Imam Khomeini (RA) has not written an independent book on Islamic civilization though there are several instances of reference to the subject in his scripts, speeches and messages by the late leader. The word civilization has been mentioned for 152 and civilized for over 25 times throughout difference volumes of his renowned book, Sahifeh.
Civilization literally means settlement in city and exodus of a society from its primitive stage but the connotation of the word includes a combination of temporal and spiritual achievements resulted from transcendence of culture and social discipline.
In view of Imam Khomeini (RA) civilization has not been provided in a clearcut definition. However it is deduced through study of the remarks by the late leader that the word ‘civilization’ meant promotion or advancement that results in temporal and spiritual transcendence of man. By Islamic civilization he meant a promotion based on Islamic criteria. Imam Khomeini prioritized Islamic civilization over other civilizations. In his view Islam made it to found a new civilization in the world by its special teachings.
Imam Khomeini (RA) and notion of renovating Islamic civilization
In contemporary world, civilizations and cultures can survive that are in a constant process of renovation, but this renovation does not translate into separation from past rather it means preparation for new challenges. One of the most outstanding features by Imam Khomeini (RA), as a spiritual-political leader, is the notion of renovating Islamic civilization which has realized in formation of an Islamic government. In a global campaign for advancement, Imam Khomeini (RA) has called the Islamic nation towards a spiritual and Islamic civilization defining its necessities as counted in the following items.
1- Practicing Islamic and Qur’anic teachings: Imam Khomeini (RA) believes Islam has already proved its theoretical and practical capacitis for renovation of civilization. Hence, his major criterion for new Islamic civilization, like all other topics, is Islam. The most important ideological basis for Imam Khomeini (AS) is that Islam as the most perfect holy religion guarantees the happiness of man both in his worldly and after death life; hence, based on practicing the holy religion and a government founded on Islamic rules, the grounds for formation of a modern Islamic civilization are provided.
From the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (RA), ‘If Islamic rules, leading all other rules, are carried out, Muslim states followed by Islamic civilization resulted by that will also play the role of forerunners in global civilization.’ Imam Khomeini (RA) found the key to success of Muslims and their dominance over the enemies in holding fast to Qur’an since the criterion for civilization and features of Islamic civilization (including a determined government, unified nation, logicality and spirituality, law-orientation and etc…) should be derived from the holy book of Islam and lifestyle of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Imam Khomeini (RA) noted,”…It was in the light of holy Qur’an that Islam conquered all then emperors in half a century and we will be conquering the enemies as far as we take shelter in Qur’an; hence, if enemies of Islam distance us from Qur’an then we should expect a life in humiliation.”
2-Unity of Religion and State: One of the pivotal conceptions in civilization-oriented ideologies by Imam Khomeini (RA) is union of religion and state as the notion can be counted as the touch stone for his political thoughts. Imam Khomeini (RA) defines state as wisdom leading to guidance of the society towards their benefits and the objectives defined by prophets (PBUT) as the main protectors of guidance for the nation. Therefore, in his view, state is a part of religion and inseparable part of Islam. Imam Khomeini (RA) found religion and state intertwined into each other to the extent that he noted,” He who claims: what do we have to do with state, it translates into ignoring Islam, negation of God and the innocent Imams (AS).” The late leader in another remark assimilated Islam to a man with Islam as its head.
3- Establishment of Islamic government based on jurisprudence: Still another topic which was highlighted by Imam Khomeini (RA) for renovation of Islamic civilization was on establishment of Islamic government based on the notion of jurisprudence because through that the hurdles on the way of renovation of Islamic civilization would be settled. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) also, following exodus to Medina and establishment of Islamic government, founded the basics for Islamic civilization. Among the Islamic intellectuals in the recent centuries, Imam Khomeini (RA) as the most renowned individual who, with a precise comprehension of religion and deep understanding of the necessities and global changes, started revival of Islam as a complete school of thought in political and social aspects of that substituting political government based on religious ideology for Pahlavi government based on western-oriented thoughts. In the political school of Imam Khomeini (RA), Islamic government with the axis of jurisprudence, fulfills the demands of modern man and rejects the schools claimant of civilization because he believed,” Essence and quality of Islamic laws, are defined to promote a government and political, economical and cultural management of a society and any county which practices Islamic rules will move towards (temporal and spiritual) advancement and civilization.”
4- Protecting independence of Muslims, Rejecting dominance of arrogant powers: The other topic Imam Khomeini (RA) depended upon in his thoughts for renovation of civilization was to maintain the independence of Muslims and rejecting dominance of the arrogant powers. The principle rejecting dominance of non-believers over believers (chapter al-Nisa, verse 141) the major axis for political campaigns by Imam Khomeini (RA) was confrontation with colonial powers and dominance of the foreign countries. Major intellectuals in the world of Islam knew that Muslim nations, once dependent upon their power, can stand on their feet and revolutionize if their religious thoughts are revived. Hence, Imam Khomeini (RA) has made outstanding efforts in line with independence though in practice and besides the ideological aspect, the late leader made it to set up Islamic governance amid the dominance of the west. Imam Khomeini (RA) in rejecting the dominance of bipolar world promoted the motto on rejection of east and west denying the eastern socialism and western liberalism to introduce an independent identity for Islamic Revolution discourse.
5- Criticizing western civilization: To know the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (RA) on western civilization is a key effort because humanist and liberalist culture of the west, with an illusion to superiority, is a claimant of dominating the globe and the western countries are sparing no effort in line with realization of this ambition. Therefore, to know the principles of western temporal civilization and viewpoints of Islamic leaders, particularly Imam Khomeini (RA) on that, are among the current missions for the Muslims in the path to realize modern Islamic civilization. The way to face western civilization and achievements is among the topics currently discussed by Muslim elites resulting in formation of three different views: 1- optimistic view and complete acceptance 2- pessimistic view and total rejection 3- realistic view and critical acceptance.Imam Khomeini (RA) opted for the third way. He took the western civilization as a whole which included eligible and non-eligible achievements believing that in this fair the acceptable and non-acceptable achievements of the west should be distinguished from each other. Amid the confrontation of traditionalists and modernists, Imam Khomeini (RA) while criticizing the western civilization, sided with utility achievements of western civilization aligned with Islamic culture and within the framework of domestic demands, though under some conditions the most important one being maintaining independence. In view of Imam Khomeini (RA) we should gain independence through making use of western civilization and its achievements, not crossing our hands towards the western countries, merely imitating or becoming dependent, because Islamic civilization does not basically realize in dependence. The late leader even thought that we should approach western civilization in a way that eventually leads to resolving a digesting it into the religious Islamic civilization; hence, he stressed,” Western science and technology should be tailored with our social and cultural necessities.” Though for Imam Khomeini (RA) to recognize a usage of western civilization does not translate to ignoring criticism of the achievement.
6-Liberty: In view of Imam Khomeini (RA) independence is founded on two pillars: first, liberty from western ideological and cultural bonds and returning to Islamic values and norms, second, decolonization of Islamic lands. Therefore, in view of Imam Khomeini (RA), liberty and independence are two intertwined concepts. Based on that, Imam Khomeini (RA) called liberty as the onset of his civilization discussion recognizing that as vital for a civilization. From the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (RA) the first step towards civilization is liberty of a nation and a country without liberty and independence is in fact without civilization. Imam Khomeini (RA), finds liberty as a total and not a relative value calling that with titles including natural right and heavenly privilege believing that liberty is not deniable or forgettable in any civilization. The people do not have the right to ignore it, it is not prized to the people by governments and no government is permitted to undermine it.
7- Unity of Muslims and launching a unified nation: unity of Muslims is one of the most important political necessities of modern Islamic civilization which exceeded all other political thoughts of Imam Khomeini (RA). The late leader counted unity as the cause for appearance and continuation of Islamic system and a guarantee for survival of Muslims. In his view, solidarity leads to strengthening perseverance of the nation against difficulties and a reason for determination and honor of society consequently moving towards promotion. Imam Khomeini (RA) proposed the strategic plan for realization of solidarity in the world of Islam in the form of “Unified Islamic Nation”. Nation-orientation can be called as the foundation for modern Islamic civilization. To struggle for realization of Islamic Ummah (nation) equals establishment of global community of Muslims, definition for global approach of Islam as well as international territory of our global-Islamic notions. Based on this fact, Imam Khomeini (RA) stressed establishment of an Islamic nation based on proximity, away from ethnical or racial prejudices or cultural and political bigotries. He counted achieving Islamic civilization as the shared prospect for Islamic nation in different countries and believed once the relation between Islamic states are based on ideological commonalities and rhetorical unity then the path for renovation of Islamic civilization is paved.
Imam Khomeini (RA) introduced Islamic civilization as the most comprehensive and perfect civilization which is on the verge of setting and deficiency due to deviations and ignorance of Muslim. While challenging the dependent civilization of Pahlavi dynasty and the inaccurate notion of “great civilization” by Shah, has criticized the negative and corrupt aspects of western civilization seriously warning against westernization. Revival of Islamic civilization was among the progressive thoughts by Imam Khomeini (RA) for which the Islamic Revolution and establishment of Islamic Republic can be counted as a prelude to this Islamic renaissance. Imam Khomeini (RA) counted the political necessities of Islamic civilization to include: launching Islamic government with the axis of jurisprudence, rejecting dominance of foreign countries, criticizing western civilization, liberty, unity of Muslims and launching unified Islamic nation where the late leader did not see it far away from reality as he tool giant steps in this line with Islamic Revolution uprising and establishment of Islamic Republic system bringing a new civilization for the world based on religion.