The Iranian Revolution And Khomeini Ideas
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Published: Fri, 28 Apr 2017
The Iranian Revolution, also called the Islamic Revolution took place in 1979. It marked events involving the demise of Iran’s monarchy by bringing down the US-backed Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. The revolution placed Ayotullah Rohullah Khomeini in control of Iran. Ayotullah Rohullah Khomeini was the leader of the revolution and changed Iran into in Islamic Republic. Imam Rohullah Al-Musavi Al-Khomeini, in short, Ayotullah Khomeini, was born on September 24, 1902. He belonged to a family that had religiously strong traditions. They resided in Khumayn, located in the west of Tehran. When Ayotullah Khomeni was nineteen years old he went to study religious science where his education under notable figures exposed him to religious traditions, political activism and learning. He excelled in a lot of subjects but mastered ethics and philosophy. Though he is widely known as a revolutionary leader with a remarkable success in the political field, initially he was famous as a writer and a teacher residing in Qom. Qom had a status dignified learning center and rose as spiritual capital in Iran. His area of concern was devotional and mystical matters. But from spirituality and mysticism, he never meant social isolation and political inertness. Instead he advocated energetic natural expression on the socio-political frame. His life indicates that an Islamic revolution has its roots in spiritual and moral realm.
During his early years in Qom, his activities were in contrast with the establishing Pahlavi state by Shah of Iran, Reza Khan. Reza Khan changed the monarchy in Iran into a totalitarian dictatorship. His major objective was to wipe out Islam as a cultural, political and social power. Imam Khomeini not only witnessed these efforts of Reza Khan directly but also got news regularly from cities like Tabriz, Mashhad and Isfahan. All this deeply affected him. In the later years Muhammad Reza, son of Reza Khan became the Shah of Iran and continued the exploitive agenda regarding religious institutions.
Imam Khomeini touched the political field for the first time in 1941 when he gave a political public statement in his book Kashf al-Asrar. In 1962 Imam Khomeini became the leader of Qom. His aim became to fight back Shah at a time when not many dared to do so. He announced his support to religious institutions. For example he lent his support to students who were protesting against the permission to open liquor stores in the city. After that he moved towards matters of bigger significance. In October 1962 he united with the religious leaders throughout the country and vigorously protested against the law allowing non-Muslim males and females to participate in elections to local assemblies. This resulted in building an alliance of religious scholars that would stand for the fundamental rights.
In 1963 he confronted the Shah, who was trying to propagate reforms in economic and socio-political life if Iran. These efforts by Shah were designated as “White Revolution”. The White Revolution was a deceiving program constituted on six points. The real aim was to restrain the growing clerical influence against Shah in Iran. Imam Khomeini made public a strong and hard declaration in which he denounced the Shah and his Western agenda. He accused the Shah of violating the constitution, spreading morally corrupt objectives and compliance with USA and Israel. The Shah successfully got the clauses of this revolution approved through a fake referendum on January 26, 1963. The measures taken under the flag of White Revolution were largely perceived by the Iranian society as a dictation by United States. The goal was to augment Shah’s wealth and power and sustenance of US dominance. Imam Khomeini denounced the revolution and exposed the aims and objectives underlying it. He preached lectures from Fayziya Madrasa that had impact in the whole nation.
On March 22, 1963 the Shah sent paratroopers who attacked Fayziya Madrasa resulting in the death of numerous students and rummage of madrasa. It didn’t intimidate Imam Khomeini much. Instead it ignited an unprecedented struggle directed against the blunders and wrongdoings of the regime. The attack was perceived as a symbolic action showing the hostile attitude of the regime towards Islam and the ruthless expression towards Islamic institutions.
After all these actions Imam Khomeini came out stronger. He kept denouncing the Shah and his regime. He cursed the Shah for his authoritarian nature. He called him a puppet of United States and criticized his growing association with Israel. On June 3, 1963 the afternoon of Ashoura (10th day of Muharram according to the Muslim calendar) he denounced the Shah by calling him a “wretched miserable man” and warned him to alter his ways otherwise people will celebrate the day he departs from Iran. He was arrested because of that speech on June 5, 1963. This led to major protests for three days throughout Iran. There was disgust among the public against the regime and a shocking uprising took place. In Qom, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tehran and many other cities well equipped army of Shah trained by United States was confronted by defenseless demonstrators. It is estimated that some 15,000 pro-Khomeini protesters were killed by the Shah’s forces in these protests. This uprising acted as a fulcrum in the struggle against the regime. Imam Khomeini became a national leader. He became an aspiration to the whole nation to stand against the Shah and the foreign supporters backing up Shah. He provided a rational and logical Islamic ideology. He introduced a political road map guided by religious leadership rather than by the secular parties.
The uprising was curbed but the mass public and religious scholars could not endure the detention of Imam Khomeini. Demonstration continued all over the country and several religious personalities pressed on Tehran for his release. On April 6, 1964 the government released him, issuing a statement that he has contracted to abstain from any activity of political nature as a condition for his liberation. This was later refuted by him. He carried on his condemnation of the Shah and his regime with more vitality.
In October 1964, the Shah proved his submission to the US by granting legal immunity to the US personnel. This gave the US personnel the right to commit all offenses in the Iranian boundaries. It was evident now that the Shah was a puppet at the hands of United States. The Iranian Majlis approved this measure. On the very next day i.e. October 27, Imam Khomeini wrathfully denounced this and called it an outright attack on the independence and sovereignty of Iran. Imam Khomeini was now becoming a serious nuisance for the Shah and his foreign supporters. All efforts to intimidate Imam Khomeini into silence proved futile. Hence an attempt to destroy his strengthening influence was made by sending him to exile. Therefore, on November 4, 1964 Imam Khomeini was arrested and exiled to Turkey. He stayed in Ankara for a while and than moved to Bursa. The Shah’s regime was pressurized to allow Imam Khomeini to a better place than Turkey. The permission was given on October 1965 and Imam Khomeini moved to Najaf, considered by the Shi’i sect as a shrine city in Iraq. He took residence in Najaf for the next thirteen years.
On the other side, the Shah’s regime set itself free from the pressure they were previously bearing and thought that the religious establishment of Najaf will overshadow Imam Khomeini. But they were wrong. Not only did Imam Khomeini created himself as a sound presence in Najaf but also kept maintaining his popularity and influence in Iran. His public statements concerning Iranian development were smuggled and circulated in the country. He addressed the Muslim world and his messages were distributed in Mecca several times. He was visited by prominent Iranian and Muslim religious figures from time to time during his years in exile.
He was never forgotten by the people of Iran. His name and his cause lived in the Iranian people. He was an inspiration for numerous religious groups and scholars who carried on building the foundations previously laid by Imam Khomeini. Unaware by many foreign onlookers, an Islamic association of immense span and insight was formed. It was understood that Imam Khomeini would come up as a leader and guide the Islamic Revolution taking place in 1978-1979. Though he was physically absent but he lived in the hearts of the Iranian people and was an aspiration to them.
On November 23, 1977 a tragic thing happened. Hajj Mustafa, Khomeini’s elder son, died unexpectedly in Najaf. He was assassinated by SAVAR, a US-instituted security police of the Shah. Imam Khomeini faced this grief patiently. This tragedy provoked the Iranian public. People became rebellious and this rebel turned into a revolution.
On January 8, 1978 a government statement came labeling Imam Khomeini as an agent working for foreign powers. This invited a public outrage. Protests broke out in Qom which resulted in a large number of casualties. These series of protests combined the whole country in the revolutionary passion and continued till the summer of 1978. Imam Khomeini kept encouraging the steadfastness of the people and boosted them to attain their goal i.e. the demise of monarchy building of an Islamic state.
The Shah’s regime made another attempt to bring down the revolution by requesting the Baathist government of Iraq to expel Imam Khomeini from their country. The Shah thought this would destroy his base of operation and the revolution will lose its leadership. Imam Khomeini was never satisfied with the governments that have been ruling Iraq. He considered Syria and Algeria as a good option but no Muslim country welcomed him to stay and carry on his political activity. In October 1978, Imam Khomeini went to France and took residence at Nauphle-le-Chateau, which is situated near Paris. The residence in France proved to be very beneficial for Imam Khomeini. The communication became easier, international media also jumped in and he was able to address to a global audience.
In December 1978, the month of Muharram also came. Demonstrations on a large scale took place in Tehran and other major cities aiming to overthrow the monarchy and replacing it with an Islamic state under Imam Khomeini. The Shah touched the extremes of brutality. The streets were flowing with the blood of thousands of slaughtered demonstrators, the people held in jails were tortured and abused, and the wounded were massacred in the hospitals by the Shah’s forces. United States, Israel and many foreign states supported this. It seemed like a holocaust but this time done by the Jews.
Despite the unflinching US support the corrupt and homicidal rule of the Shah was taking its last breathes. A substitute administration was made under Shahpur Bakhtiar and finally, the Shah left Iran for good on January 16, 1979.
The public come out on the streets full of joy and happiness. People celebrated their victory. On February 1, 1979 Imam Khomeini returned to Iran and was welcomed by millions of Iranians at the airport. Throughout the revolution Imam Khomeini showed characteristics of high values; Spirituality, self discipline determination, leadership, compassion, asceticism, erudition, sobriety, political ingenuity and hatred of imperialism. He was undoubtedly the teacher and director of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
In his lectures that were given in Najaf between January 21 and February 8, 1970, which were later combined under the title of Islamic Government (Hukumat-i-Islami) three key points come to surface.
The need for founding Islamic socio-political institutions
Obligation of religious personalities (the fuqaha)to construct and Islamic republic
Islamic republic that takes self reform measures
Imam Khomeini said in his lectures that a society cannot be reformed alone on an organization of laws. It is important that a power and an executor are present to ensure the law. That is why Allah Almighty not only provided an ordinance of law (shari’a) but also gave a structure of government well supported by administrative and executive institutions. The last Messenger of Allah is a practical example of such a government. He executed the institutions in the Muslim society. The Prophet established the ordinance of law in Islam. This duty was later carried by the successors of the Prophet. It was the need that someone continues executing the laws and establishing the Islamic institutions in the society. It is very important that there is some executor of the social institutions and the law. Legislation if alone couldn’t do much good for the well being of humans.
The executor, known as, vali amr, is responsible for implementation of the law and the court’s verdict. He said that the life of prophet is in itself a practical example of establishing an Islamic State. He said that the Prophet laid foundations of a government, implemented laws, established Islamic ordinances, and administered the society. He appointed governors, judges and also worked as a judge himself. He sent diplomats to different states, chiefs and kings, completed pacts and treatise, commanded the army in battles. In a nutshell, he performed all the functions required in a government. He appointed his successor himself. This showed the necessity of a stable working government even after Prophet Muhammad departs from the world. Imam Khomeini said that the ratification of Islamic law was not limited to the times of Prophet. The Islamic ordinances are permanent and hold practical value till the end of times. The Islamic system of government is not restricted to the old times. The taxation system, economic system, social system laid down by Islam holds its relevance till the end. A fully functioning government together with its administrative and executives bodies is compulsory. If the political system is repugnant to the Islamic teachings than such a system would result in tyranny, corruption, moral drain, anarchy and chaos.
Imam Khomeini questioned the putting aside of Islamic laws to promote anarchy. He questioned the calling of Islamic Laws as old and impractical. Allah has not limited the legitimacy of his of the laws He sent to earth. Imam Khomeini hardly denounced those who believe that Islamic laws don’t hold their validity anymore. Imam Khomeini criticized the western taxation system. He supported the Islamic system of through kharaj, zakat, khums and jizya. He said that those who do not support the Islamic system challenge the legitimacy and universality of Islam and the faith. Government was always considered a necessity during the time of Prophet and afterwards. Governments were made during the reign of Caliphs.
Shari’a provides us with sufficient proof regarding the need of a government in all times. Shari’a is the embodiment of diverse laws covering all aspects of a society. The laws in this system are a complete guidance of to meeting the needs of all humans, dealing the neighbors, other citizens, races, relatives, children, marital and personal life, laws regarding peace and war, foreign policy, diplomatic relations with other nations, laws related to trade, agriculture, commercialization. It gives guidance about the constitution of marriage institution, the right procedure to contract it, the fostering of child in the womb, the responsibilities of the parents during the time the infant is nourishing and growing, the interaction of husband, wife, and the children. Islam offers a complete code of conduct for the humanity. It ensures virtue, morals and healthy economic and social relations.
The ordinances and laws needed by man are all present in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. These laws will help in attaining happiness and making the state perfect. Imam Khomeini swore that the Quran has everything that a man needs. It is not possible to execute Allah’s order without the formation of proper executive and administrative organs that would strengthen the establishing of a government. Imam Khomeini mentions some provisions to substantiate his argument.
The taxation system introduced by Islam is not meant to feed the poor and needy only. They also build bases for establishing a grand government and bear the essential expenses for it. The example could be given of khums, which is a type of tax, and acts as a source of revenue for the treasury. It is believed that khums is levied on all natural resources, commercial and agriculture profits in an equal manner. It applied to everyone on equal terms as they have to pay one-fifth on their income that is surplus. This large income will serve the function of administering the Islamic republic and fulfilling its financial requirements. If this one fifth portion of the surplus income of Muslims is calculated, it will become evident that the imposing of such a tax is not for the reason of feeding the poor and hungry but for a larger cause i.e. fulfilling the financial requirements of the government institutions and its important bodies. Imam Khomeini emphasized on establishing a government based on the Islamic taxation system which comprised of khums, jizya, zakat and kharaj. He said that the large budget provided by the income from khums, was for the reason of establishing a government that administered the Islamic domain. It was formed to fulfill the needs of people by providing the public with services related to health, defense, educational and economic welfare. Furthermore, Islam laid down principles for the compilation, safeguarding and disbursement of the income from khums. Any illegal take over or embezzlement of this income is strictly forbidden. The head of state and government members do not practice any privilege over a common inhabitant when it comes to public wealth and income.
Another type of tax is jizya, has been made compulsory for ahl adh-dhimma, and kharaj is imposed on land that is of agricultural value. These two sources also add considerable amount of revenue. The forming of these taxes proves that it is necessary that a government and a ruler exist. It is the responsibility of the governor or ruler that taxes is imposed correctly on ahl adh-dhimma according to their financial ability and income. The ruler should also fix proper taxes on their livestock and agricultural land. Kharaj tax is also imposed on the land that is in the ownership of the Islamic republic. In order to implement these taxes laws should be established, institutions should be built, and administrative bodies should be working. Otherwise it would be impossible for such taxes to be carried out. The in charge of the state is responsible for carrying out these taxes honestly and aiming them for the larger good of the public.
The rules relating the safeguard of the Islamic defense and order of the territory and the freedom of Islamic nation also calls for the establishment of a government. It is said in the Quran:
“Prepare against them, whatever force you can muster and horses tethered” (Quran 8:60)
This shows that a well equipped defensive Muslim force should always be ready and vigilant. It should be alert even during peace. Imam Khomeini said that if Muslims had acted on this verse a strong government would have been formed and preparations of a war would have been made beforehand. A small bunch of Jews would not have even thought to take over our lands and destroyed Masjid al-Aqsa. If the Muslims had fulfilled their responsibility of carrying out God’s orders and laws, and established a respectable and righteous government than all this would not have taken place. If the leaders of Muslims are true representatives of God’s laws than they would overcome all their differences and unite together as one. A bunch of Jews couldn’t harm us then, even if they get all their support from US and other foreign countries. As it is said in the Quran, “Prepare against them, whatever force you can muster” this means that we should be well-prepared and strong and ever-ready against the oppression that the enemies will try to cause us. Unfortunately we are licking in preparedness, strength and unity and that’s why we are suffering at the hands of foreign evils.
There are a number of conditions of the law that are not possible to be imposed unless a government is established. The example could be given of blood money, which is used to support the deserving and physical penalties laid down by the law, which have to be supervised by the ruler of the Islamic state. These laws and ordinances remind us the necessity if a government and strong institutions that have the power which makes them capable to perform these functions in the best way.
After the death of Prophet the Umayyads went against Ali ibn Abi Talib and started to cause instability in the Islamic state. They moved away from the formation of a government that has been ordered by God Almighty. They changed the basis of the entire government. The policies they introduced were in contradiction to Islamic laws and ordinances. The Abbasids and Umayyads pursued anit-Islamic administrative and political policies and established a government that was against God’s teachings. The government they established later on converted into a complete monarchy. Their government was just like the governments of Roman emperors, Egyptian pharaohs and Iranian kings. Imam Khomeini called them non-Islamic governments that have been carried on to the future.
Both the law and logic tell us that such anti-Islamic and non-Islamic governments should not be permitted. The reasons are very clear. In a non-Islamic form of government the orders of Islamic politics couldn’t be implemented. Imam Khomeini said that the non-Islamic forms of government are the system made by the infidels (kafir). It is the obligation of every Muslim to eradicate all the traces of such a system from their society and perish them. It is our responsibility to create a social atmosphere that ensures the education of individuals who have faith and virtue. But such an atmosphere is in total contradiction with the rule of the infidels and their illegal power. Imam Khomeini said that the corruption is Iran is the result of the kafir mode of government. The corruption has to be swept and the culprits should be caught and hanged. He related this corruption to the corruption of the pharaohs in Egypt. It is not possible for a faith-practicing, God-fearing and just Muslim to survive in such a socio-political situation. The condition leaves the individuals with two choices. Either he submits to the will of kufr and betrays God or he refuses to commit the acts that the kufr commands and stands against him to destroy the corrupt system. Being true Muslims we have no choice but to destroy the form of government that is full of corruption, tyranny, treachery, oppression and crimes. This is the obligation of every Muslim of the world, a duty he must accomplish to ensure the political Islamic revolution.
The tyrannical and imperialist rulers have segregated the Islamic land. They have divided the Islamic umma into numerous segments and virtually created detached nations. The imperialists of Austria, Russia, Britain and others divided the great Ottoman Empire. This happened partly because of the incompetency and corruption of the rulers of the Ottoman. They took a wrong step y following the system of monarchy. The Ottoman Empire was a threat to the evil imperialists. They were afraid that righteous men will rise up and take control of the state and destroy the imperialism to its roots. Therefore after World War I the imperialists divided the Ottoman Empire into fifteen small states. The imperialists started controlling them with the help of their agents.
Imam Khomeini said that if we want to unite the Muslim umma, if we want liberate the Islamic land form the claws of imperialists, if we want to overthrow the puppet governments than it is crucial that formation of a government that is in accordance with the Islamic laws and ordinance takes place. The establishment of such a government will safeguard the disciplined Muslim unity. He quotes the address of Fatimat az-Zahra:
“The Imamate exists for the sake of preserving order among the Muslims and replacing disunity with unity”
Imam Khomeini revealed the evil deeds of the imperialists by saying that the imperialists have appointed their political agents in the countries. They have imposed an economic system full of injustice. As result the people are divided into two distinct groups: oppressors and oppressed. The oppressed are deprived of the basic necessities of life while the oppressors enjoy the all the wealth through corruption and tyranny. The hungry oppressed people have tried to cut loose their chains from the cruelty of the overlords and their struggle has been going on till today. But the ruling class and imperialist government structures have hindered their way. It is our responsibility to rescue the deprived and oppressed. We should confront the oppressor.
Imam Khomeini said that it is an obligation for Islamic scholars to thrive against the oppressors and let the not succeed in establishing a monopoly on the wealth resources. The Islamic scholars should fight for the masses and to save them from hunger and deprivation and stand against the oppressors usurping the wealth of the people. He quotes the following saying:
“I swear by Him Who causes the seed to open and create the souls of all living things that were it not for the presence of those who have come to swear allegiance to me, were it not for the obligation of the ruler-ship now imposed upon me by the availability of aid and support, and were it not for the pledge that God has taken form the scholars of Islam not to remain silent in the face of gluttony and plundering of the oppressors, on the one hand, and the harrowing hunger and deprivation of the of the oppressed on the other hand – were it not for all of this, then I would abandon the reins of government and in no way seek it. You would see that this world of yours, with all of its position and rank, is less in my eyes than the moisture that comes from the sneeze of a goat.”
Imam Khomeini said that it is not the time to sit silent. The time has come to rise against the traitors, puppets of foreign imperialists, and tyrants who have the blood and sweat, wealth and income of the Muslims nationwide. They have snatched the prosperity from the Muslims. It is the responsibility of the scholars of Islam and all the Muslims to destroy this system that has enslaved us. We will overthrow the anti-Islamic governments to bring welfare to millions of Muslims by the formation of a government on the foundations of Islam.
Imam Khomeini said that the rules and regulations laid down by Islam prevent the exploitation of the weak by the oppressors. If the anti-Islamic form of government prevails than the Islamic land will fall in the hands of the foreign imperialist powers. The people who rule Iran are useless. They are corrupt, tyrannical and incompetent. Therefore a revolution is necessary. An Islamic revolution is the only way to end this system of kufr.
Imam Khomeini successfully preached these ideas in the nation of Iran and led to the Islamic revolution that resulted in breaking the chains of imperialist United States and Israel. The country fled into the streets to support his ideology, the righteous, faithful and Islamic ideology.
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