The Iranian regime claims that it does not want to use nuclear energy for military purposes and in order to prove this point they refer to a Fatwa or religious ruling of the Iranian Supreme Leader which allegedly forbids the weapons of mass destruction. Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, has said that Iran will turn this fatwa into law in order to assure others about Iran’s nuclear intentions.
On 26/10/1391, the spokesperson of the Iranian foreign ministry is asked: “Noting the recent interview of the Iranian Foreign Minister with Foreign Policy and declaring that Tehran is ready to register the Fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei as a mandatory [!?] Document of the UN, has this happened and have you presented this proposal to the members of the P 5+1?”
To which he responded: “The Islamic Republic is against the use of WMD…for us nothing is more important than implementing the fatwa of the leader…but the Western countries have not a clear understanding of our Islamic beliefs and the fatwas of our Islamic scholars.” (1)
In other words, the foreign ministry does not answer any of those questions.
No one has actually seen the Fatwa. Fatwas have a certain status in the Islamic jurisprudence. They have some formatting and content requirements. The fatwas are usually in the form of a question asked by the persons who follow a source of emulation, and the source gives an answer. The content of fatwa makes its subject justified according to some religious records and facts.
Since the nuclear fatwa has never been seen anywhere, it is not clear what the format and contents of the fatwa are such as to whom it is addressed (who or what organization has asked the question of fatwa), what has been asked specifically, and what kind of the religious words (such as Haram meaning totally forbidden) are used in the response.
According to a well-established Islamic source, Fatwa is: “A universally applicable religious law concerning a particular issue that is derived from the four sources of Islamic law (Quran, Sunnah [the practice of the holy ones] consensus and intellect using the juristic interpretation.” (2) It is said that the fatwa was issued in 2005 (3) and they claimed to have distributed the text of fatwa as a UN document.
On the 31st of October, 2013, Larijani the Speaker of Iranian Majles said: “The Supreme Leader has called nuclear arms haram in the form of a fatwa. We were even willing to register this fatwa, which is above the law, as a document in the UN.” (4) This is evidence that no such document has been registered in the UN as the nuclear ban fatwa of Khamenei by that date. There are no records of such registration after that date either. Therefore, all kinds of claims by officials of the Iranian government about registration of the nuclear fatwa of the Supreme Leader of Iran are baseless.
When a fatwa is issued by the sources of emulation, it is published having gone through proper channels. These days that the clerics in Iran are all computerized and they have extensive financial and other facilities to propagate their rulings, these fatwas are posted multiple websites, including the official websites of such clerics. The rulings of Ayatollah Khamenei on almost everything on earth, especially the issues related to temporary marriage, women’s menstrual cycle, heritage, and religious taxes and so on are published in detail and in a very organized way on the websites affiliated with the personal office of the Iranian leader and the variety of institutions in Iran whose duty is to find and publish the ideas of the leader on each and every issue (they publish hundreds of books every year analyzing the words of the leader in as many ways as possible, such as how many times each word has been repeated in a set time frame by the leader). However, such an important fatwa on the nuclear issues that is praised by so many of the officials of the Iranian government in and out of the country is nowhere in the texts of the fatwas of the leader. It cannot be found in Farsi or in English or in any other language among the many languages that all other fatwas of the leader are posted.
The claim that Islam forbids weapons of mass destruction because Khanemei has issued a Fatwa on it is not acceptable at all. The religious ruling (fatwa) of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, is mandatory only to Khamenei’s followers and this has limited value. Let us not forget that Khamenei lacks serious credentials as a religious scholar and, for that reason, has extended the scope of his religious authority to Shiite communities outside Iran’s borders, where his background is less well-known. Within Iran itself, very few Shiites accept him as an authority or a source of imitation (taqlid). The concept and practice of “imitation” is particular to Shiites. Therefore, when Iranian officials claim that “Islam” forbids the nuclear bomb, the only Muslims bound by such a position would be those Shiites who follow the Iranian supreme leader as their source of imitation—in effect, a small percentage of an already small group.
Inasmuch as any fatwa must have a basis in Islamic jurisprudence, it is not clear what forms the basis for the claim that “Islam forbids nuclear weapons.” If it is the extent of “mass destruction” then one is entitled to ask how much destruction qualifies. Large numbers of people were killed on the battlefield during the Iran-Iraq war, especially owing to Iran’s “human wave” strategy whereby Iranian soldiers, many of them children and teenagers, ran en masse over minefields. In no single case did Ayatollah Khomeini, who wielded more power and authority than the present supreme leader, issue a fatwa condemning these levels of destruction and loss of life as contrary to Islam.
Khomeini never condemned the Iraqi nuclear project as “un-Islamic,” nor did he stand in the way as Iran pursued a nuclear program with potential for military application. Had either Iran or Iraq won the nuclear race, there is little doubt it would have used it against the other with no hesitation.
Some sources, intentionally, have pretended that the message of Khamenei to the Disarmament Conference in Tehran on 4 April 2010 in which he has called the use of WMD as contrary to “the humanitarian laws and a clear example of war crimes” (5) is the same as a fatwa for banning nuclear weapons. This is clearly a deception tactic. First of all, he has not clearly banned nuclear weapons in this message and secondly, even if he had, a message in no way qualifies as a fatwa.
Notwithstanding the fact that even a properly-executed fatwa would not stop the regime from carrying out its plans and intentions, and the fact that the same or a different source of emulation could at any time issue a contrary fatwa, and given the availability of the well-known practice of Taghiye (in Shiite lying is permissible if faced with danger or threat), the Iranian regime did not bother to follow its own rules and requirements governing the issuance of a proper fatwa and yet the Iranian officials expect others to take them at their word about the existence and impact of the nuclear-ban fatwa!
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