Educating Conservatives About Modern ‘Shi’ite Quietists’
The conservative take on Iranian theology and motives is not exactly correct.
March 14, 2014 - 12:00 am
Koran 5:64 is an overt, ancient Koranic warning of “Jewish conspiracism.” Tabatabai, adding a deliberate and transparent pejorative reference to the Jews of modern Israel, and their alleged promulgation of “ethnic supremacism,” glosses this verse as follows:
“whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out”: To kindle a fire is to inflame it, and to put it out is to extinguish it. The meaning is clear. There is another possibility that the clause: “whenever they kindle a fire,” explains the preceding clause: “and We put enmity and hatred . . .” Thus the meaning will be as follows: Whenever they kindled a fire of war against the Prophet and the believers, Allah puts it out by reviving their internal discords and differences. The context points to the divine decree that their endeavors in kindling the fire of war against the divine religion and against the Muslims (because of their belief in Allah and His signs) are bound to fail. However, it does not cover those wars, which the Jews might wage against the Muslims, not for religious motive, but because of politics, or because of ideas of racial or national superiority.
Tabatabai’s gloss on Koran 5:71 continues his rhetorical assault on the stubborn, vain, and ultimately (and deservedly!) self-destructive behaviors of the Jews, because of their inherent—“Jewishness”:
This blindness and deafness have been caused by their delusion that there would be no affliction; and apparently that delusion had emanated from their vanity and conceit that they had a special status before Allah because they were from the seed of Israel, and they were sons and beloveds of Allah. Therefore, no evil would fall to them no matter what they did and what they indulged in. The meaning of the verse then is as follows – and Allah knows better: They, because of their vanity that they enjoyed the prestige of Jewishness, thought that they would not be afflicted by any evil, and would not be put on trial no matter what they did; this thought and delusion blinded their eyes – so they cannot see the truth – and deafened their ears – so they cannot listen to their Prophets’ [i.e., Muhammad’s] call which would have benefited them. This interpretation favors what we have said earlier that these verses are a sort of proof of the verse: Surely those who believe and those who are Jews . . . It shows in short that names and titles are not to avail anyone anything. Look at these Jews who thought that they had a special prestige because they were Jews; yet this delusion did not do them any good, rather it made them blind and deaf and led them to perils of destruction and tribulation when they called the Prophets of Allah liars and murdered them.
Koran 5:78, a Koranic curse upon the Jews, is glossed by Tabatabai in this straightforward manner:
It adversely alludes to the Jews who were cursed by their own prophets, and it was because they exceeded the limit, and continued in this transgression generation after generation. The words: “They used not to forbid . . . evil was that which they did,” explain that transgression.
Koran 5:82, arguably the central Koranic verse defining Islam’s eternal attitudes towards Jews and Judaism, is glossed by Tabatabai, thusly:
[T]he Jews, although they had the same alternatives as the Christians, and they could retain their religion with payment of the jizyah [Koranic poll tax, per verse 9:29], yet they continued in their haughtiness, became harder in their bigotry, and turned to double dealing and deception. They broke their covenants, eagerly waited calamities to befall the Muslims and dealt to them the bitterest deal…[T]he enmity of the Jews…toward the divine religion [Islam] and their sustained arrogance and bigotry, have continued exactly in the same manner even after the Prophet… These unchanged characteristics…confirm what the Mighty Book [the Koran] had indicated.
Wall Street Journal Editorial Features Editor Robert Pollock interviewed Husayn Fadlallah less than 4-months before the Grand Ayatollah’s death. Pollock utterly ignored Fadlallah’s theological Jew-hatred (described below), but did note the Shiite cleric was possessed of a “disarming twinkle in his eyes,” and closed his “Dialogue” with Fadlallah as follows:
The interview is over. We pose for pictures and the Ayatollah presents me with an English translation of one of his books:“Islam: The Religion of Dialogue.” He signs it for me in Arabic: “With my affection and prayers.”
When Fadlallah died in early July, 2010, the Associated Press affirmed the Grand Ayatollah’s mainstream influence, notably with the leaders of the U.S. “ally” regime of al-Maliki in Iraq:
Among his followers are many of Iraq’s Shiite leaders, including al-Maliki. In Iraq, a prominent leader in al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, Ali al-Adeeb, said Fadlallah’s death was a major loss to the Islamic world and that it “will be hard to replace him.”
Hezbollah’s, most senior clerical authority, the late Husayn Fadlalah, stated:
We find in the Koran that the Jews are the most aggressive towards the Muslims … because of their aggressive resistance to the unity of the faith.
Fadlallah repeatedly referred to anti-Jewish archetypes in the Koran, hadith, and sira: the corrupt, treacherous, and aggressive nature of the Jews; their reputation as killers of prophets who spread corruption on earth; and the notion that the Jews engaged in conspiratorial efforts against Muhammad. 383
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Husayni Shirazi (d. 2001), was an author and religious leader revered by millions of Twelver Shiite Muslims worldwide. Hagiographies of Shirazi extol his broad ranging contributions in various fields from jurisprudence and theology, to politics, economics, law, sociology, and human rights. Iranian expatriate history professor Reza Afshari, who forthrightly chronicled the human rights abuses in “post-Revolutionary” Iran, from 1979 to 2000, described Shirazi as follows:
Perhaps the least political among the Grand Ayatollahs was Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi, who enjoyed a considerable Shiite following. He stayed clear of political involvement during the Khomeini era. However, he became indignant over [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s attempt to gain recognition not only as Supreme Leader but also as an eminent marja taqlid (source of emulation), a position reserved only for Grand Ayatollahs. Shirazi seemed to have favored a committee of Grand Ayatollahs to provide leadership for the country.
Despite his alleged “ecumenism,” and “quietist” approach to politics, Shirazi’s Islamic law manual simply confirms (ad nauseum) the traditionalist Shiite (and overall Islamic) viewpoint on jihad:
The jihad against the non-believers—according to its criteria—is “wajib kifai” “collective obligation” or “obligatory as per sufficiency” in that it is not obligatory for the rest of the people if sufficient number of individuals take it up; if those who could execute this duty do not do so, then all those who are able to do jihad are considered to have committed disobedience… Before the start of the battle the non-believers of the people of the book are given the choice between three: 1) Islam, which is to embrace Islam through declaration of the two shahadah (testimonies of faith); to testify to the oneness of Allah and to the Prophethood of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad peace be upon him and his pure family, and adhering to the laws of Islam.; 2) jizyah, in that they pay tax for the protection they receive. 3) Combat [note from original: “The late Imam Shirazi adds a fourth category: or whatever the Council of the ‘fuqaha maraje’(i.e., being both expert in Islamic law and recognized rulers) deems appropriate.”] These options are also given to the unbelieving who are not people of the book, if the just religious scholars with knowledge of war issues consider it to be in the general interest.