Online Ayatollah
A traditional cleric offers modern advice and an updated understanding of Islam.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2009 14:54 GMT

To watch part two click here

Filmmaker: Maziar Bahari

Say the word Ayatollah and people think of fiery clerics and Fatwa's. That is the Western stereotype, but the reality is often very different.

Take Ayatollah Saanei. He has impeccable revolutionary credentials: he is a former student of Ayatollah Khomeini and runs a religious school.

But he also insists that women should have equal rights, has condemned suicide bombings and says that nuclear weapons are against Islam.

He is one of only thirty Ayatollah's in Iran to have attained the status of Marja, a revered position in Shia Islam permitting him to interpret the Quran to his followers.

His liberal pronouncements have won him a huge popular following with his own call center, an internet chat room, charities and his own website.

Ayatollah Saanei shares his office and his family meal with filmmaker Maziar Bahari, revealing a traditional holy man offering very modern advice.

The Iranian filmmaker has been granted unprecedented access to this religious superstar to bring us a day in a life of an online Ayatollah.

Al Jazeera
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