The Islamic Revolution
The Islamic Revolution
The Islamic Revolution of Iran, in the words of its founder and architect, the late Imam Khomeini, was indeed, "[an immense] explosion of light." It was as though the darkness of the material world was momentarily lifted and the "Modern-Age Ignorance" was shaken to its foundations. It was also, in the words of Israel's prime minister at the time, an earthquake, which shook all forces of international oppression and Zionism and ruined many dreams. Thus, it is only expected that a revolution, with such widespread, fundamental, and lasting effects, have certain characteristics which, friends of this revolution would like to comprehend better in order to safeguard its cherished values, and its enemies are striving to understand better so that they can infiltrate into the ranks of its supporters, or cause deviation or schisms which would render it harmless to their interests.In order to better understand the Islamic Revolution and its many and varied characteristics, one must never forget that it is deeply rooted in Islam and Islamic values. However, two important factors were also involved in this revolution. One was the unique personality and leadership of our late Imam Khomeini, and the other, the selfless, faithful, and powerful support provided by the Iranian people throughout the revolution and since its victory. These aspects and qualities too are rooted in Islam and both rose in answer to its eternal call and sublime teachings.Because of its comprehensiveness and the power and ability to provide logical answers to peoples' many questions and needs through the centuries, possessing a viable and powerful system of governance with its deep spiritual heritage and guidance, Islam is the main characteristic and identity of the Islamic Revolution. And the forces of oppression are particularly the enemies of this pure, true Islam.With respect to the leadership of the Islamic Revolution, it was extremely well-led by the late Imam Khomeini, who was graced with very unique characteristics and strengths, which were also partly the result of a lifetime of living by divine laws and the religion the Almighty God revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Imam Khomeini became the very symbol and essence of religious rule and governance. People saw in him not only a leader, but the embodiment of all pure Islamic beliefs, teachings, and values and came to share his concept of [establishing] an Islamic government. Boundless faith, intelligence, and high values won him people's heart as no one had in many centuries of Iranian history. Imam Khomeini's words and gestures would move millions to epical sacrifices in defense of dignity, wisdom, and exigency [based high values of Islam].Thus was born out of the Islamic Revolution our Islamic Republic, which not only has survived over two decades of tumultuous and crisis-ridden years and ceaseless enmities, but has also endured the extreme hardships to mature and flourish as the beating heart and bastion of Islamic movements. In spite of the deep displeasure of all those who had preached that after 1400 years Islam was not able to offer a modern republic, based on the Islamic laws and teachings, the Islamic Republic put behind the heady years, stabilized, and proved in deed that Islam has still much to offer the faithful and world. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the middle years of the Islamic Republic had left the United States leaders with the delusion that an era of a unipolar world order has finally arrived. Therefore they were quite surprised when the Islamic Republic put up such vehement resistance and encouraged other countries to find courage to stand firm to US bullying and voice their opposition to its policy and illusion of a "Pax Americana."Therefore, a sinister and ceaseless campaign to crush the new Islamic Republic ensued. The United States leaders thought and suffered under the illusion that by putting extreme pressure on the newly born Islamic Republic of Iran, they could prevent the this call of Islam, to pure Islam, form echoing, and reverberating throughout the world of Islam; and thus, stunt its growth and bring it to its knees. Paradoxically, today we witness many liberation movements, especially in the Islamic world, which have been deeply influenced by our Islamic Revolution. 1 A revolution, which was founded on the determination and religious values of a people, and relying on these, it has been able, by the Grace of God, to withstand many, many dastardly deeds dreamed and carried out by the unholy alliance of the world oppressors and Zionists. The latter were specially troubled and shaken by the seemingly miraculous birth and survival of the new republic, and the horrid structure of International Zionism was also shaken to its foundations.
In the social sciences, the word revolution has an old meaning, which has evolved over time, as with many other words and phrases, and has gained varied new meanings. In dictionaries the word revolution is defined as: a sudden, radical, or complete change; a complete, rotation and return to the point of origin 2 ... In the Holy Quran, revolution is defined as a total upheaval turning everything upside down. 3 Likewise, from a sociological standpoint, any fundamental, deep change in a society and its social structures especially if it occurs suddenly and is accompanied by violence is called a revolution. 4 Also, in both political science and history of revolutions, the word is defined as fundamental changes in political system, administration, and symbols of power. 5 Political scientists have also offered their various definitions of revolution, of which we can mention two most frequently used by contemporary scholars: "successful or unsuccessful violent efforts to effect fundamental change in the basic structure of a society". 6 Crane Brinton defines it as the "sudden and violent replacement of the ruling establishment by a group which had hitherto been bereft of any political power." 7 Among Islamic scientists and philosophers, the late martyr Ayatollah Motahhari, calls revolution, "the rebellion or uprising of a region or country against the prevailing rule and rulers in order to establishthe desired order and system of governance." 8 As a general rule, revolutions succeed in a place and at a time when the society has been polarized into two opposing camps. In situations like this, most social groups leave the ruling establishment and join the opposition, leaving the society with the precarious situation of having two centers of power. The process usually begins with popular doubts about the political legitimacy and the right to power of the ruling establishment. Eventually, following a period of widespread disappointment of the people at their political system, social power begins to take shape and assert itself. At this juncture, conditions resemble efforts by the ruling establishment trying to suppress the varied social groups opposing its rule; a process, which undermines the ruling political system and its structures, rendering it unable to meet the people's minimum demands. As conditions deteriorate, gradually the ruling system loses the administrative control of the society, and almost concurrently, the opposition begins to gain increasing confidence and trust in its own abilities to effectively oppose and depose the ruling system and take its place. Very soon, the situation becomes unbearable because of the ever-widening chasm between the "political power" and the "social power". A clash of these two, at this stage looks inevitable. 9This is what social scientists mean when it is said that a society is in a revolutionary situation. What exacerbates the situation even further and aggravates the revolutionary conditions is a clash and antagonism between the set of values that ruling establishment follows with values cherished and believed in by the opposition social groups. A phenomenon which socialScientist, Wilbert Moore, describes as the "distance between a society's ideals and the prevailing realities and conditions." 10 In a way, one can liken the phenomenon of a revolution to molting; because revolutions are really the crystallization of the process of the collapse of dialogue and contact between the government and the governed in a political system. This process only becomes comprehensive and complete if it comprises the following two conditions, with one preceding the other and serving as a prelude:1- Total destruction of all prevailing political institutions;2- Establishment and formation of new social groups and political institutions. 11 Therefore, the above hypothetical "revolutionary conditions," initially is a process of destruction, in the sense that formerly loyal citizens of a political system begin to consider rebellion and uprising against the government their most natural right. Conditions such as these are usually accompanied by derision and lack of respect for the ruling system and proceed to become firm belief of the opposition that the status quo is simply senseless and useless; and they usually develop a firm, popular belief that an alternative situation must be actively pursued. Complex elements interact to bring about such revolutionary conditions, which can generally be divided into four categories. 12
These include all elements that make it easier to comprehend the existing situation and offer critiques in the cultural-intellectual areas. In other words, it includes the set of elements and factors, which together present a picture of an entirely undesirable and unbearable situation.At this stage, among various tools available to agitators working for change to engage the people better in their goals and aims, perhaps the best is one is "comparison," meaning, discussing, posing both to oneself as well as others and highlighting the following question: "where is our society as compared with others?"This critical question is usually followed by rather impressive and massive amount of people's mental efforts directed to find an answer to the inevitable big question of "why [things are the way they are]?" Gradually, in this way, critical views force their way into the public discussion and prosper quickly, since the number of the questioners thirsty for answers grows by day. Of course, inherent in a clever, big question like this in a critical pre-revolutionary situation, lies the stark contrast and contradiction between a society's demands and ideals, and the dark reality which the ruling establishment seems incapable and unable to change even in face of high popular demand for which the people inevitably blame the governing system and structure. All that is needed at this stage is the proverbial revolutionary spark to inflame a people to take steps to cause the overthrow or total collapse of the, now, ancien rgime.
These elements include those, which enable people to better comprehend and critique the existing conditions in their society. For instance, a gradual opening in the political atmosphere, or the common experience of a weak economy can cause, among other things, the majority of the people better understand the prevailing realities of their society.Also, increasing knowledge of conditions in other societies helped immensely by recent communications advances together with deeper and more widespread knowledge and understanding of a society's national identity by the people, and the weakness of forces protecting the ruling system, are among other factors which facilitate this process.
These are a set of elements that hasten and quicken the revolutionary process. For instance, unforgivable and irreparable mistakes of the rulers at times of crisis, a weak or unfaithful or undisciplined military, which is usually followed by some retreat by the ruling establishment, the inability of a weak or shattered economy to provide the basic, urgent and short-term needs of the people, and attempts at suppression and further oppression of the people which only serves to arouse their passions further, all contribute to a highly emotional, revolutionary atmosphere which is only conducive to even more insistence of the people for their rightful demands.Other catalysts include the collapse of the military forces after a defeat at foreign hands, rebellion and insubordination among military personnel, internal differences within the ruling elite, the collapse of economic and monetary infrastructures and systems, as well as psychological elements such as a belief in the inability of government forces to face or deflect opposition attacks. This particular belief might itself include a belief in supernatural help in the struggle, strengthening of the opposition morale by the belief that once revolutionary determination has become clear, foreign help will come to their aid, or the simple, solid belief that united masses are simply undefeatable, etc." 13
Here we can specifically name two important elements of "leadership" and ideology. The conformity of these two elements with popular demands leads the people to organize themselves in order to "destroy" the regime, and once this is accomplished, they enter the stage of "establishing" a new one. In this way all efforts for building new social, political, and economic structures are completed. The key to this complex process is coordination and congruence between the leadership, ideology, and the people, which together make possible a forward movement toward pre-determined common goals. Therefore, the leadership is not only the sponsor of the common ideology but an active practitioner of it. In addition, not only ideology is here akin to a set of written guidelines, but by accepting it and following the leadership they set foot on the path of pursuing their demands and ways to achieve them. In this way, the revolution's slogans are formed also, and in a way, the ideals and identity of the revolution are given voice by the revolutionaries.
The contributing factors of the Islamic Revolution must be sought in the nature of the defunct Pahlavi regime. In other words, one must carefully examine the characteristics of the regime preceding the Revolution and determine its status in the public's eye as well as reasons why people from most social groups found the prevailing conditions unbearable hence, causing revolutionary conditions to appear in Iran. A cursory look back at the contemporary Iranian history seems in order here. The last despotic king of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was the eldest son of Reza Pahlavi (Reza Shah), and was installed on the Peacock throne in 1941 during World War II, after his father had been summarily deposed by the British and the Soviets who were the occupying powers in Iran at the time. The people of Iran were not allowed a say in either the appointment of the new king, or the deposing of his father. Mohammad Reza was 22 years old at the time.The young Shah who lacked the initiative, insight, and the self-confidence necessary for his position began his reign by only reacting to some events. During this period, because of the tumultuous national atmosphere resulting from foreign occupation, a vacuum of power created after the removal of Reza Shah, the weakness of the army and security forces, a rather open political atmosphere, and the nationalization of the oil industry, Iranians were able to enjoy some degree of freedom in participating in national decisions and their fulfillment. The most important result of this socio-political climate appeared years later in 1950, with the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry. In reaction to this, the weak government of Mohammad Reza Shah, colluded with foreign governments who had lost their illegitimate rights and interests through nationalization in their plans for a coup d'etat. It was jointly carried out by the United States and Britain in 1953 and marked the revival of despotic Pahavli rule again. The foreign powers made sure that by strengthening the armed forces and security services accountable only to the shah, his rule would continue without serious challenge.Therefore, the genesis and foundations of the Pahlavi dynasty were totally bereft of Iranian people's vote or approval and the majority of people had no position or role in the important matter of governance. Thus, concepts such as public opinion, political culture, political participation, etc. which would speak of people's theoretical and practical participation in the political process as effective participants in the areas of power and politics were totally meaningless. Instead, the most meaningful words at the time were despotism and dictatorship. Unfortunately, dictatorship has had a long history in Iran and the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was its modern symbol and incarnation. Modern in the sense that some efforts were made by the Pahlavi dynasty to change the society in a superficial way and blindly copy some aspects of Western societies, especially the American society and its values. These efforts were totally devoid of any research, thought, and planning with respect to deep, elemental reasons a society can be transformed into an active, productive, and dynamic one.In additions to its dictatorial rule, the Pahlavi regime also had other characteristics which gradually became unbearable for the people of various social groups, and this, was also a contributing factor to the ensuing Islamic Revolution.One of these was the hereditary nature of the Pahlavi rule. Meaning, from the king down, all the important positions in government were awarded to the children of the super-rich, the courtiers, and the extended Pahlavi family, and the criteria of meritocracy, ability, and knowledge were the last things to be considered in top government appointments. Another distinct characteristic of the Pahlavi rule was, of course, that it was a personalized monarchy. In other words, the king never thought that elections had anything to do with how he ruled the country, and the people were mere subjects who could not object to any of his decisions, let alone be allowed a role in electing their leaders. The king thought himself the owner and ruler of all that existed in Iran and emphasizing the tired slogan, "king is the shadow of God on the earth," he tried to justify his absolute rule.Yet another undesirable characteristic of the Pahlavi rule was its demagogical nature. In the sense, that Mohammad Reza Shah's regime used the Parliament and political parties as tools at this service, instead of instruments of popular rule and elements of dynamic political interaction. Therefore, both the parliament and political parties were totally subservient to the shah, and were used for strengthening the dreaded police state he had created. In addition both also provided a facade of democracy for display to other countries. 14
Since the regime that Mohammad Reza Shah headed, and particularly the shah himself, saw no need to be accountable to the people and their needs and demands primarily because they were not elected by them and were dependent on foreigners for support and survival they never provided an atmosphere for creativity and initiative of the people to flourish. Furthermore, because of high oil revenues they did not see any reason to look for new, income-producing ways and means in the country. Their concept of management was limited to distribution a distributive system of management which was centered on the personal profit, whims, and wishes. 15 The next special characteristic of the regime was its consumerist system of management, in the sense that the government relied solely on oil revenues and seemingly separate from the efforts and wishes of the people and stressed "consumption" only. This sick system extended to other arena of the Iranian life. Our universities too, for instance, simply consumed what was fed them from other countries in their curricula. Since the shah himself was comfortable with copying others and taking orders from foreigners, and since the elite of the Iranian society were also consumerists in every sense of the word, it was not surprising that most Iranians followed this consumerism and even accepted it as a positive norm in their lives. 16
And yet another characteristic of the Pahlavi regime was its total dependence. As we know, dependence is different from healthy two-way trade, which all societies need and depend on. However, in total dependence, national ideals and identity were demeaned, and were instead, presented as the very reasons for underdevelopment or even backwardness, and foreign specially Western ideals and culture were actively and ceaselessly promoted and advertised.In the words of Amin Saikel the multi-dimensional American presence in Iran was followed by an ever-increasing social and cultural influence. This influence, in turn, strengthened dependence on the United States still further and caused Iran to become quite vulnerable. In the words of former U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger: the Shah was a rare kind of leader from our point of view he was an unconditional ally.Another telltale example of this total dependence is recalled in another episode recorded for history. One of the shah's top officials presented him with a new policy, which only concerned domestic Iranian matters. The shah's only answer to the official was: "But do you think the Americans will accept this policy?"And when former C.I.A. director Richard Helms was the United States ambassador to Iran, the shah decided to shut down various radio and television stations that American armed forces had established in Iran with his permission. When Helms objected, the shah is reported to have answered, "We must take delivery of them, but I promise you that there will not be the slightest change in the time and duration of the American broadcasts." 17 The forgoing are only few examples of the deep dependence of the shah on the West, and on the United States in particular.And yet another destructive characteristic of the Pahlavi regime was its militaristic nature. The regime of Mohammad Reza shah was militaristic from head to toe to the tip of its fingers and armed to the teeth as no other regime Iran had seen in centuries. Over-reliance on naked power as the means and basis of gaining and maintaining perceived legitimacy was a cherished and long-standing Pahlavi policy. 18 As we read in Abrahamian's "Iran Between two Revolutions": the shah always looked on the military as his main source of support and backing. He would constantly increase and enlarge his military establishment and personnel. Between 1971 and 1977 he spent the stupendous sum of 12 billion dollars to create a massive military arsenal of unprecedented proportions. He paid special attention to military officers, their training, promotions, salaries, and bonuses, and made a point of attending all military maneuvers."He personally oversaw all promotions of staff officers and liked to appear in most government functions and ceremonies in military uniform. Furthermore, he vastly extended the power and reach of his various security services. In the words of a British journalist, 'the SAVAK [acronym for the once dreaded State Intelligence and Security Organization] served as the eyes and ears of the shah, and when necessary, his Iron fist.' In addition to the SAVAK two other intelligence organizations called, 'The Imperial Inspectorate' and 'Army's Second Directorate' were also at his command." 19 Thus, not surprisingly, the shah's chief weakness was his disregard and lack of attention to the real needs and demands of the Iranian people. This lack of attention, which extended to political, economic, cultural, and social arena were due to the fact that he did not believe in the Iranian people and their power. Therefore, the elite thought they can think for the people, and the people were forced out of mind and thought. The shah's rule left no role for public opinion or national needs and aspirations.
With respect to the role of the people in revolutions, one must bear in mind that great revolutions are inherently social affairs and are therefore imbued with social characteristics. Furthermore, they comprise other elements such as co-existence and mutual cooperation toward optimal use of available resources for reaching common goals and ideals. Also, since they are public affairs and involve the multitudes, they contain an amalgamation of views and opinions, which for a period happen to agree on the necessity of bringing down the ruling establishment. The last point we must not forget in this regard is that although in a classification we can differentiate between the leaders of a revolution and the masses, because social revolutions are so popular and widespread in their adherents, and great in nature, and have to satisfy a great number of views and beliefs, they have always been vulnerable. 20
It should be borne in mind that a general state of public dissatisfaction with the political system and the bipolarization of the society do not necessarily lead to a revolution. The preliminary stage of any revolution is widespread popular participation in various phases of a revolution, which culminates in a sudden social explosion within that society. However, if this popular participation is bereft of a strong leadership, or if the leadership is not able to direct the popular movement efficiently and in a desired manner, or generate the needed vitality and dynamism in the necessary political institutions, the revolutionary movement will probably not succeed. Here, we will review the three required characteristics of a revolutionary leader 21 :1 - He must be the revolutionary ideologue, or be the founder of a distinct school of thought, or the designer of the revolutionary ideology.2 he must be widely recognized as the leader of the revolution, or its hero and head of all revolutionary operations.3 Also, he must be the undisputed leader of the revolutionary government, or be widely known as the architect of the new society, which shall emerge after the victory of the revolution. These three faces and facets of the leadership can, at times, be concurrently present in one individual, and this would be the most ideal and successful form of leadership a revolution can enjoy.
1. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, A Comparative Study of the Islamic Revolution and the French and Russian Revolutions, 2nd Ed., 1995.
2. Arendt, Hannah, Revolution, Tr. By Fouladvand, Ezatuualh, P. 57.
3. Ale-Imran: 144.
4. Motahhari, Morteza, About the Islamic Revolution, P. 82.
5. Daugherty, J.E., R.L.P. Baltz Graph, JN, Contending Theories of International Relations, (New York: B.L. Linincott Company, 1971), P. 237.
6. Johnson, Chalmers, Tr. By Siasi, Homeira, Revolutionary Change: A Theoretical Study of the Phenomenon of Revolution, (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1984), P. 17.
7. Brinton, Crane, The Anatomy of Revolution, (USA, Prentice Hall, 1956), P. 4.
8. Motahhari, Op. Cit., P. 82.
9. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, A Comparative Study of the Islamic Revolution and the French and Russian Revolutions, 2nd Ed., 1995, PP. 24-25.
10. Moore, Wilbert, Social Change, P. 19.
11. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, An Analysis of the Islamic Revolution, (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1986), PP. 40-41.
12. See,Taheri, Habibullah, Revolution and Roots; Raifpour, Faramarz, Development and Contradiction (Tehran: Beheshti University Press, 1997), 1st Ed., P. 81; Mohammadi, Manouchehr, An Analysis of the Islamic Revolution, Op. Cit.
13. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, A Comparative Study of the Islamic Revolution and the French and Russian Revolutions, Op. Cit., PP. 31-32.
14. Abrahamian, I., Iran Between Two Revolutions, Tr. By Golmohammadi, Ahmad and Fattahi, Mohammad Ibrahim (Tehran: Nashr Nei, 1998), 2nd Ed. P. 542.
15. Macleod, T.H., Planning in Iran, Tr. By Mohammad Beigi, Ali Azam, (Tehran: Nasr Nei, 1998), PP. 123-124.
16. Rafipour, Faramarz, Op. Cit., P. 81.
17. Zonis Marvin, The Fall of the Shah, Tr. By Zand, Ismail and Saidi Batul, (Tehran: Nashr Nour), 1st Ed., PP.432-434; 456.
18. Abrahamian, Op. Cit., PP. 535-537.
19. Fisher, Michael, Iran From Religious Dispute to Revolution, P. 25.
20. Johnson, Op. Cit., P. 17.
21. Shariati, Ali, Collection of Works, "Ummah and Imamah" (Tehran: Nilufar), P. 571.
This is a variable, which at times causes divergence and separation between various social groups, and consists of the special make-up of each of these social groups' values. And without ideology scattered social groups are not able to unite effectively. Although the common need for freedom is perhaps the necessary proviso and condition for any revolution, at the same time, a revolution must have a forward looking ideology with a desirable framework of values to replace those of the system it is trying to bring down. In other words, in revolutions we have a full-fledge competition between the revolutionary ideologies and the old system of values and thus, they define and clarify the values of a balanced and dynamic society. In this regard, one must bear in mind that some ideologies comprise limited beliefs and ideas and are only useful more in a psychological sense in that they reduce the pain commonly felt by the people, or are effective in blaming an issue or matter as the cause of all shortcomings.However, a revolutionary ideology means a plan for immediate change from the prevailing conditions, and at times, revolutionary ideologies have a religious nature and the revolutionaries believe they receive divine help in their common endeavor, and in a real sense are based on, and buoyed by a set of religious values. 22
Having reviewed some general aspects of revolutions, we can proceed to compare and contrast these three elements with respect to the victory of the Islamic Revolution:The Islamic Revolution is the result and culmination of a long labor and experience of the people of Iran and its elite both seminary and university scholars - in their unrelenting fight against the twin phenomena of colonization and dictatorship. The passage of years and decades, and the futility of all attempts, strategies, and non-Islamic ideologies to find solutions to the root causes of many problems facing the Iranian people, caused the people to turn to Islam as the religion, which would and could address their socio-economic and political concerns as well as their spiritual ones.To be sure, belief in Islam in this land is more than a millennium old, but was not commonly known as a religion, which could also offer a viable system of governance as well. Therefore, it took the truly unique person of Imam Khomeini to prove the logic and righteousness of interwoven nature of religion and politics, using the Holy Quran and the recorded words and deeds (the Traditions) of the holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam. Armed with true Islamic tenets and teachings, the Iranian nation could, at last, pursue its freedom from the chains of neo-colonialism and dictatorship through reliance on the unconquerable bastion of Islam, and finally, triumphed against all odds. That the Iranians stage a revolution under the banner of Islam was and is a very deep transformation, which seems rather strange on a planet almost conquered by the idea of the separation of religion and state. It is sadly a fact of contemporary history, which has seldom been studied and researched by the academia and analysts. However, there are exceptions to this unfortunate fact. One is the prominent French philosopher Michel Foucault who was curious enough to travel to Iran soon after the Revolution and is among the few foreign thinkers and intellectuals who found the subject worthy of deep thought and research. He was well aware that even his countrymen will not accept his words and views mainly because of the long-standing dominance of the belief that religion is barren and unproductive when it comes to social matters, and this has made them become incapable of any new and innovative thoughts in this regard. He writes: What meaning, for the people who inhabit our land, the search for the possibilities that we lost after the Renaissance and the great crisis of Christianity has? A search for political spirituality? I can already hear the French people's roar of laughter. But I know they are mistaken. 23 In any case, the important point with respect to the role of the people in the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution is the widespread and almost total participation of the Iranian people in the revolutionary process, so that one can rightly claim that just about everyone and every group had an active and continuous participation. This fact shows that the revolutionary transformation affected all social strata and groups regardless of class and political base and belief and brought them together in spite of their differences. In a spectacular show of unity Iranians from every walk of life came together under the great umbrella provided by their belief in Islam and its ability to offer them new prospects for a new society. 24
In order to better comprehend the effects of the twin and intertwined elements of leadership and ideology in the Islamic Revolution it is best to discuss them in tandem. Leadership in the Islamic Revolution is, in effect, the ideology and school of thought in words and deeds, as well as a great endeavor to make maximum use of the vast potentials of this school of thought, to reach goals set and taught by the same school of thought. Since we have spoken of the religion of Islam as the ideology of the Revolution, the question that arises is: given the fact that Islam is not a new religion, what did cause its believers and adherents to rise anew and make a new revolution based on its teachings? What indeed caused this ancient religion to move, motivate, and morally lead the Iranian revolution? We know that the eternal nature of the religion of Islam has never changed. Therefore, it seems entirely logical to find the answer in the environment in which this religion seems to have been found anew by masses of new people thirsty for the truth of a true religion.Therefore, didactically speaking, the importance here lies in how "Islam is offered," and not Islam itself. In other words, how true Islam is offered to the people, and the use the people make of it, are indicators of two other important subjects. First, not only how it was offered to the people by religious scholars and leaders, but, which reading (understanding) of Islam was in effect accepted by the people? And, second, by whom was its true nature and teachings offered and explained to the people? Or, to put it rather succinctly, were these advocates of Islam merely engaging in a great act of sloganeering, or were they themselves, soul and all, sold on their own slogans and actively practicing what they were preaching? This prelude was to underline the great importance of "leadership," since in the case of the Iran's Islamic Revolution the leadership both offered and practiced the offered ideology as a role model to the followers. Thus, we must discuss and understand the subjects of ideology and leadership as inseparable facts in the Iranian Islamic Revolution. We can also discuss the two questions in more clear terms in this way. First, what reading did the great leader of Islamic Revolution, our late Imam Khomeini, had of Islam? In other words, what was his reading and comprehension of Islam? Second, how did he act in his role and capacity as the undisputed leader, and what was his understanding of the role and burden of the leadership and its duties and powers in the society?Let us begin with the answer to the first question by stating the fact that the Iranian culture has for a long time been intertwined with the religion of Islam, so that social groups and powers have established a multitude of ways for maintaining contact with their religious leaders and scholars. During the rule of the Pahlavi regime, religious gatherings and ceremonies in honor and remembrance of Ashura (the day of mourning for the martyred Imam Hussein (as)) and the month of fasting of Ramadan, were always held in spite of the former regime's many obstacles, and deep and intense religious feelings were widespread. However, they had not yet manifested themselves in the political life of the society. Gradually, with the formation of a movement and school of thought which had risen in response to the imported anti-religious thoughts and trends the contradiction and confrontation became deeper and profounder. There appeared on the social horizon a group of religious Iranian elite who began to find their religion and its true teachings anew and focused on their religion as a subject matter of deep research. Furthermore, Islamic seminaries in a movement pioneered by the late Imam Khomeini had begun a serious reform movement of these religious establishments of high learning. Islam and its life-saving teachings had been a life-long and special focus of the late Imam's endeavors. His eloquent words with respect to the emphasis of good tidings and warnings of the Holy Quran and the lessons of the early history of Islam and their role in clarifying the status quo during the pre-revolutionary era and how to move in the desired direction shown by these divine, and divinely-inspired sources were repeated and received by the people many times. He raised and revived such seemingly forgotten concepts as right and wrong, the oppressor and the oppressed, rich and poor, the aggrieved and the arrogant, and the deeds Islam sees and separates as good and evil, and gave them new life and meaning, and a gave new life to the Iranian political arena as well. The Imam maintained: "Islam is all politics. They have introduced Islam badly. Islam is a comprehensive religion with teachings and tidings for human beings from the day they are born till the day they are put to rest in their eternal resting place." 25
The late Imam believed in Islam as a religion, which offers a practical plan for humans and forever elevating their humanity to unknown and unimagined heights. And since human begins are created social creatures who find meaning and their mission in life and living in the society, Islam is accordingly a religion which is handed down by the Almighty to build the society up to its maximum potential. Thus, this fact makes senseless the senseless theory of separation of religion from society and its management model. It is nothing more than a crude and cruel attempt by dictators, despots, and colonialist powers and their servants and supporters. "That religion should be separated from politics [and public life], and that scholars of Islam are supposed to stay away from social, public and political affairs is an infamous deed and doing of colonialists who began, and benefit, from such barrage of baseless propaganda," The late Imam warned on an occasion, adding, such words are uttered, and ushered into people's minds by pagans only. "Was religion and all that it offers ever separate from politics and public affairs during the time of our beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)?" He asks not rhetorically, but in clear reference to the early history and eternal teachings of Islam. Were some of the people clerics, some politicians and some rulers during those days? These remarks were made by the colonialists and their political agents to isolate religion from any interference in the worldly affairs and running the affairs of the Muslim societies and at the same time separate the Muslim scholars from the people and the fighters who struggled in the way of freedom and independence. Under such circumstances they could dominate the people and plunder our wealth They did not want us to be human beings. They are afraid of human beings. If there is one human being they are afraid of him, for he will reproduce and leave such impacts that will destroy the foundations of dictatorship, colonialism, and lackey governments." 26
Imam Khomeini did not believe in the complete separation of religion from worldly affairs and considered this world a farmland for the hereafter. To him, government and power were nothing except rendering services to the people and Islam. Hence, he would say: "bear in mind that now that you have come to power, it is not governance; it is rendering services; Islam has servant. But it has law enforcement forces as well to suppress those who want to commit treachery. The Islamic government is the government of services." 27
In the same line, he would recommend the officials of other Islamic countries and the Muslims: "try to rule over the hearts of the people of your countries, not their bodies Ruling the hearts of a country is a sweet government, contrary to ruling over the bodies where the hearts do not accompany." 28
With regard to Imam's percept, it should be borne in mind that he launched his political activities when he was 61, which was merely a sense of responsibility, duty and love of the divine Islamic principles.
The leaders of the revolutions have often been introduced as rebels who are able to create disorder and make ballyhoo and are often considered ambitious. But Imam Khomeini belongs to another category. He is an epoch-making sage, for before he had any responsibility and before becoming known in the public, he concentrated on self-purification for years, tried to gain experience in Major Jihad (war against inherent self), and acquire knowledge of sociopolitical conditions of the country. In a book published in 1982, a staff of his office wrote: "for fifty years Imam Khomeini has not given up his supererogatory nocturnal prayers; Imam used to offer his supererogatory nocturnal prayers in health, illness, prison, freedom, exile and even when he was hospitalized in the cardiology hospital." 29
Imam did not give up remembrance of God, recitation and contemplation on the Quran until the last moments of his life. In fact on the basis of the today's criteria he was an unbelievable example of a human-divine leadership in this intricate, politicized world, who emerged, bore fruit, and presented a positive example of a leadership, free from political collusions. An example which was a result of independence, firmness and resolution in decision-making, awareness and insight vis--vis the plots of the regime and tricks of the enemies. Other features of Imam Khomeini's leadership included defending righteousness, emphasis on self-purification and belief in the priority of individual acts on the social movements whose requirement was an outlook and approach that could foresee the future prospects. Hence, in practice too Imam Khomeini personally practiced Islamic ordainments.
He rebelled against his time and laid the foundations of a new structure. The main prerequisite to the accomplishment of such a gigantic task was firmness in implementing divine commandments, for the new task (establishment of an Islamic government with the support of the people) required new arrangements. In other words the new structure was not build on the basis of the requirements of time. Therefore in order to prepare suitable conditions one had to take action instead of foregoing the uprising when the time was ripe. The Imam maintained that it was through uprising in the way of God that the knowledge of God was acquired. Also addressing those who argued that they did not have power to rise, the Imam used to say: you should rise to gain power. 30
In a tumultuous, chaotic, bipolar society in which social groups constitute one of the poles and the political system another, a revolution will achieve victory only when the three pillars of the revolution, that is, people, leadership and ideology, act in concordance for a suitable objective. The more widespread the presence of the social groups, the more the power of the ideology to justify and elaborate the ideal values of the society and the more the acceptability and legitimacy of the movement; likewise the more the capability of the leader in winning the support of the masses through the use of the ideology and adoption of appropriate strategies, the more the possibility of the success of the revolution with lesser damages and losses. 31
During the course of the Islamic revolution, the said three factors played crucial roles. In other words, if the movement and uprising of the people, which was based on the experiences and elements that had their roots in the history of the Iranian nation, did not exist; if the wakeful, veracious, courageous leader, who had been raised on the basis of the righteous school of thought, were not there; the revolution had never succeeded. Hence the victory of the Islamic Revolution was the result of the spiritual, inherent transformation of the Iranian society that was directed towards independence, freedom in the light of belief in religion and spread of Islamic commandments under the leadership of Imam Khomeini against the backdrop of the social, political conditions of the Pahlavi era. The Islamic Revolution was a unique one, for it put forth the notion of holding fast to the religious commandments for individual and social salvation in a deeply materialistic world. It was an unknown, politically isolated revolution that gradually broke the cocoon of isolation and ever since its victory, it has become better known and accepted in the world.
The Islamic Revolution of Iran was an exceptional, unique phenomenon of the twentieth century. The inherent features and its specific messages as well as its sphere of influence turned the Islamic Revolution into a bright, firm revolution that became the focus of attention of the world. Both the Islamic world and other nations, including the peoples and the politicians, were influenced by this revolution and became acquainted with new aspects of Islam as a state religion. The Islamic Revolution of Iran was a development that was carried out by the people and was based on their religious principles and pillars. Hence, the Islamic Revolution had two major features that were manifest in the name of the political system it founded, that is, "Islamic Republic".
"I am going to discuss these two features, which have left major impacts on the image of this revolution in the world as they did in the victory and perpetuation of the revolution in our Islamic country. One of these two features was that the foundation of this revolution was based on religious values, ethic, and spirituality; and the other was that the revolution was based on the people's will and determination who wanted to play their role in the formation and administration of the revolution. In other words, in the post-revolution era, people's role was not undermined and they remained in the scene of the revolution as a significant element. These two features exist in our revolution." 32
Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the politicians, scholars and peoples of the world were acquainted with the name of Islam, but they had knowledge of an Islam, whose features were grossly different from what happened in the Islamic Revolution. The best explanation in this regard was given by Imam Khomeini, the founder and leader of the Islamic Republic. He classified Islam into two categories: one, what is known in the world as "American-style Islam" and, second, what was introduced by the Islamic Revolution as "genuine Mohammedan Islam".
The genuine Mohammedan Islam is the Islam of justice and equity; Islam of dignity and Islam of protection of the downtrodden, barefooted and disinherited; Islam of defense of the rights of the oppressed and wretched; Islam of jihad (holy war) against the enemies and uncompromising with the bullies and plotters. It is Islam of ethic, virtue and spirituality. American-style Islam is something in the name of Islam which is in the service of the arrogant powers and justifier of their acts; it is a pretext for the isolation of a major chunk of the believers and evasion of attending to the affairs of the Muslims and the fate of the Muslim nations; it is a tool for separating a great chunk of the social-political decrees of Islam from the corpus of religion and confining the religion to the mosques (of course, mosque not as a base for running the affairs of the Muslims as it used to be in the early years of the development of Islam but as a corner for renouncing from the worldly life and separation of the this world from the hereafter).
The American-style Islam is the Islam of indifferent people, who do not think of anything except their own animal-like welfare and consider God and religion as a capital for trade and a means for accumulation of wealth or gaining power and would shamelessly forget, or give a biased interpretation of, all the Quranic verses and traditions that are against their interests or will. The American-style Islam is the Islam of the kings and rulers who sacrifice the interests of the their deprived, oppressed nations in the altar of their deities, the United States and Europe, as a quid pro quo for their support of their government and stigmatic power. It is the Islam of the capitalists who trample upon all the values and virtues in order to preserve their own interests. Ye, this is American-style Islam which invites the people to keep away from politics, understanding, discussion and political action. But the genuine Mohammedan Islam considers politics as an inextricable part of religion and calls on all Muslims to political understanding and action. And this is what the Muslim nations should always remember from their late Imam and the impressive tongue of Islam." 33
Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the dominant powers through their propaganda and show of power could convince the nations and the weak leaders that they could not confront them and that any move to become independent of the superpowers was doomed to fail. Through their propaganda and due to the weakness of governments, the big powers had created a false sanctuary for themselves, and the very trick had caused the nations to ignore their own power, belief and determination in defeating the powers. The Islamic Revolution astonished the entire world through defeating the oppressive monarch, that enjoyed strong international support, and then through its astonishing resistance against both the United States and former Soviet Union, by raising the slogan of "neither East nor West", the seizure of the US Den of Espionage (US Embassy in Tehran), and through the resistance it put up against the eight years of Iraqi aggression that enjoyed the support of most powers of the power, led by the United States, Zionism and the West. All these developments also demonstrated the hollowness of the domineering powers and convinced the nations that their will, faith and millions-strength move could really overpower the systems which are equipped with the most sophisticated weapons.
"Among other features of the modern world our honorable Imam and Revolution created in the world include the principle of liberation from domination, occupation and sphere of influence of the great powers; and also the fact that a nation by relying on itself and trust in God in confronting an oppressive power does not trust or rely on anybody or does not trust any power; it was the path our nation started under the leadership of our honorable Imam and today this path is finding a large number of followers in the world." 34
"As a superpower, the United States was strong, but today it is not. In how many parts of the world today you observe that the people set the effigy of the US president or its flag on fire? In how many places of the world the nations and masses raise their fists and chant "death to US"? Once you were the only ones to raise this slogan and others would advise you not to do so; but today people chant "death to US" in Europe and in farthest parts of Asia, in the countries under the US influence and in the countries controlled by regimes similar to that of the United States. Your revolution did it; that is, it undermined the false sanctity of the international bullies and superpowers" 35
The main bulwark against the attempts of great powers to suppress the Islamic Revolution or to distort its image was its spiritual and divine values. Of course the will and unity of nations can defeat the domineering powers, but the divine values created fervor in this country and in the hearts of the faithful youth that threatens the existence of the arrogance. As a result the arrogance not only feels that it is unable to confront the Islamic Revolution, but it is incapable of confronting Islamic movements in other countries, such as Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan; neither is it able to contain the movements in non-Islamic countries whether within the Islamic geography or in the West.
"Another message of our revolution was that the material powers are helpless in confronting the spiritual values and the movement and determination of the masses. The greatest sign of the helplessness of the arrogant systems that rely on material power is that the revolution, the system and genuine Islam have survived in Islamic Iran and become stronger and rooted every day. It is now several years that the arrogant systems, with all available means, have come to the scene to confront the revolutionary Islam and the Islamic Revolution. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic, the Islamic Revolution and the message of Islam survived and became deeper and more widespread. Today, you observe strong signs of the inclination of the Muslims towards return to the fundamentals of Islam in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world where the Muslims live. It means that the arrogant front is not able to confront." 36
The Islamic Republic, which is the outcome government of the Islamic Revolution, offered the notion of negation of both great camps of those days, which manifested in the form of two superpowers and had divided the world countries into two blocs under their domination. The main slogan of the Islamic Revolution in this regard was "neither East, nor West" which was an expression of opposition to the permutation of forces under the umbrella of two superpowers. In other words, the Islamic Republic would not follow the Eastern and Western models and therefore negated any alliance, covert or overt, with the said blocs, for it has its own independent values and principles, which are supported by the people. The main reason of the hostility of both the superpowers with the newly-established Islamic Republic was the fact that it introduced a new model to the thoughtful, free human beings, particularly the Muslims. The Islamic Republic has two aspects, that is, "Republic" and "Islamic". The term republic is a known concept in political systems in which the "people" form the basis and pillar of the political system. The combination of Islam with republic, demonstrates a new kind of political system. Although it was not unprecedented and some of the Islamic countries had already established republican systems, the new system was really unknown in the world because of its peculiar features, that is, genuine Islam and true participation of the people in the political processes.
"Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the world had experienced two kinds of political systems and accepted them: one, the Western democracies, and second, the socialist systems the Eastern and Western blocs fiercely opposed and antagonized each other. But when the Islamic Republic was established as a new form of government, both the blocs astonishingly and then in a horrified manner confronted it! What was the reason? The reason was that the Islamic Republic enjoyed certain features that would negate both the prevailing systems in those camps, considering them unfit and harmful for man's life and it announced it. In other words, the two political systems prevailing the East and West had some commonalities and the public culture was similar in those countries, that is, pushing the people towards ignorance and unleashing the rein of promiscuity and caprices. This was what existed in both the political systems. This is the common culture of the East and West." 37
22. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, A Comparative Study of the Islamic Revolution and the French and Russian Revolutions, Op. Cit., PP. 39-40.
23. Foucault, Michel, Iranian Dream, Tr. By Masoumi Hamedani, Hussein, (Tehran: Hermes, 1998), 2nd Ed., P. 42.
24. Blachet, C. Pierre, Iran: Revolution in the Name of God, Tr. By San'avi, Qasem, (Tehran: Sahab Publishers, 1980), P. 255.
25. Rajabi, Mohammad Hussein, Political Biography of Imam Khomeini, (Tehran: Qibla Cultural Institute, 1907), P. 24.
26. In Search of Path Through Imam's Remarks, (Eighth Book - Clerics) (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1985), 1st Ed., PP. 19-191.
27. Imam Khomeini, New Treatise, Vol. 14, Political Legal Issues, compiled by Biazar Shirazi, Abdul Karim, (Tehran, Daftar Nashr Farhang Islami, 1994), 6th Ed., PP. 243-257.
28. Ibid., P. 247.
29. Some Aspects of Imam Khomeini's Gnosticism and Ethic in Viewpoints of the Friends, (Tehran, Hadi,), P. 19.
30. Tahari, Seyed Javad, The Idea of Modern State, (Tehran: Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini's Works, 2002), 1st Ed., P. 256.
31. Mohammadi, Manouchehr, A Comparative Study of Iranian Revolution with French and Russian Revolutions, 2nd Ed., Op. Cit., PP. 40-41.
32. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 3, P. 249.
33. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 1, PP. 222-223.
34. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 4, PP. 277-278.
35. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 6, PP. 221-222.
36. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 6, P. 296.
37. Hadith-e Wilayat, A Collection of Speeches of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Vol. 4, PP. 46-49.
Undoubtedly had the Islamic Revolution remained confined to the geographical borders of Iran, it would not have provoked the animosity of the arrogance to the present extent, but the characteristics and messages of genuine Islam do not recognize geographical borders. Hence, the Muslim nations were influenced by the messages of the Islamic Revolution and followed its model, which resulted in an Islamic awakening and dignity and grandeur of the Muslims across the world. Wherever a Muslim took pride in the Islamic Revolution, it led to honor and dignity and he woke up to rise against the injustices and oppressions of arrogance and its lackeys. The security of the diabolic powers was endangered and hence they became hostile to this revolution and tried to suppress it, but did not succeed.
"This nation holds a magnificent flag. The flag you hoisted has awakened the world. Just see what is going on in Palestine today; what is going on in North Africa. See how Islam is restoring its rights in the Muslim societies. All these achievements have been accomplished by you. They had raised Muslim in a manner that they felt weak vis--vis the culture of arrogance and infidelity. In many places the Muslims have been able to restore their rights and regain a share in the government systems, while before the Islamic Revolution no one dared to speak of Islam. In the Muslim countries where the Friday and daily prayers leaders set up organizations and prosper mosques to become centers of movement, until yesteryears the mosques belonged to a bunch of disabled old men. Today, those mosques are the site of the youth and center of movements. It has been, in effect, accomplished by you. It was accomplished by your movement and your honorable leader that divine man. This is why the enemies of Islam are angry with you: "Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion." 38 Whether the arrogance likes it or not; whether the US likes it or not; and whether the Zionism likes it or not, Islam has reawakened this great hero of centuries has once again risen in the middle of the scene. The enemies of Islam cannot do anything [against it]. 39
Although this wave of awakening has encompassed most of the Islamic countries and Muslims of the world, other nations too under the influence of the humane messages of this revolution feel dignified and greatness. Other nations now feel that they are powerful and are able to withstand the domineering powers. The countries that could never clearly and openly oppose the United States, talk of opposing Washington and the West today.
"In the new era, which was launched by the Imam and its sphere is not limited to Iran, the masse are the main determining factors and decision-makers; it is they who direct the currents You have observed that in the Eastern European countries millions of masses move and come to the scene in the same style our nation did in confronting and opposing the oppressive monarchical system. In other words, the basic characteristic of the new era is victory of blood over the sword, that is, during the new era, as it happened in Iran, all citizens without any equipment and weapon, only with their souls and bodies come to the scene and expert pressure on the oppressive, usurping governments."40
The people during the course of the Islamic Revolution were looking for changes on the basis of Islam. The longstanding endeavor of the global arrogance and its domestic agents to eliminate Islam from political, social and cultural life of the people were thwarted with the victory of the Islamic Revolution. The people put the religious beliefs top on their agenda during the course of the revolution. This Islamic feature prepared the grounds for comprehensiveness of the revolution as a result of which the revolution did not remain confined to the clerical class; on the contrary, the entire nation participated in the revolutionary scenes, for they considered the revolution of themselves and for themselves. Also Islam and Islamic objectives were always given priority over other goals.
"The Islamic Revolution began from the house of religion that is, mosque and seminary and religious orientation become stronger day by day. The role of religion and spiritual values became so strong that attracted such figures towards the revolution who normally would not come to the scene in any other revolution. Even the aged, apolitical people and those living in remote villages came to the scene of struggle and joined the revolutionary mainstream. People's rage in the course of the revolution was not because of a material objective, rather it was due to their demands for religion, spirituality and God. After the victory of the revolution, the government that was established on the basis of the revolution was an Islamic government, that is the Islamic Republic. The government did not waver to the left or right, rather it remained the in the right path of religion and did not give up the religion with the passage of time. In fact, in legislation, in election of the executives, employees and top officials such as the parliament members and others the people participated in the political processes on the basis of Islamic criteria. Religion was the [main] feature of our religion and it remained so. It was not such that religion becomes the feature of the revolution for sometimes and then it changes into something else. This feature is not found in any other revolution; and, due to this very feature which was an important factor, wherever a heart throbs for Islam, it is interested in the Islamic Republic which moves for Islam and thinks of the sublimation of the word of Islam." 41
4-1- The Era of Spiritual Values
The Islamic Revolution shook the foundations of materialism and the pillars of materialistic powers. It also once again revived the divine, spiritual values in the peoples life and introduced them to the peoples across the world, convincing them that a
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