Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad
Ayatollah Damad underwent education in both modern and traditional Shi’a Muslim spheres. By 1970, he was deemed educated enough to be named Ayatollah, and he received his B.A. in Islamic Philosophy and his M.A. in Islamic Jurisprudence from Tehran University in 1969 and 1980 respectively. As such, his discussion of current events usually stems from a philosophical and legal point of view. As such, he has spoken out against the unduly harsh sentencing of political protesters, for which he has gained notoriety in both Iran and globally. His focus on the proper nature of justice has led him to become involved, through speech and writing, in peace organizations outside of RfP. He has spoken about the necessity to observe Islamic law in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that the two are compatible. Additionally, he is a signer of the “A Common Word between Us and You” endeavor, which sought to unite Christian and Muslim leaders for the purpose of interfaith cooperation. Ayatollah Damad’s vast knowledge of his own faith and his focus on employing just interaction with other faiths speaks to compassion fitting with the ideals of Religions for Peace.
Mostafa passed his Islamic education in Arabic literature, Quran, Hadith, Islamic philosophy, theology, and jurisprudence at the Fayzieh School in Qom. He achieved the degree of Ijtihad in 1970. Also, he continued his modern academic education in Islamic Philosophy and graduated in 1969 from Tehran University. After that, he achieved his Master of Science degree in Islamic Jurisprudence in 1980 from Tehran University. In 1996, he went to the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium and earned his Ph.D. degree.
As of 1988, he is a member of The Academy of Sciences of Iran. Also, he has been a professor in the Faculty of Law at Shahid Beheshti University since 2007. He reportedly has held such posts in Iran as Chief of the State Inspectorate Organization, head of the Department of Islamic Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Iran, head of the Commission of Judicial Bill Collection of Iran, and head of the Commission of Compiling Judicial Acts.
In a September 2005 speech in the United States written up by an Iranian American doctor, he gave his opinions that there are no irreconcilable differences between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Islamic jurisprudence, that no compulsion is permissible in religion, that apostasy should be punished only if it involves undertaking actions to destabilize the social order, and that “nothing should be forced on the people by the government, not even daily prayers.”
In October 2010, Damad, representing Shia Islam, delivered an address to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops. He spoke of “the rapport between Islam and Christianity” as “based upon inspirations and propositions of the holy Quran” and as “founded upon friendship, respect and mutual understanding.” Such rapport is “certainly important for peace in the World.” Damad also expressed his gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for the Pope’s support of “rapport between Christians and Muslims.
In September 2022, following the killing of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the Guidance Patrol, Damad echoed the sentiment: “The establishment of the force for the promotion of virtues and prevention of vice is in fact meant to monitor the rulers’ actions, not to crack down on the citizens’ freedoms and is a deviation from Islamic teachings.”