Ghadir makes politics ethical: Abdulaziz Sachedina

TEHRAN, Aug. 29 (MNA) – Abdulaziz Sachedina, a professor of Islamic studies at George Mason University in Virginia, tells the Tehran Times that the event of Ghadir provides “foundation of analytical philosophy” and makes “politics ethical”.

Sachedina also says, “The paradigm provided by the event of Ghadir is so universal that no one with minimum understanding of the world politics today can deny its legitimacy in the development of the international ideal of human rights or just political order.  

Sachedina has been conducting research and writing in the field of Islamic law, ethics, and theology for more than two decades. Following is the text of the interview with him:

There are certain important events such as Bi’sat, Ghadir, and Ashura in Islam. Please explain about the status of Ghadir?

Ghadir like Bi’sat are critical moments in the history of Islam.  Whereas Bi’sat marks the beginning of the Prophet’s mission, Ghadir marks the continuation of that mission.  In both cases the selection of the leadership involved important issues related to the leadership and the future mission of the Muslim Umma.   Nubuwwa and Wilaya are the two essential processes of implementing the vision of justice and truth in Islam.  The elements that led to the events of Ashura are linked with these two institutions of guidance of humanity to establish the rule of law and justice in Muslim community.  Hence, Ghadir is both the continuation of the Nub uwwa and the culmination of Shahadat of Imam Husayn in Karbala.  It is not possible to understand Karbala without exploring the meaning of prophethood and wilayat in Islam.

What is significance of Ghadir in the history of Shiism?

It is impossible to imagine Shiism without understanding the two important and key events of early Islamic history: Bi’sat and Ghadir.  Shiism was a path that undertook to challenge injustices and the wrongs that were being perpetrated by political and tribal forces of the 7th century Arabian culture.  Undoubtedly, Shiism rose as an opposition to the pre-Islamic tribal hegemony, and throughout the history it stood out as an alternative to the oppression and suppression practiced by the Umayyads and the Abbasids, and other political dynasties.  Ghadir clearly demonstrated the moral force of a minority that believed in a qualified leadership of the Umma.  That was the sole strength of Shiite teachings.  

How Ghadir has affected fiqh in Shiism?

The development of fiqh (interpretive jurisprudence) was dependent upon admission and legitimization of reason as an important tool to understand and apply the revelation.  But reason on its own cannot remain clear to its essential goal of discovering the truth by studying the revelatory (vahyani) sources of religious law.  The wilaya was founded upon the qualification of the leadership.  Not every or any member of Banu Hashim qualified to assume wilayat.  Imam Ali was not only qualified in terms of his religious and moral standing among the early followers of the Prophet; rather, he was groomed by the Prophet to undertake elaboration of his teachings for the Umma.  Hence, from its inception Ghadir provided legitimacy for al-insan al-kamil to become a legal-moral personification of Islam.  This was the heart of the fiqh that the Ahlul-Bayt taught to their close and intelligent companions and to the community.  Their qualification was their attention to the Imam’s teachings and to maintain a good character to produce reliable religious and ethical guidance for the betterment of the community.  Ahl al-Sunna wa al-jama’a needed the ijma’ of  the scholars to make fresh discoveries in fiqh.  The problem of ijma’ was that there was no guarantee that the majority would always support the truth.  History shows how the fuqaha’ of the Sunni compromised with the rulers to make those new decisions, that were, sometimes, contrary to the truth of the Qur’an.

Is Ghadir a philosophical notion?

Ghadir provides us with the foundation of analytical philosophy, the process in philosophy that is based on the premise that being (wujud) is dynamic and that the dynamic nature of being should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality (haghighat) and our place within it. Even though we experience our world and ourselves as continuously changing, some forms of reality (like Ghadir) provide dynamic features of the way ideas about qualified leadership reveal to the searcher the meaning of what is dynamicity that directs us to become better than what we are based on the way we experience reality of Imam Ali’s wilayat and the ways we should interpret this metaphysically.  Metaphysically, wilayat is part of God’s plan for the future of humanity and its concrete ideal to establish justice on earth.  It is also metaphysically that the wilayat of Ghadir will transform the expectation of the appearance of the Mahdi in future as the one who will  assume the wilayat of Imam Ali to establish the rule of justice and equity on earth.

What has been the purpose behind resistance against Ghadir throughout the history?

Islamic history has recorded for us the struggle for the establishment of justice and equity in the world.  There is no need for me to go into details of the events.  Suffice it to say that had the conclusion of Ghadir been accepted by the Umma then the issue that would have determined the future movement of Islamic civilization would have been the Ideal of Justice and Equity.  At no time did the Umma, until now, has been able to create what the wilayat of Imam Ali promised on the day of Ghadir.

What is the status of Ghadir in the Shia political thought?

The worldview that the Quran projected was based on the wilayat of Allah – the devotion and acceptance of God’s authority in the universe.  That wilayat was assumed by the Prophet and then on the Day of Ghadir it was given to Imam Ali.  This wilaya is the foundation of Islamic Political Thought – which is actually the cornerstone of the Imamiyya Shia political thought.  If you remove Ghadir from history, then what is left of the Quran?  The Quran is the only religious document that speaks of the qualified human leadership.  In the story of Abraham, God makes it clear that Imamate will not be given to the unjust person, even if he happens to be a descendant of the Prophet.  Today, the contemporary politics evidently show the problem of leadership in world organizations like the UN or any other parliamentary or monarchical systems.  Where is this leader?  Who can promise in truth the establishment of justice today?

In Your view, can Ghadir become universal? Are the people in the world receptive to it?
The paradigm provided by the event of Ghadir is so universal that no one with minimum understanding of the world politics today can deny its legitimacy in the development of the international ideal of human rights or just political order.  Ghadir came to show that ultimately, humans need to trust God for God’s guidance in developing a just political order.  Look at different ideologies until the end of contemporary international relations the way these ideologies have created untold miseries of the world community.  Ghadir announced with great clarity that only God knows who can bear the burden of the divine Trust (amanat) that is wilayat.  The UN has failed to establish peace on earth; the great powers have engaged in their own aggrandizement.  Who care for the Truth and Justice?  Who works for that?  Every other country in the Muslim world is crying the slogan about “Islam is the solution.”  Where is the solution coming from if the Qur’an and the Sunna can be abused and manipulated by politicians and religious leaders around the world?  Can we have the ideal world without Ghadir’s message being implemented?  Everybody knows that as long as the politics remain unethical people will suffer around the world.  The invitation of Ghadir is to make politics ethical and firmly founded on the commitment to improve the lives of those who suffer and who are ill-treated by the unjust systems in the name of racism, supremacist ideologies, economic imbalances and so on.  It is time to re-appropriate the message of Ghadir: only a qualified individual can assume the discretionary authority invested by the Divine Wilayat. 

Interview by Javad Qanbari


News Code 137256


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