Friday prayers as it unfolded

Here is a put together as best as can be done of today’s words at the Friday prayers ceremony. The bulk comes from the maginifcent translations of  “Night Owl” on the Anonymous Iranm website and “Pedestrian” on a site called sidewalklyrics.com. There may be some confusion over the order of certain passages which hopefully will be cleared up later, and some vital parts still appear to be missing – if the quotes carried by some news reports are correct:

The event began with an address by Hojatoleslam Taghavi, described as the head of the organisation that oversees the Friday Imams, which seemed to be setting tight parameters for Rafsanjani’s sermon.

“Whoever participates in the Friday prayers is strengthening his ties with the leader. … The Imam is speaking on behalf of the supreme leader and thus must only speak of those policies approved by him. The Imam must organise his speech according to these policies. … This podium and this gathering must never be used on behalf of any political party or political cause. The Friday prayer is a prayer said in allegiance with the supreme leader. It is a prayer of unity and brotherhood. The Imam must only speak of those policies approved by the supreme leader…  Unity is a policy that must be propagated by the Friday prayer. Respect for the law is another such policy. We must accept the law even if it is not to our advantage. …We must accept everything the leader said during his Friday sermon a few weeks ago.”

Rafsanjani then took to the podium to loud chants of  “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader”. Rafsanjani implored the crowd: “Please sit down so we can make time for the speech. This is a holy place, lets not let things get out of control.” The chants continued for a while, then Rafsanjani was finally able to start his sermon.

” Before I give out the khotba [Friday sermon] I must say that the people who have gathered in Tehran University and in the streets should know that Friday prayers should not be tainted with slogans and chants that do not belong here.  This is a sacred and an Islamic act. … The enemies of Islam want to question the legitimacy and effectiveness of our regime.

“… Today’s Friday prayer is in ways very similar to the first ever prayers led by AyatollahTaleghani. I hope that we can use this prayer for the betterment of the future of our country and the goals of the revolution. … I have a main part to my speech. It will be about the most critical aspects of Islam. The second part of my speech will be about the goals of the revolution, the goals people have worked for and have given their blood for and have been the endeavours of our Imam [Khomeini]. I want to clarify the goals of the revolution to the young. The third part will be about current day events and the conditions we are in. I will try to draw out solutions the way I see them. Of course, these will be my personal opinion.”

” … What we learn about  government from Islam is this: follow God and then the people. The Qoran  mentions Allah 3,000 times, and the word for people has been used  four to five hundred times. What Mohammad did mostly was to create love and unity between the people.

“The first thing Mohammad did was unite all the tribes in Medina. Then he went to the people of other religions. When Jews, Christians and people of other religions came to Medina he talked to all of them and he created a unity within the city, a brotherhood between everyone inside the city, between Muslims and non-Muslims. This was a pact between brothers, between different religions. This created eternal peace inside a small city. This small city was able to use this peace to topple gigantic empires.

“The government that Mohammad brought was unprecedented. There were governments, but they were autocracies and they acted against the people. Mohammad brought a government that was for the people, based on God’s law.When Gabriel came to Mohammad and gave him the first words of the Qoran [recites those first verses], this was when the future of Mohammad was made clear to him. … God created man and gave him understanding and the power to write. .. He tells us that we have him as the judge and when we die he will remember everything we have done. Thus, we shouldn’t be arrogant, we should consider God’s creatures weak, because He is the judge. [more religious references]

“Let us ask what sort of society the prophet wanted. Mohammad wanted all humans to have all the rights. He didn’t want anyone’s rights to be infringed. [Starting to look tearful] One of the last things he said before he died was: ‘Oh people, I came to say goodbye to you. If  I have said something to you and I have not done it, please let me know. If I have taken something from you, then tell me so I could give it back. I don’t want anything to be left for the afterlife.’ This is the kind of leader we have. He paved the way for Islamic unity. [recites a verse from Qoran about unity of Muslims]. God has put love between humans. It was god who created love between Muslims. That’s how Mohammad created a society that was united as one.

“But when he was dying, he realised that this might come to an end and that people might break apart and become enemies with one another. [ He explains a couple of incidents that created rifts between earlier Muslims]. Know that Mohammad is the ideal for everyone, for all Muslims, for all humans. His life in Medina is the best example for how a government should operate. He fought alongside his friends and his loved ones at times when he was being attacked from all sides.

“Then a day came when his friends captured the Empires of the Sassanids. But at the end of his life, he realised that there might be rifts between Muslims and their unity might be in danger.  [At this point he was visibly crying]. The prophet felt that his old friends were now enemies. The prophet went to Baghi [where his old friends were buried] and said to them: you are lucky that you are no longer here to see that your old brothers are killing and destroying one another. …

“In his ten years of prophecy, Mohammad created a system upon which we have based our own revolution… [Praying for the martyred members of Mohammad’s family]”

Rafsanjani began the second part of his sermon, as is customary, by announcing the upcoming dates of religious significance.

“May all the oppressors who make innocent people bleed be a witness to eternal condemnation. [More chants] I asked you, I pleaded with you to let me speak. [more chants]”

He than spoke about China’s treatment of  Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province. “I want to talk about the death of Chinese citizens recently [chants of ‘Freedom, freedom’ and ‘Death to China’]. People, I have asked you all to not chant slogans, I am asking you as your Imam at this prayer. The government of China has quelled the protests.  We would like to give them some brotherly advice. There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. China should pay attention to its relations between itself and them. Such cruelty could destroy those relations. China has a rational government. It must look at how it can benefit from its relations with the Islamic world. We hope that we will no longer be witness to such atrocities towards Muslims in China or anywhere else in the world. There is fighting in Palestine and Pakistan and other places. Hopefully they will stop.

“But coming to our own problems. We started off very well in the [election]. Everything went well and smoothly. The four candidates talked in an open environment. People became very hopeful. Everything was set for a glorious day. This glory was due to the people. We should have been proud of this election, because people went to vote in large numbers. We should thank them for voting, for taking part in the election in such huge numbers. Alas, if only that environment continued to this day.

“Unfortunately, that was not the case. I will now elaborate. We must first see what we were after. This is coming from a person who was always by the Imam [Khomeini’s] side. For 60 years the Imam was always after the people, after getting their approval and their participation. This was the art of the Imam which made him so successful. It took the Imam less than 20 years to get the people to come to the streets. These people, the ones who were behind the Imam, broke the back of the Shah and brought him to his knees.

“What does the revolution want?  You are listening to someone who has been with the revolution for every minute. We know what Imam Khomeini wanted, what his ideas were. Imam Khomeini always said that you should always listen to the people, see what the people want. If  the people are with us, then we have everything. The Islamic Revolution was the way of Mohammad. People should be brought into the system first.  This is why Imam Khomeini was successful. It took years of hardship for us to get to where we are. We remember when people filled the streets,  when they took to protesting with the Imam Khomeini against a government that was getting help from the East and the West. But the people stood firm and they succeeded.  After the success of the revolution, we worked on a daily basis with Imam Khomeini. He would always say that without the participation of the people the Islamic government would never be successful. The role that Imam gave the people was very high: the Imam would always quote the prophet who would say to Ali  [Mohammad’s successor] ‘Leave the people if they do not want you’.”

Rafsanjani then refers to Khomeini’s  command to Mehdi Bazargan to form a temporary government. “But the Imam tells him to keep it short to pave the way for the constitution. [loud chants] We agreed that you would stop chanting.

When we were writing the new constitution, we asked the Imam for advice. He put a lot of emphasis on the role of the people. He also knew that the people’s vote was the most important thing inside our country.  Everything depended upon the people’s vote.  People should directly elect the president, the parliament, the local council. It was all about the vote of the people. If we do not have the votes of the people behind us, we will have nothing. The guardian council, the expediency council, everyone gets their legitimacy from the vote of the people.

“”This is a theocracy, a theocratic republic. [chanting] Be patient, be calm. If the government is not islamic, then we are heading nowhere. If it is not a republic, then it doesn’t amount to anything. [more chants but this time they appear to be pro-Moussavi. He stops again] … [Imam] Ali waited 19 years until the people came for him. [more chants] Stop chanting. Why did the elections come to this? Before the election, near the end, some people doubted what was going to happen. Maybe because of the way the broadcasting corporation behaved.

“… At the end of the [election] process there were people who created false propaganda. [People chanting really  loudly] A lot of people became suspicious. There are two currents. One doesn’t have any doubt and is moving ahead with their job. And there are a large portion of the wise people who say they have doubts. We need to clear their suspicions.  Today, we need unity more than ever.   Our country needs to be united against this danger.  My brothers, my sisters, my view is this: we should all think together so our country could remain united against this danger that is facing us.  Our enemies are trying to destroy our unity. I have several proposals for this … The most important thing that has happened is that the trust that brought the people to vote in such large number is not there any more.  We need to return this trust. [We need to observe the law]. And I’m talking about the government, the parliament, the Islamic Courts and the security forces.  We need to follow the laws. All problems can be solved if we only follow the framework of the laws. …

“Some are chanting and I can’t make out what they say. But I am speaking what you want to hear. I want unity too. I have never acted across party lines and now too we must search for unity to find a way out of our quandary. I have some suggestions. I have spoken to some members of the the expediency council and the assembly of experts about them too.

“We must bring back the trust of the people. First of all, everyone must accept the law. The people, the parliament, everyone. We must create a condition where all sides can come together and discuss their issues. so that everyone can speak. We need to be able to sit down like brothers and sisters and talk logically about our differences. And a part of this is on the shoulders of the broadcasting corporation.

“Unfortunately, the guardian council did not make good use of the extra five days given to them by the leader.  But we still have time to unite. We shouldn’t imprison our own people, we should let these people return to their homes. We shouldn’t let our enemies laugh at us because we’ve imprisoned our own people. [More chants of Allah-o Akbar] We must join hands with those who have incurred great loss and try to console them and bring them back closer to the system. We should not be impatient now. Please do not censor media outlets that have legally obtained permits. Let them do what they want to do legally. Allow a peaceful and friendly environment to prosper.

“We are all members of the same family. We must remain friends and allies. Why have we gone so far as to pain some of our marjas [top religious leaders]? I hope this sermon will pave a way out of this current situation, a situation that can be considered a crisis.

“We are all together in the Islamic revolution; we’ve all spent years in suffering; we’ve all given martyrs for the cause of the revolution. This unity needs to fostered. I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve this unity in the future and I’m hopeful we will get out of this situation based on the wishes of the people and a consensus among the leaders.

“May God bless you all May God keep you all safe and keep you with this spirit around.”

His sermon ended to the chants of ‘The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader’ and ‘Hashemi, Hashemi, may god keep you safe’.

sidewalklyrics.com, Anonymous Iran

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One response to “Friday prayers as it unfolded

  1. Pingback: Clashes reported in Tehran « Iran Election 2009

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