Iran: Editorial criticizes Aghajari's comments on "Islamic Protestantism"
In 1264  the heads of a social movement with an Islamic facade gathered in Behdasht. This gathering had two main items on its agenda:
1. How to reform and save society
2. Discussing religious duties
For 22 days they prayed together in that beautiful plain and every night they recorded their scientific achievements in regard to religion and the reform of society in writing and informed the gathering of the results. From among this crowd, a woman, who evidently was the first woman to have removed her Islamic covering prior to Reza Khan's order, stood up and told the crowd: "I am a woman and Islam does not require heresy by women to be punished by death, but rather that they should be advised and spoken to so that they follow Islam." All of a sudden she removed her Islamic covering and spoke of breaking religious custom; some joined the fracas while others, based on Islamic habits, closed their eyes and yet others stared wide-eyed at that brave woman; a situation of mayhem was created.
That unclean woman turned to the crowd in the middle of the uproar and said: "Have you not come to believe in the changing of Islamic rules? I am your sister and your opinion is allowed for me"!
The declaration of the positions of this group 120 years ago in that religious and pious atmosphere created a wave of anger and hatred among the believers. This may have been the first movement of new ideas and the first appearance of the manifestation of modernism caused by the schemes of the foreigners and created with a precise system and with complicated intelligence and anti-intelligence calculations, in the heart of an Islamic country called Iran. For over a century this modernism became the source of vast corruption in the politics, culture, economy, and legal relations of our society!
The reason that I mentioned Baha'ism as a social movement is because of scientific and sociology definitions of the word movement. We have been faced with this compromised, dependent, and antinational movement that fights against religion, and the likes of this movement, at different junctures in current history in various forms.
Baha'ism was created in the 13th century [the 1800s] as a secular social movement and an act against religion, the clergy, and social traditions, and also as a tool for the imperialists. This movement went so far that by the end of the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi it was able to take over most key positions in the army, government, secret police, and economic arteries of the country!
Today the centre of this movement in the usurper Israel is still a nuisance to the point that limiting the activities of this religion-less group is being protested by America and Israel as an example of human rights violations. What is interesting is that Europe and America refer to Baha'ism as a new religion!
The members of the Baha'i movement, prior to removing their masks and revealing their true faces in Behdasht, presented themselves as true, believing, and committed Muslims. The first fighting and wise clergymen who found them out was Haj Mullah Mohammad Taqi Qazvini, known as Sahid-e Sales and the writer of the Majalis Al-Mottaqin book. He carried out many sacrifices in fighting this corrupt group. In the process of exposing their corruption he gave his life in that fight, and was martyred.
One hundred years after that horrid event, at the height of the fight against the Shah's regime, when the fighters and Mojahedin had suffered many wounds and were withstanding the most extreme tortures in jails, an interesting thing happened in one of the Mashhad prison wards during mass prayers. While the Imam was pronouncing some of the words very thickly and stretching them out, someone complained to him, saying: What is this ridiculous stuff? You told us pray for a couple of years and keep it up and we said fine. You said it is a tactic and we didn't say anything. Now what is this ridiculous stuff! The protesters stopped praying and evidently only three people from that crowd continued with their prayer! A disturbance was started and the question was: What was that all about? Shortly after, in Mehr 1354 [August 1975], a harsh and nasty communique was issued by the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization and it was declared that it was a Marxist and Leninist organization and has nothing to do with Islam and religious teachings! A wave of surprise was created in the organization inside and outside the country. Everyone was asking how an organization that used to present its members as the Mojahedin of God could now be declaring that there is no God in the equation.
The issue of changing religion or, more correctly put, exiting from religion has a 150-year history in our country and there are enough "ism"s and "ist"s for one to run to when leaving Islam.
One of the important issues that Aghajari raised in the Hamedan meeting was the issue of changing religion. He says: "As long as the religion is not reformed and changed, no change and reform will take place in society."
I had thought that in his interview with Nowruz he would take a stance on this issue and explain or deny it. But unfortunately his body is still warm and he didn't realize what he had said. He joked his way through the issue of calling people monkeys and that massive insult to the people! Even though he claimed his remarks had been falsified and distorted he did not say which remarks had been distorted. What is interesting is that IRNA had reported his speech and he didn't make he smallest complaint about the news that had been reported or the way that it had been put together by IRNA! It seems that he accepts the report that has become the cause of protest by the people and the religious scholars!
So what is this change and reform of religion? Which principles and laws do we have to give up so that it would be acceptable to this organizational theorist?
He introduces the new religion as "religious Protestantism."
In order to reach religious Protestantism he stresses three issues:
1. The encroachment of the relationship between the sources of emulation and the emulators
2. Negating the clergy movement as a scientific movement that generously offers the religious teachings to the people p> 3. Declaring all religious teachings as being black, dark, and ancient.
In negating the clergy and opposing it Aghajari uses a violent literature that even the biggest enemies of Islam do not use. Evey time he makes a speech anywhere he insults and slanders the clergy!
So what is this Protestantism? Protestants are one of the three branches of Christianity. The Protestant religion was created by Luther and the followers of religious reforms in the sixteenth century and its followers are in Northern Europe and America. According to Max Weber this religion had a role in the appearance of industrial capitalism.
Aghajari on one hand accuses the clergy of using the model of the Catholic church and on the other hand in introducing the new religion he imitates the Protestant church and prescribes the game that they have had going for the past 300 years in the West and that has now faced them with disastrous waves in culture, rights, and social relations.
He negates a powerful social, political and religious movement that has been the source of immense services in the country and has 1,400-year-old roots. He rejects the religious teachings that are the product of centuries of work, research, and scientific studies with a general unscientific perspective. What does it prove instead?
He says: In the new religion follow the Protestant church and as a source follow Martin Luther and John Calvin! We are in the 21st century now and he tells us to return to the 16th century and calls it a new idea!
His definition of reforming and reforms is not a new argument. I have said many times before that they have presented precise definitions of reforms in the Interior Ministry and are carrying them out and it is the same thing Aghajari is saying. In numerous articles I have asked the Interior Minister to clarify his position in front of this definition and its approaches.
The gentlemen say that reforms mean political development, political development means democratization, democratization means modernization, and modernization also means secularization!
What Mr Aghajari mentions about religious Protestantism and, according to him a new Islam, is the move from modernization to secularization. In the Western world this move was carried out by the Protestants. It was they who expedited the move towards secularism and prepared the grounds for the rule of the atheistic teachings of Marxism, fascism, and liberalism.
The argument for secularization and Islamic Protestantism are not Aghajari's alone. Many have stated them. According to one of the members of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, things that others say from behind a veil and cloak Aghajari says openly.
Even though the secularist movement in Iran is isolated and small, every so often it raises it head as an infected wound on the body of social movements. The people have dealt with the phenomenon medically so far and in removing it through surgery have tried to inflict as little bleeding and harm to society as possible.
The nation will deal with this soon and, even though this group is supported by the foreigners, the current history shows that this will have no effect on the type of resistance by the people.
I hope that just as in explaining the insult to the nation and the sources of emulation Mr Aghajari said: I was joking, he would say the same thing about changing religion, otherwise things will become difficult between the people and him and his friends.
©Copyright 2002, BBC Monitoring Middle East