Monday, March 07, 2005

Ali Sistani for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize

A few weeks ago, I started working on a post about Ali Sistani, but had not gotten around to publishing it. Today, however, I visited Fayrouz's blog and saw a post about a group of exiled Iraqi Christians who have started a petition to nominate Ali Sistani for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. The petition states:

Mr. Sistani gave Muslims all around the globe a good example how to follow peaceful ways to resolve complex social-political challenges that face them, condemning terror and emphasizing to Millions of Muslims to follow rules of law and respect to humane, peaceful methods and civic norms to promote social peace and political-civic peaceful practices in the Iraqi , Muslim and Int’l societies. We deeply believe that the contribution of Ayat-Ullah Ali Al-Sistani has helped Iraqi society to avoid civil and multiethnic violent conflicts that terrorists intended to draw, and by this he has promoted peace and respect to human brotherhood in Iraq, the region, and all over the world- and that is why we believe Al-Sistani deserves the Nobel prize for Peace.
Click here for more information on the petition.

My only edit to this petition would be to delete the word "Muslim": I think Ali Sistani is a good example in general, not just for Muslims, but for Christians, Jews, and everyone else too.

A good excuse to finish and publish my post....

A few weeks ago, I read a very good Newsweek news article on MSNBC about Ali Sistani. On the surface, there is much to like about the man, and very little to dislike. Sistani saved many lives in Iraq last year when he came back from his London hospital bed and calmly defused the explosive situation at the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf. Sistani has continued to save many lives by discouraging his followers from retaliating against attacks from insurgents. And, more recently, Sistani has given strong support to the recent Iraqi elections, helping to forge together a political party called the United Iraqi Alliance, which won a majority in the elections.

When you look a little deeper into Sistani's background, there is even more to like. Sistani has many followers donating vast sums of money to his cause, and yet he chooses to live a life of austerity in a modest house in Najaf, subsisting on a peasant's diet. On one occasion, when the old air conditioner in his office broke and his followers bought a new one, he insisted that they fix the old one and give the new one to a poor family instead. For a man like Ali Sistani, his actions and goals take their influence solely from his sense of idealism, and not his own self-serving interest.

Ali Sistani seems to be cut from a very differnet cloth than Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei and the currently ruling clerics in neighboring Iran. A third of the candidates representing the United Iraqi Alliance that Sistani helped cobble together are women, and he has come out in favor of a woman's right to vote, even without her husband's permission. Sistani has also advocated a separation of mosque and state, publicly discouraging clerics from playing any role in ruling the country.

As a Christian myself, I like seeing people who truly espouse Christian values. And, while Ali Sistani is a Muslim, he is living a life that could be considered a true example of what we call Christian values, and has saved many lives by encouraging his followers to turn the other cheek. In short, an honorable and decent man, who I think is quite deserving of the Nobel peace prize.

For the other Western readers here, I would encourage you to read the Newsweek article about Sistani, and Fayrouz's post, and if you like what you see as much as I did, please click here and join me in signing this petition.