Rafed English

The Islamic World Capabilities and Challenges

The Islamic World Capabilities and Challenges In Viewpoints of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei

The main characteristic of the contemporary history of the Islamic civilization is full-fledge confrontation and conflict between the Islamic culture and the Western culture. 1

However, regrettably, in the field of research the confrontation between the two great civilizations Islamic and Western is totally different. On the one hand, due to the longstanding dictatorial governments, keeping the masses away from the religious culture and confining the religious thought to the individual rites and rituals, a static, disappointing atmosphere, devoid of any innovation, permeates the Islamic World. On the other hand, due to the renaissance and experiencing life in the ambiance of modernism, an atmosphere of creativity, modernization, social activities, and inclination towards discovery and domination of the unknown realms (sciences, territories, cultures and civilizations of other nations) permeate the Western world.

Hence, cultural interaction and exchange, which is possible only within the framework of a bilateral dialogue, has given its way to a unilateral monologue, that is, the all-out arrival of Western concepts and terms in the Islamic countries. This challenge is the main reason for the emergence of social-religious reformist movements of the Muslim intellectuals in the contemporary Islamic societies.

Having felt the threat of metamorphosis and destruction of cultural identity and originality of the Islamic societies, Muslim social reformers founded the movement for the revival of Islamic thought. The movement aimed to revise the religious teachings and expurgate them from superstitions and intellectual residues and ultimately reinterpret the religious teachings according to the requirements of time and space in order to lay the foundations of cultural activities in the Muslim societies to spread and consolidate fundamentals of Islamic culture among the masses. 2

"The rise of the European civilization and its domination of the Eastern territories, paralleled with the deterioration and decline of Islamic civilization in the nineteenth century, caused various reactions by the Muslim scholars. These reactions, stemming from national, religious emotions and human needs, compelled the scholars and believers to endeavor for finding a solution to restore their identity and reconstruct their civilization. Therefore the nuclei of reformist movements were formed one after another in the Islamic world These movements can be designated as the Islamic Renaissance or Islamic Revivalism." 3

The most fundamental questions and challenges of the Muslim thinkers in the contemporary world are as follows:

1 The Threat of Alienation of the Society from Islamic-Indigenous Identity

The arrival of the concepts and terms of the alien culture in the Islamic societies and their acceptance by the scholars, who were disappointed at the dictatorial rulers - who had distanced themselves from the religious-indigenous culture was spreading so quickly and irrationally that the danger of the destruction of cultural identity became quite palpable. On the other hand the approach of the Western culture to such human values as freedom, justice, citizenship rights and the definitions of these concepts was basically different from that of the Eastern Muslim man. Therefore the masses in the Muslim societies were alien to these concepts, which were interpreted through a Western outlook.

In every society, the scholars are the representatives and delineators of the course of movement of the society towards the future and they are the ones who intellectually feed the society. Therefore if they distance themselves from the society, a gap will appear between them and the masses. If this happens, the cultural foundations of the society will be weakened and such a culture will lose its power of progress and fruition and therefore cannot meet the needs of the society. Under the circumstances, the identity and originality of the society are gradually eroded and a society without an identity cannot take any action to reform its body. The Muslim scholars had realized that without a scientific study of the basic concepts and principles of their own Islamic culture, and without revival and theoretical elaboration of such concepts as Islamic brotherhood, Islamic ummah, freedom and justice in Islamic viewpoint, etc. vis--vis the alien concepts and terms of the Western culture, Muslims will not find their answers within their own indigenous culture and the end result will be stagnation of growth, dynamism and development of Islamic thought. Inevitably such a man will resort to the alien culture and ultimately as a result of conflict between indigenous cultural attractions and those of the alien culture, his mentality will be more and more split.

2 Expansion of the Sphere of Power of Dictatorial Governments in Islamic Societies

The ruling system as well as the theoreticians of the ruling powers in the Islamic countries had well realized that the alien concepts did not enjoy an historical and cultural background in the Islamic countries. As a result they lacked any theoretical backing and firmness of interpretation. Therefore in a crafty measure they changed their nature and through combination of these concepts with their own legitimizing issues transformed them into new instruments for the legitimization of their own authoritarian rules. They expanded the sphere of their dictatorship and hid their violent face under the veneer of deceiving masks. Such concepts as progressive dictatorial rule, guided democracy, superior civilization and such strategies as extremist nationalism (chauvinism) pan Arabism, pan Iranism, etc. are among the most prevailing ones during this stage of political history of the Islamic world.

"Self-centeredness of authoritarian rulers in the world of Islam stems from this fact. For instance, self-centeredness in development justifies the political order through referring to economic disorderliness; nationalist self-centeredness on its part justifies relies on the role of the leader by referring to the need to resist foreign factors and military self-centeredness which previously used to rely on the justification of conquest, now emphasizes on the necessity of preservation of order through resort to the force." 4

Imam Khomeini states: "In our time, the words and logics have been misplaced, open political atmosphere is in fact the very suppression and all-out censors. The "great civilization" is in fact savageries worse than that of the medieval ages. The reconciliation government kills the people with tanks, cannons and machineguns. Independence is military, economic and cultural dependence." 5

Solutions

Under the critical circumstances, Muslim scholars have laid the foundation of a reformist movement based on the indigenous-religious elements of their society, which is designated as the movement for the revival of religious thought.

The outstanding solutions forwarded by the Muslim intellectuals in our contemporary world may be classified as follows:

1 Return to Indigenous-Religious Culture

Commenting on the issue, Nouruallah Qeisary states: "The ideas of Seyed Jamal uddin Assadabadi, attention to religious thoughts, purification of Islam from superstitions, emphasis on the unity of Muslims in the light of the Islamic decrees and principles, and encouragement of the Muslim ulema to take political stances became a headway for an inclination which entered Islam into the realm of politics and finally the leadership of the political religious activities of the Muslims since 1960s by Imam Khomeini and his book, Wilayat Faqih, a new theory of Islamic government, turned the political Islamic tendency into the dominant tendency, uniting all the Muslim fighters under a single banner to lead the historical developments until the collapse of the Pahlavi regime and establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran." 6

2 Struggle Against Longstanding Dictatorial Rules in Islamic Societies

The dictatorial systems had become one of the main obsessions of the Muslims thinkers. They considered the ruling dictatorial systems as one of the greatest problems of the Eastern societies. However the reason for the establishment of dictatorial rules in their opinion was not confined to the authoritarian tendencies of the rulers. They maintained that submission to dictatorship, as a component of the Eastern culture, had prepared the grounds for the continuation of authoritarianism and dictatorship in these territories. Therefore, the Muslim thinkers maintained that in order to eliminate dictatorship, and prevent new dictatorial rules, the spirit of submission to dictatorship should be eliminated. In a message to the world Muslims, Imam Khomeini writes: "O, Muslims of the world, since you have been inflicted with gradual demise under the domination of rulers, you should overcome the fear of death and rely on the zealous, martyrdom-seeking youth who are ready to defeat the frontlines of infidelity and inequity. Do not think of preserving the status quo, rather think of getting rid of captivity and redemption from slavery, for honor and dignity are achieved in the light of struggle and the first step of struggle is determination." 7

3 Consolidation the Cultural Elements of Society with Theoretical Backing

Many Muslim thinkers have tried to expand and develop the theoretical foundations of religious beliefs through revision, analysis, and purification of people's religious beliefs in order to increase the intellectual, convictional capabilities of the Islamic society. In fact, in order to transform the metamorphosed indigenous-religious culture of the Muslims, they tried to give a human-centered definition of this culture based on the clear source of revelation. This culture enjoys richer theoretical and rational foundations compared to the materialistic Western thought, particularly with regard to sociopolitical thoughts of Islam and its ideas about man's dignity, individual rights, and his social status.

Islam is compatible with man's primordial nature and its principles aim to preserve his honor and dignity. Man's status in Islamic thought is so sublime that he is considered the "representative of God" on earth.

It should be borne in mind that a calculated, diabolic plot is being hatched by the arrogant camp, targeting the entire Islamic world. The main objective of this plot is to project the Islamic culture and civilization as an ineffective body and incapable of responding to man's contemporary needs. It also tries to make the Muslims believe that the main reason for the backwardness of the Islamic world is Islamic culture and thought. The arrogant camp did not confine its activities to this objective, rather through poisonous propaganda it tried to make the Muslims believe that the only solution for the salvation of the Islamic societies from backwardness and achievement of progress and social-material welfare was bidding farewell with the Islamic thought and turning back to indigenous-religious culture and in turn acceptance of the Western culture.

Without any doubt the inroad of Western concepts and terms as well as the presence of their agents in various social levels of the Islamic societies as well as application of colonial, exploitative thought, based on Western utilitarianism, underline the sensitivity of the prevailing situation and the crucial responsibility the Muslim thinkers shoulder in confronting the crises and directing the society towards acceptance, establishment and continuation of Islamic cultural values.

Realizing the existing problem, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, called on the Muslim ummah to come out of the cocoon of isolation vis--vis the cultural invasion of the aliens, and encouraged them to dynamically revive the religious culture, for he maintained that the religious cultural values are the most effective weapons of the Muslims in this campaign:

"Islam is the religion of movement. The holy Quran is movement. Movement from nature to the unseen, from materialism to spiritualism, movement in the way of justice, and movement in the way of the establishment of justice; unfortunately, those who wanted to plunder the East and captivated the Muslim nations, made such a propaganda that even the Easterners themselves, those who were ignorant of Islam and monotheistic books, believed them. The monotheistic schools were all schools of movement, but they propagated to the contrary and claimed that religion is the opium of the masses, that is, religion has come to destroy the people This is exactly contrary to the fact." 8

4 Uniting Various Islamic Social Strata (Islamic Ummah)

The redefinition of the concept of Islamic ummah and attempts to reinterpret it in accordance with the prevailing conditions and requirements of today's Islamic society will provide the Islamic ummah with a suitable strategy to confront the intellectual and identity crises the Muslims face and will also help them systematize and define the fundamentals of the religious thought.

The incessant struggles and endeavors of the Muslims and Muslim thinkers in contemporary era to revive the sublime Islamic thought among the Muslims has to a great extent prevented the spread, invasion or progress of Western materialistic thought in the Islamic societies, preparing the grounds for the spread of self-confidence among the Muslims and their confidence on the unlimited capabilities of the Islamic culture.

The Muslim thinkers had to offer an alternative intellectual-cultural model. Particularly in the realm of sociopolitical thought they had to offer a government model compatible with the religious-indigenous cultural conditions of the Islamic society. However, the contemporary Muslim thinkers enjoyed an advantage compared to other social thinkers of the non-Muslim Third World countries, that is, the experience of the Islamic civilization in the formation of religious government in the early years of the advent of Islam by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Through most perfect and humane laws, the Prophet (PBUH) could prepare the grounds for the glory and grandeur of the Muslims and spread of the divine religion of Islam across the world in the shortest possible time.

Therefore, Muslim thinkers enjoyed all necessary instruments for the presentation of a suitable government model, based on the Islamic principles and even had the experience of the establishment of the most perfect model of religious government in their store.

What materialized in the form of the greatest and most principled popular movement of the history in the late twentieth century and astonished the entire world was the emergence and continuation of the religious revolution of the Iranian people whose final victory led to the establishment of a religious government in Iran.

By relying on the sublime religious values on one hand, and using the disappointing atmosphere prevailing in Iran which stemmed from the intermittent failures of the internationalist movements such as nationalism, Marxism, liberalism, reformism, etc. on the other, the father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, chanted the slogan of struggle against the tyrannical, dependent regime and succeeded to depict a clear picture of the holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam, the infallible Imams and the society founded by the Prophet (PBUH) [Jamiat un Nabi] for the Iranian nation in order to encourage them to rise against all manifestations of oppression, inequity and dependency." 9

Unlimited Capabilities

Establishment of Religious Government, Demonstration of the Capabilities of World of Islam

One of the main characteristics of Islam, which also constitutes its main body, is being a social religion. The social principles of Islam are so comprehensive that their scopes go beyond mere recommendations on the nature of people's relations with each other. In fact in order to implement these principles, the existence of a system with executive power is indispensable. The decrees on Imamate, following (obedience) consultation, commandment of good and prohibition of evil, and holy war, which are called governmental decrees, belong to this category.

Islam is the most perfect divine religion and the holy Quran is the only divine book that has not been falsified. Moreover the Islamic laws, legislated by the divine lawgiver, are based on man's primordial nature and project Islam as the most human-oriented culture. Therefore, Islamic political thought which stems from the sublime Islamic culture, prepares the grounds for the establishment of the most sublime and perfect structure of a religious government - a government based on divine laws headed by the most merited and qualified member of the Islamic ummah. Such government offers a path for material and spiritual felicity and perfection of man through revival and spread of sublime Islamic values in the society.

Throughout the history of the Islamic civilization since the advent of Islam till date Muslim thinkers, through proper understanding of the unlimited capabilities of Islam for the formation of an Islamic government and its role in guiding human beings, particularly the Muslims, as well as the restoration of the grandeur of the world of Islam have always been preoccupied with the establishment of a religious government.

"The concept of perfect man in the Islamic civilization and its materialization in the person of Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) (in the Sunni jurisprudence) and in the person of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the infallible Imams (PBHT) (in the Shii jurisprudence) "Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any of whose hope is in God and the Final Day" 10 and the social characteristics of Islam as well as its diverse principles and decrees about the method of formation and establishment of a religious government all in all are considered as valuable cultural-religious data for the Muslim thinkers in their endeavor for social reforms. Hence, in their endeavor to offer an alternative government model, Muslim thinkers enjoyed all the required means on the basis of human-based, sublime divine teachings; and even had the most perfect model of divine government is at their disposal." 11

In fact the prevailing issues and problems of every society takes new shapes depending on the conditions of time and space and hence require befitting reply. The concept of individual inference or individual reasoning (ijtihad) in Islamic jurisprudence provides the qualified, pious Muslim jurisprudents to offer suitable answers to these questions on the basis of unambiguous principles of this discipline the Book, the sunnah, consensus, and reason. This is one of the secrets of the durability of Islam in the course of time. In this regard Imam Khomeini states:

"I do not think that there is any method better than that of the previous ulema for a thorough study of Islamic sciences. The millennium-old history of research and investigation of the veracious ulema of Islam bears testimony to our claim regarding the fruition of the sacred sapling of Islam." 12

Without any doubt the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, was the most distinguished disciple of the rich Islamic culture, had the highest command of the Islamic teachings and was the greatest social reformer in the world of Islam. Relying on his deep knowledge and proper social insight, he could realize the challenges of the Islamic society and founded the popular, Islamic struggles through revival of religious thought and their spread among the Islamic ummah by relying on the power of the Muslim masses. Finally through his insightful leadership of the struggles, he founded the first religious government in the contemporary world a world that has distanced itself from spiritual values.

In sum, the establishment of the divine religion in the Arabian peninsula, the legislation of the most human-based social decrees which are based on human primordial nature, the experience of the establishment of religious government, spread of Islam across the universe, the splendor and glory of Muslims in the light of this government, the definition of new sublime concepts as a model for the religious leaders of the Islamic society (perfect man) and finally the creation of the discipline of individual inference by reliance on genuine Islamic sources, all underline the unlimited capability of Islam in establishing the most complete form of government (Islamic government). Such a government sprouts from the clear spring of revelation and its leadership is vested with the most righteous person who has the highest command of religious teachings. One can claim that it is only under such a government and the leadership of such an Imam that human societies can move towards felicity and material and spiritual perfection and will find the way of redemption and salvation in this world and in the hereafter.

Characteristics of the Religious Government: Viewpoints of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei

One of the most important characteristics of religious government - which also distinguishes it from other forms of government based on materialistic cultures (non-religious governments) is that it is value-based, based on defense of truth and human dignity, and rejection of wrong including inequity, oppression, infidelity, paganism, exploitation, and colonization. Hence the religious government under the leadership of Imam is meant to safeguard right and reject wrong, which is a divine mission.

A review of the ideas of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei as well as foreign and domestic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran will demonstrate the unceasing struggle of the Islamic system, as the harbinger of right, against the camp of global arrogance, led by the United States.

Establishment of United Islamic Ummah

Unity, Key to Victory and Glory of Muslims

As a Muslim reformer and leader of the Islamic society, Imam Khomeini always considered unity of word, solidarity and utilization of the rich Islamic resources as the only strategy for the victory o the deprived, disinherited masses over the arrogant powers as well as the restoration of the magnificence and glory of the disinherited Muslims and always recommended the Islamic government and ummah to observe these sacred issues:

"I have repeatedly invited the Islamic governments to unity and fraternity vis--vis the aliens and their agents who want to dominate our dear territories and colonize them and exploit their spiritual and material resources by diving the Muslims and Islamic governments." 13

Elsewhere, Imam Khomeini clearly states that the main reason for the backwardness and depravation of the Muslims, particularly the Palestinian Muslims, is lack of theoretical and practical unity among the Islamic countries and Islamic ummah and once again underlines the need for unity and solidarity of the world of Islam on the basis of Islamic communalities as the only key to victory and success against the camp of arrogance.

"If the heads of the Islamic countries give up their differences and become acquainted with the sublime Islamic objectives and tilt towards Islam, they will not become captives and slaves of colonialists as such." 14

The Imam painfully warns that depravation, colonization, and exploitation of the material and human resources of the Islamic world will increase and there is no way for getting rid of from this problem except return of the Muslims to the cultural, religious principles and revival of Islamic unity of word.

"I have warned time and again that if the Islamic ummah does not wake up and does not become aware of its duties, if the Islamic ulema do not shoulder their responsibility and do not rise, if true Islam, which is the result of unity and movement of all Islamic sects against the aliens and is the guarantor of the mastery and independence of the Muslim nations and governments continue to remain under the black veil of colonialism, and if the flames of differences and disunity among the Muslims flare up, darker and more miserable days await the Muslim society and a destructive threat will endanger Islam and the Quranic principles." 15

In order to perform its divine mission, the Islamic government of Iran considers the establishment of the universal Islamic ummah as one of its duties and will not spare any efforts in this regard. Article 11 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic states:

"On the basis of the Quranic verse, "Verily, this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore Serve Me," 16 all Muslims belong to one ummah and the government of the Islamic Republic is duty-bound to base its policy on the coalition and unity of Islamic nations and make incessant efforts to materialize political, economic and cultural unity of the Islamic world."

Commenting on the unity of Islamic ummah, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, states:

"The entire Islamic ummah must remember this profound, precise recommendation of our dear Imam and should not forget unity of word on the basis of Islam. "And hold fast, all together, by the Rope Which God (stretches out for you)." 17 Hold fast to the rope of Allah and get united around the pivot of Islam. This unity is remedy to all illnesses and demolisher of all enemies." 18

Addressing the Islamic ummah in the Islamic world, while elaborating on the role of unity in the glory of the Islamic nation of Iran, the Leader mentioned Iran as a role model for other Muslims:

"Unity of word has been the key to the victory of the Iranian nation in various stages and today it is the best means for the confrontation of our nation with the provocations and plots." 19

Defending the Disinherited and Downtrodden Against the Arrogance

"The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran paid special attention to the protection of the disinherited masses against the arrogant powers so that only few months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he put forth the idea of the establishment of an international party called the Party of the Disinherited." 20 In this regard, he states:

"I hope that one party called the Party of the Disinherited is established in the world and all the downtrodden of the world cooperate in this party to remove the problems existing in their way and rise against the arrogant powers and plunderers of the East and West and will no more allow the arrogant powers to oppress the downtrodden of the world." 21

Clearly the Islamic system of Iran, in the light of its divine mission, cannot keep silent against inequity and oppression and considers campaign against oppression and support of the disinherited and oppressed people of the world particularly the oppressed Muslims as one of its objectives in the world and has full faith in the divine promise on the rule of the disinherited over the world: "And We wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders and make them heirs." 22

Commenting on the same issue the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei states:

"Whatever we have, we owe to the blessings of genuine, revolutionary Islam, which is concerned about the fate of the oppressed and disinherited classes the Islam of the weak and barefooted. The Islam that grants dignity and mastery to the low classes of the society and rescues them from lowliness and wretchedness. The Islam that overthrows the bullying thugs and powerful oppressors from their seat of power. The Islam for whose spread our honorable Imam spent his entire life." 23

All-Out Independence and Rejection of Dependence on Arrogant Powers

Genuine Islam is capable of guiding the Muslims towards dignity and felicity and is able to empower them to confront the dominant materialistic powers of the world without any dependence on the Eastern and Western poles. The victory of the Islamic Revolution, which was a manifestation of this concept of Islam, demonstrates this truth for the entire world.

Commenting on this issue, Imam Khomeini states: "If instead of relying on the Eastern and Western blocs, the Islamic governments and nations rely on Islam and hold fast to the illuminating, liberating teachings of the holy Quran they will not be frightened by the United States nor will they fear the Soviet Union." 24 Commenting on the comprehensive independence of the country and its preservation as well as its impact on the political insight of the Muslims, and their faith and awareness of the capabilities of Islam, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, states:

"Up to the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the Muslim masses were told that Islam was not capable of bringing about dignity and honor for them and that in search of felicity they should go after Western models and European and American cultures or tilt towards imaginary hollow Marxist theories; but after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the honor and dignity the materialization of Islam granted to the Iranian nation, thwarted all the longstanding achievements of the colonial powers and showed in practice that Islam can rescue a nation from indolence and oppression and direct it towards the apogee of dignity, courage, and self-confidence and also it is able to grant them a firm, independent system, capable of challenging the materialistic powers of the world." 25

Once again it should be borne in mind that the formation and victory of the Islamic Revolution, the establishment of an Islamic government in Iran, its honorable resistance against various plots of the global arrogance and its internal and external agents, in fact, demonstrated the unlimited capabilities of Islamic thought and culture in establishing the most perfect form of government system (Islamic government) which meets the demands of various societies with their indigenous cultures in all times and is capable of directing the societies towards perfection and felicity. On the other hand, the formation of the Islamic government could represent the most prefect practical model of government for the disinherited and oppressed peoples of the world, particularly the Muslim masses, preparing the grounds for the revival of religious thought and culture and putting forth the need for return of the Muslim masses to the foundations of Islamic culture.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei has a clear remark on this topic:

"The impacts of the victory of the Iranian nation in the face of the world challenges did not remain confined to the Islamic world, rather, the Islamic breeze started blowing even in the non-Muslim countries where the iron cage systems of party dictatorship or ethnic oppression had not allowed the Muslims of those countries to even feel being Muslims; their dormant faiths started simmering and the herald of Islam disturbed the tranquility of the evils This is an Islamic resurrection which has enlivened the dead souls and is preparing the grounds for the day when in response to the question "Whose will be the Dominion?", it is said: "That of God, the One, the Irresistible." (The Holy Quran, 40: 16). 26

Hajj, Symbol of Unity and Islamic Might

The divine religion of Islam appeared in the form of a complete religious culture from the very beginning of its emergence. It succeeded to establish a society with Islamic identity and an Islamic government under the leadership of the Messenger of Allah and in the shortest possible time it prepared the grounds for its spread across the globe.

A cursory look at the early years of the development of Islam shows that the main divine mission of the Prophet (PBUH) was to implement the Islamic culture and ideas and establish a religious society in order to lead human beings towards felicity and perfection. As the founder of the Islamic culture and religious, and given human-oriented nature of Islam, 27 the Prophet (PBUH) of Allah based his endeavors and struggles on cultural activities and by relying on the principle of the call, he tried to guide the people directly or indirectly (dispatch of representatives to other territories).

The history of human civilization shows that propagation of a new culture, particularly a new religious culture and advocacy of a new method of life, which calls for fundamental changes in the principles and pillars of the previous culture and civilization does not recognize the traditional power structures of the society, always faces certain problems and the first followers normally endure lots of hardship, particularly inflicted on them by the power-wielders, who found their interests endangered by the new religion.

The incessant struggles of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions for the propagation and introduction of Islam as well as the establishment of the first bases of the Muslim communities and finally the establishment of the first Islamic society and Islamic government along with the hardships and difficulties they endured in this way bear eloquent testimony to this very fact.

At this stage we witness that the efforts of the holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions for the establishment of the first perfect government structure (Islamic government) bears fruit. However, with the passage of time and as we go farther from the time of the departure of the Prophet (PBUH), the government systems in the Islamic territories gradually become alien to the religious government and get closer to monarchical dictatorial systems. Also simultaneous with the decline and deterioration of the Abbasid dynasty and emergence of local governments which did not enjoy any religious legitimacy (they were neither based on Imamate of Shiism nor were they attributed to the Quraish legitimacy in Sunnite school) 28 and hence the Islamic society and Muslim scholars started putting the legitimacy of the government into question and the ruling sultan was considered as an oppressor and usurper of the rulership in the Islamic world. 29

By isolating and distorting the Islamic teachings, isolating the Muslim thinkers from amongst the masses and interpreting the religion to justify their own interests, the despotic rulers tried to consolidate the pillars of their rule and in the process presented a distorted image of religion to the society. However, by enduring hardships, the veracious Muslim thinkers and scholars tried to preserve the Islamic sources and spread Islamic teachings. Commenting on the role of the veracious ulema of Islam in preserving the perimeters of the religious principles, Imam Khomeini states:

"If the dear ulema were not there, it would not be clear what would have been presented to the people today as the Quranic sciences, Islam and the Household of the Prophet (PBUT). The collection and preservation of the Quranic sciences and the sayings and traditions of the honorable Prophet and the precept of the infallible Imams; as well as their record and preservation at a time when the sultans and oppressors had mobilized all resources to eliminate them was not an easy task." 30

In the contemporary era too the invading Western governments and some ruling systems spread a poisonous atmosphere 31 against the Islamic world and level charges and accusations against Islam by relying no their propaganda means. They also try to inculcate the idea that the main reason for backwardness and shortages in the Islamic world is the people's commitment to religious principles. Therefore the committed Muslim scholars and thinkers, particularly Imam Khomeini, shouldered a heavy responsibility. They had to purify the principles of religion and eliminate superstitions in order to revive religious thought and hence launched their cultural, propagation struggle in order to introduce genuine Islamic culture and thought. They therefore had to innovate new value-based intellectual concepts.

Among the most important, profound concepts which was created and whose theoretical elaboration left an outstanding impact on the beliefs of the Muslims and made them realize the need for return to religious principles was genuine Mohammedan Islam which was introduced by the greatest and most pious disciple of the school of Islam, Imam Khomeini, that indeed introduced a new meaning of Islam to the world.

In this approach, Islam has been introduced as an anti-arrogance school which rejects all manifestations of oppression and tyranny, supports all the disinherited and oppressed peoples of the world, preserves independence, rejects any kind of dependence, and safeguards such human rights as freedom and social justice.

Without any doubt in the light of such an image of Islam, all religious principles and decrees find a clear meaning, the rust of superstition is wiped out from religious principles, and the clear image of Jamiat un Nabi the utopia of the Muslim in all stages of the Islamic civilization becomes clearly visible.

Among the Islamic decrees, which underwent a change in the light of the introduction of sociopolitical thought of genuine Mohammedan Islam, was Hajj ritual. Imam Khomeini introduced Abrahamic Hajj instead of the "American Hajj", which in effect transformed Hajj ceremonies from mere ritualistic ceremonies to a political-ritualistic ceremony. Thus the Hajj occasion became a platform for the expression of the message of the oppressed and wretched of the world and a manifestation of the Islamic unity, cry of deliverance from the pagans and the arrogant camp and ultimately a platform for the demonstration of the power of the Islamic world in confronting the camp of arrogance.

Characteristics of Abrahamic Hajj in Viewpoints of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei

In viewpoints of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, religious rites and rituals have various aspects. The raison d'etre of Islamic principles can be studied from various aspects including individual, social, ritualistic, and political ones. In other words, within the framework of genuine Mohammedan Islam, Imam Khomeini depicted a sociopolitical image of Islam. Thus he rescued Islam from social isolation and changed it into a dominant culture and idea in the society and elaborated on it theoretically in order deepen religious concepts among the Muslims. In this line, in the opinions of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, Hajj rituals have individual, social, ritualistic, and political aspects and Hajj is rightly the manifestation of great power of unity of Islamic ummah.

A) Characteristics of Hajj and Its Spiritual Status

Commenting on the spiritual and ritualistic aspects of Hajj, Imam Khomeini emphasized on the interconnection of this aspect with other aspects:

"Spiritual position of Hajj, which is an eternal asset and brings about closeness of man with horizon of monotheism and purity, will not be achieved unless the ritualistic principles of Hajj are properly performed and its political aspect is not fulfilled unless its spiritual and divine aspects are accomplished.

your labaiks (yes O Lord) should be a response to the call of the Almighty God and wear the pilgrimage garment in order to get close to the threshold of the Court of the Lord. While chanting labaik migrate from self a great source of infidelity towards the Lord, glorified is He." 32

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, describes Hajj as an eternal source, a divine spring and a clear rivulet for the Islamic ummah:

"Thanks be to Allah Who has ordained Hajj as an eternal source, a divine spring and a clear continuous rivulet for the eternal ummah." 33 Elsewhere, he comments on the interrelations between spiritual, ritualistic aspects of Hajj and its political, social dimensions: "Hajj is a worship and chanting of prayers and repentance, but it is a worship and a repentance aimed to resuscitate the pure life of the Islamic ummah and liberate it from the chains of colonialism, dictatorship and mammons of wealth and power... It is a Hajj which is among the pillars of religion and in the Nahj ul Balagha, the Commander of the Faithful has called it the banner of Islam, the holy war of every powerless, remover of poverty and destitute, and a source of proximity of the believers to each other." 34

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei and Imam Khomeini both lay emphasis on the importance of the city of Mecca and the House of God (Bait ullah al Haram) where the greatest culture and civilization of the history of mankind was formed. Commenting on the issue, Imam Khomeini stated:

"The holy Mecca and the holy sites are the mirror of great events of the movements of the prophets, of Islam and mission of the holy Prophet of Islam. Every spot of this territory is a place of emergence of great prophets, the trusted Gabriel and reminder of the years-long sufferings and hardships the Prophet (PBUH) endured in the way of Islam and humanity. Presence in these holy sites while bearing in mind the difficult, intolerable conditions of the appointment of the Prophet acquaints us with the responsibility of preservation of the achievements of this divine movement and mission."

Commenting on the same issue, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, states:

"In this place, the pivot and center of every sanctity is God and circumambulation, running between Safa and Marva, and staying [in holy sites] as well as other rituals of Hajj each is a demonstration of attraction to God and rejection, denial and deliverance from the enemies of God." 35

B) Social Aspects of Hajj

Hajj, the Manifestation of Unity of Islamic Ummah

In the opinions of Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei, Hajj is a manifestation of consolidation of Islamic unity and an expression of integrity of the Islamic ummah.

Commenting on the issue, Imam Khomeini states:

"One of the most important pillars of the philosophy of Hajj is creation of understanding and consolidation of fraternity among the Muslims." 36 Elsewhere, the Imam states: "We should bear in mind that one of the significant reasons for gathering of [all Muslims] from across the world in the this sacred place is solidarity of the Muslims of the world, consolidation of unity among the followers of the holy Prophet of Islam and the holy Quran against the illegitimate rulers of the world." 37

Commenting on the same issue, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei says:

"Hajj is the manifestation of unity and solidarity of the Muslims. Now the Almighty God calls all the Muslims and those who are able [to travel] to this particular point, at a particular time and assembles them besides each other during certain nights and days to participate in certain rites and practices which are the manifestation of coexistence, discipline and coordination. Its first manifest impact is injection of the feeling of unity and congregation in each of them and demonstration of the glory and splendor of the congregation of Muslims to them as well as nourishing their mind with the feeling of grandeur." 38

Hajj, a Platform for Solving the Problems of the Muslims

Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei consider Hajj occasion as an opportunity for proximity among the world Muslims as well as an occasion for discussing the problems and shortcomings of various Islamic societies and an occasion for reaching a consensus to solve these problems. Imam Khomeini states:

"Now that it is the occasion of House of God and the Muslims from across the world have gone on pilgrimage to the House of God, it is necessary that during the performance of Hajj ceremonies they pay attention to one of the greatest reasons for this great assembly, that is, paying attention to the sociopolitical conditions of the Islamic countries and becoming aware of the problems of their brother-in-faith and try to solve them in accordance to their Islamic, humane duties. Paying attention to the affairs of the Muslims is among the important obligations." 39

C) Political Dimension of Hajj

Propagation and Awakening

The founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, who was the political, cultural leader of the Islamic society, considered the Hajj occasion as an appropriate time for enhancing the awareness of the Muslims and awakening of the Islamic ummah. In this regard, he laid emphasis on the role of the ulema, thinkers and writers of the Islamic world:

"O speakers and writers, during the great congregations in Arafat, holy Mecca, etc. describe the social and political problems of your regions for your brothers-in-faith and seek each other's assistance. O pilgrims of the House of God, explain the plots of the plundering, aggressive US and criminal Israel for the world people and realize the crimes of these criminals and beseech God for the improvement of the condition of Muslims and severance of the hands of the criminals." 40

Addressing all the Muslims, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, lays emphasis on spreading information and enhancing awareness about the international issues during the Hajj ceremonies: "During great congregations, particularly that of Hajj, the Muslims must discuss the problems of the world of Islam."

Imam Khomeini also underlines the political aspect of Hajj, "One of the great philosophies of Hajj is its political dimension." 41 Elsewhere, the Imam says: "political dimension of Hajj is very significant." 42

Ayatollah Khamenei too lays emphasis on the political dimension of Hajj: "Anybody who tries to segregate the political identity of Hajj from these ceremonies is either ignorant or biased; God will not forgive those who are prepared to achieve their own impure, trifle objectives by depriving the Islamic Ummah of their greatest weapon against the global infidelity and arrogance." 43

Introduction

The political history of Islam is replete with incessant struggles of veracious followers of Islam and true believers against the tyrannical rulers, power-wielders, infidels, and all manifestations of illegitimate rule and arrogance.

The struggles and holy wars of the holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions against the symbols of infidelity and polytheism, ignorance, reactionary forces, oppressors, and power-wielders, on the one hand and all-out protection of the sanctities of the liberating religion of Islam, rights of the disinherited and downtrodden of the society, as well as righteous struggles of the Imams and great leaders of Islam and the sufferings they endured in this way, on the other, are the strongest evidence in this regard. In fact the history of Islam is full of struggles, campaigns, self-sacrifices and martyrdoms.

In contemporary political history of Islam, intolerable struggles, continuous campaigns to enhance the awareness of the Muslims, and sagacious leadership of a descendent of the righteous people led to the revival of genuine ideas of Islam (genuine Mohammedan Islam), revival of Islamic life, and reverberation of the voice of Islamic unity in the world of Islam.

Relying on the religious teachings and the power of faith of the Muslim ummah, the founder of the Islamic Republic launched a struggle against all manifestations of ignorance, tyranny and arrogance and tried to purify Islam from the dust coated on the religious concepts and rites by the joint effort of the enemies of religion and the ossified figures who had transacted religion with the worldly gains. The Imam tried to represent religion to the seekers of truth and justice as the Prophet (PBUH) of Islam had depicted it.

The efforts and struggles and resistance of Imam against various plots of the camp of arrogance finally led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and establishment of a religious government in the Iranian society. The Iranian revolution was undoubtedly unique with regard to its popularity and its impact on the ideas and outlook of the peoples of the world as well as from the viewpoint of its impact on the political literature and equations of the world.

The victory of the Islamic revolution and the establishment of the religious government which was naturally in contradiction and confrontation with the interests and avarice of the global arrogance was the beginning of a new round of struggles and confrontations with the plots, aggressions, colonialism and exploitation of the camp of arrogance.

The global arrogance and the sworn enemies of the Islamic system found it a threat to their illegitimate interests and considered their survival subject to the destruction of the religious government. Hence they did not spare any effort to overthrow the popular, sacred Islamic government and do not spare any effort now. Their efforts encompassed a range of activities including military invasion, full-fledge war, economic sanctions, and terrorist acts. But the honorable resistance of the Islamic government with the least available equipments and with reliance on the weapon of faith against all the plots hatched by the camp of arrogance, not only led to the victory of the Islamic system, but also could demonstrate the grandeur and magnificence of Islam and the capabilities of the Islamic culture and religious political thought particularly for the disinherited and downtrodden.

Today, the righteous successor of Imam Khomeini Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei is at the held of the leadership of the Islamic system. Through his sagacious leadership he is strongly leading the society against the plots and mischief of the arrogant powers. Through his leadership the Islamic Republic is performing its mission of protection of the rights of the oppressed, spread and export of the Islamic revolution, and rejection of inequity, ignorance and arrogance.

Commenting on the plots of the global arrogance against Islam particularly the Islamic government, Ayatollah Khamenei states:

"Today one of the main issues of the Islamic world is the frantic, vengeful animosity of satanic front, particularly the Great Satan, against Islam and Islamic concepts and beliefs. Although the planned, all-out animosity against Islam has its roots in the early years of emergence of colonialism, and colonialists during the recent decades have the turned the Islamic countries into an arena for their plunder, robbing, massacre, and aggression, they considered Islam a hurdle and a strong bastion against their plots and hence launched their political, cultural attacks against it. They implemented some plans to separate the Muslims from Islam and Quran and through their diabolic tricks, including spread of moral corruption, promiscuity, and licentiousness, they try to achieve their goals, but ever since the volcano of the Islamic Revolution dashed their hopes to the ground, raised hopes in the hearts of the Muslims, and heralded the revival of Islam in the world, the arrogant powers launched an all-out, hurried, frantic attack against Islam and of course it was not far from expectation that the divine traditions would be definitely realized, leading to their defeat and fiasco." 44

Palestine, Main Challenge of Islamic World

"The most clear image one may depict of the Zionist regime is a combination of savageries, atrocities, racism, apartheid and unbridled political aggressions under the pretext of legal defense and struggle for existence. Invasion and occupation of an Islamic territory, the savageries of the occupiers by resort to the most sophisticated weapons and instruments and clever resort to widespread false propaganda to project themselves innocent and distort the facts, as well as the oppression of the Muslims of the occupied territories, their depravation of the least defensive facilities and amenities of life would indeed injure the feelings of every Muslim." 45

Without any doubt, since the formation of the usurper Zionist regime, the religious ulema and Muslim thinkers of the Islamic societies have considered the issue of Palestine a great challenge in the way of safeguarding the perimeters of the Islamic territories, preservation of the dignity and honor of the Muslims of the world, and protection of the rights of the oppressed, particularly the oppressed Muslims. They have therefore considered the Zionist regime and its main supporter, the United States (the leader of the arrogant camp), as the main enemy of Islam and stress on the need to confront the enemy until the complete elimination of Israel from the international arena.

The issue of Palestine in the viewpoint of Imam Khomeini was so significant that from the very beginning of his social-political struggles against the tyrannical monarchical system, he paid attention to he issue of Palestine and laid stress on the necessity of struggle against the arrogant powers until the total destruction of the Zionist regime. The Imam states:

"I have frequently invited the Islamic governments to unity and fraternity against the aliens and their agents, I have repeatedly warned the governments, particularly the government of Iran against Israel and its dangerous agents. This source of corruption which has been created in the heart of the Islamic countries with the support of the great powers and whose corrupt roots regularly threaten the Islamic countries, should be uprooted with the efforts of the Islamic countries and great Muslim nations. Israel has waged an armed uprising against the Islamic countries; it is the duty of the Islamic governments and nations to exterminate it. Assistance to Israel either sale of arms or explosive materials, or oil is unlawful and is against Islam. Relations with Israel and its agents, either commercial or political, are unlawful and are against Islam. The Muslims must refrain from using Israeli goods." 46

Also in the midst of his struggles against the monarchical regime and on the threshold of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Imam categorically announced his stance on Israel:

"Bait-ul-Muqaddas [Jerusalem] must be returned to the Muslims, the Israelis are usurpers." 47

The Imam did not stop his support of the rights of the oppressed Palestinians until the end of his blissful life and through his incessant efforts tried to perform his divine duty of illuminating the Muslims and awakening of the Muslim Ummah. He states:

"Defending the Muslim people, defending the Islamic territories and defending all aspects of life of the Muslims is an obligatory issue and we should prepare ourselves for the defense of divine objectives and defending the Muslims. Particularly, under the circumstances when true children of Islamic Palestine and revolutionary Muslims of the usurped territories through sacrificing their bloods and lives are crying "O Muslims". We should stand against Israel and the aggressors with all our spiritual and material power and should resist all those atrocities and brutalities and should assist them [the Palestinian fighters]." 48

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, like the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has categorically hoisted the flag of struggle against occupiers of the Qods. He is a harbinger of campaign for introducing the rights of the oppressed Palestinians to the world and is a pioneer in exposing the atrocities and savageries of the Zionist regime. The Leader clearly considers the Palestinian issue as the first problem and most significant challenge of the World of Islam:

"Palestine is the top issue of the World of Islam; besides political, economic and security aspects, the issue is a religious, Islamic duty and above all it is a divine issue." 49

In the viewpoint of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the only proper way to confront the occupying regime of the Qods is struggle and holy war until the total destruction of Israel from the international arena. In line with Imam Khomeini's stance, the Ayatollah Khamenei states:

"The slogan of the elimination of the cancerous gland of Israel which was put forth by the honorable Imam and the great leader of Islam, Imam Khomeini (PBUH), regardless of the viewpoint of the compromising political actors, should be forwarded with strength and should be converted into the public voice of the Muslims during the Hajj ceremonies." 50

The Leader also insists on his stance emphasizing no the necessity of total destruction of Israel:

"Regarding the issue of Palestine, the objective is total destruction of Israel and there are no differences between the territories occupied before 1967 and after that. Every speck of the Palestinian territory is a speck of the house of Muslims and any ruling system except the sovereignty of Islam and the Palestinian people is a usurper regime." 51

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution also forwards a practical solution to the Palestinian problem, that is, a practical, comprehensive, goal-oriented solution in line with the dispatch of assistance by all Islamic countries to equip the Palestinian fighters and oppressed Palestinian people. Moreover, the Leader believes that there should be comprehensiveness, unity, and coordination of efforts under the supervision of experts, scholars and policymakers and planners of the Islamic countries in order to achieve the goals with regard to the Palestinian issue.

Commenting on this issue, the Leader states:

"The duty [of Islamic governments towards Palestine] includes assistance in various forms, political, financial, and international assistance. This [issue] must be decided by he officials and influential figures of the Islamic world. If the rulers of the Islamic countries do not decide, then the Muslim nations will feel that it is their direct duty." 52

Having full trust in the power of faith of the Muslim masses and Muslims societies, the Leader states:

"All Muslim nations from bottom of their hearts support the liberation of Palestine, the intellectuals of the world of Islam, the ulema of the world of Islam, the distinguished figures, as well as a number of politicians, heads and officials of the Islamic world think so." 53
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[1] It should be borne in mind that it became possible due to the rapid growth of communication technology after the Industrial Revolution and their increasing ability to have access to remote areas.

[2] Saebi, Mohammad Javad, Fundamentals of Revival of Religious Thought (Qom: Seminary Propagation Office Publishers, 2001), p. 12.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Naqibzadeh, Ahmad, "Possibility of a Universal Political Sociology," Islamic Government (Quarterly), Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 1998.

[5] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 2, P. 266.

[6] Qeisry, Nourullah, "Intellectual Current and Intellectuals in Iran," (Mo'aseseh Andisheh va Farhand Dini, 2000), P. 44.

[7] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 20, P. 232.

[8] Ibid., Vol. 8, P. 291.

[9] Haj Aqajani, Mohammad Javad, Imam's Governmental Approach to Violence and Terrorism (not published), P. 58.

[10] (The Holy Quran, 33: 21).

[11] Haj Aqajani, Op. Cit. P. 66.

[12] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 21, P. 88.

[13] Ibid., Vol. 1, P. 139.

[14] Ibid., Vol. 1, P. 186.

[15] Ibid., Vol. 1, PP. 195-196.

[16] The Holy Quran, 21: 91.

[17] The Holy Quran, 3: 103.

[18] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 1, PP. 290; 298.

[19] Ibid., Vol. 4, P. 255.

[20] Mohammadi, Manoucher, Islamic Foreign Policy: Principles and Problems, (Tehran: Nashr Dadgostar, 1998), 1st Ed. P. 34.

[21] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 8, P. 250.

[22] The Holy Quran, Chapter Qisas: 5.

[23] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 4, P. 20.

[24] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 1, P. 186.

[25] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 4, PP. 244-245.

[26] Ibid., Vol. P. 245.

[27] Man's status and the necessity of safeguarding his natural desires such as freedom, and enjoying the right to elect, social justice, and social participation in the Islamic culture, are so sublime that the divine law giver has left the acceptance of Islam to the discretion of human beings, recognizing their rights to elect. The Verse 256 of the Chapter Caw states: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error"

[28] According to Islamic teachings sovereignty belongs to God alone and after Him only those who have been directly or indirectly granted the right to rule by God enjoy such a right (the Prophet, or those who have been recommended by him to rule the Islamic society). In the Shia philosophy they are called Imams of the ummah. Also after the Prophet those who had the greatest record of rendering services to Islam had a right to rule (the Guided Caliphs), or those who were closest relatives of the Prophet or were closest members of his tribe, who are called the righteous Caliphs in the Sunnite political philosophy.

[29] Ibid., PP. 65-66.

[30] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 21, P. 88.

[31] See the Introduction of the present study.

[32] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 5, P. 42.

[33] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 7, P. 144.

[34] Ayatollah Khamenei, Hajj Message, July 1987.

[35] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 7, P. 146.

[36] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 9, P. 176.

[37] Ibid., Vol. 19, P. 202.

[38] Hadith-e Wilayat, Vol. 7, P. 147.

[39] Shifeh-e Nour, Vol. 2, P. 172.

[40] Ibid., Vol. 10, P. 222.

[41] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 18, P. 66.

[42] Ibid., Vol. 19, P. 43.

[43] Ayatollah Khamenei, Hajj Message, July 1989.

[44] Ayatollah Khamenei, Hajj Message, July 1989.

[45] [45] Haj Aqajani, Mohammad Javad, Palestine, the Throbbing Heart of the Islamic World, PP. 4-5.

[46] Sahifeh-e Nour, Vol. 1, P. 139.

[47] Ibid., Vol. 3, P. 105.

[48] Ibid., Vol. 20, P. 184.

[49] Ayatollah Khamenei, Second Friday Prayers Sermon, International Day of Qods, December 31, 1999.

[50] Ayatollah Khamenei, Interview, Keyhan, May 30, 1990.

[51] The Issue of Palestine and Zionism (From the Viewpoint of Ayatollah Khamenei) (Tehran: Islamic Propagation Organization), P. 99.

[52] Ayatollah Khamenei, Speech on the Feast of Appoint of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) October 24, 1993.

[53] Ayatollah Khamenei, Speech, July 12, 1998.

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