Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out Clear from Error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most Trustworthy Handhold, that never breaks, and God hears and knows all things. ~ The Qur’an. Al Baqarah (The Cow), 2:256
It doesn’t take an Islamic scholar to see that the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran is anything but, especially today. With increasing accounts of rape, torture, forced confessions, and judicial proceedings lacking even a semblance of due process, the Iranian government is quickly losing any credibility it had left, including any legitimate claim to Islam.
The same regime that once offered to send election observers to the United States after George W. Bush lost the popular vote and won the presidency is now refusing international observers of any variety, including journalists and human rights activists.
The Iranian people have witnessed this kind of hypocrisy first hand for over 30 years, and they are finally ready to call the regime out on it publicly, even if that means getting beaten, arrested, tortured, tear-gassed, unlawfully tried before a kangaroo court or murdered in the process.
In calling the “Islamic” Republic out on its duplicitous double standards, the opposition movement is using the Islam it finds in Qur’anic verses such as the one above to combat the mockery of Islam that has plagued Iran since 1979.
While the Islamic Revolution may have begun with a solid liberation theology, it quickly discarded that theology and the legitimacy that came with it when it began to force its distorted version of Islam onto the Iranian people. As a result, it has been the allegedly Islamic Republic of Iran itself that has best proven the point that Islam requires a secular state to thrive.
Islamic legal scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im asserts in his book Islam and the Secular State: “In order to be a Muslim by conviction and free choice, which is the only way one can be a Muslim, I need a secular state.”
So too, the Iranian people need a secular state, and at last, today, they are demanding it. They are doing so, moreover, with a level of creativity and resourcefulness all their own.
The chants of Allah-u Akbar (God is Great) from Iranian rooftops are neither an accident nor a novelty. They date back to the Islamic Revolution and serve as a call for unity and a reminder that no matter how much the government tries to suppress the people, it cannot defy their will and expect to maintain power. Nor can it succeed against the will of the Divine.
Today, the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran is taking its standard hypocrisy to a new level. Not only is the regime violating the basic tenets of Islam and disgracing the faith by claiming it as a justification for wholly ungodly and un-Islamic acts, it is also violating its own Constitution in doing so.
The regime’s crackdown on demonstrators and unlawful arrests are in clear violation of Articles 26, 27, and 39 of the current Iranian Constitution, which respectively guarantee a right to free association, free assembly, and a respect for the dignity of arrested individuals. Likewise, the most recent show trials also violate Iranians’ rights to counsel and a presumption of innocence under the 35th and 37th Articles of the Constitution. And all this says nothing of the regime’s flagrant violations of Article 38, which explicitly prohibits torture and forced confessions.
In short, rule of law, like peace of mind, is hard to come by in Iran today. Like a mirage, it continues to evade us. But necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and as Ishmael tapped his foot in the middle of the Arabian desert to bring rise to the sacred Well of Zamzam, so too, the Iranian people are marching their feet to the drum of democracy, tapping into a massive wellspring of hope.
With their minds, their souls and their feet, Iranians are building the foundations for a new nation: one where rule of law, peace of mind, freedom of religion and hope will reign supreme and one where the only supreme leader will be the will of the people themselves.