Nateq-Nouri’s Criticism against the Administration:
Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, head of Supreme Leader’s Audit Office, blasted on Saturday those who purport to communicate with or know of the time of return of Imam Zaman, the twelfth Shia Imam currently in occultation, calling them liars. The remarks were made despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated claims in various speeches that his administration is guided by “Imam Zaman.” On at least one occasion, Ahmadinejad has claimed that the time for Imam Zaman’s return is near.
Imam Zaman is the twelfth Shia Imam. According to Shia theology, he is in occultation like the Messiah, and will return at “the end of time” to reform the earth. In his critical remarks, uttered at Ayatollah Khomeini’s burial site, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri said, “Anyone who says I know when Imam Zaman is returning is lying, and anyone who claims to be communicating or know that Imam Zaman is returning in near future days or years is talking nonsense. Then it is mentioned that some are falsely claiming to have seen or communicated with Imam Zaman. Anyone who claims that I have seen Imam Zaman or communicate with him and he has given me messages is a liar.”
This prominent conservative figure who had previously criticized the Ahmadinejad Administration’s economic policies, reserved the last part of his speech for more pointed criticism of the ninth administration’s religious claims, noting, “There is no doubt that this country is the country of Imam Zaman, a Shia country that is a Islamic Republic and governed based on Islamic principles; but that does not mean that everything we do is coming from him [Imam Zaman]. Why are we spending on Imam Zaman’s behalf?”
In an implicit reference to Ahmadinejad’s remarks earlier noting “Imam Zaman’s management” of the country’s affairs, Nateq-Nouri said, “When our actions are carried out in Imam Zaman’s name, people say that perhaps he would manage things the same way when he returns; therefore this is better. I take this issue to be very dangerous.”
Nateq-Nouri’s criticism of the ninth administration’s religious ideas on Saturday is publicized despite the fact that, ever since coming to power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has touted “speeding up Imam Zama’s return” as the political agenda of his administration. Nonetheless, serious rifts emerged between him and major Islamic jurists last spring when, at a speech in Mashhad, Ahmadinejad promised that he “sees Imam Zaman’s hand in all affairs.” He even attributed his “successful” appearance at Columbia University – despite “obstacles” manufactured by American politicians - to Imam Zaman’s help and claimed that 500 million people watched his speech on television.