It is our duty to work toward the establishment of an Islamic government. The first activity we must undertake in this respect is the propagation of our case; that is how we must begin.
It has always been that way, all over the world: a group of people came together, deliberated, made decisions, and then began to propagate their aims. Gradually, the number of like-minded people would increase, until finally they became powerful enough to influence a great state or even to confront and overthrow it, as was the case with the downfall of Muhammad ‘Ali Mīrzā and the supplanting of his absolute monarchy with constitutional government.1 Such movements began with no troops or armed power at their disposal; they always had to resort to propagating the aims of their movement first. The thievery and tyranny practiced by the regime would be condemned and the people awakened and made to understand that the thievery inflicted on them was wrong. Gradually, the scope of this activity would be expanded until it came to embrace all groups of society, and the people, awakened and active, would attain their goal.
You have neither a country nor an army now, but propagating activity is possible for you, because the enemy has been unable to deprive you of all the required means.
You teach the people matters relating to worship, of course, but more important are the political, economic, and legal aspects of Islam. These are, or should be, the focus of our concern. It is our duty to begin exerting ourselves now in order to establish a truly Islamic government. We must propagate our cause to the people, instruct them in it, and convince them of its validity. We must generate a wave of intellectual awakening, to emerge as a current throughout society, and gradually, to take shape as organized Islamic movement made up of the awakened, committed, and religious masses who will rise up and establish an Islamic government.
Propagation and instruction, then, are our two fundamental and most important activities. It is the duty of the fuqahā to promulgate religion and instruct the people in the creed, ordinances, and institutions of Islam, in order to pave the way in society for the implementation of Islamic law and the establishment of Islamic institutions. In one of the traditions we have cited, you will have noticed that the successors of the Most Noble Messenger (s) are described as “teaching the people”—that is, instructing them in religion.
This duty 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. Our responsibilities of propagation and instruction are greater than ever before. 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 printed in the occupied territories.2 It is our duty to prevent this treacherous interference with the text of 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. May God never let us see such a day!
At the same time, a number of orientalists serving as propaganda agents for the imperialist institution are also active in endeavors to distort and misrepresent the truths of Islam. The agents of imperialism are busy in every corner of the Islamic world drawing our youth from us with their evil propaganda. They are not converting them into Jews and Christians; they are corrupting them, making them irreligious and indifferent, which is sufficient for their purposes. In our own city of Tehran now there are centers of evil propaganda run by the churches, the Zionists, and the Bahā’is in order to lead our people astray and make them abandon the ordinances and teachings of Islam. Do we not have a duty to destroy these centers that are damaging Islam? Is it enough for us simply to possess Najaf? (Actually, we do not even have Najaf!)3 Should we be content to sit lamenting in Qum, or should we come to life and be active?
You, the younger generation in the religious institution, must come fully to life and keep the command of God alive. Develop and refine your thinking, and lay aside your concern with the minutiae and subtleties of the religious sciences, because that kind of concentration on petty detail has kept many of us from performing our more important duties. 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 (s), 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 our children and young people astray, who might otherwise be of service to Islam one day. Help save our young people from this danger!
It is your duty to disseminate among the people the religious knowledge you have acquired and to acquaint them with the subjects you have learned. The scholar or the faqīh is accorded praise and glorified in the traditions because he is the one who makes the ordinances, doctrines, and institutions of Islam known to the people and instructs them in the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (s). You must now devote your energies to the tasks of propagation and instruction in order to present Islam more fully to the people.
It is our duty to dispel the doubts about Islam that have been created; until we have erased these doubts from people’s minds, we will not be able to accomplish anything. We must impress upon ourselves and upon the generation—and even the generation after that—the necessity for dispelling these doubts about Islam that have arisen in the minds of many people, even the educated among us, as the result of centuries of false propaganda. You must acquaint the people with the worldview, social institution, and form of government proposed by Islam, so that they may come to know what Islam is and what its laws are.
It is the duty of the teaching institution today in Qum, Mashhad, and elsewhere to propagate Islam, to expound this faith and school of thought. In addition to Islam, you must make yourselves known to the people of the world and also authentic models of Islamic leadership and government. You must address yourselves to the university people in particular, the educated class. The students have had their eyes opened. I assure you that if you present Islam and Islamic government to the universities accurately, the students will welcome it and accept it. The students are opposed to tyranny; they are opposed to the puppet regimes imperialism imposes; they are opposed to thievery and the plundering of public wealth; they are opposed to this consumption of what is forbidden and this deceitful propaganda. But no student could be opposed to Islam, whose form of government and teachings are beneficial to society. The students are looking to Najaf, appealing for help. Should we sit idle, waiting for them to enjoin the good upon us and call us to our duties?4 Our young people studying in Europe are enjoining the good upon us; say to us: “We have organized Islamic associations; now help us!”5
It is our duty to bring all these matters to the attention of the people. We must explain what the form of government is in Islam and how rule was conducted in the earliest days of Islamic history. We must tell them how the center of command and the seat of the judiciary under it were both located in part of the mosque, at a time when the Islamic state embraced the farthest reaches of Iran, Egypt, the Hijaz, and the Yemen. Unfortunately, when government passed into the hands of the next generations, it was converted into a monarchy, or even worse than a monarchy.
The people must be instructed in these matters and helped to mature, intellectually and politically. We must tell them what kind of government we want, what kinds of people would assume responsibility for affairs in the government we propose, and what policies and programs they would follow. The ruler in Islamic society is a person who treats his brother ‘Aqil6 in such a way that he would never request extra support from the public treasury (lest there be economic discrimination among the Muslims), and who requires to account for the guaranteed loan she has obtained from the public treasury, telling her, “If you do not pay back this loan, you will be the be the first woman of the Bani Hāshim7 to have her hand cut off.” That is the kind of ruler and leader we want, a leader who will put the law into practice instead of his personal desires and inclinations; who will treat all members of the community as equals before the law; who will refuse to countenance privilege or discrimination in any form; who will place his own family on an equal footing with the rest of the people; who will cut off the hand of his own son if he commits a theft; who will execute his own brother and sister if they sell heroin (not execute people for possession of ten grams of heroin when his own relative operate gangs that bring into the country heroin by the hundred-weight).8
Many of the ordinances of Islam that refer to worship also pertain to social and political functions. The forms of worship practiced in Islam are usually linked to politics and the gestation of society. For example, congregational prayer, the gathering on the occasion of hajj, and Friday prayer, for all their spirituality, exert a political as well as moral and doctrinal influence. Islam has provided for such gatherings so that religious use might be made of them; so that feelings of brotherhood and cooperation may be strengthened, intellectual maturity fostered, solutions found for political and social problems, with jihād and collective effort as the natural outcome.
In non-Islamic countries, or Islamic countries ruled by non-Islamic governments, whenever they want the people to assemble like this, millions must be spent out of the national treasury or budget, and even then the result is unsatisfactory; such meetings lack spontaneity and spirit and are of no real consequence. In Islam, however, anyone who wishes to perform the hājj departs of his own will and goes on the hājj. Also people go eagerly to take part in congregational prayer. We must take advantage of these assemblies to propagate and teach religion and to develop the ideological and political movement of Islam.
Some people are completely unaware of this; they are only concerned about the correct pronunciation of “wa lā ’dh-dhāllin.”9 When they go on the hājj, instead of exchanging ideas with their Muslim brothers, propagating the beliefs and ordinances of Islam, and seeking solutions to the universal problems and afflictions of the Muslims (for example, rallying to liberate Palestine, which is part of the Islamic homeland)—instead of doing all this, they exacerbate the differences that exist among Muslims. The first Muslims, on the other hand, used to accomplish important business on the occasion of hājj or at their Friday gatherings. The Friday sermon was more than a sūrah from the Qur’an and a prayer followed by a few brief words. Entire armies used to be mobilized by Friday sermon and proceed directly from the mosque to the battlefield—and a man who sets out from the mosque to go into battle will fear only God, not poverty, hardship, or his army will be victorious and triumphant. When you look at the Friday sermons given in that age and the sermons of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), you see that their purpose was to set people in motion, to arouse them to fight and sacrifice themselves for Islam, to resolve the sufferings of the people of this world.
If the Muslims before us had gathered every Friday and reminded themselves of their common problems, and solved them or resolved to solve them, we would not be in the position we find ourselves in today. Today we must start organizing these assemblies in earnest and make use of them for the sake of propagation and instruction. The ideological and political movement of Islam will thus develop and advance toward its climax.
Make Islam known to the people, then, and in so doing, create something akin to ‘Āshūrā.10 Just as we have steadfastly preserved the awareness of ‘Āshūrā (peace be upon its founder) and not let it be lost, so that people still gather during Muharram and beat their breasts, we should now take measures to create a wave of protest against the state of the government; let the people gather, and the preachers and rawzakhwāns11 firmly fix the issue of government in their minds.
If you present Islam accurately and acquaint people with its worldview, doctrines, principles, ordinances, and social system, they will welcome it ardently (God knows, many people want it). I have witnessed that myself. A single word was enough once to cause a wave of enthusiasm among the people, because then, like now, they were all dissatisfied and unhappy with the state of affairs. They are living now in the shadow of the bayonet, and repression will let them say nothing. They want someone to stand up fearlessly and speak out. So, courageous sons of Islam, stand up! Address the people bravely; tell the truth about our situation to the masses in simple language; arouse them to enthusiastic activity, and turn the people in the street and the bazaar, our simple-hearted workers and peasants, and our alert students into dedicated mujāhids.12 The entire population will become mujāhids. All segments of society are ready to struggle for the sake of freedom, independence, and the happiness of the nation, and their struggle needs religion. Give the people Islam, then, for Islam is the school of jihād, the religion of struggle; let them amend their characters and beliefs in accordance with Islam and transform themselves into a powerful force, so that they may overthrow the tyrannical regime imperialism has imposed on us and set up an Islamic government.
Only those fuqahā who make people acquainted with the beliefs and institutions of Islam, and who defend and protect them, are truly “citadels of Islam.”13 They must deliver rousing, impassioned speeches and lead the people in order to fulfill this function. Only then, if they live to be, say, 120, will the people feel that Islam has suffered a misfortune with their passing away and that a gap has appeared in the Muslim community, or as the tradition puts it, “A crack will appear in the fortress of Islam.” Will some irremediable deficiency occur in Islamic society now if one of us dies after spending his life at home reading books? What loss could our death mean? But when Islam lost Imām Husayn (‘a), then indeed the loss was irreparable. A loss occurs with the death of people who have preserved the doctrines, laws, and social institutions of Islam, like Khwājah Nāsir ad-Dīn Tūsi14 or ‘Allāmah Hilli.15 But what have you or I done for Islam that our passing should remind men of that tradition? If a thousand of us were to die, nothing would happen. The only explanation for this is that either we are not true fuqahā or we are not true believers.
No reasonable person expects our activities of propagation and instruction to lead quickly to the formation of an Islamic government. In order to succeed in establishing an Islamic government, we must have several kinds of continuous activities. Ours is a goal that will take time to achieve. Sensible people in this world lay one stone in position on the ground in the hope that someone two hundred years later will come to finish a building mounted upon it so that the goal will finally be reached. Once the caliph said to an old man who was planting a walnut tree: “Old man! Why plant this walnut tree, which will not bear fruit until fifty years from now, by which time you will be dead?” The man replied: “Others planted so that we might eat. We are planting so that others may eat.”
We must preserve in our efforts even though they may not yield their result until the next generation, for our service is devoted to Islam and the cause of human happiness. If it were for a personal cause, we might say: “Why trouble ourselves! Our efforts cannot benefit us, but only those who come later.” If the Doyen of the Martyrs (‘a), who risked and indeed sacrificed all his material interests, had thought that way, acting only for himself and his personal benefits, he would have compromised with Yazīd16 at the very beginning and settled the whole affair—the Umayyad rulers were only too anxious for him to swear allegiance to them and accept them as rulers. What could have been better for them than to have the grandson of the Prophet (s), the Imām of the Age, call them “Commander of the Faithful” and recognize their rule? But his concern was the future of Islam and the Muslims. So that Islam might be propagated among men in the future, and its political and social order established in society, he opposed the Umayyads, fought against them, and ultimately sacrificed himself.
Examine carefully one of the traditions I have cited above. You will see that Imām as-Sādiq (‘a) was subjected to pressure by oppressive rulers and therefore chose taqiyyah. He had no executive power, and most of the time he was confined under surveillance. Nevertheless, he kept informing the Muslims of their duties and appointing judges for them. What was the reason for this, and what benefit was there in appointing and dismissing judges?
Great men, with broad horizons of thought, never despair or pay attention to the circumstances in which they find themselves—imprisonment or captivity, for example, which may continue indefinitely; instead, they continue making plans for the advancement of their cause. Either they will carry out their plans themselves, or if they are not granted the opportunity, others will follow their plans, even if it is two or three hundred years later. The foundations of many great movements in history were laid in this way. Sukarno, the former president of Indonesia, conceived and drew up his plans in prison and later put them into practice.
Imām as-Sādiq (‘a) not only laid down plans; he also made appointments to certain posts. If his appointments had been intended for that time, naturally they would have been pointless, but in reality, he was thinking of the future. He was not like us, thinking only of ourselves and concerned with our personal predicaments; he was concerned with the ummah, with humanity as a whole, and he wished to reform mankind by implementing the laws of justice. Thus, more than a thousand years ago, he had to lay down a pattern of government and make his appointments, so that on the day when the nations awoke and the Muslims came to their senses, there would be no confusion and the form of Islamic government and its leadership would be known.
Generally speaking, Islam, and the Shī‘i school of thought, and indeed, all religions and schools of thought have advanced and progressed in this fashion. They all started with nothing but a plan, which came to fruition later because of the fortitude and dedication of the respective leaders and prophets.
Moses was a mere shepherd, and for years he followed that calling. When he was summoned to do battle with the pharaoh, he had no supporter or helper. But as a result of his innate ability and his steadfastness, he overthrew the rule of the pharaoh with a staff. Now imagine that staff in the hands of you or me would we have been able to achieve the same result? It takes the determination, seriousness, and resourcefulness of a Moses to make that staff capable of overthrowing a pharaoh; not everyone can perform such a feat.
When the Most Noble Messenger (s) was given his prophetic mission and began to propagate his massage, an eight-year old child (the Commander of the Faithful, upon whom be peace) and a forty-year old woman (his wife Khadījah) were the only people who believed in him; he had no one else. Everyone knows of the vexations that plagued the Prophet, the obstacles that were placed in his way, the oppositions that he faced. Yet he never despaired or said, “I am all alone.” He persisted and, with his spiritual power and firm resolve, was able to advance his cause from nothing to the point it has reached today, where seven hundred million people are gathered under his banner.
The Shī‘i school of thought also began from zero. On the day that the Most Noble Messenger (s) laid its foundations, he was greeted with mockery. He invited people to his house and told them, “The man who possesses such-and-such qualities is to be my minister,” meaning the Commander of the Faithful (‘a). At the time, the Commander of the Faithful had not yet reached adulthood, although he always possessed a great spirit, the greatest in the world. But no one rose to pay him respect, and some one even turned to Abū Tālib17 and said to him in jest, “You are to march under the banner of your son now!”
Also on the day of the Prophet’s announcement to the people that the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) was to succeed him and govern, some expressed apparent admiration and satisfaction, but the opposition to him began on that very day and continued down to the end. If the Most Noble Messenger (s), had appointed him only as an authority to be consulted on legal problems, there would have been no opposition to him. Since he assigned him the rank of successor, however, and said that he was to rule over Muslims and be entrusted with the destiny of the Islamic nation, various sorts of discontent and opposition arose. If you, too, were to sit at home today, and not intervene in the affairs of the country, no one would disturb you. They trouble you only when you try to intervene in the destiny of the nation. It was because they intervened in the affairs of government and the country that the Commander of the Faithful and his followers were harassed and persecuted. But they did not abandon their activity and their struggle, with the result that today, thanks to their labors, there are about two hundred million Shī‘ah in the world.
To present Islam properly to the people, the religious teaching institutions must be reformed. The syllabi and methods of propagation and instruction must be improved; apathy, laziness, despair, and lack of self-confidence must be replaced by diligence, endeavor, hope and self-confidence; the effects left on the minds of some people by foreigners’ insinuating propaganda must be erased; the attitudes of the pseudo-saintly persons, who, despite their position within the teaching institution, make it difficult for people to gain a true appreciation of Islam and the necessity for social reforms, must be changed; and the court-affiliated ākhūnds,18 who have sold their religion for worldly gain, must be divested of their garb and expelled from the religious institution.
The agents of imperialism, together with the educational and political apparatuses of the anti-national puppet governments they have installed, have been spreading poison for centuries and corrupting the minds and morals of the people. Those who have entered the religious institutions have naturally brought with them traces of this corruption, for the religious institution make up part of society and the people. We must therefore strive to reform, intellectually and morally, the members of the religious institution and to remove the traces left on their minds and spirits by the insinuating propaganda of the foreigners and the policies of corrupt and treacherous governments.
One can easily observe the effects of which I speak. For example, sometimes I see people who sit in the centers of religious institution saying to each other, “These matters are beyond us; what business are they of ours? All we are supposed to do is to offer our prayers and to give our opinions on questions of religious law.” Ideas like these are the result of several centuries of malicious propaganda on the part of the imperialists penetrating deeply into the very heart of Najaf, Qum, Mashhad, and other religious centers, causing apathy, depression, and laziness to appear; and preventing people from maturing, so that they constantly make excuses for themselves and say, “These matters are beyond us!”
These ideas are wrong. What are the qualifications of those who now rule the Muslims countries? What gives them the ability to rule that we allegedly lack? Who among them has any more ability than the average person? Many of them have never studies anything! Where did the ruler of the Hijāz ever go to study? As for Rizā Khān, he was totally illiterate, an illiterate soldier, no more! It has been the same throughout history: many arbitrary and tyrannical rulers have been totally lacking in any capacity to govern the society or administer the nation and devoid of learning and accomplishment. What did Hārūn ar-Rashīd19 ever study, or any other man who ruled over realms as vast as his? Study—the acquisition of knowledge and expertise in various science—is necessary for making plans for a country and for exercising executive and administrative functions; we too will make use of people with those qualifications. But as for the supervision and supreme administration of the country, the dispensing of justice, and the establishment of equitable relations among the people—these are precisely the subjects that the faqīih has studied. Whatever is needed to preserve national independence and liberty is, again, precisely what the faqīh has to offer. For it is the faqīh, who refuses to submit to others or fall under the influence of foreigners, and who defends the rights of the nation and the freedom, independence, and territorial integrity of the Islamic homeland, even at the cost of his life. It is the faqīh, who does not deviate either to the left or to the right.
Rid yourselves of your depression and apathy. Improve your methods and program of propagation, try diligently to present Islam accurately, and resolve to establish an Islamic government. Assume the lead and join hands with the militant and freedom-loving people. An Islamic government will definitely be established; have confidence in yourselves. You have the power, courage, and sense of strategy it takes to struggle for national liberty and independence, you have succeeded in waking the people and inspiring them to struggle, casing imperialism and tyranny to tremble. Day by day, you are accumulating more experience and your ability to deal with the affairs of society is increasing. Once you have succeeded in overthrowing the tyrannical regimes, you will certainly be capable of administering the state and guiding the masses.
The entire system of government and administration, together with the 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.
Fortunately, the Muslim peoples are ready to follow you and your allies. What we are lacking are the necessary resolve and armed power, and these, too, we shall acquire, God willing. We need the staff of Moses and the resolve of Moses; we need people who are able to wield the staff of Moses and the sword of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).
But the gutless people who now sit in the religious centers are certainly not capable of establishing and maintaining a government; for they are so gutless that they cannot wield even a pen or undertake any activity at all. The foreigners and their agents have filled our ears with their propaganda so often that we have begun to believe we are incapable of anything: “Go mind your own business! Attend to your schools, your classes, your studies. What business of yours are these matters? They are beyond your capacity!” I cannot disabuse some people of these notions and make them understand that they must become leaders of humanity; that they are at least the equals of others and are capable of administrating the country. What qualifications do others have that they lack? All one can say is that some of the others went abroad to enjoy themselves, and maybe studied a little while they were there. (We do not say they should not study. We are not opposed to study or learning. Let them go to the moon, found an atomic industry; we will not stand in their way. However, we have duties as well.)
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 any thing away from them; we will leave anyone in his place who faithfully follows Islam.
Today, we have 700 million Muslims in the world, 170 million or more of whom are Shī‘ah. They are all ready to follow us, but we are so lacking in resolve that we are unable to lead them. We must establish a government that will enjoy the trust of the people, one in which the people have confidence and to which they will be able to entrust their destiny. We need trustworthy rulers who will guard the trust the people have placed with them, so that protected by them and the law, the peoples will be able to live their lives and go about their tasks in tranquility. These are the things to which you should be devoting your thought. Do not despair; do not imagine that this task is impossible. God knows that your capacity and courage are not less than those of others—unless, of course, the meaning of courage is oppressing and slaughtering the people; that kind of courage we certainly do not have.
Once that man came to see me while I was in prison20 along with Āqā-yi Qummi21 (may God preserve him), who is under arrest again now. He said: “Politics is all dirt, lying, and viciousness; why don’t you leave it to us?”
What he said was true in a sense; if that is what politics really consists of, it belongs exclusively to them. But the politics of Islam, of the Muslims, of the guiding Imāms who lead God’s servants by means of politics, is quite different from the politics he was speaking of.
Afterwards, he told the newspapers: “An agreement has been reached to the effect that the religious leaders will not interfere in politics.” As soon as I was released, I denied his statement from the minbar. I said: “He is lying; if Khomeini or anyone else gives such a pledge, he will be expelled from the religious institution!”22
At the outset, they plant in your minds the suggestion that politics means lying and the like so that you lose all interest in national affairs and they can proceed with their business undisturbed, doing whatever they like and indulging all their vices. Meanwhile, you are to sit here offering prayers for their welfare: “May God perpetuate their rule!” They, of course, do not have the intelligence to elaborate such a plan themselves (thank God!); it is their masters and the experts who advise them that devised this plan. The British imperialists penetrated the countries of the East more than three hundred 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.
Once when I was in Hamadān, a former student of the religious sciences, who had forsaken the religious garb but preserved his Islamic ethics, came to see me and he 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 came to the conclusion that the only barriers blocking their way are Islam and the religious leadership.
They 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 fuqahā and the ‘ulamā, who stand at the head of Islam society, by slanderous accusations and other means. For example, that shameless agent of imperialism wrote in his book23: “Six hundred of the ‘ulamā of Najaf and Iran were on the payroll of the British. Shaykh Murtadā24 took the money for only two years before he realized where it was coming from. The proof may be found in documents preserved in the India Office archives.” Imperialism tells him to insult the ‘ulamā so that it may reap the benefits. Imperialism dearly wants to present all the ‘ulamā as being on its payroll so that they will lose the respect of the people and the people will turn away from them. At the same time, they have tried with their propaganda and insinuations to present Islam as a petty, limited affair, and to restrict the functions of the fuqahā and ‘ulamā to insignificant matters. They have constantly tried to persuade us that the only duty of the fuqahā is to give their opinion on legal problems.
Some people, lacking in correct understanding, have believed them and gone astray. They have failed to realize that all this is part of a plan designed to destroy our independence and establish control over all aspects of life in the Islamic countries. Unwittingly, they have assisted the propaganda organs of imperialism in carrying out its politics and reaching its goals. The propaganda institutions of imperialism have sought to persuade us that religion must be separate from politics, that the religious leaders must not interfere in social matters, and that the fuqahā do not have the duty of overseeing the destiny of the Islamic nation. Unfortunately, some people have believed them and fallen under their influence, with the result that we see. This result is what the imperialists have always desired, desire now, and will desire in the future.
Look at the religious teaching centers and you will see the effects of this imperialist propaganda. You will see negligent, lazy, idle, and apathetic people who do nothing but discuss points of law and offer their prayers, and are incapable of anything else. You will also encounter ideas and habits that are born of the same imperialist propaganda—for example, the idea that to speak is incompatible with the dignity of the ākhūnd; the ākhūnd and the mujtahīd should not be able to speak, or if they are, they should not say anything except, “Lā ilāha illa ’Llāh,” or may be one word more! But that is wrong, and contrary to the Sunnah of God’s Messenger (s). God has praised speech and expression, as well as writing and the use of pen. For example, He says in Sūrat ar-Rahmān: “He taught him [man] expression” (55: 4), counting the instruction in speech that He gave man as a great blessing and a source of nobility. Speech and expression are necessary for promulgating the ordinances of God and the teachings and doctrines of Islam; it is by means of them that we can instruct the people in their religion and fulfill the duty indicated in the phrase: “They instruct the people.”25 The Most Noble Messenger and the Commander of Faithful both delivered speeches and sermons; they were men of eloquence.
These foolish ideas that exist in the minds of some people help the imperialists and the oppressive governments in their attempts to keep the Muslim countries in their present state and to block the progress of the Islamic movement. Such ideas are characteristic of those who are known as saintly but in reality are pseudo-saints, not true ones. We must change the way they think and make clear our attitudes toward them, for they are blocking our movement and the reforms we want to carry out, and are keeping our hands tied.
The late Burūjirdī,26 the late Hujjat,27 the late Sadr,28 and the late Khwansari29 (may God be pleased with all of them) had gathered in our house one day to discuss some political matter. I said to them: “Before anything else, you must decide what to do with these pseudo-saints. As long as they are there, our situation is like that of a person who is attacked by an enemy while someone else keeps his hands bound behind him. These persons who are known as saints but are pseudo-saints, not real ones, are totally unaware of the state of society, and if you want to do something—take over the government, assume control of the Majlis, stop the spread of corruption—they will destroy your standing in society. Before everything else, you must decide what to do with them.”
The state of Muslim society today is such that these false saints prevent Islam from exerting its proper influence; acting in the name of Islam, they are inflicting damage upon Islam. The roots of this group that exists in our society are to be found in the centers of the religious institution. In the centers at Najaf, Qum, Mashhad, and elsewhere, there are individuals who have this pseudo-saintly mentality, and from their base within the religious institution, they infect the rest of society with their evil ideas and attitudes. They will oppose anyone who tells the people: “Come now, awaken! Let us not live under the banners of others! Let us not be subject to the imposition of Britain and America! Let us not allow Israel to paralyze the Muslims!”
First, we must advise these pseudo-saints and try to awaken them. We must say to them: “Can you not see the danger? Do you not see that the Israelis are attacking, killing, and destroying and the British and Americans are helping them? You sit there watching, but you must wake up; you must try to find a remedy for the ills of the people. Mere discussion is not enough. Simply pronouncing opinions on points of law is of no use by itself. Do not keep silent at a time when Islam is being destroyed, Islam is being wiped out, like Christians who sat discussing the Holy Ghost and the Trinity until they were destroyed.30 Wake up! Pay some attention to reality and the questions of the day. Do not let yourselves be so negligent. Are you waiting for the angels to come and carry you on their wings? Is it the function of the angles to pamper the idle? The angels spread their wings beneath the feet of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) because he was of benefit to Islam: he made Islam great, secured the expansion of Islam in the world and promoted its interests. Under his leadership, a free, vital, virtuous society came into being and won fame; everyone had to bow before him its might, even the enemy. But why should anyone bow before you, whose only activity is offering opinions on points of law?
If our pseudo-saints 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. Then, of course, we will adopt a different attitude toward them.
The centers of the religious institution are places for teaching, instruction, propagation, and leadership. They belong to the just fuqahā, learned scholars, teachers, and students. They belong to those who are the trustees and successors of the prophets. They represent a trust, and it is obvious that a divine trust cannot be placed in the hands of anyone. Whoever wishes to assume such a weighty responsibility, to administer the affairs of the Muslims and to act as the deputy of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), to settle matters concerning the honor, property, and lives of the people, as well as the booty taken in war and the penal provisions of the law—such a person must be totally disinterested in the world and devoid of worldly ambition. Anyone whose efforts are oriented to this world—even in matters that are inherently legitimate—cannot be the trustee of God, and is not worthy of our trust. Any faqīh who joins the state apparatus of the oppressors and becomes a hanger-on of the court is not a trustee and cannot exercise God’s trust. God knows what misfortunes Islam has suffered—from its inception down to the present at the hands of these evil ‘ulamā! Abū Hurayrah was one of the fuqahā, but God knows what judgments he falsified for Mu‘āwiyah and others like him, and what damage he inflicted upon Islam. When an ordinary person enters the service of an oppressive government, he is to be accounted a sinner, but no greater harm will come of it. But, when a faqīh like Abū Hurayrah31 or a judge like Shurayh joins such a government, he improves its standing while besmirching the reputation of Islam. When a faqīh enters the service of an oppressive government, it is as if the whole ulamā entered it along with him; it is no longer a question of a single individual. It is for this reason that the Imāms (‘a) strictly forbade their followers to join the government service, and told them that the situation they found themselves in had come about because some of them had done so.
The obligations that are incumbent on the fuqahā do not apply to others; on account of their position and function, fuqahā must avoid and relinquish even things that are otherwise licit. In cases where others are permitted to resort to taqiyyah, fuqahā may not. The purpose of taqiyyah is the preservation of Islam and the Shī‘i school; if people had not resorted to it, our school of thought would have been destroyed. Taqiyyah relates to the branches (furū’) of religion; for example—performing ablution in different ways. But when the chief principles of Islam and its welfare are endangered, there can be no question of silence or taqiyyah. If they try to force a faqīh to mount the minbar and speak in a way contrary to God’s command, can he obey them, telling himself “Taqiyyah is my religion and the religion of my forefathers”?32 The question of taqiyyah does not even arise here. If a faqīh anticipates that by his entering the service of an oppressive government, oppression will be furthered and the reputation of Islam soiled, he must not enter its service even if he is killed as a result. There is no acceptable excuse he can offer, unless his entry into the service of the state has some rational basis, as was the case with ‘Ali ibn Yaqtīn,33 whose motives in joining state service are well-known, and with Khwāja Nāsir Tūsi34 (may God be pleased with him), whose actions resulted in benefits also well- known.
The true fuqahā of Islam are, of course, free of all guilt in this respect. From the beginning of Islam down to the present, their example is clear, and shines before us like a light; they are untouched by guilt. The ākhūnds who joined the service of governments in past ages did not belong to our school. Not only did our fuqahā oppose the rulers; they also suffered imprisonment and torture because of their disobedience.35 Let no one imagine that the ‘ulamā of Islam have ever entered the service of the state or do so now. Upon occasion, of course, they have entered it in order to bring the state under their control or transform it; were such a thing possible now, it would be our duty to do so. But that is not what I am speaking of. Our problem is the people who wear turbans on their heads, have read a few books somewhere or other (or nor read them, as the case may be), and joined the service of the government in order to fill their stomachs or increase the scope of their authority. What are we to do with them?
Those persons are not Muslim fuqahā; they are people whom SAVAK has issued a turban and told to pray. If SAVAK cannot force the congregational imāms to be present on the occasion of government-sponsored festivities and other ceremonies, it will have its own people on hand ready to say: “Greater be his glory!” (Yes, they have recently begun to say, “Greater be his glory” when they mention the name of the Shāh.) These persons are not fuqahā; the people have recognized them for what they are. A certain tradition warns us to guard our religion against these people, lest they destroy it. They must be exposed and disgraced so that they may come to lose whatever standing they enjoy among the people. If their standing in society is not destroyed, they will destroy the standing of the Imām of the Age and the standing of Islam itself.
Our youths must strip them of their turbans. The turbans of these ākhūnds, who cause corruption in Muslim society while claiming to be fuqahā and ‘ulamā, must be removed. I do not know if our young people in Iran have died; where are they? Why do they not strip these people of their turbans? I am not saying they should be killed; they do not deserve to be killed. But take off their turbans! Our people in Iran, particularly the zealous youths, have a duty not to permit these ākhūnds, these reciters of “Greater be his glory!” to appear in society and move among the people wearing 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. The turban is a noble garment; not everyone is fit to wear it.
As I have said, the true ‘ulamā of Islam are free of all guilt in this respect; they have never joined the service of the government. Those who are affiliated with the government are parasites trying to grow fat on religion and on the ‘ulamā, but they have nothing to do with the ‘ulamā, and people recognize them for what they are.
We too have difficult tasks facing us. We must improve ourselves spiritually and improve our way of life. We must become more ascetic than before and completely shun the goods of this world. All of you must equip yourselves to protect the divine trust that has been vested in your. Become worthy trustees, and hold the world in less esteem. You cannot be like the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), who said that the world was no more to him than the snot of a goat; but turn away from the desire for worldly gain, purify your souls, turn toward God Almighty, cultivate piety. If your purpose in studying is—God forbid—to secure your future livelihood, you will never become fuqahā or trustees of Islam. Prepare yourselves to be useful to Islam; act as the army for the Imām of the Age in order to be able to serve him in spreading the rule of justice. The mere existence of righteous people has a beneficial effect on society—as I myself have observed, one becomes purified by walking with them and keeping company with them. Act so that your deeds, conduct, character, and aversion to worldly ambition will have an uplifting effect on people. They will imitate your example, and you will become models for them and soldiers of God. Only thus can you make Islam and Islamic government known to the people.
I am not telling you to abandon your studies. Indeed you must study, become fuqahā, devote yourselves to fiqh, and not permit fiqh to decline in the centers of the religious institution. Unless you are fuqahā, you will not be able to serve Islam. But while you study, be concerned, too, with representing Islam accurately to the people. Islam is now a stranger; no one knows Islam properly. You must convey Islam and its ordinances to the people so that they understand what Islam is, what Islamic government is, what prophethood and imamate mean, and in the broadest terms, why Islam was revealed and what its goals are. Thus Islam will gradually become known, and, God willing, an Islamic government will one day be established.
Let us overthrow tyrannical governments by: (1) severing all relations with governmental institutions; (2) refusing to cooperate with them; (3) refraining from any action that might be construed as aiding them; and (4) creating new judicial, financial, economic, cultural, and political institutions.
It is the duty of all of us to overthrow tāghūt; i.e., the illegitimate political powers that now rule the entire Islamic world. The governmental apparatus of tyrannical and anti-popular regimes must be replaced by institutions serving the public good and administered according to Islamic law. In this way, an Islamic government will gradually come into existence. In the Qur’an, God Almighty has forbidden men to obey the tāghūt—illegitimate regimes—and encouraged them to rise up against kings, just as He commanded Moses to rebel. There are a number of traditions encouraging people to fight against oppressors and those who wish to pervert religion. The Imāms (‘a), joined by their followers, the Shi‘ah, have always fought against tyrannical governments and illegitimate regimes, as one can easily see by examining their biographies and way of life. Most of the time they were subject to the pressures of tyrannical and oppressive rulers, and were compelled to observe taqiyyah out of extreme fear---not fear for themselves, of course, but fear for their religion, as is evident from an examination of the relevant traditions. Tyrannical rulers, for their part, stood in terror of the Imāms. They were aware that if they gave the Imāms the slightest opportunity, they would rebel and deprive them of their life, which was synonymous with pleasure-seeking and licentiousness. This is the reason we see Hārūn arresting Imām Mūsā ibn Ja‘far36 (‘a) and imprisoning him for several years, and after him, Ma’mūn37 transporting Imām Ridā (‘a) to Marv38 and confining him there for many years before finally poisoning him. Hārūn and Ma’mūn acted as they did not because the Imāms were sayyids—i.e., descendants of the Prophet—and the rulers were opposed to the prophet; indeed, both Hārūn and Ma’mūn were Shī‘ah.39 They were motivated entirely by considerations of state: they knew that the descendants of ‘Ali laid claim to the caliphate and that their earnest desire was to establish an Islamic government, considering this to be their duty. One day, it was suggested to Imām Mūsā ibn Ja‘far that he delineate the boundaries of Fadak40 so that it might be returned to him. According to a certain tradition, he drew a map of the entire Islamic realm and said, “Everything within these boundaries is our legitimate right. We should rule over it, and you are usurpers.” The tyrannical rulers thus saw that if Imām Musa ibn Ja‘far were free, he would make life impossible for them and might lay the groundwork for a rebellion and the overthrow of their rule. So they did not give him the slightest opportunity. Have no doubt that if he had had the chance, he would indeed have rebelled and overthrow the ruling usurpers.
Ma’mūn similarly kept Imām Ridā under surveillance, cunningly and hypocritically addressing him as “Cousin” and “Descendant of God’s Messenger” out of fear that one day he might rise and destroy the foundation of his rule. Since he was indeed a descendant and a legatee of the Prophet (s), he could not be allowed to go free in Medina. The tyrannical rulers desired rule and were ready to sacrifice everything for its sake; they had no personal enmity with anyone. If—God forbid—the Imām (‘a) had frequented their court, he would have been shown the utmost veneration and respect; they would even have kissed his hand. According to tradition, when Imām Ridā came into the presence of Hārūn, the ruler ordered that the Imām be carried on horseback all the way to his throne and showed him all possible veneration. But when it was time to distribute the shares that were to be given from the treasury and it was the turn of the Bani Hāshim to receive their share, Hārūn awarded them only a very small amount. His son Ma’mūn who was present was surprised as the contrast between the veneration he had just witnessed and the allotment he now saw being made. Hārūn told him: “You do not understand. The Bani Hāshim must remain in this state. They must always be poor, imprisoned, banished, afflicted, even poisoned or killed; otherwise, they will rise up against us in revolt and ruin our lives.”
The Imāms (‘a) not only fought against tyrannical rulers, oppressive governments, and corrupt courts themselves, they also summoned the Muslims to wage jihād against those enemies. There are more than fifty traditions in Wasā’il ash-Shī‘ah,41 the Mustadrak,42 and other books calling on the Muslims to shun tyrannical rulers and governments and to fill with earth the months of those who praise them, and threatening anyone who does so much as lend their panegyrists a pen or fill their inkwells. In short, the Imāms have given orders that all relations with such rulers be severed and that no one collaborate with them in any way. In contrast to these traditions are others that praise the learned scholars and the just faqīh, and emphasize their superiority over other men. Taken together, these two classes of traditions form a program for the establishment of an Islamic government. First, the people are induced to turn away from the tyrannical government of the oppressors and destroy their house of oppression; then the houses of fuqahā are to open their doors to the people: fuqahā who are just and ascetic and who fight in God’s way to implement the laws of Islam and establish its social systems.
The Muslims will be able to live in security and tranquility and preserve their faith and morals only when they enjoy the protection of a government based on justice and law, a government whose form, administrative system, and laws have been laid down by Islam. It is our duty now to implement and put into practice the plan of a government established by Islam. I hope that by presenting the system of government and the political and social principles of Islam to broad segments of humanity, we will create a strong new current of thought and a powerful and popular movement that will result in the establishment of an Islamic government.
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.