The Crimes of the Shah

The Crimes of the Shah
by Ruhollah Khomeini

Delivered on February 18, 1978 at the Shaykh Ansari Mosque in Najaf, Iraq.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

And there is no power and no strength save in God, the Most High, the Great
And surely we are God's and to Him we shall surely return

As we are gathered here, according to the information reaching us, all the major cities of Iran such as Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad and Qum are closed down. Some cities, such as Qum, are completely closed down while in others, the bazaar and other centres of activity are closed. We hear that the bazaar in Tehran is completely closed except for a few merchants who may have some connection with the regime. From what we are told, these closings represent a form of active protest against the Shah himself. The people have identified the true criminal. Of course his identity was obvious before but no one dared to speak out. Now however, by God's grace, this barrier of fear has collapsed and people have succeeded in the main task of identifying the true criminal and realising who is responsible for the misery of our nation.

Forty days have now passed since the death of our young ones, our students of the religious sciences, our clergy and our devout youngsters of Qum. How people have wept and mourned during these forty days; and what courage - the like of which has rarely been equalled in history - was displayed by the people of Qum and the students of the religious sciences who fought bare-handed against the government and the Shah's agents and yielded their martyrs. According to reports, the agents of the regime spilled into the streets and alleyways of Qum and attacked the people; but the latter resisted to the best of their ability, both before and after the massacre, thus proving they are alive and not dead![1] Likewise, the great maraji` of Islam in Qum, have expressed themselves courageously both in their speeches and in their declarations[2], including the one issued two or three days ago on the occasion of the fortieth day following the massacre and the general strike ordained for that day. In this declaration they addressed the main issue and stated who is responsible for the crime, albeit not explicitly but rather by implication which is in fact more effective. May God keep them steadfast. The students of the religious sciences, despite living in a place which is subject to attack by those bandits, yesterday organised an impressive mourning ceremony which was attended by a large number of people, and at which several vigilant and active youngsters fearlessly gave a truthful account of the state of affairs.

According to reliable information, as we sit here in Qum, a great meeting is taking place at A'zam Mosque in this city. I don't know what the government intends to do about this meeting. I wonder whether the regime's agents have once more gone on the rampage, killing and plundering? This is now a matter of grave concern to us. We are anxious and concerned for the people of all the major cities in Iran; cities like Mashhad, towards which the government shows a particular sensitivity; or Azerbayjan and Tabriz, which are under government observation. And I wonder what lies in store for Qum, which is the centre of all our struggles and the centre of learning from whence knowledge is disseminated to all lands, (just as was predicted by the Prophet's family (pbut)), what danger awaits her? In fact, we now see that not only is knowledge disseminated from Qum, but action too, whereby it is now the centre of Islamic activity - the centre of the Islamic movement.

The movement emanates from Qum, from the city itself, from the religious students, from the `ulama, from the teachers (may God support all of them), from the masses of its people who are the faithful soldiers of Islam, and it spreads throughout the country. It remains to be seen whether it will spread to us here in Najaf or not; God only knows what will happen.

All the miseries that we have suffered, still suffer and are about to suffer in the immediate future, are caused by the heads of those countries that have signed the Declaration of Human Rights, but that at all times have denied man his freedom. The declaration's maxim is "freedom of the individual." Each individual human being is born free and must remain free. Everyone must be equal before the law; they must be free in their choice of residence and occupation, and they must enjoy freedom in their everyday lives. This is what the Declaration of Human Rights advocates. From the time that this declaration came into being not only Muslims but mankind as a whole have suffered at the hands of those states that signed and ratified it. The US is one of the signatories of this document. It has agreed that the rights of man must be protected and that freedom is one such right. But just look at what crimes the US, this so-called signatory of the Declaration of Human Rights, has committed against mankind. For as long as I can remember - and I can remember back further than many of you, for you are younger than I - America, one of the countries which gave its signature to the issue concerning human rights, has been the cause of disasters for mankind. It has appointed its agents in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries to deprive everyone living under its domination of his freedom. The imperialists advocate man's freedom in order to deceive the masses; but people can no longer be deceived. All of these issues to which they give official sanction, of which the Declaration of Human Rights is but an example, are mere acts of deception and hold no authenticity. They draw up some pleasant-looking, high-sounding declaration with thirty articles relating to human rights, but in practice they neglect to enact a single one of them! This Declaration of Human Rights is but a fallacy; it is the opium of the masses.

What we have said is true not only of America but also of Britain, another country that signed and ratified the Declaration of Human Rights; a country whose civilisation and democracy are so highly praised by those who Britain itself has convinced of its praise worthiness via effective propaganda and cunning. Indeed, it has succeeded in convincing people that it is the leader of democracy and the home of true constitutionalism. But we have all seen what crimes and atrocities Britain has committed in India, Pakistan and its other colonies. The imperialist states like America and Britain brought Israel into existence, and we have seen what misery they have inflicted and continue to inflict on the Muslims there, and in particular on the Shi`i Muslims. Meanwhile, they have installed an agent in Egypt named Sadat, whose every act is devoted to serving imperialism and who, only a short time ago, visited Israel where he gave it official recognition and approved of every word the Israelis had to say.

For as long as I can remember during the past fifty years - fifty years of national mourning and tragedy inflicted on our nation by this disgraceful family - it was Britain, this democratic lover of mankind and signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights, that kept the Iranian people suppressed and afflicted. In fact it was Britain, according to its own admission, that brought Riza Shah to power. For almost twenty years, we, the religious scholars, and the Muslim nation as a whole were subject to intense pressure. Riza Shah wished to expunge every trace of the shari`a. Of course, he did not succeed but this was his intention. Hence, anything which bore the remotest resemblance to Islamic propagation was prohibited.

As for America, that other signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights, it imposed this Shah upon us; a worthy successor to his father. During his period of rule he has turned Iran into an official colony of the U.S.. What terrible crimes he has committed in the service of his masters! Indeed, what terrible crimes both he and his father have committed against us all since their appointment by these signatories to the Declaration of Human Rights - these very signatories who have brought such misery and suppression to mankind, of which we have heard and witnessed but a fraction. However, one cannot truly understand a situation by hearing about it alone. You may hear of what this nation experienced at the time of Riza Shah, but you cannot actually conceive what the people themselves in fact felt and experienced, or what they suffered at the hands of these people. You are only able to appreciate and sense what this man is doing now, at the present time, and then only insofar as you are now physically present. You are thus aware of the present situation in Iran. You can appreciate what this man has done to this nation during the past few days. Even now it would not surprise me if at this very moment some confrontation or conflict is taking place between the people and the Shah's agents, although we have not yet in fact received any reports to this effect. What we do know however, is that agents of the regime have attacked the forecourt of the Shah Mosque in Tehran and have forced a few shops there to open up for business, but the Tehran bazaar as a whole has not surrendered.

Even though the government has sent a circular to all the bazaars in Iran forbidding anyone to close his shop and threatening severe punishment for disobedience, nevertheless, not a single bazaar in the country has paid any attention to this threat, not even the bazaar in Tehran which lies within close range of the regime. People no longer pay any attention to these empty noises. Gone are the days when they could intimidate people and frighten them into heeding their warnings . . . today people are being killed, yet they refuse to heed any threats.

It is now forty days since the massacre in which many of the `ulama and the young and devout people of Qum were killed. May God preserve the Iranian people and the theological centre of Qum, both of which in proving how fully alive they are have ensured the recording of their names in the annals of history. Even now as we calmly sit here, these people are in a state of intense activity. You can't imagine the condition Mashhad is now in. I have no detailed information of its present state but I do know that until recently everything was closed down there. The same is true for Azerbayjan; there too everything was closed, but more than this I cannot say. According to the reports we have received, a general shutdown prevails in Qum whereby not even a single grocer's shop is open. Even Tehran is ninety percent closed and to achieve this is not as easy as one may imagine. In fact the closure of Tehran is a smack in the mouth for those babblers who once said that they had the backing of six million people who had voted in favour of their White Revolution! That was a foolish claim to make. I was in Iran at the time, and sent some people to Tehran to find out what this "referendum" of theirs was that they wanted to stage. When they returned they told me that no more than 2,000 people had gone to cast their votes, and that even these were in fact their own agents.

Yes, they once said: "Six million of the Iranian people have given us their vote, and since the rest of the people are either elderly, women or infants and hence unable to vote, the six-point programme has been given unanimous approval." The Shah too would repeatedly claim in his speeches that: "The people are with me. Only a handful of people voice objection every now and then and they are the Islamic Marxists, otherwise the nation is behind me!" Now you will see the uproar that the regime will cause following this national shutdown. They will object and behave as they did previously after the week-long closing in Qum, the eight-day closing in Isfahan, and the two or three days of partial closing and the one day of complete closing in Tehran. On the latter occasion some unsuspecting wretches were seized by the Shah's agents and loaded onto buses; whilst another group of the regime's officials sent circulars to government offices and schools demanding that they close down and participate in a government-staged demonstration.

This is what you call freedom, demanding that people "freely" participate! Notwithstanding, most government offices ignored the circulars they had received. As for those poor wretches who had been loaded onto the buses, they were falsely told that they were being taken on a pilgrimage to Qum, and on realising the truth of the matter during the journey, those who were able to, fled. From what I was told, those who remained behind and who were compelled to take part in the demonstration behaved as though they were participating in a funeral ceremony. However much they were told to shout "Long live the Shah", they remained silent. The whole crowd was as silent as if it was attending a funeral! Indeed this was in fact the case, for they were attending the Shah's funeral. Those who rule us do not appreciate the situation and once again we have failed in our attempts to reform them. If only they had compromised somewhat with the people; if only they had heeded the people's demands; if only they had performed their duties; if only they had shown sympathy towards Islam and the laws of Islam then the people would not have opposed them so. But the people see that "His Imperial Majesty" is against whatever they attach value to. He is against the Islamic calendar which means he is against Islam itself. In fact the worst thing that this man has done during his reign is to change the calendar. Changing the calendar is even worse than these massacres; it is an affront to the Most Noble Messenger himself (pbuh).

In spite of such plans however, they will never achieve ultimate success. Just as they tampered with the Islamic calendar which meant so much to the people, so too they attacked the centres of learning. They have raided and plundered our madrasas several times now.[3] Before, it was the Fayziya Madrasa that they stormed and made the scene of their crimes, but now it is the Hujjatiya Madrasa, the Khan Madrasa and the Haqqani Madrasa which are the targets of their attacks - or in fact any madrasa whose gates are open and where gatherings take place, however small. We are told that the entire doors and windows of the Khan Madrasa have been knocked in and smashed by rifle butts, and that a student of the religious sciences was shot and killed at the gate of the Hujjatiya Madrasa. One of the `ulama who went to visit the scene told me on his return that a stream of blood ran from the place where the student had been shot to the edge of the pool in the madrasa courtyard.[4]

Do you suppose the chief of police in Qum is responsible for such actions? No, he is not capable of doing such things. Don't repeatedly put the blame on the officials of the regime. The Shah himself is the culprit. He is the one who gives the orders and tells them to kill. If he didn't give the command to kill, there would be no killings. Do you imagine it is a trivial affair to open fire on a whole nation with rifles and machine guns, or to make an armed attack on the theological centre in Qum which is so loved and highly respected by the people? Do you imagine that the command for such action could be given by the head of SAVAK in Tehran, the head of SAVAK in Qum or even the Prime Minister? No, it is the Shah himself; he is the prime culprit! And who is responsible for imposing him on us? The Shah himself stated in his book: "The Allies, after occupying Iran, thought it fitting that I should be in control of affairs, and they agreed to my accession to the throne."[5] May God curse them for thinking it fitting. Later, on realising the mistake in having mentioned this matter, it was erased from the text. Those Allies, those who signed the Declaration of Human Rights, it is they who appointed such a person to reign over us, and it is they who brought about such repression. You say mankind is free! But what about the Iranian people? Yes, the imperialists appointed a man to rule in Iran, as they had his father before him; the latter also having denied the people all kinds of freedom. But the situation was different then, either people were unable to confront the regime then as they can now or their consciousness was not yet truly awaken.

The theological centre in Qum has brought Iran back to life; it has performed a service to Islam that will endure for centuries. This service must not be underestimated; we must pray for the theological centre in Qum and pray that we will come to emulate it. This centre's name will remain inscribed in history for all time. In comparison to Qum, we here in Najaf are dead and buried; it is Qum that has brought Islam back to life. It is the centre in Qum and the preaching of its maraji` and `ulama that have awakened the universities, those same places where we religious scholars used to be accused of being the opium of the people and the agents of the British and other imperialists. No, all that was the propaganda of Britain, Germany, the Soviet Union and others, designed to misrepresent us and make the `ulama and their institutions appear to be the opium of the people. They spread such propaganda because they know full well how active the religious scholars are and what a dynamic and militant religion Islam is.

They drew up a plan to bring the religious scholars into disrepute, and propagated the notion that religion must be separated from politics. This campaign has been in operation for many years now, whereby even the akhunds themselves have now become convinced by it and ask the question: "What business do we have with politics?" But to pose such a question is in fact to abandon Islam, to bury it in our chambers in the madrasa and in our books of religious learning.

The imperial powers dearly wish that religion could be separated from politics and politics from religion. From the very beginning this is the idea that our politicians have promoted, until it has reached the stage where even we, the clergy, have come to believe that politics is none of our concern, and must be left to the politicians; and that we must concern ourselves with matters of religion only and turn the other cheek if they slap us in the face. This idea of turning the other cheek has been wrongly attributed to Jesus (pbuh); and yet again this too has been the doing of these imperial beasts. Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet, and no prophet can be so illogical. Look at the history of the prophets. We see how Jesus did not remain among his people very long before his ascension to heaven. You are all aware of the history of the prophets. It is well known that the exalted prophet Abraham (pbuh), one of the earliest true prophets of God, took up his axe and shattered all the idols. He was not afraid of being cast into the fire and burned. If he had been afraid of such things then he would not have been a prophet. This man who stood alone before such great forces and who was then cast into the fire, he could not follow a logic that required him, if slapped on one cheek, to turn the other cheek for it also to be slapped. That is the logic of the indolent, the logic of those who do not know God and who have not studied the Qur'an. Then look at Moses (pbuh), a simple shepherd with nothing but his staff in hand. He too fought single-handed and he did so against Pharaoh who made claim to divinity. Here too, the Shah would like to make such a claim but he realises that now is not the right time, for people would not believe him. Nevertheless, should he detect the least relaxation in our vigilance then he too would cry: "I am your Lord the Most High". There have always been those who have made such absurd claims in the past, and there always will be. And then there is the Most Noble Messenger (peace and blessings of God be upon him). As you well know, he began his mission alone, prepared himself for the struggle to come for thirteen years and then fought for a decade. He did not ask: "What business do I have with politics?" But rather he administered the entire Islamic realm. The same was true of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh). He ruled, engaged in politics and fought wars. He never said: "Let me sit at home and devote myself to prayer and worship and not concern myself with political issues."

But now we find one of the `ulama (may God grant him mercy) saying: "If the Imam of the Age (pbuh) considers it to be the appropriate time then he will come. I cannot claim to be more concerned for Islam than he is and he is well aware of the present situation. Thus, he is the one who must make the first move to remedy our affairs and not I!" This, however, is the logic of those who want to shirk responsibility, it is not a logic of which Islam approves. Islam does not acknowledge such reasoning. Those who reason in this way conduct diligent searches in order to come up with a couple of religious traditions which tell us, for example, to make our peace with kings or to pray for them. But this is contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an. They have obviously not read this holy book. Even if they could find a hundred such traditions, it would not further their argument for such traditions are in discord with the Qur'an and the custom of the prophets. There is a tradition that says: "Whoever wishes long life for a king will be resurrected along with him." Could a Muslim possibly wish long life for a king, whereby that king might commit more injustice? Could anyone wish to maintain relations with someone who slaughters people; who slaughters the `ulama?

Are you aware of how many of our great `ulama, our valued teachers, are now living in prison or in exile? These are the very same `ulama and religious scholars who, until recently, were living in exile and who, on being released, returned to their home towns, clenched their fists and began to speak out against the government and the Shah. Once again they were arrested. The honourable young gentleman who delivered a speech at the commemorative gathering yesterday afternoon had previously endured imprisonment and banishment; and it is quite likely that he has been arrested again now, or that he will be tomorrow. This is what true Muslims are made of. He is the true Muslim, who, when he comes out of prison, clenches his fist and resumes his struggle. The Prophet (pbuh) stated in a tradition that even if a Muslim constantly says: "La ilaha illa`llah", but he shows no concern for the affairs of his fellow Muslims, he is not a Muslim. A Muslim is the person who works to benefit Islam and his fellow Muslims; fellow Muslims such as those killed by the Shah. They kill our young men and yet we shouldn't care? They kill our `ulama and yet we shouldn't care? Are we supposed to agree to all this, or to behave as if we are in agreement? If this is so then we must become different human beings!

In Iran our young men were imprisoned and banished and now they are subject to the same measures again. But when these courageous youths return from prison or exile they recommence their struggle, returning to the themes of their earlier preaching. Again they are sent into exile. But even if they were to be banished or imprisoned and then released ten times over they would still be the same people that they were in the beginning. This is because they have received true Islamic training. Similarly, if the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) were to be killed and then brought back to life a hundred times over, he would still be the same Commander of the Faithful. But take some apathetic person and kill him, if you were to bring him back to life, he would still be as apathetic as before.

We have suffered and continue to suffer all these misfortunes at the hands of those government heads who have signed the Declaration of Human Rights and who loudly proclaim man's right to freedom. Before, it was the British that brought us misfortune (until the time when they no longer held such influence in our country), and now it is the Russians on the one hand and the Americans on the other. These are the ones who are responsible for all our miseries. If only they were to withdraw their protection and backing of those in the Iranian government, the people would skin them alive. It is the government of Iran which granted absolute immunity to the American advisers, for which it got a few dollars in exchange; and one can see how many American officials there are in Iran now and what huge salaries they receive! That is our problem - everything in our treasury has to be emptied into the pockets of America, and if there is any meagre amount to spare, it has to go into the pockets of the Shah and his gang. They buy themselves villas and goodness knows what else abroad and stuff their bank accounts with the people's money whilst the nation lives in poverty. At the same time, they constantly proclaim: "Iran is one of the most advanced countries in the world. It is now on a par with America, or at least Japan" (and maybe even a little more advanced than Japan). But the absurdity of these words and the warped thinking that underlies them have become apparent to everyone. Even the corner grocer will tell you that the Shah is talking nonsense but that "he is quite unashamed and goes right on talking, so what can be done about it?"

After these events, the general strike and shutdown, you will see in tomorrow's newspapers that they're back to their old bombastic claims: "We hold the support of all the nation; all the people are with us except for a few misguided individuals; those clergymen who are truly enlightened support us, as for the rest they are all reactionaries including the `ulama and the great maraji` of Qum who announced a general shutdown, the "true" religious scholars - that's what they call them - are all in agreement with us." The only problem is that these "true" religious scholars are only to be found in the newspapers. To which "true" religious scholars do they refer? How can any Muslim ever agree with you or consent to the killing of these people? Yes, the case may be that sometimes a Muslim or a scholar is afraid and says nothing, whereas at other times he is not afraid and speaks out; at times a student of the religious sciences is afraid and does not leave his home, whereas at other times he is not afraid and cries out in protest! But "agreement", that is the wrong word; what scholar could possibly agree with you? Could someone be a religious scholar and agree with a massacre? Is it at all possible? Can someone believe in Islam and yet agree with abolishing the Islamic calendar in favour of the calendar of the unbelievers? Could any Muslim agree with this scandalous uncovering of women? The women of Iran have themselves risen up against the Shah and landed him a blow by crying: "We don't want to live this way! We want to be free!" To which this good-for-nothing replies: "But you are free! The only thing is that you cannot go to school wearing a chadur or headcovering!" You call this freedom? I can't make this state of affairs out in Iran. This Shah and his government are some kind of misbegotten monsters that are difficult to identify.

Our country is in such a terrible state and we are faced with so many difficulties. God only knows the kinds of problems the people are experiencing and only a fraction are referred to me. For example, they tell me: "We want to build a water- storage tank at such-and-such a place, because the people have no water there and women have to travel about six kilometres to fetch water. Now if people don't even have water, how about electricity or decent roads, do they have these? No, in fact they have nothing!

Don't look at the part of Tehran where, on the face of it at least, things have been put in order, take a look at the other part of the city. Go look at those pits, those holes in the ground in which people live, dwellings you reach by descending about a hundred steps into the ground. What a terrible place to live! Homes that people have made from rush matting or clay so their poor children can have somewhere to live. Yes, I am talking about Tehran and not some remote village or town; this is how things are in Tehran. When you enter the city you see all the cars and that deceptive exterior, but you haven't seen the state the other side of town is in. The people who live there have no current drinking water in their homes. They have to take their pitchers and climb up those hundred steps until they come to a water tap, then fill their pitchers and climb down again. Picture some poor woman in the middle of the biting winter climbing up and down those steps to fetch water for her children. A reliable informant, the congregational prayer leader of Pamnar, told me of how one of the families that was driven out from one such hole went and sat down in the middle of Pamnar Avenue. This poor man with his wife and children sat there until finally people gathered around and helped to find them a place to live. They weren't even allowed to live in that hole in the ground. Even that was taken from them! That is our "progressive" country for you, and its capital city of Tehran. In one of their very own newspapers they wrote that in some parts of the country - I can't remember exactly where, I think maybe it was in the region of Shushtar - when the people wake up in the morning they wash the trachoma-infected eyes of their children with urine so they can open their eyes. This is the state of our advanced and progressive country! Urine is used for bathing purposes because there is a lack of water.

Is our country really so poor? What happens to all of its money? Our country possesses an ocean of oil. It has iron, precious metals, and much more. Indeed, Iran is a rich country. But those so-called "friends of mankind" have appointed their agent to rule this country in order to prevent the poor from benefiting from its riches. Everything must go into his masters' pockets and be spent on their enjoyment. Should a small portion of this wealth be left over, then even that goes to the Shah and his gang. Although a trifling amount by comparison, still there is enough for them to have a villa, a palace and an estate awaiting them wherever they travel, in addition to enjoying healthy bank accounts - yes they are truly well-off.

They fooled people for a time with this Carter by saying that he would do such-and-such and would take all kinds of positive measures if he came to power. Once in power however, he said clearly - liars have short memories after all - "There can be no question of human rights in countries where we have military bases; human rights must not even be mentioned". For after all freedom is part of human rights. First he says human rights are inalienable and then he says: "I don't want to hear about human rights". Of course he's right from his own point of view; he uses the logic of bandits. The head of a government that has signed the Declaration of Human Rights says: "We have military bases in Iran; we can't talk about human rights there. Respect for human rights is feasible only in countries where we have no military bases". But for all its boasting about human rights, what miseries America has inflicted on the peoples of Latin America, in its own hemisphere! Again we see what it has done to Lebanon. There too it installs an agent and reduces the country to its present miserable state; and in Egypt it installs another, by the name of Sadat, whose every act is devoted to serving imperialism. A short time ago the latter went to Israel and gave it official recognition whilst approving of whatever the Israelis had to say. The Shah of Iran also says that it is necessary to make peace with Israel. In fact this wretch gave Israel recognition twenty years ago. I was in Qum at the time when he gave recognition to this government of infidels - and Jewish infidels at that - thereby affronting Islam, the Qur'an, the Muslim governments and the entire Muslim people. The name of Israel was not openly mentioned at first, but later it was.

Indeed, this person was a slave from the very beginning as he himself later made clear. This man (the Shah) who openly raises the question of human rights is in fact quite right to ask what it is all about. What does human rights mean? It means the logic of bandits! It is nothing to do with human rights. The logic of bandits cannot be other than banditry, expressed with machine guns and rifles, by gunning down the religious scholars, by the destruction of the Fayziya Madrasa, and the subsequent closing and sequestration of this centre of Ja`fari Shi`ism. Fayziya Madrasa has been closed for several years now. They plundered the madrasa and robbed its students; they burned the turbans of the religious students and even burned their books! They insulted the Qur'an itself! That is the logic of bandits. As you know, the students in Qum then made their headquarters in the Hujjatiya and Khan Madrasas, and there too they have been attacked and beaten. But if they are beaten and expelled from their madrasa a hundred times over, they will establish their base in yet another madrasa, for they have come to life, they have awakened!

As we sit here, we don't know what is happening to our Muslim brothers in Iran. It is a cause for anxiety; but we shall have to wait until tomorrow to see what happens and how events evolve. One thing that is for certain is that an impressive ceremony was organised yesterday afternoon in memory of those who were killed in Qum. And today too, A'zam Mosque in Qum is full of people and the bazaars and shops of Qum are all closed down. The bazaars in other towns too have also been closed, according to what I have been told. There is no news yet from Shiraz and Isfahan but I have no doubt that there too the bazaars are closed. This is a bewildering situation. Their logic is the logic of the machine-gun, and the logic of all too many of us is silence. Some say there is no alternative but to remain silent. Their logic is to slap us, and our logic is to be slapped! They claim Jesus (pbuh) recommended turning the other cheek. But he would never do such a thing for that is the logic of the apathetic! Jesus was a great prophet. He began his struggle in the cradle when he said: I shall rise up to establish prayer and worship. According to the Qur'an he was a prophet while still in the cradle. Is it possible that such a person could utter such apathetic, cowardly words? This recommendation to turn the other cheek was invented by those who claimed some affiliation to Jesus. They deceived the Christians and made them completely passive towards their governments.

There are people among us who tell us we must swallow whatever poison the "holders of authority" wish to force down our throats, simply because they are the "authorities". We mustn't say a word against these tyrannical "authorities". But if what they say is true, then why did Imam Husayn (pbuh) oppose the authorities? Why did he confront Yazid and his government "tu'telmulk"!?

A certain akhund wrote to me a few years ago to ask me: "Why do you oppose the government? Do you not know that God gives authority to whomever He wishes?" I didn't even answer him. He wasn't worth answering. But his question involved a clear denial of the Qur'an. In a way, it can be argued that God gave kingship to the Pharaoh, but didn't Moses (pbuh) oppose him? Nimrod's kingship was also a divine gift in the sense that everything is from God, but didn't Abraham (pbuh) oppose him? Mu`awiya also represented the "holders of authority", so why did first the Commander of the Faithful and later Imam Husayn (pbut) oppose him? And then Imam Husayn (pbuh) rounded up his family and fifty or sixty followers and rose up in revolt against another "holder of authority", Yazid. Why did he do that? Clearly those who disagree with revolt against the authorities talk sheer nonsense!

Those "holders of authority" who are mentioned immediately after God and His Messenger in the Qur'an must also be close to God and His Messenger in their practice. They must be the shadow of God and his Messenger. Yes, the Islamic ruler is the shadow of God, but that which is meant by shadow is something which of itself has no motion. Your shadow does not move by itself, it moves only when you move. Islam recognises that person as the "shadow of God" who abandons all individual volition in the sense that he acts only in accordance with the ordinances of Islam, his motion therefore being dependent and not independent. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) was indeed a true shadow of God. But can the same be said for this vile man, the Shah? Yes, a few thoughtless people among us say so; but that would mean that anyone who rebelled against Yazid who was also a "holder of authority" deserved to be killed! In fact, at the time of Yazid, the Umayyad judges delivered a verdict that Imam Husayn, the Lord of the Martyrs, deserved death!

We have not read the Qur'an properly, and have not understood its logic. Above all else, we must study the Qur'an. The Qur'an has given instructions for everything and has made clear what our duties are. It has told us how we are to treat kings. Why does the Qur'an repeat the story of Moses (pbuh) so frequently? Is it just meant to be an entertaining story? If the Qur'an wanted to tell us a story, one recitation would be enough. So what is the purpose behind the Qur'an's insistence on repeating the story of Moses and his opposition to the Pharaoh? It is to make us understand!

The Qur'an constantly discusses warfare against the unbelievers and mentions the affair concerning the hypocrites (munafiqin). Is this purely for the purpose of telling us a story? Is the Qur'an a story-book? The Qur'an is a book designed to produce true human beings; it is a book intended to create active human beings. It is a book that deals with everything in this world, from beginning to end, and covers all the stages in man's development. It is a book that regulates man's spiritual life and orders its government. Everything is there in the Qur'an, in the traditions of the Most Noble Messenger (pbuh) and in the traditions of the Immaculate Imams (pbut). But careful study of all these sources is needed for us to understand what our duty is. We repeatedly read in the Qur'an that the Pharaoh behaved in one way and that Moses behaved in another, but we do not consider why the Qur'an tells us all this. It tells us this so that we too may act like Moses towards the Pharaoh of our age. Let us take up our staffs and oppose this vile man. At the very least, let no one support this regime.

May Almighty God grant you all success. May Almighty God remove this evil rule from the Muslims. May God, Exalted and Almighty, preserve our people in the midst of their tribulation. May God, Exalted and Almighty, grant a favourable end to this struggle both to the Muslims and to Islam.


  1. A reference to the January 9th incident
  2. The Clergy Society of Iran issued statements, calling for a day of mourning to mark the 40th day after the incident, and calling on Muslims to rise up against the apostate government
  3. Fayziya Madrasa, Khan Madrasa and Haqqani Madras were all the subject of raids by SAVAK forces
  4. During the January 9, 1978 protests, one student chanting slogans from the second storey of the Hujjatiya Madrasa was shot by government forces, and carried to the pool by colleagues, where he died.
  5. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Mission for my Country, London, 1961

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