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In the Name of God بسم الله

`No, no to America! Yes to Islam!'

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`No, no to America! Yes to Islam!'

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/Sh...sID=0&listSrc=Y

By Zvi Bar'el

In the absence of a central leadership in postwar Iraq, prominent members of the resurgent Shi'ite population, some of them returning from Iran, are seizing power

They don't pay when traveling by bus or train: The thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites who live in Iran receive their travel expenses from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - a large Shi'ite opposition organization, which is beginning to rehabilitate the Shi'ite community in its homeland.

Most of those who are returning home, in some cases after 20 years of exile in Iran, but some after 10 years, go on pilgrimage to the tombs of the holy men at Najaf and Karbala, and only afterward look for a place in which to settle. The majority are arriving from the Iranian city of Qom, which became a place of refuge after the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and after the Gulf War of 1991, and developed into an important center for the 120 million Shi'ite believers around the world.

Following the American conquest of Iraq, and against the background of the absence of a central government in the country at this time, the Shi'ites in Iraq have begun to develop an autonomous government that is the first of its kind. Shi'ite clerics are running the municipalities in Karbala, Najaf and Kut. They are tending to the supply of water and some are even managing to pay salaries to the clerks. In Karbala and Najaf, armed militias are guarding the new officials, while American troops continue to be present on the edges of the cities - though they are not intervening. In Kut, however, the Americans used considerable force as well as a bulldozer to remove the self-appointed governor. Shi'ite youngsters shouted "No, no to America, no! No to Israel, yes, yes to Islam!" and threw stones at the Americans, and one demonstrator was shot and killed by a Marine.

In Baghdad the confrontation is quite straightforward, and the Americans arrested the self-proclaimed "mayor," Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi. In Najaf and Karbala, though, and in some neighborhoods in Baghdad, the new "mayors" and new "neighborhood leaders," who are Shi'ites, continue to serve in office and to operate by means of municipal committees. The Americans, headed by the chief of the civil administration, the retired General Jay Garner, are still at a loss when it comes to how to deal with these individuals who have seized power. Their fear is that the longer it takes to establish the new local government, the more difficult it will be to remove them.

No Iran-like theocracy will be established in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted this week, warning Iran not to intervene in Iraq's internal affairs. However, Rumsfeld is not the only one who has cause for concern. The Iranian regime, too, has a problem with the establishment of a Shi'ite state in Iraq, and the Shi'ite leaders in Iraq are divided among themselves, on theological grounds, about the idea.

The Shi'ites constitute more than 60 percent of the population in Iraq. They are usually divided into three "generations": those who lived there in the period of the Iran-Iraq war and were expelled by Saddam Hussein, the majority to Iran and the others to Europe and the United States; those who left Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and following the brutal suppression of the Shi'ite revolt after the war; and those who remained in their homeland and survived under the Saddam Hussein regime.

There is also a division between secular Shi'ites, such as Ahmed Chalabi, the chairman of the Iraqi National Congress, and Orthodox Shi'ites. And the latter, too, have ideological and theological disagreements. Some of them think that it's possible to separate religion and state and that Shi'ite clerics should not become involved in politics, while others seek to revive the idea of an Islamic state and are examining the possibility of accepting political positions.

Violent dispute

This was the background to the violent dispute that flared up in Najaf, in the course of which a Shi'ite cleric, Abed al-Majid al-Khoei, was murdered by extremist Shi'ites. Their aim was to attack Khaider Rifai, who is in charge of the Imam Ali Mosque on behalf of the Iraqi Ministry of Waqf (Islamic charitable trust). Khoei, who was 50 at the time of his death, was the son of the Grand Ayatollah (the highest title in the Shi'ite religious hierarchy) Abulqassem al-Khoei, who belonged to the Shi'ite stream that is against the idea of clerics taking part in the state's political management; he died of a heart attack in 1992.

"Religious figures should counsel, guide and advise, but not rule," Khoei stated in a press interview before he was murdered. The same opinion was espoused by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the source of religious authority of the Shi'ite seminary in Najaf. Sistani, 72, was a student of Khoei and today is one of the liberal interpreters of Shia in Iraq. He obliges his students to read literature and poetry and not to make do with reciting religious edicts.

Sistani is considered a religious genius; he was ordained as an interpreter and codifier at a young age, before he was 30. The list of teachers he studied with and the writings he has published have made him one of the major Shi'ite sages and religious authorities of his generation. Yet not even he with his theological prominence is able to cope with the political ambitions of Muqtada Sadr, a young man in his twenties, whose critics have dubbed him the "boy scholar." He seeks to transform the religious center in Najaf into a political center and establish an Iran-style state in Iraq.

Despite the religious title he carries, Muqtada Sadr is not a cleric. Certainly he cannot take on those who are better educated and more experienced than he is, but he does boast an impressive and highly distinguished family lineage. His father was the Grand Ayatollah Sadeq Sadr, the spiritual leader of the Shi'ites in Iraq; he was murdered, along with two of Muqtada's brothers, by agents of Saddam Hussein in 1999. The Americans maintain that Sadr is in contact with the Iranian authorities and wants to introduce the Iranian system, in which the clerics run the country, into Iraq. It was Sadr's followers who spearheaded the demonstrations against the Americans in Najaf and Karbala, and his men are suspected of planning, and perhaps also perpetrating, the murder of Abd al-Majid al-Khoei.

The "boy scholar" organized armed patrols in Najaf, established local civil administration committees there, and within a few days seized power in the city. His confidants say he has no intention of relinquishing that power. He has about 5,000 armed aides at his disposal, who constitute a kind of private army, and he has already managed to establish representations in other cities in Iraq.

To manage the city's affairs, Sadr and his followers need a stable source of funding. That source could lie in the Iranian treasury - and the United States is concerned that Tehran will in fact take advantage of this opportunity to navigate the future of Iraq.

Indeed, the Americans believe that Iran, in addition to assisting Sadr, is also helping the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the former opposition organization. It is led by Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim, who was recently made a grand ayatollah, enabling him to compete with Ali Sistani as a religious authority. Hakim's Supreme Council, which until this week was against any form of cooperation with the United States and spurned the invitation to take part in the first meeting of Iraqi opposition representatives at Nasseriya, has changed its approach. The council sent a delegate to the meeting that was held in Baghdad on Monday, at which Jay Garner tried to advance the appointment of a provisional Iraqi government, though so far without notable success.

Iranian reservations

If the Americans perceive the growing prominence of Shi'ite clerics in Iraq as a potential danger for Iraq turning into another Iran, the Iranians see things differently. The question of Shi'ite religious leadership haunts the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who aspires to become the source of spiritual authority for all Shi'ites everywhere. As long as Qom, in Iran, was the alternative center for Najaf, he was able at least to present himself in this light. The Shi'ite religious sages in Iran could not object to this in public, for fear they would come to harm, and their Shi'ite counterparts in Iraq, who did not accept his status as world Shi'ite leader, were considered to be under the thumb of Saddam Hussein and thus not eligible to be putting forward an independent position.

As it happens, it was the spiritual leader of the Lebanon-based organization Hezbollah, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who was among the most vociferous opponents of Khamenei. Fadlallah declared that Khamenei "lacks sufficient religious qualifications" to lead the Shia. He also ceased to be the spiritual leader of Hezbollah after the organization recognized Khamenei's status. Fadlallah is not the only one who questions Khamenei's status as a religious authority figure. Both Sistani and Hakim, the former head of the Shi'ite opposition organization, deem themselves to be worthy of the title "marjah al-taqlid," or "source of emulation," meaning the source of religious authority.

Now, with the way clear for the return of thousands of students of religion from Iran to Iraq, and with hundreds of esteemed religious teachers making their way to Najaf, the greatness of the holy city of Qom, in Iran, is liable to be challenged, and with it the entire Iranian religious center.

In an interview to Newsweek on April 7, at the outset of the war in Iraq, Fadlallah said: "I believe that Najaf is still the site of Shia authority [Fadlallah is a graduate of the Najaf seminary]. Perhaps Qom took many [of its] students because of the banning of foreign students from going to Najaf and because of the lack of freedom there. However, when Najaf recovers its freedom, it will naturally attract believers from all over the world to return to it, because Najaf has been the first Shia scientific center for over 1,000 years."

The freedom Fadlallah referred to is that of expressing one's opinion on religious matters and conducting an open debate - and it does not exist in Iran. It is here that the concrete danger to Khamenei's authority lies: He is liable to discover suddenly that the idea of exporting the Islamic revolution to Iraq will cost him his status. In order to ensure an Iranian hold in Iraq, Khamenei gave assistance to Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim's Supreme Council. The Revolutionary Guards trained Hakim's men and especially the military wing, known as the Badr Battalions. Now Iran is also backing Muqtada Sadr in his struggle against Ali Sistani.

"I don't know how this religious-political struggle will end," says a Lebanese commentator who is knowledgeable about Shi'ite politics, "but I will not be surprised if Khamenei, in order to maintain his status and the status of Iran, will be forced to cooperate with the Great Satan - America."

The only trouble is that America doesn't yet know who is for it and who is against it. Nor is there any certainty that those who support Iran today will continue to do so even after the situation in Iraq stabilizes. But there is no doubt that Shi'ite politics is what will determine the future face of the American occupation.

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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Salaams,

Hey bro, I know you're trying to be helpful... but posting random articles by kafirs ranting against Islam isn't a particularly helpful thing to do on a Muslim discussion forum. If I want to know what a Zionist thinks of Islamic Iran, then I'll goto Ha'aretz and see for myself.

We're bombarded by anti-Islam propaganda everyday, the last thing we need is for it to be shoved in our faces in our own spaces. All it serves to do is confuse those who are politically ignorant. Take the article you've posted above, for instance. What purpose does it serve? It's full of baseless accusation and speculation. This is what Jews are best at.

If you want to post these things with a commentary, then that's fine. But just posting them randomly serves no purpose. I could sit here posting articles from answering-islam.com all day, and it wouldn't be helpful unless I offered a refutation alongside it. In the same way, Muslims who came across such articles that couldn't answer them themselves may become confused.

Please think a little in future. Thanks.

Wasalaam,

Jondab Ali

Edited by Jondab-Ali
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salaam alaykum

you know the Haaretz readership is not very large inside Israel, but it is outside, especially their online readership.

Regardless, I want to say that I think it's good that he posted this, it gives you an idea about what the Zionists say and write about us and what their own people read.

I don't think commentary is necessary. That's what we're here for, no?

It seems obvious from the byline that the author is Jewish. Maybe all he needs to do is not that it's from an Israeli paper called Ha'aretz.

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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Salaams,

Hey bro, I know you're trying to be helpful... but posting random articles by kafirs ranting against Islam isn't a particularly helpful thing to do on a Muslim discussion forum. If I want to know what a Zionist thinks of Islamic Iran, then I'll goto Ha'aretz and see for myself.

We're bombarded by anti-Islam propaganda everyday, the last thing we need is for it to be shoved in our faces in our own spaces. All it serves to do is confuse those who are politically ignorant. Take the article you've posted above, for instance. What purpose does it serve? It's full of baseless accusation and speculation. This is what Jews are best at.

If you want to post these things with a commentary, then that's fine. But just posting them randomly serves no purpose. I could sit here posting articles from answering-islam.com all day, and it wouldn't be helpful unless I offered a refutation alongside it. In the same way, Muslims who came across such articles that couldn't answer them themselves may become confused.

Please think a little in future. Thanks.

Wasalaam,

Jondab Ali

(salam)

Sorry for posting this article Jondab Ali. B) Just trying to be informative. When I find an article I think others may be interested in, I post it. :)

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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Salaams,

Sorry for posting this article Jondab Ali.  Just trying to be informative. When I find an article I think others may be interested in, I post it. 

It's ok, bro. I'm sorry for going off on one like that. I'm not annoyed at you. But I spend half my life refuting the arguments of the kufaar, and sometimes it gets just a tad tedious. lol

May Allah grant me more patience.

Wasalaam,

Jondab Ali

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