We recently shared moments of elation and triumph remembering those successful phases of the Islamic Revolution in Iran 40 years ago. This uprising represents an accomplishment of self-respect and dignity for all victims of tyrannical rulers wherever they are in the world. This Islamic transformation in Iran — an ongoing development throughout the past 40 years — exemplifies what all Muslims around the world want very much: an Islamic society governed by a selfless and a muttaqi leadership. The sons and daughters of all Islamic movements are or should be the first to guard and cherish this contemporary Islamic breakthrough in a cutthroat world where the beasts of predatory imperialism and lawless Zionism run amok. This triumph of long-suffering Muslims emerged from a history of “Islamic opposition” within the Muslim world — an Islamic opposition that gradually (throughout the centuries) settled into a quietist adversary to “Muslim” rulers who foisted themselves upon their countrymen.
The revolution (in Shi‘ism) that preceded the revolution (in Iran) was the intellectual mobilization of quietist Shi‘is (the Hujjatiyah/ Halabis) from their non-involvement in leading society into a dynamic Islamic movement that culminated in the toppling of the Shah and the humiliation of his imperialist and Zionist sponsors. This pre-revolution revolution is the lifelong struggle of the late Imam Khomeini (rahmatullahi ‘alayhi). Imam Khomeini and the dedicated ‘ulama’ with him broke with the apolitical Shi‘i scholars and institutions and in doing so captured the imagination of most oppressed peoples and all the rest of the Muslims (with the obvious exception of the Wahhabi Saudis).
Since those early halcyon months of that resounding success of Islamic self-determination the overwhelmed reticent Shi‘is took a back seat or inserted themselves in periphery positions within the Islamic government in Iran. In that periphery they joined other carpetbaggers of the nationalist or liberal ilk. During the imposed war they all shrewdly calculated that the time was not right to take on Imam Khomeini (rahmatullahi ‘alayhi) and the concept of walayah al-faqih. The ones who did oppose the Imam and walayah al-faqih such as the Mujahideen-e Khalq were roundly defeated. After the Ba‘thi-imperialist-Zionist inflicted war, these periphery officials began to move toward the center. Some of them had strong connections to the Hawzah in Qum. They lunged at the political center of the Islamic government during the administrations of both president Khatami and Rafsanjani. And due to the insight and wisdom of Imam Khamenei they recoiled back into their sideline positions — but this time closer to the center of power than they ever were.
During the course of these subtle attempts at delegitimizing walayah al-faqih — a subject so sensitive that no one dare discuss this in public — what are some of our observations about the creeping influences that point to a slow motion coup inside the complex makeup of the up-until-now Islamic government in Iran?
1. Due to the strong residual clout within crucial quarters of a ho-hum Hawzah the title of “Imam” has been denied to Imam Khamenei. Most in the Hawzah (the internal voice) and most in the media (the external voice) refer to Imam Khamenei as Rahbar (leader) or Ayatullah. We remember a time, in the first few years of Imam Khamenei when these absconders from walayah al-faqih. would, in a tone of defamation, refer to him as sayyid or agha!
2. No one who has a public podium or a national audience speaks about khatt-e-imam (the line and orientation of the Imam). That designation is no longer available in the commentaries and analyses of Iranian officialdom.
3. The words mustad‘afin (oppressed) and mustakbirin (oppressors), even though they still scantly appear in the media are, as it seems, also being phased out of the collective mind.
4. The catchphrase “La sunniyah, la shi‘iyah — thawrah, thawrah islamiyah: Not a Sunni (revolution), not a Shi‘i (revolution), (rather) an (definite) Islamic revolution,” no longer reverberates from Islamic Iran to the rest of the Muslim world.
All of these, and other Hujjatiyah mission-creep, have taken their toll on the original character and the initial thrust of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The only redeeming rectitude of this Islamic Revolution is its leader Imam Khamanei and Hizbullah, and all the remaining institutions that solidify this line of the Imam.
All of the above erosion effects and other internal developments in the Islamic Republic did not take hold in a vacuum. Islamic movements that were beholden to Saudi finances and Wahhabi indoctrination contributed to the internal wearing down of the walayah al-faqih activism. The very untimely and ill-fated developments, macro- and micro-managed by the combined religious and military establishments in Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh played out in both Iraq and Syria by nudging the internal political psychology in the Islamic Republic to emphasize their “Shi‘i first” peculiarity. The surreptitious anti-walayah al-faqih factions in the Islamic Republic found willing voices in Syria and Iraq who intimated and stated that al-Ikhwanal-Muslimun are British agents the likes of the Qadiyanis in Pakistan and the Baha’is in Iran! This accusation was justified, in their view, by the fact that some factions of the Ikhwan were fighting the Ba‘th rulers in Syria. This type of accusation is a dangerous generalization that overlooks the fact that if the Ikhwan were agents or underlings of the British or the Americans or even the Israelis they would not have wound up behind bars in Egypt, labeled as a terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab(ian) Emirates, and living virtually as stateless “Islamists” outside their own countries. We are not here to gloss over the numerous mistakes of the Ikhwan or to sweep under the carpet their repetitive miscalculations. Imam ‘Ali (a) says, “You cannot equate those who make a mistake in pursuit of truth and justice [the Khawarij] with those who are on target in their pursuit of inequity and illegitimacy [the Umayyads].”
In this context, the Syrian Arab Republic can be considered as an extension of the Islamic Republic of Iran in as far as the issue of the liberation of Palestine is concerned — and only concerning the issue of the liberation of Palestine. Any effort to break that relationship eventually works out to the benefit of the Zionist regime and its American enabler. The inability of the Ikhwan to understand this simple geopolitical fact led them to be used by regional and international powers. Truth be told, though, that in the case of this writer all attempts via meetings and dialogue between the two sides to end the war in Syria were met by a confusing silence from the side of the Islamic Republic but a willingness from the side of some Ikhwan. And that was during the height of that war. There were bigger fish to fry than Syria! We are not privy to the internal decision making of the Ikhwan, but it is high time for them now to reevaluate their priorities, identify their mistakes and be accountable for their serious political follies. It is also time for the Islamic Republic of Iran to put its liberals, nationalists, and especially sectarians, back in the periphery, or better yet to screen them out of any critical decision-making positions.
The world was and is impressed by the Islamic Revolution in Iran when its “Shi‘ism” was and is quietly entrenched in its struggle and sacrifices — when its actions heralded its words. The world loses interest in an Islamic Revolution when its “Shi‘ism” is a strident slogan and a vociferous mantra with sectarian undertones and nationalist undercurrents.
This is not easy to say, but there is a deep wound in both Syria and Iraq. Some Muslims are asking: why was it tolerable to have US forces get rid of a Ba‘th regime in Iraq and not tolerable for the US to get rid of a Ba‘th regime in Syria? Why is it acceptable for some “Islamists” in Iraq to wheel and deal with Washington, and not acceptable for other “Islamists” in Syria to wheel and deal with Washington? This is one question among many that are out there; there are other similar questions. What are we to do? Are we to leave the answer to the Zionist-imperialist mainstream corporate media to answer the Muslims or are we mature enough to sit down together and answer our own questions in good faith and with honest transparency? The Islamic decision makers in Turkey are in a position to qualify to use their good offices to bring about a comprehensive ceasefire between and among the two sides of this Syria-Iraq quagmire. The time is now for all Muslims of all stripes to ceasefire among themselves and redirect their aim and weapons against their common enemy,
All committed Muslims are but brothers [to each other]. Hence, [whenever they are at odds], reconcile between your two brothers, and remain on guard concerning Allah [His immediate power presence], so that you may be graced with His mercy (49:10).