Institutionalization of Morality – Unanswered Questions!


Institutionalization of Morality – Unanswered Questions!
by alborz

Iranians lament deep rooted corruption in every aspect of their society and it is with a sense of great loss that they look back at what was once a proud past in the history of morality, justice and human rights.  The simple and yet profound message of Zoroaster, Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’ (پندار نیک، گفتار نیک، کردار نیک), is the most well known and commonly used phrase that we proudly say and display as a sign of our moral heritage.

What can explain this gap between our moral heritage and our immoral present?  Our burdened society has sought simple reasons for this decay.  When Iran was a monarchy, corruption was linked to the ineptitude of our monarchs.  Now, all fingers point to an Islamic theocracy that wields the instruments of power and legitimacy.  The consequence has been an unprecedented abhorrence for anything that is institutionally Islamic.

Present day instruments of governance have failed miserably in creating a noble society, despite their efforts to exemplify such a society as the fruit of Islamic jurisprudence.  In response to coercion, Iranians have further distanced themselves from the claimed faith of their ancestors.  The rise in corruption and immorality in society has led to yet another failed attempt in institutionalizing that which is self initiated and regulated.

Morality has been institutionalized on the basis of fundamental precepts in Shi’ism.  As an example the much repeated and familiar admonition (امر به معروف و نهی از منکر) that commands every Shi’ite Moslem to admonish another in doing that which is expected of them, as a religious precept (واجبات ), and to avoid that which is prohibited and forbidden           (مکروه ).

The charter of these institutions, known as (ستاد امر به معروف و نهی از منکر ), encompass every aspect of life.  These institutions also contain the instruments of control as evidenced in the use of the word (ستاد ). While they appear to be utter failures in exerting the desired influence on society, can sinister objectives be pursued under their existing cloak?

Can the banner of justice be raised in a theocracy that has sunken to the unprecedented depths of corruption and immorality, and with economic woes that perpetuate disillusionment amongst the masses it tries to influence?

Our resilience as a people has been shaped by our ability to defiantly coexist with adversaries.  Foreign power intrigues and religious machinations fill the pages of our checkered history.  Today, a relentless theocracy draws its life blood from an entrenched dogma and a trail of perceived threats.  Can there be any wonder that we find ourselves trapped between a palpable illusion of our past and the tangible reality of our present?

In such a society, can the exaltation of human virtues, as exemplified in social justice, individual rights and freedoms be, once again, enshrined?




more from alborz

Proud Bideen - So you say that ...

by alborz on

... the reason behind why the rest of the world is not like European countries is that people are affiliated with a religion? 

If they were irreligious, then the world's challenges, in the areas of:

social strife, unemployment, exploitation of women and children, drug smuggling and abuse, environmental pollution, rampant corporate and governement corruption, extremes in wealth and poverty, hunger and disease, lack of access to education and shelter, and finally, immorality,

would be wiped off the face of the earth?

I acknowledge that this is not what you meant when you made the earlier remark, but there is no evidence that universal prosperity and happiness will come from any of the past and present philosophies and theories that abound the social and economic order of the day, nor any of the socialist societies in Europe or capitalist America.

Finally, allow me to share something with you.

In science, confirmation of a theory is not found in the evidence that proves it, but rather in not finding the evidence that disproves it.  So this is why theories are valid until they are proven wrong.

As a Proud Bideen, you can have the advantage of applying the scientific method without guilt nor a sense of betrayal.  I strongly recommend that you make use of this advantage and not limit yourself to the blanket dismissal that is typically used by fanatic or dogmatic adherents of religions.

You can enjoy the fruits of your intellectual freedoms more fully if the path that you have chosen is free from bias and allows  you unfetterd consideration of all that is available to you.

Be well,



to Alborz : bias vs objectivity

by Proud bideen (not verified) on

When evaluating a writing, one of the first things to consider, is the author's affiliation or other interest(s). Upon assessing your blog, it was only objective to consider your faith, given the blog's content, and not being biased as you say, no?

I admit that I am biased against religions, because they create division and problems with people. However, I did not let it obscure my judgement. I did state your blog's content was valid.

Religions are :"holier that thou " attitude abound... all of them!


to Ahang Rabbani

by Proud bideen (not verified) on

I do agree with you in general regarding the decline of our moral values, however, I don't believe any one religion is the answer. Some of the happiest and most prosperous places are in countries where there have the least number of people believing in religions(European countries). Those people have the highest number of women politicians, very low crime rates, are scientifically advanced, high standard of living, etc.

BTW, not that it matters, but I never quoted from Zoroaster, you must have confused me with someone else.


Proud Bideen - found a hidden message!

by alborz on

Now let's see if this message was hidden in the blog or in your mind.

1) You have clearly stated "I am biased against all religions".  Can we therefore not agree that your bias creates a basis for a "hidden message" to have existed in your mind prior to reading this blog?  In fact, can we go a step further and agree that "bias" is defined as "an inclination of temperament and outlook, especially a personal and sometime unreasoned judgement".

I respect you for your honesty and hence I am willing to go to the next step.

2) This blog is specifically about the Institutionalization of Morality and not about Islam nor its teachings.  I have expressed my own thoughts with regard to our moral heritage as Iranians and then moved onto how a single religious precept in Islam has been used to establish an entire scheme of religious and civil institutions to enforce morality.  Please note that this blog is not a criticism of Islam, but rather the licence that current regime has taken in the implementation of this religious precept.  Could it be that you confused the precept with its manifestation in the institutions? You called this safsateh earlier, and you may do so again.

In this case, I can only present you with an argument, but cannot present you with an understanding.

3) Finally, the blog is replete with unanswered questions.  Is there anyone out there in the blogosphere that would like to just engage with a response to the questions?  I have no expectation from you, as your position is clear.  But I do find it interesting that you are fully engaged in expressing your views on the legitimacy of the questions, principally because I have asked them!

You may not believe me, but I wish someone else would ask these or similar questions so that you could participate without bias.

Can you name an instance where a similar topic on this site has not resulted in name calling, profanity against Islam and its founders?

Is this not the very reason why such topics are avoided by Iranians in general?

In closing, let me just leave you with one more thought.

With all due respect to you as a Proud Bideen, your "bideeni" is another form of dogmatic "deen", so long as you have a "bias" against anything. Anything, period.  Relfect on this and you will see that your position is no different from that of a fanatic follower of any "deen".  In both instances, "bias" deprives one from being able judge and evaluate on merits.

I remain interested in your thoughts on the blog, should you be able to get past its authorship.


Ahang Rabbani

But they are ...

by Ahang Rabbani on

First, I very much enjoyed this blog entry.  It was throught-provoking and well-written.  Many thanks, Alborz.

In reading the comments, I came across the latest note by "Proud bideen" in which he writes, "I tolerate them as long as they do not try to glorify or portray theirs as a real answer or solution for our age."

What is the problem of our age?  Is it not lack of morality?  Do we not see the world around us immersed in materialism, greed, corruption, injustice, intolerance, prejudice, and every other form of immorality?

And if so, where do find the answer?  Where do we seek and learn morality? 

I submit that we learn it from Zoroaster that you also kindly quoted.  His teaching, namely, purity of thought, purity of utterance and purity of deeds, is surely timeless and surely the answer to so many of our ills.  Am I wrong?

But we live in a world slightly more complex than the time Prophet Zoroaster.  And while his teachings of purity of thought, utterance and deeds will certainly aid us, we need more.  We need means for ethical relations among all nations, for equitable distribution of wealth, for fair treatment of all citizens, for free and rich education for all of our children, and for so much more.

The moral foundation that Zoroaster built is the firm basis upon which Christ built more through love for others, and Buddha added, and Brahma added yet more, Muhammad did as well, and now Baha'u'llah is yet adding more by teaching us to embrace the entire world as our motherland and consider each other as brothers and sisters.

Morality and moral teaching is that line that connects all these giants of our history:  Moses, Christ, Zoroaster, Buddha, Baha'u'llah, Muhammad, and the Bab.  And where would we be without that morality?

anonymous fish


by anonymous fish on

then i truly apologize.  i was certainly not intending to be offensive.  the word "endowed" is almost always used in another context.  perhaps a different word would have served your purpose better.



by Proud bideen (not verified) on

Does not the above statement reveal a certain intolerance, even though you accept the ideas in the blog as "valid"?

I am biased against all religions, but I tolerate them as long as they do not try to glorify or portray theirs as a real answer or solution for our age. For example, I have never ever uttered one word against Zoroastrians in my life! You know, it goes with the territory, when you write about your faith, be prepared for a response.

This blog has overtly stated points against one, and at the same time injecting hidden suggestive messages in favor of other. How? The blogger did not have to say one word pro-Bahai, but it subliminally goes in his favor, given his faith. Rather slick!


Thank you faryarm

by Ramin 12 (not verified) on

I have been following this blog and your response to proud bideen is brilliant. it exactly shows what subconscious prejudice looks like. this kind of prejudice is the case with proud bideen. he is morally keen enough to see the point of the blog as valid but his deep rooted prejudice makes him to despise this blog for it's hidden bahai agenda! Hidden, well we all know alborz is a bahai so I don't know why he is offended by it's hidden agenda?
Faryarm your hitting the nail on the head, just brilliant ,thank you.


What would have divorced" Iran "from the paralyzing influence.."

by faryarm on

"However, having sensed an attempt by the blog to implant ideas or suggestions about the Bahai faith, formulated my response in return." 


Does not the above statement reveal a certain intolerance, even though you accept the ideas in the blog as "valid"?

An unprejudiced look at these ideas, Bahai or not might enlighten you as to the progressive influence of social and spiritual principles , revealed to Iranians first, over 160 years ago. Principles which if, had been adopted would have prevented the further downfall and decay in our country; and given rise to a more progressive iranian society; not to mention, for ever "divorced" Iranians "from the paralyzing influences of an antiquated, a fanatical, and outrageously corrupt clergy."




alborz: if you were bideen

by Proud bideen (not verified) on

My response would have been obviously different, and would not have focused on just the Bahais, rather it would have encompassed all religions in general. The blog is valid regarding what's happening in Iran under religious rule. However, having sensed an attempt by the blog to implant ideas or suggestions about the Bahai faith, formulated my response in return.


All mollahs should be imprisoned

by Tahirih19 (not verified) on

and there should be a government that believes in human rights. And it must be guided by a universal infallible body that is spiritual guided by God.


to anonymous fish

by Proud bideen (not verified) on

what you suggested is simply disgusting and quite inapporoptiate, specially given this blog's content. Sex blog??? Here is the meaning of the word endowed, and think clean this time:



Besmehe Ta aalaa

by Jinn (not verified) on

Dont disappoint the Rassoolallah. Sure you can produce a drop from the oceans you understood behind each word of his.
Why dont you talk about Ali, Hussain, Hassan, Omar, Yazid.


Agha Reza41, Here is an ironic point!

by alborz on

While I have presented some thoughts and posed a series of questions, I am not obligated to make you understand nor convince you of anything.

This is precisely where our perspectives on this subject matter diverge.  Do you get this point and the irony of your attempts in the context of this blog?

Why don't you take the initiative and write about some aspect of Islam?  Perhaps you can write a blog on the merits of amr be maroof va nahy az monker? Why not?

I will read it just as I am sure others would.


Reza 41

what is mandate and what is individual choice ???

by Reza 41 on

Mr. Alborz;

 Although, you have some points to make in this blog, and in this case i do agree some of what you are saying, how ever, you are not being totally fair and possibly honest.

you answer some one in the room telling him "  he has mixed up what is mandated vs. what is an individual choice"

well, you minted what Mr. Rabbani , and you did yesterday on hashing the individual Bahai , rather than as you described "someone about to get hit by a car while crossing a street"they  were speaking their mind freely and getting in the train of searching and compering  superiority of Bahai faith with one she was told is obselite ,which I did ask her prior to opening the discussion if she know what she is doing(getting in discussion) which for you bahais is pretty odd to get in real intellectual talk based on evidence and fact.

therefore , I know for sure, Bahai leaders discourage adherents to walking in to the any discussion that leads them to clearification status of Bahai cor belief, and as you know this is not only zoned for Islamist, even discussion among Bahai are not allowed, clear example of such a law is Dr.Jean Cole t9  discussion group which was called to shut down in 90's , every one knows Dr. Cole was devoted long time Bahai member like you, therefore there is no misconception and individual choice by you and Mr.Rabbani to jumping in the middle and disrupt discussion which end result put Bahaie belief in spotlight and instigates more searches.

(clear voice recorded order of such a order is described by one of well known Bahai scholar and is available only by your Bahais request ) 

as far as what is mandated by Islam and what individual do even in IRI , in some cases no match at all , therefore you can not claim every individual let say every president incumbency in Iran implements what was mandated correctly, different understanding and perception from Book  of GOD Quran is WILL OF GOD, in GOD law, who is more virtue  and righteous has different understanding than one is not as much in the "taghva" there for racing for right(Hagh) IS PART OF THE GAME , for example ; what hard liner and liberal in IRI do, why do they far from each other? they both believe IRI and they both are Muslim.therefore this is well planed by GOD which Bahai belief  dont believe and allow such diversity in the faith(correct me if I am wrong) .  to make my point, here is some highlight what Imam Khomeini (r) ordered to be implement in society which it has been violated by his once opponent group , now   masquerade as pro revolution many time as we all know and see on youtub.

3ـ آقايان قضات واجد شرايط اسلامي, چه در دادگستري و چه در دادگاه هاي انقلاب بايد با استقلال و قدرت بدون ملاحظه از مقامي احكام اسلام را صادر كنند و در سراسر كشور بدون مسامحه و تعويق به كار پر اهميت خود ادامه دهند و مأمورين ابلاغ و اجرا و ديگر مربوطين به اين امر بايد از احكام آنان تبعيت نمايند تا ملت از صحت قضا و ابلاغ و اجرا و احضار احساس آرامش قضائي نمايند و احساس كنند كه در سايه احكام عدل اسلامي جان و مال و حيثيت آنان در امان است. و عمل به عدل اسلامي مخصوص به قوه قضائيه و متعلقات آن نيست, كه در ساير ارگان هاي نظام جمهوري اسلامي از مجلس و دولت و متعلقات آن و قواي نظامي و انتظامي و سپاه پاسداران و كميته ها و بسيج و ديگر متصديان امور نيز به طور جدي مطرح است و احدي حق ندارد با مردم رفتار غير اسلامي داشته باشد.

4ـ هيچ كس حق ندارد كسي را بدون حكم قاضي كه از روي موازين شرعيه بايد باشد توقيف كند يا احضار نمايد, هر چند مدت توقيف كم باشد. توقيف يا احضار به عنف جرم است و موجب تعزير شرعي است.

5ـ هيچ كس حق ندارد در مالِ كسي چه منقول و چه غير منقول و در مورد حق كسي دخل و تصرف كند يا توقيف و مصادره نمايد مگر به حكم حاكم شرع, آن هم پس از بررسي دقيق ثبوت حكم از نظر شرعي.

هيچ كس حق ندارد به خانه يا مغازه و يا محل كار شخصي كسي بدون اذن صاحب آن ها وارد شود يا كسي را جلب كند يا به نام كشف جرم يا ارتكاب گناه تعقيب و مراقبت نمايد و يا نسبت به فردي اهانت نموده و اعمال غير انساني ـ اسلامي مرتكب شود, يا به تلفن يا نوار ضبط صوت ديگري به نام كشف جرم يا كشف مركز گناه گوش كند و يا براي كشف گناه و جرم هر چند گناه بزرگ باشد, شنود بگذارد و يا دنبال اسرار مردم باشد و تجسس از گناهان غير نمايد يا اسراري كه از غير به او رسيده ولو براي يك نفر فاش كند. تمام اين ها جرم و گناه است و بعضي از آن ها چون اشاعه فحشا و گناهان از كبائر بسيار بزرگ است و مرتكبين هر يك از امور فوق مجرم و مستحق تعزير شرعي هستند و بعضي از آن ها موجب حد شرعي مي باشد.

7ـ آن چه ذكر شد و ممنوع اعلام شد, در غير مواردي است كه در رابطه با توطئه ها و گروهك هاي مخالف اسلام و نظام جمهوري اسلامي است كه در خانه هاي امن و تيمي براي براندازي نظام جمهوري اسلامي و ترور شخصيت هاي مجاهد و مردم بي گناه كوچه و بازار و براي نقشه هاي خراب كاري و افساد في الارض اجتماع مي كنند و محارب خدا و رسول مي باشند, كه با آنان در هر نقطه كه باشند و هم چنين در جميع ارگان هاي دولتي و دستگاه هاي قضائي و دانشگاه ها و دانشكده ها و ديگر مراكز با قاطعيت و شدت عمل ولي با احتياط كامل بايد عمل شود, لكن تحت ضوابط شرعيه و موافق دستور دادستان ها و دادگاه ها, چرا كه تعدي از حدود شرعيه حتي نسبت به آنان نيز جايز نيست, چنان چه مسامحه و سهل انگاري نيز نبايد شود. و در عين حال مأمورين بايد خارج از حدود مأموريت كه آن هم منحصر است به محدوده سركوبي آنان حسب ضوابط مقرره و جهات شرعيه, عملي انجام ندهند. و مؤكداً تذكر داده مي شود كه اگر براي كشف خانه هاي تيمي و مراكز جاسوسي و افساد عليه نظام جمهوري اسلامي از روي خطا و اشتباه به منزل شخصي يا محل كار كسي وارد شدند و در آن جا با آلت لهو يا آلات قمار و فحشا و س

اير جهات انحرافي مثل مواد مخدره برخورد كردند حق ندارند آن را پيش ديگران افشا كنند

, چرا كه اشاعه فحشا از بزرگ ترين گناهان كبيره است و هيچ كس حق ندارد هتك حرمت مسلمان و تعدي از ضوابط شرعيه نمايد. فقط بايد به وظيفه نهي از منكر به نحوي كه در اسلام مقرر است عمل نمايند و حق جلب يا بازداشت يا ضرب و شتم صاحبان خانه و ساكنان آن را ندارند و تعدي از حدود الهي ظلم است و موجب تعزير و گاهي تقاص مي باشد. و اما كساني كه معلوم شود شغل آنان جمع مواد مخدره و پخش بين مردم است, در حكم مفسد في الارض و مصداق ساعي در ارض براي فساد و هلاك حرث و نسل است و بايد علاوه بر ضبط آن چه از اين قبيل موجود است آنان را به مقامات قضائي معرفي كنند. و هم چنين هيچ يك از قضات حق ندارند ابتدائاً حكمي صادر نمايند كه به وسيله آن مأموران اجرا اجازه داشته باشند به منازل يا محل هاي كار افراد وارد شوند كه نه خانه امن و تيمي است و نه محل توطئه هاي ديگر عليه نظام جمهوري اسلامي, كه صادر كننده و اجرا كننده چنين حكمي مورد تعقيب قانوني و شرعي است.

(فرازهایی از پیام ٨ ماده ای امام خمینی (ره )خطاب به دولت و قوه قضاییه در سال ٦١)

Dear Mr. Alborz , this is ,what is mandate in Islam, if you really are after truth and not try to denigrate Islamic law and words of GOD .and if is any thing wrong with it Bahai faith has no better law to offer . if it has what is it ? people like me would want to know.



Proud Bideen - since you have changed your tone...

by alborz on

...I will simply respond by saying that this blog is NOT about Moslems or Islam.   Nor is there any remark or conclusion that says "what Moslems do is bad".  Please don't attribute your conclusion to me.

I like the fact that you have introduced the term "responsibility" into this discussion.  As a Proud Bideen you must value it so much that you wish to exercise it as you will and do not wish to have it imposed on you by a mere human being on the basis of mandate that legitimizes the act.

Please read the blog again, and this time assume that another "Proud Bideen" like yourself, wrote it.  Do you now see what the point of the blog is?  I doubt that the point is so subtle that it can be missed if one is objective.

Is it not possible for you to get past your initial conclusion that was formed by who wrote the blog?  If it makes sense, are you still compelled to call it safsateh?


anonymous fish

better endowed?

by anonymous fish on

since when did this become a sex blog?  :-)))

sorry faryam... i didn't mean to divert this blog but i couldn't help it.

i agree that this is a very astute article and commend alborz on how written it is. 


such arrogance

by proud bideen (not verified) on

Religious people think within the same lines. Some of them suggest opposing views are personal attacks , and try to dissuade debates. They also try to derail from a valid objection, and attempt to rationalize their philosophies for which they have no clear answer for (safsateh), and finally in desperation, they try to confuse minds .

My post counters the very same thing that you guys claim that Shi'ite have, and you supposedly don't. Why is what the moslems do is bad, and yours is called "responsibility"? Such hypocrisy and arrogance!

Please focus on the subject, and answer objectively to the counterview, otherwise, let the better endowed people to take over.


Institutionalization of morality only?

by snow (not verified) on

Iran has become an institution.Every aspect of their lives is being controlled. it is a police state,the only thing is that the rules does not apply to akhonds and agha zadeha.


Heritage : No such mandate!

by alborz on

As for Bideen's comment, he has mixed up what is mandated vs. what is an individual choice.

If you see someone about to get hit by a car while crossing a street, do you need a mandate to warn them?  Now extend that to any counsel that is exchanged between any two people. 

In this case, the mandate gives everyone the license to encroach on the lives of others and in the IRI, it is now institutionalized.  Morality police roam the streets based on such a mandate and institutions are set up to do what people refuse to do on its own merits. 

There lies the distinction for me.

Great start!




by faryarm on

Alborz's very astute questions  address the decay, the prevalent moral and spiritual standards in our society.

Please dont try to ruin or divert this potentially very useful blog, by attacking individuals or their efforts to engage in intelligent discourse.



why such hypocrisy? Just look at yourselves!

by proud bideen (not verified) on

You guys do plenty of "amre-be maroof, nahye-az monkar" already, it is in your philosophy and belief system, get over yourselves. A very simple example: just take a look at the blogs here and you'll see plenty. Tahirih has been cautioned so many times already. She has been advised not be so abrasive, nor to argue with Qom seminaries, etc. Alborz, you yourself were advised yesterday. And countless other examples. COUNTLESS. You know the old saying , "People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones" ?! Just take a look at yourselves.

You people are so funny!


امر به معروف و نهی از منکر

Heritage (not verified)

Is "amre be maroof, nahye az monkar" allowed in Baha'i Faith?Any quotation?


امر به معروف و نهی از منکر

heritage (not verified)

Is "amre be maroof nahye az monkar" allowed in Baha'i Faith?
Any quotation?