Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Reign of the Ayatollahs

I was reading Shaul Bakhash’s The Reign of the Ayatollahs, when I came across this  passages describing Bani-Sadr’s views on Islamic government. (page 94) . How politicians can delude themselves!

Bani-Sadr’s ideas of Islamic government stemmed from an extreme reaction to all forms of authority, authoritarian figures, and restraints on the individual. His ideal Islamic state is characterized by the absence of formal structures and considerable diffusion of power. In such a state, he  wrote, here will be no concentration of economic, political, or intellectual power, no classes and no dominant  ideology, because “any ideology that becomes official becomes an instrument of power, the opinion of the masses; because authority, in using belief to legitimize itself, will use it as a club.” This structure applies to Islam itself, for “will Islam not become an opiate if you turn it into an instrument of administration?”

 In its foreign policy, an Islamic government will not seek to dominate others, base relations on power, or use the army for offensive purposes. Since the entire community will be engaged in a continuous holy war to achieve  a society of divine unity, all the citizenry will be armed, leading to the disappearance of the military as the instrument of class domination and “the dissolution of the army in the society.” Even clothing will reflect the absence of power relations and serve only a pragmatic function, since “Islam forbids to the individual dress that distinguishes him from others.”

The people will exercise supervision over their leaders through their network of mosques where “the Government of God” will be realized, “for the mosque is a place where no one has the right to give orders to anyone; only God has sovereignty. “ The community will have an imam, or leader; but he will not represent any special class of interest, be idolized, or become the focus of the cult of personality: “good and beloved men must be cherished, but not made absolute.” Rather, leadership itself will become diffused, and each member of the community, through piety and self-discipline, will become an imam. The imamate will thus be “generalized,” all will share in the leadership, “all will become mojtaheds  [jurists] and no one will need to ask his duty from another… Otherwise, religious tyranny will result.