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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


January 31, 2001

Little democracy in any religion

Much applause for Mr. Mahdavi for an argument that was well done and illuminating ["Minority rule"]. However:

1- It can be well argued that Shiism did not give rise to minoritarian forces; it was the other way around: minoritarian political forces gave birth to Shiism. A group of political activists, disillusioned by the dilemma of succession after the prophet's death, needed an ideology to legitimize certain political activity. Shiism was born out of that.

2- The contrarian nature of Shiism branch did not stop in 500 AD with the birth of Shiism, it went on to gave birth to a number of other minoritarian and contrarian forces, the most prominent of which was Bahaism - again a movement born out of a political and perhaps an economic necessity.

3- Lastly, there is little democratic flavor in any of the world's unitarian religions, whether it is Islam (in all its varieties), Catholicism or Judaism. No unitarian religion can honestly allow for majority rule since unitarian religions by their nature are absolutist: They rely on the notion that there is a legitimate authority named God who is beyond the scope of normal human understanding and needs to be interpreted by a learned religious figure. This renders the idea of a theologically-endorsed democratic order forever an impossibility or a hypocrisy.

Ramin Tabib


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