Political Basira: The Islamic Thought of Ayatollah Isa Qassem
This is the introduction to a research series “The Islamic Thought of Ayatollah Isa Qassem” which examines his holistic worldview.
This is the introduction to a research series for Basira Press — “The Islamic Thought of Ayatollah Isa Qassem” — which examines his holistic worldview, which extends from politics to philosophy to social interactions, and much more, so that believers may benefit from a man whose ocean of knowledge and righteous conduct led to his Bahraini citizenship being arbitrarily revoked as a tool of political censorship of the light of truth by a kingdom of falsehood and darkness.
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) says, “Working without insight is like walking randomly. The more one walks the more they get farther.”
Basira (Arabic for Insight) means approaching matters in a conscious way that enables a person to distinguish between truth and falsehood, between the oppressor and the oppressed, between evil and good, without any confusion.
It preserves the truth, supports the oppressed, serves humanity, and confronts all aggressive propaganda against the authentic Islamic identity. This is the reason behind shedding light on the significance of political insight, particularly in the thought of a scholar and a jurist who has melted into Islam and devoted his entire life to defending the truth and supporting the oppressed.
Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassem of Bahrain, who was a student of the pioneering philosopher Martyr Sayed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, has indeed paid great attention to this matter as reflected in his intellectual and political wisdom. The Faqih (righteous Islamic scholar) has a vision that has long thwarted the vicious schemes of the Bahraini regime, sparing the country and people from hazardous deviations, from the 1970s until today.
A stubborn leader who cannot be compromised, and who has become a true model who Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) describes as, “If it hadn’t been for those fuqaha (righteous Islamic scholars) who remain after the absence of your Qa’im [the Mahdi] who call unto people to follow him, lead to him, protect his religion by the argument of Allah, save the weak servant of Allah from the traps of Iblis and his demons and the Nasibies, everyone would have abandoned his religion, but they are the ones who hold the hearts of the weak followers steadfast like how the captain of the ship holds its passengers. Those are the greatest to Allah.”
His Eminence believes that political insight is a religious responsibility on the shoulder of each Muslim who seeks to achieve lofty goals, the most prominent of which is to become the “Khalifatullah – the Representative of God,” and to reform and better the entire humanity.
Verily, people cannot be insightful if they turn a blind eye to the spread of corruption, the outburst of injustice, the looting of wealth, the desecration of homelands, the appeasement of tyrants, and the exclusion of religion as expressed in the Holy Qur’an (3:146-147): “Imagine how many devotees fought along with their prophets and never faltered despite whatever losses they suffered in the cause of Allah, nor did they weaken or give in! Allah loves those who persevere. And all they said was, ‘Our Lord! Forgive our sins and excesses, make our steps firm, and grant us victory over the disbelieving people.’”
The first premise, according to the Faqih, to play this role is the spiritual aspect of the human so that they become, as Islam desires, “good, healthy, strong, productive for himself, his society, in this world and the hereafter.”
They who have a firm Basira attain their goals despite falsehood, deviation, and satanic temptations, with the condition that the heart is reformed and disciplined. Once the heart is disciplined then the rest of the limbs will all serve God, as mentioned in the hadith of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart,” also as mentioned in the Kumayl’s supplication,“O Allah, strengthen all my limbs to serve you.”
Ayatollah Qassem says, “They are not reformers those who superficially show a distinct jihadi role, but have deep down an extreme love of the Nafs, as this reveals the absence of the spirit of reform in the individuals, and that they suffer from an internal corruption.” The most dangerous point that corruption of the heart can reach, the jurist continues, is that it correlates with blind fanaticism or excessive complacency, as people with Basira do not scare their society when the means of reform are “in line with reason and religion.”
In this context, His Eminence Ayatollah Qassem believes that Ashura is a school from which people acquire the basic lessons of Basira that toughen their values, piety, righteousness, and jihad for the sake of God, and through which they “distinguish the righteous leader, the righteous opinion, and the righteous camp” because Ashura is a momentous history in which “the crowds of ignorance gathered to eradicate Imam Hussein, peace be upon him, to eradicate Islam, to make generations forget the Qur’an, and in particular to entomb Islam.”
That’s why the people of Basira have revolted, and the Faqih likens them to being “of the people of God, who ‘do not care if they fall upon death or death falls upon them” in every age and every place. The Faqih proceeds saying, “Those who adhere to God and defend His religion shake the thrones of the oppressors, and they do not fear anyone but God. You find them in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain. You find them everywhere, and the hopes are hung over them today to save and revive the nation.”
The people of Basira stand with the oppressed, the vulnerable, and the downtrodden in every battle only seeking God’s pleasure, the Faqih stresses, adding that Ashura has raised up steadfast men who have sacrificed themselves to earn the pleasure of God.
On the contrary, some people fear worldly governments, such as the government of Bahrain, which is hostile to God, His Messenger, Islam, and the Qur’an by persecuting the Shias merely because of their adherence to the school of Imam Hussein. He maintains, “Those who are hostile to Imam Hussein are hostile to Islam”; a pre-Islamic policy that contradicts the Qur’an, has no basis in Islam, and contradicts its foundations, values, and goals because Imam Hussein is the embodiment of Islam and the Qur’an. Ayatollah Qassem utters it clearly that in order to be a person of Basira you must be “jealous for the religion, supporter of the oppressed, advocate for the weak, fearless of the tyrants and the arrogant.”
Further, the faqih stresses that the foes of Basira fear the enlightening of minds, the spread of knowledge, the awakening of conscience against injustice, ignorance, arrogance, tyranny, and humiliation, against the nation and against every value that preserves their divine nature. His Eminence adds, “The tyrants fear true Islam of Imam Hussain and those who revive his blessed revolution” by confronting falsehood, establishing justice, and insisting on honour and dignity; a great revolution that reflects Imam Hussein’s deep belief and his pure servitude, and his eagerness for the safety of the religion and the path of truth.
The sacrifices of Imam Hussein have not only been to Islam but to the whole world, limitless in place or time; an unprecedented insight that guarantees a sublime and pure life. It eliminates humiliation, meanness, and corruption because his revolution is a perpetuation of the genuine Islam that contests falsehood and upholds truth. Ayatollah Qassem avers that Imam Hussein’s insight is demonstrated by his sacrifices, the captivity of his women (by the army of the tyrant Yazid), and his children becoming orphans following his martyrdom. Imam Hussein has not said a word without demonstrating it through practical positions out of his utmost sincerity to God.
The faqih adds that following such an insight can rescue the nation from humiliation, recover its freedom and dignity, establish justice and peace, and preserve constructive and righteous progress, unlike the alleged progress of the US and other faithless countries, which is nothing but destruction and corruption. He elaborates that when the nation abandons Imam Hussein’s values, it will definitely be humiliated, shamed, and miserable, and it will be the weakest of nations, which is unfortunately the reality of the nation today. Thus, “It must return to the line of Imam Hussein, to the line of Islam, until it emerges from its successive crises.”
Insight can only be achieved by purifying the world of injustice and tyrannical politics “as long as tyrannical, brutal, pharaonic policies and arrogance persist, corruption and catastrophes will persist, devastate humanity, and kindle evil, fear, panic, and terror.” Ayatollah Qassem affirms that insight can only be attained by purifying the world from enslavement, belittling, pornography, promiscuity, murder, slaughter, imprisonment, and torture of the free people who defend the oppressed and oppose the thrones of injustice, the thrones of misguidance, and the pre-Islamic entities.
There is no insight except with a serious, strict, and irreversible stance among the devotees of the nation against the ruling regimes that govern our nation contrary to the will of God, and the will of the nation.
According to the faqih, these regimes humiliate the religion of the Islamic Ummah, its pride and dignity, and plunder its capabilities and wealth in favour of its most hostile and tyrannical enemies, i.e. the Israelis, Americans, and the British. He asks, “Why do regimes sell all this to the great tyrants?” and to that he answers, “It is to protect them from the wrath of the oppressed and plundered peoples, their revolution against their sweeping oppressive and tyrannical corruption on earth.”
Hence, people with insight must be completely free from any sort of weakness in the resolve, and free from reluctance in order to continue the path of jihad for the sake of God.
Ayatollah Qassem assures that they must not be discouraged by the lack of power and the apparent “mightiness” of the enemy, stressing that Imam Hussein has imbibed the honour of Islam. His determination has been solid, which has enabled him to obtain martyrdom at the most expensive price, which is sacrificing himself, his wives and his children.
The faqih asks, “Did Imam Hussein withdraw an iota in the battle? Was he known of anything other than courage? Was he known of anything other than that he was a valiant lion staunch in the face of the oppressors?”
The people of insight are not the only hero of arms, but heroes of faith, honesty, truthfulness, honorable dimensions, and lofty attitudes. Ayatollah Qassem calls the youth to be like “Habib bin Muthaher, Muslim bin A’awsaja, Ali-Al-Akbar, and Al-Abbas in today’s battle, whereby Islam is threatened and it is intended to be overthrown.” For that reason, it is their duty we have to study “the social and political movements, in accordance to this understanding of Imam Hussein, and to confront every policy that stems from non-Islamic organs by enjoining good and forbidding evil, with a high responsibility, efficiency, trustworthiness, and even if we get damaged in some circumstances.”
Today, he affirms, Islam is endangered by corrupt regimes that implement the policy of the enemies. Ayatollah Qassim asks, “Will the nation accept that Islam is being eradicated little by little, and ignorance takes its place in many areas, and the hearts of young people, men and women, are invaded by ignorance and malicious manners?”
The people of insight do not silence over the eradication of Islam and the humiliation and collapse of its nation. He adds, “How much of this do we live today in the land of Islam? Wells of oil are looted. The language of pre-Islamic politics prevails; the language of humiliation, submission, imprisonment, murder, displacement, and so on. So that is a battle of Islam against Jahiliyyah, and the position of the people of insight must be that of [what Imam Hussein said:] ‘A person like me would not give the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid who had violated all tenets of Islam.’”
The people of insight have to preserve these honours and expose the colonialists, the faqih stresses. “To those who care about religion, to those who fear God, to the lovers of lofty tenets, to those who are keen on Islamic values, to those who yearn for justice, to those who yearn for freedom, to those who seek security and peace for the world, to those who have long endured oppression and tyranny, to those with a living conscience and common sense… Imam Hussein calls you all to unite against injustice, tyranny, corruption, enslavement, exclusivity, and ignorance,” Ayatollah Qassem says.
Therefore, it is our duty to unite our efforts to support truth, virtue, human freedom, dignity, loyalty, and brotherhood; the way to that is not to worship but God, to oppose the pharaohs on earth and their injustice and arrogance.