Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran
the book, and I query whether he is typical of Iranian mullahs or the very rare exception. An extraordinary book." * London Review of Books * "One of the top 75 books of the twentieth century" * Foreign Affairs * "The graceful prose and factual command. In fact, Persian poetry came to be the emotional home in which ambiguity that was at the heart of Iranian culture lived most openly and freely. As Sheikh Ansari taught, matters were settled according to "reason or tradition."211 People were also given the privilege to appeal matters, until such time as a desirable compromise was reached. Ali is from Qom, a well known city in Iran for its mullahs, and the reader endeavors with Ali along his path of becoming a Shi'a mullah. A turning point in Ali's life is marked by a newspaper article in which Algerian freedom fighters were trapped in a cave and burned alive by French troops. A new Ministry of Justice was installed and a new code of law which "ran against thirteen centuries of Islam - and more particularly Shiah - tradition."225 Titles were banned and people were "obliged to choose a fixed family d, 'mullah had become a legal. Interspersed through the book is poetry from Mowlana, Hafez, Omar Khayam, Ghazzali, and Ferdowsi, some of Persia's greatest poets. He sets the intimate biography of a young cleric against the vast epic of Iranian thought from Zoroaster to Avicenna, Kasravi to Khomeini. The protagonist, Ali Hashemi, born in 1943, is a Shi'a mullah and a sayyed, "a man entitled to wear the prophet's color green."16 It is through Ali's eyes that the reader is introduced to Iran. They had mutual problems, a common enemy, if you will.
Even Pavriz, Ali's childhood friend, called out while in prison, for the "Lion of God and Rostam, the son of Zal."270. On fourteen depositions by fourteen mullahs, he made a ruling with regard to a property dispute, without giving consideration to other evidence, or giving due process to the second party. Ali's character is delightfully refreshing from a western point of view, lending great insight into the life of the mullah, and giving a new understanding to the rise of Khomeini. Now, certainly, The Mantle of the Prophet is not a book designed to defend Khomeini, but to enlighten the reader as to how he came. Previously, the mullah, while respected was laughed at as a man "overwhelmingly preoccupied with two subjects: his income and narrow-minded rulings of the law."352 With growing nationalism, people now had more in common with their mullah. He referred to Qom as "something very alien and very familiar."24 Ali enjoyed music and was not against it as was mullah tradition. Before the fall of the Shah, beliefs, individuals, education, religion, and politics were allowed to rest idly in this ambiguous gray area, under the guise of "God willing, its a goat."181 Just as a pious muslim who has been sprayed with water from an unseen. And, now, a man reminiscent of a boy, who had once watched the war of the red ants against the black ants, must now bare witness to another war, black ants stamping out black ants. "The mosque and the bazaar are the two lungs of public life in Iran."34 Here, the soberness of the mosque is contrasted with the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
This revised edition includes a new chronology detailing events in Iran from the revolution right up to the present day and Ahmadinejad's controversial regime. Ali cannot find consolation in God, and he "finds if amazing that such an important change in his thinking should have taken place in a few minutes."115 Ali also studied Sufi mysticism in which he "saw the light"140, acquiring a knowledge that has been guarded. The West producing men such as "the saintly and brilliant theologian Thomas Aquinas 8 and in the East "thinkers such as Averroes."8 Mottahedeh describes the history of the Islamic educational system from its inception, discussing teachers such as Avicenna,"ng from Roger Bacon as saying,.the. Mottahedeh argues that it was this area of ambiguity which appeased them.
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