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Reason on the attack
Today more than ever Iranian secular intellectuals have a duty to push back religion into confined individual privacy


October 21, 2005

Islam is not only a religion, but in actuality is a social order, a strict, disciplinary social order guiding and controlling all actions, behaviours, and even thoughts of Muslims. As such it can be more effective as a political system with claims on all necessary organised institutions and legitimate authority that a state needs to remain in power. Islam, organised in its political state, is historically a holy monopoly of authority, an absolute supreme stance for all decisions. An Islamic state is not supposed to be a temporary ruling system that changes by popular vote or by switching off for any reason. 

The current Islamic state is ruled by both the state and government in its literary meaning for which I use the title of “al-Islam w’l dawla”, an ever existing holy entity for guidance of “Dar-al-Islam”, Islamic territory. It is divinely in charge of guiding both legislative and executive actions. Therefore ”al-dawla” is an inseparable part of “al-Islam”. As such the state/government “al-dawla” of Islam does not recognise any “game” of democracy which does not match to the concept of “al-Islam”.

To understand this important character we have to consider the comparison between the statuses of the Prophet of Islam, also the founder of the Islamic state, with the status of the other main prophets like Jesus and Moses.  While Muhammad was responsible for ruling the Islamic community “Ummah”.  Jesus was neither in the position to become a political ruler nor did he have enough time to achieve a ruling position. His here-after kingdom was not the necessary practical experience for a claim to worldly Christian rule after his death. Moses had the responsibility to guide his followers to the Promised Land, but in the literary sense of the word, he was not a political ruler.

Later on, the Islamic section of the world was covered by rule of the Islam.  The Islamic Ruling System used “Sharia”, Islamic law, to reestablish and develop the Islamic territory. Meanwhile, it became a traditional duty of Islamic rulers to extend the powers of the Islamic ruling institutions, unlike European institutions which received its legal tradition from Roman law without the heavy influence of Christianity.  Even when the church was a strong parallel institution during the time of the Inquisition, it had never gained the status of a ruling institution.

It was thought when the Prophet passed on that the “Dar-al-Islam” had ended. However, it was soon clear that Islam had ambitions to extend its authority even further. The Islamic invaders were then turned on Romania and Iran, who were both exhausted from the longest and harshest war they had ever fought against each other. The Roman position in Syria and Egypt was also compromised by the Monophysite heresy of the locals, and its suppression by Imperial authorities. It began a new era of ruling in the world; the Caliphate.

The first Caliphs were all either fathers-in-law or sons-in-law of the Prophet of Islam. The holy character of Caliphs was explained and supported by the claim that they were all regarded as the only necessary rulers of God’s state. In other words, they were the early rulers of the “al-Islam w’l dawla”.

All these Caliphs, successors of the Prophet, like the prophet himself were not desert nomads of the Arabia, but instead from the high civil class of the Arabian society, which was then a prerequisite for gaining status in the ruling class. Also in early Judaism and Christianity, a few numbers of people could be chosen by God for a specific purpose. The Caliph must be a man from the tribe of wealthy and well-known Qurish, like the Prophet himself was, because they were the leading tribe chosen by God.

The holy period of the "Rightly Guided Caliphs", all of who were relatives, ended in a power struggle. The”Ijma”, consensus of the Prophet’s followers, lost their sense in the quest for power. The mighty relatives of Uthman blamed his murder on Ali, the Prophet’s close follower, cousin, and son-in-law. Ali was not in the position to exert his authority against Uthman’s rule over “Dar-al-Islam”. The "bloody shirt of Uthman" was thereafter considered a largely cynical ploy by the Omayyads to further their own cause, which soon was to triumph at Ali’s death.  The result of this action brought different fates to the lives of his sons.  One of his sons kept silent (Hassan) and the other was killed (Hussein).

But the “Martyrdom” of Imam Hussein was not the only cause of the advent of Schism.

Many years later, another Imam, who disappeared in 878. Although probably kidnapped and killed by the Abbasid Caliph, was believed by his followers to have gone into deathless "Occultation", preparing to return as "the Mahdi”, the guide.

Later this Twelve Imam was used by the Savavids to establish the first Islamic regime in Iran.

The Safavids were from Turkomen. They established their dynasty in 1501 at Tabriz where they had set up a forced Shiite identity for this Turkish speaking region to morally separate them from the enemy Turks, the Uthman Empire.

The Shah Ismaiil was the first to create an Islamic army based on the unifying and militant Shiite nationalism which believed that defending his dynasty against the Sunnite mighty Uthman Empire was of the utmost importance.

The Safavids invented the spectacular idea that the Shiite kings are the deputies of the Hidden Imam. Since the status of Imam is sacred, it is sinful to criticise the king or the head of state. Many political opponents have been killed or confined to jail under the Islamic law throughout the course of history. No one has been given the freedom to criticize the state without being persecuted or sentenced to death. It is far less likely for a citizen to get away with criticising such an Islamic state which regards violence as a necessary and an inseparable part of Islam or a combination of both, “al-Islam w’l dawla”.

The Shiite identity from the safavides on, along with the plague of the Islamic Republic of Iran became an ideological bastion against all ideas of democracy, modernity, and social justice in the course of post-Islamic history of Iran.

Besides government machine of repression, the Shiite state used to create and propagate social moral effects, exerting a powerful influence upon individual judgement, sufficient to persuade a number of “good Muslims” to deny the evidence of their needs. At the same time, the repressive machine was at work to neutralise any resistance against these effects.   

However, under the Pahlavi regime, the effects were modified.  The process of modernisation under Reza Shah was too slow compared to what Atatürk was achieving in Turkey.  Reza Shah was a cynic Muslim, who demagogically took part in Shiite traditional mourning rituals.  His ultimate goal was to safeguard his throne by any means and pass it onto his son.

But the megalomaniac son, Muhammad Reza Shah promoted his status as the shadow of God and was not satisfied with the position of simple deputy of the Hidden Imam.

In 1848, it had already been more than 9 centuries since the Occultation, and the reappearance of the Hidden Imam was widely expected. Various figures appeared as the Imam, including the Bab, from whom the Bahai faith is derived. The legacy  of the ”al-Islam w’l dawla” with all its power-hungry and doctrinal authority in Iranian Schism finally became the Ayatollahs in Iran, who were not personally believed to be the Hidden Imam like the Bab, but were thought to communicate with him.

With no wonder the Ayatollah Khomeini was able to send his icon to the moon and with his position on earth; he established one of the most barbaric Islamic states in history.

God’s state, with the concept of “al-Islam w’l dawla”, stands radically against  modernity, democracy, social justice, equality of man and woman, protection of human dignity, protection of human right, protection of national unity and equality among ethnic groups, protection of national interests and national culture, protection of Iranian identity. God’s state in Iran ignores international treaties and conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all of which have been signed by God’s state.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been around for 27 years although it is one of the most hated regimes, not only by the Iranian people living in or outside the country but also by the majority of the international community. The regime is a form of religious fascism.  This is different from European fascism in that its extreme reactionary nature is not in the position to advance in technology to compensate for its incompetence in economic and international relations and to validate its inability to introduce a democratic and human political system in Iran. Its existence can be partly attributed to the fact that its Islamic doctrine, mainly because of the factor of fear, has never been radically challenged by the secularism of the Iranian intellectuals.

Propaganda of Islam in word and action “da’wa” has historically been a way to extend the Islamic influence in “Dar-al-Islam”, the Islamic territory. The religious propaganda considered secular intellectuals as ignorant “Jahil” and furthermore, because one charged of blasphemy “kufr” can lose his life. The same propaganda machine associates all fields of knowledge with theology of Islam, here an “Alim”, a scientist, meanwhile a “Muemin”, good Muslim, who is good at any field of knowledge.

Today more than ever the Iranian secular intellectuals, specifically outside of Iran, have a historical and national duty to strive to push back religion into confined individual privacy. An Iranian renaissance is widely necessary.

But still some Iranian political currents are looking to remedy the cancer of Islamic leadership. A part of the Iranian opposition cannot or does not want to realise that any kind of Islamic leadership is a necessary solution. The difference between all Islamic alternatives of leadership is the tactics used while playing the political game.  If Mullah Omar, instead of Afghanistan, ruled upon the Iranian society that has a relatively advanced culture, he would certainly be slyer to soften his tactics like Rafsanjani or Khatami. But regardless of various tricks of Mullahs in any circumstances they have learned how to play the game; they cannot avoid a fate of the Shah’s regime.

Shame on these so called secular and democratic political currents that react as if the IRI or its factions were legitimate. Regardless the growing political consciousness of the Iranian people vis a vis their social and individual rights, these forces look for a “less dramatic” solution within the help of a Khatami or Moein or even Rafsanjani, the brain or the active limbs of the Islamic regime’s body.

Even Hafiz and Sa’di know that the ultimate strategy of any Islamic political alternative is to prolong the “al-Islam w’l dawla” in Iran. The IRI and its factions are similar to the early Islamic rulers of the Caliphate with their  “Jadal”, conflicts, or”Beda’t”, compromises which leave no room for another political concept “kufr” to survive.

Their “al-Islam w’l dawla” refers to the absolute expectation that all seats of a ruling state in an Islamic territory should be occupied by “Muemin”, good Muslims and by no others. This claim of leadership, or exclusive rights to absolute power, as a legacy of the past Islamic Caliphate, is the goal of any Islamic political movement. As such the IRI including all its factions, in contrast to some ambiguous claims, cannot maintain an attitude of neutrality towards other forms of political activities or even ideas, because only “al-Islam w’l dawla” is duty of ”wajib” obligatory  for Muslims.

It is neither enough to reduce the legislative and executive power of an extravagant Velayati-fagih to restore democracy in Iran, nor to replace this title by any other Islamic concept.  It is necessary to wipe out all forms of Islamic solutions, as the precondition of the democracy. The Velayti- fagih has been recently formulated by Khomeini in accordance with his interpretation of Islam and does not contain the whole plague of the “al-Islam w’l dawla”.

No wonder that the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Wahabi in Saudi Arabia or the late Hassan in Morocco or any other Islamic ruler in any form of state attributes oneself to the legal succession of the early Islamic Caliphate.

It is finally the time to loudly ask each other, how longer we must be the victims or witnesses of the “al-Islam w’l dawla” destroying our occupied country.

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian



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