Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iranian Grand Ayatollah Casts Doubt On 'Repressive' Leader

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was once a designated successor to Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, at his home in Qom in 2005.
Iranian philosopher, cleric, and activist Mohsen Kadivar has blogged the responses to what he describes as five "fundamental questions" about the legitimacy of Iran's current government. He posed those questions in the form of a dialogue with his former teacher in Qom, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a long-time thorn in the side of the Iranian authorities and a symbol for many of internal opposition to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Here's a rough translation of Kadivar's post:

The first questions the legitimacy of an individual who has lost his capacity for justice and trusteeship. (Editor's note: This is an allusion to the Khomeini principle of velayat-e faqih, or guardianship of the jurists.)

The grand ayatollah responds that, under both Shari'a law and the standard of logic, the loss of such capacities results in the demolition of the principles of velayat-e faqih, spontaneously and without outside impetus. Such an individual's orders are then a result of frustration and he has no legitimacy.

The second question is about how people are obliged to respond to such a person.

The response is that people should reject his legitimacy in a way that exacts the lowest cost and is mindful of peaceful actions.

The third question concerns the commission of any of Shi'a Islam's 11 biggest sins and legitimacy in a position of authority.

The response is that the commission of any of those major sins or any continuance in committing them is the clearest sign of a lack of ability to serve as guardian.

The fourth question concerns attempts by some to cite the protection of the Islamic state to justify suppressing people's efforts to defend their own rights.

The response is that an Islamic state cannot be protected through violence.

The fifth question is about what Shari'a law says are the signs of suppressive guardianship.

The response is that a leader who fails to respect Shari'a law, promotes violence, and rejects the public's demands is a clear sign of oppressive guardianship and that leader is oppressive. The recognition of those signs is the responsibility, firstly, of Islamic jurists (experts in religious law) and, secondly, of ordinary people.

-- translated for RFE/RL by Mazyar Mokfi