involvement of clerics in political action.
Religious men have the right and the duty to engage in politics, but
their views and stands could be challenged, especially by those who
argue in an objective and academic way.
in his weekly seminar the following question: What is the
Islamic position from the participation of the religious men
(clerics) in politics?
Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah said:
Such a question
requires a multi-phased approach
Participating in politics is a natural right for religious men,
for two reasons.
Politics, as we deduce from our study of the Holy Quran, is part
of the movement of religions to achieve its goals. Allah says in
His Glorious Book: “Certainly We sent
Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the
Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with
equity” (57:25). And this (conducting with equity)
cannot be achieved without politics.
The religious man is but a man like any other one in the
society. Hence, he has the right to be interested in things that
are of concern to the society, including politics. To deprive
the religious man of this right is a kind of discrimination
against him. In this respect, this idea might be one of the
corollaries of secularism, which separated religion from the
reality, despite the fact that several religious men, Muslims
and non-Muslims alike, have played a positive role in the
development of their societies.
The political stance that might be taken by the cleric is not,
by necessity, the right one, just as his conception of the
religion, might not be the right one too. His thought is but a
product of his political and religious culture or education, and
as such it represents his personal understanding of what is
right, which means that others have the right to discuss his
opinions and differ with them, provided that they adhere to the
objective academic principles.
It follows that
clerics do not have the right to exploit their religious
positions to persecute people in their thoughts or relevant
When a religious man participates in politics, it should be
based on religious values, and not on the basis of what is
prevalent in the political domain that holds that politics is
the art of the possible. Nevertheless, the realism of Islamic
values allows a certain kind of flexibility that does not
contradict with the strategic issues, and this is what the
Muslim jurists and scholars had institutionalized when they
talked about the "competition" between what is
important and what is more important, and when they described
the relations between the primary priorities (titles) and the
making such judgments requires both a high level of religious
knowledge in its various fields, and an ability to diagnose the
political reality on the ground in an accurate manner, so as to
ensure that the existing pressures will not divert one’s
position out of their virtuous Islamic goals.
If the cleric is to engage in political activity, he has to
avoid doing so in a marginal way. On the contrary, he has to
follow up all what goes on in the world, which has become a
global village with interacting relations and problems. He
should also attain a political knowledge that would qualify him
to make informed judgments. Furthermore, He ought to rely on the
help of the experts in the various fields, as well as
As for the religious authority that represents a position of
leadership, we believe that the religious authority should not
be engaged or consumed, in details. He has to concentrate on the
needs of the Islamic nation, seeking to address its present
problems and future aspirations.
If the religious
authority represents an extension to the line of the Message,
those who led this line in the past used to open up on all the
issues and not limited concerns. The needs of Muslims have grown
different nowadays that they no longer conform with the
traditional manner the religious authority used to conduct
itself with, making it necessary for the religious authority to
address the major issues of Muslim nation on the basis of the
religious values they both believe in.
especially the religious authorities, have to articulate the
Islamic position towards the major issues of the entire nation,
such as opposing occupation, unveiling arrogant plots that are
executed under the pretense of fighting terrorism, denouncing
the explosions that kill innocent people in mosques and other
places, emphasizing the difference between terror and resistance
and rejecting the western concept of religious fundamentalism
that considers violence as the basis of change. All this aims at
establishing the Islamic thought as the foundation of political
action and enriching the Islamic culture in theory and practice
in the collective conscience of the nation.