Date: Saturday, October 17, 2009
In the Name of God,
To Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamadani,
I am writing this letter to discuss the recent interview you conducted with Maaref radio, which was also broadly cited in Kayhan [newspaper], I would like to amiably clarify certain points, prevent misunderstandings and defend the sanctity of Shi’a marjas. In this interview, you spoke in a way that was not appropriate or considerate of recent events. You also referred to the election and its aftermath and spoke at length about Kahrizak [detention center] as well as its critics. You proclaimed that these critics humiliated the establishment; you also asked them to repent.
Before all else, I affirm that you are one of the brightest instructors at the [Qom] seminary and have a long history of teaching experience. You were also one of the pioneers of the Islamic movement under the leadership of the late Imam and you have gone to great lengths for this, even enduring imprisonment and exile under the previous regime. You are acquainted with serving the revolution. You remained alongside the Imam in its early years, and you undertook certain tasks, like representing the Imam in Hamadan and leading the Friday prayers there. Now you are considered a marja and for all these efforts, god willing, you will be honored.
As you are well aware, throughout history, the great Shi’a scholars and marjas have been considered the trustees of religion, the guardians of justice and equality and a refuge for the oppressed. Moreover, they have issued fatwas and sentences that have always served as a protection for the people during difficult times. They supported the people when governments and rulers attempted to violate civil rights and, through these efforts, they have motivated the public belief in God. They have also defended the territorial integrity of the country.
The Shi’a ayatollahs and scholars are proud of this achievement. They have always fought foreign adversaries, and, in addition, have never bowed to domestic tyrants and oppressors. They have always defended the oppressed and the deprived.
As you well know, when the holy city of Najaf was attacked by outsiders and the late Ayatollah Kazem Yazdi was asked to leave for his own and his family’s safety, he replied: “The people of this city and of this country are my family and I ask for the safety of every last one of them. Mine and my family’s destiny is connected to theirs.”
The history of Shi’a marjas is filled with such stories and we see the greatest examples in the lives of people like Ayatollah Bahrololoum, Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi and Imam Khomeini. We can go on at length about such individuals, in a large book. This is why the people have always remained faithful to them and have sometimes sacrificed their lives for a movement that was rooted in one fatwa or in one sentence given by one ayatollah. For example, a fatwa by the late Mirza Shirazi pertaining to the tobacco trade changed everything. The victory of the Islamic revolution, the fall of the monarchist regime and cutting off the hands of foreign adversaries was rooted in the leadership of Imam Khomeini and the support of the people. This is why the previous regime was so sensitive to his status as a marja.
With great regret, I must declare that your position over the last few years (and particularly after the tenth presidential election) has been far from the one taken by the pure lineage of Shi’a marjas. It has created doubts about the role of shia marjas and may be interpreted as giving a helping hand to powerful rulers. You are certainly clear of such allegations for now, but people may easily make these inferences which, in turn, will weaken their beliefs. I say this because during recent events – which can be considered a great calamity – not only did you fail to remain silent in the debates that took place between the government and the protesters, but you clearly took sides with those who have trodden on people’s rights.
The great Ayatollah [Hamadani] states: according to the law, four people were approved [as candidates] for the recent election and began competing for votes. In this process (and before millions of viewers), one of the candidates made inflammatory comments against the others and against state officials. At the same time, all government property was mobilized to support this one particular candidate – this round-up included many officials themselves. Moreover, the honorable members of the Guardian Council publicly broke the law by voicing their support. In addition, those who organized the election were among the vocal supporters of the very government [in power].As a result, the election process was damaged from the beginning and unprecedented violations took place on voting day. Even in the counting process, many rights were violated. Thus, the other candidates – and the voters themselves – were angered about the fact that their votes had been abused. They hit the streets suddenly and spontaneously, only demanding that their votes be returned. As I’ve said before, no specific political party or group had the ability to bring millions of people to the streets to peacefully demand their votes. It was actually the people who led the politicians. Aligning this movement with foreign adversaries merely provided an excuse for the violent suppression and mass imprisonment of political activists, journalists and friends of the revolution. It also aims to justify the purging of this nation’s youth, which participated in this election with much thought and planning; which put its votes into the ballot box with joy. [The government] spoke of law while easily stepping on it and unlawfully arresting both the populace and political figures. People who had asked for transparent investigations into the election [results] without resorting to harsh statements were attacked by armed military and paramilitary forces. A number of these people were injured and killed while others were imprisoned in illegal detention centers such as Kahrizak. There, they were abused, oppressed and subject to despicable acts that have humiliated and weakened Islam, the revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran to the point where the highest officials have ordered such centers closed and the judiciary is investigating the guilty parties so that some level of prestige may be restored to the establishment.
In the midst of all of this and to my complete astonishment, I see that both in an article in Kayhan, dated October 12th, 2009, and in a meeting with the employees of Maaref Radio, you have declared that “those who have made accusations of election fraud as well as rape in Kahrizak have actually undermined the glory of the revolution … if [they] repent, it might be possible to integrate them [back into the system].” Given your reputation, such statements are astounding. In keeping with a tradition where the marjas have been a refuge for the oppressed, people expect you and others like you to restore their lost rights. A great number of marjas in Qom have attempted to be involved in this way by standing alongside a considerable majority of those who protested the election process. However, the more we reached out to you the more distant you were, until this moment. You have emerged not to condemn the tyrants, but the people. It would have been fitting for you to appoint someone to investigate these claims and to find the truth by directly contacting the victims and reporting to you with real documents. Then, you could have made an announcement based on their findings. You should not have dispensed both with tradition and with all political caution by publicly asking the protesters to repent,
You were one of the pupils of the honorable Imam and the honorable, departed Ayatollah Boroujerdi. You have been at the forefront of the revolution and among the great religious scholars and marjas of the nation. Do you know that your statements would pass as judgments? Based on the holy Sharia laws of the great prophet of Islam and on the religious guidelines of the Imam Sadegh (blessings be upon him) or on your own religious fatwa, is it even possible to make such a confident and final judgment when only one side of the story is known?
I stand on one side of this affair. You are aware of the responsibilities that I bear on behalf of Imam [Khomeini] and the people. You are also aware that I was a faithful follower of the honorable Imam (may the mercy of God be upon him). The second claimant, who was once prime minister and who is also a faithful follower of the Imam, was head of the country’s affairs during the eight years of the holy defence [Iran-Iraq war]. The third candidate was head of the Revolutionary Guards during the holy defence and also has the unique experience of taking part in armed campaigns and operating at highly ranked managerial levels. Wouldn’t it have been better and more consistent with the foundations of holy Islam if you, a marja, had consulted either one of us to hear our side of the story given that you had no access to external data? Maybe this way, people would not have said that some of the great religious scholars are indifferent towards the destiny of ordinary Muslims.
Do not voice your opinions while lacking information so that people can rebuild their trust in the scholars of Islam, who they deem to be safe-keepers of their religion, honor, dignity.
To conclude, I ask God to bestow health upon you and the other Islamic marjas.