Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Five Pieces of Soleimani

Demonstrating the ideological arrangement of the Islamic Republic in the order and selection of Qassem Soleimani's grave goods: Political religion, superstition, anti-Semitism, cult of leadership and terror

There were 5 pieces. When Qassem Soleimani was buried, his grave souvenir were 5 pieces. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who had not yet presided over the Islamic Consultative Assembly at the time of Soleimani’s funeral and was a member of the Expediency Council, posted a picture of an Instagram influencer-style arrangement on his social media pages on January 7, 2020, in which five items were put together in an ideological order. The lower half of the photo was occupied by a red cloth with the letter “H” printed in white. On top of this shiny red cloth, a brown cloth was folded that filled the other half of the image, and on it was a small plastic bag containing white powder and a ring and a small piece of white cloth with things written in Arabic on it. The writings were in drawn horizontal and vertical lines and several signatures were engraved with blue ink. The member of the Expediency Council explained this arrangement:

Rites and beliefs related to the burial of objects and tools of the dead in graves are as old as human civilization. Some experts have even attributed the origins of the burial rituals and practices to close relatives of “mankind”, Neanderthals, citing new findings in recent years. Burial of the dead and grave souvenir is the product of believing in a kind of life after death. The more than 30,000-year-old grave goods discovered in Sungir represent layers of self-consciousness, worldview and beliefs that are not limited to one culture and one geographical area, but are intertwined with humanity itself and everything it has created: civilization. What human beings believed about life after death is reflected in the burial of the dead and funeral rituals. When Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings of Egypt in 1922, in addition to large quantities of jewelry, he found 161 baskets of fruit, 40 jars of wine, remnants of meat and bread and other food. The Egyptians considered the mummified body to be the “home” of the human soul after death, in the otherworld, and since this spirit had to continue eating and drinking there, they placed food and drink in its grave.

The notion of death as a journey is inferred in many societies as the reason for leaving the “road provisions” in the grave. These “grave supplies” were buried in the grave for the dead to consume on the way to “life” after death in the Hereafter. [1] The Achomawi Indians (northeastern California) even gave money to their dead so they could buy food for themselves in the afterlife. [2] The Otherworld was often interpreted as a continuation of life in this world, and for this reason the dead there had the same social status and occupation during their lifetime in this world: they laid a sickle in the grave of a peasant so he would be able to reap; A spear was placed in the grave for a hunter, with which he would hunt the animals of the Hereafter in the next world, and they would not bury the warriors without swords and armor. The Ainu people (Japan) destroyed the grave goods before burial. Because the Ainu believed that all objects and tools had souls, and that in order for a dead person to be able to use them in the otherworld, those objects and tools had to die first. [3] Sickles were broken, swords were bent, and spears had to be “killed”, so their souls can be used by the souls of the dead.

From the ethnological viewpoint, the extent and variety of mourning ceremonies and burial rites in all human societies indicate that death was a decisive event in the beginning of human civilization. Apart from personal dimensions and psychological effects that the death of a person leaves on those around him, or the perceptions that different human races have of what happens to a person after death, death has a constituting power in society. When a person dies, the place he or she occupied in his or her social life, the role he or she played in society during his or her life, that is, his or her functions and duties, are released and made available to the public. It can be said that the higher the level of duties and social responsibilities of a person, the more severe three impact of his death on society and survivors. With the death of a person, a gap in society opens that must be filled. Duties after the death of that person must be redistributed among the survivors. Responsibilities should be placed on other people. Those who are put forward for these duties, responsibilities, and functions must be accepted by social networks in which death has created a rift and caused change. Those people have always arranged for the funeral rites and ceremonies, including the selection and arrangement of “Paraphernalia*,” managed these changes in the social relations of individuals and the division of responsibilities and power among the surviving community. Mourning customs not only prevent the collapse of social structures, but also strengthen and perpetuate them; Not only do they fill the gaps created by the death of an individual in society and the power structure, but they also introduce to the society the figures and elements that should cover those gaps. [4]

From this perspective, we can now understand the meaning and function of each item in the 5-piece grave goods of Qassem Soleimani; Realize the reason behind resurrecting the rituals of prehistoric times or – as Muslims say- “ignorance” and idolatry times, by the ideological political system of the Islamic Republic.

In archeology, grave souvenirs are divided into two categories: original and non-original. Four of Qassem Soleimani’s grave goods are non-original, meaning they were not made merely to be placed in the grave and were tools used by him or others during his lifetime, and those four items are: a red cloth that Ghalibaf says was from the dome of Hussein’s shrine in the city of Karbala, Iraq, a brown cloth that was Khamenei’s prayer cloak, a prayer ring and a small plastic bag containing a few grams of soil from the Karbala region. The only original burial in this 5-piece set is white cloth as a guarantee; The ultimate guarantee with the worldly signature of Ali Khamenei, Hassan Nasrallah and Emad Fayez Mughniyeh from the Lebanese Hezbollah, among whom Mughniyeh was actually killed ten years before Qassem Soleimani. This signed guarantee was specifically prepared for Soleimani’s funeral and is considered an original grave item.

These 5 pieces symbolically represent the ideological arrangement of the Islamic Republic: political religion, superstition, anti-Semitism, religious leadership and terror. Ghalibaf himself, of course, as a symbol of corruption and nepotism, has embellished his name as the “political parasite” symbol. Only a few months later, he became the speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly. The rift that opened its mouth after the death of Qassem Soleimani had to be filled with Khamenei and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Terrorism had to continue, Jerusalem had to be conquered, and “Israel was to be wiped off from the face of the earth.”

Even though the three big religions of monotheism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, by defining the otherworld as the spiritual world and this world as the material world, created a dichotomy along which the burial rites and rituals of the dead were changed and the custom of furnishing graves with goods was changed, and almost destroyed, but this rite has been revived and resurrected through the contradiction and superstition of Shiites in favor of political Islam, as we see in the example of Qassem Soleimani’s grave souvenirs. Apparently, the qualitative difference between the two worlds created by the two pre-Islamic religions which forbade Jews and Christians from burying paraphernalia, a difference that blocked the passage of objects from this material world to the spirits of the Hereafter spiritual world has been eliminated in political Islam and Shiite. It has made a bridge from one world to another, and enabled logistics of properties, blessings, belongings, jobs, etc… once again. Claude Levi-Strauss, whom many call the father of modern anthropology, in the final chapter of his masterpiece “Tristes Tropiques”[5] expresses this historical backwardness of religions, especially Islam, with these words:

“Humans made three great religious endeavors to free themselves from the pursuit of the dead, the wickedness of the afterlife, and the fears of magic. About 500 years apart, they designed Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, respectively; And it is obvious that each of these three stages is not a progress, but a setback compared to its previous stage. For Buddhism there is nothing in the sense of the hereafter; Everything is limited to a radical critique that no human being will ever be able to stand against, and in the end the wise man achieves a fundamental denial of the purpose and meaning of all beings and materials; A discipline which destroys the universe and itself as a religion. Christianity, which re-surrendered to fear, revives the Hereafter, re-creates the otherworld with hopes and threats and the Last Judgment. There is nothing left for Islam to do; Other than taking a step in this direction: the union of the mortal world and the spiritual world. Social order adorns itself with the prestige of the supernatural order. Politics becomes theology. Islam, in fact, replaced ghosts that superstition could not bring to life, with men and personas who were already very real, and in addition, they were given the monopoly of the otherworld, which was an additional burden to the oppressing onus of this world.”

There were 5 pieces. Qassem Soleimani, when he was buried, was 5 pieces:

Viscera
Internal organs
Right hand
Right foot
Part of shoulder

Mohammad Bagherzadeh, Commander of the Missing Persons Search Committee of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, narrated in a report he had prepared for Ali Khamenei on January 7, 2020 about the condition of Qassem Soleimani and his companions:

“I said to the Master: Last night, when we wanted to bury the martyrs, we saw Karbala (Karbala was in front of our eyes). All the bodies were chopped in pieces, Hajj Qassem was divided into five parts, he didn’t have a head, part of his shoulder, right hand, internal organs and viscera and right foot. Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis was only 4 to 5 kg of meat. I said: Although we had all the tools for shrouding, we had cloth, we had cotton, we had plastic and other accessories, but we could not assemble these bodies well and we could hardly perform tayammum and wrap them in shroud. I do not know how Imam Zin al-Abedin in Karbala collected the body of Sayyid al-Shuhada (Hussein) with Booria (a rug made of reeds)?”


1. Rosenblatt, P. C., Grief & mourning in cross cultural perspective
2. Yarrow, H. C., A Further contribution to the study to the mortuary customs of the North American Indians
3. Munroe, N. G., Ainu, Creed & cult
4. Radcliff, Brown, The Andaman Islanders: a study in social Anthropology
5. Sad Tropics

*Paraphernalia is a Greek word, a combination of “para” meaning “beyond” and “pherne” meaning “the dowry.” It’s a legal term referring to woman’s belongings excluding her dowry. They could include her clothing and jewellery.

Translation of this article by Sahar.

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