By Samaneh Nourizadeh

Ayatollah Mesbah’s solutions for bringing Islamic Humanities into daily life

January 8, 2022 - 11:9

TEHRAN – Sheikh Abbas Ali Shameli, who is one of Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi’s students and has received his Ph.D. in Culture and Values in Education from McGill University in Canada, throws light on his teacher’s activities out of Iran.

Shameli, who is also a member of Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, says “Ayatollah Mesbah, influenced by Allameh Tabataba'i, believed that Quranic studies should create a new course for topical interpretation of Quran in Islamic Seminary of Qom. And our learned and well-educated scholars who have put most of their energy into sequential method is better now to pay more attention to topical method.  From the beginning of my studies, Ayatollah Mesbah classified the interpretation of Quran into 10 different topics including education, The Quran, theology, methodology, guidance, anthropology, sociological ethics and psychology which are available in his publications for those who are interested.”

The cleric emphasized that topical interpretations of the Quran and rational sciences were among the most important innovations of Ayatollah Mesbah and of course big achievements for Iran and the world. He added that Ayatollah Mesbah also made lots efforts in rational sciences including logic of philosophy, mysticism, and theoretical ethics.

Ayatollah Mesbah also believed that if we want to be fruitful for human being, we should open a new course of topical interpretation He added that Ayatollah Mesbah also launched World Institute for Compilation of Encyclopedia which left a huge influence on rational science. “His efforts in Quranic studies, rational studies, and Islamizing sciences will be continued by his students and will bear fruit in the next century because we believe there is a long way till we succeed in creating an Islamic version of social sciences and human sciences.  Ayatollah Mesbah opened our eyes toward this path and prepared the ground for us, and we must take the next steps toward it. 
Shameli believes Ayatollah Mesbah also established the Toloo-e Andisheh Center where the scholars who were his students gathered together and were sent to other cities and countries for the protection of religiosity. Mesbah used to speak up during important political and social events such as the Assembly of Experts, the Presidency, and the Parliament, etc., and encouraged his students to effectively participate in such events. He strongly believed that Prophet Mohammad’s religion should influence and guide human beings in all aspects, social and economic, and religious version of life must be different from irreligious version, and if achieved that is the true Mohammad’s Islam.  

“I think Islamizing sciences and the production of religious sciences which were inaugurated by Ayatollah Mesbah will be continued by his students, but it takes a considerable amount of time. Renaissance took three centuries, from the 16th to the end of the 19th century, in Europe where cultural and scientific reform took place, science and philosophy were finally separated and the current scientific courses were formed in the west. Perhaps we need a similar Renaissance and time span for Islamizing sciences, till Ayatollah’s scholars are able to educate new generations who succeed in the productions of religious sciences in different social and human fields,” Iranian scholar notes. 

“Ayatollah Mesbah put emphasis on taking advantage of western science and insisted to send a group of students at Islamic Seminary of Qom to other countries to help with the Islamizing process of sciences,” Shameli remembers, noting that “Ayatollah Mesbah stressed we should continue living in other countries despite our country’s financial difficulties because The Office of Cooperation between Seminary & University had found out that university instructors were deficient in terms of beliefs, values and religious teachings, while seminary instructors were familiar only with some general information not enough for Islamizing procedure. Therefore, he decided to educate a new generation of postgraduate seminary students and promote them to MA and Ph.D. levels in both seminary and university concepts to be able to accelerate the procedure of Islamizing sciences and production of religious science.” 

Making remarks on equivalent reflections between Ayatollah Mesbah and other prominent Islamic scholars in the world, Shameli argues, “Ayatollah Mesbah, same as Muhammad Baqer al-Sadr in al-Madrasah al-Qur'aniyyah believed if we want to apply Quran and Quranic teachings to real life, we must move from sequential interpretation toward a topical interpretation which means we have no way but to open new courses of Quranic studies.” 

Islamizing sciences and the production of religious sciences which were inaugurated by Ayatollah Mesbah will be continued by his students“Ayatollah Mesbah also believed that if we want to be fruitful for human being, we should move from traditional Quranic studies and interpretation and open a new course of topical interpretation. Topical interpretation means to find a problem and look it up in the Quran and find the truth in the form of question and answer,” he continued.

The story of Ayatollah Mesbah’s life is never limited to theoretical and abstract scholastic arguments. In fact, he always looked for the visible and sensible results of those arguments in people’s daily life. Emphasizing the importance of this approach, Shameli says that “Sheikh Alameh Mesbah and Muhammad Baqer al-Sadr both believed that if we want the Islamizing procedure to be implemented properly and constitute real achievements, we must render Quranic researchers experts and super experts at one of the branches of social or human sciences to be able to raise technical questions. Ayatollah Mesbah thought that the students who received their Master Degree [in related social and human sciences] in Qom and Iran must be sent to popular universities in the world and receive a Ph.D. degree if they are to be used for Islamic mythology. This was one of the most important consequences of Ayatollah Mesbah’s efforts to send us as students to foreign countries to take advantage of western science for the Islamizing process of the sciences.” 

“Ayatollah Mesbah always stressed that in the future we will be more cooperative in the development of human sciences and will move toward teamwork and Interdisciplinary majors. He emphasized that teamwork and interdisciplinary majors are currently two standard indexes in the world which accelerate the production of science. Therefore, if we want to Islamize something, we must use a team of several people so they can view that thing from different angles,” he remembers. 

One of Ayatollah Mesbah’s wishes for the future was that his students move from basic and theoretical critique toward comparative studies and field research. He also paid attention to moral education and emphasized that what has been presented in the field of moral education has been limited to expressing problems and vices. And in the second volume of Ethics in the Quran, in a chapter related to ethics and psychology, he sought to present the human psychological theory as a theoretical basis for education and ethics:

“He paid attention to the functions of religion and the employment of religion in political and social arenas. He believed that secularism means individualization and privatization which is not in line with what God and Prophet have said.  His second emphasis was on religious theoretical explanation of Velayat-e-Faqih and the employment of religion in human’s life. The idea of religious democracy against western democracy and the right of sovereignty among human beings, both politically and socially, is specific to God. And God Almighty has entrusted this right to the Prophets and Imams. But this right has inevitably been delegated to Velayat-e-Faqih in times of absence because it is the closest model to the model of a government. Ayatollah Mesbah not only in theory but also in practice was a keen follower of the Velayat-e-Faqih and always encouraged his disciples to respect it.”

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