Friday, July 01, 2005

Muslim Big Brother

There is a Muslim concept called velayat-e faqih, which is generally translated as “guardianship of the jurist”. Originally the concept of velayat meant that the clergy would assume responsibility for orphans, the insane and abandoned or untenanted property. In 1970, during the period of his exile in Najaf, Iraq, the Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a treatise in which he explained that velayat should be extended to the whole of society. This would mean that a supreme religious authority would be a parent to everyone. Khomeini later claimed the role of faqih (supreme leader) for himself.

I am going back to Christopher Hitchens’ article in Vanity Fair which made a very big impression on me. There was so much that was inspiring in it that I had a very hard time deciding what to write about, hence this 2nd post about Iran.

What I found frightening is that while a lot of people in Iran apparently want change, they are afraid to bring it about themselves. Hitchens describes them as living in an “as if” society, i.e. they “live as if they were free, as if they were in the West, as if they had the right to an opinion, or a private life.” But the fact is that they do not have freedom or any of that. And what they lack most of all seems to be the motivation or inspiration to do anything about it.

Two quotes from the article that particularly struck me are as follows:

“Do you suppose that the West will ever come to our aid? Or is it all hypocrisy?” – a man in the city of Mashhad.

“Do you think that the West could come here and remove the rulers but only stay for a week and then leave?” – a woman in the city of Esfahan.

And then Hitchens: “It’s also among the young that one most often hears calls for American troops to arrive and bring goodies with them. Yet, after a while, this repeated note began to strike me as childish also. It’s a confession of powerlessness, an avoidance of responsibility, a demand that change come from somewhere else.”

It seems to me that the Ayatollah Khomeini succeeded in creating the ultimate nanny state, one in which everyone feels like a helpless child. Where are the dissidents? Where are the courageous underground leaders? If the US goes into Iran, it will not be to “save” the people, our soldiers will not be handing out “goodies”, we would not leave in a week, and the whole country would descend into chaos. If the people of Iran really want change, they need to rise up and bring it about for themselves.


Anonymous said...


Dont you think in this day and age of high technology and heavy survailence that maybe people under the rule of an oppressive government can't organize and therefore need an outside force to free them? Is this possible? And isnt it possible as well that no matter what the US does there are alway going to be people who disagree. If we went into Iran and did stay a week people would say we didnt stay long enough. If we did stay until a new government was able to get started and security was established they would say we are staying too long. In the 1st Gulf war we didnt finish the job and now that we are finishing the job we are staying too long. And no matter what we do they are going to say we are there for oil or Haliburton. Bush was foolish for going to war by claiming Iraq had WMDs he should have went to Iraq because Saddam was a huge violator of human rights. And no, I really dont believe people living under the rule of a guy like that can rise against him. They saw too many of their friends and family members murdered or tortured for having different points of view.

Monkey's Max said...


I do absolutely agree with you that no matter what the US does there will be criticism.

I also think that democracy cannot be imposed and that no matter how much people complain about a current regime, they are not going to be happy about a foreign occupying force either.

I have no way of knowing whether the recent election in Iran was free and fair (as I don't know about the election in our country last November), but the Iranians chose to elect a hard-liner who will curtail what few freedoms they do have (the temptation to draw more comparisons is almost overwhelming, but I shall resist it).

Bottom line: if they want to be a free society, they should be willing to take risks. I know that is easy for me to say because I have never had to fight for my freedom, but I don't want any more American kids dying in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Happy Canada day!

Pick up this book by Geraldine Brooks she is a journalist who spend many years reporting in the middle east along with Christiane Amanpour. I am reading it now: The 9 Parts of Desire, the hidden truth of islamic women. It's very interesting.
It makes a good discussion and I have a better understanding of those women and those countries.
I think the people who want change are split. most of them don't want change. I especially think that you can not impose western tradions or a ways of life in those countries since these people are truly devoted to islam and the muslim religion. Both of which are peaceful religions. This book talks about the koran and muhammed who has a complete different approach to muslim women then the people now.
All the genetal mutilation and extremeism happens mostly in the smaller villages of africa.
THere are examples of american women who converted to Islam and now live happily in Iran just as there is a bad example of that. It's really cool. I picked it up cause I am tired of light reads like Sex and the City and since it's a topic of discussion today then I thought it would be a good idea to inform myself.