Imam Khomeini on Hajj and the Ummah’s international relations

Developing Just Leadership

Imam Khomeini

Dhu al-Qa'dah 08, 1424 2004-01-01

Islamic Movement

by Imam Khomeini (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 32, No. 16, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1424)

This month Muslims from all over the world will travel to the Hijaz for the Hajj, which will take place early in February. The worldview of Islam is a dynamic system of thought. It brings to life and modern relevance events that took place a long time ago. One such event is commemorated by Muslims the world over during the Hajj. Yet such powerful events have been reduced to the ritual of sacrificing animals and visiting the holy sites in and around Makkah.

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Hajj has become the centre of struggle between the revolutionary political thought of Imam Khomeini and the ritualized observance upheld by the world’s secular regimes, including the Saudi kingdom. Exactly how the ‘religion’ of Islam and the Sunnah of Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail (a.s.) are related to modern international relations was the central theme of a message to the hujjaj issued by Imam Khomeini in Dhu al-Hijjah 1403 (September 1983). The following is an abridged translation of that message:

In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful...

I congratulate the Muslims of the world on the great Islamic festivity, Eid al-Adha. This holiday brings to the minds of people the place of (Prophet) Ibrahim’s sacrifice – a place which offers a lesson of devotion and struggle in the way of Allah to the progeny of (Prophet) Adam, may the blessings of Allah be upon them all.

This leader of monotheism (tawheed), the great iconoclast (Ibrahim a.s.), taught us that offerings sacrifice for the sake of Allah, aside from monotheistic and religious considerations, also has political dimensions and social values. He taught us to offer our most cherished possessions for religion and the establishment of divine justice. He fostered understanding in Adam’s progeny that Makkah and Madinah were the places of sacrifice by all devotees of religion, places for the promulgation of monotheism and for the rejection of blasphemy.

He taught man to make jihad for truth and instructed us to convey to the world from these great places the virtues of devotion and self-sacrifice. He told the people of the world to forget their own egotisms for the sake of truth, for the establishment of divine justice and for cutting the hands of the world’s infidels. He taught man to sacrifice everything in the spirit of Ismail ibn Ibrahim. This idol-breaker and his beloved son, as well as another idol-breaker, Prophet Muhammad, upon all of whom be peace, taught man to break idols no matter what they are, and that the Ka’aba should be purged and cleansed from idols for as long as the world exists, no matter what the idols are, be they statues, the sun, the moon, animals or man.

No idols are worse or more dangerous than ‘taghuts’ which have been present throughout the course of history, from Adam to Ibrahim and to Muhammad, upon whom be peace, to eternity when the last idol-breaker shall issue the monotheistic cry from the Ka’aba. Are not the present superpowers big idols, which have forced the world to obey and worship them? They impose themselves upon the world through force and deceit. The great Ka’aba is the only place for breaking these idols. Ibrahim and Muhammad, upon whom be peace, raised the cry of monotheism from the Ka’aba, and their descendant the Mahdi will also do so in the world’s last days.

Allah said to Ibrahim: "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men. They will come to thee on foot and [mounted] on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways" (al-Qur’an, 22:27). They are to be purified from all impurities, above all blasphemy as it is said in the Qur’an (9:3): "And an announcement from Allah and his Apostle, to the people [assembled] on the holy day of the great pilgrimage: that Allah and his Apostle dissolve [treaty] obligations with pagans."

We should break idols with our cries, invitations, revelations and assemblies in Makkah. And we should reject all evils, the first of which is the great Satan [the US], lest it be said that there is "noise but few real Hajj pilgrims".

It is hoped that the Hajj pilgrims in Makkah, irrespective of their sects, will pray for the victory of Islam over global blasphemy, and for the vigilance of Muslims and their governments. May Allah show mercy to Muslims, help them to regain the splendour of their religion and cut the hands of world expansionists from their countries. And may Allah shower upon them forgiveness, for He is the most generous forgiver.

Here are some important reminders to the Hajj pilgrims. They must be reiterated, though they have been said time and again.

1. An important duty incumbent upon Hajj pilgrims and the ulama of Hajj caravans is the learning and teaching of Hajj rituals. Any failure in this matter will create such problems as the wasting of Hajj ceremonies. The ulama of Hajj caravans should invite the pilgrims of their caravans to classes set up for instructions on Hajj ceremonies. And Hajj pilgrims should learn them without waste of time. They should observe Hajj with complete understanding.

2. All of us know that it is the ignorance of Muslims about socio-political aspects of Islamic matters that has for the past two centuries in particular paved the way for aggression against Muslim nations by foreign governments. This ignorance is being imposed on oppressed Muslims by the neo-colonial imperialists and their lackeys. Most of the ulama used to think that Islam was separate from politics and that a Muslim should not interfere in political issues. Deceitful plunderers attempted, with the assistance of so-called intellectual elements, to push Islam into isolation as they did with Christianity. They imprisoned the ulama within the framework of religious issues. They confined congregational prayer leaders to mosques and wedding ceremonies, and limited people’s activities to ritual prayers.

3. Among the things that keep the world’s Muslims and other oppressed people from struggling to free themselves from the yoke of imperialists is the widespread propaganda of the agents of the west and the east. This is either as a result of their agents’ own shortsightedness or of their obedience to the dictates of the superpowers. Such propaganda is aimed at convincing the oppressed that the sciences and development are exclusive possessions of the two wings of imperialism and communism, and that they – especially the westerners and recently the Americans – are the superior race, while the rest are inferior. They want to convince us that their development is due to their superiority and that the backwardness of others stems from their inferiority.

4. One of the obstacles barring Muslims from defending their countries is the wide-ranging propaganda aimed at magnifying foreign powers. In the past, through the efforts of the so-called intellectuals, westernized and western-educated people, they made a giant out of Britain. They impressed on the naive governments and oppressed nations that if a harsh word was uttered to a janitor of the British Embassy, Iran would be destroyed and that if the embassy’s flag was hoisted on the rooftop of any convict’s house, he would become immune to punishment. Today, the two powers, especially the US, have replaced that giant and have become even bigger. This is the belief in Muslim States where people think that if something should annoy these two poles, their own countries would be annihilated. Because of these false notions and rumours, Muslims have lost the courage to defend their rights.

5. What is the solution, and what is the responsibility of the Muslims and oppressed for dispelling these illusions? The primary solution, from which emerges all other solutions for cutting the roots of these problems and eradicating corruption, is the unity of Muslims, rather the unity of all oppressed and enslaved peoples in the world. This unity is gained through widespread tabligh and invitation. And the centre for this invitation and tabligh is the holy city of Makkah during the congregation of Muslims to perform the Hajj. This was started by Ibrahim, continued by Muhammad and will be followed by Hadrat Mahdi. It was enjoined on Ibrahim to call people to Hajj to attend to their needs – that is, the political, social, economic and cultural issues of the society – and so that they could witness how God’s Prophet laid upon the altar the fruit of his life for the sake of God. They were called so that they, Adam’s progeny, should follow Ibrahim who broke all the idols and cast aside everything but God.

Everyone should follow the leader of monotheism and recite what was instructed in Surah Tauba to be read at the gathering in Makkah: "an announcement from Allah and his apostle, to the people [assembled] on the day of the great pilgrimage that Allah and His Apostle dissolve [treaty obligations with the pagans" (9:3).

We renounce the infidels during the Hajj rituals. This is a political-religious renunciation that the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, enjoined.

The court alim who considers the slogans of "Down with the US, Israel and the Soviet Union" contrary to Islam should be told that if he considers following Allah and His prophet’s instructions as contrary to Hajj rituals, then he and other pro-US ulama are the ones who are disobeying Allah’s instructions and the prophet’s deeds, by separating Hajj rituals from renunciation of blasphemy. It is they who are forgetting Allah’s orders and His prophet’s instructions for their own earthly interests.

6. Another point that must be noted as the world’s Muslims and the oppressed rise up against international exploiters and expansionists, is that superpowers are implementing their vicious plots either through creation of terror, or by their propaganda, or their treacherous subservience. But if, through their vigilance and unity, nations stand against these powers, they [the superpowers] would not be successful. The living proofs of that in our own region are Iran and Afghanistan. Iran, as you know, had been surrendered to the US and the shah had tied the country to the US in every respect. Iran was one of the US military bases and its army was in the hands of American advisors. Culture was in the hands of mercenaries while the shah, his government and Majlis were but obedient servants. The economy was in its worst state of dependence. The shah was the most powerful policeman in the region, thanks to his affluence and sophisticated military hardware, supported by the US and other lackey States in the region.

However, the Iranian people, empty-handed and relying only on Allah, in a short period of time miraculously broke the idols created by those affected by the west; and they [Iranian people] put an end to the 2,500-year-old tyranny, as well as to the myth created by idolaters. The Afghan people crushed the brute assault of the Soviet Union. They are doing it with the power of faith and by relying on Allah. And it was the committed ulama who expelled France and Britain, which usurped Algeria and Iraq.

These examples are sufficient to remove unfounded terror created by imperialism and the imperialists, and to awaken Muslims and the governments of Muslim States, so that Muslims and their governments become free. They should take a lesson from Iran, which cut the hands of all powers, broke the shackles of imperialism and expelled their advisors and parasites.

7. If, insha’Allah, the unity enjoined by Allah is established among Muslims, the governments of Islamic States, governments of Muslim countries with the backing of their people, can form a joint defensive army with 100 million trained reserves and a tens of millions-strong army. They could thus gain the greater power in the world. It would enable us to free ourselves from the disgrace of bowing before the superpowers and to taste the sweetness of independence and freedom.

Today Iran is determined to train its youth militarily, despite all the present bottlenecks and hindrances. And so far, it possesses some one million trained reserves who would equip and arm themselves to defend their Islamic land when instructed to do so. Islamic and regional countries can do so if they treat their nations as Iran does and stay beside their peoples so that they [the people] can feel reassured of their governments’ intentions as they render services. This would be a prelude to what the great religion of Islam has propounded. We pray to Allah to brighten the eyes of the Muslims with genuine Islam so that the world may know what Islam has brought to the world.

8. Muslims, and especially the oppressed people of the region, should know that Israel will not abandon the idea of dominating Muslim States from the Nile to the Euphrates, despite the changing of figure-heads aimed at deceiving the Palestinian and Lebanese combatants. The US will support an agent such as Israel through which its crimes in the region are being committed. Therefore their political games should not be ignored, and those backing Israel should know that they are stroking the serpent that, given half an opportunity, will poison the region. This venomous serpent must be denied the required opportunity, as the criminal Saddam was denied. If given the chance, Saddam’s threat to the region would be no less than that of Israel. Now that, for the sake of security in the region, this embodiment of corruption [Saddam Hussain] has been brought to the verge of downfall and the war-lord of ‘Qadisiyyah’ has been reduced to a wretched creature, the regional governments should desist from helping him. This would be in their own interest, both from religious and material points of view, since, if placed in a position, he will not show mercy to any of the Gulf States.

9. The Iranian pilgrims at the sacred houses should remember that they are making a pilgrimage to Allah’s house and to the holy shrine of His Prophet, upon whom be peace, from a country that has revolted to expel oppressors and to achieve Islamic objectives. They are under the scrutiny of their Muslim brethren from throughout the world as well as the news agencies and liars.

The propaganda agents of the enemies of Islam are prowling and attentively watching their [Iranian pilgrims’] deeds and recording their sayings. They are intent upon magnifying trivial issues and thus spreading false rumours all over the world. Any minor deviation, fault or error, in addition to its being regarded as a sin before Almighty God and His great Prophet, would also be unforgivable before other Hajj pilgrims. This is because Allah forbids the Islamic Republic, which is formed to establish divine rule based on Qur’anic teachings, would be portrayed in an adverse manner, and slanderers who are waiting to find a pretext against the Islamic Republic would be provided the grounds to spread rumours aimed at blurring the luminous visage of Islam. They should be cautious lest unreasonable conduct and unwarranted utterances mar their character. Everyone should watch his friends and relatives and should follow sound humanitarian Islamic programmes.

O Allah, save us from following the devil and lust. Save us from ambition for status and earthly belongings. Save Muslim States from being afraid of the superpowers and inform them of their Islamic and humanitarian responsibilities.

[First published in Crescent International, October 16-31, 1983.]

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