The meeting started by the host, HIWM Sheikh Ja’far Ali Najm, greeting participants, followed by recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Mr Sayed Masumi.
The first speaker, HIWM Dr Seyed Fazel Milani, Imam of Al-Khoei Islamic Centre, referred to the sermon of the Prophet Muhammad(s) about the month of Ramadan and explained that the most important mission of scholars in the month of Ramadan is to deliver Islamic education from the pulpits. He also cited a hadith from Imam Ali(a), pointing out that anyone who seeks to teach divine religion to others, must first start with himself, acting on the things he’s preaching. In fact, action is more effective than giving suggestions and is one of the best ways of promoting Islamic values.
The second speaker, HIWM Sheikh Ali Alemi, chairman and Imam of the Islamic Universal Association of London, emphasised that the holy month of Ramadan is about sympathy, kindness and understanding and one of the main problems of life today is the lack of moral values. Referring to the life of the Prophet and the Imams, he explained that the ethical implications of their lives were mainly based on actions rather than theoretical preaching. Citing verse 164, chapter 3 of the Holy Qur’an, he mentioned that among all the verses regarding ethical issues addressed to the prophets, the most important verse has been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad(s). He highlighted that only practical ethics are accepted by Islam.
The meeting continued with a talk by HIWM Seyed Alireza Razavi, President of the European Council of Shi‘a Ministers, expressing the importance of learning science and education in the lives of people, and use of these abilities to build a healthy society. He said all religious leaders are responsible for all decent or corrupt social behaviour and morality. He said people always regard clerics and religious leaders as guides for their theoretical and practical ethics. Mr Razavi added that the month of Ramadan is an opportunity for clerics to teach the proper ways of life and the moral and behavioural needs of the people. He stressed the significance of educating the younger generation as the most important group of communities in the field of moral and ethical issues and called for the assistance of the clerics to help parents in this regard.
HIWM Seyed Najm al-Hassan, as the fourth speaker, mentioning a quote from Imam Khomeini, “People are our blessing”. It means that it adds to the responsibility of clerics and religious leaders towards people and society.
He added that people always look at the ethics and moral practices of clergy rather than their speech. This means that we should start with improving our own morality, and in the true sense, show spiritual characteristics in our actions and practices. He defined the greatest responsibility in the holy month of Ramadan was to explain the ethics and practice of the Imams to the community.
The final speaker, HIWM Dr Muhmmad Ali Shomali, head of the Islamic Centre of England, expressed his thanks to the attendees and stressed that the main goal of this gathering was sympathy and consonance. By emphasising the issue of ethics in society and religious moral values, he added that for a Muslim and especially religious clerics and leaders, the most important issue should be attention to ethical values, practising those values and promoting them among society.
Dr Shomali raised the question of why we always research and study all the sciences but neglect the science of ethics. In today’s world, morality is needed in every aspect of society. There is no area of human life unless it has to be regulated by moral principles and values, such as environment, business, medicine, education, information technology and social media.
He emphasised that it is the duty of clerics and religious leaders to observe morality in directing all their actions and religious missions and guiding the community. Referring to a narration from Imam Sadiq(a), he highlighted the need for scholars whose face and faith remind people of God and the hereafter.
Dr Shomali added that one of the aims and objectives of these types of meetings is to promote a practical implementation of ethics in society. Referring to the moral decline of some deviant people in Islamic societies, he recalled the incident at Imam Husayn Mosque in South Africa and asked how one could accept that a Muslim, under the banner of Islam, attacks a mosque and the Muslims inside? Unfortunately, these acts among Muslims is an indication of the moral decline of some Muslims, and it is the duty of religious leaders to take part in establishing morality and moral values in communities so that Islamic societies do not witness such unethical catastrophes. The speaker added that the scholars should take the lead and not let some inexperienced or short-sighted people cause division and discord among the community or cause confrontation with other communities.
He concluded his speech by expressing his hope that the month of Ramadan would be a month for the development of moral values and acting upon those, and wishing that Imam Mahdi(atf) guides all Muslims. The meeting ended with Q & A session.
by Fatimah Mohammad