Historical anti-clericalism has mainly been opposed to the influence of Roman Catholicism, the polytheistic religion that to the astonishments of experts shares many similarities with Shi’ism. Similarities that are, of course, alien to Islam.
Anti-clericalism appeared in Catholic Europe throughout the 19th century and nowhere in the Muslim world, it is as prevalent as in Iran, the so-called ‘Islamic Republic’.
As Muslims, we believe that every evil, no matter how evil and bad, comes also with good, even if it wasn’t intended. Calamities and transgressions by the enemies of Islam have often united the ranks of the Muslims. The examples in our current times are too many. From Palestine to Turkistan, Ummah Consciousness: Collective Community, is on the rise. Even Western think tanks have started to study this inherently in Islam embedded phenomenon that unites Muslims from all the way from Surinam (the country with the highest proportion of Muslims in the Americas) to the Philippines.
The Iranian regime has tried its utmost to portray itself as the flagbearer of the Palestinian cause, a well-wisher for the Ummah that seeks ‘Shia-Sunni unity. It worked quite well, well… at least for some period of time.
In the past, Iran managed to fool millions of gullible Muslims around the world with its empty slogans, chants, and rhetorics. Iran’s slogans attracted those who had little to no knowledge of the post-Safawi Rafidi history of Iran and its heretical Rafidi sect that is inherently anti-Sunni (before the age of social media Iranian regime media and its supporters managed to hide much of the anti-Sunni sentiments found in the most essential works of Shi’ism, the Internet, specifically social media have made all these attempts futile).
The Syrian Revolution was the final nail in the coffin for Iran and its stooges in the Arab world. ‘After the war in 2006, Hezbollah reached the peak of its popularity,‘ said Amer Sabaileh, a political analyst from the Washington-based Middle East Media and Policy Studies Institute. ‘[It] had the consensus of people when it came to resistance, credibility, and speaking the truth.
Yet today, Hizbullat (‘Hezbollah’) is in flux. Once a champion of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, the group‘s popularity in the Middle East hovers at a new low due to its association and support (‘defending the shrines’) of the criminal secularist dictator, Bashar Assad. On April 30, 2013, Nasrallah publicly acknowledged that Hizbullat had been providing military support to the Assad regime. And unlike in 2006, when Hizbullat’s regional popularity soared, its support from the region’s Arab Sunni majority now waned.
In the midst of the so-called Arab Spring, many Muslims had difficulty reconciling the inherent contradictions and hypocrisy associated with a popular resistance movement’s backing a ruthless dictator who used heavy artillery and chemical weapons against his own people.
Iran initially supported the popular uprisings in the Middle East—calling them ‘Islamic awakenings’—when it appeared that only Western-allied Arab autocracies in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen were vulnerable to collapse. In Syria, however, Tehran has offered unwavering support to the embattled Assad regime and denounced the Syrian opposition as ‘terrorists’ supported by a motley alliance of Gulf Arab states, Israel, and the United States.
Senior Iranian figures, such as former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, have referred to Syria as ‘a golden ring of resistance against Israel,’ and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-confidante Mehdi Taeb said that Syria is Iran’s “35th province…if we lose Syria we won’t be able to hold Tehran.” Without Iranian military aid and financial largesse, Assad’s regime may have fallen long ago.
In short, the Iranian regime and by extension the Shia clergy, especially the pro-regime ones, have ruined themselves and their reputation with their own hands. Arguably, not even an entire cyber army of so-called ‘Wahhabis’ could have caused the amount of damage to the reputation of the Iranian regime and the Shia clergy as the Iranian regime and many Shia clerics have done.
Yes, secularisation processes are not restricted to majority Shi’ite Iran, however, most Sunni countries (like Turkey, Albania) have been ruled for decades by either godless atheists, communists, and other ultra-secularists, yet despite that Islam is more vivid in their respective populations than in Iran.
Most Sunni nations have not been ruled by religious authorities, on the contrary, most of their leaders try to be more secular than the West, yet, there is no doubt that most Sunni countries and Sunnis (including Sunni Iranians) are much more conservative and religious than Iranian Shi’ites (most Iranian ‘ex-Muslims’ are Shi’ites, apostasy amongst Sunni Iranian is rare).
Don’t fall for the birdseye view shots of the likes of Press TV and other propaganda channels, Iranian Shi’ites – except a minority of staunch regime followers and other traditionalists – are known for being more secular and irreligious than Turkish people.
Today there is a rising tide of anti-clericalism among ordinary Iranian, many Shia clerics have started to lament the rise of anticlericalism, even on state television. For most of the twentieth century, until the advent of the Iranian Revolution, the Shi‘ite clergy nearly unanimously stayed quietist, even in the face of inimical state power as was the case with the anti-clergy actions by Reza Shah in the 1920s and 30s, yet, ironically, during that era, the Shia clerics still enjoyed more respect in wider Iranian society than today, in their own fortress which is run by their own kind.
As of the late 1990s and early 2000s anticlericalism was reported to be significant in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Demonstrators have used slogans such as `The clerics live like kings while we live in poverty!` One report claims “Working–class Iranian lamented clerical wealth in the face of their own poverty,” and “stories about Swiss bank accounts of leading clerics circulated on Tehran‘s rumor mill.” [Molavi, Afshin, “The Soul of Iran“, Norton, (2005), p.163]
Iran, although an Islamic state, imbued with relgion and relgious symbolism, is an increasingly anti–clerical country. In a sense it resembles some Roman Catholic countries where relgion is taken for granted, without public display, and with ambigious feelings towards the clergy. Iranians tend to mock their mullahs, making mild jokes about them … [“Economist” 16, January 2003]
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just recently a video went viral where a young man in Kianshar (north Iran) slapped a local cleric, blaming him, ‘we are all unemployed because of you. You ruined our lives.’
Note: I absolutely do condone the liquidation of terrorists, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. Khawarij (like Daesh) and Rawafid terrorist leaders such as Khamenei have the blood of thousands of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims on their hands. May all of them die a painful death.
However, I do not condone violence against random Shia clerics, especially not against the elderly. It is not a heroic act to slap an old man, even if he represents evil. In fact, such violent outbursts can be (as done by Khamenei and his regime) by the Shia clergy to portray themselves as innocent victims who should not be blamed for the misery of the country. Yes, not all of them should be blamed, but many of them, including many of their top authorities, must be blamed, but violent assaults are to the favour of the regime:
Much more violent accounts have been sighted in Iran. It doesn’t look good for the Shia clerics in their very own Shia-run Iran where you are more likely to get attacked if recognised as a Shia cleric than as being a satanist. The reports about this phenomenon are numerous in nature, not even the Iranian regime denies it:
The hatred of the Shia clergy has reached a level where hashtags such as #آخوند_كشى (‘the killing of Shia clerics’) went viral. Sure, there are probably some Muslim (Sunni) countries where religious-looking people or scholars were attacked, but nothing is comparable to what is going on in the ‘Islamic Republic’. No, of course, the Shia clergy are not getting attacked or killed on a daily basis, however, the mere occurrence every once in a while of such sentiments is shocking.
The clerical regime is itself a fractured and disjointed group, many of whom now actively call for the clergy to return to their traditional role as the arbiters of moral behavior and leave the government in the hands of Iran’s capable technocrats. Many Shia clerics have even started to wear their clerical garb (an innovation itself i.e. restricting specific religious garb for a priesthood-like section of society) in their secured premises, and not outside (as they used to for centuries).
It is what it is. It is an important reminder of the low status of the Shiite clerics in Iran when Iranians who were raised in post-Khomeinist Iran i.e. under the rule of the Shia clergy are so disenfranchised and distrust, rather detest the Shia clergy so much that they risk their own lives in order to physically harm those who have ruined their country economically and spiritually.
This is how Allah has humiliated the Shia clergy with their own hands. They have to fear their own people! Their evil actions and their heretical Imam-centric Imamite religion has caused mass-apostasy within their very fortress i.e. Iran. Yes, apostasy exists amongst Sunnis as well, but it’s like a drop in an ocean compared to the waves of apostasy in Iran. Iran, the country that has produced the vilest Islamophobes around the world, including their leaders. Mind you, everything mentioned so far doesn’t even take the Sunni Iranian population into the equation.
Despite officially adopting Islam as the state ideology, the ‘Islamic Republic’ retained the Pahlavi’s Persian-centric policies. In theory, the ‘Islamic Republic’ should have brought some fraternity to Iran’s peoples, especially to the minorities who had engaged in insurgencies against the heavy-handedness of the Pahlavi shahs (1925–1979). That has not happened. The Persianisation and centralisation of the Iranian state have continued under the Shia clerics.
In reality, Iranian state policies now advocate unity, encourage acculturation to a common culture, and promote assimilation. The state, Persian nationalism, and Shi’a Islam are supposed to be the unifying fac-tors, and this unity is imposed through force when necessary. (A. W. Samii, “The Nation and Its Minorities: Ethnicity, Unity and State Policy in Iran,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 20, no. 1– 2: 129.)
Iran’s Sunnis can be seen as rightly regarding Tehran’s ethnic policies as being constituted by the dominance of a particular ideology that seeks the superiority of a Persian Shia identity. Sunni Iranians are united by a history of political mobilisation, their poverty, their cross-border connections, their possession of large amounts of land, their large population sizes, and their resistance to the policy of Persianisation.
Sunni Iranians do not waste time expressing their distaste for their Persian overlords, especially in the garb of the Shia clergy. More than four decades after the Iranian revolution, the Khomeinist Revolution and the rule of the Shia clergy had not made Iran a happy, ethnically diverse family.
Anti-clericalism in the ‘Islamic Republic’ and the failure of the government to Shiitise Iranian society and train a new generation of devout Shiites is an underlying reality and fact and not some rare sentiments held by a minority of Iranians.
On top of that the Shia clergy have to struggle with the rise of Sunnism within Iranian society, another undeniable fact that has made the Shia clergy and their officials hysterical, fearing the wombs of Sunni Iranian women more than anything else.
The Shi’ite clergy in Iran won’t crumble by tomorrow, however, the signs of their downfall have never been more promising, in fact, the process has already started. Never in their history – not even during the anticlerical reign of Reza Shah – have the Shia clerics faced as much opposition and hate from the majority Shia Iranian people as today. Indeed, a divine punishment of which non-Iranian Shi’ites of ignorant of until they visit the fragile stronghold of the Shia.
You reap what you sow, o Turbans of Shaytan.