A reading of a segment of one of Imam Khomeini’s speeches
[This is a loose translation of parts of one of Imam Khomeini’s speeches as expounded by Dr. Hasan Asghadi. I have not only played loose with the style, but have also taken the liberty to “improve” on the speech, deleting and elaborating a little, as is my style. My idea was to make the thoughts of the Imam more accessible to a Western audience. ]
This speech of the Imam’s was given about seven months after the triumph of the revolution, right before the universities reopened. This was a time that was witness to clashes in the streets and universities between different parties and factions, battles against separatist groups, conspiracies and terrorist plots… Various problems arose between the Imam’s revolutionary movement and the counter-revolutionary forces which wanted to defeat it. The Imam warns of these reactionary elements and the powers and ideologies behind them.
“They will not let Iran out of their clutches. Western imperialism does not want to allow the country to come into its own, to stand on its own two feet. You should know that all of the disturbances that are currently being created have been created by them in order that the calm and stability necessary for the development of the country does not obtain.”
He warns against these forces of reaction, which want fundamentally to change the nature and direction of the revolution. “Beware! Do not let them dupe you into accepting a non-Islamic republic under the name of a (fake) Islamic Republic bereft of the reality that is Islam.” Here the Imam is cautioning against the influence of deviant and reactionary elements in positions of power and in positions to influence the revolutionary ideology of the universities’ student cadres and that of the broader revolution generally.
“America and the West fear the Islamic Republic. Much effort was expended by their forces to prevent the Islamic Republic from taking root. They fear not the republican aspect but the Islamic one. Those whose pens were at the service of the West, and those who were not paying sufficient heed and had become westoxicated started to say, ‘What do we want with Islam anymore [now that the revolution has triumphed]? ‘ ‘A republic will do us just fine,’ they said, ‘a democratic republic.’ But now that Islam has dealt them a blow that they will not soon forget, they fear it. The Shah’s regime was dismantled by *Islam* – not by anything else. Whereas it was the musta’zafin (the weak and the downtrodden) who brought about this revolution by gathering in the streets and placing their lives at the mercy of tanks and canon and machine-gun fire, now others who played no role in this movement want to seat themselves at the table and eat of its viands. Now that the revolution has borne fruit, we see of a sudden, from America and from Europe, and from every God-forsaken nook and cranny of the country itself, people who were supporters of the Shah and his regime have become “revolutionaries” and say things like ‘We were always with the revolution,’ and ‘There are things that we have seen and know that you know nothing about.’ They think that I have just landed from Mars [sic!] and don’t know them and their shenanigans, who they were and who they are pretending to have become.
“You’ve just arrived on the scene – johnny come latelies one and all – and from Western universities to boot, and want to lay claim to the revolution?? It was the blood of our Moslem kids that was shed, and now you come, in all your arrogance and say, ‘OK, so you shed some blood and made some sacrifices. Swell. Now be so kind as to step aside, deliver the reins of your revolution to your betters and be on your merry way. Here; here’s your receipt for it! Now be good boys and go back to your homes. We have important business to attend to here, executive decisions to make. Surely you can’t be expected to make executive decisions, to be the boss?’
“They will try to take over the revolution and co-opt it. Beware! Stand up to them! It is the height of absurdity to tell a nation, 98% of whom voted for an Islamic Republic in a general referendum, that we do not want the “Islamic” in Islamic Republic. It goes against the expressed will of the people. It is as absurd a proposition as saying that ‘Well, yes, the people want an Islamic Republic, but *we* want a monarchy (or we want a secular liberal democracy), and to hell with the people – the people are stupid. These types are accusing the people at large of ignorance and stupidity! The people have spoken and they say ‘We want Islam to be the basis of the laws that govern our lives,’ but they say, ‘No, that is not what you (really) want. You don’t understand and we know better!’ – whereas the people have made their choice and are resolved on it after having fully considered all other options, and being of sound mind and body.”
The Imam goes on to caution us not to be tricked by forces who want to fool us into accepting an “Islamic” Republic without the key element of Velayat-e Faqih (The Sacred Governance and Guardianship of the Religious Elders and Doctors of Law), for without this, the Islamic Republic would be counterfeit and bogus [note the example of Pakistan, for example, whose full name is The Islamic Republic of Pakistan]. Those who say they do not want Velayat-e Faqih, that it is just another form of dictatorship, etc…. in truth, what they are actually saying is that it is Islam that they do not want. If the Vali becomes dictatorial, he is no longer fit to be the vali and will be replaced by the Guarding Council whose constitutional duty it is to monitor and if need be, to check the vali’s performance….
“Needless to say, the whole point of the theoretical framework and edifice of the Velayat-e Faqih system is that it is a mechanism crafted precisely to combat dictatorship and the forces of tyranny. In its infinite wisdom, Islam has afforded its Elders, its Jurisconsults and Doctors of Law (those with high expert knowledge of Islam who have devoted themselves to and spent their whole lives in Islam – submission to the will of God and whose expertise has been validated by a sacred consensus of the community at large), Islam has afforded these learned men the authority not to allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to go about town doing whatever his heart desires. To be sure, the liberal clap-trap that “Velayat-e Faqih is nothing but a thinly-disguised dictatorship” has itself been dictated to these lost souls who simply turn around and regurgitate it back, parrot-like.
“Another tactic they will use is to call us reactionaries. Yes… it is we reactionaries who cut off the hands of the traitors from the reins of the country [where the communists and nationalists, and the constitutional monarchists before them failed to do so]. It is we reactionaries who returned freedom and independence to the land. It is we reactionaries who kicked the thieves out of the country and returned the Treasury to the people, its rightful owners.
“And when that doesn’t work for them, they’ll switch tact and one of their spokesmen will sham concern for our religion and say they are concerned for the loss of sanctity of the clergy. ‘Let them hold on to their sacrosanctity! Let religion vouchsafe its sanctity! Do not interfere in the dirty business of politics lest you sully your hands!’ they say. ‘Let the clergy remain holy and hold on to their aura of sanctity,’ they say, whereas what they are really saying is, ‘Let them stay in their mosques and prayer niches and not stick their noses where they don’t belong. Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven be damned and let the Devil take the hindmost. This is their wilaya, and no mistake. This is secularism laid bare: the political realm for the politicians and laity and those not concerned with religion, and religion as a private and personal affair with its ambit limited to the four walls of the church and mosque. ‘Go there and stay there, where you belong! Go there and pray. And if you want to teach and preach, no problem. Go for it! Preach ‘till your heart’s content!! But be reasonable. Know your limits and stay within them. This “freedom of religion” is not to say that you are thereby given license to take a position against that of the grown-ups, upsetting the whole apple cart. Want to take religion into the classroom? Into the universities? Fine! No problem! Just as long as you don’t make our lives difficult. Remember Rule #1: Don’t rock the boat. We got it working like clockwork, see? Milking it and skimming the cream for all its worth.
“ ‘No, suffice it that your “holiness” be preserved; act out the role you have been assigned to the extent that the masses call you “Your Holiness”, to the extent that the veneer of sanctity is maintained. Let them say, “This is a holy man! An ascetic. So much so, in fact, that if they steal his oil, he does not say a word. If anything, he would say, “So they take our oil. What possible value can the material possessions of this world have? Let them have at it, if that is what they want!” This is how they want us to safeguard the sacred! This is their idea of sacrality and sacrosanctity!!
It is as if they want us to believe that our Prophet and Imams (upon whom be peace) never engaged in political matters, social matters, matters of social justice; whereas of course their whole purpose, the entirety of their project was to bring about justice in the social realm, to forge a better, more just community. The Prophets and Imams waged war with social injustice and sub-human acts and conditions. Not only did this striving not take an iota away from their sanctity, but it defined and enhanced it. It is the very definition of their ministry.
There is no contradiction between sanctity and political involvement. To the contrary. Do they mean to say that us latter day saints and holy men are holier than, say, Imam Ali, as we keep our hands clean of the dirty business of politics and he didn’t? Is this what they maintain? Or do they not consider Imam Ali and his politically intertwined actions sufficiently holy? That he falls short on that count – is that it? ‘Let religion maintain its sanctity by not interfering in politics and matters of state,’ they say! What? So then did the Prophet and the Prince of the Believers, Imam Ali, both of whom were heads of the Moslem polity in turn, compromise their sanctity thereby? These matters, social matters, politics in other words, power relations between individuals and groups, between the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, these were issues that were central to their ministries! [iin haa kaar dashtand baa iin masaael!] Yet, those who excoriate the clergy for being concerned with and engaged in the public sphere and urge them not to do so on pain of losing their holy sanctity must needs also hold that the Prophet and Imam Ali (upon both of whom be peace) lacked sanctity and were not therefore holy people, lacking a holy character, for they engaged in political behavior which – so their logic has it – is unbecoming of holy men and men of the cloth.
And so, it becomes evident that you have no interest in saving and preserving our sanctity and our sacred values. All you are really up to is some treacherous mischief designed to push us aside in order to pave the way for your foreign paymasters to come in and take back the reins of the country.
Posted by Arash Darya-Bandari