by Kalim Siddiqui (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 1, Safar, 1427)
On April 23, Crescent International and the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) will hold a Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the Islamic movement’s modern giants. The theme of the conference will be The Islamic movement: between moderation and extremism. As part of our commemoration of Dr Kalim’s work, we are reprinting some of his major works. In this issue we reprint a paper he wrote in 1984, reflecting on the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
This seminar has not been called to praise and applaud Iran, the Islamic Revolution, the ulama or the people of Iran. This is because all praise is for Allah subhanahu wa ta‘ala. If the achievements of the Islamic Revolution appear to be so great and formidable, it is only because the deviations and failures of the people of Iran were equally monumental. Even a little light is enough to dazzle those living in utter darkness. I will be frank and admit that when the Islamic Revolution triumphed in 1979 I feared that it might be little more than a flash of lightning inevitably to be overtaken by darkness again. It was this nagging fear deep down that persuaded us at the Muslim Institute to try to capture as much of the light as we could. It was not until the students “following the line of the Imam” captured the US “nest of spies” in Tehran (November 1979) that we began seriously to consider the possibility that the Islamic Revolution might not be a two-day wonder, that we might be in for a prolonged period of sunshine, and that the springtime after a long, dark Arctic winter of Muslim history might have arrived. Everything that has happened since then, in Iran and in the world outside, has convinced me that the Islamic Revolution is a true manifestation of the complete truth that is Islam.
For the last five years we at the Muslim Institute have devoted all our attention to the study of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Most of all we have tried to relate the Islamic Revolution to the Ummah outside Iran. We realised from the beginning that there was little that we could do to help our brothers in Iran. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of an Islamic Revolution is that it is autonomous and self-sufficient. Everything that has happened in the last five years has confirmed our view that the Islamic Revolution is indeed totally self-contained and self-reliant. This must be so because Islam is the whole truth, and any manifestation of it must therefore be wholly and completely self-contained. This also means that every little part of the whole is in itself the whole truth. This is why the physical model of the whole truth at its inception was very small: I refer, of course, to the Madinah of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and of the four rightly-guided khulafa’. If it were necessary for the physical manifestation of the whole truth to be extensive in its dimensions, Allah subhanahu wa ta‘ala might have chosen a continental, or at the very least a subcontinental, stage for Prophethood and Revelation. The sparse population and the small size of the Hijaz do not distract from the finality and completeness of the Prophethood and Revelation. The whole truth encompasses the entire universe, but it also lives in its smallest particle. Whenever, wherever and however the whole truth manifests itself, it overcomes falsehood, whatever the size and ‘power' of falsehood. It is an essential characteristic of falsehood that it is always incomplete and feels insecure. No matter how extensive and powerful its manifestation, it is always fearful of the truth in any form. This is why the agents and purveyors of falsehood are always weak and insecure. Their weakness and sense of insecurity manifest themselves in drives of greed, power, profit, aggression, oppression and exploitation.
In the broad sweep of history, and in the historiography of Islam, it is clear that there has always existed a cyclical pattern in the preponderance of falsehood and the preponderance of Islam. It seems to me that this cyclical pattern of deviation and the correction of deviation was the very essence of the long chain of prophets, peace be upon them all, until prophethood was closed and sealed with Muhammad ibn Abdullah (saw) of Makkah. It must be noted, however, that until now this cyclical pattern of conflict and change between Islam and falsehood has occurred in geographically restricted and relatively small areas. All the prophets before Muhammad, upon whom be peace, came to their people. They did not claim finality, universality or timelessness for the message they brought. Even Muhammad, upon whom be peace, remained geographically restricted to a very small area of the world, though the message he brought and the example he set were for all mankind and for all time. That being so, a global confrontation between Islam and kufr is in the end inevitable. It seems to me that this global confrontation between Islam and kufr is the unfinished business of history.
Just how and when this global confrontation will come about is a matter for speculation. It is important for us to realise that history is moving inexorably towards such a confrontation and that the Ummah must prepare for it, relish the prospect, and develop a zest and appetite for it. In a sense this confrontation is in fact a continuous feature of all history. The history of Islam, after the khulafa’ al-rashidoon, is the history of progressive deviation of Muslim political power from the norms established by the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and by the Qur'an. Nevertheless, the same deviant Muslim political power was largely responsible for many heavy blows inflicted on kufr in many parts of the world and for the spread of Islam from the shores of the Atlantic to the depths of the Pacific. It also reached the farthest corners of Africa. However, being essentially and progressively deviant, Muslim political power was bound to run out of steam, to weaken and eventually to yield to the forces of kufr.
It is not my purpose here to show in detail the correlation between the progressive decline of Muslim political power and the equally progressive emergence of the political power of kufr. It is, however, a fact of history that this has occurred. During the last 200 years or more, beginning perhaps with the fall of Spain, all Muslim areas of the world and their centres of political, administrative and economic power have passed into the control and domination of kufr. This is the significance of the era of colonialism and imperialism to us, the Muslims, although it is true that non-Muslim areas were also captured and colonised by the same force. In non-Muslim areas it was merely a case of powerful centres of kufr overcoming weaker centres of kufr. The fact that these forces were aware of the underlying and essential nature of the conflict between Islam and kufr is borne out by their drive to Christianise pagan Africa and by the use of the Church as an arm of the colonial imperial policies of the European powers.
It is my contention, or understanding of history, that the world is moving inexorably towards a global confrontation between haq and baatil, between Islam and kufr. For this confrontation to take place it is essential that there should be a global polarisation between the forces of Islam and those of kufr. The cyclical pattern of history through successive conflicts and confrontations between Islam and kufr demands that kufr should emerge in a powerful, challenging and defiant role. For a global confrontation it is necessary that the power of kufr should become globally centralised, organised, arrogant and dominant.
It is my submission that this is precisely what has happened. Today the western civilisation is the global umbrella for the unity of kufr. Kufr has existed in all parts of the world for most of history. Throughout history it has also thrown up various civilisations. All these earlier civilisations emerged and thrived in such geographically limited areas as Egypt, China, India, Peru,Mexico, Mesopotamia and Greece. The western civilisation also began thus on the European continent. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss the factors that have turned the European civilisation into a global civilisation; the essential drive of the western civilisation towards the destruction and disintegration of the human personality and society, including its own, is discussed in my paper Integration and disintegration in the politics of Islam and kufr. But the globalisation of an essentially destructive force under the guise of a ‘civilisation' is a major tragedy of history and needs some explanation.
The factor with which the west identifies itself most, and on the basis of which it claims the right to global supremacy, is its superior technology. This, the west also claims, is a reflection of its superior approach to scientific inquiry. The non-western world has become so dazzled by the west's technological achievements, and the accompanying propaganda about their alleged invincibility, that the bogey of technology needs to be examined and buried for good. This, however, is not the place for developing this argument at any length. All we need to note here is that what passes for ‘western science and technology' is in fact the cumulative fruit of man's endeavour throughout history to overcome his physical environment. When we look carefully at the foundations of modern science and mathematics, we will find that these were all laid in non-western cultures all over the world. The fact is that the bulk of the sciences and accompanying technologies are non-western, if indeed it matters whether they are western or non-western. What happened was that western man emerged from his own Dark Ages and medieval preoccupation when the sciences and related technologies were ripe for a major take-off and exponential growth. The west has merely capitalised on the heritage of all mankind and, typically, claims that all of it is western. Mankind would have reached the present or a comparable level of scientific and technological attainment at about this time. It is a cruel misfortune that mankind has reached these levels of scientific and technological achievement at a time when the world's most destructive civilisation, the western civilisation, is in the ascendant. Thus modern science and technology, far from being a gift of the west to mankind, are in fact a gift from mankind to the west. The west has used this gift in the most cruelfashion possible, as cruel indeed as only the west is capable of being. The development of nuclear weapons, their use at the end of the second world war and the west's threat to use them again in a conflict between the two wings or factions of the western civilisation itself are evidence of the west's destructive and self-destructive urges. Western man has misused science and technology to acquire a global dimension for his civilisation. It is thus that kufr has become globalised, with its power concentrated in a small number of diverse centres.
The political power of kufr requires examination, because the existence of conflicts among its centres of power in the west gives the impression of diversity. The first point that needs to be noted is that “the west” is no longer a geographical term. The major centres of western power are the US, the Soviet Union and their respective European clients. Other important centres of western power are China, Japan, Canada, India, Israel, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Political control over the rest of the world is exercised through an international system of dependent and weak nation-States. The two major centres of western power, the US and the Soviet Union, compete for influence and resources, and also engage in conflicts. Increasingly, these conflicts are becoming stage-managed affairs with the two parties recognising and respecting each other's ‘vital interests'. The US and the Soviet Union also arrogate to themselves the title of ‘superpowers'. What they imply by this is that they have enough ‘power' to achieve any or all of their goals in the international system against any combination of opposing forces. Within the house of kufr the superpowers are indeed supreme.
The superpowers also merit a closer examination. Their most widely known feature is their military strength. In the modern world this means the possession of continually updated nuclear weapons and delivery systems, capable of reaching any target on earth. The superpowers also possess massive ‘conventional' forces made up of highly trained and well-equipped professional soldiers capable of fighting on land, at sea and in the air. Such military strength is backed up by the superpowers' own vast economic resources and access to and control of the economic resources of others. Presiding over these enormous military capabilities are ruthless political machines. The political machines are made up of vast state bureaucracies and other highly organised and skilled agencies of internal and external repression. More than all this, each superpower today is equipped with a ‘philosophy'. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine and evaluate the ‘philosophies' of the two superpowers of today. The only factor that we need to note about them is that the differences between them are superficial and irrelevant: both belong to the same secular trend in history, both are immoral and largely amoral, and both are bastions of crass materialism. The most important point about the superpowers themselves is that they have ‘followers' in all parts of the world.
These followers of kufr are not, sad to say, all kuffar; a large number of them are in fact Muslim. Most of the world's Muslim societies have become dual-standard societies. Islamic institutions at the village level and at the level of the community masajid still survive and function; these institutions, supported by zakah and sadaqah funds, continue to meet the purely religious needs of the traditional Muslim societies. All the other social, economic, administrative and political institutions of traditional Muslim societies have disappeared altogether and been replaced by western-style institutions. The new western-style institutions are manned entirely by a new western-educated elite. For the purpose of this paper we can safely assume that the western-educated elite is entirely an instrument of kufr in Muslim societies. Individuals in this elite are of course all Muslim; many of them are often pious and even, in a perverse sense,muttaqi. As a social and economic class, however, this elite is a creation of the west and has always served the interests of the west. It does not consciously set out to serve the west; sometimes it even uses a good deal of anti-western rhetoric. What it does not know, and is incapable of realising, is that its understanding of its own interests and the interests of its societies is so fashioned by its western education and upbringing that these automatically correspond with the interests of the west. The chief vehicles of the pursuit of western interests in the post-colonial era are ‘education', ‘modernisation' and ‘development'. The western-educated elite understands all these terms in the meanings given to them by the west; it in fact accepts the ‘philosophy' of the west. It matters little that a ‘fringe' of this elite calls itself leftist, socialist, or even communist. Equally, it matters little that another ‘fringe' of this elite callsitself ‘Islamic' and flocks to the ‘Islamic parties'. So long as the lifestyle of the elite is largely western, this elite must be regarded as the instrument of kufr in Muslim societies. An important point that bears repetition is that most members of the elite are individually believing Muslims, but that as a social, economic and political class, the elite is part and parcel of kufr. It is through this elite that the entire Ummah today is dominated by kufr.
The tactic that has succeeded in persuading large numbers of Muslims to become willing instruments of kufr also merits attention. Modern kufr has disguised itself as science, philosophy, technology, democracy and ‘progress'. Western kufr has even retained a nominal belief in God; “so help me God” says every non-believing American president in his inauguration. Western man has reconciled religion with kufr simply by accepting that some low-level ‘belief' in God and other rituals of religion is a useful subculture in a secular society. Even the religious establishment of the west has accepted the supremacy of the secular world. There is no religious leadership or movement in the west trying to overturn the secular world. This type of subservient religion is good for the west's image and fools its Muslim followers into believing that the west is ‘religious' or that, at the very least, there is ‘religious freedom' in the west. The westernised elite in the Ummah has, consciously or not, become part of the drive to reduce Islam to this same level. This would mean the permanent secularisation of Muslim societies, the permanent domination of the west, in short the permanent supremacy of kufr over Islam.
In recent years I have repeatedly argued that the present political map of the Ummah has been so drawn by the western colonial powers as to ensure their continued domination over the lands and peoples of Islam. The Ummah has been parcelled into small nation-states. The political, administrative and economic systems of these nation-states are all western. Their educational systems are western. The people in charge of these nation-states are western-educated, either in the west itself or in western-style universities in their own countries. The armed forces and administrative cadres are trained in western precepts of ‘good government'. The feudal-capitalist economies are dependent on western economies and western-controlled world markets. It is probably no exaggeration to say that the post-colonial ‘independent' nation-states of today are more dependent on the west now than they were in the heyday of colonialism.
It is not my purpose here today to go into the details of the exact mechanisms of dependence and vulnerability of these nation-states. The only point I want to make, and make with all the emphasis at my command, is that all the nation-states of today, even those that call themselves ‘Islamic', are in fact inseparable parts of the worldwide “house of kufr”. Neither these nation-states nor their political, economic and social systems belong to the mainstream of Islamic history. They do not, and cannot be made to, represent either Islam or the Muslims. They are an insufficient foundation on which to begin to rebuild the house of Islam. They are a creation and an arm of the conspiracy of kufr to ensure that the power of Islam and the Ummah is permanently subdued, broken and eventually destroyed.
It can give us no pleasure to assign the modern Muslim nation-states, all 40 of them, to the “house of kufr”. But to do so is only to face facts as they really are. Any failure to recognise the contemporary situation accurately will only prolong the present agony of the Ummah and postpone the day when Islam takes control and begins to guide the destiny of all mankind. In fact the assigning of the 40 nation-states to the “house of kufr” is no loss to Islam or the Muslims. The realisation that the Ummah has no interest in the present state of the world releases us from all kinds of constraints. It enables us to look at the map of the world in its ‘raw state'. The only frontier that we recognise is the frontier between Islam and kufr. To draw this frontier through our own homes is painful indeed; it is, however, an operation that must be performed. A small amputation today is the only way to save the Ummah from being crippled and from the indignity of permanent subservience to kufr. If the operation is carried out in the full knowledge of its spiritual dimension, then the apparent pain turns into great pleasure. We need hardly remind ourselves that in the earliest days of Islam, the new Muslims came from largely kafir households and tribal backgrounds. The line between Islam and kufr in Makkah and Madinah ran through families and households; Islam set fathers and sons on opposite sides, brother against brother, and often husbands and wives against one another. The Ummah at present is a body suffering from partial paralysis through some of its members having become instruments of kufr in the house of Islam. The operation that rids the body of this paralysis and returns it to full health, control of itself and control of its environment is an essential step that the Ummah has to undertake.
The operation seems bigger than it really is. If we look at the Ummah today, the cancer of secularism is really only a thin veneer over a solid mass of Islam and Muslims. The Muslim masses have never deserted Islam and will never do so. The deviation is restricted to a small elite, the western-educated and the wealthy, who have done so well out of the westernisation of our societies, our institutions and our economic systems. The culture of nakedness and alcoholism is also restricted to the politically dominant classes, the civil and military officers, and the affluent. Once the traditional Islamic society reasserts its deep roots in history, the weeds of kufr will wilt and vanish.
It is my view that a turning-point in history has been reached. This turning-point has to be defined and clearly understood. It is the moment when the globalisation of kufr has been completed and it is time for Islam to begin to challenge the world hegemony of kufr. I believe that the Islamic Revolution in Iran is the first defeat of kufr at the hands of Islam since the globalisation of kufr in the shape of the western civilisation. If the Islamic Revolution were only an ‘Iranian' event, for the limited purpose of securing the overthrow of a particularly tyrannical ruler and his replacement with a more ‘Islamic' regime, then I do not believe that it would have been necessary for anyone, in Iran or outside, to take very much notice of it. It would not have been necessary for the centres of kufr to pay Islamic Iran so much attention and to spend so much time, cunning and military and other resources in an attempt to destroy it and to prevent its influence from reaching the rest of the Ummah. If the Islamic Revolution were limited by goals, methods, application or worldview, then kufr would control and confine it like a fire in an isolated outhouse of a large empire.
We know, of course, that there were those in or close to the leadership of the Islamic Revolution who did not perceive the universality of the Revolution. This was true of those of the westernised elite and its liberal and nationalist wings who supported the Revolution. They had their heyday immediately after the Revolution, and history will remember their role in the premiership of Mehdi Bazargan and the presidency of Abol Hasan Bani-Sadr. There were others who took the view that the Revolution was ‘Islamic' only in so far as Islam represented the common culture of the people of Iran, but that Islam offered no solution to the problems of a modern society. They held that for the solution of their problems the people of Iran would have to follow the Marxist or Maoist prescriptions to end capitalist exploitation and solve the problems of poverty, oppression, exploitation and political legitimacy. This was the position of the Mujahideen-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), now known in Iran as “the Munafiqeen”. For the MKO and the leftists, the Islamic Revolution was only the first leg of a Marxist revolution to follow. They tried to achieve this by waging war on the Islamic leadership. These and other groups in Iran were those parts of Iranian society that we have identified as essentially belonging to the global “house of kufr”.
It is my view that if the liberals, the nationalists, the MKO and other leftist and secular groups had not acted so precipitately and had they not been so impatient for immediate control of the Revolution, they might have retained considerable influence in post-Revolutionary Iran. It was essentially their intolerance of the leadership of the ulama that led to their early exposure, defeat and humiliation. It was their counter-revolutionary campaign, supported and encouraged no doubt by the CIA and the KGB, that led to the ulama of Iran taking full and complete control of the Revolution and the new Islamic State. This complete and unchallenged control of the ulama was necessary for the emergence of the Islamic Revolution as the leading edge of the worldwide Islamic movement to challenge and defeat the worldwide power and influence of kufr.
It appears to me that Islamic Iran is still in the early stages of its transformation into the head of a global Islamic movement. The demands that such a role makes upon the Islamic State are still little understood in Iran. The desire to play this role is at present expressed in rhetoric about the wahdah of the Ummah and with deep and genuine hostility towards both the superpowers and their clients and agents in the world of Islam. The war imposed by the Ba‘athist regime in Iraq has also helped to define the borders between Islam and kufr. The secular regimes of the Muslim nation-states have one and all supported Saddam Hussain as part and parcel of the globalised power of kufr. Thus the war has helped to define the world more sharply for Iran. Yet there is still a certain residual romanticism in some quarters of Islamic Iran towards such totally secular and kafir movements as non-alignment. A related problem inIran is the diversion of attention caused by the imposed war. The problems of the Islamic movement in the world outside Iran have therefore received little or no attention so far.
On the whole, time is on the side of the Islamic State. The Muslim Ummah neither lost the initiative of history in a day, nor can it recapture it in a short time. Islam can take several years more consolidating its base in Iran. The problem, however, is that the secular regimes have already developed a brand of ‘Islam' that we may call ‘American Islam'. They are spending huge sums of money on the establishment and running of ‘Islamic institutions' in all parts of the world. These ‘Islamic institutions', among them many mosques and their imams, accept the supremacy of the secular order being created by the nation States and their superpower masters. Such ‘Islamic institutions' are being equipped with highly-paid ‘Islamic bureaucracies' that have vested interests, careers and prospects to defend and promote. The ‘Islamic parties' that participate in opposition ‘united fronts' with secular parties or take office in coalition with such groups or under monarchs and military dictators are those that accept, however innocently or mistakenly, the supremacy of kufr over Islam. Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, this subservient ‘Islamic' establishment throughout the world has been engaged in a propaganda war against Islamic Iran. Parts of this ‘subservient Islam' also claim to be ‘Islamic movements'.Their influence is limited and their failures are monumental.
The secular order attributes the failures of subservient ‘Islam' and of the ‘Islamic parties' to Islam itself. It is claimed by the secular order in our societies that Islam was never meant for Statecraft or politics. This view is supported by contrasting the obvious failures of the ‘Islamic parties' with the secularists' own ‘achievements' as nationalists and as leaders of national parties that secured ‘independence' and created nation-states. Some of these leaders are folk heroes acclaimed as ‘fathers of the nation'. The ‘Islamic parties' have found the ‘national' charisma and standing of such men as Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Gamal Abd al-Nasser too daunting to challenge. The result is that the successors of such men have easily outmanoeuvred and outwitted the ‘Islamic leaders', who had less charisma, less political skill and fewer ‘achievements' to their credit. Thus the direct and indirect control of kufr over Muslim societies is complete. Saudi cash, Pakistani military guile and the less astute political skills of other regimes in Muslim nation-states are now trying to give an ‘Islamic' gloss to what is essentially the dominance of kufr. In this situation Iran has less time in which to overcome its present problems before turning its attention to the rest of the Ummah.
Another factor will also cause the pressure on Iran to grow. This concerns the greatly enhanced expectations of the Muslim masses. Despite the propaganda and a cobweb of lies woven by the west, its ‘Muslim' allies and the nation-states, enough news of the achievements of the Islamic Revolution has reached the Muslim masses throughout the world to make them curious. Nothing succeeds like success, goes the proverb. After all, what is it about the west that has attracted a worldwide following? It is the west's many achievements and the west's ability to make people believe that success only comes to those who emulate the west. Political and economic dominance has given the west control over resources to be made available to those who follow its road to ‘success'. This road has led the west to global dominance, but the same road has also led the Muslim followers of the west to a permanent state of subservience, sycophancy, humiliation and hypocrisy. The Muslim masses have realised this.
They can now see that the dawn of ‘independence' was a false dawn; that the new rulers from among the westernised elite are in most respects worse than the direct colonial rulers were. This realisation, despite their imperfect knowledge of the achievements of the Islamic Revolution, has raised the hopes of the Muslim masses. The Muslim masses throughout the world have now realised, however superficially, that the Islamic Revolution offers them a way out of the dominance of kufr.
Another point that must be made clear is that having Muslim functionaries does not make a political system ‘Islamic'. This point is of the greatest importance. Nearly all the political systems that exist in the Muslim nation-states today are the creations of kufr. The westernised Muslim elite that now runs these kafir political systems is playing the political role of the kuffar. The greatest political kufr of the modern world is nationalism, followed closely by democracy (“sovereignty of the people”), socialism (“dictatorship of the proletariat”), capitalism and “free will”. All political systems based on one or more of these ideas, emotions or philosophies are part and parcel of kufr. The fact that such systems are mostly run by Muslim rulers makes no difference. This is why the war imposed by Ba‘athist Iraq upon Islamic Iran is a war between kufr and Islam although the soldiers on both sides are Muslim. It is a measure of the success of the global power of kufr that it can secure Muslim leaders and Muslim soldiers to fight Islam.
In this situation the most important object of our attention must be the performance of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in its dealings with kufr. At this stage, after only five years, no other achievement (or failure) of the Islamic Revolution has much relevance. This is especially so for the Ummah outside Iran. Muslims living in the world outside Iran are all living under the dominance of kufr. The first and foremost step that the Muslims living in all parts of the world have to take is to rid ourselves of the dominance of kufr. Kufr will not give up its dominance over Muslim societies unless it is confronted and defeated by the superior power of Islam. The question we must ask is, has the Islamic Revolution successfully confronted and defeated the power and influence of kufr in Iran?
The power of kufr in Iran, like the power of kufr everywhere, was represented by the western civilisation. The west controlled everything in Iran. It controlled the political and administrative systems, the armed forces, the police, the economy, foreign trade and agriculture. More than this, the west had managed to westernise Iran to a greater extent than any other part of the non-western world. The dominance of kufr over Iran was complete and total. This extremity of control and dominance was also a unique feature of Iran before the Islamic Revolution.
Today all observers of the Iranian scene are agreed not only that the west has lost political and economic control and dominance over Iran, but that Iranian society has undergone a complete transformation. I have time neither to deal with the sociology of the Islamic Revolution nor to analyse the psychology of a generation of Iranian women who have abandoned their western ‘emancipated' state of nakedness for the security and dignity of the chador. There is no time to peep behind the motivations of a whole generation of Iranian youth that has abandoned its western lifestyle of permissiveness and arrogant pursuit of self-interest, and instead embraced Islam in its entirety. The fact of the matter is that Iran after the Islamic Revolution is a totally transformed society. The western culture that so permeated every level of Iranian society before the Islamic Revolution has virtually disappeared from public view.Those still clinging to their western preferences now live as outcasts in an Islamic society. The few traces of western culture that survive do so as residual traces of filth in an otherwisemuttaqi society. The defeat and humiliation of the liberals, the munafiqeen and the Tudeh (Communist) Party have also removed the more resistant and deeply imbedded traces of kufr.
There is no doubt, and the evidence is so overwhelming that there can be no doubt, that the Islamic Revolution has inflicted a massive defeat on kufr in Iran. The Islamic Revolution in Iranis the first defeat of the western civilisation at the hands of Islam. Already the history of Islam was replete with victories over kufr, but Islam had not triumphed over kufr since the global role of kufr was taken over by the western civilisation. As such the Islamic Revolution is the first victory of Islam over the globally organised power of kufr. It may be an exaggeration to say that all the earlier victories of Islam were over local and limited manifestations of kufr. This is the first victory of Islam since the globalisation of the power and dominance of kufr in the western civilisation. The west has acknowledged the global nature of this confrontation by launching a worldwide campaign to limit the influence of the Islamic Revolution. The west is alsoa full partner in the war imposed upon Islamic Iran by the kufr and shirk of Arab nationalism in Iraq, supported and paid for by all other Arab and Muslim nation-states.
We must conclude, therefore, that the victory of the Islamic Revolution over kufr in Iran is complete and total, and that the Islamic Revolution also represents the beginning of a global confrontation between Islam and kufr, between truth and falsehood, between haq and baatil.
If this indeed is case then we, the Muslims of the world, are faced with the greatest challenge, opportunity and responsibility that Allah subhanahu wa ta‘ala has ever offered to a people. No event in history has ever before captured the imagination of the Ummah as the Islamic Revolution in Iran has done. And no event in Islamic history has frightened the global arrogance of kufr more than the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Thus, for the first time ever, the global power of Islam is pitted against the global power and arrogance of kufr. This indeed is the greatest confrontation of the two opposing forces that history has ever known.
Unique in its magnitude though this confrontation is, it is typical in other ways of all previous confrontations between the two opposing forces. On the side of kufr are all the usual advantages of preponderance of organised and mobilised power, arsenals of deadly weapons, and unlimited material resources. On the side of Islam there is the unarmed Ummah of the oppressed and the weak. For this is exactly the situation that existed in Iran before the Revolution. There was the mighty monarchical nation-state, armed to the teeth with deadly weapons supplied by kufr, and there was the unarmed population of the oppressed and the weak. The clash between these climaxed during 1978 and ended in the triumph of the weak and the oppressed over the great and mighty in the early part of 1979. It is this victory of Islam over kufr that the world has called the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It is precisely the kind of victory over kufr that was first achieved by the last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, upon whom be peace, and his companions 1,400 years ago. It is also precisely the kind of victory that the Ummah outside Iran would like to achieve over the global kufr of our time, the western civilisation. The permanent domination of Islam by kufr is not acceptable to the Ummah and the Muslim masses anywhere.
How is this to be achieved? The Islamic Revolution in Iran, if it is a manifestation of the eternal truth of Islam, must also include the answer to this central question of our time. It does. But the answer is not to be found in a neat package; the secret is imbedded in the totality of the Islamic Revolution. The Islamic Revolution is a deep, multi-dimensional, all-inclusive and highly successful experience of a part of the Muslim Ummah. It is effective and successful at so many points and at so many levels that a degree of simplification is essential for conceptualisation.
The requirement of conceptualisation is to derive a simple repeatable model of the Islamic Revolution. No model is ‘Islamic' or ‘scientific' if it is not repeatable. The whole purpose of the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was to provide a repeatable model of a head-on collision between Islam and kufr from which Islam emerged triumphant and was consolidated in an Islamic state. What is known today as the Sunnah of the Prophet may also be called “the method of the Islamic Revolution” or “how to defeat kufr with limited manpower and resources”. The Sunnah of the Prophet is binding on us not only in matters of prayer and personal piety, but also at least as much in the matter of confronting and defeating kufr in a prolonged struggle.
For the Ummah outside Iran almost the only feature of the Islamic Revolution in Iran that is important and relevant is the victory of Islam over kufr. The Islamic movement in Iran is the only Islamic movement in modern times that has openly, clearly and unambiguously identified kufr in all its dimensions, including the local instruments of kufr, the westernised elite who were nominally Muslim. All shades of kufr have been identified, from nationalism, the nation-state and political parties, to capitalism, feudalism, modernism, and the western culture of nakedness, free will and liberal values. No shade or influence of kufr has been left unchallenged and undefeated. Three other achievements of the Islamic Revolution are of concern to the Ummah and the Islamic movement outside Iran. These are the setting up of the Islamic State and its institutions, the transformation of the society from corruption as its permanent condition to taqwa as its dominant habit, and the fearless waging of the war imposed by its external enemies. Let us call these the primary achievements of the Islamic Revolution. All other achievements of the Islamic Revolution are secondary.
There are many secondary goals that have yet to be achieved. The importance of the primary achievements is that, before the Revolution, these must also be the stated goals of the Islamic movement that strives for Islamic Revolution. All these primary goals have to be achieved before an Islamic movement can claim to have brought about an “Islamic Revolution”. A clear understanding of these primary goals also helps to prevent the diversion of the attention of the Revolution to secondary goals. Indeed, the Revolution may even fail to achieve many of the secondary goals immediately. Once the primary goals have been secured, the secondary goals can be spread in time and assigned to the Islamic State itself or to the new revolutionary institutions. It is also possible that some of the secondary goals require the emergence of a wider consensus in the new situation after the Revolution. This appears to have happened in Iran over some important legislative measures that were held up in the first Majlis. The evolution of solutions to such problems as banking, investment, savings, land reform and the extent of private ownership has clearly demonstrated the maturity of outlook of the leadership and the advantages of distinguishing between primary and secondary goals. Many of the secondary goals not only need the emergence of a new consensus but also a degree of newly-acquired experience. The Islamic Revolution is a total revolution. In the first round of the Revolution the primary goals must be achieved. Since the primary goals are all achieved in the face of powerful and long-entrenched forces of kufr, evil, corruption, immorality and foreign domination, a campaign of counter-revolution is expected and inevitable. The Revolution must have the power in depth to defeat counter-revolutionary activity in the areas of primary goals. The ability to defend these primary achievements against counter-revolution is an essential quality of the Islamic Revolution. Secondary counter-revolutionary activities by such elements as some of the bazaaris (merchants), or the liberals and bureaucrats, can be absorbed, or even ignored, just as secondary goals can be postponed or compromised for the time being.
Let us restate the primary achievements of the Islamic Revolution in Iran:
1. The total defeat of kufr in all its dimensions, especially its political, military and economic power;
2. The setting up of an Islamic State and its institutions under the leadership of an Imam;
3. The transformation of the society from jahiliyyah to taqwa; and
4. The relentless prosecution of war against the internal and external enemies of Islam.
It is not a coincidence that the Islamic Revolution has achieved precisely those primary goals that the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, had achieved by the end of his prophetic mission. Islam and the small Ummah that the Prophet led had defeated kufr, had set up an Islamic State, had transformed the Arab jahiliyyah into a muttaqi society, and had waged a relentless war against the enemies of Islam. These primary achievements of the Islamic Revolution are precisely in line with the Sunnah and the Seerah of the Prophet of Islam, upon whom be peace.
A unique feature of the primary goals and achievements approach is its completely objective and empirical basis. If kufr has been defeated then that defeat must be obvious; if an Islamic State has been established, then that fact must be obvious; if a society's normal condition has changed from corruption to taqwa, then the transformation must be visible; if war is being waged against external enemies, then this must be obvious from the war, the preparation for jihad, or the Islamic State's attitude towards the enemies of Islam. In this approach the place for subjective judgement is reduced to a minimum. There can be few in the world today who deny that the Islamic Revolution in Iran has achieved all these primary goals. The second unique feature of the primary goals of the Islamic Revolution is that no Muslim, whatever his fiqh, can deny their validity. No Muslim can deny the need to eradicate kufr from a Muslim society, no Muslim can deny the need to establish an Islamic State led by an imam/khalifah; no Muslim can deny the need to end corruption and immorality and make the society muttaqi; and no Muslim can deny the need to wage jihad against the enemies of Islam and the Islamic State.
Having achieved these primary goals, every Muslim society is free to define its secondary goals in terms of its own school of thought and other social, economic and political preferences allowed in Islam. In this framework the wahdah of the Ummah becomes simply a matter of the common pursuit of the primary goals of the Ummah, and the instrument of this pursuit is the Islamic movement. The Islamic Revolution is that point in time when the Islamic movement overthrows the established power of kufr and proceeds to secure the other primary goals. The primary goals of the Ummah also link all Muslims with the primary roots of the Islamic movement in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet, upon whom be peace. The primary goals of the Ummah and the primary roots of the Islamic movement also correspond with the constant values of Islam. The secondary goals also relate to and correspond with the dynamic factors in the Islamic movement, in the Islamic Revolution or in the Islamic State.
The only further point we need to note here is that some failures arising from mistakes of policy or conduct attributable to human error or judgement are essential features of the Islamic movement, the Revolution and the State. These are usually corrected with understanding and tolerance, and do not deflect the Ummah from the pursuit of its primary goals. Even the presence of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, among the Muslims did not prevent the occurrence of such failures. This was most dramatically demonstrated at the Battle of Uhud.
The formulation of the primary goals also has the great contemporary advantage of allowing us to recognise clearly who is and who is not in the Ummah today. The most important parts of the Ummah that we have to recognise clearly are those that are active and persistent instruments of the global power of kufr. We have already recognised the nation-states in Muslim parts of the world as parts of the global “house of kufr”. We know that substantial parts, though not all, of the westernised elites do not accept the primary goals of the Ummah and the Islamic movement. Muslims of these elites are often ‘good Muslims' personally, but nearly always oppose the primary goals of Islam politically, socially and economically. The largest, most important and most powerful category of Muslims that are active and persistent instrument of kufr in the Ummah today is that of the regimes and rulers in Muslim countries. There is no exception to this rule, and it would therefore be unfair to name only some of them. Most of them are honest secular nationalists and make no pretence to any Islamic commitment. A handful, however, have armed themselves with ‘Islamisation' programmes while at the same time they are open, active and unashamed allies of the greatest power of kufr on earth, the United States of America. These munafiq regimes are openly and unreservedly opposed to the primary goals of Islam. They are not trying to defeat kufr and have no intention of ever fighting kufr. They, their states and their political and economic systems are subservient to the powers of kufr, and yet they want the Ummah to believe that their states are also ‘Islamic States'. They have opened the doors of their societies to wholesale westernisation. They are themselves corrupt, and their policies are designed to spread corruption throughout their societies. They are pillars of secularism, capitalism, socialism and liberalism, and want to give an Islamic cover to such blatant kufr. They have no interest in transforming their societies from corruption to taqwa. Their interests are better served by the spread and permanence of corruption. They do not and cannot fight the enemies of Islam because they themselves, and often their states as well, are the creations of the enemies of Islam, who also ‘guarantee' their existence and survival. Such states, their regimes, rulers, and political, economic and social systems are destined for the rubbish-dumps of history, insha'Allah.
There is, however, a category of our brothers with whom we must deal less harshly. These are the highly motivated and committed brothers who are active in what may be called “partial Islamic movements”. These ‘Islamic movements' have roots in the colonial period and are largely limited to the urban ‘Islamic fringe' of the westernised elite. These movements, some of them ‘Islamic parties', have not pursued primary goals. They have not identified kufr in all its internal and external dimensions. They want to set up ‘Islamic States' but they go about it in a wishy-washy western-style ‘democratic' fashion. They do not confront corruption; their workers often serve the corrupt regimes and rulers; they work with other corrupt and secular political groups. And of course they have no chance of fighting the external enemies of Islam. Some of them even regard the United States as an actual or potential ‘friend of Islam'. Nearly all of them believe that their ‘Islamic movement' cannot do without Saudi cash and other official patronage.
This brings me to the last part of my argument at this historic seminar. The primary achievements of the Islamic Revolution in Iran are the “output” of the Revolution. We must now discuss, briefly, the composition of the “input”, or the makeup of the Islamic movement, in Iran.
It seems that in Iran, because of the peculiar religious and political history of that country, there emerged a body of ulama who were largely unaffected by the cancer of the western civilisation. The doctrine of taqleed gave the ulama enormous religious following. The ulama of Iran established powerful religious institutions, including madaris, masajid and a network ofsandooq-e qard-e hasana (funds of the borrowers). Those who benefited most from these ‘moral' loans were small traders, farmers and consumers needing to borrow at such times in life as the marriages of daughters or the education of children. The prestige and standing of the ulama in Iranian society was high. They were respected for their learning and admired for their piety. For nearly a hundred years the ulama of Iran had been making decisive forays into politics at critical moments and then withdrawing to Qum. Under the circumstances it was inevitable that sooner or later there would emerge a mujtahid who would brush aside all the theological limitations and declare it the duty of the ulama to exercise political power in the absence of the Twelfth Imam. This is precisely what Imam Khomeini has done. The result is that the political culture of the Shi‘i Muslims of Iran, barren for centuries, has been impregnated with the ultimate motive force to achieve the supremacy of Islam over kufr. Its power, vitality and dynamism have surprised everyone.
The point that is most important to note is that the ulama of Iran were totally unaffected by the kufr, filth and corruption of the western civilisation. When they took the lead, the people ofIran had no reason to suspect their motives. For a body of men who had no experience or tradition of political leadership and government, the ulama have proved to be remarkably competent, versatile and skillful. In fact it is the very first time in all history that the ulama of Islam have led an Islamic movement against the long-established domination of a traditionally Muslim society. It is also the very first time in history that an Islamic movement led by the ulama has secured the total loyalty and unreserved participation of the Muslim masses. I cannot recall another instance in history when the Muslim masses of a country as large as Iran have mobilised so completely under the leadership of their ulama. In my submission the leadership of the ulama must be regarded as the most important ‘input' to the situation that prevailed in Iran in the 20 years before the Islamic Revolution.
What the leadership of ulama has also achieved in Iran is the total removal of the westernised elite from the leadership role. An ‘Islamic fringe' of this elite followed the ulama in the hope of eventually replacing them or reducing them to the role of an ‘upper house'. They did not realise that the ulama had come to stay in control of the legislative, executive and judicial organs of the new Islamic State. The displacement of the westernised elite from the leadership is almost as great an event in the political history of the Muslims as the emergence of theulama to take over the leadership.
Equally significant is the participation of the Muslim masses. In the earliest days of Islam, especially during the lifetime of the Prophet of Islam, upon whom be peace, everybody took part in the affairs of the State. Under malukiyyah politics became an elitist activity. Elitist political systems are essentially weak and feel insecure. Such political systems survive on a mixed diet of oppression at home and aggression abroad. In non-Muslim cultures elitist political systems have used nationalism for the emotional ‘involvement' of the masses. Some of them have also devised voting procedures that allow strictly limited choices between ‘loyal' parties representing the same ruling classes and interests. Others have ‘one-party' systems with voting procedures designed to endorse state policies rather than to elect or express a choice. Only the Islamic Revolution has given the Muslim masses of Iran a continuously participatory political system.
The fusion of the ulama and the Muslim masses has activated the dormant political culture of Islam to such an extent that the energy and power thus released have been enough to defeat the entrenched power of kufr in Iran and to confound the enemies of Islam outside Iran.
It seems to me that this is the basic formula to be followed throughout the world of Islam. The nation-state structure that is the creation of kufr, other centres of the influence of kufr in Muslim societies, together with the westernised elites and ‘Islamic parties', all have to be defeated by a new Islamic movement led by the ulama and followed by the Muslim masses. There is no longer any difference between internal and external kufr and enemies of Islam. They are all the same, intimately and inseparably linked together in a global cobweb of kufr. Just as the power and influence of kufr in the modern world is global, so are the bonds of faith and destiny of the Muslim Ummah. History has come full circle. The global power of kufr waits to be challenged and defeated by the global power of Islam. This is the unfinished business of history—so let us go ahead and finish it.