Ayatollah Khomeini's
Gems of Islamism

(Excerpts from some of the legendary Ayatollah’s
books, speeches, comments [1A] )

Elmer Swenson

  1. Why should anyone care about the Ayatollah Khomeini, what he wrote or said?
  2. Kashf al-Asrar, (Key to the Secrets) (1942), Khomeini's first book.
  3. Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el, (Questions clarified) (1961), Khomeini's first book of fatwas on religious questions.
  4. Tahrir al-Vasileh, (Commentary on the Vehicle) (1965), Khomeini's second book of fatwas.
  5. Speech on "social justice" and equality by Khomeini at Qom, April 3, 1963 .
  6. Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami, (The Regency of the Theologian, Islamic Government), aka Hokumat-e-Eslami (Islamic Government) (1970), Khomeini's seminal book on Islamic government as rule by Islamic jurists.
  7. Lectures on the Supreme Jihad, (1972). ,
  8. Statement to students by Khomeini, September 28, 1977 .
  9. Assorted speeches and quotes by Khomeini after he came to power, (1979-1988).
  10. Fatwa calling for the killing of novelist Salman Rushdie by Khomeini, February 1989.
  11. Religious and Political Will of Khomeini, read after his death.
  12. What does it all mean?
  13. Bibliograpy


Why Should We Care About the Ayatollah Khomeini, What He Wrote or What He Said?

"The Imam", Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-89), is noteworthy to history for essentially one reason, his leadership of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. As mentioned elsewhere on this site,


one of the most dramatic and unexpected political events of the 20th Century was the Iranian Islamic Revolution: the overthrow of a modernizing, Westernizing Shah (monarch) of Iran, and his replacement with an anti-Western, revolutionary Islamist theocracy led by Khomeini.

For those who weren't around or weren't paying attention when it happened, the Revolution was an astonishing event, above all because

  • it lacked many the customary causes of revolution -- defeat at war (the Bolshevik Revolution), a serious financial crisis (French Revolution), peasant rebellion (Chinese Revolution), or a disgruntled military (Russian Revolution). [2A]
  • and so many average people (Iranians) were involved ("it appears to have been the most popular revolution in history" according to one scholar [3A])
  • it overthrew a regime with barrels of oil money at his disposal, protected by both a huge and feared security apparatus and a large army lavished with state-of-the-art equipment. A regime that political experts -- journalists, officials, diplomats -- would almost certainly have voted least likely of any throughout the world to be deposed; [4A]
  • the revolution progressed from strongly-worded open letters to the Shah by intellectuals calling for adherence to the constitution, (May 1977) to millions in the street and total economic paralysis from strikes (October 1978) in about a year and a half; and then in another four months (February 11 1979) to a declaration of neutrality by the military general staff (i.e. a declaration of surrender) in the face of takeovers of police armories, barracks and prisons by massive armed mobs to seize and distribute weapons. [5A]
  • it was the first modern revolution where other ideologies -- like nationalism and populism -- took a back seat to religion, in fact a back seat to theocracy, i.e. the principle of clerical rule by divine right. Islamism -- the revolution's (ultimate) ideology -- was until then unheard of, or at least considered by outsiders too antiquated and otherwise ill-equipped to inspire a revolution [6A]

    The aftershocks of the revolution were many. In a matter of one or two years, the most populous and militarily powerful state in a region home to two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves of oil, had been transformed from the "future Japan" or Germany of the Mideast, into an avowedly anti-American and culturally anti-Western state. Khomeini dubbed Iran's erstwhile ally the "Great Satan," and threw his support behind the seizure of the U.S. Embassy by a revolutionary group and the 444-day-long hostage-taking of its staff.

    At the same time that Americans -- from the foreign policy elite to the man-in-the-street -- were aghast and angered, Islamists -- both Shi’a and Sunni -- were thrilled and energized by the revolution. If Iran could be taken over, what Muslim country couldn't be?! Assassinations, bombings, kidnappings and rebellions followed the revolution in the Muslim world, including

  • a two-week-long takeover of in Mecca of Islam's holiest mosque by a messianic sect, ending only after French military assistance and the deaths of hundreds of Saudi insurgents (1979),
  • the machine gunning of the pro-American Egyptian President during a military review by some of his own soldiers (1981),
  • the deaths of 10,000 to 25,000 following an Islamist rebellion and subsequent merciless crackdown in Syrian city of Hama (1982),
  • the bombing of the American Embassy and French and American barracks in Beirut, killing hundreds of peace-keeping troops (1983).
  • 20+ years later, enthusiasm has abated both out and inside Iran. No other Muslim countries followed Iran's example and the Islamic Republic itself hasn't come close to meeting the goals of the revolution like self-sufficiency or an end to poverty.
    (see: https://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html),
    But the revolution lives on, still a powerful force to be reckoned with in Middle East politics. Though its supporters are no longer a majority they retain power, determined as ever, financing kindred Islamists in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere. [7A]

    The Ayatollah

    Khomeini's importance to the revolution is hard to overstate. He was not just the unifying figure but its architect and emotional, spiritual touchstone. The crowds that gathered for his return from exile and for his funeral ten years later were some of the largest and most emotional in Iran's history. In between these events he ruled Iran. [8A])

    A senior Shi'ite Muslim cleric (a "Grand Ayatollah"), Khomeini was from the beginning of his public life a devoted enemy of Iran's then ruler, the Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and everything the Shah stood for: secularism and Westernization. It was Khomeini's 1963 arrest that provoked the first massive demonstrations against the Shah, and Khomeini who worked to inspire and lead clerical opposition to the Shah during his 14 years in exile.

    Why This Page?

    There is no shortage of books about Khomeini and his times. What this page endeavors to do is use Khomeini's own words (albeit translated) to tell the story of his ideas, his vision, and how he dealt with frustrations to implementing them. To do it without worrying about how not to bite the visa-providing-hand of the Iranian government, and without nostalgia or awe for the original popular enthusiasm and power of the Islamic Revolution. To put emphasis on what Khomeini said that most Iranians and outside observers were either unaware of or ignored, rather than Khomeini's life or why he became the leader of the revolution. Hopefully what you read will shed light on the person some (including the American Ambassador to the United Nations), thought was "some kind of saint." [9A]

    Note on translations: All quotes by Khomeini are translated by others. Some are by supporters (Hamid Algar, the IRNA) or apologists (J. Borujerdi), others by detached academic scholars (Hamid Dabashi), unsympathetic professionals (Asghar Schirazi, the FBIS U.S. government agency), or outright professional foes of Khomeini (Iranians Amir Taheri and the members of the Homa Darabi Foundation). Surprisingly, you may find it's sometimes hard to tell the point of view of the translators without knowing it ahead of time!

    Notes on "Intro"

    [1A] Khomeini is credited with dozens of books, ( http://www.geocities.com/ahlulbayt14/khom.html lists 43 by him, and there is a 22 (16?) volume set of his letters and proclamations between 1964 and 1977 published in Sahifeh-ye Nur. (Introduction by Sayyid Ali Khamenei. 16 volumes. Tehran: Markaz-e Madarek-e Farhangi-ye Enqelab-e Islami, 1361/1982
    (info from Theology of Discontent, The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, by Hamid Dabashi, New York University Press, New York and London c1993, p.425, 581)

    But the six listed here are the ones most frequently described by his biographers and commentators. So far as I can tell, four of these six -- Resaleh, Velayat-e Faqih, Velayat-e Faqih (The Regency of the Theologian), Jehad-e Akbar and Political Will and Testament -- have been translated into English.

    [2A] Arjomand, Turban for the Crown, (1988), p.191

    [3A] Massive size of the revolution:

    it appears to have been the most popular revolution in history in the sense that at least ten percent of the Iranian population participated, compared to little more than one percent for the 1776 American, 1789 French, or 1918 Russian revolutions. ...
    Numbers from Charles Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), p. 121, quoted in "Patterns of Discontent: Will History Repeat in Iran?" by Michael Rubin and Patrick Clawson, Middle East Review of International Affairs, March 2006

    [4A] Abrahamian, Iran, 1982, p.496; Harney, Priest, 1998, p.2, 179 Marveling at the overthrow of the Shah, Abrahamian describes the regime as having seemed "as durable as the massive dams ... so firmly grounded that it was indestructible;" and Harney describes it as "invulnerable" and "seemingly invincible and well-armed"

    [5A] Abrahamian, Iran, 1982, p.502, 513, 529

    [6A] Kepel, Jihad, (2002) p.194

    [7A] Aid by the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon:

    ... Hezbollah's political rhetoric has centred on calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Its definition of Israeli occupation has also encompassed the idea that the whole of Palestine is occupied Muslim land and it has argued that Israel has no right to exist.
    The party was long supported by Iran, which provided it with arms and money.

    from: "Who are Hezbollah?" Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1908671.stm

    Palestinian groups:

    Iran has decided to increase its financial aid to some organizations that oppose peace efforts in the Middle East. Iran has allocated a special budget for the support of some Palestinian groups who lost their sources of funding when the Soviet Union and the communist bloc collapsed, and when Libya stopped providing material support to the Palestinian organizations.

    A source very close to the Revolutionary Guards said that the leader of the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad movement, Ramadhan Shalah, had visited Iran last week heading a large delegation that included the Islamic Jihad leadership, Hamas representatives, and Ahmad Jibril, leader of the PFLP - General Command, to participate in a symposium held in Tehran in support of the Intifada.

    from article 'Ali Nouri Zadeh Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 8, 2002.
    translated in "Memri Special Dispatch Series - No. 387" http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&Area=jihad&ID=SP38702

    Iraqi militia fighters:

    Britain accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday of supplying weapons to Shi'ite militia in Iraq used to attack British troops. ... a splinter group from the militia of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. ...
    The attackers "were using technically advanced equipment that had previously been used by Lebanese Hezbollah, and they are linked with Iran. ....
    Attacks in Iraq were carried out using armour-piercing explosives and infrared control mechanisms "which basically you would need specific expertise to use" and were similar to devices used by Hezbollah, the official said.
    While Iran's government has publicly denied it supports Iraqi militia, "there was some suggestion that this could be elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that were involved." ...

    from: "Britain blames Iran for Iraq attacks on UK troops" 05 Oct 2005 15:22:10 GMT

    [8A]Khomeini's return to Iran: "men and women sobbed openly, the joy mixed with disbelief ... Even conservative estimates numbered the crowd at no less than three million." (from: In the Name of God : The Khomeini Decade by Robin Wright c1989, p.37)

    [9A] "... in his first few months in power a majority of Iranian and foreign observers of the revolution were so enthusiastic about its authentic and popular basis that their judgments about Khomeini were coloured by wishful idealism. ... Clearly, both Ambassador Andrew Young, who thought of Khomeini has a kind of saint, and the State Department's Iran Country Director Henry Precht, who believed some American newspapers were misreading and exaggerating Khomeini's early writings, proved to be wrong." from: p.10 Iran Since the Revolution , by Sepehr Zabih, Johns Hopkins Press, 1982

    Kashf al-Asrar

    Khomeini's first book was Kashf al-Asrar, aka Secrets Unveiled, was published in 1942 "to little notice," while Khomeini was still a minor cleric. A short, unsigned book/pamphlet its ostensive theme was a defense of Shi'ism against theological attacks by its Islamic arch-rival the Wahhabi sect. Those who've written about Khomeini describe its actual theme as (variously): an attack on Iran's recently deposed ruler the militant anti-clerical modernizer Reza Shah, on the renegade Shi'a clergymen who had collaborated with the Shah, or on the "growing number of secular intellectuals" in Iran -- specifically a popular, influential writer by the name of Ahmad Kasravi. Kasravi was assassinated three years later by Fedayeen of Islam, an early Islamist terrorist group. According to Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, the assassins interpreted Khomeini's book as a fatwa (Islamic legal decree) calling for Kasravi's death. [1B]

    Khomeini on Killing and Conquest

    No complete English translation of the book/pamphlet has ever been published as far as I can tell, but Amir Taheri did translate a snippet of it where Khomeini explains the importance of war, violence and conquest for Muslims:

    Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.

    But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world ... Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless.

    Islam says: kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]?

    Islam say: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us?

    Islam says: kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy?

    Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors!

    There are hundreds of other ayat [Qur'anic verses] and ahadith urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim. [2B]

    Some more nuggets from Kashf al-Asrar were translated for The Little Green Book, a book of Khomeini quotes published after the 1979 Islamic Revolution as a takeoff on "The Little Red Book" of legendary Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse Tung.

    On the Danger of Music

    We affirm that music engenders immorality, lust, and licentiousness, and stifles courage, valor, and the chivalrous spirit; it is forbidden by Quranic laws and must not be taught in the schools.[3B]

    On the Danger of any Innovation in Islamic Law

    If anyone, in the guise of pursuing Islamic justice, interprets the Law in a manner contrary to the divine will, he has committed the sin of innovation. Learned men are bound to condemn him or they will themselves be condemned. [4B]

    On the Danger of "A Thousand Varieties of Corruption"

    Khomeini supporter Hamid Algar translated four pages from Kashf al-Asrar [5B]. A tour de force of fury and self-pity, it rages against just about everything --

  • the government of the Shah's father, Reza Shah -- "idiotic and treacherous ... poisonous ... heinous... a gang to plunder the country," which allowed "women's going naked in the streets" (a reference to the Shah's father's banning of the traditional hijab covering of women's faces, not actual nudity) and the practice of "lechery, treachery, music, dancing, and a thousand other varieties of corruption."
  • The International Time Zone system, with its ridiculous requirement that different cities in the same zone to use the same time -- "what nightmare is this into which we are plunged?" [6B].
  • The Iranian people were not spared a tongue lashing either --
    Wherever you go and whomever you encounter, from the street sweeper to the highest official, you will see nothing but disordered thoughts, confused ideas, contradictory opinions, self-interest, lechery, immodesty, criminality, treachery, and thousands of associated vices. [Islam and Revolution, p.171]
  • Surrounded by idiots and knaves, his wisdom unappreciated, Khomeini could only shake his head in exasperation.

    There is much to be said, much that is weighing on my mind, but where are the ears to listen to me, where is the perception to understand me? [Islam and Revolution, p.173]

    On Islamic Government (Version 1.0) -- Rule by Islamic Clerics Isn't Necessary, God's Law Is

    Although Khomeini is furious with the Shah's regime, he specifically says,

    "We do not say that government must be in the hands of the faqih [an Islamic jurist]; rather we say that government must be run in accordance with God's law ..."(p.170)

    Elsewhere he asserts that the practical

    power of the mujtaheds excludes the government and includes only simple matters such as legal rulings, religious judgments, and intervention to protect the property of minors and the weak. Even when rulers are oppressive and against the people, they [the mujtaheds] will not try to destroy the rulers. [7B]. [source: Kashf-i Asrar, (Secrets Revealed) (Tehran, n.d.) p.186]
    This statement is noteworthy because it directly contradicts the idea Khomeini is most famous for -- that not only should the faqih govern, but that their suitability for ruling is obvious to
    anyone who has come general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islam, [Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami (Islamic Government), p.27]
    and prevented from coming to pass only by
    several centuries of malicious propaganda on the part of the imperialists. [8B].

    Notes on "Kashf al-Asrar"

    [1B] In Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah (p.61), Baqer Moin says "the real target of Kasf al-Asrar was not Reza Shah but the renegade clergymen who in Khomeini's eyes had actively collaborated with" Reza Shah
    Amir Taheri says Kashf al Asrar (Key to the Secrets)" written

    to rebut criticism of Islam by a growing number of secular intellectuals. ... 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.
    except for Fedayeen. Fedayeen of Islam member Hussein Emami, assassinated Ahmad Kasravi in 1945, He was promptly arrested and sentenced to death but pardoned after Shi'a clergy applied pressure on the Shah. (Taheri, p.101)

    [2B] Qom 1986. (Originally published in Qom in 1942 and reprinted in Teheran in 1980 and 1983). Translated here by an Iranian journalist and Khomeini critic Amir Taheri, from: Holy Terror, London 1987, p.226-7.]

    [3B] Little Green Book, p.12 (The Little Green Bookcontains quotations from Khomeini's three books: Mysteries unveiled, The Guardianship of the Jurist, The Explanation of Problems. Originally published in French as Les Principles Politiques, Philosphiques, Sociaux et Religieux de L'Ayatollah Khomeiny by Editions Libres-Hallier in 1979.)

    [4B] Little Green Book, p.24

    [5B] Islam and Revolution (1981) p.169-173, under the title "A Warning to the Nation."

    [6B] Islam and Revolution, p.172
    Note: prior to the International Time Zone system, every locality had its own time with 12 noon set to match the moment in that city when the sun was at highest point in the sky. This was natural for an era when travel was relatively slow and infrequent, but would have played havoc with railway timetables and general modern long-distance communications. In the decades after 1880 governments around the world replaced local time with 24 international time zones, each covering 15 degrees of the earth's latitude (with some exceptions for political boundaries).
    That Khomeini could only understand this process as an example of foreigners’ theft of the "reason, intelligence and all other senses" of Iranian modernizers, did not bode well for country he would come to rule.

    [7B] Kashf-i Asrar, (Secrets Revealed) (Tehran, n.d.) p.186, quoted in Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, (1982), p.476.

    Full quote:

    The mujtaheds have never rejected the system of government nor the independence of Islamic governments. Even when they have judged certain laws to be against God's regulations and particular government to be bad, still they have not opposed the system of government. Nor will they. Why not? Because a decayed government is better than none at all. Consequently, the [practical] power of the mujtaheds excludes the government and includes only simple matters such as legal rulings, religious judgments, and intervention to protect the property of minors and the weak. Even when rulers are oppressive and against the people, they [the mujtaheds] will not try to destroy the rulers.

    In another of his books Ervand Abrahamian emphasises that in Kashf al-Asrar Khomeini

    explicitly disavowed wanting to overthrow the throne and repeatedly reaffirmed his allegiance to monarchies in general and to `good monarchs` in particular. He argued that the Shi'i clergy had never opposed the state as such, even when governments had issued anti-Islamic orders, for `bad order was better than no order at all.` He emphasized that no cleric had ever claimed the right to rule ... [Abrahamian, Khomeinism (1993), p.20]

    [8B] [Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami (Islamic Government), p.136]

    So how does the man who translated Khomeini saying "We do not say that government must be in the hands of the faqih [an Islamic jurist]; rather we say that government must be run in accordance with God's law ..." (p.170), explains away this clash with Velayat-e Faqih? In his "Imam Khomeini's Brief Biography" http:www.khomeini.org/GatewayToHeaven/Information/imamsbiography.htm Algar explains that in Kashf al-Asrar Khomeini "stopped short"

    of demanding the abolition of the monarchy, proposing instead that an assembly of competent mujtahids should choose `a just monarch who will not violate God's laws and will shun oppression and wrongdoing, who will not transgress against men's property, lives and honor.` Even this conditional legitimacy of monarchy was to last `only so long as a better system could not be established.` There can be no doubt that the `better system` already envisaged by Imam Khomeini in 1944 was vilayat-i faqih, which became the constitutional cornerstone of the Islamic Republic of Iran ..." [Khomeini quotes from p.186-7 of Kashf al-Asrar]

    So did Khomeini refrain from really saying what he thought of monarchy in Kashf al-Asrar until the time for frontal attack on monarchy was more propitious? This theory is also problematic. If he was worried about royal retribution it didn't stop him from making bitter attacks on Reza Shah and in any case Khomeini's name did not appear on Kashf al-Asrar which was published unsigned. Further, the monarchy in Iran was decidedly weak when Kashf al-Asrar came out (1942) than when his plan for abolishing monarchy -- Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami (The Regency of the Theologian, Islamic Government) -- was first promoted (1970). It was World War II and the Russians and British had just invaded and occupied Iran. Reza Shah had been deposing just a few months earlier and replaced him with his inexperienced young son, the young crown prince (not yet Shah) Muhammad Reza. One of the low points of Pahlavi dynasty, it was a time when premiers like Ahmed Qavam arguably held as much or more power (see: Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, pp.225-263)

    Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el

    A decade or so following Kashf, Khomeini wrote a couple of major books on religion, (or more accurately religious law), these being part of the process of moving up the clerical ladder and establishing a reputation as a grand ayatollah. [1C]. One of the publications (Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el, also Risaleh Towzih al Masa'il aka Questions Clarified), is available in English, translated by J. Borujerdi, with a foreword by Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi.[2C].

    This book is a collection of (almost 2900) questions by, and answers for, pious traditional Shi'a on how to be good Muslims. Almost all of them (80%) are about personal behavior, ritual purity, or the five pillars of Islam, (rather than public issues like business, commerce, contracts, employment, politics, etc.). [3C]

    Non-Muslim or non-traditionalist outsiders will probably find the answers (a.k.a. fatwas) vary in tone.

    But whether straightforward or weird, not one of Khomeini's answers includes an explanations of WHY a rule must be followed, or why Khomeini answered the question the way he did. The closest Khomeini ever comes to offering an explanation is this run-on sentence in question #2633 on the danger of drinking alcoholic beverages.

    Wine is the root of evils and the source of sins and whoever drinks wine loses his sanity and does not recognize God at that time and has no fear of committing any sin and has no respect for anyone and does not respect the rights of his close relatives and does not turn away from flagrant indecencies and the spirit of faith and piety exits from his body and a defective spirit of devilishness, which is distant from God's mercy, will remain in him and God and the angels and the prophets and the faithful will curse him and his prayer will not be accepted for 40 days and on the judgment day his face is black and his tongue is lolling out and his saliva is running over his chest, loudly crying of thirst.

    Finally, readers may be surprised to learn is that almost all of Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el was copied, not written by Khomeini. Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el is a sort of template, the original having been written by the revered Ayatollah Sayyid Hossein Borujerdi a decade earlier. Borujerdi's book in turn was based on a turn-of-the-century text by Sayyid Kazem Yazdi's (d.1919) `Urwat al-wuthqa ("The Handle of Trust"), making Resaleh ... a relatively newfangled work by the standards of Shi'a clerics. Khomeini was one of many mujtahid clerics who published copies of the work with slight variations on the original,[4C] though which parts are Borujerdi's original fatwas and which are Khomeini's input is not explained.

    (Note: in the citations below, the numbers refer to those found in J. Borujerdi's translation, the page numbers refer to the Little Green Book, whose translations are more readable.)

    Khomeini on Cleanliness

    More than a quarter of the questions in Resaleh (846 out of nearly 2900), talk about purity and impurity. Khomeini relates

    ... but says not a word about purifying water by boiling or adding iodine. In fact soap is only mentioned in regards to how to clean IT (soap) once IT'S been contaminated. (#164, #165)

    COMMENT: Should we care? After all these are religious definitions of cleanliness for religious rituals and duties. You want laws of religion you listen to a religious scholar. You want disease prevention or control you go to a public health worker ... right? Not quite.

  • As the translator of Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el (J. Borujerdi) says, "the man or woman in the streets of Iran knows but one universe, i.e. religious, and therefore has only one code for the subject under discussion," which, he goes on to explain, is why he translates the religious term for "ritually pure" (pak) simply as "clean" [6C]) -- to the average Iranian (at least at the time) the two were the same. Iran and other Muslim countries being very poor there were few if any public health officials, nurses or physicians running around to poor villages spreading the world about disease prevention at the time this book was written. The village mullah or sheikh was THE only local learned authority, the man to go to for any question. If he (and books used in his place) had nothing to say about hygiene, germs, infection, disease, it was a serious matter.
  • Furthermore, Khomeini himself is adamant (as we will later see) that Muslims should know "but one universe." That Islam must not be just one of the compartments of a Muslim's life, but guidance to cover everything in a (true) Muslim's life
    God, Exalted and Almighty, ... sent laws that astound us with their magnitude. He instituted laws and practices for all human affairs ... There is not a single topic in human life for which Islam has not provided instruction and established a norm.
    That some Muslims were under the impression "that Islam consists of a few ordinances concerning menstruation and parturition" was only because of the success of "foreign agents" (secular Muslims) in planting lies. [Islam and Revolution : Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, p.29-30]. How, then, could hygiene be worth worrying about, if an Islamic book on cleanliness didn't "provide instruction" on it?

  • More on Purification

    If a person crushes a mosquito on his skin and cannot determine whether the blood there from is the insect's or his own, this blood is pure; but if the time between the bite and the death of the mosquito is so short that no such distinction can be made, the blood is impure. (#206, Resaleh, p.61)

    What difference does it make? If it's the person's own blood, it's impure and the person must wash himself. If it's the mosquito's blood, there's no such need because it’s an insect and their blood is not impure.

    Khomeini on Urinating and Defecating

    Urinating and defecating are forbidden in four places: blind alleys, except with the permission of those living along them; the property of a person who has not given permission to do so; places of worship, such as certain madrasas; graves of believers, unless one does so as an insult to them. (#64, (Resaleh p.40))

    It is not necessary to wipe one's anus with three stones or three pieces of fabric: a single stone of single piece of fabric is enough. But if one wipes it with a bone, or any sacred object, such as for example, a paper having the name of God on it, one may not say his prayer while in this state. (#69, (Resaleh p.41))

    On the Impurity and Inferior Status of non-Muslims

    Writing in the book's foreword, Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi compare the status of non-Muslims to dalat or "untouchables" in India, and suggesting its grounded more in culture than theology.
    There are eleven things which are impure: urine, excrement, sperm, bones, blood, dogs, pigs, non-Moslem men and women, wine, beer, and the sweat of the excrement-eating camel. (#83 (from Resaleh p.48))
    Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure, even the hair on his hand and his body hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body. (#107 (Resaleh p.51))
    The impurity of the non-Muslims is serious enough to go into some detail about. If someone converts to Islam they "automatically" have "a pure body, and pure saliva, nasal secretions, and perspiration." All clear? Not quite. "As for converts' clothing, if it has been in contact with their sweating bodies before they became converted, it remains impure." (Resaleh #207-208)

    The Non-Muslim's impurity also prevents them from being allowed to possess a copy of the Qur'an

    One must avoid giving the Koran to an infidel; it is even recommended that it be forcibly taken away from him if he already has it in his hands. (#139 (Resaleh p.54))
    -- which clashes with another Islamic tenant -- that every effort should be made to spread Islam -- "until" as Khomeini would say, "the cry `There is no God but God` resounds over the whole world," [7C] -- by persuade non-Muslims to convert ("revert") to Islam and other means.

    Another restriction gives non-Muslims a major financial incentive to convert to Islam

    A Moslem will inherit from an infidel but an infidel will not inherit from a Moslem even though he is the deceased's father or son. (#2783)

    In current Islamic Republic of Iran where Khomeini's fatwa was made law, this is an issue of great concern to the non-Muslim minority. As Parviz Ravani, the Zoroastrian MP complained to journalist Robin Wright, [8C]

    ... if my child becomes a Muslim, then all my property will go to that child upon my death. None of my other children who didn't convert will stand to get anything. That extends even to my nephew. If he becomes a Muslim, then all my property would go to him, not my own children.`

    More Khomeini on Music

    As you might expect from someone who had condemned music for "engendering immorality, lust," etc. in his first book, Khomeini limits the use of radio and television forbidding the listening/viewing of "unlawful things such as broadcasts of songs and music" (#2889). Since these songs and music contaminate the airwaves,

    I do not permit their selling and buying except for those who do not use them unlawfully at all and do not permit their non-religious use by others, either." (#2990)

    On Marriage and the Duties of Spouses to Each Other

    (Note: "Contracted permanently" refers to a regular marriage contract as opposed to a temporary one allowed by Shi'ite religious law.)
    A woman who has been contracted permanently must not leave the house without the husband's permission and must surrender herself for any pleasure that he wants and must not prevent him from having intercourse with her without a religious excuse. And if she obeys the husband in these the provision of her food and clothing and dwelling and other appliances mentioned in books is obligatory for the husband and if he does not provide them he is indebted to the woman, whether or not he can afford them. (#2412)

    So the woman's duty is to not refuse sex with her husband (or "any pleasure that he wants") without a religious excuse (couldn't find any list of such excuses), nor leave the house without his permission. In return he must provide the wife with food, clothing, and a place to live. In addition he must not abstain from having sex with her for longer than four months. (#2418) Interestingly, "servicing the house" is not included in a wife's duties (#2414).

    On When a Woman Should Get Married

    A woman should get married shortly after she's reached puberty, or better still, just before.

    It is recommended that one hurries [sic] in giving husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh [the 6th Imam] salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man's good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house. (#2459)

    When is that? Nine years old. Khomeini reckons that if a girl has started menstruating, "she has finished the age of nine."

    A girl who does not know whether or not she has finished nine years of age, when seeing blood which does not have the sign of menses, is not menstruating. And if [the blood] has the signs of menses and she is certain of its menstrual nature she is menstruating and it becomes evident that she has finished the age of nine. (#438)

    On Fornication and Sodomy

    Considering the strict and detailed laws on just about everything else, you might assume Khomeini would be especially disapproving on sexual sins. But his fatwas on them seem oddly matter-of-fact

    During sexual intercourse, if the penis enters a woman's vagina or a man's anus, fully or only as far as the circumcision ring, both partners become impure, even if they have not reached puberty; they must consequently perform their ablutions. (#104 or #349, (Resaleh p.72))
    Why a child's fornicating makes it less in need of purification afterwards is not explained! Nor is why the sodomites wouldn't be headed off to get their lashes in punishment rather than worrying about proper cleanliness for salat prayer!
    If a person fornicates with one's paternal or maternal aunt before marrying their daughter, he can no longer marry them [i.e. marry their daughters, his cousins]. #2394
    But on the other hand if the fornication happens after the marriage to the cousin is agreed upon ....
    There is no concern in the [marriage] contract involving a person who marries his own cousin (paternal or maternal) and fornicates with their mother before having intercourse with them [his cousin]. [i.e. there's no question about being able to marry the cousin.] #2395
    The same interest in strangely legalistic tangent on fornication goes when gay sex is involved. There are restrictions on who the sodomite may marry, but nothing said about punishment. ...
    The mother and sister and daughter of a boy who performed sodomy are unlawful to the sodomite even if the doer and giver of sodomy are both minors. ... #2405
    If he [the sodomite] marries the mother or sister or daughter of a person and then practices sodomy with that person, they do not become unlawful to him. #2406

    The same restrictions apply to women from families "related" to the "boy who performed sodomy" as "as a result of suckling", (i.e. where a woman breast-fed a baby from the other family) #2482.

    Bestiality also seems to get light treatment. Fatwas warn of that sodomized animals are impure (#86), should be "taken out of the city and sold elsewhere" if a horse or mule (#2631), or burnt if a cow, sheep or camel (#2632), and that the sodomizer has to clean themselves by ritual bathing (#351). But the only punishment mentioned for the sodomite is reimbursing the animal's owner if the animal is destroyed.

    If they have intercourse with a cow and sheep and camel their [the animals] urine and dung becomes unclean and drinking their milk will also be unlawful and they [the animals] must be killed and burned without delay, and the person who had intercourse with them must pay money to the owner. Further, if he had intercourse with any beast its milk becomes unlawful. #2632.

    Was intergenerational fornication and sodomy even between close relatives so common the fatwas were necessary to sort out restrictions on the different variations? Is that why Khomeini makes no mention of punishment for fornication? Had he given up on enforcing that and just hoped the fornicators were ritually clean for their prayers?
    Or did Khomeini not talk about punishments because Islamic government was not in power and not in a position to enforce them?

    Khomeini on Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil

    Traditionally Muslims are commanded not just to preach to others, but to command them to do what is good and not do what is evil - evil being both acts universally agreed to be crimes (larceny, rape, murder, etc), and religious sins (eating pork, drinking wine, ignoring fast during the holy months of Ramadan, etc.). Khomeini's guidelines on how to deal with sinners start with giving them a warning, then "refraining from conversing" with them, then "breaking all relations with the sinner" (#2807), and work their way up to "beating the sinner" #2823, and finally "wounding and slaying" them. (#2824) Bodily harm is only "acceptable" if "permitted by a fully qualified Expert," an expert meaning an expert in Islamic law such as the Ayatollah Khomeini.

    On Slavery

    The idea that slavery no longer exists in Islam not withstanding, the book's index lists eight questions and clarifications under the heading of slavery. (The book was originally published in 1961!) One (confusing) example concerns the importance of sellers being able to deliver their goods

    ... selling a horse which has escaped is incorrect, but if an escaped slave is sold together with something deliverable, like a carpet, that deal is correct even though the slave is never found. And in the case other than a slave it is difficult. #2090

    Those concerned about any anti-Khomeini bias in the English edition, will be reassured by comments in the book's foreword. Khomeini's fatwas discriminating against non-Muslims (we are told) are part of the "defenses of Islam," which "meld easily into a defiance of colonial subjugation." Those "who in the early days of the 1978-79 Revolution sought to discredit Khomeini by citing from his Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'il minute rules having to do with how to purify oneself after bodily elimination, after sexual activity, or indeed what exactly constitutes such offenses as bestiality" (allegedly) made themselves ridiculous by "taking these debates to absurd lengths" and displaying "a complete lack of comprehension of the logic of the traditions composing the Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il." (Resaleh p.xxviii)) [9C]

    And indeed an attempt by at least one Khomeini opponent (Shoja-ud-din Shafa) to publicize Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'il fell flat, leaving Khomeini's popularity undiminished. [10C] Maybe that's the most remarkable thing about Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'il: Though it showed him preoccupied with issues more of interest to a medieval village mullah than a revolutionary leader (Khomeini wasn't a grad student when he "wrote" this book, but nearly 60), it did nothing to slow that mullah on the path leading to the take over a nation of 60 million and creation of a legend. A testament to the shrewdness of Khomeini and the haplessness of his royal opponent perhaps.

    Notes on "Resaleh Towzih al-Masa'el"

    [1C] Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p.10

    [2C] Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il, originally published in 1961, English translation published after the revolution in 1982 under the title:
    An Unabridged Translation of Resaleh Towzih al-Masael by Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, Translated by J. Borujerdi, with a Foreword by Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, Westview Press/ Boulder and London, c1984
    All page numbers referring to Resaleh in this section refer to this English translation.

    More on the point of view of the authors of the forward to the English language edition of Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il. Here is their ingeniously absurd defense of Khomeini's fatwas on the importance of subjugating non-Muslims:

    Some of these rules, such as Khomeini's invocation of the `Codes of Omar`, are what Khomeini calls matters of honor (Problem #2834); That Muslims must be politically, economically, and symbolically dominant and not subordinate to non-Muslims. Some of these rules are also defenses of Islam, and meld easily into a defiance of colonial subjugation. Anything that contributes to political, economic and commercial dominance by non-Muslims is forbidden (Problems #2829-2934), and this includes dealing with puppets of the great powers, among which Khomeini primarily mentions Israel ... the buying and selling of televisions and radios (Problems #2889-90) (Resaleh p.xxiii)
    i.e., the struggle against the unjust inequality of colonialism is furthered by making sure non-Muslims are denied equal rights.

    [3C] Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il -- Topics it dealt with:
    Of the almost 2900 fatwas only the following go outside of purification, prayer, fasting, and alms-giving:

  • 347 problems -- trade [buying and selling, prepaid deals, renting, share-cropping, tree-sharing, deputation, loans, drawing a draft, mortgage, guaranteeing]
  • 145 problems -- marriage and divorce
  • 50 problems -- enjoining good and forbidding evil (p.xxv-xxvi)

  • [4C]How Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il was not an original work: from the introduction to Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il:

    The first Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il (Explanatory treatise on questions of religion) was issued by the leading ayatollah of the 1950s, Ayatollah Sayyid Hossein Borujerdi (d 1960). It was compiled by Ali Asghar Karabaschi as a layman's abstraction from a turn of the century text, Sayyid Kazem Yazdi's (d.1919) `Urwat al-wuthqa ("The Handle of Trust"). In this form, it is thus a very new genre of book. Since the 1950s, every senior cleric with claims to being an ayatollah or marja-i taqlid, has issued a nearly identical Risaleh Towzih al-Masa'il. So identical are they, that at one point a volume was issued called Dah Hashiyeh ('Ten Commentaries`) which was the original Borujerdi test with footnotes explaining the minor difference in wording among the other Risaleh." ((Resaleh p.xvi)

    [5C] Purification of water, how much is a Kor?

    1. Kor; and that is a volume of water that fill at least a container measuring 3.5 spans in length, depth, and width, and which weighs at least 383.906 KGs. If it comes into contact with unclean substance, it remains clean unless its color, taste, or smell is changed. [http://www.ahl-ul-bait.org/english/Q&A/indexes.htm]


    The choice of certain English words for their Persian or Arabic counterparts needs justification, perhaps the most important ones being (clean) and (unclean) which were chosen for (pak) and (najes), respectively. The man or woman in the streets of Iran knows but one universe, i.e. religious, and therefore has only one code for the subject under discussion. .... The more educated ones may know of the two universes involved, i.e. religious and scientific, but use the same worlds when conducting a discourse in either universe, and are apt to employ scientific data to defend religious beliefs.

    (from: J. Borujerdi writing Translator's note, p.xxxi, A Clarification of Questions : An Unabridged Translation of Resaleh Towzih al-Masael by Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, Translated by J. Borujerdi)

    [7C] Excerpt from Speeches and Messages of Imam Khomeini on the Unity of the Muslims, p.108

    [8C] Wright, Robin. The Last Revolution c2000, p.216),

    [9C] Point of view. Resaleh p.xxviii)

    [10C] ibid. (Resaleh p.xxviii)

    Tahrir al-Vasileh

    Khomeini's other major book on religious law was Tahrir al-Vasileh, aka Tahrirolvasyleh, (Commentary on the Vehicle). The "Vehicle" it was commenting on was Vasileh tun-Nejat, (Vehicle of Salvation), by S. Abul-Hasan Isfahani. (Like Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, Tahrir al-Vasileh was based on another book.) Khomeini wrote it in Arabic "to get past Iranian censors" in 1965 while he was in exile in Bursa, Turkey.[1D]

    Longer than Resaleh, it lists 4400 questions and with roughly twice as many of them covering "socio-political issues abandoned by his contemporaries, such as holy war and `ordering the good and forbidding the evil.`" Khomeini weighs in on economic issues, declaring that "the leader of the Muslim community, ... has the right to fix prices and generally interfere in the regulation of commerce" on behalf of "the interests of Islamic society." [2D] That notwithstanding, Tahrir al-Vasileh still has only has only a little over 1000 fatawa on questions directly or indirectly to public law.[3D] Nothing like enough to develop government policy (see below).

    Curiously, though the makers of the English translation of Resaleh describe Tahrir al-Vasileh, "rather than his Resaleh Towzih al-Masael," as the book that "secured" Khomeini's "reputation in the early 1960s," [4D] Resaleh Towzih al-Masael was the book they translated.

    They did include a few fatawa from Tahrir al-Vasileh, however, in their edition of Resaleh Towzih al-Masael. These deal with adherents of religions of the Book (ahl-e zemmeh).[5D]

    Khomeini on Muslim Apostates --
    the Different Definitions of, and Punishments for

    1 - Apostasy is leaving Islam and accepting infidelity. One who turns from Islam to infidelity is called an apostate and that is of two kinds:
    A) innate-apostate, and that is a person that one of his father or mother was Moslem when his seed was being jelled, and who embraced Islam following puberty and then left Islam.
    B) National apostate, and that is a person whose father and mother were infidels when his seed was being jelled and he has expressed infidelity after puberty, and became an original infidel (kafar i aslee), then he embraced Islam and later has returned to infidelity; such as a person who originally was a Christian and became a Moslem and then returned to Christianity.

    2 - Innate-apostate's [embracing of] Islam is apparently unacceptable and, if a man, his ruling is execution and, if a woman, she is condemned to prison for life and [with] beating when praying and straitening of livelihood, but her repenting is acceptable and she will freed if she repents

    3 - A national apostate will be caused to repent and in case of refusing to repent will be executed. And it is preferable to give a 3 day reprieve and to execute him on the fourth day if he refused.

    4 - Puberty, knowledge, volition and intention are credible in ruling on apostasy.

    5 - The child of a Moslem or that of an apostate, whether national or innate, is considered Moslem before the father's apostasy, and therefore, if the child reached puberty and chose infidelity he will be asked to repent (and to return to Islam), else he will be executed.

    6 - Apostasy is proven by the witnessing of two just men and by confession.[7D]

    So to sum up:

  • an adult male who grew up Muslim and then converted to a non-Muslim religion, (an "innate-apostate”) must become a Muslim again or be executed. An adult woman who converts to a non-Muslim religion has the choice of reconverting, or being imprisoned and beaten.
  • A non-Muslim who converted to Islam and then went back to their old faith (a "National apostate”) gets the same, although they get a few days to think it over and repent.
  • Although the verbiage of Khomeini and/or his translator isn't completely clear, it appears Khomeini includes in his definition of apostates some people who NEVER professed the Islamic faith. These are people who grew up as a non-Muslim and remained so but whose father left Islam after they were born. (If a father is a Muslim, so are the children no matter how young.) Having "chosen infidelity” the offspring "will be asked to repent” and "executed” if they refuse.
    (This may explain the reasoning behind the persecution of Baha'is in Iran by fundamentalist Shi'a. Those who grew up Baha’i and are not converts are still considered apostates because Baha’ism split off from Shi'a Islam so recently.)

  • Khomeini on the Rights of Non-Muslim or Women Victims

    "Conditions of retaliation,” i.e. under what conditions may a person be killed (executed) as punishment for the killing another:

    .... (3) Equality in religion, therefore Moslem will not be retaliated for [killing an] infidel, unless a Moslem has a habit of killing infidels.[8D]

    "Mulcts and Blood Money,” a mulct being a penalty or fine, in this case for killing another person:

    .... (3) The amount of mulct which has come in the table is for a Moslem man, but the mulct of a Moslem woman will be half of these amounts, i.e. 50 camels or 500 dinars
    (4) A tributary's mulct is 8000 derhams [9D] and the mulct of their women is half of that of their men.

    So again to summarize:

  • Capital punishment for the killing of a Muslim is acceptable, but not for the killing of a non-Muslim if the murderer is a Muslim ... unless that Muslim is a serial (non-Muslim) killer.
  • the fine for the premeditated killing of a Muslim man should be 10,000 derhams, 1000 dinars, or 100 camels.
  • 8000 derhams, 800 dinars, or 80 camels for a non-Muslim man a.k.a. a "tributary," (i.e. a Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrians who "lives under the protection of Islam," i.e. under a Muslim government and pays tribute).
  • 5000 derhams, 500 dinars, etc. for killing a Muslim woman.
  • 4000 derhams, etc. for a non-Muslim woman.
  • (Note: "Equality in religion" means equality inside the different religions, not between the religions. All other things being equal, all Muslims who kill another Muslim are treated equally. Muslims who kill non-Muslims are treated equally, etc. ... Okay, it's not equality between genders inside the religion either. Khomeini must have thought that was too obvious to mention.)

    On the "Poll Tax” Charged to Non-Muslims

    Traditional Islam calls for a special tax on non-Muslims under control of Muslim, citing this aya from the Qur'an:
    Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden - such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book - until they pay the tribute [Jizyah] out of hand and have been humbled. [9:29 as translated by A.J. Arberry]
    Thus if
    the followers of the tri-religions (Jewish, Christianity and Zoroastrian) ... undertake and guarantee the conditions of tribute, to be mentioned later, their religions will be recognized and an amount of poll tax (Jizyah) will be accepted from them.[10D]

    As interpreted by Khomeini the tribute paid by non-Muslims is not necessarily a tax per individual non-Muslim, but can be a tax on pretty much anything -- people, land, income, "beasts of burden and trees and real estate, in any way he finds it expedient” -- set at any rate -- whatever the "Governor-General” decides, depending on the "expediencies of time and place and the situation at hand.”
    Other conditions of tribute may include thing like the "hosting" Muslim armies: providing food, housing, etc. (sounding quite a bit like what the American Revolutionaries complained the British forced them to do before the War of Independence!)

    1 - There is no specific amount for poll tax, thus its amount depends on the views of Governor-General (Valee) and the expediencies of time and place and the situation at hand.

    2 - Governor-General can lay this tax on per capita basis or on the lands or both. Further, he can impose the tax on beasts of burden and trees and real estate, in any way he finds it expedient.

    3 - And the tax must be received according to what came in the tributary agreement.

    4 - In addition to the poll tax other conditions, such as hosting Moslem military and others can be made, stipulating the length of time, like one day or three days. ...

    "Tributary Conditions” also include 15 non-financial regulations on non-Muslims, varying from

  • reasonable:
    (#7) "In case of committing crime they shall be subject to punishment or reproof according to Islamic law.”

  • reasonable (if paranoid):
    (#2) They must not "fight against Moslems or to help the idolators.”
    (#5) "they must not vex or annoy Moslems, such as stealing and spying.”

  • not likely to be a problem: (12) "The Tributary People cannot reside in Hejaz,” (the region of Mecca and Medina).

  • repressive enforcing of "humility” on the non-Muslims:
    (#6) "They must not establish synagogues or ring church bells.”
    (#10) "Any building erected by the Tributary People must not stand higher than those of its neighboring Moslems.”
    (#15) "Infidels, whether tributary or non-tributary, do not have the right to promote their religions and publish their books in Islamic countries, or to invite the Moslems and Moslem children to their religions ...” [11D]

  • On Dealing with Modern Society. Khomeini's Fatawa on mostahdasat or "New Occurrences"

    Another much briefer source of information on Tahrir al-Vasileh come from a critic of Khomeini and the Islamic Republic, Asghar Schirazi, in his book The Constitution of Iran.[12D]

    Khomeini attempted to update shari’ah law with legal rulings on mostahdasat or "new occurrences" in Tahrir al-Vasileh. He included a grand total of 105 fatawa for the modern world:

  • 10 on insurance,
  • 6 on foreign exchange bureaux,
  • 8 on paying indemnity,
  • 12 on banks,
  • 7 on lotteries,
  • 10 on artificial insemination,
  • 7 on autopsy and organ transplantation,
  • 10 on sex change,
  • 11 on radio, television, etc.,
  • 18 on prayer and fasting in aeroplane or at the earth's poles, and
  • 6 on outer space.

    Schirazi complains that "what is striking ... is not only the limited range of subjects ... but also the brevity of their exploration of particular questions .... most of the solutions pertaining to `new matters` lack the kind of proof which religious law requires. ... In addition, the solutions are of a noticeably negative character." Lotteries and autopsies on Muslims are forbidden. So is most radio or television, and artificial insemination by anyone other than the husband of the woman.

    When Khomeini does try to venture into "commercial law" his "new occurrences" bear no relation modern government regulations in the West that have been developed over centuries and cover thousands of pages. These fatawa aren't concerned with making sure the modern activities serve the public interest or even function properly, only that they follow traditional shari’ah. Exchange bureaux or banks are forbidden to charge interest, but nothing said about minimum reserve requirements to make sure withdrawals can be paid if there is a run on a bank. Khomeini declares it "permissible to take out an insurance policy" as long as it is "not contrary to the general principles regulating agreements in the shari'ah." Thus the insurer and policy holder must both be sane and above the age of consent, but that's about it. No other consumer protections or even regulations to guarantee the solvency of the insurer are mentioned. Not all that surprising perhaps because insurance is not "mentioned in the shari'ah," and "Islamic law is unfamiliar with insurance and has no formula for it amongst its usual contractual formulas, nor regulations to cover it."

    Perhaps the most extreme example of the rigour and seriousness that Khomeini took in extending the shari’ah into the post-medieval world are his fatawa on outer space.

    There is for example, the question of how to determine when a creature or a human being on another planet attains its majority. What does Islamic law have to offer as a solution to the question that would arise if children on another planet `develop into men within one year` [of their birth]? The answer is:
    `There is no problem with establishing that they have attained their majority if their majority is manifest through ejaculation of sperm and the appearance of public hair.`
    To the question of what the Islamic ordinances say about marriage on another planet, one answer is:
    `Marrying creatures on other planets is permitted, if they are possessed of reason and understanding. And this applies even if they have a different physical appearance.`

    Still More on Music

    Tahrir al-Vasila is a little more complete in its forbidding of music.
    Performing and listening to singing (ghena'), as well as making money from it, are forbidden. Ghena' means not only making one's voice attractive, but also includes the drawing out and varying of the voice in a way that induces merriment and which is suited to gatherings for the purpose of amusement and having fun. And it also includes musical instruments. It makes no difference whether it is used to accompany the holy word such as the Koran or prayer or as a dirge or to accompany prose or poetry. Indeed, the penance is doubled when it is used to accompany the holy word such as the Koran or prayer or as a dirge or to accompany prose or poetry. Indeed, the penance is doubled when it is used in connection with worshipping the sublime God. (p.240)

    The only exception to this general prohibition is the performance of female singers at weddings... In any case it is more advisable `if singing is avoided altogether[13D]. In another passage in the same book listening to singing and suchlike on the radio or a tape recorder is declared to be forbidden[14D].

    On Sex and Women

    Finally, there's a source of quotes from Tahrir al-Vasileh that's spread throughout the internet to anti-Islamist and anti-Islamic websites. They can be traced back to the website of the "Dr. Darabi Foundation” (a secular, anti-Khomeini non-profit named after a prominent Iranian woman physician woman of the same name who set "herself on fire in a crowded square in northern Tehran, on February 21, 1994 ... to protest the oppression of women.”) The foundation declares itself dedicated to combating "all violations of human rights focusing on defending the rights of women against religious, cultural and social abuse.”
    Many of the quotes are similar to one's above from Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, but a couple are even creepier.
    Supporters of Khomeini cast doubt on the credibility of the Dr. Darabi Foundation site, pointing out that it also quotes from something called "Tahrir-ol-Masael,” a book allegedly by Khomeini that does not appear to exist. (It's not listed in very complete database of books found in libraries called WorldCat (http://www.worldcat.org/)).
    (Perhaps it's a cross between Resaleh Towzih al-Masael and Resaleh Towzih al-Masael!)

    With that caution, here are some translations from

    A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.
    From Khomeini's book, Tahrirolvasyleh, fourth volume, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990

    (Note: This quote is found many places on the Web, often citing www.homa.org, but is no longer at www.homa.org itself as far as I can tell.)

    Khomeini's Teachings on sex with infants and animals

    Islamic Teachings on sex with infants:

    A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate. If he penetrates and the child is harmed then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however would not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl's sister.

    The complete Persian text of this saying can be found in "Ayatollah Khomeini in Tahrirolvasyleh," Fourth Edition, Darol Elm, Qom


    Notes on "Tahrir al-Wassilah"

    [1D] (ibid. Resaleh... , p.xxix)

    Amir Taheri -- no fan of Khomeini -- claims:

    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, Taheri, p.112)

    [2D] (Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah, Moin, p.137-8) The book "covered socio-political issues abandoned by his contemporaries, such as holy war and `ordering the good and forbidding the evil.` A substantial book, it raised his status as a jurist. Khomeini returned to the question of Islamic government with vigour, taking it up from where he had left off in Kashf al-Asrar. Here Khomeini states that the Imam, or the leader of the Muslim community, true to the Islamic spirit of intervention in the ordering of people's lives, has the right to fix prices and generally interfere in the regulation of commerce if he feels it is in the interests of Islamic society."

    [3D] The Constitution of Iran : politics and the state in the Islamic Republic by Asghar Schirazi, New York, I.B. Tauris, 1997, p.166-7

    Schirazi goes on to break down Tahrir al-Vasileh as follows (his categories sometimes overlap):
    The book lists 4397 questions (followed by Khomeini's solutions), which in the traditional manner are arranged in different parts and sections. The solutions are either presented in the form of answers to concrete questions relating to the ritual or material life of believers, or as methodical exercises whose purpose is to formulate possible answers to speculative questions.

  • 18.2% of the questions deal with regulations pertaining to ritual purity and prayer.
  • 16% of the (questions and) solutions "deal with questions about Islamic taxes (khoms, zakat and taxes relating to waqf foundations)." (These, combined with ritual purity and prayer, traditionally come under the heading of worship ('ebadat)).
  • "Another 14.1% are concerned with the Hudood"
  • 51 questions [About 1%] deal with defense (defa')
  • 129 [Almost 3%]with enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.
  • 44 [About 1%]with the adherents of religions of the Book (ahl-e zemmeh)
  • 105 [2.3%] with new occurrences (mostahdasat)10 on insurance, 6 on foreign exchange bureaux, 8 on paying indemnity, 12 on banks, 7 on lotteries, 10 on artificial insemination, 7 on autopsy and organ transplantation 10 on sex change 11 on radio, television, etc. 18 on prayer and fasting in aeroplane or at the earth's poles, and 6 on outer space. (p.169).
  • 25.3% (1116) questions are directly or indirectly connected with public laws. Including khoms tax, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, defense and relations with Christians and Jews. But this notion is an assertion of the "modern theory of velayat-e faqih". "Traditionally" they were NOT part of public law, such questions either came under the heading of worship (`ebadat) or were considered to be in the domain of private law, in so far as they were applied in courts convened outside the state apparatus by clerics at the request of the contending parties." A sort of mediation/conciliation operation, not command of the state. (Constitution of Iran p.166-7).

    "But even if we attributed all such questions dealt with in Tahrir al-Vasileh to the domain of public law, the solutions offered would be too primitive and meager to meet the needs of a 20th-century society. Iranian society has already developed to the point that its requirements, even in the area of private law, by far exceed the capacity of a work like the Tahrir al-Vasileh. In the arena of public law, such collections are even less able to offer solutions to 20th Century problems. We have seen how when framing its constitution, the Islamic Republic was obliged to borrow fundamental elements from non-Islamic sources, both conceptually and it terms of content. In the area of administrative, financial and employment law, the situation is no different. And the same hold true for international law and the penal code." (p.167)

    [4D] From the English language foreword to Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, p.xvi)
    see also: (Moin, p.137-8)

    [5D] 44 fatawa, or about 1% of the questions in Tahrir, are on "adherents of religions of the Book (ahl-e zemmeh" according to Asghar Schirazi, in The Constitution of Iran.

    [6D] from: Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, p.366.)

    [7D] (from: Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, p.494-496.)

    [8D] from Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, pp.508-547. Quoted in Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, p.429]

    [9D] What are dinars and derham? Traditional Islamic currency. Dinar was gold and traditionally worth ten time the silver derham. (from: Middle East, a Brief History by Bernard Lewis, p.153-4)
    What were/are they worth on international currency markets? That varies according to the countries that used them, of which Iran is not one. Its currency was/is the Rial. An example of how in touch with and concerned about reality Khomeini was?

    [9.1D] Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, pp.533-557. Quoted in Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, p.429-30

    [10D] from: Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, Quoted in Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, p.430]

    [11D] from: Tahrir al-Vasileh, volume 2, pp. 497-507; quoted in Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, p.432.)

    [12D] Quotes are all from p. 169-170 of The Constitution of Iran by Asghar Schirazi, Tauris, 1997.

    Schirazi goes on to detail the exasperation of Islamic Revolutionaries trying to implement shari’ah law as the law of the land after taking power

    Admissions of Problems with shari’ah law

    `[We have to deal with] the many questions, laws and operational regulations... that received no mention in the shari'ah [such as traffic regulations].` - Ayatollah Behesti speaking in the Assembly of Experts in 1979.

    `We find ourselves in a vacuum with regard to the questions concerning the social order and inter-personal relations.` - Ayatollah Khatami, Minister for Islamic Guidance, 1991.

    Problems with the legal code have `risen to the sky like a mountain`. - editors of Howzeh 1988e, no.25, p.30.

    `[Even the rationalist Shi'i jurists] have not developed their ability to practice legal judgments and deductions that go beyond the limits of individual acts and decisions, and the area of commands and prohibitions affecting individuals.` - Howzeh 1987/1988, no.23, p.22. (Constitution of Iran p.167-8)

    Even Ayatollah Azari Qomi, "otherwise a defender of the perfection of the shari’ah, was obliged to admit in a series of articles published by Resalat in 1989 that the shari'ah displayed many gaps which would have to be filled by adaptations to time and place. [These articles nevertheless bore the title: `The Self-sufficiency of Islamic Jurisprudence` Resalat, 21.1.89 and immediate subsequent issues]. Apparently, despite the awareness of gaps in the shari'ah it is possible to conclude that Islamic law is perfect, either by not facing the serious consequences this has, in particular with regard to the legitimacy of velayat-e faqih, or by ignoring the enormous extent of the actual gaps. (p.174)]

    [13D] The Constitution of Iran by Asghar Schirazi, p.240. Source: Tahrir al-Wassilah, vol.II p.351

    [14D] The Constitution of Iran by Asghar Schirazi, p.240. Source: Tahrir al-Wassilah, vol.IV, p.485

    Speech in Qom April 3, 1963

    Khomeini on Social Justice. Does Not Mean Equal Rights? No

    Khomeini's fatwas on the importance of inequality between different religions and genders weren't just talk, he fought for what he believed. When the Shah tried to pass legislation allowing women and non-Muslims to serve on local governments in 1962, Khomeini was at the forefront of the victorious fight to stop it. A few months later the Shah tried again with a series of reforms including women's suffrage, this time more successfully. Khomeini's supporter/translator Algar defends Khomeini's campaign explaining that broader suffrage was not "intrinsically important” since the Shah's regime was basically a dictatorship, and opposition to the electoral changes simply "provided a point of departure for more comprehensive agitation.” (Islam and Revolution p.16)

    This gobbledygook seems to be contradicted by in excerpts below where Algar's own translation of Khomeini indicates Khomeini did think preventing non-Muslims from taking government posts (he mentions only judges not local councils) was important. (note: The speech at Qom was given in honor of students killed in a fight with police March 22, 1963 at Feyziyeh School of Theology as part of the campaign against the Shah's reforms.)

    I have repeatedly pointed out that the government has evil intentions and is opposed to the ordinances of Islam. ... The Ministry of Justice has made clear its opposition to the ordinances of Islam by various measures like the abolition of the requirement that judges be Muslim and male; henceforth, Jews, Christians, and the enemies of Islam and the Muslims are to decide on affairs concerning the honor and person of the Muslims. [Islam and Revolution p.175]
    (Note that contrary to what Khomeini implies the law change he opposes would only allow non-Muslims to be elected or appointed, not require them to be.)

    The struggle against this is part of

    our aim which is none other than the great aim of Islam -- to prevent oppression, arbitrary rule, and the violation of the law; to preserve the rights of Islam and the nation; and to establish social justice. [Islam and Revolution p.176, italics added]
    This continued agitation by Khomeini on behalf of "social justice” got him expelled out of the country about a year and a half later. While in exile he wrote his most important work.

    Velayat-e Faqih, Hokumat-e-Eslami or The Regency of the Theologian, Islamic Government

    Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami, (aka The Regency of the Theologian, Islamic Government, aka Islamic Government), is "probably Khomeini's best known book,"[1vf] but it is definitely his most important, as the Islamic Republic's new system of government that replaced the Shah’s kingdom was drawn in large part from it.

    In early 1970, Khomeini shook the religious establishment with a series of 17 lectures denouncing the apolitical clergy as well as the whole institution of monarchy. ... These lectures, delivered in the main bazaar mosque in Najaf, were soon circulated in Iran under the title Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami (The jurist's guardianship: Islamic government). It became the main Khomeinism handbook.[2vf]

    This lecture series-cum-book argued that government should be run in accordance with traditional Islamic shari'ah, and for that to happen a faqih (i.e. a person "learned in the principles and ordinances of Islamic law”), must be in charge. The small book (less 150 pages), was smuggled into Iran and "widely distributed” to Khomeini supporters before the revolution.

    The translation of Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami used in this page is by Hamid Algar, an English-born scholar of Iran and the Middle East and convert to Islam, [3vf] and found on the internet at
    http://www.wandea.org.pl/khomeini-pdf/hukumat-i-islami.pdf or
    http://web.archive.org/web/20031206165617/http://www.wandea.org.pl/khomeini-pdf/hukumat-i-islami.pdf Page number for quotes from Velayat-e Faqih refer to Algar's book Islam and Revolution : Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Mizan Press, Berkeley, 1981.

    In part because the writing style and technical nature of Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami (its intended audience being Islamic students, or at least pious Shi'a) it's unlikely that many who aren't Islamists or scholars have taken the time to read it. Bland descriptions by apologists of Velayat-e Faqih: Hokumat-e Islami being about "the cultural invasion of the West, and the issue of justice”,[4vf] don’t begin to do justice to the book’s fervent hatred of "the other” and assignment of blame to them of essentially all the troubles of Muslim society, nor the chasm between what its author claimed it would achieve and what it did actually did when it was put in place in Iran.

    Khomeini on the Enemies of Islam Vs. the Clergy of Islam

    The background to Khomeini’s system of government is a struggle between two forces -- one evil, one good.

  • On the one hand are Imperialists (he doesn’t specifically define who the imperialists are but British, French, Belgium and Americans are mentioned at various times),
  • their `agents` (these include "foreigners sent by the imperialists and natives employed by them," specifically the Shah's "puppet" government), and the Jews. Their plan ...
    is to keep us backward, to keep us in our present miserable state so they can exploit our riches, our underground wealth, our lands and our human resources. They want us to remain afflicted and wretched, and our poor to be trapped in their misery ... they and their agents wish to go on living in huge palaces and enjoying lives of abominable luxury. [Islam and Revolution, p.34]
  • Facing off against the Imperialists and their agents is Islam, represented by Islamic legal scholars (the ‘Ulema) [vf5], and the Islamic government they would run. This government would:
  • On the sidelines is a third group -- “lazy ... apathetic” clerics, who instead of agitating for their rightful roll as rulers, support the monarchy or avoid politics, (Islam and Revolution, p.141) -- but that’s about as complicated as it gets.

    Are there any foreigners (i.e. non-Muslim foreigners) in the Muslim world for reasons other than exploitation of Muslims and destruction of Islam? How about Iranians not under the control of foreigners who favor foreign investment and adaptation of some foreign practices to strengthen the country? Or anyone besides foreigners and their local agents who stand in the way of Muslim strength, happiness and prosperity? Or perhaps others -- Westernized or non-Muslim Iranians -- besides clergy or pious lay Muslims who fight against foreign exploitation and imperialism?
    If there are, Khomeini doesn't consider them worth mentioning.

    On Islamic Government (Version 2.0) -- Rule by Islamic Clerics IS Necessary in Order that God's Shari'ah Law Be Followed

    This is obviously a departure from Khomeini's original line that,

    we do not say that government must be in the hands of the faqih [an Islamic jurist]; rather we say that government must be run in accordance with God's law ... [Kashf al-Asrar, aka Secrets Unveiled, Islam and Revolution, p.170]
    So you might expect Khomeini to explain how he came to his new realization, how the evil of the Shah's monarchy was too much for him, or whatever. Instead, Khomeini ignores his past statements (which admittedly few, if any, of his students, or anyone else, knew about) and starts right in asserting anyone who knows anything about Islam wants a faqih to rule.
    governance of the faqih is a subject that in itself elicits immediate assent and has little need of demonstration, for anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islam will unhesitatingly give his assent to the principle ...[Islam and Revolution, p.27]

    On What Countries Are in Need of Rule by faqih

    Well Iran, of course, but also the “ten or fifteen petty states” of the Muslim Mideast (i.e. all the Muslim states of the Middle East) created by "the imperialists after World War I” when they "divided the Ottoman State.” (Islam and Revolution, p.49)

    In order to assure the unity of the Islamic umma, in order to liberate the Islamic homeland from occupation and penetration by the imperialists and their puppet governments, it is imperative that we establish a government. ... we must overthrow the oppressive governments installed by the imperialists and bring into existence an Islamic government of justice ... [Islam and Revolution, p.49]

    (Weirdly, toward the end of the book Khomeini seems to take it all back, suggesting rule by faqih isn't “imperative" after all -- “kings and presidents” of the Muslim world won't need to step down (or be executed), they can just reform themselves:

    Give them Islam, proclaim to the world the program of Islamic government; maybe the kings and presidents of the Muslim countries will understand the truth of what we say and accept it. We would not want to take anything away from them; we will leave anyone in his place who faithfully follows Islam. [Islam and Revolution, p.138])

    Khomeini on How the Rule of the Faqih Differs from UnIslamic Government

    Monarchy (or any other secular form of rule for that matter) is no good because

  • monarchy was abolished by Islam:
    Islam proclaims monarchy and hereditary succession wrong and invalid. When Islam first appeared in Iran, the Byzantine Empire, Egypt, and the Yemen, the entire institution of monarchy was abolished. [Islam and Revolution, p.31]
  • it's slow and corrupt:
    A case that a shari'ah judge in earlier times settled in one or two days cannot be settled now in 20 years. [Islam and Revolution, p.32]
  • its bureaucratic:
    In addition, superfluous bureaucracies and the system of file-keeping and paper-shuffling that is enforce in them, all of which are totally alien to Islam [Islam and Revolution, p.58]
  • While Islamic government is

    simple, practical, and swift ... When the juridical methods of Islam were applied, the shari’ah judge in each town, assisted only by two bailiffs and with only a pen and an inkpot at this disposal, would swiftly resolve disputes among people and send them about their business. [Islam and Revolution, p.58]
  • monarchy/non-faqih rule is too harsh.
    They kill people for possessing ten grams of heroin and say, `That is the law.` [Islam and Revolution, p.33]
  • Monarchy/non-faqih rule doesn't represent the people, religious rule (in Muslims societies) does: While you might think elections, secret ballots, and free campaigns would be the way to make government representative,
    in a republic or a constitutional monarchy, most of those claiming to be representatives of the majority of the people will approve anything they wish as law and then impose it on the entire population. ... In contrast ... the body of Islamic laws that exist in the Qur'an and the Sunna has been accepted by the Muslims and recognized by them as worthy of obedience,
    and thus “truly belong to the people.” [Islam and Revolution, p.56]

  • Monarchy/non-faqih rule doesn't help the poor:
    The imperialists have also imposed on us an unjust economic order, and thereby divided our people into two groups: oppressors and oppressed. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are hungry and deprived of all form of health care and education [Islam and Revolution, p.49]
  • Its extravagance leads to debt, which leads to subservience to foreigners:
    If it were not for [the] profligate royal ceremonies, this reckless spending, this constant embezzlement, there would never be any deficit in the national budget forcing us to bow in submission before America and Britain and request aid or a loan from them. [Islam and Revolution, p.58]
  • In contrast “the Commander of the Faithful” (Caliph Ali who ruled for five years from 656-661 before his assassination)

    according to tradition ... lived more frugally than the most impoverished of our students. [Islam and Revolution, p.57]
  • And non-faqih government serves foreign exploiters in other ways:
    Huge amounts of capital are being swallowed up; our public funds are being embezzled; our oil is being plundered; and our country is being turned into a market for expensive, unnecessary goods by the representatives of foreign companies ... [Islam and Revolution, p.115]

    Islamic faqih government's frugality and disinterest in kafir ways will prevent all that. In addition, Islamic government will be militarily strong -- something be know because the Qur’an says:

    Prepare against them whatever force you can muster and horses tethered (Qur'an, 8:60), which enjoins the preparation of as much armed defensive force as possible and orders the Muslims to be always on the alert and at the ready, even in time of peace. ...[Islam and Revolution, p.46]
    Zionist Israel would never come into existence
    if the Muslims had acted in accordance with this command. [Islam and Revolution, p.46]
  • For the agents of imperialism
    `Politics is all dirt, lying and viciousness.`

    But Islamic Government rule will be not only pure and good, but almost effortless:

    The entire system of government and administration, together with necessary laws, lies ready for you. If the administration of the country calls for taxes, Islam has made the necessary provision; and if laws are needed, Islam has established them all. There is no need for you, after establishing a government, to sit down and draw up laws, or, like rulers who worship foreigners and are infatuated with the west, run after others to borrow their laws. Everything is ready and waiting. All that remains is to draw up ministerial programs, and that can be accomplished with the help and cooperation of consultants and advisers who are experts in different fields, gathered together in a consultative assembly. [Islam and Revolution, p.137-8]
  • COMMENT: How do we know all this? Were there Islamic governments that were militarily strong, balanced their budgets, eliminated poverty, had strong health care and education, no bureacracy, etc.? Sort of. Khomeini goes into no detail, but the "governments" he cites as Islamic are those of the Prophet Muhammad (who ruled Medina for 10 years and Mecca for two), and the Imam Ali (who was Caliph of Islam for five years a quarter century later). [5.1vf] Both of these polities existed 1400 years ago.

    We know they were militarily successful because the Islamic Empire expanded during their time. We are told they were just, upright, and had little poverty by oral reports (ahadith). But non-Muslim complain these were from insiders, friends of the regime not from travelers or other outsiders and are not known to be immune from manipulation. And while Muslims who don't doubt these rulers' virtue, some wonder if the early Muslim era of Islam can really be called a political and economic "system", and if so, whether it can be duplicated today by returning to strict sharia. As for its superior 7th Century "health care and education," or there being an "entire system of government" in shari'ah law lying "ready for you," ... there doesn't seem to be much evidence for it.

    On Proof that Islam Calls for Rule by faqih, or “Rule By Jurisprudent”

    While it's all very nice to explain how governance by the faqih would be functionally better than that of kings and presidents, what is crucial is to prove this system is called for by the shari'ah -- i.e. by the ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad and Shi'ite Imams (i.e. transmitted narratives of what the Prophet and Imams did and said) that shari'ah is built upon. After all, the point of having a faqih in charge is to enforce shari'ah law, so rule of the faqih must be shari'ah consistent.

    So although Khomeini starts by claiming the rightness of rule by the faqih is obvious to any informed Muslim
    ("elicits immediate assent and has little need of demonstration"),
    he generously takes 40 pages or so to “prove” its religious legality in somewhat the same way a secular lawyer would use legal precedents to argue some action was legal. It's a radical and refreshing change from the xenophobic soapbox demagoguery of the rest of the book, but that doesn't mean it's persuasive!

    Some of Khomeini's argument:

    1. `The seat [of judge] you are occupying is filled by someone who is a prophet, the legatee of a prophet, or else a sinful wretch.` (Hadith of Ali ibn Abi Talib, first of the twelve Shi'a Imams) [Islam and Revolution, p.81]

      Khomeini ingeniously reasons that since fuqaha traditionally fill the roll as judges, being
      “by definition learned in matters pertaining to the function of judge” (Islam and Revolution, p.84),
      and since they are not sinful wretches or prophets, by process of elimination they must be “legatees of the prophet" --
      “we deduce from the tradition quoted above that the fuqaha are the legatees."
      What do these “legatees” inherit from the prophet? Why they inherit the prophet's role as ruler! (Or so Khomeini goes on to "prove" in similar tendentious style.)

    2. `Refrain from judging, because judging is reserved for an imam who is knowledgeable of the law and legal procedure and who behaves justly toward all the Muslims; it is reserved for a prophet or the legatee of a prophet.` (Hadith of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, the 6th Imam) (Islam and Revolution, p.83)

      Again, the hadith says only imams can judge, and trained jurists (fuqaha) are traditionally judges in the Muslim community ... therefore fuqaha judges must be imams. Who are imams? Khomeini goes on to "prove” imams refers not to the twelve Imams of early Twelver Shia Islam, but to "leaders” and "guides” of Muslims in not only a spiritual but also a political sense.

    3. `In case of newly occurring social circumstances you should turn for guidance to those who relate our traditions, for they are my proof to you, as I am God's proof.` (Hadith of the 12th Imam) (Islam and Revolution, p.84)

      Fuqaha all study thoroughly the Islamic "traditions," aka ahadith.

    4. When two Shi'a Muslim have a dispute, they must `seek out one of you who narrates our traditions, who is versed in what is permissible and what is forbidden, who is well acquainted with our laws and ordinances, and accept him as judge and arbiter ...` (from the maqbula of Umar ibn Hanzala) (Islam and Revolution, p.93)`

    5. Those with `rule and authority` over Muslims `should not be ignorant and unaware of the law.` (Hadith by Ali) (Islam and Revolution, p.67)

      Fuqaha all study Islamic law thoroughly.

    6. `Those that come after me` [the prophet Muhammad speaking] will be ones who `transmit my traditions and practice, and teach them to the people after me.` (Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad) (Islam and Revolution, p.68)

      Fuqaha all know and transmit the traditions and practice of the Prophet. Careful study of the Sunna reveals "those that come after" the Prophet will have the same power as the Prophet, i.e. will be rulers also.

    7. `The fuqaha [plural of faqih] are the trustees of the prophets, as long as they do not concern themselves with the illicit desires, pleasures, and wealth of this world.` The Prophet was then asked: `O Messenger of God! How may we know if they do so concern themselves?` He replied: `By seeing whether they follow the ruling power. If they do that, fear for your religion and shun them.` (Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad)(Islam and Revolution, p.76)

    8. (6th Imam) Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's hadith: `The scholars are the heirs of the prophets, for although the prophets bequeathed not a single dinar or dirham, they bequeathed their saying and traditions. Whoever, then, acquires a portion of their traditions has indeed acquired a generous portion of their legacy.`

    COMMENT: Obvious questions come up: If God ordained the fuqaha to rule, why didn't he just say so in the Qur'an, or have his last prophet or one of the imams say so in a ahadith? (It's not like who should rule is a minor point of Divine Law!) And what about the hadith quoted by Khomeini (#7 in the list above), where the Prophet tells Muslims fuqaha should not `follow the ruling power,` and `If they do that, fear for your religion and shun them`? Doesn't this suggest

    1. fuqaha and "the ruling power" are not the same, and
    2. fuqaha should be STAYING AWAY from the "ruling power," not becoming it!?

    Such questions (and many others) seemed to trouble Khomeini's peers as well. Even after the revolution was underway and Khomeini's enormous popularity and power had become manifest, only one of the other dozen grand ayatollahs accepted his thesis. [6vf]

    The senior most Ayatollah, Abol-Qassem Mussavi-Kho'i (also transliterated Abu al-Qasim al-Khu'i), who "had a massive following, not only in Iraq and Lebanon, but also in Iran itself," opposed Khomeini "to his death" on the grounds that

  • The authority of faqih - is limited to the guardianship of widows and orphans - could not be extended by human beings to the political sphere.
  • In the absence of the Hidden Imam (the 12th and last Shi'a Imam), the authority of jurisprudents was not the preserve of one or a few fuqaha.
  • [7vf]

    According to Iranian historian Ervand Abrahamian, this is in keeping with centuries of Shi'a scholarship were most Islamic jurists (fuqaha) believed

    the term velayat-e faqih meant no more than the legal guardianship of the senior clerics over those deemed incapable of looking after their own interests - minors, widows, and the insane.

    Unlike their Sunni counterparts, Shi'i clergy did not have a "consistent theory of the state," and following the occultation of the Hidden Imam tended to followed one of three approaches to governance:

    1. "true believers should shun the authorities like the plague."
    2. "others, however, argued that one should grudgingly accept the state. `If the ruler is bad, ask God to reform him; but if he is good, ask God to prolong his life` - Imam Jafar Sadeq
    3. "Others wholeheartedly accepted the state - especially after 1501, when the Safavids established a Shi'i dynasty in Iran."

    "It is significant that in all these discussions, which lasted on and off for some eleven centuries, no Shi'i writer ever explicitly contended that monarchies per se were illegitimate or that the senior clergy had the authority to control the state. (italics added) Most viewed the clergy's main responsibilities, which they referred to as the velayat-e faqih (jurist's guardianship), as being predominantly apolitical. They were

  • to study the law based on the Koran, the Prophet's traditions, and the teachings of the Twelve Imams. They were also
  • to use reason
  • to update these laws;
  • issue pronouncements on new problems;
  • adjudicate in legal disputes; and
  • distribute the khoms contributions to worthy widows, orphans, seminary students, and indigent male descendants of the Prophet.
  • [7.1vf] Abrahamian, Khomeinism, (1993), p.19

    Khomeini on Why This Rule by Faqih Is Not Found in the Muslim World

    Explanations of why fuqaha were not in power might seem a peripheral subject compared to why Islam requires that they should be in power - at least for an Islamic scholar lecturing Islamic students. But it was this issue, and not the second, that Khomeini dwelled on in the next decade leading up to the revolution. What did he claim and how well did it corresponded to reality?

    Khomeini on the Enemies of Islamic Government:
    (1) Foreign Imperialists

    Why was the Muslim world not clamoring for his so-obviously-correct form of governance?
    Imperialist propaganda.

    European Imperialists ...

    have known the power of Islam themselves for it once ruled part of Europe, and they know that true Islam is opposed to their activities. They have also realized they cannot make the true religious scholars submit to their influence, nor can they affect their thinking. From the very outset, therefore, they have sought to remove this obstacle from their path by disparaging Islam and besmirching the religious leaders. They have resorted to malicious propaganda so that today, we imagine that Islam simply consists of a handful of legal topics. They have also tried to destroy the reputation of the fuqaha and the `ulama, who stand at the head of Islamic society, by slanderous accusations and other means. [Islam and Revolution, p.140]
    ... who've created the idea (mentioned earlier) that shari’ah law is incomplete ...
    God, Exalted and Almighty, by means of the Most Noble Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him), sent laws that astound us with their magnitude. He instituted laws and practices for all human affairs . . . There is not a single topic in human life for which Islam has not provided instruction and established a norm. [But] in order to make the Muslims, especially the intellectuals and the younger generation, deviate from the path of Islam, foreign agents have constantly insinuated that Islam has nothing to offer, that Islam consists of a few ordinances concerning menstruation and parturition . . .[p.29-30]
    Things are so bad the imperialists have penetrated Islamic "institutions of religious learning" where
    if someone wishes to speak about Islamic government and the establishment of the Islamic government, he must observe the principles of taqiya [dissimulation of the truth] and count upon the opposition of those who have sold themselves to imperialism. [Islam and Revolution, p.34]

    Khomeini on Why Foreigners Want to Undermine Islam:
    (A) To Steal Its Wealth

    This is just the beginning of the evil doings of foreigners. They want to undermine Islam because it stands in the way of their greed ...

    Once when I was in Hamadan, a former student of the religious sciences, a man who had forsaken the religious garb but who preserved his Islamic ethics, came to see me and showed me a map on which certain places had been marked in red. He told me that those red symbols indicated all the mineral resources existing in Iran that had been located by foreign experts.

    Foreign experts have studied our country and have discovered all our mineral reserves -- gold, copper, petroleum, and so on. They have also made an assessment of our people’s intelligence and come to the conclusion that the only barrier blocking their way are Islam and the religious leadership. [Islam and Revolution, p.139-40]

    COMMENT: Why wouldn't it be natural for foreigners make maps of oil deposits in Iran if they, and not Iranians, had the geological knowledge to find petroleum and the pumping and piping technology to extract, refine and transport it?

    Khomeini on Why Foreigners Want to Undermine Islam:
    (B) To Promote Vice Among Muslims

    ... but also because Islam impedes their plan to promote vice. In fact the real reason foreigners think Islam is defective is that
    Islam has laid down no laws for the practice of usury, for banking on the basis of usury, for the consumption of alcohol, or for the cultivation of sexual vice, having radically prohibited all of these. The ruling cliques, therefore, which are the puppets of imperialism and wish to promote these vices in the Islamic world will naturally regard Islam as defective. The must import the appropriate laws from Britain, France, Belgium and more recently America. [Islam and Revolution, p.31-2]

    These enemies of Islam are everywhere. Their target is the vulnerable young

    The agents of imperialism are busy in every corner of the Islamic world drawing our youth away from us with their evil propaganda. [Islam and Revolution, p.127] ....

    Come to the aid of Islam; save Islam! They are destroying Islam! Invoking the laws of Islam and the name of the Most Noble Messenger (upon whom be peace and blessing), they are destroying Islam! Agents – both foreigners sent by the imperialists and natives employed by them – have spread out into every village and region of Iran and are leading out children and young people astray ... [Islam and Revolution, p.128]

    Sexual vice has now reached such proportions that it is destroying entire generations, corrupting our youth, and causing them to neglect all forms of work. [Islam and Revolution, p.33-4]

    Khomeini doesn't spend much time on the issue of non-Muslims, as opposed to Imperialists. But he makes it clear they need to be kept in line. There's a brief mention of the need to destroy

    centers of evil propaganda run by the churches, the Zionists, and the Baha’is in order to lead our people astray and make them abandon the ordinances and teaching of Islam ... [Islam and Revolution, p.128]

    Khomeini on the 300-Year-Long Plan by to Foreigners to Undermine Islam

    Their attack on Islam did not arise as some ad hoc tactic in pursuit of imperial power or profit, but is an elaborate, long-term plan (or plans) of centuries -- three centuries in fact.

    The British imperialists penetrated the countries of the East more than 300 years ago. Being knowledgeable about all aspects of these countries, they drew up elaborate plans for assuming control of them. Then came the new imperialists, the Americans and others. They allied themselves with the British and took part in the execution of their plans. ... [italics added] [Islam and Revolution, p.139]

    Khomeini mentions this 300-year-long attack on Islam not once, but four times (p.27-28, p.34, p.38).

    One of the few examples he gives of foreign iniquity in Iran is the 1905 Constitution, were Iranian revolutionaries used the new-fangled system of constitutional monarch and elected parliament in an attempt to reign in their weak, not-very patriotic monarch and prevent the encroachment of their much larger expansionist neighbor Czarist Russia.

    It is sometimes insinuated that the injunctions of Islam are defective, and said that the laws of judicial procedure, for example, are not all that they should be. In keeping with this insinuation and propaganda, agents of Britain were instructed by their masters to take advantage of the idea of constitutionalism in order to deceive the people and conceal the true nature of their political crimes ... At the beginning of the constitutional movement, when people wanted to write laws and draw up a constitution, a copy of the Belgian legal code was borrowed from the Belgian embassy and a handful of individuals (whose names I do not wish to mention here) used it as the basis for the constitution they then wrote, supplementing its deficiencies with borrowings from the French and British legal codes. [Islam and Revolution, p.30-1]

    Not mentioned, probably because he felt he didn't have to, was the CIA-engineered coup of 1953 that returned the Shah to power, overthrowing nationalist Prime Minister Mossedegh. And the "capitulation" controversy of 1964, whereby the Shah gave U.S. military personnel diplomatic immunity, which deprived Iranian courts of the right to hear any complaints against them.

    Khomeini on the Need to Destroy Centers of non-Muslim Propaganda

    The plan starts with the opening of one Christian or foreign-sponsored school in Islamic territory. Negligent ‘Ulema ...

    failed to prevent it from being established so that now, as you can observe, these schools have multiplied, and their missionaries have gone out into the provinces and villages, turning our children into Christians or unbelievers.[Islam and Revolution, p.34]
    To reverse the plan these non-Muslim religious centers must be destroyed
    In our own city of Tehran now there are centers of evil propaganda run by the churches, the Zionists, and the Baha’is in order to lead our people astray and make them abandon the ordinances and teaching of Islam. Do we not have a duty to destroy these centers that are damaging to Islam? Is it enough for us simply to possess Najaf? [Islam and Revolution, p.128]

    COMMENT and FACT CHECK: Khomeini, Imperialism and Iranian History
  • How does Khomeini know there was a 300-year-long imperialist conspiracy against Islam? What year did it start? What did the conspirators try to do? Who did the conspiring?

    Khomeini gives no details, but editor Algar does find an excerpt from a "secret report" in 1916 quoting T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) calling for a `breakup of the Islamic bloc` saying `the Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities incapable of political cohesion.` (from Islam and Revolution, p.154)
    That an expanding empire would have plans to divide and conquer weaker states -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- doesn't seem to rise to the level a 300-year-long conspiracy against Islam. Nor is it clear that Persia, -- a Shia state and traditional rival of the Sunni Ottoman Empire -- was part of the `Islamic Bloc` Lawrence talked about, but this is about as close as Algar comes to backing up Khomeini's claim.

  • Did imperialists and their agents keep Muslims in a `wretched state` and preventing Divine/Clerical Rule in the Muslim world?

    How could they have? Even if there was a 300-year-long imperialist plot against Islamic government, that still leaves roughly 1100 years between the end of the last divine government (Imam/Caliph Ali's 5-year reign) and the beginning of the (alleged) British imperialist conspiracy. Why were there no ruling jurists in Islam during that time? Could there be some other reason than foreign conspiracy for the lack of ruling jurists?

  • What about the 300 years, then?

    Khomeini doesn't have much to say about the first 200 years of conspiracy, but does give as an example of foreign iniquity the writing of Iran's 1905 Constitution, quoted above. He doesn't attack the constitution per se, blaming imperialist agents who took "advantage of the idea of constitutionalism" to insert Belgium, French and British legal codes.

    But what choice did the proponents of "the idea of constitution" have? If you are moving to whole new theory of government, wouldn't it make sense to borrow from a country that's been using that system for a while, at least until you get the hang of it? Government are a rather complicated and important business and the new system was a European one, with Europe being the only place constitutions were found at that time, .

  • Did imperialists deceive Iranians into thinking kings should rule and clerics should stay out of power?

    One of the more notable and successful interventions by the 'ulama (clerics) and bazaari supporters into Iranian politics in the last century was on behalf of, not against, monarchy. In 1924 clerics roused a mass march from the bazaar to parliament under the slogan `We are the people of the Koran, we don't want a republic,` and pressured strong-man Reza Khan into not replacing Iran's monarchy with a republic. [11.1vf]

  • Were foreign constitutions were unnecessary because, as Khomeini maintained, "there is not a single topic in human life for which" traditional Islamic fiqh "has not provided instruction and established a norm"?

    That turned out not to be the case in the Islamic Republic were Khomeini himself overruled shari’ah law.
    see: https://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html#Laws_in_Islam )
    In fact Khomeini's attempts earlier to update Shari’ah law (see earlier section "On Dealing with Modern Society" in "Tahrir al-Vasileh") should have warned others, including himself, of the problem.

  • Didn't constitutionalists side with Imperialist Britain?

    Yes, or perhaps the British sided with the constitutionalists. But Britain was a great power (with a constitutional monarch) Iran had used to play off against its huge and expanding neighbor Russia (which had an autocratic monarch). Iran had lost Georgia, Armenia, and their Caspian navy, to Russia less than 100 years earlier [11.2vf] and was now in revolt against further encroachment of Russia in league with a weak, less-than-terribly-patriotic monarch, Shah Muzaffar ed-Din. This Shah had borrowed 22 million rubles from Russia to finance a royal tour of Europe, and the terms of the loan "included a restriction on Iran’s right to borrow money elsewhere without Russian consent while any portion of the loan remained unpaid." In 1905 Russia commenced collecting back its loan from Iran’s tariff revenue presided over by another foreigner (a Belgium director of customs). The country rose. Protesters filled the streets. Merchants closed the bazaar. The Shah capitulated. [12vf]
    Britain was intensely unpopular in Iran, especially later on, occupying large hunks of territory along with Russia, (from 1911-1919 and 1941-1947) and making stingy oil royalties payments on Anglo-Iranian Oil Company oil wells, but Iranian revolutionaries wanted to copy its self-government not its foreign policy.

  • If Khomeini-style rule of the jurist is not to be found in Iran's history before the revolution, what about brave jurists who opposed attempts by foreign agents and monarchs to destroy Islam, but whose reputations were destroyed "by slanderous accusations and other means"?

    The Khomeinist hero of the era, now honored on Iranian postage stamps, was cleric Sheikh Fazlollah Nuri. Nuri opposed the European-contaminated 1905 Constitution as un-Islamic, and his "reputation" was bad enough that he was hanged by Constitution supporters in 1909. But like the 'Ulama in the time of Reza Shah Nuri had nothing to say about any Islamic Republic or vilayat-i faqih as government. Rather than opposing monarchy, he maintained that "obedience to the monarchy was a divine obligation incumbent on all, including the clergy." And rather than being against all foreign manipulation of Iran, he took money from the Russians and spurned protest against their power.[13vf]

  • Weren't the Pahlavi Shahs "foreign agents"?

    Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi was famous for fleeing the country in 1953 and coming back only after the CIA had overthrown the more nationalistic prime minister Mossadegh. Khomeini was not the only one who saw him as a puppet. But what about his father Reza Shah was rather different. For all his faults and abuse of power, he ended the Russian occupation of Iran's north, eliminated foreign officers in the army, built a modern army and defeating rebellious local tribesmen to unite the country. He built a trans-Iranian rail system and did it using only Europeans with no historical interest in Iran (no British or Russians).

    And for that matter why wouldn't Iranian we interested in importing some foreign ways? Railways were a foreign idea and at the time of the first constitutional movement "transportation between cities was via caravans of camels or other pack animals traveling by dirt tracks at the mercy of local tribesmen," there being no highway patrol or other national police to protect them. [14vf] So was the study of foreign languages in University, and medical dissection of human bodies in medical school, both activities Reza Shah introduced despite the fact the clergy declared them forbidden by Islam. [15vf]

  • What about the danger to Islam of non-Muslims in Iran?

    Khomeini talks about the need to destroy alleged propaganda centers of Christians, Jews, Baha’is etc. Were non-Muslims above their station, benefiting from the imperialism of their co-religious, enriching themselves and dominating the economy? Well certainly not at the time of constitutional revolution. For example 47 of the 53 wealthiest Iranians at the beginning of the century were Muslims. [16vf]

  • Aside from imperialist propaganda "besmirching the religious leaders," what could have given Iranians or other Muslims the idea that foreign ways had something to offer Muslims? Or that Khomeini and the 'ulama might not be the ones best suited to run the government?

    Well there's Khomeini's attitude towards the modern world. His insistence that the international time zone system is a "nightmare" (see "On the Danger of `A Thousand Varieties of Corruption`" and Islam and Revolution, p.172), that women descended from the prophet (p) reach menopause 10 years later than women who are not, his obliviousness to hygiene (see Resaleh Towzih al Masael, Khomeini on Cleanliness, etc. above), etc.
    But he wasn't the only mullah with a powerful aversion to the science and technology of foreigner kuffar. In the late nineteenth century 'ulama helped urge on the destruction of two different railways under construction in Tehran and Enzeli, and later on in the city of Mashhad the local 'ulama "incited a religious mob to burn down" a new electrical factory on the grounds that the factory was a `heretical innovation.` [17vf]

    Perhaps it's not so surprising that the 'ulama, purveyors of learning and the men Muslims sought out for answers for hundreds of years, should resist a new system of knowledge. A system that while often not a direct competitor was still a different place for someone with a question to go.

  • Did foreign influence bring wretchedness and misery to Iran?

    Again Khomeini gives no specifics. It's true there was corruption and waste under the rule of that "foreign agent" Shah Pahlavi (although the fact that matters haven't improved under the Islamic Republic would seem to indicated the problem was not the Shah's regime and its Western friendly policies https://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promsies_kept.html ), on the other hand the waste as well as productive investment was made possible by revenue from Western discovered, drilled, refined and transported oil. (For example, even in the decade before the Arab oil embargo raised prices Iran's revenue from oil came to $13 billion. [18vf]) Iranians would say the revenue should have been still higher but that there was any revenue at all was the work of foreigners.

  • More Enemies of Islamic Government:
    (2) The Jews, Who've Attacked Islam Continuously Throughout Its History

    Although you might think the outsider status of Jews in Iran (they were victims of massacres and discriminatory laws in the past several centuries) and their small numbers (at the time of the revolution there were about 80,000 Jews in Iran, about 0.22% of the population) [19vf] would make them non-players in this titanic struggle, you would be (according to Khomeini) very wrong.

    From the very beginning, the historical movement of Islam has had to contend with the Jews, for it was they who first established anti-Islamic propaganda and engaged in various stratagems, and as you can see, this activity continues down to the present. Later they were joined by other groups, who were in certain respects more satanic then they. These new groups began their imperialist penetration of the Muslim countries about three hundred years ago, and they regarded it as necessary to work for the extirpation of Islam in order to attain their ultimate goals. ... the imperialists ... felt that the major obstacle in the path of their materialistic ambitions and the chief threat to their political power was nothing but Islam and its ordinances. [Islam and Revolution, p.27-8]

    Khomeini on How the Jews Published and Distributed Falsified Qur'ans

    The evil work of the Jews includes the publishing of distorted editions of the Koran with verses critical of Jews removed, as well as plans to “dominate the entire world.” Propagation and instruction

    ... is particularly important under the present circumstances, for the imperialists, the oppressive and treacherous rulers, the Jews, Christians, and materialists are all attempting to distort the truths of Islam and lead the Muslims astray. ... We see today that the Jews (may God curse them) have meddled with the text of the Qur'an and have made certain changes in the Qur'ans they have had printed in the occupied territories. [Islam and Revolution, p.127]

    COMMENT: It seems a little odd that for a crime of such outrageousness Khomeini provides no details -- who found the tampered copies of the Qur'an, where they and when they found them, what passages were removed or altered, where the books are now. Translator/annotator/supporter Hamid Algar who has been helpfully providing footnotes with explanatory and supporting evidence throughout, has no such details either. He does explain that Khomeini is talking about a rumour that after the Six Day War copies of the Qur'an were circulating in the territories seized by the Zionists, as well as in African countries, from which all verses critical of the Jews had been excised. But as to the facts as opposed to the rumour, Algar is silent.
    Bear in mind that issuing copies of the Qur’an with anti-Jewish passages removed would not only be highly blasphemous but highly unlikely to succeed. Even in poor parts of the Muslim world complete copies of the Qur'an are everywhere, as are (to a lesser extent) Muslims who've memorized the Qur'an (known as hafiz or hafith) and could easily smoke out fraudulent Qur'ans.
    ... all of which leads to the distinct impression that Khomeini purpose was to keep the anti-Zionist rage pot boiling by repeating rumours no matter how improbable.

    On the Jews (alleged) plan for world domination

    ... It is our duty to prevent this treacherous interference with the text of the Qur'an. We must protest and make the people aware that the Jews and their foreign backers are opposed to the very foundations of Islam and wish to establish Jewish domination throughout the world. Since they are a cunning and resourceful group of people, I fear that - God forbid! - they may one day achieve their goal, and that the apathy shown by some of us may allow a Jew to rule over us one day. [italics added] [Islam and Revolution, p.127]

    More Enemies of Islamic Government:
    (3) "Negligent, Lazy, Idle" Clerics Who Don't Agree With Him

    The last group of enemies of Islam are the "negligent, lazy idle and apathetic people" (clerics) who have removed themselves from worldly concerns of politics, having "fallen under" the "influence" of the "propaganda institutions of imperialism." (Islam and Revolution, p.141) Some of them even having "sold themselves to imperialism." (Islam and Revolution, p.34) as mentioned earlier.

    These "akhunds" are actually "pseudo-saints." Their ideas are "foolish," "block the progress of the Islamic movement," (Islam and Revolution, p.141) and "will destroy" the "standing in society" of clerical students. Khomeini threatens that if they

    "do not wake up and begin to assume their responsibilities after repeated admonition and advice, it will be obvious that the cause of their failure is not ignorance, but something else ... we will adopt a different attitude toward them." [Islam and Revolution, p.143]

    As for clerics who are working for the Shah's government, they get less friendly comments,

    our youths must strip them of their turbans ... I am not saying they should be killed; they do not deserve to be killed. But take off their turbans! ... They do not need to be beaten much, just take off their turbans and do not permit them to appear in public wearing turbans. [Islam and Revolution, p.145]

    The main target of Khomeini's venom was thought to be Grand Ayatollah Abol-Qassem Mussavi-Kho'i, [20vf] the senior Shia cleric mentioned above with the massive following and strong opposition to Khomeini's thesis (likely this was no coincidence!).

    COMMENT: It has to be pointed out that Mussavi-Kho'i had good reason to eschew politics besides laziness, idleness, and selling out to imperialism. He lived in the holy Shiite city of Najaf under the dominion of Saddam Hussein (Khomeini lived their also, but as an exile not particularly interested in the Iraqi situation. For example, his Velayat-e Faqih lectures were given in Persian, preventing both Iraqi government spies and most local Arab Shi'a from understanding him.) President Saddam was not only

    1. ideologically committed as a secular Arab Ba'athist nationalist to making sure clerics were kept in their place, and
    2. a dictator famous for his ruthlessness with opponents, but also
    3. unlike the Shah of Iran, a Sunni Muslim in a Shia majority country, whose survival depended on squashing potential rallying points for Shia rebellion -- such as senior religious leaders. (For example, Saddam's regime executed 48 Muslim clerics in Iraq in just five years (from 1979-1983) during the Iran-Iraq War, according to pro-Khomeini author Abdel-Majid Trab Zemzemi.) [21vf]

    Perhaps because of the bad reviews for his lecture series/book, Khomeini set aside preaching the need for velayat-e-faqih [8vf] and concentrated on creating the image of himself as a leader who could unite the anti-Shah opposition, [vf9] while seeking "the support of the Islamists and the hujjat al-Islam, younger clergy of lower rank," [10vf] rather than the senior clergy.

    But Velayat-e Faqih didn't go away, it reappeared through the back door. Khomeini's strategy as a unifying leader was a brilliant success. When he returned from exile it was to a tumultuous welcome as "the Imam," not only the undisputed leader of the revolution but a "semi-divine" savior figure. [11vf] In his role as saviour, he and his core supporters were able to take control of the new republican constitution and give it the post of guardian jurist, dupped "Supreme Leader" (Rahbar-e Moazam), to be held by a high ranking Islamic jurist, a position filled by none other than Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    Khomeini's lack of intellectual coherence and support from the top clerics didn't matter, he (and his very able underlings) made up for it in political smarts and determination. Velayat-e Faqih triumphed ... now back to Velayat-e Faqih.

    Notes on "Islamic Government"

    [1vf] Khomeini, Ruhollah, Islam and Revolution : Writing and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkeley, 1981, p.25

    Some translations of the phrase Velayat-e Faqih are:

  • "jurist's guardianship" (Abrahamian),
  • "regency of the theologian" (Taheri),
  • "custodianship of the jurisconsult" (the first translation into English of the book)
  • "the authority of the jurist" (Dabashi)
  • "mandate of the jurist" (Jahangir Amuzegar)

  • (from: Abrahamian, Ervand, Khomeinism : Essays on the Islamic Republic, p.11
    Taheri, Amir, The Spirit of Allah : Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, Adler and Adler c1985. p.162)
    Jahangir Amuzegar) from Dynamics of Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy By Jahangir Amuzegar, SUNY Press, 1991, p.3)

    [2vf] Abrahamian, Khomeinism p.11

    Hamid Dabashi on the lectures:

    the series of nineteen lectures soon to be known as Velayat-e Faqih (The Authority of the Jurist) delivered over the course of nineteen days, from 21 January to 8 February 1970. Since then a number of official and clandestine editions of these lectures have appeared under three different titles: (1) The Islamic Government, (2) Authority of the Jurist,, and (3) A Letter from Imam Musavi Kashef al-Qita. But all three titles refer to this series of lectures. These lectures were delivered and the subsequent volumes were published in Persian, Khomeini's native tongue. [Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, New York University Press, 1993, p.436

    [3vf] Hamid Algar's Point of View. (For anyone curious about the translator’s point of view, the sputtering indignation of the comment quoted below may be illuminating.)

    It is important to understand that despite this centrality of Imam Khomeini to the Revolution, the Islamic Republic is not an authoritarian regime over which he presides. The notion of a `Khomeini regime` as promoted by the Western media, is entirely fictitious. Repeated consultations of the popular will after February 1979 have resulted in the emergence of a new set of political institutions that function with demonstrable freedom. [p.23]

    Consult reports of Freedom House, Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch as to how `demonstrable` freedom is in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    [4vf] (Sandra Mackey, The Iranians : Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation, c1996, p.233)

    [5vf] `Ulama (singular `Alim), are Islamic scholars.
    A Faqih (plural Fuqaha), is an Islamic legal scholar. Not all members of the `ulama are faqih, but legal scholarship is enormously important in Islam and in his book Khomeini sometimes uses the two terms interchangeably.

    [5v,1f] For example, according to Dabashi: "Throughout Islamic history, after the period of the Prophet himself, he [i.e. Khomeini] considers the short caliphate of Ali (656-661) as the only ideal state when `Islam as it truly is` manifested itself." Dabashi from Theology of Discontent, 1993. Khomeini quote from 27 May 1971, in Sahefeh-ye Nur, v.I, p.166.

    [6vf] ".... the vilayat-i faqih thesis was rejected by almost the entire dozen grand ayatollahs living in 1981:

    From: Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, 1994 p.173-4

    Also: "the Grand Ayatollahs of Iran and Iraq all spurned Khomeini's notion of clerical rule."
    From: Reinventing Khomeini : The Struggle for Reform in Iran by Daniel Brumberg, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p.82)

    [7vf] Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah by Baqer Moin, Thomas Dunne Books, c2000, p.158]

    [7.1vf] Abrahamian, Khomeinism, (1993), p.19

    [8vf]"After the rejection by leading Shi'i clerics of his theory, elaborated in the 1969 lectures he delivered in Najaf, [Khomeini] had remained silent on the issue. Now, [Feb. 1979] for the first time in nearly ten years, he claimed his legitimacy from it and gave an indication of the nature of the theocratic government he aimed at ... " (Moin, Khomeini, p.204)

    Proof of how scrupulous Khomeini was in avoiding any talk about the concept of rule of the jurist and his plans to rule Iran for many years up to the revolution, was the fact that even people who thought they were close to Khomeini (e.g. Sadeq Qotbzadeh), knew little or nothing of velayat-i faqih. Only when the moment was right and Khomeini was firmly in control did his supporters (i.e. his core supporters) begin to introduce vf to the public and into the new Iranian constitution.

    [9vf] Khomeini's interest in avoiding alienating potential anti-Shah allies was such that although he opposed "`left` Islamic ideas" championed by the people like the popular author Ali Shariati "as early as 1968 ... he upheld a discrete silence on the issue, making his views clear to limited individuals and circles." He kept his mouth shut in order to "maintain the general impression that the could be a figurehead for all forms of Islamic radicalism ..." (Moin, Khomeini, p.175-6)

    "Khomeini in [exile in] Najaf and Paris offered a vague utopia designed to maintain the unity of a wide spectrum of leftist, liberal democrats and Islamist opposition groups. ..." (Moin, Khomeini, p.203)

    [10vf] From: Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, p.173-4 ]

    [11vf] `Khomeini, O Imam, we salute you, peace be upon you.` was the greeting as he got off the plane. "Almost overnight Khomeini had been transformed into a semi-divine figure. He was no longer... deputy of the Imam... but simply `The Imam.`" (Moin, Khomeini, p.200)

    [11.1vf] Moin, Khomeini, p.27; Abrahamian, Iran, p.134

    [11.2vf] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.51)

    [12vf] Mackey, The Iranians, 1996, p.143-144.

    [13vf]Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p.95-96.

    [14vf] Mackay, Iranians, p.159-60

    [15vf] Mackey, Iranians, (1996), p.179

    [16vf] Abrahamian, Iran, p.60

    Comprador bourgeoisie was reputed to be drawn from the non-Muslims, a British `Who's Who` indicated that it was not: of the 53 wealthiest businessmen active at the end of the century, one was a Zorastrian, five were Armenian, but 47 were Muslim.

    [17vf]Abrahamian, Iran between two revolutions, p.72, 87. Electrical factory in Mashhad destroyed circa 1906.
    Bear in mind Abrahamian's purpose was not to show the clergy's obscurantism. He is/was eager to defend Iran against charges of xenophobia and minimized these incidents.

    [18vf] Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions p.427))

    [19vf] There were 80,000 Jews in Iran at the time of the Revolution (about 0.22% of the population), by 2000 there were 30,000 (down to 0.05%) (Jewish population from The Last Great Revolution by Robin Wright, p.207), Iranian population (1978 - 36 million; 2000 - over 60 million) from Mackey, The Iranians, p.369

    [20vf]Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.162)

    [21vf] Trab Zemzemi, Abdel-Majid. translated from the French by Zinab Mohammad, The Iraq-Iran War, Islam and Nationalisms, United States Publishing Company, 1986, p.42-3)

    Lectures on the Supreme Jihad, (Jehad-e Akbar)

    Another series of lectures were given by Khomeini "toward the end of 1972" for his students as a sort of spiritual companion piece to the political Velayat-e Faqih. The lectures were a "call to his students to purify themselves in preparation for the struggle that lay ahead of them and responsibilities that would fall on their shoulders." These lectures were also turned into a book, not with printing presses but "laboriously typed under the supervision of Khomeini's students [in Iraq] and sent to Mecca from whence pilgrims took them to Iran on their return journey." [1E]

    One chapter of Jehad-e Akbar has been translated by Hamid Algar for his Islam and Revolution.[2E] It's much more a straightup work of religious inspiration than anything else quoted here, urging its audience to say no to sin and damnation, yes to God and what Khomeini calls "the fountainhead of magnificence." Even here, though, you can find political implications and hints of what lay in store for an "Islamic" Iran.

    On How Mortals can Become infallible (Esmat')

    One point, the full impact of which is buried in footnotes, may answer a question left over from his Islamic Government lecture series/book. Why did Khomeini think traditional Shia belief -- not to mention all the other leading Shi'a jurists of his day -- was/were wrong, that divine and truly just governments did not have to wait until the return of the 12th Imam from occultation? And why the extraordinary devotion of Khomeini's followers to him? The huge ecstatic crowds and unprecedented title of "Imam" bestowed to him? [3E]

    Part of the answer lies in the concept of esmat or infallibility. Traditionally esmat, was considered by Shi'a to be the exclusive attribute of the Prophet and the Twelve Imams, all divinely prevented from committing sin. But Khomeini argued esmat was not a supernatural property beyond the grasp of any mortal human. It was `nothing other than perfect faith.` [4E]

    infallibility is borne by faith. If one has faith in God, and if one sees God with the eyes of his heart, like sun, it would be impossible for him to commit a sin.`

    .... In front of an armed powerful [master], infallibility is attained.[5E]

    At first blush this may seem like a variation on the pious, but not-very-remarkable and not-exclusive-to-Khomeini's-Islam principle that someone possessing true faith would not deliberately commit a sin. But a check of translator Algar's footnotes reveals Esmat is not just as freedom from sin. It is freedom from error as well.[6E] After all if Islam is complete and all encompassing, practical knowledge and divine knowledge aren't two separate realms. All this being in keeping with Khomeini's assertion above that
    There is not a single topic in human life for which Islam has not provided instruction and established a norm. [Islam and Revolution, p.29-30]

    While Khomeini doesn't say in so many words in Jehad-e Akbar that he had obtained infallibility, at least one scholar of his work believed this was exactly what he was suggesting to his student/followers who read Jehad-e Akbar. That he had "secure[d] the all-important attribute of infallibility for himself as a member of the awlia' (friends of God)."[7E]

    Ruling a country of 50 million with all the complexities of a modern economy and society may seem like a daunting task for the most skilled and energetic person or persons. But what fear need you have if you know God has made you free from error.

    On the Unimportance of Life in the Temporal World

    Further on in Jehad-e Akbar a couple of lines hint at what motivated Khomeini to urge thousands of school children to hang the "key to Paradise" around their necks and go to clear Iraqi minefields and charge Iraqi machine guns during the Iran-Iraq War [8E].

    If you have any tie or link binding you to this world in love, try to sever it. This world, despite all its apparent splendor and charm, is too worthless to be loved ... What do you possess in this world that makes you so attached to it?[9E]

    Notes on " Supreme Jihad"

    [1E] Moin, Khomeini, p.157

    [2E] "Lectures on the Supreme Jihad" p.351-362 in Khomeini, Ruhollah, Islam and Revolution : Writing and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkeley, 1981.

    [3E] Moin, Khomeini, (p.200)

    [4E]NOTE: Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, p.463 quoting Khomeini, Jehad-e Akbar (Greater Jihad), pp.44

    [5E]Khomeini, Jehad-e Akbar (Greater Jihad), pp.44; Islam and Revolution, p.353

    [6E]NOTE: (Islam and Revolution, p.156

    [7E][NOTE: Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, p.465 ]

    [8E]see: "A CHILD OF THE REVOLUTION TAKES OVER. Ahmadinejad's Demons" by Matthias Küntzel, Post date 04.14.06 | Issue date 04.24.06

    [9E]Islam and Revolution, p.357

    Statement by Khomeini to His Students September 28, 1977

    In addition to his speeches and books, Khomeini made public statements and wrote many letters to his followers while in exile (mainly in Najaf, Iraq) like the one excerpted below. The translation is by Hamid Dabashi, the original from a collection of Khomeini's writings. [1F]
    Khomeini was interested in Islamic mysticism and its "long and elaborate tradition" that through "ascetic and spiritual exercises," `the perfect man` (al-Insan al-Kamil) may develop. Khomeini was also interested in Islamic state of course, and this may have led him to contemplate how a state of perfection could be achieved not by "ascetic and spiritual exercises," but by the Islamic state enforcing Islamic law.

    On the Complete and Total Nature of Islam

    While `secular governments ... are only concerned with the social order` and as long as they don't hurt others, leave sinners alone neglecting to correct behavior that cries out for perfection

    What he wants to do in the privacy of his homes, drinking wines .... gambling, or other such dirty deeds, the government has nothing to do with him. Only if he comes out screaming, then he would be prosecuted, because that disturbs the peace.
    In contrast
    Islam and divine governments are not like that. These [governments] have commandments for everybody, everywhere, at any place, in any condition. If a person were to commit an immoral dirty deed right next to his house, Islamic governments have business with him. [Italics added]
    The business of Islam with man is not limited, Khomeini assures his students, to merely political matters. Islam
    has rules for every person, even before birth, before his marriage, until his marriages, pregnancy, birth, until upbringing of the child, the education of the adult, until puberty, youth, until old age, until death, into the grave, and beyond the grave. [The Islamic rules] do not come to an end simply [because the person] is put into the grave ... That is just the beginning.[2F]

    Notes on "Statement by Khomeini to His Students September 28, 1977"

    [1F] Dabashi, Hamid, Theology of Discontent, The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, New York University Press, New York and London c1993
    Dabashi found the quotes (or at least cites them) in a collection of Khomeini's writings, Sahifeh-ye Nur, vol.I, p.234-235)

    [2F] Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, (1993), p.476-7

    Assorted Speeches and Quotes from after Khomeini came to power.

    In 1979, Khomeini's big moment came. The demonstrations, riots, strikes, and general political upheaval he had worked so hard to create boiled over into the Iranian revolution. Shah Pahlavi followed political blunders and overconfidence with indecisiveness and illness. [1G] In mid-January he left Iran "on vacation" never to return. Two weeks later, Khomeini made his triumphal return as national leader and savior. Though in his mid-70s and possessing no experience in affairs of state, in the coming months it became apparent that he and his core supporters were intent on not only taking power but excluding through intimidation and shrewd political maneuvering the democratic and leftist forces who had thought they controlled the revolution. The anti-Shah revolution became the Islamic Revolution. Iran became an Islamic Republic. Khomeini became the "Supreme Leader" both of Iran and its revolution, both formally and informally for the next ten years until his death.

    Naturally as a national leader, Khomeini's speeches and statements were broadcast on the radio and quoted in the print media in Iran extensively during this time. The U.S. government's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, ( www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/FBIS.html )[2G] -- which makes translated transcripts of "daily broadcasts, government statements, and select news stories from non-English sources," such as the National Voice of Iran -- is a major English language source of source of these speeches and comments. Author Daniel Brumberg in particular, made use of this source.

    More on the Unimportance of Life in the Temporal World

    Continuing a theme of his book Jehad-e Akbar Khomeini told an audience early in the revolution:

    `Dying does not mean nothingness: it is life.`[3G]

    On the Unimportance of Prosperity in the Temporal World

    Although in his speech upon arriving in Tehran Feb. 1, 1979 Khomeini had promised the poor "free housing, electricity and water,"[4G] it became clear as the revolution progressed that prices would be going up not down, and scarcity and shortages becoming worse, not better,https://gemsofislamism.tripod.com/khomeini_promises_kept.html#Class_Division so it may not have been a coincidence that Khomeini began to emphasise religion and downplay economic wellbeing during this time.

    `I cannot believe that the purpose of all these sacrifices was to have less expensive melons.[5G]
    In a later speech (13 December 1979) he attacked his Islamic leftist opponents who `sacrificed spiritual values for material considerations` and turned `every chapter of the Koran` into `a worldly issue` as if `nothing existed in the invisible world`. Khomeini emphatically rejected the idea the revolution was about `an improvement in their material life`!"
    Does it seem reasonable for a person to shout for his stomach and them give up his life, is this reasonable? Could anyone which his child to be martyred to obtain a good house? This is not the issue. The issue is another world. Martyrdom is meant for another world. This is a martyrdom sought by all of God's saints and prophets ... The people want this meaning.[6G]

    On the Unimportance of Both Life and Prosperity in the Temporal World

    As controversy in the Islamic government between radicals and conservatives heated up over the deteriorating economy and rising poverty rates caused by the war with Iraq (i.e. the Islamic Republic's refusal to give up on its plan to conquer Iraq), Khomeini "took refuge in mysticism"[7G]
    At times a calamity becomes a blessing ... It is under pressure that the spirits soar to the higher world ... If we Muslims ... were like other nations, and had been running after wealth, status ... or were running for bread and sex, many would have been disappointed. But the nation that goes to war for martyrdom ... such a nation can hardly think of anything else. As for its economy, it does not matter. These matters are for those who are tied to economies.[8G]

    Khomeini on the Unimportance of Democracy

    Khomeini also made clearer his disinterest in democracy.
    What the nation wants is an Islamic republic: not just a republic, not a democratic republic, not a democratic Islamic republic. Do not use this term, `democratic.` That is the Western style. [1979 March 1] [9G]

    How could the revolution have been about democracy, Khomeini asked `when most of [the Iranian people] never heard of the word "democracy",`[10G]

    Khomeini on Tolerating Dissent

    Sputtering with rage that newspapers and protesters opposed his new constitution that gave him the post of Supreme Leader for life, Khomeini told radio listeners

    Theocracy is something that God, the exalted ... has ordained ... Wake up, you gentlemen ... because the deviationists are ... trying to ... smash our movement ... [They] speak out [against] the concept of theocracy ... I shall strike you in the mouth. Stop this talk ... Enough is enough: what ought to be done must be done.[12G]

    Khomeini on what is most important about Islam

    If Islamic rule wasn't about less expensive melons, a good house, the word `democracy,` what was it about?

    The aim of the prophets [is] to guide mankind toward knowledge of God. All other issues are subsidiary to it. [13G]

    The aim of the prophets was not to bring about social justice . . . not for the sake of people . . . but for God. [14G]

    Khomeini's Consistency

    Khomeini on Freedom to Vote. His Consistency.

    About a month and a half after the final collapse of the monarchy, a referendum was held on whether Iran should be an Islamic Republic. At first Khomeini ordered Iranians to vote yes:

    `I demand of you, my sisters and brothers, to go and drop that ballot card . . . which says "yes".` (29 March 1979)

    The next day he did an about face, insisting that

    `you are free to vote for whatever you like . . . But I recommend that . . . to obey the orders of God . . . you should try and vote for the Islamic Republic.[15G]

    Khomeini on Political Rights. His Consistency

    About a year later, speaking about the Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran), the paramilitary/military force that served as the revolution's enforcers, he told Iranians the Guard must

    `deal with all people with kindness and with Islamic manners` the `slightest violation` of someone's rights `would lead to prosecution.`

    But in the very same speech he also called for a `purging` of all `deviant groups . . engaged in mixing Islamic ideas with Marxist ideas`. [16G]

    And again two months later:

    You should make sure that these people who indulge in corruption . . . are crushed with full force. Such people, wherever they are should be sentence to death. [17G]

    Then a week later its back to Mr. Nice Guy at the opening of the Parliament where he warns the deputies to

    act with calm and mutual respect and ... shun ... the unprincipled taking of sides in order to crush the opposite.`[18G]

    Khomeini on the Majles (Parliament). His Consistency

    One of the Khomeini's more jarring inconsistencies was his insistence that the parliament of the Islamic Republic (Majles-e-Shura e Eslami) had important power. Under the constitution he and his supporters had fought successfully to put in place, the Iranian parliament was well down the food chain, subordinate to other clerical bodies -- the vali-ye faqih which controlled the military and appoints half of the members of the Council of Guardians; the Council of Guardians itself which vetoed any legislation from the parliament it considered unIslamic [NOTE: ], and decided who could and could not run for a seat in parliament. [19G] In fact, Khomeini himself in his book Velayat-e Faqih, Islamic Government had originally called for no parliament on the grounds Islam law was perfect and required no further legislation.

    But to "rally support" for the first election of the Majles, and perhaps because a major issue of the Anti-Shah revolution was anger at the Shah's usurping of the 1906 constitution and its parliament, Khomeini felt compelled to talk up the parliament and claim importance for it that his own constitution had made sure it didn't have.

  • `The Majles is higher than all the positions which exist in the country.` [20G]
  • `The centre of all law and power is the Majles. It guides all and it should do so.` [21G]
  • `The Islamic parliament is the sole centre which all must obey.`
  • `Parliament is the starting point for whatever happens in the state.`
  • `Submission to the parliament means submission to Islam.`
  • `The parliament stands above all other institutions.`
  • `Parliament is the embodiment of the people and the very crystallization of the people in one particular place.`[22G]

  • Khomeini on Consistency in General

    `Before the revolution, I believed that once the revolution succeeded then there would be honest people to carry out the task . . . Therefore I . . . stated that the clergy would leave and attend to their own profession. But I later realized that . . . most of . . .[the honest people] were dishonest . . . I later stated . . . that I had made a mistake. This is because we intend to implement Islam. Accordingly . . . I may have said something yesterday, changed it today, and will again change it tomorrow. This does not mean that simply because I made a statement yesterday, I should adhere to it, Today I am saying that . . . the `ulema should continue with their jobs.` [23G]

    Khomeini on Why Inconsistency (i.e. Dishonesty) is Necessary

    As Khomeini complained in Islamic Government, imperialist propaganda against Islamic government sometimes made dissimulation or taqiyya necessary :

    if someone wishes to speak about Islamic government and the establishment of the Islamic government, he must observe the principles of taqiya ... [Islam and Revolution, p.34]

    On Humor and Music. `There Is No Humor in Islam,` `You must suppress music`

    Issues and themes appeared that had not been mentioned by Khomeini, or at the very least not talked about widely, in his campaign against the Shah.

    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].[24G]


    stupefies persons listening to it and makes their brain inactive and frivolous .... If you want independence for your country, you must suppress music and not fear to be called old-fashioned. Music is a betrayal of the nation and of youth.[25G]

    On the Importance of Hatred for America

    Naturally, you would expect Khomeini to preach independence from the United States and militancy against its policies, as he did before the revolution sarcastically calling the US "friends of humanity"

    those so-called friends of humanity have appointed their agent to rule their country [Iran] in order to prevent the poor from benefiting from its riches[26G]

    ... and after ...

    superpowers are stripping us naked ... One of their big plans is to ... replace [our brains] ... with European ones: to ... rob us of our intellectual independence.[27G]

    But there was more. In addition to cutting `economic and cultural links` to that country, it was important that America be `slapped in the face,` and `punched in the mouth.`[28G]

    Nor was all this hate to be just a catharsis to break the spell of "westoxification." It was to carry on for as long as it took for Islam to triumph over America and the rest of the world. As he pronounced in late 1988, less than a year before his death,

    And I am confident that the Iranian people, particularly our youth, will keep alive in their hearts anger and hatred for the criminal Soviet Union and the warmongering United States. This must be until the banner of Islam flies over every house in the world. [29G]

    Khomeini on the Importance of Opportunity for Martyrdom

    Traditionally Islam, and particularly Shi'a Islam, has revered shahada, the act of paying the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the faith, [30G] while forbidding suicide.[31G] A martyr's death could not be deliberate. In the annual Shi'a celebration of Imam Hoseyn death at Karbala, it was Hoseyn's courage and religious devotion that was celebrated, not the fact that he had been killed. But Khomeini took this one step further, perhaps to its logical conclusion, preached that not only was martyrdom a highly meritorious act, so were opportunities for it.

    Thus continuing the war with Iraq after Iraq had been driven out of Iran was not a bloody disaster Iranian's should be angry with Khomeini for insisting on, it was an important opportunity for the young to die fighting enemies of Islam. `Dying does not mean nothingness: it is life.` [33G]

    If the great martyr ... confined himself to praying ... the great tragedy of Kabala would not have come about ... Among the contemporary ulema, if the great Ayatollah ... Shirazi ... thought like these people, a war would not have taken place in Iraq ... all those Muslims would not have been martyred.[ [34G]
    i.e. the war was a change for martyrdom that peace-loving, irreligious wimps ("these people") might easily have denied young Iranians.

    The importance of Muslims martyring themselves was a theme he came back to more than once.

  • The issue is another world. Martyrdom is meant for another world. This is a martyrdom sought by all of God's saints and prophets ... The people want this meaning.` [35G] Daniel Brumberg, p.125, source: Khomeini to the Craftsmen,` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 13 December 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-242, 14 December 1979)
  • `Our youngsters` who `welcome martyrdom` illustrate the difference between people and animals "by not being `a material being,` they were helping Iran become `a divine country`. [36G]
  • `Your youths have crossed the border in one night ... They have suddenly achieved what the mystics and mystical poets have been dreaming of.`[37G]
  • "`Trenches ... are centers for worship of God`; there, he asserted, the martyrs had attained `mystical and divine stages.`"[38G]

  • Khomeini on the Spreading Islam and the Iran-Iraq Gulf War

    In explaining the importance of the Iran-Iraq war to his people Khomeini was want to say that the

    `Islamic Revolution . . . is being exported . . . [so that] . . . with the dispensations of the Supreme Lord, the banner of Islam is likely to be hoisted throughout the globe in the not-too-distant future.` [39G]

    In part this was because the sakes of the war, were America had joined forces with nationalist Saddam, were huge for (Khomeini's) Islam

    `It is our belief ... that Saddam [Hussein] wishes to return Islam to blasphemy and polytheism ... if America becomes victorious ... and grants victory to Saddam, Islam will receive such a blow that it will not be able to raise its head for a long time ...The issue is one of Islam versus blasphemy, and not of Iran versus Iraq.`[40G]

    On World Dominance of Islam and Destruction of Capitalism


    We have often proclaimed this truth in our domestic and foreign policy, namely that we have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam and the suppression of the rule of the world conquerors ... We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, capitalism and Communism to wither throughout the world. We wish, as does God almighty, to destroy the systems which are based on these three foundations, and to promote the Islamic order of the Prophet ... in the world of arrogance.[41G]

    `We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry `There is no God but God` resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.' [42G]

    `Establishing the Islamic state world-wide belong to the great goals of the revolution.` [43G]

    Islamic Revolution ... is being exported ... [so that] with the dispensations of the Supreme Lord, the banner of Islam is likely to be hoisted throughout the globe in the not-too-distant future. [44G]

    It bears repeating that the whole idea of the Islamic Republic was that Islam could not be Islam without Islamic government, i.e. Islamic rule. This, and not some peaceful mass conversion to Islam under existing self-government of non-Muslims states, is what Khomeini had in mind by the hoisting of the banner of Islam. Knowing that Khomeini believed in following the example of The Prophet and the Companions who expanded Islam by conquest and was not one to talk about nonviolence as a political means, this was not a good sign for peaceful coexistence.

    Khomeini on His Clerical Opponents

    For someone whose interpretation of true Islam required rule by the leading member or members of the fuqaha, it was, needless to say, infuriating that those leading fuqaha didn't agree. What was Khomeini's reply? His clerical opponents weren't really clerics. They were phonies.

    In 1982, a major storm developed between President Bani Sadr and the more radically Islamic Islamic Republican Party, whose membership was constituted of Khomeini's core supporters. As the political outsiders, i.e. everyone who wasn't a fundamentalist, began to rally round Bani-Sadr, and a cohesive opposition to Khomeini began to jell. Khomeini lashed out at the opposition clerics, including the venerable Ayatollah Mohammad-Kazem Shari'atmadari. These `turbaned` impostors, were ``infiltrating the clergy and engaging in sabotage.` They had formed

    imam committees. Who is this imam? ... Anybody who wished to do something puts it under the name of the imam.`

    This was unacceptable:

    I warn ... the clergy ... I tell them all and discharge myself of my final responsibility, to repulse all these mullahs.` [45G]

    On Islamic Government (Version 3.0) -- Rule by Islamic Clerics Is Necessary, God's Law Is Subordinate To It

    Shortly before his death Khomeini issued a fatwa that completed his reversal from his original position on Islamic government. (i.e. that shari'ah law is necessary, rule by Islamic jurists is not.) The pressure of ruling a country of 60-odd million, and disputes between conservative sticklers for traditional shari'ah and his underclass revolutionary base, compelled him to declare all ordinances of Islam "secondary" to Islamic Government and governance of Islamic jurists.

    This, his theologically most controversial and far reaching statement, was spelled out in a public reprimand of his second in command, `Ali Khamene`i. (1 January 1988)

    It appears from your Excellency’s statements at the Friday prayer [Khutab jamat] that you do not regard government to be equivalent to the absolute governance [wilayat-i mutlaqa], which was bestowed on the most noble Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) by God, and which is the most important part of the divinely ordained position, and which has preponderance over all other ordinances that are dependent upon his position (as wali-yi mutlaq). Your interpretation of what I have said -- that the government is empowered to act only within the framework of the existing secondary divine ordinances [preserved in the shari’ah] -- runs entirely counter to what I have in fact said. Were the powers of government to lie only within the framework of secondary divine decrees, the designation of the divine government and absolute deputed guardianship (wilayat-i mutlaqa-yi mufawwada) to the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) would have been in practice entirely without meaning and content. ... I must point out, the government which is a branch of the absolute governance of the Prophet of God is among the primary ordinances of Islam, and has precedence over all secondary ordinances such as prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage. [46G]

    On succeeding where the prophet failed

    'I should say that so far the purpose of the Prophets has seldom been realized. Very little.'

    Anticipating that some rival clerics would find this claim blasphemous, he contradicted himself saying

    `tomorrow court mullahs ... [should] not say that Khomeini said that the Prophet is incapable of achieving his aims.`"
    But after all how could the goals have been realized when "the American government and others" [47G] were continuing to throw their weight around and interfere with the expansion of the Islamic Republic?

    His denials notwithstanding, was Khomeini calling into question Muhammad as the final prophet, "the seal of the prophets"?

    Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things - Q33:040

    Notes on "Assorted Speeches and Quotes from after Khomeini came to power"

    [1G] political blunders and overconfidence with indecisiveness and illness. see www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution causes of revolution

    [2G] The Foreign Broadcast Information Service or FBIS ( www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/FBIS.html ) provides translated transcripts of "daily broadcasts, government statements, and select news stories from non-English sources," including speeches by Khomeini. Is quoted extensively by Daniel Brumberg.

    [3G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.125. Source: `Khomeini Delivers Oration,` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 4 May 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-089, 7 May 1979

    [4G] Taheri, The Spirit of Allah, p.241

    [5G] quoted in The Government of God, p.111. see also the FBIS broadcasts, especially FBIS-MEA-79-L30, July 5, 1979 v.5 n.130, reporting broadcasts of the National Voice of Iran.

    [6G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.124-5. source: `Khomeini to the Craftsmen` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service, 13 December 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-242, 14 December 1979

    [7G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.132

    [8G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.132. Source: `Khomeini Greets Iranian Nation on New Year,` broadcast on Tehran Domestic Service 20 March 1985, FBIS-SAS-85055, 21 March 1985.

    [9G] 1979 March 1, Khomeini Addressing a great crowd in Qom after returning from exile. Quoted in Bakhash, Shaul, The Reign of the Ayatollahs, (1984), p.73

    [10G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.124-5. Source: `Khomeini to the Craftsmen` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 13 December 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-242) 14 December 1979

    NOTE: In his 1970 lecture series/book Islamic Government, Khomeini had explained why (he felt) rule by jurists enforcing Shari’ah law, and not electoral representative democracy, "truly belongs to the people".

    in a republic or a constitutional monarchy, most of those claiming to be representatives of the majority of the people will approve anything they wish as law and then impose it on the entire population. ... In contrast ... the body of Islamic laws that exist in the Qur'an and the Sunna has been accepted by the Muslims and recognized by them as worthy of obedience,

    and thus

    truly belong to the people. [Islam and Revolution, p.56]

    but eight years after that, and a couple months before his return to Iran, had assured the press "the future government would be democratic as well as Islamic" (Abrahamian, Iran Between Revolutions, p.534)

    [11G] Abrahamian, Iran Between Revolutions, (1982), p.534)

    [12G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.105. `Khomeini Defends Concept of Theocracy in 22 October Speech,` broadcast 22 October 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-206, vo.5, n. 206]

    [13G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.133. Source: 'Khomeini Addresses Leadership,` broadcast 30 November 1985, FBIS-SAS-85-043, 2 December 1985)

    [14G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.133. Source: Khomeini Addresses Revolution Council Members,` broadcast 10 December 1985, FBIS-SAS-85-238, 11 December 1985)

    [15G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.102. Source: broadcasts on 29 and 30 March 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-062, FBIS-MEA-79-064, 30 March and 2 April, 1979.)

    [16G]Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.113. Source: `Ayatollah Khomeini Addresses the Nation`, broadcast 21 March 1980, FIB-MEA-80-38, 24 March 1980.

    [17G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.114. Source: `Khomeyni Addresses Youth on Corruption in Society,` broadcast 20 May 1980, FBIS-SAS-80-100, 21 May, 1980)

    [18G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.114. Source: `Khomeyni Majlis Message,` broadcast 28 May 1980, FBIS-SAS-80-104, 28 May 1980.)

    [19G] http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/2112 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Iran#Majles

    SUPREME LEADER: "appointing the jurists to the Council of Guardians; the chief judges of the judicial branch; the chief of staff of the armed forces; the commander of the Pasdaran (Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Islami, or Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Revolutionary Guards); the personal representatives of the faqih to the Supreme Defense Council;"

    GUARDIAN COUNCIL: "The Guardian Council, comprising of six jurists appointed by the supreme leader and six lawyers, oversees laws which are passed by the parliament to confirm their conformity with the Islamic teachings and the national constitution. The lawyers, proposed by the judiciary, are elected by the parliament."

    [20G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001) p.113. `Address by Ayatollah Khomeini on the Occasion of the Iranian New Year,` broadcast 20 March 1979, FBIS-MEA-80-056, 21 March 1980)

    [21G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001) p.118. Source: `Khomeini Speech,` broadcast 25 May 1980, FBIS-SAS-80-103, 27 May 1980)

    [22G] Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran (1997), p102. Date not certain, source: Sahifeh-e Nur cited in M. Arezumand, `Elections and Parliament in the Words of the Imam` in Ettela'at, 3.4.92)

    [23G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.98. Source: `Khomeyni Discusses Guardians Council Tasks`, broadcast 11 December 1983, FBIS-SAS-83-060, 12 December 1983)

    [24G] Taheri, Amir, The Spirit of Allah, p.259. Source: Meeting in Qom "Broadcast by radio Iran from Qom on 20 August 1979."

    [25G] "Khomeini Bans Broadcast Music, Saying It Corrupts Iranian Youth" by John Kifner, New York Times, July 24, 1979 p.A1

    [26G] Islamic Government in Islam and Revolution, p.223-24)

    [27G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.125. Source: `Khomeini to the Craftsmen` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 13 December 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-242)

    [28G] Shi'ism, Resistance and Revolution, ed. Martin Kramer (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1987), p.52-53. Marvin Zonis and Daniel Brumberg, `Shi'ism as Interpreted by Khomeini`

    [29G] from: Wright, Robin, In the Name of God : The Khomeini Decade, New York : Simon and Schuster, c1989, p.196]

    [30G] Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 1:35, Narrated Abu Huraira http://muttaqun.com/suicide.html

    [31G] SUICIDE: Hadith - Bukhari 7:670, Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever." http://muttaqun.com/suicide.html

    (No footnote 32)

    [33G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.125. Source: Khomeini Delivers Orations` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 4 May 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-089, 7 May 1979

    [34G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.130, (italics are Brumberg's). Source: `Ayatollah Khomeyni Message to Council of Experts,` broadcast 14 July 1983, FBIS-SAS-83-137, 15 July 1983;

    [35G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.125. Source: Khomeini to the Craftsmen,` broadcast on Teheran Domestic Service 13 December 1979, FBIS-MEA-79-242, 14 December 1979)

    [36G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.128. Source: `Khomeini Id Ghadir Address on Islam, War` broadcast 29 October 1980, FBIS-SAS-80-211, 29 October 1980.

    [37G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.130. Source: `Khomeyni 10 February Message to Revolution Ceremony,` broadcast 10 February 1983, FBIS-SAS-83-030, 11 February 1983

    [38G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.130. Source: `Khomeyni Issues Statement on Tudeh Leaders Arrest,` broadcast 4 May 1983, FBIS-SAS-83-088, 5 May 1983

    [39G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.132-3, Source: `Ayatollah Khomeyni's Anniversary Message,` Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) broadcast 11 February 1984, FBIS-SAS-84-031, 14 February 1984

    [40G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.133. `Further on Khomeyni April 4 Speech on War`, broadcast 4 April 1985, FBIS-SAS-85-016, 5 April 1985.

    [41G] Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran (1997), p.8. Source: Bayan, No.4 (1990).

    [42G] Date not certain, Excerpts from Speeches and Messages of Imam Khomeini on the Unity of the Muslims, p.108]

    [43G] Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran (1997), p.69. Source: Resalat, 25.3.1988)

    [44G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.132-3. Source: `Further on Khomeyni April 4 Speech on War,` broadcast 4 April 1985, FIB-SAS-85-016, 5 April 1985.

    [45G](Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.115. Source: `Text of Khomeyni Speech to a Group of Workers,` broadcast 25 June 1980, FBIS-SAS-80-125, 26 June 1980)"

    [46G] source: Hamid Algar, `Development of the Concept of velayat-i faqih since the Islamic Revolution in Iran,` paper presented at London Conference on wilayat al-faqih, in June, 1988] [p.135-8] Also Ressalat, Tehran, 7 January 1988. See also: Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran, (1997), p.230. Source: Kayhan 2.1.88.

    [47G] Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini, (2001), p.133. Source: 'Khomeini Addresses Leadership,` broadcast 30 November 1985, FBIS-SAS-85-043, 2 December 1985

    Fatwa Against Salman Rushdie

    On 14 February, 1989, a fatwa by Khomeini was broadcast on Tehran Radio calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie. Rushdie, an Indian-born British citizen, had written a book called Satanic Verses, depicting a character (a prophet of God named "Mahound" who mixes "Satanic verses with the divine" -- hence the title of the novel) obviously and irreverently modeled on the Prophet Muhammad.

    On Dealing with Offensive Literary Works

    In the name of God the Almighty. We belong to God and to Him we shall return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qor'an, and those publishers who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, where they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctities. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing. In addition, if anyone has access to the author of the book but does not possess the power to execute him, he should point him out to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God's blessing be on you all. Rullah Musavi al-Khomeini.

    So famous is (or was) Khomeini's fatwa on Rushdie that many non-Muslims assumed the word fatwa was some kind of Islamic term for death threat, rather than legal opinion. Even the more knowledgeable may have come to believe that what Khomeini did -- issue a death warrant without trial, defense, etc - was just the Islamic way of doing things. But was this fatwa in keeping with Islamic jurisprudence? Rushdie was charged with apostasy, and apostasy by a mentally sound adult male is indeed a capital crime in Islamic fiqh. But fiqh also

    lays down procedures according to which a person accused of an offense is to be brought to trial, confronted with his accuser, and given the opportunity to defend himself. A judge will then give a verdict and if he finds the accused guilty, pronounce sentence. ...

    Even the most rigorous and extreme of the classical jurist only require a Muslims to kill anyone who insults the Prophet in his hearing and in his presence. They say nothing about a hired killing for a reported insult in a distant country. [0H]

    Some speculated that Khomeini had motives for issuing the fatwa other than his duty to protect Islam by punishing blasphemy/apostasy, namely:

  • To distract attention from his capitulation seven months earlier to a truce with Iraq (20 July 1988), (a truce Iraq would have eagerly given him six years and hundreds of thousands of lives earlier). [1H]
  • To steal the thunder of Khomeini's two least favorite enemy states, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A., who were basking in the glory of the Soviet withdrawal from Muslim Afghanistan. This withdrawal, seen by many as a great victory of Islamic faith over an atheist superpower, was made possible by billions of dollars in aid to the Afghan mujahideen by those two countries.
    On Feb. 14 1989 Khomeini issued his death sentence fatwa on Salman Rushdie. On Feb. 15 1989 the announcement of Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was official. [2H]
  • According to Robin Wright, "as the international furor grew, Khomeini declared that the book had been a `godsend` that had helped Iran out of a `naive foreign policy`". [3H]

    Whatever his reasons, the death threat was serious. On February 24, "Khomeini offered a U.S. $3 million bounty for the death of Rushdie, who went into hiding and lived under the protection of U.K. security services for many years there after. [4H] Teams of fatwa-driven assassins managed to slay or injure Rushdie's translators and publishers in Italy, Japan, and Norway. Several bookstores around the world were bombed; films and plays threatened. [5H]

    Salman Rushdie's Apology

    To non-Islamist ears, a head of state calling for the murder of a citizen of another country for the crime of writing a book might seem quite outrageous enough, but there was more to come. Could Rushdie undo the damage, appeal for clemency for an act (book writing) that had caused no one any physical harm? Two days after the fatwa was issued Iranian President Khamene'i (a former "favourite pupil" (http://www.khamenei.de/biograph/biogrsalam.htm) and long-time lieutenant of Khomeini) suggested that `if [Rushdie] apologizes and disowns the book, people may forgive him.` Two days following that, Rushdie issued "a carefully worded statement" regretting

    profoundly the distress the publication has occasioned to the sincere followers of Islam. Living as we do in a world of many faiths, this experience has served to remind us that we must all be conscious of the sensibilities of others.` [6H]
    This "was relayed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran via official channels before being release to the press."

    On Forgiving Blasphemers who Apologize

    Around Feb. 19 Khomeini's office replied
    The imperialist foreign media falsely alleged that the officials of the Islamic Republic have said the sentence of death on the author of The Satanic Verses will be retracted if he repents. His Excellency, Imam Khomeini, long may he live, has said:
    This is denied 100%. Even if Salman Rushdie repents and become the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell.
    His Excellency the Imam added:
    If a non-Muslim becomes aware of Rushdie's whereabouts and has the ability to execute him quicker than Muslims, it is incumbent on Muslims to pay a reward or a fee in return for this action. [7H]

    No apology could ever overrule the death sentence. God may be merciful, but that doesn't mean Khomeini has to be!

    Notes on "Fatwa Against Salman Rushdie"

    [0H]Bernard Lewis's comment on Rushdie fatwa in The Crisis of Islam : Holy War and Unholy Terror, 2003 by Bernard Lewis, p.141-2)

    [1H] Moin, Baqer, Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah, (2001), p.267,
    The Gulf War : It's Origins, History and Consequences by John Bulloch and Harvey Morris, 1989, (p.xvi)]

    [2H] Kepel, Gilles, Jihad, (2001), p.135)

    [3H] Wright, In the Name of God (c1989), p.201

    [4H] Although the fatwa was in theory lifted in 1998 by the Iranian government, in 1999 the Iranian Khordad Foundation offered a $2.8 million bounty to anyone who kills Rushdie. (On the other hand, the foundation "was widely known" in Iran to be "bankrupt." (source: Persian Mirrors : the Elusive Face of Iran by Elaine Sciolino of the New York Times, c2000, p.182-3) which might lessen the zeal of any Iranian assassins with an eye toward the reward.) The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have also reaffirmed the fatwa. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rushdie )

    [5H] (NOTE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rushdie , New York Times, Apr 16, 1989. p. E24 , "The Rushdie Affair Lives"

    [6H] from Moin, Khomeini, (2001), p.284 (Issued 18 February, Obtained by Baqer Moin from the Archbishop of Canterbury's aides.)]

    [7H] from Moin, Khomeini, (2001), p.284

    Religious and Political Will of Khomeini

    On June 3 1989 Khomeini died. The next morning his 29-page will was read by a "sobbing" President Khamene'i to a weeping Assembly of Experts. [1I]

    To share his wisdom with the world the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), ("the country's official national news outlet" and part of the "Ministry of National Guidance"), has made a full-text translation into English available (at the time of writing) at http://server32.irna.com/occasion/ertehal/english/will/lmnew1.htm

    The will, which except for a postscript, was written six years earlier, covered no new ground [2I] and contained much of what you'd expect from any good Muslim, or founder of a revolution: a plea that his successors "devote and dedicate themselves to the service of Islam;" that everyone "advance towards self-awareness, self-sufficiency and independence," and so on.

    What you might not expect from most people, but most definitely would from Khomeini was his trademark venom which he shared with a long list of enemies:

    Khomeini On His Enemies

  • There's Saudi Arabia and the "baseless and superstitious cult of Wahhabism." Muslims "should curse tyrants, including the Saudi royal family, these traitors to God's great shrine, may God's curse and that of this prophets and angels be upon them ... " [3I]

  • And of course the U.S.:
    ... the foremost enemy of Islam ... a terrorist state by nature that has set fire to everything everywhere and its ally, the international Zionism does not stop short of any crime to achieve its base and greedy desires, crimes that the tongue and pen are ashamed to utter or write. ...
    but which has been
    dumbfounded and disgraced in its dealings with the dauntless Iranian nation.
  • The allies of the U.S.:
    Hussein of Jordan, a professional, itinerant criminal... Hasan of Morocco and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, fellow-managers of Israel... fellow-criminals with Israel
    commit any act of treason against their own nations to serve the USA.
  • There are "damnation and curses" against the Bani Umayyad dynasty, dead and gone from the Middle East for over 1000 years.

  • Secular Iranians:
    vicious disuniting propaganda ... heathen and hypocrites ... satanic, dictatorial rule ... inane accusations ... ... perverting their minds with poisonous propaganda

    (COMMENT: Khomeini makes clear he does not oppose propaganda in principle:

    The issue of propaganda is not exclusively the business of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Rather, it is a duty incumbent on all writers, speakers, artists and scholars [http://server32.irna.com/occasion/ertehal/english/will/lmnew5.htm]
    He only opposes the use of it by others such as "... UN cultured plundering bullies. ... stooges" of superpowers.)

  • Opponents of the Islamic revolution:
    obstructionist, trouble-making minority ... such rantings are proof of planned conspiracies that are carried out daily ... lawlessness caused by the perverts, the enemies ... fiendish yet foolish propaganda. ... baseless accusations ... so-called intellectual writers
  • One-time supporters, who he explains have not turned against his rule because he broke his promises, nor because they led astray by enemy propaganda. They were against it from the beginning ... because they were deep undercover foreign agents! Moles, just waiting for the right time to sabotage the revolution. [4I]
    We are aware that the superpowers have implanted in various communities agents in different disguises such as nationalist pan-Iranists ... liberals, intellectuals, spiritualists ... [They] live, sometimes for decades, among nations with patience, Islamic conduct and deportment, sham patriotism, spirituality and other designs and carry out their assignments at the most propitious times.
  • This extends to some members of the Shi'a clergy. Why did he have opponents among his peers, who normally looked out for each other even if they were in competition? Because "saboteurs and miscreants" and "evil agents" had "infiltrated the theological seminaries." Serious danger threatened if they were able to rise up to
    high positions through their machinations [and] with the help of their sham knowledge of Islamic laws and ... deliver fatal blows to the theological centres, to Islam and the country.

    Because of them a "purge" of these centres would be necessary.

  • Tacked on at the end is a postscript attacking "certain people", an apparent reference to his three non-clerical advisors/PR men in Paris for 3 1/2 months in 1978/79 -- Bani Sadr, Sadeq Qotbzadeh, Ebrahim Yazdi. Though they were later squeezed out of power, they provided invaluable service to Khomeini early on, helping him function in a land totally alien to him, and successfully convincing Western press, Western officials, and pro-democracy middle-class Iranians of Khomeini's progressive, benevolent intentions.

    All three had been disgraced at the time of Khomeini's death, Bani Sadr was in exile in Paris, Qotbzadeh had been executed for plotting against the regime, and Yazdi was a "disgraced liberal".[5I]]

    During my lifetime certain individuals claimed that they used to write my announcements. I strongly deny this allegation. None of my announcements have been prepared by anyone except myself personally. According to rumours, certain people have claimed that they were responsible for my going to Paris. This is a lie. After I was turned back from Kuwait, I chose Paris after consulting Ahmad because there was the possibility of not being admitted to Islamic countries. They were under the influence of the Shah, but this possibility did not exist in Paris.
    In the course of the movement and the revolution, some individuals' hypocrisy and their Islamic pretension, led me to mention them and to praise them. Later, I discovered that I had been the target of their deceit.[6I]

    And so from beyond the grave the spite and fury carries on:

    wicked ... treacherous ... ignorant ... perverts ... tyrannical ... perversion ... satanic ... plots... tricks ... ruses ... wolves ... sex orgies and other carnal whims. [7I]

    Notes on "Will and Testament"

    [1I] (Moin, Khomeini, (2000), p.305)

    [2I] (Moin, Khomeini, (2000), p.305)

    [3I] The wish for "God's curse" on Saudi royal family is quoted in Moin biography on p.306-7, but not in the translation on the IRNA website. It may have been expurgated by the IRNA as Iranian-Saudi relations warmed.

    [4I] This accusation is particularly unlikely in regards to Khomeini's biggest and most formidable opponent, the mujahideen-e-khalq guerilla group, who were avowedly Islamic but opposed clerical rule. The socialist mujahideen-e-khalq were strongly anti-American and supported the taking of the U.S. embassy hostages, but also independent of the Soviet Union, turning against Khomeini even while the Soviets and the large pro-Soviet Tudeh (Communist) party continued to support him (Khomeini eventually attacked the Communists after they broke with him over the Iran-Iraq war).

    Why did the mujahideen-e-khalq ever support Khomeini when he advocated velayat-e faqih and they opposed it? Because Khomeini conscientiously avoided talking about the idea as the anti-Shah movement grew.

    While it's highly unlikely the mujahideen-e-khalq members were agents of either Russia or the U.S. who infiltrated Iran, they were infiltrators of Khomeini's organization. After the Islamic government declared the mujahideen-e-khalq enemies and attacked their offices and members, several high ranking Islamic government Mullahs including the president and prime minister, were blown up by terrorist bombs. Though they did not admit it, Mujahideen-e-khalq operatives are thought to have been the culprits.

    [5I] Moin, Khomeini, p.307

    [6I] Moin, Khomeini, (2000), p.306-7
    a somewhat clumsier translation is available from IRNA at http://server32.irna.com/occasion/ertehal/english/will/lmnew8.htm

    For the curious: keyword search of some of the words Khomeini uses to describe his opponents in Will and Testament:
    10 "treacherous" or "treachery"
    19 "plots"/"plot"/"plotters"/"plotter"
    9 "satan" or "satanic"
    13 "perverts"/"perverted"/"perverting"/"pervert"
    6 "perversion"
    5 "wicked" or "wickedness"
    12 "tyrants/tyrannical/tyranny
    4 "ignorant"
    1 "greedy"
    1 "savages"
    7 "criminal" or "criminals"
    12 "crime" or "crimes"

    What Does It All Mean?
    Some Thoughts

    Almost ten years after the revolution, Robin Wright, an American reporter, was in Tehran listening one of the many disillusioned ex-revolutionaries. The man was fed up. He'd stopped voting or even paying attention to the Iranian elections. He wanted to get his son out of the country so he wouldn't be drafted and killed in the Iran-Iraq War. Life was "better" under the Shah he keeps telling her. IOW, he seems to oppose everything Khomeini stands for.

    Then suddenly the conversation is interrupted by a rumour that Khomeini -- who is in his mid-eighties and known to be in questionable health -- might be dying. Khomeini's death would doubtless have brought an end to the war and much else the man disapproved of. So does his face light up? Or perhaps become solemn while he intones that this is probably for the best? No. It becomes "ashen." He sits down slowly and is speechless for a several minutes. Finally he pulls himself together and announces, "This is terrible for my country.`"[1J]

    Nor were only Iranians under the spell of "the Imam." A Farsi-speaking British bank executive and veteran of Iran observed the revolution first-hand in Tehran for several months and wrote a book about it. Though the triumph of Khomeini and his anti-Western, anti-multinational policies would mean the end of the executive's job in Iran and his dreams of developing a new Asian investment bank, the banker sounded more in awe than angry or sad.

    The spiritual power of this man Khomeini is something I have never witnessed or even imagined ... He is clearly a Great Man ... Unbeatable, I judge ... He is magnificently clear-minded ... and unswerving.

    ... and his reaction to Khomeini's plan for Islamic Government by rule of clerics more like gushing than alarm.

    He is a great medieval force, a great leader of the regeneration of Islam - and not only in Iran. I learned today that he wrote his treatise `Islamic Government: the Guardianship of the Clergy` in 1971 when in exile in Najaf and that this is now the lodestar for many. A return to fundamental Islam where church and state are one - and therefore no need of a parliament.[2J]

    And those with less direct experience could be downright stunning in their foolishness and naïveté. An American academic Richard Falk reassured Americans of Khomeini's idealism, liberality and honesty a few weeks after talking to the cleric in Paris and two weeks after Khomeini's triumphant return from exile:

    More even than any third-world leader, he has been depicted in a manner calculated to frighten. ... the news media have defamed him in many ways, associating him with efforts to turn the clock back 1300 years ...
    He has ... indicated that the non-religious left will be free to express its views in an Islamic republic and to participate in political life provided only that it does not `commit treason against the country` ... To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief. ... Thus the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false. ... It is widely expected that he will soon go to the holy city of Qom, at a remove from the daily exercise of power. There he will function as a guide or, if necessary, as a critic of the republic. ... Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country. [3J]

    Virtually every assertion above proved to be false.

    Even as late as 1996, Sandra Mackay described his book Islamic Government as being about "the cultural invasion of the West, and the issue of justice"[8J] ... which it was -- in the same way that Mein Kampf was about restoring Germany's dignity after the great loss of World War I.

    According to a biographer of Khomeini, BBC regional expert Baqer Moin

    The Imam, it was generally believed, had shown by his uncanny sweep to power, that he knew how to act in ways which others could not begin to understand. His timing was extraordinary, and his insight into the motivation of others, those around him as well as his enemies, could not be explained as ordinary knowledge. [4J]

    For the average Iranian the last half of his reign was notable for severe shortages of food and medicines and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men in pursuit of Khomeini's goal of "war until victory" over Saddam Hussein. There was no victory, just a return to prewar borders. The sacrifices were for naught. Yet when Khomeini died less than a year after the war's ceasefire, millions poured into the streets in "a completely spontaneous and unorchestrated outpouring of grief" so great they disrupted the funeral, tearing his funeral shroud to pieces. [5J]

    How jarring it is then for outsiders to look back on Khomeini's writings and speeches and see not inspiring spirituality and greatness but the small-mindedness and obsessive hate (hatred, not just militancy and anger, was a virtue to be sustained. [5.1J]) of a dishonest demogogue. Starting with useless, obsessive medieval regulations, he turns to hate-filled conspiracy theories, the remedy for which he glibly promises, will be a utopian theocratic rule. The utopia proving worse than its preceding regime he lurges into a disastrous war of expansion and turns almost Jim Jones-like with talk of going "to war for martyrdom." He finally completes his oeuvre issuing a death sentence on the foreign author of a disrespectful book and a rambling rant of a last will and testement blaming his failures on everyone else.

    In retrospect some of the explanation for Khomeini's appeal and performance are obvious. The same unflinching determination and utter lack of self-doubt that made him so charismatic when out of power is transformed into a mendacious, self-righteous -- even paranoid -- rage and rigidity when in power and unable to make his promise's come true. His tactical political ability may have seemed supernatural to more than a few, but his strategy for making Iranians' lives better also depended on the supernatural -- on divine intervention that never came. What isn't obvious is why the magic of his initial charisma had so much impact for millions of Iranians while his failure to provide freedom, prosperity, honest governance, etc., did not.

    Despite the efforts of Khomeini to appeal to the 80% of Muslims who are Sunnis and money and energy spent by the Islamic Republic to spread his word, [5.2J] Khomeini has a smaller audience than other pioneer Islamists like the Qutb brothers or Mawlana Abu'l-A`la Mawdudi. Sunni's have proven less than interested in what the "commander of the faithful," Khalifa Ali ibn Abi Talib had to say that proves the need for rule by fuqaha, or for that matter with the whole idea of Marja'-e taqlid or taqlid ("imitating" or accepting religious rulings by living scholars without examining and agreeing with the evidence/technical proof/ijtihad behind the ruling). [6J] Sunni Islamists, or at least salafi, are more likely to quote people like Imam Abu Hanifa who is reputed to have said:

    "It is forbidden for anyone who does not know my proofs to make a ruling according to my statements, for verily we are only humans we may say something today and reject it tomorrow."

    And after the failure of the Islamic Republic of Iran (see "What Happens When Islamists Take Power? The Case of Iran" if you haven't already) even most Shi'a are tuned out.

    But if Khomeini's model for Islamic government looks by the boards, the same does not necessarily go for his strategy or tactics. Some things to look out for when dealing with other revolutionary Islamist like Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood:

    Though Islamists like Khomeini believe in strongly in absolutes (specifically the absolute correctness of their beliefs and falseness of "deviants" who believe something else), and in the foolishness of compromising those absolutes, that doesn't mean they won't try and give the impression they're willing to compromise, or (more obviously) sometimes be forced to compromise to achieve their ends. Anyone, not just Islamists, who's held a fanatic point of view for longer than a few weeks knows the frustrations of dealing with a general population oblivious to the need for radical upheaval, or easily tempted away from the true path by comfort and normality. To repeat Khomeini early in his career:

    There is much to be said ... but where are the ears to listen to me, where is the perception to understand me? [Islam and Revolution, p.173]

    So when they contradict themselves, how do we know what they're really thinking? In Khomeini's case, Velayat-e Faqih was the real Khomeini, and later comments before the revolutionary about how clerics would only "offer guidance," were not. [7J] But it doesn't follow that the older the writing the more authentic it is. Khomeini's first political activity a half decade before Velayat-e Faqih attacked the Shah's plans for suffrage for women and non-Muslims as being against Islam. During the revolution, the activism of workingclass women was enormously helpful and Khomeini had nothing more to say about their voting being un-Islamic.

    Notes on "What Does It All Mean?"

    [1J] Wright, Robin, In the Name of God, p.21-22. Wright was a reporter for the New Yorker magazine.

    [2J]The Priest and the King : An Eyewitness Account of the Iranian Revolution by Desmond Harney Tauris Publishers, 1998 p.141, 143, 173-4
    Harney had been a British diplomat in Iran before becoming a banker. He observed the revolution for a couple of months and left Tehran at the end of January 1979, just before Khomeini's return.

    [3J] [The New York Times, Feb. 16, 1979, p. A27. Richard Falk was a professor of International Law at Princeton University

    [4J]Khomeini: Life of the Ayatollah by Baqer Moin Thomas Dunne Books, c2000 p.297

    [5J] Khomeini by Moin (p.312-13)

    [5.1J] Repeated from above:

    `And I am confident that the Iranian people, particularly our youth, will keep alive in their hearts anger and hatred for the criminal Soviet Union and the warmongering United States. This must be until the banner of Islam flies over every house in the world". [Khomeini, late 1988, from p.196, In the Name of God : The Khomeini Decade by Robin Wright c1989]

    [5.2J] " ... To project the common cause of all Muslims against `The West,` [Khomeini] totally underplayed the deep historical animosity between the Shi'ites and the Sunni' His physical presence in the Arab World, his deep concerns with the plight of the Palestinians, and his intention to address the Islamic world at large, prevented any particular identification with the exclusionary Shi'i cause." (Dabashi, Theology of Discontent, c1993, p.479)

    [6J] see "Taqlid: Meaning and Reality" http://www.al-islam.org/beliefs/practices/taqlid.html for a Shia defense of taqlid and http://www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.asp?type=rarticle&raid=186 for a criticism of it.

    [7J] NOTE: Is this a characteristic of extremist insurgent politicians? Adolph Hitler also wrote an early book (Mein Kampf) that differed sharply with interviews and speeches he gave to blow smoke in the eyes of worried Europeans. Once he was closer to power. Hitler's book turned out to be a much better predictor of what happened once he was in power. One translation of Velayat-e Faqih is even named after Hitler's book: Ayatollah Khomeini's Mein Kampf : The official United States Government translation of the Ayatollah Khomeini's plan for Islamic Government: (Manor Books, 1979),

    [8J] Mackay, Iranians, (1996), p.?


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