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Shiite Seminaries Divided On Fatwas for Syrian Jihad

While Shiite clergy in Iran and Iraq mostly prefer to stay out of issuing fatwas, a minority is calling for jihad in Syria against salafist groups.
EDITORS' NOTE:  Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

A view of Hojjatieh seminary (bottom) and the holy shrine of Hazrat Ma'soumeh (top), the sister of the seventh shi'ite Muslim Imam Reza, in the holy city of Qom, 120 Km (75 miles) south of Tehran, March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN - Tags: CITYSCAPE RELIGION) - RTR2JNXQ
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The atmosphere of religious conflict in the region has created a hot market for jihad fatwas by religious institutions. Previously, a number of fatwas had been issued by several Sunni clergymen authorizing the act of traveling to Syria for the purpose of participating in jihad against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Presently, in response to the intensification of religious conflict in Syria, a fatwa has been issued by a clergyman from Qom, Iran that implicitly authorizes and legitimizes travel to Syria to take part in jihad against Salafist groups.

This fatwa has been published on the official Facebook page of Ayatollah Seyed Kazem Haeri in the form of a response to a request for permission to travel to Syria for the purpose of defending the burial site of Zainab, the daughter of the third Shiite Imam, without parental permission. Haeri found this action permissible and stated that parental permission for such matters is unnecessary. Previously, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Rouhani, a prominent clergyman from the Qom seminary, had also legitimized jihad in Syria for the purpose of protecting Shiite holy sites. He labeled individuals killed for this deed as martyrs. These fatwas have led to the opening of official registration sites in Iran for the purpose of traveling to participate in jihad in Syria.

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