Saturday, December 9, 2006

45)Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran.

I just read Mohammad Khatami's(former President of Iran) speech made at the Washington National Cathedral and this speech brings out some of the clear differences between shia and sunni Islam, in particular on the subject of the acquisition of different components of knowledge:

I liked parts of his speech, in particular, his assertion that rationally-acquired knowledge must be doctrinally entrenched as a valid component of total knowledge and he emphasized on more than one occasion the crucial importance of achieving a harmonious balance between revelation and reason. In a sense he was acknowledging that perhaps the east was over-relying on the revelation component as much as the west was on the rational component. Perhaps this dichotomy could serve as a nexus between the two, a link and bond of complementarity that could mutually benefit both sides.

This is music to my ears and my readings of the history of Islam reveal to me that the early shia, no doubt under the influence of their first Imam Ali, never restricted their acquisition of total knowledge to the revelational but also allowed generous contributions of rationally-acquired knowledge to enter the pantheon.

Address at the Washington National Cathedral, 7 September 2006 by Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran:

Excerpt from his speech: "Today, no other course is before us but that of recognition of the right of humankind to rule its own destiny and the manifestation of this right in democratic systems that ought not to be limited to liberal democracies. We also need to utilize science and technology, and it is now up to the East to understand its own spiritual wisdom in a way that enables it to utilize the accomplishments attained by the West without disregarding the more important spiritual and moral aspects of the human soul."
Mohammad Khatami

The full speech here:

This speech by Mohammad Khatami could go down in the annals of history as a watershed moment. It is the only speech I am aware of by a former high leader, outside the guidance of our 48th and 49th Imams over the past 120 years, which talks about the importance of creating a harmonious balance between knowledge that is handed down through divine revelation and that which man acquires by the use of his own rational intellect. He specifically mentions science and technology and therefore is referring to the link between science and religion. Compare this to the sunni approach taken by the Hanbali-Ghazzalian orthodoxy about 1000 years ago, which prosletyses the uncreated, eternal written Quran as the only valid source of knowledge and disallows rationally-acquired knowledge altogether.


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3