Iranian Koran Scholar: Apply Koran 5:33 to Protesters

Crucifixion, amputation and banishment.

Abolfazl Bahrampour, is a prominent Iranian Koran scholar, and author of the widely respected “One Volume Commentary on the Koran,” (in Farsi, Qom, 2007). Interviewed on Iran’s state run television network during its daily “Eastern Sun” program, Tuesday, November 26, 2019, Bahrampour condemned those protesting Iran’s oppressive theocratic regime, en masse, as “Moharabeh”—enemies of Allah, who sew “corruption” of an Islamic societal order. Moharabeh is a standard allegation leveled against Iranian protesters, who are then routinely sentenced to death. 

Bahrampour’s fulmination advocated (video) the protesters’ appropriate Koranic punishment—per Koran 5:33.

They should be tortured to death (i.e., crucified), not just simply killed. It is the exact meaning of the verse (Koran 5:33), Our Allamah (Muslim religious scholars and authorities) are good interpreters of the Koran…if they’ve (the protesters) been dealt with in such ways, they wouldn’t dare to protest again…And they should be punished and executed publicly and where the crime was actually committed…their hands a feet should be cut off on oppsote sides in the worst way possible…

Here is the verbatim translation of Koran 5:33:

“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”

Radio Farda reported that even an Iranian regime cleric, Ayatollah Kazem Qazizade, allegedly dissented from Bahrampour’s draconian, if Sharia-sanctioned punishment.

Notwithstanding Ayatollah Qazizade’s contention, Koran expert Bahrampour’s understanding of Koran 5:33, and its potential application to the recently arrested protesters, is entirely consistent with that of the most authoritative modern Shiite Koranic commentator, Allameh Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai (d. 1981), and his gloss on this verse.

The mainstream Islamic Studies academy—both Western and Iranian—has designated Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai the leading modern Shiite religious scholar and philosopher, dubbing him a “theosopher.” Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaei [Tabatabai] University, named in honor of this celebrated Shiite authority and “theosopher,” is the largest specialized state social sciences university in Iran and the Middle East, with 17000 students and 500 full-time faculty members. Affirming his continued lofty stature, and relevance, an Iranian national conference was held on May 3, 2012, in Qom, dedicated to “recognizing the interpretative methods and principles used by Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaee [Tabatabai] in [his Koranic] exegesis.” Tabatabai’s al-Mizān fi tafsir al-Qurʾān “The measure of balance/justly held scales in the interpretation of the Quran,” a 21-volume Arabic opus, which is regarded as the most important contemporary Shiite Koranic commentary.

Tabatabai’s authoritative gloss on Koran 5:33, clearly comports with Bahrampour’s interpretation of its deserving application to punishment of the protesters:

T]he metaphorical meaning is very wide and it can be applied on disobeying any rule of the shariaTherefore, waging war and making mischief obviously mean the same thing, i.e. disturbing general law and order. Law and order is upset when fear and anxiety prevail in society…The words: “their hands and their feet should be cut off on  opposite sides,” mean that if the hand is cut on the right side, the foot  should be cut on the left; this only shows that cutting the hands and  the feet means cutting one hand and one foot (on opposite sides), not both hands and both feet.

It has been argued on the strength of this verse that if the prescribed punishment is meted out to a guilty man, it does not necessarily mean that he will not be punished in the hereafter;…        

[It has been narrated through various Sunnī chains; and some of their traditions say that it depends on Imam's discretion, he shall kill if he  pleases, and shall crucify if he pleases, and shall cut off hands and feet on opposite sides if he pleases, and shall banish if he pleases. Some Shiah traditions too likewise say that the Imam has the discretion. For example, see the tradition narrated in al-Kafī from Jamīl ibn Darraj  from as-Sadiq (a.s.) about this verse: He says: "I said, 'What are they  liable to form these prescribed punishments that Allah has named?' He  said, 'It is up to [the] Imam; he shall cut off if he pleases, and banish if he  pleases, and crucify if he pleases, and kill if he pleases.' ”

Tabatabai’s uniquely “learned” imprimatur to such Sharia-mandated barbarity—reiterated by Bahrampour—engendered these apposite observations by an Iranian freethinking, conscientious objector to Islam which all intellectually honest, moral persons should digest:

“This is the real Islam. This Quran teacher (Bahrampour) explains exactly, from verses of the Quran. Here is Iran… It is the reality of the Quran and Islam that this Quranic teacher (Bahrampour) expresses without hesitation. Muslim rulers. Muslim people. Islamic laws…Killing people according to the Koran. What exactly do you protest if you are a Muslim?”

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