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The Message of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to the World Congress on Mulla Sadra

Tehran, 22 May 1999

I praise God, the Most High, and I do lake pride and pleasure in Witnessing the holding of this great intellectual and scientific conference devoted to the thought and personality of the great Muslim sage, Hakim Sadr al-Muta'allihin Shirazi. Although acquaintance with this peerless scholar in the West, as in many parts of the Islamic world, is very little, the Iranian philosophy circles for the last three centuries, that is, almost a hundred years after the writing of 'Asfar', have been nourished by the opinions of Sadr al-Muta'allihin and his hooks. His opinions, most of which are direct products of his individual initiative, at least in their rational and logical frameworks, have been fervently studied, taught, researched and critically evaluated. It is interesting lo note that, for the last four centuries, Sadr al-Muta'allihin has attracted both the greatest number of followers and plagiarists, and numerous critics and opponents. During this period, a greater number of the torch-bearers of transcendent theosophy and philosophy were the students and exegetes of the school of philosophy he founded, through his own genius and initiative which, while it abrogated the Mashsha 'i (peripatetic) and Ishraqi (illuminationist) philosophies, still safeguarded every prominent point contained in both these schools and laid out its fundamentals most lucidly in thousands of pages in his eloquent and attractive style. In the same period, many of the imitators of his opinions on such themes as the questions of existence, eschatology and resurrection, had to suffer the same sort of bitter experience which afflicted Sadra himself during his life time and which made him leave his native place.

Certainly, serious, critical and scholarly research, divorced from reproach and controversy was also carried out. This kind of criticism, that was in fact begun by two of his closest students, has continued up to the present time, and some of our prominent theologians have indeed disputed some of the most basic principles of Sadra's lofty philosophical system. There is no doubt, however, that both these adverse currents - the mesmerizing effect on some of our first-rate philosophers, and the intellectual and ideological reaction by the critics and opponents - only point to one thing, that is, the greatness of Sadra's thinking, the great gift of ingenuity and the solid foundations found in the philosophy of this great philosopher.

The philosophical school of Sadra, like his own life and character is a closely-knit combination of certain precious components which have ultimately attained unity. His philosophy makes use of some of the most sublime elements of knowledge such as logical reasoning, mystical intuition, and the Qur'anic revelation. In his individual character are also found elements of research and logical deliberation, mystical trends and intuition, servitude to God, practical piety, abnegation and abstinence, as well as devotion to the Holy Qur'an and Sunnat; all moulded into one personality which in the course of his 50-years of scholarly life took him to many distant scientific centres for the sake of knowledge; to Kahak village of Qum for ascetic purposes and to perform the Hajj pilgrimage on foot seven times. If the Sadra'i school of philosophy - which Sadra himself had termed 'Transcendent Theosophy'- marked the zenith of Islamic philosophy till the days of its exponent and was a decisive blow to the negative attacks of the sceptics and the opponents of philosophy during the medieval Islamic era, today also after four hundred years of benefiting from the research and investigation of the scholars of rational and transmitted sciences, elucidation and completion by philosophical circles, and enhancement and polishing at the able hands of certain prominent philosophers, especially at the theological centres of Isfahan, Tehran and Khorasan, Sadra's philosophy has once again emerged, only on a more solid foundation and livelier appeal, to take its proper position in the building up of culture and civilization, to gloriously shine in human minds and illuminate hearts and souls. Sadra's school of philosophy, as any other philosophy, may not be confined to the narrow frameworks of individual nations or geographical regions; it belongs to all the peoples and to all communities. Mankind is always in need of a convincing rational system of thinking to comprehend and to interpret its own being and the whole of existence.

No culture or civilization could, without such solid and acceptable basis, ever lead humanity to salvation, to preservation and to spiritual peace, and give some sublime meaning to existence. Thus, in our opinion, the Islamic philosophy, particularly, in its Sadra'i style and interpretation, seeks to fill its own vacant position in the minds of contemporary men, and we believe that it shall finally reach this end.

We in Iran are more indebted to this divine philosophy than others and, therefore, more duty-bound to its furtherance. Our own era has witnessed the appearance of such enlightened guides as Imam Khumayni, who was not only a peerless man in the fields of philosophy, religion and politics but also a great scholar of the theological school of Sadra; as well as the blissful presence of 'Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabätabä'1 in theological circles, who was the most prominent teacher of Sadra'i principles in Qum for some thirty years. The presence of such personalities together with the efforts of many of their students and contemporary scholars have, undoubtedly, ushered in a bountiful era for the Transcendent Theosophy' of Mulla Sadra.

And now the holding of this august congregation of scholars from Iran and abroad, is, in fact, the harbinger of a much deeper and more extensive investigation to be carried out on Sadra's philosophy. Perhaps this will help some philosophers and thinkers in the West to make a comparative study of the direct, evolutionary and non-contradictory course of Islamic philosophy, especially after its enlightenment by Sadra's philosophy, with the complicated, contradictory and hurdle-ridden course of Western philosophy during the past four hundred years, and hopefully, provide yet another occasion for discussion and criticism among the members of the global club of knowledge and rational argument.

In the end, I deem it my obligation to extend my deep and sincere thanks to the esteemed organizers of this scholarly congress and its respected participants, and to re-emphasize my earnest desire for the publication of a collection of Mulla Sadra's opinions in one distinct volume.

W a al-Salam 'Alaykum wa Rahmatullah-i wa Barakatuh

Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamene'i

Tehran, 22 May 1999

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