The Afternoon of ‘Ashura (June 3, 1963)

Developing Just Leadership

Imam Khomeini

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

Occasional Paper

by Imam Khomeini

IT IS NOW THE AFTERNOON of ‘Ashura. Sometimes when I recall the events of ‘Ashura, a question occurs to me: If the Umayyads’ 15 and the regime of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya’16 wished to make war against Husayn, why did they commit such savage and inhuman crimes against the defenseless women and innocent children? What was the offense of the women and children? What had Husayn’s six month-old infant done?17 It seems to me that the Umayyads had a far more basic aim: they were opposed to the very existence of the family of the Prophet. They did not wish the Bani Hashim18 to exist and their goal was to root out this “goodly tree.”19

A similar question occurs to me now. If the tyrannical regime of Iran simply wished to wage war on the maraji’,20 to oppose the ‘ulama, what business did it have tearing the Qur’an to shreds on the day it attacked Fayziya Madrasa? Indeed, what business did it have with the madrasa or with its students, like the eighteen year-old sayyid who was killed? What had he done against the Shah, against the government, against the tyrannical regime? We come to the conclusion that this regime also has a more basic aim: they are fundamentally opposed to Islam itself and the existence of the religious class. They do not wish this institution to exist; they do not wish any of us to exist, the great and the small alike.

Israel does not wish the Qur’an to exist in this country. Israel does not wish the ‘ulama to exist in this country. Israel does not wish a single learned man to exist in this country. It was Israel that assaulted Fayziya Madrasa by means of its sinister agents. It is still assaulting us, and assaulting you, the nation; it wishes to seize your economy, to destroy your trade and agriculture, to appropriate your wealth. Israel wishes to remove by means of its agents anything it regards as blocking its path. The Quran is blocking its path; it must be removed. The religious scholars are blocking its path; they must be eliminated. Fayziya Madrasa and other centers of knowledge and learning are blocking its path; they must be destroyed. The tullab might later come to block their path; they must be killed, pushed off the roof, have their heads and arms broken. In order for Israel to attain its objectives, the government of Iran has continually affronted us in acccordance with goals and plans conceived in Israel.

Respected people of Qum! On the day that mendacious, that scandalous referendum took place—that referendum contrary to all the interests of the Iranian nation and conducted at bayonet- point21 —you witnessed a gang of hooligans and ruffians prowling around Qum, on foot and riding in cars, going down the streets and thoroughfares of this center of religious learning that stands next to the shrine of Fatima, the Immaculate One22 (peace be upon her)! They were shouting: “Your days of parasitism are at an end! Your days of eating pulao are over!’

Now, these students of the religious sciences who spend the best and most active part of their lives in these narrow cells, and whose monthly income is somewhere between 40 and 100 tumans—are they parasites? And those to whom one source of income alone brings hundreds of millions of tumans are not parasites? Are the ‘ulama parasites—people like the late Hajj Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim,23 whose sons had nothing to eat on the night that he died; or the late Burujirdi,24 who was 600,000 tumans in debt when he departed from this world? And those who have filled foreign banks with the wealth produced by the toil of our poverty- stricken people, who have erected towering palaces but still will not leave the people in peace, wishing to fill their own pockets and those of Israel with our resources—they are not parasites? Let the world judge, let the nation judge who ie parasites are!

Let me give you some advice, Mr. Shah! Dear Mr. Shah, I advise you to desist in this policy and acts like this. I don’t want the people to offer up thanks if your masters should decide one day that you must leave. I don’t want you to become like your father. 25

Iranian nation! Those among you who are thirty or forty years of age or more will remember how three foreign countries attacked us during World War II. The Soviet Union, Britain, and America invaded Iran and occupied our country. The property of the people was exposed to danger and their honor was imperilled. But God knows, everyone was happy because the Pahlavi had gone!

Shah, I don’t wish the same to happen to you; I don’t want you to become like your father. Listen to my advice, listen to the ‘ulama of Islam. They desire the welfare of the nation, the welfare of the country. Don’t listen to Israel; Israel can’t do anything for you. You miserable wretch, forty-five years of your life have passed; isn’t it time for you to think and reflect a little, to ponder about where all this is leading you, to learn a lesson from the experience of your father? If what they say is true, that you are opposed to Islam and the religious scholars, your ideas are quite wrong. If they are dictating these things to you and then giving them to you to read, you should think about it a little. Why do you speak without thinking? Are the religious scholars really some form of impure animal? If they are impure animals, why do the people kiss their hands? Why do they regard the very water they drink as blessed? Are we really impure animals? I hope to God that you did not have in mind the ‘ulama and the religious scholars when you said, “The reactionaries are like an impure animal,” because if you did, it will be difficult for us to tolerate you much longer, and you will find yourself in a predicament. You won’t be able to goon living; the nation will not allow you to continue this way. The religious scholars and Islam are Black Reaction! And you have carried out your White Revolution in the midst of all this Black Reaction! What do you mean, a White Revolution? Why do you try to deceive the people so? Why do you threaten the people so?26

I was informed today that a number of preachers and speakers in Tehran were taken to the offices of SAVAK and were threatened with punishment if they speak on three subjects. They were not to say anything bad about the Shah, not to attack Israel, and not to say that Islam is endangerea. Otherwise, they can say what they like! But all of our problems and all our differences with the government comprise exactly these three! If we overlook these three subjects, we have no dispute with the government. Even if we do not say that Islam is endangered, will that mean that Islam is not endangered? Or if we do not say, “The Shah is such-and- such,” will that mean that he is not in fact such-and-such? And what is this tie, this link, between the Shah and Israel that makes SAVAK consider the Shah an Israeli? Does SAVAK consider the Shah a Jew?

Mr. Shah! Maybe those people want to present you as a Jew so that I will denounce you as an unbeliever and they can expel you from Iran and put an end to you! Don’t you know that if one day, some uproar occurs and the tables are turned, none of those people around you will be your friends? They are friends of the dollar; they have no religion, no loyalty. They are hanging responsibility for everything around your miserable neck!

You know that vile individual—I’ll mention his name at the appropriate time—who came to Fayziya Madrasa and whistled to signal for the commandos to gather, then ordered them to attack, to assault, to plunder all the rooms in the madrasa and destroy everything. When he is asked, “Why did you commit these crimes?” he replies, ‘The Shah told us to do it. It was his royal command that we destroy Fayziya Madrasa and slaughter these people.”

There is much to be said, far more than you can even imagine. Certain things are happening that endanger our country and our Islam. The things that are happening to this nation and those thaL are about to happen fill me with anxiety and sorrow. I feel anxiety and sorrow at the state of Iran, at the state of our ruined country, at the state of this cabinet, at the state of those running our government.

I pray to God Almighty that He remedy our affairs.

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