A message For Reserving Individual’s Privacy

Dr. Abdolwahhab Forati

Before anything we should know that if today the works of Imam Khomeini would have been studied, most of the problems that our country is struggling with today wouldn’t have appeared; indeed some of his writings and commands are so notable that they could be counted as Imam’s policy for a scientific perspective. Consider that it is said that John Locke has an essay about liberal theory; that western thinker has a great essay about civil liberation that his work is the source for liberal systems. With this similarity if we want to study Imam Khomeini’s essays and writings about religious governing we will find that Imam’s ideas are quite strong about governing a society and it has been a source to changes in systems and it has helped solving lots of problems. Then why such magnificent theories aren’t used accurately? One of his commands was the Charter of Clergy. The second one is the Charter of Brotherhood which looks at unity issues from a high level; and the third which hold high boldness in social fields is the Eight Articled Directive. In fact Imam’s Eight Articled Directive is an official announcement from a religious scholar about civil rights and it shows the path for the government, and all these are despite its meaningful words and the great analyst which we could have about its different dimensions.

Interference in private lives of individuals

In a brief study, we can divide the Eight Articled Directive into 5 different parts. First; Imam has a great stress on forming and issuing religious laws. Second; Imam emphasizes on vetting the qualification of judges, prosecutors and officers and employees as the agents of the Islamic government; he does it by stressing that the measure is the present status of the individuals. Third; Imam’s stress on the independence and decisiveness of the Islamic qualified judges somehow that people could feel relax by their issuing, executing and summoning and that they could feel their life, property and dignity is safe under Islamic justice. Fourth; Imam’s stress on determining the interference of government agents and the Islamic government in the private life of individuals. Fifth; Imam’s statement about selecting chief of the Supreme Court and the prime minister for preventing the violations and forming the provincial committees. These parts are actually the main message of Imam’s Eight Articled Directive to the head of the judiciary system, Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili. Since these commands were issued almost till the begging of 1983 Imam followed the commands contents; which this shows his insistence in their execution. From my point of view the majority of its contents refers to interference in private lives of individuals. Better to say that the fourth part which include the articles 4-7 are more important for me. Of course we should consider that there are other notes within these commands that they should also be fully studied.  What I pay more attention to in the articles 4-7 of the Eight Articled Directive is the interference of the government in private lives of individuals. One of the great issues that today most of the governments in the world, including the Islamic governments, are facing is how should the interference of governments should be in the private lives of individuals. This issue that how much could the governments interferes or what is their limitations. But of course this matter, is an expanded matter and some believe that as much as we have entered the modern world, the modern governments, despite their claims that they don’t  interfere in the life of their people, their level of interference is much more than before. If we want to compare the old and modern governments, we’ll understand that the old and traditional governments’ duty was preserving immunity for their people; and if they had interfered in their people’s lives it was only 30 or 35 times. But today when we look at the number of modern governments interfering the life of their people we reach to the number 400. Without the people even realizing and feeling it, the governments interfere in the destiny of their personal life. Any way I think that this command shows that how much a religious government could interfere in people's life and were could it deviate from this principle.

The important principle in Imam Khomeini’s view

Actually there is one important principle in Imam’s Eight Articled Directive and that is the government shouldn’t interfere in private life of individuals but where it is permitted to them so they could stop some violations. When we study this message more, there are other important issues to it like: 1-Arresting a summoning individual without a religiously qualified warrant from a judge is prohibited and violating it will cause chastising. 2-No one has the right to manipulation or confiscated ones movable and immovable property, unless by the approval of the Islamic leader. 3-No one has the right to enter ones house, shop or working place without the permission of its owner or arrest him/her  in the name of discovering an evidence or a committed sin. 4-No one has the right to listen to one’s telephone or cassette tape in the name of discovering a crime. 5-No one has the right to search in the sins of others or reveal their secrets. 6-Revealing other’s secrets are considered as a crime and sin. 7-Investigating is only permitted to discover conspiracies and against the anti-Islamic groups which are trying to overthrow the Islamic republic and terror the figures and they are entitled as Spoilers in the earth (mufsid fil-ardh). 8-If a need for investigating is necessary, religious regulations must be considered. 9-If the agents by mistake and accidentally enter another person’s house or office and find gambling and prostitution instruments or instruments of diversion means like drugs, they do not have the right to reveal in front of anyone else, because revealing prostitution is among the hugest sins and no one has the right to desecrate a Muslim’s right or Islamic Sharia. They should only do their duty as “Forbidding one from a sin” as it has been mentioned in Islam. Consider that in the first years of the revolution, when a team from the committees or intelligent services was moving to discover a safe team house like the ones used by the MKO (People's Mujahedin of Iran) for their street conflicts against the revolution. For example in their way to that safe team house, they would pass the roof of another house, and through their way they would have seen in a house other than their target house, few persons are drinking alcoholic drinks or using drugs, they used to say let's arrest these guys first and then will go to the MKO persons. But Imam Khomeini said no, you have known right to do so, because you haven’t got any warrants from a judge to do so, but about the drug smugglers you should inform the judiciary officials about them.


What has been mentioned through the Eight Articled Directive, shows that Imam Khomeini is stressing on non-interference, non-disclosure, non-aggression to the privacy of individuals; but of course with a legal sentence. We could consider Imam’s exemptions in two matters. One is persecution of privacy to other’s rights and persecution of privacy to its own benefits. So based on these two we could study Imam’s message more; therefor some said that in Islamic sayings we have had that the prophet has interfered in the life of others. There is famous saying that Thamar ibn Jindan had sold some houses to a person without their palms. He always entered the houses without permission to handle his palm; that house owner came to the prophet and asked for his help; prophet tried to convince Thamar to deter his palms but he refused to do so. And the prophet ordered to cut the tree and throw it in front of Thamar. Some say that the prophet has entered the privacy of others! And also it is said the  during the prophet’s time food was finished in a town, and it was said that only one man has some food, and the prophet ordered to seize his food and sell them at the market. These are what usually is referred to the interfere of the government (here prophet’s government) in people’s privacy; when you consider the contents of these sayings, in the first one the privacy of a man is persecuted by the right of another man, and in the second one the right of a man is persecuted by the benefits of a society; so where these persecutions are presented, Islamic law could interfere in people’s privacy. But other than these issues we have no right to interfere in one's privacy. And I think that if we study Imam’s Eight Articled Directive based on Islamic jurisprudence and see its reasons we find out that they are all based on the Islamic jurisprudence.

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