I am an American citizen. As such I love my country. If another country were to unjustly attack the US the way the US attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, I would be in the front lines defending my country and will willingly give my life in that effort. To me that is part of my responsibility as a citizen of the US. But if my government wants to wage an unjust war against other countries like it has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will never support it. I will never support the next planned war against Iran. In fact I will work strongly against it. I love my country but G'd and righteous principles take a higher position for me. I won’t support my country in anything that goes against G'd and righteousness.
The plans that were in place during the Bush administration to invade Iran are in full force under the Obama administration. There has been several articles in major newspapers and magazines, along with television and radio news, demonizing Iran and setting that country up as the next target. In fact, you will see an increase in the demonizing as time passes. Recently, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called Iran a country ruled by thugs. The IAEA, after not finding any evidence of Iran building a nuclear weapon for many years, is now claiming Iran is doing so. This change in the IAEA's position coincided nicely with the recent appointment of a new head of the IAEA just weeks ago.
But, before we believe these claims and demonizations, here are 12 questions about Iran that were asked in an online forum by an Iranian expat who opposes the current Iranian government. The questions address historic, religious and political aspects about Iran that we all should be aware of and are followed by the answers I gave.
1. Do you believe that the great Iranian people willingly accepted Islam or that this was a consequence of losing the war to Arabs roughly 1300 years ago? I have come to terms with this knowing that since then Iranians have steered much of the achievements of the Islamic era and that they helped nurture another doctrine within Islam: Shiism.
First, I will address the myth about Islam being spread by the sword and then I will be specific about Iran.
This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades, is totally baseless. First of all, the Qur'an clearly states "Let there be no compulsion in religion". Muslims are strictly forbidden by the Qur'an and the example of our Prophet (saaw) to force our religion on others.
I could cite many credible Western historians and thinkers like Arnold Tonybee, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw and even Eastern thinkers like Mahatma Ghandi who have done in-depth study about the spread of Islam in history, and as a result made strong, conclusive statements dispelling the myth. But instead I will show what historian De Lacy O'Leary has to say on the subject.
“History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated” (Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923 p. 8).
Historian De Lacy O'Leary not only describes the spread of Islam by the sword as a myth but a fantastically absurd one. Coming from this highly respected historian, this alone should cast doubt about the propaganda of Islam being spread by the sword.
Now, specifically about the spread of Islam in Iran: In 637 CE, Arab forces occupied the capital of Ctesiphon (Mada’in) of the pre-Islamic Persian empire known as the Sassanid empire. This was a result of the Arabs winning a major battle against the Persians at Qadisiyah, a village south of Baghdad on the Euphrates river, where the Persian leader was killed. The Persians, who outnumbered the Arabs six to one, were decisively beaten. The Muslim warriors were regulated by religious law that strictly prohibited rape and the killing of women, children, religious leaders, or anyone who had not actually engaged in warfare. By 650 CE, Muslim armies had reached the Amu Darya (Oxus River) and had conquered all the Sassanid domains, although some were more strongly held than others. Shortly thereafter, Arab expansion and conquest virtually ceased. This conquest was aided by the material and social bankruptcy of the Sassanids; the native populations actually cooperated with the conquering power.
Although becoming the conquerors of Persia, the Muslims offered relative religious tolerance and fair treatment to populations that accepted Islamic rule without resistance. Conversion to Islam, which offered certain advantages, was fairly rapid among the urban population but slower among the peasantry in the rural areas. The majority of Persians did not become Muslim until the ninth century. The Persians were so enthusiastic about Islam that they became the leading torch bearers of the religion and experienced a 400 year Golden Age after embracing it.
Compare this to the Soviet Union which ruled many states under communism. As soon as the Soviets abandoned communist rule, the people went back identifying with their religious beliefs prior to communism. Chechnya and other places are examples. But the Persians wholeheartedly embraced Islam and led the Muslim world even adopting the Arabic alphabet over theirs. While free from Arab rule, they willingly chose and accepted Islam.
Regarding the nostalgia of pre-Islamic Persia, which is hinted by the way you asked the question, it was put there by British and Russian colonialists who wanted to destroy unity in the Muslim world. They went to every Muslim nation and told them...no, you are not "Muslims" you are Iranians, Turks, Jordanians, Syrians, Iraqis, Saudis, etc. No longer were Muslims united by faith that would go across national boundaries. There was once a time when a Persian could go from Morocco to China without a passport -- because it was all under the dominion of the Muslim Empire. That has changed drastically. The Muslim world is fractured now with nationalistic identities taking precedence over the oneness in identities they once had as a matter of faith.
2. Do you believe Shiism is a legitimate Islamic doctrine or that the beliefs and practices of the Shiites (e.g., near deification of imams, etc) constitutes heresy as far as the rest of the Moslems are concerned?
My friend, I leave those matters for G'd to decide. When I see a Shia or Sunni behaving as the Qur'an says a MUSLIM should behave then in my eyes they are Muslims. What may surprise you too is that when I see Christians, Jews, or ANY human being striving to submit their will to do G'd’s Will, in my book their actions fit the description of Muslims. Not a Muslim gang or club BUT Muslim in content. Although many Sunni Muslims claim that Shias are a heresy, I don’t go along with them. To me, regardless of whether a person calls themselves Sunni or Shia, if they disobey Islamic teachings then their actions could never be seen as being Muslim. To me contents NOT labels are more important.
3. Do you believe that Moslems should lend unconditional support to other Moslems regardless of who the Moslem flag-bearers are? That is, is anyone claiming to be a Moslem immediately worthy of unconditional support?
Definitely not!!! I will be going against Islam if I believe that. The Qur'an specifically tells Muslims to “ascertain the truth before you judge” (49:6) and “stand out firmly for justice, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor…” (4:135). In both statements G'd puts truth and justice above the “Muslim club” and even higher than parents and family.
4. Do you believe in the separation of church and state?
When you have religious oppression as was experienced in Europe, the best solution is to separate church and state. It was not Islam that caused people to flee religious persecution as Christianity did in Europe, causing Europeans to find and establish religious freedom in a new land. Then due to the horrible, inhumane experience with Christian rule, the country formed in the new world said never again. Never again would we allow the ignorance and cruelties of a religiously ruled government to be over our nation. We insist and we legislate that there will always be a separation of church and state! This was religious Christian men who said that and came up with the Constitution making that law.
But in Islam, we never had that experience. You would never hear or see Muslims clamoring for separation of church and state. Even after bombardment of western culture and values, you will always find Muslims calling for a state governed by Shariah laws. Why? Because Shariah surpasses anything that a secular state can provide, in terms of humanity, growth, education, justice, fair dealings, etc. Unlike tyrannical Christian rule that suppressed rational and scientific growth, in Islam those things were encouraged and the most erudite in the Muslim world were the most religious. Much of what the Western world defines as democratic and progressive is already contained within Shariah. The following article goes into great details about that: Dispelling Myths About Sharia Law In Al-Islam Part 1
5. Do you believe that rule by clergy (Velayat e faqih) is a good form of government?
I believe that rule by Shariah is a good form of government. Whether or not the Velayat e faqih in Iran is following the Shariah 100% is another question. But whether they are or are not, I don’t think that demonizing them to justify an attack on Iran is warranted. Whatever they are, they are no where near as bad as most governments in the world. The citizens of Iran are far better off than those of neighboring states such as Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, etc where the US is fostering military dictatorships and puppet rule.
6. Do you believe in democracy as a legitimate tool of governance?
The following article details my position about that:
Al-Islam, World Conquest And Democracy!
7. Do you believe in a group of unelected clergy residing over and have the power of veto over the democratically elected members of parliament?
Well we had an unelected group of people override the will of the majority in the democratic US in the year 2000. Asking the question as you did leaves off the understanding of there being a balance of power in a democratic form of government. In the US we have the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive branches of government with each having their role and functions defined. The Legislative and Executive branches are elected but the Judiciary branch is NOT elected but appointed. But in the year 2000, the unelected Judiciary branch made George Bush president, although the popular vote of the people showed that the majority in this democracy wanted Al Gore.
In regards to the Iranian form of government, I want to “ascertain the truth” before I judge. I wouldn't want to give a knee jerk answer to your question simply as a result of how it is phrased.
8. Do you believe that the government of Iran is legitimate (mandate coming from the masses) as it stands today?
Yes I do, based on what the majority of Iranians have shared with me. I was even heavily involved with Iranians when Khomeini was brought into power and the Iranian Constitution was born. It is only a fringe minority, who left their noble Iranian culture, and is more fascinated by western culture and values who don’t.
9. Do you believe that despite the shortcomings of the Iranian government (whom you admit are not perfect), Iranians should support them unconditionally even to their own detriment?
As I mentioned in my earlier post, no one and nothing should be supported unconditionally. Any valid government should be able to accept healthy criticism that will foster its’ growth. I don’t view the Iranian government as working towards the people’s detriment, BUT I do view the plans for war against Iran by the US and Israel as dangerously detrimental. It is a big danger looming over the Iranians and I believe any Iranian who ignores that and spends most of their time pointing to their perceived imperfections in the Iranian government is a fake, and maybe part of the onslaught against Iran by their enemies. There is a time to air dirty laundry and there is a time when a life threatening danger is looming where you have to address the greater danger. What would you think about a husband who focuses his time yelling at his wife for not keeping the bedroom clean, while at the same time seeing men outside his window with torches ready to burn his house down and yet not saying or doing anything about that?
10. If you believe that the answer to 9 is yes, then why are you, as an American citizen not supporting your government unconditionally?
Well you have my answer above but I want to mention this for the record. I am an American citizen. As such I love my country. If another country were to unjustly attack the US the way the US attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, I would be in the front lines defending my country and will willingly give my life in that effort. To me that is part of my responsibility as a citizen of the US. But if my government wants to wage an unjust war against other countries like it has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will never support it. I will never support the next planned war against Iran. In fact I will work strongly against it. I love my country but G'd and righteous principles take a higher position for me. I won’t support my country in anything that goes against G'd and righteousness.
11. Do you think that in every event in the world, 'Jews' are somehow involved?
NO! But I know that in a large number of world events Jews are involved. This is partly as a result of their getting caught red handed, exposures, confessions, “cui bono” and other evidences.
12. Do you believe that the history of the world is one in which the 'Jakobites' are behind every evil known to mankind and it wasn't until the advent of Islam that they are being contained?
NO! Boy you love absolutism don’t you? There is much evil being done in the world and in past history due to weaknesses that can be found in all human beings. Those evils can be found in all races, sexes, nationalities, etc. But I believe that there have been great evils perpetuated by a small sect of Jews, Jahcubites, in their quest for world rule or world domination. Not all Jews, mind you, because there have been many noble and courageous Jews who fought against their evil brethren throughout history and paid with their lives for doing so.
The fight against the Jahcubites did not start with Islam. It has been a fight that has been going on for thousands of years spearheaded by Prophets of G'd and righteous men all over the world. Their teachings were like well crafted weapons, revealed by G'd, to thwart the Jahcubites plan. Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Muhammad and other Prophets (peace be upon them) were all soldiers in the army of G'd working against this evil. That is why religious scripture was deliberately corrupted and much of the religious world disparaged and reduced to blind rituals, rules, senseless practices and ignorance. The original elevation of the mind and soul as intended by G'd has been lost to much of the religions in the world. Even the Islamic world has become a victim of this, although not fully controlled as other religions. The proper growth of the soul that is missed by many religions is beautifully described by the following words from the Qur'an:
I hope that answers your questions.
Surah 91. The Sun
By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour;
By the Moon as she follows him;
By the Day as it shows up (the Sun's) glory;
By the Night as it conceals it;
By the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure;
By the Earth and its (wide) expanse:
By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-
Truly he succeeds that purifies it,
And he fails that corrupts it!