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The following document is the public letter and official resignation of the powerful Ayatollah Taheri of Esfhan City.
Taheri, a very high rank cleric and the Imam of Esfahan, denounces the existing injustices and present his resignation in this unprecedented letter.
* The following is the Translation by BBC Monitoring Services of the letter published in the Norooz Daily of Tehran:
Text of Ayatollah Taheri's letter
BBC Monitoring Source
The Friday prayer leader of Esfahan, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, has resigned in protest against the state of the country, endemic mismanagement and corruption, and what he describes as the broken promises of the revolution. In his resignation letter, Taheri speaks about such problems as "unemployment, inflation and high prices, the hellish gap between poverty and wealth, the deep and daily-growing distance between the classes, the stagnation and decline of national revenue, a sick economy, bureaucratic corruption, desperately weak administrators, the growing flaws in the country's political structure, embezzlement, bribery and addiction, and the failure to find effective solutions". He also complains bitterly about the several-year-long house arrest of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in Qom. In the letter, Taheri makes extensive references to the "club wielders" or the vigilante forces who he says are linked to centres of power and seem to be beyond the reach of the law.
The following is the text of the letter published by Iranian newspaper Norooz web site on 10 July, with the newspaper's own brief introduction: Seyyed Jalaleddin Taheri, the Friday prayer leader of Esfahan, issued a letter yesterday - a copy of which has been put at the disposal of newspapers - in which he has strongly protested against the state of the country, criticized the country's current policies and announced that he is stepping down as the Friday prayer leader of Esfahan.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Praise be to God and prayers and peace on his prophets and messengers, especially the Seal of the prophets and the noblest among them about whom He said: Were it not for you, the universe would never have been created. And prayers on his trustee and successor, Ali, the Lord of the Faithful, and the immaculate imams, and his sons, especially the last [Imam Husayn] with whom God wishes to bestow justice to the same extent as there is injustice on this earth. [Previous paragraph in Arabic]
For a long time now, I have wished to present to the noble and proud nation some briefly-worded remarks.
My intention in writing these pages is by no means to dishearten the dear, patient nation. But I find it impossible to shut my eyes to tangible facts and to watch the people's unbearable pain and suffering; people who see the flowers of virtue being crushed and values and spirituality on the decline.
The Islamic republic is the product of the blessed blood shed by the zealous children of the brave, Muslim nation of Iran and many families are still waiting to receive the bodies of their martyred children [killed in the Iran-Iraq war]. It was established with the promise of a state with the justice of [Imam] Ali, peace be upon him, so that the nation could develop and the country prosper. And, of course, the nation will not prosper and the land will not be reformed other than by this brief phrase of the noble Prophet of Islam: There are two kinds of people in my nation; if they are good, my nation will be good, and, if they are bad, my nation will be bad. He was asked who they are. He said: The religious scholars and the rulers. (Khisal, Vol 1, p 37) [Previous paragraph in Arabic; Taheri gives his Persian translation in the next paragraph]
There are two groups in my nation; if they become good, my nation will be good and, if they become corrupt, Islamic society will be corrupted. They asked, O, Prophet of God, who are these two groups? He graciously said: Religious scholars and rulers.
Republic in principle means a constant changing of the country's officials. And civil society means constant criticism of the state's programmes. And revolution means the provision and fulfilment of the nation's demands. And, unfortunately, the facts today belie all this. [The fulfilment of] the nation's best interest is unlikely and freedom [too], for we can see both of these things in these past years [...] [previous editorial insertion as published]. When I recall the promises and pledges of the early days of the revolution, I tremble like a willow over my faith. I see the sun of my life on its last rays, my flour sifted and my sieve hung back in its place [I am at the end of my days]. But, when I hear that some of the privileged progeny [clerics' sons] and special people, some of whom even don cloaks and turbans, are competing amongst themselves to amass the most wealth and to achieve their own ends, I recall that there are many dervish's cloaks that are best thrown into a fire. The ones who are pillaging the nation's wealth - yes, on behalf of the ones who think that Muslims' public wealth belongs to them and consider the country to be their private, hereditary property, I am drenched in the sweat of shame. If we wanted to destroy a city, we would keep addressing its richest people and they would keep doing immoral things. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
Is this what we pledged in our covenant with the meek?
Woe and alas! A thousand promises and not one kept. This humble servant, who, along with everyone else, played a minute role in the revolution and its continuation, consider myself duty-bound to ask, out of concern and grief, what is to be done about all these shortcomings, all this crookedness, negligence, weakness, poverty and indigence, all these transgressions and problems, all this greed, discrimination and abuse? How many times are we going to repeat the same phrases to the people? How many conferences, sessions and meetings are we going to hold, taking the last crumbs out of the hands of needy people to furnish our aristocratic and opulent tables, bestowing gifts on the chosen few out of the pockets of the nation, imposing the costs of our political, imperial, useless [foreign] trips on the deprived and, in the words of His Eminence the Imam [Khomeyni], on the barefooted. What are we saying?
In the face of all this deviation, abuse and lawlessness, for how long are we going to be negligent and uncaring? Now the Shah and America are not in control of this country for us to be able to blame them for the shortcomings and problems. Why do they not listen to the well-intentioned criticisms? Why do they rarely use the existing talents and minds? Did the noble Prophet and the Great Messenger of Islam, God's peace and blessings upon him, not say: A person who is not concerned about Muslim issues is not a Muslim.
The great tragedy of turning away from religion, despair, unemployment, inflation and high prices, the hellish gap between poverty and wealth, the deep and daily-growing distance between the classes, the stagnation and decline of national revenue, a sick economy, bureaucratic corruption, desperately weak administrators, the growing flaws in the country's political structure, embezzlement, bribery and addiction, and the failure to find effective solutions have grave and tragic consequences, which are all accumulating like a devastating flood behind the dam and threaten the country and the life of the nation at any moment. When the fire begins, it burns absolutely everything.
Empty words and boasts, pretence, violating people's privacy, settling private and political scores, diluting milk with water, contenting oneself with hackneyed phrases, parading past crowds in the streets have so far been unable to reduce the huge mass of problems, to serve as any salve for the aggrieved, to pour any water on the inflamed, to provide a drop to the parched or to serve as bread for the weary. Disregard for the law, the presence of uncivil, unofficial bodies, mafia gangs, incapacitating the Majlis, and the existence of limitless levers [...] [previous editorial insertion as published], unaccountable, unearned, impervious power, foreign policies that are on occasion unsuccessful, visible foundations and invisible economic bodies, unconventional, unofficial jetties [for smuggling goods], unearned privileges, plunder, instigating the brain drain, banning and arresting, unconventional house arrests and detentions, Genghis-like behaviour, acting against the people and the law, isolating thinkers, taking critics into captivity, the unpalatable slaughtering of the press, the illegitimate imprisonment of press people, unjust, irrational, partisan [electoral] supervision and the clerical [...] [previous editorial insertion as published] court, paralysing the government, an undesirable composition on the [...] [previous editorial insertion as published] council, attaching no value to the people, blowing into the trumpet of power, throwing the country to the wind will lead things to an inauspicious end, from the wretchedness of which I seek refuge in the Almighty.
The ones who are astride the unruly camel of power, who are galloping wildly in the political arena, who are climbing the ladder of the people's sanctities and beliefs, who are circumnavigating the mill of leadership, who are crossing the bridge of religion to reach the land of this-worldly possessions, are unfortunately the assisters and encouragers of a bunch of club wielders and a gang of shroud wearers who sharpen the teeth of the crocodile of power and who want to marry the ill-tempered, ugly witch of violence to religion, and to present our sanctities as defiled and contaminated. In other words, society's dregs and fascists who consist of a concoction of ignorance and madness, whose umbilical cords are attached to the centres of power, who are unchecked and unbridled, who are neither reproached by the executors of justice nor reproved by the law, act not just as jurisconsults, but as philosophers and as sheriffs and as rulers and as jurists and as judges! He did what he willed and ruled what he wanted. [Previous sentence in Arabic] Dissolved people [some of the vigilantes in Iran say that they feel "dissolved in the velayat" or dissolved in the religious leadership] who are convinced that yoghurt is black!
And in the beautiful words of the Koran, "Say: `Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?'" [Previous quote in Arabic from the Koran, followed now by Taheri's Persian translation] Say, O Prophet, should I tell you about those people who cause the most harm, those who do evil in this realm and imagine that they are the best people in terms of their deeds!
[They are] Brainless Sha'bans [reference to a rabble-rouser during the Shah's time known as Brainless Sha'ban] of fear and terror who, with their insults and atrocities, brought about the heinous and hideous disgrace at the university dormitory [attack on a Tehran University dormitory in July 1999]; who, with their bovine attacks, ravished universities' pastures; who, with their wicked and shameless assaults ravaged our culture and learning; who, with the serial murders of innocent and defenceless people, obtained God's everlasting curse and the people's eternal hatred. Those who have regarded religion as a game and entertainment, their pride is in worldly pursuits. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
[They are] the very same henchmen of tyranny and the mercenary, unrefined, mad club wielders, with their false ideas and cruel behaviour, who have stained the system's international visage and insulted the Islamic visage of the revolution. Those who God has printed on their hearts and who follow their own whims. [Previous sentence in Arabic] And what is amazing is that, in the court [...] [previous editorial insertion as published] they even said bravo to those wretched slaves. Those who did not rule with what God has sent down are the unjust. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
On the last miles of my life, when I can hear the terrifying footsteps of death, when I hear the thunderbolt, [saying] be ready, God has mercy on you, you have been called upon to depart [previous phrase in Arabic], when I eagerly await being in the presence of the Exalted and my blessed ancestors, I will raise a matter that I should have mentioned at the beginning of my text and ask: On the basis of what logic, account, narrative, verse, convention, religion or politics can the house arrest of a dignified jurisconsult, brave struggler, combatant religious authority, the second in command of the revolution and one of the pillars of the system and the seminary, one of the great jurisconsults and among the country's great personalities be justified? Which jurisconsult and religious authority can match the laudable record and qualifications of His Eminence Ayatollah Montazeri, may his shadow extend?
His Eminence is half the seminary and the seminary is half of Islam. And it was on the basis of his knowledge of this that the late, distinguished leader of the Islamic revolution, Grand Ayatollah Imam Khomeyni, may his dust be sanctified, recommended him for lending weight to the system and the seminary. The unprecedented and unheard of tragedy of the reactionary and inhuman house arrest of a religious authority of his calibre will have evil consequences and come to a reprehensible end. Power can remain with apostasy, but it cannot remain with injustice. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
The honour, dignity and grandeur of the great Shi'i authorities were even respected in the [...] [previous editorial insertion as published] regime.
The impenetrable seminaries have always been the trusty refuges of the people and the great religious authorities have been a strong rope for the nation and the authentic clergy has been the country's fortress and the highway of truth and the rays of virtue, and the life and death of all the jurisconsults, from Kulayni to Khomeyni, have been testimony to this claim.
Oh, oh, how I desire to see him, oh, alas [previous phrase in Arabic] that today we are witnessing the fall of the clergy and the overthrow of religious authorities! Woe and alas that the strong and impenetrable fortress of Shi'i religious authorities has suffered a deadly blow, to the benefit of colonialism, at the hands of the rowdy ones in the arena of politics and the players on the stage of leadership. To God we take our plaint. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
God willing, the noble nation will overlook the shortcomings and oversights that they have noted and put them down to the advanced age and the frail body of this old man who is devoted to them and ceaselessly prays for the nation and the country.
This humble servant obtained permission, in noble Najaf about thirty years ago, from the blessed imam [Khomeyni], the great leader of the revolution, to lead the Friday prayers in Esfahan. But, with the utmost regret, in the current circumstances, I am stepping down as the Friday imam. I flee what I can no longer tolerate. [Previous sentence in Arabic]
Finally, I strongly advise my honourable brothers and sisters to show patience, vigilance and dignity, and I entrust the wronged nation and country to the true master of the velayat, His Holiness the Mahdi [12th Shi'i Imam], may our souls be sacrificed to him, and I press the hands of all the classes [of the nation] as the traditional sign of friendship.
O God of justice and freedom, and O Master of fairness and knowledge, and O Creator of the pen and of thought, bless our parched desert with more of your rain of intelligence, light and mercy, and do not deprive this nation of your grace. O God, bring to the surface the word of truth and make it the highest and refute the word of wrong and make it the lowest. You are capable of everything. We bring our plaint to you. [Previous three sentences in Arabic] [Closing prayers in Arabic omitted]
Esfahan, Seyyed Jalaleddin Taheri, 17 Tir 1381, 26 Rabi al-Thani 1423 [8 July 2002]. "
Norooz web site, Tehran, in Persian 10 Jul 02 pp 1, 2/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC
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