In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
All praise be to God; there is neither might nor strength but from God, the Exalted, the Sublime. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of God, Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and his purified progeny.
The present book, Governance of the Jurist, including relevant footnotes and explanations, is the compendium of thirteen speeches of His Eminence Imām Khomeini delivered during his stay in Najaf from January 21 to February 8, 1970. Now, this book is presented to the knowledgeable researchers and those ardent of the works of Imām Khomeini.
These speeches had been reproduced and disseminated then in various forms as lessons and instruction materials. Later, in autumn of 1970 the texts of the speeches were edited and prepared for printing. Following the approval of Imām Khomeini, it was printed in Beirut (Lebanon) by Imām Khomeini’s friends, then secretly sent to Iran, while copies of which were simultaneously sent to the revolutionary Muslims in Europe, United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
In 1977, before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the book was published in Iran entitled, A Letter from Imām Mūsāwi Kāshif al-Ghitā and Jihād-i Akbar as its supplement. Like the other works of Imām Khomeini, the book Governance of the Jurist had been considered on top of the list of prohibited books for publication during the Shāh’s regime. So many people were imprisoned and tortured on the charge of publishing, possessing, or reading the book.
However, despite all pressures exerted by the SAVAK (the Shāh’s notorious secret police) and restraints imposed by the Shāh’s regime, the notion to support the establishment of an Islamic government whose legislative principles are expounded here by Imām Khomeini, gained a widespread adherence among the revolutionary Muslim forces at the religious seminaries, universities and other notable centers; and with the 15th of Khurdād uprising and Imām Khomeini’s movement, the idea of establishing an Islamic government based on governance of the jurist was crystallized as a fundamental idea.
The Islamic jurists (fuqahā) have generally been involved in the issue of governance of the jurist in different subject matters in fiqh, some briefly and some in details. However, no comprehensive and orderly discourse is found in the fiqh books of predecessors; the reason being the unfavorable political and social conditions prevailing over Islamic countries in the past and the dominance of tyrannical ruling cliques that had made it impossible to touch upon such discussions.
But regardless of the difference among fuqahā on the extent of authorities and the case applicability of governance of the jurist during the period of Occultation,1 there is unanimity among them in general as to the affirmation of a certain kind of guardianship authority for the fully competent faqīh. Opinions of fuqahā on the kind of guardianship and the extent of authorities of the Islamic jurists during the period of Occultation have been recently compiled and published in some books.
According to available sources, the late Āyatullāh Mullā Ahmad Narāqi2 (one of the Qājār dynasty contemporary scholars) has dealt with this subject matter in his book ‘Awā’id al-Ayyām more detailed than the others. He first tried to seek evidence from numerous narrations proving that the faqīh is entrusted with guardianship rights during the Occultation period in the following areas:
In all instances, where the Prophet and the infallible Imāms (‘a) had been authorized and assigned as guardians except in cases, where this had been excluded due to religiously legal requirement.
In all instances related to religious and living duties of people that must be carried out.
By relying on Qur’anic verses, Prophetic traditions, and jurisprudential arguments, he continues the discourse by giving ten examples of applicable cases within the sphere of governance of the jurist such as iftā; administering punishment; protecting the properties of the orphans, insane, and the absent individuals; and taking possession of properties of the infallible Imāms.
Although it can be understood from the late Narāqi’s discussions that he has included governance within the same sphere, he has not openly stressed on it.
After the late Narāqi, Imām Khomeini was the only faqīh to deal tacitly with the governance of the jurist for the first time and proved the point. As indicated earlier, Imām Khomeini had once discussed the question of governance of the jurist in Najaf in thirteen instructional sessions of which the present book is the transcription and edited form of the same course instructions. He further discussed governance of the jurist in the second volume of his five-volume book entitled, Kitāb al-Bay‘ in the same profound style.
In the present book, Governance of the Jurist, Imām Khomeini has laid great emphasis on guardianship (wilāyat) as a principle, serving as the base and foundation for all duties. He especially examines guardianship from governmental and political points of view. Here, in addition to expounding the political and social factors causing the neglect of the most important Islamic issue, he has methodologically examined the question, and based on the same sturdy approach exercised in fiqh, proceeded with introductory practicable programs for realization of governance of the jurist in the government.
He begins by disclosing the plots and conspiracies made by the enemies to annihilate Islam. Then he continues logically to discuss insinuated misgivings, such as “Islam is not a competent religion to govern the society at the age of industrial civilization” or “legal provisions of Islam are inadequate to resolve the social problems, and to provide us with appropriate answers”.
In this regard Imām Khomeini points out that the misgivings suggested by the enemies to pave the way for the faulty notion of separation of religion from politics, have unfortunately been so much effective; even in the seminaries, one dares not to speak freely about the Islamic government. He further indicated the domestic shortcomings and infatuations for the new civilization, all of which are the souvenir of the devilish propaganda of imperialism. He warned the seminaries, the young clergy students, and the Muslim thinkers to endeavor enormously to carry out their political and social duties and be careful not to be deceived. Islam is not opposed to technological and industrial progress; but social problems require ethical and religious solution, and Islam is that all-embracing religion that can solve all problems, provided the thinkers and scholars of the Islamic world would face the challenge.
By expounding the indisputable historical fact that the Most Noble Messenger (s) had appointed a successor, Imām Khomeini posed the question of “whether the successor had been designed just to expound the religious precepts.” Of course not! Expounding religious precepts does not require to be done by the Prophet’s successor. Therefore the appointment had been for rulership, and for enforcement of laws and regulations. It is most important now to believe in the necessity to establish an Islamic government; thus, we can determine the position and role of the successor.
In this book Imām Khomeini has given some instances proving the necessity for establishing an Islamic government, as follows:
Action taken by the Holy Prophet (s) to establish a government;
The fact that divine precepts are to be enforced perpetually; they are enacted not only for the time of the Holy Prophet (s); they are meant for all time.
The nature and characteristic of Islamic laws and regulations like fiscal, national defense, and legal and penal precepts are such that they are not executable without a government.
After giving quite well-reasoned explanation on the necessity of Islamic government, Imām Khomeini refers to the historical background of deviation from this principle during the Umayyad period and its continuation during the Abbasids who had adopted un-Islamic rule, imitating the Iranian monarchical, Roman imperial and the Egyptian pharaonic systems. And the same way continued afterwards. He stresses on the logical demand for alteration of such systems, and that it is therefore necessary to stir up a political revolution. Accordingly, it is necessary to revolt against tyrannical governments to pave the way for the establishment of Islamic government and the enforcement of Islamic precepts, unification of Islamic ummah that have now fallen into the trap of disunity caused by various domestic elements as well as foreigners, and finally, to save the oppressed and the deprived people as a religious duty of all Muslims, especially the scholars. Imām Khomeini further continues emphasizing on the necessity of establishing an Islamic government, by relating the subject to a narration quoted by Fadl ibn Shādān on the philosophy of ordaining governments as provided for in the narration and traditions.
An important part of the book deals with the difference between an Islamic government and other types of governments, pointing out that the Islamic government is a special kind of constitutional government that is anchored on the Islamic laws. Imām Khomeini believes, therefore, that Islamic legislative power or law-making assemblies are bound to devise all governmental plans and programs within the framework of Islamic precepts; not according to regular procedures followed by other states.
Imām Khomeini further deals with the prerequisite qualities of the ruler, as derived directly from the nature of Islamic government. In addition to the regular requirement such as intelligence and prudence, there are two principal prerequisites for the ruler: his knowledge about the law and his justness.
Governance of the faqīh during the Occultation is the next to be dealt with. Following the previous discussion, Imām Khomeini says, “Now we live at the Occultation period. On the one hand, Islamic precepts are to be enforced, (and no one is designated by God Almighty to fulfill this task), and on the other hand, what should we do then?” He examines this subject matter and comes to the conclusion that “God Almighty has given the quality which is required for rulership to a great number of religious scholars from the very outset of Islam to the advent of the Imām of the Age (‘a). This quality is the knowledge about law and justice. A great number of our contemporary scholars (fuqahā) possess this quality and they should join hands. They will be able to establish a just government in the world.” He then points out that governance of the jurist is an extrinsic and rational issue, and the fully competent faqīh is entrusted with all the authorities; that the Prophet and the infallible Imāms (‘a) were entitled too, for governance; and that this guardianship cannot be realized except through entitlement and that it implies in itself no dignity and status, but only a means of carrying out one’s duty and enforcing religious precepts.
The exalted aims of government, and characteristics required for the ruler are then referred to. Relying on traditions, Imām Khomeini deduces that governance of the jurist implies entitlement to government as well as argumentation that constitutes the greater part of the book. The concluding part of the book deals with the necessity for a long-range planning to achieve this divine objective. Here, Imām Khomeini points out the importance of propagation and instructions, while saying, “Meetings must be directed to serve these two important tasks. Struggles must be stirred as ‘Āshūrā to create waves of crowds insisting on the establishment of Islamic government, and prepared for a long-term struggle while not bearing in mind an immediate achievement”.
The necessity for proper attention to instructions and propagations, moral and cultural reformation of seminaries, annihilation of the moral and cultural effects of imperialism, correction of the pseudo-saints, purging the seminaries of the court ‘ulamā, and finally, taking effective measures to overthrow the oppressive and tyrannical governments, are among the concluding discussions of the book.
Esteemed readers’ attentions are drawn to the fact that after his divine uprising, which, thanks to the divine grace, consciousness and unity of the Muslim people, gained victory over monarchical system in Iran on Bahman 22, 1358 Sh./February 11,1979, Imām Khomeini undertook the leadership of the Islamic Revolution and the guardianship function of the nation. It should, therefore, be taken into consideration that comprehending precisely Imām Khomeini’s viewpoints on governance of the jurist, which is explained in this book, can only be realized when full consideration is given to his personal manners and conducts in the course of his rule and his ideas about the extent of authorities and the station of guardianship as expressed through his speeches, messages and letters.3
“O God, foreshorten the arms of the oppressors that are stretched out against the lands of the Muslims and root out all traitors to Islam and the Islamic countries. Awaken the heads of the Muslims states from their deep sleep so that they may exert themselves on behalf of their people’s interests and renounce divisiveness and the quest for personal gain. Grant that the younger generation studying in the religious colleges and the universities may struggle to reach the sacred aims of Islam and strive together, with ranks united, first, to deliver the Islamic countries from the clutches of imperialism and its vile agents, and then to defend them. Grant that the fuqahā and the scholars may strive to guide and enlighten the minds of the people, to convey the sacred aims of Islam to all Muslims, particularly the younger generation, and to struggle for the establishment of an Islamic government. From You is success, and there is neither recourse nor strength except in God, the Exalted, the Sublime.”4
The Institute for Compilation and Publication
of Imām Khomeini’s Works
Imām Khomeini, a Short Biography
Imām Rūhullāh al-Musawi al-Khomeini was born on September 24, 1902 into a family of strong religious traditions in Khumayn, a small town some hundred kilometers to the southwest of Tehran.6 Both his grandfather and father were religious scholars. The former, Sayyid Ahmad, was known as al-Hindi because of a period he had spent in India, where a distant branch of the family is said still to exist. The latter, Āyatullāh Mustafā, was murdered by bandits only five months after the birth of Rūhullāh, so that his mother and an aunt were responsible for his early upbringing. At the age of sixteen, he lost both mother and aunt in the course of a single year, and the task of supervising his education then fell to an elder brother, Sayyid Murtadā (better known, in later years, as Āyatullāh Pasandīdeh). Āyatullāh Pasandīdeh recalls that, even in his youth, Imām Khomeini showed great piety, seriousness, and determination. It was the general consensus in Khumayn that a significant if turbulent career awaited him.7
At the age of nineteen, the young Khomeini was sent to study religious sciences in the nearby town of Arāk under the guidance of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karīm Hā‘iri8 who had been a pupil of great scholars at the Shī‘i teaching centers in Iraq, most notably Mīrzā Hasan Shirāzi.9 His studies under Hā’iri made Khomeini an heir to the traditions established by the great figures of the nineteenth century— traditions that included political activism as well as learning.
The following year, Hā’iri accepted an invitation from the people and scholars of Qum to settle there. Qum had always been a center of learning as well as pilgrimage, but Hā’iri’s arrival there, followed by his reorganization of the religious teaching institution, was the first in a series of development that elevated Qum to the status of spiritual capital of Islamic Iran. The final and decisive development would be the movement of nationwide opposition to the Pahlavi monarchy that Imām Khomeini was to initiate in Qum in 1962.
Indications of Imām Khomeini’s future role were already present in those early years. He attained prominence among the numerous students of Hā’iri, excelling in a wide variety of subjects, but especially ethics and the variety of spiritual philosophy known in Iran as ‘irfān. At the early age of twenty-seven, he wrote a treatise in Arabic on these subjects, Misbāh al-Hidāyah, which was well received by his teachers.10 Many of Imām Khomeini’s important associates who came to be well known during the Revolution years—e.g. Āyatullāh Muntaziri11—recall that they were first attracted to him by his proficiency in ethics and philosophy and that the classes he taught on them twice a week in Qum were frequently attended by hundreds of people.12
Given the current fame of Imām Khomeini as a revolutionary leader who has achieved a rare degree of success in the purely political sphere, it may appear surprising that he first gained fame as a writer and teacher concerned with devotional and even mystical matters. For Imām Khomeini, however, spirituality and mysticism have never implied social withdrawal or political quietism, but rather the building up of a fund of energy that finds its natural expression on the sociopolitical plane.
The life of Imām Khomeini is a clear indication that the Revolution wrought by Islam necessarily begins in the moral and spiritual realm.13 The classes he taught at Qum in the 1930s bore witness to this; topics of an ethical and spiritual nature were constantly interwoven with evocations of the problems of the day and exhortations to his listeners to devote themselves to solving them as part of their religious duty.
The early years of Imām Khomeini’s activity in Qum coincided with the establishment of the Pahlavi state by Rizā Khān. Rizā Khān transformed the Iranian monarchy into a dictatorship of the modern, totalitarian kind and made its chief internal aim the elimination of Islam as a political, social, and cultural religion.
Efforts directed towards this aim were directly witnessed by Imām Khomeini in Qum, and reports reached him regularly from other cities such as Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz. What he saw and heard in those years left a deep impression on him; the repressive measures directed against the religious institution in later years by the second and last of the Pahlavi shāhs, Muhammad Rizā, were for him a natural and direct continuation of what he had experienced in the period of Rizā Shāh; the father and the son were of a piece.
Imām Khomeini’s first public statement of a political nature came in a book published in 1941, Kashf al-Asrār.14 The book is essentially a detailed, systematic critique of an anti-religious tract, but it also contains numerous passages that are overtly political and critics of the Pahlavi rule.
In 1937, Hā’iri died, and the religious institution was temporarily headed by a triumvirate of his closest senior associates: Āyatullāhs Sadr, Hujjat, and Khwansāri. Soon, however, a single leader succeeded to the role of Hā’iri, Āyatullāh Burūjirdi. Imām Khomeini was active in promoting the candidacy of Burūjirdi, whom he expected to utilize the potentialities of the position of supreme religious authority in order to combat the Pahlavi rule. He remained close to Burūjirdi until his death in 1962, but other influences prevailed on Burūjirdi; history regards him as a religious leader of great piety and administrative ability, but almost totally inactive in political matters.15
After the death of Burūjirdi, no single successor to his position emerged. Khomeini was reluctant to allow his own name to be canvassed, but he ultimately yielded to the urgings of close associates that a collection of his rulings on matters of religious practice be published, thus implicitly declaring his availability as leader and authority. It was not, however, primarily through technical procedures such as this that the prominence of Imām Khomeini spread first within Qum, and then throughout the country. Of greater importance was his willingness to confront the Shāh’s regime at a time when few dared to do so. For example, he was alone among the major religious scholars of Qum in extending support publicly to the students at the religious institution who were campaigning against the opening of liquor stores in the city.
Soon his attention was drawn to matters of greater significance. The first step came in October 1962, when the Shāh promulgated a law abolishing the requirement that candidates for election to local assemblies be Muslim and male. Imām Khomeini, joined by religious leaders elsewhere in the country, protested vigorously against the measure; it was ultimately repealed.16 The measure itself was not intrinsically important, because elections to local assemblies were invariably corrupt and their functions were purely formal. But the campaign against it provided a point of departure for more comprehensive agitation against the regime as well as an opportunity to build a coalition of religious scholars that might be mobilized for more fundamental aims in the future.
The next step was taken in 1963, when the Shāh began to promulgate a series of measures for reshaping the political, social and economic life of Iran that were collectively designated the “White Revolution”. The appearance of popular approval was obtained by a fraudulent referendum held on January 26, 1963. However, the measures in question were correctly perceived by a large segment of Iranian society as being imposed on the country by the United States and designed to bring about augmentation of the Shāh’s power and wealth, as well as intensification of the United States dominance, which had been instituted with the CIA coup d’état against Prime Minister Muhammad Musaddiq in August 1953. Imām Khomeini moved immediately to denounce the fraudulent “revolution” and to expose the motives that underlay it, preaching a series of sermons from Fayziyyah Madrasah17 in Qum that had a nationwide impact.
The Shāh’s regime responded by sending paratroopers to attack Fayziyyah Madrasah on March 22, 1963. A number of students were killed and the madrasah was ransacked. Far from intimidating Imām Khomeini, this event marked the beginning of a new period of determined struggle that was directed not only against the errors and excesses of the regime, but against its very existence. The attack on the madrasah had an almost symbolic value, exemplifying as it did both the hostility of the regime to Islam and Islamic institutions and the ruthless, barbaric manner in which it expressed that hostility.
Throughout the spring of 1963, Imām Khomeini continued to denounce the Shāh’s regime. He concentrated his attacks on its tyrannical nature, its subordination to the United States, and its expanding collaboration with Israel. The confrontation reached a new peak in June with the onset of Muharram, the month in the Muslim calendar when the martyrdom of Imām Husayn (‘a), the grandson of the Prophet (s), is commemorated and aspirations to emulate his example, by struggling against contemporary manifestation of tyranny, are awakened. On the tenth day of the month, Imām Khomeini delivered a historic speech in Qum, repeating his denunciations of the Shāh’s regime and warning the Shāh not to behave in such a way that the people would rejoice when he should ultimately be forced to leave the country.18 Two days later, he was arrested at his residence and taken to confinement in Tehran.
The arrest of Imām Khomeini brought popular disgust with the Shāh’s regime to a climax, and a major uprising shook the throne. In Qum, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Kashan, and other cities, unarmed demonstrators confronted the Shāh’s US-trained and -equipped army, which, upon the command to shoot to kill, slaughtered not less than 15,000 people in the space of a few days. The date on which this uprising began, Khurdād 15 according to the solar calendar used in Iran, marked a turning point in the modern history of Iran. It established Imām Khomeini as national leader and spokesperson for popular aspirations, provided the struggle against the Shāh and his foreign patrons with a coherent ideological basis in Islam, and introduced a period of mass political activity under the guidance of the religious leadership instead of the secular parties that had been discredited, with the overthrow of Musaddiq. In all of these ways, uprising of Khurdād 15 foreshadowed the Islamic Revolution of 1978-1979.
The uprising was suppressed, but the general public and the religious scholars refused to tolerate the imprisonment of Imām Khomeini. Agitation persisted throughout the country, and numerous religious leaders converged on Tehran to press for Imām Khomeini’s release. It finally came on April 6,1964, accompanied by a statement in the government-controlled press that Imām Khomeini had agreed to refrain from political activity as a condition for his release. This was immediately refuted by the Imām,19 who resumed his denunciation of the regime with undiminished vigor.
If further proof were needed of the Shāh’s tutelage to the US, it came in October 1964, when legal immunity was granted to American personnel for all offenses committed in Iranian territory. After learning that the Iranian rubber–stamp Majlis (Parliament) had agreed to this measure, Imām Khomeini spent a sleepless night, and the next day, October 27, he furiously denounced this open violation of Iranian sovereignty and independence.20 It had by now become apparent to the Shāh and his foreign overlords that Imām Khomeini could not be intimidated into silence, and it was decided to exile him, in the vain hope of destroying his influence. Accordingly, on November 4,1964 Imām Khomeini was arrested again and sent into exile in Turkey, accompanied by agents of the Shāh’s secret police.
After a brief stay in Ankara, Imām Khomeini was obliged to take up residence in Bursa, a city in the west of Turkey. Continual pressure was brought on the Shāh’s regime to permit Imām Khomeini to leave Turkey for a more favorable place of exile, Najaf, one of the Shī‘i shrine cities of Iraq. In October 1965, consent was given, and Imām Khomeini proceeded to Najaf, which was to be his home for thirteen years.
In agreeing to this move, the Shāh’s regime had been motivated not only by the desire to free itself from popular pressure, but also by the assumption that Imām Khomeini would be overshadowed in Najaf by the religious authorities resident there. This assumption proved false. Imām Khomeini established himself as a major religious presence in Najaf. More importantly, he maintained his influence and popularity in Iran. He issued periodic proclamations concerning developments in Iran that were smuggled into the country and clandestinely circulated at great risk. In addition, his messages addressed to the Muslim world at large were distributed several times in Mecca during pilgrimage season of the year. In Najaf itself, he received visits during the long years of his exile from a number of important Iranian and other Muslim personalities.
The name and person of Imām Khomeini and the cause that he embodied were never forgotten in Iran. His example inspired a number of religious scholars and groups, which continued to build on the foundations laid in 1963 and 1964, and unnoticed by most foreign observers, an Islamic movement of unparalleled breadth and profundity came into being.
It was then entirely natural that Imām Khomeini should swiftly emerge as the leader of the Islamic Revolution of 1978-1979. Notwithstanding his physical absence from the country, he was present in the hearts of his countrymen and infinitely more in tune with their aspirations than politicians who had suffered neither exile nor imprisonment.
On November 23, 1977, the elder son of Imām Khomeini, Hajj Mustafā, died suddenly in Najaf, assassinated by the Shāh’s US-instituted security police, SAVAK. Imām Khomeini bore this blow stoically, but the tragedy inflamed the public in Iran. Massive social corruption and economic dislocation as well as continuing political repression had already aroused universal discontent in Iran, and when the regime aimed its next blow against Imām Khomeini, discontent overflowed into rebellion, and rebellion, in turn, matured into revolution.
On January 8,1978, one week after President Carter had been in Tehran lauding the Shāh as a wise statesman beloved of his people,21 the government-controlled press printed an article supplied by the Ministry of Court attacking Imām Khomeini as an agent of foreign powers. The public reaction was immediate outrage. The following day in Qum, demonstrations broke out that were suppressed with heavy loss of life. This was the first of a series of demonstrations that progressively unfurled across the country, until in the end barely a single region remained untouched by revolutionary fervor. Throughout the spring and summer of 1978, Imām Khomeini issued a series of proclamations and directives, congratulating the people on their steadfastness and encouraging them to persist until the attainment of the final objective—overthrow of the monarchy and institution of an Islamic republic.
The centrality of the Imām in the revolutionary movement was obvious from the beginning. His name was constantly repeated in the slogans that were devised and chanted in the demonstrations; his portrait served as a revolutionary banner; and his return from exile to supervise the installation of an Islamic government was insistently demanded. Acting under another of its erroneous assumptions, the Shāh’s regime requested the Ba’athist government in Iraq, in September 1978, to expel Imām Khomeini from its territory, in the hope of depriving him of his base of operations and robbing the Revolution of its leadership. Imām Khomeini had never enjoyed cordial relations with the various governments that had ruled Iraq since his arrival there in 1965, and he now informed the Ba’athists that he would be happy to leave Iraq for a country that was not subject to the Shāh’s dictates. Syria and Algeria were considered as possible destinations, but in the end, as Imām Khomeini testifies himself, no Muslim country offered him refuge with the assurance of his being able to continue his activity freely.22 So, he went to France, taking up residence at the hamlet of Neauphle-le-Château near Paris in early October 1978.
The move to France proved beneficial. Paradoxically, communication with Iran was easier from France than it had been from Iraq. The declarations and directives that were now being issued with increasing frequency were telephoned directly to Tehran, for further dissemination to a number of centers in the provinces. A never-ending stream of Iranians, from Europe and the United States as well as Iran itself, came to visit and pay homage to the Imām, and to consult with him. The world’s media also descended on the modest residence of the Imām at Neauphle-le-Château, and his words began to reach a global audience.
The month of Muharram that coincided with December 1978 witnessed vast and repeated demonstrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities, demanding the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic republic under the leadership of Imām Khomeini. Despite all the savagery the Shāh had employed, including the slaughter of thousands of unarmed demonstrators, the torture and abuse of detainees, and massacres of the wounded on their hospital beds, and despite the unstinting support he had received from the United States and other foreign powers, the corrupt and murderous rule of the Shāh was approaching its end. His masters decided it was politic for him to leave, and when preparation had been made for the installation of a surrogate administration under Shāhpūr Bakhtiār, the Shāh left Iran for the last time on January 16, 1979. The outburst of joy that followed his departure was a fulfillment of the prophecy Imām Khomeini had made sixteen years earlier.
Once the Shāh left Iran, Imām Khomeini prepared to return to his homeland. When he did, on February 1, he was met with a tumultuous welcome. With his renewed presence in Iran, the fate of the Bakhtiār’s government was sealed. After a final outburst of savagery on February 10 and 11, the old regime collapsed in disgrace, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was born.
In the two eventful years that have elapsed since the triumph of the Revolution, Imām Khomeini has continued to play an indispensable role in consolidating its gains and guiding the destiny of the nation. In a formal sense, his role has been defined by Articles, 107 to 112 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran,23 which incorporate the key political principle of the “governance of the faqīh (vilāyat-i faqīh).24 In a more general sense, however, he has continued to provide the Revolution with its very substance, acting as its highest instance of authority and legitimacy. Countless addresses to different groups of citizens that come to visit him, as well as public speeches to wider audiences on particular significant occasions, have confirmed Imām Khomeini as the teacher and guide of the Islamic Revolution.25
Throughout this long and remarkable career, Imām Khomeini has manifested a unique set of characteristics: spirituality and erudition, asceticism and self-discipline, sobriety and determination, political genius and leadership, compassion for the poor and deprived, and a relentless hatred of oppression and imperialism. Summarizing his assessment of Imām Khomeini, the late Āyatullāh Mutahhari26 compared him with ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib (‘a), that high exemplar of Islamic courage, wisdom, and spirituality. All who had the privilege to come into the presence of the Imām will concur in his judgment.