Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is Mesbah Challenging Khamenei?

By Nader Uskowi

Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the leader of the ultraconservative and fundamentalist faction in the Assembly of Experts, known as “Mesbahieh”, has been delivering major political speeches lately in which he seems to be challenging Ayatollah Khamenei’s position as the country’s supreme leader.

On 24 May, in a speech at Qum’s influential Faizieh Madressa, Iran’s premier Islamic theological seminary, Mesbah said if there were two people equally qualified to be the supreme leader (“Vali Faghih”), the Assembly of Expert must draw a coin to choose the country’s supreme leader [ILNA]. This blogger at first thought he was showing a humorous side, but Mesbah at the end of the speech said the following:

“A person who himself and whose family have stolen from the public treasury, loses his right to be the leader. A person governing on behalf of the [Hidden Imam] must be as innocent as the [Hidden Imam] himself.”

The use of such language, in a formal speech, delivered at Qum’s fabled Faizieh, cannot be underestimated. Islamic Republic’s supreme leader (“Vali Faghih”) is believed to be ruling the country on behalf of Shia’s twelfth imam, Hazrat Mahdi, the Lord of Time, hidden at present only surfacing to lead the global Resurrection.

A week later, Mesbah delivered another speech in the holy city of Mashhad criticizing the inability of the Islamic Republic to fight the growing secularism inside Iran and to demonstrate the necessity for having a supreme leader (“Vali Faghih”) governing the country.

“The reason our society, after thirty years under the Islamic Republic, has not accepted the necessity of Vali Faghih, is the dominant culture, the secularism dominating our society. Our leaders believe that the position of Vali Faghih is a payback given by the public to the clergy for their role during the Islamic revolution.”

More interestingly was a reference to Mesbah as “Imam Mesbah Yazdi” in Wednesday’s online edition of Ansawr News, a site close to the country’s ultraconservative faction. So far, only the late Ayatollah Khomeini has been given the title of an “Imam”, as in Imam Khomeini. Calling Mesbah an Imam could not have been a typo. Ansar News actually explained its use in its article.

“The use of the title of “Imam” for Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has precedence. We have used the title in our history to designate the special position in society by scholars such as Fakhr Razi or Mohammad Qazali.”

Razi was a renowned Islamic legal scholar of the 12th century who was born in Ray, Iran, and is buried in Herat, Afghanistan. Qazali was as renowned Islamic theologian, living in Tus, near Mashhad, in the 11th century. Calling Mesbah an Imam and comparing him to Razi and Qazali have profound implications.

Today, Ansawr News site was taken offline, and when it reappeared later it did not have the article on “Imam Mesbah Yazdi.” Ayatollah Khamenei is reportedly very angry at Mesbah’s recent speeches and the references to him as an imam.

Making matters more complicated, is the public knowledge that Mesbah is the spiritual guide of the sitting president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Anonymous said...

If you really think, there are any rivalities amongst the Clergies in Iran regarding leaderships and etc., then you have failed to understand "Mullahship"

We have a saying, they do it all, but they never burn each others mosque (which is their own) first lesson learned at the "Feyzie"

From time to time one (Clergy) raises to see who is stupid enough to follow, (the stupid goes to prison)and thus another 10 years of calm and harmony..

So my advice, never fall for political rivalry, (no matter where you are) they all have the same interest at the end...

Nahid / Hamburg

Anonymous said...

Nahid, has made a very relevent point. I have been following the Qom politics for a while. A lot of "disagreements" amongst the Mullahs are for domestic consumption and to sow confusion in the public and Iran's foreign enemies. The clergy in Iran is very astute politically and can sell the devil himslef if need be. I however, do think that more the US and Zionists try to pressure Iran, the more the consolidation of the ultra-conservative clergy. During Khomeni's early days both Ayatollah Behesti and Sayed Ali Khamenei who was not an Ayatollah yet were considered "moderates" along with Rafsanjani. The Abadgaran faction of the young firebrands like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and most of the Sepah commanders who earned their spurs during the jange tahmili are more in tune with Mesbah Yazdi. However, when push comes to shove they have always closed ranks.

Nader Uskowi said...

Nahid and Anon,

It is true that the clergy usually closes ranks under pressure, but such observation cannot, and i believe should not, preclude serious analysis of internal divisions and tendencies in the country. The internal politics in any country, Iran not excluded, is important to follow. part, if not most of, the country's "foreign" policy is actually designed to address internal issues, vis-a-vis the opposition and also the internal factions. By the way, this is true everywhere, ruling groups close ranks under pressure, and their foreign policies have internal constituents in mind, and that's why we want to follow politics.

Anonymous said...

if There is division visible, that is ironically a sign of democratization.

When a Reporter asked the Bush regime about racism, they claimed because we talk about it then its OK... same rules applies to Iran, when in Kahrizak something happens, then it must be OK since we talked about it and heads rolled.

There must be oppositions, now visible or invisible, both are healthy signs of social and political developments, considering them as weakness , is being wantonly naive.

I hoope I could get my point across

Nahid / Hamburg