Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Universalism of the Ahamdinejad’s Government

Serge Barseghian wrote a beautiful anecdote in his article on the Universalism of the Ahamdinejad’s Government.

Once upon a time, there was a king in a nearby country who was very dictatorial and would do whatever he pleased. Luckily, the people in his kingdom were very meek and peace-loving subjects and never protested and would obey their monarch's most unreasonable demands ...

One day, he become very frustrated by all this obedience and wished for some protests or disagreements. He made a new arbitrary rule, that those who want to enter the city should pay a certain amount and then receive a sharp slap on the neck, after which they can enter. The monarch hoped that this utter unreasonableness would stir some anger and protest. This rule was announced and the next day people lined up behind the city gate; they all paid what they were supposed to and extended their necks and received the harsh slap and got their pass and entered.

Days passed and, like everything else, it became a routine. There was no protest. The king was really upset. It was so boring not having any disturbances and or complaints. Finally, he ordered his grand vizier to investigate the matter personally. The vizier went to the gate and saw with his own eyes how orderly the people were, almost as if they were delighted with the new ordinance. He gave the news to the king and the king, now quite furious, said it was impossible that not even a single person should not protest. He urged the vizier to look more carefully and find at least one.

The next day, the vizier went to the gate and announced “Hey people, is there any one among you who is unhappy about this new law?” No one answered. He repeated and repeated and finally, an old man raised his hand and said, “I'd like to protest.” The vizier became very happy and brought him before the king.

The king was glad to be relieved of his boredom, although he was angry that someone dared protested against his rule. He asked him what his complaint was. The old man, a bit frightened and nervous, said: “Your majesty, I do have a complaint. I just wanted to tell you that there are too few guards to slap the people and so we have to stay in line for a long time to receive the slap. I wanted to suggest that you increase the number of guards.”

Barseghian, a member of a non-Muslim minority himself, I believe, leaves out Amadinejad's proclamation of his affinity with the Twelfth Imam. However, he argues, still daringly, about Ahmadinejad’s mission that he has taken upon himself, or which had been invested in him by the Hidden Imam, i.e., the management of the world. He is wondering to what extend this world’s managements will continue, and what price Iranians will have to pay for this lunacy.

But there are other critics who are in a position to protest against Ahmadinejad's premature end of the Occultation and his “world’s management” mission. Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, for one, has stated that the reappearance of the Imam, the end of Occultation, is the domain of the high rank clerics and not a layman such as Ahmadinejad.

Ayatollah Karoubi jokingly objected that attributing this lousy management, with this high inflation, to the Occult Imam would give the people the wrong idea, as if saying all these harsh conditions were his fault, and thus damage the people's faith.

Some laymen have indulged in discussing the issue from the point of view of how the “enemy” will take advantage of such talk and would produce a “false” imam as had happened in the past. (I assume they are referring to Babism and Baha’ism.)

The most diplomatic one came from Abtahi’s blog. A wealthy merchant is robbed on a road. All of his belongings in a box are taken from him. After a while, the thief returns his box untouched. Surprised, the merchant asks the thief for an explanation. The thief points to the prayer attached to the box for its protection and says, “I noticed it when I left you.” “So?” asks the merchant, still puzzled. “I’m a thief of money and valuable goods, I’m not a robber of faith. I read the prayer on your box which was supposed to protect it against evil. If I rob it, I’m robbing your faith and trust, and that I will not do.”

Well, I don’t think we need any further conclusion than asking “Mr. President, what are you up to?”

Indeed, Mr. President has a very good explanation. He said, “If the Imam is coming someday, who said that it will not be in the next months or years.” Whatever we say about Ahmadinejad, I should admit this was not a bad explanation at all. Truly, faith is faith. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of the Imam, imagining him, talking to him, sensing his presence, and even striking up a friendship with him. There is nothing wrong with filling one’s mind and heart with the love and trust of divinity and seeking guidance and protection from him. There is nothing wrong with all this then, and there should not be anything wrong with it now either. This is the meaning of faith, and faith is part of any religion. No one can take it away from people and our beloved president, like anybody else, has a full right to his faith.

However, the two anecdotes above show that there is a limit and that the President has gone way beyond it.

But who is really to blame? Do we blame the children for their excess mischievousness when they take over their parents' and neighbors' lives? Or do we blame the parents who have not drawn a line to show them their limit. Ahmadinejad is the product of a “bad parents” who did not draw a clear line for him to show him his boundaries. He is a rowdy, raucous child who does not know his limits while, it seems, he entertains many with his hijinx. Sounds familiar? I think we all have come at least once to know a child like him, and we have not blamed the child for it.

Objecting to the president’s un-presidential speeches and behavior because it “gives a tool to the enemy” or by reducing it to a joke is futile, since the former is abused so much by the government itself and so has turned into a joke already, and the latter? Do we need Mehdi Karoubi while we have Ebrahim Nabavi and Ebrahim Raha? We have quite a good number of satirists to bring a smile to our faces; what we do not have are politicians interested in solving the country's problems and giving the people peace of mind.

However Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani’s statement is worth pondering: “Only high-ranking clerics can talk about the end of the Occultation.” As far as I know, he is one of the rare clerics who is willing to accept responsibility, at least partially. Yes, Mr. Kani, we are listening, tell us, educate us. We would like to know a few things:

Is He coming at all?

If He is coming, is He coming physically, like a person, or He comes spiritually, through some signs and some other representations?

What will happen after He comes?

Is it going to be the end of the world after His appearance? Could it be in the month of June or July?

Would everything vanish after His appearance? Or does everything resume at a perfect life?

Does His reappearance effect only Iran and few other Shiites lands, such as part of Afghanistan, 60% of Iraq, and 25% of Lebanon, or the whole world?

Please Mr. Ayatollah, if you know something, say something! Who is supposed to explain this to the people? Ahmadinejad is Ahmadinejad. He is doing what he is doing. He is an unruly child, but where are the parents and where is his room that he should be sent to? Who should send him to the corner? (Please do not tell us the Parliament, whose deputies were all confirmed by the Hidden Imam!) In the absence of such disciplinarian parents, our child-president, with his rowdiness, entertains millions of Iranians, and this in addition to the management of the world that might have been part of his mission!

The problem is that none of the ayatollahs really want to set limits for Ahmadinejad. So far, we do not have a clear, or even semi-clear, vision of the nature of the Hidden Imam. Those millions who go for pilgrimage to Jamkaran to visit the Imam’s wells in which he is hidden (and it seems that there are now two wells there), what would they do if they found out that there has never been any Imam in either of them? What would happen if the children and the grandchildren of the cleric who was the proprietor of that property, who have played, run, bicycled, fought, and pull each others hair right in that property, would testify that they had never visited any well with or without the Imam there?

I’m afraid Ayatollah Kani’s declaration would not withstand even a simpleton such as Ahmadinejad. For a change I agree with the president; why shouldn't the Hidden Imam come tomorrow?

Those who have the concession on the issue should at least use the right which is given to them and speak up. What are they waiting for? The Guardian Council is to appoint them or the Supreme Leader? Talk, Mr. Ayatollah, talk and talk soon, before Shariatmadari of Keyhan pulls a few pages of Imam Khomeini’s Sahifeh and declares that only Basijis have the right to declare the end of Occultation. You know, Mr. Ayatollah, “These are strange times, my dear!”


barmakid said...

What are you talking about? And might I say: What the hell does Ayatollah Mahdavi think he's talking about? I read most of your posts, and this one is particularly ridiculous - although the first anecdote was enjoyable.

Who cares about the hidden Imam!! People have real problems in Iran and I personally get disgusted when we engage in these ideological battles when our people need practical solutions to practical problems.

Plus, can any educated person really believe in this hidden Imam nonsense?

I mean, do Iranians not know that we were forcefully converted by the Safavids to this shirk religion we call shiism? Lets get real and stop perpetuating a history that was imposed on us 500 years ago.


Mina said...

Brother Barmakid,
I'm glad you liked the anecdote.
As for the rest of your comments, I am not engaging the government in ideological battles. I think it's a matter of some concern that our country has a president who is championing this kind of lunacy. I mean, doesn't it scare you that Bush believes he takes his orders from the Creator?
I think we're saying the same thing: "Our people need practical solutions to practical problems," and it is just for this reason that we have to clear out this nonsense.
I am not a Muslim, much less a Shiite. I am therefore not going to engage in "ideological battles" with Shiism. But it might interest you that the House of Barmak was Shiite (Phillip Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 296) or in league with the Shiites (Hugh Kennedy, When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World, p. 74).

barmakid said...

Haha, I actually have both of those books. I am quite familiar with the Barmakids. I thought they had an interesting history so I decided to adopt their name for blogging purposes.

Aside from that though, I'm glad to hear you agree. But may I ask you why you have a link to Mujtahid Kadivar's website? .