Khamenei’s Nuclear Fatwa: Truth or Lie?

Why we should polygraph the Iranian delegation at the Moscow P5+1 summit.

Iran: Nuclear Peace or Nuclear War?

Here’s a billion dollar question if there ever was one: Is Iran’s nuclear program destined for peaceful purposes only or to develop nuclear weapons?

On the one hand, Iran has crossed the 20% Uranium enrichment threshold and the IAEA reports are filled with Iranian evasions and transgressions but without the proverbial smoking gun. On the other hand, Iran stands firm in its statements that the program is meant for peaceful purposes only and that the suspicions by the West and the IAEA are based on political prejudices.

One of the main bases for Iran’s defense by all the relevant Iranian leaders in this issue is Khamenei’s famous “Nuclear Fatwa”, a religious and supposedly binding edict stating that “Iran is not seeking to have the atomic bomb, possession of which is pointless, dangerous and is a great sin from an intellectual and a religious point of view”. The Iranians and pro-Iranians have submitted the “Nuclear Fatwa” to the IAEA and the P5+1 delegates as “Proof” that their nuclear program is peaceful. The rest of the world seems to be split into those who don’t care about what goes on in Iran or want to believe this is true (like ostriches with their heads in the sand) and those who don’t understand how an oral religious edict can play such an important part in trying to answer the question “is Iran building a bomb?”.

Understanding the nature of a Fatwa

fatwa is a religious edict which is meant to be accepted as law, specially in Iran which is a country in which government and law are inseparable.

It is reported that Khamenei issued the “Nuclear Fatwa” sometime in 2005 and according to Iranian leaders it is as good as law, ensuring that Iran will never direct its nuclear program to create nuclear weapons.

Most modern day fatwas are written and can be found in numerous sites but a few remain oral. Fatwas are issued on a very wide variety of topics and some may seem quite weird to non-Islamic eyes. It is important to note that a Fatwa can be changed or rescinded and there have been numerous occasions of Fatwa cancellations in the past. The late Khomeini himself issued (1979) and then cancelled (1983) a Fatwa on the consumption of caviar.

This means that even if the “Nuclear Fatwa” is in effect today, Khamenei can cancel it any time he wants which may make those “ostriches” even more ridiculous than UK PM Neville “peace in our time” Chamberlain’s take on his talks with Hitler.

But are they lying about it now? Can there be a fatwa against nuclear bombs and yet a program to develop these bombs simultaneously?

For that, we have to understand the Taqiyya, a “legal dispensation” (a religious license) that allows and even encourages Muslims to lie and deceive if it serves Islam.

“The Prophet said, ‘War is deceit'” – Bukhari (52:269)

The Taqiyya is deeply ingrained in the Islamic culture and is championed by none other than the prophet Muhammad himself. The bottom line according to the Prophet and the Qur’an is that words are to be used as weapons in the war for Islam (“jihad of the tongue/pen” as opposed to “jihad of the sword”) and that lying, cheating, deceiving, concealing is acceptable as long as one’s heart remains true to Islam.

Taqiyya can take on many forms: simply lying, half answers (half lies), diversion or evasion of the subject, demanding evidence to prove otherwise or “tactical” lies such as is exemplified in this story: Mohammed’s nephew, son-in-law and future Caliph, Ali, was sitting on a stool outside his dwelling when one of his allies ran red-faced and gasping into the village and hid in Ali’s home. Perceiving that the man was being pursued, Ali promptly got up and sat on another nearby stool. A few minutes later, a group of angry pursuers ran into the encampment and asked Ali if he had seen the man they were pursuing. Ali responded with the statement “AS LONG AS I HAVE BEEN SITTING ON THIS STOOL I HAVE SEEN NO ONE”.

Lie Detection in Moscow

It would be great if the P5+1 could sneak in a polygraph to the summit and place the Iranian team members on the hot seat – we would probably know, once and for all, if the world should be worried about Iran or embrace it. Wishful thinking.

Instead, the P5+1 team, together with the IAEA, will bring up Iran’s transgression to the table and Iran will deny them stating the “Nuclear Fatwa” as irrefutable proof that they are innocent. The Iranian delegation will probably fight as hard as it can to gain more time just as they did in the Istanbul and Baghdad P5+1 summits and with the IAEA in Vienna and Teheran. If they are building a bomb, time is exactly what they need. Time and a relief from the sanctions.

If they can’t give them the polygraph, I suggest they catch a few episodes of “Lie to Me” and hone their body language skills to look for signs of lying: Limited or stiff physical movements, avoiding eye contact, licking lips, constricted pupils, changing position, hands touching face/mouth/nose/throat or scratching behind their ear/neck, palms facing down, placing objects in between themselves and others etc…

In any case, it would be a good idea to catch up on some investigative reports on the “Nuclear Fatwa” such as the one by MEMRI or the Washington Institute.

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