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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ahmadinejad at the UN

I was very interested in watching President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the United Nations.

His speech was very thoughtful and in a very sermon like form. Before he dealt with his criticisms of those he feels are enemies of Iran in the world, mainly the United States and Israel, he laid out his understanding of Islam which shapes his thinking, as a faithful Muslim.

One could learn a great deal about Islam as one of the great monotheistic faiths, along with Judaism and Christianity by paying attention to what Ahmadinejad had to say. His religious views are conservative and would have parallels in Christianity and Judaism to those who cared to listen.

He is a Shia Muslim who traces the history and legitimacy of Islam through the lineage of the prophet Mohammad and the Imams in contrast to the Sunni Muslims who trace Islam through the Caliphates. Go here for an informative explanation of Islam and the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam.

Ahmaddinejad belongs to a branch of the Shia known as Twelvers. They are waiting for the 12th and last Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Madhi, to return. He disappeared in the ninth century and is believed to be in an estate of occultation. ) Think of a similarity to those Christians who believe in the second coming of Christ.) For some reason the published text of his speech omits the brief reference to Imam Mahdi in his introduction which I clearly heard.

Ahmandinejad laid out in his speech that Man lives in a World under God, as the creator and sustainer of All, all powerful and eternal. Man is called to obedience of God to live in a moral World both in his personal and social/political Life. In this there is a great similarity to Christianity and Judaism with which Islam shares so much. In fact, Islam recognizes Moses (Musa) and Jesus ('Isa) as Prophets, along with many old testament Prophets. (see the list in the article highlighted above). In his speech Ahmandinejad mentioned them both by name.

I hope people, by actually listening to President Ahmandinejad, would hear something about Islam which is not what we are continally assaulted with on the news as terrorists and a threat to the West. Islam has a proud history of civilization and human thought around the World. It has had an influence on Europe, Asian and Africa in particular.

One of the points President Ahmadinejad makes is that the "West" views the Islamic World as inferior and tries to force its values on it and even colonize it, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslims are deeply offended and threatened and do not want ALL that the West has to offer.

We need to listen to this message to answer the question , "Why do they hate us.?" We need to come to understand how to relate to the Muslim world with respect, understanding and humility.

Sadly much of what we think is part of Islam is not. It is either a form of ancient tribalism attached to Islam or a perverse violent misinterpretation of Islamic scripture much in the same way Judaism and Christianity find comparable pervervsions in its midst.

he reality is that there is much more to be shared by the three great montheistic faiths and their cultures, than to be in conflict over. We should be seeking changes in ourselves before demanding changes in others. Sadly, this part of President Ahmadinejad's speech will be largely ignored.


President Admadinejad is not a president like President Bush. He is more like a popularly elected Administrator for the real power in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei. he has no army under his command. He does not have the last word in foreign and domestic policy. And,he is not in charge of Iran's nuclear policy. All of the American ranting about Iran and the "demonized"Ahmadinejad takes on a whole new light when you know this. They are not talking about or to the real power in Iran.

One final note, Ayatollah Khomenei, declared a fatwa against developing nuclear weapons. This means all of the authority he commands is against Iran developing nuclear weapons.


At 7:45 a.m., Blogger possum said...

Bravo, Philip!
A common human problem is listening to what we think we want to hear and not listening to the source with an open mind and open heart.
May I suggest anyone who does not understand the history of Iran and their reaction to the wonderful USA interference in their affairs - I suggest they get a copy of the latest Smithsonian - the one with Stonehenge on the cover. Read the article on Iran's Rage. It is very informative.
The links on understanding Islam are good. There are a number of excellent links available.
Good post!

At 7:15 p.m., Blogger Gretchen said...

There is no way people in the world will listen or even pay attention to his words or yours. Iran is the current boogie man! The Great GW has said so and he knows boogie men very well since he creates them all the time. :(

At 10:02 a.m., Blogger Navigator said...

Your viewpoint appears to proceed on the assumption that "Muslim rage" against the west is justifiable. This is questionable. Aside from anything else, Muslim countries are not democracies and the rage is inflamed by leaders who like to focus the blame for their domestic failures on the alleged sins of foreigners. Gee, where have we seen that in an alleged democracy -- oh yes -- George Bush's America.

Your assumptions also seem to proceed on the basis that only the west engaged in colonialism. Not so. Islam is an imperial religion and much of the world now occupied by that religion was done through military conquest when the the west was still roiling under barbarian tribal warfare.

You are a bit out of date. The Ayatollah Khomenei died several years ago. Which means that the fatwa against nuclear weapons died with him. The current leader in Iran is Ayatollah Khamenei and, to my knowledge, he has not issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

In praising these people you neglect to mention their constant threats to wipe out Israel. You also fail to mention that Sunnis do not consider Shias to be legitimate Muslims and this is the root cause of the peculiar phenomenon of more Muslims than non-Muslims being murdered by other Muslims, despite prohibitions agains this in the Koran. You also negelected to mention the fatwa that the late Khomenei issued against Salman Rushdie, which has caused a legacy of problems in western societies (see the issue over the Jewel of Medina as the latest manifestation of that problem).

I believe in free speech and I believe Ahmadinejad has a perfect right to speak his mind in a public forum. But that doesn't mean that we should simply accept everything he has to say as the gospel truth. There is an active dislike in the west for our political leaders, and probably rightly so, but we should not make the mistake simply because we despise our own people for their lack of honesty that their opponents are all good and truthful.

At 10:13 a.m., Blogger Navigator said...

I like to be correct when I offer comments. It was Khamenei that issued the fatwa against nuclear weapons, in 2005, so you were right about that (although, understandably, you had the wrong Ayatollah), but it would appear that Iran's ruling clerics have now questioned that and issued a later fatwa allowing the use of nuclear weapons. See this link


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