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Professor Aghajari's Speech

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    Professor Aghajari's Speech

    I searched the web to find out the speech by Dr. Aghajari which lead to his arrest for blasphemy and then alter on death row in Iran, but I couldn't find it. Does anyone know where I can get a copy?

    Most of the main stream media just mentions that he was speaking against the hardliners in power ... but none of the report give quotes from the actual speech.
    I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    - Robert McCloskey

    Its a shame that this man's practical, progessive views have been silenced. Iran needs more men like this speaking out. Unfortunately it not only got him the death sentence, but he also received a sentence of 74 lashes of the whip, eight years imprisonment and internal exile, and a 10-year prohibition from teaching.

    MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Persian, Urdu-Pashtu, Turkish, Chinese, and Russian media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East.

    The Concept of Protestantism
    In his address, Dr. Aghajari described Christianity prior to Protestantism, focusing on the Church hierarchy and the corruption rampant among the clergy. He said that Islam is in a different position than Christianity: "The Protestant movement wanted to rescue Christianity from the clergy and the Church hierarchy - [Christians] must save religion from the pope. We [Muslims] do not need mediators between us and God. We do not need mediators to understand God's holy books. The Prophet [Jesus] spoke to the people directly… We don't need to go to the clergy; each person is his own clergy."

    "Shari'ati maintained that all the religious messages offered by formal and traditional religious organizations were antiquated, and that any protest against [these traditional religious organizations] was [regarded by the clerics as] a protest against Islam itself.

    "Core Islam" and "Traditional Islam"
    "Part of Dr. Shari'ati's work was to separate [what he called] 'core Islam' from [what he called] 'traditional Islam.' Many additions were added to Islam's core, [but] they were not part of the core; they were merely historical additions. It must be kept in mind that 70 or 80 years ago, the Shi'ite Muslim clergy was opposed to eliminating public bathhouses where one could immerse oneself in large containers of water and replacing them with showers and modern bathing facilities. But, of course, they have made some concessions to modernity when it comes to their own lifestyles, such as owning a car."

    The Role of the Traditional Clerics
    "At the time of the Constitutional Revolution [1905-1907], the Islamic clergy was opposed to modern sciences such as chemistry and physics… [In their eyes], chemistry meant that there is no God. But in today's world the clerics take what suits them. If I drive a Peykan [a cheap Iranian-made car] they drive the latest model luxury cars (audience applause). Is this right? They have made these concessions because they use [modernity for their own benefit]; they taste it and then decide that it isn't such a bad thing (smiles in the audience). Seventy or 80 years ago, they opposed these things in the name of Islam; they called it Haraam [forbidden in Islam]. Up until very recently, learning English in Islamic religious institutes of higher learning was forbidden."

    The Need to Separate "Core Islam" from "Traditional Islam"
    "Dr. Shari'ati would have said that this clergy has not descended from Heaven; it is contemporary, but their minds are medieval. As long as this mindset does not change, and these leaders do not change, the people who follow their interpretation will continue to think that Shi'ite Islam cannot be a modern religion, and [Shi'ite Islam] will be used by the misguided. Instead of serving as a driving force for progress and advancement, it will become a cause of continued backwardness."

    "Dr. Shari'ati sought to fight this attitude. He wanted to separate 'core Islam' from the 'traditional Islam' which is comprised of interpretation of Islam by the leaders of previous generations - because he believed that 'traditional Islam' was merely the result of the experiences of some people from generations past and that it should not be sanctified. [The clerics'] thinking is inflexible and incomplete. In our tradition, Shi'ites wear a ring on the middle finger of the left hand. This is a symbol of being a Muslim. If you ask one of these clerics [about it], they say it is an obligation and a religious principle. Look at the writings of Alameh Majlesi and the book of Halieh Al-Motaqin - the book that guided Muslims 1400 years ago. Now imagine that today a Muslim wants to dress like they did then, eat like they used to, act like they used to. Is this Islam?"

    "[The way in which] the religious scholars of previous generations understood and interpreted Islam is not Islam. It was their interpretation of Islam; [however] just as they had the right to interpret the Koran [in their way], we have the same right. Their interpretation of Islam is not an article of faith for us. We must return to the separation of 'core Islam' and 'traditional Islam.' Part of Shari'ati's struggle concerned the interpretation of Islam and how someone who wants to be a Muslim in the 20th and 21st centuries [cannot do so in accordance with] the Islam that prevailed in Mecca and Medina 1400 years ago - [towns] with fewer residents than some of today's smaller Iranian villages."

    Islam Must Suit the Thoughts and Reality of Today
    "The Islam of today is different. It is very clear that we have a different understanding of it in all areas, including economics. It has to suit the thoughts and realities of today… Just as people at the dawn of Islam conversed with the Prophet, we have the right to do this today. Just as they interpreted what was conveyed [to them] at historical junctures, we must do the same. We cannot say: 'Because this is the past we must accept it without question.' This is putting too much emphasis on the past. This is not logical…"

    "For years, young people were afraid to open a Koran. They said, 'We must go ask the Mullahs what the Koran says,' [since] it was used primarily in mosques and cemeteries. The new generation was not allowed to come near the Koran; [young people] were told that [first] they needed [training in] 101 methods of thought and they did not possess them. Consequently, [the young people] feared reading the Koran. Then came Shari'ati, and he told the young people that these ideas were bankrupt; [he said] you could understand the Koran using your own methods - you could understand as well as the religious leaders who claim to have a ton of knowledge. The religious leaders taught that if you understand the Koran on your own, you have committed a crime. They feared that their racket would cease to exist if young people learned [Koran] on their own…"

    The Clerics Have Become a Ruling Class
    "In Islam, we never had a class of clergy; some clerical titles were created as recently as 50 or 60 years ago. Where did we have a clerical class in the Safavid dynasty? [Today's titles for Islamic clergy] are like the Church hierarchy - bishops, cardinals, priests. This type of hierarchy in [contemporary Shi'ite Islam] is an imitation of the Church. [Today], this clerical hierarchy is headed by the Ayatollah Ozma [i.e. the 'Grand Ayatollah']… And a level down you have an ayatollah, Hujjat ul Islam, Thaqqat ul Islam, and so on."

    "In the past few years, [the religious institutions] have become a sort of government institution, and the issue has become more sensitive. Is there anyone in our society who understands the distinction between a Hujjat ul Islam and an Ayatollah?[6] Shari'ati said that in Islam we do not have a class of religious leaders. This is not the 'core Islam.' It is a development of historical Islam, and, fortunately, we have not yet seen [in Iran the establishment of] a single central apparatus based on the ranks of clerical titles. For years, there were many parallel [Marja-e Taqlid] institutions,[7] and each Marja-e Taqlid [Ayatollah Ozma] [Grand Ayatollah] had his own structure."

    "Today, [the ruling clergy] in Iran wants to consolidate all the Ayatollah Ozma organizations under a single rule. (The audience applauds wildly.) Shari'ati said that in Iran, we have never had a true clerical class. This is what they want to do in our country. I doubt whether they will succeed because of our independence and the elements that we have in Shi'ite Islam. The divisions and the hierarchies they wanted to create are Catholic [and not Islamic]… Some of the clergy are so engrossed in what they are trying to do that they start thinking of themselves as icons…"

    A Cleric is Not a Divine Being
    "Shari'ati used to say that the relationship between [the clergy] and the people should be like the relationship between teacher and pupil - not between leader and follower, not between icon and imitator; the people are not monkeys who merely imitate. The pupils understand and react, and they try to expand their own understanding, so that someday they will not need the teacher. The relationship that the fundamentalist religious people [seek] is one of master and follower; the master must always remain master and the follower will always remain follower. This is like shackles around the neck [i.e. eternal slavery]. We must understand that the master is not a holy, divine being, and we cannot grant him that status. They [the Iranian ruling clergy], however, want to exercise total power. Shari'ati did something about it; he told the religious leaders: 'You are not imams, you are not prophets, [you] cannot consider the people a subhuman species.' They are born the same way we all are, their blood is the same color as yours; they are born like you; they issue from their mothers' wombs… They are the same creatures of God that you are…'"

    ...more located on link


      That's a great speech. But it is beyond the understanding of the mullah regime in Iran. I pray for the day mullahs fall in Iran, and it can return to its normal progressive self.