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My Take: Iranian leader’s statement that nukes are sinful deserves a close look
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.
March 13th, 2012
02:25 PM ET

My Take: Iranian leader’s statement that nukes are sinful deserves a close look

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As politicians in Israel and the United States beat the drums for war on Iran, it is worth remembering that Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is on record against nuclear weapons.

In fact, according to a statement read on August 9, 2005, at a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he issued a fatwa declaring that “the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”

Last month, Khamenei met personally with nuclear scientists and repeated what he said earlier in this religious decree:

We are not seeking nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic of Iran considers possession of nuclear weapons a sin ... and believes that holding such weapons is useless, harmful and dangerous.

The Islamic Republic of Iran wants to prove to the world that possessing nuclear weapons does not bring power and that might doesn't come from atomic weapons.

There are, of course, a variety of possibilities here.

One is that Khamenei, whose title is supreme leader of Iran, does not have the authority most believe he does in his country. So even if he opposes nukes in the name of Islam, he cannot make Iran forswear them.

Another is that he is lying to buy Iran more time to build a bomb.

But it is also possible that he means what he says and has the power to make it happen.

Not so long ago, American leaders came to believe, wrongly, that a Middle Eastern nation possessed weapons of mass destruction. And that falsehood mired us in Iraq in one of our longest and costliest wars. Today, many are worried that history is repeating itself in Iran.

Is it?

I do not know. I do know, however, that there are good reasons to believe that using and even possessing nuclear weapons are contrary to Islamic law. In other words, Khamenei’s fatwa makes Islamic sense.

I also know that here in the United States, we are not talking about it enough.

Many are quick to seize on belligerent statements by Muslim extremists worldwide. Here, we have a statement of a very different sort. But we as a nation seem to be ignoring it.

On Sunday, the public editor at The New York Times, Arthur Brisbane, devoted his weekly column to criticism that his paper’s coverage has been biased toward bombing Iran. He defended the coverage, yet admitted that the Times has not done enough “to reach across the cultural divide to fully understand significant statements from the Iranian leadership, like the fatwa against nuclear weapons by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”

But the Times is not alone here. We the American people have been ignoring it too. Perhaps it is time, at a minimum, to read Khamenei's words.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Fatwa • Iran • Iran • Iraq • Islam • Israel • Middle East • Opinion

soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. Badboys Lifestyle

    Thanks for the website. I found this website randomly and it really sparked an interest. I think religion is healthy but people also have to think for themselves and not believe everything they hear. If that makes sense..

    June 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  2. Urafkntool

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IRAN! TAKE THE ZI-ON-ISTS DOWN!

    March 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  3. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide

    This is the reason why many people are soon coming here to Washington, D.C. to worship and praise president Obama because he will be God on October 21st of this year. Obama will rule the world and will work with Christ in the rapture of the christian church. This is the good news gospel of Obama and Christ.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Oh yay a new cut and paste troll. How wonderful.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  4. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide

    When president Obama becomes of divine order on October 21st of this year, things will be put in perspective. We need to read the good gospels of Obama because he is a good christian family man and will be God on October 21st of this year.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  5. Khepri Neteru

    I support it. Why should any country have nukes period.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    March 16, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  7. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    March 16, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Jack O'Brien

      Reality, have you taken your medication today??? What drivel. For your information and all other warmongers beating the drums of war on Iran, Iran HAS "NOT" BEEN THE AGGRESSOR in a war for over 200 years. More than I can say for us. We started MANY in just the last ten years alone!! What planet do you live on??? Stop posting your NONSENSE on this board and let people who ACTUALLY READ comment intelligently. In other words, crawl back under the rock you came from. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE. While you're at it, do humanity a favor and hold your breath fro 15 minutes. Thank you EVEN more.

      March 16, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  8. Iqbal Khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIU9j_qwzOE&w=640&h=360]

    March 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Reality

      The Truth:

      Our War on Terror and Aggression:

      An update (or how we are spending or how we have spent the USA taxpayers’ money to eliminate global terror and aggression)

      The terror and aggression via a Partial and Recent and Not So Recent Body Count

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "
      Continued below:
      Other elements of our War on Terror and Aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles as of 09/15/2011/, 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed mostly due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      -Ditto for Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011

      March 16, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  9. Iqbal Khan

    http://www.conspiracyplanet.com/channel.cfm?channelid=112&contentid=8996

    March 15, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  10. well?

    during the cold war Catholics were not allowed to man nuclear launch controls as it was feared they may balk at the last moment in killing millions.

    March 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  11. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    March 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!..

      March 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Plumbline

    I'm sure the Mullahs would somehow conveniently justify there use against Israel and infidels.

    March 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jack O'Brien

      Another blind sheeple

      March 16, 2012 at 7:43 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.