October 30, 2005

Sistani Fatwa Against USA?

If suspicion becomes reality in Iraq, and the Grand Ayatollah Sistani issues a fatwa (a religious edict) that the United States must leave Iraq, then Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush will have no choice but to bring American troops home, concludes Juan Cole at Informed Comment.

It is worth visiting the website of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani to gain some insight into how he might interpret the new Constitution and laws promulgated by the new Iraqi legislative process.

Here are some particularly interesting Sistani answers (istifta) to questions posed to him by Muslim believers.

-- Playing chess is a means for debauchery. It is forbidden, and although the reason why it is forbidden is not known, it is still forbidden;

-- Having cat's hair on your clothing while praying is okay;

-- Here's a question and answer regarding the veil for women:

Question : What are the minimum requirements of Hijab (Islamic modest dress) for a Muslim woman?
Answer : Woman should conceal her body and hair from a man who is non-Mahram [non-family], and as an obligatory precaution, she should conceal herself even from a Na-baligh [prebuscent] boy who is able to discern between good and evil, and could probably be sexually excited. But she can leave her face and hands upto wrists uncovered in the presence of Na-Mahram [non-family], as long as it does not lead him to casting a sinful, evil glance or her to doing something forbidden; for in both these cases, she must cover them.

I wonder who decides whether "he" is casting a sinful, evil glance?

-- Oral sex is okay, but not swallowing (which, of course, is biologically and physically impossible), and, by the way, having sex in front of a mirror is okay;

-- Women's menstruation gets a number of questions with Sistani's answers;

-- Masturbation is out (although it doesn't even seem to be a consideration for women);

-- Abortion is not permitted;

-- Adultery (zina) only occurs when there is penetration (Bill Clinton take note);

-- "...if a boy of ten years of age divorces his wife, precaution must be exercised; (hmmm)

-- "Temporary marriage" , even for the purpose of getting it on and even if you are already married, is apparently acceptable as long as all the males in the family agree;

-- After the age of two, the right of custody of children becomes solely that of the father.


It's going to be interesting to see how much impact Sistani will have on the new government of Iraq, its legislative process and its judicial process as well. As these bodies issue rules, regulations and pass laws, just how big an impact will Sistani and other religious rulers like Muqtada al-Sadr have?

Certainly, if they decide the time has come for the US to leave Iraq, we will have no choice.

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