Interview of Economist's editor-in- chief with Grand Ayatollah Saanei
In the name of Allah
Economist, based in London, is one of the most popular and best-seller magazines in the world, published in London with more than one million issues and distributed world wide. In economic affairs it supports free trading and in social attitude is liberalistic.
Economist's editor of Middle East and Africa service interviewed Grand Ayatollah Saanei about different matters in Islamic laws and politics. Ayatollah Saanei, in response to a question about the quality of people's religious beliefs explained, "The number of people with strong religious beliefs has probably reduced, but believers sure enjoy outstanding quality, because these ideas are freely chosen."
He also emphasized on the improvement of moralities after the Islamic revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini in the society. "However, passage of time causes many changes, weakness and shortage in any revolution. At the time of Imam Khomeini Iranian society was due forward, and now if we use those who were considered by Imam Khomeini as honest and trustworthy, or those who know Imam well, there is a chance to return to a forward process."
He mentioned that the death of Imam Khomeini caused an irreparable shock to Iranians. "We try to compensate it, and we should inevitably face problems." In his idea through legalization and administration of the thoughts of Imam Khomeini’s followers and adherents, officials can save people and society. As an example, he noted the participation of people in elections at Imam's time, which was more than 80% of them, but now fewer people take part in elections.
In response to a question about the attitude of Ayatollah Sistani toward Islamic government in Iraq, Ayatollah Saanei said he sincerely respects Ayatollah Sistani, and he is a pious and prudent person. He believes spiritual leaders should not necessarily rule the government, but the state should defend and support security, justice and freedom. It must be chosen by election and must carry out Islamic methods. Therefore, the leaders can be people other than clergymen.
"The ideologies of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Sistani or Ayatollah Khoie about the government are completely different, but it doesn’t separate these honorable men. Therefore, we see that at the time, Imam Khomeini's older son, passed away in Najaf, Iraq, he asks Ayatollah Khoie to perform funeral pray elder.
In response to a question about the difference between Shiite and Sunni scholars, he answered there's no great difference between their ideas about government and politics. Because of the developments of societies and respecting democracy, Muslims accept such governments and if they are different, it is in their religious rules and individual affairs.
In another part of this interview, the editor – in – chief of Economist asked some questions about Islamic rules such as girl's age of maturity, equality of blood- money for men and women, women's rights, rules of following an spiritual leader, stoning to death and social effects of each one of them. Ayatollah Saanei answered: "The age of maturity for girls was a religious theory which was formulated 15 years ago considering all principles and methods in interpreting religious rules. "He mentioned that, "These innovations are like moving on a way to make people mere familiar with the truth of religion and make them believe it willingly. Afterwards some more useful and thoughtful issues have arisen which have many supporters among religious scholars nowadays, e.g. equal blood-money for all respected people, men and women regardless of their religion, nationality and race. In Islamic punitive law the punishment is the same for all Muslim and Non – Muslim men and women, except some cases in which Islam has made some easier punishments for women. Nevertheless, unfortunately in implemented law these are not reconsidered. I am sure if Imam was alive, those ideas would become a law. We also believe that women can hold any position like being a president, a leader or a religious leader. The criteria are competence, power to do works and good management. Another point is the punishment like stoning to death. Some scholars believe that punishments like this are just suitable in the time of Great prophet and his successors and nowadays, punishment should be other than execution. Some other scholars support the belief that to prove these crimes we cannot use our law and it is difficult to prove them, therefore other punishments than stoning to death and execution should be considered. However, if someone murders a human, a human, he should, be executed as retaliation.
At the end, he noted that Iranians love their religion and they truly respect Imam Khomeini, his thoughts and sayings.