Friday, July 19, 2013

Muslim Mothers for Peace


“The bombing culminated a violent two days in Iraq that left around 60 people dead.There appears to be no let up in the violence between Shi'ites and minority Sunnis, which the United Nations says has killed more than 2,500 people since April.
 Iraqi Sunnis complain that the Shi'ite-led government ignores their needs and is marginalizing them politically. The Associated Press reports Sunni and Shi'ite clerics delivered a joint Ramadan sermon Friday in Baghdad, calling for an end to the violence and a united Iraq.”
The above is an example of news reports we hear every day, about dark events happening in our world.
 In recent years we have witnessed a constant rise in sectarian violence among various groups particularly among   Shia and Sunni  factions. This violence has disrupted the social balance and the chain of normal life in many societies. In addition to Pakistan and India where we were accustomed to hearing news of bombings on religious occasions, now the sectarian divide has spread to Iraq, Syrian , Lebanon and even Egypt. Afghanistan also faces recurrent waves of violence both sectarian and anti occupation in nature.
Eventhough, there are certain differences in historical narratives and interpretations among  Shia and Sunni sects, but the majority of the basic precepts are common among the two schools. The Scripture, ie the Holy Quran is completely identical for all Muslims as are the pillars of the Religion.  Muhammad SA is the Prophet of all Muslims , the  ethicals standards and religious rituals are very similar. The basic differences are in the historical interpretations and the course of history after the demise of the Prophet. The trend of events after the Prophet led many believers to question the  justification of leaders particularly the  misdemeanors   of rulers who after  Ali Ibn Abitaleb took the affairs in their hands violating the basic teachings of the Prophet and  oppressing people by tyrannical  control over their resources and lives.
The history of colonial rule in Islamic societies indicates that occupying and colonial forces have exploited   the few differences among  Islamic  schools of thought to strengthen  their rule and control over the  wealth and resources of  Muslim nations. Now, after what has been inflicted upon Muslim societies in the region the sectarian divide has become deadly and more violent.
I had and interview with an international news agency and I proposed a campaign of Muslim Mothers  for Peace. The proposal has been welcomed by many media and social activists. We hope to launch the campaign in close collaboration with Sunni and Shia sisters and brothers worldwide.
The main objectives are awareness raising, advocacy and promotion of understanding among the Shia and Sunni  schools and a strong denunciation  of violence and terror .

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winds of Change in Ramazan

We need to change the current trend of affairs in today's world. The world is suffering from an acute case of mismanagement. global powers intervene in the affairs of nations only to secure their interests. It seems that nothing is in its place.The ongoing escalation of violence in many parts of the world, the widening gap between rich and poor nations, the scourge for more wealth and prosperity among the rich and insecurity, poverty and hatred among the miserable masses has taken the world to the verge of unsustainability . The world has not become a better place for people after the world powers intervened in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Palestine,  in Libya, in Syria. Now, Snowden tells us that the details of our lives are all under the scrutiny of the US intelligence apparatus, the so called  leading country  of freedom and human rights in the world is now accused of controlling everything to maintain its supremacy and control over the wealth, resources and peoples of the world. What can we do as humans who aspire for justice and peace. 
 In  2004, as the Vice President of Iran  and during the Khatami Administration , I was invited to deliver a speech at the University of Seoul. The conference hall was jammed with students and academics who were curious to hear from a woman Vice President from Iran.

In that session I spoke about the common aspirations of human societies , about the fact that many global challenges including environmental degradation and the widening gap between rich and poor nations are rooted in the distorted lifestyles that we humans pursue. We need to improve ourselves individually and collectively in terms of  consumption patterns,  destruction of the natural environment, violence, war and abrogation of human rights.Today we come to the conclusion at the international level that we need to change lifestyles and attitudes in order to correct the current unsustainable trends. I mentioned the need for an inner journey to correct the attitudes and behavior that has become so detrimental. The Four Journeys of Mulla Sadra could be taken as a model , where four stages of cognition and spiritual upliftment were included, I noted. I was fascinated to hear the very intelligent questions and the level of understanding that Korean students displayed to concepts which came from a very distant country and culture but which touched common human values and aspirations. 
The inner journey we all aspire for may begin with the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a chance to change the monotonous routine of our self-centered and egoistic lives . It is a chance to see beyond the material limits of the self and by closing doors on material senses and desires, to open a door to the mystical realm of the spirit. Ramadan is the month when Muslims refrain from eating and abstain from desires. One should endeavor to refrain from lying and all other sins during this holy month. Ramadan is a time for the inner journey for perfection.  Ramadan has benefits for both the mind and the body as well as the spirit. Eating, sleeping and work behaviors are all altered during this month paving way for a new lifestyle during the whole year ahead.
Ramadan tells us that in order to change the world people need to change their lifestyles, their attitudes, their desires and behavior needs to change before they can change their society and change the current trend of affairs in today's world. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Pressures Against Iran

Fair and peaceful elections in Iran led to the election of Hassan Rouhani as the eighth president of Iran. Hassan Rouhani who called for moderation and alleviation of the pressures on political activists and press enjoyed the overwhelming support of the reformists and moderate centrist groups. The victory of Rouhani who also called for a more balanced and rational approach in dealing with the Western powers, has been considered as a major political development for Iran. Iranians made the best of the circumstances they faced. Indicating that the nation had used its democratic rights to change the current power construct and radical political orientation, these elections consolidated the country's position in future negotiations and diplomatic ventures.
Many analysts and even ordinary people on the street  presumed that this change of course in political trends would enable the West and the Obama administration to take a more sensible direction on Iran.    They believed that these elections would deliver a signal of abiding to democratic values, dialogue and understanding to the world and  lessen the pressure of the sanctions against the people. Realizing that the people are now genuinely behind their President -elect,  it was speculated that the Western powers would get the message and change their strategy on Iran to reach a viable solution that would reasonably satisfy both sides of the equation.
The recent sanctions imposed by the American Congress however indicated otherwise.  The House Foreign Affairs Committee has also produced a letter which indicates how biased and wrong they are about internal and foreign politics in Iran. I would propose that Congress members who have signed this letter should engage in an independent briefing with Iranian politicians living in the US, about the dynamics of internal politics in  Iran.
The election of Rouhani provides an opportunity for all. This window of opportunity can prevent further tensions and instability in the region and in the world. As before,  it seems that the American administration is giving the message that it is  not capable of translating Persian / Farsi texts and speeches or it may be that they are incapable of understanding the shrewd and intricate nature of the Iranian politics? The rest of the world and Europe better understand that the US has lost its credibility and objective approach on this matter. The EU needs to reassess the current course taken on Iran with due consideration of the recent political developments and change of direction in Iran.