Here’s an item from NightWatch‘s Robert McCreary:

Iran: For the record. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei provided the following guidance in response to a question about whether it was sinful to use social media.

“In general, the use of social networking websites (such as Facebook, FriendFeed, Orkut, etc) is impermissible if their use entails a corrupt action (such as promoting corruption, spreading lies and false subjects) or if it creates fear of committing a sin, or if it boosts the enemies of Islam and Muslims, or if it is against the Islamic Republic’s laws.”

Comment: Khamenei’s comment is worth noting by a Western Readership for two reasons. First is that it shows how Shi’i Muslims are expected to ask their role models for emulation – the ayatollahs — for guidance on everyday activities ranging from eating to using social media.

The second reason is that the Ayatollah’s response conflates fear of committing sin with violations of the laws of the Islamic Republic or just boosting the enemies of Islam. In this moral architecture, illegality and evil are the same. That means that a traffic offense or other violation of national law is a sin, just like failure to keep the Ramadan fast, for example.

That is not how Iranian law works in daily practice, to be sure, but it is the thinking of the religious leadership and the extremely devout. The West generally abandoned such thinking before the Renaissance.

Mr. McCreary’s comment, in turn, is worth noting in that it shows he felt the need to point out to Western readers what should be completely unremarkable to anyone with an understanding of Islam, and in particular Shi’a Islam: that it is a complete, all-embracing system that provides explicit instruction for every aspect of human life; that in Shi’a Islam the guidance of the Prophet is moderated by a divinely inspired clergy; and most important of all, that the separation of religious from secular authority — in other words, the subordination of man to Man’s laws rather than God’s — is a fundamental sin.

Rhetorical question: How, in this day and age, can any educated person living in the West not know all of this?

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One Comment

  1. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘educated person’ is, especially one who is living in the West.”

    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink