by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 34, No. 12, Muharram, 1427)
The celebration of Islamic festivals such as Eid al-Adha and the annual Hajj last month — both connected to Prophet Ibrahim's (as) willingness to sacrifice in fulfillment of Allah's command — is meant to revive the spirit and purpose of the Ummah. So pleased was Allah with His Khalil's submission that these acts are now a permanent part of the Muslims' ibadaat at Hajj andEid al-Adha. The Hajj, however, must be understood beyond rituals; it represents also a Muslim's journey from a life of materialism and indifference to one of spirituality and activism.
As well as the Hajj, there are other obligations for Muslims to fulfil. The most important of these is to live in an Islamic state or, if one does not exist, to strive to establish one, as the Prophet (saw) commanded. With the decline in the political power of the Ummah, this obligation has receded from the collective memory of Muslims; many have been lulled into believing that a crude mixture of nationalism and Islamic slogans constitutes an Islamic state. The proliferation of Muslim nation-states and the myriad political parties with vaguely Islamic names reflect this sorry state of affairs. Despite this sad reality, there is an exception: the Islamic State of Iran. This month, the people of Iran mark the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution by which they not only overthrew the corrupt system imposed on them, but also established in its place an Islamic social and political order. Lest people jump to point out Iran's manifold faults, it is important to remember that it could never be a perfect state. We need to distinguish between the ideal and the reality; Iran still has a long way to go to achieve its idealist aspirations, but on the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, there is vibrancy and excitement in the land of the shuhada’.
There was a period of wayward drift; for a while the principles of the Revolution seemed to have been relegated and Islamic Iran looked in danger of becoming just another Muslim nation-state. Some of its officials fell for the West's charm offensives and were beguiled into believing that a "dialogue" was possible, ignoring the West's long history of bullying and lying. The West always insists on a monologue in which it does the talking while others are expected to listen and obey. If they refuse to abide by such demands, they are immediately branded as unreasonable extremists who are unwilling to compromise. This is what Iran faces today vis-à-vis its nuclear programme, which is in full compliance with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but is not acceptable to the West. Led by the US, the West demands that Iran must abandon its treaty-guaranteed rights. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has shown that standing up for one's principles enhances the self-confidence of the Muslim masses and earns their respect. He has done more; he has restored the dignity of the revolution by showing that he has the humility and taqwa that are a pre-requisite for the rulers of an Islamic state.
Brother Ahmedinejad won massive support from all segments of Iran's population in the presidential elections last June, including the youth whom the West said had abandoned Islamic values. This commitment and support were shown yet again during the Quds Day rally in Tehran, in which millions of people participated. What was unusual was that Brother Ahmedinejadwas among the demonstrators marching shoulder to shoulder with them without a phalanx of bodyguards. In which Western country dare the president or prime minister mix so freely with his people?
Today, Iran is the most important regional power, not because its soldiers are armed with lethal weapons but because of the upright character of its leaders and the commitment of its people. Imaan is a far superior weapon to the aircraft, missiles and tanks that the kuffar rely on. Muslims armed with imaan have never been defeated by any power because they rely on the sole superpower—Allah, the All-Mighty, All-Wise. Today, the self-proclaimed sole superpower is bogged down in Iraq; its weapons cannot rescue it from the quagmire in which it is trapped. Ironically, its exit from Iraq depends largely on Iran, the real target of the neocons. A military attack on Iran cannot be ruled out, but the US and the world know that if Iraq has been difficult for them, Iran would be sheer hell.
Iran stands tall today as a direct result of the Islamic Revolution that Imam Khomeini (ra) inspired and led 27 years ago, a Revolution that is rooted in the values and principles of Islam. It was neither a coup nor a palace reshuffle, as are so common in other Muslim countries. The Revolution overthrew the old order and ushered in a new one, free from the corrupting influences of the old one and not beholden to the West. There were those, like Bani-Sadr and Qutbzadeh, who tried to take Iran back under the "protective" umbrella of Uncle Sam, where they would feel more comfortable, but Imam Khomeini stopped them in their tracks and the Revolution was saved.
Today Iran is effectively coup-proof, thanks to the Revolution and its leadership, who have the real and committed support of the masses. Iran has reversed the tide of modern Muslim history; now it is for other countries and peoples to follow suit.