Leading cleric outraged over official’s remarks about music
December 23, 2010
TEHRAN – Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi is outraged over the remarks about music recently made by Presidential Office Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii.Rahim-Mashaii made the remarks during a meeting with a number of artists at the Chahar-Fasl Museum of Arak on December 8 while he was accompanying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a visit to Central Province.
Rahim-Mashaii said, “Some people do not understand music, then say it is haram.”
He went on to say that disregard for art and culture will make a society ill and added, “If people are not familiar with music and do not appreciate the literature of Hafez, Sadi, and Ferdowsi, then no love can emerge from their hearts.”
Addressing the people who criticize music, he said, “You are unable to comprehend the world of the artist and the poet.”
According to a number of mujtahids (leading Shia clerics), listening to and producing certain kinds of music is haram, that is, it is not allowed in Islam.
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi stated that he regarded Rahim-Mashaii’s remarks as insulting to the imams and the tenets of Islam during a class for seminary students at the Grand Mosque of Qom on Wednesday.
“It makes no difference to us who made the remarks. We can never remain silent about such remarks. We shall never let the sanctities be trifled with in the Islamic Republic,” he said.
“We were waiting to hear an official denial of the remarks, but it never came,” he stated.
“To emphasize, the consensus among the ulama is that frivolous music is haram. Therefore, these remarks are insulting to all ulama,” he noted.
“Nowadays, the subsidy reform plan is being implemented and our country needs to remain calm… otherwise, we would take more stringent action,” he said.
“Due to the special situation in the country, I content myself with this amount of objection, but I will respond to this at a more appropriate time,” he stated.
Over the past six years, Rahim-Mashaii’s remarks and decisions have often been harshly censured. However, Ahmadinejad has never failed to back this controversial member of his government.
As the former director of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) and a former vice president, he was censured by some Iranian MPs for attending an official event in Istanbul in 2005 where a dance ceremony was performed.
Rahim-Mashaii faced another crisis in September 2008 when he was accused of making pro-Israeli remarks.
Two Shia clerics, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, denounced a ceremony organized by the CHTHO in November 2008 for an international conference on investment opportunities in the Iranian tourism industry in Tehran.
Reports published about the ceremony accused the organizer of the event of insulting the Holy Quran.
The ceremony was described as “an exceptional event” by reports explaining, “Twelve women clad in traditional dress and playing the daf (a traditional hand-held frame drum) arrived at the conference hall.”
“They moved rhythmically while one held a tray carrying a Quran that was to be read by one of the country’s renowned Quranic reciter. After the completion of the recitation, they returned in the same manner and retrieved the Holy Quran,” the reports added.