Asia Instances | Rumi: Iran’s most well-known Sufi faces fatwa at dwelling

Two high-ranking clerics in Iran have issued fatwas in opposition to the manufacturing of a film based mostly on the lifetime of the 13th century Iranian poet and mystic Rumi and his religious mentor Shams Tabrizi, reigniting a long-simmering, divisive debate concerning the function of spiritual authorities within the public lifetime of Iranians.

Born in 1207, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is a celebrated Persian poet, theologian and Islamic scholar whose didactic epic Masnavi-yi Maʿnavi (Religious Couplets), comprising six books of poetry that quantity to 25,000 verses or 50,000 strains, has enormously influenced mystical thought and literature all through the Muslim world and is often known as the “Persian Quran.”

Rumi, referred to as Mowlana in Iran, is certainly some of the eminent and universally-loved poets of all time. In 1997, Christian Science Monitor declared him the best-selling poet in the USA.

It was introduced just lately that Hassan Fathi, a well-liked Iranian filmmaker and director, is planning to make a film depicting the lifetime of Rumi and his companionship with Shams Tabrizi, one other 13th century Iranian poet, who influenced Rumi significantly, and to whom Rumi devoted one in all his eloquent masterpieces, named Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi.

Whereas the announcement drew applause and endorsement from Iranians, particularly on the social media, Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a senior non secular authority issued a fatwa, or non secular decree, announcing the manufacturing of such a film forbidden.

Ayatollah Makarem’s declaration was adopted by an analogous fatwa by Ayatollah Hossein Noori-Hamedani, one other high-ranking Iranian Shia cleric, who additionally said that such a film should not be produced.

The 2 grand ayatollahs, who’ve hundreds of followers throughout Iran, cited the subscription of Rumi and Shams Tabrizi to Sufism as grounds for his or her opposition to the film. They’d, on different events prior to now, decried Rumi and Shams for his or her adhesion to the ideas of Islamic mysticism. 

Giving reference to a saying by the sixth Shiite Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, Noori-Hamedani instructed a group of seminarians, who had requested for his views concerning the manufacturing of the film, that the adherents of Sufism are “enemies” of Islam and selling them in any type is forbidden.

An image supplied by the workplace of Iran’s Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on March 21, 2019, reveals him addressing crowds of Iranians gathering within the northeastern holy metropolis of Mashhad for a celebration of Noruz, the Persian New Yr. Photograph: Handout

‘Drunk on Love’

Sufism is a mystical type of Islam that emphasizes the inward seek for God, rejects materialism and is at odds with the beauty studying of faith and spiritual texts. Its modern-day proponents cherish tolerance and pluralism, to the annoyance of spiritual extremists.

Sufis have been persecuted and harassed throughout the Muslim world, together with in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Somalia, Pakistan and Iran.

The famous Iranian director Hassan Fathi has nonetheless determined to spotlight the lifetime of Rumi and his companion Shams in a brand new movie. In a rustic through which alcohol is banned, Fathi selected the title, “Drunk on Love”, highlighting Rumi’s use of wine as a logo in his poetry. 

Rumi spent the ultimate years of his life within the modern-day Turkey and is buried within the metropolis of Konya. Yearly, hundreds of overseas guests pay tribute to his mausoleum in Konya and attend Sama dance ceremonies by whirling dervishes.

A longstanding dichotomy of faith versus nationalism, intensified following the 1979 revolution, has made cultural decision-makers, together with the state tv, the ministry of tradition and unbiased traders skeptical in direction of prioritizing inventive productions that make clear the lifetime of Iran’s nationwide figures.

Nearly all of historic motion pictures produced in Iran have non secular undertones and themes. Critics have warned that this extreme emphasis on non secular motifs and an ignoring of outstanding nationwide icons, together with poets, students and scientists will make younger folks alienated with their previous and indifferent from their id.

The vocal opposition of two high-ranking clerics to the manufacturing of a film about some of the distinguished heavyweights of Persian literature must be seen in opposition to the backdrop of 4 a long time of antipathy in direction of the manifestations of Iranian tradition and Persian civilization by non secular zealots who’ve been laboring relentlessly to make Islamism a potent issue and the dominant political ideology in post-revolution Iran, versus patriotism and nationalism, which they reprehend.

For a similar cause, the annual celebrations of Persian New Yr, Nowruz, courting again no less than 3,000 years, far past the appearance of Islam in Iran, have confronted constant efforts towards marginalization by non secular conservatives and supreme authorities of the nation. 

Women cheer during a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia at Azadi Stadium in Tehran in October. Photo: AFP
Girls cheer throughout a pleasant soccer match between Iran and Bolivia at Azadi Stadium in Tehran in October. Photograph: AFP

The controversial fatwas

Fatwas by Iran’s non secular authorities, which explicitly encroach on social, cultural and inventive issues will not be unprecedented. Shiite jurists in Iran imagine it’s their accountability to touch upon politics, tradition, the financial system, and social affairs and to subject fatwas at any time when, of their view, the ideas of Islam are jeopardized.

Maybe essentially the most well-known instance of such authorized opinions was the one issued by the late founding father of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 1989, he issued a fatwa that Salman Rushdie, the outstanding British Indian novelist, must be killed over publishing the controversial novel The Satanic Verses, which the Muslims thought-about to be blasphemous and insulting to Prophet Muhammad. Rushdie acquired a number of loss of life threats and quite a few makes an attempt on his life on account of the fatwa. 

In 2017, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa voicing opposition to Iranian girls attending males’s soccer matches in stadiums. A number of different senior clerics issued fatwas echoing his views. Nevertheless, after years of campaigning by Iran’s girls activists and strain by the worldwide soccer governing physique, FIFA, the Iranian authorities just lately lifted the ban on girls getting into stadiums as spectators.

The fatwa on the film about Rumi and Shams is non-binding, and until there may be specific disapproval by the Supreme Chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who can be a Shiite jurist and has the ultimate say on all issues in Iran, it’s extremely doubtless that the movie can be produced as deliberate.

İbrahim Çelikkol, a famous Turkish actor, has been added to the film’s forged and can be a part of the favored Iranian stars Shahab Hosseini and Parsa Pirouzfar, who had been beforehand picked to play Shams Tabrizi and Rumi.

The movie can be shot not in Iran, however in Konya, Turkey.

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