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Faith

Plato’s Republic and Arba’een

202
Faith

Plato’s Republic and Arba’een

The most just person is one who governs himself with reason, harnesses his lowly desires and fears, and has the valor of a warrior to help him struggle against the malignant intruders that seek to invade his inner utopia. Every aspect of this person’s soul accedes to philosophy, the understanding of Truth.

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The most just person is one who governs himself with reason, harnesses his lowly desires and fears, and has the valor of a warrior to help him struggle against the malignant intruders that seek to invade his inner utopia. Every aspect of this person’s soul accedes to philosophy, the understanding of Truth.

To answer a question posed to him about the definition of justice, Socrates, in Plato’s book The Republic, attempts to map out a utopian society that symbolizes the inner workings of man’s soul. It’s easier to identify, he reasons, injustice on a macro scale than it is to distinguish it within one’s self.

A just society, according to Plato, is one where the inhabitants work for the common good according to their capabilities, without being driven by fear or greed to usurp a role that does not befit them. In this utopia, wealth is evenly distributed between the laborers – who are the producers of their society, the warriors, – who are the spirited protectors of their society, and the philosophers – who use reason and their balanced understanding of justice to rule society.

To overlay this analogy onto the soul of man, a similar political system reigns in ourselves. The most just person is one who governs himself with reason, harnesses his lowly desires and fears, and has the valor of a warrior to help him struggle against the malignant intruders that seek to invade his inner utopia. Every aspect of this person’s soul accedes to philosophy, the understanding of Truth.

Therefore even if he were invisible, even if there wasn’t an afterlife and Day of Resurrection, even if there were no outward repercussions for committing crimes, a truly just person would remain just because being otherwise would upset the harmony within his own soul.

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِي

“He said, ‘Lord, I have wronged myself.'” (Quran, 28:16)

Even if no one is watching, and you step on no one’s toes, you can commit injustice within yourself and be among the oppressors.

إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ

“Truly, I had been of the ones who are unjust.” (Quran, 21:87)

What does this have to do with Arbaeen?

Without a coordinator, supervisor, or any kind of organizer to oversee the country-wide event, the Pilgrimage of Arbaeen works seamlessly and harmoniously to such a degree that it is considered a modern-day miracle. The people of Iraq come together seemingly on their own accord (of course we believe there is a Divine Hand guiding us all, but outwardly, this is not evident to everyone) and work together to form a society so cohesive, it may astound even Plato.

This may be a transient event, but it is proof that such things can happen. Without an incentive for anything but the pleasure of their Lord, the Iraqi people work together to pave a path to the beloved Imam (as) and make the journey as comfortable for the travelers as possible. No thought other than “what else can we do, and what haven’t we done?” drives them to give everything they have – their homes, wealth, time, energy, safety – to the pilgrims of the Imam (as) they love so dearly.

Things no one would think could be found on a roadside are made available, right down to perfume, socks, shoes, medicine, tissues, ice packs, washing machines, etc. Food and drink are provided in abundance, with such variety it dazzles the eyes. Resting places, prayer rooms, first aid booths, restrooms, sleeping quarters, dining halls, and even booths that aid the travelers in learning Quran and the proper way to perform salah are lined up side by side by the average citizen. None of these people were instructed – they were inspired. What one mawkib lacks, its neighbor fills the deficiency.

This is the just society Plato was describing, and at the helm, ruling them all, is the unseen king called Love. Love is what wakes people up early in the morning to hasten to serve strangers they may never meet again. Love is what brings joy to a believer who serves voluntarily, with pure devotion, without asking or thinking of what they will receive in return. The act of serving alone is a joy, and a fulfillment of their life’s purpose. This is a just society.

We often pray for our Savior (atfs) to return to establish justice, but what we may not realize is that such a utopia is not solely going to be based on miracles and fantastical phenomena. Though the latter will take place, it will be like seeds planted in rich soil. Fortification of that soil happens now. The people we can be then, we can be now. During Arbaeen, all are oriented towards Imam Al-Hussain (as) with no thought of self; during the time of Imam Al-Mahdi’s (atfs) return, insha’Allah, it will be the same. May Allah (swt) hasten his reappearance.

Can you establish an Arbaeen pilgrimage in your soul? Can every aspect of yourself work towards a common goal, thinking not of this world but of its Creator? Can you serve, protect, and rule under the banner of Truth and Oneness? If you can, then even if no one can see what you do, or credit you for your hard work, or applaud your selflessness, or admire your generosity, you can continue to behave justly because it would be in alignment with your very essence.

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