By Mohammad Mazhari

The engineer of a better intellectual world

February 13, 2021 - 15:37
Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts can embark an evolution in western humanities

Mahmoud Rajabi, professor of Islamic Sciences and the current president of Imam Khomeini Research and Education Institution believes that some western politicians and theorists developed a sense of hatred against Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi because his thoughts were strong enough to embark an evolution in western humanities.

"Due to his travels to other countries and lectures in different universities, Ayatollah Mesbah also managed to bring the weaknesses of western notions into consideration for western elite academics. So, it was quite natural that the West treat him as a threat and enemy. That's why they used all the power they had at their disposal, including their Iranian allies inside the country, to demolish the image of Ayatollah Mesbah at national and international", said Rajabi in an interview with the Tehran Times.

Rajabi also maintains the view that "Ayatollah Mesbah has outstanding standpoints regarding anthropology that can embark an evolution in western humanities and transcend it. There are noble theories Ayatollah Mesbah has developed in this field".

The following is the full text of the interview.

Tell us about the international character of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. How does the western world see Ayatollah Mesbah and his reflections?

Ayatollah Mesbah always felt a sense of duty to guide all human beings. So whenever he felt a certain school of thought is trying to create a deviation in the way of mankind to prevent man from achieving salvation, he considered his primary duty to shed light on the truth by enlightening people using his well-documented arguments and established logics. There were various cases regarding this altitude. For example, he took some parts of western cultures' components into consideration specifically. There were some groups of people in our own society that provoked those components in Iran with the purpose of institutionalizing them deep in Iranian culture.

These certain cultural components, in terms of intellectual bases and religious culture, were built upon weak and shaky foundations. They were also abused by those who intended to damage man's path towards human salvation. Tyrannical arrogant regimes were using the literature composed around these cultural elements to dominate and colonialize the nations. So, Ayatollah Mesbah felt the duty to explain and clarify the nature of these cultural or political components amongst which, was the notion of 'western democracy'.

Western democracy lacks a solid intellectual basis and is used by some as a cover for their illegal actions and autarchy. So, we've witnessed numerous times that despite there were documents, agreements, treaties, and decelerations introducing those notions as laws and regulations, the absolute contrary has happened in the real world. For instance, concurrent with the preparation of the human rights declaration by some western countries and efforts to present it as a global must-be-accepted document, the same countries were enslaving other human beings including black people and kept slavery alive for decades after the declaration. Even today, slavery exists in those countries which; may be different in form, but the same in essence.

Ayatollah Mesbah kept his tireless endeavor to clarify how notions like western human rights lack a firm and acceptable radix. These concepts, he argued, are based on epistemological relativity, secular mentality, and atheism. He also proved how some regimes abuse these concepts in practice and consider them merely as mottos deceive other nations. We've seen in real life that every time something has put the interests of the west in jeopardy, western countries have abused the notions of democracy and human rights to put other nations under pressure. They have labeled the most democratic countries of the world as terrorist countries. On the opposite side, these countries have always called the most obvious terrorists like the Zionist regime as a democratic entity and supported it.

Ayatollah Mesbah never stopped trying to open the eyes of the world to the true nature of what comes from the West. Therefore, we see that western politicians and theorists tried to portray Ayatollah Mesbah as the killer of democracy in Iran. By 'democracy', they meant the instrument they invented to justify tyranny, slavery, and colonialism. They had plans to institutionalize this deviant concept deep inside Iranian culture and politics. The enlightenments of Ayatollah Mesbah unveiled the truth about this conspiracy. Due to his travels to other countries and lectures in different universities, Ayatollah Mesbah also managed to bring the weaknesses of such western notions into consideration for western elite academics. So, it was quite natural that the West treat him as a threat and enemy. That's why they used all the power they had at their disposal, including their Iranian allies inside the country, to demolish the image of Ayatollah Mesbah at the national and international level by staging conspiracies or insulting and ridiculing him.

As you said, Ayatollah Mesbah had traveled to many different countries in his life. He had lectured for foreign elite academics and had debates with renowned theorists and scholars. Within the intellectual sphere, what part of western wisdom is the specific addressee of Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts. In other words, if a western intellectual or scholar, would face the opinions and thoughts of Ayatollah Mesbah regardless of political prejudice and other forms of bigotry, which part of Mr. Mesbah's opinions will amaze him/her more?

One part, with which a western intellectual can relate more, is the 'epistemological' part of Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts. Epistemology is the bedrock for all thoughts, values, and ideals. Knowledge is the core of epistemology. If we would mistakenly believe that knowledge in all its forms is a relative phenomenon and we cannot point out any definite certain form of knowledge, there will be no right and wrong anymore. As a result, the most arrogant bloodthirsty regimes will be equal to fair righteous regimes. In other words, if we embrace the relativity in knowledge, we will not be able to recognize or even define what is definitive justice and what is definitive injustice. Therefore, epistemology is a very important domain for which, Ayatollah Mesbah has provided precious acknowledgments for a western audience.
The other part of Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts valuable for a western intellectual is categorized under the topic of 'values'. We frame our values based on strong foundations and real backgrounds. In our viewpoint, there are two distinct groups of values: one group contains the values which are actually based on personal tastes. For example, one person might like color and the other might dislike it. Or two different persons can have two totally different feelings once confronting the same artistic painting. These are based on personal tastes and distinct personalities.

The other group of values contains certain facts; each possesses its own specific borders and frame. We consider these values as fixed and immutable facts because they are not rooted in personal tastes. These values are precious for every and each nation. For example, 'justice' in its true form which implies that the rights of every person must be given to them, is a global undeniable value that is praised equally by every nation. There might be disagreements in defining the notion of justice, but man can determine the territory of what is justice and what is injustice using realistic standards and criteria. It's not true to say that we will never be able to frame and define the decisive notion of justice. We cannot say sometimes justice is good and sometimes injustice is favorable. We cannot say there is no difference between justice and injustice. We cannot say it is impossible to enforce justice. These are the discourses we encounter under the category of 'values'. What is good and what is bad? What is right and what is wrong? Do we have such things as ethical beauty and ethical ugliness?

These are important questions that arise once the matter of understanding and organizing the values come in. The axial discussion of all legal and ethical orders in the world is the question of values. If we presume there are no fixed certain values in the world, the legal systems will have no difference with each other; we will not be able to differentiate the ethical systems of the world. Then, the morality of Satanists, terrorists, and fascists like Hitler will be equal with the morality of compassionate theists whose main concern is the salvation of mankind. 

Hence, the matter of values is a very important component in any discourse and Ayatollah Mesbah has discussed the issue in detail, providing an audience who is interested in the fate of mankind with an invaluable source of knowledge. His works in fields such as philosophy of ethics and philosophy of laws explain a lot about the essence of real values. A survey on these works clarifies the difference between Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts regarding human values and those of western secular mentalities.

Another part of Ayatollah Mesbah's intellectual teachings that a non-Iranian audience might find interesting is his opinions about 'anthropological' issues. Ayatollah Mesbah has outstanding standpoints regarding anthropology that can embark an evolution in western humanities and transcend it. There are noble theories Ayatollah Mesbah has developed in this field. The variety of issues that can be categorized under this topic is phenomenal. As I said, Ayatollah Mesbah's viewpoints regarding anthropology can upheaval western humanities. It can also influence the social plans and programs in western countries. A western scholar can gain valuable knowledge by accessing Ayatollah Mesbah's thoughts in this field as a source of information.
Of course, there are many other spheres we can mention, but I confine to pointing out a handful of them.

As the last question, please tell us a little about your personal experiences regarding your interactions with Ayatollah Mesbah. How were his personality and behaviors?

His biggest concern in doing everything, be it personal or social, was to assess the accordance of every action with man's duties and tasks as a servant of God. He always asked himself what is our divine duty? What God wants us to do? How God's prophets, especially Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) have asked us to be? He always acted in accordance with instructions presented by the holy prophets of God as the path to salvation in the material world and hereafter. Whenever something came up, his first question was how to arrange our actions so that God's satisfaction is achieved?

His second important characteristic was his special emphasis on working while using consultants provided by experts. Every major and sometimes minor decision he made in his life was after precise evaluation of the matter and consult with experts of the field. This altitude was aimed to identify the issue in detail and to earn enough information regarding the matter, so wise decision making would be achievable. There were numerous instances where an issue was brought up, but Ayatollah Mesbah's assessment brought him to conclude that the knowledge gathered about the issue was not enough and more consultant with experts is needed. So he asked for more research.

Ayatollah Mesbah was also impressively pious in terms of social etiquettes and common social mores. For some time, he was suffering severe back pain to the extent which physicians wondered how he could even tolerate the pain! But when a student or even an ordinary person had a question, he used to stand on his foot and lean against his hand stick to answer the question. During these conversations, he never acted in a way that implied he is tired or suffering. This was the respect he showed to the person who was interested in learning something.

He had a very distinguishing firm set of moral codes he never violated. He always respected the dignity of people. In some rare cases, when something happened that remotely had the quality of insulting or he felt the dignity of a person had not fully reserved, he apologized times and times. He was not ashamed of apologizing.

He used to sit for hours with students and students of his students to hear their opinions. Sometimes he preferred the opinions of his students over his own. He never worried about/feared of being criticized. Of course, he was really sensitive about religious and human values, but if somebody insulted him, he wouldn't mind at all. The only thing he cared about was the truth to be clarified and understood.

His other characteristic was his respectful behaviors when criticizing the thoughts and opinions of others, especially those of his own professors. When he wanted to criticize the views of others, he always used expressions like "I might have got it wrong" or "it might be also true to say that…". He never used even a word that implied someone's opinion is invalid or null. He paid huge respect to his masters and even his contemporaries. Sometimes he even bent to kiss the hand of a person who was contemporary to him, not even higher in quality and quantity of knowledge.

However, whenever he felt a person is deliberately trampling religious, Islamic, and human values, he never remained silent because he believed he had a duty to protect and preserve these values.

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