Iran’s Friday Prayers: Ashura, JCPOA and Daesh
(Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Tehran's Friday Prayers' Leader; Photo: Vahid Naderi/Fars)
Iranian Friday prayers of this week were held on 23rd of October, one day before Ashura, the most important event in Shi'a calendar. The tenth day of Muharram marks the epic battle of Hussein (AS), the third Shi'a Imam, and his 72 companions against the army of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid that ended in their martyrdom. Since then, Ashura has turned into the most powerful narrative of the Shi'a culture, and the ultimate example of sacrifice for the faith.
In Tehran, Friday prayers were led by the conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. He referred to Ayatollah Khamenei's recent letter to President Rouhani on JCPOA, and called it "the manifestation of the message of Ashura," which "bears the revolutionary spirit of the legend of Hussein."
"If the world wants to know what position the Iranian nation has adopted, this letter is the position of the Iranian nation," Khatami added. The Friday prayers' leader called for an end to arguments over JCPOA, since the document has turned into a law after the Supreme Leader's approval. He also warned about the looming threat of political, cultural and economic 'infiltration' in the post-JCPOA era.
In Ahwaz, southwestern Iran, Ayatollah Jazayeri tried to spell out Ayatollah Khamenei's letter. "The nation demands actualization of the Supreme Leader's decrees," he stated, since those decrees are "the panacea for the country, for the establishment and for the nation." Jazayeri called for further attention towards 'resistance economy', Ayatollah Khamenei's proposed model of endogenous growth.
In Qom, the heart of Shi'a seminaries in Iran, Hojjat-ol-Eslam Alireza A'rafi reformulated the message of Ashura for today: "resistance against American Islam, Saudi Islam, Daesh [ISIS] Islam and aristocratic Islam." He also addressed JCPOA and praised the nation's "revolutionary patience and rationality" that was manifested during the process of nuclear talks," though he did not forget to remind that the Iranian nation are the "children of Ashura", and will not retreat against the enemy's excessive demands.
In Zahedan, center of Sistan & Baluchistan Province, Ayatollah Abbas-Ali Soleymani focused on the recent developments in Syria. "The alliance between Russia, Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Resistance [Hezbollah] has made the terrorists and Imperialism desperate," he said, adding that this alliance is the key to victory against takfiri terrorists and their regional and international supporters. He also praised the Iranian fighters in Iraq and Syria for their "defense of Islam and pure values."
The Friday prayers' leader of Isfahan also expressed satisfaction with the recent alliance in Syria and pointed to improved security and extermination of ISIS forces with the recently established collaboration between Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria. Ayatollah Tabatabaeinejad also slammed the US as "the only country that supports the crimes committed by Daesh and unbelievers against Muslims, in regions such as in Yemen and Afghanistan". "United States can decimate this group in one week if it wants," he said.
In Shiraz, Ayatollah Imani, sermonizer of the Friday prayers, reacted to former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw's visit to the city. Questioning the timing of his visit, Imani asked "Why has this person chosen Tasoua [9th of Muharram] for his tour to Shiraz?" He added that there is no way the Iranian nation would forget historical UK and US hostilities. "We do not want to live in the past," he said, "but how should 200 years of British hostility and 70 years of American hostility go out of one's mind?" he asked.