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Hassan Nasrallah and the Iranian Civilization

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

13 Nov 2010 19:2546 Comments

Puzzling motivations for denial of national heritage, belated release of video.

[ comment ] In late July 2006, I traveled to Tehran to see my family and relatives, and to work with several Iranian doctoral students whom I was advising at the time. The war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters was at its height. The Islamic world and indeed the entire globe was mesmerized by what was happening, as Israel did not seem capable of gaining a quick victory over the Hezbollah irregulars.

When I arrived at Mehrabad Airport (international flights had not yet been transferred to the new Imam Khomeini Airport) and went to my parents' home in central Tehran, I was struck by an amazing new feature of the city: huge posters of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, were everywhere, in the airport and all along the route to my parents' residence.

The Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic -- as the national television and radio network is known -- was in full gear, reporting from Lebanon and lionizing Nasrallah and his fighters. He was being referred to as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, rather than Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, as he is known to the rest of the world. One of my students asked why he was being referred to in this manner. I responded that the reason was twofold. One is that Tehran's hardliners know that the word sheikh has taken on a very negative connotation in Iran. The second is that a sayyed is still respected by Muslims, as the title implies that the person is directly linked to the Prophet Muhammad. By applying the term to Nasrallah, the hardliners were thus killing two birds with one stone.

Although there was much discussion of the conflict in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United States and its allies prevented the council from passing a ceasefire resolution during the war's initial stages. The reason was obvious: The George W. Bush administration was hoping that Israel would deliver a knockout blow to Hezbollah, which would have paved the way for the administration to ratchet up its rhetoric and threats of war against Iran without risking a Hezbollah attack on Israel. Indeed, the United States and Israel consider Hezbollah to be the Islamic Republic's first line of defense. In their view, its decapitation would substantially improve their odds in a war with Iran. Iran's military strategists similarly consider Hezbollah fighters as their "strategic depth."

But the war did not go the way Israel and the United States wanted. Israel could not dislodge Hezbollah's fighters from southern Lebanon. On August 14, UNSC Resolution 1701, mandating a ceasefire, went into effect, and Nasrallah became a folk hero in the Islamic world. The Islamic Republic considered the war and its outcome a great victory for itself, and even top U.S. generals seemed to agree -- one was quoted to the effect that the Iranians were demonstrating what would happen to the U.S. armed forces if they attacked Iran.

Hezbollah continues to enjoy significant support within Lebanon and the Arab world. Even if Iran's support were to be cut off at once, Hezbollah would remain a powerful force to be reckoned with, just as Cuba did not collapse in 1992, once its $5 billion in annual aid from the Soviet Union suddenly disappeared. But while it is true that Hezbollah's fighters are highly disciplined and well-trained, it is also true that they would not be as effective a force if the Islamic Republic did not provide Hezbollah with significant financial and military support.

In fact, many consider the Lebanese Hezbollah as the Islamic Republic's creature, although I believe that the most important factors that gave rise to the organization's birth were the discrimination against Shiites in Lebanon and the inability of the mainstream Amal Organization -- the main Lebanese Shia group in in the 1970s -- to defend and advance Shiites' rights, along with Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 (following one in 1978) and its occupation of southern Lebanon, where most of the country's Shiites live. In any event, there is no doubt that Nasrallah is significantly indebted to the Islamic Republic.

Five days after last year's June 12 presidential election in Iran led to huge, peaceful demonstrations that attracted the world's attention, Nasrallah gave his first major post-election speech. He advised his March 14 coalition to "leave aside the issue of Iranian elections. They should not bother about an issue that they do not understand.... Iran will overcome this ordeal easily, God willing." It thus appeared that Nasrallah did not want to take sides in the Iranian presidential election.

So it was a shock to many when a video surfaced recently in which Nasrallah dismissed Iranian or Persian civilization. In the first part of the video, which shows a speech he delivered about 17 months ago, he says,

There is nothing in Iran called Persian or Persian civilization. What exists in Iran is Islamic civilization. What exists in Iran is Muhammad's religion from Arabia, from Tahami, from Makka, from Quraish, from Tamim and from Mathar, and the founder of the Islamic Republic [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] is an Arab, son of Arab, son of God's messenger. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic today is Imam Khamenei, sayyed from Quraish, from Hashim, son of God's messenger, son of Ali ibn-Abitaleb, son of Fatemeh Zahra [the Prophet's daughter and Imam Ali's wife], and they are [all] Arab.

Nasrallah is clearly referring to the fact that both Khomeini and Khamenei are sayyeds, hence direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. In the second part of the video, Nasrallah takes sides in Iran's presidential election of last year, saying,

In the last few weeks, some people waged [war] and some of them dreamed to end the Islamic Revolution and [fantasized] about the fall of the Islamic Republic in Iran. These are nothing but mirages. This Iran, which many in the world spoke widely about its events, I declare today to you that this Iran, its system, its state, its people, and its elite exist because of the blessing and existence of a wise leader who is brave, merciful, a mastermind leader, a historic leader -- this is Imam Al-Sayyed Al-Khamenei (may God grant him a long life) -- and the blessing and historic presence of [its] people over [the past] 30 years. Iran today is most powerful and toughest since that day [of the Revolution], and when it overcomes its crisis and its predicament, this Iran will stay at it is now.

Nasrallah is widely recognized as a shrewd strategist, including by American and Israeli experts. That he did not initially take sides in the immediate aftermath of last year's election in Iran was understandable. Five days after the rigged election, it was still not clear what was going to happen. The Islamic Republic's foundations seemed shaky, and Nasrallah did not want to antagonize any new government that might emerge in the aftermath of the huge demonstrations.

Once, however, it appeared to Nasrallah that the hardliners had won the battle of the day (though the long struggle is by no means over), he decided to take sides. That certainly explains the second part of his speech, in which he boasts about the strengths of the Islamic Republic.

But, why did Nasrallah, the shrewd strategist, deny that there is such a thing as Iranian or Persian civilization? Even a cursory glance at history reveals that the claim is utterly ridiculous. Iran has over 4,000 years of written history, and the Persians have lived in Iran for at least seven millennia. Pre-Islamic Iran was one of the most glorious civilizations. Even after the invasion of Iran by the Arabs, though Iranians accepted Islam as their religion, they largely preserved their language -- as opposed to the rest of the Middle East and North Africa, which became Arabic-speaking after they were conquered by Islam -- and proudly remembered and preserved their pre-Islamic heritage. Why did Nasrallah make such a ridiculous claim that has rightly offended most Iranians, even those who are deeply pious Muslims?

Iranian culture has many elements of the pre-Islamic Persian civilization and empire, certain aspects of Islamic teaching and, similar to most other countries, features of modernity, which is why it is such a rich culture. Islam teaches us that what matters are not race and nationality, but knowledge, honesty, piety, and not acting against the interests of the common people. Nasrallah's boasting about Islamic civilization in Iran and the nonexistence of Iranian civilization is thus not only hurtful to Iranians, it also violates Islamic teachings.

Nasrallah is fully aware that the Arabs, especially those in the Middle East, are wary of the growing influence of the Islamic Republic in the region, given the fact that Shiites allied with Iran are in power in Iraq. Though popular because of its resistance against Israel's army, Hezbollah is still viewed by many Arabs as an extension of Iran in the Arab world. And the faith of the ruling Alawites in Syria is an offshoot of Shiism. King Abdullah of Jordan has spoken of a "Shia Crescent" from Iran to Lebanon, through Iraq.

By denying that Iranian or Persian civilization exists, Nasrallah was perhaps trying to enhance Iran's Islamic image and give it much more weight than its Iranian identity. If his attempt is successful it might make the Islamic Republic far less threatening to the Arabs and boost its image as "one of us" in the region.

Of course, as far as the vast majority of Iranians, including the author, are concerned, even if we assume that this was indeed Nasrallah's goal, insulting us seems to be a strange way of achieving it. A typical reaction to Nasrallah's ridiculous claim was that of Jafar Panahi, the distinguished movie director, who wrote on his Facebook page: "I am an Iranian, Mr. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. I will never put human beings on the weight scale of race, but I also do not allow you to deny the existence of my civilization." On the other hand, in reaction to the angry protests of many Iranians, the hardline websites in Iran took Nasrallah's side and attacked the Green Movement and its supporters for criticizing him.

Two intriguing questions still remain unanswered. Who released the video on the Internet? To my understanding, no one knows. And, given that the speech is about 17 months old, why release it now? Does it have to do with the fact that the United States has announced a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia in the name of "stability of the region," which is actually meant to deter the Islamic Republic (even though there is no evidence that Iran has any plan to threaten Saudi Arabia)? If there is such a link between the arms sale and the video's release, then the hypothesis that Nasrallah is trying to help Iran appear less scary to the Arabs makes sense. It might even help make the Saudis look bad for precipitating a massive arms race in an already unstable region.

It is also possible that the video was released by Hezbollah itself to bolster its position in Lebanon's internal politics. Nasrallah has said repeatedly that Hezbollah obeys the Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist, represented by the Supreme Leader). In addition, during the recent trip of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon, the country was seemingly taken over by Farsi/Persian-speaking people and banners. Television stations controlled by both the Amal Organization and Hezbollah broadcast Iranian revolutionary songs. When he met with Ahmadinejad, Nasarallah used Farsi in his greeting. The release of the video at this time may thus be intended to emphasize that, despite all of the foregoing, Hezbollah is still an Arab organization.

Is it possible that a faction of the hardliners opposed to recent statements by Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's close aide and relative, and Ahmadinejad himself about maktab-e Irani (Iranian school of thought) -- versus maktab-e Eslami (Islamic school of thought) -- released the video to send the duo a message? Some of the top Revolutionary Guard commanders are very close to the reactionary Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who has attacked Mashaei for his statement. They include Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr -- now a deputy to Sadegh Larijani, the judiciary chief -- and Brigadier General Ebrahim Jabari, the new commander of the Guard division that protects Ayatollah Khamenei. Before his appointment to the post, Jabari commanded the Guard forces in Qom and had very close relations with Mesbah Yazdi.

Mashaei's promotion of the "Iranian school of thought" and Ahmadinejad's talk of "Iranian Islam" have created extensive negative reactions across the Islamic world. The release of the video might also be an attempt to counter this negative reaction.

These are, of course, speculations, but there are certainly some very intriguing questions that remain to be answered. Most interestingly, not a single high official of the Islamic Republic has taken a position regarding Nasrallah's speech.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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46 Comments

"Iran has over 4,000 years of written history, and the Persians have lived in Iran for at least seven millennia."
Unfortunately Mr Sahimi has no idea of Iranian/Persian history. The first half of his claim is only partly true as the first evidence for writing comes from ancient Elam, especially from Susa, starting with the so-called Proto-Elamite, ca. 3100-2900 B.C., i.e. at least 5 millenia of written history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elamite_language
Claiming that Persians lived on the Iranian plateau for at least 7 millenia is pure nonsense. According to all extant archaeological and linguistic data Iranian tribes started to invade the plateau around 1500 B.C.
"Pre-Islamic Iran was one of the most glorious civilizations."
Wow! Interesting to see that 31 years after refusing and ignoring Iran's historical roots completely , someone like Mr Sahimi starts to praise it!
But, honestly speaking, those who give nothing on their history do not deserve it. It should also be noted that Iranians owe most of this rejected knowledge about their past to European or American archaeologists and linguists as Roman Ghirshman, Pierre Amiet, Robert Dyson, Daniel Potts, T. Cuyler Young, Pierro Meriggi, Marie Joseph Steve, Walter Hinz to mention only a few.

Arshama / November 13, 2010 9:19 PM

there's another possible explanation -- the video is a forgery. the words don't seem to match up with the lips. what's with the music? i think someone creative with audio and video editing software made this to discredit nasrallah in the eyes of iranians, which is a silly thing to do, because most iranians are anti-arab and even more anti-hezbollah.

Skeptical / November 13, 2010 10:17 PM


Dear Arshama,

It appears that you have some mastery of history.

Would you care to comment on the Jirsoft culture that dates back (by conservative accounts) to 3000 B.C. ? This culture appears to have a "written history" and appears to have "lived in Iran".

In case my references to Jirsoft is unfamiliar to you, here is a link:
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiroft_culture"

Jay / November 13, 2010 11:59 PM

Arshama, to a certain extent you're right. What Muhammad should have stated was that significant elements of Iranian culture extend as far back as seven millennia.

And, yes, Western academics have made contributions towards the study of Iranian history, but I would not so summarily dismiss Iranian efforts in the field, particularly recent ones devoted to the Jiroft civilization.

This Nasrallah clip, whether it is real or fabricated, is insignificant.

Muhammad, you would do better to report and analyze the brilliant Iranian political victory in successfully putting together Iraq's government. Now that's significant. But then, that wouldn't fit into your successions of anti-Iran narratives, would it.

Pirouz / November 14, 2010 12:52 AM

It's come to the point that regardless of what Dr. Sahimi writes the comments section is replete with monarchist and IRI apologists. Give it a rest guys.

I can just see as Iran is Balkanized (and it will be by the West eventually) monarchists glorifying the Shah's reign as heaven on earth as the IRI apologists blame the sedition for tearing up the country.

Interesting article Dr. Sahimi, and I tend to agree that this video raises more questions than offer answers.

B / November 14, 2010 2:47 AM

Sounds like some conspirators who want to break up the strong alliance between Iran and Hezbollah and by extension Lebanon. I would not take this seriously. Iranian nationalists should not belittle the positive impact that Islam has had on Iran and the fact that its ever increasing influence in the Muslim and developing world is opening up new possibilities that would not otherwise have been available with a chauvinistic Iranian nationalism. We need to appreciate all aspects of our heritage fully and there is no reason why can be both a nationalist and a Muslim as most Iranians are.

rezvan / November 14, 2010 4:24 AM

“But, why did Nasrallah, the shrewd strategist, deny that there is such a thing as Iranian or Persian civilization?”

The answer is...that he didn't...exactly. He says (which the subtitles omit)"الآن اليوم" or "now, today" before going on to deny the *current* existence of 'Persianisation' and a Persian culture

"ما في بإران لا شيئ اسمه تفريس و لا حضارة فارسية "

So, he's not denying that a distinctively Persian culture *ever* existed just that, in typical Islamist fashion, Islam is the wellspring of everything in Iran today. Of course, to even the most pious imaami shi'i ex-pat, precisely the opposite would appear to be true.

A question: I'm not that familiar with Persian, but can anyone explain why, with Arabic loan-words, qaaf is pronounced (and then transliterated) as ghayn...and vice versa. I find myself struggling to pronounce Arabic words like حقائق as حغائغ...how do you do it? What is the reason for this? Is it the same across Iran? And, if this is standard and Mr Sahimi transliterates Persian qaaf as ghayn with all names...why not Ghom instead of Qom? Sorry to be a pedant, but can anyone knowledgeable help?

Mirrors for Princes / November 14, 2010 5:15 AM

At least Ayatollah Nasrallah conceded that the Iranian people do exist. That was nice of him and very reassurring to Iranians.

pirooz / November 14, 2010 5:42 AM

Dear Jay,
Though I cannot comment on the date for the "Jiroft Culture", proposed by its excavator Yousef Madjidzadeh, the citadel found at Konar Sandal B points to a local kingdom, related to the Elamite civilization (inscription) and to Mesopotamia due to locally produced and widely traded carved chlorite objects.
The following article offers a critical insight into the matter, showing that Konar Sandal B must have been one of the major 3rd millenium sites in South Eastern Iran, located in the vicinity of other major centers as Shahdad and Shahr-e Sukhteh: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200405/what.was.jiroft..htm
And here you get an idea of the architecture, its relation to Mesopotamian ziqqurats, and of the chlorite vessels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtAevzWZzjs

Arshama / November 14, 2010 7:18 AM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


To put in context Nasrallah’s silly portrayal of Persian civilization, you ought to consider the prevailing narrative of Saudi- and Egyptian-owned mass media outlets that Iranians are, by virtue of alien race and culture, intrinsically hostile to Arabs.


In this narrative, non-Arab Persia is an eternal, irreconcilable enemy, pursuing its imperial ambition to subjugate the Arabs throughout the ages -- in the name of Shia heresy during the Safavids, under the banner of Aryanism during the Pahlavi era, and now cloaked in the guise of Islamic solidarity.


While appealing to pro-American elites, sectarian chauvinists and Wahabis, this crude narrative has not gained significant purchase in mainstream Arab society.


In Lebanon, however, where communal fissures run deep and are easy to exploit, a large portion of Sunnis and Maronites fell prey to this propaganda. Nasrallah’s clumsy statement could be an attempt to create a counter-narrative, stressing Iran’s 'Arabness' to help maintain Hezbollah’s critical toehold of support amongst non-Shia Lebanese amidst a media onslaught capitalizing on racial and cultural enmity.


There is a clear pattern to the conduct of pro-U.S. outlets in the Arab world: Since Turkey broke with Israel over the Freedom Flotilla attack and took Iran's side on the nuclear issue, Saudi and Egyptian media have also begun decrying Turkish 'interference' in Arab affairs, dredging up the sordid history of Ottoman misrule in Arab lands and warning direly of neo-Ottoman ambitions to dominate the Middle East. Some are even combining narratives to propound fears of a joint Persian-Ottoman plot for imperial condominium over the hapless Arabs.

Ali from Tehran / November 14, 2010 5:12 PM

Who cares about what Arab Nasrallah thinks? It is what we think about ourselves that matters.

Pretty soon there will be a confrontation between the mullah regime and the West in which case Hezbollah is expected to take arms and do its part to protect its masters in Tehran. They need to prepare the Arab Lebanon and Arabs at large to die for mullah cause. How else could they do it other than painting an Arab picture of Iran and relate Khomeini, Khamenei and the rest of the idiots to Arab Mohammad, Ali what have you? A clear indication of their intellectual level. What is so hard about figuring this one out?

Iran will not be "Balkanized" due to her historical depth and culture. The Barbaric Republic has used this excuse for some time to scare off the Iranian people into submission. This is yesterday’s news.

Also, stop labeling people who disagree with Dr. Sahimi Monarchist or Islamist apologist etc. etc. . People are entitled to their views and they have every right to be whatever they want to be. It is called freedom, get used to it. If you have something to say just say it less labeling.

God bless our country and our rich history and culture which has been a symbol of civility on this planet.

Niloofar / November 14, 2010 9:38 PM

I'm humbled to see the day in which I wholeheartedly concur with Dr. Ali's (from Tehran) well versed statement. Well said Sir.

To those who claim this clip is fabricated, just spare a minute of your precious time and check "almanar" official website of PoG, the original video is still there for your visual pleasure.
For your covariance here is the link.

http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/VideoItems.aspx?language=en

Aryajet / November 14, 2010 11:08 PM

Dear Aryajet,


If a Houston shopkeeper concurs with me, there must be something very wrong with my earlier post.


I'm petrified.

Ali from Tehran / November 15, 2010 12:01 AM

Ali from Tehran:

Excellent comments. Thank you. I am aware of what you said about Egypt and Saudi Arabia against Iran and Iranians. Your point about Lebanon is also well taken. In the piece I did say that Nasrallah's speech could be directed at Lebanese people.

Arshama:

Yes, I know that Iran's history, especially its pre-Islam part, is the exclusive area of "super-patriotic" monarchists such as you, who also feels that we Iranians owe everything to the U.S. and European - typical comment by a monarchist. But, allow me to indulge myself.

Pirooz:

What can I say? It is your words - an Ahmadinejad/hardliners/neofascists supporter - versus mine - a minor support of the Green Movement and the aspiration of Iranian people for a democratic political system.

But, you suggesting what I should write about is a first, even for your factory of churning out absurd comments. Since you so "brilliantly" defend AN, his gang and his "achievements," why don't you write the piece yourself, and leave it to me to decide what I should write about.

Niloofar:

I agree with your comment regarding freedom of expression and not labeling people. But, you would do well if you just review the comments - those of both the IRI apologists and the monarchists. They are exact mirror images of each other. They both act as if they have exclusive right to the "truth," which more often than not is false. Nothing is good enough for the two group, unless every word that is written is to their liking. Even then they will find something to attack, because both groups believe in "khodis" and "gheyr-e khodis." Just read what Arshama says. I rest my case.

Nasarallah's comments do matter for at least one reason. Iran provides significant military/financial support to Hezbollah.

Rezvan:

As a nationalist-religious Iranian, I am proud of Iran's entire history - pre- and post-Islam. As a believer in an enlightened interpretation of Islamic teachings, I do agree that Islam is part of the Iranians's identity, whether anyone likes it or not.

Muhammad Sahimi / November 15, 2010 4:39 AM

MS says: "As a nationalist-religious Iranian, ..."! That is an oxymoron. Islam does not recognize nation, and being nationalist equals paganism as Ayatollah Khomeini said. The term is only used to fool the nationalists as well as the religious commoners. However, those days of trickery are long gone.

MS said: "Islam is part of the Iranians's identity...". Islam is as much part of iranian identity as various types of deadly viruses are part of a healthy body; if not repelled, it will kill the body cell by cell. The evidence is what islam has been doing to children of iran (cells of the body) in the past 31 years. Islam is an arab cult culture forced on iranians by the force of sword and has no place in future of iran. Eventually, Iran will be as much religious as europe of today is, sooner or later. There is no way that an educated class can believe in Genies and Elves, Gabriel and healing power of dead Emams; while medieval illiterates can be easily fooled into believing anything and everything. That is the edge that the revolutionaries of 1979 had that may be coming to an end.

Read History of Vaqedi, which is written shortly after invasion of iran to see how brutal and racist invading islam armies were, including the Emams that iranians admire today due to their lack of knowledge of the past, Emam ali, emam hassan and emam hussein all had blood of tens of thousands of iranians on their hands and stolen riches of many iranians in their pockets. Many times iranians (according to Vaqedi) left islam and arab armies again and again forced it upon them; e.g., in Tabarestan and Khorasan. Vaqedi mentions that some 40,000 iranians were beheaded only into a river in Gorgan by islam army after defeat of iranians, only to teach a lesson to iranians (sounds like what khomeini did!).

According to "History of Sistan", the islamic armies killed so many iranians that iranians thought that Ahriman (the devil) had appeared. However, they were puzzled as to why the killing machine of the devil continued throughout the day while Ahriman was believed to disappear under the bright rays of the sun.

According to History of Sistan (edited by late Bahar), islamic Caliphs forced hefty taxes on sistan when they finally conquered the land. Sistanites were unable to pay the heavy taxes so instead they were forces to send 1000 virgin girls and 1000 castrated young boys each year to Mecca and Medina to accommodate sexual appetite of islamic governors and caliphs. That is where the arabic word "hoor" comes from. It was used by pre-islamic arabs to refer to iranian young girls and crept into islamic reward system post-islam.

Is this religion worth worshipping? By islamists seeking continued domination and destruction of iran for the sake of islam, yes; by true iranians, no way!

Ghomeishi / November 15, 2010 6:57 AM

Hizbollah Chief is acting in concert with the Iranian establishment ( it is clear so why fuss over his remarks). on the historical side; all the civilizations imprint on the others some of their characteristics. Today it is the West that is trend setter. so no need to be touchy about being an Arab, Iranian or South Asian.

Naqi Akbar / November 15, 2010 2:06 PM

"Yes, I know that Iran's history, especially its pre-Islam part, is the exclusive area of "super-patriotic" monarchists such as you, who also feels that we Iranians owe everything to the U.S. and European - typical comment by a monarchist. But, allow me to indulge myself."

Instead of giving me names, you could have admitted your ignorance on Iran's history, but obviously that would not fit your self-perception as an omniscient academic. Instead of exploring the reasons for Nasrallah's insolent remarks, i.e. the IR's support for his terrorist organisation, you prefer to dress up a "sedition" style story, related to the west. Obviously it is more advantageous to your ego to put the blame for any domestic mischief on foreigners.
I quoted all those compassionate U.S. and European scientists just to remind you that your simplistic black and white thinking does not work. For 31 years people like you cling to this "us" and "others" pattern to avoid a critical and scientific approach to urgent problems of Iranian society. Fortunately a new generation has grown up in Iran, who does not get deceived by such irresponsible manoeuvers any longer.

Arshama / November 15, 2010 7:16 PM

A documentary on PBS recently may give a hint on what is going on.

In part of the documentary, the film crew save a few clean-cut lebanese boys and girls playing under a big picture of Khamenei in southern lebanon. The producer of the documentary asked them of what they felt to be overlooked by picture of khamenei and islamic republic's flag; the response was: "don't you have billboards in america advertising Coca Cola?" I.e., Coca Cola pays for the bill board ad in america and IRI also pays (lebanese) for the billboard with khamenei picture to be displayed.

In another part, a medical doctor claimed that he visited lebanon after israeeli raid on lebanon ended in 2006, and he saw a line to compensate those who lost their homes in the raid. The american resident doctor claimed that he also enters into the line to receive compensation and gave a fake address as his lebanese address, and was compensated for the destroyed house that he did not have to the tune of about $10,000.

So it is all about MONEY, or else arabs have no affinity with iranians.

Shahab / November 15, 2010 10:03 PM

@ghomeishi

Islam DOES recognize nation as it recognizes Diversity ! However it's against racism and extrem forms of nationalism (look at how hitler was elected... democratically!). You keep quoting khomeini but he's not God you know. People can have their own beliefs and interpretations. Being a muslim doesn't mean that you love khomeini, khamenei and so on. You're brainwashed.

"what islam has been doing to children of iran in the past 31 years."

you can blame yourself or your parents. Dictatorships have got nothing to do with Islam. There has been so many dictatorships in the history which hav had in no way any connection to islam.


Islam is an arab cult"

Islam and any other religion is not for a certain race. ignorant.

"There is no way that an educated"

I'm a muslim and i'm not ignorant nor close minded.
And who are you to say who is a true iranian and who is not ? People like u want freedom for iran ? let me laugh, if u were runing the country, you would be worse than khamenei. Thank God that iranians are much more aware, tolerant and intelligent. The future of iran will be tolerant and people will take care of people like u and people like khamenei and his supporters.

Anahita / November 16, 2010 2:17 AM

@muhammad sahimi
"those of both the IRI apologists and the monarchists. They are exact mirror images of each other. They both act as if they have exclusive right to the "truth," which more often than not is false. Nothing is good enough for the two group, unless every word that is written is to their liking. Even then they will find something to attack, because both groups believe in "khodis" and "gheyr-e khodis."

I agree.

Anahita / November 16, 2010 2:35 AM

Anahita: Ayatollah Khomeini was a senior cleric who spent most of his life studying Islam/Shi'ite. So did other grand ayatollahs that agreed with him to various degrees. If he does not know islam then who does?

You are more than welcome to have your religion anyway you desire as long as you do not impose that on any of us iranians.

I gave quotes from historians who were all pious moslims as to how iranians were treated in the beginning. Iranians were called "Ajam", "Majoos", and "Mavaali". According to Tabari (a very reliable moslim), Mavaali men were not permitted to marry arabs. If a member of Mavaali (i.e. iranian) was found to have been married an arab woman, the punishment was death. I am not saying that, the historians are saying that.

When Emam Ali was the Caliph, people of Fars revolted to evade arab rule. Emam Ali ordered suppression of the revolt, tens of thousands of iranians were killed. The city of Estakhr was essentially wiped out. Is this an acceptable behaviour by the most important figure in shi'ite islam to you?

Here is another bit from Emam Hussein. I copy it directly from سفینه البحار و مدینه الاحکام و الاثار,صفحه 146 by Emam Hussein, translated by Sheikh Qomi:

ما از تبار قریشیم,هواخواهان ما عرب و دشمنان ما ایرانیان. هر عربی از هر"
ایرانی بهتر وبالاتر.هر ایرانی از دشمنان ما هم بدتر,ایرانیها را باید دستگیر وبه مدینه آورد.زنانشان را فرختن ومردانشان را به بردگی و غلامی اعراب گماشتن."

I can go on and on, all based on historical texts by moslims. Even khomeini referred to prophet and emams often to justify his mass murders.

If all of these behaviour is acceptable to you then is there anything at all that is not acceptable?

So it appears that there is nothing that islam does is bad in your eyes, because it is god's work after all!

If that is your religion, a religion which was based on such atrocities towards iranians from day one to this day, then so be it, but you cannot impose its standards on millions of iranians. If we had any tolerance from Moslims that you pretend to exist, then we would not be discussing such matters today.

And don't worry about me, I can easily tolerate you -- I have been tolerating my very pious but harmless aunts and uncles for ages -- the question is can you do the same?

Ghomeishi / November 16, 2010 3:36 AM

Ever heard of the saying that from a distance all things look good. I cannot comment on the truth of everything you have quoted without extensive research. But suffice to say that if you do not like Ayatollah Khomeini as he showed an intolerant and repressive side of Islam. What is your opinion of Ayatollah Shariatmadari? who very early on opposed Khomeini's policy and did want a 'democratic' Islamic Republic. Did he represent Islam or not? He was the earliest opponent of 'Islamic' fascism and suffered great humiliation for doing that. Do you think that Persian history before Islam was all sweetness and light with no warfare and bloodshed? Then you have a very distorted view of human history.

rezvan / November 16, 2010 5:08 AM

Ghomeishi:

How about Christian missionaries who murdered hundreds of thousands of indigenous Latin Americans in order to force the rest of them into christianity?

How about Christian missionaries who murdered hundreds of thousands of African in order to colonize Africa and covert the Africans to Christianity?

How about G.W. Bush who declared the war against Islam a crusade, invaded Iraq illegally and criminally, and every morning report about the war that he received began with a quote from the Bible? How many Iraqis were killed as the result of the Crusade? At least 200,000.

How about the Christian fascists who killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Bosnia?

I can go on with this. Have you ever thought about these? Oh, no, of course you have not. Your hatred is targeted only at Muslims, and Islam.

And who are you to decide who is a true Iran and who is not?

Asghar Taragheh / November 16, 2010 6:35 AM

Taragheh, I have no interest whatsoever on what others did to another others, whether it was Martians murdering Venusians, or Alpha-Centurans attacking Moon-worshippers. My interests are limited to iran and friends and foes of iran. If those other beings are as important to you as iranians, good for you that you share views with Nasrollah.

As for who is iranian, that I did not claim to decide either; everyone should decide whether (s)he is iranian or something else for him/herself. Only that no one (wo)man can serve two masters equally, so anything hyphenated is a charade. One is either a Moslim first, in which case stealing from the resource-rich iran and giving it to his/her brothers in palestine/lebanon is not only okay but the religious duty as Nasrollah desires; or is iranian in which case iranians are first in line to benefit from all the resources of iran. Serving two masters at some point leads to making a choice upon conflict of interest.

One cannot serve two masters at the same time. And one should decide which master to serve. This does not mean that one cannot be a moslim in his/her private life (praying, fasting, etc). However, if anyone considers him/herself Moslim exclusively (like Khomeini) or Moslim first (like Khalkhali), that is his/her choice; but then he is not by definition valuing iranian-ness sacred, valuable, or above all. These are personal decisions, but come with unavoidable consequences.

rezvan: Ayatollah shariatmadari was an honorable man and more of an exception rather than norm.

Ghomeishi / November 16, 2010 10:34 AM

rezvan: I forgot to answer your other question about pre-islam iran. No, not everything was dandy then either, BUT there was a big difference between what a king did to his countrymen and what an aggressor (specially one like arabs who had little contact with other races and never ruled any other nation) did to another nation. The history of warfare identifies three different periods:

(1) Early period, ending with early Achamenians: during this period the rule of warfare was "victor's justice" where the victor would wipe out the defeated - as in Ashur Banipal or Greeks setting fire to cities in asia minor; Xerxes also did that to a Greek city in revenge of that, but the city was empty of people so no-one was harmed.

(2) The middle period: this period covers all wars between iran and Rome/Greece. Here the armies would line up in front of each other outside cities and fight until one is defeated. In this scenario, non-combatant citizens are not harmed. Even Alexander the (not so) Great never harmed any iranian ordinary citizen, but only set fire to Persepolis and chased after Darius Shah.

(3) The latter period: starts with arab invasion of iran. Arab aggression was an extension of raids on Caravans. Here arab armies often kill tens of thousands of ordinary citizens or take them as slaves to force people into submission and prevent future revolts. The history books, from both iranian and arab historians, are full of examples, and can be verified by someone with patience. It happened in Azarbayejan, Tabarestan, Sistan, Khorasan, Kharazm, Fars, etc. E.g., Biruni in "Athar al baghiya" describes how Saad Ebne Vaqqas killed all those who could read/write in persian upon conquering Kharazm since he hated when someone spoke persian in front of him.

The question is: does our affinity towards islam makes us reject these or not without any basis. And if they indeed happened (since many historians repeat them), would it be okay because Moslim Caliphs did? In other words, each person should decide where his/her sense of morality is with respect to his religion. That is an individual choice for every person. I value my morality far more than my religion, others may not.

Also, what is often ignored is that arab invasion destroyed a distinct and unique culture -- the iranian culture -- and all the books and history behind it, and replaced it with the islamic culture. Losing a culture is a pity, no matter what nation it belongs to.

Ghomeishi / November 16, 2010 11:09 AM

Ghomeishi:

So, according to your "logic" all the "true" Iranians are necessarily Godless and non-believers, because they cannot serve two "masters." Wow! With a few sentences, you made such a sweeping statement, but yet tell Rezvan that there are exception to your grand rule in the late Ayatollah Shariatmadari. Are you confused, or do you speak from both sides of your mouth? What makes a Muslim honorable, then? Agreeing with you, or there is some deeper reason?

Your statement is also pure nonsense. Nationalist religious people that I know, such as Sahabi, Payman and Bazargan always put Iran first. As Bazargan put it, "we want Islam for Iran, Imam [khomeini] wants Iran for Islam." Learn a bit about Iran's contemporary history before opening your "mobarak" mouth.

Those who killed Muslims and indigenous people of Latin America and Africa were not Martians. You live among them, and you repeat the nonsense that some of them espouse here.

Asghar Taragheh / November 16, 2010 7:11 PM

Dear Ghomeishi,

Your statements, at least on the face of it, appear to be in conflict, and the reason questions are being asked is to try to find out if your point of view is formed on the basis of some principle -- or is it taylor-made for this situation.

In the three example excepts from your writing (below), first you state lack of interest on what others did, then in your next post (not shown) you refer to Greeks and Romans and Arab raids on Caravans. You then implicitly state that it makes a difference who is perpetrating violence only to follow that with an implicit statement that you value morality and raise questions about the use of violence (in this case by the Caliph rulers); appearing to contradict the initial statement, or so it seems...

From the passion reflected in your writing, I would guess that you have a profound point.

Can you articulate your principle moral stance in clear terms? Something that could put your posts in context.

Ghomeishi / November 16, 2010 10:34 AM

"Taragheh, I have no interest whatsoever on what others did to another others, whether it was Martians murdering Venusians, or Alpha-Centurans attacking Moon-worshippers."

Ghomeishi / November 16, 2010 11:09 AM
"...BUT there was a big difference between what a king did to his countrymen and what an aggressor (specially one like arabs who had little contact with other races and never ruled any other nation) did to another nation."

... would it be okay because Moslim Caliphs did? In other words, each person should decide where his/her sense of morality is with respect to his religion. That is an individual choice for every person. I value my morality far more than my religion, others may not."

Jay / November 16, 2010 9:17 PM

Regardless of any religious idea anybody may have, we are all looking for a glorious country, strong Iran. I believe that we need a nationalist government in order to unify the nation. Greens need the nationalism in their way to be alive. Greens used the slogan: “na Ghaze na Lobnan, janam fedaye Iran” in demonstrations after rigged election to motivate people demanding a national party.

HD / November 17, 2010 12:34 AM

@ghomeishi

1

Khomeini ?? come on man, there's not only khomeini who studied shia islam. You pick up what suits you. You ignore ayatollahs such as montazeri, taleghani, shariatmadari like rezvan said, Ayatollah borujerdi, sanei and so on. no it's not exeption. They have even a key role as the regime is based on 2 words (Islam and republic), and they're saying "no, it's not". What you say is meaningless.

"as long as you do not impose that on any of us iranians"

i didn't impose anything to anyone so i don't have to pay the price (just because i'm a muslim) for the mistake that people did 30 years ago.
About what arabs did to iranians in the beginning was sad but i don't see the point.
About Imam Ali, can you give me the source ? hadith ? same about Imam Hossein, he said iranians are worse than enemies,ok but can you give me the source ? is it an hadith as well ?

"Even khomeini referred to prophet and emams often to justify his mass murders"

All dictators justify these things. Hitler did. same for communism. same for saddam. same for Robespierre (france) etc... with differents excuses and ideologies. But it's not justified because finally khomeini won't say "i killed them because they want justice and rights"... of course not. People like Ayatollah Montazeri, who had a big title, was opposed to the mass murders for example.

Anahita / November 17, 2010 1:07 AM

@ghomeishi
2

"there is nothing that islam does is bad in your eyes"

barainke shoma mooro mibinid va man picheshe moo.
The problem for me isn't islam, no. (i'm not talking about theocracy). i'm talking in general.
All religions are fundementally good but it's men who pervert it.

there was a movie where it was said, "there are only 2 kinds of people : Good people and Bad people, there's no other differences."
It means that if a person acts bad, it's not because He or She is a Muslim. it's just that he/she 's a bad person. Do you understand ? Why Islam has to be bad in my eyes ? do you know what does it mean ? just the word "Islam" ? why some iranis are repeating "islam is for arabs" while in the quran (9:97) says : "The arabs are the worst in unbelief and hypocrisy and most fitted to be in ignorance of the message that Allah has sent down to His messenger, but Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise".... ? The fact is that only 17% of the muslims in the world are Arabs. there are more indian muslims than arabs, there are more indonesian muslims than indians.

"a religion which was based on such atrocities "

You can't make distinctions, right ?

As for the question, yes i can tolerate you otherwise i wouldn't talk to you in the first place.

there are no 2 masters. You see, this is a wrong behaviour, because you're in a way, opposing being a muslim and being an iranian. It's simple : i'm iranian by nationality, persian by culture, muslim by spirituality, shia by tradition and i support human rights as a human. simple. Now khomeini was exclusively muslim, good for him. but there has been also people who were exclusevely persian such shah's father, he removed hijab. for ex. Conclusion ? both are the same. We have a rich culture and i'm proud of its diversity. It's sad that some iranis are trying to separate our identities.

Iran has never had a unique culture. Kurds, balouch, azaris, lor, etc.. religion was the only common thing they had.

Anahita / November 17, 2010 1:10 AM

Rezvan, Ghomeish,

Islam, just like Christianity was continuation (a mish mash) of existing regional religions (Judeism, Pagan, others).

Like every religion, they started out as small cults (no offense to any one) . unlike most cults they happened to catch on and continue to thrive to become major religions.
This process occurs even today(e.g. Mormon Church.)

thanks to the many inconsistancies of their holy books, their teachings are open to interpretation as their followers pick and chose what morals fir their own best ...which explains the contrast between Shriatmadari and Khomeini. essentially the difference between the "moderate" who pick the nicer parts of the holy book, and the "fundamentalists" like Khomeini who want to follow the religion in its most "pure" form, and so they must follow the not so nice parts of the book as well ('like kill the infadal', sharia law etc.)

Finally dear Ghomeishi,
It may be more productive to ask for seperation of religion from state rather than hoping for it go away.

The crimes commited by the Arabs against Iranians are undeniable. yet not unique. I am sure us Persians have done our share of brutality.

If religion is the byproduct of man, then man is to blame not its byproduct, religion.

ahvaz / November 17, 2010 4:53 AM

Islamic Republic has been attempting to Arabize Iran for years (from language to school books to holidays) and demonize Persian culture which they consider 'pagan' (from Norouz to Charshanbeh suri, etc).

Why should mullah nasrollah feel any different. Is there any surprize IR officials have not condemned his silly statements?

As far as the intent of Mollah nasrollah's statements, it makes sense that he was addressing an Arab audience weary of Persian Influence/perceived threat.

Ahvaz / November 17, 2010 6:48 AM

Anahita: You accused me of being "ignorant." I am ignorant, but ignorant of herd mentality and stockholm syndrome that has been infused into iranian minds for 1400 years. All that I said was based on well-established historical evidence and hard-core islamic laws. They are spread across many historical books, often old thick books. However, reading those books are of no use to likes of you who have already made up your mind. For those books to make a difference one has to be:

(1) Open-minded, i.e., ready to change mind based on new information despite traditional beliefs,

(2) Places morality above religion -- otherwise whatever I show, the ready-made explanation is that well, Prophet/Islam did that so it must be good.

(3) Some of my references are extracted directly from Koran. One must be willing to invoke a sense of morality or else can easily reject them since God's word must be flawless. For example Surah Muhammad, Ayeh 4 is: "Behead infidels anywhere you find them till ground is colored with their blood". That is exactly what invading arabs did with iranians.

If you qualify and willing to change your mind with new information, then I will find the references on internet (since I do not have it in a place that can be easily accessed right now).

Your other points are all subjective. The problem may be with people, but it is deeper than that. Amputation of hands and limbs, stoning, qesaas, sigheh, ... are all part of islam, not people. A moslim must observe them. There is no if or but in them.

Emam hussein's quote is from the book that I mentioned. It is a translation of his words from arabic to farsi (like Nahj-ol-balagheh is from Emam Ali) and printed in Qom. Earlier Emams, specially the first four were very anti-iranian. Did I say that Emam hassan was receiving huge taxes from province of Fars. This is well-documented in Emam hassan's peace treaty. Mullas attest to that.

My point was not directed at all moslims, not even arabs, BUT those who committed atrocities on iranians, and forced islam on iranians. Whether you like it or not, islam was fine-tuned for arabs. Koran says: "Oh Prophet, tell people of Mecca that we brought this Koran for you in arabic so you would understand it easily." and when Prophet made his last Hajj he said that his mission was then complete (since most arabia was then moslims). Koran was an improvement of jewish Torah, but inappropriate for iranians who were vastly ahead of arabs then. E.g., there are 17 cases where a person can be stoned in jewish law. That has been reduced to only one in islamic law. But for iran where there was no stoning, it still was one too many. There are many other examples that I can bring up.

You mentioned Montazeri and Taleghani, etc. With the exception of Shariatmadari (I don't know history of the Young Borojerdi), they all have bloody hands except that they turned away when they saw way too much blood. By then it was just too late and khomeinism had taken roots. So do not view these guys as saints. Specially Montazeri was the co-architect of Vali-Faghih in the constitution and there are TV tapes in which he attacks youths for complaining about VF. It was much later that he changed his mind.

ahvaz: you said: "It may be more productive to ask for seperation of religion from state ..."

Sigh! If that was possible, we would not be talking about any of this now. Who cares about what religion one practices at home; but the problem is that Islam is not a private religion, it is a complete workbook for a state. If you ignore, e.g., stoning, you are ignoring part of religion. "Amr be maroof", "nahy az monkar" is part of the religion and moslim's duty. That is why being an iranian-moslim is so problematic and sooner or later the moslim part orders you to kill the iranian part, and that is why so many iranian-moslims ended up committing treason, turned into torturers and executioners in evin, and so on and so forth. I am perfectly happy with the separation, but Islam (/mullas) are not.

Ghmeinshi / November 17, 2010 9:28 AM

@Ghmeinshi / November 17, 2010 9:28 AM

"....the problem is that Islam is not a private religion, it is a complete workbook for a state."


True. point taken.

I want to add, that the style and manner of Khomeini's emergence and governance mirror mohammad's (which makes sense as Khomeini was an expert in Islamic studies and he strived to follow in the prophets footsteps to recreate hisIslamic state --- and he did)

ahvaz / November 17, 2010 7:28 PM

Dear Ghomeishi,

Just to clarify, if I accept your stated principles (November 17, 2010 9:28 AM) and your statements following it on face value, and simply apply your principles, I would reach the following conclusions:

1) Ghomeishi advocates human moral principles over religious ideas

2) because Major religions have promoted actual or mental coercion in one form or another in some points of their history (thereby violating principles articulated), Ghomeishi consider all religions that use such coercion a blight on humanity - this would certainly include all sects and branches of the major three: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

Since religious leaders of the majority religions have participated or advocated acts that violate principles so articulated, either now or in the past, it is Ghomeishi's position that we are better off without Judaism, Christianity, Islam in our lives and he would advocate such a position with respect to any religion (or maybe ideology) of the same kind without reservation.

Do I have this right?

Jay / November 17, 2010 8:40 PM

Dear Jay, I was not inconsistent, but the short space can lead to short-coming in verbal description of thoughts. I was simply referring to the extent of crime (e.g., the number of people killed) in distinguishing between crimes of, say, a king upon his own people versus upon another nation, not that the value of a human being differs in the two cases. We had likes of Shapour zol-aktaaf before islam who gathered his enemies and ran a rope through their arms (a despicable act), yet that differs "vastly" in number and intensity from what invading arabs did: (a) The enemies of the shah were a limited number of people, but the "infidels" pretty much included all iranians, (b) running rope through one's arm (as bad as it is) is different from killing someone aimlessly, and (c) Shah will eventually die or be overthrown, but a religion survives through ages. I.e., Khomeini committed crimes based on the same principles (at least in his view) that Omar perpetrated crimes against infidels. My intention was not to diminish the veracity of one compared to other, rather to emphasize the differing extents.

As to what is considered moral basis; that is a difficult one. It appears that human beings have a genetic sense of what is right and what is wrong. From Raazi to Voltaire have tried to articulate that. There are even early Moslims that turned away from Islam once they saw the Prophet raiding caravans and committing crimes. Some did not participate in Prophet's war, some even did not participate in the first Hajj (accusing Prophet of paganism towards Ka'beh), and were punished for their disobedience.

Taragheh: You should really get to know your religion much better that you so easily get offended about. The differences between likes of Shariatmadari and Khomeini is what also puzzled early theologians. Have you wondered why we have so many nasty mullas in islamic republic? Here is an explanation:

There are really two Muhammads. One Muhammad who preached Islam in Mecca for 13 years; another Muhammad the statesman in Medina.

Muhammad of Mecca did not commit any violence and brought peaceful koranic verses for people of Mecca to pray to a single Allah. Meccan Surahs are void of any violence, After 13 years less than 100 people converted to Islam in Mecca. (BTW, there were other people in Mecca at his time pretending to be Prophets as well; that was common amongst arabs and jews of arabia then).

Muhammad then migrated to Medina and changed substantially. He resorted to violence to convert people to islam there. Even the newly converted moslims of Mecca were puzzled then. Surahs from Medina are the ones which define a state based on violence. In Mecca, the Prophet said: "there is no obligation in religion" (the famous "laa ekraah fel din"). In Medina, the Prophet said: "kill infidels". These two do not add up. That difference you see between those who follow the Meccan Muhammad as a prophet (like Shariatmadari) and those who follow the Medinan Muhammad as a statesman (like Khomeini), or those who are confused between the two (like Montazeri).

There are early historians that were puzzled at this change of behaviour of the two Muhammads. One prevailing idea was that all that Muhammad said in Mecca (with the exception of two disputed Ayahs) were brought to him by Gabriel from Allah, but what the Prophet said and did in Medina were NOT from Allah, but rather from Muhammad himself (the NEWLY incarnated Akbar Ganji falls into this group too). There are few early historians that even believe that the Surahs brought upon Muhammad in Medina were from Satan pretending to be angel Gabriel. Moslims, of course, do not accept any of these, and that is why Khomeini issued a fatwa for Salman Rushdi who had written a novel based on the same historical conjecture and puzzlement.

ahvaz/Ahvaz: we agree! I think it is the duty of any open-mided moslim (and iranian) to read a couple of Surahs of Koran very carefully in word-for-word translation: Surah Toubeh is a must read, Surah Nessa is a second must read, and then think about if Islam was welcomed in iran with open arms (as Dr. Shariati et al want you to believe), or by the sword (as Tabari, Beihaqqi, Ebne Khaldoun, Ebne Athir, Biruni, Vaqedi, ...) testify.

Ghomeishi / November 17, 2010 11:07 PM

Dear Jay, I just saw your second comment and wanted to respond to, although I may have addressed some of your points in my previous response (to appear).

1) We have no choice. Imagine any Abrahamic religion used as the moral compass (in say west) would mean that, e.g., we stone children for disobedience from parents (as in Judaism, although there are two types of Stoning in Judaism: one to kill, the other to insult or punish). Who in the world wants to stone his children because they disobeyed the parent. Or as you see, the Islamic Republic has turned stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani into a daily charade since they are stuck between world public opinion and islamic laws. That is why they constantly change tactics and accusations to find a way of doing what the islamic law prescribes. And that is why they often hide their crimes from public view so that they can have both islamic laws implemented and and national/international revolt prevented. Let's face it, each religion was brought for its own time and its own people and their specific issues at hand. That time and place are long gone whether we like it or not, unless we want to go back to middle ages, whether it is spanish inquisition or stoning in the islamic republic.

As another example: Koran specifically says that one can beat a disobedient wife (Surah Nessa, end of Ayah 34). That may have been applicable to arabia where girls were buried alive and divorced wives often had no income and no place to go; but not applicable to even iran of prophet's time which was ruled by a queen. How can Queen's husband (who was not the King) beat the absolute ruler of the country upon disobedience, let alone iran of today where females are prosperous and energetic.

2) That is true: separation of religion and state is really a way out of ignoring the statehood part of the religion, otherwise by definition religions cannot be changed - you ignore one piece, you might aswell ignore the whole thing. Unfortunately, there are people who act based on coercion and intimidation or promise of better after-life, so total uprooting of religion may not be possible, specially that (lately) some have come to realize that human beings have some form of religion genes and need to believe some sort of supernatural.

I think separation of state and religion is one way. What I like even more is to open up discussion of religion to scientists. There is so much information available out there, but not to benefit of mullas to be discussed. In iran, religion has always been the exclusive domain of mullas and anyone else who said anything that they did not like was faced with intimidation or losing of his head. I think it was ayatollah shariatmadari's son (but I am not certain, must refer to his Youtube interview) who said that khomeini's representative slapped ayatollah shariatmadari and threatened his children in order to force him into submission.

And I am not singling out Islam at all; Judaism is certainly harsher than Islam in its laws and christianity has its own dark history. Except that Christianity is really abandoned as a religion of state laws today (which I am sure makes likes of Pope very uncomfortable) and Judaism -- well we know where it is. But Islam is really a re-discovered new-comer and particularly troublesome in my country of interest that Iran is.

I am sorry for the long response.

Ghomeishi / November 18, 2010 12:20 AM

@Ghomeishi / November 17, 2010 11:07 PM

interesting, and very enlightning.

I agree with your catergorization of Koran into Pre-migration period(from Mecca to Medina) to post-migration period.

The former was about preaching love, kindness and tolerance (at a time when Muhammad himself was persecuted and ridiculed by Meccans, and he had little success in recruitment) and the latter "post-migration period" when Muhammad had great success and essentially took over Medina. In the latter part of Koran, in contrast to the first part, it was about nation building and governance, filled with rules and laws, and of course calls to kill, even to the point of micromanaging whom to kill (in his conflict with rival tribes, Jewish tribes and Ghoreish)


The transformation is typical of someone who moves from a position of vulnurable persecuted minority (in Mecca)to a position of absolute unquestioned power (in Medina).
(e.g. Khomeini's transformation... pre and post revolution---- speeches and promisses)


This transofrmation is difficult to see because Koran is for some reason not presented chorologicaly.
I would be intersted to see someone present Koran not in its numerical order , but rather in chorological order. I think this transformation (from preaching peace, kindness and tolerance to later, rules and laws of governance and nationbuilding---incl brutality) would then become much more apparent.


It is all there for every one to see for themselves, and make their own informed judgement about it.


RE sex

it is very curious that Muhammad the Prophet, a one-woman guy for many many years of his adult life when he was with Khadija, after her passing, developed a sensatioble appetite for women, marrying and taking to his bed dozens of them.

Again, this may show transformation to a King with absolute power.
( I guess, this is part of what the authors referred to this very earthly phenomenon of transformation "Satan's influence").


Now I most go before I turn into stone.


Ahvaz / November 18, 2010 3:49 AM

Ahvaz,

There actually were 2 Korans: one put together by Emam Ali and another by Othman. The former was in chronological order that could tell us a lot about the transformation that you talked about. For some reason (maybe influence) Emam Ali's Koran was not adopted and was destroyed. What we have today is Othman's that not only has Verses mixed but Ayahs within verses also interleaved. But a lot of Verses are known, in general, if they are Meccan or Medinan, sometimes from content or context too.

Yes, the prophet had Khadijeh as his only wife until her death. Then he had a total of 19 other wives; upon his death he had 9 wives. There are verses in Koran that allows the Prophet to have more than the usual 4 wives. Aisha in an occasion says in a sarcastic tone to Prophet that: your god is taking good care of you! Of course, in Islam slaves can be slept with without any "Nekaah" or "Sigheh" and are not included in above count. Islamic scholars dance around this subject and give the explanation that these marriages were for political reasons. Some may have been, such as marrying daughter of Abubekr or daughter of Omar; but then there are cases that this explanation is hard to buy into.

You are absolutely right about Khomeini's double-face: he indeed lad learned his lessons VERY well.

And you said: "I most go before I turn into stone": that is why people are so nerves about discussing these subjects, specially for the past 500 years, and mullas have fully abused this sense of fear to their benefit. And that is why there is such a severe shortage of any intellectual/scientist/free-thinker for the past 500 years (except for religious crowd, such as Majlesi, Tabatabaee, Shariati, ...).

Now "I" must go before being virtually stoned!

Ghomeishi / November 18, 2010 6:27 AM

ghomeishi
1-
Don't mix everything. You said islam is only for arabs and i told you, you're ignorant and your comments prove it, specially your 3th point about the surah 4. I didn't become muslim blindly ghomeishi. I made research about it, i was born in a non religious family if not anti. About books, i can show many books as well. You say i made up my mind, how about you ? At least, i saw and read differents points of views on islam before being a muslim instead of repeating what our parents usually tell us since our birth. "islam is for arabs" is typically one of them.
As for your second point, religion is morality. As for the prophet, i've never justified anything by saying "the prophet did that so it must be good". "ready made explanation".. if explanations are logical, why not accept ?
About the surah 4 of muhammad, what you wrote was wrong, it's another surah. Anyway, beheading people at that time was current (wars and invasions), it has nothing with the surah as it has a context. Many wars and invasions (done by arabs) have been done after the death of muhammad. About Medina, when Muhammad arrived, there were many problems as he preached the existence of one God and most of people were pagans so he was attacked.

"There is no if or but in them."
Quran is a book on which you have to meditate... so critics are actually important.
many surahs : 47:27 = " do they not reflect upon the Qur'an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?" ..... And 17:79 - 3:17 and many many others.
Stoning is not in the quran, this word doesn't exist in the quran. that's why many scholars are against. Amputation, there's a verse 5:37 but read also the 5:38. about qesaas, in the quran it's not said that the person MUST be killed, it encourages forgiveness. But this depends mainly on people's mentalities. You know, i'm against capital punishment (stoning, lashes, qesaas etc..) and i'm a muslim. all these have a context. what is important in islam is God, morality, peace and justice. that's what is all about. there's no laws, there are principles.
About Imam hassan, i think the tax is called Jizzyah, "huge" is your personal add no ? ^^ the jizzyah should be paid by those who had a different religion and in exchange, the religious minorities don't take part in wars. muslims must protect them and if a person (non-muslim) takes part, the jizyah is given back.

Arabic : there are 2 main reasons.
1) Arabic is one of the most difficult language. each word has mutiple meanings and has differents roots. for ex : Islam. = Is and slam. Is =submission, gift and slam = derived from salam which means peace. So, it means : Having peace by gifting yourself to God. this is the meaning of islam.
2) the prophet spoke arabic.

So, of course, regarding these, the quran won't be in portugese.

Anahita / November 18, 2010 9:28 PM

@ghomeishi
2-

Montazeri, taleghani : bloody hand ? Montazeri criticized khom, montazeri denied power for justice. So if you know many people doing that.
taleghani who was killed, since the beginning criticized them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AEZ4dbWHpI. About the tv tapes of montazeri, do you have links, i'm interested.

As for books, yes i'm interested specially about imam ali because from what i know it's wrong what you said, actually it's Omar who killed many iranians. Not imam Ali.
islam and swords : here is another point of view : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-mmksfFDf4

About faith, let it be. this is the eternal debate between the one has faith and the one who hasn't. What is important is that both : iranians muslims and secular must be respected in iran.
Your comment to ahwaz was a nonsense as well. Islam is not against secularism : 2:256 = "there's no compulsion in acceptance of religion." 10:99 = "had your lord willed, all people would have believed, would you force people to become believers ?" 109:6 = "for you is your religion and me my religion". it also proves that islam is a religion not a book of laws.
About secularism, It depends what kind of secularism it is.

khoda negahdar.

Anahita / November 18, 2010 9:31 PM

Anahita, you have touched on a lot of issues telegraphically and rejected them out of "faith". Bringing Bazargan as evidence is really sad with the history that his father has had, I do not think this family has any credibility as their only aim is survival of Islamic Republic. These fanatics have been lying to us for at least 500 years, so who are you going to believe, him or a dozen or so early historians all of whom were pious moslims.

Arguing each and every point that you have raised requires a lot of space since my previous responses have not been convincing to you. E.g. Ayeh 4 (Surah Muhammad) that you referred to is a direct translation of what the Ayeh says. Open Koran and read for yourself, and yes (as I mentioned and you said too) it contradicts another (Meccan) Ayeh. As I said, there are lots of contradictory Ayehs in Koran. Usually one from Mecca, another from Medina where Prophet was really the king there. Exactly as Khomeini was: Meccan Khomeini was kind and democrat (pre-revolution), and Medinan Khomeini was the one who would order mass murders (post-revolution).

You need to decide on one thing: which of the following do you value most (a) Truth and Morality, OR (b) Faith and Religion?

If your answer is the latter, then there is nothing that can change your mind, and you and I will be wasting time arguing. A lot of pious Islamic Scholars do not dispute what I have said, only that they find an explanation or twist it. If that is your style, then nothing can change your mind. But if truth, open-mindedness, and absolute morality have most value for you, then I suggest you look at the following references as they summarize other books (all with references) and Ayehs. If you can, do not read them as a moslim iranian, but, say, as an agnostic norwegian, who is neutral and only seeks the truth:

(1) 23 Years by Ali Dashti. This is about Islam. Please read from page 1 to see how a very pious person, studying for many years in Najaf wrote this book about Islam. Islamic Republic imprisoned and beat him so much at age 83 that he was hospitalized with a broken pelvis. Focus on his evidence there in particular (mostly from Koran). Here is an on-line copy:

http://tarnama.org/library/23sal.pdf

(2) 2 Qarn Sokoot by Dr. Hossein Zarrinkoub. This is about arab invasion of iran. It also talks about misdeeds of iranians during that time period as well, so it is not one-sided. Here is an on-line copy:

http://rs233cg.rapidshare.com/#!download|233tl|64402781|Do_Gharn_Sokoot.pdf|28862

(3) Please read Surahs "Toubeh" and "Nesa'" in your mother tongue carefully. If you are a female, ask yourself if you are willing to be treated as prescribed in Suran Nesa.

Islamists usually bring up excuses to reject these evidences by saying either of:

(1) These are lies or proven to be lies. I ask them: based on what? (I do not even see Mr. Bazargan to provide any evidence, just an opinion).

(2) Justify them circumstantially, like Prophet had so many wives for political reasons. I ask them, then why did he sleep with his slaves so that his wives (Aisha and Hafseh in particular) catch him and get into a fight with him so that Gabriel intervenes and tell wives to basically shut up. Or why did he have to ask one of his pious followers to divorce his pretty wife so he can marry her (as Allah wanted that). I am sure Islamists have a well-made explanation for this too.

(3) This was right for his time. I ask them: then all other laws and edicts were right for then as well and not applicable for now.

Note that the above books are quite soft on Shiite Emams, either because they do not chronologically get to their period or out of fear and anger of mullas. However, there are other sources that I have to look for, but islamic republic itself has always used these to justify their. E.g., Khomeini in at least two occasions referred to beheading of 700 Bani Ghoraizeh captives by the order of the Prophet, executed by Emam Ali and Zobeir as proof that his order to slaughter prisoners in 1988 was right. I have seen Youtube video but I can't find them now (a similar video brought below -- not by khomeini though). And recently an IRI official said that "Emam Ali killed 70,000 people to maintain his Caliphate and we have not killed as many".

Here are a couple of rapid reviews - ignore personal views there but note what is read directly from text.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8qt5PXt0Uo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAxWO15ln7I&feature=related

I do not know about you, but I want my Prophet and my Emams to be not to clean, not to issue orders to kill, not go to war time after time, pocket Kharaaj and Zajiyeh, etc. that likes of Khomeini can copy 1400 years later. Otherwise one can always find justification for anything and any act one way or other.

Az for Montazeri, he only turned away from Khomeini in 1988, after 9 years of helping him. Again, I like my religion leader to have highest moral ground day after day, rather than whenever suits him. Sanaee also cooperated with the regime for a long time before turning away. As this persian proverb says: "a river can be blocked at its source, but when it gains mass and momentum, even an elephant cannot cross it". All these ayatollahs helped khomeini to become a monster, only turned away from him when it was too late. Shariatmadari was the only exception that I know of.

You touched a lot of other things, but this is already getting to large a response.

Ghomeishi / November 19, 2010 3:08 AM

Anahita, I found a couple of pages of old histories on web. They are not as clear on subjects, and some are in arabic.

This is about war with Khorasan where Emam hassan and Emam hossein participated in from History of Tabari:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3Z6KbL_u8WA/TNlqt2dUg6I/AAAAAAAAADQ/ckpw3PnKLbM/s1600/1.jpg

This is where Emam hassan and Emam hussein participated in war with Tabarestan from Fotoohol Baladan:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_3Z6KbL_u8WA/TNluZPHml_I/AAAAAAAAADU/LNcO2WbjE8M/s1600/2.jpg

This is about peace of Emam hassan receiving Kharaaj from iran for himself and Emam hussein (2 million derham) and bani hashem from Akhbar al Tavaal:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3Z6KbL_u8WA/TNqxnRH0z5I/AAAAAAAAAD4/GLI7s5IxVg0/s1600/Picture+009.jpg

I know these are barely clear but were handy.

The question is: if there is no obligation in religion, why should Emams go to war for it and kill people for islam to spread. Or why iranians pay their hard-earned to hassan or hussein or any other aggressors arab who has come to their land by force?

Ghomeishi / November 19, 2010 4:04 AM

I agree with all Mr.Ghomeishi said. He is true IRANIAN. The Religion is a personal matter and noone should interfair in this personal matter. A country is a matter for all citizen to be concern about & care about.

Maryam H / November 21, 2010 4:03 PM

Well said Mr. Ghomeishi. Islam, and all religions for that matter are another way to subjugate the masses and take advantage of them for the benefit of a few. It is a cancer than needs to be removed from Iran. This past 31 years have helped in that direction. The current bloody IRI is doing a fine job of showing the true face of Islam.

Sohrab / November 30, 2010 2:06 AM