A Primer on Ayatollahs: Part1
Who are the real Ayatollahs, who are grand ayatollahs, who are Fake Ayatollahs and how much power do they have?
The term Ayatollah in Arabic means "the sign of God" and in a Shi'ite theocracy is one of the highest rankings that a clergyman can achieve. However recently, this title along with other political and religious titles, have been distorted by those in power and the need to redefine any thing. Since this title carries a lot of weight in the Shiite sect of Islam. I will examine what it is and how one becomes in Iran.
Historically, it was not very difficult to be a clergyman in Iran. All you needed was the clergyman's cloth, knew a few religious songs (preferably a good voice) and a few religious stories for every occasions. Some of these clergymen were totally illiterate, and some worked in other professions .When ever there was a religious service in our house my mother would send me to our local ice-cream shop and tell the owner that we needed him for a specific date and occasion. I have forgotten his name now, but he was a pleasant fellow and was always on time. He would drive a moped and when he would show up for services he would wear the clergymen's clothes. He would sing a couple of religious songs for the participants, and sometimes he would mix his songs with a couple of religious stories .Most of these stories were related to all of the hardship that the Shiite saints went through. In contrast to his good voice his knowledge of history was bad. On his way out my mother would give me fifty cents to a dollar to pay him. I always kept it quiet because I could not understand why you should mix the services with historical malarkey.
In school we would study the Quran in Arabic and had religious courses along with other requirement. In high school I had found a place where I could buy the Play Boy magazines. The religious studies classes were the best time to discuss the pictures with my friends. Overall the religious classes, learning of the Quran, participating in a religious ceremony were not a big deal one way or another.
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