Saturday, May 03, 2003

Shia in Iran and Iraq, religion and state

I have read an article in Newsweek. I have found some worth noticing facts regarding history, religion and political groups in Iraq. I quote some important parts of it here. As an Iranian who used to live in the South of Iran, I know some things about Arabic culture. Aauthors quote what Abdullah, an Iraqi who had been living in Iran for 23 years, says about Iranians.
The Iranians are racist. They don't respect Arabs.
Unfortunately, I have to say YES! They are. You may find Iranians somehow racist. Iranians usually don't respect Arabs or even Afghanis. It may have some reasons. So people believe that it is because of Arabs' attack on Iran. (Maybe yes or not. I do not care. Racism is racism and regardless of its reason it is not acceptable). But this is not all the story. Arabs hate Iranians too even more and it has some tribal reasons. I remember after revolution in Iran, because of domestic ethic unrest in Khozestan in the southwest of Iran, there were so many Arab casualties in Khoramshahr hospital (Iranian army suppressed the separatists' uprising). When my parents went there to donate their blood, a group of Arabs did not allow them to enter the hospital and told them we do not need your unclean blood since you are Persian. Though generalizability is not possible since we do not have any survey in this regard or it may be said it was because of critical situation, as a personal experience I think it is right and may give you a general picture about Iranians and Iraqis' attitude toward each other.
The last thing he wants for his five children is an Iranian-style Islamic government. "There are many problems in Iranian society," he says. "The people don't have the freedom to express themselves.
This is a challenging thought. Islamic government is not like a liberal, democratic or republic government. It has own values and laws. How is it possible that we have an Islamic (or any other religion) government wit h Islamic judiciary, economy and laws and still have freedom to express ourselves. It is not enough that you have freedom to talk about your idea. The problem is that you cannot practice what you think or believe. Why? In Islamic government the important rule is that the system should be keep by any means. So you cannot have any free election and other minorities do not have the equal rights. This is a paradoxical matter. I think when ordinary people talk about Islamic government they are talking about their wishes and dreams. However, when politicians talk about such a system they are not honest.
No one knows where the tectonic shifts will end. Before they're done, however, Iran's almighty Shiite clerics are more than likely to find that their religious authority has slipped away to Iraq, where it originated more than 12 centuries ago,Even without a drastic overhaul of strategic alliances, the impending moral, religious and political upheaval is phenomenal. Its explanation begins, as so many Middle Eastern stories do, many centuries ago, in a violent succession battle that erupted following the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632. One faction believed that the Prophet's son-in-law, Ali, should inherit his religious authority; the descendants of those Muslims are today's Shiites. The other faction said the mantle should pass to four caliphs who were chosen by Muhammad's disciples; their descendants became the Sunnis. The bitterness that separates the two groups began when Ali was murdered as he prayed in the great mosque at Al Kufah, beside the Euphrates. His body was entombed in Najaf, which would become the holiest Shiite city. Ali's son, Hussein, was next to die, surrounded and vastly out-numbered by his enemies at Karbala and abandoned by all but a handful of loyal followers. The annual festival of Arbaeen, observed last week in Karbala for the first time in many years, commemorates the 40th day after Hussein's death with an outpouring of guilt and self-flagellation. The holy city of Karbala rose from the bloody battlefield.
I agree with authors that
Many people wrongly imagine that Iran is the center of Shiism. The mistake is only encouraged by chauvinistic Iranians, who tend to view Tehran as the intellectual and cultural capital of the Middle East. But Iran became a bastion of Shiism only as a refuge from the merciless persecution of Iraq's Shiite majority under the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein. No shrine in Iran can equal the sanctity of Najaf and Karbala, and to this day Najaf remains the capital of Shiite learning the bulwark of scholarship that defines and interprets Islamic law.
an important problem is that Shia clerics mostly are conservative and do not like to involve any political affairs. Clerics like Ayatollah sistani in Najaf prefer to be a spiritual leader rather than politician. The only thing that they want is that government respect Islamic rules even if they do not have Islamic jurisdiction and law. They are suspicious about western style democratic governments. Maybe it has different meaning for them like sexual freedom, selling alcohol in shops and the like. History shows that they have had better relationship with dictator kings in compare to elected government like Mohammad Mossadegh's nationalist and democratic government.

(posted by Iman)

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