Imam Khomeini's view on Islamic Unity

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As we mark the 22nd Anniversary of the sad demise of Imam Khomeini RA, the Islamic world is witness to unprecedented events of Islamic awakening which signify growing unity among Muslim masses. Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was a pioneer of unity in the contemporary world.

In this article we shall briefly point to some aspects of Islamic Unity from the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini.

It is worth noting that throughout his life, from the very beginning, during his social, political activities, and religious activities, Imam Khomeini always emphasized practical solutions to the problems plaguing Muslims. He endeavored to remove sectarian discord, which is actually the result of political polarization in the early days of the history of Islam.

One major example of Imam Khomeini's initiative for Islamic Unity is the establishment of the Islamic Unity Week. This week spans 12-17 Rabi al-Awwal the two dates believed to be the auspicious birthday of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).

The Islamic Unity Week is undoubtedly the brainchild of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, who as one of the great reformers took this dynamic move to foster solidarity in the Muslim World.

He realized that bridging the gaps of the centuries is impossible without intellectual measures, for the current stagnation of the Islamic world including divisions, is the result of various factors including the intellectual and cultural decline of Muslims and the hegemony of colonialist powers and despotic regimes over them. Redressing this wrong is indeed a gargantuan task and needs mobilization of Muslims all over the globe. But this is not impossible despite the obstacles thrown in the way of Islamic unity by the pro-western regimes ruling Muslim states, in view of the fact that despite minor differences, the Islamic world is a monolithic entity which enjoys historical, cultural, political and religious commonalities. For this reason, regarding the return to the original culture of Islam, the Late Imam had said: "We Muslims enjoy a rich culture. So Muslims should rediscover themselves and their own innate culture. The oppressed nations' biggest dependence on superpowers is intellectual dependence more than the political one, and in order to overcome this deficiency what is required is intellectual dynamism amongst Muslims. Music

In Imam Khomeini's thought Islam is an intellectual and practical creed which caters to all needs of human life. Islam is the code of life, and should be properly understood. According to Imam Khomeini, the dynamism of Islam transcends national, political, and geographical borders, as well as personal interests.

Imam Khomeini's practical strategies for materializing unity were based on his approach towards the factors and causes of discord in the Islamic world. The Imam considered foreign agents as the most important factor of discord in the Islamic world believing that these mercenaries are engaged in undermining unity in Islamic societies. The Imam said in this regard: Those who want to loot the resources of Muslims put the yoke of oppression on Muslim people first to sow the seeds of discord among Muslims. They sometimes create differences between the Shiites and Sunnis. This is in fact, a major tool of the enemies and the ignorant amongst the Muslim easily fall prey to it. Those who raise sectarian differences are neither Sunnis nor Shi'ites, and are in fact, consciously or unconsciously agents of the superpowers. The Imam considered any ethnic and religious discord which overshadows the solidarity of Muslims as improper and stressed the commonalities among all denominations of Islam, like belief in God, the Prophet, the holy Qur'an, etc.

Imam Khomeini believed that the leaders of Islamic states can materialize Islamic unity since they possess all executive powers for working towards the shaping of the united Islamic government. The Imam also believed that the Islamic governments should create a common front against their common enemies through cooperation with each other. He believed that the huge economic resources of Islamic states can be one of the main factors of the united power of Muslims against the superpowers. Therefore the Imam stressed economic cooperation as a priority over other all other kinds of cooperation. He said: "If the Islamic governments which possess everything close ranks, they will become truly independent without the need to rely on the exploitative big powers. But the main problem is that most of the regimes ruling Muslim states act as clients to the big powers without care and concern for Islamic solidarity. From Imam Khomeini's viewpoint, the enlightened uelma can guide Muslims towards solidarity by making them aware of the dangers of discord.

Another factor for materializing unity in the Islamic world, from the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini is taking into consideration the religious gatherings like the annual Hajj pilgrimage, and the Friday and daily congregational prayers. The Imam realized the deep role of these gatherings in shaping social relations and stressed their impact on creating potent political movements.

Inviting Muslims to unity, he strove to implement the lofty teachings of Islam in the political, social, cultural and economic fields. Preservation of dignity, independence and freedom of Muslims, establishment of peace and tranquility, prevention of Muslims' exploitation, regaining the Islamic identity and overcoming scientific and cultural deficiency is necessary for economic self-sufficiency and political independence.

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