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Ayatollah Amjad: 'Impossible to Be an Islamic Scholar and Call This Islam'

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

28 Jan 2011 07:03Comments
Amjad3.jpgAddressing political prisoners' families, popular cleric decries what has become of the Revolution.

[ dispatch ] Ayatollah Mahmoud Amjad Kermanshahi (born 1939) is a moderate and popular cleric. Up until about a month ago, he was the public prayer Imam at Emamzadeh Saleh, a well-attended shrine in the northern Tehran district of Shemiran. He was sacked by the hardliners on the grounds that he was asked to publicly beseech for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's health at the end of the prayers he was leading (as right-wing clerics do these days), but refused, saying, "In my late night prayers, I pray for all the devout and pious people." Amjad supported Mir Hossein Mousavi in the rigged presidential election of June 2009, and remonstrated against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has been criticizing the hardliners ever since.

On Tuesday, Amjad met with a group of political prisoners' families who asked him to help with the plight of their loved ones in jail. He expressed his deep sorrow and regrets for the families, the innocent political prisoners, and, more generally, the nation of Iran and what has happened to its people over the past two years. He then said, "How is it possible for anyone to be an Islamic scholar and speak about Islam, but be indifferent about what has happened? How can one be patient when one hears about the attacks on the universities in the middle of the night and the beating of innocent students? I have stopped all of my work and do not go anywhere, because I have no answer for such questions. Should I say this is Islam? That what has happened has been humane?"

He then said, "The true mission of the clerics is defending people. But, nowadays we cannot do anything and do not even have any defense when it comes to the youth. We must be the voice of the truth, but our hands are tied. If they give me just a few moments on Islamic Republic television, I would declare that this [clerical] turban [that I wear] has supported justice my entire life; in fact that is the idea behind it. If one cannot be a supporter of justice, one must put it down. If I did not have this turban, I would be a commoner. Now that I have it, people have expectations, but my hands are tied. Republicanism means that people are present in the public domain, and the media support the people, meaning that there should be [freedom of] criticism. But, now, the situation is such that even if you see us smiling, it would be a superficial smile. Our hearts are aching. All we can do is listen and convey."

He went on to emphasize, "The end does not justify the means. So many doctors and engineers sacrificed themselves for the Revolution and the system. But now, the way we act, people are asking, Is this the life and livelihood [we fought for]? You [clerics] call each other thieves and discover [expose information about] each other in front of the camera. What have we achieved? What is there that people can be happy about?"

Ayatollah Amjad then told the families of the political prisoners, "I am embarrassed by the patience that you have." He expressed regret that "people are fed a lot of wrong and one-sided information and that many decisions are made based on such information. But some people have closed their eyes to the truth, and some pious people also believe such information."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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