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Early History

  When and where was the Islamic Dawa Party (IDP) established?
 

It was founded in 1957 in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq.

  Who founded the party?
 

The main inspiration was Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr – a leading philosopher, theologian and political theorist of his day. Other founding members were: Abdul Sahib Dukheil, Mohammed Mahdi Al-Hakim, Mohammed Sadiq Al-Qamoosee, Mohammed Salih Al-Adeeb, Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim, Murtadha Alaskary and Talib Al-Rafa’ee.

 

 

Organisation

  Is the IDP a Shi’a-only party? What is its position to other Islamic denominations? Are there members within the party who are not Shi’a?
 

Since its foundation, the party has never seen itself to be a Shi’a party, nor defined itself as such whether in public or private. From its establishment, the party has had members of other Muslim denominations. Whilst the party’s Islamic teachings are based on the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt (the Prophet and his progeny), it does not force this view on its members. We view the presence of a diversity of views and religious denominations within Islam as a natural consequence of differing interpretations which can be a source of strength for Muslims worldwide. This is to be very clearly distinguished from the evil that is sectarianism, and which thrives on exaggerating differences between the different sects in an attempt to divide and fragment the social fabric that unites Iraqis together. We regard one of the primary aims of our members is the building of bridges between different religious sects, and the enshrining of the principle of religious and denominational diversity.

  What are the sources of the party’s funding?
 

Beside membership fees, we accept donations from our members as well as other sympathisers. We also hold fundraising campaigns.   

  How can the party be said to be democratic when its members are selected?
 

The abnormal context in which the party operated during the rule of Saddam Hussein had an impact on the scope for openness. Because the party was involved in a deadly struggle against Saddam’s regime, there were two reasons for secrecy and selection. Firstly, membership could not be declared because people were afraid of being implicated in a party whose membership alone brought capital punishment (Decree 461 of the disbanded Revolutionary Command Council of the Baath regime issued on 31 March 1980 stating the death penalty for members, affiliates and sympathisers of IDP.
Secondly, members of Saddam’s intelligence services were always attempting to infiltrate the party, and this gave rise to the necessity of selecting the membership.

The collapse of the regime has brought new problems with it. Baathist intelligence operatives are trying to join parties with a long history of opposition as a means of trying to avoid being held accountable for their past actions. The IDP could have achieved a huge expansion in its membership in the aftermath of the war, but we refused to become an umbrella for such criminals. We see that other parties have sadly become fronts for the Baath party, whether Shia or Sunni.

However, despite these difficulties, democracy has always been at the heart of the party. Since 1982, the party has held its national party conference biannually. Representatives from the different provinces attend the national party conference and elect the National Executive Committee of the Party. The last national party conference was held in Baghdad on 19th April 2007 (the first since the collapse of the Baath regime). Similarly, elections are the means by which local IDP members are chosen to occupy roles in the provincial and national organisations of the party.  

  What does the Party look for when recruiting new members?
 

We look for people of all ages, who love their country and are willing to work hard to build a new Iraq. We are particularly looking to bring in more women into the party to strengthen what is already – relatively speaking – a strong membership.

 

 What role, if any, do women have in the party?

 

 Since the creation of the party in 1957 women have played a crucial role in shaping the party’s objectives, inspiring the party’s development, as well as contributing to the day-to-day running of the party. The story of our struggle against Saddam Hussein is full of women who played a heroic role in their struggle against injustice and oppression, and the lists of martyrs contain numerous women who bravely gave their lives for their country.  Bint-al-huda, is one name amongst many. She was in charge of the women branch of the party, and stood side-by-side with her brother, Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr in defiance of Saddam Hussein, and died with him, inspiring a nation to carry on its struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

While the harsh and dangerous realities of party membership under Saddam’s tyrannical regime hindered the growth of female membership, the last few years since the collapse of the Baath regime are seeing a surge in the involvement of women. For instance, female candidates from the IDP, as well as other parties involved, constitute 30% of the United Iraqi Alliance, and we are committed to improving this figure in future elections.

   Are the party’s activities confined to Iraq, or do they cross national borders?
   The IDP is an Iraqi political party that, despite holding beliefs of a universal nature that naturally transcend nationalist lines, works above all within and for Iraqi interests.
  Does the Party have a Militia? What is the Party's view on Iraqi militias today?
 

The Dawa party has no militia. The Party advocates the disarming of all Iraqi militias and their integration into Iraq's security forces (including the army). The emphasis should be on those integrated to place their allegiance and loyalty to Iraq and its citizens, as opposed to ethnic or sectarian affiliations.

 

 

Ideology and identity

   What does the party stand for?
   The Islamic Dawa Party can be defined by its Islamic ideology. As a political party, it advocates the implementation of Wilayat Al-Umma (Governance of the People) as envisioned by Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr. Practically, this involves working to ensure the establishment of a fully-functioning democracy in Iraq, and the securing of the Iraqi people’s rights and liberties. As a movement, it seeks to build a society made whole by the achievements and contributions of each and every one of its members. It emphasises the importance of nurturing such values as Patience, Generosity, Industry, Modesty and Truthfulness. It desires for individuals to live and enjoy this life to the full, whilst simultaneously working for the hereafter. It seeks a society of educated citizenry, thoughtful and caring of one another, participating in a common project for the good of all, as well as good of the self. It embraces diversity, as a God-given blessing to humanity. These are the kinds of human values that the Islamic Dawa Party holds central to Islam, and it is these that the party wishes to see flourish in Iraqi society.
   What type of political system is advocated by the party?
  The IDP works to establish a constitutional democracy in Iraq, which can represent the rich diversity of the Iraqi nation, and which can preserve its unity; a system in which all Iraqis are equal in their rights and duties, regardless of differences in ethnicity, sect or religion. This all falls within the framework of Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr’s theory of Wilayat Al-Ummah (‘Governance of the People’).
  What is the Party’s position on Wilayat Al-Faqih (‘Governance of the Cleric’)?
 

Wilayat Al-Faqih or ‘the Governance of the scholar’ is the governing of people by religious scholars. From its foundation, the party adopted the alternative theory of Wilayat Al-Ummah (‘Governance of the People’) as advocated by Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr. Under this theory, it is the people who are entrusted to rule their affairs as they see fit, and this requires the establishment of a democratic system whereby the people elect their representatives in government and hold them to account through periodic elections. 


 

Policy

  Does the party agree with using force for political ends? What is its position on and involvement in terrorism? Did it have any role in the Kuwait and Lebanon bombings of the 1980s?
 

The IDP deplores in the strongest terms ,acts of terrorism which kill people in the name of Islam or any other ideology or goal or the use of force for political end. This position emanates from the sanctity of human life in Islam, and is not subject to any exceptions. In all our history of struggle against Saddam’s persecution, the IDP never used terror as a means of achieving its goals. Armed resistance was always directly targeted at senior members of Saddam’s ruling elite, whose criminality was beyond question.

The IDP had no role whatsoever in the Kuwait bombings of 1983, and was quick to denounce them as terrorist activities at the time. Its denial of any implication in the attacks was published at the time by various news agencies such as France Press and was verified by the Kuwaiti Minister of State Abdul Aziz Husain in 1984 following a government investigation. The same is true for the attacks in Lebanon

It is important to stress here the IDP’s track record for opposing extremism and violence. From its foundation, the party declared in its charter the use of peaceful means to affect political and social change, and we have been committed wholeheartedly to this ever since.

  What is the relationship between the IDP and Iran?
  The Party has no direct relationship with Iran, or any other country. As part of the government, the party works to build strong economic, political and cultural ties with the international community in general and our neighbours in particular. Iran is one such neighbour, which is of particular importance given the long borders it shares with Iraq. The IDP’s stance is simple: we wish to see an Iraq that enjoys strong ties with Iran, just as we wish to see an Iraq that enjoys strong ties with neighbouring Arab states and with Turkey. At the same time, we trust and expect of our neighbours not to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs, or to fight proxy wars on Iraqi soil. Common respect for each state’s sovereignty and independence must form the basis of any relationship between Iraq and its neighbours, as well as countries of the region and the world at large.
  What is the stand of the party regarding the  former Baath Party members if they have been given government positions in Iraq?
  The party differentiates between two types of Baathists. The first type of Baathists are those who joined the party willingly and enthusiastically, forming its core, and who participated in the enforcing of its chauvinistic nationalistic ideals, its totalitarianism as embodied in the figure of Saddam Hussein, and who consequently committed many crimes against the Iraqi people. These Baathists represent a small proportion of all Baathists. The second type of Baathists are those who were compelled to join the ranks of the party out of fear for their lives, or out of hope of betterment of their miserable living conditions. These Baathists did not commit any crimes against the Iraqi people, and were never fully inculcated in the Saddamist-Baathist ideology. They represent the majority of Baathists in Iraq .From distinguishing those two types of Baathists, the party’s stance becomes straightforward. The IDP embraces all Baathists of the second type provided they renounce any links with the old regime and show themselves prepared to live in harmony within the framework of the democratic political process in Iraq. In contrast, it regards the former as the backbone of Saddam’s bloody dictatorial regime, who can never be reconciled to the new Iraq. Since the fall of the regime, it is this group of Baathists who have used terror and the inciting of sectarianism in their attempts to sabotage democratisation and return Iraq to the days of brutal dictatorship. It is this group that embody the Iraqi Baath Party, and for that reason, we hold that there can be no return for the Baath Party in Iraq just as there can be no return for the Nazi Party in Germany.
  What is the party’s position toward Federalism?
 

The IDP is a major supporter of federalism in Iraq. We believe that through federalism, Iraq can put an end to decades of overweening and controlling central government, whilst simultaneously preserving the unity of the country. Whilst debate within the party is still ongoing concerning the articulation of a specific proposal, the most popular proposal within the party thus far involves the creation of several federal regions across Iraq composed of no more than three or four provinces.

 

Vision

  What is the party’s vision for the future of Iraq?
  We envision a free, democratic federal Iraq, in which Iraqis of differing ethnicities and sects live as equal citizens, enjoying the same rights and liberties, and shouldering the same duties as one another. In this new Iraq, we envision a positive role for Islam, enhancing the character of our people, teaching moderation, not extremism, embracing diversity, rather than the enforcing of uniformity and submission, and contributing to human progress, rather than harking back to a mythical past. We believe the Iraqi people can realise this New Jerusalem, if we are to free ourselves from external interference, and if we are to unite under the banner of Iraq. Through establishing a truly democratic Iraq, we will have set the right framework for future generations to prosper, and live in harmony with one another, and at peace with the world.
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