Fatima is Fatima
by Dr. Ali Shariati
Introduction By Laleh Bakhtiar
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Islam admits to all realities - hunger, ignorance, drug addiction, the need for divorce, the weakening of the weak by the strong, oppression and suppression (realities, according to realists, must be translated into real forms so they have no problem with imgaination, ideology and ideas which they ignore). "But as opposed to realism, Islam does not accept the status quo but changes the realities"Says Ali Shariati, "It changes their essence in a revolutionary way. It carries realities along with its ideals. It uses realities as a means to reach its idealistic goals, its real desires, which are non-existent by themselves. Unlike realists, Islam does not submit to realities, but rather, it causes the realities to submit to it. Islam does not turn away from realities as idealists do. It seeks them out. It tames them. Through this means, Islam uses that which hinders the idealists as a composite for its own ideals." With this apporach, an independence of thinking develops which, in order to succeed as an answer and not to cause deviation, must branch out from the society's historical roots. Face up to your realities. Tame them. Work through them to reach your ideals. ... Shariati develops the concept of Islamic social justice. In Islam it is not sufficient to tell one's self, "Thou shalt not ... this or that." For there is a commitment by which each individual is bound by and that is to be an active participant in society opposing social ills. That is, one should say to one's self, "Thou shalt not be an oppressor," but one is equally obliged to say to one'self, "Thou shalt help the oppressed." ... Shariati takes us to the heart of Shi'ism - Fatima, the beloved daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He describes the woman we could not see, the one we thought we knew but only after his guidance do we become aware of the fact that although we related each day directly to her spirit, she had been lost as a model for our daily lives. That is, we had an emotional attachment to her inner essence but we had removed her form. Shariati takes us to Fatima. He begins with the social customs of the Arabian Peninsula before her birth where according to custom, female children were buried alive at birth in order to save the family from the disgrace of having an unsuitable son-in-law. It was the revolutionary message of Islam which did away with this custom. God reveals through the Quran that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had been given the abundant river of Paradise and through that river, he shall have abundant progeny although according to Arab beliefs at that time, a man without a son is called 'cut-off'. How could it be? The father of a daughter will have abundant progeny? His wife, over 50 years old, gives birth to a daughter, Fatima. God has kept the promise to the Prophet for through her, the progeny of the Prophet multiplies. Shariati then goes on to further enumerate the honors that Islam has bestowed upon women. There is only one person buried in the Ka'ba, the 'House of God' and that is a woman, a slave, Lady Hajara, the second wife of Prophet Abraham and mother of Prophet Ismail.
Shariati then goes on to furhter enumerate the honors that Islam has bestowed upon women. There is only one person buried in the Ka'ba, the 'House of God' and that is a woman, a slave, Hajar, the second wife of Abraham and mother of Ismail. Fatima spent her life in struggle, resisting poverty and difficulties. Her father was forced to spend three years in a valley with his family when his tribe imposed economic and social sanctions aga inst his message of Islam. After the migration to Medina, her new life as a married woman begins but she continues to face the same hardships and difficulties that she encountered since childhood. We learn of Fatima as a Muslim female child who defends her father against the elders of her tribe. Fatima is the one who, holding her father's hand, accompanies him into the bazaar, listens to his debates and walks with him to her home. Fatima, the Muslim woman, who stands at the door and defends her husband and her home when usurpers try to burn it down. Fatima tells the newly elected Caliph that he has displeased God and God's Prophet by not listening to the Prophet's advice and taking his own interests to heart. Fatima, who when she finds injustice and opprssion speaks out with the totality of her being, not fearing the outcome of her words for she knows she speaks with the tongue of Truth. Let us turn to her last sermon and have her own words tell us what she really believed and practiced. When Fatima was ill with the final sickness which caused her death, the wives of the Emigrants and Companions of the Prophet went out visit her to ask how she was feeling. Abu Bakr had been elected Caliph and Ali was put aside. In reply to them, after asking for the blessings of God for her father, Muhammad, she said: "By God I am alive while I have nothing but contempt for this world. I detest your men. After I tried to show them who their real enemy was and they did not listen, I put them aside.""How ugly are the sharp edges of swords when they are broken and then play with poeple's efforts and struggles which so many have undertaken, destroying the fortifications, breaking spears, making devious decisions and standing on the precipice of material and personal self-desires. What a terrible future they are preparing for by causing the warth of God and thereby brining about permanent torment for themselves." ... "God says, ' If citizens are faithful and avoid wrong deeds, We will give blessings from heaven and earth to them. But they deny the truths so we captivated them for their deeds. From those who oppressed, the results of their actions will be returned to themselves. They cannot change the traditions of history.' ... "It is then that the destroyer of rights will lose and those who will come in the future will find and realize the terrible results of what the ancestors have done. So you should be satified with your daily affairs and live in peace prior to the storm and terrible revolts." For then, the sharp swords of the dominations of the oppressors, anarchy and the rule of tyrants will overcome you. The oppressors will enslave you. No public assets except a small quantity will remain.. They will cultivate with force what you have planted with love. At that time you will only sigh for there will be nothing that you can do because you were blind and could not see the truth. They will oblige you because you have turned your faces from the right way and you did not accept it." Why have many Muslim women been lost to either outdated forms or new imports? Why has she been exploited? Shariati tells us in the words of Hazrat Ali, "two parties are required in order to bring about oppression. One is the oppressor and the other is the one who accepts oppression. Oppression cannot be one sided. An oppressor cannot perform oppression in the air. Opression is like a piece of iorn which is formed by the striking of the hammer of the oppressor upon the anvil of the oppressed." Thus, women themselves participated in the attack upon their values by allowing themselves to be oppressed and by not searching out their roots. With the awarness which Shariati brings to us, our coming to know Fatima brings about a responsiblity and a committment to those who first ask, "Who am I" and then search out the answer in the authen city and geniuneness of their own culture. The responsiblity and commitment grows through love and faith ... With Fatima as our model, we learn to fight injustice and oppression. We turn from ourself to the others. We become actively involved in society's ills because she as she really was, is our sym bol, our model, our heroine. This is not to deny the spiritual presence and essence of Fatima who has inspired thousands of artists, poets, writers and artisans. At one point we learn that the Prophet gave her a prayer instead of the domestic help that she had asked for. She grew from this for this nourised her spirit and strengthened her commitment ot God and the people. But it is rather to complement it for as Rumi te lls us, "The physical form is of great importance; nothing can be done without the consociation of the form and the essence. However often you may sow a seed stripped of its pod, it will not grow; s ow it with the pod, it will become a great tree." And as every artisan knows, it is the clay itself which determines the forms that can be created. Having awoken and become aware to the real Fatima presented by Sharati, the Iranain women were able to arise and play a major role in the Islamic Revolution of Iran. They fought against oppression a nd injustice side by side with the men. Clothed in the modest dress of what Fatima might have worn, they found no impediments to their freedom to act, to fight, to resist.
With the awarness which Shariati brings to us, our coming to know Fatima brings about a responsiblity and a committment to those who first ask, "Who am I" and then search out the answer in the authen city and geniuneness of their own culture. The responsiblity and commitment grows through love and faith ... With Fatima as our model, we learn to fight injustice and oppression. We turn from ourself to the others. We become actively involved in society's ills because she as she really was, is our symbol, our model, our heroine. This is not to deny the spiritual presence and essence of Fatima who has inspired thousands of artists, poets, writers and artisans. At one point we learn that the Prophet gave her a prayer instead of the domestic help that she had asked for. She grew from this for this nourised her spirit and strengthened her commitment ot God and the people. But it is rather to complement it for as Rumi tells us, "The physical form is of great importance; nothing can be done without the consociation of the form and the essence. However often you may sow a seed stripped of its pod, it will not grow; sow it with the pod, it will become a great tree." And as every artisan knows, it is the clay itself which determines the forms that can be created. Having awoken and become aware to the real Fatima presented by Sharati, the Iranain women were able to arise and play a major role in the Islamic Revolution of Iran. They fought against oppression and injustice side by side with the men. Clothed in the modest dress of what Fatima might have worn, they found no impediments to their freedom to act, to fight, to resist. (Concludes Introduction)
Who is Responsible? Scholars! It is they who do not perform their responsibilities in respect to the people. They should give awareness, consciousness and direction to the people and they do not do so. All our geniuses and great talents occupy themselves with philosophy, theology, Sufism, jurisprudence, principles, literature, meanings, expression, novelties, conjugation and syntax. Through all the years of research, thought and their own scholarly anguish, they write nothing other than 'practical treatises' on how to achieve cleanliness for the ritual prayer, types of uncleanness, the rules of menstruation, and the doubts which arise in ritual prayer. They leave aside writing treatises on how to speak with people, treatises on how to communicate the religious truths and the philosophy of the pillars of the religion, treatises on how to communicate consciousness and awareness to people, treatises on the understanding of the traditions of the Prophet and the personalities of the Imams, treatises on the revolutionary purpose behind Karbala, introductory treatises on the family of the prophet and the Shi'ite movement, treatises on the expression of thoughts and treatises on the faith of the people. All of these treatises are written, but all of them are written without responsibility, without the role of a commander. They pass their responsibilities on to the ordinary speakers in the mosques, not to the mujtahids (religious leaders whose directions for the practice of the faith are followed). A country which is full of faith and love, a nation which as the Quran and the Nahjal blageh of Ali, a people who have Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Hosein, and Zainab, have a red history but a black fate. They have a culture and the religion of martyrdom, but it is dead. We see a dream appeared to Joan of Arc, a sensitive and imaginative girl, for her to fight in order to have the king returned. For centuries, her dream has given the inspiration of freedom, sacrifice, and the sense of revolution and the courage to the enlightened, aware and progressive French people. Whereas Zainab, the sister of Imam Hosein, who takes a heavier mandate, the mandate of Hosein in her Ali-like hands, continues the movement of Karbala, which opposed murders, lying, terror, and hysterics. She continues the movement at a time when all of the heroes of the revolution are dead and the breath of the forerunners of Islam has ceased in the midst of our people, when commanders of the Islam of Muhammad and Shi'ism of Ali are gone. But she has been turned into 'a sister who mourns'.
Our people, who spend their lives in love with the Shi'ite saints and cry over the difficulties they faced, who serve them for months and years, who glorify their name, spend money, give their sincerity and their patience to them, deserve to know the real lives of each one of their Imams. Their lives should serve as examples for each one of them. Their lives, thoughts, words, silences, freedoms, their imprisonment, punishments, martrydoms, should give awareness, life, chastity and humanness to people. But people know them only by their number, (that is, the 6th Imam, the 8th Imam, etc.). If an ordinary person mourns for Imam Hosein and on the anniversary of his death (ashura) strikes his head with his dagger and bears the pain even with pleasure, and still knows Hosein in an oblique way and misunderstands Karbala, who is responsible? If a woman cries with her whole being, if the recollection of the name of Fatima and Zainab burns her to her bones and if knowing it is worthwhile, who would, with complete love, giver her life for them, and yet, if she does not thoroughly know Fatima and Zainab, who is responsible? Neither this man nor this woman know one line of their words. None of them have read one line about their lives. They can only recall Fatima beside her house at the moment when her side was struck and they only know Zainab from the moment when she leaves the tents to go gather the bodies of the martyrs. They only know her from the morning of the day of Ashura up until noon, from then on they lose her. Their awareness of Zainab ends the day when her work and great mandate, the legacy of Hosein, just begins. Their knowledge of Zainab ends here. Then, who is responsible? And, thus, educated and open minded boys and girls judge the situation and say, "What is the use of this religion of crying and lamentation? What can such a religion do?" What knots do all this excitement, love, lamentation and cries for Hosein, Fatima and Zainab untie for a backwards, imprisoned nation which needs awareness and commitment to negate oppression in order to seek freedom.
If this imamate and sanctity of Ali, which has for centuries had the strength of a movment desiring justice, seeking freedom and a fighting spirit opposed to oppression and despotic institutions, and if this movement can free awakened and aware and people and give them liberty, justice, chastity, independence and motion and if it could change them both socially and individually and if the movement could bring about an itellectual revolutionary leadership which fights against classes and gives life and consciousness to a society and they have not shown this, who is responsible? If the value, influence and effect of following Ali, Fatima and the Imams are transferred from this world to another world and its effect is only measured after death, then who is responsible? If the promises and covenants of our fathers to this family have had no effect upon their thoughts, their time, their lives and society and if their sons, seeing this ineffectiveness, remain cut-off from their promises and links with this religion and this family, then, who is responsible?
Excerpts from Ali Shariati's Fatima is Fatima (part VII) Chapter three What did they miss? Is it that this familly is without effect, or is it that our young generation and intellectuals are in error? Or have our mothers and fathers failed in their responsibilities? Ali is the most manifest of truths and represents the most progressive school of thought which has ever taken human form. It is not a myth. It is a human reality... And his wife, Fatima, is a perfect example of an ideal woman, of what a woman could be and no one has become. Hosein and Zainab, the sister and the brother, who brought such a deep revolution in the history of mankind, give a sense of honor to freedom, and disgrace to despotism and oppression. ... From another point of view, in the difficult and confused space of history, among the palaces, with the Caesars, as history always breathes from them, culture, civilization, religion, thought, discipline and art are turned around. Our intelligent, loyal, lovers of virtue who have known this household, luckless and quiet, have always been sacrificed through oppression and deceitfulness. Our people have tied eternal links to them. All their faith, longing, thought and feelings have been devoted to them. Now, even their language admires them and their means of proof say this. Their hearts beat for them. Their eyes cry with their sorrow. They sacrifice themselves and their possessions upon the way. They withold nothing. ... If we pay atttention, in particular, to the great differences in classes which exist in Islamic societies, we see that half of the capital of the country is in the hands of a few thousand people. We see that two-thirds of whatever there is, is, at the disposal of only 10% of the population. We see that, as opposed to the past, capital has been taken from the former landlords and former merchants of the bazaar and has been put into the hands of new capitalists, new industrialists, modern bourgeois companies and middle men who sell foreign goods or produce new products themselves.
Ali Shariati's Fatima is Fatima (part VIII) We see that money has escaped from their hands and has changed its place from the village storage areas, from the shops of the old merchants under the old roofs of the bazaar, from the hands of local handicrafts and traditonal jobs and workers, from thehands of money exchangers and indigenous professional guilds, from traditional industries and classical professions to the banks, stock exchange, foreign companies, agencies, distributors, contractors and factories. This new class, a newly created group, are characterized by foreignness and modernization. They breathe at the door of the We st. They are not religious. If any of them had a memory of our inclination toward religion, it has long since been iorned out. Luxury, ceremony, seasonal things, pretntiousness and foreignness pre vail in their work. All of this plus their Islam, in the words of Seyyid Qutb, is an American Islam. People who follow religion without responsiblity, without expending, without effort, most often give their opinion and present their objections without acting or investing anything. Intellectuals are brought nto being who expend no money. Young girls and boys have for years had 'plage' parties, dancing parties in Switzerland, Paris, England, America, and Austria upon their lips. They have bee n most generous to these things. They and their wives go abroad once or twice a year with their money bags overflowing with money. In the stores and Moulin Rouges, they put money into the pockets of the capitalists,clever people an d milkers of money. They are no more than domesticated cows, seen by deceiving dealers as donkeys as money, coming out of the backward countries. They place their wealth into the cleft of expensive dancers. The wealthy go slumming, and then they return to their country, until once again they gather up enough money to go there once again and be milked. They do all this very naturally and wit hout any mistake or error, even holding their heads high. With lies, they turn people in circles. They also put people under obligation. They call this progress, modern living and a sign of civili zation. At the same time, a small merchant or villager, gets ready for his pilgrimage to Mecca or Karbala after a lifetime of work and anguish and production. He goes on the principle that this is the only thing in his life which will be both a time of rest as well as pleasure, a journey, a 'tour', travelling abroad and coming to know other countries. He will be seeing the world and renewing his faith , his beliefs and his union with his history. He unites with his culture. He makes the pilgrimage to his beloved people. He comes to know the remains of his civilization. He sees art which relate s to himself. Because of the truth of his love, his desires and longing of his spirit, his feelings and needs, and finally, the duty of his religious faith, once in a lifetime, he intends to make th e pilgirmage. He takes $700 ('71 $ ). He has to pay $400 for his plane ticket and the rest he uses for his expenses there and to buy gifts which he takes back home. That which he spends there is th e money he pays to rent a tent or a bus and buy a few days of food supplies. The total of all this does not reach the cost of one night of Mr. and Mrs. .... champagne in the Lido or one of their ca viar breakfasts in the George V Hotel. It is even cheaper!
Ali Shariati Fatima is Fatima (part IX) We see with the changes in this particular class, side by side with general economic poverty, that town dwellers and village dwellers have become poorer, entangled with affliction and hunger and the class of minor landowners and merchants has become weak and dispersed in face of the growth of new classes. The majority of them have remained in the same class. A minority of people change classes and move to a new one. We see only two groups, modern types and traditonal types, those loyal to their beliefs and religours rites in a sense are part of these two groups. Because of these identical and perceptible socio- economic changes, the loyal ones remain quietly in the same class with few economic changes, or else they are forced into weakness. The strength of religion which they participated in, and the great expenses which are incurred in respect to rites and the inagurating of places for gatherings or buildings for religious purposes, all are a sign that the binding of our people's spirit with the Prop het and Ali's family is unbelievably deep and strong. It shows to what extent their faith and sincerity is strong and pure. It is after considering these things that the question, "Who is Responsible?" suddenly drops upon your head like a sledge hammer. A person who has until now followed the problem and with precise study, logically and clearly uncovered all sides of the issue, studied it and phase by phase has seen that all is correct, takes a good look at Islam and Shiism. Islam: Islam, the last historical, religious school of thought and the most perfect, Muhammad, the Quran, the Companions and their histories are models of life, chastity and civilization. They bring law, pr ogress, strength and culture to society.
Excerpts from Fatima is Fatima (part X) Shiism The religion of imamate and justice, followers of Ali and his children, Shiism has had a history full of jihad. Its believers show preseverance. They are inspired by freedom and justice. They are a n unacceptable fire for despots and for the prejudiced. They have submitted to the way. Linked to the anger of Truth, its followers are enemies of anything which conceals the Truth. They are enemie s of a politics which reduces one to slavery. They are enemies of economic exploitiation and spiritual despotism. ... Our enlightened thinkers are sensitive people, awakened, aware of the fate of the world and the fate of their society. They are familiar with the spirit and movement of time. Their timely demands a re in need of a boiling faith. They seek out revolutionary thought. They think about freedom, equality and awareness of people. They attempt to bring about feelings, movement, responsiblility and self awareness among their people. They see their people and the religion of Hosein, Zainab, justice, imamate, strength, theology, jihad, torture, martyrdom, Karbala... and they wonder... Why are there no vestiges when each one of these could give life, awraeness, enthusiasm and encouragement to those who are faithful to these ideas which overflow with life and liberty? Why do the se loyal forms, whose origins lie in the majesty of humanity, not bear fruit? Then who is responsible? In one word, the scholars. It is they who should have made Ali understandable. It is they who should have taught the thoughts of Ali.
Ali Shariati (part xi) In Islam, the scholars are not wise people who guarantee nothing. They do not have a handful or a bucketful or a truckful of knowledge. Science does not consist of hundreds of pieces of information and knowledge. In their hearts, there is a ray of light, the Light of God. It is not a question of a Divine science, illumination or gnosticism. It is also not chemistry, physics, history, geogr aphy, jurisprudence, principles, philosophy or logic. These are all types of scientific knowledge. A science becomes illuminated with the light when the knowing of it brings about a responsibility, a guiding knowledge, a science of ideas. In the Quran, this is called jurisprudence, but today it i s known as 'the science of the Divine Law and things related to it'. This science should not remain in or with darkness. Rather, it lightens space and breaks the night apart. It shows the way. It is not the normal teacher of students, the selected sage. It is the teacher of people. Its knowledge is not Platonic, academic knowledge, it is the knowledge of the mandate of the Prophet. It i s these learned people who will be the inheritors of the Prophets. The 'knowledge of knowns' is a kind of power and the 'knowledge of light' is guidance. The enlightened sage is an intellectual wit h clear vision. Intellectuals would be thinkers who sense a responsibility when expressing their thoughts in relationship to their own beliefs or the beliefs of their people. ... The learned Shi'ite is the vice-gerent of the Imam. He takes the religious taxes on behalf of the 12th Imam. The most evident of his responsibilities is to have people come to know who the Imam is. Who were the Imams and what did they think? What did they say? What did they do? How did they live? What role did they play in history? What was their school of thought? Against what thought, what crime, what order and what regime did they live and did they resist? And if we see that these thoughts are not made available to people, not written in their tongue, if we see that the extent of books that are about a European film star, there are not books about all of the Shi'ite saints, the scholars are responsible. If an educated Shi'ite today knows the desires and playful game of Bilitis, the ancient Greek whore, through a beautiful Persian translation of her most enchanting songs and poems, whereas a good tra nslation of Ali's words cannot be found, if our people only know a few names of some of the ancient Shi'ite leaders and they know a few miracles, good deeds, phrases of praise, and virtues of each of their Imams and, from their whole lives, they only know the day of their birth and the night of their death and nothing more, then, the scholars are responsible.
Fatima is Fatima (part xii) What Should be Done? Ali Distributes freedom. People are in love with Ali and yet, the young intellecuals are aware of the weaknesses and the decline of Ali's followers. The main reason for this contradiction is 'not having come to know. It is coming to know which has value. Love and faith have no value if they precede coming to know and choosing or commitment. If the Quran is read but is not understood, it is no different from a blank book or white notebook. Ali gives his followers awareness, greatness, chastity and freedom when they know who he is. When a book is read in our language which does not cor rectly give his character, when a book with his sayings is not given to his longing people, what effect can loving him, praising and eulogizing him have? Love and faith follow coming to know something. It is that which moves the spirit and brings up the nation. This is why the face of Fatima has remained unknown behind the eternal praise, eulogies, crying and lamentations of her followers. In Iranian and other Islamic societies there are three visages of women. One is the visage of the traditional woman. Another is the visage of the new woman, European-like, who has just begun to grow and introduce herself. The third is the visage of Fatima which has no resemblance whatsoever to that of the traditional woman. The visage of the traditonal woman which has taken form in the minds of those loyal to religion in our society, is far away from the face of Fatima as Fatima's face is from the modern woman. ... In today's world, a girl, without having gone astray, without having fallen into corruption creates a distance between herself and her mother. They are strangers to each other. An age diffference of 15, 20 or 30 years separates them into two distinct people, two human beings atttached to two different social cycles, attached to two histories, two cultures, two languages, two visions and two li ves. Their relationship is such that only their home addrsses are the same. In the external forms of society we see the same contradictions and historic distance between two generations, two types of visions. Just as we see flocks of sheep grazing on the asphalt streets of Tehran, with the shepherd milking the sheep in front of the consmer-resident capital, at the same time, pasturized milk is available in the stores. Or, you see a camel standing next to an automatic shift Jaguar sports car. The distance is the same as that which sparated Cain and Abel from the electronic age and automobiles.
Ali Shariati's Fatima is Fatima (part xiii) The change from the traditional type of 'mother' to the new type of 'daughter' is inevitable. Face to face with this reality (whether it be the truth or an erroneous reality, it is certain), beginne rs who think and begin to write about this phenomenon of change, just hit the tip of the issue. They have not sensed the abusive language, accusations, aspersions, anger, fighting, pressure, punishments, inflictions and deprivations. They have not sensed the chains and iorns around their necks; they have never screamed or cried out in pain; they have never fainted from loss of strength. ... Those who act as guides, who give explanations, and suppositions in the name of faith, belief, religion and charity are also mistaken in trying to save each type of form which has been inherited from the past. They try to preserve old traditons and habits, and are referred to in the Quran as "tales of the ancients", 'the ancients', 'legends of the ancients', 'fathers of old', 'fables of the ancients', 'stories of yore'. These words all refer to the first traditios, frist myths and first fathers. But they see old as being synonymous with tradition. As a result, they call every change, including even change in dress or hair-do, 'infidelity'. They mistakenly believe that the spiritual source and the belief in submission (Islam) can only be preserved through the worship of tradition and anything which is old. T hey turn away from anything new, from any change and from any re-birth. Woman, in their view, must also remain as she is today because, simply enough, her form exists in th epast and has become part of social traditions. It may be 19th century, 17th century or even pre- Islamic, but it is considered to be religious and Islamic, therefore it must be preserved. They accept this view because it has become part of their way of life or because it suits their interests. They try to remain the sam andhold onto things of the past forever. They say 'Islam wanted it to be this way. Religion has taken this form. It should remain this until Judgment Day.' But the world changes. Everything changes. Mr. X and his son change. But a woman must retain her permanent form. In general terms, their point of view is that the Prophet sealed women into this f orm and she must retain the inclinations which make Haji Agha, (her husband) happy. He has moulded her. This type of thinking tends to lead us astray. If we wish to keep the forms because of our own inexperience, the inconsiderate speed of time itself will run us over. We must realize the destruction is also a reality. The insistence upon keeping these forms will bear no fruit because society will nver listen. It cannot listen because these are mortal customs. They try to explain social traditions, which have come into being through habit in religious terms. Ancient customs cannot be retained by the force of religion for if this were so, it would mean tha t religion is mortal. When we equate religion and social traditions, we make Islam the guardian of declining forms of life and society. We mistake cultural and historical phenomena with inherited, superstitious beliefs. Time comes along, and as it moves in haste, it changes habits, forms of life, social relationships, indigenous, historical phenomena and ancient, cultural signs. We mistaken ly believe the Islamic religion to be these social traditions. Aren't these great errors being committed today? Aren't we seeing them with our own eyes?
Ali Shariati Excerpts Fatima is Fatima (part xiv) There are three well-known methods of problem solving: Conservatism: is the method of approach used by the traditionalists and guardians of Traditions. It is used by a leader who guards society, preserving a phenomenon with his or her total being. Know ing all the superstitions of society, he or she still preserves them because of the more important role of guardian. The logic of the conservative is this: If we change the customs of the past, it as if we had separated the roots from the body of a tree. The social relationships which are preserved in that custom are connected to the body of society like a hierarchy of nerves. The society will suddenly fall into anguishing difficulties which are very dangerous. It is exactly because of this that after a great revolution, anguish and confusion and/or dictators come into being. They are binders and bound of each other. Hastily digging out the roots of socia l, cultural and traditional phenomena in a quick, revolutionary manner, will cause society to face a sudden void. The results of this void will be made apparent after the revolution subsides. Revolutionarism: is a method used by a leader who strongly and unconsciously tears out the roots of a phenomena because it is a custom based on old superstitions thereby making it reactionary and rotten. The reasoning of the revolutionary runs like this: By retaining out-dated customs, we keep society out-dated, living in the past. We will preserve stagnation. Thus a revolutionary leader says that we should do away with all forms we inherited from the past which clamp themselves like chains around our wrists, feet, spirit, thoughts, will and vision. We should suddenly break away and face eve ryone. All of our relationships to the past which were the least bit despotic or which were simply habit should be done away with . New rules should replace them. Otherwise, society remains behind , fanatic, and stagnant, bound to the past. Reformism: is a method put into effect by a person who believes in gradually changing tradition. This person lays the groundwork for gradual change in social conditions. This is a middle way betwe en the other two. The reasoning of the reformer is just as weak as that of the other two methods. He takes a third way believing that changes should be quiet and gradual. This method saves society from the stagnation of customs. Changes should be very gradual so that the different factions do not oppose each other. If change is gradual, the foundation of that society, their thoughts, will not take on a revolutionary form but rather will change over a long period of time. Programs should be phased to reach this end. But the method of reformism and gradual evolution usually faces the difficulty of negative, strong reactionary forms in the hands of internal and external enemies which occur during the long time per iod required by this method. The goal and purpose gradually changes. These forces either stop it or destroy it. If, for instance, we wished to change the ethics of our youth, or if we wanted to enlighten the thoughts of all people, we would be destroyed before we could reach our goal. Or, perhaps, corrupt, pr ovocating circumstances would dominate and deceive society and would paralyze us. A leader who tries to gradually bring about change in society through a relatively long period of time, believes that he used logic in calculating his programs but that which he does not take into account is the program of a neutralizing power which is against the changes. This force does not always give the time necessary in order to leisurely implement the gradual changes. The factors which were considered minor, are seeking an opportunity to make themselves manifest. Then the conciliation begins to slow ly spin the roots and the tables are turned.
Ali Shariati Fatima is Fatima (xv) The particular method of the Prophet stemming from his traditions. The Prophet preserves the form, the container of a custom which has deep roots in society, one which people have gotten used to form generation to generation, and one which is practiced in a natural manner, but he changes the contained, the contents, spirit, direction and practical application of this custom in a revolutionary, decisive and immediate manner. ... Take as an example, for instance, the pigrimage to Mecca. Before Islam, it wan an Arab custom, full of superstitious ancestor worship. It was a glorified type of idol worship which held economic ad vantage for the Qoraish tribe. It had gradually come to assume this form from the time of Abraham. Islam keeps the pre-Islamic custom within the context of the Abrahamic tradition, for at the same time that the pre-Islamic pigrims had used it for their idol worship, they believed that Abraham, the Friend of God, had build it (that is, the 'house', Ka'ba, which held their idols) ... The Prophet, with his revolutionary stand, takes the rite of pilgrimage of the idol worshipping tribes and changes it inot a custom completely contrary to, and opposite of, its original use. It is a revolutionary leap and notion. As a result, the Arab people undergo no anguish nor separation by going back to the time of Abraham, no loss of havin gtheir values thrown together, no loss of their beliefs, but rather, they sense the revival and truth or cleansing of their eternal customs. They move easily from idol worship to unity whereas centuries of history exist between them. Suddenly, a nd more unexpectedly than any cultural or intellecual revolution, society does not realize that it had left the past; it is not aware of the fact that the buildings and foundations of its idol worshi p have been torn down. This leap, this social method found within the Traditions of the Prophet is a revolution within a cutom which preserves the outer form but changes the content. (That is maintaining the container as the permanent element while changing and transforming that which is contained.) ... A clear-visioned intellectual, who is confronted by unused cutoms, ancient raditions, a dead culture and an unblievable metamophosis in their religion and social order, takes up the mandate of the Pr ophet rather than submit to the prejudices and beliefs which remain from the past and which put one to sleep. It is with this method that one can reach revolutionary goals without forcibly bearing a ll the conclusions and customs of a revolution and without opposing the basis of faith and ancient social values. By doing so, one does not remove oneself from people, nor does one become strangers to them...
Ali Shariati Excerpts Fatima is Fatima (xvi) One of my students, who was among the pseudo-enlightened of this country, drew only one conlusion from our conversations. As he was a supporter of dialectic materialism an dI was religious, a believ er in Islam, he rejected whatever I said because of his pre-conceived notions. Even if I said something hwich agreed with Marxism (and which he too should have agreed with) as I did'nt explaim to hi m whose idea it was, he rejected it. One day I was speaking about the murders committed by the Omayyids and the disagrements which existed between the classes. They had a political dictatorship which dominated religion in order to expl ain their situation. They wanted people to believe that whatever happened was God's will. This, they dsdid, was particularly true about their own government. I spoke about the people who opposed them and resisted the situation. I saw how my student suddenly became unhappy. I was opposing the Omayyids and praising Ali, Fatima, Abuzar, Hojr, and Hosein as leaders of a movement for justice an d human freedom and against prefjudices, oppression and ignorance. What could this first class enlightened thinker do? He yelled out, 'The despot is history!' That is according to the Marxist philos ophy of history, society must move through historic phases and it had to reach this stage in order for it to be a historic reality. Ali, Hosein, and Abuzar were ideologists who opposed the despotism of history. I said, 'The Mercy of God be upon this enlightened one.' I see that I was right in re-iterating ht efact that when the level of though and vision of a society is transformed, the religious, non-religious, enlightened, reactionary and ignorant scholar are all the same. When a religious view prevails, when it comes upon an unknown and uncomprehended fact, it calls it fate an destiny, meaning the Divine despot. It believes that whatever ocuurs is the Will of God. When a society becomes Marxist, it believes in the despotism of history. It believes that whatever happens is beyond human will. Whatever exists, is accepted because it is a reality which results from the despotism of history the dspot of society. I said, 'No, look my friend, the sword is the despot here, not history.'
Ali Shariati Fatima is Fatima (xvii) The weakening of the weak by the strong is also a reality. Reality seekers are completely objective viewers. They see the external form which is a scientific and sensible reality. Then they judge . They face no difficulties with imagination, ideology and ideas which are not translated into real form. ... Islam, as with realists, admits to their existence, but as opposed to realism, it does not accept the status quo but changes them. It changes their essence in a revolutionary way. It carries realit ies along with its ideals. It uses realities as a means to reach its idealistic goals, its real desires, which are non-existent by themselves. Unlike realists, Islam does not submit to realities, b ut rather, it causes the realities to submit ito it. Islam does not turn away from realities as idealists do. It seeks them out. It tames them. Through this means, Islam uses that which hinders t he idealists as a composite for its own ideals. ... If we deny realities, they will dominate us. Without knowing it, we will be pulled whereever they want us to go. As can be seen, realism is drowned in existing realities, whether good or bad. On t he other hand, realism can be seen running away from those very same realities. Idealists sacrifice more as they are imprisoned in the chains of useless customs. Realists move along with realities and accept them, whereas idealists, who do not recognize them, do not see them and deny them through their ignorance and their attachment to imaginary ideals. Idealists then face an attack; they fal l on their knees because they are defenseless, inexperienced and weak. They will be destroyed. We don't see the form that girls who are raised in very strict religious homes take. We don't see her when she covers her face so that, God forbid, the fish in the courtyard pool do not see her. What happens when she enters the ocean of society? She vigorously swims but she is so afraid that she loses control of herself and drowns. In order to make up for what she lacks now, she pays her fin e a thousand times over. The same is true for young men who grow up in a pious society. The nouveau riche have just moved from the former world of their idealistic pseudo-religious environment. There they were prohibited f rom learning physics or chemistry, or studying at the university. The women are forbidden to have a high school or college education. The men do not shave their beards; they sit in coaches instead of in buses or in taxis. They wear no neck-tie; they do not let their hair grow long; they do not change the form of their clothes or their hair-style. The neithr buy radios nor do they spread the word of the Quran through a microphone! Suddenly, these young people face the new world of realities, full of twists and turns.