A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics 4

A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics 4

Islam and Monkery

Now, we shall see what the view of Islam in this respect is: Islam condemns social seclusion and all of its appearances, being commented as monkery. The well-known tradition, "there is not any monkery in Islam" is narrated in most of tradition books. Monkery is commonly applied to those who dissociate and seclude people for worship and fear of God.

Historical Origin

This action has been popular among the Indians from old times, and then it became common among Christians. Some believe that its prevalence among Christians or the Jews originated from the repeated defeats, which they suffered from one of the cruel and dictator kings of that time, and then they decided to become scattered and engage in worship in deserts until the promised prophet appears, and delivers them from humbleness and scattering.(1)

Mental Origin

Basically, the mental reaction of various individuals and nations to defeats and failures is different. Some tend to seclusion and subjectivism, and disturb the course of their social thoughts in general, but some others, the number of which is less than the first group, become more rigorous and harsh, and return from superficial challenge to the rooted and underlying challenges. Monkery is actually the same reaction of defeated individuals and nations of the first group. Now that we know the historical and mental origin of monkery, and it is made clear that monkery is against man's healthy nature, the following tradition can explain the attitude of Islam towards it: Osman Ebne Mazoun inclined to monkery as a result of a mental defeat (losing his beloved child) and resorted to worship to relieve his grief. When the Prophet (S) was informed, he forbade him and said: The Great God has not assigned monkery for us.

Then he added to it a fundamental phrase: Surely, the monkery of my nation is struggle in the way of God.(2) In other words, if monkery means neglecting the pleasures and comforts of life, it should be applied for serving preservation of Islamic principles and magnificence of the society, like warfare. And it is narrated from Imam Mousabne Ja'far that someone asked him: Is it permitted for a Muslim to select journey and vagabondage, or monkery, and not going out of house? He said: no.(3)

Wandering in this tradition may refer to a sort of monkery in the form of tourism without luggage and provision with the purpose of separation from cities and societies and or escaping house and family. Anyhow, it is deduced from above tradition that monkery and social seclusion, either in the form of sitting at home, closing the door and leaving the world, or in the form of wandering without any means and escaping home, life and society, is condemned in Islam because it is in contradiction with the spirit of Islamic instructions.

Moreover, Holy Qur’an has called monkery, which is common among Christians, a condemned innovation: And (as for) monkery, they innovated it-- We did not prescribe it to them-- only to seek Allah's pleasure, but they did not observe it with its due observance.(4)

The total of these evidences explains the attitude of Islam towards monkery. And one point remains here unsolved, that is: Has monkery existed in the other religions? According to the Islamic documents there has been a sort of monkery in Christianity, but very different with the present monkery and program of monks. Because the appearance of above phrase indicates that God has prescribed a sort of monkery for them, with the purpose of seeking God's pleasure, but they did not observe its limits, and invented another one instead of it that Qur’an has called it an innovation.

Now, we shall see what this legitimate monkery meant. Certainly, in the original Christianity, as per historical and religious documents (even the gospels) there have not been giving up marriage absolutely, social seclusion and separation from society, and hesitance in the convents and cloisters, which are among the today's monkery ceremonies. As per definite documents, a number of apostles and Disciples of Christ married and associated with people. Therefore, the legitimate monkery may signify the same lexical meaning and fear of God mingled with a sort of asceticism, and being heedless to worldly splendor, and simplicity while living within the society, as Christ (A.S.) and his disciples were.

But the phrase "but they observed it not as it should be observed", has two senses. First, they did not observe the limits of legitimate monkery, and violated its regulations, and innovated therein, and altered it into monasticism and leaving normal life in the world and giving up marriage absolutely. Second, they did not observe the same false and innovative monkery, and as it will be later referred, some of them committed unlawful deeds in the covenants instead of righteousness, chastity and being heedless of the world, and proceeded in the way of worldliness, and provided the facilities for revelry, pleasure, and carouse in some of those centers, being established with the name of monkery.

Monkery Among Christians

The existing histories of Christianity indicate that monkery, in present form, did not exist in the first centuries of Christianity, and its appearance dates back to third Christian century, when the Roman Emperor, called Dissious, conflicted vigorously with the Christians, and after being defeated by this Emperor, they escaped and resorted to the mountains and deserts.(5) It is noteworthy that the same is narrated in the traditions of Prophet (S), when he said to Ebne Masoud: Do you know whereof monkery originates? He said: God and His Prophet are more informed. He said: Some of the unjust rulers appeared after Christ (A.S.), and the believers fought them three times, and when they were defeated, escaped to the deserts and mountains and waited for appearance of the Promised Prophet of Christ (Mohammad (S)), and engaged in worship therein.(6)

Will Durant, the famous Christian historian wrote a detailed discussion in respect to monks in the volume 31 of his history. He believes that joining of nuns to the monks was started from fourth century A.C., and monkery developed increasingly so that it was in its utmost degree of progress in the tenth Christian century. Then he narrates a detailed explanation about the situation of convents, and the custom of giving up marriage and attempt of monks for inhabiting the arid lands and agriculture, hand crafts, embroidery and other amusements of nuns. One of the most basic requisites of monkery was giving up marriage absolutely.

Farid Vajdi narrates in the encyclopedia that some of the monks assumed attention to the female so satanic that they even did not accept to take a female animal into the house, for the fear of their spirituality to be damaged by its satanic spirit. However, the history remembers a lot of calamities and tragedies so that Pop "third Inossan" described one of the convents as "lupanar".(7) And some of them were a centre for gathering of epicures and secularists and sensual people and the best wines were prepared there.



1. Refer to the history of "Viel Dorant"

2. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 170/8, narration 112

3. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 119/70, narration 10

4. The Holy Quran 57:27

5. Refer to the encyclopedia of twentieth century, article Monk

6. Refer to Majmaol Bayan commentary, under verse 27 of Suratul Hadid, and Bihar al-Anwar, volume 70, subject "forbiddance of mockery"

7. Will Durant, history of civilization, 443/13