Everything about the Shirazi sect
According to Iran Gate, the Shirazi sect is one of the radical and fundamentalist Shia movements that has extensive financial resources and also has a high media power. Seyyed Sadegh Shirazi, who currently leads this sect, has taken extreme and deviant positions on various social issues, including opposing the ban on flagellation.
Recently, with the escalation of internal disputes, the name of the Shirazi sect has once again become a topic of discussion. The Islamic Republic also refers to the radical and fundamentalist views of this sect and accuses the opponents of the regime of expressing deviant opinions similar to the leaders of this sect. It claims that there is dissatisfaction among radical factions within the Qom seminary regarding the implementation of moderate divine laws.
Regardless of Iran Gate’s extensive criticisms of the Islamic Republic’s positions and policies regarding the hijab, it has focused on a two-part investigation into the extremist and fundamentalist positions of the Shirazi sect. The present report introduces this sect and provides a genealogy of it, which is detailed below.
From Mirza to the Al-Shirazis
The lineage of Ayatollah Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi, who is now recognized as one of the Shia sources of emulation and resides in Qom, can be traced back to Mirza Shirazi. This prominent cleric of the Qajar era issued a fatwa banning the use of tobacco in 1308 AH (Hijri calendar). He is considered one of the important figures in the history of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran.
Mirza Shirazi, who is also the uncle of Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi’s father, was 82 years old and is introduced as the maternal grandfather of the current leader of the Shirazi sect on his website. In fact, the mother of Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi is the granddaughter of Mirza Shirazi, who issued the fatwa prohibiting tobacco, and she was born in her marriage to Mirza Mehdi Shirazi, the current leader of the Shirazi sect.
Mirza Mehdi, the father of Sadegh Shirazi, was also the cousin of Mirza Shirazi. Mirza Habib, the brother of Mirza Shirazi, was one of the great Shia sources of emulation in the contemporary era, to the extent that after the passing of Ayatollah Borujerdi, Mirza Mehdi Shirazi was referred to as the greatest source of emulation in the Shia world. However, he also passed away shortly after Ayatollah Borujerdi.
Mirza Mahdi had four children, and the most important and famous among them is Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi, who is currently teaching in the Qom seminary. Sadegh Shirazi has three brothers named Sayyid Mohammad, Sayyid Mojtaba, and Sayyid Hassan. Hassan and Mohammad have passed away, but Mojtaba Shirazi, who was born in Iraq, currently resides in Britain. One of the reasons why this group has been called the English Shiite sect is the continuous connection of the leaders of this movement with England and the establishment of numerous television networks in that country.
From the Tobacco Protest to the Defense of Qom
As mentioned, all members of the Shirazi family and their ancestors, including Mirza Shirazi, have been prominent religious authorities in the Qom and Najaf seminaries. Although the positions of this sect have gradually leaned towards Shia radicalism and fundamentalism in the years and decades after the revolution, this family has a history of initiating the Tobacco Protest, which was the first movement of renewal in the Middle East and eventually led to the Constitutional Revolution.
Although generally the Shirazi family members have always been classified as traditional clerics, after the revolution this traditionalism intensified to an unprecedented extent, to the point where some analysts refer to this faction as the Shia ISIS. This discursive shift towards extremism in Shia religious rituals occurred after the deaths of Hassan and Mohammad Shirazi in the Shirazi family, in a way that, despite a temporary and limited association between Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi and Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 revolution, he changed his position and became the first opposing current to the Islamic Republic and the theory of Guardianship of the Jurist in the seminary of Qom.
Among the fundamentalist positions and fatwas of Sayyid Sadegh Shirazi, it can be mentioned that he opposes the prohibition of playing chess, considers the theory of religious sects approximation and Shia-Sunni reconciliation as baseless, and also has strange strictness regarding the issue of hijab. Of course, the traditionalist faction of the seminary also had a close relationship with this faction, but none of the extreme and deviant positions of the Shirazi faction are endorsed by the traditionalist faction in the mentioned cases.
For example, in recent debates about the hijab, the Shirazi sect believes that the Islamic Republic is engaging with unveiled women and behaving leniently, while the traditional Qom seminary, which considers itself a follower of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, opposes any government interference in personal affairs and criticizes the observance or non-observance of boundaries, including the hijab.
Money and media in the hands of the clergy
As mentioned, the Shirazi sect currently has a significant media influence due to the financial stability they have had since before the revolution in the Shirazi household. However, due to the limitations that exist for this movement in Iran, the media activities of this sect are led by Sayyid Mujtaba Shirazi from London. It is said that this sect is financially supporting and managing over 20 television networks.
One of the famous hosts of the Shirazi sect’s television networks is a Shia extremist Afghan cleric known as Hojat al-Islam Allahyar, who is notorious for his defamation and insults towards historical Sunni figures, Saudi Arabian monarchy leaders, and other countries in the Persian Gulf region.
In the next section of this file, the prominent figures of the Shirazi sect are introduced and the various dimensions of their fundamentalist positions are examined.
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