, by applying force, pressure, etc., try to dissuade people from honoring and following their heroes. Second, they try to distort and alter the function of heroes of nations by distorting the bright and inspiring identities of heroes.

The main point of the author in Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms is that the twelve Imams named by the Prophet of Islam are the heroes and great role models for the Islamic Ummah. Therefore, first, reverence for them gives Muslims identity and self-confidence, and second, they are models for human beings in various dimensions of personal, social, and political life. These great heroes were engaged in a constant and immense political campaigns against the enemies of humanity, peace and justice, and as a consequence they were never safe from conspiracies by their anti-heroes and enemies; Enemies who made every effort to eliminate or distort the fighting, justice- and peace-seeking image of Imams.

A question is embedded in discussions about the Imams of Muslims: is it possible to follow 12 great heroes and make them leaders at the same time without any conflict? Will we not encounter contradictory lifestyles? Will the differences in the methods of living by Imams cause divisions, disagreements and dissension among human beings? And will not human beings be confused and deviated in the course of learning from them? For example, how can one learn, follow and make hero from both Imam Hassan (a.s.), who made peace with his enemy, and Imam Hussain (a.s.), who was martyred in the field of armed conflict against the enemy? Could those Imams after Imam Hussain (a.s.), who did not attend any armed conflict against their enemies and each had a unique way of life, all be considered with Imam Hussain (a.s.) as the same-rank heroes of a nation? In response to this question, Ayatollah Khamenei considers the Imams of Islam (whose lives span was 250 years altogether) as a 250-year-old human being who all had one main goal in life: Fighting to create a justice-oriented environment for human perfection and excellence. Accordingly, although the Imams of Islam have had different methods in their political and social lives, but their main goal has always been the same.

Contrary to some other scholars who believe that only Imam Hussain (a.s.) is a campaigner and a mujahid because of his armed movement, Sayyid Ali Khamenei believes that other Imams were also mujahid and Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms and that campaigning was the strategy of their political lives. In this view, overthrowing the oppressors and forming a government based on peace, justice, development and rules of God is the goal of Imams in their campaigns and they consider the formation of such a government as their duty in guiding the human and leading them towards development, perfection and prosperity.

The author"s argument to prove the campaigns of Imams in Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms is based on historical facts. Examining the behavior of the Imams" enemies, he asks how it is possible that Imams of Islam were not engaged in a strong political fight with the enemies of Islam and humanity, yet they were martyred one after another by those enemies? Is it possible that Imams and heroes of mankind were martyred by their enemies for no reason and without feeling any danger from them, and only to deeply hurt the feelings of many people? Certainly the enemies were not so stupid. Imams were martyred only because they were serious obstacles for the oppressors and arrogant rulers to achieve their goals, and they fought and sacrificed themselves to overthrow oppressors and save humankind from suffering, oppression, injustice and inhuman acts.

Sayyid Ali Khamenei believes that Imams" mission is to lead the human towards prosperity both in this world and the hereafter, and this important responsibility could not be fulfilled except through forming a government which rules and governs the society based on freedom, brotherhood, justice, independence and human values. Accordingly, although the Imams after Imam Hussain (a.s.) did not have armed and overt campaigns against the enemies of humanity, but they considered it a duty to fight covertly and prepare the foundation for the formation of such government, so they used every possible opportunity at any time to achieve that.

Ayatollah Khamenei then completes his argument by redefining the concept of "jihad." In his book Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms, he challenges the common misconceptions about "jihad". He believes we neither can define jihad only as great effort without considering the obstacles, enemies and anti-heroes, nor we can limit its definition to armed campaigns. Because the first definition of jihad results in a neutral and unwise Islam, and the second definition justifies deviations such as ISIS among the Islamic Ummah, both of which are far from the true Islam. In Hussainʼs (a.s.) Brothers in Arms, a third meaning is presented as a correct definition of jihad: "Fighting against the powers which are opposing the human perfection and excellence in any possible and legitimate way." In this definition, a Muslim is engaged in jihad as long as he strives in his political and social life to confront and fight the enemies of humanity. And this jihad could be scientific, economic, cultural, political, military, and so on.

In this view, the logic of the Imams and every Muslim who follows them consists of fighting against oppression, evilness, injustice, colonization, poverty, etc., and the formation of just and peace-seeking governments that strive to eradicate poverty, inequality and achieve human perfection. This important goal must be achieved, and if we face obstacles and limitations in the way, we must choose another way to reach the goal, rather than give up on it and let it go. Just like a climber who, on his way to conquer a summit, does not abandon his goal if there is an obstacle in his way, but bypasses the obstacle and continues to the summit through another path.

We recommend reading this interesting book to you and hope that its reading would open new horizons for us to become more familiar with Islam and the Imams and help us in the path of religious thinking and practice.


13:34 - 29/08/2020    /    Number : 756117    /    Show Count : 72



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