by Abu Dharr (Guest Editorial, Crescent International Vol. 33, No. 5, Jumada' al-Ula', 1425)
They must be etched into the memory of every activist of the Islamic movement – the triumph of Imam Khomeini, the culminating success of the Islamic Revolution and the defeat of the Shah, together with the failure of secularism and of the Israeli agents entrenched in the Pahlavi dynasty and establishment...
They must be etched into the memory of every activist of the Islamic movement – the triumph of Imam Khomeini, the culminating success of the Islamic Revolution and the defeat of the Shah, together with the failure of secularism and of the Israeli agents entrenched in the Pahlavi dynasty and establishment. There was a euphoria that buoyed the Islamic spirit from the historical decline that had culminated in a political bereavement in 1924 of Muslims everywhere. Many well-versed Muslims were reminded of the hadith: "Verily, Allah will send at the turn of each generation [or century] someone who will regenerate the state of affairs of this deen." Undoubtedly that person in our generation (or century) is Imam Khomeini (ra). He, being the son of his Islamic heritage, did not lose sight of this Islamic breakthrough in today’s predominantly secular world. He told us that the secret to this victory of a lifetime was the Divine motivation and the lofty aspiration of having an Islamic government; along with that came the togetherness and unity of its supporters and champions.
The Islamic Uprising in Iran a quarter of a century ago is too important and too special for Muslims to simply watch it wander from its original and true course. We remember all too clearly the impact this breakthrough had on Muslims everywhere. For the first time in modern history, Muslims had risen against a corrupt government and its imperialist and zionist sponsors, and were able to take control of their own country, and begin to show the rest of us how things should be done.
Of course, the road forward was not likely to be smooth. The sponsors of the Pahlavi regime could not be expected to sit and watch a people shape their own future on the basis of their Islamic faith and commitment. Throughout the last 25 years, America and Israel have been working to bring the Islamic government in Iran to its knees, with the support of their Western allies, Iran’s pro-Western neighbours and even supporters within Iran. Iran’s borders amount to some 8,000 kilometers; American troops are now based across six thousand kilometers of this border. This grim scenario has been gradually built over 25 years, and has passed almost unnoticed by most Muslims, and even most Iranians. There has never been any cessation of hostilities between the followers of the line of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), who refuse to compromise when it comes to the independence and sovereignty of the Islamic state, and the numerous other interests wanting to shape the state on their terms.
Part of our object in this new column is to look at some of the gaps that have developed since the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), many of which are rooted in earlier events, and how these gaps have caused serious problems about which we can no longer remain silent. But before we walk into this sensitive area, one point needs to be made absolutely clear. This is that none of the points we make are intended to express any criticism of Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the successor to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) as Rahbar of the Islamic State. Many of the points we make will be highlighting natural processes in the evolution of post-Revolutionary state and society. Others will indeed involve criticism of errors and failures in Iran, mainly on the part of those who have been responsible for aspects of Iranian government and policy at the executive level. It was inevitable that such errors and failures should emerge over a quarter of a century in an unprecedented and highly-pressured historical situation; unfortunately they have contributed greatly to what many now see as the Islamic experiment’s current stagnation.Sometimes frank statements of truth can be bitter pills to swallow; we hope no-one will consider this column to be too bitter a pill. We say what we say only to express our honest understanding of the issues. If we are correct, we appeal earnestly to Allah to accept our humble words to our humble readers. If not, we request Allah’s forgiveness and correction from anyone able to do so; without, we hope, descending into personal issues or hidden agendas. Ameen.
A brief review of those historic events is enough to remind us that the late Imam had a following of committed Muslims who supported him with unprecedented loyalty in every aspect of his radical break from the status quo and his radical commitment to the deen. When war was imposed on the Islamic state, volunteers from all walks of life and all corners of the earth came forward to defend it; for some, supporting an Islamic state was a matter of religious faith; for others, defeating the US, Israel and its regional pawns was a matter of political commitment. The convergence of these popular trends combined to make it impossible for all the regional and worldwide forces that were opposed to Islamic governance in Iran to defeat it.
But then something odd began to happen. When the Iraq-imposed war on Islamic Iran was ended through the UN in the summer of 1988, we began to hear a few close-lipped remarks suggesting that the war had been a disaster! Some officials and ulama, inspired by hindsight, and influenced by voices outside Iran, began whispering that the war should have been ended when the tide turned against Iraq in the mid-1980s; others were bolder in their statements, saying that the war should have been ended in the early 1980s when the Ba’athists sent signals that they were willing to reach a ceasefire and return to the pre-war status quo. The Divine motivation that Imam Khomeini had spoken of began to show cracks. Some influential persons suggested that the Iraq-imposed war should have been stopped when the Israelis invaded Lebanon in the summer of 1982, and the Islamic Republic should have preserved its resources by ending the war with Iraq and instead gone to Lebanon to fight the war of wars against the zionist occupation in Lebanon and Palestine. This departure from the Imam’s political insight assumes that the Iraqi Ba’athists, and their American and Israeli handlers, would have been ready to stop their war, which had been launched specifically to destroy the embryonic Islamic state, and instead permit Islamic Iran to make the geo-political leap into Lebanon to fight the enemies of Islam – the Israeli zionist bullies and beasts who have run amok in the Holy Lands.
Now, recent events have vindicated the late Imam. It was after his death that his contenders began to rearrange the political chessboard. Their objective was to muster all possible military and political resources to liberate Palestine, with Syria and Lebanon as the springboard for that historical mission. No one in his right mind can fault any policy that seeks to decontaminate the Holy Land of the zionist pestilence. More than a solid decade of Iranian diplomacy has been invested in marshalling all the Arab and Islamic potential for the eventual showdown with the Israeli zionist enemy. And where has that taken those who failed to see eye-to-eye with the Imam? It has taken them all the way back to Iraq. The American occupation of Iraq can be seen as consistent with the Imam’s vision, in that Imam Khomeini used to say – and some of those he addressed were obviously not listening closely enough – that the way to Palestine is through Iraq, or "the road to al-Quds passes through Karbala".
Politics, as some pragmatic secularists would say, is the art of the possible. Of course, it is possible to pretend that Saudi Arabia and other regional political powers in the area around Iran believe their own rhetoric in terms of opposing Israel and zionism! But experience and common sense make such a belief self-delusional. In truth, such rhetoric is no more than a smokescreen to disarm the Islamic Republic of Iran and its officials, and lull them into a false sense of security, when the guiding principles of these neighbours, and the Israeli-American political and military hierarchy, remains a visceral animus towards the world’s sole Islamic state, an enmity has never been as intense as it is now.
The current American talk about democracy and reform initiatives in the Middle East amount to yet another trick to try to subvert the "Khomeini generation." It comes at a time when many Muslims are becoming aware that the initial fervour of the Islamic Revolution and the enthusiastic youth who came out en masse to support the Islamic state with tears and blood may have lost focus. Some of them seem to have developed an typically Umawiy (Umayyad) interest in money rather than than in a Revolution. In this they seem to be following the tradition of the thousands who pledged to stand with Imam Hussain in his jihad against the Ummayads, and then failed to show up when the time came to fulfil their commitments. Karbala and Najaf nowadays beckon their soul-mates; Imam Khomeini showed us the way, and now it is our choice: we either fulfil our duties all the way to martyrdom – a word that has become an irritant to those whose commitment to the line of the Imam has waned – or we succumb to our economic instincts and join the West-dominated world order on the same terms that were offered to the Pahlavi regime.
The Westophiles who have had their day under the political sun should vacate their positions. Too many have demonstrated a willingness to curry favor with their American counterparts by showing themselves to be as ‘moderate’ and ‘civilised’ as the Americans would want, not least by distancing themselves from Islamic ‘radicals, extremists and fanatics’. These Westophiles have still not figured out how to surmount the Israeli obstacle, assuming that they still recognise the need to do so. The US shows no inclination to restrain Israel’s killer instinct, and the Ummah shows no sign of accepting Israel’s expansionist plans and the genocide of the Palestinians. Iran’s Westophiles should have learned by now, from the example of the late Imam (ra), that it is the unity of the peoples (Iranians, Shi’is, Muslims, and the oppressed) that will deter Israel, the US and their regional kings and presidents from hatching more plots against the underclasses of the world. They would well advised to try to understand that it was Divine Motivation that has stirred the world and provided hope to the Muslim ummah and the oppressed of the world, and not the sort of supine disinclination that today finds so many of us simply marking time and waiting for someone else to do what we should be doing ourselves.