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. http://www.islamfortoday.com/shia.htm
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.