Theology, Ethics, Politics: Three Challenges for Islamic Reform

How should Islamic teachings relate to the specific conditions of modernity? Islamic Reform is the effort of Muslims to reconstruct Islamic teachings and practice in modern times. This lecture addresses the challenge of reforming Islamic doctrines in three related areas: theology, ethics and politics, with special reference to Shi`ism. It will be illustrated by critical reflections on concepts of religious authority (the position of the Imams), shari’a as an ethical tradition in dialogue with modernity, and the necessity of secularism in terms of separation of mosque and state.

The Complexity of Leadership of Islamic Republic of Iran

Hashemi Rafsanjani made a huge mistake by helping Khamenei to power, but he did initiate an important innovation in the IRI in regards to the succession of leadership. The leader should have administrative experience in a larger arena than religious knowledge: minimum religious knowledge with maximum administrative experience. The best candidates for leadership are the clerics that have the experience of presidency or of being the head of the judiciary on their résumé. This means that the new leader of Iran after the death of Khamenei will be among four.

Reforming Islamic Thought through Structural Ijtihad

Iran Nameh: A Persian-English Quarterly of Iranian Studies, Vol. 30, No. 3, Nov. 2015, XX-XXVII Reforming Islamic Thought through Structural Ijtihad 1   Ijtihad, or independent reasoning, has been the first cause of the dynamism of Islam from within for several centuries, and it has worked well. According to this method, Muslim scholars – mostly jurists (fuqaha)—referred to the Qur’an and the tradition of the prophet Muhammad in order to find the practical duties (shari’a) of believers. The ordinances of shari’a that were introduced by the jurists were sufficient for…

A Tribute to the Virtuous Theologian

Ayatollah HosseinAli Montazeri NajafAbadi (1922-2009) was a senior jurist and teacher at the Qom Theological Seminary since 1950, and one of the first ranking Shi’ite authorities between 1983 and 2009.  Montazeri was the second figure of 1979 Revolution in Iran, the vice leader of Islamic Republic of Iran who was elected by the Assembly of Experts of Leadership in July 1985, and was suspended from office by Ayatollah Khomeini in May 1989 (100 days before his death). He was the most influential dissident of Islamic Republic of Iran between 1989…

Defending the Compassionate Prophet by a Criminal Act!

Regretfully, this year the birthday of the bearer of the message of compassion that awakens humanity’s conscience, coincided with a horrendous crime perpetrated by a gang of ignorant criminals in Paris, France on January 7, 2015. This gang of amoral criminals were utterly oblivious to the high standards of morals and tolerance that the Prophet exuded, and acted under an illusion of protecting the sanctity of his prophethood by inflicting a devastating blow to the very message his religion exemplifies. Of course, it is neither prudent nor moral to insult…