Reports said that Sadr had gone to Iran in 2007 to study in Qom, one of the centers of Shiite religious studies. Sadr supposedly was going for weekly classes there to become a mujtahid, a learned scholar. If he attained that rank he would have the power to issue religious decrees. Many believed that Sadr was striving to become an ayatollah, which would give him greater religious and political standing when he returned to Iraq.
|Ayatollah Haeri (Al-Shahed)|
|Ayatollah Shahroudi (Reuters)|
All of the mentors mentioned for Sadr are followers of Ayatollah Khomeini’s version of clerical rule, many of them are close to the hardliners in Iran, and have followed Iran’s foreign policy towards Iraq. Ayatollah Haeri for example, came out against Sadr’s April 2004 uprising, opposed Iraq signing the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the U.S., and came out for Maliki’s second term in office after the March 2010 elections, all of which mirrored Iran’s stance. Yazidi on the other hand is an adviser to President Ahmadenijad. Shahroudi has been called a moderate conservative in Iran, and seemed to be dissatisfied with the 2009 elections there, but he was a student of Ayatollah Khomeini, and took part in the Iranian Revolution.
While in Qom, Sadr was inculcated in Khomeini’s theology, which is different than the Shiism prevalent in Najaf. Both schools believe that ayatollahs should play a leading role in society and politics. Khomeini however advocated the direct supervision of the government by clerics. Sadr has now transferred his studies to Najaf. If he hopes to become an ayatollah and join the religious hierarchy there, the marjaiya, he would traditionally have to gain the support of powerful clerics. On the other hand, he could try to force his way in rather than integrate into the establishment. With a militia and his movement’s new political standing after the March 2010 elections Sadr could be a serious threat to the marjaiya in the coming years. If he were successful that would also be a coup for Tehran because Sadr has grown closer to its leadership, and it sees Najaf, as a rival. Sadr has to make the right decisions for this to happen however, and that has always been a problem for him.
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