Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,
OK- I'm just taking this questions the way they were given to me. I don't know the order they came in so don't hold me responsible for that. The first one in front of me says…
Q: How do you explain " Muslims who want to be like that white man in the elevator in order to influence public opinion about Muslims?"
Imam Al-Asi: This is of course in reference to the example I gave in the presentation. Well you know these types are- first of all, I don't think they know who they are and they are beholden to those who are in possession of worldly facilities and they've lost track of their Islamic principles. A Muslim does not want to be like anyone else except who he or she is. If they want to try to imitate someone else or act like someone else then eventually they become that someone else and no rituals should camouflage them. This infers another issue and that is (that) many of us we define Muslims by rituals. This is one of the historical baggages or loads that we carry with us. We are not defined by rituals. Rituals is obviously part of who- but they are just that, part of who we are; they are not who we are or whom we should be. They are not! The Qur’an is the best reference of this. When Allah speaks about people losing their identity they don't lose their identity because they no longer practice their rituals. Bani Isra’eel didn't lose its way because they didn't practice their rituals. They were intensely practicing their rituals but they were not loyal to the social justice issues that Allah entrusted them with so they lost their identity and we are not an exception to the rule. If we don't carry our social justice responsibilities we are no longer Muslims. You can perform thousands of rak'aat every day, you can fast three hundred days a year, you can go to the hajj every year and the umrah in addition to that but that does not make you the person who you are supposed to be.
Q: And here the second question says how do mustad’afeen protect themselves from being oppressive when they rise to power.
Imam Al-Asi: This takes a book to answer. You know power corrupts. When some individuals reach the positions of power they begin to corrupt themselves. I mentioned this in the khutbah just yesterday- one Western philosopher says something like “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The ayah in the Qur’an says
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ
أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ
It’s human nature- people who reach the position of what they consider to be self-centered power and no need of the other then they begin to abuse this power. (Surah Al Alaq verse 5-6)
When the power that they have is manipulated in a monopolised way then corruption begins there. One of the features of the late Imam and the current Imam is that they are not corrupted by power. You can notice, (I leave this up to your acumen and your insight), when some individuals have power some thing happened. Before they gained power they were very nice, very acceptable but when they began to exercise this power something happened- it is like this type of power got to them so they began to, in a certain way, misbehave. So you know I think people who are assigned positions of power should be scrutinized and I think if we look at the Islamic Republic of Iran I think they are very conscious of this and that's what they are doing.
Q: Please explain the concept of wilayat al faqih. Can compare it with the Sunni concept of political leadership?
Imam Al-Asi: I mean do you want me to stay here for another hour? Wilayat al faqih simply means the allegiance authority that belongs to the qualified Islamic scholar- that is as simple as it gets. What is dynamic about this concept is that Al Imam Al Khomeini regenerated the political responsibilities of the Muslims at a time when they went dormant- in particular those who belong to the Shi’i persuasion who sort of felt like “in the absence of the twelfth Imam political responsibilities at the level of al wilayah or al imamah should be left up to the advent of the twelfth Imam not to the qualified Islamic scholar.” Wilayat al faqih is a revolutionary concept in the sense that it galvanized these hitherto politically inactive Muslims to assume their Islamic responsibilities and say, (I don't want to borrow this phrase but it just came to my mind), “yes we can.” So they assumed that responsibility. Imam Al Khomeini was the first one to assume that responsibility and after him Imam Al Khamene’i. Now the second part of this question is “compare it with the Sunni concept of political leader.” There's not very much written in the Sunni library about Islamic political leadership. There's a lot of other books about a lot of other subjects (but on) this particular one you will find very few books on this subject. To put it in a few words the divergence between the concept of wilayat al faqih is that- because Sunnis also went down into different definitions- generally speaking their concept of a leader is contingent upon and exclusively upon what is referred to in Western social sciences as “a social contract” which more or less means the leader in the Islamic domain needs by necessity to have the approval of whatever population base that leader is located in; but there are terms in some Sunni books, I'll give one of those terms called Ahl al Hal wa al Aqd. This more or less means legislators. Al Hal wa al Aqd is to legislate certain policies and then to un-legislate certain other policies- not laws; the laws are there in the Shari'ah (and) everyone knows we can't do that but there are procedures and policies that go with Shar’i law and some of these writers, (as scarce as they are who write about this issue), tell us that Ahl al Hal wa al Aqd are the ones who are more or less entrusted with finalizing the process of a legitimate Islamic leader. But I want to say here, (before I go on to another question), in the Qur’an, (I thank the introducer (or) the moderator for mentioning that I’ve been working on a tafseer of the meanings of the holy Qur’an in the English language. I humbly say that this is the first tafseer written in the English language about the meanings of the noble Qur’an and I’ve been doing this for about thirteen to fourteen years and I found out), there’s not enough information. Look- in the Qur’an there are Qur’anic terms: the first one is wilayah or walayah. Walayah is a Qur’anic word which is mentioned in the Qur’an in different surahs. Another word in the Qur’an is hukm- it’s also a Qur’anic term; it’s in the Qur’anic vocabulary mentioned in different surahs of the Qur’an, (the English language is the language that I’m working on to bring the meanings of the Qur’an to the English language (and) because life here is refined to such a degree that you can't generalize you have to become a little more precise about words), and here is where I realized that we Muslims have not done enough thought as to accurately discern wilayah from hukm. That hasn't been done. I'm sorry to say (that). I'm not trying to break new grounds and to tell you something but it is just something that I have come across and I observed. We haven't had enough discriminating (and) discerning information- these are two different words and the ayaat of the Qur’an are obvious.
هُنَالِكَ الْوَلَايَةُ لِلَّهِ الْحَقِّ
… over there, al wilayah, belongs to Allah, Al Haqq… (Surah Al Kahf verse 44)
وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا
Whoever has as their allies Allah, His Messenger and Alladhina Aamanu… (Surah Al Maa’idah verse 56)
The other one is
أَفَحُكْمَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ ۚ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حُكْمًا لِّقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ
Is it the governance of jahiliyyah that they seek and who could be better to govern than Allah? But only people of certainty are aware of this. (Surah Al Maa’idah verse 50)
Anyways it goes on and on. So this area still has to be developed. I can go on and on but obviously I have more questions here.
Q: Many say that the Wahabbis/the Saudis are the problem not America or Israel. What supports the contrary?
Imam Al-Asi: I think this, in a sense, is a rhetorical question because the Wahabbi/Saudis and the Zionist and Imperialists all form one body. One of them cannot function without the other. So when you try and come and say “who is responsible…” They have roles that they play. Saudi Arabia does things that Israel and America can't do- so it’s necessary for it to do those things so that the Washington and Tel Aviv will have it their way. Tel Aviv can do things that Saudi Arabia can't do- so it is necessary for Tel Aviv to do those things. Saudi Arabia can play havoc in the internal psychology of Muslims- the Washingtonians and the Tel Avivians can't do that; the Israelis can drop bombs on Muslims but if the Saudi Arabians want to do that they will be committing political suicide- so they have to help themselves in that regard. Can we see it like that? If you do then you have come a long way there.
I'm told that I'm supposed to end at 8.30p.m. I have about, (my watch tells me), I have one minute (and) I don't know what I can answer here in one minute- maybe the shortest question I find in front of me. Maybe this one, even though this could take another half an hour but it is the shortest that I have in front of me.
Q: What do you predict about the situation in Syria now?
Imam Al-Asi: With a minute left, (well that clock over there gives me two minutes), the situation in Syria is very unpredictable. They want me to predict here, I'll tell you it is very unpredictable in the near future. A lot of things can happen this year and next year- it's very fluid. (Oh, thank you very much for the generosity; someone chipped in ten more minutes. Thank you! That gives me a little more comfort in answering this question). (I mention these things in different venues and I was here last year and I think the Syrian issue was also on everyone’s mind at that time but many times I summarize the Syrian issue like this and every time everyone gets upset with me when I say this- well mostly everyone; some of them who really understand appreciate this summarization). When Al Imam Ali (alayhi as salaam) was asked about the Khawarij- who broke away from him who were referred to in another hadith as maarikin- when they came out and said la hukm ill li Allah. You see- when we speak about hukm here they didn't say la walayah illa li Allah. Some people listening to this came to Ali and asked him what do you say about this? They are saying you, Muawiyah, Amr ibn Al Aas have to go because all of you are claiming this position and this position belongs only to Allah? So he said, (it is a very eloquent answer to their question), the words are true but the intentions concealed in these words are false or the intentions are false even though the words are true. To take that same statement and to place it in the Syrian context- there are two things that, before I break this down for you, no one should have any doubt about because if you do I think your emotions are playing with you at the expense of your rationale self. The first issue is (that) there should be no doubt in the world that the number one enemy of the Israelis is Hizbullah and the Islamic leadership in Iran- number one and no one in their right mind should have any question about this because this plays into what is happening in Syria. The other issue that no one should have any doubt about in their mind is that the Syrian people do not have a representative government. I know this places me in a hard position because the Baath Party in Syria, (if you’re following what’s happening there), the Israelis and the Americans and their Arabian extensions they have been saying in the past two plus years “they will accept Baath rulers to Syria” meaning persons like Farouq Ash Shara' or some other individuals belonging to the Baath Party. They have no problems with that, so what’s their problem? They are not looking out for the Syrian people; what they are looking out for is they want to dislodge the faction of the Syrian government that has maintained a principled position vis a vis the overall strategy of liberating Palestine. That’s why they tell you “Bashar Al Asad has to go!” Well, what’s wrong? Why does he have to go? Why doesn't the whole Baath system have to go from Syria? They never say that. If you tune in, pay close attention to what they are saying- they never tell you “the Baath government in Syria has to go” they always say “Bashaar has to go.” Those who claim they represent the Syrian people i.e. the opposition, the voices in Washington, in European capitals and in Tel Aviv all of them say “Bashaar Al Asad has to go!” Now you ask yourself why they saying Bashaar has to go? They're not concerned whether the Syrian people are represented or not! They say that for propagandistic purposes. They want to sell their strategy so they say “Oh they feel sorry for the Syrian people.” You feel sorry for the Syrian people?! Then why are they arming the Israelis with everything that they want who are using all the weapons that they have against what the Syrian people stand for?! With the internal differences among the Syrian people (and) with the exception of a lunatic crazy political fringe who sold its soul to the devil in Washington and Tel Aviv all the Syrian people are against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The issue is here that the President of Syria, Bashaar Al Asad, was offered a lot of things in the past years- it has been going on for ten plus years. He was approached by the Americans, by the Europeans by the Israelis- not him personally, his representatives who have been with some Israelis in Turkey, in Europe, in Cyprus and in other places and what do they want? They weren't looking for the rights for the Syrian people. They didn't care. They weren't saying “we want the Syrian people to have a representative government” like they are saying right now for propaganda purposes. No they weren't saying that. What they were saying to them in these secret meetings was “we want you to break your strategic relationship with Tehran”- that's what we want you to do “and if you do that your economy is going to flourish and we will reach some type of understanding about the Golan heights may be demilitarizing the Golan Heights; we will assure you and yours a continuation of unending political future- everything you want. The only thing we want you to do is severe relations with Tehran.” That's what he didn't do. If this person was looking for a quick way out of this, if he wasn't principled in his position with the policy to liberate Palestine emanating from the Islamic Republic he would have easily said “oh yeah I'm going to go ahead with your plans.” In his Baathi company, others wanted that option, they said “let's take it. Let's go with the Europeans, the Americans and then obviously with the Israelis- look at what we are going to get in exchange for that.” You know- they were being fooled. They didn't know that they were being fooled and he wasn't being fooled. So you know now they have him as a target- “he has to go.” So here is how we have it. To go back to Ali's statement the words are true but the intentions concealed in these words are false, the revolt in Syria a legitimate revolt meaning that in its origins- this is before the trouble makers came on the line and they began this internal civil war- the people themselves all they were asking for was a representative government. So the initial steps were valid. There's nothing wrong for people asking for a representative government. No one can find fault in any people in the world for asking for a representative government but the intention behind this is false. You understand? Then on the other hand the Syrian government itself- we’re not talking about factions within the ruling party, we’re not talking about the President’s steadfastness in his policies with the Islamic Republic to liberate Palestine, the support to Hizbullah, etc. we’re not talking about that; we are talking about the government as it sits with its own people- is an invalid government by however way you want to look at it. Forget about the Syrian policies towards the Islamic Republic, towards the occupation of Palestine, forget about it’s external policies; strictly internally speaking it's an invalid government but the intention behind this invalid government is an intention of haqq (i.e.) to liberate Palestine and many Muslims got strewn across this line. They just couldn't see the full spectrum. Some of them are caught in one part of the equation the others are caught in the opposite part of the equation. If you can see the whole picture in a healthy and in a wholesome way! This more or less characterizes it. In the middle of all of this the Syrian people now are suffering the consequences.
You know the Syrian people were in a sense very hospitable to their neighbors. When there were problems in Lebanon the Lebanese fled to Syria. No one heard of Lebanese camps in Syria. When the Palestinians had problems they fled to Syria. Some very high ranking Syrian officials in the government are Palestinian or of Palestinian origin. They weren't discriminated against. When the Iraqis had problems in Iraq and they crossed the borders into Syria they didn't live in refugee camps. They were met with hospitality inside Syrian homes and families. Now the Syrian people themselves are forced into refugee status and we find them in the hundreds of thousands in refugee camps in Turkey, in Jordan, in Lebanon. One and a half million of them (are) externally displaced- they had to flee the country altogether; inside of Syria around four thousand people are displaced inside their own country, they leave one city or one town to another city and another town. This is a tragedy that is happening. In the middle of this to be honest, (we’re not trying here to play politics, we are trying to be honest- the Imam's way), the Syrian people don't have representatives. These people who say “they are the opposition, they are the rebels and they are the revolutionaries, etc.” don't represent the Syrian people. One of these characters came to Washington DC. He left Syria in the 1980's and he went to the Israeli parliament and he said “we have no problems, if we come to power, with having normal relations between Damascus and Tel Aviv.” These types of figures don't represent the Syrian people. So this so called Free Syrian Army, The National Syrian Council, the guys that meet in Geneva and some European capitals in Paris and Istanbul, in Qatar Doha, in Cairo in these capitals don't representing the Syrian people. These are armchair revolutionaries. They are getting paid. $5billion in the past two years have been paid to these people. What do they do with this money? Some people are making a lot of money out of the misery of their own people!
I'm sorry I'm out of time. I have much more questions here in front of me. I beg your pardon for not having the time to answer them all. Thank you very much for your presence and your patience.
Wa Salaamuhu wa Rahmatuhu wa Barakaatuhu