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Every Man an Ayatollah

Lots and lots of people out there on the internets have discovered the joys of Ayatollah Sistani's website and especially its Q & A section. Fewer seem aware that Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, has a website of his own, also featuring a Q & A section.

For example:

Q 795: A person bound by religious obligation [mukallaf], knowingly and intentionally, invalidates the fast by masturbating; does he have to offer the two-fold atonement [kaffarah]? What is the rule if he does it without knowing that masturbation invalidates the fast?

A: In both cases he must offer the two-fold atonement [kaffarah] if he masturbates intentionally.

Q 796: I had an emission during the blessed month of Ramadhan for no reason other than excitement that I felt during a telephone conversation with a non-related [non-mahram] woman. If the phone conversation was not for the purpose of pleasure, was my fast invalid? And if it was, do I have to pay atonement [kaffarah] as well?

A: If it was not a previous habit of yours to have an emission while conversing with a woman, and the phone conversation was not intended for pleasure and the emission was involuntary, then your fast is valid, and you are not liable to anything.

The American political system is, I think, clearly superior to the Iranian one. Nevertheless, I think we should encourage imitation of the Iranian model in this regard. Who wouldn't want to hear, say, Rick Santorum offer his thoughts on these issue. As a sidenote, am I the only one who thinks questioner 796's story isn't very plausible?

February 16, 2005 | Permalink

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» Strongly Undesirable from Slapnose
I guess I'm a little late to this one, but it's very important news, so... Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani has his very own website, featuring a handy Q&A section on the laws of Islam. You can learn a lot here... Question:... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2005 2:13:53 AM

» Strongly Undesirable from Slapnose
I guess I'm a little late to this one, but it's very important news, so... Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani has his very own website, featuring a handy Q&A section on the laws of Islam. You can learn a lot here... Question:... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2005 2:20:50 AM

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Comments

The rules about the ritual purity of water are absolutely hilarious.

Posted by: Matt G. | Feb 16, 2005 5:42:30 PM

If 797 was 20-something and had been abstaining from orgasm, it's certainly possible.

The section on "enjoining good and abstaining from evil" is quite interesting; many questions have to do with the problem of living in a corrupt state.

I also note that the "Jihad" questions either are under construction or have been removed for some no doubt prudent purpose.

Posted by: Anderson | Feb 16, 2005 5:52:04 PM

From reading these websites, it's pretty clear that this whole legal system is unsustainable. I mean, it's nearly impossible for a righteous believer to be able to divine for himself what is okay and what is not. Which is, I suppose, the whole point.

Posted by: praktike | Feb 16, 2005 5:54:40 PM

Spontaneous emissions during phone-calls? Nah, happens constantly, especially my 3 AM random dialing run.

And yes, I spent an hour at Sistani's web site today. He needs a glossary. "Wudu"? Isn't that a southern parasitical plant?

Hmmm. A little note about how blogging has ruined MY's journalistic prospects, followed by some incendiary freeper-baiting and a return to sex-blogging. All I can say is ....hmmmm.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 16, 2005 6:01:28 PM

Praktike, I think the Catholics and the Jews have some comparably detailed refinements. (The Southern Baptists around here are too inconsistent for principles.)

And as you say, the inability to know what's holy and what's sinful is the whole point; else every man *would* be his own ayatollah.

Posted by: Anderson | Feb 16, 2005 6:24:46 PM

I was extremely glad to learn that anal sex is permissible with my wife's consent.

Though I'm having trouble getting her consent so far.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Feb 16, 2005 6:26:29 PM

Praktike, I think the Catholics and the Jews have some comparably detailed refinements.

So, incidentally, do many areas of US civil law.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 16, 2005 6:27:55 PM

In all four cases, the ultimate purpose is the same: to make those who believe it's their responsibility to follow the rules utterly dependent on others to tell them what the rules require.

Posted by: Matt G. | Feb 16, 2005 6:39:15 PM

http://withintheprocess.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Doc | Feb 16, 2005 7:08:02 PM

Does anyone know why it's impermissable to play chess? (Sistani's site)

Posted by: sfguy | Feb 16, 2005 7:08:49 PM

Don't forget the Fatwa of the Week!

Posted by: David Weigel | Feb 16, 2005 7:13:51 PM

"Praktike, I think the Catholics and the Jews have some comparably detailed refinements."

I condemn them.

Posted by: praktike | Feb 16, 2005 7:19:46 PM

"If it was not a previous habit of yours to have an emission while conversing with a woman..."

Oh sure, I make it a habit to emit during every phone conversation. Who doesn't?

This guy needs a blog.

What's Farsi for "heh"?

Posted by: Royko | Feb 16, 2005 7:38:31 PM

Q 186: When is a discharge from a person considered to be semen?

A: When it is accompanied by sexual excitement and weakness of the body and ejaculation, it is subject to the rule of semen.

The Rule of Semen? Uh oh.

Posted by: Marshall | Feb 16, 2005 7:44:55 PM

"Does anyone know why it's impermissable to play chess? (Sistani's site)"

Discussion here:

Chess

"The general rule is that it is made for gambling and used for it, such that the term ìgambling instrumentî can be applied to it. It is enough if it is regarded as an instrument (for gambling) in one particular society. (MMS, pp. 27-28, Q52):

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 16, 2005 7:45:30 PM

From reading these websites, it's pretty clear that this whole legal system is unsustainable. I mean, it's nearly impossible for a righteous believer to be able to divine for himself what is okay and what is not. Which is, I suppose, the whole point.

It's very much like our tax laws, in that respect.

Posted by: Al | Feb 16, 2005 7:51:44 PM

Coins can be used for gambling. Should Islamic law forbid the use of coins?

Actually, almost anything can be used for gambling purposes with a little bit of ingenuity. Somehow I suspect this principle is honored more in the breach than in the keeping.

Posted by: Matt G. | Feb 16, 2005 8:05:08 PM

Is anyone sure what "unintentional masturbation" would entail?

Posted by: RD | Feb 16, 2005 8:12:12 PM

Is anyone sure what "unintentional masturbation" would entail?

Discussing politics with Al.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Feb 16, 2005 8:13:29 PM

"Actually, almost anything can be used for gambling purposes with a little bit of ingenuity."

"such that the term gambling instrument can be applied to it."

Coins primary purpose is not gambling. Elsewhere Sistani says that professional sports are forbidden, but not sports in general. In other places he does cartwheels over usury restrictions.
Yes these are informed judgement calls based on a fixed 7-10th century jurisprudence. On the other hand, part of Sistani's job is to find ways to make Islam work in varying conditions, while retaining its authority. We will survive without chess.

I liked the answers that say:"We don't need to know why." Allah has spoken.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 16, 2005 8:15:28 PM

Religious authority is a construct, a delusion that's true only to the degree that people make it true. A person whose goal is to promote the idea that a human organization possesses true authority starts by promoting one absurdity, and then is required to support another, and another...

Reminds me of our current foreign policy situation, actually.

Posted by: Matt G. | Feb 16, 2005 8:29:31 PM

HJ's are permissible in Iran:

Q798: Is it permissible for a husband to masturbate using his wife's hand? Is there any difference whether it is done during intercourse or not?

A: There is no problem with foreplay between a husband and wife, via touching her body with his own until he ejaculates. Similarly, it is not prohibited for the wife to handle the husband's organ until he ejaculates, as these actions do not constitute prohibited masturbation.

Posted by: mark | Feb 16, 2005 9:08:54 PM

But mark note the "until he ejaculates" part.

Posted by: Dan the Man | Feb 16, 2005 9:31:06 PM

"But mark note the "until he ejaculates" part."

Semen is just najis, meaning wash your hands afterwards.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 16, 2005 9:39:56 PM

I think it is presumptuous and consescending to assume, based on a cursory reading of a few rules, that this system is so arcane or arbitrary that it is imposible for an ordinary believer to master. And the idea that such a system is "unsustainable" seems curious, given that it has been sustained for over a thousand years now.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Feb 16, 2005 10:27:45 PM

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