The Wise Leadership Points Out the Maladies and Prescribes the Medicine

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The Wise Leadership Points Out the Maladies and Prescribes the Medicine

 Sheikh Al-Yaqubi (May Allah preserve his noble shadow) answered([1]) a number of questions directed to him by the director of Newsweek magazine’s in Baghdad. Sheikh Al-Yaqubi presented in it the guidelines on how to rid Iraq of its present crisis, and promised to offer more details if the parties of the conflict and the influential powers in Iraq had a real will to reach a solution.


His honor the Sheikh dealt with a number of important issues in Iraq such as federacy and proper system that should rule Iraq after beginning his discussion through mentioning a brief biography of himself. In the end, he directed a message to the American people. The following is the magazine’s director’s request and the answer of his honor the Sheikh:

Your honor the religious Marja Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Yaqubi…

Peace upon you:

The staff of Newsweek magazine in Baghdad wishes to ask your honor for some questions. We wish to find out your honor’s view of these issues, and you have the full freedom to express your perspective in these issues.

Kevin Peraino – Newsweek – Baghdad

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Allah’s Peace and His Mercy and Blessings upon you,

I will attempt to answer your questions briefly as I do not know how much space is given to me. The answers you ask for have important details which I’ve published in the “Speech of the Era” series which began with the beginning of the end of Saddam’s regime and which is now at episode 132. It, and many other articles, can be found in our internet website: www.yaqoobi.com.

Summary of Sheikh Al-Yaqubi’s Biography:

Newsweek: Could you please mention a bit about your biography, where you were raised, who was you role model and how were you influenced by him?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: I was born in Najaf Al-Ashraf in 1960 on the same day at the Prophet’s birthday. This is considered a good omen between for the Muslims. I moved with my father to Baghdad in 1968. He had many responsibilities in the social work directed by the martyred late Sayyid Mahdi, the son of the Highest Marja Sayyid Muhsin Al-Hakim in Easter Karradah. I completed my studies in Baghdad where I attained my degree in Civil Engineering in 1982. I did not join the compulsory military service of that time because I refused to take part in the unjust system which was launching an aggressive war on Iran even if my position was lucrative and safe. I stayed in home in disguise. I wouldn’t go out unless that was absolutely necessary and spent my time using the large library which my father –who had died at that year- left for us.

In 1985 I had the opportunity to secretly contact the martyred Sayyid Muhammad As-Sadr through several intermediaries. After the Iraqi-Iranian War ended in 1988, the regime somewhat relaxed its grip, and I could move freely again, the martyred Sayyid Ad-Sadr the second began teaching, so we met directly.

During the events of the Sha’ban Intifada in 1991 Sayyid As-Sadr made me the head of one of the five committees, the political and media committee, on the last day before the forces of the Republican Guard broke into Najaf and arrested the martyred Sayyid.

After the Intifada, I took the religious mantle at the beginning of 1992, and began my religious studies. I attended lessons by some of the great scholars such as the martyred Sayyid As-Sadr (five years), Sayyid As-Sistani (five years), Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq Al-Fayyad (four years) and the martyred Sheikh Mirza Ali Al-Gharwi (two years).

After the martyrdom of Sayyid As-Sadr in 1999, and closing down his office under a false pretext, I returned to my social work and teaching and meeting people in Ar-Ra’s Ash-Sharif Mosque which is near As-Sahn Al-Haydari. The mosque had become the leadership center for the followers of the martyred Sayyid As-Sadr and the rising Islamic movement. This confused the regime and placed me under heavy surveillance.

I never declared myself as a Mujtahid until directly after the regime fell when I led the Friday Prayer in Sahn Al-Kathemayn in Baghdad in April, 25th, 2003 with tens of thousands of people attending the noble yard and the areas around it. I called on the people to participate in the protests which were to be held on April 28th, 2003 to call for a greater role for the religious authorities and schools in the political process. This was one of the largest protests witnessed by modern Iraq as the lines of protestors extended to several kilometers between the National Theatre’s Plaza and Al-Firdaws Plaza.

As for my role model, it is the role model whom Allah (Exalted is He) made a good example for all of us when He says: “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)” [Surah of Clans: 21]. I mean Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and the members of his household) and the Prince of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abi Taleb and the Infallible Imam from their offspring. I continuously go over the books describing their biographies and noble words to benefit from them, and I have registered the benefits I gained from their blessed leadership in several books of mine.

 

 

The Fadillah Party’s Project had its Beginnings at the Time of Saddam:

Newsweek: What are the Fadillah Islamic Party’s strategic goals?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: The project of forming a party was on my mind even before the regime’s fall as I already sensed that the regime’s breakdown was eminent. I presented some general ideas to Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi and a limited number of brother, fearing the regime’s iron fist which used to crack down on any such project. After the fall immediately I went to Baghdad and met a number of cadres and thus the party began. Those cadres, including Dr. Al-Jaberi was in the forefront of this protest I referred to earlier.

The objective of forming in was the crystallization of the political project which realizes the demands of the masses in Iraq, and especially the followers of the martyred Sayyid Muhammad As-Sadr, for they did not think too highly of the party leaders arriving from abroad. The followers believed that those new leaders were far from reality, living a state of isolation from the evolution of events in Iraq over the past twenty years. Thus, they did not deem it necessary for them to melt their personalities in those new arrivals but without being an alternative to them, but only to compliment their role and as a means for delivering the views of this social segment. For all of these reasons any observer would find that the pathway followed by Al-Fadillah Party has particularities which do not exist in other parties (See Dr. Jassem Muhammad’s work for more details about this issue). I have pointed out the goals of the party’s formation and the principles upon which it is based in several speeches among the speeches of the era such as “The theoretical principles of Al-Fadillah Party” and “Political Work is one of the Religious Obligation” and “Fixed Principles in Politics” and “The Principles and Elements of Transparency”. Dr. Nadim Al-Jaberi wrote a book about the system of government most appropriate for Iraq in which he supported this project. You can identify the course followed by the party as “Iraqi – Arab – Islamic – human” in the full sense of what these words mean and the programs, work mechanisms, purposes, stands and visions which ensue from them.

How to Avoid a Civil War:

Newsweek: Could a civil war be avoided in Iraq, and how?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: Yes, a civil war can be avoided if we eradicate its causes in their roots. This can take place through several steps:

a- The instigators and supporters of this civil wars, whether internal or external parties, must become convinced of its futility because it harms them as well “but the plotting of Evil will hem in only the authors thereof”, we must convince them that what they wish to achieve –if it was right and just- can be attained through dialogue, political processes, and argument based on logic and evidence. Once there is this conviction and serious will to resolve issues, then issues will be resolved. If, however, people choose to scream and huff and puff, then these are little more than hypocrisies which are neither honest nor based on sound foundations, but only for each party to seek its narrow interests and to expand at the expense of others.

b. Putting aside the sectarian, ethnic, selfish, and faction-based rhetoric, transforming it to a humanist rhetoric which rises above these narrow visions, fearing Allah in this nation as they have ruined people and ravished the lands.

c. The orators, the scholars, the intellectuals, the Imams of the mosques, and the makers of public opinion working in the media should create a general awareness against extremism, hysterical rhetoric, bigotry, violence, sectarianism, and other causes of sedition.

d. Ending the occupation. International efforts must be confined to aiding only as much as Iraqis need that aid from other countries of the world. Iraq most certainly needs the aid to heal its wounds and reconstruct its inner house, so it would rise again and catch up with the civilized nations. Iraq, however, is capable of reaching this stage quickly as it own all the elements of strength, prosperity, progress, and wealth.

e. Making some fundamental political reforms, and reconsidering in the process all the erroneous decisions taken in this respect. Those reforms must include:

1) Dismantling the coalitions and alliances([2]) built along sectarian and ethnic lines, and allowing for alliances between parties and political powers to form on the basis of their political programs to end the state of sectarian entrenchment.

2) Proceeding with complimentary parliamentary elections every two years in this transitory period of Iraqi history. The changes in this period accelerate too quickly so we have to absorb the tensions in those who –for some reason or another- did not participate in the parliament, and especially for those who were forcefully excluded and thus became inclined to carry arms. This will give them another chance for participation.

3) Giving the parties and powers which adopt a positive, constructive opposition a role which is no less important than those who participate in the government through regulatory bodies such as the Integrity Commission, the Financial Regulatory Commission and so forth. Those are institutions which have the same levels of ministries, and they may convince the opposition parties of their genuineness and draw them away from armed confrontation. I have cited the usefulness and justifications for this suggestion, and the details of its mechanisms which is published. There are other suggestions which I will clarify by Allah’s will when there is a serious will for reaching a solution.

I Absolutely Reject the State of Occupation

Newsweek: Do you support a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq? Do you have any fears about further bloodshed if they do go away?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: I absolutely reject the state of occupation. Every free and honorable person in Iraq shares this rejection with me. Despite the great and matchless suffering we went through under the yoke of Saddam’s rule and his minions. I lived this suffering first hand, and I was in Iraq throughout it as I’ve accompanied the martyred Sayyid As-Sadr the second for fourteen years. I was leading the delegate of people who received his noble body and the bodies of his two sons from the hospital. I performed their funeral prayer and presided over their burial with a handful of people. I also was the one to continue his project under the very noses of those evil people.

Despite all this, we did not welcome the invading forces. Although we hated Saddam and truthfully wished for his downfall, we felt worried about the arrival of foreign troops and their presence on our lands. I have clarified in some of my speeches a few of the aspects of this concern. Nevertheless, when the foreign troops arrived I also hoped that their role would be confined to what they announced: Helping the Iraqi people in building a free and dignified nation on the basis of justice and prosperity. I was among the first to present a project for transitory government in Iraq before the foundation of the ruling council so that Iraqis would regain sovereignty over their lands (and this proposition is published among the “speech of the era” series) ([3]). Yet, our voices were never heard, the mistakes of the occupation and the participants in the political process accumulated until we reached the state we are at today.

Despite all this, I never ceased from presenting constructive projects which save all the parties involved in the Iraqi affairs, but: “Ah! Alas for (My) Servants! There comes not an apostle to them but they mock him!” [Surah of Ya-Seen: 30]. The price is always paid by the innocents and the weak. I can only say: The best of judges is Allah, and the best of rivals before him is Muhammad “and all rivals meet in Allah’s Presence”.

I was one of the first to suggest the formation of a Ministry of Defense in a Friday Prayer oration which we’ve called for in Al-Firdaws Square in March 2004. Thousands participated in it. This was after the delay in forming this ministry to rebuild able and qualified Iraqi armed forces which can maintain the land’s security and end all pretexts for the presence of the occupation.

But the steps in this direction remained slow and faltering, the mechanisms remained futile and ineffective. Nobody was truly thinking of Iraq’s future the wellbeing of its people. I still maintain that the best solution is what I’ve said: ending the occupation in the studied manner we mentioned and explained in several speeches.

Terrorism only Consolidates the Occupation, Division is Unacceptable

Newsweek: What is your stand towards federacy? Do you support the new laws for the formation of regions?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: I have issued several speeches to clarify our stand from federacy which was stated in “As-Sadiqin Newspaper” which publishes my statements. I clarified the details of my stand to the officials who visited me so you may have a look at them on our website in the internet. The summary of my stand is that that we need no federacy, we need a unified Iraq and an effective central government active in its jurisdictions defined by the constitution. We also support the presence non-central administrations which have clear and extensive jurisdictions in the provinces, and for the central government to offer all what leads to strengthening the local governments.

In the mean time, I do believe that federacy may be a last solution for the country’s problems if they become beyond repair, Allah forbid. I personally do not think that the problems of this country are beyond repair unless the enemies of the nation, the ignorant, the inflexible, and the opportunists, and the selfish get us to that point. Therefore, the terrorists and the murderers should understand that their crimes which they commit against the Iraqi people –such as the massacre committed in the heroic city of Sadr([4])- they only consolidate the occupation they claim to resist. They provide it with pretext for staying, and they close the doors for peaceful coexistence, tolerance, and communication. The only choice left if this continues is federacy, division, and such bitter choices. They claim that they want a unified Iraq and refuse to divide it, if this is the case then let them return to their sense and have an insight into the results of their actions.

 

The System of Government which should prevail in Iraq

Newsweek: How should Iraq be ruled? Which countries serve as models for you in the positive and the negative senses of the word?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: The system of government which should prevail in Iraq is the one which respect human will, giving the human individual the full freedom of choice for who governs him, and the form of government which he wants, and the constitution which organizes the work of its institutions, and the rights and obligations incumbent on the individual and the state. The individual must have the full opportunity to change whatever does not suit him in light of mechanisms guaranteed by the constitution. Many of the systems used by democratic nations are suitable for Iraq provided that some of their details are adjusted to something suitable to the culture, manners, and traditions of the Iraqi people. We do not have to clone the experiences of other countries because we have enough genuineness and depth of history and sources of knowledge and qualified people to make us needless of following others, but not needless of their positive and useful experiments.

If the Expected Governmental Change is Genuine then we will contribute to it

Newsweek: Which of the propositions forwarded to PM Mr. Nuri Al-Maliki do you support, and which do you object to?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: Dr. Al-Maliki’s government was born after much time and effort. This made it weak and divided. This is what we predicted provided with the frame of mind with which the political entities directed the negotiations for forming the government. They did not act like brothers and fellow citizens of the same country aiming at the building of the new Iraq. They acted like rival factions trying to increase their share at the expense of others. For this reason I ordered Al-Fadillah block to withdraw from the government as taking part in it with this mentality does nobody any honor. Nevertheless, I still called on the MPs of the block to give their vote of confidence to the government to give it a chance to work and perhaps succeed. Our position continued to support Dr. Al-Maliki, and that was a noble stance which had little like it in the world Al-Maliki. When we found out that Dr. Al-Maliki wishes to make some changes in his cabinet I asked Al-Fadillah MPs to meet him and announce to him our position: If the change was genuine and for the best interest of the country and its people, then the party will participate in it the new cabinet. But if it will only take place to gaslight the situation then the party would maintain its dignity and distance itself from this process.

The Formation of a Religious Government

Newsweek: Do you support the formation of a religious government which rules according to Shari’ah law in Iraq?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: I base my stance on the saying of Imam Ar-Rida (Peace upon him), our eighth infallible Imam: “What people need from their princes is their justice”. We do not care for naming and slogans which caused us much harm throughout history. What we need is a government system built on the foundations we mentioned earlier in response to the previous question. The details of this system were laid out by the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him) in his immortal commission to his sincere companion Malek Al-Ashtar when he gave him rule over Egypt. Terms such as “religious government” and the like are invented and have no basis. We believe in this religion and follow him in this life because we have seen that it liberates humanity from servitude to other humans, from obeying his lusts and whims which bring him destruction, and because it fully organizes our lives in the way which brings us happiness, peace, security, tranquility, fulfillment in life through all things which are useful. We are with any system which would achieve these purposes for us regardless of the names.

Factors Leading to the Success of the Leadership

Newsweek: If you were the one leading Iraq, would the government be religious?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: Leadership is nothing to be claimed. It is not gained through force, it is something which is determined by two factors: the need of others for the person, and his own goodness to others. The Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him) said: “Be good to those whom you wish to lead. Be needless of the ones of those whom you wish to be their equal. And need whom you need and you will be their captive”. One of the scholars was asked about the proof of the Imamate of the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him), he replied: “The fact that people needed him and he was needless of them” ([5]). The more giving and beneficent the people us in all ways the more the people would need him and choose him for their leadership. Yet we have learnt from our infallible Imams (Peace upon them) to be needless of worldly positions which are attained through injustice and aggression and cunning and trickery. We only see positions as means for beneficence to the people and removing injustice from them and making them happy. There are many noble words of the Prince of the Faithful (Peace upon him) in this respect in Nahj Al-Balaghah which no one must be heedless of.

Great Reproach by the people of the world for the American People:

Newsweek: Are there things which you admire about America? Are there political leaders who have attracted you attention in America or elsewhere?

Sheikh Al-Yaqubi: I must differentiate in my evaluation between the American administration and the American people. The American people have contributed greatly to the advancement of humanity. Ordinary Americans have many good qualities such as respect for the human individual and considering him the greatest asset there is, and this drives them to interact with the issues of different peoples on the planet. I admire how they forget their particularities and original belonging, and how they uphold their love of their homeland and the interest of their people. I have also heard much about the credibility and accountability in the dealings of the western people. All of this and more is part of what we have learnt from our great Prophet Muhammad (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and the members of his household). The difference between us is that westerners do so for the near and immediate objectives. We do the same but add to it a number of sublime goals such as Allah’s pleasure and gaining Paradise. Also, western civilization is materialistic in nature, it only sows the elements of annihilation and destruction as a I pointed in more than one speech (Such as “Aids: the harbinger of the downfall of western civilization” and my letter to the French President Jacques Chirac when he took the advice of his consultants to prevent the Islamic veil in public schools and others speeches).

I still remember my reading of the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by “Dale Carnegie” which I greatly admire. I remember how well what is mentioned in this book meshes with the teachings of the People of the Prophetic Household (Peace upon them. I personally do not believe that he reached his conclusions through mere accumulated human experience, but directly or indirectly from Divine teachings delivered by the Messengers, Prophets, and Imams (Prayers and Peace upon all of them). Humanity on its own cannot reach the simplest of daily life dealings such as burying the dead (until, as it is narrated in the Holy Quran, when one of the sons of Allah’s Prophet Adam killed the other, Allah sent a crow seeking in the earth to teach him how to bury his brother. He learnt how to bury his dead brother).

As for the American administration, hatred for it increases between all the world populations. This is due to the many unfair policies it used, and the crimes it committed against other populations. Those populations have a great reproach for the American people for not actively influencing the policies of the administration which the American people is supposed to have elected freely, and which is supposed to represent the American people.

In the end, I hope you would read my answers deeply and with much thought as they have much goodness for all, and if you would deliver them successfully then this would be a source of pride and loftiness on your side. And Allah’s Peace and His Mercy and Blessings upon you.

 


 

([1]) The history of the response: Friday, Thu Al-Qi’dah 1427, 24 June 2006.

([2]) This idea gained much interest from analysts, journalists, and politicians. It caused much controversy and discussion over the cable channels which lasted for weeks. It found much unprecedented resonance, many smaller groups broke up with larger ones in preparation to end sectarian conflict based on sectarian grouping. When Al-Fadillah Party withdrew from the coalition the falsity of those who hide behind sectarian Sunni and Shia banners (whilst only caring for their own personal interests) was exposed. This step exposed that political conflict was in fact for power and money whilst hiding itself in religious and sectarian disguises to fool others. This is what we said in a statement about the Meccan document. The dominating powers used the conflict for power in Iraq to form several alliances which go beyond the ethnic and sectarian belonging. Leaders in the Supreme Council announced the formation of a front which gathers them, the Sunni Islamic Party, and the Kurdish Alliance. This was understood as a step to topple Al-Maliki’s government.

 

([3]) See: The Speech of the Era, Vol. 3, p. 112.

([4]) Several bombings occurred at the same time in Sadr City on Thursday 1 Thu Al-Qi’dah 1427 (November 23rd 2006) including three booby trapped cars and missile attacks in several areas of the city. 202 people were killed and 250 were injured. Everybody condemned the operation and considered it a natural result of the political and sectarian tensions in the country, and it was followed by several mutual vengeful acts in Baghdad.

([5]) See: Sunan Al-Imam Ali (Peace upon him): Committee of the Traditions in Baqir Al-Ulum Institute, p. 178.