Tag Archives: Iran

The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam)

This book is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Ahmad Moftizadeh, may God have mercy on him, containing a detailed and well-supported biography of the man and detailing his works and beliefs.

As someone whose (Sunni) family spent the late 80’s and most of the 90’s in Iranian Kurdistan, Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani, I have been hearing the names of these two men mentioned with love for as long as I can remember.

I am thankful that such a work was done by someone with a Western background, since the quality of the research is much higher than that of Eastern publications.

The book provides further evidence of the futility of political Islam, something I have been studying for years, beginning with my study of Sayyid Qutb. Both men belong to a class of Islamists who believed that “good and sincere” men would be the perfect men to government a country, ignoring the fatal flaw within this hypothesis; that there is no way to reliably find “good and sincere” men, and once supposedly “good and sincere” men are selected, there is no way to reliably make them continue being good and sincere. You always end up with a limited democracy where all kinds of insincere power-seekers make it through the system and gain power. From the history provided by The Last Mufti and clues elsewhere, it appears that there were many good and sincere men among the Shia leaders of the Iranian revolution, but within ten years the revolutionary government was ruled by some of the worst criminal scum to ever walk this earth.

The critical weakness within political Islam is that for it to work, everything must go perfectly:

  • Nearly everyone involved in the political movement must be sincere and not a power-seeker
  • The current government must respect the Islamists and allow them to peacefully take power, it must not persecute them and assassinate its leaders (Iran, Algeria, Iraqi Kurdistan and Egypt’s experience show just how naive this expectation is.)
  • Most of the country’s Muslims must support them, instead of the party becoming a cause for division and dislike among Muslims, where some people trust the party and others have good reasons not to trust it due to what they know about the party’s leadership and power structure.
  • It must be able to keep its moral integrity and attain success despite facing a thousand dirty tricks played by the opposition, which has no religion and no qualms about using every trick in the book to defeat them. If the opposition makes up lies, sets fire to its establishments, intimidates its members and uses the law to put hurdles in front of them, the Islamists, if they want to continue to following Islam truly, must not counter these with their like.

The conclusion I have reached at the moment is that seeking power is like seeking wealth, and that no God-fearing Muslim or group of Muslims will self-elect themselves to do it. Power corrupts and attracts the corruptible. All Islamist political activism that is aimed at seeking power (such as by winning elections) is inherently un-Islamic because the chances of it doing good are far smaller than the chances of it doing evil:

  • The party can attract good and sincere people, only to have the government imprison and torture them, because the party makes them easy targets, and makes the powers that be uncomfortable. While if they had not acted politically, if they had remained ordinary civilians, they would have attracted dangerous attention far later in their careers, and any persecution would have befallen a far smaller group of people. The Muslim Brotherhood has probably caused the unintentional deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who by today would have had millions of descendants who would be devout Muslim judges, journalists, writers and professionals, doing far more for Islam than the Brotherhood has done.
  • The party causes division among Muslims, because not everyone will want to join them, since people will judge the party by its members, and if they know any of its members to be insincere and corrupt (and the party is bound to attract such members), they will not want to have anything to do with the party. This is a cause for a highly dangerous and corrupting form of division in the community, as is highly evident in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Islamist scene.
  • The party can give Islam a bad name, as Iran’s Shia Islamists, Turkey’s Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood have all done. Any evil they do reflects on Islam.
  • Terrorism is just a continuation of political Islam by other means.
  • When a foreign government wants to interfere with local politics for its own benefit, political groups including Islamist ones, are at the forefront of the tools it will consider using. Examples are Iranian support for Iraqi Kurdish Islamists, Turkish support for Syrian and Chechnian Islamists, Saudi and US support for various Islamists around the world including terrorist ones. The Islamist group can easily be entangled in international power plays and become nothing but a disposable tool that will have support for a while from a foreign entity, until the winds change and the foreign entity abandons them or starts to support their enemies against them.
  • Group think: Every political party eventually builds its own culture of “political correctness”, because there will be members who seek power, and one of the main ways of ensuring an increase in power and avoiding a loss in power is to fit in with everyone else. The least sincere and most toxic individuals will be the most eager to fit in, to create a large set of virtue-signalling behaviors that they follow to show their sincerity and dedication. This will cause others to respond in kind, and soon members of the party can be easily distinguished from the general population by their distinguishing manners, values and forms of speech developed within the party. This culture makes it difficult for sincere members to contribute through constructive criticism, because insincere power-seekers will act that such criticism is defeatist, divisive and harms the interests of the party. The sincerest members can easily become marginalized within the party.

I am not against all Islamic political activism, however. The “good” form of Islamic political activism has one key attribute: It must never seek power. That is the key differentiator. We can criticize governments, we can publish exposés, we can refuse to do any evil the government apparatus asks us to do, we can try to influence politicians in a publicized manner (we must never scheme behind the scenes, as this too is a form of power-seeking, any dealings we have with politicians must be public, such as in the form of open letters, if it has to be secret, it is a way of befriending politicians and gaining power from it, and this causes it to turn into the “bad” type of political Islam), we can do everything we can to improve the world and to reduce tyranny, but none of this must include power-seeking.

This is the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him, while he was under the sovereignty of another power. He spoke the truth, but he never sought power. And his activities eventually made those in power uncomfortable, until they tried to kill him. What he did was not fight back, but immigrate to a different area.

If the Prophet, peace be upon him, had acted like today’s Islamists, using political organization and directly targeting Mecca’s power structure, he would have attracted the murderous attention of Mecca’s pagans far more quickly, perhaps within a few months. But by not doing this, by not being political, he was able to work for 13 years in Mecca. And once it became too dangerous for him to be there, he left for a different place.

Whether political Islam seeks or does not seek power, it will always risk persecution. But the point is that while Islamism spends lives needlessly (attracting murderous persecution quickly), the Prophet’s type of political activism does not spend lives needlessly.

Islamism tries to change the world in a top-down way; we gain power, then we will do good with it. The Prophet’s political activism, on the other hand, tries to change the world in a bottom-up manner; we work with the people and tell the truth, and this causes social and political change down the road.

The Prophet’s way is far more likely to be successful because:

  • It only attracts sincere people. People are not attracted to the movement for power, because it promises no gain in power. This means that like the Prophet’s circle, it will be free from the poisonous personalities that seem to exist in every Islamist party.
  • It does not attract quick and harsh persecution. It may attract it eventually, but it will have far more time to attract devoted followers.
  • It does not create division among the people, because there is no “my Islamist group” vs. “your Islamist group”. All Muslims are treated the same by it.
  • There is no danger of group think, because the group does not seek power. There are fewer insincere people wanting to increase their power and status through virtue-signalling.

At this moment, to me the facts that the power-seeking form of political Islam attracts insincere personalities, creates division and invites harsh persecution are sufficient to consider it a very foolish form of activism. The right way is the Prophet’s way, which is to never seek power, but to work with the people, helping them improve spiritually, while also criticizing tyranny and injustice, knowing that all power comes from God, and if the time is right, He will give it, if He wants.

In Islam, we neither seek wealth nor power. We act as if we already have these, not feeling poor or weak, but criticizing those in power bravely, because we know we are servants of the Most Rich and the Most Powerful. Like the Prophet, peace be upon him, our mission is to live the Quran while not being attached to wealth or power (because by the virtue of being God’s agents, we already have these). The seeking of wealth or power has nothing to do with our mission. Our mission is to be with the people, the poor, the enslaved, the voiceless, to teach them, to help them regain some hope and courage. Like the Prophet, we deal neither with wealth nor power unless these things are freely and openly given to us, in which case we follow his example in dealing with them.

One argument in favor of political Islam that Islamists mention is that Muslims need “organization” to better arrange their affairs. I agree, but we can have all the organization we need without seeking power, therefore this does not justify Islamism.

And if they say that Islamists are needed to protect the interests of the Muslims, the examples of the past century show that Islamists expose Muslims to far more persecution, torture and murder than they would be exposed to without them, therefore no, Muslims do not need this type of poisonous favor. Islamists have shown time and again that they are completely powerless at defending the interests of Muslims. Either they and their friends get imprisoned, tortured and assassinated en masse, or they gain power only to be bombed into oblivion by the latest bully on the world stage. They can say that ideally, if everything goes perfectly, they can do much good. Yes, but things never go ideally. Ideally communism can create great happiness and equality. Realistically, communism always creates police states, purges and starvation. In the same way, realistically, Islamism always creates far more evil than good despite the best intentions of its leaders.

It should be mentioned that Maktab Quran, Moftizadeh’s movement which continues to exist today, does not seek political power. However, it continues to act as something of a party, just not a political one, and this makes it suffer some of the issues Islamist parties suffer from (causing division, attracting persecution, having limited penetration among the population). They would have done much better if they had been nothing but a group of friends with each of them acting independently, becoming leaders in their own communities, and not naming themselves anything. They continue to be highly respected and to do good deeds, as they do not suffer from one important weakness of political parties, which is the promise of power attracting toxic personalities. Their lack of power-seeking ensures that only sincere people are attracted to their group.

Better than Maktab Quran would be a movement that is not a party, but a creed, and that has no organization (or need for one). It is an intellectual movement of educated and dedicated people acting together because they all follow the same creed, similar to a colony of ants which does not have central organization, but whose each part functions in tandem with the parts closest to it. And this already exists to some degree. Throughout the world, millions of Muslim intellectuals are developing a sense of belonging to a “mainstream”, loving its leaders and doing good works in their local communities. A new creed from a new Ghazali could help give direction to them and cure the Muslim world from the misguided, power-seeking form of political Islam.

The author provides the following interesting snippet on life in modern Tehran:

During the government of Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first so-called reformist president of the Islamic Republic, the author was an intern for Iran’s premier private consulting firm in Tehran. The firm’s management was educated and or raised in the West, while the majority of its employees had similar backgrounds, or came from a segment of Iran’s middle class that was educated and relatively progressive in its values. Headscarves were promptly removed in the office, flirting was common among the young employees, and everyone but the valet sipped tea throughout the day during the month of Ramadan. Even though most of these individuals voted for reformist candidates in the Islamic Republic’s elections, they disavowed allegiance to the system, and did not believe religion should play a role in government. For them, “reformism” ideally meant reforming Iran into a modern, Western-style secular country.

Which provides a useful occasion to mention Hawramani’s Law of Regime Change:

Once the values, beliefs and practices of a country’s intelligentsia is significantly out of sync with the values, beliefs and practices of the state, the state experiences accelerating irrelevance that always ends in peaceful or violent regime change.

The Iranian government wants to continue to pretend that it is 1979, that they are here to save the Islamic world, and they justify every evil and injustice through this. If the Iranian government had a motto, it would be “The End Justifies the Means”. This, of course, applies perhaps to all governments in the world. Another law that I can quote here is Hawramani’s Law of Utilitarian Murder:

Once a government has committed a single utilitarian murder1, it has lost the entirety of its moral legitimacy.2

The Iranian government wants to think that it is here to save the world from Israel, thinking that one day God will give them the honor of being the Islamic world’s conquerors and flag-bearers, not admitting that to God, they are just as worthless and evil as the Israeli government. Both of them oppress and murder those under them, Israel does it to the Palestinians, Iran does it to its millions of Sunnis. Both of them torture and assassinate good and innocent people to ensure their own power and survival. Both of them keep and feed armies of bloodthirsty thugs in their secret police and intelligence organizations, for the greater good, of course. Both of them believe that having power over people is far more important than God and the justice and kindness He commands.

Both of them are rebels and outlaws against God, and both of them are on track to obliterated by Him and turned into stories:

Those before them also schemed, but God took their structures from the foundations, so that the roof caved in on them. The punishment came at them from where they did not perceive. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them, and say, “Where are My associates for whose sake you used to dispute?” Those who were given knowledge will say, “Today shame and misery are upon the disbelievers.” Those wronging their souls while the angels are taking them away—they will propose peace: “We did no wrong.” Yes you did. God is aware of what you used to do.”3

Of course, both Iran and Israel will say, “It can’t happen to us! We are the good guys!” like nearly evil evil ruler and government on Earth has done before them. In the meantime, God, the Writer of History, will continue using both Iran and Israel as His tools.

Failing empire barks

/ No Comments on Failing empire barks

How dare a sovereign state develop weapons technology that could prevent the American Empire from subjugating them and turning them into a client state?

For China the cat is out of the bag, so the US has to bark at North Korea and Iran and ask for China’s help in intimidating these countries.

And of course, something has to be done about the Iranian threat. Look how close to our military bases they have put their country:

The Death of False Ideologies

All false ideologies bring about their own destruction. There is no need to worry about feminism, communism, jihadist fundamentalism, and whatever other misguided ism “taking over” the world and becoming the status quo. Each new person subjected to the ideology is also subject to the following equation:

Acceptance of the ideology = coherence of the ideology’s principles with the person’s understanding of the world + the effects of the ideology on the person’s life

False ideologies make at least some arguments, claims and predictions that clash with a person’s understanding of the world. False ideologies also bring about at least some situations in which injustice and evil prevail. And these two serve to distance some people from the ideology, so that they will not take it seriously.

Most false ideologies cannot survive multiple generations of humans. The older generation may have been fertile ground for the growth and practice of the ideology, but the new generation’s response will necessarily be different, if only for the very effects of the ideology itself. The ideology’s success changes the world in which the people live, and thus the new generation grows up in a new world, a world in which the ideology may no longer make sense.

False ideologies spread because of a lack of information, lack of better alternatives, novelty, or geopolitical and economic reasons. But in a world where it is possible to pass down information to the new generation, every day that passes is a new day in which the ideology is challenged by new findings. And in a world ravished by a false ideology, alternatives will necessarily appear better. Geopolitical and economic situations change, and an ideology loses its novelty in a generation or two.

There are those who worry about “true” Islam being lost, among the many misguided sects, and among the many competing ideologies and non-ideologies that abound. Some clever atheists are looking forward to this very thing taking place sooner or later:

They see Islam as an echo of a false and superstitious system and they believe that a day should come when some thing or many things challenge it so hard that it becomes completely impossible to follow the religion with a straight face (as has happened to many Christian sects).

But, assuming for the sake of discussion, that Islam is true (as in everything the Quran says is accurate), it should somehow survive the eternal culling of ideologies. The 20th century was the biggest challenge to Islam, during which it lost many followers and gained many, and the 21st century may be an even bigger challenge (though not necessarily).

If we assume that Islam is true, then the intense challenges it faces are not a bad thing like many preachers and scholars think. They are great news, because it means false versions of Islam will implode sooner or later, and Muslims will slowly, decade by decade, move toward a more unified, more intelligent and more coherent version of Islam. If we bring two different Islamic sects and strip them of their falsehoods, the two may end up as mirrors of each other, and while the older generation may hold on to sectarian divisions, the new generation may see that the two sects are the same for the most part.

An interesting case is that of Shiite Islam in Iran. Iran’s various rulers have used Shiism as a political branding tool to differentiate themselves from the Ottomans and later the Saudis and the Sunni world at large. Shiism shares most of its core with Sunnism, and where it differs, the differences–falsehoods if we assume mainstream Islam is true–were popularized for political branding reasons as mentioned. The modern brand of Shiite Islam achieved supremacy with the 1979 revolution, which is about one generation ago (if we assume a human generation is 28 years), and it is already showing significant signs of weakening and losing heart (hundreds of thousands of people would attend Khumeini’s death anniversaries in Tehran in the past, while now the government has to import attendants from outside the city). One generation has grown up under its supremacy, and many of its members strongly dislike it. Those born to those who dislike the system will also dislike it, since there is little to attract new members to the system, and those born to those who like the system, even if some of them like it, among them many will rise who will dislike it, meaning that about 75% of the second generation may be opposed to the system. The 2020’s will very likely be periods of significant change in Iran.

Apart from religion, another interesting case is feminism, which achieved total political supremacy in the mid-1990’s (of course, feminists will never admit to have achieved supremacy, for the entire ideology is based on the myth of perpetual female victimhood), meaning that 2023 will mark the end of the first generation born and raised under it. Assuming that it is a false ideology, its true test will come after 2023, as the second generation grows up. If it is a false ideology, then it will follow the patterns of the many false ideologies before it, such as Maoism, which achieved supremacy in 1949, and after the end of the first generation in 1977 (the 2023 of feminism and 2007 of Iran’s Shiism), the ideology dissipated and changed so much that it was unrecognizable, and 15 years later (2038 of feminism or 2023 of Iran’s Shiism), China was mostly a capitalist economy with the biggest tenets of the Maoist ideology abandoned.

Back to religion, Christianity started dying hundreds of year ago, though the most significant acceleration of this phenomenon was seen in the 20th century, especially after the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and the rise of feminism. The forces that killed Christianity* are still in effect, so that many children of faithful Christians feel perfectly free to leave the religion. If we call the forces that killed Christianity “modernism” or “post-modernism”, and if we consider modernism’s date of supremacy the same as the date of feminism’s supremacy in the 1990’s, then it should follow the same arc. In 2038 post-modernism may be mostly dead, and its death may enable a new revival of Christianity. However, by then Islam may be a significant player in the West, and it is likely that those who would have gone back to the Christianity of their great-grandfathers will instead embrace Islam, especially if we assume that Islam is true and is an update to Christianity, but even if we don’t.

The new New World Order of 2038 will likely include Islam as the rising star in the West and East above all other ideologies. Christianity and other religions will not necessarily completely die out; there have been Christians, Sabians and Jews living among Muslims in the Middle East for about 15 centuries, and this will likely continue. The version of Islam on that day will not be a Jihadist fundamentalist brainless one, since these ideologies, as false and evil ideologies, cannot survive multiple generations. It will be the version of Islam that has existed for centuries among the devout Muslim middle class everywhere in the world, in Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia and Europe: Just people going about their day doing their best to survive and make the world a better place. They will be doctors, engineers, programmers, writers and singers. Their children will play video games and their women will drive cars and will be respected whether they choose to be housewives or professionals or a bit of both.

But if Islam is a false ideology, the continuing march of science will continue to make it harder to follow with a straight face, and thus it will follow Christianity’s arc of death.

* Though I speak of Christianity’s death, there is a small Christian upper class of intelligent and admirable men who may survive for many centuries to come. “Christianity’s death” refers to the death of its supremacy in the daily affairs of the average man.