Religious Wars in Iran
As far as the issue of religion, frankly the issue for Iran is not any religion or ideology, not even Shi'a religion. The issue is the organization of Shi'a. In other words how people want to worship their God and whether they like to have clergy as a mediator or not, is their business. I cannot tell a practicing Shi'a not to have maj'a. Some may choose not to have one. I do not think it makes that much of a difference any way, and it is their choice. Aghajari thinks it is a big deal, but I do not care about it, and I am sure there are many people like him who may choose to stay Muslim, and not feel they need clergy. And I am sure many other Muslims may stay with Islam long after IRI, with or without marja. Personally I can care less and this is not my issue with the organization of Shi'a religion. I have explained this extensively in my following article before:
What I do care about is khoms and zakAt not being taxable. I do care that the money is not going thru government scrutiny. I do care about taxation of AstAne ghodse Razavi. And I think Shi'a religion has a parallel organization in Iran that since the Safavids has been equal to or even bigger than the state, and I think in a post-IRI secular state, one should constitutionally stop the interference of this huge Shi'a organization from interfering in executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. I think this full separation must be prescribed in the constitution.
Other religions, not even Sunni in Iran, do not have such organizations, and I really am not worried about their interference in the state. Only Shi'a, which dominates Iran, with some 95% of the population being from that background, constitutes such a threat to Iran's democracy in the future.
Now if anybody wants to make its own religious war, the issue of Iran, I would resist that. Do I see other religious wars, or anything like the Islamic Protestantism among other religions in Iran, or even between religions. Sure I do, although as I will explain later, those are not the religious wars that I think as the major issue of Iran. But surely I see the split in Baha'i religion something like the rise of Protestantism in the Baha'i Faith, where some want to reform or even upgrade that religion. Do I care if one wants to stay a Baha'i and another wants to be a Protestant version of Baha'i Faith or even make a similar post-Baha'i religion? Not really. It is their business and it is their private matter. As long as they do not force it on me, why should I care what they worship and how they do it.
I mean I can express my opinion about different religions, and how much more or less cultish each is, but frankly I am not a religious person, and can care less, and all I care about is secularism. Now again something like the Baha'i split is not the kind of religious war I am concerned with, when I write about making religious wars the issue of Iran. I think what the Baha'i organization is going thru is more of a global thing and its significance for Iran is next to nothing. As far as Iran and Baha'is, I think the main issue remains the persecution of Baha'is by IRI and it should be fought by all those concerned about human rights.
Then what do I mean by
distraction of growth of democracy by the religious wars in Iran.
What I mean by distraction is actually the religious issues raised by the Islamic reformists about Islamic Republic, religious issues raised by the IRI government "reformists", including Aghajari and sAzmAne mojAhedine enghelAbe eslAmi. Issues that are about how *Islamic* republic must be, and they all have different interpretations of Islam's *theory of state*, starting from Omar to our times, including discussions as to whether velAyate_faghih is the right Islamic method or X or Y is the "real" Islamic theory of state. And they want the movement for democracy to become a movement to replace VF-styled IRI with a different style of an Islamic Republic. For me, I do not care for *any* Islamic state, be it the IRI or the reformist version or the MojAhedin version. I simply do not want *any* Islamic state and I want a secular state.
Now, as long as the state and religion are separate, why would I care if some people choose to be Protestant and some others choose to stay Catholics. This is their business and their private matter. This is the whole point of me wanting to get rid of IRI, and establish a secular republic in Iran, so that the clergy does not interfere in the state, and the state does not interfere in religion. I wrote the following article about religion as a private matter to emphasize, that in Iran, we should focus on making religion a private matter, and thus to resist becoming a pawn in the religious wars of the so-called IRI "reformists":
If you read this article, please also make sure to read another article of mine which discusses why Shi'a clergy should be kept out of state offices. Today under IRI we may all think that the most important issue is the interference of state in religion, like we see IRI persecuting the Jews, Zoroastrians and Bahai's. But in a post-IRI world, the other direction will be the main issue, like it was before IRI, during mashrootiat and during the Pahlavis, where the religion interfered in government, namely Shi'a that interfered by the veto of five mojteheds, and actually some of the clergy right now, are trying to secure a similar position, in the post-IRI government.
Here is what I wrote on this topic which I think is the most important issue of the democratic movement in Iran. Please read the following carefully as we are going to face this issue in Iran's future constitution, not in a distant future, and we need to be ready for it:
The bottom line is that those who want to make the religious issue of Islam's theory of state, the issue of Iran's democratic movement, do not want IRI to go, and although many of those who are entangled in the VF quagmire are not Islamists themselves, but what they share with the IRI government "reformists" is the fear that the forces they do not like may take power if IRI goes, and thus are afraid of the secular state that may come to power in Iran, and are clinging to the Islamic Republic, supporting the religious wars of IRI "reformists", albeit under the banner of defining "Islamic Democracy", but in reality helping that we end up staying with IRI for good, the same way the Chinese have ended up staying with the Communist regime, albeit a "reformed" one!
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
March 9, 2003