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November 16, 2005

 Women 
Ideological Tyranny in Iranian Women's Studies: A Response to Shahrzad Mojab
Guest Author: Golbarg Bashi

Introduction

parsuabashi.jpg

Courtesy of Parsua Bashi.

As a secular feminist1 I initiated a re-debate over the crisis in Iranian women's studies/activism2 (intertwined) so that our scholarship and activism embraces more lives inside Iran. My major concern today is in gathering the scattered efforts, good-will and resources which we Iranians have an abundance of, and lend a helping hand to the women's and progressive movements inside Iran (regardless of their religious and political convictions). I would like to thank Dr Shahrzad Mojab, Associate Professor and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, in Canada for her contribution in this debate (in Ideological Crisis in Iranian Women's Studies: A Response to Golbarg Bashi, posted on 21 August, 2005). It has helped me strengthen and refine my own position3.

It gives me as much hope in an egalitarian future for Iran in reading Sa'adi Shirazi's poetry as it does reading the writings of Mehrangiz Kar, Dr Mohsen Kadviar and young pacifist and anti-racist Iranian webloggers'. Yet, I do not see theirs or anyone's work as providing all the answers to the ills of humanity, or being in any way sacrosanct and free from criticism (I may even have major objections to their framework). I do not think that any given text, declaration or political manifesto is the 'Holy Grail.'

Discussion

This article is divided into the following sections for easier navigation:

1. Introduction,
2. Discussion,
3. Conclusion,
4. Notes.
5. Footnotes.

Mojab starts her critique of my two essays4 by informing about her own work with women's issues and discussions with women at "grassroots, ministerial, and professional levels" in "Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, and Iraq" (Mojab, 2005). By doing this she signifies that cooperating and working in these nations (even at ministerial level) does not automatically render one a criminal or accomplice with criminal regimes. I refer to Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, and Iraq's abysmal human rights records here, and the label and vote of none-confidence given, by factions of the Iranian exiled groups (incl. Mojab) to Western-based Iranians who do similar research inside Iran and do not dismiss the positive contributions of reformists and Islamic feminists inside Iran under its present theocratic structure.

Having lived for one year in Jordan myself, I know from first-hand observations that sitting around the same table with Jordanian male aristocratic ministers (several of whom I met in June 1999) and working with NGOs in Amman under the gaze of the Jordanian monarch requires much 'negotiations' and 'considerations.' I hope Mojab's tireless efforts can help end hundreds of honour killings alone that occur annually in the Jordanian Kingdom, as much as I hope Shirin Ebadi's among many others' work in Iran, can help end present-day's abuse of innocent young girls and women. I see how these women are working inside political systems they do not necessarily 'represent' or 'back.' They are not 'plotting' or acting as its 'secret agents' for 'negotiating' with its 'ministers and professionals,' they do this for the higher sake of saving and helping human lives.

Mojab claims that my calls for 'dialogue', 'tolerance' and 're-negotiation' in the Iranian women's circles/meetings/conferences as "(neo-)liberal feminist politics" (Mojab, 2005). So, I am still curious to know how Mojab defines "tolerance" and "negotiation" as she works within a liberal democracy (Canada) and also works with Middle Eastern "ancient patriarchal capitalist orders." I would like to know how Mojab explains this inconsistency and contradiction in her arguments and practice?

If "negotiation" (aided with other strategies) is such a shameful and disgraceful act (with aristocrats, patriarchal ministers, Muslim veiled women in Kurdistan and Palestine etc), I would like to ask Mojab if she can show me cases of successful feminisms in successful socialist countries that have worked through a non-negotiated revolution? I would also like to know if "negotiation" does not work, which other avenues do work? I would be grateful if Mojab could give concrete examples of such avenues.

There are indeed countless problems in actually existing liberal democracies but I would like to know what actual Marxist models have been accomplished, and also if Mojab's version of Marxism has been practically implemented anywhere? I am only posing these questions as Mojab suggested that my proposal for an expanded and peaceful Iranian women's movement was an unashamed paternalistic and bourgeois request which has no hope of creating an emancipatory, positive or empowering impact—ever. So I am merely curios if hers which is clearly an all-encompassing political ideology does.

I am much interested to know if which/what women's group or feminists in Iran Mojab is supportive of? Inside Iran, there maybe no movements that fall under her definition of "true feminism" as Iranian activists are mostly either liberal or Islamic or secular Muslim or socialist leftists like Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani5. Does Mojab see my possible reaching out to any of these groups or NGOs as the same as being a neo-liberal, or a criminal or accomplice with a criminal regime? I want to help Iran achieve democracy, and strengthen the Iranian women's and progressive movement, so whom am I allowed to cooperate with, and see as worthy comrades? Should I dismiss religious women or those who work within the current framework all-together? Is there no hope—ever—of finding consensus with this group? Or is forceful conversion to Marxism a tangible possibility?

I would like to see Mojab's approach to democracy, human rights, and women's rights and even Marxism (or is it Maoism?). It occurs to me that she sees democracy and human rights discourse as "liberal bourgeois" constructs and not adequate for helping Iranian women and men as it does not automatically diminish class stands. Yet, I have to remind Mojab that the emancipatory thrust of feminism is rooted in the 18th century European struggle for democracy (Enlightenment). Hence, isn't a peaceful path towards democracy the first step we can take towards liberation, human rights and dignity before we finally achieve our class-free egalitarian society? In Iran we have some popular cultural and religious codes associated with the human rights model. Thus one would think that in view of the country's present violent theocratic state of affairs, striving to peacefully and maybe painfully slowly resonate (not through a violent revolution) Iranian life with a practical human rights model is not such a bad idea.

I think a premature abandonment of the Enlightenment project in feminism6, and in it the human rights discourse in particular is detrimental for women in Iran at this moment in history. The virulence of violence and oppression across the globe "shows no sign of abating ... the language of equal rights ... does nevertheless provide a platform on which to fight some of the worst abuses of human rights7." I hope this does not render us hopeless right-wing neo-liberals in the label-naming and abrupt dismissal game so common in some Iranian circles.

This brings me to ask Mojab if she doesn't agree that even Marx believed that one cannot have socialism without first having a successful liberal democracy and prosperous capitalism (even Lenin after taking power, realised that Russia had to go through a bourgeois stage, hence he pursued NEP before beginning socialist agenda, but Stalin and Mao thought they can jump over that stage by creating a "non-capitalist path" of development to socialism and both of them failed as we can see in Russia and China).

I would hence like to know if Mojab condones the way revolutionaries in Russia and China silenced, harassed, abused, persecuted, and even killed thousands of people, intellectuals, academics and feminists, not just ordinary people, but also members of the Communist Party that did not agree with the "dominant radicals"? How is the behaviour of "regular radicals" in Iranian meetings and conferences different from such tragic historical examples?

I would like to ask Mojab if she sees stormy and constant heckling at meetings and conferences as a successful form of resistance and/or empowering? Constantly breaking conferences in disarray even when we are allowed to have our say, helps no one but our own egos. How can brawling, and insulting be an empancipatory tactic (year after year)? How can bullying fellow human-beings ever be a good thing? If holding a peaceful meeting where we see factions of all Iranian society (even our so-called 'enemies') to discuss various contributions is "undermining Iran's real opposition" (stated before Berlin 2000 by a radical left faction)8, then I see that "real opposition" and its ideological force as a rather weak one. How can allowing and listening to competing view-points, weaken and undermine one's own? This is the very tactic conservative Islamists use in Iran to silence the masses.

Feminists have waged a powerful campaign for women's emancipation precisely because they have used non-violence strategies. As Iranians, I believe we cannot afford to allow violence in our circles9.

I think whatever our common criterion for coalition building or a constructive dialogue is, let's find it, and let's find it soon. I don't care what label it may carry, even if universal human rights is a UN construct and seen by some as a global capitalist cop-out, it can save lives and may be a source for coalition building, there may be other common criterion. I would like to hear about them, hence why I have asked Dr Mojab so many specific questions.

Mojab thinks that "there is no purpose in a 'dialogue,' if there are no consequences for changing the gendered status quo, if you state your point of view and I do mine, what have we achieved? Does not this mean the perpetuation of the status quo? What is the purpose of 'negotiation' if the two sides are unequal, and if it does not lead to a shift in the position of power?" (Mojab, 2005).

I can only wonder why Mojab is so pessimistic about a possible shift in the position of power. Mojab's pessimism disregards people's power and the fact that individuals not structures change history. The very minimum that could be realised from 'dialogue' and 'negotiations' is consciousness-raising and empowerment. It is simply in dialogue not monologue that we can reach a new level of consciousness, a new level of understanding (this is the very detail dismissed by religious fanatics thus resulting in violence and extremism). Dialogue can lead us—individuals—to change our own circumstance instead of waiting for a quick fix, a revolution or a saviour to liberate us. Power shifts not through violence but through dialogue10. So I would like to ask Dr Mojab whether or not individuals should be given the opportunity to strive for diminishing violence?

Conclusion

Meeting fellow Iranian and 'Third world' women from various backgrounds at peaceful meetings has helped me see that none of us are 'winners', 'better' or 'stronger,' we all deal with very similar types of oppressions, which by only sharing and admitting to, can we find peace, forgiveness, love, hope and strength. It is through peaceful meetings and a meaningful 'dialogue' that the process of healing can begin and a shift/re-distribution of 'power' can happen. To me it seems that by belittling and excluding those we perceive as the 'enemy' (veiled women, clerics, reformists, researchers of reformism etc), we are not only perpetuating the enemy's own channels but we create more hate and resentment, and we only put more oil on its vicious cycle.

The reinforcement of the concept of all individuals' worth and dignity, through dialogue at this very juncture in history is helping millions of human beings across the globe, and I would hate to see it abandoned, especially by Iranians. In the meantime, in the progressive Iranian movements, I think we need to meet more often, listen, note, criticise each other while being the very change (peace and none-violence) we desperately seek. I think we are not faced with a, 'You're either with Us, or Against Us' condition in the progressive movements. Let's remember that as I write this paper, women in Iran (and many other countries) are still forcefully married off, trafficked, starved, legally, morally and physically limited and humiliated. Akbar Ganji is being tortured in prison and thousands of reformist students are poor, jailed, harassed and psychologically scarred for life. Now where sits our priorities? Saving them or perpetuating political sectarianism? My primary concern is not regime change in Iran, although I'd love more than anything else for my beloved country of birth (indeed the entire planet) to overnight turn into a gender-equal, egalitarian, democratic, class-free, environmentally friendly, and peaceful state.

With peace.

Golbarg Bashi is a PhD student in Iranian Human Rights Studies at Bristol University in the UK.

Notes

For a list on all the 15 previous contributions to this debate, see below (chronologically):

September 2005

Samira Mohyeddin (English), Pragmatic with patriarchy
Leyla Pegahi (Farsi), in Shabakeh.de
Shadi Amin (Farsi), in Shabakeh.de
Maziar Shirazi (English), Oppression Olympics
Halleh Ghoreyshi (English), Stop the politics of labeling
Forough Nayeri (Farsi), in Iran-Emrooz.net
Golroch Jahangiri (Farsi), in Sedaye-Ma.org
Jamileh Davoudi (Farsi), in Pezhvak.com—September 2005, see p. 12 (PDF) and p. 37 (PDF).

August 2005

Haideh Moghissi (English), About ideological/behavioural crisis in Iranian Women's Studies
Shahrzad Mojab (English), Ideological Crisis in Iranian Women's Studies: A Response to Golbarg Bashi
Golbarg Bashi (English), in 8 Mars.
Hamid Nowzari (Farsi), in Sedaye-Ma.org

July 2005

Azar S (English), not available online.
Vida Kashizadeh (English), Nothing rude about expressing opposing views
Golbarg Bashi (English), Crisis in Iranian Women's Studies and They know best

Please note that the US-based web site dedicated to Iranian women's issues, IranDokht.com have been covering the recent debates extensively, here.

Please also note that some of the essays have been published in more than one web site (such as in Persian Mirror and Iranian Feminist Tribune). I have only cited the web sites that were first to publish the essays and those which have provided the shortest links.


(1) Feminist research or women's studies is a methodological perspective that criticises societal inequalities, with an emphasis on gender disparities. [back]
(2) As observed between 2001 - 2005 in the Iranian Women Studies Foundations' (IWSF) annual conferences. [back]
(3) I am very grateful for the support I have received from many of our Iranian women's studies scholars, especially Nayereh Tohidi, Haideh Moghissi, Valentine Moghadam, Elham Gheytanchi, Halleh Ghoreyshi, Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Nayereh Tavakoli (among others), young Iranian web bloggers and the generous and unconditional space given by Iranian.com, Irandokht.com, Parstimes.com and Gooya News in allowing me and others in expressing our views. I am very grateful to the IWSF board and Ms Golnaz Amin for agreeing to publish the 15 essays that have so far been written in response to some of the questions that I have re-raised, in the form of a book. I am also thankful to Yassamine Mather for patiently organising Pal Talk sessions in the 'Iran Socialist Forum' so that the debate could reach other audiences. I feel very humbled but immensely inspired by these generous acts of good-will and acknowledgment in the Iranian scholarly and activist/web community. [back]
(4) 'Crisis in Iranian Women’s Studies' (posted on "Gooya News on July 15, 2005 and Iranian.com). My second essay: 'Muddy Waters.' [back]
(5) Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani collaborates with liberal and Muslim feminists while never putting aside her critical view of the shortcomings of liberals nor has she failed to be silent against the ultra leftists. Ahmadi Khorasani was born in Tehran in 1969. She completed her education in health and environmental studies at Tehran University, and started her publishing career in 1992. Her articles deal mostly with women's issues, but she has also translated several books for children and young adults. She published Jens-e Dovom [Second Sex] in 1998, a journal that includes articles on literature, history, as well as social and legal matters related to women. For more about Ahmadi Khorasani, see: IranDokht and Making History in Iran: the First Women's Library (both sites accessed on 12 November 2005). [back]
(6) See Benhabib and Cornell (1987) (eds.), Felski 1989, Lovibond 1989, Soper 1989-1990. Cited in Andermahr et al, 1997, p. 65. [back]
(7) Andermahr et al., 1997, p. 65. [back]
(8) For more about the Berlin 2000 conference, see:
BBC News (accessed 12 August 2005)
Iran's Green Party (accessed 5 November 2005)
• Charles Kurzman (2001) 'Critics Within: Islamic Scholars' Protests Against the Islamic State in Iran.' In International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter 2001. p. 352.
Human Rights Watch (Trial for Conference Attendees) (accessed 5 November 2005) [back]
(9) I am indebted to Elham Gheytanchi, feminist sociologist at UCLA in the United States for this illuminating point. [back]
(10) I am again indebted to Elham Gheytanchi for her generous contribution in this question. [back]

Comments
what ever at November 20, 2005 11:34 AM [permalink]:

my dear friend it has been a long time that the iranian women has lost their rights and the main cause is nothing but the manner of the iranian women those young girls who use horrible make up and saunter in the city just for finding a man dont know even what is the meaning of right for women i think that first of all they need a tutor to show them the whole message and infact rebuild a collapsed dpt

Armin Shams at November 21, 2005 12:38 PM [permalink]:

in the name of GOD,

Are men and women equal? Yes and no. They are equally human but they are not exactly the same being to be treated with "exactly" the same rules. It is being human itself that is important, but it is also a fact that women and men are a little different. As far as I have studied, in Gnostic Shia Islam, human soul is sexless and the most important part of us (it is "us" in fact). Sex is like a skirt/trousers for this "us". The number of sex related rules and issues in real Islam is not much when compared to the rules and issues for example regarding honesty or other "more" soul related issues, but most people and a large group of clerics tend to focus on special aspects of Islam more than the other much more important aspects. As a result for example, you see in IRIB that they are much more sensitive to not to show muslim women without scarf, than to stop the torent of "lie"s said by artists in their films and serials.

My suggestion for your research: study Gnostic Shia Islam "from its original sources" and understand the concepts and metaphors used to understand the true Islam. Then, you can Well-understand Quran and do a real research regarding human rights and Islam (at least its most beautiful interpretation I mean: Gnostic Shia Islam).

Arash Jalali at November 21, 2005 05:05 PM [permalink]:

Armin Shams,
What exactly do you consider "real Islam" and which sources are you refering to as "original sources" of Shiism? Can Quran be counted as one of such "original" sources? How about "Nahjul Balaghah"? The last time I checked the former warranted men to beat up their wives whenever they were "disobedient", and asked the Prophet why he has made it "verboten for himself" what Allah had "declared Halal for him" (which according to Shi'ite references, is refering to a little extramarital encounter between the prophet and one of his wives' maids), and in the latter, the prophet's cousine, whose highly dramatised and canonized character forms the very foundation of Shiism, advises men to categorically disregard whatever women might advise them to do even if they advised them to do a good deed, for not listening to women is "better than any other good deed."

One might choose to adopt this as part of his/her faith. One might call that freedom of thought. But to say that Islam, and Shiism in particular, is anything but disrespectful to and discriminating against women can at best be called voluntary ignorance if not perversion of truth.

Armin Shams at November 22, 2005 02:13 PM [permalink]:

in the name of GOD,
Hi,

Understanding Islam is a science that should be learnt. It is not what I can teach you (as far as I know it) in a few lines, but you can have some idea. As far as my little studies alow me to know:

1. AUTHENTIC hadises and Quran should be interpreted according to each other, otherwise you misunderstand Islam. Namely you should know all Quran and at least the important few thousands of hadises and should be able to judge which hadis is probably fake or ill-narrated (at least by understanding the cause behind such hadises and also the related historical currents).

2. The disobediency you mentioned is in case of severe sexual rejection of man by his wife without good reason. We have authentic hadises that say even a slight beating that makes skin red is forbidden. So "the limit" of that beating mentioned in Quran (which is also in a special case and normally for bad women) is not to make the skin red and you know how sensitive women's skin is. If it becomes red, it is a crime which has punishment and "Dieh".

3. Again, according to other hadises you had not mentioned (because maybe you don't know), "the woman you should not even listen to in good things" is "the woman that abuses you by driving you to bad deeds, so you do not even listen to her in good deeds to prevent that and prevent her greed in driving you". It is not an order, but a suggestion of strategy. There is ALSO a clue about this interpretation in the hadis you mentioned itself (at the end of it). Sorry to use strong language, but according to the islamic texts it is quite unlogical and non-scientific to think the hadis has been said about all the women.

4. About what you said in Quran in sooreh tahrim, maybe you want to explain more what's wrong with that. God advises his prophet, and the encounter or what the prophet did after that was not haram (or not even a mistake as far as prophet's knowledge allowed him and before God had said to do otherwise).

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM IS A SCIENCE, SOMETIMES A VERY HARD SCIENCE THAT NEEDS MUCH KNOWLEDGE. PEOPLE ASK QUESTION IN "KHABGAH" OR ... AND DON'T SEEK THE ANSWER ENOUGH AND EASILY JUMP INTO BAD CONCLUSIONS.

Best Wishes

Armin Shams at November 22, 2005 02:43 PM [permalink]:

And let me advertise some of my capabilities (which are not that more important than being tall) if it helps believing more in my last statement or if it encourages further SCIENTIFIC discussions (excuse me):

Being born in a family rich in both non-believers and believers, having many intelligent friends with many questions to refute the religion(s) (specially myself), having an IQ that hit the 160+ cieling of a scientific IQ test and having IQ scores as high as 186 in non-scientific tests, I am more than ready to kick every silly religion with whatever name it comes with, may the name be Islam, Quran, Mohammad, Jesus, Moses, ... . The only thing I cannot easily afford to is being unlogical for more than a few minutes and till now my broad (but little, for a scientist, not lazy Iranians we are) studies point to Gnostic Shia Islam. If I kicked "something" I'll let some others know and if you have the courage and time to study Theology as a science, you are more than welcome to teach me and be taught (I do mean both). Via email or maybe even voice chat.

http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/~shamsbaa

Foozool Khan at November 22, 2005 03:03 PM [permalink]:

In the name of evil, which was created by that same famous god:

Some how some religions are as arficial as arficial intelligence. Derrida used to refer to them as constructs.

Az Malakoot at November 22, 2005 07:07 PM [permalink]:

ز درس فقه چه آموختند؟
اين ابيات نزاری قهستانی شب مرا ساختند:

جهان خراب شد از عالمان وقف تراش
برو نزاری و جز در لباس جهل مباش
در اين مزارع دنيا به هرزه دانه‌ی عمر
به اعتماد بر اندر زمين شوره‌ مپاش
خرد به وعظ منافق چه التفات کند
طبيب عقل به بيهوش کی دهد خشخاش؟
فساد و منکر اهل صلاح تا حدی است
که آفرين و ثنا واجب است بر اوباش
ز درس فقه چه آموختند جز سالوس؟
ز علم و فضل چه اندوختند جز پرخاش؟
ز دوک پيره زنان می‌دهد ترازِ لباس
ز شام بی‌پدران می‌نهد وجوه معاش

و آهی بلند و دراز و سوزناک! همين!

Bandeyeh khoda at November 23, 2005 12:59 AM [permalink]:

Dear Armin,

Your mentioning of your IQ is in my view a demonstration of a low EQ (emotional intelligence quotient). If you look at the authors in this website many can claim IQs and accomplishments beyond your wildest dreams, but few use that to reinforce their arguments. Unfortunately, in my experience there is little correlation between scientific prowess and societal intelligence. Any religion that allows women to be beaten is barbaric. Please spare us the red skin issues. May your god give you more humility and a mirror so you can look at yourself in the morning before writing these comments and rid us of those who claim to be his representatives on earth. Amen

Armin Shams at November 23, 2005 09:39 PM [permalink]:

Hi,

You forgot that the woman to be SLIGHTLY beaten has done something bad without good reason that can have worse outcomes if continued. If one do not believe in being even a little hard on women (or men) in some special cases, half of the society should never be punished (e.g. prison is very harsh).

Mentioning IQ is hard for those who think it is very important. Not for me. And I know people who visit this site, don't worry. And to let your dreams go further, a person with an IQ of 180 in Wechsler scale is found one among 18'457'107, which means there should not probably be more than four of them among Iranians, who may not have the accomplishments you suppose at all. Average IQ of Nobel Prize winners is estimated to be 155-165. And the wildest dreams of a normal person is beyond all the achievements of Technology.

Bandeyeh Khoda at November 24, 2005 01:20 AM [permalink]:

Get a mirror :)

Armin Shams at November 24, 2005 01:46 AM [permalink]:

You can be my dear friend and my mirror, but the shine of this mirror is due to science. In this case you need to know scientifically about religion, not just word of mouth.

Golbarg Bashi at November 24, 2005 02:25 AM [permalink]:
To: "what ever" Thank you for reading this rather long piece. In it I am dealing with issue of political sectarianism among the Iranian progressive movements, mainly in Diaspora which has a counterproductive effect on Iran’s democratic movement inside the country Iran. I try to show that there is a lack of solidarity which means that very little actual assistance or moral support is given and there are even elements who actively undermine and fight Iran’s homegrown democratic movement. These elements seem to want a confrontational revolution where they emerge as its sole victors/rulers (their undemocratic rhetoric and behavior implies this). Hence, what we experience in factions of the Iranian women’s movement (in exile which I have been a closely witnessed) is an extension of the Iranian tyrannical culture, where a dominant minority wishes to rule over the masses (by force). Iranian women just like Iranian men are influenced by their surroundings and are shaped by their circumstances. Say when culturally, women’s worth and biggest achievement is in their beauty, marriage-ability and ‘tannazi’ (as it will guarantee them male-guardianship and hopefully life-long pension) you can only expect that this is what you would get in practice (I refer to the exaggerated make-up business, although it is women’s right to dress however they wish!). If little girls see from early childhood that their aunts, sisters and mothers get most attention and praise for being beautiful and wonderful home-makers, you get women who excel in those fields only and the majority of them do not become masters of law, religion or politics (hence, you get many who think that women are incapable of comprehending or operating in the ‘public sphere’). But even so, we have thousands of women who without having had role-models or any support, achieved an acute sense of justice/understanding and have against all odds and rewards become advocates/fighters for their people’s freedom. I am not saying women should cease to be feminine etc (whatever that means) but if they are given the opportunity to excel, they will. Being empowered, educated and in employment does not deny women their femininities (plural) or men their masculinities (plural). Only tyrannical people (women included) who see women as literally 'slaves' (bardeh) would be afraid of such an advancement on women’s front. If both men and women equally share the ‘burden’ of their household, society and the world, this ‘burdon’ becomes half and more manageable. In today’s Iran, despite extremely few employment opportunities, 63% of university graduates are female. This says something very obvious about the deep consciousness of our women, don’t you think? Please keep this in mind: 63% of Iran’s young literati are females and this is in a patriarchal theocracy. If nourished, these women will come to classify Iran as major democratic and peaceful state hand in hand with their fellow progressive men. Not even Sweden (the golden example of gender-equality) has this statistics! Give Iranians a bit of freedom and they flourish, we have episodes of this throughout our entire history and women have since the Constitutional Revolution been major players in defining their country’s density (just as men, both successfully and unsuccessfully). Iranian women are a source of inspiration for other Middle Eastern women (in their high levels of education, literature production, journalism, political participation, NGO-building, ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Golbarg Bashi at November 24, 2005 02:42 AM [permalink]:

To Armin Shams at November 21:

Dear Mr Shams,

Thank you for your comment. I am indeed very interested in Iranian mystical thought. It is very kind of you to highlight this issue; it is part of our philosophical and literary heritage and indeed a must in including it in our efforts for mainstreaming human rights in Iran.

But as Mr Jalali has rightly pointed out there is no such a thing as ‘real Islam’ as there is no such a thing as having cracked ‘real quantum physics’. Shari’a law (Islamic Canon) incorporated in the Constitution/hearts of minds of many, is now the product of hundred years of historical references, and the interpretation of a particular assembly. This assembly could be described as male jurists belonging to the clerical elite, who could have possibly preserved their own interests when coding the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Hadiths into legal decrees.

I would hence suggest that until we have found IslamS (plural) ‘true/real’ interpretation, those who are believers of God and adherents of his last Prophet, apply IslamS in their own personal lives, and not in the cultural, political, civil, legal and constitutional sphere where it could (as official Shari'a) impede with the universal human rights of those who see IslamS as belonging to their personal sphere/treasure and also those of the nonbelievers. I would suggest that if elements of tyranny, gender/race/age-inequality and violence are taken out of any mode of thought (Marxism, Liberalism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism etc) adherents of these belief-systems can all live peacefully live side-by-side. I think we have come too far now to turn back the clock to the demands of the masses: Democracy, Peace and Human Rights without any reservation to any belief-system!

I hope this makes senses to you. By the way, you may be interested in a Muslim woman's study/mapping of the progressive and non-patriarchal readings of the Qur’an, see interview at,
http://www.islaminterfaith.org/july2003/interview.html

And these books: Asma Barlas "Believing Women" in Islam : Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an. University of Texas Press (2002)

And, Omid Safi (eds) Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Oneworld Publications (2003).

Baa Ehteraam/Golbarg

Armin Shams at November 24, 2005 02:28 PM [permalink]:

Thank you. Happy to have your valuable comments.

Here, pluralism does not apply. The real and true Islam exists and it is the Islam meant by Mohammad, the prophet of Islam. The question of whether it is a good ethical system or not is independent from this fact. This question can be answered in a satisfying probabilistic way by careful scientific analysis. I am with you that elements of tyranny, gender/race/age-inequality (of human rights, not all the rules) and violence cannot exist in a "Good" ethical system. And as far as my studies let me theorize, they do not exist in what meant by Mohammad. Of course, if we find enough good clues against it after studies, we can choose another religion or make one ourselves or for example reinforce Mohammad's real Islam by our own corrections to make a hybrid religion. My studies imply otherwise and supports the big claim of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Fact A: "A special western Human Right" which is known as the human right by many people is both valuable generally and scientifically disputed in some parts.

Fact B: Many clerics indeed have had mistakes in recognizing and introducing women rights in the real Islam.

Fact C: Many people indeed have had mistakes in the way they have developed some understanding of Islam.

Scientific debate is the answer to many of human's famous problems if not all.

Best Wishes
Armin Shams

Bandeh Khoda at November 25, 2005 09:20 AM [permalink]:

I agree with our wechslerian genius. I would only add:

Fact D: Islam is irreconcilable with human values and rights and progressive thought since it only recognizes the divine as a source of rights. The Taliban implementation of Islam expressed its true form and any effort to cast Islam in a more humane way is indeed an adulteration of the religion. Hands have to be cut, people lashed, infidels killed and women stoned. And of course women are worth 50% of men and men can punish them if they don't provide sexual favors, for god has created them only for that purpose.

Fact E: Always step into the "mostarah" with the right foot.

Science, particularly when blessed by Mr. Mesbah Yazdi, is the answer to many of our problems.

AN Iranian Student (AIS) at November 25, 2005 11:30 AM [permalink]:

Armin Shams writes:
"Are men and women equal? Yes and no. They are equally human but they are not exactly the same being to be treated with "exactly" the same rules. It is being human itself that is important, but it is also a fact that women and men are a little different."

This is evidently supposed to be the basis for his apologetics of the horrible discrimination against women in Islam.
Ok, I suggest to replace the word men and women with white men and black men there. Any difference in teh logic? Can't you pull out the justification for white racism out of it as well?

Shams, spare us, please. We have heard it in our schools fore years and years.

Bandeh Khoda,

Great points! you took the words right out of my mouth.


An Iranian Student (AIS) at November 25, 2005 11:34 AM [permalink]:

Arsh, right on spot!

Armin Shams at November 25, 2005 04:11 PM [permalink]:

Hamvatan Student,

It seems that you still do not well-understand by what I mean "science of studying religions and ethical systems". Black and white are different, but only the rules in which color would matter will be different as a result of that difference (Know any?). Women and men are different, but ONLY the rules in which sexual (not genital) difference matters will be different.

"Hands have to be cut"
- Here, a just amount of fear of bad people from severe punishment saves many innocents. A few dirty hands to save the society from much thieves (not all). And not every thief's hand will be cut, e.g. one who is badly hungry, or one who did not know what he was doing

"people lashed"
- This is one of the wise questions: "How many to save the society from what?"

"infidels killed"
- No. You are wrong. Few people know the exact meaning of "Mortad". If you have questions and you leave Islam, it does not mean you are "Mortad".

The verses regarding killing infidels point to a non-general situation (according to the Quran itself and authentic Hadithes)

"and women stoned"
- This is the wise question: "Which women? And how many of them to save the society from what?"

"And of course women are worth 50% of men"
- No, at all. "Dieh" of the man is normally paid to the WOMEN and CHILDREN and ELDERLY who would benefit from his income if he were alive. It is quite unlogical to assume this economical compensation has any relation to human's value. "Enna Akramakom Endallah Atghakom".

If there were time to extend every aspect of Islam in the society, maybe you would see more rules and differences explained to the ordinary people regarding "Dieh" (e.g. like the difference of their salary but according to the situation of payee as well). Most of the Islam is unrevealed to the public, but has been passed to Hazrat Mahdi to be revealed after unification of the world by him.

"men can punish them if they don't provide sexual favors"
- It is for a "lajooj" person, not a person with a good reason, and this optional punishment is like physical jokes friends make with each other (unless you want to make an ugly face of Islam by exaggeration, the fake face I will be the first of Kafirs to it).


Regarding the Taliban, You surprisingly insist to see Islam in a very bad biased way. Should we assume people like Bush are the real Libertarians?


Best Wishes

Armin Shams at November 25, 2005 04:19 PM [permalink]:

Excuse me, "payer" I meant (not "payee").

AN Iranian Student (AIS) at November 25, 2005 06:05 PM [permalink]:

Once you make the physical differences a justification for legal ones, it would be up to the legalists to decide which laws would or would not be related to that particular difference. For example one can invent a reason like this: segregation in buses could be necessary in racial differences by diminishing the chances of conflict that arises when two different cultures based on the two different races mingle and clash with each other. Cultures are different because people of each race have a sexual tendency to marry one of their own based on the unique featureso f their race that is "different" including skin color, and thus raise their children in their racially pure families... blah blah blah....

The point is that the very logic behind this whole category of justifications of discrimination is wrong regardles of the details of each difference.

In teh same line why exactly does performing the male SEXUAL act entitle the male to punish his partner while the opposite is not allowed?
What is the sexual act involved in being a witnes in court?!
In being a victim of a crime, including murder and the corresponding half "dieh"?!
etc.
etc.
etc.

Mr Scientific?

Babak S at November 26, 2005 12:52 AM [permalink]:

Although not directly related to the article here, I think comments by Mr. Shams are so common for a great many of the educated people of our society, that the discussion is worth it. I should like to tell our friend here, that the basic problem with your approach, regardless of its truth or falsehood, is that it seeks to make social rules out of subjects that cannot possibly be agreed upon by enough people to make the resulting soiety stable and desirable, without a strongly ideological moral system being foisted on all people. This situation has two sides: a person or a group of persons who have devised the moral system in question, and the ones who are forced against their will to accept it. You should see, with your high intelligence, that this is not only a waste of human lives, but also against the basic core of a humane society: rational discussion. The discussion that is needed to improve our understanding of the world and moral values comes to a stop in the social order you are advocating. That is the basic reason we must avoid social orders of this kind that are, quite regardless of the actual content of the order itself, detrimental to the society as a whole. And on this point all social plans of the past century have been the same, from communism to fascism/nazism, and recently the political Islam introduced by Islamic republic and its exterem by the Taliban.

If you believe in scientific method, you must have learnt from its philosophers, e.g. Popper, that the essence of science is the indispensability of debate and rational discussion (as I understand is implied by your own comments too). Where is discussion indispensible? Exactly where we cannot be so sure to impose our understanding and values, our personal goods and bads on all people. If you think that God has ruled in a way, and I think that He has ruled in another way, we shall not force the values that arise from our conflicting understandings of God's will on each other. In short, we shall not play God. It's only God who knows what is true and what not, what is good and what bad for all people. All we can do is to discuss in the hope of understanding better and better the world around us, but we shall never impose one comprehensive system of moral values on all people.

Armin Shams at November 26, 2005 08:35 AM [permalink]:

Hi,

(as far as the limitations allow me to know:)

*To Our friend Babak S.:

The real Islam should be spread by scientific debate. Force is only for reasonable defence, not offending a peaceful majority who do not accept Islam. Islam has been accepted by the majority in Iran, but a few rules are disputed among many people (it is not uncommon for other ethical systems).


*And to Our Iranian Student:

"Once you make the physical differences a justification for legal ones, it would be up to the legalists to decide which laws would or would not be related to that particular difference. For example one can invent a reason like this: ..."

The scientific debate starts (not "ends"!) here. People can invent justifications, but they can be simply wrong or bad as what you said (need I provide reasons in this evident case? If every person loved to do a racial fight every few days, as they love to have sex, then there should be such segregation).


"In the same line why exactly does performing the male SEXUAL act entitle the male to punish his partner while the opposite is not allowed?"
- Women have similar punishment rights, but practicing them in this world is againt wisdom because of physical advantage of men (if you even slightly beat a bad man you may be harshly beaten), so at least for this reason this punishment right is not advised to be practiced outside the court.


"What is the sexual act involved in being a witnes in court?!"
- Being more sensetive and more forgiving. Women are very kind while the court should be tough on bad people (there can be other reasons mentioned as well).


"In being a victim of a crime, including murder and the corresponding half "dieh"?!"
- Did you read my message? Dieh is not given to the dead person, but it is an economical compensation for the remaining people (WOMEN, CHILDREN, ELDERLY) and men's death often brings more economical problems, specially among muslims that men MUST work, but working for women is optional.

Best Wishes

Armin Shams at November 26, 2005 08:49 AM [permalink]:

And let me add this about the "court issue":
- Women are more flexible and sensitive than men which makes them superior and more robust in many emotional and social situations (and they also live more), while it makes them more vulnerable in logically taking critical decisions under pressure (these differences are general and many exceptions can exist besides such a general rule. It is not a matter of capibility, it is a matter of hardship. e.g. for men it is harder to be polite or kind but not impossible at all).

Bandeh Khoda at November 26, 2005 11:29 AM [permalink]:

Dear Armin,

You are missing the most important point in scientific discourse. Scientific discourse starts with a set of hypotheses and assumptions and then explores their validity. Science is therefore descriptive and not normative. This is where value systems come in. Islam starts with the basic assumption that women are inferior to men and that they have been created as sexual objects to fulfill men's desires. That is why the term "zaeefeh" has been coined. The progressive part of humanity does not accept that basic assumption and finds ideologies that espouse these ideas backward and repulsive. Furthermore, when Iranian women gradually but surely kick the butts of fundamentalism out of power in Iran (and elsewhere), that notion will probaly change.

Essentially the Islamic idea of humanity is not that of an enlightened individual, but that of sheep that need to be guided by a shepherd (or many shepherds). This again clashes with the modern conception of humankind as the ever exploring, ever challenging being, which has been the driving force of the science you are currently studying. For it were up to the Shi'ite clerics, the only technological advances we would have made would be "aftabeh" and "vajebi". Indeed, the "science" currently taught in the seminary still uses 12th century astronomy as its basis. Yet the clerics who rode donkeys ar enow riding Mercedes Benz. God bless oil rentierism.

Of course because the fruits of modernity have been somehow distriubuted, people like you and other "Bacheh Hajis" who would probably have gone to the seminary now go to universities in the UK that have close ties with the Islamic Republic. (Of course with the same "dampaee" and beard and the shirt over pants , secretly giving looks of desire on any female object and fantisizing about them with the precondition of taking a cleaning bath). For god is great.

I used to think it was better to have fundamentalist Islamofascists educated, but I actually believe now that the education serves them little other than making them more dangerous individuals.

Anyway, I have heard the ramblings of Islamic fundamentalism for a long time and find nothing new in its views.

I am grateful to you for making sure that our reformist friends listen carefully, so they don't ever try to whitewash Islam. What Armin talks about IS Islam. There are no adjectives like "progressive" or "liberal" Islam. Islam is the submission of critical thought, choice and human values to a higher authority.

Golbarg, do Armin's ideas strengthen the argument for the emphasis on secular feminism?

Babak S at November 26, 2005 01:34 PM [permalink]:

Armin,

Let me continue this debate with a question: if there is only one person in the society that thinks his rights are being violated by the law that authorizes a government official to rule for his/her hand to be cut off arguing that it would deter thieves, would you allow yourself to support the imposition of that law?

Now let me ask this: if tomorrow MI5 agents arrest you and the law authorized them to torture you arguing that it will lead to valuable information, do you expect to be able to assert your human rights legally in any way?

When you say

[Women] being more sensetive and more forgiving. Women are very kind while the court should be tough on bad people (there can be other reasons mentioned as well).

Do you consider the underlying claim of this statement to be scientifically debated, accepted, or just a God given fact? Also what does the sensitiveness of a particular woman has to do with her abilities to report what she has seen as a witness. Are you claiming as a general rule that women are incapable of making an accurate report of their observations? Are there no women scietists? Or do you allow for exceptions of the witness law for such women? If so, who is to decide if a partcular women is sensitive enough not be able to make an accurate statement? Is that a government official? Could it be a woman? How can we be sure of the judgment on the sensitivity of the woman?

Also, when you say

Dieh is not given to the dead person, but it is an economical compensation for the remaining people (WOMEN, CHILDREN, ELDERLY) and men's death often brings more economical problems, specially among muslims that men MUST work, but working for women is optional.

how often an occurance is enough to warrant the imposition of the law on all people. Or perhaps you take for granted that in your imagined society it is necessarily men who are working in all instances where the Dieh law is to be applied. In our real world, would you allow for exceptions, or even a separate law, for the increasingly frequent case where a deceased woman has been an important or even the only contributer to her family's income? What about single moms? Also, would you take the further step to force a situation where only men work, so you can justify the basis of the Dieh law? Or will you revoke the law given enough factual basis that it is undermining the human rights and well-being of a sector of the society?

As you can see the thread of questions can be easily longer than above. But I hope you see what I mean when I say we shall not play God, as it's only God who knows with absolute certainty what the answer to these questions are. We can only debate them. In the meanwhile we should devise our laws so as to allow for maximum space for this debate, i.e. maximum space for the most important human right: personal freedom, and the ensuing logical system to maintain it.

Armin Shams at November 26, 2005 11:32 PM [permalink]:

Bandeh Khoda, we do not like the situation were lack of good reasons lead people to rudeness.

Said: "Islam starts with the basic assumption that women are inferior to men and that they have been created as sexual objects to fulfill men's desires."
- Your Islam starts with disastrous assumptions. I am Kafir to that Islam. In real Islam superiority is exclusively based on "taghva" which has nothing to do with sex: "Enna akramakom endallah atghakom"


Rudely said: "For it were up to the Shi'ite clerics, the only technological advances we would have made would be "aftabeh" and "vajebi"."
- Clerics should do their job, not engineering. They need to be good theologians, which helps other sciences and technology as well. Their product is ethical system and Iran's ethical system is one of the best in the world which has had great results. Clerics also practically brought democracy to Iran in the revolution and I can see that Islamic Democracy is going to evolve and better understood and finally sometime implimented to a good extent in Iran. Why do you put the blame of our kings, engineers and scientists on clerics? They do have a conssiderable share (we all do) but they are not at the top of the list.

About the other rude part: You are not wise enough to be polite, nor wise enough to guess "Those Hajis" do not name their son "Armin". I recieve two scholarships from UK government and the department, supported by a scientist who has nothing to do with Iran-UK relations. This science and technology (which people like me contribute to, and religous muslims like Avecina has had a great share in its development and passing it to the countries you see) has not been started in western countires and will not remain this-exclusively in their hands (muslims have had the father of algebra, chemistry and semi-modern medicine among them, and also Ghajar kings!).

Very rudely: "I used to think it was better to have fundamentalist Islamofascists educated, but I actually believe now that the education serves them little other than making them more dangerous individuals."
- Yes, Islamofascists and Islamofobists (like you) are dangerous. I hope science helps both to open their eyes.

Armin Shams at November 27, 2005 12:09 AM [permalink]:

in the name of GOD,

Thank you Babak to be here with your good polite questions and ideas. I am tired of ... . I try to suggest answers according to my (of course, limited) knowledge of Islam.

"if there is only one person in the society that thinks his rights are being violated by the law ..., would you allow yourself to support the imposition of that law?"
- If he has a good reason, yes, I do.


"if tomorrow MI5 agents arrest you and ... torture you arguing that it will lead to valuable information, do you expect to be able to assert your human rights legally in any way?"
- If someone for example tries to arrange a nuclear attack to the innocents, I guess torturing is allowed to prevent it. It depends.

Good question: "Are you claiming as a general rule that women are incapable of making an accurate report of their observations? Are there no women scietists?"
- Do not be 0-1, be [0,1]. Are there as much scientist women as men? And if we assume there are, do they do science under special pressure (like criminal issues). Generally, women's capabilities are limitless because they have a human soul, but we should consider that some jobs are harder to do for men and some jobs are harder to do for women. THE LEVEL OF BEING HARD DIFFERS.


Great question: "Or do you allow for exceptions of the witness law for such women?"
- I think you may witness that in Hazrat Mahdi's government (there are grounds for this in Islamic texts, but the majority of ordinary clerics don't know/realize).


Good question (you could ask it much better and GENERALLY): "If so, who is to decide if a partcular women is sensitive enough ... ?"
- Because of these problems, some rules have only been explained to some basic extent, but the complete Islam will show her beautiful face in Emam Mahdi's government. We need the science and the necessary political/judical tools for that (I guess, as a fact, not a must, we won't do that before Emam Mahdi does it).

Best Wishes

Armin Shams at November 27, 2005 12:14 AM [permalink]:

My mistake, sorry: "if there is only one person in the society that thinks his rights are being violated by the law ..., would you allow yourself to support the imposition of that law?"
- Not if the person has a good reason.

Armin Shams at November 27, 2005 12:51 AM [permalink]:

And the great questions continue (I like you and your questions, man):

"how often an occurance is enough to warrant the imposition of the law on all people."
- I don't know exactly, but I have been studying these necessary details of well-understanding the rligion.

Bad question: Or perhaps you take for granted that in your imagined society it is necessarily men who are working in all instances .... .
- Please read carefully. I had said working (for money) is a must for men and optional for women, so women are in general free to do what they want (maybe it is working for money). In an advanced society you see less women compared to men working for money, but they are quite active in science and society (people pay you to do what they want, but you may want to do something people around you do not usually pay money for it).

Great question: "In our real world, would you allow for exceptions, or even a separate law, for the increasingly frequent case where a deceased woman has been an important or even the only contributer to her family's income?"
- Islam do and I agree, when required grounds are established.

Astonishingly bad question(!?): "Would you take the further step to force a situation where only men work, so you can justify the basis of the Dieh law?"

"As you can see the thread of questions can be easily longer than above."
- They are much longer than you may think, in my mind. Your questions were not new to me.

"... meanwhile we should devise our laws so as to allow for maximum space for this debate"
- Islam allows, greatly rewards and encourages such debates. Islam is understood via answering good questions.

Hazrat Ali: "A momnet of thinking is better than seventy years of worship"
Let me ask a question: Which thinking does Hazrat mean? Your questions are not far from that thinking, I guess. You ask like wise clerics, and you do not need a turban to answer your questions! It's science. Do it. Thank you to make this deabte, BETTER.

Best Wishes
KHODA negahdar

An Iranian Student (AIS) at November 27, 2005 01:39 PM [permalink]:

Armin Shams writes:
"The real Islam should be spread by scientific debate. Force is only for reasonable defence, not offending a peaceful majority who do not accept Islam. Islam has been accepted by the majority in Iran, but a few rules are disputed among many people (it is not uncommon for other ethical systems)."

You see that is the essence of the problem with these approaches. Even IF the majority has accepted Islamic rules, it still SHOULD NOT be implemented because there is a minority whose rights would be violated. The majority has no rights to impose unnecessary limitations to individuals in a society.
Islam has many many many many of such things. Issues that people should be free to deal with in their own personal lives as need arises are set by regulations from outside.
All the "justificatiosn" he gives later on on my questions is an example of that. Women are more sensitive in the court. EVEN if we accept such gross overgeneralization (which I certainly do not!) why should this be a factor to be taken into account seperately. Let teh courts decide in each case whether the testimony was trustworthy on individual basis as each case is resolved.

Armin Shams, debate these thngs as much as you like, scientifically or whatever, but never impose them on others as laws even if teh results of your debates seem to you to indicate they should.
Simple.

Armin Shams at November 27, 2005 04:42 PM [permalink]:

Hi,
Regarding what AIS wrote:

"The majority has no rights to impose unnecessary limitations to individuals in a society."
- I agree, but first you should show that things exist in Islam, not just claiming them. Do not underestimate the qualifications needed. First you need to study (what I have started with much more questions and criticisms you probably think).

"Women are more sensitive in the court. Let teh courts decide in each case whether the testimony was trustworthy on individual basis as each case is resolved."
- Courts will not act better than the preliminary sexual function suggested, unless the required grounds are ready. Then we will let the courts decide. It is very important to note that it was my personal opinion on the subject that the sensitivity matters here, but the main scientific reason for accepting the religion comes from another basis. You do not need to prove a theorem in two ways to accept it. The probabilistic proof to God's existance, Muhammad's honesty in his claim of being a prophet and historical analysis of what can most probably be attributed to him, are the basis. DO YOU THINK IF GOD HAD SENT A RELIGION YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND ITS RULES IN YOUR NAIVE NON-SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS?

Best Wishes

Armin at November 27, 2005 05:53 PM [permalink]:

DO YOU THINK IF GOD HAD SENT A RELIGION YOU SHOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD ITS RULES IN YOUR NAIVE NON-SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS?

Shahram at November 27, 2005 07:43 PM [permalink]:
The present comment is for "Armin Shams" (aka Soldier of the Sun). It also makes reference to AIS and Bandeyeh Khoda. Others might simply disregard it. Sir/Madame: You do not need to shout. If you do not know, allow me to inform you that writing in capitals indicates "shouting", and I hope I am mistaken. Also, calling others naive does not make your argument stronger. Your ideological Siamese twins in the US are already staging a massive campaign to incorporate the religiously informed intelligent design [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design] / creationism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism] approach into the teachings of evolution. Indeed, in this regard, people like you have more things in common with Pat Robertson [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_robertson], Jerry Falwell [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Falwell], and to a very high degree your beloved George W. Bush [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article317805.ece]. Indeed, I have not forgotten that you and these above-mentioned have equivalents in the form of Ayatollah Janati who thinks that non-Muslims are not even human. Although, I would not be surprised that you might think Janati is a man of divine science and can scientifically prove that those who have not comprehended the righteous religion are like cows "grazing around and spreading corruption on earth", as Ayatollah Janati was quoted to have said lately. No tolerant person can engage with a fanatic like yourself in a debate, however scientifically disguised your attacks might be. This is especially true when you are not even ready to subject yourself to a degree of self-criticism, and umount yourself from the stubborn donkey of your self-righteousness. In fact, people like you, more often think that secularists are weak doubters, and are even less intelligent than you are, because they lack the divine faith that you guys retain, which reassures you and gives you a self-confidence. Quite the contrary, most secularists are self-confident people, especially, and at least, about one thing, that is, the mulish donkey of dogma that you guys are riding is the one that was and is responsible for inquisition in the medieval time and the trial of many from Bruno to Galileo and last but not least Hashem Aghajari! It is this mulish donkey of dogma and fanaticism, which is often so eloquently disguised in science, that has to be reined in by the leash of rational criticism and self-reflection. By the way, my reference to the metaphor of donkey comes from one of the most authentic sources, hadith-i-seqeh, that you and your self-righteous kind constantly throw around; especially at those of us who have not forgotten that they are fallible. In this light, your arrogant dogmatism, from pointing out how intelligent you are, to your "disorderly arranged" "pseudo-scientific rants" in attacking other commentators is anything but science, either in method or substance. Before being scientific try to exercise some tolerance and a bit of humility, otherwise others are not afraid of treating you the same way that Karl Popper suggested in regards to tolerance and intolerance. I assure you the kinds of AIS and Bandeyeh Khoda are competent enough to counter your Jihadi scientism duly and gallantly. And by the way, please be humble about the fact that unlike your kind, I do not believe in issuing hadiths that dehumanize people to the level of the donkey, because if I did think the sam ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Armin at November 27, 2005 09:11 PM [permalink]:

Shahram,

My writing in capitals is to emphasize, not shout, as you have demonized it.

It seems that you escape towards, don't see your rudenss (and other rude sentences shot towards me by one person) and say "my calling that somone's judgement is naive" means HE is totally naive! Learn how to write more politely from people like Babak.

You are too wrong to think I do not doubt in my thoughts and self-criticize. Do you really do that yourself? My mentioning my IQ was just to say how much resources I have invested in studying (and self-criticism), not to say ... . You are too wrong to think I think seculars are not intelligent. You are too wrong to compare Mr. Jannati to me. Do not attribute your cliches to people, see the fact. Which human rights do you believe in that allows you to demonize people and their ethical system without even knowing what they believe in?

Regarding the scientific debate about religion, it cannot be done in short sentences here. Here we just exchange concise ideas.

Taghie is not for here. I really wish the best for my friends here, and non-friends (you and someone else) who insult me.

Shahram at November 27, 2005 10:29 PM [permalink]:
Armin Shams, If you do not know how to insert caveats in your arguments, rectify misunderstandings, and offer apologies in due course, it seems to me you do not know how to show that you can self-criticize. You do not take it for granted that I do self-criticize, because I do not hide behind a polite language; do you think your polite, and yet arrogant language, causes me to take it for granted that you do self-criticize? I gave you a blunt response to your apparently courteous way of talking. I am sorry that I insulted you, but I simply wanted to make a very strong point: you cannot hide how confident you are about what you believe, and in so doing you do not realize how you insult those who do not agree with you (slitting people's throat with cotton, that is). You never introduced any authentic reference (such as at least Soroush or Mojtahed Shabestari) to say where exactly you come from, and how they can be related to. You bragged about your breadth of knowledge, constantly, frequently, and twisted-ly. I wittingly brushed you aside. In so doing, I risked insulting, but I also mentioned that I was doing because I expected you to show how concretely you are not a dogmatic person with your scientific rhetoric. I am still watching, and as to human rights, I am a watchful person who speaks his mind with bluntness and transparency. I do not expect others to do so, but in so doing, at least, I do not hide behind any faith or any god, but my own confidence. I prefer this arrogance in transparency and openness. I have no divine cloak to wrap around me. Nor can I use science the way you do to shield me. I pulled my tongue out of the sheath of courtesy at a high expense: reminding you that people do not always remain silent in the face of the constant and increasing attacks of the religious-minded everywhere (from the US to the IR). They might stand up at some point in time, and somewhere space; and in so doing, they might as well "tell you off", without any twists or turns, scientific or divine. I still did recognize our humanity; I acknowledged it; but you did not. For that matter, your divine-scientific show-offs were insulting to me; perhaps you did so unwittingly; yet you did not apologize, after all, why you should apologize for creating misunderstandings, you are supported by your faith- is not that what you were thinking? And perhaps I did insult you bluntly, and I do apologize. Formalizing one’s argument in a rational manner is more important than covering it up with divine/scientific cloaks; it is as important and as courteous as your expectation that people are supposed to be polite. It is as important as not demonizing others; as it is important not to humiliate them by calling them “naïve”, and if one does that one is supposed to apologize; it is as important as writing with normal letters instead of capitalizing and if one realizes that one has created a misunderstanding one is supposed to apologize; it is as important as not throwing god to their face for showing off/asserting/claiming one’s faith versus others lack of faith, and if one realizes that one has caused misunderstanding one is supposed to apologize. If you have no pretensions, do not show them off. And if you do, be ready to take the blunt response. If others are courteous to you it is because they think it is counter-productive to do otherwise. I waited and waited and waited to see if you are learning from their courtesy. As I realized you are not l ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
An Iranian Student (AIS) at November 28, 2005 02:42 AM [permalink]:

Armin,

you can repeat this term "scientific" as much as you need, wouldn't change a bit. What constitutes science is a critical platform to try to refute ideas that are presented to get closer to the truth. So first you have to have an idea and then try to analyze it using normal logical stuff. That's it. there is nothing magical in "scientific studies" ... What gives theories known with the adjective "scientific" the merit to be taken seriously is just the knowledge that it is constantly subjected to this stream of criticism and NOTHING MORE. Specifically it is NOT a special feature that demarcs certain KINDS of idea from others to a higher plane of truth or something.

SO, by just repeating this term here WITHOUT presenting any such idea too be analyzed or criticized in this forum you just prove one thing. You habe no real argument to present and no real idea to analyze. Only a bunch of allegations and cliche cliams.
Sorry, but you are in a wrong place to boast. Here is not a certain proverbial bazaar for such things to go unnoticed! :)

Armin at November 28, 2005 02:31 PM [permalink]:

Hi,

Happy to see you are diverting the discussion to a better more polite route. Thank you. Now, I am going to see more friends here (And I do apologize for my mistakes, but you are pessimistic about my character and intensions which you can find out it is very unfriendly, if you carefully read what I wrote).

Look dear hamvatans, you two do not read what I write carefully: "... the main scientific reason for accepting the religion comes from another basis. You do not need to prove a theorem in two ways to accept it. The probabilistic proof to God's existance, Muhammad's honesty in his claim of being a prophet and historical analysis of what can most probably be attributed to him, are the basis." This can start a scientific discussion which begins from "Zero", like other sciences (unlike your unproved claims and my counterclaims and door-openning ideas/suggestions). We in the both sides were both exchanging claims and counter claims with scientific flavours (strong or weak). I numerously warned that you are just claiming and it is not scientific and of course we all know that this claim of mine does not make my suggested ideas/counterclaims scientific and standalone. They just give you "ideas" to for exampple do not simply convict Islam for "Dieh". It would be a naive way of thinking to focus your claims on "Dieh", because the counter claims as I provided and as I opened the door for judical improvements leaves no room for that claim. You should start from a point you can proceed, not such an unreasonable point. The judgement is "naive", not necessarily you. If you do much of those naive judgements, it then can be attributed to yourself as well (it's not for you only, it is for anybody including me).

If we want to make it more academic and fruitful, what I mentioned above is my suggestion for discussion (God->Prophets->NarrationsHistoricalAnalisys), which takes long and is a hard discussion which needs our study besides discussing it. I am also ready to hear your scientific reasons and accept them if they are right, if you want to leave your mentioned claims aside before proving them and start from the beginning.

If I shall start, this is my question to begin the scientific discussion I emphasized on its importance that much (I am mainly in this route in my studies that I mentioned):

"How can we evaluate ethical/religious arguments?"

Best Wishes

A Shia Muslim at June 30, 2006 08:25 PM [permalink]:

AIS said 'You see that is the essence of the problem with these approaches. Even IF the majority has accepted Islamic rules, it still SHOULD NOT be implemented because there is a minority whose rights would be violated. The majority has no rights to impose unnecessary limitations to individuals in a society.'
Look here you hypocrite I come from the U.K and what you described has happened through out the 200-300 year old democratic process of Britain. Of course the miniority don't what those laws. Miniorities like paedophiles, rapists and murderers, Do you think they want to be sent to jail for 5-15 years or more? (which is joke of a sentence if you ask me) The answer is most certaintly no because they belive their always innocent even when found guilty. Look at the U.K it's a laugh when comes to judges and laws. Iran could become like this where paedohiles get only 6 months and rapists get 2 years. And no this not unsual.

AIS said 'never impose them on others as laws even if teh results of your debates seem to you to indicate they should.
Simple.'

Then I living in the U.K should not follow secular laws as I feel they are imposing on me because they are a joke when it comes to an actual punishment. Simple.