Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Publish date: January 02 • Printable version    

Reformist cleric disowned by hardliners

Ayatollah Sanei

Iranian hardliners are hard at work discrediting and disowning the prominent figures of the Islamic Republic that have chipped away from the establishment in the post election events to lend their support to the reform movement.

The Society of Qom Seminary Teachers has announced that Ayatollah Sanei “does not have the required criteria to be a Shiite Marja-e Taghlid (a cleric that followers can turn to for advice).

Ayatollah Sanei, along with the deceased Aytollah Montazeri were the most outspoken critics of the regime. Accordingly, his offices in Qom, Mashad and Tehran were attacked by pro-government forces in the last few days.

Ayatollah Sanei, referred to as the reformist cleric, is known for his revisionist and progressive interpretations of religious matters especially regarding women’s rights.

The hardliners of the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers do not in effect have the authority to withdraw Ayatollah Sanei’s status as a Marja-e Taghlid since there is no official body regulating this aspect of the Shiite religion. Clerics reach this status through faith of their followers and confirmation of “two fair and knowledgeable individuals.” They are then expected to continue studies and research in religious matters and to issue relevant announcements called “fatwa” to suggest courses of action regarding situations that develop in the lives of their followers.

Therefore, while the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers has the capacity to approve a cleric’s status as a Marja, it is not authorized to disqualify one.

The Society which was established in 1961 has always supported the far right in the Islamic Republic and is headed by Mohammad Yazdi, former head of the Judiciary.

Ayatollah Sanei is a prominent Shiite scholar who became a cleric with authority to interpret religious matters (Mojtahed) at the age of 22. He was one of the senior members of the judiciary in the first decade of the Islamic Republic and then returned to teaching at the Qom Seminary.

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