This form letter is touching...and one I'm going to send. All the campus activists at my college seemed to think that lots of form letters was better than nothing when writing to Congresspeople, so I assume the same psychological theories apply to scholars in Iran. (I can't alter the letter because I don't know enough about Islam's rules to do so!) Maybe he'll ignore that my name is female and Western and just assume I'm some sort of convert. It's one more letter, and letters add up, so I'm gonna give it a shot.
Ali Eteraz wrote:
This is a call for action.
We are going to write a nice and impassioned response to the Ayatollah who has called for the death of an Azerbaijani writer (his crime was to have included some of the Danish cartoon pics in an article he wrote).
Some of you (Muslims) may have a problem defending someone who published the cartoons. You have to understand, however, that we are not fighting here for the cartoons. They are irrelevant. We are fighting because the writer has been declared an apostate and the Ayatollah's fatwa is encouraging people, average people, to kill him. This is vigilante justice (which is haram under Islamic Law).
Then he says, "But before you act, you must learn what is happening," and gives some background. Click the link to see all that.
Here's the form letter he suggests writing (in Ali's words, "shoot the Grand Ayatollah an email (I list his addres below). He encourages feedback.")
As Salam O Alaykum, Grand Ayatollah (May God Lengthen Your Life):
I hope this letter reaches you in the best of health and faith.
I recently heard that you have declared the Azeri writer Rafik Tagi an apostate and have called for his death.
I implore you to please consider revising your opinion on this matter.
You may recall that you recently wrote to the Pope and said to him: "We can easily prove for him that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy." Therefore, I ask you to prove that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, by repealing your death fatwa against this writer.
You are of course aware of the famous du'a (supplication) "dua ya man azhar al jameel" which contains the lines:
"God will forgive his sins even if they are as much as the sea foam."
"God will forgive him such sins as theft, drinking wine, and other sins."
Certainly if God can exhibit such forgiveness, we should aspire to behave in an equally forgiving manner. It is what God wants from us.
Furthermore, you are aware that there is no death penalty for apostasy in the Holy Quran. In fact, there is no evidence here that this man has even left Islam. He never renounced his faith. As such, he cannot be an apostate. Imam Ali did not kill any men for an insult.
Further, your fatwa, which asks that the writer be put to death, encourages people to take the law into their own hands. You are aware that vigilante justice is a form of fasad fil ard (disorder in the land) and strictly prohibited by the Quran. In fact, the Quran recommends a very severe punishment for those that engage in fasad fil ard.
The best thing to do as a scholar, is to point out how this man went wrong, not to punish him. A scholar's role is to help people get closer to God. You, as a great scholar, as an 'alim, as an ayatollah, should not condemn, but guide. During the Ghaiba of Imam az Zama, the responsibility of the 'Alim is to guide the believer, not have them be killed.
You are a great leader and spiritual advisor with devotees the world over. I implore you not to advance the causes of injustice. This writer has already been punished by his nation. It is unnecessary and unIslamic for you to encourage people to kill him. Not only is this man not an apostate because he has never renounced his faith, but it is unjust to kill a man who has already served his sentence. I ask that you not follow the desires of your followers in Azerbaijan and revoke your death fatwa against the writer and his publisher.
I leave you with a verse from the Holy Quran:
O You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do. (Quran 4:135).
"Send emails here: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Or you can paste them into the question box." -Ali Eteraz