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November 02, 2003

Ebadi Reconsidered
Mehdi Yahyanejad  [info|posts]

ebadi_in_painting.jpgOn October 10th, Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for basic human rights in Iran. Ebadi was chosen over 165 competing candidates, among them Pope John Paul II and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

Peace is inherently a political issue, and the choice of Peace Prize winners often carries political statements. Winners are selected by the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee, whose five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament and is distinct from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, which is in charge of the Nobel awards for science. Ebadi was cited for her work as a human rights activist and "conscious Muslim" who sees "no conflict between human rights and Islam" and "has consistently supported non-violence."

Ebadi has a solid track record in defense of human rights. At age 27, she became one of the first female judges under the Pahlavi dynasty (She was not a supporter of that regime). She lost her job after the Revolution since female judges were not allowed under the newly enacted Islamic law. However, she was not discouraged. In the past twenty-five years, she has worked as a lawyer and university lecturer. She has actively promoted women and children's rights and founded the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC). In recent years, she has gotten more involved in political cases. She has defended famous authors such as Abbas Maroufi, editor of Gardoon magazine, and Faraj Sarkuhi, editor of Adineh magazine. She has also represented the family of Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad, who was killed when Tehran University's student dormitories were stormed on July 9, 1999.

Ebadi strongly believes in reforming Islam from within. Instead of rejecting Islamic law, she tries to analyze its contradictions. For example in one of her articles, she points out that based on the Islamic law practiced in Iran, a father who helped his wife abort her unborn child could be jailed for up to six months. If a father killed his grownup child, however, he would not be jailed. (Payment of blood money is required in both cases.) By bringing up these obvious contradictions, Ebadi tries to convince others that Islamic laws need to be reformed based on the current needs of the society.

Even though many Iranians did not know of Ebadi, they reacted with pride and joy to the news of her selection. Although the prize implied the existence of gross human rights violations in Iran, many believed it to also be an indication of the vitality and dynamism of Iranian society. Women in particular were fascinated by the fact that one of them had become the most celebrated Iranian in the world.

Some people welcomed her selection with some restraint (check out the comment section of a post at Jeff Ooi's Screenshots). There are traditional Muslims who believe that Islam and "Western" human rights are not compatible and disagree with what Ebadi advocates. In addition, there are supporters of secularism who believe efforts by Ebadi to make Islamic shariah softer and more tolerable could only postpone the eventual secularization of Islamic societies. They also are shocked by Ebadi's claim that Islam and human rights are compatible and narrate passages from Quran to prove the contradiction between the two.

After receiving the award, Ebadi stated that she would continue her work in defense of human rights and would not become a politician. As a human rights activist, her direct impact remains limited by the political circumstances in Iran, but her symbolic influence does not recognize any boundary. She has already captured the imagination of women in Iran. Many share her belief that the path to democracy lies in improving human rights. Moreover, many Iranians share the Nobel Peace committee's hope that this award can be "an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy" in Iran and in the Muslim world.

Arash Jalali at November 3, 2003 01:44 PM [permalink]:

I personally do not find Ms. Ebadi's views on the reconciliation of Islamic and liberal values acceptable. In fact, I find religion - be it Islam, Christianity of Judaism - inherently incompatible with, and immutable to any liberal system of thought, and any attempt made at making it one would either be misleading the public, or transforming if not "perverting" it into something that cannot simply be called a religion anymore.

To avoid being called a "prolific commenter" (the nice way of saying excessively talkative), I would just like to pose another question regarding Ms. Ebadi and her being awarded the Nobel Prize:

As an Iranian, do you or do you not feel proud of the fact that Ms.Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Prize in peace, and why ?

My answer to this question is "No" and will leave the "why" part for another (hopefully non-"proliferated") comment or maybe even a posting.

saba at November 3, 2003 03:58 PM [permalink]:

you cannot make sb be just you want.she is free to have her own idea about liberty,islam and other issues.we can only be proud of her success.but you cannot expect her to have an idea just like yours.i am proud of her success.

maryam at November 3, 2003 07:03 PM [permalink]:

Mehdi, for heaven's sake!
what did you do to the poor woman's head in that photo! ;)

negar at November 4, 2003 12:41 AM [permalink]:

your post had lots of inspiring links. I particularly found the "children of iran" link very interesting. I agree with your point about Islam and liberal values, but somehow Shirin Ebadi still made me proud that day when she won the prize!

Arash Jalali at November 4, 2003 04:13 AM [permalink]:

I do not intend to make anyone be anything. My question regarding the feelings of pride has nothing to do with her views per se about Islam and democratic values, and the reason I do not feel particularly proud has also nothing to do with her views.

The thing is that although I am glad that she got the recognition that she deserved, I personally, as an Iranian, have no reason whatsoever to be proud of her getting the Nobel Prize. I think there is a clear distinction between a Nobel laureate in science and in peace. I think the reasons for which she was awarded the peace prize makes no room for me as an Iranian to be proud. I cannot think of any contribution this country might have made to her being recognized except for all the hardships, discriminations and anguish it has caused her and which she has stood up against. I cannot be proud of the fact that there is so much injustice and violation of human rights in my country that someone who has reacted to them gets the Nobel Prize in peace. Make no mistake! I am not ashamed of being an Iranian at all, but I do not think this prize warrants any feelings of pride.

SteppenWolf at November 4, 2003 05:29 PM [permalink]:

Important Figures in Iran suffer from inevitable Hypocrisy. No compliance, even hope for fusing Islam and Liberalism. Don't deceive yourselves.

Elnaz at November 4, 2003 05:32 PM [permalink]:

Just a piece of News I read right now in BBC persian.(

Shirin Ebadi is going to represent the family of Zahra Kazemi in court. This is absolutely important. Considering her gained prestige and the international importance of this case this might be "THE" precious opportunity to press the judicial system. Let's see what's going to happen.

A Reader at November 4, 2003 11:53 PM [permalink]:

I am GUESSING that Ms. Ebadi does not believe that democracy and Islam are compatible. She just thinks it helps to express such a belief for a easier transition to a democratic system.

I think it's a good idea to say what you think will help the situation as opposed to say what you think is right. But I don't think telling people that Islam and democracy are compatible helps making things better in Iran

narges at November 5, 2003 06:38 AM [permalink]:

if democracy is a predefined concept then we cannot be so hopeful to its compatibility with Islam.cuz it is not a simple job to make two predefined concepts completely compatible.But if you believe in democracy as what it exactly means then it is not so difficult as it seems to make it compatible with Islam.if democracy is interpreted as it means:demos(people)+cracy(govern) then it is very clear to me that it is obviously compatible with Islam.Malaysia's government and Mahatir Mohammad is an example of practicing both Islam and democracy as a whole.

Hamed at November 5, 2003 07:04 AM [permalink]:

Democracy is compatible with anything, isn't it?

Saeed at November 5, 2003 10:54 AM [permalink]:

liberal system of thought?! How can a system of thought be liberal? Have you every thought about the process of thinking?

Arash, Islam is as liberal as any other system of thinking in a sense that they are all not liberal! The differences between them are their PRINCIPLES nothing else. Islam has its own principles, so did Nietzsche and Russel ... I beleive they didn't call themselves "liberal thinker" and if they did they surely contraticted themselves.

Senior Grad at November 5, 2003 12:40 PM [permalink]:

What are you talking about, Saeed? :->

Arash Jalali at November 5, 2003 01:20 PM [permalink]:

To avoid repetition, comment "proliferation" and eventually boring others, please refer to the first comment made to this posting ( I would specifically like to bring your attention to section No.1 of that comment.

Babak S at November 5, 2003 01:51 PM [permalink]:

The question of compatibility of Islam and democracy is not a purely academic question that could be solved by proposing an algorithm. Islam is a practice, and so is democracy. The concepts of governance in these two practices are totally different, as expressed, say in Khomeini's theory of Velâyat e Faqih (The rule of the Jurist) or the existing Islamic governments in the Arab worlds, or other Islamic countries. There is of course a level of fluidity in both practices, but the essene of each one is known, and predefined, if you wish.

The Bass Voice at November 5, 2003 02:32 PM [permalink]:

Hamed, [counter-]example:

Democracy is not compatible with Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. To be enlightened, search for "mesbah" in this page.

narges at November 6, 2003 07:46 AM [permalink]:

Islam is not equal to ayatollah Khomeini or Arab governments or sth like that.velayat-e faqih,a forged government under the title of islam was only an unsuccessful experience in the way of practicing different kinds of state in Islam world.maybe, if Bazargan stayed on stage,middle east could have experienced a partly democratic-islamic state.

Arash Jalali at November 6, 2003 08:03 AM [permalink]:

"Partly democratic" ? I see! Now, I wonder who's qualified enough to determine how big that "part" should be; the Ayatollah or Mr.Bazargan? I really cannot understand this obsession with forcefully shoving Islam and democracy into a blender, and trying to come up with some odd recipe that could sell itself as a democracy and yet govern as a religious autocracy. Can't we just keep our religions in ours homes and mosques, or better still in our minds and hearts, and let the country be governed by some people who at least do not consider their policies divine dcrees and their criticism a blasphemy?

G.B. Shaw at November 6, 2003 09:51 AM [permalink]:

All great truths begin as blasphemies.

Babak S at November 6, 2003 09:53 AM [permalink]:

See narges, the problem with putting together Islam and Democracy is that its proponents evade, intentionally, from facing what Islam is. That is, in fact, the only way they can make it compatible with democracy: by forgetting its undemocratic past, its undemocratic faces. I'm not saying Islam is "equal" to Khomeini. But isn't it true that each time some nobody like me talks about something in Islam that seems incompatible with Democracy or human rights, s/he is told, by so many, to shut up since s/he doesn't have a degree in Islamic studies? Now, Khomeini not only had the highest possible degree in Islam, but was also a mojtahid with a huge following. So, in a practical sence, he was the face of Islam and what he did/said defines, again in the practical sense, what Islam is.

Senior Grad at November 6, 2003 11:31 AM [permalink]:

The problem I see inherent in Narges's (and many others') argument is simply this. She (and they) claim: This is/was not what "real" Islam is. I have had this argument with my friends, who had religious predilections, back in undergrad years. What *is* the real Islam, then? I would ask them impatiently, only to receive incoherent replies.

In retrospect, I think my best friends back then needed to believe in something, and that thing for them was known by them by one word: Islam. There was some ideal notion of Islam, as a pure idea in a Platonic cave. The only problem was to find what that really is, that is, what the word Islam should signify. Now I believe this is some sort of semantic, rather than philosophical, or even theological problem.

Some solve it by saying that the principles of Islam are all in Koran, but that approach would immediately stumpble upon a lot of problems. For example, it is not mentioned in Koran how to pray, so a minimal history (Sunnah) is needed to make sense of the word "Islam". Aside from it, I assume there are verses in Koran that once taken literally, would not be acceptable either in an absolute sense, or to the common sense of the people of the 21st century. Hence the issue of interpretations.

Which makes me think, the psychological need to stick to a word, althought it is not clear what that word exactly refers to, was not only my youthful friends' need. It was in fact shared by generations of Islamic scholars who wanted to be Muslims, in the "true" sense of the word. They believed they should strive to *discover*, (as opposed to *invent*) what is God's intention by His words in the book He revealed to the Prophet.

And I have nothing more to say at this point, except, could someone give a link to another article in this forum where the issue of the compatibility of Islam with democracy were deeply discussed? Thanks.

Senior Grad at November 6, 2003 11:42 AM [permalink]:

Arash Jalali,

You surely very well know that Islam, the way the word is understood today, cannot be limited to people's private quarters. (What would become of Jihad, AMR BEH MA'ROOF & NAHY AZ MONKAR, to cite some important examples?) Also, the reason why we need to "forcefully" blend Islam and democracy is simple: A large portion of our people, or our politicians, take their values from Islam, one way or another. Islam determines for them what is right and what is wrong. (If they act accordingly is a separate issue.) They are not willing to let go of this value system that is engraved in their minds for another (suspicious) one that easily, UNLESS the latter system can be incorporated in their original value system. In order for it to be incorporated, these two systems must first be *deemed* compatible with each other.

Saeed at November 6, 2003 01:13 PM [permalink]:

Khomeini was among the very few in the history of "Feqh" who came up with his idea of the "rule of the clerics". That shows how big the room is for interpretation. As I discussed in Niyayesh's post, democracy is just a MODEL for governing which is at the PRESENT time the most suitable one. So there is no need to find democratic recepies in a book as universal as Quran. In my understanding, Quran doesn't have a PRO-democratic doctrine nor an ANTI-democratic one.

Quran is a very easy text to read! Read it for yourself and see if it has ANTI democratic doctrine or not. This way, at least you'll have a FAIR opinion about Quran and its position (in my opinion its neutallity) about this issue.

Hitler liked the Ninth of Beethoven to be played in his birthday. I can not imagine him lisetening to:

"...All men will become BROTHERS
Under thy gentle wing.Be embraced, Millions!Take this kiss for ALL the world!
Brothers, surely a loving Father
Dwells above the canopy of stars.Do you sink before him, Millions?
World, do you sense your Creator?
Seek him then beyond the stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars."

It seems that you can interpret the most humane creation of a human being into your darkest fantasies!

junior grad at November 6, 2003 01:47 PM [permalink]:

i have an english translation of a selection of qur'an that i read parts of once in a while. the emphasis on how the sinners will be burned in hell, some of them forever, is, to put it mildly, frightening. it's an easy read all right, but not always a pleasant one.

A Reader at November 6, 2003 01:59 PM [permalink]:

Poor Shirin Ebadi!

The following observation is to me one of the clearest evidences of the inequality of men and women under Islam.

Babak S at November 6, 2003 02:50 PM [permalink]:

A preliminary:

Basic to [the practice or concept of] Democracy is human rights. It follows, in a rather natural [historic] way, from the absence of a supreme leader/jurist, that people of different groupings should have the same, equal, basic human rights. As such, I take this grouping-free equality as an indispensible ingredient of Democracy. Now, women/men is surely one such grouping of people and therefore women should have every basic human right that men do, equally.

Now, a simple question:

In a hypothetical optimal combination of Democracy and Islam, as put forward by proponets of Islamic Democracy, would women have the right to receive the same as men in inheritance (erth), or be compensated equal to men in return for a physical loss (diah)? Or would they be counted inferior to men and recive only half as much as men, according to Sharia? Or perhaps equality of men and women is not considered part of the human rights in an Islamic Democracy?

Hossein at November 6, 2003 03:20 PM [permalink]:

The important difference between Islam and most of other religions is its rules to govern a nation. There is no such a thing in Christianity for example.
If you insist on governing a country based on Islamic rules, there won't be any place for democracy. Some people may not want to practice Islam and since the laws of the country are based on Islam, they are simply breaking the law!
Khomeyni was right. It's not that there is any other way to govern a country as Islam says and not have such a constitution as Islamic Republic has. You may change the supreme leader to a president and change guardian council members to some decent people, instead of conservatives who are members now, but still you cannot say that Hijab is not mandatory or give women the equal rights to men (e.g. in being witness or as Babak said in inheritance).
Set aside atheists having any rights (e.g. having a political party) in such a country!

worth less than a lap top! at November 6, 2003 03:28 PM [permalink]:

And what about non-muslem iranian men who get only one twelfth of the blood money (diah) of a muslem man and respectively non-muslem women get half of that! Basically you can kill a non-muslem woman and pay only $700! Well, these examples are very well compatible with democracy and human rights!

Senior Grad at November 6, 2003 04:55 PM [permalink]:

I admire Babak S's astute and indefatigable arguments for showing the incompatibility of Islam with democratic tenets. After reading his latest comment, it must be obvious to everybody that if you let loose both Islam and Human Rights then one of them will eat the other one alive! So at a theoretical level, Islam, no matter how much you strecth it, cannot match the Human Rights, unless you tear it apart. You cannot have both Islam and Human Righta, but on a *theoretical* level. In practice, that is, if we loosen up our rigid logic a little bit, there may be room for reconciliation! And that may be what we, or a practical man (or woman, like Shirin Ebadi) at least, should do: Sacrificing the logic for the noble cause of lessening the human suffering.

See, no true believer is going to embrace the ideal of Human Rights, if it entails her/his letting go of her/his religious beliefs. We can't persuade Muslims, many of them our relatives and friends, to choose between Islam and Democracy. So maybe we (or practical (wo)men) should just play down the theoretical incompatibility of them? Isn't this just what Ms. Ebadi is doing?

reza at November 6, 2003 08:27 PM [permalink]:

I think democracy more or less says that the law and distribution of power must be determined by the majority's oppinion. The "majority" can be defined in many different and unequivalent ways: Majority of people (every individual has one vote), Majority of families( every family has one vote), Majority of provinces (each province or state has one vote), and so on. (inside a family or province you may have a diffent kind of voting system).

Majority can vote of laws against personal liberties or for Islamic laws. A government is democratic, in my oppinion, if in case of conflict between what people vote for and any other law ( Islamic , human rights or any other thing) the majority's vote is effective.

Senior Grad at November 6, 2003 08:35 PM [permalink]:

There is a problem with my previous comment. It is as if I am saying, Conceal the truth from your friends (which you shouldn't if you're also their friend) just so you can co-exist with them. Well, I myself have never been a "practical man" and am therefore alien to how one such men operate. But when you think about it, it is almost like in other human relationships: Truth plays just a minor role...

In any case, the women and children (since we're talking about Ebadi) who are mistreated in the name of religion could not care less about the theoretical incompatibility of Islam and Human Rights, and if they can get justice by giving lip service to Islam and calling it compatible with Human Rights to appease the authorities in our theocracy, then they would go for it; wouldn't they?

Babak S at November 6, 2003 09:33 PM [permalink]:

Reza: Unfortunately democracy is not just what the word literally means. There is a history to the concept and a lot of practical experience. In the historical context, it has been the result of pulling down an authoritorian rule (pope, king, etc.). The result was that, without someone up there, the rights of the people were up in the air to be decided over by those who had toppled the old rule, and again without the old rule to serve as a reference point these rights were rendered more and more universal, starting from (white) men all the way to all human beings. Human rights is indeed an indispensible part of a democracy as understood in its proper historical meaning. So, no, if a majority of people vote against personal liberties and those votes are turned into a law, the spirit of democracy is abondaned. Democracy is not equal to the dictatorship of majority, no matter how you define the majority.

Senior Grad: You pose a challenging question. Yes, indeed when practicalities come into play, and they always do, it does not matter for a given moment what we think of the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Sufferings of people sit in the foreground and the "theoretical" concerns in the background.

My feeling is that a practical woman/man would be concerned about the time being, about lessening of the sufferings. But then s/he must not, at least publically, enter into the realms of long-term, "theoretical" concerns. I mean, what does Ms. Ebadi care if Islam and democracy are compatible if all she wants is that women or children or her Iranian fellow citizens are treated fairly, now. Why does she think necessary to say so boldly that Islam and democracy are consistent at any rate, and anyone who says otherwise is dead wrong (or something to that effect). If she is only concerned about the practical issues of the present time, she must leave these non-practical issues to the non-practical women/men in the field. She evaded many questions in her many interviews, and the ones on the compatibility of Islam and democracy could have been among them.

My feeling is then, that she is not only concerned about the practical issues, and does not express her views on Islam vs. democracy just as a tactical move.

There is another point there regarding (non-)practicality: step by step in one's efforts to curb violations of human rights, one drifts in a particular direction, which although is not too pressing an issue in the short-run, is vitally important to the future generations in the long-run. True, we cannot know so well what is good or bad in 50 or 100 years to come, but we know what has been bad (or good) in the past 50 or 100 years, and we should do our best to avoid our past problems. IMO, the recurring question of compatibility of Islam and democracy (read elligiblity of Islam to play a vital role in politics) is important in this respect, if nothing else.

Babak S at November 6, 2003 09:57 PM [permalink]:

I just wanted to give some sort of example for what I meant in my previous comment on practicalities.

As reagrds, say, human rights, there are a certain minima that should be satisfied for the problem to have been satisfactorily (to a good extent) ratified. When you talk about women's rights, for instance, it should mean that a woman has the autonomous right to, say, be able to go on a trip as and when she wills. (I know this is not such an important probelm in Iran in the face of other ones, but just for the sake of the example.) The current situation in Iran is as follows: Women are regarded under the protection of their fathers (or some other male gaurdian) until they marry. Then they are under the protection of their husbands, until they get divorced (and you know how), at which time, they will have the right to decide autonomously to, say, go on a trip. All that time before then, they are legally bound to seek permission from their father or husbands, and even then they cannot travel alone. Now one improvement in the civic law in Iran, thanks to Ms. Ebadi's and other activists' efforts, has been the introduction of a set of articles in the marriage documents that when signed by the groom allows the bride to deicde on such things as going on a trip (or choosing where to live, etc.) on her own, without any further need for a permission.

This is an example of a practical improvement in the laws of Iran. But when you think about it, the spirit has not changed at all. Women are still considered inferior and under protection, but if they are lucky enough or ready to stubbornly fight their family's pressures, they might find a husband who is garcious enough to give up his lawful authority on some matters. Now, if one fights for such a law, and be silent on the bigger picture, it's fine. Nah, it's superb! That's what a practical woman/man does: maximizing the benefits—or probably more correct, minimizing the sufferings withing a given setting. But if one fights for that get-around law, and then block the way to a possible change of the settings of the problem by announcing that they need not be changed, then one has unnecessarily nullified other people's efforts to improve things on a grander scheme.

Unfortunately, Ms. Ebadi has done exactly the latter.

Saeed at November 7, 2003 12:24 AM [permalink]:

Well you can have two parallel system of justice to not enforce Islamic laws.
I interpret "La hokmo ella lellah" as such. It doesn't say to enforce it. It's a presentation of facts. If you accept it, for you there is "La hokmo ella lellah". If you don't you look around to find people who write you a nicer law.

This view is, clearly, not what you see in Iran right now and that's where REFORM comes in! The fact is for a society like Iran the copy of democratic system in US doesn't work because our society is very polarized. So it's better to find a way to please every body. The main issue in my view is the issue of Justice System which I believe there are a lot of rooms for reform.

As far as the human right issue is concerned, I agree the on women issue Islamic nations are far behind western countries. However the fact is in west it's not like the women in PARACTICE have the same opportunities as men do. Well they have a good opportunity to go to modeling business or acting if they have nice body. There is a lot of room in porn industry also. But in science and engineering I think they have poorer statistics than Iran has. There are so many factors that have a role. Well you can have in theory the Utopia for women but in practice you might end up with porn industry revolution thanks to internet or legalization of prostitution or ....

A Reader at November 7, 2003 02:00 AM [permalink]:

Babak: If the minority gives sacred names (human rights, liberty,...) to it's oppinion and doesn't let the majority enforce it's oppinion (maybe amputation of the thief), I would call that the real dictatorship.

About the history of civil liberties and democracy: yes, perhaps they have appeared at the same time, but it does not mean they are the same concept. I love them both too, but they are very different.

And certainly civil liberties cause a siciety to grow a lot faster. But it's up to people to accept them.

I think belief in human rights and personal liberties is a religion (my religion too) like Islam, and they have the same relation with the mighty democracy (or democracy almighty). We should not attach our religion to democracy. Democracy is a practical way for a country ( or even a small group of people) to decide the law when people don't agree: The majority rules because no one's oppinion is better than others'.

Babak S at November 7, 2003 02:27 AM [permalink]:

ananymous (reza?): I said what I could to show that democracy and human rights go together and derive from the same root. In fact democracy is nothing but human rights, the biggest of all democracy (the rule of people) itself. There's nothing sacred here. The majority in the game of democracy does not want to impose its opinion to the minority on issues of freedom and rights since each individual is a minority, and no one is safe. It's a collective wisdom. It's a game theory theorem, for which John Nash, the beautiful mind, won a Nobel Prize. I do not deny, however, that there are sensitive issues to be addressed in a democracy but not in most of its basics, though.

Saeed: women's situation in the west might have room for improvement (I may disagree with you what that improvement is, however) but that's not Iran's problem. Iran's problem is that her women are far behind, as you said too, their western counterparts.

I guess I'll stop here. Someone to pick the bat, or was I running alone?! :)

Hossein at November 7, 2003 02:39 AM [permalink]:


Can you present some numbers for your claims?
I'm so doubtful about it. I'll try to do find some myself.

Another thing. I don't understand the Islamic government that allows parallel judicial systems. Isn't it against Islam? Do Muslims and non-Muslims have equal rights?
How do you want to enforce Islamic laws? on who? to what extent?

By the way, what did you mean by "porn industry revolution"? If you mean "sex revolution", those two are completely different things.

Ordak D. Coward at November 7, 2003 04:02 AM [permalink]:
Now that the subject of comments are hovering above the hot topic of Ebadi's claim of "Compatibility of Human Rights and Islam", the Ordak enters: First, it seems to me that people (and not fowl) are talking about many different aspects at the same time, that it makes it difficult discussing all at the same time. Here, I try to give some of my thoughts on each aspect of discussion. (BTW, Ordaks are agnostic by ignorance) A. Compatibility of Human Rights and Islam. Different interprations of each of (i) Compatibility, (ii) Human Rights, and (iii) Islam will definitely lead into many different rationaly acceptable beliefs. Among these, 'Human Rights' is less prone to differing interpretations, as its declaration -- if we take that as the basis of interpretation -- is: - a recent event, - short and relatively concise - relatively clear in language - uses language that has not been changed drastically so far. - The process of its creation is relatively clear, allowing to consult people who were the creators or look at their other manuscripts. Islam and Quran on the other hand have the opposite attributes, - are based on historically far events - Quran is written in Classical Fus-ha Arabic, which is not spoken anymore, though guarded by means of scholars. - is very very complex, most likely has logical incosistencies. (meaning that it cannot be analysed in a strictly logical framework). - its meaning is not clear, even Arabic speakers need to consult a scholar to understand many parts of it. - Process of its creation is one way, there is no other written work of its creator, hence the only way to clarify our understanding of it, we can only use it by itself (not much useful), or to consult people who are claimed they know better than us (prophepts and Imam) To me, just looking at these two (Islam and Human Rights), the question of their compatibility is meaningless -- it is as meaningless as the question of existence of God --. But, I can understand why people claim either way, and justifiably so. People look at each of the two, and the concept of compatibilty in very different ways. To some, the question arises in the context of governance, that is, if it is possible to govern a state while strictly following Islamic laws and Human Rights declaration. Most people say no, and by my own understanding of what Islamic laws mean at the moment this is a justified answer. However, I should mention that it is possible to challenege the meaning of Islamic laws, this is perhaps what Soroush started. (I am not sure on what he did, as I do not understand his articulate language). But the point is that any religion can be challenged by people. In my opinion, a better measure of understaning a religion is by looking at what its adherants do. This leads me to another interpretation of Islam, that makes it much more compatible with Human Rights. That is, if the issue of compatibilty is not that of governance, but of their coexistence as social values, then Islam practiced by majority of Iranian Muslims (as long as they call themselves Muslim, they are one), is quite compatible with Human Rights. I believe Mrs. Ebadi's claim is rendered from this perspective. Strict Islamic laws and texts are not that different from its predecessors (Christinaty and Judaism), but we do not see a big discussion about incompatibility of Human Rights and Catholicism, for example. In fact, Cathlolics had their own ruthless strict governance, which was succesfully cha ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Ordak D. Coward at November 7, 2003 04:14 AM [permalink]:

B. Coexistence of different legal systems.

Saeed suggested the idea of two parallel justice systems. This is in fact, a completely valid suggestion, however not being careful, it can lead into more problems. The reality is that it is inherently incosistent to have two legal system governing the same issues. There should be a hierarchy of legal systems or a separation of the two so they cannot interfere with each other. As an example, consider US, where each state has its own legislature, and the federal government has its own, so far we have 50(?) different legals systems in the same country. However, laws of each state only governs the activities in the state, and also they are inferior to U.S. Constitution. The laws passed by congress also have in some sense priority to the laws of states.

However, I believe currently, it is not possible to do so with an Islamic based legal system, as proponents of Islamic law do not like Islam to be assumed inferior to anything. This sense of superiority is the real obstacle to achieve a multi-legal system.

narges at November 7, 2003 06:01 AM [permalink]:

Babak,there is not any indication to the amount of diah and its difference between men and women in is a legislation invented by clerics in the hope that this law has the most resemblance to the law of heritage.the only financial diffrence between men's and women's rights mentioned in Quran is the nonequal inheritance which is in accordance with this immortal principle of history that man was&is&will be the one who is supposed to be responsible for his family expenditure affairs.Two principles cannot be converted in the world:the one who is expected to earn for the family is man(at least the woman is not expected to do so),and the one who can bear child is woman.These two truth dont let the humanrace see the complete equality point to point, for women and men.
But,please be aware that the religion just mentiones the "Mosts" and the "Leasts".It is very much to the point that inorder to prevent revealing historical and cultural difficulties, religion just determines he "borders".for example it determines the above case on heritage just as a border(maybe a Least limit);one can dedicate all his asset to his daughter for instance.(some times the borders are "leasts"(e.g. poor-rate) and sometimes "mosts"(e.g. polygamy:up to 4 wives for men)).

And what is more,as one of you implied,there is not any special kind of government recommended in Islam,so assuming the compatibility of democracy and islam is not as bizarre as your(you all)posts say.
Any way I'm not insisting on the opinion.It is a possible kind of policy.maybe it will never get the opportunity for being practiced,but it wont deny its possibility(practicability).

Babak S at November 7, 2003 12:56 PM [permalink]:

Narges: "the one who is expected to earn for the family is man(at least the woman is not expected to do so),and the one who can bear child is woman."

Then what about single mothers? Should there be a law then specifically stating that a single mother's blood-money is equal to that of a man. How about a man who is not working, due to some reason (take your pick; addiction, etc.) but the woman is putting bread on the table. This "truth" of yours is only true, it seems to me, if it is forced to be true.

And I can say more... But our words speak for themselves.

Babak S at November 7, 2003 01:11 PM [permalink]:

Addendum: Narges, I believe you are right to some extent: men have probably been the bread-winners back in the cave days of our ancestors. Men would go hunting and women would keep the nest/cave inhabitable. This is just a theory, of course, but it seems to be an accepted one among zoologists. But I should remind you that now we are not living, in our big cities and populated areas, in what we have probably been genetically encoded to live. This simple observation could actually make sense of all our troubles as a society. So, basing the laws and regulations of our socities, which have gone far beyond what evolutioon could have encoded us with, on cave days labour divisions, etc. must be avoided. The rules have changed now, not due to evolution but due to our civilisation.

narges at November 7, 2003 02:17 PM [permalink]:

I assumed the discussion is logical enough that the general situations were considered not the exceptionals you mentioned.furthermore,I myself know that we are in 21th century and you havent to remind me of this big matter how many centuries have passed and no matter how smart and modern you are.we are discussing about the mass not the exceptions.yeah,I know many of those women whose husbands dont work and they have to work to put bread on the table.but no one can generalize it to the mass.I think you are rational enough to get it.I am a woman and I am more familiar with and more sensitive about
women problems ,but it doesnt mean that I go to fight with all rationalities. beside,were they just the cave men who were working having their wives in the cave?certainly I'm not fond of this manner,but I'm simply pointing at the historical evidences.In every era it has been the commonest way of life. nobody can deny the history.

reza at November 7, 2003 04:14 PM [permalink]:

Narges: "you are rational enough to get it"
I guess by your standards I am not rational enough. I don't find it OK to make a law aginst the minority of women who are single moms. Forget about minorities: I don't find it OK to pass a law against those who have 3 eyes.

Babak: "The majority ...does not want to impose its opinion to the minority on issues of freedom and rights ....".

Hopefully. And in the great democracies that are realized now it is more or less true. I am saying what if they want.It's just like what the IR says: People won't want to get rid of Islam. I(we?) am saying the same thing: what if they want.

No one has a right to say what the majority wants. The majority can speak for itself. And please don't weaving game theory to your arguments. It reminds me of mullas weaving philosophy and causality to conclude that they have the right to rule us.

Borzumehr at November 7, 2003 04:29 PM [permalink]:

I just wanted to add a few remarks on the meaning of democracy and its relationship with the 'rule of the majority'. That fortunately is not what is meant by a democracy. Democracy is a system of government in which power can change hands in a non-violent and civilised fashion, and it is accomplished by the 'judgment' of majority in elections held every 4 or 6 (or whatever) years. The difference bewteen majorityif people as judges and as rulers is an important issue. Majority cannot rule, it is not desirable and it is not possible! think of regulating armed forces, of counter intelligence measures... A society can be ruled by only a (small?) group of people with a definite program at every given time. So in election days, people are judging the previous government and in case they decide against it,they are giving the newer one only a 'conditional' free hand, having the guarantee of their ability to judge them in the next election to come.
Liberal values such as equality and human rights or freedom of speech are not directly entailed in the meaning of democracy, but in practice, they are a vital part to ensure that this system continues to work and that no group in power would start to cheat and demolish the opponents under the pretext of having the people's votes (as was done after the revolution in Iran for example) and stop the non-violent fashion of the exchange of power and replace it with ther own hegemony.
Therefore any system of thought that prohibits free speech or equality and other basic human rights, as Islam does, can not be compatible with a practical democratic system of government even if 99.9% of the population be in favor of its adoption in the system of governance!
In short, democracy is different from the dictattorship of the majority.

Saeed at November 7, 2003 06:13 PM [permalink]:

Different Judicial System is certainly a complicated issue. It needs a group of smart and patient educated people representing different parts of Iran to figure out how to implement it. I don't have a specific suggestion. My word is that there is a lot of room for REFORM.

Hossein, I didn't mean "sex revolution". By "porn revolution" I meant something like an industry bigger than fashion industry. This is a statistics I found on the web:

"According to a U.S. News and World Report article, the porn industry recently took in more than $8 billion in one year. More than all revenues generated by rock and country music, more than America spent on Broadway productions, theater, ballet, jazz and classical music combined."

I think if porn industry represents more women than there are in any other kind of job that is something that can be called a revolution. It hasn't happened yet. It will not suprise me if it happens especiially if you note how big the role of MONEY is here. The wave of legal prostitution has already started in New zealand and I have seen debates in TV in US about this issue and how good it is! Or imagine Europe in the next 100 years passing a law to IMPORT babies with high IQs since women don't like to have babies. That will be part of the PRACTICALLITY issue Babak emphasised :)

These were all digressions (might or might not and the factors that will lead to those "mights" in the next 100 years). The important thing is that Iranian women start a fierce battle for their rights as they counterparts did in US and Europe 150 years ago.

reza at November 7, 2003 06:29 PM [permalink]:

Borzumehr: In each case (like the amputation punishment for the thief) who should decide what the law should be? Let's say you and I think that it's wrong, but everybody else in the country thinks it's the best law in the world. Can the majority in a democratic system pass the law according to it's judgement?

Senior Grad at November 7, 2003 08:24 PM [permalink]:

I am going to answer to the last comment, and I may have to go at any moment, so this comment may be just abruptly amputated. :-) No, reza. I don't think even in your hypothetical scenario adhering to democracy means we should make amputating the hand of a thief a law...

Borzumehr at November 7, 2003 10:30 PM [permalink]:

No dear Reza, the majority can't decide on a barbaric or too severe punishment. As I wrote before, the majority acts as a judge to oversee the civilised transfer of power. The laws such as you mentioned must be inside a limit that matches common sense and justice and other human rights. The limits I mean here are very obvious and widely defined so as long as we adhere to our simple understandings of "common sense", there would be no confusion in that regard. Ofcourse the details can be changed from time to time, the majority can make mistakes in their judgments but as long as the process is repeated periodically it will remain in the reasonable limits.Besides we are not discussing in vacuum. There is always past traditions that can be used when they are 'good' enough. The terms all are a bit fuzzy, but there is no escape from that. I would say not even in 'exact' sciences such as physics or mathematics can one escape fuzziness. It's a part of intelligence in general. Actually this turned out to be a good example of why democracy and liberal human rights must go hand in hand in practice for both to be really working.

Hope that helps.

Babak S at November 8, 2003 02:20 AM [permalink]:

Narges: I guess my wording in my Addendum upset you, so I think necessary to emphasise I was genuinely thinking in terms of evolution and in fact answering some of my own questions. "But I should remind you..." could be simply replaced with "we shoud remember..." so if it offended you in any respect, I'm sorry.

Now, you said: "I assumed the discussion is logical enough that the general situations were considered not the exceptionals you mentioned."

I should emphasise that single mothers are not exceptions: their families form about 5% (1 million single mothers+their kids) of the entire population, according to the UN stats in 2001 which is by far more than the total sum of all non-Muslim population of the country (see, for instance population by sex and religion at SCI). I suppose non-Muslims are not considered "exceptions," are they? Even if you called this huge population an exception, I would say that a functional social system (which is just, inclusive, etc.) must necessarily provide the exceptions with full legal support. After all, the individual is the greatest exception of all. The mass, as you put it, at least has the priviledge of being the mass.

Reza: Again a note is due on another "reminder," this time terribly gone wrong. I certainly did not mean to remind you of the Mullahs in Iran; my mention of game theory was along the same lines in my comment there, pointing to the commonsensical nature of the reservation of majority in imposing its opinion on the minority. I guess my tone crossed the line, though. Anyways, my answer, like that of other commenters and as I said before, boils down to the catch phrase "democracy is not equal to the dictatorship of majority."

Saeed at November 8, 2003 05:59 AM [permalink]:

I don't see democracy as the dictatorship of majority and still don't see inconsistency between Islam and democracy. As I said before the reference to Islamic nations for your conclusions is just simplistic. I challenge you guys to come up with references from Quran to suggest ENFORCING God laws on people.

The sentences that might come up are like "obey god and the prophet". If you look, you'll see that it's always the "believers" whom Quran talk to. I already explained the phrase "La hokmo ella lellah" in my other comments.

I again emphasize the fact that Khomeini was among the very few who came up with his idea of "the rule of clerics" and this shows how baseless your argument about the theoretical ANTI-democratic Islam is.

At the practical level, you'll need to STUDY history to see what happened to the "Islamic" nations. By study I mean study as it’s defined in Meriam-Webster: to read in detail especially with the intention of learning, not boldly attacking an Ideology out of your social or sexual frustration in Iran. I see comments like “Therefore any system of thought that prohibits free speech or equality and other basic human rights, as Islam does…” as either SIMPLISTIC view of the problem or a hate comment based on frustrations the commenter had. I think our comment should go much higher than just a hate comment.


Babak S at November 8, 2003 01:38 PM [permalink]:

Okay Saeed, so you think there is no Quranic verse that means enforcing God's rules on people? Here's a quick enquiry:

(1) If the answer to your challenge is 'negative' i.e. there are such verses, then Islam would be in contradiction with democracy, since some of its rulings are anti-human rights, as argued all along in this thread of comments.

(2) If the answer is 'positive' i.e. there are no such verses, as it seems to me you are saying is the case, then what are we disputing? If Islam does not have a social binding on its rules, what is the point in discussing whether or not it is compatible with democracy. Islam would sit only in the hearts of muslims, just like many other beliefs sit in the hearts of their believers in true democracies around the world.

In any case, it would be necessary to separate Islam from the state, at which point the question and its answer are placed outside the realm of influence of democratic social order.

Saeed S at November 8, 2003 02:24 PM [permalink]:

There is no question in my mind about the official separation of mosque and state. This issue has nothing to do with the claim that Islam is in favor of enforcing itself to people.

Still this is separate from the issue of social Islam. Islam is an ideology with apparent social verdicts. You may like it or not. The point is it hasn't said to enforce those social issues on people. I agree that the efforts to show that Islam is a feminist religion or open to feminist values are doomed. This is indeed was not what I was trying to say.

The question of whether you can implement those verdicts for people who like them and not implement it for people who don’t in one single society as complicated as Iran is an open question that needs a lot of efforts, knowledge and patience to be addressed properly. This is indeed what REFORM means: to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action.(Source Meriam Webster)

I hope that we have become closer to a mutual understanding on this issue.

A Reader at November 8, 2003 04:58 PM [permalink]:

Who should determine what the "Common sense" is. You? I don't assume such a right for myself. And the only sensible answer I have ever heard to this question is "The majority"

A Reader at November 8, 2003 05:07 PM [permalink]:

Who decides what is barbaric and what is not? Other than "the majority" I haven't heard any nonselfish answer.

Babak S at November 8, 2003 05:18 PM [permalink]:

Oh, dear! I'm really exhuasted! Yes, I determine what the common sense is, just as much as you do. When I use the word "common sense" I'm projecting myself out to you, in the hope of the existance of a common ground. If you deny that chance, my attempt is failed.

"The Majority," no matter how central its notion is to democracy or what else, does not determine the truth. It can very well go wrong. For instance, does science, the human endeavor most concerned with the discovery of truth of our world, work based on a majority? Of course not. But as long as there isn't a "consensus" on a matter in the scietific community, it cannot be regarded as scientifically true. In fact, in many a case it's a single person that determines the truth, but s/he (or her/his theory, idea, etc.) needs to convince others about its validity, so it has any effect.

So, in sum, the truth, even the common sense, etc. is not determined by "the majority." "The majority" in a democratic setting has only the exclusive right to decide what the team wants to do. These decisions might go wrong and then the majority is given a chance to override and make amends in its past decisions. Democracy is built on the hope/basis that the net result of these decisions is a drift towards a better social life.

A Reader at November 8, 2003 06:42 PM [permalink]:

Babak: I think it is very selfish to be willing to impose your understanding of common sense to a country against the understanding of the majority of people there.

Hearing the words like what you said makes me admire the smallest bits of tolerence in religious people for the first time.

I am exhausted too and frustrated.

Babak S at November 8, 2003 07:22 PM [permalink]:

anonymous: where did I say "I'm willing to impose" my understading? "Convince" is what I said, which is very different from "Impose."

Why does an apple fall? The "common sense" now is that it falls since the earth attracts it towards itself. But how and when did this become "common sense?" Think about Sir Isaac Newton. He answered the question in the way it is perceived as common sense today, and then people were convinced that his answer was true and commonsensical not that of Aristotle's (apple falls since it wants to go to its original place--the Earth). If it was by the ruling of the majority, the common sense would still be satying even before the time of Aristotle, let alone Newton, or Einstein.

I don't really understand the level at which you talk about "the majority." The majority is a variable, both in terms of its composition and its opinion; its opinion changes sometimes very quickly. The majority was in favour of Rafsanjani in two presedential elections in Iran, but then he could not get into the parliament among Tehran's 30 candidates without appealing to the overruling power of the Gaurdian Council. Who is exactly this "majority" you are putting above everything, authorizing it to decide on virtually every aspect of social and individual life? Where does an individual stand in your view? How does "the minority" strive for its rights, in the face of such an almighty majority?

I understand we are both frustrated. Having to write/type our ideas is not helping either. You have labeled me "selfish" a couple of times already. Well, eveyone is and has to be a bit selfish, but the very fact I'm participating in this dialogue is testimony enough that I'm not "selfish," the way you mean it. And be assured I'm very much committed to our dialogue in the hope of a better [mutual] understanding.

A Reader at November 9, 2003 04:34 AM [permalink]:

I truly appreciate your time, Babak, for continuing this lengthy argument. I promise this is the last one I am writing.

I don't claim that the majority knows the truth better than any individual, of course. Borzumehr said that certain things cannot become law even if the majority votes for them because they are against the common sense. I asked: when we are practically writing the law, who should decide what is against common sense other than the majority ( and after all of the convincing process), and you said: I, as well as you.....

An Iranian Student (AIS) at November 10, 2003 06:28 AM [permalink]:

I am not satisfied by Borzumehr's 'neat' definition of democracy or other similar attempts. I think that is the major reason for the debate here. Democracy rose in a cultural framework that aspired for a new look on the world and rejected the traditional authorities. Taking it out of that cultural context, abstracting democracy that way and relating it to a loose term such as 'common sense' is a futile uphill struggle. Of course democracy is based on a rational view point, but that itself is *not* a common feature among all cultures.

Saeed, how can you say Islam and democracy have no conflict?! What is this Islam you're talking about? As I said before Islam has many inconsisitenices, for example the verses in MEcca and Medina (after Muhammad's rejection bhy the Jews, where the hate trend began) are very different. Also it is a fact that for Muhammad himslef conquering Arabia was enough, that's why you cn find the term 'the religion ended this day' (oir something similar,ok?) in the Quran. But after the mass rejection of Islam by common Arabs after his death and the bloody wars that was needed to 'bring' them back, moslems found themselves in a situation in which without war no source of wealth was available anymore. So they took the Church's path and started bringing the whole world back to Islam. So what?
The whole worldview that Islam demands of its followers prohibits free thought and modern values, even if it does not say directly in the Quran that its laws should be 'imposed' on everyone, that would be the *natural* outcome in any society that adopts that worldview.

Saeed S at November 10, 2003 09:36 AM [permalink]:

Dear AIS,

I look at Islam as an ideology. Not what Muslims did in different situations which it should be analyzed by historians. Do you think you could change a barbaric society like Arabia of 1500 years ago by just one click? I also have nice stories about history of Islam which I avoid to tell because history is very complicated and telling a story if you are not a historian doesn't help much. However a book like Quran or "Nahjol-balagheh" is an easy way to get to know the Islam and Shiism. As a Muslim when I talk about Islam I mean the reference to Quran and as a Shiite the reference to “Nahjol-balagheh".

I think if you can't find a reference in the IDEOLOGY of Islam that suggests ENFORCING Islam to people, this means that Islam as an IDEOLOGY (not history!) is indeed in favor of having a society that people freely choose whatever they want. This is indeed what “La ekraha fe ddin" means. This is not in conflict with the fact that Islam has social verdicts. I have explained this issue in some details throughout my comments in this post and previous posts.

This is a natural definition, isn't it? If you want to get to know Nietzsche you go and read his books. You don't look what "gholi" does who incidentally is in love with Nietzsche and talks about him all the time. If you see a sex addict who is in love with Freud you don’t judge poor Freud. You go and read his books. If you want to know music of Beethoven you should not be discouraged by the fact that Hitler or Lenin loved him and you don’t judge his music as “cruel”. You go and listen to his music and make the judgment as YOURSELF. Well you may also read different books ABOUT Beethoven or be open about the radio comments about his music. At the end of the day this is YOU that should listen to his music not one time but many times if you want to “know” his music.

Senior Grad at November 10, 2003 01:10 PM [permalink]:

It is not only history that can be *read* in a variety of mutually inconsistent ways. No, I am not talking about those historians who depict a picture for some ulterior motives, such as being paid and promoted by a certain regime or avoiding persecution and jail by a certain regime. Every text, be it history or a text as complex as that of a scripture (Cf Ordak D. Coward's comment) is subject to different interpretations. I'm not a big fan of French intellectuals, but read this:

"In Derrida's appraisal of theological language, a methodological symmetry exists between theological affirmation and negation, through which a thesis that there is no God outside textuality can be explored, inasmuch as both apophatic and apocalyptic language, for Derrida, are contingent on the same condition of possibility and impossibility, namely différance. Drawing on Derrida's evaluations of textuality, there are several themes that lend themselves to proposals for "theological method" (each with social implications), even if these themes are also a source of theology's impossibility. First, in Derrida's terms, textuality generates the sacred as an effect; second, textuality becoming theology is an effect of desire, disquiet, and uncertainty generated by the trace of différance in textuality; and third, theology as literature maintains a secret of language—that language is language, even when it is theological.

In tracing a 'theological method' through Derrida's textuality, I will isolate three 'theological' factors—faith, meaning, and justice, which are not, however, contingent upon theology. On the contrary, each is possible within iterable textuality. That each might be desired under the name of "God," does not diminish the disquiet that they are inscribed in the trace of nothing or différance, which is also a condition of possibility for inscribing "God" in textuality. This undecidable edge in textuality becoming theology and theology as textuality permeates theological claims. By saying less than theology, however, Derrida says more than theology is able to say."

borzumehr at November 10, 2003 03:21 PM [permalink]:

I don't understand how you guys can deny the fact that there is something called common sense independent of "culture" (as AIS claims) or "majority" (Reza's version)? Yes, there are different cultures with different view points, but still what is rational and common sensical gets accepted in the end by most people. The acceptance of scientifical results by almost everybody is a good example. In "Nineteen Eighy Four" Orwell has his protagonist write something like this : " Two plus two gives four, if that is granted everything else follows". That's exactly what I was trying to convey.

Having been born and grown in Iran, my understanding of what Islam is has been shaped by what I saw and heard. The clergy in Iran, including the reformists, have repeatedly explained that human rights and democracy, the way these terms are understood by the modern world, are not acceptable in Islam. I have no authority on this subject myself, I know little of the details and have not had the time yet to do much independant study of Islam, so if you are convinced that my remark was wrong, you can scratch it out of my comment, no problem.

AIS at November 13, 2003 09:34 AM [permalink]:


Islam is not just an ideology, and you don't get a full picturfe of Islam by just reading the Quran or the Nahjolbalagheh, but EVEN if you only read the Quran it would be OBVIOUSE that it is incomptabile with democracy and human rights. I am amazed by your open denial of facts like that.
Besides your idea of two mutualy opposing judiary systems working simultaniously is hardly more than a joke! You think anyone would prefere to have his hands cut by a mullahs order than be trialled in a civilised court even if it senteced him to serve some months or years in prison?!
Or what will happen if a secular and a moslem have a dispute? Where should they go?! Who's to decide?!!


I didn't deny the exsitance of independent existance of 'common sense' as you claimed. What I m saying is that you cannot depart something like democracy from the historical, moral and cultural context in which it evolved. You need a culture to sustain it, that's what I am saying. By abstracting it like you did, nothing practical can ever be achieved. As an example, using your own definbition of democracy, why should the majority be the judge over the transfer of power? Why not the group of 'wise guys'! :) like the mullahs say, or the 'higher race' as the other mullas in Germany claimed to be? Each "could" be 'right', if you take it away from history and all the other background information that exists and can't be ignored.

Saeed S at November 13, 2003 09:31 PM [permalink]:

Dear AIS, about the parallel judiciary system: I am pretty sure there are at least 10% in the present Iran who will choose the current INTERPRETATION of Islam with open arms! The same 10% who are destroying Iran right now. AIS you got to think more openly about this issue. COMPROMISE is the very spirit of reform. We have to learn it ourselves and teach it to our fellow extremist friends!

You said: "if you only read the Quran it would be OBVIOUS that it is incompatible with democracy" I haven't heard you to come up with evidences for your "obvious" claim. If you read my comments in this post and Niyayesh's post you'll see that I have come up with at least 4 evidences that strongly suggest that Islam is not in favor of enforcing itself on people. The strongest one "La ekraha feddin". Let’s have a new one for you:
If they denied (you Muhammad), (remember) you are only the messenger.

Please understand my argument. I don't claim that Islam is in FAVOR of democracy. My claim is "simple": to my knowledge Islam is not in favor of IMPOSING itself on people.

Please come up with a sentence from Quran that supports the doctrine of ENFORCING itself on people. That will certainly add to my knowledge and you are very welcome to do that. You better study Ali's life to see how tolerant he was and of course you are again welcome to report back when you OBSERVED otherwise!

Sheema Kalbasi at December 6, 2003 12:13 AM [permalink]:

Ms. Ebadi crossed that fine line between political and human rights activism when she started making disappointing political statements some of which are mentioned in my articles or others such as encouraging people to participate in the upcoming Majlis elections, discouraging anti-government demonstrations, praising the current pathetic Majlis for being the shining star and pride of our nation, and comments you usually don't hear from The Human Rights Activists' of the world. The Majlis she praised as the honor of our nation in recent history is the same Majlis that had to shut up and suspend its amendment of the "media bill" on the orders of Rahbare Moazam (the Supreme Leader).

naghmeh rajaee at December 9, 2003 10:27 AM [permalink]:

khanoome ebadi man be onvane yek dokhtar be shoma eftekhar mikonam
hamishe movafagh bashid

Ordak D. Coward at December 10, 2003 04:38 PM [permalink]:

Anybody knows how much of the prize money should be given to the Iranian government as taxes?

Ebadi, being a lawyer and former judge would probably observe the Iranian tax regulations and pays her due taxes (something that most people do not do unless forced to).

Señor Græd at December 10, 2003 05:59 PM [permalink]:


I'm listening to Banan. I couldn't care less about taxes. :-) Try it yourself: