Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Iran - Separate state and religion?

Amir Taheri writes about Muhammad-Hussein Kazemaini Borujerdi, a Shi'ite cleric said to be in regular contact with the Hidden Imam, who obviously spends most of his days on whatever he uses for email. (This is the same Hidden Imam for whom Ahmadinejad is putting up the bunting.) Borujerdi has a rather different take on Islamic republics to that of the rulers of The Islamic Republic, one that has had him pitched in jail for the past few weeks. According to Taheri, Borujerdi holds

a classical Shi'ite theological position that maintains that all governments formed in the absence of the Hidden Imam are "oppressive and illegitimate" (jaber wa ja'er).

Under that doctrine, all that Shi'ites must do during the absence of the imam is to tolerate the government in place, cooperate with it to the strict minimum necessary - but never pay taxes to it or feel any loyalty toward it. In the absence of the imam, government is nothing but a necessary and temporary evil.
This is somewhat at variance with the Khomeinist doctrine, according to which
The Islamic Republic is a continuation of God on earth. Thus any disobedience of its rules amounts to a revolt against God.
Evidently, the official line is not at all popular with the majority of clerics in Iran. For Taheri, the evidence for this resides in the fact that "proportionally more mullahs are in prison in Iran than other social strata".

This December a new Assembly of Experts will be elected, one which may propose an amendment to the constitution to break the link between the mosque and the state. One of the potential backers of this amendment is Grand Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, "the man widely acknowledged as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Marjaa al-Taqlid (Source of Imitation)".

To be supported? Maybe. It's just that the outcome of this constitutional change might well be greater power in the hands of the man who wants to wipe Israel off the map.

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