Pakistan extends heartfelt condolences to Imam-e-Zamana[a.t.f.s]
,Rahber-e-Moazzam Ayatollaah Syed Ali Khamenei , Maraj'een-e-Ezaam ,
Ulema-e-Karam ,Momineen o Mominaat and all the oppressed nations of the world
on the death anniversary of Imam-e-Rahil Imam Khomeini [Rizwanillaah Alaih].
Imam Khomeini (R.A) And The Political
Syed Rashid Ahad
Islamic Research Academy, Karachi
Imam Khomeini (R.A) was an unprecedented world
leader of the recent centuries. He through his divine political philosophy gave
a new turn to the movement of history. Before the appearance of Imam the world
arrogance was fast moving towards its zenith being confident that no entity
does exist to challenge it. There was no vital role left for religion in the
existing civilization that was founded purely on liberal values and worldly
notions. Imam came and gave a heavy jolt to the prevailing world system. By
bringing about an Islamic revolution in Iran, he generated a commotion in the centers of global arrogance
and simultaneously kindled the light of hope in the Islamic Ummah who for long
was suffering from defeat and humiliation at the hands of kafir powers.
The revolution generated by Imam with the
popular support of Iranian people was actually a victory of divine values over
the materialistic ones. The revolution, though in a part of Islamic lands,
successfully resulted in the formation of an Islamic government the Ummah had
longed for since long. The hegemonic powers immediately sensed the underlying
domino-effect of this revolution and they stood up to contain its further
spread and used their full might and resources to nip it in the bud. The
sabotage, killing of renowned Iranian Ulama and revolutionaries by MKO and
other counter-revolutionary elements, the eight-year war imposed by Saddam and
later the emergence of extremist entities in Sunni world such as Taliban were
the imperialist ploys to defeat the revolution.
Moreover, in order to alienate the majority of
the Ummah from Imam and his revolution, Israel, America and their allies dubbed
this historic event a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œShite revolution" .
This was an old tactic as the Umayyad & Abbasid dynasty both had used
previously the carrot and stick policy to alienate the Islamic Ummah from the Ahl al-bayt-e-Athar(infallible households of prophet). Despite the
monarchs of both the dynasty ruled the roost in the larger part of Islamic
history, they could not succeed to remove the love & respect ofAhl
the hearts of the majority of the Ummah. However, they succeeded to generate an
indifference towards Ahl al-bayt in some religious elite classes who had their
some influence on Muslim Masses.
When the Ummah experienced the naked aggression of America in Afghanistan
and Iraq and American-backed daily mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in
occupied territory, they looked around for the voice of protest against the
oppressors, and they only heard a clear voice of protest and a clarion call for
unity of Ummah against oppressors and occupiers consistently from Iran where
the Imam established an Islamic system the intellectual foundations of which
are ultimately rooted in the teachings of Ahl al-bayt-e-Athar.Therefore, remaining
de-linked from the teachings of Ahl al-bayt-e-Athar Imam's political philosophy cannot be perceived
well. After these introductory words now I come to the points my subject.
The Imam's Entry into the Political Realm from
It is a well-known fact that Imam from his very
early age was keenly interested in gnosis orirfan. Imam met his
teacher Ayatullah Muhammed Ali Shahabadi probably in 1920s in Qum. Ayatullah Shahabadi sharpened the Imam's
taste in gnosis to a greater extent. But at the same time Ayatullah Shahabadi
was then one of the few Ulama who raised the voice against the misdeeds of
dynasty of Reza Shah Pahalvi. As the Ayatullah Shahabadi had a profound
influence on Imam Khomeini, he transferred his sensitivity & awareness
about political issues to Imam Khomeini as well. Later Imam Khomeini came in
contact with other scholars besides Ayatulah Shahabadi who contested the
anti-Islamic and subservient policies of Reza Shah. For instance, Hajj Aqa
Nurullah Isfahani and Mullah Husayn Fisharaki who led a protest in Isfahan
against compulsory military service in 1924; Ayatullah Angaji and Mirza Sadiq
Aqa who initiated a similar movement in Tabriz in 1928, Aqazada Kafa'i who
after the uprising of 1935 was brought to Tehran for trail, and Sayyid Hasan
Mudarris whom the Imam on one occasion described as "The Leader" of
those who stood against injustice and oppression. Thus in 1928 on the
abolishment of capitulations by Reza Shah Imam acrimoniously remarked through a
line of his poem: It is true he has now abolished every capitulation, but only
to hide from you the abolition of the Nation"ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â. Imam here means from
capitulation the privileged status granted to foreign powers in Iran.
In May 1944 Imam issued a political proclamation
calling for action to deliver the Iranian people and entire Muslim world from
the tyrannical grip of foreign powers with a particular reference of a Quranic
verse, 34: 46 say: I enjoin upon you
one thing only-that you rise up for God, in pairs & singly, and then
told the uprising sole path of reform in this worldand in the same proclamation
expressing his grief and concern over the sorry state of Muslim World, he
attributed it to the fact that all are engaged in Rising up for the sake of
their appetitive souls (qiyam barayi nafs), it is only through "Rising up for God"
that matters can be rectified. Rising up for God thus becomes both an act of
personal purification and an obligation to change and reform the society1.
The merger of politics and gnosis in Imam's
The Imam exercised the political Islam in a
unique way. There is a fusion of politics and gnosis in Imam's political Islam.
Imam's immersion in the Quran and Teachings of the Masumin (immaculate
progenies of the prophet of Islam) showed him the way to pursue a spiritual
magnificence of the self. In this spiritual wayfaring there is also a station
of divine politics where a Gnostic struggles to establish Shariah (Divine Laws) in human society making it
harmonious with the Universe which is always in the obedience of God.
Reflecting on the Imam's political Islam, a renowned British neo-Muslim scholar
Hamid Algar beautifully relates it to the third esoteric journey of Mullah
Sadra's Asfar al-arba:
The third journey is that which leads back from the divine reality to creation (min al-haqq ila al-khalq); however it does not bring the wayfarer back to
his point of departure (min al-khalq ila
it is a journey that is accomplished by the means of the divine reality(bi
has as its result the perception of the mysteries of the divine acts as they unfold in the phenomenal world2.
Thus making a tremendous personal progress towards the source of magnificence,
Imam led a revolution that was a reflection of collective suluk of the Iranian people.
The manifestation of gnosis-based political
vision of Imam can be seen in Imam's letter to Gorbochov, the last leader of
the Soviet Union. Imam in this letter articulately
predicted that henceforth the communism can only be seen in the museum of
It is because of Imam's gnosis-oriented politics
he while exercising it, gave always top priority to the metaphysical realities.
One of his statements in this respect is quoted below:
If we believe in the world beyond this one, we
must thank God when we are killed in His way and we join the ranks of martyrs.
Are we afraid? What are we afraid of? Those should fear who have no other place
than this world. God, the Almighty has made a promise to us which is if you
follow My way, We have a good place and we hope we well be able to follow that
way. What should we fear? The final end point is that you will hang us, it will
be the beginning of our comfortable life; we will leave all the dirty games of
yours behind, we will be freed from all the sorrows and obligations.
Hazarat Ali (A.S) said, swear by God Almighty
that the son of Abu Talib is more desirous of death than a baby to the breast
of his/her mother. If we fear death it means we do not accept metaphysics3.
As the Imam referred here to the saying of
Hazrat Ali (A.S) regarding the penchant for death, seeking martyrdom has been
the legacy of Ahl al-bayt. Even the renowned revivalists who emerged in the Sunni world were
those who had some link with intellectual roots of school of Ahl al-bayt.
For instance, Hassan al-Banna (shaheed), the
founder of the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimin remained active for unity of Ummah with Daar-ut-Taqrib of Egypt, which was the brainchild of an Iranian Shi'a reformist,
Allameh Qomi4. Ikhwan's aim was to establish the Islamic state
throughout the Arab world. The another prominent revivalist of political Islam
is Maulana Mawdudi (1903-79) of Indian subcontinent. He founded Jamat-e-Islami in 1941 in order to establish Hukumat-e-Ilahiyah (divine government) in subcontinent.
In 60s, he wrote a book "Khilafat-o-Mulukiyyat"in which he strongly defended the Hazarat Ali's
(A.S) stance against the rebellion of Amir-e-Sham (Syrian governor). In this
book he paid his great tribute to Imam Ali (A.S) for his struggle to take the Khilafat back on prophet's track.
Furthermore, Omar Khalidi asserted that Maulana
Mawdudi drew his Islamic worldview from an Iranian Shi'a philosopher Mulla
Sadra. He wrote:
In 1931 Maulana Mawdudi was asked by translation
bureau of Nizam Hyderabad to translate the Asfar al-Araba (The four Journeys) of Sadr al-Din Shirazi, better known as Mullah
Sadra, (978-1050/1571-1640)-the translation of this major work provided Maulana
Mawdudi with an opportunity to study and work on the Asfar.
It is safe to speculate that the Maulana was presumably influenced by Mulla
Sadra's philosophical perspective5
Regarding the Mullah Sadra's influence over
Maududi's thought, Mr. Khalidi also quoted Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr:
The Sadrian formulation finds reflection, albeit
indirectly in Maudidi's understanding of the relevance of religion to the
social change. Maududi both inherited a sufi legacy as well as read
mystical sources to imbibe their worldview and gain competence in using its
metaphors, idioms and terminologies6.
If Maulana Mawdudi had direct recourse to the teachings of infallible Imams, he
presumably would succeed to integrate the gnosis with politics and then this
integration would most probably find its expression in the wave of an Islamic
revolution as it did in the movement of Imam Khomeini (R.A.)
Jihad and Ijtihad as salient features of Imam's political Islam:
In 20th century great reformers and revivalists emerged in the world of
Islam. Imam Khomeini was unique in all of them. Imam introduced Islam as the
main instrument of salvation in Islamic society and freedom from the tyrannical
Imam Khomeini started his Jihad at a time when
Islam was retreating and losing ground after ground to its enemies. Imam began
to struggle against the autocracy dependent on arrogant colonial power. With
the strong resolve of the Iranian people he eventually succeeded to defeat the USA and its local agent Mohammad Reza Shah Pahalvi.
When a regional lackey of America, Saddam Hussein at the behest of his
master imposed a war on Iran to nip the Islamic revolution in the bud, Imam
fought a long war of eight years against the global arrogance without regular
army & proper war technology. During this period Imam developed a divine
war mechanism that was also the reflection of his political Islam of pristine
Resistance, uprising and offering martyrdom
against aggression, injustice and oppression are the hallmarks of Imam's
political Islam. To establish the social justice all over the world is the
reiterated goal of Imam's political Islam. Besides, to elevate the deprived and
oppressed people to the point that they are the master of their own destiny was
one of his main political objectives.
Imam questioned:Ã¢â‚¬Å“More than one thousand years have passed since the
great occultation (alghyabat al-kubra) of our Imam Mahdi (A.J), and another
thousand of years may pass before the arrival of the Awaited Imam becomes
necessary. Should the laws of Islam remain suspended during this long period?
Should the people be free during this period to do whatever they wish? The laws
that the prophet of Islam, upon whom be Allah's blessings, promulgated and
endeavored to disseminate, explain and enforce for 23 years-were they limited
to only a particular period? Did Allah limit the life of the Shariah for 2
years, for instance? Should Islam lose everything after the lesser occultation
To espouse this view in my opinion is worse than believing that Islam has been
abrogated. No one who believes in Allah (swt) and the Hereafter can say that
frontiers of the Islamic homeland should not be defended, or Zakat or Khums may be withheld, or that
the penal code of Islam may be suspended, or qisas and diyah laws may be put in cold
storage. Hence any one who says that the establishment of the Islamic
government is not imperative denies in fact, the necessity of enforcing the
laws of Islam and calls for their suspension. Consequently, he denies the
comprehensiveness and perpetuity of the true religion of Islam9.
As the Imam himself made a tremendous Ijtihad of Vilayat al-faqih, he urged other Ulama to
continue the process of Ijtihad.
theological centers and religious scholars should always hold the pulse of the
society's future ideas and needs. They should always be ahead and ready to show
the right direction. It might be that in the coming years the dominant methods
of governing the people would change and that the human communities would be
need of new issues set forth by Islam in order to redress their problems. The
grand Ulama should bear this matter in mind from now10
Qualifications of Vilayat-e-Faqih (leader of
Imam Khomeini stresses on two qualifications:
Fiqahat (command over fiqh) and Adl (justice).
He says in this regard:
Islamic government is a legal government aiming at implementing the Divine
laws. Its objective is to bring about justice and execute divine laws among
people. Thus the leader of such a state should fulfill two conditions,
considered to be the basis of the state: knowledge of law and justice. The
matter of efficiency and ability of management are contained in knowledge of a
ruler. This may be considered as a third condition. Thus, leadership belongs to
a just faqih11.
To identify the interests of Muslim society is
also the necessary condition for Valy al-faqihin the view of Imam. He says:
If a person is the most learned in religious studies but is unable to recognize
the interests of his society or distinguish between useful and useless persons
for the society i.e. he does not have a proper social insight, he is not in
fact Mujtahid and can not pass decrees on socio-political
affairs. Hence, he is not eligible to hold the authority12Ã‚Â.
Imam's views about the authority and
jurisdiction of Valy al-faqih
Explaining the authority and jurisdiction of an
Islamic ruler Imam says:
In an Islamic state, God is the ruler. The
prophets and their successors try to be the executors of the rules of God. They
never forward any rule versus God's rule. Yet, they use their authority
wherever there is not any clear principle13
Two basic questions were unresolved regarding
the jurisdiction of Valy al-faqih and there were also some confusion about them in
the ranks of Iranian Ulama. The questions were:
1. Does the jurisdiction of Valy al-faqih encompass the primary and secondary religious
laws or is it limited only to certain social and individual matters?
2. Is the guardianship of a Valy al-faqih limited to the enacted laws, or he can overrule
Imam in his letter to the then labor minister
issued his clear statement over these issues and resolved the matter:
It is said that I held that government has authority but within the framework
of divine rule. Such assertion is against my ideas. If the authority of state
is within the divine derivative commandments, then divine rule and absolute
guardianship of the prophet (s) should be meaningless. State is a branch of the
prophet's absolute guardianship. It is one of the primary rules of Islam and is
prior to all derivative commandments, like prayer, fasting and Hajj pilgrimage
.State can stop any issue whether ritualistic or non-ritualistic if it is
against the interests of Islam15
The Imam's Political Islam
finds its full expression in the present Islamic system ofIran.
The present Islamic system of Iran is true reflection of Imam's political thought as there are three
main components of it-namely Vilayat al-faqih, freedom and republicanism. The system in its
nature is both divine and human and it is executed democratically as well as
Islamically by means of competitive elitism/meritocracy, governmental
periodicity and a divine-human government.
Even though Imam views peoples' will as origin of state power and describes Majlis(Parliament) as the highest embodiment of peoples' will, his
perspective differs from that of pure democracy and liberalism in that the
people-according to him-ought to execute their authority in a particular manner
i.e. the will of the masses should be bound by divine will, and this binding is
materialized/manifested by the guardianship of the Vilayat al-faqih over the government16.
As the Imam Khomeini (R.A) states:
Without a Vilayat al-faqih, a government becomes despotic. If it does not
accord with God's command and the president is not elected under the order of Faqih, it (the government) becomes illegitimate; and its despotism is a
result of it being illegitimate. Obeying this government is to obey the
Denial of conservatism in Imam's Political
Imam also rejected the fossilized and static
version of Islam. Imam preached for a dynamic Islam. The late Imam placed a
special emphasis on the fact that Islam should tackle the problems that face
today's man. According to the late Imam the only acceptable Ijtihad is that which is victorious in clashes with
intellectual, political and economic ideologies and in fighting against
machinations and conspiracies, and this is an Ijtihad which has been more
noble than and quite different from the Ijtihad that we have so far
There have been quite a number of pseudo-clerics
with fossilized beliefs in religious centers who are active against our Islamic
revolution and pure Muhammadi Islam. In the guise of piety, they are rooting
out religion, the revolution and the Islamic system. It is incumbent upon
religious students not to underrate the danger of the backward-minded and the
inane who make a show of piety. They are the enemies of Prophet of Islam (SAWA)
and propagating the American (version) of Islam19.
1. The fusion of the Gnostic and the political in the personality and
life of Imam Khomeini (R.A) By Hamid Algar, Quarterly Journal Al-Tawhid,
Tehran, June 2003.
3. The sparks that lit the movement, published by the ministry of
Islamic guidance, the Islamic republic of Iran.
4. Dialogue among Islamic schools of thought: 1st precondition
of Islamic unity by Mohammad Ali Rabbani, Quarterly Al-Tawhid, Tehran,
5. Maulana Mawdudi and Hyderabad by Omar Khalidi, quarterly
journal Ã¢â‚¬Å“Islamic Studies", Islamabad, spring 2002.
6. The politics of an Islamic movement: The Jamat-e-Islamic of Pakistan.
Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr's PhD dissertation, MIT (1991).
7. Issues in the Islamic movement (1982-83) by Dr. Kalim Siddiqui,
open press, London.
8. Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyyah by Qadi Abi Yali, Maktab al-Alam al-Islam,
quoted by Kazim Qadi Zadih in his article Ã¢â‚¬Å“General Principles of Imam
Khomeini's political thought"which is translated in English by Dr. A.N.
Baqirshahi, published in quarterly journal Message of Thqalayn, Tehran,
9. Al-Hukumat al-Islamiyyah by Imam Khomeini (R.A), quoted in the
article Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hukumat-e-Islami" by Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan, quarterly Al-Tawhid, Tehran,
10. Quotation in Imam
Khumayni's view on Ijtehad, by S.M. Rida Hijazi, quaterly Message of Thaqalayn,
Tehran, April 1995.
11. Kitab al-bay, by Imam
12. Sahifa-Nur, vol:21,
13. Ibid, vol:11, P-123.
14. General Principles of
Imam Khumayni' political thought by Kazim Qazi Zadih translated in English by
Dr. A.N. Baqirshahi Thqalayn, Tehran, Winter-1995-96.
15. Sahifa-Nur, vol:20,
16. Democracy as seen in the
Political Philosophy of Imam Khomeini (R.A) by Hamid Hadji Haidar, quarterly
Al-Tawhid,Tehran, winter 2004.
17. Sahifa-Nur, P-220.
18. Imam Khomeini (R.A): The
Reviver of pure Islam by Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, quarterly Al-Tawhid, Tehran,
19. Sahif-e-Nour, vol: 21, P-41