The crux of the tension endemic in the paradox which is the “Islamic Republic” (which paradox’s ineluctable multi-generational project it is to resolve): One of the great challenges is to integrate a contemporary value, the rule of law (which is – by definition – impersonal and rigid and blind; bureaucratic), with the traditional values of a personal and adaptive and wise and caring patriarch (as personified, or better, as reified in the person of the current Vali-e Amr, who is quite literally the second Substitute (badal, pl. abdaal) after Imam Khomeini, in the finally initiated dayerat ul-wilaayah (Cycle of Guardianship), which followed after 1038 years (941 – 1979) after the Twelfth Imam faded into his Greater Occultation (which Cycle of Imamat was itself initiated by the Event of Ghadir Khum and the revelation of ayah 5:67). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith_of_the_pond_of_Khumm for more on that blessed event, or here http://www.al-islam.org/ghadir/incident.htm for more detailed information from original texts.
So in this tension between the Reformists and Principalists, as my friend (whom I’ll call Mr. Soros in order to protect the guilty) put it, the duties and powers described in Article 110 of the Constitution is thus considered the limits of his authority by the Reformists, whereas it is considered its floor by the Principalists. Whereas the reformists’ argument is that if 110 is the floor, then one might as well not even have a constitution, as it is a meaningless document, the principalists’ argument is that if it is the ceiling, then that is tantamount to denying the reality of the velayat (Divinely-ordained Guardianship) of the vali-e amr, which is tantamount to denying the reality of the Cycle of Velayat, which is tantamount to maintaining that God is not upholding His end of the bargain struck on the Day of Alast (where He promised to provide us with Guidance and Guardianship as long as we made the effort to follow His will and to remain on the Straight Path). In other words, by making the provisions of 110 the ceiling rather than the floor of that [divinely-ordained] Authority, the Reformers are removing the pole that holds up the tent under which God’s plans are to come to fruition; and by so doing, their interpretation of that Article ultimately desacralizes the institution and turns the Islamic Republic into a convoluted and second-rate form of a (secularized) humanist polity. One maintains that the Reformists’ position denies the Islamicity of the Islamic Republic, while the other maintains that the Principalists’ position denies its republicanism. But this latter position is correct only if one thinks of the Islamic Republic as simply a Republic, and ignores its Islamic nature. And one can only do this if one is so enamored by the appeal of secular liberal democracy as to be completely oblivious to the history and culture of Shi’a Islam, and its insistence on the maintenance of the integration of church and state, and its elevation of its clergy, the fuqaha, to the guardians of that polity and to the ultimate arbiters of that politico-religious dispensation.
The resolution of the paradox, therefore, will follow the vector that will disabuse the “reformers” of their ignorant illusions, and bring them back into the fold of the mainstream of Shi’a Islam, inshallah.
As to the concern about the abuse of power, that is what the Guardian Council is there to “guard” against. It is its primary brief. It is the guardian which ensures that all state functionaries function in accordance with the sacred laws of Islam, including the Vali.
Posted by Arash Darya-Bandari