Political thought and legacy of Khomeini

Political thought and legacy of Khomeini

The Political thought and legacy of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Mustafavi Khomeini refers to the impact of the religious and political ideas of that leader of the Iranian Revolution, one of the major revolutions of the 20th century. Under his leadership, Iran replaced its millennia-old monarchy with theocracy, currently the only such ruling system in the world. Khomeini brought about a major paradigm shift in Shia religion, declaring Islamic jurists the true holders of political, not just religious, authority; who are owed obedience as "an expression of obedience to God," [Khomeini, "Islam and Revolution" (1981), p.91] and whose rule has "precedence over all secondary ordinances [in Islam] such as prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage." Hamid Algar, `Development of the Concept of velayat-i faqih since the Islamic Revolution in Iran,` paper presented at London Conference on wilayat al-faqih, in June, 1988] [p.135-8] . Also "Ressalat", Tehran, 7 January 1988, online http://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html#Laws_in_Islam ]

Outside of Iran, Khomeini's influence has been less in the Muslim world, though it has been felt among the large Shia populations of Iraq and Lebanon. In the non-Muslim world, Khomeini had a great impact on the West and even Western popular culture where it is said he became "the virtual face of Islam" who "inculcated fear and distrust towards Islam."Nasr, Vali "The Shia Revival", Norton, 2006, p.138]


The Theology of Ayatollah Khomeini -- Shi'a (Twelvers) Islam -- holds that Caliphate or Islamic leadership belongs to divinely-appointed line of Shia Imams descended from the Prophet, the last of which is the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. The God-given (Infallible) knowledge and sense of justice of the Imams makes them the definitive reference for Muslims in every aspect of life, religious or otherwise, including governance. However the twelfth Imam has been in "occultation" ("ghaybat") since A.D. 939 and so is not present to rule over the Muslim community.

Historically, Shia scholars/religious leaders accepted the idea of a sultan, king, or shah managing secular affairs, defending Muslim territory and Shia Muslims in the absence of the Imam, but no consensus emerged among Shia scholars as to how Muslims should relate to that sultan or king. Shia jurists have tended to stick to one of three approaches to the state: cooperating with it, becoming active in politics to influence its policies, or most commonly, remaining aloof from it. [Moojan Momen, "An Introduction to Shi'i Islam" (1985), p. 193.]

Of these three, Khomeini opted for the second, believing Islam should encompass all aspects of life, especially the state. Precedents for this approach included the theory of "co-working with the just sultan" put forward by Sayyed Murtaza during the Buyid era in his work "Al-Resala Al-Amal Ma'a Sultan" about 1000 years ago, and his idea was developed further by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Clerical political influence was institutionalized during the Safavid Empire about 500 years ago. In modern times the Grand Ayatollah Mirza Shirazi intervened against Nasir al-Din Shah when that Qajar Shah gave a 50-year monopoly over the distribution and exportation of tobacco to a foreign non-Muslim. Shirazi issued the famous fatwa against the usage of tobacco as part of the Tobacco Protest.

Khomeini disapproved of the weak and pro-Western Qajar Shahs, and the western borrowings of the 1906 constitution, but most of all he detested the militant secular modernization of the Pahlavi Shahs.

Improvisational ability

Outside of his doctrinal beliefs, Khomeini has also been noted for being a "brilliant tactician," [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ZNpWhrg09C0C&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=brilliant+tactician+khomeini&source=web&ots=qw246RqW6q&sig=m5dLybsWL8gepBGkCTxNduLH5kk&hl=en The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West By Daniel Pipes] ] with a great "ability to improvise."

Khomeini once protested the shah's enfranchisement of women, and then encouraged women to participate in his revolution and vote for his government when he needed their numbers. He once promised that clerics would hold only temporary positions in government and then allowed them to hold the most senior positions. He pledged to continue the war against Iraq until its defeat and then abruptly made peace. He once said that the fact that "I have said something does not mean that I should be bound by my word." Indeed, it is that suppleness, that ability to improvise that has outlived Khomeini and that continues to pervade the Islamic Republic, keeping it going. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E0D9153EF934A1575BC0A9669C8B63&sec=&pagewanted=all nytimes.com, "The People's Shah" By ELAINE SCIOLINO, August 27, 2000] ]

Politics and economics


As to how jurists should influence governance, Ayatollah Khomeini's leadership, though always determined and confident, changed direction over time as his views on governance evolved. On who should rule and what should be the ultimate authority in governance:
*Khomeini originally accepted traditional Shia political theory, writing in "Kashf-e Asrar" that, "We do not say that government must be in the hands of" an Islamic jurist, "rather we say that government must be run in accordance with God's law ... " [1942 book/pamphlet "Kashf al-Asrar" quoted in "Islam and Revolution", p.170] suggesting a parliament of Shi'a jurists could chose a just king. ( امام خمينى، كشف الاسرار: ۱۸۷ - ص ۱۸۵) [ [http://www.sharghnewspaper.com/840312/html/spc13.htm#s237666] ]

*Later he told his followers that that "Islam proclaims monarchy and hereditary succession wrong and invalid." ["Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami" or Islamic Government, quoted in "Islam and Revolution" p.31] Only rule by a leading Islamic jurist (velayat-e faqih [1970 book "Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami" or Islamic Government, quoted in "Islam and Revolution"] ) would prevent "innovation" in "Sharia" or Islamic law and insure it was properly followed. The need for this governance of the faqih was "necessary and self-evident" to good Muslims.

*Once in power and recognizing the need for more flexibility, he finally insisted the ruling jurist need not be one of the most learned, that "Sharia" rule was subordinate to interests of Islam (Maslahat - `expedient interests` or `public welfare` [Abrahamian, Ervand, "A History of Modern Iran", Cambridge University Press, 2008, p.165] ), and the "divine government" as interpreted by the ruling jurists, who could overrule Sharia if necessary to serve those interests. The Islamic "government, which is a branch of the absolute governance of the Prophet of God, is among the primary ordinances of Islam, and has precedence over all secondary ordinances such as prayer (salat), fasting (sawm), and pilgrimage (hajj)."


Whether Khomeini's ideas are compatible with democracy and whether he intended the Islamic Republic to be a democratic republic is disputed. Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (a senior cleric and main theorist of Iranian ultraconservatives), Akbar Ganji (a pro-democracy activist and writer who is against Islamic Republic) and Abdolkarim Soroush (an Iranian philosopher in exile), all believe he did not, according to the state-run "Aftab News". [ [http://www.aftabnews.ir/vdcdzn0ytj05s.html Ganji, Sorush and Mesbah Yazdi] (Persian)] Other followers of Khomeini who believe he did support democracy and that the Islamic Repbulic is democratic include Ali Khamenei [ [http://www.parstech.org/detail.php?id=1313 The principles of Islamic republic from viewpoint of Imam Khomeini in the speeches of the leader] (Persian)] , Mohammad Khatami and Mortaza Motahhari [ [http://www.motahari.org/asaar/books/downlowd/32/book.zip About Islamic republic] (Persian)] [ [http://jis.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/18/1/14?ck=nck Ayatollah Khomeini and the Contemporary Debate on Freedom] ]

Although he believed in theocracy by jurists, Khomeini did not completely disavow "democracy", making statements at different times indicating both support and opposition to it. ["Democracy? I meant theocracy", by Dr. Jalal Matini, Translation & Introduction by Farhad Mafie, August 5, 2003, "The Iranian", http://www.iranian.com/Opinion/2003/August/Khomeini/ ] For example telling a huge crowd of Iranians a month after his return to Iran, "Do not use this term, `democratic.` That is the Western style,`" [1979 March 1, quoted in Bakhash, Shaul "The Reign of the Ayatollahs," p.72, 73)] One explanation for this contradiction is in different definitions of the term "democracy." According to scholar Shaul Bakhash, it's highly unlikely Khomeini defined the term to mean "a Western parliamentary democracy" when he told others he wanted Iran to be democratic. [He agreed during his meeting with Karin Samjabi in Paris in November 1978 that the future government of Iran would be `democratic and Islamic`. Bakhash, "The Reign of the Ayatollahs," (1984), p.73 ] Khomeini believed that the huge turnout of Iranians in anti-Shah demonstrations during the revolution meant that Iranians had already voted in a `referendum` for an Islamic republic, [Bakhash, "The Reign of the Ayatollahs" (1984), p.73 ] and that in Muslim countries Islam and Islamic law,

truly belong to the people. In contrast, in a republic or a constitutional monarchy, most of those claiming to be representatives of the majority of the people will approve anything they wish as law and then impose it on the entire population. [Khomeini, "Islam and Revolution," (1982), p.56]

In drawing up the constitution of his Islamic Republic, he and his supporters agreed to include Western-democratic elements, such as an elected parliament and president, but it is quite certain he believed Islamic elements, not Western-style elected parliaments and presidents, should prevail in government. [source: Yusef Sane'i, "Velayat-e Faqih", Tehran, 1364/1986, quoted in Moin, Baqer, "Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah", Thomas Dunne Books, c2000, p.226] After the ratifying of the Islamic constitution he told an interviewer that the constitution in no way contradicted democracy becaue the `people love the clergy, have faith in the clergy, and want to be guided by the clergy` and that it was right that Supreme Leader oversee the work of the non-clerical officials `to make sure they don't make mistakes or go against the law and the Quran.' [Fallaci, Oriana. "Interview with Khomeini", "New York Times", 7 October 1979.]

As the revolution was consolidated terms like "democracy" and "liberalism" - considered praiseworthy in the West - became words of criticism, while "revolution" and "revolutionary" were terms of praise. [Moin, "Khomeini", (2000), p.228]

Over the decades since the revolution Iran has not evolved towards a more liberal representative democratic system as some of its critics had predicted, nor has theocratic rule of Islamic jurists spread to other countries as its founder had hoped.

Human rights

Before taking power Khomeini expressed support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "We would like to act according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We would like to be free. We would like independence." ["Sahifeh Nour" (Vol.2, Page 242)] , However once in power Khomeini took a firm line against dissent, warning opponents of theocracy for example: "I repeat for the last time: abstain from holding meetings, from blathering, from publishing protests. Otherwise I will break your teeth." [in Qom, Iran, October 22, 1979, quoted in, "The Shah and the Ayatollah : Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution" by Fereydoun Hoveyda, Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2003, p.88] Khomeini believed Islamic government essential for Islam and thus what threatened the government threatened Islam itself.

Since God Almighty has commanded us to follow the Messenger and the holders of authority, our obeying them is actually an expression of obedience to God. Khomeini, "Islam and Revolution, (1981), p.91

Iran adopted an alternative human rights declaration, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, in 1990 (one year after Khomeini's death), which diverges in key respects from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, requiring law to be in accordance with Sharia,Mathewson Denny, Frederick. "Muslim Ethical Trajectories in the Contemporary World" in "Religious Ethics", William Schweiker, ed. Blackwell Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-631-21634-0, p.272] , does not grant complete equality with men for women, and forbids speech that violates the "dignity of Prophets", or "undermines moral and ethical values"


There is no major legacy in the field of economics left by Khomeini as he had no specific economic program aside from applying whatever provisions on trade, manufacturing, lending, employment, were found in Sharia law. Khomeini was known for his disinterest in worldy possessions. He famously expressed impatience with those who complained about the drop in the standard of living following the revolution saying: `I cannot believe that the purpose of all these sacrifices was to have less expensive melons,` [(Khomeini July 1979) [quoted in The "Government of God" p.111. "see the FBIS for typical broadcasts, especially GBIS-MEA-79-L30, July 5, 1979 v.5 n.130, reporting broadacasts of the National Voice of Iran.] and on another occasion dismissing economics as being "for donkeys." [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.134]

The general emphasis of Khomeini's revolutionary movement was, however, influenced by Islamic leftist and thinker Ali Shariati, and the leftist currents of the 1960s and 1970s. At the same time Khomeini's antipathy toward Marxism was such that `atheistic Marxists` were the one group he excluded from the broad coalition of anti-Shah groups he worked to rally behind his leadership. [Abrahamian "Iran Between Revolutions" (1982), p.479] Khomeini proclaimed Islam on the side of the mustazafin and against exploiters and imperialists. [Abrahamian "Iran Between Revolutions" (1982), p.534] In part for his reason a large section of Iran's economy was nationalized during the revolution. ["Law for the Protection and Expansion of Iranian Industry" July 5, 1979 nationalization measure reportedly nationalized most of the privately industry and many non-industrial businesses. Mackey, "Iranians," (1986) p.340]

The legacy here is found in Iran's large public sector and government work force, despite complaints by free marketers that "about 60% of the economy is directly controlled and centrally planned by the state and another 10%-20% is in the hands of five semi-governmental foundations, who control much of the non-oil economy and are accountable to no one except the supreme leader." ["The Economist", Jan 18, 2003 ]

Women in politics

Khomenini originally opposed allowing women to serve in parliament, likening it to prostitution.

We are against this prostitution. We object to such wrongdoings ... Is progress achieved by sending women to the majlis? Sending women to these centers is nothing but corruption. [Speech in Qom quoted in Esfandiari, "Iran: Women and Parliaments Under the Monarch and Islamic Republic" pp.1-24, quoted in "The Last Great Revolution" by Robin Wright c2000, p.151]
After the revolution this changed
In an Islamic order, women enjoy the same rights as men - rights to education, work, ownership, to vote in elections and to be voted in. Women are free, just like men to decide their own destinies and activities. ["Pithy Aphorism: Wise Sayings and Counsels" (by Khomeini), quoted in "The Last Great Revolution" by Robin Wright c2000, p.152]

Religious philosphy, fiqh, teachings


In "Fiqh", (Islamic jurisprudence) some scholars have argued Khomeini championed innovative reinterpretations of doctrine, prompted by the challenges of managing a state of 50 million plus.

*Use of "Maslahat," (`expedient interests` or `public welfare`). This was a common concept among Sunni, but "before the 1979 revolution most" Shi'ite jurists had "rejected maslahat as a dangerous innovation (Bid‘ah)." [ Brumberg, "Reinventing Khomeini" (2001), p.61]

*Wider use of "secondary ordinances". Clerics had traditionally argued that the government could issue these "when addressing a narrow range of contractual issues not directly addressed in the Qur'an." Khomeini called for their use to deal with the deadlock between the Majles and the Council of Guardians [`Khomeyni Addresses Majlis Deputies January 24` broadcast 24 January 1983, quoted in Brumberg, "Reinventing Khomeini" (2001), p.129]

*Ijtihad Sectstub|date=May 2008


"Esmat" or perfection through faith. Khomeini not only believed truly just and divine government need not wait for the return of the 12th Imam/madhi, he also believed the quality of "esmat," or "divinely bestowed freedom from error and sin" was not the exclusive property of the prophets and imams. "Esmat," was created by "nothing other than perfect faith" [Dabashi, "Theology of Discontent", p.463 quoting Khomeini, "Jehad-e Akbar" (Greater Jihad), pp.44] and could be achieved by a Muslim who reaches that state. Hamid Dabashi argues Khomeini's theory of Esmat from faith helped "to secure the all-important attribute of infallibility for himself as a member of the awlia' [friend of God] by eliminating the simultaneous theological and Imamological problems of violating the immanent expectation of the Mahdi." [(Dabashi, "Theology of Discontent", p.465] Thus Shia Muslims who were hesitant about granting the same ruling authority to Khomeini due the 12 Imams could be reassured that Khomeini shared with the Imams this infallibility or "Esmat".

The Prophets

Khomeini believed the Prophets have not yet achieve their "purpose". In November 1985 he told radio listeners "I should say that so far the purpose of the Prophets has seldom been realized. Very little." Aware of the controversial nature of the statement he warned more conservative clerics that "tomorrow court mullahs . . . [should] not say that Khomeini said that the Prophet is incapable of achieving his aims." [Brumberg, "Reinventing Khomeini" p.133]

Khomeini's authority and charismatic personality preventing less popular jurists from protesting these changes as unIslamic Bid‘ah.


Iran–Iraq War

Perhaps the most significant legacy of Khomeini internationally is a broader definition of martyrdom to include Istishhad, or "self-martyrdom". [Ruthven, Malise "A Fury For God", Granta, (2002), p.?] Khomeini believed martyrdom could come not only from "inadvertent" death but "deliberate" as well. While martyrdom has always been celebrated in Islam and martyrs promised a place in heaven, (Q3:169-171) the idea that opportunities for martyrdom were important has not always been so common. Khomeini not only praised the large numbers of young Shia Iranians who became "shahids" during the Iran–Iraq War but asserted the war was "God's hidden gift," [Moin, "Khomeini" (200)) p.249, 251] or what one scholar of Khomeini put it, "a vital outlet through which Iran's young martyrs experienced mystical transcendence." [Brumberg, "Reinventing Khomeini" p.123] Khomeini explained:

"If the great martyr (Imam Husayn ibn Ali) ... confined himself to praying ... the great tragedy of Kabala would not have come about ... Among the contemporary ulema, if the great Ayatollah ... Shirazi ... thought like these people [who do not fight for Islam] , a war would not have taken place in Iraq ... all those Muslims would not have been martyred." [`Ayatollah Khomeyni Message to Council of Experts,` broadcast 14 July 1983, FBIS-SAS-83-137, 15 July 1983; Brumberg, "Reinventing Khomeini"p.130]

Death might seem like a tragedy to some but in reality ...

If you have any tie or link binding you to this world in love, try to sever it. This world, despite all its apparent splendor and charm, is too worthless to be loved ["Islam and Revolution", p.357 ]

Khomeini never wavered from his faith in the war as God's will, and there are a number of stories of his impatience with those who tried to convince him to stop it. When the war seemed to become a stalemate with hundreds of thousands killed and civilian areas being attacked by missiles, Khomeini was approached by Ayatollah Mehdi Haeri Yazdi, a grand ayatollah and former student with family ties to Khomeini. He pleaded with Khomini to find a way to stop the killing saying, "it is not right for Musilms to kill Muslims." Khomeini answered reproachfully, asking him, "Do you also criticize God when he sends an earthquake?" [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.120] On another occasion a delegation of Muslim heads of state in Tehran to offer to mediate were kept waiting for two hours and given no translator when Khomeini finally did talk to them. [Niaz Naik, former Pakistan foeign secretary who accompanied General Zia on trip, in interview with Nasr in Lahore 1990. In Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, 2006, p.141]

Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq

While suicide martyrdom did not win the Iran–Iraq War for Iran, it did spread to Lebanon, where it won victories for Hezbollah, Shia allies of the Islamic Revolution there. Hebollah's bombings against U.S. and French peacekeeping troops killed over 600 and drove them from Lebanon. Another longer bombing campaign did likewise to the Israeli army. Khomeini is credited by some with inspiring Hezbollah "suicide bombers," such as the 1983 truck bomber of the Marine barracks in Beirut. [ [http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-kramer091901.shtml Comment September 19, 2001 8:20] ]

The power of shaheed operations as a military tactic has been described by Shia Lebanese as an equalizer where faith and piety are used to counter superior military power of the Western unbeliever:

You look at it with a Western mentality. You regard it as barbaric and unjustified. We, on the other hand, see it as another means of war, but one which is also harmonious with our religion and beliefs. Take for example, an Israeli warplane or, better still, the American and British air power in the Gulf War. .... The goal of their mission and the outcome of their deeds was to kill and damage enemy positions just like us ... The only difference is that they had at their disposal state-of-the-art and top-of-the-range means and weaponry to achieve their aims. We have the minimum basics ... We ... do not seek material rewards, but heavenly one in the hereafter. [Hassan, a Hezbollah fighter quoted in "Hezbollah : Born with a vengeance" by Hala Jaberp,92-93]

The victory of Hezbollah is known to have inspired Hamas in Palestine [Hamas Statement, "BBC Summary of World Broadcasts" (July 23, 2000)] , al-Qaeda in its worldwide bombing campaign. [`Bin Laden's Sermon for the Eid al-Adha`, Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch Series, n. 476 (March 5, 2003)] In the years after Khomeini's death, "Martyrdom operations" or "suicide bombing" have spread beyond Shia Islam and beyond attacks on military and are now a major force in the Muslim world. ["Devotion, desire drive youths to 'martyrdom' : Palestinians in pursuit of paradise turn their own bodies into weapons," "USA Today", June 26, 2001] According to one estimate 1,121 Muslim suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq alone. [ [http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/14/7682/ March 14, 2008 The Independent/UK "The Cult of the Suicide Bomber" by Robert Fisk ] "month-long investigation by The Independent, culling four Arabic-language newspapers, official Iraqi statistics, two Beirut news agencies and Western reports"]

Ironically and tragically, in the last few years, thousands of Muslims, particularly Shia, have been victims, not just initiators, of martyrdom operations, with many civilians and even mosques and shrines being targeted, particularly in Iraq. [According to Scott Atran, in just one year in one Muslim country alone - 2004 in Iraq - there were 400 suicide attacks and 2000 casualties. [http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/satran/files/twq06spring_atran.pdf The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism] p.131] Wahhabi extremist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi has quoted Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab urging his followers to kill Shi'a of Iraq. [Al Jazeera article: "Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia", Accessed Feb 7, 2007. [http://english.aljazeera.net/news/archive/archive?ArchiveId=14984 Link] ] In 2007 some of the Shia ulema have responded by declared suicide bombing haram:

"حتي كساني كه با انتحار مي‌‏آيند و مي‌‏زنند عده‌‏اي را مي‌‏كشند، آن هم به عنوان عمليات انتحاري، اينها در قعر جهنم هستند"
"Even those who kill people with suicide bombing, these shall meet the flames of hell." [Feb 2007 interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN: [http://www.roozonline.com/archives/2007/02/002139.php] ]

hia rituals

Khomeini showed little interest in the rituals of Shia Islam such as the Day of Ashura. Unlike earlier Iranian shahs or the Awadh's nawabs, he never presided over any Ashura observances, nor visited the enormously popular shrine of the eighth Imam in Mashad. Some observers have explained the discouraging of popular Shia piety and Shia traditions by Khomeini and his core supporters as a product of their belief that Islam was first and foremost about Islamic law,Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.135] and that the revolution itself was of "equal significance" to Battle of Karbala where the Imam Husayn was martyred.Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.136]

This legacy is reflected in the surprise sometimes shown by foreign Shia hosts in Pakistan and elsewhere when visiting Iranian officials, such as Fawzah Rafsanjani, show their disdain for Shia shrines. And perhaps also in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's May 2005 statement that "the Iranian revolution was of the same `essence` as Imam Husayn's movement."


While the Imam was sometimes flexible over doctrine, changing positions on divorce, music, birth control [ [http://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html ... Islam: the case of Iran] ] , he was much less accommodating with those he believed to be the enemies of Islam. Khomeini emphasized not only righteous militancy and rage but hatred,

And I am confident that the Iranian people, particularly our youth, will keep alive in their hearts anger and hatred for the criminal Soviet Union and the warmongering United States. This must be until the banner of Islam flies over every house in the world. [Wright, "In the Name of God" 1989, p.196]

Salman Rushdie's apology for his book was rejected by Khomeini who told Muslims "Even if Selman Rushdie repents and becomes the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell." [Moin, "Khomeini", (2000), p.284]

Khomeini felt let down by advisers whom he felt had persuaded him to make unwise decisions against his better judgment, appointing people to posts who he later denounced. "I swear to God that I was against appointing Medi Bazargan as the first prime minister, too, but I considered him to be a decent person. I also swear to God that I did not vote for Bani Sadr to become president either. On all these occasions I submitted to the advice of my friends." [letter to Montazeri March 1989. Moin "Khomeini", (2000), p.289, p.306-7 ] Before being revised in April 1989, [(Moin "Khomeini" (2000) p.293] the Iranian constitution called for the supreme leader to be a leading cleric (Marja), something Khomeini says he opposed "since from the very beginning." [A letter to the president of the Assembly for Revising the Constitution (by Ayatollah Meshkini), setting out his instructions for the future of the leadership" source: Tehran Radio, 4 June 1989, SWB, 6 June 1989] quoted in Moin p.308]

He also preached of Islam's essentially serious nature

Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. Islam does not allow swimming in the sea and is opposed to radio and television serials. Islam, however, allows marksmanship, horseback riding and competition ... [ [source: Meeting in Qom "Broadcast by radio Iran from Qom on 20 August 1979." quoted in Taheri, "The Spirit of Allah" (1985) p.259) ]

and the all-encompassing nature of Islam, and thus of its law and its government,

Islam and divine governments ... have commandments for everybody, everywhere, at any place, in any condition. If a person were to commit an immoral dirty deed right next to his house, Islamic governments have business with him. .... Islam has rules for every person, even before birth, before his marriage, until his marriages, pregnancy, birth, until upbringing of the child, the education of the adult, until puberty, youth, until old age, until death, into the grave, and beyond the grave. [(statement to his students in Najaf, 28 September 1977. Found in Khomeini, "Sahifeh-ye Nur", vol.I p.234-235) quoted in Dabashi, "Theology of Discontent," (1993), p.476-7]

Muslim and non-Muslim world

pread of Islam

Khomeini strongly supported the spread of Islam throughout the non-Muslim world.

We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry `There is no God but God` resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle. [ [11 February 1979 (according to Dilip Hiro in "The Longest War" p.32) p.108 from "Excerpts from Speeches and Messages of Imam Khomeini on the Unity of the Muslims".]

Not just as a faith but as a state.

Establishing the Islamic state world-wide belong to the great goals of the revolution.` ["Resalat", 25.3.1988) (quoted in "The Constitution of Iran" by Asghar Schirazi, Tauris, 1997, p.69)]

Which he believed would replace both capitalism and communism

... `We have often proclaimed this truth in our domestic and foreign policy, namely that we have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam and the suppresson of the rule of the world conquerors ... We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, capitalism and Communism to wither throughout the world. We wish, as does God almighty, to destroy the systems which are based on these three foundations, and to promote the Islamic order of the Prophet ... in the world of arrogance.` ["Bayan", No.4 (1990), p.8]

Unity of the Ummah

Khomeini made efforts to establish unity among Ummah. "During the early days of the Revolution, Khomeini endeavored to bridge the gap between Shiites and Sunnis by forbidding criticizing the Caliphs who preceded Ali — an issue that causes much animosity between the two sects. Also, he declared it permissible for Shiites to pray behind Sunni imams." [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1175008835987&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout#9 Islamonline. Frequently Asked Questions on Iran ] ]

Shortly before he died the famous South Asian Islamist Abul Ala Maududi paid Khomeini the complement of saying he wished he had accomplished what Khomeini had, and that he would have like to have been able to visit Iran to see the revolution for himself. [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.138]

He supported "Unity Week" [Ansari, Hamid, "The Narrative of Awakening", The Institute for the Compilation and Publication of the works of the Imam Khomeini, (date?), p.253] and "International Day of Quds." ["Palestine from the viewpoint of the Imam Khomeini", The Institute for the Compilation and Publication of the works of the Imam Khomeini, (date?), p.137]

This pan-Islamism did not extend to the Wahhabi regime of Saudi Arabia. Under his leadership the Iranian government cut relation with Saudi Arabia. Khomeini declared that Iran may one day start good diplomatic relation with the US or Iraq but never with Saudi Arabia. Iran did not re-establish diplomatic relation with Saudi Arabia until March 1991, after Khomeini's death. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=nyyR7j6vcc8C&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=saudi+arabia+iran+%22re+establish+diplomatic%22&source=web&ots=bHq_UaAO-L&sig=iVecqVLUf1v-5gBot0cqHrjUUzg&hl=en Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami By Christin Marschall] ]

hia revival

The Iranian revolution "awakened" Shia around the world, who outside of Iran were subordinate to Sunnis. Shia "became bolder in their demands of rights and representations," and in some instances Khoemini supported them. In Pakistan, he is reported to have told Pakistan military ruler Zia ul-Haq that he would do to al-Haq "what he had done to the Shah" if al-Haq mistreated Shia. [Interview by Vali Nasr with former Pakistani foreign minister Aghan Shahi, Lahore, 1989. from Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.138] When tens of thousands of Shia protested for exemption from Islamic taxes based on Sunni law, al-Haq conceded to their demands. [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.138-9]

Shia Islamist groups that sprang up during the 1980s, often "receiving financial and political support from Tehran" include the Amal Movement of Musa al-Sadr and later the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, Islamic Dawa Party in Iraq, Hizb-e Wahdat in Afghanistan, Tahrik-e Jafaria in Pakistan, al-Wifaq in Bahrain, and the Saudi Hezbollah and al-Haraka al-Islahiya al-Islamiya in Saudi Arabia. Shia were involved in the 1979-80 riots and demonstrations in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia, the 1981 Bahraini coup d'état attempt and the 1983 Kuwait bombings. [Nasr, Vali, "The Shia Revival", Norton, (2006), p.139]

Neither East nor West

Khomeini strongly opposed alliances with, or imitation of Eastern (Communist) and Western Bloc (Capitalist) nations.

... in our domestic and foreign policy, ... we have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam ... We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, capitalism and Communism to wither throughout the world. We wish, as does God almighty, to destroy the systems which are based on these three foundations, and to promote the Islamic order of the Prophet ... ["Bayan", No.4 (1990), p.8)]

In the "Last Message, The Political and Divine Will of His Holiness the Imam Khomeini", there are no less than 21 warnings on the dangers of what the west or east, or of pro-western or pro-eastern agents are either doing, have done or will do to Islam and the rest of the world. [ [http://www.irna.com/occasion/ertehal/english/will/lmnew8.htm The Political and Divine Will of His Holiness the Imam Khomeini] ]

In particular he loathed the United States

... the foremost enemy of Islam ... a terrorist state by nature that has set fire to everything everywhere ... oppression of Muslim nations is the work of the USA ... [http://server32.irna.com/occasion/ertehal/english/will/lmnew1.htm The Prologue to the Imam Khomeini's Last Will and Testament ] ]
and its ally Israel
the international Zionism does not stop short of any crime to achieve its base and greedy desires, crimes that the tongue and pen are ashamed to utter or write.

Khomeini believed that Iran should strive towards self-reliance. Rather siding with one or the other of the world's two blocks (at the time of the revolution), he favored the allying of Muslim states with each other, or rather their union in one state. In his book he hinted governments would soon fall into line if an Islamic government was established.

If the form of government willed by Islam were to come into being, none of the governments now existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate. [Khomeini, "Islam and Revolution" (1981), p.122]

In the West

While the Eastern or Soviet block no longer exists, Khomeini's legacy lives on in the Western world. From the beginning of the Iranian revolution to the time of his death Khomeini's "glowering visage became the virtual face of Islam in Western popular culture" and "inculcated fear and distrust towards Islam." His fatwa calling for the death of secular Musilm author Salmon Rushdie in particular was seen by some as a deft attempt to create a wedge issue that would prevent Musilms from imitating the West by "dividing Muslims from Westerners along the default lines of culture." [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ZNpWhrg09C0C&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=brilliant+tactician+khomeini&source=web&ots=qw246RqW6q&sig=m5dLybsWL8gepBGkCTxNduLH5kk&hl=en Pipes, Daniel, "The Rushdie Affair"] , (1990) p.133] The fatwa was greeted with headlines such as one in the popular British newspaper the "Daily Mirror" referring to Khomeini as "that Mad Mullah", [February 15, 1989] observations in a British magazine that the Ayatollah seemed "a familiar ghost from the past - one of those villainous Muslim clerics, a Faqir of Ipi or a mad Mullah, who used to be portrayed, larger than life, in popular histories of the British Empire," [Anthony Harly, "Saving Mr. Rushdie?" "Encounter", June 1989, p. 74] and laments that Khomeini fed the Western stereotype of "the backward, cruel, rigid Muslim, burning books and threatening to kill the blasphemer." [Marzorati, Gerald, "Salman Rushdie: Fiction's Embattled Infidel," "The New York Times Magazine", January 29, 1989, quoted in Pipes, "The Rushdie Affair", (1990)]

This was particularly the case in the largest nation of the Western bloc - the United States - where Khomeini and the Islamic Republic are remembered for the American embassy hostage taking and accused of sponsoring hostage-taking and terrorist attacks - especially using the Lebanese Shi'a Islamic group Hezbollah [wright, "Sacred Rage", (2001), p.28, 33, ] [for example the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing see:"Hizb'allah in Lebanon : The Politics of the Western Hostage Crisis" Magnus Ranstorp, Department of International Relations University of St. Andrews St. Martins Press, New York, 1997, p.54, 117] - and which continues to apply economic sanctions against Iran.


*"Wilayat al-Faqih"
*" [http://www.al-islam.org/fortyhadith/ Forty Hadith] " (Forty Traditions)
*" [http://www.al-islam.org/adab/ Adab as Salat] " (The Disciplines of Prayers)
*" [http://al-islam.org/al-tawhid/default.asp?url=greater_jihad.htm Jihade Akbar] " (The Greater Struggle)

ee also

*Islamic scholars
*Politics of Iran
*Mahmoud Taleghani
*Hossein-Ali Montazeri


Works cited


* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0823944654&id=4Qt-zJ7V0v8C&dq=intitle:%22khomeini%22 Willett, Edward C. ;"Ayatollah Khomeini, 2004, Publisher:The Rosen Publishing Group, ISBN 0823944654]
*cite book |author=Bakhash, Shaul|title=The Reign of the Ayatollahs : Iran and the Islamic Revolution |publisher=Basic Books |location=New York | year=1984
*cite book |author=Brumberg, Daniel |title=Reinventing Khomeini : The Struggle for Reform in Iran |publisher=University of Chicago Press|location=Chicago | year=2001
*cite book |author=Harney, Desmond|title=The priest and the king : an eyewitness account of the Iranian revolution |publisher=I.B. Tauris|year=1998
*cite book |author=Khomeini, Ruhollah |editor=Algar, Hamid (translator and editor) |title=Islam and Revolution : Writing and Declarations of Imam Khomeini |publisher=Mizan Press |location=Berkeley | year=1981
*cite book |author=Khomeini, Ruhollah |title=Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini : political, philosophical, social, and religious |publisher=Bantam | year=1980
*cite book |author=Mackey, Sandra |title=The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation |publisher=Dutton |year=1996|isbn=0525940057|
*cite book |author=Moin, Baqer |title=Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah
publisher=Thomas Dunne Books |location=New York | year=2000

*cite book |author=Schirazi, Asghar |title=The Constitution of Iran |publisher=Tauris |location=New York | year=1997
*cite book |author=Taheri, Amir|title=The Spirit of Allah |publisher=Adler & Adler|year=1985
*cite book |author=Wright, Robin|title=In the Name of God : The Khomeini Decade
publisher=Simon & Schuster |location=New York | year=1989

*cite book |author=Wright, Robin|title=The Last Revolution
publisher=Knopf |location=New York | year=2000

* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0802224652&id=XgoNAAAAIAAJ&dq=intitle:%22khomeini%22&q=intitle:%22khomeini%22&pgis=1 Lee, James; "The Final Word!: An American Refutes the Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini", 1984, Publisher:Philosophical Library, ISBN 0802224652]
* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1412805163&id=sTFdNNQP4ewC&vq=Theologian&dq=intitle:%22Islamic+revolution%22 Dabashi, Hamid; "Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of the Islamic Revolution in Iran", 2006, Publisher:Transaction Publishers, ISBN 1412805163]
* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0275978583&id=bxJgsRRtDsoC&dq=intitle:%22Islamic+revolution%22 Hoveyda,Fereydoun ; "The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution", 2003, Publisher:Praeger/Greenwood, ISBN 0275978583]

External links

Some books by and on Ayatollah Khomeini:
* [http://www.prophetofdoom.net/The_Little_Green_Book.Islam The Little Green Book - Sayings of Ayathollah Khomeini, Political, Philosophical, Social and Religious with a special introduction by Clive Irving]
* [http://www.wandea.org.pl/khomeini-pdf/hukumat-i-islami.pdf Sayyid Ruhollah al-Musavi al-Khomeini — Islamic Government (Hukumat-i Islami)]
* [http://www.wandea.org.pl/khomeini-pdf/ruhullah-musavi-khomeini.pdf Sayyid Ruhollah al-Musavi al-Khomeini — The Last Will...]
* [http://www.iranchamber.com/history/rkhomeini/books/women_position_khomeini.pdf Extracted from speeches of Ayatollah Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini]
* [http://ghadeer.org/english/imam/imam-books/imambooks.html Books by and or about Rouhollah Khomeini]
* [http://www.kayhannews.ir/851020/12.htm Famous letter of Ayatollah Khomeini to Gorbachyov, dated January 1, 1989] . Keyhan Daily.Pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini:
* [http://shiaimages.net/categories.php?cat_id=48 ShiaIMAGES.net > People > Ayatollah Khomeini] Critics of Ayatollah Khomeini:
* [http://www.homa.org/default.asp?TOCID=2083225445 Dr. Homa Darabi Foundation]
* [http://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html What Happens When Islamists Take Power? The Case of Iran]
* [http://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_works.html Ayatollah Khomeini's Gems of Islamism]
* [http://islamic-fundamentalism.info/chXV.htm Modern, Democratic Islam: Antithesis to Fundamentalism]
* [http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/8781 'America Can't Do A Thing']
* [http://www.nysun.com/article/38866 He Knew He Was Right] Biography of Ayatollah Khomeini
* [http://ghadeer.org/english/imam/bio-imam/index.html The Life and Works of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Great Leader of the Islamic Revolution]

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