In a previous article on Silah Report authored by Ali Parsa and generously donated by him from his website Aliparsa.com, Ali specifically mentioned an interesting practice done by Iranian Shi’a Imams during Friday Khutbah Prayer services. Imam’s in Iran are known to hold on to various rifles while giving their Khutbah sermons. Ali mentions that this comes from a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) where it mentions that the Prophet always held the “Weapon of the Day” while giving his own sermons. Going into a little searching I found this paragraph on Islam QA that gives some background behind this-
In a tradition recorded by Imam Abu Dawood, it is narrated that the companion, Hakam bin Hazn Al Kulfi (RA) said, ‘We witnessed Juma with the Prophet (SA), and while standing (to deliver the khutba), he was leaning on a staff or bow. (Abu Dawwood – Chapter of a person who delivers a khutba and leans on a bow). Based on this narration, scholars have stated that holding the staff while delivering the khutba is commendable, as it was a practice of the Prophet (SA). In this regard, the great jurist, Allama Shami recorded the following: – ‘Certainly taking the staff is a Sunnah just as standing’. (Raddul Mukhtar).
Now, I’m not nearly as versed in the Sunnah as Iranian Shi’a clerics, but in this instance it makes no mention of a “Weapon of the Day”, which Imams in Iran appear to interpret as meaning whatever primary weapon is issued that is used to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran. That is certainly one interpretation of “Weapon of the Day”, perhaps similar how a “Uniform of the Day” is in many armed forces regulations around the world informing troops what uniform to wear. The explanation above refers to a “Staff”, which the Prophet appears to simply mean something to lean on, gain physical support from, and show to emit a sense of authority in front of a congregation. We have similar examples of Prophet Moses’s staff and there are other religious texts that reference a staff as well.
A key note to mention here is that this practice is only adhered to in the Islamic Republic when it comes to gripping actual firearms during the Khutbah sermons. It doesn’t appear to even exist in other Shi’a dominated countries or countries under Iranian influence to the extent that it does in Iran.
Now, going back to sort of the entire reason why Silah Report exists (apart from general small arms & light weapons analysis), is that we serve to make sense of these cultural phenomena when it comes to the intersection of small arms and the regions we are interested in. A prime example is this Blaze post in 2015 that is entitled “Can You Spot What Iran’s Khamenei Was Holding During His Speech on the Nuclear Deal? The Mainstream Media Ignored It”.
The post goes to great length to try and psychoanalyze the geopolitical ramifications of Imam-i-Khamenei gripping what is most likely a Chinese export copy of the 7.62x54r mm SVD Dragunov marksman rifle.
The article mentions that-
To drive home the point, the supreme leader’s official website posted a close up photo captured from beside the podium of the gun which even showed the magazine jutting out
But the most potent sign of all reflecting his message – the gun balanced under his left hand holding his speech notes – was left unmentioned.
It’s unlikely that if the speech had been given by an American or any Western politician that this scene setting detail would have been overlooked, especially given the hotly debated issue of guns.
The AP’s website had this photo of Khamenei holding the gun, but it was not mentioned in the copy in the accompanying article
By now, I hope readers of this article will realize the odd stance that The Blaze is taking on this Dragunov. Of course the Iranian media didn’t mention it because this is in fact actually a completely routine practice done by Imams at every organizational level throughout the religious hierarchy in Iran. Should the Iranian media have thoroughly mentioned the microphone in front of Imam-i-Khamenei’s face as well?
Now, this post isn’t to slander a conservative news outlet for getting something wrong. Any viewpoint from any source at all that is worthy of correcting in a cultural, historical, or social light will be equally scrutinized. This one just so happened to stand out as a prime reason why we at Silah Report are dedicated to our jobs at hand, to fill this void of historical and cultural knowledge by analyzing the technical with the cultural.
For more information on other Imams holding small arms during sermons, check out this Farsi language post on the topic, literally discussing what certain Imams prefer to hold during their Khutbahs.
From the post, in Farsi-
به گزارش پارسینه، برکف گرفتن سلاح توسط امام جمعه، سنتی است اسلامی که ریشه در صدراسلام دارد، نمادی از آمادگی دفاعی در برابر دشمنان اسلام حتی در محراب و محل نماز، بعد از پیروزی انقلاب اسلامی، مرحوم آیت الله طالقانی که با حکم امام خمینی، احیاگر سنت نماز جمعه بود، بار دیگر این سنت اسلامی را زنده کرد. آیت الله طالقانی در برابر پیشنهاد برخی از انقلابیون که به وی پیشنهاد کردند از شمشیر به عنوان سلاح خطیب امام جمعه استفاده کند، این پیشنهاد را رد کرد و “سلاح روزآمد و مدرن” را به دست گرفت.
در اوایل انقلاب اسلامی، سلاح ژ-3 تفنگی بود که امامان جمعه تهران و شهرستانها در حین ایراد خطبه جمعه به دست می گرفتند که در سالهای بعد، اسلحه از رده خارج “برنو” جای ژ3 را گرفت.
در میان ائمه جمعه، آیت الله حسنی امام جمعه ارومیه به داشتن سلاح های متعدد از جمله کلت و گرینوف در نماز جمعه شهرت دارد و معمولا بر خلاف ائمه جمعه دیگر از سلاح کلاشینکف در محراب نماز جمعه استفاده می کند.
As a quick sidenote by scanning photographs online, it doesn’t appear that the initial Supreme Leader of Iran, Imam-i-Khomeni adhered to the practice. Although it should be noted that senior Imams during his time did partake in it, as evidenced in the black and white photographs above.