Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grand Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi's Statement on Iranian Elections, English Translation


For a short report on the diversity of views among Iranian Shi'i religious scholars ('ulama) see HERE.

A good friend of mine who is fluent in Persian (Farsi, specifically) was kind enough to translate the letter/statement (in Persian) issued by Iranian Grand Ayatullah Nasir Makarem Shirazi on the election dispute and related events into English. Although he wishes to remain anonymous, I am nonetheless very grateful that he took the time to do this, particularly as he is fresh from a lengthy trip overseas, and translated, of his own volition, despite being jet-lagged.

For more on Shirazi, see HERE.

Shirazi clearly has chosen his words carefully, and it is necessary to read the statement with care. As with any translation, it cannot hope to capture the "full" meaning of the original language. Many Iranian 'ulama, such as the mid-ranking scholars (Hujjat al-Islam) Mohsen Kadivar, Hasan Yusuf Eshkevari, and Mohsen Sa'idzadeh, as well as Grand Ayatullah Hossein 'Ali Montazeri and the late Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Shari'atmadari (1905-1986), have suffered retaliation, house arrest, and even imprisonment for expressing views openly critical of the existing political system and its senior leaders. Shari'atmadari was even stripped of his scholarly rank, a move that has no basis in Twelver Shi'i history, for opposing some policies in the early years of the Islamic Republic. He died under house arrest. Montazeri, once successor to the first jurisconsult (faqih, in wilayat al-faqih in Arabic, or in Persian, Vilayet-e faqih, or "guardianship of the jurisconsult/jurist'...a "faqih" is, generally speaking, a religious jurist), Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni, was removed in 1989 as successor after he questioned the direction that the revolutionary movement had taken, including privately criticizing decisions of his old friend and teacher, Khumayni. Since then, he has routinely been placed under house arrest, and has been harrassed by supporters of the current faqih or "supreme leader of the republic" (Rahbar-e Jumhur), al-Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, who was "given" the title of Ayatullah, and then Grand Ayatullah, upon becoming the new Rahbar, despite the fact that he does not possess the requisite education. As one former professor and mentor put it bluntly once, "Outside of revolutionary Iran, he [Khamenei] wouldn't be considered even an Ayatullah." The central theme of Shirazi's letter/statement is that peaceful means and dialogue should be used to solve the country's current dispute.

The Persian text reads:

از سوی دفتر معظم له منتشر شد :

پيام حضرت آية اللَّه العظمى مكارم شيرازى (مدّ ظلّه العالی) به تمام هموطنان عزيز


بسم اللَّه الرحمن الرحيم

درود بر ملّت بيدار و هشيار ما كه با حضور پرشور و كم‏نظير خود در انتخابات، حماسه‏اى به يادماندنى آفريدند و جهانيان را در شگفتى فرو بردند.

اينجانب به فرد فرد شما عزيزان كه در داخل و خارج با شركت خود در انتخابات روح تازه‏اى در كالبد انقلاب دميديد و نشان داديد همگى به كشورتان و به نظام جمهورى اسلامى وفاداريد تبريك مى‏گويم و سعادت و سربلندى شما را از درگاه خداوند متعال مسئلت دارم.

اميدوارم برگ زرين اين پيروزى در آتش اختلافات نسوزد و همگى سعى كنيم با حفظ آرامش از طرق قانونى به تمام نگرانى‏ها پايان دهيم و فراموش نكنيم كه در اختلافات فراگير هيچ برنده‏اى وجود ندارد و همه مردم و كشور و نظام زيان مى‏بينند.

فراموش نكنيم كه قرآن مجيد اختلاف را هم رديف صاعقه‏هاى آتشبار آسمانى و زلزله‏هاى ويرانگر زمينى مى‏شمرد و در جاى ديگر آن را همرديف شرك و كفر مى‏داند.

انتظار مى‏رود شوراى محترم نگهبان همان‏گونه كه وظيفه قانونى آنها ايجاب مى‏كند و رهبر معظم انقلاب بر آن تأكيد نهادند با دقّت و شجاعت و بى‏نظرى كامل به شكايات كانديداهاى محترم رسيدگى كرده، پاسخ قانع‏كننده‏اى به مردم بدهند.

همه ملت عزيز ما يقين دارند كه منافقان كوردل و فرصت‏طلب در آشفته بازار اختلافات فعال مى‏شوند و با تخريب اموال مردم و به آتش كشيدن آنها چهره ملت مهربان و صلح‏طلب و پاكدل ما را در جهان به زشتى رقم مى‏زنند. سعى كنيد صفوف خود را از آنها جدا سازيد.

برادران و خواهران عزيز! در اخبار خارجى آمده بود كه حوادث تلخ اخير كشور ما در صدر تمام اخبار جهان قرار گرفته است و مفهوم آن اين است كه دوستان ما كه در منطقه و جهان بسيار زيادند احساس نگرانى مى‏كنند و دشمنان ما هم كه كم نيستند مراقب فرصتى هستند تا ضربه‏هاى خود را وارد سازند، شما فكر كنيد در اين شرايط چه وظيفه‏اى داريم؟

رأى دهندگان محترم! آنها كه به اختلافات دامن مى‏زنند از هر گروهى باشند تنها راه را براى سيطره دشمنان صاف مى‏كنند.

مطمئن باشيد اگر خداى نكرده كشور و انقلاب ما آسيب بيند تمام منطقه آسيب خواهد ديد و دچار دگرگونى خواهد شد و اين مسئوليت ما را سنگين‏تر مى‏كند.

عزيزان! ما صدها هزار شهيد و جانباز براى به ثمر رسيدن انقلاب داده‏ايم. مطمئن باشيد امروز ارواح آنها و روح مقدس امام راحل بنيانگذار جمهورى اسلامى ناراحت است. خدا نياورد روزى را كه بر اثر غلبه احساسات بر عقلانيت، ارزش تمام آن خونها به خطر بيفتد.

رأى دهندگان محترم مخصوصاً شما اى جوانان عزيز! من به همه شما احترام مى‏گذارم. بياييد از طريق مذاكره اختلافات را برطرف سازيم. همه به هم احترام بگذاريم، سخنان ركيك به يكديگر نگوييم و اخوت اسلامى را زنده كنيم.

عقلاى قوم در اين لحظات، وظيفه سنگينى دارند؛ بايد با حفظ آرامش، يكديگر را دعوت به مذاكره كنند و دست در دست هم بگذارند و سرانجام دولتى با استفاده از تمام ظرفيت‏هاى مديريتى همه جناح‏هاى وفادار به انقلاب تشكيل دهند تا ايرانى آبادتر و سربلندتر از گذشته بسازيم و نامهربانى‏ها به مهربانى تبديل گردد و دشمنان ناكام شوند و دوستان اميدوار. إن‏شاءاللَّه

_____________

The English translation reads:


Message of Grand Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi to all dear compatriots:

In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Praise be unto a conscious and alert nation who with their exhilarating and little-before-seen presence in the elections, created a memorable coalition and astounded the entire world.

I congratulate each and everyone one of you dear friends, both from within the country and from without, who participated in the elections and breathed new life into the body of the Revolution, and showed that all of you are loyal to your country and to the Islamic Republic. I ask for your happiness and your respect from all-Mighty God.

I hope the precious leaf of this victory does not get burned in differences. All of us should attempt, by keeping our calm and through lawful means, to end all disputes and to not forget that in widespread disputes no one prevails and the people, the country, and the state all suffer (together).

We should not forget that the Holy Qur’an places (these sorts of) disputes at the same level as storms of fire and tumultuous earthquakes, and in other instances (in the Qur’an), at the level of Shirk [worship of beings other than God] and Kufr [unbelief].

It is expected that the respected Guardian Council, according to its legal responsibility and the insistence of the glorious Leader of the Revolution, with precision, courage, and in an entirely unprecedented manner should address the candidates’ concerns, and should give an acceptable response to the people.

All of our dear people are certain that blind and opportunistic hypocrites are active at times of chaotic dissidence, and by destroying and burning the property of the people, deface the friendly, peaceful, and pure-hearted in front of the world. Try to distance yourselves from [these hypocrites].

Dear brothers and sisters! Foreign news agencies have said that the latest unfortunate incidents in our country are the most important news all over the world. This means that our friends, who are plentiful within this region and indeed all over the world, are concerned; and our enemies, who are not small in number, are waiting for an opportunity to inflict their own injuries (upon us). What do you think our responsibility is in this situation?

Dear respected voters! Those who accept dissidence from whichever group they are make the path easier for our enemies.

Be sure that if, God forbid, our country and our revolution sees any harm, the entire region will see harm and will be forced into an upheaval. This makes our responsibility that much more important.

Dear friends! We have given hundreds of thousands of our people, (who were) martyred and injured for the creation of this revolution. Be certain that today their souls and the soul of our deceased blessed imam, the founder of the Islamic Republic, are unhappy. God forbid that day come when, because our feelings overcame our reason, the value of all that blood is put in danger.

Respected voters, especially the dear youth! I respect all of you. Come, and through discussion, resolve these differences. Everyone should respect everyone else, do not use insulting words against each other, and revive Muslim unity.

The wise members of the nation, in these instances have a great responsibility: they must, through keeping calm and peaceful, invite one another to discussions, and hand in hand once again create a government by using all the managerial resources of the different parties who are loyal to the revolution–so that we may create a better and prouder Iran, change antagonisms to friendliness, disappoint our enemies and make hopeful our friends. If God so wills.

10 comments:

Abe Bird said...

TERRORISM HAS NO RELIGION BUT ISLAM!!!!

إبن الصقلي said...

You are a bigot. It is good for wretches like you to be exposed for the vile things you are.

إبن الصقلي said...

And your path of slime on the Internet proves it. Disgusting.

إبن الصقلي said...

More information:

The Bigot's IP address is from Bet Dagan, near the coastal city of Tel Aviv in Israel.

Carlos Echevarria said...

'""given" the title of Ayatullah, and then Grand Ayatullah, upon becoming the new Rahbar, despite the fact that he does not possess the requisite education."

Could you explain this point in further detail...very interesting post, thanks.

إبن الصقلي said...

Twelver Shi'i Muslims have a more "structured" or hierarchical, roughly speaking, system of religious scholarship than other Shi'i Muslims (such as the Isma'ilis and Zaydis) and Sunni Muslims.

At the top of the Twelver scholarly hierarchy are the grand ayatullahs (ayatullah al-'udhma, in Arabic), who are mujtahids (jurists with the requisite education/knowledge to interpret the Qur'an, Ahadith, and issue legal opinions, fatawa, or rulings, ahkam.) Grand Ayatullahs, and there are not that many, are also each a "Marja' al-Taqlid," roughly "reference point of emulation." In other words, they are the most accomplished scholars and are also personally honest and pious, and therefore are "role models" or a "reference point" for their followers, who seek their guidance and opinions on different issues, religious and everyday.

Ayatullahs are also mujtahids, but are not Marja' al-Taqlid. However, as mujtahids they are still able to issue legal opinions and rulings.

It takes many years to become a mujtahid, and fewer scholars still ever become ayatullahs or grand ayatullahs. The titles themselves are only attained when one's teacher(s) certify that one has successfully completed the requisite levels of study AND are competent in the required areas of knowledge. Contrary to the stereotype, Twelver Shi'i seminary education includes not only study of the Qur'an, Ahadith, and other religious coursework, but also a lot of coursework in world philosophy, logic, mathematics, the sciences, history, linguistics, literature and poetry, rhetoric, and, now, computers and new technology. Thus, some of the best critiques of ideologies such as Marxism have come from Twelver Shi'i scholars.

An advanced seminary student is given a diploma (not that different from a diploma in a U.S. university) that certifies that they are capable of performing ijtihad, or reasoned interpretation of the sources of religious law to issue legal opinions and rulings.

Seminary education often begins when a boy is young (13-20ish), beginning with mastering classical written Arabic, and continues for over a decade through several stages. The last stage, Bahath al-Kharij, is akin to Ph.D. dissertation research in a secular university in the U.S. The students must prove that they are capable and original thinkers.

Grand Ayatullahs are recognized by their peers as deserving of the rank. For example, 'Ali Sistani in Iraq, after the death of his primary teacher, Grand Ayatullah Abu'l Qasim al-Kho'i in 1992 under house arrest, was "nominated" by his peers, to replace Kho'i as Marja' al-Taqlid for Kho'i's followers worldwide. Grand ayatullahs however are not designated by their teachers/predecessors in the same way as for example a hereditary monarchy. So, Kho'i's sons did not succeed him, since they did not have the requisite level of education and expertise.

Before being granted the ranking of grand ayatollah individuals write a risalah, the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation, that discusses their views on all major aspects of Twelver Shi'i jurisprudence and ritual practice, from the performance of the daily prayers and fasting to the requirements for a legitimate marriage, economic transactions, charitable giving, etc. It is through their risalah that they prove their capabilities as a scholar.

Historically the Twelver ‘ulama do not exercise political authority and instead act in an advisory or “watch-dog” capacity, ensuring that the secular government’s actions are in accordance with general principles and morals.

Mid-level Twelver clerics are generally given the honorific title Hujjat al-Islam (“proof of Islam”). Former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami holds this clerical rank.

إبن الصقلي said...

Khumayni's original successor as "supreme leader" or leader of the republic (Rahbar-e Jumhur, in Persian) was supposed to be Grand Ayatullah Hossein 'Ali Montazeri, his student and friend. However, Montazeri criticized the path that the revolution had taken, and even some decisions made or approved by Khumayni. For this, he was removed as successor in 1989 shortly before Khumayni's death, and has been under house arrest many times, and otherwise harassed by the regime since then.

Montazeri was ultimately replaced as successor-to-be as Rahbar-e Jumhur by 'Ali Khamenei, a hujjat al-islam (mid-ranking scholar), another former student of Khumayni's. This presented a problem, since the constitution written and passed by popular national referendum in late 1979 required the Rahbar to be the "most learned of the jurists," or the faqih. Khamenei was certainly not this. There were many, many Iranian scholars more education and thus more qualified than he to be Rahbar, but many did not support Khumayni's system of "vilayat-e faqih" (guardianship of the jurisconsult) and the connecting of the previously independent 'ulama to the state. Even during Khumayni's lifetime, many senior Twelver Shi'i scholars, such as Kho'i and Iran's senior grand ayatullah, Muhammad Kazim Shari'atmadari, did not support Khumayni's system, nor a "state 'ulama". The same is true today. One of the earliest critiques of Khumayni was written by the Lebanese ayatullah Muhammad Jawad Mughniyya, and is entitled "Al-Khumayni wa al-Dawla al-Islamiyya" (Khumayni and the Islamic State); it was published in 1979.


So, the constitution was amended so that the Rahbar did not have to be the "most learned" scholar, allowing Khamenei to succeed Khumayni. Nonetheless, he, for lack of a better explanation, "became" an "ayatullah" soon after assuming the position of Rahbar. Later, he even began calling himself a "grand ayatullah" and "Marja' al-Taqlid," though, as I wrote, he has not finished the requisite levels of education nor possess the requisite expertise required. Many Twelver Shi'is both in and out of Iran do not consider him to be a real Marja' al-Taqlid, and follow real ones, such as Montazeri and Grand Ayatullah 'Ali Sistani in Iraq. However, as the head of a large and regionally important and influential state, Khamenei has been able to win supporters among some of the Shi'is around the world.

Anonymous said...

will Al-Sistani issue any statements or opinions on what is going on in Iran? What about other ayatollahs outside of Iran?

إبن الصقلي said...

I have seen one rumor that Sistani may issue a statement. He may, but I am not so sure that he wants to become involved in Iranian internal affairs. Even though he is Iranian, he is also a proponent of a more "hands-off" or independent approach of the Shi'i 'ulama to the state and politics. However, I am keeping an eye open, and will post immediately if I see any further reports or if he or his representatives issue a statement.

Similarly, I am not so sure non-Iranian grand ayatullahs, of which there are only a few (a handful in Iraq, of mixed ethnicies) and Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah in Lebanon. I am also keeping an eye open for them.

Thanks for reading!

Eamon said...

Thanks for the great replies and info!