The Shiite Political Islam

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Iran is “Dangerous” Even to Itself. 

We should not allow any Iranian banner to be raised in our countries. El-Musawi says.

The hard-line path in Iran found its golden lantern in the Shiite heritage that is decorated with the ornaments of the family of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). The hardliners aim to secure the minds of Shiite and Sunni youth in both the Arab and Islamic worlds. This happens particularly in the Arab world when it is witnessing an identity crisis and the loss of a solid cultural map.

The Arab and Islamic people are bewildered in the shadow of cultural defeat and the pile-up of political sufferings saturated with images of the leader as hero and the leader as a self-imposed autocrat.

The cultural defeat of any society leads it to search for mythology, delusion and superstition, even if it was the myth of Antara Ben Shadad. Thus we find Iran distributing its sorrow on Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq for its national interests. Iran finds warm welcome to its tears of sorrow. There are some people who woke up from the Iranian coma in southern Iraq. The evidence is the results of the latest governorate elections in Iraq.

We place our bets on the moderate path of Khatemi in Iran.  Iran sneaked upon the Moroccan youth based on the Fatimid culture during their rule in this region where the love of the family of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) is deeply rooted in the culture.  Some Moroccans also suffer a state of emptiness, taken by the Iranian rhetoric. The reason behind that is the loss of direction on the part of religious sects and the confusion between the political and the sectarian. This aspect could even be lost on a renowned thinker like Idriss Hani. The love of the family of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) shines in every heart but fear comes from politicizing things.

The Moroccan youth, in particular those fearing modernization, are looking for an alternative and in the Iranian literature smuggled to minorities they find a path to fulfill that emptiness. What happened in Lebanon and the flaming blaze there is enough to mix the cards and to cause a loss of direction in societies that were originally based on national sympathy and political romanticism.

Iran is a Muslim neighbour and a powerful regional state in the region but the revolutionary instinct of Iran is posing a menace to Iran itself and the whole area.

The infiltration of revolutionism into the Huthists, the Sadrists, Gaza and Lebanon indicates fears surrounding modernization and the civilian state because ideologist states fall short of development and innovation. We must choose between the leadership authority and the modernization authority, between a strong religious leader and a solid democracy. We can not believe in modernization and at the same time envelope the ballot box with religious rites. Iran is advancing its national interests and it has a right to do so, but it is pragmatic when it is trying to benefit from the doctrine of love for the family of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in order to elicit Islamic sympathy. The problem is mixing between the political and the religious, thus I call for the separation between religion and politics because religion is a pure existence that we should not be allowed to enter into the political bazaar.

Consider carefully Yemen and the crisis of Morocco and Bahrain with Iran. Consider Yemeni President's declarations about Iran and Iraqi declarations about Iran's intervention in this country.

Iranian expansion was an idea in the background and now Iran aims to geographically expand. This is our problem as Bahrainis with Iran when we found a revered Shaikh like Nateq Nouri, who is at bow's length from being elected as Iran's coming president versus Khatami, declaring that Bahrain is the 14 governorate of Iran.

There is a big difference between religious and political Shiism. Religious Shiism is limited to the mosque away from politics and this is what had been preached by the Family of the Prophet since they called for dealing with religious matters and affairs of the country and society, patriotically and wisely, disregarding  politics when it  exploits religion.

This aspect is viewed on the basis of Alawi and non-Alawi Shiism. Doctrines do not intervene in politics except through the intermediation of man. Politicians introduce religion into a party to turn it into partisan camps involved with religion in order to nurture their own interests. When religion enters the party's narrow jail, it turns into a supermarket. That's why we refuse to push the tolerant religion into lobbies of politics. For instance, there is no relationship between Islam and terrorist acts on 11 September. We should separate the Family of the prophet's thought from political thought exercised by Iran. There are historical omissions and History is misrepresented in order to achieve political benefits.

Iranian endeavours to expand in the region represent a national trend not a religious one. As evidence of this, Iran occupied three islands of the UAE and prominent Iranian figures rushed madly towards considering Bahrain a part of Iran, including Hussain Shariati and  Daryoush to Nateq Nouri. Is this a religious expansion? Is this the Islamic unity? Where are sovereignty of countries and mutual cooperation?

We must immunize ourselves, our countries and our people, and deal with Iran as one of the important and respected Islamic States in the region, but at the same time we must not allow her to intervene in our national affairs or to mix our national cards with our religious ones.

We must not allow the hoisting of a picture of any Iranian figure under any pretext, because such an act is considered an encroachment on the sovereignty of the State, and a gap through which extremists might infiltrate to our children.

As patriotic and reasonable Shiites - and what a great number we are – we support our fatherlands and the sovereignty, history, present and future of our countries, therefore we must warn our nation and the Arab and Muslim youth against any interference or religious exploitation that might creep into them. We are capable of finding a kind of modern thinking which is different from the type of thinking that is locked inside the prison cells of ideology, for the benefit of our countries, and our tolerant religion, and the interests of our Governments.

Diya El-Musawi - Member of the Shura Council of Bahrain

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Iran Resists Israel and Does Not Interfere in Arab Affairs

general of the Forum For Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought – Shiite Muslim

The talk about Shiite infiltration is meant to scare Muslims and to bring division among them, Taskhiri says.

Difference is a natural phenomenon that befits the human instinct and it is the reason behind cultural diversity and building human civilizations, without which no society can seek overall development.

Negative disagreement leads to ripping the nation apart, wasting its energy and leading it to slavery, confinement and loss of sovereignty. The current crisis was not born today but has deep historical, religious and polemicist roots. And what arises today goes back to political and religious reasons. People who have a minimum of historical knowledge know that governments after the Four Khalifs used these natural differences to achieve their goals whether they were Sunni or Shiite.

People who have the least knowledge about the history of Islam discover the most magnificent relations between leaders of Islamic sects, contrary to what we see between their followers today. Leaders of the different sects endured harm and torture from the rulers, because of their loyalty and love for the Prophet Muhammed's Family.  So the crisis is mainly political and not religious. Religious affairs are subject to discussions in scientific academies and not in public media.

All the Muslims love Prophet Muhammed's Family and no special sect has the right to monopolize that love and accuse the others of behaving otherwise. We might see some people using the slogan of loving Prophet Muhammed's Family to attack another sect of Muslims and try to disseminate their ideas and projects. But for Iran, whose majority population is Shi'ite divided into 12 sects, it is natural that its people follow the same path of Prophet Muhammad's Family. That does not mean seeing the others as enemies or disrespecting them. Past historical events, regardless of their reasons and circumstances, should not be blamed on a group of people and a nation that does not accept responsibility for that history.  We must also refer to a pivotal point which is that Islamic thinking does not call for imposing an idea or a belief by force and manipulation. All these means are a clear show of compulsion (No compulsion in religion). But every human being has the right to his own beliefs, whether Sunni or Shiite, because at the end he is a Muslim. Whoever follows a sect whether Sunni or Shiite against his beliefs, contradicts his mind, heart and soul. To say that Shiite beliefs are gradually spreading across the Sunni world is the same as saying that Sunni beliefs are spreading across the Shiite world.

I believe that both claims are meant to scare and incite Muslims and no proof has been forwarded to support them.

We should not forget that the colonizers did not wish well for our region. It is evident that planting Israel inside the region, territorial disputes, civil wars and wars between nations formed the basis for extremist and terrorist movements.  If the aim was the geographic expansion of Iran we can find no witnesses to that, and if the aim was to support resistance movements against the Zionist state we take pride in that. If the aim was to incite the people against their governments and to interfere in Arab affairs, there is no evidence to support that, in spite of contrary allegations. If Iran was defending the rights of Arab people on the international arena this is its natural right because our religious and cultural partnership imply that. Arab and Iranian interests can not be separated because what hurts Arabs hurts us and vice versa. Some people may try to argue otherwise due to ignorance. Regrettably, U.S. interests in the region dictate the presence of American troops by the thousands in the region in addition to American military bases in Islamic states.

That forces us to not discuss our Islamic affairs whether Arab or Persian.

I believe that influential Islamic leaders and states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran should co-operate together wisely to maintain the well being of the Islamic nation and to close all doors leading to instability. Everybody knows the negative effect of politics on fueling devastating differences. The positive side of politics can prevail and the nation can join forces together and reach unanimous agreement to succeed in the fields of development and modern technology. Thus it prepares for the emergence of a new Islamic civilization through its own means not according to imported Western means.

Mohammad Mehdi El-Taskhiri - Professor at a number of Iranian universities and advisor of the secretary general of the Forum For Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought – Shiite Muslim

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Iran Succeeds in the Policy of Independence

Grady says Iran refuses to play the game of sectarian conflict in the region.

When conflicts plague regions of this world, they don’t reflect one reason that made them arise, but their admittance was one reason of their occurrence.  Thus many conflicts that happened in history and which were labelled religious conflicts actually should not be classified narrow- mindedly. The same principle could be applied to what is happening today in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

When we talk about a conflict there should be at least two sides. So pointing out the Shiites as the problem is not scientifically sound let alone being biased. There are several faces to the crisis including the sectarian tendencies in general, using international politics to feed the interests of a single group and the evolving rigidity in ethnic minds. Ethnic minds tend to have a stereotypical view of another different sect, to the effect that renouncing God and adopting a pagan creed is better than following a different sect.

These beliefs do not concern Shiites or Sunnis but they run deep in tribal beliefs that follow political manipulation of the elites who manipulate the masses. Is Iran expanding its base of national or religious interests? This is a question that asserts an assumption rather than starts a research assumption. The question arises between two possibilities to explain the root of the Iranian influence in the region. The first possibility is the Iranian national interests, and the second possibility is the Iranian religious interests which run contrary to objective possibilities. I personally believe that any country in the world which practices politics would consider their national interests. But the political ideology of Iran does not separate between the national and the religious interests. The cultural identity of Iran goes along with its deep religious beliefs. But to tell the truth, the success of Iranian choices in the region goes back to some additional reasons such as:

First: Iran's emergence as a challenge to the existence of Israel at the same time when the Arab world is lenient with Israel in the region, adding to the popular support that Iran enjoys in the area.

Second: Iran's success in establishing an independent policy by securing scientific and economic self-sufficiency outside Western dominance. Iran sometimes maneuvers with the West as a main player.

Third: Iran's refusal to play the game of sectarian  conflicts in the region and its adherence to tackling vital and pivotal issues and  bridging the gulf between groups regardless of their religious, ethnic and intellectual views. So whoever wants to search for the secret of the Iranian influence in the area should search from the start for things that people in the area thrive for.

I would like here to assert the love held by every Muslim, whether male or female to Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh) and his family. No followers of any sect can argue on this issue with any other Islamic sect. If the love to Muhammed (Pbuh) and his family is the secret behind the spiritual unity among all Muslims, it should be an end that all Arab and Muslim leaders and kings seek. So we must be aware that love to the Family of Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh) should be broader than any sectarianism. We should also be aware that demonstrating the values and rules of any sect is a right that both Sunnis and Shiites should endorse and be proud of.

Shafiq Grady - Director of the Institute for Islamic Studies and Sapiential  Knowledge in Beirut – Shiite

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Iran forges an alliance with U.S. to share "the Arab cake"

The Iranian project is more dangerous to us than the Israeli one, Al-Kebisi says

Shiism is a belief founded on a certain religious basis that contradicts the mainstream of the Sunni people. At its very root this belief seeks to expand and spread on the expense of other beliefs, because its exponents believe that the others are wrong and misguided, and among the misguided are the Sunni followers.  Shiites believe that the Sunni followers based their sect on the wrong basis, and for that reason they seek to spread true Islam by exporting revolutionary trends. Based on this thesis, the dream of Shiite expansion was connected to another dream which is the national dream of re-establishing the old Persian empire. Thus, some kind of marriage between the Shiite and Persian dreams emerged. Persian nationalists used religious Shiite slogans to promote Persian nationalism, and Shiite conservatives were using national principles to propagate the Shiite belief. So in reality we can not distinguish between the expansion of Shiite belief and Persian imperial expansion.

Facing these plans of expansion that develop on Arab expense, we should have a double-sided view to counter that expansion in both its national and sectarian aspects. We believe that the path of the Sunni people is the right course. Targeting the Sunni people became no secret in Arab countries like Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain. So all religious clerics should be careful towards this forthcoming menace. It is true that the Zionist threat and that of westernization still hold, but the Shiite threat is a special one because it targets our identity and belief. It could also penetrate groups and some Arab clans. Despite their expansion and strength, Jewish movements could not convert a Muslim to their belief. But the Shiite plan is capable of penetrating and changing the Islamic identity. This is not a side issue but I believe that it is a strategic one that should be handled carefully with no neglect.

It is to be regretted that we see Arab nationalists form an alliance with Iran and connive at its expansion plans, given that Iran occupies more parts of the Arab world than Israel does. Iran occupies Arabstan, located in Ahwaz and the three Arab gulf islands, and it is strange that some people who promote Arab nationalism do not move a muscle.

There is a clear agreement between the Iranian and American plans for the region. The Americans handed Iraq over to the Iranians. No Arab leader could visit Baghdad, but Iranian President Ahmadi Nejad did, who came under American protection and could enter the Green Zone. So it is clear now that there is an alliance between the Iranian and American plans to share the Arab cake.

Ayash El-Kebisi - Islamic researcher (Iraqi) - Sunni

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Shiism and politicization

Expanding the base of national reform and openness to critical review.

The Arab side contributes to inflaming sectarian conflict, El-Habayl says

The issue of severe sectarian intolerance in the Arab region did not jump to the fore with the emergence of Shiites in the Arab capitals in general of the Gulf region in particular.

The issue of severe sectarian intolerance in the Arab region did not jump to the fore with the emergence of Shiites in the Arab capitals in general or the Gulf region in particular. This issue can be long traced back in history. In its demographic structure, sectarian intolerance did not come from abroad. The intellectual crisis inherent in the relationship between Shiism and Sunnism is a long-standing issue. However, it oscillates between the school of Shiite moderateness which deviates from the mainstream of defaming the first generation of the Islamic Mission, and the school of fanaticism and extremism with its retaliating discourse against the opposing school.

This tension had not been existent at such level before the Iranian Revolution since the main problematic was that the political system of the Iranian revolution that followed the reign of Shah in 1979 called for an extremist thought supported by the rule of Shah Ismail Al-Safawy in 1514. That was during his conflict with the Ottoman empire in which he inflamed the culture of retaliation on grounds of doctrines that reinforce traditions criticized by the moderate tide of Shiites which limited the rationale of deviation and confrontation with the Sunnis to what they considered the great injustice committed by the three righteous Caliphs. And thus the issue of confrontation was viewed as a necessity alongside the succession of such Sunni existence.

Mass media of Iran did not highlight such declaration upon the outbreak of the revolution but it restricted itself to the program of religious leaders and institutions that re-export the Iranian Revolution. They thought that bringing such an issue to the spotlight is an important bridge to penetrate the followers of the sect in many countries and exploit them so as to become ultimately loyal to the doctrine that retaliation upon perpetrators of the great injustice had historic evidence and validity and attributing the condition of those suffering from grievances, injustices and marginalization in their original countries to this issue.

The Islamic Republic of Iran maintained such discourse under the program of structural formation of its loyal movements to continue a friendly relationship with the Sunni world and gain support of many Sunni thinkers on the basis that Iran did not sustain a sectarian approach but a US dominance-resistant approach benefiting from the preoccupation of the Arab official system as a whole with the US program and the political dominance of such program over the Arabs decision and their formal stance in addition to Washington's continuous alliance with Israel and its battle against the Arab world.

It is surprising that one of the early preachers against this sectarian preoccupation of the revolution with the ideologically violent historical dilemma was professor Aly Sharitie, one of the revolution's thinkers who early warned against what he described as Safawy Shiitization that would threaten concepts of Islamic revolution in Iran and its civilized unionistic project.  All what we mentioned emphasized the interference and dominant politicization of the Shiite discourse whether it is a theological discourse  or one which tries to re-export the Shiite cause in general.

However, this intolerance was escalated by transferring such culture into a work plan and forming groups belonging to the theological exportation frameworks and utilizing the Injustice discourse on the international level, which ultimately culminated in the fall of Iraq.

Politicization did not end at this because the sectarian party continued its dominance over the political process by regaining extremist concepts on the issues of disagreement with the first Sadr and inflaming feelings of retaliation for the Great Injustice. Thus many media channels were introduced into Iraq after invasion with allegations of loyalty to the Family of the Prophet which is a basic doctrine adopted also by the Sunnis. However, this mobilization spontaneously turned the loving tone in the new discourse into hostility against Caliphs and the other companions, which deepened the national and social crack. No doubt, Iran is greatly accountable for such result.

In all circumstances, this accountability of Iran for such dilemma did not free the Arab official side from blame, which participated in this sectarian inflammation in counter sectarian terms to contain an internal dilemma or justify its collaboration with USA its in strategic projects.

It is extremely important to stress that objective classification of such state does not justify transgression against the dignity of persons and moral status of the followers of the sect or depriving them of their national rights or disrespect of their diversity within the national state even if the right of Islamic legislation to remain in the hands of the Sunni School on the basis that they naturally belong to the country and constitute the majority of the people.

Some of the ways to cope with this increasing sectarian intolerance arising from the continuous Iranian pressures to politicize the sectarian status quo include making endeavours to expand the base of national reform regarding core issues and enhance respect for individuals and their political rights within the framework of a fair constitutional system for all citizens. This matter was taken into consideration earlier by the Islamic constitutional jurisprudence since it considers justice as the cornerstone of the relationship between the state and citizenship.

Another course of action to be taken into consideration is the openness of the national and official cultural arena to calls of review and corrective actions adopted by Shiite players and thinkers to reinforce values of communication and common thinking. This trend suffers from severe choking due to the Iranian influence rejecting views of Shiite moderateness.

Mihanna El-Habayl - Political analyst (Saudi) - Sunni


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