Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution

The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution
by Amir Taheri
Adler and Adler c1985

COMMENT: Good book. Good writing. Concise, vivid. Better than Moin's biography of Khomeini, except ... why am I hearing so many anecdotes for the first time from a book published in 1985 not in Moin's 2000 copyrighted bio? Is there some question of accuracy? Taheri is now a pro-Iraq invasion, pro-Bush member of some PR firm.
Taheri emphasizes the ruthlessness and deviousness of Khomeini, though giving him his due, and the weak personality and political incompetence of the Shah, rather than the policies that alienated Iranians (corruption, westoxification, oppressive SAVAK).
Khomeini is portrayed as emphasizing rumour and slander - "The Shah is an American! The Shah is a Jew!" - rather than what exactly the Shah is doing wrong. Khomeini's projection of being for freedom of expression and equal rights is presented as shrewd con job of the West and the Westernized Iranians rather than outright lying.
The Shah in his turn is at first arrogantly oblivious of what's going on in Iran, fancying himself a statesman of world affairs. When he does turn his attention to Iran, he bungles his counterattack, attacking 'ulama in general instead of trying to divide the influential quietist clerics (e.g. Shariatmadaria) from Khomeini. After his feeble counterattacks fail he all but gives up, telling the nation, `As Shah of Iran as well as an Iranian citizen, I cannot but approve your revolution,` though the main slogan of the revolution was `Death to the Shah`!

Taheri also portrays the revolution not as a triumph of courage and thirst for justice over a mighty and tyrannical state, or even as an upheaval by people who had had too much westernization and modernization and felt their identity was in danger, but as an outburst of foolishness and immaturity. People buying Khomeini's slander and rumour about the Shah. Believing anything they want to believe (that the Imam will step aside for civilian rule, and not return Iran to the middle ages). Bourgeois youngsters playing make-believe revolutionary.


History - the Revolution of 1906 - Shaikh Fazlollah Nuri - Precursor of the Revolution

Shaikh Fazlollah Nuri was "an obscurantist par excellence who had spent years studying the universe of the jinn. Although not a sayyed and wearing a white turban as a result, he had earned the title of Hojat al-Islam va al-Moslemeen (The Vicar of Islam and Muslims) from his numerous pupils and followers. The shaikh had moved to Tehran from Najaf at the turn of the century partly to keep an eye on the estimated 300 villages left to him on his father's death in 1898. ...
His one-track mind and vitriolic jeremiads, issued with exceptional gusto to audiences of poor illiterate peasants and shopkeepers, earned him the nickname of Gav-e-Mojassam (the Perfect Ass) from the constitutionalist leaders. ...
Shaikh Fazlollah sided with rebellion princelings and aristocrats supported by Russia. It was on their behalf that he declared jihad (holy war) against the constitutional government, announcing that all members of the new parliament and government were koffar al-harbi (warlike pagans) and thus their blood ought to be shed by the faithful. The declaration sealed his fate. Arrested while delivering one of his incendiary sermons, the mullah was tried by an Islamic court with a single set up in direct violation of the new constitution. The judge, Ayatollah Zanjani, also acted as prosecutor and found Shaikh Fazlollah guilty of treason, warring on Allah and spreading corruption on earth - All Qur'anic concepts. The rebellious shaikh was duly sentenced to death and hanged at the Tup-Khaneh (Cannon House) Square in central Tehran. A crowd of several thousands had gathered to watch the hanging long before sunrise. A festive atmosphere had been created by constitutionalist musicians singing and playing revolutionary songs. Sweets and fruits were distributed among the spectators. Here and there in the vast square people gathered around dancing bears and playful monkeys while awaiting the real spectacle. Hojat al-Islam Nuri had just turned 71 when he was hanged. He refused to be blindfolded and, throwing his captors off-guard for few minutes, managed to make one final sermon before the noose was fixed around his neck. ... `Either this system must go or Islam will perish,` he shouted amid boos and catcalls ..." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.45-6)


Khomeini's Background

Khomeini's Appearance

"Young Ruhollah" though his father had been murdered "was neither unduly bitter nor totally without charm. At a height of 1.76 meters (5' 9'') he was fairly tall by the Iranian standards of his day. He was slim, but heavily boned, he looked like a potential athlete. He was already sporting a beard which he kept clean and trim with great care. Unlike most talabeh of his generation, he avoided the use of henna. .. His face had regular, almost feminine features, and was dominated by a pair of penetrating eyes. Ruhollah's deep black eyes have been described by more than intimate as `fathomless oceans.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.49)

Khomeini's Antipathy for Modernization - Origins

While on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Reza at Mashhad during the reign of Reza Shah, Khomeini and his mullah friends stopped at the town of Semnan and were struck by the "contrast between the treatment received at the hands of Semnan's merchants and the welcome extended by the poor peasants." The bazaaris not only didn't extend charity to the pilgrims the much poorer peasants did "at first [they] even refused to sell fodder for the horses drawing the four carriages that transported the pilgrims." This "was to affect Ruhollah profoundly. Many years later, he developed his theory of `the wretched of the earth` as the saviors of Islam." (p.84)

The merchants were excited by the Shah's modernizing and centralizing, his suppression of banditry which would give them access to markets nationally. But the Shah was also profoundly anti-Mullah, staging bonfires of turbans and forced shavings of beards.

The impoverished Iranians were very conservative and knew only that Mullahs were leaders of Islam and thus to be revered.

Khomeini's Antipathy for Baha'i

"The Baha'is are considered a heretical sect by the mullahs, and could thus be automatically punished by death. For a mullah in those days, coming face to face with a Baha'i was far more dramatic than meeting Satan in person. The mullahs generally assumed that the followers of the detested faith kept their identity a secret. In Semnan, however, Ruhollah and his friends were told of Baha'i farmers, sheep breeders, artisans and shopkeepers who lived and worked openly and even preached their faith, protected by the Shah's gendarmes. Against his better judgment, Ruhollah tried to organize an anti-Baha'i gathering in the town's deserted and almost derelict mosque. But he was persuaded by his friends to leave that for later..." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.84)

Khomeini's Career Start - Abdul-Karim Ha'eri

"After brief attendance at a number of other circles of study, Ruhollah eventually joined the group of seekers gathered around one Shaikh Abdul-Karim Ha'eri. A native of the desert city of Yazd, which is known as Dar al-Iman (House of Faith), Shaikh Abdul-Karim had solid credentials as a teacher and defender of Shi'ite theology. But he realized that the schism caused by Shaikh Fazlollahs's revolt and subsequent execution would, if not quickly patched up, discredit the mullahs and further erode their authority as defenders of the faith. He preached reconciliation ..." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.47)

It was Shaikh Abdul-Karim's ambition" to become the leading ayatollah or a'alam "To do so he had to leave Arak, a pleasant town of orchards, vineyards and sweet spring but lacking any special religious or political significance. ... (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.48)

Qom - Where Abdul-Karim Moved His School To

"The only remaining choice was the holy city of Qom, a hundred miles south of Tehran. Dominated by the golden dome of the shrine of Fatima Ma'assoumah (Fatima the Chaste One) sister of Imam Reza, the mud-brick town of Qom was then little more than a place of occasional pilgrimage for devout Shi'ites. Its inhospitable climate, sour water and bigoted populace were so unappealing that even the desert caravans made a point of avoiding it." But unlike the much more appealing holy city of Mashhad, in Qom Shaikh Abdul-Karim was not "a small fish in big pond, something all mullahs try to avoid to the best of their abilities." Ruhollah came with. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.48)

Abdul-Karim arrived in Qom in the spring of 1920 and purchased a large mud-brick house near the shrine of Fatima. His plan was to give the holy city a complete theological school. At that time Qom produced little more than low-ranking mullahs who could only perform at popular mourning ceremonies and were not allowed to arbitrate in major religious disputes. Many of them could not even read properly and had learned parts of the Qur'an by rote without knowing their meaning. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.50)

Qom - Its unbearableness

The population of Qom consisted of "an army of fortunetellers, temporary wives, coolies, beggars and last but not least, gravediggers and undertakes since the holy city was and remains a favorite burial place for the faithful from all over Iran. ..."

Life in Qom in summer can best be understood by those who have worked near a blast furnace. A constant sensation of suffocation combined with unquenchable thirst is only partly forgotten when one is attacked by swarms of flies. The water, even today, not only tastes almost bitter but also has the peculiar quality of promoting even greater thirst. ..." until 1950 Qom "was served by open sewers which channeled every houses refuse into the town's narrow streets and alleys. As result the whole town looked and smelled like a gigantic lavatory. ... (p.50)

Even in the 1950s, at time when Qom was already established as a great religious center... it seemed the that entire population consisted of the blind, the lame, the hunchbacked, the sick and the mentally infirm who had been brought there from all over the country in the hope of being cured by the saint. There was an almost equal number of beggars to those who were begged from. The austere town, in which there were no cinemas or any other places of entertainment, lived its public life within the vast courtyard of Fatima's shrine and its surrounding narrow, winding alleys. There one would be continuously accosted by professional beggars and turbaned miracle workers who promised to cure every ailment. One could also hardly avoid the many hundreds of women of all ages who offered their services as seeghah (temporary wife) in exchange for either food and lodging for the duration of the `contract` or a modest sum of money. One could also find an abundant supply of mohalels. These are men who specialize in marrying divorcees for a single night. The marriage becomes necessary when a woman having been divorced three times by the same husband, is asked, once again, to return to the family fold. Islam rules that a woman who has been divorced three times by a man becomes haram (forbidden) to him. It is therefore, necessary for the woman to marry another man and divorce him before she can remarry her original husband. This complicated arrangement has led to the creation of a curious profession: that of one-night husbands. It was in Qom, and still is today, that the faithful would find all the mohalels they needed." ...
Qom was probably the most conservative of all Iranian cities.(Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.51)

Khomeini's Career Rise - Abdul-Karim Ha'eri

"A hard-working student and an enthusiastic polemicist, Ruhollah won his master's special esteem within a few months. His rise within the circle of seekers was meteoric. ... before his first year with Shaikh Abdul Karim was over he became the master's personal companion and scribe. Ruhollah's less than perfect handwriting hardly recommended him for the last function ... (Shaikh Abdul-Karim was 60, Ruhollah 18.)" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.49)


Iranian Culture

Sex - Temporary Wives or Seeghahs (aka Muta)

"Some of the Pilgrims Khomeini had come to Mashhad with "took temporary wives or Seeghahs. It is not known whether Ruhollah was among those who took advantage of the seeghah rule, but it is perfectly likely that he did. [Moin disagrees] He had had a number of temporary wives in Qom, and in his subsequent writings he was to designate bachelors as `prey to Satan,` quoting the Prophet's celebrated dictum that `marriage saves half of a man's faith.` The temporary marriage provided for under the Seeghah rule is expected to be devoid both of love and lust. A man should satisfy this sexual needs, which, if ignored for a long time, could lead to `consternation, misery, and even violence.` But the prime objective of the contract was not the satisfaction of sexual needs. The seeghah or temporary wife was not even seen by her future `husband` before the completion of the contract.

"In most cases, temporary wives were recruited amongst young widows, who used the opportunity for making ends meet. The temporary wife could be taken into contract for any length of time from a single hour to 99 years. Every seeghah had to observe a period of a 100 days abstinence after separating from a temporary husband before being allowed to enter another temporary marriages. In practice, therefore, no woman could become a seeghah more than 3X in a single year. Temporary wives were in great demand in the summer when wealthy Muslims sent their full legal wives - sometimes four of them - to cooler mountain resorts and soon found themselves a `prey to Satan.` In some cases the legal wife or wives chose the seeghah for the husband left behind in the dusty bazaar of a sweltering town. Often the same woman performed the task of seeghah for the same man every summer. [Married] women were, of course, denied a similar arrangement as they were expected to remain scrupulously monogamous.

"The holy cities of Mashhad and Qom were important centers for women seeking temporary marriages. There were two reasons for this. First, both cities were full of male pilgrims who, having left their families behind, found it hard to spend several weeks or months without female company. The seeghah was needed not only for the carnal service she provided but also to offer the lonely pilgrim a steadying hand. She ran her temporary husband's temporary abode like any permanent wife looking after he own family residence. At the start of the contract the seeghah receive the sum promised her under the contract. In addition, some seeghahs received cash or gifts in recognition of special services or the extra pleasure their company might have given to their masters. But any children born of the temporary arrangement were automatically denied any financial claim on their father or any estate he left behind. Thus, thousands of women had to work as temporary wives in order to support offspring produced as a result of earlier seeghah contracts.

At the time Ruhollah and his friends were in Mashhad, taking seeghahs was far from being considered morally undesirable - as it was soon to be, thanks to government propaganda - but was seen as an act of piety towards poor and unprotected women. A man would be praised for saving a lonely woman from both solitude and poverty by making her his temporary wife; he could be equally sure of being envied for his ability to afford the costly enterprise. ... such contracts could be afforded by only a very small percentage of the population. (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.86-87)

Sex - Temporary Husbands or mohalels for purposes of remarriage

mohalels. These are men who specialize in marrying divorcees for a single night. The marriage becomes necessary when a woman having been divorced three times by the same husband, is asked, once again, to return to the family fold. Islam rules that a woman who has been divorced three times by a man becomes haram (forbidden) to him. It is therefore, necessary for the woman to marry another man and divorce him before she can remarry her original husband. This complicated arrangement has led to the creation of a curious profession: that of one-night husbands. It was in Qom, and still is today, that the faithful would find all the mohalels they needed." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.51)

Traditional Marriage -- Age of Bride and Groom

Khomeini's father Mostafa "was just nineteen" when he married "probably some time in 1887." "He had stayed a bachelor a shade too long, for Shi'ite tradition requires that a man take a wife, or wives, as soon as he turns sixteen. Sadiqeh [his wife] was nine years old, exactly the right age for a girl to marry, according to tradition." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.32)

Khomeini's Permanent Marriage and the Position of Women in 1930s Iran

"Late in summer of 1930," Khomeini went to Tehran to try and get the hand in marriage of one of Ayatollah Saqafi's daughters. His Talabeh friend Lavasani was "the son of a wealthy Tehrani family which boasted as its head Ayatollah Mohammad-Hussein Saqafi, a pious and respected religious leader in south Tehran who complemented his income from donations by the faithful with occasional business transactions in the bazaar" (p.83)
Khomeini only knew Lavasani and didn't even know the names of the daughters (that was a secret) let alone had seen a picture of them.

"One of Saqafi's daughters, Batul, who was nicknamed Iran, was, at the age of ten, the most likely bride-to-be." Batul served tea "suitably covered in a chador ... She did not speak, as a girl whose voice was heard by strangers would be doomed."

The marriage was sealed by a good omen in the form of a dream by Batul were "she was visited by Holy Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. Fatima told Batul in the dram, `Oh sister, you are to marry a marry [man?] who has been born on the same day as my birthday.`" Which turned out to be true.

"Ruhollah had made a suitable marriage. He was being taken into a wealthy, highly respected family. Batul was a sayyedah and the match, therefore, meant that the blood of the Prophet would not be mixed with that of outsiders. It was a late marriage by the standards of Islam, [late for who!!! He was 28 or so, but she was 10] ... At a time when most men died in their thirties, Ruhollah could not have been unaware of the seemingly short time left to raise a family..."

They moved to Qom and "in January 1931 Batul began her 11th year and was already expecting her first child. Her husband admired and adored her, although in deference to the rule that only Allah could be loved, he would not have said that what he felt for Batul was love. ... " (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p. 90-1)


Religious Culture of Shi'a

mujtahid

Qualifying as a mujtahid does not automatically entitle one to issue fitwas or religious edicts. All that a mujtahid can do is decide his own course of conduct and choose how to cope with new problems that arise as life goes on. It is only when a mujtahid becomes a marja-e-taqleed (source of imitation) that he is entitled to issue edicts and call on the faithful to obey his `recommendations.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.56)

Danger of questioning and thinking

"Shi'ism opposes fikr (thought) and zikr (reassertion). Fikr is admissible only so long as it is aimed at focusing attention on the grandeur and majesty of the Creator and the wisdom of his prophets and imams. Beyond that, fikr becomes a deadly sin, a sure step towards the precipice. The word fikri (literally thinking) has come to mean mentally deranged in Shi'ite vocabulary. The perfect state of being is one in which a person has absolutely no thoughts, that is to say, no doubts.

The Shi'ite pedagogic system is based on the belief that every conceivable question has already been answered in the Holy Book, the Hadith and the Akhbar (literally news, but meaning `accounts of sayings and deeds of the Imams`)... What matters is the batin or the inner existence of things and not their zahir (appearance). Islam is the truth, the rest of existence is merely facts. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.58)

Conservatism

"During some 150 years of attempts by Iran to bring herself into the contemporary world is has resisted all reforms. In its role as guardian of the status quo the madrasseh has been a natural ally of the ruling class, despite occasional conflicts with the government of the day." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.58)

Who Were the Mullahs?

"The peasantry provided something like 80% of the seekers....
Until the 1930s, when the mullahs were gradually marginalized by deliberate government policy, one could find mullahs in all walks of life. Many worked as part-time farmers, shopkeepers, teachers or members of the bureaucracy. For most, being a mullah was not a full-time occupation. They were expected to earn their living while attending to people's religious needs when required. The presence of a mullah was necessary for sanctifying a marriage, blessing a newborn child, reciting the proper prayers for a man who had just died, and deliver sermons at memorial services." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.64)

Economic Power of the Mullahs

"In 1962, when the reformist government of Ali Amini first launched the idea of land redistribution in Iran, a confidential report prepared for the Shah showed that more than 30% of all cultivated land in the country either belonged to mullahs or was under their administration through more than 20,000 endowments. Bequeathing part of one's estate to one of the estimated 7000 saints of Shi'ism who are buried in Iran was considered the surest means of securing a place in the Islamic paradise. In 1978 the income from Imam Reza's endowments was estimated to be around $175 billion, making it one of the top three nongovernmental enterprises in the country. The Imam's endowments included a variety of businesses ranging from vast sugar plantations to super-luxury hotels." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.65)

How to lend money when interest is illegal interest

A Mullah intermediary would lend the money the money would be repaid with a "gift" to the Mullah, the Mullah would pay pack the lender keeping a cut for himself.
"Another transactional function of the mullahs was to proved what amounted to banking services in conjunction with the bazaar. Since usury is strictly forbidden in Islam, one way of getting round the inevitable problem of interest was to deposit money with a mullah so that he could lend it, supposedly without charging any interest. The borrower would return the money at the appointed time plus a `voluntary` donation for `charitable purposes.` Part of that `donation` would then be transferred to the original depositor as a gift from the mullah. The operation was humorously referred to as `finding a religious cap` (kolah-e-shar'ee). (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.65)

How to Get Around Religious Laws

The finding of the proverbial cap was, arguably, one of the most important services rendered by the mullahs in a society which insisted on sticking to virtually inapplicable laws. A mujtahid could waive almost any and every rule, including some fully spelled out in the Qur'an itself. Like contemporary experts in legal wizardry, many mullahs developed admirable skills in getting the believers off the strongest of theological hooks. In 1811, for example, the chief mullahs of Tabriz was asked by the royal court to find a way of allowing wine to be served at the wedding of the Crown Prince, Abbas Mirza. The proverbial cap was duly found by the mullah, who declared that the Qur'anic ban on wine would be suspended for the day in exchange for a cash gift to the poor by the bridegroom. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.65)


Names - Khomeini

Khomeini needed an ID card, though he "was loath to obey any of the Shah's rules and would have avoided doing so had there been the slightest opportunity. But without an identity card he risked becoming a non-person so far as the expanding and increasingly interfering administration was concerned. He also needed an identity card so that he could register the birth of his son Mostafa. Eventually, he registered himself as Ruhollah Mostafavi, a name he has continued to use in all official papers. Mostafavi simply means `related to Mostafa.` In the case of Ruhollah this had a double meaning. It meant that Ruhollah was the son of Mostafa, but also that the family claimed ancestry from the Prophet, one of whose titles was Mostafa." (p.93) "... by the end of 1932 he was already signing his letters in an entirely different name: Mussavi al-Khomeini. In this, he continued a long-established tradition under which men of mission had two or more names. Mussavi al-Khomeini was a nom de plume that was to become a nom de guerre. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.93)

Khomeini - Ups and Downs of his Career

"In 1933, Shaikh Abdul-Karim, [Khomeini's teacher] already ailing and disillusioned with Reza Shah, took the unusual step of allowing his protégé to serve as his stand-in even at the dars-e kharej classes, the highest form of theological training."

But...

"When Shaikh Abdul-Karim died in 1935, Ruhollah quickly moved to step into his master's shoes but was soundly defeated by the hierarchy at Qom. His attempt at delivering the memorial sermon was thwarted and within a few weeks he was even deprived of his seminary. Once again he became a tutor, working with a more senior doctor of theology, Ayatollah Hussein Sadr. During his brief moment of glory, Ruhollah, now referred to as Hojat al-Islam, had become the object of rumors and vindictiveness for his unorthodox sorties into the risk-ridden realm of mysticism which had been something of a taboo for generations. Mysticism was the realm of shakk (doubt) where Satan stood ready with a trap at every corner. Only teachers of great knowledge and unshakable faith were considered to be strong enough to venture into that universe of conflict between Allah and Taghut." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.93-4)

History - Shootout at Shrine of Imam Reza at Mashhad - June 1935

"A group of mullahs and talabehs, excited to fever pitch by the harangues of a magnetic and enigmatic holy man known only as Bohlul, sought sanctuary in the hold shrine, in effect occupying it. ... a detachment of gendarmes was sent to the scene. Most of the gendarmes threw their guns away and joined the group of candidates for martyrdom after listening to Bohlul, who described to them the thousand and one pleasures of the promised paradise compared to the utter misery of this world." Army unit are ordered to quell the rebellion. Troops bring in heavy artillery "As usual, rumor multiplied the number of those killed in the incident to several thousands, although no more than 10 or 12 people actually died ... Final rupture between Shi'ite clergy and the Shah. From then on it was total war." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.94-5)

Troops enter the shrine of Imam Reza at Mashhad, one of Shi'ism's holiest religious centers, to break up prayer meetings under way to protest Reza Shah's secularizing measures. Troops open fire killing dozens and injuring hundreds. " (Bakhash p.22)

Reza Shah and Public Opinion

Public is divided. "Reza Shah symbolized nationalist hopes. Had he not succeeded in abrogating unequal treaties that gave a number or European states capitulatory rights in Iran? Had he not renegotiated the oil treaty and forced the British company that tapped Iran's southwestern oilfields to more than quadruple the country's share of the income?" (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.95)

Meeting Mohammad Nawab-Safavi in Najaf coming back from Mecca in 1937

"The man who introduced Khomeini to the Ikhwan and their ideas was a young mullah by the name of Mohammad Nawab-Safavi who was both admired for his extreme good looks and feared for his power to mesmerize a crowd. The two men spend long hours together. Nawab-Safavi believed that the philosophy of the Ikhwan - based on the purification of Islamic society by ridding it of `corrupting individuals` by carefully planned assassinations - had to be modified to take into account the specific features of Shi'ite society in Iran." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.98)

"Nawab visited Khomeini in Qom on a number of occasions during 1943 and 1944 and was the Hojat al-Islam's house guest." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.102)

Underestimating the Fundamentalists - Soviet and Westerners Ignoring Fedayeen

"Curiously enough, the Allied occupying forces turned a blind eye to the gradual rise of the [Fedayeen of Islam] movement. The Soviets believed Islam to be a spent force and did not attach much importance to the activities of what seemed to them to be nothing but a group of deranged fanatics. The British may have tolerated the movement because they saw in it a potential means of checking the rapid advance of the Left in Iran." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.102)

After years of infiltration and purges, SAVAK had succeeded in removing some of the more outspoken of Khomeini's supporters from the leadership of the hayats in Tehran. But the Shah's secret police could not destroy the hayats, which claimed to be purely religious organizations, completely. A strong faction within SAVAK considered the hayats to be potential allies in the fight against both the Communist and the so-called Islamic Marxist guerrilla groups. The mullahs made ample use of this delusion on the part of some leading SAVAK policy makers to escape the worst effects of the SAVAK-led repression of the 1970s. Even during the revolution the mullahs succeeded in deceiving successive governments in general and SAVAK in particular by claiming that they shared the regime's anti-Communist sentiments." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.186) (source: E'lamieh Hay Imam Khomeini (Imam Khomeini's Declarations), vol. VII, p.l26)

Khomeini's First book Kashf al Asrar 1942 and the Fedayeen Islam

"Toward the end of 1942 Khomeini published the first edition of a polemical pamphlet he had written under the title of Kashf al Asrar (Key to the Secrets)" written "to rebut criticism of Islam by a growing number of secular intellectuals. The pamphlet was more specifically aimed against Ahmad Kasravi whose anti-clerical views were becoming increasingly popular among the intelligentsia. Kasravi saw the advent of Islam as a `historical setback` for Iran and argued for a return to `Aryan purity.` He supported Reza Shah's efforts to purge Persian of Arabic words and for a while even advocated the adoption of the Latin alphabet" ala Ataturk. Khomeini's pamphlet was vitriolic both in sentiment and tone and amounted to a virtual death sentence on Kasravi. Without naming the guilty intellectual, Khomeini denounced all those who criticized Islam as mahdur ad-damm, meaning that their blood must be shed by the faithful. The pamphlet was almost totally ignored." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.101) Except for the one group that mattered, the Fedayeen, who took out Kasravi.

Kashf al Asrar and the Fedayeen Islam - Its First murder - 1945

"In 1945 the death sentence Khomeini had passed, in effect, ... was finally carried out on the orders of Mohammad Nawab-Safavi. The assassin, a founder member of the Fedayeen of Islam, was one Hussein Emami, who was promptly arrested and sentenced to death. Kasravi's murder shocked the Iranian intelligentsia, united both Left and Right in a call for `teaching the mullahs a lesson.` The press, anti-clerical to a man, demanded revenge and many conservative mullahs, including Borujerdi himself, were alarmed by the fact that Islam was becoming associated with terrorism in the minds of the people." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.107)>

Murderer Hussein Emami Freed

"Hussein Emami, himself a sayyed, appealed to other `sons of the Prophet` to help save his life. He showed great courage by refusing to divulge the organization's secrets despite days of sustained physical and psychological tortures. He branded his interrogators and judges as `maji` and `heathen Persians,` and told the court that Iran was a Muslim land which had to be ruled by the descendants not of Zoroaster but of Muhammed." Ayatollah Kashani agreed. "Hussein Emami's fate became a test case. The insistence that he should be judged by a religious court was an indirect demand for the dismantling of the system of civil justice created by the late Shah. Borujerdi was eventually persuaded to intervene in order to save Emami's life. He was not prepared to consider this as more than an isolated case and did not wish to have a direct confrontation with the government at a time when it had to cope with more serious problems. These included Stalin's refusal to take his troops out of the northwestern Iranian province of Azerbaijan in accordance with an international treaty. (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.107-8)

Khomeini Meets the Shah

Khomeini goes to Tehran to appeal to the Shah. Khomeini gets an audience after too long a wait. He refused to stand upon meeting the Shah. `This was hate at first sight.` Shah nonetheless grants the requested pardon for Emami. (A year later Khomeini visits the Shah with a delegation asking for funds for repair of the Qom Ma'assoumah Shrine.) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.109)

More Murderers Freed

"Khomeini's growing links with Kashani and the Fedayeen of Islam began to irritate Borujerdi seriously from 1949 onwards. The Fedayeen had in the meantime carried out a number of other political assassinations. Among their victims were such prominent figures as Abdul-Hussein Hazhir, a former Premier and at the time of his murder Court Minister, and the Education and Culture Minister Ahmad Zangeneh. A year later, in 1950, they gunned down the Prime Minister Haj-Ali Razm-Ara. It is not clear whether the religious edicts sentencing these men to death were issued by either Khomeini or Kashani, but both men strongly approved the killings. Kashani, when elected Speaker of Parliament, arranged for a special Act to be passed quashing the death sentence on Khalil Tahamsebi, Razm-Ara's assassin, and declaring him to be a soldier of Islam. This incredible piece of legislation made nonsense of Reza Shah's secularization efforts and showed that a Parliament controlled by the mullahs and their allies among the large landowners was but a tool of reaction. Borujerdi disapproved of these measures but at the same time, did not wish to split the clergy..." Borujerdi refused to invite Kashani to his house. "He also stopped sending Khomeini on any more missions and used a variety of excuses not to receive him." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.109)

"Nawab and other members of the Fedayeen of Islam including Emami" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.115) were executed by 1955 but it doesn't say when or what the circumstances were.

Nazi Agents in British Mesopotamia

"The 2nd major political current with which Khomeini came into contact in Najaf was Nazism which, with its star rising in Europe, was proving very attractive to some sections of Muslims society in the Middle East .... In Iran, Reza Shah shared with many of the mullahs a deep admiration for Adolph Hitler. German agents active in the region fanned the flames of hatred for Britain as the colonial power of the day and for the Soviet Union as a heathen empire. They spread the wildest of rumours, including one that Hitler was a secret convert to Islam and that once he had exterminated the Jews and destroyed Britain and Russian he would come into the open and reveal his `true Muslims identity.` The Shi'ites were told that Hitler's real name was Haider (`the brave one`), one of the titles of Imam Ali, .... Mullahs could be seen swearing with passion that Hitler was, indeed, a disciple of Ali and never went without a small silver-framed portrait of the saint which he kept close to his heart under his shirt." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.98-9)

Borujerdi - Khomeini's 2nd Teacher

Shaikh Abdul-Karim died in 1935 and Khomeini heard of another learned mujtahid named "Mohammad-Hussein Borujerdi, a 60-year-old mullah who had for years maintained a small seminary in the remote town of Borujerd," (p.103) who he sought to entice to Qom.

"Khomeini led a delegation of over 40 Mullahs to Tehran to visit the ayatollah in his hospital room [in Tehran where he was recovering from surgery from bilateral hernia] Their message was simple: come to Qom and help us reorganize Islam's resistance against its enemies, especially the Communists" (p.104) i.e. the Tudeh Party who where being sponsored by Iran's huge neighbor Russia, which was occupying a large chunk of Iran's territory including its other holy city of Mashhad. It was preaching not just secularism but atheism and was presumptuous enough to hold a rally in Qom in 1944 and used their street muscle to beat off an attack by a mob of the Mullahs (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.103)

"With Borujerdi in Qom, Khomeini could once again become the eminence grise of a powerful ayatollah. Borujerdi was, perhaps, not as learned as Shaikh Abdul-Karim, but he soon enjoyed a vast following throughout the country and become a real power in the land." (p.104) Khomeini "established himself as Borujerdi's special adviser and troubleshooter". ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.106)

More Fear of Commies

"In 1953 Mossadeq was overthrown and imprisoned ... SAVAK Sazman Amniyat va Ettelaat Keshvar spoke of deep Communist penetration in the armed forces and an elaborate Tudeh plot to seize power and invite the USSR to send in troops under an Irano-Soviet treaty signed in 1921. SAVAK published supposedly secret documents showing that the Communists would have preceded their attempt at seizing power with a series of assassinations in which some of the leading ayatollahs were among the main targets. Sufficiently scared by these revelations, the mullahs went out of their way to help the new military government root out what proved to be an extensive and well-organized network of secret Communist cells." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.111)

Borujerdi sent a cable of support to the Shah. "The Shah, who in 1948, had survived an attempt on his life by the Communists, appeared as the champion of all the traditional forces of society. He now represented the big landlords, the mullahs, the tribal chiefs and above all, the military." ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.111)

A SAVAK report in February 1978 cited several of the key figures in the Khomeinist movement as `our potential allies` in the fight against `Communist and terrorist groups.` (p.197) [source: "A copy of the confidential report was made available to me by Hoveyda to help in an inquiry I was making about the disturbances. The result of the inquiry appeared on 6 March 1978 in the Persian edition of Kayhan under the heading `The Revocation of Iran's Politics Has Become Inevitable.`"]

Up until 6 weeks before the revolution "Khomeini was considered to be a mere figurehead who was being used by a variety of Leftist, Mossadeqist and pro-Soviet Communist groups as a symbol." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.198)

Khomeini in the Mid 1950s

By the mid-1950s Khomeini had his own circle of talabehs and was already recognized as a leading modares at the prestigious Faizieh School which had grown under the auspices of Borujerdi. He also complete his first and only work in Arabic, Tahrir al-Wassilah (Liberation of the Means), which was circulated only in handwritten copies. The book's Arabic was so ungrammatical and peppered with Persian words no Arab would understand that it had to be almost entirely rewritten by a group of Lebanese Shi'ites before its eventual publication in Tehran in 1984. ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.112)

Khomeini Business Ventures

By 1960 perhaps as many as 3000 families worked on the land belonging to Khomeini and his brothers. Khomeini was a generous, just landowner, popular with the sharecroppers who worked for him. He continued to live modestly and spent most of his extra income on stipends for more talabehs (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.113)

Khomeini Lieutenants

By 1955 Khomeini has his own circle of disciples which, apart from Motahari, included such future prominent leaders of the Islamic Revolution as Hussein-Ali Montazeri, Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, Shaikh Ali Tehrani and Shaikh Sadeq Khalkhali. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.113)

Shaikh Mahmoud Halabi and the Baha'is

Shaikh Mahmoud Halabi was "an enigmatic mullah who had stayed on the sidelines during the stormy years of occupation and oil nationalization . Halabi had a single objective: to seek out and destroy members of the Baha'i faith. The Baha'is, representing less than 1% of the population, had been able, largely thanks to education and hard work, but also because of favoritism, to achieve economic power and social influence far beyond their numerical strength. They saw their faith as an independent, autonomous religion. To the mullahs, however, they were mortad (heretics) and thus had to be put to death. Halabi's scenario was simple: a national register of Baha'is would be compiled, enabling the mullahs to contact each follower of the faith and try to bring them back onto the right path; if they failed, the Baha'i in question would be put on a black list and boycotted by the Muslims. In some cases, the adamant Baha'is would be put to death. Halabi had discussed his project with major General Teymour Bakhtiar, then head of SAVAK, as well as Lieutenant General Batmanqelich, the Army Chief of Staff. Both endorsed his idea in exchange for a promise of support from the mullahs in the continuing campaign against the Left." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.114)

Halabi visited clerics in Qom to promote this anti-Baha'i anti-Left pro-Shah accord in 1955. "Halabi was politely received in Qom but was given no promises of support." The standard noncommittal response being to say `May Allah lead all onto the Right Path.` "Only Khomeini proved sympathetic to Halabi's enterprise and promised his full support. (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.114-5)

When did Khomeini become an Ayatollah?

"As the 1950s drew to a close Khomeini was already established as an ayatollah. During the turbulent days of 1978-79 the legend was put out by some of the Shah's supporters that Khomeini had been `declared` an ayatollah by the leading mullahs of Qom only in 1964 and thus saved from the gallows. The truth, however, was that Khomeini was commonly included among the top twelve ayatollahs of the day as early as 1958. He belonged to a group that could be described as the second division of ayatollahs and thus was already in line for promotion to the first division, which consisted of three Grand Ayatollahs with Borujerdi presiding over all. Endorsement by the royal court in general and the Shah in particular was an important means of reaching the first division." ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.115)

Khomeini's Ayatollah ranking in 1962

When Borujerdi died in 1962 "Khomeini had not yet completed his plans for making a bid for the mantle of the Grand Ayatollah. He was still looked upon as something of a lone wolf. Theologically speaking he ranked below a number of others," including
  • Grand Ayatollah Mohsen Hakim Tabataba'i, (Living and working in Najaf), (Most senior, Quietist, Died in 1968)
  • Grand Ayatollah Abol-Qassem Mussavi-Kho'i, (Najaf).

  • As a Shi'ite scholar he belonged to a group what included such eminent teachers as
  • Ayatollah Hadi Milani (Mashhad)
  • Ayatollah Shahabeddin Husseini-Mara'ashi-Najafi (Qom),
  • Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Mussavi-Golpayegani (Qom)
  • Ayatollah Mohammad-Kazem Shariatmadari (Qom)

  • "Compared to them Khomeini had not handled the development of his theological career with adequate care. His flirtation with politics, his association with the Fedayeen of Islam and his love of poetry earned him the reputation of an eccentric." He was also too miserly "in a society where leaders, whether religious or political, are expected to spend as much money as they can." Providing meals and cups of tea for visitors ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.116-7)

    Khomeini's Disappointment and Change in 1962

    When Borujerdi died in 1962, Khomeini, who had led the drive to promote Borujerdi, encouraged him to come to Qom and "established himself as Borujerdi's special adviser and troubleshooter" was unable to be his successor. He received no cable of condolences from the Shah. (Probably a bureaucratic oversight but interpreted as a deliberate snub) and Grand Ayatollah Moshen Hakim Tabatab'i worked to "create a network of support for him as the undisputed heir of Borujerdi." (p.117)
    Khomeini stayed at home and didn't attend special mourning ceremonies to mark the third, seventh and 40th day of Borujerdi's death. (p.118)

    What he did do was go into cheleh of "withdrawal from the world for a period of forty days" to "ponder one's life through the eyes of a detached observer." "Khomeini needed the break in order to reorganize his thoughts and also to plan future moves in what he was increasingly coming to believe was a divine mission." ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.120)
    During this cheleh Khomeini apparently became convinced "Muslim society was gravely ill and he, Khomeini, was convinced that only surgery could save it from impending death." (p.121)
    "With a single stroke the Ayatollah brushed aside all his previous dabbling with mysticism. It was almost certainly from then on that he also stopped composing poems. He must have worked out a careful plan in his head. First, he decided to simplify his language. He taught himself systematically to purge all words that might sound highbrow and thus be inaccessible to the largely illiterate masses. He knew the intellectuals would continue to laugh at him or dismiss him as an anachronism...." ((The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.121)

    Khomeini's Charisma

    Khomeini had never been a particularly charismatic figure. A poor orator, speaking in a monotonous and often inaudible voice, he would have stood no chance against such magicians of the pulpit as Shaikh Mohammad-Taqi Fasafi ... He appeared cold and distant if not utterly conceited and domineering" (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.122)

    Khomeini's Emphasis on Martyrdom

    "For some 14 centuries the Iranians had mourned the death of Imam Hussein at Karbala as a great tragedy. To them Hussein's martyrdom symbolized a rejection of death and affirmation of life. Now Khomeini was trying to tell them that it was, in fact, death that was to be coveted and life that had to be shunned. Death offered purification and the exalted status of the martyr, while life was pregnant with all manner of corruption and sin, the smallest of which would surely lead to hell. Hussein had been chosen by Allah and given the supreme honour of dying for Islam; he could therefore not be mourned as a mere victim of injustice. `You should pray to Allah to grant you the honor of becoming martyrs,` Khomeini began telling the sparse crowds that heard his lectures. Later, he was to complete this line of reasoning by ordering that the deaths of young men in the service of Allah should become occasions for joyful celebration by the bereaved families and their neighbors."

    Politically speaking, Khomeini believed that a state's supreme sanctions remained its power to put its citizens to death. Remove that sanction, by making death a coveted prize, and the state is rendered incapable eve of self-defense. It was in those days that Khomeini launched one of the famous slogans of his revolution some 17 years later. The slogan addressed to the forces of order was `Oh please do kill us, for we, too, are going to kill you!` A man who not only ready to die but passionately sought death" makes "the monster of the state ...a harmless circus lion." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.122-3)

    COMMENT: ... Unless the state just raises the ante with the ultraterror of Hafaz al-Assad at Hama! This seems a key point. Khomeini's strategy is predicated on having it both ways.
    A. We cannot be stopped because we have no fear. To us death is good.
    B. The tyranny and need for overthrow of the regime is demonstrated by its killing of us ... which is bad. We must avenge our martyrs!!
    Why wouldn't/shouldn't the "forces of authority" respond to, `Oh please do kill us ...`, with `No Problem!!`

    When did Khomeini Develop Rule of the Jurist?

    Most accounts of the Khomeini movement suggest that the Ayatollah did not think of exercising direct power until the middle of 1979, long after his revolution had triumphed. The truth, however, is that he had begun advocating direct rule by the clergy as early as 1961. During the 1978-79 revolution he simply kept that issue dormant in order not to alarm the Iranian middle class while also reassuring the United States. In Towzih al-Masayel first published in 1961, he says: `What is the good of us [i.e. the mullahs] announcing rules set out by Allah when we have no power to make sure they are obeyed.` The theme was taken up by several of Khomeini’s disciples, including Motahari and Beheshti. In the winter of 1962 the two men organized a series of conferences in which direct government by the clergy was discussed and debated. Several secular supporters of Khomeini, including Mehdi Bazargan, also took part." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.123)

    Shah's Reforms of 1963 - Why?

    "The U.S.A. had over the preceding seven years emerged as Iran's strongest ally. The Shah and President Dwight D. Eisenhower had even signed a mutual defense agreement that included a provision under which the U.S.A. would create a `nuclear umbrella` in Iran's northern provinces, thus preventing a Russian advance in the event of Soviet invasion The Soviets had turned the heat on the Shah and their propaganda openly called for his overthrow." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.124)

    Shah's Reforms of 1963 - Alienating Powerbase

    "In subsequent general elections, the government, on the orders of the Shah, made sure that no big landlords won a seat at the Majlis. Some of the dispossessed landlords, joining forces with a number of bazaar merchants who had always distrusted the Shah, dispatched a large delegation to Qom to seek support from the ayatollahs there. Once again, only Khomeini promised action; the others just offered their prayers." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.126)

    Khomeini's anti-Semitism

    Khomeini adds xenophobia and anti-Semitism to theme of protecting Islam from the Shah

    By now convinced that crying wolf over an alleged plot to destroy Islam would not mobilize many people, Khomeini added two new themes to his campaign" that "poverty, backwardness and the generally dismal lot of the Muslim masses is mainly, if not entirely, due to the misdeeds of the foreigners" and to make this "fully effective" is added "the additional dimension of hating the Jews ..." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.131)

    "Most intellectuals and politicians in the Muslim East are not prepared openly to advocate hatred for the Jews, but this is mainly because they wish to describe themselves in terms borrowed from the West: liberal, democrat, socialist, social democrat, communist, etc. They also know that anti-Semitism is irrevocably associated with Nazism and distasteful to almost every major political movement in the contemporary world.
    "Khomeini, however, had no such inhibitions. He knew that preaching hate for the Jew and the foreigner would be popular and that was all that mattered to him in those critical days."

    Khomeini talks about foreigners and Jews, and not the Shah's reforms themselves

    March 20 1963 call not to celebrate Nowruz in protest over Shah's reforms was not a big success. There was violence at Qom where 2 talabeh were killed, but nothing elsewhere. So "this time, Khomeini avoided debating the actual reforms. He knew that calling on women to refuse the vote and expecting the peasants not to accept the land offered to them would only isolate him. He now concentrated his attacks on the `enemies of the Qur'an.` In one speech he claimed that the Israeli government had printed millions of copies of `a falsified Qur'an` in a bid to `destroy our glorious faith.`
    The new tactic proved far more successful and Ayatollah's emissaries succeeded in organizing a number of meeting in Qom, Isfahan, Najaf-Abad and Khomeini." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.132)

    Khomeini talks about Celebration at Persepolis as an Israeli plot against Islam

    "In October 1970 the Shah organized a series of festivities at Persepolis, Shiraz and Pasargadae to mark the 25th centenary of the foundation of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. Khomeini instantly denounced the enterprise as an Israeli `plot against Islam.` He recalled that Cyrus had liberated the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, thus `preventing the natural disappearance of elements who would never be satisfied with anything less than world domination.` (source: E'lamieh Hay Imam Khomeini (Imam Khomeini's Declarations), vol. VII, p.68.) The Ayatollah's declaration` was circulated as photocopies in October 1970) It was implied that the Jews were now helping make the celebrations a success as a means of repaying their historical debt to Cyrus the Great. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.167)

    Shah's Reforms and Khomeini's Love of Blood

    According to Khomeini `ashura (the 10th day of the Arabic lunar month of Muharram, the day on which the forces of Omayyad Caliph Yazid put Imam Hussein to the sword in the Mesopotamian desert near the Euphrates nearly 14 centuries ago) "gave Islam a new lease of life by marking a clean break between Shi'ism and Sunniism. From the day when Reza Shah launched his original campaign against the mullahs Khomeini felt that a second `Ashura was necessary. From 1962 onwards he became determined to secure a repetition of the tragedy in which he himself was prepared to play the part of Hussein." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.134-5)

    Shah's Major Blunder No.1

    Taheri thinks the real start of the unrest of 1963 came only after the Shah's foolish, arrogant attack on all mullahs in April 1963 when he came to Qom (part of the tradition under which the "Shahs visited Qom for pilgrimage during the Nowruz festivities"). Out of the estimated 12,000 mullahs and talabehs who made up the city's clerical population, only a few agreed to welcome the monarch." But 7000 bodyguards dressed as mullahs stood in for the benefit of TV cameras.
    The Shah "launched a bitter attack on the Mullahs" calling them `black reactionaries` "He said his reforms would take Iran into `the jet age` while the mullahs wanted to remain `in the age of the donkey.` Later, receiving the few genuine mullahs who had risked their reputation by going to meet him, the Shah went even further an accused all mullahs of being `sodomites and agents of the British`.
    The Shah's aggressive remarks were promptly reported to the leading ayatollahs, giving them the impetus for a unity that had eluded them since Borugerdi's death. The four high-ranking ayatollahs of Qom - Shariatmadari, Mara'ashi, Golpayegani, and Khomeini - quickly followed suit. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.136)

    COMMENT: Jeez. Whatever happened to divide and conquer!

    Khomeini insisted "that the clergy should counterattack before it was too late."

    1963 June 3 - Ashura of Moharram, Khomeini gives sermon to thousands of supporters at Feizieh school. "`Shah I declare you, Mr. Shah, to be a threaten so that you are chased out of this country?`
    "The speech ran through the audience like an electric shock. It was the first time in nearly a decade that anyone had dared attack the Shah in so violent a manner and in public (p.140) Khomeini arrested the next day.

    Demonstrations in protest organized. Shariatmadari "wanted the clergy to maintain a posture of helpless victims of tyranny. ... But the young Khomeini and his friends had other ideas... By noon they had organized groups of militants, armed with clubs, knives and even daggers, to attack the security forces. The tactic was to march with a group of women at the head of the crowd; once the police were sucked into the crowd they were isolated and beaten up. By early afternoon regular troops had been called into the city and unnerved by the pressure of events, began firing on the crowd... a number of people were killed many more were injured. Islamic historians have put the number of those killed on that day in Qom at `many thousands ...
    "by far the biggest demonstrations took place in Tehran itself where crowds of women in black chadors and men in white burial shrouds started to move towards the city center from the poor districts of the south. The crowd smashed everything in its route.... At least a hundred people were killed with hundreds more injured. Islamic legend, of course, has put the number of the dead on that fifteenth day of the Persian month of Khordad at 15,000, probably because the two figures of 15 offer greater dramatic impact." COMMENT:
    a memory aid perhaps.

    Sad Tale of a liberal - He Helps Save Khomeini and Rewarded with Execution

    The Government bureaucracy quarreled over whether to have an "early trial of Khomeini, Qomi and the 13 other Mullahs arrested" (hardline) or to "negotiate with Khomeini and Qomi" and "not be dragged into a religious war" (softline). A softliner was General Pakravan who "wanted to maintain the mullahs as a potential ally against the Communists." (p.144) The Mullahs presented a "solid front" and "Pakravan was given the green light to negotiate an amicable settlement. As a sign of goodwill he first allowed Grand Ayatollah Khonsari to visit Khomeini and Qomi in prison. He then went to Esharat-Abad in person and spent several hours talking to both prisoner. He told them that politics was a `dirty game unworthy of men of God` and invited them to renounce interfering in politics. Qomi said that the mullahs were not interested in politics as Pakravan described. Khomeini tried to appear to wish the Shah well and told Pakravan, `All we are saying is that they are leading him [the Shah] towards disaster.`

    Pakravan, a St.-Cyr graduate and a deeply cultured man, was an unlikely SAVAK chief. He had stopped the torture of prisoner, believing that he could win over any opponent by being sincere and logical. He thought that Iran needed a generation of strong government combined with economic progress and social reform before being prepared for democracy. He tried to sell these ideas to Khomeini and failed. Later he recalled his negotiations with the ayatollahs like this: `I felt like a helpless wave, smashing my head against solid rock.` [source: private conversation Sept. 1978] Nevertheless, having recourse to the traditional Iranian tactic of half-truth, Pakravan was able to report to the Shah that the two mullahs had agreed not to interfere in politics and that they should be set free. Pakravan's efforts to secure Khomeini's early release were to cost him dear. Soon after he was banished as Ambassador to Pakistan. After the Islamic revolution in 1979 he was executed without trial on Khomeini's orders and his body badly mutilated. His corpse, or what remained of it, was left at the Tehran morgue for weeks as the Islamic authorities refused to issue burial permission because Pakravan had been a Christian `at heart`. [source: related by mutual friends] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.145)

    Khomeini Enhanced - End Result

    By the end of the summer Khomeini had been established as the unchallenged leader of the opposition to the Shah. [Hardliners] `Alam [Prime Minister] and Nasiri [Martial Law Administrator] had accomplished for him what he could not have hoped to accomplish in a decade. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.146)

    1964 April 8 - Khomeini returns to Qom following release from custody. Festive crowd celebrating his return meet him. His reaction? He dislikes their colorful garb. `Our color shall remain black until we have avenged our martyrs.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.146)


    Khomeini's Organization - Hayat-e-motalefeh-e-eslami

    Khomeini ordered two of his closest aids, Morteza Motahari and Mohammad-Hussein Beheshti, to revive the secret cells of the Fedayeen of Islam. The two created the first cell in Tehran in August 1964 but dropped the name Fedayeen in favor of the more complicated Hayat-e-motalefeh-e-eslami or the Coalescing Islamic Mission. The Mission, soon to be known in the clandestine movement only as the hayat, was to emerge as a vital link in the small but growing organization... brought together both propagandist and agitator." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.149)

    Islamic Nations Party

    "Motahari had yet another organizational arm with which to challenge the regime. This consisted of a series of secret groups that had sprung out of the 15 Khordad movement and the Fedayeen of Islam before it. The fedayeen had reconstructed their organization under the leadership of the dynamic Shaikh Sadeq Khalkhali. Other groups represented secret cells of the Islamic Nations Party, which had been persecuted and apparently destroyed by SAVAK in the late 1960s. The party was, in fact a loose organization of clandestine groups dedicated to the ideal of putting `the enemies of Islam to death.` It's original founder Sayyed Kazem Bojnurdi had escaped execution after being pardoned by the Shah. ... All members of the party received military training and took an oath to assassinate anyone found guilty of `warring on Allah`.... Among the party's leaders and activists were several who subsequently organized the Islamic Revolutionary Guards... Javad Manusi, Abbas Zamai, Abbas Douzdouzani and Hussein Sarhadizadeh." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.187)

    Abazar

    Another clandestine paramilitary groups sill active in a number of provincial centers was named Abazar after one of the early converts to Islam. The group, originally consisting of a dozen or so secondary-school pupils in the small provincial town of Nahavand, had been smashed by SAVAK a few years earlier. But its teaching as well as its name and insignia had been adopted by other militant pro-Khomeini groups in Mashhad, Yazd and Kashan. The group ...advocated a 23-point manifesto which included a number of interesting stipulations such as ... refusing to eat tasty meals and juicy fruit.`" Militants were supposed to be `submitted to torture one evening each week.`" to prepare militants "for facing SAVAK and it torturers. The group’s militants, who proved remarkably successful in escaping detection by SAVAK, carried out a number of `Islamic operations` between 1970 and 1977, including setting fire to cinemas, restaurants, shops selling alcohol and some bank branches. .... Among the victims" of assassination operations were notorious village usurers, gendarmes and schoolteachers found drinking vodka." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.188)

    Fajr-e-Enqelaab

    At least two other groups could be counted on by Motahari to provide the coming movement with coercive power when and if necessary. The were the Fajr-e-Enqelaab (Dawn of Revolution) organization and Mahdavioun Society. The first group, known as Fajr, had been founded by a number of students in Mashhad originally as a means of fighting the Baha'i faith but it had quickly developed into an active paramilitary organization capable of carrying out assassinations and sabotage missions. Soon the group could boast a number of branches in Tabriz, Ahvaz and Qom. During the 1970 it was responsible for a bomb attack on a brewery near Mashhad as well as the burning of Qom's only cinema," which Khomeini has called `the greatest insult suffered by Islam in living memory` and Grand Ayatollahs had strived and failed to close for many years. "In 1972 the screening of the American extravaganza The Robe was interpreted as the first step towards `spreading the worship of the Cross to the realm of Islam.` The cinema had to burn and burn it did, thanks to a commando led by Mohammad-Reza Fatemi who was later to be killed in an gun battle with SAVAK agents. The Fajr group claimed credit for the operation." The owner sold the land to Grand Ayatollah Mara'ashi-Najaf and a theological school was built on its site. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.188)

    Mahdavioun

    "The Mahdavioun Society started as circle of friends devoted to the study of the Quran, but it soon developed into a paramilitary organization offering its members training in the use of light arms, homemade bombs and plastic explosive devices. Led by Ali-Akbar Nabazi-Nuri and an enigmatic character known only as Mahdi (Guide), the group, which began in Tehran, was by 1977 boasting branches in more than a dozen provincial centers." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.188-9)

    Hojatieh

    At least one more important religious organization could be counted upon to support the movement in its purported aim of making Shi'ism the basis of Iranian life once again. ... The Hojatieh had been founded in 1954 by the Tehrani mullah, Shaikh Mahmoud Halabi, who had known Khomeini in the 1920s in Qom. Halabi considered the Baha'is to be the most immediately important enemies of Islam in Iran and dedicated himself to the elimination of what he considered to be `a lethal heresy`. Promising SAVAK full cooperation in fighting `other heathen forces, including the Communists,` Halabi enjoyed what amounted to carte blanche from the authorities to recruit militants for his organization and raise funds....By 1977 Halabi boasted an organization of more the 12,000 ...
    "Halabi did not like Khomeini personally but could be counted on for support in any fight against a government which allowed the Baha'is" freedom. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.189-90)

    Khomeini's Organization - How many fighters did it have?

    An assertion that Motahari was even then [1977] able to field as many as 600 highly trained guerrillas and determined would-be assassins would have surprised the secret police. These militants were to provide the hard core of the Tehran crowds, which became the hallmark of the Islamic Revolution. They would protect the crowd against police attack and Left-wing infiltration, while using the crowd as shield behind which to keep their own identities hidden as long as possible. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.190)


    Foreign Loan by Shah's Government - 1964

    Government of Hassan-Ali Mansur "negotiated a $200 million loan from the U.S. which would enable Iran to re-equip her armed forces. While the loan was hailed by Mansur as a vote of confidence by the United States in the future stability of Iran, to Khomeini and his supporters this looked like a sellout. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.151)

    Foreign Loans and the Third World

    Securing foreign loans has always been and still remains one of the most unpopular policies in the Muslim East. Muslims remember that Egypt, in fact, lost her independence after being tied down with debts she could not pay. It was also foreign debt that virtually destroyed the Ottoman Empire. And in Iran herself the colonial powers of the day, Britain and Russia, used loans as a means of interfering in the country's domestic affairs throughout the 19th century.(Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.151)

    Foreign Loan and "Capitulations" to the U.S.

    What was even worse in the case of the American loan was that it was accompanied by a bilateral agreement under which U.S. military personnel who would be sent to Iran to help train the army in the use of new weapons were to enjoy extraterritorial capitulatory rights. A hastily drawn bill was pushed through Parliament depriving Iranian court of the right to hear any complaints against American military personnel. The measure was resisted even in the docile Majlis, whose members had been handpicked by the authorities before the election. Some 60 out of the 271 members voted against the bill, which was, nevertheless, made law in record time. Some of the parliamentarians who had voted against the bill in October traveled to Qom and called on the ayatollahs to oppose it. They invoked a provision of the constitution under which no legislation would be valid without the endorsement of at least 5 Grand Ayatollahs. Once again, most ayatollahs were unwilling to take on the regime ... But Khomeini promised to take action. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.151)

    U.S.A. Meets Khomeini

    "The U.S.A., anxious not to get involved in an Iranian political storm, dispatched one of its Iranian agents to Qom to `explain things` to Khomeini. This was the first time the Americans had contacted the Ayatollah. The agent's message was: Do not attack the United States. Attack the Shah, if you wish; that is not important. But if you attack the U.S.A., there could be grave consequences. ... That proved the first of many blunders by the American in their dealing with the Ayatollah." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.151)

    COMMENT: I dare say! You know the guy is a touchy nationalist because of the issue involved, so how what's the best way to deal with him? Persuasion? Cajoling? Oh no! You threaten him! Sure that'll work!

    Anti-Capitulation Movement is an Anticlimax, Contrary to expectations,

    Nov. 2 1964. Khomeini Gives Angry Anti-Capitulation Speech in Qom: "The American President should know that he is the most hated man in the eyes of our people here in Iran ...." (p.152)
    But Taheri claims that "Contrary to Khomeini's expectations, the new agitation did not lead to nationwide demonstrations. The Ayatollah had miscalculated both the timing and the choice of his campaign theme. The United States was still regarded as a friendly power compared with Britain and the USSR, which bore the heavy burden of their colonial past. The legal argument about who should try American military personnel if and why they broke the law in Iran was too complicated and abstract to be readily recognizable as `a plot to destroy Islam.` In any case, there were very few American military technicians in Iran as yet. And, as the years went by, the capitulatory accord was allowed to die a quiet death and was hardly ever applied." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.153)

    Khomeini's Organization's First Victim - Hassan-Ali Mansur

    Prime Minister Hassan-Ali Mansur sent Khomeini into exile. and "a secret Islamic court, consisting of Motahari and Beheshti as judges, had sentenced ... Mansur to death on a charge of `waring on Allah` as symbolized by the decision to sent his Holiness into exile. Would the Ayatollah approve the sentence, Mofattah asked. In what was to become a regular ploy of his when facing difficult decisions, Khomeini rose and left the room with a curt `Allah be with you` thrown at his visitor almost as an afterthought. Mofattah took the gesture to mean that the Ayatollah approved of the decision of the `court."
    Mansur was unpopular for his tight money policy that, for example raised the price of petrol pissing off taxi drivers; His American loan and capitulation and for his reformism and populist slogans, which the left hated. "Mansur was shot on 20 January as he walked out of Parliament in Baharestan Square. After a six-day struggle, he finally succumbed to his wounds and died." Mohammad Bokara'i and two other men Morteza Niknezhad and Reza Saffar-Harandi "were arrested and charged as accomplices" but didn't squeal. "The secret Islamic court and the identity of its two judges were not revealed until after the Ayatollah's revolution had triumphed." Ironically Beheshti was on the government payroll as `special religious adviser` to the Minister of Education. And Motahari wrote a column for a women's magazine. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.156) ....

    Khomeini's Problems in Exile - No Money, No Students

    "Having no money meant that he could pay no stipends and thus could have no talabehs. And an ayatollah without a circle of students was no better than a general without an army. ... Grand Ayatollah Hakim, for example, paid stipends to more than 3000 talabehs and representatives in over a hundred cities in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and India. Even Ayatollah Shirazi maintained a full seminary complete with an elaborate secretariat..." Khomeini didn't even have "a moharer (secretary), the first of many status symbols associated with being a Grand Ayatollah." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.157)

    Khomeini Hits It Off with Sayyed Mohammad-Baqer Sadr

    "Sadr had called on Khomeini as just another mullah on a long list and had meant to stay only a few minutes. The meeting, however, went on for hours and Sadr was invited to stay for dinner after sunset prayers." Sadr was "probably the most `modern` mullah of his generation and certainly the most erudite" and "argued that the Shi'ite clergy had to get acquainted with modern sciences., `especially politics and economics,` and prepare for direct rule..." Was in very interested in expanding Islam "outside its present geographical limits ...into which heathen rulers had forced it." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.161)

    Islamic Government or Hokumat-e-Eslami (The Book)

    Kho'i had made a series of lectures "opposing involvement in politics." Son Mostafa took notes. Khomeini read the notes and wrote "a series of comments on them without ever mentioning Kho'i by name. He had decided to demolish Kho'i, the last of the Grand Ayatollahs still capable of barring his path to the summit. The comments later provided the basis for a lecture series delivered to the few talabehs who had gathered around Khomeini, thanks to Ayatollah Sadr who wanted to promote his new friend and ideological ally. Those lectures were subsequently published in a slim volume, at first entitled Valayat-e Faqih (The Regency of the Theologian), but more pedantically translated into English as the Custodianship of the Jurisconsult) and then reissued under the more accessible title of Hokumat-e-Eslami (Islamic Government)." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri; Adler and Adler c1985. p.162)

    Khomeini Hits It Off with Mussa Sadr

    "In 1971 Khomeini met another holy man who was to leave a deep mark on his thinking. This new influence was Musa Sadr, whose niece had become Khomeini's daughter-in-law by marrying Ahmad. Sadr, born in Qom and extremely ambitious, had forged a close and profitable link with the Shah and it was with the latter's help that he went to Lebanon to establish a Shi'ite charitable organization. ... he quickly became the leader of the [Lebanese] Shi'ites" he broke with the Shah in the mid-1970s. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.163)

    Guerrilla Training

    Montazeri's son, Mohammad Montazeri, was named "`Ayatollah Ringo` for his gun-toting antics." "Candidates for Guerrilla Training were recruited through the hayats which continued under Motahati's leadership. By 1977, when the first rumblings of the Islamic Revolution began in Iran, more than 700 people had been trained by Amal, the PLO and from 1974 onwards, Libya, as members of the hayats devoted to Khomeini." Guerillas were trained by Soviet allies in part as a Soviet response to the Shah's anti-Soviet posture. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.166)

    "According to one estimate, at least 150 guerillas and more than 30 SAVAK agents were killed in action between 1970 and 1976. A further 100 guerillas were sentenced to death and executed in the same period, nearly a third of all executions that had taken place in the preceding 31 years of the Shah's reign." The guerrillas lost the battle with SAVAK but "they nevertheless succeeded in forcing the regime into violence that disturbed public opinion at home and further blackened Iran's image abroad." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.168)

    Khomeini - Use of the Title Imam

    On December 1977 a Fitwa (aka Fatwa) "on two pages and peppered with a number of amusing spelling errors," was issued to "a number of Tehran newspaper editors" entitled `A Fitwa from Imam Khomeini.` "This was the first time in the history of Iranian deodecimal Shi'ism that the title of Imam used to describe a theologian.
    "The title of Imam, used by Arab Shi'ites, notably in Lebanon, to describe religious leaders in general, is, so far as Iranian Shi'ites are concerned, reserved only for Ali, the fourth Caliph and the first Imam, and eleven of him male descendants ..."
    "It was not until the late 19th century that some of the ulama began to be described by the more enthusiastic of their moreeds, or followers as nayeb-e-Imam or vicars of the Hidden Imam. The point is worth emphasis because Khomeini, often described in the West as a man of tradition, has, in fact, broken what is probably the most important traditional rule in Shi'ite theology. By allowing himself to be described as Imam he has initiated what could prove to be a major schism in Shi'ism after he is gone." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.171)

    Khomeini - December 1977 Fatwa

    In his December 1977 Fitwa/Fatwa "Khomeini said that, `exercising my religious authority` he had `deposed the Shah and abrogated the Constitution.` He ordered the faithful, not to pay taxes and not to obey laws `promulgated by the usurper.` He also called on `true believers` not to attend schools or universities except to demonstrate their `hatred of the dethroned Taghut` and his policies of `Western corruption.` As far was we have been able to ascertain, this was the first time Khomeini had used the term taghut to describe the Shah. The term was later to gain popular currency and has now become an part of Persian political vocabulary." Fatwa was "posted to thousands of addresses in Iran (mostly to mullahs throughout the country)" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.171-2)

    Legitimacy of Rule in Iran and Shi'ism

    "It is worth noting that the Pahlavis were, with the exception of the short-lived Zand dynasty which held ephemeral power in parts of the country in 18th century, the only Persians to rule Iran since the 11th century. Thus every dynasty and every government of the day could be rejected on both religious and ethnocultural grounds. One of Khomeini's greatest difficulties in this long fight against the Shah was to `prove` that the Pahlavis were not only `illegitimate` because they did not descend from the line of the Imams but also because they were `foreigners` by adoption."
    Right from 1962 the claim that the Shah had secretly been `converted` to Judaism and taken up American citizenship became a favorite theme of Khomeini and his close associates." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.176)

    Khomeini's Son Mostafa's Sudden death - Was There Foul play?

    "News of Mostafa's death [on 21 October 1977] spread throughout Iran amid wild rumors that he had been murdered by SAVAK agents in cooperation with the Iraqi secret police. Claims that he had been poisoned by the Shah's agents reminded the faithful of the similar fate many of the Imams had suffered at the hands of cursed caliphs centuries ago. But neither Khomeini himself nor Ahmad ever even hinted at any SAVAK implication in Mostafa's sudden death, which was probably caused by a heart attack." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.182)

    Khomeini's Son Mostafa's Sudden death - Memorial service Demonstrations

    "The occasion was seized upon by a variety of opposition groups and personalities for publishing bitter attacks on the government in the guise of `condolences` to Khomeini. One such letter, addressed to the Ayatollah in Najaf, was signed by over 150 prominent Mossadeqists, plus university teachers, lawyers, journalists, doctors and other professionals known for their opposition to the Shah. The snowball effect of the original memorial service continued for several weeks." Among those participating were grand ayatollahs in Qom, guerilla organizations declaring the death "a crime committed by SAVAK and praising Khomeini as both a religious and a political leader."

    Khomeini Issues message following Mostafa's Memorial service Demonstrations

    Message to Motahatir "was to become a key document of the movement. In it Khomeini ... interpreted the gathering organized to mark Mostafa's death as `tremendous assemblies` ... that ... were in effect, a plebiscite for his opposition to the Shah. Third he warned that the Shah's policy of `liberalization,` then in its early stages, was a `big trick`. ... The message left no room for compromise. It also destroyed the prospect of any gradual progress towards a freer society, as wished by the Mossadeqists and other `liberal` groups at the time." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.184)

    Shah's Security Apparatus

    "The imperial armed forces of which the Shah was Commander-in-Chief were nearly half a million strong and equipped with the most modern weapons available in any non-nuclear arsenal. There was also a 75,000-man national gendarmerie, which kept the peace in the countryside. In urban areas a 65,000-man police force enforced the law and ensured security. At the same time the monarch had a variety of intelligence organizations at his disposal. There was the Imperial Inspectorate, at the time presided over by the enigmatic General Hussein Fardoust, a publicity-shy boyhood friend of the Shah, who reported only to the monarch himself. Then there was SAVAK, still headed by the sanguine General Nematollah Nariri, who was then just getting used to the 4th star on his shoulder straps. The name of SAVAK had become synonymous with fear in all Iranian minds. Even the Shah's favorite ministers were frightened of SAVAK, which was rumored to have as many as 500,000 full-time and part-time workers and informers. Several years of fighting the urban guerrillas had given SAVAK the image of a club of right-wing machos ready to shoot first and ask questions afterwards. SAVAK was also rumored to have informers everywhere and people were advised not to trust anyone, including members of their own family. ...SAVAK employed a large number of mullahs and talabehs as agents and informers." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.185)

  • "Imperial Armed Forces of which the Shah was Commander-in-Chief were nearly half a million strong and equipped with the most modern weapons available in any non-nuclear arsenal."
  • "75,000-man national gendarmerie which kept the peace in the countryside"
  • 65,000-man police force in urban areas
  • intelligence organizations: the Imperial Inspectorate, at the time presided over by the enigmatic General Hussein Fardoust
  • SAVAK, "which was rumored to have as many as 500,000 full-time and part-time workers and informers ... SAVAK was also rumored to have informers everywhere and people were advised not to trust anyone, including members of their own family."
  • Mullahs - How Many were there? How Did their System Work?

    In 1977 Iran was estimated to have around 85,000 mullahs and talabehs. Many of them received stipends and indirect financial support from various government agencies. Some 20,000 of them were teachers, employed by the Ministry of Education. [That this did not necessarily buy support for the government is indicated by the fact that ...] Motahari himself was one such ministry employee along with Beheshti and Bahonar.... Some 1200 mullahs were considered to be of higher rank and used the title either of ayatollah or of Hojat al-Islam. An ayatollah is an Hojat al-Islam distinguished enough to run an independent seminary of his own. Almost all talabehs were attached to one or more of the ayatollahs and received stipends from them. ... [Consequently] all that was needed was to secure the support of a few hundred leading mullahs in Tehran and the provinces to be able to mobilize every turbaned head in the country." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.190)

    Why the Religious Forces Triumphed over the Left

    "By the time Khomeini was launching the new phase of his struggle against the Shah it was obvious that the guerrillas, despite their courage and ruthlessness, had slipped into a historical footnote. The question of finding a counterbalancing force against the Shah's army remained unanswered. Right from the start, however, Khomeini thought the had the answer. He was convinced that only huge street crowds could neutralize the Shah's security forces. And the masses, who had to produce the crowds, could not be mobilized in sufficiently large numbers around socialist or nationalist slogans. The average Iranian would not be prepared to die for the ideals of Lenin or Mao; but he would, given the right circumstances, sacrifice his life in defense of `the honor of Imam Hussein`.... The language of class struggle, used by almost all the guerrillas groups, frightened the urban bourgeoisie without mobilizing the peasants and the working class. The appeal of the European-style Left did not extend beyond the universities, the secondary schools and certain strata of the lower middle class." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.194)


    Khomeini's Strategy - How the Shah was undermined

    1. Destroy the Regime's Legitimacy - Psychology and Propaganda

    "The Islamic East's love of rumor cannot be overemphasized; it is virtually impossible for the community as a whole to accept a straight account of events as such .... Khomeini's instructions to Motahari ... the movement was to act exclusively in the name of Islam ... The first step was to destroy the regime's legitimacy. This was to be achieved by a persistent and savage campaign of character assassination, rumors and the exposure of the regime's links with the Zionists, the `Cross-Worshippers,` and the Baha'is and other `enemies of Islam.` There was to be no discussion of the Shah's policies as such and it was to be argued that the Shah, ... should be put to death. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, in one of his earliest `guidelines` to the militants, put it this way: `Today, saying `Allah is the Greatest` without immediately adding `Death to the Shah` can only mean that we only half believe in Islam` (source: Tarikh Mobarezat Imam (History of the Imam's Struggles), Tehran, 1980, p.201)(Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.194)

    Motahari believed that destroying the regime's image and persuading a sufficiently large number of people that the Shah was an illegitimate ruler would require `at least a year or two of hard work` In the event, however the objective was achieved much more quickly as the Shah failed to counterattack while also preventing his supporters from reorganizing themselves in his defense. For months on end people were to hear abuse and invective aimed at the Slam [sp? Shah?], who remained silent or only spoke in apologetic terms that reinforced the claims of his adversaries." (p.195)

    COMMENT: A major part of the Shah's "legitimacy" was not that he was right and just and loveable, but that that he was invincible, awesomely powerful, too strong to ever be removed. When he started to act as weak ... it was serious.
    Comparing him with Batista and Castro there seems to be a teeter-tauter effect where the ruler oscillates between harshness and conciliation, but rather than being a good cop/bad cop it works out as evil cop/weak cop, each time the change is to the advantage of the insurgents. In the case of Batista the killing of some July 26 Movement prisoners after their failed takeover of a garrison was widely decried as brutal and cruel. In the Shah's case the Black Friday killing in Jaleh Square was seen as a massacre by the brutal tyrant. Each ruler then tried to compensates for it with some leniency (easy prison sentences for the rebels which allowed the future guerillas opportunity to organized and teach in the case of Castro, just about everything following Black Friday in the case of the Shah). Arrogant over-confidence was interrupted by a rude awakening and followed not by a call to battle stations but by panicky indecision and apologizing.

    "The terms Khomeini used to describe Reza Shah and his son included such unflattering ones as `bastard,` dog,` `lackey,` `traitors`, `rascal,` `bloodsucking` and `jackass`. Many middle-class politicians opposed to the Shah blushed when reading or hearing the Ayatollah’s torrents of abuse. But Khomeini knew that he had to demystify the monarch and show the illiterate masses that even the King of Kings could be dragged into the mud with impunity." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.199)

    More on the Irredeemable Evil of the Shah

    "If the Shah is not destroyed you shall all become slaves of pagans. Foreigners shall take your womenfolk; they shall plunder all your natural wealth and put the Muslim community to eternal shame." - Khomeini to pilgrims in Najaf early 1978 (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.212)(source: "Reported by Haj Mohsen Torabi who attended several sessions in Najaf. The speech was also widely published in cassette form.")

    `... the hated Shah, the Jewish agent, the American snake whose head must be smashed with a stone,` - Khomeini on a cassette tape [source: Gozideh Payam-ha Imam Khomeini (Selections of Imam Khomeini’s Messages), Tehran, 1979, (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.193)

    "Parviz Sabeti, head of SAVAK's `anti-subversion unit`, believed that the number" of cassettes of Khomeini talking about the Shah saying things like `the hated Shah, the Jewish agent, the American snake whose head must be smashed with a stone,` "exceeded 100,000." Why were they not banned? The Shah had promised Carter that he "would liberalize the regime." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.213)

    2. Khomeini's Strategy - Create Alternative Sources of Authority

    "The faithful were to withdraw their money from the `satanic` banks, refuse to pay taxes or electricity and water bills refuse conscription and not defer to the court of justice. ..." Islamic committees were created throughout the government. "Ministers, undersecretaries, director-general and other high-ranking officials ... lacked all authority, unless as was increasingly the case them the middle of 1978 onwards, they contacted the Islamic committee and swore loyalty to the Ayatollah." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.196)

    3. Khomeini's Strategy - Neutralize the security forces

    He had several hundred trained fighters but launched "a vast campaign of hearts and minds directed against regular army troops, members of the police force and even SAVAK" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.196)

    4. Khomeini's Strategy - Phony Resistance Leaders to fool Foreigners and the Middle Class

    "Such an alternative had to reassure the middle class, who were sure to be frightened by the prospect of living in a strictly Islamic society, as well as the outside world, which was worried about it vital interests in Iran and the Persian Gulf region as a whole....

    For months other mullahs were promoted as leaders of the movement together with a wide range of ambitious politicians who suddenly found themselves veritable heroes of large and `spontaneous` crowds. Motahari and Rasanjani would dispatch hundreds or thousands of screaming, fist-shaking volunteers for martyrdom to the homes of the long-forgotten Mossadeqist politicians or even members of the Shah's parliament who had shown a penchant for dissent. The crowds would by their mere presence, force essentially conservative, and in some cases frankly cowardly, politicians to adopt a militant stance against the Shah." e.g. Karim Sanjab, "a rather shy septuagenarian who had briefly served as Minister in Mossadeq's cabinet in 1952 ... The result was that when SAVAK was finally ordered to make a move months later, it was Sanjabi who was arrested as the leader of a movement he did not even understand" and who had no loyalty to him "... The real leaders remained safe and secure, shielded by their anonymity, or even tricking SAVAK into thinking that all the trouble was coming from the `Communists and terrorists.` A SAVAK report in February 1978 cited several of the key figures in the Khomeinist movement as `our potential allies` in the fight against `Communist and terrorist groups.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.197) [source: "A copy of the confidential report was made available to me by Hoveyda to help in an inquiry I was making about the disturbances. The result of the inquiry appeared on 6 March 1978 in the Persian edition of Kayhan under the heading `The Revocation of Iran's Politics Has Become Inevitable.`"]

    Up until 6 weeks before the revolution "Khomeini was considered to be a mere figurehead who was being used by a variety of Leftist, Mossadeqist and pro-Soviet Communist groups as a symbol." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.198)

    "Jaafar Sharif-Emami, who was to serve as an ephemeral Prime Minister towards the end of the regime, was so confident that Khomeini would respond to his invitation and return to Iran to help combat Communism that he even ordered a special jet to be kept ready at the airport." [source: private conversation in 1978] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.199)

    "The international media, often bitterly hostile to the Shah" was given the reassurance that "Iran was experiencing a democratic, middle-class revolution against a medieval and tyrannical regime.. Motahari described the tactic adopted as one of `leading from behind.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.199)

    COMMENT: Just as the Communists were accused of setting up "Commie Front" organizations to fool their pinko dupes into thinking pinkos had influence, so the Mullahs set up Islamic Front leaders.

    Shah's Attempted Counterattack - Letters attacking Khomeini - Jan. 1978

    Letters attacking Khomeini in Kayhan and Ettelaat, Tehran's two main dailies. Both letters described the Ayatollah as a mad Indian poet with homosexual tendencies and a long record of serving British colonialists. Although Khomeini was directly named in both letters, the vile language used was extended to cover almost all mullahs, who were described in one of the letters as `a race of parasites, engaged in sodomy, usury and drunk most of the time. The Shah personally read, edited and approved the letters, which were dispatched through the Information Minister Dairush Homayun. One of them, signed by a fictitious Alimad Rashidi-Motlaq but in fact written by a freelance journalist who had once been a member of Iran's tiny Fascist Party, was published by Ettelaat on 7 January 1978." Motaharis committee decided it was the beginning of a crackdown and thought it best to lay low and not even urge a boycott of the paper, but the grassroots had other ideas, "a group of some fifty talabehs, led by Kahalkahi, began roaming the streets of [Qom] burning Ettelaat's newsstands." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.201)

    Targets of Khomeini rioters

    The riot in Qom led to "Banks, government offices, girls' schools, bookshops selling non-religious publications, the homes of officials and the city's only two restaurants where men and women could dine under the same roof were sacked and set on fire." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.201)

    The Revolution

    The Revolution - What Was It's Essence?

    Not About Equality: ".... The Islamic Revolution also rejected the motion that men of all creeds could be equals and brothers ... The very concept of human rights was `a Judeo-Christian invention` and inadmissible in Islam. (Taheri Spirit of Allah, p.20) [source: the words of Sa'id Raja'i-Khorassani, the Imam's Permanent Delegate to the United Nations in a debate on Human Rights on January 1985]

    Not about Nationalism: Khomeini "does not describe his revolution as Iranian but as Islamic, and insists that Iran is only the first `piece of land` where the rule of Allah is re-established." (Taheri Spirit of Allah, p.21)

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along?

    Economic Factors - Boom in Decline

    "The Shah did not recognize the fact that he was entering that deadly arena from a position of weakness. The oil-propelled economic boom of the seventies had already peaked and inflation had risen to double figures. The ruling elite was running out of fresh ideas and was showing the inevitable signs of lassitude after over a decade in power." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.204)

    Shah's Breathtaking Over confidence

    "The Shah had distanced himself from the people over the years and was no longer seen rubbing shoulders with workers, peasants and other ordinary folk. People saw him on television or in newspaper photos only in the company of foreign dignitaries. He gave numerous interviews, but always to foreign journalists and never to the Iranian press. The people had to find out about their monarch's future intentions and policies through translated accounts of interviews published by often obscure foreign journals. The Shah was already operating as a world leader; Iran had grown too small an arena for his wisdom and energies. His Majesty's rather inflated view of himself as a towering giant of the 20th century, a Persian version of Charles de Gaulle, was to a large extent a reflection of his own natural penchant for megalomania. A shy, sulky and eminently fragile person, the monarch used affected grandeur as a shield behind which to hide from the dangers of the outside world." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.205)

    COMMENT: The weakness of tyranny perhaps? No one dare tell you your clothes are invisible.

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - Shah's Attempt to be More Liberal Backfires Spreading Khomeini's Message

    "Parviz Sabeti, head of SAVAK's `anti-subversion unit`, believed that the number" of cassettes of Khomeini talking about the Shah saying things like `the hated Shah, the Jewish agent, the American snake whose head must be smashed with a stone,` "exceeded 100,000." Why were they not banned? The Shah had promised Carter that he "would liberalize the regime." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.213)

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - Trying to Fight Inflation, Support is Undermined

    New Prime Minister Jamshid Amuzegar an "American trained engineer who had replaced Hoveyda as Prime Minister lacked ... political experience and the nervous stamina" He identified inflation and the slowdown in economic growth as the main problems his government had to solve." consequently he slashed budgets and cut "$35 million which the Prime Minster's office spent on humoring thousands of mullahs every year. Many mullahs were dependent on the secret donations they received from the Premier's office... the sudden cut meant that a large number of mullahs no longer had any reason to support the regime. ... By September 1978 Sayyed Hassan Emani, the Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran and the only-ranking mullah still close to the Shah, was bitterly noting that the regime was, for the first time, left without any friends in Qom or Mashhad." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.214)

    The Revolution - Insurgents

    Insurgents - How They Operated

    "The pattern of the movement's activities was by now clear. It brought people together for religious occasions, of which there are over a hundred in each Iranian calendar year, or for mourning ceremonies marking the fall of the martyrs. The crowds attending the ceremony at a mosque, hosseinieh, mahdieh or takiyah would then pour into the streets and launch attacks on `places of sin,` such as cinemas, banks, girls' schools and cafes." Whenever there was a chance of confrontation with the security forces, the crowd would organize itself into a peaceful procession, at the head of which were school children followed by women and old people." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.215)

    Insurgents - Who They Were

    The typical Khomeini crowd in Tehran numbered around 2000 to 3000, representing a surprisingly wide cross-section of the population. The only social groups conspicuously absent from these crowds until the very last weeks of the struggle consisted of factory workers and peasants. Shopkeepers, lumpen elements, middle-class merchants, intellectuals, teachers, students, high-society ladies in expensive fur coats and of course, mullahs and talabehs formed the crowds. Bazargan who was present in most demonstrations notes that very few mullahs took an active part in the early marches, presumably on instructions from Motahari to `lead the crowd from behind.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.215)

    Insurgents - How they dealt with Shah Supporters

    "A standard tactic was to force the bazaars to close so as to keep tension high. Shopkeepers who refused to comply with instructions from the local organizers of the movement would find their shops locked by strangers in the night or simply burned down. People reputed to be supporters of the regime were given a chance to prove they had changed their ways of they would see the windows of their homes broken and dead cats thrown into their gardens. In some cases such culprits would have their cars set on fire. In some localities the `Shah-lovers` would suffer a social boycott with everyone refusing to trade with them or even talk to them. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.216)

    Insurgents - Was the Left Important?

    Despite the Ayatollah's claim that no one else played a part in leading the movement, a variety of political organizations were intimately involved. The pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, using its small but effective clandestine organization, played a key role in waging psychological warfare against the regime. The Mujahideen and Fedayeen guerrilla organizations were also making their presence felt by organizing attacks on police stations and murdering specially selected SAVAK agents and other officials. Tudeh and the Fedayeen also began campaigning for industrial strikes at factory level. But the Left's main contribution came in the form of a series of attacks on American military personnel in Isfahan. These attacks developed into a serious security risk for the U.S. military authorities when the presence of scores of guerrillas trained by the PLO or the Libyan government was signaled in the Isfahan region. These guerrillas were led by Mohammad-Ali Montazeri, nicknamed `Ayatollah Ringo` for his agility with a Magnum ... (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.216-7)

    Khomeini on Martyrdom

    "Khomeini's messages, now [summer of 1978] being regularly broadcast by the Persian service of the BBC from London, established him as the undisputed leader of the movement. He continued to radicalize the crowds, to urge them to attack the Shah more violently and to encourage clashes with security forces. `Our movement is but a fragile plant as yet. It needs the blood of martyrs to help it grown into a towering tree.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.216) (source: E'lamieh Hay Imam Khomeini (Imam Khomeini's Declarations), vol. VII, p.203)

    Khomeini in Paris

    "In that Parisian suburb [Neauphle-le-Chateau] the Ayatollah gave a total of 132 radio, television and press interviews during his four-month stay. He issued some fifty declarations which were quickly published and distributed in Tehran. He also addressed a total of 100,000 Iranians who came at an average rate of over 1000 each day to pray with him, hear him speak or simply kiss his hand and depart." (p.228)
    The shah was `a wounded snake`" Khomeini "called on his followers to `finish him off, lest he find new life to bite back.`" (p.228)
    "... The ayatollah took care to refer to himself as `your servant,` `a nobody`, `a mere talabeh`, `or an old man in his last days.` (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.229)

    Khomeini Deceiving the Bourgeois enemy - Promising Free Press and Equality for Women

    "During his stay at Neauphle-le-Chateau Khomeini used all the traditional techniques of Shi'ite leadership. Theses included khod'eh, which means tricking one's enemy into a misjudgment of one's true position. Khomeini did not tell direct lies but used many half-truths based on well-established khod'eh tactics. Later in 1984, he admitted having used khod'eh in order to trick `the enemies of Islam`. One example was his repeated assurances that women would enjoy every freedom and be treated as the equals of men. Another example was his pledge of full press freedom. He did not lie, in the strictest sense, because he qualified every pledge with phrases such as `in accordance with Islam` or `on the basis of the Qur'an.` Few people wanted to notice these important qualifications and the various political factions began to consider Khomeini as one of their own." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.229-230)

    Khomeini Deceiving the enemy - Moderate Mullahs and the USA

    "It was under Khomeini's orders that such outsiders as Ayatollah Mohmoud Taleqani and Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari were promoted as leaders of the movement inside Iran without hover, having any real say in key decisions. Khod'eh, taqieh and tanfiqh were also used together with ketman in opening negotiations with the American. Yazdi established contacts of his own and in Tehran itself Ayatollah Abdul-Karim Mussavi-Ardabili met the American Ambassador William B. Sullivan to tell him that the future `Islamic` government would continue to maintain close times with the U.S.A. It was also on the basis of khod'eh that the Ayatollah never even pronounced the world `republic` until after he had won power. His slogan was `Islamic Government,` a phrase that gave the impression that there would be no drastic constitutional changes and that even the monarchy could continue without the Pahlavis. The Ayatollah's choice of Bazargan as head of the provisional government was yet another example of khod'eh in practice. Bazargan was liberal enough to win the confidence of the middle class and weak enough to keep alive the ambitions of the Left." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.230)

    Khomeini in the Moon - His Mystique and the faith of the people in him

    November 27 - after rumour sweeps the country that the Imam's face will appear in the moon on this night ... "Tears of joy were shed and huge quantities of sweets and fruits were consumed as millions of people jumped for joy, shouting `I've seen the Imam in the moon.` The event was celebrated in thousands of mosques with mullahs reminding the faithful that a sure sign of the coming of the Mahdi was that the sun would rise in the West. Khomeini, representing he sun, was not in France [West of Iran] and his face was shining in the moon like a sun. People were ready to swear on the Qur'an that they had seen Khomeini's face in the moon. Even the Tudeh Party [the party of "Scientific Socialism"] shared in the collective hallucination. Its paper Navid wrote: `Our toiling masses, fighting against world-devouring imperialism headed by the blood-sucking United States, have seen the face of their beloved Imam and leader, Khomeini the Breaker of Idols, in the moon. A few pipsqueaks cannot deny what a whole nation has seen with its own eyes.`" [source: Navid n.28][Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.238]

    COMMENT: Symbolic of almost hysterical, mindless hope in a messiah figure?

    Khomeini - His Image Manipulation

    "Khomeini deliberately cultivated his image as a tough leader. One of his first orders to Motahari soon after his arrival in Tehran was to make sure that only approved pictures of him be printed and displayed. He especially objected to two of his own pictures then widely on display. One showed him wearing spectacles, which might create an impression of frailty, if not of outright disability. The other showed the Ayatollah smiling benevolently. Islamic tradition maintained categorically that the Prophet never smiled, and dismissed those who did as superficial and morally loose. Within a few days all the objectionable portraits of the Imam were replaced with new ones, showing him knotting his bushy eyebrows in a posture of angry determination. Khomeini knew that the average Iranian respected strong leaders and had turned away from the Shah partly because of the monarch's manifest weakness and vacillation." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.242)

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps - Failed attempts to pacify by Liberalizing

    New prime minister Sarif-Emami replaced Amuzegar. "Sharif Emami immediately announced a number of measures aimed at meeting some genuine religious grievances. These included reversion to the Islamic calendar which had been replaced by an imperial Persian one two years earlier on the orders of the Shah." Returns to `real Islamic time`. Closes Iran's four casinos... bans films "with suggestive scenes" ... delegation sent to Najaf to invite Khomeini to return home.
    "his conciliatory gestures were instantly interpreted as signs of weakness on the part of the Shah....
    "The net result of Sharif-Emami's policy of `national reconciliation` was a further blow to the morale of the armed forces and an open invitation to the opponents of the regime to intensify their campaign. But the new government went even further and began releasing the 3000 of so political prisoners till held. All those released joined the anti-regime movement without a moment's delay [including future designated successor Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri], further fanning the fires of revolt." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.221)

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - Khomeini v. the Shah - Work Energy

    While the Ayatollah worked between 12 and 14 hours every day, stopping only for prayers and an hour of seclusion... the Shah in Tehran was sinking deeper and deeper into despair. Under chemotherapy for an old and eventually fatal cancer, the monarch a full 20 years Khomeini's junior, was by the end of October unable to do more than 2 or 3 hours work a day. And this consisted mostly of useless meetings with old politicians who had no real power,... (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.231)

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps - What Happened at Jaleh Square

    COMMENT:Taheri's portrayal of the pivotal bloodshed in Jaleh puts the resistance in a much less favorable and tragic light than revolutionary mythology.

    5 September "at least a dozen police stations in Tehran attacked and in two of them, the officers on duty were disarmed."
    Martial law announced 6 September to start at midnight. Gathering at Jaleh Square on 7 September "The crowd began to gather when some of the Motorcyclists of Allah suddenly turned back and drove into the troops' formation shouting `Allah Akbar!` Nervous soldiers began to fire and several riders were killed instantly. The crowd returned and began charging the troops. Someone shouted over a bullhorn that the troops facing the people were Israeli soldiers. The soldiers were, in fact, Kurdish and because the Tehrani crowd did not understand their dialect they could be mistaken for Israelis. `Massacre the Jews!` thundered the bullhorns from among the crowd and some snipers began firing from a water department building on the square. By the time the crowd had been dispersed at least 200 people had died... The religious leaders in Tehran immediately announced that `thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops.` The government put the number of dead at 59. Later, the number of Jaleh Square martyrs was inflated to 15,000."
    [note: "I raised the matter with Shariatmadari during a private conversion in Qom in October 1978. He estimated the number of dead to have been around 700. When asked why he did not say so to correct the much more exaggerated figures, he replied that the Shah had exaggerated everything for years and that he should now have a taste of what that meant."] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.223)

    The Revolution - The Flight of the Upper and Middle Class

    Tehran's international airport witnessed an endless stream of dignitaries, princes and princesses, former premiers administers, governors-general, high court judges, wealthy tycoons, leading film stars and middle-class families leaving the country for what only a few of them could have believed would become a more or less permanent exile. Between 1 Oct. 1978 and 31 Jan. 1979, the day Khomeini flew back to Tehran, some 100,000 people left the country. The Shah felt bitter about his mass flight of his supporters ..." (p.233)
    Iran had no exchange controls being a wealth oil rich country but "in the last three months of 1978 ... middle-and upper-class Iranian sent some $2.6 billion of their savings abroad. This represented less than 9% of the nation's currency reserves but was, nevertheless, seen as a vote of no confidence in the Shah's regime by its most natural supporters." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.233)

    The Revolution - Second Phase - Strikes and stoppages

    As the Shah dithered and sulked the Ayatollah's movement launched its second phase. This consisted of full-scale strikes and sporadic stoppages throughout industry. ..Iranian oil was halted for the first time since 1954." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.234)

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - Hardliners stand down

    1978 November 4 - Frustrated by Shah's unsuccessful attempts at conciliation with his opponents, military hardliners decide to order troops "to stand aside and allow mobs to burn and destroy to their hearts' content." Thousands of shops, banks, restaurants and other public buildings damaged. Conciliatory Prime Minister Sharif-Emami resigns. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.234)

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps - Appeasement

    Army expects a new hardline government headed by General Oveissi "But the Shah, showing one last sparkle of his old self, stepped in and wrecked the whole game. He named as his new prime minister the army's Chief of Staff, the four-star general Gholam-Reza Azhari. At the same time, however, the Shah, who had not been seen or heard by the public for weeks, went on television to read what became his last message to the nation as reigning monarch. In it he admitted that much of his rule had been marred by `corruption and cruelty` and demanded the nation's forgiveness. He became the first person to describe what was happening in Iran as a revolution rather than a movement, as Khomeini liked to call it or a case of sedition as Oveissi believed. An astonished nation heard the Shah say: `As Shah of Iran as well as an Iranian citizen, I cannot but approve your revolution.` [source: The Shah's historic speech was not printed anywhere at the time since the press was on strike. Its full text has been published by Bazargan as a appendix to his book.](Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.234-5)

    COMMENTSeems like the perfect combination for the Khomeinists. Hugely destruction riots at first seem like preparing the way for a crackdown, but instead the Shah gets on the tube and tells everyone he approves of the revolution - making the riots seem more like an exercise of revolutionary power bringing the tyrant to heal!

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - weak General as new Prime Minister

    Chief of Staff, the four-star general Gholam-Reza Azhari, "ordered the arrest not of the revolutionary leaders but of 132 high-ranking officials, including Hoveyda [after the revolutionaries came to power Hoveyda, in custody, was executed without trial] and Nasiri. Within two days Azhari, at first nicknamed `Iran's Pinochet` by the Leftists, was seen as a paper tiger. In Parliament he read poems, burst into tears and finally clinched a vote of confidence. But the spectacle, seen by millions on television, killed his government by portraying him as a rather inoffensive old gentlemen in a luxurious uniform." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.235)

    The Revolution - What Helped It Along - Army Unraveling

    The army's conscript soldier could not understand why they should suppress a revolution, which the Shah himself had so lavishly praised and approved. Very soon the army was faced with a growing problem of desertion. And in some barracks, notably one occupied by the [elite] Imperial Guard, ... men and junior officers revolted against their commanders. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.237)

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps - Appeasing the Rebels demoralizes Regime supporters

    "Hoveyda's arrest sent shockwaves throughout the bureaucracy. For 13 years he had presided over an expanding state apparatus, which had trebled in size in a decade. The majority of high-ranking and middle ranking members of the [bureaucracy] were Hoveyda appointees and many of them considered him as their godfather. His arrest was seen as an act of betrayal by the Shah..." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.237)

    The Revolution - Shah's Missteps - November 1978 - End in Sight

    "By the end of November, when Azhari was carried out of his office on a stretcher after suffering a stroke, the Shah had lost all effective control of the civil service and was on the point of losing his tenuous grip on the armed forces as well. The shah decided to leave the country as quickly as possible. " (p.237)

    The Revolution - Shah Leaves 16 January

    "News of the Shah's departure was followed by scenes of wild jubilation in the streets of Tehran and within hours almost every sign of the Pahlavi dynasty had been removed. Militants changed the names of streets and other public places, burned photos of the Shah, smashed his statues and cried themselves hoarse with endless shouts of `Death to the Shah`. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.240)

    The Revolution - the Hopelessness of the Pro-Shah Hardliners

    "General Gholam-Reza Rabi'i, the air force commander, was determined to shoot down any aircraft bringing Khomeini to Iran, but wanted his decision approved by the Shah," who wasn't talking to anyone with political questions about Iran. "By the end of January it was obvious that no one could prevent Khomeini from landing at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport without provoking a bloodbath. From 30 January the airport fell under the control of armed members of the Imam's committees." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.241)

    The Revolution Phase II - Following Khomeini's arrival in Iran

    Khomeini’s arrival in Iran

    Khomeini went from the airport to the new Behesht-e Zahra graveyard and gave "a long and bitter attack on the Pahlavis as a whole and on the departed Shah in particular. H accused him of having `destroyed our universities and expanded our cemeteries.` He also made a number of promises to the poor - including free housing, electricity and water - under the Islamic regime. The Ayatollah said he would not accept Bakhtiar's government ... `I shall kick their teeth in.`" A "mixture of passion and cynicism" that became his trademark (how the hell are your going to have free water and electricity?) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.241)

    Collapse of Bakhtiar Government

    "The only real battle of the revolution." "The Immortals, the only unit still loyal to the Shah's regime, was dispatched by its commander, General Ali Neshat, who had failed to make a deal with the mullahs, to `punish` air force cadets who had dared salute Khomeini instead of the Shah. While the Immortals were fighting the air force cadets, helped by the technical personnel and some NCOs, the Marxist Leninist Fedayeen guerrillas arrived on the scene, ... The Immortals won the battle but lost the empire. Before the sun had set the Shah's last Prime Minister was in hiding and most of his generals were either shot on the spot by guerrillas or arrested. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.246)

    Khomeini and the Left vie for the loyalty of revolutionaries

    COMMENT: Taheri portrays the left not as victims of the Khomeini's thugs but as violent provocateurs with whom Khomeini had to compete to prove he was sufficiently revolutionary; who often had more extreme positions than Khomeini; and who may have forced Khomeini to become more radical and violent than he wanted to.

    "History continued to hesitate; in that fateful February almost anything could have happened in Iran. No one, least of all Khomeini himself, had any clear idea as to how the transition would take place. Few people expected the army to melt away so quickly, leaving the crumbling imperial state to its fate. The Leftist guerillas had converged on Tehran from all over the country. Hundreds had also returned from abroad. They wanted to force the pace of the revolution, and from 6 February onwards they seized the initiative. Khomeini, after a moments hesitation, decided to side with the most radical elements, rightly sensing that the popular mood was against any unnecessary prolongation of the political struggle. He called on the people to defy martial law and invited the soldiers either to desert and return to their villages or to join the revolutionaries. For a while week the Imam was the hero of the Left which, jumping at the opportunity provided by the general confusion, acted decisively to strengthen its position. Scores of banks were attacked by guerrillas who `confiscated` substantial sums of money in the name of people. Army and police arsenals were raided and looted and guerrillas even succeeded in stealing tanks, anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers. Large numbers of conscripts, NCOs and junior officers joined the various guerrilla groups ..." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.246)

    Division between Left and Mullahs on Killing the Enemy

    Feb. 12. At Khomeini's headquarters "Every minute a new van arrived larded with former officials of the regime who were handed over to the Imam's self-styled bodyguards at the door of the Refah School for Girls. ... Here we bring you a four-star general, five three-star generals, a Prime Minister, seven ministers, etc. The captives were glad to be in the hands of Khomeini's men. Those who had been captured by the guerrillas of the Left had been murdered on the spot." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.246)

    How the Revolution Became so Bloody in Its Executions

    Islamists could appease the Left by promise wholesale nationalization and land distribution, which they didn't have to do right away. "But the Left also wanted blood, and clamored for the execution of former officials. While still at Neauphle-le-Chateau Khomeini had made it clear that the would put a number of former officials on trial. Motahari had been given to understand that the Imam had had only the SAVAK `torture masters` and at most 30 high-ranking politicians in mind. The trials, Motahari naively thought, would be principally aimed fully establishing that legitimacy of the revolution. There was no reason to believe that Khomeini himself had thought of any exact figure for the envisaged executions." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.247)

    The overwhelming majority of the revolutionaries were children and young people who cried out for action. In a country where some 60% of the population consisted of those aged below 20, [Khomeini-appointed Prime Minister] Bazargan's brand of conservatism would have quickly isolated the Imam's party and opened the door for a victory of the Leninist Left. Khomeini was determined not to allow this to happen and accordingly ordered a number of high-ranking military officers to be executed." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.248)

    Four leading generals shot on Valentines Day. "The execution of the generals broke the atmosphere of fear that still persisted among most of the revolutionaries, who could not believe that the Shah's regime was dead and that its powerful ally, the United States, would not lift a finger to help save its friends ... The fear that the army would be reconstituted and used either for a coup d’etat or as means of defending a conservative Islamic government was the chief concern of the Left in those days. The least the various Leftist groups would accept was the execution of more generals. The Imam was to meet them halfway and order some more military commanders to be shot." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.249)

    "Over 200 former officials, including 23 ex-ministers, were shot. The mullahs made a point of executing anyone who had at any time in his life committed `a grave office` against the clergy in general and the Imam in particular. Mohammad `Alameh-Vahidi, aged 102, was shot because of `insulting remarks` he had made about the Imam in 1963 during a speech in the Senate. His fellow-senator, Jamshid `A`alam, shared the same fate for the same reason." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.256)

    Purges During the Revolution - The Army

    By the end of 1979 between 8000 and 12000 officers, including all those ranking above brigadier, had been retired or cashiered. Of the 80 or so generals who had formed the top brass of the Shah's army, at least 70 were executed together with more then 200 other officers and NCOs. The executions shocked the helpless middle class but helped the Imam outmaneuver the Left, which still clamored about the `insufficient` number of executions." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.257)

    How the Islamist Revolution Adopted Leftist Vocabulary

    For at least the first week of the new regime Tehran was at the mercy of the Leftist guerrillas who unaware of their real organizational strength and badly divided, were unable to make a direct attempt at seizing power. Khomeini hugely radicalized his vocabulary and for the first time, made use of such typically Leninist terms as `imperialism.` In almost every speech he bitterly attacked the United States, giving the Left the impression that he was on their side in global terms. The Imam was anxious that no one should appear a more radical or more ardent revolutionary than himself ... the Imam robbed the Left of its vocabulary and slogans." The Middle Class was scared and deceiving themselves that Bazargan was in charge. "What mattered now was the support of the small shopkeepers, students, schoolchildren, workers and the lumpen-proletariat which could be seduced by the Left." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.247)

    Division between Left and Mullahs on Class Struggle - What the Revolution Was About For Khomeini: Cultural Issues

    "Khomeini was deeply disturbed by the class character that his revolution was beginning to assume. For him the revolution had mainly cultural aims. He wanted to eliminate the Shah and his close supporters because they were `evil` and `satanic.` He also wanted to end foreign, non-Muslim influence in Iran so as to foil what he considered to be `a Jewish plot to destroy Islam.` He further wanted to eliminate the Baha'i `heretics.` He believed that the clergy should have the final say in the affairs of the state and that the rules of Islam, which basically concerned personal behavior rather than social and economic matters, should be strictly applied. His opposition to the Shah's land reform had not been motivated either by personal loss of wealth or because of class solidarity with landlords. He saw the Shah's moves as a means of increasing his own `satanic` powers at the expense of the mullahs and the landlords." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.248)

    What the Revolution Was About For Khomeini: Not Fun

    `Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. Islam does not allow swimming in the sea and is opposed to radio and television serials. Islam, however, allows marksmanship, horseback riding and competition in [such sports]. [source: Meeting in Qom "Broadcast by radio Iran from Qom on 20 August 1979.")(The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri p.259)

    What the Revolution Was About For Khomeini: Not Economic Issues

    "The revolution had advanced no economic promises and Khomeini’s talk of free housing, electricity and water during this speech at Behest-e-Zahra had been an exception. The speech was, in fact, later relegated to oblivion and its taped or printed copies seized and destroyed on the orders of Khomeini himself." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.248)

    In his Revolutionary Council "5 of the 18 members ... were multi-millionaires, while at least 5 others were genuinely poor." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.248)

    Division between Left and Mullahs - Early Days

    "Khomeini could sense that the vast coalition built around his name was already beginning to disintegrate. The Left had more than 300,000 weapons, and ignored appeals by Khomeini to hand these over to the authorities." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.251)

    Division between Politicians in general and Mullahs - Later On

    Khameneh'i becomes president following assassination of Raja'i. Why a mullah for president? "Khomeini, who had frustrated Beheshti's presidential ambitions by insisting that mullahs should not seek the presidency, had at first been reluctant to change his mind for Khameneh'i. But the Imam was by now thoroughly disappointed in politicians and believed that only mullahs were truly trustworthy. In a speech he gave vent to his anger with the politicians and admitted that he had been wrong to expect them to serve the revolution with dignity. The Imam's low opinion of politicians, including those who had served him before and after the revolution, was prompted by a number of factors. Bazargan had proved to be weak and vacillating. Bani-Sadr had betrayed his `spiritual father.` The Mujahedeen who had killed in his name were now turning their guns against him [Khomeini] Documents seized from the occupied U.S. embassy building showed that almost all `nationalist` leaders had been in touch with the American in one way or another. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.277)

    Division between Army and Mullahs - How Khomeini craftily Defused a Potential Coup d’etat

    Khomeini dismissed the ambitious Army Chief of staff Qara-nay, who was rumoured to be plotting a coup d’etat, hinting that it "was merely a prelude to his impending appointment as Prime Minster .... a few days later Qara-nay was shot dead by a shady terrorist group." Example of Khod'eh. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.252-3)

    Division Within the Ulama - How Khomeini Defused Clerical Rivals - Moving to Qom

    Khomeini moved to Qom where "he could walk from his home to the holy shrine or the school without being surrounded by hundreds of armed men. He could also prevent any possibly of Shariatmadari, Golpayegani and Najafi forming a triumvirate against him. He called on the three grand Ayatollahs one by one, appearing to pay them full respect while encouraging their mutual jealousies." In Qom he could pretend to be away from politics "in reality ... no major decision or appointment could be made without his consent." He vetoed Bazargan's appointment not by calling Bazargan but by announcing his disapproval to the Government radio station for Bazargan to hear like the rest of the country. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.253)

    Division Within the Ulama

    Some mullahs have even actively opposed the rule of the Imam. An estimated 2000 mullahs and talabehs were in prison on political charges in 1982. The rule that mullahs should not kill mullahs was observed all along, but turbaned troublemakers were thrown in prison alongside other opponents of the regime." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)

    Anti-Zionist Character of the Revolution - Arafat Visits Iran for the First Time

    "Arafat had tried to visit Tehran for more than a decade but had met with the Shah's categorical refusal. He brought with him his `ambassador,` Hani al-Hassan, who declared that the PLO, having trained more than 10,000 anti-Shah guerrillas, considered itself to be a full partner in the victory of the revolution." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.250)

    Referendum for the Islamic Republic in March - What Did it Mean?

    "The Left and the monarchists boycotted the polls but failed to have any impact on the masses, who voted for the Imam. Islam had never advocated or experienced a republican form of government. ... To most people the Persian term jomhuri (republic) simply meant that there would be no monarch." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.250)

    Islamic Republic and Valayat-e-Faqih: It's History

    Taheri agrees with others that the lecture/book Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami was not an abrupt departure for Khomeini

    Most accounts of the Khomeini movement suggest that the Ayatollah did not think of exercising direct power until the middle of 1979, long after his revolution had triumphed. The truth, however, is that he had begun advocating direct rule by the clergy as early as 1961. During the 1978-79 revolution he simply kept that issue dormant in order not to alarm the Iranian middle class while also reassuring the United States. In Towzih al-Masayel first published in 1961, he says: `What is the good of us [i.e. the mullahs] announcing rules set out by Allah when we have no power to make sure they are obeyed.` The theme was taken up by several of Khomeini’s disciples, including Motahari and Beheshti. In the winter of 1962 the two men organized a series of conferences in which direct government by the clergy was discussed and debated. Several secular supporters of Khomeini, including Mehdi Bazargan, also took part." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.123)
    but also points out it was not a big innovation in Shi'a though.
    When writing the book Khomeini must have been aware of the tow opposing views concerning the political role of the mullahs which had for centuries divided the seminaries. While Kashef al-Ghita's interpreted the custodianship of the jurisconsult to mean direct rule by the mullahs, other leading authorities, such as Shaikh Ansari in the early 19th century, took it to mean only that orphans and widows with no next of kin should become wards of pious ayatollahs. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.163)
    The nearest thing to a model for Khomeini's Islamic republic was the Imamate of Yemen which had been overthrown in 1963 in an Egyptian-backed coup d'etat. The Yemenis, Zaydi Shi'ites, had lived within the system of Valayat-e-Faqih ... for centuries, with imams serving as both the temporal and the spiritual head of the community. In Oman, a similar experience by the `Abadhiah community had ended in the 19th century with the sultans of Muscat capturing the last strongholds of the community. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.251)

    Personalities in the Revolution

    Beheshti

    Motahari (Khomeini’s right-hand man?) was assassinated by Forqan terrorist group. "The void ... was quickly filled by Beheshti, who was soon to prove himself an able administrator as well as a clever maneuvered. Beheshti had never been as close to the Imam as Motahari and had no qualms about seeking a separate power base for himself. He founded the Islamic Republic Party and before the summer of 1979 was over he had emerged as the strong man of the new regime." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.256)

    Mohammad Mohammadi-Gilani, Hussein Mussavi, Assadollah Lajvardi

    A triumvirate of exceptionally brutal men consisting of two mullahs, Mohammad Mohammadi-Gilani and Hussein Mussavi-Tabrizi, together with Assadollah Lajvardi, one of the closest friend of the assassinated Raja'i, was formed to quell the Mujahedeen revolt. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.277)

    General Qassem-Ali Zahir-Nezhad

    The new Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Qassem-Ali Zahir-Nezhad, emerged as a competent military leader capable of turning the tide of the war. Under his leadership Iran liberated almost all the territory it had lost to Iraq, including 12 towns and more than a 1000 villages. And in July 1982 Iranian forces launched their first invasion of Iraq itself. For a few exciting weeks the Iraqi regime appeared on the verge of collapse, and the Imam was speaking of an early liberation of Jerusalem as the natural sequel to victory in Mesopotamia." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.280) In 1984 Khomeini relieved Zahir-Nehad, "the popular army Chief of Staff, of his position, because of a remark by the general that the `normal military objectives of the war` had been achieved." [source: remark made in an interview with the magazine Saf, Tehran, August 1984.] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)

    Shariatmadari

    "Was the first Grand Ayatollah in the history of Shi'ism to be defrocked and was forced to wear a European suit. He had on countless occasions helped Khomeini and had played a crucial role in the early stages of the revolt against the Shah. Now Khomeini repaid him by sparing his life. The Imam also allowed Shariatmadari to continue to wear his beard, although his turban was not to be restored to him. Shariatmadari, anxious to avoid bloodshed, accepted the humiliation and refused to call his supporters to revolt." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.282)

    "By April 1985 it had become clear that Shariatmadari was still considered a potential threat. President Khameneh'i claimed, in a speech that disgruntled mullahs hand talabehs were converging on Qom from all over the country in the hope of reviving the defrocked Grand Ayatollah's prestige, presenting him as a martyr..."

    Hostage Crisis

    How the Revolution Wasn't Really Anti-American Until America Allowed the Shah to Come to America

    "Many people in the Imam's entourage privately believed that Carter had helped speed up the triumph of the revolution by abandoning the Shah to his fate. Thus they did not include the United States among the long list of the new regime's enemies. The U.S.A. was seldom attacked as an imperialist power and , when mentioned on rare occasions, was criticized only for having supported the Shah for so long and for her continued assistance to Israel. Efforts by the Left, especially Tudeh and the Fedayeen guerrillas, to give the revolution an anti-American edge did not succeed. ... Attacks on American embassy and consulate buildings by Fedayeen and Mujahedeen elements had been firmly dealt with by the authorities. Night after night, hundreds of mullahs used the pulpits in mosques throughout the country to denounce communism and attack the Soviet Union for its role in Afghanistan... A constant theme was that the Shah would have been unable to prevent the takeover of Iran by Communists in the long run, and that the Islamic Revolution could now make sure that this did not happen. Thus when the Shah was given permission to travel to New York for medical treatment in October few people either in Tehran or in Washington expected the move to cause a major upset in the tenuous relations between the two countries. They were to be proved wrong.... (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.264)

    The fact that the students stole the show from everyone else and became the focus of universal attention, thanks to television and satellite transmission, made any quick settlement impossible. The `heroes of Islam`, as they were instantly labeled by Tudeh propaganda, could not simply bow out after sunset. A group of students who had previously been just part of the gray mass of frustrated revolutionaries craving dramatic action now felt they could dictate the future of the country - indeed of the whole world." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.265-6)

    Key Player - Khoiniha

    Khoiniha was the mullah sent to the students by Khomeini after they requested he send them one. This "was to prove crucial. The young mullahs, aged 39 at the time, had distinguished himself as an able organizer and belonged to the hard-line faction in Khomeini's entourage. He hated the U.S.A. for its support of Israel and had deep sympathies with the Palestinians who had trained him in the art of guerrilla warfare in Lebanon in the 1960s." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.266)

    CIA Files uncovered at the American Embassy in Tehran.

    "A few observations might be in order. The U.S.A. had roughly 5000 `sources of information` in Iran, ranging from paid CIA agent to voluntary informants. These `sources were recruited form all walks of life and included almost all the Shah's known non-clerical opponents over some 25 years." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.267)

    The publication of these documents, carefully selective to be sure, discredited most of the middle-class politicians who still insisted on a share of power. Many of them had to escape the country to avoid arrest and possible execution as CIA agents. Some, like Amir-Entezam and Dariush Foruhar, who had been Bazargan's Labour Minister, were imprisoned, the former for life. The comments provided the excuse for a fresh purge of the civil service, the media and the armed forces." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.268)

    Failure of the American Hostage Rescue Attempt.

    "The continued confrontation with the United States strengthened the position of the Left which hoped the Imam's movement would lead to a pan-Islamic revolt against `American Imperialism.` The subject of `exporting the revolution,` first raised by Bani-Sadr in his election campaign, was seized upon by the Left and the Islamic radicals as a proper avenue for the energies of Islamic Iran. The Imam had until then promised to work for the liberation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish state. But now that he had proved that `America cannot do a damn thing,` he was beginning to talk about the overthrow of `puppet regimes imposed on Muslim peoples everywhere.`" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.270)

    Iraqi Invasion

    Initial Reaction to the Iraqi Invasion - Sue for Peace

    The Beheshti faction tried to dismiss the Iraqi move as a limited show of force. The Imam was at first inclined to share that view, and accordingly told the nation in a message that the Iraqis had acted like `a thief who throws a stone in the garden and flees.` The Islamic leadership was not psychologically prepared for war and both Bani-Sadr and Raja'i (Prime Minister) were, at first, inclined to look for a quick cease-fire by announcing that Islam attached no importance to `land and water`. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.271)

    Assassination of General?

    Bani-Sadr hoped to use the army as a force capable of counterbalancing the organization of the mullahs. The Chief of Staff, Brigadier Valliollah Fallahi, had gained nationwide popularity and headed a group of officers who seemed to prefer almost anyone to the mullahs. But Fallahi and most of the key members of his group were to be killed before the first year of the war was over in air crash, the circumstance of which remained shrouded in mystery. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.273)

    Rekindling the Revolution

    The seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran had given the revolution a second wind but had failed to reverse the overall trend of decline but had failed to reverse the overall trend of decline. It was the Iraqi invasion of Khuzestan that rekindled the dying flame. The Imam described the war as `a blessing from Allah,` and decided that more than ever before, he should listen to one except those teeming masses of children and teenagers craving martyrdom. Without the war, these children and young people, radicalized to a degree unknown anywhere else in the world, might have been attracted to" the left. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.273)

    Bani-Sadr's Unraveling

    Trying to Build a Power Base

    Bani-Sadr seemed to be trying to create a new coalition around himself. He was already in touch with Mujahedeen and enjoyed the support of the National Front as well as Bazargan and Ghotbzadeh. Worse still, Bani-Sadr openly courted the three Grand Ayatollahs of Qom as well as Ayatollah Qomi and Ayatollah Abdullah Shirazi in Mashhad. The latter two responded by strongly supporting Bani-Sadr and condemning the principle of" Velyat-e Faqih. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.274)

    Bani-Sadr's Unraveling - Challenging Khomeini's Guys

    After a March 1981 reconciliation meeting with Khomeini telling them all to get along. "Within a few days Bani-Sadr resumed his attacks on his rivals, and by June he was at the center of what looked like a burgeoning insurrection. In violent articles and speeches he indirectly attacked Khomeini for his `personality cult,` and called for the dissolution of Parliament, the dismissal of Raja'i as Premier and of Behesti as Chief Justice and the abrogation of the Council of Guardians, Imitating some of Khomeini's own tactics against the Shah, Bani-Sadr also called on the Tehran bazaar to close down for a day of protest. The bazaar did not close, however, as an angry Imam threatened to `cut off the hands of anybody` involved in such a move." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.275)

    Bani-Sadr's Unraveling - Khomeini More and More Goes Against Bani-Sadr

    Khomeini's grandson, Hussein made a speech in Mashhad in June in which he warned the nation of `the establishment of religious Fascism which is the worst kind of Fascism.` The Imam had the erring grandson brought to him in Jamaran and kept him a prisoner there for six months, by which time Bani-Sadr was already in exile in France." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.275)

    Tide Turns in Iran's Favor

    The new Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Qassem-Ali Zahir-Nezhad, emerged as a competent military leader capable of turning the tide of the war. Under his leadership Iran liberated almost all the territory it had lost to Iraq, including 12 towns and more than a 1000 villages. And in July 1982 Iranian forces launched their first invasion of Iraq itself. For a few exciting weeks the Iraqi regime appeared on the verge of collapse, and the Imam was speaking of an early liberation of Jerusalem as the natural sequel to victory in Mesopotamia." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.280)

    "Tens of thousand of Children and adolescents, wearing crimson headbands with the slogan `Hail to Khomeini`, poured into the war zone. Many received plastic `Keys to Paradise,` manufactured in Taiwan. There young wards of the Imam` cleaned minefields by simply running through them, often getting blown to pieces. They attacked and destroyed Iraqi tanks in kamikaze style."

    How poor, how miserable, how ignorant was I in all the fourteen years of my wretched life that was passed in the ignorance of Allah. The Imam gave light to my eyes ... How sweet, sweet is death - this blessing of Allah to those who are favored. [from Kayhan, airmail edition, 13 February 1985]

    Importance of Radicalism in the Revolution and in the War with Iraq for Khomeini

    In 1984 Khomeini relieved Zahir-Nehad, "the popular army Chief of Staff, of his position, because of a remark by the general that the `normal military objectives of the war` had been achieved." [source: remark made in an interview with the magazine Saf, Tehran, August 1984.] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)
    Years of experience taught the Imam that leading a revolution is like riding a bicycle: any hesitation in pedaling forward would mean a nasty fall. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)

    War Slogan

    "War, War, Until Victory" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.295)

    Mujahedeen's Campaign of Terror

    It's Political Effects

    "The Mujahedeen's campaign of terror hardened the regime's attitude towards dissent. A triumvirate of exceptionally brutal men consisting of two mullahs, Mohammad Mohammadi-Gilani and Hussein Mussavi-Tabrizi, together with Assadollah Lajvardi, one of the closest friend of the assassinated Raja'i, was formed to quell the Mujahedeen revolt. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.277)

    Extreme Reaction Against It

    Gilani, citing the Imam's theological authority, announced that there was no age limit for executions and in fact, there was none. `A nine year-old girl is considered an adult in Islam`, the Hojat al-Islam [Gilani] announced. `So such a girl is responsible for her acts and can be executed if she tried to war on Allah.` [source: (newspaper?) Sobh Azadegan, 20 June 1981. Also the Guardian, London, 24 June 1981.] The youngest prisoner to be executed were Zaha Maqsadi, a ten-year-old girl, and the two Mesbah sisters aged 13 and 15. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.278)

    Radicalizing the Mullahs by Killing So Many Of Them

    "It radicalized the mood of the mullahs, who could now claim to have invested their own blood in the revolution. Thanks to Khomeini's tactics, the mullahs had suffered virtually no casualties during the campaign against the Shah, Having cleverly hidden behind middle-class politicians and Leftist guerrillas. This was one of the reasons why the mullahs were considered as usurpers of the revolution. Mujahedeen changed that by killing some 2000 mullahs, including at least 12 very prominent religious leaders in provincial centers throughout the country. The mullahs could now claim the revolution as truly their own; they had not only designed, started and led it but had also given their blood for it.

    Raising the Stakes and Crowding Out Non-Violent Dissent

    "The Mujahedeen raised the stakes high above the reach of ordinary mortals. There was no longer any question of exerting pressure on the regime through propaganda, strikes, rallies and other peaceful means. Politics in Iran was reduced to the art of killing and getting killed. ...The proverbial `fish-in-water` guerrillas was isolated in the aquarium of his own illusions and quickly netted by the regime." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.279)

    "The Third Effect... was the Emergence of the Hojatieh as a powerful force"

    The Hojatieh had shied away from the revolution because of their aversion to its leftist rhetoric and their religious doctrinal disagreement with rule by Valayat-e Faqih. But the "Hojatieh could now work their way up the state structure, benefiting from the rout of the Islamic Left. Being the only religious group with a solid nationwide organization, Hojatieh helped its members capture key position in the Cabinet and local administration. Its leader, Ayatollah Shaikh Mahmoud Halabi, was neither seen nor heard in public but exercised great influence from his semi-derelict, two-story, mud-brick home in south Tehran. Hojatieh rejected Khomeini's claim to be either an Imam or even the sole `regent` of the Hidden Imam." Neither Halabi nor Khomeini would visit the other first so they didn't visit. Efforts at reconciliation failed. "A year later [1983] Khomeini ordered Hojatieh to disband. Halabi obliged by calling on his supporters to go underground." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.279)

    Islamic Governance

    Legislative Deadlock

    "Addressing the mullahs both in the Majlis and in the Council of Guardians he warned that he would `box your ears` He said

    ... your quarrels [together] are not for Allah. You are quarrelling for your own ends. You cannot fool me by saying that your quarrels are about the interests of Islam. You are fighting for power and I know it. Each of you is saying: more, give me more power. Your quarrels occur because none of you is content to sit on his own carpet and wants to stretch his legs on someone else's carpet as well.`
    [source: Sokahnrani Imam beh monasebat payan Majlis Khebregan (The speech of the Imam on the occasion of the conclusion of the work of the assembly of Experts), published by Pishva, Tehran, 1984.

    "These remarks reflected ... Khomeini's belief that individuals are motivated to do good or evil" and if they quarrel its because one or more them has succumbed to evil, or as Khomeini would put it has failed to curb `the devil inside` (Nafs-e-ammarah). The idea that different groups with different "social and economic status and interests or class affiliation" might have equal sincere but passionately opposing ideas of what policies were Islamic was just not on Khomeini's radar. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.286)
    He thought the mullahs fought "not because of their social and economic status and interests or class affiliation but as a result of their success or failure in curbing `the devil inside` (Nafs-e-ammarah) The `quarrels,` as the Imam called them were, however, not over personal ambitions alone. They reflected deep class divisions among the mullahs themselves."

    What are the Three Political Tendencies of the Islamic Government?

    The Mullahs had an "almost complete monopoly of political power in Iran from 1982 onwards, were divided in three groups."

    COMMENT: Unlike some other analysts who also find three political blocs groups in Iran (e.g. Mackay), Taheri does not divide into traditionalist, pragmatist and radical, but into the upper class mullahs (not exactly conservative because they want to spread the revolution), leftish lower and middle class (who are more lefty than Islamic radical not only because they support left economic policies, but also (relatively) moderate social cultural policies on women and hijab), and last and least, the hacks, with no ideological tendency and no motivation except greed.

    Well-to-do Mullahs Bloc

    Interpreted Islam to mean a set of moral rules that could be observed independently of the society's economic infrastructure. The late Beheshti was a leading figure in that group. His mantle was inherited by Mahdavi-Kani and Hashemi-Rafsanjani who, despite their own differences, support a mixed economy and a gradual improvement in relations with the West. As far as this group is concerned, the revolution has achieved most of its objectives inside Iran and should now devote its attention to the imposition of Islamic rule elsewhere, notably in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.286)
    Are for laissez faire economics aside from forbidding of immoral practices like usury, excessive profiteering.

    "This group enjoying a majority in the Council of Guardians, has been able to veto a series of proposed bills passed by the majlis designed to `socialize` the economy. These included two separate attempts" to redistribute land to peasants. A bill nationalizing the all foreign trade. And a labor code replacing the Shah's one. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.287)

    Radical Populist Bloc

    Mostly from lower middle-class background. Want "collective ownership of the means of production distribution and exchange." Opposes exporting the Islamic Revolution and insists that the most urgent task at the moment is the complete destruction of the Iranian bourgeoisie which is a potential fifth column for the `Great Satan`" Khameneh'i, the President, Mussavi, the Prime Minister, and Khoiniha, the Prince of the Pilgrims` [leader of the American Embassy hostage takers] are among the key figures of this group." Which also "advocates a more liberal policy on rules of dress, social conduct and the arts." Wants "closer ties with non-aligned and socialist countries."

    COMMENT: This conflict with descriptions of Khameneh'i and Hashemi-Rafsanjani being, at least at first, allies for (relative) pragmatism and moderation.

    Personal-Power-and-Wealth Bloc

    The third group in the coalition consists of those mullahs who have no particular views on either the economy of the political future of the country so long as their newly won position of financial and social power is maintained. Forming the vast majority of the mullahs cooperating with the regime, the group does not have recognizable national leaders. But such personalities as Ayatollah Ehsan Bakhsh, the Prayer Leader of Rasht, and Hojat al-Islam Abbas Va'ez-Tabassi, the Dean of the Holy Shrine at Mashhad, have achieved national a notoriety and influence. In the continuing power struggle between the first two groups, members of the third alternately side with one or the other in accordance with their own interests." (p.288)

    What are the Circles of Power of the Islamic Government?

    "The Imam tried to ensure the loyalty of people in key positions in two different ways. First, he promoted to positions of responsibility people sharing common roots with himself." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)

  • Innermost circle: "those related to Khomeini."
    "Men directly related to Khomeini himself hold some 50 key positions including those of Deputy Prime Minister and the director of the Imam Fund" which has 17.5 billion in assets. Sayyad Ahmad "had emerged as the 2nd most powerful man in the republic after Hashemi-Rafsanjani" by 1982. [all figures as of 1985]
  • 2nd innermost circle: Mussavis (i.e. descendents of Mussa Iban Jaafar, the seventh Imam): The President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, and
    12 out of 22 members of the Cabinet,
    53 of the 271 seats in Parliament
    7 out of 23 provincial governors-general
    75 out of the top 120 public enterprises in the country were headed by Mussavis.
  • 3rd innermost circle of power: Sayyids. 600 of 1000 people "in key posts in the government at all levels" were sayyeds ("with Mussavis forming the vast majority among them.") (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.290)
  • 4th innermost circle: 'Ulama, The Clergy in general. (Sayyeds form no more than 30% of all mullahs.)
  • 5th inner circle: Shi'ite from three provinces of Isfahan, Fars, and Yazd. "Almost 70% of all key posts are held by people from these three provinces, which nevertheless represent only 10% of the country's total population."
  • 6th Circle: Shi'ites in general. They "occupy every single key post in the administration plus 95% of the seats in Parliament. Sunni Muslims, who claim to number 6 million in Iran, have virtually no role in the government. And the country's estimated 1.5 million religious minorities are by definition excluded from any position of responsibility in the administration." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.290)
  • The Revolution?

    To Moderate or Continue Radicalization?

    Years of experience taught the Imam that leading a revolution is like riding a bicycle: any hesitation in pedaling forward would mean a nasty fall. In 1982, the Imam, under pressure from Montazeri and others, promulgated an eight point edict aimed at softening the process of `Islamicization` and limiting the powers of the revolutionary komitehs. The edict created a sensation for a while, but was quietly abandoned after it became clear that its implementation would demoralize the most radical supporters of the Imam and only please middle-class elements who would in no circumstances accept Khomeini's rule willingly. That was the only time Khomeini had allowed himself to be forced into a position where he would seem less radical than the most radical elements in the movement. The gaffe was quickly corrected and the revolutionary komitehs, helped by a new brigade for `enjoining the Good and Preventing the Evil,` were allowed to make sure that Islam was not being violated even in the privacy of people's homes. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.289)

    Islamic Government v. Traditional Islamic Practices - How they clashed

    "During the general election of 1981, when the Imam was unwell, he authorized the government to keep news of his death a secret for as long as necessary if that were deemed essential for the safety of the state." [source: related by Rafsanjani in a Tehran Radio interview on 10 February 1983]
    Perfectly reasonable and unremarkable, right? The death might have been a cue for Mujahideen or someone to start a revolt or some faction of mullahs to panic and try and cease control. So a little quiet spell is no biggie. ... Well except "under Islamic law a man should be buried within 24 hours of his death. Khomeini was apparently using his authority as Imam to suspend that rule in his own case." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.296)

    The Revolution - Muslim Enthusiasm Abroad

    "The advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, at first looked upon as a strange aberration, was by 1981 treated as a direct menace to almost every Islamic state from Indonesia to Morocco. In the almost unbroken chain of riots in more than a dozen Muslim countries, from Bangladesh to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, portraits of Khomeini and translations of his thoughts in local languages were essential parts of the revolutionary arsenal. The Assassins of Egypt's President Anwar Sadat invoked Khomeini's name during their trial and King Hassan of Morocco went on television to single out the Imam as the man behind the North African Kingdom's nationwide revolts in 1983. It became evident that Khomeini's appeal was not limited to Shi'ites. Sunni radicals also adopted his slogans in their efforts to mobilize popular support. Fear of Khomeini was in part responsible for the sudden and almost concerted reintroduction of strict Islamic laws in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania. Even secular Turkey had to move some steps away from Kemalism in order to accommodate the new mood of Islamic militancy exported by Iran." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.296-7)

    The Revolution - Muslim Enthusiasm Abroad - Why? Militant Jihadi anti-Jewish

    Khomeini has succeeded in appropriating a cause abandoned by almost every other political leader in the region but still enjoying genuine support in some sections of society: the cause of physically destroying the Israeli state and forcing its inhabitants out of the Middle East. Other leaders.. no longer dare speak in such terms even though they may dream of Israel's death in private. Khomeini has no inhibitions about branding the Jews as responsible for almost all the ills of the is world and calling on Muslims to prepare for holy war and qital (killing in the name of Allah) against the Jewish state.
    The Imam's militant talk, coming after over a decade of moderate discourse in the region, was bound to attract some support. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.297)

    The Revolution - What Khomeini preaches to Foreign visitors

    Brothers, do not sit at home so that they [the enemy] attack. Move onto the offensive and be sure that they shall retreat . . This was what happened in Iran and Iran's power was far greater than most of the other countries ... Do not content yourself with teaching the people the rules of prayer and fasting. The rules of Islam are not limited to these ... Why don't you recite the sura of qital? Why should you always recite the suras of mercy? Don't forget that killing is also a form of mercy ... There are ills that cannot be cured except through burning. The corrupt in every society should be liquidated ... The Qur'an teaches us to treat as brother only those who are Muslims and believe in Allah. [It] teaches us to treat those who are not thus differently; teaches us to hit them, throw them in jail and kill them ..."
    Address to "a number of visiting Muslim radical leaders from some 30 countries" [source: Kayhan, airmail edition, 13 February 1985.](Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.298)

    The Revolution - Dangers to Avoid According to Khomeini

    "The imam himself has been conscious of the fragility of his achievement. In 1983 he warned his supporters that their victories could prove as transitory as `the triumphs of Hitler`. `I have the fear that, like Hitler, we may enter history as people who achieved quick victories followed by defeat.` [source: Neda Paris 1983] (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.299)

    The heritage of Satan is none other than egoism. All the corruption the world has suffered from results from this: every corruption caused by individuals or governments in every society ... Satan is everywhere, even alongside those who sit at home and pray ... Every path can lead to Hell: Science could lead Man to Hell; at times even Monotheism can lead Man to Hell; Mysticism can lead Man to Hell; Theology can lead Man to Hell; Ethics can lead Man to Hell...
    Peace be unto all those who follow the Right Path. [source: Kayhan, airmail edition, 13 February 1985.](Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.301)

    The Revolution - Dangers Khomeini may be Creating (for the Revolution)

    "He has brought millions of people onto the streets of Tehran, or into the mosques for Friday's communal prayers, and has taught them to wave their clenched fists and shout `Death to America` as soon as they spot a television camera. He has told them that America, dominated by `evil Jews,` is Islam's arch-enemy, but he has not told them why. More importantly he has not told them how to combat this arch-enemy except by killing American soldiers in their sleep or holding American diplomats hostage. Far from beating a retreat, the United States has reinforced its political, economic and military presence in the region and is for the first time the dominant foreign military power in the Persian Gulf itself." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.299)

    COMMENT: The first part or the problem - not telling his peons WHY something is so, or WHAT constructive measures they should take to DO about it - doesn't really seem a problem. The why is whatever the Mullahs want to fight against at the time, or whatever problem they need a scapegoat for. The second part - that rather than collapsing under the weight of its decadence and depravity America is getting angry and more resolute - IS a problem and goes up against the heart of Islamist ideology, i.e. that America is the Byzantium to Russia's Ancient Persia - the second of the two big empires to collapse before the religious might of Islam.

    The Revolution - Failure - Inequality

    "Some of the old rich have left the country or have fallen a few rungs down the economic ladder. But the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. [source: Report by Budget and Planning Ministry, Tehran, October 1984] Unprecedented profits are being made on the black market and from the miseries of a nation hit by war and revolutionary dislocation. In the summer of 1984 Premier Mussavi exposed a swindle that had robbed the state of some $315 million in an agri-business project in East Azerbaijan. The `new profiteers,` as Mussavi calls them are making fortunes undreamed of anywhere else in the region. They, of course, pay the share due to the Imam in accordance with religious rules and observe regulations concerning individual dress and behavior to the letter. They attend the communal prayers on Fridays, sitting in the first row and staring into television cameras. ... And their fortune continues to grow." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.300)


    Reference

    FACTS ABOUT ISLAM AND IRAN

    Sayyads

    the title of Sayyed meaning `gentleman` in Arabic, is in its more specific application, reserved for those who claim direct descent from the Prophet Muhammed. To distinguish themselves from the lesser mortals, the sayyed used to wear a green belt. the color of the house of Hashem, the Prophet's own `chosen clan`.... The sayyeds are known as the Ahl-e-Bayt or the People of the House, and are marked out for special honors and privileges. No believer is allowed to sit down to a meal unless he has first made sure that not a single sayyed living within seven streets of him is hungry."
    "But how does one find out whether or not one is a sayyed? This is a very difficult task indeed. ...Until the 1920s Iran did not have a single public record office. Apart from a thousand or so families who were able to produce private genealogical records, no one's memory reached back far beyond their great-grandfather's time. The country's numerous experiences of foreign occupation and countless civil wars over 14 centuries meant that whole families were wiped out without a trace, to be replaced by new and equally transient ruling clans. ... The easiest way for a claimant was simply to introduce oneself boldly as a sayyed. In some cases, the trick worked. In others it led to death for the pretenders. Those who falsely claim to be sayyeds become mahdur ad-damm (those whose blood must be shed) There is no need to put them on trial or arrange for their punishment through public authorities. It is simply incumbent on every true believer to carry out the sentence. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.27-8)

    Different varieties of Sayyeds

    Among the sayyeds themselves some are more equal than others.

  • "At the tip of the pyramid are the Tabatab'i whose name indicate that they are descendants of the Prophet on both sides."
  • "Next come the Husseini Sayyeds, those who can directly trace their ancestry to Hussein, the third Imam."
  • "Following them in order of merit are the Razavi sayyeds, the descendants of Ali Ibn Mussa, the eight Imam, whose golden domed mausoleum in Mashhad is Iran's holiest shrine."
  • "Hassani sayyeds, who claim descent from the second Imam, Hassan are but a handful. Imam Hassan does not enjoy the same popularity as his brother Hussein because of the peace he negotiated with Musawyyah who became Caliph in Damascus and is considered a usurper by the Shi'ites."
  • "But the most numerous of all sayyeds are the Mussavis, descendants of Mussa Ibn Jaafar, the seventh Imam. There are no accurate statistics showing a clear breakdown of the various categories of sayyeds and their relative numerical strength. But it would be safe to say that the Mussavis account for some 70% of all sayyeds in Iran." Why does he have so many descendents? "He lived to a ripe old age while most of the others were either poisoned by intriguing caliphs or murdered by fanatics who did not approve of their reading of the Qur'an." He had not only more than one wife, but had numerous mut'aah temporary wives aka concubines. "Estimates of the offspring he left behind vary between 135 and 750." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.29)

    Iranian Minorities - Turkoman (Sunni) Brigands and How the Shah was Improving Security

    ... Stopped by a group of Turkoman bandits near Quchan, the pilgrims escaped possible death thanks to the sudden arrival of a detachment of Amnieh (security guards). The Turkomans, being Sunni Muslims, would have been delighted to cut the throats of so many Shi'ite mullahs whom they considered to be the falsifiers of true Islam." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.85)

    Iranian Minorities

    "The religious minorities are the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Jews, the Zoroastrians, the Sabeans, the Baha'is and the Yazidis. The last three however, are not considered as religious communities but as `political entities.`" (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.313)

    Sex - Temporary Wives or Seeghahs (aka mut'aah)

    "Some of the Pilgrims Khomeini had come to Mashhad with "took temporary wives or Seeghahs. It is not known whether Ruhollah was among those who took advantage of the seeghah rule, but it is perfectly likely that he did. [Moin disagrees] He had had a number of temporary wives in Qom, and in his subsequent writings he was to designate bachelors as `prey to Satan,` quoting the Prophet's celebrated dictum that `marriage saves half of a man's faith.` The temporary marriage provided for under the Seeghah rule is expected to be devoid both of love and lust. A man should satisfy this sexual needs which, if ignored for a long time, could lead to `consternation, misery, and even violence.` But the prime objective of the contract was not the satisfaction of sexual needs. The seeghah or temporary wife was not even seen by her future `husband` before the completion of the contract.

    "In most cases, temporary wives were recruited amongst young widows, who used the opportunity for making ends meet. The temporary wife could be taken into contract for any length of time from a single hour to 99 years. Every seeghah had to observe a period of a 100 days abstinence after separating from a temporary husband before being allowed to enter another temporary marriages. In practice, therefore, no woman could become a seeghah more than 3X in a single year. Temporary wives were in great demand in the summer when wealthy Muslims sent their full legal wives - sometimes four of them - to cooler mountain resorts and soon found themselves a `prey to Satan.` In some cases the legal wife or wives chose the seeghah for the husband left behind in the dusty bazaar of a sweltering town. Often the same woman performed the task of seeghah for the same man every summer. [Married] women were, of course, denied a similar arrangement as they were expected to remain scrupulously monogamous.

    "The holy cities of Mashhad and Qom were important centers for women seeking temporary marriages. There were two reasons for this. First, both cities were full of male pilgrims who, having left their families behind, found it hard to spend several weeks or months without female company. The seeghah was needed not only for the carnal service she provided but also to offer the lonely pilgrim a steadying hand. She ran her temporary husband's temporary abode like any permanent wife looking after he own family residence. At the start of the contract the seeghah receive the sum promised her under the contract. In addition, some seeghahs received cash or gifts in recognition of special services or the extra pleasure their company might have given to their masters. But any children born of the temporary arrangement were automatically denied any financial claim on their father or any estate he left behind. Thus, thousands of women had to work as temporary wives in order to support offspring produced as a result of earlier seeghah contracts.

    At the time Ruhollah and his friends were in Mashhad, taking seeghahs was far from being considered morally undesirable - as it was soon to be, thanks to government propaganda - but was seen as an act of piety towards poor and unprotected women. A man would be praised for saving a lonely woman from both solitude and poverty by making her his temporary wife; he could be equally sure of being envied for his ability to afford the costly enterprise. ... such contracts could be afforded by only a very small percentage of the population. (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.86-87)

    Names - Women - and the Position of Women in 1930s Iran

    "It was in the same year [1932] that a law under which all Iranians were expected to have identity cards and adopt family names was introduced. Until then there were almost no surnames. People were known as so-and-so, son of so-and-so. And women, of course, were never identified for any public purpose. A woman could only be known as so-and-so's sister, mother, daughter or wife. Her name would never be known to strangers or pronounced in their presence. The name of Ruhollah's wife, for example remained a secret until 1979 when urged by his Western-educated advisers, he agreed that it could be revealed to foreign reporters seeking more information on the life of Iran's future ruler. Before that, Batul was only known as Mostafa's Mother. Women who had no sons, and therefore could not be identified as someone's mother, were almost never referred to or at best, known as `Aqeemah (the Barren One). A woman who gave birth to boys immensely enhanced her status; one who produced only girls earned the title of Dokhtar-Za (Daughter-Maker) and was at best tolerated." (The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution by Amir Taheri, c1985, p.92)

    Sunni and Shi'ites - Difference between

    "It is unclear when and where Shi'ism, which was at first little more than a sentiment, developed into a distinct faith claiming an independent existence of its own. But what is certain is that by the 10th century the Shi'ite version of Islam was already fully established and seen by the majority of Muslims as a continuation of Zoroastrianism.
    Islam, as revealed in the Qur'an and the original traditions attributed to Muhammed, has only three principles. They are

  • towheed, (the belief that there is only one God),
  • nobuwwah (the belief that God had dispatched prophets to guide mankind and that Muhammed was the last of them), and
  • ma'ad (the belief that there will be a Day of Reckoning).

  • Shi'ism adds to these principles two of its own:
  • adl (the belief that the justice of Allah must be meted out in this world also) and
  • imamah (the belief that Ali and his eleven male descendants represent the only legitimacy on earth before the Day of Reckoning.)

  • In the absence of the 12th Imam, all government, even if exercised by Shi'ites, remains Ja'er or illegitimate. Thus right from the start, Shi'ism nurtured within itself a streak of anarchism which inspired and sustained more than one revolutionary movement." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.175)

    Valayat-e-Faqih - Precedents for

    "The nearest thing to a model for Khomeini's Islamic republic was the Imamate of Yemen which had been overthrown in 1963 in an Egyptian-backed coup d’etat. The Yemenis, Zaydi Shi'ites, had lived within the system of Valayat-e-Faqih for centuries, with imams serving as both the temporal and spiritual head of the community. In Omam a similar experience by the 'Abadhiah community had ended in the 19th Century with the Sultans of Muscat capturing the last strongholds of the community." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.250-1)

    Non-Class Character of the Revolutionary Council

    "5 of the 18 members of the council were multi-millionaires, while at least 5 others were genuinely poor." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.248)

    Islam - Steps to being a good Muslim

    "The individual begins by having iman (Faith) when he learns the truth of Islam. The next step is to acquire Taqwa (piety) and organize one's own life in accordance with the rules of Islam. ... the next stage of his development" is tasdeeq. Now the term tasdeeq is a difficult one to translate in a single word. It means the realization in this world of the eternal truth revealed to Muhammed by Allah in the Qur'an. [source: Ayatollah `Alameh Tabataba'i in Quran dar Islam, Qom, 1980.] ... People who are forced to obey the rules of Islam, even grudgingly, will end up living by those rules as if they formed their second nature. Most people would go astray and be lost if left to their own intellectual resources and moral strength" so the elite of the religiously strong must force them to obey. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.260)

    Khomeini's Home in Jamaran

    "Jamaran, in the foothills of northeast Tehran, is a featureless village long overshadowed by its prestigious neighbor Niavaran, where the Shah had his winter palace. The village, the name of which means `the abode of the snakes,` ... was notorious for its poisonous adders, which were reputed to launch a general attack on human beings once every seven years. ... A local ayatollah, issued an edict, announced that Jamaran's adders would be powerless against the sayyeds. So the village which enjoys an excellent climate, came to have an unusually high percentage of Sayyeds."

    The Imam moved into a house donated to him, as Sahm-e-Imam (the Imam's share), by a faithful follower in 1980. He moved there in February 1980 and never left it. Within a few weeks other faithful followers were encouraged to make donations of their homes, which bordered the one occupied by the Imam. The new possessions were quickly allocated to the Imam's close relatives and personal bodyguard. Eventually the entire village was sealed off, and by 1985 most of its original inhabitants had left, enabling the Revolutionary Guards to turn Jamaran into a fortress. Khomeini could walk the eight-meter-long alley that separates his residence from Jamaran's hosseinieh without fear of assassination. The fortified village became something of a prison of the Imam, who, for the first time in his life was unable to pray at a holy shrine for more than four years.. Warned by his security advisers not to venture out of his home and thus unable to go to the people, the Imam now has people brought to him. Everyday he receives several groups of officials, militants, relatives of the martyrs and foreign visitors." His compound has a $7 million Siemens security system and a battery of anti-aircraft guns. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.285)

    Dual Legal System

    Conservative mullahs "succeeded in imposing the system of qissass [i.e. retribution or retaliation (one of the four kinds of Islamic Penal Law) (Abou El Fadl) ] as the law of the land, declaring all laws passed by Parliament before the revolution to be null and void. The Imam lent his authority to this measure by issuing an edict. In practice however the vote failed and by 1985 most of the laws passed under the Shah were back in force..."

    A dual legal system was tacitly accepted from 1984 onwards. Thus the same offense could be punished in two entirely different ways. A man found guilty of stealing can have his arm chopped of, by a new electrical machine which was set in operation in January 1985, in accordance with the Qissass system or if he is lucky, he may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment under laws enacted by the ancien regime." (The Spirit of Allah, p.287)


    Vocab

    hakim - in traditional Iran a jack of all trades. "a doctor of theology, a photosphere, a physician, a lawyer, a poet and if and when the opportunity arises, a governor of men." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.36)

    farangi - foreigner (farsi)

    agnabi - foreigner (arabic)

    Trickery

    Khod'ah - tricking ones' adversaries in order to benefit from them. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.163)

    taqieh - misleading everyone about one's true beliefs in a hostile environment. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.230)

    tanfih - "taking the sting out of one's potential rivals or enemies" (By for example joining their organizations and taking their money in order the make them think you are at least unopposed to their activities). (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.230)

    ketman - dissimulation (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.230)

    Religious Terms

    a'alam - "one who knows more than his peers." The most outstanding of the ulama. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.48)

    Akhbar - literally "news". `Accounts of sayings and deeds of the Imams` considered by Shi'a to be part of the essential religious scripture. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.57)

    akhund - corruption of the term agha-khandeh, (a Turkish-Persian composite noun literally meaning "named an agha", an agha being a middle-ranking military-cum-civilian official the rank at which mullahs fell when they appeared in Iran in the 16th century), Another term for mullah and also used both as a term of respect and abuse both by the secular and the religious. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.53-4)

    Cheleh - withdrawal from the world for a period of forty days" to "ponder one's life through the eyes of a detached observer. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.121)

    dars-e-kharej - literally "outside the lesson." The "highest degree of Shi'ite education. Taught by the master of the school to the leading talabeh. There are "no set syllabus" and each master chooses "both the form and the content" of these lectures. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.63)

    Habl al-mateen - "firm rope" from the phrase grasp the firm rope of faith (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.25)

    Howzeh-e-elmieh - literally "scientific sphere." A city or town with several theological schools. (Physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. are referred to as ulum-e-jadid, new sciences to distinguished from religious sciences.)(Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.56)

    Ijtihad - the task performed by a mullah. To suffer and to strive to the limit of one's abilities. (Khomeini) the investment of effort in seeking the rules and the laws of the faith from the available sources as well as through the use of reason. The exact opposite of taqleed or imitation. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.54)

    Iman - Faith, a quality one gains when someone has learned that Islam is true.

    kafsh-kan - literally one who takes off the shoes. Talabeh serving as the personal assistant of a Mujtahid teacher whose task it is to make sure that the master's shoes are always clean and ready for him. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.63)

    koffar al-harbi - literally "warlike pagans". Enemies of Islam whose blood ought to be shed by the faithful. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    maktabdar - low level mullahs who served as judges or notaries public in their villages. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.64)

    marja-e-taqleed - source of imitation. A leading mujtahid who must meet five conditions according to Ayatollah Khomeini (copying Shaikh Abdul-Karim): he must be a

  • a'alem, i.e. a master of theological sciences
  • a mujtahid, capable of ijtihad
  • 'adel, one who acts with justice
  • chaste and pious
  • not be acquisitive or domineering

  • (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.56)

    Motohawwel - a mullah in the process of gradually changing both appearance and vocation [under pressure from Reza Shah's anti-Mullah policies (circa 1930)]. Many mullahs went all the way without hesitation, even sporting gaudy bow ties. Some did so out of opportunism, but most were simply making use of the psychological defense mechanism provided by Shi'ite tradition. They went along with the time in the firm conviction that one day soon it would turn. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.90)

    mohalels. These are men who specialize in marrying divorcees for a single night. The marriage becomes necessary when a woman having been divorced three times by the same husband, is asked, once again, to return to the family fold. Islam rules that a woman who has been divorced three times by a man becomes haram (forbidden) to him. It is therefore, necessary for the woman to marry another man and divorce him before she can remarry her original husband. This complicated arrangement has led to the creation of a curious profession: that of one-night husbands. It was in Qom, and still is today, that the faithful would find all the mohalels they needed." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.51)

    mahdur addamm - one whose blood must be shed (be killed) by a good Muslim (Taheri Spirit of Allah).

    moreeds - followers

    mufsed fel-ardh - corrupter of earth. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.107)

    mullah - a corruption of the Arabic world mawla which means both `vicar` and `guardian` Used both as a term of respect (a learned man) and abuse (a bigot and fanatic) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.53)

    Nafs-e-ammarah - the devil inside (farsi?). (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    nayeb-e-Imam - "vicars of the Hidden Imam" (pl.?), complementary name for leading mullah. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    qissass - Islamic law (retribution?) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.288)

    shakk - doubt (shin-fata-kaf) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.94)

    tanfieh - judicious doing of nothing. In a world where everyone insists on being a doer those who choose to be non-doers should maintain their positions and ignore the perpetual movement that surrounds them. The doers are bound to make mistakes, undoing themselves in the end. .. All evil is done by those who do things for the sake of doing something (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.110)

    taghut - "rebel" i.e. rebel against God. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    Taqwa - piety. Quality of someone who organizes their "life in accordance with the rules of Islam." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    tasdeeq - the realization in this world of the eternal truth revealed to Muhammed by Allah in the Qur'an. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    Political Groups, etc.

    mashru'eh - theocrats. Religious opponents (Mullahs) of the Constitutional rebellion of 1906. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.42)

    mashruteh - constitutionalists. Religious supporters (Mullahs) of the Constitutional rebellion of 1906. (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.42)

    Entehari - volunteers for suicide attacks on the enemies of Islam. Often or usually foreigners who came to Iran (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.283)

    Gasht-e-Zaynab Zaynab's Patrols both "specialize in enforcing religious rules of conduct in private and public life." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.291)

    Hayat-e-motalefeh-e-eslami or the Coalescing Islamic Mission. The Mission, soon to be known in the clandestine movement only as the hayat, was to emerge as a vital link in the small but growing organization." (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.149)

    Jond-Allah Army of Allah (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)

    SAVAK (Sazman Amniyat va Ettelaat Keshvar) (Taheri, The Spirit of Allah)