By Abbas Firouzi
From Payam-e Houzeh [Message of the Seminary]
On the anniversary of the blessed birth of his holiness Bagieh Ollah ol’Azam Hojat Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Askari- ‘Ajal Ollah Ta’aali Farajah- (Wednesday Sha’baan 15, 1412/ Bahman 30, 1370 [February 19, 1992]) his excellency Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the revolution- daam zolah al ‘aali- set foot on this land for the purpose of visiting the holy shrine of her holiness Ma’soumeh and visiting the Sources of Emulation, scholars, and the learned members of the Seminary as well as the resistant and martyr-producing people of the city of Qom. His holiness visited with different strata of society, including the exalted families of martyrs and scholars and clergy of the Seminary. On the night of Sha’baan 16, at the Dar al-Shafa Madrasa [school], a meeting was convened with the scholars, learned members, and seminary students that led to great blessed outcomes. In this meeting Ayatollah Meshkini first congratulated those present on the blessed birthday of his holiness the Messiah, and welcomed the presence of the Supreme Leader to the Seminary and the Holy city of Qom, and added: “We have nearly 24 thousand hard-working clergyman in the Seminary. Some are experts in jurisprudence, others in analysis, others in reason, and still others in judiciary topics, and the secondary studies in the Seminary are, thanks be to God, excellent. The Seminary is in the service of Islam and is ready for acting upon its duties; however, as your excellency is aware, the Seminary has problems; the solving of which require charitable kindness.
After this [introduction], the Supreme Leader, in addition to expressing happiness and gratitude for the success of this meeting, stated: “The system of the Islamic Republic is a system that is dependant on the scholars of religion. And these scholars, because they had a sizable part in bringing about the system, and because the people refer to them about matters of the system, and because they are responsible in the system, they must be aware of the situation of the system; know the problems [Naghayez], know the progress, so they can play their proper role in the maintenance of the system.
The Supreme Leader, after describing the successes of the system, considered the problems of the Seminary and, in addition to proposing to hold seminars for examining and discussing the problems of the Seminary, stated:
“I have a deep interest in the problems of the clergy, the kind of interest that a man has to his own breath.”
Then, by bringing up the question of “Why does the Seminary not meet [our] expectations?” he considered the answers and gave one of the reasons as the “lack of a specific and unified management apparatus”.
Reform of the Seminary
In continuing, he presented the new plan for the management of the Seminary in the following way:
At the head of the Supreme Policy Making Council of Seminary Affairs, 12 or 15 of the first rate learned members of Seminary must be placed. From this Council, one learned member who is approved by the others must be elected as director, and he, for the sake of God, should suspend his scholarly activities for a few years. This director must have sufficient powers, the necessary budget and several deputies for different sections.
The issues should be discussed with the Sources of Emulation and then the work should begin. Without this work, the Seminary will be dissatisfied with us on judgment day.
The Seminary must feel that its several decades’ progress has been a continuous movement. In principle, the Seminary has always been a useful entity. On that day when Ayatollah Ha’eri entered Qom, there was no sign of any of these blessings, not in Qom, not in Iran, and not in the entire world. Forty years later, the movement started [and] how close this outcome is to that [original] principle, that sincerity in establishing the Seminary, how useful it was that it achieved a result so quickly. Today, too, you and I must move forward with sincerity and effort and with religious struggle [Jihad]so that this fruitful tree remains and becomes even more fruitful. It must be fruitful after this; an un-fruitful Seminary is not worth the effort. But what should we do so that the Seminary remains fruitful? Do the young students and learned members have a role to play in this or no? Yes, they do. In this organization each person has a role. Students must study well, respect the ethics, maintain religiosity as the main principle, and hold the way of the elders as a model for [their] behavior and prayer.
In conclusion [the Supreme Leader] once again emphasized the necessity for change in the management of the Seminary and for maintaining values, and stated:
The Seminary needs a centralized management that is supported by the scholars, Sources [of Emulation], Society of Teachers [Anjoman-e Modaressin], and students. Some should make the effort and make use of it in a way that is proper; then the Seminary will become fruitful.
After this session, the responsibility for following up on these directions was placed with the honorable Society of Teachers. In addition to discussing and exchanging views on this topic in their weekly meetings, the Society of Teachers convened other meetings and the final decision was that a staff would be established by the name of “Staff for Following up on the Commands of the Supreme Leader” with the supervision of Ayatollah Mo’men in the office of the Society of Teachers. The proposed staff was formed and held several meetings with scholars and learned members of the Seminary and gathered plans and opinions of scholars, learned members, students, and experts in issues of the Seminary from all over the country. More than 400 hours were spent in 170 meetings in discussing them.
Seminar on Examining the Issues of the Seminary
The seminar on examining the issues of the Seminary took place on Ordibehesht 16, 1371 [May 6, 1992] in the Dar al-Shafa school [madresa],. The opening session was initiated by a speech by Ayatollah Mo’men. In addition to expressing gratitude to those present, he stated:
Following the visit of the Supreme Leader and his commands regarding the Seminary, the Society of Teachers decided to hold a seminar and ordered me, your servant, to follow through on this matter. In order that this work would not meet any difficulties, I submitted that my acceptance depended on the consent of both the Sources [of Emulation] and the Supreme Leader. Thanks be to God, this pre-condition was met. Then, a staff of several people was established: one person from the management council of the Seminary; the director of the society of representatives of the learned members and seminary students; two people from the society of seminary students who were presented as representatives; and two of the dear ones who, before this, were part of the Staff for Following up on the Commands of the Supreme Leader; one member of the publicity office; and one of the experienced brothers in this section of the Society of Teachers. In the first session, the staff decided that the fundamental work was to determine the members of a “Supreme Council of the Seminary” so they could chose a qualified director. Based on this, the Society of Teachers drew up a letter and proposed individuals, some of whom may be introduced to the exalted Sources [of Emulation] and the Supreme Leader in order to establish the supreme council with [these gentlemen] as members. In the following meetings, in addition to the names in that letter, the Society of Teachers proposed other names and selected several individuals in its official meeting so that from among them, several would present themselves to the honorable Sources and the Supreme Leader. The exalted Sources and the Supreme Leader were also consulted and, by the grace of God, the honorable gentlemen announced their agreement. On the ninth of the holy month of Ramadan, the staff established a commission made of nine people to examine the contents of the speech by the Supreme Leader and to draw a preliminary plan and organizational chart towards those goals. By the generosity of God, individuals with good experience were invited, including three exalted gentlemen who had previously prepared an organizational chart during the time of the Holy Imam [Khomeini] (approximately the year ‘59-‘60 [1980-‘81]), after which a management council was established. Some of these [gentlemen] are now in the Office of Cooperation with the Seminary and university, and others are members of that staff that was formed before the creation of the present staff. Still others held positions of responsibility in organizational work at schools and other institutions. One of the exalted brothers from the Bagher al-Olum Foundation was invited, and altogether seventeen meetings were held during the holy month of Ramadan. The commission drew up an elaborate plan and organizational chart for managing the Seminary and it was decided that it should be given for use to the brothers who participate in the commissions. Our third task was organizing this seminar today, and we are at your service. The closing session, which is on Friday, is a general session and spokesmen from each commission will present their conclusions.
After the remarks of Ayatollah Mo’men, Ayatollah Fazeli said the following in his speech:
Seminaries must be prepared to awaken the Islamic world and this requires that a very strong management – with people who are completely physically able, more thorough, and intellectually ethical – be chosen, because issues of the Seminary are very delicate. The founder of the Islamic Republic famously said that “Governing a nation is easier than managing the Seminary”.
After, Ayatollah Makaarem made several notable points regarding the seminar on examining the issues of and reforming the Seminary. He said:
I have jotted down 10 points; I will mention them in as much time I have allotted to me:
The first point: this is a good opportunity that should not be lost. Three important factors have converged. First, the necessities of this period in time and emerging from our Islamic Revolution are shouting: a greater and more rooted change must take place in Shiite seminaries. Second, the preparedness and request of the environment. Today almost every segment of the Seminary is ready to accept new changes and reforms. Thirty or forty years ago, in this same Seminary, when we, with our brothers, including martyr Motahari, martyr Beheshti, Imam Musa Sadr, and… had discussed issues relating to the reform of the Seminary, the ground was not ready for acceptance. Third, high-ranking clerical officials have announced the necessary cooperation with these changes. The honorable Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani, in addition to the seminary schools he has already founded, recently established an important computer center for academic purposes. Establishing such an organization by a Source [of Emulation] indicates a desire for widespread reform compatible with contemporary needs. Likewise, other Sources, as well as the Supreme Leader – who on that historic night expressed in clear terms the need for this work – [all] have expressed the unconditional support in all areas. If we loose this favorable opportunity, we will be responsible before God.
Second point: Reforming the Seminary does not mean that there are no positive aspects of the Seminary. There are positive aspects; there are also negative aspects. We want to enhance the positive points and remove the negative. This freedom of speech, these two way discussions, this spirit of research and ethics for knowledge, not credentials, this freedom to chose teacher and student, this warm relationship between teachers and students that lasts a lifetime, these are all very positive and valuable aspects…
Third point: is that before anything, we must recognize that there are many deficiencies in the Islamic world and that the Seminary can rectify these problems. We know that there are important regions in our country that do not have philosophers, clergy, and missionaries. We have problems in the university. I am not saying that the solution to all problems at the university is to have a strong clerical presence, but one of the important reasons [for problems in the university] is that we don’t have enough prepared clerics for amending the vacuum at the universities. The Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union have become free. They are announcing their readiness to receive missionaries. How many Muslims and Shiites have we lost around the world for not having enough missionaries? Is the Messiah – ‘ajal Allah ta’ali farajeh – satisfied with this?
Fourth Point: is that we must consider the realities. People should not just consider their own opinions. When the great leader of the revolution came and gave this message to the Seminary, we saw that immediately there was a spontaneous march. Alongside this population, there are two other segments of society: one segment that is indifferent, and maybe the root of this indifference is their despair. We must act rationally towards these [people] and move these negative and despondent folks forward with encouraging actions. The other segment, who have a negative and dissenting position – even if they are a minority – say that “they want to make the Seminary dependant on the government”. We must not give them a pretext.
Fifth Point: Especially to the young seminary students, I say that this is a long process and requires patience.
Sixth Point: is an important issue: if we create a fruitful Seminary; researchers, clerics, missionaries, and analysts – how do we present the product of this Seminary to the world outside the Seminary?
Seventh Point: Making the Seminary attractive will entice talented people to participate. We must sit down and consider why our seminaries are not attractive.
Eighth Point: Important programs should be very large and expansive, but start from a small point. God nurtured that fruitful palm tree from the pit of a date. Researchers, strong writers, powerful speakers, and strong translators must be trained, who can bring to fruition the great mission of the Seminary that has come in our traditions that “Menha tafayoz al-alam ela sa’er albladan”. We must impart knowledge from the Seminary to the whole Islamic world; do not say this is wishful thinking.
Ninth Point: is the monetary support of the Seminary. The monetary issues of the Seminary are truly difficult and complicated. The Imam’s share is very good, but the Imam’s share alone is not enough; there should be investments. In some cases the Imam’s shares that were being kept in banks for tuition could alone procure significant returns. When I mentioned this to the Supreme Leader, he stated, “I believe something like this should happen”.
The problems of seminary students are many; we can’t expect them to not have the basic minimums of life.
The Last Point: is the important issue of ethics. A doctor may be unethical, but he is a doctor. A cleric cannot be unethical, a judge cannot be unethical. These moral issues must be observed at all stages. When a student reaches the stage of ijtihad, or other stages, he must be truly secure in moral matters. There must be special attention given to selection and supervision [of students]. If there is care and accountability, not everyone should be given the right to wear these robes.
After the closing session, the following eight commissions started to work:
1. The commission of the supreme council and management 2. Goals and place of the Seminary 3. Organization of the management of the Seminary 4. Education 5. Research 6. Publicity 7. Self-refinement [tahzib] and ethics 8. Services and welfare.
Finally, in the closing session that took place in the Dar al-Shafa school and was attended by scholars, prominent and learned Seminary members from Qom and other cities, Ayatollah Javadi Amoli and Ayatollah Meshkini gave speeches after reports from spokesmen from each commission,. Ayatollah Javadi Amoli referred to change in the Seminary as one of the greatest achievements of the Islamic revolution and stated:
In the first decade of the revolution, with the initiative of the Imam [Khomeini] and with the support of the Grand Sources [of emulation], the council of the management of the Seminary was formed. But reform of the Seminary needs more work than this…
The principle work of the Seminary is teaching along with refinement. The Seminary must train sources [of emulation] and leaders like the current Sources and Leader because these are the primary products of the Seminary. The first plan of the Seminary must be to increase its own base, meaning to nurture sources [of emulation]. God, too, has promised good things about the future.
It is completely possible that the God, who without any sacrifices created the Imam will, given thousands of sacrifices, create a better and higher [human being] than him. So the first responsibility of the Seminary is to train scholars such as the Imam. And educational books that nurture an Imam are different than the educational books of a missionary and a scholar, because not all educational materials are the same.
Today, most officials are the product of this Seminary. If the Seminary hadn’t made the effort over the past fifty years – or at least these past thirty years – it would not have produced a product like the Islamic Republic. For the temporary needs of organizations, institutions and organs we must not empty out the Seminary but must find a solution for supporting them.
The Seminary is responsible in front of the divine religions including Judaism and Christianity and… The Christian world has presented itself and Muslims have asked us for scholars, speakers, and writers, so we must present ourselves. Various doctrines, including atheist and monotheist, have questions and we must not consider political matters to be primary because Marx and Engels first brought up the issue of atheism, than economics, and then the Communist system that victimized the people for seventy years.
First, they raised a series of atheistic issues and following that, made conclusions. So at first was the thought, then there was massacre; so we must not think any ideas are small and insignificant. Religion invites us to order. The holy prophet states: “If three people decide on a trip, they should choose one person as their prince”.
That which is the responsibility of you and me is to know from the beginning what we want to be. We must know our own tastes and choose a field in accordance with them, and not impose a field of study on ourselves. They will determine the program, but we must choose a field of study based on our own tastes and talents, and the reward of each person is reserved for him by God.
The students and great men of the Seminary showed their mettle in the first decade of the revolution, and proof of that is the clerics who were martyred which is the highest rate of any segment of society. But in the second decade, if we want to get somewhere, it requires a decade of consistent effort.
The newly founded seminary of Qom was able to defeat Pahlavi, who was more powerful than Saddam. It was because of the awareness of the people that with the divine and celestial calling of the Imam [people] took action everywhere and we want – God willing – to create a new order that will humble the world in facing it. And it is fortunate that the highly dignified Leader has made a serious decision along with the Grand Sources, which is no small matter.
And then, the seminar resolution was read out loud:
Finally, the Supreme council and management of the Seminary began its work. To start its work, it organized an introductory meeting in the presence of the distinguished members of the Seminary, Society of Teachers, members of the Supreme Council of the Seminary, the representative of the Supreme Leader, learned men, and students. In this meeting, in order, their excellencies Ayatollahs Fazel, former chair of the former management council, Makarem, chair of supreme Council of the Seminary, and Mo’men, manager of the Seminary, made remarks.
Ayatollah Fazel stated:
All these issues are on the path to one goal, and that is that clerics be trained in this Seminary who are ever more useful to Islam and the Islamic system in this country. One of the important achievements of the revolution was the order that was created in the Seminary. The Seminary was in such a condition that if it wanted to create some order within it, it would have been a very difficult task. But the support of that divine man and the support of other Sources of Emulation in Qom led to the initiation of the work and I, because I had ten years experience in the council, observed up close the changes that the council brought about. With all the problems-whether financial problems, political problems, or other problems caused by some who wanted to dominate the Seminary by raising certain issues or inciting and creating agitations.
However, finally, the matter of order was placed as a matter of necessity, with programs that most gentlemen are aware of, and other issues, some of which were implemented and others, which for the lack of resources, were not implemented until this recent trip when the Supreme Leader came and a new plan of management was proposed. Finally it was decided that the Society of Teachers would be made up of individuals who have two characteristics: first, having the competence for this position and this responsibility and second, having the time to spend on this work.
Finally, more than twenty meetings and discussions were held on this issue and the result was that the dear brothers, the honorable Ayatollahs Makarem Shirazi, Rasti Kashani, Mo’men Qomi, Mahfouzi, Taheri Khorram Abadi, and Ostadi took this momentous responsibility.
The Supreme Council has been accepted by the Grand Sources and the Supreme Leader and has been endorsed in writing by all of them. Therefore, this by itself creates a responsibility according to Sharia for individuals. First, a responsibility in regards to cooperation with these brothers, because this is not a matter of presidency or chairmanship, but rather the management of a grand and expansive Seminary. Secondly: it is matter of managing the Islamic world and the Islamic system ruling this country, and in all directions that have to do with Islam and Islamic matters. In the future, we must provide Islamic society with great scholars and other Islamic issues must exist alongside jurisprudence. If Allameh tabatabii has left, fifty others must fill his seat.
The letter that the honorable Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani –madzallah al-‘aali – written from [his position in]the previous council which, in that sensitive period, managed the Qom Seminary, on the one hand had the highest gratitude, and on the other hand reminded the new council and the distinguished members and students of the Seminary that today the whole Islamic world is watching you and you have to answer to the whole Islamic world. He also asked for the honorable Society of Teachers to support the new council completely; this order includes everybody.
Then, Ayatollah Makarem made the following statements:
This gathering is very respectable. The reason for calling this meeting and its philosophy are two points:
First, that about the new council and its programs and preparations incomplete information is getting to some individuals. Therefore it was thought best that a meeting be called by the “Honorable Society of Teachers” so correct and complete information could be given on this topic to all distinguished members and Seminary students.
Second, recruiting the cooperation of all of you dear ones for the heavy programming that lies ahead.
My comments are summarized in two parts:
I wrote down the first part because it contains words from great men and I don’t want to misquote anything and wish to observe [these words] with integrity and care. And the second part consists of some reminders for you dear ones and masters regarding problems of the future. But the first part, which is written down, is on the course that has been taken at this juncture with respect to the management and Supreme Council, and in summary it is this:
The Society of Teachers, by inspiration from the guidance of the late Imam, and considering the recommendations of the Supreme Leader, convened many meetings and by using some plans that were presented at the seminar, nominated a number of teachers who were ready for this responsibility for membership in the supreme council of management. In addition to this servant, the following gentlemen were selected for this purpose:
1-Mr. Mohammad Mo’men 2- Mr. Husein Rasti 3- Mr. Seyyed Hasan Taheri 4-Mr. Abbas Mahfoozi 5- Mr. Reza Ostadi
Then, they were introduced by letter to the Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani, dam zolah al-‘ali. After reviewing aspects of the issue, his excellency stated in his response letter: “According to what I know about academic officials and the tact and competence of the proposed gentlemen in the mentioned letter, I appoint them for the purpose of attending the issues of the seminary students and supervision of the management council of the Theological Seminary of Qom and other cities. The expectations from this council are that: it carries out its lawful sharia duties and the supervision of all issues regarding the Seminary and become familiar with all Seminary schools and institutions, specially newly-formed schools and institutions as well as publications that are issued under the name of the Seminary so that, God willing, the Seminary is ideologically and ethically immunized such that proponents of heresy, sects, invalidated doctrines [bateleh] and eclectic schools are always and forever disappointed and prevented from gaining a foothold in this Seminary.”
In the rest of his letter, his excellency pointed out important issues, such as maintaining the Islamic character of the theological seminaries and their dependence on his Holiness, Baghiat Allah al-‘Azam [the Messiah]; valuing research and debate on Quranic and hadith [prophets’ traditions] education and topics; attention to issues of ethics and refinement of the ego [tahzib]; and especially keeping the independence of the Seminary which is considered to be one of the great achievements of the Shia clergy. In ending, he has written: “I expect the dear seminarians and the noble soldiers of his Holiness Saheb al-Amr [the Messiah] to cooperate with the respected council on all issues.”
And in another letter to the director of the Society of Teachers, his excellency thanked the previous management council for its ten years of service and added: in the current sensitive environment, where the future of the religious matters of the Muslims of the world are tied to the Theological Seminary of Qom and the rays of the Islamic Revolution have covered the entire world, it is expected that the excellent members of the respected Society of Teachers – Idahim Allah Ta’aali – will not hesitate to assist and cooperate with the current management council.
Following this, another letter was written to the great Source [of Emulation], his excellency Ayatollah ol-Ozma Araki – Mad Zolah al-‘Ali- and his blessed opinion on this issue was asked. He then wrote the following in his noble letter:
“I endorse the authority of the nominated gentlemen whose academic and functional positions, tact, ability, and qualifications are confirmed, and the respected members of the current council must act with commitment to maintain the security and preservation of this sacred seminary that was established about 70 years ago with the efforts of a great man such as Ayatollah al-‘Ozma Haj Shaikh Abdolkarim Ha’eri, and is a divine trust. All issues regarding the Seminary must be in the supervisory domain of these gentlemen and they must determine the proper path for the research and progress of the dear students and not allow the Seminary to be exposed to the deviations of false sects [fergh-e bateleh] and heretics. No seminary institution should be active without the supervision of the management council; otherwise that activity does not have legitimacy.
Then, his excellency made several recommendations to the management council regarding the centrality of the munificent Quranm the righteous Imams’ traditions, the traditional and Jawaheri [a school of jurisprudence that relies heavily on the Quran and Hadith traditions] jurisprudence, and the creation of specialty majors, even in jurisprudence topics. He also noted the necessity for the radiation of Islam from Qom to the entire world; avoiding lavish ceremonies and unnecessary formalities; providing the needs of the Islamic system from the perspective of jurisprudence, culture and politics; and strengthening the foundations of piety alongside the foundations of science; whatever helps to strengthen the Islamic system and establishment of divine laws, specially protecting the independence of Seminary – which his holiness the Imam [Khomeini] emphasized very much along with the Supreme Leader. In ending, he has asked all high scholars and the dear learned members and students to support the council.
Afterwards, all these issues were reported to the Supreme Leader – Dam Zalah al-‘Ali- and his excellency, in a meeting with two members of the Society of Teachers, stated unequivocally:
“I am very pleased with this selection. If I wanted to select, I couldn’t have chosen better than these gentlemen.” And in his noble letter, which was written on issues regarding the supreme council of management, he stated:
What, by the grace of God, has taken place in the Seminary has met the majority of my goals in this area and I don’t accept any hesitation or break because if, God unwilling, the work is stopped, we have been ungrateful towards a Divine gift.”
He then promised any kind of material and spiritual support to the management council.
In this way, the new council began its work in an environment full of sincerity and candor and with the full support of the elders, and we hope that with God’s help and the special attention of his Holiness Baghiat Allah [the Messiah] – Arvahana Fadah – and with the full support of scholars, learned members, teachers and the dear students, it will achieve its goals.
In the second part of my talk, I will refer, very briefly, to several points:
First point: is abundant thanks to the previous management council that has worked very hard and started from zero, and pushed along many programs; their hard work will always be appreciated.
Second point: the work that has been done, in summary, is this:
We have a supreme council of the Seminary and a management. The general decision-making will take place in the Supreme Council, based on majority vote. Plans, broad decision making, principle programs; all will come to the Council and after investigation and consideration decisions will be made, and of course, when necessary, the input of different personalities will be solicited. Important decisions will be made with comprehensive consultation, and then will be given to the respected director that has been selected by the [Management] Council-meaning our dear brother Mr. Mo’men. In executive matters, his hands are totally free, and considering his decisiveness and excellent record, we hope that he will, God willing, meet his responsibilities very well.
Third point: Until now, there have been 12 meetings for advancing the work, and the policy directions have been established to some extent.
Fourth point: This must be a focal point for all Islamic sciences, all issues regarding the Quran, the traditions of the prophet and his family, Islamic beliefs, and other areas of study that are now being offered incompletely in the Seminary. All of these must, God willing, must be offered in a complete way in the future.
Fifth point: is the efficiency of the Seminary; the Seminary should never be like a swamp where people stay forever, but rather should be like a pool where, from one end, new energy enters the Seminary, is purified, and exits from the other end. We have to prepare the grounds so that the learned men who are qualified and ready go to the smaller towns and teach there to compensate for the empty space left by the loss of elder scholars.
Sixth point: is protecting the independence of the Seminary, which is a point that the departed Imam always emphasized. W have also continuously heard this from the Supreme Leader in public and private statements; the Grand Ayatollahs Golpayegani and Araki – Dam Zalhama al-Sharif- have also emphasized this point. But the meaning of independence has never been alienation from the system and service to the Islamic Republic. On the contrary, the Seminary must support the system of the Islamic Republic with all of its strength, and the system of the Islamic Republic also must support the Seminary. There is no doubt in this matter.
Seventh point: The Supreme Council and the respected brothers who are its members, as well as the director of the Seminary, who is both a member as well as the director, are not miracle workers and cannot reform everything overnight.
Eighth point: Seminary students have many problems and we understand these problems. We beg God to give us the strength so this council may take steps towards solving them.
Ninth point: All this planning will not bear fruit without the full support of all of you gentlemen: scholars, learned members, officials, and dear students. Just as the revolution was achieved with the expansive support of the people, the plans of the Seminary too will reach fruition with your total support. We have foreseen three “rings” of connection between Seminary officials and Seminary students:
The first ring is a publication that will be published in the near future.
The second ring is a suggestions and criticisms box which will be installed in all seminary schools.
The third ring is the body of representatives of Seminary students who can bring the opinions of the students to the council and participate in the council’s decision-making.
With this programming the Qom Seminary must become so attractive that talented youth will gravitate to the Seminary in every way.
By the grace of God, there are already great talents in the Seminary; these talents have not been utilized.
Afterwards, Ayatollah Mo’men stated in his speech:
In the will of the holy Imam it says: “the most necessary thing is the Seminary and the organizing and purifying of it is the responsibility of the respected teachers and experienced learned members with the confirmation of the Sources [of Emulation] at the time…
And maybe the thesis that “order is in disorder” is one of the evil ideas of these same planners and conspirators. In any event, my will is that in all eras, specially at the present period when the conspiracies and plans have speeded up, an insurrection [Ghiam] is necessary to give order to the Seminary, so that scholars and teachers and the highly dignified learned elders spend time and with a correct and careful program protect the seminaries – specially the Qom Seminary as well as other large and important seminaries -from all harm in this sensitive moment. And it is necessary that the respected scholars and teachers do not allow deviation in courses that are about jurisprudence. Jurisprudence and principled [Osouli] seminaries that teach through the grand sheikhs are the only way to protect the Islamic jurisprudence; and try to add every day to the awareness, debates, opinions, innovations, and research, and thus the traditional jurisprudence – which is the inheritance of the righteous forefathers; deviation from it leads to weakening of the fundamentals of research and scrutiny – is protected. Every day research is added upon research, and of course in the other scientific fields depending on the needs of the country. Islamic programs will be created, and specialized persons must be trained in that field and the most necessary areas should be placed under education and training in a comprehensive way along with the Islamic moral sciences, such as the science of ethics and ego-refinement and the journey to God –Rzghna Allah va Ayakam.”
Without doubt, this issue, which was given the loving attention of the holy Imam, has also been under the consideration of the Sources of Emulation, specially the Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani.
Several days ago, when on the order of the gentlemen from the Society of Teachers I presented a report on this work to the Grand Ayatollah Araki, his excellency stated without any hesitation: that which the gentlemen consider proper, I too will endorse and also stated: “this issue of order and specialization of the Islamic sciences is a point that was raised more than fifty years ago by the late Grand Ayatollah Mister Haj Shaikh Abdolkarim Ha’eri and he precedes all the gentlemen on this issue.”
But about accepting personal responsibility on this issue let me say: your servant, who has now been chosen as the director of the Seminary, is also a member of the jurists of the Guardian Council. Management of the seminary was suggested to me, and I told the gentlemen: I have no issue with accepting this responsibility for these two years, but upon the condition that I resign from the Guardian Council. Some of the honorable gentlemen accepted, then two of the brothers went to the Supreme Leader and presented my condition to his excellency, and his excellency stated: “I will speak with him myself”. I presented myself to him, and his excellency stated: “Arrange with Ayatollah Janati, the director of the Guardian Council, so that you come once a week to Tehran, and if more is necessary, the legislations that pass through the Guardian Council should be kept until the day you return to take a look at them.” When things came to this, I had no choice but to accept and in reality kept most of my time free to attend the work of the Seminary and this new responsibility.
We are decided that once the work gets going, the honorable brothers who are better than me will take on the responsibility of the work.
The final point is: for figuring out the responsibilities of the different sections and the deputies, we need time, and we cannot begin the work right away.
Upon establishing the Supreme and Management Council of the Theological Seminary, the Supreme Leader sent an important message to the Society of Teachers. In this message, it is stated:
The honorable Ayatollahs and Hojat al-Islams [a clerical rank lower than Ayatollah], the respectable members of the Society of Teachers of the Qom Theological Seminary, Dam Barakatahom,
We are grateful to the wise and dear God for realizing one of the greats wishes about the theological seminaries and in the shadow of the benevolence of his holiness Vali Allah al-‘Azam Roohi Fedah, initiated a new beginning for a long sought change that the clear-sighted and the benevolent members of the clerical society have always looked for. The formation of a council made up of high-ranking scholars and teachers for the purpose of setting policy and directions in the management of the theological seminary, and selecting a director from among the prominent, revolutionary, and clear-sighted scholars, is great news whose importance is impossible to describe in a few short sentences. It is enough to say that this act is capable of bringing the great treasure of the Seminary to a proper level of productivity for Islam and Muslims that, once realized, will be many times more productive than the current level, “ valbalad altayeb yakhraj nabatah bazan rabah” the sweetness of this act will be properly tasted when the bitterness of not utilizing all the potential of this divine reserve-while clearly needing it- will be felt properly; and there have been many elders, many honorable and piteous men who have said goodbye to life in this bitterness.
I, while affirming the choices that were made for the policy making council and also for the management of the council, see it as my responsibility to sincerely thank all those involved in this new act, the previous respected council who, with its efforts, laid the groundwork for this new action; the Society of Teachers who took initiative in this important work, and the Grand Sources of Emulation who, with their acceptance and affirmation provided the valuable spiritual backing for this effort. I ask for divine reward for them and to all the young and progressive learned members of the Seminary whose great, hopeful, and warm efforts relieve the difficulties of this era, I extend my sincere congratulations.
In the rest of his message, his excellency discussed several important topics in eleven sections1.
1. The full text of this message appears in “Light of Science”, No. 47, pg. 5-13.