Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari

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Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari
Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari - March 1982 (cropped).jpg
Shariatmadari, March 1982
Title Grand Ayatollah
Born5 January 1906
Died3 April 1986(1986-04-03) (aged 80)
Religion Islam
Ethnicity Iranian
Era Modern history
Creed Usuli Twelver Shia Islam

Sayyid Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari (Persian : محمد کاظم شریعتمداری), also spelled Shariat-Madari (5 January 1906 – 3 April 1986), was an Iranian Grand Ayatollah. He favoured the traditional Shiite practice of keeping clerics away from governmental positions and was a critic of Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, denouncing the taking hostage of diplomats at the US embassy in Tehran. [1] In 1982 he was accused of being part of a plot to bomb Khomeini's home and to overthrow the Islamic state, and he remained under house arrest until his death in 1986. His followers also opposed Ruhollah Khomeini.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

Ruhollah Khomeini 20th-century Iranian religious leader and politician

Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, known in the Western world as Ayatollah Khomeini, was an Iranian politician and marja. He was the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that saw the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the end of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy. Following the revolution, Khomeini became the country's Supreme Leader, a position created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic as the highest-ranking political and religious authority of the nation, which he held until his death. He was succeeded by Ali Khamenei on 4 June 1989.



Early life and education

Born in Tabriz in 1906, Shariatmadari was among the most senior leading Twelver Shia clerics in Iran and Iraq and was known for his forward looking and liberal views. [2] After the death of Supreme and Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi (Marja' Mutlaq) in 1961 he became one of the leading marjas, with followers in Iran, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Kuwait and the southern Persian Gulf states. [3]

Tabriz City in Iran

Tabriz is the most populated city in northwestern Iran, one of the historical capitals of Iran and the present capital of East Azerbaijan province. It is the sixth most populous city in Iran. Located in the Quru River valley, in Iran's historic Azerbaijan region, between long ridges of volcanic cones in the Sahand and Eynali mountains, Tabriz's elevation ranges between 1,350 and 1,600 metres above sea level. The valley opens up into a plain that gently slopes down to the eastern shores of Lake Urmia, 60 kilometres to the west. With cold winters and temperate summers, Tabriz is considered a summer resort. It was named World Carpet Weaving City by the World Crafts Council in October 2015 and Exemplary Tourist City of 2018 by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Twelver Type of Shia Islam

Twelver or Imamiyyah is the largest branch of Shia Islam. The term Twelver refers to its adherents' belief in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams, and their belief that the last Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, lives in occultation and will reappear as the promised Mahdi. According to Shia tradition, the Mahdi's tenure will coincide with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Isa), who is to assist the Mahdi against the Masih ad-Dajjal.

Shia Islam Denomination of Islam which holds that Muhammad designated Ali as his successor and leader (imam), whose adherents form the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain

Shia Islam is one of the two main branches of Islam. It holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and the Imam (leader) after him, most notably at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but was prevented from the caliphate as a result of the incident of Saqifah. This view primarily contrasts with that of Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor and consider Abu Bakr, who they claim was appointed caliph by a small group of Muslims at Saqifah, to be the first rightful caliph after the Prophet.

In 1963, he prevented the Shah from executing Ayatollah Khomeini by recognizing him as a Grand Ayatollah, since according to the Iranian constitution a Marja' could not be executed. Khomeini was exiled instead. As the leading Mujtahid he was the head of Qom's seminary until Khomeini's arrival. [4] He was in favour of the traditional Shiite view of keeping clerics away from governmental positions and a vehement critic of Khomeini. He headed the Centre for Islamic Study and Publications and was the administrator of the Dar al-Tabligh and the Fatima Madrasa in Qom. Following the demonstrations by religious dissidents in Qom the Shah's security forces opened fire and six people were killed. [1] Shariatmadari condemned the killings and called for the return of Ayatollah Khomenei. [1] He congrulated Khomenei's return, sending him a letter on 4 February 1979. [5]

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 20th-century Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Islamic Revolution on 11 February 1979. A close ally of the United States, he tried to use vast oil revenues to generate a rapid industrial, cultural and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms. In reaction religious forces revolted and overthrew him.

The Dar al-Tabligh was a Shiite seminary in Qom. It was established in the mid-1960s by eminent grand ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari and soon emerged as one of the most popular hawza for Iranian and foreign students, with a prolific publishing outlet.

Qom City in Iran

Qom is the seventh metropolis and also the seventh largest city in Iran. Qom is the capital of Qom Province. It is located 140 km to the south of Tehran. At the 2016 census its population was 1,201,158. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River.

Clash with Khomeini

Ruhollah Khomeini and his son Ahmad Khomeini visits Shariatmadari in his home, 1979. Ruhollah and Ahmad Khomeini visiting Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari (2).jpg
Ruhollah Khomeini and his son Ahmad Khomeini visits Shariatmadari in his home, 1979.

Shariatmadari was at odds with Khomeini's interpretation of the concept of the "Leadership of Jurists" (Wilayat al-faqih), according to which clerics may assume political leadership if the current government is found to rule against the interests of the public. Contrary to Khomeini, Shariatmadari adhered to the traditional Twelver Shiite view, according to which the clergy ought to serve society and remain aloof from politics. Furthermore, Shariatmadari strongly believed that no system of government can be coerced upon a people, however morally correct it may be. Instead, people need to be able to freely elect a government. He believed a democratic government where the people administer their own affairs is perfectly compatible with the correct interpretation of the Leadership of the Jurists. [6] Before the revolution, Shariatmadari wanted a return to the system of constitutional monarchy that was enacted in the Iranian Constitution of 1906. [7] He encouraged peaceful demonstrations to avoid bloodshed. [8] According to such a system, the Shah's power was limited and the ruling of the country was mostly in the hands of the people through a parliamentary system. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran, and his allies, however, took the pacifism of clerics such as Shariatmadari as a sign of weakness. The Shah's government declared a ban on Muharram commemorations hoping to stop revolutionary protests. After a series of severe crack downs on the people and the clerics and the killing and arrest of many, Shariatmadari criticized the Shah's government and declared it non-Islamic, tacitly giving support to the revolution hoping that a democracy would be established in Iran. [9]

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

Mourning of Muharram

The Mourning of Muharram is a set of rituals associated with mainly Shia Muslims; however, some Muslims from other sects, as well as some non-Muslims, also take part in the remembrance. The commemoration falls in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Many of the events associated with the ritual take place in congregation halls known as Hussainia.

On 26 November 1979 Shariatmadari denounced the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran. [1] He also criticized Khomeini's system of government as not being compatible with Islam or representing the will of the Iranian people. He severely criticized the way that a referendum was conducted to establish Khomeini's system of government. [10] This led Khomeini to put him under house arrest, imprison his family members and torture his daughters-in-law. This led to mass protests in Tabriz which were quashed toward the end of January 1980, when under the orders of Khomeini tanks and the army moved into the city. Shariatmadari, not wanting an internal civil war or armed fighting and unnecessary killing of fellow Shiites, ordered a stop to the protests.

In April 1982, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was arrested on charges of plotting with military officers and clerics to bomb Khomeini's home and to overthrow the state. Ghotbzadeh denied any intentions on Khomeini's life and claimed he had sought to change the government, not overthrow the Islamic Republic. He, under torture, also implicated Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who, he claimed, had been informed of the plan and had promised funds and his blessings if the scheme succeeded. However, the confession, extracted under torture, did not match with Shariatmadari's character and views as a pacifist. Shariatmadari's son-in-law, who was accused of serving as an intermediary between Ghotbzadeh and the Ayatollah, was sentenced to a prison term and a propaganda campaign was mounted to discredit Shariatmadari. Shariatmadari family members were arrested and tortured. According to a new book containing the memoirs of Mohammad Mohammadi Rayshahri, a leading player in the Iranian government and the head of the Hadith University in Iran, the Ayatollah himself was beaten by Rayshahri. [11] All this forced the aging Ayatollah to go on national television and read out a confession and ask forgiveness from the man he had saved from death two decades ago. Because of his position as a mujtahid, the government could not publicly execute him. His Centre for Islamic Study and Publications was closed and he remained under house arrest until his death in 1986. He is buried in a simple grave in a cemetery in Qom. Clerics were prevented from attending his funeral prayer, drawing criticisms from Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, one of the lead players in the Iranian revolution.

Sadegh Ghotbzadeh Iranian politician

Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was a close aide of Ayatollah Khomeini during his 1978 exile in France, and foreign minister during the Iran hostage crisis following the Iranian Revolution. In 1982, he was executed for allegedly plotting the assassination of Ayatollah Khomeini and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Nikazmerad, Nicholas M. (1980). "A Chronological Survey of the Iranian Revolution". Iranian Studies . 13 (1/4): 327–368. doi:10.1080/00210868008701575. JSTOR   4310346.
  2. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution , Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, pp. xxxiv-xxxv.
  3. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, pp. 63, 88 (describing the system of education and main scholars of Qom just before the revolution).
  4. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, p. 196
  5. Sahimi, Mohammad (3 February 2010). "The Ten Days That Changed Iran". FRONTLINE . Los Angeles: PBS . Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  6. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, p. 154
  7. Kraft, Joseph (18 December 1978). "Letter from Iran". The New Yorker . Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  8. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, pp. 194-202
  9. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, pp. 194-195
  10. Michael M. J. Fischer, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, pp. 221-222
  11. Mohammad Mohammadi Raishahri, Khaterat (Memoire), vol.2