World: The Gentle Scholar of Qum

Turbaned, gray-bearded and bespectacled Ayatullah Sharietmadari, 76, looks like anything but a revolutionary. He has a kindly, gentle manner. A revered scholar, he spends most of his days sitting on the floor of his bone-bare home in Qum, discussing the subtleties of Islamic thought with theological students who come to him from all over the Muslim world. His name is less a symbol of political resistance than that of Ayatullah Khomeini, 80, who has been in exile since 1963 and now lives in Iraq. But among those mullahs still inside Iran, Sharietmadari is the acknowledged leader of his nation's conservative forces,...

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