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Payvand's Iran News ...

Ecclesiastics and Power (Part 2)

Mohsen Kadivar
Source: Jameh Madani

Q: Do you think the clergy should essentially avoid political activity due to their holiness and social sovereignty or you accept a lowering of the traditional sovereignty of clergy at the price of remaining on the political scene or do you suggest a third solution?

A: The role of clergy during two different phases should be distinguished. The first phase, the phase of overthrowing an anti-Islamic regime, corresponds to the role they played since Khordad 15th 1966 until the victory of Revolution. During this phase the good and evil fronts were quite distinct and the clergy was religiously obliged to use its utmost effort to fight against the evil, and for the establishment of a system based on national and religious values originating from the heart of people. But the second phase that is the subject of our present discussion and confrontation with it needs a great subtlety, is the phase starting after the victory of Revolution and we have to see what role should they now play.

Here there are two serious approaches. One considers only a supervising role for the clergy in an Islamic society which was the earlier approach of Imam Khomeini and Ayatolah Taleghani and Ayatolah Motahari. Imam's view however started to change from the end of 1979 and social necessities make him to adopt another view. To me such a change in view was only due to necessities and should not be regarded as his true position. If social imperatives necessitate something, the previous situation should dominate after overcoming those imperatives. Imam's interviews in Paris should be used as our guidelines. There Imam insists that the clergy should play a supervising, guidance and supporting role for the government.

Once Imam moved to Tehran from Ghom, he explained fully the reasons and the imperatives for his direct participation in the state of affaires in two descriptive speeches. Ghom's Imam was a supervising Imam and Tehran's Imam a Vali (religious leader). In these two aforementioned speeches, Imam says that this direct participation has been because of the ruling conditions. This implies that when these conditions return to normal and the society reaches that sufficient amount of social maturity and competence to deal appropriately with problems, a great ecclesiastic such as Imam would return to his main lofty position of supervision. If the clergy took over the management system of the country in early years of Revolution due to some imperatives, it does not imply that this should continue for ever. But a part of our clergy speculated that these imperatives were not temporary and what took shape during the early years of Revolution, is the permanent structure of a religious government and permanent state of Velayat Faghih and permanent form of Islamic Republic.

Paying careful attention to the way Imam acted himself would show that gradually Imam lowered his executive Velayat role and intensified his supervising role. Imam's management method should be thoroughly studies, something that has not been done so far. Some people might think that Imam followed such path because he did not wish the management system of the country to confront a crisis after his departure. This is one way of thinking too. But I don't think that this is what Imam had in mind.

To me the best criteria for the possible function of the clergy is Imam's participation and non-participation in the state of affairs. This is a point that is often neglected.

(To be continued.)

-- Translated for by Roya Monajem,

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