Imamat and Dialectic Logic

An Extract from Notes

Dialectic logic denies that society needs guidance or leadership; According to this logic at the most society needs an intellectual and leader to bring inequities, contradictions and inequalities existing in society to the consciousness of the masses so that dialectic movement may be initiated. As this movement is compulsive, the passage from thesis and anti-thesis to synthesis is unavoidable. Therefore society automatically traverses its course and in the end attains perfection.

The leaflet24"> - Leadership, Imamat, Dialectic, says:

"One of the important questions concerning leadership and Imamat, especially the Islamic conception of Imamat is: What is the role of the so-called intellectual? Is his duty and responsibility merely to depict the inequities and inequalities, awaken the consciousness of the exploited classes and inculcate the existence of real class contradiction in the mind of the deprived masses? Is it true that once the masses become conscious of the existing contradictions, society moves forward -automatically and dialectically?"

The fact is that above all other things society needs leadership, guidance and Imamat. Development is not the essential result of the contradictions. Development is not possible without guidance and leadership. Dr. Ali Shari'ati in the last pages of his booklet, Wherefrom to Begin has elaborately discussed this question under the heading, Responsibility and Mission of an Intellectual. He says:

"Briefly the responsibility of an intellectual is to transmit the inequities within society to the self-consciousness of the people of that society. Then society performs its own movement."

Anyhow, after a few lines he makes some remarks, which are contrary to the above statement, and support society's need of guidance and leadership. Dr. Shari'ati says:

"It has been supposed that from the point of view of leadership an intellectual has no responsibility. Dialectic contradiction chooses its own way. An intellectual's duty is confined to portraying contradictions and rousing the underprivileged classes against the ruling classes.25" But only after a few lines he talks of "Determining a solution and the common ideals of society and of inculcating zeal and a sense of common faith ...."

These remarks are contrary to the theory that society performs its own movement. When Dr Shari'ati speaks of dialectic corollary of the triangle of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis and of compulsory development, he is consistent, but when he makes his subsequent remarks, he speaks against his own postulates.

Leadership and Protection of Faith

The scholastic theologians have greatly emphasized that Imam is the protector and preserver of faith and religion. Probably it is supposed that he protects religion in the same way as a building is first erected and then it is maintained and protected against a possible damage by rain, wind etc. Hence there appears to be no need that a building built by an unrivalled builder should be preserved by a person having almost the same degree of skill as the original builder.

For example there has never been felt any need that there should exist some persons of the caliber of those who created the Masjid Shah, Ali Qapu, the dome of Masjid Shaykh Lutfullah, the Bayasanqari inscription of Masjid Gowhar Shad, the writings of Meer and Bayasanqar, the hand-written Qurans and other master-pieces.

But the fact is that damage to religion is not a simple affair. According to psychological and sociological principle as soon as a revolutionary movement succeeds and the enemy despairs of continuing his face to face confrontation, he ceases to resist it openly and on the basis of his assessment of his own advantage, he sometimes even joins the movement, not because he has really been converted to it, but purely with a view to exploit its success. He utilizes the movement for his own ends without having faith in its spirit and objectives.

That is what happened during the constitutional movement of Iran. The opponents of the constitutional government joined the movement, and pretended to be its staunch supporters. Ayanuddawlah and Sadr ul Ashraf became prime ministers of the constitutional government. Such people not only preserve the external features of the movement, but also try to furnish it with further adornments. Anyhow, they destroy its spirit, its reality and its core, and empty it from within. In the words of Imam Ali in this process:

"Islam is overturned as a pot is overturned." (See Nahjul Balgha -- Sermon 103)

Thus they divert the movement from its right course, preserving its shape and appearance but altering its content and nature. As most people are only superficial observers and prone to take things for their face value; they remain happy and satisfied, for they find the externalities safe to the utmost extent. They do not realize that the fundamentals have vanished. It is here that mature thinking and deep observation are required. When Imam Ali said:

"In every generation we have irreproachable successors who defend us against the deviation of the fanatics and the pretensions of the liars" He might have referred to the Holy Imams themselves or to the honest scholars who keep a watch on the people's belief in the Imams. It may be mentioned that struggle against innovations in religion is not confined to those cases in which a law is openly violated or something that has nothing to do with religion is intentionally introduced into religion.

Sometimes people's way of thinking in regard to religion is so perverted that they begin to have aversion to right thinking. What we mean to emphasize is that there is no fear of any harm being incurred by Islam from outside the Muslim world. The Quran says:

"Those who disbelieve have now despaired of doing any damage to your religion. Therefore do not fear them; but have fear of Me." But there exists a definite threat to Islam from inside. In this connection the greatest threat is posed not by those who commit abominable sins out of lust etc., but by the hypocrisy of those who are afraid of opposing Islam openly.

They wear a mask of Islam on their face and try to achieve their nefarious ends under the cover of Islamic way of life, a very heavy cover indeed. They devoid Islam of its content; leaving intact its shape and appearance; by changing its course and its goal and altering its meaning.26The simple-minded Muslims must be aware of the fraud of this group.


  1. Please refer to our footnote of the booklet, Where from to Begin, page 39.
  2. In one of his footnotes on the booklet, Where from to Begin, page 39.
  3. In his papers on "Alteration of the Quran" the author says that distortion of meaning indicates the retention of the wording of the Quran, but expounding it wrongly as, according to a well-known story Muawiyah did when he misinterpreted the wording of the prediction regarding the death of Ammar ibn Yasir. Another case of the distortion of meaning is the misinterpretation of the verse: "There is no hukm (decision, judgement) except by Allah." (Surah Yusuf 12: 90) On the basis of this verse the Khawarij raised the slogan: La hukma illaillah (There is no decision except by Allah).

Commenting on this slogan Imam Ali said: "Right words, wrong meaning". (See Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 40). This intentional or unintentional misinterpretation was disastrous and caused so much damage in the history of Islam. Another case is the misinterpretation of the tradition: "If you know (Allah), do whatever you like."