When there is morality in a community, when a community enjoys virtues like selflessness, brotherhood, beneficence, justice, and knowledge, and when there is fairness and vices are not prevalent in a society, the people of that community will live a heavenly life. The moral identity of a society is the true identity of that society. That is to say, the moral behavior of a society acts as the main structure, the pivot, of that society. When a nation is stripped of its spiritual and moral ideals, it loses its true identity.
Divine morality and moral values have been explained in detail in Islam – be it individual virtues such as patience, sincerity, avoidance of extravagance, or social virtues such as magnanimity, modesty, selflessness, and respect. Islam has also elaborated on the virtues related to the entire Muslim community. Islamic morality is very wide in scope. Most of the efforts of divine prophets, saints, and religious luminaries – and in Islam, the efforts of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), imams, and Islamic luminaries – were focused on promoting these values. In fact, morality was one of the distinctive features that helped distinguish between the Islamic period and the era of ignorance that preceded it.
All the corruption that occurs in a society is rooted in moral turpitudes. Moral tendencies and principles of people determine their actions. If we observe wrong actions in a society or part of the world, we can trace them back to problematic ethical principles. As we see in some parts of the world, most of the tragedies that befall humanity are rooted in moral corruption and wrong ethical principles. Of course, political and economic causes should not be ignored. However, if you pay close attention to the roots of all issues, you can find a trace of ethical problems. Today international plights and problems associated with political extremism and evil governments have their roots in ethical issues. Similarly, problems of the ordinary people can be traced back to their ignorance.
Human values and spirituality have been alienated in the modern world. That is why there is oppression and domination in the world. That is why the world is full of violence, oppression, bullying, and injustice. That is why superpowers have spread their domination over nations across the world and are plundering their properties. When spirituality, ethical values, and virtues are sidelined, vices and corruption will take over, money and material possessions will gain value, powerful and wealthy people will not stop at anything to further their goals, and the world will be in the same situation as it is today.
In western democracies, there are certain qualifications that are considered necessary. Normally, the support of a particular party determines whether candidates are qualified or not. The Islamic Republic considers moral and ideological qualifications as well as knowledge and political factors. People must not say that morality and ideology are personal issues in the absolute sense. Morality and ideology may belong in the personal realm, but they cannot be considered personal for a government official. In the case of government officials, ideology and morality are socially important, as they are supposed to rule the people. Such people must have other qualifications over and above competence and knowledge: They need moral courage as well as religious, political, and ideological piety.
Morality is of paramount importance. As a result, an Islamic government cannot be indifferent to the culture and morality of its people. An Islamic government does not just think about preserving its power and it cannot be indifferent to the actions of its people – even if they are caught in a vortex of decadence. An Islamic government must share the pain of its people’s corruption. That was the way the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) ruled the early community of Muslims and Islamic governments must follow his example. An Islamic government cannot be indifferent to the physical and spiritual pains of its people and their intellectual or emotional well-being.
With regard to morality, we must practice what we preach. If we firmly adhere to what we believe and preach, and if we show our beliefs in action, we will be able to influence our audience. Then there will be no need for persuasion and coercion. Rather, the mere attraction of practice will force others into agreement and harmony.
Of course morality is the last thing to change in a social upheaval. Morality is not the same as social behavior, although people’s behavior towards one another is traditionally referred to as morality. Even in this conception, morality changes very slowly. Nevertheless, that is not what I mean by morality. The last thing that changes in a society is the morality and ethical values of its people – be it individual or social. Different groups of people share different tendencies: People from a particular ethnic background may be best known for their bigotry while other people from a different ethnic background may be famous for their laziness. These characteristics change very slowly. If a group of people suffer from such negative characteristics or vices, it will take a very long time for the people to change.
Fortunately, our nation, especially our youth have made great spiritual progress. But moral transformation is not limited to that. Moral transformation is conceivably more difficult for older people. Therefore, the youth of the country are responsible for this transformation, as it is always easier for them to put things into practice. The hearts of the youth are pure and their innocent nature is intact. They are not deeply involved in material impurities. They are free from the shackles of love for material possessions, wealth, social position, and power. As a result, moral transformation is much easier for the youth. Of course middle aged people must not give up hope in moral transformation. Moral transformation is to get rid of all moral turpitudes – all vices and negative attitudes that exasperate other people or impede one’s progress.
Moral transformation can be minimally described as a situation in which society is free from spite, clever people do not use their intelligence for deception, and knowledgeable people do not use their knowledge to harm the people and benefit their enemies. In such a situation all people are beneficent to one another, avoid spite and jealousy, do not try to make their life more comfortable at the cost of destroying other people’s lives, and give up the desire to achieve everything. Therefore, reforming man lies at the foundation of the Islamic Revolution, and this in turn requires spiritual reform as a prerequisite. Human comfort is the result of morality that is gained from religion. This reform has been the primary goal of all divine revolutions and the purpose of sending prophets to humanity. That is because the world will change if the people change.