Monday, December 05, 2005

Is this a US or an Islamic Model?

The Speaker of Iran’s Parliament recently said: “The extensive participation of Iraqi people in their elections, and other political and social events is greater than those of many other Arab countries and this is not what they have learned from American but from Islam.” Can he prove this statement though?

Had someone with no or little experience in political issues said this, one would have no problem in dealing with it, as they usually and blatantly say such things. But when someone who is recognized to be a cultured person and knows Islam, reasoning and the meaning of his words says it, then we begin to ponder.

What is happening in Iraq these days, including in his words extensive participation of the Iraqis in elections and other social and political events does in fact not derive from Islam. I say this because the Muslim leaders of the world have not yet agreed on whether elections and people’s votes are necessary or not. In our own Iran these days plenty of words on the subject are exchanged which prove contrary to Parliament Speaker Haddad Adel’s contention. If it were as Adel says, then why were there no such events before the US militarily toppled Saddam’s dictatorship. Or for that matter why is it that there are no elections in other Arab countries, let alone “extensive participation” by their public?

If the purpose of these words is not to glamorize US military occupation of Iraq, then there are other ways to achieve it.

Someone may ask why does Saddam Hussein appear in an Iraqi courtroom with a copy of the Quran under his arm. Is it not because he and thousands others like him believe that by resorting to the Quran they can negate the will of the Iraqi people as demonstrated in their “extensive participation” and votes, and thus rationalize the conditions of the ancient regime? After all, was it not Saddam himself who added the word of the Quran onto the Iraqi flag and did he not justify everything he did, including his attack on neighboring Iran in the name of Islam?

Adel’s assertion also raises another question: If free elections come from Islam, then why is it that in Iran and other Islamic countries we have an appointed body that vets candidates which negates free elections and then presents a second round, which is an undemocratic act that even the Americans did not do in occupied Iraq.

Coming from a teaching background and guiding the country’s Academy of Language and Literature, Haddad Adel could have claimed that if Islam did not wish or was against the elections, the Iraqi people would not have participated in such an “extensive” manner. This would have been in line with ayatollah Sistani’s thoughtful and measured positions. And even if that position was granted to Islam by Adel, then we would be asking why then is Sistani insisting that he does not want the Iranian Islamic Republic model for the people of Iraq.

The reality and truthfulness of the situation is what sheikh Fazlolah Nouri, who ironically is revered today by the leaders of the Islamic Republic, argued a century ago, that Islam is not in agreement with elections in which every person has one vote and where all people are equal. Let’s not go far and accept that elections and the ballot are creations of the West. And if we or the Iraqis are modeling, it is from the West, not the Quran. If they still don’t believe this, then I refer them to history where hundreds of documents show how Islamic clerics have opposed this notion.

What one can argue is that this model does not contradict Islam, and that Islam does not have any principles that deny it the utility of this Western idea. In that case we can then refer to the Iraqi elections and the words and deeds of ayatollah Sistani as supportive examples. Of course there will be some who will continue to argue and they would have asked had the interests of the West not been met, would they still advocate the one-person, one-vote principle?

This reasoning would be out of line when everyone knows today that Iran has great influence in Iraq and over the majority of its Shiite population, which is why US President George Bush has tasked his ambassador to Iraq to talk to Iran about the situation in Iraq. But even if Bush had not done so, the behavior of Afghan and Iraqi groups that support Iran indicates that Iran has appropriately and thoughtfully strived to bring stability to these two neighbors. This is in fact the best reason that it is not against votes and elections.

Americans have a thousand indicators for their claim that the vote and the ballot box are their creations. History supports such claims that since the last two hundred and fifty years and after the French Revolution, the ballot box has been the indicative sign of democracy and pluralism all over the world. Just as history has shown that this America is the only country that has run on this principle since its inception. What other country has such a record? Regardless of whether the US is a “Satan” or Angel, heaven or hell, it is the only country in the world whose constitution begins with “We the people”, and there is no other factor even religion in there. This is why all religions are free there and there is no official religion. And this is why its ballot box has no barrier or limitations.

In contrast to that, Islam has always pursued the principle of allegiance to the leader, who has never been constrained by anything except Islamic laws. He has been the ruler over people’s life and property. This is similar to Afghanistan Loe Jorge. The grouping of the powerful and tribal chiefs, such as our own Expert Assembly, or the House of Lords in the UK. That model may have been useful in those days especially for the East which knew of no other way than force and the sword to find its leaders. But today we have the ballot box, elections and the voice of the people, which are all closer to democracy and are considered modern.

Why even go that far. Take a look at Iranian newspapers published in Iran. They are full of articles opposing democracy, arguing on Islamic grounds. Let’s not forget the words of ayatollahs Mesbah and Janati who explicitly oppose democracy and even call former president Mohammad Khatami secular because he supported democratic principles and democracy.

With that said, by simply looking at what is going on in Iraq, is there any doubt that the events there are based on the democratic model? How can one claim Islam is the driving force for democracy among the Iraqi people?

Just because they dislike America and consider its government bad, they cannot negate reality and facts thereof. As even Adel himself advised a representative in his own house: “why narrate a poem with which we have an issue.”