Islamic Government: Introduction

Developing Just Leadership

Imam Khomeini

Rabi' al-Awwal 19, 1401 1981-01-25

Occasional Paper

by Imam Khomeini

Probably the best known of Imam Khomeini’s works, the book Islamic Government originated in a series of lectures given at Najaf between January 21 and February 8, 1970. The lectures were recorded and transcribed by a student, and then published in book form.

“Islamic Government” is an exact translation of the original Persian title, Hukumat-i Islami. However, the reader should bear in mind that the book does not purport to offer either a complete scheme of Islamic political philosophy or a detailed plan for the establishment and functioning of an Islamic state. Its purpose is narrower and more specific, and geared to the audience to whom the lectures were delivered: students of the religious sciences, who might be expected later to assume positions of influence in Muslim society.

Three major points emerge from the lectures. The first is the necessity for the establishment and maintenance of Islamic political institutions, or to put it differently, the need for subordinating political power to Islamic goals, precepts, and criteria. The second is the duty of the religious scholars (the fuqaha) to bring about an Islamic state, and to assume legislative, executive, and judicial positions within it—in short, the doctrine of “the governance of the faqih” (vilayat-i faqih). The various texts that support this second point are subjected to lengthy review and examination. Finally, Imam Khomeini sets out a program of action for the establishment of an Islamic state, including various measures for self- reform by the religious establishment. All three themes are expounded against a backdrop of particular concern with Iran; hence the occurrence of numerous references to Iran in the course of the general and theoretical discussion.

Accurate translations of Hukumat-i Islami exist in French, Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu. In the fall of 1978, the Joint Publications and Research Service, the translation branch of the U.S. Central intelligence Agency, commissioned an English translation, not of the original Persian text, but of the translation in Arabic. The resulting version, crude and unreliable, was subsequently published in a vulgar and sensational format by Manor Books, a commercial publisher in New York. What follows is an integral and faithful translation of the third edition of the Persian text, published at Najaf in 1391/1971.

THE SUBJECT OF THE GOVERNANCE OF THE FAQIH (vilayat-i faqih1) provides us with the opportunity to discuss certain related matters and questions. The governance of the faqih is a subject that in itself elicits immediate assent and has little need of demonstration, for anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islam will unhesitatingly give his assent to the principle of the governance of the faqih as soon as he encounters it; he will recognize it as necessary and self-evident. If little attention is paid to this principle today, so that it has come to require demonstration, it is because of the social circumstances prevailing among the Muslims in general, and in the teaching institution in particular. These circumstances, in turn, have certain historical roots to which I will now briefly refer.

From the very beginning, the historical movement of Islam has had to contend with the Jews, for it was they who first established anti-Islamic propaganda and engaged in various stratagems, and as you can see, this activity continues down to the present. Later they were joined by other groups, who were in certain respects more satanic than they. These new groups began their imperialist penetration of the Muslim countries about three hundred years ago, and they regarded it as necessary to work for the extirpation of Islam in order to attain their ultimate goals. It was not their aim to alienate the people from Islam in order to promote Christianity among them, for the imperialists really have no religious belief, Christian or Islamic. Rather, throughout this long historical period, and going back to the Crusades, they felt that the major obstacle in the path of their materialistic ambitions and the chief threat to their political power was nothing but Islam and its ordinances, and the belief of the people in Islam. They therefore plotted and campaigned against Islam by various means.

The preachers they planted in the religious teaching institution, the agents they employed in the universities, government educationa1 institutions, and publishing houses, and the orientalists who work in the service of the imperialist states—all these people have pooled their energies in an effort to distort the principles of Islam. As a result, many persons, particularly the educated, have formed misguided and incorrect notions of Islam.

Islam is the religion of militant individuals who are committed to truth and justice. It is the religion of those who desire freedom and independence. It is the school of those who struggle against imperialism. But the servants of imperialism have presented Islam in a totally different light. They have created in men’s minds a false notion of Islam. The defective version of Islam, which they have presented in the religious teaching institution, is intended to deprive Islam of its vital, revolutionary aspect and to prevent Muslims from arousing themselves in order to gain their freedom, fulfill the ordinances of Islam, and create a government that will secure their happiness and allow them to live lives worthy of human beings.

For example, the servants of imperialism declared that Islam not a comprehensive religion providing for every aspect of human life and has no laws or ordinances pertaining to society. It has no particular form of government. Islam concerns itself mainly with rules of ritual purity after menstruation and parturition. It may have a few ethical principles, but it certainly has nothing to say about human life in general and the ordering of society.

This kind of evil propaganda has unfortunately had an effect. Quite apart from the masses, the educated class—university students and also many students at the religious teaching institutions have failed to understand Islam correctly and have erroneous notions. Just as people may, in general, be unacquainted with a stranger, so too they are unacquainted with Islam; Islam lives among the people of this world as if it were a stranger.2 If somebody were to present Islam as it truly is, he would find it difficult to make people believe him. In fact, the agents of imperialism in the religious teaching institutions would raise a hue and cry against him.

In order to demonstrate to some degree how great the difference is between Islam and what is presented as Islam, I would like to draw your attention to the difference between the Qur’an and the books of hadith,3 on the one hand, and the practical treatises of jurisprudence, on the other. The Qur’an and the books of hadith, which represent the sources for the commands and ordinances of Islam, are completely different from the treatises written by the mujtahids4 of the present age both in breadth of scope and in the effect they are capable of exerting on the life of society. The ratio of Qur’anic verses concerned with the affairs of society to those concerned with ritual worship is greater than a hundred to one. Of the approximately fifty sections of the corpus of hadith containing all the ordinances of Islam, not more than three or four sections relate to matters of ritual worship and the duties of man toward his Creator and Sustainer. A few more are concerned with questions of ethics, and all the rest are concerned with social, economic, legal, and political questions—in short, the gestation of society.

You who represent the younger generation and who, God willing, will be of service to Islam in the future must strive diligently all your lives to pursue the aims I will now set forth and to impart the laws and ordinances of Islam. In whatever way you deem most beneficial, in writing or in speech, instruct the people about the problems Islam has had to contend with since its inception and about the enemies and afflictions that now threaten it. Do not allow the true nature of Islam to remain hidden, or people will imagine that Islam is like Christianity (nominal, not true Christianity), a collection of injunctions pertaining to man’s relation to God, and the mosque will be equated with the church.

At a time when the West was a realm of darkness and obscurity—with its inhabitants living in a state of barbarism and America still peopled by half-savage redskins—and the two vast empires of Iran and Byzantium were under the rule of tyranny, class privilege, and discrimination, and the powerful dominated all without any trace of law or popular government, God, Exalted and Almighty, by means of the Most Noble Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), sent laws that astound us with their magnitude. He instituted laws and practices for all human affairs and laid down injunctions for man extending from even before the embryo is formed until after he is placed in the tomb. In just the same way that there are laws setting forth the duties of worship for man, so too there are laws, practices, and norms for the affairs of society and government. Islamic law is a progressive, evolving, and comprehensive system of law. All the voluminous books that have been compiled from the earliest times on different areas of law, such as judicial procedure, social transactions, penal law, retribution, international relations, regulations pertaining to peace and war, private and public law—taken together, these contain a mere sample of the laws and injunctions of Islam. There is not a single topic in human life for which Islam has not provided instruction and established a norm.

In order to make the Muslims, especially the intellectuals and the younger generation, deviate from the path of Islam, foreign agents have constantly insinuated that Islam has nothing to offer, that Islam consists of a few ordinances concerning menstruation and parturition, and that this is the proper field of study for the akhunds.5

There is something of truth here, for it is fitting that those akhunds who have no intention of expounding the theories, injunctions, and world-view of Islam and who spend most of their time on precisely such matters, forgetting all the other topics of Islamic law, be attacked and accused in this manner. They too are at fault; foreigners are not the only ones to be blamed. For several centuries, as might be expected, the foreigners laid certain plans to realize their political and economic ambitions, and the neglect that has overtaken the religious teaching institution has made it possible for them to succeed. There have been individuals among us, the ‘ulama,6 who have unwittingly contributed to the fulfillment of those aims, with the result that you now see.

It is sometimes insinuated that the injunctions of Islam are defective, and said that the laws of judicial procedure, for example, are not all that they should be. In keeping with this insinuation and propaganda, agents of Britain were instructed by their masters to take advantage of the idea of constitutionalism in order to deceive the people and conceal the true nature of their political crimes (the pertinent proofs and documents are now available). At the beginning of the constitutional movement, when people wanted to write laws and draw up a constitution, a copy of the Belgian legal code was borrowed from the Belgian embassy and a handful of individuals (whose names I do not wish to mention here) used it as the basis for the constitution they then wrote, supplementing its deficiencies with borrowings from the French and British legal codes.7 True, they added some of the ordinances of Islam in order to deceive the people, but the basis of the laws that were now thrust upon the people was alien and borrowed.

What connection do all the various articles of the Constitution, as well as the body of Supplementary Law8 concerning the monarchy, the succession, and so forth, have with Islam? They are all opposed to Islam; they violate the system of government and the laws of Islam.

Islam proclaims monarchy and hereditary succession wrong and invalid. When Islam first appeared in Iran, the Byzantine Empire, Egypt, and the Yemen, the entire institution of monarchy was abolished. In the blessed letters that the Most Noble Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) wrote to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and the Shahanshah of Iran,9 he called upon them to abandon the monarchical and imperial form of government, to cease compelling the servants of God to worship them with absolute obedience, and to permit men to worship God, Who has no partner and is the True Monarch. Monarchy and hereditary succession represent the same sinister, evil system of government that prompted the Lord of the Martyrs10 (peace be upon him) to rise up in revolt and seek martyrdom in an effort to prevent its establishment. He revolted in repudiation of the hereditary succession of Yazid,11 to refuse it his recognition.

Islam, then, does not recognize monarchy and hereditary succession; they have no place in Islam. If that is what is meant by the so-called deficiency of Islam, then Islam is indeed deficient. Islam has laid down no laws for the practice of usury, for banking on the basis of usury, for the consumption of alcohol, or for the cultivation of sexual vice, having radically prohibited all of these. The ruling cliques, therefore, which are the puppets of imperialism and wish to promote these vices in the Islamic world, will naturally regard Islam as defective. They must import the appropriate laws from Britain, France, Belgium, and most recently, America. The fact that Islam makes no provision for the orderly pursuit of these illicit activities, far from being a deficiency, is a sign of perfection and a source of pride.

The conspiracy worked out by the imperialist government of Britain at the beginning of the constitutional movement had two purposes. The first, which was already known at that time, was to eliminate the influence of Tsarist Russia in Iran, and the second was to take the laws of Islam out of force and operation by introducing Western laws.12

The imposition of foreign laws on our Islamic society has been the source of numerous problems and difficulties. Knowledgeable people working in our judicial system have many complaints concerning the existing laws and their mode of operation. If a person becomes caught up in the judicial system of Iran or that of analogous countries, he may have to spend a whole lifetime trying to prove his case. In my youth I once encountered a learned lawyer who said, “I can spend my whole life following a litigation back and forth through the judicial machinery, and then bequeath it to my son for him to do the same thing!” That is the situation that now prevails, except, of course, when one of the parties has influence, in which case the matter is examined and settled swiftly, albeit unjustly.

Our present judicial laws have brought our people nothing but trouble, causing them to neglect their daily tasks and providing the occasion for all kinds of misuse. Very few people are able to obtain their legitimate rights. In the adjudication of cases it is necessary not only that everyone should obtain his rights, but also that correct procedure be followed. People’s time must be considered, as well as the way of life and profession of both parties, so that matters are resolved as swiftly and simply as possible.

A case that a shari’a13 judge in earlier times settled in one or two days cannot be settled now in twenty years. The needy, young and old alike, must spend the entire day at the Ministry of Justice, from morning to night, wasting their time in corridors or standing in front of some official’s desk, and in the end they will still not know what has transpired. Anyone who is more cunning, and more willing and able to give bribes, has his case settled expeditiously, but at the cost of justice. Others must wait in frustration and perplexity until their entire lives are gone.

The agents of imperialism sometimes write in their books and their newspapers that the legal provisions of Islam are too harsh. One person was even so impudent as to write that the laws of Islam are harsh because they originated with the Arabs, so that the “harshness” of the Arabs is reflected in the “harshness” of Islamic law!

I am amazed at the way these people think. They kill people for possessing ten grams of heroin and say, “That is the law” (I have been informed that ten people were put to death some time ago, and another person more recently, for possession of ten grams of heroin).14 Inhuman laws like this are concocted in the name of a campaign against corruption, and they are not to be regarded as harsh. (I am not saying it is permissible to sell heroin, but this is not the appropriate punishment. The sale of heroin must indeed be prohibited, but the punishment must be in proportion to the crime.) When Islam, however, stipulates that the drinker of alcohol should receive eighty lashes, they consider it “too harsh.” They can execute someone for possessing ten grams of heroin and the question of harshness does not even arise!

Many forms of corruption that have appeared in society derive from alcohol. The collisions that take place on our roads, and the murders and suicides, are very often caused by the consumption of alcohol. Indeed, even the use of heroin is said to derive from addiction to alcohol. But still, some say, it is quite unobjectionable for someone to drink alcohol (after all, they do it in the West); so let alcohol be bought and sold freely.

But when Islam wishes to prevent the consumption of alcohol—one of the major evils—stipulating that the drinker should receive eighty lashes, or sexual vice, decreeing that the fornicator be given one hundred lashes (and the married man or woman be stoned), then they start wailing and lamenting: “What a harsh law that is, reflecting the harshness of the Arabs!” They are not aware that these penal provisions of Islam are intended to keep great nations from being destroyed by corruption. Sexual vice has now reached such proportions that it is destroying entire generations, corrupting our youth, and causing them to neglect all forms of work. They are all rushing to enjoy the various forms of vice that have become so freely available and so enthusiastically promoted. Why should it be regarded as harsh if Islam stipulates that an offender should be publicly flogged in order to protect the younger generation from corruption?

At the same time, we see the masters of this ruling class of ours enacting slaughters in Vietnam over fifteen years, devoting enormous budgets to this business of bloodshed, and no one has the right to object! But if Islam commands its followers to engage in warfare or defense in order to make men submit to laws that are beneficial for them, and kills a few corrupt people or instigators of corruption, then they ask: “What’s the purpose for that war?”

All of the foregoing represent plans drawn up several centuries ago that are now being implemented and bearing fruit.

First, they opened a school in a certain place,15 and we overlooked the matter and said nothing. Our colleagues also were negligent in the matter and failed to prevent it from being established so that now, as you can observe, these schools have multiplied, and their missionaries have gone out into the provinces and villages, turning our children into Christians or unbelievers.

Their plan is to keep us backward, to keep us in our present miserable state so they can exploit our riches, our underground wealth, our lands, and our human resources. They want us to remain afflicted and wretched, and our poor to be trapped in their misery. Instead of surrendering to the injunctions of Islam, which provide a solution for the problem of poverty, they and their agents wish to go on living in huge palaces and enjoying lives of abominable luxury.

These plans of theirs are so broad in scope that they have even touched the institutions of religious learning. If someone wishes to speak about Islamic government and the establishment of Islamic government, he must observe the principle of taqiya16 and count upon the opposition of those who have sold themselves to imperialism. When this book was first printed, the agents of the embassy undertook certain desperate measures to prevent its dissemination,17 which succeeded only in disgracing them more than before. Matters have now come to the point where some people consider the apparel of a soldier incompatible with true manliness and justice, even though the leaders of our religion were all soldiers, commanders, and warriors. They put on military dress and went into battle in the wars that are described for us in our history; they killed and they were killed. The Commander of the Faithful 18 himself (upon whom be peace) would place a helmet on his blessed head, don his coat of chain mail, and gird on a sword. Imam Hasan19 and the Lord of the Martyrs (peace be upon them) acted likewise. The later Imams did not have the opportunity to go into battle, even though Imam Baqir20 (peace be upon him) was also a warrior by nature. But now the wearing of military apparel is thought to detract from a man’s quality of justice,21 and it is said that one should not wear military dress. If we want to form an Islamic government, then we must do it in our cloaks and turbans; otherwise, we commit an offense against decency and justice!

This is all the result of the wave of propaganda that has now reached the religious teaching institution and imposed on us the duty of proving that Islam also possesses rules of government.

That is our situation then—created for us by the foreigners through their propaganda and their agents. They have removed from operation all the judicial processes and political laws of Islam and replaced them with European importations, thus diminishing the scope of Islam and ousting it from Islamic society. For the sake of exploitation they have installed their agents in power.

So far, we have sketched the subversive and corrupting plan of imperialism. We must now take into consideration as well certain internal factors, notably the dazzling effect that the material progress of the imperialist countries has had on some members of our society. As the imperialist countries attained a high degree of wealth and affluence—the result both of scientific and technical progress and of their plunder of the nations of Asia and Africa—these individuals lost all self-confidence and imagined that the only way to achieve technical progress was to abandon their own laws and beliefs. When the moon landings took place, for instance, they concluded that Muslims should jettison their laws! But what is the connection between going to the moon and the laws of Islam? Do they not see that countries having opposing laws and social systems compete with each other in technical and scientific progress and the conquest of space? Let them go all the way to Mars or beyond the Milky Way; they will still be deprived of true happiness, moral virtue, and spiritual advancement and be unable to solve their own social problems. For the solution of social problems and the relief of human misery require foundations in faith and morals; merely acquiring material power and wealth, conquering nature and space, have no effect in this regard. They must be supplemented by, and balanced with, the faith, the conviction, and the morality of Islam in order truly to serve humanity instead of endangering it. This conviction, this morality, these laws that are needed, we already possess. So as soon as someone goes somewhere or invents something, we should not hurry to abandon our religion and its laws, which regulate the life of man and provide for his well-being in this world and the hereafter.

The same applies to the propaganda of the imperialists. Unfortunately, some members of our society have been influenced by their hostile propaganda, although they should not have been. The imperialists have propagated among us the view that Islam does not have a specific form of government or governmental institutions. They say further that even if Islam does have certain laws, it has no method for enforcing them, so that its function is purely legislative. This kind of propaganda forms part of the overall plan of the imperialists to prevent the Muslims from becoming involved in political activity and establishing an Islamic government. It is in total contradiction with our fundamental beliefs.

We believe in government and believe that the Prophet (upon whom be peace) was bound to appoint a successor, as he indeed did. Was a successor designated purely for the sake of expounding law? The expounding of law did not require a successor to the Prophet. He himself, after all, had expounded the laws; it would have been enough for the laws to be written down in a book and put into the people’s hands to guide them in their actions. It was logically necessary for a successor to be appointed for the sake of exercising government. Law requires a person to execute it. The same holds true in all countries of the world, for the establishment of a law is of little benefit in itself and cannot secure the happiness of man. After a law is established, it is necessary also to create an executive power. If a system of law or government lacks an executive power, it is clearly deficient. Thus Islam, just as it established laws, also brought into being an executive power.

There was still a further question: who was to hold the executive power? If the Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings) had not appointed a successor to assume the executive power, he would have failed to complete his mission, as the Qur’an testifies. 22 The necessity for the implementation of divine law, the need for an executive power, and the importance of that power in fulfilling the goals of the prophetic mission and establishing a just order that would result in the happiness of mankind—all of this made the appointment of a successor synonymous with the completion of the prophetic mission. In the time of the Prophet, laws were not merely expounded and promulgated; they were also implemented. The Messenger of God was an executor of the law. For example, he implemented the penal provisions of Islam: he cut off the hand of the thief and administered lashings and stonings. The successor to the Prophet must do the same; his task is not legislation, but the implementation of the divine laws that the Prophet has promulgated. It is for this reason that the formation of a government and the establishment of executive organs are necessary. Belief in the necessity for these is part of the general belief in the Imamate, as are, too, exertion and struggle for the sake of establishing them.

Pay close attention. Whereas hostility toward you has led them to misrepresent Islam, it is necessary for you to present Islam and the doctrine of the Imamate correctly. You must tell people: “We believe in the Imamate; we believe that the Prophet (upon whom be peace) appointed a successor to assume responsibility for the affairs of the Muslims, and that he did so in conformity with the divine will. Therefore, we must also believe in the necessity for the establishment of government, and we must strive to establish organs for the execution of law and the administration of affairs.” Write and publish books concerning the laws of Islam and their beneficial effects on society. Improve your style and method of preaching and related activity. Know that it is your duty to establish an Islamic government. Have confidence in yourselves and know that you are capable of fulfilling this task. The imperialists began laying their plans three or four centuries ago; they started out with nothing, but see where they are now! We too will begin with nothing, and we will pay no attention to the uproar created by a few “xenomaniacs”28 and devoted servants of imperialism.

Present Islam to the people in its true form, so that our youth do not picture the akhunds as sitting in some corner in Najaf or Qum, studying the questions of menstruation and parturition instead of concerning themselves with politics, and draw the conclusion that religion must be separate from politics. This slogan of the separation of religion and politics and the demand that Islamic scholars not intervene in social and political affairs have been formulated and propagated by the imperialists; it is only the irreligious who repeat them. Were religion and politics separate in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)? Did there exist, on one side, a group of clerics, and opposite it, a group of politicians and leaders? Were religion and politics separate in the time of the caliphs—even if they were not legitimate—or in the time of the Commander of the Faithful (upon whom be peace)? Did two separate authorities exist? These slogans and claims have been advanced by the imperialists and their political agents in order to prevent religion from ordering the affairs of this world and shaping Muslim society, and at the same time to create a rift between the scholars of Islam, on the one hand, and the masses and those struggling for freedom and independence, on the other. They have thus been able to gain dominance over our people and plunder our resources, for such has always been their ultimate goal.

If we Muslims do nothing but engage in the canonical prayer, petition God, and invoke His name, the imperialists and the oppressive governments allied with them will leave us alone. If we were to say, “Let us concentrate on calling the azan24 and saying our prayers. Let them come rob us of everything we own—God will take care of them! There is no power or recourse except in Him, and God willing, we will be rewarded in the hereafter!”—if this were our logic, they would not disturb us.

Once, during the occupation of Iraq, a certain British officer asked: “Is the azan I hear being called now from the minaret harmful to British policy?” When he was told that it was harmless, he said: “Then let him call for prayer as much as he wants!”

If you pay no attention to the policies of the imperialists, and consider Islam to be simply the few topics you are always studying and never go beyond them, then the imperialists will leave you alone. Pray as much as you like; it is your oil they are after—why should they worry about your prayers? They are after our minerals, and want to turn our country into a market for their goods. That is the reason the puppet governments they have installed prevent us from industrializing, and instead, establish only assembly plants and industry that is dependent on the outside world.

They do not want us to be true human beings, for they are afraid of true human beings. Even if only one true human being appears, they fear him, because others will follow him and he will have an impact that can destroy the whole foundation of tyranny, imperialism, and government by puppets. So whenever some true human being has appeared, they have either killed him or imprisoned and exiled him, and tried to defame him by saying: “This is a political akhund!” Now the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was also a political person. This evil propaganda is undertaken by the political agents of imperialism only to make you shun politics, to prevent you from intervening in the affairs of society and struggling against treacherous governments and their anti-national and anti-Islamic policies. They want to work their will as they please, with no one to bar their way.


1. Faqih: one learned in the principles and ordinances of Islamic law, or more generally, in all aspects of the faith. For a full discussion of the term, see p. 84.

2. This is an allusion to the celebrated saying of the Prophet: “Islam will again become a stranger among men, as it was in the beginning, hut blessed is the state of the stranger.”

3. Hadith: a tradition setting forth a saying or deed of the Prophet, or in Shi’i usage, of one of the Twelve Imams.

4. Mujtahid: an authority on divine law who practices ijtihad, that is, “the search for a correct opinion . . . in the deducing of the specific provisions of the law from its principles and ordinances” (Muhammad Sanglaji, Qaza dar Islam [Tehran, 1338 Sh./1959), p. 14).

5. Akhund: a word of uncertain etymology that originally denoted a scholar of unusual attainment, but was later applied to lesser-ranking scholars, and then acquired a pejorative connotation, particularly in secularist usage.

6. ‘Ulama: the scholars of Islam.

7. Concerning the influence of Belgian constitutional law on the six-man committee that drafted the Supplementary Constitutional Laws of 1907, see A.K.S. Lambton, “Dustur, iv: Iran,” Encyclopaedia of Islam new ed., II, 653-654,and Mustafa Rahimi, Qanun-iAsasi-Yi Iran (Tehran 1347 Sh./1968), p. 94.

8. Articles 35 through 57 of the Supplementary Constitutional Laws approved on October 7, 1906 relate to “the rights of the throne.” See E.G Browne, The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909 (Cambridge, 1911), pp 33 7-379.

9. In the seventh year of the Islamic era, the Prophet Muhammad wrot not only to Heraclius and the ruler of Iran (probably Parviz), but also to the rulers of Egypt and Abyssinia, inviting them all to embrace Islam and abandon unjust rule. See Muhammad Hamidullah, Le Prophete de l’Islam (Paris, 1959), I, 196-197, 212, 230, 241.

10. The Lord of the Martyrs: Imam Husayn, grandson of the Prophet.

11. In 60/680, Imam Husayn refused to swear allegiance to Yazid, son of Mu’awiya and second caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, since Yazid did not possess legitimate authority and had succeeded to the caliphate by hereditary succession. The ensuing death of the Imam in battle at Karbala has always been commemorated by Shi’i Muslims as the supreme example of martyrdom in the face of tyranny. It served as an important point of both ideological and emotive reference throughout the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

12. No detailed study has yet been made of the British role in the early part of the constitutional movement. Some of the relevant documents, however, are to be found in General Report on Persia for the Year 1906 (file F.O. 416/30, Public Records Office, London).

13. Shari’a: the all-embracing law of Islam derived from the Qur’an, the normative practice and authoritative pronouncements of the Prophet, and a number of secondary sources.

14. A law promulgated in July 1969 provided the death penalty for anyone in possession of more than two kilograms of opium or ten grams of heroin, morphine, or cocaine. The first ten executions were carried out in December 1969 and by 1974, 236 people had been executed on charges under this law. See Ulrich Gehrke, Iran: Natur, Bevolkerung, Geschichte, Kultur, Staat, Wirschaft (Tubingen and Basel, 1976), p. 281. It is probable that the law was also used to provide a cover for the execution of political prisoners who had no involvement with narcotics. Concerning the royal family’s own involvement in the drug trade, see p. 163, n. 167.

15. We have not been able to determine whether this is an allusion to a particular school established by foreigners. Before the Islamic Revolution, there were a number of foreign-run schools in Iran—secular and missionary—that in effect alienated their students from Islamic culture and society.

16. Taqiya: prudential dissimulation of one’s true beliefs under conditions of acute danger, a practice based on Qur’an, 3:28. For a fuller discussion of taqiya, see ‘Allamah Tabataba’i, Shi’ite Islam (Albany, N.Y., 1975), pp. 223-225, and also p. 144 of the present work.

17. This is a reference to an earlier and briefer series of talks given by Imam Khomeini on the subject of Islamic government. The Iranian embassy in Baghdad had sought to prevent the published text of those talks from being distributed.

18. The commander of the Faithful: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet and first of the Twelve Imams of Shi’i belief. He exercised rule from 35/656 until his martyrdom in 40/661.

19. Imam Hasan: son of Imam All and second of the Imams. He died in 50/670 after spending most of his life in seclusion in Medina.

20. Imam Baqir: the fifth Imam. He was born in 57/675 and spent most of his life in Medina, dying there in 114/732.

21. The “quality of justice” that is demanded of a religious scholar includes not only the practice of equity in all social dealings, but also complete abstention from major sins, the consistent performance of all devotional duties, and the avoidance of conduct incompatible with decorum.

22. “O Messenger! Proclaim what has been revealed to you by your Lord, for if you do not, you will not have fulfilled the mission He has entrusted to you” (5:70).

23. Xenomaniacs those infatuated with foreign and especially Western models of culture. This is a translation of a Persian term, gharbzadaha popularized by Jalal Al-i Ahmad (d. 1969) in his book Garbzadagi (“Xenomania”). He was a writer of great influence and Imam Khomeini was acquainted with his work. See the commemorative supplement on Jalal Al-i Ahmad in the Tehran daily newspaper Jumhuri-yi Islami, Shahrivar 20, 1359/October 12, 1980, p. 10.

24. Azan: the call to prayer.

Related Articles

The Necessity for Islamic Government

Imam Khomeini
Rabi' al-Awwal 19, 1401 1981-01-25

The Form of Islamic Government

Imam Khomeini
Rabi' al-Awwal 19, 1401 1981-01-25

Imam Khomeini: A Short Biography

Hamid Algar
Muharram 26, 1438 2016-10-27
Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Copyrights © 1436 AH
Sign In
Forgot Password?
Not a Member? Subscribe