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In the Name of God بسم الله

Are Republics Islamic?

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Is a knife Islamic? well no when you kill someone harmless and yes when you kill  a harmful takfiri that is about to attack your community to wreak havoc. republics likewise. its what we do.

 

Perhaps it is as simple as that. I just think that when we deal with sensitive topics like democracy, government, slavery, women's rights, etc. etc. we need to stop and ask what is informing our understandings of these concepts. Is it our own Islamic tradition or something else?

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Tradition of Islam is Qur'an, ahaadeeth and scholarly interpretation of both throughout history. Agreed 100℅

Now here I claim that all key jurists in shia Islam had the theoretical concept of wilayat al-faqih and sometimes (plz note, sometimes) they used it to justify the monarchy of the time in practice. But they didn't give the theory to the king, that's the point. Scholars kept the power to themselves, it was the king who need scholars (acting wali faqih of the time) to assign their legitimacy. It doesn't mean the king becomes wali faqih himself, rather he would get permission from a wali faqih.

(We are talking about a king as king not a mixture of king and wali faqih like shah isma'il, theoretically and by definition they are different)

In classical fiqh you'll never find a section in which a scholar gives the legitimacy to monarchy theoretically, but the section on wilayat al-faqih is an integral part of any fiqhi classical text. Faqih is the one who gives religious legality to the king. and I think it was because of surroundings of the time that they didn't make any big change in the system, otherwise you have to prove according to scholarly textual tradition (not historical practical necessity), monarchy was their ideal system during Ghaybah of the last Imam atf.

The prophet of Islam sa. is presented in Qur'an as wali, not king, he didn't like to be put in a line with kings according to narrations.

In our textual tradition, kings are mentioned together with pharaohs.

If you take knowledge and piety as theoretically necessary (not historically accidental) criteria for your king, then we don't have much to debate over.

Edited by mesbah
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Monarchies seem more in line with traditional Islamic political philosophy if you ask me. 

 

That might appear to be the case because Islam seems to have a TO DO LIST based on its own sense of priorities. But I don't think it is true.

 

I don't think Republics are necessarily anti-Islamic.

 

That statement might be acceptable, depending on the quality of public officials and ministers.  

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Perhaps it is as simple as that. I just think that when we deal with sensitive topics like democracy, government, slavery, women's rights, etc. etc. we need to stop and ask what is informing our understandings of these concepts. Is it our own Islamic tradition or something else?

 

a bit of both actually. we humans absorb what we are exposed to and we have been exposed to both. we get islamic influence in our homes and communities while a european one through school and media. and again it all is real simple- do good and forbid evil. if you do that you are a pious muslim, a faithful hindu, a good leader, an awesome philanthropist, or a moral democrat.

State, republic or any other power entity are mere abstract concepts. they're like that giant robot suit in those sci fi movies that the hero wears and magnifies his abilities by a million. 

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Not the Sunni version though. 

 

In our belief, the only ideal Islamic state can only be established by a Ma'sum.

Yes, I mean Imam Ali (a.s), or Imam al-Hasan (a.s)'s ones.

Try to make it similar to that, so apply 100% Quran laws and you're good.

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A country can be any configuration it wishes, as long as the Wali al-Amr has the power to limit decision making bodies.

 

Any government that lacks this component is unislamic, obviously.

 

With that said, the way a republic can be modified to integrate Islamic influences makes it appealing and favourable over monarchies.

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Salam,

One shouldnt be naive.. Have noone ever thought about why it is that so manyof those who are criticizing the wilayatul faqih as completely impossible a system are living in the western world or immediately adopted by western academia as their favourites? I believe they're being deliberately promoted in the academic world in the hope of shaping the intellectual paradigm that will eventually undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even Ayatullah Sistani (may God prolong his life) has been adopted by the western academie and they're trying to make his statements into statementsf that are against islamic governance and for liberal "democracy"..

 

So for example, Seyyed Hossein Nasr (may God prolong his life) has a valid point in his traditionalist criticisms of democratic governance. But the academia that is promoting this view have no intention or commitment to a traditionalist monarchy. The only intention and commitment is to use the most valid counter argument against the wilayatul faqih to undermine its authority so that if this view was to gain wide adherence it would not be followed through but lain aside to in the en implement a liberal democracy, just like in the west where it's possible for outside powers to through lobbying and NGO's design all policies.

 

Even if there wouldnt be a Wilayatul Faqih but a real traditionalist King ruling Iran, that had his authority vested in his religiousity, the west would still try to undermine his authority because islamic government will be impossible to "shape" from the west,, That's the reality of today.

 

There are probably many problems with the iranian government and their human rights violations etc. But they are building something for themselves, by themselves.. 

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Tradition of Islam is Qur'an, ahaadeeth and scholarly interpretation of both throughout history. Agreed 100℅

Now here I claim that all key jurists in shia Islam had the theoretical concept of wilayat al-faqih and sometimes (plz note, sometimes) they used it to justify the monarchy of the time in practice. But they didn't give the theory to the king, that's the point. Scholars kept the power to themselves, it was the king who need scholars (acting wali faqih of the time) to assign their legitimacy. It doesn't mean the king becomes wali faqih himself, rather he would get permission from a wali faqih.
(We are talking about a king as king not a mixture of king and wali faqih like shah isma'il, theoretically and by definition they are different)

In classical fiqh you'll never find a section in which a scholar gives the legitimacy to monarchy theoretically, but the section on wilayat al-faqih is an integral part of any fiqhi classical text. Faqih is the one who gives religious legality to the king. and I think it was because of surroundings of the time that they didn't make any big change in the system, otherwise you have to prove according to scholarly textual tradition (not historical practical necessity), monarchy was their ideal system during Ghaybah of the last Imam atf.
The prophet of Islam sa. is presented in Qur'an as wali, not king, he didn't like to be put in a line with kings according to narrations.
In our textual tradition, kings are mentioned together with pharaohs.


If you take knowledge and piety as theoretically necessary (not historically accidental) criteria for your king, then we don't have much to debate over.

 

 
Wilayat al-faqih in some form of another has always existed in the theoretical writings and practice of past jurists. I don't disagree with that. However, traditionally and historically I would say that such authority was always kind of spread out among the society. Clerical authority was never so centralized in Shi'ism as it was in say, Roman Catholicism. I think two problems Islam faces in the modern era is two things which definitely ring true for Shia Muslims are:
 
1. The over consolidation of clerical power due to the conditions and needs of industrial and post-industrial society creating a bigger intellectual gap between laity and clergy in societies where the line between clerical occupations and non-clerical occupations was always, historically speaking, somewhat blurred (for example, in many cases the greatest Islamic scientists, philosophers and mathematicians were also leading theologians and jurists)
 
2. The influence of modernist philosophical ideas and modern science from the secularized West concerning democracy and government and the excessive attempts to make Islam conform to a worldview developed almost completely outside its environment, with only a few notable exceptions.
 
I'd certainly say what differentiates Sunni conceptions of rule from Shi'ite ones is the theoretically necessity of knowledge and piety as a pre-requisite. Sunnis always tended to just accept whatever ruler or dynasty as long as they were able to keep and maintain power through strength. He or she was not expected to possess the knowledge to issue fatwa or anything like that. Shi'ism appears to be a little different in some respects where monarchs often had to at least qualify as low ranking jurists. Shi'ite dynasties were either set up by those who made great messianic claims for themselves or, in order to justify their political authority, they appealed to some kind of religious authority. This was certainly the case with the Safavids. Shah Ismail the First and his family were the spiritual heads of a organized religious order of Sufi dervishes and by the time one got to the time of Shah Tahmasp or Shah Abbas the First, the Shahs had assumed some right to issue fatwas like any other which came from the high ranking religious scholars such as the Shaykh al-Islam or the Sadr. The Safavids also claimed lineage to Ali (as) and Fatima (as) themselves, and so although they were Twelvers, there was sort of a Zaydi or Ismaili appeal to their claims to power and authority.  Arguably, one of the reasons for frustration with the Qajar dynasty of Iran even from its onset was that they lacked the same pedigree and religious charisma as their Safavid predecessors. Although a couple of them stand out, the Qajar dynasty as it began with Aga Muhammad Khan Qajar did not build the foundation of its authority on similar messianic and religious claims but rather, Aga Muhammad Khan just ran through the land and got revenge on his family's enemies and reunited Persia by simply being the most ruthless competitor. Fath Ali Shah after him had to deal with the fallout of this methodology and preserve the reunified Persia and is perhaps the one reason the dynasty didn't simply fall after 4 years. Not to say that the Safavid rise to power was bloodless by any means, but the Safavids possessed a certain charisma beyond a flexing of their muscles that was perhaps the real cause for the success of their campaigns. A combination of noble blood and religious authority which attracted many to the new dynasty's rule willingly, even if they acknowledged it wasn't perfect. I have noted before that Shah Ismail and Ayatollah Khomeini had some interesting similarities with one another in that they were both trained in irfan and saw what they were doing as laying some kind of foundation for the Imam's return by the creation of a new order according to some divine plan.
 
However, I think it should be remembered that generally speaking, wilayat al-faqih was always something that, in practice, even way back in the Safavid era, was spread out among various mujtahids in society, which sometimes included the monarch his or herself, even if some classical scholars acknowledged it was THEORETICALLY possible for a pre-eminent mujtahid with all the authorities of the Imam by virtue of his merit before the Imam could emerge before the return. Many ulama felt it was impossible or near impossible to prove such a thing though, especially since it would require more direct appointment by a divine authority, and that the more limited guardianship which existed had to suffice.
 

 

Salam,

One shouldnt be naive.. Have noone ever thought about why it is that so manyof those who are criticizing the wilayatul faqih as completely impossible a system are living in the western world or immediately adopted by western academia as their favourites? I believe they're being deliberately promoted in the academic world in the hope of shaping the intellectual paradigm that will eventually undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even Ayatullah Sistani (may God prolong his life) has been adopted by the western academie and they're trying to make his statements into statementsf that are against islamic governance and for liberal "democracy"..

 

So for example, Seyyed Hossein Nasr (may God prolong his life) has a valid point in his traditionalist criticisms of democratic governance. But the academia that is promoting this view have no intention or commitment to a traditionalist monarchy. The only intention and commitment is to use the most valid counter argument against the wilayatul faqih to undermine its authority so that if this view was to gain wide adherence it would not be followed through but lain aside to in the en implement a liberal democracy, just like in the west where it's possible for outside powers to through lobbying and NGO's design all policies.

 

Even if there wouldnt be a Wilayatul Faqih but a real traditionalist King ruling Iran, that had his authority vested in his religiousity, the west would still try to undermine his authority because islamic government will be impossible to "shape" from the west,, That's the reality of today.

 

 

I agree. I think few people share Dr. Nasr's vision of the restoration of "traditional Islam," but want to use his criticisms of fundamentalism (which he usually lumps up with modernism) as part of their secularizing agenda. Quite ironic if you ask me.

 

However, I do think that the restoration of "traditional Islam" Dr. Nasr speaks of is not about the restoration of a specific political order or dynasty or anything like that, but rather a restoration of a certain approach to these matters which will also help us to better understand and possibly even incorporate elements of modern society we have come into contact with. Scholars like Dr. Nasr aren't necessarily opposed to better understandings of the Qu'ran or Islam in the light of contemporary circumstances, rather what they are opposed much more to what might be called "hyphenated Islam"

 

Islamic-secularism

 

Islamic-Marxism

 

Islamic-democracy

 

Islamic-socialism

 

Islamic-liberalism

 

Islamic-capitalism

 

On the one hand, such terms might be useful in academia, but socially we are all kind of guilty of using them with the intent of attaching Islam as a mere epithet to an already complete worldview that was developed outside Islam with either no real recourse to it or which operate under such a completely different ethos that the "Islam" is merely a dressing.

 

Islamic fundamentalism was an attempt to restore Islam as its own complete worldview, but it's a mess of irony since it often ignores real Islamic tradition more than the above, disregarding historic interpretation and scholarship and applying modernist modes of thought. Look at Saudi Arabia, they pride themselves on their Islamic character, but shun historic Islamic philosophy and science, worshiping gadgets and weapons developed by the West (or Japan) according to modern Western science which operates without recourse to Allah or even to the notion that there is a sacred quality to man and nature (as all traditional systems did). But God-forbid, according to them, that anyone attempt to study the medical books of Ibn Sina and apply the theories contained within to modern society. The Iranians are guilty of this as well to some extent.

 

This isn't to say we can't reappropriate certain elements of modern Western culture or science or what have you, but we need to approach them from the right angle, the angle of Islamic tradition so we don't end up forcing Islam to conform to ideas incongruous with it. Otherwise, what we get will only be Islamic in the most superficial sense.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23
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The power of wali faqih in today-Iran is spread out in maraji' and mujtahids who are chosen by people to be members of majles khobregan (elites council) who have supervision over the actions and personality of acting wali faqih.

It's way better than the chaotic spread of power in the monarchy system. (Though I believe monarchic systems are more centralized in terms of power and therefore more like the catholic church system than a Democratic system of wali faqih)

Edited by mesbah
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The power of wali faqih in today-Iran is spread out in maraji' and mujtahids who are chosen by people to be members of majles khobregan (elites council) who have supervision over the actions and personality of acting wali faqih.

It's way better than the chaotic spread of power in the monarchy system. (Though I believe monarchic systems are more centralized in terms of power and therefore more like the catholic church system than a Democratic system of wali faqih)

 

The one problem is that the unlike more classical forms of Islamic government which involved a monarchy, you have two issues that make such a system problematic either in practice or in theory:

 

1. The wali faqih in this case is not necessarily juxtaposed by another force of equal religious and.or political authority. The current system in Iran for instance is more like what you'd get if the Sadr or Shaykh al-Islam which was present in the Safavid political structure for instance was in charge of the country without a Shah to challenge him if he got out of line. Arguably, the main thing that led to the fall of the Safavid dynasty was the later Shahs becoming disinterested in the political and religious affairs of the country during crucial moments and simply letting men like Baqir al-Majlisi run the show themselves. In present day Iran, I doubt we could really say with much confidence the President has an equivalent measure of authority in regards to both political and religious matters.

 

2. Because the wali faqih comes into power through election and the president also comes into power through election, albeit another form, we are presented with the same issues that plague all representative democracies. In older systems, while the mujtahids were generally in some sense representative of class background and propped up according to their popularity among the people or other established mujtahids, the position of Shah was inherited according to the will of the previous Shah. This at least created a balance where on the one hand, the Shah's mixture of religious, political and military power could curtail the will of the people, who were filled with base desires and sometimes lacking in intellect, so as to prevent the rise of ambitious or depraved individuals who simply had a way with words and the charisma to mislead the people (the people in this case also including those mujtahids who may, in their having been deceived by their own ignorance or passions, to support such an individual) and whose revenue and military strength the mujtahids and other high ranking members of society depend on. Then on the other hand, the Shah himself relies on the mujtahids, nobles, etc. to keep order and help ensure obedience among the people to his reign by giving his rule at least a token of their blessing. So you have a greater sense of balance and interdependence between these two institutions who are forced to rely on another.

 

The current structure of the Islamic Republic of Iran I think is problematic because one way or another I think either the Supreme Leader will simply become a mouthpiece for the Majlis eventually, in which case it will no longer represent objective religious judgement but merely the passions of the people, or the Majlis will merely become a superficial body that nods its head in deference to the office of the Supreme Leader, giving the impression of a democracy that isn't really there. This is because there is no institution that stands aloof from the people, including the clergy from among the people, but yet still cooperates with the clergy and people to it maintain order.

 

EDIT: Democracies, at least as we understand them today, often go in two extreme directions: dictatorship by a wealthy and/or inclusive minority interest group or dictatorship by the ignorant masses. I'm not sure if the current structure of Iran's government can prevent either of these. 

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23
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The current structure of Islamic Republic of Iran is problematic because it's against western and isreali interests in the region and the globe.

It's problematic because it didn't give to pro-pahlavi elements (namely dr. nasr) "what they deserved", and they continued their traditional and religious life on u.s. soil, the land of opportunities for anti-IRIs.

It's interesting to see how weirdly some people try to give a good picture of monarchies and how they blend and mix everything just to say IRI is wrong, as if pervious systems were heaven on the earth.

What if we have a poll with this question:

Are monarchies islamic?

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The current structure of Islamic Republic of Iran is problematic because it's against western and isreali interests in the region and the globe.

It's problematic because it didn't give to pro-pahlavi elements (namely dr. nasr) "what they deserved", and they continued their traditional and religious life on u.s. soil, the land of opportunities for anti-IRIs.

It's interesting to see how weirdly some people try to give a good picture of monarchies and how they blend and mix everything just to say IRI is wrong, as if pervious systems were heaven on the earth.

What if we have a poll with this question:

Are monarchies islamic?

 

You seem upset that people disagree with you and now just hide behind the logic of "B-but they're AGAINST ISRAEL! HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THEIR ORDER!" Believe it or not, Israel is not our greatest enemy.

 

Nobody's saying monarchies were heaven on earth. I'm simply arguing that modern democracies in general, whether it's Iran or the USA, have caused a lot of major problems for the world because of the values upon which they are generally based, moreso perhaps than any traditional monarchy before 1700 ever did.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23
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No I'm not that much upset, I was just pointing to some of the logic behind being pro-monarchy in this sense.

When it comes to a democratic wali faqih, it's either dictatorship of masses or a certain group of people, but when it comes to your/their imaginary monarchy, it's a prefect interdependent system of power the acts according to divine will or something.

As I said it's more interesting than upsetting!

Whoever your greatest enemy is, I'm against zionist oppression and I'm proud of it.

Edited by mesbah
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No I'm not that much upset, I was just pointing to some of the logic behind being pro-monarchy in this sense.

When it comes to a democratic wali faqih, it's either dictatorship of masses or a certain group of people, but when it comes to your/their imaginary monarchy, it's a prefect interdependent system of power the acts according to divine will or something.

 

It's not perfect, but it's better. At least such a system helped give birth to some of the greatest art and culture the Islamic world ever knew.

 

I'm not saying monarchies are perfect or that republics are necessarily bad. What I advocate is less the restoration of a certain political system and much more the revival of a certain spirit which was associated with that system that created some of the greatest minds and works of Islamic or Shi'ite excellence. Whether that spirit can be retained in a republican system I think has yet to really be seen.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23
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Those arts and culture that you believe were pure Islamic products can be seen as heavily influenced by persian, roman, greek, inbian and ... civilizations. If you were living then, you would have criticized them of not being traditional or islamic in their first emergence in muslim lands. At that time, those arts and culture were based on pagan civilizations' values.

We've experienced monarchism more than enough, it's time to have new experiences.

Edited by mesbah
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Those arts and culture that you believe were pure Islamic products can be seen as heavily influenced by persian, roman, greek, inbian and ... civilizations.

 

This does not take away from their unique Islamic character at all. Traditional Islam was never opposed to taking influence from other cultures. That's not even my issue with Republics, so you clearly do not understand my argument.

 

My argument is not that Republics are bad because they're "foreign," but that I doubt they can be islamicized properly in a similar manner that Persian architecture was successfully islamicized. And islamicizing systems of government is a completely different ballpark than Islamicizing textiles and genres of painting or music. You can't compare the two really.

 

And the fact remains that Islamic adoptions of these modern political ideas such as fascism, republicanism, absolutism, coming from the West has yet to produce a quality Islamic culture that rivals that which was generated under the reign of the old forms of government the Islamic world was used to. Instead of great masterpieces of architecture in perfect balance with nature and with great attention to detail that invokes the majesty of God or paradise, we have all these hulking metal monstrosities and gaudy skyskrapers

 

 

At that time, those arts and culture were based on pagan civilizations' values.

 

Except not all these values embodied by these arts and culture contradicted Islamic ones, at least not as far as the Muslims of that time and culture were concerned, which is why they were able to be re-appropriated so successfully. Can we say the same thing for this specific political system is the question guiding this discussion.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23
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 the question guiding this discussion.

 

a question does guide a discussion but it never guarantee its conclusion.

 

wilayat al-faqih has theoretical origins in Qur'an, Hadeeth and classical shi'a jurisprudence, while there's no mention of those arts and cultures in Qur'an and ahaadith.

 

we must open our minds and eyes and consider the surroundings of our time and see how we can have social and political application of Islam and at the end of the day, whose side we are taking.

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wilayat al-faqih has theoretical origins in Qur'an, Hadeeth and classical shi'a jurisprudence,

 

Yes, but one would argue that Ayatollah's Khomeini's application of the concept was itself much more a innovation in the original concept. I'm not opposed to wilayat al-faqih. As a matter of fact, I would agree that it's an essential component, but I can't say I believe in the more general or absolute guardianship embodied by Khomeini, with all due respect, because it largely operated on an assumption that a single jurist could become invested one way or another with all the authorities of the Imam (as). Not only that, but I also lean to a point of view that we should One because I don't believe such to be very practical at the end of the day. Two, it's not necessarily the traditional application of wilayat al-faqiha, although some jurists of the may the past may have theorized such a thing was possible (yet not necessarily capable of being proven).

 

 

 while there's no mention of those arts and cultures in Qur'an and ahaadith.

 

The Qu'ran does encourage diversity of culture and encourages the creation of art. But that's not the issue I'm getting at. The point is that the beauty of classical Islamic culture as opposed to the much more stale and mechanical Islamic environment that has sort of emerged in the modern era, is in my opinion a natural product of a culture and era that while it is not always in perfect harmony with the teachings of Islam is nonetheless in greater harmony with them than it is today.

 

With regards to Shi'a Islam in particular, the fact that our religion seems to no longer produce such great culture as what is embodied, for example, in the great classical architecture of Isfahan or Khurasan in fact highlights the disconnection we actually have with our spiritual roots and foundation.

 

In my opinion, the superb and sophisticated culture of classical Shi'ite Islam under the older, general political and social order Shi'ite Muslims shed themselves of, a shedding process which by the way began with the fascist, overly Westernized and secular Pahlavis, but nonetheless continued through the Iranian revolution, but the culture we see emerge in the more classical Shi'ite period while not 100% Islamic necessarily is nonetheless proof of the traditional social and political orders' legitimacy. Now this conservative stance is not to reject any need or demand for social or political reform. While I have mixed feelings on the Revolution of '79 because on the one hand I believe the Pahlavis were traitors to their country and their people, but on the other hand I have some issues with the nature of modern republican systems of government and the more general guardianship of the jurist which prevent from investing too much of my heart into Iran's current political structure in spite of all the good it has done in rescuing Islam from secularism and attempting to articulate it as its own independent social and political philosophy, but there in contrast has never been much doubt, at least in my mind, as to the need for and the righteousness of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905, which rather than toppling the old social order completely, sought to reform it and bring it back into conformity with the cultural and religious principles from which it received its legitimacy.

 

 

 

we must open our minds and eyes and consider the surroundings of our time and see how we can have social and political application of Islam and at the end of the day, whose side we are taking.

 

I wholeheartedly agree, but the "application of Islam" goes beyond the enforcement of punitive laws stipulated in the sharia and it goes beyond a rejection of modern Western secularism and so I think the political system we apply, whatever form it takes, whether it's a monarchy or a republic must go beyond that. The current Islamic Republic while it has created in which it can implement Islamic law on a greater scale, it is my sincere belief that it is still just as infected with the modernism it received the West, which in my opinion holds it back from achieving an unparalleled greatness once more. Whether it remains under a Republican government or not is not as much the problem as the desperate need to rekindle a certain spirit or worldview that while to some extent was present in all major traditional Islamic civilizations, was most obvious in the classical Shi'ite cultures. Whether or not the resurrection of this worldview will allow for the existence of a republic either like that in Iran or in Iraq I think remains to be seen. We may find that the structure of a republic runs too contrary to this spirit and will naturally go with its resurrection. Or we may find that it is, but maybe not in the present form. For now, we should focus our efforts on the resurrection of that traditional spirit, then whatever political system that flows naturally from that spirit in response to our current environment and conditions shall be.

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