There was an encrypted SMS message floating around on the eve of Ghadir Eid this week. In addition to Eid greetings, there was something in the text about the commencement of the shoe intifada .Alongside all the media coverage given to this event, this text message referring to the shoe-cide actions of the Iraqi reporter against President Bush, only less than 24 hrs after the event was very interesting.
I had the opportunity to attend a book launching ceremony in the Quran Museum on Wednesday. The museum is headed by Mr.Masjed Jamei , who was the Minister of Guidance during the reformist government and now is my colleague at the Tehran City Council. A copy of a hand written version of the Holy Quran, dating back to about 500 years ago ,during the Teimouri age, has been published by the Museum . The magnificent piece of art , including calligraphy and paintings or tazhib, as it is known , makes the manuscript unique and invaluable.
At the ceremony, held on the occaision of Eid Qadir. President Khatami mentioned the importance of this day, and noted how some use this day to highlight differences among Shia and Sunni and to emphasize each on their identity. Khatami spoke about the identity issue and how it is defined according to Imam Ali. He quoted a phrase from a famous sermon of Imam Ali calling to his governor Malik. In that sermon he sets the norms for good governance ,as we know to be a virtue for the global community even today. He notes: Fill your heart with the love of the people for they are two groups. Either they are your brothers and sisters in religion or they are your equals in humanity.
What Khatami stressed upon was that identity is an important challenge for individuals and societies. Imam teaches us that while maintaining your personal and religious identity, you should cherish your human identity since its recognition allows for a dynamic flow between cultures and religions, a valuable exchange of experiences and knowledge for humanity as a whole. The globalization processes entail a sort of negation of identity according to some. There are intentional efforts to install a single politically obedient consumerist and materialist culture as the world culture which would serve the interest of the few that claim to rule the world. On the other hand others consider fundamentalism as an effort to consider only one religion, culture, and identity to be authentic and everything else as fake. Global peace requires leadership that carries Imam Ali's vision.