Clergy Corner

Publicizing Religion and Creating Discourse

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Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from a speech given by the Leader to a group of scholars and seminary teachers in December 2009.

Publicity has taken on a very important role in the modern world. As promoters of Islam, we currently have the advantage of face-to-face communication – that is, addressing people directly from a pulpit. This is a great advantage that cannot be replaced by anything else. In some respects, this method of promoting religion is more effective than other methods. Of course, the artistic methods of promoting Islam are also necessary sometimes, but preaching from a pulpit has a special effect that is lacking in other methods of promoting Islam. Therefore, promoting Islam is very important. As promoters of Islam, we can make use of face-to-face preaching, which is one of the most effective methods of religious publicity.

What I am trying to say is that religious publicity should give rise to a discourse. When something becomes a discourse, it becomes public knowledge in a particular era and a particular society. It is not possible to achieve this goal though isolated and spontaneous measures. Creating a discourse requires active planning and measures.

Why do we need to create this discourse? Because this discourse can promote religious thought and knowledge among our audience. When religious thought is promoted among the people and it is accompanied by a sense of commitment, it gives rise to actions and becomes exactly what prophets were after. Religious publicity leads to appropriate knowledge and cultural norms, and in some cases, it acts like a warning.

Religious publicity in the month of Muharram is a case in point. The religious ceremonies for mourning Imam Hussein’s (peace be upon him) martyrdom provide us with the best opportunity to promote Islam. We should utilize this opportunity in order to help distinguish right from wrong and create a beacon of guidance for the people. In the modern world, creating fitna is the main technique that is used by the enemies of the truth. In such a situation, the proponents of the truth should provide the people with as much insight and clear guidance as they can so that they do not get confused.

Regarding religious publicity, we should pay attention to the Qur’anic verse: “Those who deliver the messages of Allah and fear Him, and do not fear anyone but Allah. And Allah is sufficient to take account.” (33:39) There are two requirements that have to be met for promoting the messages of God. First, one should fear God and no one else. Fearing God is the first requirement. Religious publicity should be done for the sake of God, and it should also be inspired by divine teachings.

Religious publicity will only mislead people if it is not done for the sake of God or is not inspired by divine teachings. “Apart from the truth, what (remains) but error?” (10: 32) Understanding the truth is possible through fearing God. And when it is time to publicly declare the truth, we are advised not to “fear anyone but Allah”. Why? Because the truth has its own enemies. It is not easy to declare the truth. Material powers and different kinds of global Taghut (authority not sanctioned by God) are the enemies of the truth. This has been the case throughout history, and this state of affairs will not change until the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) establishes his righteous government.

These material powers will not stand by and let the world go by. They will use all their facilities to create problems and distort the truth. Therefore, it is necessary to fear God and no one but Him, otherwise the path of religious publicity will be blocked. There are different kinds of non-divine fears. People may be afraid of losing their life, wealth, or reputation. They may also be afraid of what other people say about them. These are different kinds of non-divine fears, and we should get rid of them. It is difficult to fear God and no one but Him. Sometimes it is hard for ordinary people to understand this difficulty. “…And Allah is sufficient to take account,” the verse continues. You should leave the calculations to God. Sincerity, acting courageously on the basis of religious certainty, and leaving the calculations to God are the general outline of promoting Islam.

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