July 27, 2009

Mohsen Kadivar- “Black Islam” v. “Green Islam”

Mohsen KadivarWinning doesn’t need chains and arrests!” exclaimed Dr. Mohsen Kadivar to an audience of 200 Iranian Americans at George Mason University in Virginia yesterday.
Dr. Mohsen Kadivar is an Iranian cleric, philosopher, and now a visiting professor of religious studies at Duke University after spending a year at the University of Virginia. In 1999 he became the first intellectual jailed in a crackdown on Iran’s democracy movement. He served 18 months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, refusing to apologize for his ideas, even though that might have earned him an early release.
Kadivar said the current government of Iran is practicing what he called “Black Islam.” In “Black Islam,” the people’s obedience and allegiance to the leaders is important and the rulers abuse religion to advance their own agenda, he said. To them, “votes have no meaning because the decisions made by the Velayat Fagih (guardianship of the jurist) are divine.

Kadivar argued this was not the original meaning of the concept of Velayat Fagih. He noted the use of the word, velayat, which means jurist. They did not use the word vekalat, which means power of the attorney, because all of their actions would have to be done with the permission of the people, he said. Kadivar argued that the choice of the word jurist gives them the power to regulate the affairs of society because “they know better than anyone else.”
Kadivar described the Mousavi’s approach as “Green Islam.”  In “Green Islam,” “The leaders respond and listen to their people, they are the workers, not the people!” Kadivar continued, “The Iranian people are the leaders of their own land and it is a waste when a leader stays in power when the people don’t want him!”
Kadivar proposed the following steps for how people outside Iran can help:
1. Follow the people inside of Iran
2. Do not recognize Ahmadinejad as president
3. Don’t allow members of his government into your country
4. If you do allow them in, then the people should protest
5. Military strikes are not an option
6. Any type of sanction will hurt the people of Iran
Kadivar called the controversial usage of flags during rallies and protests outside of Iran “an insult to the movement.”
As for what Iranians should do, Kadivar was much more vague and philosophical. He directed people “to follow Ayatollah Montazeri. Welcome the good, and discourage the bad,” he said. In practice, this means calling people out when you see them doing wrong, he said.
During the Q &A session, Kadivar was asked about Rafsanjani’s wealth, a source of contempt for many in Iranians inside and out of Iran. “People support Ahmadinejad because of his government handouts, isn’t that better than Rafsanjani who keeps his wealth?” asked an audience member. Although the crowd was skeptical of Kadivar’s claim that “Rafsanjani was wealthy through his pistachio farms well before the revolution,” they nodded in agreement when he pointed out that his wealth helped support the opposition against the shah. “Rafsanjani personally bailed out many people during the 1979 revolution,” he added. But to truly investigate the source and whereabouts of his wealth, Dr. Kadivar advised setting up a people’s court.
You can see his full speech in Farsi here.

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