Let there be light

The Dark Ages have just begun in Iran.

In European historiography, the period from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (AD 476), until approximately the middle of the 11th century, is often known as the Dark Ages.

The fatalistic tendency of political theorists in the Dark Ages was to view all political power as granted by God and rulers as unaccountable to any human being (although they were accountable to God). Rulers were above the law, and everyone else was obliged to obey them.

The king was sacred, and most political theorists in the Dark Ages believed in unlimited submission to government.

Kings were considered Christ on earth.

With the fall of Rome also came a growing importance in the role of the pope. Leo the Great (Leo I) stands out in bringing the papacy into a leadership force of the Western world. The pope was expected to wear many hats, including not only spiritual leader, but also statesman, administrator, and scholar. During Leo I´s papacy is the first time the title Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff) was used. In Latin this is translated to “highest bridge maker” and Roman emperors had previously used this title to signify their role as high priests in the Roman religion.

Similarly with the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the idea of “absolute guardianship of the Islamic Jurists” (Velayat-e Faqih) gained influence and was advanced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s leadership of the Iranian Revolution.

This doctrine, which now forms the basis of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, maintains that Guardianship should include all issues for which Prophet of Islam and Shi’a Imam have responsibility, including governance of the country.

The constitution of Iran calls for a faqih, or Vali-ye faqih (guardian jurist), to serve as the “Supreme Leader” of the government. The title “Supreme” Leader (Rahbare Moazzam), is often used as a sign of respect; however, this terminology does not exist in the constitution.

The Supreme Leader is the ultimate head of the Iranian political and governmental establishment, above that of Iran’s president. According to the constitution, he has absolute authority over all individuals and in all public matters including internal and foreign policies, control of the army Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and control of state broadcast.

He has the power to overrule the decisions made by publicly elected politicians.

In this doctrine, it is believed that the Vali-ye faqih is the representative of the Hidden Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (the 12th and last Shi’a Imam). So he has a divine right to ruling.

While the “spiritual virtues” and “status” of the Prophet and the Imams are greater than those of contemporary faqih, their power is not, because this virtue “does not confer increased governmental powers”. (Hokumat-e Islami or Islamic Government by Khomeini, p.62)

As it is evident, the Vali-ye faqih assumes the roles of not only spiritual leader, but also administrator, and scholar at the same time. And most importantly, he is also the king with the turban for the crown.

Iran has become the first nation-state in history to apply absolute Velayat-e Faqih in the government. “Guardianship” of the faqih in the Islamic Republic of Iran is represented not only in the Supreme Leader, who must be a cleric, but in other leading bodies, particularly the Assembly of Experts whose members must be clerics, the Council of Guardians, half of whom must be clerics, and the courts. Friday prayer leaders are appointed by the Supreme Leader as well.

The dominant political theories of the European Dark Ages and the premises of Iran’s present ruling establishment are more or less the same.

As the so-called divine rulers helped to destroy the Roman Empire and plunge the Western world into the Dark Ages, Iranian so-called divine rulers are doing the same with the Iranian nation.

During the Dark Ages in Europe, there was complete rule by the church and warrior elite, no human rights to speak of, and degenerate, and inhuman behavior. For human liberty, the period was indeed dark.

In Iran’s mullahcracy there is complete rule by clergymen and the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. Women are arrested for showing their hair or wearing make-up or colorful clothes and men are arrested for wearing their hair long. Young people are jailed or flogged for dancing together at house parties. People are fined for using satellite dishes.

People are stoned to death for having sex. An ayatollah issues a fatwa calling for the assassination of an author without any trial. It is only the organized hypocrisy that allows people to hold governmental posts. All pro-reform newspapers have been closed down. And there is no freedom of speech and press.

EVERY THING is just a show.

In the Western Dark Ages, the church bureaucracy, with the active cooperation of the imperial court, had seized complete control over education with a near-monopoly on literacy, and had formed the backbone of local government in much of the West; so the church could control people’s mind in terms of what to think and what not to think.

Intellectual development suffered from the loss of a unified cultural and educational milieu of far-ranging connections.

Ammianus Marcellinus, Rome’s last great historian lamented that, “Those few buildings which were once celebrated for the serious cultivation of liberal studies, now are filled with ridiculous amusements of torpid indolence. . . The libraries, like tombs, are closed forever.”

Iran’s education system has become one of the most backward education systems in the world, which is busy killing the students’ talents. The people in power have established an education system that does not really educate the people and do not provide them the skills needed to find employment in the Information Age. It corrupts their mind so skillfully that the average time that Iranians spend for book reading is less than five minutes in 24 hours.

The most talented students who survive this system and go to university end up escaping to Western countries.

A year ago, the International Monetary Fund said Iran had the highest rate of brain drain of 90 countries it measured. According to the IMF more than a 150,000 of the best young minds in Iran are leaving every year. And the cost to Iran of not stemming this brain drain – one government estimate put it at nearly $40bn a year.

Mass purges at Iran universities happen in the name of Cultural Revolution to get rid of secular and liberal professors.

In Europe, Christendom lost the art of brick and tile making, of bridge building and public sanitation. A despotic theocracy did not want people to think or to examine the world about them.

Iran’s mass media especially the state television are strictly monitored to control people’s minds and fashion a not-think-at-all mentality. To tell the truth it has been very successful in doing so.

Intellectual life and critical thinking, like tombs, are closed.

Like the Dark Ages in Europe, the patchwork of petty rulers are incapable of supporting the depth of civic infrastructure required to maintain libraries, public baths, arenas, and major educational institutions.

The social effects of the fracture of the Roman state were manifold. Cities and merchants lost the economic benefits of safe conditions for trade and manufacture.

Many Shia Iranians have also left the country. While the revolution has made Iran stricter Islamically, an estimated “two to four million entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople (and their capital)” have emigrated to other countries. Partly as a result, the economy has not prospered in terms of inflation, unemployment, and living standards. Absolute poverty rose by nearly 45 percent during the first 6 years of the Islamic revolution and on several occasions the mustazafin have rioted, protesting the demolition of their shantytowns and rising food prices. Disabled war veterans have demonstrated against mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited.

Other symptoms of the Dark Ages which can be found in present Iran include:

Abandonment of rule by codified law, disappearance of monumental architecture.

Reduced literacy, loss of knowledge, a rigid and hierarchical society with an immense and widening gulf between rich and poor, Simplification of representational art, Abandonment of earlier religious forms, Increase in intra-group violence, and reduced inter-regional trade.

Like the European dark ages, over the past 28 years in Iran there have been little advancement in science, math, or even art, a complete subsistence based economy, a suspension of progress, and a period of intellectual and cultural retrogression, and social decline.

Some call the dark Ages in Europe a “time of ignorance”, the blame for which is to be laid on the Christian Church for “placing the word of religious authorities over personal experience and rational activity”. Exactly the same is going on in Iran.

An annual poll commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corp. ranked Iran as the country with the most negative influence on the world.

However, all these cannot and must not be blamed on Christianity or Islam. They should be blamed on the people who used Christianity and are using Islam to legitimize and make “divine” their own rule.

We should remember that while these Dark Ages were traumatic and destructive, they were, as the English Catholic historian, Christopher Dawson, had earlier noted in The Making of Europe, the very foundation of European and Western culture and paved the way for the Renaissance.

It should not be forgotten that Iran had never experienced a theocracy and the ruling of religious people before 1979 as it is now. So the Iranians needed these years to get rid of the divine-right-for-ruling mentality once and for all.

It took Europe almost 600 years to pass the Dark Ages. In the view of the fact that Iranians are living in the information age and a time of easy communication, if they are going to pass their Dark Ages five times sooner than the Europeans did, they need at least a hundred years to see their Reformation and Renaissance.

Italian scholar Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) who created the concept of a Dark Age in the 1330s said:
“My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age. When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance.”

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