Monday, January 24, 2022 AD / Jumada al-thani 21, 1443 AH
Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani
(69) Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani rejects imitation from scholars with the reason that it is just useful for conjecture and conjecture does not have authority in Islam and he knows it one of the causes for divisions of Muslims since long time ago to this day. Yet further he does not even consider Ijtihad to its commonplace meaning which is interpreting laws from conjectural reasoning, correct with regards to invalidity of conjectural reasoning in Islam and he knows it necessary to figure out another solution to achieve certainty. (Article 1)
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Recently, a challenging book with a new thinking style in the field of Islamology entitled Return to Islam by “Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani” has been published among the educated people, including Islamic seminarians and academics, and has provoked various reactions. The content of this book, which is written in a scholarly and reasoning manner and based on Islamic certainties and well-known facts to all Muslims of different sects, is a critique of the official and common understanding of Islam, and presents a distinct and trans-sectarian understanding of it called the pure and complete Islam.

In this book, the author first explains the criterion of cognition and considers necessity, unity and self-evidence as its three characteristics, and after many studies, considers the intellect as its example and emphasizes that all cognitions must inevitably lead to the intellect. Of course, he considers the intellect different from philosophy and believes that the criterion of cognition is the rational intellect and not the philosophical intellect. In addition, he considers the thousand-year dispute over the basis of Husn and Qubh, or goodness and badness, between the Ash’arites and the Adliyyah as a verbal dispute due to their inattention to the fact that God has created and legislated His commandments and prohibitions, and believes that the intellect and the religion are both the actions of God, and there is an essential unity between the actions of God and there is no contradiction and no conflict.

He then explains the impediments to cognition and mentions ignorance, imitation, passions, worldliness, prejudice, arrogance and superstitionism as the most important examples, and after that, he deals with the historical pathology of Muslims’ beliefs and actions, and criticizes their intellectual foundations since the demise of Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, and also explains and traces the common Bid’ahs, deviations, sufferings and problems of the Islamic world.

In a part of his book, he considers the lack of Muslims’ proper and complete cognition of Islam as the most important cause of their disagreements and deviations, for which he mentions various reasons and origins. He also states that they do not know themselves and their enemies properly and completely, and considers it as another factor for their disagreements and deviations.

One of the important issues that has been challenged in this book is imitation. The author considers imitating the predecessors and imitating oppressive rulers, in the sense of following them, as a cause of the decline of Islamic culture, and considers the uprising of Muslims against tyrannical and affiliated governments to be legitimate, even if they pretend to be Islamic; as not only does he not consider imitating unbelievers, in the sense of following non-Islamic ideas and models, as the cause of material and worldly progress of Muslims, but he considers it as the cause of the fall of their culture and civilization. In addition, he also considers it incorrect to imitate the majority of people, and after denying the validity of consensus and fame as religious reasons, due to their conjectural nature, he criticizes democracy theoretically and considers it to be ineffective, especially in societies where the intellect of the majority of people has not grown sufficiently.

He also denies imitating scholars, because it is based on conjecture which has no authority in Islam, and considers it as one of the causes of disagreements among Muslims for a long time. He does not consider Ijtihad in the idiomatic meaning to be correct; because it is the inference of laws from conjectural evidences which are invalid in Islam; therefore, he considers it necessary to find another way to achieve certainty. It is clear that this modern and distinct point of view of the author, although it can lead to many political consequences and reactions in some countries, has been presented in a scholarly and reasoning framework and lacks political orientation.

The author then criticizes the theory of absolute guardianship of the Islamic jurist in a fundamental way and considers it an exaggeration about scholars and rules out its possibility intellectually; because, according to the author, unconditional obedience to someone who may, willingly or unwillingly, command unjustly is contrary to the law of the intellect and the religion. Also, as consequences of believing in absolute guardianship of the Islamic jurist, he considers unquestioning obedience to fallible people and giving them the authority of infallible people to be usually the sources of various Fitnahs and great corruptions, such as political tyranny, and counts this as another reason for necessity of avoiding this belief. It is clear that this critical point of view of the author, although it has provoked strong political and security reactions in some Shia countries, especially in Iran, is a completely scholarly point of view as well, similar to the points of view of their great and famous scholars, such as Sheikh al-Ansari, Akhund al-Khorasani and Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei, and therefore, it has no political or anti-security orientation at all.

After that, the author considers superstitionism as an influential factor on Muslims’ beliefs and actions, and criticizes some Sufis for promoting it, and considers their role to be great in spreading irrationalism and emotional and poetic religiousness among Muslims. He also denounces many poets for composing beautiful but incorrect poems that are contrary to the teachings of the Prophets, and considers them as rivals and enemies of the Prophets, just like sorcerers, who prevent people from the way of God by “Zukhruf al-Qawl” and “Lahw al-Hadith”.

Another fundamental and important issue that Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani deals with in the distinct and challenging book Return to Islam, is the issue of Islamic government. In his point of view, the rule over people is only for God, and no one but Him has the right to rule over them, and He performs His sovereignty over them by appointing a deputy or the so-called “Caliph”. Therefore, the basis for the formation of the Islamic government and its political legitimacy is God’s specific and definite permission, which does not exist for any of the current rulers in the Islamic world, and therefore, none of their governments is currently considered an Islamic government. He considers the need of the Islamic government for a specific and definite appointment of the ruler by God as one of the obvious and essential issues in Islam and other Abrahamic religions, and believes that there is no point in arguing about it. Of course, unlike all Muslim scholars of all Islamic sects, the author considers it possible for people to have access to such a ruler and believes that the reason for their lack of access to such a ruler, contrary to their popular belief, is not God’s wisdom, but their fault in providing the necessary conditions for access to him, and whenever they meet these conditions in a completely normal and conventional process, their access to him will be realized. With this description, their lack of access to him is not considered an excuse for them to choose a ruler other than him; because on the one hand, considering the possibility of their access to the ruler appointed by God, there is no need to choose another ruler, and on the other hand, their lack of access to this ruler is due to their own fault, and therefore, it cannot be considered an excuse for them to choose another ruler, even though they seem to have no choice. In this way, the Islamic government is possible only with the sovereignty of God’s Caliph on the earth, and the sovereignty of God’s Caliph on the earth is possible only with the will and free will of people.

Elsewhere in the book Return to Islam, Khorasani considers the establishment of Islam to be useful and effective only in its pure and complete form, and believes that establishing a part of it alone or with something outside of it, not only is it not useful and effective, but can be harmful and dangerous, and this is contrary to the belief of most Muslims who think establishing a part of Islam is also desirable and effective. He likens Islam to a single system with interconnected components that if one component does not work, the other components will also lose their efficiency and the whole system will fail. Therefore, Muslims have no choice but to establish the complete Islam in its purest form, and this is possible only if the Caliph of God on the earth teaches it.

Another fundamental and challenging issue in this book is that the author considers the implementation of Islamic limits and punishments conditional on the implementation of all general and political laws of Islam, and believes that the legislation of these limits and punishments has been done in view of the rule of God on the earth, proportional to the time and place that all laws of Islam are implemented as deterrents. Therefore, the implementation of these limits and punishments in another time and place is not fair and proportional; especially considering that from the author's point of view, the laws of Islam are interdependent and interconnected and affect each other and are influenced by each other. It is clear that this point of view, although it poses a great challenge to jurisprudence and the basis for the implementation of criminal law, is a completely scholarly point of view as well, which originates from the author’s particular intellectual foundations.

In another part of the book Return to Islam, Mansoor Hashemi considers disagreements among Muslims, sovereignty of anyone other than God, mixing with non-Islamic nations and cultures, emergence of sects and their rivalry with each other, moral decline, and prevention of enemies as the most important impediments to establishment of the complete and pure Islam since the demise of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, and talks about each of them in detail, with a historical, perspective and trans-sectarian perspective.

He also considers the tendency to narrations as one of the impediments to knowing the pure and complete Islam and its establishment by Muslims; because in his opinion, narrations, in the sense of conjectural news from the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, have no validity due to the invalidity of conjecture in Islam, and citing them is not sufficient to deduce a belief or a law. He believes that there is no reason to exclude the conjecture arising from narrations from other conjectures; because the invalidity of conjecture is one of the laws of the intellect which do not accept exceptions. Therefore, only a mutawatir narration whose narrators are numerous and causes certainty is valid, while such narrations are very few and are not available enough. However, from the author’s point of view, the solution to this predicament is not to refer to non-mutawatir narrations, but to refer to the Caliph of God on the earth, and if it is not possible to refer to him at the present time, it is because of the fault of people in making its arrangements. Therefore, there is no excuse for them to refer to non-mutawatir narrations. Hashemi Khorasani believes that people have put themselves in a desperate situation by their own fault in making the necessary arrangements to access the Caliph of God on the earth, and this situation is not from God to be in conflict with His mercy. However, he believes that it is possible for them to get out of this desperation; because their access to the Caliph of God on the earth is possible when his security is guaranteed by them; as his sovereignty over them is possible when their demand, support and obedience to him are guaranteed by them.

In another part of his book, Mansoor defines Islam as submission to God, which is manifested in the acknowledgment of His last Prophet. He believes that the followers of each Prophet are considered Muslims until the next Prophet comes to them; but when the next Prophet comes to them, if they acknowledge him, they remain on their Islam, and if they deny him, they quit their Islam. In this part of his book, after introducing the last Prophet of God and proving his Prophethood, the author explains the position of the Quran and the Sunnah, and points out very important and fundamental points in this regard. One of these points is the impossibility of abrogating, allocating and generalizing the Quran by the Sunnah; considering that the duty of the Sunnah is only the explanation of the Quran and cannot contradict it in any way; as it is conjectural in most cases and cannot contradict the Quran which is certain; rather, in mutawatir cases, it is not as mutawatir as the Quran either and cannot stand in an equal position to it.

In another part of the book Return to Islam, the author considers the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, always valid which can be followed forever, but he believes that certain access to it is possible mainly for people of His Excellency’s time and not for future generations. Therefore, future generations need another authority to achieve certainty about the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, and that authority is the Caliph of God on the earth, who is considered the deputy of the Prophet in implementing God’s laws, and of course, like the Quran, he is always available to people. After examining the definitive Islamic texts, including the verses of the Quran and the mutawatir narrations of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, the author proves in a novel and convincing manner to all Muslims, free from any sectarian orientation, that the Caliphs after the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, are twelve people from his Ahl al-Bayt, the first three of whom are Ali, Hasan and Husain and the last of them is Mahdi. He then examines the position of Mahdi and his role in the realization of the ideal of Islam, which is global justice, and in this regard, he brings up some subtleties and details that are completely novel and unprecedented. For example, unlike others who consider the creation and advent of Mahdi dependent on the will and primary action of God and subject to His wisdom and expediency, he considers it dependent on the will and primary action of people and subject to their free will and readiness, and explicitly and decisively believes that their access to Mahdi is possible, and therefore, they should only think of protecting, supporting and obeying him, and should not make themselves busy protecting, supporting and obeying people other than him, whoever they are.

In the following of his book, Hashemi explains the most important principle of Islam, which is monotheism, and divides it into three parts: monotheism in creation, monotheism in legislation, and monotheism in arbitration or sovereignty, and explains each of them in detail. He then introduces the rest of the principles of the beliefs and the foundations of the laws of Islam, and redefines each of them with a distinct and particular method, and, for example, opens new doors to jurists about Zakat, Hajj and Jihad, from each of them news doors are opened.

In this way, he redefines the beliefs and laws of Islam by citing the obvious requirements of the intellect and based on definite religious texts, which are nothing but verses of the Quran and mutawatir narrations of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his household, and presents a new and completely distinct understanding of it that can be considered an Islamic school and ideology, capable of revolutionizing the attitude and approach of Muslims of the world and preparing the ground for their unity and convergence in the near future and for great and fundamental changes in their political and cultural structures.

We recommend all Muslims of the world, especially scholars, to study this distinct and influential book, and we expect the officials of Islamic countries to show the necessary patience and forbearance in face of it by observing freedom of thought and expression and practical commitment to Islamic ethics, and to avoid hasty and irrational confrontations with thoughts and thinkers.

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