Thursday, August 14, 2008

Iranian Islamism II

Shiite Islamism succeeded in one respect beyond what Sunni Islamism was able to accomplish. They conquered a nation, Iran. The Iranians welcomed the charismatic Ayatollah as their leader and submitted themselves to Islamism. Iran was the first Islamist nation. Furthermore, since the bulk of Shiites are in Iran, the fortunes of Shiism as well as Shiite Islamism are tied to Iran.

The second largest group of Shiites is in Iraq, but as we have seen, they were suppressed by Saddam Hussein. A minority, estimated at 1% of the Iraqi Shiites side with the Islamists of Iran, and engaged in efforts to thwart the democratization of Iraq, but that failed. The bulk of the Shiites in Iraq seem thus far to favor democratization. Iraqi Shiites as well as Iraqi Kurds gave us intelligence information and encouraged our efforts to liberate Iraq.

Shiite Islamists have been plenty violent. Islamism, in the form of the Hizbollah, was exported to Lebanon by the Ayatollah Khomeini. He urged violence in the same way that Sayyid Qutb did. But there were many who thought that the Khomeini might be the Mahdi, and if he wasn't, he was sure to be getting instructions from him. Just as Dispensational Christians are often found waiting atop some mountain for the Lord's return, so are the Shiite Muslims sometimes found eyeing charismatic leaders in hopes that they might be the Mahdi. For if Khomeini was the Mahdi, and he was urging the faithful to go off and kill infidels (which he did) then the restoration of all things must be near.

But the Mahdi probably isn't going to die of prostate cancer and if Khomeini isn't the Mahdi then the urgency to kill infidels is no longer present in Iranian Islamism -- at least that is my speculation about why the fervency seems to have gone out of Iranian Islamism since Khomeini's death. This takes nothing away from Ahmadinejad’s threat, but that isn’t quite the same thing.

Lawrence Helm

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