February 21, 2005


Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani was born on August 4th 1930 in Mashhad,Iran to a family of religious scholars.He was named after his grandfather who was a famous scholar and had studied at Najaf.Originally his family is from Sistan an area of Iran and this accounts for his title "Sistani".
His childhood was in his birth place of Mashhad and he went on to continue his religious schooling at Qom in central Iran.Years later he moved to Najaf in Iraq to complete his training under the guidance of Grand Ayatolah Khoei whom died in 1992,naming Sistani as his replacement.Sistani follows the belief of separating religion from politics.Sistani has been the target of numerous assination attempts in the 1990s and he was imprisoned after the first gulf war,being blamed by the Baath Party for the Shia uprising against Saddam Hussein of which failed and resulted in the deaths of up to 20,000 Shia.In 1994 his Mosque was shut down and he was held under house arrest in Najaf.Sistani is revered amongst the Shia of Iraq and it is because of this that he has played a prominent role in current Iraqi politics.Sistani has been questioned and criticised for his silence on the U.S occupation of Iraq and of the U.S seige and destruction of the Holy city of Najaf.His silence was seen by many as acceptance of U.S domination in Iraq.The relationship with the cleric al-Sadr and the supporters of the Shia Mehdi army have been strained over the last few years,al Sadr a nationalist and vehemently against occupation,those views conflicted with Sistani s.In August 2003 the Mehdi army rose up against the U.S occupation in Najaf and a violent exchange lasted for a month,it was at the start of this that Sistani quickly left Iraq to head to London for heart treatment.Many saw a correlation between the 2 events and he was severly criticised for leaving Iraq and the Shia at their most needed hour,others asked why Sistani went to London,a member of the occupation forces,when he could have received medical treatment in Saudi Arabia,Egypt,Kuwait,Turkey,Iran or any other Islamic country and again people correlated this to Sistani being a western puppet.He returned from London some weeks later and helped to bring resolution to the U.S seige and destruction of Najaf.Sistani was then to stay relatively on the sidelines quietly supporting the U.S occupation and the January 30th 2005 national elections of which he and his supporters played a key role.His actions have confused many Iraqi,Shia and the Shia following currently seems to be split between the followers of Sistani,which are mainly the older generation and the followers of al-Sadr which are predominately the youth of Iraq.

Written by K.C.Moore and edited by newsout.blogspot.com

Supporters Of Sistani, Iraq 2004

Portrait Of al-Sistani in Basra,Iraq 2004