“Mr. Behi” podcasts from Iran

The Iranian blogger who calls himself “Mr. Behi” and blogs at The Adventures of Mr. Behi, is now podcasting. In his inaugural show, he gives his personal perspective about the bombings in London, Iran's presidential election, and his recent misadventures in attempting to get a U.S. student visa upon acceptance to the PhD program of a major U.S. university. Click here fror Mr. Behi Episode One (MP3 19MB). You can subscribe to his podcast feed here. (The picture at right is the mug Mr. Behi drinks coffee from while blogging.)

In a separate post, Behi responds to somebody who posted a comment on his blog condemning Islam and saying: “Topple your own damned dictators and leave the rest of us alone.”

Mr. Behi's response is worth reading in full but here is an excerpt:

I am sorry that you live in a civil society and still you are not respecting the most principal fact of democracy that is respect for others. Just because some cruel people are out there who do not obey this universal rule, does not make us free from our dedication to the principals of dialogue. We are not living in an Island and by the way, do not point it at me because I am personally am not practicing any religion and have my own big list of questions from Islam.

Read the rest of his response here. Then he concludes:

We humans appeared on the surface of the Earth just some thousand years ago. We divided its united surface and perfectly matched environment into our lands as if they have been divided since beginning. There are lots of things out there that make us united and equal. We are at least residents of one beloved home The Mother Earth.

Amen. As we've been experiencing in our comments threads here , here, here, and here, emotions on the issue of religion and terrorism run very strong. People have a tendency to make blanket statements about all people who happen to have grown up within particular religious, cultural, and geographical contexts.

Mr. Behi is right. We are all human beings first and foremost. The Muslims and others from predominantly Islamic countries who participate on this blog are here because they share our belief that all human beings have a right to speak and be heard – no matter where they come from. If we don't maintain respect for people as individual human beings, it's unlikely we're going to win anybody over with our arguments.

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  • Muslim Scholars Lay Down the Law on “Fatwas”

    Sana Abdallah

    AMMAN, Jordan, July 6, 2005 — Over 170 Muslim scholars, thinkers and historians agreed Wednesday to forbid “takfeer,” or accusing other Muslims of apostasy, and decided to work out a criteria for issuing fatwas — religious edicts — in an attempt to unify the eight schools of Islamic thought and put an end to violence done in the name of the religion.

    The decision came in an unprecedented fatwa issued by leading clerics from the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence following three days of deliberations in the Jordanian capital, Amman, where scholars from over 40 countries gathered in the first International Islamic Conference.

    Dubbed “True Islam and its role in modern society,” the conference was a Jordanian attempt to repair the image of Islam amid growing violence being carried out in the name of the religion and the U.S.-led counterattack in its war against terror — where Islam and terrorism have almost become synonymous.

    While the final communiqué of the conference made no clear reference to violence, it tried to limit the religious approach used by militants to justify their violence through regulating the interpretation of Islam and issuing religious edicts.

    The final statement said the “schools of jurisprudence within Islam means adhering to a fundamental methodology in the issuance of fatwas: No one may issue a fatwa without the requisite personal qualifications which each school of jurisprudence defines.”

    It added that “no one may issue a fatwa without adhering to the methodology of the schools of jurisprudence and no one may claim to do absolute Ijtihad (interpretation) and create a new school of jurisprudence or to issue unacceptable fatwas that take Muslims out of the principles and certainties of Sharia (Islamic law).”

    Mainstream clerics have complained about what they call “religious chaos” that has been growing since the late 1980s, in which Salafi militants — those who have resorted to armed jihad — have used interpretations and fatwas of clerics aggravated by the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine, the U.S. policies in the region, and more recently, the war on terror and the American occupation of Iraq.

    The Islamic conference’s final statement made no political references and did not condemn terrorism against civilians, possibly to avoid opening a Pandora’s Box and to give credibility to these scholars who are seeking to win over the confidence of those who have resorted to violence and extremism.

    Participants at the conference said had the issue of condemning violence by Islamic militants been brought up, then condemning the violence of the U.S. forces in Iraq and the violence of the Israeli forces in Palestine could not be ignored.

    However, the statement clearly referred to the “takfeer” approach adopted by militants and their religious guides.

    It said that anyone belonging to one of the eight schools of thought in the Sunni and Shiite sects, as well as those who practice “true Sufism” (banned in most Muslim countries) is considered a Muslim and cannot be declared an apostate and therefore “his or her blood, honor and property are sacrosanct.”

    And what appears to be an attempt to avert the wrath of the Salafi militants and to try to attract them to the teachings of “true Islam,” the scholars said it was also “not possible to declare whosoever subscribes to true Salafi thought an apostate.”

    However, many factors are directly linked with the rise of Islamic militancy, primarily regional political conditions, the lack of freedom and democracy in their respective countries and poverty.

    Joseph Lumbard, an American Muslim and special advisor to Jordan’s King Abdullah on interfaith affairs, insists that addressing the religious factors is the most important way to uproot violence by simply referring to only one thing: Islam.

    “It is clearly unacceptable in Islam’s dictates of law to kill non-combatants,” he said, adding that the fatwa issued by the scholars in Amman might “put doubt in the minds” of militants that listen to the edicts issued by those going against the dictates of Islamic law.

    He told journalists the conference and the final fatwa (statement) was “just a first step…the religious component needs to be addressed on a religious basis, and this is what this conference is doing.”

    But Lumbard acknowledged that more work and effort needed to be made on all fronts — political, social and economic — and to combine all these efforts to address the totality of the problem of violence.

    So how much influence will these scholars have on the angry religious zealots who are wreaking havoc, especially that their militancy is being fueled by the U.S.-led war on terror that President Bush launched as a “crusade” in the aftermath of 9/11?

    Farouk Jarrar of Aal al-Bayt Foundation, an Islamic think tank that organized the conference, believes they have a lot of influence on the ground.

    He said that “some of these people in there have their television shows and their websites, they are highly influential. If they say that killing civilians is against Islam and must stop, it will stop,” or at least decline.

    But it might not be so simple, considering all the elements involving Islamic militancy.

    Lumbard, however, believes that if results of this conference puts one doubt in one militant’s mind that he is doing something wrong and it stops one car bombing, “then we have succeeded.”

    © 2005 United Press International


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