by Tahir Mustafa (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 12, Jumada' al-Ula', 1438)
The Islamic Republic of Iran has survived 38 years of sabotage, wars and sanctions and still made immense progress because of the commitment of its leaders to the values of Islam and support of its masses. Taqwa has been institutionalized in the Islamic Republic making it impregnable to the enemies’ conspiracies.
Every February, the people of Iran and their friends and well wishers, globally, organize what are referred to as the “Ten Days of Dawn” celebrations. Based on the Qur’anic ayat, “Wa-al-fajr. Wa-layalin ‘ashr: By the dawn. And the ten nights,” the celebrations mark the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.
This February marks 38 years of the Islamic Revolution. In the scale of history, this may be a mere speck but in terms of its impact on global affairs, it was an earth-shaking event because it was no ordinary revolution. It not only overthrew the oppressive regime of the Shah but also broke free from the shackles of the imperialist-imposed order. It was the first time in contemporary history that a country had achieved genuine independence. Other countries were sold a fraudulent independence with power remaining in the hands of Western-trained and appointed rulers. As far as the people were concerned, they witnessed little or no change in their lives compared to the period of direct colonialism.
The Islamic Revolution and, therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran have survived for 38 years in an unrelentingly hostile environment. Its survival for this long is extremely significant when viewed against the backdrop of other developments in contemporary history. Since the end of the Second World War, many countries experienced coups and even revolutionary upheavals but they were either slapped back into line (such as Egypt and Indonesia) or were overthrown by Western-engineered coups (as witnessed in Iran in 1953, and Chile in 1973). Only the Islamic Revolution in Iran has survived despite numerous attempts, both internal and external, by the enemies of Islam to destroy the new order.
What has given the Islamic Revolution and, therefore, the Islamic Republic the resilience to survive these serious challenges? The simple answer is: the power of Islam. This needs elaboration. Every system is based on certain values. The former Soviet Union and its satellites were based on Marxist ideology. The West has pursued capitalism. The Muslim world has the Islamic system of governance although only one country — Iran — has truly adopted it in contemporary history. Communism has long been abandoned while capitalism is on its deathbed as witnessed through such developments as Brexit and now the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Capitalism has deepened global inequalities resulting in greater suffering everywhere. The world is a deeply troubled place today.
A quick glance at the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) reveals there is hardly a country that is free of turmoil, both internal and external. Most are also subservient to the imperialists and Zionists. Islamic Iran, on the other hand, despite three decades of widely punishing Western sanctions affecting its exports, especially oil, has not only weathered these challenges but has emerged much stronger. Hundreds of billions of dollars of Iranian assets, especially income from oil, were frozen and have still not been fully released. Even civilian aircraft spare parts were embargoed posing a serious threat to passenger safety. This would constitute a war crime but in the imperialist order, the rogue United States can do anything and get away it.
Others states, Iraq for example, that were subjected to similar sanctions, have suffered grievously, resulting in mass poverty and starvation. Far from crippling Iran’s economy, the leadership in Iran used the sanctions as a challenge and an opportunity to develop a resistance economy, as ordained by the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei. While there were some economic dislocations, Iran withstood these challenges stoically. Visitors to the Islamic Republic have come away impressed by the level and pace of development taking place in the country. Numerous highways cross-cross major cities, all designed by its own engineers and built by local companies. Even a sleepy town like Qom, the base of religious education, has become a sprawling metropolis with fine hotels and major shopping centres.
To appreciate the significance of these developments, one must view them against the backdrop of the eight-year imposed war against Iran launched through Iraq, but backed by the Arabian regimes and the imperialist West. There were no weapons, short of nuclear, that were not given to the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein to try and destroy the Islamic Republic. Saddam committed every crime prohibited under international law but since he had the backing of the West, these were overlooked. When the war ended, Islamic Iran had achieved two of its three stated objectives: protection of the Islamic Revolution and liberation of every inch of its territory. The only objective it did not achieve immediately was the overthrow of Saddam and his trial as a war criminal. The West itself carried that out after Saddam had served his purpose. He was lured into a trap to invade and occupy Kuwait in August 1990. Thereafter, the same West and Saddam’s Arabian allies ganged up against him and attacked Iraq twice. On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged.
Perhaps no country in recent history has had to endure so much negative propaganda and unremitting hostility as the Islamic Republic. From internal sabotage through groups like the Mujahideen-e Khalq Organization (MKO), better known as the munafiqeen, to outright military invasion and trade embargoes, Islamic Iran has taken on all comers. Today it is the pre-eminent power in the region without whose approval and support, no policy can be successful.
While the Arabian regimes led by Bani Saud have tried to undermine Iran, far from achieving their nefarious agenda, they have suffered repeated failures instead. Many of these regimes are teetering on the brink. Their policies of sabotage and aggression, whether in Syria or Yemen, lie in ruin. The Saudi rulers are scared out of their wits and do not know how to get out of the quagmire in Yemen despite inflicting massive civilian casualties and causing much infrastructure damage in the poorest country in the Muslim East. The attack on Yemen has exposed the Saudi rulers to charges of war crimes. It is not inconceivable that one day they may be hauled before the International Criminal Court to face such charges. Their very friends in the West are likely to turn against them once they have outlived their usefulness, as they did with Saddam Hussein.
So the question we need to ask is: what has Iran, or more precisely its leadership, done that has enabled them to come out successful while others have failed? The first point to note is that Iran’s leadership is muttaqi. Its leaders do not work to advance their personal interests; they are genuinely committed to upholding the values of Islam by serving their people. Unlike rulers in neighboring countries, Iran’s leaders are humble and lead simple lives. They are not given to the trappings of power even though Iranians are very cultured and sophisticated people.
The second point is that decision-making is a collective responsibility. While the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has the final say in all matters, he does not do so without thorough discussion of the issues and taking different points of view into consideration. This has enabled the Islamic Republic to avoid the pitfalls of hasty decisions made by one man in secret. Even if the policy fails, it is not because the process was flawed but because other circumstances beyond their control influenced the outcome.
Third, the Islamic Republic has a system based on a constitution tailored to the needs of the people it is addressing. All decisions are made accordingly. Even at the height of the eight-year imposed war, the Islamic Republic did not suspend the constitution. Elections were held on time whether for the presidency or the Majlis. It is this level of trust and transparency that has enabled the leadership to retain the confidence of the masses.
Fourth, the leadership of the Islamic Republic has used the minbar (platform) of the Jumu‘ah Khutbah to keep the people informed about important developments. It is extremely gratifying to note that whoever delivers the Jumu‘ah Khutbah (and it includes the Rahbar himself at times), the burning issues of the day are highlighted and people are taken into confidence. Namaz-e Juma-eh, as the Jumu‘ah Salah is called in Iran, is an inspiring experience.
On the external front, Islamic Iran’s influence has continued to grow. It has gained important allies in the region from Hizbullah in Lebanon to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine. It has made sure that the imperialist-Zionist-Arabian conspiracy against Syria does not succeed. The conspirators’ designs have been frustrated. Iran has also gained the trust and confidence of Iraq, once its mortal enemy when ruled by Saddam. These developments have left Bani Saud and their tribal cousins in the region feeling nervous and suffering sleepless nights. And Iran has achieved all this without bragging about its prowess. Even Turkey under its brash president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had to eat humble pie and change course on Syria. The Turkish ruler wanted to supplant Iran as the regional power, a quest in which he has demonstrably failed.
On the economic front, there is a major shift in global affairs. The centre of gravity of economic growth has shifted from North America and Europe to Eurasia. This is the next frontier where riches are to be made. Three things account for this change of direction: a large population base, huge landmass, and enormous natural and energy resources. Three countries — China, Iran, and Russia — also have a large pool of highly educated people. This talent is driving the economic growth of the region and with Iran now unshackled from illegal Western sanctions, its true potential is about to be realized.
What is, however, undeniable is that Iran’s development owes everything to the values it adopted 38 years ago. By adhering to Islamic principles and creating a society based on taqwa where the overriding concern is the well-being of ordinary people, success has come its way. Islam has given its people enormous self-confidence as well as enabled them to withstand all kinds of pressures and difficulties.
As Allah (swt) has promised in the noble Qur’an, “O you who are truly committed [to Allah], if you support the cause of Allah, He will surely help you and strengthen your foothold” (47:07). Verily, Allah (swt) has spoken the truth.